Friday, 31 October 2014

Friday 31st October 2014


Time to go home.

I am awake before dawn breaks, and so listen to those working over at the Royal Mail distribution depot over the road, and of the trains arriving and departing from the station. I turn the radio on, listen to the news, then begin packing, having a shower, and waiting for when the smell of bacon frying creeps under my door meaning it is time for breakfast.

By ten past eight, I am ready to go, and I think I might try to sneak onto an earlier train. I walk to the station and down the slope to the entrance, show my ticket and make my way onto the platform to find there is no train. Just lots of passengers. Oddly, there is one on the next platform, but that is not for us, we have to wait for the one from London so we can travel on that. It arrives late, so late there is no time to allocate the reserved seating, which means I am fine to travel on this one, if I can find a seat. Once the rush has died down, there are many empties, and so I sink into one at the end of the quiet coach, and close my eyes and await the lurch that signals we would be on our way.

The guard announces that there are no reservations, the tannoy does not work (but how can we hear him?) and there is no hot water for tea or coffee. The guard walks down the train once un the trip down, and makes no eye contact. At each station we have to explain to the new arrivals that there are no reservations, and we know we are in your seats. By the time we leave Colchester, it is standing room only, and there are lots of angry people grumble as they have to stand. Being half term, there are many parents, now stressed, with their children having to stand all the way into London.

As we pull into Liverpool Street, the rain that was promised by the BBC that morning arrives, and it is a grey and miserable day. We file slowly down the platform, through the barriers, and I quickly make my way up to Bishopsgate where the first church lies. Or at least along and then turn left, and then straight ahead. Other people off the train just stand and stare at the mass of humanity passing before them, and try to work out which way they have to go. I am off to All Hallows on the Wall. Its on the wall you know!

All Hallows on the Wall

I am off up the stairs and out into the drizzle, past the beggars outside, down Bishopsgate and then left and along to London Wall, a street named after, er, the Roman London Wall, which can still be seen in places. I come to a dark brick building, with high windows, I am sure this is the place, and indeed it is. I climb the few steps and enter, and am met by two volunteers who see if I need a leaflet, information or anything else. They are very kind, but I am keen just to get on and explore and take my shots. But in fact there is not too much to see, as it is the smallest City church I have visited, and it seems now set up to be a concert venure, with chairs laid out found a small stage against the south wall.

I take the shots, and then study the map to see my next port of call, St Sepulchre Without Newgate. It is quite a walk, some 15 minutes, and in the increasingly heavy rain. But I walk quick enough and soon am on Holborn and I see the Old Baily on the other side of the road, and I know the church is very near. And so it is, almost opposite the Law Courts, and where the condemned would make their peace with God before being taken to the gallows at Newgate, also nearby. Inside the church is the bell that would ring out the peals of doom, that signalled the end of some poor soul's life.

St Sepulchre Without Newgate

The church is magnificent, and so full of interesting and fascinating things, that it is quite overwhelming. But I go round, with two more volunteers making sure I had all the information I needed. They tried to make the lights brighter, but only managed to turn more off. Such is the way, but by that point I had the shots I wanted.

I was going to give St Dunstan in the West a miss and make straight for St Magnus, but I got my directions mixed up and found myself in Fleet Street anyway, with St Dunstan in front of me, just the thousand or so other pedestrians to get by. The church was dark and gloomy, but wonderful, and so full of life as it is shared with a Romanian church, so there is icons everywhere. It is wonderful, and octagonal too, which is so unusual. It is so dark, however, many of my shots don't come out clear and are blurred, so a return is required. No great shakes.

St Dunstan in the West

Back outside, it is raining harder, and I flag a taxi down to take me to St Magnus the Martyr, which should be open by now. It was, but also wasn't, as at half twelve, in a minute, would be closed for a service. I could wait an hour or go home. I decide to get a taxi to the station and get the quarter past one train back.

King's Cross

The train is waiting, I get one of my preferred seats and wait for departure time, gliding out and into the long tunnel beneath east London, getting closer to home each minute.

Jools is waiting for me to take me home, its raining here as well, and she has to go back to work to complete her final day (again) at the factory as she has two days holiday to take before she starts work on Monday. Once inside, I make a cuppa and review my shots, and begin editing, inbetween tending to the cats' every desire. It is good to be home.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Thursday 30th October 2014


Oh yes, waking up just before dawn, secure in the knowledge that I had nothing planned to do for the day, other than have a wonderful stroll along the river through Norwich, meeting with a friend, and maybe a return visit to the beer festival in the evening. Oh yes, this is the life.

Passing Crown Point

I put the radio on to listen to the business news, and then the round up of the world news and events at six. I went down for breakfast at half seven, a small fry up which sets me up wonderfully for the day. Outside the sun is already shining with a warm light, best get out there and make the most of it.

I walk down to the bridge over the main railway, pausing to snap a few comings and goings, enjoying the sight of locomotive hauled trains, and enjoying that although it was still just half eight, it was already warm enough not to have a coat on, and so my decision to leave mine in the room was already proved correct.

Autumnal walk along the River Wensum, Norwich

Down from the bridge, past the former site of the Clarence Harbour pub, now some small houses, and round the football ground, just remembering some of the great games I saw here over the years, but now are in the past as I seem to be a live-away fan now I’m settled in Kent, and so maybe my game attending days are at an end.

I was due to meet a friend, Sarah, at half nine on the bridge over the river, so I had 45 minutes to kill. I walk to Carrow Bridge, looking on at the profusion of flats and the such which now line the river on both side, taking the place of the industry and warehouses that used to be there. The flats are sure better looking than the warehouses, but it seems that our heritage, or the city’s is being lost a bit at a time.

The sun shines, if anything, even more golden, I wander round, taking shots as the clock ticks down towards half nine. Sarah arrives, and so we able along Riverside, past the glut of bars and nightclubs that opened and then closed in the area around the cinema, on what used to be the locomotive sheds (32A) of Thorpe station. Beyond Prince of Wales Road, we crossed to the other side of the river, past Puls Ferry and on the left, fine views of the Anglican cathedral over the playing fields of Norwich School.

Autumnal walk along the River Wensum, Norwich

Over Bishop’s Bridge and onto the sharp bend at Cow Tower, where the sunlight fell dappled through the boughs of the ancient trees on both sides of the river, and golden leaves floated with the current like a tiny golden armada. Round the back of the old hospital, past Jarrolds factory and into the area around the Ribs of Beef pub at Fye Bridge.

Autumnal walk along the River Wensum, Norwich

We stop for coffee and a scone in the arts cafĂ© by the bridge, before carrying on along the river, making for the final bridge by the old brewery, along the way taking in many fine sights, and the massive queue for the lunchtime session at the beer festival which snaked its way over the footbridge over the river. Maybe later, Ian…..

Autumnal walk along the River Wensum, Norwich

Once we reach the final city bridge, Sarah asks if I want to come to hers for a bite of lunch. More of a slurp really, as its soup, but the offer is accepted and so we walk up the hill, under the shadow of the RC cathedral and into the leafy mature suburbs where she and her husband lived.

Autumnal walk along the River Wensum, Norwich

Soup was fine, as was the coffee and warm mince pie, but the day was getting on, and not wanting to extend their hospitality, I bid them goodbye, and walk back into the city, looking for a place to get a haircut. In the end, one of the places I used to use, Gatsby’s had a spare chair, and so I went in and they poor lad tried to tame my mane. I felt a stone lighter, and so what better way to celebrate other and with a pint of the Dark Pils from Redwell. No better way indeed.

I decide that the beer festival should be avoided, but then it is not the only one taking place, I know where more beer can be sampled. So I stroll through the city centre, making my way up Timber Hill to The Murderers, where a dozen more beers are ready for tasting.

I have a couple of pints of Wadsworth Swordfish, which was very nice, and as it was now getting dark outside, thoughts turned to dinner. I make my way to one final pub, The Wheatsheaf and order a burger and another pint before heading back to the hotel, as it was now seven, and I was cold without my coat.

I fell asleep sometime after eight, waking up only to turn the radio off, another fine Norfolk day ended with me sound asleep.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Wednesday 29th October 2014


Back to work.

Only, its not. You see, I cleared my calendar for a few days this week so I could go to the beer festival in Norwich. And why not, there will be precious little time off from this point on, possibly until the early summer, so get it in now!

Jools, sadly because of the firing and then re-employment thing, dod not have enough holiday, or so she thought, to accompany me, so I booked travel and hotel for myself, and at half eight, Jools dropped me off in Dover so I could grab a second breakfast before catching the nine o'clock train out to Ashford and then a quick change, and onto Stratford.

Loco heaven at Norwich Thorpe

I went into Chaplins for a medium breakfast (no tomatoes, extra hash browns) and that set me up very well for the day indeed. I could not leave until nine, as train rules mean that if you arrive in London before ten, that counts as peak time, and almost double the fare. So, I am happy enough with the train I have to catch, as I would arrive in Norwich at half twelve, giving me five hours to pass before the drinking would begin.

The train is quite full, I realise that this week the kids are on holiday, which means that on this the first cheap train to London, most Kentish families would be taking the kiddies up to that London for the day.

I get off at Stratford and listen as a stressed young Mother tried to find out from a train cleaner, who did not know, where the train for Norwich left from. Feeling sorry for her and her son, I said that I would be catching the same train, and so I would take her to make sure she got on it. She was relieved. So we sat at the front of the DLR train for one stop, the passing by platform 10 we went to 10A, a different platofrm, oddly, and waited in the right area of the platform where the standard class seating would be. She and her son, and I, got on and soon were whizzing through the north London suburbs and in to Essex, heading north and into the wilds of East Anglia. Through Chelmsford, Colchester, Ipswich and into Norfolk at last, arriving in Norwich just about on time and with time, for me, to spare.

Redwell Dark Pils infused with coffee beans and chocolate

I drop my bag off at the hotel, and my room was ready so I freshen up before walking back out into the wonderful late autumn sunshine. Up Pronce of Wales Road, where even more clubs and bars seem to have opened, along past the cathedral into Tombland to the new brewery tap for Redwell, The Mash Tun for a relaxing beer, a warm up for the festivities later on. I have a pint of pale ale, then try their dark pils which was infused with coffee beans and dark chocolate. It was stunning, so much so I have a second.

Norwich Market

I walk to the fish bar opposite the old Pottergate Tavern for a big portion of chips and a battered sausage, something to line my stomach with! I sit on a bench next to a young couple, who were smoking pot and discussing what tattoos to get next, as well as his next appointment with a psychiatrist. Maybe pot was not the best idea, I don't know, but they were happy enough, in their simple simon druggy way, talking about getting an apple tattooed on his adam's apple, maybe with an arrow through it. The arrow would be a classy touch! I leave them to it, and walk to the mustard museum shop, hoping to get some powdered mustard for Anni at work, but they have had printing problems with the bags, apparently, and have none.

37th Norwich Beer Festival

Time then to head to St Andrew's Hall to queue up for the festival. It is good to be near the front, to get in early, get a table and have the choice of beers. My friend Simon was coming in to town to join me, and I get the message he will be with me just before 5. He is surprised that there is a queue. In fact on a busy session, it goes all the way down to Colgate, but lunchtimes are usually quieter, even on the first night.

37th Norwich Beer Festival

At half five we are let in, we get our glasses, our beer tokens and get a table before selecting our first beers. We are joined by a couple of couples, with whom we chat with and watch as the ladies get tipsy very quickly on strong cider. At half eight, and after several pints, it is time for Simon to head to the station for his train home. There is time to call in at the Compleat Angler for a pint before he goes, leaving me to drink up and then head back to the hotel for a cuppa and to fall asleep.

Tuesday 28th October 2014

I know its not Tuesday, but I'm a little behind with my writing. I ran out of time on Monday morning, before I had to rush out to catch a train back to the old country. So, here is what we did with the rest of the weekend.


And what to do with the extra hour we have been given with them clocks going back? Well, the obvious thing would be stay in bed, but in fact we did get up, make coffee, feed the cats, check the e mails, and then watch MOTD, as usual.

THe plan for the day was to fix the downpipes so that water would flow into our two new waterbutts. Big water butts. I like big butts. So, we looked at what needed to be done, and headed out to B&Q to get some pipes, joints and the such. Then, back home, have a brew and think how to do it. First was to plumb the one in which was to be fed from the guttering round the roof. I read the instructions,a nd seemed they supplied a joint, and after cutting the pipe in half, put in the joint, added the hos to join that up to the butt. And it worked.

At which point we had another cuppa.

We then constructed a zig zag pipe from the car port roof to the second butt, which as it turned out hasn't worked too well. And I know why: not enough bodge tape!

We had another cuppa. Jools and I moved some plants, I baked, Jools did more gardening. The day passed. The sun went down and so it was time to prepare dinner, steak and chips, whilst listening to the Man Utd v Chelski game on the radio. That ended up a 1-1 draw, but the meal was a triumph, and we were stuffed. And tired.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Sunday 26th October 2014


There is something special about the final dawn of British Summer Time, it is so late, that by the time were are leaving Folkestone, is it light enough to see anything out of the train windows. Yes, we were heading to London for the day, or at least part of the day, and tomorrow, we get the extra hour in bed, but it will be dark by five in the afternoon.

Oddly, we decided not to set the alarm for the morning, instead agreeing to head out when we were ready. So it was a bigger surprise that we were both awake and up and about before half five. That meant we would be able to catch the quarter to seven train and thus be up in London by eight. We drive into town, finding a place to park in Priory Mews, it is then a minute or two walk to the station, get the tickets and make our way through the barrier where the high speed train is already waiting. I select my favourite seats, second carriage from the front, on the left so I can see the sea on the way to Folkestone and the motorway beyond Ashford as well as a fleeting view over the Dartford Crossing as we thunder over it at 125mph.

Stratford, London

Jools reads as we travel along, she bought herself a Kindle on Friday and is deep into her first e-book. I look out of the window, hoping to see something else other than my reflection looking back. There is light in the sky to the east, dawn is not far away. Even at this early hour, the train is more than half full by the time we pull out of Ashford, where it is now light enough to see the countryside, and the change in colours you get at the end of September. Fields are beginning to get waterlogged, crops are sown, winter is now very near.

Stratford, London

We get off the train at Stratford, a place I know only too well. We are hungry, there is a cafe. We go in, order coffee and a pannini each. We eat, drink and feel much better. A train to Stratford is pulling in as we ride the escalator down to the platfor,, and at Stratford we cross to the other DLR line tso we can ride through the new Pudding Mill Lane station, which was required due to the Crossrail work. Sadly, the new station has no views of the AEML, which means any steam trains will have to be viewed elsewhere, maybe Stratford. Things change......

Poplar, East London

We change at Poplar for a train to Tower Gateway, as we wanted to see the display of ceramic poppies in the moat of the Tower of London. As usual, the hardest part is getting across the many lanes of traffic, but that done it was a short walk towards Tower Bridge to gain access to the park which had the fine overviews of the poppies. One poppy has been planted for each of the 888,246 British and Commonwealth soldiers and other servicemen who lost their life in the first world war. A striking thing, seeing the poppies, which have been made to look like a giant lake of blood in the moat.

Being still early, there are only a few people about, but more and more people are arriving, so we deiced to head to Westminster to see the Cenotaph, which I though was being guarded by servicement until the 11th. But as it turned out, it wasn't, but a trip to Whitehall is never wasted. We decide to walk, as it is only just gone nine, and we halve all day, and in truth central London is not as big as you think it is. Or that is what we told ourselves.

The blood swept lands and seas of red

We tightened our belts and set off past All Hallows by the Tower and onto the City. The City skyline has changed greatly since I first photographed it back in 1987, when there was only the Nat West Tower and the Lloyds building punching the sky. Since then, there seems to have been some collective madness in the planning department, and unsightly building after unsightly building has been allowed to be constructed, further blighting what was once a wonderful sight but now St Paul's is getting lost. The latest, and worse carbuncle, is 20 Fenchurch Street, aka The Walkie Talkie, a building which not only is very tall, but is wider at the top than the bottow, thus towers over, literally, those buildings near. It is horrible, but now it is built, London will just have to get used to it.

All Hallows by the Tower

We walk on, taking Cannon Street so to avoid the crowds at St Paul's, the pavements are empty enough, and traffic on the roads light enough to make it pleasant enough. At Blackfriars we decide to head to Victoria Embankment, as it seems many years since we last walked along there, and searching my memory, it was when we met for the very first time, back in July 2006. Time flies.

20 Fenchurch Street

A walk along the river is nice, but you have to deal with the packs of joggers who seem to only run in the company of other joggers meaning they take up much of the path, and then there is the four lanes of traffic along the embankment, which seems to be heavy even on a Saturday morning. However, it really is not that bad, and we amble our way past Temple and out of the City of London and into the City of Westminster. We pause beneath Waterloo Bridge to take in the scene looking east and west along the river, and the modern buildings scarring the skyline, it made me think that at least the river will be visible, until; they work out how to build on water, which might yet happen.

Victoria Embankment, London

We strike out for Whitehall, and quickly are among crowds of tourists who have gathered around Horseguards to see the Lifeguards, er, on guard, on horses. I walk down to the Cenotaph to get my shot, we then turn back up heading for Trafalgar Square as thoughts turn to lunch. The square is crowded, of course, so we strike north at first heading for Neal's Yard, but after passing restaurant after restaurant, we think, why walk another half hour into Soho, when we could eat here? NO reason at all, just where?

Standing outside a French place called Cote, we say this is as good as any, and are told we have to wait until midday before lunch can be ordered. We agree and take time to look at the menu before deciding on our choices. I have French Onion Soup followed by griddled half chicken. Very nice indeed, and it hots the spot.

It is now one fifteen, so we decide to head to St Pancras so we can catch the ten past two train home. We wait for a bus opposite Charing Cross station, scramble aboard and then we move and sway our way north to Euston which is just a short walk from St Pancras. There was just time for me to snap the square at the front of King's Cross before meeting back up with Jools outside the barriers as our train arrives, giving us 20 minutes to wait before departure. I look through my shots, then stretch out closing my eyes as we glide out of the station and into the tunnels under east London that will take us out to Dagenham.

After just over an hour, we trundle into Dover, so we walk to the car, and then we have to gird our loins as there is shopping to do. We tell ourselves Tesco will not be busy at half three in the afternoon. It was, but we need just a few things, we zip round zapping as we go, and are out again before four, and home in time for me to listen to the second halfs of the games on the radio. Sadly, City fail to score again, but don't concede either, but a 0-0 draw at Hillsborough isn't really good enough.

We feast on cheese and beans on toast, before Jools watches Dr Who, and I clean up. Another fine day, and tomorrow, winter arrives, but we do get an extra hour in bed.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Saturday 24th October 2014

Friday. What is it with Fridays? I mean they should be the best darndest working day of the week, what with it being the 5th and last of those for most of us, and yet for the past few weeks Fridays have really been messing me about, and ruining my plans for an early stacks. Rather like, then, when I was in the RAF, and as duty armourer you would wait with the duty NCO until 17:00 on Friday so you could lock up either the dump or armoury, and then the phone would go. Is that the duty armourer? I need to draw out 50 pistols, its all licking of in Albania and we need to arm the crew. Or, that hilarious time when the USAF managed to overturn a missle launcher completer with nuclear tipped warhedaed missile on the Hardwick roundabout in Kings Lynn. Is that the bomb dump? There's been an accident, could you come and man a cordon and help right this missile?

Oh, how we laughed. In the end. Anyway, this Friday began with an e mail, and ended up with conferences with various CEOs and managers. As well as sitting in on various other meetings. Then fire off the e required e mails, make phone calls, clear it with legal. And, and only then, can the weekend begin. Oh yeah, remember to set your out of office message and all that stuff.

Man, what a ride.

But that is it, Friday over with, time to relax and especially with a 5 days weekend which will include a trip to London and other places. And beer.

We were both too shattered to do anything much, so we slumped in front of the TV for a while, then hit the wooden hill.

Bring on the weekend.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Thursday 223rd October 2014

Welcome to the 227th blog of the year, and I hope you enjoy it.

I mention this as in the whole of last year there were just 226 blogs in the whole year, and the year before that, just 128. In fact it was back in August 2012, at the height of the Olympics, I got so used to writing almost every day, I have tried to continue that habit. Now, I am not sure if anyone ever reads this, I am assured that some do. I realise that sometime it must be a pain to catch up, if anyone ever does, on blogs for the previous week or two.

What I can say is that I am reaching a watershed in my life. Nothing too dramatic, but what I can say is that work is going to take up more and more of my life in the weeks and months to come, right up to the end of next year, as the project moves from the preparation to the construction phase. Now, as I said, I won't say too much about the project, other than it is wind based, and that some of my time will be in Denmark, some in Germany, some in Denmark. A return trip to China might happen. Or not. But details on the day to day issues and tasks will be sketchy, if that, that is because there is commercial consideration to be taken into account, and I have to be seen to be all growed up and adult about this.

These past 24 hours have been difficult: for no reason a major allergy attack struck, meaning I had to result to whisky last night to be able to sleep. I have had worse, but the fact it blew up with no warning, and I was in the office in Ramsgate when it started. I left early, at three, drove home with the windows in the car rolled down to get a flow of fresh air in the car. It partly worked, but during the evening, it got worse. So, whisky and roast chestnuts it was. And it did work.

Days are cooler now, and on Tuesday evening we had a storm, nothing unusual in that, but night came early as the clouds swept in from the north. Rain hammered down, then as quick as it arrived, it cleared, with the light of the setting sun on the storm cloud, revealed stunning mammatus clouds, all heavy and pendulous. The what clouds we had cleared and stars came out, the wind dropped. Amazing.

Mammatus Clouds!

Yes, autumn is here, leaves are turning gold and falling, falling like snow on some days. It gets dark before six in the evenings now, and will be an hour earlier next week once the clocks go back on Sunday morning. The winter will nearly be upon us. And yet, the days are warm, especially when the sun shines, and it can feel like summer, until the sun begins to drop in the afternoon and the shadows really begin to lengthen.

I drove to Ramsgate yesterday, enjoying the freedom of driving along familiar roads, even if their are colsures everywhere, the worst being along the harbour tunnel due to a sewer collapse, this means driving past The Grange, and then down and around the harbour. Not a trauma really, seeing the still waters in the marina. And then there was no one at work. Well, no one on the offices, no monkeys, no chargehands or managers. Just quiet. Very very quiet. I made a pot of coffee and ended up drinking it all myself. I did not run around like a headless chicken. I just got on with work.

Tomorrow is Friday, so the weekend looms, and for me a trip back to the old country and the old fine city for the beer festival. And then the craziness will start. Just saying.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Tuesday 21st October 2014


Work from home.

After a couple of weeks away, it is always wonderful to begin the week by working from home. The extra half hour in bed, the endless cups of proper coffee, the views of the birds feeding, and no airports! Being a Monday, levels of mails were light, so I cruised through the day.

At two, Steve and Martin turn up with a sharp chainsaw to tackle the larger logs from the tree. The peace and quiet of the afternoon is shattered, and then they lug the logs to their truck as Martin wants wood to burn over the winter, so we have negotiated a price reduction for the work. Jools' Dad also turns up, dropping of a part invitation, but also taking the chance to look at the work done on the house. He is impressed and agrees the work done has been done well. He refuses a cuppa and leaves sharpish.

We have bangers and mash for dinner, always a favourite with us. Jools than takes me into town for the monthly CAMRA meeting, which turns out to be painful. I am abused, I kid you not, but the secretary, and then the meeting is riven with arguments and backbiting. I won't be going back, and will be submitting a letter of complaint. I went mainly as the meeting was in yet another new Dover micropub, The Mash Tun, It is very good, but then from what I have seen, all micropubs are fine. The beer is good, on the whole the evening is only spoiled by the meeting.

Jools comes to collect me at half nine, if I would have had a phone, I would have got her to collect me two hours before. After four pints, I slept well.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Monday 20th October 2014


And on the day of rest, we rested. For the most part anyway.

The sun rose red and angry, full of the promise of rain, which arrived before eight, and meant that we took things easy. I watched the previous night's MOTD and Jools did some beading before heading out to the tip.All in all a quiet morning.

I did some photo editing, listened to the radio, and generally the morning passed. We had an early lunch, some pate on toast.

In the afternoon I cooked a batch of mince pies as Jools wanted to take some to work, to show how much better home made is than shop bought, even Tesco Finest. Like there is even any doubt. The dist of a week's builders traipsing in and out and thus leaving dust, dust and more dust everywhere. Anyway, some mopping, chasing the cat with the muddy paws out and mopping the floor once again.

I listened to the football for the most afternoon, and only went outside to have a cuppa and to sample the mince pies, and in the last three minutes of the QPR v Liverpool game I missed the three goals that transformed a dull 1-1 draw into a stunning 3-2 win for Liverpool. Reality can really be odder than fiction.

Matt and Nelinka

At half five we drove over to Ashford to have dinner with our old friends Matt and Darina. They had moved into their first house with their daughter. It a quiet drive along the motorway, following the sat nav we found our way to their place, and once inside we had a fine meal of fried smoked cheese followed by shepherds pie. All very nice. Although, being a school night, and Matt had to be up at three for his shoft at Ebbsfleet tomorrow, and that we had to drive home, we bid them goodbye at nine for the drive home, arriving home in time to have a cuppa before bed.

Quite where the weekend went is anyone's guess.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Sunday 19th October 2014


As Jools had already done the shopping, the question only remained was what to do with the day? No rain was forecast, but it was supposed to be cloudy in the morning. So what better than to laze the morning away before heading out into the afternoon autumnal sunshine?

Well, there was a glorious sunrise, and the day just continued bright without any sign of clouding over. So, the decision was made to go out and do stuff. Stuff which included heading to Challock, looking inside the church there, then walking in the warm sunshine in Kings Wood. Yes, that sounds all rather wonderful.

Challock, Kent

We drove along the Alkham Valley then a quick blast up the motorway to junction 9 where we turned off and headed into the countryside through Boughton and onto Challock. The key for the church can be obtained at the post office, and so I picked up a couple of magnums to smooth the morning still further, before we took the dead end lane to the islolated church. The church was once on the main road, or what it was in the 18th century, but when Eastwell Manor was built, the road was blocked off and is now sitting at the end of a very quiet dead end, over a mile from the centre of the village it serves. The drive along the lane is very pleasant, made even more so by the dozens of pheasants and partridges that look for food along the road.

A autumnal walk in Kings Wood

The church sits in its isolation beside the wood, looking pristine in the sunshine, we walk tot he porch and the ancient key opens the equally ancient door, and we go inside. I have been inside before, but Jools has not, and she is stunned by the murals that cover the walls. Indeed so am I as I see details I fail to spot on my previous visit. At one point I climb the rood stairs to get a beter view along the top of the rood screen, seeing where once fittings for candles would have sat. The wood is dried and riddled with worm holes, no doubt that it is original.

A autumnal walk in Kings Wood

We leave the church and drive back to the post office to drop the key off. It is just a short drive to Kings Wood, we park the car, change into our boots and are ready for a stomp. I had it in mind to take some shots of sunlight falling through the golden leaves still on the trees before the first autumn storm comes along and blows them off, which should be on Tuesday. So, we walk along the wide path, under a golden canopy from the copsed trees.

A autumnal walk in Kings Wood

Further on the sun pours through the taller trees, falling on and dappling the dry leaves on the ground with golden light. It is a perfect place for a walk. We meet just a few other people, although we can hear children playing in the distance, it seems for the most part we have the place to ourselves. We walk up the twisty path where in spring the bluebells are at their best, but now all is golds, yellows and reds, with the sun shining low in the sky ahead.

A quick diversion to the left brings us to a small group of chestnut trees, and we gather the nuts on the ground for a roasted supper maybe that evening. There is more than enough for us and the deers that also feast on these. In fact we see so many chestnuts on the walk, it is clear it has been a great crop of them this year.


It was now nearing half one, so we walk back to the car, and instead of taking the easy option of going to the nearest pub, we drive home for lunch and a cuppa, before I take to the sofa to listen to the afternoon football, while outside the day gets old and the sun nears the horizon. Norwich fail to win again at Fulham, and slump to another defeat despite dominating the game. A frustrating afternoon, but then not as back as it was for the Mackems, who slump to an 8-0 loss at Southampton. So much for their certain relegation.

We have soup for dinner, and then settle down for a quiet evening as another day slips by. Phew, rock and roll.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Nothing but good news


In this blog, there will be undiluted good news, featuring good news in its purest form. Concentrated good news in fact. If you cannot handle good news, maybe you should stop reading now.

You have been warned.

Friday morning in Arhus was wet. But then it always seems t this time of the year. I shower, get dressed, pack, go down to reception to check out and then have a final breakfast of fruit and bacon rolls. All of the major food groups covered. Oh, and coffee. Lots of coffee.

A quick drive in the rain to the office to get going with the business of the day. And the amazing thing is, I feel it is going well, and I am growing into my job, and most worryingly, I feel I am in control. At least for now. So, I get work done, have meetings and am ready for the trip home.

At half one I switch the computer off, load the car and drive off into the light traffic and light rain of a Danish afternoon. It is an hour drive to the airport, but I take my time as the roads are still damp, and driving at over 100kmh does not feel safe. Anyway, I arrive at the airport with two and a half hours to spare, so I drop the car off, check in, and sadly I do not have the key of the business lounge this time. So I head to the gastrobar for a bottle of moderately stupidly strong Danish beer. I choose carefully as some were up to 9.2%, then one I do have is just 6%! I sit at the bench looking out over the airport, sipping the beer. Half an hour passes. So, I buy another bottle, which I don't think as I'm ordering it is quite the sensible thing to do, but I have the change in my pocket, and it was nice beer. So what the heck?

The flight was not full, so I slumped into one of my preferred seats, 7A, and look out the window as final checks are made and we make ready to take off. We rise into the over cast skies, and soon are engulfed in cloud, but seconds later emerge out into bright sunshine, as the clouds are so thin, and so we fly on over Denmark and onto Holland, glimpsing the land below through gaps in the clouds.

We arrive over London just as dusk is falling, the city looks so busy, the traffic over the Dartford crossing is static. Welcome home.

The queues at immigration are not so bad now they have scanners to read the electronic passports, so we are through, getting our baggage and heading to the DLR station within minutes of getting off the plane. I check my watch and I am pretty sure I am going to miss the ten to seven train by a couple of minutes. I do't worry, there's another in 25 minutes, so I just do some people watching, listening to the languages people use on their mobiles or talking to their friends. It really is not so scary at all.

Indeed, once I arrive at Stratford, I miss the early train by seconds, so I sit down to wait before heading onto the platform so to be in a good position for the great rush when the train pulls in. However, the front three coaches are just about empty, and I get a seat, and am watching the lights in the East London tunnel fly by as we speed towards Dagenham and the Essex marshes. It is dark or course, so I end up looking at my own reflection looking back at me, even along the M20 the vegetation has grown so high you can hardly see it from a train now, after just 20 years.

And into Kent, through Ashford, Folkestone and onto Dover. It is twenty past eight, it is dark, raining and I am tired. Jools is waiting outside and she presents me with a list of things for discussion. I, or course, ignore this and plow on asking things in my own order.

Any news on the job front? Yes, she was offered a permanent position that very afternoon by a company in Hythe, she is to be an assistant buyer and starts when she can get herself out of the box business. As soon as one hopes.

Any news on Nan? Yes, the doctor saw her and it is mostly down to tiredness, she had taken a mild sedative the night before, and slept for twelve hours, and apart from being grumpy when she woke up being prodded by the quack, she is not seeing men climbing in through the windows any more.

Jools' sister is OK, she is in pain, and can't drive for four weeks, but it is looking good.

The car port is up and finished, and looks good. The exterior lights are all fitted and working. And they all look good. The upstairs windows have all been good and they look spanking. The house sign is back up. It is all done. Big Job completed.

And Jools has a Job.

Nan is OK again.

The house is done.

I am home.

It is the weekend.

All good news.

Saturday 18th October 2014


As I have said before, the world is a much better place after ten hours sleep. I think I stirred just the once during the night, but being in Denmark when I looked at the time, and it being dark still outside, it could have been still the middle of the night, but it was quarter to seven! Yay, sleep. But, why not lay here just a little bit longer listening to the hum of the traffic outside?

Why not indeed?

So, I get up, have a shower and go down for breakfast, eventually not arriving to the office until ten past eight. The office was nearly deserted. Turns out this week is ‘potato week’ in DK< when children have the week off when they used to help gather spuds from the fields. It is still holiday season, so most people are off work, there are three of us in an office for 50 people. If I did not move every ten minutes, the lights would power down and I would be sitting in the dark.

No change there, then!

I work though the day, getting stuff done, which is always nice. But then new challenges are thrown my way. As happens. But at half three, there was no more to be done, so I head back to the hotel in the light traffic, and settle down in the armchair to read the latest Private Eye.

That takes me to half five, when I thought that must mean it is dinner time. Downstairs I really felt like having a burger as I had skipped lunch, and so burger and a large classic as usual, whilst I read Q. I guess only the second music magazine I have read in over two years.

I end up flicking through the TV channels, and come across a Heston Blumental show on fish, which diverted my attention until it was ten and time for bed. Another day done!

Speaking to Jools I hear that Nan has been seeing things, full on hallucinations, men climbing in her window when she is talking, Nan tries to kick the men who are not there. Obviously, this causes us concern, it is possibly either: the stroke, the drugs or an infection. he doctor is going to visit on Friday, we hope to get some clarity.

The Price of Football

In shock news, the BBC produced its 4th annual Price of Football survey. And the results really were not that surprising if truth be told.

Apparently, the cost of football has increased ahead that of annual inflation. *makes a surprised face*

Like this really is news. And worse of is, is Arsenal, whose cheapest season ticket is more expensive than the most costly ones at all bar two other Premier League clubs. Apparently, clubs prefer to keep paying footballers more and more rather than treat the people who come through the turnstiles with respect and/or as the lifeblood of the game.

Once again, this is no shock to me.

To add insult the inexplicably popular radio ‘personality’ and former professional footballer said that players have ‘no idea how much fans play to get into games’ and ;why should they?’ That he goes on to say that he loved the rapport of the fans screaming behind him as the team played. These fans who he did not care about.

But then he said something faintly sensible. ‘Players don’t know about the price of milk either’. And, oddly, he is right. I mean Empire magazine asks movie stars the ‘how much is a pint of milk’ question, as this shows how remote from normal life they really are. To be honest, I do the shopping a lot of the time, we need milk, I take a bottle off the shelf, scan it and put it in the trolley. I don’t look at the price. Does this make me out of touch, the international playboy and quality expert that I am, I’m sure you understand how this could happen.

Robert Peston has also written about his ‘addiction’ to following Arsenal. And he used the word addiction. Like he could stop, if he wanted. As a football fan, even I find it hard to accept that most people scrimp and save to follow their team, a team full of millionaires who live in gated mansions driving chromed supercars who hold firework displays in their bathrooms. I could no longer accept this was right, and so in a series of painful and difficult steps, I stopped watching Norwich in person. Made easier by their promotion to the PL and the sheer unavailability of tickets for the casual supporter. Second, I cancelled Sky Sports. Finding that we were paying approaching £70 a month for TV just to watch football, shocked me to the core.

I made a promise to cancel Sky Sports at the end of that season, and have not been tempted. OK, only occasionally, in getting it back. But we took the Sky dish down, meaning it is impossible for us to subscribe. I now listen to football on the radio, and when on the rare occasion footy is on the telly, I lose interest and wander off and do something on the computer instead. I could get BT sports if we switch the internet provider, but that would mean having to deal with Indian call centres. Not that I have anything against India, its just that I have used them before, and trying to explain that, no, the router has not been delivered, and where on earth is it now so we can get connected?

I also have not bought no replica kits from the club in many years. To be honest, skin tight satin look sportswear does not look good on me, and paying fifty quid for it does not seem a good deal for me.

Next year, more football is migrating to behind the paywall, meaning that all European football will now be unavailable unless you want to pay for Malmo v Young Boys Europa League clash. Count me out, actually watching European games means EUFA can get sponsors to pay more for those crappy ads and pitch side ad boards. I won’t miss it, really. Not these days when Arsenal seem to play Barcelona as much as they play Spurs.

Fans can get together, boycott games, not buy merchandise, clubs would soon take notice. We hope.

In the end, football is just 22 men kicking a bag of wind about. And the odd thing is, that if you are a world class footballer you can charge whatever you want for your services, even over £300k a week. If you are a world class hockey player you have to have a real job. Not very fair to me.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Friday 17th October 2014


The past couple of times I have travelled to Denmark, I have had to catch the evening flight, due to the flights being fully booked, I suspect. So, this means having to do half a day’s work before finding a way of travelling to Dover then catching the train to London and so on.

So, I have a bit of a lay in, but with the weather hammering it down outside, there is little point in thinking of going for a walk or anything. SO, there is nothing else to do other than to switch the work laptop on and see what is afoot. Not much afoot as it turns out, all is quiet. So I do a bit of electronic filing, tidying up and the such.

I finish this at midday. I go to pack, double check that I have everything, then cook scrambled egg for lunch, and wait until it is time to leave. A sort of travel limbo.

Jools has been attending interviews the past couple of weeks, and had another Tuesday afternoon, which meant she was coming home to change and so could drop me off at the station en route to the interview. As yet, she has not had any luck in getting a full time job, but has been getting a large number of interviews. Anyway, she drops me off at Dover Priory at half two, and then heads to Sandwich. I buy my tickets and get a good window seat on the left side of the train. OK, I’m set.

This really is such a routine trip these days, I have done it so often, I should still be gobsmacked that part of my job consists of commuting to Denmark because I am considered so essential I am required to attend meetings and the like. A real change from the spotty Herbert that used to put the giblets back up the bums of chickens 29 years ago. Still doesn’t sound that long ago, and yet here I am.

Here I am on a train, thundering through the Kentish landscape in the pouring rain on a high speed train taking me to that London. I listen to the conversation of my fellow passengers. It is oddly satisfying as a couple quiz their daughter about her homework regarding how energy is generated. Should I say I help put up wind turbines? Maybe they would find out I did not know that much….

I get off at Stratford, board the DLR getting my usual seat. Maybe I should mix it up and sit on the other side of the train one time. Steady on! At the airport I am told I can only check my bag in two hours before departure, meaning I have 40 minutes to kill. I have a coffee and a slice of cake. As you do. And people watch. Those of us are regulars at the airport know just where to go, and those unfamiliar are staring at the unhelpful signs hanging from the ceiling.

Ten to five rolls round, and I am able to check my case in. I take the escalator to security and then I am selected to whave the whole body scan thing. Not because I am looking suspicious or anything. Oh no. So, I stand on the indicated spot, and turn round 360 degrees whilst one supposes the machine did its thing, and maybe on a computer drive somewhere is the record of this event. Don’t go looking for it. It’ll have your eyes out.

I am in the departure lounge with an hour and 50 minutes to kill, so I head to the restaurant, which is as overpriced as Rhubarb is, but the food at least looks like it was cooked by a human rather than just heated up in a microwave. I have a ‘game burger’ as I’m game for anything, apparently, and a glass of wine. It is OK, I mean it not going to cause a ripple in the field of culinary exploration, but it did the job. £45. No joke. I did laugh. And because I can pay with the company credit card, they carry on charging these stupid prices.

I wait for the flight to be called, and wander down to find it full. Rammed in fact. We wait until the bus is ready to take us to our outlaying pan. We walk out to the bus in the rain, and again to the plane, queuing in the driving rain, it is grim. But we all get on and are soon trundling down the taxiway to the end of the runway before we thunder down the runway and into the grey skies. I say grey, I am guessing as it was raining, and was now fully dark.

The lights of London vanish below us, and so we shake our way through the clouds, turning north then east before heading out over Essex and Suffolk. The clouds clear at one point to reveal the lights of East Anglia laid out below, with Lowestoft clearly closest, the lights of which nearly join up with those of Great Yarmouth. I look firther west to look at the lights of Norwich, hoping to see the lights of Carrow Road as an U21 game was taking place. Maybe I did. Maybe I didn’t.

I carry on reading my magazine, as the clouds close in below us. We only see the lights of Denmark until we are skimming on the final approach to Billund, and down we go, bouncing on the runway. Rain is hammering down. Welcome to Denmark.

I go to the car hire place, and this time I get some tiny Citroen plastic car. It really is all I need, but it is noisy and the gearbox is vague to say the least. But, it’ll do.

Off I go, heading into the wet Danish night. Rain is falling so hard that it seems like I am driving down rivers. On the E45 I head up at 90kmh, which seems to be the safest speed, but others are hurtling by at double the speed I am. But I make good time, turning off and driving up the outer ring road to the hotel.

The bar and restaurant had just closed, so I take a bottle of Coke up to my room to settle in before I turn in. I have to be up again in six hours as stupid me has arranged a meeting for eight in the morning, so I have to be in half an hour before then. OK, here goes.


I wake up at six, after a dreadful night’s sleep. I get cramp all night long and am always waking up. But, no time to dwell on that now, there’s a meeting to chair. C’mon, get up, get showered, get dressed, Ian!

It is still hammering down outside, and on the ten minute drive to the office I see two major accidents at junctions, the second only just having happened with the police and fire brigade in attendance.

I am in the office by twenty past seven, and ready to go. OK, take a deep breath, as seven straight hours of meetings ahead.

As this week is the ‘potato holiday’ here in Denmark, schools are off, so many parents are also on holiday. This means the roads are quiet, which in turn means that there is no heavy traffic outside, so I bid by boss goodbye and drive back to the hotel to chill out. Its been a long day.

I have an early dinner at half five: I have the salmon fishcakes followed by the traditional burger and fries. Just what I needed.

Back upstairs I call Jools; her interview went well but has not heard anything. Her sister has had her procedure and the growth taken out. She has been discharged and is at home, in a little pain, but all is looking well. What with Nan having recovered from her mini stroke, so all seems well with the world.

With that good news ringing in my ears, I head to bed at eight, shattered.

Good night.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Tuesday 14th October 2014


Back to work.

Man, these Monday mornings roll round so quick you'd believe there was one a week! Outside the rain is still hammering down, it is dark outside, no hint of dawn on the eastern horizon. I do not feel like getting up. In truth its not the getting up its the working bit. Anyway, there's no avoiding it, so we get up, feed the cats, make coffee, have breakfast. I make sure I have everything for work: clothes, bag, car keys, lunch, weight of the world on my shoulders. All checked.

Down into Dover to drop Jools off at the factory, and then up through Buckland, past Tesco onto the Sandwich road, all the while the rain hammered down, so much so it was like driving through a river.

I did have a desk in Ramsgate, as I had written to Pete to make sure he wasn't in. But in fact I could have every desk in the office as the monkeys had been given the day off. So, I switch the computer on, head to the kitchen to make a fresh pot of coffee. And lets get it on!

The morning passes, meetings, answering mails, more meetings. And then it was time to gird my loins, as I had to tackle the pandora's box that was the travel claim backlog. With a separate department for travel and travel claims, it is easy to keep booking travel and just collecting receipts and the such. I quick looks showed I had 60 unassigned receipts on my credit card. Oops! So, I had at least kept each trip separate, so it was a case of getting them in order and then ticking off each bill from the list on the share site. Seven travel claims, one for two weeks with two lots of car hire and five different hotels. All done, assigned, signed, scanned and sent to the filing centre in Warrington. Job done.

And oh look, its time to head to Dover to pick up Jools, go to the doctor to collect more drugs and then home. I make light of the drug thing, but since getting the correct medication, I have had just a couple of bad attacks this year, and although at times I feel congested and shit and that, but it is so much better than two years ago and before that when I thought I was getting flu week after week after week.

I cooked warmed up beef, smoked vegies and more roast potatoes. Another roast dinner in other words. On a school night, which was very nice indeed. So, the day over, I end it by watching a fab documentary on the Russian Space program, the Russian Right Stuff if you will, and so another days passes. The rest of the week promises a trip to Denmark, meetings and more meetings.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Monday 13th October 2014


Another day of chores.

And no football to watch in the morning. Oh what is a poor boy to do?

Well, have bacon for breakfast, then once it is nine we can go out and do stuff in the garden without waking the neighbours, I mean, everyone is up by nine in the morning, right? We replant the quince trees we have. The larger one is either suffering from windburn or lack of water after being too close to the hedge. So, we put it in a pot and put it in the middle of the lawn, having first cut a hole for the pot to sit in and be stable. Somehow that took an hour. The we move the smaller one, which was growing under the small living room window, and had suffered much in the building work, and looked little more than a twig sticking out of the ground. It was still alive as it had some new green leaves showing.

So, maybe a new location and more sunshine and water would do them good?

Work in progress

IN the afternoon, Jools went to see Nan, and I got on with dinner, cooking a massive slab of beef as Tony and Jen were coming round for dinner. I did manage to get my cooking time mixed up, and put it on to cook an hour too early, but I realized my mistake and left it in the oven for an hour on low, and it didn’t seem to do it any harm.

In fact dinner was glorious, and was perfect as outside the wind and rain hammered against our newly weatherproof house. I opened a particular fine bottle of wine, and it was perfect. England were playing Estonia, but once it was dishing up time I switched it off, with England still struggling to score against ten me. In the end they scored via a free kick from mr Potato Head and so are still unbeaten, with the two difficult game out of the way, it seems boredom is the greatest enemy now.

We put out some roast spuds and bits of beef for the badgers, and watched as a young buck munched his way through the meat and potatoes, leaving the cauliflower behind. Just like me when I was a nipper.

A week of change, travel and uncertainty ahead. We shall see. We shall see.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Sunday 12th October 2014


Oh yes, the weekend. I can lay in bed until midday, or all day if I want. So why then am I awake at half five in the morning, pondering if I should head downstairs to make coffee and feed the cats. Mulder jumps on the bed, mewing and dribbling. SO it is settled, I get up, feed the cats and put the coffee pot on the stove. Hmmm, coffee.

Before the rain

Sunrise brought the most glorious light, which served as a warning for the heavy rain that was expected later. What to have for breakfast? Bacon you say: I just happen to have a pack of heavuly smoked streaky in there. So, on the pan, under the grill and soon the kitchen is filled with the most glorious of smells. I cook it so it it is crispy as heck, brew a strong cuppa to wash it down with, and so we sit down to eat.

Just as we were about to go out for some shopping, the phone goes: it is not good news. A look shows missed calls from the care home and from Jools' brother. She gets hold of MIke, and it seems Nan has had a stroke, the home have been trying to contact the family. Mike is there and Nan is conscious at least. We decide to do the shopping thing first, at which point I will drop Jools off. So, we go to the builders supply place, we proce up some slates and bricks for more work we wanted to do, then to B&Q to get some paving slabs to place on the garden, as the front garden now is soft and muddy after the application of manure and compost, so we need something to stand on so not to get muddy. We also get two large slabs of granite for the birds to eat off, and easy for us to keep clean.

Looking black over Willy's Mother's

I drop Jools off at the home, then drive out to Preston to get a hunk-o-meat for Sunday dinner, as her Dad and his wife are coming to dinner, and I wanted to show him why I go to Preston for supplies when there is Tesco. I end up buying a seven pound joint, which is enough for most of the street if truth be told, but looked wonderful. It was raining hard, and the lanes had become rivers, making driving interesting to say the least.

Back home I get a message that Jools wants another hour at the home as the doctor and ambulance are still there.

I use the time well by sowing fresh grass seed over the back garden, now that I have removed most of the moss. Lets hope it will look fine come the spring.

There is no football due to the international games, so what to do to fill the time? PLay some music, listen to the radio, edit some photos, play with the cats, feed the cats. I am not bored for sure. I go to collect Jools at two, and find that Nan has what has been called a mini-stroke. Her face, or half of it, had slumped. But she is able to talk, recognise people, but is very tired. Emergency over. We are pragmatic about Nan, I mean Jools is, she is 100, and we know she is now very frail. It will happen one day, maybe one day not too far away. Nan wants to go, but something inside her keeps fighting.

We have lunch, cheese and crackers: the last of the stinky French cheese from our trip over last month. It is now very ripe and needs to be eaten up. We tell ourselves as we much through what is left. Yum, yum and yum.

Outside I grew dark and cold, we put the heating on. We sat on the sofa and watched QI then the final Who do you Think I am. Which was featuring Twiggy this week, and was a tale of poverty, petty crime and a fairly happy ending.

We end the day with Jools watching Dr Who and us having pizza for supper. A winning combination to be sure. And what the weekend is all about I think.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Saturday 11th October 2014


Friday morning rolls round so soon after going to bed, apparently. But it being all wet and windy there is no point in heading to Ramsgate as there would be no desk for me to work at, and so I settle down for a day working from home Or as Fridays are now wall to wall meetings, I will attend meetings whilst at home, from half eight until half twelve. Each meeting mirroring the previous in problems and issues.

I battle to empty the inbox before it is time to call it a day and call me a taxi, and Friday is beer festival day at The Berry.

It must have been three weeks since I was last at the Berry, and the occasion for this was the annual green hop festival, where the first brews using this year's hops would be available for sampling, drinking and wassailing. It is just a short ride into Walmer, he drops me off at the door and I go in, collecting my glass and beer tokes before heading downstairs to the room where the barrels had been tapped and were now providing pints of foamy ale for our consumption.

I took my first pint up to the beer garden, taking a seat in the warm afternoon sunshine, I made the first one disappear before retreating for another, and then another. Well, you know. I just had the four, but that is more than enough for this lightweight, and I was thankful that Jools was coming to collect me at five, which meant I had just 90 minutes in which to drink and socialise with other drinkers. It was all rather nice, but I had had enough by five, and there was a good chance I would snooze on the sofa soon after arriving home.

Jools made dinner, which I ate like a starving man, and then I felt the need to lay down some.

But hey, its the weekend, and lets just enjoy it!

Friday, 10 October 2014

Friday 10th October 2014


As I have remarked in the past, the world looks a far better and more agreeable place after a decent night's sleep. Even more so when the sleep amounts to something close to ten hours. Of course, waking up at dawn, it would have been easy to spring out of bed with all the joys of spring. Therefore I laid in bed for at least another half hour, thinking about getting up, but deciding that laying be bed, waiting for dawn to creep round the edge of the curtains.

I get up, shower, get dressed, and pack before heading down to check out and have breakfast. And just when you think the Danish chef could not cook the bacon to be any crispier, he surpasses himself in making it so crispy, merely touching another rasher makes it shatter into dozens of pieces. Despite looking like a broken bacon mirror, it tastes fine in a fresh roll and with a cup of what the hotel likes to think of as coffee.

I drive to work in the peak of rush hour and so finds that a five minute drive now takes twenty, but then I don't have to check in, and so arrive at ten past eight and head straight for the coffee machine for more caffeine, YAY! Somehow infused with the spirit of productive work, I fill the day with writing e mails and generally being productive, which means that by half one I can switch the computer off and head to the airport heading out of the city and down the motorway in the light traffic and enjoying the bright sunshine in the car. I drop the car off, check in and am given a ticket of the business loubge, though still not sure if this is due to me having joined and qualified for the frequent flyers scheme, or it is just luck with the ticket booked.

Whatever the reason, I have free beer and snacks, and am able to catch up on my magazine reading, have another coffee before heading to the gate to get on the flight. Theusual suspects are at the gate, I nod to those I know and wait, patiently, laughing at those who crowd round when the gate opens knowing that we all have reserved seating and the flight cannot take off without us. I am last one, and the fligth attendant flashes a smile of recognition and asks how I am as I take my seat, next to last row right at the back next to the kitchen and toilet.

We are late taking off, and then take two hours to make our way to blighty, the head wind being so strong. As we are on fonal approach, the sun sets in the west, and the rain falls steadily onto the windows of the plane. The late evening rush is still on as we skim over the roofs of East London. I realise I am going to miss the ten past seven train, so I relax and wait until everyone else files off. I collect my bag, and use the new e scan passpoert control thing, thus jumping the queue, and am on my way to the DLR station.

At Stratford I have 25 minutes to wait, so I people watch, especially the guy trying to persuade the staff to let him pas the barrier without paying. They don't. It is time to head onto the platform ready for the train to Ashford, now checking the scores of the England game as they take on the might of San Marino. And so passes the trip to Ashord, when I can get a signal, and again on the slow train to Dover, arriving back at Priory ten minutes before time with England finally 5-0 up.

Almost another week over with and the weekend just around the corner.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Thursday 9th October 2014


And the working week comes round again. The wind is due to blow and the rain fall, so there is no point in driving to Ramsgate, as there will not be a desk for me. I settle down for a day at home. The cats come in, already soaked, get in the table and drip onto my work laptop. What, you want food or attention or just to tick me off?

At lunchtime one of the final acts in work at the house happens when the skip is removed from the fornt of the house, meaning we all get the parking space back. The lorry driver says how nice the house looks. Which was kind of him, but then he’s not wrong. I see that behind him the clouds are building again, so he expects to get wet as he continues his rounds that day.

I had begun the day with another allergy attack, and the extra round of drugs means I am getting drowsy in the afternoon. Once I am sure I have caught up on my mails and other work, I switch the computer off and take to the sofa to watch the rain fall down the new windows. My eyelids drop and I snooze for a couple of hours.

The evening comes, the rain continues to hammer down outside, it looks like November, which it will soon enough be. The cats don’t want to go outside, so I feed them tea and prepare dinner which is going to be chorizo hash. Again. As we like it so much.


I am booked on the evening flight to Denmark, which means I have to work some of the day at least before travelling up. Outside it is a wonderfully bright day. Looks a good day for travelling.

The morning passes and at midday I switch the computer off, and go upstairs to pack. All is in control.

As I eat lunch there is a sudden massive loud clap of thunder and all the lights go out. The come straight back on, but the storm rages for a few minutes with large hailstones turning the back garden into tundra for a few minutes until the ice melts.

I ring up a taxi company to run me into town to catch the train. It arrives on time, which was nice. He was the most careful and slowest taxi driver I have ben with, although to maintain standards he did not use indicators once. So it goes.

Once inside the station concourse, it was a scene of chaos. It seems that one of the bolts of lightning had hit the railway’s signals, and all trains were cancelled. But just to make things interesting, the train that had been delayed on platform 1 for 45 minutes had just pulled out with no warning. This went to Stratford. The staff had no news. The station manager had no news.

I tried to call Jools to see if she could come and pick me up to take me to Ashford, as the problems were just between Dover and Folkestone, but the call went straight to voice mail. After a bout ten minutes, news came that a train was en route to us from Ramsgate, and would take us to Ashford. Probably. I have to say, I had doubts, but sure enough the train came into view and we all piled on.

We ran to Folkestone and then onto Ashford with no troubles. It was terminated at Ashford, but the next train to London was due in a few minutes, so no worries. And indeed that was the case, I got to stand, but I did not mind as it is just 25 minutes to Stratford, and then a walk to the DLR station. And finally a twenty minute trundle through the old docks to the airport, and from another door of the train my colleague, Gary, emerged, so we ended up travelling together, at least to Billund where our paths would divide.

We travel up on the train, check in and then head to the airport restaurant where we both have steak and ale pie, which to be honest at seventeen quid each was so overpriced it was almost hilarious. Almost. The pie was the size of a saucer, and just came with an egg cup full of shredded cabbage, and both had just been microwaved. Sheesh, and so at £45 was pretty pricy, but the company paid, which is why they charge these prices.

The flight was half an hour delayed, but I got a window seat as usual, sitting on the port side, so when we took off and banked north I was treated to a view of London and The City bathed in the golden light of an autumnal sunset. It would have made a wonderful shot if I would have had a camera with me, instead you will just have to take my word for it.

With a strong tailwind, we arrived in Denmark in under 90 minutes, but we treated with views of thunderstorms below us as we flew over northern Holland.

It was ten by the time we got off the plane, cleared customs and got our cases back, and Gary and I walked to the car hire place. I was asked what car I wanted, a couple of seven seater MPVs or a Qasqai. I chose the latter, and was soon loading it up and heading out onto the deserted Danish roads for a blast up to Arhus.

Both the bar and restaurant had just closed when I arrived at the hotel, so I took a bottle of coke upstairs and chilled before turning in for the night, knowing that I would have to be up nice and early for the meetings I had the next day.


The alarm went off at half six, but I had been awake since half five. Nowhere near enough sleep, I looked in the mirror to see two bloodshot eyes looking back at me. OK, lets get this done!

I dressed, went down for breakfast and made my way to the office, at least the traffic was light before seven, and I was at a desk before ten past.

The day passed. The customer came, we had a meeting, lunch, more meeting before they left at half three. Just time to catch up with my boss and colleagues before I decided the traffic was quiet enough to try to get back to the hotel.

I had an early dinner, something off what they called the Jamie Oliver menu; anyway, smoked salmon fish cakes followed by pulled pork was not too bed, and I had resisted the burger and fries option. Time then to call Jools before the bed called and I was tucked up by half eight zedding away.

Monday, 6 October 2014

Monday 6th October 2014


Hmmm, manual labour, something I have not done for some while, and so when I awoke on Sunday morning, bits of me ached that I had forgotten I had. The rain had cleared and there was a glorious sunrise. We shared the two remaining croissants and I sat down to watch MOTD so delaying our working outside as to not wake the neighbours.

Back garden

At nine the work began, which was the removing of the plants we did not want, carrying buckets and buckets of manure and compost from the various storage locations in the back garden, round to the front, spreading it on the garden. What was needed was a way of breaking up the ground, so mix the tired soil and the good news stuff. I remember a tool I had seen the day before, so we went to B&Q to buy one, being whilst not being the types that were queuing when the DIY store opened its door, we were there well before eleven.

Our work here is done

Back home I cook bacon butties and make a cuppa, so fortified with the goodness of smoked streaky bacon, we take to the garden, me to the front to mix in the soils with the swirly tool thing. More manual work. Thimg is I had thought it would be easy, but the ground too hard after so little rain, meant having to thrust the tool into the soil and then turning it to break the soil. At least the garden was not bing. So, I plod on, finishing the garden some time after one, and taking to the sofa, listening to the footy on the radio, and willing that Everton would beat man Utd, but it was not to be.

Due to the complex rights issues, this meant listing to Talk Sport, which was then doubled as the Chelsea v Arsenal game was on that station too. Bah, more Stan Collymore. Anyway, it was a pleasant way to spend the day, and even more so when I popped the chicken in the oven, stuffed with four cloves of smoked garlic. Once done, I pureed the garlic and mixed it in with the juices to make the gravy. Garlic chicken gravy, very nice indeed. We had loads of veggies, a couple of Yorkshire puddings and a bottle of wine too. Lovely.

ISO 25600

We sat outside later, under the canopy of stars illuminated by a moon which is already three quarter full. Despite the warmth of the day, it is now the first week in October, and it felt chilly. We drank our coffee and ate the panna cotta Jools had bought earlier that day. We went inside, shivering.

And that was your weekend, just five days until your next one!

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Sunday 5th October 2014


You know when yo promise to do things, and then the day rolls round when you have to make good on those promises? Well, not quite under duress, but, you know, when you could be doing other still like going out taking shots, when the weekend ahead is just work, work and more work, well, it kinda crushes you. And then, when you get down to it, and you see the progress, it kinda spurs you on to do more. It does.

Well, as the house in now, all but done, and the scaffold and builders have gone, we were left with what seemed like two tons of dust all around and inside. As well as the front garden under yet more dust, and really we needed yo sort it out, and having a nice looking house now, we decided that now was the time to sort it out.

But first there is the weekly trip to Tesco, fill up on life's essentials and the suchlike, including fresh supplies of beer, cider and cat food. All the main food groups. Back home for breakfast, I had the usual all butter croissants, Jools had almond. And then it was into the garden!

We had spent a couple of days sifting through the stones in the front garden, saving the (fairly) expensive blue slate chips we bought when we moved in. Now we had to remove all the other stones, gravel and earth that was on top of the membrane, and move it all to the skip so it could be taken away on Monday. So, we swept, dug, and removed bucket after bucket after bucket, carrying it to the skip and doing it over and over again. THe morning passed, but in time we got into a routine, and by one it was all cleared, well for the most part. And we could sit down for lunch and decide that after all consideration we should take the afternoon off and relax. This was in part to the heavy rain forecast by the boffins at the BBC, and so gave me a chance to lay on the sofa and listen to the football.

Two o'clock came, and there was no rain, but the skies darkened until rain did begin to fall, the first real rainfall we have had for over a month. I had mowed the lawn that morning too, and scattered the last of the lawn feed on the barest parts, so the rain would do that good. As well as the freshly revealed earth, which was breathing without the covering of the membrane and stone for the first time in maybe a decade. All in all there is something wonderful about sitting on the sofa, nursing a cuppa, listening to the radio whilst the rain hammers down outside. I don't know, it feels like October when it is like that.

Heck, it got so chilly the heating got put on, just to pump round as my Dad would say. Lovely.

Sadly, despite sitting top of the Football League, Norwich struggled to keep up with Rotherham, indeed falling a goal down early in the second half, and only managing to get a goal back in the final minutes, and then not finding the winner. All a bit disappointing to only get one point from 6 from the two home games this week, but somehow we are still top.

I cooked breadcrumbed pork slices, fresh sweetcorn and fried and slied jacket spuds. A meal of champions. Or at least those top of the league.

Outside the rain cleared and the moon, now over half full again shone silver on the autumnal landscape.

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Saturday 4th October 2014


It can be said that the first week back at work after a holiday, can seem to last forever. And indeed this was the case yesterday. Due to work pressure I really should have gone into the office at Ramsgate to get my travel expenses, but if I am honest with you, I couldn't be arsed. There, I said it. So, I lay in bed whilst Jools made coffee, fed the cats and then I cam down, drank coffee and got ready for the day ahead.

My Fridays now will be four hours of meetings. That is every Friday, as we battle issues with our once parent company. So, I am now sitting on meetings, trying to make sure things will go well when it is my turn to bat. Easier said than done. The morning turned into afternoon, and in the end it was half one before I could actually turn to the work of the day, the work that needed to be done, rather than sit in on meetings. But by then there were other issues.

Operation "Big Job": Job done

As I said yesterday, the guys finished rendering the house Thursday night, and so we were looking forward to some peace and quiet after ten days of work going on and the house being a building site. Now, we didn't mind the guys working, or the work itself, it was that it is our home and we want it to be all done with. So, the reason for staying home Friday was there was going to me no one demanding tea, smoking or any knocking and banging. That is, until the trucks turned up.

Trucks? I hear you ask. Yes, scaffolders. I went outside to see three sweaty men looking at the house talking about how to take the scaffolding down. Nesw to me as this was not supposed to be happening for a week. They span me a story about how the 'plasterer' said he had finished and the scaffold could be taken down. When in truth, it is more than likely that they needed the parts for another job. And that two trucks were here just confirmed this. So, after trying to get hold of Jools to ask if this was planned, I just let them get on with it.

Operation "Big Job". Almost the end

The work remaining can be done with ladders, and anyway, I wanted to see what the house looked like now that it was done, and half of it was really still hidden by the scaffold.

I went back inside, did some more work, and at three I had fired off all the mails I was going to, so switched off the computer and went outside to look at the house as they last truck reversed down the road. It looked wonderful, but I think the new colour is perhaps too close to what it used to be, but we are told that will mellow some and the surface will change. But it looks still like our house, just one that is watertight. I found a broom, and went round the house sweeping up the piles of dist that had accumalated, largely because we have had no rain for weeks. But that lack of rain has meant we, or the guys, got the job done.

Operation "Big Job". Almost the end

As I started on the back of the house, Noddy arrived hoping to get paid, but he was going to have to wait until Jools came home after going to the bank. So, we sat in the back garden in the warm sunshine, just chatting and looking at the late afternoon sunshine on the other side of the hill towards the centre of the village,.

Jools arrived home at half five, paid Noddy for the work done, and then he left, leaving us alone with just the house and the cats. We had coffee, some chocolate biscuits sittng back outside on the patio. I could not be bothered to cook, so we decided to eat out: but where? In the end curry was decided upon. And once The Now Show had finished, because that was more important than food, we drove to Whitfied for curry. It was good, but we had to wait ages for the main course, but it was worth waiting for.

All that was left was for Jools to drive is home, slump in front of the TV for the first in the new series of QI, and then head to bed. Another good day.

Friday, 3 October 2014

Friday 3rd September 2014


Somedays, things just do not turn out the way we planned. I had high hopes for getting stuff done at work, or the stuff I had planned, but work had other ideas and I got endlessly sidetracked. Outside the sun beat down on another golden autumnal day, barely a breath of wind stirred the flags outside the offices. I caught up by three, but by then it was too late to make the long promised start on the travel expenses.

I drove to Dover, picked Jools up at ASDA, as with the thirsty builders in the house, or working on the house, we were nearly out. Should have got some tea bags as well, but I only realised when we got home. Once home we found that the final stages of the skimming of the render was under way, but this process went on for hours until the surface finish was just right. I made tea, gave them cookies and just did what we could to help them finish before dark. In the end they did just make it, half seven with just a hint of light in the sky. We had turned on every light in the house so they could see the walls and so be able to see the finish.

They packed up and left, we were alone, the house was done, and the wind and rain had yet to com e, we had done it. Or the boys had done it.

We had dinner, listened to the radio as a badger came for an early snack.

Its a short post, but triumphant, and I will post shots tomorrow showing the results and you too will be able to see what we have achieved this summer.

Oh, and its the weekend.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Thursday 2nd October 2014

September was such a golden month, what with a fine trip to Germany, then two and a half weeks off, during which I was blessed with almost unbroken sunshine. And October has continued equally golden, although the days are shorter now, they seem just as warm. But I am back at work, looking out of the office windows at the flat calm seas and endless sunshine thinking of all the things I could be doing instead of doing what I do, whatever that might be. Sometimes I wonder myself.

But, the BBC assures us, that things will change at the weekend, the wind will blow and the rain will fall. But that's OK, as the house is water proof now, or so we hope. Because at 19:30 this evening, Thursday, the final dust was swept up, the tools loaded and the tea drinkers, Nobby, Jack and Curtins left for the last time, the final side of the house is done. Just a few bits and bobs left to do, but it is almost there.

This was yesterday, however:


Off to the office just as the sun was rising. At least no fog this morning to deal with, so no idiotic drivers to deal with either. I arrived in the office to find that there was a manual handling lecture scheduled, which meant I could not make or receive phone calls, unless I went out into the corridor.

I managed to work until lunchtime, but during the break in lectures, some of the techs decided they could only eat with a musical accompaniment. At this point, and the realization there was a fire lecture in the afternoon, and I had meetings, I decided to head home where I could at least speak or have quiet to think in.

Of course, at home, work was continuing apace, with the preparations for the final coating on the house, on the front. YAY. But this seemed to involve knocking nails in, which unsurprisingly, is not quiet. And then there is the tea. Despite saying they would have to make their own tea, I found myself making as much tea as I was when I was on holiday. As rain was forecast, the lads are doing the surrounds, making it all look nice. And looking nice it does.

They pack up a bit earlier than usual, just before six, and the house returns to peace and quiet, and the cats return from wherever they have been hiding. But saying that, none of them are as bothered by the noise and builders as they once were, even Molly comes round when they are sitting outside, meowing to be fed. I guess we all change, in time.

Just three months left in the year, and for me an autumn and winter of hard work with much travelling awaits. Not sure if I'm ready for it all, but every day is an adventure for sure.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Wednesday 1st October 2014


Jools had an interview, so I stayed at home, having warned the builders they would have to make their own tea. That was the plan, though it turned out I made lots of tea. Lots of tea.

The sun shone and more work got done on the house. The new estimate it that it might be done 'Thursday'. We shall see. The skimming does create lots of dust and mess, which they try to tidy up, but the dust gets everywhere. We are dreaming when the work is done, the scaffold is taken away and we get the house back and can just relax when we come home.

The day passes, and the work and tea drinking continues. I now have confirmed plans to head back to Denmark next week. And the week after, but this week I can stay in Blighty. And drink tea.

Jools comes home from her second interview in four days. We hope for the best and that one employer will see the light and give her a job, full time.

The guys work until it is just about dark, getting the finish just so. At this time of year, it takes a little longer for the render to harden and for the skimming to begin. It all takes time. Thankfully the weather has been mild enough to get it all done, and the wind has not blown. Jools and I cook pan fried aubergine and pasta salad for dinner, which we sit down to eat just before eight. As the builders had done the wall on the side of the bathroom, they had removed the pipes to get the finish right, and so as the pipes were not put back, no shower and can't use the sink.

I finish the evening following the City v Charlton game via Twitter, and after dominating the game, we manage to give a goal away in the closing stages to lose 1-0, but still stay top. Oh well.

First week back at work is always the hardest, I tell myself after another day slips by.

Tomorrow is October.