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Friday, 30 September 2011

I know, I know

I have been rather absent lately, and if you have indeed been thinking that, then you are not the only one.  I have even been absent from myself.

To be honest, my bones are still aching from the floor varnishing last weekend, and I have been very busy travelling to the office for four days, that I have been both busy and exhausted for most of the week.  I even went out on Tuesday to play snooker with Mr Big.  We have a great evening, and while I worried him a bit with my wicked cue arm (top break a lofty 17), in the end it was the foul shots wot done me in, and he emerged the victor.  We have a return match planned in a couple of weeks, when I will not be giving him any sort of head-start.

On other news, we have a dinner for six at the weekend, with David and Samantha and Brad and Angelina coming over for some nosh, the latter with their little progeny, all four of which will be staying for a sleep-over.  Needless to say it will be late night, for them at least*, and I am anticipating a very enjoyable and fun evening.

That's about it for this week.  I cannot decide whether I should carry on writing, in which case I need to write more frequently, or whether I should just hang up my blogging shoes and stop altogether, so if you do hear from me again, it should be in a more regular fashion, but if you don't, then d

* My trick being to fall asleep just after the last mouthful of dessert.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Regency Furniture

We had a fantastic weekend away 'vannin'.  The weather was, for the most part, better than the forecast, although we did get a bit of rain, on and off.  This was most inconvenient on Saturday night when we were trying to have a BBQ, however a bit of ingenuity, string, spare poles and the flap from the awning made a perfect roof for the BBQ area, and a very nice meal was had by all.  The awning was severely smoked in the process, and is now hanging up in the shed, drying and airing, so the shed itself now smells like I imagine one of those kipper-smoking huts smells.

The only other slight fly in the ointment, but not one that caused grief for long, was the fact that the Maggots and their maggoty friends made a camp, as you do when camping in amongst the trees.  Unfortunately, this contravenes Rule 4, subsection iii of the woodland code*, and so our friendly ranger, whilst doing his rounds with snake hook** in hand, did drop by to inform us of our transgression.  Needless to say that we have now tutored the maggots in the perils of Ranger Danger.

On other news, I am half way through replacing white plastic sockets and switches with brushed stainless versions in the rest of the house, to match the newer part of the house.  By so doing, I have been and gotten myself a bit of an education on two way switches, being totally floored by an issue with the hallway light for an hour or more, before Uncle Google came to the rescue.  I am currently learning about three way switches, for the landing light, and realise that you need a special "intermediate" switch in the middle that has four, not three, connections.  A quick trip back to the electrical wholesaler will hopefully sort that one out.
I have realised however that, were events to take a turn for the worse on the employment front, "Electrician" is not one of the out-of-the-box jobs I will be considering.  It is just too damn fiddly.  Maybe it is my chubbly little fingers (the same chubby fingers that stops me playing even a passable rendition of any Hendrix riff***), but those little screws and the short wires and all that messing about just does nothing for me.  The switches and sockets so far converted do, though, really look the business, and have finished off their host rooms nicely.

This weekend, LO is in London on Saturday with Samantha, so undoubtedly David and myself will be doing something together with the Maggots.  Probably Pizza Hut like every other saddo daddo.  I am also planning for Sunday to be the floor re-varnish day.  Now we have the patina of oil-based varnish as a base, I plan to use water-based Diamond Hard Varnish from Ronseal, and being water-based means that it does dry quicker.  I can re-coat after 2 hours, and it should be dried sufficiently to tiptoe in 8 hours, and fully dry in 24, although experience tells me it will be fully hard in a week or so.  This will mean clearing the room of furniture, made somewhat easier from the recent painting, which means that the room is only a skeleton room anyway.  The plan I think is to move it all to the extension, and set that up as the day room proper with sofa, chairs and TV setup.  We will then be confined to downstairs until late afternoon.
David does not know it yet, but I hope to lure him back from Pizza Hut on Saturday to help with the lifting, assuming his back can take it, which is not a given.

* Nothing may be tied or attached to any tree within the site.
** Well, it was either a snake hook or a litter spike.
*** I am all for artistic licence, but really, Hendrix?  Are you sure?  Ed.

Friday, 16 September 2011

And . . . relax

It is uncanny, this Friday thing.  Each week, without fail, here it is.

This Friday finds me preparing for a weekend away in the 'van.  Due to the extension, which I think I may have mentioned, we have not been away in it as much as usual, and by way of making up for lost ground, are away at least twice leading up to Christmas, including this weekend.

We are planning a trip down to the New Forest, in a site with no electric hook up, which is not what a chap is used to, but if there is one thing the services teach you it is how to muck in with the lower ranks.  As my well-worn story goes about the girl at art college responded when accused of being a snob, "I am not a snob, I talk to people below me". 

To be honest, the weather looks a bit dodgy.  Depending on which nearest town you pick*, it varies from light rain to heavy rain, which is the sort of weather forecast you only expect to see up North.  Needless to say that, as a rule, the weather does not play much of a part in the enjoying of a weekend away - it is, after all, something you need to expect if you choose to go camping anytime outside that really good week in late March we seem to get every year.

On the home front, a rather rash acceptance of an offer from my dad to "decorate the front room" has meant the putting on hold of a number of other jobs, the covering is furniture with drapes in said room, and to generally creating the sort of stress levels in one's partner that are usually only experienced by Premiership Football Managers on a losing streak.  It will all be worth it when it is done seems to be wearing thin right now, so maybe a new tack needs to be taken to avoid physical harm.

So, better get off and finish my working day.  Have a great weekend, and speak next week.

* Where we are going is somewhat off the beaten path, as you would expect from such an intrepid traveller.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Friday, 9 September 2011

And . . . relax

Just a quick one to sign off the week.

As I reach the end of week 2, things are starting to return to normal.

Weekend-wise, fairly quiet.  Maggot 1 is on cub camp Friday to Sunday, so will be wet, hungry and feral by the time we pick him up. 
This means we have some "quality time" with Maggot 2, not sure what precisely but he is generally never happier when he has the complete attention of his parents.  There will be a bit of DIY, but also plenty of fun time.

That is, sad to say, about it for this week.  I hope you have a fantastic weekend etc etc.

Oh, and a Pompey* win at the weekend would be quite good as well.

* Lower league team, Google it for more info.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Is the my holiday glow disappearing over the horizon?

Not actually as negative as it may sound, just an honest realisation that I am starting to get in to the swing of this work thing.

With many miles of driving under my belt getting to and from the holiday accommodation, and a car full of dozy passengers*, I did have a few moments to ponder life, the universe and everything, and indeed I did make myself something of a plan of action for the final third of the year.

On return to planet Earth, as I think I may have already told you**, I had a meeting with my manager for a mid-year*** review, and it was quite refreshing that his assessment of what I needed to do for the final third matched my own. 

So, I have a plan, and I have the means to execute on it, and I am starting to generate the enthusiasm to actually start.  Now that, by any chap's standard, deserves a glass of sherry or two.

I had an infrequent trip to London this week, and it just acted as a reminder of how much better I am liking working where I am now.  The buzz of London is undeniable, but I am benefiting greatly from not staying away all week.  The rest of the family may not be so sure.

I read on the train up to the smoke a story that you may also have seen.  The chap who had written a list of 50 things he wanted to do before he died, and he had started the first on his list, which was to drive to the summit of Snowdonia.  Needless to say that his Frontera 4x4 did not make it, and he is now facing a criminal record and a bill for thousands of pounds for the recovery of the vehicle.  Apparently this is the most sensible thing on his list, so he is rethinking the whole thing.
Quite where you start with this story is hard to say.  Is it an example of British eccentricity, or simply human stupidity.  On the hero to zero scale I think I have him down just below zero.

Anyhow, enough of that, back to work.  Hope you are having a good week, and speak tomorrow.

* The UK's slander laws being what they are, I should clarify that this is due to the soporific nature of driving, not intellectual capabilities.  Although...
** At least I know I am repeating myself.
*** It has not escaped the irony police that the mid-year review happens two thirds of the way through the year.

Monday, 5 September 2011

This is the first day of the rest of our lives, so make the most of it

This may well be of a mantra I am repeating, rather than a state of mind that I have already achieved, but it is something I want and need to put in place.  "That holiday feeling" is lingering much longer than usual, and the work landscape is such that I really need to be somewhere near the top of my game to make a success of the rest of the year. 

This has become the important element arising from my recent mid-year review with my boss, and by boss, I mean my personal development manager rather than my task manager(s), Starfleet being as it is a proponent of matrix management*.  I need to really make a success of my current role.  What I have observed of myself is that I am good at being a success with my peers and those to whom I team-lead, but not always to the powers that be.  This is something I think has two factors: the first is I like to be liked, so work hard at being so, and second that in our large, multi-agenda organisation I do sometimes feel that (task) managers do ask for silly things in silly timescales.  Having given myself a still talking to, I now appreciate that there is no point doing the stuff I think is important if I am neglecting the stuff that my (task) manager thinks is important, because he in turn gives his feedback on me to my (personal development) manager as part of my end of year review.

I think I am gonna need a lot of Vaseline if I am to keep my lips from going dry with all the @$$ kissing.

On Friday, had a good chat with Golfy, who apart from an alarming change of hair colour, is as he always is.  He is enjoying his work and has given SWK some food for thought.  Oh, we also did a Facetime call, which is, as both Maggots attested, "cooool".

"Who is your manager?" is a question that needs to be answered the with IT Architect's universal answer "it depends". 

Friday, 2 September 2011

And . . . relax

It is Friday already.  Horray to that.  Euro Lottery tonight.

But enough of this pipe-dream, back to reality.  LO's first day at work today, which really does mark the end of the summer.  The Maggots are out with the outlaws for the middle of the day, although they are both not feeling 100%, which is not a good start to the busiest term of the year.  For anyone who has children, I know I am singing to the vicar*, but illness-induced childcare is a nightmare for the parents, and we do rely heavily on our extended network of friends and family to fill in wherever possible, but it can be a hand-to-mouth existence that does nothing to improve the stress levels of busy working parents.

Otherwise, we have a fairly quiet weekend, where I will do a bit of DIY, a bit of quality time with the maggots, and an evening out Saturday to friends for dinner.

I hope you have a good weekend also.

* or is it preaching to the choir?

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Anyone got a spare five mill?

So I am at the start of Day Three*, and I am reminded of what I said to my mum when I was five, having done the first two days of Infants School.  Striding out of the school I declared "Well, I have tried this school thing, and I don't think it is for me".  I don't recall mum's response, but it would no doubt have included something about it being the law.

So this is what I am feeling somewhat today.  I have tried this work thing, and I am not sure that it and I are suited.  I don't usually have this feeling after a holiday, but this one really seems to have got me.  Provence is really something, and while I am not sure I would spend all Summer docked in St Tropez, I could manage a week or two just getting used to the upper-deck leisure seating, testing the wine cellar and keeping an eye on the deck hands to make sure they are keeping the boat shiny.  Well I assume that shiny is how it should look, so I shall also be reading the style mags to be sure.

Anyway, this plan is all coming together nicely.  I have selected my short-list of boats to trial, I am fairly sure I know what colour scheme for the deck hands' uniforms - simple blue polo shirts and beige shorts seems to be de rigueur, but I am tending towards orange.  I have read that St Tropez is best in early summer, Monte Carlo for the end, and maybe somewhere in between for the hot middle bit.

The final piece in the puzzle, just a little piece really, is the five mill I need to fund the purchase.  I have a few ideas, but only an idiot would give away their secrets, and only an even bigger idiot would base their plan on the Lottery.

Does anyone have Peter Mandelson's number?

* Not sure these days now it has moved to Channel 5, but this always used to be said with a Geordie accent.