Friday, 30 November 2012

Friday 30th November 2012

And so it came to pass that my old boss did call to tell me that there is change and that the change is that he is no longer my boss. Or line manager or whatever it is called these days.

It was obvious that this was going to happen, I said as much yesterday, or course. We chatted about things and it turned into something akin to a love in. You're great. No you're great. And so on.

So, come Monday, our new department, which is the same as the department that was disestablished in the spring (it even is called the same thing!) So, the more things change, the more they stay the same.....

And so the weekend begins; and tonight I'm off to see the new Bond film whilst Jools goes bowling with work. I am glad not to be going bowling to be honest. And tomorrow we're going looking for homebrew kits for a friend, Jools will want to roadtest her new camera which I picked up this afternoon.

Snow-watch sitrep: No snow as yet.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Thursday 29th November 2012

I have heard it said that change is part of life, an ever-changing process that happens to us all. Of course, the other thing change does bring is uncertainty. And when change comes unexpected an unannounced it brings an extra-large helping of uncertainty.

I get a call this morning from someone who has been employed as a manager on one of our upcoming projects only to be told that he is to become my new manager. Now, this change is not confirmed, but it is clear that even if it is not implemented, things will not be the same again.


In the event that this does come to pass, I did give a briefing to my new boss last week and it seems I have impressed his with my knowledge of possible problems and solutions we might have in future projects. Saying that, quite how my old boss is going to react to this is another matter. I have worked under him for over two and a half years, and it was he who employed me, and I can say that he is the best manager I have ever worked under. To have someone who listens to what I say and acts on my suggestions was more than a novelty at the beginning and is now the norm. I am pretty much left on my own to get on with my job, meet my targets and the such. It has been a great period, and if it is to change, then so be it.

It has been great working here in Ramsgate, commuting in every day and driving home along pretty much empty roads. I know I have been lucky. Whatever the new year brings, it will be change as I begin to work on projects, travelling to Denmark and Sweden most weeks, maybe even living there for a while.

We shall see.

But for a few weeks it should be business as usual, other than travelling back to Denmark twice before Christmas, which is fast becoming a chore. But being able to use these trips to sample the various Christmas beers on offer or to meet old friends like I have done, then it serves me well.

This morning the Daily Express leads with the promise of extreme winter weather until February; given that the BBC struggles to get tomorrow’s weather right, then we will treat this with the contempt it deserves. Later today, Lord Leveson publishes his report into the print media industry, with all papers this morning going apoplectic about implications over stronger or legal regulation. That most can’t see what they did wrong in the first place; hacking missing schoolgirl’s phones for one, paying police for information another. Clearly, things hve to change, and we cannot trust newspapers to regulate themselves, so someone will have to. This will require a judgement of Solomon to steer a path through the minefields, and that we have Moonface Cameron in charge, expect a balls-up on a grand scale.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Tuesday 27th November 2012

So, what a wonderful year 2012 has been for British sports. Well, for the most part anyway. England failed again in the finals of a major competition, but then we expected nothing less, or is it more? And since then, the comparison between our millionaire footballers and the (mostly) amateur Olympic and Paralympic sportsmen and women could not be more stark.

Now that the season is well under way once again, the cheating, diving and general unpleasantness has begun all over again, and those of us who had a wonderful time watching on TV or in person at the Olympics and Paralympics did ponder how the Premier League would compare. Just as badly as we thought, as it turned out.

Racial slurs, diving, accusing referees of racism (something new to add to the mix) as well as the usual mindgames, premature sackings and all the while we fans expecting to carry on paying ever higher tickets and Sky subscriptions to fund the whole crazy circus.

Last night the shortlist for the annual BBC Sports ‘Personality’ of the Year was announced, and I think it works out to 11 Olympians or Paralympians and a golfer. And that’s yer 12. For me the race is between Andy Murray and Bradley Wiggins, both of which have achieved wonderful things this year; first grand slam by a Brit since before WW2, first Tour de France win EVER by a Brit as well as being Olympic champions too. Both deserve to win. But then do the other 10 who in any other ‘normal’ year would have been a shoe-in.

I put the personality above in commas as it really isn’t about personality; if it was Mark Cavendish wouldn’t have won last year. A great cyclist and sportsman for sure, but single-minded to only car about winning. Eddie ‘the eagle’ Edwards had a personality, and look where that got him! However, he still holds the British sky jump record.

So, four months into the season, and am I missing not having Sky Sports? Well, yes. But, I will not budge, not now I have the lens, and it really is quite horrible, and with the new TV deal next year players in three years could be earning half a million pounds a week. Not all players, but some. And who can really support that?

So, my top three are:

1. Bradley Wiggins

2. Andy Murray

3. Mo Farrah

But it has been a vintage year, and one we will never see the likes of again.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Monday 26th November 2012

So, where were we?

Oh yes, about to leave head office in Denmark. Due to work commitments of others, the meeting I had travelled over to chair took place in the two hours between lunch on Wednesday and when it was time to leave for the airport. It is gratifying, therefore, that with such time constraints, the meeting scheduled to last four hours, was over in just over 70 minutes, I packed up my stuff and headed to the car for the 77 mile drive to the airport at Billund.

I am getting used to the drive, but it is good to have the sat nav with me for confirmation of when to turn off the motorway. Anyway, I arrived at the airport with a good 90 minutes to spare, filled up the petrol tank, parked up, dropped the keys off, checked in and headed up to security. Once through I headed straight to the gastro-bar (their words not mine) for a bottle of Imperial Stout and a smoked duck sandwich. All good stuff.

I did manage to keep an eye on the clock this time, so went down to the gate at the first call, not having to run like I did last week. And soon enough we got on board the tiny plane, strapped ourselves in and soon we headed off into the darkness and mist of the Danish evening. I could see nothing out of the window until we were on final approach down the Thames as Clacton and Southend could be seen through gaps in the clouds. London looked as it ever does, busy and clogged with traffic. It was really quite windy, and so the plane shook and as we touched down, the plane was at quite an angle to the runway. As the reverse thrust kicked on, we slewed to a halt, then taxied to the gate.

In a change to the queues last week, we walked right to immigration, went through and our bags were waiting for us. Grabbing those, rushed through the terminal to the DLR station for the dash across east London to Stratford. Getting to the international station, I had 20 minutes to wait so grabbed a coffee and a bite to eat, before heading down onto the platform for the train to Ashford, where, if our plans were correct, Jools would be waiting. This is what happens when you forget to take your mobile with you, you have to make plans and arrangements in advance. As it turned out, Jools had to head to Ashford to pick up my new camera lens that could not be delivered as we were both at work. So, she was waiting as I got off the train and we headed back to Dover for a supper of Scotch Eggs and Christmas Stollen. A winning supper for sure.

Wolf Howard

Despite how wonderful international business travel sounds, it does become a grind very quickly; so the thought of just driving to the office on Thursday morning was a pleasant one. The office was quiet due to strong winds, so I pretty much had the place to myself. The day passed as usual with the help of coffee and streaming the Radcliffe and Maconie show from the BBC.

Mike Garry

Friday evening, we were on a tight schedule, as we had to be in Gillingham by seven for a gig. I prepared chorizo hash for dinner, and at six we set off up the A2. We were off to see John Cooper Clarke; John is a poet who has been through some ups and down in his life, but now he has kicked drugs into touch, he has experienced a surge in interest, and now gigs more than he has ever done. I have been a fan since seeing him on a TV program called Innes Book of Records, and wondering who this wild haired stick insect was.

John Cooper Clarke

Along with an eclectic mix of folks, we gathered at a small theatre for the show, and had to wait until quarter past ten for the appearance of the main man. John is now a raconteur as well as a poet, and he spent the 75 minutes talking more than reading his poems. But we didn’t mind, as it was a great show, and a thrill for me to finally see him after waiting over 30 years. Was it worth it? Yes. Did Jools enjoy it? Well, as it was her birthday, and I am sure that she probably thought we might be spending her birthday doing something different. It was just our luck that JCC’s tour only brought him to Kent on the night of her birthday.

And then we had to drive back to Dover, first of all getting out of Medway through their wonderful one way system. At least the roads were empty, and we got back home just before half midnight; which is so beyond our normal bedtime.

We had to be up at the crack of dawn on Saturday to head up to London. We had booked a cruise down the Thames looking at architecture of the City old and new. Of course, when we booked up the tour, we didn’t know what the weather was going to be like. As it turned out, the forecast was grim with heavy rain and wind. Had we not already paid for the tour and train tickets to go up, coupled with our late night on Friday, we might have not gone up to London at all, but as it was, we caught the quarter to ten train.

Duck Tour

All the way up, rain fell steadily. We got out at St Pancras and took the Northern Line to London Bridge, and then walked along the river to Festival Pier. We stopped off for a bite to eat and a coffee before the tour was due to board. A wise choice as it turned out as the refreshments on the boat were limited pretty much to mince pies and mulled wine. So, full of vegetable soup and coffee we dodged the puddles on the final stretch to the pier and climbed aboard.

St George's Wharf, London

At one, we pulled away from the bank and set off upstream with an professional architect giving a thorough commentary the whole trip. As the rain fell, we could not go onto the deck, so made do with looking through the rain running down the windows. It was a pleasant enough trip, especially as we went as far upstream as Battersea before heading back down stream.

SIS Building

I guess at just about three hours, it was a good trip, and we have many ideas for further trips to London. Once off the boat, the plan was to have a wander around, but as it turned out, the streets were full of puddles, well,, now more like ponds. Photography was just about impossible in the driving rain, so we made the decision to head home instead. A wise choice as we were both to snooze on the train back to Kent. Getting back to St Pancras turned out to be a challenge, as several lines were closed for ‘upgrade’ work. That’s engineering in olde English. So, getting across London not using the Circle Line or DLR was tricky. We ended up retracing our steps of the morning. We arrived at St Pancras in time to get on the train to Dover, and get seats round a table before the train filled up with shoppers.


It is easy to forget that there is a recession on looking at the bags of expensive goods that folks squeezed on the train with. We got off in Dover and stopped off at the chippy on the way home, and back home in time for Jools to watch most of Strictly, and for me to sort through pictures and check the football results. City fought back via a last minute equaliser at Everton to claim a point. 6 games unbeaten now!

The Book Seller

Sunday morning we headed off early so I could roadtest the new lens. We went down to the spot under the castle where a friend has been scattering seeds and nuts for over a year, and a wide and varied collection of birds comes to feed, close enough for us to snap. In truth, the results were not as good as I’d hoped, but this is down to me not setting the camera up right; will have to use f7 next time and home to get camera shake on my shots. Still, I got shots of Jays, Magpies and various finches; so, I am quite happy.

Blue Tit

The rest of the day, we decided to chill; well, after a quick trip to Tesco for some urgent supplies, which did include mincemeat and frozen puff pastry. Oh well. We had mozzarella and tomato for lunch, and washed down with a glass or two of red, which did explain why I snoozed for most of the afternoon when I should have been listening to the radio.


And that was your weekend, and this week is a whole week in the office with no trip to Denmark and no airline food. Which is a right result.



Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Monday 19th November

Have you seen that film with Tom Hanks where he is stuck in an airport as he has become stateless? Well, today I thought I would try and recreate that film here in the soulless environment of London’s Docklands. Just for a laugh you understand. It seems that, in their wisdom, the company did not book me on the morning flight to Denmark, but the evening one. And having arranged this flight on the fly last week, got Jools to print the e ticket at her office so I could laze around the house in my pants instead of going into work in Ramsgate. Not once did it occur to me to check the flight details; and so I checked in this morning at London City, waved goodbye to my bag. Had a coffee and an ‘ultimate sausage sandwich’ from Costa.

What made this microwaved butty ‘ultimate’? Well, to me it seems that the sausages were only half cooked, which I thought may just liven up my evening at the Scandic. I sat in a comfy chair, read a bit of Caitlin Moran’s new book waiting for the call to go to the gate.

Ten minutes before flight time, we get called. I go down to gate 10, hand over my boarding pass and the machine went bleep. But not in a good way. The assistant looked at my pass; you’re on the evening flight, sir! I looked too, boarding begins at 18:40. How did you check in your bag, we can only hold them for two hours before flight?

I don’t know.

So, I walked the whole length of the terminal back to the bars and tat shops that thrive in an airport; find a set with a powerpoint so I can have my laptop on, and so am looking out of the window as the flight I thought I would be on taxis away and prepares to take off. So, I guess the lesson to be learned is to check your tickets. I mean really, actually have a look at them and try not to make the same mistake as I have.

I now have a fine eight hour wait here; oh look there goes my flight.

Or not.

I have an eight hour wait, and I guess will save myself for lunch, which in all honesty I can’t charge to the company, and think about reading the entire book. But, at least there is a WH Smiths here, so plenty more reading material to choose from. If I am honest, I really don’t know what we did with the weekend. We didn’t do that much with our time. Saturday was a wet and windy day; we went into the garden and cleared the leaves up from our recovering tree. You may, or may not, remember we had it lopped last year as it was getting a bit big. So, that took something like 15 minutes. I baked some rolls for dinner and in the afternoon we headed to B&Q to look at toilets.

It’s all go in our house at weekends. We may be getting some new stuff in the bathroom at some point. But instead of looking at six grand granite baths, we picked a suite that cost something like £240, taps included, and we just need someone to fit it for us. Plumbing, clearly, is some serious magic and needs an expert with a pencil behind his hear and his own tape measure.

Whilst Jools watched SCD, I watched the text on the BBC website as City took on the might of Manchester United, or the Evil Empire as we can call them. Let’s be honest about this, that matchday experience comes in no way close to matching the one of actually being there and seeing the action as it happens, in 3D. But, its all we have, and imagine my excitement as we were about to tuck into our stuffed acorn squash, City did the unexpected and scored the first, and as it turned out the only goal. What followed was me switching between the BBC website and Twitter to follow the updates. And so avoiding having to listen to the commentary on Talksport radio, which really would be grim.

As time slipped away and the final whistle was blown, and I reflected on the fact that we, City, had beaten Man Utd again and or arch rivals had been thrashed 6-0 at Leicester to remain rooted to the bottom of the Championship. How did this happen? Three and a half years ago we were relegated to the Third Division and Town were taken over by a billionaire, and Roy Keane was put in charge. We should have been doomed.

And yet, after that infamous 1-7 thrashing by Colchester, the appointment of Paul Lambert as manager, and over the next eight months we ended up as champions and promoted. Another fine season followed and promotion again. And Town just stagnated. Players were bought. More players were bought, and their results got worse. In our single season back in the Championship, we beat them 4-1 and 5-1. And although it was sweet, we knew we were heading for bigger things.

And we got promoted. And then survived. And we now have a second season in the Prem, this time with a new manager, and things may be turning as we kept another clean sheet.

All this got be thinking as to where did it all start going right? So, after SCD, I put on the DVD for the 2009-2012 season and watched. The change was gradual, and apart from the appointment of Lambert, the real turnaround was coming back from 2-0 down against Charlton to draw 2-2. Whatever it was, whenever it was, the self-belief spread through the team, and players that could not get in the team four years ago are now playing in the Premier League, and thriving. Such is life. So, I ended up staying up and watching City on Match of the Day; we were second on which means we either got a spanking or there was a huge upset. Thankfully, it was the latter.

Sunday morning, we headed out to Kearsney Abbey for a walk in the bright autumnal sunshine. It was a glorious day, and many of the trees still had a coating of golden leaves. Needless to say, I took many shots as we waned over the road to Russell Gardens and onto Bushy Ruff. We also called in on the spot where a friend of mine has been laying down seeds and nuts for wild birds and squirrels, so he can take photographs of them. I took some seeds and nuts to add and to take some shots. At one point there were 5 squirrels, three jays and a couple of magpies along with a large assortment of finches and tits all coming and going.

And in the afternoon, we decided to buy some new photographic equipment; a new telephoto for me and a new compact for Jools. They should arrive for the weekend and so can’t wait to try them out, of course. Its my own fault for needing a new lens; I dropped my old telephoto a couple of years ago after forgetting to zip my bag closed and as I swung it over my shoulder the lens and camera were launched out of the open bag and looped over my shoulder onto the ground in front of me.

New Toy

Jools had an old film lens that I have been using since, but its focus is a little soft, and I have not been getting good results especially when shooting wildlife. So, I have a beast of a lens on order, which, if nothing else, will build up my arm muscles as I try to take handheld shots with it.

Kearsney Abbey

Which brings me onto another piece of photographic news; I have come away from home with no camera. No camera at all; I have even managed to forget my work’s mobile. I decided against taking Jools’ compact as opportunities for shots are limited with work and it getting dark so early now. So, I have decided to sans-camera and just go and do work. Or as best as I can as I can’t get the wi-fi at the airport to work and none of the plug sockets here seems to e working so the laptop battery is getting flatter by the minute.

There is a door here at the airport marked ‘rhubarb’; now, I am wondering if it really does contain rhubarb. I think its unlikely in November. I did look along the corridor to see if there was another door marked ‘custard’. But no. An hour has now passed since I tried to get on the flight, and I have seven hours or so to go, and just 40 minutes left on my battery. I guess I should go and try another outlet. Sigh.

Russell Gardens

Its going to be a long, long day.

*six hours pass*

And it is now five in the afternoon; I have two more hours to wait. I have no found a working socket and an internet connection so at least I can do some work. I had lunch and read most of the book. I will have to buy another before I leave I guess.

Outside darkness is falling, and the perrytack and runway lights are bright, as are the lights of the hotel the other side of the old dock. The lounge has filled up again, as the day’s business travellers head for their homes or offices all over Europe. It has been quite an odd experience to be honest.

I look over at a guy reading a copy of The Sun; the world is shot to pieces, Israel is bombing the rubble of the Gaza Strip into smaller pieces of rubble, the banking system still isn’t fixed, the whole of Europe slumped into another recession and the Sun leads with some judge of The X Factor may, or may not have had an affair with a footballer who sometimes warms the bench for a Premier League team, or was it she was having an affair whilst being in a relationship with the footballer. And does it really matter, the woman, Tuisla or something, was part of a ‘group’ called N-Dubz who may have had one or two hits a few years ago. She is more famous for a sex video posted online and her reply posted on You Tube apologising to all her fans. It will be interesting to see how The Sun Reports Tuesday’s news that Rebeckah Brookes and Andy Coulsen have been arrested again and face charges for bribery of public figures. On which inside page with News International have it buried?

*two more hours pass*

The Autumnal Fallen

And in time Billund appears on the destination board again, and in time it moves ever upwards on the board until it becomes ‘late’. Or overdue. Then the board changes, and we can go to the gate, byt the time we walk the full length of the building the sign on the gate says it is closing. And then we wait some more as they chase a final passenger, and up we go to the plane.

Morning Glory

A stiff breeze is blowing, and as soon as we’re in the air the plane lurches to the left, but we climb up through the clouds. We get an occasional glimpse through the clouds of life below in the east London suburbs, roads choked with traffic, but soon we are away through more clouds and nothing is seen until we are just a hundred feet above the ground approaching the runway in Denmark.

Bounce we go along the runway, and as soon as reverse thrust is n, the plane twitches from left to right but we stay on the tarmac. By the time we get out of the plane, walk up the steps into the building and along through immigration to the baggage reclaim, our bags are already there. I pick up my small case and head out to the car hire place, pick up the keys and head out to find the car.

Thankfully it has a remote door lock, and it works over distances of over 100m and so I see it’s lights as I try to open the doors. I get in, program the sat nav and set off, on the final 77 miles of the journey, through the darkness to Randers where I hope a bed is waiting in the hotel.

It is, and after a quick shower it is already midnight and time to get some sleep before meeting my boss for breakfast in less than seven hours. So it goes around…..

Tuesday 20th November

And another typical Danish days dawns, although quite late at around half eight. Pale light spreads from the east and illuminates the scene outside the office. I have a different desk this week, beside a huge picture window which runs from one side of the office to the other and from floor to ceiling. Sadly, it looks out onto a motorway junction and a car park, but it is something.

I had a meeting all morning where I rambled on and on about quality costs and quality awareness. I must have made an impression as I am now wanted back here for a meeting of the full construction team to present it again. Another trip to Denmark!

It is now late afternoon and it is getting dark again. I say ‘late’ it is a quarter to four and already it is gloomy and misty outside. We may have drinking tonight, as I bailed on the night out last week. The plan is:

1. Beer

2. Snaps

3. Meat and beer

So, good to know there is a plan.

In international news, David Beckham is to quit LA and now the BBC is rife with rumours as to where he will go to next. As David has always gone where the biggest pay cheque is, my money is on a season in China. Five years ago when he joined LA he never was what you would call mobile, now, at 39 he is even less so, and playing in a league where it is now known for pace or quality. Let’s just hope some desperate Premier League team doesn’t think he can do a job for them as we will have to go through the whole ‘Becks’ hoopla all over again. That QPR seen to be on the brink of crisis and have an owner with more money than sense, it now seems obvious it is where he will end up.

And so to Tuesday night; party night in Randers. Or not. After quite some time we arrange to meet in CafĂ© Blicker at quarter to seven, and those of us in the hotel at quarter past six to walk into the town. In the end six of us made it and it was hot burgers all round washed down with Christmas beer. Three of us then went to Barry’s Pub for more Christmas beer and to watch the football.

We got roped into a pub quiz and we came joint first but we denied the beer vouchers as the other team had one member less than us. Vincent tried to protest saying he was there just to make up the numbers, but it was no use.

Chelsea played Juventus, and played poorly in a 3-0 loss. In truth, it hardly seems to matter to us neutrals, and enjoyed seeing the millionaires of west London look less than ordinary. As it became clear that the Blues stood no chance, I left for the walk back to the hotel at twenty five past ten, as my back complained, the weather joined in and the drizzle began to fall again.


And so, here I am, all packed, checked out of the hotel with just a half day or so at the coalface to do before I can drive back to Billund for the flight home.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Friday 16th November 2012 (part 2)

Let me begin by saying that Monday night and all day Tuesday, I felt like shot. I mean I was really ill. Three hours sleep on Monday night and awake at three in the morning running a temperature. Then on Tuesday I had to chair two meetings and take notes, then stuck at work until four until I could grab a lift back to the hotel. I was coughing all the time and due to lack of sleep my head felt like it was stuffed with straw, and I wasn't at my best to say the least.

Golden rain

But everyone at work was concerned, and on Wednesday asked if I was better. I was, slightly, and got nine hours sleep, which helped.

Monday afternoon, I watched a storm sweep in from my balcony and so I took some shots, that night I went to meet my old RAF buddy, this is what I wrote after the event:

"So, how do two guys begin to fill in the sixteen years since they last met? Well, over some Christmas beer for sure.

Concerto for a rainy day

I last saw Shaggy in January 1996 when he PVRd himself the heck outta the RAF and moved to Denmark. I had connected with him via Facebook, and so knew a little of his life. But he filled in the gaps. Needless to say, he was overjoyed at the Bovril and Marmite I brought, but it seems it is his sons who want the stuff rather than Shaggy himself.

We sat in the bar of the hotel and talked for a few hours, time went quickly enough, but soon it was time for him to leave. I just had time to order a late dinner, venison, which was just wonderful, and then to bed.

Strange Brew

It seems that my body is really suffering with this damned cold, and I was awake coughing at three and really only dozed off for half an hour after that. So, I was awake, but no one really home as I met Philip down in the breakfast bar and we headed off for work. I won’t lie, this has been a tough day with my head full of wool, or feeling like it, after so many days of poor sleep."


Standing in the Rain

It is always refreshing to see how much better life can be after a good night’s sleep. In all honesty, yesterday was just horrible. I was coughing so much, had so little sleep, I was operating on autopilot. And yet I had to chair a meeting, keep notes and look interested. Meh.

Big Wheels

So, last night I turned down the chance to go out with Mr J and the rest of the project team for a mean in order to get some sleep, I hoped. I grabbed a shower and lay on the bed. I got 90 minutes zeds. I went down for dinner, had a simple burger and fries, the first carbs I had had all day, and felt a little better. Although the beer did taste horrible, I’d like to think that was down to how I was feeling rather than the Tuburg brewery. I went back up to my room and got into the new Robert Goddard book, and read that for a good couple of hours.

Summer and Lightning

And this morning, after about nine hours sleep in total, I do feel mostly human again, which is nice. Bad news is that I have to come back here next week, so come Monday morning I will be on the early flight out of London City Airport heading to the frozen north again. It does break up my time, and I don’t mind travelling all that much. So, life goes on.

Please Turn me Over........

When I awake this morning, the rain was beating down outside, it was still dark and looked like it could be your typical Danish day. And then, once at work, the clouds cleared and now the sun shines down from a clear blue sky, and Randers looks a very different place indeed. I am due to leave here in about an hour and a half for the drive to the airport, and then try to crash the executive lounge and blag some free beer and snacks. I can but try…..

Yesterday was a typical day at work, I plodded on getting stuff done, re-writing procedures and processes, having meetings. I headed off early, about three as I still didn’t, and still don’t, feel 100%. I snoozed and then lay on the bed reading, and finished my book just before seven. I went down for dinner, and again realised at apart from the roll for breakfast I had eaten nothing but fruit. And I could not resist the burger. Again.

Whilst I was finishing my soup, my boss arrived and so we sat and talked our way through the meal. Once upstairs I settled down to watch the England game on Swedish TV; it was a good game, featuring an young England side, but playing a team with just the one class player. Sadly for England, Ibramhimovic finally showed his class in a game on British TV by scoring all four goals in their 4-2 win. Some poor defending, and dreadful keeping helped some, but the tall guy did well. What this means for England depends on whether you are a glass half full or half empty person. Talk of a new golden generation abounded in the wake of the game, but then look at how empty the last one of those left the England trophy cabinet….

And so it was time to begin the trip home. I programmed the address of the airport in the sat nav and headed off. And it all went well; I began driving in bright sunshine, and into the low sun, but clouds soon swept in and it was like someone had turned the lights out and it was twilight. No moody vampires to be seen though.

I even managed to work out how the self-service petrol station worked and refueled the car, found the hire car drop off point. I checked in my bad and went through security and tried to get into the executive lounge; am not an international jet-setting quality expert? Anyway, seems like cost-cutting by Vestas means we don't get to slouch in the lounge, instead I went to the bistro-bar and had a huge Christmas beer and a sandwich on the company tab. What's this meat? Smoked duck. It must be hard to light!


Having to repeat a joke, means even the funniest quip is rendered impotent. But then me and the bartender got to talk about beer and all was well with the world. I had another beer, a double IPA at an eye-watering 9.2%. I knew I was going to sleep on the plane.

Midtfyns Bryghus Double IPA, 9.2%

I poured myself onto the plane, accepted the food and a small bottle of brandy. A very small bottle I should stress. As we flew down over western Europe, all the land was covered in a thin layer of mist, the lights of the towns and cities turning the clouds orange through their streetlights, it looked surreal.

Over London, streetlights and buildings could be glimpsed though gaps in the clouds, traffic was gridlocked apparently everywhere. As we banked tightly on our final approach, St Pauls was directly below us, and Lloyds was all blue light, like the castle of an evil wizard.

We skimmed over the houses and condos of London's dockland, landed by bounce-bounce-bouncing along and slewing to a trundle and we were down. A huge queue at customs, which meant our baggage was waiting, a rush to the DLR station, a wait of a couple of minutes for a train and onto Stratford.

Another wait of a few minutes for a train to Ashford, jools had decided to collect me from there rather than wait the 20 minutes for a connecting train, and so, it was all over. We drove back home via a chippy on London Road, once in brew up a nice big cuppa and then, relax. It's all over for a few days and then I can do it again.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Friday 16th November 2012

Hello, good evening and welcome to Denmark. Well it is Monday right now, and I have travelled across northern Europe in a few hours and I am now sitting in my hotel room waiting for seven when I am going to meet one of my old RAF buddies who now lives here in the frozen north. Outside the evening commute is in full swing, and in darkness despite it being before five.

It has been another somewhat mixed weekend as we both battled to sake of what is left of our respective illnesses, I cough still from time to time, and on occasion get dizzy when my sinuses get blocked. Although it doesn’t always feel like it, I am getting better, but just a little bit each day. Jools’ voice is nearly back at full volume, and I suppose we don’t feel too rotten. I know I shouldn’t complain, but that it has been dragging on for so long now, I just want to feel better, you know?


Our original plan was to head to Rye on Saturday for their torchlight parade. It was an ambitious plan which would have involved standing outside for four maybe five hours. But we thought we should try at least.


So, we headed to Tesco early on Saturday morning: I say that now, but I realise now that I dropped Jools off at Tesco whilst I headed to the butcher in Preston to stock up and to place our Christmas order. It really is only six weeks away now.


Not really. We have our two Christmas cakes made, 78 pints of porter made, chutney and jellies made too. That should see us sorted.

The Lifeboat, Folkestone

Anyway, I drove across the countryside to Preston, the early morning sunshine making a mockery of the heavy drizzle the BBC promised. Just wish I had my camera with me, but then it would have taken me even longer to get back to Jools waiting outside Tesco. Back home for more coffee and croissants, and then just chill listening to Danny Baker on the radio before it was time to head off and drop Jools of in Folkestone for her beading class.

The Lifeboat, Folkestone

I went down onto the prom and sat in the car park listening to Fighting Talk until the rain stopped. Once it did I drove round to the harbour, parked up and headed off to the beach as I knew there was an interesting shot to be had. See, even I realise my life revolves round the last shot and the next shot. And when it doesn’t I’m on Flckr messing around with yet more photography. Anyway, I get the shot under the arches of the flood defences.

I walk back and up the hill to a fine old pub I snapped in the past, this time I thought I would sample their ales. And to take a shot of the bar too. Once my thirst had been quenched, I headed back to the car and to head to Shorncliffe to wait for Jools.

We had decided to have something out for lunch, and decided on our favourite pub, the Woolpack in Brookland. We got a table in the 14th century bar and ordered the food. When it came in less than 5 monutes, and mine was steak and ale pie, we knew there was a catch. And the catch was that a new landlord had taken the place over and the food had gone very downmarket quality-wise. My pie was not cooked, and so I returned it, and declined a replacement. They were nice about it, I wasn’t charged and they apologised, but we shall not be going back.

Texture like sun

The rain still fell outside, and the thought of waiting five hours whilst we still were not feeling 100% did not appeal; so we decided to head home and maybe come back next year, and book into a hotel for the duration. As we drove home, darkness began to fall, and the football on the radio kept us awake.

Damp underfoot

Sunday morning dawned clear and bright, so after breakfast we went on a walk around our neighbourhood, along the muddy paths and lanes. We saw a little wildlife; birds and the occasional fungi. We got as far as Windy Ridge, before we decided it was time to head home for more coffee and prepare for the labours of the afternoon. Jools’ Dad and Jen were away for the weekend and we were to look after Nan and Betty. Both deaf as a post and in their 90s, but it wasn’t too bad. I cooked roast beef and the trimmings, all washed down with a bottle of the elderberry wine from last year. It was delicious even if I say so myself.

Heading for home

But the weekend was already slipping away, and soon enough it was time for ed, and the alarm seemed to be ringing just 5 minutes later. Jools dropped me off at the station and the high speed train deposited me at the now Olympic-free Stratford station. I switched to the DLR and headed to the City Airport. I had already checked in online, so leaving my bag I went through security and found somewhere to have breakfast.

We are now allowed to fly direct to Denmark again, not stopover in Frankfurt or Amsterdam now. And just after lunch we arrived in Billund, my car reservation was good and was soon driving to Randers, a trip of about 70 minutes. And with the weather alternating between golden autumnal sunshine and heavy downpours, it was an interesting trip, made easier by the sat nav who did not get lost.

And here we are, knackered but in the hotel and about ready for beer o’clock. Shaggy asked me to bring over Bovril and Marmite, so before we got to the station this morning we were searching all the early-opening shops for supplies. Job carried out, satis.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Wednesday 7th November 2012

At five to six this morning, Mitt Romney the Republican nominee for the 2012 election, admitted defeat. And so ended the battle for the presidency this year. The final result, 303 to 206 in the electoral college was not as close as predicted, but, it is at least all over for another four years.

Romney really wanted to be president; he has spent the all of the past four years campaigning, raising money and support. As is usual, he is an independently wealthy white guy who liked to tell poorer folks (that’s most of America) what was good for them, all the while paying a much lower rate of tax than most despite earning much, much more. He admitted paying 14% tax on his earnings over the past three years. Well, that’s better than Apple or Starbucks, I guess.

The US is still deep in the clag; it is heavily indebted, mostly to China, and despite spending like a socialist country taxes its people like a Republican one. Either taxes need raising or spending needs reducing. Or both. Getting the rich to pay their way rather than tackle the sick of the disabled or the unemployed might be a starting point. Not when your friends are all the rich who would just *love* to pay much less tax.

This sounds very familiar to us living in Britain as those on benefit, live in council houses and have children are being targeted for cuts whilst the MPs are trying to push through a 30% pay increase to cover a reduction in pensions. A conservative MP has agreed to go on a reality TV show for more than a month instead of actually doing her job, as she feels the cause of democracy is better suited by the eating of grubs and licking rats for telephone votes. You really couldn't make this shit up.

I think I have remembered this correctly, in the 20120 election the Conservatives spent something like £27 million on their campaign; whereas the Obama campaign spent something like £750 million. Is democracy best served by a process that takes over two years and so much money? At least here, it is so little and all over in a month or so. Well, it’s their system and most seem happy enough about it, even though the winner of the popular vote (the guy with most votes) sometimes fails to win. Democracy in action, folks!

As for other stuff; it is Wednesday and the downward slope towards the weekend is full underway. *YAY*

I am recovering from my bout of whatever laid me low for the weekend although I do now have a cough that sounds like a large dog barking. And my wheezing keeps me awake into the wee small hours. Each morning I am awake before five, and so head off to work early arriving before dawn. These past two mornings, the waning moon shines wanly down from a dark sky onto the Kentish countryside. I get in the office with the security guard still on duty. Jools is still working from home, but her voice is slowly returning, and she thinks she might return to the office tomorrow. Hopefully we will both be better by the weekend when gran-sitting duties are to begin…..

And like this the days pass slowly.

In the past week we have had Halloween and Guy Fawkes Night with little or no disruption to our lives at home. We had no trick or treaters, and just the occasional bang of fireworks over the weekend.

As it is the end of the 3rd financial period in Denmark, my employer announces its results. Things are going in the right direction, but not quick enough, so another two thousand employees are to be cut. I really am past caring to be honest. At this rate there will be a couple of technicians left in a few years. Where will it all end?

Monday, 5 November 2012

Monday 5th November 2012

Tonight is the night we celebrate the fact that someone didn't blow up the Houses of Parliament. What with the expenses scandals, broken electoral promises, broken promises to the military, failure to bring in stronger banking reform maybe we should really go and finish the job that Guy Fawkes failed to do. They can't hang, draw and quarter all of us, can they? The latest quip by Ian Duncan Smith, a career politician who never has had a 'proper' job is that families should only receive child benefit and support for two children to discourage scrounging. Failing to take into consideration those who once were employed, now are not, what about them should they be punished for losing their jobs? And is it really their children's fault their parents have no job?

MPs are currently trying to have their salary increased by 30 grand a year to compensate their lower pensions. Maybe they should take out a private one, that's what the rest of us do.....

Old High Street, Folkestone

Anyway, on with the blog....

Another Monday and another feeling that the weekend has just flown by. I was trying to write that so I could use the word flu instead of flew, thereby making a play on words.

Laying in bed on Friday evening, I could hear me wheezing, which I know by now is a sign that a bad cold is inbound. I did sleep until about half four, but once I was awake there was no going back to sleep. As the day progressed, so did the sniffing and sneezing, but I guess it wasn’t until I got back into bed and my breathing really began to be laboured that I realised I was in for a long and sleepless night. Up again at four, feed the cats and then sit on the sofa suffering regular sneezing fits.

Old High Street, Folkestone


And so Sunday continued with sneezing, sniffing and general grumbling. In a twist, as I got sicker, Jools was getting better as the drugs she got from the quack on Friday began to take effect. Although, saying that she did begin to lose her voice. So, all in all, we were a right pair. And yet, the weekend had begun so well.

Or fairly well. We had tickets for the opening show of the Folkestone book festival, and poet John Hegley was doing the first show.John Hegley was once a member of pop group The Popticians who were regularly on the John Peel show. I used to love their work, and so after a 29 and a half year wait, I finally saw one of them, John, on stage. John’s work is mainly concerned with his life growing up in Luton and his glasses. Although his recent work is about his family, and has a wonderful bittersweet feel.

John Hegley at the Folkestone Book Festival 2nd November 2012

John is 58 now, and I remember his as a fairly fresh-faced young man looking out of the pages of the NME, and here he is, 7 years short of the retirement age. Everything and everyone we grew up with are getting old. Well, that’s obvious, Ian. But it true. All those teenage rebels and heroes now have lumbago and bus passes. Some are looking better than others, depending on their drink or chemical habits back in the day. A few weeks ago it was the 50th anniversary of the release of the first Beatles single, Love Me Do. That I remember the 20th anniversary shows the march of time has apparently sped up somewhat…..

Jools wasn’t feeling well enough to go, so I headed off to Folkestone at half six, so I could wander round the streets of Folkestone before the show taking yet more photographs. Since my last visit, many shots and galleries up the Old High Street have closed. The really good Spanish restaurant has also closed and replaced by something called the Jazz House or something. It had two customers.

I called in Googies, a Mexican place that sells good Belgian beer to, just for a drink and had a good chat with the owner. He refused to sell me a Belgian beer, instead insisting I try one from Bermondsey instead. He was right, it was good doo; very light and had citrus undertones thanks to the New Zealand hops used in its fermentation. Lovely.

St Margaret's Bay

And then to the theatre. The show was great, and at the start as I took a shot of John, he came over to see what I was doing. He wanted to try my glasses on, and we had a bit of a chat until he was happy that I had the shots I wanted and then he got on with the show.

At halftime I looked at the book stall in the foyer, and ended up buying John’s latest work and a book about Captain Scott’s lost photographs, and I have been reading that throughout the weekend when I wasn’t sneezing. Seems that the heroic age wasn’t so heroic after all, and it was beset by divisions about whether exploration for its own sake was enough, and theta there should be scientific discoveries and experiments to go alongside the exploration. But in the end it was sheer desire that the first person to the South Pole should be British that saw Scott assemble a team and head south in the Tera Nova.

The Knut's felt they were doomed to relive their ancestor's mistakes

Saturday, the day started with heavy rain and Jools was still coughing really badly, so we had a quiet day inside. I played around with photographs, shock, and listened to the radio; another shock. And so the day passed quietly.

Sunday, the day began with wind and rain, and so we sat inside some more and watched the rain run down the windows, and me to read the Scott book.

Brightness on the edge of town.

Just before lunch, the rain stopped so we headed down to the bay to see if the sea was rough. It was, and the sun even broke through. We walked along the seawall, dodging the breaking waves, and me taking shots. The wind was keen and cold. To put it bluntly, I felt like shit, so we headed back home for lunch. And apart from the weekly trip to Tesco that was our sole trip outside.

And so begins my last quiet week for a while. We are granny-sitting next week, and that could be very stressful to say the least. We shall see. So, until next time, keep taking the medicine; I know I will.

Friday, 2 November 2012

Friday 2nd November 2012

I can honestly say, that since returning from Norwich, I have not touched a drop of booze. I think my body needed a little detox. And that is probably a good thing.

Despite it only being a three day week, it has dragged on. My back finally let go and I was in some pain, sometimes worse than others. Coupled with other pain from roughly the same area; yes, I am talking about them. For those sensitive souls I will refer to that pain as the ‘Curse of the Milligan’s’ after a phrase Spike used as he also suffered with them. By Wednesday afternoon the two lots of pain combined to make even sitting and standing uncomfortable. I gave up and went home and just lay on the bed, face down.

Yesterday, I finally began my physio. I have secured some private treatment and so instead of waiting for the NHS to kick in, I got an appointment in Canterbury for the end of the day. And so headed across the country via various back roads so to avoid the gangs of rampant road-repairers who have decided, apparently, to close most roads in the country during the last month.

So, after some general introductions and she actually explaining my MRI results, the began to pummel my back in various places. Mostly that was fine, until she found the problem and that bloody hurt. More massaging and pressing, it was all over. I think it already feels better now, but I could be wrong, but I feel in less pain, and have even started to do the exercises. One sees me adopting a Frankie Howerd-type pose, and it’s all I can do to say ‘Titter ye not, madam’ each time I do them.

Other than that, work and life continues as ever. Saying that, Jools is still ill. So ill she has taken two days off with her cough and will go to the doctors tonight. On Wednesday night with us both feeling like crap, we made a fine pair. I thought, is this it; is this old? I bloody hope not.

In other news, ‘super’storm Sandy ravished Florida and Cuba before heading up the eastern seaboard and making landfall in New Jersey and wreaking great havoc. Over 90 people have been killed; Manhattan was flooded and without power. A cold weather front then joined in from the north and dumped several feet of snow over the northern states.

Here, in the UK, the Jimmy Saville story just gets bigger and bigger. I had to admit at forst I thought that it was just sensational TV from ITV, but as the days and weeks have gone by, more and more stories and reports have come out, and he is revealed as a predatory paedophile who preyed on both young boys and girls. And, somehow, he got away with it for decades. Last week we had to odd situation of a flagship BBC news program, Panorama, investigating another flagship BBC news program, Newsnight. Seems like Newsnight were going to put out a story at the end of last year just after Saville had died, but it got binned, and on Boxing Day the BBC broadcast a tribute show instead. This raises questions of why the show was stopped, and who ordered it. We shall see. It has created a big stick for the Daily (Hate) Mail and Murdoch papers to beat the BBC with. That most of this happened in the 1970s, and things were very different then. That the new director general was just out of short trousers in the mid-70s, people are calling for him to resign. The real questions are how did the BBC, the newspapers; who, lets face it, are not slow in printing stories first and apologising later – did not publish one rumour let alone story, or how he had flats of used accommodation at various hospitals. Reports are that some staff warned children had been told to get in bed and pretend to be asleep when Saville was going to visit. Most astonishing was that he was made head of a taskforce at the secure hospital in Broadmoor. What expertise could a radio DJ bring to the treatment of the criminally insane? Other names have been linked, Gary Glitter and Freddie Starr have been arrested and bailed. Although both protest their innocence. Some stories that are coming out have already had doubt cast upon them, which questions why would anyone want to make more of this horrible stuff up? Just to see their name or hear their voice on the radio?

Anyway, here is the weekend and in the next episode I will bring you news of poetry.

Oh yes.