Sunday, 29 January 2017

Saturday 28th January 2017

Saturday morning, and already the plan for the day had formed and laid out, and mostly agreed. We would go out beyond Ashford to the badlands that are round Tenterden and Rolvenden, to visit a plant nursery and to take in some churches whilst we were there, and maybe have lunch out, what with us having just been paid and all. And with having lunch out it meant not having to go shopping, so once we had made coffee and ate some fruit, we could go. That is until I remembered I had a hire car to pick up, so just after eight, Jools takes me down Jubilee Way to the port where the paperwork was still being filled in., but within a few minutes I have the keys to an Hyundai stationwagon thing, which has a glass roof all the way along, I just need some of them summer days in which to enjoy it.

I drive back up the hill and along the Deal Road to home, where we pack our car with camera gear and coats, and we're ready to go.

We take the sat nav, and instead of the way we would have gone, via Ashford and the A28, it takes us to Ham Street instead, then cross-country to Tenterden, which seemed to knock 20 minutes off the trip. And of course, allowed us to cruise through some of the wonderfully attactive villages along the way, and me smugly mark off the churches I had already visited and photographed.

Where we were going is as far west as you can go and still be in Kent: Tenterden is home to the start of a preserved railway, The Kent and East Sussex, and it is there which we have mainly visited the town for. However, as we entered the town, driving along it's narrow streets made narrower by parked cars, as we turned onto the wide main street, I saw the pinnacled tower of the parish church, and I realised that we had not visited it before.

Twenty eight We had to turn across the busy traffic coming the other way, and down the narrow Church Street, but there was a parking space, so taking that, I jumped out and was full of the joys at the thought of some Grade A church crawling.

St Mildred, Tenterden, Kent St Mildred is on a grand scale, lots of nooks and crannies to explore and snap. Most wonderful feature is the 15th century roof, which is really special, all wooden checkerboard patterns. Good glass, a nice alabaster memorial. A great start to the day.

St Mildred, Tenterden, Kent Back in the car, and onto the garden centre, which was to close for the day at twelve, so we had better get a move on. We follow the sat nav to the village of Rolvenden, past two fine looking pubs and a splendid looking church, out along a road west before turning off down a narrow lane to a crossroads nestled in the fold of a down, out of the wind and quite warm in the weak sunshine. On the other side of the rad were the rows of plants showing where the nursery was, so we drove to the entrance of what seemed like a farm. There was no shop, no tea shop, no ice creams, no one in fact.

We go in, and seeing no one about, we wander around what we hoped was the right place. We find the wisteria, and there is a choice, but all are sleeping for the season, and we just had the label description to go on. We pick two plants, and are then met by the owner who tells us what great choices we have made and is glad to take our £46. Of course.

St Mary the Virgin, Rolvenden, Kent We manage to get the plants in the car, and drive back to Rolveneden so I could visit the church, and if we timed it right, or I took my time, the pub would open in half an hour and we could have lunch.!

St Mildred, Tenterden, Kent St Mary is a large and impressive church, most noticeable for the family pews situated in a gallery above the floor of the church in the south east corner. The family is Gybbon, and also, wonderfully, the Moneypennies. No sign of any Bonds though.

St Mary the Virgin, Rolvenden, Kent At the west end, the impressive organ also sits on a gallery, with another family pew beside it. Both are open to visit and take pictures from.

St Mary the Virgin, Rolvenden, Kent Beneath the Gybbon gallery/pew, there is a small family chapel, it's roof made so low by the gallery, one has to stoop to walk through, but one is then faced with the impressive family monuments and memorials.

I am done, and it is five past twelve; opening time, or just gone. We drive to The Bull Inn, and get a table. I have a pint of Harvey's Best, which is good, then order venison steak with a port and redcurrant jus and seasonal vegetables. Jools has game pie, and when they come, both are wonderful. We know how to live.

The pub fills up and we people watch, most interesting are the very posh couple with the improbably huge dog which has taken them for a very muddy walk. They seem nice enough and friendly, the dog likes the smell of my dinner, so I growl at hom and the lady yanks his lead and he slouches away, but looks back at me longingly. Or looks at my dinner.

Some wide boys arrive, and are talking car repairs loudly over pints of faux Italian lager, so we pay and leave, taking one last look at the picture postcard village, full of clapboard houses, all whitewashed.

We call in at one last church on the way home, Sandhurst, situated at the end of a long dead end lane, and looking low and grim in the fading light as stormclouds sweep over the downs. We walk along the last part of the green track to the church, find the door open, and inside it is wonderful, and we marvel at the mediaeval glass in two of the windows. It is well maintained and a joy really to visit.

St Nicholas, Sandhurst, Kent But the day is done, and it is time to drive home, listen to the football on the radio on the way, and finding Liverpool had lost at home to Wolves in the lunchtime game, then amazed at Brighton lost to Lincoln, Oxford beat Newcastle and in the league, City beat Birmingham 2-0. Amazing.

There is stuff on the TV to watch, a documentary, then have a Twiglet and wine party just before bedtime, in which I made a bottle of wine vanish.

127 words

BE IT ENACTED by the Queen’s most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present

Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:—

1 Power to notify withdrawal from the EU

(1) The Prime Minister may notify, under Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union, the United Kingdom’s intention to withdraw from the EU.

(2) This section has effect despite any provision made by or under the European Communities Act 1972 or any other enactment.

2 Short title

This Act may be cited as the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Act 2017.

And in those 127 words, the Government is hoping to be able to pass through Parliament legislation that will allow it to trigger Article 50, or give the EU notification of our notice to leave the EU. Although, the bill fails to define what the EU in the context of the bill is. Is the European Parliament, or is it the Single Market, is it the Customs Union, all three, two from three.

A number of amendments are being proposed, some of which might make it to the final bill, the Government is hoping none will. Jeremy Corbyn, the waste of space that is the Labour Leader is stating that there will be a 3-line whip on the vote, and so supports the bill. And any front bench member that votes against it will be sacked from the shadow cabinet. This coming from an MP who voted with the conservatives more than he did from his own party.

All we want, and may MPs want is proper oversight, that the best deal is indeed obtained for Britain, and if not, be able to stop it. High hopes, but then coming from a PM who said there would be no running commentary, only to produce a running commentary. Also said there would be no bill on the triggering, and yet there is a bill. And there would be no vote on the deal there will be a vote, although that may be a Hobson's Choice by then. But if the process can be reversed, either by Britain alone of by the agreement of the EU27, then who knows?

The PM visited Washington this week to meet with Trump, and was photographed holding hands as they walked down stairs together. It might yet become an image to haunt her. Trump said that Britain would get a quick trade deal, but what would that deal look like? All through the election campaign, Trump has always said that it would be America First (sic), jobs and business for America, and where there is a trade deficit, a new deal would produce a surplus for the US. And as Britain is in the black in trade with the US, any deal would be far worse than what we have now. How's that for a special relationship? Of course I could be reading that wrong, and the US might grant Britain special status, flowing us with great deals and not wanting to get access to the NHS or aerospace industry.

Even when the US President introduced immigration controls that appeared to be unconstitutional and against international agreements, May did not criticise; so that is what wanting a post-Brexit deal is, siding with demagogues. Her second international visit this week was to Turkey where she signed an arms deal with that country's leader. Another leader that stomps on free press, and liberties, all in the name of trade. See how our values are up for auction for the prices of some aircraft wings or jam exports?

Reality will always stalk and beat the Brexiteers, but hubris will never allow them to admit the poor hand they have dealt themselves, and think issuing threats to the EU about what we would do if our two of clubs isn't allowed to win is as hollow as a hollow thing.

Do I think Brexit will happen?

A few months ago, I thought not, but I see that there is resolve, hard resolve to deliver something, no matter how bad, to show that it could be done. In the background there are MPs who are pushing for a harder than hard Brexit, regardless of the pain it will cause in the short and long term. One would like to think when they sau=y "how hard can it be" they really don't understand the question. They do, but any pain would not affect them, but suits their political view to blame all the country's ills on the EU or immigrants.

If the Article 50 process can be reversed (The Dublin Case), then a bad deal might be avoided, at which point, the whole thing would grind to a halt. To kill Brexit, we need to stare into the abyss as a country, and see the pain and disaster, and never want to repeat it. At the moment, I think there will be a Brexit, and at the moment, it will be hard, as that is the easiest, and maybe the only Brexit that can be delivered. Even then, demands and threats make even that impossible.

Saturday, 28 January 2017

Friday 27th January 2017

Pay day.

Not that we were broke or anything, but 33 days since the last one, and lets just say things were stretched. Anyway, we're minted now, which is nice.

And it is Friday, last day of the working week. I am home, I have cats, tea, and central heating, so all is good. I mention the heating because it is darn cod here. Not really cold, but there has been a week where the temperature has barely risen above freezing, you need the heating on most of the time just to keep it warm, otherwise it takes 6 hours to warm the place up. Once we are up, and the heating switches on, it feels like a fridge, so I wear a t short and a work shirt just for the additional layer.

Here comes the sun Sunrise now is over 20 minutes earlier than a month ago, spring is coming; there are bulbs shooting in the garden, it just doesn't feel like it. Heck, we even had snow flurries just before sunrise. A dusting and that was it, but yer actual snow. The cats were not impressed and stayed in.

I had work to do, so made a second coffee and got down to it.

There is little in the house for lunch; I find some chili in the freezer, in a bag. Ten minutes in the microwave and the ball of red ice is a piping hot meal. Amazing. And I was tempted to have either a beer or glass of wine with it, but that would not be wise on a work day, when there was more work to be done. So I have squash and catch up on the news headline, which, not to too fine a point on it, have been horrendous, like a car crash, and all those who said Trump would mellow in office I hope y'all choking on those words. It seems out only hope is he will get bored, or too annoyed at those who speak out against him. His gripe this week was with the media who reported that the crowds for his inauguration were well down on Obama's. They were just reporting facts. Lying media, apparently. As it is bound to be in these post-truth, alternative fact days.

Green Woodpecker On Holocaust Memorial Day, Trump banned immigration form 7 countries, none of which were the ones in the Middle East where he has business interests, and not one was Saudi where most of the terrorists for September 11 came from. Trump has business there. And amazingly, the ban affects those who had legal approval to stay, and were stopped at the border when they tried to return home. Home of the free, right there. But then T. May was in Washington too, and could not bring herself to speak against Trump, whose hand she held as they walked down some stairs. Trump also made clear he wanted torture to be used, May could not speak against that either. Hamstrung by Brexit, and desperate for a trade deal. Allowing American health care companies into the NHS.

About that £350million a week?

Jools came home at three, we had a coffee then rounded up the twins as they needed their jabs. Always a challenge, but we did it with both asleep on the beds upstairs. Quick as a flash, they're in their baskets, and we're taking them to the car and then onto the vet's as quick as possible so Mulder's bowels don't give up. As its just a ten minute drive, Jools is ok, and is back home within the hour. THey vet's have new premesis; a special waiting room for cats, and Simon's cat videos playing.

My allergy attack subsides through the afternoon, to the point at dusk when I was breathing clearly. In order not to trigger a further attack I had skipped a shower on Thursday, but needed on on Friday. I tried to use as little shapoo and shower gel when I did, but within an hour I was sniffing and coughing again. Not as bad, but still. Bugger.

Twenty seven We have a Tesco curry box for dinner; not as good as the real thing, but for a tenner, hard to beat.

In the evening we watch another documentary, this time on Florence, and a reminder of how wonderful if would to go back. Now I have enough BA points for nearly eight return trips in Europe..... I see a plan forming.

Friday, 27 January 2017

Thursday 26th January 2017

I mention my allergy attacks to allow me to tack them, to maybe see some kind of pattern. I'm sure it gets boring, but in trying to find a pattern, maybe the trigger, I will be able to beat it once and for all.

As it was, as soon as I went to bed on Wednesday night, I felt my airways getting blocked, not as bad as some times, but enough to restrict my breathing, and mean that sleep would not come. And then my brain, which up to that point had said how tired it was, woke up, and went into overdrive. Midnight came and went, as did one. I took drigs, all the ones I had, but it made no difference. I suppose I did drop off for a while, maybe after one, or half past. But I was awake at quarter to five, quarter to four UK time.

My brain was awake, so best get up and ready for the journey back. I decide not to have a shower, as it was likely it was having a shower that caused the attack in the first place. I pack, get dressed and go down to check out. Its too early for breakfast, but as I have the key to the lounge now, I knew I could eat there.

Into the Beamer, loading the cases in the back, and out onto the quiet streets, making my way past the port and out to the start of the motorway.

I felt tired, my eyes itched, so I took it easy, but the car was eager to go faster, so i might have sped a little. But up the main road to Billund then to the airport, I made it in one piece and not felt unable to drive at all. Which was nice.

At the BA desk, there was a couple; now I hate to jump to conclusions, but a man in his late 60s with an oriental lady some 25 years his junior, maybe they met at work, and no via mail order. I don't know. I do know that they had so much luggage, and were arguing with the excess baggage they were being charged, and that when they got to London, they would have to collect their bags for the connecting flights. Ten minutes later they're still at it, finally checking in each chase, weighing at least 20kg each.

I finally get to check my bags in, but by that time there was a massive queue at security, so I go to the cafe and buy breakfast. Or the company does anyway, so I can sit and eat a roll whilst those on the way to the sun file through.

Any by the time I'm done, there is no queue, and I can put my stuff on the belt for the scanner, go through then go up to the lounge for more coffee. I can check mails, and generally while away the hour before going to board the plane.

Twenty six Out on the pan it is cold, and the flight is pretty full, I have chosen a seat on the other side of the aircraft from usual so I can snap The Shard as we turn onto final approach, if we land from the west anayway. Tell me this is normal for people to do this?

As soon as I am in my seat, I close my eyes and sleep fitfully once we take off, clearing above the mist in the first few seconds of the flight, emerging into glorious early morning sunshine. I close my eyes, and am soon asleep, missing breakfast and coffee.

Somewhere over the North Sea I wake to find us circling somewhere east of London. Down below there is a complete covering of low cloud or mist, right from horizon to horizon. NO chance of snaps then it seemed.

We go round and round, dropping lower and lower, and then begin to circle round south London, and still the ground was lost to sight. We turn, I guess at Crystal Palace and again at Battersea, the ngines change in tone, flaps are adjusted, and still no sign of the ground.

Landing gear is lowered, engine not increases higher and higher in tone. I hope the pilot is not about to fly us into Canary Wharf. And then I see the tops of the office buildings melt into view, we cross the river, fly over the Millennium Dome, back over the river and down onto the ground again.

Dome A long walk down the terminal building to go through immigration, collect my case then walk through the main concourse to the DLR station, where a train for Stratford had just arrived, and I manage to squeeze on just as the doors closed. I wouldn't make the quarter to ten train, and would therefore have a 50 minute wait for the next one, but it felt good to me moving nearer home.

At Stratford, I go to the cafe for coffee and a bun. Cherry and coconut muffin. Coconut not my favourite food, but nice enough. But its cold in the concourse, and I felt it would be warmer down on the platform below, standing up. So I go down, hoping to see a passing Eurostar. But its quiet, nothing to see, just the train before mine, which was going along the Medway Valley line to Ramsgate.

Stratford Departure My train arrives, and so sink into a seat at a table, finish reading WSC as we power through the tunnel towards Dagenham. Out into the murky light alongside the Thames, past the car plant, the abandoned and partly demolished industry, and the new small business units which count as industry these days. Under the river and into Kent.

The taxi is waiting for me, so I load my case itno the back, and I am taken home past the castle to the Deal road.

I am home, but have a stinking headache. I make a cuppa, have a sandwich, then take to the sofa, until it being so cold in the house, I go to bed. I put the heating on, but it takes 6 hours for the house to warm up.

We have huge bowls of soup for dinner once Jools comes home. It warms the cockles of our hearts.

There is TOTP from 1983, all Belle Stars and Men at Work, at least they seemed to be having a good time. I was 16 when this was first broadcast.

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Wednesday 25th January 2017

I suppose work is mundane most of the time. Even in the RAF, most of the time it was mostly mundane. Count fuses, issues ammunition, clear the firebreaks, deliver the missiles. Sounds exciting, most of the time we sat around drinking tea, or play cricket or bodgeball somewhere where the SNCOs couldn't find us. Or so we thought. When I am in Esbjerg, I do pretty much the same thing I do when I am at home or in Oostende; read and snswer mails, review documentation and file things away on sharepoint. The only difference is the view out of the window.

And that is the truth.

Anyway; Wednesday, last day of the short trip to Denmark, so I set the alarm for half six, have a shower and get dressed. The breakfast room was crowded, but there are two colleagues from another project, so we sit at the same table and chat about turbines. As you do.

I drive to the office, and some wanker has taken my desk. Bastard. So I steal someone else's, which is what happens. I don't have a desk, per se, just I usually nab the desk in the spare office, but not today. And then, the usual stuff (see above).

After the 25th coffee of the morning, I go out with Brian to look at our lovely turbines, all ready to be loaded onto the vessel next week. The blades look great, stored on facks close to the ground. And standing at the tip it looks like thy go on forever. I take a shot. Ot two.

Twenty five Elsewhere, I can see that we are running out of turbine components, over half are now offshore, amazing to see how far we have come.

I hear that Butchers now do lunches: steak at midday seems a bit over the top, but burgers were mentioned, and as I seem to have caught up with work, why not? I take a colleague with me, driving to the restaurant. Sadly, a large part had just sat down before us, which mean we are waiting ages to order food, then for it to come. I have ceasar salad, which comes in a dish as big as a bathtub. There are rolls, fries and garlic bread. I won't need any of those things.

We are late for the afternoon work, so rush back and he gets working, and I go back to the office to check mails.

Cake! is the cry, there is cake. Cake, you say? I say. I go and they lied. There are 5 cakes. And all lovely and sweet and very bad. So good. Cake on top of huge salad means I should not need to eat until tomorrow at least.

I go back to the hotel at four, put the radio on then sleep for nearly two hours, something I would regret later. But after another shower I think I should go for dinner. I should have walked to Dronning Louise, but it is cold outside, and they do burgers in the hotel. So, I find myself being shown to a table, the waitress is trying to tell me the special for the day, but I want burger. With cheese. With onion rings.

Which I do, and it is bad and yet wonderfully good.

Back in my room I find there is League Cup football to watch, and I am riveted to it so have to see if Southampton can knock Liverpool out. They go and score a winner in the last minute. Anfield went silent, then the fans filed out, all over for another year. And with it being nearly eleven, time for bed, as tomorrow, I will try to get home.

May fought the law, and the law won

Yesterday, at the Appeal Court, all 11 appeal judge gathered to deliver their judgment on the legal challenge to the Government whether it had the prerogative rights to trigger Article 50 without Parliament's approval.

The Government lost on an 8-3 split, and on the surface that would seem to be a bad result for the PM. But in other judgments, they also ruled that the PM need to seek approval from the devolved institutions, that would have been a major problem.

So instead of attacking the judges, most comments were of approval, well, except from the Daily Mail, of course, but this means that forever now, where a repeal of a law of change in a treaty that loses citizens their rights, will have to be by a law passed by Parliament; the power of the executive has been reduced forever.

The Government will have to publish a draft bill, and today, not only that but will also publish a White Paper which can be debated, and maybe the bill itself could have clauses added. Or not. Or, as has been suggested, the bill could give Parliament the right to stop the process after Article 50 has been notified, thus making the final Parliamentary Approval not just a Hobson's Choice, but a real one with power.

This was not just a victory for the lead case, but to all of us who helped crowdfund the original case. Ordinary people, challenged the executive on a point of law, and won. It might be a hollow victory in this case, but the power is gone, limited, defined for ever.

Legally, the Government does not have to consult or seek the approval from Wales, Northern Ireland or Scotland, but it cannot ignore them either, as this would almost certainly lead to the break up of the Union, and would that be a price worth paying for Brexit? Even before then, scrutiny will put costs to the pain coming from any Brexit plan, and in time, some remorse, maybe even enough to cancel the whole folly will happen. Or not.

Tuesday 24th January 2017

I was awake at the crack of half seven, which in old money was half six. So, not bad.

It did mean I was late, late for the office, but then I am a manager and so who is going to tell me off? Apart from me.

So, I have a shower, get dressed and go down for breakfast, which was crowded, as there seemed to be a coach full of tourists in. I mean who goes to Denmark in January, part from me.

Breakfast done, I drive to the office, get a desk in the spare office, and begin work. It seems odd, that I have never had my own desk, or not since I lost the one in Ramsgate, which seems like a lifetime ago. I have to hot-desk with people, making myself home where I can.

And somehow, I am snowed under, so much so that I look at the clock and find it half twelve. There is a meeting in the building, which means we get to feast off their unwanted sandwiches, or the odd open Danish sandwiches anyway. The beef, senf and pickles ones are great, and so I manage to make two of those vanish.

In the afternoon, there is more of the same, and before I know it, others are leaving for the day. I wait until half four before leaving myself, driving back to the hotel and going to my room to listen to the radio and lay in bed, trying not to snooze.

Twenty four At half six I go downstairs to the lobby to meet up with Brian, not me, another Brian, and he drives us across town to Bones, as we decided to feast upon ribs. Bones is a chain, but the ribs are great, really tender. As we arrive before seven, its full, but we get a table and soon am supping on craft beer, a bottled IPA, and wait for the ribs to arrive. Also included are unlimited trips to the salad bar. All good, really.

The ribs arrive, and we fill the small bin in the middle of the table with bones. Nom, nom, nom.

I walk back to the hotel, down the quiet main shopping street, which they are resurfacing again, the second time in about three years. All is locked and dark, but I can see from the street lights and so do some window shopping, mainly in the beer shop, but then I am a creature of habit.

I find some skiing to watch on TV, no idea who won, but passed an hour or so until it was time to sleep.

Monday 23rd January 2017

If you want chaos, we got it! Duh duh duh duhhhhhh.

I was expecting a difficult day, and in the end it wasn't as bad as I feared, nor did I think that until we walked out to the plane that we would even be leaving Britain. But, we did, and I got to work, be it 19 hours later than expected.

The alarm went off at quarter to five, mist was patchy outside, and it looked like maybe I would be OK. Once up, I make coffee and go online to check travel news from Southeastern and London City, neither of which were working at that time, but both suggested no issues.

We left for the station at ten to six, reaching the station 5 minutes later. It was a bitterly cold morning, with the thickest of hoar frosts, everything looked like it had grown a white spiky beard over night. And on the platform it was like being in a deep freeze, the cold settling like a blanket onto the station and tracks. Other passengers arrived before the departure time, meaning it was a bit of a scramble for the prized seats, but I get one of the ones I like, so I am OK for the first part of the trip.

Martin Mill The train fills up, once having left Folkestone, it is standing room only, with mre people piling on at Ashford and Ebbsfleet. It began to get light, and although there was some mist, even along the river, it was clear enough suggesting that there might not be any issues after all.

I have breakfast at Stratford, but the station concourse is like a fridge this time of year, the poor girls serving look frozen already, and the tikka cheese melt I had wasn't warm all the way through, but warm enough. Anyway, the coffee was good.

I take the DLR to the airport, expecting chaos and found no queues, in fact it was quieter than normal. I drop my bag off, walk past the queues for Cityjet and go to immigration, where there are no lines at all, so settling in a seat by gate 3 to read and check mails. All seemed too easy, I smiled at myself for thinking there would be problems....

"Will passengers for flight BA 8210 for Billund please make themselves known" Oh oh.

I go to the desk, please go down to the ticket desk downstairs to find that the flight has been diverted, and that we have to go to Southend. Oh bugger.

Now, this had happened before, so it didn't come as a shock, that a flight with 30 people on board should land somewhere quieter, and we on the return flight should go there to join it.

I met up with a colleague, and so I was chatting to him whilst trying to ensure I got a place in a taxi to Southend.

Taxis were arranged, but as I waited, it became clear I had been forgotten about, so I speak up, and am taken out and put in a taxi on my own.

What can I tell you, I had been put in a tax, driven by a bloke who had never been there before, who was looking at his laptop as he drove for instructions, outside it was still so cold and misty, the ground and buildings were bleached white with frost. And in the taxi, I could not get the heater to work, so was cold.

Twenty three We drove out through east London along the A13 (trunk road to the sea), past the docks, under the M25 and into the tundra of south Essex. Traffic was heavy, but we were making good time, talking about politics and the wind industry as we went along. Then at Benfleet we hit a traffic jam. Not hit it, but got stuck. 10 miles from the airport.

And so we crept along, inching every few minutes.

The clock ticked onwards. and I began to realise I was in the possession of few facts: what to do when I got to the airport. Whether there would be a plane waiting.

It was just as we reached the front of the queue of traffic at a huge roundabout that things took a turn for the worse. Or the driver did, as he took the wrong exit, heading in the opposite direction from the airport. And there were no turns offs.

On we went in the wrong direction, into Basildon. First chance we did turn round and go back, and from there it was a straightforward run to Southend, turning off to the airport, even if sometimes we did loook like we were running through a housing estate. But we saw the perimeter fence, showing that alough we could not find the terminal, it was around here somewhere.

We turn past a supermarket, and there were the signs to the drop off. I get out out and he is gone, on the look out for some jellied eels for his dinner. I walk to the terminal, to find it nearly deserted. I ask at the information desk, I am directed to a check in desk, and after checning my ticket, they take my case, and I can go upstairs.

You think that airports are the same, or the people that use them are the same, but no. Most of the people I mix with waiting at security were retired, as were those in the lounge beyond, and all waiting for a flight to join a cruise or maybe some winter sun in Spain. There was a lot of socks and sandals on show, and carrying shopping in plastic bags, shows the distrust of foreign food. Maybe.

Our flight was listed, but no gate or time was shown.

I wait.

Go to gate four we are told, so I go to gate fur, and find five other passengers waiting. Our names ar ticked off and we are allowed along the walkway out onto the pan to the plane.

Six of us spread out in the 29 seats, and we go through the usual preparations for take off. The engines start and we move off, going to the end of the runway before the engines roar and we thunder down the runway to lift into the murkey air, and leave the fog and pollution behind us. Above the clouds, the sky is clear and blue. We are served breakfast, at half one in the afternoon, and afterwards I snooze.

Denmark is warmer than Blighty for once, we bounce down on the runway, and there is the usual rush to be first standing up and off the plane. I repeat there are just six of us.

We join a flight from Turkey that had just landed, and so wait in line at immigration. My gad is waiting, so I take that, go to the car hire place and collect my keys, now no signature required, and go to find my BMW. It is a huge black estate thing, but with a lively engine and fun to drive.

I know the way, of course, and it is a short 40 blast to get to the motorway into Esbjerg, and as it was now gone fur in the afternoon, no point in going to the office, instead go straight to the hotel, pick up a bottle of coke and some peanuts before going to my room to collapse on the bed whilst I listen to the radio.

I walk down to the restaurant at half six, order cheeseburger and onion rings for dinner, and swiftly make that vanish.

And that was the excitement done.

Back in my room I put on a music documentary, lay in bed and fall asleep. An hour later I wake up when it is done. In cleaning my teeth and the usual stuff one does before bed, my brain wakes up and so sleep would not return for an hour. I take some drugs for my allergy and congestion, then go back to bed, and sleep quickly comes.

What a day.

Sunday 22nd January 2017

As is usual when there is the prospect of a week away, Sunday was spent, for the most part, relaxing, and doing as little as possible.

We got up to find that fog had drifted in during the night, and the sun rise was lost in the murk. But at times about half an hour from sunrise through till late in the afternoon, it did break through sometimes, even if the village and most of the rest of the world was lost in fog.

Twenty Two I watch football, as is usual. And Jools goes out to clear some of the dead leaves and plants from the garden, So I watch her working from my seat on the sofa.

After breakfast, I go out to help, pruning the acers mainly. But the garden does look good, with the ground pierced by hundreds of shooting spring bulbs. Along the road, the house at the garden still have no daffodils in bloom, meaning they are a month behind last year, but there was no really mild spell in December which allowed them to be in bloom before Christmas 2014. Hopefully, the frosty weather will spend the end for many snails and slugs, as we have suffered quite a plague of them in the past three years, as winters have not been cold enough to kill them off.

The morning passes with more radio, more photo editing, more coffee and the thought of lunch. Lunch itself is pizza. Shouldn't have been, but they were there, and there was cold beer. This did mean we were not hungry through the afternoon, although the final four mince pies could be heard calling, and so were shared out over coffee. This meant that come six, and when all the football was done for the day, chorizo hash was scrapped for dinner, instead having sandwiches for supper.

The fog got thicker, and the forecast was for worse in the morning, and even worse in London. And I was supposed to be flying to Denmark, it promised to be an interesting day ahead. Best get some sleep.

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Saturday 21st January 2017

As I have said before, some days I feel more inclined to write than on others, and when I don't feel well on a day after when I also did not feel well, and all I did was work from home on the dining room table, then the posts will get a little samey, I guess. And for you, dear readers, you might wonder why I bother. I guess it has become a habit, and not all days will be dull and boring, others will be more interesting. And with that in mind, I can tell you we are about to go into two weeks away, and then if I'm lucky, a week off. So plenty to look forward to, even if this week as been a bit whiny.

Contrails Last weekend, I spent Saturday and Sunday sorting through my Flickr account, creating sub-folders for each Kentish church, and in doing so, I found that some of the shots from the churches I visited on the Grain Peninsula were not as good as they should have been. So I suggested to Jools we visit the area, and she was more than happy, as villages on the edge of the Thameside marshes is unusual, and other-worldly. And with no shopping to do, we could set off fairly early.

Parallel Clouds Even if in reality we, or rather I was, slow in getting ready, but we loaded the car and pulled out of the driveway at just before half seven, turning down Station Road and then towards Dover through Westcliffe. Passing along the twisting road, we come across a buzzard, just sitting on a hedgerow beside the road, almost within touching distance, but we were past it before realising, and certainly no chance for a shot. Along the A2, we pass two more buzzards, just sitting beside the road, maybe waiting for the day to warm up and thermals to begin to rise? I don't know.

St Mary, Higham, Kent Along past Canterbury, in traffic that seemed to be in a hurry, but we keep to the speed limit, and soon turn onto the motorway, driving west past Faversham towards the Medway towns, across the river itself before taking the main road towards Grain.

St Mary, Higham, Kent Traffic was light, and anyway, we turned off at the first junction, taking the road towards Higham, and the first church.

Higham is a large village now, with a modern centre some way away from the ancient church of St Mary. The Victorians built a new church near the new centre, and St Mary just slept on the edge of the marshes. Higham is an ancient village, once at the end of a ferry service to Essex, accessible along a wide Roman road, which joined up with Watling Street to the south. In the 19th century, Charles Dickens moved here,a nd the opening part of Great Expectations was set (probably) in Higham's churchyard, so close as it is to the marshes. The reference to the lozenge-shaped graves almost certainly is a reference to nearby Cooing church, were there are the graves of two adults with 13 grave markers for children. Not that all the children might be of those adults, but still it is a chilling reminder of how hard life must have been.

St Mary, Higham, Kent Now St Mary lies at the end of a long dead end lane, overlooking the fields that have been made after draining the marshes. The River Thames is some way away now, and the branch line to Grain passes between the church and river, meaning we got a good view of the church as we trundled past at the end of last year.

St Mary, Higham, Kent The church is under the care of the Church Conservation Trust, so I know it will be open, even arriving before ten. We take the lane from the village centre, driving down the side of the shallow slope leading to the marshes, and the church.

St Mary, Higham, Kent It is a fabulous location, just a handful of houses now shelter around the church, and the lane ends with a gate leading to a small field and the railway beyond. We park and get the camera gear together, now armed with the wide zoom, I can get the shots I want inside, without blurring, and indeed, I do get them. In fact I see so many more details this time round, and enjoy the church more so, mainly becasue there are no creepy scarecrows around. You had to be there.

We look round the churchyard to see if we can find relatives of a friend of mine; we don't, but as usual remark on the cluster of family markers, or an unusual name or two.

A short drive away is Cliffe.

Cliffe is interesting as it shares the name of a part of our village, but to avoid confusion between the two, ours is now called Westcliffe. Cliffe is another large village, with a green with shops on two sides, all seem to be well used. THere is traffic calming barriers all along the main road, which must work as it seems to take ages to get to St Helens.

In visiting nearly 300 churches in Kent, St Helen's is probably the most striking and beautiful, layered as it is with black flint and white stone, making it look like a huge decorated cake. And this is accentuated on a bright sunny day, as the sun sparkles off the black flint, and the church contrasts of the deep blue sky behind. It also looks over the rover, and I guess that in earlier times the river was much closer to the village as dies now, because bodies that used to flat down the Thames from London, used to wash ashore here, needing the building of a Charnel House to house the found bodies. Not that that happens now of course.

Twenty One When I walk into the church, I am met by a warden who made me very welcome indeed. Since my last visit the threat of the Boris Island airport has gone, but now there is the chance of a new Thames Crossing, which might be built from Grain over to Essex. There is always something. And either the airport or new crossing will turn what is now the quietest corner of Kent into a place of great movement and shatter the peace and quiet forever. But then that is the price of progress.

The church itself, is impressive. In several places wall paintings either depicting stories of the saints, or geometric patterns on the columns are still easily visible, showing that the Puritans weren't always good at erasing the imagery of the past. I take shots again, and once again see many more details, so snap just about all of it. And I think had we not made our excuses and left then, we might have still been there, chatting about parish life on the edge of the river.

Our next target, my target, was Allhallows, a small village beside the main road leading to Grain. We drive along narrow lanes until we come to the village, and between 90 degree bends sits All Saints, a small but attractive ancinet church. Sadly, despite the new information board, listing all the wonderful things to see inside the church, I found it locked fast. I looked round to see if my presence had been noticed. But no. So I take a couple of record shots, go back to the car.

Once final call was Stoke. Not Stoke on Trent, but the trio of small villages on the other side of the main road, Middle, Lower and Upper. Ss Peter and Paul is in Upper Stoke, and is another ancient church whose Victotianisation mean it is hard to judge its age. I walk up the icy path, and to no surprise, I find it locked too. So, I take more record shots, and call it a day.

I could have taken Jools to more churches, I had had my eye on one in the Medway Valley, but with it being half twelve, we were hungry, so I drive us to High Halstow, site of another church I had visited on a previous visit, but this to call in at the Red Dog for a pint and a bite to eat.

It is friendly enough, so we share nachos and a bowl of onion rings. And that has filled us up, so, once we had drunk up, we walk back to the car and drive home.

We drive back to the motorway and retrace our tyre tracks back east, past Sittingbourne, Faversham and Canterbury, arriving home just after two, just in time to hear the end of the Liverpool v Swansea game, to which I find Swansea were 3-2 up with ten minutes to go. And that's the way it stayed.

City were to play Wolves, and I gave them little chance. So it comes as no surprise to hear they won 3-1, scoring the penalty after the Wolves' keeper had been sent off.

In the evening, we went to the Swingate to meet with Breesha who had left where Jools works, so it was a chance to catch up. I and her partner, James, were mostly quiet as office gossip was swapped as we ordered and ate spicy Indian food.

It was a good night, the food great, and for an evening

after Christmas, was packed, with many people waiting for a table to become free.

And that is it, time to go home, puton my dressing gown and watch the football on C5, just because we hadn't lost. A good day.

Saturday, 21 January 2017

New deals

Much was made by weasel in chief, Nigel Farrage, and the Right leaning red top tabloids this week, with Donald Trump suggesting that Britain would be forst in the queue in getting a trade deal with his new US administration. Oh goody, nothing to worry about then, all will be well.

At the same time, the PM stated that no deal with the EU would be better than a bad deal. Which is fine, until you look at what Trump has been saying through the past two years, and again in his rambling acceptance speech yesterday. Making America great again, America first, deal will be done in America's interest. So, would no deal with the US also be better than a bad deal? I mean I could do a deal with the US and any other country you can mention, they won't be good deals, but they would be deals. The better the deal, the more time they take, and the more experienced negotiators needed. Something Britain is painfully short of, as they all work for the EU at the moment. We will have to hire them in. Foreign trade negotiators, to negotiate our trade deals.

Taking back control right there.

And David Davis stated this week, after being asked if the Civil Service could cope with Brexit, he answered that it coped with WWII, so Brexit would be fine. ONly it had to triple in size for the war. And in the last 6 years it has shrunk by 20%. So not easy at all.

And as for taking back control of immigration: well, both India and Australia have bot said that our immigration rules would have to be loosened. More control, right there.

As ever, the Government and Brexiteers talk tough on Brexit and any deals that will be made, but as ever reality will rule. And already Britain has already had to accept the EU's position that no free trade without free movement. Which is why May had to go for the hardest Brexit. The threats were not needed, and will anger our soon to be ex-European friends. Anyway, they are laughing at us, and rightly so.

Finally, Toyota, who we were told signed a deal to make their next two models in Sunderland, have now had a rethink after the PM's speech on Tuesday, and will see how the deal with the EU goes.

Oh dear.

Any deal with the EU will leave Britain poorer, how poorer depends on the terms of that deal. Leavers were sold the idea of the money it would save up and free for the NHS and other worthy things, what will happen when they find it was a bunch of lies spun by snake oil salesmen and charlatans? The wheels will come off, and will come off badly, and unless the process can be stopped, restarted or paused, there will be a whole lot of blame flying round.

Friday 20th January 2017

Friday. At last.

Despite being at home, the week seems to have dragged. Having a short cold and sleeping poorly at times hasn't helped. But now it was nearly the weekend, and the clock was ticking.

You know the score by now, the alarm goes off, Jools goes down to feed the cats, make coffee, while outside dawn arrives, and the sky goes from indigo blue to orange and red. Just like every other morning this week. I can't remember a run of such glorious weather in January, not a breath of wind either. Wowzers.

Twenty I say goodbye to Jools, and she leaves for work. The heating is still warming up, so it is chilly in the house. I also have an audience as I make my breakfast, two of the three cats watch me carefully in case I go to feed them a 2nd breakfast.

I begin work, and as usual there is the usual stuff. I am in a good mood so I have the radio on in the background, as I work away. When the sun rises and shines in the back of the house, it makes the house seem incredibly warm. It feels like spring, although outside it is cooler, of course.

Despite having breakfast at seven, I find myself having lunch at half nine; cheese on toast seems like a good plan, so that's what I do, cutting thick slices of mature cheddar off the block.

When Jools comes back at three, it is time for me to finish for the day too. She has been shopping too, so no need to go to Tesco in the morning. We pack that away, make a brew and have a mince pie each to go with our coffees.

Outside the sun sinks in the west, and the sky turns to orange and then pink. It is fabulous.

And it is the weekend!

And being Friday, Jools goes to the chippy. Nothing like a freshly fried cod, with the batter so crispy, it shatters when you try to cut it.

After that, we watch some TV, some documentary on Naples, another place we have to visit. When I was there with Page and Moy, they told us it was a dangerous place, and bussed us between Pompeii and Herculaneum, and not to walk anywhere. The pictures made it look an incredible place, so much to see and do. And all sitting on top of a super-volcano. And there is as much of the city, underground, carved out of rock than can be seen above it. An amazing place.

Friday, 20 January 2017

Post truth, post fact world

As I write this, Trump has been sworn in as US President, and the White House website has been deleted of any reference to LGBT or climate change. A house of fools.

I have not mentioned the US election in my blogs. In all honesty it has been too depressing, but with the Brexit thing over here, it seemed so far away, and nothing we over here could do about it.

In fact, both the Referendum and the US election were the results of post-fact, post truth, mis-speaking, bare faced lies whoch for the most part were not unchallenged by most of the media. Those that did were accused themselves of spreading fake news. Quite how people will be able to make an informed choice in the futures as more and more fake news will flood both the real and social media. As Churchill said, lies will be halfway round the world before the truth is out. By then it is too late, people only too happy to believe the worst, that a paedophile ring was being run from the basement of a pizza restaurant. That it was a made up story and the building had no basement made no different, people still believe in pizzgate now.

Our only hope is that it won't be as bad as feared. And when I mean our, I mean humanity. But he has the apparent support of both houses, dies not trust the US's own security services, threatens to screw up old alliances, destroy NATO, cancel trade deals.

At home, it is worse, the poor, the non-white, LGBT will suffer, those looking for abortions, Muslims. All will fear for what the future holds. And rightly so. A man with ultimate power and nothing to hold him back, a man apparently beholden to the Russian President.

It is a dark day, and I have no words.

So here is Mr Murrow:

We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason, if we dig deep into our own history and our doctrine and remember that we are not descended from fearful men, not men who feared to write, to speak, to associate, and to defend causes which were for the moment unpopular. This is no time for men who oppose Senator McCarthty's methods to keep silent. We can deny our heritage and our history, but we cannot escape responsibility for the result.

Thursday 19th January 2017

The fridge is looking a little bit bare these days, as we work our way through the cheese mountain and home brew lake. THere is just the cranberry Wensleydale, Stilton and a family sized block of super-strong cheddar left. As for beer, about 20 bottles I guess, and because of the different amounts of sugar put in each, each bottle is very different. A beery lucky dip if you want. Anyway, the reason I mention this is that there were some cold Yorkshire puddings left in the fridge, would it be downmarket to have them for breakfast?

Apparently not, but with a huge cup of coffee, three cold and dried so crispy puddings were made to vanish. And very nice they were too. I mean, people have cold pizza for breakfast, and fish curry, so what's wrong with that? Just don't think less of me....

Anyway, with such a fine start to the morning, and another spanking day outside, things should be going my way. And the work I put in the day before paid dividends as the problems were sorted, and I could get on with the job I had planned for yesterday.

I was working at ten past seven, and with meeting after meeting until half eleven, it vanished and thoughts soon turned to lunch. And looking in the barer fridge, I saw some butter and a jar of mincemeat, so mince pies it was. I mix up some pastry, plop in the mincemeat and pop their tops on, into the oven they go, and twenty minutes later there were ready, all golden and lovely. But they did have to cool.

Nineteen So, with another hot brew, I make two of the pies disappear, and they are lovely, a mix of buttery pastry and spicy filling. Very Festive.

Anyway, the day passes into afternoon, I do my travel expenses, never as bad as feared, and so at three, with another update crashed my work computer, I give up for the day and watch an episode of Time Team on TV before popping in some spuds into the oven to make jackets.

The house filled with the smell of baking potatoes, and so was glorious, and all ready, deep and crisp and even by six, ready for when Jools come back home from work. I make brews, take the spuds out and plonk them on plates, cut open and fill with butter. Perfect.

We watch a documentary on fungi, we had seen it before, but now with our own collection growing in the garden, we are very eager to learn about them.

And that was the day, really.

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Wednesday 18th January 2017

Days like these make you wonder why you ever bothered getting out of bed. Heck, maybe even coming down from the trees was a mistake. Maybe we should never have left the oceans? Yup, worked sucked, sucked like a nuclear powered vacuum cleaner. And there was no escape; not with mobile phones, Skype et al. Bugger.

But it all started out so well, waking up with the dawn creeping up the southern hemisphere of the sky, but it did look cold. Jools made coffee, and I sat in my dressing gown sipping and checking on the interwebs. Outside, to the south, the sky was criss-crossed with contrails. I thought I had better snap the scene lest it not be recorded.

And you will know us by the trails of the dawn I have breakfast, more coffee and put the radio on so to easy myself into the working day. The radio burbles away, the sun rises and birds feed on the seeds I had just put out. All seemed well with the world, although there were lots of mails and calls to deal with.

Late afternoon winter walk There was no dinner to prepare, as we were to have the Scotch Eggs that I made the day before, so easy day! No?

Well, just after lunch, I thought I needed some fresh air, as when I thought about it, I had been in the house mostly since Friday, with just the trip to Tesco to break things up. So, why not go for a walk?

Late afternoon winter walk Why not, indeed?

So I put on my new fleece which Jools bought me, as apparently I looked a tramp in my old one. I mean, I've only had it 15 years, plenty more life in it yet. Anyway, I took my compact camera instead of the DSLR, it does a trick in bright weather. So off I set.

And it was bracing outside, but not a breath of wind, and with most people away at work, so the street was almost empty of cars. Across the fields, there was nothing to stop what breeze there was. Underfoot, the ground was as hard as iron, puddles were frozen solid, and yet with the sun still low in the sky, it had some warmth in its light.

Late afternoon winter walk Through the narrow passageway past the small paddock and then out into Collingwood Road down to Fleet House and the Pig's Copse. Needless to say, there are no pigs there yet, not even the large sow. The horse's paddocks all had horses, all wearing coats or jackets, nibbling at the stunted grass. My back was playing up, only to be expected I suppose, so instead of going down the dip or up to Windy Ridge, I turned round and walked into the rays of the stting sun along Collingwood Road, going along the top of the field which I had walked out along the bottom of.

Late afternoon winter walk Back home I made a huge fresh brew, at which point I found that I had several missed calls and text messages. Oh my word, always something to come and blindside us, and this was one of those occasions. So, problem to deal with, problems which two years ago I would have slept on for at least one night, but now, think about things and act. Make calls, write mails.

Late afternoon winter walk It got sorted within an hour, and with Denmark an hour ahead, colleagues went offline, and in the end I could too.

At four, I went out again to snap the sunset from the top of Station Road. I decided that I could get a view from the fields over to the horizon, or if not the horizon, see far enough to see the sun get redder and dimmer as it sunk lower in the sky.

Evening Gold I get my shots, then walk back down the hill, or halfway down it, back to home in the gathering gloom of a winter's evening.

I crack open a bottle of the Christmas ale, put the radio on and watched the sky go to pink to dark blue and finally to black as night came.

Rolling in the gloaming Scotch Eggs and beer for dinner, along with come radio comedy and each other's company, of course.

Sunset over Duke of York's Military School, Dover, Kent Norwich were playing in the cup, so I decide to keep away from the computer and lay in bed listening to the game on the radio. And it was dreadful fare, City failed to register a shot on goal in the whole game, but lost to the only goal in the 2nd minute of injury time. So the dream is over for yet another year.

B Day

Next Tuesday, just after nine thirty in the morning, all of the Appeal Court judges will sit as their chairman reads their verdict.

There are no clues as to which way it will go, the Court has even refused the Government a "heads up" as to what the judgement might be, so, as the Government says, it can make contingency plans. That it finds itself in this position, is entirely it's own fault, having first failed to make the Referendum legally binding, then appealing the case when the first case they lost. Instead they could have drawn up a bill, debated it, got it through both Houses, and the job would be done.

The PM has also imposed upon herself this deadline of the 31st March for triggering Article 50; therefore, if the case is lost, or that part of it, then the Government will have 5 weeks to get a bill through. They will try to get a simple "three line" bill through, but as the PM has made it clear that the plan is to leave the Single Market, contrary to the Conservative Party Manifesto, this is not a given.

Of course, it could be worse, the Appeal Court might say what kind of bill is needed, something more than the three line one. And that makes it all the more complicated. And then there is also the chance that the devolved assemblies and Parliament might also have to be consulted and give their approval on the triggering. The SNP have already said that Scotland's view has been ignored with the leaving the Single Market and probably customs union too. And then there is Northern Ireland, that has to have an election at the beginning of March, and they might have to give their approval, difficult or impossible depending on how the vote goes.

And leaving the EU, Single Market, Customs Union might break up the union anyway. Is T. May willing to pay that cost, or hoping it will all blow over? If the Appeal Court finds in the Government's favour, then all the above is moot of course. But they are unlikely to will all parts, and unlikely to lose all parts. But either could happen.

As I have said this before, this is not about trying to stop Brexit, but to ensure it has oversight and scrutiny by Parliament, the whole point of the referendum anyway.

Today, the PM is attending some gathering in Switzerland and is lecturing that businesses must pay their way in taxes and supporting people living in the countries they operate. Quite how this sits with her assertion on Tuesday that if she dies not get her way in the negotiations, Britain will become an off-Europe tax haven, competing with the Trump-era US in offering the lowest Corporation taxes. So, tax revenues going down, and who will have to meet the difference? Let me guess.

And through the news that banks are planning to move thousands of posts to Europe once the Article 50 is triggered, Britain is open for business, apparently. And Boris claims countries are queuing up to make trade deals with Britain. Only India won't unless visa controls are slackened, and the PM doesn't want to do that, but which way will she go? And most countries won't do deals with Britain until they know what our relationship with our biggest trading partner, the EU, is. And Boris has endeared himself to our European friends by comparing punitive measures to punishment beatings Nazis did during the war.

Nice bloke.

But we shall see.

It is a mess. An omnishambles. A brexitomnishambles, and one that the Government is determined to push it though with little or no scrutiny, and the plan being getting the best deal for Britain. Which, as I have said, is to stay in the largest free trade union in the world, no?

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Tuesday 17th January 2017

I did feel better, on Tuesday.

Which is nice

And should have done after getting nearly ten hours uninterrupted sleep. I took some drugs before going to bed, and my blocked nose cleared up and so sleep came very quickly.

Orange Tuesday I woke up to hear Jools making coffee, which is always a nice thing. So I get up and go downstairs, to spend some time with her before she left for work. Outside it was another glorious still morning, and away in the south east, the sun rose red and angry.

With taking most of Monday off, it meant a day of catch up on the work computer. Eyes down for a full house!

The day is full on, and so I won't bore you with the details, but then there is the build up and review of the PM's Brexit Speech which I covered in the previous post.

Seventeen Outside it is another glorious, if cold day. I should have gone out at some point, but there didn't seem to be time. Late in the day I made Scotch Eggs for Wednesday's dinner, and then prepared some of the leftover Christmas turkey for dinner that night. Steam some vegetables, mixing up Yorkshire Pudding batter and boiling the potatoes ready for roasting.

The sun sets, and out of the back door I spot a photographic opportunity, just after the sun had set, the sky turned red, and the smoke from a neighbour's chimney disturbed the air. So peaceful, so winter.

Keep the home fires burning In less than an hour we have a full roast dinner, along with a bottle of cheap fizz, and its like Christmas all over again. We have The Museum of Curiosity on the radio as we eat, drink and make merry. It seems so luxurious to have a roast on a school day.

That evening there is football on TV, Lincoln v Ipswich in the cup, and the feeling was that it would be a shock if Town actually won. As it turned out, Ipswich were dreadful, but only lost in the final two minutes as non-league Lincoln caught them on the break and raced down the other end to slot in the only goal. I won't gloat, as City play Southampton tonight, and pride comes before a fall. True, but even more so in football. I don't mock Town when they fail, as our failure is usually close behind.

Harder, faster

So, yesterday, the PM made a speech about her Government's aims for Britain leaving the EU. The speech itself was heavily leaked the day before to most of the print press, so there were few surprises. However, this that this was not presented to both Houses of Parliament first, and neither was this just a policy speech, this was the policy. There will be no white papers or bills. Just this, it means that any claims about restoring Parliamentary Sovereignty are as hollow as her stated aims.

A bad deal is worse than no deal, she said in trying out out-baloney Noel Edmonds. In reality, the best deal for Britain is the status quo, and the further you move away from that the worse the deal will get. Probably the truth in why the hardest of Brexits is the aim, is that is the easiest to deliver, in that it will be the one the EU will be less likely to block. Some of the things Britain says it wants, and if it doesn't get, then Britain will be turned into an offshore tax haven. Threatening your current trading partners with a trade war if you don't get your way is not the best position to start. But then, this position is going to do a whole lot of damage to the British economy, estimates vary from losing 4% of GDP per year then going upwards.

As ever, it will be reality that will decide what the substance of any Brexit deal will be; from what Britain wants, and what Johnny Foreigner wants too. Because it seems to have escaped the notice of the brave Brexiteers that there will be demands from the other side of the table. We are told that this being the case, Britain will just walk away. Walk away to, hopefully, WTO rules and tariffs. It is only an assumption that britain can carry over the tariffs currently enjoyed by Britain and the other 27 EU States; if we have to negotiate these from scratch with the other 161 members and the EU, then prepare that to take years and years. In the meantime, huge tariffs and expert rules that will have to be applied. And any deals that can be struck will have to abide by existing WTO rules, including deals with car manufacturers with sweeteners. Even those will have to be discloses to show that no rules have been broken.

See, international commerce is no longer for the Privateers of antiquity, there are rules, agreements, quota, no tariff arrangements, free trade agreements and so on that will all have to be abided by, or negotiated from scratch. That Britain is already in the world's largest free trade union, with access to many of the world's most wealthy consumers is ignored by the Brexiteers and the fearless members of the printed press.

In order to even get to negotiating the framework for Brexit with the EU, the Government will have to abide by the ruling of the Appeal Court on the following matters

1. Royal Prerogative in triggering Article 50
2. If not, and Parliamentary approval is needed, what kind of bill is needed
3. Approval of the Welsh Assembly
4. Approval of the NI Assembly
5. Approval of the Scottish Parliament
6. Approval of the UK Parliament

After this, there will be an 18 month initial negotiating period as to what the position of Britain and the EU will be after the 2 year Article 50 notification. No trade deals can be struck with any EU country, no any other country until this two year period has elapsed and Britain is out of the EU. The 18 months is to allow time for the deal to be ratified by all of the 27 National Parliaments of the EU states, and the other regional courts, all of which can veto the deal. Finally, it has to be ratified by the EU itself. The EU has never concluded trade deals within 2 years. Even when it wanted to.

Rhetoric is fine, looks good in papers and sounds good on the TV news, but then reality will come into the scene, and it will all fail. At no point has any of this been costed or presented to the country, other than some kind of cack handed attempt to stop EU nationals coming here, working, paying taxes, working in hospitals, looking after our elderly and picking fruit. All of which has a net benefit to the economy and country as a whole. How this will be plugged, other than with more bureaucracy in allowing low-skilled workers to still come and work here, if they want to. There is evidence that since June there was a drop in seasonal workers coming here to work on farms, this will probably accelerate.

Of course, the one way in which immigration will slow down is if there is a recession, and probably, leaving the EU on bad terms, or no terms, will bring about such an event. Few were saying that leaving the EU meant leaving the single market, and yet, as Brexit means Brexit, it also now means leaving the single market, customs union, and a multitude of other EU institutions that keep the country running, funds projects, funds science, help charities, and so on.

Even the PM herself stated during the run up to the non-binding referendum that leaving the EU was crazy, leaving the single market was too. But here we are , ead by idiots, dancing to Murdoch's tune. Again.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Monday 16th January 2017

Reading yesterday's post, I think we can agree I was in the final stages of terminal man-flu. And as ever, you really only know how crappy you felt, because how much better you feel the next day. And although I am coughing like Tony, I do feel better.

So, that's good news.

However, it does mean I have to write about yesterday, today, which means me trying to describe how shitty I felt whilst feeling better.

I woke up at just before one on Monday morning, not being able to breathe, and with Scully happy sleeping beside me, quietly purring. Sleep is not going to come for hours, so I get up, make a hot lemon drink and take to the sofa to watch some recorded football, quietly like so Jools won't hear.

At three I go back to bed to try to sleep, I toss and turn for at least an hour, probably more. Next thing I know is that Jools is up and it is twenty past six. I feel like, like shit. There is no other word. Jools brings me a coffee so I sit in bed to drink it.

She has to leave, so I have the house to myself and the flu. I have a meeting to attend to at eight, so I decide to attend that and sort through mails, and then take things easy.

I make a pot of paprikash through the morning. Its a recipe from another time, relationship I had, and I really fancied the taste of paprika. Anyway, deciding it needed more gravy/sauce, I add some red wine and beer to the mix and allow to boil down as the meat and onions cook.

Sixteen Instead of being dark red, the sauce/gravy is nearly black, and over time the flavour fades, leaving just blackness.

In the afternoon I take to bed, and am joined by Scully who nestles up to me and is very happy indeed. I don't sleep as the blocked nose comes back making sleep impossible. Bah.

At four I get up, still feeling crap.

I boil some pasta at half five, so to be ready for when Jools comes back along with the warmed-through paprikash. It was a disappointment for me, but nearly there. Next step is to get some proper Hungarian pepper, nothing else is the same. Anyway, with a hot meal inside me, I feel better, and so we sit down to watch the last episode of Sherlock, which is a bit of a mess if I'm honest, but it fills 90 minutes and stops me thinking about how crappy I feel.

Monday, 16 January 2017

Sunday 15th January 2017

I woke up with that itchy feeling in the back of my throat which hinted at a cold, or worse, was coming. I hoped I was wrong, so trying best to ignore it, I followed Jools onto the cross trainer for a session before watching the football and making bacon butties.

It is at least lighter in the mornings now, the be noticeable. Which is nice. We are up and about at ten past seven, and it seems already daylight, even with sunrise still 40 minutes away. But there is a clear sky for nowm, but the BBC says it won't last.

After a shower, the coughing and running nose begins. Of course, the observant among you might point ask how did I know it was a cold not an allergy attack? Good question, and at times I wondered myself; maybe it was both. But allergies render my nose and sinuses blocked by something akin to quick setting cement, whilst what I had yesterday was clearly a snot tap that had been left on to drip.

Outside dark clouds rolled in from the west, and rain began to fall steadily, making activities outside unattractive.

Fifteen I filled the morning with some filing. I have over 5500 images on Flickr of just Kent churches. For anyone wanting to look at shots of a particular church, they would have to go through 52 pages of images if the Kent Church album. So, a few weeks ago I began to create sub-folders, each named with the church, little did I know how long this task would take. Now, I am sure there is probably a short cut to do it, but I am trying to ensure that each shot goes into the correct folder.

So it goes.

I was OK, a little under the weather, and as I had not slept well, during the afternoon I took to bed with the digital radio so I could listen to the football. Everton thrashed Citeh. I mean, really hammered Pep and Co, 4-0. Who saw that one coming?

We eat dinner whilst the Man Utd v Liverpool played out to a 1-1 draw, and was very entertaining, from what I heard on the radio anyway.

As the evening wore on, my cold got worse, and is typical male behaviour, I got more despondent, more full of self pity. At half nine, we went to bed, with me in the spare room as I suspected I would be tossing and turning.

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Hard, Harder and Hardest

Brexit is a religion. And in such, there is the fundamental wing, in which only those who believe in the hardest are seen as the true believer. And anyone who questions the Brexit is by default an unbeliever, and must be punished or sacked.

I say this as it seems that civil service guidelines seem to require that all who work on the good ship Brexit have a positive attitude, and must not question Brexit. As that was lies failure and being burned in a wicker man.

On Tuesday, it is reported, our glorious leader will spell out HM Government's Brexit objectives, and filling in the gaps inbetween what she has said in various interviews, the Part Conference, we can assume that Brixit will be hard. Hard and painful. Although I see in one of the Tory papers today, it is described as Clean Brexit.

No matter how you dress it up, attracting business to a post-Brexit Britain will involve lower taxes, lower worker's rights and lower pay. Only this week, Conservative MPs talked down a private members' bill in guaranteeing workers rights after the split with the EU. Clearly, we're not in this together.

And as the brexit phoney war has continued, and will do so until someone invokes Article 50, this has emboldened the Brexiteers in demanding harder and harder Brexits, forcing the "three pillars of Brexit" definition onto a non-binding referendum question whether to leave the EU or not. One of the things that was expressly said the referendum wasn't about was leaving the Single Market. Only now they say it did. Brexit is a magic pill, all things to all Brexiteers, and anything can be defined as the people's will.

If the PM does firm out the Government's plan on Tuesday, and the pound and markets plunge, and the papers will spin how both are good for Britain in some way or the other.

Then there is immigration. Whether unlimited numbers of EU nationals, coming over here, working, paying taxes and doing jobs that others will not do is a good or bad thing. But Fleet Street's labeling them as EU migrants instead of EU Expats shows what they want you to think. Anyone who has had a relative in a care or nursing home in the past decade will confirm that most workers if not being EU expats are expats of some other nature, and if they are no longer allowed to work here, who will do their job? Already the Government is planning for exemptions for agriculture workers who will still be able to come over here to pick our fruit so we can have strawberries at Wimbledon.

With nurses no longer getting bursaries, and the PM blaming and threatening GPs for the crisis in the NHS rather than the massive underfunding, what hope do any of us have in the post-Brexit world? Well, if you are moneied now, you will be monied then, and so will be fine. But those who were told Brexit was about taking back control have learned this week, that such control over us is now on "tiny" islands like Malta who in the EU have as much say in the settlement of the Brexit deal as Germany of France. And certainly more than Britain.

But hey, it will be our control, control taking back control of our borders so the economy can tank and there will be mass unemployment, price rises in all including basic foodstuffs. But the Brexiteers will not admit their mistakes, but instead blame those who have raised the most basic question of the religion and beliefs of Brexit. It is they who talked Britain down, they who will be blamed for the failure to implement an impossible and stupid idea.

Saturday 14th January 2017

I wish I could say that I used the day off in a useful and fruitful manner. But that would be a lie.

However, doing nothing other than letting time slip through our fingers is exactly how we would want to spend the day. We could have gone out, it was a still and bright, sunny day. But it was cold, and it turned out that we were downright lazy. Or tired Take your pick.

After getting up and having a coffee, I went to Tesco to stock up on fruit and vegetables. The car park is an ice rink, and it was interesting to avoid those arriving in their onesies and slippers as they slithered about the place. Fruit, vegetables and curry powder bought. I make a quick escape for more people are about.

Fourteen Back home I pack the shopping away, make another coffee and warm through four croissants. And that was about as exciting as it got.

We did assemble two new water butts for the shed, joining them together so we get double the amount of water saved. Jools installs it, while I listen to the radio, I mean its a hard job, but someone has to do it.

After cheese and wine for lunch, I snoozed on the sofa while the football played out. Or the early game anyway. And from three City fans at home and at the game went through the oh too familiar pain losing 2-1 to Rotherham; a team who were rock bottom of the league, until along came Norwich.


I make boiled chicken, bacon and rice for dinner, which as I have said before, is much better than it sounds. Right after, we went to the sofa to watch last week's episode of Sherlock, which was quite good if I'm honest. It bollocks, but good bollocks.

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Friday 13th January 2017

I am angry.

No, I am beyond angry, I am incandescent with rage. And for reasons I cannot say. But I have been like this since Thursday, and my mood had not improved by Friday, maybe except to say it had evolved into an icy anger. Getting angry about it might help things, it probably won't. Still, getting angry, and venting does help release the pressure valve.

However, anger has to be controlled in a business setting, and in meetings. But sheer frustration was always in danger of boiling over. Anyway, apart from this, there is so much to celebrate; the first power produced by the windfarm, resolution of many of the issues I have been dealing with for weeks, and being in a general good mood all week. Let us hope this latest challenge will turn into another triumph!

Anyway, due to general anger I am awake at half four, Belgian time, grinding my teeth, as my brain won't let me sleep. Outside it is blowing a hooly. I have to close the sliding door as the wind is making it bang, and huge fakes of wet snow is falling, and settling for the moment. But it won't lay I say to myself. I put the radio on the listen to the rest of the Radcliffe and Maconie show, go back to bed and try to close my eyes to snooze, but sleep does not come.

I check the clock on my phone after what I think has been an hour, and am surprised to find it ten to seven. Better get going, then. Outside the snow has turned to rain, and what had settled some hour before, was now melted and gone.

My anger had cooled a little, but I had to pack, get ready for work and the usual end of trip stuff. I have breakfast, check out and go to load the car. Outside the wind is still howling, but there is no trace of snow at all. The offices have just another couple of the people already working, so I take a seat at a desk, and begin sending mails and preparing notes for the meeting. Away to the west, the full moon was just setting, hanging in the sky, golden but fading as the rising sun illuminated it.

Now, I had been checking the weather for Friday afternoon most of the week, and as the forecast hardened, it became clear that with gales and blizzards forecast, it could be a difficult trip. And so once the meeting ended at half nine, I write up the minutes, send them out and with there being no mails to deal with, I decide to leave for Calais.

I take the same route that Manu had taken on Thursday, down on the by road along the canal, joining the motorway just after the big bridge over the canal, and just a couple of miles before the intersection with the A45 south.

THe skies are black, full of something, and not sunshine probably. I press on hoping to get to Calais as soon as possible. THe roads are quiet, with no queues at the border with France, on through Dunkirk to Calais, where the snow begins to fall, in huge wet flakes again. It looks and feels like winter.

I was expecting queues at the terminal, but not much to report. I get my ticket, go through immigration and go to the lounge to collect lunch. I had just missed a train, so had 50 minutes before the next one, enough time to eat the roll I picked up from behind the counter, sit down to read the Financial Times.

it is time to board, and once again I am the first car allowed to drive to the loading ramp, having to wait while the train is emptied of those who just arrived. I drive on, stoppin with the front bumper against the sliding exit doors. Nothing left to do now other than to wait for departure and then the arrival in Folkestone. here is more than enough good stuff in the FT, including an interesting long read about Chinese investment in ports round the globe, ports that are then changed into military basis, allowing China to project economic and military power globally.

We are now arriving at Folkestone, I get back in the car and ready with my fingers on the engine key, for when the doors open and the guard can say we can go.

Off we go, up and round the ramp, round onto the slip road, past the filling station, with me the only one taking the exit to Folkestone and Dover rather than the main road joining the motorway to London.

Thirteen I take the road along the Alkham Valley, all bedecked in snow and looking deep and crisp and even. I say deep, about half an inch really, but very wintery. I drop off the beer and tabs at Whitfield, before taking the backroad way back to Guston then up to the main road at The Swingate. Nearly home now.

I unpack the car, am ignored by the cats, but hey. I make a brew, and see if the car hire people will come to collect the car. They won't. So I call Jools to see when she was leaving work, she will meet me at the docks at quarter to three, giving me an hour to check on mails. I have had enough, and decide with the poor weather over the weekend, I will switch the phone off once back home after dropping the car off. Might do something for my sanity too.

Snowmaggedon 2017 We have a huge slice of the second Christmas Cake when we get home, while outside the snow has failed to melt on the ground, the sun sets and everything freezes.

I have two items to listen to when I get back home: first of all, a CD by Pale Fountains. I found a place online rather like e bay. A tenner for the CD was too good to turn down.

And then there was a New Order twelve inch. Run 2 was deleted after legal action by John Denver, true fact there, and so I did not get a chance to own a copy when it came out in 1989. But for £15, it too was mine.

I played both and they sound great.

Jools goes out for fish and chips, what with it being Friday and all. The fish is perfect, fresh and coated with crispy batter.

We are tired, what with me having been up since before four in the morning, so it came as no surprise to learn that we both went to bed soon after nine.