Friday, 31 August 2012

Friday 31st August 2012

And so the final day of August rolls round.

Last night I watched some of the Paralympic coverage on C4; a bit hit and miss with little coherency to be honest, but it did end with GB vs Germany in the wheelchair basketball. There is no doubt of the courage and strength of the athletes, although that may sound condescending; it isn’t. To see people hobbling, of in wheelchairs getting to the side of the pool before the start of the race, and then trying with all their might to win. Nothing less than was seen at the Olympics, and if anything this was for more moving.

All yesterday the wind did blow and the rain did fall. Thunder and lightning crashed around. It is still summer. But felt like autumn. To emphasise that point, last night was decidedly chilly. I closed the windows around the house and got the thicker duvet out of the wardrobe. It was needed.

And so a time for reflection: my first blog on this site was four years ago next month. In fact that first post detailed events from the end of August. It doesn’t seem that long ago, does it? How different those posts were; reporting about the wedding and visiting glamorous places like Tuscany, Hull, Grimsby, Lerwick and Kazakhstan. Looking back and reading those posts from the first year, I see how unhappy I was with work. I hated working for Gardline; their inability to be able to organise anything drove me mad. I left them at the beginning of 2009. Had I have stayed with them, we would be tens of thousands of pounds better off. It is easy to think like that, and it is true. But then again I was so unhappy, could I really have stayed there?

In the end, we have to live with our choices and decisions and not ponder the ‘what ifs’ of life. We just have to get on with things. Once thing is for sure, I am happy with my life now, with the choices I made. Being home most nights.

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Thursday 30th August 2012

So the month rushes to an end, and it ends the same way as it begun; with a festival of od sport in East London. Last night the Paralympics began with another stunning opening ceremony. We didn’t watch it to be honest, we should have done I know. I heard there was a rocking version of Spasticus Autisticus played at one point. Ian Dury would be happy. We watched a documentary on the siege of Stalingrad. Shattering stuff as the Germans first ground the Russians into the dirt; and then once the weather turned the Red Army launched an offensive marooning the German forces. More Russians died in the siege that Britains and Americans combined died in the whole war.

Scully

I got back home from work last night, drew a deep breath and climbed the stairs to the spare room and did a session on the cross-trainer. And I did the full half an hour, which was good, and enjoyable. I do realise there is a long, long way ago, however, I have begun the journey.

Again.

I have been working from home today. No, that does not involve sitting in the garden in the sunshine drinking cocktails. Not today anyway. Anyway, there have been a series of downpours and thunderstorms sweeping in from the north, getting so dark I couldn’t see the keyboard of my work’s laptop. Oh wait a minute, theres a light thing to handle that; look: I said let there be light, I push the switch and there was, is, light. The think of everything.

Its the end of the world......

Being home means being bothered by the cats, one at a time, asking for; a stroke, food, another stroke, more food. You get the idea. It passes the day. And tomorrow is Friday and after that is the weekend; which is great, right? And we’re off to London to see the Paralympics.

Weeee.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Wednesday 27th August 2012

So, I went to the doctor’s yesterday to see what he said about my back. As its been a couple of years since I was last there he did a number of checks including a weigh in. In all honesty, I know I could have done better this year with my weight, but I have been on the cross-trainer, we have been eating better. But I guess I have been slipping back, certainly these last few weeks with two, if not three meals a day in Denmark. And we really haven’t been out walking as much as we should.

We all like to delude ourselves that things are not as they seem, that it’s our clothes that have shrunk not us that has grown bigger. There can be no dispute, no argument, that things have to change, that we really will have to change and keep that change. We are now coming into the autumn, it will be cool enough to go on the trainer anytime without kidding ourselves it will be cooler later, I’ll do it then. Eat less cheese, use smaller plates and just do better. I’ve done it in the past and so can do it again. I have to, there can be no avoiding the fact I’m 47, and warnings of cholesterol and high blood pressure cannot, and must not be ignored.

I still think we’re not far away from where we want to be, but just not tempted by the snacks, and just eat what we need. And be more active. Oh, and cut down on the booze. I, in all honesty, have never been what could be described as a big drinker, but going from a drink a couple of times a week has switched to a drink most days. The switch to having a glass of water with a glass of wine has slipped and now its one glass, two glasses. So, restrict drinking to the weekend, and then just with a meal. And we shall see.

In other news, London once again is set to become the centre of the sporting world when the Paralympic Games opens this evening. We are heading to the games on Saturday and Sunday, and we can’t wait to get a feel for the games. It should be one of the highlights of the year. We will be in the main area on Saturday to watch the athletics, and on Sunday in the Excel to see the wheelchair basketball.

Norwich won their first game of the season last night, 2-1 against Scunny in the league Cup; maybe from this small acorn a fine season will grow. The transfer window is set to close on Friday evening, so stand by for the usual hectic scenes as players are transferred right up to midnight.

Outside the wind is blowing and the sea has white caps, it feels cooler, so an autumnal feel to the day? Maybe.

Monday, 27 August 2012

Monday 27th August 2012

So, instead of going to work, and seeing as the banks were closed for the day, most of the country also had the day off, and I'm sure that official figures will show, that productivity this quarter will fall as a result.

I mean we have already heard bad weather, Easter and the May day holiday falling on back to back weekends, the Queens's Jubilee; oh no, nothing was mentioned about that four day weekend, but those pesky public service workers having a day's strike, that will bring the whole goddamned economy down.

Only it didn't.

Anyway, in a break with tradition, we got no rain today, and even for a time this morning we had sunshine. So, instead of getting out and taking advantage of the weather, i laid in bed an extra hour to nearly midday. Sorry, seven in the morning.

To Moor at Oare

After breakfast, we headed out to the car and went back to Faversham for a walk along Oare Creek. The Oare is one of the rivers in the town, and as such at low tide it reduces to something like a trickle running through mud. But, thanks to the wonders of GSV, we can see interesting places to see from above. I saw boats moored along the river and a pub stuck in the middle of nowhere.

Big Skies

So, we drove back up the A2, dodging the holiday traffic and speed freaks, headed through Faversham, consulting the street map and finding our way out the other side of the town and onto the marshes. Once on the marshes we found that the road was private with no parking spaces. So, once at the end of the road looking at the river. We drove back to Oare, the area of Faversham, found a place to park and found a footpath along the river.

Creeklife

And that really is it; we walked, had fine views over the town with the majestic huge sky overhead; where else would it be? I took shots of the river with the sky reflected in the muddy water. I saw many dragonflies, but none settled long enough for me to photograph. So made do with snapping more shots of the sky and marshes.

Oaresome Sky

Once at the Shipwright Arms we found the confluence of the two creeks, and the landscape flat before us. We turned round and headed back to the car the way we had come.

Once back home we had roast beef sandwiches with the meat left over from last night's dinner along with a mango smoothie. Whilst Jools went off to forage from sloes and elderberries, I stayed home and mowed the lawn. Nothing more exciting than that.

More Oare Creek

I ended the day reading the second half of The Fear Index by Robert Harris; I have been reading it for a couple of weeks, but rattled through the second half of the book in a couple of hours. And, meh. I guessed the plot and what was causing the plot to be driven and how it was going to play out. I guess I was expecting something more from the author, who I love, but this is almost Dan Brown style, certainly in one of his earlier books. But, passed the time and got me off the computer for a few hours.

I ended up the day cooking chorizo hash for dinner, but changed it a bit by using Hungarian paprika sausage instead of the usual Spanish.

Still good.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Sunday 27th August 2012

The Sunday evening of the soul.

Only, its a bank holiday Sunday which means we get to have tomorrow off work and get paid for it.

Yay!

And, thankfully, someone has arranged the weather so it is typically bank holiday-ish, with gales and torrential rain. We wouldn't have it any other way; what else would we have to talk about?

The Rising Sun, Stourmouth

Yesterday afternoon, after a lunch of stinky French cheese and crackers, I sat and listened to the football on the radio. Only, the BBC saw fit to replace the absolute game with something called 'rugby league' as it was the challenge cup final, when the hordes from the north descend on London, marvel at the electrickey and other modern wonders before heading back home after the game.

The Rising Sun, Stourmouth

Or something like that.

Anyway, they brought the ENTIRE rugby match with only the occasional reports from the real important stuff. Hurrumph.

But, in this way the afternoon passed into evening, and it was time for us to head off to the marshes and The Rising Sun in Stourmouth where we had a reservation for dinner. Despite looking through the entire menu, we still ordered the paella for two as we really knew we would. On the next table was a young couple and their three children. We had remarked whilst looking through the menu that the choice for children was still only burgers and chips, fish fingers and chips and the suchlike. So, imagine our surprise when their oldest two children, neither older than ten, both ordered moules and the youngest had a bowl of whitebait.

I had cheese for dessert, along with a fine smoky malt, which might explain my dreadful night's sleep last night and once again being up with the larks before dawn making coffee and feeding the cats.

After watching last night's Match of the Day, Norwich drew 1-1 with QPR, it was time to head off into the big, wide world. Jools dropped me off at Shepherdswell and then she went to meet an old friend, whilst I travelled on the local preserved railway, The East Kent Light Railway.

GWUK #442 Golgotha Tunnel, the East Kent Light Railway

The East Kent was built to serve the Kent coalfield, and meandered through the countryside linking the collieries and villages with the main line at Shepherdswell. After the strike in 84-85, the coalfield was closed down, and very little of it remains now. In fact the railway is about the most obvious.

D4113 and S65373

It only runs a couple of miles to Eythorne and a little beyond to Tilmanstone collery, just short of where the colliery was as the bridge over the road has been removed.

So, after photographing the rollingstock, I travelled on the Cravens DMU out of Shepheredswell just before 11, and arrived at Eyethorne, I guess 10 minutes later. Got off and headed for the beer tent where I had a pint of mild whilst listening to the end of The Archers which was coming out of the radio; is there a more typical English scene? We just needed a cricket match to watch I guess.

The Paddy

Jools came to pick me up at half past, and we went home for lunch and tried not to doze off whilst listening to the radio. I cooked roast beef, Yorkshire pudding and all the trimmings for dinner, and Jools picked up Nan and brought her over. She seemed really disappointed that our promise to cancel the sports channels had been carried out.

Wigmore Lane

It is now nine in the evening, it is dark outside, and so another day in the Garden of England draws to an end.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Saturday 25th August 2012

The end of the month, a bank holiday and a double celebration.

So, it is Saturday lunchtime, we have just eaten; a selection of cheeses bought from Waitrose on Monday; the time I went in just for bread and ended up spending £27 on cheese and beer and cider. This morning we headed over to Tonge mill to the brew shop for some kits; we are going to make two patches of Norfolk Nog for Christmas, and a batch of cider and another ale for me. We have received requests for the porter, so one of the batched of Nog is to be given away as gifts or in part-exchange for 'stuff'. I am getting three free haircuts for 18 pints from my barber, which is OK,I guess.

Of course being a bank holiday the weather is pretty poor. At least for today. A keen wind is blowing clouds and frequent heavy showers from the west. After getting the beer kits, we had hoped to head over to Harty to look for butterflies and dragonflies, but we will no do that another weekend.

We just headed back, and this after noon we will put the first two batches of booze in to begin brewing.

Thursday was the 30th anniversary of Jools starting at the factory; she received a cheque, and in a few weeks will take some of her best friends out for dinner with the MD picking up the tab. In the 30 years she has been with the same employer, I have done the following jobs:

Short order chef
sales assistant at Boots
Delivery driver for Hubbards electrical
Double glazing salesman
Process worker at the chicken factory
QC inspector at the chicken factory
Section controller also at the chicken factory
Joined the RAF, posted to: RAF Swinderby
RAF Cosford
RAF Marham
RAF Laarbruch
RAF Lyneham
RAF Cosford
RAF Coltishall

Left the RAF and then:

Agency driver
draysman
Chemical deliver driver
Geophysical engineer for Gardline
Geophysical engineer for UTEC
QC inspector at the box factory
Geophysical engineer again
And finally working as the QA manager thing with Vestas.

Phew.

The other celebration is that today is my, ahem, 47th birthday. Don't shout it out loud. So, I came down the stairs to find balloons and presents along with a cupof coffee this morning. and tonight we're off to a fine country pub for dinner; paella for two I believe. Great stuff.

So, until tomorrow, toodle pip.

Friday, 24 August 2012

Friday 24th August 2012

So, I wake up Thursday morning, feeling like I thick head after a night on the pop. It wasn’t a hangover, I realised I was having trouble breathing, my nose was blocked. And then I sneezed.

Five minutes later I stopped sneezing, and even as a grumpy in the morning person, I realised that I had a cold coming. Once downstairs I had another sneezing fit. And another.

Sigh.

Deal at Sainsbury

Now, I hope that I don’t come over as a moaner, and for the most part I just detail the details of our life and that is all. Sometimes smattered with the latest news and sports if I thought it is of interest. One thing I have not mentioned through this year has been my bad back. Its hard to explain, as it comes and goes, but at times I bend over with the pain and have to sit down. Most of the time it is just there in the background. Anyway, so on Wednesday I was talking to a guy at work who also has a bad back and after some tests he has been told he has an enlarged kidney. So, I wanted to get my bad back checked out, but of course you can’t actually get an appoint to see the doctor on the day you are ill, oh no, you have to plan ahead to be ill. So, I will go on Tuesday morning and get it checked out.

GWUK #438 Bleak House, Broadstairs, Kent

Anyway, what this means is that I stayed at home to work in case I could get an appointment, so, Jools went to work and I stayed home and was generally ill. Oh I was ill. At least the cold/flu did take my mind off my back which was something, I suppose. But, I did plod on my tasks and in that way the day passed. At half three I met Jools outside her factory, and then drove to the station so I could head to Broadstairs for the afternoon. Now, given the choice I would not have gone and just laid in bed. But, one of our clients thought that their and our employees would benefit from a social gathering and so reduce the ‘us and them’ mentality. So, they hired out Bleak House, yes that Bleak House, in Broadstairs; the owners cater for the corporate market, and provided us with a BBQ and a bar and fine views over Viking Bay.

It Comes in litres

So, I waited on platform 1 of Dover Priory waiting for the train to Ramsgate; now it takes me some 20 minutes to drive to Ramsgate in the morning, so the fact the train takes something close to three quarters of an hour to complete the trip is a surprise. Then a 20 minute wait for the train to take me the single stop to Broadstairs and then a walk down the High Street to Bleak House.

Bleak House was owned by Dickens, and he is supposed to have written David Copperfield there; but it was not named Bleak House at the time, and that name was given to it in the early 20th century. For many years it was a private house, but has been bought, apparently, by a retiring East End gangster as a legitimate business. This may not be true, but the walls have some ‘interesting’ artwork. Artwork should be in quotation marks too, btw.

Bleak House, Broadstairs

Anyway, I was 90 minutes late, but arrived in time for the food to be served and I had enough time to get a beer from the bar. And that really is it. I ate BBQ, drank beer. And at seven I grabbed a lift with a friend and he dropped me off at Ramsgate station with 10 minutes before it departed. I sat and watched the countryside roll by, and a young couple flirting. It was quite funny to hear, they talked about their family and the books they both loved. It was a shame to get off the train at Martin Mill and leave them to their flirting.

Back home, had some cheese and biscuits with Jools, and some whisky to wash it down with, in an attempt to be able to sleep. And, it worked. I woke up this morning after eight hours sleep and being able to breath and swallow. So, whisky kills flu, coffee kills whisky-induced headache so I could do a day’s work.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Thursday 23rd August 2012

And welcome to Thursday. Outside the sun is shining and the fields are mostly harvested.

Oh yes, harvest.

Rollers

Last night on the way home from work we saw that the large fields at Westcliffe were being harvested; well, most have been and the final long field, whose end is over the brow of a hill near the lighthouse was half harvested. Does that last sentence make sense? I hope so.

Wheat lines (Don't, don't do it)

So, back home and unpack the car as we had been to Tesco for the week’s shop, grab the cameras and out again to get our shots of the scene. We drove to Westcliffe and parked the car in the layby, and whilst Jools checked for sloes in the hedgerow, I walked across the road, through the low hedge and into the field to record the scene before me. About a third of the field had been harvested and the straw turned into bales; another third had been harvested but the straw lay on the ground waiting to be baled. And the combine was dealing with the last third. I got a shot of it as it disappeared over the brow of the hill, and then turned to concentrate on the bales and patterns in the field.

Lines

Once I got my shots, I walked back to the car and on the way I snapped the harvester as it came back down the hill, making wonderful patterns and shapes. In the end another 106 shots had been taken all in about 15 minutes.

Depth of field

And on to the DIY store to get more bird seed. Not for the birds though, seems like the peanuts I leave out on the low table has now become the supper place of choice for one of our local badgers. So, most nights we are awoken by the noise of a badger crunching its way through half a pound of peanuts and seeds. I had not seen a badger alive before, just the ones that failed to make it across our roads, so to see one half on the bird tale eating away is a warming site. So, a couple of kilos of peanuts and other assorted seeds and dried worms, it was back home for a cupper and another one of the saffron buns from the weekend.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Wednesday 22nd August 2012

As you can see I am going for the record number of blog posts in a month, and this will mark the 4th anniversary of me starting this blog in the run up to the wedding of the century. That was the nuptials between me and Mrs Jelltex. How long ago that now seems; back then I was working on offshore survey boats and was off the coast of east Scotland. I got off the boat on the 25th in Peterhead. Since then I have been headhunted, journeyed to Kazakhstan, made redundant, worked for minimum wage and ended up in the wind industry. It’s been a rollercoaster ride for sure, but we’re still keeping our heads above water.

And today, despite being told a couple of months ago that the redundancies were now over, yet another round is about to begin with the sword of Damocles hanging over all our heads once more.

Sigh.

I have given up worrying to be honest, I mean if it happens, it does. We’ll cope with it then. It is tempting to jump before the push comes, if it does. What can we do? It seems to be the modern way, no job is for life now, and no job seems to be safe, even if the prospects for the company seems bright. We have three orders for major projects with several more very close to being signed, and yet costs have to be cut. So, who knows?

Last night was mostly spent in front of the computer at home trying to book places for the Open House London event next month. But for the third time their servers could not handle the volume of traffic and despite getting to the final stage of the process, we were unable to complete a booking. So, it seems they are going to reply on a ballot system for allocating places, which does seem a fairer way. Maybe.

On the way home last night, I called in at Waitrose for a loaf of bread; and in addition I bought two steak and ale pies for dinner, three different cheeses and two Hungarian paprika sausages to use instead of chorizo. So, the loaf of bread came to £27 with the additional items. Such is life. I cooked the pies along with roast potatoes and steamed vegetables. And very nice it was too, washed down with a couple of glasses of vin rouge.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Tuesday 21st August 2012

And like that, Monday was gone.

Just like I dreamt of last week, instead of either travelling up north on a crowded and cramped train, I was driving my usual commute to Ramsgate, getting in, firing up the laptop and making the first pot of coffee of the day. It may not be perfect, but it does mean that I am back home with Jools by half four, and drinking coffee with Jools on the patio by five.

I had intended to start up the fitness program again, but two nights of dreadful sleep meant that I was fit for nothing other than drink coffee, listen to the radio and lay in bed listening to the football on the radio. Yes, the season has begun and now we are Sky Sports-less, an evening game means either listening to the game through the TV, or going old school and listening on the transistor radio on MW. Really old school with the signal fading in and out, reminds me of listening to European games on the old Radio 2 back in the 70s with my Dad. If it saves us £30 a month then so be it. Last night it was Everton v Man Utd, and usually that would have had me on the sofa watching every moment. As it was I was happy enough with the radio.

This is the beginning of the long slope towards the weekend, and it’s a bank holiday weekend too, which will probably mean three days of heavy rain. Or not. Anyway, a long weekend is always a cause for celebration.

Not much else to report, I was able to look out over the harbour whilst at work, see the clouds sweeping from the west. It may not sound much, but it does for me. I can set the clock by the arrival and departure of the ferry from the dock below. It arrives at about 11:15 and leaves dead on half one. Seeing it leave is great; the ropes are cast off, and it seems the large ferry isn’t moving. And then you see it inching forward, slowly accelerating, but soon enough it as walking pace and getting faster. And once it clears the dock it is almost at full speed, turning hard to port so to travel up the deep water channel out the harbour and into the Goodwin Sands.

Advance news: Trying to arrange visits for Open House London next month, but the website kept crashing due to volume of people. So, fingers crossed that we will be able to go to The Gherkin and/or Tower 42, Heron Tower, various churches, maybe Mansion House amongst others. Also next month we are heading twice to London for the Paralympics; can’t wait for that; and after that there is the heritage weekend in the middle of the month and I have a list of churches I would like to get inside to snap. We shall see. Oh and we have two weeks off work too. There is beer to brew, wine to make, Christmas Cake to bake and all the other stuff that be coming of Autumn means.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Monday 20th August 2012

And so four o’clock rolled round on Friday afternoon, and I packed up my computer for the weekend, washed my coffee cup up and headed out the door into the bright sunshine.

Ah yes, sunshine. I know that a reoccurring feature this summer has been the weather reports of endless rain, storms and the usual British weather. And I am going to try to resist the temptation to complain just as proper summer weather arrives and it plainly too hot. I drove home with all the windows down, it really was rather pleasant. All around columns of dust rose to the sky to show where harvesting was still going on.

Painted Lady Butterfly

I arrived home, and the temptation was to slump on the patio with an ice-cold Wobbly, but I grabbed the camera and we headed out to look for butterflies. The day was really too old for butterfly hunting, and the shadows too long, but it seemed too good to pass us, especially as the wind had dropped to nothing. In the end the air was full of the things; mostly Red Admirals, some Common Blues, the odd Brown Argus, a single Peacock and two Painted Ladies. Oh yes, it was butterfly heaven, but they were very wary of us, and getting decent shots was difficult. The Painted Lady stayed on the same branch about ten feet away, just too far to get a decent shot. I stood still until a Red Admiral landed in front of me, and I got the shot I have been chasing for the past few weeks.

Red Admiral

Back home for dinner and more sitting on the patio as the sun set; the moths and bats came out and filled the air. It was just too hot to sit inside, and it was a wonderfully simple thing to do. Saturday morning and up to London.

Again.

The end of a long shift

I say again, as I have travelled up on the high speed line twice in the last week for work, so it was pleasant to go up just for pleasure. Jools was taking some friends on a bead-hunting trip around Soho, and so I had a day in which to fill with whatever I wanted. My plan was to travel the Underground and snap some interesting stations. A contact of mine on Flickr has been photographing all stations over the course of the past few years. There are some gems, and after asking him of stations I should visit first, I had a plan of sorts.

Gants Hill Top of the list was Gants Hill, on which the stations on the Moscow Metro was based. So, we all got off at Stratford and headed our different ways. I walked through the shopping centre to the regional station, past all the signs still up for the Olympics, and ready for the Paralympics which begin next week. So, across the station finding that all the pink ‘Olympic’ signs no longer applied and the usual entrances could be used. Onto the eastbound Central Line and underground we went. Many of the stations I passed looked worthy of further investigation, and I will return.

Gants Hill

Gants Hill station is built entirely underground, buried beneath a roundabout on the A12 road which leads all the way to my hometown, and the roundabout was once a marker on a bus trip into London. Little did I know how wonderful the station was just below the road. London Transport was asked to advise on the design of the Moscow Metro, and they ‘practiced’ on Gants Hill, and is every bit as wonderful as that sounds. I got out and snapped the hall between the two platforms. It was being lightly used, so I got pictures with no people in, which suited me.

Gants Hill

I went up to the surface to see what the area was like, and was pretty much as I remembered; a huge roundabout with the usual small shops lining each street. I saw a cafĂ© and thought I should have some fluid, and so went in and ordered an orange juice, a coffee and an oat bar. And was charged just £3 for this, which for London was an absolute bargain.

Tooting Bec

Back underground, pausing only to take some more shots of the station, and headed back south; the plan being to go to Boston Manor on the way to Heathrow. I got off at Holborn, and crossed to the Piccadilly Line, only for there to be confusion between the station announcements and the train’s headboards. I gave up and headed to Baker Street and then south on the Northern Line to Tooting Bec.

Tooting Bec

Tooting is famous in Britain for being the home of fictional 1970s revolutionary, Citizen Smith. And it was first time in Tooting. It is quite some way down the Northern Line, past Kennington and the Oval where the home of cricket is. And on into Clapham, Balham in into Tooting. Tooting Bec

I snapped away after getting off and made my way to the surface and into the heat of the day. The view was of a large crossroads with queues of traffic in all directions. Small shops lined each side of the street, and many were selling exotic fruit and vegetables. I saw a barbers along the street and decided that it was time to have a major trim, and so went in and after a while got the Cypriot barber to understand me, and he got the shears out and off with my lush locks. After ten minutes I felt half a stone lighter and the cool breeze was chilling my scalp.

Clapham Common

Back along to the station, and down into the bowls of London and along a few stops to Clapham Common Station. Clapham Common has unusual narrow island platforms, and the wide angle lens makes these look even narrower, and was well worth stopping off. But what to do now? It was half twelve, and I probably had an hour and a half to go. I made my way to London Bridge station so I could walk over the bridge so I could snap the Olympic rings on Tower Bridge, I continued north heading for Bank Station where I could pick up the line to St Pancras. I ended up at the Lloyds Building and Leadenhall Market and then heading down Threadneedle Street past the Bank of England to the tube station and then to St Pancras.

My plan was to grab a bite to eat. I got a table at the Italian place on the platform and I ended up having Mozzarella, tomato and basil salad flowed by spinach penne pasta. It was lovely I have to say, and perfect for the day. As I had a limoncello to end the meal I got a call from Jools to say they were on the platform waiting for the next train. I got there with 5 minutes before the train to Dover departed; we got two tables next to each other and I snoozed as the train pulled away and headed into the tunnel to Statford.

It wasn’t quite as humid in Dover, but still too hot to sit outside. I sat at the computer listening to the football and checked my pictures form the morning. On the radio Norwich kept shipping goals as the afternoon wore on making it painful listening. At five as the 5-0 defeat sunk in, I turned off the radio. Jools went to the chippy and we dined on fish and chips as it was just too darn hot to be messing around in the kitchen.

Chalkhill Blue

Sunday morning and we were up to see the sun rise out the back door. And after breakfast we headed to the National Trust’s place on the cliffs to hunt for Chalkhill Blue butterflies. Once upon a time I thought a white butterfly was just a Cabbage White, a blue was a Chalkhill and so on. Of course the world of macro photography is teaching me the differences between the species. The Chalkhill is found on grassy chalk down land, and the ebst place really is the cliffs themselves. It is just a short drive to the cliffs, and after parking in the top, remote car park, we soon spotted a lone Chalkhill. I spent a good ten minutes waiting for it to land so I could snap it, Jools went through the gate and said, don’t worry about that one there are thousand here.

Chalkhill Blue

I followed her and sure enough, just above the grass the air was thick with the shimmering of blue butterfly winds, and all of the Chalkhills. After stalking a few, I got down on my belly and crawled to approach one without it flying off, and in this way got many shots of males, females and mating pairs. I guess we stayed for about an hour and I rattled off 606 shots, before deciding that should be enough. And so back home for a cool drink and to check on the shots.

The Fight 1

I mixed up the dough for some saffron buns, whilst outside a layer of high cloud crept in from the west, hiding the sun and taking the temperature down a few degrees. We no longer have Sky, so if I want to catch up on the football I have to listen to the radio; so I went up to the bedroom to lay down and listen. I was joined by Scully and soon enough we were both asleep and the radio burbled away.

The Fight 2

The afternoon faded away into evening, the clouds thinned and the sun shone down again, but not as hot. Once again we watched the end of the day from the chairs on the patio, as the moths and bats came out. And so passed another Kentish weekend.

Friday, 17 August 2012

Friday 16th August 2012

And so, after two days back in the old routine of driving to and from the office and being home with Jools and the cats of an evening makes me feel much better and life feels more like it should. Once upon a time I thought travelling would be great, staying in different places, generally widening my horizons. And indeed it does, but a business hotel in Warrington does not stretch the envelope much, and it is sort of depressing, a hotel filled with a couple of hundred travelling business types who sit alone, eat alone and have no interaction except when two of them occupy a lift at the same time, and then the rules state no eye contact must be made.

I had the comfort of the new Robert Harris book, and so I dived into that inbetween writing reports. The food was OK without being dazzling. And so it came as a relief to check out on Wednesday and head to the office for five hours or so of work before the taxi turned up to take me to North Bank Station for my trip south. My reserved seats said I had to change at Crewe to sit all the way to London; I took my chances and got a slightly early train and against the odds got a seat, two seats in fact, but no window to look out of. I mean, this was a train that had travelled all the way down from Scotland, travelling through some of the finest landscapes in Britain and 16 people in each carriage had a view of a wall. Can it be so hard to get seats to match up to windows? The Victorians could manage it, so why can’t we in the 21st century?

I was able to see a sliver of the window for the seats in front, and so we passed down the Trent Valley to Rugby and then to Milton Keynes which we past at full tilt. And then under the M25 and into the suburbs and into Euston. I got out and route-marched along the Euston Road to St Pancras, realising that I had just missed a train to Dover, so I did what all top blokes do; go into the Bechamin Arms for a pint before heading to the Southeastern platforms to catch the Margate train and getting off at Ashford.

The Essex and then Kentish countryside flashed by, rain fell, and I dozed. A two minute wait and I was on my way to Dover, along to Folkestone, through the chalk and along the side of the Channel, and then the harbour with the castle high on the cliffs came into view.

Jools was waiting, and off back home we went; I was shattered and good enough to just slump on the sofa.

Now, after two good nights sleep, helped by the fact it is dark until just before half five now, I feel human again, and having got my work done, the weekend is really near. Outside the sun is shining, and there is the promise of a long, hot and sunny weekend. We’re off to London tomorrow, this time I will be taking lots of photographs and have a few ideas of places to visit.

And tomorrow sees the beginning of the football season (see previous post), and my team will be trying once again to stay in the Premier League, this time without Paul Lambert’s hand on the tiller. We’re being tipped for relegation by most pundits, but this is what they said last year. I have no real expectations, but I hope we won’t get embarrassed, like last year. In the end it was just Citeh who spanked us (twice), but a new slate and really, anything could happen. As for the rest, the title will be between the two Manc clubs, the usual suspects will be chasing for crumbs, whilst those mere human teams will be scrambling to avoid a relegation battle. So, after the excitement of last year’s cruise to survival, it seems that every year it will be the same. RvP has moved to United for £24m the first ‘big’ move in what is now the traditional end of transfer window scramble.

And so, the weekend awaits. Sorry about the lack of pictures this week; the hotel in Warrington was really just as bland as you would imagine……

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Everyone excited?

It is the 16th of August, and on Saturday the ‘big kick off’ happens when league football in all its forms awakes from its summer slumber. Only it has had barely twenty winks, what with the European Championships and then the Olympic tournament. There really has been little time to draw breath, and the question asked on the front page of WSC was, are we excited?

Well, we’re, or certainly I’m, not. And in the glowing wake of the Olympic Games which has just finished in that London. You may have seen it on the TV at times, and some news broadcasts did cover it too.

Anyway, my point is that thousands of Olympic competitors participated in sports that are not professional and do not receive government funding, and yet go out training every day for hours on end, with nothing at stake that to pit oneself against others from around the world who are in the same boat. Many of them are sailors so they are in the same, but different boats, otherwise it wouldn’t really be a sport.

Anyway, rowers, kayakers, sailors, shooters and all the other unglamorous sports just turned up and did their best, and for the most part these sports took place in front of packed stands, packed with people who did not know the first thing about those sports, but a gold medal was at stake. And the crowds cheered, and the winners shed tears of joy and apologised to their families for the long hours they had been doing training when they should have been with their families, being a child, father or mother. But loved their sports so much, they did that, training long, lonely hours to win a gold medal.

There were professional sports that took part in the Games; tennis, even athletics and football. The footballers who took part will have gone back to their clubs, trained some more and got on with earning more money. Those from non-professional sports went back to their semi-detached lives, and got back into training after a break. And seeing the commitment of those true amateurs really show up in stark of starkest contrast the professionalism of the footballers, some of whom earn £200,000 or more per week, and think nothing of throwing themselves to the ground during a challenge, feign injury, trip of a player whose skill has gained an advantage.

I know how fake and so far removed from the game I fell in love with, I told myself I still care about the game, and the modern version has just evolved. But in truth, it’s a cold, horrible and ultimately greedy game that coverts money and fans with money, and ignores those who cannot afford £50 to watch a game or the £30 a month for Sky. I will not support those prima-donnas no more, not even with my team about to begin a second season in the Premier League. I will watch Match of the Day, and there is Football League games on BBC, but that is it. I won’t pay a penny into this game no more. On Sundays I will not rush home to watch the early kick off, nor sit there all afternoon for the second game.

On occasion I feel like I might give in and call Sky, but I tell myself that £30 is better spent on a ticket to London once a month to visit the museums and sights, rather than spend it on a game that rewards such shallow values and rewards a lifetime of support by out-pricing those that cannot afford to go and watch.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Tuesday 15th August 2012

And already the post-Olympic hangover has begun. Stories like the terrible state our and the European economies are in are making top story in the news reports. As are horrible murders, bad weather and the much more mundane. Yesterday, the great departure begun, with athletes and spectators heading for the airports and St Pancras to go home. As I arrived in St Pancras a Eurostar with the Dutch team, all dressed in Orange tracksuits, was pulling out of the next platform. The French team also left the same morning. A special Olympic departure terminal has been set up at Heathrow, which is turfed and manned by actors. Or that is the feeling I got from the interviews on the radio.

Harvest

News reports and features are focusing on the ‘legacy’ of the games, and what this could mean for the future and are the various sports ready for the influx of enthused young people who might want to try their sports. The feeling seemed to be is that its summer and there is no one around. That so little planning for this feel good period has been made might explain why the LTA and other sports have been searching for champions since before the war. It might not be really that bad, but then again……

Sorting the wheat from the chaff

I am in Warrington until Wednesday, days full of meetings and writing. And picking up an ex-company laptop for less than a ton as mine is really struggling with Photoshop now I am using photomerge more often. So, I get to stay in a hotel with all the travelling salesmen, sitting at tables for four on our own, looking that the news channel playing on the TV in the corner and longing for conversation. I have a book to read at least, and the big question was should I choose courses which freed up one hand so I could hold the book in the other? In the end, I read inbetween mouthfuls, which worked.

Brown Argus

The weekend was glorious to be honest; on Saturday morning we went for a walk to the cliffs, searching for butterflies and flowers and just getting out. There was a gentle breeze blowing, but was hot and I did get burned on my neck. I snapped lots of butterflies and moths, and really loved getting out. I thought I saw a Fritillary, but I could have been mistaken. In the end I did snap another new species, a Wall, and got a few on film. And then there was the normal range of butterflies, all of which were snapped in due course. I did get a couple of blues, too, which is always good as well as a Brown Argus.

Wall Butterfly

The cliffs were the real highlight, as they always are, with the tide well out the view down was onto rocks and chalk-falls. We had a cuppa and a piece of shortbread at Bluebirds before walking back home.

Artichoke

Sunday, if anything, was even hotter, and after checking the glade for butterflies it was back home for ice juice before heading out to Walmer Castle. Oh yes, those second lot of butterfly shots; I managed to rotate one of the camera controls and in doing so ruined all of the shots after my friend Gary arrived, which included some great shots of the Brown Argus and Red Admirals. Bugger.

Black Hole Sun

Back home in the shade, I quickly made dough for rolls for dinner and cooked a stir fry for lunch. And then out back into the sunshine to head to Walmer. It was so hot, I refused to go into the greenhouses as I was already sweating from my hairline into my eyes. And it stung. But I got lots of shots of fine flowers and plants, but the dragonflies we wanted to see were absent. However, I did get a few shots of a Hawkers as it landed on an artichoke.

In time it clouded over, and it was time to head home and pop the rolls into the oven and have a look at the last day of the games. And that night we sat down to watch the closing ceremony, which was filled with music. Some of it worked, some didn’t, and whole genres of British music was ignored and George Michael got to sing two songs despite not doing much of note in the last decade but crash cars whilst high on pot. I drew the line at the Spice Hags who sang on top of taxis, sadly not underneath, and then Jesie J came out to sing ‘We Will Rock You’ with Brian May with long grey curly hair, doing his geetar thing. I went to bed. And so missed Take That. Sorry, ‘missed.’

shades of pink

And that was your weekend, I had to come up here yesterday, and once at the hotel knuckle down and get working.

And that is me up to day as per Tuesday afternoon, but be prepared for more quality related issues until my return to Jelltex Towers tomorrow evening….

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Monday 13th August 2012

And so the working week begins again. And I'm off on my travels again later this morning, travelling to Warrington for yet more meetings. I'll be back home sometime in the later half of the week.

Its been a fine weekend, with the sun shining, mostly, form clear blue skies. We got out and walked a couple of times, and headed to Walmer Castle to look at the summer colours. And then their was the Olympics which finished in a cacophony of noise and flashing lights on Sunday night. The Games, I think, will be regarded as a success as Team GB finished with 29 golds, and there being no major issues with the venues or transport system. With the vexed issue of the availability of tickets to the public one that was never resolved, and the early days blighted by banks of empty seats as the so called 'Olympic Family' did not take up their allocation.

That apart, it has been glorious, with hundreds of sporting highlights, and rivers of tears cried to to victories and defeats. World records were broken, personal bests were beaten and memories made that will last a lifetime.

So, on Friday I had to make my way back home from Denmark; were were due to leave the hotel at a quarter to seven with just a cup of coffee to fill us until we got to the airport at Billund. As it turned out the smell of freshly baked rolls meant we had breakfast after all, and we ended up leaving ten minutes late. Due to rush hour in Arhus, we were a little behind, and we arrived at the airport just before nine, and Graeme had to rush through customs after handing the car keys back as his flight left some two hours before mine.

And I had those two hours to wait, and read the magazine I had brought with me, looked round the duty free shop and bought Jools some Lego; well, Legoland was less than a mile away! And then it was time to get on the plane, and head south to Frankfurt.

Once we cleared Danish airspace, the skies cleared and we could see the countryside laid out like a carpet below us roll by. I took a few shots as we approached Frankfurt, with the Rheine being clear to see and several cities too.

And I had another two and a half hours to wait until my flight to London departed. So, I walked to the right terminal, and found a Chinese restaurant and ordered a light meal and then found my gate and sat down to look at the planes coming and going whilst reading a copy of the Financial Times.

And then it was time to leave Germany; I had another window seat and had my camera with me in case we flew over the Olympic Park as we landed. Once we cleared the French coast, I could see the shape of Thanet and the Thames stretching into the haze.

The City

We flew over south London, turning round over Battersea and then dropping very low as we got nearer to dockland. I got some shots as we flew over St Paul's and The City. As we shook and rolled our way even lower, I got a view over to Stratford and got a couple of shots of the Olympic Park.

Olympic Park

My bag was one of the first off the plane, and so I went up to the DLR station and a train straight to Stratford was already waiting. I was dreading this part, with the stadium in use that night so it would be crowded, right? No; by the time the train left Stratford Regional, I had the carriage to myself, and so made my way to the International Station and down onto the platform. There were dozens of people waiting, but soon enough a 12 car train pulled in and we all got on and I even got a seat.

And we were soon whizzing through the tunnels towards the Essex flatlands and the crossing at Dartford and into Kent. A change of train at Ashford, and that was it, arriving into Dover at half six, which made my journey taking some 13 and a half hours. I was travelling from just Denmark not the other side of the world, and i was shattered.

Jools was waiting, and so we headed off back home to our house on the cliffs and a weekend together in the summer sunshine.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Friday 10th August 2012

It is Monday and I’m in sunny Denmark. No, really, it is sunny, and warm. At this rate all things we come to rely on will be revealed as lies.

Yes, I am in Denmark, it is half nine local time and I’m trying to watch the Olympic coverage on the local TV station. Or it be Norwegian. There really is no way of being sure. It’s the women’s 400m hurdles semi-finals, and not sure who is winning. The women’s pole vault is also under way, but the Brit is already out.

So to yesterday, and six golds for team GB including the men’s single tennis as Andy Murray thrashed Roger Federer in straight sets, but then only won the silver in the mixed doubles. Only.

More gold in the sailing, cycling and elsewhere. I know I should be more accurate, but I can’t. Maybe another in the rowing too….

Today, more gold in the team showjumping and maybe more this evening. 18 gold so far, and 39 medals in all.

Also last night was the men’s 100m, and Mr Bolt thrashed the field putting to rest all the doubts about is form. Now he goes for the 200m. And who’s going to bet against him? Not me for sure…..

Up at quarter to five this morning, and out of the house by half past to be at the station to cat ch the train to Ashford. Change onto the Javelin to Stratford and only to be met by half a dozen armed police officers. I thought I paid that library fine….

Most were off to the Olympic Park, or course, but I made my way onto the DLR and onto the airport, and sat and watched the TV and actually getting a drink or food with just two people serving was asking too much. It was wonderful flying out over London, we did not see the OLypic park, but I got a good look along the Thames at the cruiseliners and warships at anchor.

We flew out along the Thames and along the north Kent coast. I saw the turbines of Thanet and the workboats; amazing that I know people on those toy looking boats. And over France into Germany and down into Frankfurt to change planes.

IN a bid to save £200 on the direct filght with BA, we now have to fly indirect, just the one flight a day, which means losing a day at the beginning and end of the trip due to travel, so only getting three productive days out of me this week. Some might say that is an improvement on normal….

So a dash across the airport to get to the gate only for a bus to take me back next to the aircraft I arrived on. And up in the air again, and over north Germany to Denmark and land a Billund to meet with the other auditor. A quick brunch before we leave the airport and off into the Danish countryside to Randers. Pronounced Ranis.

And that is it. I am full of Danish beer and wondering if I should go to bed as I have to meet Graeme at half six for a quick breakfast and off to work…

Phew.

Dateline: 7th August, Randers Denmark.

Six days left in the Olympic Games and Team GB is sitting third in the medal tables with 18 gold medals, just one behind the total for the whole of the Beijing games four years ago. And today there is the possibility of more medals and maybe golds too. Thankfully I can read reports here on the bBC website, and watch many events on the Danish and Norwegian channels on TV. That they are obviously in a different language, and focus on the events they are going to be good at, for example, handball, means it is a different Olympic experience here.

At home the BBC has pledged to cover EVERY event on TV, via the red button on the digital TV, which we all have now as the analogue signals were turned off last week. Which means we can watch handball, trampolining, swimming, etc, live and with expert commentary. It really has been wonderful and very addictive. And so not to have it makes the sports addict in me suffer from withdrawals……

In a surprise move, the sun has been shining since we arrived, and from what I understood of the forecast this morning, even more sunshine is due to arrive here for Thursday and Friday. Denmark, I think, has suffered even worse than the UK has with rain this summer, and flying in yesterday I could see most fields either under water of brown with mud.

Randers, Denmark: 8th August 2012.

The Olympics continue, with coverage at time across 5 channels on my hotel room TV. Not sure if all are Danish TV, but it is pretty good coverage, even if it is heavy on the handball coverage which is a huge sport here. I think the competition finishes at the weekend, and it building well with the semi-finals on Friday already being looked forward to by my friend, Jesper. Oh yes, Mr J, more about him later; but frst some headlines from the BBC webpage:

“Sir Chris Hoy claimed a sixth Olympic gold medal to become the most successful British Olympian of all time. Having won gold on the first night of the track cycling in the men's team sprint, Hoy's triumph in the keirin was the perfect finale for Team GB. Hoy's six golds take him past rowing great Sir Steve Redgrave's five. And with a silver from Sydney 2000 as well, he equals Bradley Wiggins's record total of seven medals.

Britain's Laura Trott won a superb second gold medal of the Games with victory in the women's omnium. Having claimed gold in the women's team pursuit on Saturday, she is now a double Olympic and world champion at just 20 years of age.

Victoria Pendleton was denied a fairytale farewell on the track as she lost her Olympic sprint title to Australia's Anna Meares. Pendleton won race one of the three-leg final against Australia's Meares by 0.001 seconds but was disqualified for riding out of the sprinting lane. The Briton - the defending champion - tried to hit back in race two. But a stunning Meares finish gave her a 2-0 win and left Pendleton with silver.

Britain's Alistair Brownlee won a brilliant Olympic triathlon gold as younger brother Jonny took bronze. The elder Brownlee, injured for the first half of the year, went away on the 10km run and crossed the line with a union jack draped over his shoulders to delight a huge Hyde Park crowd.

Great Britain won a 20th gold medal of London 2012 inside the dressage arena, surpassing Beijing 2008 for the team's best tally in more than a century. Laura Bechtolsheimer, Carl Hester and Charlotte Dujardin took team gold ahead of Germany inside Greenwich Park.”

Phew.

That all takes the Team GB gold medal total to 22, the highest number since the London Olympics in 1908. Cue 22 carat gold headlines in some of the redtops.

I didn’t watch much action yesterday, as after work I went out with Jesper for dinner and then to a ‘British’ pub for a few drinks. Randers is deathly quiet on a Tuesday night, with just a few folks walking around. It took about 10 minutes to walk the deserted streets to the small square where Jesper thought we should have a burger. We both ordered the HOT burger and a coffee beer each too. Yes, coffee beer, and it was wonderfully dark and strong. After eating we had another of the beers just to make sure it was as good as the first.

It was.

And then another 5 minute walk to the pub and from the open door I heard the sounds of Rainbow’s ‘Since You’ve Been Gone’, my kind of place. We had a couple of Leffes and a couple of Hoegaardens, the later ones with either a whisky or schnapps chaser. Across the bar, there was a couple of TVs showing the games, and I know I watched some of the athletics, but I can’t remember what and nor who won. The trio of loud and very drunk girls who were in the bar when we arrived had been thrown out, and thought that Jesper was an undercover policeman and so kept walking by shouting what I guess was obscenities through the open door. Classy. Not that it upset us or put us off our drinks.

And then it was time to go home, or back to the hotel, anyway.

And my head was spinning first thing, but has settled down now, and I begin to write my audit reports….

More later.

Randers, Denmark 9th August.

Here I am, last night in the hotel and waiting for the 200m final to start. I am watching the games in Dansih.

Or Swedish.

Or Norwegian.

Or even Finnish.

Who knows, the pictures are all the same. Waiting to see if Mt Bolt can add the 200m to his 100m and do the double.

Again.

In other news, Britain has won 2 more gold medals today, in women’s boxing and showjumping. In total that is now 24, and we have over-performed. Which is good. Morrissey is complaining about the jingoism. He would of course. How could you not cheer on your own country? Maybe it’s the LA air that does it to his brain. Still love the music, Moz, just don’t speak between the songs, OK?

And sunshine in Denmark. Proper wall the wall endless sunshine and no rain at all oh no oh no. Its even too warm in the office, which is hard to believe. Biggest day or work today, 5 audits, and now I have to write the reports. Tomorrow is a day or travelling to get back home. We cannot take direct flights anymore as the company wants to save €80 by using a hub, but does mean that a ahlf days travel is now a whole day and in a week they lose two days work off everyone who travels this way. I would say the time now lost is worth a lot more than €80, but hey, it looks good, right. And the CEO has cancelled his executive jet, so we’re all in this together?

After dinner last night, Graeme and I went for a walk around town. There is the town festival being set up, so we looked that the extra works of art being put up along with the tents for the beer sellers and other wonderful things like kebabs and other dirty food. We ended up walking over an old railway bridge, and then along the the harbourside as the sun went down. It was rather nice, and so I carried on taking shots as the 50mm f1.4 just was able to keep getting results.

Tonight, before dinner, I walked looking for churches, but found the sun in the wrong position and me not having the wide angle with me. I still got some nice shots and then met Graeme for HOT burger and coffee beer again. Just as good, and we were able to sit outside and eat. Lovely.

And in London now, the skies darken and the athletes are now getting ready for the 200m, the anticipation in the crowd rises, as we all think we’re about to watch something special.

And Bolt wins. 2 hundredths of a second outside the Olympic record…..

Time for bed

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Sunday 5th August 2012

And so to 'Super Saturday' as the less imaginative sections had called it, and on this day Britain won 6 gold medals, three of them track and field in the space of 45 minutes. It seemed that the day could not get any better.

I watched the trampoline; seeing something that on the face of it is quite simple, jumping up and down, doing tumbles and twists. but the supreme athletes made it all look so simple and thoroughly enjoyable. Canada took the gold in that. Switch over the TV to see British women win team pursuit gold in the 3km. The won the semi-final and the final, in world record ties. In fact their last six races all had been won in world record time. At the end, Paul McCartney led the crowd in a chorus of 'Hey Jude'. You couldn't make this stuff up. Swith channels again to see the athletics and Michael Phelps win an 18th and final gold medal in the 100m medley relay. That is 22 Olympic medals for him over three games, and 18 of them gold, double more than any other Olympian.

Paul McCartney at the Velodrome London Olympics 2012

The the athletics; three golds and the 70,000 in the stadium going mad. Even the British who, and lets be honest here, thought that the whole games was going to fall flat on its face have been caught up in it all. No one is watching much else, and as Andy Salzman says, ITV could be showing 24 hard core porn and people still wouldn't be watching.....

"Two rowing golds and a track cycling gold set the tone on "Super Saturday" before Britain's athletes took centre stage in a golden hour for the sport.

Heptathlete Jessica Ennis, long jumper Greg Rutherford and 10,000m runner Mo Farah all won in the Olympic Stadium.

Team GB won the Olympic title in the men's coxless four for the fourth successive Games

Katherine Copeland and Sophie Hosking won the women's lightweight double sculls after powering away from China

In cycling, the women's team pursuit trio set a new world record to clinch gold.

Ennis began a stunning 45 minutes of triple athletics gold in the evening by rounding off her heptathlon victory in the 800m.

She had led her rivals after the four events on day one, before as good as sealing gold with strong performances in the long jump and javelin on day two.

Within minutes Greg Rutherford had won gold in the men's long jump with a leap of 8.31m, Britain's first Olympic gold in the event since Lynn Davies in 1964.

"What a night for British athletics," Rutherford told BBC Sport. "Three gold medals. It's absolutely incredible."

The hat-trick was completed by Mo Farah, who became the first British athlete to win Olympic gold at 10,000m.

"I just can't believe it. It's never going to get any better than this. It's the best moment of my life," he said."

The only downer came right at the end of the day as the GB men's football team follower the women out of the games, the men losing on penalties to South Korea. Oh well.

What else happened? well, sat in the garden, did some exercise, weeded the front garden, made bread rolls. Relaxed. That's about it.

Saturday 4th August 2012

Highlights of day seven of the Olympics which you may have noticed is taking place in London at the moment.

Great Britain won its fourth Olympic gold in 24 hours - and sixth in total - as Katherine Grainger and Anna Watkins triumphed in the women's double sculls.

Team GB shattered their own world record as they defended the men's Olympic pursuit title to win Friday's second gold medal for Britain. The quartet of Ed Clancy, Geraint Thomas, Steven Burke and Peter Kennaugh clocked three minutes 51.659 seconds to knock nearly a second off the world record they set in qualifying.

Victoria Pendleton capped a sensational evening for Britain's track cyclists with victory in the women's keirin. The 31-year-old Briton, who retires after London 2012, adds a second gold to the one she won in the sprint at the Beijing Games in 2008.

(Thanks to the BBC)

And the program for day 8.....

09:5013:55 Athletics Heats, Prelim, Qualifying

09:5511:40 Cycling - Track Men's Qualifying and Finals

09:2513:20 Rowing Heats and Finals

08:5511:50 Triathlon Women's Final

12:0020:40 Tennis Women's and Men's Finals

18:4022:13 Athletics Semi-finals, Finals

19:2021:40 Football Men's quarter-finals - Great Britain v South Korea

19:2521:15 Swimming Finals

Yes, Queen Victoria Pendleton won gold in the maddest cycling event. In the Keirin, the six competitors start as an electric bicycle heads past and travels at a steady 45km/h. The six cyclists then follow the electric bike, being ridden by Mr McGary from TV's Camblewick Green for 5 laps, he then peels off and the cyclists then cycle like mad for three laps and its all over. And the first won over the line wins.

Quite what the point of all this is, I don't know. But a British win was greeted like every single member of the crowd had won the lottery.

But, it has been another wonderful golden day for Team GB, and in other venues competition began, like in the main stadium where the sports day has begun, and Jessica Ennis is leading the heptathlon. And today is 'super Saturday' in which double the events will take place and in some cases the track will be used by two sports at the same time.

And Michael Phelps has won another couple of gold medals, just to be certain of his place in olympic history, and now has 15, or is it 16 golds? anyway, he IS a machine and will retire after the final relay event at these games. All other swimmer say "phew".

In other news, I am heading to sunny Denmark next week and I had to visit the railway station to book a ticket. You do realise it will be very busy, sir? Yes, its a Monday morning. And you want to get off where? Stratford. On a Monday morning? That will be busy and expensive. I have to catch a plane and the company will be paying.

He typed details into the machine; that will be £76 to your company credit card, he said sarcastically. I paid and took the tickets... So, on Monday I will see how London is coping with the rush hour and the world's biggest sporting event (that's the Olympics) and then see how it is being covered elsewhere in the world. Well, Denmark. And maybe find that other stuff is happening in the world. Not just running, jumping and shooting.

Its Saturday, and raining. So, no change there, then.....

Friday, 3 August 2012

Friday 3rd August 2012

Hello, and welcome to what is becoming the daily blog of the London 2012 Olympic Games. Although it writing that I could be charged with mis-appropriation of the use of that combination of words as I am not an ‘official’ partner of the games. But then I’m trying to sell you a burger of sugared fizzy drink. So, I’ll take my chances.

Thursday, which I think was day 6, I’ve lost count to be honest, saw Team GB win three more gold medals and the nation swooned and went, well, mental. Before we talk about that, let’s look at today’s events:

09:50 13:55 Athletics Heats

09:20 12:55 Handball Women's Angola v GB

09:25 13:20 Rowing Sculls finals

09:55 12:15 Swimming Heats

12:00 20:10 Tennis Semi-finals: Federer v Del Potro

15:55 19:10 Cycling - Track Finals

18:50 22:05 Athletics Heats

19:20 21:40 Football Women's quarter-final: GB v Canada

19:25 21:00 Swimming Finals

Yes, the athletics begin today; or track and field as Radio Four called it this morning. It’ll change to sports day soon.

Sports days, then.

Golden lining

And the swimming continues, as does the football, cycling, rowing and tennis. As does other stuff I guess which does not get mentioned. As it was in one of these ‘minor’ spors we won gold yesterday. Here’s what the BBC had to say about it all:

“The men's sprint cycling team twice broke the world record on their way to victory in a packed Velodrome - a result that also saw Sir Chris Hoy equal Sir Steve Redgrave's British record of five Olympic titles. It came just hours after Britain had claimed two golds and a silver within the space of five minutes in the men's canoe slalom and the men's double trap shooting. Canoeists Tim Baillie and Etienne Stott triumphed mid-afternoon with countrymen David Florence and Richard Hounslow second at the Lee Valley Water Centre. Moments later, shooter Peter Wilson won in the double trap at the Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich.”

Phew, saves me writing it all down.

Yes, military type wins shooting gold, quiet type. Hmmm. He did sink to his knees after is 200th shot as he won by just two shots. It did matter to him, and brought roar of approval from the packed grandstand. Yes, packed. Grandstand. The paddling was exciting as GB came first and second and so won gold and silver. More exciting stuff.

moon

And after dinner last night, I cooked chorizo hash which was wonderful as ever. Anyway, we turned on the TV to watch the cycling and the British spring pursuit won gold in a world record time. We cheered.

And then more swimming continued; and Michael Phelps won his 20th medal, 15 of them GOLD, and ten minutes later took part on the semi-final in another event. He is now the most decorated Olympian in history, and could win yet another medal tonight. He is a handsome slab of muscular human flesh with hands the size and shape of shovels. And such a nice guy too.

Bryter Layter

At a quarter past eight, we headed off in the car to go to the cliffs to watch the full moon rise over the gloom of Calais. Sadly, there was mist and/or smog, and so we did nto see the moon until it was some way above the horizon. But in the opposite direction we had watched the sunset, as the sky was filled with golden light and illuminated the few fluffy clouds that we about. All around us, crickets and grasshoppers chirped, and below us ferries raced each other to get into Dover harbour.

Setting Suns

Once the moon was above the clouds and shining in the darkening sky, we headed back home where Jools ate an ice cream and I supped a glass of wine as we watched the swimming we had recorded. Not another bad day.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Thursday 2nd August 2012

And day six in the Olympic bubble and Britain is basking in a post Wednesday golden hangover, with expectations now going through the roof for a large number of athelets who have yet to compete.

Saying that, the GM men's team did beat Uruguay last night to send their opponents home early and for GB to head to the quarter-finals. They really are looking like a team at the moment and now have a match in Cardiff on Saturday for a place in the semis.

Todays sports to watch are:

08:55 16:40 Fencing Women's Team Foil Quarter-finals

09:25 12:40 Judo Quarter-finals

09:25 13:20 Rowing Men's Double Sculls Final

12:00 20:10 Tennis Men's Quarter-Finals - Murray v Almagro

13:25 17:10 Canoe Slalom Finals Men's C2, Women's K1

14:55 16:10 Shooting Men's Double Trap final

15:55 18:45 Cycling - Track Team Sprint

18:50 22:55 Hockey Women's pool matches

19:25 21:15 Swimming Finals

And as you can see, the velodrome opens its doors for the first time today, which should provide a rich seam of gold for 'team GB'.

In other news, it is a new month and so the year wanes away heading towards autumn. Our thoughts are turning towards autumnal fruit from the hedgerows and the jams, pickles and wines we hope to make. August is also when we bake our Christmas cake and brew the Christmas porter. I think we shall do that at the end of the month.

On the home front we are still trying to dry out our living room carpet after the radiator leak, and we have had to roll the carpet up to allow the underlay to dry. Its a slow business, but hope to have things back to normal by the weekend and maybe even a new radiator installed.

Outside the unsettled weather has returned, with a stiff breeze and occasional showers. I hope that things warm up again and we have a golden month with the weather. we really have had enough of the rain already.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Wednesday 1st August 2012

And day 5 of the games; still no sign of any athletics happening, but pretty much everything else is underway, and Britain now has 4 medals, but no gold. I watched the swimming last night to see Michael Phelps win another silver and gold medal to become the most bemedalled Olympian ever with 19 of them including 15 gold. He is now to retire after three Olympics at the age of 27.

The British ladies beat Brazil 1-0 in front of over 70,000 fans at Wembley to cement their place at the top of their qualifying group and go on to face Canada in the knock out round.

Today’s line-up.

09:24 12:40 Judo Quarter-finals

09:24 13:20 Rowing Final

12:25 16:35 Cycling - Road Time Trial

13:25 16:25 Canoe Slalom Final

16:25 19:25 Gymnastics - Artistic Final

16:50 21:55 Football Preliminaries

And our big chance of a gold is in the time trial cycling where Wiggo takes his yellow jersey and swaps it for a team GB lycra body stocking and hopefully will come in first, as he is the best at time trialling; but we said something similar about Cav on Saturday didn’t we?

Another scandal hit the Olympics last night, as four of the men’s double badminton teams played each other and tried to lose therefore avoiding each other in the quarter finals. The umpire as livid, brandishing the disqualified black card about, but the games did finish amid boos coming from the sell-out crowd. And today all four pairs were kicked out of the games.

In football, in the Champion’s League, we have to sit through ‘dead rubbers’ at the end of the group stages as teams don’t really have to win. And we even heard discussions during the Euros that England might look to finish second to avoid a better team. Seems like this is not allowed in badminton, and especially in the Olympics, and this has been treated very seriously indeed, and even drew comments from Lord Coe, who has taken a Darth Vader like presence behind the games.

If only all sports took gamesmanship so seriously, the we would have no cheating, diving, swearing, arguing with officials, tackles from behind, handball or the other ‘professional’ tactics that we have seemed to accept as part of modern sports.

Wiggo 2

And I can reveal that Britain has won its first gold medals; Helen Glover and Heather Stanning won the women's pairs in rowing, and Sir Bradley of Wiggins of Sideburn Castle romped home to win the individual men's pursuit gold too. What a glorious golden day it has been for Britain, and Britain jump from 22nd to 10th in the medal table. But we're not counting, are we?

Oh yes we are.