Monday, 30 March 2015

Starting Problems

At the moment I seem to have real problems settling to my work on a Monday morning. It may be because my weekends have been so busy that I am using Monday as down-time rather than doing what I am supposed to be doing.

It doesn't help that I had a string of non-work activities that I needed to address and each of these had the tendency to divert my attention from my laptop. The first of these was to run T&M in to the dog groomers. At eight o'clock sharp I introduced them to the back of the new Land Rover* and headed in to Redditch. With no dog guard in the car, I was concerned about whether they would try to climb on to the back seats but they just sat down and took in the views.

I was back at my desk before nine but was unable to give my full attention to my work. I needed to keep an ear open for the delivery of slate for our steps and also for a chap from Hogan Bros who was coming to collect the Range Rover's Venture Cam.** Ultimately there would be the call to collect T&M too. None of these were particularly significant interruptions but for some reason I found it hard to apply myself knowing that I would need to step away from my desk.

The day crawled onward, the domestic activities were completed and, between times, I even managed to do some work, although far less than I should have!

As five o'clock passed I stepped away from my desk and tidied myself … This evening we had tickets for a performance of Jeeves and Wooster in Perfect Nonsense at the Malvern Winter Gardens. I have to say that it was a fabulous play that was laugh out loud funny from start to finish. It's three man cast included Robert Web playing Bertie Wooster and it was hilarious in an almost Milliganesque fashion as the supporting actors switched characters, often midway through an act. The humour was multi level from Wodehouse's farcical stories and characterisation to visual gags based on the scenery and props. Christopher Ryan*** playing an 8' fascist was hysterical as he is not a tall man and made much use of a small table and a very long leather coat.

I absolutely loved this play and gave it an unreserved 10/10. It was the best piece of theatre and comedy I have seen in a very long time.
* They leapt straight in. The split tail gate of the Range Rover was higher and seemed to confuse them as they needed to jump up on to a shelf sticking out in mid air. The Defender seems lower and it is far easier for them to judge their jump in to the back of the car.
** I had conveniently forgotten to leave this in the car as I had intended to sell it on eBay.
*** Mike from The Young Ones

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Another busy day

I was hoping for a quieter Sunday, but I am not sure that it was.

First  task of the day was to pull the neck on the last of our chickens. It was an ancient Minorca who was well past her prime. I don't think she had laid an egg for a very long time and, consequently, was of no use to Kathy. I really don't like killing anything so this was a job that I was not looking forward to. It was a quick death, but it doesn't get any easier.

Next on the list was a trip in to Redditch to pick up milk, diesel and a crook lock for the Defender. The Station Wagon may have two immobilisers and an alarm, but it is currently parked in the lay-by as our drive is blocked by Hayden's skip. I much prefer a visible deterrent as well as the electronic measures to put off the ne'er-do-wells.

Having finished running around, and resolving a misunderstanding about the Defender's jack,* I found time to settle with the Enfield's rear light and indicators. I finally had all necessary connectors, grommets and other shit that would allow me to run the cable under the mud guard, exit through a neatly drilled hole and connect up to the lights. So I spent a happy hour snipping off the old bullet connectors, threading the cable through the hole in the mud guard and holding it in place with the cable tie mounts I had epoxied in place a week ago.

Progress was disturbed by lunch and then 30% and I headed out around a wet and blustery Three Miler with the dogs. Upon our return I was persuaded to assist TP with his latest escapade …

… One of his friends was selling their drum kit at a give-away price so the Defender was required to perform load lugging duties. I let TP drive and he declared the Land Rover even more invincible than the last one as he trundled around the village. We took a minor detour so that we could dispose of the chicken carcass out on the Three Miler where the foxes will take it away. A few minutes later we pulled up at his friend's house. Money changed hands and the drum kit was loaded in to the Defender while I was hassled by a rather senile grand mother who a) wouldn't leave me alone and b) wouldn't shut the fuck up. As we drove off TP opined that "they are all fucking crazy, apart from Frank".

Back at home I returned to the Enfield's rear light. I finished crimping the new connectors and went on to finally bolt the rear mud guard in to place. The lights were connected up and the number plate carrier was bolted on. I went on to connect the battery and test my wiring … It all worked perfectly, first time.
It has taken me weeks to get this sorted
The electrics cover was bolted in place and I even managed a trial fit of the seat. I didn't get very far as the front bracket is too wide and will need to be ground back before it will slot in to the frame. I was too tired to take on that job so declared an end to my labours and joined 30% in the kitchen with a celebratory beer.

I am so looking forward to our week in Wales.
* It has a tiny bottle jack, stowed by the battery, rather than the four foot long, high lift jack I was expecting to see stowed under the second row seating.

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Say Hello, Wave Goodbye

Today was the day that we said goodbye to the Range Rover.

After nine months of ownership we have realised that it is just not us* and that a Defender Station Wagon is a far better compromise of load carrier, towing vehicle and general run-around for a small family with three large dogs. The Range Rover was a beautiful car with a gorgeous interior but I never really bonded with it and I hated the fucking automatic gear box. It was way too slow and, for most of the time I drove it, I was sat behind the wheel urging the damned thing to change up … and, as for the split tail gate, that was just a stupid design feature that made getting stuff out of the cavernous boot unnecessarily difficult.

I don't think I'll miss it.

First thing this morning I transferred the final few hundred pounds across to Hogan Bros and rang to let them know. They advised that yesterdays ten grand had arrived and they trusted me about the balance … I could pop over any time to sort out paperwork and pick up the Station Wagon.

This became something of a family outing as TP wanted to come to collect the new Defender and 30%'s Audi has finally had it's electrical problem identified and resolved. We all climbed in to the Range Rover and headed over to Alcester where 30% was dropped off at the Audi specialist to collect her car.** TP and I continued in to Redditch and swapped the Range Rover for the new Defender.

It is quite lovely. It is a 110 County Station Wagon in a dark, metallic grey with the Land Rover XS half-leather trim. TP was particularly taken by the privacy glass in the rear windows and declared us even more invincible as this Defender was even bigger than the last one.

We headed off out of Redditch and our first journey was a trip over to Worcester to pick up the newly serviced chainsaw. We arrived home to grab a coffee, feed the dogs and wait for 30% … she had headed on to Stratford after picking up her car to complete a few errands.

30% arrived home some thirty minutes later and we lunched before she took the Defender out for a spin. Having got used to the Range Rover's massive size, she adapted well to the CSW and was soon at ease with the gearbox and controls … We both just need to remember that we no longer have front or rear parking sensors!

After the test drive TP and I completed a circuit of the Three Miler with the dogs. There was little time to relax upon our return as he needed to prepare for a shift at the pub and 30% and I needed to head back in to Redditch for her sister's birthday tea.  We had a pleasant enough time munching cake, drinking weak tea and chatting with the family but I have to admit that the Birthday Girl has a totally fucked up value system and this grated with my sensibilities. Repeated references to unpaid bills, fraud scams and her concerns that actually getting off her arse and working might demean her reputation as a DJ with the neer-do-well, fuckwits she calls friends started to annoy me.

Basically she has developed a benefit claimants attitude of wanting the middle class lifestyle and trappings but has no intention of doing a decent day's fucking work to pay for it.

I escaped at about six o'clock and we headed home. Unfortunately it was not time for a G&T. Our next job was to box up the chickens and take them down the road to Kathy H-R. We have decided this is the only way to remove our rat problem so it will be no chickens at The Pile for a year or two while we tidy runs and eradicate the vermin.

Kathy gratefully took the chickens and the three spare bags of feed and I drove back home to a beer and a gammon supper. I was absolutely shattered after yet another non-stop day.
* We have marked this down as my mid-life crisis.
** They must have had it for the best part of two months

Friday, 27 March 2015


Like many people, I do like my Fridays to be at the quiet or even lazy end of the busyness spectrum.

Unfortunately today was not going to be one of those Fridays. I had heaps to do before I knocked off at  five o'clock. The working day started at half past eight and I spent the first two hours on a team call discussing our projects and our suggestions for service improvements. I had been panicking mildly about what I should propose, but the Gods smiled at me at the end of last week when a colleague contacted me about the template I use to engage our stroppy Pricer. I have grudgingly volunteered to develop a template for use by two separate teams and this has been well received … it looks like I'll be giving an overview presentation on next week's team call too.

Having escaped from the two hour call, I opened up last week's status report and spent some time documenting this week's achievements and calamities. By half past eleven I had just about finished, so saved it and filed in in the relevant shared directory.

I then headed out in the Range Rover to the beloved Hogan Bros to collect the invoice for the Defender Station Wagon. After their shenanigans on Tuesday there was no way I was transferring over ten thousand pounds to them without some proof of purchase.

I headed back home and returned to my desk. The rest of the afternoon was spent clearing the decks and getting my latest project started … For the past few months a team mate and I have been dabbling at the edge of a massive programme that is not progressing particularly well. He proposed a technical solution that might help in some areas but it is fair to say that the suggestion was not welcomed. We have been working in the background to further develop this idea and we have finally been given the go ahead by our AVP to develop our idea in to a full cost benefit analysis … Now I have some real work to do!

Whilst putting my shoulder to this metaphorical rock I was also managing the movement of large sums of money between accounts and communicating with a car salesman who I trust about as far as I could throw.

As the afternoon waned, I finally found and hour to walk around the Three Miler with TP and the dogs. 30% and I also managed a quick trip to the super market, as the cupboards were bare, before collapsing on the sofa in front of the television.

We were both truly shattered.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Christ! 30% can be fucking annoying at times

There was no sign of Hayden this morning but he eventually answered his mobile 'phone and I was able to check that the slate specifications were acceptable. He was more than happy with our choice and I left him to whatever he was doing, wherever he was.

My next task was to get the slate ordered. My MasterCard was flexed and it is due on site on Monday morning. If I am honest there is not a lot else to report for the rest of the day. I got my head down and attempted to move my current batch of projects forwards. There is one that I have been putting off for a good few days and I finally managed to make a decision about how to overcome the inertia that seems to be hindering progress. A mail was drafted and I decided that it should be accompanied by a template to gather the information I require … I just need to design the spreadsheet now.

As the afternoon turned in to the evening I got up from my desk, rounded up TP and the dogs and headed off around the lanes for a walk. We arrived home shortly after six and I was surprised that 30% was not yet home. She turned up a few minutes later, advising that she had abandoned her planned visit to the supermarket and had, instead, spent the last half hour at work gossiping with a colleague.

She then rushed around attempting to get a large loin of pork in to the oven as soon as possible. As the evening passed she advised that dinner might be later than normal … at around seven thirty she called me to the kitchen, asked me to deliver cutlery and condiments to the table and then asked me to carve the pork.

Within a couple of slices I could see that it was nowhere near ready to be eaten. I advised her of this and nearly got my head bitten off. She insisted that I carve more slices of the joint and she would then put them back in the oven to finish off. By this time the vegetables were already in a dish and heading for the table. I suggested that she should consider pan frying them instead and got snapped at again.*

I cut a few more slices and by this time the pork was clearly raw. I insisted that she touch the meat to prove to her that it was still chilled. At this point I advised her that I was not going to eat it unless it was pan fried. I headed off the the dining room to keep TP company and left 30% to it.

An awkward while later she came in to the dining room with a board of fried pork. This finally looked edible rather than recently deceased. I put a few slices on my plate and added some vegetables.

Funnily enough I didn't have much of an appetite after having my head bitten off for basically refusing to eat meat until it was properly cooked. I guess she was wound up because  everything was late and not done properly but that wasn't my fault and I wasn't insisting that dinner be on the table at a specific time, neither was I the one that decided that we should eat a roast loin of pork.

As it says in the title of this entry ...
* Apparently it was my fault that the joint hadn't been put in earlier because I was out walking the dogs when I should have been there to answer the phone and take her instructions. It did occur to me that perhaps she should have come straight home form work instead of gossiping for thirty minutes but I kept those thoughts to myself.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Getting stuff done

There is not a huge amount to report for Wednesday as most of the working day was spent on a single activity …

… Yesterday I was contacted by my Boss's American counterpart. She asked if I would be willing to deliver a short presentation about one of my projects on today's Team Call.  It's funny how a question is really an instruction isn't it.  I agreed to do it and suggested the material I had at hand and could cover with minimal effort. She replied advising that she wanted me to develop three or four slides and gave an overview of what she wanted on each one … Fuck me! It's not like I have anything else to do with my time.

As a result I spent most of this morning drafting and polishing a short presentation deck. I did manage a slight jibe in her direction when the first lesson learnt was to never take on one of her projects when she heads off for her vacation.

The presentation went well and my Boss advised that I had not only broadened my role, I had gone above and beyond what was expected to keep this turd of a project heading in the right direction. I can't really complain about that can I.

At some point in the day I managed a walk around the Three Miler with the dogs and Hayden made an appearance to lay the coping stones on the new wall. He is starting to get itchy feet and wants to be off to his next job. The result is that 30% and I needed to spend two hours scouring the internet to find suitable slate paving for the steps up to the front door.

I'll be ordering them first thing tomorrow.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

A man's word is his bond?

I managed to get my shit together this morning and was sat at my laptop ready for the first call of the day at eight o'clock sharp.

The call was to take on a project from a colleague who is leaving the company and within 30 minutes I had a reasonable high level view of what was required. There are multiple, complex technical solutions that sit at the heart of this project and I will need to understand a whole lot more before I am done with it.

This relatively early morning start seemed to be just what I needed and I approached the day in a much more productive fashion than yesterday. As the morning rolled on I heard the 'phone ring and 30% answer it …

… From the half heard, half conversation it became apparent that it was Hogan Bros of Redditch. 30% had called them earlier about a Defender 110 Station Wagon they had for sale and within minutes I was summoned to see when I could take an hour out of my day to pop over to see it. After checking my calendar it was agreed that I would turn up at two o'clock to check out the car.

The excitement of this obviously the cause of a fair degree of distraction, but I did manage to get my head down and do some work before I eventually clambered in to the Range Rover and headed down the road.

As I drove  through Astwood Bank the heavens opened and there was a tremendous hail storm. I realised that I had no coat and considered the forthcoming experience of looking around a car in a storm. Fortunately the storm subsided and ceased as I approached the dealership.

The Defender was pretty much as described; a 2009 model with 16,000 miles on the clock. It had a couple of minor blemishes on the paintwork, but these are nothing that Chips Away cannot sort out. There is a seat lever missing, but these are a few quid to purchase and there is some corrosion on the alloy, rear view mirror arm. It drove really well and was much more car like than the TD5 I sold last year. The Ford Puma engine was remarkably civilised.

I decided I could certainly live with it and the Salesman offered a part exchange price on the Range Rover that was better than that offered on a brand new car at the weekend … still not great … but five hundred quid better than before. We shook hands on the deal and I left to inform 30%, perform an HPI check and then transfer a deposit to the Seller's account.

Within ten minutes of being home the 'phone rang … It was the Salesman. He informed me that he no longer wanted to proceed with the deal as he didn't want to be stranded with a Range Rover that might be difficult to sell. It is fair to say that I felt somewhat deflated. I kept my cool, avoided using any expletives and ended the call.

It is fair to say that 30% was not impressed either and, as I wandered back to my desk in a state of dejection, I heard her on the 'phone again. This time she spoke to one of the partners, who she politely informed of her displeasure as they had backed out after shaking hands on a deal. The partner said he would look in to his and call back …

… I am guessing that there was some serious arse chewing that happened in the next ten minutes as, good to his word, he called back and told us we could proceed with the deal. He also told us far more about the car including the warranty replacement of the gearbox at 6,000 miles and the fact that they had been servicing it for the past few years.

I am now convinced that all second-had car salesmen are arseholes and got that deposit transferred straight away.

The rest of the day trickled by and, as the afternoon faded in to evening, 30% and i took a walk up to the playing field to throw a ball with the dogs. I am delighted about the new car but nervous of the seller in view of today's reneging experience.

Monday, 23 March 2015

Out of sorts

I just could not find my mojo today.

I don't know what it was, but suspect that it was something to do with the uncertainty over the replacement of the car. I like to be in control, but have to consider 30%'s views and consequently I recognise that she needs to be totally in agreement with whatever decision we make about changing our vehicle. If this means that I have to let her make the decision in her own way then so be it … I know that she will do the right thing in her own inimitable way.

As already intimated, I just could not get in to work today so I finally got a drill and set about modifying the Enfield's rear mudguard. A hole was drilled that should finally allow it to be fixed to the bike's frame and a second hole was drilled for the rear lighting loom to exit the mudguard neatly under the number plate and light mount. I just need to wait for some electrical connectors to arrive and I can finally fit the mudguard, wiring and number plate to the bike.

A walk around the Three Miler was also undertaken and eventually the working day ended. At six o'clock sharp 30% and I rounded up Whiffler and headed out to Puppy Training. I have become increasingly frustrated by Whiffler's behaviour at the class and this week I decided that I would not allow him to interact with any of his classmates and get over excited …

… I am not sure whether it was this disciplinarian approach or the practice session 30% had completed in the garden but his behaviour was much better. He actually managed to perform all of the drills without any major embarrassment.

He is still a little rough around the edges but today he actually looked like he knew what he was doing for once.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Weekend Round Up

Saturday started with a trip over to Littleton for a morning at the auction.

We needed to be there for the full duration as we were interested in lots at both ends of the sale … unfortunately we didn't like the hammer prices on either and left them to some other lucky bidder. We did come away with a couple of items; I now have a stuffed dace staring down at me from its case in the study and a water colour still life also came home with us. On removing it from its frame I discovered some water damage so it may well never make it to the framers or a hook on the wall.

In the afternoon I took a walk around the Three Miler and then lit a fire. If I am honest that pretty much sums up the day.

Moving on to Sunday, the morning was taken up with a trip over to Hereford Land Rover in Much Cowarne. We went to take a look at Defender 110 Utility Wagon in XS trim that was three years old but 30% really likes the 110 Station Wagon and before I knew it we were sat at the Salesman's desk discussion options, trade-ins and pricing for a brand new car … The trade-in price offered for the Range Rover was horrifically low and we left, advising that we needed to go away and "work out the numbers". Basically we would need to pull together somewhere in the region of twenty five thousand pounds to buy a new car and that is something we really need to think about.

At home 30% did a quick trawl of the internet and found a 110 very similar to the specification we like. The car appeared to be a pre-registered unit. It had about seventy five miles on the clock and was a 2014 registration. This car was virtually new and was being offered at five thousand pounds less than a new one. This seemed to be a far more sensible way forward and 30% seems to be in agreement.

As I write this I'm not quite sure where we are going with the car plan. The Ranger Rover depreciation is massive and I am unsure whether we will be considering a trade in or attempt to sell it privately. There is no point in pushing 30% on the subject. I'll let her reach her own conclusions, but, if I am honest, I think a private sale will be a real pain in the arse and could take forever.

After lunch I settled with Enfield's rear mud guard. First thing this morning I had spent a happy hour wiring up the rear light unit. An earth lead was added, suitable connectors were crimped in place and the cables were given a protective outer covering of heat shrink. This afternoon I needed to fix half a dozen cable tie mounts to the inner face of the mudguard. These will hold the rear lighting loom out of sight and away from the rear wheel. The job was fairly simple and just involved marking up, sanding and degreasing the mudguard before the mounts were fixed in place with epoxy resin, clamped and left while the adhesive set.

Having finished that it was time for a walk around the Three Miler with 30% and the dogs. This took up an hour in the late afternoon and by the time we returned, were rested and refreshed it was time to think about our evening meal. I had offered to take a drive out as we had run out of milk so a chinese takeaway was ordered and I collected that whilst out 'n about.

Friday, 20 March 2015

Sloping off

After a week that had alternated between busy and down right frustrating, I had decided that Friday was going to be a sea of serenity.

I started relatively early and cleared a few items from my inbox. As half past nine approached I wandered outside to see whether there was any chance of watching the eclipse. None of us had any glasses so the plan was to watch a reflection in a bowl of water. As we scanned the sky all we saw was cloud and it didn't look like we were going to see anything at all.

The minutes ticked by and suddenly we could see a small, bright crescent through a veil of thinning clouds. We were able to watch safely for a good few minutes with the cloud cover acting as a filter for the sun's glare.
With the celestial viewing over, I wandered back in to the house and settled to complete my weekly report. With eleven o'clock approaching I was just about done. I headed out to the car for a trip to B&Q where I picked up a replacement fence post and a couple of bags of post-fix. These will be needed to finish off the fence where it meets the new wall by the front door.

Back at home I munched my way through lunch and then tinkered with the Enfield's rear mudguard for a while. Having fitted a rubbing strip yesterday, I trial fitted the mudguard to the bike. This fit is reasonable now, not perfect, but reasonable. I will have to drill the mudguard to fix it to the frame tab but at least the two make physical contact now.

Feeling ever so slightly guilty I wandered back to my laptop and noticed that a colleague was keen to have a chat about how I present my solution and costs to our pricer. He may have been keen but he wanted to talk late in the afternoon. This was going to interfere with my laid back Friday so I pinged him and we agreed to chat sooner.

The result of our discussion is that I may well have landed on the service improvement project that I need to develop this year … a solution pack that can be used to price and hand off solutions to the sales teams.

If I am honest my working day ended there. TP and I took a wander around the Three Miler with the dogs before returning to console Hayden. He has completed the brickwork to either side of the flight of steps but the coping stones have been delayed. They may not arrive for a week or more and it is fair to say that he is not impressed as it is going to delay the job.

I then grabbed a quick coffee and rounded up 30%. We headed over to Redditch Shot-blasting to collect the freshly powder coated garden gate and then headed over to Littleton to view tomorrow's auction lots … it is fair to say that we are highly likely to be back tomorrow for a bacon sandwich, bad coffee and intentional hand waving.

Thursday, 19 March 2015


There is not a huge amount to report today as I have spent most of it head down at work and, once I had escaped that servitude, I hit the wine and nibbles.

Basically nothing has gone smoothly today. Nothing has been easy. Everything has been either problematic or I have had obstacles strewn across my path. Progress has been made but it has been hard work.

The day started with a two hour long team call where each member of the team gives a quick overview of their current workload and seeks guidance from our Boss where necessary. I don't mind the call but am still undecided on it's value. On a positive note it does block out two hours of my Thursday morning and I only really need to perform for about ten minutes of that time.

With that call finished I then presented an overview of a project I am designing to some of the less positive stakeholders. The call went reasonably well but was far from straightforward. It became apparent that one of the less positive individuals hadn't got a clue about the background to this piece of work. This is incredibly worrying considering that he is supposed to be managing the team that supports the service! It came as no surprise that a vociferous programme manager chimed in with his usual waffle and I finally realised that he just makes up bullshit on the fly to support his arguments. Today he attempted to argue that my proposed project would take too long to implement as we would need to contract it with the customer. I responded by pointing out that not two weeks ago he was advising that my project was an activity that did not need to contracted or charged to the client. I need to keep a close eye on this chap and pay attention to his bullshit as he has some powerful allies who have been sucked in by his propaganda.

The outcome of this call was muddied by the fact that the key decision maker decided to bugger off to another call before we came to the conclusion. I guess I will just need to keep pushing forward until someone tells me to stop.

For a break I decided to wander outside and take Hayden a cup of tea. While I was out there he showed me a sample of the paving he proposed to lay and I have to say that I was not impressed. It was a concrete cast of a riven slate but it was truly awful. It looked cheap and artificial and I instantly knew that I did not want that laid on the steps leading to our front door. I had a quick video call with 30% and she agreed that we should reject the slabs … it looks like Hayden has some homework to do.

I then wandered back to my desk and dialled in to the next debate. This was about whether a process I had developed needed an interface to another function. The point was valid but it rapidly became one of those calls that spiralled around the same question because the person who could provide definitive guidance was not present. I eventually managed to get the fuckwits to appreciate this point, closed down the call and went to lie in a darkened room.*

As the day closed I entered my final foray. Earlier in the week I had had my arse chewed about the pricing on one of my projects. I had been set some revised price targets and had been told to get  a lower price release. A frolleague had informed me that we were performing a very similar activity with the same hardware at the same locations at a much higher price than we were considering quoting. With a customer like the one we have we need to make sure all of our pricing is aligned or they will, to use the vernacular, tear us a new arsehole.

It appears that our Salesman had conveniently forgotten this point so I took great pleasure in reminding him of the situation and politely reminding him that he needed to fully understand the pricing before giving me some targets.

Job done, day over, where's the wine?
* I got the fuck away from my desk and went and did something more interesting instead … There is a cut out on the Enfield's rear mudguard where it clears the chain guard. This cut out has a nasty sharp edge. I have fixed a piece of split, aquarium, air line tubing along this cut out with epoxy resin to act as a bumper strip. Hopefully this will prevent cuts when cleaning and maintaining the bike.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Out again

It was cold and foggy this morning and I have to say that I was not keen to be fannying around providing power for Hayden's site radio.

We ascertained that his extension lead was knackered last week. He has done nothing about it, preferring, each morning,  to just try each of the four power outlets in turn, interspersed with the occasional thump and pointless prodding of the radio's power button. This morning I plugged the extension lead in to to numerous sockets in the house to prove that the damned thing was fucked and in the end I wandered out to the garage and found one of my leads that was long enough that I had tinny drum 'n bass at the periphery of my hearing for most of the day.

As I watch Hayden work it is fair to say that I am somewhat concerned by his approach. I am no builder and have no experience of building regulations or specifications but I remain to be convinced that his wall will stand up to any pressure from the earth it holds back. Today I noticed that the short length of wall by the front door has a footing dug but no concrete poured in it. He has simply built this short section on concrete blocks laid flat. It is not a retaining wall and simply supports the garden gate but I'm not convinced.

Having sorted Hayden's entertainment out, I headed in to Redditch to drop the gate and posts off at Redditch Shot-blasting. Dave was an absolute star and said that he could turn them around very quickly and they would be ready for collection on Friday evening.

The rest of the day trundled along and featured and end-to-end solution review call. This should have been an absolute breeze, but some fucking idiot from the Change Management team started to ask questions about the process that he had agreed not two weeks previously. I then had problems with my phone line and the audience were unable to hear my answers. I now need to have a repeat call with him tomorrow to close this activity off.

We finished work at a reasonable time as TP's band was performing a short set at a college gig in Worcester. We went along with 30%'s dad and sister as we had never seen him perform before. I have to say that considering he has only been playing in a band and performing for six months he did incredibly well. TP actually took on lead vocals and lead guitar for a couple of songs and the bands rendition of Nirvana's Smells like teen spirit was brilliant.

Both 30% and think that they need to ditch the lead singer and let TP stand front 'n centre. He certainly seems to have something of a stage presence starting to develop.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

I hear dead people

Today was busy, but unlikely to make the most riveting of reading material.

The highlights or lowlights included a call with Sales, where they attempted to chew my arse off because they didn't like the costs contained within my solution. My Boss was on the call and actually pitched in and described the event as a Kangaroo Court. I won't be loosing any sleep over that one. I also had a call to present an overview of feasibility study I am designing. It is fair to say that the study components were well received and we can now progress to the next hurdle, which is convincing a less favourable audience of its merits.

Hayden made an appearance fairly early in the morning. Unfortunately the load of mortar he needed did not, so he disappeared after a couple of hours of moving bricks to a position convenient for laying. The load of muck did actually arrive late in the afternoon. Fortunately the driver knew what was required of him and all I had to do was sign his delivery note and bugger off back inside.

The new garden gate was also delivered this afternoon and, as the working day ended, I found time to open and inspect it. You can imagine my delight when I discovered the sticker advising that a finish coat was required. It looks like I will be visiting my local, friendly powder coater tomorrow. Damn!

This evening we headed over to Malvern again. This time was for a performance of Agatha Christie's And then there were none. We were joined by Jules and enjoyed a rather good play. I am not very familiar with Christie's work, with only a vague recollection of Peter Ustinov in the film adaptation of Death on the Nile, but this was a gripping Who Dunnit and I should imagine the original book is a cracker with depth and detail not able to be conveyed in the stage performance.

And, as it says in the title line, I could actually hear all of the dialogue this evening.

Monday, 16 March 2015

It could have been so much worse

TP shambled down the stairs this morning and, unusually, attempted to engage me in what passes for early morning discussion in his iteration of the multiverse.

It transpired that he had suffered a puncture on his way to work yesterday evening. He had not been able to remove his wheel nuts so had driven on the flat tyre and had abandoned his car at work. A friend had given him a lift home.

He was going to take the bus in to college and it was agreed that I would assist him with the changing of the wheel when he came home from his studies. I settled in front of the computer and Googled Breaker Bars and local suppliers. If TP's wheel nuts were as stubborn as he had indicated, one of these was going to be very helpful in changing his wheel this evening.

Normally I would have found a spare hour and nipped in to Redditch to pick up a breaker bar, but I had a fairly packed agenda so the plan was to head in to Screwfix with TP, collect the aforementioned bar and then head over to his car and swap the wheel after work this evening. What could possibly go wrong with that plan?

The working day went well. The bulk of my time was spent preparing a presentation for a call tomorrow where I will talk my manager and other key stakeholders through a cost/benefit analysis I plan to undertake. I also had a great call this morning where I politely educated a project manager about why he could not simply offer to give away $140K without following the necessary procedures and obtaining the relevant authorisations. It was interesting to note his reluctance to back down from his position despite being wrong.*

I managed a somewhat extended lunch today as Grandad Jack paid a visit to take collection of a few bags of compost for his allotment. We spent an hour or so in one of the local pubs having a natter before he headed off for a session of double digging. He plans to return in a few weeks for the contents of our other compost bins.**

Eventually TP arrived home and we headed out towards Redditch. Before leaving the socket set was loaded in to the car and, typically, I had to pause 100 yards into our journey while TP returned to pick up his car keys.*** We arrived at Screwfix to be told that they didn't have any breaker bars. We were then reliant on TP's iPhone with minimal battery life to locate Tool Zone.

At this point I should mention that I really needed to be home by six in order to leave for puppy training. Time was ticking on, the light was fading and I didn't like the look of those black clouds.

We arrived at Tool Zone and found something that looked like it would do the job but the item description didn't state whether the bar was a 1/2" or 3/8" drive. Eventually the bar was retrieved from the warehouse and a brief inspection showed it to be the right size. Result! We paid and finally headed towards TP's abandoned Fiat.

As we left the car park the rain started and I made an Executive decision … TP called 30% and asked her to cancel puppy training. I was likely to be late. I was extremely likely to be wound up and, worse than that, I was going to be wet. Anyone who knows me well knows that I hate being wet!

We headed towards TP's car and attempted to use the back lanes to avoid the snarl-up of traffic and roadworks in Astwood Bank. The back road had been closed meaning that we had to loop back up on to the High Street. Time ticked on, the sky darkened and the rain continued to fall.

We eventually reached TP's ar and the wheel change wasn't too bad. There was a minor complication about locking wheel nuts but the rain had slowed to a light drizzle and within twenty minutes we were heading back to The Pile.

30% had cancelled dog training and had lit a fire. I got myself on the outside of a glass of wine and relaxed
* Call me cynical, but this guy is a Contractor and I would guess that he plans to jump ship and engage directly with the customer when the current contract ends in three years time. It is fair to say I trust the fucker about as far as I could throw him.
** These are being removed because of our current rodent problem.
*** Yes, the ones I had specifically asked if he had, not five minutes before we left.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Garden and car plans

This morning I was up and about just before seven and ninety minutes later I was still pottering about on my lonesome. I realised that both TP and 30% were going for an Olympic standard lie-in so I breakfasted, gathered the dogs together and headed out for an early morning walk.

I returned shortly after ten and found 30%, still in her pyjamas, hanging washing on the line. A restorative coffee was drank and she disappeared upstairs to dress. We then headed out in to the garden to bag up some compost, which will be gifted to Grandad Jack for use on his allotment.

As we shovelled the fine mulch in to sacks we discussed the garden and agreed that it needed some serious attention. For the past few months we have been plagued by rats and they continue to appear in the chicken run despite laying down bait. This morning I found that their tunnels now extend for the full length of the runs and decided that enough is enough ... The chickens have to go*, as do the compost bins and any other sources of food or shelter.

30% agreed the plan and this will allow us to make some changes to the coops and runs that should make poultry keeping a little less muddy in Winter.** We also plan to take out several trees and shrubs, lay turf in some areas and open out the garden. Brief references were made to a shed for the mower and  dealing with the messy area where TP's trampoline used to stand. It will, as they say, be nice when it is finished.

For once 30% had decided that our main meal should be a Lunch rather than a dinner so we ate later than usual. After a splendid roast chicken we tidied the kitchen and ourselves and then headed out to a car dealership in Droitwich.

We have both agreed that the Range Rover is not the car for us. It is beautiful and luxurious but it "just isn't us". 30% hit the internet and had found a beautiful, but expensive Land Rover Defender County. She is working on the principal that if we get a nearly new one we will keep it for a very long time.

Unfortunately the Defender had been sold and the salesman was disinterested to the point of being rude so we turned tale and headed home. However 30% now has the idea firmly planted in her head as she was particularly taken by the Defender 110 with plenty of room for people, dogs and luggage. She was to be found scouring the internet for Land Rovers after we had returned home and sat in front of  a fire.

That pretty much sums up Sunday. I did set up a trial to see whether epoxy resin will secure cable tie holders to aluminium … as this is how I plan to secure the wiring loom inside the Enfield's rear mud  guard. I also pondered living with a 110 after the compact 90.

I guess I could live with it.
* temporarily, for a year or so.
** we plan to lay slabs in parts of the runs to give them an all weather surface rather than the quagmire that occurs during prolonged periods of rain.

Saturday, 14 March 2015


This morning I was up early and shortly after eight o'clock I was trundling in to Worcester. My first mission of the day was to drop the chainsaw off for a long overdue service. This was soon done and by five past nine I was back at The Pile.

While I had been out Hayden had turned up with his mate Ollie and were preparing to lay bricks. I took an order for two cups of tea and disappeared in to the warmth of the house. It was bloody freezing out there. As I made their tea, I chatted with 30% and urged her out of her pyjamas …

… and in to some clothes so we could head out and complete our other Saturday morning chores.

Our first stop was Stratford and, if I am honest, we had a fairly unpleasant hour walking around the market and visiting Rachel in Jaeger. The weather was so chilly that, as soon as one stopped to take in a market stall display or browse in a shop window, a biting cold ate in to one's bones and discouraged any lingering. Walking was just about bearable but my coat and sweatshirt were inadequate to fight off the cold when we stopped.

It was a relief when we decided that enough was enough and headed over to Redditch to whiz around the supermarket and collect our dry cleaning.

These chores consumed the morning and, after the restorative powers of a bacon sandwich, I headed around the Three Miler with the dogs. I then needed to thaw out again before I collected kindling and logs and set a fire in the lounge.

If I am honest that covers most of the days activities. I hit eBay with a vengeance late in the evening and purchased a few low cost sundries that I need to finish off the bike and then settled in front of the fire for an evening of TV with 30%.

Friday, 13 March 2015

…..oy in the striped pyjamas.

This morning I hit the road early, once again, and shortly after nine o'clock I was collecting my sub-frame and adjusted mudguard from Hitchcocks.

Traffic delayed my arrival at my desk, but shortly after ten I was settled in front of my laptop and soon cleared the days essentials. As lunchtime approached I wandered over to the Enfield and collected spanners, thread lock and torque wrenches. It was a matter of twenty minutes work to have the subframe re-attached and a trial fit of the mudguard was attempted. The fit is definitely better, not perfect, but better and with some persuasion it should now fit. I now need to make a decision on the routing of the rear wiring loom and crack on with it.

If I am honest the afternoon dragged by, but eventually four o'clock arrived and I dialled in to the last call of the week. The purpose of this call was to garner support for a cost benefit analysis which will hopefully give some credibility and management support to a solution we are proposing. The call went incredibly well and we seem to have made a new friend who is keen to help and seems to know a huge amount about the area where we are meddling.

As the day waned I wandered outside and checked on Hayden's progress. We now definitely have the beginnings of a wall and, by Sunday, we are promised that most of it will be completed leaving the steps, the copings and the raised bed left to do. I have to admit that it is rather a shock to see pristine new brickwork marking our boundary rather than the ivy clad landslide that has been there for the ten year term of our ownership and God knows how long before.

This evening we ate early as we needed to be at the Malvern Winter Gardens early for a performance of  The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas. 30%'s parents arrived close to half past six and we were soon headed across the County towards the Malvern ridge. Shortly after seven we had parked and were soon wandering up towards the Winter Gardens. As we entered the building we decided that seven minutes was insufficient for a bar visit and headed straight towards the theatre doors. It was at this point that 30% realised that it was actually a seven o'clock start time and we were actually twenty three minutes late!

We crept in to the theatre where the incredibly unhelpful Usherette informed us that people were sat in our seats and then abandoned us in the aisle. We eventually located some free seats and settled in for the performance. Fortunately we all knew the plot and had only missed the departure of the family from Berlin and their arrival at the concentration camp in Poland.

I have to say that I loved the play and thought the performances of the young leading characters were marvellous … but, and I feel churlish for saying it, the lead actors diction was not good and large chunks of the script were delivered in a rapid, helium garble that had one guessing at what he was actually saying. As I said; I feel a bit of an arse for saying it as he was very young. His performance was credible and he appeared to be word perfect but I do not understand why the Director didn't attempt to get him to slow down a little and speak with greater clarity.

It was a very good play and I would certainly recommend it. A well earned 8/10.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

The Enfield looses a little weight.

This morning found me cruising the motorways on the South Western borders of Birmingham as I ferried my rear sub-frame and mudguard to Hitchcocks Motorcycles for examination.

I arrived just before nine o'clock and was received by a pleasant enough chap.  Unfortunately he wasn't dealing with my problem and advised that my contact was busy upstairs cataloguing crank cases and that it would be two to three hours before they would come to any conclusion. I have to say that this did not impress me at all and I pointed out that a) they don't open at a weekend*, b) I should be working and c) had spent a significant amount of money with them and felt that this fell short of the customer service I expected.

I was actually bloody furious that I was put second in line behind a pile of inanimate engine components and, having removed the subframe yesterday, was well aware that a decent mechanic could trial fit my parts in less than 30 minutes. I kept these thoughts to myself and headed home to start work.

Around midday the 'phone rang. It was Hitchcock's, who advised that my sub-frame was the right size but that my mudguard had needed to have it's curvature adjusted to make it fit their test bike. My parts were now ready for collection … It looks like I will now need to find a free hour tomorrow morning too.

My afternoon was taken up by a tedious three hour conference call and by the time I had finished I was desperate to actually achieve something. I settled alongside the Enfield and glared at the breather box assembly. I had been informed that this mechanism was not a standard Royal Enfield fitment and that it would be best if I removed it and blanked or re-routed the various breather pipes.

A happy hour was spent removing this bizarre little canister and I can report that the engine looks a lot less cluttered now it has gone.
Now you see it ...
… now you don't.
* I find it incredible that a leisure industry business only opens Monday to Friday, nine 'til five when most of it's clientele are busy working.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015


After several weeks, of what can only be described as faffing about, I finally managed to get pricing released for one of my projects. I think I may have finally worked out  how to keep our Pricer happy as she actually issued the price with a glowing commendation on the delivery of costs and solution information. She also cc'd my Boss.

So work is going reasonably well. I have managed to close off the first phase on one project and got a gold star in the process, but now we turn to the Enfield …

… The supplier of the rear sub-frame and mudguard have finally replied, advising that they can't replicate the fitting issue in their workshop and I now need to remove the sub-frame and mudguard from my bike and take them over to them for examination. They may only be twenty five miles away but they don't open at the weekend.

Fortunately I have a free hour early tomorrow morning but I'm not impressed and am possibly erring towards bloody annoyed.

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Hello, I wasn't expecting you today

Fairly early this morning, as I was sat at my desk, the dogs started to bark and there was knocking at the door. I opened it and found Hayden on the doorstep. This was something of a surprise as he was not expected until late on Wednesday when a load of concrete was to be delivered for the wall footings … It transpired that there had been a cancellation at the Ready Mix company and the pour had been brought forward a day.

Now most Builders have a reputation for either being late or not turning up at all. Hayden, so far, is the complete antithesis with milestones being reached earlier than planned. His current forecast is that the majority of the wall should be built by Sunday.

There is not much else to report. The dogs were walked. I pulled together some thoughts on the scope and approach for a new project and I also had a chat with the company that provided the rear subframe and mudguard for the Enfield …

… something is definitely amiss and they are investigating in their workshop with an identical model.

In summary; pretty good customer service all round.

Monday, 9 March 2015

Some Dog Whisperer I turned out to be

In the middle of the day I found a free hour to complete circuit of the three Miler with the dogs.

We are trying to increase T&M's exercise regime to reduce their midriffs and a walk usually helps calm Whiffler down before attending puppy training. As I passed the half way point in the walk, Whiffler disappeared down a farm track. I called him back but got no response. As I reached the junction I could see him gambolling with a young Labrador and its mildly frustrated owner. I apologised, called Whiffler to heel and soon had a firm grasp on his collar. It was at this point that the owner advised that he had been trying to catch his dog for an hour and could not get hold of it … so at least I wasn't to blame for his frustration levels then!

I let the dogs play together in the hope of catching the Labrador but he was canny and wary of a hand reaching out towards him. I changed tactics, offered small treats and knelt in the middle of the road putting Tyson, Marauder and Whiffler back on their leads. Eventually the Lab succumbed to the pack instinct and came in close enough to take a treat from my hand. I grabbed his collar and he was soon back on the leash. I received a terse, possibly slightly embarrassed "Thank You very much" and I went on my way.

This was obviously a case of peaked too early as Whiffler was nothing short of a fucking nightmare at Puppy Training and the Instructor commented that he just didn't seem interested tonight. I had obviously used up my reserves of dog whispering mojo earlier in the day.

The construction of the ramparts between The Pile and the main road meandered forward and Hayden appeared to spend the day mostly pottering.  An order has been made for concrete, but that will not be poured until late on Wednesday, so there was only minimal preparation and lay out  activities that could be  progressed. We said farewell to the mini digger when it was collected this evening, as was the heap of earth that had affectionately been named; the Somme.  All we have now is our mini version of Stone Henge which still looks impressive laid out at the edge of the pavement.

Work was fine. I finally managed to get hold of our Pricer and I just have a few relatively straightforward actions to complete before I can get her busily applying margin or whether the hell it is she needs to do. My other projects are rumbling forward … in fact at a speed analogous to that expected when moving Trilithons  or other megalithic components. It would be nice if we could speed up, but, apparently, that is not the way things are done in these parts.

The Enfield project is progressing … I think! At present I am communicating with a very nice chap called Wayne about why my rear mudguard does not appear to fit. Thus far a couple of illustrated e-mails have been sent and I await definitive guidance on how to secure the front portion of the alloy mudguard.

This is very frustrating as I cannot fit and connect up the rear lights until this issue is resolved …Damn!

Sunday, 8 March 2015


This morning I finally got around to connecting up the Enfield's battery and performing a test of the electrical systems.

I was reasonably confident about most of the components as I had labelled each side of every electrical connection during the strip down of the bike. Consequently when the loom was reattached I simply needed to ensure that component A was reattached to the connector labelled component A and so forth. However the rear light was a new part and it had arrived with no wiring instructions and featured one fewer wires than the Enfield's rear lighting loom.

Over the past week I had performed a number of circuit tests on the new light unit and was reasonably confident that I had worked out that a) I needed to create an earth wire and b) I had identified which of the wires was the brake light. This morning all I needed to do was create a simple temporary adapter that would allow me to connect the bike's loom to the new light unit.

It was a few minutes work to get everything linked up and I started working my way through the components. I have to report that everything worked and the only minor issue was easily fixed … I had managed to misconnect the front indicators so that it flashed right when signalling left. It was a matter of a few minutes work to rectify this. The test even included the starter motor and ignition circuits and a healthy spark was seen at the plug, once the side stand had been lifted to disable it's cut out switch.

It was a relief to know that the electrics are fine and the next significant task will be to permanently mount the rear mud guard and connect up the rear light and indicators … BUT, first I need some manufacturer support as the one of the frame mounting points does not align with the mudguard fixing point.

The electrical testing, kitchen tidying and provision print services for 30%* took up most of the morning. In the afternoon 30% and I took a wander around the Three Miler and then I returned to the Enfield. TP assisted and a replacement oil feed pipe has now been fitted. The decompressor cable has been correctly routed and adjusted and the brake pipe is now torqued up too.

As the afternoon waned laziness hit and a short snooze was taken on the sofa.

Damn, it's nearly Monday again.
* only TP and I have managed to connect to the wireless printer and consequently a regularly on the receiving end of "can you print the document I've just mailed you" requests. She may have worked in telecoms for twenty five years but she is a complete technophobe.

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Now we can book our holiday

As the light faded and Saturday evening was celebrated with a glass of wine it was fair to say that both 30% and I were absolutely exhausted.

It had been a busy day and I have to report that the front of the house is starting to look like a cross between Stonehenge and the battlefields of the Somme! Hayden has been here all day digging out the footings for the retaining wall. Yesterday's heap of earth was removed this morning and replaced with an even larger pile of earth and old bricks by the time they knocked off this evening. That pile sits alongside a jumble of foundations stones. These are truly colossal pieces of worked local stone and they have drawn astonished exclamations from passersby. The larger ones are more than a yard in length and 18" in square section. We are hoping that they will look superb when fashioned in to a raised bed at the front of the house.

While the ground works were progressing we went about our day. My first mission was a circuit of the Three Miler with the dogs. On my return I found time for a restorative cup of coffee before 30% and I hit the supermarket. The plan was to drop off some dry cleaning and pick up a few essentials but 30% made the mistake of leaving me in the wine section with the trolley and half a dozen bottles of wine ended up being added to our essentials.

Upon our return to The Pile, lunch was eaten and we then headed over to our Dog Carer of choice to have Whiffler vetted … We first employed Patti's services when we went to Sri Lanka last year. Both T&M had a fantastic time staying with her and we much prefer her approach of caring for dogs in her home rather than having them caged in kennels. However we now have Whiffler and Patti wanted to get the measure of him before committing to having all three of them bouncing around her house. We spent about an hour with Patti and she was soon charmed by Whiffler's juvenile antics. As it says in the title line; we can now book our Summer holiday.

Upon our return I was called outside for a site meeting. Hayden had encountered an enormous tree root in the path of the new wall. It belonged to one of the Yews in our garden and I was required to break out the chain saw to cut through it. This root was truly enormous, being close to the circumference of a man's waist.* The chainsaw made a decent job of cutting through it but the mini digger was still needed to break the final fibres and pull it from the ground.

By the time I was cleaned up and the chainsaw was tucked away it was a toss up between the Enfield's electrics and a glass of Shiraz and nibbles … The wine and dips won.
* albeit a man somewhat slimmer than I

Friday, 6 March 2015

The working week draws to a close

Friday included one of my increasingly rare appearances at the local Depot …

… It should come as no surprise that I had expenses to submit and I also needed a haircut. The plan was for 30% and me to spend just the morning in the office and return home at lunch time. I used the time wisely and had managed to grab a few moments with our Pricer's Boss and found a way to deliver pricing for one of my projects without having to wait for production of a solution component. The aforementioned haircut was also completed and shortly after midday we were heading back to The Pile.

I had a relatively leisurely afternoon until my last call of the day at three o'clock. This was a discussion to seek agreement on the interfaces with change control processes on another of my projects. The call went well, although I personally felt it was forty minutes longer than it needed to be, and I ended the week on a high note. This project has been lingering for months if not years and in the past few months I have managed to define it and develop a set of process interfaces that will allow it to be costed, priced and proposed to the customer. This one is definitely going to be referenced in this year's appraisal.

After work 30% and I headed over to Littleton Auctions to preview the lots. We agreed that we will place a couple of commission bids but can find a more productive way to spend our Saturday morning than loitering in the Auction house with a mug of cheap coffee.

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Busy, busy, busy

As Wednesday drew to a close I had already realised that Thursday was going to be a very busy day.

I had the minutes from a key meeting to draft and summarise. This was made more complex by the fact that the meeting was quite unstructured.  I would need to be quite creative in my interpretation of the narrative in order to develop a summary and set of actions that would allow our solution to be progressed.

I also had a meeting with a set of SMEs, who I need to engage, to develop a solution outline and high level estimates. They are being lead by an Architect who I can only describe as a complete fucking bitch and, at one point on the call, I came a hairs breadth from pointing out that her approach was erring very close to fucking rude!

In the background I was also trying to locate our Pricer who seemed to have dropped off the radar for most of this week … Her e-mail out of office indicated that she was just away for the morning but I was aware that she was caring for her partner, who was recuperating from an operation, and it became apparent that she wasn't working at all … This was bloody frustrating as I am starting to get harassed to deliver pricing and that aint gonna happen until her ladyship actually decides to pitch up and do some bloody work!

It was fair to say that I was knackered by the time I knocked off and the walk around the Three Miler lead to a hypo that drove me to semi-conciousness on the sofa for an hour after I returned home.

Don't misunderstand; I am quite enjoying work at the moment and feel that I am making great progress but today was busy and exhausting. One would therefore expect that no progress was made on the Enfield but I actually had a short session first thing this morning having woken early. The headlight was connected and fitted and the freshly charged battery was placed in it's holder.

I plan to test the electrical systems at the weekend and I am now just need to temporarily connect the rear light and indicators before I can check out my wiring.

The garden wall project is progressing nicely and Hayden has now managed to remove the old wall, separate out the foundation stones* and cut back the earth bank in preparation for marking out and digging footings. We are delighted with progress but I am not sure how the locals view it as the footpath is currently blocked by a 6' high pile of earth.

I can also report that my new helmet arrived this morning … impressive as it had only been ordered yesterday and doubly impressive as the Shark Evoline 3 is a neat bit of kit that converts from full face to open face at the touch of a button … it also comes in a colour that matches the Enfield!
* for re-use as a retaining wall for a raised bed

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Goodness, Wednesday already

Today started with another surprise appearance by Hayden; our young builder.

Continuing scaffolding issues at another of his jobs has meant that he has diverted his efforts to The Pile and his day was spent on further site clearance. By the time I popped out for a site inspection late this afternoon, he had demolished the original steps and cleared the approach to the front door for the wider flight that will bring visitors up to the house. He had also started to demolish the old garden wall and has dragged out several fine dressed stones from it's footings. These are some two to three feet in length and about a foot square in section. The plan is to re-use them as a retaining wall for a raised bed at the front of the house in place of the bramble filled patch that currently fills this space. The only minor problem is that they are incredibly heavy and Hayden is going to need a very strong labourer to help him position them.

On the work front the day went well and a couple of projects were nudged forward although nowhere near as fast as I would have liked. My Boss, a colleague and I also appear to have wandered in to a political minefield by proposing a solution that is not seen as the preferred way forward. The fact that it would shore up some failing infrastructure had been ignored by the naysayers but we managed to cross the first hurdle and I will now need to flatten out my fag packet and scrawl some rough numbers.

Late in the afternoon I took a call from my Boss who claimed to have good news. Wary of extreme sarcasm, I proceeded with caution and was delighted when he revealed this years bonus and pay award … I can report that the Builder will get paid and the helmet I ordered yesterday was not a rash purchase.

Away from work, the dogs got walked and I found time to complete another couple of minor jobs on the Enfield. The rear brake light switch has been fitted, the carburettor has been torqued up and the battery is now charged.

I can also report that my tool box now includes a set of Crows Foot spanners … no, I didn't know they were how you torqued up bolts that won't take a socket until a couple of days ago either!

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Scratching around for material

As has probably become apparent, my workload has now increased and, as a consequence, there is often very little to report, as it is virtually impossible to summarise projects that are bound by commercial confidentiality … it would also be bloody challenging to make those reports, in any way, interesting.The net result of this situation is that I don't have a lot to say today.

I was asked, at very short notice, to attend a review of a colleague's solution cost model and soon found myself wading in, asking probing questions and making recommendations for commercial approaches and the management of our somewhat obstreperous Pricer. This critique was well received by my Boss* and I ended the day with an email awarding me a Gold Star for coaching … I also got a multi tabbed spreadsheet that I now have to review and recommend revisions for. **

Away from work; the dogs were walked and the Enfield's battery was attached to a trickle charger. My next major task is to test the electrical components and determine the best way to wire up the rear light and indicators … my comfort zone is now far behind me as I delve in to the mysteries of the Enfield's loom and shiny, replacement lighting.
* I'm not so sure how my colleague took it, but he is progressing with my recommended course of actions
** This would seem to be a case of Swings & Roundabouts

Monday, 2 March 2015

I thought you were coming on Thursday … or was it Friday?

Today was going to be one of those days. I had plenty to keep me busy and yet another hurdle to be overcome, having been thrown across the path of one of my projects at the end of last week.

The working day actually started on a high.* I was required to attend a call with a team of billing specialists as a precursor to a call scheduled for later in the week. The call was an absolute breeze. We covered all of the material in half of the time allotted and they confirmed that they could now develop their deliverable. The icing on the cake was that there was no need for the follow-up call and I now have a gap in this Wednesday's schedule.

Whilst this call was progressing 30% wandered in to the study and demanded the keys to the garden gate … it appears that our Builder had been let down by Scaffolding Contractors on one of his other jobs and had the day free. The net result is that we ended up with an enormous skip on our drive and the steps leading to our front door were gradually dismantled during the morning.

The working day progressed and eventually I reached the hurdle. I needed to present an overview of the project to a team of anonymous technical experts and plead with them in order to get a solution component developed. The presentation went well and eventually the experts grudgingly allowed me to proceed to the next stage in the process … at this rate the customer will have gone off the idea before we can give them ROM pricing!

In the afternoon I managed to find an hour to take the dogs around the Three Miler with TP. The primary aim of this exercise was to take the edge off Whiffler before this evening's puppy training class but neither 30% nor I could be bothered to attend so I excused ourselves using the medium of an SMS text message.

Skipping puppy training gave me a couple of free hours so I trial fitted the rear mudguard and rear light to the Enfield. It looks marvellous but I will need to spend some time working out the best way to run the wiring loom in order to connect the rear lights and indicators back in to the electrical system.

That may take some time … and some faffing around with a multimeter and a twelve volt battery
* absolutely bloody amazing for a Monday

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Dad saves dinner

Today started with a drive over to a nearby village to collect TP, who had been out on the town with his mates. The minor flaw with my plan was that I had only ever dropped TP off in the general vicinity of his friend's house. I didn't know exactly which door to knock. Matters were made worse when the little sod wasn't answering his mobile phone,* leaving me sat by the curb with increasing levels of frustration.

I tried to Google the correct address but could not get internet connectivity, so I 'phoned 30% and asked her to search the web on my behalf … it appeared that TP's friends do not have a Directory Listing!  Eventually it dawned on me that TP's friend drove a Seat, possibly a red Seat, so I started to crawl around the estate in search of the vehicle. Eventually I came across a potential candidate and, as I drew up on the drive, I saw a dishevelled TP peer out from a window.

Five minutes later I was heading homeward with TP and another of his drinking buddies who lives close by to The Pile. I took a minor detour via the local feed store to collect chicken food and eventually we arrived back at home.

There was about an hour to go before lunch was served so TP and I headed out around the Three Miler with the dogs.

The afternoon was filled with a variety of jobs including the unloading of the car and a trip to Screwfix. Eventually I settled in front of the TV for an hour as I was knackered. As the afternoon waned I finally got myself in front of the Enfield with an iPad and a screw driver and worked out how to connect the throttle and choke cables to the new Amal carburettor.

Just as I was finishing I heard a plaintive call from the Kitchen. 30% had mistaken a boned breast of lamb for a leg, when routing through the freezer, and her dinner plans were in tatters. She had planned a roast and thawed out some casserole ingredients. I asked for 5 more minutes with the Enfield and asked her to make up a small portion of stuffing and find the kitchen string while she waited for me to finish off.

I then wandered in to the kitchen, spread the stuffing thinly over the inside of the lamb breast, rolled it and tied it up with three lengths of string. This evening we were to be dining on roast, stuffed, breast of lamb. About ninety minutes later I wandered out to carve and my creation looked pretty good. Ten minutes further down the line we were all sat at the table declaring this impromptu menu revision a complete success.

As it says in the title Dad saves dinner.
* no mobile 'phone reception