Tuning 38

about-james-wallis
by James Wallis
Updated: June 24, 2024
15 minute read
The garden team - Anna, Gala, Anna and Geoff

As usual we’ve had a busy week and as I’m writing this week’s article sat in a John Lewis café in Leicester the Tuesday after this/last week – it almost seems like writing our weekly journals should have its own dedicated memory as part of each week’s journal entry.

It definitely takes a bit of time to write, mainly because Anna and I both want to do a good job and want things done properly. For the next 3 or so weeks I’ll be writing our weekly journal because Anna has a very busy few weeks of conferences and pre-upgrade PhD research and planning ahead of her.

I’ll try to keep this week’s write-up short and concise but as usual we’ve had a pretty busy week of work, research and life as I’m sure most people have but we for some reason have tried to record and write about it too. Mainly because we don’t like to forget all of the nice memories and like to reminisce from time to time.

Monday 10 June 2024

Work & Research

Monday was a pretty typical work and research day where we try to do as much as we can to make the rest of the week easier but it quite often turns into an admin day or takes a different route. Luckily, it went pretty smoothly in terms of the projects we’re working on both in work and PhD research starting the week off in good stead.

James is arriving to MSSL north gate
Tuesday 11 June 2024

Piano tuning as our wedding gift

Anna started the day off with her two hour driving lesson while I intended to work on our current main work project but started working on a passion project for the morning first. I think the reason being was because I needed to build my energy up for work but had enough inspiration and ideas for the other project so I worked on that instead even though we’re on tight deadlines for many other things.

When Anna arrived home we needed to blitz clean our house in anticipation of going to pick Richard up from the train station as he kindly offered us a free piano tune on his way down to Eastbourne as our wedding gift.

We spent some nice hours talking about pianos, music, engineering, politics and general life with Richard. He’s been piano tuning for at least 30 years now and has many interesting stories which we had the pleasure of listening to during dinner once the piano was tuned.

We spent about 6 hours with Richard. We worked a little bit during the day including a quick cycle to the local village shop to get milk and biscuits. Also, we had a lot of other things to do this day including preparing scientific posters for next week’s conference at the National Space Centre in Leicester and preparing for Anna’s pre-upgrade presentation at 11am tomorrow morning.

After a nice day and evening we spend the night working until about 3am to get things done.

Anna and her piano tuner Richard
Wednesday 12 June 2024

Maintenance: Late nights and all sorts of activities

Anna likes to fit a lot into her week and today was Anna’s PhD research pre-upgrade presentation to check she’s on track with everything. As well as this Anna had also volunteered to help prepare and clean the swimming pool as part of the community team at her space lab. However, as Anna was pretty busy she roped in her mum, Gala and delegated pool cleaning tasks to a very helpful and capable mum for the day. Anna did join later as cavalry after a successful presentation.

Meanwhile I was back at home working on one of our main ongoing projects with Martin and PPM to try and get this phase delivered on time ready for our trip up to Lincoln to visit Dad. As well as work I was stretching in anticipation for my third football match in 10 years as my legs need to get used to playing again. It’s funny how in your mind you still think you can play as well as you did when you were in your 20’s but in reality everything you do in life needs maintenance otherwise they break.

I finished early and got to Anna for 4pm to see how the pool maintenance was going as well as play football with the staff at MSSL.

Everyone was very thankful and impressed with Gala’s effort for the day and it looked like there was definitely a glimmer of hope that the swimming pool would be ready to swim in this year. Anna told a funny story about how the Guinness family that once owned the country house where the lab is had been building the swimming pool for Mr Guinness’ wife’s birthday but it wasn’t built in time and she refused to swim in it because it was late. Luckily with Gala around nobody needs to worry.

Whilst Anna and her mum and a few others continued to clean the pool I played 5-a-side but spent a big proportion of the game in goal because my quads felt sore which was a shame because all I wanted to do was run around and play like the old days. But I guess you need to maintain anything you do in life otherwise you become rusty.

Thursday 13 June 2024

Getting good ideas

We set off by midday to drive up to Lincolnshire to see my Dad. On our 5 hour drive we had a good idea to stop where Isaac Newton once lived (Woolsthorpe Manor) to re-enact the time he was inspired to formulate his theory of gravitation by watching the fall of an apple from a tree. With it being only a five minute detour we thought we may never stop and see where this inspiration once occurred if we don’t do it now so we all agreed it would be a good idea to stop and hopefully we get some good ideas by just being in the location where a great mind once thought.

Anna, her mum and James driving up north

It was also pretty fitting because this week has been a lot about Science thanks to all of Anna’s research and studies.

Passing by Isaac Newton's house

I’m not 100% sure we came up with any ground breaking new ideas but we had fun re-creating the falling apple scene from a perimeter tree as the actual place we wanted to get to was closed.

Friday 14 June 2024

Tuning 38 (Turning 38)

Turning 38 was today’s main activity. It was really nice to wake up next to Anna who had been wanting to present me with my main gift for ages. She always has so many ideas for presents. I always say I don’t want anything other than Anna wrapped up in a bow which I got and more.
Anna on James' birthday morning

It was also my mum’s birthday on the same day as mine so I can never forget to say happy birthday.

We spent a nice day in the garden with intermittent sun and thunderstorms as well as catching up with my dad and sharing lots of stories. We always like to reminisce as well as hear about each other’s latest projects. This time my dad had built a 3rd print of a Hinckley Signal Box for a friend in Hinckley, Leicestershire. It was nice to hear that he also had the opportunity to meet up with an inspirational teacher that had encouraged him as well as other students to make models back when they were fifteen

It must be very surreal meeting up with someone that you hadn’t seen or spoken to for at least 60 years.

Whenever we visit in the summer there’s lots to do in the garden and it does seem like Anna’s mum Gala is on a working holiday because yesterday she was cleaning swimming pools and now she is trimming hedges and all sorts.

I managed to wash the car which I had been meaning to do for at least 2 months which I was happy with. The car had its kind of birthday wash.

We also spent some of the day trying to fix my dads car’s heating by replacing it with a new transistor but it was fairly awkwardly positioned so we didn’t quite manage it that day because we ran out of time because of the football, the weather and my favourite meal that Anna was lovingly cooking for my birthday. We joked that Anna was slaving away in the kitchen “like a Cinderella” whilst we were watching the opening of UEFA Euro 2024 between Germany and Scotland.

It was a really nice day together and it’s nice to keep an online journal to remember tuning 38. I’m not sure why I have tuning 38 in my head. I think it’s because we had the piano tuned this week and I couldn’t think of anything else to name this blog article.

Rainbow on James' birthday
Saturday 15 June 2024

Searching for bargain antiques and Salt

We went to the largest antiques centre in Europe (Hemswell Antique Centres) today to get things we needed for our house. We wanted things like treasure chests to store things and nice plates and knives and forks which we’ve needed for a while now. Anna and I had different intended budgets for this trip. Anna’s budget was £500 and mine was £40.

It was funny because we’d actually been to this antiques fair once before and everything seemed amazing and Anna and her mum wanted everything but this time when we walked around and actually had a list of things we wanted it seemed like there wasn’t too much that we actually wanted for good value.

In the end we got some 50 pence plates and a few other items totalling a very impressive £29 which Anna didn’t even struggle to fit within. We were very happy with our purchases.

Pass me the salt - We don't have any salt

Saturday night saw my dad arrive back to the house after picking up his Anna and we spent the night having dinner, watching some football and watching Air Force One with Harrison Ford as there is literally nothing on any TV channel these days.

I almost forgot, one funny running joke we had for this day was about not having any salt at home and Gala really needed salt for cooking. We were waiting for my dad to get back with his Anna who was bringing salt from Hinckley as it wasn’t worth travelling to the local shop 6 miles away. So, when we were walking around the antiques fair Gala and I sat down at a long old antique table and joked about passing the salt from one end to the other whereby I said “we don’t have any salt” which seemed to make us all laugh in stitches. We’re not sure why it was so funny but we laughed.

The funny thing was, after this we stopped on the way home to get salt from the local shop in Ingham and when we got home we later realised that there was already salt in the cupboard and now we had 3 full big salts leaving us with all the salt you could ever need.

Sunday 16 June 2024

A day in the garden with a BBQ and watching England

Today was the day we would finally fix the car with some project managerial guidance from Anna. We managed to fix the awkwardly placed transistor for the heating thanks to some of Anna’s motor mechanical insight on where things fit. We joked that project managers say how things need to be done and then we just need to do it, but to be fair it was very useful input and without the project manager nothing would get done, especially when it’s a big project when things need to be done in the right order.

One other thing we realised when replacing this part of the car is that the experts could do everything much more efficiently without any delays because they know what they’re doing and have seen it all before. It’s like that Ship Repair Man Story where he knows exactly where to hit the engine to fix it and then sends an itemised invoice including: Tapping with a hammer… £2.00 and Knowing where to tap… £9,998.00.

It just shows how valuable knowledge and experience are, especially if you don’t have the time or years of learning to figure something out. Fortunately, our task was relatively easy, and after completing it, we realised how much simpler it would be next time now that we know how to do it. However, for a complicated task it may be worth calling the experts if you don’t have the time or inclination to learn and find the solution.

Anna studies mole's hole and asks questions

We also found mole hills in my dads garden which allowed Anna to share her story of how she used to think moles were the size of humans thanks to Russian cartoons she watched when she was little. It was only when she was 18 she realised they weren’t actually as big as humans, when a relative at a party explained that they were just illustrated that way in the cartoon much to Anna’s embarrassment.

It’s funny because all I want to do when I hear Anna’s story is show her the film Caddyshack with Bill Murray where he has to fend-off the gopher on the golf course.

After a sunny day of gardening we had a nice BBQ with burgers and sausages and potatoes which I was happy with before we settled down to watch England in their opening game.

My prediction is that they’ll reach the semi finals and obviously lose on penalties.

Anna studies mole's hole and asks questionsAnna studies mole's hole and asks questions
Gardening, Cake, Moles & Rain GoPro Montage

If you are curious, here are our living costs for this week 24 of the year (10-16 June 2024).

Cost
Note
£699
10 June – 16 June 2024
Housing
£215
One week at our rented house
Bills
£33
Water waste quarterly charge
Transport
£362
Travelling to and around London plus a driving lesson plus Car PCP Finance
Food
£61
Food shopping, small shops and a bit of eating out
Other
£29
Antique centre purchases
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