Archive for May, 2016

Rain on the roof

Tuesday, May 31st, 2016

And other items of mild interest

Took John to the driving range in Whisby late afternoon and Hannah came along for the ride. Afterwards we had a stroll around the nature reserve before heading home for a chili con carne and an early night.

This morning went for a swim. Was a little late getting there – my first time back in the water for a while and I needed to find things. Afterwards to see Annabelle at Clearview to see about an eyetest. There don’t appear to be any replacement arms for my specs so I got a “nearly the same” one. They are my spare pair after all so it doesn’t really matter and I am back in the land of the sighted.

I’m going back tomorrow morning before they officially open for a proper eye test and to choose some new specs. They have the same Oakleys in as the pair I lost on the coast to coast. I liked those specs so may well go for them again.

The rain has arrived. Makes it very relaxing to sit in the conservatory. John is revising away at the other end of the table whilst I get on with some work.

The Elton John tickets have arrived. I picked them up from the Epic Centre at the Showground. We are in Row D of one of the front blocks and need to arrive at 4pm for the start of the corporate hospitality. Had to go round the houses to get there as the main gate was shut. Also they are having the carpark redone so I ended up on gravelly stuff. Setting up for some antiques show.

My first day back at work in the home office today. Been away for most of May which has been pretty exhausting. Body needs a bit of downtime to recover now.

Relaxed Bank Holiday Monday

Monday, May 30th, 2016

slow start after late night

Quite an easy going day. Done a few jobs (tightened electrical socket in attic – don’t quite know how it got loose – removed a protruding nail from a beam, put away walking gear and moved boxes under worktop in garage, sorted out intray, rescheduled Tom and John flights to iom from one that had been canceled by BA, tidied clothes away from coast to coast walk (ahem yes), ordered replacement EHIC card, and so on).

Also uploaded lots of pics and vids from last night’s totally excellent Joanne Haylock School of Dancing Ball at the Doubletree. we got in at around 1am. Late for us.  Lots of dancing as you might expect, lots of drinking, lots of fun.

Broke my specs before going out by standing on them when I got out of the shower. Must have fallen on the floor somehow. This is a slight problem as I lost my only other pair on day one of the coast to coast walk!!!! Am surviving on the few contact lenses I have left and will need to go and see Annabelle tomorrow to sort something out. This ain’t gonna be cheap. My prescription is strong and I have to fork out for expensive lenses to avoid the bottle glass look.

More pics and vids here.

Ended up not trimming the branches above the deck btw. Health and Safety dept decided it was too dangerous and will be getting in a contractor to do the job.

As I write the house is calm. Anne is for the moment satisfied with my progress with the jobs list and I seem to be being given some free time to use as I wish. Anne thinks that unless one is rushing around doing stuff one is not doing anything other than being totally idle. She doesn’t understand the rich legacy that writing this blog will bestow upon future generations 🙂 Not to mention the book that will come out of it after the year is out.

triffic stroll around uphill lincoln with hannah

Sunday, May 29th, 2016

pipes and poppies

v pleasant walk around the castle and the lawns finishing off with a drink on the rooftop terrace of the taphouse and kitchen. Home for a spot of lunch and then to gooutdoors for a microfibre towel for hannah’s trip to Italy in August and tesco for some supplies for her post exam celebrations back in Durham (3 x bots prosecco). had the peugeot washed and polished whilst in tesco. never been so clean.

now sat on the patio watching anne do some gardening and typing this entry. It is as bad as it sounds :). England v wales on radio (laptop). No idea why they are playing. Cricket going v well v sri lanka.

big night tonight. It’s the Joanne Haylock School of Dancing 25 year anniversary bash. black tie job. looking forward to it.

one of today’s jobs has been to fix the deckchairs. they are both old and inherited by Anne from Cunningham drive. One is beyond repair and the other needs a lot of work. to cut a long story short I’ve got to go and get a bolt in the morning. In the meantime it’s a cup of tea and then take John down to the nets for a stint.

btw note featured image – view of poppies through a pipe at Lincoln castle. Other pics and vids here.

today’s jobslist

Saturday, May 28th, 2016

as far as is known 09.18

do a lot of relaxing
nip to bailgate to buy sausages and other stuff1 for bbq
joint chicken and marinade it
put up blind
trim trees abouve decking (now that I have 10ft step ladders)
deckchairs – fix canvas
tidying up my intray
sort out EE overbilling (again)
pick hannah up from station at 5.15

The first three and last two will definitely get done and we shall see how I get on for the others. Also meeting @baskers and Tim in the Strugs just after 5.30. They are up from London for the weekend.

Photo is of apples in formation.
1other stuff currently includes baby new potatoes from greengrocer behind Curtis’, strawberries, bread, carrots, booze (not actually on list but hey…)

Copenhagen Airport, Friday 27th May

Friday, May 27th, 2016

Loving and leaving

Good to be going home. Slept fitfully last night. Alarm went off at 7am and I snoozed it 3 times. Didn’t need to be up that early for a 10.50am flight.

Hung around in the room in the belief that breakfast didn’t start until 8am which I thought a little unusual but this was based on a notice in the lift. Googled the times only to find that really it started at 6.30 so I headed down. Realised that the sign in the lift alluded to how busy the restaurant was. It said Start – 8am not busy. I took this was 8am being the opening time. Doh.

I’m now sat on an uncomfortable bench at Joe & The Juice juice bar near to gates C. It’s 9.21 and I still have a ton of time to kill. Not having lounge access I’m slumming it. Drinking a “Pick Me Up” that comprises strawberry, banana and apple. Fine.

Taxi en route had wifi again. Quick through check in/bag drop and security though was bemused by the fact that the woman at security insisted I empty all my pockets. I made point of offloading an old hotel room card and an unused napkin. The napkin didn’t make it through.

Where I am at I can see a woman with a book entitled Far From True by Linwood Barclay. A nom de plume surely.  Who gets called Linwood Barclay. Sorry if this is you Linwood. It’s fine:)

As I said I’m looking forward to be going home. It’s been almost a month away living in B&Bs and hotels with three nights at home in the middle where I was mostly recovering from the coast to coast walk. Now I’ll be mostly recovering from two weeks in Europe.

Copenhagen was great. The venue for the social last night, Wallmans Cirkusbygningen, was impressive with a great cabaret. Rich and I would appear to be the first to bale out and had a coach to ourselves. I’d definitely consider returning for a weekend with Anne at some point.

Later on the plane;

Bit of a miserable woman at the desk in the airport. She called business class passengers and gold card holders first followed by silver. I hung around waiting for her to call bronze. instead she announced general boarding from rows 25 and back. I was in row 24 and challenged her as to why she hadn’t called bronze. She begrudgingly let me on. Huh!

I wish I’d downloaded a movie. I’m somewhat bored. I have positively no inclination to do any work. I need internet access anyway. The cart is coming along, It will be chicken and bacon sandwich – same as on the previous 4 or 5 flights. Something to do. Good job it’s only a 90 minute flight.

So yesterday’s big news was that Hannah has finished her last exam at Durham University. Knowing how ecstatic that makes you feel makes me incredibly happy for her. It’s one of those dual edged swords. You have a fantastic time at university and then it comes to an end.

For Han it is time to move on. She has a good job lined up in London with Colt Telecom. I’m very proud of her. All the kids have good things happening. We are very lucky parents.

The rubbish cart makes its way slowly down the aisle. Very good timing in fact. Having seen it I was able to nip to the loo and get back just as it reached my seat allowing me to both sit down and dispose of the cardboard packaging at the same time. Hey presto.

Looking at the map we are about half way to London. Eta 11.45. My train is at 15.08 so I will have a little time to kill in Kings Cross. Will put out a call on Twitter and Facebook to see if anyone wants to hang out for a bit.Perhaps a cheeky lime and soda. I’ll probably have 2 hours spare. The others are leaving this evening. At least Rich is. I have a lot further to go than him.

We have a great summer in prospect: Hannah’s graduation, Elton John at the Showgrounds, Ladies semi finals at Wimbledon, JoeFest, Latitude, the Isle of Man. The Pylons are starting to get Festival invites too. They have already announced Brownstock in Essex and will be releasing other dates as soon as the official announcements have been made.

This aircraft is not full. I’m in seat 24D and there is plenty of space further back. Not worth moving now though. I’m listening to my faves playlist in random mode. Now playing Bronchi Beat, Smalltown Boy. Saw Jimmy Sommerville live at the Flashback Festival a couple of years ago. He was brilliant.

192 miles to go. Dive dive dive. Or is that a nautical/submariner term?

One of the nice things about getting back to the UK is the restoration of mobile data. This time I’ll have to get in touch with EE because they have charged me for the complimentary 10GB I received on the last day of the coast to coast. Their systems are rubbish.

We are now over the North Sea. Cold down there. Brr. I’m sat behind the emergency exit row. This one has a huge amount of legroom. I tend not to go for exit rows because the seats don’t recline and I don’t like the responsibility of having to open the door if we crash. Never happened ops, cross fingers etc. In fact I’m not sure I’ve ever heard of an aircraft that has ditched and when’re passengers have had to make their way out through the emergency exits. Normally you only hear of the search for bits of the plane after the accident/incident.

Looks like we will be coming in over the Thames estuary. Don’t have a window seat so won’t see much. I don’t normally bother with a window seat for ease of access but the view could be quite good today.

House the Rising Sun. One of my party pieces.

Feeling reasonably good. Glad I had an early night last night. Early ish. Not as bad as the 4.40am I saw Paul Thornton announce on Facebook. Urgh. I’d say we were now over mainland Uniteeed Kingdurme.  Nearly there now. Feels as if we are getting a straight run in although I’m not an expert on these things.

I have listened to music all the way.

Just been told we are in a holding pattern! Doh. It’s 16 degrees in Landan. I’m wearing jeans and a Hawaiian shirt with linen jacket. Shorts would have been preferable but they need a wash. Both pairs. Och wheel.

Nothing really rocks and nothing really rolls and nothing’s ever worth the cost.

The featured image btw is of last night’s show and not Copenhagen Airport although it looks as if it could be a flying piano coming in to land:)

Warpigs and the Little Mermaid

Thursday, May 26th, 2016

touristy bits and beer

Slow start after a 2am finish. Urgh. The sun has left us today so I think we have seen the best of the weather for this trip. Looking ahead at the weather back home it isn’t good either. Back to normal UK spring & summer conditions.

May has been an exhausting month and I’m looking forward to a few quiet days at home. It’s quite pleasant sitting in my home office/conservatory at this time of year whatever the weather. I’ll be able to get on with the coast to coast walk video.

Skipped breakfast today. Bit of a lie in. These conferences are long days and hard work. Did think about popping out this afternoon to see the Royal Palace. Supposed to be worth a visit. We passed it en route to and from the Little Mermaid Statue last night. The Little Mermaid was surrounded by what looked like a bus load of Japanese tourists and was a metre or two away from the water’s edge so I didn’t get right up to her.

Ended up eating oysters, prawns and what looked like baby lobsters at a fish restaurant whose name totes escapes me and thence to Warpigs, a cool if noisy bar in the meatpacking district. The others walked back to the hotel but Baz, Greg and I nipped in a cab and ended up in the Mash bar on the 12th floor of the hotel. We avoided the whisky bof which would have had bad consequences.

Next step is to nip down to the meeting and see who has yet to surface which I suspect will be most of them.

Terrific Tivoli

Wednesday, May 25th, 2016

Truly Terrific Tivoli

Wow. Was totally bowled over by the Tivoli Gardens last night. Seriously high class park in the middle of town. Stages (I saw some ballet), funfair, restaurants and a general nice environment to walk around of an evening.

The RIPE72 social was there, in a bar/restaurant called Woodhouse. The food wasn’t really up to much and the minute it came out it was snapped up by hungry partygoers but it didn’t detract from the overall experience.

Richard and I bailed out at around 11ish but I heard that some didn’t finish partying until 6.30 am. Can’t do that anymore, if I ever could.

This evening we are off out to eat in Noordhaven, taking in the statue of the Little Mermaid en route, and then finishing off in some trendy warehousey area where there are lots of good bars. Apparently.

From reading these diary entries you might think that I did nothing but partying but you would of course be wrong. Work goes on but tbh this is not a work blog. It is my social blog so I’m not going to bore you with internet plumbing type stuff.

Wonderful wonderful Copenhagen

Tuesday, May 24th, 2016

Arrived in Copenhagen late afternoon on Sunday. The experience was good. My bag was one of the first to pop out on the baggage reclaim belt. The taxi had wifi and I  was able to create and upload an 80MB video whilst en route to the hotel.

The hotel is nice. I have a room on the 8th floor. We had dinner at sticks and sushi on the top floor. Amongst the best sushi I have had. The only downside was that nobody came to service the room yesterday. I got them to bring me some more towels anyway but will need to make sure it is done today. If for no other reason than I’m out of shampoo.

Last night we were entertained by Barry O’Donovan of INEX. He is a good lad. Took us to a wine bar called Bibendum where we drank Chateau Neuf Du Pape and ate cheese and charcuterie. Billed as a Ripe Cheese and Wine evening. Top notch. Ended up back in Sticks and Sushi for drinks until about 1.30 am!

To cap it all I discovered at breakfast that they had HP Sauce available. Denmark is a truly civilised country.

back from barca and beyond

Sunday, May 22nd, 2016

On the plane again. Heading for Copenhagen via LHR. Had a very productive time in Barcelona. .

Out to dinner at Los Caracoles again last night. Table for 5 in the kitchen. Prior to that we had been to see Sagrada Familia and then on to the beach so that we could paddle in the Mediterranean.

The experience wt Barcelona airport wasn’t great. My line to get through security took ages as every other person seemed to set off the alarm going through the scanner and had to be individually checked. Then once through we queued for at least half an hour to get through passport control. There was only one officer on duty for the EC queue. Not very impressed tbh.

Now on the plane and having to have my earphones in because the guy sat next to me has cheapo ones and I can hear his tinny music.

It is a Sunday. The days have seemed to blur into one this month and the actual name of the day feels irrelevant. I’m quite looking forward to getting some quiet nights in at home. It will be summer by the time I get there. I’ve missed practically all of May.

Just finished On Liberty by Shami Chakrabarti. A very good book in defence of the Human Rights Act that the government wants to get rid of. I’m going to join Liberty. A few years ago I participated in a panel at a meeting against the Snooper’s Charter at Imperial College. Shami was also on the panel – she was very impressive. She is often on the TV and radio nowadays.

The flight passed pleasantly enough. We had a tailwind and have been able to catch up on time lost with a delay leaving Barca.


Saturday, May 21st, 2016

Breakfast in dimly lit room when it should have been on terrace outside

Cab to meeting room – windowless with non functioning air conditioning


Afterwards beer by pool

Dinner looking out over city – best views in town, tapas, lamb, cheese

Barcelona bound – Thursday

Saturday, May 21st, 2016

Barca, cha cha cha

Sat on the plane headed for Barca. The good ole French air traffic controllers are on strike again so the flight was delayed by around half an hour and is now being rerouted around 3 sides of a square – Belgium, Germany and Switzerland. A revised flight time of 2 hours 45 mins instead of 2 hours. One wonders whether French air traffic controllers have particularly stringent entrance requirements for bolshiness?

I have a lot of video editing to be getting on with pursuant to the coast to coast but a) the space on the table in front of me isn’t enough and b) I still need to download some of the vids and pics. I did a bit but am now contenting myself with listening to ma fave tunes, reading a bit of my Shami Chakrabarti book “On Liberty” and tapping in some thoughts. You will want to know that I am being a good boy and laying off the alcohol on this flight. Figured I’d enjoy myself more tonight then.

Had breakfast in the Crowne Plaza this morning. Place was full of grey suits. Sheep. People on the treadmill. They need to re-evaluate their life balance. I am wearing a particularly loud Hawaiian shirt, a non matching pair of shorts and some deck shoes, no socks. I think this is appropriate for the searing 19 or 20 degrees we will encounter in Espana.

This is my second trip to Barcelona this year. I like Barcelona. V civilized. I’m away for almost two weeks. Got back from Brussels yesterday and then off to the RIPE meeting in Copenhagen on Sunday. Got to be done.

Papa was a rollin’ stone. That’s what’s in me earphones at the moment 🙂 I like the idea of the occasional bit of rollin’. I like home as well though. I’ll have been away for most of May. Daft really considering May is probably the nicest month of the year.

I also have another tooth giving me gyp. Same as the one that was eventually extracted but on the other side. Hmm. I am in the aisle seat. 13D. Woman in the window seat has brought some healthy food options from Pret a Manger instead of relying on the crap they dish out on the plane. It’s an idea for the future. Don’t know quite how I got to 54 with all the international travel I have under my belt, without realising this. Classically I eat at the airport before boarding but not today. at 11.10 it was too soon after breakfast.

Airline travel is v boring. Not at all glamorous. It’s the one time when it is definitely not “better to travel hopefully than to arrive”. Much better to have got there and start doing what you are going there for in this case.

Moved on to “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door”. Bob Dylan. The dropping of the g’s in these song titles is my own decision. I don’t know if they do that really.

The curtains have been drawn between pleb class and business class. I’m in pleb class on this occasion. I sometimes pay for the upgrade. Depends on the flight and cost. Some people opt to sit in the row immediately behind business class. This is not my thing. I don’t want to be sat there staring at some curtains and perhaps occasionally catching a glimpse of the champagne being doled out up front. Innit?

Only 20 mins to land apaz. Note the wiv it lingo. At least it’s what the kids might say. Probs. Innit.

This flight is totally full and there are two additional flight attendants sat in the jump seats at the rear. An earlier flight was cancelled. Ah well. They have run out of supplies. It’s a by product of this not really being a demanding flight on supplies normally combined with being full and taking an additional 45 minutes. I’m ok. I had glass of sparking water and an orange juice. Copied the two sat next to me. Seemed like a good plan.

Just passing Marseille. Hannah and I were there in February last year. It was her first introduction to life int the internet fast lane. She has now got herself a graduate trainee job at Colt Telecom which I think is great. Initially doing internal communications and corporate social responsibility. A fun job to start her career. Hannah will do well. I am proud of her:) Note I am proud of all my kids. Anne and I are lucky parents.

Tapping my foot and nodding my head to the music. This is one of those brain dump posts. Whatever comes to mind without really giving it any real thought. I’m pretty relaxed. I think it’s a function of having finished the coast to coast. That was such a tough fortnight that gave you little time to think of much else other than putting one sore foot in front of another I have come out of it totally relaxed. First time I’ve ever experienced that feeling I think.

Feeling sorry for the woman sat diagonally opposite me. There is a small kid behind her banging a toy car on the back of her seat. Parent is trying to control the sitch but it is still going to be pretty annoying.

It’s minus 41 degrees outside.  I wouldn’t last long in my gear. We are of course very high up. Right cabin crew prepare for landing…

A farewell to the European Parliament

Wednesday, May 18th, 2016

bomb scare, parmesan cheese, cherry tomatoes and Westvleteren

Interesting day at the Netaxis office in Brussels. Their office is in the shadow of the European Parliament and today we found that we couldn’t go out to lunch because of a Brussels bomb scare. Both ends of the street were cordoned off and after a minute or two outside we were asked to go back in as there was potentially going to be a controlled explosion.

We did not go hungry. There was a chunk of parmigiano and some cherry tomatoes in the kitchen so we all sat around eating those and drinking a rare trappist beer called Westvleteren.

After an hour or so the all clear was given and I headed to the airport early just in case there was further trouble. Brussels airport is a serious dump. It presumably is being renovated but I caught it at it’s worst. The taxi dropped you in a compound and the walk was tedious including all the way up one of those corkscrew shaped carpark ramps.

I’m now in the Diamond Lounge having forked out 26.77E to avoid sitting at the gates for 4 hours. I’ve had a light salad and a beer and am now tucking in to a dubious G&T. At least the tonic is dubious. The gin is Bombay Sapphire.

When I get to Heathrow all I need to do is find the Crowne Plaza, watch Liverpool in the Cup Final and hit the hay.

Pics of Brussels trip.

Pan fwyf yn hen a pharchus, ac arian yn fy nghod
A bob beirniadaeth drosodd, a phawb yn canu’m clod
Fe brynaf bwthyn unig, heb ddim o flaen ei ddor
Ond creigiau Aberdaron, a thonnau gwyllt y mor

Apologies if I got some of the grammar wrong. One of my fave poems.


Tuesday, May 17th, 2016

Sproutless Brussels – a trip to Belgium

In Belgium today. Brussels. Had breakfast at  chocolatier in the Congo quarter (it’s either called that or something related to the Congo) near the European Parliament. Not much action around the Parliament itself. It was deserted immediately outside the building (s).

You had a choice of what percentage of chocolate you wanted in your drink. I had 50%. Manuel had 83%. I tried his. Not as nice as mine. Not creamy enough. I dunked a croissant in mine. I left the chocolate that came with the chocolate drink. So did Manuel.

Tonight I’m off out for a few beers. I’ll find an area with some bars. Last night I arrived lateish so stuck to the hotel. Got a room upgrade which is very nice. I am staying at the Thon Hotel Bristol Stephanie. Very nice. It’s a 10 min taxi from where my meetings are. I got the wrong one. There is another Bristol Stephanie  3 minute walk from the office. Ah well.

Had oysters and a Maes beer for lunch, plus steak frites. The beer was 5.2% – lightest on offer. They are crazy these Belgians. Most of the office came out. There was a new starter called Norman in. He was French I think, or Belgian.

Fairly miserable taxi driver en route back to the hotel. His taxi needed a new gear box, or clutch or something. It was juddering a lot anyway. Perhaps that’s why he was such a miserable bugger. Back at the hotel now tapping in some characters before heading out into the night and going with the flow.

Featured image taken inside the coffee shop – lots of teas, chocolates and coffees on offer.

During the coast to coast walk diary operations have moved to Back here now.

That’s all you are getting today though. Ciao amigos.