Monday, 27 February 2012

Monday 27th February 2012

And welcome to your working week.


And this Monday morning seemed to bear extra angst for us, as we have been away for the weekend, taking part in a beading class or taking photographs. No guessing who did what!

The weekend began at three o'clock when Jools picked my up outside the yard gates. I had gone to work on the train as she needed the car to take the cats to the cattery. As a reward for the early start on the train, I was treated to a wonderful sunrise from the cliffs as I got near to the office down by the harbour. The colours of the rising sun on the cliffs and buildings were just stunning. Just have a look at my pictures, which I have included here (I hope).

Rockley House, Devizes

So, once work was over with, we headed off up the Thanet Way towards London and the M25. Once again I won't bore you with the details of the traffic and how stressful it was, although jools did the driving. But, it wasn't as bad as it could have been, and soon enough we turned off onto the M3 and headed into the setting sun and towards Wiltshire.

Rockley House, Devizes

We crossed the border into Wiltshire as dusk fell, but we could see enough of the countryside to appreciate how special it was. I turned to Jools and said 'I 'kin LOVE Wiltshire!'

We arrived in Devizes and found the B&B easily because we had stayed there before; back in 2007 on our first trip away together, we stayed here, and the folks had just taken it over, and as we left asked we return once they had 'done the place up.' It took 5 years, but we did return.

The Crown, Devizes

After exchanging news with the owner, we headed out into the town to find a place to eat, and for me to sample the local beer, Wadworth's 6X, or which more about later.....

We stopped for a drink at the Bell on the Green, and asked about food, but they made it seem like it was too much trouble, so after downing our drinks, we headed off to find somewhere else more easier to please.

Devizes, Wiltshire

And we found it in the Crown, and despite from being very busy, they had a table and made time to take our order and get us more drinks. I had a hand-made burger and Jools had chicken supreme, both of which were very good indeed, and with drinks came to only £26.

Wadworth brewery, Devizes

And as we walked back, we could hear an owl mournfully hooting in a tree by the rugby club; and wonderfully even in the darkness we could make it out up in the top of the tree, looking around. A fine end to a working day.

Saturday dawned bright and warm. After a shower we went down for a huge breakfast of cereal, fruit, toast and , of course, bacon, egg, mushroom and sausage. And several cups of fine English breakfast tea.

Jools got in the car and headed off for her beading class, and i had the day to call my own. I set off into the town centre, stopping off at both of the parish churches, and then photographing all the pubs, hotels and other interesting buildings in the town.
At a quarter to eleven I made my way to the Wadworth brewery, as I had arranged a brewery tour for the latter part of the morning. The tour last two hours, and took in all parts of the brewing process, and full of details, as well as a fine look round the Victorian building.

Wadworth brewery, Devizes

And at the end of the tour, the best part: the beer tasting! We tried four different beers, and by the end my head was beginning to spin slightly. Better find a place for a bite of lunch! I headed towards the Kennet and Avon Canal. As the canal passes through Devizes, it begins to drop going through 5 locks; until it reaches the Black Horse pub, and there 18 locks, one after the other, carries the canal down to the floor of the valley below.

Caen Steps, Devizes

I had a brie and cranberry French stick, and another pint of 6X,and it being so warm sat in the beer garden beside the canal in the early spring sunshine. It was perfect, or would have been had it not been for the young couple behind taking loudly about being drunk the previous night and a series of 'accidents' on the way to the smallest room.

Two swans a swimming

It was with some relief as I drained my glass and I could leave the two young drunkards behind me. I headed off down the hill as i wanted to get a shot I missed last time I was there. Not sure how long the flight of locks are, but it took some time to get down to the bottom, get my shot and turn round and began to walk back up again.

Caen Steps, Devizes

By the time I got to the top of the hill, my feet were complaining, and I decided to head back for the guesthouse and maybe, if i was lucky, I would get a call from Jools offering to pick me up. Sadly, i got no call and so walked all the way back, and was fit for nothing other than to make a cuppa and lay on the huge bed and listen to the football on the radio.

That night we drove to the Wagon and Horses, a pub in the countryside near to Marlborough where I had booked a table. It was wonderful, we both had rack of lamb accompanied by fresh vegetables and onion rings, and then followed by a fine cheeseboard.

Sunday morning, after a repeat breakfast, we packed, loaded up the car and set off for Avebury. I had visited Avebury several times, but the conditions were never good, either raining or dusk was falling. This morning, it was bright but frosty. On the way I remembered that Silbury Hill was also nearby, and so we headed up the A4 towards Marlborough first.

Silbury Hill, Wiltshire

No one is really sure what the Hill was built for, but it clearly is man-made, and stands beside the road, and amongst more natural hills in the rolling countryside. It is visible from Avebury; maybe the two are linked; who knows?

We got our shots and headed back up the road to Avebury. Being still early we had the stone henge to ourselves, and so we got the shots we both wanted, wandered around the village which lies at the centre of the stone circle.

Avebury, Wiltshire

As we stood there, we could see more cars arriving, and so we made our way back to the car pak, and headed down some narrow lanes to RAF Lyneham to have a llok before the bases closes for good. It was still guarded, so any thoughts of getting inside went out of the window, and so we headed up to Wootton Basset, or Royal Wootton Bassett as it now known, and onto the M4 and then eastwards to home.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Waiting for the new wave

For the past few months, the BBC have been showing, in sequence, old Top of the Pops shows from 1976, one a week for the week they would have been shown 35 years ago. How wonderful you might think.

All that old glamour, the pop, the rock and the crap dancing. In truth, the British music scene by the the end of 1976 and in the early part of 1977 was tired, lumpen and mostly brown.

I say brown because brown was the colour of the 1970s, brown suits, brown stacked shoes and brown afros. Lots of afros. Not that in itself is a bad thing, but act after act of light reggae or ska backed by the drunken BBC orchestra, or Tina Charles doing Seaside Special disco-light, and the bussed in crowd shuffling around trying to like they are enjoying it as another crap singer-songwriter apologies for being so horrid, and afterwards, Tony Blackburn says how great it is to see that song in the charts at was one of my old records of the week.

Yeah, thanks Tone! Occasionally, Thin Lizzy or Status quo would appear and shake things up, but as they finish, Legs and Co dances onto stage, dressed in chiffon, and everyone's Dad adjusts their trousers.

Even worse than all that, is the glamour era bands. Sorry, let me go back and put glamour in quotation marks.

"Glamour". "Glam Rock.

Because nothing says glamour like a group of five brickies from Brum in eyeliner not having a clue what to do! And here is Gary Glitter in a gold lame suit, singing a three minute double-entendre, which in light of recent events, is very creepy indeed.

What makes this all so odd, is that in grubby clubs in Soho and Ladbrooke Grove and up in Manchester and wherever freaks gather, a new wave is building. It was called punk, but it would change into new wave, then no wave, then post-punk, but a new generation with nothing to say, but they were going to say it anyway, and say it loud, with guitars. And have fun doing it too.

In a few weeks, The Stranglers will become the first 'punk' bands to appear on TOTP, and the audience will stare like rabbits caught in a car's headlights and a real rock and roll band mime and loon around. Things would never be the same again, as a generation of teens and kids could feel the excitement through the TV and their parents would say 'they can't even sing'.

But that was the point really.

Thursday 23rd February 2012

Spring has sprung.

Well, for a couple of days. Two weeks ago it was minus 17 degrees and today it got to over plus 18. And in the greenest of green offices where I work, with poor ventilation, the temperatures soared to uncomfortable levels. And to make it worse, my boss is down, and we had a meeting for three hours this morning, and conducted an audit during the afternoon.

I just wanted to head to the pub for a tall frosty one. Heck, i still want that now. I left work at ten past five, heading right into the setting sun, I had the windows open and the warm spring air flowed in; lovely.

And it might stay the same tomorrow, and then change just in time for the weekend to begin. As usual. But, this weekend we are on our travels, this time to deepest, darkest Wiltshire, as Jools has an art class, and I will take lots of photographs. And have a brewery tour, drink beer and take more photographs.

So, at about three we will head off up to the M25 and join the great traffic jam as we head west. It should be OK; we shall see.

The good news this week, is that the project director on the next two projects has agreed to add me to the management personnel, and so my place is secure; or, as secure as it can be these days.

*dances a tired jig of joy*

So, until next week, have fun folks.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Monday 20th February 2012

And once again the weekend flies by as quick as an African Swallow not carrying two halves of a coconut. Once again we didn’t do a lot, just mulled around, doing chores and, for me, listening to the radio listening to the radio.

What we did do was to begin the great Harry Potter film-o-thon, starting from the very first film. And over the weekend we managed to get through Sorcerer’s Stone, Chamber of Secrets and Prisoner of Azkaban, or whatever it was. And already we can see the films getting better and darker as time goes on. We won’t watch part four until late in the week as there is very important Champion’s League on two nights and Jools has a bead class Thursday. And anyway, Thursday is Top of the Pops night, so no Potter until Friday.

The grabbing hands

Saturday morning, the forecast was poor; heavy rain from midday, and so I decided to stay at home to vacuum the house, clean the kitchen floor and oven, and then bake some saffron buns. Jools was heading to Folkestone for a bead class, and I had toyed with the idea of wandering around town in the afternoon whilst Jools has her class. So, I stayed home, and got the tasks done whilst listening to the radio as is normal for a weekend. I wish I could say it was more exciting than that, but it really wasn’t. I got the buns out of the oven in the afternoon, and when Jools returned we had a couple of warm buns with a big cuppa, whilst the football began on the radio. And AT THE SAME TIME, I scanned some photographs of my time back when I worked at the chicken factory, and proceeded to post them where no one would find them; on Facebook.

I was forgetting the FUNNY INCEDENT that happened on Saturday morning. We have gotten used to seeing the cats staring at a bookshelf or at a kitchen appliance which means that one of the cats had brought in a mouse and it had now escaped and was sheltering for its life out of the reach of the cat’s jaws. So, seeing Scully pacing round the tumble dryer meant that there was probably a mouse behind it. As I made breakfast she must have nearly caught it as there was a loud squeak from the utility room. I thought no more of it, until the rabbit ran past me towards the record rack.

I said RABBIT!

Well, a baby rabbit; maybe not a baby rabbit, but one that should be shaving by now. I took off my t shirt and threw it over the rabbit; Scully was close behind quite excited by this point. I scooped up the rabbit and put it out of the door, and it ran away not believing its luck. And this left Scully staring at the records wondering where its latest toy had ran off too.

Dover marina

Oh yes, football. The FA Cup; a simple task for Norwich to beat Leicester and head into the quarter finals you might think. Well, no; Norwich managed to lose 2-1 and go tumbling out for another year. Just once in my life, I would like City to make it to the final, even if doesn’t mean as much as it did. But to see us walk out on the Wembley turf in the may sunshine. For that I will wait yet another year for that to happen. I’ve been waiting 39 long, long years, and so I guess another years isn’t going to hurt.

Of metal and wood

Sunday morning, and the rainclouds cleared, the sun came up and shone down on the cold and frosty east Kent. After a breakfast of coffee and croissants, we headed out into the sunshiiiine to take some photographs and a bit of pys. We stopped off at Dover Harbour to snap the scene of blue skies over the harbour and the castle on the cliffs above. It is a fine scene, and something you can never photograph enough. Which is just as well as I have snapped it several times.

Dover Watersports Centre

On to Folkestone so I could snap the church by Central Station, and a walk up to The Leas in the sunshine; and despite the frosty start, the grassed areas were full of yellow crocuses. I snapped them too.

The blue pool

After a couple of hours wandering around the town, we headed back home and then I went on the cross-trainer! Oh yes I did, and did 15 minutes without dying or having a heart attack. A quick shower, and then time to slump on the sofa to watch Spurs play the might Stevenage Borough. And surprisingly, it ended in a 0-0 draw.

Kingsnorth Gardens, Folkestone

What better way to end the weekend than with a fine roast beef dinner and a glass or two of red plonk? None whatsoever.

Friday, 17 February 2012

Friday 17th February 2012

So for the second time in two weeks I was told my job is safe. Now, this should be a cause for celebration, but what with the revolving door at the top level of management, this situation could change several times between now and the end of the month. We still have no president, but we are assured the hunt is on for one, which is nice. As far was work is concerned, not much else to report, most of time I go into the office, sometimes I work from home. Working from home is nice, however swapping noisy technicians for noisy and demanding cats is a close call. On the whole, being able to lay in bed another three quarters of an hour, endless cups of proper coffee and the view out of the windows means working from home just about gets the vote.

The cold weather broke on Sunday, and we are back to dull, if warm-ish days; just about light on the way into and back from work. In fact it is light until about half five now, we’ll soon be able to go for a walk after work again. Until then there is the cross-trainer. I can’t lie, it has been hard at times, and I am not up to 20 minutes as yet, but nudging up towards 15 minutes. And now, at least, after a session, I don’t feel like I’m about to die.

Which is nice.

I’ll be honest, there has been a lot of football on TV this week. I’m sure Jools would say there’s a lot of football on TV all the time. But, Champions League on Tuesday and Wednesday, and the Manc clubs in the Europa League yesterday. I won’t lie, you can have too much football, and for that reason I don’t really watch Europa League of League Cup games, so to do something else with my evenings. And this week it’s the FA Cup; more football on TV, but half of it is on ESPN, which we don’t have, but then there’s always the radio.

So, this week, we booked up the ferries for our trip to Germany in May. Thirty quid each way on the ferry as opposed to £150 or something on the tunnel. We’ll take the ferry! So, we have trips to Germany (five days) and Yorkshire booked now, and plenty to look forward to so to make work a little more enjoyable.

So, have a good weekend and see you next week!

Thursday, 16 February 2012

We love you to death

We woke up Sunday morning to hear the news that Whitney Houston had passed away in a hotel room in Los Angeles. I’m sure we all thought it was a drugs overdose; and once the toxicology reports come in, we may be right. But, there is no doubt this was a sad end for a woman only 48 years old, and Mother to a teenage daughter.

Of course, every news broadcast lead with the story, and shots of teary fans were shown saying how much they loved her and how she was going to be missed. Now, I don’t wish anyone dead, but upon reflection, her death isn’t going to change my life much, and most importantly, will not change my long held views about her.

I did actually see her in concert in round about 1988; at a large shed in north west London. That’s Wembley Arena if you didn’t get the reference. Back in the 80s, after missing out not getting tickets for Live Aid, I got myself a credit card so I could buy concert tickets over the phone, and over the years I saw many of the era’s stars: Jacko, Whitney, Stevie, Madonna (twice) and Prince. Without a doubt, Prince was the best show; he was a wonderful performer, backed by a top and, and was a consummate showman, Madonna was never a good singer, and a space like Wembley Stadium was too big for her to be ‘intimate’ in. Jacko was just laughable; already a parody of himself, and trying to be an sexual asexual. Stevie was also great, could imitate anyone he wanted, had a voice and back catalogue to die for. And I Just Called to Sat I Love You too!

And then there was Whitney: She had the voice; the looks, but not the songs. Oh yes, the songs. I Wanna Dance With Someone was the soundtrack to my last family holiday with my parents, but other than that, she was a good pop singer; but was she the voice of a generation as Sky TV claimed this morning? Probably not.
Since her heydays in the 80s, she made a reasonable comeback at the end of the 90s with Its Alright but Its Not OK, she may have done stuff since, but it really did not cross my path. I read she tried a live comeback a couple of years ago but was booed off stage as her voice has gone; decades of crack does that.

Anyway, I saw her on stage, and she was boring; That’s really what I thought; even as the yuppies in front of us swayed and clapped to the music; I put that down to coke. But in two hours she did 9 songs, none shorter than ten minutes long; each with a costume change at the end which required a long instrumental version by her backing band to cover up her absence. When she came back on stage, she thanked her Mom and the rest of her family, thanked God. And did this pretty much between every song.

To commemorate her passing, Sony put the price of two of her records up by £3; this was a mistake of course when I was pointed out. But clearly, lots of people are gonna be buying stuff by her this week despite not remembering more than a couple of songs before Saturday night. As ever, death is the best lift you can give your career.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Monday 13th February 2012

And once again the weekend flies by quicker than a quick thing on a slippery day.

And, hereeeeeeeeeeeeees Monday!

Friday marked our three year anniversary in the house, although we didn't realise it until yesterday. Can't believe how the time has flown. Needless to say, we still love it here; i can't wait for spring to arrive to see the riot of colour in the garden and the birds and insects returning.

Song Thrush

Saturday morning dawned bright, clear but stunningly cold; And what to do? Well, we had decided to head to Margate to see the Turner exhibition, and when we left the house that was our plan. We first went to find a garden centre to buy some sweet William seeds as the ones we have already haven’t germinated the way they should.

St Vincent's, Littlebourne, Kent

We drove to Sandwich and then through the orchards to the other side of Littlebourne. Down a narrow ice covered lane, we found the garden centre, but they had no seeds and the plants they had were suffering in the deep cold. I bought some kindling, because the plan in my head was to light the woodburner in the afternoon, but in the end I didn’t.

St Vincent's, Littlebourne

We then decided to head to Preston to the nursery there, as I thought they might have seeds; but driving through Littlebourne we both saw a nice new sign pointing the way to the parish church. We turned down the lane, but at the end we saw no signs to point us the way. Behind a barn, I saw the church, and we parked up, I got out my camera and we walked to the lych gate for some chilly photography. And, when we got to the church, it was unlocked, so I was able to snap it and so tick another church of the huge list.

Jeremiah 5:20

Back in the car and on to Preston; still as cold, but Jools got her seeds and I got a joint for next weekend’s Sunday dinner. It was getting towards 11, still bitterly cold, and even though we had not been outside much, our feet and hands were frozen; we took the decision to head back home, turn the heating up another couple of notches and keep warm.


Saturday afternoon I sat on the sofa watching the game on TV, and keeping an eye on the birds in the front garden, and the endless entertainment of seeing robins, starlings, blackbirds, wrens, doves, pigeons and sparrows coming and going, fighting and generally eating to keep alive. I refilled the feeders and sat back to watch, and to take a few shots of the birds. Doesn’t sound that exciting, but it was good enough for me. And at three, I turned on the radio to listen to the football, and keep an eye on how Norwich were doing.

Despite being a goal down at half time, they bounced back to grab three goals in the second half, and in the end hang on to a 3-2 victory to take them back the 8th in the table. The dream goes on and on.

Butchery Lane, Canterbury

That night I cooked roast chicken, which came out real well, and then we went to Whitfield to visit Jools’ Dad’s, as it was the night of his 70th birthday party. There was food, assorted friends and relations. For me, who came from a small family, all these cousins, nieces and nephews can be confusing; they all remember my name, but, of course, I can’t remember theirs. We leave at ten; the first to leave, as watching other drink and smoke roll-ups, is not much fun after a while, and makes my eyes sting. But I think we did our duty in attending!

Sunday was the day of the great change in the weather; with heavy cloud cover forecast and getting warmer. Or less cold.

And just before nine, we got snow showers and then fog. And slowly the day did warm up, and the snow and ice began to melt. I spent the morning making a huge pot of stew for us to have each evening when we get home from work; four bottles of porter went into it, as well as a good glass of red wine when I de-glazed the frying pan. It smelt wonderful, and I am looking forward to trying some in a while.

Azouma, Canterbury

At four we headed out to Canterbury, as we had tickets to see Bellowhead in concert at the new Marlow theatre. There was time to wander round the streets to get some shots as dusk descended, they streets being empty now that the shops had closed. I had Googled for a place to eat, and we headed to a Moroccan restaurant neat St Augustine’s Abbey. We had a sampler meal, and it was great value at less than £20 a head, along with great fruit juice cocktails.

Once that finished, we headed to the other side of the city centre to the theatre, via the Cathedral yard so I could get more shots. We arrived ten minutes before showtime, just as the audience was being allowed to their seats. We took our place, and 5 minutes later the band came on, and ripped the place up.

I won’t go into details about the show, just Google for Bellowhead and you’ll see what they’re about. It was one of the top three gigs I have been to, and was a joyous experience. And after not one, but two encores, we left, walked to the car and were on the road back home by twenty past nine; home by twenty to ten. Just as well as it was a school night.

A quiet weekend, but a good one I think.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Friday 10th February 2012

So, apart from the excitement regarding the upheavals at work, not much has been going on. There has been no repeat of the ‘mouse’ incident, which is just as well. In fact, the cats hardly go out thanks to the weather being so cold; the snow and ice are still around at home, although around Ramsgate there is a partial thaw.
We have had to leave the heating on all day, so to keep the house from turning into a deep freeze. The cats haven’t complained about the extra heat through the day.

Tuesday was Tony’s 70th birthday, and on the way home from work I dropped his card off, and having been told he would not be there, but he was, and was being presented with a cuppa and a cream and jam sponge, and so Jen and I launched into a tuneless version of ‘happy birthday’. Anyway, job done.

The big news has been that a grumpy Italian resigned from his post as England manager; you would be forgiven to think that this was the only important news item that occurred anywhere in the world. I should have some thoughts about the whole matter, but I don’t think the failings of the national team were the result of the coach; there have to be deeper problems with our national team, and not just in the recent history. Since 1950, apart from the one time when the World Cup was held in jollie olde Englande, England have under-performed or failed to qualify at all. You can’t blame those decades of failure all on one Italian; we have had experienced English managers, inexperienced English managers and two highly experienced foreign coaches, and just about all have failed to lift the national side to anything buy also-rans.
Maybe it’s because before each tournament, we all think England can win, probably won’t, but might. The nations is covered in plastic flags of St George made in China, and before the major nations get down to the real football, our ‘stars’ are already either on the plane home or sunning themselves on a beach with their latest WAG.
Clearly changing the coach has failed every time it has happened, or it has not improved the results on the pitch, of meant England get further in the competitions any further than the first knock-out match. It must either be the players, the planning or something in our psyche that causes our repeated abject failure.
And the ‘nation’s choice’ is a 64 year old chancer who just happened to have been found not guilty on tax evasion charges. Old ‘Arry might be good for a year or two, but he isn’t the long term answer, and in truth, no one, not least the FA, has an idea who will. The really sad thing is that the FA were paying Fabio £7,000,000 a year for all this failure; do you think that represents good value for money? I don’t but then, never did.

So, here comes the weekend; we have a trip to the Turner Contemporary Gallery to see their Turner exhibition; Turner is my favourite artist, and the gallery is 20 miles from our house, and it’s going to be a glorious sunny day,; it’s a win/win/win situation. And on Sunday we’re off to Canterbury to see Bellowhead in concert.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Thursday 9th February 2012

And so we near the end of an eventful week here at Vestas. I have heard for now that my job is safe, or should be; but then nothing can be assured today. All redundancies, we were told, had been agreed, and we should move on from this point. And then late on Tuesday night our new president was fired. I say new president as he had been in post for less than two weeks after being transferred from Northern Europe division. We had a webcast from him last week; he seemed excited and up for a challenge, as we all are.

And now he is gone and we have no president.


Quite why he was fired, or who will replace him; we don’t know. What we do know is that we have two orders signed and sealed. And myself and my boss are working hard getting the Quality policy right as we near the time when work will begin on the two projects. Those two projects will go ahead, and for now we assume that we will be part of them, as we know our new client sees quality as being very important.

We shall see.

As for Vestas; their Q4 results made grim reading; instead of losing €40mil, we lost nearer to €160mil. The stock market in sunny Denmark was not happy, and heads were to roll, and members of the executive offered to resign or not go for re-election at the next AGM.

As for me, the figures seem so huge, and the talk quite financially technical, that I have to believe our CEO knows what he is doing after all, and knows how to turn things around. That I did not get my cards this week was a relief, although some good friends in Denmark got theirs and are leaving, their department being replaced with a call centre in India.

Of course!

So, we go on, working as normal; preparing documents and schedules hoping that the future is going to be better than this week.

Monday, 6 February 2012

Monday 6th February 2012

Three day weekend!

The Skoda driver


Normally, or in previous years, I would have had Monday off instead of Friday, as this was the weekend of the Superbowl. But, my love affair with American Football. I did sit down to watch the first game of the season, and just felt I did not spend another seven hours of my Sunday sitting on the sofa. So, I switched the TV off and just didn’t get round to switching it back on.
I did think of tuning in last night, but I lay in bed and read a magazine instead, and by the time the teams ran out, I was asleep. From what my friends have said, many of whom seem to have watched the spectacle for the first time this year, it was painfully slow and does it really take nearly four hours to get through sixty minutes of actual game time? Well, this is what happens when a sport sells its heart and soul to the TV networks; TV gets to decide how long the breaks are, and when the teams can actually carry out a play. It kinda makes sense on TV, but as someone who loves the game, and understands it, that watching it in a stadium is painfully slow, as you get little idea when there is going to be a normal 40 second gap between plays, or that is now a 5 minute ad break.

2012 White Cliffs Festival of Winter Ales, Dover

No, I needed a three day weekend because of beer! First weekend of February is time for the White Cliffs Festival of Winter Ales in Dover, and a friend of mine suggested that maybe we should go on the Friday afternoon rather than the Saturday when there is just the dregs left. I thought about it, but not too long and agreed this is a great idea and something we should go. So, I asked my boss for the day off; he said yes, and so the plans were afoot for an afternoon of beery joy.

2012 White Cliffs Festival of Winter Ales, Dover

After my blog a couple of weeks ago about how wonderfully mild the weather has been this winter, nature, of course, decided to prove me wrong by giving the who county a huge blast of winter with ice, snow and wind. Britain would add chaos, crap driving and empty shelves in supermarkets. So, I decided to use the first part of my day off in shopping at Tesco, and then heading to the butcher to get meat to fill up the freezer. And then get into town, grab a quick haircut. And so passed my morning off. I met my friend off the train and together we walked to the town hall, and decided to queue up even though there was 45 minutes before the doors were to open.

So, there we were, standing in the freezing cold, waiting to have a beer. There are worse reasons to be standing outside getting cold, but there are better one. Oh yes.
Anyway, at one the doors swung open, we paid to get in, paid to get our glass and our beer tokens, walk through to the hall, grab a seat and finally go back and select a beer with which to begin the afternoon’s beery proceedings.

And throughout the afternoon we did this (select beers to sample) over and over again. Some were good, some were not. However most were at least good if not wonderful. I soaked up some of the beer with chips and peanuts (Not at the same time), but by four o’clock I was getting a little tired and my eyelids got a little heavier. My phone rung, and it was Jools asking if I wanted to go home; good idea. I had had eight halves, four pints, which was more than enough for me, so I bid Matt farewell, gathered my stuff together, managed to leave my phone on the table, and walk outside. I realised my phone was missing, so I go back inside to collect it, back outside to wait for Jools and enjoy the cold air mixing with my beer confused ‘brain.’

Jools arrived to steer me back to the car, and so back home. As she is rather wonderful, she went out to get a Chinese meal for dinner, so neither of us would need to cook. Sleep came easy that night.


Saturday, we had a lazy day. A dusting of snow fell during the night, and there was a hard frost all day. Heavy snow was forecast for Saturday night, but for now we could see the green of the plants in our garden. I did the usual stuff; listened to the radio, watched football and listened to the football commentary and Norwich once again getting a win. I cooked steak and potato skins for dinner; a triumph even if I say so myself. Nicely full, we sat down to watch the film version of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy; it was very good, had great production values, but I did prefer the old BBC version, which had double the running time to tell the same story. Still, a good evening.

Sunday 06:30. The snow has landed.

Sunday: We woke up and pulled the curtain from the window and were greeted with snow. Lots. Of. Snow. It looked cold; what should we do? Get dressed and go out to take photographs of course! We pulled our winter woollies on, grabbed our boots and stepped out. Up to our calves into deep, crisp snow. It was getting light, but the new snow gave the morning a wonderful blue tinge. I snapped away; at the car trying to get up the hill, over the fields to Dover, down the hill towards the village. We walked back along the street, through more fairly deep drifts, took more pictures. And back inside for a nice hot cup of coffee and breakfast.

Station Road

And that really is it for Sunday. More radio listening, more football. Lots more football. Inbetween I cooked a nice roast beef dinner for lunch. Not an exciting weekend, but good enough for us. Whilst watching the football on TV during the afternoon, my attention was grabbed by the birds using the feeders in our front garden. Heck, I could even photograph them from the warmth and softness of the sofa.

All that was left was to avoid the American Football and be ready for the week of destiny at work.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Sunday 5th January 2012

This is a true story. And happened this morning....

We came down stairs this morning to find books off the shelves and Mulder staring at the bookshelf. Could only mean one thing; a mouse. So, I check behind the shelf where the books had partially been knocked off; no mouse.
I check the shelf next to that one, and as I move the final book, there he is. And he runs for me.
The mouse heads for what he thinks is the darkest, safest place, which turns out to be the sleeve of my dressing gown.

I kid you not.

For a moment I thought the bugger had run beneath me, and I looked round, only to feel Mr. Mouse at my elbow. I gather up the sleeve into a bunch so to keep the mouse where he is, but as I walk to the door, though two very excited cats, he is making for my hand and freedom.
I get to the front door as his nose breaks cover, and as I open the door he jumps for it, and lands in the snow and scampers off.

You really could not make it up.