Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Tuesday 1st September 2015

Monday.

Reading through my posts on previous year's late summer bank holidays indicate that the weather mostly poor. Well, not as poor as 2015's that is for sure! A day off, with endless possibilities, and yet we spent it mostly sitting inside, listening to music whilst watching the rain hammering down outside. Maybe in hindsight, we should have done something, but that would have been just for the sake of it, sometimes you just have to enjoy inactivity.

The day began with a late rise, well after seven, although it was so dark outside it could have been an hour and a half earlier. I check the storm radar to see a massive storm heading up the Channel, and in a few minutes we hear the first rumble of thunder. But like the previous evening, as the storm neared East Kent, it petered out, leaving just the rain to push through. And rain it did do, but the inch: or so it seemed.

I made a batch of dough for rolls for lunch and dinner, made breakfast and more coffee. And that was the main jobs for the day sorted. I also managed to squeeze in backing-up my shots for the month, meaning I now have 1.1TB of photos on my external hard drive. Maybe too much. I should think some of them out, I mean I keep every shot, and every edit I have done. That might be overkill.

Once the dough had risen, I made it into rolls, and topped them with grated cheese, then left them rise again. Once cooked they had a glorious crispy top, which went wonderfully well with the ham we had for lunch. I mean these were far better than the ones we got from Tesco at the weekend, and they were pretty good. Jools said this is f*7%ing great roll; praise indeed.

In the afternoon, I went to visit Nan, who was in fairly good spirits, although she is fed up being in the home, can't hear, so I sat and listened to her ramble for an hour. She seemed happy with that.

Back home for chicken kiev, salad and another cheesey roll. All very nice, but no room for the mountain of raspberries we have picked from our canes. I will try to tackle them on Tuesday before i leave for Denmark in the afternoon.

The rain continued into the evening, with the cats becoming increasingly cabin-fevered. We can't make the rain stop, boys and girls!

It was quite a month with one thing and another: school reunion and my 5th birthday being the two biggies. But they were occasions for looking back, I will try to look forward from now on, however, on the 17th marks two anniversaries: 25 since I joined the RAF and 10 since I left. Inbetween there were some wonderful and interesting times, but never dull. There is a RAF reunion coming up at the end of November, I am sure I might talk about those times more then.

So, until the weekend, catch you later, Bill and Ted!

Monday, 31 August 2015

Monday 31st August 2015

Bank Holiday Monday And as I write this, there are several thousand feet of rainclouds above Chez Jelltex, and we are monitoring wave after wave of Thunderstorms sweeping up the Channel on a stormview site. In the distance we can hear thunder rumbling away, and this is probably what it will be like the rest of the day. A typical Bank Holiday, then?

But for now, back to Sunday.

Sunday

We woke to a dull and grey dawn, but with the promise of brightness later. But also the possibility of thunderstorms, so maybe a little of something for everyone. I make bacon butties with the extra smoked streaky I got the day before from the butcher, and then settled down to watch MOTD, which was as full of surprises as the previous opening weeks of the season: Palace won at Stamford Bridge and West Ham thrashed Liverpool at Anfield. Amazing. Later in the day, City travel to Southampton for their first televised game of the season, and we travelled in more anticipation rather than hope. But we shall see.

Once the football had been watched, we went out laden with carrier bags to do some autumnal foraging. Yes, it is that time of the year when we can get lots of free food and make jams/chutneys/jelly and/or wine. We have been making notes of where we saw sloes and blackberries growing through the summer, so instead of walking across the fields of beans, we turn down the narrow footpath to the farm at the bottom of the dip and up the other side, at least for a few yards, and on one side the hedges are full of over-ripe blackberries, so full of juice and sweetness that picking them makes them burst. Perfect. But after picking those, the rest up the hill were still green and stunted, Jools thinks there are some more around the top of the field, so I say I will take the path across the fields to Fleet House and double back as there are blackberries along that track.

Over the large field of flax: interestingly, I watched a great show about flax last week, how it helped the war effort and how hard it is to extract the fibre from the stalks then make yarn out of it, but it is this that make parachute straps, webbing and ropes that helped win the 2nd world war. Anyway, some are still in flower, and so a long way from being ready for harvesting. The fields are beans are even drier and blacker, and still show no sign of being harvested. Perhaps they never will.

Along the track there were a few small berries, and nearly enough to fill the large sandwich bag I was carrying.

Back home, after coffee, Jools makes an apple and blackberry crumble, with the berries we picked, and the windfall apples she found. I topped up the apples with a couple of cookers taken from our own little tree, and they were great. As is the crumble, smothered with huge amounts of thick fresh cream, and accompanied by a huge cuppa. Just as it should.

In the afternoon, I stay home to listen to the City game on the radio, whilst Jools goes to see Nan. City are awful, have a man sent off and lose 3-0. Its our first away defeat of the year, but it was going to come sometime, I guess. I think some lessons will have been learned, and they will come back stronger.

In a bad mood, I decide to mow the lawn, this also to avoid the cats, who pretend they cannot tell the time and insist it is dinner time, despite bening only just three in the afternoon. I know the noise of the mower engine will give me, if not the neighbours, some peace and quiet. And after half an hour, I am sitting on the patio sipping an nice ice cold beer, and Molly joins me to remind me about dinner. As if i forgot.

I do feed them, then prepare our dinner, which involves getting the pasta salad and cold breaded aubergine out of the fridge and pouring more drinks.

We listen to David Byne on the radio, playing some of his favourite tracks, and very illumiating it is too, as you would expect of course.

All through the day I had been looking at the storm tracker, and as the day turned into evening, stormclouds began building over Brittany, then drifting along the Channel until we could see the flashed of lightning, illuminating the clouds in the most spectacular way. I did try to take shots of the lightning, but only managed a few poor efforts, this being the best of them.

Thunderballs and lightning We did go to bed knowing that an even larger storm was drifting up the Channel and would be with us at about midnight. Until then, then....

Sunday, 30 August 2015

Sunday 30th August 2015

Summer is coming to an end. No, it really is, we may be dreaming of long hot days still, but it is now dark before half eight, the hedgerows are heavy with ripening fruit, and the telegraph wires are full of swallows looking at their travel plans. In for months it will be two days before the end of the year. Yes it really is true.

Quite where the year has gone, nearly nine months gone is a mystery to me. But of course I can account for six of those months pointing out the endless business trips I did. And now they begin again, this week will see me returning to Arhus, and next week back to Holland, and then, and then, who knows?

Saturday

Autumn Lady's Tresses Spiranthes spiralis Seeing as it was two days since pay day, we had the usual big monthly shop to do. Mostly cat food, cleaning stuff and the like, but it dies mean up and attem at six in the morning, heading for Whitfield and Tesco. We fill a huge trolley up with stuff. Round and round we go, and in the end I think giving up the will to live, we rush to the checkouts so we can leave for another month. Back home we unpack, then I make another coffee and warm the croissants, as its been weeks since we had any.

Autumn Lady's Tresses Spiranthes spiralis It is some time since I mentioned orchids: the reason for that is the local council has been mowing the best local location for Autumn Lady's Tresses, the final orchid of the season, so for the last two weeks I have been dealing with county and local councils to get the grass not to be mown until the end of September. I think I have done it now, so driving to the cliffs and parking beside the camper vans, I can see from the car some tiny white spikes already showing.

So, I am hopeful that there will be loads, but what I saw from the car was the best corner of the site, and the rest of it is still recovering, but there are spikes everywhere. I get some shots, but will have to return as there was just one spike fully open and in a full spiral. Pretty though.

1306 "Mayflower" at Shepherdswell, Kent From there I drive to Preston as we need meat. Lots of meat. The guys are in good spirits, so I get stuff to fill the freezer up with, and with a wave , after paying the bill, I drive home for an early lunch as I have a date with a train! Yes, orchids and trains, just like old times!

We munch on cheesy rolls filled with marmalade coated ham, which was really as good as it sounds. And then it was train time.

1306 "Mayflower" at Shepherdswell, Kent Jools drops me off at Shepherdswell so I can snap it coming out of Lydden Tunnel, as she wants to go to Folkestone to get some electrical bits and bobs. I am first here, but as the due time gets nearer, more and more folks arrive, indeed, just before twenty to two, more people come from the East Kent Railway to see the train.

From the bridge, I can see her headlight at the other end of the tunnel. And once she is halfway through, we can hear her working hard up the slight incline. She emerges in a cloud of smoke, and then coasts beneath us and up what looks like the hill towards Snowdon.

I have to wait half an hour for Jools to collect me, so we go home so I can check on my shots and also to listen to the football. City are not playing until Sunday, so it will be a stress-free days for me, with more than likely the sofa calling me.

I am socomfortable on the sofa that I forget the time and so miss the Thumper which was also due to be passing. It was one of those days.

I cook breaded aubergine, which we eat with more of the pasta salad. It is all very nice indeed. We listen to the radio, drink coffee, and outside darkness falls. Another day slips by.

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Saturday 29th August 2015

Friday

And on the fifth day the sun did shine, and there was celebration on the face of the earth. But poor Jelltex had a morning of meetings to look forward to. Jools left for work at half six, leaving me with the cats.

So, I sit at the dining room table for five hours, in meetings, making phone calls, it is the modern way. However, at twelve I have to bail out of the meeting as I have to walk into town for a dentist appointment. The possible cavity has been playing up, and more investigation was needed. Or so I thought.

Friday afternoon walk to the dentist. And the Rack of Ale Anyway, I get out the old walking boots, pack my camera bag and with the sun high over the yardarm, off I go, grumbling that I really have better things to do. I don't really, but hey. After about 5 steps, I forget the grumbling and am enjoying the walk already, even with the walk back up Station Road into the village, which usually has been huffing and puffing, but as with my last walk, there seems to be much less effort used, and I am powering up. Well, kinda.

Friday afternoon walk to the dentist. And the Rack of Ale Past the village shop and through the churchyard, across Reach Road, through the housing estate and I am into the countryside, striding out across the field of dried beans, dodging the dog shit on the path, but looking forward to when I reach the cliffs.

Through the small wood, which still stinks of fox, still, at least they are not being hunted, and across one then the other rough track which leads to the lighthouse.

Friday afternoon walk to the dentist. And the Rack of Ale And finally down the narrow path beside the lighthouse and in front of me is the steep slope leading to the cliff edge. And yet, its not as I imagined, as being a sunny and warm day during the school holidays, there are dozens of people about, and there are people everywhere, not huge crowds, but then again not the peace and quiet I had hoped. However, the views and warm sunshine make for it being pleasant enough. The French coast can be seen, as well as buildings in Calais and the villages south of there. I hope to snap a Chalkhill Blue or two, but the breeze is keener up on the cliffs than I would have expected, so I had to make do with the views and walk.

Friday afternoon walk to the dentist. And the Rack of Ale In a bid to get away from other walkers, I head inland to take the cinder path and then the Cliff Road along the track of the old railway. I am an hour ahead of schedule, so I take a seat and see a Small White to snap. I amble on, crossing the main cliff path again where most people take the steep steps to the Nation Trust place, but I keep going, with the view over the docks opening up to the left and below.

Finally, I take the narrow path back up to the top of the cliffs, only for the path to go back down again, under Jubilee Way and down to East Cliff and so into the town. From there it is a short walk to Castle Street tot he dentist, I wait a while, before I am called. And once again nothing is found, flossing and the such is suggested.

Friday afternoon walk to the dentist. And the Rack of Ale The plan now was for me to pass some time in The Rack of Ale until Jools picked me up on the way home from work. As a bonus, they have a barrel of Plum Porter which should be on, so I stop at the bak, get some cash and walk up Biggin Street to Ladywell and the Rack.

Sadly, the Porter wasn't on yet, but they have others to try, and a good supply of pork scratchings to much on too. The third pint is the Porter, and it is glorious and fruity. As you would expect. Jools arrives at half four, I really have had enough, but Jools wants to try a cider, so I have another half, just to be sociable.

Friday afternoon walk to the dentist. And the Rack of Ale And if it were a cartoon, the gauges in my eyes would show I was full!

Jools drives us home, via KFC which we are going to have for dinner, with the pasta salad I made the day before. And for some reason I am no so tired. So, so tired.

Friday, 28 August 2015

Friday 28th August 2015

Thursday

It is said, by some, that we can never go back. And indeed this is mostly true.

It all dates back to last time I was in Ramsgate, and I took my old boss out to breakfast. As you do. Anyway, he said he would return the favour next time I was in town. So, after exchanging mails we agreed that it would be Thursday.

This meant alternative methods for Jools to get to work in Hythe, then me braving the rush hour, as it is, to Ramsgate.

It is some months since I travelled to the office, and it seems the manic drivers have not changed, but I dd get to the harbour in one piece, gain access to the car park, and then I had to find a place to work. THere is a new manager, so I introduced myself, he said to take a spare desk in his office.

I worked for a while, then went to meet up with old friends, only to find them miserable in the extreme.

In the extension office next door, I did find my Jesper, who was as good as always, and despite be tweaking his cracked ribs, it was great to catch up with him and Malcolm. My old boss, Ian, came in. And it turned out he is on a health kick, and cannot have a fry up, and anyway he has work to do. So it is all scrubbed.

I walk back to the other office, and it is all so depressing. I decide that nothing can be gained from working here, and I may as well go home. So, after chatting with Peter, it is what I do; load the car and drive back home, arriving home just before eleven, and as ever, I am hungry.

So I make a sandwich from the left over focaccia and have a big brew before getting back to work. Of course, feeding the cats comes first.

Outside the rain hammers down like it has for days now, soon the garden is swimming in rainwater. The cats sit inside, looking out. Meowing.

In short, I have realised there is no place for me there, I have so outgrown those I used to work beside and consider friends. They have no idea what I do now, nor do I sometimes, but I tell Peter that other than a social visit, there is no need for me to ever come back. Which he accepts.

Jools get the bus home, and I collect her from town, but it means a late dinner, and so we are eating chorizo hash at seven, and after tidying up, its nearly eight. Where does the time go, people?

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Thursday 27th August 2015

Wednesday.

50 years plus one day.

Situation normal. Yes, here I am working from home once more. Back in the distant past, after a birthday, let alone a significant one, I would be waking up with a hangover. But seeing as I went to bed having supped just two pints in the evening, I was as right as rain, and fighting fit. Jools and I drink coffee before she gets ready to drive to work, and I make ready for my second coffee and think about getting dressed.

Is it autumn already? I ask this as for the second day in a row, the rain falls from the sky like a waterfall. The cats have breakfast then sleep through until half four, at which point, of course, they are demanding food. Of course they are. I spend the day working at the computer, and in the fallow periods make a batch of focaccia bread to go with the insalata caprese we are going to have for dinner. Soon the smell of the garlic and proving bread is filling the house.

Being at home, I can listen to a lot of radio, and by lunchtime I had listened to Tuesday's Radcliffe and Maconie show, including my namecheck: I had written in to the show the morning of my birthday asking for a record to be played. And then forgot. Only to be tweeted by my friend Sami that the radio had just birthday checked me, and how awesome it was hearing the name of someone she knew being said.

The rain continues to hammer down all afternoon, in a break in it, I gather a handful of raspberries and with blueberries, banana and leftover grapes make a smoothie. Makes a change from the grapefruit segments which is my usual fruit of choice, this seems like a luxury.

In the evening the rain does clear, but seems way too cold to be sitting outside on the patio. Overhead the three-quarter full moon shines down through fast moving veils of cloud. And on the radio we listen to Man Utd score four and enter the promised land of the CL group stage.

And that was it, really. Another day, another dollar.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Ten Years

Ten years ago today, I was flying back from Vegas to their home in Arkansas with my two friends. I was still employed by the Ministry of Defence, although that would be coming to an end in September. I had been on paid vacation since the end of June, and I was having the time of my life. I was, also, 40 years old, soon to be unemployed and had a mortgage to pay. And I suppose the other thing was that I had no idea what I was going to do next. Or wanted to do next.

In fact I have gone through my life not knowing what I wanted to do with my life, other than being a train driver, which I have done very little about, so that I have made bombs, found sub-sea volcanoes and put up windfarms quite a series of mistakes, rather than unfortunate events. At times, I have had the time of my life, visiting some of the most remote areas on earth. And Leeds. Meeting and working with some really great and interesting people. And again others who you would not want to speak to on a bus let alone be stuck with for eight weeks on a small survey ship, yes, I am talking about you.

And then I found Jools, or she found me. Or we found each other. Doesn't matter which. I moved to Kent. Started working offshore. Was grumpy. Earned lots on money. Sold my house. She sold her house. We bought the ugly house on the cliffs. I got headhunted. Moved to another company. That went bust. Was unemployed. Worked in boxes. Left that. Wind farms!!!!

And that is it, ten years in short. And there was beer deliveries, a chemical delivery driver, unemployment. Cats. Cats. Cats.

But once I got out of the survey industry, I became happier, learned to love life, stop worrying and rediscover photography and all that. There may have been football, and orchids and churches and trains and cats and cats. Lots of cats.

For those of you who were here from the start: thank you. For those that have joined in along the way: thank you too.

Lets march on together into the future and discover universal love, acceptance and live very happily ever after.