Sunday, 29 March 2015

Monday 30th March 2015


Those of you with sharp eyes will realise that is is not Monday. No, on Monday I am travelling back to Denmark, and so will be unable to blog, so here I am on Sunday night, writing instead.

Morning dawned later than of late, mainly because it was the very first day of British Summer Time, or daylight saving time if you like, and so the clocks go forward, and we get an hour less in bed, which we will only get back at the end of October. It means darker mornings, if only for a few weeks, and much later evenings, which now means we can walk or garden until after seven. Unless we are in some other country apart from being at home of course.

It was due to rain all day. Which it did pretty much. And with there being no football to watch on this first dark morning of Spring, I made coffee, bacon butties and played some music on the hifi. All good stuff.

Time passed, we got a little stir crazy; Jools went outside to do some gardening. I listened to the radio, prepared lunch, and the day went by, with the rain falling from the sky, not heavy, but being blown around by the wind.

After dinner of cold sausage rolls, we went to Dad's to look at his brand new chickens. He has given over a small, very small, area of his garden to a run with 5 chickens. After two days he already has had eight eggs, and there is promise of some for us by the weekend.

We take our leave, and go back to the garage for more form signing, and the dead is done. The car is ours, or will be at 14.00 on Thursday.


We go back home to have coffee and cookies to celebrate.

I watch Brasil v Chile on TV. It is a hard watch as there is hard tackling, and much play-acting. Time passes and the afternoon passes into, well, late afternoon. It is still light at six. I cook steak and sautee potatoes for dinner, with which I opened the final bottle of Presidents XV, which was just perfect.

I have packed, shaved, showered, checked in online, and all ready for another trip to Denmark tomorrow.

I will be back on Wednesday, otherwise I will be stuck there all over Easter.

See you then.

Sunday 29th March 2015


And after the bright sunshine, well for the most part, seen in Holland this week, on the first day of rest we have thick fog and blustery wind. A combination that is pretty rare, but then anything is possible up on the cliffs here in St Maggies.

We need a few things, so decide, in a break from the norm to head to Deal and go to Sainsbury's rather than the usual Tesco at Whitfield. The drive was interesting in the fog, with the usual eejits driving with no lights on, partly explained by only a thin mist once we descended into Walmer. But still, how bad does it have to get before fog registers in their tiny minds?

Sainsbury's is fairly empty, and not a place to be rushed round because of the crowds and feral children. No you rush round in case you see any more nice things that might just fall into your basket. A couple of pints of Hopdaemon does, and two packs of nice sounding bacon. We escape some £46 lighter and non the wiser.

Back home I cook the bacon for breakfast, and am amazed at the rashers that filled the pan, shrunk to less than half their length. Just as well there were seven each then! Breakfast done, and with the weather being the way it was, it would have been easy to sit inside all day, listening to the radio, messing around on the computer and the such.

No, not when there is orchid progress to check up on. Oh no.

Down Jubilee Way, along Townwall Street, mixing it with the port traffic, which for some reason is once again stacked up all the way to Aycliffe. All this means we will find another way back home.

Springtime at Samphire Hoe

Anyway, up the road out of town, past Shakespeare Cliffe and down the tunnel to Samphire Hoe. And to our surprise it was foggy here too. We put on our thick coats, I get the camera with the macro lens, and I walk beside the railway and Jools takes the path to the seawall as she thinks this orchid thing is becoming an obsession. Really?

Early Spider Orchid Ophrys sphegodes

A few hundred yards along, I find the first of the rosettes, some even beginning to put up small spikes. But in truth it has not been that warm these past two weeks, and any hope of March flowering spikes has been dashed, indeed it might be two weeks before we see an open orchid here. I walk back to the car where Jools has already had enough fresh air and is waiting.

Now for the main business of the day; we are going to look at some cars. A major step, and more of what you might like to call ordinary behaviour. Jools likes to compare it to the opening lines of Trainspotting, "Choose Life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose a fucking big television, choose washing machines, cars, compact disc players and electrical tin openers. Choose good health, low cholesterol, and dental insurance. Choose fixed interest mortgage repayments. Choose a starter home. Choose your friends. Choose leisurewear and matching luggage. Choose a three-piece suit on hire purchase in a range of fucking fabrics. Choose DIY and wondering who the fuck you are on Sunday morning. Choose sitting on that couch watching mind-numbing, spirit-crushing game shows, stuffing fucking junk food into your mouth. Choose rotting away at the end of it all, pissing your last in a miserable home, nothing more than an embarrassment to the selfish, fucked up brats you spawned to replace yourselves. Choose your future. Choose life... But why would I want to do a thing like that? I chose not to choose life. I chose somethin' else. And the reasons? There are no reasons. Who needs reasons when you've got orchids".

So, on the way back down the Alkham Valley towards the Seat dealer, there is the garden centre. We call in, wander round and spend another forty quid. A few plants, a shrub and a small tree. All very normal. And I am enjoying it. At the Seat dealer, we wander round the lines of second hand cars, all looking OK, but there is the danger with the unknown previous owners, how hard were the cars driven. A young lady in tight fitting yoga pants comes out to ask us if we need help. I say we are just looking, thanks.

A quick drive up to Whitfield brings us to the Vauxhall dealer. Now, I have driven many different makes of cars over the past three months, and gone are the days when Vauxhalls were rust buckets. We know what we need, something the same size as the Polo, something with the same engine size, a Corsa in other words. We look round the used car lot, some are OK, they all look OK. Then the salesman spots us, we are like antelope on the savanah, being stalked by lions. He circles us, now panicking us.

Are you looking for a used or new car, he began. He had caught us.

We say we might be interested in a new one, if the deal was right.

Come inside he says, inviting us into his lair. Would like, coffee, cake?

What would we like, can we have your details? We are handed over to a young lady, Amy. They offer us nearly two grand for our car, knock some money off one they have in stock, gives us the price per month. And it is doable. We say yes, then begins the form filling, detail giving. And waiting. They have a TV in the showroom, which is playing Jeremy Kyle to no one, least of all, us. Then Murder she wrote, comes on, in which Angela goes back in time to sort a murder from the civil war, or something. I don't think I was on drugs, but then I have had a lot of coffee.

The news comes, all has been approved, but the final part is on hold as the service department have locked the registration documents or something. So, can we come back on Sunday? I believe we can.

Imagine our surprise to find nearly 3 hours have passed, we have a car full of plants and we are going to take delivery of a shiny new motor before Easter.

We have yet more coffee, then Jools does a tip run, goes to visit Nan, and I put the plants in, stamp then in, water them. Looks good.

I make sausage rolls for dinner, with the last of the sausage meat from Christmas. It is chestnut flavoured, and is without doubt the best. That hits the spot.

Day light fades, the mist thickens to fog, and as we watch TV a small badger cleans up the bird food outside, make only the occasional glance as us, as all peanuts and seeds are hoovered up.

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Saturday 28th March 2015


Last day of the week, and I am back at home, sitting at the dining room table, with my work computer, answering e mails, as everything going Pete Tong around my ears.

Springtime in the garden

But I digress.

Have an Ace(r) Spring

Jools goes to work in the car, leaving me in the house with the cats and a pile of work to be getting on with. I have two meeting scheduled: the one I arranged had just the two of us turn up. We passed the time of day and all was well, but a bit pointless. The second one, more important, had just the three of us, and was also largely pointless. I am staggered. So, we went through nearly two hours of matters arising, with most of those responsible not being present. I would have been funny if not so important.

Friday afternoon walk to the cliffs, doctors. And back Two more hours of mails, updating documents.

For lunch I defrost some pasta sauce which I think will do as thick soup, and I make a small loaf of spicy potato bread. Oh it was spicy, and mighty fine.

Friday afternoon walk to the cliffs, doctors. And back

At two, it was time to end for the weekend, pack my stuff away, strap on my walking boots as I have an appointment with the doctor regarding my allergy meds. The promise of the BBC that it would cloud over my mid afternoon had not happened, so, why not make the most of it and take the camera, like there was ever a chance I would ever go without.

Friday afternoon walk to the cliffs, doctors. And back

In the strong sunshine, the colours were so vibrant, but the fields around the house were still showing no growth, but elsewhere there was lush growth.

Friday afternoon walk to the cliffs, doctors. And back

Along the path to the pig's copse, which is still empty, still awaiting this year's piglets. Through the trees, I see the blue smudge, marking where the English Channel laid.

Turning right at Fleet House and down the dip, the colours were still so vibrant, and the clucking of the hens snoozing in the copse to the right.

At the bottom, the ground is almost dry, with just some sticky mud. I picked my way through and climbed up the other side, the sun not quite warm on my back though, so I was glad of the coat I decided to wear.....

Friday afternoon walk to the cliffs, doctors. And back

All along the cycle path heading north, a great array of spring flowers were already waving in the gentle breeze, wild daffodils, primroses amongst many others.

Friday afternoon walk to the cliffs, doctors. And back

I take the path crossing the down at the usual place, giving fine views down to Kingsdown. But I wanted to get to the memorial, look down on the breaking waves below. I pause to look at the view, and yet more bouquets pf flowers marking the mourning of a lost loved one at the cliff's edge. I don't dwell, I turn and head across the fields towards the village, walking down Salisbury Road which comes out of at the surgery. I get my prescription, already the sun is getting low in the west, so I redouble my efforts to head for home.

Friday afternoon walk to the cliffs, doctors. And back

One last task is to call in at the village library to drop some of Jools' books off, then head down the narrow path, past the farm at the bottom of the dip and up the other side, just a short walk along the street from home. Once inside, the cats are waiting, being four, only an hour to dinner time, so how about it big boy?

Friday afternoon walk to the cliffs, doctors. And back

Jools comes home, we have a coffee. She is meeting friends from the LFB in the evening, as more friends are leaving the factory as another round of sackings are under way. It was bound to be an awkward night for all concerned. Which means I am home alone. I have defrosted some kofte kebabs, I part boil some potatoes, then fry them up. The kebabs are shallow fried, nice dirty food. With Fleetwood Mac playing softly in the background, I eat my dinner, before it is time to sit down and watch the latest match on England's Euro 16 qualifying. England have won all 5 previous games so fat, and a game against Lithuania wasn't going to be a real test. It was a poor game, England scored early and were never really tested, running out 4-0 winners, with the latest wunderkind, Harry Kane scoring on his debut with his 3rd touch. Cue massive over-reaction.

The football means no Don, but there is promise of the repeat on Saturday evening. Be still my beating heart.

Friday, 27 March 2015

Friday 27th March 2015


And its time to go home. Or will be in a few hours. I had planned to lay in, but thanks to a combination of the ever-early dawn and regular cramp attacks during the night, I felt like i had not slept. I drag myself out of bed, have a shower and pack.

Downstairs, and the hotel is jammed full of Canadian schoolkids, clogging up the restaurant, moaning about the food. Whatever, I am not at my best at in the morning so I fill get angry at almost anything. The kids were not so bad, I was just grumpy. Outside it is a glorious morning, too nice to be at work, if only for a few hours. I check out, pay the bill; and to the office. A whole two minute drive through the industrial estate and fish warehouses of the town.

After a coffee, I switch the computer on, and then avalanche of mails began. I have so much to do, and have to be on my way to the airport at ten, which gives me two hours to get things done. Being this stressed is exciting for sure, and in the end I think I get tasks done, I say bye to everyone, load my bag into the car, program the sat nav: 30 minutes. Lets go.

The town is a mix od modern houses and factory units/warehouses. Its not pretty, but I know the old part of town is pretty enough, but the modern part is pretty faceless. Even the old railway line has been dug up and replaced by a cyclepath, which means I am at least less distracted.

All along the main road, there are thousands of daffodils all nodding in the breeze, looking all purdy and springlike. No time to admire them as I take the turn onto the motorway and I am straight into thick traffic. I have three hours before my flight, but I like to be in time, anyway, I take my time, driving at less than 100kmh, with most traffic whizzing past me. On either side, the fields are broken up by ditches and dykes, with a few old fashioned windmills in the mix too. And all in warm spring sunshine. Were I not heading for one of the largest hub airports, I might have enjoyed it.

At Schipol, I follow the signs to drop the car off. I have done less than 60km all told. I get a signature meaning I have returned it undamaged. And then I am free for the hike to the airport and departure lounge. Along the endless travelators, down the slope, into the large hall above the railway platforms. On I go, up to the check in desks: I realise I can use the KLM machines, I get a boarding card, then queue up to check in my bag. And it is the first time I have seen this part being self service.

I scan my boarding card, place the case in the booth. A tag is printed, I attach it to the case. It is weighed, am I happy it asks? Maybe. The case vanishes, and I can go to security and then onto immigration. I stop off for a smoothie and whilst I am sipping it, I make some calls. Its all going to crap. Really it is. Stuff that never goes wrong, goes wrong. Thankfully there is a team to deal with it, and so after half an hour, I make my way to the gate, and I can wait for the flight to board.

At the gate I see there is a snack booth: Hmmm, Indian chicken sandwich sounds nice, I think. It is microwaved, and is horrible. With the coffee it is €10 I won't see again. Jeez that was awful. Anyway, I will be OK until I am back in blighty when I can have a cuppa and a wad.

The flight is called, less than half full. Once again I have a row of seats to myself. I settle in, and close my eyes. The jets start, we are backed out. Its a short taxi to the runway, we are third in queue to take off. The two jets roar off with about just 30 seconds gap inbetween. The jets roar, we leap off down the runway, and into the air we go, leaving crowded Holland below us as we climb into he hazy sky. IN the 40 minute flight, they manage to serve drinks to everyone, but as soon as we reach cruising altitude, we are dropping towards London again.

England is shrouded in cloud, and on final approach we fly through a short downpour, with the rain running over the windows like a shower. But by the time we land we are in bright sunshine again. At least arriving at lunchtime means the airport is quiet, we go through immigration, collect our cases without really breaking stride. A two minute wait for a train to Stratford, but looking at my watch I know I am going to miss the quarter to two train by about 5 minutes.

I am right, I miss the train, so I go into the cafe, have a gingerbread latte and a large cookie. I check more work mails, my phone is about to die, enough life in the battery to fire of a mail and make a call. I have work to do when I get home then.

The train is half full when it arrives, but I get a seat, so relax in my seat. The final leg.

At Folkestone we pass the Orient Express, out on a lunch special, and the rich or those celebrating at just tucking into the first course as the train pulls out of Folkestone West, with a traditional Dixie Jazz band playing as the train leaves. The music peters out as the last carriage leaves the station. The musicians look at each other, turn and head out through the ticket office. Job done.

At Dover there is just one taxi waiting, I jump ahead of a hesitant couple who are wondering whether to hail a cab. Sorry guys, its mine. The driver, however, does not speak much English, so I explain how to get to the house; mixing it with the port traffic, up Jubilee Way, along the Deal Road, up the hill to home.

Inside, all three cats are waiting, and demanding food. Well, it is four in the afternoon. I have a cuppa, and then sit down to write the mails I have to. Jools arrives home at half five; do I want fish and chips for dinner? Oh yes.

So Jools goes back out, I make the brews. Once we have eaten, I am so tired, I have a shower, and we watch another old TOTP on BBC 4. The Vapors (again) Rush, The Police, some good stuff, and some rubbish too.

Is that it? OK, time for bed. Friday tomorrow. Then the weekends.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Thursday 26th March 2015


And so begins another week. This time I have a late start with the travelling, as my flight isn’t until three fifteen, but it does mean I can’t get Jools to drop me off, or walk down the hill. No, this calls for something far worse; the father-in-law. Now, don’t get me wrong, I like him, but like anyone who has been driven by him, it is something to be avoided unless necessary. And I am in need, so the call was made and a time arranged. It is just down the hill, how bad could it be?

I do some work, have breakfast, pet the cats and pack. All ready for eleven so I would be ready if Tony came early. Which was just as well as he was early. I loaded the car, and we set off, having to cross two junctions, and in fact it was pretty painless as the Deal road as quiet. I unloaded my case, waved him goodbye and walked onto the station.

Thus learning an important lesson, don’t let your lift go before you check the arrivals board, as when I did there were no trains listed for 90 minutes, meaning I might miss my flight. In fact I would not, but it would be cutting it fine. Whatever. I did know why there were no trains, though. A person had been struck by a train in Herne Bay, I saw the tweets from the rail company, but failed to realise that the train I wanted to catch would be coming that way, and with the lines blocked. Well, you get the picture.

There was a call point on the station, the guy on the other end seemed very unfazed by the fact I needed to know if a train was coming, and if there would be announcements on the station. He admitted there would be none, but a train was due about midday. I decided to tweet the help desk, which confirmed this, and it seemed to be the speed of the reply showed more customer focus.

Anyway, some twenty minutes late, the train arrived, but the announcement once on board was that after Ashford it was running fast, non stop, to London. Those of us going to Stratford, as another train would be arriving ‘soon’ to take us. Sigh.

With no other choice we got off, and joined the others on the platform waiting. Indeed the train arrived withon a few minutes, we all got on board, and I got a seat, so settled down to watch the countryside fly by, by sitting ON THE WRONG SIDE OF THE TRAIN! How odd that felt, but maybe I should do that more often.

20 minutes later we arrived in Stratford, the walk to the DLR, having missed a train by seconds, I waited ten minutes, the next one arrived and we headed out.

Travelling in the middle of the day means the airport was quiet, I checked in, dropped my case went through security. And instead of having a meal, I made do with a roll and paper cup of coffee, which still cost over eight quid!

The flight was called, and was under half full. In the 45 minute flight they managed to serve drinks twice and pick up the trash, good going I think.

My, or our, destination was Amsterdam. And as usual at a hub, the taxi to the parking slot seemed to last longer than the flight; we went over two motorways, a canal and a railway, and all over the airport we could see other aircraft making similar taxi trips.

I have no onward flight to catch, and I have all evening to sort the rest of the my trip to the hotel out, so I wait until most of the others have gotten off. What seemed like a three mile walk took me to immigration, and another similar walk brought me to baggage reclaim and my small case was going round and round.

In the concourse, it was another mile to the car hire place. I filled the form and was told the car was a short walk away. Up a ramp, along four travelators, along a corridor, down a lift, to the office. I show all my documents again, and I am given the keys to the car. The guy even brought the car to me. Another Polo.

I programmed the sat nav, and drove out of the garage, waiting for the signal to be made, I took the motorway, hoping the direction was right. It was, but took a turning before the one the nat nav was indicating, and had to drive round the airport again to get back.

Ten miles down the motorway, and five more miles to Ijmuiden, through the town centre, to the marina and the Holiday Inn. Yay.

Sunset at Imjuiden

I parked up, went in, filled in more paper work, showed my passport yet again, and was given my room key. In the room I looked at my watch, it was seven, and I was hungry and tired.

I ate alone in the restaurant, I could not resist the beer and burger combination. It was good.

Room at the Holiday Inn

Back in my room, I lay on the bed, flipped through the TV channels to see if there was something on. There wasn’t. I called home and gave in for the night, and went to bed. Shattered again.


I awoke at dawn with the weak light of a misty morning shining through the gap in the curtains. I am at the Holiday Inn again, some three years since I was last here. Outside the window, there is not a breath of wind to move the waters of the marina. I listen to the workers outside, ready for another hard day road resurfacing, which is happening to the road outside the hotel. By half six work in is full flow and rest impossible.

Misty morning, Imjuiden an Zee

I meet Rune at breakfast, he knows the way to the office, so after eating I let him drive me, so I can learn the way. Once there I find an office with my name, or at least my role on it. But I have to share with Rune, and our new assistant when he arrives from Manchester just before lunch. The day is spent discussing roles, and responsibilities, and then introduction to poor Dave who does not know what he is letting himself in for.

We have filled roles for lunch, and plenty of strong coffee, and so we continue after lunch, as from this office in a week the next stage of the project will go live. As for me, I have been at full throttle for months now, and people all seem to be telling to take things easy now. We shall see.

At five, we decide that is it for the day, and drive the two whole minutes to the hotel, make sure Dave has a room, and then go to our rooms. Me to write endless e mails and letter. And listen to the radio. Time seemed to pass. Outside it was foggy. Sounds were muffled, but still a helicopter was circling overhead; what were the chance for some sleep at some point?


Another grey morning, and the noise I thought was the shower dripping was rain falling onto the balcony outside. Welcome to spring in Holland!

We meet up again at seven, drive to the office and go through it all again. At ten I have a meeting, and that takes the rest of the day. Tasks pile up as the meeting progresses. Sigh.

Chris takes us all for lunch at a local swanky fish restaurant. It is very posh, and we are in our working clothes, but they seem to ignore that. I can state that the garlic baked shrimp was stunning, and just needed a glass of red wine, but being halfway through the day, I made do with a diet coke.

Back to work, back to the meeting. Time passes, afternoon passes into evening.

We drive back to the hotel, and arrange to meet up at seven for dinner in the hotel. I have steak and local stupidly strong beer, the others have burgers. It works well. It has been quite a day, and for the next few months this will be my world.

Welcome to it.

Monday, 23 March 2015

Monday 23rd March 2015


Second day of rest.

Day of gardening.

Review of football.

And on the seventh day of labour did Jelltex rest? No, he did not. But he he did begin the day with coffee and watching the previous day's football.

At half nine, Jools went to Ashford to a bead fair, and I said I would stay home and mow the lawn.

History walk round Dover Harbour with John and Uncle Jeff

And I did go into the shed, and under piles of pots, trays I did indeed find the mower. I did fill it with fuel, and then began the pulling of the starting chord. Accompanied by much swearing. On about the tenth pull, it fired. And died. But the next pull, it was roaring. Well, not roaring, but making a noise loud enough to wake any sleepy heads living in the neigbourhood.

Up and down I went, taking the top off the grass, and removing most of the sycamore saplings which now infest the lawn after the tree was cut down. We will be fighting that battle for years to come! I then actually finished the job by getting the shears out, and trimming the parts that the mower could not reach. I followed that up by an hour of sawing branches. Phew. Must be time for a brew, and I rewarded myself with a couple of blocks of dark chocolate and sat in the garden chair surveying my work. And it was good.

History walk round Dover Harbour with John and Uncle Jeff

Jools came home at half twelve, we had scotch eggs for lunch, and another mince pie, before we set off for the harbour to meet up with a couple of friends who were doing a guided walk. At two a group of about 20 had arrived, so we set off while Jeff spoke at dept about the history of the harbour and its buildings. Sadly, after an hour, Jools was getting cold, and as we were back near the car, we bailed and went home for warming coffee and the last of the mince pies.

History walk round Dover Harbour with John and Uncle Jeff

On the radio, the 'big' game was nearing its end, with Man Utd beating Liverpool 2-1, and 'Stevie Gee' sent off after 38 seconds. Or it could have been 42. Of 34. No one seems too sure. Still funny though. He later appologised, but not for the foul, but for being sent off, or I could be hard on him on that. Anyway, they lost, and are now 5 points off becoming the 3rd loser, or forth place as it is also called.

Spring time in the Jelltex garden

We had chorizo hash again for dinner. Always a popular dinner in our house. By which time the day was fading, and we both seemed tired, so the day once again faded out to bedtime.

And this week, back on my travels, off to Holland for a few days and meetings.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Sunday 22nd March 2015


First day of rest.

Only no one told Mulder, who decided at five in the morning, that would be the best time to try to get into the wardrobe. Now, we know he's not the brightest spark, and so lacking thumbs with which to grip the handles, he just banged the door. Again and again. Sometimes he just wakes us up to attention, which is nice. It is getting light, which means I give up sleep, and lay in bed listening to the birds waking up outside, before the clock ticks over to six and it seems time to get up.

Saturday morning walk in a Kentish orchid wood

Coffee. More coffee and croissants make the world seem better. And then I look at the the weather forecast. Outside it is glorious, the sun shines from a clear blue sky, but the BBC reckons it will cloud up soon. So, abandoning the idea of a lazy morning, we get dressed and dash out to one of the lesser know orchid sites, as, well, best check on spring's progress in the world of orchids. The A2 is quiet, but even still it can be a bit of a racetrack once the duel carriageway opens up after Lydden, but we turn off, head down the valley below, up the other side, across fields, through the empty arch of the old Alkham Valley line, across more fields, through a wood before finally arriving at the parking place.

Saturday morning walk in a Kentish orchid wood

Desperate bleating fills the air, and a small flock of sheep are heading our way; what could it mean. The stop ten yards away, all bleating loudly/ One yew comes forward, and two small black lambs scamper from the lea of the hedge in front of us, they want to suckle, but their Mother wants them well out our hungry gaze. The bleating stops, and we turn and walk up the bridleway and up the hill.

Early Purple Orchid Orchis mascula

Everywhere thousand of bluebells are shooting up, soon the wood will be carpeted by them. But soon enough the spotted rosettes of Early Purples and I think a few Lesser Butterflies can be seen. The Early Purples number in the dozens, and having not seen the display here until they had pretty much died off, we want to come back once they are in their prime. Or at least I do.

Orchid rosette

As we walk back down the hill, the sun goes behind a cloud and it is like someone has turned the colour knob down on a TV, as everything suddenly becomes so muted. I had decided that we should go back through Barham, a bit of a diversion, but I wanted to see ith the Nailbourne was still flowing, as it seems ages since we have had any rain.

It seems that this is the pause before nature burts forth in full spring mode. The colours are vibrant, at least of the grass, but trees are still mostly skeletons, although the tips of the smallest branches have a hint of green growth, giving a hint of spring. Next weekend the clocks go forward, with it we will have lighter evenings, and darker mornings; at least for a time anyway, as the seasons change ever quicker.

Saturday morning walk in a Kentish orchid wood

In Barham, indeed the Nailbourne is still in full flow, maybe a foot or so deep, and flowing fast. I stop to take a few pictures. Not that different from this time last year, exept the water isn't coming up through the playground of the school and there are no sandbags around. In fact with the daffodils out, and the sun back out, it looks wonderfully spring-like, and a place that would be wonderful to live, a little way away from the Nailbourne though.....

Barham, Kent

We go back via the pet store, as we are out of birdseed. We do enjoy seeing the wild birds in our front garden, and the badgers when we are up when they call, so somehow we spend £80 on peanuts, sunflower hearts and other stuff.

Barham, Kent

Back home we unload the car, have yet more coffee, whilst outside, as predicted the skies cloud over and soon a light drizzle is falling. I have the radio on, Danny Baker, Fighting Talk and then the live football begins, and it is also the last weekend of the six nations egg chasing. So much sport. In the end it is a wonderful afternoon's sport, with three great games of rugby, England just missing out on the title thanks to a resiliant display from France. Ireland with the title, having scored more points than both England and Wales.

In the football, City were playing Forest, and with just 8 games to go, and playing another team in the top 6, this was a must win game. City play really well, and run out 3-1 winner to be end the day three points behind the leaders and in 4th.

We have more pasta salad and cold sausages for dinner. All prepared and served in less than 5 minutes. It is great. And after washing up, it is dark outside and nearly eight in the evening: where has the day gone, and why am I so tired?

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Saturday 21st March 2015


First day of Spring.

Last day of the working week.

End of days. Possibly.

Yes, the day of the spring equinox, when day equals night. And the day of a solar eclipse. Although, total eclipse was not visible from Kent. Or England. Or Scotland. But from the north of Scotland it would be 98% total, whilst down here in Kent is would be 85%.

But some fool (me) had arranged a meeting between nine and ten when the peak of the eclipse would be just after half nine. Silly me. However, looking out the back door, just confirmed my fears and the forecast, as all we could see was solid thick cloud from horizon to horizon.

Partial solar eclipse 20th March 2015

There was still two hours to go, maybe it would improve? It didn't. I kept going out to look, but as the disc of the sun was obscured, it got darker and darker, but no gaps in the cloud. The cockerel up the street was confused and was crowing almost non-stop. At half nine, the wind dropped, and there was still no gap in the cloud. The meeting I arranged, well, only two of us turned up, and so I managed to end it in 20 minutes. So, allowing me to see the sky darkening.

On TV, live folm from the Faroe Islands, and in a plane above them, showed totality, even if from the ground nothing of the eclipse could be see either.

The day progressed, more meetings, more mails, more phone calls.

Until at about three, I decided I had sent enough mails, it was an hour later in Denmark and Holland, but I kept my phone on just in case of emergencies. I put on the TV to see what was one. And there really is nothing quite like daytime TV for reminding you that even watching paint dry is more entertaining. Channels of crap. Dozens of channels of crap. Someone must watch it, I did find myself diverted by Storage Hunters again, only to find them bidding on boats, I guess at Lake Mead, gambling thousands of bucks, knowing nothing about boats, hoping to make a profit.

I hit the off button.

Once again the light is fading. I make a coffee, sit on the sofa with the cats looking at the birds in the front garden. The weekend has arrived.

Jools comes home, I have made pasta salad for dinner. I open a bottle of red wine, fry up some bangers to go in the pasta. Perfect.

The evening petered out once again, with The DOn waxing about plants, ponds and stuff. Gardening eye-candy.

Friday, 20 March 2015

Friday 20th March 2015


And like that, normality returns to life. I have a day at home, working from home. Jools leave for work at seven, I put of the bins for collection, have breakfast and just before eight switch the computer on.

The day passes quickly, with me catching up on paperwork, more organising. Lunch came and went, I sent out more mails. The day passed and afternoon turned into evening.

We have kofte kebabs with some spicy rice thing of my own invention, made with herbs and spices found on the shelf. It is all rather nice I have to say.

Top of the Pops from February livens things up, right from when I really was getting into music, those were the days, if looking very dated now. The Vapors looked cool enough, but even Turning Japanese betrayed their roots as being managed by Paul Weller's Dad. After watching the documentary on Blondie last year, we now know that they were high on Drugs by the time Automic was a hit, and it looked like it to be honest.

What was that, oh just another day whizzing by, but tomorrow is Friday, the end of days, and then its the weekend, probably......

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Thursday 19th March 2015

Tuesday (again)

One thing I forget to mention was that when checking the news online in the morning, I saw that Lufthansa pilots were going on strike on Wednesday. Now, as my flight home was a Lufthansa one, I was concerned. I contacted our travel coordinator, but until the flight was cancelled, noting could be done about getting me on another flight. Mid-way through the afternoon, Lufthansa texted me to say that my flight had been cancelled, and click on the link to make alternative arrangements. I clicked on the link and got a message saying my flight did not exist. Not a lot of help.

Evening walk round Schwarzheide

So, I contacted the coordinator again, she had not left for the day, and managed to get me on another flight, but even better was that is was a direct flight, although it left Dresden earlier, I would be in London early! A win/win thing then.

Evening walk round Schwarzheide

So, panic over.

I went out for a walk that night, as the twittervese was alive with the news there was a major electromagnetic storm, so the Northern Lights might be seen. I went out, but I could see nothing, and the lights from the nearby BASF factory were bleaching out the stars that were out anyway. I took my camera and got a few shots.

Evening walk round Schwarzheide

And as for the football: well, City had an early goal chalked off, then we fell a goal behind. We equalised in the 2nd half, then as the game went into injury time, we conceded again. I switched the computer off in a right hump, moaning all the time as I cleaned my teeth. So, imagine my surprise when I checked online the next morning, we had scored an even later goal to escape with a point. Oh well.


And I am awake at six as the morning creeps round the side of the curtains; trucks are rumbling on the road outside, so, I think I should have an early breakfast, then have a shower, pack and all the other stuff. I go down and see plenty of people munching away. I find a table, a pot of coffee is brought over. Fruit and a roll filled with Nutella will do for me. I go online back in my room to check mails, there is nothing much to do, so I thought I may as well head to the airport and write a report from the previous day's work.

Outside it was already 15 degrees and getting warmer. Sun shone through a haze, driving was wonderful in the sunlight and being so warm. Although the traffic hammering down the motorway at speeds approaching 130mph has still scary. Not being in a rush, I take my time, only venturing into the outside lane when I overtake trucks so the sport billys can zip by.

The drive is through thick forests, and across lush countryside. It is very nice, although in places traces of the old East can still be seen, but for the most part it looks just like any other part of Germany.

It is just half an hour to the airport: I drop the car off, it is checked, I sign and that is it. In the terminal, there is almost no one about. I mean it never is busy, but there is just three flights until late afternoon, and I have pretty much the whole concourse to myself. Just two Lufthansa flights are going, and the Cityjet desk is unmanned as yet. I sit down to read more of Dear Leader. Two hours before the flight, the desk opens, I check in and take myself through security. There is just as few people there as well. A couple of the shops were open, in a brave show of optimism. I write my report, read some more and people watch. About 40 of us had gathered for the flight, which meant it was about half full.

It is delayed an hour, so we board at just before two and are soon lifting off into the blue skies. Soon a haze covers the land below us, and that is how it stays for most of the flight, getting thicker as we near London. The Essex coast is glimpsed below, but cloud is still thick, until we drop through it as we are turning near Battersea ready for the bombing run down the Thames on final approach. Familiar buildings and sights are seen, I take no shots as I have so many already.

And we are down. I see I have 50 minutes to get to Stratford for the quarter to four train, so I'm in no hurry. I let the other passengers off first. Through immigration, I grab my case, make my way to the station for the train to Stratford. It is busy, but not rush hour busy, so I look out the window at the haze that is muting all colours, and almost hiding Canada Square, which is not a bad thing. I have time for a coffee and a bun at Stratford, with ten minutes to spare I make my way to the platform, just as a Eurostar thunders through. It really was going some, and then all is quiet again.

There are seats on the train, but the greedy stupid people have spread their stuff out, trying to keep their double seats to themselves. Bugger then! I stand and smile as we had out through Essex, under the rush hour traffic at Dartford, under the river and into Kent.

At Ashford, once some of the greedy stupid people had gotten off, I had a seat, so I relaxed, closed my eyes for the final part of the journey.

Dover was dull, misty and chilly, just seven degrees, feeling like winter again after how it was in Dresden that morning. I flagged down a taxi to take me home, getting inside at just gone five. Time then to feed the cats, make a cuppa for when Jools came home half an hour later.

It feels like another week done, although it is just Wednesday evening.

That night, Citeh become the 4th and final English club to be eliminated from the Champion's League: how does that sit with the self-proclaimed best league in the world? Not very well I think. Oh well, there's always next year. And the year after.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Wednesday 18th March 2015


Sunday ended with me in a faceless hotel room in London’s Docklands, but began with me in Chez Jelltex, all lovely and full of cats.

It was a grey day, with a cold wind blowing, so after a huge dose of football from MOTD and huge bacon butties, we did some gardening, planning the ferns we bought the day before. Digging the them in watering and anticipating their bushy growth in the shade of the house. The cats were unmoved, and left us to it.

Now, I have not seen Nan since Christmas Day. I know, I am bad. But then I have been working away a lot, and the weekends just seem to slip through our hands. So, I girded my loins and went with Jools to see her. She is stronger, tardy and in good form, but still deaf as a post. She is OK, other than the usual stuff, wanting to die, the food is rubbish, and she needs to go for a poo.

We left after an hour, Jen had arrived, so three visits in a day, not bad for her.

We went back home for sausages and chips, the sausages the first batch of the year seasoned with wind Kentish garlic. And they were mighty pungent I can say, I was tasting them all evening.

Oh yes, evening. Evening and the trek to London, in what should have been a straightforward train trip to Stratford, across to the airport to the hotel. Only the high speed line was shut, the other lines into London were no good. So, that left me with the replacement buses, or Jools taking me to Ebbsfleet. So, up the A2 and M2, dodging roadworks and mad drivers. It was getting dark, so we took our time, and made it by half six. I got out, grabbed my cases, and went into the station to find a train was due in 15 minutes.

All the trans were rammed, with everyone using those who would have ridden on the trains from Ashford. We all squeezed on, and as it was only a 11 minute trip to Ashford, at which we all popped out.

The usual trip across London to the airport, then to find the hotel. Given the fact we went past the hotel in the train, it should be easy. And I guess it was, only there are roadworks, and traffic was mental, and I could find no footpaths to walk on. And then it started to rain. Perfect. 400 yards, it all it was, and once I crossed the road, I found the way, and the hotel was where it should be, only there was a staff shortage. I wait for ten minutes to get my key, Or card.

I can’t get the wifi to work. I give up and go down to the bar to have some dinner. It is impossible to mess up nachos, and yet they managed it. The cheese was not cooked, and it was cold. But its food. So I eat it, make two bottles of London Pride vanish. Back in my room, the free wifi has expired, so I sign up for another day of paid wifi, send an e mail and that is it, for three quid.

It seems the aircraft have stopped making noise outside, so I take me to bed.


Quarter to six, the alarm goes off. I was already awake anyway, worrying I would sleep through the alarm. Outside the traffic was already building, and it was raining. So, I pack, brush me teeth, and set me off back to the airport,. I dodge through the traffic, get to the airport, check in but leave one of my boarding passes in the machine, I go through security, and then can have breakfast: scrambled eggs and smoked salmon. And two huge cups of coffee.

There, I felt human again.

I wait for the flight, but wearing my new project jumper and a fleece. And with the heating on full, I was soon sweating for England, so I strip down to my t shirt, but then I have my trolley, by camera bag and now a huge jumper to carry, not enough hands. Or space. The flight is called, I walk to the gate, realise I have only one boarding card, not one for the connecting flight, so they print me out a new one. Sorted.

We board, the plane taxis out into the mist of London Monday morning, the engine roar, we take off, and London vanishes. In fact I see nothing on the flight until we are on final approach, and we come through the clouds and pass over a motorway. I swear, that once we land, the taxi around the airport takes nearly as long as the flight, be park at some godforsaken corner of the airport, a bus takes us to the terminal. We pass right by gate A10 where my next flight is leaving from. I think about asking to be dropped off, but we keep on driving.

We get out, I walk through the terminal, through immigration, through another terminal, through security, where, although I did not know it, I leave my passport. Down a lift, along a really long corridor, up some stair, through another terminal, turn left, through another terminal, down some stairs, past some more gates, and there was the gate, just as boarding was about to close.

We climb on another bus, head out to a different corner of the airport. I check my boarding pass and realise I don’t have my passport. The bus takes me back to the terminal, my name is being called, I tell the people on the desk, somehow my passport is brought over in a few minutes, I make it on the final bus to the plane..

It wasn’t so much a flight, as a hump. 40 minutes, with 25 minutes taxiing around the airport prior to taking off. Time for a coffee though. Down below the low sun throws long shadows over the land, and to my surprise there is snow in some fields below.

View from Schloßstufen, Meißen

I get the hire car, I drive to the autobahn, and then onto Meissen as I had hoped to get into the cathedral. I knew where to park, right by the river next to the main square. I pull on my camera bag and begin the long walk through the cobbled streets and then up the castle steps. A right climb it was too. I guess the cobbled streets must wind their way up here somehow, but I guess it must be 50m above the street when I reach the old drawbridge, gasping for air. I survey the scene and take a shot. Or two.

Meißner Dom

Across the main square is the cathedral, I am hoping it is open. I walk round it to the western end, the door swings open, into the small cloister and into the cathedral. It is just 4 euros, I pay the money and enter. It is stunning, and there are just six others to share it with.

Meißner Dom

I rush round getting my shots, using both cameras. I think the shots come out really well, and finally happy with at, and as the doors were being locked at four, I slip out, walk back down to the car for the drive through the rush hour traffic and to the hotel.

Meißner Dom

Another 40 minute drive to the hotel, check in, and its dinner time already. I decide I deserve burger and fries as well as two dark beers, its been one of those days.

Meißner Dom


Oh my word: spring in Eastern Germany. Its not just mild, its downright warm. The sun is out as I wake up, already climbing in a clear blue sky. Such a shame then that I am going to be spending the whole day inside, working.

I have a shower, feel almost human again. Get dressed, and head down for breakfast. The hotel is having a Subaru dealers team building event; never knew there could be so many car salesmen! Hardly a table at breakfast. But I have some fruit, a roll and head to the factory through the wonderful fertile countryside.

I arrive at the factory, get my work bag, gird my loins for another day of battles.

Its not that bad I guess, but I’d rather be walking through the countryside taking photos, or with the cats. Or with Jools.

It is St Patrick’s Day, and the Germans don’t seem to care, just getting ready to drink their own normal brews. Quite right, there is no place in society for green beer. So, lets just say, I will join them for some dark beer, and a chicken salad. And an early night, or an early night as early as it can be with City fighting for three more points on Yorkshire.

And in a minute, I will go outside to see if the northern lights can be seen. Fingers crossed on that one….

The 18th March sees me pass the milestone of joining the working week.

The 18th was a Monday in 1985, and I began work at Buxted Poultry in Flixton. It was, in fact, not what I had hoped I would be doing. Two weeks previously, I had talked myself into a training course for a secondary window company. A week’s course will food at Hedley House, and it all sounded so wonderful. Until on the next Monday, the 11th, I began to cold call. In half an hour I was totally fed up, and jacked it in. I got an offer at the chicken factory, accepted, and went the next Monday.

For two weeks I sat on a stool, whilst the chickens whizzed past me at eye level, dead, plucked and chilled, and I had to turn their wings over. It was dull work, and I got RSI, but at the end of the second week I got a bulging pay packet. OK, so this is work? So, I stuck at it. Soon I was given a cushy number packing finished product, only drawback was it was in the chiller, so cold. But have another £4.20. A week.

But I could listen to the radio, daydream, and not get RSI. I made friends, earned money and got ideas above my station.

A job was advertised, as a QA inspector. Or really, a QC inspector, but I thought I could do that. I didn’t get it, but must have impressed the QA Manager because he promised me the next job. As there were just five people in the section, it could be years before a job come open. Next day, Mike came to ask if I was still interested, I was. Go to kitting to pick up a white coat and notebook in the morning. On the job training begins right after.

So, it was a Friday. I remember that, I handed in my blue boiler suit, got a white coat, a notebook and a set of pens. I went to the section where I used to work, with everyone noticing my white coat. All eyes were on me. I was now on the same level as my old bosses. In time, I grew into it, and had a love hat relationship with the job. But after 18 months, I asked to move to another section, as I had to cover overtime on a Friday, and the petrol I used cost more than I earned. My boss refused. I said I’d resign. I had to write a resignation letter. I wrote one, in felt tip pen on the back of an inspection form. SIGNED he said. So I scribbled my name.

Next day I was picking up my blue boiler suit. Mike gave me a trumped up written warning. Which was nice. But I was marked for bigger things. Once my three months warning period expired, I was made into a charge hand, in charge of my friends. Oh that was fun. But, I was bored. I was planning on joining the RAF, and indeed, the day I was offered a salaried position with the factory, I got an offer from the MOD. No choice, really. I told the factory I was leaving. They got the hump, then I managed to break my thumb, have ten weeks on the club, watch the world cup from various pubs around the town, before I took the shilling in September.

Things were never going to be the same again.


Sunday, 15 March 2015

Sunday 15th March 2015


The sun of the previous three days hid behind a cloud pretty much all day, and as such, the temperature plunged too. And with an easterly wind, it seemed like we were back in winter.

Mulder woke us both up at ten past five, bless his little heart. He did not want food, but attention, and not getting it from the sleepy heads, was making his own fun by chasing his tail or some imaginary creature. I looked on the window sill where he was taking a breather, it was not quite dawn so I switched the light, he looked at me, panting and meowed. I was wide awake now, and so I went down, fed them all, and put on a pot of coffee.

We got dressed and headed to Tesco, it is some weeks, maybe months since I last went. We needed little, milk and a few other things. Our basket was full mainly of beer, which I clearly thought we needed more of. We did get a pack of croissants, something we have not had recently, so back home we brewed another pot of coffee and warmed the croissants through. Lovely second breakfast.

It did not seem like the weather for going out and doing stuff, and with a hooooge afternoon of sport, and knowing that I would feel sleepy something about kick off time, we decided to do some chores for the rest of the day, and me to listen to the football.

Crystal Palace demolished QPR in the early game, then Villa killed Sunderland in the main game, at the same time as City were playing Derby in the top of the table clash. Villa scored four goals in the first half, doubling their tally of away goals for the season, and City, despite controlling the game in the first half, and taking a 1-0 half time lead, they allowed Derby back in it, and the game ended in a 1-1 draw, with City probably seeing it as two points lost. But, still very much in the hunt. In the late game, Burnley beat Citeh 1-0, and in the egg chasing, Ireland lost to Wales and England beat Scotland, so setting up a great last weekend next week.

As the football played out at Turf Moor, I cooked dinner, chorizo hash, which as ever is wonderful. The early start, thanks to Mulder, meant by eight we were sleepy, and so the planned viewing of Nightcrawler did not happen, but its there for next week. A little after nine we headed to bed.

And tomorrow, the travelling begins, with me heading LOndon in the late afternoon as I have an early flight to catch on the morrow.

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Saturday 14th March 2015


Last day of the working week, or first day a long weekend. Or first day of a short weekend. Or all of them. Well, as I look to begin another four weeks, probably, of traveling, and due to the fact my flight on Monday morning so early I can't get from deepest Kent to LCY in time, I am going to have to stay in London on Sunday night, as as the high speed line is closed for repairs, it seems that a straightforward journey to LCY will become an adventure, last many hours, and involve Jools having to drive me to Ebbsfleet to catch a train from there. I say all this as I decided that I would only work part of Friday in the case, and so, once Jools went to work, I put the computer one, answered mails, tried to make calls, but no one was picking up.

I work to ten, then pack up, round up my cameras and begin the short but dangerous walk down to the station. Now that the high speed trains stop there, no more having to trek into Dover, but it does mean, when I don't have the car, having to walk down the hill to the station, along Station Road, across the A258 and onto Martin Mill, along roads with no pavement. This time, at least, the car drivers game me room and I did not feel too much in danger, and the Deal Road was free of traffic so I scampered across and down to the station. But I had mis-calculated the time it would take, and left myself with just three minutes to get a ticket and get onto the platform for the train.


But, all done, and despite huffing and puffing with the effort of those last 400 yards, I made it, and slumped into a seat and looked out the window as we headed up the bank, then into Guston Tunnel and down into Dover. The train part-filled up, and again at the two Folkestone stations, but there were seats for everyone, and so I had the seat to myslef, I spread my stuff out and looked out the window at the spring;like weather and its effect on the Kentish countryside. It looked so vibrant, so alive, and yet here I was heading into London.

Lombard Street

You know the journey by now well enough, I know I do. I even get out at Stratford so I can catch the Central Line to Bank, where the first port of call would be. Normally, when we travel to London, its at weekends, and The City is empty, most shops and businesses are closed and the streets are deserted. Nothing prepares you then for the sight and sounds as you walk up the steps from the Underground and onto the hard streets and everything seems so busy. Lombard Street, leading from the Bank of England down towards The Monument, is lined with parked vans and trucks, people are rushing round them, trying to get somewhere else. Fast. I stop to get my camera out, take a shot.

St Clement's, Eastcheap

I looked at the A-Z and thought the walk to St Clements might be 15 minutes, but then the City is not as big as it seems, and after a minute of so, I was turning down the lane and at the other end was the church. The pavement was busy, but i barge through people who did not want to let me in, and once through the doors to the church, all is calm and quiet. Hard to believe that we are still in the same city.

St Clement's is best known for being in the children's rhyme, Oranges and Lemons. It is also a fine and simple Wren church, and what was until a couple of years ago, a dark and lonely place, has changed into a light and airy place, now that half the floorspace is offices for various charities. Not ideal I know, but the church will be looked after now and used. I am met by a fine warden, who tells me the history and things to look at. It is the real pleasure of visiting a church in the people who are its lifeblood. She is a volunteer for friends of the City of London Churches, a fine organisation whose website helps me plan these trips.

St Clement's, Eastcheap

As I am taking shots, a large walking party with a guide come in. I try not to be upset, people are at least coming in, and if I wait I will get the shots I want. In the end we leave at the same time, and with a few yeads to walk to the steps down to Monument station, I enter the subterranean world once again, populated mainly by more City types rushing around, and confused tourists looking at maps.

It is only three stops to Blackfrars, and then a couple of minutes walk to St Andrew by the Wardrobe. And yes you read that right, by the wardrobe. As before the great fire, the monarch kept his fineries in a building behind the church. The fire took the wardrobe away. And the church. But it was rebuilt by Wren, of course, and now St Andrew sits, elevated, overlooking Queen Victoria Street, a modern dual carriageway, and I am sure drivers hardly give it a second look.

St Andrew by the Wardrobe, City of London

Inside are three wardens, who I chat to, and we get diverted into a long chat about churches, Kent and orchids. I could have stayed and talked much more, but, I get one, take my shots. I must admit, being left a little cold by St Andrew. It was rebult after the war, just the tower and walls are original Wren now, and inside is nice enough, but is all wood and to me seems plain. The ceiling is wonderful though, all moulded plasterwork, and despite being a reconstruction, is wonderful.

St Andrew by the Wardrobe, City of London

I now have an hour before my next port of call, and a meeting with a friend, and two more churches, one being the oldest church in The City.

Just up to lane from St Andrew was a fine looking pub, opposite what may or may have not been a Weatherspoons, anyway, the tradition looking pub was always going to win. The Cock Pit is built into one of the corners of a triangualr piece of land, and so space is limited, but they had Adnams and Timothy Taylor on tap, and food. So I ordered a sandwich, and a pint and being less than a tenner, I had to order a second pint to take the total over that for a credit card sale. I was willing to take one for the team. The Timothy Tailor was exceptional I have to say. Up on the TV above the door in the corner, they were showing the armed services thanksgiving service from St Pauls, which I realise is about 200 yards from where I was sitting. Indeed as I watched film of helicopters coming in for a flyby on TV, we heard them through the open windows of the pub. We even got to hear to Tornados before they were shown on TV for the next fly past. Realistic 3D sound!

I did worry about how I could get over the other side of Ludgate Hill, as the parade was going along there, and I had to be on the other side to meet my friend, Henry at St Barts. The parade had finished, and there was a crossing over which I did get over the other side, and quickly disappeared into the alley the other side up Old Bailey to Holborn Viaduct, and finally up Guiltspur Street to the Henry XIII gate of St Bartholomew's Hospital.

I was go early, and had rattled around the other churches, I was half an hour early, so I did what I always to, and people-watched. We were there for two for a guided walk around the hospital and surrounding area. Henry arrived at five to, and we joined the tour, which was informative, but if truth be known, not that good. We did get entry into the Great Hall in the North Wing, which was probably worth the fee, but sadly she would not let us take photos of Hogarth's paintings on the grand staircase, as the camera might damage their fabric. So she said. Bah.

Once the tour moved into the modern areas of the hospital, we took our leave, and put our heads into the hospital church, St Bartholomew the Lesser, but there were people inside, so we decided not to go further to take photos, but the other side of the square, once back through the gate was St Bartholomew the Great, the oldest surviving church in the City, and a gem. You access it through an ancient gate, but the upper part is a modern construct I think, even so, the church, the surviving part of a monastery, is Norman, and a delight, wonderfully ancient and pretty unspoilt. I took loads of shots, of course, before as I looked at my watch, and saw it was gone four.

We retired to an Italian place over the square for coffee and cake, before we all went in different directions, me by taxi to St Pancras, trying to get the quarter to five train back home. Although the traffic was awful, the driver managed it, and I got there with ten minutes to spare, I dashed up on the platform, and onto the train, getting a seat. Good job I did, as before we left it was standing room only, and by the time we left Stratford, there were people standing the length of the carriage.

I closed my eyes as the City slipped away behind us. Once out of the tunnel in Essex, the sun was setting in the west, the water in the marshes reflected the sky perfectly. Traffic on the bridge at Dartford was nose to tail, but moving. Not moving as quick as us.

I arrived at Martin Mill at six, Jools was there to meet me, dropped me off home whilst she went to the chippy. Seemed the right thing to do. Nothing beats fish and chips, straight from the paper with a huge cuppa.

Friday 13th March 2014


In so the forth day of the week, working from home once more, and I guess the novelty has worn off. Although after the next four weeks away, I will long for a day at home with the cats and radio blabbing in the background. Another spring day, even warmer than Wednesday, I make sure the heating is off, and open the back door. My back is still painful, so I try not to sit at the table so much when working, getting up, walking about, making phone calls and obeying the cats demands for food/strokes/water/whatever.

I book travel for week 13, which takes me almost up to Easter, really? Where did the year go already?

The morning passes into afternoon, I spend the day writing reports, swearing that my notes are not so comprehensive as I had wanted, the final one, covering five days work, is very thin on detail. I expect that no one will ever read these anyway. So, I let it go.

The afternoon wears on, over in Denmark people leave off. I look at my task list, it seems I am up to date, so I sit with Molly on the sofa and watch some crap daytime TV. Or try to. I mean, there are dozens of channels of crap. But somehow, Storage Hunters takes my fancy, and then some nature program with a guy looking for a new kind of piranha. It was in Brazil, I think, and the scenes of life beside the river were wonderful.

Before dark, I plane the three ferns we had bought, they look fine under the living room window, we think we need another one. Or two. But bigger.

In the evening, it was back to 1980, as the regular TOTP came on, Kenny Rodgers at number one, really? Really? And the words to Coward of the Country, much darker than I remember. The Beat were joyous though, and even for a metalhead as I was at the time, Hands Off, She's Mine is great.

Oh my word, it is not nine yet, and we are so tired again. Is this getting old, going to bead earlier and earlier, so we can get up the next morning, earlier and earlier?

Seems so.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Thursday 12th March 2015

And today I will ponder on how things change. Sometimes when we are in the eye of the storm, and all around sees like chaos and all is lost. We can't see the way forward, and at times life seems without hope. Then the events leave us, all alone, ready to pick up the pieces of our shattered lives, whilst all around us all has changed. And yet, with each step, with each day, things do get better, there is no clear plan, but we see a job that has to be done, and we do it. And we move on. And with each step forward be leave behind the terror and the tears of the past. And before we know it, we are walking across the sun-kissed meadows of summer, and all the pain and heartache is behind us.

I say this, because a year ago, Jools was without a job, having been let go, in how shall I say it, less than wonderful circumstances. And despite the tears and the anger that all brought, we, Jools moved on, at first to Brett, then back to the LFB for a few months, and now to Woodings. And all that seems a lifetime ago, but with this blog, reading it the other day, took me right back there. All in all, Jools had two weeks unemployed, before she moved to Bretts and discovered all the skills she always had, we transferable, and began to feel much better about herself, not that was ever a problem, but, we just assume that because we have been at a job for many years we are stuck in a dead end job with no prospects, there can be a bright new future out there for any of us.

And we have done up the house, started on the garden, got a new TV, thinking about decorating another room or two, the fountain from Footballer;s Wives is be installed in a couple of weeks. And then the spring proper will arrive, and all will feel shiny and sparkly again.

And for me, last month marked another anniversary for me, a year since I first met the customer, and got used to the dynamic, the words and my job. And how to do it. Thanks to my colleague, Anni, I grew into the job, and am pretty happy now, and quite frankly am a little bored being at home this week now the documents are up to date. Outside the sun has been shining, the cats have been contended having me around. Next week the travelling starts again, and my life will become a mix of waiting in airports, living in hotel rooms and inspections. Such is the life of an international playboy and quality expert.


Back working at home.

We wake up to see that it looks like the sky is on fire, as the sun nears rising and the night gives way to day. I have taken so many dawn shots this year, I am happy to sit and watch it this time. Jools makes coffee, gets ready for work. I surf the net looking at the big news, which on this day seems to be a TV presenter, punched a colleague and was suspended. Now that this man was on a final warning, so seems an open and shut case. But what is this, he's a national treasure, a buffoon, but a lovable buffoon and friend of the Prime Minister, Mr Dishface, and writes a column for one of Murdoch's rags, so there is a campaign to get him reinstated already. Well, we happened to watch the latest edition on Sunday, and its OK, I mean, three men of a certain age acting like dicks for the camera, but its the same, and has been for a decade, reminding me of Last of the Summer Wine, but with better go carts.

The Daffs of St Margaret's

All bread and circuses of course. Lets concentrate on the Dick in jeans when the the biggest lie was admitted to. Match Commander at Hillsborough, David Duckenfield admitted the fie which grew as official policy in blaming the fans for their own deaths, and allowing that to be the case for 22 long and painful years. Many relatives died without the truth being admitted to. But lets all concentrate on the Dick who punched a colleague, thats clearly far more important.


I work, but am in some pain, as my back is killing me. Late in the afternoon I think that maybe a walk will help. I walk down Station Road and into the village, then along the track leading away from Dover Road. In the end I give up as my back is hurting so much. However, nature is alive and well, plants and trees are growing or waking up everywhere. The countryside stretching over to Swingate is just rolling green countryside. It all looks wonderful.

Early evening walk up the hill and back down again

I walk back home, past the gardens with their crowds of daffodils bobbing in the gentle breeze. All very springlike.

Jools returns to brighten the house and my life. We have crispy jacket potatoes for dinner, simple by lovely, full of over-buttered mash and crispy, crispy skins. Perfect.

Night falls, the badger comes calling. He seems so small, we think he cannot get a full fat ball in his mouth, so I crumble a couple up. He eats them both up. Sorted. Chelsea lose to PSG, in hilarious fashion, making me glad I don't pay for sky now, finding Alan Greene's desperate commentary funny enough on its own.

Time for bed, whilst above the house outside, the moon is already just half full, or just a week away from being new again.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Wednesday 11th March 2015


And what is this? Driving to the office in Ramsgate? A commute you say?

I have a carrier bag full of travel receipts and several thousand pounds on my company credit card. I was going to have to do some admin, I can't do that at home, I need a scanner and printer. Jools takes the train, quarter past six from Martin Mill, its just a short drive down the hill to the station. I go back home, have breakfast, make lunch and pack my work case. Not leaving too late, as otherwise I will get stuck in traffic, I leave just before seven, listen to the news headlines as I drive, but is all so depressing, so I switch it back off again

. The sun is shining from a clear blue sky, and it is a pleasure just to be out, enjoying the morning, even if it is just going to work. At the office, I had forgotten they are building an extension, for the extension! That may not make much sense to you, but its funny to me. Anyway, inside, there are no desks until the techs go offshore, and one of the boats breaks down, so the office is never really quiet, even less so when the builders start work at eight.

Turns out it was a wasted trip, I can't get the printer to work, for me the servers are all offline, so I allocate receipts to claims, but can't close the circle, it will have to do. It is hot now, the techs are laughing, playing music, the builders banging away, building stuff: it's their job. At half eleven, with the butty wagon having failed to make an appearance, I decide to drive home where it is quiet, and I can get a decent cup of coffee anyway.

Back home the feline welcoming committee is out in force, their food isn't fresh, or something. Bah! I say to them, they lay on their bellies and purr. Sweet cute little gits. I stroke them.

The day fades, I have more coffee, tea, biscuits, crisps. I am on a diet after all.

I have to go into town to pick Jools off the bus, but find the town at a standstill as in Calais workers have blockaded the port,a nd so there are massive queues in Dover. Which explains why Jools' bus trip home takes 90 minutes. I go to wait in the Rack of Ale, half an hour passes, I think of another pint, but Jools' smiling face round the door means I don't have to have another. We go via the old folks place, to fix the computer and to warn Dad about the queues as he's planning a booze cruise to France tomorrow. Maybe he will. Or not.

For dinner we have spare ribs and the last of the home made pasta salad. And the last of the cheesecake.

We are stuffed, and tired again. Where does the time go?

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Tuesday 10th March 2015


The alarm went off at quarter to six, but what is this, I can lay in bed listening to the radio, on how it was only fair and right the powerful should pay less tax and the poor should be investigated to claiming too much in benefits. Not much has changed in the past three months then, the Tories still blaming the poor, the sick, the disabled and elderly for the economy's problems, and lying about how in control they are of the national debt, oh yes by increasing it from £760 billion (2010). He has "reduced" it to £1260 billion (2014). Not bad going for someone who is not good with numbers eh, Gideon?

But I digress.

Yes, on this fine Monday morning, I am not travelling, I am working from home. And in fact I am not travelling anywhere all week, except to Ramsgate one day to battle the evil that are travel expenses. Jools leaves just before seven leaving me with the house and the cats. I make another coffee. Have breakfast. Stare at the work's computer and switch it on. A few mails have arrived over the weekend, but not much to worry about.

More coffee.

The days passes from moring into afternoon. I update some paperwork, file away reports in folders, all important stuff, I am sure that someone will read them. One day.

I cook pancakes for lunch, because, because I can. Hmmm, pancakes, with lemon and sugar. Lovely. I have just two, and it was lovely.

More coffee.

And tea.

The afternoon passes.

Jools comes home at half five, as the traffic was light, and so we sit down to dinner of œufs d'Écosse and homemade pasta salad. Followed by another big slice of cheesecake. Oh man, this is living alright.

AND there is football on TV for the evening, so whilst Jools shops for beads on the interwebs, I watch as Arse beat Man Utd 2-1 in The Cup.

After that very hard day, I really deserved a good night's sleep.

Good night.

Monday, 9 March 2015

Monday 9th March 2015


We had decided to have a relaxing day, as the BBC said, thick cloud, drizzle, in short neither walking or working in the garden weather. We were awake at sunrise, it was golden and beautiful. Oh that won't last long we said.

With no MOTD to watch thanks to the 'magic' of the cup. Sorry, The Cup. At nine with no sign of cloud or drizzle, we decided that it was possible that we really should put on our walking boots and go and do some stomping. One last look out of the window, still no clouds.

So, we get our boot, cameras, coats and we are all ready to go. In light of the lack of rain, we hoped that it might even be drier than it was on Friday. Over the fields to the pigs copse, still empty. We look down the lane to the dip, it was still muddy but it looks like there might be a path that could be weaved. But before then, we went over to a couple of the horse that are kept there, and fed them with a couple of carrots i had bought the day before: I bought extra just in case we went for a walk. They were mighty happy to have something else other than hay and grass to chomp on.

Down the dip, past the chickens and ducks of Fleet House, all busy looking for bugs and grubs in the woods beside the track. At the bottom of the hill, and girding our loins, up the hill the other side. We take our time, as it is not cold, warm even. So the stomping requires coats to be unfastened and regular stops to admire the views.

Then the walk along the cycle path until we turn off and take the path over the fields and downs towards The Dover Patrol Monument and the cliffs.

Sunday morning walk to the cliffs

We pass several other also out, mostly walking their dogs, enjoying the fine, no stunning morning. We pass the time in a fine manner, all expressing surprise about the lack of clouds and rain. At the cliffs, we take a look over the cliffs, it is not quite low tide, but plenty of rocks are exposed at the feet of the cliffs. Jools makes a suggestion that we should go to Bluebirds for coffee and cake. Should we? Yes we should. And do. I have tea and shortbread, Jools had coffee and coffee and walnut cake. Very nice.

Sunday morning walk to the cliffs

As we sit there, more and more people are arriving, so we take our leave, pay the bill and walk back outside.

The landscape is stunning, but it looks like the clouds are building, so, deciding to split up, Jools walks back through the village and I retrace my steps back the way we had just come.

Sunday morning walk to the cliffs

Once back home, we agree to head to a garden centre to look for some ferns. Yes, ferns. Not only did we do this, but it was my idea. How shocking is that?

We drive to the centre at Alkham, we find three small ferns, but we really want a large one for the back of the plot, so we dive to the one in the centre of Folkestone. They don't have one either, so we made do with half a dozen packs of seeds, and an ice cream each. Sadly, once through the crunchy chocolate coating, the ice cream inside was almost liquid. We dump them in a bin, so console ourselves with the fact we can have a huge slice of cheesecake when we get home.

Which is what we do.

Jools works in the garden, I work in the kitchen, making pasta salad and then preparing the veg for dinner. We have the last of the Christmas turkey, warmed up in the oven with fresh veg, roast potatoes, Yorkshire puddings. All done in 45 minutes from start to plate, and washed down with a bottle of 20011's home made elderberry wine. All very nice, but that wine is mighty strong.

The day is fading, it is dark outside, cats are sleepy. I am sleepy.

That is another weekend gone, but this week, I am not travelling. Home for the week!


Sunday, 8 March 2015

Sunday 8th March 2015


We were awoken at half two by the most awful racket. It sound like one, if not two, banshees outside, screaming and going off on one. Turns out it was two badgers having a fight. It went on for about ten minutes, jools who looked out, said they were tumbling head over heels biting each other, and rolling down the street. We did go back to sleep, but it took some time.

Jools was still awake at half five, but I did manage to got some zeds. The sun was rising, there was cloud cover, but the rising sun looked like it was setting the sky on fire, but as the sun rose, the colours faded.

What t do with the day, as last weekend we slaved in the garden, surely we deserved some R&R? Well, you will not be surprised to learn, I had a plan. A plan to visit three orchid sites, not that any would be in bloom yet, but to look at the rosettes, take some snaps, and generally be out in the sunshine.

Let the madness begin!

So, after breakfast, I loaded all my camera gear in the car and we drove the short distance to Kingsdown. I have seen the orchids there a few times, but like every year, finding the exact location is tricky, but after 'getting our eyes in' as it were, and after ten minutes we found three small rosettes. I snapped them.

Back up the narrow main road through the village, back to Ringwould and onto the Deal Road.

At Samphire Hoe, they have laid a new path, right over where the thousands of spikes grow. However, they are hardy little buggers, and sure enough, I found a few well developed rosettes, all of them Early Spider, as they were at Ringwould. As usual, there had been some mild flooding at the Hoe, but once the weather warms up, it seems to dry out, and I am sure we will soon see the thousands of spikes.

Originally, we had planned to go to Sheppy, as we have not been there for many months, maybe even a year. But due to the poor night's sleep, we decided to just go to Stockbury, call in at the Medway Services for a burger and then head home. Up the M20 to Maidstone, then up the A249 through Detling and up onto the downs, turning off parking on the edge of the road.

There is a space that has been cleared so that the Early Purple Orchids are not crowded out, so we made for there, and at first we saw no sign, but on the far side, in bright sunshine were two very large rosettes, and many, many smaller ones. There are going to be a splendid sight in about a month. We walked down the site, through the small wood and through dappled sunlight, everywhere, bluebells were shooting up, and will also be a wonderful sight in about a month, we love it here more than at Kings Wood due to the fact so few people come here.

Early Purple Orchid, Orchis mascula

A quick drive from there takes us to Medway Services: we park and find the place rammed with people! Its never like this, but after we had queued for our order, the people had vanished, like an old oak table. Burger King might be fast food, but I don't think once a month or two doesn't hurt. We did also have onion rings and cheesy chilli bites. It was to be our main meal of the day, as waiting for us at home, for a mid afternoon treat was the cheesecake I made on Friday, now all cooled down and ready for eating.

Spring lambs

Traffic was very heavy, we guessed Londoners heading for Margate to catch some early spring sunshine, and indeed once we turned off and drove towards Canterbury and Dover, traffic was very much lighter. Anyway, all we had to do was find some vegetables for dinner on Sunday, and we could go home and have cheesecake.

And the cheesecake was wonderful. Really not too sweet and full of lovely vanilla flavour.

Double vanilla cheesecake

Oh look, its three o'clock and the football is about to start. Jools takes as her cue to head to bed for a snooze, and I then sit and fret over whether City will recover from the slip we suffered midweek. No worries as after a quiet first half hour, City ran in four in the half hour either side of half time, and ran out 4-1 winners, but could and should have scored many more. Other results went our way, and we are now just one point off the top spot, but still lie 4th. Had we have won midweek, we would be two points clear. Lets hope we don't take it easy on another team this season then!

Cheesy beans on toast for dinner, played some Siouxsie and the Banshees, by eight I was shattered, and so was Jools, so wondering how I ever had the energy to go out clubbing and disco dancing, we went to bed for some quality, non-badger-interrupted sleep.

We hoped.