Monday, 1 September 2014

Monday 1st September 2014


As usual at the weekend I was awake at half five, waiting for dawn’s early light to leak round the curtains. At my feet Molly slept soundly.

After breakfast we got our shit together, which, in fairness, did take some time, but we headed out at half nine, heading for Sandgate for the walk along the prom which we agreed yesterday would be a splendid idea.

Sunday morning walk from Sandgate to Hythe. And back.

We found a place to park at the west end of the village, I grabbed my camera and off we set. All along the coast road are many old and much newer buildings, all facing towards France. It is a most pleasing sight if I’m honest. And although we are perfectly happy in the ugly house, we thought some would be fine places to live, if not that cat friendly.

Sunday morning walk from Sandgate to Hythe. And back.

At the ‘welcome to Hythe’ sign, we turn inland and follow the military canal for a while, until we come to the metal bridge linking the prom to the town, at that point we turn back and walk back up the prom, this time calling in at a refreshment stall to buy a couple of 99s. Despite eating them quickly, I suspect that melted ice cream had accumulated at the bottom of the cone. This is confirmed as I bite into what was left of the cone, an explosion of what looked like milk coats my t shirt.

Sunday morning walk from Sandgate to Hythe. And back.

All there was left to do was laugh. So we did.

We explore a bit of Sandgate before heading back home in time for dinner. We have cold sausage sandwiches, and then Jools makes apple and blackcurrant crumble, which is delicious smothered in fresh cream and accompanied by a fresh strong cuppa.

Sunday morning walk from Sandgate to Hythe. And back.

It would have been tempting to spend the afternoon sorting through photos and listening to the footy on the radio. However, I head outside to mow the lawn and help Jools finish trimming the hedges round the back garden. It is oddly satisfying, and we now have plans on another project, this time to plant more stuff, have a pond and a fountain.


After snoozing through the second half of the football, I make chorizo hash for dinner, washed down with another bottle of Cava, before I catch up on the previous night’s MOTD before I run out of time and its bedtime again.

We end the day sitting in candlelight on the patio watching aircraft and satellites passing between us and the diamond-like stars of the milky way. A fine way to end the day.

This week seems more Denmark.

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Sunday 31st August 2014


And so we come to the 30th post of the month, which also included that now legendary 1,000th post. I can say with some certainty, we will not see another month with 30 posts for quite some time, if ever. September sees me having nearly three weeks off work, a wedding anniversary and Nan's 100th birthday. All in all another remarkable month ahead.

I was awake at half five in the morning from a combination of cramp and itchy insect bites. So I mess around on the computer until seven, and I think I may as well get my stuff together and head shopping. So I get dressed, make a list and head out just as Jools is coming down the stairs. I'll do it, don't wory says the duty hero. Tesco is empty, or as empty as it gets, and I rush round getting the stuff and I am out again heading home in half an hour. That's the way to do it.


At half nine, with a heavy drizzle falling from the sky, we head out to Dover to run some chores and for me to snap the results of the street art festival which was held last month. I drop Jools off and head to St James' Lane to park up in the shadow of Burlington House, and go round getting my shots. Back at the car I am approached by a gentleman from north Wales and he asks me if Dover is really this grotty? Sadly, it is I say. Decades of mismanagement mean in the centre it really is a shocking state, what with abandoned buildings, but also the planning decisions that enabled places like Burlington House and the Gateway Flats to be built, and how generally unfriendly the town comes over and how poorly it advertises its history. Lets hope that the regeneration of the area will make it attractive and some thought is given to what is needed.


We shall see I guess.

We head out to Folkestone to check on the demolition of the coastguard tower and also to see how the gold rush is going. You see every three years, Folkestone has an arts festival, which although is very good, does not attract that much extra visits from tourists. This year, one of the 'arts' installation is £10,000 of 24 carrot gold bars buried on the beach in the outer harbour. It has made regional and national news, and created a proper gold rush with people claiming areas of beach as whole families hunt for the £500 small bullion bars. From the harbour wall the other side, we could see hundreds of people, looking, digging and using metal detectors. Amazing what business ten grand of buried gold can create.

The great Kentish Gold Rush

The coastguard tower is all but gone now, just a pile of concrete and twisted metal. All things must change. The Harbour Station is back open, and there are a couple of arts installations in it, but I do fear for the station once the festival ends in November as the line has now officially closed. In bright sunlight, and grass growing on the trackbed, it looks almost nice, but the decay and dilapidation is everywhere to be seen. Amazing to think that until 2008 the Orient Express used to come down here.

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes

I have a plan to head over to Hythe to visit the church which lies above the town on the slope of the downs. As I know in the crypt there is a chilling display. So we head out on the coast road, heading down into Sandgate; it has been a few years since we had been down, and we are blown away at how fine the town looks, with some great new buildings facing the sea. I decide that if the weather is nice, we shall come for a walk down here on Sunday.


Hythe is busy with traffic as ever, but we make our way through it, find a parking space and set off with cameras. It seems we are both hungry now, so we make for a fine looking cafe that did a good line in local art too for coffee and a bite to eat. I have something called a 'spicy Spaniard', which is as good as its word and has my tongue zizzing.

Folkestone Harbour Station

We make our way up Great Conduit Street to the church, waiting outside we see two bridesmaids and an older gentleman in a suit with the vicar waiting. Hmmm, that'll be a wedding says Ian, as observant as ever. We watch as the bride walks up, some last minute adjustments to her dress, and the part climbs the steps and from inside we hear the organ strike up 'here comes the bride'. Jools notices that the crypt entrance is not inside the church, but along the front retaining wall of the churchyard and then under the church itself via a narrow door.

The past is before us

And inside there are over a thousand skull and various bones stacked in a massive pile or arranged on shelves on the wall. No one really knows why they are here, but records show them being here in the 17th century. It makes for an odd sight, but after an informative introduction from the guide, I get my shots and am happy enough.

We walk back to the car, and from there we drive up through Sandgate, up over the down and then back along the A20 towards Folkestone. I stop off at Newington as I have not been inside that church, and it is open, which is nice. So I get shots, and am happy enough. What strikes me is the large number of metal memorials inside, most dating from the beginning of the 17th century. There must have been a vibrant metal industry in the area at the time. Anyway.

From Newington, we head home with the football burbling on the radio, Man Utd draw with Burnley, which after the result on Tuesday, must make that an improvement. Once home we make coffee and I settle down to follow the Norwich game on Twitter, which City stumble to a 1-1 draw with Bournemouth. Which on the surface seems a poor result, but they are a good footballing side, and so, we have to accept that with even more new players arriving during the week, there will be plenty more games.

I cook steak for dinner, with two ribeyes I got last week, and they are glorious. We wash them down with a bottle of Cava, which really did hit the spot. And so another days passes and the month is slipping away.

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Saturday 30th August 2014


With the wind blowing, or at least forecast to, there was little point in heading to the office in Ramsgate, as there would be no desk for me to work at. So, I settle down to work from home, counting the hours down until I can switch the computer off and relax for the weekend.

When I do, I head upstairs for a session on the cross-trainer, my second in two days, and this time it is more enjoyable, I even do an extra minute to the end of the song I was listening to.

Jools comes home and so we settle down to the dinner of champions, bangers and mash and beans, which seems pretty much perfect. We listen to the Lamaq show on the radio, grooving to tunes from the days of Peel; it would have been his 75th birthday on Sunday, but he was taken from us. So, we listen to many of the songs he helped us get to know.

Later in the evening, we have a dose of Monty, my first since before the China trip. His garden looks glorious, does he really do all the work at Longmeadow? We should be told. It is followed by another compilation of the Morecambe and Wise show, wonderful stuff and still funny.

So, a brief post today, I'll leave you with this:

Friday, 29 August 2014

Friday 29th August 2014

It is now some 6 years since I began writing this blog, although due to one thing and another it was not published until the first week in September. Shall we see what I wrote that day, as I had just left a ship in Peterhead, celebrated my 43rd (sob) birthday and we were preparing for our wedding.

And so after three days at home, I can now say I am getting used to it.

After having the limited space and restricted time on ship; to be home and have the time to do whatever I want is just great.I wish I could say that I have used my time in a fruitful manner and achieved many of the tasks I have to do. Some things have been done, some mail answered, magazines read and pictures uploaded to Flickr. But there is plenty more to do.I have struggled with switching sleeping patterns, and have woken at half three, half four and today, five o'clock. By mid afternoon I feel like a zombie and the sofa calls for a snooze. And so Sulu and I take 40 winks beside the French windows with just the sound of the fledgling seagulls and the occasional passing train to break the silence. I took Julie's Nan out for lunch yesterday; a quiet country pub nearby that does great ploughman's and real ale. She has her 94th birthday next month, just after the wedding, and I have spent most of yesterday designing a photobook full of pictures and the blogs from our trip to Cornwall. I can't wait to see how it turns out, as more of them could be the ideal presents for birthdays and Christmasses for years to come.

Three weeks right now will see us as the new Mr and Mrs H; and how great that still sounds. We have hammered the final details of the wedding with the planner, and now all we need is the weather. Fingers crossed.This weekend we have several things planned. First of all, tomorrow morning Julie goes to pick up her dress if the fitting goes well. And then we head out to the Isle of Sheppy for a 10 mile walk along the mud flats and broken ribs of countless acient wooden ships. And then on Sunday we head to Loughborough to ride on a preserved railway, and see the first all new steam locomotive built in Britain since the beginning of the 1960s. 'Tornado' is not yet running, but is undergoing trieals before the final painting and then main line tests before she can run on the main line and thrill a new generation of children, and many older ones as well!Summer is threatening to come back tomorrow, but they said that for today and it didn't happen. We'll take each day as it comes.

Have a splendid weekend, folks.

Spelling mistakes and grammar corrected. How exciting it all sounds. And it was: marriage, honeymoon and steam trains, sounds like heaven to me.


After a trip away, even if only for a few days, a day working from home always seems like a luxury. Which it is. Wednesday I was up and travelling from half six and got home at half eleven, however I do know that J was up for 21 hours that day, travelling to Amsterdam and back from DK. Bugger that.

The day is quiet enough, I answer mails and file reports as you do. And once the working day ends, I get back to Mr Crosstrainer for a session. Now, it has been some months since we last met, and it was not easy at all. I did 20 minutes, and by the end I was blowing bubbles. But I got it done, and I am pleased with that. What with work trips, holidays, more business trips, orchid hunting and the rest, I just have let it slip, but after seeing my reflection in a shop window in Rotterdam, I have got to do something.

Not much else to report, when Jools came back from work, we had a nice light meal of mozzarella and big tomatoes, which was very, very nice indeed.

It is now too chilly to sit outside of an evening, that might change if we get warmer days and evenings, I guess, but with a stiff breeze, it was too chilly for bat watching.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Thursday 28th August 2014


The alarm went off at at six in the morning, that is really way too early. I had a shower, changed into my power suit (ha) and headed down to check out and find breakfast. I found the lower floor of the hotel full of track-suited rowers, all looking young and lithe in lycra or in ill fitting sports clothing, and coaches with faces sour enough to turn fresh milk. I sit on a table between the Serbian and Croatian teams, wondering if I did the right thing there. There was no resumption of hostilities, so I had a couple of coffees and some fruit before trying to get a place on one of the early shuttle buses to the airport.

After some confusion in why a ticket was needed to board the 'free' bus, but I got one from reception and soon was heading back to the airport and where I hoped I would find my manager so we could travel to the office together. After de-busing and walking into the food hall, I see him just sitting down exactly where he said he'd be, so I grab a coffee and join him, before we try to work out the tickets and additions needed for the ride down to Rotterdam.

Rotterdam Centraal

The train was full, but we got seats and soon the identikit countryside passing by, with buildings and fields on an apparent ever-repeating scene. One part of this area in Holland looks pretty much the same as every other. I'm sure I'm wrong, but fields, giant glasshouses, windmills, drainage ditches and small picturesque towns rolled by. Ho and indeed hum.

At Rotterdam Centraal, we had to change to another local service for the ride to the suburban station where the meeting was to take place.

Rotterdam Centraal

After the meeting, we have to get back to the airport, as we both have evening flights, mine at just before eight, and J's was at ten. So we walk back to the station, and a train is just pulling in, so we jump on that and change at Centraal before riding the inter city service upto the airport. I find the BA desk to check in and pass through customs and I'm in the departure area. J joins me, and we retire to a huge bar on the first floor and order a meal and an ice cold pint and discuss the matters that arose during the day. Sigh. Its going to be a long slog thats for sure.

Rotterdam Centraal

At quarter past seven, I set off to find the gate, just to make sure I don't miss the flight, nothing would be worse than having to spend a night in naughty Amsterdam.......

We get on and I have a window seat, so we take off into the light of the setting sun, and once drinks are served, I sip a glass of red wine as we cross the North Sea and within 50 minutes are dropping through the clouds and into LCY.

At least we have little wait at the gate, and the queue at immigration was short, so withing ten minutes of touching dwon, I was on the DLR heading for Stratford. I have a twenty minute wait on the sparse platform, but the train rumbles in on time, and I get a seat so relax for the run to Ashford where I have to change onto a local service. THankfully, the Dover train was waiting, and within two minutes of me getting on, it pulls out and into the Kentish night and Dover. It was now dark, and little could be seen until we run into Folkestone where the usual mix of drunks and late night workers get on or off.

Jools is waiting at Dover, so we head off where she makes me a huge cuppa. And that is another day done.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Wednesday 27th August 2014


And so work returns with a vengeance. Sigh. To make matters more interesting, I have to be at LCY by about four to catch a flight at five. So, plan how long a journey to Stratford and crossing London so to arrive in Time. But before then, better do some work. And with me having to finish work at about half twelve meant that heading to the office in Ramsgate would be a poor waste of time. So, put a pot of coffee and power up the laptop and get some work done.

That done, I switch the computer off, go to pack, and before leaving decide to have lunch, and in a surprise I find myself wanting pancakes. So, I mix up a batch of batter, oil the pan and soon I am sprinkling sugar and lemon juice on a couple of crisp pancakes. Not exactly the most healthy of lunches, but hey, the hit the spot.

I go drove to collect Jools and hen head to the station so she can drop me off at the station and head back to work, whilst I my ticket and board the train. It seems I spend half my life travelling these days. You know the trip by now up to Stratford and then across to the airport. I did help a lady from the Isle of Man who was getting very lost on the train and did not know where she was in relation to the tube map, so I said, follow me and I;ll get you to the airport. Which is what happened, made tricky by having to change at Canning Town and changing platforms, and then not catching the first train in, but the second. Anyway, it made for some human contact in the naked city.

I checked in, went straight through security. Thing about travelling out of normal business rush hour means the airport is nice and quiet, no queues, no people screaming down their mobiles to sell high or buy low. You know the kind of stuff. I have an hour to kill, so go for a drink at the bar, and settle for a diet coke. Two pounds fifty of your English pounds for a small bottle. I sip it slowly to make it last. So have another.

The flight is delayed, which means more waiting around, and that I will get to Amsterdam an hour later, meaning there is a good chance the hotel will not be serving dinner. A plan forms, to find somewhere to eat at the airport before working out how to get to the hotel.

The flight to Amsterdam is 45 minutes, a quick up and down, and the staff run around dishing out a drink and collecting the trash before we are on final approach. All exciting stuff. We skim over uniform fields dotted with ancient windmills and criss-crossed by drainage ditches. It all looked the same to me, and then there were the acres of greenhouses, some lit up in the twilight. An odd sight. And we land, then spend ten minutes taxiing to the other side of the terminal, which seems to last longer than the flight.

I find a place to eat near where the shuttle bus to the airport leaves from, and order a burger from the joint I am to meet my boss at in the morning.

I find the stand from where the bus will leave from, and a few of us pile on for the short trip to the hotel, The Park Plaza, some fifteen minutes from the airport, far enough away so not to hear the sound of aircraft taking off. The hotel is full of young rowers I guess in town for some competition, all looking so young and healthy. Sigh. I get my room key and find I have been given a suite: I could live in here, it has a bath, shower, separate toilet, mini bar, a huge air con unit and good internet connection. So I spend the evening keeping up to date with the football scores, in particular, Man Utd's game at MK Dons; it was a surprise then to see them losing, and as the game entered the final quarter, going further and further behind, until at full time, they were 4-0 down, and on the wrong end of a spanking. I go to bed chuckling, and relieved that City win 3-1 against Crawley. Four wins in a row.....

Final mention to the musical event of the year. Or decade. Or your lifetime. Kate Bush played her first gig in London, the first since 1979s tour of life, and the ones we tried oh so hard to get tickets for. All of twitter was full of reports of the set list, or alternative suggestions as to what was played. We hope that a recording of one of the shows will be released at some point, so the unlucky ones can share in the magic.

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.


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.