Monday, 28 September 2009

When Saturday Comes.

As I have said before on these pages, that feeling when the bell goes off at six in the morning and we walk out into a Doverian dawn and can come home, that feeling is really quite good.

Great in fact.

And so, on Friday I headed home, so tired and worn out from the chopping and changes of shifts. Within half an hour I was making the return trip to drop Jools back there for her day at the coalface. I did the Tesco thing on the way back, and so, although not quite having the store to myself, it was almost that good.

Back home for breakfast and a shower, and a half hour lay in bed turned into four hours. But, I awoke almost refreshed. As I had had word that I will be switching onto days for the foreseeable future, I took the opportunity to go into town for a haircut when the children were at school and so be able to be in and out of the shop withing an hour. Or less.

We are borrowing my bother-in-law's car whilst ours is being repaired after some asswipe crashed into the back of ours, and so instead of the Polo we have a BMW series 5 beast. Parking is not easy, and fuel consumption is scary. However, it's cheaper than hiring a car, and a big car is so very comfortable.

Church of the Holy Innocents, Addisham

Saturday morning, Jools and I head out to Preston to the butcher, mainly because the trip so great and for me to stop and photograph another church. We bought a huge streak to share between the three of us. And then we stop off in the village of Addisham on the way back for me to snap the parish church. And wonderfully, it is called The Church of the holy Innocents, and is as beautiful as it sounds.

Church of the Holy Innocents, Addisham

Time for a quick bite to eat and then off to Gillingham for me to go to the football and Jools and Nan to go shopping at the huge Marks and Spencer. My team Norwich, now ploughing their poorly ploughed furrow in the third tier of the football league, and Gillingham being the closest they would be playing to our home.

Now, don't know if I mentioned this before, but I had the choice of either going to the football or going to my high school's 30th year reunion. The main swinging point was that partners were not allowed to go to the reunion, and so I decided that football wins; and meant not having to stay with mother dearest either.

So, I found myself in the terraced streets of Gillingham looking for the floodlights and the crowds heading down to the Priestfield; only that is the same as Dover in that everyone seems to be a Spurs or Arsenal supporter. But, I got my bearings, and after checking into which pubs my friends would be going into, I went on a pub search.

I got regular updates as to how far along the M25 the coaches were, whilst I tucked into a pint of Stella and watched the live game on the big screen TV. My friend, Ian and his girlfriend, Shirley, arrived soon enough, and we stood outside in the autumn sunshine and caught up on our lives in the 18 months since we last met.

Soon enough it was time to go to the ground, and as I had a ticket with the home fans, I bid them goodbye. The Priestfield is not a big stadium, and quite how small ws shocking, and indicating how low Norwich have fallen. I had a seat on the halfway line, and a good view. And settled down to what I hoped would be a good game and three points for us.

Sadly, it did not end up that was as we had our goalkeeper sent off ten minutes before halftime and they scored from the penalty. The rest of the game was mainly us hanging on and the Gills shooting poorly. Resigned to losing, it came as a surprise that we equalised in the 97th minute of the game and snatched a point.

Only one person in the main stand stood to cheer, much to the anger of those around him. Me.

That night I cooked the steak, and very nice it was too. As were the sauteed potatoes and the red wine. I slept well.

Sunday, Jools and I walked the eight miles into Deal, along the cliffs. The weather is stunning right now. We are having a glorious autumn, and indeed we have had a wonderful summer too; unlike some parts of the country.

Anyway, we walked through knee-high grass along the chalky cliffs with the English Channel shining like a sea of jewels below us. We passed other happy folk taking in the morning air, greeting them with smiles and a warm hello.

The cliffs peter out at Kingsdown, and so we walk past once grand houses beside the shingle beach and then past Walmer and then Deal castles until we come to Deal pier where our friends were waiting for us to share breakfast. Nothing quite like bacon butties after a brisk walk.

We had invited them to Sunday lunch, well, tea, and had planned roast beef, Yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes and veg. I had boiled a bone to make stock for the gravy. And it all turned out wonderful. As Jools and I prepared everything, Matt and Dadi went for a walk down in St Margarets Bay.

Dinner was wonderful, the beef cooked to a turn; the roast potatoes cooked in goose fat and crispy to the point of perfection; the Yorkie just done enough not to be blackened round the edge. We rounded that off with vanilla ice cram with fresh pineapple. It was rather perfect.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Ian is FUBAR

So, halfway through the week, and getting ready for my third shift of the week, when the phone goes, and the message is that I'm not needed that night; so I get a night off.
That sounds all very well, other than my body is already partly adjusted to nights, so I thought i would stay up all night as usual. What could go wrong?

Beer is the answer.

I thought as I was having the night off I could have a beer with dinner. I cooked paprika coated pork steaks with pesto pasta. That was very nice with a bottle of ice cold beer. I sat down on the sofa later to watch the Man Utd game. I thought a small bottle of Speckled Hen would go down nice, and I was right. But, I had forgotten my body clock was wrecked, and so within ten minutes I was fast asleep.

When Jools went up to bed, I followed her to bed and got a great eleven hours. Only that I have another night shift tonight, so that's 21 straight hours awake and then a couple of hours shut eye before trying to get onto a normal sleep pattern for the weekend.

So, here I am, hoping that work will be cancelled tonight so I can be really rested for the weekend, as I am going to meet up with friends when Norwich play up the road from here at Gillingham. Hopefully, a few beers will be supped before the game, only that I am sitting with the home supporters. But, judging by how City are playing right now the chances of us scoring and me celebrating giving me away as being in enemy territory.

In deciding to go to the football, I have therefore chosen not to go to my High School reunion back in Suffolk. The main reason is that partners were not invited, but after driving three hours to north Suffolk to spend an evening with virtual strangers talking about the past does not fill me with glee. And that it would mean staying with Mother dearest and then another three hour drive back on Sunday.

That may be something I will regret, but for now I chose football.

So, this afternoon I have been making more chilli jam; I have discovered chillis called Dorset Nega and they claim to be darned hot; so I put 10 in the three pounds of mix. This will be darn hot. Hopefully, news to follow once it matures around Christmas time.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Penny for your thoughts.....

That thought just cost you £6,017.

That is because each and every second that is how much Britain's debt is piling up. This lay open the lie that our glorious leader knows what he is doing.

Not only that but the 'solution' to the recession, printing more money, will have great inflationary results next year, which will make the whole situation even worse than it already is.

After spending the summer months denying that Labour would have to cut anything, it became clear that every departemnt was preparing for cuts between 15 and 25%. Lies and damn lies, Mr Brown!

As more and more people lose their job, tax revenue is falling and so as a nation we borrow even more. No matter who wins the election next year, massive cuts are inevitable; just where is what will sparate the parties.

Brown's government borrowed £16,000,000,000 in the past month, this kind of annual borrowing was once considered reckless, words have yet to be invented to describe this kind of fiscal lunacy.

Of course, bankers are carrying on as if nothing has changed; they make money, pay each other huge salaries and bonuses, whilst we, as a nation will be paying for the bale-out for decades. Even worse is the fact that it could all happen again tomorrow as no new rules or regulations have been put in place.

How crazy is that?

Enjoy the calm before things get worse, much, much worse.

Monday, 21 September 2009

Open House

As I have said before, there is nothing quite like the feeling when the bell goes off at six on Friday morning, and we can walk out into the dawn of a fresh new weekend. By now, it is just getting light as we leave, and i climb into the car and drive out of the industrial estate, through the one way system in the centre of town and then up Conaught Road, up the cliffs, leaving the town and the beginning of a working day behind. The hum of activity rises up the cliffs from the docks and ferries make ready to leave of to arrive. The lights of Calais shine out over the channel, and I make my way home.
Jools and I have about 45 minutes in which to chat before she makes that return trip to the factory. I have breakfast and then have a shower before laying on the bed with my cat, Molly.
I wake up three hours later; as promised the sun is up and shining through Simpson-esque clouds. Nan and I have a quick lunch before we climb into the car and head out into the Kentish countryside.
Almost everything is harvested, just maize now is in the fields; the rich yellows and golds have now been replaced with ploughed fields and hedgerows laden with berries.

Oast houses, Ickham, Kent

We drive out to the village on Ickham, which, thanks to my friends on Flickr, I knoew was home to one of the iconic Kentish views. Oast houses were where in years gone by, hops were dried by fires lit below; so to make beer. Oast houses are just about redundant now, but the buildings are now converted into wonderful homes. Ickham oast houses are four in a row, and each one a family home, and I would imagine, wonderful to live in.

Oast houses, Ickham, Kent

The village is picture perfect, all brick buildings, thatched cottages and wonderful church, of course. I go around, take pictures as quickly as I can. There is a welcoming looking village pub too; maybe another day.

Oast houses, Ickham, Kent

We drive to Preston to the village butcher we like to use, and get some wonderful looking things. I leave a pot of quince jelly that Jools made this week, and they knock off a few pounds of the coast of the meat. Nan and I head back, via Grove Ferry where there is a wonderful looking pub beside the river. Wonderful cooking smalls are coming out the door, and I glimpse the ale pumps on the bar. Better not, as I feels o tired and we have 20 miles to drive back.

Grove Ferry

In the evening, we drive to Sandgate to a fish and chip restaurant already has a table reserved for us. Although, it has to be said, fish and chips does not taste the same off a plate; cod and chips may be becoming a rarity due to over fishing in the north sea. We'll enjoy it while we can.

The Grove Ferry Inn

The drive home through the gathering gloom of an autumnal evening was wonderful; once again the lights of Calais winked at us over the 23 miles of the channel.

Saturday morning, Jools and I were up at the crack of dawn; well, at 6 anyway, because we were off to London for the Open Day weekend. On that one weekend a year, many building throughout London are open to the public, and more importantly for me, available to take photographs in.

We drive down into Dover and get the fast train to London Bridge station. I say fast, it has about three less stops than a normal service, but saves some 10 minutes in time. So, soon we were whizzing through the countryside, through towns just waking up, and then after our last stop, flying through the suburbs of the capital.

We get off at London Bridge and walk into the morning activity; Borough Market is already open, and people are heading there to get some early shopping done. We head the other way, towards the river and beyond the square mile of the city.

We find a cafe open, and go in for 2nd breakfast; Jools has scrambled eggs and beans while have have scrambled eggs with smoked salmon. As we tucked in, outside there is the occasional passer-by, but as is normal at weekends, the city is all but deserted.

Breakfast at Papa Bruno's

We walk round the block and discover that half the city of London has the same idea as us and want to have a look inside the Lloyds of London building. We join the back of the queue, but it moves quickly; street entertainers have been laid on to make the time go quicker. A man in false moustache on a penny-farthing cycle stops to chat to children and makes much of pretending to be a Victorian gentleman lost on the 21st century.

Street Performer on a Penny Farthing.

Lloyds Building is a modern masterpiece, from the outside it looks like something from Bladerunner; but inside it is magical. 13 floors of office space with a huge central space with escalators criss-crossing.

View from the 11th floor

For me it was photography heaven. We, and most others, walked around in a daze at the size and splendour of it. I took what seemed like hundreds of pictures, but soon enough it was time to leave.

Lloyds of London

London is interesting to walk round; we had time and so headed down towards St Pauls and then on the Threadneedle Street, past the Bank of England and into Fleet Street.

Lloyds of London

The old Daily Express building is an art deco gem, and although only the lobby was open, it was worth just seeing that. Many seemed oblivious to it's charm and seemed to be just going down the list. The statues and carvings were wonderful, and each one was recorded with my camera.

The Daily Express

We moved on.

The Daily Express

At the other end of Fleet Street is the Royal Court of Justice. It looked like there was no queue, but before we went in, we go to the ancient pub over the road, The George, for a quick pint.

Royal Courts of Justice

The Royal Courts of Justice are normally out of bound to those with cameras; but feels very church-like instead. There are stained glass windows, tiled floors and long, long corridors. We were not allowed to take pictures in the courts; but could everywhere else. Inside court 4, we had a talk by an official, and she went through procedure. We were introduced to a court official called The Tipstaff. Google his job, it's an ancient post, with many modern and old duties. Sadly, most of what he does is dealing with children abducted by one of it's parents.

Royal Courts of Justice

Over the road, beside the pub, is an alleyway, we head down there into the warren that is the Inns of the Court. Just a few steps off Fleet Street is a sanctuary where the Law Lords and solicitors have their chambers. In the middle of this warren, is the Temple. This is a location used in the Da Vinci Code, but was indeed built by the Knights Templar as a copy of the first temple at Jerusalem. It is round and beautiful; as yet I have not been able to get inside though, and Saturday was no different.

Oh well.

We walk through the crowded streets, past the crowds at Covent Garden and into Soho. We headed to Neal's Yard to an Italian place we like to eat that's not too expensive. But, it was crowded, and so we walk on, and on the next street is a swish looking place that is not too pricey. We have just a main course, a bottle of cheap rose wine and finish of with coffee and dessert. Julie has banana and coffee cheesecake and i have Tiramisu. Just the right amount.

We walk through theatreland down to Charing Cross in time for the fast train back to Dover. We dozed as the city was left behind and the day turned towards evening.

That evening we had another bonfire as more of the hedge had been cleared away, just hope we haven't killed it. We sat on the patio, me sipping a good malt, and watched as planes flew overhead to France and maybe a couple of meteors crossed the sky.

Sunday turned out to be as grey and misty as forecasted; and so all we really did was set out for our local preserved railway, as they had a gala on. The East Kent Railway is on the rails of a line that used to serve the Kent coalfields, and used to twist and tuen through wonderful villages to the mines. All are now closed and the railway closed to. A short stretch is now open as a heritage line, but for them it';s early days, and clearly there is much to do.

We rode on old electric commuter strains with good old fashioned slam doors; I bought a book at the shop, and i was happy. As the drizzle began to fall, we headed back home for lunch and more mundane things, for me watching football and Julie did more stuff in the garden.

That night I cooked roast lamb with all the trimmings; Jools helped with the vegetables, and it all came out rather wonderful.

Sadly, the working week begins again, and I get the feeling my days at the factory are drawing to a close. Oh well, it's been good.

Thursday, 17 September 2009


Before I started the seagoing job, I used to watch a lot of TV; I mean a lot. Sport, sport, CSI, NCIS, House, Bones. And then I was away for weeks at a time and I lost track of storylines and I stopped missing them.

Now I am home again, I still haven't got the TV bug back, which is a good thing. We use our TV to listen to the radio mostly, which is odd. But I have time to do my photography and listen to music, without worrying whether we would make it back in time to see the beginning of a show.

I guess that Gregory house is still solving difficult cases, curing people just before the hour is up. The CSIs are solving murders and such, Grissom has left, apparently, I wouldn't know. And the truth is, I don't miss the shows. I find it odd that people actually care about TV; I tell people at work we don't watch it, and I don't think they believe us.

As it's the autumn now, The X Factor and Strictly have begun; thus making the Saturday evening schedule unwatchable, like we care. I'd like to say we use that free time in a constructive way, but I don't feel we do, but then again, things get done. And we're happy with things.

Mother loves TV. I mean LOVES, and having her down was a balancing act of letting her watch Home and Away and we having the radio on. We listen to more Radio 4 now, arts and high-brow comedy, as well as some stuff off Radio 2, and then for me the football on Radio 5.

Here's the radio highlights:

Saturday Live, Radio 4 09:00 Saturday
Excess Baggage, Radio 4 10:00 Saturday
The Danny Baker Show, Radio 5 09:00 Saturday
Fighting Talk, Radio 5 11:00 Saturday
Football, Radio 5 all Saturday afternoon
Dessert Island Discs, 11:15 Sunday
Just a Minute, Radio 4 18:30 Monday
The Radcliffe and Maconie Show, Radio 2 20:00 Monday to Thursday
Simon Mayo and Mark Kermode's Film Review, Fiday 15:00

On top of that there is the morning news on Radios 4 or 5, the drive time show on Radio 5 as I drive into work.

So, little time for TV there.

I think if it wasn't for sport we wouldn't need a TV at all. And I think life is better for being mostly without it; we sit in the garden with a little radio and watch the sun go down with our cats fussing around us; who would want any thing else?

Never go back

Last weekend, we went back to the flat so we could pick some quince so to make jelly. We made some last year and it was so good we really wanted to make a bigger batch; and as Jay who lives there now as tenant is someone we both know, we asked if we could go round and he said yes.

We are the first to admit the flat was not perfect, but it has a great little garden with views over the valley to River, and we loved that view and garden. Round the front of the house, litter was always a problem with the wind blowing sweet wrappers and the like down the steps, but to see months acculilations just sitting there outside the bedroom window was a warning as to what the back of the flat was like.

The grass had not been cut for months, this is because Jay's dog was using it as a toilet; or rather the dig did this because Jay did not take the dog out for walks. Dozens of turds littered the grass, the patio and the steps; many were clearly months old, and the stench was pretty bad.

I could see Julie was shocked, and I was none too happy either. Anyway, we picked 12 pound of fruit and got out; we were quiet in the car, but in the end did talk about it. That we, Jools especially is so keep on our garden, and was back there, we tried to find a reason as to why he would be happy to live in such apparent squalor.

People are people, I guess, but more than that, it showed how far we have moved on, litterally, in the last 6 moths; new house, new life.

I felt the same when I called on my friend James after he had moved in to my house when I moved in with Jools down here; it looked the same from the outside, but inside it was full of his things, he had decorated, it did not feel like my home, although in a way it was. It was just a building.

But, this place, our house in St Margaret's is our home; it's where we want to grow old in, and be happy here.

This week when I have been working nights, Julie has made the quince jelly; she boiled the fruit, strained it and reboiled the liquid and put it in jars. And now we look forward to enjoying it on cheese throughout the winter; but friends are already making enquiries and that of a jar of chilli jam too. Next up it's pickled onions, if I can find a source of good onions. I'll be making diablo ones as usual, for those with a fire-proof stomach.

Let's get pickling!

Monday, 14 September 2009

With the Beatles

We love the Beatles, don't we?

I mean who couldn't love those Scouse moptops with their jangly pop, or the slightly psychedelic stuff?

Here, in the world of boxes, we have been making the box for THAT release since I have been here. And quite frankly I have seen their logo more times than I care for and am of the opinion that it is indeed possible to have too much of a good thing. Doubly so as the local radio station they pipe round the factory has regular Beatles songs. With added Michael Jackson now of course, too.

So, after all those boxes, it is good to see the product hit the stores last week; and shocking to see the remasters set, the stereo version, retailing for some £180 in some places. That's £13 per album, which I don't suppose is bad; other than most people who will be buying this will already have every song on CD and on vinyl. And as the early albums were barely over 30 minutes long.

Anyway, most seem quite happy, if not overjoyed with the set, which means more orders for us and the whole process begins again with thousands more to make.

It is a trend that record companies have been releasing music most of us already have in multi-disc versions, when they should really be looking for new talent. Otherwise they won't be able to sell multi-disc versions of the Ting Ting album in two decades time.

Not that people would buy it of course. The current generation is used to getting things for free, and actually buying music or a film will be alien to them, with disasterous results for the music and publishing industries. This is also a generation that does not read newspapers either, choosing to get their news free from Yahoo or other news sites. Or their celebrity gossip which counts as news.

Change is in the air

Saturday might turn out to have been the last day of summer. The weather was glorious, not too hot, but with wonderful clouds and warm enough to wander around in just shorts and t shirts. Yesterday was about ten degrees cooler with a keen wind too; the ramble in the morning didn't happen for us, mainly because I still felt tired from work and my cold made a triumphant return. Boo.

Word came this week that my time in the world of boxes may be short as orders are thinning out, although they may try to take me on in production, we'll see. I do feel I am getting into the swing of things as far of the job is concerned. Whether that cuts any ice with them is another thing.

And from this Tuesday, Jools' Nan is coming to stay. Not that she is bad or anything, but it means no fresh air in the house and thinking of not just us, mainly as she does not like spicy food. Anyway, at least the cats will be fussed over by her, and as I am on nights this week, she will have company for most of the day.

So, after what was a very busy week, and I feeling like death on Friday due to work and the cold, it came as a surprise to find myself jumping out of bed on Saturday morning, going downstairs to feed the cats and put the coffee machine on. I guess it's the thought of the possibilities of the day ahead which spurred me on. Anyway, it was just before eight when we found ourselves outside the door of Tescos to do the weekly shop before the freaks and families came out. Spending a small fortune, we were heading back home before half eight and by nine sitting down to bacon butties and more coffee.

Yay, I love weekends.

St Bartholomew's  Hospital Chapel, Sandwich

So, what to do? We had a list of things to do as there was a heritage weekend at hundreds of English Heritage buildings that were not normally opened. Last weekend we had been told that St Bartholomew's Hospital Chapel in Sandwich was worth a look. And so with maps in hand we set off once again to Sandwich and found a parking space near where we thought the hospital was. After a short hunt we found a sign pointing us the way.

St Bartholomew's  Hospital Chapel, Sandwich

As what was going to be a reoccurring theme, the chapel was locked up tight, and so we had to make do with walking around the outside and taking pictures. Surrounding the chapel were old almshouses, which still have to old of the parish living in them, with their names over each houses' doorway.

St Bartholomew's  Hospital Chapel, Sandwich

Ho, and indeed, hum.

Getting back in the car, we looked at the map and I saw that Richborough Fort was open. Jools told me that little more than foundations have survived, but what the hell?


Richborough may or may have not been the landing place for the Roman invasion of 43 A.D. And so the fort may have been one of the first built on British soil by the Romans. Huge walls made of flint survive, as well as massive defensive ditches. The fort stands on a hill overlooking the Swale river and the Dover to Ramsgate railway line, but two thousand years ago, this would have been the coast looking out to France.


We sat outside the visitor's centre and ate coffee flavoured ice cream. The sun shone and a gentle breeze stirred the leaves in the nearby trees.


Next we got back into the car and headed towards Canterbury to a small village called Fordwich, where the ancient town hall was supposed to be open. But, once again it was locked up tight. We made do with looking around the parish church where a couple of small stalls had been set up, and a genealogy help desk had been set up for those looking into their family history. Abouve the nave, a huge royal crest of Willian the 1st hung, showing where this parish's alliegiences laid.

St Mary the Virgin, Fordwich

We went into the grand pub, the Fordwich Arm for a drink and some pork scratchings before deciding to head back home for some gardening action.

St Mary the Virgin, Fordwich

We cleared the hedge down one side of the garden, and so we were able to have a huge bonfire after the sun went down.

St Mary the Virgin, Fordwich

I had thawed out a batch of chilli, which had matured very nicely went down well with a bottle of ice cold real ale, or cider for Jools. Later that evening we watched sparks rise into the dark sky as years of dead hedge were put to the flame.

My chesty cough meant that little more than essential amounts of sleep were possible, and so it was nice and early when I awake again on Sunday. Jools went down to feed the moggies and make coffee, and so I laid in bed with the sounds of the day drifted in the bedroom window as the smell of fresh coffee floated up the stairs from the kitchen.

We went out to Sandgate, near Folkestone, for a wander around and to see if it was photogenic. The town nestles between the stony beach and ancient cliffs, and is a mix of old clapperboard houses and modern flats. Remnants of a castle from the Armada wars had been converted into a Martello Tower for the Napoleonic wars. Rowers made their boats ready as we walked along the beach, and the bright patch of sky slipped further south, and the air was damp with the promise of rain.

That afternoon, we went back home to make jam. Courgette and ginger jam, in fact. And it was pretty good once boiled down and setting as we stirred it. In the evening I made beef en croute, or beef Wellington as it's called here. A couple of left over steaks from when Mother dearest was here were turned into a wonderful dinner, along with with sauted potatoes and fresh corn on the cob.

And so I sat down in the evening to watch the first games of the NFL season.

Yay, Septemeber!

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Let Moron speak unto Moron

In the days of Lord Reith, the BBC would broadcast the news, unfettered by personal opinion, and was all the better for it. The BBC still is the best place for the news, mostly unbiased and unspun. However, a few years ago, new trend begun, which has now spread to all BBC departments.

It seems that the BBC cares what the Great British public thinks, quite why is beyond me. Not that they shouldn't care, but it's their job to tell us the facts and the rest we decide. But it began in sports shows, the phone-in was born.

At first it was it was all rather novel; but then boring as Manchester United fans, or Chelsea fans would complain about the lack of firepower up front and demand another multi-million striker be bought. Danny Baker, who brought the talk show to these shores hated this and gave such people short shrift.

But the idea of the phone in was here, and then it spread to more and more shows. Now, three hours of Radio 5 Live's output in the morning is dedicated to what the average loony taxi-driver or manic closet racist thinks. They even begin the breakfast show thus; bringing you news, sports and your views on the stories that matter to you.

I don't really care what Mrs Smith from Bristol, of Mr Jones from Edinburgh thinks of the 'big issues, and no matter what they think I won't change my mind. I will listen to the business editor and his take on how the markets are heading, or the main football correspondant and his thoughts on last night's results. Maybe the Middle East's editor and what does that last news item mean for the region.

So, at nine in the morning, when the airwaves are given over to the rabid and the unemployed, I switch off and do something less boring instead. Of course the internet allows the angry, or the ignorant another soapbox to climb onto. I left my old blog site, Matchdoctor today. I am fed up with the creationists and the right wing crazies spewing their bilge; of course they could be fed up with mine too.

Leaders should lead by doing what they think is right, not what middle England or the Daily Express editorial is saying. Great leaders act. And public service broadcasters should concentrate on what they do best, bringing us the news and information and allowing us to make our own minds, in the comfort of our heads and homes.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Work, work, work

It is Thursday evening, and I am tired. Very, very tired. But in a good way.

Other temporary workers think that being a QA is an easy number; in some ways I guess it is. But then you have to deal with production controllers, make decisions about whether to reject product thus bringing the wrath of people who would otherwise be your friend.
Like everything in life, in what should be clear cut choices becomes something akin to negotiations or the United Nations. Something along the lines of @I didn't see that, but if it's still like it when I come back in 15 minutes I'll have to reject all that pallet.' And so on.
It works, of course, and things get done, and in time what seemed like the most difficult box to make becomes second nature and the job is a pleasure. But then, it does mean being on your feet for 10 hours with little break, and tonight, my feet are screaming. Screaming for the weekend and don't seem keen on a ramble on Sunday; but that might change.
This evening we are turning more of our garden produce into preserves; three pounds of tomatoes and a handful of chillies will be three pound of chilli jam in the next hour. The first small batch was mild, and I thought I would check to see how spicy our homegrown ones were. The first taste of a raw one a few weeks ago was a little like a pea pod, much to my surprise today it was fiery and good enough for some deep spicy flavour in the jam in a few weeks. Tomorrow night we hope to make courgette and ginger jam with our two and a half pound monster courgette. I will let you know how that turns out.
The world has changed; England have a rather good national team, and after decades spent expecting the team to do things the hard way, if at all, to see England romp to an easy 5-1 victory over Croatia was an altogether new experience, but one us England fans could get used to. And so now we are looking at the calender for next June and July and flights to South Africa; bring on the World Cup.

Oh, and the weekend starts tomorrow at half five, hang on to your hats!

Monday, 7 September 2009

Another weekend, more trains

At least having done the Tesco thing on Friday was that we could relax on Saturday morning and have a lay in bed, always a good thing. We decided to head to the town of Sandwich, yes there really is a town of that name, as it is a beautiful place, full of interesting buildings and we mistakenly thought that it was the weekend when many historical buildings would be open.

Abbey Barbers, Sandwich

It's just a short drive up to Sandwich, and quite unusually, there is plentiful parking. We chose one empty space out of hundreds and walked into town. Sandwich is a riot of old building, timber-framed, brick built and apparently everything inbetween. There was nothing much we really wanted to buy, but just contented ourselves with walking round an art exhibition in an old church.

The Empire Cinema, Sandwich

As usual, we stopped off for a snack mid-morning, and chose a cafe we had been in before.
The afternoon and early evening was given over to football for me, and some gardening for Jools. At halftime in the England game, I paused the game with the Sky magic box and cooked dinner; a proper chicken Kiev along with sautéed potatoes cooked in goose fat; needless to say it was delicious. The full moon roase over our back garden as we looked on in wonder; it rose deep pink, partly obscured by thin clouds. A fine end to the day.

Sunday morning was spent preserving our produce from the garden. So far we have had nearly ten pounds of tomatoes, and after finding a recipe for puree, I spent two hours peeling and de-seeding them before blending the mulsh and then boiling it down before it was ready for the freezer.

In the afternoon we headed over to the bridge over the River Swale to see a steam engine cross over to the Isle of Sheppy. The weather was not perfect, but somehow the bush telegraph had worked and I gues some 50 other snappers and spotters had gathered to record the event.

Crossing the Sawle
Once the train had crosed and crossed back to the mainland, we hopped in the car and drove down to Dover to see it again as it steamed away out of the twon as the line ran beside the sea at Shakespeare Beach. Thankfully, I got a great shot which made the whole day worthwhile.

Tangmere at Dover

Back home I made a redcurrent and blackberry jus to go with the pan friend lamb, all washed down with a glass of red. We live quite well.

And then the weekend is over, the sun sets and the sky darkens. And thoughts, sadly, turn to another week at work.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Friday; the weekend starts here......




The 5 minutes before the bell goes to announce it is six in the morning and time to go home, is the longest of course. I had a hectic night at work, not as hectic as those on production, but busy, busy, busy.

And so we walked out into the half light of a September dawn, the dew had fallen hard, and the heater was needed in the car for the journey home. I took the road up to the cliffs, and the lights of Calais still twinkled in the gloom, and ferries were brightly lit and making good time in the calm conditions.

I dropped Jools of at work, as I wanted the car as there were chores and things to do. I had a shower and fell asleep in bed for a couple of hours. when I woke up I had two of the three cats with me, blissfully happy to be there with me.

I jumped up, almost, and after a cuppa, I headed out in the car, cameras at hand for some snapping, and then the battle in Tescos.

The Church of St Andrew, Wickhambreaux

When we were bringing Mum home last Monday from our day out, we went through a village called Wickhambreaux, and it looked like a picture postcard. We should have stopped there and then, but we wanted to get back home. So, I went out there to take a few shots of the water mill, the pub and the village in general.

THe Rose Inn, Wickhambreaux

A lazy stream cuts the village in half, there is a large green, a 14th century pub and a wonderful collection of old houses. I snapped away, happy doing what I love. It was too early for a beer, and the inn was not yet open, although the dray was there dropping off full barrels.

Wickhambreaux Mill

I headed back and stopped off in the village of Sturry for pictures of its parish church. I am on a bit of a mission to photograph as many Kentish churches as I can. Loads to go as yet, but Wingham was a real gem. I will post the pictures in due course. Anyway, I was met by a warden who was nothing but a pleasure to talk to; she gave me a leaflet on the history of the church, pointed out things of interest and could not have been nicer.

St Mary the Virgin, Wingham

The church was fantastic, and I took many more pictures than normal for a church; two large family monuments, a bishop's chair, carved pews and the most wonderful wooden panelled roof. It was a delight, and outside the light was perfect for shots of the church and graveyard.

St Mary the Virgin, Wingham

I am not religious, or 'spiritual', but I think I can appreciate a good church and the important part one played in village life in years gone by.

St Mary the Virgin, Wingham

I drove back to Dover and into the chaos of Tescos; some children have gone back to school, but some apparently have not, and in places it resembled a creche, and a badly behaved one. But I whizzed round snatching up the things we wanted, and was back int he car and heading home in under half an hour.

St Mary the Virgin, Wingham

After a quick lunch, and listening to the Simon Mayo show on Radio 5, I made a batch of saffron buns, and a jar of chilli jam with the chillis and tomatoes from our own garden! How special does that sound? The buns were wonderful, and the jam needs maturing, but looks good and ideal on cheese and in a sandwich to add bite.

Jools had invited a friend from work round, Javier is from Spain, and somehow we were having something what we thought was Spanish for dinner. We have a recipe for Chorizo hash, and we like it, but I panicked as to what he would make of it. I also made a batch of Delia's potato and cheese bread, and it was all just about ready when he arrived.

I needn't have worried as he loved the hash, as he loves fried chorizo, but adored the bread, and we had a long talk about his life here in England and his home in Spain. We watched the almost full moon rise as I sipped a glass of malt, and then it was time for him to go home, and me to get some sleep. At last.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Forever Autumn

The calender says the month changed on Tuesday, and the weather knew; for the last 36 hours the wind had blew and each evening has gotten colder. Driving home this morning I could see the English Channel a mass of white horses with the ferries riding the waves like a bucking bronco. As I lay in the bed, the wind caused the curtains to billow out, I wrap the duvet closer to me and close my eyes.

These weeks when Jools and I are on different shift is strange; we have half an hour together in the morning, and maybe 40 minutes in the evenings, before each of us heads off in the car to work. We share the news, about either the factory or the cats, have a cup of coffee and then we're alone again.

We talk about what to do the weekend, places to go, maybe somewhere to have lunch, things to buy for the garden or, as this morning, wind damage to our fence. But, the week passes, and tonight is my last shift, and the weekend begins at one minute past six in the morning. And my choice is whether to try and sleep some, or stay awake and so let the weekend feel even longer.

Last night was a quiet shift for me at the factory, apart from the quality checks, very little for me to do, and so I began Bury my Heart at Wounded Knee ( )and straight away was stunned at the Europeans deceit and cruelty. This will not be an easy read, but I look forward to it. At the factory we do covers for the Folio Society, and one of our current projects is a pressing of this; I read the preface and was very interested, and Jools bought me a paperback version for my birthday.

The night shift flew by I can tell you.

Mother dearest is back home, and as yet I have not spoken to her. I am used to her selfishness and barbed tongue. Someone else may say she don't mean what she says, or I look for the bad things in her first. And they may be right. But, I feel that we have done our duty and had her stay, we made her welcome and she was just not that interested in our life here, just our cats. I am sure she will be telling her friends how wonderful things are here, and how great a time she had; just a shame she could not tell us that. Maybe it was jealousy, she is certainly jealous of Jools, and has kept that well hidden for a long time, but her remark that I was only taking pictures of Jools and not her was a killer.

I have calmed down, and our life will go on as it ever has; I will put thoughts of my Mother in the place where the other ones are and move on and look forward to our life together. In the end I don't need vindication or a blessing from my Mother; I am happy with our life, and whether she likes that or not, I don't really care.

All her talk of losing weight and changing seems to have brought a false dawn, as Jools' father thinks she has put weight on, not lost the 100 pounds she has claimed. Certainly she is less mobile, much less than when I stayed with her back in April; which is her choice, of course.

I don't like to end on a downbeat note, so here are our plans for the weekend. On Monday we passed through a beautiful village called Wickhambreaux; it has a pretty church, two water mills, a stream and an inviting village pub; everything we need. And on Sunday we are going to the Isle of Sheppy to watch a steam locomotive and for me to take pictures; a pub lunch at Harty Ferry may also happen of course.

And we will have all that time together of course; which is priceless.

One last thing; on Tuesday night there was a documentary on Radio 2 about the evacuation that took place in the early years of the war; if you get a chance listen to these eye-witness accounts on the BBC i-player.