Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Tuesday 26th August 2014

And so I am now 49 years old. It sounds old, even if I do not feel it. It is old as my Dad was when they had their silver wedding anniversary. That is food for thought. Inside I still feel like the 16 year old schoolboy I was back in the day, I know I have the same sense of humour. I do seem to remember my Mother saying, after you get to 21 birthdays become less important. Sadly, she has been proved right of course, and I really don’t want a fuss, although that may be unavoidable next year one supposes.

Monday.

As the weather forecast was for rain, rain and followed by yet more rain, we had ensured that all had been done on Saturday and Sunday, which meant that it was a lazy morning, we got the TV to record to an external hard drive, which means we are free from the schedules, if we did actually watch TV on more than an occasional basis. We listened to more Blessed Kate, and the radio which played yet more Kate.

We headed to Deal, well Walmer in fact, to a little cafĂ© to have breakfast as we were hungry, so we both had a small fry up. Which was nice. Except for the tinned tomatoes, which have no place in a breakfast. We drove cross country, as there seemed to be some kind of accident near to Dover as several police cars and ambulances had roared by as we drove into Deal. So we headed out across country heading for Waldershare which would be near to Dad’s. But, due to the lack of signposts, or them pointing in the wrong directions, we ended up driving round in circles until we ended back near to where we started. As hobbits would say, short cuts leads to long delays.

We visited the old folks at Whitfield, to find Tony had gone to visit Nan to tell her Cath was out of hospital and danger. So, Jen was there, but she was busy painting, so after a brief chat, we left. And that Tony was with Nan, she would complain if there were too many visitors. Mind you she complains if the has too few visitors too. So we used that as an excuse not to visit, which makes us bad people, and also means we will burn in hell. If there was such a place, but there isn’t, so we will feel guilty about it for a while.

We did go to visit my friend Gary at his place, and chatted, mostly about photography. And wildlife. And photo editing programs. Which was nice.

We headed home in the driving rain, which was not so nice, and then spent the afternoon watching the rain tip it down outside. We listened to more radio, drank more coffee and outside the rain continued to fall. Oh yes, this is because it was a Bank Holiday as this was typical weather.

Evening came early, and it was nearly dark as we drove to the other side of the field at the end of the road to Walletts Court for dinner. Although it is so near and we pass it every time we go out, neither of us have ever been there, so we thought, why not?

Food was good, if small portions, but then you have three courses without having to undo a belt buckle, which is probably for the best. Odd then that this is where Ministry of Sound insisted on staying when they used to come to visit the factory, as far removed from anything urban you could imagine, a medieval manor house with its own church, Westcliffe, and once owned by one the William Pitts.

Anyway, back home to listen to the second half of the Citeh v Liverpool game, which ended up 3-0 to Citeh, and ‘Pool’s problems are multiplying, not least with them having signed Not-so-super Mario earlier in the day. There might be trouble ahead…..

I am off to Holland for a couple of days, so see you on Thursday.

Monday, 25 August 2014

Monday 25th August 2014

Sunday.

Ah, bathing the afterglow of another triumph against the old enemy down the A140. As we have so far failed to det the TV to save v programs we had to watch stuff live. I mention this as Sundays are now made for football, what with the re-runs of MOTD and the football league show. And having been relegated it means that City are now on the latter and so even later on a Saturday evening. At least the BBC have scheduled the shows to run back to back on Sundays too, which meant that despite waking up at seven, we could not head out of the house until MOTD had been watched and the the highlights of the Old Farm game o n the footy league show. And despite the twitterverse having been full of disgruntled dirty horses claiming the goal was offside, the replay showed a defender on the line and the goal perfect. Perfect for us, anyway.

Bank Holiday Sunday walk

Once the game had been shown, we got our act together and put on our walking boots and headed out the door with the plan to 'go out for a walk'. More than that, maybe head to the cliffs and on the way pick some elderberries and maybe some sloes if there were ripe enough. It was a cool morning, but warming up nicely, so we walked down the lane at the end of the street, past the butterfly glade, past the pig's copse, now empty of the piglets, as it would appear their truck left for either market or the slaughterhouse during the week. The glade is now all quiet. Down the dip and up the otherside, stop at the friendly horse to rub his mane and feed hi some fresh grass from the verge.

Bank Holiday Sunday walk

Up over the fields, between now harvested and ploughed fields to the butterfly alley, which was almost butterfly free. Up the final climb to the cliffs and Bluebirds. After taking in the view, we take a table outside and order coffee and a slice of coffee and walnut cake, which hit the spot.

Jools decided to head back via the village so she could look at how the wild apples were coming along, and I decided to head up the coast to Kingsdown to look for butterflies. As is the case at this time of the year, the coastal path was heaving with people,many of whom seem to be there without actually looking at the wonderful landscapes or the wildlife under their very feet. Anyway, I make it to Kingsdown, find no evidence of Long Tailed Blues, not even any flattened grass caused by dozens of photographers as per least year. In fact there were very few butterflies at all, no Chalkhills and no Adonis either. Just a few Small Blues and a single Wall. I did see a mating pair of dragonflies, so watched were they landed and got some fine shots as they were locked in a mating wheel. They did not try to fly off as they had other things on their mind. Apparently.

here be dragons

I walked back by a much quieter route, and at butterfly alley I harvested a lot of the elderberries, and along the paths home, stopped to pick more, until I had a good couple of pounds. It was now near one and the day was very warm indeed, and my legs were beginning to complain. The final stretch is down the steeper side of the dip and up the other side, past the pig's copse and the butterfly glade and on to home.

Bank Holiday Sunday walk Once home Jools was waiting outside sipping iced squash. I joined her, until the draw of checking on my shots was too strong and I headed inside to power up the new computer.

The football on the radio burbled away, we had a late lunch of more pasta salad and fried aubergine washed down with a large bottle of Leffe Nectar. Which, needless to say, resulted in me feeling the need to lay on the sofa and promptly fall asleep as the radio reported on the Sunderland v Man Utd game. And in this way the afternoon passed from afternoon to evening, where we carried on the Kate Bush fest by playing Hounds of Love (again), The Sensual World, The Red Shoes and This Woman's Work.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Sunday 24th August 2014 (part 2)

Saturday.

And so the three day weekend arrives and the question is, what to do? Well, it seems that as Jools did some shopping on Thursday, we don't need much as we are going to eat simply over the weekend, just pasta salad and fried aubergine. So, what then?

I remembered that there was a rail tour running, just a Javelin running on some lines it don't normally use, but still, something different and it seemed ages since I went train chasing. So, at little after nine we were heading out to Minster so I could snap it trundling round the sharp chord from Sandwich to Canterbury lines. As we headed through Deal, we realised that we were hungry, so were on the lookout for greasy spoons, but they all seemed to be closed for the weekend, so at Richborough we stopped at Subway for breakfast. Breakfast was little different from eating there at other times, but grilled sausage sub with extra pickles and onions and ranch dressing hit the spot I have to say. So wet up for a while, we drove on to Minster station.

The Wandering Javelin at Minster in Thanet, Kent, 23rd August 2014

I tried a few different angles, but decided on the platform opposite where the chord joined the main line. As I thought maybe a different lens, I heard the screeching of train wheels on check rails, so raised my camera to see it coming round the bend, slowly. Inside the train was full and people has huge smiles on their faces. Call me crazy, but eight hours on a train going round and round Kent might get a little tiring after a while. But hey.

The Wandering Javelin at Minster in Thanet, Kent, 23rd August 2014

We headed over to the butchers in Preston before returning home where it seemed to be lunchtime, so better prepare something. Something turned out to be cheese and crackers followed by a huge bowl of fresh raspberries from the back garden. Lovely, I mean really, really good. Nothing tastes better.

Closure notice

After lunch we headed down into Folkestone to check on the demolition of the coastguard tower beside the Harbour Railway station, which is the start, I guess, of the redevelopment of the area. So, imagine our surprise when we found that Tram Street is now two way rather than the one way it has been for decades, but we did get down without indecent. We found a place to park outside the Grand Burstin, and after grabbing the camera we headed to snap the demolition and what is left of the line that carried hundreds of thousands of soldiers to war and their deaths 100 years ago. It is grim seeing the station in such a state of decay, but now the tunnel has been going for 20 years, it really is not needed any more.

Folkestone Harbour Branch

The whole harbour area was full of people, which is good, and maybe gives hope that the area might recover. But then wouldn't a preserved railway running down the branch be a fine centrepiece? Maybe.

Folkestone Harbour Branch

We drove back out the town, up through Hawkinge and onto Lydden across the A2 to Shepherdswell so to be in time to snap the raitour as it came out of Lydden tunnel. Now, I should point out that for the previous hour, a rather important game was taking place, the first game between City and Ipswich for some 30 months. I was concerned that we might not be ready for such a hostile map so early in the season, and so decided to head out and avoid the game on the radio. But after an hour of play, I could stand it no longer, and switched oon the radio, only for the BBC fail to mention it for about ten minutes. I was going mad by this point, but when the update came, we were leading 1-0 and in command. And despite a late Town rally, we held on, and so beat them yet again.

The Wandering Javelin, Shepherdswell, Kent, 23rd August 2014

I got the shot as the train came out of the tunnel, and that was that. We headed home for coffee and for me to listen to more football and edit shots. The new computer is pretty much set up now and so editing shots is a doddle. And a pleasure rather than torture as it was with the old laptop.

At six we cooked the aubergine, and tucked into a wonderfully fresh summery meal, with a nice pint of ale to wash it down with. Yum.

That night we sat in the dark watching a young fox eating the badger food in the front garden. Simple but wonderful.

Sunday 24th August 2014

I will begin this post by relaying the great news that Jools' sister was discharged from hospital this morning, so good has her recovery been. I am not going to go into the details of what is and isn't wrong, or whatever. She has some tests to go, but now she is well enough to be home and is, some two days after her birthday, and that is great news indeed. The best of news, really.

It is the middle day of a bank holiday weekend, I am in a good mood, we have just had a lazy late lunch, and now I think that maybe we should have a nice afternoon snooze whilst the football burbles in the background. But, I am getting ahead of myself, lets catch up where we left off on Friday morning.

Friday.

The early morning call of nature, I try to creep out of the bedroom without waking Jools, only to stead on something soft and squidgy: Urgh I said loudly. I have woken Jools, so I turn the light on and there on the floor is a baby mouse left for us as a midnight snack by one of the moggies. It is the thought that counts, but we really need to teach them how to make coffee so they can give us an early morning gift we'd really like.

So, now that I'm awake and awake, best make a coffee, feed the cats and so the day begins. I drive to the office in Ramsgate, and get down to work which seems to take up most of my time. At three, it seems that I had done enough work for the week, so pack my stuff up and head home for the three day weekend.

New toy #2

I arrive home and try to set the new computer up. All is well excpet for windows 8 which is just shit. Well, its shot compared to the older versions, quite why things have to be so different from previous versions, meaning its impossible to find things or how to do stuff which should be so easy. I spend nearly two hours getting my old laptop and the new computer so I can transfer some files. It really should not be this hard. But it is done, and I am happy enough to switch the old laptop off and only use the new one.

The night was spent watching the Kate Bush special on BBC4, reminding us of the unique talent that Ms Bush has, and how different from anything else we have seen before or since. Next week she starts her long residency in London, the one I failed to get tickets for, oh well.

I'll leave you with something only Kate could make:

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Saturday 23rd August 2014

Thursday.

And so time to pack and head home.

I wish I could say nice things about the hotel in Esbjerg, but they don’t have to try too hard to get guests due to the shortage of rooms for those of us who work in the town, so they don’t work hard. I gave up eating there ages agi, doubly so now there is a branch of Flammen open opposite it. In the morning, they were relaying the floor in the restaurant so breakfast was in a tent in the car park. A tent in Denmark at the end of August is going to be interesting, and it was breezy and I image the cooked food, mostly cold. I have a coffee, a roll and hit the road.

A drive up to Arhus, some 75 minutes, is not a bad way to start the day, especially with me having an A3 to throw about on the motorway. I pointed the car north and pressed the accelerator. And vrrrooooommmm we zoomed off. However, for the most part, I did keep to the limit.

It is odd that in a country as mostly rural as Denmark that they have things like traffic jams, but in the morning and afternoon, Arhus can be jammed, so that was why I was not busting a gut to get there much before half eight, to give time for the morning rush to die down.

And so to work. And meetings. And more meetings.

And then time to leave to head for the airport. I worked right through lunch so was hungry as I walked back out to the car for the blast to Billund where I hoped there would be a snack and a tall frosted glass waiting for me. Traffic was light, and the weather bright, so driving was a pleasure, heading down the motorway with the speedometer reading 130, even if it was in kmh, it still felt pretty darn fast.

I park the car, hand the keys in, check my bag in, go through security, through the shop and up the steps to the gastrobar where although the beer was not waiting, I order one along with a salmon salad and settle down to watch the comings and goings. At least with the end of the holiday season, the airport is returning to normal, with plenty of seats and room, although there are people wandering around dressed for the beach already thinking they are on holiday.

I snooze on the way over, once we had climbed through the small thunderstorm that covered the airport and into clear non-bumpy air above the clouds. Over Essex I could see that the harvest is almost in, and on field you could see a harvester making short work of the ripe wheat.

From the moment I got off the plane to the time I was on the DLR heading towards Stratford in less than 5 minutes! My case was first off the plane, and as I entered reclaim there it was just on the carousel. Lucky me.

I missed the ten to seven train, so grabbed a coffee before the next train was due at quarter past. And I got a seat, facing the right way next to a window and all by myself. My lucky day still. It was nearly dark by the time we pulled into Dover, the lights of ferries heading to France showing bright in the gloom.

Jools was waiting for me, and so we headed up the cliffs to home, where on the table a new computer was waiting for me. But there was not enough time to set it all up, so something else to look forward to during the weekend.

Friday, 22 August 2014

Friday 22nd August 2014

Tuesday.

I stirred very little during the night, and was happy to see that when I checked the time I had slept soundly for 10 hours and felt like a million dollars. An overweight million dollars for sure, but still. Ten hours. Rock and roll.

I dressed and went down for breakfast before heading into the office for a day of observing and writing suggestions. It was good to be back amongst friends, people I have known for up to 18 months, who seem really pleased to see me. Quite why this surprises me is one thing, but it warms the cockles of my heart to realize this. I do get that, on occasion, some people I know don’t treat my friendship with the reverence I feel for them. Maybe its just me.

Anyway, the working day progressed well. We had a break for lunch and we ordered in chicken and bacon rolls, which were mighty tasty.

In the evening I went to Paddy Go Easy because, because its there really. Need another reason? I had a pint, a pint of Guinness as the Kilkenny was off, and very good it was too. I tried to get a table at the Dronning Louise, but it was rammed as the locals, all descended from Vikings remember, were all sitting inside due to the slight chill in the air. So, I walked round the corner to Bones and ordered ribs and a coke, and all was well with the world.

All was well until I spoke to Jools to hear that her sister had been rushed into hospital with severe liver and kidney problems. This does not come as that much as a shock as you might expect. She had looked ill for most of last year, but seemed to be getting better. Anyway, she is in hospital, had a blood transfusion, and now they will find out what the reason for it all. All the same, worrying times for us all.

I headed back to the hotel to watch some football, as it is that time of the year, like between the end of June and the end of May when there is football on somewhere.

Wednesday.

I guess the news from home puts everything in perspective. Little more is known about the cause, but she is still in hospital and will be probably for the rest of the week. We are all concerned, that goes without saying. She has had tests and been prodded and probed, we will know at some point. Jools went over to see her in the evening, and, well, its as expected really.

For me, it was a day at work in sunny Esbjerg. Or sunny between the showers and thunderstorms. I worked away getting stuff done, having meetings, fielding phone calls. The usual stuff.

In the evening, I met up with my old boss and we went back to Butchers for dinner. Rib eye steak and beer for me, and mighty tasty it was too.

I bailed on heading back to Paddy Go Easy, as I felt I had had enough beer with the man-sized glass I had with dinner, so went back to the hotel to check on which game would be on TV. Turned out to be Aalburg, I think, and it was awful, thankfully the interwebs was distracting and so passed another quiet evening in the hotel.

Outside the rain hammered down again. Well, it is Denmark.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Thursday 21st August 2014

Sunday

I woke up with a headache and feeling congested. That meant that my allergies were having a party in my head. I popped a pill hoping the drugs would work. In desperation, we headed for a walk. We had to go early as rain was predicated later in the day.

Sunday morning walk to Windy Ridge

We set off along the track at the end of the street, then cutting up across Collingwood and up to Windy Ridge looking for sloes and plums. It was a cool and breezy morning, but nice enough in sheltered places.

We walked through the wood looking for fungi, but I just saw some King Alfred’s Cakes and little else. We headed back for coffee and an early dinner.

Sunday morning walk to Windy Ridge

I watched the re-run of MOTD, looking glorious in HD on the new TV, but the football itself was as predictable as ever really. Still, it’s a new season and Sunday mornings will now be given over to fooball…..

Sunday morning walk to Windy Ridge

After lunch, Jools dropped me off at the new micropub in Barfrestone. Barfrestone is a small village between Dover and Canterbury, I am doubtful that such a venture could succeed in a small place like that, but the owners used to run the Yew Tree, so they know their customers and market, and judging by the first weekend, its going great guns. Sadly, Mr 1D was at the bar, but then it gave me someone to talk to as Jools went to visit Nan. He’s as full of crap as ever, but he liked my new camera and showed me where the spirit level can be found on it, so not all lost.

The Wrong Turn, Barfestone, kent

I drank several beers, Jools came back as I finished the third, so had a 4th as she had half of cider, then we went home. Needless to say, I laid on the sofa and slept through the football on the radio, waking up in time to dish dinner up, which was leftovers. Leftover breaded aubergine and pasta salad. Always nice.

The Wrong Turn, Barfestone, kent

Time then to pack for the morning. Yuk. Always hate doing that.

But by now the allergies were really going mad, and I knew I was in for a tough night. In the end I took more drugs and tried to sleep. I lay until gone one until, as if by magic, my sinuses cleared and sleep was possible, giving me something like just under four hours of sleep.

Monday

Needless to say I felt like shit warmed up in the morning, and was grumpy as hell.

I had coffee grabbed my cases and we headed to the station for me to catch the train to Stratford.

I turned on the mobile, checked work e mails, seems like they still know I exist, which is something. The train whisked me to London, and as I walked onto the DLR train, the door closed and off we went to the airport, with the train filling up at Stratford, and emptying again at Canning Town. As is the normal way.

It looked chaos at the check in desk, and it was, but I got into a queue to drop my bags, I guess it took half an hour longer due to the holiday season, then upstairs and was able to grab breakfast once through security with more than an hour to spare.

I snoozed on the plane on the way over, except when we went into a cloud, and the plane bucked like a bucking thing. I collected the case, all the time on auto pilot, it’s a good thing these things don’t change. At the car hire place they give me an Audi A3, which brightened my day, and I zoomed off to Esbjerg and the office. I drive through alternating bright sunshine and heavy rainstorms, which from what I gather has been the case in Denmark for a few weeks now, and looking at the countryside, it looked saturated.

After checking in the hotel, I went out to meet Steffen at a new restaurant called Butcher, which is a meat place, which came as no surprise really. I had a nice steak and a beer, then Steffen dropped me off back at the hotel, I cleaned my teeth and went to bed, hoping for a long, long night’s sleep.