Sunday, 30 June 2013

Sunday 30th June 2013

Monday 24th June

It has to be said, working from home is one of the pleasures in life. What with the lying in bed until half six, listening to the news on the radio, Jools bringing me a large cup of fresh coffee. To the actual work, checking mails and messages whilst at the dining room table, whilst being bothered by the cats looking for food/attention/whatever. Jools returned home at dinner time, we ate, we talked, I packed for the morning when I would commute to Denmark.

Then we knocked a wall down.

As you do on a Monday evening.

On Saturday, Jools’ nephew and a mate will come to build a new wall, we had to know the old one down. However, to do this we needed a skip I nto which we could put the rubble, and then the new bricks, cement and ‘fur’ with which George will buld the new wall with. So, alongside work, we had a skip delivered and then the building stuff. All exciting stuff for the neighbours who had no idea what was going on, only that a skip now takes up one of the parking spaces and Jools and I were apparently digging tranches.

We knocked the old wall down, then Jools, myself and Bob our elderly neighbour opposite put the rubble in the skip then had beer to celebrate the fact we had dealt with the rubble. There really is nothing quite like wielding a 15lb lumphammer in the wanton destruction of a garden wall. Yay, us!

Tuesday 25th June.

I woke with a bad back: only to be inspected after the night the wall came down. I finished packing, Jools dropped me off at the station and I began my commute to Denmark. Nothing out of the usual happened: I had good views over London and took some shots and on the flight read and finished the train porn magazine.


I got off the plane, checked my pockets only to find I had lost my passport.







I found it in with the sick bag in the pocket of my seat, so I went through immigration, picked up the keys for my hire car and set out to find it.

The City of London

I drove to Esbjerg, did the four hours work then headed to the Britannia to check in and sleep. I went to the hotel restaurant for dinner, and indication as to how tired I was. I had a burger and a beer before heading off to bed. Apparently, it is college graduation this week, with bars open to five in the morning which explains the noise until the wee small hours today.

Wednesday 26th June

The elephant in the room is that I have been offered another job.

There, I said it. In plain words. I got a message through Linkedin, did I want to connect with so-and-so. So I did, next thing she was asking all these questions. We talked over the phone, and in the end I was offered this job in that there London for more money than I’m on now. But with more responsibility, less time to call my own and all that shit.

I have until Friday to decide.


My God.

We shall see how that turns out……

Wednesday it has been dealing with Mum’s shit, mainly her cat, And whether we should just goup and and take it as her ‘friend’, Pat, is fed up with the task. We are setting a Sunday deadline with Mum otherwise we kidnap the wall-eyed-cat.

Tonight I ad dinner at the Dronning Louise: nachos and beer; two of the main food groups right there. And then went to Paddy Go Easy and watched the first half of the Brasil game, I could have watced it all, byt my liver was compaining…..

Tomorrow, I ask my boss for a raise and tell him of the job offer if the pay rise don’t work….

It seems that God has decided, well, he has not decided as I’m pretty certain he does not exist, anyway, he has decided that Denmark must drown. And so since Wednesday the rain has fallen, only stopping to tease us into thinking that summer might have arrived only for more dark clouds to scamper over and dump more rain. And it has been cold.


Another day in the office, checking data, rechecking data. You get the idea. Steffen took me out for lunch, at a grill bar which is an excuse to get out of the office and stretch our legs.

That evening, still not hungry after that rather large lunch, I head to Dronning Louise for a snack of nachos and beer whilst trying to understand the ticker on the Dansih new channel on the TV above the bar. All I could gather was there was a big story breaking, and a reporter looking serious outside a building. Oh well. I head to Paddy Go Easy and order a beer. On the TV they are gearing up for the Brazil Uruguay game. I get sucked in, and have a second beer which takes me to half time. Do I have another beer and stay to the end, or make a break for my hotel room? IN a surprise move, I head back to the hotel and fall asleep watching the 2nd half on my bed.


The rain falls. This week it is student graduation week, which means bars and clubs stay open until the morning. So, there has been shouting, singing in the town square outside my hotel window. So, the one good thing about the rain is that it clearly dampens their spirits and so keeps the noise down to acceptable amounts.

Thursday is my change to wreak revenge on all those powerpoint presentations that I have to sit through down the years, in that I had to give a 6 hour training session. We have plenty of breaks and coffee and I think we all manage to say awake. I escape at half five having caught up on my mails, and return to the hotel to lay on the bed and listen to the radio.

I call Jools and now arrangements are in place for adopting mum’s cat, Bowie. He has a wall eye, and is a wonderful cat, and clearly Mum cannot look after him any more. So on Sunday we will drive up from London to deepest Suffolk to collect him. I guess it will also mean having to visit the patient in the hospital. We shall see.

I meet up with my boss for dinner at half seven. We head to Bones as I have not had ribs this week. And they are a wonderful as ever. As I walk back to the hotel, it means I am not tempted to head to Paddy’s or use the hotel bar, and so am back in my room so I can watch the Spain v Italy game. Turns out to be mosty a yawn-fest, and drags on through two half of possession football into extra time and then penalties. At twenty five past eleven Spain scored the winning penalty and I switched the TV off and dropped off straight to sleep.


The rain is still falling outside. I took a couple of pictures through my hotel window to record the fact and turn out to be the first shots I have taken since landing on Tuesday. I pack, go down to reception and check out. One last drive to the office and a whole day of data analysis to be done in six hours. *Sigh*

Monday, 24 June 2013

Monday 24th June 2013

And the wind did blow some more, and so the orchids would sway one side then sway the other way. But what the heck, let’s go and check them out anyway! The plan was to head to try to find the almost legendary Musk Orchid. Musks are tiny and a bugger to spot, but we like a challenge!

After breakfast we headed out to Folkestone, and then up the Elham Valley to the meadow, where I was told they could be found. Now the meadow is spread over several acres, and the orchid can be just 3cm high and there has been a whole two months of growth from everything else in the meadow, with some being just shy of waist high. In other words, it was like looking for a needle in a haystack, and we came with none of those.

Greater Butterfly Orchid Platanthera chlorantha

However, the meadow was full of other varieties. I mean packed with Common Spotted and Heath Spotted Orchids, thousands of them. It was just a delight just to wander through taking in all the colours and variations within each type. I showed Jools the lone Lady Orchid, which was right at the end of its season. I also found four Fly Orchids, they too were past their best, and was able to show a couple where the Flys were. I did also fail to find the Late Spider which should be able to be found there too. But we did find a couple of Greater butterfly Orchids, standing tall and white against the colour of the grass.

Greater Butterfly Orchid Platanthera chlorantha

And the Musk remained elusive too.

Fragrant Orchid Gymnadenia conopsea

On the way back home we called in to check in on the Birdsnests and White Helliborines, both of which were out, and despite the dark woodland setting, well worth a visit and a try at snapping. Jools had not seen the Birdsnest before, and it was a thrill to be able to show her this unusual and odd looking orchid,. The Helleborines were just out, and looking wonderful in the setting, alough tricky to snap. I got some shots and was happy enough. I believe there are some in the open at Denge, so maybe I should go there on my week off….

Fragrant Orchid Gymnadenia conopsea

Back home for lunch, and then Jools tried to get me to help in the garden. I did some weeding and pruning, which was (barely) better than nothing.

Somehow the day slipped us by, and before we knew it, it was seven and dinner time. Mum called, and she sounds almost back to normal. I laid the law down with her, and said she has to want to change, rather than change just to please others. She did nearly die, a few hours later would have been too late. So, its up to her. I also said she has to give up the cat, as it is cruel that she cannot take it to the vet when it is required. She is going to see if the RSPA can let us take Bowie on, so we will be a four cat household. We shall see….

Alas, this is my last blog for a while. I am off to DK in the morning, and then we have a weekend away, so I won't be back online until Sunday evening at the latest, and maybe Tuesday or even later on next week, we shall see. So no need to worry if there is a lack of Jelltex-related news. All is well, although life is never simple, it keeps throwing curveballs at us.

Anyway, until next week my friends....

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Sunday 23rd June 2013


At last a late start and so the chance to lie in bed just listening to the radio burble. One of life's many pleasures. Jools had a bead class at eleven and I had another appointment with a Bulleid light pacific at lunchtime, so hey ho, off we go in our little Polo.

The Canterbury Belle, Charing, Kent

I drop Jools off in Folkestone, and head along the A20 to check out a couple of churches which I spotted a couple of weeks ago. The first one was locked, but at Smeeth, after finding a place to park, I found the main door in the timber-framed porch open and so I went in. First thing I noticed was one of the windows, modern stained and full of butterflies. It looked stunning.

GWUK #778 The Window of the Resurrection (the 'Butterfly Window'),St Mary the Virgin, Smeeth, Kent

I looked at my watch and decided it was time to head to Charing, which after my experience with my view being blocked lat week was on a much quieter line, so there should be no danger of that happening. Turns out i had cut it rather fine, as I walked onto the station there was an announcement that the next train wasn't going to stop, which gave me just enough time to get over the bridge, check out my camera settings before Tangmere hoved into view, and with a road and in a cloud of smoke and steam left again.

The Canterbury Belle, Guston, Kent

I set out to pick Jools up again from Folkestone so we could head home for lunch and me to check on my shots. I had enough time before she was due to pass by us at Martin Mill so I could snap her one more time. So just after four we head down to the bridge at Guston to see her round the bend at Martin Mill and power up the bank towards us. She was right on time, and made a fine sight, though with little smoke as she approached us. I got many shots off.

Jools went out for fish and chips for dinner, then we sat down to watch a fine documentary on the excavation of Richard III's remains from a car park in Leicester. Not a bad day all in all.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Saturday 22nd June 2013

First up this evening is news of Mum. I have spoken with her this evening, and it seems she might be hoe in a week's time. She is lucky to be alive. However, her web of lies to me, Jools, her friends and herself have all come crashing down. Her stash of fags, fag butts, half eaten chocolate and all the other guilty secrets have all be discovered and laid bare.

What happens now is up to her: a social working is to visit and coordinate her life, if she is allowed home. I am away in Denmark all week, and I said if she needed me to say here all she had to do was say. She said there was no need. So, it's business as usual for us. Or what has become usual anyway.


I guess i should tell you why I was in the Surrey Hills for all week. I was on an ISO 9001:2008 lead auditor's course. It was tough, at times dull and sapped our very existence. But, by Friday morning, most of us, even some of the people from abroad, were up to speed and hopeful of passing the course. To pass all we had to do was pass the exam; 120 minutes and 24 pages of questions and essays to answer.

After some revision, we sat down in silence and did our audit stuff, answered the questions, qualified our answers and just got the job done. I was finished after 90 minutes, handed my paper in and left.


I tried to call for a taxi from outside the hotel. I dodged people dressed in morning suits and silly dresses, clearly some kind of wedding was happening, apparently this wedding was going to be accompanied by swearing. Lots of swearing. A taxi deposited the best man, half dressed, sweating and swearing. I asked if the driver could either take me to the station or call the office to get another to come for me.

He said he would take me. Good job he did as I got to the station with 7 minutes to spare before a train to Redhill, and it would have been another two hours wait for the next one. We passed through unspeakably pretty villages, picture-postcard churches and cottages. All worth revisiting for sure. At some point.

So, we trundled to Redhill, where I had a 50 minute wait for the train to Tonbridge. I sat on a bench and watched the world go by. I was joined by an old lady and we talked. She was coming back fro Exeter, and would be on my train, so I said I would help and her luggage on and off the train. It was pleasant hearing her stories of life in her village down the line.

bee orchid Ophrys apifera

At Tonbridge we just had 3 minutes to get to the other side of the station for the train to Dover. It was running late in the end, so we had time. I climbed on the train, found somewhere to sit, and watched the Kentish countryside roll by as we headed towards Ashford. A refreshment trolley came round and I got a coffee and a bun. It seemed a fine way to end the week, on my way home drinking coffee with all of Kent passing by for my entertainment.....

bee orchid Ophrys apifera

Jools was waiting for me at Dover, and so we went home for yet more coffee and decide what to do with the rest of the longest day of the year.

Not surprisingly, it had something to do with photography. and orchids. So, we headed off to Pegwell where I had been told there were bee orchids. We parked up, and walked to where we hoped they would be, and were confronted with thousands of Southern Marsh orchids everywhere. What a sight.

Lizard Orchid Himantoglossum hircinum

We walked over to where we thought htye would be, and looked.

And looked.

And looked.

Then, Jools saw something different, and sure enough it was two tiny Bee Orchids, standing apart in the long grass. We got our shots, and after looking some more went to Sandwich Bay to check out the Lizards. Lizard Orchids.

Lizard Orchid Himantoglossum hircinum

They grow all along the edge of the road by the beach, and many were part out, some fully out. So we got out to snap a few before the wind blew them around too much and made photography impossible. Once again the wind was due to blow all weekend, so getting the snapping done seemed like a great idea. And it was wonderful being out walking in the late evening sunshine.

Lizard Orchid Himantoglossum hircinum

The Lizards are one of the rarest and incredible orchids the country has; hope you can see from my shots.

Lizard Orchid Himantoglossum hircinum

Lizard Orchid Himantoglossum hircinum

Friday, 21 June 2013

Friday 21st June 2013

Longest day of the year, and a chance to catch up on my week:

So, welcome to deepest, darkest Surrey. I am staying in what was once a grand country house, the lorded gentry waited upon by a small army of servants. It is now part of a chain of hotels that serve crap food and charge a small fortune to the companies that think its great. Maybe they both get value for money, but despite appearances, Wootton House is just a run of the mill conference, wedding and amateur boxing venue.



After an early dinner of chicken in a bun and a beer, before Jools dropped me off at the station in Ashord in time for me to catch the train to Tonbridge. I then had half an hour to wait before the service to Redhill. On that we passed through quiet, green landscapes and through leafy villages. It was stunningly beautiful. Redhill is a busy junction, and so we all waited the ten minutes for the train to Reading which would drop me off at Dorking.

GWUK #775 Platform 1, Redhill Station, Surrey


I know there was such a place, but I had never given it any thought. I may have seen if signposted from the M25, maybe not, but I had never been to what the local tourist office likes to call “Surrey Hills”. I got off at Dorking West, there were no taxis so I googled a local company and waited 5 minutes for it to arrive.

We zoomed through the town, past what seemed like dozens of fine pubs and Indian restaurants: and then into the green rolling hills, through tiny villages before turning off down a tree-lined lane to the hotel. It was once a grand pile, and is a wonderful building. I checked in, dumped my bags and headed to the bar. A wedding was in full swing: I was wearing t shirt, jeans and trainers. I was a little underdressed. I got my pint and went onto the terrace to stand beneath the fountain in front of the faux Grecian temple to tell Jools about it.

Wootton House, Dorking, Surrey

This is about as good as it gets: as I said to the taxi driver, how did an old scrote like me end up here? I went to sleep to the sound of peacocks, as you do when you’re at work…….


I had the luxury of a nine forty-five start; so laid in bed until half seven before heading for breakfast. I had fruit but could not resist the fried food and so had bacon, sausage and eggs, which went down very well.

ISO 9001:2008 is as dry as it sounds. It deals with Quality Management Systems and audits thereof. So we talked and learnt about that until nearly seven. We then had homework to do, which meant me heading to the restaurant to have dinner, which was terrible. We consoled ourselves after the fifteen quid burger with large whiskies before hitting the stairs to our rooms.

Wootton House, Dorking, Surrey

And now some news on Mum: she is out of danger and is now on a respiratory ward as they try to deal with her various problems. She is off the oxygen, which is good and can now eat and drink. Although she needs constant care, drugs and physio as they try to get her more active, or will do if she is to ever go home again.


Much the same as Monday, but with higher humidity and an earlier start. We went to the pub at the end of the drive for dinner. We sit in the beer garden and I have been eaten alive my midges, but I did have fried wing of skate for dinner, which was great.

Wootton House, Dorking, Surrey

Mum spoke to Jools, she can barely talk, but seems like she has been caught out slagging off one of the few people who helps her out. A neighbour told Pat what has been said. This just gets worse and worse. How she is going to look Pat in the face I don’t know. Anyway, I am sitting in my room, listening to The Sundays, outside I can hear a nightingale singing. Life is good. And this is work.


I wish I could say that the venue for the course, what with beieng a supposed 4 star hotel, service and food would be good. But it sucks. I mean it really is poor, we were informed on Monday we could not be served dinner on Wednesday as they had a large corporate event which would take all their staff.

Thankfully, we have discovered the pub at the end of the drive so we spent our second evening there, this time revising and doing our homework. So, we did our homework before hitting the beer and ordering our food,

The day has been splendid, as far as weather was concerned. Although we were in classrooms all day, I did get to go outside at lunchtime, where I spent my time looking at the damselflies near the pond. Oh I wish I had my camera with the macro lens, as there was a banded damselfly, which I had not seen before. Stunning insect.

So, another day passes and I think we are learning. Something. We shall see if I pass the exam. However, working with the various nations on our course is difficult and makes the team exercises tricky as it seems half the time is spent dealing with language issues.

No news on Mum as we can’t get the hospital ward to pick up the phone to answer our call, so we shall see what tomorrow brings.

Thursday. It has been busy at Wootton House these two days. Unilever have been holding a massive teambuilding session here, part of which involved a bouncy castle, fake plastic trees, cocktail making lessons amongst other stuff. There were a few sore looking heads around this morning. We were told that due to the high numbers of people, the hotel could not accommodate us for dinner last night. Thanks to their dreadful food and service we were only too happy to take our business to the pub at the end of the drive; which we will do again tonight as we will toast our last day here, and then we shall scatter to the four corners of the globe.

And Solihull.

The thunder and rain forecast did not arrive, so we sat in the classroom and sweltered in the humidity. Or at least the Brits did, those from the Middle East complained about the cold and breeze.

Mum is better and walking a short distance and is due to see the occupational therapist and all this is still a long way from her being discharged. At some point she will have to try and cope with being at home and what has become of her chosen life path. It is nice that Jools and I spoke today and were able to make plans for tomorrow evening, which seemed to be more orchid chasing. No change there then…..

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Sunday 16th June 2013

And so a new day brings news....

Mum is a little better, but still taking in pure oxygen through a full facemask. She can talk, eat and drink and is able to ask questions now. It seems the worst is over and the panic can now stop. However, as I said yesterday, whether this is a permanent state of affairs or can be reversed or if she can live on her own from now on is, as yet, unclear.

I am off to deepest Surrey this evening on a course, and so will be offline until Friday evening pretty much. But i am sure the interweb can cope. I am on a course for work, hopefully it can give me new skills with which I can dazzle at work. It's train from Dover to Tonbridge and then cross the south east to Surrey and the country hotel in which I am locked up for the week. Wish me well.

Golden Arrow Statesman


Up with the larks at a quarter to eight: I must have needed the extra zeds. And out to get my barnet mangled with the added dose of sarcasm that comes with the Cherrytree crew. That done we head home for breakfast, then out to Tesco for the weekly shop, before it is time for lunch and then heading out to chase more steam trains. The same train.


For a change I decide to head to Pluckley, where there is a huge long straight on which to watch it's approach. Only, after waiting nearly half an hour, as Tangmere approached, a stopping train stopped between me and my target, and even climbing onto the bridge did not get me a clear view and she sped past, coasting into Ashford.

Golden Arrow Statesman

I console myself by heading to Smarden to the Chequers where we have a deserved drink before I head into the church which was open this time.

We drive back home, I drop Jools off then head to martin Mill to see Tangmere again. And I wait and wait. And as promised the wind gets up, and despite being flaming June I am cold. After it is half an hour late, I give up and head home for a warming brew. I hear she was an hour late, but there is always another chance, and for us that is just next Saturday. In fact she is coming on Tuesday, but I'll be in a different county.

Golden Arrow Statesman


After breakfast, we head to Lydden so Jools can see and photograph the Man Orchids, before we drive to Sandwich to look for some unusual hybrids I had been tipped off about. We park up at Pegwell Bay and set off, and soon enough I sly a whole field of Marsh Orchids, of different hues and patterns.

Peacock Butterfly We get down on our hands and knees and sanp lots of them, before moving on to where i had been toldmost of the orchids were. We snap many, many more, and I get my best shot of a Peacock Butterfly and an Orange Tip to really cap the day off.

Orange Tip butterfly

we come home for a lunch of stinky French cheese and either beer or cider, and then for me to prepare for my course and the trip to the hotel.

Until the weekend, my friends.....

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Saturday 15th June 2013

As I write this, my Mother lies in intensive care on a breathing machine. Her condition was described to me as poorly, although an improvement on her condition last night when admitted.

How she came to this is a long story, those of you who know me or my life will know some of it, some know most of it. I won't go into details here, and it might be a moot point as she might well recover in the next few days. As it stands, her lungs cannot get enough oxygen into her bloodstream, so pure oxygen is being supplied. Whether this is a temporary situation or something more permanent is something only time will tell.

We got the call last night from a family friend who seemed to suggest Mum was at death's door and so called the doctor who called an ambulance. I did not believe that things could be so bad, but Pat has a medical background so should know what she is talking about.

To compound matters, I am to go on an expensive training course tomorrow afternoon, and so there is no time for me to go up to visit, and from what I heard she is sleeping most of the time anyway. If she takes a turn for the worst now then I will have to think about leaving the course. It might sound bad that I have not gone rushing up already, maybe I should, I don't know. But, I have not, and that is something I may well have to live with.

She is my last living blood relative, and so with her my link to my family goes and all I have is what I have here. With Jools and the life we have built, more than makes up for what I may lack in family.

We shall see.

Friday, 14 June 2013

Friday 14th June 2013

And so Friday afternoon rolls round again and the weekend is just coming over the hill and will soon be here, but not yet. But, I hear the shiver of anticipation that comes with knowing Kermode and Mayo will be with us in twenty or so mnutes. This is my second and last week at home before our week off at the beginning of July, as next week I head to deepest darkest Surrey for a course and the week after that it’s back to Denmark, just so I remember what it looks like……

And then a week off with lots of fun things planned. But more of that nearer the time, but let me tease you by saying there will be a streak or two involved…….

One thing I did forget to say is that our neighbour’s parents knocked part of our front wall down. I would like to say that I don’t think this was deliberate, but as we spoke to them several times over the weekend and they failed to mention ‘wallgate’. Not that we would have expected them to repair the damage, but an admission would have been nice. So, we are planning getting a new one built which will remove the ugly (but painted a lovely terracotta colour) breeze blocks from our field of view.

Aftermath of the 'wall incident'

This will involve the digging up of many of the plants in the front garden, to make way for the trench digging which is required. But the digging is for next weekend after death-by-powerpoint (or its 21st century bastard-child).

The other exciting news is the German bomber raised from the seabed on the Goodwin Sands and brought back to shore in Ramsgate. I would like to say I have shots of the bomber, and I could have snapped it yesterday, but due to the screaming of the technicians in the office I stormed out to work from home before I took a shot. So you will have to make do with the GPS Apollo heading out to begin the raise.


Spring/summer whatever you call this part of June has turned into autumn, and the winds have blown and we have had to put the heating on several times during the evening. We have a slight lull tonight which might mean heading to Elham for some orchid hunting, but it will blow again tomorrow which will put a stop to that.

Other than that, life seems to have flowed us by; plants grow, birds sing, cats bring in rabbits/birds/mice/unidentified offal and each evening we watch Springwatch and are delighted with most of what we watched, but I am convinced Michaela Strachan gets the gig because she can smile and sometimes read the autocue.

Highlights: Water Rail
Long tailed tits

So, here’s to the weekend and wave bye-bye to the working week.


Wednesday, 12 June 2013

6 Years

I try not to spend much time looking back, however, there are occasions when it pays to.

6 years ago, inbetween work gigs in Indonesia, I moved from Lowestoft to here in Dover as it was clear this is where I wanted to spend my down time as Jools and I were getting on so well. So, I rented a wagon and Jools and I headed up to Suffolk to pick up my stuff and bring it down to place in Jools' one bedroom flat.

Jools is a minimalist and I am a bit of a hoarder so it was going to be a bit of a debate about what to keep and what to throw out. The records and CDs were merged, as were the books.

Before it was decided that I move down, we did talk about should I move down here or Jools move to Lowestoft. I have never regretted moving down here. I know there were limited opportunities for employment for jools in Suffolk, and I could work from anywhere at this time. So, I moved down and Jools kept her job and flat.

I have not regretted moving down, not once. For many years, since before my Dad died it seemed that Lowestoft was a dying twon, dying as major employers closed one by one and the industrial landscape was turned into retail parks. So instead of making things that other's may want, we just sell things to each other. It's the same the country over of course.

So, I moved into the ground floor flat with Jools, a year or so later we got married and a few months later moved to what I used to call the 'House on the Cliffs' and we have our ideal life. I know there have been ups and downs; UTEC being closed down and I lost my high paid job and so we had to adjust to having less or no money. But, we bounced back.

So, here's to six more years! Or, hopefully, longer and our life together stretching into our dotage.

Flickr is dying

I have held back from commenting on what Yahoo has done to Flickr until I get used to the changes, but now some three weeks have passed, here goes.

On the 21st May, I like many other Flickr members got a mail from Yahoo: "Hi Jelltex,

Amazing things are happening at Flickr. We've made a lot of important upgrades to your service that we wanted you to know about."

Once you got onto the site, their blog went on to describe lots of awesomeness and more to come. Little did we know that this would soon be described as a threat. In short the changes are simple, photos now have to be viewed in 'justified' mode. This means that as you are looking at larger versions of shots, this saps bandwidth and for those with limits this is not good.

the old

The site slowed to a crawl, the viewing experience, the browsing experience got so bad that most stopped using the site. Or using it as much as they did. Staff opened a feedback thread, if you could find it, and the complaints piled up. And the staff did nothing. Or they did not interact. And this made the situation even worse.

the new

This is the best description of what has happened:

"Have you ever been stuck on a train? The lights go out, the train grinds to a halt and you are left in the dark wondering what the heck is going on

AndMakeItSnappy: Suddenly an announcement comes through the intercom. The delay is caused by a signal failure. Someone is working on it.

The problem is that we have been sitting on the train since 5/20 and the train is still not moving.

The real reasons for the train is not moving is that many extra coaches and freight wagons have suddenly been coupled on to the end, the engine is now totally underpowered for the extra weight; and if that weren't enough, the brakes have seized on.

However, the train guard and driver are telling us that it is moving, despite the fact that the view out of the windows tells us the opposite. Meanwhile, the design and decorating staff are busy painting the outside of the coaches, refreshing the logo, and thinking about adding nice curtains to the windows.

What a way to run a railway!"

Flickr has ignored it's core paying customers and has said things will not go back. Traffic has slowed to a crawl on mine and others photostream. At a stroke we have changed to become the product rather than the customer with the advertisers being the customers. I have gotten used to most of the changes, and i will continue to use the site as it is where I host the shots for this blog, closing my Fickr account down would require me to embed thousands of shots in 5 years of blogs. However, if Yahoo changes its T&C to reflect Facebook's in that they reserve the right to use my shots as they see fit them I will close my account down with no notice as my shots are mine, I won the copyright.

The endless scrolling, and uploading of picture eats away at my spare time and reduces the fun of surfing Flickr into something more akin to work. Please change it back, Yahoo. although I know mine and thousands of other members please have, and will continue to be ignored.

Monday, 10 June 2013

A year without Facebook

A year ago I deleted my Facebook account. It wasn’t quite a rash decision, but after deciding I was going to do it I acted on that almost immediately. I won’t lie, at first it was hard to give up, put simply, I was addicted to it, although I got nothing really from that addiction.

So, I did delete the account, and lost contact with most of the 130 or so friends I had there. Truth is that was the only contact we had, either as former work colleagues from my days on the survey boats or from when I was arranging the school reunion. So, for the most of them I rationalised that all we had in common was our past, and we cannot spend too much time in looking back, regretting of what we may or may not have done.

Bye Bye Facebook

We must look forward to the future: for me that is when I meet some of my online friends, either my long time friend from Colorado who should be in Sussex next month or Tony, the former Olympic cyclist who wants to cycle round the Outer Hebrides. Thinking of all the distilleries there, I am liking the idea more and more, Tony, but that would leave less time for the cycling……

Today it has been announced that the NSA and GCHQ probably have been eavesdropping in on our e mails: now, I don’t know if you’re like me, but I write maybe half a dozen mails a year and is all full of whinging about work, getting old or some such stuff. But that should not warn us the dangers of unrestricted snooping. I mention this now as Facebook collects lots of data on its users, and at some point may be compelled to hand it over to authorities to see what things we ‘like’. It just won’t be Facebook, but other social sites. We already are seeing people arrested for what they say on Twitter, is this part of the thought police? Just a thought.

I am careful about what I post online as there are just two people with my name in the world, and so if you type my name or screen names, odds are it will be me. I do occasionally Google my name and I see that Rum I reviewed when I was drunk or the bad CD reviews I did on Amazon back in the day. The internet never forgets.

Monday 10th June 2013


Well, what an odd weekend! Despite it being the first week of flaming June, it has been anything but flaming! After the sunshine of the week, it was a shock to find almost total cloud cover on both days of the weekend coupled with a keen north-easterly breeze that really took the heat out of the day. In fact, I would go as far to say on Sunday it was positively chilly.

We have neglected the garden, and with the wind making macro shots impossible, we decided to do some garden related chores in the morning before setting out on train chasing at lunchtime. So, Jools weeded and I mowed the lawn. It look very presentable, and an inspection of the plants reveal a potential bumper strawberry and gooseberry harvest in a few weeks. We hope so!

The Golden Arrow Statesman, Wye, Kent

So at half eleven, we set off for the line between Ashford and Canterbury, but this time heading to Wye for a change of scenery. I parked at the Tickled Trout, a fine looking pub I spotted on GSV and thought a post train pint might be good here. I left Jools to her book and half a cider whilst I walked the 50 yards to the station to get a good spot on the bridge. As I walked on the platform, the stationmaster rushed by shouting that another railtour was coming. So, I get my cameras out, head up the bridge, look back down the line to Ashford and see a train about two miles away.

The Golden Arrow Statesman, Wye, Kent

I could see no smoke, and so doubted the stationmaster’s insistence that it was steam hauled. And indeed as it got close I could see it was diesel for sure, top and tailed by class 67s. It roared through, hauling a fine rake of Pullman coaches, as this was the VSOE luncheon special. Many people having paid near to £600 for lunch as it toured round the garden of England.

Ten minutes to wait then for Tangmere, and like always spotters and snappers swap train news, showing us all the be the geeks and anoraks we surely are.

Right on time the gates were closed, and in the distance we could see smoke rising. He she comes. With the view down the tracks we had about a minute to wait before she crested the rise about half a mile away and the driver opened the throttle again and smoke poured from her chimney. And then she was upon us, passing below me to the right. I cross the bridge to get a shot as she thunders through the station with the small signal box at the end of the platform in shot.

The Golden Arrow Statesman, Wye, Kent Got it! Another fine photoshoot; now to be rewarded with a pint and maybe a meal. I joined Jools in the Tickled trout, we find a table, choose our meal and wait. The wait some more. Before getting down to some serious waiting action. Now, I will be honest and say we were told there would be a delay, but just half an hour. 75 minutes later the food arrived. And just as well it was good! But the wait meant that there was just enough time to head to Minster to see Tangmere again. So, we set off across Kent on up to Thanet.

The Golden Arrow Statesman

We arrive with ten minutes to spare, and a good crowd had already gathered. And once again bang on timr Tangmere appeared from round the bend, slowing down ready to cross to the down line in preparation to take the chord to Sandwich. I like this as there is plenty of time to take loads of shots during this manoeuvre. However, in changing to my other camera as she neared me on the bridge I had failed to remove the lens cap and switch it on, so I only grabbed a few shots as Tangmere rounded the chord and away.

Back home for a coffee, and we see that next door’s parents have turned up and are trying to work out how the strimmer works in order to take the jungle that the garden has become. We leand them our petrol mower, and so go round for a chat. He is an old soldier who likes his brandy. And beer. And already had wet his whistle. I am persuaded to have a beer, then they come round ours so I can ply him with Madeira and some of our Sloe Gin. And all this before dinner.

Thankfully they went back next door and so we could get our dinner and me sober up some before it was time to head to bed.


If anything, Sunday was windier and cooler that Saturday. And so any idea of orchid hunting was abandoned and we went back to doing chores around the house. I started to creosote the fence, and next door came out to chat and enquire if I wanted a beer. At half nine! Early even for me. I declined.

I carried on working, with plenty of tea and internet breaks until lunchtime. Next door had also provided us with some fresh rhubarb, and so I stewed it and Jools made the crumble mix so we could have rhubarb crumble for dinner. Along with some fresh cream we just happened to have. It was delicious and a perfect way to end the day, munching that away as we watched the program on the Dark Ages again on BBC4.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Sunday 9th June 2013


Back to work at the office in Ramsgate. I didn't feel like it, but you know, it pays the bills. It seems odd not travelling, and more like being on holiday than working to be honest, especially when I stay home to work. Things will be getting very hectic from now on, and so there will be very little time for fun and I am guessing that work is going to be stressful with a capital FUCK. Anyway, that is for tomorrow and maybe in July, the the worries are gathering about how this will turn out, and whether i should start doing the lottery once more so I can get the heck off this crazy treadmill we call work.

Southern Marsh orchid at Monkton

Despite the stiff breeze, it was sunny, so after work I headed to Monkton Nature Reserve to see what was growing as I had heard they might have orchids. It is only a short drive down Thanet Way, and I paid by three quid and had a wander spotting a Marsh Orchid, although I needed to phone a friend for identification. I also spotted a grass snake swimming on a pond, and tried to get a clear shot, but that would have meant changing lenses and I might have lost sight of it. So I made do with some distant shots. I watched a male Broad Bodied Chaser fly round the pond for ages, but it never settled and so decided to leave without the shot I had wanted. Always another time....

Man Orchid at Monkton

One thing about being away is not having to do the weekly shop, so after a break of a month I found my way in Tesco, and as usual lost patience after about ten minutes, threw some stuff in the trolley and headed for the check outs.

Swimming Grass Snake at Monkton


And working from home. And I got stuff done, including what seemed like a two week conference call on the state of the NCRs on the project. It went on and on and on. At least the afternoon was made bearable by being able to listen to Kermode and Mayo on radio 5 as they discussed the week's movie releases. At four I turned the laptop and phone off switched to Lammo's last show of the week on Radio 6 and danced around the living room to celebrate the weekend.

Southern Marsh Orchid I also edited what seemed like hindreds of church pictures. I have been busy snapping away since the beginning of May, and now with the obsession with orchids I have hundreds of shots to process and post. So, on Friday I posted 67 shots of various churches in Kent and Suffolk, and would have to do again over the weekend as I had more train and probably more orchid shots to take......

At least it keeps me off the streets.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Thursday 6th June 2013


Monday, and yet something wrong. I am not on a train heading to Stratford, the first leg of my commute to Esbjerg. No, instead i have a week. No, make that two weeks at home, and so to celebrate I am working Monday at home to really have a splendid day.

I do not more nor less work when at home, but I am at home. Cats wander past me as I type, birds sing outside, and it is generally not Denmark. And at four I pack up and do not have to back to a hotel room, instead wait for Jools to come home, and then have a coffee sitting outside on the patio.



Tuesday I actually go into the office in Ramsgate, and was greeted with ironic cheers and questions like 'who the heck are you' and 'do you still work here?'. And so the day begins. Outside the barge with which they are hoping to lift a German bomber from the Goodwin Sands is tied up because of the high winds. And the day passes slowly.


And so a day off! A day off, I hear you exclaim. Well, it is high orchid season here in Kent and i booked to go on a tour of the prime sites with a guy from the Sandwich Bay bird place, and as it turned out, we had wonderful weather forecast. So, why not?

Why not indeed?

Common Blue

So, I drop Jools off at work as normal, but then head home for breakfast, so I can be on the road before eight and so miss the worse of the school traffic. I head to Deal, then through the gold course to the Bay, and find the centre open so I can look round and see about joining, as it can cost £7 to get into the Bay. You see the estate, Sandwich Bay is owned by a minor royal or something and non-residents have to pay to enter the Bay. Members of the Bird Observatory get a pass. So, it might pay to join......

Man Orchid Aceras anthropophorum

At just gone nine we set off on our orchid safari, with the first stop being Kingsdown to see the small collection of Early Spider Orchids they have. I already have snapped them so did not take a shot, except of a lone blue butterfly, clinging to a blade of grass in the breeze.

Man Orchid Aceras anthropophorum

Next was to the downs above Dover to see the Man Orchids. They are growing about 2m from a main road, which is about right for orchids. But there is a rich collection there and we all snap away merrily. I am sure passing motorists must wonder what we were doing on our hands and knees.....

Bird's-nest Orchid Neottia nidus-arvis

A quick blast along to a small wood just off the A2 to see the Birds Nest Orchids: not the prettiest orchid in the word, and as they grown in the heart of the wood, tricky to snap, but I use fill in flash and get some shots. And it is off again, this time to see the Monkeys.

Bird's-nest Orchid Neottia nidus-arvis

Monkey Orchids of course.

Monkey orchid Orchis simia

I know the site well of course, so it was the chance to snap them ore open than on Sunday, and indeed they were and many more about to open. I also sap a Green Hairstreak which I chase whilst the others head to the cars for lunch. Oh yes, the others. I was the youngest there, as the trio I was travelling with were all over 80, our guide and his friend over 60. And they all lasted the pace, and I could not be the only one to complain about all the walking!

Monkey orchid Orchis simia

We eat in a lay by in the shelter of a wood, whilst Orange tips tease me by fluttering by and not settling, letting the sunlight catch their bright wingtips. Next year, perhaps.....

Common Spotted-orchid Dactylorhiza fuchsii

We set off for the bank to see the Fly Orchids, but we had seen a single along with the Monkeys at the last place. I take a few of the one beside the bench and snap a Brown Argus in the meadow too, trying not to step on the Comon spotted Orchid spears which are beginning to show. It is fine to walk in the woods, and the two white orchids I had spotted on previous vsits turned out to be Greater Butterfly orchids, both almost out, but not quite.

Fly Orchid Ophrys insectifera

Our last stop was at the big wood, where the Duke of Burgundys are. I am coy about locations because many orchids have been dug up by idiots who think they will grown in their garden. Well, they won't but i don't suppose something like science and/or nature will deter them.

Lady Orchid Orchis purpurea

The display of Lady Orchids is huge, and the orchids themselves are impressively big too. And they are everywhere. I snap many as their colour variation is huge too, going from purple to white. We see another fly and a White Helleborine which was a treat.

White Helleborine Cephalanthera damasonium

As the buzzards circled overhead, the afternoon grew hot, and so we made our way back to the cars and then to Sandwich for one final visit to the beach and a look at the Green Winged Orchids and to see where the huge Lizard Orchids will be in a month's time. Wow. What a day, I have not counted the species, along with the ones mentioned about we also saw Common Spotted Orchids and Common Twayblades which either were not out yet or I have already snapped them. So, a great day, and time then to head for home and a pint and cook dinner.

Greater Butterfly Orchid Platanthera chlorantha


Green-winged Orchid Orchis morio