Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Have you seen this man?

I climbed off my branch in The 100 Acre Wood this morning and drove in to The Village to meet up with Tigger and other members of the team for some exiting meetings.

I wandered in to the Office a little before nine o'clock and imagine my horror when I noticed that Tigger has been kidnapped and replaced with a doppelgänger.  I quickly covered up my concerned look and put on my Poker Face. I then spent the rest of the day carefully acting as though nothing was out of the ordinary. I need to point out that it is a cunning deceit and the Double looked and acted exactly like Tigger. It is only my acute attention to detail that made me notice a minor difference in his coiffure that drew my attention to this devious abduction.

I wonder about the Kidnapper's nefarious aims as no ransom demand has yet been found.

Now that I am safely away from work I can now report the matter to the Authorities and do my best as a concerned citizen to assist in locating Tigger. I have therefore developed an "e-fit" picture of the suspect. If you see this man do not approach but report his presence at once to the nearest police officer.

Do not approach this man - he may be dangerous

Other Stuff: Does anyone know the escape velocity that needs to be achieved in order to draw my attention away from an unnaturally blond head?

Monday, 29 August 2011

Fair Game?

Not a lot to report for this Bank Holiday Monday. The morning was spent producing a vast batch of faggots* and these are now residing in the freezer.

On the home front a chap called round and gave us a truly outstanding quotation for some block paving that will resolve a couple of problem areas in the garden. We literally accepted the quote on the spot and he should be turning up with his gang in the next couple of weeks.

The afternoon saw a walk with T&M and this is where the title of this entry has a modicum of relevance. As we wandered round the Three Miler I noticed that the young pheasants had just been released from the rearing pens and were wandering up the road with less savvy than a teenager in a strip club ...

... unfortunately Tyson was quicker than me and charged up the road after them. They are now much more streetwise and Tyson was definitely put through her paces. They all escaped relatively unscathed.
* For anyone in the US, please don't take offence, these are a traditional UK "meatball" made from pork, onions, breadcrumbs, suet and liver. I have not taken to hurling insults about sexual preference in The Journal ...

... yet

Sunday, 28 August 2011

A soupcon of news

The jet-lag from the US trip has been pretty rough this time and I am only now getting anywhere near the UK time zone. 30% is affected similarly but as for TP, who knows! He is 14 and it is difficult to tell whether he is suffering the malaise of the International Jet Setter or is just being a teenager.

Today saw a little kitchen activity and I spent the morning preparing a batch of Pea and Ham soup for the freezer. Once that was simmering nicely T&M were walked and I was back home in time for lunch.

The afternoon saw a trip over to Hampton to visit 30%'s brother and his partner in their new house and we spent a happy hour or so chatting, drinking coffee and looking at the carnage that follows any house move. 30% did her best to offload surplus furniture from The Pile but didn't manage to pique their interest. I think she should have tried harder and her failure is full justification for a bonfire.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

First Blood

Nothing special was planned for Saturday, TP was away with his Mum to visit his Grandma in Surrey for a few days and 30% and I had a fairly leisurely day laid out before us. The aim was to get T&M walked and then bathed and then we would pop over to Solihull for some shopping leaving the dogs at home drying off.

So, having waved TP off, I started with the walk. We hadn't gone very far and had just entered a small patch of woodland at the edge of the village, T&M charged off in to the undergrowth and I heard a squeal. I assumed they had disturbed a rat and wandered on calling them to follow.  Marauder failed to appear which is unusual for her so I clambered through the brush to investigate. I found Marauder stood over the body of a rabbit with a sort of "what do I do now?" look on her face.

On closer examination the rabbit showed early signs of Myxomatosis which might explain how M managed to catch it. I was going to say that this is the first item of prey that Marauder has ever caught but that would be ignoring a few stray chickens that she has come across up by the Free Range Egg Farm. I have always managed to liberate these intact bar a few feathers and a ruffled disposition. This, however, is Marauder's first wild kill*.

The rest of the day went pretty much according to plan and the evening saw 30% and I sat on the sofa with a Thai Green Curry and two sweet smelling dogs.
* Mice** don't count
** If the plural of mouse is mice, is the plural of rats; rice?

Thursday, 25 August 2011

We're Back

Its Thursday and we are all settled back in at The Pile. The Jet Lag has been a little troublesome and TP and I were up and about at half past four in the morning on Wednesday. I seem to be over the worst of it but still cannot make it much past the first few minutes of the Ten o'clock News without falling asleep.

We picked up T&M from the kennels on the way back from Heathrow and that was a splendid reunion. We had a fantastic time in The States but we all really missed the dogs. I suppose it goes to show how much they are part of all of our lives. They seem to have had a great time at the kennels and have returned none the worse apart from the fact that they are very dirty and smell of horse shit! It seems that they have been exercised in a Manege and took great delight in rolling in the delicious smells that they found!

Tigger has done a most excellent job whilst I was away and I returned to a very manageable in-box. That has now been cleared and work is reasonably quiet as we wait for Local Country Agreements to be signed on the  current project and for the next project to kick off.

I took my first walk around the Three Miler this evening and note that the Blackberries are ripening. Marauder and I paused to eat a few as we wandered around. Tyson isn't particularly fussed about them but Marauder will pick them from the brambles herself. While we were away many of the fields were harvested in the long spell of dry weather and T&M now have acres of stubble to charge across.

I now have some 700 or more photos to trawl through to see which ones are worth inserting on to The Journal.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Journey Stats

US Miles Driven:  2,438
US States Visited:  7  (Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Idaho, Arizona, Wyoming & Montana)

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Day 14: Quote of the day

This Wal-Mart is crap. The last one sold guns and shit!

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Monday, 22 August 2011

Day 13: 24 Hours in Vegas

It's my third stay in this town and it still isn't growing on me.

I'm not a fan. Its cheap, it's tacky and every facet is designed to separate you from your cash whilst ensuring that you receive little if anything in return.

Everyone seems to do the same tired, zombie like trudge from shop to shop, hotel to hotel and casino to casino. They slurp lurid iced cocktails and clutch either burgers or wailing brats with the other hand.

There are those that sit chained to the one armed bandits pressing buttons. Gone is the reward of coins falling in the tray, both winnings and stake are added to or taken from a credit type card. They sit like patients in a dialysis unit rather than Gamers in a casino.

The Hens and Stags are all having a great time but it's not for me.

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Sunday, 21 August 2011

Day 12: Nephi, UT to Las Vegas, NV

Another 300 mile drive so it's numb bum again.

We arrived in the Sin City around three in the afternoon and checked in to New York New York.

A wander up the strip is the most significant achievement especially in 104 degrees of heat.

It is made of jelly beans

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Saturday, 20 August 2011

Day 11: Canyon, Yellowstone to Nephi, Utah

450 miles in one hit stopping only for fuel and coffee. I now have a numb bum.

We are on the long run back to Las Vegas. The total distance is over 750 miles but we have broken the back of it today. We have a little over 300 miles to do tomorrow.

The journey took us out of Yellowstone's West exit and along route 20 in to Idaho before taking the I 15 South past Salt Lake City.

The drive was a fairly easy run through farm land with mountain ranges an ever present backdrop. The only painful part was hitting Salt Lake City during rush hour and having bumper to bumper, stop/start traffic for an hour or more.

Nephi is a pleasant enough little town but the restaurant was dry! Thank Heavens we had a bottle of wine in the ice box. I needed a glass after today's drive.

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Friday, 19 August 2011

Day 10: Mammoth to Canyon

We took a quick wander around the Travertine terraces at Mammoth before we left this morning. They were impressive but I have a memory from nearly 20 years ago of climbing the terraces at Pamucale in Turkey and in my memories the Turks have it on size and gleaming whiteness. Of course I know how time distorts and have promised myself that I will unearth the old photos to compare.

After leaving Mammoth we took a brief detour in to the Lamar Valley as we had been advised that there was plenty of wildlife there. They were not wrong, within a few miles we had passed two herds of Bison each numbering at least 100 animals.

After a spot of Bison watching we returned to our route which took us over Mount Washburn. Near the summit we stopped for a break and 30% got chatting to a fellow visitor. She returned and excitedly informed is that there were reports of a Grizzly Bear a few miles down the road.

The "Bear Jam" came into view and we managed to find a parking place. For the next hour we watched as a solitary Grizzly wandered across the hillside 100 yards away rooting amongst the herbs. When it eventually disappeared from view we climbed back in to the car and were soon checking in to our cabin in Canyon.

This is not the Grizzly

After a leisurely afternoon we took a drive out to view the canyon and Falls before spending a fruitless hour watching a bison carcass in the hope of seeing scavenging wolves. None came but we had a great natter with two brothers-in-law touring the park.

Tomorrow we leave the park for the long drive back to Las Vegas.

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Thursday, 18 August 2011

Day 9: Old Faithful to Mammoth

If I see another fucking geyser or hot spring I swear I will go Postal.

Don't get me wrong, the geysers are impressive and the vivid colours of the hot springs are beautiful and alluring but you can definitely have too much of a good thing.

Day 3 of geyser spotting was definitely too much for me and I now see them simply as pools that smell like a neglected lavatory. Some of the ones I saw today were reasonably impressive and the chromatic pool was truly memorable but many of them looked and smelt like boiling puddles of Elk piss with twigs in them.

I think I am now at the point where I would say do the Old Faithful walks, visit the Chromatic Pool and the bubbling mud at Fountain Paint Pots and leave it that. To be cynically honest a boiling kettle or a deep hot bath after a week long vegan diet are a fair match for the rest of them.

We are now at Mammoth in the North of the park which is famous for it's travertine terraces. In my present humour these may be too close to geysers for my liking.

After days of scouting for wildlife Mammoth is a complete surprise as we are at much higher altitudes and there are Elk all over the place. They are literally wandering about in front of the hotel.

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Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Day 8: Bison Jam

This morning we were breakfasted and out of our cabin by half past eight. We spent the morning taking a leisurely three or four mile hike around the geysers that surround Old Faithful. Our early start meant that we were always well ahead of the crowds and it was only as we approached Hamilton's Store at lunchtime that we saw larger groups of people.

The walk was punctuated at short intervals with geysers and thermal pools and the highlights included seeing The Castle spout which it only does a couple of times each day. The thermal pools are quite mesmerising as the water is crystal clear and the colours and forms of the mineral and algal deposits are truly beautiful.

After lunch we wandered back past Old Faithful and stopped to chat with a couple from Florida. Actually we stopped to stroke their large black Golden Doodle and thought we had better talk to them too out of politeness as it has been a week now with no canine company and we do miss T & M.

We got to talking about the park wildlife and they advised us to drive the 90 mile South Yellowstone loop as there was a 200 head herd of bison on the meadows between Canyon and Fishing Bridge.

So that was our afternoon sorted. The drive was a gentle 45 mph run through forest, open meadows and rolling hills. Yellowstone's volcanic history was never far away and from time to time a geyser or steaming vent came in to view.

Within a few miles we found our first wildlife as a group of four Elk cows sunned themselves by the roadside. Further on we were halted by our first "Elk Jam" as we crawled a mile or more to where a bull Elk was grazing by the roadside. The photos were a more than adequate reward for the wait to see such a fine animal.

Further on 30% excitedly called us to a halt as she had spotted a solitary Bison Bull resting by the road. As we took photos a Biker slowed and shouted that there were 200 just down the road. He hadn't exaggerated. Once we reached the end of the traffic queue were were rewarded with a herd of Bison and they are truly magnificent beasts. We even saw a bull swim across the river directly alongside the car and then shake off the water and dust bathe less than 20 yards away.

The real treat was a mile or so further on where we pulled in to a wooded picnic area where a dozen or more bison were resting in the shade. There were cows with light tan coloured calves and also a fine snorting and grunting bull who was escorting a cow that was obviously about to come in to season.

We arrived back at OF a little after seven and relaxed before dinner at The Old Faithful Lodge.
Quote of the day: Ye Gods TP it smells like privy at Midsummer.

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Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Day 7: Grand Tetons to Yellowstone

Today we took our leave of Jackson Hole and headed on to Yellowstone National Park. Our chosen route was up through the Teton Park and we took the slower, narrow road from the Park entrance towards Teton Village. The road runs alongside the Snake River and we were rewarded with a close encounter with a cow moose. TP grabbed a couple of photos before the traffic build up forced us to move on.

The drive up to Yellowstone was an easy 70 miles of gently curving roads through forest interspersed with sunny meadows. We are staying in a cabin* a stones throw from the Old Faithful Geyser and arrived in the early afternoon. This gave us enough time to see Old Faithful do it's stuff a couple of times and take a walk around Geyser Hill before supper up at the Lodge. After dinner we sat out on the veranda and watched the sun set behind Old Faithful. A great end to the day.

Mineral Spring near Old Faithful, Yellowstone
* think "shed with a bed"

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Monday, 15 August 2011

Day 6 continued

The planned early start didn't happen and instead we started with a leisurely, al fresco breakfast before taking a drive through the park.

We eventually arrived in Teton Village;a ski resort at the foot of Rendezvous Mountain. We took the lift to the 10,000 foot summit and enjoyed a brief stroll before settling at the mountain top cafe to enjoy the views in the company of a beer.

Back down in Teton Village we took another lift up to a restaurant where 30% partook of a champagne cocktail and we shared a couple of appetisers. Again the views were truly spectacular and the great food and drink added a touch of luxury to the splendour of the vista ....

.... However there was an "even better than that" moment as we saw our first Moose relaxing in the shade as we rode the lift to the top.

Tomorrow we set out for Yellowstone which is some 70 miles North.

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Day 6: Beer & Cocktails on a Mountain

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Sunday, 14 August 2011

Day 5: Grand Tetons National Park

Today we took a short drive out of Jackson Hole and had our first day in the Grand Tetons National Park. It is quite a small park by US standards being only 25 miles by about 45,

The views are dominated by the Teton range that still bear snow in the middle of August.

We parked up by Jenny Lake and took the shuttle boat to the far shore where we took a short but strenuous walk up Cascade Canyon to the Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point.

In the afternoon I settled down with my book on the shore of String Lake. TP and 30% swam in this glacial lake and by their squeals it lived up to this description.

This evening saw us in prime seats for America's oldest sport ...

... Yes, we went to the Jackson Rodeo and had a great couple of hours watching all the Rodeo staples including Bull Riding, Barrel Racing and Calf Roping.

Tomorrow we plan to have an early start in an attempt to spot some of the larger wildlife before they lie up to avoid the heat of the day.

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Saturday, 13 August 2011

Day 4: Vernal Ut to Jackson Wy

Today was always going to be a long, long drive. The Mapquest website indicates that it is 285 miles and estimates the journey time at just under 6 hours.

We therefore planned to leave Vernal early and keep on going until we arrived in Jackson which is just outside the Grand Tetons National Park in Wyoming.

Before leaving we made the traditional holiday visit to Walmart. I have to be honest here and admit that this is visit #2. Visit #1was yesterday and I now have three pairs of jeans to have taken up when I get home! Today's visit was to pick up a replacement SLR and I walked out with a new Canon EOS 550D.

The journey was fine. The views were fantastic and we arrived in Jackson around three o'clock. I did score top marks in the game of roadkill i-spy when I spotted a dead coyote en route. It certainly beats the flabbits back home.

Jackson is a pleasant little town, a little touristy perhaps but fine all the same. I carried on my shopping spree here and now have a new hat to replace the Stetson that received Marauder's attention a few months ago.

TP and 30% were also bitten by the shopping bug and I see a handbag purchase coming up. I'm not so sure that a stuffed bison head is going to make it back home though.

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Friday, 12 August 2011

Day 3: A slight change of plan

The original plan for today was to travel up to Dinosaur, Co but things didn't pan out quite as we expected, however let's recount things in chronological order.

We Breakfasted in Moab, Ut before returning to Arches National Park to continue yesterday's sightseeing. It is a truly beautiful and breathtaking place and we spent the morning driving through the park stopping frequently to walk out to the many viewpoints. In true US National Parks Service style most major sights are easily reached via well built paths only a short walk from the frequent roadside car parks. This is a boon as, although we enjoy a good walk, 30% is still recovering from her broken foot.

I amused myself giving new names to the rock formations and congratulated myself on "the proud sheep", "the dragon" and "the chameleon" but then things got out of hand and a ranger asked me to leave after a particularly prominent column was christened "mademoiselle's pleasurer"*.

After lunch we took our leave of Arches and started out for Dinosaur some 200 miles away. The I 70 soon took us out of Utah's canyons and desert and before long we were on route 139 taking in Colorado's farm lands, mountains and valleys.

We had planned to stay in Dinosaur and take a brief detour through the Dinosaur National Monument. The Dinosaur Quarry is closed until October 2011 when the new Visitor Centre will open so we knew that the main feature was "out of order". It was therefore a fairly easy decision to push on to Vernal when we found that both Dinosaur and Jensen had no accommodation available. Dinosaur incidentally is a rats arse of a place where the most attractive feature was a yard full of scrap cars. Talk about trading on a name, avoid it all costs!

So here we are in Vernal and tomorrow will see us drive nearly 250 miles to Jackson Wy; the entrance to the Grand Tetons National Park.
* this may not be true

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Thursday, 11 August 2011

Day 2: Bryce Canyon to Arches National Park

Today saw us head out on route 12 from Bryce Canyon National Park. Our first stop was only a few miles down the road where we took a brief detour to the Kodachrome Basin State Park before heading on to Escalante to take in the sights of the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument*.

This was one of the last areas of the USA to be mapped due to the remote and rugged terrain and the road we drove between Escalante and Boulder was not completed until the 1940s. Prior to this mail was brought in by mules. The views across the plateau are truly breathtaking.

Today has been a day away from the Interstate routes driving through some of the most beautiful canyon country. Our final destination of Arches National Park truly topped everything we have seen so far. The eroded red sandstone structures are truly awe inspiring to one more used to Britain's more conservative geography and geology.

Courthouse Towers

3,500 tons of Balanced Rock

North & South Windows

This evening we are staying in Moab which is positively cosmopolitan after yesterday's stop in Tropic where we were informed that the resident horse had left in search of adventure.
* one of the wildlife highlights of the day was Humming Birds at Escalante. They were charming but I have decreed that my holiday will not be complete until I see a Mountain Lion and a Bear in death duel over the corpse of a Buffalo.

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Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Day 1: Las Vegas to Bryce Canyon

We arrived in Vegas last night at about 8pm local time and were shattered as our body clocks were saying 4 in the morning.

The reserved Pontiac G6 was not available from Avis and we were given a Subaru Impreza instead. TP and I expected a WRX. How wrong were we. It was about the size of a VW Golf and had a tiny boot. We used it to get to our hotel and then swapped it for a Nissan Maxima first thing this morning. "First thing" really was first thing as the aforementioned jet lag had us wide awake at a little after three a.m.

So We were heading North out of Vegas on the I15 before eight in the morning. We are headed for Bryce Canyon and will cover somewhere in the region of 220 miles to get there. Bryce is a US National Park best known for it's hoodoos. These are rock columns formed as a result of rain and snow melt erosion.

We had a great day taking in the splendour of America's Open vistas and took a short hike down into the canyon to get a different perspective on these fantastic structures.

It has been a great fist day only slightly marred by the fact that my Canon SLR has had a hissy fit and refuses to do anything but display an error 99 code. I am not best impressed that I am now hauling a very expensive/worthless bag of camera kit around !

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Monday, 8 August 2011


A Sunny Day at Heathrow T5 - Not!

Here's a thought; why do they have luggage shops at airports? I cannot think of very many situations that would necessitate the purchase of a new suitcase at an airport. I'll acknowledge that a last minute Samsonite malfunction might require a replacement to be bought at check-in but I doubt that this is the basis for a successful business model.

If anyone has any suggestions please let me know as I have never seen anyone in an airport car park with arms full of clothing that they plan to pack in the Departure Lounge.
Other Stuff
Chippy Ian arrived this morning to start fitting our new windows. The first one was offered in to place before we left for the airport and it looks fantastic compared to the nasty double glazed units that are being replaced. By the time we get home he will have finished and that is the last major job that the house needs. As 30% glibly puts it "it's just decorating from here on in" ...

... "yes Dear"

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Sunday, 7 August 2011

I'll be back...

... and so we reach Sunday.

The lawn has been mown, the bags have been packed, T&M have been taken to the kennels. 30%'s brother Stevie has been briefed and will take on house sitting duties for the next two weeks.

We are now ready to leave apart from those last minute items that need to be used on the day of departure. I must admit that I have a rather blasé approach to packing. I work on the principal that I need a credit card, my tickets, passport and insulin. So long as I have that I can work through most problems. It is therefore surprising that 30% always asks me to pack the cases. Apparently I am better at tucking objects in to cases than her ...

... mind you, having seen the state of the Dishwasher when she attempt to fill it, I shudder at the thought of what her case would look like!

I'm not sure whether there will be any Journal entries over the next couple of weeks. I have my i-Phone so they are a possibility but I make no promises.

So to anyone who reads this nonsense I will say "bye for now and I'll see you in a couple of weeks".


bad man

Friday, 5 August 2011

Don't ask me

So here we are. It is Friday and my last day at work for a couple of weeks.

The day started with the regular early morning chat with Tigger where much laughing took place and some work was apparently done. Tigger is running the show for the next couple of weeks and will start with a deserved trip to Boston where he will spend 5 days doing 45 minutes work :-)

Most of my day was spent tying up loose ends and ensuring key activities would be progressed. I did have an Executive escalation call that I was not looking forward to. I was presenting someone else's material and was concerned that I would get interrogated to a level deeper than my understanding. Fortunately the Gods smiled upon me and basically my working day ended there.

I took T&M out for an early walk as today is Bad Man Senior's 79th Birthday. We met up with BM Snr, Step Mum Sue and Brother for Dinner at a local hostelry. It was a lovely evening but was most definitely not a late one and we were back home well before the News at 10.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Another early start

Today was another five thirty start. This time I was down in London at Canary Wharf for a Customer meeting. I didn’t have to present and didn’t get any questions so had quite a pleasant couple of hours before we trundled in to the Central London Circle of Hell for another meeting with the Client.

This was less pink and fluffy and a lot more down in to the nitty gritty. It went very well but it rapidly became apparent that our American Colleagues, on both sides, have been a little economical with the truth and a little slapdash with the facts when we originally developed our Proposal…

… I see some challenging conversations will be held over the next few months but first we need them to sign our UK Contract - appropriate Executive pressure was applied.

I then had time for a couple of gins with a colleague before sampling the delights of the British Public Transport system**. With the 2012 Olympics only 12 months away I have this message for London Commuters and Olympic Ticket holders…


* My Consumer advise would be to flog the tickets on e-Bay and use the proceeds to buy a “Fuck Off” big flat screen telly and watch them from the comfort of your own home
** Take the train, you can work, you can stretch your legs, there are refreshments.  So how come my experience mainly seems to be having my head repeatedly banged by a wide range of elbows and suitcases and being presented with a table flap that is not big enough to hold my laptop so that the screen is readable. Let's also not forget the oh, so smooth ride that means that every single word is mistyped as I am jolted from side to side.  Do not, I repeat DO NOT get me started on the toilets either. In summary the train is fine so long as you are not hungry, have emptied your bladder first and just want to sleep until you reach your destination. In fact the train is great if this is your plan as you invariably find you get to sleep for longer than planned due to convenient points failures or, in my case, a dead train blocking the platform at Oxford

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

I really needed another couple of hours ...

... for some strange reason I was very tired when the alarm went off at seven o’clock this morning. I think it was probably all down to dealing with the pressure of yesterday’s session and the trials we had to endure to actually reach the venue. I am sure this must be right as Tigger felt exactly the same.

The morning session was a quiet affair and we closed everything down at lunchtime. I then had a quick meeting with my Boss before we climbed back in the Land Rover and head back to the Sunny Shires.

It was nice to have a relatively relaxed day after the hassle of running this damned hand-over session. The actual presentation side of things was straightforward it is the buggering about arranging things that was a Grade A pain in the arse.

Other Stuff

30% has had a hectic couple of days as she has been running the house, looking after TP and had to prepare a Presentation in under 12 hours for an internal interview that was held this morning. She felt it went well so we wait with fingers crossed for news.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

They say bad things happen in threes

Well Tigger and me really put that to the test this morning. Let me explain ….

… Today is the first day of our hand-over session. We have spent the past couple of weeks herding cats in an attempt to get this damned thing arranged and we must run the meeting so that the Delivery Guys understand what they are supposed to be doing.  The session was scheduled to start at ten o’clock in a Hampshire town that has nothing famous to brag about. *

I dutifully hauled my sorry arse out of bed at five thirty**, performed ablutions and got in the Defender to drive over to Tigger’s house. The plan was to drive down in Tigger’s car. I arrived at the hollowed out volcano to find Tigger outside shouting “Fuck” repeatedly at his car. On enquiring as to the nature of the problem he said “Fuck” some more and then advised that his immobilizer was working rather too well. This was obviously Bad Thing #1 and we rapidly decided that the Defender would be the car of choice to travel down to sunny Hampshire – problem solved.

As I loaded Tigger’s bag in to the capacious rear I had a moment of self doubt. This rapidly turned in to another “Oh Fuck” moment as a quick check revealed that, in the early morning rush, I had managed to leave my wallet thirty miles away on top of the microwave. I said “Fuck” a few more times and considered going back to get it but that would totally screw our start time. This was obviously Bad Thing #2. Tigger did the honourable thing and offered to fund my trip on his corporate card and I could sort refunds out when we got home – problem solved.

So off we started towards our destination and had a quite delightful trip across the Cotswolds. After a while we hit the M4 and then the M3 and I noticed a sign for our destination. I mentioned this to Tigger who was in the Navigator’s seat. He calmly said that we were fine on the Motorway and should not turn off. I followed his instructions as I was unfamiliar with the route but got very concerned when I recognised a roundabout and remonstrated that we were headed for an entirely different Circle of Hell to the one we were supposed to be at. This was obviously Bad Thing #3. Tigger then said “Fuck” some more and then put the correct location in to the Satellite Navigation app. We had gone about 20 miles out of our way but had plenty of time in reserve so wouldn’t be late – problem solved.

Now some people might think, that after that start, the day would have been a nightmare but we arrived in plenty of time, our Agenda was good and our presentations were well received. To be honest it couldn’t really have gone any better and by 4.30 were had finished the first day’s session and were headed back to the hotel.

Yes – this might be the start of Bad Thing #4. It was very hot, we were very tired and we had all managed to persuade the hotel receptionist that we were worthy of complimentary drinks vouchers. I did have to do the Shrek Cat Face as part of my plea but I did get a free pint of Stella. The more I think about this the less I remember but apparently we did have a very funny night and a great Thai meal and did stay up until two o’clock in the morning.

I did some subtle checking and there was no suggestion that I committed any crimes as I do have a tendency to get a little over excited when I’m drunk.
* We Googled it and it really does have nothing of interest to see and nothing of interest has ever happened there. That probably makes it unique in the British Isles and I may mention that to the town council. They might like to use it in their next “Come to Best Soaking***” Town Promotional material.
** Please make a mental note of this early hour as it may help explain later events
*** This is an anagram

Monday, 1 August 2011

5 Days to go ...

... the Count Down has officially started. I have just five days left at work before we head off to America for our Summer Holiday. It is going to be a very busy week and I have a few significant meetings to get through before I can click "Enable" on my Out Of Office message.