Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Tuesday 21st October 2014

Monday

Work from home.

After a couple of weeks away, it is always wonderful to begin the week by working from home. The extra half hour in bed, the endless cups of proper coffee, the views of the birds feeding, and no airports! Being a Monday, levels of mails were light, so I cruised through the day.

At two, Steve and Martin turn up with a sharp chainsaw to tackle the larger logs from the tree. The peace and quiet of the afternoon is shattered, and then they lug the logs to their truck as Martin wants wood to burn over the winter, so we have negotiated a price reduction for the work. Jools' Dad also turns up, dropping of a part invitation, but also taking the chance to look at the work done on the house. He is impressed and agrees the work done has been done well. He refuses a cuppa and leaves sharpish.

We have bangers and mash for dinner, always a favourite with us. Jools than takes me into town for the monthly CAMRA meeting, which turns out to be painful. I am abused, I kid you not, but the secretary, and then the meeting is riven with arguments and backbiting. I won't be going back, and will be submitting a letter of complaint. I went mainly as the meeting was in yet another new Dover micropub, The Mash Tun, It is very good, but then from what I have seen, all micropubs are fine. The beer is good, on the whole the evening is only spoiled by the meeting.

Jools comes to collect me at half nine, if I would have had a phone, I would have got her to collect me two hours before. After four pints, I slept well.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Monday 20th October 2014

Sunday.

And on the day of rest, we rested. For the most part anyway.

The sun rose red and angry, full of the promise of rain, which arrived before eight, and meant that we took things easy. I watched the previous night's MOTD and Jools did some beading before heading out to the tip.All in all a quiet morning.

I did some photo editing, listened to the radio, and generally the morning passed. We had an early lunch, some pate on toast.

In the afternoon I cooked a batch of mince pies as Jools wanted to take some to work, to show how much better home made is than shop bought, even Tesco Finest. Like there is even any doubt. The dist of a week's builders traipsing in and out and thus leaving dust, dust and more dust everywhere. Anyway, some mopping, chasing the cat with the muddy paws out and mopping the floor once again.

I listened to the football for the most afternoon, and only went outside to have a cuppa and to sample the mince pies, and in the last three minutes of the QPR v Liverpool game I missed the three goals that transformed a dull 1-1 draw into a stunning 3-2 win for Liverpool. Reality can really be odder than fiction.

Matt and Nelinka

At half five we drove over to Ashford to have dinner with our old friends Matt and Darina. They had moved into their first house with their daughter. It a quiet drive along the motorway, following the sat nav we found our way to their place, and once inside we had a fine meal of fried smoked cheese followed by shepherds pie. All very nice. Although, being a school night, and Matt had to be up at three for his shoft at Ebbsfleet tomorrow, and that we had to drive home, we bid them goodbye at nine for the drive home, arriving home in time to have a cuppa before bed.

Quite where the weekend went is anyone's guess.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Sunday 19th October 2014

Saturday.

As Jools had already done the shopping, the question only remained was what to do with the day? No rain was forecast, but it was supposed to be cloudy in the morning. So what better than to laze the morning away before heading out into the afternoon autumnal sunshine?

Well, there was a glorious sunrise, and the day just continued bright without any sign of clouding over. So, the decision was made to go out and do stuff. Stuff which included heading to Challock, looking inside the church there, then walking in the warm sunshine in Kings Wood. Yes, that sounds all rather wonderful.

Challock, Kent

We drove along the Alkham Valley then a quick blast up the motorway to junction 9 where we turned off and headed into the countryside through Boughton and onto Challock. The key for the church can be obtained at the post office, and so I picked up a couple of magnums to smooth the morning still further, before we took the dead end lane to the islolated church. The church was once on the main road, or what it was in the 18th century, but when Eastwell Manor was built, the road was blocked off and is now sitting at the end of a very quiet dead end, over a mile from the centre of the village it serves. The drive along the lane is very pleasant, made even more so by the dozens of pheasants and partridges that look for food along the road.

A autumnal walk in Kings Wood

The church sits in its isolation beside the wood, looking pristine in the sunshine, we walk tot he porch and the ancient key opens the equally ancient door, and we go inside. I have been inside before, but Jools has not, and she is stunned by the murals that cover the walls. Indeed so am I as I see details I fail to spot on my previous visit. At one point I climb the rood stairs to get a beter view along the top of the rood screen, seeing where once fittings for candles would have sat. The wood is dried and riddled with worm holes, no doubt that it is original.

A autumnal walk in Kings Wood

We leave the church and drive back to the post office to drop the key off. It is just a short drive to Kings Wood, we park the car, change into our boots and are ready for a stomp. I had it in mind to take some shots of sunlight falling through the golden leaves still on the trees before the first autumn storm comes along and blows them off, which should be on Tuesday. So, we walk along the wide path, under a golden canopy from the copsed trees.

A autumnal walk in Kings Wood

Further on the sun pours through the taller trees, falling on and dappling the dry leaves on the ground with golden light. It is a perfect place for a walk. We meet just a few other people, although we can hear children playing in the distance, it seems for the most part we have the place to ourselves. We walk up the twisty path where in spring the bluebells are at their best, but now all is golds, yellows and reds, with the sun shining low in the sky ahead.

A quick diversion to the left brings us to a small group of chestnut trees, and we gather the nuts on the ground for a roasted supper maybe that evening. There is more than enough for us and the deers that also feast on these. In fact we see so many chestnuts on the walk, it is clear it has been a great crop of them this year.

Chestnuts

It was now nearing half one, so we walk back to the car, and instead of taking the easy option of going to the nearest pub, we drive home for lunch and a cuppa, before I take to the sofa to listen to the afternoon football, while outside the day gets old and the sun nears the horizon. Norwich fail to win again at Fulham, and slump to another defeat despite dominating the game. A frustrating afternoon, but then not as back as it was for the Mackems, who slump to an 8-0 loss at Southampton. So much for their certain relegation.

We have soup for dinner, and then settle down for a quiet evening as another day slips by. Phew, rock and roll.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Nothing but good news

Friday.

In this blog, there will be undiluted good news, featuring good news in its purest form. Concentrated good news in fact. If you cannot handle good news, maybe you should stop reading now.

You have been warned.

Friday morning in Arhus was wet. But then it always seems t this time of the year. I shower, get dressed, pack, go down to reception to check out and then have a final breakfast of fruit and bacon rolls. All of the major food groups covered. Oh, and coffee. Lots of coffee.

A quick drive in the rain to the office to get going with the business of the day. And the amazing thing is, I feel it is going well, and I am growing into my job, and most worryingly, I feel I am in control. At least for now. So, I get work done, have meetings and am ready for the trip home.

At half one I switch the computer off, load the car and drive off into the light traffic and light rain of a Danish afternoon. It is an hour drive to the airport, but I take my time as the roads are still damp, and driving at over 100kmh does not feel safe. Anyway, I arrive at the airport with two and a half hours to spare, so I drop the car off, check in, and sadly I do not have the key of the business lounge this time. So I head to the gastrobar for a bottle of moderately stupidly strong Danish beer. I choose carefully as some were up to 9.2%, then one I do have is just 6%! I sit at the bench looking out over the airport, sipping the beer. Half an hour passes. So, I buy another bottle, which I don't think as I'm ordering it is quite the sensible thing to do, but I have the change in my pocket, and it was nice beer. So what the heck?

The flight was not full, so I slumped into one of my preferred seats, 7A, and look out the window as final checks are made and we make ready to take off. We rise into the over cast skies, and soon are engulfed in cloud, but seconds later emerge out into bright sunshine, as the clouds are so thin, and so we fly on over Denmark and onto Holland, glimpsing the land below through gaps in the clouds.

We arrive over London just as dusk is falling, the city looks so busy, the traffic over the Dartford crossing is static. Welcome home.

The queues at immigration are not so bad now they have scanners to read the electronic passports, so we are through, getting our baggage and heading to the DLR station within minutes of getting off the plane. I check my watch and I am pretty sure I am going to miss the ten to seven train by a couple of minutes. I do't worry, there's another in 25 minutes, so I just do some people watching, listening to the languages people use on their mobiles or talking to their friends. It really is not so scary at all.

Indeed, once I arrive at Stratford, I miss the early train by seconds, so I sit down to wait before heading onto the platform so to be in a good position for the great rush when the train pulls in. However, the front three coaches are just about empty, and I get a seat, and am watching the lights in the East London tunnel fly by as we speed towards Dagenham and the Essex marshes. It is dark or course, so I end up looking at my own reflection looking back at me, even along the M20 the vegetation has grown so high you can hardly see it from a train now, after just 20 years.

And into Kent, through Ashford, Folkestone and onto Dover. It is twenty past eight, it is dark, raining and I am tired. Jools is waiting outside and she presents me with a list of things for discussion. I, or course, ignore this and plow on asking things in my own order.

Any news on the job front? Yes, she was offered a permanent position that very afternoon by a company in Hythe, she is to be an assistant buyer and starts when she can get herself out of the box business. As soon as one hopes.

Any news on Nan? Yes, the doctor saw her and it is mostly down to tiredness, she had taken a mild sedative the night before, and slept for twelve hours, and apart from being grumpy when she woke up being prodded by the quack, she is not seeing men climbing in through the windows any more.

Jools' sister is OK, she is in pain, and can't drive for four weeks, but it is looking good.

The car port is up and finished, and looks good. The exterior lights are all fitted and working. And they all look good. The upstairs windows have all been good and they look spanking. The house sign is back up. It is all done. Big Job completed.

And Jools has a Job.

Nan is OK again.

The house is done.

I am home.

It is the weekend.

All good news.

Saturday 18th October 2014

Thursday

As I have said before, the world is a much better place after ten hours sleep. I think I stirred just the once during the night, but being in Denmark when I looked at the time, and it being dark still outside, it could have been still the middle of the night, but it was quarter to seven! Yay, sleep. But, why not lay here just a little bit longer listening to the hum of the traffic outside?

Why not indeed?

So, I get up, have a shower and go down for breakfast, eventually not arriving to the office until ten past eight. The office was nearly deserted. Turns out this week is ‘potato week’ in DK< when children have the week off when they used to help gather spuds from the fields. It is still holiday season, so most people are off work, there are three of us in an office for 50 people. If I did not move every ten minutes, the lights would power down and I would be sitting in the dark.

No change there, then!

I work though the day, getting stuff done, which is always nice. But then new challenges are thrown my way. As happens. But at half three, there was no more to be done, so I head back to the hotel in the light traffic, and settle down in the armchair to read the latest Private Eye.

That takes me to half five, when I thought that must mean it is dinner time. Downstairs I really felt like having a burger as I had skipped lunch, and so burger and a large classic as usual, whilst I read Q. I guess only the second music magazine I have read in over two years.

I end up flicking through the TV channels, and come across a Heston Blumental show on fish, which diverted my attention until it was ten and time for bed. Another day done!

Speaking to Jools I hear that Nan has been seeing things, full on hallucinations, men climbing in her window when she is talking, Nan tries to kick the men who are not there. Obviously, this causes us concern, it is possibly either: the stroke, the drugs or an infection. he doctor is going to visit on Friday, we hope to get some clarity.

The Price of Football

In shock news, the BBC produced its 4th annual Price of Football survey. And the results really were not that surprising if truth be told.

Apparently, the cost of football has increased ahead that of annual inflation. *makes a surprised face*

Like this really is news. And worse of is, is Arsenal, whose cheapest season ticket is more expensive than the most costly ones at all bar two other Premier League clubs. Apparently, clubs prefer to keep paying footballers more and more rather than treat the people who come through the turnstiles with respect and/or as the lifeblood of the game.

Once again, this is no shock to me.

To add insult the inexplicably popular radio ‘personality’ and former professional footballer said that players have ‘no idea how much fans play to get into games’ and ;why should they?’ That he goes on to say that he loved the rapport of the fans screaming behind him as the team played. These fans who he did not care about.

But then he said something faintly sensible. ‘Players don’t know about the price of milk either’. And, oddly, he is right. I mean Empire magazine asks movie stars the ‘how much is a pint of milk’ question, as this shows how remote from normal life they really are. To be honest, I do the shopping a lot of the time, we need milk, I take a bottle off the shelf, scan it and put it in the trolley. I don’t look at the price. Does this make me out of touch, the international playboy and quality expert that I am, I’m sure you understand how this could happen.

Robert Peston has also written about his ‘addiction’ to following Arsenal. And he used the word addiction. Like he could stop, if he wanted. As a football fan, even I find it hard to accept that most people scrimp and save to follow their team, a team full of millionaires who live in gated mansions driving chromed supercars who hold firework displays in their bathrooms. I could no longer accept this was right, and so in a series of painful and difficult steps, I stopped watching Norwich in person. Made easier by their promotion to the PL and the sheer unavailability of tickets for the casual supporter. Second, I cancelled Sky Sports. Finding that we were paying approaching £70 a month for TV just to watch football, shocked me to the core.

I made a promise to cancel Sky Sports at the end of that season, and have not been tempted. OK, only occasionally, in getting it back. But we took the Sky dish down, meaning it is impossible for us to subscribe. I now listen to football on the radio, and when on the rare occasion footy is on the telly, I lose interest and wander off and do something on the computer instead. I could get BT sports if we switch the internet provider, but that would mean having to deal with Indian call centres. Not that I have anything against India, its just that I have used them before, and trying to explain that, no, the router has not been delivered, and where on earth is it now so we can get connected?

I also have not bought no replica kits from the club in many years. To be honest, skin tight satin look sportswear does not look good on me, and paying fifty quid for it does not seem a good deal for me.

Next year, more football is migrating to behind the paywall, meaning that all European football will now be unavailable unless you want to pay for Malmo v Young Boys Europa League clash. Count me out, actually watching European games means EUFA can get sponsors to pay more for those crappy ads and pitch side ad boards. I won’t miss it, really. Not these days when Arsenal seem to play Barcelona as much as they play Spurs.

Fans can get together, boycott games, not buy merchandise, clubs would soon take notice. We hope.

In the end, football is just 22 men kicking a bag of wind about. And the odd thing is, that if you are a world class footballer you can charge whatever you want for your services, even over £300k a week. If you are a world class hockey player you have to have a real job. Not very fair to me.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Friday 17th October 2014

Tuesday.

The past couple of times I have travelled to Denmark, I have had to catch the evening flight, due to the flights being fully booked, I suspect. So, this means having to do half a day’s work before finding a way of travelling to Dover then catching the train to London and so on.

So, I have a bit of a lay in, but with the weather hammering it down outside, there is little point in thinking of going for a walk or anything. SO, there is nothing else to do other than to switch the work laptop on and see what is afoot. Not much afoot as it turns out, all is quiet. So I do a bit of electronic filing, tidying up and the such.

I finish this at midday. I go to pack, double check that I have everything, then cook scrambled egg for lunch, and wait until it is time to leave. A sort of travel limbo.

Jools has been attending interviews the past couple of weeks, and had another Tuesday afternoon, which meant she was coming home to change and so could drop me off at the station en route to the interview. As yet, she has not had any luck in getting a full time job, but has been getting a large number of interviews. Anyway, she drops me off at Dover Priory at half two, and then heads to Sandwich. I buy my tickets and get a good window seat on the left side of the train. OK, I’m set.

This really is such a routine trip these days, I have done it so often, I should still be gobsmacked that part of my job consists of commuting to Denmark because I am considered so essential I am required to attend meetings and the like. A real change from the spotty Herbert that used to put the giblets back up the bums of chickens 29 years ago. Still doesn’t sound that long ago, and yet here I am.

Here I am on a train, thundering through the Kentish landscape in the pouring rain on a high speed train taking me to that London. I listen to the conversation of my fellow passengers. It is oddly satisfying as a couple quiz their daughter about her homework regarding how energy is generated. Should I say I help put up wind turbines? Maybe they would find out I did not know that much….

I get off at Stratford, board the DLR getting my usual seat. Maybe I should mix it up and sit on the other side of the train one time. Steady on! At the airport I am told I can only check my bag in two hours before departure, meaning I have 40 minutes to kill. I have a coffee and a slice of cake. As you do. And people watch. Those of us are regulars at the airport know just where to go, and those unfamiliar are staring at the unhelpful signs hanging from the ceiling.

Ten to five rolls round, and I am able to check my case in. I take the escalator to security and then I am selected to whave the whole body scan thing. Not because I am looking suspicious or anything. Oh no. So, I stand on the indicated spot, and turn round 360 degrees whilst one supposes the machine did its thing, and maybe on a computer drive somewhere is the record of this event. Don’t go looking for it. It’ll have your eyes out.

I am in the departure lounge with an hour and 50 minutes to kill, so I head to the restaurant, which is as overpriced as Rhubarb is, but the food at least looks like it was cooked by a human rather than just heated up in a microwave. I have a ‘game burger’ as I’m game for anything, apparently, and a glass of wine. It is OK, I mean it not going to cause a ripple in the field of culinary exploration, but it did the job. £45. No joke. I did laugh. And because I can pay with the company credit card, they carry on charging these stupid prices.

I wait for the flight to be called, and wander down to find it full. Rammed in fact. We wait until the bus is ready to take us to our outlaying pan. We walk out to the bus in the rain, and again to the plane, queuing in the driving rain, it is grim. But we all get on and are soon trundling down the taxiway to the end of the runway before we thunder down the runway and into the grey skies. I say grey, I am guessing as it was raining, and was now fully dark.

The lights of London vanish below us, and so we shake our way through the clouds, turning north then east before heading out over Essex and Suffolk. The clouds clear at one point to reveal the lights of East Anglia laid out below, with Lowestoft clearly closest, the lights of which nearly join up with those of Great Yarmouth. I look firther west to look at the lights of Norwich, hoping to see the lights of Carrow Road as an U21 game was taking place. Maybe I did. Maybe I didn’t.

I carry on reading my magazine, as the clouds close in below us. We only see the lights of Denmark until we are skimming on the final approach to Billund, and down we go, bouncing on the runway. Rain is hammering down. Welcome to Denmark.

I go to the car hire place, and this time I get some tiny Citroen plastic car. It really is all I need, but it is noisy and the gearbox is vague to say the least. But, it’ll do.

Off I go, heading into the wet Danish night. Rain is falling so hard that it seems like I am driving down rivers. On the E45 I head up at 90kmh, which seems to be the safest speed, but others are hurtling by at double the speed I am. But I make good time, turning off and driving up the outer ring road to the hotel.

The bar and restaurant had just closed, so I take a bottle of Coke up to my room to settle in before I turn in. I have to be up again in six hours as stupid me has arranged a meeting for eight in the morning, so I have to be in half an hour before then. OK, here goes.

Wednesday

I wake up at six, after a dreadful night’s sleep. I get cramp all night long and am always waking up. But, no time to dwell on that now, there’s a meeting to chair. C’mon, get up, get showered, get dressed, Ian!

It is still hammering down outside, and on the ten minute drive to the office I see two major accidents at junctions, the second only just having happened with the police and fire brigade in attendance.

I am in the office by twenty past seven, and ready to go. OK, take a deep breath, as seven straight hours of meetings ahead.

As this week is the ‘potato holiday’ here in Denmark, schools are off, so many parents are also on holiday. This means the roads are quiet, which in turn means that there is no heavy traffic outside, so I bid by boss goodbye and drive back to the hotel to chill out. Its been a long day.

I have an early dinner at half five: I have the salmon fishcakes followed by the traditional burger and fries. Just what I needed.

Back upstairs I call Jools; her interview went well but has not heard anything. Her sister has had her procedure and the growth taken out. She has been discharged and is at home, in a little pain, but all is looking well. What with Nan having recovered from her mini stroke, so all seems well with the world.

With that good news ringing in my ears, I head to bed at eight, shattered.

Good night.