Saturday, 31 January 2015

Saturday 31st January 2015

Wednesday (cont)

The news at dinner is that there is little to do on night shift, so there is little to do until five in the morning. I decide that this might work to my advantage, sleep some more at night, getting up at four, as will have to do at four again on Friday in order to catch my flight, if I can get a seat. As I am told that the work should be done by Thursday evening, so book an earlier flight home. I will find that out on Thursday.

I spend the evening watching more football from England on the TV, then try to sleep from 11, being stirred from my slumber with the alarm going off at half four.


My room phone goes, I did say I would meet Mariska at half four, so I rush to get dressed and meet her tapping her feet in the foyer. We drive to the factory and the two QIs are waiting for us. We follow them into the factory, watch as another guy measures a part of the blade, we look at the process documents, and that is it. After half an hour we are done. So, we say thanks and drive back to the hotel, being back in time for the start of breakfast at six.

Plans are made for the day, I will stay in my room as I wait to hear if I can get an earlier flight, on Friday morning or maybe even Thursday afternoon. If it is the latter, I would have to check out. So, I sit in the yoyer, drink coffee and read my book. This was after a good three hours pinging mails back at folks, news comes at midday that I have a flight in the morning as I hoped, so I can now switch to days. The others came back from the factory, all is fine. My room has been turned down, so when I want I will have a comfortable sleep.

To add to the mix, my work phone stops working about 5, as the service provider has been swapped, but although everything should stay the same, it cannot be registered anywhere except in the UK. So, I won't have the irritation of random work calls, but then I can't check mails either. Back in my room as the day grew old and dark, I go for a snooze only to be woken up at half five by a knock at the door, meet in the restaurant for dinner!

So, one last time, we meet up, swap news and that one final inspection the next day is planned, but it is covered so I can travel back as planned. For a change I have fish cakes, which was very nice, followed by a selection of Jutland cheeses washed down by a pint of local dark ale. All very nice, but now I was very tired, my bed was calling, so I bid the team farewell, head to my room, pack a little and get my head down.


The alarm goes off at four, I groan, but I am going home, right? I pack, brush my teeth and as I check out there is even coffee on offer. Outside snow is gently falling, could this be a problem? The airport is 45 miles away, there might not be any there.

In the end I drive through whilst not quite a blizzard, conditions were difficult at times, slush and snow still in the road as I made my was across Jutland to Billund to the airport. In places there was little or no snow, but in most there was something like an inch. As there was at Billund, but I had taken my time, left with plenty of time, and arrived at six, some 100 minutes before my flight was due. Inside the terminal I look up at the departure board, no delays were reported, and once through security I look out and see the flashing lights of many ploughs and tractors keeping the runways and taxiways clear of snow. It is packed, even at half six in the morning, I catch up on my mails, and decide to have breakfast on the plane instead of mixing with the crowds.

The flight is called, and just seven of us make our way to the gate to check in, and after ten minutes we board. Once refueled, we start up and taxi to the end of the runway, the engines roar and we lurch off down the runway and jump into the sky, soon rising into the low cloud before we had even cleared the airport perimeter fence.

I do get a glimpse of the ground through the clouds as we pass over the Danish coast, fields are all covered in show. It was the same over the Dutch coast, even the beaches appeared white. As we approached the English coast, clouds were thick below. I did see though a gap in the cloud as we passed over the Essex coast, but the rest of final approach the ground was lost from view. We emerge from the cloud as we skim over the Thames, we cross onto the bank and there is the start of the runway. We touch down, the plane slows and we are down and safe.

Quickly through security and I get my case, through the arrival hall to the DLR station, a short wait for a train through to Stratford. I have time for a coffee before my train, so I take the plunge and change the SIM card in my phone, switch it one, and it works straight away. Messages and mails pour in. Well, that was painless.

The train is almost empty, I grab a seat and watch as we move out of the station and into the long tunnel under the London streets.

South Essex flashes by, we pass under the river and into Kent. That too flies by, I rest my eyes, write couple of mails on the phone. Within an hour we are pulling into Dover. Nearly home. I flag a taxi down, he takes me via Townwall Street and up Jubille Way to the Deal Road, then along to St Maggies and home. I open the door expecting to be flattened by welcoming cats, but it appears they just carry on sleeping. I drag the cases into the house, put the kettle on, and decide I have done more than enough hours in the week, so switch the phone off, make myself a cuppa and go to look for the cats.

The afternoon passes with me listening to the radio, drinking tea and feeding the cats once they wake. Outside it gets dark, so I cook jacket puds for dinner, cooking them for three hours so they are crispier than crisp crisps. Jools arrives home at five, we have dinner, swap news, and the evening peters out until we give ina nd head to bed at none, both shattered from a very long week.

Friday, 30 January 2015

Friday 30th January 2015

It is half one on Tuesday morning, I am sitting in a room with an angry Dutch lady, and this is work. I say angry, she isn’t really, just frustrated I said no to a request to do with work. But, all is well, and we are working away. Or I am writing this after 19 straight hours of work, and there is probably two more to go before I can climb into bed.

And then switch onto day shift on Wednesday, probably.

Or not.

But such is the life of an international quality expert and playboy.


Despite getting up at six in the morning, the four hours until I had to leave the house flew by, and in that time I packed, had a shower, watched MOTD, had breakfast, editing some shots, wrote a blog entry. And then it was time to leave.

I can now leave from Martin Mill, which gives me the grandest of views as we sweep out of Guston tunnel with all of Dover laid out below, and then we swing round the valley, descending to Buckland Junction and then to Priory. After that it is the usual journey, up to Stratford, the train seems fuller now the new service is going, and the guy behind me broadcast the latest bland pop hits from his phone. He got off at Folkestone West and all was quiet again.

At the airport, the check in machines were not working, so I had to join the queue of the great unwashed, until I spotted an empty check in desk, told her a sob story and she let me check in there, so was up stairs, through security and sitting down for lunch in a few minutes.

Caesar salad I had, there’s healthy. I thought I would try to eat something green as I would probably eat something the opposite at the hotel. Time passed, I ate, drunk a Coke, and soon it was time to head to the gate. At least on a Sunday it is quiet, and once we were all on board we started up, taxied, and were off into the cloudy sky. London faded from view, so I closed my eyes.

When we descended through the clouds over Denmark, a winter wonderland greeted us, white from horizon to horizon. This I was not expecting! Oh well, the drive to Ringkobing would be interesting, especially as the dropped down on final approach, some freezing fog added to the mix of wonderful weather.

As it was somewhere I have visited only once before, I had the sat nav, I loaded my stuff into the Citroen, programmed the sat nav, and off we went, into the Danish night now it was dark, with snow everywhere, but at least the roads were clear.

I made it with little trouble, just glad not to have had an accident. Anyway, I checked in, got the computer out as I had work to do, and no connection. I rebooted. Still no connection. I spoke to the lady on reception, should be no trouble. I ended up wandering the corridors, looking for a hot spot, there was a spare room, and it seemed to have a signal, so I moved there and got down to some work. And listening to the radio.

I got hungry so went to find the restaurant, only to find it closed on Sundays, so I drove into town in search of a place to eat. IN the end it was the Chinese, they were friendly and cheap it turned out. I had Mongolian beef with rice and a coke. £17, or whatever that is in the local money.

And that was Sunday.


The plan for the day was to meet at the factory for seven for a kick off meeting, then I would go back to the hotel to sleep as I said I would cover night shift. The night before, I set my alarm for half five, thus allowing me time to faff about, have breakfast and travel to the factory.

Only, I forgot my ‘smart’ phone developed a fault in that it fails to update to the European timezone, and it seems I forgot to change it manually. Therefore, I was awake before the alarm, doing some advanced faffing, when I looked at the clock on my computer, and it said half five. That meant it was half six here. I had 30 minutes to get dressed and drive to the factory, and find the meeting room.


I dressed, grabbed my stuff, ran out to the car, started the stat nav hoping that it would find a signal quick so allowing me to drive. It did, so I drove the eight miles to the factory, only then to realise it is a group of about a dozen similar buildings, it was dark and no idea which one I should go to.



I called the client as I could find the host’s details, he was having the same problem, but having been there several times before, know where to be, so I arranged to meet him. I drove over, booked in and so was just on time, and for the first time arrived later than the client.

We had the meeting, then arranged for us on nights to be back for seven, or was it eight or even half past?

I decided to drive to Esbjerg to meet the guys there, back in my car, I programmed the sat nav, outside the rain was falling hard, melting the snow left and to add to the mix, there was mist. An hour and twenty minute drive was a nightmare, but I got there safe, met people, and drove back. Four hours of my life I can’t get back. I arrived back, stressed and still not tired.

So, back in my room, I got down to do some work, answering mails and the such. I tried to sleep. I did really, but my mind was racing with work issues.

Six o’clock came, I met with the rest of the teams for dinner. Work was progressing, so I am Mariska would go in at seven and witness. Which is what happened. We watched folks working for hours on end, checked documents, drank coffee.

Surprisingly, I did not feel sleepy, although for various reasons my back began to play up, felt like I was walking on razor blades, but I got through it, and at half five we headed back to the hotel to brief the day shift, have breakfast and sleep.

That feeling as night shift ends and bed beckons is great.


After breakfast I went to bed. Slept for seven hours, checked my mails, and as the craziness had already started, I powered up the computer and began work.

Shower, get dressed, meet at six for dinner and receive the update. Next stage in the process had been delayed, we were to be at the factory at ten.

At then we drive to the factory, met the QI, and was told it was further delayed until three at the earliest. She would call us half an hour before the work was to begin. Back at the hotel I find the Chelsea v Liverpool game was on TV, so I settled down to watch that.

I fall asleep at some point, woken at half one to be told be there at now will be four. At half three the phone went, be here in half an hour.

I call Mariska, we meet in the foyer, just enough time for me to grab a coffee before the drive. In the factory we watch people work again, check documents again. Until ten to six when as the shift is ending, we go back to the hotel having done nearly two hours work. Or watching others work.

At the hotel, we meet day shift for breakfast, brief them. And then to bed.


After some five hours sleep, I wake up to what seemed like hundreds of mails all relating to work, so I quickly wake up, settle down in front of the computer pinging off replies, and soon I was feeling back in control.

At six we meet up to discuss plans for the night ahead, there is just one quality check to be done in the 12 hours shift, at five in the morning. Isn’t that always the way.

It was decided to go to the Chinese I went to on Sunday, Jaap drove in their Merc hire car, just the few minutes down by the harbor in the driving rain. We had soft drinks and selection from the buffet, which was great, and even better when the customer paid!

Back in my hotel room, I put to the TV on to watch the Spurs v Sheffield Utd semi final. All seemed straight forward until Spurs managed to gift Utd two goals in as many minutes, and all got exciting, only for them to score a winner with seconds remaining.

I sleep for a while, woken from my troubled sleep by the alarm at half four. I meet Mariska in the foyer, and we drive to the factory, meet the guys from the QI department, we go in the factory, see the test carried out, looked at the written process. And that is it, the hardest 30 minute shift I have done!

And we were back in time for breakfast at six, and a planning meeting for the day. I can go home early if I can get a flight, and the final stages of the week are playing themselves out.

Do I sleep or not? We shall see.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Sunday 25th January 2015

Sunday morning.

And I have just packed ready for another week in the frozen wastes that is Denmark in January. I will not be back until late Friday, ready for another commute to the same place, same time next Sunday. Such is life, such is the job of a QA Manager.

So, all this means, no blogs probably until Saturday, and then just the one, just so you know.


The plan had been to be up and out at, if not dawn, but soon afterwards. However, what with one thing and another, it was just after nine when we pulled on our walking boots ready to step out into the crisp wintry sunshine.

Saturday morning walk to Kingsdown

We decided to avoid the usual route along to the pig's copse and down the dip, intead walking down Station Road and then turning at the Red Lion and meeting up with the normal route at the top of the steep hill.

Saturday morning walk to Kingsdown

Parked on Station Road was a lorry, the traffic I think is still bad at the port, and drivers have to find somewhere to stop. The M20 between Folkestone and Maidstone is a lorry park. Portable toilets have been set up as the trucks are parked nose to tail for mile after mile.

Saturday morning walk to Kingsdown

Up the hill past the Red Lion and down Kingsdown Road.

Joggers and cyclist sped past us, but we kept up our pace, making good time and enjoying being outside in sunshine.

Saturday morning walk to Kingsdown

Our walk takes us along the national cycle path, we have to doge those dressed in skin tight lycra, but for the most part we have the road to ourselves, do and down towards Kingsdown we go, until once we pass the golf course, the beach and Channel come into view.

There is no such thing as the dog poo fairy!

Jools went to catch the bus back home, and as for me another trip to Denmark and a week of meetings lay ahead, I decide to walk back, this time via the cliffs, through The Leas and up to the Dover Patrol Monument.

The wind was at my back, the sun in my face, and a fine afternoon of cup football lay ahead on the radio. So I walked with increasing stiffness to the kissing gate which I guess marks the boundary between Kingsdown and St Maggies, the air was full of the sounds of the Pringle set playing golf, which is fine, live and let live I say. I then cut across the fields getting back to the cycle path, back into the village, right at the Red Lion, down station road and back home.

Saturday morning walk to Kingsdown

Jools was waiting, as was the bread dough which needed to be made into a loaf and baked. For lunch. Therefore t was nearly two by the time the bread was cooked and cooled down enough to eat, with a huge cuppa. Just butter on the bread, what with the seeds and spices, that was all it needed. And so it was football time.

Saturday morning walk to Kingsdown

You can look at BBC sport to read all the details, but the fact that Utds draw on Friday is now seen as a good result shows how crazy it was yesterday. Chelsea were playing Bradford, Chelse went 2-0 up just before half time. Bradford pulled one back, then in the last ten minutes Bradford scored three more, to win 2-4, at Stamford Bridge. How is that even possible? Well, they wanted it more, and Chelsea did not defend well. Middlesborough won 2-0 at Man Citeh, and could have scored 6 in the 2nd half, Blackburn beat Swansea, Leicester beat Spurs. Crazy but wonderful day.

Sadly, City could not make the day perfect after slipping to a 2-1 home defeat to Brentford, showing that the problems laid not just with the previous manager.

We had some more of the Christmas turkey for dinner, warmed up after being in the freezer for four weeks. It was wonderful, as we had no gravy, I made cheese sauce for the vegetables, and that was great too.

But the time is now slipping through my fingers, we leave for the station in half an hour and the working week will begining again.

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Saturday 23rd January 2015


And so our friend, Mr Weekend, is in sight, but all we have to do is get through Friday.

Friday was crap, as far as work was concerned, as I am travelling most of Sunday, I switched the computer off at half one, and I was glad to pull the curtains on a really disappointing end to what should have been a great week.

I looked out the back, and saw the sun shining bright now, so I thought I would get in the garden to do some gardening. I never really saw the appeal myself, which in this case of me gardening, is so that we have raspberries come summer. I take down the supports and strings, then cut the canes down to the ground. Some of them already had green shoots showing.

What to do with the canes? How about a bonfire? Well, that's what I thought, so stuffed the canes into the brazier, got the firelighters, and applied a flame to the firelighter. It burned well, but the shoots were still green, and there wasn't enough dry fuel to make them burn, but I sat on the bench watching flames dance and smoke rise. I was joined by Scully. And then Molly. Which was nice.

The sun sunk in the west, light faded. Jools came home, she had left work early to see the dentist, and then the barnet mangler. Now she was back, so I start to prepare dinner: breaded butterfly chicken and sauteed potatoes. I could not be bothered with beans or vegetables, so it was all 'dirty' food. I opened a bottle of wine, which went very well with the food.

It was FA Cup weekend, and on Friday Manchester Utd visited Cambridge, and should have been a no contest, but Cambridge rode their luck and the game ran out a 0-0 draw, which was about the right result. Now, time for bed.....

Friday, 23 January 2015

Friday 23rd January 2015


Back to work.

Well, back to sitting at the dining room table, dealing with mails and the such. In fact I had taken my work phone with me to London on Wednesday, so there were no nasty surprises waiting for me in the morning, Which was nice.

Jools took the car to work, so I was at home, with the cats. I dealt with the weekly task of taking the bins out, and bringing them back in once they were emptied. The cats slept, I answered mails, took phone calls. I made some bread during the day, mixing the dough in the morning, leaving to prove all morning, beating it down at lunchtime, then baking mid-afternoon. Mmmm, nothing like the smell of bread cooking: I made rolls, and the plan was to cook some minute steak to have in them, a simple dinner.

The day faded once again into dusk, I did a session on the cross-trainer. I would like to say it was fun, but at least I have the music to listen to.

Once we had eaten, we watched Top of the Tops, from February 1980, what a wonderful time it was, but the show was still more cheesy than cheese.

The day ended with us watching the final edition of Winterwatch, what made it special was Mulder seeing a mouse on TV, then spending 5 minutes trying to chase it across the screen and behind the set. Oh how we laughed, no really.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Thursday 22nd January 2015



Hump Day.

And a day on which I bunked off. I don't know where you're from, but where I grew up, the term was bunking off. Bunking off meant doing something else other than going to school. Or work. And after working last Saturday, well travelling back from Hamburg until after midday, and I will be travelling again next Sunday, I thought I would claw back some time. I informed my manager, and he understood. So, all was set.

The plan was to head to London to visit a church I tried at least three times before to get inside, only to find it shut, or a service about to start. So, that and a return to one other at which I had my camera on the wrong settings, and so the pictures were not good. And I arranged, maybe, to meet with a couple of friends for photography and/or beer.

I thought I would catch a bus into town, then walk to the station. Simple. Only, that thanks to the fire and associated problems in the Channel Tunnel there was a massive backlog of traffic trying to get to the port, and after Jools called me after she arrived at work saying she thought that the buses might be affected. Therefore, I decided to walk to Martin Mill down the hill, and catch the train from there, now that they run to St Pancras from there now.

St Magnus the Martyr, Lower THames Street, City of London

Last week they changed all the train times, and which stations they stop at; so after years of knowing what time a train left either Dover or London, all is confusion once again. Anyway, getting to London would be simple, all I had to do is survive the walk to the station. You see, Station Road, as the name suggests, runs from the middle of the village to the station in Martin Mill. So, walk down the hill to the station, no? Yes, and no. You see, from the top of the hill all the way down to where Station Road crosses the Deal road and beyond to the station it has no pavement, and for the most part, there are steep banks and hedges on either side, so you have to hope that a car or bus driver would see you and overtake you with plenty of room. Or not.

So, leaving 40 minutes for the walk, I leave the house, returning to take the key out of the back door. The first part is fine as I walk the rest of the small estate on the side of the hill, but past the last road, the footpath runs out, and so I have to walk in the road. For the most part it was OK, just one female Mini driver going past we leaving less than a couple of inches between me and the car's wing mirror. Oh well. Then came the really hard part was crossing the main Deal Road, at the junction with Station Road, avoiding not only the cars travelling along the main road, but the cars turning out of either part of Station Road. In the end I walk in front of a van turning as he failed to bother to indicate, so told him so as he went past.

But, I was across the main road, heading down the rest of the dip to the station, arriving with 15 minutes to spare before the departure time. The ticket office was manned, so I got my cheap day return, and took a seat on the platform to wait for the train.

It was at least a dry day, if not warm. I have both a fleece and my double thick work pullover on, a combo I will come to regret by the end of the day. However, I was warm, and enjoying just being on a railway platform, hoping that maybe a loco-hauled railhead train might come down the bank from Guston. But no

. St Magnus the Martyr, Lower Thames Street, City of London

On time, the train arrived, I set a forward facing seat on the left hand side, ideal for looking out to sea after passing through Dover, looking down the Harbour Branch at Folkestone, the traffic on the M20, traffic on the Dartford bridge and freight locos at the Ford plant in Dagenham. I am happy with my obsession. I admit that.

I sat back and enjoyed the trip, which apart from the familiar journey from Dover to Stratford, now I can go from Martin Mill, so get great views over Dover as we come out of Guston Tunnel and weave round Buckland as we descend to the junction and on into Priory. It is a real pleasure, to see the house backing onto the line, and sound of the wheels as they scrape and screech against the checkrails. Apart from a slow part due to a signal failure between Folkestone and Ashford, it was much the same journey as ever on the high speed service. And being the first post-rush hour service, it was pretty full.

St Magnus the Martyr, Lower Thames Street, City of London

We arrived at St Pancras some 15 minutes late, but I have nothing to do other than to wander round churches, taking photos and hopefully meeting friends, drinking beer, as you do.

St Magnus the Martyr, Lower Thames Street, City of London

I walk to the tube station and take a Norther Line train (details are important) to Bank, then take the passageway to Monument, emerging into the light drizzle with the Monument itself before me, and to the right, The Walkie Talkie towering over everything. It also appears to be a building site, but down the hill I see the tower of St Magnus the Martyr, a church, which for me, has almost legendary status; would it be open this time? So, I walk down the hill, cross over Lower hames Street, and there is the entrance, I look insode and see the doors are open and so, I can go in.

St Magnus the Martyr, Lower Thames Street, City of London

St Magnus stands on what was the approach to the Old London Bridge, yes the one with all the houses and shops on it, which was demolished in 1825, so the roan road across the river used to pass right by the door to the church, and inside a scale model of the church sits in a glass cabinet. It is the most wonderous thing, and such a shame that the bridge did not survive today, because it would have been incredible to have an 800 year old bridge in the city. But the bridge featured very small spans, and restricted traffic upstream of it, so it had to go. Halfway across it, a chapel dedicated to St Thomas was built, it must have been a fine sight.

St Magnus the Martyr, Lower Thames Street, City of London

Anyway, I have the church to myself for a while, so I grab some shots of the interior, before focus on the memorials and windows. It really is a wonderful church, apparently quite 'high', as it has many icons and models of the Madonna and child, as well as a figure of St Magnus. A party of walkers and their guide comes in, so I get my last shots, gather up my stuff and walk back up the hill to the tube station to make the short trip along the Embankment to Mansion House, where I think a short walk will take me to the top of Fleet Street.

In the end it works out even better, as another church I wanted to visit was St Martin in Ludgate, I look at the map at Mansion House station and see if I pass by St Paul's, St Martin's will be in front of me. And that is what happened, I walk past St Paul's, the stationary traffic passing by it, caused by some road works, me going quicker than the traffic. As it usual in London.

Three Generations

St Martin was open, and once again I had the church to myself, so I go in, take off my coat, and get to work getting pictures. St Martin's is a wonderful church, square and supported by classical beams. I love the open and airy feeling it brings to the church.

St Martin within Ludgate, City of London

I walk on heading towards Fleet Street starts, and walk down past St Bride's and on the other side sits St Dunstan in the West, about the most westerly of the city churches. It is octagonal inside, and is used by the Romanian Orthodox church, which gives it a magical air, but due to the overcast day, it is dark once again inside, I get better pictures, but another visit is required.

I had planned to meet up with fellow church and orchid enthusiast, Henry, but he called me earlier to say he couldn't make it due to work. The night before I saw that my old Sgt from the RAF was in town, I gave him the address of a pub I liked and I said I would meet him at one if he was free. The George sits on The Strand, and is timber-framed, has lots of room and the food and beer is good. It is also opposite the Royal Courts of Justice, so there are few pubs with fine views. Indeed, behind, the ancient area of the Inns of the Court are behind, so the legal profession is all around.

I take a seat, order a bowl of pumpkin soup and a pint of Guinness and wait to see if Dave will arrive. 40 minutes pass, and no Dave, so as I leave I update Facebook to say I was leaving. Apparently we must have passed each other on The Strand, but I check Facebook again after I had passed through the Inns of the Court, so say I will go back to meet, and once I get back inside the pub there is a pint of ale waiting and there is Dave.

We catch up, swapping news on us and friends, an hour quickly passes, then he realises he has a plane to catch in 90 minutes,, he has to rush off, and I am alone again. Once last thing to do is to return to Baker Street to take some more shots, this time with my 'proper' camera.

Baker Street (revisited) So I walk through the Inns of the Courts once again to Temple Station, take a circle line train back round past Kings Cross to Baker Street. I get out, take a whole batch of shots, and climb on a train heading back towards Kings Cross where I could walk to St Pancras for my train home.

I get my shots of Baker Street, it is crowded by is unlike almost any other station in that it feels like a surface station. Anyway, no time to wait, as i am in a hurry to get a seat on the train back home. So, back three stops to Kings Cross/St Pancras, up to the station, through the stunning station to the Southeastern platforms. I have enough time to grab a coffee froma stall that has been set up there before we are allowed onto the train ready for the trip home.

The train fills up, I close my eyes, and dead on time, we glide out into the London dusk, disappearing into the tunnel beneath London. By the time we emerge at Dagenham, it is almost dark, with only the red tail lights of the jam on the A13 showing.

I arrive back at Martin Mill at six, Jools is waiting, its been a long day and I have had several beers, so Jools goes out to get fish and chips whilst I attempt to butter some bread. Yay beer!

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Wednesday 21st January 2015


Back to work?

So Soon?

But then I did not get back from Hamburg until Saturday lunchtime, and I got thinking that maybe I might claw back some time. More of that tomorrow.....

Jools had the car, so I stayed at home, fired up the laptop at eight and spent three hours firing off mails, updating documents, and feeling like I'm really on top of things. I have meetings, all is good, very good in fact. So I have lunch.

Monday afternoon walk

More meetings after lunch.

More work.

Monday afternoon walk

And then I have to make my way to the doctor's to collect some drugs. The surgery opens at half three, so I set off at three, thinking I should make the most of the time and go for a bit of a stomp. Only there has been some rain. Quite a bit of rain, and the ground is muddy like I have never seen it. Getting along the path at the end of the street was fine, but then after passing by the pig's copse, I turned down the lane to the dip, and it was ankle deep. I slithered down, and of course at the bottom it was even worse, with mud and water spilling over onto the 'dry' path that runs round the bushes.

Monday afternoon walk

I stagger up the hill the other side, puffing and blowing bubbles, I really am out of practice. Still, spring is coming. I decide to skip the walk over the fields, and instead walk back into the village along the cycle path, then up by the pond, past the school to the surgery. It is getting dark as I was into the village, but much easier going now I am on firmer ground.

Monday afternoon walk

I collect the drugs then turn for home, back past the pond, The Red Lion, down Station Road to home.

Back in time to feed the cats, and prepare dinner, which is our old favourite, chorizo hash again, but it has vegetables in it, not just spicy sausage and potatoes. It is just ready as Jools walk in, a stressful journey for her, as all the roads are very busy with the backlogs from the trouble the Tunnel has been suffering over the weekend: a fire, water damage and then electrical supply problems.

We settle down at nine for the new series of Winterwatch; perfect, whilst outside the fox comes to feed, hardly casting us a glance.


One thing I forgot to say was how cold it has been. Although, to be fair, its nothing like the minus 14 it is in the north of Scotland, its been cold enough. And so, for the first time in nearly two years, we have had snow flurries. Nothing to worry about, but snow nonetheless. I mention this, as Tuesday morning, as I was going into the office in Ramsgate, Jools had to take either the bus or train to work. And since the re-organisation of trains by Southeastern, the only train that will get her to work in time leaves Martin Mill just after 6, way too early. So, the other option is the bus, so I take her into Dover.

As I drive back out of the town, up the hill to Whitfield, snow begins to fall more steadily. I think little of it, I go into Tesco, get a few essentials, and when I come out of the shop, something close to a blizzard is falling, and settling even on roads that have been gritted. I drive home, aware of how slippery it is, but make it back with no drama, driving at 30 along the winding road past Wallets Court. At eight, the most amazing sunrise happened, as the clear area of sky allowed the rays of the rising sun shine through the snow driving in from the west. Needless to say, I took a shot. Or two.

Sunrise though a blizzard

Not only do I have the car to drive to the office, I also have an appointment with a physio. You see on my trip to Germany at the end of last year, not only did I hurt my back on that trip, I did something to my arm as well. Right arm too. As my back was causing me so much gip, I concentrated on that, but after I fixed my back, it became clear that my arm was not getting better. I got poor night's sleep, could not lift heavy objects, or even things like the kettle had to be lifted using my left hand.

To cut a long story short, I had tennis elbow. After a brief spell last week when it was getting better, I did it again on my trip to Germany last week, and so there was no other choice than to get professional help. There is a clinic between here and Martin Mill, so at eight I drove down the hill, and the physio then pummelled my fore-arm for an hour. Oh my word, it hurt, but sometimes that is what is required. So, lets hope that fixes it.

After than, I drove to the office, across fields that had a dusting of snow still. It was half ten before I reached the office, and another quarter hour before I was able to sit down to work after catching up with friends.

I battled with the evil that is the Citrix gateway, trying to clear my travel expenses, but Citrix won, meaning it would be at least three days before I could clear them. Oh well. And just as I reaslised that was the case, the techs came in from work, meaning I lost my desk, so I had little choice other than to pack my stuff up and head for home.

Once again the fields were white from snow and frost, but the roads were clear enough, so the drive was undramatic. At six I went to collect Jools from the bus station, and so ended another working day. By the time we sat down to Scotch Eggs for dinner, it was seven, and the evening seemed already mostly spent. Where does the time go?

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Tuesday 20th January


Sunday was one of those days when it wasn't quite cold enough for snow, not quite wet enough to make the rain interesting, not windy enough to make it worthwhile to go down to the beach, or any sun. It was a day for watching MOTD, eating bacon butties, and cooking bread. Chilli seeded bread. Lovely.

After lunch, the BBC had promised the rain would stop, it almost had so we went into Deal for a walk along the promenade, a chance to get some fresh air into our lungs and for me to take some photos. Its what I do.

Sunday afternoon walk along The Strand in Deal and Walmer

We parked up by the pier, wrapped up warm, and wandered along the prom, past the pier, the beach, the fishing boats, the castle, more beach, more fishing boats, until we came to the lifeboat station, which meant we were now in Walmer. So, where does Deal end and Walmer starts? A hard one; the castle is clearly Deal, but in the half mile towards the lifeboat station there must be where the boundary is.

Sunday afternoon walk along The Strand in Deal and Walmer

Having reached our target on the lifeboat station, we turned round into the wind and light drizzle, and made our way back towards the car. We were getting cold down to our bones, but it had been worth getting out, stretching our legs. I now, however, fancied a pint. Of beer. So, I had an idea, go to Finglesham where there should be a fine pub.

Sunday afternoon walk along The Strand in Deal and Walmer

The area behind Deal and Walmer is home to many small villages and hamlets, and there is a network of small lanes criss-crossing the downs, and finding on lane that took us to where I thought Finglesham was harder than I thought. We consulted the map, put ourselves right and headed more towards Sandwich. And there were the signs, and there was the pub: open, lights shining golden in the fading light. Inside I have a pint of ruby bitter and Jools has half a cider. The Crown is a fine place, the food smells excellent. We will return with empty stomachs after pay day.

Sunday afternoon walk along The Strand in Deal and Walmer

Back home, it is now dark, feeding time for the cats, and time for a snooze on the sofa whilst another game plays out on the radio.

The day winds down, we put on a radio show, have hand-made sausage rolls for dinner. And it is time for bed. Where did the weekend go? Well I lost 33% of it travelling.

Monday, 19 January 2015

Monday 19th January 2015


As we drove back along the M25, we struggled to see whilst driving into the rising sun. Or at least Jools did, I just closed my eyes, but the early start for her meant that she was feeling sleepy, so we decided to stop off at Maidstone services for a coffee and change drivers. Or me take over possession of the keys. We go to Costa and see they have giant Jaffa Cakes for sale. Hmm, we were not really hungry, but giant Jaffa Cakes, made with Belgian chocolate and looking so nice. We broke and ordered two with our huge coffees and so found an empty seat where we could enjoy the cake and coffee whilst some gentle people watching was carried out.

When we came out of the services, there was a young French couple trying to hitch to Ashford and then on to Hamstreet out on the Marsh. I said we could not do it, but had second thoughts as we had all day, and a drive over the marshes would be pleasant. So we called them over, cleared the back seat and consulted the Kent A-Z. Turns out they were actors, travelling down from London to put on a show at the Primary School. So, as we drove, we swapped stories, and they seemed interested in wind turbines. How polite.

So down the motorway to Ashford, then off across the marshes towards Brenzett, turning off to Hamstreet, and when we arrived at the school, a teacher was already striding over to welcome the actors. Horah, good deed for the day done.

We drove home back along the road that winds its way through picturesque villages with wonderful churches: Ruckinge, Bilsington, Bonnington and onto Lympne. Then it was a quick blast up the motorway to Folkestone, up Shakespeare Cliff and down into Dover, along Townwall Street, up Jubilee Way and home. Phew. I had been up since two forty five, UK time, now it was just after midday, and I was shattered. I still had some mails to send, update the inspection plan. And that was it.

Jools left me to the radio and the sofa as she went out to meet a friend for lunch, I made do with cheese and crackers and a cup of coffee. I had the football on the radio, but the sofa soon called. So I answered it, and snoozed away. Jools had had an almost long day as me, so when she returned home, she took to bed for a snooze too, whilst I tried to keep track of Norwich on the radio. We were 3-0 up at half time, and cruising, but a lack on concentration let Cardiff back in it, and we hung on to win 3-2, but best the new manager sees the best and worst to find out what the real situation is.

Needless to say, once it got dark, our eyes got heavier and heavier, and it was no surprise when we gave in to the call of the bed at half eight, and so the long day was over.

Nan is still in the old home, and will not be moved. She was assessed last week, and the medical opinion is she is too frail to be moved, even if they thought that it might help. The council did have some ideas how to improve things, cutting down on her meds for one, and that is now having effect as she is sleeping better. The are trying to find out what has been causing her hallucinations. She has been more lucid, and even in fairly good spirits as the week went on.

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Sunday 18th January 2015


I had set the alarm for quarter past four, which, thanks to the time difference, was three fifteen in UK, where I would be if all went well by lunchtime.

If not sooner.

However, after my failure to set the alarm the night before and only waking up by luck in time for work, I slept fitfully, walking up at quarter TO four, and laid in bed listening to the drunks outside making their way either home or to the next 24 hour bar. When the alarm went off, I switched the light on, clothes and paperwork were all over the place.

I get up, have a shower, pack, and by quarter to I am ready to leave. Once last look around the room reveals no items left behind, so I walk to the lift, go down, hand the key into reception and walk to the car. A heavy dew had fallen, but at least not frozen. I switched the sat nav on, 44 minutes it said. Lets go!

A quick tour of the city, doubly so when the main bridge over the river was found to be closed, but taking the next turning got me back on track, then via a short detour from the main road onto the autobahn, and zoom. And at least it was dry, which was just as well as most of the road markings had been erased, making it very difficult when overtaking. But 32 miles later, I turn off, the road sign agreed that was where the airport turning was. But after that, I saw no more signs of the airport for quite some while.

Maybe it was because we have never updated the sat nav, or maybe it got bored, but it took me through industrial areas, over half built level crossings, down narrow residential streets, and past brutalist shopping centres. I was talking to the sat nav all through this: are you sure, this don't look right, and so on. When we make a turn onto a four lane road, and there was the familiar aircraft sign, and only three miles to go. So with 90 minutes to spare, I arrive at the car hire drop of point: mietwagon garage, and drop the keys off in the night safe, and a quick walk to the terminal, I find the desk, there are a dozen desks manned, so I drop off my case, am through security and have over half an hour to kill.

I have been up two hours and not yet had a coffee. ! So, I find a place and let the company treat me with a cheese sandwich, and a huge cup of coffee. Feeling better, I see I have 45 minutes to go before take off, so I had better walk to the gate.

Once again the pane is less than half full, so once aboard, I take a seat in another empty row, which I argue with the steward not to use my allocated seat. He lets me stay. Anyway, I close my eyes as the safety brief is carried out, the engines start and we taxi off into the darkness, it still being dark at half seven.

I snooze as we take off and climb over Hamburg, the lights of which showing clear down below.

I open my eyes as we are descending over the North Sea. Stretching away to the right I see the Suffolk coast from Felixstowe below all the way up to the bright lighs and beyond into Norfolk where the familiar shape of Yarmouth could be made out, even in the gloom I could also make the lights of Norwich. But we turn south-west, and the view passes.

Sheppy Sunrise

It is dawn now, or at least getting part-light, as we fly over Chelmsford, and further down to where the orange lights of the M25 cut through the subdued tones of the Essex countryside. I get my camera out of may bag, hoping that it might be light enough to capture the scenes passing through my window. We circle over north east London, and the whole vista of the city, along the Thames is laid out. I sanp away, hoping against hope they will come out.

Final Approach

Finally, we come out of another turn, swooping down and along the river, over the Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace, down, down until the lights of the airport show, and we are down, back in Blighty. And we are half an hour early. But, we then have to taxi round the airport for 20 minutes, finally finding our gate. And we are home. Or nearly.

Heathrow is a huge airport, always has been, or at least it is since I have been using it, and despite the rebuilding, we walk miles and miles, using travelators, escalators, endless corridors until we arrive at immigration. At least with the electronic passports, there is no waiting now, I scan my passport, and I am through, my suitcase is going round the carousel, I collect that, walk through customs, and waiting on the other side was Jools. She had come to meet me, so we can spend more time together.

We walk to the car, drive out of the garage, and the barrier lets us out without paying. We are so lucky. As we drive out onto the motorway, the sun rises, which means we are driving into the sun, making it difficult for Jools is driving.

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Saturday 17th January 2015

For the first time in ages, I did not write whilst on my travels, so now that I am back home, I will have to remember all the stuff I did, which was mainly travel, work, sleep. But there was a little time free for photography and beer and food.


It is hard to know what to do with the three hours I had before it was time to leave the house. But, after packing, having a shower, and all the other stuff needed to be done, nine o'clock came round, I called a taxi company to take me to Dover Priory, only for him to arrive half an hour early, so I could have almost caught the earlier train, not that I would have got to Hamburg any earlier of course.

I take a seat on the station, switch on the work phone and check mails. Not as bad as it could have been, but I bounce a few mails back, and touch base with my manager, and all is well. The train arrives, all full at the front, but loads of seats at the back. I lean back, look out of the window as we travel along the coast to Folkestone and beyond, the sea on the left. Would be nice to stay home for more than a couple of days.....

Dover Priory

As I was flying out of Heathrow, I get a different trip today, travelling to the end of the line at St Pancras, then having the choice of either a 15 quid taxi ride to Paddington, or take the Tube. I thought, as I had so much time, I would take the tube. In the end it was just half a dozen stops, so no worries, even with my two cases. We pass through Great Portland Street, and I realise its Baker Street next, and a place I had been wanting to snap for ages.

Winding my way down Baker Street. Station.

So, with three hours before take off, I spare 5 minutes, get off to take some shots, but as I have only a compact with me, the shots are not so good, but good enough for me to realise how good they could be with the DSLRs... I get on the next train, two more stops to Paddington, then instead of a mad dash across the station, I amble over, taking shots from the footbridge of the trains below. I was hungry, what to have for lunch? My stomach said it wanted a Cornish Pasty, well, thing is most stations have at least one pasty stall now. Indeed, I spy one at the back of the station, and four quid buys me a large beef one, big enough for my appetite. I take me, my cases and the pasty to the train to Heathrow, settle down in a window seat and munch, munch away. Yum.


Off we speed, on what has to be the most expensive train ride on BR, £34 for a return ticket, there are cheaper options which take longer, much longer. Not treating people well is it?

At Heathrow, I am prepared for the worst, travelling from Terminal 2, which from memory was a horrible place, but to my spurprise it seems to have been rebuilt, is all glass and steel, and for the traveller is a delight: checking in takes a couple of minutes, as does security, and then I have two hours to kill before the flight.

I find a pub, so buy a pint and settle down to check on Flickr as my account climbs towards the ten million views. I get to see the moment, take a screen shot and post it back to Flickr before my flight is called. I saunter down to find chaos, as the computer system had failed, so no seats were allocated, and the rest of the passengers were trying to get the seats they wanted. Only to find out the computer had already allocated us our seats, so we had to take what we were given.

ten million

And yet, the flight was only half full, so once all passengers were on board, I leave my seat to an empty row, take a window seat and close my eyes as preparations were made for take off. I normally fly on a turboprop, which means sitting so close to the propellers, and the noise is quite loud, so to me on a modern jet, even as we accelerate down the runway, there is little noise, only the shaking of the wings gives away the thrust being used.

Flight time is just an hour, I am given a sandwich, a coffee, which is all very nice. I am flying with German Wings, I am guessing some kind of low cost airline, but the plane is fairly new, the staff friendly. What more can you want?

It is dark and raining when we arrive in Hamburg, and it being just before six means that I will have to drive to Lubeck in the rush hour. In the rain. Won't be pleasant.

As you would expect, the arrival is efficient, through immigration, baggage reclaim and customs in a few minutes. My car reservation is good, so I am out to the garage in a few more minutes. The sat nav picks up a signal once I am on the road, so off we go. Now, I don't know much about the road network in Hamburg, but I have to drive 8 miles through the outskirts of the city, through thick, but patient traffic. I pass through shopping areas, bus stations, U Bahn stations before, suddenly, the traffic clears and I have arrived at the autobahn.

If driving through the city in heavy rain and traffic was bad, the autobahn is ten times worse, as high powered BMWs and Mercs and Audis hammer by: I take my time, concentrating hard as I make my way towards the hotel. As before, the sat nav thinks the best way to the hotel is through narrow residential streets, which always causes me to doubt if I have entered the correct address. But suddenly, I recognise the area, and the Holiday Inn was right around the corner, it had empty parking spaces, so park up, get my luggage out to check in.

I get a warm welcome, I even remember some of the staff. So, I go to my room, freshen up then go to the restaurant for dinner and a beer: deer goulash, which might be better described as venison, as the idea of Bambi being butchered for spicy stew is not nice, even if it is the truth....


And so to work.

Oh deep joy.

At least I know the way, and what is required, just hope that the unknown factor, the customer is happy.

So, after breakfast I drive the 8 miles to the factory, I even have the change for the toll in the tunnel under the river. I am met at the door to the factory, so lets get it done.

I had expected the day to last until well into the evening, but it goes so well we wrap up just after lunch, and so I have two hours of daylight to use! A quick dash back to the hotel to dump my work gear and pick up my camera, and off I go in the glory of my safety workwear, looking for all the world like Mr Health and Safety as I wander off towards the old town.

At least the hotel is near one of the main gates into the old town, across the river and onto the main square. Obviously, it is less crowded than it was in July, but still a lovely place, jammed full of churches and old buildings. Last time I visited two of the larger churches, and I thought I saw another one on the other side of the island. So, it was that church I was making for.

That and the marzipan salon!

A couple of friends on Flickr said I had to try the marzipan cake, and as I found the place the last time I was there, even as it closed for the day, the hardest decision was to whether have the cake before or after I find the church.

In the end I go to find the church first, and it is just 5 minutes beyond the marzipan salon. St Petri is under restoration, or so it seems, or maybe its now just a venue for arts, but the body of the church was closed, all was red floor tiles and whitewashed walls. However, you could get to the tower, and after paying €3, I find there is a lift to the top. I have the place to myself, and all around the city is bathed in late afternoon sunshine, giving everything a warm glow. I take shots, lots of shots. Until the batteries fail.

Lübeck skyline

So, down I go, back to the streets, to find a shop selling batteries. And there was a slice of cake with my name on it.

Marzipan Torte und kaffe

Café Niederegger is an institution, making marzipan, and becoming a national and international name. Being winter, it is almost empty, so I ask what is the best thing to have: a slice of cake is presented to me, so I have a coffee too, and take that along with me in my grubby workwear to a table in the corner of the plush room to feast on sugar.

Only, it wasn't that sugary, which was good for my not very sweet tooth, the cake is filled with fresh whipped cream, and is very nice. And for five euros, not bad value either.

Darkness was now falling, so as I had a stupid early start in the morning, I walk back to the hotel so to have an early dinner and relax. I find a record shop on the way back, and end up with two more twelve inches of vinyl, better leave now before I spend more money I think.

I have burger and fries for dinner, along with more dark beer. But the burger is hand-made, and is great.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Thursday 15th January 2015


Another day during which the wind blew, so another day working from home for me, and a day where the cats knew where I was, so their every whim could be meowed for.

Jools left the house and into the maelstrom at just gone seven, leaving just me, the cats and the works computer alone for the day. I switched the computer on, looked at my mails, and already the day was shit and only going to get worse. A lot worse. I won't go into details, but a mail received at ten past one, meant the whole day would now be given over the clearing the crap up. I fired off mails, more mails, and yet more mails. Then waited. Got answers, sent replies, had meetings. And at half four, I got clarification and the panic was over, but so was the day.

Outside, the rain had cleared, the sun had come out, I had hoped to get out to catch some sun at the end of the day, work had other ideas, and then just before sunset, clouds swept over covering the sun, meaning those hoped-for sunset shots would have to wait another day.

The cats were watching my every move, and I broke at half four, and fed them, although by this time the regular handfulls of crunchies meant that Mr Handsome, Mulder, was out strutting his stuff somewhere. The ladies ate, as outside the sun set and darkness fell.

sunny afternoon

As soon as Jools came home, she had to field a call with social services regarding Nan. It is a mess, with it looking like her current home playing tug-o-war with her. We shall see. Jools had cooked a bread and butter pudding, which was fine, we ate that whilst watching Michael Caine in The Ipcress File. Caine was playing himself, and was very good at it. Cinetography was very 'modern' and jarring this far distant, but seeing London in the 60s, all grimy, still with steam-hauled trains and empty parking spaces was a real delight.

I round off the evening by watching 1p5wich on TV, playing Southampton in the Cup. They were awful, thankfully, and so I only had to watch 20 minutes, with every minute feeling like an hour the game was so poor. Still, got to laugh.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Wednesday 14th January 2015


A day in which as time went on, I lost more and more control.

And added to that, I picked up a bug which opened the gates at both ends, which resulted in me spending the afternoon groaning in bed, rather than slaving over the hot keyboard of my work computer. At least I had the cats to keep me company. Two of them settled down on the bed to keep an eye on me, and to make sure when I might feed them. At it turned out, they got fed at half four, just as the phone started going crazy.

Nan has never been happy at the care home, and what with the official investigations going on, and the local health authority carrying out their own checks on Nan, they have recommended that Nan is moved, only to find out there a place has opened up at another home. Tony visited it yesterday, and is much better than where Nan is now, so we reserved the place, only for Nan's current home to start throwing up all sorts of obstacles in the way, not least was 28 days written notice. Each 28 days costs three grand remember, and for that she is not being looked after and slumping further into depression.

So, work is now going on to try to smooth things out with her current place, whilst making sure she does no loose her place at the new home. Fingers crossed on all this, that Nan will go somewhere where she will be cared for, happy and get something like value for money.

THe evening was spent with Jools gong to visit Dad, and me listening to the radio, entertaining cat and drinking whisky. With my stomach the way it was, probably not the wisest course of action. Then the football went into extra time. And penalties. Late night then.......

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Tuesday 13th January 20145


A day of anniversaries. Well, a few.

I have now been on Flickr for eight years now, over 28,000 photos uploaded, and many, many friends made, and so much inspiration found from there, despite Yahoo trying to mess the site up over the past couple of years. And some 5 years ago I was escorted from the shop floor of the box factory, feeling like I was some kind of criminal, although having done nothing wrong. Even after all the stuff I have done in the subsequent period, doing all the stuff I have done, it still leaves a bad taste in my mouth, even if it was all for the best in the long run. And all that and everything and that.

Astoria-Megler Bridge

As the wind was going to blow, no point in going into the office at Ramsgate, so I settle down for a day working from home with the cats to keep me company, and so I can watch the rain run down the windows from my seat at the dining room table. The cats keep me entertained, and busy, with the rolling on the floor, playing, demanding food an attention. As is their way.

Outside the rain falls and the wind blows.

At four, I go upstairs for another session on the cross trainer, and puff my way though a half hour puffathon. Once I cool down, I peel the potatoes and boil the cubes ready for chorizo hash for dinner, and so wait for Jools to return from work.

The day peters put with us listening to the radio, and then watching a program about pension advice, as the government is de-regulating the industry: why could possibly go wrong with that, giving people access to their life savings pension pot to spend how they see fit?

Monday, 12 January 2015

Monday 12th January 2015


The cats woke us up at seven as the heating switched on. It has taken some years, but they are learning to lay in, at least this time of the year when it is dark in the morning until at least eight.

Jools got up, made coffee, and soon the smell of fresh coffee was making its way up the stairs. Better get up then. We had a coffee, some fruit, some more coffee. I watched MOTD, then on the stroke of half nine we got our stuff together and made to go out. What with the ongoing projects to photograph orchids, trains, churches, pubs and the such, it means that we have not visited some places for a while. And one of those places is Broadstairs. Its a fine town, set round a semi-circular sandy bar, liked with bars and restaurants. It also is Dickens Central, in that there is hardly a house he did not stay in at one time or another. There are bars, pubs, shops all with Dickens-related names. And then there is Bleak House, where the man himself lived.

Stone Bay, Broadstairs, Kent

Getting to Broadstairs, avoiding the mall at Westwood Cross means driving through Ramsgate, then along the coast road, before turning down the narrow shopping area and finding a place to park. It was a glorious day, almost unbroken sunshine, stretching long shadows over the land. So, making the most of the splendid day we drive through Deal, onto Sandwich then onto Ramsgate. There was not much other traffic about, so travel was pleasant, until we got to the roundabout at the Lord of the Manor, but then it alsways is fun there with the grand prix starts when the lights go green.

Stone Bay, Broadstairs, Kent

In the end we park in a car park in the centre of town, much better than finding a space on the side of the road, and a couple of pounds for a couple of hours, not bad value.

Wall of death

We walk along to Bleak House, walking to the fence along the cliff, we look down onto Stone Bay, and see it is low tide, and looks chuffing glorious. There is a slope leading down the cliff, so we walk down there, and onto the wide sandy beach, which is scattered by chalk. Many people are about, just walking with their family or pet dogs. It is wonderful to be out, warm enough out of the light breeze, and feeling almost springlike, with just the long shadows giving truth to that lie.

Viking Bay, Broadstairs, Kent

I am taken with the patterned sea wall, all diamond shapes, and standing out well with the deep shadows. As we near the harbour, we can smell bacon cooking. A smell to make anyone hungry, and as we had just had fruit for breakfast, we followed our noses to a small cafe where there was no one sitting at any of the three tables. We go in and order a small breakfast each, sit down sipping on our cuppas whilst someone else did the cooking. Lovely jubbly.

Viking Bay, Broadstairs, Kent

Once we had eaten, we went back out to explore Viking Bay, the main area of Broadstairs, the bay around which the town is spread. It is low tide, and the action of long shore drift means that the small harbour is now full of sand, and there is just room for four boats in the lea of the harbour wall.

Still, it is great to be out and about, walking round the half moon bay, then walking up the slope beyond the bandstand, walking back along the cliffs to the car. We agree that we were walked out, and we should go home, it would take at least half an hour, and in that time it would then be tea o'clock.

I settled down to look at my shots, Jools went to visit Nan, and so it was just me and the football on the radio. However, at three I decide it is high time I get back on the cross-trainer, and pump some lard. The i pod was still charged, so off I went, not really bothered about the football on the radio.

We had cold pizza for dinner. That and beer. Took all of two minutes to prepare, and was great, even better when it was fresh the evening before. Outside it was dark, the cats did not want to go out, as it was cold, and so the final hours of the weekend slipped though our fingers.

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Sunday 11th January 2015


And on the 6th day the wind did blow and the rain did fall. We laid in bed, listening to the show going on outside. The cats complained about not being able to go outside. Or at least two of them did: MUlder just mouthed a meow, as he had become silent over the course of the week. We shall keep an eye, or an ear, on him. Or its the vet you you on Monday m'lad.

Croissants for breakfast, two cups of coffee. And we are ready to face the world, full of wind and rain as it is, and maybe take some photos. We drive to St Martin's Battery, but already the wind is less ferocious, the waves near the Admiralty Pier certainly not as large as 2013's St Jude's storm. We get out the car, I take come shots, we get muddy, more rain comes, we go back to the car.

Dover in January

From there we drive to Capel, for another look down at The Warren. It is blowy up there still, and it is all we can do to stand up and not be thrown off the cliffs. I take more shots before we are driven back to the car and the hot air blower to warm our bones. We have little else planned, so we go to visit my friend, Gary, who is recovering from an illness over the holidays. It is good to catch up, exchange news.

Its so windyyyyyyyyy

Back home for lunch, then Jools goes out to visit her Dad and I listen to the football on the radio. I'd hate for you think I might do something different. It is hard to get fired up about going out all weekend when you've spent the week away. But I promise this will not be the case once the orchid season begins!

Capel le Ferne

Norwich were playing top of the table Bournemouth, and we have a new manager, Alex Neil, a 33 year old Scot, previously Hamilton's boss. A huge risk by City, but he has done well with no money north of the border. City fall a goal behind, then pull it back just before half time. In the 2nd we have Howson sent off, but score a screamer with ten minutes to go, and hang on for the win and three points. Maybe a turn of a corner, who knows. But we are just eight points off the top now, and full of hope: hope being the fan's biggest enemy.

We order pizza to be delivered, and big ones that mean we can have some cold tomorrow, if there is any left!

Outside, the skies clear, the stars come out, and I watch as a fox comes into the garden again and again, taking food away.

I am not Charlie, And neither are you.

In my posts for Thursday and Friday, I did not mention the events in Paris. They were shocking, the offices of a magazine attacked, tweleve killed, because of some satirical cartoons published a few years back. We all know the story now.

Soon after the full horror of the story came out, a hashtag started to trend on Twitter #Je suis Charlie. Charlie being the name of the magazine, Charlie Hebdo. THe meaning of which, I guess, was the express solidarity with the cartoonists killed. Only it didn't did it?

THe next day, the fearless lions of the British press also said Je suis Charlie a lot, but instead of reprinting the cartoons to be as fearless, they chose to print an image of one of the terrorists about to shoot a policeman. An execution in fact. The policeman happened to also be a muslim.

I have seen many people on Twitter and Facebook and Flickr also say that the are also Je suis Charlie: but very, very few have actually reprinted the cartoons. Which is what Charlie would have done, but there is really only one Charlie. Thing is, we live in a global age now, someone, somewhere will be offended by alsmost everything you print. Doesn't mean you have to change, doesn't mean we have to change. But we have.

In in changing, not wanting to cause offence, not wishing to provoke another attack, the terrorists won, even as they were killed in a shootout. Our freedoms will be eroded, in the name of freedom, oddly, our free speech will be restricted, we will change, and our values will be worth a little less.

I am not Charlie.

You are not Charlie.

And neither is our press.

Only Charlie is Charlie.

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Saturday 10th January 2015


Hoorah for a good nights sleep! I mean it does make all the difference. I lay in bed, listening to the world outside making it's way to work, and being as I'm in Denmark, and it's before nine, it is dark. As dark as night. Which it really is.

I pack, check out and have a bite for breakfast, but that is spoilt by the coffee machining being BROKEN! Oh noes! So, I skip the roll, and instead walk to the car park, load the car and make my way the 30Km to Varde for yet another day or inspecting. At least their coffee machine is working, so I have a huge cup, I am tempted to just drink it straight from the pot, but that might be considered bad manners....

Anyway, the day passes, and things begin to go slightly wrong, the first time this has happened. It livens things up and stops me dropping off.

At three the day is done, and so am I. My friends are not at the office in Esbjerg, they are taking place in a team building things, which I should have been taking part in; they did driving Landrovers and drinking beer from what I heard. Just as well I was working, but it does make it feel like I am not part of the team, but its not really true or course. I pour myself into the car and drive to Billund: once again I am staying at the Zleep and flying back to London in the morning.

Transporting tower sections

After checking in, dropping off my bags, I take the car back and drop the keys off at the rental office. And then go to the cafe to grab a coffee. It was sitting there that the phone rung, then two of my team members came by on their way home. By the time the call ended and my friends left, the coffee was cold. I ate the chocolate though. In the hotel room, I send off loads of mails whilst listening to the radio, and the evening passes. I walk back over the terminal for dinner: burger and a beer only, as usual. But its good enough for me, and the beer is enough to make me get very tired.

So I go to bed, as I have to be up at five fifteen in the morning.


The alarm goes off at five fifteen, just as I set it. I lay in bed, thinking about how long it will take me to walk to the terminal (5 minutes), check in (5 minutes), go through security (10 minutes): in doing so I realise that I am maybe an hour early, so I lay in bed looking at the street light coming in around the curtains.

At six, I hear the first of the jets warming up and making ready to taxi off. I had better get ready then. So, I have a shower, get dressed, pack and have breakfast, well a roll and a coffee, before walking in the driving rain to the terminal. I check in, go through security, and indeed I am in so much time I can answer the early mails from work.

Home Sweet Home

The plane has about ten passengers, so we spread out. The wind is making the plane shake, and I ten realise that it might be an interesting flight to say the least. As we are accelerating down the runway, the plane is already swerving from side to side, but we lift off, the lights of Legoland are left below as we climb into the low cloud. Rain hammers into the plane, sounding like tap dancers. I close my eyes as the plane leaps around like an unbroken colt.

Breakfast is delayed, as it is unsafe for anyone to be walking around as we pass through many pockets of turbulence. We just about clear the clouds, but there are more above, it isn't getting any lighter as we fly south. But, as we approach the Essex coast, I see white horses on the sea below, away in the distance I can make out the shape of Thanet again, and the curve of Pegwell Bay beyond. Nearly home.


We cruise over south Essex and north Kent, making tight turns until we get a slot before we can turn and drop down as we travel up the river. Lower and lower before we drop onto the runway, no drama at all. Safe and sound, How I love the ground.

The Crossing

There are no queues at immigration, which means there is a wait for a change for our bags. I fed calls as I make my way over to Stratford, once again missing the train to Dover by a few minutes, so I make the most of my time ordering an early breakfast with a gingerbread latte (with an extra shot). Lovely.


The train arrives on time, and it is almost empty, so I grab a seat, close my eyes as we move off and enter the long tunnel under east London. Out into the sunshine in Essex, across the marshes, under the Thames then into Kent, passing over the Medway, under the North Downs. Getting nearer home.

Stratford International

I get a taxi at the station, there is hardly any wind here at all. So, he drives like Tony, not indicating, undertaking, the usual taxi driver stuff. But I am home, safe, and confronted by the three cats all demanding. Meow.

Inbetween coffees and yet more lunch, I finish of the mails from work, and that is it: the weekend.