Sunday, 31 August 2014

Sunday 31st August 2014


And so we come to the 30th post of the month, which also included that now legendary 1,000th post. I can say with some certainty, we will not see another month with 30 posts for quite some time, if ever. September sees me having nearly three weeks off work, a wedding anniversary and Nan's 100th birthday. All in all another remarkable month ahead.

I was awake at half five in the morning from a combination of cramp and itchy insect bites. So I mess around on the computer until seven, and I think I may as well get my stuff together and head shopping. So I get dressed, make a list and head out just as Jools is coming down the stairs. I'll do it, don't wory says the duty hero. Tesco is empty, or as empty as it gets, and I rush round getting the stuff and I am out again heading home in half an hour. That's the way to do it.


At half nine, with a heavy drizzle falling from the sky, we head out to Dover to run some chores and for me to snap the results of the street art festival which was held last month. I drop Jools off and head to St James' Lane to park up in the shadow of Burlington House, and go round getting my shots. Back at the car I am approached by a gentleman from north Wales and he asks me if Dover is really this grotty? Sadly, it is I say. Decades of mismanagement mean in the centre it really is a shocking state, what with abandoned buildings, but also the planning decisions that enabled places like Burlington House and the Gateway Flats to be built, and how generally unfriendly the town comes over and how poorly it advertises its history. Lets hope that the regeneration of the area will make it attractive and some thought is given to what is needed.


We shall see I guess.

We head out to Folkestone to check on the demolition of the coastguard tower and also to see how the gold rush is going. You see every three years, Folkestone has an arts festival, which although is very good, does not attract that much extra visits from tourists. This year, one of the 'arts' installation is £10,000 of 24 carrot gold bars buried on the beach in the outer harbour. It has made regional and national news, and created a proper gold rush with people claiming areas of beach as whole families hunt for the £500 small bullion bars. From the harbour wall the other side, we could see hundreds of people, looking, digging and using metal detectors. Amazing what business ten grand of buried gold can create.

The great Kentish Gold Rush

The coastguard tower is all but gone now, just a pile of concrete and twisted metal. All things must change. The Harbour Station is back open, and there are a couple of arts installations in it, but I do fear for the station once the festival ends in November as the line has now officially closed. In bright sunlight, and grass growing on the trackbed, it looks almost nice, but the decay and dilapidation is everywhere to be seen. Amazing to think that until 2008 the Orient Express used to come down here.

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes

I have a plan to head over to Hythe to visit the church which lies above the town on the slope of the downs. As I know in the crypt there is a chilling display. So we head out on the coast road, heading down into Sandgate; it has been a few years since we had been down, and we are blown away at how fine the town looks, with some great new buildings facing the sea. I decide that if the weather is nice, we shall come for a walk down here on Sunday.


Hythe is busy with traffic as ever, but we make our way through it, find a parking space and set off with cameras. It seems we are both hungry now, so we make for a fine looking cafe that did a good line in local art too for coffee and a bite to eat. I have something called a 'spicy Spaniard', which is as good as its word and has my tongue zizzing.

Folkestone Harbour Station

We make our way up Great Conduit Street to the church, waiting outside we see two bridesmaids and an older gentleman in a suit with the vicar waiting. Hmmm, that'll be a wedding says Ian, as observant as ever. We watch as the bride walks up, some last minute adjustments to her dress, and the part climbs the steps and from inside we hear the organ strike up 'here comes the bride'. Jools notices that the crypt entrance is not inside the church, but along the front retaining wall of the churchyard and then under the church itself via a narrow door.

The past is before us

And inside there are over a thousand skull and various bones stacked in a massive pile or arranged on shelves on the wall. No one really knows why they are here, but records show them being here in the 17th century. It makes for an odd sight, but after an informative introduction from the guide, I get my shots and am happy enough.

We walk back to the car, and from there we drive up through Sandgate, up over the down and then back along the A20 towards Folkestone. I stop off at Newington as I have not been inside that church, and it is open, which is nice. So I get shots, and am happy enough. What strikes me is the large number of metal memorials inside, most dating from the beginning of the 17th century. There must have been a vibrant metal industry in the area at the time. Anyway.

From Newington, we head home with the football burbling on the radio, Man Utd draw with Burnley, which after the result on Tuesday, must make that an improvement. Once home we make coffee and I settle down to follow the Norwich game on Twitter, which City stumble to a 1-1 draw with Bournemouth. Which on the surface seems a poor result, but they are a good footballing side, and so, we have to accept that with even more new players arriving during the week, there will be plenty more games.

I cook steak for dinner, with two ribeyes I got last week, and they are glorious. We wash them down with a bottle of Cava, which really did hit the spot. And so another days passes and the month is slipping away.

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Saturday 30th August 2014


With the wind blowing, or at least forecast to, there was little point in heading to the office in Ramsgate, as there would be no desk for me to work at. So, I settle down to work from home, counting the hours down until I can switch the computer off and relax for the weekend.

When I do, I head upstairs for a session on the cross-trainer, my second in two days, and this time it is more enjoyable, I even do an extra minute to the end of the song I was listening to.

Jools comes home and so we settle down to the dinner of champions, bangers and mash and beans, which seems pretty much perfect. We listen to the Lamaq show on the radio, grooving to tunes from the days of Peel; it would have been his 75th birthday on Sunday, but he was taken from us. So, we listen to many of the songs he helped us get to know.

Later in the evening, we have a dose of Monty, my first since before the China trip. His garden looks glorious, does he really do all the work at Longmeadow? We should be told. It is followed by another compilation of the Morecambe and Wise show, wonderful stuff and still funny.

So, a brief post today, I'll leave you with this:

Friday, 29 August 2014

Friday 29th August 2014

It is now some 6 years since I began writing this blog, although due to one thing and another it was not published until the first week in September. Shall we see what I wrote that day, as I had just left a ship in Peterhead, celebrated my 43rd (sob) birthday and we were preparing for our wedding.

And so after three days at home, I can now say I am getting used to it.

After having the limited space and restricted time on ship; to be home and have the time to do whatever I want is just great.I wish I could say that I have used my time in a fruitful manner and achieved many of the tasks I have to do. Some things have been done, some mail answered, magazines read and pictures uploaded to Flickr. But there is plenty more to do.I have struggled with switching sleeping patterns, and have woken at half three, half four and today, five o'clock. By mid afternoon I feel like a zombie and the sofa calls for a snooze. And so Sulu and I take 40 winks beside the French windows with just the sound of the fledgling seagulls and the occasional passing train to break the silence. I took Julie's Nan out for lunch yesterday; a quiet country pub nearby that does great ploughman's and real ale. She has her 94th birthday next month, just after the wedding, and I have spent most of yesterday designing a photobook full of pictures and the blogs from our trip to Cornwall. I can't wait to see how it turns out, as more of them could be the ideal presents for birthdays and Christmasses for years to come.

Three weeks right now will see us as the new Mr and Mrs H; and how great that still sounds. We have hammered the final details of the wedding with the planner, and now all we need is the weather. Fingers crossed.This weekend we have several things planned. First of all, tomorrow morning Julie goes to pick up her dress if the fitting goes well. And then we head out to the Isle of Sheppy for a 10 mile walk along the mud flats and broken ribs of countless acient wooden ships. And then on Sunday we head to Loughborough to ride on a preserved railway, and see the first all new steam locomotive built in Britain since the beginning of the 1960s. 'Tornado' is not yet running, but is undergoing trieals before the final painting and then main line tests before she can run on the main line and thrill a new generation of children, and many older ones as well!Summer is threatening to come back tomorrow, but they said that for today and it didn't happen. We'll take each day as it comes.

Have a splendid weekend, folks.

Spelling mistakes and grammar corrected. How exciting it all sounds. And it was: marriage, honeymoon and steam trains, sounds like heaven to me.


After a trip away, even if only for a few days, a day working from home always seems like a luxury. Which it is. Wednesday I was up and travelling from half six and got home at half eleven, however I do know that J was up for 21 hours that day, travelling to Amsterdam and back from DK. Bugger that.

The day is quiet enough, I answer mails and file reports as you do. And once the working day ends, I get back to Mr Crosstrainer for a session. Now, it has been some months since we last met, and it was not easy at all. I did 20 minutes, and by the end I was blowing bubbles. But I got it done, and I am pleased with that. What with work trips, holidays, more business trips, orchid hunting and the rest, I just have let it slip, but after seeing my reflection in a shop window in Rotterdam, I have got to do something.

Not much else to report, when Jools came back from work, we had a nice light meal of mozzarella and big tomatoes, which was very, very nice indeed.

It is now too chilly to sit outside of an evening, that might change if we get warmer days and evenings, I guess, but with a stiff breeze, it was too chilly for bat watching.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Thursday 28th August 2014


The alarm went off at at six in the morning, that is really way too early. I had a shower, changed into my power suit (ha) and headed down to check out and find breakfast. I found the lower floor of the hotel full of track-suited rowers, all looking young and lithe in lycra or in ill fitting sports clothing, and coaches with faces sour enough to turn fresh milk. I sit on a table between the Serbian and Croatian teams, wondering if I did the right thing there. There was no resumption of hostilities, so I had a couple of coffees and some fruit before trying to get a place on one of the early shuttle buses to the airport.

After some confusion in why a ticket was needed to board the 'free' bus, but I got one from reception and soon was heading back to the airport and where I hoped I would find my manager so we could travel to the office together. After de-busing and walking into the food hall, I see him just sitting down exactly where he said he'd be, so I grab a coffee and join him, before we try to work out the tickets and additions needed for the ride down to Rotterdam.

Rotterdam Centraal

The train was full, but we got seats and soon the identikit countryside passing by, with buildings and fields on an apparent ever-repeating scene. One part of this area in Holland looks pretty much the same as every other. I'm sure I'm wrong, but fields, giant glasshouses, windmills, drainage ditches and small picturesque towns rolled by. Ho and indeed hum.

At Rotterdam Centraal, we had to change to another local service for the ride to the suburban station where the meeting was to take place.

Rotterdam Centraal

After the meeting, we have to get back to the airport, as we both have evening flights, mine at just before eight, and J's was at ten. So we walk back to the station, and a train is just pulling in, so we jump on that and change at Centraal before riding the inter city service upto the airport. I find the BA desk to check in and pass through customs and I'm in the departure area. J joins me, and we retire to a huge bar on the first floor and order a meal and an ice cold pint and discuss the matters that arose during the day. Sigh. Its going to be a long slog thats for sure.

Rotterdam Centraal

At quarter past seven, I set off to find the gate, just to make sure I don't miss the flight, nothing would be worse than having to spend a night in naughty Amsterdam.......

We get on and I have a window seat, so we take off into the light of the setting sun, and once drinks are served, I sip a glass of red wine as we cross the North Sea and within 50 minutes are dropping through the clouds and into LCY.

At least we have little wait at the gate, and the queue at immigration was short, so withing ten minutes of touching dwon, I was on the DLR heading for Stratford. I have a twenty minute wait on the sparse platform, but the train rumbles in on time, and I get a seat so relax for the run to Ashford where I have to change onto a local service. THankfully, the Dover train was waiting, and within two minutes of me getting on, it pulls out and into the Kentish night and Dover. It was now dark, and little could be seen until we run into Folkestone where the usual mix of drunks and late night workers get on or off.

Jools is waiting at Dover, so we head off where she makes me a huge cuppa. And that is another day done.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Wednesday 27th August 2014


And so work returns with a vengeance. Sigh. To make matters more interesting, I have to be at LCY by about four to catch a flight at five. So, plan how long a journey to Stratford and crossing London so to arrive in Time. But before then, better do some work. And with me having to finish work at about half twelve meant that heading to the office in Ramsgate would be a poor waste of time. So, put a pot of coffee and power up the laptop and get some work done.

That done, I switch the computer off, go to pack, and before leaving decide to have lunch, and in a surprise I find myself wanting pancakes. So, I mix up a batch of batter, oil the pan and soon I am sprinkling sugar and lemon juice on a couple of crisp pancakes. Not exactly the most healthy of lunches, but hey, the hit the spot.

I go drove to collect Jools and hen head to the station so she can drop me off at the station and head back to work, whilst I my ticket and board the train. It seems I spend half my life travelling these days. You know the trip by now up to Stratford and then across to the airport. I did help a lady from the Isle of Man who was getting very lost on the train and did not know where she was in relation to the tube map, so I said, follow me and I;ll get you to the airport. Which is what happened, made tricky by having to change at Canning Town and changing platforms, and then not catching the first train in, but the second. Anyway, it made for some human contact in the naked city.

I checked in, went straight through security. Thing about travelling out of normal business rush hour means the airport is nice and quiet, no queues, no people screaming down their mobiles to sell high or buy low. You know the kind of stuff. I have an hour to kill, so go for a drink at the bar, and settle for a diet coke. Two pounds fifty of your English pounds for a small bottle. I sip it slowly to make it last. So have another.

The flight is delayed, which means more waiting around, and that I will get to Amsterdam an hour later, meaning there is a good chance the hotel will not be serving dinner. A plan forms, to find somewhere to eat at the airport before working out how to get to the hotel.

The flight to Amsterdam is 45 minutes, a quick up and down, and the staff run around dishing out a drink and collecting the trash before we are on final approach. All exciting stuff. We skim over uniform fields dotted with ancient windmills and criss-crossed by drainage ditches. It all looked the same to me, and then there were the acres of greenhouses, some lit up in the twilight. An odd sight. And we land, then spend ten minutes taxiing to the other side of the terminal, which seems to last longer than the flight.

I find a place to eat near where the shuttle bus to the airport leaves from, and order a burger from the joint I am to meet my boss at in the morning.

I find the stand from where the bus will leave from, and a few of us pile on for the short trip to the hotel, The Park Plaza, some fifteen minutes from the airport, far enough away so not to hear the sound of aircraft taking off. The hotel is full of young rowers I guess in town for some competition, all looking so young and healthy. Sigh. I get my room key and find I have been given a suite: I could live in here, it has a bath, shower, separate toilet, mini bar, a huge air con unit and good internet connection. So I spend the evening keeping up to date with the football scores, in particular, Man Utd's game at MK Dons; it was a surprise then to see them losing, and as the game entered the final quarter, going further and further behind, until at full time, they were 4-0 down, and on the wrong end of a spanking. I go to bed chuckling, and relieved that City win 3-1 against Crawley. Four wins in a row.....

Final mention to the musical event of the year. Or decade. Or your lifetime. Kate Bush played her first gig in London, the first since 1979s tour of life, and the ones we tried oh so hard to get tickets for. All of twitter was full of reports of the set list, or alternative suggestions as to what was played. We hope that a recording of one of the shows will be released at some point, so the unlucky ones can share in the magic.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Tuesday 26th August 2014

And so I am now 49 years old. It sounds old, even if I do not feel it. It is old as my Dad was when they had their silver wedding anniversary. That is food for thought. Inside I still feel like the 16 year old schoolboy I was back in the day, I know I have the same sense of humour. I do seem to remember my Mother saying, after you get to 21 birthdays become less important. Sadly, she has been proved right of course, and I really don’t want a fuss, although that may be unavoidable next year one supposes.


As the weather forecast was for rain, rain and followed by yet more rain, we had ensured that all had been done on Saturday and Sunday, which meant that it was a lazy morning, we got the TV to record to an external hard drive, which means we are free from the schedules, if we did actually watch TV on more than an occasional basis. We listened to more Blessed Kate, and the radio which played yet more Kate.

We headed to Deal, well Walmer in fact, to a little café to have breakfast as we were hungry, so we both had a small fry up. Which was nice. Except for the tinned tomatoes, which have no place in a breakfast. We drove cross country, as there seemed to be some kind of accident near to Dover as several police cars and ambulances had roared by as we drove into Deal. So we headed out across country heading for Waldershare which would be near to Dad’s. But, due to the lack of signposts, or them pointing in the wrong directions, we ended up driving round in circles until we ended back near to where we started. As hobbits would say, short cuts leads to long delays.

We visited the old folks at Whitfield, to find Tony had gone to visit Nan to tell her Cath was out of hospital and danger. So, Jen was there, but she was busy painting, so after a brief chat, we left. And that Tony was with Nan, she would complain if there were too many visitors. Mind you she complains if the has too few visitors too. So we used that as an excuse not to visit, which makes us bad people, and also means we will burn in hell. If there was such a place, but there isn’t, so we will feel guilty about it for a while.

We did go to visit my friend Gary at his place, and chatted, mostly about photography. And wildlife. And photo editing programs. Which was nice.

We headed home in the driving rain, which was not so nice, and then spent the afternoon watching the rain tip it down outside. We listened to more radio, drank more coffee and outside the rain continued to fall. Oh yes, this is because it was a Bank Holiday as this was typical weather.

Evening came early, and it was nearly dark as we drove to the other side of the field at the end of the road to Walletts Court for dinner. Although it is so near and we pass it every time we go out, neither of us have ever been there, so we thought, why not?

Food was good, if small portions, but then you have three courses without having to undo a belt buckle, which is probably for the best. Odd then that this is where Ministry of Sound insisted on staying when they used to come to visit the factory, as far removed from anything urban you could imagine, a medieval manor house with its own church, Westcliffe, and once owned by one the William Pitts.

Anyway, back home to listen to the second half of the Citeh v Liverpool game, which ended up 3-0 to Citeh, and ‘Pool’s problems are multiplying, not least with them having signed Not-so-super Mario earlier in the day. There might be trouble ahead…..

I am off to Holland for a couple of days, so see you on Thursday.

Monday, 25 August 2014

Monday 25th August 2014


Ah, bathing the afterglow of another triumph against the old enemy down the A140. As we have so far failed to det the TV to save v programs we had to watch stuff live. I mention this as Sundays are now made for football, what with the re-runs of MOTD and the football league show. And having been relegated it means that City are now on the latter and so even later on a Saturday evening. At least the BBC have scheduled the shows to run back to back on Sundays too, which meant that despite waking up at seven, we could not head out of the house until MOTD had been watched and the the highlights of the Old Farm game o n the footy league show. And despite the twitterverse having been full of disgruntled dirty horses claiming the goal was offside, the replay showed a defender on the line and the goal perfect. Perfect for us, anyway.

Bank Holiday Sunday walk

Once the game had been shown, we got our act together and put on our walking boots and headed out the door with the plan to 'go out for a walk'. More than that, maybe head to the cliffs and on the way pick some elderberries and maybe some sloes if there were ripe enough. It was a cool morning, but warming up nicely, so we walked down the lane at the end of the street, past the butterfly glade, past the pig's copse, now empty of the piglets, as it would appear their truck left for either market or the slaughterhouse during the week. The glade is now all quiet. Down the dip and up the otherside, stop at the friendly horse to rub his mane and feed hi some fresh grass from the verge.

Bank Holiday Sunday walk

Up over the fields, between now harvested and ploughed fields to the butterfly alley, which was almost butterfly free. Up the final climb to the cliffs and Bluebirds. After taking in the view, we take a table outside and order coffee and a slice of coffee and walnut cake, which hit the spot.

Jools decided to head back via the village so she could look at how the wild apples were coming along, and I decided to head up the coast to Kingsdown to look for butterflies. As is the case at this time of the year, the coastal path was heaving with people,many of whom seem to be there without actually looking at the wonderful landscapes or the wildlife under their very feet. Anyway, I make it to Kingsdown, find no evidence of Long Tailed Blues, not even any flattened grass caused by dozens of photographers as per least year. In fact there were very few butterflies at all, no Chalkhills and no Adonis either. Just a few Small Blues and a single Wall. I did see a mating pair of dragonflies, so watched were they landed and got some fine shots as they were locked in a mating wheel. They did not try to fly off as they had other things on their mind. Apparently.

here be dragons

I walked back by a much quieter route, and at butterfly alley I harvested a lot of the elderberries, and along the paths home, stopped to pick more, until I had a good couple of pounds. It was now near one and the day was very warm indeed, and my legs were beginning to complain. The final stretch is down the steeper side of the dip and up the other side, past the pig's copse and the butterfly glade and on to home.

Bank Holiday Sunday walk Once home Jools was waiting outside sipping iced squash. I joined her, until the draw of checking on my shots was too strong and I headed inside to power up the new computer.

The football on the radio burbled away, we had a late lunch of more pasta salad and fried aubergine washed down with a large bottle of Leffe Nectar. Which, needless to say, resulted in me feeling the need to lay on the sofa and promptly fall asleep as the radio reported on the Sunderland v Man Utd game. And in this way the afternoon passed from afternoon to evening, where we carried on the Kate Bush fest by playing Hounds of Love (again), The Sensual World, The Red Shoes and This Woman's Work.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Sunday 24th August 2014 (part 2)


And so the three day weekend arrives and the question is, what to do? Well, it seems that as Jools did some shopping on Thursday, we don't need much as we are going to eat simply over the weekend, just pasta salad and fried aubergine. So, what then?

I remembered that there was a rail tour running, just a Javelin running on some lines it don't normally use, but still, something different and it seemed ages since I went train chasing. So, at little after nine we were heading out to Minster so I could snap it trundling round the sharp chord from Sandwich to Canterbury lines. As we headed through Deal, we realised that we were hungry, so were on the lookout for greasy spoons, but they all seemed to be closed for the weekend, so at Richborough we stopped at Subway for breakfast. Breakfast was little different from eating there at other times, but grilled sausage sub with extra pickles and onions and ranch dressing hit the spot I have to say. So wet up for a while, we drove on to Minster station.

The Wandering Javelin at Minster in Thanet, Kent, 23rd August 2014

I tried a few different angles, but decided on the platform opposite where the chord joined the main line. As I thought maybe a different lens, I heard the screeching of train wheels on check rails, so raised my camera to see it coming round the bend, slowly. Inside the train was full and people has huge smiles on their faces. Call me crazy, but eight hours on a train going round and round Kent might get a little tiring after a while. But hey.

The Wandering Javelin at Minster in Thanet, Kent, 23rd August 2014

We headed over to the butchers in Preston before returning home where it seemed to be lunchtime, so better prepare something. Something turned out to be cheese and crackers followed by a huge bowl of fresh raspberries from the back garden. Lovely, I mean really, really good. Nothing tastes better.

Closure notice

After lunch we headed down into Folkestone to check on the demolition of the coastguard tower beside the Harbour Railway station, which is the start, I guess, of the redevelopment of the area. So, imagine our surprise when we found that Tram Street is now two way rather than the one way it has been for decades, but we did get down without indecent. We found a place to park outside the Grand Burstin, and after grabbing the camera we headed to snap the demolition and what is left of the line that carried hundreds of thousands of soldiers to war and their deaths 100 years ago. It is grim seeing the station in such a state of decay, but now the tunnel has been going for 20 years, it really is not needed any more.

Folkestone Harbour Branch

The whole harbour area was full of people, which is good, and maybe gives hope that the area might recover. But then wouldn't a preserved railway running down the branch be a fine centrepiece? Maybe.

Folkestone Harbour Branch

We drove back out the town, up through Hawkinge and onto Lydden across the A2 to Shepherdswell so to be in time to snap the raitour as it came out of Lydden tunnel. Now, I should point out that for the previous hour, a rather important game was taking place, the first game between City and Ipswich for some 30 months. I was concerned that we might not be ready for such a hostile map so early in the season, and so decided to head out and avoid the game on the radio. But after an hour of play, I could stand it no longer, and switched oon the radio, only for the BBC fail to mention it for about ten minutes. I was going mad by this point, but when the update came, we were leading 1-0 and in command. And despite a late Town rally, we held on, and so beat them yet again.

The Wandering Javelin, Shepherdswell, Kent, 23rd August 2014

I got the shot as the train came out of the tunnel, and that was that. We headed home for coffee and for me to listen to more football and edit shots. The new computer is pretty much set up now and so editing shots is a doddle. And a pleasure rather than torture as it was with the old laptop.

At six we cooked the aubergine, and tucked into a wonderfully fresh summery meal, with a nice pint of ale to wash it down with. Yum.

That night we sat in the dark watching a young fox eating the badger food in the front garden. Simple but wonderful.

Sunday 24th August 2014

I will begin this post by relaying the great news that Jools' sister was discharged from hospital this morning, so good has her recovery been. I am not going to go into the details of what is and isn't wrong, or whatever. She has some tests to go, but now she is well enough to be home and is, some two days after her birthday, and that is great news indeed. The best of news, really.

It is the middle day of a bank holiday weekend, I am in a good mood, we have just had a lazy late lunch, and now I think that maybe we should have a nice afternoon snooze whilst the football burbles in the background. But, I am getting ahead of myself, lets catch up where we left off on Friday morning.


The early morning call of nature, I try to creep out of the bedroom without waking Jools, only to stead on something soft and squidgy: Urgh I said loudly. I have woken Jools, so I turn the light on and there on the floor is a baby mouse left for us as a midnight snack by one of the moggies. It is the thought that counts, but we really need to teach them how to make coffee so they can give us an early morning gift we'd really like.

So, now that I'm awake and awake, best make a coffee, feed the cats and so the day begins. I drive to the office in Ramsgate, and get down to work which seems to take up most of my time. At three, it seems that I had done enough work for the week, so pack my stuff up and head home for the three day weekend.

New toy #2

I arrive home and try to set the new computer up. All is well excpet for windows 8 which is just shit. Well, its shot compared to the older versions, quite why things have to be so different from previous versions, meaning its impossible to find things or how to do stuff which should be so easy. I spend nearly two hours getting my old laptop and the new computer so I can transfer some files. It really should not be this hard. But it is done, and I am happy enough to switch the old laptop off and only use the new one.

The night was spent watching the Kate Bush special on BBC4, reminding us of the unique talent that Ms Bush has, and how different from anything else we have seen before or since. Next week she starts her long residency in London, the one I failed to get tickets for, oh well.

I'll leave you with something only Kate could make:

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Saturday 23rd August 2014


And so time to pack and head home.

I wish I could say nice things about the hotel in Esbjerg, but they don’t have to try too hard to get guests due to the shortage of rooms for those of us who work in the town, so they don’t work hard. I gave up eating there ages agi, doubly so now there is a branch of Flammen open opposite it. In the morning, they were relaying the floor in the restaurant so breakfast was in a tent in the car park. A tent in Denmark at the end of August is going to be interesting, and it was breezy and I image the cooked food, mostly cold. I have a coffee, a roll and hit the road.

A drive up to Arhus, some 75 minutes, is not a bad way to start the day, especially with me having an A3 to throw about on the motorway. I pointed the car north and pressed the accelerator. And vrrrooooommmm we zoomed off. However, for the most part, I did keep to the limit.

It is odd that in a country as mostly rural as Denmark that they have things like traffic jams, but in the morning and afternoon, Arhus can be jammed, so that was why I was not busting a gut to get there much before half eight, to give time for the morning rush to die down.

And so to work. And meetings. And more meetings.

And then time to leave to head for the airport. I worked right through lunch so was hungry as I walked back out to the car for the blast to Billund where I hoped there would be a snack and a tall frosted glass waiting for me. Traffic was light, and the weather bright, so driving was a pleasure, heading down the motorway with the speedometer reading 130, even if it was in kmh, it still felt pretty darn fast.

I park the car, hand the keys in, check my bag in, go through security, through the shop and up the steps to the gastrobar where although the beer was not waiting, I order one along with a salmon salad and settle down to watch the comings and goings. At least with the end of the holiday season, the airport is returning to normal, with plenty of seats and room, although there are people wandering around dressed for the beach already thinking they are on holiday.

I snooze on the way over, once we had climbed through the small thunderstorm that covered the airport and into clear non-bumpy air above the clouds. Over Essex I could see that the harvest is almost in, and on field you could see a harvester making short work of the ripe wheat.

From the moment I got off the plane to the time I was on the DLR heading towards Stratford in less than 5 minutes! My case was first off the plane, and as I entered reclaim there it was just on the carousel. Lucky me.

I missed the ten to seven train, so grabbed a coffee before the next train was due at quarter past. And I got a seat, facing the right way next to a window and all by myself. My lucky day still. It was nearly dark by the time we pulled into Dover, the lights of ferries heading to France showing bright in the gloom.

Jools was waiting for me, and so we headed up the cliffs to home, where on the table a new computer was waiting for me. But there was not enough time to set it all up, so something else to look forward to during the weekend.

Friday, 22 August 2014

Friday 22nd August 2014


I stirred very little during the night, and was happy to see that when I checked the time I had slept soundly for 10 hours and felt like a million dollars. An overweight million dollars for sure, but still. Ten hours. Rock and roll.

I dressed and went down for breakfast before heading into the office for a day of observing and writing suggestions. It was good to be back amongst friends, people I have known for up to 18 months, who seem really pleased to see me. Quite why this surprises me is one thing, but it warms the cockles of my heart to realize this. I do get that, on occasion, some people I know don’t treat my friendship with the reverence I feel for them. Maybe its just me.

Anyway, the working day progressed well. We had a break for lunch and we ordered in chicken and bacon rolls, which were mighty tasty.

In the evening I went to Paddy Go Easy because, because its there really. Need another reason? I had a pint, a pint of Guinness as the Kilkenny was off, and very good it was too. I tried to get a table at the Dronning Louise, but it was rammed as the locals, all descended from Vikings remember, were all sitting inside due to the slight chill in the air. So, I walked round the corner to Bones and ordered ribs and a coke, and all was well with the world.

All was well until I spoke to Jools to hear that her sister had been rushed into hospital with severe liver and kidney problems. This does not come as that much as a shock as you might expect. She had looked ill for most of last year, but seemed to be getting better. Anyway, she is in hospital, had a blood transfusion, and now they will find out what the reason for it all. All the same, worrying times for us all.

I headed back to the hotel to watch some football, as it is that time of the year, like between the end of June and the end of May when there is football on somewhere.


I guess the news from home puts everything in perspective. Little more is known about the cause, but she is still in hospital and will be probably for the rest of the week. We are all concerned, that goes without saying. She has had tests and been prodded and probed, we will know at some point. Jools went over to see her in the evening, and, well, its as expected really.

For me, it was a day at work in sunny Esbjerg. Or sunny between the showers and thunderstorms. I worked away getting stuff done, having meetings, fielding phone calls. The usual stuff.

In the evening, I met up with my old boss and we went back to Butchers for dinner. Rib eye steak and beer for me, and mighty tasty it was too.

I bailed on heading back to Paddy Go Easy, as I felt I had had enough beer with the man-sized glass I had with dinner, so went back to the hotel to check on which game would be on TV. Turned out to be Aalburg, I think, and it was awful, thankfully the interwebs was distracting and so passed another quiet evening in the hotel.

Outside the rain hammered down again. Well, it is Denmark.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Thursday 21st August 2014


I woke up with a headache and feeling congested. That meant that my allergies were having a party in my head. I popped a pill hoping the drugs would work. In desperation, we headed for a walk. We had to go early as rain was predicated later in the day.

Sunday morning walk to Windy Ridge

We set off along the track at the end of the street, then cutting up across Collingwood and up to Windy Ridge looking for sloes and plums. It was a cool and breezy morning, but nice enough in sheltered places.

We walked through the wood looking for fungi, but I just saw some King Alfred’s Cakes and little else. We headed back for coffee and an early dinner.

Sunday morning walk to Windy Ridge

I watched the re-run of MOTD, looking glorious in HD on the new TV, but the football itself was as predictable as ever really. Still, it’s a new season and Sunday mornings will now be given over to fooball…..

Sunday morning walk to Windy Ridge

After lunch, Jools dropped me off at the new micropub in Barfrestone. Barfrestone is a small village between Dover and Canterbury, I am doubtful that such a venture could succeed in a small place like that, but the owners used to run the Yew Tree, so they know their customers and market, and judging by the first weekend, its going great guns. Sadly, Mr 1D was at the bar, but then it gave me someone to talk to as Jools went to visit Nan. He’s as full of crap as ever, but he liked my new camera and showed me where the spirit level can be found on it, so not all lost.

The Wrong Turn, Barfestone, kent

I drank several beers, Jools came back as I finished the third, so had a 4th as she had half of cider, then we went home. Needless to say, I laid on the sofa and slept through the football on the radio, waking up in time to dish dinner up, which was leftovers. Leftover breaded aubergine and pasta salad. Always nice.

The Wrong Turn, Barfestone, kent

Time then to pack for the morning. Yuk. Always hate doing that.

But by now the allergies were really going mad, and I knew I was in for a tough night. In the end I took more drugs and tried to sleep. I lay until gone one until, as if by magic, my sinuses cleared and sleep was possible, giving me something like just under four hours of sleep.


Needless to say I felt like shit warmed up in the morning, and was grumpy as hell.

I had coffee grabbed my cases and we headed to the station for me to catch the train to Stratford.

I turned on the mobile, checked work e mails, seems like they still know I exist, which is something. The train whisked me to London, and as I walked onto the DLR train, the door closed and off we went to the airport, with the train filling up at Stratford, and emptying again at Canning Town. As is the normal way.

It looked chaos at the check in desk, and it was, but I got into a queue to drop my bags, I guess it took half an hour longer due to the holiday season, then upstairs and was able to grab breakfast once through security with more than an hour to spare.

I snoozed on the plane on the way over, except when we went into a cloud, and the plane bucked like a bucking thing. I collected the case, all the time on auto pilot, it’s a good thing these things don’t change. At the car hire place they give me an Audi A3, which brightened my day, and I zoomed off to Esbjerg and the office. I drive through alternating bright sunshine and heavy rainstorms, which from what I gather has been the case in Denmark for a few weeks now, and looking at the countryside, it looked saturated.

After checking in the hotel, I went out to meet Steffen at a new restaurant called Butcher, which is a meat place, which came as no surprise really. I had a nice steak and a beer, then Steffen dropped me off back at the hotel, I cleaned my teeth and went to bed, hoping for a long, long night’s sleep.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Sunday 17th August 2014


It has been pointed out that maybe the weekends are becoming a little predictable: what with Tesco, croissants and maybe some orchid hunting later. Well, the orchid season is just about over for another year, and I think I saw some 29 species, which is pretty impressive, and I think I just missed two: the Early Marsh (only found at one site in the county) and the Burnt Tip, which is so rare in the county that the wardens won't tell anyone where it can be found. We shall see. I have a lead and will look come next spring.

And so, yesterday did begin with Tesco, then I headed out to Jollies for bird and badger food. Only then did we have coffee and croissants. With almost all the chores done, the day and the weekend stretched out before like a stretched out thing. But that was to change as stuff started to pop into my head and onto my Facebook feed.

First up we headed out to Medway to visit a church, one we had photographed last year but found locked, but after a quick Google search I found that it is open each day this summer to encourage visitors. You know, that might just work....

So we headed up the A2 and then through Faversham and back into the country, under the motorway and into the undiscovered part of the county. Or another one of the undiscovered parts anyway.

Wychling is situated down a good road, through two villages, by which time the road is narrow and going can be slow as the tractors and landrovers coming the other way take most of the road. But in time we came to Wychling, and through the small village out the other side, and almost un-noticed by the passer by is a small layby, big enough for a single small car, and there almost obscured is the sign for St Margarets'.

The church itself is situated away from the road over a small meadow and in a small clearing in the ancient wood. It is an almost perfect setting for a country church. The door was open so we went in.

The church itself is unusual shaped, and without memorials inside. But there is a set of steps that once might have lead to the rood loft, but now leads to a small balcony, which gave wonderful views down onto the main body of the church.

After getting the shots, we headed back home for lunch, and it was we ate I saw that the two Lancasters from the BOBMF were going to be visiting Kent, and in particular do a fly by over Littlestone. So, I said to Jools I would go out and snap them, and she decided to stay home and do some beading. So, with the football blaring on the radio I headed to Ashford and then onto the coast road to Breznet.


Once at Lydd I headed for Dungeness and doubled back down the coast road to Greatstone. Already waiting were some photographers who said they were coming down the coast from Eastbourne, and we all though this would mean them flying right over us. I could see a small crows a couple of miles down the coast at littlestone, and thought I would stay where I was.

Northern Chief

I got talking to a guy with an air scanner, and he gave us the countdown as the bombers approached. Only they were over Ashford! Seems like they cut across country, and sure enough over the cliffs north of Folkestone we could see the shapes, distant shapes, but most certainly Lancasters.

as we watched, they turned slowly, and in time it was clear they were coming towards us. Soon we could make out the markings and the Spitfire and Hurricane acting as outriders. But just as it seemed they were going to fly over, they lazily banked and headed inland. They did a large turn, making another identical pass over Littlestone before heading away to Headcorn and another airshow. I had some shots, not good shots, but still. I got to see the lancs, which I was not expecting when I got up.

Back in the car I turned the radio on to hear that Man Utd were struggling even with their new manager, indeed, as the second half went on they fell behind again and did not recover, so lost again. You've got to laugh.

At three most of the games kicked off, and it became clear that we are now back off the radar, as they was no reporter at Carrow Road, and so I just got score updates, but as they were 1-0, 2-0 and 3-0, I was happy with that. But most of the attention was on the prem, as if the rest of football did not matter. Especially galling was their assertion that football was back, despite 72 of the professional teams had played the week before!

Fork Handles

City ran out 3-0 winners against Watford, but it seems that some more players might leave before the end of the month as the window nears the closing date on the 31st.

That evening we sat out on the patio with just the fading light of the day, and four flickering candles illuminating us. I took the opportunity to snap then for a Two Ronnies referenced shot.... Worked for me.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Saturday 16th August 2014


The final day of the week, and the final day until I head off on my holibobs on the 11th September that I will not be travelling. Again. These four weeks at home have been great and my batteries have recharged. But now is the time to earn those air miles again, and next week I have four days in Denmark, which should not be too bad at all, I am going to Esbjerg for some observing, and to understand they work that goes on at our site there, because come next spring, components for our project will be going through there.

The Big Field

Anyway, I head over to Ramsgate, I really have to get my travel expenses done. As I arrive the monkeys are loading up the boats, and it is quiet in the office. However, as the last leave, I hear a rumble of thunder, which i ask if anyone else has heard. I am ignored. Oh well.

Needless to say, halfway out to site, they see lightning and the Met office raise the lightning risk, so back in the coe. Which is bad news for me as I will not have a desk to work at. So, I pack up and head off home, were tem cats are waiting.

Theres a light

I work until three, only to find out that, well, I won't go into that, but I threw my hands up and switched the computer off. It was the weekend and all that shit can wait until next week.

On the way to pick up Jools, I stop off to take shots of the large field which has been left unharvested, it stretches up the hill, apparently right up to the lighthouse, the top of which just pokes above the hill. I still have some time, so I park near the Duke of York's, in the bay overlooking the harbour and the Channel to get some shots of the ferries and the Channel beyond. It is a wonderfully clear day, and you can see the buildings in Calais, including the Hotel de Ville, if you look real close at the shots.

Meanwhile, in the Channel

Jools is waiting by the Grammar school; i pick her up and we head home. The weekend had begun!

Friday, 15 August 2014

Friday 15th August 2015


Goodbye Sky.

I have had Sky TV for the best part of twenty years. And it has been good, if getting ever more expensive. A few years back, after Norwich got promoted, I thought about getting ESPN added to our package, I was told that the new monthly bill would be £76. This was three years ago now. I was horrified, and made a promise, which I kept to cancel Sky sports at the end of that season.

And then we began to look at new TVs a few weeks back, and realised that if we bought a new TV with freeview, we could ditch sky and the TV would pay for itself in non-payment of sky in about a year. And so we bought the TV, arranged for a new aerial to be installed and the old dish taken away, and Thursday was the day.

And that was that, aerial up, dish down, TV tuned in and no more Sky. Now, how hard do you think it was to convince sky I really wanted to cancel my contract? Almost impossible. And then today they called me asking if they could make me an offer to keep Sky. What without an aerial I said.....

The year is getting on, it is now dark before nine, and the stars are coming out, as well as the air feeling fresher of an evening. Which is good really. There are blackberries and sloes in the hedgerows, and most of the fields around us are harvested. And yet as we move towards autumn, on the other side of the world, they move towards spring, so those who cycle up mountains in snow will soon be doing that in spring sunshine!

Angels 1-5

And so the day passes with me working from home, doing work stuff and generally being ignored by the rest of the company. Not happy about that, not happy at all, but it seems to be the way it is going to be. Oh well. Jools comes home at five, we have coffee and then dinner. The evening passes with us listening to the radio, whilst outside the storm clouds gather and for the third night in a row we have torrential downpours and bright sunshine, so we get to see double and triple rainbows.

Paint the whole world with a rainbow

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Thursday 14th August 2014


The main highlight of the day, other than work of course, was the unpacking and testing of the new TV.

The planned evening walk was cancelled when dark clouds rolled over and dropped lots of wet stuff on St Maggies. We had come home, brewed a pot of coffee and polished off the short cakes before thinking about going out, and then well, you know, too late. Minutes later the rain came and so rain stopped play.

Lets sort out the TV then said Jools.

So, we unpacked it, and following the Ikea-like instructions put the stand together, we took the old TV down. Now, I should say that my old TV, a 28 inch Sony mega monster is a hunk of a TV that is nearly a three-man lift. We moved it onto the floor, and pushed it out of the way. I was able to lift the 42 inch replacement up on my own, we plugged in the power socket and then hunted for ten minutes looked for the power switch before realising the socket was not switched on.

We then went through the installation, which the TV itself took us through, and it became clear that this was not really a TV, more like a computer with a huge screen. I plugged Sky in, and programmed the port, and we had TV. Shame there was so little on it on what was to be the last night with Sky. In the end we found the radio on the i player.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Wednesday 13th August 2014


I woke on what was still Sunday evening with a sudden allergy attack. I have no idea what set it off, but shortly after going to bed, the sneezing begin, and violently. I took drugs, then more drugs, and about four hours later it settled down without the full-blown attack, but still, four hours short of sleep, and it’s a school day.

So, after dropping Jools off at the factory, I drove to Ramsgate, in the light traffic which is typical of the school holidays. The guys were then on their way out, so I had the office to myself, or at least a choice of desks, and so had one by the window.

During the day, the largest and blackest of storm clouds appeared and swept over what looked like Dover, and it seemed we would get a drenching too. But it passed over the channel and we could see the French coast getting bucketfuls. We did kop a hailstorm in the afternoon, so violent it set off car alarms in the car park.

By the time I drove home, it was sunny again, and after picking Jools up, we headed home along Reach Road with stunning views over to the coast where Calais was easily seen.

So, we have a plan; we are to get rid of Sky TV, buy a new TV with freeview, get a new digital aerial, thus saving £40 a month, which means the TV will pay for itself in a year or so. I am to organize the aerial, and the TV, we will see.


I dropped Jools of at the factory again, and there was hope that there would be low enough winds for the fly past of vintage aircraft which was to mark the centenary of the first aircraft deployment of WW1. It was cancelled Monday because of wind and rain, and as I had to head into town for a quick job at the bank for Nan, I thought I would stop off to see the spectacle.

I headed out at one, and found half of Kent at the NT’s site on the white cliffs. For the original fly past yesterday, there was zero publicity, but the BBC and local news made a big thing of the cancellation, and said they were to try again the next day, hence the world and his wife were there waiting for the fly by.

Needless to say, there was no information at the site, I found out via facebook that the vintage planes could not take off, so only a single Tornado would be flying. I snapped that and left, leaving hundreds still waiting (in vain) for the fly past.

Panavia Tornado of II (AC) squadron

I went to the bank, and then headed home, passing the people I had left on the cliffs as they made their ways home too. I worked until 5, and then went to pick Jools up and then onto Folkestone to look at TVs.

TVs are much bigger and cheaper since the last time I bought one in 2000. For £500 we got a 42 inch flatscreen smart, 3D TV. Heck, it even fitted in the car and I was able to lift it on my own, more than I can say for the old CRT we have at the moment. The new aerial is being fitted on Thursday, so we have one very large hunk of 20th century technology to get rid of now.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Tuesday 12th August 2014


In fact, this day of the week is misnamed, in that if anything, it should have been called Moonday. Why moon day? Well, in a word: supermoon.

Supermoon, a moon but then some. IN fact, it was super in that it was a full moon at the earth’s closest pass to its satellite, apogee I believe its called.

But then we had to have the rain. Lots of rain.

I went out to check the decking, it was still (mostly) there, and the smouldering had been doused by the rain over night. And soon enough the rain began in earnest, falling heavier and heavier. But the anticipated midday storm did not arrive, but seemed to pass to the north of us.

Sunday summer storm

As we wanted to see the moon rise at eight in the evening, we decided to have dinner at lunchtime, just like we did when we was kids, so I cooked roast chicken, stuffing, Yorkshire puddings, roast spuds and veg. Oh my word, it was glorious, but rather large. I had also done a batch of short cakes the day before, and being hungry at 11 meant we had snacked a tad.

The afternoon was spent laying down and trying to stay awake as we digested dinner. At seven we headed out to the cliffs, and I took the chance to inspect the Autumn Ladies Tresses. They are coming on very well indeed. There were four Swiss camper vans parked up at the monument, but we left them and set up the tri pods on the cliff edge, not too close to the edge of course.

And waited.

August super moon

As we looked out east-south-east, we could see a layer of cloud over France, which meant we did not see the actual moon rise. 5 minutes passed, and another. More time passed, and at nearly quarter past, we could just make out the shape of the moon through the mist, only just though. It rose further, and soon cleared the clouds. We got our shots, but as we decided we were now hungry, we headed back home for cheese and crackers, and to look at the shots. Super moon on shed roof>

I took one last shot looking out the back door with the 50mm lens, and that was it. The weekend over, the light was so bright outside, the sky was not black, but dark blue. Out the back of the house, the light of the moon was shone strong we could make out the colours of the plants in the garden.

Monday, 11 August 2014

Monday 11th August 2014

It is very rarely that I can say with some certainty what I was doing 15 years ago. But I can say that today, as on the 11th August 1999, I was flying to Las Vegas on det with the RAF. Its a hard life and someone has to go, stay in 5* hotels, visit casinos, live on $95 a day rates, so it may as well have been me, right?

And so we left Lyneham at oh oh me dearie dearie me hours when despite it being August it was still dark. This was to drive the hour to Brize, and be ready for wheels at dawn. Or something. Now quite why the military likes early starts, and says, oh i don't know, shall we meet just after brunch and go from there? NO it had be at the crack of sparras.

As we waited for the take off to Sin City, the pilot came over the tannoy and announced he wanted to see the eclipse, and so he had filed a flight plan so that we would.

Now, the eclipse: I had wanted to see this since at the age of young, my parents had bought a Readers Digest map of the world and in it, it listed the eclipses for the rest of the century, including this one, which would be visible from Cornwall. Only I would be flying to Vegas when the eclipse was due.

Only I was going to see it, whilst, sadly, the rest of the UK would not see it due to cloud. Fancy that.

And so we took off, flew to Cornwall, circled a bit and the sky darkened, stars came out and the eclipse begun. It was amazing, night at mid morning. I got to the window to just see the final moments of totality, then the effect known as Baily's Beads shown as sunlight could be see through the mountains of the edge of the moon, giving a diamond ring effect.

We flew onto Vegas, where we checked into the hotel, then like good airmen we hit the town with the offgoing team, then stayed out. Stayed out until half nine the next morning. I think we had been up 48 hours and were drunk as skunks for the detachment briefing. Our baby engineering officer was complaining, so we threw her in the pool to shut her up. she got out complaining, so we threw her back. I hope she found it as funny as we did.


We had plenty of tidying up to do. Two weeks building work creates lots of dust and rubble and rubbish, so we tidied up, went to the tip. I went to Tesco to get the weekly shop.

In truth, the day kinda slipped away from us. I mowed the lawn in the afternoon and then had a beer on the patio admiring the good work I had done.

what I can say is that the house looks really good with the rubble and rubbish cleared up and will look sensational when the new windows are put in and the render applied.

I did also do a lot of reading, Peter Juke's crowdfunded book on the hacking trial, Beyond Contempt. I helped crowdfund the live tweeting he did, and paid up front to get the e book version. Reading the back story and the behind the scenes dram is very interesting, and it is good to think that I help him achieve this. Why you ask: well, can we really rely on the newspapers to report accurately on their own failings? In a word: no. We can't, and Peter managed to avoid multiple contempt and tweet accurately and concisely. A stunning piece of work.

And in this way, the day passed.

In the evening we sat down to watch a taped documentary on John Webster, the playwright. All was going well until Jools announced she was going to have a bonfire. She had obtained an oil drum for such purposes, and so all was set and all went well until the decking caught fire.

The patio survives, again

It has happened before, and with a sigh we got the hosepipe out to douse the smouldering planks, and then sit outside until I was sure it would not flare up again.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Sunday 10th August 2014


Last day of the week, so i work from home, dealing with the latest issues that the wonders of the internet brought. Of course, the outlook inbox means that dealing with that stops you dealing with the work you should be doing, to the extent that some days you don't get round to doing what you planned.

The day passed, I cooked a pepper and cheese omelette for lunch, then did a couple more hours before Jools came back from work to take us down into town for yet more onshore banking business.

We parked up and walked to the bank, we were showed right in and so the hard stuff began. Anyway, I won't go into details, but it all went well. Once done, Jools had to go back to work, due to the time she spent dealing with this week, so i said I would wait in the Rack of Ale, which seemed like a good idea.

And that is what happened, I walked up to the Rack of Ale and went in, there was a seat waiting, so I tried a few beers, and had a few good conversations, as you do. No matter who you meet in there, it feels like you're in there with friends. A great place to go at the end of the week.

Needless to say, the thought of cooking after three pints was not attractive, so we decided to have Chinese for dinner, with a large cuppa instead. We rounded the day watching the 10th anniversary edition of Who do you Think you Are? before hitting the wooden hill. In the wider world, the first game of the season was under way, but tiredness toook me to my bed.

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Saturday 9th August 2014

I hope you all enjoyed the previous post. I did enjoy writing it, my choosing the songs was difficult. As I said those are tunes that remind me of important times in my life, not my favourite songs of all time. For that there would have to be some Echo and the Bunnymen and Jesus and Mary Chain and other wonderful stuff.

Anyway, back to the ordinary blog, and back to Thursday.


I decided to head into the office, whilst the builders were going to batter the house for the last day. So, after dropping Jools off, I headed over to Ramsgate, arriving just in time to see the guys heading out to the linkspan to climb onto their boats for a day's work. I got much done, but would have got more if it not for the chatting. Now, normally, I like a good chat as much as the next guy, but when it goes on for an hour, and as i edge towards the door I still am forced to listen, well.

Anyway, enough of that.

The Port of Call, Market Square, Dover, Kent

At three, I head into town to meet with Jools as we have to go to the bank, so I drive into Dover, park by the Co-op, and wait for her to arrive. When I say wait for her to arrive, I mean wanter down Flying horse lane to snap the old cinema being demolished and then heading to the newest micropub in town, The Port of Call, to see how good the beer was. Good news is that the beer was good, and the pub is also good, as on hot days they can throw open all the doors on one saide facing the market square, allowing a cool breeze to blow through. Very nice.

The Port of Call, Market Square, Dover, Kent

After some onshore banking business, we head home along Reach Road, where the view over the Channel to France are stunning, thanks to a shower earlier in the day washing the dust from the atmosphere. Once home we find the guys have finished outside the house, the final part, repairing the kitchen window brickwork had been done, and that is it now until the new windows are done and can be fitted. Some three weeks of peace then.

Former Granada Cinema, Dover, Kent

And that is it for another day, the seat was moved back under the kitchen window, and as jools was meeting some friends for dinner, i stayed home, mopped the kitchen floor, played some kraftwerk very loud annoying the dog next door, apparently. Then sat on the bench watching the swallows doing aerobatics catching flies and insects as the light faded. Overhead the moon was well over half full, with the promise of a stunning moonrise on Sunday with super-duper moon or something.

There will be pictures of that, and other things of course.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Blog #1,000 Desert Island Jelltex

Hello and welcome to my 1,000th blog. I have been trying to think of how to make this special, and so what I thought I would do is list my eight favourite tracks, or tracks that link to important milestones in my life. Some tracks you will know, others may come as a surprise, as in true Desert Island Disc style, these are not all my favourites, but as I said, important track to me and my life.

I was born as the only child of two only children, which means there was only ever six of us who gathered for Christmas and other occasions. I was quiet if happy. My Father worked in the building industry, as a carpenter. Eventually, he went back into industry, the shipbuilding industry, until that was privatised and went bust within two years.

My father was a union shop steward, and so my political beliefs are very socialist in outlook. As a result of my life since, I have visited many stately homes and country houses, with the occasional palace thrown in. And I see how the landed gentry and royals benefited from the enclosure act, corralling common land for their own use and profit. Whilst the common man suffered in poverty.

Billy Bragg is someone I loved since his first album, Life’s a Riot, and saw him live at least once. Memory can play tricks on us at this age. A World Turned Upside Down is based on a true story how a group of people, The Diggers, set up their own common land in defiance of the landowners. No surprise when they were wiped out by the landowners and local militia.

In 1649
To St. George’s Hill,
A ragged band they called the Diggers
Came to show the people’s will
They defied the landlords
They defied the laws
They were the dispossessed reclaiming what was theirs

We come in peace they said
To dig and sow
We come to work the land in common
And to make the wasteland grow
This earth divided
We will make whole
So it will be
A common treasury for all

The sin of property
We do disdain
No man has any right to buy and sell
The earth for private gain
By theft and murder
They took the land
Now everywhere the walls
Spring up at their command

They make the laws
To chain us well
The clergy dazzle us with heaven
Or they damn us into hell
We will not worship
The God they serve
The God of greed who feed the rich
While poor men starve

We work we eat together
We need no swords
We will not bow to the masters
Nor pay rent to the lords
Still we are free
Though we are poor
You Diggers all stand up for glory Stand up now

From the men of property
The orders came
They sent the hired men and troopers
To wipe out the Diggers’ claim
Tear down their cottages
Destroy their corn
They were dispersed
But still the vision lingers on

You poor take courage
You rich take care
This earth was made a common treasury
For everyone to share
All things in common
All people one
You Diggers all
Stand up for glory
Stand up now!

When it comes down to my all time favourite track, it comes down to picking between Love Will Tear us Apart and Song to the Siren. It’s like choosing between a favourite between your children, I would imagine. Maybe not that bad, but you know.

In the end it is Love Will Tear us Apart that gets the mod. Everything about it is perfect, from the simplicity, the apparent uptempo melody, the mournful bass from Hooky, and then the most devastating lyric detailing the breakdown of a relationship.

When it came out, I was into rock, AC/DC, and so did not appreciate it until years later. By then me and all my friends were huge Joy Division and New Order fans, and some would discuss the meaning for Ian’s words for hours on end. At the beginning of 1993, after winning some money, I topped up my record collection with all of Joy Division’s records, something I have not regretted, even if I don’t play them that often, they are always there.

So, this is for all my friends from school, all those who I am still in contact with, those I have lost contact with and those who are no longer with us. So, for Jim and Chris:

When routine bites hard,
And ambitions are low,
And resentment rides high,
But emotions won't grow,
And we're changing our ways,
Taking different roads.

Then love, love will tear us apart again.
Love, love will tear us apart again.

Why is the bedroom so cold?
You've turned away on your side.
Is my timing that flawed?
Our respect runs so dry.
Yet there's still this appeal
That we've kept through our lives.

But love, love will tear us apart again.
Love, love will tear us apart again.

You cry out in your sleep,
All my failings exposed.
And there's a taste in my mouth,
As desperation takes hold.
Just that something so good
Just can't function no more.

But love, love will tear us apart again.
Love, love will tear us apart again.
Love, love will tear us apart again.
Love, love will tear us apart again.

In 1990, I joined the RAF for what turned out to be 15 years. In that time I went to such diverse places as Southern Italy, The Falklands, Las Vegas and Wolverhampton. It was, for the most part, wonderful. Of course I met some wonderful people, and some not so wonderful ones too. Without two friends who joined up first, and told me what it was like, I would never have thought of joining, but it is something I never regretted.

There are many songs that remind me of my time in the RAF, and in a surprise move it was almost Shania Twain’s That Don’t Impress me Much that nearly won out. Back in 1999, during a detachment to Nellis AFB, we took along a ‘baby’ engineering officer with us, to act as the fourth person in the prep team, in the understanding that she was there to prep, not to be an engineering officer, and be under the command of our Sgt, Dave D. Needless to say, things did not go to plan, and the four man team was regularly a three man team as Rach did officer type things, or could just not handle the pace and heat of working in the desert. The biggest song at the time was the afore mentioned Shania Twain one, and so John Weller and myself began singing a new version which began: “So, you’re an engineering officer, that don’t impress me much”. We bought the CD from the BX, and had it start every time we got into the wagon.

It drove Dave mad trying to work out what we were angry about and why this song, so we did tell him in the end. Working 15 hour days in 110 degree heat in the desert was hard, hard work, especially when the liney were on Deci shifts. However, work hard and play hard, and we went out every night to a casino or another for some drinking, fine eating. This lasted for two weeks, on three hours sleep a night, until we all broke on my 34th birthday in Club Rio when we all fell asleep at a table and were asked to leave. At nine in the evening.

Back in September 1990, during basic training at RAF Swinderby on the Lincolnshire wolds, the on camp bar, The Newcomers Club, has a video jukebox, and my favourite track of the time, and the one song that takes me back to those carefree days is Hard to Handle by the Black Crowes. The video was a montage of scene from a tour in sometown USA, and took me away from the endless drill, PT and GSK that made our days.

I have been married twice before. I am not bitter about it. I am bitter that my two ex-wives married for other reasons other than love. I am sure that either of them, if you were ask them, would say something different. I can only speak from my point of view and this is where my words are coming from.

I never thought I would marry, but then into my parent’s home came this Yugoslavian woman, whom they had met on holiday in Yugoslavia. She stayed for a couple of weeks in 1988, and again for what should have been six months in 1991. It is clear now that her parents were aware that war was coming, and she wanted to find herself an English husband so she could stay here. There were three candidates, me, Dougie and James. And I was chosen, possibly because we saw each other during the weekends when I came home from the RAF. I fell hook, line, sinker and copy of the Angling Times for her, and was naive to believe that we would live happily ever after.

It did not pan out that way, and we argued more and more, until the summer of 1994 it became clear things were going to end badly. I left the married quarter on May Day 1995, and instantly felt better about things. It was clear that I was never going back. She realized about a month later when I was constantly putting off any decision about moving back.

The divorce came through over the festive period between Christmas and New Year at the end of that year, when I was home celebrating what turned out to be Dad’s last Christmas. After he died in April the next year, I got posted back to the UK, and never saw Andrea again, although she did contact me about eight years ago, seeing if I would take her and her children back, (she re-married, and quickly got pregnant after we spit).

By this time I had met someone else, and somehow we ended up getting married, in what really was an attempt to save money. We had bought a house in Lowestoft, and travelling back and forth from Wiltshire, where I was now posted, was killing my bank account. Marriage did not make things any better, and in the end we hated each other more than I ever did Andrea.

When I got my fitter’s course in November 1999, I knew I was never going back, I found out about her affair, and put in motion divorce proceedings. It was messy, drawn out and spiteful, at least on her part. And she used her son in the battles, with him telling me the last time I saw him in May 2000 that: “Mum says I mustn’t tell you that I love you any more, or call you Dad”. I can honestly say I never used him in any way against her, God knows it would have been easy.

Sadly, she was slowly killing herself with diabetes, which took her less than four years later, as the doctors had predicted with before the final stroke, losing her legs, her sight. Such a waste and a child motherless at 16.

I found this via my Bank Manager who told me ‘under the circumstances’ they were prepared to close our joint bank accounts. What circumstances? So I was told she had died, and I found her obituary online.

Back in 1996, whilst in Vegas with the RAF, I picked up a copy of A Few Small Repairs, and the final song says everything I felt about both marriage breakdowns. To make a relationship work or fail takes both sides, I take my share of the blame.

Well I don't tell jokes
And I don't take notes
You been sayin'
There ain't much hope
You got nothin' on me

I got friends uptown And they don't talk down They've been keepin me safe and sound We got somethin' to be

So in case you hadn't noticed
I'm alright
Not like it was before
Things used to be so hopeless
But not tonight
Tonight I'm walkin' out that door

I'm not gonna cry
When wavin' goodbye
And I know this time
You got nothin' on me

Well it ain't that tough
To score the usual stuff
One heartache is more than enough
There ain't nothing to see

I got friends uptown
And they still come 'round
They've been keepin' me safe and sound
We got somethin' to be

So don't you try to save me
With your advice
Or turn me into something else
'Cuz I'm not crazy
And you're not nice

Baby if you do Keep it to yourself

I'm not gonna cry
And I'm wavin' goodbye
And I know this time
You got nothin' on me

(No nothin' on me)

I'm not gonna cry
And I'm wavin' goodbye
And I know this time
You got nothin' on me

I'm not gonna cry
And I'm wavin' goodbye
And I know this time
You got nothin' on me

Jools and I have very similar tastes in music, and we had many identical records and CDs in our collections. As well as this, we have discovered so much great new music together, via the radio and in particular, Radio 6.

I am lucky in having met two wonderful women, one of whom I ended up marrying. I learnt to trust and love again, which is a wonderful gift.

Jools and I met via the internet in 2004, met in person in 2006, and married in 2008. It just seemed the right thing to do. By mid-2007, I had moved to Kent permananetly, at least when I wasn’t working offshore on the survey boats. If you go back to the beginning of this blog, back in September 2008, you will find a description of our honeymoon in Tuscany. We were sitting outside a small café one evening, situated in an ancient walled town, and on the radio White Winter Hymnal came on the radio. It was just perfect.

As well as loving Fleet Foxes, we have been to see many gigs together: Arcade Fire, Bellowhead, Ting Tings, The Bad Shepherds, Eliza Carthy, all of which have been shared experiences, and sharing life’s ups and downs is what being in a relationship means.

As we are nearing the end of this blog, it is time to fill the remaining three slots with three of my all time favourite tunes. Not bad this as I am making it up as I go along, turning out pretty good it seems to me.

Anyway, one song that is guaranteed to either lift me from a trough of misery or raise my spirits even higher. After a bad day delivering dangerous chemicals or played when I’m working out makes me go that little bit harder, faster and further.

Another cold cup of coffee from The Clash.

In 2005, I left the RAF, and in celebration, I planned a trip to the US. It turned into a rambling and sprawling nine weeks holiday, the centerpiece was a four week long drive down the west coast from Seattle to LA along route 101 and California route 1.

Looking back it was probably the best thing I ever did, as I weaned myself off the over-reliance I had on service life and its demands. I spent two weeks with a friend in New Hampshire, we drove to Niagara for a short holiday. A holiday within a holiday if you like, then I flew to Seattle collected a Mustang convertible, as you do, for the trip down to LA.

Two weeks or so away is pretty much what I had had during my time in the RAF, so with my trip entering the third week, and me having 28 days with little planned ahead, just the open road, I felt free for the first time. Free to make my own decisions and choices.

I had a great time, and the details are recorded in two sets of shots on Flickr, with pictures of course. But it was driving through Napa Valley, the roof was down on the Mustang, and She Bangs the Drums came on the CD player. It all made sense, the past was yours, but the future is MINE.

But, we’re all out of time……….

And so to the final choice of mine.

During the 1980s, I spent most weekday evenings, like many people my age, and those younger and even older, listening to a radio show on Radio 1. John Peel was our hero, playing the best songs of today, yesterday, and as it turned out, tomorrow too. I recorded many songs off his show, and still have the tapes even now. I still play them, listening to his inbetween song banter, usually apologizing for playing the preceding record at the wrong speed or the wrong side.

Oh how we miss him today. We will never see another who was so passionate about music, not the bands, just the music.

In choosing which sing to play from all those which he championed, and I grew to love is difficult, and indeed, even as I write these words, I still don’t know which song it is I am going to choose. Anything by The Smiths, The Fall (of course), New Order would be appropriate or indeed, perfect. But it should be something that only he would play, something that he played first, and in the years that followed, he was proved right. Hmmm, let me think about that a while.

I was going to choose Coup by 23 Skidoo, but something only Peely (and Tony H Wilson) saw, was the Happy Mondays. I bring you WFL.

Turns out I was right in the first place after finding that the bassline was nicked from this for Block Rocking Beat, so it is Coup after all.

For my book, I would take Spike Milligan’s war diaries, Goodbye Soldier if pushed for just the one. Not too fussed about a luxury, but I suppose a camera to record my adventures on the island. And if I had to pick just one track; Train in Vain.

Here's to the next thousand, hope you liked this blog and thanks for joining me along for the ride.

(New) Seasons greetings

Friday evening sees the beginning of the football season. It seems only a few days ago since the last kick of last season happened.

It was.

The football league season ended on the first weekend in May, but the Premier League season limped on, well I am a Norwich fan, for three more weeks, then we had the play offs, the Champion League Final, the Europa League Final, international friendlies, then the world cup. By which time, the new season as already under way, as the very early rounds of the European cups had already begun by the beginning of June. Or so it seemed.

Then the world cup went on until, what was it, the 13th July. By that time, not only had the European games already begun, so had the pre-season friendlies. As I write this, the Premier League teams have criss-crossed the world, playing games before returning home for another round of friendlies, before their season begins next week. And then 38 league games, up to eight FA cup games, six league Cup games, 15 European games. All in all, a lot of football.

And most of it on TV one way or another; live Football League on Friday nights, Premier League games on Saturday lunchtime and teatime, and up to three games on Sunday afternoon, with maybe another game on Monday evening. Champion’s League on Tuesday and Wednesday, Europa League on Thursday, and with League Cup games mixed in as well.

That is a lot of football. And a lot of games for the top players to play. No wonder they are so tired. I got tired just writing that down. I make something like 67 games, plus internationals all over 9 months, 40 weeks. That’s too much football. And that’s coming from someone who likes football. A lot. But not that much.

Less football, and players playing less games, so that at the end of the season they are not shattered and the World Cup or Euros are a celebration of what is best in the game.

My plan is for players to play no more than 25 games a season in the league, ten in Europe, so that clubs would have to give others a chance, thus increasing the players pool of those who get a game, hopefully, some of which would actually be English. Maybe.

Norwich begin their first season in League 2 for four years, and the chances of promotion are slim: only 3 out of the last 21 relegated clubs have bounced right back. So, with a rookie manager, players who can’t score, we’re up against it. Probably. I will always support them, but it will not define my weekend, but it will be a relief to actually win a few games this season, hopefully.

Thursday 7th August 2014


When I woke up I knew that all was not right with me. But I settled down to work at the dining room table, as I do most mornings, only to find that within half an hour a migraine building. I could not focus on the computer screen, so I sat on the sofa with my eyes closed for two hours until it abated. I started work again, but was oddly washed out, and within an hour another one, this time with additional headache appeared, and so there was nothing for it that to head to bed and wait for it to pass.

Operation "Big Job": Day 8

I guess I snoozed for most of the afternoon, or at least tried to as the guys battered the house further into shape, very hard to ignore when they are hammering in the new facial of the roof a few inches from the end of the bed.

Still, come the end of the afternoon, the worst passed, and I felt good enough to get up, and think about dinner. Thankfully we had enough pasta and breaded aubergine left from the day before, so it was a case of just plating it up and pouring a drink to go with it.

Can I get to my macro lens, please

In the evening, it seemed sensible to get some fresh air, so we drove to the Dover Patrol to inspect the Autumn Ladies Tresses and to take in the evening sunshine. The tiny orchids were beginning to open, and so I got some shots, I am sure hardly anyone knows these are here, I only know because of another one of those chance meetings and conversations who told me where the orchids could be found.

Bird house cat

Looking along the coast, the fields had been cleared of bales, and the ploughing had already begun. The seasons really are moving on. It is just about dark before nine now, and now that the scaffolding has been removed from the front garden, the badgers are returning and clearing up the bird food and scraps we leave out.

Autumn lady's-tresses, Spiranthes spiralis

One other thing that happened during the day was Molly brought in a fledgling wren, I rescued it, and despite it looking stunned looked like it might survive. I put it in the front hedge and waited to see if it would pull through. It seemed to sleep for an hour, but on my last visit to check up on it, my finger poke was rewarded with the little fella flying off so it could live another day.

Birds 1, cats 0.