Thursday, 28 February 2013

Thursday 28th February 2013

And hello boys and girls, welcome aboard as we travel from the garden of England to almost as far away from here and remain in Blighty without crossing into Scotland as is possible.

Cumbria is the county above Lancashire in the worth west, and is ‘on the way to Scotland’ and it what you see from the M6 as you whizz along. It also contains the Lake District, in which, I believe, only one of the bodies of water in the Lake District is an actual lake, as most are ‘waters.’ Anyway, it is a mighty long way, some 460 miles, 411 as the crow flies, but as we’re not crows…….

And as Jools wanted to not only come along, but wanted to call in Lichfield on the way to visit a bead shop. So, we set off Sunday afternoon to head north. As usual the M25 was a nightmare, well, not nose to tail, but traffic very heavy, and it was a relief to get to Heathrow and then set off towards Oxford up the M40. And we kept our eyes peeled for any Red Kites either circling or swooping on prey. We were rewarded with seeing over 20, and one perched on the fence right beside the motorway as we headed north.

Tamworth castle

We went up the M42 turning off at Tamworth. Tamworth, on the face of it a typical west midland town, with the usual mix of housing estates, bypasses and the such. But also home to a fabulous castle, as the town was once the capital of the kingdom of Mercia, and full of history. Sadly, for us, we arrived at sunset, and we had to rush round getting our shots. But I got some outside of the castle and a few other interesting buildings and statues. The town centre was deserted, apart from gangs or skateboarders, who really seemed harmless.

Town Hall, Tamworth, Staffordshire

Or, mostly harmless.

We were challenged as to why we were taking photographs, but seemed happy with the answer of #because we enjoy it.’ We headed back to the car and drove the 10 miles to Lichfield and our hotel for the night. We went to the pub next door for a meal, nothing fancy, but it did us well enough. And then it was back to the hotel to relax and wait for Match of the Day to come on.


We were up with the lark the next morning, and back into the pub for a healthy breakfast of cereal and fruit at least for me. And then out into the centre of the city so we could wander round taking pictures before the shop opened and we could head north. We parked near the bead shop, and then set off into the city centre, where we found a fine mix of old and new buildings and a fine statue of Dr Johnson as well as the house he grew up in.

Tudor Passage, Lichfield

All roads lead to the cathedral, and so did we. It is a gothic masterpiece, built of red stone, and finely carved. But we heard voices from inside, and found the pews full of schoolchildren, so we made our way quietly back out. I snapped it good from the outside, and then it was time to head to the shop and hence to the car. On the way we were diverted into a tea shoppe and we treated ourselves to coffee and scones.

Lichfield Cathedral

And why not.

Once Jools had got her beads, we headed off north to the M6 and ‘the north’. We had the radio on for traffic updates, and already we had bad news, the motorway was blocked and would remain so for hours. We carried on hoping it would be cleared by the time we got there. We headed north through Staffordshire, and up into Merseyside and Lancashire to Lancaster itself, at which point we had to turn off as our way was blocked. With little trouble we got to Carnforth, where had always planned to stop for lunch at the station.

GWUK #662 Brief Encounter Refreshment Room, Carnforth Heritage Centre, Carnforth Station

Carnforth station is rather special, it holds a place in the arts as the location for the British wartime film, Brief Encounter. And there is a fine tea room on the platform, and as the station is quite interesting, I thought it well worth stopping off to snap. We had bacon butties and a brew and took in the surroundings. Well worth stopping for.

Time for Brief Encounter

We got back in the car with the thought that we only had about 5 miles to go before we could turn off and head towards Barrow then up the coast. As it turned out, the traffic was solid just out of Carnforth, so we headed back into town and along the country lanes to try to get round it all. What we found were small towns along the coast, miles of saltflats, and somewhere to revisit as it was beautiful. We stopped off in Arnside to look at the view of the river Kent estuary and with the backdrop of the snow-capped peaks of the Lake District in the background.

Woodgate, Cumbria

At least the traffic on the A6 was moving, and we joined the stream of traffic and within a mile or so turned off onto the peninsular of Barrow in Furness and the Western Lake District. We made steady progress, and above the sun shone down from a clear blue sky, it was glorious. We headed up to the coast, and to the east we had views to the snow-capped peaks of mountains, with the land between deep green after a wonter of rain and now soaking up the sunshine.

Millennium Jetty

We turned off the main coast road heading north to have a break by the shore at Seascale. Seascale is somewhat overshadowed by its northerly neighbour which used to be called Windscale, but is now called Sellafield and is where all Britain’s nuclear waste is processed and stored. Anyway, Seascale is lovely, and with a broad sandy beach, anyway at low tide. We walked a while, went onto the beach then thought about heading north to another such location to watch the sun set.

This time with a straight horizon

We headed north and followed a very narrow lane down over the railway and onto the beach. A row of huts had been built against the dunes and railway embankment, and looked over the wide beach down to the Solway Forth. We waited for the sun to go down, me hoping a train would come along, but as it was, seeing the birds fly by looking for a roost, and the sky turning an ever darker blue as the sun dipped towards the Galloway hills in the distance.

Bit by bit the sun slipped from view, until there was just an orange glow in the sky. I checked the timetable for a train to come by, and was rewarded with a trundling class 153 heading north to Carlisle in the gathering gloom.

We climbed back in the car and drove into Whitehaven and found our hotel for the next two nights, and a parking place; something that we came to learn is a bonus.

And after a wash, we headed out into the night to look for a place to eat.

You can tell a lot about a town by its shops and pubs: Whitehaven had very few places to eat, and no pubs did food, just sport and drinking. It is not as down on its heels as Barrow, but life is tough for those who runs shops in the town, I guess. The port still seems to be working, but it was pretty quiet, with us having the High Street to ourselves. And still nowhere to eat.

In the end we found an Italian place, and had a good meal. By the time we left, most tables were full, and the staff we rushed, which is a good thing. I tried to watch the final instalment of the program about the 100 years war, but could not keep my eyes open and so joined Jools in the land of nod.


I was up early and put on my work things so to be ready after breakfast for work. I turned down the chance of a fry up and had scrambled eggs. Good Ian.

It was a ten mile drive to Workington; we mixed with the rush hour traffic, and once in the maze of roads around the docks, we found the office; Jools dropped me off and headed off for a day in the Lake District. So, I did the audit, all the while looking outside at the glorious sunshine beating down and imagining the wonderful things Jools would be seeing. I even had to work to four as I had mail to catch up on, so I worked away and the day grew old.

Buttermere Sunset

Jools picked me up and we decided to head back into the mountains to see the sunset at Buttermere. So, we drove along the A66 before turning off down the narrow lanes which wove between the high peaks of the mountains. The light was glorious, and I went camera crazy, stopping every 5 minutes as another vista had opened up for us.

We drove alongside the lake before ending up under a massive rock overhang. We parked up and climbed up as the sun slipped behind the mountains to the west. Darkness crept over the land and a chill quickly hit the air. We got in the car and took a road which leapt up the sie of the valley, high above us the peaks were still in bright sunlight. It was like driving towards heaven.

Newlands Sunset

At the top of the pass, we found a parking place and so stopped to watch another sunset, this time with views over the mountain peaks and inbetween the valleys were plunged into deep shadow. And with a last twinkle, the sun slipped behind the mountain, and so we climbed back in the car for the long drive down the valley to Keswick. As we turned west, we were confronted once again by the disk of the sun, this time blood red, and as we drove on we saw what seemed like the third sunset of the day. Darkness quickly came, and it was night by the time we arrived back at the hotel, then we had to find somewhere to park.

Last of the light

That night we found a fine curryhouse beside the harbour, and so we had a fine meal and a couple of Kingfishers. And now all that was left was to drive back home on Wednesday…..

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Wednesday 27th February 2013

Just a few lines to say we are back from our travels. We had a few days away as I had to conduct an audit in Cumbria. again. So, Jools decided to come along, so we drove up: stopping Sunday night in Lichfield, then heading up to Whitehaven via the Cumbrian coast on Monday. I worked on Tuesday, but after work we headed to Buttermere in the Lake district to watch the sun go down, because we could. It was magical, really it was. And then we just had to monumental drive back down from Whitehaven this morning all the way home to Dover with just Radio 2 to keep us company and warn us of travel problems.

Newlands Sunset

We got back OK, sometime about half five. We had a coffee, lazed around and I looked at some of the shots I took. And now it is nearly nine and time to be thinking about bed, as it is work as usual tomorrow.

Buttermere Sunset

We were blessed with stunning weather once we were north of Manchester, days of unbroken sunshine. No really. And I have some stunning shots and great memories. But I shall go into great detail tomorrow.

This time with a straight horizon

Just to say all is well, although the house is quiet as we can't pick up the cats until tomorrow, so the only sound is the gentle whirring of the washing machine and me typing away.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Sunday 24th February 2013

Sunday morning.

We have just rounded up the cats and taken to the cattery in preparation for a little road trip we are embarking on later today. It is work related for me, but Jools is coming along as it is such a beautiful area for us to visit. So, all is waiting for lunchtime when we set off.

Until then we are watching the birds in the front garden as they eat from the food we have scattered and as the snow falls once again. Although it snowed most of the night and into the morning, it has been a fine dust and so we have just a covering which, does not affect travel but does look pretty.

So, I left you on Friday afternoon before I left Esbjerg on my journey home. It is just a 40 minute drive to Billund fro there, and not along motorways, but along nice country roads and through small villages. In one village I stopped to snap the parish church, well kept as it was. I dropped the car off, checked in and tried to get into the business lounge, but once again I was denied entry; at least for free. So I went to the gastropub and had a large brown beer and did some more work whilst I looked out over the runway and waited for my flight to be called.

Northern Europe was covered in cloud, so there was nothing to see just the propeller next to me spinning. I read the Peter Hook book and time passed. On final approach the engines were screaming, and we were surrounded by cloud which looked like fog. The plane lurched and dived, I felt my fingers gripping the arm of the seat. And then we broke cloud cover at about 500 feet, and south east London was laid out below us. Roads were choked with traffic, but it was all lit up like a toy town.

Over south London we went before banking round over Battersea with the lit bridges further upstream reflected in the river. Back along the river we went with the houses of Parliament and the London Eye below us, over the City all lit up as if the advertise the fact that it is business as usual for them even if it hard times for the rest of the country. And then down, apparently skimming over the roofs of houses and flats in docklands, over the EXCEL arena and down, down onto the runway and merrie olde England.

Once we stopped, out of the plane, into the building and a ten minute wait to get through immigration, collect my bag and onto the DLR. My gosh it was cold, colder than Denmark and people were wrapped up like they were heading to the South Pole. Back through the Olympic Park, and with each trip a little more has been taken away, and the games slip further into memory. Although, there still many adverts and posters for the games at the airport and on the DLR stations.

Once at Stratford, I had a coffee, as I thought i would catch the next train to Dover rather than getting Jools to collect me from Ashford. So, I had an extra 20 minutes to kill, but the coffee shop closed at eight so I had little choice than to head to the platform to wait. And let me tell you the concrete box was mighty cold.

But the train arrived on time, and there were seats available, so I sat down and got the book out to immerse myself in the Joy Division legend for the last hour of my trip back home. Jools was waiting for me, and so it was back up the hill and along to home and supper.

Operation bathroom: day 18

And, for me, first task, after visiting each sleeping cat to give them a stroke, was to inspect the almost completed bathroom. It looks good, and I think we should be pleased that it was done in two weeks.

Operation bathroom: day 18

Saturday, and we head out for chores down Dover, then up to Sandwich to photograph a 13th century gatehouse. I had managed to miss it on all my previous visits, which happens. Fishergate is situated on the quay, and is impressive and a reminder of tougher days when Sandwich was on the frontline for potential invaders and so a town wall was essential. The walls may have mostly gone, but the gate house survives.

The Pilgrimage Window, St James the Great, Staple, Kent

I snap it and the area around the gate, then we head off to Staple, about 5 miles away to photograph a church.

I know i really should make a list now of each church I have visited and photographed, but I checked my photostream and I could not find it when I thought I have been there. As it turned out, once we had found the church I had been there, but found it locked, but this day it was unlocked and so I was able to complete the task of recording it.

Our job here is done

By now it was snowing hard, and even though it was not setting, t was mighty cold, so we headed back home for lunch and the last part of operation bathroom; putting together a set of Ikea shelves. The shelves were damaged, and we really should have returned them, but we just wanted to complete the room, so we made sure one of the basket cubes hid the damage and so the job was done.

Our job here is done

I went to lay on the sofa and listen to the football, and in an upset, City score two for the first time since Christmas to win their first game since before the festive period. We now have 32 points will 11 games to go; nearly safe, then.

Friday, 22 February 2013

Friday 22nd February 2013

Monday 18th February 2013.

And welcome back to Denmark. On the flight over, there was very little to see other than a complete blanket of cloud from East London all the way to Billund. I ate nothing on the flight, and dozed and tried to read Peter Hook’s book about Joy Division. I opened my eyes to see the Danish countryside come into view as we broke cloud at about 250 feet as we were on final approach. We bounced on one wheel, and then two before touching down one final time and full reverse thrust was applied and we came to a quick stop.

06:24 from Dover Priory to Charing Cross

I was sitting in the very back seat of the small plane, 28th out of 28, and I knew I was going to have to wait to get off, but it was so funny to see the suited men scramble for their bags and then wait in the aisle for the door to open so they could get to the reclaim a minute or two before the rest of us.


I sauntered off the plane, collected my bag and then climbed the steps into the terminal and walked along the long corridor to immigration and then to reclaim. My bag was waiting, and it was the last one there too.

I had a wait at the car hire place, but was rewarded with a Toyota Avensis estate or something, with room enough for four more people and their bags. And then the hour or so drive to Billund at the old Scandic hotel.

It seems that with each visit the rooms are ever more Spartan, with the minibar and drawers now having been removed, at least from this room. And as is the Danish way, no tea or coffee making facilities in the room, so once unpacked I head to reception to grab a coffee and a chocolate bar, just to tide me over until dinner time.

Work is impossible, as my new phone won’t connect to the mail server, and the VPN won’t work on my laptop, so I make do with listening to a radio show from last week. Outside, it is half five, dusk is falling and what counts as rush hour is well under way.

Last night we watched the final part of the Dark Knight trilogy: it has been very good, and the quality didn’t really drop. Christian Bale was excellent as Batman, and Michael Caine was very good as Michael Caine, Batman’s butler. He really has just the one acting style and it has served him well for nearly 50 years, so why change, I guess?

Although I should be thankful I have a job, and a job which lets me travel up to London on a high speed train, and then fly over the North Sea to Denmark to stay for four nights in a hotel. I mean it sounds great. And is, really. But business travel does get repetitive, and you just want the flight to start/land/get your bags/get the car/get to the hotel. Anyway, as I have said before, it is better than stuffing giblets or being on SLAG at the west gate or wherever the RAF wanted me to work.

Not as good as a det to Vegas, though.


Denmark is wearing it’s winter clothes, overcast skies, with light light just before dusk for most of the day, but it is not cold. Not THAT cold, just about freezing, and it is not fully dark yet; the year is moving on. In fact, whilst pruning the raspberry canes yesterday, I did see green shots of growth just showing above the ground, the daffodils are nearly in bud too, and birds are checking out the boxes next door. To an extent that Mulder has taken to sitting on the roof trying to catch the birds as they fly in and out. No luck with that as yet, thankfully.

And now for some breaking bathroom news:

The frame is up, but there is a sign saying ‘do not use door’ which makes taking a shower tricky. Terry has promised that tomorrow this job will be done. We shall see….


t should not come that much of a surprise to learn that things at work are going to change. Again. It is part of modern life after all. So, we were all called into the canteen here in Randers this morning for the official announcement that this building is to close later in the year. By this building, I mean our old HQ in Randers, and for me it will mean not travelling here any more, instead going to Arhus. For those that work here, it might mean a longer commute, or for those who live in Arhus, a much shorter one.

Rise and shine, campers!

We all sat down in the canteen and listened, filed out and returned an hour later for another presentation on the changes and those affecting other parts of the company. Due to commercial confidentiality, not much of any substance was actually said, questions were asked and mostly avoided. It happens and is par for the course.

Other than that, all is well. It is getting light when I head out of the hotel in the mornings, and it looked quite wonderful with a light dusting of snow too. Back home the great bathroom wait should just about be over, but I won’t know until much later when I speak to Jools after her Yoga class. As it is, I have a shower in my room at the hotel and plan to make use of it every day. Heck, twice a day.

And as I finished this mail, news came that the impossible has happened, in that the bathroom is finished, and the plumber would not be returning. Just have to wait 24 hours before the shower can be used. Which means it will all be back to normal for my return to blighty on Friday.



The meeting had been arranged for weeks; invites sent out and accepted. Three of us had travelled from England, others had dropped very hectic schedules to be there, the people from Esbjerg just had to turn up in the right office. They were late and so the rest of us had to wait, then they announced, they had another course to be on and tried to blame us for arranging the meeting and accepting their acceptances.

All work and no play makes Jelltex a dull boy

I am staying tin Randers, and the training had to take place in Esbjerg; a three hour drive, with my old boss with nothing to talk about just work. And me having the chance to scare the bejesus out of him with my motorway madness. And then at the end of the day we get to drive all the way back home to our barren hotel rooms and dreadful food. Yes, I sent the food back tonight, Danish meatballs; which I asked should these really be cold. The plate was taken away and a replacement provided. I was told the sauce was going to be spicy. Bah. Spicy my arse. Anyway, we’re back in the hotel, I’m watching Barca v AC in the CL on free to air TV; living the dream.


And here we are, Friday again. Only I’m in Esbjerg, after a two hour blast down the motorway for four hours of meetings before I then head to the airport and back to Blighty.

Welcome to Esbjerg

Outside it is cold, damn cold with a chill breeze. I am sitting in a group of temporary offices which will be my base, on and off, for the next two years: if all goes well. As you can imagine, there are plenty of last minute hitches and snags to sort out, and then when work does begin next week, I am heading north to Bonnie Scotland to do an audit, so we have to be sure all is well by the time I leave today so when the stuff hits the fan, as it will, we will be prepared.

Hire car

Maybe its being so near Germany that makes Danish drivers so impatient: who knows, but there are some right nutters on the road, and most see the outside lane as theirs and theirs alone. Same the world over I guess. But, I did leave with plenty of time to get down here so I could stick to the speed limits and almost enjoy the drive. Oh, and I am probably allergic to the car, which sounds about right, but I have a heck of a time breathing when I drive it for any length of time. Just as well I’m not allergic to our Polo I suppose.

Hejnsvig Kirke, Denmark

Last night I met up with my old RAF buddy, Shaggy, as it will be the last time I visit Randers for some time, maybe even ever as it is to close in the summer. I won’t miss the hotel much, but I have got to know the staff and they do do well.

So, the weekend ahead, more painting, but should be time for photography, and then a road trip to begin the week.

It’s all happening

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Sunday 17th February 2013

In truth, there has been no bathroom update because we both feel a little bit let down by the guy doing the work. We had hoped that it would mostly be done by Friday and so our trips to Tony's for showers were at an end. However, when we came home from work on Thursday, the grouting had been done, and the skirting boards were glued in place, and that was it. And the real bad news was that with the flooring to be done on Friday he wasn't going to come back until Monday, which meant another weekend without the shower.

Operation bathroom: day 11

It was a massive disappointment, and we were both pretty crushed by it, not that four extra days makes a huge amount of difference, but to see it it so close to being down, and yet, so far. Oh well. Thing is, I won't see the completed room until Friday as I'm off to Denmark early tomorrow, which was why I wanted to have it done before the weekend.

Operation bathroom: day 11

so, Friday I worked from hoe so I could be here when the carpet, or flooring guys came round, as it was a soft covering rather than a carpet we were having put down. They arrived at ten and began bringing in hardboard to line the floor. And then came the banging. And more banging. And yet more banging. The the floor covering went up, much glueing occurred, then the flooring went down.

Operation bathroom: day 11

And they drank tea, banged some more then left. And it looks pretty much done, except for the shower frame. In the cold light cold day, we see that the walls need some more attention, and a few other areas, but we can do that next weekend. So, that's it.

No new Pope for Dover

Anyway, at least it was the weekend, and so when Jools came back from work, we had a coffee before she went off for her fitness class and I stayed behind to make sure the radio is listened to.

St Margaret's Bay

And so to Saturday: I was meeting a friend of flickr and Jools had a beading class. I say friend, Will was someone who had asked in one of the groups I'm a member of if there were places to visit in Kent.So I said if he was down Dover way, so he did call and we arranged to meet.


So, after doing a couple of shores in town; dropping off some stuff at a charity shop and buying some bird food, I went to the station to wait for Will to arrive. I did worry when the appointed time came and went, but he turned up half an hour later on the next train, and after a handshake we headed to the National Trust's place up on the cliffs to look at the ferries coming and going.

Tin Roof, rusted

I thought Will might like a walk along a beach, so we drove to St Margaret's Bay, parked up and wandered around snapping away. It was a very low tide, with much more rock exposed than usual, which made for some dark shots.I liked them, anyway.

Folkestone Harbour Branch

Next, the St Martin's Battery at the other end of Dover harbour, so he could see the old hoverport and the trains coming and going, before finally heading to Folkestone so we could snap the old Harbour Station. Despite being here countless times before, I love it here, as do many other photographers, and took a hundred or so shots at the decay and vandalism.

Bringing it all back home

It was by then time to drop Will back at the station as he had to meet his partner back in Canterbury before heading back to Reading. So, back home for coffee and cake and to listen to the football on the radio, with Norwich not playing it was interesting to hear Arsenal being the victim of this round's giantkilling by Blackburn, so almost certainly another year goes by with the Gooners not winning a trophy; eight years and counting.....

And so to Sunday: some minor painting, glossing the skirting boards and windowsill, before doing a tip run and going to drop Mike's tools off at his house. And then back home for part two of the Dark Night marathon; we have borrowed to DVDs from Tony and are watching all three films over the weekend. Turns out neither of us had seen the first part, which explains why the second part made so little sense. Or the third for that matter....

Time now to pack for the week away and to cook steak and ale pie for dinner. See you all on Saturday....

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Thursday 14th February 2013

Badger alert.

Warning* This blog entry contains badgers and references to badgers*

Yes, folks, badgers. Or rather badger. You see a few weeks ago you may recall that a fox had been seen eating the fat balls we had bought for the garden birds to eat. And so we have put one or two out and in a day or two, they vanish. So, we thought, the fox is coming round. And then last night, I was listening to the football on the radio, Jools was walking down the stairs and she pointed and said, badger!


And indeed, just outside our window a badger was sniffing at the low bird table, then trying to bite one of the three fat balls I had put out. He got his teeth into it and then ran off, apparently happy enough he had something to eat. During the night, I got up and happened to look at the window again, and there he was, back for more food. This time he stayed to eat, taking bot remaining fat balls, and sniffing out the mealworms and peanuts I had put out. Once he was happy there was no more food, he ran off.

Operation bathroom: day 9

In other news, the bathroom doesn’t seem to have moved on as much as I’d hoped. But the tiles are up and on Thursday the grouting should be done, and we hope the frame put up. The hope of having a shower in it before the weekend is still alive! Other than that, little else to report. We did visit Tony’s last night for showers and catch up on stuff in the old folks world. Before heading back home for a dinner of scotch eggs, crusty bread and a bottle of Cava. Nice one.

Operation bathroom: day 9

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Wednesday 13th February 2013

On the way home from work on Tuesday night, I got a call on my mobile. As I was driving, I couldn’t answer it, but would once I got to where I was to pick up Jools from. As I went over the A2, I saw that there were Police blocking traffic from joining it, and had I noticed it, I would have seen it was empty of any traffic.

I called Jools to return her call; she said the buses were not on time and she was at the end of Coombe Valley Road. Oh, I’ll come and pick you up I said. And set off to head down past Archer’s Court. It was then I realised something was wrong. Traffic was solid right up to Tesco, I waited in line for a while before trying Whitfield Hill as I thought it might be easier. I had to queue 10 minutes at the roundabout and joined the long queue down the Hill. I called Jools to tell her to start walking up London Road and we would meet up.

In 20 minutes I got down Whitfield Hill and along London Road to near where we used to Live on Crabble Hill. Jools was walking up the hill to meet me, so I turned round and once she climbed in we headed off up the hill. Our plan was to head through the lanes near Church Whitield to Guston then up to St Margaret’s; simples.

We headed down a narrow twisty lane, passing the odd car coming the other way, until a train of cars appeared heading back towards Dover. The front car stopped and the driver told me a lorry had got stuck on one of the 90 degree bends and the road was blocked. We turned round and tried a plan B.

A lot of people had the same idea as us, and so we were having to stop in passing places to let cars come the other way, or they stopped to let us go by. But we made progress. Thankfully, most of the signposts were still in place and pointing the right direction, and in time we made our way into Martin and up the hill to the Deal Road. From there it was a simple case of joining the traffic, a left turn onto Station Road and home; but it had taken two and a half hours to get home and it was now dark.

Operation bathroom: day 8

Terry had done some more work upstairs, but most of what he could do was stopped as he had to glue the shower base in place and now wait for 24 hours for it to dry before it could be plumbed in and then do the tiling. But we have a working WC up there and a basin that leaks, but it is looking a bit like a bathroom again.

I quickly cooked some bacon and dinner was just bacon butties and a cuppa, but that seemed to be enough. At eight, I sat down to watch Celtic play in the Champions League; it seems ages since I watched a whole game. It was a good game, and Celtic played well, but were caught by three Juventus sucker punches to end the first leg 3-0 down and almost out. Oh well.

And that was our evening; lots of driving down icy lanes, just wide enough for one car to go down, getting into hedges to allow other cars to pass.

As each day passes a little more is done in the bathroom and it looks a bit more like a bathroom should.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Tuesday 12th February 2013

And so begins a new week.

Where were we? Oh yes, Sunday night. And verily the snow did fall outside and the cats looked out until they could keep it in no longer and they had to go out.

Station Road

I guess, all in all, we only had two or three inches, which isn’t to be sniffed at, but it’s not even going to bring life to a standstill, not even in England. In fact by Monday morning, a thaw had already set in.

Jools took the car to work, and I worked from home as the plumber was due round to continue work on the bathroom. In short, the floor wasn’t level, and so cement had to be bought on which to place the board onto which the shower tray is going to have to be glued. Being winter, and being cold, even the ultra-quick drying cement didn’t want to set. So, after another day at work, the board was in place and level and the WC plumbed in, although the water wasn’t switched on as there seemed to be a leak.

Operation bathroom: day 7 In other news, I spoke with one of my Godparents as due to Christmas creeping up on us last year, we failed to send almost any Christmas cards at all. Which meant they didn’t get a card, and as we have not been up to Suffolk to see Mum just twice last year, neither time having time to pop in and see them. Anyway, that Alan was in his thirties when I was born and was Dad’s boss, his is now into his 80s and recovering from a brain embolism. As if that wasn’t enough, his wife, Heather, fell last summer and got a pain in her side. When they did test they found cancer in her spleen. She has just finished chemo, and sounds chipper enough. And on top of that, Heather lost her only son at the age of 46 to pancreatic cancer just as cancer was found in her. There are no words which anyone can say when hearing this, and it puts my ‘problems’ of mild allergy and a dodgy back in perspective.

We really should rejoice for every day we have on the face of this planet and the life that it gives each and every one of us. Be thankful for the wonderful people we meet, that enrich our lives in the hope that we enrich theirs. And, for the most part, our problems are not really problems, not really when compared to what some people have to and are dealing with.

Normal service will be resumed tomorrow.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Monday 11th February 2013

And on the seventh day, Jelltex and Mrs Jelltex did paint their bathroom. And yeah there was little rest to be had.

Yes, we woke up, had a coffee then headed into the bathroom to put a coat of paint on all the plastered walls. We watered it down a little as informed to by Mike, and it all went on well. Although, once dry the finish was patchy to say the least. Once done, we sat down to have breakfast and for me to watch the previous day’s MOTD. Imagine my surprise in catching the weather as broadcast before the footy that ‘substantial’ snow was expected in Kent for Sunday evening.

Operation bedroom: day 6 (part 2)

Just a shame, then, that we had arranged for Tony, Jen and Nan were coming round at five for dinner of roast duck. How bad could it be? I mean they get the weather wrong all the time.

So, football watched, we had lunch then went back upstairs for another coat of paint to be applied. Once finished it looked really streaky and very, very red. Too red? Maybe….

Operation bedroom: day 6 (part 2)

So, I cook the duck and all the veg, whilst outside the sleet tunrs to snow and it begins to settle. At five they did turn up, but although the meal was great, Tony had one eye on the weather and so it came as no surprise when they decided to head back home before seven. After washing up, Jools and I headed back upstairs to give the bathroom a final coat of the day, before slumping down on the sofa to watch some home improvement show. Makes sense.

Operation bedroom: day 6 (part 2)

Outside a blizzard, almost, raged outside and I guess we got two to three inches. The cats did not want to head outside for anything, so they just complained. Seems that cats don’t like it much either.

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Saturday 9th February 2013

Saturday evening and as dusk creeps across east Kent, so do the dark rainclouds which are bringing the promised rain, sleet and maybe snow over the next 24 hours.

It has been a day of tasks and chores, all of it centreing on getting the bathroom up and working as soon as possible. First up was to put the first coat on the ceiling; a one person job, and Jools volunteered to do that, so I headed to Preston to the butchers to stock up on stuff for the freezer.

Operation bathroom: day 6

It was a glorious morning when i left, golden sunlight streaming over the land from the just-risen sun. There was little traffic about and i headed the way I normally go to work, and then turning inland at Sandwich and then onto the marshes at Nash.

Once there I chatted to mark about the horse meat thing in the news, and we were of one mind; people get what they pay for and getting a pound of burgers for a quid, is it surprising corners were being cut? I got steak, some beef skirt, some peppered minute steaks and lots of sausages that were on offer, and headed back home.

Operation bathroom: day 6

Tony came at half nine with his trailer, so we could load the old bits of bathroom and take them to the tip. All was going well until he pulled away and the trailer detached itself and missed every parked car before coming to rest on the pavement. We re-attached it, and then drove very carefully to the tip, dumped the bits and headed back for some wall action.

Operation bathroom: day 6

The one wall we did paint is now red. Very red, but should look better once we put the top coat on tomorrow. Mid-afternoon, we did another coat on the ceiling, and that was all we could really do today. So, tomorrow, two coats on three walls and one on the other. And fingers crossed that should be it....

Listened to the radio whilst trying not to fall asleep, and City once again failed to score, and slipped to another 0-0 draw this time with Fulham, but it means we have not won in nine games on a run stretching back to the middle of December.

Time now for a shower and so off to Tony's we go, towels in hand.

Friday, 8 February 2013

Friday 8th February 2013

And here we are rushing full tilt into the weekend at warp factor 9.9. Yay, weekend. It is always such a glorious thing to have the weekend ahead and the thought of nothing else other than lazing around snapping churches, pubs, birds and the suchlike.

Only this weekend is going to be a little different, as we have some painting to do. I say some, we have a whole bathroom to paint with at least two, if not three coats. But it really feels like, well, if we’re not on the final straight, we might be running round the bend and can see the final straight from here. In the last two days, the floorboards were put back down, the wastepipe for the new shower fitted, and yesterday, Mike came round and plastered covered over the damage where we removed the tiles from the shower and bath and the undersea scenes.

Operation bathroom: day 4

The plaster will take maybe three days to dry, and then we can paint and get the tiling done, and at that point it will begin to look like a bathroom again. The WC and basin can be fitted and once the tile grouting has set, the shower frame and door can be fitted and then it is just the flooring, which will be done next Friday, if all goes to plan, anyway.

Operation bathroom: day 4

So, apart from the bathroom not much has happened. We visited the in laws last night so we could have a shower. Such is the pain of not having a bathroom. And it was Tony’s 71st birthday so we stopped and had a chat before it was time to head back home and relax. We watched Dredd in 2D on TV, much better in twod to be honest, but a good film and a fine adaptation of the comic strip, and so much better than the Stalone version.

And then it was time to head to bed in order so we could get up at dawn so we could get to the office again. Oh well.

On last night’s Danny Baker show, they were talking about R&B records, which span from Robert Johnson through to soul, Stax, Mowtown and Atlantic to disco, hip hop and to everything inbetween. I had none of the 13 records mentioned on there either. So, more stuff including Stevie Wonder, Issac Hayes, Aretha et al to add to the list. Sigh. I have no time.

It all began a week or so ago, when packs of economy burgers were said to contain up to 25% (I think) horsemeat. The packs in question were of packs of eight 2oz burgers for £1 to £1.40. That’s a pound for a pound of ‘meat’. I say that as economy burgers don’t have to be 100% meat. It’s something like 65%, but even still if a pack say ‘beefburgers’ then one has the legal expectation for said burgers to contain beef.

During the last week, some Helal meat was said to contain ‘traces’ of pork, which whilst does not create health problems I would think brings into doubt how assured meat deliveries can be.

Then last night it was announced that Findus Lasagne contained up to 100% horse meat. At least it wasn’t more than 100%.

Now none of this is good, although as far as we can tell none of these, and others, caused any health risks.

It does bring into question as to what consumers really want from their shopping baskets; quality or value? When it is possible to buy a prepared fresh chicken for three quid, or you can buy and adult’s pair of jeans for under a fiver. Now you can’t buy the material for a pair of jeans for less than a fiver, but Tesco (other supermarkets are available) can get them made, sent round the world, put on hangers and sold to us for just a fiver. Clearly, someone, somewhere is not getting paid what we might call a living wage. How can a chicken, a 3 pound chicken cost just £3, they hatch the eggs, grow the chicks into chickens, slaughter, eviscerate, chill, distribute and sell them all for three of your English pounds. Now, I have worked in a chicken factory and can tell you why it costs so little for a chicken. Killing two or three birds a second means an economy of scale, or sometimes they just feed the birds the ground up remains of their parents as food. I mean, what could possibly go wrong with that?

We don’t actually buy meat from supermarkets any more, as the quality of the meat itself wasn’t very good. Tough and very thin steaks, poorly butchered cuts and just not very nice. We don’t eat as much meat as we used to, but when we do, we go to our local country butcher. From next week I will be buying our fruit and vegetables from a farm shop on the way home rather than give Tesco more of our money. I can’t gripe about them whilst still using them, can I?

If you pay bottom dollar prices you will get bottom dollar quality. It can be no surprise that horsemeat, or other meats are entering the British foodchain can it? If you’re paying a pound for a pound of meat, then someone, somewhere is either working for less than minimum wage or cutting corners is it? And for Findus not wanting to give interviews on the radio this morning; surely they owe their customers and explanation and an apology at least, no?

In the next week, all products containing processed meat is to be tested for DNA from other animal species. One wonders what they will find. The only way you can be certain about what goes into your food is to make the food yourselves; making chilli or curry is so easy. Even a pie isn’t beyond most of us. And homemade lasagne; you could do that too.

For the record, I have eaten horsemeat on a few occasions, and it hasn’t done me any harm. Most of Europe eat it in some form or another, so it is only our sensibilities that are shocked by the fact that it’s there in our food. That the manufacturers have mislabelled the packs as contain beef and nothing but beef is going to be a legal matter which is going to make lawyers even richer, I’m sure.

If we actually stopped and thought why food is so cheap now, and how that can be, then maybe we will see the value of food and only buy what we will eat, not because it’s on a BOGOF offer that caught our eye.

Think before you buy before you eat. And then you will eat less and healthier.