Sunday, April 19, 2015
Monday, October 27, 2014
Apparently, it's Monday again. These things seem to come round with astonishing regularity, unlike my blog entries, but I'll keep trying.
This week, I'm on the train to London, which I have to say, makes a very pleasant change from Liverpool. Don't get me wrong, Liverpool is fine, with all its localness, and footballness, and "there's nothing for your round here"-ness, which is far rarer than I am making out (for comic effect, and to wind up my sister). Seriously doh, (coz dey do dat down der doh don't dey doh) its a really nice place nowadays. A vibrant city with lots to see and do, and plenty of character, history and dare I say it, even some culture. I've enjoyed it, even though it's been excruciating painful to do, it is finally starting to come to a close. Hence my trip to London. The final week of the heavy lifting part of the process, requires certain senior individuals to be within earshot, so the mountain is coming to Mohammad.
The aching bones and inability to walk, finally subsided by about Wednesday last week. That will teach me to rush that floor tiling job, but it is done and the results are pleasing. However, there is no rest for the wicked, and so first thing Monday I was straight back up to that Liverpool for more of the same. However, I'd very sensibly booked Friday off in advance of a visit from the Scottish contingent. I rushed home Thursday night, and even managed a couple of jars with the WTC to round off my working week, which was a blessing. The sanity/insanity that comes with time in their company is often an oasis in the desert of my working week, and one I'm very glad has water and palm trees.
I am starting to get more than a little hacked off with the travel-for-work thing. Having worked from home for so long, you get a routine, and right now I'd like that routine back. I should of course be careful what I wish for, because these things have a way of biting you, and I'm acutely aware of a forthcoming holiday anyway, which Mrs G and I have well and truly earned.
Friday, my favourite brother-in-law arrived, with Mrs Gs sister and their offspring. It's always a pleasure to see them, and it's becoming a regular trick to spend his birthday doing something semi-active in the day and then semi-alcoholic (with a curry) in the evening. This year was no different in that respect, and we spent the day wandering around Gloucester and taking in the delight that is the "Crucible 2" art exhibition currently showing at Gloucester Cathedral. This consists of around a hundred works of art - sculptures in fact - dotted around the cathedral and its grounds. Some pretty amazing things and in, what is, a very grand and beautiful setting. A pot of traditional tea and some coffee's in "Lily's tea shop" afterwards, to shelter from the rain and a thoroughly good time was had. I'd recommend it although you'll have to be quick as its gone at the end of October.
We did the curry thing and all the local gang were there. Daughter and Tall fella came along, and Dave, Tall fella and I picked up the curry whilst having the now traditional "cheeky pint" in the pub next to the curry house. All good stuff.
On Saturday, Mrs G and I took a cycle into town and did some very minor shopping, although she did get a bargain, and then I had to prep and pack for a night in Wiltshire. Many many years ago, I served an apprenticeship in an engineering firm in Chippenham. As a result I wound up working in IT, as the IT manager for what became a very successful little company manufacturing high powered semiconductors. I reported to the Finance director, an ex policeman and an all round truly smashing bloke. In the 7 years I was there, I learned everything I needed to set me up in a long career in what we now refer to as IT, but which was ostensibly - looking after the computers, back then. It was a great time, with ups and downs and he guided me into an interesting and most helpful role at head office, and onwards into greatness... Etc etc etc.... Anyway, as I say, this was many many years ago, and the time has come for his retirement - which frankly scares the bejesus out of me. He'd organised a get together of a few of the people he'd enjoyed working worth, and I feel most privileged to be included in that set. Fine wine, fine company, fine food, reminiscing and forward planning were the highlights of the evening, and while (as the song goes) everything changes, everything also stays the same. I hadn't really planned on staying overnight, but there you go. In the end I'm glad I did. It was great to catch up and remember what were some of my my formative years, and I thank him for it greatly.
You can imagine, that I had a slightly woozy start to Sunday morning, but nothing that some bacon and eggs couldn't put right. His wife did the hangers-on proud, and I finally got home around midday. I got a few little jobs done and the packing started ready for the forthcoming week, and then late afternoon, Mrs G started on the Sunday lunch, which was a special one on this occasion. Not least because it was to mark the Tall ones birthday. (I know, it's a non-stop party in our house). A gorgeous piece of roast lamb with all the trimmings and plenty of banter, although to be fair I was at this point totally shattered, made for an enjoyable time, but before I knew it, it was time to finish my packing and get some sleep before the early taxi/train combo to London.....
So here I sit. Once more into the breach dear friends, once more....
Monday, October 20, 2014
After that last entry, I'm struggling to stay awake, but it goes like that. Total and utter boredom of monotony, followed by fast paced, high energy excitement, followed by back round to the slow pace of plodding ever onwards. So by that token, this entry should be a rip roarer. Sorry, but not a bit of it.
The earliest train there is up to Liverpool is at ten past seven from my nearest station, Gloucester. In my book that's early, but can be considered a lie-in by London standards. However, now that the summer is over, it's mostly dark, and so mostly feels like the middle of the night anyway.
Last week I was at home. On the work front, we're under great pressure to be seen to be out performing the rest of Europe (which of course we are) and that means proving we can do the jobs we've been doing for x number of years (I say X, because it's a bit like revealing one's age, and in my case, it's well into double figures.) This proof, comes in the form of a pile of paperwork that has to be approved by a bunch of managerial types just to say you're not making it up. To be honest, I've been doing this for so long, that half of said managerial types weren't even employed here, so how would they even know?... Regardless, I stayed away from the client site for the week to get the job done and it proved to be a fascinating gaze into my navel replete with successes and failures and all the odd bits and bobs that you'd rather you'd forgotten about, or could barely remember doing in the first place. That's the trouble with this job. No sooner have you finished one deal, than you're off to the next one and what you were just doing is instantly forgotten. It is, bizarre.
In other news.... Daughter bought a new car, and so son bought a new (to him) car while Mrs G and I remain resplendently carless. We seemed to have managed remarkably well so far, although I fear the day is coming when I'll crack and buy either a banger, or something brand new, or hop back into the company car scheme.. Who knows? In reality, if you don't need a car, then why have a car? ...and other people will say "surely you need to go places?" as if you can't travel without a car... Or "How will you ever cope?" but I can tell you, you just do. Living on the edge of a city makes it a lot easier. If we lived out in the countryshire proper, then it would be a different story. I'm pretty sure a car would be an essential, but we have reasonably good transport links, and most things are a short walk away or practically on our doorstep. On that basis, I think I'll keep the insurance and road tax in my pocket for the time being.
Stan and I bumped into our local MP in the pub, and he claimed to know us. This was something I found particularly odd as I'd never met him before in my life. MPs have a thankless job, and I often wonder if it's actually just a pointless job. They don't do themselves any favours more often than not. All too regularly are they caught with their hand in the till (well, the public purse to be more precise) or up to no good with the likes of the baby eating bishop of bath and wells. No wonder nobody ever trusts them. They consistently let themselves down - not forgetting that you can't please all the people all of the time - so they really are onto a looser... I considered getting into a debate with him on the subject of the railway triangle, or the general state of the post office, or some such similar subject, but I thought about it for 30 seconds, and then decided I'd rather have another pint in a different pub than dance around the hooray-henry's... I'm really referring to the company he was keeping than the man himself. Stan and I sought refuge in a proper boozer instead.
Mrs G and I took in a night at the cinema (Gone Girl - 8/10 - gripping, but didn't quite finish in the manner it needs to, although camera work, scene setting and acting, as is always the case with David Fincher works, was more than excellent). We also had a bite to eat in the Coal Bar and Grill, which while being a chain, is a very nice chain at least. I do love a relaxing night out with the boss, and while she generally hates the cinema, even she was gripped by the plot.. Good times.
Claude had a 50th birthday party which was an entertaining Friday night.. All the local gang were there. More good times and ridiculous dancing.
I finally managed to retile the floor of mother-in-laws utility room. That has been on the cards for about two months, but the time has just not been available. Yesterday I set at it with a pace, and had it pretty much finished by 5pm. Bearing in mind it's only about 2 square meters of floor (if that) but it did have the mother of all fiddly bits, down in a corner that you could barely reach. I know I did it because this morning I still can't feel my knees. Finished job looks much better though.
...and with that, the sun is coming up, I have a very challenging next two weeks approaching at some serious rate of knots and then... holidays are coming... and so is Birmingham New Street.
Monday, October 06, 2014
The advantages are twofold. A) Extra points for an additional night in a hotel (and we all know that outs make prizes) and B) I'm going to be in the office on time tomorrow morning. However. I haven't even completed the journey, and I know now that this was just a stupid idea. The disadvantages have become clear. A) One less night in the bosom of my family (obviously) B) The unpredictability of trains later in the day C) Sharing said trains with people that clearly aren't used to having to deal with changes to the planned journey times when the wrong leaves are on the line. D) Did I mention the unpredictability, thus leading to delays?....
Winter has arrived and with it traffic chaos. You'd think the northern half of the country had never seen rain before judging by the way the place has gone to hell in a handcart as a result of a hefty downpour - as is the nature of winter. Cutting to the chase, I sat for 45 minutes in Birmingham New Street waiting for a driver to show up from his delayed service elsewhere in the country. I'm not really moaning though. I suppose it could haVe been worse.
And so to an update on events. The deal progresses much like wading through molasses progresses. The new blood is having a poke and a prod, and it's entirely possible that now some of the larger crops are harvested that we'll get plenty of "assistance" in pushing the wheelbarrow, shaking the tree and loading up the apple cart. It's equally possible that said apple cart will get upset before we get a chance to fill it this season, and it may have to wait until next season. Who knows? Smaller Bigger brains than mine, no doubt.
I may have mentioned previously but somehow in between this constant flux a few of us alleged lesser beings have been tasked with documenting the fact that we're not lesser beings. For someone who's been doing this job for 12 years or more, this incarnation of it for 4 years and this particular effort for the last 5 months.... I really can't see the point. Somebody must have made a promise. Not only that, but it's a proper pain in the Harris to do, with reams of documentation required. Needless to,say I find it the most uninspiring task and as such am constantly battling with relegating it to the bottom of the queue vs being reminded that it has to be done (because someone promised it - not me by the way).
I managed to get home early last week, which meant a beer with the boys on Thursday and discussion of where to stay during next years golf tour, washed down with sufficient beer, a stagger home - although a relatively early one - and quick stop in Maccy D's on the way.
When the weekend finally hoved into view, It was a blessed relief (Soooo tired this week - sleep in hotels is just not happening and I really hope I get that sorted out before we go off on our holiday - which is an oasis in the dessert of work drudgery. The resting (if you can call it that) readily began with a visit to daughters house to drop off some games that she required for her very grown up dinner party. For a moment however, it sounded like it wouldn't happen when one of the guests called her to say they'd had a bit of a row and might not be coming after all. Perhaps it's not as grown up as I imaged, but then all was laid to rest, forgotten about, they arrived and from all accounts, a good time was had. Meanwhile, Mrs G and I, had daughter number 5 to stay - long story, but as always it's a pleasure to see her, and she's very enjoyable company. With tales of her London adventures and how she's making her way in the world, time flies and fun is had. Son in the meantime was out fighting crime on the streets of Stroud. Tougher than you might think.
Saturday, Daughter 5 and Mrs G took a trip to town. (that's town, not the city as readers of old will recall) Son and I Made a swift trip to a phone shop In the city for him to get a repair quote for the insurance Man on his old Samsung S3... "itsa nao probleem mayte" the fella with the dodgy moustache said "I can rite yous wan for a fiiver"... I think not. £5 to write a quote?... You're having a giraffe.
Later in the day Daughter number 1 and I Also visited the city with a little list of things that needed sorting out. We did well, and excellent little consumers we both were. I upgraded the freesat box to a newer and much faster model Humax. The old one was good, but this one is much much better. The mobile apps for it also finally allow it to catch up with the Sky toolset and so pleased, I am. Daughter is settled. She's saving hard, but things are where she wants them to be, so I'm a happy man.
On Sunday, the lawn got mowed - possibly for the last time this year, so extra short and then daughter 5 cooked a truly fantastic bit of roast chicken with all the trimmings. So that's at out the sum of it really... All a bit tedious and mundane and really hardly worth the read... But read it you did. You shouldn't worry.... I had to write it.
Monday, September 29, 2014
Tuesday, September 23, 2014
The agony she had to endure when she stuck her head out of her front door this morning into the cold. The pain of dragging her luggage into a taxi for the station (she'd normally drive, but there is no fun in it anymore) and the fact that she has to pay upfront and claim it back from her company (You know, it's a hundred quid for a train and a over night stop!). I almost feel sorry for her until she announces she's going to Ashchurch (12 miles away!!) for a course... O, M and might I venture, G!
I got heads down into writing this, just to try and keep her quite for the next 10 minutes.
For me, there's a change of hotel this week, brought about by the lack of availability in any of the usual haunts. Last week was the Indigo Hotel on Chapel street - which I might add is actually not at all bad and very reasonably priced for a "Nuevo-Boutique" style kind of place. It's in an easy location - although not that easy for the client site I'm visiting - and features all the mod-cons you'd expect. Liverpool hotels are pretty friendly places compared to London one's, and significantly cheaper, but other than that - you could be anywhere really.
Post Scottish referendum, and all hell has been let loose - which is nothing like as bad as if the vote had been a "Yes". The country was never going to be the same anyway, but now the knives are out and I predict a complete collapse of the coalition shortly before next years General Election. The population at large have completely fallen out of love (as if they were ever in it) with politics and the politicians of Westminster as evidenced by low turnouts and apocalyptic nightmares of leaving the union. While trying to maintain the status quo of a system that has become ever more complex, they're failing to innovate or advance the country in any meaningful way. I'm not saying it's easy, but I am saying that given the resources at their disposal, they're making a bit of a hash of it, all in the name of getting a knighthood - or some other such title - and a book deal.
The weekend flew by again. Friday night saw son and daughter reunited for a weight watchers curry - much much better than it sounds - and I sat and heard the inevitable chatter of the delights of car insurance. It's special to live with three people working in the same industry that you don't. Sometimes, I catch myself actually listening. other than that, it was a delight to have them all under one roof for a bit and good to see them doing well with their lot. Daughter is steadily getting promoted, and Is comfortable with her fella - a nice chap and stupidly tall.
He spent a few days last week in Germany and was supposed to be home on Saturday but the Germans being part of the EU, means that somehow or other Lufthansa's pilots needed to go on strike and cause him a flight cancellation and an extra night on the continent. This resulted in daughter having to get up at the crack of dawn on Sunday to go and get him from Heathrow. All is well that ends well though, and luckily they both had Monday off anyway.
Now he's back from his travels, Son has walked straight back into his old job - easily it seems - and he's re-joined the Specials... In the longer term (ie about 12 months) I wouldn't be at all surprised to see him join the regular police force and finally get a proper job. His step-grandfather will be proud. Time will tell..
And on the subject of his step grand-father, both he and his step grand-mother are touring the outer reaches of Scotland busily spending my sister and my inheritance. So far, they've managed to send a postcard South of the border, and managed a phone call before switching their mobile phones off again so they are completely uncontactable, should an emergency arise. What is it with parents and mobile phones? They use them on their own terms I suppose, and you can't really say fairer than that. I asked what they'd seen of the referendum crowds and Mother said "not much really, although where we stayed was a bit Yessey."... The mind boggles.
They appear to be having a marvellous time, and I can't help but be a little jealous of their lot. Settled and seeing the world without having to slog anymore - sounds like a retirement made in heaven to me. One day. In the meantime. All change at Brum and onwards to the Pool.
At least it's not raining yet.
Wednesday, September 17, 2014
After dinner, I trotted across town to meet up with an Architect and a Transition exec for a quick beer - and ended up in a gem of pub called the "Ship and Mitre". Very friendly bunch and a vast menu of beverages to choose from. Still maintains that "spit and sawdust" feel and seems to be a place that time has mostly passed by, but still manages to attract anyone who's interest in a large selection of interesting (and tasty) beers and largers. A couple of pints and a stagger back to my hotel ready to be up at the crack of dawn in preparation for a client session - what can possibly go wrong ?
Most interesting today however - at least to me - is the imminent release of iOS8, which I've been playing with in it's beta incarnations and have been enjoying greatly. It'll be good to see a final version and make the most of app-continuation across devices - which is one of a whole host of improvements to look forward to. The Fandroid's will of course say that they've had this feature or that feature for ever - but I'm so done with that conversation that I've learned to ignore it now and get on with doing productive stuff instead. Of course you could say, that just mentioning that fact here is in a way "getting involved" in the argument, but all I can say to that is "pah! Whatever"
While we're talking Apple for a minute - the iPhone6, 6 Plus and Apple watch... at least two of those things are on my shopping list, but it's all about timing. If the 6 hadn't sold out already, I might be placing an order for it. As it stands, I'll hang on a bit I think. However, with regards to the Apple watch - having had a Pebble for a while now - I can honestly say I'm a convert to the smart watch and will be as close to the front of the queue as I can get for this particular piece of tech. Message ends.