Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Wednesday 17th September 2014

Tuesday.

We woke up at dawn to find the house shrouded in thick fog. The BBC promised us a fine and warm sunny day, so lets hope the sun would burn it through.

I needed the car as I had plans to head to Hyde to ride on some very small trains earlier in the day. The drive into Dover was eventful as we drove in and out of fog banks. At the top of Connaught Hill all of Dover was under a thick blanket of fog below. Some might say that would be a good thing, but not me. Oh no.

Arrival at Hythe by #9, "Winston Churchill"

I dropped Jool off and rushed to Reach Road where I guessed the fog would be at its best and picturesque. As it turned out, the sun was already burning most of the mist away, and so I grabbed a couple of shots from the coastguard place before heading home for more breakfast.

Arrival at Hythe by #9, "Winston Churchill"

I drove out to River to pick up my mate Gary, then along the Alkham valley to Folkestone. As you turn into the village the tower of St Anthony is above all the roofs of the houses, and it always bugged me I had not not got inside, but of course, after a very successful Saturday afternoon, I finally did get in and get my shots.

Making Ready

Onto the motorway, a quick blast upto Westonhanger and then down into Hythe to park at the station. Hythe is the start of one of Britain's most remarkable railways, The Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway, a mainline railway, but in miniature. It has been running since before the war, and is now one of the best known in the country, and yet I have not been here since 2007 when I first moved down to Kent. We park up, go in to get our tickets and then have half an hour to wait until departure time.

Waiting for the off

I was concerned when a bus load of Gemran teens arrived, and they had booked the carriage we had sat in. Don't worry, more carriages will be attached we were told. And indeed three more were shunted into position, and so Gary and I took our places in a compartment on our own, there was just enough room for the two of us side by side, and so bang on time, we shuddered off.

Diesel

Despite it being such a long rake of coaches, "Winston Churchill" made short work of accelerating out of the station, and thundered along the winding double track towards Dymchurch, slowing down as we went over each level crossing. We were near the locomotive, so we got to hear it working hard, as well as lungfulls of smoke and steam as well.

The carriages made delightful ckickity clack noises as we ran over the old fashioned jointed track, just like a proper train should. As our speed increased, we were made to sway from side to side, I looked at Gary and he had a smile on his face, as did I.

Like a Hurricane

We trundled up to New Romney where the schoolkids got off and so the remainder of the trip was without the sound of a riot behind. Anyway, soon we were flying inbetween the back gardens of houses built on the shingle of the Marl, and eventually, even they thinned out until we were running between the dune upto the twin power stations at Dungeness.

Gary and I, as well as most other passengers, got out to stretch our legs and to snap the loco. It was a surprise then we with a toot on the whistle the train began to pull out. Gary and I tumble back in as the train accelerated, thankfully it was not going that fast, so there was no danger, but it did make us alught.

We got off at New Romney so we could look round the engine shed, the model railway exhibition and to grab a bite to eat. Gary treated me to a bacon roll and a cuppa, which hit the spot. We walked around the station and yard for half an hour, until it was time to take position on the platform for the one fifteen back to Hythe. It was now darn hot, and getting the air coming in through the door of the carriages was great, although as we were sitting right next to the locomotive, we also got plenty of smoke and steam coming in too.

Back in Hythe, we pack the car and drive home. I needed to do a couple of jobs, and Gary said he could do with a snooze. So we retraced our streaps back along the motorway and then down the Alkham Valley to River. I got the bits and bobs from Tesco, drove home to put it all away, and then just shill out as it was so darned warm. Phew.

That evening I listened to the football on the radio, whilst keeping tabs on City;s game at Brentford. After a dodgy first half, the Bees tired and we rattled in three late goals to go top again. Yay, winning is so much better than losing you know?

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Tuesday 16th September 2014

Monday

So, my first Monday morning on my holibobs, and I decide to walk to Dover. This meant messing around the house for a couple of hours, editing shots, writing blog posts, tending to the cats every whim: the usual stuff. I had planned to walk from Capel back into Dover, but the BBC said there would be rain first thing. As so often these days, the BBC got it wrong. Anyway, I have breakfast, a second cup of coffee, finally hang out the washing, and then I'm all set.

Monday morning walk to Dover. And back.

It was a bright and warm morning, and I put on my walking boots, tightened my belt, grabbed my camera and set off. Quite uneventful walking through the village. I take shots of the three pubs, including the sad sight of The Hope all boarded up. Lets hope, ahem, its open again soon. But once I reached the lighthouse and struck out along the cliffs to Dover, the views, as ever, were breathtaking. Something I never get bored with. It is that first sight of the cliffs, the land just dropping away to the beach below.

Monday morning walk to Dover. And back.

The sun was not bright enough to make photographing the cliffs impossible, and so taking regular breaks I neared Langdon Hole, and another water break. Now that the school holidays are over, there is hardly any other people walking along the cliffs, and seeing someone else was really quite noticeable. Ferries were coming and going, filling the air with the quiet thrumming of their engines.

Monday morning walk to Dover. And back.

As I neared Dover, the Eastern Docks were a hive of activity, with three ferries arriving within ten minutes or so of each other, the traffic soon stacked up. It is always great to see the end of the walk, even if it does involve walking down the impossible steep path from East Cliff. Under Jubilee Way and there I was in the town. A quick crossing of Townwall Street, along the promenade to New Bridge.

Monday morning walk to Dover. And back.

My plan was to head to the newest micropub in Dover, we now have three, and have a pint or two a bite to eat and maybe get a taxi back. What could go wrong?

It was closed that was what was wrong. Closed all day on Mondays. How could I have got it so wrong.

Monday morning walk to Dover. And back.

No worries, I walk round the corner to the Port of Call, order a pint of Ripple and a couple of tapas: fried Camembert and skewered lamb. All very nice. Even nicer was the second pint.

I surprise myself my deciding to walk back after all, and not get a taxi, so have a strong coffee before setting off back along the way I had just come. The worst part would be the climb up East Cliff, and that is how it turned out. The forecast had said it was going to be the warmest day since the beginning of August, and it felt hot. But I took a few rests climbing up, and was rewarded with fine views over the port, with the cliffs stretching away showing me the way home to the north.

Monday morning walk to Dover. And back.

Instead of walking along the cliffs, I follow the bed of the old railway up Langdon Hole, then take the old military road along the very tops of the cliffs to the lighthouse, then cross the fields to St Margaret's church, down Station Road and to home. The final climb was the worst, it was hot and my legs were screaming, but I made it. A walk I used to do without thinking had become a major hike, but, I did it.

Upon arriving home, I find the house covered in scaffold, ready for the work due to begin in a week. The drive is now out of bounds again, but it does mean the end is in sight.

Operation "Big Job": the final phase

Once home, I took off my boots while the cats told me it must be time for dinner.

Jools arrived home, I realise I had forgotten to get anything out for dinner, so we have burgers and beer, followed by raspberries and cream. Dinner of champions. The day ends with me listening to the Hull v West Ham game, which ends 2-2, just in time for bed.

Another day passes.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Monday 15th September 2014

Sunday.

It seemed I needed a rest. Or a holiday from my holiday if you will. I mean it would be tempting to go out taking more pictures, but in truth, it seemed better to sit around and do little as possible. Some might say, of course, no change there. But I couldn't possibly comment on that.

I start the morning watching MOTD and then the Football League Show to see how we came from 2 down yesterday. Oh yes, this is the life.

I even went out into the garden and finished picking up the granite stones from the font garden. It looks 100% better already. Well, between us we have tamed the garden, and front and back it is looking so much better. The standard tree is going to come down, so to open up the view from the house, and for the neighbours too.

It seemed like a good idea to have cheese and wine for lunch. I mean it was a warm sunny day, what could go wrong? Well, we all get snoozy and don't want to do anything of course. Jools goes to visit Nan, who is currently 99 years and 51 weeks old, while I stay at home and cook, or prepare dinner. Put the lamb joint in, peel the veg and generally make myself busy.

We eat at six, our first roast for over a month, and it was like manna from heaven, washed down with vintage cava, if there is such a thing. It is all very nice.

We settle down to watch some TV, a documentary on the history of Byzantium/Constantinople/Istanbul, and it was colourful, interesting, and our eyes began to droop. And so another day in this golden autumn faded, and we fell into the arms of the sandman.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Sunday 14th September 2014

I spent the most part of the last three weeks away, explaining to various non-Brits what the Scottish independence debate/argument/fiasco. I say fiasco, because to me, who like a good debate as much as the next debater, there seems to be a complete lack of facts on which Scottish voters are to base this important vote upon. I mean, it is as yet unclear as to what Scottish independence would mean on the following areas: currency, link with Europe, central banks, the EU, defence, transport and so on. Both Westminster and Europe have said many things negative regarding a yes vote, other than saying vote yes and we'll see if they change their tune, First Minster Alex Salmond offers no facts whatsoever. I for one would be interested to see how a yes vote plays out, but with Deutche Bank forcasting economic meltdown for an independent Scotland, it would be nothing if not interesting. But hey, its not my country.

And if they do vote yes, and it doesn't pan out well, and then they ask to come back into the union, would we?

Who knows? Not Mr Salmond at least.

So, the vote is on Thursday, and we will be in yet another country, but come Friday the fallout will begin.

Saturday.

(third day of holiday, and heritage weekend)

I am sure I said this last year, but here I go again. Please feel free to skip to the next paragraph to avoid rant over cramming in two weekends of the year given to our heritage into consecutive weekends in the same month. So, this weekend is the heritage weekend, and next weekend is Open House London. So, why have your only chance to get into many normally closed buildings in just two weekends? Is it too much to ask to spread these two weekends out a bit? Not that I mind, I book my annual vacation around these weekends, but at least one more chance to gain entry to these buildings over 12 months would be nice.

Also, many of the buildings on the charity 'ride and stride' visits to churches in East Kent which should have been open, or at least manned, were locked fast, and in the case of Northbourne School church, they had not even bothered to place the charity list outside. Very poor indeed.

Top of the list of places to visit were St Mildred's in Preston, Northbourne School church (formally Betteshanger) and Whitfield. As well as Tilmanstone, Alkham, Acrise, Ripple, Ash, Worth and Elham. That I have split these churches into two lists means that the latter half were all open and I gained entry to.

So, we had coffee and croissants, as you would expect on our normal Saturday morning. Although as we had a fill fridge and larder we did not have to go to Tesco. I gave us the chance to catch up with last week's Wittertainment, and then check that the camera batteries were changed, and the memory cards formatted and empty. So, let's get it on and do this!

We drive out to Preston first, as St Mildred's has proven to be almost impossible to gain entry to. On Friday night I checked the master list of churches, and it was included. I dropped Jools off at the edge of the village so she could pick some quince, and and I drove to the church. Now, St Mildred's is down a dead end country lane, and you only drive down here unless you are heading to the church or the farm where the annual steam fair takes place. I don't even bother to take my cameras out just in case it was not open, and as I walked up the church path I saw a trestle table set up, and on the table was the form on which visitors for the day were to be recorded, it was weighed down by a large stone.

Sorry there is no one here to greet you, it said. Well, as St Mildred's is one of the county's most remote churches, and had I spent an half or or more getting here to find that having refreshment here, or the church open was too much of an onerous task, I would be angry. I could jump in my car and head off to the next church. Walkers would have a long and dry walk to the next church which would be Stourmouth, Elmstone or Wingham. At least half an hour's walk to either three.

I went back to collect Jools and we headed to Ash to the next church.

Ash is a huge parish church, for what is one of the larger villages in east Kent. Last time I was here, well, the last two times, it was either closed or had a service going on. Ash, which is typical of a market town, has narrow lanes and so parking is problematic. But we find a space at the village hall, and walk to the main road, then up to the church. Much to my delight the doors are open, and so I am aboe to head inside where we both receive a fine warm welcome. I go round getting my shots, reassuring the person duty I did not want either squash or a chocolate cookie.

Next up was Worth, which is a fine village just outside Deal, and is a wonderful timber towered church down a u-shaped road which doubles back onto the main road. The church is at the farthest point from the main road, opposite the village pub, the Blue Pigeon, and the village pond. It is a wonderful location.

We are greeted warmly once again, which once inside was also a delight. But then almost all churches are. But what I bring from the whole Kent church project is that what really makes this worthwhile are the people I have met, people who love their church and their communities.

What turned out to be the final church of the morning was Northbourne School church, formally the parish church of the mining village of Betteshanger. It takes some finding, and after half an hour of criss-crossing narrow lanes and rolling fields we find ourselves heading down the dead-end lane through the woods to the school. Once again I decide not to get the camera gear out, and just as well as no one had been there that morning, not even to leave a sponsor form. Very disappointing indeed. In fact we head to one more church, another I had low expectations of being open, Whitfield. And indeed those low expectations were met as it was lcoked fast as well. A disappointing end to the morning, with just two out of five churches open.

We drive home for lunch, which turned out to be buttered corn bread for me, before I climb into the car again for more churches in the afternoon.

First up was Ripple, a wonderfully proportioned church, and quite beautiful too. I park up outside and see the door in the centre of the tower was open wide, so I grab the cameras and walk up the path to the door. I am welcomed warmly, and I am delighted to be inside, and the warden sees this too. I take my shots as she points out things of interest, which I am able to snap too. A wonderful church, and an affirming experience after the three closed ones in the morning.

Next was Tlimanstone, another former mining community, and once church on three previous visits was closed. But sitting outside reading the Times was a welcoming fellow, who told me some of the history of the vllage and church, and let me get on with my shots. Did I want tea/coffee/biscuits? The usual stuff. All in all, another wonderful experience for me.

I decide to forgo Eythorne and instead head to another imposing church that has long eluded me; Alkham.

Alkham lays in the valley which also bears that name, and St Martin is at the highest point of the village, and looks wonderful. But getting inside is another matter. So, I park up at the village hall and walk to 200m up the hill, across the main road, through the pub car park, and up into the church yard. The sun had come out bathing the flint church in warm sunlight. It looked glorious. I pushed open the door and it swung open. I quickly raced round getting my shots, signing the visitors book and dropping a quid in the collection box.

Back down by the village hall the winterbourne has dried up from the torrential conditions we saw at the end of winter, leaving behind a dry bed and muddy pools. How different indeed. I climb back in the car, put on the radio so I can listen to the early game and drive to the start of the M20 and onto the Elham valley.

Acrise is named for the oak trees that used to grace the hill here, but now it is a quiet and woody spot, the church once used by the family in the large house next door. I have been here before, in the dark winter days before I started on the Thanet project. It was locked then, and the trees all bare and reaching for the cloudy skies like fleshless hands. Now, in warm sunshine I was the light-dappled track leading to the church, disturbing the warden reading a book whilst sitting in a deckchair. She goes inside, turns on the lights, as another couple arrive to look inside. The church is glorious, and is graced with a balcony. I get my shots as the couple ask questions.

St Martin, Acrise, Kent

It is now well after three, and the radio tells me that Norwich are already two down after just 20 minutes. I groan, maybe we could bounce back, but is that likely? I drive down the hill to Elham, find a parking space in the square between The Crown and the church. All around are ancient Arial motorcycles, and their riders are all dressed in leather drinking pints outside the pub; what a fine way to spend the afternoon!

The church is open, and is on a grand scale. It is richly decorated, and I take my time in getting the shots. I am almost tempted to go to the pub, but get back in the car, all churched out, ready for the drive home. It is now four and City grab an early goal back soon after I set off. As I head through Folkestone Wes grabs an equaliser, and as I drive up Jubilee Way to the Duke of York we take the lead. Once home and the kettle is boiling for a well-earned cuppa, we grab a 4th and the points are ours. We go back joint top again.

That evening, we watch the institution which is last night of the proms, with all its unashamed jingoism, more obvious by the sight of the flagwaving from Edinburgh. Strange times we live in. The final song is Jerusalem, my Dad's favourite, and one that always reminds me of him. My eyes grow moist at the thought.

Still miss you, Dad.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Saturday 13th September 2014

Friday.

(2nd day of holiday)

First job of the day, sadly, is to take Jools to work, as she does not have enough holiday with the temporary job to be able to take more than a couple of days. I then drop her off at the factory and head up to Tesco mising with the rush hour traffic. Up through Buckland and up to the supermarket. I whizz round getting supplies to last the weekend and maybe beyond. I have to get back, but the shopping away before the guys turn up to finish the windows. I have coffee and croissants and am just checking on my cameras to make sure they are charged and memory cards fitted. It is possible to go out without them. Apparently. Folkestone Harbour Branch

As the boys are unloading their gear, I drive out, en route for Folkestone and the bamboo installation on the harbour branch, not because I like the piece or even bamboo, but it will offer fine views of the abandoned line. At least with the kids back at school, the roads are fairly clear and there are plenty of parking spaces. I get a spot down by the harbour, cross Tram Road to the steps leading up to the line. Indeed, the views are splendid, but really so is the installation. As to whether it is art is another matter. What is art anyway?

Bamboo Curtain

I try to find some other pieces, I was told there is one behind the Quarterhouse, but I find some sort of playground instead. Walking back down Tontine Street, I see a nice looking independent coffee shop, which also hapepned to be vegan. I have a coffee and a vegan butterfly bun. The coffee is good, the bun less so, more like foam padding around a TV or something. But hey, it did taste of banana which was just as well as it was a banana bun. Or cupcake they said. It was a bun.

The Electrified Line by Garbriel Lester

Honest.

I drive up towards Wingham and onto Ramsgate, as Pugin's house is open for the weekend, and as the church was stunning, what would his house be like? I park up along the wide road leading away from the town centre and take the short walk back to The Grange, his house. You enter the house through the longest and most wonderful of porches. I take shots and one comes out rather well.

The Grange

Once inside the entrance hall, you are confronted by a effigy of the Madonna and child, which is an odd thing. But the rest of the ground floor of the house is stunning, all walls covered by bespoke wonderful wallpaper featuring his family crest and motto. On the first floor there are the family bedrooms, the master bedroom, even more oddly has a statue of the Virgin Mary looking over the marital bed. Very odd, or it seemed to me. Anyway: on the next floor there was a single bedroom, for his apprentice, and above that an open space at the top of the tower giving wonderful views over The Grange, the church next door and the town beyond. A wonderful place, but not feeling much like home to me.

The Grange

Getting back in the car, I head to Fordwich where I wanted to go round the town hall, but also to try out one of pubs in the village. Sorry, town.

When does a village become a town? When is it big enough to be a town? I ask this because driving into the town on the sign there is the addage that this is Britain's smallest town. I was sure that the interwebs would have something to say about that claim. And indeed I was right, other towns do have something to say about that, but, Fordwich is the town with the smallest area. I think that is it. Because these things are important. Very important.

Thing about Fordwich is, that it is a medieval town, with its street plan unchanged for hundreds of years. What this means is that modern traffic does not mix well with the narrow streets, and parking is at a premium. However, I do find one, and head to the George and Dragon, I think it was. I order a pint and a crayfish and chilli mango bagel. As you do. You see the things I put up with when I'm on my holibobs. The beer is excellent, as is the bagel. I spend the time eating, drinking and people watching. The other diners are women who lunch, sipping chardonay, or whatever white wine is popular.

I drink up and walk over to the town hall, the dungeon is just being unlocked. Looks like I'm just in time. You reach the chambers by climbing up the steep steps, and inside it is an ancient court, complete with ducking stoll and a drying room for those women who did not drown when tried for being a witch. Nice. We are showed around by a local guide, and it is all very interesting. I get my shots and then head home, hoping to beat what counts as rush hour in east Kent.

The boys were just packing up, all windows have now been done, and very nice the house is looking too. I offer them beer, which they accept and sup the precious amber liquid right down. We shake hands and they are free, free to drink other peoples beers and tea next week. I pick up Jools, and once back home we cook pan fried aubergine to go with the pasta salad I had also made that morning, washed down with a cheap bottle of red. Before retiring to the patio to watch the sun set, stars come out and then the moon rise. It was chilly, showing the year is really getting on now. It is dark by eight, and feels like autumn.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Friday 12th September 2014

Thursday.

Day off (all day)

It is an odd fact that all morning I had a sense of unease if not panic that rather than dossing around at home I should have my work laptop out and be bashing away at the keyboard. But Ian, you're on your holibobs I tell myself. And indeed I am.

First day off

I listen to the radio all morning, edit some photos, make some bread, have lunch, read a magazine. Until sometime about two I do get round to some work. Also, not quite true, as I did go on a sloe hunt in the morning, at the top of the field that runs along the bottom of our garden. Expecting a bumper crop, I found only a thin harvest, and more than half were under-sized and not all juicy. I pick them anyway, hoping that I have enough for a litre of gin, but we shall see when we get around to buying the gin.

Big Job update

At two I go out to the front garden and begin sorting through the stones and gravel, saving the blue granite we laid some five years ago, as part one of the the next stage of the project; the gardens. Just over two hours of bending down sorting through stones was enough to knacker my back. What has become of me? I am soft, or going soft as I get old. But I have done half the garden, and the rest will be done on Sunday. It already looks better if truth be known.

In fact what with house getting near done and the garden coming along, Chez Jelltex is looking mighty fine, and at the beginning of October it should all be done.

We settled down in the evening to watch a documentary about Stonehenge, all filled with fancy dan graphics, but it was good enough. And it seemed the excitement of that wore us out, so we went to bed at nne fifteen. We'll be drinking horlicks next....

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Thursday 11th September 2014

It is an odd feeling walking up on the first morning of 17 straight days without work, telling myself not to worry about work, as you don't have to for like over two weeks. So, little by little I am chilling out, thinking up ways of filling the days that stretch out before me. Jools has gone to work taking the car, so I will mill around the house, doing chores and getting stuff done, inbetween the sitting around doing nothing, like usually happens.

Anyway, back to earlier in the week.

Tuesday.

We had a late start back at the factory, not having to be there until nine, but we find ourselves all ready to go at twenty past eight, so drive the 6km to the factory and prepare for the day ahead. At least this would not last past half two as the auditors have flights to catch, so we put up with the circular nature of the day counting the minutes down. In the end, we finish at half one, and we wave them off at two, and Anni and I head back to the hotel. After just 5 hours sleep, thanks to the beer and mozzies, I take to my pit for a couple of hours before a short walk before dinner, where I find myself on a bridge overlooking a marshalling yard hoping to see some train on train action.

BASF

I see a single shunter, bustling back and forth, so I snap that as it passed beneath me, before heading back to the hotel to meet with Anni for pre-dinner drinks. And then dinner. And then back to my room to catch up on work, as I have to clear my in tray by the time we leave for the airport at ten the next morning. This meant working through a warm and sulty evening, and I failed to head out to snap the super moon rising over the bell tower in the centre of town, which we saw on the way back from the restaurant the evening before. I take to my bed at half eight, and soon sleep takes me, and the mozzies get to work having their dinner. And supper.

Shunting

Wednesday.

I am awake at half five thanks to the early night previously. I put the computer on to listen to some music and wait until seven until it was time for breakfast.

I have the usual things; fruit, yoghurt, a roll filled with cheese. And coffee. Lots of coffee. Anni Joins me and we chat about work and stuff. And back to my room, to finish a re-write of a document so it can be sent off before ten. That done by nine, I pack, take the lift down to the lobby to check out. Anni is waiting so we make an early start for the airport.

Roller coaster for cars

Its a quiet drive, although made exciting by the high powered cars hurtling past us on the autobahn at 'oh my goodness that was quick' speeds. Or words similar or ruder.

Finding a place to drop the car off was trickier than it should be as they seemed like to hide the signs, but we find it, and within a couple of seconds we have logged the car in, and we can walk to the departure hall to check in. But we are a tad early. I have three hours before the flight, and Anni has four. And I suspect, correctly, that I will not be able to check in until two hours before the flight is due. Anni, flying with another carrier is able to drop her bags off, I have to stand in line for 35 minutes until twenty past eleven. The assistant sits at the desk looking at the clock, and does not try to log in un til the clock ticked to twenty past. As I was in the front, I get to check in first, request a window seat, and am free to go through security.

Flughafen Dresden

Anni is waiting me the other side, so we go for an early lunch of salad and a diet Coke. All exciting stuff. I look for some stuff to buy in the shops, but I bault at the price of the whisky, and the chocolates are the usual tourist stuff, like Toblerones the side of mountains and the such. At just before one the gate opens, and so I big farewell to Anni and take me and my work bag to the flight.

Once again I have a row to myself, and no space to store my bag above my seat, but I see now the narrow overhead lockers are such above these rows due to the fact the wings take up some of the space, and being quite important on planes, I don't mind. No delays this time, we taxi away and roar off down the runway and into the blue sky and home. Home for my holibobs.

Europe is covered in cloud, and I see no land until we reach the Dutch coast and I see the mouth of a large river. I had passed most of the flight sipping a glass of red wine and reading the interesting in flight magazine. No, you read that right. And down we came, flying over the Essex coast, breaking through the cloud cover north of Southend and flying over to Kent then round south London before turning to swoop low over the river, passing over the Houses of Parliament, The Barbican and The City. Again.

Landing at two in the afternoon means no competing with other flights for landing slots, so we run straight into final approach and straight to the runway, bouncing and then being thrown against the seat in front as the pilot selects full reverse thrust. We stop at gate four, the doors open and we are free to go, and no waiting at immigration, just those who were rushing to get off the flight first.

My case is waiting at reclaim, so I walk to the DLR station catch the first train to Canning Town and change for a train to Stratford. I realise I could catch the five to three train, but decide on the one twenty minutes later direct to Dover so Jools could get the full eight hours work in, and no upset the company. So, at Stratford I head to the cafe for a brew and to finish the book I had been dipping in and out of for the last three weeks. So I decide to wait on the platform.

Being just before the start of rush hour, I get a seat on the train, and so I can now really begin to relax as we storm under East London, through south Essex and under the Thames. Jools is waiting at the Station, I load my cases and we drive home, up onto the cliffs and along Reach Road.

I am on holiday!

We have fish and chips for dinner, and as the day fades we discuss the work on the house, as now we have confirmation of a start date for the rendering, the windows have almost all been done, so just the final act to do.

And I'm on holiday. Did I mention that?

I try to watch an episode of Top Gear, but Clarkson really is a dick and I can't bear it, so switch the TV off. I unpack, have a shower so I am all nice and clean for my holiday.