Sunday, 31 July 2011

Sunday 31st July 2011

Sunday morning, and all is well with the world; other than one of our cats, Molly, has not shown up this morning. She may be sulking as we were out all day yesterday and so mealtimes were infrequent to say the least.
We had a very late night, as went to Ashford to see the final Harry Potter film, and we chose the last 2D showing of the day, at nine, so we could spend as much time as possible with our good friend, Bob.

The Quarterhouse, Folkestone

And 2D, as the font all all film critic-knowledge, Mark Kermode, a well known anti 3D campaigner, has been regaling us with tales of how dark the 3D film print is. As it turned out, 2D was just fine, and very enjoyable with wonderful story, effects and ending. Top marks.

Folkestone Harbour

We woke up nice and early, fed the cats and had breakfast, and headed out of the house towards Folkestone. Once every three years there is an arts festival in the town, and there is stuff all over the town to see. We drove the picturesque way, down the Alkham valley through the fields of wheat and barley and into Folkestone. Down to the harbour avoiding the crap drivers and into the car park beside the harbour.

We walked down by the harbour to look at the new restaurant, Rocksalt, that has been built in place of an old ramshackle inn. It looks fine, all wooden curves and an interesting menu too. Back to the carpark and up the Old High street; quiet enough at nine in the morning. We spy an alley leading through the row of shops and go down the steps to see where it lead.

Folkestone Triennial

Well, not surprisingly, it lead to the back of the shops, and a dead end street. But, Jools spotted a wonderful stainless steel clad building a hundred yards or so away. So, as you can imagine, I snapped it, and snapped it good. and then whilst snapping it, i see they do concerts, and have upcoming gigs by Eliza Carthy and Ade Edmondson and the Bad Shepherds. We decide we would like to go to both gigs, and to while away the time until the box office opened at ten, we went to the cafe opposite and had 2nd breakfast; bacon roll for Jools, but a proper fry up for me.

Millbay, Folkestone

We get our tickets, and inside the foyer, the building is just as stunning. So I snap it some more.

We walk back up to the Old High Street, and then along the Bayle to St. Eanswythe's church, as there was an art installation on there. Papier Mache boats of all kinds had been made and suspended from the ceiling; I don't know what it meant, but looked good. Very good. And one of my old Flickr-buddies, Mary, was in there too, snapping away.

The Quarterhouse, Folkestone

we went back to the harbour by the old water lift dwon from the leas; the first time I have been on it, and on the first anniversary since it reopened too! We walked in, took our seat, and after a while the door was shit and we could hear the accumulator below us fill with water and we descended gently to the level of the promenade.


From there we headed back down to the harbour, the the old railway station where I knew there was another installation. Visiting Folkestone Harbour station is always an odd experience; a once thriving station, where passengers from the Orient express used to board ferries for the continent, famous trains like the Golden Arrow used to do the same but for the less well-heeled. And no lays rotting, rusting and falling apart as there is no money and no need to keep it open.

Old High Street, Folkestone

We walk down the end of the platform, and back along the single track that remains, and then it was time to head to the car, and back home for lunch as we had a date for the afternoon.

Back home we have a sandwich and a cup of coffee, and then head to Ashford to see the new pad that our very good friend, Bob, has got. He had a bad time in Dover with yobs, and needed somewhere quiet in which to live. He has a place in a new build on the edge of town, and once we had arrived, had a beer and swapped pleasantries, we headed out for a circular walk round his new neighbourhood.

I was soon chasing butterflies as we walked, and got a few good shots of a Gatekeeper butterfly. By now the wind had dropped, and the temperature dropped, and so we called in at the local store for ice cream before heading back to the new house.


He served us dinner, and we chatted more, but soon it was time for us to head to the cinema to see Harry Potter.
Not much else to describe, other than it was great, and a worthy end to the series. And at half eleven, it ended and we headed back to the car and on to home, arriving back at just gone midnight, pooped but knowing we had had a good day.

And that was the last time we saw Molly, as she left as we entered the house, and we have not seen her since. 18 or so hours have now passed, and the mood is sombre.

Hopefully, better news tomorrow....

Friday, 29 July 2011

Friday 29th July 2011

And so another week, and month passes.

In work news, I have had to move desks. So goodbye to an office of my own, and now I share a big open space with all the technicians on site. On the plus side, most days they are out at work and so I have the whole office, cooler and photocopier to myself. The real bonus is, however, is that I have a desk right by the picture window, with views over the ferry terminal, and to Pegwell Bay and Sandwich and Deal beyond. And right in the distance I can see where the cliffs rise, and somewhere up there is where our house is. My old office was good, but had two tiny windows, the opposite side of the room to my desk, so all day, every day; no daylight. So, I moved this morning after a request, several requests from the client to have their office back. And as it’s their building, we really had no choice.

So, instead of staring at the walls or the blinds at the window which just looks into the warehouse, or the back of some nice shelving in the warehouse, I have sea, sun, ships, yachts, seagulls. Its good.

This week I have been swimming, or drowning, in a sea of data, numbers with just my databases to help me. Its been tough, trying to get numbers on one spreadsheet to tally with the totals on another. At times I was drowning, drowning in a sea of numbers. But, I think I am now at least keeping my head above water, and within another day I might even have some data and reports which to handover.

Other than that, the weather has not been too good, not good enough for an evening walk, or the evenings it was good enough, we had other stuff going on. Last night after work, I headed to Tesco in Ramsgate and did the weeks grocery shopping, and then drove to Minster to photograph a steam locomotive thunder past.
I had half an hour to wait, but the weather was glorious, and it was pleasant enough waiting with just the summer breeze to enjoy, and the occasional passing electric train. A few more people arrived just before showtime; and then in the distance we could see Britannia rounding the bend and accelerating towards us.

70000 Britannia at Minster (Thanet) 28th July 2011

Through the shimmer of a summer’s evening, she came, and then when she was about half a mile away, we could hear her pistons working. And then as she came near the platform, the driver opened the regulator again and she pressed ever more forward. My camera went ‘whirrrrrrrrrr’ and I took 150 shots. And then, she was gone, heading towards Ramsgate and then round the north Kent coast line.

Yesterday morning, saw me call in a newsagent to get a copy of one of the local papers as the editor had asked me to take the shots at the ceremony at Dover Patrol on Sunday. I paid the woman behind the counter, walked outside to see which ones of my shots they had chosen. They had printed just two shots, one not very good, not using any of the good portraits I took, and worst of all, no picture credit for me! I am not happy at all. I will check to see if they do something even worse to actually sell my shots online. Time will tell.

70000 Britannia at Minster (Thanet) 28th July 2011

And also yesterday, I got a mail from Shepherd Neame asking to use one of my shots for their annual report. I said yes, and they are paying me in beer. Does that make me a professional? Photographer that is! It’s a start, maybe more work will come from them? Who can tell.

Not me.

And so the weekend looms, we’re going to visit our friend Bob in his new gaff tomorrow, go for a walk and he is going to cook. There is a festival in Folkestone, we hope to be there for nine tomorrow morning, maybe go for a walk along the Leas as well, and take many, many photographs.

Sunday there is a steam fair at the Chilli Farm just down the road from Dover. It should be a roasting hot day, and chance for more shots of classic cars, tractors and other such fun things.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Tuesday 26th July 2011

Sorry it has been so long since my last communication, but what with insomnia and the Tour de France there really has been no time to write.

But, before I detail insomnia and checking of Flickr in the wee small hours, lets go back to Friday and a surprising comment.

We had known all week that an 'very important MP', that's member of parliament to you, was coming to visit. We were kept on tenderhooks all week before discovering on Thursday rather than being the PM, or Nick, it was Justine Greening, otherwise known as (cue drum roll and fanfair)

Economic Secretary to the Treasury.

Dead Horse Ale 2011

da da daaaaa!

In the end, she turned up, apparently, looked around, was followed by two TV crews and left. I was waiting in line (queueing) at the butty wagon and asked our client's secretary if Ms Greening was coming, I was told yes, but Mel Gibson had cancelled.



I do know of a certain Filipino woman who would have just fainted at the thought of meeting 'Mel'. But not me, oh no.

Mel (pause) Gibson. The actor?


(me) Wonder if he would have brought his beaver?


You know. Beaver! Like his latest film? The Beaver??


Honestly, I'm wasted there.

Dead Horse Ale 2011

But he cancelled, and we just had a run of the mill treasury secretary asking if all their money was being used well. She didn't come into my office to ask me; I would have told her that yes, the money is being used fine. I have many fine photographs from shore and from boats of the windfarm, and is keeping me, Jools and the kittens in kibbles.

Dead Horse Ale 2011

But she didn't.

And then I got thinking about Mel again.

You know; Mel Gibson; the actor. And Jew hater. (apparently)

And then my mind drifted to Star Wars. I never said it had to make sense, did I?

(Scene: Imperial HQ; Coruscant)

Lickspittle: My Lord Vader, I have the new, improved plans for the Death Star.

Lord Vader: New plans?

Lickspittle: Yes, my dark lard; we sent our loyal servant Agent Gibson to earth, to investigate wind power.

Lord Vader: Wind power?

Lickspittle: Yes, wind power my Lord. If we install 1.2 gigawatt of windpower, we could power the planet destruction beam thus reducing the Empire's carbon footprint by some 23%

Lord Vader: Carbon Footprint?

Lickspittle: Yes, carbon footprint my Lord. So to help make the Empire carbon neutral. Oh, and the plans have been printed on paper that is 75% recycled.

Lord Vader: But it looks like top quality paper!

Lickspittle: Yes, we could have gone 100%, but it looked too bloody good and our focus group didn't believe it was recycled at all.

Lord Vader: Focus group?

Lickspittle: Yes, before and after we make decisions, we poll our focus group as to how they see our leadership and how it will effect their house prices.

Lord Vader: Bloody Daily Express readers.

Lickspittle: In view of our carbon footprint, we have forested the desert second moon of the planet Endor with millions of trees.

Lord Vader: won't that make the caves there difficult to monitor?

Lickspittle: That may be; but our focus group loves the idea.

Lord Vader: You mentioned 'wind power?'

Lickspittle: Yes, 1,200,000,000,000 watts powered by 4 billion 3 MW turbines. And that equals almost zero carbon footprint!

Lord Vader: How much wind will be needed to power these 'turbines'?

Lickspittle: Not much, these are designed to work at medium wind velocities, I was convinced by their business case certainty argument.

Lord Vader: And how much wind is there in the black void of deep space?

Lickspittle: aaah.

(Vader kills Lickspittle with a brief gesture of his leather-gloved hand.)

Lickspittle #2: Now, my Lord Vader; fair trade carbonite.

No? I'll carry on working then.

So, Friday passed and I worked on. No, really. I missed the minister, the TV crews, the grovelling, and come four o'clock I packed up my desk and head home. Or I pack my computer and other stuff that could be carried out of the office under a sub-contractor's coat.

And so after a quick dinner, I sat down on the sofa, with Scully on my lap, to watch the final 'proper' stage of Le tour, a quick 109 km and a dash up the L'Alpe d'Huez. Some 400,000 people lined the 20 or more hairpin bends, and cheered and cheered the cyclists to the top. well, it was tiring just watching.

Dead Horse Ale 2011

And then to bed, perchance to dream. No cheese for supper, then?


And up the next morning, not quite with the larks, but early enough, and after breakfast, out in the car for the wonders of Whitstable. Whitstable, otherwise known as Camden-on-Sea, which would be even more packed for the oyster festival. Now, I don't like oysters. well, I say I don't like them, I have never tried them, but the thought of eating something raw that lives on nothing more simple than raw sewage does not fill me with feelings of hunger.

Anyway, less about the oysters and more about the dancers. I say dancer, these were Morris Dancers. Morris dancers? You ask.

Yes. Morris. Dancers.

Dead Horse Ale 2011

A friend of mine, Frances, is now a musician in the local 'side', that is the Dead Horse Morris, of Whitstable. And it being their 25th anniversary, they had organised that very weekend. And I had made it be known I would like to photograph said Morris Dancers, er, dancing.

So, a plan was hatched, where I would watch and photograph the Morris Dancing, and Jools would go to Westwood Cross to buy slippers. It's all go in this house!

So, as we arrived in Whitstable, before the crowds, she dropped me off outside a barnet mangers, and I got out and went into the barber's to have a hair cut. And so by nine fifteen I was out, camera in hand with a nice spanking haircut and ready to snap the world.

Dead Horse Ale 2011

Down then, to the harbour to where the dancing was to take place, and while I wait I snap the people coming and going, have a cup of coffee and a slice of fruit cake.

The world still passed by.

I snapped them.


By a quarter to ten, the dancers were gathering, I met Frances and carried on snapping trying to take all the good information she was saying. And then at about ten ten, the dancing begun and one 'side' after another, they danced. And I photographed them all. In all I took 1045 shots, and captured all the different styles of dancing, and met many, many interesting people.

Dead Horse Ale 2011

By half eleven, it was getting very crowded, and as I had received a message from Jools that she was in nearby Tankerton, I set off on the ten minute walk to meet up with her.
She walked out of the Royal as I arrived, and we got in the car and drove out of Dodge, via Preston, as I had forgotten to get something out of the fridge for dinner. Steak it was then, and some other nice stuff, and back home in time for lunch and the Tour on TV. I called Scully and we climbed onto the sofa, and I tried to stay awake during the time trial.

ando so another hectic day passes, and we sit down to prime rump steak, garlic mushrooms and fresh corn and Jools went into town to get some proper chip shop chips, and we relax further as the evening passes.

Dover Patrol 90th anniversary parade

And Sunday comes round, and after breakfast, Jools and I walk to the cliffs, to Dover Patrol as I had been asked by the local paper to take shots for publication. Unpaid, but its a start, and maybe more paid stuff might come along...

Or not.

Dover Patrol 90th anniversary parade

Already the old soldiers, sailors and airmen had gathered, and so I make myself known as a member of the press and snap away.

i have to say, especially as there were sub-mariners and one of only three surviving members of the Burma star association, that the service brought a lump to my throat. I snapped away, thinking that anyone one of those fine gentlemen could have been on the boat that rescued my Grandfather from Dunkirk.

Dover Patrol 90th anniversary parade

The service at an end, and I meet back with Jools; we have a cuppa in Bluebirds tearooms, and then get a lift with my good friend Gary to our door, just in time for me to watch the last stage of Le Tour; the toughest part was trying to stay awake through what was really just a parade for the winner, but we did get to see a Brit, Mark Cavendish win the final stage and take the green jersey.


Herb-encrusted lamb and fresh veg for dinner. and then snoozing.

Dover Patrol 90th anniversary parade

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Wednesday 20th July 2011

And so the weekend passes, Sunday evening passes and it is Monday morning again. The alarm sounds and we get up and get ready for another week.

It’s not all bad; as we always say, work makes out life at the house on the cliffs possible. Just standing in the doorway into the back garden, with sunlight shining through the boughs of the tree and butterflies flitting from plant to plant; and beyond the garden, the land falls and then rises towards the edge of the cliffs about a mile away. And the air is filled very little with the sounds of the modern world, but instead the chirping of many different species of birds.

Gatekeeper butterfly

It’s not a bad life, all things considered.

The days pass quickly at work, and then we squeeze into the evenings all the things we would like to do if we were not at work; and for the past two weeks and the rest of this week is sitting on the sofa with Scully on my lap watching recordings of that day’s Tour de France. We cook, we clean we do stuff. Monday, Jools went to her yoga class, and I messed around on the computer before starting to cook dinner. Only, I managed to pick up a virus somewhere, I could not open just one file, the mouse selected many, click on the net opened a new window.
I did manage to open an anti-spyware program, and in its 12 hour scan it found the virus and deleted it, and the next morning I downloaded an anti-virus program and set a scan going whilst we were at work. And all seems fine now. I guess it goes to show that you can never be too careful. This is the first virus any of my computers have picked up in over 10 years, so its not too bad.

Bee too

Last night after work, and after feeding the cats and changing out of our work gear, we put on our walking shoes and headed out for a walk in the warm evening sunshine. Along the track which begins at the end of our street, across the fields and, for me at least, then down into the dip, up the other side and then on to the cliff edge and looking out to France over the deep blue English Channel. I say me for at least, as Jools had a leaving party to go to for a friend at work, and would not have time for the whole walk.
Once we reached the end of the track, where it joins a country lane, there is a huge area of buddleias, and so we paused for a while to try to photograph the butterflies flitting about. I got some good shots, but could do better, there will be other chances to snap them.

Small Tortoiseshell

At hat point, Jools went home to get ready for the party, and I walked on. To the south, there was no clouds, and the sky a deep blue, but to the north and west, clouds were thickening, but this did nothing to stop the sun from shining. A few hundred yards along the lane, a sharp right turn, and down the small valley that the house looks down into, and back up the other side, past fields of wheat on both sides.

Meadow Brown

At the other side of the valley, a left turn along the lane, dodging the cyclist out also enjoying the evening sunshine, and then turn right, along the overgrown path that heads to the cliffs. The path continued to rise, with the landscape falling on all sides. And then at the top of the rise, I could see all the way to where the cliff edge was, and the deep blue Channel beyond, and in the distance, the buildings and towers in Calais just poked above the horizon.

On a clear day

Such clarity of the air is rare, but when it happens it does take your breath away; it does mine anyway. As I walk towards the cliff, the ground drops and the vista also drops out of view. Then the path rises again, crosses the clifftop path, and twenty yards further on to the edge. And there it is.

The view.

Ships look like toys, France seems like it’s only a handful of miles away. A gentle warm breeze stirs the evening air and as I stand there, a couple of dog-walkers pass by, not looking at the scene. Maybe they’ve already seen it, or see it every day? I don’t know.

Down below, my stomach rumbled, and I turn for home, heading back the same way, this time heading into the sun. A couple of fine looking horses come over to the fence at the edge of their field, I go up and they inspect my hand for food but let me scratch their foreheads.
Back up the steep climb to the end of the track, and then into the setting sun and back to our street, just in time to wave at Jools as she drove off to the party.

I let myself in, pat each one of the cats that laid in wait, went to the fridge, grabbed an ice cold bottle of beer, popped the Moroccan sausage pasta dish I had defrosted into the microwave, checked the computer to make sure it was still virus-free.

Once I had eaten, I picked Scully up and we sat down on the Sofa and watched the recorded live coverage of that day’s Le Tour. A pretty perfect day.

And to round it off, I watched Newsnight, to see how various scribes and other interested parties judged the Murdoch’s appearance before the select committee. Always good to see the great and good squirm and act contrite; even if deep down we know Rupert has his fingers crossed.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Sunday 17th July 2011

Its midday on Sunday, and we are, or I am, pooped to the extreme.

Just before four on Friday afternoon, I powered down the company laptop, and thought about what we should do over the weekend. We had invited friends down, but heard nothing for three days.


My mobile chirped.

"We're now leaving London, I've not told the others, is it still alright for us four to stay?"


OK I hear myself say. Four people staying; we have a large enough house, but one bed. So, wait for Jools, she rings her dad to borrow the airbed. Then, go to Tesco to get some supplies for a bbq as the weather was fine enough. I post a comment on the PEO group to let them know of the events, and was informed that at least two of them are vegetarians. Jools was already at Tesco with a shopping list for meat, meat and more meat.
Thanks to the wonders of mobile phones, I called her and she went on the hunt for veggie burgers and veggie sausages.

Sam the Vlogger

Jools returned loaded with shopping and the air bed. We have a pump to inflate the bed, we put the sheets on the beds, and sat down to wait and wait.

Thanks to the interwebs and Facebook, i was kept up to date with their progress. Right on time, 45 minutes late they tune up, and Sam unloads case after case of stuff. I later find out its all laptops and camera equipment, very few clothes.

I light the barbie and get ready the food. Although, Bruce, being an Aussie soon takes charge to ensure that the food is actually cooked. We sit down outside and have our food, and then the others connect their laptops, phones and i pads to our hub and go about updating their various digital lives. Sam does a few gigs for Fivr, and we hear him ranting on video at some poor company.

Bruce takes control

We head out to see the sunset from the cliffs by the Dover Patrol monument, and then drive down into the bay as the full moon rises over Calais. It was a stroke of luck, and there was a scramble for cameras and tripods to get shots.

Sam the photographer

Once back home, I find that Bruce is a fan of cycling, and I had just taped that day's stage of Le Tour; so we sit down to watch, and Sam and I share a few very large wee drams. It was nearly one by the time the cycling ended and Sam and I had drained our glasses for the last time.

Jan heart Bruce 4 eva!

Sometime around half six, Jools got up to feed the cats. I slept on. For a while, as Mulder came up to the bedroom and jumped on the bed, meowing for some attention. I woke up. Slowly.

When photographers set the table for breakfast!

We came downstairs, had a coffee, tidied up and waited for the others to emerge. The weather forecast was dreadful, and they were bang on. After a bright start, the wind hwled and the rain lashed down, getting heavier as they day wore on.

By half eleven, everyone was up, had breakfast, updated their digital lives, and we decided to head out. Quite what to do on such an unseasonal day was tricky. We decided that the new Turner Contemporary in Margate would be fine, as it was:

a. Inside
b. Free
c. Arty
d. free
e. dry
f. Not golf
g. free

PEO at the art gallery

Even trickier was how to get to the other side of Thanet dodging the golf traffic. That we did by going down some narrow country lanes, twisting and turning past churches, farms and orchards.

The rain continued.

We drove across Thanet, and then along to coast once we had driven through Acol; although we did not stop for a rubber or two of bridge.


We drove into Margate, along the prom, dropping the others off at the gallery, then sam and myself drove to the carpark at the Lido and walked the 5 minutes back.

The gallery was quite busy, due to being free and the weather, but as ever the installations were great, especially the twirly light one. We stayed for an hour or so; I started to snap people rather than the installations.

Oh Yeah!

Once we had all had our fill, we headed out to a place we know for lunch. We had given them the choice of eating sane or crazy; they chose crazy; and so we made our way to the Mad Hatter's tearooms. I did not snap them yesterday, as I did a year or so back, and it is as crazy as ever, with Christmas decorations, the Diana shrine, hundreds of photos on the wall, original Victorian fixtures and the proprietor in top had with price attached. The Mad Hatter.

Bruce. smiles.

we had a fine lunch, some had sandwiches others had cream teas. We had two teapots, two jugs of milk, a pot of hot water, cups of coffee, milkshakes; all of which with the plates of food, filled the table. We ate well, and sat back happy.

Time then to fetch the cars so only the drivers got wet, and then back home to watch more of Le Tour and get ready for the evening, as we had booked dinner at the Grover Ferry Inn.

The Mad Hatter, Margate

As we were driving back from Margate, the commentator at the golf said he saw blue sky; it was hard to believe as it was still raining here. But in time the clouds cleared and the sun came out. By the time we left for the pub, the sun was shining and a wonderful golden light was over the land. All quite amazing as it was pretty much the same route we had taken that morning, but the land looked so different, and so very glorious.

The Mad Hatter, Margate

The pub was everything we knew it would be; we had a table overlooking the quayside and the river beyond. we ordered our food and waited. And it was indeed good, I had handmade burger with fries and wasabi coleslaw. Very good, followed then by a very fine cheeseboard, which did indeed come on a board with a good selection of crackers too.

Back home then past Sandwich as the golfers should have been all tucked up in bed, and then onto Deal, along the coast road as the full moon lit up a huge cloud and made the most perfect silver lining. Having had a couple of beers and a glass of wine, I did try to takea picture from the moving car of the scene. Needless to say, it didn't come out. Oh well.

Back then so Bruce and I could watch the end of Le Tour, and in the end hot the sack at half one.

And so soon after getting up, having breakfast, our friends loaded the car and headed off. Now the house is quiet, except for the sound of Billy Bragg as one of his albums spins on the record player. We have put the house back together, in that furniture has been moved out of the bathroom, the airbed deflated, and now the cleaning is done, it must be time to sit on the sofa with a cat and watch more of Le Tour.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Wednesday 13th July 2011

And so the working week passes. But for me, thanks to some famous golfers, this week is passing in quite an unusual way.

You see, The Open, I may have mentioned this before, is being played at Sandwich. The roads between here in St Margaret's and my office in Ramsgate will be clogged with the golfers, golf reporters, golf fans and all manner of hangers on. and so, I am working from home!

Yes, I don't have to get up at a quarter to six, I lay in bed for another lazy half an hour. Jools brings me a cuppa whilst I listen to the radio, then I get up, put on my dressing gown, have breakfast and then fire the work's laptop up and do my nine hour shift from the dining room table.

This would be ideal; I mean there is no one walking through this office wanting to talk about football, the news or whatever, I can just work. Or would do if it wasn't for the cats.

You see, what could be better than having a human in the house, say over lunchtime when breakfast has gone all crusty, just pester him until he provides something fresh. and then demand some attention. Maybe bring him in a bird or mouse as a present, or even best, lay somewhere warm, like the keyboard of his computer. And when he is talking to his boss on the office communicator, and then rub yourself over the microphone making a satisfying loud noise in his earpiece.

Red Admiral

Yes, working from home isn't all sitting around in your pants, watching Jeremy Kyle and Cash in the Attic, not there is work to do, battle the evil that is the VPN client program, or having to ring IT in Denmark to rest the password as the company's server does not believe I exist.

But, I can get a really good cup of coffee when I want, and not be tempted by the sandwich wagon with all the chocolate and crisps.

In the afternoon, I try to ignore the fact hat the Tour de France is on TV just the other side of the room, and something really, really interesting in the procedure I'm reading.

That aside, I am sure it all worth if so some badly dressed folks can bash a dimpled ball with a stick whilst thousands of people can watch and even pay for the privilege of standing there in the wind and rain.

The Penthouse Suite

But, who am I to judge?

Other than that, Mr Murdoch is having a really bad time; he has given up trying to take over Sky, and all sorts of revelations regarding to how some stories came to be obtained. Of course, the hypocrisy of this is that all newspapers do this to some extent, it's just that someone decided to leak the story the same week the government were to make the decision as to if the takeover should be allowed. what are the chances?

Still, the daily updates about the revelations and the sheer horror that some of our fine politicians feel at such rotten and illegal behaviour. They would never stoop so low, so low to use such stories for political points scoring. wait a minute....

Monday, 11 July 2011

Monday 11th July 2011

And so Sunday. Despite a sunny start, the clouds did roll in, and so the plan to go to Walmer Castle was delayed and then shelved.

Jools worked hard in the garden, weeding and planting, and I messed around on the computer with occasionally providing coffee and words of encouragement. Like this the morning passed quickly.

After lunch Jools went to visit her Father, and I sat down to watch the Tour de France on TV. Eurosport says there is nothing more relaxing than watching others work hard on a Sunday afternoon; in which case I was very relaxed. I watch not just for the sport, but to see the landscape passing by either from the case bikes or the helicopter. It is all rather wonderful. There were crashes, and a TV car knocked two of the leaders off their bikes, and there was some good chasing of the breakaway group by the peloton.

So, this week we have the world of golf descending on our little corner of the world for The Open. That’s THE Open, not the British or English Open, just The Open. It’s all going down in Sandwich, and there is traffic chaos forecast for the area. And I have to drive past there twice a day on my to and back from work. So, from Wednesday, maybe even from tomorrow, I shall be working from home as travelling by car is going to be a nightmare. This is the first time I have lived near where a major sporting event is taking place, and a few months back it seemed all rather exciting, but now it just so bloody inconvenient to be honest, we can’t go here, there, and everywhere else is going to be crowded. Oh well, back to normal within a week.

Cinnabar Moth

If only I liked golf it would all be so exciting for me too; but I don’t. I played once, and found it very frustrating. We may go for a walk along the beach from Deal on Sunday, to look over the links to the golfers, but I think that right of way may even be closed. I had thought of going to look at the golf, but found that cameras are banned as it might put off the golfers! Not all the bright Pringle clothes puts them off, so why should my camera? I’ll stay away, maybe even go off to sunny Norfolk train-chasing again. Or not, we shall see.

Cinnabar Moth

Whilst watching the cycling yesterday, I noticed a flash of red through the front window, and saw what was a moth or butterfly. I went to get my camera, walked to the front of the house, and it was still there. So I got a few shots off and then tried to identify it, which did not prove to be hard. And found that it is called a Cinnabar Moth; it even sounds wonderful.

Time then to cook roast beef and all the trimmings for dinner, all acompanied by a fine bottle of red. And so the weekend ends peacefully.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Sunday 10th July 2011

How very different the world feels this morning after I have slept for ten hours. If such a sleep was required, why then do I feel so woolly-headed this morning too? Too much sleep I'm sure is what my Grandmother would have said, but it that right? And does it really matter?

Not a jot.

So, the world is still spinning on it's axis this morning after the News of the World prints it's last edition;journalists mostly mourn, the rest of us go out and buy a copy in case it ever becomes a collectors item.


Maybe we're off to Walmer Castle in a bit to see the summer flowers they have there; or maybe not. And then there is the choice of the British Grand Prix on TV or Le Tour de France. I'd prefer Le Tour as I love to see the French countryside slide past, and the sheer energy of the riders. That it may all be down to chemicals is another thing, but it is a fine thing to watch. Doubly so now as the tour has reached the hills and by the end of this week will be in the mountains.

Winston Churchill

Yesterday, we headed to the north of Kent to visit a famous house, Chartwell, the old home of Sir Winston Churchill, who may well have been the greatest ever Briton. In the end we just looked as his garden, ignoring his preserved bedroom, study and the suchlike in the house. It seemed to me, I did not need to see these things to appreciate how great the man was,just to realise his fortitude in 1940 when the country was up against the wall and alone. Whether he believed his words is debatable, but the country did and the war changed.

So, we drove up the A2 then onto the motorway, and then, as we were early, tried to looks for Kitts Coty, which after Googling it I see is a Neolithic tomb. Sadly, for something so wonderful, it was not signposted from any of the roads nearby, and despite being within what we knew to be a couple of hundred yards from it, we gave up. We do have a walking guide, and so at some point we shall ramble there and i shall take photos.

So, we drove on, up the M20 and then to the M26 and the M25.


Chartwell is situated in rolling countryside, with two if not three ornamental lakes, and is inbetween two motorway junctions, and the most straightforward way to get there was to take the M25 into Sussex and turn back east along an A road. Sadly, the motorways were crowded, and although not nose to tail, the traffic was heavy and not pleasant.
It was some relief to turn off at the next junction and head down a winding, picturesque road which passed through woods, wonderful villages and rich farmland. We followed the signs down ever narrower roads and lanes, until we saw signs for the car park and the house itself.


Being members, we did not have to pay for the car park, although we did have to hunt for our window sticker to show we were in fact members. And then onto the entrance and we were in.

The gardens were very fine indeed, the house a little understated from the outside, but set with fine views over the Kentish Weald. After wandering around a while, dark black clouds rolled in and the light darkened. We decided to head for something to eat, and so we walked back to the entrance and Jools went and got lunch; two brie and red onion marmalade sandwiches at £5.50 a pop.I know these places have to make money, but that is clearly ridiculous. We do, however, know the prices these places charge, and we could have brought our own food, but didn't. So, next time we had better bring a packed lunch!

Back round the garden, and into the kitchen garden, which was a delight, filled as it was with lots of unusual plants; boysenberries, youngberries, Japanese Wineberries and so on. I snap away.

Japanese Wineberries

As we take in the scene, with seemingly the whole of Kent in view as the land fell away before us, dark clouds rolled back in, and we took the decision to head back, as the light wasn't good enough for photography at other houses, and to be honest, I was cream-crackered.


Time then, once home, for a coffee and a very generous slice of limoncello and grappa tart, and then alls well with the world, as we are joined by our happy cats, happy in that they knew it was dinner time.

Friday, 8 July 2011

Saturday 9th July 2011

It is two minutes past six on a Saturday morning, and I've been awake two hours. It is now breakfast time and I am cooking bacon sandwiches, or rather the bacon that goes inside them. The rain which has been falling all night has stopped, and the sun is beginning to shine through, and the forecast is for a fine day.

This week has been a typical week; get up, breakfast, work, come home, cook dinner, go to bed: x 5. Nothing very dramatic, really. The cats have been fine; jools and i have been fine. It's been fine.

The weather has been cool, and it has either been rainy or windy in the evenings, and so we have not gone walking down the hedgerows, and so no photographs were taken either, which means this will be a un-illustrated blog. But, we have been happy enough, the evenings have been spent either beading or editing photographs, but to bring an air of mystery to proceedings, I won't say which one of us did which hobby.

And the latter part of the week has been spent, with moth agape as the latest news from the News of the World phone hacking scandal broke. This story, is very old, and has been ignored by most newspapers and media outlets, until it was revealed that a detective employed by the paper hacked into the phone of the then still missing Milly Dowler. Not only that, they listened to the messages and deleted some when the mail box got full; thus making her parents think there was a chance she was alive.
The next day it turned out that the phones of those killed, and their families, in the 7th of July attacks in London were also hacked. and the day after that the phones of some who were killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, and their families were hacked too. 4,000 numbers are on the detective's files. And the investigation continues. In addition, it turned out that NOTW paid Metropolitan Police officers over £100,000 for information regarding cases.
Lets be clear, all of this is illegal, and the editors and detectives have been re-arrested, and an urgent inquiry is being launched as to the corrupt police officer's identities.
So quickly did public and political opinion turn against the 168 year old Sunday paper, that News Corps announced it's closure; although this may have already have been planned.
The fact that the NOTW's editor at the time of the hacking, and now a senior News Corps executive is keeping her job whilst two hundred journalists and printers are being sacked has still to be explained. All this is undermining News Corps position in Britain, and rather than be able to take over Sky TV, it may be forced to sell it's 29% stake, as in James Murdoch's words, the NOTW was running wild for years, and how can News Corps really claim with any sincerity that it could run a TV company properly whilst staying within regulations if it didn't spot the gross misconduct being carried out at the NOTW?

All heady stuff, and stuff that might bring change and even proper journalism back to the red tops, rather than celebrity muck-raking.

Or not.

Anyway, more on another day.

Today, we are heading to Chartwell, where Winston Churchill used to live for photography and general non-working stuff.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Sunday 3rd July 2011

Welcome to the Sunday afternoon of the soul.

There is something about Sundays, sunny Sundays, sunny, summer Sundays which mean relaxing in the garden watching the birds and insects whilst sipping on a pint of homebrew. That being taken after having eaten a big bowl of gooseberry crumble made with gooseberries from our very own garden. Something very satisfying about that.

The sun is still shining, a new name is on the Wimbledon trophy, and once more that name is not British. Better luck next year, Andy. I have watched just an hour of this year's tournament, and as much as I enjoy it to a point, its hard to engage.Or hard for me to. The serve and volley of the modern game is just not entertaining, doubly so when carbon-fibre rackets are used and the balls pings around at 130 mph.

Saying that, there are 41 days to the start of the football season, 34 if your team is in the football league. Or if you're a Fulham fan, your season began last Thursday with a Europa League game. It's almost an all year round game, but not quite.


After work, and once we had eaten dinner, we headed off for an evening's constitutional, along the byways around our neighbourhood. Along the track that continues along from the end of our road, always on the watch for butterflies and moths. I got a couple of good shots of bugs. As the sun went down, casting a fine golden light over everything, we turned and headed to the village to call in the Red Lion for a pint. But once again, we didn't get what you would call a warm welcome. We sat down in the corner, drunk our beer and left, heading down the hill beside the road back home.

Up at the crack of dawn, or two hours past dawn if the truth be known, to head down to the station to catch the first high speed train into London town, as we had a date with an old lady called Oliver, and we mustn't be late!

70013 Oliver Cromwell: The Norfolkman, Pudding Mill Lane July 2nd 2011

Once at St Pancras, we headed to the front of the station to see if we could get soe breakfast; we found an Italian place of the same chain we had used when we were in Chester, and so sat down and ordered light breakfast and coffee and looked around from our table at with the majesty of the train shed spread out before us, and a scattering of Eurostars waited in line for their next duties.

Time to make our way to the East End and near to where to Olympics are going to be held for our date. We headed down onto the Underground to Liverpool Street and then onto Stratford, a walk over the station to the DLR station, down one stop and to Pudding Mill Lane.

Yes, we had gone all the way across London to see a steam train go powering by. We joined to other spotters there with their cameras; we exchanged news of the train, whether it was on time or had already passed on her way to Liverpool Street to pick up the passengers. It had. And now we waited, hoping that Oliver Cromwell would not pass when a DLR train was in the station, as then, only those who arrived really early would see as only their little bit of platform offered unobstructed views of the tracks.

While we waited we looked at the huge construction site the other side of the tracks, as the Olympic park rises from the wasteland of East London. Most venues are now being completed, just some finishing touches, whilst the roads, railways and the like are now being built. It is going to be an amazing place once completed for sure.

I was practising my panning shots, following a unit as it headed into London, when as it turned towards Bethnal Green, Oliver Cromwell was on the next line to it, and I got her as her nose came into view. The camera whirred as I took a constant stream of shots as she powered towards us. As she neared, the driver opened the regulator and a cloud of black smoke left her chimney. And she was on us, and then, just as quick, leaving in the direction of Stratford and away.

70013 Oliver Cromwell: The Norfolkman, Pudding Mill Lane July 2nd 2011

It was worth it. Honest.

Less tan a minute later, a DLR unit arrived; we climbed on and headed into Docklands towards Canada Square and then onto Limehouse, where it was our plan to follow the Regent Canal all the way back to St Pancras, some 5 miles.

We climbed down the steps from the station and right away saw the signs pointing the way to the towpath walk. We walked down the busy Commercial Road, soon passing over the canal, we take to steps down to the path beside the lock, and already the noise of the modern world receded. To the south, beyond the lock was a basin, with boats of all shapes and sizes tied up; canal narrowboats, cruisers, old fishing boats. And an all sides were modern apartment buildings, with fine views over the canal and the boats.

We turned round and headed up the canal towpath. As you might expect, there was a lot of trash in the canal, from bikes to traffic cones, but the water was clean enough to see to the bottom, and on occasion a fish, some big carp, could be seen swimming.

Regent Canal, London

The canal ran through Tower Hamlets, Mile End, Hackney, Haggerston and onto Islington. All along the canal, smart new apartment blocks mixed with old warehouses and other industrial buildings. It went under railways, roads and through busy boroughs, always going about its own serine business.

Or it would have been serine had it not been for the joggers and cyclists. I am sure finding somewhere to exercise where its safe is hard in London, but cyclists bombing along, gaggles of joggers hogging the towpath meanth that you were in a constant state of alertness in case you were about to be mown down, doubly so when you went under an old canal bridge as the path was only half as wide there.

Mile End, London

As we reached Haggerstone, it was just gone midday, the sun was hot, and we were thirsty and our feet aching; we climbed up the steps at a bridge to find a pub; this we did, and as well as nice cold beer and cider we had a huge plate of nachos to shre; there was some good music playing, and it would have been so easy to have stayed in there longer and not got back to the walking.

We did head back out, and onwards along the canal. It was still busy, and once in Islington, the canal went into a tunnel, and as there was no path, we had to go through the centre of the borough and try to find the canal the other side.

Old Ford Lock, Regent Canal, London

The signs stopped, and we were confronted with the A1 road, all four lanes of it, and hoards of shoppers on either side and no idea which road to head down. Jools spotted the Angel Tube station, and we decided for the last few hundred yards to let the train take the strain. It was just one stop, but worth the cost, and soon we were back under the great roof of St Pancras with 55 minutes to kill. We went to the newly opened pub at the back of the station to cool off with more beer and watch the world go by. It was a good choice.

Meadow Brown Butterfly

At four we walked to the Southeastern platforms and climbed on the air conditioned train and waited for the departure. Soon we were being whisked through the tunnels under north east London, and then onto the marshes of southern Essex, under the Thames and back into Kent.

Marbled White Butterfly

Back home then by six, and time to order a takeaway from our favourite Chinese place, and then chill out after another one of them great, great days.

Small White Butterfly

A bit of a lay-in this morning, and once up, out for a walk along the cliffs to try to snap some orchids and some butterflies. In the end in the hour it took to walk from South Foreland to Fan Bay and back, I had snapped 5 species of butterfly and got some nice shots of pyramidal orchids, and a walk along the white cliffs on a warm summer's day is never a bad thing to do. France was visible 23 miles away, and the ferries were hurrying across, skylark's song filled the air; all was well with the world.

Small Copper Butterfly on Pyramid Orchid

And then back to reality as we had to go grocery shopping. All I will say is it wasn't so bad as it could have been; although if you wanted stuff for a bbq you were out of luck. And all strawberries were sold out too; something to do with Wimbledon too I guess.

The Ultimate Hummingbird Hawk Moth series

And then back home for lunch, and then sit in the garden to marvel at the scene. And for me to snap the hummingbird hawk moth some more, this time getting some really good shots, with lots of detail.

And finally; chores, cooking, ironing, washing up. It is now evening, time for a shower and early to bed, as tomorrow is a school day.