Thursday, 27 May 2010

Thursday 27th May 2010

Thursday; not quite Friday, but better than Wednesday and certainly twice as good as bloody Tuesday. Although is it is dull, grey and drizzling. And as I look outside the office window over the slate grey English Channel, 50 little ships are re-creating the most extraordinary event of the second world war; the Dunkirk Evacuations. A Navy Frigate waits on the horizon to escort them over to France , and a gaggle of TV news crews are on the harbour wall watching them go.

From one generation to another: Thank you.

Last night Jools and I spent the evening in Ramsgate, taking in the atmosphere as hundreds of people milled around taking in the scene as veteran ships of the evacuation lay in the harbour, 40s music blaring out, and some people strolled around in period uniforms, whilst taking pictures with modern cameras. I left work at four, and half an hour later a lone Hurricane fighter flew overhead in large, lazy circles, its engine having that distinctive drone. Most people were unaware that it was coming, but a BBC cameraman had given me the tip off as I watched him film a link by an anchorman on the other side of the harbour. Over the other side of the harbour, dozens of preserved military vehicles lined up, and pretended to set up field kitchens or put of fires with stirrup pumps.

Little Ships

The little ships were all bedecked with bunting and flags, and these struggled in the stiff breeze, a breeze that threatened the mass sailing at seven this morning. Crew drank beers, and sang along to “Hang out the Washing of the Siegfried Line” at the top of their voices.

At seven, we had had enough and we headed home; I stopped off at a curry house in Deal on the way back and picked up Korma for Jools and a Madras for me; the Madras was almost as hot as a Vindaloo, and I think I may still be suffering from that all day today.

A 6 megapixel camera wasn't standard issue in WW2

I did have a sense of humour failure with work yesterday, after six weeks of my mails being ignored, I sent out a mail to everyone I could think of in the country, that unless people under them did start answering my questions, I could not do my work. It may change things, but probably won’t, but it did make me feel better.


At least it’s a bank holiday this weekend, not that we have much planned, but three days of doing as we please will be nice, and maybe sitting in the garden if the weather allows.

Back to work, methinks.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Tuesday 25th May 2010

Tuesday; there’s something about Tuesdays I think. Not quite Monday but certainly not Friday. And, as usual, I am waiting for people to reply to mails, something which I do quite a lot. Pressure comes from my boss about recovering costs, but I can only do that if I get information. My new task is the try to change the company operates in regard to following work instructions, as people seem to want to apply these as and when they see fit, and mistakes happen, and nothing seems to change. So, we’ll see how this tilt at windmills will turn out.

At least summer has gone away and spring returned; the weekend was so hot, with Monday even worse; no air and so, so hot. And having to be at work. I drove home last night with the windows wide open, with the warm dusty air flowing through. It really did feel like the first day of summer. That is until the weather changed in the evening and the fog drifted in, and then it cooled down.

The day did begin with me chasing a stunned mouse through the living room after both cats had had their fun with it; I like to think that it will survive, but I'm not sure. I rescued it from the paws of Little Girl and put it in the hedge out the front of the house. Soon there will be a pile of mice corpses there, as that is where I put all mice I rescue.

I am tempted to head off home early due to a lack of work; my boss, as I said, is expecting me to magic some money from our suppliers and contractors for mistakes, but without knowing the actual costs I can’t do that at all. So, I review other cases, check information to see if I forgot something. Not really earth shattering stuff is it?

The computer system did crash this morning, and I went into Ramsgate to do a couple of chores, and mix with the ‘real’ people, always a fun experience; at least there wasn’t the shouting, swearing chavs of last time, but there is a right mix and no mistake. There are lots of old military types, as this weekend is the 70th anniversary of the Dunkirk evacuation; Operation Dynamo, and another flotilla of little ships will depart Ramsgate on Thursday morning. I think that calls for an early start with my cameras.

Anyway, back to work………

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Sunday 23rd May 2010

And today would have been my Dad's 71st birthday. It's another date that could result in being maudlin, but one that affirms my belief that life goes on.

And so to bring you up to date, Friday morning dawned bright and clear, sadly, I had to go to work, but driving through the streets of Dunkirk, sorry Dunkerque, past the beautiful marina, the railway station and then on to the quay, or mole, where we were working.

As it happens, Friday was a very auspicious day, as the 100th and final tower for the wind farm was put together, and was the cause for much celebration, and we all went out to watch the huge crane lift the top tower section and lower it onto the lower one. The supervisor of the site was allowed to drive the crane, and we all took pictures and applauded as no one got injured.

I had to leave at three, and bid my farewells and set off back down the coast to the tunnel and before that, the land of cheap wine and cheap stinky cheese emporiums. I zoomed down the autoroute, and went into the supermarket, rushed round picked up sa selection of cheeses, some smoked sausage. And then off to the wine warehouse and I picked up nine bottles of burgandy and a box of rose and then down the autoroute agaon, and off into the waiting area for the tunnel.

I waited and then time was called and we all piled into our cars and drove to the border control for France; they waved us through, as usual. And then waited as the British customs checked the details of everyone's passport. And then I was called into the customs and excise area.

I don't think I'm that interesting, but after I answered the questions, why did you go to France, is this a business or pleasure trip? And my answers got him more interested; not that I was suspicious, but he liked, wanted to talk about wind turbines. And then camera, and then onto the white cliffs. And I missed my train. I only had to wait half an hour for the next one, and in all honesty it wasn't that bad.
We were allowed to drive on, and I got out the Mark Kermode book and finished it before we set out for England.

20 minutes or so after driving off the train in England, I was pulling up outside our house, in bright spring sunshine, with a car full of good wine, stinky cheese and fresh bread.
And so, once Jools was back, we went outside with plates laden with bread and cheese and glasses of wine, and sat in the shade of the tree down the bottom of the garden.

Saturday dawned dull and misty; seems like the sea and endless sunshine didn't mix and so created fog. All of east Kent was shrouded in cloud and mist. I had to take the hire car back, and then the day was ours. We went to Preston to go to the butcher we like, and we visited another country church, St Mildred's, and afterwards we went to a garden centre and bought some shrubs and a couple of hot chilli plants.

Back home we had the rest of the bread and more stinky cheese, which was nice, and in the afternoon I opened the first bottle of the home brew we made a few weeks ago, and it was good. The climax of the football season reached another of it's climaxes, with the Championship play off final and later on the Champions League final. Inbetween, I cooked steak for dinner, all in all, not a bad day.

Black bags

And Sunday was glorious. Wall to wall glorious in fact. Blue skies, sunshine, no wind, just a gentle breeze and a Flickrmeet to go to down by the sea at Samphire Hoe. We first went to the cliff edge just a mile from our house to look over to France and along the coast up to Ramsgate. Above us a falcon hovered hunting some prey, and just in the right place for me to snap.
And then on to the meet.

I'm ready for my close up Mr De Mille.

In short, there isn't that much to snap, or maybe there is but as we go there so often, but we walked along with those who had come along, showing them some interesting plants and pointing out where the Dover Colliery used to stand.

Someone mentioned a fine garden nearby, and so we decided to head to Sandling Park where there was the promise of rhododendrons all a riot of colour.

Picea Orientalis

We headed off in the car, not sure of where the Park was, but it was signposted, and we pulled into the car park, in the shadow of a minor country house. We paid our entrance fee and walked through the archway in the garden wall; and then our retinas were burned by the rhododendrons. Each one had colours more vibrant than the previous, it was glorious, and all under a azure blue sky. I snapped away, and we wandered through the bushes and then onto the woods, with each stage a variety of plants.

True Faith

On the way out we had a cup of tea and a nice little scone with jam and cream, it was all very nice.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Friday 21st May 2010

Well, here we are all Frenched up here in France .

It is Friday morning and my time here is short before I begin the short trip home. I have done work since I have been here, which is just as well, as the trip has cost the company some money.

Jools dropped me off on the edge of the white cliffs Wednesday morning on her way to work, I had an hour to kill before the car hire place opened and I could then go and do six or so hours work before heading off to the Channel Tunnel and France.

It was a glorious morning, not a breath of wind and endless sunshine. Ferries shimmered in the distance as they plied their way to and fro, and a large cruise ship made ready to steam to warmer waters, from the dock where I should have been working by now as a baggage handler. But instead I am doing what I do, still not quite sure what it is I do, but I am doing it.

Me and Norbert

I walked down the steep path into Dover , walking under the main road and into the narrow street that nestles between the A20 and the bottom of the cliffs. And then onto the promenade and wandered slowly along, snapping as I went. The car hire place was open when I got there, and after filling in forms I was allowed the car and then head back home to pick up my bags and on to work.

And work, work, work, and then at half two, time to head down to Folkestone and get on a shuttle for France . It is just half an hours drive, and the system recognised me and I went straight into the terminal after confirming details, with just enough time to grab a coffee before it was time to get on the train and settle down for the journey.

And although travelling the 23 miles between Folkestone and Calais under the seabed is a modern miracle, it is amazingly bland and efficient. You just sit there and the train eases away, accelerates and goes in the tunnel; twenty five minutes of darkness outside, and then in the sunshine of France ; into the station, the doors open and you drive off onto the motorway. Simple. As. That.

I drove up the motorway towards Dunkerque, not in a hurry, just making sure I did not make a mistake. I panicked, thinking I should have taken an earlier exit, but held firm that I head to the centre. I only had a downloaded map to the hotel, and hoped that it would all become clear when I headed into the town.
And, it did. The names of the roads matched the map, we crossed over a river, I turned right, up a wide road, turned left and there was the town square,, and on the other side the hotel. I parked on the street, got my bags and walked in, the reservation was there, I got my key and went upto my room, and arranged to meet my boss for dinner by phone, and that was it. Simples.

The view from my hotel room.

We met in the lobby and went into the hotel’s restaurant; it wasn’t bad, just unspectacular, the food choice very limited, and mainly fish based, I had crusty something, which turned out to be cheese on toast, or something like it as a starter, and chicken supreme for main. Inside the restaurant, it was all hushed tones, and all very, well, dull, I guess. I was glad when it ended and I went up to my room.

Thursday was a long day, meetings and talking about procedures, and there is the promise of more today. It’s work, and I am here in France with the chance to go and buy stinky cheese, crusty bread and lovely red wine on the way home, which is always nice.


At lunchtime we went to a large shopping centre to an Italian based chain. It wasn’t bad, I had calzone filled with cheese and veggies. And then back to work and a tour around the site, which is now winding down as we come to the end of the project. The size of these turbines is immense, and at times just shocking, and huge cranes to lift the two tower sections on top of each other, and then they stand nearly 100 metres high, in tow rows. As I type this they are getting ready the 100th and final tower for assembly, a huge achievement, and which has been done efficiently and with the minimum of fuss. Everyone seems so happy and even tempered, although I was assured this was not always the case when they were working at 300mph.


At the end of the day I headed back to the hotel, only to find myself beside the marina and maritime museum. I find a place to park and wander around in the warm sunshine, snapping away and ships and buildings and bridges. There were bars open, but I thought it too early for a beer, and so once I snapped everything, I headed back to the hotel, which I found no problem, and relaxed for a couple of hours. The news washed over me, and when the ‘nice’ news on the One Show began, that was my cue to get out and do something.

Duchesse Anne

I didn’t think I was hungry, but now was, and so I went on a hunt to find a place to eat. I had spied a bar just up the road, on the outside there was a menu promising lots of simple stuff like chicken and steak. I went in and ordered a beer; the owner could speak no English, I could speak little French; he left me to my drinking, which was fine. I had another, and began to feel my head spin. Looking out into the street, I saw a small creparie opposite, and they had a menu outside too. I drank up and walked over, it seemed to be open, but not busy. I went in, and asked in fractured French;






“Sit down”

It was decided I should have a small carafe of red wine and pepper steak; the wine came and I sat at the table in the window and watched the world go by and into the bar I just left. Friends met, kissed, ordered drinks and stood out in the evening sunshine smoking and making small talk. The steak came, not before I drank all my wine, so I ordered another as the meal came. It was good, or at least better than I would have had in the hotel, with the thought of facing chicken supreme giving me a shudder.

Sandettie Light Ship

After coffee, I walk back to the hotel in the gathering gloom of dusk, and back to my room to fall asleep.

Monday, 17 May 2010

Monday 17th May 2010 (part 2)

Inbetween Borough Market and our target lay New London Bridge, the Monument and then the network of mediaeval streets that mark where the City of London begins. Marking the beginning of London Bridge is a huge glass building, called simply No 1 London Bridge, it is a wonderful ix of angles, glass and reflected reflections, and is a photographers delight. I have photographed it on a number of occasions before, but snapped it again as the light was a little different.

Blue Sky Thinking

We barely glanced at the view to Tower Bridge and as the river snaked eastwards towards the sea, and had our eyes fixed on the cluster of office buildings that marked out the City.
Being a Saturday, the City is just about all closed, even big supermarkets don't bother opening on Saturday, and so walking past huge branches of Marks and Spencer on a Saturday morning, and them being shut tight is odd.
We pass by the Monument, a column built to mark the place where the Great Fire of London is rumoured to have begun in 1666, I stop to snap it and to listen to the bells of the church just below it, St Magnus the Martyr ringing away, sounding for all the world like St Pauls.

Leadenhall Market

Up, then, a side alley and we find ourselves approaching Leadenhall Market, a Victorian covered market, now fancy shops and street cafes cluster under it's wrought iron arches. Like the rest of the City, it is closed, but that is fine for photography, the only thing spoiling it are a few parked cars.

Leadenhall Market

On through the market, and towering above us is the modernity that is the Lloyds Building; finished in 1986, it has all it's pipework and gubbins on the outside, and is finished in what looks like burnished steel, and still looks decades ahead of its time. I have snapped it from all angles, even inside, so I get the usual regulation shots and we walk on, up the alley between it and the next door Willis Building, a graceful curve in the latter making a huge mirror in which Lloyds is reflected.

Lloyds Building

And over the road up another narrow street, St Mary Axe, to number 30, but there is no need to know it's address, as the Gherkin, or the Baltin Exchange towers above most buildings, and is unmistakeable in it's shape.

Lloyds and Willis Buildings

With my wide angle lens I get close in and snap, snap away, through it's triangular arches, and up it's graceful lines so that the sky is reflected in it's spiralling triangular windows. It is wonderful, truly.

A coffee shop is open opposite, so we go in for a cup and to pause before deciding where to go next.
We decide soething in the direction of St Pauls and then onto the West End and Soho beyond; it looks a long way on the map, but it's not really. Like we found in Paris, cities are not as big as you think, and so we set out passing tall office blocks, the Royal Exchange, the Bank of England, St Pauls, Fleet Street, the Royal Courts of Justice.

30 St Mary Axe, aka The Gherkin

Phew! We stop for a drink in the pub opposite the High Court, I have a pint of mild, which is not too alcoholic; hence the name. And we decide we're getting tired and maybe tramping the streets is tiring, and maybe we've had enough. Looking at the Tube map, and trying to work out which lines are still working at weekends, I decide our best option is to head to Covent Garden and then on the Tube to St Pancras and our 21st century train home to Kent.

But Covent Garden is not a place to just pass through, especially not on a spring lunchtime, with street performers out in force, and huge crowds trying to find a place to eat of just taking in the sights. Outside pubs, crowds of Portsmouth fans get ready for the cup final by trying to make as much beer as possible disappear, and singing, loudly, and gernerally having fun, whilst a couple try to be meanacing. And a lone policeman tries to ask them to 'keep it down.'

I snap a few street scenes, performers and tourists before we reach the tube and are squeezed into lifts and under the streets we go. Onto the platform and a train arrives and whisks us to the Euston Road and St Pancras.

We wait half an hour until the train arrives and then sink into the chairs and wait for us to fly through dark tunnels, across Essex marshlands, under the Thames and through the rolling Kentish countryside to the coast and home; all at speeds of up to 140 mph. Or not, depends whether you believe the train company's bumf.

Back in Dover we got ready for the final exciting event of a great day, the passing of a steam locomotive, and I wanted to go and photograph it because I could. We met my friend Gary, and instead of going down on the footbridge over the line, we went up to the cliffs high above for grand panoramic shots as she steamed into view.

AIl in a minute of so, she had steamed through, and Jools and I went home for dinner of mozzarella and beefsteak tomato slices a glass of red wine; it was great, and a reminder of our honeymoon in Tuscany.

Monday 17th May 2010 (part 1)

That's one day of the week down already. And there I was battling the forces of incompetence and laziness, and not really winning. But getting things to change is like a game of chess, lay down the traps and wait for the prey to make the mistake. Or am I thinking about spiders? Anyway, in tow days time I will be in La Belle France meeting those I may end up dropping in the kaka, or rather they will drop themselves in it. And already they have.

But more of that another night. The weekend is over, the sun is shining and the garden is growing, growing. We have garlic, sunflowers, tomatoes, beans strawberries, sweet peppers and flowers, flowers everywhere, all growing. And we had fun with our two days off. On Friday we went for cocktails at a local bar, to celebrate the nuptials of one of Jools' bosses. We got a drink out of it, and then went outside to chat with a few of the other wallflowers whilst the bright young things dazzled in the spotlight.

We then went off to a local Indian place for the traditional English dinner of curry, rice and naan bread. And beer. Or I did. It was all very nice, and the restaurant was empty when we walked in, and just four more people joined us, and all in for about twenty knicker; not bad.

Saturday, we were up with the larks, and cats, and out driving down to Dover Priory after picking up Jools' Dad's wife, step-mother-in-law? Anyway, she had never really looked round London, and we offered to take her to a few of our favourite places.

So, we arrived at the station to find that I had messed up the train times, and the high speed service did not run at a quarter to eight, and that we would catch the 'classic' service instead. Quite how much slower it took that the high speed, or how much slower than the same journey had taken back in December before the timetable change. We cruised through the admittedly beautiful Kentish countryside, pausing for what seemed like ages at stations. It seemed to take forever, which was nearer two hours. But, in time, we did arrive at London Bridge and we got off, and London Town was all ours.

The Shard

In truth it is some time since we passed through London Bridge, and beside it Europe's tallest building, The Shard is being built; so we paused whilst I snap it, and then we move on to Borough Market.

Borough Market

Borough Market is claimed to be Britain's leading artisan market, and is full of lovely fruit, veg, meat and fish, and is a riot of smells and is just a pleasure to wander through, sampling what was on offer, and marvelling at the taste. We buy buffalo Mozzarella, Italian tomatoes, spicy smoked sausage and other things so wondrous we spent our wallets empty in a few minutes.

Attack of the killer tomatoes

We stop for a wonderful bacon sandwich and a cup of tea; we sit watching the first of many Portsmouth fans we were to see that day, having a huge fry up washed down with the first beers of the day.

30 St Mary Axe, aka The Gherkin

And then out over New London Bridge, to the City and my location of choice, 30 St Mary Axe, of as it's better known, The Gherkin.

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Friday 14th May 2010

And now begins the long dark afternoon as the second hand slowly, ticks the years down until it is time to yabba dabba do all the way home.

All in all it has been a productive week, every now and again I bang my head against various walls that are put up in front of me, sometimes I know them down, sometimes I don’t. Just looking forward to two days off and not thinking about all this stuff; that I dream about doing my job most nights now is the usual thing for me I guess. Given that I still dream that I am working back in the chicken factory, and I have not worked there for nearly 20 years.

Last night we went out for a drive after Jools had fetched Chinese. It was nice, although guessing what kind of meat was in with the beansprouts was one thing. All mixed in together it was fine, doubly so if covered with sweet and sour sauce, which is syrup, really. We drove out from St Margaret’s and north to Ramsgate and then over to Broadstairs to Joss Bay where we looked upon the wonder that is the windfarm in all it’s glory. We got there just as the sun was setting, and the air was clear and it felt like we could see for forever. We took some pictures and then drove back. Not all that exciting, but to see the golden light of a late spring evening was wonderful.

On the way to work this morning, I stopped beside a field of oilseed rape to snap Ripple windmill up on the hill beyond. The sun shone upon it against a clear blue sky; it looked wonderful, and we live less than five miles from here; how did I ever get so lucky?

For those that follow these things, we have a new government, Dave and Nick, who are firm friends, and have fixed grins and smiles on their faces, who are always agreeing about things for now. Of course, that may change in the months and years to come, but for now the conlibdem pact is in full force. In a few weeks we will know, after they conduct a spending review, how deep a hole the country is; what is clear is that taxes will rise and the pain will be country-wide.
But, that is in the future, and for now the Dave-Nick love continues.

And for us the weekend stretches out like a stretchy thing, with the promise of cocktails tonight to celebrate someone at the box factory’s nuptials; London tomorrow and two steam locomotives passing through Dover as well. Photographs ahoy methinks.

Have fun.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Wednesday 12th May 2010

And so we pass over the hump that is the middle of the week and speed ever downwards towards Friday afternoon and two days of stuff not connected in any way with work. Hopefully. Before the fun of the weekend, I have my first videoconference to take part in, as I learn more than I dreamt about of the accounting and finance system here. I guess what it does do is make me more valuable, and less likely to be shown the door, which is what I want. It’s what we all want, really.
So far this week, the wind has blown from the north, which makes the sea just too rough for work to take place out on the wind farm, and so it’s a chance for us to catch up on work and see if there is any problems from the past few months we may have missed. Of course, there is.

As the football season refuses to die, each night has more games for the armchair fan to wallow in, with emotions ever greater with each stage, the joy boundless and the pain bottomless. At the moment it’s the last place in the Premier League up for grabs, and the joy of the tangerine clad army from Blackpool was wondrous to see, as was the pain of the Nottingham Forest supporters as once again their team fail at the penultimate hurdle.

The weekend is the FA cup final, which throws up ever more starkly, the difference between the haves and the have-nots, as Chelsea take on the almost bankrupt Portsmouth . Pompy have no one to blame for their plight, except themselves and the rank awful running of the club in recent years, and the over-spending on players and wages. As for Chelsea , their multi-billionaire owner is expected to pump tens of millions into the chase to become European Champions, whilst the rest of football bankrupt themselves to play catch up; it’s all crazy.

And so we will go to London for the day, and I will miss the game, willingly. Once the cup final was THE game of the season; now it’s just another game for the big boys to fight over, and in the end they really don’t care too much about the history.

Viva le change!

Monday, 10 May 2010

Monday 10th May 2010

During the US election a couple of years back, The Daily Show called the process Indecision 2008. How else to describe what we, the British People, have gone through. The campaign was not as long for sure, but the result is still unclear, some three days after the final results were counted and released. Talks are ongoing, and stories, ever more bizarre grace the front pages of our daily newspapers, most of which choosing to ingnore the facts. But since when has that stopped a good story. The one I’m referring to is todays Sun which claims the PM is squatting in Downing Street , when the constitution states quite clearly he cannot leave until the next mug has been decided. And so the PM is not squatting or refusing to go, just doing his duty.

Good old The Sun, or should that be Rupert Murdoch, as he owns the bloody rag?

Anyway, enough of that, something will be sorted out in time. The football season finished. Or it hasn’t, depends on the definition of the football seasn and what constitutes finishing. The regular season games in the Premier and Football Leagues have certainly finished, but there are play off games in the three divisions of the Football League, the FA Cup Final, the Europa League Final, The Champions League Final, and there must be other games as well. And in a month or so the World Cup begins; more football. It all gets too much sometimes.

And as the weather was bad on Saturday, after our breakfast on Deal Pier and a bit of shopping, mainly for olive bread and stinky French cheese from our favourite shop, we came home and I sat down for another afternoon of football on TV and the radio. In the evening we watched a documentary on the raid on the Tirpitz by British sailors in mini submarines, and although it was a great show, and highlighted the bravery of those who took part, what shocked me is that the commanding officers were the only ones who were awarded VCs, yet all four crewmen doing the derring do. It’s the military way, I guess.

Sunday was at least dry, and there was a Flickrmeet at Dungeness; one part was due to begin in the dark just before dawn, meeting at four AM; we toyed with the idea of going, but ended up staying in bed and watching the morning light seep through our curtains from under the covers. So, at nine we headed out along the coast and along to the twin nuclear power station at Dungeness. They tower over the small village which is made of wooden huts and building apparently made from driftwood and the such, all built right on the shingle beach with gardens made from more flotsam and bright stones. It’s better than I paint if, for sure.

Dungeness Flickrmeet; 9th May 2010

About half a dozen people had come down from Tunbridge Wells, and it was good to meet some new people, who if anything, we even more keen than I was, because two were there from before four in the morning, and still there when we left. Three hours was enough for us, but then we had been here before. We met in the station café, as the narrow gauge Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway terminates there, and so lots of tiny trains to photograph, and there was a Second World War weekend to coincide with the anniversary of VE Day.

All I wanted was to drive a steam train, and all they gave me was a 9mm sub-machine gun. Wait a minute, I've got an idea.....

I went to photograph the older of the two lighthouses, only for the door to open and a woman asked if I wanted to go up as it was about to open, all for the sum of £3. So, I took more pictures of curving spiral staircases, as it wound its way up the ever-narrowing tower and out onto the level of the light. Grand views over the marsh could be seen, and the steam train down below looked even more like a toy.

#8 Hurricane

The rest of the morning was taken with wandering around the rusting remains of the fishing fleet, the equipment of which is slowly rusting, and boats are reduced to skeletons, with paint and varnish peeling off. You’ll have to take my word that it makes for good photography, but it does. At midday, into the pub, which was rapidly filling up for a quick drink, before heading off back home to prepare lunch; or dinner which it was to become.

Kingdom of rust

And in the evening, after roast chicken, we settled down to watch The Time-Traveller’s Wife, which was much better than I thought, which dealt with the paradoxes by just ignoring them, so the time traveller could meet himself and interact. Made for a good story, though.

And with the end of the film, came the end of the weekend too. Over all too quickly. As usual.

Friday, 7 May 2010

Saturday 8th May 2010

06:50 hours; it's a day off and we're up and drinking the first cuppa of the day. The cats are fed, the bed made, and soon we will be heading out into the grey and drizzle of a Saturday morning.

But it is the weekend, no work, just stuff for us to do.

Even better for Jools, she has a week off, and I will be back at work on Monday morning. Oh well.

I got let out from work at two yesterday, which was great. It was windy, as it had been for two days and so there was no work on the wind farm, and there were very few of us in, and my boss said, let's go home. Who was I to argue? I have achieved some thing this week, and my standing has gone up, and so I thought, yes, go home, mow the lawn, and get dinner ready. Which is what I did; I had enough time to go into Dover to go to the pet shop to get more wild bird seed, come home, have a cup of tea and then go outside to mow the lawn, water the plants, and then get dinner ready.

Dull stuff for sure, but it's our life, and means there is less things to do over the weekend, and more time to go fun stuff.

Which today is to go to Deal to have breakfast on the pier, some shopping, and then, maybe a quiet day watching the rain fall. Which sounds just fine. It is also the final weekend of the football season, Norwich play their final game too, and already plans are afoot for the new season which starts in August. Before then there is the small matter of the World Cup; so very little break from football this year, and with me having evenings off, I will see most games.


Thursday, 6 May 2010

Thursday 6th May 2010

Voting day, or at least it is here in Britain. I found myself standing there looking at the list of candidates and wondering even with over half a dozen choices, there was not one worth voting for. We have not followed the election closely; we have listened to the occasional news broadcast, but avoided the debates, if debates is what they were. On the way to work the next day, i heard the arguments for and against each leader. I know that i would vote for policies rather than the ability to perform with glib answers and sound bites on tv three times.
And this is what democracy has become in our country; a choice of no real choices; parties so similar that they could all change rosettes and we wouldn't know the difference.
On the way back from voting, we called in one of the village's four pubs for a drink and to people watch. Always fun. and then back home to get ready for bed and be ready for another day at the coalface.
At least out the back windows, the setting sun lit up the blooming rapeseed field so it looked like a sea of lemon. Half the country looks the same bright yellow, not a bad sight, as long as you don't suffer from hay fever of course.

Work carries on the same way, one step forward and two back. I feel I'm drowning most of the time, with the occasional period where I just think i have a handle on things.

After work yesterday, we had to go to Canterbury to drop our car into the garage as an injector went. Again. And so after fighting our ways through traffic from opposite directions, we meet at the dealer and hand the keys before driving near one of the city gates and going into a cafe for dinner. Cafe Belge is great, nice food and great Trappist beers.
I had seafood chowder, which was fine until I fished out a baby octopus with my spoon. Maybe it was an elaborately cut spring onion i thought and ate it. Didn't taste like an onion. A second and third revealed tiny suckers on tiny tentacles. I lost my appetite.
We drove back home in bright spring sunshine along a near empty road to be welcomed by two happy cats.


Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Tuesday 4th May 2010

And so another passes by in which it feels like I am drowning. And after feeling so positive last week. Well, the truth is that in asking a simple question, I opened a Pandora’s Box of other questions which went up and down the management chain. But, it should all be sorted out in the morning, or so I’m promised, which is the best I can hope with.

All the while, outside the sun shines down from a clear blue sky; perfect for photography, of course. I know that I am least earning money, and once this stuff is sorted out, might be able to make a contribution. I am still sorting through a mountain of paperwork which has built up and been forgotten about. So, I send mails asking questions about problems that have been long since sorted out, but no records exist as to whether they were done, or how much it cost.

Other than that, life is fine, Molly brought in a rat last night. A baby rat really, and was throwing it around under the table last night; her exuberance gave her away and raised our suspicions. That and the other cat that came through the cat flap just before bedtime, and was met with hissing and spitting from Molly which meant shutting the flap lest the other cat come in and mark territory, which we think has been happening.

So, an hour until time to go home; not that I am counting or anything: but that’s the best time of the day, of course.

Today marks a year since I came home from my last trip away, To Kazakhstan, and a week later UTEC went bust dumping me on the dole and our world changing forever. We hope that although we have not struggled this past year, it wasn’t as easy as we would have hoped, but I have spent much more time at home than I otherwise would have, and making life fuller, if not richer.

And there is other stuff, heavy family stuff which never gets resolved or goes away. Sometimes we just have to let it go, say our stuff and move on.

life is too precious to while away waiting for change we know will never come......

Monday, 3 May 2010

monday 3rd May 2010

first of all, let me explain that the left shift key is malfunctioning at the moment, and so sometimes there are capital letters, sometimes not.

It's not my bad typing.


And so, bank holiday monday. May day. rain and sunny intervals. a walk in the woods. a trip to the diy shop. and more harry Potter. Film four in the series, Harry Potter and the strange urges.

The rain did fall from the sky this morning, and so any plans to go any distance was put on hold. or the truth is that i lazed in bed until gone eight, and then had breakfast, messed around online and then we couldn't decide what to do.

so, we went to visit jools's family. which is my family too; anyway, the dutiful stuff out of the way, we headed to waldershare, which is a village nearby, for a walk in the woods.

springtime means the wild garlic is in bloom. Or should have been, it's a couple of weeks late this year, but the wood was full of the smell of garlic, and walking through it, released more pungent smell. i bent down and took a leaf and had a nibble. wonderful fresh garlic, and strong enough for it to last all afternoon. and scattered through the garlic was bluebells, contrasting with the white blooms just coming out of the garlic.

and time to go to B&Q for some canes for our beans which are sprouting in pots out in the back garden.

and so back home for early dinner of kiev with lots of salad, and then settle down for Harry Potter.

And back to work on the morrow.

Such is life.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Sunday 2nd May 2010

The rain falls down on a hum drum town, this town can drag you down.

Or so sang a morose Mancunian a few years back. And after apparently weeks of fine sunny weather, the bank holiday comes round and the rain clouds come and from the heavens the rain does pour. Well, for today at least. And maybe for tomorrow too, although not as much, so the rumour goes.

The last two days of the week passed with me getting more of a handle on the job. I made one mistake, but will put that right come next week. everyone seems fine with the work I have done, and with what I have put in so far. Putting the information in a way that I can access it and understand it. It requires some fine tuning for now, but I get a little better each day.

Thursday night was the quarterly picture competition at the camera club, and the judge was harsh to say the least. Which is better, really, better than everyone getting nearly top marks. He marked down my shots for having too much going on in them, I know that photography is subjective and as long as I like what I snap that's what counts. So, on the whole I'm not bitter about it; I did laugh out loud towards the end after he waxed lyrical about a shot only to mark it down when push came to shove. Oh well. Some members were taking it all too seriously to be honest, but there you go.

Yesterday, even though the weather forecast was not promising, we thought we would go out anyway and take what we could get, because Sunday and Monday were/are to be wet and windy.

Sissinghurst Castle is over an hour away, near the border with East Sussex, and is a medieval manor house with fine walled gardens. Being spring, the flowers should have been a riot, which they were.

It was a fine drive, once off the motorway and driving through the rolling fields and woods. The sun came out and cast a golden light on the scene. We arrived at the castle at the time the website said it was due to open, only for it to have been open for an hour already; so my plans to have people free shots seemed ill starred.

Sissinghurst Castle

It was mid morning, and we decided to have lunch first; Jools had something called doused herring with a wholewheat roll and a bottle of organic cider, whilst I had coronation chicken salad, a wholewheat roll and a pint of real ale. We sat outside and ate, feeding the finches with scraps of bread; even the light drizzle did not stop us enjoying ourselves.

Sissinghurst Castle

We walked to the entrance and through the archway in the house, and before us was an ornamental tower set behind a bowling green of a lawn. There were few people so I started snapping away. We walked to the tower and sup the wooden spiral staircase, and were rewarded with views down to the lawn below, and on the other side grand views over the orchards, moat and walled gardens.

Even though the car park had been full, the gardens were big enough so not to seem crowded, and we both made play with our cameras and snapped tulips and a multitude of other spring flowers all a riot of colour.

Black tulips.

I won't go on describing the colours, variety, etc, but just to let you know it was very fine indeed, even if I did spend the whole time with my eye looking through a viewfinder.

Back in the car we got the atlas out and wondered where to go next. My eye came to rest of Bexhill-on-Sea; home to an art deco masterpiece called the De Warr Pavilion. I thought that my wide angle lens would just eat the curves up on the spiral staircase that wound up the glazed tower. I would be proved right in that!

On the way down to the coast we stopped and picked up three hitch-hikers, on their way to a folk festival in Hastings; we decided to drop them off on the seafront on the way. They were fine people, living what could be described as an alternative lifestyle, at least at the weekends; sleeping on beaches, meeting musicians and mummers and Morris Dancer all over the south-east each weekend.

De Warr Pavilion, Bexhill-on-Sea

So, after dropping the off on Hastings seafront, we drive a few miles west to Bexhill and find the last parking space along the prom, walk along the path through the bright spring flower beds and along to the pavilion.

Words really don't do justice to the classic lines and shapes of an art deco building, all graceful lines, with fine views over the stony beach to the sea beyond. There were few people around, so I grab shot after shot, moving up the the first and then the second floor, the shots getting better and better.

De Warr Pavilion, Bexhill-on-Sea

We go into an Italian cafe to have a coffee and a slice of cheesecake before heading off back home, with the radio on burbling out news of the penultimate Saturday of the football season. My team are already promoted and champions, and so I can listen with detached amusement at the trials of others.

And then we were home, with stinky French cheese and crusty bread for dinner, and then we settle down to watch the second Harry Potter film, as we try to catch up on the story arc of the series.