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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

And yet more of the same....

Yet again I find myself eastbound to that Laandan on the early train. But hang about... What's this? It's Tuesday! What happened to Monday? In fact what happened to all of last week? And what was that about phones? And golf? (really this blog is becoming ridiculous... I mean, it's late, it runs teasers to stories that never appear. I'm actually considering leaving and setting up on my own - Ed)


Alright, alright.... Last Monday.... (Wibbly wobbly - back in time special effect - wibbly wobbly)... Same old same old, back down to the city for another week of trying to get the numbers together and write something believable to help out our forlorn customer and our totally knackered team. This particular deal has been a very long slog so far, and it's not over by quite a long way, so everyone involved is aware that the a lot more of this to come still. The stoke chef is bearing up under the strain of it all, and is doing a remarkably sound job. However, next week he has approvals, and with personal experience I'm aware of how stressful that can be. I think the best advice (certainly the most unhelpful) I ever got in such a situation, was from the badman and it went something along the lines of "It'll be alright"... As it turns out, even if this is of little comfort at the time, it is generally true... Unless you're about to get eaten by a lion, or crash the goddam plane into the mountain.... Rarely is that "alright"


Outside of the actual work, Monday night saw the stoke chef, me and a few other lads take a wander over primrose hill to an Italian place near the Queens.... I had a pizza. It was hot. I had some wine. I was glad of the walk home because I was stuffed. All in all very nice. Can't for the life of me remember the name of the place, but I'm sure ill go back.


Tuesday, was something a bit more adventurous, in that we tried somewhere we've never been before. This time is was, the tall fella, the stoke chef, me and Neil (who I could come up with an interesting name for, but unlike the rest of the world, I'm generally nice to ginger's :-) ) This time it was a new-ish place on Marylebone lane called "28-50" which describes itself as a wine workshop and kitchen. Bit of a poncy premise, but actually very nice. The only thing they seemed to get wrong was the chips - oh and watch out for ordering side dishes separately (which seems to be becoming the new norm). Catches you out when the bill arrives though.

Post food, we had a pint in the pub around the corner (the cock and lion - how rude, naming a pub after such a majestic beast.... What?) and then on the corner (the running horse) - although I should add that this wasn't the same corner.


Wednesday and the hours are starting to bite. the other team in the office have all come down with a bout of man flu (even the woman of their team) and they resolve to kill it dead by going for a curry. I tag along with the stoke chef, because I haven't had a curry in ages and because if I'm going to catch this cold, I might as well launch a pre-emptive strike against it. The Curry Manjill - on England's Lane, near Primrose Hill, provided an excellent bit of nosh and a couple of pints of Cobra to wash it down with.


Back in the office, the pressure is on for us to get the numbers complete but that is proving to be a challenge. Part of the problem is the shear number of people involved in this one. They also come from two opposite sides of the business, so while we are all one team, there is a bit of them and us going on, and allocated budgets do cause a bit of a punch up - especially when it's quarter four, and there are targets to be met.


The pressure is causing me another problem though. I need to be back home on Thursday (preferably early) because Scottish uncle Dave will be there, with Aunty L and the kids, to celebrate his birthday. Eventually I get away a couple of hours later than planned, and make it back to the West Country at a reasonably sensible time.


Dinner - and as is customary, as its his birthday, Scottish Uncle Dave gets to choose what he would like.... He chose curry... And as I haven't had one in ages... Oh, hang about. Ah well. It was fine, but I'm off the curry for a while now. A good time was had and a birthday was well celebrated. The kids even enjoyed a bit of a 3D fest with Tintin on the big telly.


Friday saw the Scottish clan take a trip out to Bristol, Mrs G off to work and I was left to the peace and quiet of the house to get my head down and finish collating costs. With this out of the way, there was the general admin of travel to get done, along with preparation for next week - another hotel, another train and so on and so forth. And finally the weekend is in sight.


The Scottish contingent returned from their trip and we gin and tonic'd our way through the evening. All in all, a long but achieving week - even if there's still work to be done.


Now, you may ask... What of telephones and golf? Ah yes. Good point, well made. Honestly, I will get to that in the next one. It's just for now I have another distraction to deal with... And it's not a pretty one. It's all about a Tuesday in Swindon....




This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Saturday, October 27, 2012


As a wise(DELETE) bad man once said, "posting a Dilbert cartoon is not blogging", but to be honest when it's an accurate-ish representation of your experience, I can't see what's wrong with it....  :-)


With apologies to all those concerned. 

This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Monday, October 22, 2012

The return of the Las Palmas 4... Errr 14

Saturday dawned, and we didn't wake up early, because we didn't have to. Having learned from our expedition to Ibiza earlier in the year, this time we had bloody sensible flights meaning there was no sense of rush and no danger over oversleeping and nearly missing the damn thing.


The kids (which they really aren't anymore - and this makes me feel very very old) arrived at 9am and by 9.30 the taxi was whizzing up the M5 towards Birmingham International with all the luggage and necessary paperwork and of course the four of us.


The tieving (yes that's how you spell it) gits that are Ryanair, flew us south to Mallorca without any hitch worth mentioning beyond their constant and annoying sales pitches. Every two minutes it's - "Ryanair would like to bring your attention to the (insert retail opportunity here)". And then that bloody fanfare when they land which is clearly yet another lie. It's interesting how they claim the flight time will be 2 and half hours (in either direction I might add (so no Gulf Stream, Trade winds or any other such nonsense to adjust this timing) and yet no matter what happens, they seem to be able to make it in 2 hours every time.... No wonder they're such a well performing airline... Doodle-Da-do-da-dooo My arse!


Hertz for a rent-a-car did a great job (so far) and instead of providing us with the pre-booked Vauxhall Astra (or equivalent) came up with a Renault bus. A seven seater which was far more than we needed, but turned out to be a great vehicle and far more useful than we can have imagined. As usual, seriously unreasonable charges appear at this stage which can, for the most part, be ignored. I did swallow the excess insurance waiver though at €10 per day. Well, it was that or risk €1200 if I reversed into a bollard in a vehicle I'm unfamiliar with, on the wrong side of the road. A likely outcome - so worth it probably.


With daughter riding shotgun, 50 minutes later we arrived safely at our villa on the edge of Puerto Pollença and squeezed the bus onto the tiny driveway. Dropped off the cases and went in hunt of the rest of the family, for there were many of us on the island....

Less than a mile from our gaff was the gaff de la cousins, and sure enough they were all on site either up to their necks in the swimming pool or in gin and tonic - naturally we joined in and the holiday proper got underway. Mrs G's sister, brother-in-law, and 3 kids were accompanied by their close friends, J and B and their daughter who is good friends with the chip shop boys. Then there was Mother-in-law and W as well. A grand total of 10 in their expansive villa, which included tennis courts, the aforementioned pool, table tennis, pool, barbecues and the like.


Our gaff was a little less pretentious, but the only major difference (aside from its size) was the lack of tennis courts. If your looking for one of these sorts of places, I'd recommend - very reasonable prices and good quality accommodation to boot.


All four of us have now done time on all three of the Balearic Islands (off the coast of mainland spain for those of you with a lack of geography in the region), being Menorca, Mallorca (Majorca if you like) and Ibiza and we've immensely enjoyed all three. I prefer Ibiza and Mallorca over Menorca but I can't really decide between those two.

As the week wandered on in the balmy 25 degrees worth of regular sunshine, the days gently merged into one and all thoughts of work were forgotten. The beaches were sandy, the sea warm and inviting, the food enjoyable, the company remarkably well behaved for family. :-). No one fell out, and no one felt left out (as far as I could tell). Obviously with such a large group, you can't please all the people all the time, and teenagers will be teenagers, while old codgers will be old codgers and I dare say parents will be parents in some eyes... Regardless, we all all had a good time, and none of us really wanted to come home again to wet and windy blighty..


Still, all good things must come to an end, and after an especially enjoyable breakfast at "Tolo's" along the front in the port, we had to head back across the island to the airport and our flight back with the tieves that brought us here.


On arrival, daughter had some sad news, that her fish had survived the week with Sons friends - can't say that I'm especially surprised - lads shouldn't be trusted with fish - they'll batter them given half a chance. The cats both appeared completely unharmed though.


Sunday meant getting organised for the first day back at work - up that Laaandan, with a hotel and a train and all the grief associated with that. A quick look through the emails, at what's this???? MrH (who had allegedly not been well of late) has resigned!!!? Uh oh... Something is obviously amiss. So god know what sort of position things will be in when I arrive on Monday morning.


I don't know - I only left them to it for a week, and the place has gone to hell in a handcart as the saying goes.


Oh and as if by magic - here's paddington. Remind me to tell you on my next visit about the phone situation, I've acquired another one. Oh and the forthcoming golf. there really are not enough hours in the day right now. Ridiculous.


Adios amigos.



This post originally appeared here: Posterous

End of the Road/Lane type thing

It's been a couple of weeks since I put virtual pen to paper, but here at last is a bit of a catchup. It's Monday morning, and as has been the way of things in recent weeks, I'm back on the train up that Laandann to resume the slog and hard trudge in what I'm led to believe is going to be a very different landscape to the one that I left a week or so ago.


Imagine for a moment, a wibbly wobbly picture of the world as we go baaack-iiinnnn-ttiiimmmee to a fortnight ago, and see what I can recall of the past fourteen days.


Rain was the order of the day a couple of Mondays ago, but I didn't mind given the fact that this was to be my last week before clearing off to the sunshine on holiday for a week. The work was as the work is. Plodding and largely uneventful, but for the fact that we were still a man down and the working out of the numbers still had to be done, with me firmly in the firing line to do it - because, as I've said before, no one else can be arsed with such a menial job. I spent some time with the Pricer, an amiable chap from Wales and we drew up a plan that should make churning out future revisions - for there will be many - very straight forward.


I also spent some time getting things lined up for the Stoke Chef and hopefully that should make is upcoming review cycle a little less painful than he envisages it being. It's his first time as "lead" and I think he has concerns. He needn't though. He's more than capable even if he may not have all the bits and pieces he needs to make a polished job of it.


It seems, that some how (blind luck in all honesty) I've managed to align my vacation week perfectly with release week for both deals, and as such (at least in theory) I won't be around for the last big push before we drop the results for the clients. I'm sure there's every chance it won't work out quite perfectly, and I am getting a few "jammy ba&@£?d" type jibes from the tall one and the chef, but that's the way the cookie crumbles.


The down side to this is that I have to handover what I've done so far to a stand in. Obviously I've been doing far more work than I should have been, because the powers that be have arranged two stand ins, one for each deal. I have the utmost faith in at least one of them, and concerns - though mostly second hand ones - regarding the other. It's only really a worry, because I know that when I return from holiday, I'll probably be picking up the pieces and if its badly broken and needs repairing, you can bet some pieces will be missing, and the picture on the lid of the box will have been painted over. (Go pick your own analogies out of that)


This week I was located in the Holiday Inn. The mob persuaded me to travel over to Swiss Cottage for dinner, which would have been fine but for the journey "home", which took forever thanks to delayed services late in the evening. The Queens is a perfectly enjoyable pub on the edge of primrose hill, but having visited twice, I'm yearning for somewhere more interesting and can't really see me returning in a hurry.


Tuesday night saw the tall,one, the chef and I take a trip to Ledenhall Market, up the city. I spent some time here a while ago, whilst helping out an insurance firm that sponsor rugby and its a gem of a spot, with a nice little boozer and a couple of restaurants in the heart of the city proper. This time we had Italian, which was completely bearable and not part of a chain. Up a very narrow staircase just next to the pub - if you're passing that way, it's definitely worth a look.


Wednesday, we finally decided to make a curry night and headed off to the now infamous Brick Lane. Interestingly we failed to find it on the first go, having exited the tube station turned right and walk straight past it. We trudged on until we hit upon a dirty little boozer all painted green who's name completely escapes me, but a gem it was. The sort of place you wouldn't take your mum, has probably not seen a paintbrush, or even fresh air, since before the smoking ban, and with a local artists pictures strewn around the faded walls. A single bar is tucked under the stairs and you really do feel like you might be intruding on someone else's party. Marvellous.


It was here that we discover we'd walked past the "Lane" and two pints later sauntered back in search of food. Brick Lane is a hive of activity, and I'm told the best curries in London. Sadly, I'm not convinced. There are plenty of places to choose from, for sure, but the constant sales pitch from the staff at almost every one of them gets a bit wearing and is not a little off putting. "Yessir. come on in. We give you free beer sir. How much you wanna pay?" And so on and so forth. We settled for a place near the end of the road, next door the the Aladdin. It was a curry just like every other I've ever had. Perfectly acceptable. Nothing to shout about. After all the hype of "Brick Lane" I can't help but be disappointed. Perhaps we just chose an average one, and a second visit might improve it - who knows.


Back in the office and with most of the handovers complete it was back out west to finish the week off and get ready to fly off to he sunshine. Friday still kept me tied to my laptop with last minute bits and pieces which was agonising, not least because I needed half an hour out to go and get some Sterling turned into Euro's - but it all worked out in the end.


Friday night saw a plethora of packing and preparing all ready for the off and we tried to get an early night despite the excitement of getting away being so imminent.....


This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Monday, October 08, 2012

War and Bloody Peace

Monday churned. Goalposts didn't move dramatically, but we were a man down and that way lies hard work..... The lead - MrH - isn't a well bunny and has the flu that's knocking out people left right and center. As result there's few of us left to try and get things sorted. He's in a difficult position, between a rock and a soft place and there's sh1t to get done.


I already knew we had to get "War and Peace" completed by Friday to be in front of the customer, I just hadn't realised that it was going to be down to me to get it done while everyone else swanned off to drink tea and eat biscuits with said customer elsewhere in the city. Not only that, but the other deal is also in need of some attention because basically no-one else can be arsed to do the menial and yet essential tasks required to get the job done. It's times like these that it feels like I shouldn't bloody bother and I should just retire with my secret lottery winnings - I mean its not like I need the money or anything. (What am I reading here? Clearly a work of fiction, and not a very good one at that - ed)


Monday night saw the tall one go off to his hotel (over tired), while the chef and a few other colleagues and I went to "The Queens" near Primrose Hill for a couple of pints and some dinner. And very good it was too. Some quality pub grub. I don't like the term gastropub, but I can see what they mean. I had the fish and chips, which sounds far more lowbrow than it was. After all it had "crushed peas" as opposed to mushy ones....


Tuesday had nothing of note during the day aside from the usual slog. There was writing, copying, pasting and more writing. The evening held a bit of a treat though. The tall one, the chef and I headed off north to Exmouth Market in search of interesting food and drink and found "Moro" and next door "Morito" (as in "little Moro"). What a find. The logic applied here, is if you're taking your mum out for a poshed up family type dinner, you go to Moro's, whereas if you're looking for more of a cafe, afterwork, or first date style joint, got to Morito's.


It was very busy, so we had a word and the lovely woman behind the counter said she'd give us a ring as soon as a table was available. During the wait we headed over to the Exmouth Inn (or arms, I can't recall right now) for some most enjoyable beer from their very extensive beer menu. They have a particular beer thats about 15 quid for a pint - needless to say, we declined, but what we did have was excellent.


Two pints later and back to Morito's. Think Spanish tapas dishes, with North African influences and whatever else the chef feels like adding to it. We had 9 different dishes and two bottles of wine all for 30quid each. This isn't exactly cheap, but for the quality of the food, it's most definitely not expensive. Highly recommended.


Wednesday evening ended up being a Chinese round the corner from the office. I won't be going back. It was just a very unappetising meal even if the company - which included about 8 of us - was wide and varied.


By Thursday night and the journey home, "War and Peace" was about 90% complete and I was confident, even with the last minute additions caused by the client meeting that day, that I'd have it in good shape ready to be sent off to them on Friday. Thursday night proper was a trip to the Whittle to celebrate Rod's retirement. A few beers and reasonable grub provided by J (his boss) was extraordinarily enjoyable and would have been more so if it wasn't for the fact that I was pretty much dead on my feet and conscious of the looming deadline. I battled on, and still managed to enjoy the banter nonetheless.


Friday was an early start to finish the beast, and by lunchtime it was done and off to review by those that have to do so. A few tweaks, a couple of comments, turn it into a PDF and by 5pm all is over and it feels like a job well done. No doubt the customer will barf all over it, and we'll have to write something new and probably longer. To me, it's 300 pages of useful guff.


Next thing I know, it's the weekend! Yay! Friday night, Mrs G and I enjoyed some well deserved wine with our perfectly cooked Gammon steak (I do like overly large Bacon - for that is what it is). I also noted the arrival of Adele singing the new James Bond theme - Skyfall. Those of you that know, will know I'm a bit of a fan of the bond films, and I'm greatly looking forward to the arrival of the next outing. If things go to plan, I might even be able to catch the IMAX version of it - October the 26th in the UK I think. A cracking way to celebrate 50 years of a well worn cinematic franchise.


Saturday morning saw a whole host of jobs that have to get done before next weekend - when we jet off to the sun for a bit of late winter vitamin D. Daughter made an appearance, which always brightens even the brightest of days. She has bough more fish. We also had Auntie S and the kids round for an evening of Pizza, frivolity and dumb telly.


Sunday, in-laws for lunch. They're pretty chewy, but have a great flavour (the old ones are always the best - see what I did there?). Son appeared and regaled us with stories of him not ducking quite quickly enough in a club in the West Midlands - not a fun story but he's perfectly alright and we printed tickets and assembled paperwork in preparation for the trip. Then there was railway tickets and hotels to organise for this coming week. Bags to pack and suitcases to extract from the loft. Playlists to organise and booklists to load up the kindles with.


Finally on Sunday night I sat down and relaxed for only the second time this weekend and promptly fell asleep on the sofa.


6.45 Monday morning and I'm back on the train for another week of fun in the city. This week is all about numbers - and I'll be reinforcing the fact that if I don't bloody well do them, no one else will, even though without them nothing will happen. Frustrating at best. Still, the tall one, the chef and I will hunt out some diverse digestion destinations I'm sure, so thank god for small mercies.


Until next time....


This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Monday, October 01, 2012

Discovering the New Word...

At first glance, you might think that's a spelling mistake and I've dropped an "L", but it turns out that the Stoke Chef really has discovered a New Word. Ladies and Gentlemen, please put your hands
together and show your appreciation of the latest verbiage to enter the colloquial English lexicon....

1. Of or relating to chaotic or action packed drama or the performance or study of chaotic or action packed drama.
2. (Of an event or circumstance) Sudden and striking: "a dramastic situation with terrible repurcussions"


This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Once more into the buffers...

Some days just start in a painful way. Last Monday was one of those.


The alarm dragged me awake at five to six. An ungodly hour and for the first time this year it's still properly dark. Very depressing. By the time I arrived at the station the drizzle was relentless and unforgiving and just adds to the misery. Standard routine dictates, a cash withdrawal from the ATM and a cup of coffee for the journey. Not today though, because today is clearly destined to be "one of those days". Cash machine is out of order, so no cash and so no coffee.


Far far worse is yet to come though. Unluckily I got to spend the next two hours sat next to and respectively opposite a couple of women who were on their way to a conference. Their company had seen fit to send them off up that Laandan and now I know why. Clearly the other members of their office needed a break. A day of peace and quiet for the staff left behind, but not so for those of us on the same train as them.


I now know this pairs complete life story and that's occupying a piece of my brain that I'd really rather be using for something more useful. Perhaps venting about it here will help get it out of my system.


1: "How's your mum getting on?"

2: "She's fine, but she does my head in a bit now. She starts telling me about people I've never met all the time and I start to think she's sounding like an old woman."

1: "and they talk about ailments"

2: "Oh yeah. It's always this person that I've never met and how they're ill and that. But she's fine. My step dad's ill though. He's not been well for ages. You remember when that little girl went missing a out 10 years ago? Well he had a stroke on the same day and he's not really been right since. When was that now? About 10, no maybe 12 years"

1: "Oh that's sad. I never met him"


Draw your own conclusions. Two hours of it is agonising.


However, with the stiff-British-upper-lipness that one should adopt in such circumstances, I press on into the working week, safe in the knowledge that "things can only get better" as the song goes. Sure enough, there was lots of hard work and a couple if jolly good evening's worth of entertainment.


This lot are a good bunch and we're all scrambling about in a bit of low lying fog trying to make the best of a bad job. Overall it's not going too badly, especially when the fog clears occasionally, although at a senior level there does seem to be a never ending game of musical chairs going on.


Outside of the work, Monday night saw a couple of beverages in "Ye Olde Mitre" as featured in the movie "Snatch" if you know where to look and some dinner in "The Bleeding Heart". Both excellent establishments and should be on any visitors list for classic British pubs and good food (The former being a classic British pub, and the latter doing the food - not vice versa - unless a cheese toasted sandwich is what you're yearning for).


Tuesday was a stop at "The Mad Hatter" for a pie and a pint and some football. On e again, reasonable food and very good beer. Conveniently located for me and my colleagues as it turns out, and is likely to get future return visits. It's also very good value.


Wednesday on the other hand saw us pushing the boat right out. A trip to a very upmarket Eastern European restaurant. Think gourmet boiled potatoes and cabbage. "Baltic" is just opposite and around the corner from Southwark tube. It has a deceptively small frontage, as it has a mahoosive "backage", is a bit pricey and provides an extensive range of vodkas (its not just clear and strong - it can be flavoured, and cloudy, and very very strong too).


On the corner opposite Southwark is "The Ring" (There is only one - to rule them all and all that) which is a boxing themed boozer and the punch line to many a joke in great distaste. So it was with some trepidation that before dining in the Baltic, we took one up the ring. Still, you can't knock it until you've tried it. The place was packed, a good turnout, and many people were well oiled in the ring. And so the crudity of jokes kept declining into chaos while at the same time, flowing.


On the way home, as they were closing up, the seats around the ring were in piles... Most uncomfortable I'm told.


Enough. Friday was working from home which was a blessed relief but also bloody hard work. Being split across two deals is challenging at this stage, but workable. Not leading either of them is also a result - even if I'm quite sure I could if I actually had the inclination to. I am long enough in the tooth to know how uncomfortable rods in the back are though - I don't need to be making any - if you get my drift.


Saturday morning had Mrs G and I up at the crack of dawn to trundle off to Wiltshire to see the elder Balls, sister Ball and granny Ball. All in fine fettle and an entertaining day was had. We stopped overnight and had Sunday lunch with Granny Ball which is always a delight and a privilege especially as she's still going strong at 92 (even if she thinks she's in her 70's). Sister Ball has acquired a couple of new friends - Milo and A, both of whom are very cute and immensely entertaining.


A quick stop at daughters on the way home to share a cuppa and some chocolate cake and then home to unpack and repack read for Monday morning. In all honesty I'm not sure the weekend ever even happened but such is my lot at the moment.


Well - gotta dash, here's Paddington. Lets see what fun we can cram into this week.



This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Where is Golfyball?


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