We are writers with a scenic view

by James Wallis
Updated: July 1, 2024
15 minute read
Scenery from Holmbury Hill through binoculars

The aim of this week’s journal entry is to get it written before England play Slovakia at 17:00 in the last 16 of UEFA Euro 2024. It’s 13:44 so it’s probably a bit of a longshot but I’ll try. Normally it takes about 4 to 6 hours to write, put together and curate as well as publish it on the website.

It’s normally quicker when Anna and I do it together but today Anna sits by my side writing her pre-upgrade report ready for a midnight submission tonight, Sunday 30th June 2024.

It was a fairly normal week full of everyday life, work and research.

Monday 24 June 2024

Receiving Palms, BBQ’s & Microwaves

It was a pretty sunny and hot day in the Surrey Hills which prompted us to check Anna’s allotment at MSSL when we arrived, as well as the progress of the swimming pool preparations that so many people have worked hard to get ready in their spare time.

It was lucky that we went to check the allotment because Anna noticed a nice looking but slightly un-looked after palm tree standing by the greenhouse. After enquiring with one of the MSSL gardening team that we’d just bumped into, we realised they were trying to get rid of it because it had been left behind when a student moved out of the on-site accommodation.

James with the Palm Tree at MSSL

We really like plants and Anna is known for her plant rehabilitation skills that can revive any plant back to health normally by ruthlessly but lovingly cutting most of the leaves off to help the others flourish. I always seem very hesitant about Anna’s process as it looks like a plant crime scene but it always seems to work out well. She has the knack for this.

I drove our new plant home and followed strict instructions to water it and Anna would deal with it later. It turned out to be an Alocasia macrorrhizos which was quite a good addition to our home.

Swimming Pool project at MSSL

We also picked up a second-hand BBQ from a really nice lady and her son on our way home that day as we’ve been wanting one for ages. The BBQ had the name Boris which had been chosen by the lady, and it seemed like they’d had many nice memories, so we were happy to keep the name. It was pretty big and heavy which took us a bit of time to get in the car but we eventually did it. As well as this free to collect Boris we also were given their spare microwave which was a very kind gesture as we hadn’t gotten around to buying one just yet.

Our new BBQ Boris in Warnham

All in all, Monday was a good day of work, research and receiving new additions to our home which would probably be worth at least £500 if we bought them new.

Tuesday 25 June 2024

The views of our day

Tuesday was a day of work and research. Anna – from the lab, and myself – from home. Weeks go by so fast that we quite often need to remind ourselves how lucky we are to work with such beautiful surroundings around us even if we quite often forget to notice when we’re doing long hours of work projects and research reports.

West Sussex fields in the morning
I have really nice trees and fields to look at from our rear study window whilst working on the websites that we build and maintain for our clients. I definitely need to remind myself to go for a walk in them during the day as it’s so easy to just sit and work and not take a break.
Surrey Hills view from MSSL on a summers day

Anna has the outstanding beauty of the Surrey Hills to look at during the day whilst she’s working on her research and then the same views I have when she gets home to continue working on her report for a deadline this Sunday. I think I watched the football that night with intermittent bits of work being slowly completed.

Another road closed due to potholes in Surrey

We’re definitely lucky and happy to work in such great surroundings very reminiscent of the surroundings we would like when we build our house on our own plot of land one day.

As well as our great views we do notice that on our drive to Anna’s space lab each day there’s at least one road closed each day due to roadworks. We always wonder why, maybe, everyone is closing the road to get started on building their own house surrounded by idyllic scenery or maybe it’s just the endless supply of potholes that need fixing because the government and local councils have left them unmaintained for too long and run out of budgets thanks to bad management of funds and resources.

Anna working hard on her pre-upgrade report
Wednesday 26 June 2024

My weekly exercise playing Football with Anna’s colleagues

Wednesday was another day of working on building websites for our clients. The projects are going well and are rewarding. However, we do put all of our effort and skill into everything we do (especially client projects) to make sure we provide as much value as humanly possible. One day though we would love to be able to dedicate all of our time and skills into the projects that are our own so that we can reap the long lasting benefits of everything we do. I guess it’s just about finding that one idea that solves a specific problem first.

Anna going to work at MSSL on a hot day

After our day of work and Anna’s day of research and leaving drinks for one of her supervisors we met up again where I enjoyed my weekly exercise and enjoyment of playing football.

This week my legs weren’t aching as much as the previous weeks which is a good sign that I might be getting back to somewhere near my old playing days where I could easily play 6 times a week and still have lots of energy to go to work on Saturday morning and play a full 90 minute match for my local team Wilmslow Albion and then cycle with my friend Andy on our 50 mile loop around the Cheshire Countryside as well as lots of other activities that we tried to fit into a weekend.

James playing football with MSSL colleagues
Thursday 27 June 2024

Looking for berries

Thursday was like every other day of work and research in the beautiful surrounding of West Sussex and Surrey apart from this day Anna had heard from work colleagues that there were blueberries to be foraged at the top of Holmbury Hill just behind her space lab.

Anna foraging for berries

We spent that evening walking up a steep slope and through the woods and fern leaves to find berries but there were none to be found. Maybe someone had gotten to them first. To Anna’s great disappointment as if she had gotten to them first she would’ve not only eaten them all whilst picking them but there would also be none left for anyone else.

We did find some very nice views from the top of Holmbury Hill and, we had an enjoyable walk ahead of another night of Anna working on research and work and myself working on something, probably work.

James and Anna on top of Holmbury Hill
Friday 28 June 2024

Meant to be an early finish

Anna had arranged a school visit to the laboratory as part of MSSL’s outreach commitments where the students from Croydon High School for Girls could learn about what goes on at the lab and test some of their sensors they’re working on as part of a space launch some very talented students are working towards.
Anna at MSSL on a school visit day

Seeing as the week had been very busy with work and research we thought that we would finish early at about 3pm today and have a quick sleep ready for Anna to work on her python code ready for a weekend working on her pre-upgrade report. However, we ended up getting rid of a full car of garden waste at the local tip and then went to Timpson’s to get some spare keys cut and get a few things from Tesco to make a very nice chicken curry from Anna’s trusted Jamie Oliver cookbook.

One thing that was nice that day was that Anna received an award and £100 for the best posters and presentation from her conference at the National Space Centre the week before. That was a nice way to end the working week.

Going to the tip to get rid of the branches
Saturday 29 June 2024

Astrogazers, reports and experiencing events from a distance

When I say end the working week. It wasn’t quite the end of the working week as Anna had a school visit as part of the MSSL’s outreach with Croydon High School for Girls and their Astrogazers which we drove to on Saturday morning. Whilst Anna was working there with some very talented future space industry hopefuls, I went to do our weekly shop at the nearby Sainsburys.

Old abandoned building in Croydon

My task was to try and beat Anna’s weekly spend from the previous week. We invented a game and competition where the other one has to spend less than the other one on the weekly Tesco shop.

I don’t think I quite did beat it, but I came close by spending £70 for the week on food and all the essentials. Anna has a different approach to me. She likes to order it online so that it’s efficiently delivered and she can choose and decide on items and can see the total bill before checking out. Whereas, I like to spontaneously shop and get a feel for items as I pass by the shelves and wonder the isles working out the total bill in my head before I get to checkout which is probably slightly risky leading to some impulse buys and possibly leading to a higher total for the weekly shop.

I still had a bit of time to kill before Anna finished her work so I explored an old abandoned building nearby which looked like it once was a busy hub of activity with a lot of history but now was nothing other than a ghost of its own self with a community that can’t afford to keep it operational. Maybe one day it will be transformed to its former glory but I guess for now it’s no longer needed.

Anna writing her phd report

The end of the day saw Anna continue to work on her pre-upgrade report whilst I worked a little bit on some work tasks as well as watching the football before Anna and I finished the day off watching Coldplay perform on TV at Glastonbury 2024. It was close to Anna’s dream of seeing Chris Martin and Coldplay perform live but from the comfort of our home.

Maybe one day we will see them live but I can’t think of anything worse than being in a field with 200,000 people all queuing and getting drunk. Maybe a more intimate and smaller venue experience would be best where you can enjoy the experience without all of the hassle. However, having said that, I always remember Jim Carry’s commencement address to the Maharishi International University (MIU)’s class of 2014 where he explained that he wasn’t just experiencing the powerful event of the Super Bowl but he was the Super Bowl viewing it from a kind of birds eye view rather than from himself. Maybe that’s what people feel when they go to Glastonbury and they aren’t just viewing it as themselves but they’re viewing it as a collective.

We finally fell asleep watching Pole to Pole with Michael Palin when the world was a much simpler place but exactly the same.

Watching Coldplay at Glastonbury 2024
Sunday 30 June 2024

A day of writing reports and watching sport

It’s interesting following on from Glastonbury and experiencing events that another event that people experience together is when they watch their national football team play in the Euros. There’s something that brings people together to act as one. However, writing this just before (at 15:44) England play I actually prefer and enjoy watching England with one or two people so I can fully focus and take it all in without the distraction of thousands and millions of other people and watch it from an analytical view point rather than from an experiential moment in time. I wonder what it is that means I would rather watch football with just Anna rather than being in a stadium or a bar with hundreds of like minded people all wanting the same experience.

Sunday morning report writing

I’ll finish the rest of the write up for this week’s journal entry after England have hopefully progressed to the quarter finals to meet Switzerland. I think we have a chance of winning tonight against Slovakia but we need players like Kobbie Mainoo and Anthony Gordan to play and we need Harry Kane, Jude Bellingham and Phil Foden to not get in each other’s way and play intelligently for the team.

I think we’ll win 2 vs 1 in extra time just before the need for the dreaded penalties but let’s see.

Penalties are only good to watch when you’re not in them.

I’m off to watch the build up with Neville, Keane and Wright which are a great combo along with Carragher and Scott from the Overlap.

Scientific discoveries

I’m back.

It’s now 22:34 and Anna and I are back after watching England cautiously and luckily get through in extra time after a 2 vs 1 win thanks to a late Bellingham goal to save England. In general they’re probably not ready to win the Euros and they’re nowhere near as good as the Beckham era of England but luckily for England none of the other countries are as good as they once were either so there is always a chance.

In the last few hours Anna had a breakthrough in her research and submitted her pre-upgrade report. We also went on a walk with our next door neighbour and his dog through the fields which was a good way to end our week.

Thanks for reading. I promise it was meant to be a short and quick but as we always say, it’s much harder to keep things concise and well edited, which is why it’s fairly long, but I’m sure we’ll learn as we go and hopefully we’ll adapt our writing style to be concise, interesting and informative eventually as we learn and become experienced writers.

We did plan to finish off the day with a business advertising campaign analytics report for a client and do our business management accounts and personal monthly budget analysis for June 2024 but it’s a bit late so we’ll have to do it some other time. I’m sure it’s all worth but I guess we’ll find out when we’re 90.

Next week Anna will be back to write our weekly journal to make it much more clear and concise.

We must be writers with a scenic view.

Sunday evening walk

If you are curious, here are our living costs for this week 26 of the year (24-30 June 2024).

24 June – 30 June 2024
One week at our rented house
Phone Bill
Food shopping, small shops and a bit of eating out
Amazon Purchases plus other miscellaneous and sporting activities…
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