Richard Thompson's Website

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Chronicle for 2015

Last year's chronicle was late, and covered my move to Market Harborough early this year, so this report covers only the last ten and a half months of 2015.

The highlight of the year was selling the house in Leicester. We completed on 2 June, exactly a year after I completed the purchase of my present house.

For a month or so before the sale I was busy answering a host of questions from the buyer's solicitor, mostly involving telling them what they already knew. For a while I thought they were playing for time, then they suddenly demanded that we exchange contracts and complete all in the space of four days, and were rather cross when I made them wait an extra three days so we could finish moving stuff out.

For a month or so after completing I was busy cancelling standing orders and claiming rebates for Council Tax, utilities and insurance. I also had great fun shredding lots of documents no longer needed.

The unpacking of various boxes is still incomplete. I spent quite a lot of Christmas day unpacking three boxes of crockery, and I can't even find the box in which I packed the wine glasses.

Installation of a new telephone system with six handsets connected wirelessly to the base set makes it much easier to answer the phone - while in the house I'm rarely out of reach of a handset.

A sign of how much the buying and selling of houses distracted me is the decline in the number of times I've posted to my blog or updated my web site during the last two years. I shall try to be more energetic next year.

We've made quite a lot of progress with the garden, or rather Jon and Liam have made a lot of progress with a little help from me.

When I bought the house the garden was overgrown with several disintegrating raised beds, a rampant pyrocantha and thickets of ivy. We removed everything and constructed two new raised beds separated by a structure called a Chinese Tea House delivered in kit form an put up by Jon. However there's still quite a bit to be done in the garden because once we'd removed the ivy we found that part of the garden wall was about to collapse. It has taken us quite a while to find someone to rebuild it. Although we have built up a team of reliable workmen, until recenly they did not include a bricklayer. We found one by doing a good deed.

There is a website for people in Market Harborough who have any surplus possessions they are willing to give away to anyone prepared to collect them, and used it to offer a spare chest of drawers. The lady who collected it turned out to be married to a bricklayer. He is due to start work in January.

Once the wall is rebuilt we'll create another raised bed with a pond in the middle we already have the pond liner and a small fountain.

I did get a greenhouse installed in time to grow tomatoes and cucumbers, all of varieties not on the official list approved for sale. I got them from Garden Organic which maintains endangered varieties. I also grew lettuces and sorrel in a large wooden trough. Other edible crops were strawberries grown in hanging baskets and various herbs growing in pots. Most of the herbs game from the garden in Leicester, as did the hellebore that originally came from James's mother's garden.

In the Autumn I planted a lot of bulbs, and many have already produced leaves, though I don't have the premature flowers many people report this year.

A couple of months ago I actually had an open fire in the front room. It was the first time I'd had an open fire in any house I owned. It was very cheerful and made the room very warm. Unfortunately the second time we lit a fire smoke escaped from the front room chimney to the blocked off chimney to the back room and somehow got out into the spare bedroom, so we'll have to have the chimney lined before lighting any more fires.

I'm still active in the Leicester U3A. Since I moved to Market Harborough it is actually easier to get to the general meetings than it was when I lived in Leicester because the buses from Market Harborough to Leicester stop near the end of my road, and also stop at the end of the road where the U3A meets, so I can get to meetings using just one bus, instead of the two I needed to catch before.

I no longer run the U3A website, but still organise the Science and Technology Group. Earlier in the year I gave talk on Artificial Intelligence, reviewing developments since I talked about the same subject several years ago. There's so much going on now that I decided not to attempt a general survey, but just to concentrate on machine interpretation of pictures, where remarkable successes are mixed with some incredible failures.

I still read a lot. Too much is ephemera found on the Internet, but I still read books, some of them inspired by an online reading group on the CIX conferencing system. Recent reading is summarised on the books page of my website, apart from the index page, that is the only page of the site I've kept up to date since I started to plan my house move.

I plan to put pictures of the new house and garden on my website next year, but please be patient; it may take a while..