Monday, 30 November 2015

Monday 30th November 2015


Thing about going away is that at some point you have to come home. And with the road system in Britain being clogged most of the time, the best time to travel is either the middle of the night or as early as possible. Do we wait for breakfast at the guesthouse or leave early? In the end we opted for breakfast before we left, which meant laying in bed from before six as dawn crept over the city outside.

But breakfast time did arrive, and the smell of baking bread once again floated up the stairs and under our room door. We packed and were ready to go, so we went down to eat. Our hosts were very keen to talk, very keen indeed, and were chatting away as we tried to inch closer to the car loaded with our bags. In time we escaped the nice people, and had 200 miles of open road ahead of us.

A quick pitstop in the garage at the end of the road to fill up with fuel, and onwards to Newark and the road south. At nine on a Sunday morning, traffic was light, there was even some weak sunshine to illuminate the day. We put Radio 6 on, and so soundtracked our trip south. It is always surprising to find out how long the road is between Newark and the turn off for Cambridge just south of Peterborough, on the way we passed places from my past: RAF Swinderby, RAF North Luffenham, Rutalnd Water and so on, all places that marked out various times in my RAF careeer, but now just names on roadsigns. In fact Swinderby is now an industrial estate, and Luffenham seems to be an army base now.

The road to Cambridge was certainly busy, but we pressed on at the speed limit and soon left most of the traffic as they turned off for the city centre or the main road headed east to Felixstowe. We took the motorway south, into Essex and the land of the barmy drivers. Cerys was on the radio, playing a eclectic mix of music, which is always a delight, it made me hardly not notice the traffic to be honest.

By 11 we were on the M25, in heavier traffic still, but still on time to be home just after midday; strong winds meant that the speed limit on the bridge meant creeping over at 30mph, but we were back in Kent. From there it is a blast of an hour to Dover, through port traffic and those heading to Ashford for shopping. We zoomed on, just wanting to be home and seeing them cats.

Driving through Dover to avoid the everpresent queues for the docks, passing by the crowds out Christmas shopping, up Conaught Hill, past the castle and onto St Maggies. Quarter past twelve and we were home. Phew.

We unloaded the car, fed the cats and put the kettle on.

The cats seemed to have already forgiven us for leaving them home alone; a friend had been coming in to feed them, and they seemed to be none the worse for it. And as usual for a couple of hours each of us had at least one furry shadow as we went about whatever we were doing. By three, my batteries were flat, and so I took to the sofa to listen to the radio, as City were playing Arse with it being on the radio as well. And as Britain won the Davis Cup just before kick off, we got uninterrupted coverage. Arse took the lead, but City pulled level just before half time, and in the 2nd half played well and could have won the game, but didn't. A 1-1 draw, we would have taken that I suppose.

We have chorizo hash for dinner, and physically both of us are shattered. Its been a long weekend, and tomorrow is a school day. Mum in her weekly report tells me another one of the people I went to school with has passed away. This is getting serious!

And that was the weekend, with us giving up at nine and heading to bed, followed by all three cats. Which is how it should be.

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Sunday 29th November 2015


I suppose I should say why we were up in Lincoln for the weekend. Well, as you know, I used to be in the Air Frce, and my trade, Armourers, have a get together in the city at the end of November nearest our patron saint's, St Barbara, day. And that fell on this weekend. And like every year, the thought of attending was probably going to be better than the actual experience, but hey, we were there now, and so I was going to make the best of it, what with a cathedral and parish churches to visit.

It will come as no surprise to hear that the thought of a day of churches and pissed up armourers did not thrill Jools, so she had decided to take the train to Harrogate for a craft fair. And this involved catching a train at seven, which in turn meant setting the alarm so she could be out of the guesthouse by half six for the drive down to the station. She did get out in time, which meant I had an hour in bed to laze away before breakfast at eight and then the rigours of the day.

Saturday morning walk down Bailgate and Steep Street, Lincoln At a quarter to eight, I could smell fresh bread baking, sneaking under the door of the room, which made me even hungrier. Bang on the dot of eight, I was down the stairs into the breakfast room where a bowl of fruit was waiting and in a while a bowl of fresh bread and most importantly, a pot of coffee was also brought out. Let breakfast begin.

I was out the door at nine, walking towards the roundabout, then turning south towards the cathedral. Somehow the clouds had cleared and the sun had risen into a clear blue sky, but already couds were forming, and in half an hour the sky would be covered. But for a few minutes, there was the promise of a fine day. I re-traced my steps of the previous night, past the pub, the Victorian church, the University buildings to Bailgate, at which point to ancient city begins. All the shops along here were busy getting ready for the day ahead, putting out wares or signs and delivery trucks unloading stock. Needless to say, I ambled on by, snapping as I went.

Saturday morning walk down Bailgate and Steep Street, Lincoln I had checked the cathedral site before I left home, and knew it had been open since seven, so it was there I went to first, hoping to get my shots before the cathedral became too crowded. Which turned out to be a good decision, as indeed there were very few people about, so I zoomed round, snapping away, getting what I hope will be good shots. Only downside was that the libraries, chapterhouse and roof tours were later in the day, which I would miss, but I can always go back.

Saturday morning walk down Bailgate and Steep Street, Lincoln The shots done, and the cathedral filling up with the sound of ever-increasing numbers of visitors, I leave, and find I have over two hours before the reunion was due to start. I walk back down Steep Hill, still only a few people about, well at the older end of it, but down the bottom where all the modern shops are, it was already crowded. I suppose I should say that Steep Hill so gets its name because it is a steep hill. In a county most famous for being so flat, that in Lincoln the ancient part of the city is built on a hill overlooking the river below, and the main road from the cathedral to the river was this Roman Road, now cobbled and as steep at 1:7 in places.

The Cathedral Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Lincoln, Lincoln Anyway, I had seen an interesting church down by the railway station, so it was there I was heading for. St Mary-le-Wigford is Lincoln's oldest church, apparently, but is right beside the busy level crossing and a major road junction. It is easy to miss and feels fairly down at heel. But it is open, and inside the MU is having a Christmas bazaar, so I buy a pack of Christmas cards, before I go round taking my shots.

Steep Hill, Lincoln I wander around, looking at parts of the city I had not seen before: the market, the canal through the centre before I thought maybe I should grab something to eat before the drinking began. On the way to investigate one more church, I bump into an old friend Daz, who is also here for the beers, but has had some health issues and will not be drinking much. I find a small cafe opposite St Swithin's, I have a large coffee and a couple of small sausage rolls.

After more aimless wandering, I look at my watch and see it is quarter to twelve: showtime. The reunion was being held at an Austalian themed bar, Walkabout, not too bad, but then they have such a small choice of decent beers, and the only half decent one was off. Bloody Doom Bar it was then! But I was not really in the mood for drinking, and this turned out to be the only beer I had. I spoke to Daz at length, but he left at one, which must have planted a seed in my head. There must have been a couple of hundred already in the function room, but I knew only a couple by name, and maybe a few others whose face I recognised. I had a coke, then another one with a rum in it. I spoke to some people, some who were real joy to meet, others not so. My old mate from school and the sea survey days, Dick, arrived, so hugged and swapped greetings.

Already the beers were flowing, and I was feeling uncomfortable. I felt no longer part of this. Its hard to explain, but I did not feel the need to spend all afternoon looking at the bottom of a beer glass. After some more chats with friends, I decided to bail out. I said farewell to one person I had wanted to see, a colleague from Colt, then I was down the stairs and out.

The street outside was crowded, but I felt free. I guess what it comes down to, after being out of the mob ten years, I am not the person I used to be, nor feel the need to do the stuff I used to with people I mostly did not know. I thought this was the case, but now I know it for sure. I have a life with somebody I am very happy with, contended in fact, we have our house, the cats and I even have a job which gets me out and about, exercising the grey matter.

One last check of my watch reveals it to be quarter to two: I could walk back to the guesthouse, via another church, and be back inside ready to listen to the football on the radio. I set sail up Steep Hill, and was off.

I called in at St Mary Magdalene church, just outside the Cathedral Close, I had been tipped off that it would be open by the owner of the guesthouse, and after huffing and puffing up Steep Hill, it was good to catch my breath inside where a Christmas wreath festival was under way, but I could see enough of the fabric of the church to make the visit worthwhole. As was the long chat I had to one of the wardens about the fine churches, including this one, in the city.

That done I walked back to the guesthouse, my legs aching as I climbed the stairs, just in time for the football to start at three. I make a pot of tea and make to ginger nuts disappear. The football is good, but my eyes get heavy, so climb into bed to keep warm, and that is where Jools found me when she returned.

We listen to the football, or I do. We have a coffee, then at six we walk out, just as the rain had stopped. We had a table booked at Ribs and Bibs at eight, but had an hour or so in which to find a nice pub for a quiet drink. We find one in Bailgate, and I have a fine pint of Timothy Taylor, followed by a pint of Ghost Ship. Quickly, we walk down Steep Hill to the restaurant, where our table is just ready, and not having eaten since about eleven, my eyes took over and I ordered something galled the vitamin P platter: baby back ribs, pulled pork, a smoked frank and crackling. I also order a portion of Boston Beans, which has lots more pulled pork in it.

By the end I was porked out. Walking back up Steep Hill was out, so we able back down Steep Hill towards the station, past piles of pissed up armourers outside Walkabout, and flag one down to whisk us back to the guesthouse and our bed.

Saturday 28th November 2015


A day largely of work and travel.

The alarm went off at five, as Jools had to be at Martin Mill to catch the quarter past six train, what with waking up and all the other stuff that preparing for work bring, we need an hour.

At six I take her down the hill to the station saying I will collect her from work at one, before driving back home to start work so all tasks would be done before twelve to allow me to get to Hythe. And then it was work, with meetings, mor meetings and IT failures to cope with. Access to the intranet was impossible, until it was too late in the morning to get the task I need to, done. So, something else to be left over until Monday. I fed the cats an extra large meal, ready for the evening, packed my stuff, check my camera, loaded the car and was ready.

As I have said before, getting north of London on a Friday afternoon, well almost any time other than in the middle of night is a mare, which is why we both took the afternoon off so we could arrive at a decent time at our digs. I arrived at Hythe with 15 minutes to spare, dealt with more work issues as I waited, then was ready when Jools came out.

From our hotel room That done it was all a rush to get up the motorway to Dartford the up the M11 to Cambridge before the rush hour starts, then getting to the hotel once we got to Lincoln. As you might expect, as we got nearer London traffic got heavier and heavier, and then we saw the matrix signs saying there were delays at Dartford. You might have thought since it all went on number plate recognition, the days when there would be queues at the crossing were long behind us, but no. In fact the queues only held us up for about ten minutes, and the traffic in all lanes moved quick enough. And then at the portal to the tunnel, we all sped up and on we went into Essex.

Friday evening walk round Lincoln The M11 was also busy, but we made good time, and it was all going well until we joined onto the A14, then it all got snarled up. The M11 I know well, it being one of the routes we take when we go to visit Mother, but north of Saffron Walden I have only travelled on that once before. But as the rolling countryside of Essex changes into the flatter farmland of Cambridgeshire, a light rain begins to fall, and the traffic gets ever heavier. But once again, we kept on moving, sometimes at a crawl, but we were making progress.

Onto the A1, on which I put the hammer down and tried to press on, making us as near to Lincoln before darkness fell. In fact we had got to Newark and on the final stretch to Lincoln when night fell. We programmed the sat nav for the last few miles to the hotel. And it was on the ring road, in those last 5 miles, where we encounter the worst of the traffic of the journey. In fact, the worse traffic was coming towards us, and at just about half five, we pulled up outside the guesthouse.

Friday evening walk round Lincoln We were taken up to our room, and out the window we could see the three illuminated towers of the cathedral. We had arrived.

Friday evening walk round Lincoln No time to waste, we put our walking boots on and coats on and set out into the Lincoln night.

We walk from the B&B, turning towards the city centre until a short sharp shower forces us into The Stags Head for a warming drink until the shower past. And in doing so I had to second worse pint of the year. But we had stayed dry.

Friday evening walk round Lincoln We walked to the three illuminated towers of Lincoln Cathedral, down Bailgate, along cobbled streets, timber framed houses, warming taverns and restaurants.

Friday evening walk round Lincoln At the top of Steep Hill (more of that in a while), we pause to look in the Cathedral Close for more shots, and what a sight with the cathedral all lit up, and we had the whole Close to ourselves.

Friday evening walk round Lincoln On down the cobbled street to the top of the aptly names Steep Hill, with yet more photos being taken. The rain on the cobbles was making the scene wonderfully colourful. However, with the rain falling harder, we decide to find somewhere to eat. After finding the ribs restaurant fully booked, we went to the Indian next door, and sat down to fine curries and cold beer. All with fine service, you really can't beat an Indian when all else fails.

Friday evening walk round Lincoln Outside again and the rain is hammering down, we have no idea where the tax rank is, so the only real choice is to walk to the railway station and hope they might be there. It was grim now, the rain had soaked through our clothes, and we were beginning to get chilly.

We have to wait ten minutes, but then a cab arrived, we climbed in in, and in 5 minutes were back outside the guesthouse, and all for a fiver! It was nearly nine in the evening, and like most days, we were shattered.

Friday, 27 November 2015

Friday 27th November 2015


I wish I knew, with certainty, what I was allergic to. And what sets it off.

I mean I can sleep all night, no problems, lay there and think that I feel fine, and yet in 5 minutes be sniffing and sneezing and needing the best drugs known to mankind.

I do know I am allergic to dust and dust mites. I suspect that strong smells, or chemicals in deodorants and perfumes can set an attack off. But once you cut all them out, then what?

Sometimes, all you can do is go outside for a walk and lots of fresh air. That always does the trick. And in November, with the sun low and casting long shadows, these are what I see.

Thursday afternoon walk So, on another morning, I lay in bed, allergy free, and yet within 5 minutes of getting up, I am sniffing away and having trouble breathing. I take drugs, and there is some relief, but its still not good. Work keeps coming in, so it it is afternoon before I can say I have enough time to get outside for a walk and maybe clear my tubes.

Out across the fields along the path which is usually firm and easy going, but now is just a trail of mud, showing brown between the dying grass each side. But I have my boots on, so its no real problem. At the pig's copse, there is a sole piglet, now half grown. The poor thing must be lonely as he runs squealing whenever anyone passes, just wanting some company, as there is food on the ground. He was once one of a group of six or so, but I guess its siblings are now gone. Long gone.

Thursday afternoon walk The view down to Kingsdown is fine as always, but with the need for more walking and getting the blood pumping, I decide to go down the track down the dip, through the mud an up the other side. I was passed by a gentleman on a horse, we bid each other good day, and I watch as he encourages the horse up the steep track the other side. I make slower progress, picking my way through the mud and up the other side, pausing to take shots and to get my breath back. I would think I am out of shape, well I am, but I know that in the summer I could get up here with no trouble, and my breathlessness now is an effect from the allergy and what it is doing to my lungs.

Thursday afternoon walk I walk to the top of Otty Bottom Road, taking a shot as the road tracks along the crease between two hills, descending to the beach at Kingsdown a couple of miles away.

The light from the early afternoon sun is warm and brightens the landscape with warm colours, making my shots, one hope, very pleasing. I double back along the road to the village, past the Kings Head, down Station Road to home, arriving home just in time for another meeting. Just my luck.

Thursday afternoon walk But I do feel better, at least, and get through the meeting and have stuff to do afterwards, which takes me through up to half four. Looking at my contacts on Outlook, most have finished for the day, so I decide enough is enough so switch off the computer and go to prepare dinner: breaded pork, lentil dahl and peas and sweetcorn. I open the last bottle of wine, and things are going very well by the time Jools returns home. In fact the wine flows through dinner and afterwards, and so imagine my surprise to find just half a glass left in the bottom by the time TOTP starts at half seven.

Well, that is it from me until Sunday. Be good.

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Thursday 26th November 2015


And verily, the sun did shine.

And Jools did go to work before the sun had risen, leaving me with just a coffee pot and three cats.

And halfway though the week, no commuting, and no airports, hotel rooms and boy, does it feel strange? At least I am not tired. At least after the session on the cross trainer the day before, I feel more alive, which means I feel able to take on the tasks of the day, which for the most part is reviewing and re-writing documents. The morning passes, the sun climbs half up the southern hemisphere, then begins to sink in the west. But ran out of sky before it hit the point due west.

I was going to go out to take some shots, before the light faded, but there is always one more document or one more meeting to deal with. I had a document to review, this bounced in at three leaving me two hours to review its content. So much for sunshine. So much for fresh air. So much for photography.

However, there is always time for cross-training. So, with my only other pair of trainers, I get my gear on, select some work out tunes, and off I go. Pumping away.

That done, I am reminded of the biggest ever sports story, as one of the tunes I had listened to was Tessie by the Drop Kick Murphys; a tune written about a baseball team, and re-recorded to celebrate this greatest ever sports story. Now, I know that such terms are so overused, especially in sport, but end of The Curse is one that one day, a film will be written about.

In short, Babe Ruth, baseball player and candy make, was sold by the Red Sox to their arch rivals, the Damn Yankees, and he was rumoured to have said that the Red Six would never win another World Series. And so 86 years passed. 86 years which included some close shaves with winning, but something always seemed to go wrong, so much so that the curse became too real. Cut to 2004, and the Red Sox made it to the post season, and standing in the way of the ALCS pennant was them Yankees.

And soon the Red Sox found themselves 3-0 down in the best of 7 series. They would have to come back from so far back, that no team had ever done so, and yet, they did. Then they met the Cardinals in the World Series, so names after the first sponsor, The World, a newspaper not so the winner could be declared world champions. Anyway, Sox swept the series 4-0 to win 8 post games in a row. And end the curse.

I say this because we football, or soccer, fans think we are the only once passionate about our game, that our supporters are the best in the world. But then to be in Boston, in October when they are playing the Yankees, then witness some real passion and rivalry. Since I was in Boston the year before the curse was busted, I supported the Red Sox, and sat up to watch them win the whole shebang the next year. 86 years of hurt, of failure, causes the release of a whole lot of emotion.

So I watch a DVD I have of the series, sitting beside me the whole while was miss Molly, keeping an eye on me, to see when I would decide it was dinner time.

Dinner for us adults is soup. Spicy Moroccan, which is indeed spicy. I then have to head out into the chaos that is the roads around Dover, as the new security checks are causing so much talbacks and jams. It took Jools 90 minutes to get home earlier, and the only way out to anywhere really is along Reach Road and along the cliffs. I would have taken shots of the traffic jammed on Jubilee Way, but the traffic behind me was so bad, there wasn't space for me to stop.

I had to drop off the house key to my friend Gary, as he is looking after the cats over the weekend, as we are on our travels. More of that another time.

I get home safe, coming back the same way as the traffic is still jammed on all the main routes.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Wednesday 25th November 2015


And so the year ploughs on, much later in the day a fine full moon would rise in the east casting strong silvery light on the valley behind the house. But before then we would have rain. Lots of rain. Indeed the wind was howling and rain hammering against the side of the house long before the alarm went off. And dawn, crept, half ashamed over the land, not making it fully daylight until after midday when the clouds lifted.

Morning drizzle Jools left for home a few minutes early to allow for the conditions, leaving me and the complaining cats at hoe to deal with what the day would throw at us.

And in large part, not much was thrown at us, other than rain. However, I did feel lethargic all day, and I got the feeling that I have not been getting up and about enough, so once the work for the day was done, I got the i pod out and did a session on the cross-trainer. And what a difference that made! Afterwards I felt more alive, healthier as the endorphins surged around my system. Therefore, more of the same tomorrow then, I suppose.

Scully Outside the day had faded, but by then the clouds were clearing, and the moon was already rising.

Elsewhere, it was Lee's funeral in Denmark. I would like to have been there, it goes without saying. But, the details were only announced at the weekend, too late to arrange travel. So, my thoughts all afternoon were with his family and my friends and colleagues who were there.

Molly Tuesday night dinner was dirty food, burgers and beer, which hits the spot obviously, and is good once in a while. Those of you who fillow my tavels will know I have more than enough burgers when I am in DK, but hey, what can you do?

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Tuesday 24th November 2015

Blog # 280 for the year: equal most blogs in a year, with six weeks to go.

And blog #1400 as well. Will be bringing you all something special for number 1500, once I can think of something.

Are you bored yet?


Jools' birthday

Dr Who's birthday

And as it was her birthday, Jools took the day off, and decided to spend the day out and about, leaving me in the house working. Well, its only fair, really. We had breakfast together, then she pulled on her walking boots to set off for Deal with the possible final destination being Canterbury, but this would mean catching a bus from Deal. I watched Jools walk down Station Road from the bathroom window before getting dressed and getting ready for another day at the coalface.

Let the sunshine in And it was a typical working day; mails, meetings but it did not involve going to an airport and end the day in a soulless hotel room. I do feel much more rested now I have had 5 days at home, but ust need a few more days to feel like I belong here again. And that is what I am getting, in the end 19 straight days without travel. Perfect.

Outside, needless to day, the sun beams down from a clear blue sky, perfect for walking, so Jools will have had a great time. However for me, it is on the computer all the time. I know it pays the bills.

Jools arrives home at half one, we have a coffee and a saffron bun together. After that, given the choice on how to spend the rest of her birthday, Jools chose to watch Star Trek: Enterprise, which, I have not really watched, but Jools likes it. So, I potted around on the computer until it was time to cook dinner. Yes, given the choice of any (reasonable) place to eat on her special day, Jools chose steak at Chez Jelltex, and who am I to turn a lady down?

I cook steak and the usual trimmings, and even if I say so myself, it was darned good. Jools had bought a bottle of fizz on the way home, so we toasted her, me and our wonderful life together.

In the evening, I listen to some of what we call football on the wireless, and that sees out the day, really.

It was good to last week over with, I suppose grief affects us all in different ways. For me I found myself on the verge of tears a couple of times, for no reason other than have been thinking how lucky we are in our life together. I suppose thankful that we have this, and that we are together. It was announced that the funeral is to take place on Tuesday, if I was in Denmark I would have gone, but as it was a week I was staying at home. I hope Lee would have understood.

I suppose, understandably, this has raised all sorts of questions regarding our lifestyle and things we do and do not do. We shall see I suppose.

Monday, 23 November 2015

Monday 23rd November 2015


It is some pleasure in not have to prepare for yet another trip to Denmark this weekend. I mean, as much fun and high living I might do, and meeting with friends and colleagues, it is tiresome, and by the end of last week, after three weeks on the bounce with being away, I was shattered. I wish I could have a real long lay in, so to feel rested. But most of the time I am awake before six. But these two weeks at home should give me a chance to recharge my batteries.

A return walk to Folkestone Saying that, we both laid in to quarter to eight on Sunday morning. The cats had long given up trying to rouse us and we just sleeping on the stairs waiting for us. Jools shook me awake, telling me I had already missed 20 minutes of MOTD and so missed the first game of the show, Liverpool thumping Citeh. But with the interwebs, there were already plenty of versions on You Tube. So I settled down to watch the rest of the games, Jools made me a coffee and fed the cats. All the important stuff.

A return walk to Folkestone The dreary weather last week meant we did not walk along the harbour. So, with bright sunshine forecast this Sunday, and the fact I needed to buy a birthday card for Jools, we returned.

Calling in at the Battle of Britain memorial, as their new centre has been opened; however, at half ten in the morning it seemed still locked, so somewhere else to return to.

We parked down by the harbour, and along the old fish market, the welk and winkle stalls were doing a steady trade, although their wares smell too fishy to me, especially before eleven on a Sunday morning.

A return walk to Folkestone Over the summer, the authorities had opened the old Harbour Arm for people to walk along, and I was hoping this would still be the case, but once we had walked past the old station and across the huge new car park, I could see the gates leading to the arm were locked fast.

Back round the harbour and up the Old High Street and up the main shopping street to find a card shop. Inside the shop I find a good card, then also get Christmas cards for Jools and Mum, meaning I won't forget until the last minute like last year. Waiting in line for the queue, I am quizzed by a kit in a pushchair with his Gran. Why did I have a camera? Why did I not have change.? His Nan said I had spent it all on coffee. And whisky I added, and the kid burst into laughter.

A return walk to Folkestone I go to find Jools, and together we walk back down the Old High Street to the car, then back along the old main road to Dover and to home. Time then for lunch, lunch of hand raised pork pies and a saffron bun each. Perfect.

We listen to the radio, Jools does some beading and I do some stuff with photographs. Football burbles away on the radio as I make a pot of chili; something I have not made for over a year now, and so with the old grey matter trying to remember my recipe. In the end, it came out OK, not too hot, which shows some wisdom as I grow older. Long gone are the days when I make it as hot as possible.

We decide to have a quiet night, away from any Scandinavian murders, at least for a week or so, and somehow we fritter the evening away, until it is time for bed, and as ever, the weekend has slipped through our fingers.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Sunday 22nd November 2015


Another morning when I awake before six. But the room is colder, winter is here. However, the threat of snow has no receded, so the task of the day is to keep warm. But like most weeks the task for the day, first task for the day, is shopping. Well, after coffee.

Sainsbury's, like all supermarkets at quarter past seven on a Saturday morning, is a place for people of a certain age who don't lay in bed any more and want to save the rest of the day for something else. We get dressed, grab a few shopping bags, we always have done this, but now there being a 5p charge now has not brought the end of western civilisation. We made no list, but go round swiping stuff off the shelves, and soon enough had over fifty quids worth of stuff, including a selection of party food to have that evening as we sat on the sofa watching the end of The Bridge.

We do buy a pack of smoked streaky bacon for breakfast, because it seems weeks since we had bacon. And once back home Jools puts the shopping away and I cook bacon.

And there is no avoiding Christmas, it is the third week in November, and so we have to place our order with the butcher, which will mean a drive over to Preston. The plan had been to go to Herne Bay afterwards as the wond was in the north east and so the storm-force winds should have been battering the north Kent coast. But due to the fact there was also to be much rain too, we decided not to go to the coast after all, so it was just the butchers and back. Saying that, alternating between bright sunshine, jet black clouds and then torrential rain, and country lanes full of overflowing puddles made the trip interesting to say the least.

The boys are in good spirits, and busy. So I order our stuff, and it being Jools' birthday on Monday, buy some steaks. And some pork pies. And so cheese. And sausages.

Back home through yet more sunshine and heavy showers, to make some saffron buns, what with it being so near Easter and all that. There is something wonderful about the mix of smells of rising bread and saffron, it really is magical. And once in the oven to bake, it really is irresistible. But we have to wait for them to cool, but something as wonderful as still-warm saffron buns deserve a really good large cup of tea. And with the Man Utd game v Watford on the radio in the background, we make two large buns disappear.

Those of you who know me will not be surprised to find out that I then lay on the sofa to listen to the game, and so managed to sleep through most of the second half. And then comes the main event of the afternoon: Chelski v Norwich on the wireless. Although, of course, its not in the slightest relaxing, as Chelsea play very well without scoring in the 1st half. One lapse of concentration allowed SCosta one on one with Ruddy, and the ball was in the back of the net. And that was that.

And at five, we began the long slog of the final three episodes of The Bridge. After watching episode 8, and putting in the final disc, we find there are just two more, which we watch with Dr Who sandwiched between the Nordic Noir. And that brought us to half ten, and half the weekend already gone.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Saturday 20th November 2015


Bloody Vanessa wakes me up with her chirpy upbeat brand of radio. OK, you've been up since three, but can you please keep it down a bit, some of us are trying to wake up grumpy.

Friday afternoon walk But it is Friday, which means rounding up the week's work. More meetings and maybe an early stack if my manager, i.e me, lets me. I think I will. After all, I reasise how hard I have worked this week and although another seven hour plus sleep, I still feel like I have missed out on a night's sleep somewhere.

Jools has breakfast then leaves for work, and I am left with just the cats, complaining already with the rain outside. Like I can do anything about it, guys!

I have a meeting, another meeting. And somehow I get given yet more tasks on the job I thought I was finished with!

Friday afternoon walk My allergies have just about been under control, but what I really needed, of course, was some fresh air. And if that fresh air could come in conjunction with some fine sunshine so I could take photos at the same time, then so much the better. Therefore, it came as no surprise that just gone two I turned my laptop off and get ready for a walk.

The forecast was saying there should be two hours of unbroken sunshine from now until sunset, I looked outside and saw clouds. Oh well.

I put on just my fleece over a t shirt, and as soon as I went outside the cold wind cut through the coat, but I knew once walking it would be OK. Along the street to where the track began, and on both sides whatever has been planted in the fields replacing the dried beans are already sprouting. Looks like grass, but what do I know?

Friday afternoon walk The cloud was high, and to the south the sun found a gap in the clouds and sent warm milky sunshine to my back. I went on, but with the path so muddy here, I knew that the bottom of the dip would just about be unpassable, so it would be a short walk. But being outside is good, right?

No sign of the pigs in the copse, but I think I saw the sow in the tin hut deep in the woods, sleeping the cold afternoon away. I did turn down the track to the dip, at least to get views across the valley and down to Kingsdown. I picked a fairly dry path through the puddles and areas of mud.

Friday afternoon walk As I stood at the gate to the big field, a couple of cold looking horses came over to say hello. I had no carrots for them, but they seemed happy enough with a pat on their nose, and so carried on munching grass. I turned for home, tracing my steps and looking into the rays of the setting sun, which had found a large clear area of blue sky to beam down from.

Back across the fields, dodging the dogs eggs and thinking it might be nice to have a beer whilst I watch an episode of Time Team when I got back. Molly joined me on the sofa, stretching out and purring for the whole hour.

That watched, and it being half four, it was time to prepare dinner: chorizo hash, and a meal I can rustle up without thinking too much about it. Jools comes home just as I put the potatoes into fry, so she has time to change out of her work things, pour some drinks, then sit down together and listen to Desert Island Discs.

I don't need to tell you what we did for the rest of the evening, a triple bill of The Bridge, and I am now thinking the police chief is behind it. Could be wrong.

Friday, 20 November 2015

Friday 20th November 2015

Winter is coming.

The forecast is for rain, wind, sleet and even snow for the weekend. These long autumnal days are coming to an end. But butterflies and spring flowers have been seen. Indeed last Friday I saw Scabious and Knapweed in flower along the cliffs. Spring bulbs are shooting already, but no sign of the ones we planted in the new beds a few weeks back. The nights are indeed cold now, not just cool, meaning it does at least match the long dark nights.


I woke up to hear the sound of black pads on the floor of the bedroom. Then I could hear the purring. Loud purring. A black shape jumped on the bed, then made its way up the bed, purring louder. It nudged my hand, so I stroked the shape it it purred louder. And began to dribble. Oh yes, good morning, Mulder. Do you think it is time we fed you, Mr Cat? I think you do.

So I get up, make my way downstairs, putting all the lights on so to be able to check for dead or bits of dead rodents: none found, I get the food out of the cupboard, and the other two appear as if my feline magic. I make the coffee, and that is it for as exciting how the day will be. I feel like I have not slept, my eyes itch, so I take some drugs and hope things will get better.

Jools goes to work, so put out the bins which will be the most exciting thing that will happen during the day. I put the radio on, and soon I am ready for the day. And so begins another day in paradise. First thing is to touch base with those I did not speak to the night before about Lee. Some of us take it harder than others. Which is life. And the best we can do is be there to listen for those who want to talk. A mail had been put out by management, so everyone knows, but in a large company, many people would not know Lee. My computer tells me he has been offline for two days, always reminding me that he always will be, now.

The day passes, and I find concentration hard to come b; a combination of events and lack of sleep I feel. But get through the day. After lunch the rain begins to fall outside, which means the cats will sit at the window looking out, meowing at me to make it stop. No can do, guys. It falls in a steady drizzle, rather than the buckets we had been told, it is good enough to put the heating on, make a nice huge cuppa and stand looking out.

Jools brings home fish and chips, still hot in the newspaper. That polished off, we settle down to more episodes of The Bridge, series one. We have go to four episodes in, and are hooked, but looking inside the box seems to suggest 16 episodes or something. At least it keeps me off the computer at night, and Miss Molly sits between us, happy with that turn of events as we watch the TV.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Thursday 19th November 2015


What rain there had been the night before had cleared, and when I looked out the hotel room window, I saw the trio of planets still lined up, although further apart. I have a shower, which helps how crappy I feel, but then I had slept well, with the alarm needed to rouse me for a change. After a coffee I walk to the terminal, get my boarding pass and find that the airport is almost empty compared to the previous week. Only a couple in front of in the line for security, then up through the duty free shop to find a table to work on. The free VIP wifi still works, so I get some mails done, and am up to date.

I have a backlog of Rail magazines to work through, well, two. So what with the previous night and my time here and on the plane, I finish the first one, and work my way through the second, even reading on the train to Dover. But once boarded the plane, we are told to expect a few bumps, which is what happened. There was a strong headwind, so the flight took nearly two hours, and there were a few bumps and jumps, but we got breakfast and coffee as normal, the Lego bigwigs are working away on yet more powerpoint presentations, which I try not to look at, but as ever, good to know they treat their work so very seriously.

Holland was covered by cloud, but over Essex there were a few gaps in the cloud, so the usual landmarks could be seen, if fleetingly. It was at least bright, with the low sun apparently shining low from the east under the cloud cover.

The business types were up and queuing as soon as we had come to a stop at one of the distant stands, so I knew there would be a bus ride involved, so I am the last one onto the bus once we are let off, and first off as I am by the door when we arrive at the terminal. And with no case to wait for, I can go from immigration through the arrival hall to the DLR station. My train is half full, but I chose to stand so I can look at the ongoing work in docklands, with the rails now laid on the Crossrail tunnel where it passes beneath the DLR line. And the works at the Limmo Peninsular are over half gone now the tunneling has ended, the conveyor belts are gone and the mud and waste being collected and the views are opening up once again.

I miss the quarter to ten train by ten minutes, just as well as I only have an off-peak ticket, but this gives me the chance to have coffee and a sausage roll. And read more of the rail magazine.

I go down onto the platform to catch the train, and as ever it is lightly used: I get a seat on the right hand side looking forward, which is perfect. But instead of looking out all the time, I carry on ready, raising my eyes for the highlights as we pass by the Ford factory, the Dartford Crossing and over the Medway. By the time we arrive in Ashford, I have finished reading, but the bright sunshine has now been replaced by cloud, which is getting thicker.

The taxi is waiting for me, aand for a change the driver takes me back along Reach Road so we can look out over the Channel to France with all the ships inbetween. All cats are missing when I enter the house, but a quick search shows Scully to be on our bed, sound asleep and not bothered by my return. Molly comes in after about an hour and seems to give a yelp-like meow when she sees me. I may imagine that of course.

Anyway, after lunch I have some work to do, getting forms off for yet more travel, as is the way, then at three, I am bushed so take to the sofa for some dreadful daytime TV.

I make some potato bread to go with the soup we were to have for dinner, and as Jools and I were sitting down, is when I got an urgent message from Anni saying what had happened to Lee as updates on Facebook were saying he had died. I checked, and sadly, he had. I had been in the hope that no news was good news, as there had been 24 hours since I was told. But no good news, no happy ending to be shared with you. I call Anni, and other friends to make sure they did not find out through Facebook if they did not know. All did, and all are as shellshocked as I was. And still am.

I spend the evening, on and off, reading the Facebook updates on his pages, as his friends around the world, and those he made through his life found out and left messages. Messages he won#t read, but it seemed the right thing for them, and I, to do.

I had had enough of the internet and the news, so we sit down to watch some Scandinavian Noir I bought, The Bridge on DVD. Two episodes of that and then time for bed.

Not many words I can offer on how unfair life is. We all know that.

Wednesday 18th November


I had to be ready for a meeting at half eight, so tracking back from that I worked out getting up at seven could be the latest I could sleep into. So the alarm went off, I had nowhere enough sleep, but enough to get through the day. I skipped a shower and went down to check out. I reasoned there would be food in the meeting, so skipped breakfast to, went to the car, loaded my small bag and climbed into the eight seater car. Traffic was too heavy, so I arrived at the office without stress and ready for the day ahead.

You are never too sure how a meeting will go, and so prepare for the worse, and yet, on this occasion at least, after some nitty gritty details were sorted, the rest fell into place making the rest of the day quite straightforward. After lunch the customer stated that they had a flight booked for just after six, and how was the best way to get there; taxi, bus? We all said that traffic was dreadful after half three, and therefore every minute they left after three the traffic would get heavier. I volunteered to run them to the airport, as I was spending the name at the Zleep, so a plan was agreed.

We worked until half two, cleared up some lose ends and it was time to hit the road. By now it was half three, and with a little effort we made it out onto the motorway, then pressing on we made good time, with me dropping them off at the terminal with about 90 minutes before their flight. I dropped the hire car off, then realsied how darned hungry I was. Which meant burger and fries from the cafe, and a large Christmas beer.

Before I left the office, I went to see my manager and the rest in our team, and was told that a colleague was seriously ill after a heart attack that morning. I suppose I did not really have time to process the information until I was checked into the hotel and I was laying on the bed, relaxing. Lee was a good five younger than me, and healthier.

I lay on the bed, watching a re-run of a Brazil v Argentina game from the weekend. I doze through some of it, but its a good game, really, with barely concealed violence through it, that no one was sent off was a surprise. Later, England were to play France, but with no football on the channels in my room or the hotel bar, I went to sleep at a fairly sensible time for a change. Up and attem early in the morning, for another flight home.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Tuesday 17th November 2015


A couple of weeks back, I arranged for the car to go in the garage for some work, as I knew later in the week I had to be in Denmark. As soon as I put the phone down on the garage, I received news that the meeting had been brought forward, so be in Denmark Tuesday. Which meant traveling MOnday evening, a late night, then an early start on Tuesday. And oh my gosh, no time for anything.

I have to take Jools to work, then battle home through the traffic to get back to Dover in time to be at the garage when it opened, then, sit around whilst the work is done. So, there I am in the waiting room, the battery on my phone died, and just the pile of ancient Top Gear magazines to flick though: is there any think worse than a ten year old Clarkson article? Oh yeah, Clarkson!

The car is done, under warranty, so I can go home, but it is now heading towards 11. Back in Chez Jelltex I power up the laptop, and get down for some work, until I have to pack and get ready for more travel. This is the 3rd week in a row I have traveled to Denmark, and as nice as it is, I am pooped. And the late travel and very late arrival at the hotel would only make things worse. I have lunch, and catch up on mails and am up to date by the time I switch the computer off at three and get ready. I decided to travel light; no case, just carry a change of clothes with me. Which will make my check in easy.

I drive down to Martin Mill and leave the car, so Jools can find it when she returns home. This being the best way she getting home without the car.

The usual trip into London, the weather was bright but windy, and with dusk falling as we enter Stratford. Rush hour is beginning, but I have plenty of time. And what with the stupid prices at the airport, I have found a microbrewery in Stratford City, The Tap East, and can get good beer and cheap food there. I have a pint of local mild and a burger: of course. And so for an hour I sit there, sipping my beer and watching people coming and going, most on their way to worship in this cathedral of commerce. I just drink.

The DLR was crowded, but then it was the start of rush hour. More people watching, and listening. As the mix of languages was mind-boggling as was the glorious melting pot of fashions. And all this just a couple of days after he dreadful events in Paris. Why can't we all just get along? Maybe we can.

I get my boarding pass and am through security in less than 5 minutes. And into the crowded lounge, where almost every seat is taken. But I find one, check my mails and the news. Its all grim out there in the big wild old world it seems, making the thought of selling up and retiring to a remote Scottish island all the more attractive than it was when we were watching that TV show about the Isle of Lewis.

And the flight is delayed! In fact, all flights are delayed, and with no explanation at all. But what is this, a big friendly shape is coing towards me, why its big friendly JFF, or Jesper to his friends. Like me. Have I eaten? Did I want to eat again. I agree to have a coffee and watch him eat salmon lasagne. He buys me a coffee and we chat. As Jools says, everyone lights up a room, some by entering and some by leaving: Jesper is one of the former. A huge ball of positive energy and a delight to be with, and listen to, as he is so job focused and really great at what he does.

Once on our plane, 3 minutes late, the pilot explains that they were late because of strong headwinds. However, we will be flying in the opposite direction, we should make up the time. OK, lets get going.

Once in the air, London is laid out in glorious lit up detail: The City looks like something from a science fiction flim, with every light in every building blazing out. We turn to the north, begin to climb, and over Chelmsford, we lose sight of the ground. I have another meal, a roll and some nice smoked ham. And coffee.

It is nearly ten by the time we pass through the clouds and Denmark comes into view. Towns and villages are lit up, but scattered about in the dark countryside. Once outside the plane, its not raining! How darned unusual! Through immigration, not case to collect and to the car hire place. Needless to say having just an overnight bag with my work stuff and the change of clothes, I am given a seven seat Citroen to spread my stuff around in. Now, just have to get to Arhus.

The way is so well known to me now, I could almost do it blindfolded, but don't of course. Onto the motorway, and putting my foot down I get up to 130kmh and power up to the Arhus south junction, turning off then going up the ringroad to the Scandic. It was just 5 minutes to midnight. I check in, go to my room and check the interwebs for news, whilst I relaxed and grew tired enough for sleep. I set the alarm for seven, giving me six hours or so of sleep. Good night.

Monday 16th November 2015


And on the seventh day the wind did blow. From the west. Up here on the cliffs, the wind did whistle, but all in all not too bad. However, we wanted to see big rolling and crashing waves, and these we would not see whilst the wind was set westerly. Therefore, after coffee we go in the car to drive to Camber Sands. Camber is, or was, one of those holiday resorts that Hi De Hi gently mocks, a resort that only exists really because of its wind, flat sandy beach. It all is still there; holiday camp, family pubs, small amusement hall. And the beach. And the beach faces west.

We're Doing it Down on Camber Sands The roads were quiet, even along the A20, after calling in at St Martin’s Battery for a look over the harbor to see if there were waves crashing over the Marine Station: there were not, so we drive on, past Folkestone, through Hythe and along the coast road through Dymchurch and both Romneys. From there it was straight across the Romney Marsh, along the rad the traffic was very light, as idiots do try to overtake on blind bends sometimes.

We're Doing it Down on Camber Sands Across the border into Sussex, we turn off the main road onto the Lydd road and a couple of miles along was Camber.

Into the car park, which was already pretty much covered by drifting sand, and with the wind howling, I got out my camera, rain coat and off we went onto the sandflats. And indeed the wind was howling, driving sand along the beach, making it seem eerie. First time I take off the lens cap to take a shot, the wind takes it from my hand and is gone forever.

We're Doing it Down on Camber Sands I stand still, and the sand begins to drift around my feet, part burying them in a few seconds.

Others with dogs and/or children are arriving, enjoying as we are, the thrill of this wonderful weather. There are even a couple of riders on ponies, out trotting along, as is being on a beach with the wind blowing so much sand about makes your feet invisible is a normal thing.

We're Doing it Down on Camber Sands We walk to the point where the waves, not as large and crashing as hoed, but still lapping the beach. That done, we turn and head back for the car, this time with the wind at our backs, pushing us along.

A short drive away is Rye, built on a rocky outcrop and surround by churches, ancient buildings and tat shops. That’s unfair by me, the shops are mostly independent, and worth a look round. Also there are many places to get a cup of coffee and a slice of cake. We chose one and order. And the place is soon filling up nicely.

We walk round the town, I buy a quiche for lunch, then wait for the record shop to open. In it I find a nice Comsat Angels twelve inch picture disc, which is mine for eight quid. The town was now quite busy, so we decide to drive back home and think about what to do for the rest of the day.

For the most part that was listening to the radio, for me, or watching episodes of Enterprise, for Jools. All in all, it worked. There was no football on so the day faded, we had lunch/dinner.

And that is yet another weekend over and done with. How did that happen.


Sunday, 15 November 2015

Sunday 15th November 2015


And what with an almighty deluge forecast for just after ten and to last ten hours, there seemed little point in arranging anything other than the usual stuff: shopping, barnet mangle, listen to the radio.

We lay in bed listening to the silence. Well, it would quiet if there were not a purring, dribbling black cat on our chests, hoping that he might get us to get up and feed his nibs. We give in, of course, and once checking the living room floor for dead or partial rodents, the coast is clear to enter the kitchen. All three cats appear from nowhere, so once they have been fed, we get on to our addiction: coffee and then go to Sainsbury's.

I am followed all the way down the Deal Road by a dick in a van who sits about two inches from my back bumper all the way into town. I turn up, and knowing he will try to take one of the other narrow streets to the road along the prom, I speed up and indeed, we reach the junction at the same time, but he has to give way. Jools waves at Mr Dick. We turn towards the shop, and he carried on towards Dickland, where he lives with all the other dicks.

We shop until we fill up the torolley, then load the car and rish to get home before any more dicks are seen.

I need a haircut, so while I go for some abuse and a mangle, I drop Jools off so she can have a wander down the prom, prom, prom. Only, Alan, chief scarcastic bastard barber has retired to a life of constant golf and collecting rent from those who now use the chairs in his shop. It has been thus for some months, and I suppose it has been three months since I was last there, so, I suppose its about right. A young lady cuts my hair, I get no jip, and my hair looks fine.

I drive down to the prom and collect Jools who has had an hour. We drive back home to listen to some radio, but a music station with as little news as possible. Huey takes the blues away, and the morning passes just fine.

Now, it has been some weeks, nay months, since I last went to see Nan. If I am honest, I believe it was round about my birthday, some ten weeks ago. I have been saying for weeks I would go, but as ever once the day came, I tried to make excuses. Not because I don't want to see her, but what can you say to someone laying on a bed for 24 hours a day, too blind to watch TV, too deaf to listen to the radio. Just waiting for the end of one day and the beginning of the next? It might be fair to say that some if this she could make better, she could allow the nurses to take her to the rec room, for bingo and music and company. But she chooses not to. She could put her hearing aid in, but does not like them, so an hour with her is like being in an echo chamber.

On the way back, we go to visit our friends Gary and Julie, have coffee and chats. But the day is slipping away, we have a Mexican banquet to prepare, and the night is young! More truth is that I have bought prepared Mexican food, looks good enough, and smells fine when cooked, but all is stuck to the containers, so burritos and all are in a mush on the plate. But it all tastes the same I suppose.

I avoid Dr. Who, but it sounds madder than ever. And with that, the day is done, just Mr Fry in QI and then it is bed.

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Saturday 14th November 2015

Sometimes the world can seem a cruel and unfair and hate-filled place. But that is only if we let it. I have traveled, I have met people, and for the most part, we all want the same thing. If we let believe the hawks and haters and the lies they tell us, then the rest of the world hates us and all what we stand for, and in order to protect what we stand for, we must all give up all what we stand for. To protect our freedom we must give up our freedoms. And so on. If we let hate begat hate, hate will rule forever more. Let love win, love thy neighbour, love the immigrant, love those we do not understand. What the world needs now is less, not more bombs and violence.

In the words of a wise American man, in the mouth of fear of reds under the bed, said this:

"We must remember always that accusation is not proof and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law. We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine, and remember that we are not descended from fearful men — not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate and to defend causes that were, for the moment, unpopular." See it Now (1954) - Edward R Murrow.

Substitute reds for Muslims, and you will see. I am not a fearful man.


And I am back home! Which does mean no commute to an office, no steaming in traffic, just waving Jools goodbye as she drives off to the office, then I go and put the coffee pot back on for a refill. But I do have plenty to do, so as soon as I have quenched my thirst for coffee, I get down to work and what with meetings, writing mails and reviewing documents, it is lunchtime before I know it.

I have a sandwich, tidy up some final lose ends before I feel it is time for the weekend to begin. My plan had been to walk into Dover along the cliffs. The morning had dawned clear and bright with lots of sunshine, but clouds had swept in from the west and now it was raining. The BBC promised this would clear by two, but it seemed hopeful to say the least. But, I look out and to the best there seems to be blue sky, so why not, eh?

Friday afternoon walk into Dover I take just my waterproof jacket and a my camera, its all I need really. Down and then up Station Road, into the village before walking through the churchyard, across Reach Road then striking out over the fields to South Foreland Light. By the time I arrived at the lighthouse, the sky had cleared and it was a glorious afternoon, but already the sun was sinking in the west.

Friday afternoon walk into Dover Down the narrow path past the lighthouse and onto the clifftops. At least at this time there are few others about, and it feels like I have them to ourselves, but those I do pass I nod a greeting, as they do to me. The rain has cleared the atmosphere, and the French coast was clear, as was the building in Calais some 25 miles or so away. And the ferries were scuttling between the cliffs on either side of the Channel.

Friday afternoon walk into Dover No matter how many times you see them, the cliffs are breathtaking, even more so on a fine autumnal day, as the clouds had cleared.

The sun was already low in the west, making shooting towards the harbour difficult, but I tried....

Friday afternoon walk into Dover After all the foot traffic to the Fan Bay Deep Shelter, the cliff tops have taken a battering from the numbers of visitors, very bad erosion indeed, the worst I have seen where the grass has been worn away.

Around the top of Fan Bay to Langdon Hole, with spectacular views to the Eastern Arm and the queues of trucks waiting to cross the Channel.

Friday afternoon walk into Dover I walk round Langdon, joining up with the old cliff railway before continuing to walk down under the NT's place to where the views overlooking the ferry terminal were the most impressive....

Friday afternoon walk into Dover The final stretch along the Cliff Road, up the slope to the NT's place before another short walk along the cliff edge before down the steep path under Jubilee Way and to East Cliff.

Friday afternoon walk into Dover And finally into Dover, over Townwall Street and along the promenade where the high tide and strong breeze were causing waves to break onto the walkway. It seemed to make it even better, getting covered by a mist of salt water. I had a goal, and you will not be too surprised to learn it involved beer. It has been several weeks since I last supped in The Rack of Ale, and that is where I was now heading, and Jools would pick me up on her way home after leaving work at four. Up Biggin Street, past the Town Hall and along to The Rack, where a warm welcome awaited, and not just because of the mulled cider on offer!

Friday afternoon walk into Dover I have a pint of Hopfuzz Double Hop, or something like it, then a pint of something darker, then, much to my mistake I tried the mulled cider! I down the small glass, and get one for Jools when she comes in, but she soon realises if she drink it, she will be over the limit for driving, so I down that too.

It then comes as no surprise that once home and after a shower, I fall asleep on the bed for an hour. Bless.

I wake up in time to watch England play Spain on TV, not that it was a pleasure as England were as poor as feared. But by the time the game ended in a 2-0 defeat, news from Paris put all that sport into perspective.

Friday, 13 November 2015

Friday 13th November 2015


On the day when I am to return to the UK, I always worry that I will oversleep and miss the flight. Therefore, I I wake every half an hour or so to check my phone, with the upshot being that I don't feel like I had any sleep at all.

Dawn at Billund There was no change in this yesterday, but the alarm did go off at six, I felt OK having woken at least four times during the night to make sure I would not be stuck in DK. Another round of dressing, packing then checking out and what passes for breakfast at the Zleep. It is not that bad, fresh rolls, the usual mix of cheeses and cooked meats are on offer, which is all the expectant traveler really needs. Outside there is the hint of dawn in the east, so I pause and take a shot, because, you know, I have a camera and that.

The terminal is crazy busy, with dozens of Danish families queuing to check in for a flight to a place I had not heard of. In the rush, it took me 15 minutes to get through security, but once in the departure hall, there aas plenty of space, so I find a table below the business lounge so I could use their free wifi, and get some work done.

Ball of burning gas seen over Denmark Outside the sun had risen, so by the time we walked to the plane it was hidden behind a cloud, but the light was pretty spectacular. I snap it.

Boarding And the plane we are boarding, with the dick in front who refused to move, he wanted to be the last on the plane for some reason.

Denmark wears her colours well And once the plane was in the air, the low sun cast a wonderful golden light on the land below, casting long shadows. I snap that too.

Rømø In fact the light all the way back to Blighty was stunning, I snap the sun through the clouds as we fly over one of Denmark's outlying islands and again as we pass over Holland.

Enkhuizen I see another causeway stretching across the Ijsselmeer, so snap that as well. It really is amazing things these wonderful Dutch engineers accomplish. And then over the sea, crossing the coast right above the hotel in Ijmuiden, and then the sea was obscured by cloud, so no chance of seeing the 43 turbines of Luchterduinen.

The Essex Mud And finally over Essex, and through the clouds I spy the mudflats of the coast, all marked with the patterns of retreating water. Those patterns and the wonderful light made it look rather wonderful: I snapped that too. Down we go, along the river, no grand tour of London for us this trip, the wind was in the west, so a straightforward landing from the east. There is some worrying side winds, but we bounce down safe and I am nearly home. A walk along the terminal to the immigration scanners, my case is waiting and as I walk up to the DLR station a train for Stratford is pulling in. Now, I look at my watch and I have 20 minutes before the quarter to ten train is due to leave. I might make it, but decide not to fret.

I have chosen my carriage on the DLR well, and we pull in opposite the escalator, I am first up it, over the road and see that I have two minutes before the train is due to leave. BUT, it is delayed by a minute, so I grab my case, run down the escalator just as my train pulls in, I take a seat. Phew.

Yes, in Dover at a quarter to eleven, my taxi is waiting so I am entering the house just before 11, some six hours after I got up in Denmark. Really quite amazing really.

I have a brew and lunch before starting my work laptop up and crack on with work. It never ends. But like last week, I am shattered for some reason, and at four I finish and sit on the sofa with Molly and watch a recording of Sunday's football. This is the life. Even better, I have a glass of wine too, just to be a little more decadent!

I cook meat pie for dinner, and not having any gravy, I mix up a fine batch of cheese sauce to go over the vegetables. It really was very nice indeed. And then we have the evening to ourselves, but due to the fact we are both shattered, we end up heading for bed at nine.

So it goes. So it goes.

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Thursday 12th November 2015


Another day at the coalface.

Onoly I wake up with dawn showing in the gaps of the curtains, lighting up the suite I find myself in. I have a long, long shower. Seems I may have found the missing I am allergic too: Sanex Shower Gel! Being as it is supposed to be very good for your skin, I hadn't really thought of it. But for most of the year, I have been using the bath cream, as we accidentally bought that rather than shower gel: hence no allergies. And as I don't take any shower gel with me when I travel, and I very rarely get attacks then, I have put two and two together. Anyway, I wake up without a hint of a cough, sneeze or sniff, which is always a pleasure.

Another single night in a hotel means packing, checking out and loading the car before having breakfast, and then the drive to the office. At least from the Comwell the traffic is not quite as bad as it was the previous week, and soon I am speeding up back out of the city centre, along the main road which will soon have a tramline in the middle.

Despite having a full day of work to do (at least) I spend an hour greeting my colleagues, which is half the pleasure and the good reason for traveling to Denmark as often as possible.

In the end I get down to work, and so the day passes quickly. So quickly that I forget to book my seat on the tiny plane on Thursday when I am to go home. However, there is a fine choice by the time I remember late in the afternoon.

All day the rain had fallen on an already soggy Arhus. The thought of traveling through the rush hour to the airport did not thrill me to say the least, so I wait until quarter to six before setting out. Turned out to be a good decision, as I made good time, and there were no jams at the Arhus Sud junction. I didn't push it, as the motorway was shrouded in spray from the traffic, and all in all, it was a grim experience. So it was good to turn off for the last 40 clicks to Billund.

I am relieved to arrive safe at the airport: I unload the car then walk to the terminal to drop the keys off in the office. And as usual I stop at the cafe for my usual burger, fries and a a large beer. Large Christmas beer as it turned out.

There is a short three minute walk through the heavy drizzle to the hotel: I check in and take to my room, that even with the heating switched off, was still very warm. And so it came to pass that in November I did have to open the window all the way to bring the room temperature to a bearable level. In Denmark. Mad times.

Only trouble with that is that, what with being next to an airport is that every 15 minutes or so, there is a flight inbound or leaving, engines revving, drowning out the radio playing on my computer. Oh well.

Anyway, home tomorrow, four days in Chez Jelltex, and then I'm back here. Again.


Wednesday 11th November 2015


The alarm went off at quarter past five. Still the middle of night as far as I’m concerned, but there is a train to catch. Once upon a time I would be excited to be travelling anywhere, let along on a plane to Denmark, but as this is something like my 35th business trip this year, it is beyond routine, I hardly think about it, other than to make sure I have passport and travel information with me.

We have coffee and I make the final checks before it is time to leave. Dawn is in full flow outside, with just a sliver of the old moon visible with the diamond light of Venus showing through gaps in the clouds. It seemed a good day for travel.

The Moon, Venus and Jupiter Jools dropped me off at the station, I get my ticket and wait on the platform for the train. Despite being November it is very mild. I switch on my phone and check on mails, I respond where appropriate and make some calls. Means I am up to date already, and so I can relax on the train. Saying that, the train quickly fills up, as the tired and well dressed city types board and read the latest lies in the red tops.

It is High Tide as we pass Shakespeare Beach, with the sky getting lighter in the east all the time, I could even make out the lights still showing on the French coast some 23 miles away, but they were an hour ahead of us, and onto their third or fourth coffee of the day I would imagine.

Yes, the journey is routine, but still traveling on a train built in Japan, on tracks that lead under the sea and unbroken all the way to the far east in Russia and China is a remarkable thing. But still my eyes droop.

Once in London I have less than two hours before my flight, but I don’t panic. Onto the DLR and 20 minutes later I arrive at the airport, get my boarding pass, check in my case and go through security. I am next to the actress Maureen Lipman, I speak to her briefly, and at some point between that and getting my bag back the other side, I lost my wallet.

The shock of that certainly woke me up: I knew I had it a moment or two before when I transferred it from my jeans pocket to my coat. But once I got my coat back, the pocket was empty. The staff checked everywhere, it wasn’t to be found. I emptied my bag, all my pockets to prove to them it wasn’t there. I was now worried.

And then, a voice goes up from behind me asking whose wallet this is, holding up my wallet. It was on one of the seats beside the scanner. Must have flipped out of my coat as I picked it up.

Panic over.

I go for breakfast, and owing to my new-found egg intolerance, my choices were very limited, so I have porridge and maple syrup, which was just about OK, but being charge seven quid for it was really beyond laughable.

Time to board the flight, and I have a seat near the front, although not on the pilot’s knee. I strap myself in and we are ready to go. Being in the front row means I get served first with drinks and cold breakfast, which by the time I move my watch forward and hour is just about lunchtime.

We fly over thick cloud covering Essex and Suffolk, the North Sea and most of Holland. It parts for a time as we cross the Ijsselmeer, the closes in until we are on final approach to Billund. But then being Denmark, you wouldn’t expect anything less now would you?

I get given a Mitsubishi 4x4 thing to drive, I program the sat nav and set course for north west Jutland and back to Ringkobing.

Autumn is just about over up here in Denmark, a storm at the weekend meant that most of the leaves were now on the ground, leaving a golden carpet. But then again, despite it being just one in the afternoon, with the thick cloud above, it still felt like the light was fading. Anyway, I had two meetings to attend once I got to the hotel, all by the wonder that is Outlook, so I press on, along familiar roads as I travelled up here many times last winter and spring.

I have an hour to spare once I arrive at the hotel, I settle in and connect to the wifi, ready for the first of the meeting.

Those done, I seem to have volunteered to redo the work I spent all of Friday doing, which is par for the course. That’s Wednesday taken care of!

I watch some TV, but it just seems to be Danish language versions of the same crap that fills British TV outside of peak hours. I scroll through them several times just to be sure.

Outside, the wind had picked up somewhat, and this meant that the plan to go on a wander to look for an alternative place to eat was never going to happen. The hotel had a new restaurant open, we were each given a small glass of non-vintage Danish sparkling wine to celebrate, the menu had changed a little, but there was just the four choices of each course, but there was the addition on an a la carte menu. I chose three of the 5 courses from there, and ordered a Christmas beer and waited.

I forgot was a la carte meant, tiny portions, so when the pan fried lobster tail arrived, it was the same at three or four prawns. Tasty but, you know, not enough. If the starter was a disappointment, then the main course which supposed to beef was a major disaster: four shavings of cured beef, two pieces of fried seaweed and a smear of sauce was it. It was really quite funny.

I order a second beer.

The desert arrives, two pieces of what tastes like cheddar and two tiny crackers. And that was it.

I retire to my room and ponder a trip down the road to Maccy D’s, but decide against it in the end. I watch a re-run of a Barcelona game on TV, then call it a night.


I am awake at about six, five in proper British time, but you know, hen in Denmark use their time I suppose.

I have to pack, but skip the shower, only to realise later in the day that I have no trace of allergy at all. How odd.

I check out, have breakfast, which is mainly bacon rolls and coffee. Lots of coffee. That done, I am left with a 15 minute drive the factory,a nd wait for my colleagues and the customer to arrive. Deep breath, here we go again!

The day goes OK, and at four in the afternoon we are done, and I am left with a 140km drive to Arhus. Now, I have described Denmark, or Jutland anyway, as like being a slightly hilly Norfolk. Which it has been pointed out is damning with faint praise, and Simon maybe has a point. But Jutland just rolls along, mile after mile, unchanging, fields, woods, farms and small towns. Looking over the countryside, which in Norfolk would be dotted with church towers, is just fields, woods and farms into the distance.

I drive on, and as the light fails I make it onto the motorway, drive north into the middle of rush hour in Arhus. I am staying at the Comwell, which is easy to get to, and even more surprising has parking spaces. Lucky me. Even luckier was that I am given a suite on the 5th floor, with space to stretch out and relax, even if it is for a short time.

Life is suite At six I go for a wander to try to find the way to the city centre and a place to have a drink. In a similar story to Rat Trap, I had reached down into the pocket of my work jacket I had last worn in March last year, and found 99Kr, enough, as it turned out, for 3 bottles of Christmas beer.

Happy Holiday from Denmark I walk past the railway station and down the long main street, lined with shops, all of them decked out for Christmas, which in the case of toy shops is fine, but opticians? Christmas glasses anyone?

I make it to the main square, and find the Irish bar I know was there. I grab a bottle of beer, settle down to watch more football on TV, not sure if it was live or not, not that it really mattered. I get a call from my old friend, who used to work for the customer but now works for us, where am I, and should he come and join me? So I tell him, and in 2o minutes he arrives, buy me another beer and we chat.

Arhus at night We move onto a place to eat: a steak restaurant that also brews its own beer. Another one of them win/win situations. The beer is good, the steak is good. It is ten, and time to walk back to the hotel, past the dregs of Danish society that is out and about at that time, in the rain. I take some shots of the streets, but not having my proper camera, all fail. Oh well.