Thursday, 30 September 2010

Thursday 30th September 2010

A week ago, the windfarm project I have been working on was officially opened. It was in all the papers. No really, it was in ALL the papers, and on every TV channel. The biggest offshore windfarm in the world; 100 3MW 90m high turbines were declared operational and the project open.

The MPI Resolution

And seeing what I have been working on, on the news was very satisfying indeed. When we leave Dover and head home on the Deal road, a vista opens up and we can see all along the coast to Ramsgate some 10 miles or so away. And beyond Ramsgate, if the light is right and the air clear, we can see the windfarm. In fact it was just about Christmas last year when it became clear to us that something was going on off Ramsgate, we could see somethings being built in the sea. We don’t get Kentish newspapers, and rarely watch local TV; so we were unaware of the Thanet project being built; or even planned.

Ramsgate wind farm

At the end of January, I was employed for a week to do some survey work on the project, and I got to go out to the windfarm about four times, and during breaks in work got to take some snaps of the towers and the ship that installs them. Seeing the towers up close is impressive, even if at that point they were not turning, but still; my final view of the farm was as we finished the job and we headed back into port at dusk, and the towers were silhouetted against a red sky.

The six-legged groove machine

Months passed and nothing more; we could see the windfarm being built, and sometimes I went to Ramsgate to snap the barge used to take the transition pieces, or the transition pieces themselves after they had been delivered from Holland . And then I saw a job advertised; I thought I could do that. I called the agency, told them I could do the job because of my experience, they thought I could do the job. They called the construction company. They also thought I could do the job; we arranged an interview. I did well in the interview, and said the right things and they seemed pleased.
Turns out they decided not to interview anyone else and the enxt day offered me the job! But, only for as long as the project lasted, maybe until the end of the summer.


So, I started, and after being given a computer, a half morning presentation, I was pretty much left to it. Now, the question is, what is it you do at work, Ian? And I would say, that is a very good question; but it did take me a couple a months to work out exactly what it was I did or was supposed to do. It is my job to look at quality; quality of items and processes of the turbines, and where appropriate raise an NCR form; and once again, where appropriate, try to recover costs if it can be proven that the costs are justified and can be claimed back.

And so the e mail ping pong began. Asking questions; gathering knowledge; and making a pest of myself. But at some point in July, it began to make sense, and I learned to use the rules that had been quoted to me against them. That ‘them’ are other parts of the same company I work for, and they drag their heels and refuse to play ball and there is no real appeals procedure. Well, I did get things done, and in quite a big way. Changes in the way the company worked, and dealt with other parts of the company were adopted by one part. And then we could use that to coerce other parts into doing the same thing. And then the money started coming in; which is how I am judged on how well I am doing my job.

In the back of my mind was the thought that at some point at the end of August or September, the job would just cease to exist, and I would be on the dole once more. So I started to apply for jobs in other parts of the company, but unbeknown to me, by boss was getting twitchy, and he had a plan.

I was asked to go into the conference room one day, and he offered me a permanent job; right out. There were some issues to iron out, which I think we have done, but the upshot is, that today the 30th September is my final day as an agency worker, and tomorrow I come in as normal but now as a salaried permanent employee.

I should be on Thanet maybe for another month or so, but beyond that there is a world of possibilities; this time next year we should be into pre-assembly on a new project in Belgium , or somewhere close, and I will be doing this job, maybe training someone to work under me!

So, this is a good day, it really is. We are able to plan to get the roof on the house fixed before the autumn storms begin, get a load of wood for the burner, and be generally happy with the way life pans out; especially as the economic outlook in olde Englande looks bleak. To be working in a growth industry is a great thing, and for now, we are happy and secure.

Thank you for listening.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Tuesday 28th September 2010

And Sunday the rain did fall.

However, we did get the cats back. All four of them.

We drove out to Denton and they were all making a great noise. well, except the kittens; who were rolling around, chasing each other and generally being kittens. We put them in the three boxes; the kittens in one together. and so began the short drive hoe. Just as we got back into the village, we noticed the smell. And then it got stronger. And stronger. Quite clearly, one of the cats could not have held on. Turns out we were wrong, two cats, or kittens, could not hold on. And for two cute kitties, they made a bad, bad smell.

And so, after letting the four cats out, Jools and I cleared up; OK, Jools cleared up, and the cats made themselves at home; in the kittens case. The cats made themselves scarce and vamooshed.

And then came the rain. Outside. As we were pooped, we were not planning on going anywhere, and so we stayed inside and watched the rain come down.

In the evening, our two fiends, Matt and Dadi came for dinner, and for Matt to try the porter ale we had brewed. we talked and ate and supped beer. and then it was time for them to go, and time for us to get ready for bed.

And so the week's holiday had come to an end.

And Monday morning, the alarm went off at six, and we laid for a while before beginning the working week once more. Although a week off is always good, us office workers go back to a jam-packed in box on Outlook, and so we have to plough through the junk to get the gems of information and work out what the double-speak means.

Scully's new Nest.

On the plus side, my contract has arrived, and I have signed it and sent it back. Quite what happens at the end of this week is still unclear, but it seems I will be working out of Ramsgate maybe for another month.

But, things change, and onwards an upwards. Lets see where this ride takes us!

Monday, 27 September 2010

Monday 27th September 2010 (part 2)

So, we raised ourselves from the soft seats and walked back out into the city and wandered the cobbled streets, heading south from the Minster, and then east towards to narrowest, most famous street; Shambles.

Shambles is where all the butchers shops in the city were, but now as the timber framed houses on either side of the narrow alley reach over, nearly touching; their ground floors are all now tourist shops; sweet shops and the such. And then there are the crowds: oh my life. we battled against the pastel-wearing folk of a certain age. We wander away from Shambles and find a narrow alley way which goes under another timber-framed house. On either side wonderful cooking smells came out of their kitchens. We chose one of them and went inside and found a table on the first floor. The roof had been replaced by glass, and there was just enough room for three tables.


We ordered a platter to share, and a nice drink. and settled down to wait for our food and look at the photographs we had already taken.

There was a food festival on, but we were not hungry, but took in the fine smells. I got a new mobile phone as the screen on my old one is almost unreadable now. And then I spy a fine looking 50mm lens for my camera, and we end up getting it. It is perfect for low-light photography.
We celebrate by going to a coffee shop for a huge mug of Java and a scone.

We head back to the hotel, calling in at a fine looking pub near the bridge over the river, as the night before I had seen several kegs of Black Sheep ale being unloaded. The beer was every bit as good as I anticipated,and the pub itself was full of character and characters!

The Golden Hour at York Minster

After a shower in the hotel, we headed back out into the narrow streets to snap the city in the golden light of an autumnal evening. The Minster looked like it was made of gold, and we were among only a few people marvelling at the sight.
Time for another pint of porter in the Three Legged Mare before we tried to decide where to eat.
We chose a fine looking Italian place, housed in the old girl's school and had great pasta, sparking wine all whilst watching the frenzy of movement as the staff served everyone with tasty looking food.

Can we have chips, Dad?

As we walked back, I snapped away at the scenes of the night in the city; families pondering whether to go into a chippy, groups of lads between bars and people like us, enjoying the crisp night. And the temperature low enough to make us believe it was autumn after all.


I awoke at five Sunday morning, and waited for the light of dawn to show at the window. I dressed quietly and headed back out into the almost frosty morning and walked once again back into the city, snapping as I went. The only folks around were those setting up market stalls, and those delivering milk to Starbucks.

The Shambles, York: 06:30 Saturday morning

Down Shambles, there was hardly any people, and I got shots with no people in the at all. How wonderful! Back then to the hotel via a coffee shop for a huge gingerbread latte, and then back in the hotel, just in time for breakfast.

And then it was time to check out, not before looking at the hidden chapel in the convent and snapping it too. and then it was time to go. We find a left luggage place on the station, and then go back outside to queue for a tourist bus. A guided tour around a city is a great way to discover interesting places; sadly for us then to leave it to the final morning of our trip, and then too late to check out the city wall bailey, and church after church after castle and the other wonderful things that was pointed out to us all.

And then back to the station, time for a coffee and another pasty, collect the luggage and wait for our train to arrive. We had decided to upgrade to first class for the trip back, and it was a good choice; we were plied with fresh coffee and chocolates, and once again the countryside flew by.

Monday 27th September 2010 (part 1)

Good evening, and welcome to the house of cats.

Well, Wednesday and once we got back from York on Saturday until Sunday morning, and we could pick up the critters from the cattery; we were cat-less. How odd it seemed not having the kittens racing around, tumbling, fighting and chasing.

We lay in bed quite late; until nearly seven on Thursday morning and then did our hobbies whilst eating breakfast; photography stuff for me and some beading for Jools. Before we got down to the business of packing and getting ready to go.

Once at the station we got coffees and waited for the train to arrive. And then settled down at a table with four seats to ourselves. I looked out the window and Jools did more beading.

We arrived in London with 40 minutes until our train north was due to leave. And thanks to our trains going into St Pancras now, it was just a short walk out of the station, over the road and into Kings Cross next door and wait to see which platform our train would leave from. There was time for Jools to get a pasty for us both, and then onto the train to our seats in coach F and settle down and wait for the journey north to begin.
On time the train roared into life, and we headed out through Victorian tunnels into the north London suburbs, and then into the lush countryside. Through Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Lincolnshire and eventually into Yorkshire.

York Station

Town after town rushed past, mostly too quick to see where were passing through. I did recognise Newark, as I had stood on that platform many times during my early RAF days. But we flashed through at over 100 mph.

We arrived in York at about three, under the sweeping curves of the Victorian trains-shed. We had decided to visit the National Railway Museum first, and so going in the opposite direction to most of the crowds, we headed over the footbridge towards the museum.
Needless to say, I loved the museum; it is about the 5th I have visited there over the years. All periods of railway history are represented with horse drawn trucks, steam, diesel and electric locomotives on display; along with all manner of paraphernalia and stuff; all very interesting for me.

The Duchess of Hamilton

We had gone to see the Duchess of Hamilton, a steam locomotive now restored to her pre-war glory; all stream-lined and maroon painted looking wonderful. No one has seen a locomotive like this since before the second world war, as the streamlining had been stripped off by then.

We walked around, looking and me snapping the exhibits; it was all rather wonderful. But soon it was time to head out and find where we were staying. It was called The Bar Convent; and it still is a convent, but some of the building is now a hotel. And it is also rather wonderful.
It was just a five minute walk from the museum, and checking in was simple, and we were shown to our room, on the top floor, right next to the large clock on the buildings classical frontage.

We had a cup of tea, and then headed out into the city before the light failed. Soon enough we ended up in the shadow of the Minster; Europe's second largest Gothic cathedral, the light was flat, but still the building was impressive; towering over us and the cobbled mediaeval streets all lined with timber-framed houses turned into shops.

As darkness fell, thoughts turned to food, and we found a nice looking Chinese place near the hotel. Once inside we found it was a large place, and filled with Oriental families all being sociable and enjoying the food.
We ordered a banquet for two,and waited for the course to arrive; and in the meantime did a lot of people watching. The food was wonderful, four course, but wonderfully cooked food, crisp vegetables.

And then our eyes began to sag, and so we headed back to the hotel and our bed. We fell asleep with the sounds of the city in our ears.

We woke up the next morning to the sound of rain. we got ready and went down for breakfast; fresh fruit, toast and tea. And then onto the city streets; over the river and back to the Minster. We had decided to gird our loins and climb up the tower for fine views over the city; and photographic opportunities!

York MInster

Inside, the minster is huge, I mean really big. It seems more than twice the size of Canterbury, and the roof seemed to be miles above us. We both wandered around, photographing the building from all angles. Until it was time to join the queue to climb the tower.

York Minster

Now,I thought it would be popular, but in the end there was only about a dozen of us. There were several health warnings as to how strenuous the climb was, and it was our choice to go. And then it was time to climb. 250 steps.

It wasn't too bad; although the final few twists of the spiral staircase were a challenge, and our thighs were screaming. But, we did it, and were rewarded, once we got our breath back, with fine views all over the city and beyond to the Vale of York.
Soon it was time to go back down; round and round and round and down we went. Halfway down we got views along the roof as we made our way along a narrow path.And then down and down and round again.

York Minster

Once down we sat in one of the pews to recover. And then made our way outside down one of the narrow cobbled streets to a nice looking pub. Te Three Legged mare sold nine different real ales, and was very welcoming. we sat down and nibbled on peanuts whilst sipping our drinks, Pleased at what we had achieved so far that day.

The Three Legged Mare, York

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Thursday 23rd September 2010

Holidays are better than working1 That is my opinion, after several days spent watching kittens playing, walking through the country, making cider, jam, and all the other stuff we do rather than work, work, work.

The simple things in life, like walking to the end of our street, and onto the rough track and into open countryside, the hedges on both sides laden with blackberries, sloes and rosehips.

We have enough autumn fruit for now, and so we walk just for the pleasure of it, along the ever-changing lanes past fields that a few weeks ago were full of rope wheat, now are ploughed and ready for the next season's crop.

Ladybird for lunch

That was Tuesday; a glorious late summer's day, the sun shone out of a clear blue sky, and the temperature climbed and the wind gently blew; warm.

By turns we reached the cliff edge, and the sea was still, with the usual ferries and distant container ships moving. Others were walking along the cliffs, and the smell of cooking drifted through the air from bluebirds.

King's Wood, Challock: Amanita Muscaria

we walked home, back to the house of four cats. Not that they are all happy. If I didn't know better I would say our resident cats were sulking, and the hissing and sulking making them seem ever more like truculent teenagers. The kittens really don't mind; they play, they fight, they eat and then sleep. Bless.

King's Wood, Challock: Amanita Muscaria

In preparation for our trip to York, we took all the cats to the cattery yesterday; more hissing and spitting, from them all! And then on to pick our friend Gary up, and on to King's Wood near Ashford, to photograph some fungi and walk in the woods, as it was another warm, sunny late summer/early autumn day.

We found plenty of fungi, erupting through the leaf litter on the forest floor,and photographed them good. and then it was time to head back to Dover, as it was Nan's 96th birthday, and we were taking her out to lunch.


Out, back into the country, this time north towards Sandwich, and then over the marshes surrounding the Stour, through Preston and onto Grove Ferry, where the Inn serves fine food all day. The sun had become a little watery,but it was still a fine afternoon. And there was plenty of space inside, although the service a little slow. But in truth we were in no hurry, and so we talked whilst we waited for the food to arrive, and did some people watching. One couple seemed to be an office affair, as a darkly tanned man in an open top BMW met a smartly dressed woman, and they went out onto the patio for a chat, a drink and a smoke.

The Grove Ferry Inn.

And so now, we're off to York. Our train leaves just before 11; we head up to St Pancras and then walk over the road to Kings Cross, and then up the East Coast Main Line, through Peterborough, Newark and Doncaster and then to York. we are staying in a convent! Or a former convent; we promise to be good!

Monday, 20 September 2010

Monday 20th September 2010

Or this time with kittens!

You'll see why soon enough.

There really is nothing like the feeling when you walk out of the office at the beginning of a week off. Even better when you are, in effect, you're own boss and so once the clock reached quarter past one, i had all my tasks finished, I sent myself home.

I drove out to Preston, to the butcher to get some stuff for the weekend; some rib-eyes, some venison and apricot yummy sausages, smoked bacon, pork loin wrapped in smoked bacon and stuffed with apricots and pork pies. Huge pork pies.

And then home, listening to Mayo and Kermode on the radio talking about films in front of a live audience in Newcastle. As ever, it was great fun and passed away a fine afternoon. I mowed the lawn; all exciting stuff, but that meant I could sit on one of the chairs outside sipping home-brew in the warm sunshine.

And so to Saturday; and we were up with the larks. No, before the larks, making sandwiches and cutting pork pies, as we were off to London town, to see some buildings. Inside some buildings, to take pictures and have our awe inspired.

We got the quarter to seven train out of Dover, and even had tome to grab a coffee from the station, along with a cheese scone; and as the sun rose above the channel, we slid on our way to Folkestone, Ashford and beyond, dunking scones in out coffee and marvelling at how lucky we were.

The Easterling, Pudding Mill Lane 18th September 2010

We got out at Stratford, because in a while there was to be a steam engine go through. and so we took the short ride down to Pudding Mill Lane, where there is a clear view of the line. And as time passed a few more men of a certain age arrived, laden with cameras, all of us waiting for the steam train. Just before ten to ten, it passed, roaring its way to East Anglia, where it would break down in Norwich, and have to be dragged back.

As it passed, a London-bound train pulled in, and we climbed on board, and made our way to Tower gateway, opposite the Tower of London and Tower Bridge. And it was to the bridge we walked, so to cross the river and then on to City Hall.

City Hall is a oval-ish building, with a huge atrium filling most of its space, with floors of offices around the side. and all the way down the atrium is a spiralling staircase that just looks wonderful. To our surprise, there was no queue, and after the security checks we walked in and rode in the lifts to the top floor.

Open House London 2010: The GLA building, Southwark.

There is a large space there, with fine views from HMS Belfast to away towards docklands in the east, with a stunning view of Tower Bridge and the Tower of London just below.

Then we went through the double doors and headed down the staircase; the views were amazing, and just got better. My wide angle lens ate it all up, and I took many, many shots so sure not to miss anything. At every floor a little more of the view opened up, with in front of us, a wonderful view over the river to the Tower. It was breathtaking.

Open House London 2010

Once at the bottom, I got some shots looking up and of the council chamber, before we went outside. Jools bought a couple of coffees and we shared a pork pie and a couple of sandwiches sitting on the grass looking out to Tower Bridge. There are worse places to have a picnic.

Power Windows

we walked beside the river a while; past new condos with bars and restaurants in their ground floors. we stopped for a pint at a pub overlooking the river, before moving on.

Down Southwark Road is a large building, The Blue Fin, full of offices and another huge atrium. We went inside and rode the lift to the top floor; walked through a very nice looking place to eat and onto a roof garden, 13 floors up with view over the Tate Modern Building to the City beyond to the north, and south all the way down to Crystal palace and beyond.

Tate Modern from the Blue Fin Building

Inside we walked through a number of grand meeting rooms, each with power windows with views the same as from the garden. And all this for a company that prints magazines. It must pay well.

Introducing: Mulder

we went down, and then to the Stand to look for a camera shop to see about a replacement lens; but we really could find nothing better, for a reasonable price, than we have already. and so, my feet were aching, and Jools I know was tired; so we made our way to St Pancras, and walked on our train and slumped in the seats before being whisked back to deepest Kent and home.

Introducing: Scully

Sunday, we went to pick up two kittens; both eight weeks old, brother and sister. She is black with white flashes on her chest and feet, and he is all black. And so we took them home and watched what would happen with four felines in the house.

Take me to the kittens#1: Mulder

What happened was they found a nook in the sofa, and apart from coming out for a bite to eat, stayed there for nearly 24 hours. But since getting up this morning, they have been tumbling, rolling, pouncing, chasing, doing kitten-like stuff. It's been magical.

Take me to the kittens#2: Scully

Not that our two cats think the same; there has been hissing and spitting; much more to run on this story.

Today is a day for chores; cooking, jam-making and in a while will make our Christmas Cake. and tomorrow, when the sun will shine, we shall go to King's wood for a walk, pick some chestnuts to roast and generally do non-work related stuff.

Friday, 17 September 2010

Friday 17th September 2010

And so, it is Friday afternoon. Work is trailing off as those in Denmark begin another long weekend, and my thoughts turn to sloping off early too. And to make matters even better, it is my first week off since I started this job way back in April, and I am ready for a break. Not that it is high pressure or anything, but I have been banging my head on numerous brick walls, playing e mail tennis with people all over Denmark, and even with success, it does get very boring quite quickly.

Javelin at Minster

Apart from work and football, not much happened this week. I get up, we get up, head off to work early to get stuff done as quickly as possible, and then head home to do the fun stuff in life; the stuff not associated with work. At the weekend we picked sloes and blackberries and apples. And after making the two apple and blackberry crumbles, Jools also made crabapple and sloe jelly, which she says is even nicer than the quince jelly from last year. So good in fact we might have to go picking again next week to make another batch.

Steaming through Minster

Wednesday evening, I left work early to go to Minster to watch a steam train power through. It involved some waiting, and chatting to some other like-minded people who had gone down to the station to see the train. After half an hour of nothing, just the occasional passing train, and the light getting worse and worse, a lone mournful steam whistle could be heard over the marshes. And then there she was, coming towards us at full speed. The track was about a mile and a half straight; and so we got a great view as she approached. And then she was at the station and passing beneath our feet, and left us swathed in smoke and steam.

Steaming through Minster

As I walked to the car from the station, this guy was walking beside me, chatting away, and in my desperation to get in the car and away from him, I did not do the zip up on my camera bag. The upshot of which was when I got home and unloaded the car, I swung the bag onto my shoulder; the camera just carried on going and flew out of the bag, over my other shoulder and landed, lens first, on the concrete of the driveway.

Crash tinkle tinkle went the lens. As it turns out, the filter took the impact, and although dented, the lens still works, and the camera seems fine. But I did feel stupid and slightly sick as I looked at the camera sitting there on the ground surrounded by shards of glass. Bugger.

Steaming through Minster

So, I checked the camera, and it took a fine picture with the damaged lens, and was fine with the macro one too. And so, once the front element is cleaned, it may be fine, but I am thinking it might be time to upgrade to something a little quicker……

Anyway, so the weekend gets nearer, and for me a week off. Lots of photography planned, and so travelling. Bee good, peeps.

44932 hauls the Battle of Britain Memorial train through Minster (Thanet) 15th September 2010

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Tuesday 14th September 2010

And so, here we are, sitting once again in front of my computer trying to looks busy. Something which is tough with my boss sitting two yards in front of me. At least he cannot see my computer screen, otherwise he would see me looking through Flickr, or the BBC news website.

I cannot report any major victories in recovering monies, sadly. Just more promises that will probably be broken several times. I am trying to remain positive about the situation. And there is some comfort in knowing that a certain man called Knud will make a promise each and every week and then go and break it. That it is the same promise is dispiriting, but you never know, that once fine morning my inbox will have maybe six refunds for me to send on, and be able to tell my boss that we can close six more cases.

One day, one day.

And I still wait for the contract. More promises and then them not being delivered. Well, I am playing it that cool, as I don’t want o upset them too much. But we need to make plans, repairs and the such. We shall see.

On a more positive note, there is a chance that those of us laid off when UTEC went belly up might get some money. I know that seems more unlikely than Knud delivering, but I did get a letter from a new administrator last week, and about 80% of what we’re owed could be coming our way. At this point we will take anything.


Same shit, different day.

Saturday sees the 20th anniversary of me joining the RAF. Well, going up to an office block, holding the Bible in one hand, raising the other and swearing an oath of allegiance. I seem to remember some money changing hand, more than a shilling. Granddad went up with me on the train. He was proud enough of me joing the armed forces; not quite the Coldstream Guards but even still. I know for a fact the enormity of what I did that day did not sink in right away; I was just thinking of a massive piss up that afternoon in the Fighting Cocks, me winning eight straight games of pool, and then the long walk home; getting some sleep and then having to get up for the early train to Norwich.

That had come at the end of a long process; of applying, waiting, applying, waiting. And in the joining as an armourer by mistake. Their mistake, but getting in and getting out of the chicken factory. For the summer, I had an accident in my car, and so spent the whole summer, the last three months as a civilian, on the sick, drinking beer and watching the World Cup from Italy . Quite possibly the best summer ever!

So, by train from Lowestoft to Norwich ad then on to Ely and Peterborough . And finally to Newark where a grim looking bus was waiting to pick us up and whisk us through he mid-morning traffic, out over the fens to a cluster of aircraft hangars and WW2 barrack blocks and general misery that marked where RAF Swinderby lay. My home, our home for the next seven weeks.

Once in, we were given a Wedgewood blue shirt, black tie and blue jumper and so joined the armed forces, the top half of us being in uniform, whilst our legs and feet in jeans and trainers. Although that did not last long. We were given armfuls of kit and uniform, and then taken to our barracks and told to get cleaning and sewing and ironing. The next morning the marching began. And the shouting. But, it wasn’t really that bad, I enjoyed it pretty much, and soon enough we graduated and we all went to different bases for trade training and the luxury of warm showers and less shouting.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Sunday 12th September 2010

Phew! Where did the weekend go? Here I am watching the NFL live from Noo Yoik; raly days in the season quite clearly, but the Panthers are miss-firing in the red zone, and the Giants are just doing OK, but that is good enough.

Anyway, the weekend.

I had decided to meet up with a guy who i got friendly with last year at the box factory; lets call him Terry. Terry is a good guy, on occasion acts a bit odd, but most of the time is hyper and a great guy. Anyways, I leave work at two as everyone had the day off after the commissioning process has been completed, and everyone headed off to the Carting circuit over at Chatham; I bailed as I was going out for the evening.

Green stars

So, Jools dropped me off outside Terry's house and I went up to his flat to find him smoking with a friend. They were drinking beer, and playing some dance music through some tinny speakers. Then they broke out the weed. Now, I have noting against pot; it's a free country and whatever gets you through the day. But, it was my first up-close experience of cannabis, and how it affects people.

Well, I saw Terry's eyes glaze over as he puffed on the first joint; and then he remembered the cake. When I worked at the chicken factory, and someone said something really dumb; we all used to ask, 'are you on space cake?' Not really realising that there really is a thing called space cake. Someone had made Terry a strawberry cheesecake, laced with weed. They each tucked into a helping, and started giggling.

As all I was using was beer, it was already tiresome; and then another friend came round; so more joints, more beer and lots more arsing about. But, after a couple of hours we did finally head out to the pub. I got a round in and we went to the beer garden, where the rambling conversation continued. Terry's judgement began to fail, and with some people watching he rolled a huge joint and lit up.

The Three Horseshoes, Staplestreet, Hernhill

He went inside to get a beer for the three of us, but came back with tequila. Tequila and I have an understanding, we leave each other alone or it gets messy. I get messy.

After an hour or so, Terry and his friend began to argue, and his friend stomped off. I told Terry to go home without me, as the thought of more beer and then watching them smoke more pot. I stayed in the pub; called a taxi and went home.

Once home tequila made good its promise and i got messy.


So, I woke up full of the joys of spring on Saturday morning; no, really. And as it was bright, i thought we should go out and have breakfast. So, we drove to Deal and parked up along the seafront, and walked along the pier to the cafe. I ordered a medium breakfast and Jools a small. and we had a flick through the first copy of The Times we have bought in a month.
Breakfast was great, and just what my stomach wanted. The view from the cafe along the promenade a quarter of a mile down the pier, is great. A long row of pastel coloured town houses, pubs and restaurants.

The Three Horseshoes, Staplestreet, Hernhill

It was a heritage weekend, with many historic houses open to the public that norally are closed. Top of our list again this year is the pilgrim hospital, St Bartholomew's in Sandwich.

It was intially locked fast; but the warden came to open it up, and we went in and I photographed it and took in its history. There was a steady stream of other visitors as we walked around.
Afterwards, we decided to head to the main parish church, St Clements.

we walked along the main road, and then through a housing estate, down a footpath and along the old town walls. And there it was; on Knightrider Street: I kid you not.

St Clement's is a huge church, originally Norma, but enlarged regularly over the centuries, and so now it is huge. It has few stained glass windows, and so is light and airy inside. And full of history too. There is a chair in the middle of the front pew that has had to bottom of Queen Victoria and Winston Churchill; oh, and the Queen Mum; God bless her(!)
The guy on the desk at the door wanted to tell me so much about the history, and I tried to be polite and listen. They are trying to restore the church; the roof has been done and now the tower is trying to be saved. we put a couple of pounds in the box.

If life gives you sloes.........

Time for a drink then, and we walked into the centre of town. I saw that another ancient building, Noah's ark, was open. we go in and chat with the artist who lives there, and with his wife, about light, food and the town in general.

We walk down the street to a pub, the Fleur de Lis, as I have been asked to photograph it for a friend, as he is trying to get shots of all grade 1 listed pubs. And it seems only right not just to snap it, but to sample its ales too. I have a pint of Osprey and Jools a half of cider. and we sit down to take in the atmosphere.

after finishing our drinks, we walk back to the car and head off to a windmill in Herne bay along to north Kent coast. It took half an hour to get there, only to find it closed for lunch. So, we head off to Hernehill, which you would think was nearby; but is 20 miles away.

.........make sloe gin!

In Hernehill, there is a really fine pub I wanted to sample and snap before the current landlord retired; which is in a couple of weeks.

On the way we see the church at Hernehill, and so pull over to visit that as well. It is another fine country church; and the wardens had laid on fruit juice and biscuits for the visitor. A nice touch. we photograph it and then move on the the pub.

The Three Horseshoes is a fine 17th century clapperboard building, with a couple of fine bars with walls heavy with mementoes and pictures of the pub and village over the years. Their beer is exceptionally fine, and we both have a beef sandwich to accompany the beer.

Butterfly on my finger

The drive back to the main road was wonderful; down narrow lanes with views over orchards and hope fields; and on the hill was an old oasthouse. So very Kentish. We shall re-visit on a sunny day to record the scene.

Back home and I listen to the football on the radio; Norwich come from behind again to win; which is all that matter, really.
During the evening we have to radio to listen to the Last Night of the Proms and play cards at the same time. Not very rock and roll, but we were happy enough.

Sunday dawned bright, and after a long lay-in, we have breakfast and then head out for a walk along the lane at the end of our road. We wanted to see how the blackberries and other autumn fruits were coming along. In the end we picked a couple of pounds of blackberries and sloes. and after an hours walk we head back for lunch and cooking.
Jools cooks the blackberries up with a large couple of cooking apples so we can have a crumble in the evening; and i prick a couple of pounds of sloes and pop them in a couple of bottles of gin.


We spend a quiet afternoon in the garden and me watching some football. Once again, not rock and roll, but we are happy enough.

Friday, 10 September 2010

Friday 10th September 2010

10/09/10. As it were. And it is Friday, and so I have left work for the weekend and am now home, having had a huge cup of tea, and now looking forward to the weekend stretching out before me.


Although i have not said which company I am working for, maybe some of you have guessed, but anyway, we are currently building and commissioning the world's largest offshore wind farm project. And yesterday, the technicians commissioned the 100th and final turbine. I am not sure when the project was due to end, but it has gone very well, and set new industry standards in the installation phase. There is still work to do to get it ready for our customer, but for today, this is a cause for huge celebration. Most of the team have headed to a go kart circuit to have a fine afternoon of racing, and then off to some lucky establishment this evening for tea and medals; sorry, dinner and the occasional drink.


I am still waiting to see my contract, but it has made the journey from Denmark to England, and i should see it before next week is out. and then we shall see what the small print says.

Rainy Sun

I shall fill this entry with shots taken yesterday evening after a storm and the sun had come out, and everything sparkled like they were hung with bright jewels.

I am off out for a drink or three myself this evening, as I am going to meet up with friends from the box factory; this will be the first time I have seen them since the beginning of January.

The monster in our garden!

So, strap yourself in, the weekend starts here!

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Wednesday 8th September 2010

Shit, as they say, rolls down hill. And those at the bottom of the hill there is no way of dodging it, and so better have some clean clothes or a good excuse. A simple question by me two days ago, triggered a second question much further up the food chain, and then the brown stuff started rolling downhill at warp factor eight.
I was at the company when the incident took place, but maybe I should have asked questions more when I got the case? But these are words from the person least to blame. Honest.

So, I have to gather information, and pass this on and see who is going to be fed to the sharks for the greater good. Perhaps.

On the contract front; I am waiting to see it, but the person who was away last week in Denmark who has to sign it, is now back. But the two people from HR who can sign it off for our department are both off this week. So, nothing else other than to wait a while. All else is on hold; plans for the roof repair and all the other things than need to be done and arranged will wait some more.


And so the weeks pass. Potentially, I have three weeks left here, with one of those on holiday, and so my time here with these guys, is very short indeed. After today, I could have just 12 days here, and then off into the bright future, the wind-powered bright future, and hopefully, bigger and better things.

And possibly better punctuation, too.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Monday 6th September 2010

And just like that; it’s Monday again. And here I am back at work, and its like I’ve never been gone as mails go unanswered and promises made last week are broken. Again. I would like to think I am moving forward with the job, but sometimes it feels like I’m treading water, trapped to be doing the same things day after day, week after week; with just the occasional victory to keep me going.


Anyway, in two weeks time, we are on holiday, and our days are quickly filling up with fantastic things to do. So, we keep our eyes on those days whilst taking each disappointment and rolling with the punches. More of our pans nearer the time; but they do involve: photography, trains, architecture, travel and probably more photography.

Where was I? Oh, Saturday……

Well, Sunday was a fine and bright day; and so we got our backsides out of bed pulled on our walking boots and went for a wander along the lanes and byways around the house. It is great to see how the scenes have changed this year; fields have gone from being sowed, the growing crops, then the harvest and now ploughing. Where once were the bright colours of ripening wheat and rapeseed now are the browns and greys of stubble and furrows.

Autumnal fruit

At least the hedgerows are a riot of colour, with brambles laden with ripening or already ripe blackberries. We took a bag and picked the juiciest, sweetest berries for supper. At the usual points we met the hungry pigs, the friendly lonely horse and the cautious cows. All familiar landmarks and neighbours to us now. We walked on over the rise of the final hill, between harvested fields that were once golden wheat right down to the cliff’s edge, but now just stubble, along a path to the cliffs. It always amazes me that golfers are out at such hours; dressed in pastel shaded Pringle and stomping around pulling buggies full of bonneted clubs. But then, who are we to judge? Walking the same byways, snapping the same things. They give pleasure, I guess.

Emperor Dragonfly

We walk back through the village via the shop and buy some bacon for second breakfast and some butter for supper. Supper was going to be blackberry and apple crumble; which turned out just fine with lashings of vanilla ice cream.

In the afternoon, we head out to stand on an isolated bridge, looking into a railway cutting at a tunnel portal for a steam locomotive to come screaming out. Our friend, Gary, joined us, and we waited and chatted to the stranger in the old Mini Clubman who was already waiting. Right on time we saw the light reflected on the rails, and the Black 5 came out of the tunnel and was passing under our feet in a flash. My finger had pressed the shutter automatically, and captured thirty or so shots.

Shepherd Neame; The Spitfire/ The Hop Picker's Special 5th September 2010

The train was to turn round at Dover , and so we drove the couple of miles to Shepherds Well to the station to see it come out of the tunnel the other end. More people were waiting, and it was quite a wait. But Gary and me, standing on the footbridge, got the first sight of its headlights and were ready as it’s nose came out of the tunnel and soon enough it thundered beneath our feet. A few shots the other way and it was gone, and time for us to head home for dinner; steak and ale pie, roast potatoes and runner beans from our garden.

Shepherd Neame; The Spitfire/The Hop Picker September 5th 2010

And then it was time for me to head out just after six to see the train make one more pass through Dover , and I to my favourite spot on Shakespeare beach as it passed by in the gathering gloom of an early autumnal evening. A quick dash home to inspect the shots I had taken that day, and put the crumble in the oven and anticipate it as the fine smell of it cooking filled the house.

Not a bad day, after all.