Friday, November 01, 2002

Oh crikey, where does the time go? Been a bit busy hence the lack of entries for a week, so time to dig out yer old time travelling socks once more, slip them on and slide back to last week for an update.

On Friday I had no sooner got in to the office than I was whisked out again by Gary to help with the big roadside extravaganza we'd been preparing all week. Our target area was sort of up the coast a bit and then inland but never straying west of Ipswich. I thin kwe got done everywhere we needed to and also found a new lunch location. Jets Cafe on the old RAF Bentwaters site. It is a bit creepy seing the remains of the US Airforce occupation sitting in some corners, buildings with old signs on etc mixed in with those that have been re-developed and have new businesses lurking within their walls. The food was excellent and very reasonably priced so we will no doubt be back in their in the future. Our route did also include Charsfield, but we got their far too late for it to have been worth hanging back on lunch to visit the Three Horseshoes. Never mind.

In the evening we were round at Ma & Pa again as Grandma was up for the weekend. Another nice meal and good chat etc.

As previously hinted at, Saturday was the day of the Llamasoft forum meet up in London. Things started OK but then went drstically pear-shaped to say the least. I got down to Waterloo by 10 as expected and found the hotel we were meeting at empty, they were already queueing for the Eye. I thus hoofed it up there as fast as my little legs would carry me and arrived in time to see them in the second pod up. Aaaaargh, missed my flight!

Having hung around for half an hour while the group rotated I finally got to say hello when they got down again. At which point it was decided I should go up after all (they still had my ticket) while they had a coffee and we would meet at the Science Museum in about an hour. That was the last I saw of them!

The trip on the Eye was as good as I had been lead to believe by a number of different people and I can highly recommend it. Hopefully my pictures will come out OK as it was a fairly nice day and I coud see quite a distance. I was also a bit surprised to find London not as dominated by high-rise development as I had thought. There has been a lot of bad press over recent years about new buildings spoiling the city but in all honesty I didn't see many big lumps sticking up. And as I actually like modern architechture it looked fine to me. The Eye itself is also a fantastic piece of kit although parts of it look like they could do with a re-spray already.

So, I then made my way down to South Kensington and up to the Science Museum. Nobody there. (Well, nobody I was expecting, there were plenty of other people but they don't count). A quick burst of text messages confirmed the group had heard the queue was enormous (it wasn't) so they had decided to head in to central London instead. I asked them for a place to meet and went off in the same direction, arriving at Leicester Square to get a mesaage saying they were now on their way to South Ken. I gave up at that point feeling hungry, tired and a little peed off. So had some food, did a bit of shopping and went home early. Not really the day I had planned and lessons will be learned before the next attempt.

On Sunday Joan and I stayed in the house to avoid the horrendous winds that were sweeping the country. Seems we made the right decision as a little lad from up the street was killed by a falling branch. Tragic all round and his parents are apparently in a right state.

I also spent the morning in bed with a splitting migraine, but managed to stir myself by lunchtime. Didn't really get anthing else done that day though.

Then it was Monday and back to work again. It was intended that I would stay in the office and look after things here while everyone else went out doing more roadside and deliveries. However, I ended up doing a run out to Bury St. Edmunds with a delivery. Not of books though, but of our modern apprentice Ray. He had managed to slash his head open on the lock at the back of the van he was loading and after glueing and stitching up at hospital needed to be taken home. It was nice to get out of the office and I have put in a claim for the mileage, but it did kind of interrupt my plans for the day somewhat.

Monday was also the day that the town centre gyratory system came in to operation. As far as we can tell it has all gone very well - it now being Friday we have received no complaints and only good mentions in the press. This must surely be a first of some kind. From my perspective both Park & Ride sites are running at least as smoothly if not better than before so I really have no worries.

Tuesday was another out and about day. This time just doing deliveries in the west of the county and with Charles for a change. We got loads done and had a nice dinner at Newmarket too. It was a long day though, which helps in my quest for a couple of flexi-days off between now and Christmas which I will hopefully be able to tie in with times Joan is off too so we can do the big present shopping thing.

That then leads us into the two days off I had this week. Wednesday was our trip to London to do the Eye and a river cruise. It all went OK to start with and then down hill (sound familiar?). We had a lucky escape at Ipswich station when it became obvious that Barry from work was going to be on our train. Fortune smiled though and he didn't spot us which did at least allow us to get to London in peace and quiet. I'm sure he doesn't mean it, but the man is just so tedious and irritating.

Anyway, all went well with the trains and tube and we got to Waterloo with no problems. A swift walk up (well, I knew the way this time) brought us to the Eye in good time but also a slight drizzle. That was not what we wanted, but unfortunately the weather was not to be on our side and we suffered from showers (and downpours) all day. Being early was deliberate as we decided to make the Eye the focus of the day and explore the area around it a bit rather than risk getting caught up in crowds elsewhere and miss our flight or cruise. So we went for a snack at the aquarium in the old County Hall building but decided not to actually go in to look at the fish for an hour as it was £8.75 a head. Which price also applied to the Dali exhibition which again I would like to look at, but will want to take a decent amount of time to get my money's worth.

Instead we went to the Royal Festival Hall for a mooch about and so forth. It is a wonderful building and we really must get to see some music being performed their sometime. We even managed to buy a couple of small Christmas presents whilst inside, which was nice.

Then it was up up and away again. I enjoyed it just as much as on Saturday despite the poor weather meaning reduced visibility and Joan thought it was great. The only downer was that our pod contained the obligatory screaming kid, who I think was lucky they don't have opening windows. I'm sure I wasn't that noisy when I was little so why should I have to suffer them now?

From the wheel we went straight on to the boat. That was also brilliant. Only went as far as the Tower and back again but lasted a good 45 minutes and enabled us to see many new things. Again, some brilliant buildings in a good mix of old and new. And the new City Hall opposite the tower is just fantastic. Must go back on a sunny day to get some pictures of it. I don't think I've done a boat on the Thames before (certainly have no memory of one) and am now itching to get water-borne again on different stretches of river.

Having nibbled a bit on the boat we skipped a proper lunch and headed off to South Kensington - to the Natural History Museum. Somewhere else Joan had never been and I'd not been for years. The dinosaurs were as good as ever (if a little dusty) and there have been some great changes since last time. And the mionerals gallery is as fascinating as ever. I still can't get over the fact that the crystals and things in there are actual natural occurences and not some sort of mad experiments with things. Such wonderful shapes and colours. And of course the building itself is also a work of art. I was sorely tempted by a book on the history of the museum but at £30 decided it was just too expensive.

By the time we got out of the museum it was 5.30 so we decided to get a meal before heading home. On arrival at South Ken underground station we discovered the District and Circle lines closed due to some fool throwing themselves under a train at Victoria. That meant everyone crushing down to the Piccadilly line platform leading to them then deciding to evacuate the station due to overcrowding. Well, hello! What exactly did they expect people to do? So there we were turfed out into the rain with no idea of what to do next. Fortunately I know how to read bus maps and we were soon on a 14 heading towards Tottenham Court Road where we know a good branch of Garfunkels. Naturally the bus terminated itself short at Piccadilly Circus leaving us out in the wet again. Still, a quick walk took us through Leicester Square to the Garfunlels on Charing Cross Road instead where we duly warmed up, dried off and stuffed our faces.

By the time we had eaten all seemed to be back to normal on the underground and we were able to get to Liverpool Street with no hitches. Of course that meant the rest of the final journey had to be awkward instead! We thought that arriving at 1948 left us too late for the 1945 train but it was also late, arriving in time to leave again at 2000. It was painfully slow most of the way, stopped at extra places and then they threw us all off at Colchester. We finally got back to Ipswich at 2200. Only an hour late! However, despite the transport and weather hassles it was a great day overall. Once again London has tried to put us off going back and failed.

Yesterday was a much calmer and lazier day in many respects. To start with we didn't go out of Felixstowe. We went in to town in the morning and came back with paint for the dining room, full stomachs after lunch at Puccinos, a bit of other shopping and... a Nintendo Gamecube. Yup, I finally got round to buying it, and all seems lovely and shiny and top fun (and managed to get second controller and memory card free)! Only spent half an hour or so with Pikmin so far but it looks very good indeed. Also picked up Super Monkey Ball and Zoocube dirt cheap today so that should last me a while.

We also cleared all the bookcases in preparation for the painting tomorrow (of the walls they rest on, fool!) and did a bit of general tidying and stuff.

Today started with a meeting of the town centre car parks group. At Bury Road P&R where it all seemed to go well and athen a visit from the man from Britvic. He wants me to change from Coke to him for vending machines at the P&R sites. Might well give him a try and see what happens.

And now it is piddling down with rain again and I need to go and catch my bus back to the site soon. Fingers crossed for a dry spell.

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