Monday, 31 August 2015

Monday 31st August 2015

Bank Holiday Monday And as I write this, there are several thousand feet of rainclouds above Chez Jelltex, and we are monitoring wave after wave of Thunderstorms sweeping up the Channel on a stormview site. In the distance we can hear thunder rumbling away, and this is probably what it will be like the rest of the day. A typical Bank Holiday, then?

But for now, back to Sunday.


We woke to a dull and grey dawn, but with the promise of brightness later. But also the possibility of thunderstorms, so maybe a little of something for everyone. I make bacon butties with the extra smoked streaky I got the day before from the butcher, and then settled down to watch MOTD, which was as full of surprises as the previous opening weeks of the season: Palace won at Stamford Bridge and West Ham thrashed Liverpool at Anfield. Amazing. Later in the day, City travel to Southampton for their first televised game of the season, and we travelled in more anticipation rather than hope. But we shall see.

Once the football had been watched, we went out laden with carrier bags to do some autumnal foraging. Yes, it is that time of the year when we can get lots of free food and make jams/chutneys/jelly and/or wine. We have been making notes of where we saw sloes and blackberries growing through the summer, so instead of walking across the fields of beans, we turn down the narrow footpath to the farm at the bottom of the dip and up the other side, at least for a few yards, and on one side the hedges are full of over-ripe blackberries, so full of juice and sweetness that picking them makes them burst. Perfect. But after picking those, the rest up the hill were still green and stunted, Jools thinks there are some more around the top of the field, so I say I will take the path across the fields to Fleet House and double back as there are blackberries along that track.

Over the large field of flax: interestingly, I watched a great show about flax last week, how it helped the war effort and how hard it is to extract the fibre from the stalks then make yarn out of it, but it is this that make parachute straps, webbing and ropes that helped win the 2nd world war. Anyway, some are still in flower, and so a long way from being ready for harvesting. The fields are beans are even drier and blacker, and still show no sign of being harvested. Perhaps they never will.

Along the track there were a few small berries, and nearly enough to fill the large sandwich bag I was carrying.

Back home, after coffee, Jools makes an apple and blackberry crumble, with the berries we picked, and the windfall apples she found. I topped up the apples with a couple of cookers taken from our own little tree, and they were great. As is the crumble, smothered with huge amounts of thick fresh cream, and accompanied by a huge cuppa. Just as it should.

In the afternoon, I stay home to listen to the City game on the radio, whilst Jools goes to see Nan. City are awful, have a man sent off and lose 3-0. Its our first away defeat of the year, but it was going to come sometime, I guess. I think some lessons will have been learned, and they will come back stronger.

In a bad mood, I decide to mow the lawn, this also to avoid the cats, who pretend they cannot tell the time and insist it is dinner time, despite bening only just three in the afternoon. I know the noise of the mower engine will give me, if not the neighbours, some peace and quiet. And after half an hour, I am sitting on the patio sipping an nice ice cold beer, and Molly joins me to remind me about dinner. As if i forgot.

I do feed them, then prepare our dinner, which involves getting the pasta salad and cold breaded aubergine out of the fridge and pouring more drinks.

We listen to David Byne on the radio, playing some of his favourite tracks, and very illumiating it is too, as you would expect of course.

All through the day I had been looking at the storm tracker, and as the day turned into evening, stormclouds began building over Brittany, then drifting along the Channel until we could see the flashed of lightning, illuminating the clouds in the most spectacular way. I did try to take shots of the lightning, but only managed a few poor efforts, this being the best of them.

Thunderballs and lightning We did go to bed knowing that an even larger storm was drifting up the Channel and would be with us at about midnight. Until then, then....

Sunday, 30 August 2015

Sunday 30th August 2015

Summer is coming to an end. No, it really is, we may be dreaming of long hot days still, but it is now dark before half eight, the hedgerows are heavy with ripening fruit, and the telegraph wires are full of swallows looking at their travel plans. In for months it will be two days before the end of the year. Yes it really is true.

Quite where the year has gone, nearly nine months gone is a mystery to me. But of course I can account for six of those months pointing out the endless business trips I did. And now they begin again, this week will see me returning to Arhus, and next week back to Holland, and then, and then, who knows?


Autumn Lady's Tresses Spiranthes spiralis Seeing as it was two days since pay day, we had the usual big monthly shop to do. Mostly cat food, cleaning stuff and the like, but it dies mean up and attem at six in the morning, heading for Whitfield and Tesco. We fill a huge trolley up with stuff. Round and round we go, and in the end I think giving up the will to live, we rush to the checkouts so we can leave for another month. Back home we unpack, then I make another coffee and warm the croissants, as its been weeks since we had any.

Autumn Lady's Tresses Spiranthes spiralis It is some time since I mentioned orchids: the reason for that is the local council has been mowing the best local location for Autumn Lady's Tresses, the final orchid of the season, so for the last two weeks I have been dealing with county and local councils to get the grass not to be mown until the end of September. I think I have done it now, so driving to the cliffs and parking beside the camper vans, I can see from the car some tiny white spikes already showing.

So, I am hopeful that there will be loads, but what I saw from the car was the best corner of the site, and the rest of it is still recovering, but there are spikes everywhere. I get some shots, but will have to return as there was just one spike fully open and in a full spiral. Pretty though.

1306 "Mayflower" at Shepherdswell, Kent From there I drive to Preston as we need meat. Lots of meat. The guys are in good spirits, so I get stuff to fill the freezer up with, and with a wave , after paying the bill, I drive home for an early lunch as I have a date with a train! Yes, orchids and trains, just like old times!

We munch on cheesy rolls filled with marmalade coated ham, which was really as good as it sounds. And then it was train time.

1306 "Mayflower" at Shepherdswell, Kent Jools drops me off at Shepherdswell so I can snap it coming out of Lydden Tunnel, as she wants to go to Folkestone to get some electrical bits and bobs. I am first here, but as the due time gets nearer, more and more folks arrive, indeed, just before twenty to two, more people come from the East Kent Railway to see the train.

From the bridge, I can see her headlight at the other end of the tunnel. And once she is halfway through, we can hear her working hard up the slight incline. She emerges in a cloud of smoke, and then coasts beneath us and up what looks like the hill towards Snowdon.

I have to wait half an hour for Jools to collect me, so we go home so I can check on my shots and also to listen to the football. City are not playing until Sunday, so it will be a stress-free days for me, with more than likely the sofa calling me.

I am socomfortable on the sofa that I forget the time and so miss the Thumper which was also due to be passing. It was one of those days.

I cook breaded aubergine, which we eat with more of the pasta salad. It is all very nice indeed. We listen to the radio, drink coffee, and outside darkness falls. Another day slips by.

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Saturday 29th August 2015


And on the fifth day the sun did shine, and there was celebration on the face of the earth. But poor Jelltex had a morning of meetings to look forward to. Jools left for work at half six, leaving me with the cats.

So, I sit at the dining room table for five hours, in meetings, making phone calls, it is the modern way. However, at twelve I have to bail out of the meeting as I have to walk into town for a dentist appointment. The possible cavity has been playing up, and more investigation was needed. Or so I thought.

Friday afternoon walk to the dentist. And the Rack of Ale Anyway, I get out the old walking boots, pack my camera bag and with the sun high over the yardarm, off I go, grumbling that I really have better things to do. I don't really, but hey. After about 5 steps, I forget the grumbling and am enjoying the walk already, even with the walk back up Station Road into the village, which usually has been huffing and puffing, but as with my last walk, there seems to be much less effort used, and I am powering up. Well, kinda.

Friday afternoon walk to the dentist. And the Rack of Ale Past the village shop and through the churchyard, across Reach Road, through the housing estate and I am into the countryside, striding out across the field of dried beans, dodging the dog shit on the path, but looking forward to when I reach the cliffs.

Through the small wood, which still stinks of fox, still, at least they are not being hunted, and across one then the other rough track which leads to the lighthouse.

Friday afternoon walk to the dentist. And the Rack of Ale And finally down the narrow path beside the lighthouse and in front of me is the steep slope leading to the cliff edge. And yet, its not as I imagined, as being a sunny and warm day during the school holidays, there are dozens of people about, and there are people everywhere, not huge crowds, but then again not the peace and quiet I had hoped. However, the views and warm sunshine make for it being pleasant enough. The French coast can be seen, as well as buildings in Calais and the villages south of there. I hope to snap a Chalkhill Blue or two, but the breeze is keener up on the cliffs than I would have expected, so I had to make do with the views and walk.

Friday afternoon walk to the dentist. And the Rack of Ale In a bid to get away from other walkers, I head inland to take the cinder path and then the Cliff Road along the track of the old railway. I am an hour ahead of schedule, so I take a seat and see a Small White to snap. I amble on, crossing the main cliff path again where most people take the steep steps to the Nation Trust place, but I keep going, with the view over the docks opening up to the left and below.

Finally, I take the narrow path back up to the top of the cliffs, only for the path to go back down again, under Jubilee Way and down to East Cliff and so into the town. From there it is a short walk to Castle Street tot he dentist, I wait a while, before I am called. And once again nothing is found, flossing and the such is suggested.

Friday afternoon walk to the dentist. And the Rack of Ale The plan now was for me to pass some time in The Rack of Ale until Jools picked me up on the way home from work. As a bonus, they have a barrel of Plum Porter which should be on, so I stop at the bak, get some cash and walk up Biggin Street to Ladywell and the Rack.

Sadly, the Porter wasn't on yet, but they have others to try, and a good supply of pork scratchings to much on too. The third pint is the Porter, and it is glorious and fruity. As you would expect. Jools arrives at half four, I really have had enough, but Jools wants to try a cider, so I have another half, just to be sociable.

Friday afternoon walk to the dentist. And the Rack of Ale And if it were a cartoon, the gauges in my eyes would show I was full!

Jools drives us home, via KFC which we are going to have for dinner, with the pasta salad I made the day before. And for some reason I am no so tired. So, so tired.

Friday, 28 August 2015

Friday 28th August 2015


It is said, by some, that we can never go back. And indeed this is mostly true.

It all dates back to last time I was in Ramsgate, and I took my old boss out to breakfast. As you do. Anyway, he said he would return the favour next time I was in town. So, after exchanging mails we agreed that it would be Thursday.

This meant alternative methods for Jools to get to work in Hythe, then me braving the rush hour, as it is, to Ramsgate.

It is some months since I travelled to the office, and it seems the manic drivers have not changed, but I dd get to the harbour in one piece, gain access to the car park, and then I had to find a place to work. THere is a new manager, so I introduced myself, he said to take a spare desk in his office.

I worked for a while, then went to meet up with old friends, only to find them miserable in the extreme.

In the extension office next door, I did find my Jesper, who was as good as always, and despite be tweaking his cracked ribs, it was great to catch up with him and Malcolm. My old boss, Ian, came in. And it turned out he is on a health kick, and cannot have a fry up, and anyway he has work to do. So it is all scrubbed.

I walk back to the other office, and it is all so depressing. I decide that nothing can be gained from working here, and I may as well go home. So, after chatting with Peter, it is what I do; load the car and drive back home, arriving home just before eleven, and as ever, I am hungry.

So I make a sandwich from the left over focaccia and have a big brew before getting back to work. Of course, feeding the cats comes first.

Outside the rain hammers down like it has for days now, soon the garden is swimming in rainwater. The cats sit inside, looking out. Meowing.

In short, I have realised there is no place for me there, I have so outgrown those I used to work beside and consider friends. They have no idea what I do now, nor do I sometimes, but I tell Peter that other than a social visit, there is no need for me to ever come back. Which he accepts.

Jools get the bus home, and I collect her from town, but it means a late dinner, and so we are eating chorizo hash at seven, and after tidying up, its nearly eight. Where does the time go, people?

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Thursday 27th August 2015


50 years plus one day.

Situation normal. Yes, here I am working from home once more. Back in the distant past, after a birthday, let alone a significant one, I would be waking up with a hangover. But seeing as I went to bed having supped just two pints in the evening, I was as right as rain, and fighting fit. Jools and I drink coffee before she gets ready to drive to work, and I make ready for my second coffee and think about getting dressed.

Is it autumn already? I ask this as for the second day in a row, the rain falls from the sky like a waterfall. The cats have breakfast then sleep through until half four, at which point, of course, they are demanding food. Of course they are. I spend the day working at the computer, and in the fallow periods make a batch of focaccia bread to go with the insalata caprese we are going to have for dinner. Soon the smell of the garlic and proving bread is filling the house.

Being at home, I can listen to a lot of radio, and by lunchtime I had listened to Tuesday's Radcliffe and Maconie show, including my namecheck: I had written in to the show the morning of my birthday asking for a record to be played. And then forgot. Only to be tweeted by my friend Sami that the radio had just birthday checked me, and how awesome it was hearing the name of someone she knew being said.

The rain continues to hammer down all afternoon, in a break in it, I gather a handful of raspberries and with blueberries, banana and leftover grapes make a smoothie. Makes a change from the grapefruit segments which is my usual fruit of choice, this seems like a luxury.

In the evening the rain does clear, but seems way too cold to be sitting outside on the patio. Overhead the three-quarter full moon shines down through fast moving veils of cloud. And on the radio we listen to Man Utd score four and enter the promised land of the CL group stage.

And that was it, really. Another day, another dollar.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Ten Years

Ten years ago today, I was flying back from Vegas to their home in Arkansas with my two friends. I was still employed by the Ministry of Defence, although that would be coming to an end in September. I had been on paid vacation since the end of June, and I was having the time of my life. I was, also, 40 years old, soon to be unemployed and had a mortgage to pay. And I suppose the other thing was that I had no idea what I was going to do next. Or wanted to do next.

In fact I have gone through my life not knowing what I wanted to do with my life, other than being a train driver, which I have done very little about, so that I have made bombs, found sub-sea volcanoes and put up windfarms quite a series of mistakes, rather than unfortunate events. At times, I have had the time of my life, visiting some of the most remote areas on earth. And Leeds. Meeting and working with some really great and interesting people. And again others who you would not want to speak to on a bus let alone be stuck with for eight weeks on a small survey ship, yes, I am talking about you.

And then I found Jools, or she found me. Or we found each other. Doesn't matter which. I moved to Kent. Started working offshore. Was grumpy. Earned lots on money. Sold my house. She sold her house. We bought the ugly house on the cliffs. I got headhunted. Moved to another company. That went bust. Was unemployed. Worked in boxes. Left that. Wind farms!!!!

And that is it, ten years in short. And there was beer deliveries, a chemical delivery driver, unemployment. Cats. Cats. Cats.

But once I got out of the survey industry, I became happier, learned to love life, stop worrying and rediscover photography and all that. There may have been football, and orchids and churches and trains and cats and cats. Lots of cats.

For those of you who were here from the start: thank you. For those that have joined in along the way: thank you too.

Lets march on together into the future and discover universal love, acceptance and live very happily ever after.

Wednesday 26th August 2015


50th birthday

Cease fire, we're going in!

I wake at six when the alarm goes off, outside it is still dawn, showing how old the year is getting. Indeed, in four months it will be Christmas Day. Apparently. This I know as today is my birthday.

Jools wishes me happy birthday gives me a kiss, and once downstairs, there is a bag of gifts for me. She makes coffee and watches over me as I open each of the presents and her card. There are cards from other friends and family, which I can now open too. Each gives me joy that they have remembered.

Jools has to leave for work, and indeed I have work to do, updating KPIs and checking mail. However, at ten I set an out of office message and decide I should maybe go for a walk as bad weather was due to be sweeping in by lunchtime.

Speckled Wood Pararge aegeria I just walk over the fields to the butterfly glade, just to see what was about, and was rewarded with a few Speckled Woods, Brown Argus, Red Admirals, Large Whites and Common Blues. I get a few shots but I look to the north west and see huge black clouds approaching. So I turn for home, and am rewarded with a few large raindrops as I make my way back across the fields.

I have to field a call from Mother, which I suppose is to be expected, and as long as certain subjects are avoided, we remain on civil terms, which is what happens.

Post arrives and I have more cards, and again really nice that people have remembered.

Common Blue Polyommatus icarus At half twelve Jools comes home, and we ponder what to do the rest of the afternoon. Outside it is monsoon-like, throwing it down with rain. There is no point in going anywhere outside, or getting to anywhere that is inside, as this would mean going outside. We have fishcakes in rolls for lunch, then I am given the choice of what to do, so I choose to watch Bull Durham. Which is what we do, and whilst on the sofa, and the rain hammers down outside, we enjoy the film and I sip very expensive whisky, which makes me feel like a millionaire.

At six we climb into our wet weather gear for the dash to the car outside, and then we can drive to town to meet with friends. We find a parking place right outside the restaurant, which is always nice, and good as it is still hammering down outside. We have a table booked in Blakes, which seemed to be a nice place, and none of us had been in either been in or for over 25 years. If at all in my case. The beer is good and the food is OK. Sadly I chose the burger, which I really must get out of the habit of having, but hey.

Celebrate with friends As we go to leave, a car driven by Belgians stops to ask us directions; the best way is for us to show them to their hotel, so we take them on the big circle that is the one way system, and once outside it, we drive back home, under what are now almost clear skies, and the moon is now three-quarters full. Where did the month go?

City were playing at Rotherham in the League Cup, or whatever it is called this week, and we run out 2-1 winners, but the big story is one of our players walking out. Oh dear, Lewis!

I resist another whisky, and instead I go to bed at normal time, with the wind howling outside, and Jools and I trying to find room on the bed between three sleeping cats.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Tuesday 25th August 2015


And what is that sound? Oh, that was just the weekend whooshing by!

As sure as day follows night, then Monday morning follows Sunday evening. Although, in truth, I do not have the same feeling of dread that I used to have when I worked at the chicken factory back in the day: Sunday evenings used to be horrible times, with just tens of thousands of chilled chickens to look forward to the next 5 days.

Jools goes to work, leaving me with the cats, whilst outside the promise of of heavy and thundery downpours from 'any time now'. So I power up the storm watch program, and look to see if we are in for a storm. This is not one blip over Western Europe: shurley shome mishtake, as Sean would say. But, as the morning goes on, there are pings as storms build over central France and move up to Belgium before moving over the Channel. They never quite reach us, as the wind seems to change and blows them north and east up the Essex coast, and I just hear the distant sound of thunder. But we do get get torrential rain.

I mean it pours and pours. The cars look out the cat flap, mournfully, a questionable meow asks if I can stop it: I can't.

I get down to work, and the day pans out as usual, with meetings cancelled and mails to answer. The project I have been working on has been closed, and the official announcement is made. I did some of that! quite a thing I seem to be doing.

Darkness falls just after eight, and I put on the football on the radio. As I sit on the sofa trying to keep awake, a juvenile fox comes to feed in the garden. He does not notice us just a few feet away, and carries on munching on peanuts.

50 not out

Today I am 50. Or I will be at twenty to eight this evening. Born right in the middle of an episode of Top of the Pops. Not that Mum was watching it, she was at the sanitarium in Great Yarmouth, as all the other local hospitals were full, something to do with the baby boom or something.

Growing up in Oulton Broad, my birthday sometimes fell across the Bank Holiday weekend, and back then they had the Red Arrows flying as part of the local regatta. Obviously, the Red Arrows only came to celebrate my birthday. Of course. My birthday also meant that the endless summer holiday was drawing to an end, and sometime next week or the week after we would have to return to schools for another nine months of teachers trying to fit stuff into my head. Whilst i filled it with other stuff, mostly dreams, but occasionally Dr Who, Dad's Army or Survivors. It really did fill my thoughts for years, Tony. I spent days imagining what it would be like to be alone after most of the people had vanished!

And then the years began to pass ever more quickly: for my 15th, my parents arranged a party at a school where Mum worked, all soft drinks, crisps and pop music. Clean, sparkly days. Not sure about 16, but I am sure that for 18 I went out with friends so we could legally drink in pubs. Not that that had stopped us before hand, but now we could prove that we could buy a beer.

For 21 my friend Simon came round and, these days it would be called ironic, but we had a party with sandwiches, sausages on sticks, trifle as well as a cake, and on the cake were Subutteo figures enacting Noriwch scoring a goal against the old enemy. As you do. Just before joining the RAF, I took my parents out for a meal, to a posh place we used to like in South Lowestoft. They made me buy wine and three courses, but it was great and made me feel all grown up. If for a few hours anyway.

Certainly the first couple of birthdays in the mob involved beer, and lots of it. I seem to remember, of very blurred, drinking snakebites made from Special Brew and scrumpy and then laced with double vodkas at Marham in 1991. That I cannot remember that night, except for a few fragments is probably for the best.

During my time in the RAF, I spent my birthday in Vegas in 1999, it was two weeks into the det, and after 14 twenty hour days of working and drinking, we broke, and we fell asleep in Club Rio before nine in the evening on the day itself. Man, that hurt.

This is my account of my 40th spent in Vegas, that also hurt!

So, I turn 40 today; and I wanted this to be as memorable as possible. I thought it would be great to go to The Hilton to visit the Star Trek experience. They have a replica of Quarks bar, and that is where we were going to have breakfast. We caught the monorail that runs from the MGM all the way to the Hilton. The food in Quarks was very good, and the guys I think were impressed with the surroundings. Later Cheryl and I went on the two motion rides that were on offer; both were very good, the second one was in 3D. In the meantime, Jason had won a $100 on the slots, and was very happy.

We made our way on the monorail down to the Flamingo. We walked through that casino and across Las Vegas Boulevard to Caesars Palace.

We wandered around Caesars making our way to the Forum Shops. I wanted to show them the moving fountains, and from there to the largest toy shop in the world, CFO Shwartz. The mall had the feature of a painted ceiling that looked like a blue sky; and was very effective. There was a crowd around the fountain when we arrived just before four. The lights dimmed, and the animatronic statues came to life, and told a version of the Atlantis story; along with pyrotechnics and large video screens. Afterwards, we went to a place called the cheesecake factory for something to eat; and we sat people watching as we ate.

The toy shop is just is few yards further on, and is dominated by a huge wooden horse over 100 feet tall. The ground floor is full of plush animals, and each of the three other floors is full of wonderful things. After all this walking and window shopping, we were a little fatigued; so we decided to head back to our hotel room to freshen up before heading out for the night. Back at the MGM, I thought I would go and find a restaurant I had eaten in before, as we wanted to do something special that night. I left Jason and Cheryl to go up to the room, while I headed back into the heat and crowds on the strip. I found the place, the Beachwood Grill, and booked a table for half eight.

Dinner was fantastic, and I think it’s fair to say, I made the right choice in going there. I had also been to a specialist cigar shop to get a couple of cigars for the evening for Jason and me. After having a couple of nice malts in the MGM, and then we headed back to New York New York to go back to the Bar At Times Square. It was even more hedonistic than last night. The show ended at two, but we heard the sound of a band in the Irish bar opposite; we headed there, Jason and I leaving cigar smoke trails in our wake. The band was a rock one, and they played all favourites which went down with the crowd.

I had to go to the restroom, and I was walking across the casino floor I witnessed an assault. A guy leaped out on two black women walking along, and swung his fist into the face of one of the girls. I was shocked, but myself and others ran after the guy, and held him until security arrived. The women told security what happened, and then they changed their mind and dropped charges; which was odd. The security guy said he though it might have been an argument between a call girl and her client of a bad drug deal. Whatever the reason, the girls walked out into the night, and I had a story to tell the guys. We ended up at a bar back in the MGM at daybreak, having one last whiskey before heading up the lift to our 23rd floor room; and hopefully a dozen hours sleep.

The steaks were 32 ounces big, and the chips, salad came on different plates to the meat, as it overhung the one it was on.

And here we are, 50 and still going strong. Jools is due home in an hour and we will head to a country pub for lunch before visiting Nan. And this afternoon, meet friends for dinner in town. As you do.

Monday, 24 August 2015

Monday 24th August 2015

In three of the last four yeas, the time of year has seen me descend into allergy related hell, with regular bouts of what I thought was at first flu. As I now know what the warning signs are, and I have the drugs to combat it, I saw am worried, as I have been so allergy free, for the most part for months now. I have not had to go to the doctors for a new prescription since early spring, and I can now kill an attack by taking milder drugs once the itchy eyes start.

Sunday morning walk to Windy Ridge On the whole, however, I would rather not have the attacks at all, and I can just go about my life generally not sneezing and being able to breathe, I mean, who wouldn't?

Sunday morning walk to Windy Ridge All this preamble is because yesterday evening, after a day of sniffs and sneezes I got blocked sinuses. This caused a head ache and achy eyes. This morning, a couple of anti-congestion pills and I'm right as rain, and angry with myself for not taking them yesterday so I would have had a better night sleep. But, there you have it, the wisdom of older age.

Sunday morning walk to Windy Ridge But that was yesterday and this morning: what about Sunday I hear you ask. I said I hear you ask!


Already there was a cooler feeling about the day when compared to the day before, but still, if we were to go for a walk, then we should do it sooner rather than later. So, after coffee, we got ready for a quick walk up to Windy Ridge, for the exercise and to checks on the autumn fruit, which should be ripening and be nearly ready for picking.

Sunday morning walk to Windy Ridge It might be sunny, but with the keen breeze, that meant no butterflies, which I suppose would be reduce my dawdling with the camera and maybe we might some walking down after all. Across the fields, past butterfly glade and the pig's copse and down past the farm and up the now dried track towards the wood at Windy Ridge. We saw nothing amazing or unusual, but just revelled in the wonderful early morning ligth, and passed the time of day with others who were out doing much the same as us.

Sunday morning walk to Windy Ridge In the wood, there was no sign of many fungi as normal, but our main aim was to scout the area to the north of the wood as we have found that an abandoned and now ruined church lay somewhere between here and the Deal road. We will have a hunt in the next few weeks.

Sunday morning walk to Windy Ridge Midway through the wood, we cut back south to the road past the actual Windy Ridge, a cottage that the owners used to run a plant nursery from, and then down the hill, along another track and back up to the field overlooking our house. It might have been barely an hour, but we had been out, done some snapping, and now very ready for our bacon butties.

Sunday morning walk to Windy Ridge And indeed soon the house is full of the smell of burning pig again, and once cooked I can slump on the sofa and watch the previous day's matches on catch up. And in that way, the morning passes.

Jools had been round the raspberry canes, and had picked about half a pound of ripe berries for each of us, which we had for lunch, smothered in fresh cream. As you do. There really is little better thing than to eat your own fresh raspberries.

As ever int e months between August and May, the afternoon was spent around football, either following games on the interwebs or on the radio. Its a hobby, and almost free , unlike if you subscribe to BT or sky

. At four I began to cook dinner; roast beef, Yorkshire Pudding, roast potatoes and steamed veg. And at six it was ready, and for the occasion, I opened the bottle of Brunello I bought when flying back from Copenhagen. It was as nice as a thirty quid bottle of plonk should be.

And that just leaves us to watch the Final Cut of Bladerunner to round a fine day off.

Time to die!

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Sunday 23rd August 2015


In 1976 Britain sweltered in extreme heat for weeks and weeks through July and August. As a ten year old, it was wonderful, day upon day upon week upon week of endless sunshine and sonderfully warm where the only thing to do was to spend every day on the beach diving into the foamy waves to cool down. Isn't what every little boy wants? I think so. And the heatwave went on, lawns cracked due to the lack of rain, baths were banned as water shortages came into effect, and we all had a healthy tan.

Yesterday was like just one of those days. And it was too much!

There is a joke that the shortest amount of time that can be measured is when weather changes and the average brit says it is too cold to when the warm weather arrives and we all quip, its too hot.

Walk to the cliffs to inspect the Autumn Ladies Tresses By the time we were out of bed at six, the day was already very warm, outside not a breath of wind stirred the plants in the back garden and the sun beat down from a cloudless blue sky.

After coffee I drove into Deal to go to Sainsbury's, and along The Strand the sea was dead calm with the pier perfectly reflected beneath it. But I had no camera with me, so drove on to the store, whisked round getting what I thought we needed before loading the car and driving back home.

For a change, I mean it is weeks since we had these, I made bacon butties for breakfast, and soon the house was full of burning pig fat, which is just about perfect. Unless you're a pig of course. And then we had to decide would be carry out the plan for a long walk. Jools decided she did not think it was a good idea, but as I had managed to waste the whole afternoon the day before by watching daytime TV instead of doing something more constructive, I said I would.

Walk to the cliffs to inspect the Autumn Ladies Tresses I had received a call from KCC on Friday where I again described the orchids, where they were and that the grass needed mowing, just not in August and September. The lady on the phone seemed to understand and was keen to help, but did say that from her records that the area had been mown again that week.

Walk to the cliffs to inspect the Autumn Ladies Tresses So, I knew it was a fruitless task, but the weather was glorious, so I decided to walk to the cliffs.

One mistake I did make, apart from not leaving until half eight, was theta I had left my camera settings under-exposing my macro shots by 3 stops, which means unusable images, but hey.

The route you all know well, as do my feet: along the lane at the end of the road, across the fields, still fill with increasingly dried beans, to the pig's copse and the butterfly glade. The glade was full of butterflies, so many, some of which I snapped, and most of the shots are so dark....

Walk to the cliffs to inspect the Autumn Ladies Tresses Anyway, down the dip and up the other side, and was it my imagination of was I huffing and puffing less, even in the very warm sun? I think so.

And then to the top and along the cycle path, with views down to Kingsdown, showing that the harvest is almost complete.

It was a long slow climb upto the cliffs, but once standing on the edge of the cliffs, the views over the Channel to France were wonderful. France was clear enough as were the ferries plying their way across.

Jools met me, so we had a drink at Bluebirds before driving back home, as in her mind it was just too darn hot for any more walking. She may have been right too!

Back home we had more cool drinks, but some reason, I got very sleepy indeed, and as the radio burbled away with the first game of the day, I took to the sofa to snooze the game through. I missed little as it was a dull game, and Man Utd failed to socre. By the time I woke up, it felt like my head was full of cotton wool, and not very nice at all. Still, three o'clock approached and kick off in City's game with Stoke.

It was an exciting game, Stoke taking the lead and then we pulling a goal back, then in the 2nd half it was all Norwich, but the ball wouldn't go in, so it ended at 1-1, which all in all, I would have taken at three. West Ham lost 4-3 at home to Bournemouth, gifting the visitors three of their four goals, so changing the manager isn't always the answer.

We had pizza for dinner. Pizza and ice cold beer. The thermometer had six of the seven balls dropped, which sounds odd, but it does mean it was the hottest it has ever been in our living room.

My woolly head was not helped by the beer for sure, and despite a strong cup of coffee, by half eight I was struggling to stay awake. So, just after nine we gave up and went to bed, not until we watched the news headlines at nine to see the shocking scenes from Shoreham where a vintage jet aircraft crashed onto a busy road. Horrific.

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Saturday 22nd August 2015


And what is this looming on the horizon? Oh, its the weekend, but before then we have to get through Friday, aka the day of meetings. And what I learned from this very morning is never to believe anything what you are told, even in a minuted meeting. I say nothing, but maybe half of it. So having got the information, I act on it the way I have been told, and guess what, it was all bollocks. Or at least half of it, and in following the list of instructions, I manage to piss off various people.

It came as a relief to find that the second of the major meetings had been cancelled, and so it was a relief with all work having been done, I could switch the laptop off. And although I intended to go out for a walk, as the morning had been glorious, but first I had my attention taken by an old episode of Time Team, and by the time that finished, cloud had rolled over, and what with it being three in the afternoon, it was really too warm for walking, so I listened to some stuff on the radio, and waited for Jools to come home sometime after half four.

Small Tortoiseshell Aglais urticae I sit out on the patio, watching various butterflies land on the plants we have, snapping them when I could. I take a call from my friend Gary saying the butterflies he bought over the web had hatched out, and was now father to a fine Swallowtail butterfly. Could I bring some cow parsley? Now, cow parsley is one of the most abundant plants in the countryside, but it is very late, and it took some finding to find a couple of plants that had not gone to seed. Why did he need it? for the butterflies, as they are fussy eaters.

Large White Pieris brassicae So we arrive, and in a box filled with plants of various types which the butterfly did not want, was a single brilliant Swallowtail.

Swallowtails are rare in the country, and are protected, so this is a continental cousin, bought legally on the web. I try to get shots, but it is my first time with a flash and lightbox, but I think one should be OK> In fact, they were all over-exposed, but I could rescue them, although not perfect.

Swallowtail Papilio machaon ssp. gorganus We go home for dinner; breaded chicken, corn on the cob and yet more leftover pasta salad. I think we can see the end of it now, which would be nice. It only takes half an hour to prepare, and with a fine bottle of ice cold beer, we sit down to dinner just before seven.

By now, the day was very warm indeed, even with the sun beginning to set in the east, the day just got warmer and warmer. At nine, one we had watched The Don, I go to sit outside to watch the stars come out, it is still warm, but a gentle breeze makes it bearable. I have a whisky, and finish a bottle of 12 year old, meaning that what with it being a special week and all that, that i should really open the special bottle. Many years ago, when I worked offshore, I went up to London to buy a 25 year old Glenmorangie, and it has sat on a shelf ever since. I did try to sell it last year, but no takers. So, someone said I should save it for a special occasion, and I think that my birthday is good enough.

So, I get the box down, pull out the foam box, open that. I am now at the wooden box. That is easy and there is the bottle. 70cl, £200 worth of golden nectar. I pop the cork, pout a tenners worth and go back outside. It has a slightly smoky aftertaste, but with nutty undertones. And it is wonderful. My head is full of, yes its nice but is it ten times the price of normal whisky nice? I don't know, probably not. But it is very nice indeed.

Friday, 21 August 2015

Friday 21st August 2015


I know that the English summer has a bad press around the world, but for the most part we have long fine warm summers, only occasionally like in 2013 does it rain. A lot. Rain, when it does come, is usually in heavy showers and soon clears up again. But then, at other times, the rain just sets in and with little wind to drive the clouds away, the rain just walls. In fact on Thursday, the rain was not heavy, but fell in a steady drizzle all morning, and at times mist drifted by, obscuring the village from view. It was dull, grey and I needed the table light on to work with until nearly midday.

The day was quiet as far as work was concerned, the Danish summer holidays just seem to stretch on forever, but that will change next week as most will finally be back at work.

I worked, listened to the radio and waited on the cats hand and foot. Did you speak to anyone Jools asked me in the evening, no just to my feline overlords. Molly and Mulder eat and demad food at much the same time, but Scully has her own timetable and slept to eleven before demanding breakfast, lunch an hour later then went back to sleep. Well, she is a cat. I must have looked a bit peaky, as Molly brought me in two dead moice through the day, the second in a pool of blood by the pin. Poor mouse. I did not eat them!

Looking in the freezer, I saw little to inspire me, apart from a pack of lamb burgers: I realised I had no rolls to put them in, so I make a quick batch of dough and make a great set of six rolls laced with chilli seeds and poppy seeds. In fact they were far too nice just to put burgers in. I have one straight out of the oven, still hot for lunch, which is very nice indeed.

Jools comes home and I cook the burgers which we wash down with beer/cider each to their own. And then the evening stretches out before us. Somehow we fill it with nothing, but soon darkness falls, and as then, as way of getting us ready for sleep, we watch a documentary on quantum theory, which I follow right up until the final experiment, and then I am lost. However, we both sleep well after that.

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Thursday 20th August 2015


You know, its funny how the stress and strain of the last trip is quickly slipping and fading into the past. I mean it was only last Thursday that I had that nightmare trip back, and yet, six days at home, and with a weekend, shas made me relaxed; as has the good night's sleep I have had. And with the exception of the fact my legs are killing me from the walk-cum-slither back from the cliffs on Tuesday, I could not be better! I have what is looking like two more weeks at home, or at least all of next week anyway, then a bank holiday weekend and then maybe a two days trip to head office.

So, still home, and still enjoying it. As ever.

And in the addition of being home every afternoon just as soon as I switch the computer off, I can eat what I want, drink all the coffee I need and then on sunny lunchtimes, pick fresh raspberries from the laden canes, pour fresh fresh cream over them, then sit on the bench on the patio in the sunshine eating the, whilst watching butterflies and cats flitting about. What's not to like about that?

I did it Monday and again on Wednesday, and gave me a great feeling of being very darn lucky indeed.

Which I am.

Yesterday promised to be a very warm and sunny day, and even with the weather the way it was, my poor legs ached so much that I did not feel the slightest inclined to go for a walk, with or without a camera. Instead I was happy enough to sit on the patio watching next door's youngest son tackle the two year's vegetation in the back yard, as they are all now back from serving Her Maj in places overseas. And in thanks to the fact we have kept an eye on their place and mowing their lawn once the grass became level with the top of the hedge, they brought be a bag of German beer, which was nice. Very nice.

As nice and satisfying it was to cut their lawn, it was much more satisfying to sit on the patio with frosty glass of beer watching someone else, someone younger do the manual work in the garden.

That being said, apart from doing the latest load of washing, hanging it out, the day carried on much as you would expect. The radio played, I read, and responded to mails, did tasks and generally made the day pass in a fairly quick and painless manner. As it does.

In the evening, we came to the very difficult decision that we could not afford to go to Japan next spring, but instead we will be saving like billy-o so we can travel to the far east in the Autumn next year. We have an amount of cash to save, which we will try to do each month and see how the situation goes in January, at which point we will be in the postion to book flights and hotels and all that stuff. So, a tad disappointed, but then excited as well. Japan. Us. Next. Year. Woot!

I did treat Jools to listening to more football in the evening, so Championship football, QPR v Wolves, but just the second half.

And apart from clearing up the occasional dead rodent brought in by various cats, that was your Wednesday.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Wednesday 19th August 2015


As you may imagine, I like to take a photo or two, and so when a few months back I heard that there was to be a fly-past of vintage WW2 Spitfires over the town to mark the hardest day of the Battle of Britain, I marked in on my calendar.

And so when the week of the event rolls round, I go to the BBC website to check on the weather for the day, and it is grim. With added grim.

It couldn't really be that bad in August could it? Yes it could.

My initial plan had been to catch a bus into town, then another to Aycliffe before walking up Shakespeare Cliff and along to Capel where the Battle of Britain memorial is, and where the flypast was to be centered. However, with the weather the way it was going to be, I thought it likely that the planes would fly some distance down the coast, so if I walked to just shy of Dover, at Langdon, I would see the formation. No?


But that was to come.

I did work as per normal until half eleven and then pulled on my walking boots, got out my rain coat and set off for the cliffs. Down Station Road into the village, through the churchyard and then out across the feilds to the lighthouse and cliffs beyond.

Initially, the rain was light and it was pleasant, once out of the village and crossing another field of dried beans still on the plants, turning black in the summer heat and then into the woods as the path climbed towards the lighthouse.

Walk to see the Battle of Britain fly by Rain turned a bit heavier, and as I was walking into the rain, I took off my glasses and stumbled along. People, many people were coming in the other direction but I was alone with my thoughts. The rain was hard enough to keep my camera covered, so not to get it wet.

I walked past the Fan Bay Shelter, with people looking out, I supposed in preparation for the fly by. Up the final climb and then the port was laid out before me. It was midday, and I thought I might have an hour to wait before the flyby, so sat down on what was a dry patch of ground, but as the rain got harder, all around me turned to mud, and the water-proofness of my coat was tested, and anyway, the rain ran of it onto my jeans, which were soon cold and soaking wet. I shivered.

Away to the south, over Shakespeare Cliff, the clouds hung low and were almost black as night, I doubted if the planes flew I would see anything. At a quarter to one as the planes were due to take off from Biggin Hill I put on the big boy lens on the camera, tried to cover it up with my jacket, but rain was getting through.

Walk to see the Battle of Britain fly by People passed giving me some odd looks, but then, hey, if I choose to spend my spare time standing on the edge of a cliff in a rainstorm staring at the sea and clouds, then that's my business.

At quarter past one, I heard the sound of several large engines, I was on the phone to a colleague at the time, but as I peered into the murkiness, I saw nothing. Powering up Faceache on the phone I saw a post on the local group and it confirmed that the planes had arrived, circled and headed back. Show over.

I packed away the camera and lens, and soaked to the skin, I turn to walk back home, an hour of trudging through mud and slithering down muddy slops and avoiding dog shit in the fields near the village.

I get back at half two, and I am freezing. I should have gone for a shower there and then, but thought that changing my jeans and a coffee would be anough. It wasn't. What the whole sorry adventure had been good for though was clearing my allergy attack that I had had since getting up. Seems like three hours of rain really washes the dust out of my pipes!

I close all the windows, the back door, and still I am freezing.

I egg and breadcrumb aubergine and am frying them when Jools comes home at half five. A pint of Old Craft Hen makes me warm, as does the food for sure. Then, I have a shower and am warmed up.

It is footy season, as I said yesterday, so I listen to Man U trying to progress in Europe, whilst hoping against hope they would fail. Not that I have anything against them, it would cause consternation at the Theatre of Revised Dreams, however, they ran out 3-1 winners and live to fight another day. Perhaps.

And we head to bed.

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Tuesday 18th August 2015


And back to work, as if the weekend had never happened. As usual.

Jools heads to work, I put on the computer to attend an early meeting, only to find it had been put back an hour. As it was not seven, I think I should have breakfast whilst watching the previous night's football, especially as Chelski lost rather badly. And the Chosen One was graceless about it.

As usual.

But, I get into the swing of it, what with the cups of coffee and regular infusion of fruit. Lunchtime comes, and instead of something unhealthy, I clean the canes of ripe raspberries and eat the whole darn lot smothered in fresh cream. Yum and indeed yum.

The afternoon passes, mails come, mails go. I update this and that, all seems under control.

I know I should be doing more phys, so at four I go upstairs and dust down the cross-trainer and do a session. It is OK, not brilliant, but as it is a cool summers day, it might even be enjoyable, even if I am counting the seconds until the end of the session.


We have Italian tomato and lentil soup that I make myself, once I have opened the jars and poured it in the saucepan. We do have lots of the leftover bread from Sunday to dunk in the soup, which is wonderful.

And that really was your Monday: there was some football on the radio, as there will be for the next nine months, but I do other things at the same time, I am multi-tasking, which is nice. I am planning our trip to Open House next month, lets hope we can go to some nice places.

Is it the weekend yet?

Monday, 17 August 2015

Monday 17th August 2015


I can confirm that three nights of at least eight hours sleep, and various snoozing when needed, meant that by Sunday morning I was feeling much more like myself, which was a relief. It is so unlike me to feel so worn out, then then 24 business trips this year, and the stress and waiting around of last weeks's must have taken their toll.

First up was to sit down and watch Norwich on Match of the Day (MOTD). I missed last week's, so City's first appearance on it for 15 months, and after the win on Saturday, and the fact we are no longer being run by that 'nice' man Chris Houghton, we were on first, which meant a little bit extended hihlights and in depth analysis by Ian Wright. Ian Wright? An improvement on Robbie Savage, but then anything is an improvement on Savage. Wright did not know any of the Norwich players names, instead said pass to him, then him, then him. The only exception was made for Redmond, who at least Wright knew his name.

Sunday morning walk Having had my spirits lifted even further by seeing City rattle three past the hapless Black Cats, we could now go out for a walk.

Sunday morning walk t is true that for four months from April to the end of July, I concentrate on orchids. It may also be true, like many others, I got a tad obsessed by them.

So, with just one last species of the season to come, it means there are more time for other things like walking, gardening and the start of the football season.

And having taped and watched Norwich's first victory of the season this morning, I was free to have a wander so we could check on the hedgerow's autumnal bountiful harvest, or what we might expect.

Sunday morning walk I took my camera along just in case.

Amazingly, the beans are still in the field, and out of curiosity I tried one, so taking a blackened pod from a plant near the path, I popped it and inside were three hard beans. I tried to ear one, and I manage to make a dent! A bean from a green pod was edible, but had a hard skin which would have needed peeling if we would have wanted to eat them. Are they going to be animal food? Who knows.

Sunday morning walk The piglets were pleased to see us, squealing and running from deep insde the copse: but we had no food, and as we walked on their sequels turned to disappointed sounds.

But as ever, the view from Fleet House was wonderful.

Down the dip and on the right hand side there is a massive field of white flowers, flax. From our house it seems to shimmer in the sun when the breeze blows.

Speckled Wood Pararge aegeria Once you go down the dip, there is then the climb up the other side.

Along the cycle path, a series of horses, much like prisoners, lean over the fence looking for attention and some of those juicy tufts of grass if you would be so kind.

Holly Blue Celastrina argiolus They were being pestered by flies, and no sooner had we shooed them off, they returned.

We reached the top of Otty Bottom Road, took one long look at the shimmering of the English Channel a couple of miles away before we turned from home. My aim now was some butterfly shots.....

And back home for coffee, and then the inevitable question, are you hungry? So I make a smoothie with the old bananas and stripping the canes with fresh raspberries, I soon rustled up a fruitastic smoothie, which we both sat out on the patio to drink and enjoy.

It was tempting to relax the rest of the day, as you can never have too much relaxing. However, I had promised to mow our neighbours lawn from time to time, and so before it because a jungle again, I took the mower round and began to tame the Savannah. By the time I was finished, I was hot and bothered, and although the temptation was to go home for a beer, I had a pint of iced lemon squash instead, which was OK.

The final task was to make some focaccia bread for dinner, which is always fun, and i am now getting the hang of kneading on a oiled surface, so 15 minutes of mixing and kneading and I have a fine dough, which I pop under cellophane in a sunny spot to rise.

Small Tortoiseshell Aglais urticae I wash up, then pop Huey on the i player, as there is little better than listen to the Fun Loving Criminal do his thang on radio 6.

After just over an hour, I beat the dough down, make it into a flat,loaf, and wait for it to rise a 2nd time, by which time it was huge, and cooking it made the loaf rise to nearly two inches thick, and the smell of cooking garlic and yeast filled the house. At four we sat down to an early dinner: inslata caprese again along with the bread and a bottle of Wobbly for me. Whilst Citey ran all over Chelski on the radio, running out 3-0 winners. But by then I was on the sofa and may have missed the first 25 minutes of the 2nd half.

In the evening we discuss some serious stuff: we have been hoping to go to Japan next year, however the cost of the trip is large, and in the end we think that instead of travelling in spring we might have to go in the autumn. Even though, seeing the itinerary was exciting, with the thought that we might be able to go to those places. Or not. Even with an autumn departure, we will have to save hard, very hard.

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Sunday 16th August 2015


Back at home, and feeling absolutely shattered. And if that wasn't bad enough, I have a whole morning of meetings to look forward to.

Jools leaves at seven, leaving me to make myself breakfast like the little trooper I am.

I have a meeting with my new boss, yes, another one. And then a two hour meeting on technical issues. I am shattered by half twelve: I have more work to do, but I can't keep my eyes open. I switch off the laptop, but keep the phone on, just in case and crash out on the sofa for two hours. I had the radio on, but heard little of it. I felt little better when I woke up, however, it was the weekend, which raised a smile.

The weather was good enough for a walk, but my heart wasn't in it. We had dinner then relaxed for a while before Monty came on to tell us about his blight. Once he had finished, it was already dark outside and cool. It was too cloudy to see the meteors, so we called it a night and went to bed.


If anything, I felt worse on Saturday. Jools was concerned, but I knew I just needed rest. One thing there was no getting away from was the fact that we had to go shopping. So, we gathered ourselves after coffee to drive to Tesco. We go round gathering stuff we need for the week and beyond. We escape before half eight and are back home, unpacked and having breakfast at nine. I feel like doing little else other than listening to the radio, and as Danny Baker was back on, why not?

At eleven we had to go round the old folk's place to fix their computer problems. Only, they were not in, so we said hello and goodbye to Betty and come home.

Coffee and a bar of chocolate, then the radio goes back on for more football. It is the second week of the season, and I think, upon reflection, I would like to laze around and listen to the radio, maybe drink coffee, snooze and later, make bread.

City kicked off at three and ran out very easy winners against Sunderland, 3-1. That is much better indeed. Its funny how a football result can lift your spirits, but it does. I make some potato bread to go with the prawn stir fry for dinner, which is very nice indeed.

The evening, as the one previous, was for relaxing. We watched some semi-informative TV before bed was calling at just gone nine. Lets hope Sunday is more exciting, hey kids?

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Saturday 15th August 2015


A day for travelling back home. Laying in bed, I plan the day in front of me, and I imagine I will be home by lunchtime, maybe one at the very latest. And am also planning on how I will fill those hours in the afternoon. Oh, it would be a good day. Although, there was the thought of something Jools said when I spoke to her the night before, she mentioned something about thunderstorms on Thursday, might affect me she asked. Nah, I said, no worries.

I pack and decide to skip breakfast in the hotel, and instead make an early start for the airport, just in case the sat nav likes to take me through the city centre again. And, as soon as it gets me to turn left out of the hotel instead of right I knew it would be a trip through the city centre. Again.

At least at half six in the morning the traffic should not be too bad, should it. Or so I told myself. And it was on a glorious sunny Danish morning so the drive, even through the middle of Copenhagen was rather wonderful, and even seeing the places, churches, spiral towers I failed to visit the day before. And then I had the crisis in confidence in the sat nav. At every intersection, there seemed to be signs pointing to the airport, and yet the sat nav wanted me to keep on driving in a straight line. So, in time I decided to follow the signs, only for the signs to stop, and I had to go back to following the sat nav which was back on the long straight road.

I turned at the next junction, through a large housing estate, and then after a roundabout, the road was closed, so I had to revert to the sat nav, which lead me back to the long straight road. There were signs to a an airport, but was this the international airport, or some tiny regional one? Would I make my flight?

All of a sudden, we came to a junction with a motorway, and I realised this was the main road to the airport and Malmo. And in less than 5 minutes I was in the parking garage and sorting out the bill.

A quick walk into the terminal, to the other building, I check in, get my boarding pass and drop my bag off. Up to security and through the huge duty free shop. I decide to buy myself a bottle of wine for my birthday. I kid myself I know something about wine, and so buy a bottle of Brunello, and then think I should buy something for Jools. So, a multipack of 11 chocolate bars seemed to be about it. Chocolate which I could share of course.

Inside the departure hall, I have a coffee and some kind of sweet pastry thing. I think that I should just wander to the gate to wait rather than find somewhere in the middle of all these people and shops to sit. I have to pass through immigration, and the other side there are very few people at all. And there is a coffee shop, so I have more coffee and a slice of pizza, it was breakfast after all. Now, I wasn't hungry at all, so I follow the signs to the gate, where already we Brits were queuing up waiting for boarding.

I am one of the last on the plane, I have an aisle seat and a small bag which will fit under my seat so I am not worried. Anyway, there was lots of room overhead, so we settled down ready for being pushed off. The pilot told us that we should not walk about once we near England as there were several thunderstorms about causing turbulence.

I watch the TV screens through the flight, endless Simon's Cat cartoons which is good enough. The flight is smooth enough, however when we were on final approach, the rain is hammering down outside and we only see the ground as we are skipping over the perimeter fence. But we are down and I was in Blighty, on the final leg now.

Gatwick in the monsoon season Off the plane, through immigration, collect my bag. All going well. I already have my train ticket, so walk to the station and see the next train to Redhill was due to leave from platform 1. Once I get out of the lift, I see that there is a torrential downpour falling, like someone was emptying a lake onto the station. It was almost dark.

Sadly, I fail to look at the destination boards on trains, and so fail to get on the first train to Redhill, but there'd be another in half an hour. There is flooding on the station, and some trains are delayed or cancelled, but still I am not worried. And why should I be, I mean after this is the 21st century so they would cope with some rain, no?

Gatwick in the monsoon season The train to Redhill arrived, and there are many seats, we trundle up the main line, then at Redhill I have a ten minute wait. Thunder and lightning rumbled and flashed around, it was not dull for sure.

The train to Tonbridge arrived, and I got on along with a family. Their kids were excited to be nearly home, but not as excited as me when they got of at Edinbridge and the carriage was quiet. Except for the rain hammering down on its roof.

Rain had stopped at Tonbridge, and there was even a hint of sunshine, perfect; I'd be home soon. I saw across the station that a train to Dover was listed on platform 1, so I carry my bags over the footbridge. Once on the platform I saw that the train was listed as 'cancelled'. It was worse than that in that all trains between here and Ashford were cancelled as the line was flooded and there were 'signal problems'.

We wait around, but the staff are brilliant, keeping us informed of what is happening. We are told that buses have arrived, and one is to go straight to Ashford whilst the other is going to call at 'all stations'. I do manage to get on the right bus, just as the rain begins again, and soon it is falling as hard as ever. Driving through Tonbridge it is like we are driving down a stream, but on the motorway it was like we were thundering along a river, spray was being thrown up, and all in all it wasn't nice.

In about an hour we arrive at Ashford, to find there are no trains due, and the staff just milling around and seem to fill their time by staring at young women's legs. It is a hobby, but some announcements would be nice. That when they did make at an announcement, it was at the same time as an automated security message, so both were garbled and we failed to hear or understand either.

At quarter past three, a high speed train glides in, and it is going to Dover. We get on and there seems to be no worries any more. Indeed We pull in Dover at quarter to four, there are even a line of taxis waiting outside, so there is no delay there. What else could go wrong? Nothing. We drive up Jubilee Way and along to Deal road.

I am home in just 12 hours. In three days away, I have had ten hours waiting time caused by delays, not just just sitting around waiting for flight times and all that.

Man, I was so tired. I walk down the drive and find the back door key. I let myself in and there on the worktop is the kettle. And this means I can have a decent brew.

Friday, 14 August 2015

Friday 14th August 2015


With a start, I wake at six, look at the clock and decide I can lay in bed for a while longer. I awake again at five past eight.

Thankfully the meeting did not begin until half twelve. And so I get dressed and walk along the corridor to reception and into the restaurant for breakfast. I try to be healthy, I have a large plum and an orange before hitting the fresh rolls and finishing with a pastry. Back to my room to have a shower and try to look presentable.

For the first time I used the 'do not disturb' sign on my door so I could get some work done before deciding I had caught up with work at ten past eleven. I programmed the sat nav and at least it decided we should travel to the offices along roads I faintly recognised. I was early, so gave me chance to read up and be ready for the meeting. My colleagues arrived just before midday, so we go inside to sign in, and find we are early enough for lunch, which is always nice.

Copenhagen Pride 2015 The meeting last three hours, and we were only slightly further forward by the end of it, but hey. It happens. The meeting breaks up with hand shakes and thanks. It is half three and i am not flying out until the morning. So, this is the situation I planned for and came prepared.

Copenhagen Pride 2015 This was the 4th time I had been to Copenhagen, and yet I had not seen the city centre so none of its fine buildings. Therefore, this was much chance. I had even brought my best camera, and was now more than in the mood to go for a wander and do some snapping. I ask where the best area is to go and where to park, and I am told that Tivoli is as good as any, and all the city is within half an hour's walk. So, I program the sat nav for the centre and set off.

Copenhagen Pride 2015 It took me down wide streets, lines with cyclepaths and bus lanes, but it was all very civilised, and not like a city at all. All was well until we crossed a bridge as I neared the centre, when the two lane toad merged to just a one, and so there was a bit of a scramble to get in line and carry on. I am directed down wide streets between huge office blocks with shops on the lower floors, until I finaly see the sign for a parking haus. I turn in and much to my surprise, I find a space, the reason for which became apparent when I tried to leave, but more of that for later.

Copenhagen Pride 2015 Outside the parking haus, I see a large square in front of me, decorated with rainbow flags, balloons and other such things. This is the Copenhagen Pride celebration, and I think it looks lie fun so I wander over, and among it I find an ornate fountain, and a distance marker to what I take to me viking sites through Denmark. I take a few shots, across the square I see a road leading off, so I go to investigate. It seems to be a long street, leading through the tall town houses, which also had shops , bars and restaurants on the bottom floors. Looks interesting, I thought, so set off down it.

A walk in Copenhagen I am thirsty, so stop at a bar and order a small citrus beer, which I sit outside and sip as the world walks by. This is the life I think.

A walk in Copenhagen I carry on and a few hundred yards of wandering past yet more bars and eateries, I come to a large square, packed with people, but there is a continuation of the street the other side of the square, so after taking a few shots I walk on. Where was I going? I had no idea, but I was hoping to find the spiral tower, or the harbour, or just interested to see where the streets would lead.

The street ends, and in front of me is a huge square, most of which had been fenced off, for what I am guessing by the signs on the fence, the construction of a new cinema or something. But I do see a sign delaring this to be Nyhavn, or New Harbour. Which I wanted to go, so waiting to cross the busy road, I walk over and I see that this is where most tourists come to either eat icecream, drink beer or strum a guitar.

A walk in Copenhagen A branch of what looked like a canal ended at the square, and it was lines with brightly coloured merchants houses, and the water was over half-filled with old and ancients ships or boats. On the sunny side of the water, the quayside was chocked with people, so I stayed in the shade, as the photos looking across the water were perfectly lit.

A walk in Copenhagen I walk round and in the middle of hundreds if not thousands of people, just wandering along, some eating ice creams, some like me, snapping away.

I check my watch, just gone six, and despite having had lunch at midday, I am hungry, so decide to try one of the eateries I had spotted earlier. I fancied a burger. For a change.

So I begin to walk back, but instead of the quiet street, I realise I had stumbled on the man shopping street, full of peopl and so crowded and noisy. After ten minutes I get fed up and wander down a side streat to fnd the street I had walked down earlier. Having found that, I tried to sit at a pavement restaurant in the hope of attracting a waitress to take my order. On the third attempt, I am served and they take my order for a BBQ burger with a dark beer.

The burger is good, and sitting by a window I can see people wandering past, so I can do some people watching. That done, I realise I am shattered, so decide to walk to back to the parking garage to collect the car. It was at this point I found that the parking charge was £14 for just the four hours. But then, I noticed as I walked back, I had parked very next to the entrance to the Tivoli, which explained why it was so expensive.

I program the sat nav, and it takes me back the way I had come, before picking up a main road out of the city and out to my quiet hotel in the suburbs. I had tome to pack, phone Jools before I was almost falling asleep listening to the radio. Enough for the day, enough for the week, I just want to get home for the weekend. Outside, dusk fell with a cloudless sky and just the sound of the Copenhagen massive driving past in their souped up Ford Focuses.

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Thursday 13th August 2015

I suppose by now I should mention some more about Saturday night, and how it well and all that and everything.

After seeing someone you have not seen for 30 years, shake hands, ask how they are and what they’re doing, what else is there? Do it again and again and again. Each time you see an old friend. Or more often than not, someone you do not remember. There was lots of this.

Who are you? Well, who are you? Were you in that class? Were you? Well, I don’t remember you. Nor I, you.

Some of us were playing who the feck is that as another old person came though the door. Sometimes we remembered, most times we did not. And then people we did remember changed so much, we would have passed them by and not realised.

And then there were the people who did you wrong, or you had feelings for back then: what do you do, ignore it, pretend all the stuff that happened had not happened? Pretend the person you are kissing on the cheek once meant the world to you? Is it better just to let things be? Upon reflection, I think it is.

Somehow time passed, drink was drunk, food was eaten and I refused to dance. You need a C+E licence to move me around the dancefloor these days! So, it all came to an end, handshakes were offered, kisses planted on cheeks, and the stumble to the taxi and back to the hotel. Was it worth it? Maybe so, seeing some really good old friends, see how most have thrived since school. And for the teachers, to see how their charges have taken on the world and lived to tell the tail.

It is all done and dusted, and for now, I am done with the school reunon thing. We will all be 50 by the end of the week; so what next, when we’re 65? 70? I don’t know, but I saw enough of the old town, the old crew, the old group of friends enough to know, that we have in common is the past, and neither the present of the future. Do we want to live in the past, revisit those old maths lessons, or do something more constructive? I think the latter to be honest. It does not mean I don’t care or love or have feelings for my old schoolfriends, its just not enough to warrant another weekend in Lowestoft playing who the heck is that, or what are we driving these days?

And then I have a RAF get-together later in the year: much the same as last weekend but with more booze and swearing. That will probably be my last one of those too. But then I said that last time, so who knows.

So, in the end, I went, I drank, I shook hands. I visited churches. As you do. I saw Mum and came home. Happy with that, for the most part.


And here we are back at the start of the week once again.

A day working from home before the pain of travelling again on Tuesday.

Now, I wish I could tell you how I filled my day, I did work, I did wash up, hang the washing out, made lunch, prepared dinner, fed the cats, sat outside when the weather was nice enough. But, for the most part, the day is a blank to me. Other than the fact, these days of sitting around working from home would be coming to an end, well, if not coming to an end, there was going to be a break on Tuesday.

In the late afternoon, I switched the computer off and sat down to watch the first MOTD day of the season, or the first one I remembered to record. It was Sunday's with only brief highlights from City's game on Saturday. Anyways, we wuz robbed.

The evening as ever, slipped through our fingers. I packed as I was to leave quite early in the morning. I checked and rechecked my travel documents. I think I have everything.


The alarm goes off at six, and straight away, I relaise there is something wrong. I am in the middle of a migraine attack, my vision so bad, I can hardly see. Well, maybe not quite that bad, but as bad as I ever have had one. I decide not to let Jools dropped me off at the station, and instead wait an hour and get a taxi, thus giving me time to get over the migraine. That, and I realise I would have nearly 4 hour wait at the airport, which in the way things panned out, was very wise indeed.

The migraine passed just after Jools left, I had some fruit, but not another coffee. I took some pills, which is unusual and shows how bad the migraine had been. I organise the taxi for half eight, and am ready when the guy arrives ready for the trip to the station. At least with traffic back to normal, and there being no operation stack, the trip to the station is uneventful, just as well as he went down Jubilee Way past the docks, and yet we were not held up. He did scare the life out of me by not indicating, but then he is a professional driver, and I am not. Any more.

I buy my ticket, and sit on the platform waiting for the train. A high speed service eaves first, leaving just a few of us for the 'classic' service to Charing Cross. I sit with my head on the window, I feel washed out, and really just want to sleep. I may even grabbed a few zeds. Thankfully, I know the journey to Gatwick now without thinking too hard, so at Tonbridge I walk to platform 1 and board the train to Redhill. The line from Tonbridge to Redhill is a quiet one, so I get a seat and doze again as we rattle long through lush countryside and dark woods.

Next up is to board a busy train to Gatwick, just one stop, but there is luggage everywhere meaning we can only just get on the train. The Victorians knew how to build trains that could hold lots of luggage, we should be able to in the future in the 21st century.

Gatwick is busy, like most international airports. But it really is so much smoother than it ever used to be. As I enter the south terminal, the auto check in machines for Norwegian are there, so I get a boarding pass, drop by bag off and walk to security and am through into the departure lounge, or rather departure hall. I feel hungry so go to Nandos for a snack, a spicy chicken fillet in a bun and a small beer. And it was good.

However, when I went back outside to check on my flight I see that there was a not saying the gate details would be released at 15:40, over two hours after we should have departed. So a delay then?

And the delay went on, and the release time for the gate kept getting pushed back, until the time for our flight's gate and the one three hours later were the same. thought they us on the delayed flight would get to go first: but no, why not wait some more! A revised time for departure of five was put up, so I went to have dinner, in the faux New York/Itialian place, Frankie and Benny's. I had burger, which was OK. But at least I had eaten dinner, if just two hours after lunch, but I knew that by the time the flight landed, we got our bags and I drove to the hotel it would be half nine at least, if not later, and the kitchen would have closed.

The waiting just seemed to go on forever, and with no news, just the time when the gate number would be released being put back; being British, I don't like to complain, but in this case, I did. What about this delayed flight? Its delayed I was told. We have had no information. But the delay has been up on the boards. But WHY! 5 minutes later there was an announcement that the flight was delayed, but we would be boarding soon.

In the end, I can't remember what time we boarded and left, only that our troubles were not over, as once all were on board, and the bags of the two passengers who had not arrived were taken off, the gate could not be withdrawn from the plane, so we waited 20 more minutes until a man with a hammer could be found.

We were reversed out, engines fired up, and off we trundled. As to show how bad Norwegian felt, we were allowed one cup of coffee or tea each for FREE to make up for the five and a half hour delay we were suffering. We arrived in Copenhagen just as the sun was setting, the views out of the window looked stunning, but I was in the aisle, so I saw the back of people's heads.

We had half an hour wait for our bags, then I had another ten minute wait at the car hire place. Why stop now just as I'm hating it?

In a sign of things to come, the car's sat nav took me through the city centre, which looked very nice, but with the directions being blared out in Danish I saw or appreciated none of the fine sights. But at ten past eleven I arrived at the hotel. I got the final parking space behind it, and went to check in. The window of the room had been closed, and after getting all the afternoon sun was very, very warm indeed. I opened it wide, took of almost all my clothes and was able to relax. Jeez, what a day.