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Tuesday, 30 December 2014

In between days

I hope you had a great Christmas.

I have had a really good break.  Today, I am technically working, though with my client being on holiday and with only a skeleton staff, and my account team ditto, it has been really slow.  I have managed to complete all that I can, and even spent some time on a case I am developing to gain a Consultancy stripe.  It is tedious stuff, but by slowing working through each section, I am nearly there (the tool tells me I am 93% completed), though the final section I have to complete are two examples of how I have used the Method, and that is with a capital M, and that is something that right now I am struggling to reach, even with a vivid imagination.  Hence why I am writing this - a bit of light relief.

So, Christmas went well, although my mum was pretty ill and did not attend the day.  She became ill the day after she came back from Spain, and yet again we have discussed, not in her company obviously, but behind her back, why they bother coming back.  They nearly always get ill, on three of the last five years their journey home has been troubled by bad weather, one year requiring them to fly to Birmingham and get the train down south from there.  Anyhow, we took her round a plate of her favourite bits, and she has survived sufficiently to get back to Spain, to spend new year in Benidorm.  I know, it paints a picture, but they tell me it is lovely out of season.  They have definitely not seen the TV show.

We are not sure what we are doing for New Year, there being too much illness around, but to be honest I set my sights ridiculously low, so that it is not hard to at least meet, if not exceed them.

Brad and Angelina and their associated Maggots came down for the A&E yearly "between Christmas and New Year family drinks day", as it is catchingly called.  During their visit, Brad and LO gave me some good life advice.

Having spent the last two years as the "Year of the Career", and failing in any noticeable way to move my career on, when I discussed the need for this to really really be my Year of the Career, both Brad and LO gently and kindly suggested that if I keep on doing what I am doing, then I will keep on getting what I had gotten, so maybe I should pick something else. 

So, without wanting to declare, of have, any daft and unattainable New Year Resolutions, something of which I am with Bad Man that they are mostly pointless, I do want to do something about my health, both eating well, drinking less and doing more exercise.  Standard stuff I know.

Anyway, what I am planning to do is have 2015 as the Year of Me.  The theory, or plan, will be to concentrate on me, and letting things around me career-wise just happen.  That is not to say that I will be doing nothing, but rather that I will focus and concentrate on getting me good, and doing the needful on any career aspects. i.e. if I do something different, then I may achieve something different.

As with every experiment I have declared on this blog, I will of course keep you updated with any meaningful progress, whether good or bad.

I hope you have had a good break, and enjoy your New Year. 

Speak again next year.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Happy Christmas and New Year to you all.

I hope Santa brings you all you want.

Monday, 22 December 2014

Not so well

I was off work sick on Friday, having succumbed heavily to another cold or virus or whatever the hell it was, this one with a very heavy cough and tight chest, as I think it is described.  Quick trip to the quacks and I am now on a course of antibiotics, which should hopefully clear everything up.

Not to sound too much of a wuss, but I am just really run down at the moment.  Sleeping badly and previously having taken around four weeks to shake off the previous illness, only to get something else straight afterwards.

The cure is, or course, rest, and Friday's sick day definitely helped on that front.  Just need to finish the course of antibiotics, and keep well fed and watered, and sleep as much as possible, and I will be back to normal in no time, at least in time for Christmas.

Today I am back in the work saddle trying to close down all those threads that need closing down.  Our big proposal is one of those, although both me and my colleague are fed up with the changes, and are struggling to nail the latest scope change.  We were give the revised baselines on Thursday, or so we thought, and so were madly re-working the considerable number of elements that hang off the baseline decision, only to find the client had been a bit slapdash with his emails (I am beginning to sense he is not a man for detail, and while that means we need to get him to write everything down, even that strategy is not succeeding just at the moment), having sent us a note saying it was 500 plus a further 100, only to correct that when I wrote back just to confirm this new baseline, that he meant 350 plus a further 100.  Now, dear reader, some of you may be IT literate, and some less so, but I do strongly believe that anyone can see the difference between 600 and 450.  Indeed, even my nine year old son, aka Maggot 2, would be able to identify the differences in those two pictures.

So, Monday morning, we are now re-working again, or re-re-working, the various documents that hang off the baseline decision.

I think maybe you can see why we are losing interest in the whole thing.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Is it something I said?

My work life has been dominated, for the last month or so at level 7, and for the last week at level 11, by a specific proposal we are putting to our client.  This proposal has an element of Cloud in it, so we are ticking all the right boxes with respect to being "on message" with our strategy.  We learnt last Friday, however, that there were some boxes we were not ticking.  It turns out that there is a requirement for every Cloud solution to go through a Cloud Review Board call.  Talk about learning on the job.  This translated in to hasty arrangements made to book a slot, and some time spent completing a checklist and a deck* of slides.  This on top of a mid-week "oh blast" moment when I realised I had been focussing on the commercial end of the deal, and ignoring the technical end, and was up at 4am writing a detailed solution document.  I do not believe that anyone is looking forward to Christmas more than me.

Anyway, all's well that ends well.  All reviews passed with mostly flying colours**, proposal ready for presentation, client meeting booked.  What could possibly go wrong.

Before I continue, I should just add that this deal is a big deal for us on the account, and for Starfleet in general, since our signings are thin this quarter, and this represents a healthy chunk of the quarterly target.  The fact that it is also Cloud shaped is the icing on the cake.  What does this all mean?  Well, it means that everyone and their dog, and their master, and their master's dog, are interested in the progress of the deal, and eagerly awaiting the chink-chink sound of a signing and money in the door, or at least on the spreadsheet.

Back to the story.  We presented to the client, and passed all the tests set us from the previous meeting.  Both sides talked of the need to sign this year, and as we were starting to get that warm glow that we are in the home straight, a couple of curved  balls*** were casually tossed our way, that they wanted two elements of scope included in the proposal, both of which were identified and agreed as OUT OF SCOPE TWO MONTHS AGO.

This requires some thinking, some re-engineering the solution and cost elements, and ultimately going back to the drawing board to, if not the start, at least half way.  And this, you will not be surprised to hear, means that we will need a fair chunk of time to understand the art of the possible, entering again new ground for which we will need to look all over Starfleet for help, advice or similar solutions to our problems.

The chance of signing this year is therefore all but zero.  There is a wisdom in our industry that the way to handle Starfleet is to delay a decision until the end of the month, quarter or year, play the game of "who blinks first", and most of the time, Starfleet will drop their trousers, and their price, just to secure the deal.  What is interesting in this case is that, firstly, we are not totally sure whether our client is playing this game, but if they are, then secondly, our leader is very clear that we will not be doing that.  He is more interested in getting it right than getting it signed this year, for which my colleague and I are very grateful, since it gives us a chance to craft something of quality, not something of speed.

I will let you know how it goes.

On the home front, not much going on this week, but away to Brad and Angelina's for the weekend, to celebrate Angelina's birthday.  Should be fun, and good to see everyone.

* not sure if its origin is American, but we all seem to talk about slide decks, or sometimes slide packs.  Assuredly, our organisation are dabbling with death by Powerpoint to dangerous levels

** One bit that was nice was that as we were finishing our Cloud presentation, I got a ping from an old chum

*** presumably a baseball analogy, so another Americanism

Monday, 8 December 2014

And . . . relaxed

Bit busy on Friday.  Proposal that we have nearly completed, super urgent coz we want it signed this year, was partly derailed Friday as we learnt that, since it had Cloud content, it needed to be reviewed and approved for released by the Cloud Know-all and Do-gooder camp.

This was unexpected, and as welcome as a . . . *

We have a review at 12pm today.  This may be a box ticked, or it may be a major curved ball.  Time will tell.  Then we have a local review at 2pm.  Again, this may be either a curved ball or a boxed ticked.

What I am doing between now and Wednesday lunchtime, when we have a date booked to take our client through the approved proposal, is wholly dependent on how these two reviews go. 

We had a great weekend.  Saturday was fairly routine.  I did manage to fix both the bikes, primarily Maggot 2's bike which has brake problems, and also managed to fixed the DVD player, with a fix found online, to basically remove the touch screen connection.  Seems to be holding up so far.  This meant we were full cinema experience for Strictly Saturday night, where we were joined by LO's parents and grand-mother, for what was a very noisy evening.

On Sunday, we went to London for a day's shopping, with our focal point being Liberty of London, subject of a documentary on TV.  We even managed to get our photo taken with one of the stars of the show - Omar, the assistant in the women's section who has just been offered a chance to design clothes for the store.  He was lovely, and Maggot 2, after initially running away from the embarrassment of it all, did finally join the photo.  Made his day, and he is taking in to school the photo for his show and tell session today.

This week, I may be clearing my desks for a move to another section of the team, or I may not, depending on priority calls and escalations and decisions made up in the ether.

Time will tell.

* insert favourite "fart in a space suit**" type saying here
** Thanks to Billy Connolly for that one

Monday, 1 December 2014

I didn't see that coming

Had a call from my boss, and the essence was "the pipeline of work for your team is still smaller than other teams, so we need to take another body from you". 

This will reduce the team to 2 UK bods and 1 Polish person.  I was asked whose removal would cause least impact to the account, and I suggested mine. 

Just before I suggested that, the thought formed in my head and my immediate internal conversation went along the lines of "might be amusing to suggest this in jest", however by the time the words were out, it did not seem such a bad idea.  Many people have said that redundancy was the best thing that ever happened to them, and while this is not redundancy as such, it is sort of redundancy from my team, and maybe it is not such a mad thought that being moved to somewhere else, albeit that somewhere else is severely malfunctional, might be just the kick up the jacksy I need.

I think it is time to book another session with my mentor to talk discuss options.

Friday, 28 November 2014

And . . . relax

Starfleet had an all-hands call on Wednesday, and it was one of those calls to declare a "...notification of intent to enter a period of employee consultation, to review options for addressing the business challenges in the UK."

This is an exceedingly long-handed phrase for "there is about to be another round of redundancies".  In a very interesting article on Forbes about Starfleet, where it described accurately what a lot of us are feeling, one of its key messages was that we cannot continue to cut our way to business success.

Apparently the article was wrong.

Anyhow, that news feels about as fixed a diary date as Christmas, and there was a lot of animated discussions afterwards, in fact plenty of it before hands, since the phrase "All Hands Call" is one that conjures sadly only one thought. 

One wagster suggested that the call might be about to offer us a Christmas bonus for all our support during a tough year.  It is perhaps a sad indictment of the climate at Starfleet that there are several in my sphere of acquaintance that would definitely see voluntary redundancy as a Christmas bonus.  Indeed, one colleague stated that he would not consider leaving Starfleet of his own accord, since, in his words, "that is a waste of nineteen years of service."

We are not doing much this weekend.  We were out Saturday, but events have changed and actually I am not so sad to be staying in.  Last weekend's Seventies night was great fun, but set me back in terms of recovery from the illness, so a quieter Saturday evening will be good for the soul.  We have A&E for lunch on Sunday so will no doubt have a few drinks then to make up for things.

Have a great weekend, and speak next week.

Friday, 21 November 2014

And . . . relax

It was parents' evening last night for Maggot 2.  Feedback was fairly good, some areas on which to concentrate.  Discussing with Maggot later did not go so well.

I had a couple of beers last night, and felt worse for it.  My cold, very much a head cold now, congestion, headache, sore throat, seemed to get thicker, and I was awake twice in the night for an hour, clearing throats and generally feeling quite uncomfortable.  Plan is to have no alcohol tonight, but then I a can resist anything but temptation . . .

On Saturday we are at a Seventies fancy-dress party celebrating R&R's fiftieth, both of them, and also combined with a friend of theirs, at the local tennis club.  I have, as mentioned previously, cobbled together a pastiche of Mark Bolan, including a leather jacket that had seen better days in the nineties*, so having spent the last two decades in the loft in the "dressing up box" has done nothing to refine its look.  It now smells a lot less, and while it is hard to say that the creases have fallen out of it, I can report that it is just about ready to be taken out in to the big world.

In terms of outfit, as I say, it is a pastiche of Mark Bolan, in that it has flares, a feather boa and a few other Seventies-style accoutrements.  The fact that I will probably look like a docker in a tutu is neither here nor there.  I have a long history of similar looks, recounting for a moment when I decided to go as a French maid in biker boots.  Ah, the memories, the memories.

I am reliably informed that there will be many and varied costumes on show, including the Village People, which Wikipedia says is "an American disco group that formed in 1977, well known for their on-stage costumes depicting American masculine cultural stereotypes, as well as their catchy tunes and suggestive lyrics", so there goes my intended line that I thought they were the Eighties.  I do love the term "masculine cultural stereotypes".

* or vintage, as it was known when I bought it then

Thursday, 20 November 2014


I played tennis last night.  My breathing was impaired, but overall I was OK.  We practiced the backhand slice, a very useful shot which, when done well, is hard to return.  My slice was pretty good, and while I used it previously, I plan to use it more, coz, as I said, it is lethal done well.

Today, not sure I feel quite right.  More paracetamol is needed I think.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014


I have been unwell latter part of last week, and that has meant a lot of catch up this week.  That, combined with a reduction in my team (there are wheels in Starfleet squeakier than mine), and a confluence of important bits that only I can do (not being big-headed, but only I can use a key tool used for creating costs), means I seem to be experiencing a perfect storm.

And, as if that is not enough, I am also still not feeling one-hundred percent.  I really want to feel right, but I don't.  I want to play tennis tonight, with the new racket I had as one of my birthday presents from A&E, R&R and J&M, but I am reserving the right to miss it, not because I want to, but maybe because I may need to for self-preservation.

It is the time of year when we have to do our submission for our appraisal process, which is a most disagreeable process, on several levels.  The latest challenge is that we have to submit on a web-based tool, which is really rubbish. We should be able to simply cut and paste from our Word master document, but it is not that simple.  Formatting is shot, word count is shot, and I have spent several hours trying to get it trimmed.  To no avail.  It seems that I am not alone, and the trick that I used - actually not so much trick but fiddle - seemed a bit clunky, but it seems that it is the same trick as several of my colleagues have used.

Anyway, it is an irritant, and it will pass.  Just like a bout of diarrhea.

On the home front, in what has become known as the "post-glossing era", I am catching up on the little jobs, a list which is growing due to problems.  The latest issues are the lock on our front room door and the upstairs shower head.  That is my weekend sorted.

We are off to a seventies night at the weekend, and I have had to dug deep in our dressing-up box in the loft, and have pulled out my outfit, which smells just like they are straight from the seventies.  LO's only comment was "you won't catch me wearing that", which is good for me, since I want to wear it myself, but I think that maybe it signifies how ridiculous I will look.

Ho hum.

Monday, 10 November 2014

I'm finished

In more ways than one, but more of that later.

I have finally finished the glossing.  It will require several days of hardening before it is open to the public, but the job is done, and while not exactly fanfares, there is some relief in Scobi Towers if for no other reason than we can clear all the painting paraphernalia from our bedroom, the hall and my study.  In the words of LO, "it has been hanging over us like the Sword of Damocles".

The rest of the day was spent cleaning the 'van and LO's car, using my newest birthday present, a power wash.  Now, I am not an overly gadget-obsessed chap, just as happy with spade as with an iPad*, but I have to say this is one gadget that I already really love, a love that can only grow deeper as I venture to walls and patios and other surfaces to clean.  I went for the Karcher K2 Premium, 25% off at Homebase**, which comes with two lances - number one the usual take-your-head-off nozzle, the second a flat beam that can be turned down to gentle and up to nearly-take-your-head-off.  It also has a built-in detergent tray, an confusing plug-in detergent gun, a brush and a patio cleaner.
I now have a handle on when to use each of the two detergent reservoirs - I used the internal one for wash, and the gun I added "Bobby Dazzler", a treatment added to the rinse phase to give sparkle.  This seemed to work well since I used the brush with the detergent, and just the gun for the Bobby Dazzler, which gave a pleasing gentle wide fan of rinse, just as the doctor ordered.

Finally, have taken the 'van back in to storage, and stopping via Homebase** to buy a pair of HoseLok connectors, mine having worn out, resulting in them popping off regularly, which is about as frustrating as you need when trying to do a jet wash.  I therefore arrived home expecting the shower, sit down and maybe doze off routine, only to be bullied in to the garden to pick up two hundredweight of leaves from the trampoline and garden.

Needless to say, when I did finally sit down, clean and ready for a beer, I was knackered, only to realise that I had a cold coming on.

Overnight, we have the most intense thunder and lightening, interspersed with immense downpours lasting maybe five minutes, followed by normal rain.  We had two power cuts, the first requiring investigation, the second one bring the Maggots to our room, so we all had a terrible night's sleep which for me was worse as I also had a sore throat, catarrh and a runny nose.

* utter rubbish, but never let the truth stand in the way of a good story
** not my favourite store by a long stretch, but a discount is a discount

Friday, 7 November 2014

And . . . relax

Glossing continues.  All upstairs is done now and ready to come down the stairs, so nearly getting towards the step before the bend ahead of the final straight.

Work is very busy, with stuff that is important, to others, which means it is urgent for me.  To be fair, it is both important and urgent, but it is taking an inordinately large amount of my time.

One of my team, let's call him The Farmer, is very vocal about many things.  He left us for four months, and the peace that prevailed was heralded, and greatly enjoyed, by all.  He has now returned to us.  The Farmer is also very opinionated, which just adds to the overall mix, a potent cocktail of loud and opinionated.  Ouch. 

Anyway, he asked me the other day why I was so busy when the volume of requests in our pipeline is so small.  I said that the pipeline management is something I could easily avoid completely and still be fully occupied, and it is fair to say that he was unable to compute that, since for him, my job is all about the pipeline, and nothing else.  I am trying, but so far not succeeding, in offering for his consideration an alternative view on both the world, and my role, not least because he is probably the best option to be my replacement if/when I move on.

"Best option" could easily be misconstrued, since the stock of possibles is very limited, partly due to a lack of people with sufficient experience to do the role (the inevitable outcome of years and years of pruning, itself driving some to move to a different inter-galactic provider.  In fact, one competitor has had five of my type of cadet in the last four months).

It is also partly a matter that the role is not attractive.  We are tasked with running a team, doing all the interface work between our local account and our profession, with coaching, reviewing, supporting and mercilessly beating our team to produce their widgets both quickly and of a high quality, and at the same time we are measured on how many widgets we can produce ourselves, and penalised because we inevitably cannot produce at the same rate as our team DUE TO THE TIME WE SPEND SUPPORTING THEM (sorry for shouting).  I think this is the Starfleet variant on the Catch 22, and it would be a lot funnier were it not so grim.

This weekend will be more glossing, clearing the leaves from the garden, and hopefully going to a fireworks display on Saturday night.  Around that, I hope to get some remixing in, and some rest, and some Strictly.  What a heady combination.

On that note, I wish you a great weekend, and speak next week.

Monday, 3 November 2014

Glossing over the cracks

Having completed the undercoating before we went on holiday, I returned with the task of glossing.  So it was that on Friday afternoon and early evening, I started the glossing, and completed 4 doors, the loft hatch and all joining architrave and skirting.  This all went well, though in the cold light of day, I have made a couple of little mistakes.  I missed a whole section of the door lining in to our bedroom (a fifteen centimetre wide piece), which will necessitate me rubbing down the whole section to re-gloss.  I also missed a tiny bit on our bedroom door, bottom left panel, which I think I can just about touch up without issue.

I am now back at my work desk, catching up on my over-flowing Inbox, and dealing with the immediately urgent stuff.  What is nice is that an email on Monday, raising a nasty issue, is often resolved by the end of the week, so I have learnt to read from oldest to newest, and don't do anything with any seemingly urgent stuff until you have reached the top of the list, lest you find the problem has resolved itself.

Speaking of holidays, we had a fantastic five days in Oxford.  We had a lovely static, or flat really, fitted out nicely and with a hot-tub on the decking.  We did the bus tour of Oxford, visited Christ's college, and a couple of pretty Cotswold villages, and overall relaxed greatly, saw much, ate all that we wanted and even drank a little.

We also went to a party for one of my college buddy's birthday on Saturday.  J was fifty, the old bugger, and we went up his house in what are probably the Northern Home Counties.  It was fantastic to see J, and also M and P, aka the Taffies, the other two that make up, with me and J, the "college four".  We had a great time and are likely to meet up again in January for P's birthday. 

Monday, 27 October 2014


I have received several letter asking how I am getting on with the undercoating in the hall, stairs and landing.

As you will recall, this involves six doors, one loft hatch and about a mile and a quarter of skirting and architrave, plus a banister with twenty-odd REALLY fiddly spindles, and as if that were not enough, the right side of the stairs is wood clad, so there is also about five square metres (mixing my measurements) there to paint, plus the decorative scrolls in the hall, the purpose of which eludes me to this day.

So, all in all, that is a lot of painting.  Over the last week or so, I have channelled the spirit of the Forth Bridge Painters, got my head down, put in a shift and generally painted a lot, and can now report that I have finished the undercoating.

This is really the easy phase.  Of course, to reach this moment, I have had to do all the cleaning and rubbing down in preparation, so have covered some miles, but I have been using quick-drying undercoat - which I can whole-heartedly recommend - so the amount of time between my brush putting it on and some careless Maggot brushing it off with their sleeve is fairly short.

Glossing is going to be a whole new kettle of fish, since that takes several hours to be touch dry, and several days to be hardened.  I will probably have to schedule in forty-five minute lunch breaks to get a door done a day, and fill in the architrave as and when.

Anyway, that is my painting update.  I am off to Oxford for five days, so will not be blogging Friday.  Have a great week, and speak soon.

Friday, 24 October 2014

And . . . relax

Busy week for all the clan.  Another career chat today.  Things are coming in to focus.

Home-wise, had a great birthday week last week.  One present, a combined present from A&E, R&R and J&M was for me to select a racket from our coach, Roger, who supplies said items.  The remit was, pick what you like, don't ask the price, and being a reliable chap, I did just that.  He brought a bunch for me to try on Wednesday, and the first one I used felt just right.  I tried a couple of others, on advice from R&R, but the one I tried first was definitely the favourite, and is indeed now on order, hopefully to arrive next Wednesday.  R is also looking for a new racket, so we swapped about, and at one stage when she was trying my precious, and I was trying one of the other loser models, I did have a small Gollum moment when I was jealous of anyone touching my racket.

In terms of how it played, what I did not appreciate is what new strings do for your game.  My old racket was new in 1998 and the strings have not been changed since, and what that means is that they ain't so grippy*, and what THAT means is that my game, which was always pretty good on the topspin ground strokes and a fairly wicked spin serve**, has been turned up to eleven.  The spin I can now get on the ball is quite something to behold, and to be honest I am like a puppy with a bone, a kid in a sweetshop and a dog with two wotsits all at the same time.  And that is a sight for sore eyes.

I have Tuesday to Friday off next week, and we are off to Oxford for a city break type thang, staying in a static van complete with hot tub and other fancy-pants features, so should be fun, relaxing and informative in equal measure.

I wish you a great weekend, and speak next week.

P.S. Message for Brad.  I have used my Aero Press for the first time today, with the old coffee.  It worked well, and tasted good, though not as strong as when I do my Scobi-latte trick in the cafetiere, so need to experiment with stirring and timings, and maybe even quantities.  However, it was quick and easy to use and the taste was smooth, so I think I am gonna like it.

* highly technical tennis term
** not boasting, rather repeating what others have commented

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Happy Birthday me!

Right at the start of my blogging, when I was going for the 700 words a day challenge, I decided on an editorial style that included never using exclamation marks.

It is therefore a momentous occasion for all the many many person who reads this blog for me to be using said exclamation mark in the title.

Today, fifty years ago, I appeared on this earth, plucked from the belly of my mother via a C-Section, and, so the story goes, on hearing that I was to be called Mark Antony, the doctor exclaimed "Bleedin' heck, who's next, Cleopatra".  Now, that story may be neither true nor funny, but it is one told often in these parts.

We have a small party tonight, a mid-week special with bangers and mash, one of my personal favourites, for those near enough to make it, and then a large party on Saturday when I would expect every bu$$er to be able to make it!*

We have red and white wine selected for both evenings, tonight a robust red/white combi, and on Saturday a pair of Italian beauties, personally tested by yours truly, to keep things lubricated, as part of our "Italian Evening". 

Brad and Angelina are coming down for Saturday, which will be lovely, since we have not seen them since Riverside Lakes.  We can catch up on news, including Brad's gall stone problem. 

Anyway, I am off to put on my party frock, so TTFN and speak again later in the week.

Two "!" in one blog, unheard of

Friday, 10 October 2014

And . . . relax

I had my first meeting with my new Mentor on Tuesday, and that turned out to be very useful.  It has given me a focus on what to do, and via her network, a means to do it, so I am following up on some leads, and will report progress as and when it happens.

At home, Maggot 2's bedroom if finally redecorated, just in time for his 9th birthday celebrations, the approaching of which has caused much excitement in him.

We now have our "play area" at the end of the garden, to address the area that, due to the trees, never had any grass on it.  This area has now been cleared, weed-killed, membraned, surrounded by sleepers and filled with wood chip.  It has made a great difference to a big tatty corner, and is this the next step in the normalising or our jungle.  We also have a tyre on the rope swing, and some climbing shapes* to add to the tree.

We have also had to purchase a new trampoline net.  In memory of the Captain Pugwash episode when the captain wanted to remove the annoyoing pillar in his cabin, LO thought it would be a good idea to remove the section of net with the annoying hole in it, but cutting out the whole section.  Needless to say, that section held the poles, and therefore the other sections, in place, so the whole net collapsed.

I plan to really crack on with the decorating this weekend.  I want to have all the walls painted, and have started the enormous task of undercoating and then glossing 6 doors, a loft hatch and several miles of skirting, plus a bannister and, just to put the cherry on the top, the whole wood-clad side of the stairs.  Phew, that really is going to keep me busy for a while.

I hope you have a great weekend, speak next week.

*Part of Maggot 2's present stash.

Monday, 6 October 2014

Wet and dry

Not a DIY reference, but a weather one.

The weekend was mighty fine.  Rather wet until 1pm Saturday, but after that, glorious sunshine rest of Saturday and all Sunday.  Lovely.  Really felt like the last dregs of Summer, which means all we have to look forward to is colder and wetter.

One final paint coat on Maggot 2's wall, and then that is done.  Rather worryingly still a bit of damp showing through the painting, so got the dehumidifier on in there, which will probably be better than nothing, but only just.  This means that either the wall still has not dried out, or there is some ongoing ingress problem.  Oh well, let's see how the Winter shapes up.

I have also filled much of the hall, stairs and landing walls, hopefully a bit of rubbing down tonight, a rub over with the tack cloth, and then ready for the first scratch coat of paint, which will show up where there are still bits to fill.

That's all for now folks, speak later.

Friday, 3 October 2014

And . . . relax

Wow, another week is all but over, and I am none the wiser.

Really not much to say.  At long last, I have a potential mentor, and have my first meeting next week.  This is an exec leaving my account, and I like her style (not all bluster and shouting, like many [male] execs) so am hoping she can help me with my career with more EQ and less testosterone.

I did actually throw my hat in the ring for another role as well.  Early days, and based on past performance, will likely come to nothing, so I will say nothing more until something actually happens.

We are off in the 'van this weekend, down to the New Forest with A&E.  It is always a bit stressful preparing for it*, but when the first beer is cracked open, or sometimes the second, everything straightens out nicely and the evening can begin in earnest.  As a rule, the girls drink too much too early, and are then rubbish at Canasta.  At least, that is the excuse they give.

Hope you have a great weekend, and speak next week.

* We planned to pack last night, and that was on the day that Maggot 1 was playing a rugby match after school, Maggot 2 had gone with A&E's nanny for the afternoon, Maggot 2 had to be dropped at 6pm at Brandy Hole Lane Woods, picked up at 8pm, give or take 20 minutes, while Maggot 1 had to be back at school for an open evening (he was one of the helpers) for 6.45pm and picked up at 8.30pm.  Add to that a request from A&E to pickup their Maggot 2 from the Woods also, to be part of a hostage-swap type maneuver at the school (since A&E's Maggot 1 was also a helper).  We also had to get a quick shop at Tesco's in for cake making ingredients, plus some Italian beer for my Italian-themed Birthday Party.  And in-between, we had to pack the car with all the stuff for a weekend away

Monday, 29 September 2014

Well, that went well

We had a great weekend.

I managed to get the front garden completed.  We are, there is no doubt, cliches of ourselves, but we have gone with "structural planting", namely 2 square pyramid and one round ball, which is simple and, we believe, effective.  It is also pretty much what every other bu$$er in the area is doing, at least those who are doing anything.  Nevertheless, it finishes the front, and apart from cleaning the front tiles (standard fare for these parts of black, red and yellow tiles in a diamond pattern, as those 1990s peeps liked), I really am done outside.

This meant that the second half of Saturday, and Sunday late after the karting, was spent working on the inside.  The last bits of paper have been stripped from the problem wall, the tricky bits up high round the window, which required me to have the ladder and plank arrangement to reach, and also resulted in 2 bits of plaster popping out on the upright inside edges of each window.  This is a pain, but to be expected, and small enough that my developing* skills in plastering should be able to address the problem.

I then sanded Maggot 2's bedroom wall and applied a scratch coat of paint.  This will then show up any bits to fill, and I plan to use plaster rather than caulk, because it will make a better finish, and with no lining paper, and matt paint, I need it as smooth as a proverbial.

As for the sporting activities, Maggot 2's first Saturday with the big boys went well.  The positives were that he scored, twice, that he always got in good spaces, and were he not the newbie, would have received the ball more often that he did in some good positions, and he made some excellent passes.  What he needs to work on is staying in position**, getting stuck in a bit*** and, his own thoughts, be ready to dribble it a bit more, once he gets more confident in the group.  All in all, a good first week.

On Sunday, we were at the box-karting.  This was at Goodwood, and the organiser, an extremely motivated and enthusiastic person, had built it up rather.  This meant that, initially, we were slightly underwhelmed as it was not on the race track, but in the car park.  Once over that initial disappointment, we all agreed that it was actually a very well organised event, that was a lot more fun that we had expected.  Maggot 2's team, The Asphalt Alligator, came a creditable third, though losing the semi-final did cause some strong discussions on whether the right team had been picked, but that was between the boys, and all part of building resilience.  At least that is what we told ourselves when we stayed well away.

Have a great week, and speak later on.

* It will still involve a lot of faffing when the plaster is still wet, and likely some vigorous sanding when dry

** He has spent so many years playing with not so good people that he tends to compensate by being a defender, a midfielder and an attacker in every game, and now he is with better players, he needs to be only one of those

*** While not as bad as some of the boys and girls, he did have the odd "my little pony" moments when he was skipping with his hands up, rather than getting stuck in a la Razor Ruddock

Friday, 26 September 2014

And . . . relax

Nothing of note coming from work.

Home has also been fairly uneventful.  To be sure it has been busy, and things have happened, but nothing of note.

This weekend is a fairly big one for a number of reasons:
  • Maggot 2 has moved up a group at football.  This is really his first big test against good and older players.  Will his dream of Premiership football crumble, or will he hold his own?  Only time will tell.  I just need to remember that it is a nice crowd, and not to get too excited
  • Strictly starts this weekend.  Must dig out my frilly shirt
  • On Sunday, Maggot 2 is taking part in the 7th Supreme Box-kart Championship.  If the leader's enthusiasm is anything to go by, it is gonna be a hellofa day*.  This is held at Goodwood Racecourse, the same as used by the Festival of Speed and the Goodwood Revival, so the surroundings will be something.  BBC TV will be there, as will a bunch of other secret, but very exciting, things.
Maggot 2 should be totally knackered by Sunday evening, which means two things; firstly, he will be grumpy, and secondly, he will be going to bed nice and early, as will his older brother, so the adults in the clan can enjoy a bit of adult time.

That is about all to say, so I wish you a great weekend, and speak next week.

* It will certainly be long, and maybe not always quite as exciting as billed since we have one child in the event, and there are 21 rounds of racing before the final knockout section.

Friday, 19 September 2014

And . . . relax

Another Friday has arrived, and a chap takes a moment to review the highs and lows of the preceding week.  In a fit of pique, I actually did review my week yesterday, so no need to bore you further.

This weekend, we have a fairly normal weekend.  Clubs Saturday morning, Maggot 2 second week at Fishbourne football, and Maggot 1 at tennis later.  In the evening, we are at a party, attended also by David and Samantha, A&E and R&R, with David and Samantha's eldest Maggot baby-sitting for us.

Otherwise, a normal weekend, when I hope to carry on with my tasks for outside, which is now reduced to:
  • laying weed-supressing membrane under the stones up the right-hand side of the house, which means actually the tedious task of clearing back the stones, clearing the weeds, and laying down the stones back on top of the membrane once laid
  • fitting the handle and associated bits to the gate
  • cleaning the paint and dirt from the front path.
If I can do all that this weekend, then it will have been a good weekend, and I can say, probably, that I will then have finished everything outside for this year.  The only bit that I may still do, if we get some work booked in to deal with the shady end of the garden, is a final bit of garden tidying up, and perhaps treating all the wooden fences and the shed in a single darkish colour.  Then that will be it outside.  Absolutely.  Definitely.  No more tasks.

Once I have done the outside, I will then need to turn to the inside, where I need to finish the wallpaper stripping of the upper hall, before painting the whole hall, stairs and landing with a matt paint (as part of my experiment on trying to stop damp retention in walls), plus doing the same in Maggot 2's bedroom, both of which have had bare plaster for most of the Summer, drying out the walls and, frankly, being overtaken by more urgent outside work.

Now, anyone who has done any decorating knows that the phrase "hall, stairs and landing" strikes terror in any decorator's heart.  Firstly, there is the vast expanse of wall to cover, not least the bit from the bottom of the stairs to the ceiling upstairs - needs a ladder and plank setup to reach - and also, even more time-consuming, the large number of doors and other woodwork that will need painting.  In our case, this is five doors, a loft hatch and hundreds of feet* of skirting, architrave and door frame.  All this is slightly harder this time round because we are moving back from eggshell to old-fashioned, but infinitely tougher and better looking undercoat and gloss, which is, as any self-respecting decorator will know, rather trickier to apply.

As part of our return to gloss, I have invested in tack cloths, sometimes called tack rags and other similar names, which are impregnated with something that is sticky but does not leave a residue, used for the final wipe of the undercoated and sanded surface prior to the final gloss application.  This is definitely filed under "anal retentive" but does ensure a much smoother finish, as I can testify by the window sills I did in our bedroom a couple of weeks ago.  They simply remove that final layer of fine dust that other methods leave behind, and they seem to work very well.  If you are still reading, that suggests you are mildly interested, in which case, I would definitely recommend them, if you can be bothered.

Have a great weekend, and speak next week.

* I may be exaggerating slightly, but believe me when I say, there is a lot

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Some things have happened, some things have not

Things that have happened:
  • Had a ping from Golfy, which is always a pleasure, which proves that he is alive, and his sense of humour is a bad good as always
  • At last, we reach the day of voting on the Scottish Referendum, which means that we must, surely we must, be at the start of the end of the continuous rounds of news items on the subject.  I noted Golfy's comments*, which made me smile
  • A colleague, let's call him Mike, pinged me a week ago to say, in confidence, that he was leaving Starfleet, only to ping me yesterday to say that his manager had made him an offer he could not refuse.  My view is usually that no offer of matching salary will keep pace with the likely salary growth in a new organisation, mainly because in that new org you are at the start of things, whereas in your current org you are nearer the top of things.  So, as a rule, a salary match would not tempt me, however for Mike, he was not that unhappy with Starfleet, so he has achieved his goal of more money
  • I have worked pretty hard, for me, and it is both envigorating and exhausting since it is large problem-solving stuff, which I like, but intense, which I sometimes don't
  • I managed to install a new aerial cable for the back room.  You may recall that during my "grinding out the cracks" phase of exterior renovation, I was rather gung ho and cut through said cable, and while I fixed it with a cable box filled with sealant, the signal strength we definitely down, and on the lesser channels, reception was pretty bad
  • The front gate is back in place, finally painted with the right shade of grey, and ready now for handles to be put back on.

Things that have not worked:
  • still nothing from potential new manager on an interview.  I am not pushing it now, since I would really like to get the other side of the appraisal decision before I make any noises to my manager about moving on, since the standard approach to such news is to lump a poor rating on the person leaving, coz they no longer need to be molly-coddled with good ratings, in lieu of anything tangible like, oh I don't know, a pay rise, recognition or a bonus.
So if I follow the Winston Churchill "pros and cons" measurement process, this week has been a pretty good week.

* Golfy has always been a man with an opinion

Friday, 12 September 2014

And . . . relax

I doubt you really care about the title, but nevertheless, I wanted to draw your attention to the fact that I have been experimenting a bit with different Friday titles.  It was worth a try, but I have decided to return to the original classic title, as demonstrated above.

So, "how was your week?", I hear you ask.



Played tennis on Wednesday, which was nice.

Work is, as I said at the start, busy.  I think my contribution is adding a little something to the overall net worth on Starfleet, but sometimes, being a wheel within a wheel within a wheel, it can be hard to tell.

Needless to say, we have an exciting weekend coming up.  I plan to replace the aerial cable to the back TV, which I accidentally cut through during my render crack grinding* work.  I did subsequently repair it with a cable-joining block thingy, but it was not great; the TV received the main channels OK, but was somewhat patchy on some of the lesser (and I can only assume weaker-signalled) channels. 

I also plan to give a second coat of exterior paint to the worst leaking wall, the hall, stairs and landing exterior wall, just so that I have made it as waterproof as it is going to get.  This will then complete all the exterior painting.  I just need to finish glossing the gate, get it back in its rightful, and then the exterior - until we can afford to do the drive and side path, hopefully next year - is done.

LO wants to, apparently, install some kind of ball on a stem sort of architectural plant type thing by the doorway, and also wants to leave what was the small garden strip bare for now, to maybe receive some other architectural plant type thingies next Spring, if we fancy it.

The we are going over to David and Samantha's for an afternoon and evening of drinking, eating and talking, which will be nice.

Finally, on pain of death from LO, we are going in to the country on Sunday afternoon, for fresh air, exercise, and some free entertainment.

This weekend is Goodwood Revival, a wonderful day for those attending, a right royal pain in the ass for those trying to navigate round the local environs.

Anyhow, have a great weekend, speak next week.

* which probably should be a musical sub-genre, but isn't

Friday, 5 September 2014


I am trying an experiment at work.  The climate is, it is fair to say, fairly down at the moment.  I speak to someone every day who is either considering or actively looking for jobs outside Starfleet.  I don't think that they have necessarily fully thought it through, but it is enough that they are considering it and so provide a sense of their state of mind.

This means that, if two or more people are gathered together, once they have worked through the Parrot Sketch*, they then move on to talking about all the bad things about Starfleet.

So, it is against this backdrop that, on my return from Tuscany, I decided to try an experiment.  It is an NLP-type thing, and something that was discussed on my favourite learning cassette**, and it is very simple. 

Whenever anyone asks how I am, I answer "terrific".  This has, to date, had two interesting effects:
  1. There is a pause when the person asking thinks "this guy is slightly unhinged"
  2. From that point on, they then themselves tend to be more upbeat, to the point that the parrot lives, and Starfleet does not get a kicking.

It is early days, but an Indian colleague was rather taken by the idea, and I suspect he is now similarly baffling colleagues.

The Maggots are both back to school today, and it is a bit of a shock.  Looking back, we have had a fantastic Summer, which is nice to have experienced, but makes getting used to real life all the more difficult.

Anyhow, tide and time waits for no man, so onwards and upwards.  This weekend we are out Saturday night, for a couple of hours, with A&E at a mutual friend's house, then back to ours to end the evening. 

In the daytime, I will be doing DIY, finishing off the outside painting.

Have a great weekend, and speak next week.

* an old joke, that ages me, and that is most likely not really true any more
** and the word "cassette" immediately ages this learning device

Friday, 22 August 2014

And . . . relax

Nothing very revolutionary to report.

I pinged the person who could be my next boss if I ever get an interview, with a note along the lines of "don't you like me, or are you slow?", and it seems it is the latter more than the former, so here I sit, waiting . . .

Otherwise, work is slightly repetitive, as is often the case after returning from holiday.  This is caused by a combination of:
  • work being nowhere near as fun as being on holiday
  • whilst one can seek the assistance of a colleague-shaped chap to cover your tasks, the reality is that unless those tasks could be completed by a teenager with a short attention span, the chances are they will remain incomplete, and are therefore waiting for you on your return
  • over the four to six-week period, all your team will likely have some time off, so headcount is reduced, but the work keeps rolling in, so you tend to get a backlog of stuff
  • your wider organisation, and indeed your client, are similarly elsewhere over the period, meaning that you are unable to speak to them to move activities forward even if you are working.
All this adds up to something stinky, a problem that often takes halfway to Christmas to clear.

On the home front, I have nearly finished the painting, just one half of the decorative corners to finish, inside part of the porch, the one wall of my study where the sand was, until half an hour ago, and the bastard wall along the alley between us and next door.  Sounds like a lot still to do now I have written it down.

This weekend, we are just doing house stuff, so I will be painting for England, quite possibly aided by the Maggots, who love a bit of painting, and are even pretty good now with a roller.  They are able to avoid the two no-nos of roller painting, namely going too fast and getting paint drops everywhere (and I mean everywhere, LO's car still has the odd dot from the last round of painting two years ago), and missing bits coz they are not organised.  I run my painting crew like a well oiled engine, and you have to shape up or ship out.  We like to make it fun on the good ship Scobi.

Have a great weekend, and speak next week.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Wedding Anniversary

It was fourteen years ago that LO and I finally got married, after nine years of stepping out (we are not ones to hurry a decision).  That is twenty-three years of togetherness, and I just wanted to say to LO "thanks for all the good times".

I also note that Gorse Fox was also made an honest man on this day, albeit one or two years earlier than us.  What are the chances of that?*.

* Presumably just over 1 in 365.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Tuscan Time

I am still obviously running on Tuscan time, having missed my usual Friday blog.

Needless to say, the work week was pretty steady, being the usual mix of me not really running at 100% (indeed, still on Tuscan time) and there being two weeks' backlog of issues for me to get hold of, and in a few instance immediately let go again, the passage of time having sorted them without my involvement.  On the flip side, there are others that needed a second hand to grip them because they were larger than first thought.

On the home front, this was a weekend we planned in over two months ago, to be spent on house stuff.  And boy oh boy, did I spend it on the house.

As I may or may not have already mentioned, we had the patio laid whilst we were away, in the half return between our kitchen extension and the boundary, which looks, I have to say, absolutely fantastic.  It is Indian sandstone, if you are interested, multi-coloured in subdued greys, plums and beiges, which on paper does not sound to appetising, but on the floor looks fantastic, a more muted  sandstone version of the slate we have in the extension and out on to the step beyond the tri-folds.

As you may or may not remember, we are not great gardeners, as reflected in our garden which looks like a cross between and end of season municipal football pitch, and a storage yard for a junk shop.  However, having now had the patio done has inspired us, and we plan to get the garden broadly sorted* this year, so that the start of next we can work on planting and getting the grass to at least passable, so we can enjoy the whole season.

The first step in our progression is actually the front garden, where I have removed the two spiky bushes in anticipation of re-planing with something structural, the exact nature of which is still on the drawing board.

I have also repainted the house.  To be precise, I have started, and am nearly finished bar the big wall down the pathway between us and our neighbour - the so called bastard wall, that includes the chimney - and one wall on the drive against which is currently the surplus sand from the patio work, for which we now desperately want Rob, the patio builder, to return to clear it away.

We have gone for light grey.  We had originally been inspired by LO's old boss round the corner, who had hers done in a lovely mid to dark grey colour.  That inspired us, but it also inspired the new people just over the road, who also went for the mid to dark grey, perhaps a slightly different shade than LO's boss, but near enough.  This gave us a small dilemma that we did not want to be seen as copying, but an unexpected event cleared that away.  Just after it had been painted, I was over giving it a good look over, being totally nosy, when the new owner came out the side gate.  We got chatting, he being the golf pro at Rustington golf course, and he showed me round the back to the garden (totally remodeled) and the lovely two storey extension, complete with tri-folds.

Anyway, in the end, we went light grey only because our house is so large, and the drive wall and beyond such a large expanse of wall, visible from the road, that we feared that a mid to dark grey may well end up making the house look like a battleship.  So, light grey it is, and I have to say I really like it.  Whilst the house if over a hundred years old, the extension is simple and modern, and the grey really ties the two parts together, creating a cool and sophisticated colour, offset by the white detailing for the front corner pieces and pillar caps on the wall.  At least that is probably what the estate agents will write.

* Sorted meaning having had all the rubbish removed, and the grass somewhat resembling something flatish and greenish.  Indeed, I have already had a load of old timber taken away by two** Freecyclers.

** This comment is becoming a bit of a nested loop, but I feel I should explain that there were two due to a cock-up on my part.  I contacted the first person who responded (who passed my "would I like this person to have my stuff" test) and asked them to ring me Thursday, since I was a bit busy first three days.  In the meantime, somewhat miffed that said person had not responded, I offered it to the next responder who passed the test (see above), who accepted.  Then on Thursday, the day of collection by the second person, the first person rang, and he was rather put out that I had given it away when I asked him not to ring until Thursday.  Solution?  Offered them half each, which eased my conscience, and actually both needed about as much they got, so it all worked out fine, though more by luck than judgement.  The second person, a decent chap who is a gardener, turned up with a bid flat bed van and his wife, and who wanted the wood for a path in his house, even gave me a bottle of red wine, not expected or needed in the Freecycle tradition, but received with pleasure, and which I sampled last night, and can report is not perfect, but drinkable.

Monday, 11 August 2014

Told you I'd be back

I'm back.

We had a most fantastic two weeks, and our accommodation was as near to heaven as I want to get for a while.

I will blog in much more detail once I am fully back in the saddle, but the above picture gives is the view from our garden.  In the foreground is our host's plot with all the expected crops - olive, tomato, egg plant etc - plus an unusual one in sunflowers, with the oil being something they use a lot in cooking, the proper pure stuff being well regarded in these parts.  Beyond we look across the valley to other similar small-holdings and small villages (all with some kind of tower).  Delightful.

There is so much to tell, of scorpions, places, experiences and the delightful generosity of our hosts, as well as the really narrow approach roads, the windy hill-climbing larger roads, and the E.Leclerc, our second home.

More to come when I have a moment.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Two days to go

Only two days to go, and I am in full-on closing down loose threads mode, which is nice in as much as having less loose threads is good, but it is also stressful in that it means juggling an awful lot of balls, including a bunch of other people's balls who have already gone off on holiday.  There are balls everywhere.

In addition, what I DON'T finish will end up being loose threads for my deputy to clear up, and that is not a nice present to give anyone, least of all your deputy.

Tonight we do a review of packing and pack the top box, and tomorrow we finish off, then the following morning at around 8am, we will be off to the tunnel.  Can't wait.

Friday, 18 July 2014

And . . . get busy

I have the afternoon off to do render grinding.  Scaffold tower arrived at 8am, and erected by 9.30am, with Scobi senior arriving to help finish it off at 9am.

So far, we have done the drive bit of wall, and have just re-erected the tower round the side by Maggot 2's window.

All is going well, and on time to maybe rent for only 1 day, but time will tell.  We may take some time to also paint the woodwork around the top, just depends, since that is 2nd priority over the cracks, but once the grinding out is done, I am more relaxed about doing stuff off ladders if needed.

Anyhow, got a party Saturday and cricket match for Maggot 1 Sunday, and then basically packing completely, or as completely as we can 5 days before, for the big trip to Italy. 

I cannot wait.  The anticipation is almost unbearable.

Anyhow, have a great weekend, and speak next week.

Thursday, 17 July 2014


We had a great time at David and Samatha's triple birthday bash, with lots of drinking and eating and talking, and latterly even a little bit of dancing.

This week is a utility week, the purpose of which is to get to Friday, when I have a half day off to receive a scaffold tower and to do the cracks in our render, finally.  Scobi Senior will be over to help in the morning, and I will hopefully be able to help erect the said scaffolding tower in between calls, before we put in a good stint of grinding out and re-rendering every single crack on the wall by our driveway, followed by a likely dismantle and remantle (it is too wide to get through our back gate) to then do the cracks outside Maggot 2's window.

We hope to paint all the woodwork at the top too, if we get time.

We are at a party on Saturday night, again, and on Sunday, Maggot 1 has a cricket match over in Worthing, and we will then be packing the car, ideally to almost "ready to go" status, in expectation of a busy final 4 days before we depart.

Friday, 11 July 2014

And . . . relax

Bit busy, have appraisal mid-year results to get in by today, and had a week of being pulled in to urgent stuff, so really needing to be putting in the hours.

Also applying for an internal role, Cloud based, of course, and in a slightly different direction to the Cloud role I had originally envisaged, but nevertheless an interesting role, done by a couple of my chums and one I am now actively pursuing.  The difference with this role is they are desperate to fill them, so I am hoping things will move quickly.

This weekend, we are at Brad and Angelina's David and Samantha's* for a party jointly celebrating the birthday for three of the clan.

Have a great weekend, speak next week.

* Doh!  We were SEEING Brad and Angelina, but were definitely AT David and Samantha's.

Friday, 4 July 2014

And . . . relax

We have a most fantastic weekend.  The weather had been forecast for wet, but in fact apart from a couple of inconsequential down-pours, it was sunny.

In fact, we all got sunburnt on the Saturday.

We have a BBQ on the beach Friday night, much to the delight of the Maggots (8 of them in total), and we went swimming, with wetsuits of course, being proud and soft and Southern, for a good couple of hours Saturday.  Half the group went up the hill before breakfast for their daily exercise, whilst yours truly took the opportunity to sit*.  In short, everyone did what they wanted to do, and nothing more.

The only slight blip was that Saturday night, we had one of the wardens come over to say that someone had rang their emergency line, complaining about our Maggots playing football and rounders on the grass by our pitch.  Sour pusses.  To me, if kids having fun outside is not the essence of camping, then I don't know what is.

David and Samantha had to leave Saturday at 9pm due to David getting his dates mixed up, having to go to the Festival of Speed on the Sunday.  This made his Maggots sad, but in the round, it was not too obtrusive.

This weekend we are away at an Engagement Party, between LO's cousin and his soon-to-be fiance, and it is going to be a traditional Ghanan affair, so really not sure what to expect.  We are staying away for the night, which our Maggots love, and may venture in to the Capital on the Sunday, what with the England football team and Andy Murray out of their respective competitions. 

The only slight cloud is that LO may be coming down with something.  We should know more tonight as to her state of health.

have a great weekend, speak next week.

* and not even to think

Friday, 27 June 2014

Longer, and shorter

My weekday is shorter, by half a day, so my weekend is longer, by half a day.  May not seem much to some folks, but makes a hell of a difference to me.

This means, of course, a lot of loose thread tying, and focused activity to ensure that there are no nasties lurking for me in my Inbox on Monday morning.

So why am I writing this bog.

Good question.

No good answer, except I like to think about the weekend ahead, and putting it in to writing seems to work for me.

We are away in Lyme Regis this weekend, with a big group.  We are in our 'van, as are A&E, with Brad and Angelina and David and Samantha in static vans up the hill.

Our pitch is overlooking the beach, and it is a pretty nice view.  There is something about water, whether sea, stream, lake or puddle, that is very soothing, so we are very much looking forward to it.  The only fly in the ointment, or cloud in the sky, is the weather forecast which seems to be painting a rather moist outlook.  Oh well, stiff upper lip, raincoat and boots, and off we go.

Have a great weekend, and speak next week.

Monday, 23 June 2014

That was the Weekend that Was

We had a good weekend, but not entirely one we had planned.  Maggot 1 awoke with a "dodgy tum tum" and by lunchtime it had materialised in to full hot and cold moments.  We therefore had to revert to a reluctant Plan B, which was me and Maggot 2 going up alone to Newbury, and returning at 10pm, which we duly did.  It was sad we were not all present to celebrate Brad's birthday, but we made the best of it and we did have a good time.

We do have a chance to make up for the last weekend next weekend, where we are off to Golden Cap, near Lyme Regis.  The plan is for BBQs on the beach, wetsuit swimming and other outdoor activities.  The real issue right now is the forecast is not looking so good.  I am hoping that the forecast will slowly change in our favour, which is has done many times before.  To be honest, it has also got worse as we have got nearer to the time, so we will just have to wait and see.

Friday, 20 June 2014

And . . . relax

It seems inevitable that most of the English components of our nation will be down-faced and depressed after our national football team seemed to go out, not with a bang, but with a whimper.  Every time any team starts a competitive event, they are putting themselves in the ring, and so will risk either victory or defeat, or perhaps a draw.  That is the nature of competition.  The fact that our lads seem to always pick tails - defeat - is rather disquieting.  History tells us that that is how it is.  If we had gone further, it would have been penalties, and that is like trying to toss five heads in a row.  Not impossible, for Germans, but for the English, the deviation from impossible is statistically insignificant*.

Anyway, there is also some real news going on in the world, not least the unsettling activities in Iraq.  Never has "your enemies enemy is your friend" been more true than now, as we enter "meaningful discussions" with Iran.  Indeed, commentators are saying that the solution lies with Iran and maybe Syria, since having a noisy neighbour like Isis is not in their interests any more than it is in the interests of Iraq generally, so this may be one campaign we can no bid.  I hope so actually, since it is hard to really follow the thread of truth though all that has happened in the last decade, to really work out whether the war was worth it or not.  That means a lot of lives were lost, and no-one can categorically prove that they were lives worth losing for the greater good.  That fence-sitting position is a considered one, in that I have heard partially viable arguments both for and against, and I fear that opinions are so entrenched, and so diametrically opposed, that it really is very hard to know what the "true truth"** is in amongst all the strong views.

Anyway, lightening the tone a bit, we are off to Brad and Angelina's this weekend, to celebrate Brad's birthday, who is seventeen or something***.  Should be a good weekend.

I hope your weekend is also good.  Speak next week.

* I am of course borrowing from that Lottery truth that the difference in the probability of winning the Lottery between if you buy a ticket or you do not is statistically insignificant.
** as opposed to the "my truth" which drives most of what we do and don't believe as individuals
*** Just sour grapes, being the oldest in the group by a few years.

Friday, 13 June 2014

And . . . relax

Rather excellent training day yesterday, more Cloud, adding to my net knowledge and my network.

It is still hot down South, as with may parts of the UK, and working at home means minimal clothing, enough to not shock the postie when he knocks the door, but little enough so I am not over-heating.

This weekend is going to be a game of two halves.  Usual stuff, maybe a big bike ride Saturday afternoon down to the marina, then maybe a bit of a nap early/mid evening so that I can be awake at 11pm.  I am really really keen to watch the match live.  I could record and watch the next morning, but that would not really be the same for me, so here's hoping I can break a habit of a lifetime and actually be awake after 11pm.

I have been out the house more than usual this week, as has LO, so we also need just a bit of time in our own space, diddling and getting familiar again with the place.

I hope your weekend is both hot and cool in equal measure. 


Wednesday, 11 June 2014


Lot's of stuff on the go at the moment.

Always at the back of my mind is the crack repair program.  I have now done all that can be done without a scaffold tower, so now I need to identify a spare weekend, and look to hire one, and blitz all the stuff to be done over the two days of hire.  The only bit I really really need it for is the grinding out, since I did not want to be doing that at the top of a ladder - one slip and I could lose a limb.  Everything else is possible from a ladder, just easier on a scaffold.

Also in the home mix is that Maggot 1 has started to play for a cricket team.  This involves Sunday mornings and plenty of hours sitting in the (hopefully) sun, and while we are keen to encourage both Maggots in any and every pursuit they would like to try, it does take some hours out of your day.  Nevertheless, I plan to dive in wholeheartedly and enjoy the experience.  Truth be told, they only have about half a dozen matches a year and do not really expect an individual to play in every one, family commitments and all, so it is not as if the rest of my life will be spent in a portable chair in a field somewhere.  To be fair, this first match was in Priory Park at Scobiville, and a nicer location you could not find for experiencing the thwack of willow on leather*.

At work, I am really busy again, and still trying to pursue all things Cloud shaped.  I have a day's training tomorrow, am revising to take a Cloud certification exam, and am still waiting for my new role to materialise.  I pinged my potential new boss on Friday and the answer was "not been able to give it any thought, will be doing so soon", so really a cheque's in the post kind of answer.

* I think that is what they call it

Thursday, 5 June 2014


It is hot chez Scobi.  Very hot.  To be clear, my home office is hot, the outside a bit less so.  I could open the window, but the bins are being collected so there is too much noise whilst I am on my 9am conference call.  This means that I am glowing a bit.  I think men glow, or is it horses, can never remember.
Call is nearly over, and can't wait until they all stop blathering so I can get the window open. 

It's open, I am happy, time for tea.

Tuesday, 3 June 2014


Bloody hell but I am busy.  Sorry for cussing, not seemly for a chap to swear in public, and even at the bridge club, where things can get pretty hairy, such bad manners is frowned upon.

A week off and everything has piled up, which combined with a super urgent project means that I have more than enough to keep me busy, and I say "more" advisedly; I really cannot cope with the volume just now.

This is 50% coz I am actually busy, and 50% coz I am still half in holiday mode, which for me means slow . . . if I am not able to find a place to stop.  I guess in a week it will all be back to normal, but who wants normal?

Monday, 2 June 2014

Gone in a blink

We had a lovely week off, but, as the title suggests, it was over in a blink.

Yorkshire is lovely.  The people are also, from our experience, pretty nice and friendly too, none of the expected stereotypical bluntness.

We saw some sights, and I caught some fish.  In fact, so did Maggot 1 and A&E's Maggot 2.

The accommodation was good, and the site very quiet and well equipped.  By the end of the year, mind, it will be more than double the size and we suspect the peace will be less and the business in the service areas much more.  Ah, progress, good for some, not for others.

All in all, a great week off.

P.S. Sorry Gorse Fox, forgot to respond to your kind comment on a local iPhone repairer.  I sent it away to a company who turned it round in a day, so problem solved, but thanks very much for offering the info.

Friday, 23 May 2014

Things are picking up

Workwise, that is.  I am getting busy and actually, I rather like it.

As this is my last day before a week off, I am in close-down mode.  That means as many small loose threads as possible being closed, and any larger pieces that will overrun being put in good shape for some kind of handover.  Standard process, you need to appear to the outside world like the cover and handover is seamless, but those of us on the inside know that in truth there is always issues in any handover, and no-one can really fully pickup another person's work.  Having said that, we will try.

I am really looking forward to the week away.  I will get some fishing in - always a pleasure - and we will of course spend some time together as a family, and will be visiting some interesting places.

I am on a conference call just now with some, let's call him Steve, and it turns out that Steve and his wife are taking their newish caravan and their very new Q5 to a site just north of York.  It seems almost inevitable that we will bump in to each other at some stage.

We had some problem with LO's car in the week, when a load of hair started hanging out of the exhaust.  At first we thought it was a covert Barbie mission gone wrong, but it turns out to be the damping material, horse hair often, for the exhaust silencer.  It is now at the garage, and bits have failed, and the garage is putting it right, for a price that is not too bad considering the age of the old girl, and the fact that the exhaust has been sounding a bit throaty for a while.
This means that LO has my car, which means all the carefully crafted plans for me to get the top box fitted and the car partially packed have gone south, meaning that this evening will be exceedingly busy.

Yesterday afternoon, there was some extreme weather, and at one point there was an almighty lightening crack, so load and intense I thought one of our ceiling lights had spectacularly exploded. It turns out, when I did the school run, that it hit a local house, about 200m from my home office.  Not a great picture, but you can see where it hit the chimney, which presumably had a TV aerial attached until don't-know-how-many-thousands-of-volts decided to use it to get to earth.  I imagine that the occupants of the house, if they were present, had a much bigger shock than I did. This house is across the green from Maggot 2's school, and it was the talk of the school most of the afternoon apparently.

Other than that, all is good.  Have a great weekend, and speak in a week or two (depending on whether I am able and willing to blog remotely).

Tuesday, 20 May 2014


I broke the screen on my iPhone yesterday.  Damned nuisance.  Having Googled how to fit them, and then where to buy replacements, I was put off by the fact that for every item on eBay, there was a "this is not a genuine screen, do not trade with this seller" type comments, so I opted for a service that does it for me, with genuine parts (so they say) and a guarantee for half a year or so.  Being a trusting soul, I sent it yesterday and should get it back Wed/Thurs.

So, I am without a phone, which is proving most disagreeable, but very quiet.  Luckily I can access my mobile voicemail from my work laptop, and have been able to change it to not accepting messages.  Better to turn away the relative who wants to give me $5m than get loads of urgent messages from people who do not know I cannot hear them.

Friday, 16 May 2014

There seems to be something on the horizon...

... and I think it is the weekend.

I wish I had a bit more to tell you, but things are work are steady, although there was a note advertising some new Cloud roles in which I have, obviously, expressed an interest.  This achieves two things:
  • It gives my management an indication that maybe I want something else
  • it spreads my options on the next move.
Without casting aspersion..., ah, dammit but I have to cast a few to give the message.  Our management is not great.  I believe they are very busy, fair enough, but they are also not the right people to be in their role, in my opinion, and this manifests itself by everything seeming to go off half-cock.  This time, they send a note, but have no information on the roles.  Nice.  So I have currently expressed an general interest in something of which I know nothing.

This weekend, with the weather looking pretty good, I shall be doing some DIY and so DIN*, and we are planning a day out Sunday, to where we know not, but somewhere outside and fun.

I hope you all have a great weekend, speak next week.

* do-in' nuthin

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Mid week, who'd have thought it - A correction

I would like to issue a small correction to my previous blog, since a casual reader may be getting my maggots mixed up.

Please note that maggots with a capital "M" are my offspring, and maggots with a small "m" are the little white (or pink or red) things that wriggle around and are loved by nearly every fish.  Both wriggle, both can turn a bit grotty if constrained in too small a space, so the main difference is the size of hook needed for each type.

Also, in response to The Gorse Fox's comment on passports being required for York, all I can say is now now, let's not believe everything that UKIP are telling us about them Yorkshire folk, coming down here, tekking our jobs.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Mid week, who'd have thought it

We are off to Yorkshire in ten days time, and need to start planning the packing of items.  This trip is sans 'van, staying in a static 'van, but we want to take our topper foam, which is bulky, so I have invested in roof bars for the X1, very nice quality at a reasonable price, so we can take the top box.

There is also a fishing lake at the site so my preparation also includes rod licence and various baits.  It is mainly carp, tench and perch, so while the Maggots may enjoy the easy sport of perch on worm, I am after the carp and tench, so have hemp seed, soft pellets, luncheon meat, bread and sweetcorn (also got a bit of strawberry flavouring with which to experiment), and am also contemplating a few maggots just in case.  I am on strict time-limit instructions, so will be doing early mornings, which suits me, and the fish, just fine.

Friday, 9 May 2014

Absence makes the heart grow fonder

Oh how I have missed Friday.

This Friday finds me with not a lot of interesting stuff to report, so I am going to have to revert to the boring stuff.

This weekend I would like to start repairing my render cracks.  This may be scuppered by a couple of events:

  1. The weather does not look great.  It is dry in the day, but wet early and from the evening Saturday, and most of Sunday.  I will read up on the dos and don'ts, but fear that render, even fast-drying render, may need more than 5 hours to cure.
  2. On Sunday, there is a street party in our road (if that is not mixing up our concourses).  This is for many a source of sharing joy.  It is fair to say that the Scobi household is made of sterner, and dare I say it bah-humbuggy, stuff.  This is not our idea of fun, but what to do.  Our cars will be blocked on the drive until 10pm, unless we move it, in which case we are all but ostracised from our own house by our meanness.  What a dilemma.  
Other than that, nothing out of the ordinary is likely to happen, so I wish you a fun-filled and exciting weekend, and speak next week.

Friday, 2 May 2014

Friday is a wonderful day to have in the calendar

Phew.  What a week.

Not really, all much the same as last week.  Some stuff was done, some issues resolved, some more problems arrived.  Work is not that busy, and so home has been taking some of my time.  I am planning the repairs to the exterior render, with the help of Uncle Google, and I think I have it fairly clear in my mind.

I have also been making inquiries on the t'internet with some companies that offer the "never paint again" type services that can repair render and paint it with a flexible, water-permeable but waterproof (never worked that one out, but everyone says it so it must be true) and made of a substance that never needs painting again.  I have just come off the phone from the MD of one such company, following up on my submitted inquiry.  He said that he used the treatment on his own business premises, and it is still looking good after 28 years.  It is just the cost that needs some consideration.

We are off the Stonehenge this weekend in the 'van with A&E.  The weather is looking good, at least not wet, and the site seems to be of the natural variety, allowing open fires, and being self-confessed VW lovers.  Hmmm.

Have a great weekend, and speak next week.

Friday, 25 April 2014

Well bless my cotton socks, it's Friday

Only a four day week, so however it was experienced, it really was one day shorter than a normal week.  And for that, I salute it. 

To be honest, it was a fairly steady week for me.  We have been requested to complete an insanely large amount of training by the end of this month, so I did take the opportunity to catch up on some of it.  I have been chipping away at the courses, and am four courses from the end, so not too far to go.

No news on my potential new job.  A colleague/friend, who is in a similar role to me but a contractor (a very rare breed in Starfleet at the moment, with a pretty comprehensive cull under way), contacted me the other day to say that his CV, which was sent to the prospective new boss on my potential new job (lot of variability in that statement), had been forwarded to another bit of the business requiring his skills, a combination of solutioning, Oracle and Cloud, and the colleague/friend has had an initial phone interview which seemed to go well.  He would be more than happy to go permanent if the deal were right, so here's hoping that something comes of that.  But not before something comes of my job lead.

This weekend, if the weather permits (and it currently says that 10-4 on Saturday may be dry, but otherwise the whole weekend is wet), I will be starting to prepare the garden for the upcoming work, and generally pottering around, taking the Maggots to their clubs, until late afternoon when we will be preparing for the visit of David and Samantha, minus the eldest Maggot who is on a Duke of Edinburgh's weekend*.  It is always a pleasure, and many promises to "not drink too much" will be made at 8pm, to be utterly ignored at 10pm.  Such fun.

I hope you have a great weekend, and speak next week.

* Don't fancy being in her shoes this weekend.