Sunday, 30 November 2014

Sunday 30th November 2014


November morning

And not just the weekend, but the first of, count 'em, 8 days at home with no travel to Denmark until next Sunday. Now, I may feel different about that come next weekend, but for now I have put my case away in the wadrobe, and my work bag is somewhere in the utility room.

Dover Castle

And Jools had done the shopping, so we had nothing to get up early for. And indeed, it was well past seven before we did wake up and stir ourselves. Jools had bought bacon, and so on with the grill and soon the hosue was filled with the wonderful sweet sweet of cured streaky crisping up. Lovely.

Saturday lunchtime walk to the cliffs and back

Right, ready to face the day outside, and first up a quick trip to Dover to run some chores: Jools to the bank and me to get some mushrooms and take some shots. The town was already crowded at half nine, so we rush round getting the jobs done so we can get back to the house. Once back indie, we have another cuppa, then put on our walking boots for a stomp around the neighbourhood and maybe up to the cliffs.

Saturday lunchtime walk to the cliffs and back

It was a glorious bright morning, hardly a cloud in the sky, and just a trace of mist in the valley that lays between the house and the rest of the village. It is so good to get out, stretch your legs and for me, snap some shots. The track at the bottom of the dip was boggy to say the least, but the path round it was dry, and I can confirm the hill the other side is as steep as it ever was. But, we do make it, and are rewarded with views back over to the house.

Saturday lunchtime walk to the cliffs and back

We turn and walk on towards Kingsdown, turning off to take the path over the fields. It looks bleak, but there is new growth to be seen, sheep are grazing other fields. There is still barely a breath of wind, and it is not cold, I would go as far to say it is very nearly warm. So warm that by the time we get to the cliffs, it seemed warm enough to sit on the bench having taken our coats off. It was like a September morning, rather than one at the end of November.

Saturday lunchtime walk to the cliffs and back

We turn round and head from home, through the village, son the quiet lanes that cling to the edge and top of the cliffs. It would be nice to live in one of these houses, but lets not dream, anyway, we love our house, even if does not have a sea view. Pastt he pound, the Red Lion, down the hill and back up again, getting back home in time for the football on the radio. But it is still warm enough to be able to sit on the patio and sip our cuppas. The sun shines down, but already it is getting low in the sky, the year is getting old.

Saturday lunchtime walk to the cliffs and back

I listen to the football on the radio, whilst following City via Twitter. It is a grim afternoon with City throwing away a 1-0 lead to go down 2-1, with the mood at The Carra very black indeed. The fizz of the day went flat. I switched Twitter off to avoid the namecalling by the old keep-the-faithers and those who want Neyal to go. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Night settles around the house, we close the curtains, I make a batch of shortcakes, including two big ones for tea, which will do us right until the morning. TV is a dead loss, so we play music until the wooden hill calls.

Good night.

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Saturday 29th November 2014


Another day, another inspection.

At least with the nine o’clock start, I could lay in bed waiting for dawn to creep under the curtains. I could hear the traffic outside. So I pulled the duvet over my head and snoozed.

I was out of the hotel by half eight, with just a ten minute drive to the next factory. It is situated just outside Esbjerg, close to the sea, and the wind from the east blew through making it feel very chilly indeed. I was glad I wore my extra thick jumper. Hoorah for being sensible.

The day passed well. We had lunch. Did some more inspecting. And at three was all done for the day.

I fired off three hours of e mails before I went to meet up with Steffen at seven. We went to Bones for some fine rib and chip action. And beer.

Talking of beer, we went to Dronning Louise again, and had a pint of local Christmas ale, and a couple of cheeky halfs of Adnam’s Tally Ho, which was very nice indeed.

We decided to head to the sports bar, as Steffen thought that’s where my friends from Paddy’s had been seen. But the younger crowd were in, Jagerbombing, as they do. We had a drink, watch the football, then left for Paddy’s, or what used to be Paddy’s.

The pub quiz was under way, but without the usual suspects in, it wasn’t the same, really. But, full of beer, I made my way back to the hotel for some sleep.



I had forgotten to pleasures of a groggy head after one beer too many. Don't get me wrong, I was not drunk last night, but maybe one more pint was drunk than was necessary. So, I laid in bed a while, and then some more, and still some more laying under the duvet.

Time to spring into action, pack, have a shower and get the heck out. Checking out is easy as I am running late, nearly twenty past eight, so the rush of workers leaving is over and there just a few of us in the restaurant munching away. A short drive to the office, and I find that it is very quiet there, what with the latest project winding down, some are taking some well-earned time off. At nine there is another breakfast, rolls and various fillings are laid on, and soon the whole staff gather for something to eat and to do a bit of socialising. Its simple, but effective.

I get more mails written, and attend yet more meetings. I look at my watch and it is already half one. I give it another half hour before I pack the computer up, and by this time there are just two people left at work as most have begun the weekend early. I still have at least eight hours to go, but hey.

Into the car and out the port gates. I manage to get past two massive Siemens nacelles on the back of lorries. I think one took the wrong turning at the edge of town and was heading onto the motorway instead of the port. As I head past the convoy is parked on the side of the road, the driver looking confused. I know the road without really thinking, I take the turning off the motorway, and drive up towards Billund than the massive black clouds I see building. The light of the sinking sun illuminates underneath the stormclouds, and making the leaves look like bright fireworks angainst that dark background. As I'm driving, I can't take shots, but for a while the beauty was stunning. And then the light fades as quickly as if someone had turned a lightswitch off.

I hand the car in, go to check in and I am given my boarding pass and a ticket of the business lounge too. I make my way through security, and up another level to the lounge. I see no one there I know, so I pour myself a free beer, grab a bowl of Doritos, and settle down to read more of the book. THe time passes well, and with half an hour to go before departure time, I make my way down to the gate.

The flight is full, but I have a favoured set with no neighbouring seat, so I am able to snooze once the safety lecture is done and the engines start. We thunder down the runway and climb into the night sky, I close my eyes and doze as Europe passes below me.

I wake up with the lights of the Belgian coast away on the horizon to my right, but ahead I see the lights of the north Kent close. I study the scene and I can make out the shape of Thanet, the curve of Pegwell Bay to the south and think that the bright lights I can see beyond in the distance is the glow from the lights of Dover. Down we go, over the sual route, Shoebreynness, Southend crossing the Thames to Chatham and then round skirting with London until we get to Crystal Palace, at which point we turn to starboard, and I can see Battersea swing into view, with the illuminated bridges beyond. We level out with the Houses of Parliament below us, getting lower over the Barbican, The City. And down over the Excel getting lower, over the last road bridge and finally the runway appears below us and we are down.

If I am lucky, I might just make the seven fifteen train home. Maybe. Once on the DLR train, I know it is going to be close, I don't fret, as whats the point? At Stratford, with two minutes to go before the train to Dover is due to leave, we have the run through the Olympic park to get through, then up the escalator, across to the International station; in short I won't make it. It is twenty past as I walk into the concourse, so I make the best of it and have a gingerbread latte and a cherry cupcake whilst I wait.

When the train arrived, it is rammed. Seems that 'black Friday' is a thing in Britain too now, and people have been up shopping, shopping and more shopping. I squeeze on the train with others, and off we go. Three of us in the vestibule have a good chat and the half hour journey to Ashford flies by. People are so interesting.

On Ashford station I watch as two Eurostars hammer past leaving the overhead wires bouncing A thrilling site seeing a train fly by at 180mph. Our train trundles in some seven minutes late, then has to be uncoupled from the other unit it came in with. We leave 15 minutes late and seem to take an age to get to Folkestone, at each stop the tired shoppers get off and leave me just about alone by the time the last leg to Dover begins.

And so another week away comes to an end, and the really good thing is that I have a week at home now. I can put the case away and enjoy some quality time with Jools and the cats.

And now, the weekend.

Friday, 28 November 2014

Friday 28th November 2014


I am writing this on Thursday evening. It has been quite a week, and therefore the longer back I look into the past, or some 48 hours ago, the less reliable my memory is.

Being November, it is dark when the alarm went off at quarter past five. I laid in the bed whilst Jools went downstairs, made coffee, fed the cats. As there was no way of avoiding it, I got up and got ready to leave. The cats were out doing whatever they get up to outside, so I checked the bags, and we loaded the car ready of the big off.

Due to leaf problems, my train now leaves five minutes earlier, which means a prompt exit from the house, and hoping there is not a big queue at the ticket office once we get to the station. I suppose I always sound down to Jools as we say goodbye and I make ready to climb out of the car, but I would rather be home if truth be known, and I have leaving home. But saying that, I love the feeling when I am returning, and the train rolls into Dover and we head home in the car. Sometimes we have to suffer the downs to appreciate the ups.

And so, onto the platform, switching on my phone to check my mails from over the weekend. Not much exciting had happened, which was nice for a change. And off we glide away, into the Harbour Tunnel and toward Denmark. Via Stratford and LCY. There was a hint of brightness on the eastern horizon meaning dawn would soon be here, but it means I will just be looking at my own reflection as the cross Kent, instead of the countryside.

At Ashford, the train filled up with commuters. At least it is light enough to look out the window, and ignoring those keen bods already writing e mails and writing documents on their laptops.

We crossed the traffic jammed Dartford Crossing, crossing into Essex and then into the tunnel taking us to Stratford. The tiny-minded were queuing a full 5 minutes before we arrived at the station, I get off at the last minute after having to force a guy who was standing in front of the luggage rack and would not move. Get got a 20Kg suitcase in the ribs.

Crossed London, arrived at the airport, got the boarding pass, handed lu case in, went through security and made my way to the café for breakfast: scrambled eggs this time, which was pretty poor, but with enough toast for a slice with marmalade on to go with the second cuppa.

The flight is called, so we all make our way to the gate, from where we see the passengers from the flight from Billund getting off.

I settle into my seat with the John Lydon book, stopping to watch out of the window as we take off, and into the sky we go, passing through the low cloud and in time into the bright sunshine above. Now Mr Lydon, what were you saying?

An hour and a half or so later, we descend into the final approach at Billund to find Denmark is in bright sunshine, and not a cloud can be seen. Can this be really Denmark, not somewhere like Spain? No, it is Denmark, and look, Legoland. And we’re down.

I collect a Citroen C4, a huge 7 seater car which is to be my steed for the week. I load it up, insert the lozenge, press the button marked ‘start’ and off we go.

It is a 45 minute drive down to Esnjerg, and is very pleasant despite the bright low sun which means that it is hard on my eyes, but I’m not going to complain about seeing the sun this far north. OK, not that far north.

I have a few hours at the office before everyone else is leaving for the day, so why shouldn’t I? No reason at all. So off to the hotel, and I get a parking space outside, I check in and am back at the computer dealing with more issues.

I have, however, heard that Paddy’s has re-opened, so I make sure I go in to sample a pint of red. I leave my room at six, and outside it is cold. Darn cold. I walk up the main street and the shops are all full of festive stuff. Oh well, at least it feels cold enough up here!

Inside Paddy’s it was empty, with just a couple of Danes behind the bar. No one I knew. I got a pint, ready my book and headed for Dronning Louise where I knew there would be a burger and a pint of Christmas beer waiting for me. There was a table, so I order burger and a pint and settle down to more words of wisdom from Mr. John Lydon.

I have a second pint as it was so nice and toasty inside the bar.

But the footy was calling, so I rush back to the hotel and find it is Citeh v Beyern on the telly. Yay. And Citeh come from behind to win with a last minute goal. Not bad. Not bad at all.


With our now fixed starting inspections at nine, I have a long lay in, before I get ready for the day ahead. It is still dark outside as I go down to breakfast just before eight, although dawn was coming.

It is an half hour’s drive to Varde, where work was beckoning. But on a lighter note, I had left my phone in the hotel room. So, should be a nice quiet day.

Apart from the work thing that is, of course. So, at nine we’re all in the office and lets get it going.

And in the end, it was a very good day, especially for me anyway. Maybe I will make a go of this job after all. Stranger things have happened. Apparently.

That night I thought I had arranged to meet Steffen at Dronning Louise, but after waiting outside for 45 minutes, I re-checked his texts to find he was going out on a hot date instead. Silly me. So I walk back to the hotel, collect my book from the room and go to have dinner in the bar where I am on a table on me tod, like everyone else. So the meal passes slowly and quietly. I really must stop eating in here.

Monday, 24 November 2014

Monday 24th November 2014

One month to Christmas

30 shopping days until Christmas.

Just so you know.


Jools' birthday: I am too much of a gentlemen to say how old she is, but a year on after her 50th, this one promised to be a little less hectic, not that it was that bad last year, just getting the whole familiy together, and arranging everything, whilst being out of the country most of the time, was tricky. So this year, I just thought of asking Mike and Jane round for dinner, and that I should cook the bejeweled fruit stuffed crown of lamb again, after it being a near triumph on that occasion.

It was forecast to rain all afternoon, so any activity outside would have to be before lunch. And clearly after MOTD, as it is always good to laugh at Arsenal lose from a winning position, which they did against Man Utd Saturday evening. The sunrise was glorious, but clouds soon swept in, so that by the time Gary was wrapping up the show, walking to take shots was out, really, and anyway, Jools had chores in the garden planned. Whilst she planted some new bulbs and plants, I pruned the bushes alongside the drive. A pleasant enough task, as long as I ignored the thorns ripping my hands to pieces. There's always gloves next time, said Jools.

At then I began the preparation of the lamb, well, preparing the stuffing, cooking the onion, adding the spices, almonds and fruit, and then putting the stuffing in the crown to infuse the meat. Lovely. The kitchen smelt wonderful. Ian Dury filled the house as I had bought Jools some CDs to replace ther worn out records. They have just been reissued on vinyl, but at £145 for the set, it was a little too much for our pocketses. Bejeweled fruit stuffed crown of lamb

Mike and Jane arrived at midday, so in wrnt the meat, smelling even better now, and so by quarter past one, all was ready, done to a turn, and amazing even if I say so myself. Lunch was accpmpanied by the last Grand Prix of the season, a sport which bores me rigid now, but Mike likes it, and it was OK. Hamilton won, and so the championship, so we all were happy. Mike and Jane left at three, so Mike could unload a ship of bananas, as you do. And Jools and I snoozed through the afternoon and into the evening.

And somehow the weekend slipped through our fingers again, with Monday on the horizon. Best hide under the duvet where it can't find us.....

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Sunday 23rd November 2014

Jools' birthday. Dr Who's birthday (both 51)

Anniversary of JFK's assassination (also 51 years ago)

But more of that stuff next time, because before that, it was yesterday.

Does that make sense?

Does it matter?

Anyway. Yesterday.


On what was supposed to be the better day of the weekend, we had chores to run down town, then we could do whatever we liked. I cooked bacon butties for breakfast, which soon filled the house with a glorious sweet smell. I mean really, really wonderful smell. Unless you're a vegetarian of course. Once we washed up, got ready, we headed into town, me to get my new reading glasses, and Jools to get some shopping from M&S that she had ordered online. That done, what to do?

Postcard from Postling

Well, Ian had decided that we should visit some churches. Just for a change you might think. Well, a Flickr contact had commented on a couple of my early, I mean first, Kent churches shots. And I realised that how I look at a church now is different, I see things I would have missed back then. And it turned out one of the churches, Ruckinge, I had failed to post any interior shots at all. So, I posted the ones I had on the hard drive, but clearly a return was needed. And then there was Postling, I looked at those and was unhappy at how poor an incomplete they were. And then there was Brookland....

St Mary And St Radegund, Postling, Kent

You get the picture? So, a plan had hatched: Postling, Ruckinge and Brookland with a pub lunch wherever we would be at midday. Perfect.

St Mary And St Radegund, Postling, Kent

We drive from Dover, up the A20, up over the cliffs and down into Folkestone, turning off on the A20 after our original road had turned into a mortorway. And then up the bottom of the Elham Valley, turning off before we reached Lyminge, doubling back on ourselves to Postling Postling is another, yet another, picture postcard village, set about a mile north of the Channel tunnel, but a million miles away, if you know what I mean. The village is situated round a crossroads, and snaking down a single street back down towards Folkestone. The church is right on the crossroads, but a an antique signpost, point the (accurate) distances to nearby villages and hamlets.

Dedication Stone, St Mary And St Radegund, Postling, Kent

From the car I see that the lights are on in the church, so I grab my cameras and make my way to the door before whoever is inside changes their mind and locks it up again. From outside I hear the sound of a vacuum cleaner, and pushing open the door I see two warden cleaning the church. I say hello and I am greeted warmly. The church is wonderful of course, with remains of wall paintings just about visible in a couple of places. I take my shots inbetween talking to the wardens, meeting such wonderful people is more than part of the pleasure, it shows that these are living churches and part of their communities.

St Mary And St Radegund, Postling, Kent

Indeed, as out next port of call, Ruckinge, is where I first noticed the church being all things to the village, not just a church, but a place for coffee mornings too, and more besides. We drive back down the valley, over the motorway and down the A20, turning off to pass through Lympne, pronounced Lym of course. Or so I think. The taking the road along the edge of the down onto the Romney Marsh. Ruckinge is right on the edge of th marsh, and the church stands looking forlorn, the tower appears it it might fall down. But looks can be decieving. Inside it has been renovated since my last visit, and is looking splendid. There is another warden hard at work here too, preparing the church to the 50th anniversary of the local guide troupe being held on Sunday. The church is decorated with photos and momentos from the last 50 years. The church is cold, but you can feel the warmth of the village inside.

St Mary Magdalene, Ruckinge, Kent

I am tempted to say for lunch in the local pub, which has just reopened this year, but it is not yet midday, and I had it in mind to try the other pub in Brookland, next to the church. Which is what we do. Setting off out of the village, and then up the main road to Brenzett and onto Brookland.

St Augustine is a wholly remarkable church. If it were just the unique 'candle snuffer' belltower, that would be fine. But it also has a unique porch, and inside reveals it to be of, at least to me, unusual design, with walls and columns which seems about to fall down. This is not an illusion, the soft marsh has spread the foundations, meaning supporting spars and butresses have had to be installed. But still it is a wonderful church, and one I had really only glanced over before. I take many shots, happy with the result, we go outside to see smoke rising from the chimney of the pub. Shall we go in I ask, pointlessly, as we were going anyway.

Inside the smoke from the large open fire was having trouble making it up the chimney, and it was hard to see across the bar. But it clears, we order drinks and ploughmans, and setlte down to people watch, for me a large family of toffs at the next table trying to get their children to behave. The meal is small enough to be a snack, which is good as we have sausages for dinner back home.

We take the coast road back home, to Hythe and then to Folkestone. Back in time to listen to the afternoon games on the radio, time enough to get angry as City throw away the lead twice to draw 3-3 with Brighton. It is turning into a hard season after all. We then watch New Zealand play Wales at egg chasing, and a great game it is, with Wales looking like running out surprise winners, until the All Blacks score three tries in the last ten minutes and it seems oh so easy. A great game though.

Pork and ginger sausages, baked beans and sauteed pototoes. Lovely. A perfect dinner.

We round the day off by watching QI, and that seems to be it. Another day crossed off.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Saturday 22nd November 2014


Working away from home so much, means putting routine stuff off week after week, until there comes a point when you have to set aside a day to get such tasks done. Like today, it was eye test and a hospital appointment, visiting the doctor. And with the travelling inbetween takes up most of the day.

UK Class 374 Eurostar e320

I drop Jools off in Hythe early in the morning. Not quite sure what it is about people driving to work driving like maniacs, I'd get it if they were driving home, but why drive at 900mph to work? Whatever, it was scary stuff on the M20, good job when we turned off, and up and over the down and into Hythe, down to the beach, drop Jools off and turn round for home.

I stop off at Dollands Moor depot to snap the new Eurostar that is being stored there: it was up at St Pancras last weekend, but we were too busy to go up to look. Anyway, I got a couple of shots in the pale light of dawn, and happy with those, I get back in the car and drive back to Dover.

Remains of the St Margaret's MIlitary Railway, Dover, Kent

This time going via Reach Road to look at the short stretch of rail track that had been exposed in the last few weeks. Click on the picture below to get the history behind these two very ordinary looking tracks.

I had enough time back home for a coffee a bowl of porridge before I had to be out again.

Into town for an eye test. I have been having trouble reading in the evenings, it seems to have got suddenly worse, but that seems to have coincided with the dark evenings and low light in Danish eateries. Seems like ity was nothing to worry about, I have to get reading glasses, but that diagnosis too 90 minutes of my life.

Next I have to drive to Canterbury for a hospital check up, nothing major, but the traffic in Canterbury is legendary. As it was this time, as what should be a 20 minute drive took over an hour, then the search for a parking space, find a parking machine, pay four quid for the privilege of parking near the hospital, wait two hours for the appointment, have the scan, take an hour to drive back. And it was four in the afternoon, and time to go and pick up Jools from Martin Mill.

We then have to round the kittens up to get them their annual jabs. Being out all day, not giving them any food for the day meant they were waiting for us when we returned. Into the boxes and off we go. Another forty minute wait, two jabs. That'll be £78 please said the vet. Seems like I'm in the wrong business.

Drive back home through the rush hour traffic, drop the cats off, feed them, drive back into town to Tesco for the weekly shop; which means at this time dealing with people doing some early Christmas shopping. Bah humbug! We have a list of things to get, we try to get round and out as quick as possible. At least with the scan and shop zapper, we are in and out in 20 minutes.

But even then it is half six by the time we are home, put the shopping away, boiled the kettle and sitting down having a brew.

All I can say it has been a much busier day than being at work would ever have been. Phew.

I make chilli for dinner; something I have not made for ages, and felt like something hot and spicy. And very good it was too, with a pound of mince making enough chilli for that night and two more meals. It was washed down by a bottle of Guinness Wet Indian Porter, which tasted just like Guinness to me, but went well with the chilli.

We were pooped by nine, and so called it an early night.

But it is the weekend.

Friday, 21 November 2014

Friday 21st November 2014


My phone alarm went off at quarter to six, now where was I? Oh yes, at the Zleep hotel at the airport. I turn the light on and see I had emptied my case of its contents and now had what we in the RAF used to call a floordrobe.

Billund Airport (BLL), Denmark

I grab a shower, pack, do a final check of the room to make sure I have left nothing. A quick bite to eat downstairs, some cereal and a cheese roll. And coffee. Sweet coffee.

It is just a couple of minutes walk to the the terminal, and inside it seems to be full of Danes getting ready for more holibobs. I get my boarding card from a machine, and the BA desk had just one person waiting. Once checked in, I pass through customs, pass through the duty free without looking as money is tight, and find a table so I can catch up on some mails. I have an hour to wait until boarding, holiday flights are called, and by the time I walk to the gate the airport is pretty empty once again.

Misty Morning, Danish style

Out on the airfield, mist had rolled in, and above the banks of swirly vapour, the sky turned pink as the sun rose, and just visible was the thinnest of a sliver of the old moon. An altogether beautiful sight. We climb on board, I am at the back, but being a morning flight, there does not seem to be a hurry to get off the other end. I have the John Lydon book with me, so the flight will pass quickly. We take off into the mist, before entering the thich cloud, I get a glimpse of the landscape shrouded with mist, it is a wonderful sight, but is soon lost as we climb higher.

Grain and Thamesport

Europe seems to be all covered with mist, I see nothing of the lan below until we begin to drop down towards Essex when I can make out the sea below, and then the familiar shapes of Foulness Island, and then Southend with the pier only half visible in the fog. We cross the Thames and skirt round southern London, turning at Crystal Palace transmitter, just sticking up through the fog, the rest of London was lost from view. I could just make out Battersea, but then after dropping down some more Vauxhall and the Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace, The Barbican and then the City. It was all hazy, and I tried to get shots with the little camera.

Victoria Enbankment, The Inns of Court and Fleet Street

Once down we waited whilst the plane was made safe, then led into immigration, once again no queues, and then the unusual event of waiting for our bags. Once on the DLR station I had another short wait, all the time checking my watch, wondering if I would catch the next train home, or have to wait. In the end I miss it by a couple of minutes, so John Lydon and myself have a gingerbread latte with an extra shot in the cafe overlooking the station and waited.

Being after rush hour, the train I knew would be almost empty, and so it was, so I picked my seat opposite the luggage rack, and settled down to watch the Essex marshes and then Kent slip by as I got ever nearer home.

Once in Dover I had to get some cash, as Jools would be at work for another 5 hours, I had to get a taxi back home. There were at least three wating so I would not have to go into town dragging my cases looking for a taxi office.

All in all, travelling back in the morning is so much better than in the evening, what with there being no rush hour as I travel back from London, being able to get a seat and it being daylight! Will have to do this again.

The cats were waiting for me, telling me they had not been fed in like ages. I give them something to keep them quiet, put on the kettle and get out my work computer to catch up, but thankfully all is quiet. At four, all is done, so I switch it off, make another coffee and wait for Jools to come home. Another week nearly done.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Thursday 20th November 2014


Monday morning rolls round once again. There is rain in the air outside, and it is still very dark. I really do not want to go, but not in a really miserable way. At least I think.

I get ready, as does Jools as she will drop me off on the way to the factory. Traffic is light, and as we pass the castle the lights on the French coast some 23 miles away can be seen. There is the hint of dawn in the east.

I get my ticket and go to wait on the platform. It seems busier than normal, but I could be imagining it. It feels still warm, not November cold anyway. The train glides in, I climb aboard and check my mails before we leave again and disappear into the harbor tunnel thus cutting the phone signal off.

By the time we reach Ashford, it is almost daylight, and the train is full, with people standing by the doors. I close my eyes and Kent slips by. The traffic at Dartford is heavy, but we thunder through at over a hundred, crossing the Essex marshes to Dagenham before heading underground to Stratford.

This really is as routine as I’m making it sound. I know the way now, and so am on autopilot at Stratford, riding the escalator to the concourse, walking to the DLR station, waiting for a train then getting one of the flip down seats so not to block the gangway with my cases. The usual mix of businessmen, construction workers and schoolchildren get on and off as we make our way to London City.

At the airport, I check in, drop my bag but find no one in security, and on a Monday morning. So I am through and sitting down for breakfast by twenty past eight, and eating by half past. I have a second cup of coffee as I watch the news scrolling by on the nearby large TV.

Time to board, no one I know on the flight, so I read a magazine until we’re allowed onto the plane, reading more until we taxi to the end of the runway, more revs are applied, the propellers spin faster, and we lurch forward, leaping into the air as we draw level with the terminal, and up through the clouds into the bright sunlight.

I read more, accept a glass of juice, and the journey passes.

We emerge from the clouds at Billund at tree top height, the clouds are thick and heavy drizzle is in the air. It looks horrible, and pretty much is. I get a hire car, another tiny Citroen, and drive the 45 minutes to the factory for another meeting.

The three hours pass quickly, so back into the car, and the Danish evening, which is pretty much night now as the rain still falls. It is just half an hour into Esbjerg, to the usual hotel. For a change I find a parking space, outside.

That evening I walk to the Dronning Louise again, I have a couple of Christmas beers and a burger whilst reading the John Lydon book.

Still only half seven, but I am tired, so I walk back to the hotel, and take to my bed, hoping sleep would come.


Another day in paradise.

Outside it is still dark, but we have a late start at nine, which means I don’t have to leave until after eight, so a lay in whilst listening to the delivery truck down below unloading, and the offshore workers making their way down to breakfast.

The day passes well, but I find out that the early start for Wednesday morning is to go ahead, and any thought of finding a place to watch the England v Scotland game is put out of my mind. I’d need my sleep.

I drive to the factory. Work. Have meetings. Inspect stuff. Drive back.

I meet up with Philip and Henrik for dinner at Flammen. There is a Christmas buffet on, and it is good to have someone to talk to over dinner, even if we do talk shop all evening. It helps to vent.

I take to my bed at half eight, once again hoping sleep would come.


Worried I would over sleep, I suffer a broken night’s sleep, and am wide awake at three and ready in the lobby waiting for Henrik at twenty past four. It is darker than dark outside.

I scrounge a coffee off the guy in reception, which helps me make up some. And at half four we drive to the next factory. We have more coffee there, then begin the inspection a little after five. It feels like winter in Denmark, not only is it dark, but there is a keen wind blowing in from the east. It feels like its below freezing, but its a few above. Still cold to me. The Danes laugh at me as I struggle to do my coat up.

Two hours later, when we have completed the inspection, it is beginning to get light. Day reveals itself to be grey and featureless, a typical Danish day in November. We inspect another tower, taking us to near lunchtime, so I head to the office to meet up with Steffen and the guys.

By mid afternoon I am shattered. My flight home is first thing Thursday morning, and I am booked into the Zleep Hotel at the airport. I bid my friends farewell and take the familiar road to Billund, I check in then head into Billund to look for somewhere to eat.

Billund is like a small version of Milton Keynes, all modern buildings and roundabouts. It looks soulless. I find it depressing. It is also where Lego is designed a made, and I find it disappointing that their buildings do not look like they are built out of plastic bricks. Seems like the business of plastic bricks is serious stuff.

I drive back to the airport, hand the car in and grab a burger in the departure lounge. Its not much, but is OK. Meaning I can go back to the hotel, chill out and get an early nigh, whilst I listen to the sound of the airport outside.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Sunday 16th November 2014 (part 2)


Good evening and welcome to the sick house. Rather like the episode of The Young Ones, also called Sick, someone has turned on the sneezing and the not tap, and I am suffering. I got three hours sleep last night, and feel like crap. Urgh.

I was awake just before three, and further sleep would not come, so I got up and did some computering, some reading and tea drinking. Dawn was a long time timing. I fed the cats, they then left me to my sniffling. I finished the Danny Baker book. Where did it all go right, Danny? Well, almost all the time it seems. And although I have not had a multi-media career which helped me spunk millions in holidays and the such, I do feel that despite never having had a plan in life, here I am, travelling, if not the globe, then the UK - Denmark axis, clocking up the air miles, in tiny amounts, and testing beers as a freelancer.

Sunday morning walk in Hythe

I have no idea, really, how I came to be here, but I am and so I had better make the best of it.

Sunday morning walk in Hythe

After breakfast, we decided to go for a walk near where Jools works, as I had not seen that part of HYthe before, and the promise was of tabernacles, fishing boats and canals. And I saw them all. We parked near the factory, and walked along the esplanade a bit, so I could take in the conversion of a Martello tower which was now a fine looking house, but one suspects the owners could not get away with that kind of thing now. Two further towers could be seen a little way along the coast in the Army Firing Range, and they looked untouched. Apart, one suspects, from the odd stray round or two. More fishing boats were laid up on the beach, we found the much-fabled smoke house which should keep us in smoked haddock as and when we need it.

Sunday morning walk in Hythe

We drove back through Saltwood, where I had seen a fine looking village hall to photograph. That done we drove back through narrow wooded lanes, all golden in the weak sunshine showing through a break in the cloud. We drove home down the Elham Valley, through Folkestone and home for the last of the first Christmas cake and a strong coffee.

Sunday morning walk in Hythe

At two we drove back into Dover for Jools' Autie's 70th birthday, or something. It was someone's birthday, the wife of the (late) brother of my father-in-law, that makes me confused just thinking about it. Now, being the only child of two only children, family get-togethers usually took place whenever the six of us ate on a Sunday, Christmas, Easter or whenever there was a birthday. Marilyn had hired a huge hall, and it was full with about 200, not all related, but most of them. It was all a bit much, really, and after an hour we played the we have to get back to the car as the ticket is about to run out line.

We came home, had more coffee, and I listened to the Wales (football) game on the radio, and in due course cooked dinner; a warmed through roast beef and new steamed veg dinner, which whilst not as good as the one on Thursday, took a lot less time than to cook from fresh.

We washed that down with a bottle of the 2011 Elderberry wine we made some 38 months ago, to find it had turned into brandy, or some other fortified wine, and blew our socks off. One glass was enough!

All that was left was to pack for the morning commute to Denmark, shave and write this. Job done, see you all on Thursday.


Sunday 16th November 2014


This is Saturday, watch and smile.



Yes, Saturday. Only, I have woken up with a sore throat, is that allergies or a cold or maybe even the flu? We shall see.

Saturday morning in Dover

Obviously, we have to go shopping for a few essentials, and end up getting some more beer, a cook book and some other more important stuff. Oh and bacon. And bread. Which combined can make bacon sarnies. Yay. And that is what we have for breakfast, soon the house is full of the smell of burning bacon, because streaky bacon has to be crispy, it is the law.

Saturday morning in Dover

I decide to skip the haircut, meaning we have the rest of the day with just the need to run some chores in town. So about half nine we set out. I mention the time as I had planned to snap a railtour this weekend, I spent an hour pouring over Google maps to get the best spot, planned Sunday down to the last second, only to fail to spot the tour was on the 15th, and when I was buying a birthday card, I should have been on a bridge at Westenhanger. O well.

Saturday morning in Dover

Chores done, we are soon back home, having another coffee together with a generous slab of Christmas cake. There seems to be only enough left for one more day. Shame. But then we have two more!

As all games in the top two divisions were cancelled for the international break, I decide I should watch some rugby instead of complaining about it. But much to my dismay, the England games was on Sky, so I had to put up with Wales v Fiji, and a very poor game that was; lots of mistakes, missed passes and dreadful refereeing. But then after that, the football team were due to play, and I am sure they could play much worse than Wales and Fiji. And almost did, a poor first half gave way to a barely better second, before England scored an own goal, and then sprung into life banging in three in the final 15 minutes. Just about OK, but won't set the world on fire.

I cook steak and chips and sweetcorn and peas and garlic mushrooms for dinner. It is wonderful, and just about finishes us: the badgers get some steak gristle and fat as well as a few crispy chips in their bowl, before we call it a night, and we take to our bed.

Sadly, it is a cold I have, and laying down causes much sneezing and sniffing. Its going to be a long night.....

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Saturday 15th November 2014


Oh yes, our good friend Mr Friday, how have you been?

I may has said that yesterday too. Well, I like Fridays, last day of the working week and all that. Weekend comes soon after four in the afternoon, and it stretches before us like a huge uncharted island. Lovely.

I worked from home, whilst Jools took the car and headed to the factory in Hythe, some 18.3 miles away. I mention the distance because it doesn't seem that far normally, but in heavy traffic it can take a while, so Jools allows extra time for travel, and me more time on me tod with the cats.

As usual, work went tits up first thing, and I was fire fighting most of the day, but calm was restored by afternoon and I was able to turn the computer off by four and watch the sun go down outside, and then be reminded on a regular basis that I really should be feeding the cats by now.

Jools arrived home, we had pasta and some wine for dinner, and after channel surfing ended up watching a documentary about WWII in colour. It was rather good, and the war still has the power to shock some 70 years later with scenes of the Warsaw Ghetto and then the death caps. How pure the Nazi's evil was, and I wondered how they rationally came to the final solution and not one person, apparently, thought this was wrong. It still happened today, maybe not the death camps, but the demonising of a minority, making them seem less human, easy to report when there are deaths. All life is sacred and special, not just collateral damage.

That was Friday, all done, now bring on the weekend.....

Friday, 14 November 2014

Friday 14th November 2014


And what is this, waking up in my own bed, on a Thursday, what in darnation is this craziness? Oh yes, back home last night, so I get to work from home as the wind doth blow outside and there will be no desks at Ice Station Ramsgate. So, Jools gets ready for her commute to Hythe, I sip coffee and watch the recording or Sunday's football, Arsenal throwing away another lead, before I settled down to the business of the day, switching on the computer and having another coffee. And another.

I treat the brids outside to an extra pot of food, as they seem to be so hungry, and the day passes quickly and without incident.

At three, I have to walk to the doctors to collect some drugs, being the time of year when it looks cold outside, but isn't really, I put on a coat and a thick work jumper and set off down the street then Station Road into the village. Walking downhill was fine, it felt cold, but back up the other side, my blood started pumping, and I was soon warm enough.

Being nearly half three, the children were leaving school, and being a single male, red faced, I seem to get a few second glances at what I might be doing walking along a public footpath. Walking, obviously. I might make a sign to hand round my neck next time, 'walking to doctors' and not for blue pills.

Anyway, the much promised rain was in the air as I walked back, and I just got home before it began to rain harder. The cats were waiting enquiring where I thought dinner was. Well, its in the cupboards, go and get it. I then pour some crunchies in bowl as a few snacks for then, and then begin the very serious business of preparing roast beef. I weigh the joint, calculate cooking time, coat it in flour and season the ends. Peel the potatoes, put on to boil, mix the Yorkshire Pudding, finally prepare the rest of the vegetables. Back in the living room I select a bottle of red to have with dinner, and all is set.

I time it perfectly, giving Jools ten min utes to change before dishing up: the house is filled with glorious smells, and if I say so myself, tastes as good as it smells. And looks.

And tomorrow is Friday, and after that the weekend which holds the promise of shopping, haircuts, and maybe some train chasing. Who knows.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Thursday 13th November 2014


Now, It should have been the third of my five days away, and yet here I was packing ready to go home. Because of the surprise news that the customer would be going home early, I was able to arrange an early flight back home, and so have four days back in Blighty over the weekend, before flying back to Denmark again on Monday.

I gave myself an extra long lay in bed, until it was getting light outside, before springing into action, packing, getting ready for a day's work and travel home. Once checked out, I drove to the office in Esbjerg, ready to catch up on my mail before it was time to leave for the airport.

Much to my surprise, I had a ticket for the business lounge, so I settled down with some free beer and try to finish the Danny Baker book. Outside, the rain fell and night fell by mid-afternoon. Or so it seemed. The flight was called, and we made our way to the gate. I slumped into seat 3A, opened my book and preparations for take off went on around me.

We took off into the angry skies, and soon Denmark was lost to view out of the window. I carried on reading, enthralled in my book, Europe rolled by, and when I looked back out, the Belgian coastline could be seen as we crossed the North Sea towards Essex.

We flew over Southend, across The Thames along the line of the A2 and then round the southern suburbs until we passed over the transmitter at Crystal Palace, the plane swung north, passing over the old Battersea Power Station and then swooping lower over the Thames, Piccadilly Circus, Buckingham Palace, Harrods, Regent Park Zoo: they all rolled by below me. It is a glorious sight, looking north I could see the arch of the Barlow Train Shed where the train to Dover would be being prepared for the run to the coast, maybe I could make it and be home by eight fifteen.

We landed, and taxied to a slot very quickly: a bus rolled up and be de-bused quickly. There was no queue at immigration, my case was waiting for me. I swept it up, went out to the DLR station, for a four minute wait for a train to Stratford. I checked my watch, it was going to be tight. How is it when you are in a hurry does it seem the train is taking its time? Well, it did. And as we finally rolled into Stratford International, I had a minute to get up the stairs, cross to the Southeastern platforms, down the stairs there. I wasn't going to make it, so I was last off the train, and ambled up to the lounge, had a gingerbread latte and read some more until it was time to go to the platform.

Catching this later train means it has only 6 coaches rather than the 12 the direct train to Dover had, so there is little chance of a seat, and so it was as some greedy people rather their bags or coats were comfortable rather than give up half the double seat for a fellow traveller. Oh well, its just half an hour to where i change at Stratford. Standing on the platform, there were no clouds overhead, and the moon, now past full was rising in the east.A couple of Eurostars thunder past on the avoiding lines, leaving the overhead wires bouncing in their wake.

The train to Dover rumbles in, we all rush on, but there is more than enough room for us all. We travel through the darkness and I have my head buried in the book, I look up to see us arriving in Folkestone. As we emerge from Abbotscliff Tunnel, I could see the lights of France twinking across the Channel, I was nearly home.

Jools was waiting, I throw my cases in the back of the car, and off we go to the house on the cliffs. You know the drill by now, we have a bite to eat and me a huge cuppa. Another long, long day was over, and I was home two days early.

One for the good guys then!

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Wednesday 12th November 2014


All though Sunday night, lightning flashed and thunder cracked around and over the house. Waking up at five fifteen was no better with the storm raging all around, or so it seemed. I checked the trains, then the airport, all seemed to be working but then it was early.

I had a coffee, a little fruit, then it was time to go.

The rain was hammering it down, making driving tricky, if not nearly impossible. Jools drove into Dover, heading down Castle hill, the runoff turned to road into a river. Lightning still flashed around. Any strike on the railway would stop the signals working, and there would be no travel for maybe an hour. Inside the station I checked the departures, all seemed well and on time, so I got my ticket and waited on the platform, checking my mails on the phone to see if there were any actions I could take.

The train arrived on time, and in still heavy rain we got on and waited to move off. It crawled to Folkestone, and I felt that any moment we would stop altogether. But, we made it, and the clouds were already parting and blue sky could be glimpsed. The train filled up as we called at the stations in Folkestone, and again in Ashford. By now there was no rain, and there were almost no clouds as the sun rose away to the east.

As I have said before, the journey into and then across London is now so routine that I hardly give it any thought. So, I walked to the DLR station, got on, found a copy of The Metro to read the latest tribulations of Spurs and The Arse. That took a couple of minutes of the journey.

I got off at the airport, got my boarding card, checked in my bag and went up through security. Another ten minutes gone. I have 90 minutes to kill, so I have breakfast. A big breakfast. At fifteen quid, it seemed better value than the poached eggs on a piece of toast. Sausage, back, poached eggs, beans, hash browns, tomatoes, mushroom and a cuppa. I order another cuppa, then realize my flight is about to be called. I slurp it down, look at the board and the gate is up.

We climb aboard the small aircraft, I get my normal seat in row 7, with views I hope over London as turn to the north. We shall see.

Take off from LCY

The engines start, we have the safety brief, and off we trundle, making our way to the far end of the runway, before standing on the piano keys, reving the engines before the pitch of the propellers are changes, and the plane strains forward. Brakes are released, and off we go, bouncing down the runway, getting faster and faster before we climb into the blue skies.

We turn to the north, and I am treated to a fine view down the river and The City. The familiar sights of north London and south Essex roll by below. Ipswich rolls by, but all else is lost beneath a blanket of cloud. I turn to my book and the flight rushes by.

Take off from LCY

Denmark is under cloud, no surprise there. But the cloud reaches down to just a few metres about ground, maybe 20 or so. So we do not see the ground until we are skipping over the perimeter fence and down the runway. Outside the rain is falling hard.

Take off from LCY

I get given a Polo for the week, I find it in the car park, find the boot is not big enough for both my cases, so my briefcase sits on the back seat. It is a very familiar drive down to Esbjerg, and to the office with my friends. I have an office, so settle down to fire off dozens of mails.

Take off from LCY

At four, I go to the hotel, check in and find I am on the wonderful top floor for the first time, in one of the rooms that has been renovated. I have fine views over the rooftops of the town, although it is pretty much dark so I watch the traffic coping with the rain until it is time for dinner.

The rain had stopped, so I go for a walk, checking out my old haunt, Paddy Go Easy, and find it is being renovated, and so I hope for a good pint of red sometime soon.

So that left the usual places, so I walk into the Dronning Louise to find it almost empty, I take a table and order a lamb burger and a pint of Christmas ale and whilst waiting read more of my book. The temptation to open a tab and try all nine Christmas beers is strong, but not wise, so I have a second, then walk back to the hotel to write some final mails before bed.

Ipswich from the air


Up at dawn, or even before that. Outside I could hear the traffic rumbling. I have a shower, get ready go to breakfast, and all that is left is an half hour drive to the factory. I am surprised to see the road in the other direction so full of traffic it seems just like a solid line of headlights.

At the factory, we have an hour to wait and then its show time.

The day ends just before four, with the news that there would be no more inspections the rest of the week, I try to arrange an early return trip home and so have a long weekend with Jools and them cats.

Flight arranged, I am happy so drive back to Esbjerg, arrange an early check out for the morning, dump my stuff and grab my camera and have just enough daylight for an hours walk and snapping. My plan was to snap the track laying on the harbor branch, as something is so rare back home. Now, no one is sure what traffic is going to use it, but there must have been a 100 folks working on it in various places.

I snap them, the sun set, the harbor. Oh look, I say to myself, I’m near Dronning louise; why not have a Christmas beer. Good idea I think. So, I am settled into a fine leather armchair, sipping on a strong beer watching the highlights of the weekend’s games on Eurosport. And I’m meeting with a friend later. And I’m orf home tomorroa. I am happy indeed.

Steffen calls, we agree to eat at Flammen, then have another beer. And another. And like a well oiled plan, that is what we do. After lots of meat in Flammen, we walk to the sports bar for another, then to Dronning Louise for another.

I am tired and full.

I bid Steffen goodnight as he circles some poor young lady, so I leave him to his sharking, and walk back to the hotel.

People ask me, what is Denmark like? And my usual answer is that is like a slightly hillier Norfolk. I mean rolling fields, farms, woodlands, bogs, villages all pretty much look the same here in Jutland, but am I being a little unfair?

Well, it has much better transport than Norfolk for one, and it is really very clean, little rubbish and fly-tipping to mar the views. But, one bit of Jutland looks like another, but then Holland is pretty much the same all over as well, and they don’t complain.

But then neither do the Danish.

The Danes what are they like? Well, quite removed from their Viking heritage, there seems to be little appetite for robbing, pillaging. Not sure about the raping thing though. Though they do like a bit of bacon, strong beer, meat, cycling, reality TV, football, handball. It really isn’t a bad place, nor are the people.

But it is expensive, but not so bad as Norway. Its not so cold either, doesn’t snow much, they have a lot of rain and wind. Traffic is a problem in bigger towns and cities, but then it’s the same the world over. It does get dark early this time of year, and stays light late in high summer, but that is to be expected, no?

Most Danes speak English to some extent, and if you are able to say Tak back, or Skol, they seem very happy indeed. After four and a half years of travelling here, I am sure that I should have learnt more that Tak, Skol, Ol, but the Danes seems happy enough and I get by. Well, I get drinks, say thanks when one is brought over and how to toast the person who supplied it. What else is there?

It is a pleasure to arrive, but more to leave and head back to Blighty where a good cuppa can be had, as well as a proper bacon. From Denmark, of course.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Sunday 9th November 2014 (part 2)


It is the day of rest.

So I rest.

We lay until nearly seven, outside a few mournful birds were singing in the heavy rain. I get up, come downstairs to be greeted by three hopeful feline faces wanting breakfast. The rain falls heavier outside.

After the first cup of coffee, I settle down to watch the football from the recorder. Everyone apart from Chelski are awful, and with the exception of Southampton, all seem to have given up and are doing impressions of Norwich. So it goes. Liverpool lose to Chelsea, Citeh draw with QPR. It passes the time anyway.

Sunday morning walk from Deal to Sandwich Bay

Once I have booked my seat on the flight tomorrow, we drive into Deal so we could walk along the prom, prom, prom. The rain had stopped, and the sun was threatening to break through. Deal out of season means being able to find a parking space, which is nice. We park by the pier, and have to decide to head towards Walmer or Sandwich. Sandwich is the winner, so we walk north, along the new sea defences, and past the dozens of people trying to teach worms to swim. Or fishing as they like to call it.

Sunday morning walk from Deal to Sandwich Bay

There is barely a breath of wind, and the sea is so calm there is hardly a wave breaking on the beach. All very nice indeed. We reach Sandown Castle, or the remains of it, turn round and walk back to the car, this time heading along Middle Street once we were back into town. The place is nearly deserted, and very pleasant to walk through. Near the car, the smell of frying bacon was almost too much to bear, but we do resist and head back home for lunch of toasted jalapeno bread and a large cuppa. Oh, and another generous slice of early Christmas cake. Well, Mum said she didn;t want it, so we didn't want it to go to waste, did we?

Sunday morning walk from Deal to Sandwich Bay

In the afternoon, I listen to the football, prepare and order calendars for Christmas presents, edit photos, pack, and at half three do a session on the cross trainer, I am man. And I do things.

The weekend is slipping by, it is getting dark outside when Jools comes back from seeing Nan: the visions have stopped, but she is in a poor way, too fragile to move, hardly eating or drinking. She wants to die. Its hard on Jools, seeing Nan like that. Old age will get us all, unless something else doesn't first.

Sunday morning walk from Deal to Sandwich Bay

Dinner is chorizo hash and a pint. Perfect.

I shower, pack. And there is just a couple of hours of the weekend left. Where did it go?

Tomorrow is Denmark, more audits and inspections. And rain. And Christmas beer. Skol!

Sunday 9th November 2014


Oh yes, my good friend Mr Weekend, how I've missed you.

Whilst working away from home is not as bad as my moaning might make it seem, travelling back on a Friday and flying back out on Monday makes the weekend seem very short indeed, especially as I leave left the offices in Arhus on Friday, so were many others who were making an early start on the weekend. Mine would have to wait some eight hours.

But the weekend did arrive, and very welcome it was too. So welcome I was laying awake at half five, listening to the silence outside. Is that even possible? Listening to silence I mean. Well, I love the quiet of St Maggies, and just the wind in the trees, the few early birds looking for food and singing to the whole world about it. And at least one of the cats meowing to make sure we knew it was time for breakfast. Or at least, cats breakfast.

I get up, put on my dressing gown and walk down the stairs, into the kitchen, filling the coffee pot and then heading into the utility too, to feed them cats. It makes them happy, and making them happy makes me happy.

We have a coffee, then plan the day: drive upto the Hoo Peninsular, snap a train, come back, maybe go out to snap it again, the usual.

Hoo is an area east of Gravesend, right at the end of the Thames estuary, and as well as the setting for Great Expectations, it is now home to power stations, Thamesport and still a few scattered communities. It lies over the other side of the Medway, but could not be more different to the Medway towns. Very quiet, rural. It also has a frieght only branch line serving Thamesport and another wharf. And today, a passenger tour was going to travel up and down it. Not earth-shattering stuff, but worth a trip out, standing on a windy bridge for half an hour with half a dozen other like-minded people with cameras.

"The Doctor Hoo" at Grain Crossing, Hoo, Kent

It is a long drive up the A2 then the M2, past Faversham and then the Medway towns. I suppose we could have taken the tunnel, the Medway Tunnel that is, but I like to drive over the motorway bridge beside HS1. Just in case we see a train. But we don't.

I look at the clock, I realsie we are cutting it fine for my first shot, passing by the signal box at Grain, and to add to the pressure, the fuel light came on. No time to stop now, press on.

We arrive at the crossing with ten minutes to spare, I take out my camera with the nifty fifty, check some angles and decide on the shot I want with the small signal box and the gates in the shot. And wait. The gates are closed, I hear a rumble and a huge class 66 trundles up, stopping on the crossing to receive a token from the signal man. Engines roar and it inches off, accelerating to a quick walking pace. I cross back over the road to snap the loco on the back as it passes.

"The Doctor Hoo" at Grain Crossing, Hoo, Kent

The gates are opened, I make my way back to Jools in the car and we drive back down where a new bridge has been built over the line to be ready to snap it on the way back. It is a fine, but chilly and windy morning. We wrap up and wait. And wait. We can just see the train dwarfed under the gas storage tanks a mile or so away, so we will have plenty of warning when it does come back.

Quarter of an hour late, it begins to move, and we get ready as the driver pushes the power controls and it speeds up to something like 30mph. I snap it all the while, and soon it fill the viewfinder before, seconds later, if disappears below our feet, and its all over.

"The Doctor Hoo" at Grain

The A2 is blocked at Canterbury, so we drive down the 229 on Bluebell Hill to join the M20, and drive down through Maidstone, Ashford and Folkestone before we approach Dover. Jools has an errand to run in town: I don't, so I suggest I wait in the Rack of Ale sampling a pint whilst I wait. Yes, that seems a very good idea indeed. I have a pint of mild, and then try the new barrel of stout which is very nice indeed before Jools comes back and we return to the car and drive home for lunch.

Two pints in half an hour means I would be snoozing on the sofa, which I do, whilst listening to the football. Later I wake up to follow City's game on the internet. We throw away a goal lead in the final 5 minutes to lose 2-1 at Forest and enter the crisis zone. What happens now? Who knows, but this aint good enough, and we all knows it.

The evening highlight is the final Dr Who of the series, which Jools watches, and I don't. But we're both happy, and that's what matters.

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Saturday 8th November 2014


Another day of meetings. Or meeting.

The meeting was not due to start until nine, but I was awake before six, so got up at half past, had a shower, got ready and went down for breakfast. Here we go again.

Outside it was a cool and damp morning with a hint of mist in the air, traffic was already heavy, and a drive along the O2 would certainly wake me up. It is odd, that Arhus has such a bad traffic problem, but all roads seemed to be jammed in the mornings, but I know the roads leading onto the city are even worse. I get to the office with no trouble, only breaking the speed limit by 10km/h a few times. And so it was time to prepare for the meeting and act like an adult for a while.

All goes well, in fact better than that, so I was able to relax, enjoy a leisurely lunch with plenty of chit chat. All very civilised.

The meeting breaks up early, all parties being happy enough. I catch up on my mails before heading back to the hotel to chill. In a surprise move, I order meatball and rice with curry sauce instead of burger and fries, which is good, and the food was even OK.

Another day over, and tomorrow, I get to go home.


And here we are again, awake before dawn, laying in bed listening to the traffic passing on the ring road outside my window. Time to pack, have breakfast and check out.

And today I have yet more meetings. No, worse than that, an audit. And instead I was the one being audited. The auditor becomes the audited. Oh, the horror. But thanks to the hard work of my colleagues, all goes well, and once again we end up having a very pleasant lunch, a bit more of an audit and shake hands and pack up. Whilst others in the office are packing up for an early start to the weekend, I have an hour drive to the airport, wait for my flight, an hour and 50 minutes to London then crossing London on the DLR in the rush hour and then getting a train to Dover. THEN, the weekend can begin. I shouldn't complain, but with travelling back on a Friday evening, and back out Monday morning, it makes the weekend seem so short.

And that is how it panned out, driving south to the airport in the weak Danish sunshine. At the airport I call my old boss to see if he is at the airport and see if he can sign me into the business lounge: the answer is yes and yes. He meets me at the door and I am in the land of free beer and free snacks and decent wifi.

My flight has been put back 20 minutes, which does not sound too much, but that 20 minutes means making the direct train to Dover at seven fifteen tricky. Philip leaves on the Manchester flight at five, leaving me alone with the free beer. Oh, the horror.

We take off on time, and with clear skies over Denmark and Holland means the lights glisten below me as we travel south towards London. I snooze, obvs, I mean after three halves, who wouldn't? As we make our final approach along the Thames, I see roads are heavy with traffic, with the M25 at Dartford stationary for miles on either side. A Eurostar hurtles along below, soon I hoped to be travelling along those same tracks heading home. Once landed, we are made to sit in the plane for 20 minutes, whilst a plane on the next pan readies to take off, then we have no staff to escort us the 5m to the door of the terminal. I try not to get frustrated.

What is called a 'passenger indecent' means that one of the DLR lines is blocked, not the one I want to travel on, but the trains are packed, I just get on with my bag and case. I look at my watch, it is two minutes past seven, 15 minutes to get to Stratford. I am pretty sure I won't make it, and think of getting a coffee for the inevitable wait until five to eight. And I am right, I get to the station four minutes after the train has left. I by a drink and sit down to watch people passing by, the heady mix of people with cultures from the four corners of the world: it is dizzying, but wonderful, not as the Daily Hate Mail would have it, horrific or frightening. I love it.

I get a packed train to Ashford, wait 15 minutes on the platform looking at the sparkling stars above, and the Eurostars thundering past a few feet away at 175mph. The wires fizzle and shake after the trains have past. This is the future.

And here it comes, the final leg of the trip back home. I slump into a seat, read some articles in Empire as the inky blackness of the Kentish countryside slips by outside.

Jools is waiting in the car, I throw in the cases and we drive home. The weekend had arrived.

I had had a good week at work, and Jools had completed her first week at her new job. Yay. And yay.

Friday, 7 November 2014

Friday 7th November 2014


Being a Monday, better head to Denmark on what is likely to be the first in three if not four weeks in the land of strong beer and crispy bacon. And Jools was starting her new job, But I was so wrapped up in thoughts of my tasks for the day, I forgot to wish her luck, but I remember at the airport so sent a text. Jools dropped me off at the station, I bought the tickets and waiting on the platform for the train, making calls on my mobile so putting out those early morning fires.

I felt in control. Good.

The train arrived early, so I settled into a seat and waited for the departure, squeezing in a call to my boss updating him on the firefighting.

Still in control. Still good.

We moved off into the dawn of the new week, I tried not to think that a week before I was preparing to head to Norwich for the beer festival. But here I was heading to London, with the commuters, drinking their coffees answering mails. Just like me, he said dressed like a tramp.

In London, it was light, I made my way to the airport on the DLR, still felt good. I checked in, went through security, and made my way to a table with a view of the large TV so I could catch up on the news. I ordered poached eggs and a coffee, and so the waiting began. And the eating.

The flight left late, and we were in a queue to take off, but nothing unusual in that. We took off, and for a while London was spread out below before it slipped out of view under the clouds. I read a magazine, and so the journey passed quietly. It is now so routine, I hate to sound blasé, but it is.

Once back on the ground, I was the last one off the plane, and ambled along as I knew there would be a queue at immigration, so if I hurried I would only have to queue there. I signed for a car, walked to the lot, loaded up and was all set for the 45 minute drive to the factory.

Denmark was in all its autumnal finery: trees were golden, and leaves fell like golden snow in the gentle breeze creating a golden carpet between the trees. It would have been wonderful to stop and just look: but I had to be in Varde by two, and time was getting on. I pressed on, and soon arrived, although the customer had missed her flight from Amsterdam, and so we had a couple of hours to kill before she arrived. We filled the time by drinking coffee and swapping stories, about turbines. As you do.

She arrived at three, and so we began a discussion about what we should do over the next day, that done, we broke up and I set off for the hotel in Esbjerg, where I guessed I would eat a burger in the evening. Sadly, the Irish bar has closed, which gives some relief for my liver, and makes the thought of a walk in the Danish evening, with rain sheeting down, somewhat unattractive.

I have burger and beer, and then retire for the evening to spend it in my smoking jacket puffing on cigars and sipping vintage port. Or not.


I am awake so bloody early, so I lay awake listening to the town waking up too. I shower, collect my things and go down to have breakfast, then drive over to Varde, arriving half an hour before the start of the day. And so the merry dance began.

In truth the day went well, by lunchtime the dancing had finished and there were no more questions, and the meeting broke up at two with Mariska driving to the airport, ahead of schedule for a change. I drove to the hotel, climbed into bed and snoozed. As you do, whilst outside, night fell.

That night I went out with two of my colleagues, well friends really, for a meal at the place over the road, and better than anything, Philip picked up the tab. It is so nice to have people to eat with, and to chat and laugh. Yes, a very nice evening, but one filled with too much meat.


5th November

Bonfire Night (actual)

But not here in Denmark.

Again, awake at silly o’clock, I pack, shower and check out, meet Anni for breakfast and get ready for the short drive to the port. Last time I was here they were digging up the branch line to the port, a shame I thought, that even here in Denmark they are removing lines. But no, they relaid it, put in longer sidings beside the south port, ready for the transportation of turbines, and indeed as I made to turn across the line, a maintenance train was crossing the road, with another load of ballast for the tracks.

Welcome to my office

The day is one long meeting. We drink coffee. Talk. Drink coffee. Talk. Walk round the site. Drink coffee. Talk. It goes well, and they are satisfied.

Welcome to my office

All that is left now is to drive the hour or so up to Arhus to another hotel, book into an identical room , look at an identical menu and order burger and beer.

The drive is good, as I make it before it is filly dark, and it feels safer to do that. It rains some, but then it is Denmark in November.

Just time to write some mails, watch some more football before another day of meetings tomorrow. And guess what I’m doing Friday? Yes, more meetings, but also going home.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Monday 3rd November 2014


With heavy rain forecast for the afternoon, we decided to make the most of it before the rain hit. As the work uncovering the WWII works in Fan Bay have beenin going apace, I knew they had uncovered the sound mirrors. So, after watching MOTD, I grabbed my cameras and walking boots, and we drove along Reach Road to the dog walkers car park, strapped on our boots and set off into the howling gale.

Fan Bay Deep Shelter and Sound Mirrors

Nothing quite like walking along the cliffs in a storm, whilst the wind tried to sweep us off the cliff edge, down below the waves crashed against the foot of the cliffs: dramatic stuff!

Fan Bay Deep Shelter and Sound Mirrors

We made our way along Langdon Bay a brisk ten miunte walk to Fan Bay, and there was the entrance to the deep shelter, little different from when we were last here. Where were the sound mirros? I saw some work had been done lower down the hillside, and sure enough, the works were fenced off, but it would be quite a scramble down to get shots. Should I go down?

Sunday morning walk to Fan Bay and back

Silly question, as I made my way down the very steep hill, 60 degrees in places, but steps had been cut in the earth making it possible to get down. The sound mirrors are almost in pristine condition, after over 60 years of being buried, and it was quite some job to uncover them. I got the record shots, then began to look for an easier way up, the path having been swept away in a cliff fall, I had to scramble back up the way I came, which I did with no bother.

Sunday morning walk to Fan Bay and back

Back home i put the rolls I had been making all morning, into the oven. So they would be cool enough to eat at lunch time.

The afternoon was filled with editing photos, laying on the sofa and listening to the radio. THe usual. Jools when to see Nan, who is still in a bad way and is also very frail.

Anyway, the rain arrived, sweeping great sheets of the stuff from the west, soaking the land and turning the afternoon into early evening.

Somehow, the day had slipped through my fingers, and it was time to pack for the trip to Denmark in the morning. Where does the time go?

Sunday 2nd November 2014


All Hallows Day.

All Saints Day.

Bonfire night (part 1).

November sunrise

Jools had done the shopping, so there was no need to be up early to head out, and yet we were both up and about before 6, looking to the east as the sky turned ever more glorious colours. And when the sun did rise above the horizon, it was into a mostly clear blue sky. But within minutes, cloud had rushed over covering the sky with a sheet of grey.

November walk

We decide to go for a walk before the weather really gets crappy, so we decide to head to Windy Ridge, an hour round trip, especially if I dawdle as I take shots. We pull on our walking boots, put our coats on, but as with the day before, it seems warm enough, just about to do without. In fact it was some eight degrees cooler than Friday, but once we began the steady climb along the muddy lanes, the blood started pumping and it was warm enough to unbutton our coats.

November walk back to Windy Ridge

We saw precious few people about, but that was fine, in the woods at Windy Ridge, we saw a few fungi, nothing special, a good crop of King Alfred's Cakes, some Jelly Ears, a few button mushrooms and some forked orange coloured fungi. So, that done we headed back home, back down the hill, time enough for another brew.

I thought about the drain we rigged up last week, and how I could fix that, so I used insulation tape to tighten the joints, hoping that would do the job, and save a trip to B&Q.

The afternoon involved me, snoozing, the sofa and football on the radio. The usual mix. As Norwich had already played, I was not feeling as tense as usual, so sleep came even easier.

For dinner we had pan fried breaded aubergine and home made pasta salad. Light and tasty. SO all was eaten, washed and cleared up before the serious business of Dr Who began at a quarter past.

A quiet day, then.....

Apart from the very early bonfire night parties which lit up the night with flashing lights, bangs and scared the cats. Cheers for that.

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Saturday 1st November 2014

Lets play catch-up.


Jools had two days off before she starts her new job on Monday, and she wanted to try out the public transport to Hythe. I drop her off at Martin Mill when it was still dark, and then head back home for breakfast and getting ready for work; locating the work phone, the pass to get in the compound, etc.

I drive myself to work, at least the car knows the way to go. It is just getting light as I make my way to Ramsgate, only to find the tunnel still closed due to the sewer collapse near the beach, so I have to make my way round the harbour to the office.

It is the modern way that we dread the first day back after any time off due the the backlog of mails in our inboxes. Indeed, I had over 50, all apparently urgent, so like everyone, I answer the easy ones first, and so by lunchtime I was back in control, or at least at a point where I believed I was in control.

The day carries on in much the same way until I have had enough, I mean really had enough and turn the computer off and go home. It was still light, the clouds had parted and the sun was casting golden light on Thanet. Once home I dust off the cross trainer again and do a session, and feel much better about myself. Listening to good music helps with the huffing and puffing of course.

It was getting dark as I begun my workout, and was totally dark by the time I finished. It is going to be the end of March before we can think about doing anything outside after work. Oh well.

We watch Autumnwatch on TV in the evening, something undemanding.


All Hallows Eve.


Before sunrise

Jools is to walk to Deal in the morning, and I am to work from home due to the high winds blowing. Well, not strong, but there would be a good chance the monkeys would be in the office. So, I power the laptop up and get cracking, and straight away, major fire to put out. And so it continues. Bloody Fridays, its supposed to be the final bit of the slope before the weekend, not this pain in the arse thing that stresses us out!

Meetings, meetings and more meetings. Troubles are solved or passed onto someone else.

Rum and coke

The final part of the day is the final preparations for next week, briefing people so they know what is expected. And then it is the weekend.


Vampire Mum

I have a touch of sciatica coming back, and it is bad enough to tell me to stay off the cross trainer at least for that night anyway. It is Jools' brother's 50th birthday this weekend, and we are invited to the combined birthday-cum-Halloween party/bbq thing. We drive to Whitfield, and then up to his house where the smoke is already hanging over the garden meaning the food should soon be ready. We are not in costume, but many are. It has been a glorious golden day, with temperatures up to 24 degrees in the north of the country, this means it was the warmest Halloween on record, and almost warm enough to sit in the back garden sans coat. Almost.

Catching up

We stay for over an hour, eat a burger, a banger in a bun and drink a beer. My back is bad, and I just want to have a shower and chill out on the sofa, so we go home.

I end up following the Norwich v Bolton game on Twitter: it has been switched due to being screened on Sky, but football on a Friday night just don't feel right. Saying that, it changes our luck as we take a 2-0 lead early in the 2nd half, but then manage to concede in the dying moments to make it 'interesting.' We wond 2-1, had we won 3-0 we would have gone top, as it was we finish the day third.