Friday, 31 January 2014

Friday 31st January 2014


Back to working at home. Begin the day by chasing a mouse. I say chasing a mouse, Scully brought it in, I didn't realise it at the time. I saw her staring at one of the record racks, I looked underneath and there was a scaredy looking mouse. I thought I could grab its tail and take it out, like I have so many other mice. I reach down and pull.

And the tail comes off!

So, imagine how the day panned out for the mouse: snatched in the jaws on a feline killer, brought into the house, me chasing the mouse around the room and now i had ripped of its tail. It was bound to be upset.

Molly took up guard, and after a few failed attempts finally managed to catch the mouse. Mouse is now in Molly's mouth. She doesn't want to give it up, but then just drops mouse.

Mouse blinks and thinks I can get away here, and sets off like a mini kangaroo. Molly and I set off in pursuit. To the CD racks, and back. with a cry of delight, I scoop up the mouse in one movement with Molly thinking the mouse had headed into the book shelf. I take mouse to the back door and drop it on the patio.


It jumps up a good nine inches in the air, and then sets off over the concrete to hide under a large plant pot.

Job done.

Back to work then......


A day of great excitement. Because I am working from home again, but also waiting for a delivery.

What can it be?

A few weeks ago Jools asked if I wanted to get a new camera. Of course I did, but then its not as easy at that, is it?I mean I would like one, but what one, and could i justify the expense? I liked the one my friend Gary has, a 7D, but then my colleague Anni has a 6D. And the difference? well, one is full frame whilst the 7D is not. And I decided that if was going to upgrade, I should do more than get a more up-to date version than what I have already.

New toy

So, Jools looked around and got a good deal on the 6 and ordered it, so I had to work from home, I was going to anyway, for the delivery man. Could I concentrate on work with a slab of japanese technology heading my way? Well, yes as it turned out, and once it arrived I carried on working getting the task I had begun, finished.


That night we went to visit Nan; she is OK, a little down on occasion, but happy enough to see us, and happy enough to give us, or Jools, stuff to do. It really is not the best way to end your days I suppose, but there really is little other way as she can't stay here due to our stairs, and at dad's it isn't going to get nay better, and we're all getting older and they're struggling to look after themselves. And what with Betty being a permanent fixture there now, and she's ninety five.....

Afterwards we head to The Carpenter's Arms in Coldred, for another pub in the POTY contest. I have a fine pint of porter, straight from the barrel on the bar. Oh yes, the bar. I will have to go back to snap the place, as it really is as far from a theme or fun pub as its possible to get. Just a tradition village pub, no food, a coal fire, good beer and friendly conversation.

I liked it.

Now, back to the camera.....

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Wednesday 29th January 2014


Four years ago, I began work, just for a few days, on the Thanet project, helping a local company to run some sonar lines in preparation for the substation to be installed. Those few days work began, for me, a link with the Thanet project that took me back in April to work for Vestas via an agency, and then they offered me a permanent job.

The fools.

Looking back at my blog posts for those days, I went from despair to elation as the result on a single phone call. And then as soon as the job began, we ran the lines and they never called me back. The bastards.

Anyway, four years on, I am linked to another project, and the planning for that is beginning to ramp up. as I knew it would. Exciting, but scary times. I won't say too much about the project, but rest assured that most of my work is now geared towards that end.

Yesterday, I went into the office at Ramsgate as I said I would take some CDs for a friend to copy. I did not call ahead, and found the monkeys (see previous post) on shore for the day, and training for them was planned. House training perhaps? So, I was given the service manager's office, which meant I could close the doors on the bastards when they got too much.

It was a grim day, the rain lashed down all day. When I looked out of the bedroom window first thing, there was no light to be seen in the east to indicate the coming of the day. What daylight there was, crept over the sky little by little as I drove to work.

It was back on the cross-trainer in the evening. I feel the benefits from it, but the allergy/cold meant that breathing was difficult as I neared the end of the session, but I completed the workout. Which is nice. The rest of the evening was spent listening to the radio as there was a night of Premier League matches, and City played The Toon. These days, following Norwich is really trying, they can't seem to put together two passes, shoot or have any of the passion which seemed to mark the Lambert era. I don't know what the answer is, or where to lay the blame, players, tactics or flatly with the manager. But it is not working, Newcastle hit the woodwork four times, out-shot Norwich by seven times, at least in the first half. The fans are getting restless. I am getting restless. The players turned on the fans. Dark days, but we escaped with a 0-0 and a point. Felt like a loss though.

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Tuesday 28th January 2014

And so to Monday morning.

And a day at work.

At home.

The cats dance in celebration.

Working from home is not that different from working in Ramsgate. Just no commute time, thus saving the money for fuel. There are no Monkeys, but there are cats. Monkey? I hear you cry. Yes, monkeys. I call the technicians monkeys as they behave like a whoop of baboons. I do know it is where they spend time when they cannot work offshore, but it is also a place of work. Many the time when I was in a meeting on the communicator I was asked if I was at either a railways station or airport due to the noise. So, now I have to pick and choose when I do go to Ramsgate when they are offshore.

So, that is why.

Inbetween working I make coffee, wash up, feed the cats, pet the cats, make more coffee, raid the fridge. And so passes the day. Only problem is that by quarter past four I lose what bandwidth I have so making working very time-consuming. So, at four fifteen, I have to switch off as uploading documents, or even saving documents on the Y drive is almost impossible.

After a simple dinner we head out for round one of the pub judging. Yes, I have volunteered to judge pubs for the local CAMRA branch, and so we have to make a start to ensure we get through all six of them in good time. First up is the daddy of them all, the one that usually wins, The Berry in Deal. Now, I don’t want to risk giving away how it went, but the good news is they had some beer, several in fact. And I tried some of them, and they were all tip top.

Jools came with me, so she drove back in the pouring rain. As I was full of beery goodness.

Monday, 27 January 2014

Monday 27th January 2014


Sunday broke with a stunning dawn. I go out onto the patio in by dressing gown to snap it. Turns out to be the only photos I will take over the weekend. Back inside I make a pot of coffee, and in change take a cuppa to Jools in bed, as she does it so often for me.

As there was no Prem to watch on TV and our interest in the Cup faded some ten days ago, instead of watching footy highlights, I watch a documentary on the search for King Alfred which taped during the week. What has become clear over the years is how incomplete my education was at school. I never studied the kings and queens of England, nor its associated history. And therefore it is only my love of such programs that fills in the voids in my knowledge.

Sunday Morning

The story of Alfred and his bones is an interesting one, but sadly unlike the story of Richard III, there was no confirmation of the bones recovered were of Alfred. But I did learn much of his life and the events he helped to shape. So, it would appear a trip to Winchester is called for, as this was the ancient capital of Wessex, where Alfred ruled from.

Whilst Jools went to visit Nan, I did another session on the cross-trainer. I still have either a cold or an allergy attack, so best not to spread any possible gems to her. That I now look forward to a work out, and now feel that I can’t go back to the lower level. So, just put on the headphones and get pumping that lard.

After lunch we head out into the pouring rain, in the car, and head to Deal so I can discuss beer. Yes, beer. I had been invited, along with other people from the CMRA group to discuss the judging on the POTY. And to have a drink. So, we chat in The Alma, and after an hour we make our excuses and head home. The rain falls just as heavy on the way home, and evening seems to be at least a couple of hours early.

I take up my place on the sofa to watch the Chelsea v Stoke game on ITV. I do snooze, but not much.

I follow many people on Twitter, and Marcus Brigstocke is one, and he had been tweeting about a thing he was doing, learning to do various winter sports. Turns out to be a reality TV show, which we try in the evening. What amazes me is who half these people are, as I have no idea who most of the faces are. One was in a boy band, another a fashion write, another a hairdresser. The former boy band member announced he has never skied before, which as he was about to compete in giant slalom was a bit of a disadvantage. And it got me thinking, is this what his life is like now, waiting for calls onto such shows , anything to avoid doing a real job? So, we watched the whole shoe, but the typical luvvie acts was all a little much, and so ends our brief foray into celeb-TV.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Sunday 26th January 2014

The weekend.

Did I mention I like weekends. I mean both Saturday and Sunday have exactly the same number of hours and minutes and probably seconds that weekday days have, but they're so much better. You know. However, I do find that unlike weekdays when I feel I could lay in bed until midday and begrudge getting out of bed for work. at weekends I normally find myself laying awake at half five so we can get he weekend going.

Am I alone in this?

I was just the same when i was a kid: how can I sleep when Noel Edmonds is on TV in less than three hours. CHEGGERS!

So, was lay in bed waiting for the heating to switch on at seven, try to ignore Mulder demanding food/attention/an elephant; we still have to work that out. So, up with the larks and then put some bird seed out of the living room window so the larks have something to eat when they get up. Otherwise those early-rising larks will sit outside our window and sing. In fact they sit outside our window and sing anyway. But, we do like to see the blackbirds, robins, doves, pigeons, magpies, jays, tits and other assorted birds come to the garden for food. As do the cats, and they even, on occasion, make half-hearted attempts to catch one of them. although Molly just sits near the window and chirrup.

After an emergency cup of coffee, I head out to tesco because we have no food/milk/cat food. So, its just gotta bed done. At eight, there's not many people around so I go round, get the stuff and am heading back to the car within half an hour. All was well except the elderly lady who had managed to park at the edge of her space, this leaving me hardly any room to get into my car. Don't worry, I swing my door open, force her wing mirror out of the way: it looked better on the ground anyway. That'll show here when she comes back out and I'm laughing at her from several miles away......

And then came the rain. So, I just listen to the radio, do a session on the cross trainer. Have a shower. phew. What a morning. Jools then takes me into town so I can drink some beer. Yes, let's spend Saturday afternoon in the rack of ale drinking beer and filling their application for an entry in the Good Beer Guide. I sit down with the owner, we go over the details and all seems set. Beer? Yes, I think a pint please.

Another pint?

Why not?

Oh, just one more point. and a pack of pork scratchings please.

Thankfully Jools came at two to rescue me from the beer monster. I had been burbling to an american couple, and we drop them off at the castle. I just hope it was there they wanted to go. Anyway, they seemed pleased. Or was that to get out of the car.....

Back home, I take to the sofa to listen to the football. And fall asleep.

We round off the day by watching the final two episodes of Edge of Darkness. It was OK, but a little disappointing. However, it was watched. And we watched it.

Friday, 24 January 2014

Friday 24th January 2014

I still have a job. And for that I am very thankful. I mean, there have been times these past few years when the threat of the sack, for no other reason than the bean counters see nothing more than we were over-staffed and so some folks will just have to lose their jobs. No, let me correct that, lots of folks had to lose their jobs.

If the worse thing I can complain about is that I have lost my desk at Ramsgate, then in the cosmic scale of things, then its not that much of a big deal, is it? No, it’s not. What it does mean on a day to day basis, when the wind blows and the monkeys are on shore, I will work from home. I will get up, connect the work laptop, and get to work. Heck, I might even put some pants on before lunch. Yes, that is my working life. My commute lasts from the time it takes to get my sorry ass out of my pit, stumble down the stairs to the dining room table. I mean, on occasion there is a cat in the way. Can you image how long that sort of thing can delay a trip to work?

Once the laptop is working, I go into the kitchen to make my second coffee of the day. I say second cup, as Jools brings me my first when I am still laying in bed listening to the early news. Covered in cats. I have another coffee. Maybe have some cereal. Or instant oats. I might put something on the I player, or maybe a CD. This is work.

Sometimes I go into Ramsgate just to remind myself of what work can be….. I do get stuff done when I’m at home. If the cats let me. I say that as the cats do like having me around, so they can meow. Meow at me, asking for, well, meow. Whatever meow is. They have the just the one word for everything in their world. That does not help. They sit on my laptop, look at me and say. Meow. What does that mean: do you find your life worthwhile? All that in one simple noise.

Probably they just want feeding. But you see I hide their food. Yes, I put their food where it always is, right there on the counter in the utility room. Just where it always is. And every time they are hungry, that seems to be the last place they can think of looking for it. Meow, they say.

Food? It’s on the counter.






Oh look, let me show you. I get up, walk into the kitchen, through into the utility room. And I point to the counter.


I pick the cat up, put it on the counter, point it to the overflowing bowl of food.


Which means, I’m not hungry. Apparently.

But it’s nearly the weekend. So, lets pack up the computer, put on some pants and do some other work related stuff. Like sit at the table doing stuff on the computer. My computer. But its my stuff. We might drink some beer. Take some photographs. Or travel to London. Or maybe even sit inside and watch the raindrops running down the outside of the window.

It is now the weekend. And in fact the weekend is already at least two hours old. I did go into the office today, and in commuting this morning I saw a splendid sunrise, which I reproduce for you here:

What's the Story

There, almost like being there.

Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Wednesday 22nd January 2014

There are times when I doubt that the fitness thing I have been doing is a waste of time. I do a session, and then what? Nothing seems to change. Or so it seems. And yet, someone has noticed. When I was in Denmark last week, a colleague asked how come other people put weight on at Christmas, and I have lost some. It was news to me. But also, good to hear.

I have noticed the tendency of my jeans to slip down, and need constant pulling up to keep my modesty (ahem) intact. I assumed that this was due to the ever-expanding belly, when it may seem that it is the exact opposite. Having to use a smaller notch in my belt just confirms this.

Strand Street

It is very early to be celebrating, but I am eating less, drinking far less beer (except when at CAMRA meetings, more of which later) and exercising of course. All good things for sure.

So, already looking forward to tonight’s session on the cross-trainer, as last night I upped the level on my usual session, and I still managed to complete the work-out. Good news. And there really is nothing quite like working out to some good tunes, like last night as I neared the end of the session, Mickey by Toni Basil came on, and that really has a great beat and was perfect to upping my workrate even higher.

Potter Street, Sandwich, Kent

I went back into the office yesterday in Ramsgate. Only now I have to go in and beg for a desk. It worked, well at least yesterday. I got plenty of work done, and chatted with the guys there. It was all rather pleasant I have to say. Driving into work was through varying amounts of fog and mist, which burnt off through the day to develop into a stunning winter’s day. I also got to hear all the latest rumours, which is always fun, even if what I heard I cannot repeat. Oh no.

Delf street, Sandwich, Kent

Monday I worked from home, and was bothered almost non-stop by the cats. Either food, attention or ‘something else’ was required. It was hard to ignore. Which is why I decided to go into the office so I would be distracted less, as I knew they monkeys would be offshore, so some work would be possible. After work on Monday, Jools dropped me in Sandwich at seven so I could attend a CAMRA branch meeting.

The Strand Wine Co., Sandwich, Kent

Now, although I do know they do a fine job, but sitting in on a branch meeting it is all a little earnest for me. But it has been about 15 months since I last went, so it could not be that bad could it? Yes it could, as internal politics took over, which descended into petty name calling and embarrassed looks all round by those not involved. Sigh.

Before the meeting I wandered the streets of Sandwich with my nifty fifty snapping away, which was the real reason I said I would go anyway. I promised myself that after walking the streets I would have a nice pint or two of warming ale once I got inside The Red Cow, where the meeting was going to take place.

I have no volunteered to help judge the pubs in the pub of the year contest, which mainly involves going to pubs drinking beer. The kind of work I like!

Monday, 20 January 2014

Monday 20th January 2014


Sleep. Sweet, sweet sleep. Despite being congested, I manage a decent amount of shut eye and so feel slightly more human. Doubly so after a damn fine cup of coffee. I then sat down to watch MOTD, happy that I did not have to watch City’s game through my fingers as this week we actually won. Whilst I watched the footy, Jools went out to do some work in the garden, which seemed a little unfair. So I baked a batch of mince pies with the last of the mincemeat we had. Soon the air was heavy with the heady aroma of spices. Yum.

The Lane

Once they were done, I climbed back on the cross trainer to do another session. I really am beginning to feel the benfits and notice some weight loss, so I don’t want to fall into the old trap of letting it slide again. So, I pumped that lard at some 60rpm, and I will up the level on my next session, which should be Tuesday.


After lunch of scrambled eggs and smoked salmon on fresh bread(!) we headed out for a walk through the mud over the fields.

The sun was out and there was just a gentle breeze blowing, it was altogether very pleasant. But the paths and fields were very mudding indeed, and in the dips and folds of the land mud had gathered to what look like several inches deep. We decided not to stray through these pools of mud, and instead were happy enough with views over the fields to the Channel beyond. We wandered back home and made a cuppa, and tried the mince pies, just for quality control purposes. Needless to say they passed.

Whilst listening to the footy on the radio, I cooked roast beef and steamed some veg. I tried to cut down on the amount, and that worked out well enough.

After dinner we sat down to watch Edge of Darkness on DVD, and outside a fox came to collect the left over roast potatoes I had just put out. All in all, not a bad day….

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Sunday 19th January 2014


Not much really to report about Saturday. Other than the cold that had been threatening all week followed through, and after a broken night's sleep on Thursday night, the hour's difference and then the 18 hour working day until I got home, and then on top of that just four hour's sleep on Friday night. Well, I was washed out and fit for nothing.

I spent the day in my dressing gown, listening to the radio and generally passing time in a non-productive manner. However, just before lunch I did go on the cross-trainer for a session, which was tough, but it did at least wake me up, and make me feel less guilty about snoozing through the afternoon.

Yes, Sunday afternoon means football on the radio. And the sofa. And some snoozing. I suppose I got an hour during the first game, but the tension of City's game against Hull and the importance of a win meant I was awake and concentrating on the news from Carrow Road. A goal four minutes from time by Ryan Bennett was enough to win the points for Norwich, but an unconvincing performance, but they did enough to get the points. Five points now separate the bottom 11 clubs in the Prem. It's going to be a long, long run in with many ups and downs.

Good news is the roof is still on the shed, and we hope the plants inside are going to survive the worst of the winter weather, if winter ever arrives here. As in the garden spring bulbs are inches above ground level, birds are getting frisky, and there were even a few insects about. Too early for spring?

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Saturday 18th January 2014


It never feels like its time to go to work when its still dark, no matter how much sleep you’ve had. Although I determined to lay in, I was awake at six in the morning, down for breakfast at half past, and in the office by seven. Much to my surprise, the spare wheel stayed on, and still felt like I had done the job properly.

I called the Danish version of the AA to see if they would come out to fix the car. In a word: no. I just have to live with a car with hundreds of horses under the bonnet and not being able to go over 80km/h. Hurrumph.

Work passed slowly, but the regular insertions of an unwanted meeting here and there meant the clock kept ticking. At five I decided I had had enough and tried to head home. It seems that by then the rush hour has passed, and it is a gentle run to the ring road then round to the hotel.

I booked dinner for six, something I have not needed to do before, but is necessary now due to the large number of handball players in the hotel. Anyway, I had an hour, and snoozed some, then at quarter to six, checked in online and selected my seat for the flight home. Although intending to have the pasta for a main, I heard my stomach demanding burger. OK, I had not eaten anything since fruit since breakfast, so what the hell.

Back in my room I switched the TV, and found Top Gear on. They had turned cars into locomotives; don’t ask, and now were trying to pull several caravans. Jezzer was going faster and faster in his jag, and was it only I who could see that a red signal was going to appear sooner or later? I don’t know, I have long since grown bored with this automotive Last of the Summer Wine and switched it over so I could watch Denmark play the Czech Republic in the handball.

With Denmark playing, of course, the arena was full and very noisy. It was a great game, which Denmark won by 5 goals, if that is what they are called. So I went to bed happy that I had seen them win.


I had another bad night’s sleep; the cold that has been threatening all week seemed to be closer. I was awake at three, four and by five it seems I was awake for good. At just before six I threw open the curtains to reveal three inches of snow on the ground, on the cars and snow still falling.


I said.

I packed, went to check out and then put my bags in the car. So at the same time I could clear all the snow away. If it was anything like Germany then all snow had to be cleared off. In fact most of it felt like slush, so it was clear that it might be melting soon. However, it was clear that the morning commute was going to be ‘interesting’.

Audi A4 S line TDi

I had breakfast and watched the national news at the same time. The news seemed to be mainly pictures of policemen looking at motorways covered with 2cm of snow, and said motorways taped off so closed. You know, we Brits like to think that it is only us that cannot cope with a few flakes of snow. When in fact I have seen the same scenes in France, Belgium and Germany, so maybe we’re not so bad after all.

Once out on the road, there were tracks made of frozen slush, but I got to work without incident, and seemed to be one of the first people in. I parked up, and went to work in the communal office, but not before grabbing a strong coffee.

The day passed well enough being filled with meetings. I got the task for the project done, the first of my official communications to the customer. Nothing grand, but this is still serious stuff. I now have a credit card with which I can purchase meals from the canteen, so at lunch I was able to join the others for a fine meal for 25DKK.

And then it was time to head to the airport. Everyone was telling me to allow an extra hour for the trip due to the tales this morning on the radio of jack-knifed trucks and cars.

Driving in what amounted to be a blizzard, and that I was restricted to just 80kmh due to the spare wheel, I was by some margin the slowest vehicle on the roads, and it was hairy at times as lorries and trucks inched past me, as I cruised down the motorway towards the airport. I was glad to turn off, but then I was left with the Danish version of boy racers tailgating me in the vain hope of making me go faster.

Thing is, driving so slow is so dull, and me being so tired, I was wandering all over the road, but managed to catch myself before I drove into a field or something.

I arrived at the airport, walked to the terminal building and then had to fill in an accident report form for the flat tyre. I could then check in, drop my bag and then go through security to the departure lounge and have a drink at the gastrobar. Pav was there and so we wished each other a happy new year and swapped news.

On the plane, I sat next to a guy I have met a few times; he works for Lego and he told me his news. Well, I said it must be a big year for Lego, what with The Simpsons sets coming out soon. He told me that a test set was sent to one of their factories in Mexico, but the package was broken into somewhere en route, and the figures taken out, and within an hour on sale on e bay. Also, of course there is the Lego Movie coming out, and he was able to watch it this week and reports it is very good too.

Anyway, by the time of take-off, the snow was falling hard and I was anticipating a rough trip. But, once we got above the clouds, it was smooth, and I soon nodded off. When I awoke, I could see the twinkling lights of Lowestoft in the distance as we made our way down the North Sea. We edged closer to the coast, Felixstowe and Harwich were clear as a bell, and we almost flew right over Clacton. I could make out the pier and the flashing lights of the amusement arcades. Away to the south, the town lights got denser and denser, until the lights of London filled the horizon. It looked for all the world like diamonds sprinkled on a black velvet bag. Quite magical.

Down and down we went, over the south Essex coast, over the Isle of Grain and into Sussex. We must have been in a hold, but we turn 180 degrees, and fly back over Grain before heading along the Thames. I was sitting on the other side of the aircraft, so I got a different view as we headed on final approach, but during the turn, I saw, rising almost yellow above Southend and the expanse of mud flats, was the full moon, shining so brightly.

Son, the moon was behind us, as we swept lower, sitting on this side of the aircraft meant not seeing the ground from the side until we were almost touching down, giving the impression that we were going to ditch in the old dock. But we landed safe and sound.

Oce out of the plane, we had a short wait at immigration. I looked at my watch, just enough time to get to Stratford if the DLR was waiting..... It almost was, and I thought I stood a chance. I had to be at Stratford by seven fifteen really, to give me time to get down to the platform.

As it turned out, I missed the dover train by 20 seconds. Or it had left 20 seconds before I even got into the station. Drat. So, I shrugged, no point in getting angry. I go to the coffee shop for an Americano, and check the news. Not much has happened; the world is both a wonderful and cruel place.

I caught the train to Margate, getting off at Ashford. I even got a seat for once, which is nice, but there is little to see out of the windows, just my reflection looking back at me, with the lights of South Essex speeding past.

At Ashford, the moon cannot be seen any more, and it feels cool, but not as cold as Denmark. I listen to a banker boasting to his friends how he had spent $500 on a round of drinks in Vegas. It sounded crass and vulgar. Which it was.

And onto the Dover train after a ten minute wait. Rain ran down the outside of the windows, getting ever harder. By the time the train limped into Priory, it was like a monsoon. I ran outside to where Jools was waiting, and threw my bags in the back of the car. Driving home, the wipers could barely cope and the roads were turning to rivers. Welcome home, Ian.

But we got home safe, after driving at 30mph, and there was just enough time to put the kettle on before it was time for bed. Another week done.....

Friday, 17 January 2014

Friday 17th January 2014

It being a Tuesday must mean it is time to head to Denmark.

And being still January, it is still mighty dark at five in the morning when the alarm goes off. Even the cats are still sleeping. So, I have a coffee and some fruit, then it is time to head to the station.

Outside the rain was hammering down. The forecast was for sunshine during the day, maybe even by seven; it seemed unlikely. Jools dropped me at the station, I unload my cases, including the lovely new one we had to buy as I managed to wreck one last week on the way out. I get the tickets and so sit on the platform waiting for the train to London. It’s bad enough to do this every week, some folks, most of the folks on the train, do this every day. It seems to be grim. As we head to Folkestone then Ashford we pick up more passengers, and the train is pretty much full.

It is getting light as we head towards Ebbsfleet, and so I can see something of the countryside, in fact the rain clouds have cleared and the sky is a wonderful deep blue. All too soon we head into the tunnel that takes us under East London to Stratford, and it is time for me to get off.

Once on the DLR the guard strikes up a conversation, asking where I was going, then what I did, and it made such a pleasant change to have human contact, the journey to the airport flew. My stock answer when someone asks me what I do is that I annoy the Daily Mail, I then explain I put up wind turbines. Most people ask about whether what they had read in the right wing press is true of not, so I tell them the company line, tell them about reliability and investors getting their money back in 9 year. The whole nine yards. And he said, like most folks do, I see what they are good, but they destroy views. And so I give him another stock answer: people don’t complain about pylons do they? Maybe we should put up a turbine beside each pylon.

He thought about it and said, hmmm, that is true; wonder why that is…..

Anyway. I arrived at the airport to find it almost deserted; it is why I like to travel on a Tuesday. I get my boarding card, walk to one of the three free desks to check my bag in, go upstairs to security, walk right to the scanners, and I’m through in about 5 minutes. Time then for breakfast, and a nice eggs benedict and a huge coffee. That is so much better.

I get out WSC to read whilst I wait for the flight to be called; the lounge is very quiet, so I have a fine choice of seats for a change. There were just nine of us on the flight, and once aboard we were soon having the safety brief whilst the engines started and we began to move off. We took off heading west so that when we turned to head north-east we got a fine view of the city bathed in glorious winter sunshine. Trust me to have forgotten my camera!

As usual we headed up along the A12, flying over Shenfield, Chelmsford, Colchester, Ipswich before heading out over the sea by overflying Orford Ness. All of East Suffolk and Est Essex was bathed in sunshine, but further up the coast from Orford Ness, I could just make out Southwold peeking out from under the clouds, and beyond a hint of Oulton Broad reflecting the sky in its still waters. Down there is my Mother and a good friend, and yet here I am I 31,000 feet up, sipping orange juice and munching on pretzels. As you do.

I read some more as we flew over the North Sea, only to find Denmark covered in thick cloud, and once we had descended through the cloud, it was cold, grey and raining.

Once down and off the plane, I collect my case and make my way to the car hire place. Only to find they are short of cars and so are having to upgrade me to an Audi A4. Hmmmmm.

I sign the paperwork before they can change their minds, and I scamper off with the keys. Not only is it an A4, it is the sporty model too. Vroom, VROOM!

It made short work of the trip up the Aarhaus, and it was a pleasure to put my foot down and see the needle leap up and up. This was way too much fun…..

When I walked into the hotel, I knew there was something different. Hmm, what could it be? Oh yes, dozens of fit looking people wearing skin-tight sportswear. There were various European flags everywhere, new keycards and the staff wearing themed t shirts. Seems like the European Men’s Handball Championships are being held here in Denmark; and many of the teams are staying at the Scandic West.

I have played handball once, when I went to Germany on an exchange trip, with our exchange partners we went to various lessons, including sports, which meant an ‘us v them’ handball match. They had been playing for years, we had only been made aware of the game that morning. Needless to say West Germany cruised to an easy win.

I can’t say I understand the finer points of the game, I did try to watch a game during dinner, but it had me lost. So, two teams play something that looks slightly like basketball, as fast as that, and teams run up and down, throwing this little ball around. The crowd was getting very excited about it all, which as Denmark were playing is just as well. Denmark did win, which is always good for a competition.

I arrived at the hotel to be told that due to the handball, space in the restaurant was limited; so I booked a table for half five, dropped my bags in my room, and after freshening up, went down to eat. As I had not eaten since breakfast, I thought what the hell; beer and burger then! The soup was mushroom, which on top of beer and brewer’s yeast was risking gout a little too much so I had cured tuna. Cue the joke, I don’t know the tuna was ill!

Back to the room to settle down and follow the FA cup game via the BBC website and via Twitter. As I am not in UK, the commentary was not available to me, and the game wasn’t live on TV, or not the channels I had on my room. And what a dreadful experience it was, as despite starting bright enough, City grew ever more timid before conceding two goals late in the first half, and even by then we knew it was game over. In the end, Fulham scored a third and that’s the dream over for another year. Even my mate, Ian, has lost patience and is calling for change. Whether the axe falls before or after Saturday’s must win game against Hull is all that is needed to be decided. Sometime appointments work, sometimes they don’t. I have heard from a friend I have no reason to doubt, that City have already approached Malky and his team from Cardiff. Wouldn’t surprise me, but the silence regarding what has been happening is deafening.

Once the final whistle went, I switched the computer off and tried to go to sleep. I need sleep.

I could feel I had either an allergy attack coming on, or it was a cold or flu. The first line of defence is some anti-allergy pills, in my case in the hotel room. So I decided to leave work at four so I could beat the worst of the traffic.

I went to the car, loaded my bag and that is when I noticed the flat tyre.


Yep, no getting away from it, that tyre is flat, even if it is just at the bottom. So, I get the wheel and tools out of the boto to work everything out. Next get the instruction book to find the jacking point.

One last check that the tyre was flat, and away we go.

Undo the wheel nuts.

And jack the car up.

And up.

I jiggle the alloy wheel to break the cold weld. And try to wrench the tyre off. It was going nowhere. Then I remembered that I needed to take the nuts all the way off!


The wheel came off. I popped the donut, spacesaver, on. Did the bolts hand tight, lowered the car, tightened the bolts. Packed the car, checked the bolts again.

And into the car, start the engine and away we go. And to my surprise, the wheel did not fall off, and the ride was quite smooth. Although the traffic was heavy, I got back to the hotel in about 15 minutes. I was soaked from laying on the ground, sneezing heavily from the allergy, and I just wanted a shower and a snooze.

Imagine my surprise to find the doorway to the hotel blocked by several man-mountains;l in other words the Russuan handball team. None seemed less than 2m tall and as wide as a wide thing. Turns out they were just heading out to the stadium for that night’s game against Croatia. In fact, the game was on TV as I ate my dinner: Ribs washed down with a large glass of Christmas beer. It was an exciting game, but not so exciting that I watched the end when I went back to my room. Russia won 27-25, and very good I am sure it was too.

And that was it for an exciting Wednesday.


Monday, 13 January 2014

Monday 13th January 2014


It would be easy to lay in bed, snoozing half the morning, covered in cats. But, we get up at seven, have coffee then we both do a session on the cross-trainer, then we can have a shower and then have breakfast. When i come down from the shower, Jools is on the phone to gary: do I want to go out and look for Nuthatches?

Well, we did have a list of things to do, not least repair the shed roof. But what the heck!

Great Tit Parus major

At ten Gary comes round and I load five kilos of camera gear into his car, and we set off for the other side of Canterbury. There was just one other person in the wood, and he soon left. So, we set our tripods up at either end of a tree trunk which had fallen in some recent storm. And then we wait.

Robin Erithacus rubecula

And we wait some more.

The air is thick with birdsong, and looking up I can see various tits flying about, even a couple of nuthatches going from tree to tree. I do get shots of a Great Tit, a Robin and a Coal Tit, all I had to show for 90 minutes standing around, waiting. But, it was good to get out, and for the most part we stood in some nice winter sunshine.

Gary drops me back home at midday, and I head into the kitchen to make bacon butties with the last of the Christmas stock. Nothing wrong with bacon butties and a pint of tea!

Then it was repair shed roof time. In truth I had been putting it off for a while. However, once we got all the tools together, worked out a plan of how to carry out the task. And we got down to it. I measured the sheet twice, then cut it with the stanley knife. I took a couple more session of whittling to get the sheet to the right size. Just to fix the battens in place, hammer them down. And it was all done.

Roof repaired

I don't think Jools was convinced, she even went out in the evening to check. But the panel was still there.

We went to see Nan. She is settling down, and I think she doesn't think it too bad now. But it has taken a shit-o-gram to the owners for the staff to begin taking notice and doing something like their job. Anyway, Nan is getting good care, and she is fairly happy about things.

Last thing to do on Sunday was to watch the final part of this run of Sherlock. And a fine ending it was, but the thought of having to wait another 49 weeks to find out what happens in the cliff-hanger. Well, its what TV does, isn't it?


And just time to say that I cleared my desk in Ramsgate today. They are employing more techs at Thanet, and need the desk space. Even so I am not happy about it, especially as I have been told there are no free desks in Arhaus either. So at the end of the day, I pack my stuff in a box and load the car. I won't miss the monkeys, but I will miss the view, and the commute listening to the radio. Well, I will be working from home more, when I'm not in Denmark.

Or Sweden.

Or Germany.

Or Spain.

Off to Denmark again tomorrow, so I will speak to you again at the weekend. Be good.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Sunday 12th January 2014


Let me just say that I was glad to see the end of the working week on Friday. After a dreadful night's sleep on Thursday night, it was some relief to switch the computer off just before two so I could snooze on the sofa listening to the tones of the two doctors on the radio. Although I won't see many of the films they talk about, it is refreshing that a national broadcaster can dedicate two hours of prime time to these two bicker about films. But then they then give Danny Baker two hours on a Saturday morning to talk to the nation about whatever takes his fancy.

But I digress.

We had pasta covered by the sauce Jools made with the courgettes during the week, some nice bread and a glass of wine. And then we settled down to watch a recording of the New Year's concert from Vienna. I feel bad that we did not watch it live, but we were busy doing 'stuff' I guess. So anyway, we waltzed our way through the evening, in our minds if not actually dancing round the living room. And both of us shattered, we headed to bed just gone nine.


And to our first trip to London Town of the year. Our plan was to visit the Temple Church, made famous more recently as a setting for The Da Vinci Code, and a building I have failed to get in at all. So, last month I wrote to the churchwarden to get opening times, and what he told us was that it should be open from 11-5 on Saturday. So, I planned a trip along the Thames into the City, visiting many churches that survived or didn't survive the blitz.

Saturday morning, Dover Priory Station

Down to London for the quarter to eight train; the rain was hammering down and so we hoped the BBC would be right about the clouds clearing later. It is always goo to see the trains arrive and depart, so I got my camera out and took a few shots, including the one we would ride on to London, named after double olympic gold medalist, Mo Farrah. And soon Mo was speeding us northwards heading towards the capital and where I thought we should find breakfast. As I had not been hungry at half sx, but was very hungry indeed by half eight.

Sir John Betjeman

And so once we arrived at St pancras, we made our way to Carluccio's for breakfast with a (supposed) Italian tang. I had eggs royale, that is poached eggs with smoked salmon; a perfect breakfast, washed down with two cups of strong coffee.

View from the Breakfast Table

And so on with the show! And first up to check on how the work is progressing on the square in front of King's Cross; is it me or is the work apparently going backwards? Anyway, a long way from being the clean open space that we had been promised; for last summer!

All Hallows by the Tower, City of London

A quick dive onto the tube and whisk round to Tower Hill, and heading the opposite way to the crowds who were all heading to the Tower itself, we were going to the church just upstream; All Hallows by the Tower.

All Hallows by the Tower, City of London

When looking through Nan's shots, I came across a shot of the inside of the church, and so wanted to see how it had been rebuilt after the damage it suffered during the blitz. It was open, and we had the place to ourselves for a while, until a Japanese family came in to, and I was distracted to watch the father try to take shots with his i pad. Still, the maritime history of the church was stunning, but even more breathtaking were the Roman remains found underneath the church when it was rebuilt in the 1950s; a roman road, all tesselated, and various bowls, dishes as well as saxon stone carvings too. All wonderful stuff.

All Hallows by the Tower, City of London

We headed down Lower Tames Street, me searching for some of the other churches a glance at the A-Z had revealed. And a short walk up a side street brought us to the ruins of St Dunstan in the East. Now a park, contained within the bombed out shell of a fine church.And all looked over by the undamaged tower, looking like a smaller brother of the one at Faversham.

Further along we go to find St Mary on the Hill, but find it locked fast with no sign of life. But a little way further up the hill is St Margaret Pattens, which as ever isopen, and worth revisiting.

We walk further down and eventually find our way blocked by a vehicle only tunnel, and so we have to take to the Thames path. At least by now the sun is fully out and the day is almost warm in the sunshine. Of course alongside the river we pass more and more people, which I guess is ok, but we kinda like our own company.

Anyway, it was getting near to opening time, and our destination, initially, was The Black Friar, a fine pub next to Blackfriars station. We climb up the steps from the river and then over the busy road from the bridge to the pub.

The Black Friar, Blackfriars, London

I ordered a very good pint of mild, then after checking the menu had a plate of nachos and another pint to wash them down with. Now that's a very fine lunch indeed. And so, off the final push to the Temple Church. Down Victoria Embankment, up through the park, along a narrow passageway, and there it is. I walk right up to the door and push. It's won't open.

I push some more, but it is clearly locked. Another couple also trying to get in say there's was something about a wedding.


Here we are again, outside the Temple and we can't get in.

Back outside the Inns of the Court, along Strand and on to Charing Cross Road to find a tube station take us back to St Pancras. I have another thought, see if there is one leaving from Charing Cross.

There is, and so we take the slow train back home, me, full of disappoinment about the Temple, and just wanting to get home having spent another £70 on trying to get into that bloody church.

To make matters worse, Norwich fail to show up at Everton and although lose just 2-0, the failure to compete just makes my mood darker. Of well, it's just a game.

Once home we decide to eat out, and so we go down into the bay for fish and chips at the Coastguard. We almost have the place to ourselves, such are things in a holiday area out of season. But the fish is fresh and cooked to a turn. We share a cheeseboard to finish, and I risk gout with a large glass of red wine.

It was that kind of day.

Friday, 10 January 2014

Friday 10th January 2014

The bane of any modern business and those who work in it to grease the wheels of industry is the business meeting. Now, some meeting are essential, some may be important, but if you’re not careful your working day becomes filled with meeting, writing minutes, reading minutes, so that no actual work is possible.

I say this as my trip to head office this and next week will be filled with meetings. In truth all have a purpose and are important in their way, but or core functions are carrying on regardless. So, we catch up when we can.

Some 15 months ago our department consisted of my boss and me. And then we got someone else. He then took charge. We then got two then three QC inspectors. Then another one. Now there are over ten of us. And still we’re snowed under. At this rate we’ll have to book Wembley stadium for our department meetings in a year!

So, anyway, the day passed broken up with a heavily subsidised meal at lunch. More work chat during lunch and then more meetings in the afternoon. Phew.

During the day, I got a message from my old RAF mate, Shaggy, that he would pick me up at seven from the hotel. All I had to do was get back to the hotel in two hours. It was something of a surprise then to find all of Denmark, apparently, in a traffic jam queued up on the road outside our headquarters. And I had to get through it. Now, Denmark is not the most densely populated country, and so the thought of traffic jams there seems odd. But talking to the folks in the office it seems the two planners give little thought to infrastructure when allowing new businesses to set up, and as they like them to be in the same area; result is traffic jams.

Hire Car

So I inched back to the hotel, in a heavy rainstorm.

At seven Shaggy turned up, and we headed into downtown Aarhus. It’s a nice town, but getting around can be hard. And worse in the dark and rain. But he had a sat nav, and we found the street where the Thai place was. And right outside was a parking place, so we were set, with enough time for a quick beer before hand. Now, as nice as this quite clearly was, the thought of me driving down into the centre of town for a meal or a beer when I’m on my own in the hotel is just silly. Although the food in the hotel is just about passable, I really cannot be arsed to head out in the car to find somewhere else, as the centre is some 4Km away, I was told by my boss that the area isn’t safe at night; hence the barbed wire fence and sliding steel gates around the hotel car park.

Anyway, we have a nice beer then head to the Thai place for a splendid meal: I have something like crispy duck, which was wonderful, quite the best I have ever had, and all for a pittance (for Denmark). Well worth heading out for one night, anyway. I have orange juice instead of beer, and so further evidence that I am treating gout seriously. My enjoyment of the meal and evening was not compromised….

Thursday morning I wake up, shower, pack, get dressed, check out and head for breakfast. And I bump into Mr Wonderful himself, Mr J. Well, as Jools says, some people suck the life out of a room, and some people just light it up. So it’s the latter with Mr J. We eat together, swap news, and I tease him I have been offered another job just to wind him up. Come and work on…. And he goes on to list three UK based projects he is attached to. But I say my future is in Holland with my 43 WTG baby….

So, I drive into work in the dark and in a torrential downpour. It’s not nice as I struggle to see the correct route through the hosuing estates so to dodge the major jams on the main road north. I do find it, and so am at work by half seven.

More meetings.

Another heavily subsidised lunch.

Time to head to the airport at half one.

Back into the driving rain and onto the Danish road system. I had given myself plenty of time to get to the airport, so I could drive safely, and almost enjoy the drive to Billund.

After dropping the car off, I check in, go through security, and take up a place at the gastrobar, where I order a large Christmas beer. Perfect.


Looking outside the rain poured down still, and the wind was raging too. I doubted whether our little plane might take off, but according to the departure board there were no delays.

So, the flight was called and we went to the gate. It all seems so very normal to me now. Commuting to Denmark most weeks. But I still am thrilled to be climbing on a plane and heading home to see Jools and them cats. I love looking out of the window seeing western Europe pass below us. Although yesterday Europe was hidden mostly by clouds.

However, once we headed towards the Essex coast the clouds cleared, and down below I could see the regular lights of an offshore windfarm, and a little later we passed over Shoebreyness and then Southend before heading south to fly over Grain and along the Thames swooping over the Dartford crossing and getting lower and lower as we approached Greenwich and the airport.

And we were down. All in one piece and just wanting to get off, through immigration and onto a train back home. For once there was little queues at immigration, and as I walked to the DLR station a train to Stratford was announced. I made it up the stairs and onto the train. At which point I checked my watch to see if I would make the Dover train at twenty past seven: I had twenty five minutes. In other words, I would have about 5 minutes to spare! Not only that the train was almost empty for once, so I got a seat, and so could rest my aching back.

At Stratford I walked to the Southeastern station, went down onto the platform with four minutes to spare, and when the train arrived there were plenty of empty seats for all of us who were waiting. I slumped into a seat, texted Jools to let her know I had made it onto the train so she would be waiting for me at Dover.

And then the darkness surround the train as we headed through east London in a tunnel towards Dagenham, over the Essex marshes, under the Thames and into Kent. I dozed as Kent slipped by. Through Ashford, past the Channel Tunnel and Folkestone, along the coast and into Dover.

And there, high above the town, was the castle, the sign that I was home once again…..

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Thursday 9th January 2014

Apparently, the first Monday of the new year is called Blue Monday, as it is the most miserable day of the year. What with resolutions in full swing, back to work, and the fact the worst of the winter is yet to come. Probably. As I was heading to Denmark on Tuesday, and I knew because of the wind howling outside, that the monkeys would be onshore and creating hell, doubly so it being their first day back. So, I decided to work from home instead. I lay in bed whilst Jools got ready, she brought me a coffee, and at seven I got up, put on my dressing gown and went downstairs, turned on the computer and logged on to work.

Now that is a good commute.

At then the new shed roof was delivered, but the company had failed to cut it to the right size, so any thought of installing it that day was out. As it needs to be trimmed. Oh well.

A few weeks ago, back in November I guess, I received another letter from the bank asking if I wanted to claim about mis-sold PPI insurance. I thought, why not? What’s the worse they could say? No? So, I filled in the form, and last month a guy from the bank called and discussed the issue, and after an hour said he would let me know. And yesterday I received another letter saying they are going to repay me some £1200 and with compound interest, have £1500! Result. So, we have paid the credit cards off and so can start the year on an even keel!

In the evening, I did another session on the cross-trainer, and then cooked something healthy; grilled chicken and lentils, washed down with fruit juice! I really am taking this gout thing seriously!

The alarm went of on Tuesday morning at five; outside the wind was howling and the rain hammering down. The last thing I felt like doing was head to Denmark, but I had no choice really. We got up, made breakfast, I checked my cases to make sure the essentials were there. And then it was time to leave, say goodbye to the kitties who were being all cute. Anyway, its just for a couple of days this time, guys.

The train fare has gone up £4 to £83, which still does not sound that bad, as it takes me right to the airport. Anyway, I wait on the platform as the regular travellers turn up, nod greetings or buy coffee. I get a seat on the left side of the train, without a window post to spoil the view; my chosen spot every time. The left sides has views over Shakespeare Beach, Samphire Hoe, the Folkestone Harbour Branch, the M20 north of Ashford, you can look over the Dartford Crossing and stunning vistas over Rainham marshes With Canary Wharf and the Shard in the background. Sadly, this time of year, most of it is shrouded in darkness, yet dawn was not far away as we rattled over Rainham Marshes, and I could see the anti-collision lights atop Canada Tower winking in the warm glow of sunrise.

A quick walk to the DLR once we were at Stratford, along to the airport. And I manage to fall down the escalator, breaking the telescopic arms of one of my cases. Oh bugger. I bodge it, and one of the arms fails to collapse into the case; it’ll have to do.

At least on a Monday, the airport is fairly quiet; no queues at all, and I’m sitting down for breakfast within ten minutes of arriving at the airport having checked in, gone through security and checked the flight board for delays.

No suitcases for sale at the airport, so I have to make do with using the arms as extended handles, and hope it’ll fit in the hold. It does.

Once aboard the plane, it all comes back to me, the commute to Denmark, refusing the in-flight meal, trying to sleep. But once in the air we are being thrown around like riding on a very angry kangaroo. The wind is strong as we climb through the clouds so I grab hold of the seat in front until my fingers go white. I really don’t want to die……

But it settles down once we clear the clouds, and we leave old windy blighty way below. I look back as we head over the North Sea, the clouds had cleared enough to see us flying over Orford Ness, but up along the coast Lowestoft is shrouded in clouds way below….

Once we land, I stay in my seat. I mean, theres less than 20 of us on the flight, how crowded is immigration going to be? Not very it turns put. Anyway, I head to the cire hire place, pick up the keys to a Citroen C4, and I walk off into the car park to find it. Once I do, I find its an auto, with comedic results until I learn to keep my left foot off the break. All is good for a blast to Esbjerg to see if I can make the half one meeting.

I do make it with 5 minutes to spare, only to find it has been cancelled. I write some mails, catch up with the guys there, hand over my smuggled Curly Wurlys, and decided what with the rain hammering down, I would head back to Arhus whilst there was still some light available. So I bid my farewells and set off into the dusk for the hour drive.

I find the hotel, check in, and wait for my friend, Shaggy, to call as he is supposed to be meeting me tonight. But he does not call or mail. So I head down to dinner at half six, and treat myself to a Christmas ale and a burger. I have not eaten much all day so I say blast the gout! And the burger is good.

And so to the loneliness of the hotel room. I listen to the latest Radcliffe and Maconie show, follow the football via Twitter and the BBC. The evening passes….

Monday, 6 January 2014

Monday 6th January 2014

Yes, after nine hours sleep, I did feel human again, and the day seems so much better when well rested. We managed to be out of the house by eight fifteen as we both decided our rampant manes needed taming. SO I dropped jools of in Ladywell and I went to Cherrytree to be shorn and get my dose of abuse. Yes, abuse. Allan, who owns the shop, arrives early and complains and swears about everything. It really is part of the experience of getting a haircut, and to be without it would be like having apple pie with no custard.

We then head back home as the wind is howling again, and the forecast is for yet more rain. Jools then heads out to visit Nan and do other chores, whilst I stay home, do a session on the cross-trainer and prepare lunch. And it being FA cup 3rd round weekend, it means listening to the radio or watching a game well into the evening.

There'll be Mackerels Over the White Cliffs of Dover.....

City stumbled to a 1-1 draw against Fulham, which means we will have to go through it again next week. Elsewhere there were thrills and upsets, but for the most part it didn’t seem as thrilling as it should. If the clubs don’t take it seriously anymore, why should we?

That evening we watched Monsters Inc. which Jools had not seen before, and which she loved.

Mackerel Fence

While outside the wind howled some more and the rain hammered down. But we still have 66% of the shed roof, with the replacement panel due to arrive this week……

Sunday morning, South Foreland, St Margaret's-at-Cliffe

Sunday dawned bright and calm. So after a breakfast of yet more bacon butties, we head out to South Foreland for a walk along the cliffs. The sun was low but bright, and with the wind gentle it was glorious to be out. However, soon high level mackerel clouds rolled over, casting everything under a pale shadow, but the patterns in the sky were very photogenic…….

A quick walk to Fan Bay and back, then back in the car and home for a warming coffee.

Sunday morning, South Foreland, St Margaret's-at-Cliffe

The rest of the day was spent listening to more football on the radio and scanning Nan’s documents and photos. We have been bit by bit, bringing Nan’s stuff to ours to sort through, and I have been scanning the interesting stuff and photos. We have learned much about Jools’ great-grandfather and his upbringing in London , his education and how he then joined the Metropolitan Police then transferred to Dover. It was with wealthy benefactors funding what was called a ragged school, set up to educate the great Victorian unwashed, that gave him his education, allowed him to be in a position to join the police. And without that he would have remained living in poverty in Southwark, as would his descendants. So, we all have cause to thank the Ragged School Union.

On the beach

We ended the weekend, after a dinner of steak and ale pie, by watching the latest Sherlock, and nothing is funnier than drunk Sherlock we found. However, Sherlock high on crack might be even better, of course. Interesting that this reimagining does not have Sherlock as an addict. Still, the latest episode was a vast improvement on last week’s. We went to bed happy enough.

And that's yer lot until Friday as I'm back to the frozen north on the morrow. Toodle pip.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Not up for the cup

The first weekend of the New Year is when the 3rd round of the FA Cup is played. In years, decades, gone by, this is when giant-killing acts take place, radio commentators talk about the romance of the cup mention the phrase 'cup fever' a regular intervals.

But in truth the shine has been taken off the Cup for a while; only one replay allowed, that time Man Utd were allowed NOT to take part, and now teams use the cup not as a means to obtain glory, but to test new players or rest their regulars.

The fact that many clubs are not taking the 'worlds oldest football competition' seriously, and so fans are beginning to be turned off it to. The Cup IS the world's oldest football competition, and the FA can trace this back to the first time it was run in 1871. It should be a slam dunk to make this compulsive viewing, but it isn't. In a world where some players get £300,000 a week for kicking a ball about, and survival in the Premier League, or progressing in the Champions League means millions or tens of millions of pounds heading their way, is it any surprise that Paul lambert said what many have us gotten the impression of these past few years: that the cup is an inconvenience, and Premier League managers would rather do without it.

For my team, their greatest moments have come in The Cup; knocking out Liverpool in 1908 to beating the Busby Babes 3-0 in 1959, Carrow Road used to rock on its foundations come cup time. Yesterday, we hosted Fulham at the Carra, and just 21,000 turned up. Better than at many grounds were attractive games were witnessed by banks of empty seats, and goals celebrated with a attitude that suggested they knew it didn't really matter. Games were played at the pace of a pre-season friendly, with the result to be avoided wasn't a defeat, but a draw.

The draw was made Sunday afternoon with 5 ties still to be played, which made quite a mess of the draw with lots of ifs and ors. Would it have been so hard to have it when all the games today had finished?

Football is in a mess. But football,especially the Premier League sees only wonderful things. It covets money over sporting competition, and The Premier League, like European Football exists to maintain the status quo rather than encourage a new team to join the elite top four. Because the sponsors want to see the same teams in Europe of on Super Sunday week in week out, that's what happens. Last season Norwich finished in 11th place, just 7 places shy of being in the Champions League. But Norwich have no hope of ever qualifying for that, as the players needed to bridge that gap would cost so much. You need to be already in the CL to afford to pay their wages, or have a rich sugar daddy to pick up the bill.

In draws for the CL and major International competitions, the draws are rigged, or in the case of the CL a league system has been brought in so to smoothe out the occasional rogue result. Once the league phase has finished, clubs know that in the draw they can't draw this club, or that club. All this does is make almost certain the biggest most successful clubs progress year after year, so they can pick up more and more prize money so they can go and hoover up the top talent from their challengers.

When a sport forgoes sporting chance to chase big bucks it is dead. Or dying. Nothing in football is going to change much, if at all. Folks at work find it odd that I don't support Man Utd or Chelski or Citeh or whoever in Europe. Things is if any English teams win it, it makes absolutely no difference to the rest of the Premier League at all. All I ask is that I am entertained when I watch a game. And as all domestic football is pretty much on sports channels and in 18 months we will be denied just on CL game a week as it moves lock, stock and suitcase stuffed full of cash to BT sports, I won't be watching any European football at all.

If people are being priced out of going to see the game in person by £50 tickets, and will be priced out from even watching it on TV. If this is the case then how will the next generation get to love the game? Without the next generation, the game will wither, and the rich and the great will also lose interest. What then the Cup?

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Saturday 4th January 2014


And with the wind blowing once more, it was an interesting drive to work, and then just me and the employer's monkeys in the office. And Tony has them doing all jobs all afternoon. I created a lovely new spreadsheet to help me keep the information in other spreadsheets accurate.

Ramsgate, Kent, 3rd January 2014

I check the weather and tide times and i find that the maximum winds coincide with the high spring tide. Even better as midday came round, the clouds parted and the sun shone. The light was fantastic. I walked to the end of the harbour wall to snap the waves coming through the breakwater. In fact, as the wind was in the SW, and that meant that Thanet is mostly in the lea of the wind, so the waves that were battering the west coast, were not going to affect us.

Ramsgate, Kent, 3rd January 2014

As well as work, I investigate gout. I can't ignore the fact that I had an attack, and so might get another. I find out that the absolutely worse thing I can eat or drink is BEER! Oh no. Well, not quite true, as offal, sweetbreads and tripe are the worse, followed by Bovril and beef tea, then beer. Seems it is the brewer's yeast you see. I can drink it, but in even more moderation than before, and accompanied by lots of water. I can eat meat, but just 6oz a time. And avoid cauliflower, peas, asparagus and spinach. The rest is pretty obvious, except white bread rather than brown or wholemeal. So, we shall see.

I am getting twinges in either big toe, so I think it better to be cautious now rather than have to do it as a result of another attack. We shall see.....

Ramsgate, Kent, 3rd January 2014

Oh and i have to lose weight and the usual stuff. All what I know of course.

So, for dinner we have mozzarella and tomatoes, and I have a glass of wine rather than beer. And that requires no cooking and we can be sitting down and relaxing soon after we finish. Phew. And due to a few nights lack of sleep, I head to bed at nine hoping to get something close to nine hours sleep and so feel human in the morning.....

Friday, 3 January 2014

Friday 3rd January 2014


And just like that the festive period ends and the alarm blares out at six AM telling me to get up, get dressed and get to work as those KPIs don't calculate themselves. Don't I know it!

Jools drops me off at work, as she still has two more days off and a weekend before the factory reopens. And she will do the shopping and other chores whilst I am calculating so we don't have to do it at the weekend. None of the monkeys are in, or our monkeys anyway. The other company's monkeys are in, and in good spirits, watching videos in order to pass the day.

I work away, and do so until two, when I complete the calculations, create the data table, pivot table and graphs, send them out and wrap up.

We go home, make a pot of coffee and I sit down to watch the previous day's MOTD. They come so think and fast its hard to take all the action and results in. Ten more games, more goals, more sending offs, and more 'funny' lines from gary Lin-a-ker.

I am shattered; not sleeping well, early start. I take to the bed at four, only to be gotten up ten minutes later by Dad delivering Nan's bureau. In a thunderstorm, we unload it from his trailer and get it inside. We can't be bothered to take it upstairs, so it spends the night next to the Christmas tree.

The day ends with my big toe tingling, as a sign that gout is returning. However it does not turn into the feeling of being broken, but I suffer from another night of broken sleep. Still its the weekend at five tomorrow......

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Thursday 2nd January 2014


It seems that 2013 wanted to blow itself out by the end. The wind blew and blew and the rain fell. We had pretty much all what we wanted in the house, so we stayed in, and did stuff: hobbies, chores, watched TV or listed to old John Peels shots from my tape collection.

On Monday Jools went to meet with the local council to discuss the funding for Nan. Not much was learned that we didn’t already know, other than if you are careful and save all your life, this will be used up at an unbelievable rate in paying for your care. But, with Nan’s short to medium term future secure, it was refreshing to see that she is getting stronger day by day, and being more alert, able to reason with staff, speak clearer and generally be how you would expect a 99 year old woman in a care home to be.

In a word: grumpy.

Jools also started to sort through some of Nan’s things, and we found many interesting things; documents, photos and the such. So I began the task of scanning them and then uploading to either the Dover Facebook group or to my Flickr photostream. Jools’ great-grandfather grew up in Southwark, born to two drunkards, he went to what was called ‘ragged schools’, educational establishments, set up by philanthropists to educate the poor. In doing so for Frederick Jones, he was able to gain an education, apply and be accepted into the Metropolitan Police Force, and in time transfer to be the resident policeman at Dover Priory station. In doing so, lifting him and his family and descendants out of poverty. Quite a thing really.

There were also programs for athletic meetings, cycling meetings as well as numerous family photographs. The local ones were great, especially those of Nan as a teenage tennis champion back in 1931 holding trophy. There were also great shots of her and her father with a friend on the beach at St Margaret’s.

New Year’s Eve the wind continued to blow: I did another session on the cross-trainer, and then we settled down to have a quiet night in. Once, we did we played Scrabble (I lost) and settled down to watch the festive edition of Tudor Monastery Farm, followed by Mock the Week. It was all very laid back, so laid back we nearly fell asleep. At eleven fifteen Hootannany began, Piano Blokey once again. I have to say, his chirpy demeanour does being to grate after it must be a decade or so of these shows. The usual smattering of ‘celebrities’ lines the audience. He swapped blokey, chirpy banter with them as usual.

Just after midnight, we looked at each other and headed upstairs. Another year gone.

New Year’s Day was no different to New Year’s Eve in that the wind blew and the rain fell. Hard. A Flickr friend came over in the afternoon, and so we chatted about things and then I cooked Chorizo hash whilst I listened to the final round of festive footy games on the radio. All this was part of the wait for the first episode in the new series of Sherlock. Now, I loved the previous shows, but not all were brilliant, and so this with this one. 90 minutes, Martin Freeman’s moustache and a rip-off of V for Vendetta. And it wasn’t as good as V either. Maybe the next shows will be better? As is the modern way, then to look at Twitter to see what it was thought of. And the result: much the same as I thought as it turned out.

And so we were 24 hours into the New Year. Only 364 more to go…..

For the first time I look into the tea leaves and come up with what I think may well happen this year. Mostly in sport. OK, in football.

Premier League.

Champions: Chelsea Runners up: Man City 3rd: Arsenal 4th: Man Utd.

Not earth shattering, just the same as last year, but in a different order.


18th: Sunderland
19th: Aston Villa
20th: Fulham

It will be a close thing this year, with any one of a number of clubs, Norwich included, could be relegated. And those who survive will have to get better for next season.

Football League

Champions: Derby
Runners Up: Leicester City

Play Offs: QPR, Burnley, Nottingham Forest and Leeds.

I have no real idea, but I do believe scoring goals is more important than not conceding. Derby as top scorers will do well.

This year I will try to:

Exercise more
Drink less
Get out more and flickr less
Read more

Photographic targets for the New Year:

Burnt Tip Orchids (Kentish if possible)
Purple Emperor Butterfly