Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Monday 30th August 2011

Tuesday; Market Day in Kings Lynn. And back to work for the rest of the UK. Or those not involved in the service industry who had to work regardless.

Of course, being Britain, and being a Bank Holiday, being the late summer bank holiday, we weather wasn’t really very good. Not that we would be surprised; even in 1976, the hottest hot summer we ever had, it poured on the bank holiday. We had our fair share of rain this year too; but, saying that, just about all fields have been harvested round our house, just like it would have in a really ‘hot’ summer. It’s just that we haven’t had much wall to wall sunshine days I guess.

Sunday morning came round and we headed to The Pines, a garden in St Margaret’s. Being a rural local, the £3 entrance fee was deposited in an ‘honesty’ box. And right away there was a pond at waist level, and flitting around was a big dragonfly. We had come down because my good friend, Gary, had been down here last week and snapped several species. And so I thought we should head down too.

The dragonfly, a Common Darter, was looking for places to lay her eggs. As she moved round the front of the pond, I was able to get some stunningly clear shots as she worked her way round.

Laying eggs

The garden is rather wonderful, and makes its way up the valley that cuts through the chalk of the cliffs. Being deep down between the cliffs and surrounded by tall trees, even on a blustery day there is little wind to disturb the butterflies and dragonflies. I took a seat by another small pond and watched brightly coloured dragonflies, red-veined darters, flit around. I thought I stood little chance in snapping them, as soon as I saw one settle, I would make to raise my camera, the dragonfly would see my movement and fly away. As I made to leave, a single red-veined darter settled on a reed right below where I was standing. I raised my camera and snapped.

Red-veined Darter

I joined Jools on a bench beside the large pond, and we watched a huge Emperor Dragonfly sweep over the surface of the pond, sweeping round a tree to our left and then swooping down again in the search of insects. We could have stayed there all day. In time we headed home via the village shop; I got some fresh rolls for lunch and then we went home to eat.

We spent the afternoon doing chores and then settling down with cat on lap to watch the football; Manchester Utd v Arsenal. By now you will know the result, 8-2, but it was heady stuff, even for a neutral. It probably felt different for Gooners though. As soon as the game finished, I popped the joint of beef in the oven, prepared the vegetables and made the Yorkshire Pudding.

Red Underwing Moth, Catocala nupta


And so to the big day itself: Bank Holiday Monday. More chores, no football, lots of photographic stuff, chores in and around the garden, making 12 bottles of elderberry wine, of the beginning of the process anyway. We went for a walk along the lane at the end of the road on the hunt for more butterflies. It was too windy and cool really. We went to see the pigs in the woods, marvelled at the size of the sows, but there were no piglets anymore; now sausages and chops we guessed.

And there was the mice.

And the sparrow.

Since the passing of Little Girl, we have allowed the cats to come and go through the house even at night. There has been some minor issues, but nothing serious. Anyway, in the early hours of Monday morning Molly woke us up with a curious meow. Its her ‘I’ve caught something for you and want you to see how clever I am and for you to tell me’ meow. It’s amazing that an owner can read so much into a simple meow. But, even in a deep sleep we know what that meow means. I jump up and see the mouse, and imagine my surprise when it made a run for it. I managed to grab it’s tail and take it to the back door and deposit it in the hedge, still alive and complete with the right amount of legs and ears.

Back to bed and just as I’m about to fall back asleep, her comes Mulder wanting attention and/or food. Yes, yes Mulder, nice cat. I take him to the kitchen and give him a bowl of kibbles and close the door between the kitchen and living room and close the window through which Mulder and Molly will only now use to enter and leave the house. I was not taking into account the limbo abilities of said cats, as when Jools went downstairs at six, Mulder was waiting at the bottom of the stairs for more food.

And Scully was staring at the cooker. I mean really staring, not blinking, her cat senses all tingling. Another ‘present’ had escaped the jaws of a cat and was now sheltering. After our walk Scully was staring at the rack of records. And then she began to pull the records out in order to get to the mouse. We removed the rest of the records, and the shelving but there was no mouse.

And then the mouse made a dash for it, under the other record rack on the other side of the room. Thanks to evolution it’s tail was sticking out from the shelves and using a finger and my opposable thumb I pulled the mouse out and took that mouse to the hedge too.

I sat down to watch some Futurama on TV, and soon got the feeling I was being watched. I looked round and saw a mouse under the fire. It’s screwed in and no chance of getting to the mouse. However, it too made a dash for it, and pursued by Scully was cornered by the other, other record rack. And then it tried to get under the door to the kitchen. Quicker than Scully I reach down and make a grab for the mouse. And I get it, and it does not bite me. That too is taken to the hedge for another chance at life.

Between this there was the sparrow. Mulder brought in a feathery gift, a ‘dead’ sparrow. It lay between his paws, on its back feet pointing to the sky. Or ceiling. I grab it’s feet before the feeding begins. And it started to chirp and flap. I dropped it in surprise and ended up chasing the sparrow round the living room closely followed by Mulder and Scully.

Oh, what fun.

I make another grab for the sparrow under the rocking chair, and once again beat the cats to it. I take it to the front door and let it go. It does manage to fly away, and make it to a bush hopefully out of any cat’s view.

Hot stuff

We were sitting on the patio later, drinking coffee when I spot movement out of the corner of my eye; another more stupid mouse was making a break for it sauntering from the hedge one side of my garden to the other. Taking all the time in the world. I go over, pick it up and place it in the other hedge as Scully comes wandering up.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Sunday 28th August 2011

Hello and good morning. Fancy a cup of coffee? I'll put the pot on the brew.

Sit down and make yourself comfortable and I'll begin....

Thursday evening, after work, we headed down to St Margaret's Bay to the Coastguard for dinner. We had a reserved table, we ordered a drinks and a bottle of vino to go with our meal of fish and chips followed by a cheeseboard and a large malt for me.
As we left, the sun was setting and the lights in France could just be seen.

And so to Friday. I was awake early for reasons I can't put my finger on, and ended up heading into work before six in the morning and was at my desk before half past.

And at half two, I turned the laptop off and wrapped up for the weekend. And even better, its a holiday weekend, so three days off.

Up at the crack of dawn, literally as the sun rises at about six, and we had to be out of the house and on our way to the railway station before quarter past so to catch the train to London. Again.

We had time to park the car, get our tickets and by then the train had pulled in; so we climb the bridge onto the bay platform and board the high speed train. Right in time we head out; alongside the Channel until we're through Folkestone, up alongside the M20 to Maidstone, then through the north downs tunnel, over the Medway to Ebbsfleet, under the Thames, through the Essex and then into the tunnel to Stratford. all in 57 minutes from Dover.

We get out and walk to the shuttle bus; we were treated to fine views of the Olympic Village, which looks nearly complete, of well on the way to be. On our way to the DLR station, we grab a coffee and a lamb samosa from a stall in the foot tunnel at the station.
The train was empty, and so we grab front seats of the train, and as its driverless, we get a fine view as we had towards Canary Wharf.

Approaching Canary Wharf

We get off and head down the escalators into the foyer below; I risk taking a shot whilst security guards mill round. I got away with it. We go outside and I snap away more freely, although some of my friends had been stopped here before. Once again I had no problem. It was a fine morning, quite cloudy, but ok for photography. We walk from dock to dock, each now surrounded by towers of glass and steel, and in-between places to cater for the rich bankers; restaurants with £500 bottles of wine and the such. Anyway, all was closed, as all finance places are at weekends. And it was just us and the fishermen dangling worms into the water that had full run of the place.

Time for photography.

after a while we head back to Canary Wharf and head to the riverside to catch a clipper to the city centre. Clippers are just about the quickest way to get to the main locations along the river; jet powered boats that whisked us fro docklands to London Bridge in ten minutes. Apart from the passing cityscape on both sides we had a group of Amish tourists to watch and wonder about their heiratical structure as some women had different coloured scarves on and dresses, whilst the men seemed to be able to wear almost normal clothes.

We walk along the riverside and snap The Shard, soon to London's tallest building, now looking almost complete, at least from the outside, and now beside it, another block, the Place is beginning to grow upwards.

The Shard and The Place, London Bridge

We have brunch at a place beside The Clink, and at which point Jools heads her way to beadshops in soho and I head to Blackfiars to snap the new station and bridge being built before heading to St Pancras to meet up with a friend as we were going to Chelsea to see the game vs Norwich in the afternoon.

Blackfiars Station and Bridge

I had not been watching the clock, and realised I was going to be late as I looked for a tube station, so I flag down a cab in Fleet Street and arrive at the station just in time. Or so I thought. I walk down to the Betjeman Arms, a new pub in the corner of the station. I fight my way through the Rugby League supporters round the bar and get a pint and take up a seat on the station where I can see the arrivals and hopefully flag my friend Mark down.

I wait. I drink my pint. I buy another pint. I drink the second pint. Outside it rains and clears the streets. Twenty five past twelve, I decide its time for me to head to Chelsea and maybe bump into Mark there.

Once near the ground, I find an Irish bar where there was a good chance of getting served, I order a pint of Caffreys and phone my City supporting friends to find where they are. we swap news and hopes for the afternoon. A guy and his son overhear my conversation and does not mind I support City, and we talk and swap news on our teams; all good stuff really.

One on one

I walk to the ground, taking shots of the crowd as I go. I get into the ground, snap the stadium and go back to the concourse and grab a smoothie(!) and then another pint. I watch the end of the Villa?Wolves game on TV; a 0-0 draw! So, with about half an hour before kick off i go up to my seat, take some shots of the players warming up, and then settle down to take in the atmosphere.

The game, was not a classic, but City play well enough; well enough to maybe have snuck a win; but with ten minutes to go, our keeper is sent off, Frank scores the penalty and we slip to a 3-1 defeat. Nothing to be ashamed of, and lots of positives.

And then outside at the full time whistle, for the crush onto the tube to get back to St Pancras to get the train back home. Jools was waiting, which was just as well as the clouds had burst and sent down a real rain that had washed all sorts from the streets, just like Travis said it would.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Thursday 25th August 2011

And hello.

Upon my return from work on Tuesday, Jools was waiting, the deed had been done. In truth we know it was for the best, and that she is now at peace and pain free. Even still, I half-expected to see Little Girl come in, meowing for whatever she might have needed. We never did really guess most of the time, maybe it was for attention, or sweetmeats in aspic. But, she is gone, and now, because of her urination violations, we can leave the bathroom door open and we are conducting trials in letting the cats have full nocturnal roaming rights in the house. All that has happened in the last two nights has been Mulder demanding attention in the wee small hours; we think he’ll settle down in time.

So, yesterday, I had to head up to London village for a course in Greenwich. And it was a very dark half past four when the alarm went off, and after breakfast Jools dropped me off at the station and by six I was speeding through the Kentish countryside in a shiny new train heading to London. I got off at Stratford, and after walking through the station admiring the Olympic village and all the wonderful buildings, got on a DLR train towards Canary Wharf and the Thames and then onto Greenwich beyond.

Although even now writing this, it sounds wonderful, commuting into London in the rush hour is no fun really, and standing on the crowded train, all I saw was potential photographic opportunities. And everywhere were people heading to work, or already there, working away.

So, by the time I get off the train in Greenwich, it is raining; I look for a café, swanky or even a greasy spoon, but nothing doing. So, I head to the hotel where the course is being held, register for the course and take breakfast there instead. Despite all the naughty goodies of an English fry-up being available, I have a huge bowl of fruit salad and yoghurt followed by a crispy brown roll and lots of coffee.

The hotel is in one of the wings in the old Naval College, and is wonderful and historic; outside the lecture room was Hardy’s tomb; it was kismet. The course, however, was anything but interesting. Appreciation of ISO 9001. I’ll let you Google it and see for yourself. I did stay awake, although my concentration went at about three in the afternoon and did my best to look interested and awake until five and time to go home.

Back through crowds of tourists whose only job seemed to be to slow me down and generally be in the way. I really wanted to stay and snap away, as the weather was by now glorious. But my desire to head home, see Jools and the other cats, have dinner, a shower and head to bed was stronger.

Back on the DLR and crowds packed in like sardines; change at Canary Wharf, onto another crowded carriage and back to Stratford. On the world’s shortest bus trip to the International Station and then wait until the next train to Dover. The boredom was shattered by passing Eurostars thrashing through the station at 170mph; now that is impressive.

I get a seat on the train back home, and settle down to watch the countryside slide by in the glow of a late-summer’s evening. Jools was waiting for me in Dover, and we head home and have a luxurious meal of baked beans on toast and two, yes two, cups of tea. And then settle down on the sofa with Scully to watch the Arse play in Europe. I stayed awake, and then as soon as the final whistle went, I headed back up the stairs to bed.


And today is the anniversary of my birth, and after work we are heading down to the Coastguard pub for a meal and some whisky. Can’t wait.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Tuesday 23rd August 2011

A short post today, not much else to say.

I was not entirely honest when I said the other day not much happening in the world of cats; Little Girl had not been well, but we did not really guess how ill until Sunday, really.

I picked her up, as I usually do at bedtime to take her into the kitchen. I picked her up and cradled her with her chest resting in my forearm. She panicked, badly. she could not breathe.

As we looked the next morning, we could see her breathing shallow and quickly and through her mouth. Not a good sign for a cat. Jools took her to the vet yesterday, and the prognosis was not good; an aggressive tumour causing water in her body cavity, pressing on her lungs and other organs.

Take her home, make her comfortable and bring her back tomorrow.

We did.

She was happy enough, although shattered and fell asleep with her face in the carpet again. I fed her this morning, and she ate well but collapsed again. I bid her farewell, and went to work.

Jools took her to the vets and after a while she fell asleep. And she was at peace.

And thats all I have to say about that.


Sunday, 21 August 2011

Sunday 21st August 2011

Its funny isn't it? We spend the whole working week looking forward to the weekend, when we can laze around all day, lay in bed 'till midday and generally slob things around the clock.
And yet once again this morning I found myself awake at five this morning, answering the pleas of Molly for breakfast; so I fed the rest of the clan too. Or those that were present. I tried to go back to sleep, but the pale light of dawn attracted my eyes; so I got up, went downstairs, made a pot of coffee and watched last night's Match of the Day, and took up position on the sofa.

The sun climbed into the sky, and clouds came along and covered it. We did some work in the garden, and then went off in the car to visit Walmer Castle to look at the plants and flowers they have there.

It is a tiresome journey of nearly ten minutes to the gate of the castle, and then an arduous drive of 200 yards to the car park and a trek of some two minutes to the entrance where we flash our membership cards to gain entry.


Pictures of Lilly

So we head to the ornamental pond to see if there were any dragonflies to snap; there were a few, but just damselflies, and too small and quick to have a chance to snap in flight. We walk round the gardens, to the kitchen garden to see the produce all looking ripe and delicious. The most amazing thing was the artichoke in bloom, looking very much like a huge thistle, because that is just what it is, apparently. The insects did not care as they loved the blooms and the bees were leaving just covered in pollen.

We head to the cafe for a drink and end up having cream teas. A cream tea is tea (no kidding) and a scone. Simple? No, not simple, because each scone is accompanied by a small dish with a pat of butter, another with strawberry jam and another with clotted cream.

The begins the ceremony of cutting the scone, applying the butter; ice cold to make this as difficult as possible; spreading the jam and finally, the cream. Stir the tea in the pot, put milk in the cup, and pour the tea.

And now munch, munch, slurp, munch, munch, slurp, slurp, aahhh.

Back into the gardens for another look round, but the crowds had now arrived and so we head back home.
In the afternoon I cook two small racks of lamb, sautéed potatoes with fresh raspberry jus, fresh corn and fried onions. As good as it sounds my friends.

and then the football.

Norwich draw 1-1, failing to win thanks to an equaliser in the 94th minute; Man City win 2-3 at Bolton, and that is that.

we have just made a litre of tomato purée with the excess garden produce, and after a hectic weekend we are going to relax for the evening.


Saturday, 20 August 2011

Saturday 20th August 2011

First of all, Molly news.

She is fine, the wound has nearly healed and she has brought us:

a wren (dead)

A vole (alive)

A mouse (alive at first, then dead)

A liver from animal unknown

Various bird parts

She is doing fine, full of the joys of life, just like the last three weeks never happened.

Anyway, cats apart, life is still good. Or, life, cats included, is still good.

The road to Kit's Coty

Friday ticked round slowly, until half three when i had to have a conference with my boss. That took 50 minutes, and so the weekend began late, 20 minutes late. So, into the teatime traffic and head back to Dover and our house on the cliffs. Jools has next week off and so had to work late to clear her desk, and so she did not leave until gone six. So, it was late when we sat down to dinner listening to John Cooper Clarke on Radio 4; God I love the BBC.

So, Saturday, we head out in the car just gone eight to find Kit's Coty; a neolithic burial mound, although the mound has gone, there are some bloody large stones left.
So, we park at the bottom of the hill, and since Jools had studied some maps we did find the path up the hill through the trees.

Kit's Coty

And at the top of the hill was Kit's Coty. It was built in the 5th century after a battle on the plain below. It is a stunning location; I snapped it and snapped it good.

We then drove to Tonge to the home brew shop to get some stuff in order to make some elderberry wine. We buy a fermentation bucket, yeast, corks, a corker and all the other stuff we needed.
And back along the old A2 as we headed towards Sheppy. Past the huge car boot 'fair' and then turn down the narrow bumpy track over the marshes towards Harty. We park up and go for a walk to hunt for butterlies; we see a few and some dragonflies, some I manage to snap, some I don't.


By now it's half twelve and well past opening time; so we head to the Ferry Inn and order ploughmans and drinks and then sit outside as the rest of Kent seems to be arriving for a wedding. Our meals arrive, and so we chomp away whist people watching; dogs got lost in hedges, and guests for the wedding tottered past on stupidly high heels and others in ill-fitting suits.

Time then to head home, whilst listening to the Arse getting their butts kicked by Liverpool. Once home Jools heads out to the garden and after looking at my shots, I start to make another Christmas cake.

and then Ipswich lose 7-1 on TV.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Tuesday 16th August 2011

So, cat update.

When I say cat update, I mean Molly update.

So, after work yesterday, I took a hissing ball of fur, in a cat-proof box, to the vets in Whitfield. I was hoping that if I arrived early enough we might get seen earlier and be back home quick. But no, we waited and waited whilst other cats and dogs were seen. And so I was subjected to wall to wall advertising on the practice’s TV channel, or what was probably a simple computer program. So I now know about dog lung worm, canine tooth hygiene and so on, and it was some relief when we were called into the room to see the vet.

Come here, Sofa Boy

At this point Molly tried to burrow under the towel, but the new kitty box is designed to the lid can come off and lift said unhappy mog right out. So, Molly now cowering on the table, the vet looks at wound, takes scab off, washes wound and gives Molly a jab. Seems that the scab should be removed wherever possible to allow air to get to it. The healing process is almost complete, although it doesn’t look like it. Now that she has had a jab, she can go back out, which is a relief to us and the furniture.

Back home, and open the door to the box, Molly suspects something, and just sits. And then goes into the kitchen and decides its time for dinner. I stroke her as she eats. And then, with a jump she runs outside and we have not seen her since! We assume she came back for breakfast after we left for work. We won’t worry about that now until this evening, as we now know she is prone to staying out as long as she wants.


Jools headed off to yoga, and my friend Gary comes round and we go hunting butterflies; but the sun was hidden behind a cloud and with the breeze there were none where I had snapped loads at the weekend. So, we snapped what was there; hover flies, and head back to the house for a swifter of sloe gin; and mighty fine it was, as it is now nearly a year old.

Time enough for dinner, and being nearly eight, something light; cheese and beans on toast with a huge cuppa! Well, it may not be a la carte, but it hit the spot. I then sat down with Scully to watch the football on TV. She had meowed at six to let me know that my presence was required on sofa duty, but I had other plans for a while.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Sunday 14th August 2011

I love weekends, but hate the wooshing sound as they fly past!

And in a blink of the eye, the weekend was all behind, and the working week stretches in front like a huge stretchy thing. We did nothing much exciting; we were going to go and buy some home brew kit, but the weather did not get good enough for the walk on Sheppy that we had planned after. So, we had a walk along the lane after dinner, and after snapping some butterflies we came back. And, I took position on the sofa to listen to the football on the radio, as the Premier League season began this weekend.

Common Blue Butterfly

Norwich got off to an OK start, drawing away at Wigan, whilst QPR got hooped (ha) at home to Bolton. And until six this evening City were in forth place due to alack of goals and wins and alphabetical order. But then Man Utd got a late winner and duped us to 5th.

Little Girl...

Today, we baked a Christmas Cake, did the garden, began brewing some beer for Christmas and visited the old folks at Jools' Dad's. And after being given some cooking apples we went blackberrying and snapped more butterflies and insects and then prepared the apples and blackberries to be cooked so we can have crumble at some point.

Molly is restricted to just indoors again after knocking her scab off and the wound being as big as it was last weekend. A trip to the vet tomorrow is now planned as she has finished her medication. Other than the open wound on her neck, she is fine and back to her bouncy self again. But the wound is not going to get better with her outside. At least we have the new cat flap and she should be unable to get out.

Common Blue

In other sports news, England lost to Wales in the final warm up game for the Rugby World Cup; not good. Although as hard as I try, egg-chasing leaves me cold, and the fact that it annoys the Welsh and Scots that most Englishmen really don't give two figs about it only makes it worth following.
Much better was the cricket team, which thrashed India by an innings and 242 runs yesterday to be the best test team in the world. Sounds good, eh? But considering there are just 8 test teams in the world. In truth, it has been a glorious two years fro England; tour victories in South Africa and Australia means we have upset more colonials than since the time of Queen Vic,so it can't all be bad.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Thursday 11th August 2011

What is that I see hoving into view? Oh, it's the weekend! About time too. Thanks to a combination of cats, humidity and life in general means that I need sleep, a rest and whatever I can get.

First, update on Molly: she is back to her normal bouncy self. And the wound is healing quickly now. I am guessing its half its original size and looking a lot less angry. She is also making up for a week with no food by eating whatever and whenever she can, and best of all is still very loving. And has forgiven us for the trip to the vet, but not the two tablets we have to give her daily.

Yesterday we got on TV. well, kinda. A friend posted on FB that he had tickets for the filming of a TV in Dover Castle, was anyone interested? Yes, why not? So, after work and a quick dinner, we headed out to the castle; our name was on the list, and we stood around waiting for something television-y to happen. What I can tell you is TV is mainly lots of assistants running around, make up guys dropping make up brishes, and the 'talent' coming out from their trailers and reading stuff off autocues, waiting to see if the take was good and heading back for more otter's noses and ocelot's spleens in the green room.

BBC 'National Treasures' broadcast, Dover Castle, August 10th 2011

We were warned to take something warm; we should have taken fire, but a winter jumper should have been enough in August. But the wind did blow and the sun got low and we all did shiver.

Come half seven and broadcast time, I had had enough, and after the intro was filmed and the 'talent' headed off to different parts of the castle, we headed out back to the car and home: where first a cuppa and then two wee drams helped warm the swonicles.

BBC 'National Treasures' broadcast, Dover Castle, August 10th 2011

The big news this week has been the riots; initially set off by the shooting of a guy with a replica gun in the back of a taxi in Tottenham, but spreading to other parts of London and then England as people saw an opportunity to smash things and loot stores of designer clothes and jewellery.
But why, the papers and politicians ask? Because we put such an emphasis on the value of things, not just whether something is just good. By a top, plain? No, instead buy one for six times the price with this huge unattractive logo on it. That you can't afford it makes it even more desirable!
So, harsher sentences for the rioters, less money for the police, and this is what our glorious leader tells us will fix things. We shall see.

And now the weekend looms; the Premier season is about to begin, and Norwich are to be tested against the might that is Wigan. A game we could win; maybe should win. The fun starts here.......

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Tuesday 9th August 2011

I am aware that I did not mention Molly in my last post. Or not much.

Well, Molly is in good health, apart from the wound on her neck, and seems to have accepted her restrictions, staying in the house for now. Or, that was until this morning. There is a chance that she managed to find a way out of the house before we left the house for work. She certainly could not be found, but then she could just be hiding. We shall see when we get home.
That apart, the wound in not drying out as we hoped, and if she is inside when we get back, we will make another appointment to see a vet to see if it can be dressed.

Saturday night she slept all the way through, just demanding occasionally a stoke or cuddle. Sunday night, she was a bit hyper, as I think she slept most of the day, and with the thunder storm outside and high humidity meant she was climbing the curtains instead of sleeping. And then having reached the ceiling, jumping onto the bed. Oh, it is funny now, but at half two in the morning, it wasn’t.

I just have to mention that these past two days, when sitting at my desk overlooking the harbour, on the horizon I can see France. It is unusual for it to be clear enough to see the French coastline from here, but with the rain we have had, it has washed the dust from the atmosphere and we can see for miles and miles. The sea is an azure blue, and the yachts racing just outside the harbour mouth look wonderful.

It seems appropriate, as the 1980s are in vogue again, what with a conservative government, strikes, a recession, high unemployment and so on, that riots would complete the picture. And so now on the news we have scenes of shops and homes going up in smoke, youths throwing rocks at the police and TV crews. And it is spreading. It is now time for Birmingham, Bristol and Liverpool to burn, not just London. The original reason for demonstrations is being lost, and now it is destruction and looting just for their sake. There are calls for more police or the Army on the streets, which makes the cuts to the police and armed forces a trifle unfortunate. Sporting events are now being cancelled as there is not enough police to patrol the streets and the stadiums. What happens if riots kicks off next summer when the Olympics are on? Doesn’t bear thinking about.

Two years ago today, Norwich began their first campaign in the 3rd tier of the Football League for some 49 seasons. City had won all of their pre-season games, plenty of players had been signed, good noises were being made by the then manager Bryan Gunn. The fans gathered for the first game of the season, a home game against Colchester United, expecting an cake walk, the first of 46 such cake-walks that would take us straight back the Championship. By half time, Norwich were 5-0 down, and in the end lost 7-1; the heaviest ever home defeat in 109 years. I remember listening to the radio, hearing some pundit saying maybe Norwich could recover and win promotion even after that defeat. It seemed unlikely.
In the aftermath of that, Norwich were the leading story on every sports bulletin on TV and radio, the goals were showed over and over again. As was film of two season ticket holders throwing their tickets at the manager in the dugout. Six days later the manager was sacked, and Paul Lambert was recruited from Colchester of all teams.

Things did not improve right away, but by the end of September a new resilience was seen, late goals, hard work saw us climb the table, and by the turn of the year we were trailing just Leeds. The second half of the season went almost perfectly, as City won game after game, scoring later and later goals to win games from ever for unlikely positions. At one time we seemed to be doing it just to annoy the Leeds fans on WACCOE whose incredulous swearing as we won yet more games whilst their lead slipped and trailed by ever more points.
Promotion was secured in April on a fine, cloudless day at Charlton; once held up to be the way City themselves should be run. The dancing and drinking lasted until the end of the season.

During last summer, Lambert bought unspectacularly, but hopes were high for the new season. And then the first game happened; a straightforward home game against Watford in front of the TV cameras. City blew it and lost 2-3. I said in my blog, a new dawn faded. But, once again the wins began to come, as did the late goals. At the end of November, live on the BBC, the old enemy, Ipswich, was put to the sword 4-1 and we climbed nearer the automatic promotion spots.

We stayed there until March, and the final 10 games. In a rare showing of complete confidence in my team, I said that Norwich would get promoted as we had showed our nerve the previous season, and were best equipped to do the same again as the promised land hoved into view. Six games to go, and the old enemy came along, and at their place City went one better to win 5-1 and cement their place in 2nd place.

There were some hairy moments, well, just the one when City lost on TV to Swansea, but we recovered our nerve to gain a second successive promotion. There was more dancing and drinking. I went up to Norwich for the final game to do some drinking.

And now, this weekend another new season looms; City are predicted to go back to where they came from. Lambert has bought frugally early again. The squad went on a trip to Germany to train and bond, games were won.

My point for this is, no matter what happens this season, the past two years have been a wonderful ride, and we indeed have a dreadful season losing many, many games. But we have bought, once again, young and hungry players who have something to prove and are not afraid of hard work. Even if we get off to a good start and win a few games, Lambert will have the players feet on the ground working even harder. And if relegation comes, we have no expensive has-beens on sky-high wages to dump next summer.

In Paul Lambert we have probably the best young manager in the country, someone as ambitious as is needed to be the very best, and is never happy no matter how big the win, or how well the team has played. We may be dreadful, but the players will work hard and never give up, and with six proven goalscorers we may upset a few of the complacent teams.

Who knows, who knows?

Kick off, throw in, have a little scrimmage,
Keep it low, a splendid rush, bravo, win or die;
On the ball, City, never mind the danger,
Steady on, now's your chance,
Hurrah! We've scored a goal.
City!, City!, City

Pitch Invasion! Starring the fans of Norwich City

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Sunday 7th August 2011

After the drama and lack of sleep of the previous night, we laid in bed until nearly eight just listening to the outside world, and occasionally stroking Molly, who seems to be getting used to being an indoor cat once more.

The BBC said that today we would have unbroken sunshine, and so I left for the open day at Dover Coastguard with no coat and thought that the walk to the station from the car park would be pleasant. It was, but there were some very black clouds bubbling up.

Dover Castle from Upper Road

The coastguard station is along the clifftop road, just as it dips past the National Trust's place, and is only a five minute drive away. I parked in the field opposite, only to be told that to attend the 'free' event a parking fee of £3 would have to be paid. I had no change, as neither did they.


I walked along the road a bit, and was treated to wonderful views over the A2 to the castle beyond. It really is the finest view of the castle, especially when the sun shines.

Up the single track road to the station, more fine views, this time over the harbour and to Shakespeare beyond.

The black clouds were now heading our way, quickly, and so I grabbed a few shots before discovering that a helicopter was inbound to practice a cliff rescue. I took shelter next to the building and changed lenses and waited.

The helicopter came and hovered a few hundred yards away, it lowered two men, then a stretcher; and after a while winched one man back up, then the stretcher and the final guy together. all this time, the rain arrived and it was driven hard by a strong wind. But being in the lea of the building meant i stayed dry-ish, and I got my shots.

All there was left to do was to look round the building itself, culminating with a look down into the main control room. I ended up giving a talk on windfarms to an electrical engineering professor as the London array got mention and I said casually I worked on Thanet. Must learn to keep my mouth shut.

Back outside to look round the displays, I meet a couple of fiends, both photographers before I walk back to the car and a quick drive home in time for lunch. I quickly slice two huge tomatoes, and a couple of mozzarellas, drizzle some olive oil, crack open a bottle of home brew beer and a cider for Jools,and lunch was ready.

And that is today, really; as this afternoon i watched the Charity, sorry Community Shield. The football season bean this weekend with the Football League starting things off this week before we the Premier League big boys join in next week. Yes, because Norwich are indeed Premier League now; I checked next weekend's fixtures just to be sure. And we are there, playing Wigan at three on Saturday.
This is the beginning of 21 months of almost continuous football; even a footy lover like me admits this is way too much. After this season ends, we have the European Championship which dovetails into the beginning of next season and the Olympic tournament too.


Saturday, 6 August 2011

Saturday 6th August 2011: Return of the cat.

There have been times when this week has been hard, for three days and nights there was no further sign of molly; no meow, no footprints just a bump in the night that may or may not have been her coming in through the window.

Friday came, last day of work for the week. I left off a bit early, went to the butcher's and Tesco. Tired out we had pizza and beer for dinner, then planned our trip to Essex for the Saturday. Churches, market squares, bead shops and maybe a steam railway.

As the football season began this weekend, and the first game of the Football League season was on TV, I sat down to watch it, and at half time grabbed a shower so we could go to bed nice and early so we would be fresh for an nice and early start in the morning.

Jools was reading in bed, I came out of the shower, dried off, and went to walk down the hall to the bedroom. In the shadows there was a cat.


Molly? I said.


I turned on the light, and it took a couple of seconds for the energy saving bulbs to power up, but in time, Molly was illuminated.


She rolled on the floor showing her belly.


Jools got up and locked the cat flap so Molly could not make another quick exit. She came up to see if it really was Molly.

It was.

as she rolled on the floor, I saw a huge lesion on the side of her neck; there was no fur or skin in a 2 inch circle. She seemed unworried by it though.

I went down to the kitchen to get food and water, and Molly ate well and drank deeply. I stroked her as she ate, as I had done when she was a kitten, and Molly purred more and raised her tail even higher.

We called the vet, and made arrangements for us to go to Canterbury for an emergency appointment. Molly was not happy about going into a box, and sang to us all the way into Canterbury. The vet looked and suggested it had probably been an abscess, which had burst. It was now an old wound, too old to stitch, so she would have to heal naturally. She got shots and in time we were allowed to bring her home.

Molly (slightly damaged)

We can't let her out for a while, and our trip today is cancelled, but for great reasons. There's always another time. We let her stay in with us, and she prowled around on and off all night, with the occasion 'hello' meow she does. She laid with us, and purred as we stroked her. Almost like being back to normal.

Molly is back.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Wednesday 3rd August 2011

Tuesday, I printed so ‘missing cat’ posters; laminated them and once Jools had left to visit her friend, I went for a walk and put them up at various points around the neighbourhood. Before Jools left, we discussed the situation, and although it was possible Molly could come home any time, I accepted she was probably dead and we would almost certainly never know.

As I walked back home, the drizzle turned to more sustained rain, which matched my mood.

I sat down at the computer to process some photographs, and heard a meow.

That was Molly’s attention seeking meow I decided. And it was in the house.

I stood at the foot of the stairs and called her name. Nothing. I called again and there was another, quitter meow. Once against in the house.

I walked up the stairs and called again, there was a simper from the spare bedroom. I got on my hands and knees and looked under the bed; nothing. I turned my head and looked under the wardrobe, and there was Molly. All wide-eyed and full of panic.


I got up, went downstairs, grabbed a bowl of food and another of fresh water, took them up for her. She would not come from her alternative hiding place, the bedside table, so I pushed her food under and she ate quickly.
I went outside, closed the door and went to call Jools to let her know the good news.

I went back up, open the door, and she shoots out like a thing possessed. I follow in her wake down the stairs, out the kitchen just to see her bolt down the garden and out of site. She did not pause, break stride or look back.

And that is that. Molly is alive by very spooked, and very nervous about even coming inside. We have not seen or heard from her since, maybe this evening will bring another, less fraught meeting. But she is, at least, alive.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Monday 1st August 2011

Some 40 hours since we last saw Molly, and no sign. We live on the edge of the country, and quite frankly, anything could have happened. But, its the not knowing. Jools is beside herself, I'm a bit more pragmatic, thinking that she will saunter in at any moment just demanding to be fed. We thought we heard her meow this evening, but we were both mistaken.

News, as we get it.

So, Sunday, Molly had not been missing for long, and all cats do that from time to time, just go a wandering, so we went for a walk around the neighbourhood, or along the track at the end of our street, across some fields, along a couple of lanes, a walk through a wood and back across the fields and back home in an hour. Not bad.

It was good, I saw few butterflies, but to be in the English countryside, a riot of greens, golds and reds is wonderful enough. we wave to various horses and cows who think, quite rightly, who are those freaks?

Dover Castle

Back home we have lunch, and I notice a friend is leading a historical walk round the outside of Dover Castle that very afternoon. Sounds good, we respond via Facebook. My old boss sees my post and says he and his wife are coming down to Dover for the walk too!

Dover Harbour and the Western Docks

We quickly visit Tesco, rather than do it on a weekday evening, and get all we need for the week, including seed encrusted rolls for Sunday lunch.

And back out again at half one to meet up at the ruin of St James's Church for the walk.
We follow my friends Paul and Jeff for a bit, then we stop and listen to jeff talk. Walk a bit further and Jeff talks some more. And so on for over two hours at which point we have climbed to beside the castle and arrive at the Bleriot Memorial. Jeff tells us that he has made arrangements with English Heritage that we can walk down into the town through the castle. For free.

Dover Guided Walk 31st July 2011

This we do, where we stop at the world's most unhelpful ice cream kiosk, where they have:

No change.

No cones.

No tubs.

No siree.

Chalkhill Blues

We sit on the grass and watch children batter each other with wooden swords bought from the castle shop. It's interactive education!

We walk down through the castle, out through the traffic gate and down the hill and back to the car. Three hours, some exercise and lots of photographs and snaps of Chalkhill Blues too.