Friday, 21 October 2016

Thursday 20th October 2016

I wake up to the sound of falling rain. More like a waterfall, really. I lay there in the dark as the rain continued to fall, hammering down on the roof of some part of the kitchen down below.

I am used the agenda for the day now; up to check n the news, shower, get dressed and then down for breakfast, taking a table among the thirty or so unoccupied tables, and then there is the usual fabulous feast to choose from. And the coffee machine was working fine too, which is always a bonus.

Out into the rain in the car, making my way along deserted town centre streets, slowing for every crossing so to ensure I don't take out a cyclist, as they never stop and just tear across. I make it to the ring road without ingredient, and then round two massive roundabouts, which no one seems to observe any rules on, so I take care in exiting, pass under the railway and along the docks to the office.

Seems there had been a team event the evening before, and that then stretched into some beer drinking, which meant the offices were just about deserted, so I take the spare office and begin work.

From the office window Through the morning, people turn up for work, and so the place livens up. A couple of bags of filled rolls are provided for lunch, after which there is more of the same work as usual. Not sure what I did, but it took me all day to do it, and am kept on my toes.

At four, I had had enough and packed up my stuff for a drive to the hotel in daylight. I listen to the radio, and afternoon turns into evening, more rain falls.

I am due to meet my minions at seven, but find the whole project team arriving too outside the hotel. Once we are all there we walk to Den Artist for some BQ and beer and good talk. And laughs

From the office window It really does make an evening feel different when there are people to share food and drink with. We are assembled on the mezzanine floor again, filling the table up. The waitress brings us a constant stream of bottled beers and good food.

We left about half nine, and as soon as we had set foot out the door, the rain came down once more. As we walked past the empty bars that remained open, neon lights reflected off the cobbles, but we strode on trying to get back to either the hotel or flats before we got too wet. One by one we peel off until there are just the three of us who were staying at the hotel. Made it just as my rain proof jacket bean to leak. Phew.

More football on TV, I watch it was one eye, whilst fill my time on the internets and listening to the radio.

Wednesday 19th October 2016

I wake up just before my alarm, it is ten to seven, still dark and the room is cold. Perfect.

For some reason I think I am late, so rush round getting ready before going down for breakfast, and find there is a massive bowl of strawberries and another of blueberries. So I have a lot of both, and some yoghurt, then find that the coffee machine is broken.


But there is another on the other side of the room. Panic over. There are just two other tables taken, I look at them and try to guess why they are here. Well, the family with two young daughters are easy I suppose, an out of season break. Better than work, I don't doubt.

A quick drive to the office, after getting the car out of the garage, still a challenge with those tight corners and bends. But I do it without damaging the car, and drive into what counts as rush hour traffic. In fact it is fine in the town, but I know all roads into two will be jammed.

Anyway, I arrive at the office to find the car park nearly full, and teams of technicians have arrived and have three days training. It is now a noisy and busy place, where just two weeks ago our portacabins were calm and quiet. Here begins the madness.

I take the spare office and begin working, dealing with the hot and not so hot issues.

There are fires to deal with, and less important issues too, but the morning rushes past and soon there are rolls and sandwiches to feast upon, and time for talking and even joking.

But then work rears its head again, and I am tied back to the computer for the rest of the day. At least time passes quickly.

By the time we leave the office, it has clouded over and a torrential downpour is falling, turning the late afternoon almost to night. I drive carefully cak, and once having parked the car look out the entrance at the rain falling so heavy it was like a fog. No way was I going far that evening.

I went back to the burger place, had a pork burger made with salt cured pork, and was darn good. I eat alone, read my magazine and make two bottle of strong beer vanish. It is quiet, a few tables are taken, moslty young couple whispering sweet nothings, I guess mainly about waffles, to each other.

Although low tide, the sea was roaring like a wounded monster, and there was the taste of salt in the air. There was also promise of more rain to come, so I beat a retreat to the hotel, picking up a bottle of silly strength beer from the reception.

There is more football on TV, Citey v Barca, and Barca serve up a lesson in football, winning 4-0. Wowzers.

Tuesday 18th October 2016

And so we find ourselves, once again, getting ready for four days away from home. At least this time it is just to Ostend, and this will be my new commute, traveling over by car each week.

I had failed to book my car onto a train, so that was the first task of the day once we had made coffee, fed the cats, etc, And I find that traveling between eight and ten seemed to be peak hour and traveling between those times would cost a hundred quid more. I balked at that, even with the company paying, so book on the first of the cheap services at 10:50.

That gave me a couple of hours to watch football, pack and get ready. So at just gone nine I had run out of things to do, so set off, thinking worse case I could sit in the terminal and have coffee and an early lunch.

It takes about fifteen minutes to drive to the terminal, uneventful and easy even through the roadworks. I arrive and check in and find I am offered the ten to ten train, which I can just make, so fail to stop at the terminal and thus also fail to get the headlight adapters I needed.

Once through immigrations, I find queues everywhere, as unbeknown to me, there were power supply issues in the tunnel. Two and a half rows of cars are allowed to board a train, whilst we wait.And wait.

And wait.

After eleven, we are allowed on, and after some delay we start the trip over to France. I only learn later in the day that the power situation got worse, and many trains cancelled later on. But I made it.

Rain was falling hard, making the hour blast up the motorway tricky, so I decide to take it easy, and make it safe. Heck, I even know the way to the hotel and office without the sat nav now, which is pretty good. Getting past the long lines of trucks and lorries, kicking up huge plumes of spray is interesting, but i press on and soon reach the turn off and after crossing over fields the road enters the strip mall which signals the edge of Ostend.

Along the main road, under the railway and along the docks, there is the turning, and into the road leading to the office. And once inside I meet friends and colleagues, who are running around like crazy things, but then this is par for the course.

I meet up, then get down to work, able to get four hours work in, catch up on mails and news before the office is cleared at half five, and i can drive to the hotel.

The new hotel.

Where I stayed before, was OK, but parking cost €21 a night, and the rooms were tiny and stuffy. So I asked to be moved to one over the road with its own parking, and some rooms have views over the beach. I drive in and find it has the narrowest of ramps, and even with just an Astra, it is hard getting round the corners and up the ramps to the first floor.

I manage to reverse the car into a tiny space, take out my case and walk down the steps to reception, where opposed the the parking garage, it is spacious and clean and swish. I will like it here.

I get my key and go to my suite on the 4th floor, I also have a balcony, but it looks into a courtyard rather than the beach. Whatevs.

At six, I go out to find somewhere to dinner, and remember there is a burger place next door. Outside I meet someone I have seen around various sites over the years, we greet each other and decide to go and eat together. Means we have someone to talk to, and only one of us has to pay.

I have a find burger, topped with creamy Swiss cheese, accompanied by good steak cut fries and strong Belgian beer. The sun has just set outside, the sky is red and orange, but fading to blue and black quickly. There is more than a chill in the air once we leave and walk the ten metres back to the hotel. Above us the waining moon, now four days past full, is shining down, and the deserted prom looks fine. If cold.

Back in my room there is football, and City are playing too. I follow it on Twitter, and get excited as we were two goals to the good at half time, but collapse in the 2nd half to cling on for a draw.

I open the door to the balcony a fraction, so I can hear the wind blowing, so fall asleep to that sound.

Monday, 17 October 2016

Monday 17th October 2016

Autumn has arrived here in the Garden of England. Last week in Denmark, the keen easterly winds had freed many leaves from trees, and drifts of golden leaves gathered on the edge of roads or against buildings. Not quite at that stage here, but we will soon. From Tuesday, temperatures will dip, and in daytime not get about 12 or so. Winter is coming for sure.

But on this Monday morning, I have the luxury of having an extra day at home as I don't travel to Belgium until Tuesday, which means laying in bed until after six, coffee in dawn's cool light, and a commute from one seat at the dining room table to another.

Jools leaves for work at half six, as she struggles to keep on top of things until her boss returns on Wednesday. Meanwhile, I can relax until half seven, drinking coffee, having breakfast and feeding the cats before work calls.

I see at two in the afternoon, something to chill anyone's heart; webinar. We are switching from SAP to AX at work, which means just about all processes will be different, including registering travel claims. I have that to look forward to.

But before then there is the full inbox, people demanding action, and me being action man, ahem, I take action, or more accurately tell other people to take action.

Outside it is a fine, golden autumnal day, but I have no tome for that, other than to arrange a taxi so I can go to collect a hire car from town, so I could arrange my trip to Ostend for the morning. I am collected by the world's only slow taxi driver, who drives all the time in one gear too high, so acceleration when he pulls out onto the main road is too slow, and I think we would get rear-ended. But don't.

A quick coast down Jubilee Way, along Townwall Street and through the neverending roadworks, double back round to drop me off at the hire car office. All of 5 minutes for a tenner. The car is not ready, can I accept a manual? I do. So get an Astra after a while, and then there is the endless form-filling before I can take the car and drive back home. Where the car will stay outside until the morning. I see that traveling between eight and half ten counts as peak on the tunnel, and would cost my employer an extra hundred quid, so as there is nothing urgent, I book the first of the cheaper trains, meaning I have a slow start in the morning.

There is then the rabbit incident: I am in a meeting on Skype when there is a squeek, and Molly has brought in a live baby rabbit. I look at it, it looks at me and runs. With Molly on one side, me on the other we chase it round the living room until I grab it. I take it outside, but can't stop Molly from following me, and as I release the rabbit, Molly spring off in pursuit. The game was afoot. Mulder was to bring it in again in the evening, with the same result. But sad to report, the rabbit's lifeless body was found this morning. So it goes, so it goes.

The afternoon rushes by, I sit in for the webinar, then have to clear old travel claims. This means sorting through months of mails, receipts, which takes until half four. Where has the day gone?

Where has the year gone?

I pack up, and begin to prepare dinner; leftover beef and more vegetables and warmed through Yorkshire Puddings. And fresh roast potoatoes. All on a school day! We are so lucky, and it is good.

The evening is spent listening to an over-hyped game of football which it never had a chance of living up to. Liverpool v Man Utd; Klopp v Jose, whatever, ended up as a 0-0 draw, so poor I nearly fell asleep on the sofa again. But that is the weekend gone, and Monday too. Tomorrow, off to Belgium and work and training and meetings.

Sunday 16th October 2016

Another weekend bookended by weeks away with work. I know I should be used to it, but, you know, urgh.

But before yet more traveling, there is Sunday, and now that we have a fixed car, what should we do? Watch football, clearly. And eat bacon butties whilst watching football too. That does involve me cooking said bacon, then getting greasy hands as I much on breakfast as I watch Alan Shearer try to for an actual sentence. Painful.

King Alfred's Cakes Daldinia concentrica A walk in thw woods seems still like a good idea, but not traveling to Bluebell Hill or Stockbury. But there are places nearby, like Yockletts. Hmmm, Yockletts, yes, I think we shall go there.

But with rain and half a season of fallen leaves, best take some boots, just to make sure we don't get muddy.

A fungi hunt in deepest Kent I am sure the car knwos the way, along the M20 and then up Stone Street, down the narrow moss covered lane and parking at the edge of the reserve. It seems like a fairy tale, when something familiar has gotten old and overgrown; familiar paths are almost blocked by overhanging trees and bushes, the path slippery with mud. But we do make our way to the glade.

A fungi hunt in deepest Kent We pass some fallen tree trunks, some have fungi erupting from their rotten wood. I take pictures.

Once in the glade, we check on the slow worms, but there liar is empty, so we sit on the bench overlooking the valley, and take in the sights and colours of the season. Trees are turning from green, as are some bushes and shrubs.

Down the hill, through the massive trees and across the Gogway, the sunshine of earlier had now gone, and heavy clouds swept over. As we walked up the track beside the road, rain began to fall, and we decided that we had had enough of outside. So we walked back down the hill and through the reserve back to the car. We had not seen a soul all morning.

A fungi hunt in deepest Kent Back up the Gogway and back onto Stone Street, where traffic was hammering along. We cut through Bridge and back along the A2 to home. Getting back just after midday, and looking in the fridge I see there is nothing for lunch, so i make another half batch of short cakes. I rustle them up in half an hour, Jools makes drinks, and soon we have two warm cakes each, and I have a huge cup of tea too. Perfect.

It seems Sky have redefined the word "super" for their super Sunday offering, just as well then because I take to the sofa again and snooze whilst millionaires run about kicking a ball about.

For dinner we have the first roast of the winter; roast beef and three vegetables, with roast potatoes and Yorkshire Puddings. Of course. It is wonderful, even if I say so myself, we are eating it as darkness falls outside, rain falls gently, so we can't see the full moon rise in the east.

The evening peters out, I have a shower and even with an extra day at home tomorrow, it feels just like it did when I was at school, the dread of the upcoming week.

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Saturday 15th October 2016

We slept long and well. Jools had already been shopping, and so we laid in bed until gone seven. I could hear the Robins and Starlings singing for their breakfast, demanding some. As so are the cats. It is nearly full daylight by the time we pull on our dressing gowns and slippers, going downstairs where there is a scene of rabbit murder. Seems like Mulder had caught and killed and butchered a baby rabbit, blood and guts spread around the living room, which was nice. And then, apparently having chocked on fur or a bone, he then brought the rabbit and his dinner up all round the kitchen. Also which was nice.

That he wasn't hungry, and instead lay on the black chair in the back room, barely stirring whilst Molly and Scully ignore the carnage and meow for breakfast.

We clean up, put on some coffee then ponder the great questions of our age; what to do with Saturday. Well, as it turned out, we had to go to Gillingham to pick up a parcel that could not be delivered. You would think that there should be a nearer depot that 40 odd miles away in the Medway towns, but no. So, once we had drunk another coffee, dunked croissants in the coffee, we could go out.

Over the past few weeks, it was clear the car was not well. But by yesterday, it was in a very poor state, Jools had put in non-supermarket fuel and some cleaning agent, but this made no difference, as under gentle acceleration, the engine spluttered and shuddered. We had hoped that what Jools had done would fix it.

But the car got us to Gillingham, turning off the main road into a faceless a dreary industrial estate until we came to the depot. Jools gets out gets her flower supports (don't ask), and we are free to go. But what is this? A garden centre?

Well yes, just a few minutes away, and ideas for our new back garden if the guys ever start it. Anyway, I stay in the car to loisten to Huey, and jOols goes window shopping, but finds it a dreadful experience, as the shop is already decked out for Christmas. So we leave.

My plan was to wander round some of the orchid sites, seeing what they are like out of season, and from Gillingham The Larches is just down the hill, once you get over the M2 anyway. So we drive out of the town, with most traffic heading the other way to the various shops and supermarkets. Not for us.

Down Bluebell Hill we pull off, and the car is really causing us concern. So we look in the manual, find the number of the dealer and call them to see about booking it in. In a surprise move, they can fit us in that morning, so before we had even stepped off the road into the woods, we were packing our stuff away and driving back to Dover.

Back Garden Jools says there is no point in both us going, so she drops me off at home so I can mow the back lawn, whist she takes the sick car to be repaired. I am not complaining, I have only mowed the lawn twoice since coming back from Japan, this being the third, and it looks OK, but with the yellow rattle seed down and spread, I think I had better cut while I have the chance. I am not halway through when Jools comes back, the car fixed: a box had been changed and all is better.

But it is too late really to go anywhere, and I have the lawn to finish, then do lunch and the football doesn't listen to itself. In fact pretty soon after I have finished the lawn, rain starts, and is on and off the rest of the afternoon.

Bishop of Uganda Norwich are at home, and beat Rotherham to go top of the league. Hurrah. The rest of the games blur as I try to stay awake on the sofa with Molly at my feet snoring gently. A fine way to spend the afternoon.

And that is that, really. We have burgers for dinner, and beer, which is fine if unhealthy food. But means we are all done and sitting down ready to watch The Don on the i player.

Banging their heads against the glass window of reality

The previous week was a shameful one in British politics, when the Conservatives embraced nationalism, anti-immigration, intolerance and repatriation of even EU nationals. It was horrific. THe backlash from those with the exception of the Right Wing parts of Fleet Street were strong and swift, not that those self same papers and even the BBC reported it much.

Also on the agenda from Amber Rudd was collecting the names of all foreign born workings and then naming and shaming those firms that employed too high proportions of non-Brits. Or mudbloods if that makes if feel more like fiction.

The Government had to back track on this, and is busy meeting with multi-national companies like Nissan trying to assure them that there would be money for compensation if Britain were to leave the EU and Single Market. Is that was the savings were going to be spent, bribing companies not to leave? It seems that there is a scheme of creating a series of bonded warehouses which would not be part of Britain, but would be in the EU, or something, and there have been leaks of forms already on how to apply to create such a building.

This week the People's Campaign reached court with one day of submissions thus far, and the action resumes on Monday. But already the Government's position has been undermined by the release of a submission to the Hosue fo Lords declaring that Parliament should have the final say after a referendum. Oops indeed.

You really could not make this up.

And so on a daily basis, the Brexiteers and those tasked with delivering the impossible tie themselves in knots in declaring that in order to reclaim sovereignty, the sovereignty of Parliament must be ignored, as the people's will must be respected. Splits in the ranks of the Conservative benches are already showing, and with the appointment of Kier Starmer as Shadow Brexit Minister has meant that there is a semblance of an opposition once more. He published a list of 170 questions (one for each day until the end of March when the PM is supposed to trigger Article 50). That David Davis, one of the three Brexiteers tried to dismiss it as a "stunt", we can think of a word rhyming with stunt that comes to mind when we think of David Davis.

Parliament had a chance to have its voice on Brexit after PMQs, during which Corbyn actually landed some serious blows on the PM. During the debate, serious questions were asked, none of which were answered, and that most of the difficulties were coming from the Tory benches shows that getting any legislation through either Houses is going to be difficult, but then as clearly Davis, Fox knows next to nothing what they are doing, and are being shown up on a weekly basis, maybe scrutiny would be best, only the Government thinks otherwise.

Its all interesting for sure, and many miles yet to run.