Sunday, 1 March 2015

Sunday March 1st 2015

Saturday.

Normally, being at Saturday we would be out and about, photographing things, moving onto somewhere else to photograph that. And so on.

Last Dawn of February

Instead, we had a quiet day. A quiet day because except for a couple of hours in the morning, rain did fall from the sky. And kept falling.

So, after breakfast. And second breakfast, we went into town, I bought a new belt, some veg for Sunday dinner. Oh and the butcher in London Road for a joint of beef. For Sunday dinner. I like to plan ahead. Jools went to the bank, M&S, we met back up at the car and drove home, home in time for Fighting Talk on the radio, and an early dinner of cheesy beans on toast. A simple meal, but bloody lovely.

By twelve, the rain had begun to fall, so with the radio on, I settled down for an afternoon of photo editing, listening to football and snoozing on the sofa with scattered cups of tea and coffee.

From the kitchen window, rain fell like sheets across the valley, hiding the rest of the village from view. The cats did not go out, and were happy enough to keep us company by sleeping. If that is company.

For dinner we had sausages and sauteed potatoes, another fine meal, simple but nice.

We settled down in front of the TV to watch the last episode of a Very British Murder, then Reginald D Hunter's travelogue on music of the Deep South. A great show, light in tone, but racism was never far from the surface, but for the most part it seems things are getting better, other than the poverty of course. I rounded off the evening with several whiskys and a selection of Lone Justice tunes.

Sunday.

After a late night on the whisky, I awoke when the heating switched on at seven and laid in bed until half past, trying not to think about my headache. Would coffee help? I came downstairs to find the living room full of feathers: apparently Mulder had gotten bored with waiting for breakfast and had found his own. Coffee did help, as did a slow start of sitting on the sofa watching MOTD. Outside, dawn gave way to a glorious, cloudless morning.

The plan, was to sort out the front garden. Being ambitious, I had an idea of how to make the front garden look nice: we had bought a slate monolith last autumn to be a focal point. Well, after spending £150 on that, I had better follow through. The idea was to cover an area with a membrane, put in some edging, install monolith, cover with slate chippings that I rescued last September, and that would be that. We removed the paving slabs, the bird table, and I laid the membrane down, and I began to install the edging, slates, that would keep the chippings in place. I anticipated the job would take an hour.

What I had forgotten was how out of shape I was, and how unused I was to labour now. But, we got the membrane down, I put in the edging on one side, and hat brought us to lunch. Two scotch eggs and a large brew later, I pressed to complete the job before two so I could follow the big game on the computer. I dug the slates in, cheating on two sides by breaking then in half so not having to dig such a deep trench. We had broken the back of it, we moved the bags of chippings up from the shed, disturbing a sleeping toad sheltering under one of the bags.

Front Garden: job done

We were a few short, so I went to B&Q for three more bags, back again, we filled the gaps, raked them flat, and all was done. Phew.

And it was just two o'clock, five minutes before kick off of the Old Farm Derby, City v Ipswich. It was not on the radio, and not on any TV stations we have, but on Twiter and the BBC I followed via text and tweets. 1 up at half time, scoring a scrambled second on the hour, and it never really seemed in doubt. Time ticked away, and we ran out winners. More important we had beaten a promotion rival and leapfrogged over then to 3rd in the table, just a point now from one of the automatic places after sis wins on the bounce.

Front Garden: job done

I watched the second half of the Ireland v England egg-chasing game, whilst listening to the good ol boys on Canary Call thanks to the magic of the interwebs to find that one chap was celebrating the win by taking his dog for a walk, and the dog had a City short on. Of course it did; and there were pictures to prove it.

At 5, I put the beef in the oven, the first one I have cooked this year, and soon the house was filled with the smells of a traditional roast. 90 minutes later we were tucking into dinner, at the end of a busy but productive weekend. Back to Denmark tomorrow, but should be home for a whole week from Friday. Imagine that....

Saturday, 28 February 2015

Saturday 28th February 2015

Friday.

Is it Friday already? With the traveling, sometimes I have no idea what day or time it is. But, being a Friday, I am home. Jools goes to work, leaving me with the computer and waiting for the plumber who said he will be round at a time described as 'Friday'.

I have breakfast, switch the computer on and get stuck into the mails. I am feeling down at the moment, a lack of appreciation by some people within the organisation, and I feel not so enthused, despite having down a good job. However, no time to think about things, as mails flow in. And back out.

Signs of spring

At twelve the plumber arrives, I suppose I should explain, that the one radiator we decided not to replace two years ago as it was the newest and in good condition, developed a leak two weeks ago, and has got worse. Now, with me working away, and Jools being out of the house from seven to six, it is almost impossible to get any repairs done in the house, as there is no one here to let them in. But, back home on Thursday on the possibility of the plumber coming round, I am here.

Obviously, he does not believe our measurements of the radiator, and measures it himself. He calls the supply shop: they had a radiator, pulls a figure out of his head for the cost of the work: like we have a choice. So I say yes, get it. Expecting him to arrange another day to come back to do the work, he says he will do it in the afternoon. So, an hour later, he comes back, the banging and knocking means work is impossible, so I switch the computer off, as the weekend arrives early.

There is the usual problems in isolating the radiator before it can be removed. There is the usual search for the two stopcocks that our house seems to have. That done and the pipes empty, we find that the supports have been plastered over years ago, which means that we have to chip the plaster away. And then the supports come off, holes are drilled, the new supports in place, the radiator connected, and the water flows back in and the warming begins. A quick tidy up, and the job is done, powered by a single cup of coffee.

Last of the winter sunshine

Let the weekend begin.

Time just to do some work in the garden; transplant two gooseberry bushes, weeding and then scattering compost over the pruned raspberry canes. I am helped by the three cats who are curious as to why I am outside. As the sky clouds over, I sit on the bench, sipping a glass of Danish Christmas ale that a friend gave me this week. The sun set, and at five, Jools came back from work. Now it really was the weekend.

At seven, we drive to Bridge for a meal at the Red Lion, which the taxi driver on Thursday recommended. We had reserved a table, though in truth just the four choices of mains, and the portions being quite small meant that I feel it was not good value for money, but what there was tasted very good. We had cheese and crackers for desert, and that was much better. Jools drove back, and despite being early, it seemed like bed time, so after a shower, we gave into our yawning, and headed up the wooden hill.

Friday, 27 February 2015

Friday 27th February 2015

Thursday.

My alarm goes off at a quarter to six, just 15 minutes before the first flight is due out of the airport. If the alarm hadn't have woken me, then the engines starting would have done. Anyway, I am awake, and going home soon. Or as soon as I have a shower, pack and go down to breakfast and walk the 400m to the terminal.

So, showered, dressed and packed, I walk down to the breakfast area, have a roll with chocolate spread, a cup of strong coffee. Other red-eyed people are about, not making eye contact. It is just a few minutes walk to the terminal, but bloody cold out in the early morning air. At least it is starting to get light already, the year is getting older and time marches on. There is a queue to check in bags, so once through there, into security and then into the departure hall. I won't call it a lounge, cos it is heaving with skiing types off to break their legs.

I have time to catch up on my mails, head upstairs for a poor cup of coffee: silly me, I should have asked for a nice one. I burn my finges carrying the paper cup back downstairs to where I could seat, as passengers from a delayed flight had filled the cafe up, feasting on free breakfast via their vouchers. Which is only right.

My flight is called, so I walk along through immigration to the gate, some more waiting, and time to leave. I am in my usual seat, 8A, so settle down with a view out of the window, waiting for engine start and seeing the flux coming out of the engines. That done, we taxi off, and leap into the clear blue skies, turning south and into the cloud which covered the rest of the flight to London. I accept the free breakfast, and more coffee. That feels better.

We descend from cruising height, below is just cloud. I glimpse something of the Essex coast through a gap in the cloud, but even that is soon lost. Engines scream, flaps are deployed, and we leave the cloud as we are over Burmarsh Prison, over the river and down. It is raining, but we are home. Or in London anyway.

No queue at immigration, so there is a short wait for my case, and up on the DLR station, I get off the escalator just to see a train leaving heading for Stratfod, still, just an 8 minute wait for the next one. Gives me a chance to people watch the city types heading to the City on Bank-bound trains. Once on my train, it is busy enough for there not to be a seat for me, but as I have been sitting for hours, I enjoy standing up for a while.

There is time for a coffee and a hot sausage roll at the cafe in Stratford International station.

I wait in the platform, wondering how on earth in the 21st century, a modern station, international station apparently, can be a concrete box in the ground, so ugly: what were they thinking of? Anyway, the train rolls in, still looking wonderfully modern, it will whisk me to Dover in under an hour. It is grey and drizzling, but I heading through the Essex marshes, under the Thames and into Kent. Alongside the motorway to Ashford, and then to the coast at Folkestone and at the feet of the cliffs to Dover.

I grab a taxi to take me home, through the lorries heading to the port, up Jubilee Way and into the mist that hugged the top of the cliffs. It was cold and damp in St Maggies, but I was home. I open the back door, expecting to be greeted by welcoming cats, but they carry on sleeping upstairs. I make pancakes for dinner, dusting them with sugar and sprinkling lemon juice once cooked, in the traditional British way.

Jools comes home at six, just as I had finished cooking chorizo hash, the house was filled with the small of cooking galic, onions, sausage and smoked paprika. Lovely. As we ate, a young badger feasted on peanuts outside, having arrived before it was totally dark, an unusual event. But then these are the very hungriest of times, as food in the wild is very scarce now.

We ended the evening by listening to the new Public Service Broadcasting album on vinyl, which arrived during the week. It is glorious.

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Thursday 26th February 2015

Sunday.

For the second week running, a full weekend, all the way from Friday at five to Monday morning at eight. That this feels luxurious shows how busy I have been playboying myself around Europe, doing my stuff. Anyway. A weekend. At home.

And waking up with the light of dawn, with the sun rise a few minutes away, the blackbirds chirping away reminding me that they are darn hungry and how about some seeds? The cats were also complaining about how hungry there were too ,and what with the football on TV in a half hour, I had better get up and do the feeding, make some coffee.

There was no clouds in the sky, really I should have been out, walking the earth, but instead I am sitting watching football on TV, sipping coffee. The BBC said that the day would get windy and wet, so if we were going to get out, we had better get our boots on sharpish.

Sunday morning walk

Although, just sitting here watching the world go by was also tempting.

In the end we got out of the house just gone ten, and already clouds were rolling in, and there was a breeze blowing too. After a week of unsettled weather, the ground underfoot was muddy, and so walking much beyond the pig’s copse was pretty much out of the question. Also out of the question as there was family to visit and the such. Due to my travel, I had not seen the inlaws for many weeks, and Nan not since Christmas.

Sunday morning walk

As it turned out, I ducked out of visiting Nan, and went to the house of whispers instead. Tony was in good form, so we chatted and he smoked. He switched the TV on to watch the snooker, he carried on smoking. With the ban on indoor smoking now 8 years old, my thought is how on earth did we ever put up with it? I was chased into the living room where the snooker was also on the TV there, as Jen does not like the smoking either.

It is some years since I watched any snooker, and its fair to say that after half an hour, I was done with that. So it was good when Jools came back to pick me up and take us home. Duty done for another few weeks anyway.

Back home via Tesco, the first time I have been there in like months. Shudder. Anyway, with the addition of some cupcakes that wasn’t on the list, we headed home for coffee and for me to listen to the football on the radio from the sofa.

We snacked on scotch eggs for dinner, and some mini pizza things. Oh and red wine. That worked. Outside the rain began to fall, getting heavier and heavier. The cats sat on windowsills looking mournfully at the rain coming down. I found the KLFs first album on You Tube, so the evening passed with Bill Drummond’s rapping and stolen beats. Not a bad evening. But once again, the weekend had slipped by.

Tomorrow, off to Denmark.

Monday.

I am writing this at the Zleep Hotel in Billund on Thursday, and Monday seems like a lifetime ago. I can barely remember what the weather was like, where I got on the train. But, it is all coming back to me.

Jools thought she would let me sleep on after the alarm went off, or when she got up, with the result, I woke up at quarter past six, less than half an hour before we had to be out of the house. Cursing, I got dressed, went down stairs, had coffee went to clean my teeth. Luckily I had packed the night before, so all was ready to dash out the door. I just hoped I had everything, as I never take my passport out of my bag, I should at least travel and buy whatever I might have forgotten.

Jools dropped me off at Martin Mill, with just enough time to get my ticket, get out on the platform in time for the train. I bag a seat at a table, I decided being surrounded by bankers and the such reading the FT would have to do, it was the only seat from which I could keep an eye on my case in the luggage rack anyway.

Along to Guston, down through the tunnel ,and then winding our way through Charlton to Buckland Junction and onto Dover where dozens of people were waiting. The same at Folkestone Central, and by the time we left Folkestone West it was pretty much standing room only. As I have said so many times before, this is now so routine, I hardly think of it as anything abnormal, commuting to Denmark, but then since the trains changed, it meant I had to either catch a much earlier train or a slightly later one if I wanted to leave from Martin Mill. In my heart I knew there was time, but with each red signal or slow part of the journey, I imagined being late for the flight.

After a very slow trip through the tunnel under east London, I got off, waited for the crush to die down on the concourse above. It is just a 15 minute trip to the airport, and once there I was told due to a snow storm in Denmark, the plane inbound was delayed by two hours, please wait in the lounge. So, instead of having just an hour to wait before departure, I had nearly three. So, breakfast it was then.

Sitting at a table were three of the newer monkeys from Thanet. So, I sat down and chatted, they were off for some training. What is it you do, they asked. I often ask myself much the same I answered, the standard answer. But they seem decent blokes, all away from their families for ten days of travelling, hotel living and boozing.

The flight was called at half ten, but we did not move off until quarter past eleven, and with a strong tail wind the flight should take just under an hour and a half. I had the cold meal, for a change. I knew there would be no food by the time I got into the office. Denmark was warming up, only the highest ground, I say highest, but you know, still was white with snow, but that was melting fast too.

I got the hire car, set off on the familiar road to Esbjerg, no snow there, being near the sea, and hardly no people either. I did manage to get my computer fixed, so at least I could get some project work done now.

At four, I went to the hotel to check in, go to my room, unpack and switch the computer on to write some mails. At seven I went out to the Dronning Louise for dinner, but they have had a revamp and are doing blander beers and ales now. But the food is OK, and there is room and warm, so I have lamb burger and two local ales, before I realise I am tired, so I walk back along the deserted main street back to the hotel, above the crescent moon shone brightly, and it was bitterly cold.

Tuesday.

Up at six as I have a 90 minute drive to Lem for the day’s work. I have a shower, dress, go down for breakfast. It is just getting light, and was at least not raining, a good morning for a drive. I usually like to listen to the radio or think about what to do next weekend, but these days my head is full of work-related problems: does this mean I am growing up? I hope not.

Work goes well, the day passes quickly, and at half four, all is done and as the sun sinks in the east, I drive back along side the fjord and down to Esbjeg, arriving back at dusk. What is Denmark like? Like a slightly hillier Norfolk I once said: a mix of farmland, bogs, forests and small towns. Its not unpretty for sure. Does that even make sense? The fjord is really a salty lagood, behind the dunes on the west coast.

I head back to Dronning Louise for dinner, past the familiar shops with their oddly Scandic fashions, manequins on odd poses, especially the one in the lingerie shop which always makes me think it’s the polishing the floor pose, just what you would do in pants and bra. Or not. My friend can’t meet up, so I have a couple of beers, a plate of nachos, and I think rather than go to the sports bar, I will watch the Citeh v Barca game from my bed. Which means I can keep an eye on the City game, who come from behind to win at Ewood Park, 5 in a row now. I go to bed happy.

Wednesday.

Last full day in Denmark, and a day in the office, catching up on all those oh so dull but oh so Important tasks that the project requires. To celebrate I go back to sleep and wake again at seven fifteen. I pack, go down, pay my bill, have breakfast and am in the office by eight twenty, raring to go.

Bit by bit I go through my list of tasks, and by early afternoon I just had the test plan to update, but feeling enthused I even managed that, finishing at four. Congratulating myself, I thought I would take myself to Billund, hand the car in, check in the hotel room and treat myself to burger and a beer at the terminal.

Which is what I did. Hmmmm, dirty food, whilst ready Mojo, a music magazine, reading about music.

And now, here I am. In my room, more mails written, 12 hours before my flight home. If there is no snow. Of course

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Sunday 22nd February 2015

Friday.

And here I am back at home, laying in bed, blinking in the half light as another dawn creeps over East Kent and round the edges of the bedroom curtains. Why can't it be Saturday? Instead it is Friday, and I have the day to get through, including another two hour tele-conference, and then there is the mails and lurking in the background, the spectre of the unassigned travel expenses.

I had a coffee, another coffee. Breakfast. And then switched the computer on the be greeted with the early morning avalanche of e mails. Those dealt with, I have 15 minutes before the meeting, an early lunch, another coffee. And settle down at the screen once again to listen to the meeting.

I don't know why, but come two in the afternoon, I have had enough, most of my colleagues have left the office, whatever else I need to do can wait to Monday. So I switch off too, go to the sofa and listen to more Radcliffe and Maconie whilst the cats bother me for an early dinner. I ignore them and close my eyes. Outside the sun sinks, and the day fades. But it means the weekend is to begin, which is clearly a good thing. In all, it has been a great week, with plaudits coming at me from all directions, at times I felt I was even enjoying the thrill of the battle and the challenges being thrown. Whatever next?

Jools came home at 5, and I had cooked pasta for dinner. I opened a bottle of wine to wash the pasta down with, and send me to sleep of course. The evening passes, we listen to the radio, listen to some music, but then agree that an early night is called for, as we were on our travels the next morning.

Saturday.

Aah, the weekend. It seems so long since we last met. However, thing about being busy is that the time seems to fly. A quick look at the calendar reveals it will be March in a week and the clocks go forward in 5 weeks. In truth the winter does not seem to have been that bad, again, although I have seen snow and bitter cold, not just here.

A few days back, a friend of mine posted shots of a fine Victorian church, and it seemed right when we thought about heading to London, that we should also pay it a visit. So, all there was to do was decide what else, if anything, we would like to do, and then make sure we were out of the house in time to catch a train. In the end it was the quarter to nince train from Martin Mill, trains to London via the high speed line now stop at the bottom of the hill, which means free parking, and a two minute drive there and back. Even still, we managed to leave the house with less than 10 minutes before departure time, would we make it?

Yes, and with more than 5 minutes to spare.

Martin Mill

We get a seat with a table on the left hand side of the train, perfect for views over Dover as the train left Guston tunnel, and for the usual sights on the way into London that I like to see and mark our progress towards the city. The train is already busy, and pretty much full after we leave Folkestone, and standing room only once we leave Ashford. And these were supposed to be white elephants, now they are so well used.

Dover

Instead of getting off at Stratford when I fly out of LCY, we stay on to St Pancras. We wait until the crowds thin out, going through the barriers. Our plan was to go down the wonderful passageway to what is advertised at St Pancras Square, we go down to the tunnel leading to it, only to find the doors leading to it locked fast. We look in, take photos through the glass panels, and so decide to head for the church right away instead.

Empty

We walk to the Victoria Line, board a busy train to Oxford Circus, which is very busy indeed. We make our way up to street level, walk up Great Portland Street only to leave the crowds behind, the streets were ours, or ours and a few others taking the less busy paths avoiding the shopping in Oxford Street and Regent Street. We see the spire from the end of Margaret Street'c corner, we make our way along, me hoping that it would be open. I now take the cautious approach and write beforehand to make sure. The first door I see is locked, but there is another at the other corner of the courtyard, and it is open wide, and welcoming.

Beneath Oxford Circus

The church is splendid, highly decorated in the English Gothic Revival style: I may have given it the wrong name there, but it is fabulous nonetheless. Every surface is decorated, there are carvings, and decorated tiles everywhere. In contrast, two young men are sleeping here, almost certainly homeless and seeking somewhere warm in which to rest. We are quiet as I go round getting my shots.

All Saints, Margaret Street

As we leave, a lady is waving at us, we enter the house part of the church to where coffee and cakes are being served. Apparently there is a gathering of flower arrangers, but we are welcome to have some coffee. Cake? Its all very nice I have to say. The flower arrangers arrive, Jools and I make our excuses and leave. I have wanted to see inside All Souls outside the BBC at the top of Regent Street. When we arrive after a short two minute walk, there is a service under way, a funeral, or celebration of life, so we quietly leave and make our way to the small cafe in Little Portland Street for coffee and salt beef sandwiches.

Jools wants to visit a bead shop near Carnaby Street, its just a short walk away, ten minutes perhaps, but it means battling the hoards of shoppers. In Carnaby Street, my eye is caught by the Dr Martins shop: I need some waterproof shoes, what better than DMs? I go in while Jools looks for the bead shop. I try on the boots, they are good and look smart. Long gone are the days when a pair of ox blood 18 holers cost twenty quid, but these will do. Som good are they that I decide to wear them from the shop to home.

We call in at The Clachan for a drink, I have a pint of Wadworth chilli and chocolate, which is like liquid silk. With a kick. It is lovely, and I could have had several more, but we have decided that our day is done, and so we head back to St Pancras via the Victoria Line.

We have half an hour to kill, time for a coffee in the undercroft in a faux French Patisserie, it is good though, Americaos and generous slices of chocolate mousse gateaux. Hmmm, great.

Our train was due, so we go up to the platform, just as it rolls in. We take our usual seats, and I review the shots I have taken as the train fills up with shoppers and families. We get off at Martin Mill just before three, which means we are home as the main batch of games kick off. I switch the computer on and follow City at Watford. In the 2nd half, we get a dodgy penalty, but score two more fine goals to leapfrog over our opponents into 5th place, and being the only team in the top 6 to win, it leaves to Old Farm Derby next weekend to be even more crucial.

I cook breaded pork steaks for dinner, the sauteed jacket potatoes were perfect with some garlic mayo.

And that was your Saturday.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Saturday 21st February 2015

Thursday.

Let me say right away, I did not plan this. All travel is sent via e mail, and the actual flights and stuff is booked for us. So, I asked a flight for any time from Dresden back to London, and they booked me on the 14:05 flight. And no work to do, and having to vacate the hotel by ten. So, why not drive into the centre of Dresden for a walk?

THis was always my plan once I got the flight details last week, and so that is why I had both cameras with me, three grand plus of kit, plus Jools' compact, so I could go photo crazy. As a frther bonus, the weather was to be stunning, with no clouds, cold but very sunny.

I packed, paid my bill, had breakfast, loaded the car, but possibly not in that order, decided I did not need to program the sat nav, I checked the mirrors, turned on the seat heaters (yes, really), and reversed out of the parking space, looking in to the light of the rising sun, blinked, engaged 'drive' and I was off.

A short drive to the autobahn, and then a half hour blast to the ausfaht, and then, I had to hope good would come of this, follow the signs for 'zentrum'. I went down a wide dual carriageway, down the side of the old river valley, through the 'new part of town. I saw signs for the altstadt, so I thought I should go tha way. The buildings parted, and I was crossing a wide bridge over the river, and on my right hand side, on the opposite bank, the old city was just there, in the glorious sunshine, on the banks of the river Elbe.

Dresden on the Elbe

I find a nice underground parking garage, find hundreds of empty spaces from which to choose. A short walk brings me to the market square, currently home to a winter fair. Across the square I see the beginings of the old town, of the baroque quarter as the sign said, I could not argue with that description.

My plan was to visit the world famous Frauenkirche, an un-usual shaped church, in the shape of a bell, possibly, and maybe see what else there was to see. Along past a building site, the art musum, and there was the Frauenkirche, sparking in the morning sunshine, but then it has been mostly rebuilt since the war, after the city was destroyed by the RAF. A fine job has been done in rebuilding the city, the buildings are baroque, Gothic and wonderful, and closely packed.

Dresden

The church is not yet open, but I thought I should walk back to the bridge to get a shot of the view. I see some steps leading up to a wide terrace, which runs alongside the river, getting nearer the bridge. I pass more museums, a music school, and finally come to the start of the bridge.

Dresdner Frauenkirche

The views are indeed worth it, world class indeed. And in the strong sunlight of a cold winter morning, just perfect. There are so few people about, so I get my shots, and walk back. Along the river is the cathedral; it is open, so I go in and once again I am awed by the magnificence of it all. Guilt and white paint make it seem like heaven on earth, but then this is not the Frauenkirche. It is now half ten, so doubling back I make my way to the Frauenkirche, see the large 'no photography' signs, so I am surpised to bump into a woman just inside the church taking a photo, as her flash goes off. People are taking photos everywhere, I grab three before the wardens some out, patrolling like cold war border guards.

Dresdner Frauenkirche

But I have some shots, although not the ones I want, but still.

Dresdner Frauenkirche

I look at my watch, it is quarter to eleven, three hours until my flight, and I have to find the airport. I have been in some cities where signs for the airports just are not there: yes I am taking about you Boston and ye Los Angeles.

I make my way back to the car park, pay my five euros, program the sat nav, just in case and drive out. I see a large road sign pointing the way to the airport, and this continues as I make my way back out of the city, to the autobahn and to the airport! Yay, in ten minutes I was parking the car, and walking to the terminal.

I was able to check my case in, make my way though security and be in the lounge in time for coffee and apple cheesecake and me lazy about it. Apart from the great city and sights I had seen, work had continued, and I was able to fix problems using the mail and calling people. It had been quite a morning.

As the flight was called, I switched my phone off, and all was quiet, I had no problems to fix for an hour. Which is why as soon as I sat down, I closed my eyes and snoozed. We took off and Germany passed beneath us, 55 minutes later we touched down in Franfurt: I had just over an hour to get to my gate. As we landed at gate A69, the furthest one from the centre of the airport, and the entrance to terminal B, it was a long walk. Through immigration, along to the gate, just in time as passengers were allowed through, down some stairs and onto a bus. The bust took us along terminal B, terminal A, past gate A69, past the plane I had gotten off and raced across the airport from, and on we went, further and further, until it seems we would soon be in Frankfurt, we arrived at our aircraft.

I took another seat, closed my eyes as the safety brief was given, the engines started and we taxied to the piano keys, the engines roared, and we took off into the murky skies, losing sight of Germany. An hour later we descended through clouds on final approach to find we were 50m above the ground, then the river, and down we bounced, engines roaring on full reverse, we were thrown forward. But we were home, back in Blighty.

A quick dash into the terminal, through immigration, collect my case and run to the DLR station. There is time, I have 40 minutes to get to Stratford, although a broken down train means I get there with just ten minutes to spare. But the train is not full, I get a seat, so I can relax and close my eyes once again. Once out of the tunel, it is dark anyway, and there is little to see other than my reflection looking back at me.

I get off at Martin Mill, just before seven, it is pouring with rain, which matches my mood to be honest. We head up the hill to home, where the cats are waiting, and like I have never been away. It is good to travel, but better to arrive home. Now, where's me cuppa?

Friday, 20 February 2015

Friday 20th February 2015

Wednesday.

At least with this series of inspections, we had an agreement that the working day would start at 09:00, which meant a lay in, a late shower and a nice drive to the factory. The area around the factory is typical German I guess, lots of farmland, forest and factories. Its a great area, and despite it being muck spreading season, with the farmland being fertilised, it was still a pleasure to drive along the country road to the factory.

The day passed with inspections, questions, questions and more questions. It may be work, but for me, and the others it seemed more like an interrogation. It was a relief when the day ended at 5, just as it looked like the day might drag on into night. THe cloud from the morning had cleared, and the sun was heading towards sunset, casting wonderful pastel shades in the sky. I decided to follow up on my plan to drive to Meissen to look at the cathedral.

Last week I had been looking through some tourist leaflets in the hotel, and I came across one for the cathedral in Meissen: looked interesting, but it was clear that it would be closed by the time I got there, should I go? The promise of a fine sunset and clear skies for night shots made me want to take the chance. Our hosts had said it was a 40 minute drive to the city, so, should be easy. I had seen a sign for it from the motorway last week, so it couldn't be hard.

Meißen

I set off down the autobahn at 140kmh, there are no speed limits as such, and the car seemed happy enough, quiet enough anyway. I switched on the radio to find another station playing nothing but 80s tunes. They seemed very excited to be playing these tunes, many of which I had forgotten There was the occasional German tune mixed in, but mostly 80s chart pop. British pop. Sounded good anyway.

Meißen

Off the autobahn onto a minor road, heading still towards Meissen. At least the name kept appearing on signs. Still 30 plus KM to go, but now I'm here and all that. The sun set and the sky turned burnished orange; I really wanted to stop and take shots, but I felt every minute was precious as the light was fading, fading, fading.

I came to the outskirts of the city, headed towards the 'zentrum', traffic was light, there was still light in the sky, and the city seemed nice enough, but then this was the neustadt, the new town. I came to the bridge over the Elbe, and was greeted with a wonderful view of the old town, altstadt, gather around a rocky outcrop round which the river flowed, on top of which was a castle and the cathedral. The warmth of the streetlights contrasting with the cool blue of the sky. It was a wonderful sight, and worth the drive on its own.

Meißen

I found a place to park, walked along the cobbled streets to the main town square, all lined on each side by either tall merchants houses of the town hall. And above it all was the castle and cathedral. I would love to have walked up there, but it would have been dark by then, and probably not got shots, so I resolved to come back, one day. I walked round the square, got more shots, pondered about calling in the already busy Italian restaurant, but decided to drive back to the hotel.

I thought it best to use the sat nav, now that it was dark. A wise choice in the end I believe. It wasn't hard anyway, back though the dark landscape, through wonderfully pretty small towns until I came to the autobahn. I put my foot down and was back in my room by seven, and tucking into a plateful of saffron flavoured pasta by half past. My gosh, I was tired again. Back in my room, I packed, wrote some more mails and had an early-ish night.