Saturday, 28 February 2015

Saturday 28th February 2015


Is it Friday already? With the traveling, sometimes I have no idea what day or time it is. But, being a Friday, I am home. Jools goes to work, leaving me with the computer and waiting for the plumber who said he will be round at a time described as 'Friday'.

I have breakfast, switch the computer on and get stuck into the mails. I am feeling down at the moment, a lack of appreciation by some people within the organisation, and I feel not so enthused, despite having down a good job. However, no time to think about things, as mails flow in. And back out.

Signs of spring

At twelve the plumber arrives, I suppose I should explain, that the one radiator we decided not to replace two years ago as it was the newest and in good condition, developed a leak two weeks ago, and has got worse. Now, with me working away, and Jools being out of the house from seven to six, it is almost impossible to get any repairs done in the house, as there is no one here to let them in. But, back home on Thursday on the possibility of the plumber coming round, I am here.

Obviously, he does not believe our measurements of the radiator, and measures it himself. He calls the supply shop: they had a radiator, pulls a figure out of his head for the cost of the work: like we have a choice. So I say yes, get it. Expecting him to arrange another day to come back to do the work, he says he will do it in the afternoon. So, an hour later, he comes back, the banging and knocking means work is impossible, so I switch the computer off, as the weekend arrives early.

There is the usual problems in isolating the radiator before it can be removed. There is the usual search for the two stopcocks that our house seems to have. That done and the pipes empty, we find that the supports have been plastered over years ago, which means that we have to chip the plaster away. And then the supports come off, holes are drilled, the new supports in place, the radiator connected, and the water flows back in and the warming begins. A quick tidy up, and the job is done, powered by a single cup of coffee.

Last of the winter sunshine

Let the weekend begin.

Time just to do some work in the garden; transplant two gooseberry bushes, weeding and then scattering compost over the pruned raspberry canes. I am helped by the three cats who are curious as to why I am outside. As the sky clouds over, I sit on the bench, sipping a glass of Danish Christmas ale that a friend gave me this week. The sun set, and at five, Jools came back from work. Now it really was the weekend.

At seven, we drive to Bridge for a meal at the Red Lion, which the taxi driver on Thursday recommended. We had reserved a table, though in truth just the four choices of mains, and the portions being quite small meant that I feel it was not good value for money, but what there was tasted very good. We had cheese and crackers for desert, and that was much better. Jools drove back, and despite being early, it seemed like bed time, so after a shower, we gave into our yawning, and headed up the wooden hill.

Friday, 27 February 2015

Friday 27th February 2015


My alarm goes off at a quarter to six, just 15 minutes before the first flight is due out of the airport. If the alarm hadn't have woken me, then the engines starting would have done. Anyway, I am awake, and going home soon. Or as soon as I have a shower, pack and go down to breakfast and walk the 400m to the terminal.

So, showered, dressed and packed, I walk down to the breakfast area, have a roll with chocolate spread, a cup of strong coffee. Other red-eyed people are about, not making eye contact. It is just a few minutes walk to the terminal, but bloody cold out in the early morning air. At least it is starting to get light already, the year is getting older and time marches on. There is a queue to check in bags, so once through there, into security and then into the departure hall. I won't call it a lounge, cos it is heaving with skiing types off to break their legs.

I have time to catch up on my mails, head upstairs for a poor cup of coffee: silly me, I should have asked for a nice one. I burn my finges carrying the paper cup back downstairs to where I could seat, as passengers from a delayed flight had filled the cafe up, feasting on free breakfast via their vouchers. Which is only right.

My flight is called, so I walk along through immigration to the gate, some more waiting, and time to leave. I am in my usual seat, 8A, so settle down with a view out of the window, waiting for engine start and seeing the flux coming out of the engines. That done, we taxi off, and leap into the clear blue skies, turning south and into the cloud which covered the rest of the flight to London. I accept the free breakfast, and more coffee. That feels better.

We descend from cruising height, below is just cloud. I glimpse something of the Essex coast through a gap in the cloud, but even that is soon lost. Engines scream, flaps are deployed, and we leave the cloud as we are over Burmarsh Prison, over the river and down. It is raining, but we are home. Or in London anyway.

No queue at immigration, so there is a short wait for my case, and up on the DLR station, I get off the escalator just to see a train leaving heading for Stratfod, still, just an 8 minute wait for the next one. Gives me a chance to people watch the city types heading to the City on Bank-bound trains. Once on my train, it is busy enough for there not to be a seat for me, but as I have been sitting for hours, I enjoy standing up for a while.

There is time for a coffee and a hot sausage roll at the cafe in Stratford International station.

I wait in the platform, wondering how on earth in the 21st century, a modern station, international station apparently, can be a concrete box in the ground, so ugly: what were they thinking of? Anyway, the train rolls in, still looking wonderfully modern, it will whisk me to Dover in under an hour. It is grey and drizzling, but I heading through the Essex marshes, under the Thames and into Kent. Alongside the motorway to Ashford, and then to the coast at Folkestone and at the feet of the cliffs to Dover.

I grab a taxi to take me home, through the lorries heading to the port, up Jubilee Way and into the mist that hugged the top of the cliffs. It was cold and damp in St Maggies, but I was home. I open the back door, expecting to be greeted by welcoming cats, but they carry on sleeping upstairs. I make pancakes for dinner, dusting them with sugar and sprinkling lemon juice once cooked, in the traditional British way.

Jools comes home at six, just as I had finished cooking chorizo hash, the house was filled with the small of cooking galic, onions, sausage and smoked paprika. Lovely. As we ate, a young badger feasted on peanuts outside, having arrived before it was totally dark, an unusual event. But then these are the very hungriest of times, as food in the wild is very scarce now.

We ended the evening by listening to the new Public Service Broadcasting album on vinyl, which arrived during the week. It is glorious.

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Thursday 26th February 2015


For the second week running, a full weekend, all the way from Friday at five to Monday morning at eight. That this feels luxurious shows how busy I have been playboying myself around Europe, doing my stuff. Anyway. A weekend. At home.

And waking up with the light of dawn, with the sun rise a few minutes away, the blackbirds chirping away reminding me that they are darn hungry and how about some seeds? The cats were also complaining about how hungry there were too ,and what with the football on TV in a half hour, I had better get up and do the feeding, make some coffee.

There was no clouds in the sky, really I should have been out, walking the earth, but instead I am sitting watching football on TV, sipping coffee. The BBC said that the day would get windy and wet, so if we were going to get out, we had better get our boots on sharpish.

Sunday morning walk

Although, just sitting here watching the world go by was also tempting.

In the end we got out of the house just gone ten, and already clouds were rolling in, and there was a breeze blowing too. After a week of unsettled weather, the ground underfoot was muddy, and so walking much beyond the pig’s copse was pretty much out of the question. Also out of the question as there was family to visit and the such. Due to my travel, I had not seen the inlaws for many weeks, and Nan not since Christmas.

Sunday morning walk

As it turned out, I ducked out of visiting Nan, and went to the house of whispers instead. Tony was in good form, so we chatted and he smoked. He switched the TV on to watch the snooker, he carried on smoking. With the ban on indoor smoking now 8 years old, my thought is how on earth did we ever put up with it? I was chased into the living room where the snooker was also on the TV there, as Jen does not like the smoking either.

It is some years since I watched any snooker, and its fair to say that after half an hour, I was done with that. So it was good when Jools came back to pick me up and take us home. Duty done for another few weeks anyway.

Back home via Tesco, the first time I have been there in like months. Shudder. Anyway, with the addition of some cupcakes that wasn’t on the list, we headed home for coffee and for me to listen to the football on the radio from the sofa.

We snacked on scotch eggs for dinner, and some mini pizza things. Oh and red wine. That worked. Outside the rain began to fall, getting heavier and heavier. The cats sat on windowsills looking mournfully at the rain coming down. I found the KLFs first album on You Tube, so the evening passed with Bill Drummond’s rapping and stolen beats. Not a bad evening. But once again, the weekend had slipped by.

Tomorrow, off to Denmark.


I am writing this at the Zleep Hotel in Billund on Thursday, and Monday seems like a lifetime ago. I can barely remember what the weather was like, where I got on the train. But, it is all coming back to me.

Jools thought she would let me sleep on after the alarm went off, or when she got up, with the result, I woke up at quarter past six, less than half an hour before we had to be out of the house. Cursing, I got dressed, went down stairs, had coffee went to clean my teeth. Luckily I had packed the night before, so all was ready to dash out the door. I just hoped I had everything, as I never take my passport out of my bag, I should at least travel and buy whatever I might have forgotten.

Jools dropped me off at Martin Mill, with just enough time to get my ticket, get out on the platform in time for the train. I bag a seat at a table, I decided being surrounded by bankers and the such reading the FT would have to do, it was the only seat from which I could keep an eye on my case in the luggage rack anyway.

Along to Guston, down through the tunnel ,and then winding our way through Charlton to Buckland Junction and onto Dover where dozens of people were waiting. The same at Folkestone Central, and by the time we left Folkestone West it was pretty much standing room only. As I have said so many times before, this is now so routine, I hardly think of it as anything abnormal, commuting to Denmark, but then since the trains changed, it meant I had to either catch a much earlier train or a slightly later one if I wanted to leave from Martin Mill. In my heart I knew there was time, but with each red signal or slow part of the journey, I imagined being late for the flight.

After a very slow trip through the tunnel under east London, I got off, waited for the crush to die down on the concourse above. It is just a 15 minute trip to the airport, and once there I was told due to a snow storm in Denmark, the plane inbound was delayed by two hours, please wait in the lounge. So, instead of having just an hour to wait before departure, I had nearly three. So, breakfast it was then.

Sitting at a table were three of the newer monkeys from Thanet. So, I sat down and chatted, they were off for some training. What is it you do, they asked. I often ask myself much the same I answered, the standard answer. But they seem decent blokes, all away from their families for ten days of travelling, hotel living and boozing.

The flight was called at half ten, but we did not move off until quarter past eleven, and with a strong tail wind the flight should take just under an hour and a half. I had the cold meal, for a change. I knew there would be no food by the time I got into the office. Denmark was warming up, only the highest ground, I say highest, but you know, still was white with snow, but that was melting fast too.

I got the hire car, set off on the familiar road to Esbjerg, no snow there, being near the sea, and hardly no people either. I did manage to get my computer fixed, so at least I could get some project work done now.

At four, I went to the hotel to check in, go to my room, unpack and switch the computer on to write some mails. At seven I went out to the Dronning Louise for dinner, but they have had a revamp and are doing blander beers and ales now. But the food is OK, and there is room and warm, so I have lamb burger and two local ales, before I realise I am tired, so I walk back along the deserted main street back to the hotel, above the crescent moon shone brightly, and it was bitterly cold.


Up at six as I have a 90 minute drive to Lem for the day’s work. I have a shower, dress, go down for breakfast. It is just getting light, and was at least not raining, a good morning for a drive. I usually like to listen to the radio or think about what to do next weekend, but these days my head is full of work-related problems: does this mean I am growing up? I hope not.

Work goes well, the day passes quickly, and at half four, all is done and as the sun sinks in the east, I drive back along side the fjord and down to Esbjeg, arriving back at dusk. What is Denmark like? Like a slightly hillier Norfolk I once said: a mix of farmland, bogs, forests and small towns. Its not unpretty for sure. Does that even make sense? The fjord is really a salty lagood, behind the dunes on the west coast.

I head back to Dronning Louise for dinner, past the familiar shops with their oddly Scandic fashions, manequins on odd poses, especially the one in the lingerie shop which always makes me think it’s the polishing the floor pose, just what you would do in pants and bra. Or not. My friend can’t meet up, so I have a couple of beers, a plate of nachos, and I think rather than go to the sports bar, I will watch the Citeh v Barca game from my bed. Which means I can keep an eye on the City game, who come from behind to win at Ewood Park, 5 in a row now. I go to bed happy.


Last full day in Denmark, and a day in the office, catching up on all those oh so dull but oh so Important tasks that the project requires. To celebrate I go back to sleep and wake again at seven fifteen. I pack, go down, pay my bill, have breakfast and am in the office by eight twenty, raring to go.

Bit by bit I go through my list of tasks, and by early afternoon I just had the test plan to update, but feeling enthused I even managed that, finishing at four. Congratulating myself, I thought I would take myself to Billund, hand the car in, check in the hotel room and treat myself to burger and a beer at the terminal.

Which is what I did. Hmmmm, dirty food, whilst ready Mojo, a music magazine, reading about music.

And now, here I am. In my room, more mails written, 12 hours before my flight home. If there is no snow. Of course

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Sunday 22nd February 2015


And here I am back at home, laying in bed, blinking in the half light as another dawn creeps over East Kent and round the edges of the bedroom curtains. Why can't it be Saturday? Instead it is Friday, and I have the day to get through, including another two hour tele-conference, and then there is the mails and lurking in the background, the spectre of the unassigned travel expenses.

I had a coffee, another coffee. Breakfast. And then switched the computer on the be greeted with the early morning avalanche of e mails. Those dealt with, I have 15 minutes before the meeting, an early lunch, another coffee. And settle down at the screen once again to listen to the meeting.

I don't know why, but come two in the afternoon, I have had enough, most of my colleagues have left the office, whatever else I need to do can wait to Monday. So I switch off too, go to the sofa and listen to more Radcliffe and Maconie whilst the cats bother me for an early dinner. I ignore them and close my eyes. Outside the sun sinks, and the day fades. But it means the weekend is to begin, which is clearly a good thing. In all, it has been a great week, with plaudits coming at me from all directions, at times I felt I was even enjoying the thrill of the battle and the challenges being thrown. Whatever next?

Jools came home at 5, and I had cooked pasta for dinner. I opened a bottle of wine to wash the pasta down with, and send me to sleep of course. The evening passes, we listen to the radio, listen to some music, but then agree that an early night is called for, as we were on our travels the next morning.


Aah, the weekend. It seems so long since we last met. However, thing about being busy is that the time seems to fly. A quick look at the calendar reveals it will be March in a week and the clocks go forward in 5 weeks. In truth the winter does not seem to have been that bad, again, although I have seen snow and bitter cold, not just here.

A few days back, a friend of mine posted shots of a fine Victorian church, and it seemed right when we thought about heading to London, that we should also pay it a visit. So, all there was to do was decide what else, if anything, we would like to do, and then make sure we were out of the house in time to catch a train. In the end it was the quarter to nince train from Martin Mill, trains to London via the high speed line now stop at the bottom of the hill, which means free parking, and a two minute drive there and back. Even still, we managed to leave the house with less than 10 minutes before departure time, would we make it?

Yes, and with more than 5 minutes to spare.

Martin Mill

We get a seat with a table on the left hand side of the train, perfect for views over Dover as the train left Guston tunnel, and for the usual sights on the way into London that I like to see and mark our progress towards the city. The train is already busy, and pretty much full after we leave Folkestone, and standing room only once we leave Ashford. And these were supposed to be white elephants, now they are so well used.


Instead of getting off at Stratford when I fly out of LCY, we stay on to St Pancras. We wait until the crowds thin out, going through the barriers. Our plan was to go down the wonderful passageway to what is advertised at St Pancras Square, we go down to the tunnel leading to it, only to find the doors leading to it locked fast. We look in, take photos through the glass panels, and so decide to head for the church right away instead.


We walk to the Victoria Line, board a busy train to Oxford Circus, which is very busy indeed. We make our way up to street level, walk up Great Portland Street only to leave the crowds behind, the streets were ours, or ours and a few others taking the less busy paths avoiding the shopping in Oxford Street and Regent Street. We see the spire from the end of Margaret Street'c corner, we make our way along, me hoping that it would be open. I now take the cautious approach and write beforehand to make sure. The first door I see is locked, but there is another at the other corner of the courtyard, and it is open wide, and welcoming.

Beneath Oxford Circus

The church is splendid, highly decorated in the English Gothic Revival style: I may have given it the wrong name there, but it is fabulous nonetheless. Every surface is decorated, there are carvings, and decorated tiles everywhere. In contrast, two young men are sleeping here, almost certainly homeless and seeking somewhere warm in which to rest. We are quiet as I go round getting my shots.

All Saints, Margaret Street

As we leave, a lady is waving at us, we enter the house part of the church to where coffee and cakes are being served. Apparently there is a gathering of flower arrangers, but we are welcome to have some coffee. Cake? Its all very nice I have to say. The flower arrangers arrive, Jools and I make our excuses and leave. I have wanted to see inside All Souls outside the BBC at the top of Regent Street. When we arrive after a short two minute walk, there is a service under way, a funeral, or celebration of life, so we quietly leave and make our way to the small cafe in Little Portland Street for coffee and salt beef sandwiches.

Jools wants to visit a bead shop near Carnaby Street, its just a short walk away, ten minutes perhaps, but it means battling the hoards of shoppers. In Carnaby Street, my eye is caught by the Dr Martins shop: I need some waterproof shoes, what better than DMs? I go in while Jools looks for the bead shop. I try on the boots, they are good and look smart. Long gone are the days when a pair of ox blood 18 holers cost twenty quid, but these will do. Som good are they that I decide to wear them from the shop to home.

We call in at The Clachan for a drink, I have a pint of Wadworth chilli and chocolate, which is like liquid silk. With a kick. It is lovely, and I could have had several more, but we have decided that our day is done, and so we head back to St Pancras via the Victoria Line.

We have half an hour to kill, time for a coffee in the undercroft in a faux French Patisserie, it is good though, Americaos and generous slices of chocolate mousse gateaux. Hmmm, great.

Our train was due, so we go up to the platform, just as it rolls in. We take our usual seats, and I review the shots I have taken as the train fills up with shoppers and families. We get off at Martin Mill just before three, which means we are home as the main batch of games kick off. I switch the computer on and follow City at Watford. In the 2nd half, we get a dodgy penalty, but score two more fine goals to leapfrog over our opponents into 5th place, and being the only team in the top 6 to win, it leaves to Old Farm Derby next weekend to be even more crucial.

I cook breaded pork steaks for dinner, the sauteed jacket potatoes were perfect with some garlic mayo.

And that was your Saturday.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Saturday 21st February 2015


Let me say right away, I did not plan this. All travel is sent via e mail, and the actual flights and stuff is booked for us. So, I asked a flight for any time from Dresden back to London, and they booked me on the 14:05 flight. And no work to do, and having to vacate the hotel by ten. So, why not drive into the centre of Dresden for a walk?

THis was always my plan once I got the flight details last week, and so that is why I had both cameras with me, three grand plus of kit, plus Jools' compact, so I could go photo crazy. As a frther bonus, the weather was to be stunning, with no clouds, cold but very sunny.

I packed, paid my bill, had breakfast, loaded the car, but possibly not in that order, decided I did not need to program the sat nav, I checked the mirrors, turned on the seat heaters (yes, really), and reversed out of the parking space, looking in to the light of the rising sun, blinked, engaged 'drive' and I was off.

A short drive to the autobahn, and then a half hour blast to the ausfaht, and then, I had to hope good would come of this, follow the signs for 'zentrum'. I went down a wide dual carriageway, down the side of the old river valley, through the 'new part of town. I saw signs for the altstadt, so I thought I should go tha way. The buildings parted, and I was crossing a wide bridge over the river, and on my right hand side, on the opposite bank, the old city was just there, in the glorious sunshine, on the banks of the river Elbe.

Dresden on the Elbe

I find a nice underground parking garage, find hundreds of empty spaces from which to choose. A short walk brings me to the market square, currently home to a winter fair. Across the square I see the beginings of the old town, of the baroque quarter as the sign said, I could not argue with that description.

My plan was to visit the world famous Frauenkirche, an un-usual shaped church, in the shape of a bell, possibly, and maybe see what else there was to see. Along past a building site, the art musum, and there was the Frauenkirche, sparking in the morning sunshine, but then it has been mostly rebuilt since the war, after the city was destroyed by the RAF. A fine job has been done in rebuilding the city, the buildings are baroque, Gothic and wonderful, and closely packed.


The church is not yet open, but I thought I should walk back to the bridge to get a shot of the view. I see some steps leading up to a wide terrace, which runs alongside the river, getting nearer the bridge. I pass more museums, a music school, and finally come to the start of the bridge.

Dresdner Frauenkirche

The views are indeed worth it, world class indeed. And in the strong sunlight of a cold winter morning, just perfect. There are so few people about, so I get my shots, and walk back. Along the river is the cathedral; it is open, so I go in and once again I am awed by the magnificence of it all. Guilt and white paint make it seem like heaven on earth, but then this is not the Frauenkirche. It is now half ten, so doubling back I make my way to the Frauenkirche, see the large 'no photography' signs, so I am surpised to bump into a woman just inside the church taking a photo, as her flash goes off. People are taking photos everywhere, I grab three before the wardens some out, patrolling like cold war border guards.

Dresdner Frauenkirche

But I have some shots, although not the ones I want, but still.

Dresdner Frauenkirche

I look at my watch, it is quarter to eleven, three hours until my flight, and I have to find the airport. I have been in some cities where signs for the airports just are not there: yes I am taking about you Boston and ye Los Angeles.

I make my way back to the car park, pay my five euros, program the sat nav, just in case and drive out. I see a large road sign pointing the way to the airport, and this continues as I make my way back out of the city, to the autobahn and to the airport! Yay, in ten minutes I was parking the car, and walking to the terminal.

I was able to check my case in, make my way though security and be in the lounge in time for coffee and apple cheesecake and me lazy about it. Apart from the great city and sights I had seen, work had continued, and I was able to fix problems using the mail and calling people. It had been quite a morning.

As the flight was called, I switched my phone off, and all was quiet, I had no problems to fix for an hour. Which is why as soon as I sat down, I closed my eyes and snoozed. We took off and Germany passed beneath us, 55 minutes later we touched down in Franfurt: I had just over an hour to get to my gate. As we landed at gate A69, the furthest one from the centre of the airport, and the entrance to terminal B, it was a long walk. Through immigration, along to the gate, just in time as passengers were allowed through, down some stairs and onto a bus. The bust took us along terminal B, terminal A, past gate A69, past the plane I had gotten off and raced across the airport from, and on we went, further and further, until it seems we would soon be in Frankfurt, we arrived at our aircraft.

I took another seat, closed my eyes as the safety brief was given, the engines started and we taxied to the piano keys, the engines roared, and we took off into the murky skies, losing sight of Germany. An hour later we descended through clouds on final approach to find we were 50m above the ground, then the river, and down we bounced, engines roaring on full reverse, we were thrown forward. But we were home, back in Blighty.

A quick dash into the terminal, through immigration, collect my case and run to the DLR station. There is time, I have 40 minutes to get to Stratford, although a broken down train means I get there with just ten minutes to spare. But the train is not full, I get a seat, so I can relax and close my eyes once again. Once out of the tunel, it is dark anyway, and there is little to see other than my reflection looking back at me.

I get off at Martin Mill, just before seven, it is pouring with rain, which matches my mood to be honest. We head up the hill to home, where the cats are waiting, and like I have never been away. It is good to travel, but better to arrive home. Now, where's me cuppa?

Friday, 20 February 2015

Friday 20th February 2015


At least with this series of inspections, we had an agreement that the working day would start at 09:00, which meant a lay in, a late shower and a nice drive to the factory. The area around the factory is typical German I guess, lots of farmland, forest and factories. Its a great area, and despite it being muck spreading season, with the farmland being fertilised, it was still a pleasure to drive along the country road to the factory.

The day passed with inspections, questions, questions and more questions. It may be work, but for me, and the others it seemed more like an interrogation. It was a relief when the day ended at 5, just as it looked like the day might drag on into night. THe cloud from the morning had cleared, and the sun was heading towards sunset, casting wonderful pastel shades in the sky. I decided to follow up on my plan to drive to Meissen to look at the cathedral.

Last week I had been looking through some tourist leaflets in the hotel, and I came across one for the cathedral in Meissen: looked interesting, but it was clear that it would be closed by the time I got there, should I go? The promise of a fine sunset and clear skies for night shots made me want to take the chance. Our hosts had said it was a 40 minute drive to the city, so, should be easy. I had seen a sign for it from the motorway last week, so it couldn't be hard.


I set off down the autobahn at 140kmh, there are no speed limits as such, and the car seemed happy enough, quiet enough anyway. I switched on the radio to find another station playing nothing but 80s tunes. They seemed very excited to be playing these tunes, many of which I had forgotten There was the occasional German tune mixed in, but mostly 80s chart pop. British pop. Sounded good anyway.


Off the autobahn onto a minor road, heading still towards Meissen. At least the name kept appearing on signs. Still 30 plus KM to go, but now I'm here and all that. The sun set and the sky turned burnished orange; I really wanted to stop and take shots, but I felt every minute was precious as the light was fading, fading, fading.

I came to the outskirts of the city, headed towards the 'zentrum', traffic was light, there was still light in the sky, and the city seemed nice enough, but then this was the neustadt, the new town. I came to the bridge over the Elbe, and was greeted with a wonderful view of the old town, altstadt, gather around a rocky outcrop round which the river flowed, on top of which was a castle and the cathedral. The warmth of the streetlights contrasting with the cool blue of the sky. It was a wonderful sight, and worth the drive on its own.


I found a place to park, walked along the cobbled streets to the main town square, all lined on each side by either tall merchants houses of the town hall. And above it all was the castle and cathedral. I would love to have walked up there, but it would have been dark by then, and probably not got shots, so I resolved to come back, one day. I walked round the square, got more shots, pondered about calling in the already busy Italian restaurant, but decided to drive back to the hotel.

I thought it best to use the sat nav, now that it was dark. A wise choice in the end I believe. It wasn't hard anyway, back though the dark landscape, through wonderfully pretty small towns until I came to the autobahn. I put my foot down and was back in my room by seven, and tucking into a plateful of saffron flavoured pasta by half past. My gosh, I was tired again. Back in my room, I packed, wrote some more mails and had an early-ish night.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Thursday 19th February 2015

Welcome back to the working week; like its never been gone. But, a whole weekend, with working at home Friday and Monday, it feels like the summer holidays did when I was at school.

But as I spent most of it either dog tired, sleeping or thinking about sleeping, needless to say, Monday came round again very quickly, even if not traveling on Sunday felt like it was the best thing ever, well since wine in a box or cheese in a can, anyway.


I had so much to do on Monday, and then my work computer decided it did not like the router at home. It could see the router, but would not connect. Three hours of my life I wasted, re-establishing connections it still ignored anyway. But I got it working, just as I lost the will to live went, or at least the will to work anyway. I switched the laptop off, and set about packing for the trip back to Germany in the morning.

I spent the evening, watching Man Yoo on the cup against Preston, and making very, very hard work of things. 150 million quid spent in the summer and for what? Oh well. It passed an evening.


I awoke at five with an allergy attack in full swing. Oh that is great, just peachy. So, overheating and sniffling, I got up, took some drugs and lay awake until the alarm went off.

Planet Thanet

I haul myself up, have a shower, get dressed and have a coffee. Jools drops me off at Dover, only for the train I was expecting not listed on the departure board. So I hop on a stopping train, making my way to Ashford. With the new high speed service, there seems to be a train from Ashford every ten minutes, and depsite missing a train I had just ten minutes to wait before another one stopped to whisk me away to London. I had to stand of course, but as I would be doing more sitting for the next three days, what the hell.

Isle of Grain and Thamesport

I catch the DLR to the airport, check in, go through customs, but as I was to have a five hour wait in Frankfurt, I skipped breakfast, answered some mails, made some calls. And soon it was time to board.

Isle of Sheppy and The Swale

As usual, we flew out along the Thames, and then up along the north Kent coast. I had a camera this time, so snapped lots of shots of Faversham, Sheepy, Harty, Thanet from the window as we climbed higher and higher. I drank coffee as we flew over Belgium, dropping down again as we crossed into Germany.

Isle of Harty

Once on firm ground, I made my way through the airport to near the gate, had a coffee and a marzipan cake, as I read more of my magazine. The place is huge, and the number of people using it incredible. My flight was called, so I made my way to the gate, got on the bus taking us to the remote stand. Darkness was falling as we climbed into the air, crossing into the old east. I drank more coffee.

I got my case, went to the car hire place, and seeing as its just me this week, I was offered and accepted a mid-range VW MPV or something. I programed the sat nat in the dash, and it worked fine, half an hour to get to the hotel. The autobahn was empty, so I put my foot down and was soon zooming along at 140kmh, charging along. Still not the fastest thing on the road.

My reservation was good, I dropped my bags in the room, went down to dinner, failing to order the diet Coke, and instead got a 'dunkel bier'. I had pork schnitzel with a horseradish coating, which was very good indeed. Man, I was bushed, and as the football wasn't on TV, best waste my time following the games on Twitter.

Monday, 16 February 2015

Monday 16th February 2015


You know, I don't like to labour a point, but my gosh, I was shattered over the weekend. I guess you really don't know who crappy you were feeling until you begin to get better. And so, Jools and I slept through the cats mewing, the heating switching on, arising just in time to see the sun rise above the horizon. How glorious that was.

I got the camera.

Sunday sunrise

So, with the day looking bright, what to do with it? Seeing as its February, I had seen from my friends shots, that maybe snowdrops would be out. And then the final call on our grand revisiting of the Kentish seaside resorts meant we really should go back to Whitstable. But then that means missing out on Herne Bay. One for another weekend then, perhaps.

After advice from a neighbour, we drive to Westcliffe as there 'is a waterfall of snowdrops under the church.' Over-egging it as it happened, but still nice, even though all the drops were out as they were in full sunshine. I decided that the best bet would be a dark churchyard, Waldershare maybe....


We drove up the A2 past Canterbury, then doubling back up Thanet Way to Whitstable. Being early on a Sunday morning, there were plenty of parking spaces, so we paid for three hours near the harbour, I got out my camera, and we went for a walk.

Whitstable is a popular place, especially for the smart set from London, who fancy a trip to the seaside but be able to get the comforts of Camden Town. Therefore, Whitstable is fill of small independent shops, coffee shops, art shops, coffee shops, and so on. Heck, there's even a record shop, although on a winter Sunday, it was closed.

Whitstable, Kent

We walked along beside the harbour, through the dozens of yachts paid up on the gravel beach, past the oyster shops, oyster bars, oyster restauarants. They do a good oyster in Whitstable apparently. Not you's catch me eating one, or pouring it down my throat anyway. Past our office beside the harbour, over where the first commercial railway terminated, and along to Squeeze Gut Alley, a very narrow passageway between rows of houses. We posed for pictures, then set off for a good cup of coffee.

It's the kids, Whitstable, Kent

At a fine place that did coffee, cakes and bottled craft beers, we order coffee and pear cake. Very nice it was too. Hmmm, cake.

The town was filling up with trendy types, so we decide to beat a retreat, driving back along the Thanet Way to Ramsgate, then down to Sandwich and onto Dover. Stopping at Waldershare, there was a carpet of dew-covered snowdrops, so I snapped them good, laying in the mud so getting my clear jeans dirty, Mum would not be impressed. At the old folks place, all were out, so having tried to do our duty, we scarpered back home for lunch, bacon butties and the last of the Marzipan Torte i bought from Dresden airport on Thursday. We like it, which means I shall buy another one this week when I go.


Oh yes, egg shasing on the TV, I lay on the sofa with Molly, and we both are snoozing back to back. Lovely.

I cook chorizo hash for dinner, and the radio burbles the last of the cup games of the weekend. Chorizo hash is so nice, so tasty, its smells fills the house with lovely smoked paprika notes. I have the other half of the red from the previous night. And what do you know, I am shattered again, so at eight in the evening, we are taking to our bed once again, as outside the fog comes down and deadens all sounds.

And that was your weekend.


Sunday, 15 February 2015

Sunday 15th February 2015


Awake at dawn, after nowhere no near enough sleep. Jools is already up feeding the cats, making coffee. One thing was clear, we wouldn't be doing much for the day, other than snoozing on the sofa. Maybe.

I needed to get out and about by half eight, as after the weeks of travelling, I needed to get my hair back under control, which meant heading to the barbers in Cherrytree, for a barnet mangle and some abuse. It was a grey morning, not one for striding up and down the rolling Kentish countryside, much better have it so I look like I mean business with the customer visits.

Seems like there is some kind of bug affecting hairdressers, as two of the chairs were to be empty for the day, and the other one might be heading home as everyone in his house is vomiting too. Alan comes in, moaning, as is the norm, the news of the empty chairs does not improve his mood. But, I do get my hair cut and straight away, my head feels several degrees colder.

Being Valentine's Day, we thought it be good to have steak for dinner, which means a drive out to Preston to the butchers. It is a fine drive out to the marshes, nice to be out and about in the car, driving down familiar roads and lanes. The guys in the butchers are in good mood, they have heart shaped steaks, cos nothing says love more than a heart shaped steak. However, the sirloin is good enough. We have some banter about football.

And that is about as exciting as it got for Saturday. Drive home, listen to the radio until midday, then a selection of cheeses with crackers and a pint of badger ale. On the radio I had been listening to the cricket on the radio, England self-destructed against Australia once again. So it goes.

I took up a place on the sofa for the egg-chasing, England v Italy. A good game, although I did miss most of the 1st half due to sleep. But England ran out winners by about 30 points, about right. Onto Twitter to follow Cit's game, already 1-0 up against Wolves, and playing well. Indeed another goal in the 2nd half meant that we cruised to our third win in a row and move into the play off places. Hooray!

The steak was wonderful, even if I say so myself, along with the home made chips and garlic mushrooms.

We rounded off the day with watching Back to the Future on ITV2, which is annoying with the ads, but hey, its free.

I can honestly say, I have never felt so shattered as I felt this weekend, so washed out, so knackered I did not have the energy to do anything. It was enough to head to bed at just before nine, hoping that tomorrow would be better. Who can tell, eh?

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Saturday 14th February 2015


When I was given this job some 15 months ago, I knew there was going to be travelling, long hours and paperwork. But nothing could prepare me for for how tired I have felt this week. The third of three six day weeks, travel, split shifts, hotel beds, tennis elbow, a cold, a touch of the farmer giles. And it seems I reached my limit. I had at least arrived home on Thursday early in the evening, we went to bed at nine, and yet, I slept poorly, woke up every hour, or so it seemed.

It took a long time to get going in the morning before I had enough energy to switch the computer on. Oh great, a two hour meeting in an hour. So, I answered mails, then the meeting began. Two hours of excuses, poor planning and the usual guff. By three, and the meeting long over, I had enough energy to write on last mail, and that was it. The meeting meant I had lunch just before two, so when Jools came home at five, I wasn't hungry. We snacked on scotch eggs and some jalapeno bread. And that was it. I was done.

Even though it was half six, I could not keep my eyes open, so off to bed it was for both of us, at the end of a very long week for both of us. At least I had a full weekend in which to recharge my batteries. I'll need every minute.

Friday, 13 February 2015

Friday 13th February 2015


The predicted 04:00 start had been postponed until 07:30. Time enough for sleep, more sleep and breakfast. My mind had other ideas and I was awake before four, tossing and turning as I seemed to be on fire I was so darned hot. So, I was more then ready for breakfast at six, coffee, lots of coffee, some fruit, and a fresh breakfast roll. And more coffee.

All was set for work, Henrik and I drove to the factory, where the day ahead was planned, and seemed under control. And indeed it was. The went well, and each point raised was answered and put aside.

It was also stated that the production of the blade we have been following would be complete before 10:00 on Thursday, meaning we could bring our flights home forward 24 hours. Yay.

Back at the hotel, there was mail to write, of course, and I tried to stay awake so I could get stuff done. As it turned out, I should have given in to sleep, as later, it would not come, and then just a for a few hours. We all met for dinner, I had what was some local dish, fried pork patty stuffed with pickles and battered. It was OK, not something I will be rushing home to try, but there you go.

Back in my room I was following the football on the computer, when at just before eight, our previous manager, Paul Lambert was sacked by Villa. Seems like he wasn't the messiah they hoped for. 12 goals in 25 league games, no where near enough. Oh well, sometimes the grass isn't greener. Or even green.

At then I went to bed, hoping for more sleep.


I was awake again at half two. I wrote some mails, checked on the football scores, then tried to get back to sleep. I suppose I must have, as the the alarm woke me with a jolt at quarter to six. I showered, packed, dressed went down to check out and have breakfast.

The drive to the factory was enlivened by fog, frost and freezing fog. Nice mix. The factory was shrouded, we walked to the meeting room, and got the day under way. In the end we were finished by nine, shaking hands on a glorious week. It was Henrik's turn to drive, so we drove along beautiful tree-lined roads to the autobahn, the trees white with frost. My camera was in the boot in my case, otherwise there would be pictures.

Driving along the autobahn, we drove through areas of clear weather and straight into thick banks of fog. German drivers still hammered down the outside lane at something like 200mph. Scary stuff.

Checking in the car at the airport was painless, as was the short walk to the terminal. We checked in, went through security, at which point my day got interesting. As you know, I have been suffering from tennis elbow, and I was wearing the strap as instructed by the physio, my new work shirt set off the scanner, and when being patted down, the strap was discovered: was ist das? I tried to explain it was medical, but the armed policeman had seen there was something amiss. He came over loosening the cover on his gun. In time I got the strap off and they were able to see it was not a knife after all, and the panic was over.

We had a four hour wait for our flight, just as bad was that there was a direct flight to London leaving at midday, but I had to wait. And wait. And wait. We had lunch, coffee and more coffee.

The flight was called, we boarded with the usual fight for space for luggage, quite why people insist on taking so much stuff in the cabin I don't know. Anyway, I found a place for my work case, took my seat and settled down into my seat, shattered. After lifting off we passed over high ground, all covered with snow, looking very cold indeed. I have a coffee, rest my eyes for the 55 minute flight into Frankfurt. A quick dash across the airport to my next flight, I get there with half an hour to spare, it too is busy, but there seems to be more room for bags anyway.

The last leg home, well, in the air, anyway. All of Holland, Belgium was covered in cloud, as was England to be honest. We came came through the clouds, to find we were above Crystal Palace about to make the turn towards Battersea which is where we would turn along the river. I did not have my camera, and anyway it was dusk in the big city below, so I enjoyed the sight of the city slipping by below.

Once down, we all dash into immigration, get through the automatic lanes, only to have to wait ten minutes for our bags. Oh well. I just miss a train to Stratford, but I have 45 minutes, so still time for a coffee and be in time to get on the train. The train is full of the busy, looking at their phones for facebook updates, tapping out messages, or having heating conversations in strange languages. I find it all rather heady to be honest. At Stratford, I have a coffee and a sausage roll. That hits the spot, so then it was time to head to the platform below to fight to get on the train home.

I do get a seat, but one of the seats which has no window, so despite my tired eyes, I read some of the Mark Ellen book, causing me to laugh out loud even though I have read it before.

Jools was waiting at Martin Mill, and in the car a bag of fish and chips was waiting. We dash home, make a cuppa and tackle the fish and chips. That done we settle down to watch an ancient episode of TOTP from Fabruary 1980.

And that was your Thursday. A four day spell at home awaits, even if I have work still to do.

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Thursday 12th February 2015


Thanks to doctor’s appointments, beer festivals and having friends stay, it seemed a very short weekend indeed. Even shorter as we had to drop Steffen and Brian off at Stanstead before driving round the m25 to drop me off, Jools then got to complete the full circuit of London, heading back to Dover one I was safely at Heathrow.

What would I have given for another day, or even half day at home? Instead, we get up at six, I have a shower, squeeze in the football on TV, pack and then it is time to have breakfast, load the car with all our luggage and hour people.

It was a wonderfully sunny day, one for walking up on the downs or along the cliffs, looking for orchid spikes maybe. But instead we are driving up the M20 towards Dartford and Essex. Traffic was still light, and there were no queues at Dartford, so we cross into Essex with no problem, drive along to the M11 and up to Stanstead.

It may be the airport where most of the budget airlines operate from, but the airport is clearly trying to squeeze every last penny from passengers, including a £2 charge just to drop passengers off, plus an eaxtra two pounds per minute over an initial ten minute period.

Steffen and Brian get out, we bid our farewells, and we have to drive out before we get any more costs, we pay the two quid and are heading back to the motorway, at which point I realise we both have had little to eat, so we try to find a Burger King. Not the best food, but better than McDonalds for sure. We find one at the junction with the motorway, so we go in and order whopper or a crispy chicken de luxe or something. Nasty dirty food, but good.

I decide that it would be easier to drop me off at the airport, then Jools could head home in daylight, and I could check in, find a place to set up and do some work. It was the quietest I have seen the M25 for some time, and it was almost a pleasure driving round to the M4 and then onto Heathrow.

I park outside terminal 2, hug Jools, take my cases and here I am again, on the move. I find the check in desk, and despite four hours until flight time, they take my case so I can go through security, I find a place in the pub, order a pint and settle down to answer some mails. Time goes quickly, and soon my gate is announced, so off I go, following the other passengers.

Terminal 2, Heathrow

Outside there is a glorious sunset, the sky a riot of warm colours. By the time it is time to taxi, the sun has set and it is getting dark. We taxi out to the end of the runway, then up into the evening sky, circle over London, gaining height and then making our way along the north Kent coast, and finally over Thanet, with the lights of Margate, Broadstairs and Ramsgate pushing out into the English Channel, reaching out to France.

Over the Channel, across Belgium, and we are already dropping down for our approach to Frankfurt. We drop down, taxi to the terminal, and I have an hour to find the gate for the final flight to Dresden. Frankfurt is heaving with people coming and going, to make matters worse my boarding pass does not give a departure time, just a boarding time, and it takes me ten minutes to find my flight on the board.

I wait at the gate, and soon Henrik arrives from Billund, we are booked on the same flight, so we catch up, swap news, and soon we are boarding again for the 50 minute jump to Dresden.

We are the last flight of the day, and we have to queue up for our hire car, by the time we reach the front the lights are being switched off, door locked. It is eleven, and we are both shattered. We get a Fiat 500, which is a squeeze for us and our luggage. We program the sat nav and set off for the hotel, an half hour drive down the autobahn.

It is dark, or course, traffic is light, and the car is good to drive. Our keys are waiting for the room, we sign in and we can at last relax: it is just before midnight, and we have to be at the factory in seven and a half hours.


After breakfast Henrik and I drive to the factory, all is ready, so once the customer arrives we get going with the opening meeting, Then we have a tour and the work begins. It might be a long day, so we split up and I pull rank and order Henrik back to the hotel to relax. Wagging my finger I tell him, and no work!

The day passes, we change over at half six, so Marco and myself drive to the hotel, meet for dinner, chat and the evening passes. Another day in paradise has gone.


It seems there will be no need for night shifts, which is good, especially for Henrik who is spared the long boring nights waiting for stuff to happen. We are at the factory again at half eight, and so the whole business starts again on a new day.

But it is going well. Very well in fact, and the day passes in a fine haze for me, but I feel on top of things once again, in control. Oh dear, I hope a big fall is not coming.

We finish at five, drive back to the hotel through the dusk, and the fertile farmland to the hotel. I really just want to head to bed, but I have a couple of hours work to do, which I put off until after dinner.

There is a busy night of football back home, City play Charlton at The Valley, take a 2-0 lead into half time, cruising. Needless to say, they go to seep, concede two goals and things look bad until we grab a winner through Grabban with three minutes to go.

As soon as the match finishes, I switch off the computer and head to bed, I realise I have a sore throat, which means I have at least a cold coming. Bugger.

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Sunday 8th February 2015


After twelve hours sleep, I feel human once again, I just have to decide which human I want. I am wide awake by midday, but get up some five hours before then. Outside a glorious dawn is playing itself out. I stand at the back door to take shots, as I do. Steffen and Brian sleep on upstairs, after they had gotten in some five hours later than I, and so had much, much sorer heads than I have. IN fact, I feel fine, even better after the second coffee and the bacon butties I cook for Jools and myself.

Brian rises at nine, and after making him bacon butties, we drive to the cliffs at the Dover Patrol to survey the scene. Cloud now had covered the sky, but it was at least dry, and the views, as ever, are stunning. A quick trip to the Bay too, looking around at the all familiar scene as the cliffs rise either side of the bay, whilst the coast of France can just be seen on the horizon.

Back at home, Steffen was also up, feeling a tad sensitive. He had said he wanted fish and chips, so, after a search of the local chippies, it seems the one in Deal opposite the pier was one of the best in the area. So, it is a fine drive through Walmer and into Deal, then began the great search for the fabled parking space. It is an overcast Saturday in February, so why was just about every parking space was taken? We tried the usual places, but in the end found one beside the beach almost in Sandwich.

We take a table in the restaurant after the ten minute walk along the beach, I have skate, whilst the others all have cod. The fish is fresh, perfectly cooked, and very good indeed. Stomachs and heads were settled, which was good.

After a walk along the pier, Jools drops us off at The Berry so we can try some ale there, and turns out the North London Derby is on, but we miss the final 5 minutes as the egg chasing is about to begin, so don't see Harry Kane head Spurs the three points.

Back home I find City 3-0 up at half time against Blackpool, and score a 4th at the end of normal time. We try to keep our feet on the ground again, City are back up to 7th.

And back into town at 8, as there are curries with our name on it, and one final visit to The Rack of Ale is called for, before Jools picks us back up to whilsk us home, as three of us have flights to catch in the morning.

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Saturday 7th February 2015


My alarm goes off at five past four. Damn, it's early. I lay in bed girding my loins readying myself for a long day travelling back home. I do get up, peek round the curtains to see that the cold outside has now developed into freezing mist. It looks mighty cold.

After showering, getting dressed and packing, I find the night porter, check out and walk out to the car. There is now ind, but the intensity of the cold is like a weight: I load the car, start the engine and begin to clear the ice from the windows. I have managed to break my sat nav, and also the battery is flat, and with only the barest of ideas of the way to the airport, I set off through the town and on the main road south. The temperature indicator says minus three, it feels much colder. Indeed as I pass through a town on the way, a sign outside a shop claims it to be minus ten. It feels at least that cold.

The mist comes and goes, it gets colder and colder, the car says minus 5, minus seven. I am taking the right roads, and I recognise the road as being right. As I get near the airport, the car decides it is minus ten after all. I have made it safely, by taking my time, and I arrive with an hour and 40 minutes before flight time. I park the car, dump the keys in the letterbox of the car hire office, get my boarding pass, check in my case, then find all of Denmark is also leaving that morning, with there being a massive queue for security.

But in ten minutes I get through, I can't be bothered to queue for coffee in the bar, so I catch up on more mails while I wait for the flight to be called.

Westminster and Waterloo

Even with the cold and some snow on the ground, flights are taking off on time, as does ours. Half an hour before departure, we make our way to the gate, and for a change it is full. Anyway, we board the flight and we are on our way taxiing into the warm light of a Danish dawn, cold as almost anything I have ever felt. We take off, and are climbing through the clouds as the sun rises away to the east. I close my eyes, but am on the watch for the delivery of breakfast; it might just be roll and cheese, but comes with a couple of cups of coffee, and after being awake for four hours, it tastes like nectar to me.

St Paul's and the City

Over Denmark, we climb above the clouds, and so Holland and Belgium are hidden from view. I am guessing they are still down there. We come through the clouds over Kent as we pass over Gravesend, wich means we will be approaching LCY from the west, which also means flying over central London. We lass over the southern suburbs, turning north at Crystal Palace and again at Battersea, passing along the south bank, so we are treated with wonderful views over the river to Westminster, Whitehall and onto the City. It is wonderful, and I have my camera, so I snap away.


Over London Bridge, The Shard and onto the East End, getting lower as we seem to skip over the mudflats beside the river, and down we bounce, the pilot putting it into full reverse thriuster as the wheels touch, throwing us all forward, bringing a cry of surprise form a child the other side of the plane from me.

But we are down, I gain the hour I lost on Saturday, so we make our way into the terminal, go through immigration, collect my case and am on the station platform with 55 minutes some 55 minutes before my train home was due to leave. There is time for coffee on the station, before I go to the platform to wait for the train. It is empty, or not full anyway, so I get a seat, collapse into it, close my eyes. An hour to go, I have been up for eight hours already, my mind and body are shattered.

At Dover I get a taxi to St Maggies, then I have an hour before my physio appointment down the hill, as my arm is little better. SO he does some massaging, seems to make it worse, and that is it. I walk back up the hill, where Steffen and Brian are waiting for me, we order another taxi, which whisks us into Dover, dropping is at The Rack of Ale, as it is the day of the beer festival. After a couple of swifters in The Rack, we walk over to Maison Dieu for the festival proper. With my brain, muddled due to lack of sleep, the addition of strong winter ale was never going to end quickly. Jools came to pick me up at half five, I go home, and go straight to bed.

I am done.

Friday, 6 February 2015

Friday 6th February 2015


Another Sunday, another commute to Denmark. Urgh.

As usual, wake up just as it is getting light, go down to feed the cats and make the first coffee of the day. Outside there has been no snow, but it is cold. Darned cold.

I pack and get ready for the trip, and after watching MOTD, Jools takes me down to Martin Mill station, only to find there are no other passengers waiting. We sit in the car, waiting until 5 minutes before the train is due, only to find there will be no trains, just a bus. In an hour.

I look at my watch, I think there might just be enough time to get to Folkestone where the train is starting from. Jools drives, and I make it to Folkestone West with a couple of minutes to spare. There are many other passengers waiting, but there is no coffee shop, nor is the ticket office open. When the train arrives there is a rush for a seat, I get one, and so settle down, checking my mails as we zoom upto Ashford.


By the time we leave Ashford, the train is full, standing room only, amazing for what was supposed to be a white elephant service.

At Stratford, I have to fight with my cases off the train through the many Arsenal fans on the way to the game. A few will have bruises from my case, as I did not want to be stuck on the train into London.

Onto the DLR, a change at Canning Town and to the airport with an hour and 50 minutes before my flight. More than enough time to sit and watch the hooray Henrys heading off to the chic skiing resorts of Europe with their expensive and bulky skiing gear.

All change at Canning Town

For a Sunday, the flight is busy, nearly three quarters full, but I have my usual seat in 8A, the door is closed, safety brief given, the engines start and off we go. Into the cloudy late afternoon London sky, disappearing into the clouds before we cross the M25. I close my eyes as the engines roar outside.

Another Sunday, another flight to Billund

Nearly two hours later, we arrive at the Danish coast, with just the occasional cloud, the late afternoon sun illuminating everything with a warm light. We fly over the site in Esbjerg, I see the installation vessel for the current project, one of five in the harbor, and then it was gone, lower and lower we went over the Danish snowfields, getting lower and lower, until we touch down.

Another Sunday, another flight to Billund

I had been asked to wait for Mariska, so I had what I hoped would be 50 minutes wait for her flight. I got the keys to the hire car, went to the café for coffee, and waited. And waited. 90 minutes later she appeared through the customs hall; her luggage was missing.

Final approach into BLL

Oh dear. So, nothing left other than to accept it, and drive to the hotel, some 50 miles away, across the flatlands of west Jutland to Ringkobing. It was dark, and icy, but the roads were quiet and dead straight for the most part. We stopped at a Spar sh she could get some supplies, toothpaste, brush, soap, before pushing on to our final destination.

Before going to the hotel, we go to an Italian restaurant for dinner: I have some kind of chicken with saffron and brandy pasta. Was very nice, too good for me. Even better when they say they had a bottle of Von Santo for me to have whilst Mariska has ice cream.

Finally, to the hotel, catch up on mails, have a shower, and bed. Six hours until the alarm would wake me.


So, it is still dark at five when the alarm goes off. I lay in the dark listening to the silence outside. Better get on with it then. I meet Henrik at breakfast, before we drive to the factory for the meeting at eight and then more work.

I bail at lunchtime as I am to cover night shift, but receive a call at three to say inspections will not be taking place, so no work for me. Other than the avalanche of mails I am receiving and sending. Each one another fire to be fought or sent on. Life was hectic for a while, but I got through it, found solutions and did OK I believe.

Back at the hotel we meet for dinner, baked cod and chips for me. I treat myself to a beer as I won’t be working that night. That goes down very well indeed.

Back in my room I listen to the transfer deadline day stuff on the radio and follow it on Twitter. All meaningless, really, but it passes the evening before I call it a night, some 90 minutes before the horse trading ended back home.


Back in the factory for eight, and the news that night shift would be required, therefore after a gentle morning, I head back to the hotel, via the harbor, as from the factory I see that the water has frozen. The water in the fjord is not quite fresh, but not seawater, something inbetween, and with no wind to stir it, the harbor has frozen, to no great depth, but enough to support the weight of a gull or two.

Ringkobing in winter

Back in my room, I tackle more work mails, and at two try to get some sleep. Whether I did or not, I am not sure, but maybe half an hour or so, before work strayed back into my consciousness and my thoughts began to race away.

We once again met at half six for dinner, in the hotel restaurant. Now, its not a bad place, but has just four choices for each course, one being fish, and not really liking fish, and as much as I like steak, you don’t want to eat it every night. But, I have steak again, and it is OK. That the waitress got the order for all four of us right for the first time in six days was good, but as I said, just four choices, shouldn’t have been that difficult.

At nine I drove to the factory, met the manager, and once the client rep arrived, so began the long night shift, witnessing stuff, asking questions and trying to stay awake.

At half six, the others came to relieve us, and so myself and Svetlana could head back to the hotel for breakfast.dinner and then get some glorious sleep.


Outside, the sun rose into a cold blue sky, and shone all days, right into my room. It certainly wasn’t dark, but I did get to sleep, and slept for some six hours before thoughts of work brought me round into the world of the living once again. At four, news came that there was to be no night shift, and the others were heading back to the hotel, so meet for coffee?

This really was good news, and the prospect was that there would be no more night shift, so I could relax, and think about switching back to normal sleep patterns.

For dinner we headed into town to the Italian place, and despite my previous comments about not wanting steak for every meal, I ordered steak in a cream and whisky sauce. It was glorious, so good that the only way to finish was with a Vin Santo again.

Back to the hotel room for some FA cup action, this time Bolton v Liverpool, for which I just about stayed up until the final whistle, so witnessed a Liverpool win.


Last day.

Another glorious dawn outside, so more frost scraping off the car, a short drive to the factory, and the day’s work of inspecting began. And went on. And on. In fact, it was mostly witnessing testing, which was staring at a computer read out for hours and hours. Not riveting, but required.

And at four, the day ended with the first nacelle for the project having been completed and passing all tests. Great news, and seeing the massive machine at the end of the line, makes the reality of the project all the more real. It really is in full swing, doubly as four more were on the line at the same time too.

The Italian was so good, we went back for a repeat, I have steak in a gorgonzola sauce, and it was another tasty triumph. So pleased was the owner to see us back, I get a free Vin Santo to round off the meal.

Drive back to the hotel, thank the customer for their good spirit over the week, and that was it, time to pack, try to sleep, and gan yem tomora.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Sunday 1st February 2015


Only full day off of the week.

I am awoken by the smell of fresh coffee. Hmmm, how sweet it smells. And welcome too. Outside it is not quite dark, dawn is howing, and there are few clouds in the sky. I take the coffee and go into the bathroom to look at the changing light, but not before picking up my camera too.

Just after half seven, yellow light shows behind the houses on the brow on the hill on the opposite side of the dip, airlines above are illuminated making them seem like comets blazing their tails. And then, between the houses, the sun rises, already bright enough to hurt my eyes.

Winter sunrise


And then, well, strap on our walking boots, go stomping before Jools has to go for a beading class, and I will star with my good friend, Mr Radio, and all the day's sports news. I say sports, even Andy Murray's progress to the final of the Australian Open musters a moment of interest in my brain. It may also be Superbowl weekend, but I have not watched that for some four years now, and in truth I have not missed the NFL at all. A bit like live football, I have gotten used to the radio, and doing other stuff at the same time.

Early morning walk on the last day of January

We go for a short walk, just about an hour, along the path at the end of the street, to the pig's copse, we look down the track to the dip, already the frost is melting and the mud softening. We decide not to go too far, so turn round and wander back, horses in the fields look at us hopefully that we might be bringing them hay or some carrots.

Back home we have another coffee, Jools collects her beading stuff and leaves me alone with Danny Baker on the radio. I make some dough for rolls to go with the soup that Jools had made on Thursday The day passes into afternoon, somewhere players march out onto the pitch, kick off, and the radio burbles away in the background. That finishes, Jools comes home, all over the country more matches are about to begin, and I settle down to follow City on Twitter. It is a little old school, like when we used to follow the scores on Teletext. City huff and puff, but fail to impress, and so the score at Brum ends 0-0.

Outside night has fallen, we get hungry so warm the soup, the rolls are down, so once buttered, all is ready for dinner.

We end the day, watching The Mummy Returns, which is awful and joyless as I had been lead to believe. We sit there, slack jawed, like watching a car wreck, unable to drag our eyes away from the awfulness. That is two hours of our lives we won't get back.

Saturday ends, but with the promise of snow for the morning, and I have to travel to Denmark. Again. Oh well.