Friday, 29 November 2013

Friday 29th November 2013

And so another week hard at the coal face comes to an end. Not that I have ever seen a coal face, other than in black and white films. I don't do anything now that means getting my hands dirty, unless I buy a packet of chilli crisps and the flavouring comes off when I put a few of them in my ham sandwich. Because a ham sandwich isn't crunchy enough unless it has crisps in it.


Not, the end of the month means KPIs. KPIs are what keep modern businesses going; they are Key Performance Indicators, and at the end of the month I calculate KPIs to see how ell, or how bad we are doing. I do get the feeling that no one looks at the KPIs once I have spent 5 hours calculating them, making lovely graphs and pivot tables. I don't even know what a pivot table is, really, when push comes to a shove. And it is entirely possible that is a waste of time,, but it keeps me off the streets.

And in a stunning turn of events, I actually spelt entirely correct in the paragraph above, but I though Chrome had broken and was not going to tell me I had spelt it wrong. But I got it right.

Spelling is not my strong point: see I left the r out of strong then, but I went back to put it back in before Chrome told me about it.

Good Ian.

Where was I? Oh yes, KPIs. Spreadsheets, pivot tables, graphs, autosum. The day goes by in a flash.

That was Friday.

Except for the bit where I go to the butchers. And Tesco. Then the weekend has arrived.

What else has happened this week? Oh yes, the death of a comet. And then its rebirth. Or partial rebirth. Or not. I think. Comet ISON headed from the Oort Cloud in towards the sun, skimmed the sun's corona. And fizzled out. It just went out like an old light bulb. An old light bulb travelling at close to 600,000mph.

It broke up the whole Twitterverse said. And in the end the NASA webcast said so. So no amazing comet for December then? No comet of the century then?

No, and yet, maybe. Something survived. At first they thought it was dusk, then something of the comet's nucleus. and now, who knows? well, we all will by Tuesday when the tail might be visible. That I watched the whole thing via a NASA webcast and followed what the geeks were saying via Twitter made this into the first astronomical event I have felt I have taken part in.

Other than that time I was at 33,000feet to see that eclipse over Cornwall. The one the rest of the country and those folks on Concord failed to see. I saw it. I was on the way to Las Vegas. for work. In the RAF. And the pilot said we would see the eclipse and he would fill in a flight plan so to make it happen. And so we all got to see the eclipse. From 33,000 feet. Then we flew to Vegas, checked in our hotel. Four star hotel. Then hit the Strip. All on rates. And go very, very drunk. And played pool. Until dawn. When we got thrown out of the pool hall.

That was quite a memorable day. All in all.

I did not see an eclipse this week. Nor a comet. But I might see a comet next week. And so might you.

In medical news, Nan is out of hospital, and is OK. She is only answering the phone if it rings more than 8 times. Because she's 99 years old and that must make sense. Somehow.

There were some other days this week, but they were mostly crappy and mainly involved getting up in the dark, driving to work, work, driving home, cooking, washing up, and stuff. See you all tomorrow when some non-work related stuff might happen.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Wednesday 26th November 2013


When I woke up I knew there was something wrong: I mean my big toe shouldn’t hurt like that! Ow that smarts I thought. I hoped it would wear off, so carry on as normal. I tried to think if I had stubbed it, or something else that would explain the pain. But nothing came to mind. Anyway, back to that later.

After breakfast we headed into the forest! About time too. We drove about, from town to town, village to village, but it was bloody cold. Thinking about it, I think its in the mind, in that like on Tuesday when at least the sun did shine, you kinda ignore the cold. But on a grey Thursday it was easy to feel cold and then it get colder and colder.

We ended up in the village of Beauleiu , as the woman who cut my hair yesterday said it was a nice place. Indeed it was, but it part on an estate owned by Lord Montague. I guess his family has owned the land around there since the enclosure act was brought in, and the Lords have lived off the fat of the land, and the shoulders of other’s labours ever since. Maybe it’s my inner socialist that finds this repulsive: everywhere you could see the family crest. At least we can see we gave little, if anything, to his coffers.

The road to Brokenhurst

We did go into the café for breakfast; and breakfast turned out to be cream tea. Cream tea is tradition on a plate: two scones, butter, jam and clotted cream all washed down with a pot of tea. Usually taken in the afternoon, but makes a good breakfast.

After that we head to Lymington, but it seems crowded and we are now cold, and more wandering around seems pointless. We head back out into the country to have a drink at a country pub. And getting out of the car my tow is agony. I remember passing a hospital in Lymington, and so after the drink we head there for an assessment. Not broken, (probably) not infected, so gout is top of the suspect conditions. I am given some paracetemol and told to rest.

New Forest, Hampshire

So we head back, over the moors. I was hoping that the clouds would fade and the sun come out. And as we took our time, by three the clouds were chased away by the north wind, and the late afternoon sunshine lit up the landscape. And well worth the wait it was. We went to a couple of places on the moors to look and marvel at the moors in the sunshine. Doesn’t sound much, but it was good.

New Forest, Hampshire

And so, here we are back in the cabin, last evening here before we go home. It will be good to be home, as nice as holidays are, heading home and being reunited with them cats is wonderful. And it is Jools’ birthdays on Saturday. Family get-together and all to look forward to.

Thursday evening we headed to the village of Three Legged Cross for a meal at the local also called Three Legged Cross. As we pulled up in the car park, the air was heavy with the smell of woodsmoke, and it being cold, the guy who met us at the door showed us to a table beside the open fire so Jools could warm up.

I ordered a wonderful spiced lamb pie, apparently home made and accompanied by fried sweet potato chips. A couple of pints of fine ale to wash it down with, followed by a fine cheeseboard, and I was set.


It was tempting to spend the day in the New Forest, but once the decision had been made to head back a day early, we seemed to want to leave as soon as possible. We loaded up the car, checked the cabin for stuff and set off. We had waited until nine to leave, so the worst of the rush hour had worn off. As forecasted the sun did shine, and the thought of the forest and healthland in the sunshiiine would have make lovely photographs. But, let’s go home.

As we drove on, the weather got worse and worse, until as we turned off the M25 the rain began. And fell harder and harder. Oh this is fun! We had called the cattery to say we would pick up the cats a day early, they said yes, as long as we got there before midday. So, despite the rain, we had to press on. Just as well that the roads were very quiet and we made such good time. Back home at half eleven, pick up the chequebook and off to the cattery.

Our three kitties were huddled on a shelf, all looking very miserable. They didn’t even put of much of a fight about going back into the box. And back home again, let the cats out of the boxes. And whilst Jools unpacks I head to Tesco to get the shopping out of the way. Once the shopping had been put away, then we can relax as the washing gets done, and I can look at the shots I took.

The cats told us that they had not been fed at all, although Mulder’s full belly suggested this wasn’t true. But it was great having them back home once again, and life soon settled down back to normal very quickly indeed. I put on some of the radio shows we had missed on. Oh, this is the life. No matter how good your holiday was, being home is better.


We headed to the old folk’s place on Saturday, it being Jools’ birthday and all. And we thought we would see Nan. So, imagine our surprise to find that Nan is still in hospital. Seems that she has an upset stomach, and they won’t let her out until that clears up. So, we agree to head over to Ashford to see her in the afternoon.

Jools' 50th birthday party

Nan was just getting back into bed as we arrived, and is chirpy enough. Well, considering she ‘died’ twice on Monday! Her memories are a bit frazzled, but getting better each day that passes. She at least remembers us, and laughs when jokes are made.

In other medical matters, Jen is now almost back to normal after her jaundice. She is on high amounts of vitamins and she has now given up drinking. As well as smoking too.

Mum is still ill, more upset tummies there too. She is quite down about it. She called to wish Jools happy birthday. Anyway, that is our duty done there.

And it can be confirmed I have gout. Or at least a mild version of. The pain has worn off, but looking at my toe there is still redness. So, I shall have to be more careful.

Jools' 50th birthday party

Saturday night I had arranged a meal in a local Chinese restaurant. Sadly they called home when I was at Tesco to confirm the time a seating numbers, thus telling Jools what time the ‘surprise’ party was taking place. D’oh! Oh well, she had guessed most of it any way. At seven we drove into town, found a place to park and walked to the Moonflower. The family was waiting, and so away we went.

Eat as much as you like for £17. Yipee.

And that was it. All over. The food was good, much laughing and drinking.


All good things must come to an end. And so our holiday has too as well. We laid in bed until it was light. After strong cup of coffee, I braved it and watched MOTD. Every now and again it would be nice to be able to watch more than the occasional edition through my hands as another defensive horror show unfolded. A 2-1 defeat at Newcastle doesn’t sound too bad, but it was a woeful performance, and CH’s time must be drawing to an end. Next week’s match against Palace is a must win for us, and will probably decide if Hughton stays or goes.

We went into the garden to pick up the fallen leaves, so we can make some compost. Oh, I remember working outdoors, back in the days before I worked at a desk!

I spent the afternoon messing around online trying to order calendars for family, and listening to the radio at the same time. Who said men can’t multi-task.

And to round the day off, despite the gout, I cooked roast beef and all the trimmings, washed down with wine, albeit just cava. The rain beat down outside, I lit the fire and so we were soon toasty warm, watching the recording of Saturday’s Dr Who. A bit disappointing really. But there you go. Something else that is now 50.

Monday, 25 November 2013

Tuesday 25th November 2013 (part 2)


And so our time here is running out. Already Wednesday and we have not really seen anything of the forest yet. And today the forecast for, well, rain and lots of it.

Wimborne Minster, Dorset

So, how to fill the hours until the sun was due to shine again? Hmmm. We shall ponder that, and as we do I look out of the cabin window, and see some movement; a Roe Deer. And another. And as I look about half a dozen are wandering through the wood, as casual as you like. One even walks right by the cabin, looks at me, thinks about it and then wanders off in no hurry whatsoever.

Wimborne Minster, Dorset

I decide we should go to Wimborne: another church. But this is a very special one. Wimborne Minster was also featured on Portillo’s show, and so I thought we should go and see for ourselves. It is only a few miles drive, so after a lazy breakfast we set off.

Wimborne Minster, Dorset

As we parked, the rain had not arrived, so we walked to the Minster, and once inside we see we are the first visitors of the day. Or seem to be. I snap away, as I do, getting into the groove in not trying to miss anything. Hanging in the bell tower there seems to be an ancient clock, the hours an minutes marked by the movement of what looks like the earth and sun.

Wimborne Minster, Dorset

Once outside, we head for a coffee, and I go to buy Jools a card for her birthday. In the course of walking back, I see a record shop and end up spending £50 on new vinyl, which was not part of the plan for the day.

We get back to the car as the clouds burst and the rain hammers down. We drive into Bournemouth, as the plan now was to go and see Gravity at the cinema. The sat nav takes us round the houses, but then we were not in a hurry. We find a place to park and I go to find the cinema. Outside I find a few signposts, but none have the cinema marked. So I set off in what I thought was the sensible direction. Which, as it turns out was in the totally wrong direction. I find a German Market, the main shopping area, and all the while the rain gets heavier and heavier.

As the shops peter out, I am soaked and I give up. I find a place to get a haircut, and ask the lady cutting my hair for directions. Turns out the cinema was about 5 minutes from where we parked, and so after paying I set off to find Jools and then we can head to the cinema to buy tickets, and if we have tie, get a bite to eat.

We end up eating in a Japanese place, and it is pretty good, the flavours are stunning, and we were in and out in half an hour and taking our seats with five minutes to spare. Time enough to watch the twenty minutes of ads and previews. Should have had dessert!

The film is good, and very pacy with plenty of suspense. And George gets killed. Again. Oh well. It was getting dark when we come out, and getting very cold indeed. My coat was still damp from earlier, so we decide to head back to the cabin for coffee.

Tuesday 25th November 2013


And on the third day of the holiday, the sun did shine upon the land and Jelltex did speak and he said that it was good. Once again we lay in bed until dawn crept through the curtains and so it was very late, nearly half past seven once again before we got up. We had a coffee and a bite to eat and then set off into the Dorset rush hour on our way to the Jurassic Coast.

I did realise as we retraced the route to Wareham, that despite coming to the New Forest on holiday, we have not spent much time actually inside the boundaries of the park itself. And indeed, on this day we headed even further west to Lulworth Cove, Durdle Door, Weymouth and the Isle of Portland. However, other than Lulworth and Durdle Door we had no firm plans, the other two places just kinda happened, which is how a holiday should be.

Lulworth Cove, Dorset


Traffic was bad until we got past Bournemouth and Poole, and then we were out in wide open country, and the low sun was painting the moorland from a golden canvas. To say it was a glorious sight would not be doing the vistas that rolled past the car is a gross understatement. It was wonderful just to be alive.

Lulworth Cove, Dorset

Even better was when we arrived at Lulworth and parked up, put on our coats and set off for the bay. What can I say about the bay? Well, it is almost circular with a narrow entrance, and is pretty fantastic, even better as it is before nine and we have the place to ourselves. We climb up the path to the south to get views back to the bay and along the coast all the way to Weymouth and Portland bill on the horizon. Little did we know we would be looking back the other way before the end of the day.

Back in the car, and the two mile drive along the coast to Durdle Door. Durdle is a natural arch set along the coast. It is very famous, and like Lulworth, I have never been there. We follow the signs from the main road, through a caravan park to a parking area at the edge of the cliffs. The path down went sharply out of sight below us. So, back on with the coats, pick u the cameras and off we set.

Durdle Door, Dorset

It was a tricky climb down, as neither of us were wearing our walking boots, just trainers. But, taking small steps we got down to the path which follows the cliffs for dozens of miles. We make our way down to the outcrop, on one side a solid arm or rock stretches back towards Lulworth, and on the other side, Durdle Door itself point away towards Weymouth.

Durdle Door, Dorset

Once again we have the place to ourselves, and the strong breeze is wonderful, as is the glorious sunlight. Although for photography it was in a bad position to get perfect shots of the Door, but still, never complain about sunshine. A few people are now coming down to where we were standing; the path down to the beach near Durdle door has been swept away in a cliff fall, so we did not try to scramble down to the beach, although some have tried as the cliffs are made of earth so it would be possible.

We turned back to the north and headed back up the climb to the car park, just as a squad of soldiers on a route march go past, each one weighed down with a sixty pound pack. It looks character building stuff, which is why we didn’t have to do that kinda stuff in the RAF’ we already had character! That’s my story and I’m sticking to that!

Weymouth, Dorset

The climb was very steep, nearly 45 degrees for a long way, but with a few pauses the admire the view behind us, we got to the top, crashed into the car and looked at the map to decide where to go next. It was eleven, and thoughts turned to lunch, and I fancied fish and chips, as so did Jools. And so I looked across the bay to Weymouth and thought there would be fine chippys there.

Weymouth, Dorset

We drove round the wide sweeping bay, and into town, finding a place to park. A quick walk along the side of the river brought us to a fine looking place called The Marlboro. We go in and order cod and chips twice (one each!). It came filling the plate, indeed hanging over it at one end, and is so fresh the fish is pure white so clean tasting.

Wonderful stuff.

We walk along the river to the dock where a wave piercer ferry was being loaded before heading to the Channel Islands. I feel the need for another drink, so we find a nice looking pub beside the tramway and it was warm enough to sit outside, and so I nurse a pint of Hobgoblin in the winter sunshine, watching the world go by.

Weymouth, Dorset

Last night we had watched Michael Portillo in Weymouth on BBC2, and he ended the show standing on Portland Bill with stunning views over Weymouth and Chesil Beach stretching away along Lyme Bay. We thought we would like to see that view for ourselves, and so we set off on the short drive across the causeway and then up the rock. Much to my surprise, Portland is a substantial town, which climbs high up the rock until the houses give out, and right at the top is the viewpoint. The light was perfect, with little fluffy clouds to the horizon, and the light on the beach and Weymouth, stunning. The wind was keen, and as the sun was an hour from setting, what warmth there was in the day was fading, so we hurried back to the car, and began the hour drive back to the cabin.

In the footsteps of Michael Portillo

At six we called home, and much to our pleasant surprise, Nan is awake and lucid and is to be released tomorrow. We are amazed to say the least. Her heart stopped twice yesterday, but came back to us. She’ll get that telegram next year yet!

Chesil Beach

England played Germany in a friendly. So I sat down to watch it, and what a dispiriting experience it was, as England were toothless, and rarely threatened the German goal, and managed to give a second string German side a goal just before half time. And that’s the way it ended, and England walked off the pitch to another loss at Wembley with boos ringing in their ears for the second time in four days.

What hopes we had before these for the World Cup have been further tempered, and I don’t think many will be sitting up for the games kicking off in the wee small hours. I could be wrong, but I doubt it…..

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Sunday 24th November 2013


Good morning, Monday!

At least this week we’re not at work, so we get to choose what we are going to do with the day. What Jools decided was that we should visit a bead shop. Not only that, it meant being so close to Shaftesbury, which means Gold Hill.

Gold Hill is famous for being the setting for a famous TV advert for Hovis Bread. The voiceover was in a thick Yorkshire accent, yet the location was deepest Dorset. And gold Hill is a steep cobbled street with a rows of cottages on one side, each one towering over it’s neighbour.

St Leonard's, Semley, Wiltshire

We drive taking narrow lanes that the sat nav has selected. I stop to snap a couple of churches. Which means I am happy too. At Semley, I spotted an unusual marker in the churchyard, only to see it is of PC Yvonne Fletcher, who was gunned down outside the Libyan Embassy in the 1980s. He killer has never been brought to justice, and was even allowed to leave Britain under the cloak of diplomatic immunity. There is a fine stained glass window in the church to her memory, and in the visitor’s book I see many Met PCs have come to pay their respects. I pay mine and shed a tear. Her family live in the village to this day, and so must bear this atrocity every day.

Window in memory of PC Yvonne Fletcher, St Leonard's, Semley, Wiltshire

In Shaftesbury, we visit the parish church, grab a coffee and visit Gold Hill because its there!

From here we thought of going to East Knoyle to a country pub for lunch. On the way we spot a sign pointing to Stourhead; was it that close? It would be glorious in the autumn, even on a cloudy day. It’s set then, off to Stourhead, lunch in the Spread Eagle and a walk round the park!

GWUK #938 Dunhead St. Mary, Wiltshire

We grab a table in the Spread Eagle overlooking the lake, Jools orders fish pie and I have cheese and ham ploughman’s. It is a such a pleasant place, we both have crème brulee to round the meal off. After that we needed the long walk around the lake to work those calories off. It is dull and drizzly, but the autumn colours are reflected perfectly in the lake as there is barely a breath of wind to disturb the surface.

Autumn at Stourhead

As the complete the circuit, the weather closes in, and the light begins to fade despite it not being three in the afternoon again. We head back to the car and then begin the drive back to the cabin. On the way we receive a message that Nan is not well. Worse than that, she is very ill indeed. She has had a heart attack and is in hospital clinging on to life. She is 99, and now quite frail. But I thought she was going to make it into triple figures. And she may do yet, but it was only that the paramedics that were in the house today that she survived. And so, we now wait for news.

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Saturday 23rd November 2013


With no clock, phone signal or internet connection, we felt wonderfully cut off. It also meant that we had no idea what the time was in the morning, so we dozed until nearly half eight. That is 11 hours of your actual sleep. We brewed up, had breakfast and headed out into the wood to the car, as we were going to spend the day on a steam train. For a change.

As we are holidaying well out of season, most attractions that are still open, only are so at weekends. So it is with the Swanage Railway. We set off heading past Bournemouth and Poole to the park and ride by the station, with half an hour to spare before the first train into Swanage.

It rolled in, the tank engine swapped ends and made ready to leave. We were in the seats next to the engine so to get maximum sound effects as she climbed the hills before the line dropped to the station near the beach at Swanage.

Norden Station, Swanage Railway, Dorset

First station we went through was Corfe Castle, and to my surprise consists of more than a ruined castle. I saw a hotel and at least one other pub, and a very attractive village it looked to. Our plans changed, and so we decided to get the next train back and stay for a couple of hours in Corfe Castle for lunch and some liquid refreshments too.

At Swanage whilst we waited for the train to leave, we take a peek at Swanage and see it looks like a typical town; shops, roads, houses. We climb back on board, and the loco puffs its way up into the hills and towards Corfe Castle.

Norden Station, Swanage Railway, Dorset

We climb out and wait for the train to depart, then cross to the other platform to see it come the other way, to get the shot I wanted with the ruined castle in the background. By now it was five past twelve, or, if you prefer, five minutes of drinking time had already passed. So, we walk into the village, and come to the Square, where there are two pubs to choose from. The Greyhound opposite, or Bank’s Arms next to us on this side of the main road. The Arms advertises Wadworth will be available in the near future, so that swings it.

Swanage Railway, Dorset

We go in, order drink and some simple pub food. I have steak and ale pie, which is OK, but the local beer is good so that makes it a worthwhile lunchtime. We don’t have our NT cards, so we give the castle a miss, for now. We explore the village, have a coffee in the model village (really!) and then it is time to make our way to the station for the train to take us back to the end of the line.

Daylight was running out, despite it being only the middle of the afternoon, so it was time for the hour’s drive back to the cabin, where there was a cup that needed a couple of tea bags to be placed inside it.

Friday, 22 November 2013

Friday 22nd November 2013

And so today is the 50th anniversary of JFK's assassination in Dallas. There have been lots of shows on most channels this week to mark the event, in-between the Nazi documentaries that is, thanks for Children of the Master race yesterday, which we steered well clear of!

What it means to me is that tomorrow is Jools' 50th birthday, one she shares with a certain time travelling doctor. Or should I say Doctor? Much planned for tomorrow, so I will try to post a couple of entries between now and the end of the weekend.

We have been away for a few days, and the good news is that I kept writing, so you will not miss a thing!


I think the only bad thing about going away on a holiday is the business rounding up the cats. However, to temper that, when we come back home they is the joy when we go to collect them again.

I don’t know how they do it, but they knew something was up from the minute we got up. But then I guess anything different would. I thought in order to keep then around so we could grab them at half eight to take them to the cattery, we could just not feed them and they would stay around. Seems sensible, right?

Only, they knew something was up and went out to catch they own breakfast. Breakfast came with feathers, apparently. I managed to get Scully into following me, but Mulder had not been seen since the middle of the night, and Molly’s spider senses had been set off and she scarpered.

Mulder came back at about nine, so we had two of them, but Molly could be AWOL for 24 hours. And so we settled down to wait and wait. At half eleven I heard the cat flap go, but saw no sign of her. The, behind me there was a meow, and there she was stretched out on the carpet.

Piilopirtti Cottage, Karelia Holidays, Ringwood, Hampshire

I grabbed her, and one by one we put them in their boxes, loaded the car and set off for the cattery. Mulder’s bowels even behaved, and so we put them in their big cage and we were off. Up the m20, along the M25 along to the M3 and down, down to the south west. Thanks to the sat nav, we headed down into Hampshire and to Ringwood. Off the main road to the wood, and there was the sign. We arrived about half three, our cabin was ready, so we were shown through the wood to it and told where to park.

Piilopirtti Cottage, Karelia Holidays, Ringwood, Hampshire

After a quick brew we headed into town to go shopping. And found a Waitrose, which meant that although we would eat well, it would be expensive. We went back to the cabin to dine on black pudding flavoured Scotch eggs, salad and fresh crusty bread. It hit the spot.

Outside it got dark, not a sound disturbed us in the cabin with the grassy roof. We closed the curtain, put the kettle on and turned the heater up another notch.

Friday, 15 November 2013

Friday 15th November 2013

And so the working weeks draws to an end and thought turn ever more to the week off. I will keep it as a surprise as to where we are going, but it is on mainland UK. Tomorrow morning comes the packing and the round up of the cats as they are going to the cat hotel. OK, cattery. But with the two of us we should do just fine.

Tonight the choice is was to go to Crabble Mill for an evening of skittles or staying in and watching England play in a friendly. Tough choice. I really should have go out, but I stayed in. England were, well, England, good in patches, gave the ball away too much and lost two good goals. 2-0 to Chile, and no positives from the game at all.

So much for rock and roll……

As we are in the middle of the month, the weather seems to be catching up with the first frost of the season yesterday, and there being a nip in the air too. Brrrr.

Few Leaves Left

Once back from holiday, my time gets ever shorter as the year runs out and more work is required, until we can finally relax and enjoy Crimbo. Phew.

See y’all next weekend.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Thursday 14th November 2013

Hello and good afternoon and welcome to Thursday.

Welcome to the long tumble on the way to the weekend, and the big news is that my employers VPN system won't let me back in on my work's computer. So, I reboot and reboot the computer on the hope that it might let me back in.

So, here I am.


I have just spent a good ten minutes chasing a sparrow round the house that Scully brought in. There is no other way I like to spend an afternoon is chasing a feathered shitting machine around, whilst Scully also tried to re-catch the bird. I got to it first, and took it to the door so it could fly away. I flew back into the house.

More chasing. I get it again and put it out of the kitchen window. Scully runs back outside to try to catch it again. She failed.


Not much else to report, other than we are on our holibobs again next week. And it is a good bet I will be offline for seven days until the 23rd. Oh yes, the 23rd.

The 23rd sees three significant anniversaries:

One. 50th Anniversary of the assassination of John F Kennedy. (it was the 23rd in the UK by the time the news reached us.)

Two. 50th anniversary of the broadcast of the first edition of Dr Who

Three. 50th birthday of Jools.

For the first two, well, it happens that 50th anniversaries happen every day. It's just that one was the assassination of a president of the USA, and the second the longest running science fiction TV series.

The last one is a little more important. At least to me. Trying to arrange a 'secret' family event without jools finding out is a tricky thing. Impossible I have found. Jools knows something is being arranged, just not what. and it is taking place at half seven on the 23rd.

So, there you have it.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Tuesday 12th September 2013


And so back to work. Once again, despite the clocks going back, it is dark when the alarm goes off, and seems like a very bad idea to be up before the sun has even thought of rising. But, we do, get ready and are out of the house as the sky turns ever lighter shades of blue, and is showing red and orange on the horizon at the appearance of the sun gets nearer.

I drop Jools off at the factory and head up through Buckland, past Tesco and onto the Sandwich road. It gets ever lighter and there is a mist rising on the Stour as I head over the bypass bridge. The sun has risen, and I knew there would trouble in Ramsgate! Trouble as in November and February, the sun rises straight ahead as you drive out of the harbour tunnel, and yesterday it has just past the not quite bright enough stage where you can still look directly at it onto the “oh my word that is so bright I really don’t want to look straight at it”, but as it is in the direction the road is heading. I have spots on my retinas for hours afterwards.

It is rough out on site, so the technicians, or monkeys as Isometime call them (when they’re annoying) are in the office until being told they can go home. And today they outdid themselves as the soon got bored and started to shout insults at each other. I left at midday having given up trying to work. And anyway, I had an appointment with a Black 5.

The forecast, as I always seem to describe the weather in these pages, was expected to get worse as the day progressed, and by one should have been producing heavy drizzle. Which, annoyingly, is what happened. Shame then that I had decided on my way home to stop off on a lonely over bridge to wait and snap a railtour come by.

I tried the bridge in Buckland, but the parapet was really too tall to see, and being in the middle of a housing estate, me standing there with a camera would involve stares and maybe embarrassing questions as to why I was there. So, I headed further up the line, past the cemetery and up a dead end lane to where there was a bridge over the line just in sight of the southern portal to Guston Tunnel.

The drizzle got heavy and time passed. Another photographer turned up, and so I had someone to talk to. The minutes passed into quarters of an hour until it was nearly an hour late. After a few ‘just five more minutes’, we heard a mournful hoot of a steam whistle from the valley below, so we knew it was on the way. All ready now, check camera, make sure its switched on.

The Kentish Belle Armistice Day Tour

And then we could hear the Black 5 working hard up the steep incline. Louder and louder it became until it rounded the corner in front of us, producing a fine trail of smoke as it hammered along. Whir went the camera as I took a long sequence of shots, and as it passed below we crossed to the other side to see it climb into the tunnel. Or would have done were it not for the pall of smoke that lingered in the valley on the tracks, until the 47 on the back vanished from view too. And it was all over.

The Kentish Belle Armistice Day Tour

I dropped the other guy back in the centre of town near Priory station and headed back home to warm up and dry out.

The Kentish Belle Armistice Day Tour

Later in the afternoon I went to the docs to see if my leg has healed, as on occasion it still itches. But all is fine, although it took an hour’s wait to find this out. I get some more allergy pills, as I have not had an attack since getting some from the quack back in September. And I’m sorted, so go into town to pick up Jools from having her barnet mangled and then back home.

A quiet night stretched out before us, I cooked steak and ale pie, then sat down to watch the rest of the weekend football before calling it a night at nine.

And that was then end of Monday.

Monday, 11 November 2013

Monday 11th November 2013


How much better it is to get up on a Sunday morning and be able to watch MOTD without having to fast-forward through the section with Norwich on like in recent weeks. So, I sat on the sofa with Molly and we watched the footy whilst I also sipped a nice fresh coffee.

Once I had watched the City game, we got our act together and headed along Reach Road for a brisk Sunday morning constitutional. Nothing quite beats a fine walk along the cliff tops on a bright day. Or so we thought.

Reach Road

And we were right. We drove along and found just one other car parked, so we Pulled in, put on several layers of clothes and set off across the fields towards the cliffs. I should mention this was along a path, not just trampling stuff in our way!

Beyond the fence

And the sun was so bright, the light was amazing, both on the fields and once we got to the edge, on the cliffs too. The heavy rain we received recently meant that we decided against walking to the lighthouse and back, as one part would be very boggy indeed. So we walked on a large loop to the cliffs at the southern end of Fan Bay and then to Langdon and back up to the car.

The Lock and Key of the Kingdom

Once at the cliff edge we were sheltered from the wind and it was even warm in the sunshine. France could be seen as could the ferries hurrying back and forwards across the Channel. All along the cliffs, cracks and fissures have opened up, and the ones that were already there seemed to be larger than ever. We stayed from the very edge in places, just to be safe!

The White Cliffs

We headed back to the car and then back home for a cuppa and then an early lunch.

I wish I could say we were more productive in the afternoon other than me listening to the football on the radio and Jools beading upstairs. But that’s the sum of it. At five she went to give Nan a shower as Jen is still in hospital. She called in at the chippy on the way home, and I cooked rib eyes, timing it so they were perfect upon her return. I cracked open a beer whilst I cooked and polished of the half bottle of red during the meal. Forgetting never to mix grape and grain. Or I didn’t forget but did it anyway. My spinning head showed this to not be the wisest course of action.

And that was your weekend. Over in a flash as usual.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Sunday 10th November 2013


For some reason, my body thought what I would really enjoy Friday night was cramp in almost every part of my body. Just as I was about to nod off, ow! my leg/ankle/knee/back etc. I think I finally fell asleep sometime around one but I was awake again at half four as Scully woke me up as I slept, and she insisted that the only place she would seep was between my legs.

This meant that I felt like shit all day Saturday. I mean really crap. I got up at a quarter to six to feed the cats and make a coffee. Outside the sun came up and rose into a clear blue sky. And as the forecast was for heavy rain by mid-morning, we went out for a walk.

Days of Long Shadows

We didn't go far, just to see the pigs and back. We could have worn our wellies, but it seemed that about an hour was enough. As we walked, we could see the clouds gathering in the west, and once home the clouds darkened all the more.


We saw no butterflies out this time, nor wasps! But the leaves are mostly still on the trees, and although the countryside may still be green, it is a dull mixture of green and brown. When the sun shines, it casts long shadows, but the light is golden, even at nine in the morning.

Autumn Gold

We head back home for more coffee, and I listen to the radio the rest of the morning. And edit pictures. On the way home we bought half a dozen eggs from one of our neighbours who keeps hens, and so we had cheese and onion omelette for lunch, which was rather yummy I have to say.

And so to the afternoon, where the temptation would be to snooze, and indeed I may have closed my eyes for a while, but I managed to stay awake during the football, and then at half five live through the torment of following Norwich playing West Ham via Twitter.

It is the modern way, I guess, and so I got regular updates. After a shaky first half in which The Hammers took a deserved lead, and the Carrow Road crowd were getting restless and booed the players off at half time.

First Half Stats: Norwich v West Ham

The second half was a different matter; City won a penalty which Hooper dispatched at 100mph into the back of the net, and after that Norwich took command and scored two more goals to run out comfortable 3-1 winners.

Second Half Stats: Norwich v west Ham


There's no denying there is still problems, but the league table looks so much better today than it did before yesterday's games.

Finally we watched a documentary on WWI, and the recovery of bodies found in a mass grave and identifying them. It was very well made and brought home the horror and futility of The Great War. Lets hop that for the next four years, we remember the massive loss of life on all sides rather than paint it as all rather glorious.

Dulce et Decorum est, and all that rubbish.

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of disappointed shells that dropped behind.

GAS! Gas! Quick, boys!-- An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And floundering like a man in fire or lime.--
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,--
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Saturday 9th November 2013

That evening I went to the in-hotel faux-English pub, the Ship Inn, for dinner. I ended up having a beef kebab burger and a half litre of mighty strong and dark local ale. It was OK, but the atmosphere in the place didn't seem to conducive for me to stay and read, so I headed back to my room and in the end I went to bed at nine, with the sound of cars parking outside my room window.


Despite being in what I was told was the most expensive hotel, the breakfast buffet was not too luxurious. I had a bowl of cereal, a roll with raspberry jam and a cup of coffee. That seemed to be the sum of it, so I packed my bags and checked out.

It was a 20 minute drive to work, and traffic was light. Once in I had some number crunching to do, two weeks of it, before I was scheduled to sit on a four hour meeting which would take me to the time when I had to leave for the airport. A four hour meeting! I ask you.

Time passes.


At two I pack up my computer and load the car. Most folks in Esbjerg had already left for the weekend, making an early start. I, however, had nine more hours until I would be home for the weekend. I drove to Billund, parked up, checked in, went through security and went to the gastrobar. I ordered a salad and a beer, and sat down looking out the window at the few aircraft coming and going, and in-between I read.

Despite it being clear in Billund, we soon flew into clouds and soon we were bumping and diving as we hit air pocket after air pocket. Some of the drops were huge, like being on a roller coaster. I have flying like that. I skip the in-flight meal and have just and an orange juice.

In time I see the lights of the belgian coast out east and soon we are flying over Essex and along the Thames. Rain hammered down outside, and even at a only a couple of clouds obscured the suburbs of London. Down and down we went, emerging from the clouds and skimming over the river before bouncing down onto the runway.

We had a long wait before we could get out of the plane, but had no wait at immigration and my bag was waiting on the carousel so I could go straight to the DLR station and head for Stratford. I had 15 minutes to get there, if my watch was right, if I was to catch the seven fifteen train to Dover. Despite trying not to notice, I was willing the train to hurry up. And so it came as no real surprise to find I arrived three minutes too late for the train, so I had a further half hour wait.

I grabbed a coffee and read some more, making my way down onto the platform just before the train was due. There were no seats, but it is just half an hour to Ashford, where i would have to wait for a slow train home. On the cold platform, the quiet was broken by a couple of Eurostars thundering towards France, all flashes of electricity as the pantographs arced on the catenary.

The train arrived, and I had a carriage to myself, and so I passed the final leg of the journey home reading more of the book and trying to keep my eyes open. jools was waiting for me, and I put my bags in the boot and climbed in; off we head home.

Friday, 8 November 2013

Friday 8th November 2013


I suppose I should be used to the fact that inside six and a half hours I can travel from Dover and be at my desk in Esbjerg. Even though I must have done this 20 times this year, it is still amazing. Two train rides, one flight and a 60Km drive and I’m here.

We woke up well before dawn to the sound of more rain hammering down outside. We had breakfast, I checked my bags and was satisfied I have everything. So, we drove into town, Jools dropped me off. The train whisked me to Stratford in an hour, I walked to the DLR station and in 20 minutes that dropped me off in the departure hall of the airport. There were no queues, so I checked in, went through security and had time for a leisurely breakfast of eggs benedict and a huge cup of coffee.

The flight was called, so the 20 of us on the flight make our way to the gate and are shown to the plane in yet more rain. We took off and soon were lost in the low cloud over east London, but once we got high enough, we broke through the clouds into the bright sunshine. I skipped the cold meal again, read a magazine as western Europe, or East Anglia, the North Sea, Holland and Denmark rolled by under the clouds before heading back down to land.

And it wasn’t raining, at first, in Denmark. Although once I picked up my car and set off for Esbjerg the clouds did bust. And here I am. In Esbjerg. In the office. Drinking coffee. Checking mails and work stuff.

Tomorrow, the team building of terror!



Work finished, or it reached that time in the day when all the others in the office packed up and went home, so I decided to follow them. However, I was off to pastures new in Bullum. This is because the much anticipated team building exercise was due to happen in the lone hotel in the village.

Billum Kro Hotel

I leave work and head out towards Blavand, and at the roundabout turn right instead of left and there on the right is the Kro. I park up and take my bags to sign ion. It feels like a throwback from the 70s, with smoked glass and wooden cabinets around the bar. Over the courtyard is a two story block, and my room is on the first floor.

I walk over, climb the steps and let myself in. It is comfortable enough, with twin beds, a nice flat screen TV and an en suite WC/shower. I look out the window and see the small railway station and level crossing. Something to keep me entertained, then?

After a while, I go down for dinner and end up having ribs. I get an absolute plateful of them, enough to feed two, but I manage to east most of them.


The day of the team building. Only, it isn’t really. It’s a project kick off meeting, and those of us who had arrived the night before are introduced over breakfast, and the rest turn up before half nine. We are shown into the conference room, and so we wait for ten. And away we go.

I won’t bore you with the details, but it lasted three hours before we were told about the ‘fun’ activity planned for the afternoon. Land yachts powered by huge kites.

What could go wrong?

We drove to the coast, and onto the beach and along to where the Aussie, or Assie accented Dane was waiting.

Practice makes perfect

He gave us a brief explanation as to what we were to do, and how the kites work. Made it sound so simple. We were paired off and let us got on with flying the kites first. And lets be honest about this, I was useless at the kite flying. The kite spent most of the time in the beach. The other progressed form the kite flying to the buggies. And away they went, some slower than others.

Chris on wheels

I gave up at this point. I did try one more time, but the kite was one of the 2.5m kites, producing three times the amount of lift and power. I flew across the beach, managed to bring the kite down, and left it alone.

The afternoon passed away, we got cold, and others whizzed up and down the beach, or at least up the beach, coming back down seemed problematic. Anyway, as the sun set, we packed up and headed back to the hotel for a couple of hours rest before the evening meeting was due to begin.

The Beachcombers

We met up, got a beer in, catted, went for dinner, ate, drank wine, drank more wine, drank some dessert wine. I was tired so went to bed, and fell asleep watching the football on TV. As usual.


I was awoken by the 5:55 train stopping at the station outside my window. I say that, when it was the bells of the level crossing that woke me up. I lay there, heard another two trains pass in 20 minutes. I must have snoozed off and woke up in time to hear the seven fifteen train pass through, so got dressed and went down for breakfast.

Woken by "The Pig" at 05:55

After washing and packing I was walking to the car to load it up, a wasp, with malice aforethought came down and stung me. OK, I was fresh out of the shower and smelt lovely. But anyway, the wasp got me and I dropped my cases and swore.

Another day of meetings stretched before us, and the hours crept by and the minutes crawled by. There always seemed to be just ‘one more question’ and so the hopeful half two finish slipped until the half three, quarter to four.

We broke the meeting up, and drove the short distance to Hjerting.

Yes, Hjerting.

Hjerting Badehotel

Just north of Esbjerg. All hotel rooms in the town were taken so I would have to slum it at the most expensive hotel in Esbjerg. I arrived just before sunset, and so went for a walk along the prom to snap the scene.

I checked in, and made myself at home. But not being at home, of course. No matter how lovely the hotel is, its not home is it?

cloud burst

I realised as I walked along the prom, it was seven years ago to the day I got made redundant by the chemical company in Yarmouth. I remember laughing about it; how dare they sack me from the shitty job, I wanted to resign. I had no idea what to do, no money to pay the mortgage. Within a month I was working for Gardline and on my first north sea trip on silly money.

And here I am now, managing things in a project, with responsibilities and stuff. Scary stuff.

Monday, 4 November 2013

Monday 4th November 2013

We got up once dawn had, er dawned, and after a cuppa decided we should make the most of the morning and head to Dungeness to soak up the sunshine that we were blessed with.

We headed out along the Alkham valley towards Folkestone and then up the motorway to the Hythe turn. It must be the best part of a year since we were last at Dungeness, and so I thought we should take the long scenic coast road through Hythe, Romney and Dymchurch. It is always so pleasant, especially first thing in the morning when traffic is light.

Anyway, before leaving home Jools asked if I wanted breakfast: no, not hungry I said. So it comes as no surprise that in very little time I was hungry. Nothing in Romney that did breakfast, but we passed a sign on the road to Lidd that advertised breakfast. Could I resist the fry up and go for something healthy?

In a word: no.

I ordered the middle sized breakfast and a cuppa whilst Jools had toast. She had already had cereal that morning so did not need lard! But, it was very nice indeed, and soon we were heading over the shingle, past the two nuclear power stations an onto the Dungeness estate. We park up and head out into the bright sunshine and stiff breeze. Man, I needed to put on a thicker coat, I was almost chilly. Still, once walking over the shinge I soon warm up.

Tracks to the sea

We walk along some old trolley tracks and look along the high water line as the waves lap along the beach. Thousands of gulls rise and fall dodging the lazy waves. There is nothing really unpleasant about just standing there taking in the scene: the warm sun in our face, the breeze at our back, fishing boats going about their business and the gulls and other seabirds dipping and diving.

The Crossing

After a while we head back to the car and set off, in the end travelling back along the coast road to Hythe and then back up the motorway to Folkestone. I try to photograph a church at Hawkinge, only to find it now a private house, but nice enough. We go back home for lunch and a relaxing afternoon. I listen to the radio and Jools beads.


The afternoon passes.

I cook steak and ale pie for dinner, and after that we watch a program on the Staffordshire Horde, and in doing so the last hour of the weekend slips by and it is time for bed. Outside the rain hammers down again and a solitary soggy badger helps itself to the food on the bird table.

And that is it until the weekend as I am off to Denmark tomorrow for some team building. *shudders*