Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Going to work

For the past two weeks there has been a significant alteration in my working arrangements. Three days each week I travel in to the Nearest Circle of Hell and actually meet up with the people I am working with. 30% and TP think that this social contact is good for me ... I however am not so sure!

It is nice to bump in to friends and I frequently link up with Grandad Jack for lunch and extended coffee breaks but it is starting to hit my pocket. So far I am down £4, as Jack has yet to cough up for the eggs he had last week and today I Robot ponced a quid off me, as he was short of car parking fees. At this rate I'll be skint by the end of the week and I'm not certain that being co-located actually creates working synergies as, from my perspective, I got fuck all done today. Working from home is far more efficient  for me as it means that spare moments can be spent on domestic duties rather than chatting or being politely mugged by frolleagues who "seem to be short of cash".

Then there is the daily commute, This as far from the best use of my time and there is also the cost of fuel and the impact on the planet. Today I attempted to address both the time and cost of travel by taking the Honda in to work. It is probably best to overlook the additional time it took to get my helmet and jacket on, extract the bike from the garage, get the engine warmed up and have a one-sided row* with 30% about where I had left her two cars and my Land Rover ...

... as I was saying, if we overlook the time required for these additional activities it most definitely shortens the journey time as the Defender is never going to be any good filtering through heavy traffic or hitting 100 mph on the few stretches of dual carriage way.  I think it fair to say that the only way the journey could be improved was if I didn't have to carry the bloody laptop with me.

Work was the usual series of formal and impromptu discussions. New activities were initiated and others, that should now be completed, stubbornly refuse to progress ... for the past few days I have been trying to get a statement on the tooling being used in our current project. I am making very slow progress and today I tried to get the Subject Matter Expert to provide guidance. This involved "door stepping" someone, who looked like they had just walked in to their first proper job, in an attempt to get five minutes of their time. The little git refused to assist even though this is most definitely part of his role to support.

I am slowly developing a list of wankers I never want to work with again on this new job.

As five o'clock approached I reviewed today's achievements and was disappointed by the brevity of this virtual list. It then dawned on me that I am not in charge so I mentally shrugged, grabbed my lid and jacket and headed off to play with the traffic.

The evening wasn't really very productive but I spent some time cutting more dental moulding and ordered some wood stain as I am going to have to attempt some colour mixing to achieve a match with the original polished moulding.
* She was rowing. I refused to partake.

Monday, 29 April 2013

I wish more of my Mondays were like this

The current assignment is a little unusual for me in that I am not leading the team. I have been asked to "help out" and, although I was temporarily "in charge" last week, today I am back to providing a supporting role and doing my best to find useful things to do. I am amazed at how little stress is involved in this particular job. I grub around, looking under rocks and rotten logs, and pass beautifully prepared morsels back to the Leader to see whether they are acceptable or not ...

... the thing is, I have passed plenty of sweetmeats across to him but am not getting any feedback. I appreciate that he is busy but if he took some time out to delegate some aspects of the project across to me he might find it yielded a significant reduction in his workload. This delegation isn't happening so I am having a relatively easy time at the moment and it is so nice to not have to start work before nine and to knock off around five.

There is not a lot more I can say of any interest; spreadsheets got filled, e-mails got sent and calls got attended. A walk with T&M broke up the day and eventually the clock chimed five o'clock.*

My to do list has been considerably shortened over the past few weeks and after spending ten minutes repositioning the Box Frame on the Landing** I was wondering what to do ...

... I ended up out in the garage where I made a start on the light restoration of the Mahogany Corner Cupboard we bought back in February. The cupboard has a crown moulding that has a dental moulding directly underneath it. Over the years a section of the dental moulding has come away and a few pieces have broken off giving it a gap toothed appearance. I had acquired a couple of strips of mahogany and spent a happy hour replicating sections of the dental moulding. The next task will be to stain them an appropriate colour and get them glued back in place.

It all seems so easy when I type this in to The Journal.
* So it was probably about four minutes past.
** the original hanging looked dreadful but simply dropping it eight inches and moving it across a couple of inches too made all the difference.

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Madness, Motors & Mates

One day last week I took lunch with Grandad Jack. This is always a humorous affair and one of that day's stories concerned the current Mrs H.  Apparently Mrs H has it in her head that wireless computer networking causes cancer and, as a result, Jack has to hard wire his laptop in to his home broadband socket. He has tried to explain that his house is liberally permeated with all manner of electromagnetic waves from television and radio through to mobile telephone and next door's wireless network but to no avail. Mrs H will not budge from her opinion and an RJ45 LAN cable will forever be seen nestling in Jack's laptop bag ...

... Now why would I mention this? We all laughed at this tale of an unfounded but strongly held view and Jack's grudging compliance. I am also guessing that the diners were thinking "I'm glad my significant other doesn't display that level of irrationality". I was too until today when 30% came bloody close.

This morning we were off to the final match of the Rugby season at a ground that turned out to be just down the road from the Warwick Arts Centre in Coventry. Before we left 30% informed me that she had turned off the dehumidifier as she didn't want to leave it on while we were out of the house. I pondered this for a moment and then asked if she was aware that the unit was designed such that, if required, it could be left permanently running in, for example, a holiday cottage or caravan. 30% acknowledged this new and pertinent fact but her opinion wavered not. She pointed out that it was a heater and she didn't want to leave it running for fear of fire. I pointed out that it was actually more like a refrigeration unit than a heater but it was still not allowed to run unattended.

I really could not be bothered to debate this monument of irrationality and we headed off to the rugby game after turning off the dehumidifier. The refrigerator, fridge freezer and two upright freezers on the property were, however, all allowed remain on while we were out!

The last match went well. I didn't think it was brilliant but TP's team came away with a 17:5 victory which was a great way to end one of their best seasons so far. It also means that we now get our Sunday mornings back after six months of working around training and match fixtures.

A late lunch was promptly followed by a walk around the Three Miler with T&M as we were expecting visitors in the afternoon. 30% had arranged for an old frolleague of hers to pay us a call. She had semi lost touch but her new car has a couple of minor blemishes and, as he runs the local ChipsAway franchise, this seemed like an opportune situation to rekindle the friendship. To cut a long story very short; he turned up with his new fiancee and we ended up with an invitation to their wedding at the end of August.

It was also a case of fortuitous timing as 30%'s brother and the Elf turned up at the same time to show off their recently acquired 1970 VW Minivan. It was quite charming and will make a splendid camper van provided the availability of funds matches their plans and desires. The reason their visit was fortuitous was that 30%'s brother has had his car "keyed" and needs the services of an auto paint technician.*

 By the time the house had emptied it was time to light a fire and spend a quiet evening with only the only effort expended being the few steps in to the dining room for dinner.

Shit, it's work again tomorrow.
* The VW van does too but the words full body and respray are ones that will feature in any quotation for that work.

Saturday, 27 April 2013

On a Mission

I have been on a Mission today and have wreaked havoc amongst the many items on my to do list. Let me explain ...

... I woke at a reasonable hour and, after liberation of chickens, spent a lazy time drinking coffee and preparing for the day. This involved extricating the Honda from the garage as I have made a resolution to use both of the bikes as much as possible this Summer after last year's complete wash out. Now a motorcycle wouldn't be my normal choice of vehicle for a visit to a DIY store but I was fairly confident that it could transport me and a load comprising; a replacement ball valve and a few corner bracing brackets. It was great to be out on the bike as she made a mundane trip in to a fun ride and is a lot easier on my pocket than the Defender when it comes to fuel.

I arrived home just as 30% prepared to head out on whatever errands was she had planned for the morning* and decided to extend my ride a little further by grabbing a handful of cash and nipping down the road to pay PtP for his recent, and hopefully final, assistance with the leak issue.

Debts settled, I finally made a start on the first job of the day which was to replace the ball valve in the en suite wc. I am not a huge fan of plumbing tasks and, whilst I have had successes, I have also bitten off more that I can chew on a couple of occasions too, so am now very wary of jobs that start with the instruction turn off the mains supply. ** On this occasion the job went well and the cistern now refills without the foghorn sound that is indicative of a knackered ball valve.

I had just finished tidying and had gone on to put last week's guanciale cure to soak for an hour when there was a knock at the door. 30% had advertised my redundant mitre saw on a Freecycle web site and one of the local Redditch Vultures had descended for a choice piece of carrion. I passed the time of day with him and let him lug it off to his car cheerfully advising that the sawdust now coating his jumper was free. mind you the saw was too.

After a quick lunch the guanciale was dried, wrapped and hung from the hooks in the kitchen. I then took T&M out for a walk. For the first time in weeks I took a diversion from our normal route and headed over the fields. The dogs had a wonderful time especially around the rabbit warrens on the hill. After an hour out in the fields and lanes I needed something to fill the rest of my afternoon ...

... I am conscious that I have been wittering on about it for many weeks so I finally settled down and completed my box frame project. The spear heads were mounted and the components assembled and screwed together. It has been a bit of a project starting with a few sketches and ending up with a fine decorative feature.
From this ...
To this.

It is fair to say that the evening involved me doing nothing more complex than slouching on the sofa.
* I later found out that it was a supermarket trip and adjustment of the tracking on her car
** as they have a tendency to spiral down in to sprays of water, frustration, swearing, the need to call in a Professional, being patronised and ending up with a significant invoice!

Friday, 26 April 2013

Today's Miserable Sod was far better

Friday was spent attempting to cajole information from unwilling colleagues and insert it in to a spreadsheet. I was somewhat frustrated to repeatedly hear "I've never heard of that strategic tool", from people who like to use the words Subject, Matter and Expert when describing their roles, as I attempted to develop a declaration of the projects alignment with Dante's vision of the future ...

... In the end I was forced to significantly reduce my quality standard to a level where I was happy if I had managed to put correctly spelled words in a spreadsheet cell!

Eventually five o'clock was chimed by the clock* in the hall and I signed off. I was more than ready to start the weekend.

This evening we headed over to Warwick Arts Centre to see Rich Hall perform his stand up show and a fine time was had by all. I must admit that many of the stories, jokes and ad libbed songs were repeated from his previous run of shows but there was a smattering of new and updated material. Despite the lack of new jokes it was still hugely funny and Hall effortlessly delivered his set in his curmudgeonly yet likeable way. It was definitely an 8/10 gig and would have been much nearer the perfect 10 if he had a greater quantity of new material.
so it was probably about three minutes past five

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Miserable Sod

It was  another day at the nearest Circle of Hell keeping plates spinning. I will avoid boredom by not going in to detail save for two items of news. The first of these is that the Lead Solution Manager is now virtually back at work. I'm not sure whether I mean virtual as in working but not physically in the office or virtual as in almost or nearly working as he recovers from his chicken pox. After further thought I actually think I may have picked a word where both definitions are relevant in it's single use.

The other newsworthy item was that I was called in to a meeting and had my first real encounter with the Account Executive and what a miserable sod he turned out to be. Now I do not walk in to work and expect to be lauded or have rose petals strewn across my path as I walk amongst the cubicles but I am used to most people being friendly and generally pleased to be working together on a common goal ...

... Mr Grumpy was most definitely not one of these and simply started Alpha Male posturing and making barely veiled threats about how much grief he was going to give people if he slipped the delivery date and then ended up with price he didn't like. He also started hassling me about plans and delivery dates when, as I had clearly fucking explained, I had only been engaged at the back end of last week and had spent all of this week doing the work of a man who was off sick.

I did what I normally do with large men who like to throw their weight around and simply stood up to him and made sure that he understood the facts, whilst refusing to be intimidated by unnecessary demands ...

... it is not as though I needed any more friends at the moment anyway.

The working day eventually ended and I headed back to The Pile where I pottered for a while before dining and slouching on the sofa. The only domestic activity of any significance was the production of a new batch of cure as I have two pig's cheeks turning slowly in to guanciale in the cellar fridge.

Roll on five o'clock Friday.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

What's long and hard and very little comes out of the end of it ?

No, not an erect penis , as you might be thinking ... I was actually summarising my working day. Once again, I hauled my unlucky arse in to the Defender and headed over to the Nearest Circle of Hell to continue in my new, but temporary, role as Lord of the Chimps. This is the job where I know virtually nothing but have played the game before, As a result I appear to be exuding some sort of pheromone which makes the rest of the team think I know what I am doing.

I managed to avoid exposing my ignorance today and, after putting on my thoughtful face, spent four fucking hours in a solution review. I am guessing that my thoughtful face lasted about 30 minutes before it headed off under the table for a snooze and was replaced by my bored rigid, get me out of here face which, based on observations, seems to have much more staying power.

At the end of the review I had a better understanding of what the team were doing and had made a few suggestions about areas they might like to address.* I then had the joy of a ninety minute call attempting to clarify network requirements.

It is fair to say that the network call wiped out the last smidgeon of enthusiasm I had left in my body so I packed up the laptop and headed back towards The Pile.

By the time I got home I had regained some enthusiasm and today's mail had given me something to do ...

A couple of months ago, while working on TP's electric ukulele project, my router died. I must have had it for over twenty years and it simply, spluttered, sparked and refused to work. I borrowed BMS's router to finish the ukulele but, as I used it, I realised how accustomed I had got to my Old Bosch Router. The Bosch is only a low powered 400 watt motor but it is so well designed, compact and, for twenty years, has done everything I asked of it. I was quite sorry to see it go and and, since it's death, it has sat waiting to go to the Tip.

For some strange reason I got it in to my head that the router's brushes had failed. I don't know where the hell this notion came from, as I am not really one for meddling with mechanical devices, but the idea came and would not go away. In the end I lifted the router from the junk pile and disassembled it on the work bench. As I took it apart I noticed a Made In Switzerland label and this encouraged me to continue. I opened up the tool and it was assembled like the proverbial Swiss watch, everything was beautifully put together, from quality components and it was ridiculously simple to get to the brushes ...

Today the replacement brushes arrived, so I headed out to the garage and spent half an hour replacing them and giving the tool a minor service. I eventually plugged it in and hit the power switch. It now runs perfectly and has now been lovingly placed back in it's box to nestle alongside the router bits.

On the bike front; Tim from Moto-vation has responded to my chaser call and it looks like I will be taking the 996 over to Cheltenham at the beginning of May. The tax disk also arrived for the Honda so I can now legitimately take her out on the road again.

As the day ends I know that I have definitely fixed one thing, I'm not so sure about the project at work though.
* One of these areas is the Mid-Range Chap's fashion sense, as his T Shirt looks like his Mum bought it for him.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Another day in a real office

After two days on the job I have suddenly acquired the status of font of all knowledge and have spent much of the day in long discussions about matters where I am so far behind the curve that my knowledge level is more Children's story than Encyclopaedia Britannica...

... As a result I have been forced to resort to relying on common sense and honesty in my responses and it is working well so far. There have been occasions where some bullshit and bravado has been required too but at least the team have a replacement captain short, gobby figurehead during this week of uncertainty. I am doing my best to keep matters progressing whilst the Lead Solution Manager lies at home, presumably applying calamine lotion.

After a long day in the office all I wanted to do was come home and slouch on the couch so it will come as no surprise that I was simply delighted to be dragged over to Cheltenham Town Hall to see Jimmy Carr.

I am far from a fan of the moon faced, tax dodger but 30% had been given a pair of tickets for her birthday and felt obliged to take me along. To be fair the gig wasn't that bad and overall I gave it a 6 / 10 on the basis that some of the jokes made me laugh. However it wasn't a particularly sophisticated routine and looked like he had taken a 1970s club comedian's act and simply updated it for modern times. It was basically a series of very short gags. Each followed broadly the same structure with a single set up line and then the punchline. Some of them were funny, some of them were not and, despite his reputation for controversial material, there was nothing to offend the audience apart from a lack of effort involved in the writing of his set.

It was better than I had expected it to be but I am glad I didn't have to pay for the tickets.

Monday, 22 April 2013

Why Me ?

It looks like my week will be interesting as within twenty minutes of starting work I was pinged by a colleague ...

... He is the Project Lead on the bid where I have been asked to lend a hand and it appears that he has gone down with Chicken Pox over the weekend. He informed me that he is unlikely to be in work this week and asked me to keep an eye on a couple of activities. Oh Well, they only have a couple of weeks before they submit a price to the client and I know Sweet Fanny Adams about the project scope, project plan, project team, project status, etc etc. However, there seems to be no-one else around to take charge so I did the decent thing ...

... What on earth could go wrong? I'm sure it will be fine! *

Away from work, leak number three has been repaired by PtP and the curtain poles have been ordered from the Blacksmith. I have ordered a set of new brushes for my router and have chased up the Ducati Service and status of my photo processing.

The problem is, new items are appearing on my to do list faster than I am completing them.
* I am taking this forward on the basis that, ultimately, it is SEP ... Someone Else's Problem

Sunday, 21 April 2013

There was less of today than expected

Much like last Sunday, most of today was taken up by a Rugby Match. TP's team were scheduled to play a few miles down the road against some seriously strong opposition that I wouldn't bet against. On a more positive note the club is also infamous for it's tremendous bacon sandwiches so, even though a defeat was likely, I stood a good chance of watching the game with a full belly ...

...  It is fair to say that the result came as no surprise to me. TP's team played well against a tough team but the opposition were well drilled and hungry for a win having been consistently beaten all season. As a result the final score was 37:3 with TP and his mates managing only a single penalty goal. I was somewhat bemused by the reaction of the Coaches to the score. As I stated, the opposition are notoriously good and, even if they had just come through a poor season, the game was still like a minnow coming up against a shark

Oh well, at least I got myself on the outside of a magnificent bacon and sausage sandwich for the princely sum of £1.80.

We arrived back home a little after one o'clock and, after lunch I headed out with T&M for a walk around the Three Miler. Upon our return, fatigue took over me and I hit the sofa for a restorative nap. Forty minutes later I reluctantly dragged myself up on to my feet and headed down to the cellar to recover the pig's head from the fridge. After putting an edge on my favourite knife, I removed the cheeks and trimmed them up. They were then given a good massage with cure mixture and returned to the fridge in a plastic tub. By the end of the week these will be converted in to guanciale which has become a store cupboard staple here at The Pile.

I then headed out to the garage to continue my tidying and spent an hour pottering, sweeping and clearing space. I returned to the house shortly before dinner to be informed that TP had rung a local pub about a job and needed to drop a CV in to the manager. We therefore spent a few minutes sketching out the achievement of his brief existence and left him to type it up ...

... Dinner was the first meal taken in the new Dining Room and it was lovely to sit and eat in a light and airy, uncluttered room after so many years in the gloom of the old hall. After dinner I would normally head for the sofa but this evening I headed out in the Defender so that TP could drop his CV off in the hope of seeking gainful employment over the summer.

I note that the questions of transport to and from this potential employment opportunity has not yet been discussed.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Mafia visit and the art installation

Since it's purchase and use a few months back, my morticer has taken on the role of a piece of modern sculpture and has been installed in our current dining room where it had attracted curious glances from visitors and frustrated outbursts from the family when they need to get past the damned thing. I see this a indisputable evidence of it's status as art as it has evoked emotional responses from it's audience. However, as a result of today's efforts, it now has a new home in the Museum of Metropolitan Art garage. Let me explain ...

After, cutting and jointing a couple of the bench legs yesterday I was keen to get on with the job and was breakfasted, and working before nine o'clock. By the time 30% surfaced at around ten o'clock I had glued and screwed the first half of the frame together and was well on the way to constructing the second. I won't bore an already dwindling readership with the minutiae of it's construction and will move on towards lunchtime when 30% was about to leave for an afternoon of Musical Theatre in Birmingham ...

... As she was about to depart, taking a minor detour to drop TP off at the Rugby Club, she noticed a large carrier bag had been deposited on our doorstep. On closer examination it became apparent that we had either upset the local Mafia Big Style or Cathy H-R had recently slaughtered a pig ... The bag contained a pig's head and, as I am sure I would remember if I had moved in on a local protection racket or drug ring, I am fairly certain that Cathy's customers have again refused the head when buying half a pig. It therefore looks like I will be starting a guanciale cure tomorrow then.

Most of the day was spent building the bench and further tidying the garage. By half past four I had finished and was absolutely shattered.  I didn't have much opportunity to rest as T&M still needed to be walked so it was a case of a quick coffee and out around the Three Miler.

After the walk I then had to collect TP from the Rugby Club where he had been assisting with a Charity Event. Normally I would have taken the Defender but the beautiful weather and a lack of diesel meant that the Honda got dragged from her lair and was used to pick him up. By the time I got home I was exhausted and TP was left to order a Chinese takeaway. Fortunately I had just enough energy left to rectify the Defender / Diesel issue and collect "number 90" from Astwood House Chinese.

The rest of the evening was spent trying, but failing, to fall asleep on the sofa, whilst praying that the twinges of heartburn didn't flare up in to full blown indigestion.

Friday, 19 April 2013

A full day

After the usual morning routine of coffee, chicken liberation, emptying of dogs and breakfast I gathered my helmet, gloves and jacket and accepted a lift from 30% over to Redditch Motorcycles to pick up the Honda. I'm becoming accustomed to their somewhat disorganised approach and it came as no real surprise that, whilst the bike was MOT'd, serviced and had a new set of tyres, it wasn't actually there ...

... basically it had been MOT'd at a workshop in Alcester and needed to be collected. There was no point getting wound up about this so I chatted to Chris as he opened up the shop. Eventually his assistant arrived which meant that Chris could give me a pillion ride over to pick up my bike. Whilst I was loitering I did attempt to throw my leg over the BMW 1200GS in the showroom but the cruel shark of reality surfaced in my pipe dream of ownership, there was no way a short arse like me would ever be comfortable on anything that tall.

It was great to have the bike back on the road and, as I headed back to The Pile, it felt much more planted with new rubber. I may well have the Ducati serviced there if I can't get a response from Moto-vation as Chris is now happy to work on these complicated Italian V Twins.

Back at home I rang PtP and asked him to come over and check out yet another bloody leaking pipe.* I really can't believe our misfortune as I have noticed that another of the pipes in the bathroom has a slight weep from one of the compression joints ... at the moment it looks like everything in the house is dripping as both T&M have come in to season too. PtP advised that he would see if he could pop round later on to have a look and I reassured him that it wasn't urgent as it was a weep not a leak and could wait if he was busy.

Having got the important things out of the way, I finally sat down at my laptop and sent my CV over to Mr O&L to see whether any of the Management at Neat & Tidy Piano Movers would be interested in procuring my services. I then settled to work.

It was the normal disorganised nonsense and the political wrangles about who owns my current project continue. I am stuck in the middle of a bunch of Execs all chasing a win bonus but they can't all own the Engagement. It is fair to say that a couple of them are going to be quite pissed off in the next week or so as the hand-over workshop I was asked to run is likely to be cancelled.  This basically means that we are going to keep it rather than hand it back to the Account Team ... This will, without doubt, be an interesting spectacle.

I pushed a few rocks around on the latest project and started to sequentially arrange ducks but I was well aware that it is Friday and, quite literally, could not be arsed to start anything huge with the weekend imminent. Instead, I pottered and kept busy sorting out the Honda's Road Fund License and tweaking my to do list.

Late in the afternoon PtP popped round and examined my pipework. His verdict was that I really should find another Plumber as it will be a pig of a job ... we laughed and after a good natter he promised to pop around on Monday unless a more lucrative job turned up over the weekend.

It was fair to say that Paul's visit created a natural end to my working day and TP and 30% arrived home shortly thereafter. After greetings and news I headed out to the garage and made a start on my new work bench and within an hour had much of the timber cut and had made  a start on the joints to fix the top rails to the legs. As I finished trimming the final rebate 30% summoned me and we headed out for the final job of the day ... we nipped over to see Sally to collect our reupholstered dining chairs. She has made a superb job of them and they look fantastic now they have been cleaned, polished and recovered in a Sage Green leather.

I'm guessing that we may actually get to eat in the Dining Room this weekend.
* in the same area as the ones he fixed last week. This one will be a complete and utter pig to fix as it sits behind the soil stack and is far from accessible.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Hello, and what do you do ...

This morning I left 30% in charge of receiving my delivery of plywood and 2" x 4" and headed in to the nearest Circle of Hell to meet the new team I have been assigned to assist. It has been an absolute age since I was last in an Office environment and 30% is has a firm opinion* that working from home is not good for me and that I need human contact rather than just relying on her shouting dulcet tones and TP's grunts. I point out that I have a whole population of imaginary friends to talk to but she just throws this back at me as evidence that I need to get out more. I generally leave these conversations by saying that I will discuss them with Tyson and Marauder and we'll get back to her once we have reached a collective decision.**

Anyway, I seem to have wandered slightly off the point there, back to the Office, I found the new team by good fortune as I wandered in to their general locale in the open plan layout ...

... as I was about to use my phone to ring my contact I heard "Hello badman". I turned and noticed an ex-colleague from many years ago that had done rather well for herself and now managed a group of Junior Account Executives. We exchanged pleasantries, including me mentioning what I was up to, and within a flash I was being led up the walkway and was being introduced to Uncle Tom Cobley and all

I am bloody hopeless with names and, in an instant, had forgotten all but my main man who I will be supporting over the next few weeks. It was interesting to note that I was not completely surrounded by strangers as I have worked, or crossed paths, with at least four of the team in my fifteen year career sentence at Dante's. I spent the day attempting to work out what the hell they were up to and where I might be able to provide some assistance. They seemed quite happy with my input and I picked up a few actions to progress. The interesting point about this is that as I am most definitely not the Lead Solutioner I am totally relaxed about the whole job. My arse is not on the line here and every thing I do will be viewed as supportive and productive provided I don't fuck anything up.

During the day I found time to send out invitations for workshop I am planning to hand back my current project to the Account Team. These seem to have caused a little spat as the Account Team are expecting me to give it back and the Sales Team want me to hold on to it. I am in a situation where I neither know who my master is or what they want me to do so I have set up a call with a bunch of Execs and I propose to let them argue it out amongst themselves whilst I sit back and take minutes.

By four o'clock it was fair to say that I was well and truly over the excitement  of seeing other people and headed back home to take the dogs for a walk.

I have decided that colleagues just give you somebody to talk to instead of working.
* not a single one of her opinions requires Viagra ... never!
** at this point she pulls one of those faces. You know what I mean. I think they are generally referred to as withering looks

Other Stuff

During the day I managed to find time to chase up Job Finder Steve for his appraisal of my CV. It is fair to say that he liked it and that is was ideal for roles similar to what I do at present, but he suggested that I could further promote my soft skills to broaden the range of roles available. It looks like I will be making a few minor tweaks tomorrow before passing it over to a possibly interested party.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Keeping Busy

The almost complete lack of activity on my Project has given me time to fill. I have done my best to keep busy by addressing the never ending to do list that is generally summed up as life.

This morning I arranged for the Builders Merchants to deliver a sheet of ply and length of 4" x 2"  tomorrow morning. I will then have enough materials for my work bench and plan to throw that together on Saturday. I then wandered out to the garage, Ducati keys in hand ...

... Another filthy dust sheet was removed and I swear she winked at me as daylight hit her for the first time in months. I put her alarm in to service mode and spent a few minutes maneuvering her so she was facing the garage door and put her up on to a workshop stand.* The ignition was switched on and the instrument cluster lit up. I hit the starter button and she fired up. I instantly hit the kill switch to give her a chance to throw some oil around the long dormant engine before running her for any length of time. I repeated this a couple of times and then let her run filling the garage with her throbbing engine notes and petrol tainted exhaust fumes ...

... next job on the list was to send a text to Moto-vation to see if they can find an MOT and Service slot for her in the next couple of weeks.

I headed back to my desk for a while and a little after eleven the dining table was delivered. I gave the Driver a hand to carry it in to the Dining Room and it looks absolutely fantastic. It is a late Victorian. mahogany extender with ball and claw carved feet and is in beautiful condition for it's age. I can't wait for the chairs to arrive, curtain poles to arrive, curtains to be made ...

... Yes, I know there are still a few jobs to do before the room is finally finished!

Later on in the day I was "pinged" by IM who advised that he wanted me to continue to wind down my current project and provide a little process support on another contract extension activity. I am more than happy to help out but am becoming more than a little frustrated at the gulf that seems to be appearing between my job title and the nature of the work I am being allocated.

The "working" day ended and all three of us headed over to TP's school for a meeting about a 6th Form exchange programme, in which TP is interested in participating ...

... it looks like he may be heading out to Zambia next Easter!
* she has a racing pedigree and a result of this is that she cannot be started whilst her side stand is down. I therefore either need to hold her or put her on a workshop stand to start the engine.

Always the Quantity Surveyer

A few weeks ago I bumped in to C&M ..."C" was pushing a trundle wheel in an attempt to determine the actual length of the Three Miler.

Today, whilst walking the dogs, I met C&M out for a blustery walk and remembered to ask about his findings ...

... I can now report that, measured as a "circular" route starting at the Pub in the Green, the Three Miler is officially 2.66 miles in length.

I can, however, still claim a three mile walk as the return journey from home to the Pub is at least 600 yards.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Going AWOL

It was another quiet day and I had absolutely zero motivation to fill my time with the on-line, patronising attempt at brain washing that Dante's Nine Circles of Hell like to refer to as Education. I therefore spent the first half of the morning finishing the draft of my CV and sent it out to Job Finder Steve to get the benefit of his experience with IT Industry curriculum vitae.

By eleven o'clock I was finished and took T&M out for walk. Lunch followed and I then clambered in to the Defender and headed over to raid BMS's supply of timber ... I spent an hour or so with Pater; fighting off the attentions of Tilly and chatting, before loading a few lengths of timber, for my work bench, on to the roof rack and heading back home. I took a minor detour via the feed store and picked up a few bags of Layers Pellets while I was out and about.

I made a call to see whether the Honda was ready to be collected and  learnt that the MOT had been completed but workload had delayed the service and tyre fitting. Chris apologetically asked if I could put off collection until later in the week. This seems to be the norm at his workshop but he is such a nice chap and I am in no hurry so advised that I would see him Thursday or Friday, depending on the weather.

As afternoon turned to evening I headed out to the garage with the aim of making a start on the work bench but was overtaken by a bizarre urge to tidy ... within the next hour I had transformed the floor space in the garage. 30%'s abandoned shelving/storage unit project was relocated to the front cellar under my recently imposed statute of limitations ruling.* Two wooden pallets were taken outside and converted in to firewood.** Various items of clutter were packed up in to the roof space and the floor was given a bloody good sweeping.

I am amazed at how much space I have managed to recover and there is more yet to do!
* any abandoned item or project can be relocated / put away / thrown away, without feat of retribution from the item / project owner, after a vaguely defined period of abandonment that is generally greater than 14 calendar days
** it has been such a long time since the chainsaw last broke cover and she performed beautifully, as usual

Monday, 15 April 2013

Another quiet day in the office

There is not a huge amount I can say about work today as I didn't exactly do much of it. The future of my current project is unclear; one Exec expects me to hand it back to him another is suggesting that we should hold on to it and just "mothball" it for a few weeks. There is absolutely no clarity on the Engagement or Sales strategy for this opportunity so, in the absence of any guidance, I am wrapping things up and hoping to disengage within the next two to three weeks.

I pottered around the edge of my project for a while today but, if I am totally honest, most of my day was spent pulling my CV together.

At about ten o'clock in the morning 30% rang and was very excited. She had been looking at a mahogany dining table on eBay for a few days and yesterday had asked a few questions of the Seller. Her call was to advise that she had spoken to the Seller, liked the sound of it and had bought the table. I was somewhat amazed as 30% can be frustratingly slow to make a decision, lingering for literally weeks over minutiae, and then just go for it in the blink of an eye. The table does look beautiful and, as I learnt, in the next couple of breathless calls, a) it will be delivered on Wednesday but b) I needed to pay for it!

Eventually the PayPal invoice arrived and I dutifully made the payment only to have the damned thing reversed by PayPal moments later! Apparently their fraud detection algorithms had identified unusual activity on my account. I think it is fair to say that I was somewhat frustrated by this as I use PayPal regularly and the cost of the table was hardly an order of magnitude higher than the Mitre Saw I purchased last week. The other frustration was I then had to jump through a series of hoops to restore my account to normality. One of these was to submit an electronic copy of a recent credit card invoice and wait for some invisible and uncontactable gnome to deem it suitable evidence of my legitimacy.

I realised that account reactivation was never going to happen today and in the end just rang my bank and performed an electronic transfer of funds to the Seller. What did I learn from this? ... PayPal is an incredibly easy way to transfer monies but, unlike a bank, they are virtually impossible to talk to and hence I have no idea how I would have forewarned them that I was about to make a significant purchase using their systems.

Oh well, the table is on it's way and I can't be arsed to get up tight with a bloody on-line e-commerce service.

The rest of the day was quiet, the dogs got walked and last week's to do list was closed and this week's was drawn up. It looks like I will be getting my box frame finished and a new work bench installed in the garage.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Rugby match consumes day

Today TP had an away game up on the Eastern side of Coventry. This meant we had an early start and there was no opportunity for dog walking before we climbed in to the car and headed off for the match. It was a good game that could have been great if the referee had calmed down, used a little less whistle and allowed a little more rugby to be played. The two teams were fairly evenly matched as the 19:10 final score to TP's team demonstrated. When play was actually permitted we saw some very strong rugby from both sides and TP's team seemed to finally be tackling effectively and taking back possession from the opposition. It was a very different game to the last match we played at this club which was a 53:5 drubbing of the home team.

By the time the post match activities had been concluded it was well past midday and two o'clock was approaching as we arrived home to be greeted by two very enthusiastic dogs. Lunch was rapidly devoured and I was, again, back out in the fresh air taking T&M for their walk.

I returned in time for a quick snooze on the sofa before BMS & SMS arrived with Tilly to join us for Sunday Dinner. We had a pleasant few hours catching up on each others news, although SMS is a regular reader of The Journal on her iPad and consequently tends to know what we are up to as it happens... Apparently Bad Man Senior, who eschews computing devices, receives edited verbal highlights with the occasional viewing of any pictures I post.

Dad & Sue left fairly early in the evening after I had extracted a couple of lengths of sturdy timber from their car. These are destined to become the legs of my new work bench and I may be making a visit in the Defender as BMS mentioned some surplus 2" x 4" timber kicking around too ...

... at this rate I will only need a 8' x 4' sheet of 1" ply from B&Q and the bench will be sorted!

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Going "off list"

It's the weekend and after a toast and caffeine injection I, once again, hit the to do list ...

... first item this morning was to take the Defender over to the mobile car valeting service. Yes, mobile as in a service that comes to the consumer, but obviously in this instance, mobile as in I take my car and leave it conveniently on his drive for the day! Fortunately he is only a couple of miles up the road and 30% provided a lift back home.

We paused, briefly, for further coffee and then headed in to Redditch for grocery shopping and to collect the glass for the Box Frame I am making. It was lunchtime by the time we got back and after refuelling I headed out around the Three Miler with T&M.

On my return 30% advised that the Defender was ready for collection so we headed out again. Ten minutes later I was back in the house, my wallet £50 lighter*, but now in possession of a much shinier Land Rover. Spurred on by the improvement in the condition of the Defender, I finally got my arse in to gear and repaired the tip-up seat retaining strap that one of TP's mates had buggered a few months back. This involved aluminium plate, rivets and assorted power tools and I can report that a) my repair looks quite factory and b) I will kill the little fucker that broke it, if he ever comes anywhere near my car in this or any other lifetime.

As afternoon turned to evening we were joined by 30%'s brother and the Elf for dinner. A pleasant time was had by all and day#1 of the weekend can be declared a success ...

... two items crossed of the to do list; valet car and collect glass, plus an item that hadn't even made it on to the list yet; fix Defender seat.

I may be getting ahead of myself here.
* To be fair, he had done a reasonable job and had MOP'd out a couple of scratches that I picked up negotiating the track down to Pwll Du Bay.

Friday, 12 April 2013

The Devil makes work for idle hands

After some minor procrastination, I finally settled down to one of the major tasks on my to do list and made a start on updating my CV. I have an internal CV, which recounts my rock pushing history in Dante's Nine Circles of Hell, but it is way too specific for the marketplace and, at five pages in length, is way too long to be considered a resume...

... Fortunately an old boyfriend of 30%, works in IT Recruitment and was more than happy to provide a couple of good quality sample CVs for me to use as a foundation. As an aside, all three of us attended Wolverhampton Polytechnic over thirty years ago and I actually used to live in the same Hall of Residence Flat as Job Finder Steve...

... Anyway, getting back on track, much of today has been spent on the first draft of the document. As is usual, I have done less than I would have hoped for but have made a reasonable start and would hope to be in a position to send a draft over to Steve for comments later on next week.

Away from work today's main activities were taking the Honda for a Service and MOT and more work on my Box Frame...

... Starting with the bike, I dragged her out from under a filthy dustsheet and gave her a quick whizz over with a duster. She is still very grimy but looks a little less dusty after that minimal cleaning attempt. It was great to be out on her again but I am nervous of the grip provided by her ancient tyres and their replacement is one of the Service items requested. After an all too short ride I filled up her tank and pulled on to the forecourt of Redditch Motorcycles just managing to avoid the shower that had been threatening all afternoon. It will be later next week before I can collect her but I have to admit that my eye fell upon a BMW R1200GS in the corner of the showroom. It is a beast of a bike with a mountainous seat height. At 5'3" in my stocking feet it is probably ridiculously high for me but that hasn't stopped me making a few Internet searches which involve the bike model and the phrase short arse riders!

The frame project has taken a massive step nearer to completion. I have now sanded the frame and applied a coat of wood reviver to soak in overnight. Tomorrow it will get a coat of wax polish and then it will just be a case of getting the glass, mounting the spear heads and assembling it.

As for this evening, I am spending it alone as 30% and TP have headed in to Birmingham to see Meatloaf perform at the NEC ...

... I have far more sense!

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Progress on the Box Frame Project

After clearing the minimal work from my in-box I headed out to the garage to inspect the frame that had been glued up and clamped overnight. Free of its shackles it looks quite impressive and I am somewhat more optimistic that this project might be successful.

The next stage in it's construction was to rout a sizable rebate around the back inner edge of the frame to accept the box that will display the spear heads. To give some idea of dimensions, the frame is a bit of a beast at 27" x 31" and the box it surrounds is 21" x 26". After offering the two components together and marking up I found myself needing to produce a rebate about 0.5" deep and 1.25" wide ...

... As a result the garage is now full of wood dust again and I can report that ancient elm does smell quite peculiar when worked. There is no other way of putting it, some of these boards smell like cat piss when the router bit cuts through them.

A trial fit proved that the box will rest snugly in it's rebate. All I need to do now is get the frame sanded and finished, get a sheet of glass cut and get the spear heads mounted in the box.

Oh, and get the bloody wall dried out, stain sealed and repainted so we can hang it in it's intended position!

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

In the words of young Mr. Grace*

It was another quiet day at work and I did what I could to tidy up my project and prepared my weekly report. Shortly before the call where I read out what I have written in my weekly report I was pinged by the EMEA Sales Exec** ...

... This was something of a surprise as he was supposed to be on holiday hence I have spent much of this week slacking, doing the bare minimum, concentrating on non project activities.  After a brief chat it became apparent that he had been called over to Germany to attend to another deal and that a couple of recent discussions in the Sales Organisation now propose that our project is not handed back to the Account Team but is retained and progressed. This deal is on and off more frequently than the proverbial Whore's Drawers! There is still a distinct lack of clarity on what we are supposed to be doing and how, or when, we are to encourage a reluctant client to sign the paperwork so I summarised with the statement "I'll just carry on what I'm doing then".

At one point this morning a knock at the door sent the dogs in a frenzy and I wandered out to take receipt of my new mitre saw. Within minutes the new Makita was unpacked on the dining table and shortly thereafter was taken out to the garage and bolted to it's own table. The now redundant Ferm is sat on the garage floor whilst I decide on it's fate. Since I was out in the garage it seemed rude not to test the saw so I checked out it's mitre settings and carefully trimmed up the frame components that had been cocked up on Sunday. They now fit beautifully and there is a chance that the box frame project might well be back on track. Later on in the day I found a few minutes to cut the biscuit joints and glue up the frame. I cant wait to see what it looks like when the clamps are taken off.

The afternoon saw a me take a walk with T&M and an early finish from work. I then headed over to Worcester to drop my holiday films in at the photo processors and to pick up the dehumidifier.

That is another two items off the to do  list.
* Carry on, Everybody, You've all done very well
** Who, I fear, may well be taking on the persona of young Mr Grace

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Chipping away at it

It is Tuesday and I am not sure whether I have managed to find a modicum of motivation or have simply realised that I will go barking mad unless I find something to fill my time this week ...

... I do not have a huge amount of work to do at the moment and the key task is to get my current project tidied up such that I can pass it back to the Account Team to progress. The problem is that most of the people I need are still away on their Easter holidays and, as a result, I am not going to achieve much this week. However, I did what I could and danced around the edges of the project hassling for outstanding deliverables and collating what little had been provided. I also spent some time polishing up a spreadsheet, as my time in Dante's has taught me that the majority of the Managers and Execs are suckers for style over substance. This file will be the principle device to hand the project back so a few hyperlinks and a bit of formatting will work wonders to make the sow's ear look a little more like a silk purse.*

In order to fill my day I also addressed my to do list once again. First task was to chase up the Blacksmith about the curtain rails. After a quick phone call I had learned that he was still in business but had a new e-mail address so, after ending the conversation, I updated the specification to also include the rails for the Hall and Office and re-sent it.

Towards lunchtime I again felt the need to escape from the desk and headed out to the garage with the keys to the Honda. I removed the sawdust covered sheet that had kept the worst of the ukulele project's debris from her and slipped the key in to the ignition. After several attempts the first cough of the engine attempting to fire was heard and, with some tweaking of choke and throttle, she was soon running on three of her four cylinders. Cylinder number four eventually decided to join the party and she sat there purring as her engine temperature rose. After a quick check of lights, brakes, clutch and gearbox I turned her off and headed back in to the house where I made arrangements for her service and MOT on Saturday.

I also made arrangements to collect the dehumidifier tomorrow and planned to combine that with a trip in to Worcester to drop off the holiday films at the photo processors.

Late in the day PtP arrived and, after his traditional and incredibly enthusiastic greeting by Tyson, he set to repairing the two leaking pipes. He is a really nice chap and I think we spent more time chatting than him actually working but after an hour two new sections of copper had been soldered in to place and the leak was finally cured.

I make that one objective actually achieved; the leak and three pushed slightly further along; humidifier, bike and curtain rails ...

... at this rate I will be getting to the one I should do but seem to be avoiding for some reason.
* I like this analogy as I certainly wouldn't want to put any of my money in to it.

Monday, 8 April 2013

Things to do

Monday ... bleugh! The first day back in the virtual office after a week away.

I opened up the email application and noted that I had a little over one hundred emails to review. This was nowhere near as bad as expected but then I realised that I had only been out for four working days and most of my colleagues had been out for Easter too. I set to and deleted the junk which comprised more than half. It then took little more than an hour to review the rest and make a couple of phone calls to catch up on the minimal progress made last week. The EMEA Sales Exec is on holiday this week so hopefully I will have a reasonably quiet week where I can plan the handing back of this project to the Account Team for them to take forward.

Actually clearing my e-mail was not my first activity of the day, that was a 'phone call to Steve about the second leak that I discovered yesterday. He advised that he would pop over at some point today to "have a look". He did mention that he was rushed off his feet and away for a Lads Holiday from Thursday so I already have a nagging suspicion that I will be calling in Paul the Plumber for the repair. Steve eventually turned up around five thirty and confirmed what I already knew; that I had another leak, and then, after rummaging around in the back of his van, advised that he didn't have anything that could be used as a temporary fix. We agreed that PtP was my best bet for a speedy fix but that Steve would step in if PtP wasn't available. After a quick call we had PtP lined up for a visit tomorrow.

Steve's late arrival meant that I had been waiting at home all day and, as a result ended up taking T&M for a very late walk around the Three Miler and returning just in time for dinner at seven.

The enforced wait for Steve and the limited amount of work in my virtual in tray meant that I had plenty of time to cross a few items of my latest to do list. The main task was to produce a specification for some curtain poles for the dining room. In any normal house one would simply measure the width of the window and then head in to the nearest retailer, however things are slightly more complicated here at The Pile. Firstly because we found a local blacksmith who made some fantastic rails for our upstairs rooms a couple of years ago and secondly, because both the window and door apertures are such that his standard design just will not fit. As a result I ended up producing a detailed specification with photographs, diagrams and measurements. After an hour I hit send on my email specification and offered a prayer to the Gods that he was still in business.

I also managed to get the local mobile valet service booked to come and give the Defender at good scrub and polish at the weekend.

Next on the list was to get the bikes booked in for services and MOTs but I held off that as I thought I had better make sure they start before I commit to riding them in to the respective workshops...

... That will give me something to do tomorrow while I wait for PtP.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

King Midas I aint!

Today was one of those days when it felt like everything I touched turned to shit. I know that in real terms it wasn't so, but it is fair to say that a couple of activities have not progressed as well as I would have liked ...

... Let's start with the leak that Steve & Andy so kindly applied a temporary fix to just over a week ago. I noticed that the damp patches were not drying out as quickly as I would have expected and that the condensation in the back porch seemed to have increased rather than the reverse. I gave the temporary fix a close inspection and it was fine but the pipe that runs alongside it was also wet. On closer examination it became clear that the second pipe was also leaking and it looks like S&A will be getting a call tomorrow morning ...

... it is also a good job that the eBay dehumidifier auction finishes this evening as it is most definitely needed.

The second cock up was the box frame that I have been working on. After spending several hours preparing the old elm timber for the frame I cut the joints using my mitre saw ...

... it didn't go well. Firstly the timber is old and twisted which doesn't make accurate cutting easy and secondly my mitre saw has always been a complete bastard. It is fine for stud framing work* and so forth but as a precision mitre saw it is worse than useless. It's 45 degree setting is slightly out and as a result it needs a huge amount of messing around with to make a decent frame. I am now in possession of four pieces of finely routed firewood and am expecting a new Makita to be delivered in the next couple of days.

Now I turn to the parts of the day that went reasonably well ...

... first thing this morning I took T&M for a walk around the Three Miler whilst 30% dropped TP off at the rugby club. Tyson's paw seems fine although I suspect she is about to come in to season based on the number of strategic pees she took on the walk.

After the walk, 30% and I returned to the club to watch the match. It was one hell of a game against incredibly strong opposition who were fielding a team with several overage players. TP's side didn't win but they held up incredibly well against a side that played barely within the rules of the game, as the two players sin binned and the huge number of penalties given demonstrated. The 24:7 final score is a testament to how well the lads played.

After the match we were joined by Jules for lunch and she came bearing 30%'s birthday gift. I have already recounted the afternoon's gripes so will finish by saying that I decided that the safest place for me was sat on the sofa where I could break anything else.

Oh, and I did win the dehumidifier!
* as in a shed or chicken coop frame

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Shit you don't want to hear

I thought Saturday had started hideously early until 30% informed me that we had not yet got around to putting the clocks forward and it was a quarter past eight. As she bustled around preparing to leave for a hair appointment I opened the door on the Grand Father Clock and set the pendulum swinging again.

He is a delightful time piece and very reliable in a temperamental sort of way. The bell striking mechanism has a tendency to jump forward when he is being wound leaving the hours chimed one in advance of the actual time. This is easily rectified by taking the clock through the chiming cycle but it does become bloody irritating when you have to do it it three or four times a week ... However, since the New Year we have noticed that it is more than happy to be wound at eight o'clock in the morning without upsetting the hourly chimes. Provided that this regime is adhered to it will quite happily run without complaint provided a weekly correction of the time is made, as he does run a little slow.

Apologies for the minor diversion, but I had consciously wound and then stopped the clock before we left so that he could be just restarted without any fuss upon our return. He stands in the hall measuring out the heartbeat of the house once more.

30% left and I wandered out to the garage to pick up a stalled project. I spent the best part of an hour cutting some elm floor boards to size to form the frame components for a box frame I have sketched out. It's ultimate purpose will be to display some spear heads we acquired a couple of months ago. I had to keep an eye on the time to ensure I made the appointment at the Vet's for T&Ms' inoculations.

The Vet checked out Tyson's paw and decided that it didn't seem to be anything more serious than a bruise or strain but she unnerved me when she was carrying out T's annual check up and asked about a heart murmur. Apparently T has the slightest of heart murmurs on the left hand side. The vet reassured me that it was nothing to worry about as it could barely be heard, had never been picked up before and was  obviously not impacting T's energy or activity levels. She advised that it could even be a temporary anomaly and that we should get the vet to listen for it on our next visit.

Both T&M were jabbed after receiving great praise for their general condition and I returned back home to clean up the boards that I had cut and plug the nail holes in preparation for routing, mitre cuts and assembly tomorrow.

After lunch 30% and I made a trip in to the supermarket to restock the cupboards and upon our return we were visited by 30%'s Mum and Dad who came bearing birthday cards and gifts. Tea, chat and a warm in front of the fire consumed what remained of the afternoon and evening drew in. TP disappeared off to a party and 30% and I took a quick spin out in her new toy in an attempt to get her to master the clutch and gearbox! A minor adjustment of the seat seemed to help and we took a relatively crunch free drive over pay a brief visit to her brother and the Elf.

As the sun set we headed back to The Pile and spent the evening in front of the television until a little before midnight when I headed out to collect TP from a thankfully convenient party just a few miles down the road ...

... every other one he has been invited to has been bloody miles away.

Friday, 5 April 2013

Time to go home

Today was our last day at Pwll Du and the day can be summed up as breakfast followed by packing, a brief walk on the beach, a three hour drive home, unpacking and a very late lunch.

We arrived home around three in the afternoon and most of the day had gone by the time we were settled back in to The Pile. All seems well although one of the Minorcas has gone missing and Tyson appears to be favouring one of her front paws. We think she may have twisted or sprained her leg on the beach and an appointment has been made at the vets for tomorrow. Both T&M are due their inoculations anyway so we may as well kill two birds with one stone.

It is 30%'s birthday today and, as she was somewhat jaded by the packing and travelling, she declined the offer of a meal out but perked up at the offer of a Chinese takeaway ...

... she does the 'phoning, I do the fetching.

It has been a fun week away and having been twice before it is very easy to relax there as we now have a reasonable knowledge of the lie of the land. We therefore don't need to worry about any of those things that concern a first time visitor.

It is possible we may be in a similar situation with our Summer break as Luxor has been suggested ...

... watch this space.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Pennard Castle

It was another grey day today, although nowhere near as cold as it was on Monday.

Today's plan was to walk up to the castle ruins at Pennard. That would be quite a distance from Pwll Du so we drove up to South Gate and parked in the cliff top car park close to the coastal path. We then ambled along the coastal path and within twenty minutes were looking out over Three Cliffs Bay ahead and Pennard Golf Course away to our right. It was fair to say that the path wasn't particularly clear and numerous tracks lead through the dunes in all directions. After a brief recce' of the area we let 30% have her way and we headed away from the castle towards the Club House where we picked up a path that lead across the middle of the course to the castle.

To be honest the ruins were less than impressive and the cold weather, the company of picnickers and a family with rowdy children meant that our stay was brief. After taking a couple of snaps we headed back, this time picking up the coast path that skirted the boundary of the golf course. Within an hour we were back in the warmth of the car and headed back to Ship Cottage to take a late lunch and light the fire.

Apart from a brief wander down the bay, we spent what was left of the afternoon in the warm and I did my best to help minimise the amount we needed to pack tomorrow by finishing off the gin and the last bottle of  beer.

Does anyone have any "nibbles"?

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

More fresh air and exercise

Wednesday, and the weather remained fine and dry with a cold wind. This morning we again walked up the Bishopston Valley and took the bridle path up to South Gate where we paused at a cafe and stuffed some very good cake in to our gobs ...

... refueled, we headed out on to the coastal path as our plan was to take a circular route back to the cottage. The views were fantastic and we took in more of them than expected when we followed a sheep track, instead of the path, that petered out on a quite precipitous cliff. I am sure that the cliff herbage provided some fantastic grazing opportunities but I just found the close proximity of the edges somewhat unnerving and will take my revenge in the future when welsh lamb is next on the menu.

We retraced our steps for half a mile or so and found the coastal path. The walk back around Pwll Du head gave some fantastic views of the coast back towards Caswell Bay and Swansea in the distance and early in the afternoon we were dropping through the woods and back to Ship Cottage for lunch.

Pwll Du Head looking towards Caswell Bay
After the morning's liberal doses of exercises and fresh air I took the mandated afternoon snooze but have to report that I somewhat overdid things and it was close to five o'clock before I hauled my backside from the sofa.

The plan for the evening was a walk up to The Joiners Arms in Bishopston for dinner so a little before six we headed up the cliff track and took the lanes in to the village. I really like The Joiners. It is a very "ordinary" pub with no pretentions or artifice. It has a friendly atmosphere and serves some damned fine food at very reasonable prices ... and T&M are most welcome to sit under the table and, in the case of Marauder, occasionally bark at other dogs that dare to enter.

After dinner we wandered back down towards the cottage in the fading light and arrived as dusk was turning to night. I estimate that the return trip to the pub is a good three  miles and, combined with this morning's ramble I think we probably walked further today than we did the day before.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

The tenth best beach in the world?

Tuesday saw the sun make a welcome return and after much faffing around we eventually left Ship Cottage and headed over to Rhossili Bay. I mention "much faffing" as TP has now joined us and now even the shortest trip will require that he receive several reminders and make repeated returns to his room or the bathroom for a wide variety of forgotten items or ablutionary tasks ...

... where was I? Oh yes, after much faffing we eventually climbed in to the Defender and headed over to Rhossili Bay. This is a splendid three mile arc of sand that makes a compulsory appearance in any Welsh Tourist Board advertisement but despite it's beauty and popularity it is never crowded and within one hundred yards of walking we had the sands virtually to ourselves. We walked with the dogs to the far end where we sat on Spaniards Rock and rewarded our exertions with coffee and a selection of cakes. It was well past midday at this point and by the time we had walked the three miles back to the car park and then driven home I'm not sure whether we ate a late lunch or an early supper.

Our original plan had been to head up to Bishopston for dinner at The Joiners Arms but after the six mile walk and a huge helping of fresh air none of us seemed particularly interested in leaving the comfort of the log burner and sofa. As a result we dined much later at home and agreed that a shorter walk tomorrow would leave us in the mood for a walk up to the pub.

 As the sun started to drop in the sky I wandered out to empty the dogs and took a few photos of Pwll Du Bay. The panorama below is stitched from five separate frames and is a 300 degree view from the Tyson's favourite widdling location

Monday, 1 April 2013


This morning the sky was grey and leaden and the short walk down to the beach with the dogs was enough to prove just how bloody cold it really was ...

... back in the cottage as I spotted a brief appearance of a watery sun through the clouds and had possibly one of the stupidest ideas in my forty nine years. "Let's go for a walk on Oxwich Bay" I proffered, when asked what I wanted to do by 30%. We breakfasted, got our stuff together, threw the dogs in the back of the Defender and drove the few miles along the coast to Oxwich. As we parked I had my first doubts. The few people there were dressed for a Siberian Winter and the wind driving in off the sea was blasting everything with an obscuring cloud of sand picked up from the narrow strip of beach between sea and dunes.

We climbed out and a freezing wind was driving in off the sea. As we started along the beach we diverted on to the dunes to seek what limited shelter they could offer against the blast. After twenty minutes of walking 30% had very rosy cheeks and I swear my face was starting to go numb on the seaward side. I am not a huge fan of the cold and by this time I had most definitely reached the fuck this for a game of soldiers mindset. 30% claimed that she was enjoying it. If she was, she was the exception that proves the rule, as everyone else we encountered commented on how bitterly cold it was.

30% graciously, or was it sensibly, decided to pander to my onset of frost bite so we turned and walked to the Oxwich Bay hotel and settled in front of the fire to thaw with coffee and, in my case, a portion of caramel apple flan.

When feeling eventually returned to my extremities we headed back to Pwll Du, lit the fire and settled in front of it for an afternoon of indoor pursuits. As evening drew in I had a dry dinner and shortly after nine o'clock I headed up the cliff track and on in to Swansea to collect TP from the station. His train arrived on time and just after ten o'clock we were slowly negotiating the cliff back down to the bay. The steep and rocky path is very different when everything outside the pool of the headlights is pitch black and your world is limited to the next twenty yards before a bend or drop robs you of perspective.

We fed TP and caught up on his news before retiring to bed in front of the orange glow of the fire.