Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Wednesday 28th April 2010

So, day eight in the windfarm house, and I think I may be getting a handle on things. I am sending out e mails left, right and centre to try and get information. I will quite possible upset just about everyone in the organisation at some point, but what the hell.

Once again the weather outside mocks us working inside with it’s sunshiny goodness and cloudless blue skies. Well, it did this morning, at least it is now cloudy and some of the warmth of the day has gone. Making me less likely to think about what else I could be doing other than sitting here at this keyboard.

I am having regular meetings with he who may be my boss or not, depends on whether I am doing good work or not. If I ask something he can’t answer he says I’m not employed by him per se; but that’s how it goes I guess. But the days are beginning to speed by, with apparently fewer hours than the day before.

I am still feeling all warm and fuzzy from yesterday after getting the news that the gallery wants to use more of my images, and that the first one of them, the train picture will be on sale from next Thursday; although I am not expecting an avalanche of money to come pouring in for me, having the recognition is enough. Well, just to be earning something from my hobby is good news.

And so, it’s over half-past-week, and thoughts turn to the long weekend ahead, three days of non-wind turbine related stuff and maybe getting out, photographing stuff and planting more stuff in the garden. All in all, after nearly four months of feeling so down in the mouth about everything, and then it all changes, just like that.

So it goes. So it goes.

Like I used to say to someone a few years back, just because yesterday was so bad, it doesn’t mean that tomorrow will be. It’s a world of endless possibilities out there, and up to each and every one of us to grab life by the kahunas while we can.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Victoire Jelltex

Folkestone Harbour

I can now reveal to you all, that I, that is your good friend Mr Jelltex, is about to be a semi-professional photographer.

Or a paid part-timer.


Anyway, last year Jools and myself went on a trip by steam train from London to Folkestone and back again. That in itself is an exciting thing, but anyways. The Folkestone Harbour Branch is now closed, and we went on the next-to-last train that went down it. We got to watch the engine power up and return before taking us back to London.
I took I huge number of shots, and one got spotted and a local gallery asked if they could turn it to a print. The process is something called vectoring, and produces something similar to a 1930s travel poster.

This is soon to be sold at the gallery, and I should be getting a small percentage of each print sold. So please, in order to keep me in single malts, go to

and buy a copy. No, buy two, or as many as you like. The new site goes online on the 6th of May.

You know it makes sense.

Tuesday 27th April 2010

And good afternoon.

It’s lunchtime and the office has the appearance of the Marie Celeste, with just the two of us in here, and me writing this instead of actually doing something constructive, like doing work for instance.

The days now pass quite quickly, with apparently each new dawn giving up to me another level of access into the company’s IT system, and now able to do some of the legendary ‘work.’ And now that there is a bod in the office who is actually inputting data into the system, they are thinking all the time of new instances of broken kit and poor procedures for me to file more about.


So, as we come to the end of lunchtime; well, I saw we, but I mean me, I have more paperwork to file and raise, and more people around Scandinavia to upset, and they can then fill my mailbox with more e mails for me to ignore or put on the ‘to do’ list.

And so to mock me as I am now working is another glorious sunny days outside, a cloudless sky with a blazing sun and a flat calm sea tempt me through the, now ajar, office window. And looking at the BBC website this morning, heavy rain seems to be the forecast for the weekend. Of course it is. And all the while the little radio in the office plays Florence and the machine and what I guess to be the new Eminem single, it seems to be him ranting over an INXS backing track, which doesn’t seem to be very radical to me. Or maybe it is, who am I to judge?

And so it goes; and here I go back to work.

Later, peeps.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Sunday 25th April 2010

Good evening.

And welcome to our living room; our lounge, if you like.

Sorry, you have missed dinner, we had roast chicken with all the trimmings. Well, not all the trimmings, as Tesco were all out of stuffed gnu and pickled ocelot, so I did stuff the chicken, first time I have done that, and roast spuds, vegies, etc. And a glass of red too. Or two.

In truth I've been more than a little meh, today. Something with sitting up until and hour and a half past bedtime last night watching the football highlights. I wanted to make sure the gizmo we have for recording TV programs actually did record, rather than have a hissy fit and just refuse. I think it only likes show with Gok Wan, that I've never watched anything with him in only proves my point. Maybe.

So, I had a relaxing day, trying hopelessly to catch up with my reading; I did read the interesting bits from yesterday's Times; but the tales of bankers trying to get home from the Maldives using anything but dust-related-grounded planes even begins to pall after a while. One of three parties is going to win the election; or not. Depends on your point of view or if you care whether this is a good thing or not. Can they not cut a deck of cards and then we can all just get back to counting our overdrafts?

Yesterday, we went to the seaside. Although we live beside the seaside ourselves, I thought it might be good to go to Southend. Southend is in Essex, a county the other side of the Thames from Kent, but with a lower quality mud but many more orange women. I don't know why this is, maybe Essex men find that attractive. They also seem to have developed a few new uses for the word 'like' and 'whatever', which does make understanding them a tad tricky.

So, after a lay in until seven, rock and roll, we got our stuff together and headed down to the railways station to see how much we would be charged to go. Instead of the mortgage like sun the interweb had suggested, it was half that, and soon we were whizzing our way through the Kentish countryside to Ebbsfleet and then under the river and into east London; which unlike the TV program suggests is quite a cheery place and many people not miserable at all. In fact it looks like a building site, which is what it is, as Stratford is where the Olympics are to be held in a little over two years time.

The thing I hate about Stratford International is.....

We got off the future of railway transport and waited for a current commuter train to shake and rattle us to the Essex coast. It wasn't that bad, and dashing through the verdant Essex countryside was really quite pleasant.

And then we arrived in Southend. Southend, like many British seaside resorts has fell on harder times. I think that Southend seems to have weathered this better than many of the Kent towns, and really was rather nice. Right out of the railways station, over the four lane inner ring road to a half empty shopping centre, and then onto the High Street and towards the misty horizons just visible beyond and the seafront and the Thames estuary.

The (Kursaal) Flyer

Right in front of us was a round swirly viewing platform thing, with grand views over the fun fair below, and the pier beyond. Ah yes, the pier. Southend pier is long; the longest in Britain and indeed the world I believe. It stretches out over a mile from the beach, right over the mudflats into the shipping lanes of the Thames beyond.

The (Kursaal) Flyer

But it was high tide, and so when we walked out onto it, it was over the blue water and not the brown and slimy mud. Not many others were taking the chance for a very pleasant stroll, there is an railway which runs the length of the pier, but why bother when one can walk?

The (Kursaal) Flyer

Kent seemed to get no nearer as we walked out over the water, and the smoking chimneys of Grain Power station remained shrouded in mist, and in-between, cargo and container ships plied their ways.

The (Kursaal) Flyer

Once at the end of the pier, we sat down outside the cafe and ordered bacon baguettes and a cuppa; the baguettes when they came were huge and stuffed with smoked streaky bacon, and great. After wandering around the head of the pier, we caught a train back, and we soon back on dry land, and looking at the thrill rides in the fair. After photographing the best ride from all angles, we decided to go on, and soon were in a car, climbing vertically into the blue sky before plunging back to ground, looping the loop, twisting, and going round in a circle really quite quickly; and it was over. We screamed like children and enjoyed it very much. But for 30 seconds, £3.60 it wasn't worth a repeat.

Bubo bubo

We walked back along the High Street, past the owls (!), wondering what to do, but neither of us could face walking around London, which had been our plan, so instead we made our way back home, and indeed were back in time for me to light the first bBQ of the year, and soon we were sitting outside munching on lamb, mint and wild garlic burgers and sipping strong cider.

Today, we stayed around the house, planted stuff in the garden and did chores. And listened to the radio and read stuff too. Not exciting, but not work either.

So, Monday tomorrow, and back to the grindstone, peeps.

Friday, 23 April 2010

Friday 23rd April 2010

An apology to my friends

St Georges Day.

The patron saint of England.

St George's Day is not a bank holiday.

St George was not English.

Or British.

In fact, he may have been Turkish.

Or something.

And the dragon thing.......

Probably not right, either.

And so, I was at work, banging my head against brick walls as I tried to understand how the company worked. Or not.

And then at half ten, my trainer left to go back to France and I was on my own, with 15 case files to sort through. And so after staring at them, reading through the files, I made notes, and then put the notes on a spread sheet with facts I knew, things I have done, and a plan of action. And the afternoon passed by.

Outside, the sun shone in a cloudless blue sky, but with the wind still in the north it was chilly. Except in the office with all the windows closed.

I did drink rather a lot of coffee today. Someone kept making pots of the stuff and I kept right on drinking it. And then when i came home me made a pot of flavoured coffee, I had two more cups. And then we went out into the village to meet a friend and share a celebration meal in The Smugglers, which I rounded off with more coffee.

We shared a huge plate of nachos, and then a main of our choice; I had steam marinated in Rioja; Jools had duck in wine and bob had pizza. Nice fishy pizza.

And some Speckled Hen.

Which is a beer.

Which is rather nice.

And here I am back home, sipping on a glass of Limoncello, as we plan our weekend; maybe a day out at bracing Southend-on-Sea on the train; maybe some cockles and/or muscles, a paddle in the mudflats and a walk along the mile and a half long pier.

Or we may do something else.

It's the weekend, and it's all ours.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

I'm drowning!

Yes, I'm drowning in a sea of information and not enjoying it.

I am told that it will all make sense in due course. That from tomorrow at ten I will be on my own, and bricking it.

I have tried, heaven knows I have. Christian has tried to help, but he was given much to do other than teach me what he knows. So, inbetween calling reluctant suppliers, he tried to help me. That almost none of my auths have been actioned, and in most case I can look at the pages on the intranet but not change them, or, heaven forbid, input information.

But, tomorrow is Friday, and if nothing else there will be the minute hand ticking towards five in the afternoon. We have nothing planned, but the weekend will be ours, maybe to lay in bed and stare at the ceiling, or get out and DO STUFF.

We are trying to contain ourselves as tonight is the second leadership 'debate' is on the tV. Instead of watching that we might poke our eyes out with red hot needles or run round the garden stark naked. Who knows, it'll be better than the staged farce that will be played out on Sky TV.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Thursday 22nd April 2010

Two day until the weekend!

So, yesterday I did training all day, the morning death by Powerpoint, which was fine as it was just for me, and able to ask questions when i didn't understand anything.

And in the afternoon try to learn the procedures and the forms needed to do the job, made all the more difficult my not having the correct 'rights' as yet to use any of the software. That might be sorted out today.

And so, from Monday I will be flying solo, as it were, and have to pick the brains of my boss and the guy who is doing my job already on the other side of the channel.
At least when busy the day goes quickly, and I am promised that there is a mountain of work that has been piling up for me from the supervisors in the office.

In a miracle, the big metal shiny birds were allowed to fly again yesterday, although 150,000 Brits are stranded all over the world. And there seems to be an election in the air, as various parties keep dropping leaflets through our door all covered with 'election promises' nee lies, which make the short trip from said door to bin.

I had to sign off yesterday; I called the dole office and the woman had a real monk on; you missed and interview on Monday, she said. I was working said I. You missed an interview she said again, for effect. Does it matter said I? I hope it is decades work that made her so jaded and bitchy, not just because she can. I am glad not to have to go there at least for a while.

So, Thursday arrives, more clear blue skies and endless sunshine. And like many others, I'll be in the office.

Later, peeps.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Tuesday 20th April 2010

After a four month weekend, I would have thought time would have flown, what with work and everything. But, work hasn't really begun yet, I finished the induction package this morning, all animation but a little thought provoking. And then settled down to do some important stuff; configure Outlook Express, add some contacts, and then read some procedures.

Lots of procedures.

It sure didn't help that they had no windows open in the office, and the air became stale and I got sleepy. An endless stream of tea did not help much, just needed regular visits to the loo downstairs.

And no excuses to wander into town to gawp at the chavs either. Heck, I even had lunch at my desk, and did another hour of work instead.

Tomorrow, I have a new monitor, keyboard and mouse being delivered by UPS, and I also get to learn the whole procedures of raising and chasing paperwork. My boss came in and was pleased to see me, which is nice.

But not as nice as the agency who came by to drop some paperwork off and brought a box of doughnuts for me to share round the office.

Yay, doughnuts!

And now I'm home, the cats are fed, and I am waiting for Jools to return, and whilst I do wait, I sup a can of Belgian Stella; the birds are chirping outside, I have just put down a load of seed for them, but molly might be on the prowl too. Yesterday she almost caught a pigeon, judging from the number of feathers on the lawn; it probably escaped.

Three days to the weekend!

Monday, 19 April 2010

Back on the chain gang!

Phew, first day at work is over, and I'm home after cooking a roast chicken dinner and having washed up and reflecting on a day in which I earned some money. I say earned, my day was mostly spent in front of a computer screen waiting for things to happen or for updates to load or install.

Anyway, being my first day, I got to start an hour later than everyone else so they could sort out the IT out for me.


That was so funny. Anyway, I turn up and a desk had been cleared for me, a laptop provided, attached to a dock thing, an printed e mail told me my screen name and password.

Two problems; one being the most complicated password ever created in the whole history of IT. It went something like this; 236#mYmaAq, all the swapping between upper and lower case and all that. Anyway after typing it in 50 or 60 times I got the hang of it. Seems like each laptop, which acts like a mini server, de-registers itself if it has not been on the network for 3 months. This I find out from the IT guy in Denmark. It took and hour to get to that stage, swapping leads, docks and the such, with the result that we decided the laptop was the problem.
So, the local IT guy got the message to register the laptop and configured it, remotley from the next room, probably. Quite why he couldn't come in and sort it out, maybe he was on a beach in Jamaica, possibly.
The second problem is that my screen name, and as I learned later, my e mail account, is i hard, as somehow they managed to insert an extra 'r' into my name. So, to the whole rest of the company and the world, I am now I Hard. Oh, how Jools laughed when I mailed her.

Just as I got the computer working and in a position to do something, it was lunchtime, and my boss went round asking, 'who wants a fat boys breakfast; I'm paying?' And who was I to say no? So, we walked into town and took our seats in a harbourside cafe and ordered a full breakfast with mugs of tea. And I was getting paid!

The afternoon I had to do the company induction, which seemed to be aimed at four year olds. So, I learned the parts of a wind turbine, and how the company is structured. And was doing well, and then the server crashed.

And so at half three I was told to go home and come back in the morning. Yay! So, back home, beating the traffic, and able to prepare dinner so it's ready before dark and be home before Jools.

So, first day went well, day two promises an avalanche of paperwork, but that might have to wait until the end of the week.

At least.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Welcome to the working week. Again. reprise.

And so, Sunday evening; we have had dinner, the sun has gone down in a glorious red mist and now a crescent moon is over our house. And the butterflies have begun in my stomach.
Although it's not quite like starting at a new, bigger school, the feeling is the same. I know I shouldn't, I have the knowledge and the experience they wanted, otherwise they wouldn't have offered me the job. I know this, but it is also a big step, a foot in the door of a new industry, one that will grow and could be a good one to join.

People say that I must have been bored or depressed these past four months unemployed. I didn't think I was, but the wave of relief that swept over me when i was told I got the job was overwhelming. I do know that I had begun to be able to fill my days with nothing, listening to radio shows, playing with photography, and other ways to fritter my time away. I did, of course, look for jobs, write mails and apply online. Let me say that I am glad to have work now, and a bright new future for us lies ahead.

We have some work to do on our house, the coating has come off an outside wall where the rain got in, and althought he damage is superficial, it needs sorting. Which means a builder, scaffolding, painters, etc.

Just glad that we can plan that to be repaired now. Beyond that we have dreams of holidays of simple to exotic location in our heads, a new television (although that is not really needed, the one we have now I have had for 10 years), new clothes, a new bathroom, a granite worktop for the kitchen, redecorate the house, garden furniture.

And so on. None of it needed, per se, but you know, good to fantasise about. Work will mean me being online much less, I can't guarantee how often I will be able to write here, but I will update when I can.

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Saturday 17th April 2010

Some 14 years ago, my life changed forever. At about five o'clock, my Dad was making his way home from work, as he had dome for many years, and as he walked his bike over the bridge at Oulton Broad, his heart gave up, and he fell to the floor never to wake up.
It turned out to be my last day at work at RAF Laarbruch in Germany, as I had to be flown back to help with Mother with the funeral and the other stuff. Some of the other stuff being that my Grandfather passed away three days later. Seriously. It was a tough time, but I got through it. Today was that day, the 17th of April, but life continued, as so did I. Doesn't mean I didn't think about Dad, I just lived for the present. Which is what he would have wanted.

And on this very day, my team, our team, Norwich City, got promoted from League 1. Some times good things happen, sometimes bad things. We just never know, which is the whole life thing. And I believe how we cope with the highs and lows that life throws at us, is what makes us different.

So Dad, this one is for you. Cheers!

It's been a good day; really. We woke up to a glorious dawn, mist had formed in the valley beneath our house, and the sun rose and shone through it in a most wonderful way. We had breakfast, and then got in the car and headed up the A2 towards London.

But we did not go to London, we went shopping.Shopping; something we don't do very often, just when the need arises. Jools needed some stuff, and so we went to Bluewater; a mall built in the bottom of a chalk quarry just outside Dartford on the banks of the Thames.

Near London.

It is a bit chav; no, it's all chav, but glorious in a temple to shopping kind of way. I took pictures of course, and got some good shots. Jools got what she wanted. We also got chilli peanuts; peanut crunchy things, seven seed bread, wasabi peanuts and all sorts of stuff. And as the crowds thickened, we left.

And then to Greenhithe and for a walk. Crossing the Thames just upriver from here is Dartford, and the main crossing of the ; the tunnel and bridge at Dartford. A friend of mine walked last week under the bridge, and I had seen some of his pictures. It was a glorious day; not a breath of wind, and with no aircraft flying, no clouds or contrails to spoil a clear blue sky.

We walked through industrial units and an ASDA before getting to the river bank, and then along a winding bank until we were under the bridge's shadow. I took pictures all the time, and it was wonderful. Even though we were the only people on the river bank, a couple of hundred feet above us, traffic thundered across the river.

We walked back to where we left the car, stopping off at a riverside pub for a beer and to watch the Manc derby. It was awful, and so we went back to the car and drove home, after I sacrificed the second half and more beer so to be home and watch the Norwich game on a P2P site.

Thursday afternoon panned out quite well too. I decided to head out in the car, in the vague direction of a village we had walked through a few weekends ago. Needless to say, I took the wrong turn, and found myself driving down a lane barely wider than the car, and no idea where I would end up.

St Mary the Virgin, Hastingleigh

I came to a village called Hastingleigh, pretty enough, and then I caught sight of a sign to the church. Down a narrow lane, and a left turn down another lane even narrower, and there was a perfect little church, nestling in the folds of the countryside. A family was having a picnic in the churchyard, whilst sheep looked on from the other side of the fence, curious.

St Mary the Virgin, Hastingleigh

I snapped away; I tried the door, it should have been open, but was locked fast. Oh well. I got back in my car and drove west.
I ended up driving over an area of high ground, and below was the small town of Wye. I remembered seeing pictures of the town and it being worthy of a visit. The road and I headed down into the narrow streets and parked beside the impressive parish church.

The New Flying Horse, Wye

The church was open, and grand as befitting a town of some wealth. I snap away, and then my thoughts turned to a beer or two. Well, one as I was driving. I walk around the village centre and end up in a fine inn; the New Flying Horse. I have no idea what happened to the old flying horse, but this one had a fine selection of ales, and a garden to sit in and savour the moment.

The New Flying Horse, Wye

Time then to drive back to Dover, to collect Jools from work, and wonder of the splendour of the dust-induced sunset.

Wye Station, Kent

I went onto the cliffs to wait for the sun to set, and got chilled to my bone as the wind blew through my thin coat. But I got some shots, as the sun set in pinks rather than reds and oranges.

Eyjafjallajoekull Sunset

And so; Friday. My last full day of unemployment; or the last working day. And I decide after the usual visit to Tesco, to head to somewhere special; Leeds Castle.

Leeds, there are two at least in England, is home to a fine castle built on two islands in a lake, and once visited by numerous Kings and Queens of this land.

Leeds Castle

The castle looks wonderful in it's setting, surrounded on all sides by daffodil covered banks, with glorious fluffy clouds overhead. I know a short cut, and get to the front of the early arrivals crossing the 17th fairway of the golf course, round the edge of the moat and in the castle rushing round to get pictures with few, if any, people in them.

Leeds Castle

When I come out, yummy and slummy mummies are taking their darlings for picnics and visits to play areas, with little thought for the wonderful surroundings. Just seeing it as somewhere to take the kids. It seems this season's fashion is for leggings, and some who have legs like tree trunks make the leggings opaque and their underwear visible. Stomachs turned.

I walked back to the car ark though a faux woodland with a tamed stream winding through scattered trees with sting flowers underneath. I t was and looked wonderful; the families walked by with their fake tans and hair extensions unaware of the beauty laid on for their delectations.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Thursday 15th April 2010

Ash Thursday.

Or that might be how today will be remembered. Perhaps. A volcano in Iceland has erupted, and the ash plume is drifting over Great Britain, and there is a possibility it will be bad enough to damage jet engines; so all aircraft are to grounded in the country from Midday.
Whilst the rest of the country is worrying about making business meetings in Bern or elsewhere or jetting off for some spring sunshine, I am just hoping for a stunning sunset tonight and am thinking of places with a clear view to the west so to see as much of the sky as possible to the west.

That will be my inner photographer speaking, of course. Not that it stays inside all that much. So, not quite sure what to do with the day; it dawned all dull and cloudy this morning, but the sun has burnt that off and an afternoon of unbroken sunshine lays ahead. Looking for a church or maybe a castle that needs photographing.

No need to prepare for work tomorrow, as that has been delayed until Monday due to 'computer problems'. Which is fine, gives me more chance to gallivant round snapping the Kentish countryside and not worry about looking for work now. I will do the weekly shop as usual tomorrow morning and then maybe visit Leeds Castle if the weather stays fine.
Saturday, we are going to Bluewater; a huge shopping mall in the north of the county as we really need some clothes and other things, and Dover does not cut it. So, off with the hordes to shop, and be out again as quickly as possible and do something else. Namely walking along the Thames under the Dartford Bridge, if we can find a good place to park. And then more photography, of course.

Molly brought us half a rat in during the night; Jools was up first and did not specify which half was left for us, but it was nice of her. I did see her jump halfway up the hedge yesterday afternoon whilst trying to catch a Greenfinch, but she failed. Again.

There is an election campaign going on, apparently. UKIP are down town handing out litter; sorry, election pamphlets. Apparently they are fed up with being tarred with the brush that says they hare a one policy party. As I suggested to our local UKIP candidate last night, maybe then they should have called themselves something else.

Monster Raving Loony Party are not fielding a candidate in our area this time; maybe UKIP stand a chance of finishing 5th or even 4th?

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Wednesday 14th March 2010

Good afternoon.

And welcome to the 1980s. I say the 1980s, because I hear that the mix tape is back, and it just happened that I came across the first two tapes I made when I got my first car back in 1984. I'm now on the second one, and it pretty sums up what my taste in music was in that spring 26 years ago, and that it aint that bad. Really. OK, pop pickers, here is the tracklisting of tape 1 and judge for yourself.

Side 1

Teenage Kicks - The Undertones
Get Over You - The Undertones
Jimmy Jimmy - The Undertones
Here Comes the Summer - The Undertones
Wednesday Week - The Undertones
It's Going to Happen - The Undertones
Got to have You Back - The Undertones
Tommy Gun - The Clash
Shape of Things to Come - The Headboys
Good Technology - The Red Guitars
Coup - 23 Skidoo
Temptation - Popular Voice
Get Your Feet out of my Shoes - The Boothill Foottappers

Side 2

Temptation - New Order
We Live so fast - Heaven 17
The American - Simple Minds
Song to the Siren - This Mortal Coil
Sugar Hiccup - Cocteau Twins
From the Flagstones - Cocteau Twins
Never Stop (discotheque) - Echo and the Bunnymen
To Have and to have Not - Billy Bragg
New Rose - The Damned

Not bad, I think.

Anyway, it frightens the cats and keeps them out from under my feet demanding food and/or affection. Saying that we did get two more mice from Molly last night. Well, one and a bit. A whole one whilst listening to the radio before bed time and a liver on the bathroom floor for us this morning. Bless.

I am having a lazy day today, as I have chores to run tomorrow and then work on Friday. Work, although one day and then a weekend, but then 5 days of work next week and every day after that. How time will fly then!

So, I have been editing pictures I took yesterday, and photographing more pictures of my record and tape collection, to upload to Flickr and so torment the uncool!

So, at some point I will get my backside into gear and probably mow the lawn in the back garden, once tape 2 finishes of course. Seems like it's from 1987, and is full of Lone Justice, The Hoodoo Gurus, Gun and the such. Great stuff. Other than that, it's a grey and dull day and so better to edit pictures than take them, I guess.

Yesterday, however, was much better; a bright, sunny but windy day, perfect for pictures and travelling about with camera and friends. Or friend. Gary is someone who I have got to know through photography and Flickr, he joined our local club, but I won't hold that against him as I'm a member too. So, at eight we set off heading north the Thanet and sunny Broadstairs first.

Broadstairs would best to be renamed Dickensville or something similar, as Mr Charles Dickens lived in several houses and hotels in the town during the height of his powers setting Bleak House there and writing part of Nicholas Nickelby there too. There was a Dickens themed attraction there until last year, but that has sadly closed down now; it does boat a tiny cinema right down near the harbour, The Palace, although parking on the narrow twisty Harbour Street would be difficult.

Beach huts

So, we park up on the cliff and walk down a wonderful flight of steps I have snapped many times before, pausing to photograph the double decked set of beach huts built against the base of the cliff before walking on the sand towards the small flotilla of boats high on the sand in the lea of the short harbour wall. These were ripe for snapping, and I did.

Broadstairs Harbour

We walked up a narrow twisty lane to Dickens's old house, now called Bleak House, and it towers over all others in the town and I guess offers prime views over the sea to France. If it could be seen from here, anyway.

And then back down the alleyway to the harbour, before making our way back up the cliff via Harbour Street, past the delivery men still unloading; looking at my watch I see it was yet to reach nine. And back then to the car and out of the town and heading north until we reach North Foreland, the twin of the lighthouse in our village, St Margaret's, this one marking the point where the north and east coasts of Kent meet.

And so, then east, to faded Margate.

Dreamland, Margate

Margate was once one of England's top seaside resorts; and then came package holidays to Spain and Florida, and people started not to visit the town. Drug addicts and the like moved in and the town began to crumble. It is beginning to recover; the Tate is building a contemporary gallery, and there is fresh paint on the town's promenade and shops.

golden mile

I stop to take a picture of Britain's second smallest theatre, The Tom Thumb; it looks like it is what was once a garage, and big enough for only a couple of cars. anyway, we drive on.

My plan was to go through Margate and onto through Birchington to Minis Bay beyond, with it's wide mud flats and fine views along the coast to Reculver Towers and Herne Bay beyond. I had not looked at the tide tables, and so we arrived at high tide with the waves lapping at the sea wall, and the wind had whipped the sea into choppy waves. We got back in the car and headed on to Reculver, visible over the marshes to the west.

Reculver was once a Roman garrison and in the middle ages a village with a fine church. The sea had other ideas and eroded the cliffs so the two ruins are now on the cliff edge, and the towers of the church stand as landmarks for miles around and indeed for shipping.

Reculver Towers

We park up and walk under the tower's shadow; I snap away, and notice the cloud formation and think they might look good in a conversion to black and white, I take more just in case. The wind was making it hard to keep the camera level and get good shots, and so after we get our shots we climb back in the car and head inland.

Reculver Towers

It was getting near to lunchtime, and my thoughts turned to food, and for the first time in a few days actually felt the first pangs of hunger; pubs are open I said.

We drove back through the lanes and onto the main road before turning off to head to Sarre and then take the Canterbury road, before turning off and heading over the railway and river at Grove Ferry and over the Stour marshes, dotted as it is with villages with church spires visible over the tree tops.

My plan was to head to Wickhambreaux where there is a fine mill on the river as well as a splendid church and a certain village pub I wanted to try to beer from, and photograph for my project.

The Rose Inn, Wickhambreaux

The Rose Inn over looks the mill, the Green and the church; it is whitewashed and inside it's wooden beams are decorated with dried hops, which seems to be the Kentish way.
However, before it was time to drink, we walk to the mill and photograph that, it was still sunny and the white clapperboard gleamed in the sunshine, and reflected wonderfully in the mill race.

We tried to get into the church, and was not surprised to find it locked, or so we thought. Anyway, it was midday and beer and food time. The landlord unlocked the door as we approached, and poured us two fine pints of Cornish ale and left us to look at the menu. I chose a ham ploughman's, and Gary had cheesy chips. It was warm enough in the sunshine to site outside on a picnic bench and watch village life go by; slowly.

The Rose Inn, Wickhambreaux

The ploughman's was fine, with home cured ham and fine ciabatta bread, lots of pickles and salad. It was a fine lunch. The landlord told us the church should be open, but the door sometimes is tricky; we should go back.

After lunch, we crossed the road to the church, and sure enough the door opened and so we let ourselves into the porch and through into the main body of the building.

St Andrews Wickhambreaux

St Andrew's is a wide and friendly church, dominated by a stained glass window to the east; it was designed and made in New York in 1894, and is wonderful; the sunshine poured in through it, casting coloured shapes onto the tiled floor. The supports of the roof still had their mediaeval paintings on them, and above our heads the inside of the roof was deep blue with an abundance of stars painted upon it.

St Andrews Wickhambreaux

In a word it was a glorious place, and I took many shots, most of which are quite good, even if I say so myself.

St Andrews Wickhambreaux

Time then for us to head back to Dover, drop Gary off and then into town to drop the picture off at the framers; the one of the train I got on Saturday. It will look fine on the wall of of our living room, but being so big will cost a lot to frame properly, but if it's worth doing, etc. And then back home to prepare for Jools' return and our evening together.

Monday, 12 April 2010

Monday 12th 2010

Good morning.

In what should have been a wonderful weekend, basking in the good news from Friday, and as the weather was pretty wonderful too, what better way than to get out in the sunshine, rambling, photographing and generally living it up.

But, it didn't end up quite like that.

Walmer Castle

Friday morning, I ended up visiting a local castle that somehow we had not visited in the three years I have lived down here, and as it is just a ten minute drive, I thought I would take the chance.

Canons; sorry, cannons

Walmer Castle is quite similar in design to Deal, but this time it has been converted into a grand house; it is made from alternate cloverleaf patterns, one on top of the other, with it now being a part-time residence for minor royals and the suchlike.

Walmer Castle

It is a fine place, set in large, well tendered gardens, and the sunshine and shapes made for great photography.

I was still buzzing when I went to pick up Julie from work and we headed out to visit our friend out in the country to drop off some stuff as Francis is about to move from her country cottage to the seaside town of Whitstable as her landlord is kicking her out. It happens. And so she is packing up her life, and trying to decide which parts of her old life she can or cannot be without in her much smaller flat.

Ramsgate Harbour

I guess at times like these it is good to have friends and just someone to talk to. We also invited her to dinner on Sunday, and bid our farewell and headed out to a photographic meet in Ramsgate, where we would all be trying our hand at some night time photography.

Ramsgate Harbour

Before the meet up time, we went to a Belgian cafe for dinner and a celebration meal. And it may have been this that sealed our fate for the weekend. Anyway, for now, the meal was great, I had fish and chips; Julie had scallops and pasta and herbs. Both were great.
And then we went outside to meet our friends, tripods in hand as well as our camera, and snap the place to death.

Once the light had faded from the sky, the pictures began to all look the same, and I got bored; also because apparently no one wants to use a toilet after dark, the local council closes them all and my bladder was complaining. Anyway, I find Julie and we head back home, and after a day of roller-coaster emotions, we head to bed.

The next day, I will pass over in all but the briefest detail; something we ate, or maybe a bug that one of us had picked up, made itself known soon after dawn, and so we were unable to leave the house, or feel like it. Or rather, Julie didn't at first. I headed to Folkestone to pick p the picture, but on the way I knew things were not right.

Javelin at Folkestone Warren

Feeling like death warmed up, I did stay up all afternoon to listen to the football on the radio as my team edge ever closer to promotion. And then as the final whistle goes, take myself to bed where I shiver under two duvets. Julie feels better and watches the new Dr Who episode.

I drag myself out of bed to watch more football; why do I care about 22 men kicking a bag of wind around? It was El Classico, Real vs Barca live from Spain, and was pretty darn good, and kept me awake until 11, some two hours after I should have gone to bed.

But, we woke up better in the morning, and although took things easy, we did get work done in the garden and in the house. And were feeling fine by the time Francis came round and it was time to cook dinner; once again, roast chicken and all the usual stuff. After 36 hours of not eating, it tasted divine.

Now it is Monday, and I have four days until I begin work, I have to squeeze all those chores in that will have to be done before I re-enter the working week. All good stuff. Anyway, we feel a little better and ready to take on the world; one person at a time though.

Friday, 9 April 2010

Friday 9th April 2010

This is going to be a quick one, as I'm off out for the evening taking pictures and all that photographic malarkey.

But at one this afternoon I took a call and was told that I was being offered the job, and I told them I would be taking it. This is a foot in the door for me in a growth industry and nothing but good news. There are details to be sorted out, not least us needing another car, but all that is for next week, for now we are just happy and that the house is safe for now.

If I get busy, have a great weekend peeps, and take care.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Thursday 8th April 2010

Today was the day of the big interview. Or lordy. But before we get to that, let us go back to last night to what will be forever known in our house as 'Night of the mice'. OK, it wasn't that bad, but in 15 minutes molly did bring in three mice, in this order; one barely alive, one dead and one jumping around like a jumpy thing. The first one I should have put out of it's pain, but I hoped it might have been shock and put in in the hedge out front. The second was dead, and so that got put in the bin; Molly looked disappointed and so went out and got some fresh meat. She brought it in the living room, and we ran round some and caught it in a handkerchief and put it next to it's stunned friend in the hedge.
Thankfully, that was it for the mice and so I went back to watching Manchester United get dumped out of Europe. Not a lost night after all.

And so to today: The interview was with the company that is building the wind turbines off Ramsgate, and they are looking for a Quality Assurance guy with engineering background; or was it an engineer with a QA background? Whatever, I ticked almost all the boxes in their online advertisement and applied.

And in a turn up for the books, I got an interview and today was the day. At least I knew where to go as it is the yard we worked out of when I did the weeks survey work back in February. I had had a shower, a shave and wore my suit, and I think I scrubbed up quite well. I arrived in plenty of time, and studied their requirements whilst I waited. Before leaving home I had found a website which suggested the best questions to ask at the end of the interview; in other words I felt primed and ready to go.

They asked questions, and I batted them right back, straight. I think they were impressed, they said so. We agreed on a wage which whilst not as high as I'd hoped, is double what I was getting at the factory. And so I have to wait and hope now.

Well, too late to hope, just think that I have done enough to convince them. Man, we need me to get this job. I found out from the agency that as this job finishes, another windfarm, over twice as big will be built, once again everything being based in Ramsgate; three years more work, and if I get this one, I will be in line for the same job on the next project.


A big word, but maybe there is light.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Tuesday April 6th 2010

OK, I am stuck as to what to call each blog and so you may have noticed that I am sticking to using the date, although it appears I am yet to settle on a format in which to put the date in!

Welcome to Tuesday, everyone is back at work, except me, or so it seems; although the big interview is looming on Thursday. More about that another time.

So, that was Easter, come and gone, four days with Jools, crappy weather which is only to be expected on two bank holidays. Yes, bank holidays, the banks are closed but most other places these days are open. There was even rubbish collection on Good Friday, and I guess if we would have gone to the village shop, daily papers. When I were a nipper, we only got three days off a year, two at Christmas and Good Friday, but most days are now the same as Tesco wants to make even more money, as does Starbucks, apparently.

Saturday was a wet and miserable day out; the radio spoke of gridlock in town and on the main roads in due to one of the ferry companies being hit by a strike. So, for the most part we did indoor stuff, which for me was either watching football on TV or listening to football on the radio. It's near the end of the season, so in the Prem, richer teams of millionaires are beating teams of lesser millionaires, all very exciting stuff, or so Sky TV tells us, but then they have to as they have paid billions for the right to beam the games to us, and heaven forbid should they actually admit that the same team winning and the usual suspects behind would be boring; hell no. And since when does finishing forth become so magical, Liverpool?

So, that night I cooked steak with field mushrooms and Jools went out and fetched chips from the local chippy. It was all very nice.

On Sunday the rain came down even harder, and as there was nowhere we really wanted to visit, we stayed in and did more things inside; more beading for Jools and I began scanning more slides from an Italian trip I did a few years back; and the day did pass.
In the evening, I cooked roast beef and the usual trimmings. I have now got this to a fine art, so from start to plate it takes less than two hours, and tastes pretty good I have to say.

Monday promised to be the best day of the weekend, and so it proved. We had been wanting to go for a long walk all weekend long, and this was our chance. We decided to walk around the village of Appledore, following a route in a book Jools has; and even better, our friend Matt, said he would like to meet up with us.

Squelchy underfoot

Appledoor is on the edge of the Romney Marsh, and so lots of trampling over fields and over styles lay ahead. The first part of the walk was through farmland, and was easy going. We saw new laid vineyard too, with the promise of future vintages. We walked on.

Close to ewe!

And then came to a field of sheep with new born lambs, always cute, they made for fine photography, we walked on some more. We came to a church in a copse, and this was the furthest point from our start point, I snapped it so I could add it to my collection of Kentish churches, and then we took the less muddy road and headed down the shallow valley side towards the canal.

St Mary's Church, Kenardington, Kent

All along from Folkestone to Rye, a canal was built in Napoleonic times to moves equipment around easily, and that canal is still left, and is now a tranquil place, ideal for a stroll on a summer's or a spring day.

Back in Appledore, the pub was open and they were doing a hog roast in the beer garden; having worked up an appetite, what better way to sate that than to have some freshly cooked pork and crackling with some salad and vegetables? And washed down with a local ale of cider?

Time then to drive back home and to chill for the afternoon and for me to listen to even more football on the radio; and Norwich inch ever closer to promotion. Yay!

As is usual, the weather is glorious today; the sun is shining in a cloudless sky, and most folks are back at work. I took the car so I could get a haircut and maybe take some pictures.

I drove to Ramsgate, as I had noticed some interesting buildings as we had passed through, and wanted to snap them. In truth there was not much more than what I had seen from the car; a huge Grammar School; a large church, and the occasional odd looking building, and that was it. I found a place to have a haircut, and waited for an hour until it was my turn; and passed the time reading The Sun and The Daily Mail; as if life wasn't bad enough already. The Sun had lots about Jordan, the big breasted z list celeb and the latest Simon Cowell TV show, whilst the Mail had stuff about how rubbish the PM was and it's all immigrants fault(probably).

FD XZ 106

I went back home via the airport at Manston, where there is a museum. It was filled with aircraft and stuff I worked on during my time in the RAF, a sure sign I am getting old. A better sign of that was that the barber had to trim hair growing out of my ears!

RAF Bomb Disposal

Oh dearie me.

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Job update

So, I thought I would bring you all up to speed with my current status. I am still looking for work, but I do have an interview next week. It's with the company building the windfarm up the coast, as a Technical Assistant, I think I should be able to do that, I just have to convince them I can. So, on Thursday I will don my only suit and try and sell myself.
Also, the background checks have been completed for the job down the cruise terminal, and that should start in three weeks at most. Although, saying that I have yet to have confirmation from the company, just that the checks have been done. So, I can now prove that I have not been arrested, been in jail or on any offender lists, which is good.

So, things are moving forward, sometimes it does not seem that way for weeks. Anyway, fingers crossed, although that will probably have no bearing on whether I get the job, or not.

Friday, 2 April 2010

Friday 2nd April 2010

Hello and happy Easter.

Not that I am Christian or anything, but in a general seasonal greeting. And in typical Bank Holiday weather, it is raining. Not quite Biblical amounts, but enough to make us stay indoors, put the heating on and watch the poor birds scratching around for seeds in the hedge.
It has not been rainy all day, in fact it was quite glorious this morning. We walked from the house to the lighthouse and back over the fields, looking at spring having sprung, or seriously thinking about it. It takes about half an hour to wander down via the paths to the cliffs at the lighthouse, and the sight as we walk down the narrow path towards the cliff edge is always a thrill.
We bumped into a guy who asked me to take his picture by the cliff edge. Which I did. Twice. He was from Boulder, Colorado. Did he know Aurora I asked? My Dad lives there said he. I did not mention the whole library thing in case he voted to close them. Anyway, we all have a nice chat; he's over for a week, staying in Canterbury, and loving it. He went to Rye last night to watch the sunset, but complained it was so cold. So there you have it; the Romney Marsh, colder than Colorado.
We suggested all the places he should think of visiting, but then said something I had replied to all the folks who I spoke to on my grand trip down the west coast of the US five years back; if I saw everything this trip, I wouldn't need to come back!

We walked back over the fields, different fields, to the village and via one of the four pubs there, The Red Lion, where we read to daily papers and had a pint whilst sitting by the open fire. Did I mention how horrible it is to live here? And then back home for lunch of more French cheese and bread.

Yes, French cheese and French bread. Did I mention we live not four miles from one of the world's busiest ports, and la Belle France is two hours or less away? No?

My Father-in-Law likes to smoke, and smoking is very expensive here in jollie olde Englands. And so we can go over on a ferry to France and buy cheaper tobacco and bring it back and thus ruin our health.

The Blue House, Adinkerke, Belgique

Although in recent years, France is not that cheap, but if you head through Calais and drive for half an hour up the A16 autoroute just over the Belgian border, there is a village that has a dozen or so shops dedicated to tobacco, booze, chocolate and the such.

So, early this week I got a call, would I like to go over to France on a booze cruise? If nothing else it is a day out, and something to enjoy. And so yesterday morning, just an hour and ten minutes after being picked up outside my door, I was on a ferry, having cat off and heading out of Dover Harbour to France. Of course travelling on the day before Easter it was going to be crowded, but as we had a day ticket, we went to the front of the line and settled down to read whilst the hour and a half of the crossing passed.

Calais does not have the history or setting of Dover. Well, it may have the history, but it is situated on flat lands at the end of some chalk cliffs, but is pretty industrial and charmless. There are nice parts I guess, but for most of us arriving from England we see it as we whizz though on a motorway on our way somewhere else.


We drive through Pas-de-Nord Calais, across flat fields and over canals until we turned off and we driving down alongside another canal. In the not-so-distant past, this was the main road from France to Belgium, when all traffic was taken off a perfectly good four lane road, along here so we could drive past, at a snail's pace, a French customs post, and then re-join the motorway after wasting maybe an hour. The Eurozone has ended this; and should have done duty-free goods, but somehow these shops find a way to sell gaspers and snout to snoutcasts and coughers at cheap rates.

Not that I mind; we all know the risks, if you smoke, roll the dice and hope they don't come up snakes eyes, I guess.

I wander around whilst they buy a few month's supplies, I love the feel of a continental town, the shops, the houses are different. And, as usual, nearly get knocked down whilst trying to cross the road, looking in the wrong direction.

All Tobacco, Adinkerke

All snouted up, we get back in the car and head back to France, to the many warehouses that supply the day-tripper market with cheap beer, wine and spirits. I buy three cases of wine at the rate of £1.60 a bottle, although my Father-in-law's brother tells me that Lidl's in Dover sells pretty much the same at £1.50 a bottle. I also by some beer for me and cider for Jools and that is my lot.

We call in a supermarket before returning to the port and I buy bread, cheese and some chorizo sausage, because it is a fraction of the price back home. The cheese is available, but at four times the cost. Cheese available at those prices back home would be rubber looking bright orange cheese with no flavour. Thing is, the French wouldn't put up with that quality, or lack of it, and quite why we do is beyond me.


We are back on the ferry and back in France soon enough, and dropped off at my door before four in the afternoon and making a nice cuppa before Jools comes home. We have bread and cheese for dinner, and a glass or two of red, which seems the civilised thing to do.