Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Wednesday 31st July 2013


And settling back into the old routine of working at Ramsgate. Always amazed at the dreadful state of the driving abilities of drivers round here. It is always a relief to turn down the road to the harbour, as there are no ferries running from Ramsgate now, I am usually on the road on my own.

Anyway, so work goes on.

At the end of day, I went back to dover, picked up Jools and whilst she got ready for yoga, I got ready and went back on the cross trainer. I selected a good choice of music and drew a big deep breath and climbed on. Phew. The first session over, I could head outside to cool down, sorrounded by various cats to draw breath, and get ready for Jools' return laden, as she would be, with fish and chips.


Today marked the start of the new phase in my working life. I can't go into too many details about the meeting, as it has commercial implications, but the huge responsibilities I will be taking on came home into the vast empty spaces between my ears. Oh yes, it is big, expensive and scary. And I am in charge. Be scared. Very scared.

After work, I went to pick up Jools from work and then we went to the National Trust's place on the white cliffs to look for some Chalkhill Blues. We dodged the French and Belgian tourists who were getting to grips with the narrow parking spaces, we headed to the top car park, and set out for butterflies.

Chalkhill Blue  Lysandra coridon

We did see many fying about, and in the breeze and weak sunshine, many were sunning themselves, almost perfect conditions to snap butterflies. So, I got my shots, although there were none mating. It was good to get shots of them from all angles.

Chalkhill Blue  Lysandra coridon

We went back home, and then, I girded my loins and went on the cross trainer again. Another session, this one much hotter than the day before. But, I did it, and went back outside to cool down again, although in the weak sunshine it wasn't that cool.

I spent the evening writing the Kentish churches we have visited over the past four years into a notebook, as we have now done so many, future visits will have to be planned like a military operation, although with less collateral damage one hopes.

See you next month.....

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Tuesday 30th July 2013


OK, the alarm going off at five-forty five wasn’t welcome or pleasant. We got up, had breakfast and made sandwiches before it was time to leave. I dropped Jools off at the factory before heading back out of town and onto the road to Sandwich and then on to Ramsgate. There was no finer way to start the day, well, other than having a bucks fizz and smoked salmon breakfast on the poop deck of my private yacht. That would be a fine way to start the day. Any day, really.

So, dodging the dreadful drivers, ignoring the speed limit only when it annoys the bloke behind me in the tunnel to the port. Always great to crawl down there at 30mph whilst the bloke behind revs his engine to buggery. Whatever it takes you to get through the day, really.

And the thrill of finding that someone has reorganised my desk, altered the controls on the chair and thrown my water bottle out. The novelty soon wore off. Although, the view of the sunshine beating down on the harbour outside made me long for the time when I could switch the computer off and go home.

And so the day crept by, and four o’clock rolled round and it was time to head home to pick Jools up again. Now, I see in my previous year’s blogs that four years ago I was about to start at the box factory as a QC inspector working for my sister-in-law. And four years ago Norwich were about to begin their first season in the 3rd division for 49 years. And so in those four short years, I have now a job as a Project Quality Manager job and City are preparing for their third season in the Prem. Who’d have thought it?

I have been told by my boss that I can stay in the UK for all of this week, and all of next week, and probably all of the week after too. I cannot describe how good it is to head home after work, make a cup of coffee and sit on the patio whilst the cats mill around us demanding to be fed. And then time for something to eat, and it means cooking rather than pondering how hungry I am and whether to have the standard or large portion of ribs at Bones.

Anyway, Tuesday sees the cross-trainer dusted down and me pumping some lard once again. Oh joy.

Monday, 29 July 2013

Monday 29th July 2013


Thanks to my months of travelling, I don’t have to venture to Tesco very often. But, as I put the trip off on Friday, as we had run out of milk and most food, there was no way getting away from the fact: we had to go shopping. So, after coffee we headed out, and as I walked into the store, I was asked if I wanted to try the new scan and shop. So, why not? I was given a hand held scanner, and told shop as normal, pack as you go and then pay at the end. So I did, and it seemed to be OK, many folks asked what we were doing as we scanned our way down the shopping list. I guess it must have saved a good ten minutes off the whole shopping trip. Once we had finished, I went to pay, some items were checked, and we were trusted that we had scanned everything and allowed to leave after paying.

I guess it was after so many weeks of travelling and orchid hunting, that when it came down to it, what we really wanted to do on Saturday is lounge around, do some gardening, beading, listen to the radio and mess around with photography. The day passed quickly. I had made a limoncello and grappa tart on Thursday, and so we had a big slice of that each and a coffee whilst sitting on the patio surrounded by various cats.

I cooked steak for dinner, and Jools went to the chippy to save me cooking those. Once we had eaten, we stood at the back door as clouds thickened and the rain began to fall. Thunder rolled around and lightning flashed. Cats scurried for cover, and day became night. All rather exciting I have to say.


Take a walk on the wild side

It has been some time since we walked to the cliffs from our house. The rain and storms had cleared, but the wall to wall sunshine that the Met Office promised failed to materialise. But, with a cold breeze blowing and clouds hurrying across the sky meant we would not get too hot. The fields are full of almost ripe crops, swaying in the breeze. We walked to the glade, but saw no butterflies other than a couple of Meadow Browns, so we walked on and turned down the track into the valley. At the bottom, sometimes rain water collects, and can be muddy. And indeed it was. There is a path t the side, but I thought I could pick out a path through the puddles.

I mis-stepped

I am not sure what happened, but as I put my foot down, it slipped down into a puddle. I tried to regain my footing, but each time I slipped more and more. I was also falling forwards and after one last step I seemed to throw myself forward, instinctively holding my camera out so it would not hit the ground, I headbutted a low bank, forcing my glasses off, and finally knocked my shin against something which made it smart.

I lay face down in the mud, camera held high, waiting for my body to report in as to what would begin to start hurting. Just my shin and my pride reported in, and so I got to my feet to see that my front was covered in mud, my clean clothes caked in light brown dirt and mud. I thought I could go on, and so we went up the other side of the dip, along the cycle path and over the fields edging nearer the cliff edge all the time.

Intermittent  sunshine

In the shelter of a hedge near the cliffs, there were dozens of butterflies; Meadow Browns, Small Heaths, Large Whites, Commas, and Ringlets. I snapped a few and we moved on. Once we reached the cliff edge, the wind was quite strong, but it always a thrill to get right to the edge and look down at the beach below.


We turned for home, and retraced our steps, with the exception of me going through the puddles: I took the path beside the road and did not slip over. Once home we had the final slice of Limoncello and Grappa Tart and a refreshing cup of fresh coffee.

Gatekeeper Pyronia tithonus

For the rest of the day, it kind of followed the pattern of Saturday: we had cheese and crackers for lunch, washed down with a glass of red wine for me. Outside the sun came and went, but was warm enough to sit in the garden and catch up on some reading for me. As the sun slipped towards the horizon, it got darker, and the remaining hours of the weekend slipped through our fingers.

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Saturday 27th July 2013


It says here, this year's prince is born.

And so said Sir William of Bragg some 30 years ago when Diana popped William out. This week William himself became a father, after something like nine months ago, in the words of Luck and Flaw, he learned how to play Mr Wobbley Hides his Helmet!

So, for the past two weeks, many of the world's major media organisations have been camped outside a hospital in central London for news of the royal birth. Last weekend Kate, sorry Princess Kate went to Reading, as a lot of English pregnant women do, as it reduces the swelling.


Now, I was in Denmark, so followed the story via the medium of Twitter. I gathered the media went a little stupid at ties. Sorry, all the time. Here are some of the quotes that paid media types spoke live on air:

“Plenty more to come here from us. None of it news” — BBC’s Simon McCoy

“All I can safely say is that it will be either a boy or a girl” — BBC’s Peter Hunt

"Will the Baby affect the stock market?" I hear you not asking. Here's a chart that won't help.

How "royal" will the royal baby be? #C4news has been finding out...

What could the #RoyalBaby's first words be? Author Gyles Brandreth tells @lbc973 what he thinks:

“I asked how many centimetres … but they said it’s not the kind of info they give out” — Sky News’ Kay Burley

I could go on, but you get the idea. This is what happens when 24 hour rolling news meets Mother nature and the royal when in labour. The Daily Mail complained about the BBC's blanket coverage whilst not noticing it had dedicated something like 24 pages to the royal delivery.

At least the baby gave the satirical shows something to talk about and makes jokes about. Which seems to have been the main positive outcome of the whole event. Googleing Prince George quotes brings up mostly Blackadder quotes, which is not a bad thing, and as mentioned above, Prince George has not actually spoken as yet, this has been suggested this is due to the silver spoon in his mouth, sorry, whole set of six silver spoons in his mouth.

The other thing occuplying the BBC this week is that is is 365 days since the Olympic Games began in Stratford. And reading my blog for the day, it is hard to remember how laid back Jools and I were about it. We went out for a meal before hand, and switched on the opening ceremony not expecting much other than the every competitor marching past. And although that did happen, and take a long time to happen, but the ceremony itself set the tone for what was a wonderful two weeks.

I travel through, well under, the Olympic Park most weeks, and although not much seems to have happened, I'm sure lots of work has been going on, workers have been going in each morning. The temporary stands around the waterports centre have been taken down, and the Orbit is open again, and I guess the queues will be somewhat less this year.


In the evening I went with Gary to Westbere lakes near Canterbury to look for a dragonfly. You see not any old dragonfly was good enough for us, we were looking for a rare one which we know have been breeding there. the Norfolk Hawker is, as you can guess, is mostly only found in Norfolk, but some have been seen in Cambridge, and it appears a pair bred in Kent last year and produced at least one new Norfolk Hawker for this year.

We walked around and saw some brown dragonflies, we guess most were Brown Harwkers, a more common variety, but larger than the Norfolk. We did see plenty of Banded Demoiselles, and other lesser types, and manaed to snap some of them too.

Banded Demoiselle Calopteryx splendens (f)

We met up with another flickr snapper, and we walked around the lakes, eyes sharpened looking for a slightly smaller borwn dragonfly in case we could get a shot of it. We didn't. However, it was great to just walk around looking for things to snap, and not be thinking about the trip to denmark in the morning. As it would appear I have no trip to DK booked for the foreseeable future, but I know will have to be there for the 2nd week of August, butfor now, let's just enjoy being at home not packing or travelling either direct or through naughty Amsterdam.

After leaving Westbere we headed to East Blean to snap the White Admirals, before the light failed and it was time to head home and watch a Springwatch special. On butterflies. Yay!

White Admiral  Limenitis camilla

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Thursday 25th July 2013


In all honesty, six hours sleep is not enough, especially coming after spending over half on Sunday travelling. But, there was work to be done, so I jump out of bed, grab a shower and get ready for work. I meet Graham for breakfast, and we discuss the upcoming audit and how to tackle it. We set off for the head office at eight, and find the place pretty empty as Denmark seems to think it is a right to take at least two weeks off in July. I won’t say any more on the subject, but it is frustrating that so many are allowed to just take time off.

So, at ten we meet up with the auditee and crack on with it. All went well as we asked our probing questions and he batted them away. And on and on it went. Until we reached the end of our questions and we wrapped up. Phew. There goes another nine hours.

Arhus Marina

We headed back to the hotel, and Graham suggested we head to the marina as there are some good places to eat there. I wasn’t convinced, but agreed, so I met him in the lobby half an hour later, and we set off in his car in search of dinner. We find our way and there is plenty of free parking, so we get out and head to the waterside, where it a scene from a holiday brochure. All yachts and boats moored up alongside a wooden pier, with the sun shining from a clear sky above, and it was hot, darn hot. So we walked round the marina to a restaurant called ‘Seafood’ which served seafood.

Arhus Marina

We got a table and ordered tiger prawns followed by baked cod. It was all rather wonderful, as well as the fine food, we could people watch as the Danes in all their holiday ‘finery’ sauntered by, mostly licking a huge ice cream bought from the kiosk opposite. The food was excellent, as was the service, and after eating the main course we were not encouraged to pay and leave. So we ordered cheese and crackers, and people watched some more.

Grilled Tiger Prawns at 'Seafood', Arhus Marina

After eating we wandered around some more, taking in the scenes as the evening turned towards night and the sun went down and the colour darkened and the shadows lengthened. I took loads of shots, some of which were OK, some not so, but that’s life.

Two worlds

At half ten we made our way back to the hotel and so ended another fine day in the go ahead world of wind power.

Tuesday. Due to the fact that the audit for Tuesday had been postponed, all I had to do was pack, have breakfast, check out and then drive to Esbjerg. Not a pleasant thin in a VW Up!, but then again, despite its tiny engine and small size it was quiet, economical and spacy enough for me.

The office is as it always is, albeit, mostly empty due to the holiday season. I get a desk and crack on with work. And that’s how the day passed, with just regular breaks for coffee. At five I head back to the Britannia to check in and relax, as I seemed to have lost several hours of sleep in the previous few days. I snooze listening to The Infinite Monkey Cage on the radio, before at half seven I meet up with Gary again, and we head to Bones for a huge plate of ribs.


I wake up at just gone seven with the sunshine streaming in through the gap in the curtains. I pack, check out and have breakfast befre heading to the office for three hard hours of work! And as I am travelling through Amsterdam again, my flight leaves at 14:20, so I have to leave at 11 at the latest to be there in time to check in.


I was thinking the airport would be crowded, but it seems flights only begin in the afternoon, and it is only just filling up. So I head to the gastrobar for a sandwich and a half litre of Hoegaarden and watch the world go by down below in the departure hall.


We board the flight, on a Boeing something, over a 100 seats, and soon are lifting off into the clear blue sky. The flight is just long enough for the cabin crew to serve a round of drinks before we are coming down at Amsterdam and its time to get off and find where the flight to London is leaving from.


Schiphol is a well designed airport, all gates seem to be within a 15 minute walk and so well signposted, it seems impossible to get lost. I wander around taking shots, then spy an Irish bar so call in for a pint of Murphy’s before settling dwon at the gate for boarding time.


Another 40 minute flight, with the crew running down the plane throwing drinks at the passengers. I snooze instead. I wake up as we are flying up the Thames towards London: over the Dartford crossing and lower, lower, over the prison, back over the river and down back on the sweet embracing ground.

I have time to not be bothered about racing to catch a train, as I knew I would not make the five twenty one, so I get my case, which as I wasn’t in a hurry was the first one off. The up to the DLR, and along to Stratford where I have time to get an iced coffee before heading down on the platform to wait for the train to Dover. A couple of Eurostars thunder by, leaving clouds of dust and trash in the air.

An hour later I was at Dover, Jools was waiting and so we went home for dinner on the patio and watch the sun go down.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Wednesday 24th July 2013


After what seems like weeks and weeks of endless sunshine, it came something of a shock to see the forecast for clouds and mist actually be accurate for Saturday. And so, in something of a change, the day became one for relaxing. I have a stack of photos still to sort through, and Jools has beading, and then there is the garden.

And so, we managed to while the day away until in the afternoon, the sun began to shine, and we could sit out in the back garden in the watery sunshine. My friend, Shelly, in Denmark had supplied me with a bag of Danish candy to bring back, and so we had regular breaks from our doing nothing. Out in the wide world of sport, Chris Froome maintained his lead of Le Tour into the final stage which was to be completed on Sunday evening: England were bashing the Aussies at Lords and coming after Andy Murray winning Wimbledon, it seems British sport can do no wrong, but then as the footballs season comes rushing towards us, it reminds us of the repeated failures of our teams from all British countries at all levels.

It seems bad to have spent all of Saturday busy doing nothing, as on Sunday I had to travel to Denmark for work, thus cutting my weekend by a third, and reducing the time on Sunday I could be out snapping. But, as we rounded off the day with battered sausage and chips from the chippy and a two our Time Team special on the palaces of Henry VIII followed by Carol Vorderman’s ‘Who Do You Think You Are’, and very good it was too. So, after all the excitement of the day, we headed to bed.


And where was the sun the Met Office promised us? What this this fog I see before me? It’s fog, Ian!

Marbled White  Melanargia galathea

Oh yeah.

So, we give it a couple of hours for the mist to clear, and then we head out for Temple Ewell on yet another butterfly hunt. Yes, now the late Spring orchids have stopped, it is time to revert to butterflies. And in my sights this time were Chalkhill Blues, as the Adonis had finished. So, we thought we would go.

Chalkhill Blue  Lysandra coridon

Writing that, I must be honest and say that instead of ‘we’ I should have written I. I thought we should go to Temple Ewell Down, and then, maybe, to the cliffs to see if they were there. By the time we got to the car park, the mist had lifted and the sun was breaking through the cloud. I grabbed my camera and we headed up the path, dodging the nettles and dog’s eggs.

Chalkhill Blue  Lysandra coridon

Once into the sunshine of the meadows above the tree line, we saw nothing flying. But as we walked through the long grass we bagan to see plenty of Marbled Whites, Marbled Bowns and Small Skippers. And then Jools saw a flash of blue, and sunning itself on a leaf was a Chalkhill straight ‘out of the wrapper’ as it were, looking so wonderfully new and perfect. It was one of about a dozen we saw as we climbed higher until we were within a hundred yards of the A2.

We sat down to taken in the view of the valley below us, the houses along Old London Road hardly visible, making it seem wonderfully rural. The sun really broke through, casting the church and school below in warm sunshine. Dog walkers passed us by, whilst behind us traffic headed to and from Dover.

We headed back down, seeing many more blues, all of them Chalkhills, and some feasting on dog poo, as they need the minerals it contains, and so we leave them to breakfast.

In the distance I see a guy in the long grass, apparently with a dog on a lead. As we get nearer I see a flash of golden brown as something investigated the noise we were making through the grass. I asked the man what he had, expecting him to say a puppy as it was clearly small. Turned out to be a Bengal Cat, a hybrid with a wild animal from the far east, looking like a domestic cat, but in fact a fierce wild animal. And he has the most wonderful markings.

Bengal Cat

He is interested in us, and lets us stroke him, but is aware all the time of the wildlife and movement around him. A dog was threatened as we watched. But the lead and harness held him back. We left the cat and owner and headed down to the car. I had three hours left before it was time to leave, so we headed back for coffee and lunch.

I pack, grab a shower and was ready to go. One on a Sunday afternoon seemed way too early to be going to work! I caught the quarter to two train, and am in the airport by half three, but the KLM desk refused to check in my bags until two hours before flight time. So I click my heels for twenty minutes before they take my bags and I can go to security.

Due to Danish holiday season, flights have changed, and so there are no direct BA flights, so I have to fly KLM and go via Amsterdam. So, I have new check in procedure, and now a flight on a ‘proper’ plane with, like a hundred seats and stuff. So, I have time for dinner; just a salad and some bread, but nice enough. And I sit down to read a book I picked up from our shelves ‘Tales from The Strand’ a collection of short stories from the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries.

Time soon goes, and its time to board and head out to naughty Amsertdam.

It is just a short hop, and soon we are coming down to land again. All I have to do is get to the departure gate for the flight to Billund. It is like 10 miles to the gate, and in the way was immigration. So, I have to queue up to have my bag scanned. Again. And my passport inspected, although I do not really go into Holland. Once through, I walk to the gate, and find the free wi-fi and so check mails, the cricket score and whether Froome did, indeed, win Le Tour. England skittled to Aussies out in less than three sessions and so win the second test and go 2-0 up with three to go. And with seven laps of Paris to go, Froome is still leading: indeed Tour etiquette means the leader going into the last day will win. So, it is a glorious day for another British Le Tour winner.

I do feel sad about not watching one minute of it this year, but there really been no time to do so. Does not mean I don’t care, and have not followed it by Twitter and the BBC sports website.

The flight to Billund was rammed. And there was me thinking there would be about a dozen of us on it. I mean who wants to fly to Billund at 21:45 on a Sunday evening? Everyone, apparently.

I get my case, and go to collect my car keys and walk out to the car park to find that I had been given a VW Up. A tiny car with a lawnmower engine that was so noisy hammering up the motorway at 120kmh. Still, I got to the hotel, got the security guard to open the gate. I park up, check in and ask about food, can I have some sandwiches? No, all the ones for that day went out of date 5 minutes ago: would you like one for free?

And so ended my long Sunday….

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Saturday 20th July 2013


due to my late arrival back at Chez Jelltex the night before, we switched off the alarm to allow something akin to a lay-in to take place. In the end I think we were up before six-fifteen. We got ready for work, I dropped Jools off at the lFB and I headed to Ramsgate, the first time I have ckmmuted there in over a month.

In the office I had to tell folks about the promotion, and they told me that due to the extra staff being taken on I would be losing my desk. Oh well. Plus la change!

I caught up on my mails, and did my expenses, or three weeks out of the four and crunched some numbers. And at one fifteen the second 'oh fuck it' moment of the week happened and I switched the computer off and headed for the door. I think that with my weekend finishing at about three on Sunday afternoon, an early stack was well deserved.

I had looked at the weather, and cloud with a stiff breeze forecasted for Saturday. So, having seen some shots of White Admirals as East Blean, that's where I headed. A quick blast along the Thanet Way to Herne Hill, turned off onto the Canterbury road, and off that into the woodland along the single track road to the car park.

White Admiral  Limenitis camilla

Once parked up, I see I was beside another photographer who was having a quick bite to eat, his gear on the passenger seat beside him. 'Any luck?' I ask. 'What with the Admiral? Yeah, lots of shots, he keeps going back to the same tree'. And he shows me where the tree is, a few feet from where the Heath Fritillaries were seen last year. And speaking of which, the air was full of them aain, many more than the four or so we saw last year.

we waited a few minutes and then we saw the flash of black and white as the White Admiral glided into view, circled the tree a couple of times before settling. We got shots, and as he repeated this over and over again, sometimes we got closer, sometimes not. After an hour I thought I had the shots so packed up to go and collect Jools from work, so we could head home to sip coffee on the patio.

Heath Fritillary  Melitaea athalia

That evening we headed to Jools' bother's place for a BBQ, as his daughter was on a flying visit with her boyfriend, and they are due to fly back to Aus in the middle of the week, so it was a chance for the rest of us to say hi and goodbye.

It was a glorious evening, and we sipped beers and munched burgers and bangers until it started to get dark, at which point we headed back to the house for a whisky on the patio before bedtime.

Friday, 19 July 2013

Friday 19th July 2013


I guess I could go into detail about what happened in work on Wednesday and Thursday, but if I did that for every day at the office, this blog would soon get dull. Or duller.

I was in work at half seven and after yet more coffee got down to work, crunching numbers as data does not analysis itself you know. Outside the clouds had cleared, and the sun beat down on Esbjerg. At the dock the installation vessel for our next project was being loaded, so I went out in the afternoon to take some shots for use later on for work. Oh, I just happen to have some to show you here too.

After work, I headed back to the hotel to only power the computer up again so I could check in for the flight for Thursday, so I could get a window seat on the starboard side so I could snap central London as we turn onto final approach. Later whilst we were waiting for our food at Dronning Louise, I tell Gary this. He asks how can I be sure that the plane will approach from the west. Oh, I reply without thinking, I have checked the BBC website and it will be from the west. Instantly realising myself revealed as a freak interested only in photography.

Now, that may be the truth, but some things don’t need to be shared with work colleagues.

We were sitting outside Dronning Louise in the evening sunshine. They had put up huge umbrellas, and underneath lit patio warmers. And in addition, blankets were placed on each chair lest the patrons feel the chill. I looked round at all these burly Scandic men, wrapped in blankets shivering and wondered could these really be the descendants of the Vikings? I sat in jeans and t shirt and was warm enough. And as soon as I bit into the chilli burger I warmed up even more.

It may not surprise you to learn that we went to Paddy’s afterwards for a couple of pints of Kilkenny and watch the Celtic game on TV. It was a nice end to the day.


I woke up at seven ten, and decided to lay in bed some more, listening to the world outside my window waking up. That required some more laying in bed to be done.

I got up, packed, went down to reception and checked out. 5 minutes later I was in work, and hitting the coffee. Man, I could have laid there all day. And so I raced to complete all tasks before it was time to head to the airport. Turns out the ‘oh fuck it’ moment was twenty past one, when I closed the computer down and bid my friends farewell and made for the car and the long journey home.

Grene Kirke, Billund Kommune, Denmark

It was a glorious day, unbroken sunshine with a gentle breeze. I drove to Billund, and thought I would try to find the local church. I failed to find Billund kirke, but I did see signs to a different church: Grene Kirke. I headed down a leafy lane to a small village, the church stood in a well kept churchyard. I parked up, took some shots outside, tried the door and finding it unlocked, I go inside to snap it.

Grene Kirke, Billund Kommune, Denmark

Happy with the results, I headed back to the car and then to the airport. I drive past Legoland, and it would appear that the half of Denmark not laying beside a pool in Spain are here, and it looks busy but fun.

In the airport I grab a snack and crack on with The Drowned World, and as I really don’t like it, just want to finish it and get it over with. Once my flight is called, I have a dozen pages to go, so I save them for the flight. Turns out the flight is only a third full, with just 12 passengers, so we sit wherever we want. I have the seat I booked, and happy with that settle down for the flight and the cruise over London to come.


Just as planned, we dropped from cruising altitude along the Essex coast, crossed the Thames and flew over Ebbsfleet, Bluewater and south east London, before turning, a little earlier than I wanted, as once we reached the river we turned again over Tower Bridge and dropped lower as we neared the Isle of Dogs and the airport.

Ebbsfleet International

A short wait at immigration, and I have 40 minutes to get to Ashford for the train, which I make easily and have enough time to call in the coffee shop on the station for an iced coffee which I drink on the platform. Nice.

The Great Getaway

I get a seat in the front coach and flick through the pages of a discarded Evening Standard as we zip through Essex , under the Thames and into Kent. Jools was waiting at Dover, and we headed home. Wisps of mist blew in from the sea, and on the patio it was nice and cool as we sipped a hot drink. For me it was a pint of tea as the small dinner cooked away in the kitchen.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Thursday 18th July 2013


As this is the second week of three during which I will be travelling to Denmark, but this week I did not have to fly out until the evening, so I get to work from home during the day before having to head to the station and onwards to London and the airport.

GWUK #813 Chelmsford

Life with cats seem to be settling down, with Mulder being the happiest with cat #4, aka Bowie, being in the house. Molly being Queen B is not going to let him get in the way of her favourite sleeping places or dinner. So she is pretty OK with it now. That just leaves Scully who will only enter the house to eat before scampering out again. But day on day, things are getting better, and hopefully soon enough each will have a bed, or place to sleep and escape to.

GWUK #814 Weston Homes Community Stadium, Colchester

So, outside the sun beat down on our garden and the south east in general. Jools picks me up at three and we head to the station, and so begins the long trip to Arhus. Yes, a change in destination as I should have been doing an audit on Tuesday, but that was postponed, too late to change or cancel my travel.

Ipswich from the air

Kent and south Essex is a fine sight at the height of summer, all is green and in flower, crops are ripening, and it all looks very wonderful to look at. London was surprisingly quiet, so I made my way onto the DLR and onto the airport. I check in and go through security then grab a burger from the small restaurant whilst I watch the news headlines on the large screen TV. It is all so normal for me, I really don’t think to much about it, but this life can be quite amazing.

We are late taking off, but not by much, and we are soon soaring into the evening skies. I get some fine shots as we fly along the A12 of Chelmsford, Colchester and Ipswich. And as we head out to sea over Sizewell, I am treated to a fine view of all of east Suffolk and Norfolk. I take many shots, most of which come out.

At the airport I am given a Golf Plus for the week, and I program the sat nav and head up to Arhus in the deepening gloom in what counts as night in these northern climes.

I find the hotel, and like I expected the kitchens had long since closed for the night, so there was nothing to do other than head to my room, grab a shower and head to bed.

Tuesday. I pack my stuff and head down to the lobby for breakfast and to check out, only to discover two busloads of Dutch OAPs there, all milling around dragging their cases behind them, generally taking up space. I look in the breakfast bar and see more of them, so I decide to skip breakfast and go to work. Work is our head office, and is just a short drive away.

I park up and am relieved to find that my swipe card now works and I am granted entry to our office, only to find just about everyone on holiday and just three others already at their desks. My old/new boss, I know I et confused now, is on holiday, so no meetings with her. I set up at an emprty desk and after a couple of cups of coffee I start work.

After a conference, I pack my computer away and head out to the car for the drive down to Esbjerg where yet another meeting awaits. Driving down the motorway in unbroken sunshine was really wonderful, and being in a brand new car, that a day before had just 7km on the clock was a joy. Sadly, all too soon I arrived at the port and it was time to get back to work and earn my crust for the day.

After checking into another hotel, I meet Gary at half seven and we head to Bones for a meal. And as I had not had ribs for several weeks now, I felt it was time to right that wrong. And very pleasant it was too, a huge plate of ribs, salad and a large glass of ice cold Danish Beer. Not bad day, all in all.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Monday 15th July 2013


Another glorious morning in this fine month meant that we should head out and do something. As you know, I have become a little orchid obsessed this year, and I found out via some of my contacts that there is yet another summer orchid to be found nearby. The Marsh Heleborine is a fine plant, and is found in marshy, coastal and chalky areas. All of which really points to East Kent.

I found out from one of my online friends that Sandwich Bay has a fine collection, so after breakfast we set off for Deal and then along the coast road, through the golf course to the Sandwich Bay estate. The idea that huge areas of land can be made private and entry controlled and a toll charged goes against all my values, and so it is always gratifying to go to the Bay to find the toll house unoccupied and so entrance is free.

Marsh Helleborine Epipactis palustris

We part at the bird observatory, and I go to try to join, as we use it quite a lot now, only to be told to wait until the end of August when we get 15 months instead of what would now be 5. So I made a fiver donation, get the directions for the meadow, and we set off over the road, into the meadow.

Marsh Helleborine Epipactis palustris

We walk along the tree line as directed, and find a meadow, but it is orchid free. We continue, amazed by all the butterflies active, most ore Marbled Whites, which are a delight this time of year. Then I see the tape which we were told marked where the orchids would be, and sure enough there were orchids everywhere. Quite incredible how to us, the conditions looked the same as where we had just walked, but for the orchids, clearly, this was just right.

Marsh Helleborine Epipactis palustris

Some old Southern Marsh Orchids were going over, but in amongst them were hundreds of spikes of Marsh Heleborines. We got down to some photography, snapping away. Satisfied with what we got, we head back, snapping butterflies and moths as we go. Back to the car and then home.

Overhead, cloud rolls over, taking the heat out of the day, but by lunchtime that has burned off and the sun beats down from a clear blue sky.

After lunch we go and visit our friends in River, Gary and Julie, and sit in the garden whilst we talk about photography, birds, insects and the suchlike.

I wrote to my boss in the evening to tell him I accept the promotion, and so once again my job titel will change as will my roles and responsibilities. 4th time this year, I believe. Oh well.

Given the choice to watch some interesting stuff on TV in the evening, or sit outside on the patio and watch dusk fall again, we chose the dusk/patio option. And so another evening spend watching the shadows lengthen and the colours fade and turn to black. I sat in the dark and sipped a wee dram, whilst all around us the air was filled with moths.

Sunday 14th July 2013


And even more so than on a morning when I would be heading home, I was in a good mood. Although, good mood doesn't really cover it. I was boyant to be honest: the prospect of promotion, going home, a weeked of photography. All seems togood to be true.

But it is.

I packed my stuff, had breakfast and checked out of the hotel drove the 5 minutes to the office and settled down toa morning of data analysis. And somehow the day slipped by and soon two o'clock crept round, and it was time to pack up and leave for the airport.

I bid farewell to those still in the office, and made my way to the car. Even the thought of driving the A3 the 45 minutes to the airport was a thrill. I found radio 5 on the entertainment system, and zoomed away leaving the dust and stones from the car park in the air. I really shouldn't let my inner child drive that often.

By the time i got to the airport, it had clouded over and so I thought that I would not bother to take my camera on the plane, rather leave it in my bag. Reember, I made that mistake before and regretted it. And so this week too, as the skies cleared as we neared London, and we headed round south London until turning over Crystal Palace and Battersea before descending as we flew along the river. The views of the city were amazing. You'll have to take my word for it.

There was the usual crazy queues at immigration, but I guess the wait was just ten minutes or so, and I grabbed my case and had 30 minutes to get to Stratford if I was going to catch the 20 past seven train and have an extra hour at home before bed.

I was convinced I was going to miss it by about 5 minutes, but in the end I was on the patform with about three minutes to spare, and once it pulled in, I got a seat in the front coach and could relax and watch the countryside slip by once we got back overground at Daggenham. At Thurrock, the bridge was jammed, but we cruised by at 100mph or so, jsut the way it should be. And all the way through Kent beside the M20 we left the traffic for standing as the shadows lengthened and the summer colours turned to gold.


I laid in bed, just savouring the sounds of a morning in the garden of England; birds singing mainly, but it was wonderful as a gentle breeze ruffled the curtains revealing a wonderful summer day outside, with the promise of it getting too hot later for anything other than a snooze in the shade of a tree.

Common Darter Sympetrum striolatum (f)

we had to get to Faversham to meet a Flickr friend of mine, as we planned to head to Sheppey for some insect shots, and to show Will the church at Harty. So, we headed up the almost empty A2 to Canterbury then up to Faversham, early enough for me to snap the station from the footbridge.

Common Darter Sympetrum striolatum (m)

Will arrived and we headed out to Swale, with the temperatures already high enough to make having the windows wound down. Man, it was hot.

We stopped off at Swale to snap the two bridges onto the island, and what a fine sight they made with the new one towering over and around us, and all around were a cloud of insects, bugs, butterflies and dragonflies. I snapped some of the Common Daters and a few of the Small Skippers, before we got back in the car and headed onto Sheppy.

Small skipper Thymelicus sylvestris

It is just a short drive of 20 minutes before we turn of the road to Leybourne and head off across the marshes to Harty. We stop off at the raptor viewing point, but the only ones we see are miles away, turning tight circles on a thermal. We drive on to the church.

The Isle of Sheppey Bridge and the Kingsferry Bridge, Swale, Kent

Will had not been to the church before, and as it always a pleasure to visit the church, finding it open we go in to find the flower festival is on and there were flowers everywhere. It really did look glorious. Back outside we walk down to the nature reserve in search of dragonflies. Sadly, we find none, but there are some butterflies around, and I snap plenty of Small ortoiseshells and a mating pair of Small Skippers which I hoped came out well.

Small skipper Thymelicus sylvestris

It was now twenty to opening time, and I could hear the cold beer at the Ferry Boat call, so we walk back to the car then drive the half mile to the pub, getting here just after midday. I see that a jug of Pimms is available for a tenner, so we order one of those and a beef ploughmans each and sit inside out of the heat of the day to relax and enjoy the food.

Franky, we were bushed; so we headed back to the mainland, dropped Will off at Faverhsam station and headed back to Dover for a relaxing cuppa and a laydown in the coold dark interior.

In the evening, after dinner, we sit outside as dusk falls and one by one, the stars come out over head. As the insects come out,so do the bats and swallows, performing acrobatics as they catch their prey. Over the other side of the valley, people light bonfires, and the smoke rises in the air, barely disturbed by a breath of wind.

Friday, 12 July 2013

Friday 12th July 2013


And the calm before the storm. Or the day before the travelling begins. So, I work from home as I can’t work if the technicians are in the office for Ramsgate, so I set up my laptop on the dining room table.

I had the usual pile of e mails to wade through, and meetings to attend to, seats on the plane to book. And then there was the cats. Cats everywhere, but cats not getting on. Although some kind of truce seems to have settled upon Chez Jelltex, the three resident moggies won’t come in the house except to feed, and Bowie won’t really go out. Except when nature calls, or we encourage him to by throwing him out when he threatens to use the litter tray. Mulder is the one coming round the quickest, and he is beginning to get back to his old routine, sleeping in the bed, on the office

chair, etc. So, that night we showed Bowie how the cat flap worked.


I was one side, Jools was the other side, and we passed him through the door. He’ll get used to it, but here I am 47 years old teaching a cat to use the cat flap. Not how I saw my life panning out back in the day.

As the day slipped by, I realised I had more and more stuff to squeeze in and was running out of time, in the end I just had to say at nine that enough was enough, anything else would have to wait until the weekend. We finished the day by eating a huge bowl of strawberries, a nice cuppa and a shower.


What was clear was that five was way too early to waking up. In fact Jools let me lay in until twenty past. I finished packing, and after breakfast was ready to go. Jools dropped me off at the station, I bought my ticket and waited on the platform for the train to arrive. Just like old times….

As I headed up to London, clouds gathered, but it seemed to match my mood. I got off at Stratford and on auto pilot walked to the DLR station, got on a train and headed for the airport. It is so mundane for me now, I really don’t give it a second thought, but really, I am taking off from the middle of what used to be the Victoria Dock, flying to Denmark where a hire car was waiting, and in under seven hours I had gone from our house to the desk in Esbjerg. Pretty amazing, really.

I knew the flight was going to take off into the easterly breeze, so I did not take my camera into the cabin, and instead of looking at the sea pass below I read a magazine. I did look out of the window as we climbed over Essex, seeing Chelmsford, Wakes Colne before we crossed the coast at Sizewell with its Nuclear Power station next to the beach.

And so I picked up the hire car, another Audi A3: vroom, vroom! And so all was set, I turned down the heater to minimum, and that wasn’t cool enough, so wound the windows down and headed off towards Esbjerg. Yes, even Denmark looks wonderful in the sunshine, it seems the crops have been going growing crazy since I was last here. Everything is in bloom and the colour greens were so deep all around. Such a shame then that I had to work, so I arrived at the office and the craziness began.

That night I checked into my hotel, I have a south facing room with a large picture window and no air con; all the sunshine had made it feel like 90 degrees in the room. I tried to open the window, but it was still so hot. I began to read JG Ballard’s Drowned World, and took it to dinner with me, and so passed the time reading, sipping beer and eating. My healthy intentions were half realised, as I began with steamed asparagus but then followed it by a burger.


So, I slept quite well despite the room feeling something like a greenhouse. I got ready for work and headed to the office. And so began another day at the coalface.

That evening my back began to complain, and so my evening walk was a short one, ending at the Harbour offices with its fine views over the harbour. Which makes sense.

I went back to the hotel and made the decision to eat in the hotel again. I read more from The Drowned World inbetween courses. It was all rather a depressing experience and so decided not to eat here again, and whatever go out and find somewhere with life to eat.


My phone said 4 a.m. In Danish time it was five, and the alarm had just gone off. I had a meeting in Arhus at nine, so I decided to leave early to beat the rush hour traffic to head office. I showered and headed down to the car, it was half an hour before breakfast begun, so I skipped that meal and set off in the Audi.

Soon after hitting the motorway, the mist hit, but visibility was good enough not to have to slow down too much, and I made good time, reaching head office at just gone seven, giving me 50 minutes before the front desk would be manned and I could get in.

At eight I walk into the new office building, and find security tighter than at Fort Knox. I could enter, but not have a pass, so could nto open any interior doors. I tapped at the door to Offshore’s offices hoping that I would be seen. I was and let in. I have been given a form, which should mean next time I visit I should not be treated like a criminal.

And then the meetings began. And went on and on. And on.

Last meeting I did not look at the invite and so went along to see my boss and Frank. Do you know why you’re here? I did not. In the end the offer of a promotion was there, with more responsibility, but is the next logical step. I will think about it over the weekend as it will mean lots of travelling in the new year. And meetings. Lots of meetings.

So, I drove back in the strong sunshine with the air con on full and the windows down. I like the Audi and may well back it for use at home!

I met with Philip in the evening and we went out for dinner; seems like I only had an apple and a banana all day, and by seven was pretty darn hungry. We went to Dronning Louise and had salmon on a bagel to start followed by a burger. Much to my surprise, Philip said yes when I asked if he wanted to head to the Irish bar, and so we had a pint and I let him by me an 18 year old malt. A very fine evening indeed.

Philip in Paddy Go Easy, Esbjerg

With a weekend orchid hunting ahead, and the prospect of promotion, married to a wonderful woman and our house on the cliffs, life seems good right now.

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Sunday 7th July 2013 (part 2)


Last day of the week off, and it just rushes by, I mean it's half seven now and will soon be time for bed and then work on the morrow. Sigh. And what with summer having arrived over the weekend. Yes, summer, with days upon days of unbroked sunshine and nights of broken sleep caused by high temperatures. And the heatwave, if that what it is, is going to last most of the week and into next weekend. Unless you are going to denmark, in which expect anything, even snow....

We walked to the glade this morning. By obsession with orchids has meant that our walks round our neighbourhood have been lapsing over recent months, so after breakfast we ulled on our walking shoes and bimbled along the lane. And PHEW, it was already hot at half eight! I only like going there to chase butterflies, but just the act of walking was hard, hot work.

Marbled White Butterfly Melanargia galathea

We saw a couple of blues, almost certainly Commons, and a brown, but that might have been a female Common. That done, it was enough to walk back home and sit in the shade. Later in the morning I head back to the verge-side nature reserve on Lydden Hill hoping to see an Adonis; nothing doing but I see a whole load of Meadow Browns, Small Skippers, Common Blues and finally, some Marbled Whites. which Ilearn are not 'whites' as such, but 'browns'. If that makes sense.... Another bonus is the mass of Pyramidal Orchids up there, not in a carpet, but peppering the hillside with dark purple patches. I really feel these are very under-rated orchids.

Pyramidal Orchid Anacamptis pyramidalis

Nan came round this afternoon to watch the tennis: Andy Murry in his 2nd final, and he wins. He really does. And in style, in straight sets, thus becoming the first Brit to win there since 1936 when Fred Perry won. He won his fifth match point as i was dishing dinner up, roast beef and all the trimmings, which was rather nice I have to say. Although by this point i was rather hot and bothered.

One final piece of sporting news is that Norwich captain and all round top bloke, Grant Holt, is to join Wigan in the Championship tomorrow. All good things must end, but it seems so soon, but these four seasons have been a wild ride, beyond our wildest dreams, and Grant was always the mover and shaker. Good luck, and thanks. Many thanks.

Sunday 7th July 2013


There were time during the winter when I felt there was just too much sport. However, it does seem that summer sometimes just takes it to the next level. In the last few weeks it would have been possible to watch: The Confederation's Cup, The British Grand Prix, The German Grand Prix, Wimbeldon, Grand Prix athletics, the British and Irish Lions in Australia, international cricket and now we're on the 2nd weekend of Le Tour.

Now, I love Le Tour, and as I write this, Chris Froome has just taken over the yellow jersey. I should want to watch it, but, in truth, I don't want to. I don't want to watch any of it. The TV has not been on for 10 days now, and I don't even find myself missing it. Why? Well, it is summer. The height of summer, and this weekend the temperature is in the high 20s. I have been hinting butterflies, orchids and all the other stuff that gets my juices flowing.

Andy Murray is in is second Wimbledon men's final, and Nan is coming round for dinner, so we will put her in front of the TV and so I may see some of it. I really hope he wins, I mean it has been 77 years since a British man has wond at the All-England Club, Andy should win, but whether grass is his best surface is debatable. He has already won a grand slam, so whether he wins in SW19 is irrelevant, he's already a winner. Something that the previous 76 years British tennis failed to produce.

It is crazy story season, and in football this means transfer gossip and rumours. I do read them, but don't believe any of the bylines until a move has been confirmed. With the financial fair play rules coming into full force this year, that transfer fees would return to something approaching real-world values. But with a massive increase in TV money coming in, it seems English (and Welsh) clubs seem intent on going on a grand shopping spree.

5 weeks until the beginning of the season......

Elsewhere, Bowie has been out, and has also met all the other cats, with mixed results. The others have not been in the house much, and Bowie has been exploring the house, and seems very much at home. Last night he went out for several hours, but came back at four in the morning. We just hope that things will settle down in due course. In the last twelve hours we have seen the other three more than in the previous two days.

We had a BBQ last night, once the heat of the day had abated. We sat outside digesting our burgers as the sun went down and dusk came, as did the bats, swooping down to catch small insects. A free flying display.

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Saturday 6th July 2013 (part 2)


IN a shock move, despite the noise of whatever industrial process had been taking place the night before outside the hotel, we both slept until half eight, and realised that if we were going to catch the ten fifteen train out of St Pancras, we'd better get going.

We quickly packed, handed the key in and made our way down into Waterloo underground station, then up to Warren street and on to St Pancras. we had half an hour to spare, so I go into M&S to get breakfast, then upstairs to wait for our train to be called. We grab seats at a table and quickly tuck into our sandwicues, fruit salad and smoothies.

Dead on time, the train slid out, and soon we were zooming through the tunnel under East London to Stratford, and then onto Dagenham.

At dover we found the car with all four wheels still on, so we loaded up and headed to Dad's to collect Bowie, and then onto home. And relax. Now the really hard part, getting our resident cats to accept Bowie as one of their own. What is clear is that Bowie likes it at Chez Jelltex, and despite the hissing at other cats soon settled in.

Introducing: Bowie.

We did lock him in the back room that night, and he attacked the door for eight hours making sure none of us got much sleep.


And it was another of those wonderful not-going-to-work days when the sun shone all day and I got out looking for orchids and butterflies.

We headed up to Lydden Hill to hunt for Adonis Blues, but despite it being almost perfect conditions and the right time of the year for them to be about, I saw only Commons once again. However, it was wonderful being so high up above Lydden and Temple Ewell, it was glorious just ambling about.

Late Spider-orchid Ophrys fuciflora

In the time we were away, an orchid book I ordered had arrived, and so after consulting it on the subject of Late Spider Orchids, I set off with what I thought was a good idea where they would be. Late Spiders are very rare indeed, and can only be found in East Kent at a few locations. So, here's hoping I get lucky.

At the car park high on the downs I meet a couple of chaps just arrived from a steep walk up the downs, so I asks then if they know where the orchids are. A long way down, over two styles and through three fields, and then there's just a couple. however, on the road below, there's a site just 50m from the parking place, go there!

Late Spider-orchid Ophrys fuciflora

So, fairly sure in my mind I knew where to go. So I drove off, turned down the hill, went along a mile or so, and pulled in. I could see the metal cages used to protect the orchids just from the road, so I knew I was in the right spot.

There were about 20 plants in all, and i snapped most of them. Some hard work had been done recently, keeping the slopes clear of vegitation to ensure the orchids thrived. Their work is appreciated.

I got dozens of shots, and was happy enough with what I thought I go.

I went back to Lydden to look for the adonis, and again with no luck: plenty of Commons once again, even some newly hatched ones. I climbed right to the top of the down, right beside the A2, and for a fleeting momsnt I saw an Adonis flutter by, but it did not settle again and I failed to get a shot.

I happened to look at my camera and the shots I had taken, only to find the camera had switched to mono four shots in, and all the wonderful orchid shots were there, in glorious mono. Bugger.

I head home for a drink, and there was nothing else but to go back and redo the shots, but we had to leave soon so to catch the light.

Late Spider Orchid Ophrys fuciflora

We drive out to the base of the downs, no one is there, and we have the place to ourselves, and just in time as some orchids are already hidden in deep shade. We both get shots, and are joyous, as the orchids are just stunning.

Late Spider Orchid Ophrys fuciflora

We drive off to see the Musks again, as we had been told to be there at dusk when the air is heavy with fragrance. Indeed it was,as wewalked in the shady valley. We show a couple or two where the orchids are, and to make sure they all smell the honeyed scent.

Happily we mask our way home through the glory of a summer dusk, for a late dinner and a celebration glass of wine.

Saturday 6th July 2013


We decide to set of for London late in the day, this to save finding somewhere to have dinner. So, we drive to Dover Priory to catch the quarter to seven train. For me it is nothing special, of course. An hour later we arrive in Stratford, and then make our way to Custom House along Victoria Dock Road. The DLR station is opposite the hotel, so apart from checking when the first train is in the morning, we go to check in and make our way to the room.

It may have only cost £80, but there was tea and coffee making stuff, a 'pod' style bathroom, clean sheets; what else could anyone ask for in a hotel? We go to the bar, have a drink before getting our head down as we had an early start on the morrow.


We got a mail through from the tour company telling us that the start for the tour was now 06:40, so we had to be at King's Cross well before then. We woke at five, had a hot drink and after checking out made our way to the station. Now, it seems we had underestimated how long this trip would take us. I looked at my watch and it revealed itself to be quarter past six and we still had to get from Warren street to King's Cross.

60163 "Tornado, The Cathedral Express, King's Cross 3rd July 2013

We arrived, with tie to grab a couple of rolls and drinks from a kiosk, make our way to the platform. I do to the fron to snap Tornado, and Jools finds our seats in the very last coach of the train, which is confusingly coach A, a whle train-length away from coach B.

As we settle in to our compartment, with which we share with a mother and teenage son, the train eases away right on time and we are on our way. Right way entering the darkness that is Gasworks Tunnel. Soon enough a nice young man brings us round hot drinks, and so we settle down to have our rolls and watch North London roll by as we head north.

As we require two water stops as well as giving way to faster expresses, it was a leisurely trip north, with lots of stops looking at fields or flower-cover embankments. We drank more coffee and ate bacon butties that were brought round. In fact, the second water stop was scrubbed, and at one point we were 20 minutes ahead of schedule, but more stops brought us into York bang on time.

The Great Gathering at the NRM, 3rd July 2013

The choice was, whether to take shots of Tornado resting in York station, or head to the NRM to get my shots before it got too crowded. In the end, I decide to route march to the NRM to get my shots and get out of there. I know they was without looking at the signs, so I march on, barging the elderly and those slow-walkers out of the way.

The Great Gathering at the NRM, 3rd July 2013

Upon arrival at the museum, we were told by a nice young lady that the queues were shorter at the car park entrance. Promise? I asked here, well, it was she said. So, I strode on, and indeed the queue was less than 5 minutes. I go in and found most of York already there. I went to the turntable to get the shots I could, not the one I wanted, but hey! I saw more and more people coming in, so I grabbed the last of the shots and made my way out.

The Great Gathering at the NRM, 3rd July 2013

Last think I heard was that Jools was heading to the Minster, so I walked there in order to try to catch up with her. I queued up some more to get in, and Jools then called me to say that due to the length of queue she decided not to go in. So, I head to the Chapterhouse as it is probably my favourite building in all of England, and to go to the Mister and not see it would be a crime. And I have the place just about to myself so I take my shots, once I have already taken, but it is glorious.

York Minster

I tell Jools I will meet her in the Three Legged Mare (a pub), and once I got my shots I head there, only to find Jools not there, so I get drinks and head out into the small beer garden to cool down and enjoy the summer sunshine.

Sitting there with Jools I overhear a conversation from a table the other side of the patio, and hear them taking about getting some old amps repaired. So, in a pause in the converstion I ask if they know where there is a second hand record shop in the city. Oh, there's one around the corner one tells me.

So, after supping my ale, we walk through the city gate and sure enough on the other side of the road was the record shop. I go in, looking for a record by Denim or the Fatima Mansions. The very last record I looked at, I recognised the cover. But it couldn't be, could it? But it was.

Politically Correct

Back in the day, in the early 80s, my weekday evenings would be spent listening to the John Peel show, and many, many records he played I bought or at least tried to buy. Some, though, were hard to get at the time, let alone 30 years later, even on the interwebs. However, one album I have always wanted was Politically Crrect by Jane Bond and the Undercovermen, mainly for the cover of Hot Rod Lincoln, which Peel would play many time. I even taped it twice when he did.

But here it was, and only a tenner. So, it was mine. I had a huge, huge grin on my face the rest of the day, and clutched it to my chest. I have only been trying for 30 years to get this, and I find it by chance.

We find a place to eat and we both have vegitarian Mexican food and cold, cold beer. Lovely.

We wander round York, whiling the way until it was time to head to the station ready for our half five departure. As five o'clock approached, the platofrm filled up, and it began to get quite dangerouns. As Tornado backed onto it's carriages, people did not back out of the way, making it difficult for the driver to see clearly. People surged forward to get shots, not caring who they pushed out of their way. It began to feel dangerous, as trains tried to leave from the other track on the platofrm, and people ignored it.

60163 "Tornado, The Cathedral Express, King's Cross 3rd July 2013

I joined Jools in the carriage and we made ready for our departure. It was another gentle run south, with a scheduled arrival at eleven. At times it seemed to be taking an age, but as now we were the other end of the train, we were serreaded by Tornad the who trip, and heard the whistle loud and clear as we roared down Stoke Bank 75 years to the day since Mallard broke the steam record.

60163 "Tornado, The Cathedral Express, King's Cross 3rd July 2013

Darkenss begain to fall as we headed through the home counties, and by the time we were back in London it was dark. At twenty past eleven, we pulled into King's Cross. I tried to get some shots, and some even came out. We joined the drunks on the Tube as we went back to Waterloo and the UJC. We got in just before midnight, shattered but having another wonderful day.