Sunday, 31 March 2013

Sunday 31st March 2013

Easter Sunday

And lo, the sun did shine, but the wind it stayed in the east, and coldness was on the land.


And despite getting good night sleep, neither of us felt like doing much. I had tried the new anti-allergy drug, and was warned it may cause drowsiness. It wasn't the sleep-inducing pill I thought it was, but I did feel wooly headed this morning until after coffee #2. I spent the morning watching MOTD, and City were as awful as the reporter said they were yesterday. Losing 1-0 to Wigan, a team, let us not forget had failed to keep a clean sheet in all their home games this season. Until they played City. we now have seven games in which to win at least twice to be sure of staying up.

We are trying to begin eating again, well apart from the saffron bun diet we had been on yesterday. I made a fruit salad for lunch to follow the pork pie, and for dinner I cooked the leg of lamb with all the trimmings. We didn't eat it all, but we did OK, and what was left we plated up and put outside for the badger's dinner. They have been coming every night for a month, and on Friday we got two and they were followed by a fox.

Anyway, roast potatoes and chopped up lamb seem to be right up the badgers flagpole as both bowls were cleaned very quickly.

Happy Easter

And that is it for March: bloody cold and full of travel for me. Lets hope it warms up soon and we can see some spring colour. I did venture out today to take a shot of a daffodil, and it felt like it was still the middle of winter, even in the bright sunshine.

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Saturday 30th march 2013

Welcome back to the world of the living.....

It isn't until you feel better you realise how crap you had felt before. and so it was the case this morning after I had woken from just over eight hours and so felt slightly better than yesterday. In truth I would say a hundred percent better.

So last night there was me with the blocked sinuses and jools not being able to stop coughing. We missed out on Dinner and spent the evening watching Tom Cruise in War of the Worlds; which wasn't as bad as most films with the Cruister in.

anyway, one thing I did realise was that what had laid be down was 24 hour flu followed by an allergy attack, and one that double the dose of amethystine did not fix. so, for the first order of the day was to head into town to go to the chemist for drugs. Strong drugs. We headed into town just as the sky provided us with a blizzard of the finest snow; snow powder possibly.

So, we drove to town, found a place to park, and I got given some strong anti-allergy pills and Jools got more cough mixture. We then went to Poundland to fill up on birdseed and fat balls, as this is by far the cheapest place to get it from. And then back home, back to the warm.

Saturday Stroll

We had to get fat balls as we are visited every night by at least one badger, and last night two. Food is really short now as winter stretches out its icy fingers into April. The ground is rock hard, so looking for worms is out, and there are no bugs or insects about.

At lunchtime, we headed out for a quick walk in the spring sunshine, but the strong north east wind nearly cut us in half. We did make it to see the pigs, then turned for home again. as walks go, it wasn't much, but under the circumstances we welt we earned a medal.

I think you've got some dirt on your nose

Anyway, time to make a brew before Dr Who starts......

Friday, 29 March 2013

Friday 29th March 2013

Good Friday.

The fact I am writing this blog this afternoon means I am in Kent and not in Suffolk visiting Mum. The reason for this is simple, flu. Although I don't feel too bad, I have been awake since two this morning. Now, I don't think two actually qualifies as morning. It was certainly dark, and despite repeated efforts to try to go back to sleep, it would not come. This does explain why I was bacon butties at five this morning and moving straight onto saffron buns.

We had a bun each for lunch, and now are contemplating on life as the sun shines outside. We are not outside because both us feel like crap; me with the flu and general lack of sleep and Jools now has a cough which kicks in whenever she tries to speak.

I stayed at home yesterday, and spent all bar one hour in bed, which means I really was feeling crap. Not that I slept, that would be too simple, but i did listen to the radio and was kept company by Scully as she managed to sleep. For eight hours.

Jools came home at half three and just about went straight to bed, not passing go and not collecting £200.

We hope to bring you our normal programming tomorrow......

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Thursday 28th March 2013

One thing I did forget to mention in yesterday’s post was the exciting new feature added to our new bathroom; a walk-in paddling pool. We have this since the radiator decided to spring a leak. No major damage, in fact the new floor covering kept the water where it dripped, whereas the old carpet would have let it all fall to the utility room below bringing the ceiling down at the same time.

So, a close escape.

But, we need a new radiator now, as well as a new water tank, so more expense! Our new plumber came round yesterday to measure it all up and will let us know of costs. Sigh.

Yesterday, I got a mail from a friend letting me know that Tornado would be heading through Dover later that day, so as Jools had the car, first task was to see if my friend Gary would like to come and pick me up and take me down to be able to snap it. Thankfully he said yes, and it was arranged that he would collect me at half three.

60163, "Tornado", The Cathedral Express, Dover, Kent

Even better than a quiet drive to Ramsgate on Monday morning was the chance to work from home on Tuesday. I do get work done when I work from home, but it does leave me at the beck and call of our small army (of three) cats.

Anyway, whilst discussing things in general with the plumber, he told me about a huge cliff fall in St Margaret’s Bay, and so another plan began to form; maybe Gary would like to see that after Tornado?

60163 "Tornado", The Cathedral Express, Dover, Kent

So, after a day at the workface slaving over a hot keyboard, Gary called to collect me, and we headed down to the dock to our chosen location for the shoot. We were both wrapped up like we were going to walk to the arctic circle rather than stand on a bridge for half an hour, but needs must.

About 5 minutes late, Tornado emerged from Harbour Tunnel and made its way under the A20 bridge, and as she began to negotiate the sharp bend in front of us, the driver let the regulator open and smoke began to emerge and she began to make a very satisfying chuff chuff noise. So, I snapped away. I snapped away with just the one camera, as after putting the battery for the 400D on to charge, I had left it in the kitchen as we came out for the shoot.

Silly me.

Once the train had disappeared from sight, we made our way back to the car and up to St Margaret’s and then down to the Bay to see the cliff fall. And what a shock, it was massive; a vast chunk of cliff had collapsed sending a finger of chalk blocks 150m into the bay, just missing Ian Flemming’s old house.

Cliff Fall, St Margaret's Bay, March 26th 2013

Gary and I clambered onto the beach and over two groynes to where the fall covered the beach, snapping as we went. Very satisfying. We snapped it from all angles, and with each other in the shots to give scale to the fall.

The evening ended with watching England play Montenegro in the World Cup qualifiers, and how desperate it all was. England played OK in the first half, but dreadful in the 2nd, where the hosts overran them, and England, second in FIFA rankings (or something) could do nothing. Their 1-0 lead from the first half was cancelled out in a frantic last quarter when England could hardly muster two passes together. Nearly three years on from Bloemfontein and nothing has changed, so it probably never well.

Wednesday turned out to be a very different kind of day. I guess I have felt under the weather since sometime on Tuesday, but managed to do seven hours at work yesterday before I could not concentrate any more. On the way home I went to the butcher to get something nice for Sunday dinner and then brave Tesco so not have to delay that until Thursday when everyone will be shopping.

Evening walk

And, now I am home of an evening, and despite feeling like the Arctic, it was at least sunny once we got home, so we went for a short walk just because we could. We went as far as the pigs, but they were all tucked up inside their shelter, so we headed back home.


Once home I felt really shattered, and so instead of cooking we had the easy standby of Scotch eggs, but I could not finish that, and suddenly felt very, very cold. I decided to head to bed, at six. And there i stayed for the next 16 hours, finally warming up at about ten, but sleeping fitfully.

Kingsdown Vista

Needless to say, work was out today as I still feel spaced and ache all over, so I have just a lunch of cereal, and I do feel more human and my headache has gone. So, I will take to the sofa and watch the birdlife and hopefully feel better for the four day Easter weekend.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Tuesday 26th March 2013

I know I have not being going much exercise recently, but to wake up on Sunday morning with achy breaky legs was a shock. We had done some waling, but not that much. All of which enforces the fact I have to get back on the cross-trainer whenever possible and try to get fitter. So, after convincing myself that doing anything on Sunday was out, once back from work on Monday I did get back on and did 23 whole minutes. Not a bad start, I guess. I planned to do 20 but at 19:30 Clampdown by The Clash came on so I pounded through that. And will try to do more tonight too.


Sunday, we had a quiet morning, until 11 when we drove to Folkestone to meet a friend who is organising a trip to a nature reserve in London and needed the deposit. So, we wrapped up and made our way to the car and headed out.

Blimey, Charlie, it was cold down by the harbour. We had to wait ten minutes before Mary arrived. We headed into a nearby café for a cuppa and a chat.

After that, there was little else to do other than head home for lunch and a warm up.


Wine at lunchtime sounds like a good idea, but it means I spend the afternoon trying to fight off the urge to snooze and there is no chance of exercise! So, I read some, messed around with photographs whilst listening to the radio.


It is the last week of March, and Easter very, very soon. But across north-west Europe winter still stalks the land. Snow drifts 18 feet deep are reported in the Lake District, where we were a month ago snapping the setting sun. The forecast is for more of the same, near freezing until the end of next week at least, and snow in many places.


Some are saying this is more evidence of global warming whilst others say it is part of the cycle of things. We shall see. Whatever, it is mighty cold and we still dream of warm days and evenings.

And yesterday I got to drive into the office. Its funny how something so mundane was so pleasant after the weeks and weeks of travelling. I had Radio 4 on and Robert Peston et al informed me why the world is so messed up, whilst politicians came on to say, no, no, its far more complicated than that. Pay your taxes and it'll all be OK. Oh, and blame the immigrants, it's all their fault. Oh yes, Mr Cameron, mein fuhrer.

Monday, 25 March 2013

Monday 25th March 2013

The one bonus of the trip back from Stratford to Dover Friday night was being able to keep up with the England game on the BBC website and via Twitter. England were playing the might of San Marino, and ran out rather easy winners of 8-0, 5-0 up at half time. The eighth and final goal went in as we were heading up Jubilee Way on the way home, so I missed all the goals and in the end did not turn on the TV once home.

Saturday morning, and we were up at the crack of sparrahs, as we had a mighty busy day in that there London. As I have been travelling so much, and needed to try and sleep a little bit longer, we did not catch the train until a quarter to eight, which meant being able to lay in bed until very nearly seven o’clock.

It was snowing steadily as we drove down into the town to find a place to park near the station. In an unprecedented move, I had noticed a mail from Southeastern advertising an Easter sale of 25% if tickets were booked online, and so before bed on Friday I had ordered our tickets, and it was a simple task to go to the machine, enter the order number and out popped our cheap tickets.

Electric City

As usual I walked the length of the train before deciding on seats that satisfied my requirements for travel; in particular, seats with a table, and which lined up with the windows. Not much to ask one would think, but something which seems to be beyond modern train designers. Anyway, we settled in our seat and watched the station entrance for later arrivers rushing to get on the train before the doors locked 30 seconds before departure. And we were off into the wintery wonderland of Kent and Essex.

Snow fell most of the way to London, but once away from Dover it wasn’t settling, but the leaden skies did not bode well for our day of walking and photography. It was nice to stay sitting on the train and heading past Stratford and heading into St Pancras. As we got out of the train, and Eurostar at the neighbouring platform roared out, and I managed to get a shot as the rear of the train cleared the trainshed. And so the day began, all based around photography.

The View

We headed over to Kings Cross to see how the work is progressing on clearing the square in front of the station and also to record the progress. In truth, it doesn’t look like much work has been going on, as I was expecting to see most of the 70s buildings to be gone, but it seems to be as it was at the beginning of February last time I was here. I am sure much as been done, but not just obvious.

We went down into the Underground to head over to St Pauls to find a place to grab a coffee and so be near for the start of our walking tour. We found a Costa so were able to get out of the snow and have a warming cup of coffee. And with ten minutes to spare we head round the cathedral to the information office at the end of the path to the Millennium Bridge just as our guide arrived and began checking names off his list. We had booked to go on a three hour walking tour around The City looking at the mix of old and new buildings and get some history of the City. Anyway, for twenty quid it didn’t seem so bad and we might find some new places.

London Bridge station

Outside the snow still fell, although the ground was warm enough so it did not settle, but taking photos in it meant regular cleaning the front element of the lens to get clear shots. We walked along main roads, through narrow alleyways, up and down former medieval streets and across parks that were churches before the great fire of 1666. As a friend pointed out, the sites of churches destroyed in the great fire 347 years ago are better preserved that those destroyed by the Luftwaffe during the blitz.

Sadly, we did not get access to any buildings, but we saw buildings, or the remains of buildings dating right from Roman times, through Saxon, the Norman occupation and into the Middle Ages and later. And it is all there, if you know how to look and where. I will post shots on my Flickr stream in the next few days, and where possible I will explain the buildings photographed.

London Bridge

Once we got past the Bank of England in Threadneedle Street, it was gone midday and we were cold: Jools and I agreed that if we went past the Weatherpoon pub we took an American friend a couple of years back, we would break off from the tour and go and have a drink and a bite to eat. Within 5 minutes the guide pointed out that some former banks had been turned into bars or restaurants. And there was The Cross Keys, just the place we wanted to stop. So, we thanked the guide and went into the pub, a cider for Jools and a pint of mild for me.

After eating, we walked into Leadenhall Market to snap ‘the Walkie-Talkie’, a massive new building on Fenchurch Street which is now looking complete, or its outer cladding is. It is massive, and towers over its surroundings, and in a move by the designers is wider at the top rather than the base. I think it’s a wonderful design, but out of place with its surroundings. And then there is the new Leadenall Building, opposite Lloys which seems to have risen 500 feet since last September, and will soon have its own cladding put on. Over the six years Jools and I have been going to London together, we have seen the old building demolished brick by brick and this monster rise from the same piece of land. And so the City changes and yet stays the same. New being built on the old over and over again.

The Shard

We headed to the West End and got out at Oxford Circus. We picked up our tickets from the theatre box office, and had an hour to kill: what to do? OK, another pub, right next to the Palladium, although it had no free seats, we found a quiet corner to stand and sip away. Back outside and it is still snowing, so as the doors were open we went in and waited in one of the bars. The Palladium is one, if not the most famous of London’s theatres. Most of the entertainment world’s most famous people have played there at some point, and the biggest shows. And now we were there to see A Chorus Line.

I had decided that another three hours of walking around would be too much, so I thought about going to a cinema. But our experience at the IMAX shows that it can be cheaper to get seats at a matinee of a big show in the West End. And indeed, so it was the case on Saturday, where £19 bought us seats in the upper circle, upgraded to the stalls, with fine views of the stage. Well worth the cost of the tickets.

And the show: well, All I knew about the play was the hit song, “One”, and that was it. Turns out it is a look at the audition process of a show. A producer is looking to recruit dancers for a chorus line, and he has to whittle down those who turned up. And that is it; but it is a brilliant premise for a show, and gives opportunity to introduce the dancers and for the audience to empathise with them. And there was songs and dancing. Lots of dancing.

Yes, it was a triumph, and well worth nineteen pounds of anyone’s money.

At just gone five, we left the theatre and made our way to Southwark for the final event of the day; a trip up the tallest building in Western Europe at 1,016 feet, although the observation decks are over two hundred feet lower. I won’t go into whether the building itself is good or bad, but the views from the top should be sensational, if the weather allowed.

We had an hour to kill, as we wanted to go up at dusk, but due to the low and thick clouds it was almost dark by a quarter past six. So, we went to the ground floor, collected our tickets and queued up go through the security screening, and we came to the lift. Or, the first of the lifts! The doors opened to allow half a dozen of us in, and whisked us to the 33rd floor. We got out went round a corner and entered a seconded lift which took us to the 69th floor. Then, up a short flight of stairs, and there we were; in the clouds.

Well, not quite, but the cloud had rolled in, and I guess visibility was down to about half a mile, the lights in The City could just be seen. It was quite crowded, but with a little patience, you could get to the windows on each of the four sides. Sadly, due to the cold weather, ice on the 72nd floor meant the open air observation deck was closed, so we had to make do with the views through the thick glass.

Once we got our shots, we headed back down, and once on firm ground thought about how to get home. We hoped to get to Stratford to pick up the twenty past seven train to Dover. We went to the Jubilee Line and got on a very crowded train, and at each station more and more people got on. We got to Stratford with two and a half minutes to get to the International Station, and I knew it was something we just were not going to do, and there was no point in us trying. So we went into Westfield to get a bite to eat and rest. Although it was evening, the shopping centre was still crowded, and the food court even more so. But we found a table, and Jools went and got us a Chinese meal. We timed it just right to walk to the station to pick up the ten to eight train to Stratford; in fact we were walking down the steps to the station as the train pulled in, and so soon we were whizzing through the night to Kent.

A short ten minute wait at Ashford for our connecting train to Dover, and we were back home, just after nine, and pooped.

But it was another one of those good days.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Sunday 24th March 2013

Good afternoon.

This afternoon some 28 years ago, at the end of my first week of work at turning chicken wings, I, along with 45,000 other City fans, and an equal number of Mackems headed to Wembley to see the League Cup Final, then called The Milk Cup. It was an odd time for football, hooliganism and violence reached the very depths with riots at Chelsea, Luton, Birmingham and ending up with the deaths of 39 Italians in Brussels at the European Cup Final.

I went to London with Dad on a coach, oddly enough I can't remember much about the day. Getting into London was pretty much trouble all the way after leaving the still new M25. All I can remember is seeing Sunderland fans everywhere, and all of them drinking beer.

Anyway, lets look forward not back.

So, Friday morning. Now, I am aware that I do complain about my job, I think its a way we have with dealing things. I have had worse jobs, much worse jobs than what I do now. Even with that, I was glad to awake on Friday morning, secure that I was going home that afternoon and would stay home for at least a couple of weeks.

And once again it was bright but bitterly cold, but I packed with a light heart, put cases in the car and checked out after having breakfast. Work, well, was work, I got through it and completed all tasks i could and sent mails explaining why some tasks had not been. And at two it was time to leave.

In truth I left early, as I wanted to visit another church. I checked the maps and Grindsted was going to be the lucky building. So, the snow had just about melted from the car, but even as I left more white stuff fell from the sky, and i really hope that this is the last day of 'winter' I spend in Denmark and by April 8th spring will have arrived.

It is funny, that even with a church tower as high as Grindsted, it was hard enough to find, I circled the town and kind of homed in on it. It looked fine against the blue sky, as it was whitewashed. Sadly, the church was locked, so I made do with snapping it from the churchyard and heading to the airport.

Grindsted Kirke, Denmark

After dropping the car off, I went to the restaurant in the arrival hall for burger and fries as I usually do. I do this as I never get access to the Business Class lounge. I am fed up despite being told I should be able to get in standing at the counter and the woman behind looking at my ticket in disgust and saying 'no, you can't come in.'

So, full up of burger and fries, I checked my bags in and saw I had a two bag allowance, and asked if I could go into the lounge, and she gave me a voucher. So, I did get to go in the lounge, but I was not hungry, so made do with a coffee and the free wi-fi and a piece of chocolate cake.

I boarded the plane, which took off on time, only to be kept in a stack for an hour which meant I did not catch an earlier train from Stratford, and so had over an hour to kill. But, I did catch the twenty past eight train, and was home by half nine and dropped the bags on the floor and went into the kitchen to put the kettle on.

Friday, 22 March 2013

Friday 22nd march 2013

So, its Tuesday that must mean I’m in Denmark.

And so I am, called over here for a meeting that could have been conducted over the communicator, just as I thought. And the cost of me travelling over to the company runs into something close to four figures. And makes be tired and irritable. Go figure.

But, in a change to the norm, I did not fly out on the morning flight, but on the evening one instead, which meant working from home until three at which point Jools came home to take me to the station. Not much to report about the day, other than the cats seemed pleased I was at home, but complained all the time about the old food in their bowls.

The trip to Denmark promised to be interesting, and snow had been forecast from Monday night and all day Tuesday so, not quite sure what to expect when I got to Billund or even if the flight would be running. So, after checking the departures all day, I set off with Jools at three, got my ticket and waited for the Javelin to pull in, get in my seat and stare at the seagulls trying to open a bag of crisps on the platform. If they manage this task, then the human race is doomed.

We headed off into dark clouds and increasingly heavy rain, hail hammered down on the roof of the train, but we did not slow down. I got out at Stratford and made my way to the DLR as usual, and onto LCY. The train was a little more crowded than usual, but not much. Anyway, at the airport there were no queues at all, so got my boarding card, dropped my bad and was through security in less than ten minutes. I had a bite to eat in Rhubarb, not rhubarb, but a small bowl of chilli and a beer, before sitting down to wait for the call to board.

About a quarter of an hour late, we were called and we made our way to the end of the terminal, showed our tickets and were allowed on the plane. After waiting in line to take off, we headed off into the rain and the night, soon high above the clouds with fair England lost to sight below.

As Denmark loomed into view through the clouds, snow on the ground could not be seen as it was just too dark. But, we were flying through some as the landing lights picked out each flake as it zoomed towards the propeller. As we landed, we could see the snow being blown around, but not much was laying. Outside the plane, it was mighty cold, or at least felt it, and so I half-ran to the terminal and baggage reclaim.

The car hire people gave me a BMW 520i this week; a beast of a car, but OK to drive and one with plenty of horses to uses. As I drove along the road, I could see some snow, but thought little of it, until we came to a series of low rolling hills, and the summit of each was a drift, and the drift went across the road, and you were driving on black ice instead of road. So, I slow down when I see the drifts and in this was make it safe to the motorway and on to the hotel.

Today in Esbjerg

I check in at a quarter to midnight, no food on offer except the imbiss on the main street. In the mini bar I have a small tube of pringles and a diet Coke, then try to get some sleep as I was due in work in some seven hours. Such is the life of an international playboy and quality expert….


And so the snow began to fall at some point during the night, and this morning there was a covering of white powder everywhere. It looked mighty purdy for sure. And now at two in the afternoon, the snow has fallen for the best part of eight hours by still is only really produced a covering. However, the forecast is for heavier falls during the evening, which will be nice.

Esbjerg: midday

I left work yesterday just after four, as my rock and roll lifestyle really had be drained. In fact arriving in Esbjerg at half eleven on Monday night and then being up at half six meant I did not get enough sleep. So, I stood myself down so I could go back to the hotel and mess around more on the computer(!)

Night-time Esbjerg

In fact I put the Radcliffe and Maconie show on and lay on the bed staring at the ceiling. And why not. At 6 I went out to find a place to eat, and ended up trying the Dronning Louise only to find a couple of tables empty, so I take one and wait for my order to be taken. Now, I had seen what Heidi had last week, namely a very fine spicy chicken salad in a huge fried taco, and I thought that would do just fine. But when my order was taken my mouth said chilli burger and more beer, please.

Dronning Louise

So, that’s what I had. And while I waited for the meal to arrive I tried to read a magazine, but it was a little too dark, so I did some people watching. The burger came, and instead of fries it had nachos, which was fine by me. I had a second beer at the end, and just chilled out, it was very nice I have to say.

The beer had the desired effect, and once back in the hotel, I grabbed a shower and went to bed. And so ended another day in paradise.


And up in the sky a burning ball of gas can be seen, and it is in a clear blue sky. And being officially the second day of spring one would hope that it would be a darn sight warmer than it is here in snowy Denmark. Last night we got another inch of the white stuff, which made the 5 minute commute into the office interesting, especially as the ice on the window meant I could not reach the keypad at the entrance to the port. So I had to pull over and scrape more ice off the window before it would open.

It sure looks purdy out there, but in a what hell Mother Nature! It’s the end of freaking March and we should have blossom on the trees and be able to walk around with just a few layers of clothes rather than dressed like Captain Scott as it seems we have to right now. Even the Danes are fed up with it, and the forecast is for at least another week of the same for all of Western Europe.

Oh well.

BMW 520i

Last night after work, I walked to the Mongolian buffet place. I found it with no problem, but I checked beforehand that I could pay with the company credit card, and found that they only accepted Danish cards; so no food there. As it was mighty cold, and I was pretty hungry, and the Dronning Louise was full, I went back to the hotel for steak. It really has the atmosphere of a business hotel, with people sitting alone reading papers or looking at their laptops. I people watched until the food arrived, polished that off and headed up to my room to listen to Radio 4 and news of the Budget in the UK and the banking crisis in Cyprus.

That done, one last look outside at the snow falling, I went to bed at a sensible time as there was no football to watch. And so passed another day spent living the dream…….

And so Friday finally comes around, and in six hours I can pack the car and head to the airport on the first leg of the journey home. It is a cold, but clear morning with the sun shining low in the east; but, it has managed to snow again this morning, just to let us know, if the temperature of minus 5 hadn’t, that winter still has not left the building. I am just lloking forward to being home and seeing lots of green as up here it is just white and frost everywhere..

Yesterday, I got the first feeling that things are careering out of control, things going off in all directions and trying to keep a handle on it all is getting increasingly difficult. So, the task this morning is to resemble someone in control, even if under the surface all hell is breaking loose.

Last night, after work, the plan was to meet up with a couple of the guys and head to the Irish bar. But, they did not turn up on time so I headed there on my own only to find ‘the librarian’ was there playing darts on his own. Should he have access to sharp things? As expected, he headed over to chat to me, or rather talk at me for a while whilst I made the beer disappear. In the end I had to go to find somewhere to eat. Dronning Louise was full so I made my way to the Underground for a burger. And more beer.

And that was that, another day in Denmark done.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Chicken Payback

Twenty eight years ago I began life in the working world.

What I mean was that I began my forst ‘proper’ job, working in a chicken factory deep in the Suffolk countryside at Flixton near Bungay. I had had jobs before that, an odd job guy at a garage, a short order chef (for four hours), working on the electrical counter at Boots and a six month sceme at an electrical shop through most of 1983.

1985 began with the funerals of two of my friends (look at one of my Christmas blogs from either 2009 or 2010), and then more time on the dole. I did manage to talk my way into a job selling double glazing. Hasn’t everybody tried it at one time? Anyway I did the training course, a week on expenses at Hedley House, then the next Monday out on the doorstep. I realised after the first knock was answered this was going to be a thankless job, and one which would involve me trekking road after road of getting nothing but abuse.

I answered a job ad for process workers at a chicken factory and got it; and like most others in north Suffolk I spent time working at Buxted. I drove all the way there, and waited in reception, and then along with all the other new-starters was taken on that day to get our work gear.

I was taken into the factory, past the Busted whole bird room, the frozen bird line, from there you could see the E-line where the chickens were essentially turned inside out so their organs could be removed. And then nto to the whole bird room where for the next two weeks I would sit there and turn chicken wings under themselves. By the end of the week I had RSI, but went back for the second week and on Friday got my first pay packet.

That made it worthwhile.

So, I progressed onto one of the trussing tables, and did that for months. Or so it seems. Trussing is OK, certainly when they were fresh, but once they were a few hours old could be tough as old boots and really hard on your arms. After a few months, despite hating it, I was moved into the chiller, on an extra £4.20 a week, so I could pack the finished products ready for dispatch.

It wasn’t hard, and I could listen to the radio being broadcast over the factory tannoy, or on occasion sneak a radio in so I could keep everyone updated with the Ashes cricket scores.

At the end of 87, I applied and got a job in the QA department, and traded in my blue boiler suit for a white coat, a clipboard and a set of pens. I thrived, and loved the job. But, I fell out with my boss and resigned the QA job to back on the line. It was a matter of principle and was happy to go on the line, this time in the portion room cutting up chicken breasts for eight hours a day.

The QA thing did broaden my horizons, and I got some training done. So, I was marked for promotion. Only, there had to be more than the chicken factory, wasn’t there? I had got friendly with a guy on the line, James, and he was joining the RAF after his friend had already taken the Queen’s shilling.

So, I started the process, and the day I was offered a salaried position was the day after I received confirmation from the MOD I had been offered a job in the RAF. So, I turned down the promotion and upset the factory manager, and that would have made my last summer at the factory uncomfortable to say the least. But, I managed to crash my car on June 20th 1990 and broke my thumb, which resulted in my entry to the RAF being delayed and having the whole summer on the sick. And the World Cup was on, and I was getting paid.

I stayed on the sick until the week before I was due to join the RAF, I handed in my weeks’ notice and another doctor’s note and left the factory forever. And walked into a world of marching, cammo, compo, beer calls, postings to Germany, dets to Vegas and indirectly to two marriages and divorces. And a job that set me up for life.


Sunday, 17 March 2013

Sunday 17th March 2013

St Patrick's Day (Ireland and Boston)

Yes today, it is when all Irish and people who have seen Riverdance or bought a U2 record celebrate all things Irish. Or Orish. Oddly enough, even though I do have some Irish blood in me, I have never felt the need to drink green Guinness or dye my hair green.

A cherry picked shot

there was no parade in St Margaret's this morning. Or, there were no posters for one, and we heard no pipes and drums. So, in all probability there was no parade here.

Completed Towers

Instead I met up with my friend Gary, and we went off twitching at Sandwich and near Canterbury. We headed to Sandwich as Jools went to Ashford for a bead fair. At Sandwich Bay we look in vain for a barn owl that had been seen about before heading to the hide for an our to watch some ducks swimming about. Then off to Bossenden to see if we could snap a Nuthatch; we baited the fallen tree and waited. And waited. Rain began to fall and what light there was got worse. We decided to call it a day and head home.

Tower and blades

City played this afternoon, and drew away at Sunderland despite having Bunn sent off after half an hour and conceding a penalty soon after. So, a well won point in the end. We go to fight another day.

Transporting a tower

Friday morning was another cold but sunny morning. It is always good to check out of the hotel knowing that I would be home in the evening. Not much to do at work, a quick review of where we are in the project, then I go far a walk with the camera round the site to snap some of the sights as more and more turbine components arrive and are prepared to be shipped to site in Sweden.

With all deliveries on site for the week, and mostly unloaded, the office staff all had left by two in the afternoon, I thought 'bugger it' and left to. So, I packed up my stuff, got in the car and headed to the airport at Billund. I did call in at another church near to the road, and once again was lucky enough to find the door unlocked so I could get some shots. I was surprised though to find someone inside changing the brass numbers on the hymn board and seemed pleased enough with me visiting.

And then back in the car and the 20 minutes to the airport, filling the tank up on the way and then finding I have what I thought was just under three hours to kill before the flight. I have yet another burger and fries before checking in and heading to the departure lounge. First thing I notice is that the flight has been delayed an hour.

So, I read some more and people watch. The Danes seemed to be heading anywhere that wasn't Denmark and might be warm; and who could blame them? We made our way to the gate at just gone six with an expected departure time of quarter to seven. That then got put back to seven, then ten past. Seems like when it did the morning flight over, a window developed a crack and had to be changed, and that was taking longer than expected. Hence, the delay.

The plane came over at twenty past, we climbed aboard and soon taxied out and without pausing zoomed off down the runway and into the night sky. London was seven degrees warmer and drizzling, and once again the city streets did not come into view until we were about a hundred metres from the ground, the cross wind made final approach interesting, but we got down safe.

In a pleasant change, my bag was first off and I had about 50 minutes to get to Stratford to get the twenty past nine train home. Even with a change at Canning Town I got there with 15 minutes to spare, but all shops on the station had long since closed so there was little to do other than to wait on the platform for the train to arrive.

One bonus in catching the later train was that there was lots of empty seats so I got to sit and rest my eyes as Essex zoomed by and we headed through the blackness of a Kentish evening. We finally got inside the house at quarter to eleven, making it,for me,a very long day indeed. And I have to do it all again next week.....

Saturday morning, and with the promise of rain all afternoon it was up to us to make the most of the morning. After breakfast we headed down to St Margaret's Bay as there was nearly a gale blowing, but the waves were not that high, but the fresh air made you feel more alive.

Then, along to Shakespeare Beach, where the waves are usually larger, but despite the wind making it hard to stand up, the sea was not so rough. As we stood on the shingle, we could see the dark clouds rolling in, so we made our way home, via the old folks, for a nice relaxing afternoon of photography, beading and snoozing.

Friday, 15 March 2013

Friday 15th March 2013


I spoke to Mum on Sunday, It was Mother’s Day, and she said they had has 18 hours of snow, although not much had laid. So I thought little of it, even when I saw that light snow flurries were forecast for Sunday in Kent. So, waking up at five fifteen Monday morning there was half an inch on the ground. And although it wasn’t much, it did make the drive to the station interesting.

The Monday Commute

I got the train to Stratford in a blizzard, but by Ashford the ground was clear. And so it was in London, so the flight left just 15 minutes late and soon we were in the clouds with the ground lost in the cloud below. So I did out the Foxy book and am soon swept away by it. Fleet Street Fox is a reporter and a blogger and began blogging and tweeting as her marriage went down the pan. The blogs became to frame of the book and she got a deal. Anyway, I laughed like a toilet a few times, annoying the business types trying to get their laptops working.

Javelin inbound

Some of Denmark had had snow, just a dusting, and the edge of the dusting was at Billund, so away to the north verdant fields glowed in the sunshine, whilst to the south it was snow fields. We bounced on landing and were soon getting off and collecting our luggage. I got a Renault Scenic this time, which is spacious and an automatic, and the 30 mile to Esbjerg was a pleasure.

More all work and no fun makes Jelltex a dull boy

In a surprise move, I drove straight to the site to get some work done rather than go to the hotel. And did a good three hours, or a bad five hours which is more the truth…..

Driving to my hotel, it was light still, which is very nice and gave the impression spring is on the way. That would be shattered early next morning, though…….

I am in a new hotel, The Britannia, which is a British themed place, or is on parts, but is as British as the Queen. The rooms are nice and spacious, with wonderful bathrooms with a huge shower. I head out as the Irish bar is the other side of the square; what could go wrong?

Well, last week I met local character #1; the librarian/record collector guy with those ‘interesting’ theories about gravity and the Nazis. This week is was drunken local idiot. I say that, but that is wrong; he’s someone who should be in a home and on medication, not drinking pints of beer and lecturing the walls. I thought he was trying to cadge a pint so I offered him a beer in order to shut him up so I could read my book. Two oldish Irish blokes called me over, told me not to bother. They explained and we chatted and one drink lead to another and another and another. Oh, the Kilkenny goes down real well.

Nacelle arrives

So, I head back to the hotel for dinner and head to bed soon as I can.

I had to drive to Arhus early on Tuesday morning; I set the alarm nice and early so I could take my time with the 110 mile drive. Only I forgot I don’t change the time on my phone so its not twenty to five, its twenty to six.


I have to be there in two hours, find the room and not look flustered. I go down to the car park and gasp at the cold. I start the car up and the dash read minus 14! I head off into the dawn, all along the eastern horizon showed where the sun was going to come up, it looks glorious against the deep blue sky and against the snow. Temperature climbed to minus ten.

I got there in time and bumped into my boss who guided me to the meeting room, and so was in time. Phew.

Six hours later, and no better informed about the all new shiny SAP audit database, it was time to head home, in a blizzard, back to Esbjerg and the hotel. Dinner eaten, it is time to watch Mr Messi weave his magic and rescue Barca. Again.


Well, Tuesday in fact. It seems all Barca needed was Messi and some other guys to make up the numbers. Not quite true, but the little fella is on another plane as far as football is concerned and is in the best team in the world. So it goes, so it goes. They ran out 4-0 winners and so go through to the next round at Milan’s expense.

Woke up on Wednesday to about an inch of snow, and I had to clear the car of the white stuff. These MPVs are great, but what’s the point if even at five foot ten I can’t reach the middle of the windscreen to clear the snow? The roads were sheets of ice, but the car coped, and so I got into work in one piece.

Later in the day, my back really began to complain, even when sitting in a proper office chair: once I had done all my meetings for the day, I headed back to the hotel a couple of hours early. I grabbed a pot of coffee on the way up to my room, and slumped in one of the armchairs to get back into Foxy’s book.

Diary of a Fleet Street Fox (ISBN-10: 178033656X) is a rip roaring, partly truthful tale of one tabloid journalist’s journey through a divorce whilst trying to hold down a job. It details the messy way, and in places very petty, the collapse of a marriage and the way couples fight over the most trivial of things and how in the fall out, friends and family have to take sides and just how it makes us feel inside.

Of course it did bring to my mind my two divorces; and how petty and trivial they were for the most part. Sometimes it just pays to realise just how happy I am these days and thankful I don’t have to go through crap like this again, or I certainly hope so. What she found out, and certainly something I realised about my ex-wives, is at some point you come to realise you don’t actually like them as a person any more. At that point the relationship is doomed. That in her case she found out her husband was having an affair and just about caught them in bed, means for her the moment was sudden, for most of us it is a gradual realisation.

Anyway, once I finished the book I went out for a walk found a chemist and go a bottle of 100 ibuprofens For my back and then walked some more until I came to the railway station. I snapped that an a train waiting at one of the platforms. Happy with that I headed back to my room to take some drugs (for my back) and then lay on the bed for them to kick into action.

Esbjerg Station

At six I headed over the square to a place that had been recommended to me as being better than the hotel. Inside I met both the site assistants, who had recommended the place, and so once we had got a table we ordered our food and drinks and just chit-chatted. Business travel means, for the most part, spending the evenings alone in silence as we sit at tables, waiting for food, reading alone or looking at our I pad. It’s a lonely life at times. So, having two people to talk to was a pleasant change, as was good food and local beer.

More blades

Once we finished, I headed back to the hotel to watch the Arsenal game on TV, but I only saw the first half as I fell asleep all though the second half and woke up to some Danish chat show blaring out.

This morning the sun shines down from a cloudless sky, onto what feel like tundra cold Esbjerg. The car said it was minus seven this morning, and I had frost to clear from the windows before I could drive back to the office.

And Friday dawns, without a cloud in the sky and the sun shining down from a deep blue sky. It’s cold enough to freeze yer balls off, mind. Just minus four this morning, and another layer of frost to scrape from the windscreen. But, I was in good spirits having checked out of the hotel and with both cases with me, I am heading home this afternoon. I have been warned of heavy snow next week here, which means, maybe flight delays or cancellations, we shall see. I was asked at the last minute to come back next week, something I am not happy about, but I try to temper that with at least being employed, and it is not like I get my hands dirty or am back stuffing giblets.

Talking of stuffing giblets, it will be 28 years on Monday when I first walked through the door of the chicken factory at Flixton. Little did I know that would change my life; meeting James, who knew Jon, who joined the RAF, James joined the RAF, I joined the RAF, which lead to getting into engineering, which lead to the offshore job, which lead to this quality in engineering gig. I don’t regret anything, as the journey, hard at times, lead here, and I am very happy here, despite my grumblings about travel.

Yesterday was OK, nice sunny day, the snow melted, mostly. And work was OK too, other than being told I HAD to come back next week despite promising myself a week at home. Oh well, I should get to have two weeks at home over Easter then two week back here before the who show partly moves on to Sweden, which is a whole new ballgame. We’ll have to see how that pans out.

I tried to et in the bar the other side of the square yesterday, but it was packed, so went back to the hotel and ended up trying there subterranean bar ‘Underground’, which looks like some East End boozer from the 70s, with dreadful carpet and tired wallpaper. The beer was extra fizzy too, like keg beer. But the burger was good, and I got stuck into a biography of the Bible I have been meaning to read for years. Turns out it’s quite heavy, and takes all my concentration to read to take in the details.

Turns out, the old God, Yahweh, was not the only god, but one of a host, who liked to fight. Canaanites worshiped many Gods, especially Baal, the god of farming, before, in a move that would be repeated, the text of the Torah was changed and changed until Yahweh was the only God and a god that liked believers to kill unbelievers. And until after 7th century BC, the text that became Scripture was not considered such and was altered, edited and greatly added to the emphasise new theology.

Then I watched three hours of football, or tried to but slept through the second half of the Chelsea game, but Spurs, Chelski and The Toon all go through in the Mickey Mouse cup to fight another day. All English clubs are out of the Champion’s League, though.

So, to the Batmobile, let’s go-go!

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Sunday 10th March 2013

It is one of those weekends that we sometimes get this time of year, the fag end of winter, and the promise of spring that seemed so close last week seems so far away. It has been damp, misty, grey and cold and really not fit for anything other than preparing for when the weather improves, spring arrives and the sun shines.

Yesterday, I went into town for an eye test and a haircut. Gets both out of the way. I can now do without wearing glasses, well for most things other than on a computer. Legally, I would be fine to drive, but I think I will stick with them so not to get headaches. Anyway, I did not need a new pair so save some money there.

Then off for a hair cut, a bit of a chat whilst the wild growth is tamed then off to Ashford to get some wellington boots. I am dumbstruck by the fact it is possible to pay £79 for a pair of Hunter wellingtons. That's nearly eighty quid. EIGHTY POUNDS. We bought a loaf of bread a couple of scones and got the heck outta there. At a gardening plae in Folkestone we got a pair each for £12 and so our feet would be just as dry but cost £67 less.

And that was it. We both slept badly the night before, so I lay on the sofa and listened to the football and Jools beaded then snoozed the afternoon away. City drew with Southampton 0-0 missing a last minute penalty as well. We should be safe, but then we should have won more games so far this season. And we might have done except we have scored less than a goal a game all season, and that has got to change.

Today, well, more of the same weather-wise. So we lazed around this morning, visited Jools' Dad and Jen at lunchtime and messed around with photographs this afternoon. right now I am going to watch the Man Utd v Chelsea game on TV and in a bold move cook roast beef and all the trimings at the same time.

What could go wrong?

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Saturday 9th March 2013

So, its Saturday: that must mean we're in Dover, right?

Let me tell you, as nice as travel can me, the novelty soon wears off when you're flying back home late on Saturday evening. And you know its getting a regular thing when the other passengers recognise you and when you get off say 'see you Monday morning.'

I did forget to tell you about dinner on Thursday night: well, I did not see the notices, but the management thought they would try something different. A buffet. I came downstairs and was told the news: OK, I'll give it a try. What we had was just the one choice, bits of dry chicken with some tinned beans, elsewhere there was mashed potatoes, some kind of mushroom sauce and then some choices of cold vegetables. God, it was grim.

And the business travellers all sat on our own tables reading and making the most of a very poor night. Had i have known, I would have chosen to go anywhere rather than put up with food that would have been a poor meal from a hot lock on exercise.

Friday dawned, I checked out and hopefully next week I will be staying at the other hotel we use, but we shall see. I drove to work and all seemed to be going well. Until the mail arrived.

The mail.

It doesn't matter what went wrong, except to say it all went pear-shape, so the fire-fighting began, with mails and phonecalls being fired off. Why is it always Friday afternoons? Same thing in the RAF too. Oh well.

Vester Starup Kirke

Time then to drive to Billund, now at least its just a 45 minute drive, so I could take my time and find time to stop off at a church on the way, and it was unlocked. Inside it was finely carved especially behind the altar.

Vester Starup Kirke

I get to the airport, park the car and hand in the keys, and as I had 90 minutes, I decide to have lunch and so its burger and fries. Again.

Once in the air, we have fine views in the dusk of Denmark stretching out beneath us all the way to its eastern shores. And to the south the islands of Friesland could be seen. Although it was soon lost beneath a blanket of clouds, and that was the case all the way to London. Once over the city, we were on final approach and only a 100 metres or so above the ground before we broke through the cloud into the evening drizzle.

At the airport I grabbed a coffee and was served by an indifferent barista; welcome to Britain. I get on the DLR and head to Stratford, nothing is open, so I stand on the platform and wait for a Eurostar to scream past. Finally, my train pulled in and I slump into a seat on my last leg home.

The weekeend had arrived.

Friday, 8 March 2013

Friday 8th March 2013

Monday 4th March

And here we are back in Denmark. Flying over from England we were treated to some splendid views over Essex and as we travelled up the Dutch coast. But as we crossed to Denmark, clouds rolled in, oddly, the cloud extended all the way to the coast, as I could see miles and miles of beaches. As we got lower, the ground revealed itself to be mostly brown, but at least snow-free.

It is a modern wonder, that I can leave Dover on the 06:44 train to London, catch the 09:45 flight to Billund and be in the office in Esbjerg before one in the afternoon. It is really very painless, especially now as I don’t have to go to Randers and have the 77 mile drive, it’s just half an hour down to Esbjerg, and in the spring sunshine, it really was quite pleasant today.

Dover Priory, 06:31 Monday morning

Yesterday ended up being a quiet day spent inside, as Jools helped a friend move house, and so I did chores round the house and caught up on my reading. I think with the back to back trips to Denmark and Whitehaven and now back to Denmark again, it was nice just to sit at home and chill. Not that it seems to be very taxing what I do, but, well, it feels like I have been on the move for weeks.

Statford International 07:52

Other than that, all is well: it did feel like the weekend just slipped through my fingers again, but I got lots of photography done, and had free beer, which is my favourite price after all. All that is left to do tonight is to find my hotel and get myself fed.

Olympic Park

On final approach into Billund yesterday, we flew over the Danish air base at Vandel. I know this because we were detached there from Laarbruch in 1993. It was an experience, a 14 hour bus trip to Vandel, living in tents, eating compo, washing via a lazy boy, and lots of very cheap beer in the evening. Every evening. Somehow we were allowed to have duty free beer, which made it about the price of water, or so it seemed, so we got very drunk each night. (there was little else to do) Oh and eat squeezy cheese out of a can from the PX. Cheese in a can: we truly live in modern times.

Scandic Esbjerg

So, we had great fun, three weeks of pretending to prep bombs, deliver them to the squadrons and return the empties. We drank a lot of tea, ate a lot of compo and played lots of cards. I remember one night, trying to find the result of Norwich’s first ever European game. I was standing in a field with my Walkman, and radio 5, or maybe it was still Radio 2 back then, but it came through long enough for me to hear about City’s 3-0 victory.

Welcome to Esbjerg

Each day began with a ‘stand to’ which was odd because we stood too laying down in a trench. We had a baby (i.e. new) officer in charge of the det, and she could not get the hang of the time difference between zulu (GMT) and Danish summer time. So we stood to at 03:45 one morning. OC Eng had a word, more than one word. Stand toos took place at seven after that.

Red dogs

One final me memory was of when we left and the pilots decided to put on a show. We were told to stand on the revetments beside the waterfront which was the main route round base. The four Jags from IV screamed down at full speed; one at 50 feet, next one lower, next lower still. Until OC IV came down and was so low we were looking down on his aircraft. The trees the other side of the road swayed like waves on a stormy sea thanks to the jet wash.

Them were the days.

And the other notable thing was on our only day off we went to Legoland. Which is just outside the base. And we went in, looked round and drank £7 beers. I hope to go back in the spring.

Mist rising

Tuesday 5th March

So, last night after work, and it being light, after checking in I went for a walk into town to take a few snaps. It is nice to get out of the hotel, even though I had just arrived. Anyway, I walked the main street, and back round until I came to the Irish bar: should I go in? I did. And I had a pint of Kilkenny. And another. And another.

Paddy Go Easy, Esbjerg

My head was swimming, and not helped by the lunatic I had attracted in the bar who by the time I ran out was trying to tell me that gravity was conspiracy. Or something. And Germans invented UFOs. Or had them.

Blades and towers

Or something.

I got back to the hotel and went to get something to eat. I also had another beer. One bowl of onion soup and a Scandic burger later and I was done. I went to my room to listen to the radio via the computer. I thought I might lay in bed.

I woke up again at midnight, turned to computer and lights off.

And this morning was another bright and sunny day. And turbine components have been arriving: half tower sections and complete blades. Moving them were trucks like something from the best Tonka toy ever. I really have to get some shots. But it is a bit dodgy to do that right now, maybe when things settle down. The blades are immense, wider than a wing on a 747. Just amazing to see being driven on the back of a lorry; but the biggest extendable lorry you have ever seen in your life.

I was inside a tower section today, more than wide enough to stand up in; in fact it was over 3m wide. We are now getting them ready for the first load out to be installed and they are stacked waiting to go. Look incredible.

Wedensday morning, Esbjerg

So, another day turns to late afternoon and thoughts go to heading back to the hotel and maybe a snooze before the evening. Maybe.

Wednesday 6th March

There was another spectacular sunrise as I drove to work this morning. As I head in, the sun rose blood red from behind the wind turbines spinning near the harbour. But soon after the blanket of grey cloud spread over and Denmark was back to its usual drab greyness. What it does mean is that being in the office all day is not quite so painless as there are no pictures to be had. And anyway, both sets of batteries for the compact camera I have brought with me are just about flat.

The work begins......

So, last night after work I drove back to the hotel, got into my room and put the laptop back on. I listened to some radio, finished the Joy Division book and began the Charlie Brooker one. I went down for dinner, found I could not resist the burger and had just one beer. I left some and decided that as the game was on TV, I would stay in my room, save money and my liver.

Man Utd played Real, and it was a great game, and seeing Nani get sent off and Fergie explode was worth it. A great game ruined by the referee sending a player off for just trying to get the ball. Still, there’s always next year, big nose.

I met the customer’s representative today: he’s their quality expert, and full of questions, and there’s me not sure what to say and everyone in the office is at lunch. Bugger. I got through it thanks to coffee and waffle. Coffee from the machine and waffle from my mouth, and was then able to pass him on to someone else and I could relax. Making it sound all too real for me, I prefer dealing with procedures and the such.

So, tonight: do I stay in or head to Celtic get hammered on TV in the Irish bar? Hmmmmmm.

Thursday 7th March Wednesday night and instead of heading to the Irish Bar I went down to the restaurant and had burger and fries again. I eat mostly fruit during the day so I don’t feel that guilty about it, as I don’t have a starter now and just the one beer. The atmosphere in the restaurant is like that of a wake, and I really should get out and find somewhere else next week, especially after debacle that was dinner on Thursday, but more of that in a minute.

Thursday the wind did blow and no work was done out on site, blades and towers remained on trucks and it looks like they will do until Monday at least. The huge flat, gravelled area we have to work on, is like a desert, and when the wind blows, dust devils dance across the area stinging the eyes of those who go out with safety glasses. Clearly this is no one as such glasses are mandatory.

After a long day in the office, I went back home and started the Charlie Brooker book. Not bad, all about TV, and he hates TV, it insults our intelligence, but most just carry on watching. I only watched one or two of the shows he writes about, those I have not seen sound dreadful, but then I despise reality TV shows. Three years of TV reviews is a bit much, if I’m honest as there are so few shows he actually likes, or were any good. So, it will be good to get something new to read next week; The Foxy book! More on that next week.

Friday 8th March

As I came in this morning, the first nacelle is waiting on the road outside the site, it looks like a two story house on a truck, and this will be hoisted 80m in the air to sit on the towers. When you think about it, the technical challenge of putting a turbine up in the sea are huge, and a challenge, but something we will do, hopefully, well.

So, back home tonight arriving in Dover at about half nine. Just in time for bed. Next week should be my first trip out here for a while, hopefully until after Easter So, it will be great just to relax at home of an evening. But, back here next week for more turbine related malarkey.

Deepest, deep joy.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Sunday 3rd March 2013

It is Sunday morning, and I am sitting alone in the living room as Jools has gone off the help a work colleague move house. Her soon-to-be-ex partner is being an arse and is now denying her the key to get her stuff out of their shared house. I guess these small vignettes are all part of the fabric of modern life. So, I am taking the opportuntiy to relax and eventually pack for my trip to Denmark tomorrow.

So, this week, or the end of it, has seen a return to what counts as normal round here. I had to work from home on Thursday as the finishing touch to the bathroom had to be done, and then the troublesome heating system had to be investigated. Good news and bad news, in that the bathroom really is complete, but it seems we need a new heating cylinder as we ran out of hot water last night.


And on Friday, I actually went into the office in Ramsgate to work. This was the first time in two weeks i had visited and good to see I still had a desk, but someone had been working at it, pushed my files out of the way, adjusted my seat to all the wrong settings. It took me several hours to get right. So passed the day.

That night I drove to Whitstable for a party. Not really a party, but a meal as one of the Ramsgate people was retiring and another was jumping ship to Scottish Power. The meal was at JoJo's in Tankerton, and I guess its a 45 minute drive there. As seems to be the modern way, they restaurant gave us a selection of starters and main courses instead of us actually being able to order food we might actually want. So, we had to wait as each platter was passed round and so we mostly got the dregs that had been left.

Also being a driver meant i had the one glass of wine and then had to switch to orange juice. And seeing others get steadily drunk is never entertaining, so after what counted as the main course I made my excuses and left for the drive home.

At first I not notice anything wrong when I got back home. Due to the fact Scully was sitting in the middle of the drive as I tried to reverse the car down, so I left the car at the top. I locked the car and went to the door, let myself in and reached for the light switch. Nothing happened. Not matter how many times I flicked the switch nothing happened. Through the glass panel in the inner door, I saw Jools coming down the stairs with a candle.

Yes, we had an proper 1970s style power cut. Looking out of the front window I could see the whole street in darkness, but out the back I could see the main part of the village blazing with electricity.


so, there was nothing we could do, other than to sit in the darkness. Oh, pour a double measure and sip whisky by the flickering light of the single candle. That drunk, I made my way upstairs and onto bed.

Dawn brought daylight and the return of electricity, so the useless lumps of dead technology from the night before now were of some use again. Sadly, as we had no power last night, we could not set an alarm, and it turned out I had to pick up a friend at Dover station at half seven and it was now just before seven. So, time for a coffee before setting off for more photography related malarkey.

Will had come down once again from Reading, and wanted more interesting stuff to snap in East Kent. What better thing to begin with than to head to Folkestone to Castle Hill to overlook the Channel Tunnel and snap the trains coming and going?


No better thing, obviously.

So, we drove up the A20 then up Creet Road, parked up, and then set off along the edge of the iron age fort to get to the viewing point. And there it was, all spread out below us was the terminal and as we watched a Eurostar roared out of the tunnel heading north to London. We did not have time to get our cameras out to snap that one, but a few minutes later the approaching lights signalled the imminent arrival of one heading south.


So, we got our shots then went back to pick up Jools before heading to Ashford and onto Tutt Hill for some lineside photography of HS1. We had half an hour, and as we walked to the bridge a southbound Eurostar roared by, I did not have my camera out and missed another one.

But, we got some great shots of another northbound Eurostar and a southbound Javelin before it was time to head up to collect Jools and then decide what to do the rest of the day.

Shot from the hip

In the end we decided to head to Wye to try to find a tea shop to have elevenses or maybe an early lunch.

As we drove into the village we saw Morris Dancers, lots of people milling around; so we found a place to park and went to investigate. Turned out it was the grand opening of the Kings Head pub, and it looked inviting enough, so we went in and much to my surprise the first drinks were free.


So, two coffees and a pint of Shepherd Neame, for zero pence went down very well. Plates of hot sausages were brought round to try, then some gingery garlic prawns on bread too. We decided to stay and ordered a cheese ploughman's each and another round of drinks, which we were happy enough to pay this time.

Time then to drop Jools back home and Will and I headed to deal for a wander round, but the wind had settled in the north-east and it was mighty cold, so after 45 minutes we headed back home for a warming coffee and then Will had to get to the station to catch his train back to Herne Bay. Driving along into Dover I listened to the radio as Man Utd scored three goals in the last 10 minutes to give the score against City an unfair look. A game we never expected to win, it is next week's game against Southampton which will go a long way to deicide which division we will be playing in next season.

Friday, 1 March 2013

Friday 1st March 2013

Looking back at the shots I took at the beginning of the week, I find it incredible there is such wild landscapes, so empty of the modern world, just a few hours drive away. As we headed up the narrow road from Buttermere, all there was, was the narrow strip of tarmac we were travelling down, above us and below was just untouched wilderness. Behind us the sun was setting, and we watched as the shadows from the western-most peaks rushed over the valleys. Beside us, a waterfall tumbled from a peak above us, but as it is always in shadow, it was almost totally frozen over.

The next morning, we woke up and began to pack. We had thought of leaving before dawn to get some miles under our belt, but in the end decided to stay for breakfast. Once the car was loaded we set off through the town to Workington and then along the A66 to Penrith. During the night, fog had rolled in, so we had to drive for the first hour through banks of mist and fog, at least until the sun had burned it off. Traffic was heavy, and for a while we got stuck behind a tail of cars behind a lorry, and then looked on, horrified, as a MPV tried to overtake it in dense fog. The driver had to slam his brake on to avoid a head-on crash.

As the sun shone through the mist, the scene was stunning, but we had agreed the night before that the day was just for getting home, not for photography, and I stuck to it. We drove on. We came to the motorway, and turned south.

We had to make the decision by the time we got to Preston whether to head over the moors on the M62 or head down the M6. This would decide which way we would go round London to get to Kent. Thing is there would several hours between making that decision before finding out if it was a wise choice. In the end we decided to head over the moors to Leeds and then down the A1 and M11 to join the M25 just before the Dartford crossing.

As we headed east, the clouds rolled in, although it did not rain. Traffic was OK and so we made steady time. In truth, once we turned south, traffic was light and remained so. We were always thinking that we would see heavy traffic over the next hill or round the next bend. But no. We crossed the Thames before three and so could relax as it was just an hour home. We stopped off at the Medway services for some dirty food: Burger King with fries and onion rings and fried chilli cheese. Very dirty.

We then headed for home on the last short leg home. Sadly, there was no warm feline welcome for us, as they we in the cattery until the next morning. So, we put the kettle on and made a damn fine cup of coffee.

Next morning, I headed to the cattery inbetween work to collect the cats, and there is nothing more joyous than driving along with all three cats singing, OK, meowing along. Its amazing how quickly they bounce back from being abandoned in Stalag Cat XV to being home and demanding food. Attention. More food. More attention.

Life was back to normal. Normal will continue until Monday morning when I head to the snowy north and Denmark again.