Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Hoorah, the rain has finally stopped and the sun has come out to play instead. Which meant I went for a wander over lunch for the last time this year. And came back with the Gamecube title half of Llamaland is raving about - Billy Hatcher And The Giant Egg. Seems daft enough for me so I reckon that I might just dedicate some of New Year's Day to playing it.

We've been invited round to Ma & Pa's for dinner tonight and also to stay to see 2004 in if we choose. Hopefully we will all be able to stay awake until then...

Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Oh bottoms, have forgotten to bring a cup with me today so I'm going to have to either overdose on fizzy stuff or just go thirsty. I should have known something would get left behind - everything else went nicely ahead of schedule this morning when getting ready to leave the house. Grrrr. Mind you, today is looking like being just as grey and dismal and rainy as yesterday was (although a fraction warmer) so I shouldn't be expecting everything to go just fine now. And still fairly bloomin' freezing here in the office, although not as bad as yesterday.

Watched Charlie's Angels - Full Throttle last night. Even more of a switch the brain off film than the last two mentioned, but thoroughly enjoyably daft anyway. And more a case of listing who wasn't in the film somewhere than who was. I think there was a plot in there somewhere between all the action set pieces and costume changes... I think I will also have to take the time one of these days to watch all the extra features from both CA films. Purely for research purposes and to gain a fuller understanding of the nuances of the film-making process you understand.

Have managed to get a bit further in the "Park & Ride as transport hub" report thanks to the lack of distractions here but still can't say I'm gripped by the material. I think I will at least manage a finished first draft for people to look at by the end of play this week but am not promising that it will be gripping reading.

Monday, December 29, 2003

Oooh, well we had a very good Christmas and I was just far too busy to be waffling on here. That's my excuse and I'm darn tootin' well sticking with it. A few highlights rather than a full blow-by-blow account I think (mainly because I'm lazy, I freely admit that one...).

23rd Dec - last working day - no management in the building. As a consequence most of the group spent most of the day doing very little indeed. Lots of chocolates were eaten in the morning and lots of alcohol was consumed from lunchtime onwards. I did go over to the bar for an hour or so after work, but not until I'd got some stuff sorted out and clocked out. Unlike some people I could mention. Also failed once again to win anything in the Christmas draw. So no surprises. It seems things also got a bit hairy after I left with broken glass flying about and people generally getting up each other's noses. I need some more details but no-one else who was there is in today... Then home finally for the break.

Christmas Eve - Joan still working. I popped in to to town for the last bits of food shopping and to pick up the stuff we had ordered which once again reminded me how lucky I am to have got a way from the retail trade. Also luckily Argos finished early for a change so we were able to get round to Ma & Pa's at quite a reasonable time for once, which was nice. V. tasty Goose etc to eat and far too many presents leaving us spoilt rotten once again. Same thing every year, we all spend far too much money on each other, but there you go.

Might be different next year as Dad has stopped working again (don't think I mentioned it before - after his 6 month probationary period was over his boss apparantly turned in to something resembling a monster, so he decided that she wasn't worth putting up with
at his time of life). We shall see. In fact Dad was a bit quite, and spent most of the rest of Christmas in bed not very well at all. Poor chap.

Christmas Day say Helen, Bhupen and Alexander come to us for Christmas dinner. All went very well, lots more presents (Joan and I were especially good to each other, again!) although Helen also a bit ill. Some really evil bugs going round at the moment it would seem. So we ate lots more, played games, watched some festive tv and generally had a good time. We also watched the first Christmas DVD - A Man Apart - which was pretty good.

Boxing Day was more relaxed, but Ma, Pa & Richard came along for their tea - although Dad didn't exactly eat very much!

Saturday Joan was back at work and I avoided town altogether. Which seems to have been the best plan as there were people everywhere fighting for the bargains and complaining about and returning stuff. And yesterday was not much better from what we saw - although most of that was from the other side of the fence as customers for a change. We only went in to town because Joan had to do some stuff on the computer at work to ensure everyone got paid.

Yesterday was also Joan's birthday and she got further spoilt.

So today I am one of the few back in the office. It is bitterly cold in here as the heating has been off for 5 days and now doesn't seem to want to start up again. It has also been raining nearly all day so I've not ventured out. Might dash to the post office on my way home to send something off to a friend in America, but otherwise I think I will be off home soon.

Other entertainment - finished the re-read of Redemtion... and enjoyed it a lot. Had forgotten nearly all the plot twists although not all of them made much sense it has to be said. Still, fun and non-taxing. Not started anything else as yet - catching up with magazines and the like. Also switched our brains off and watched The Scorpion King and the Scooby Doo film. Not sure quite which was the daftest!

Monday, December 22, 2003

Aaaaah, pretty. Someone's been out with the icing sugar all over the place. Alternatively it could have been snowing somewhat overnight. Whatever the explanation some of the roads in to work looked very festive and nice and stuff. Of course there is no chance it will last for Christmas Day, in fact it will probably be gone before I get home tonight, but never mind. We can still say we had some snow in Christmas week for a change...

Pretty good weekend all told. House now pretty much ready for the hordes (well, the families anyway). Most of the shopping done and ready to cook (we pick the ordered bits up on Christmas Eve). All the presents wrapped (apart from the ones still not yet bought).

Friday, December 19, 2003

Grrrrr. Left office at 5pm. Finally got home at ten past seven. Was all going fine until I got up to Park & Ride where I made the mistake of popping in to the office for a quick chat. Turned to the cctv moitor just in time to see someone drive into the exit blocker. So that was another hour and a half of work claimed while I helped in the sorting out - directing traffic and stuff. Double checked the tape before going home and she definitely went through while the light was red and the blocker was rising. So no liability for us - all her own fault. Got to feel sorry for the woman as it can't be nice, but how hard is it really to look for green before driving on?

Finished the customs book - very good. And the next I decided to go for is another re-read. The Redemption Of Althalus from David & Leigh Eddings. Only been three years since I first read that one, but still not remembering more than the basic details. A good untaxing read, which is just what I need at this time of year.

Thursday, December 18, 2003

Work Christmas dinner yesterday went very well. Down to the Lord Nelson for the third year running and once again superb food and good service. Sonic had organised certificates for assorted end of year awards which went down OK apart from a few grumpy sods who refused to play ball. Management paid for the drinks and virtually instructed us not to go back to work for the rest of the afternoon. OK, so I did along with most of the rest of us, but the thought was definitely there.

Been pretty quiet again today and expecting more of the same tomorrow. Although it seems Joan has bought a new fish tank so we will no doubt spend most of this evening sorting that out. Oooh, the thrills.

Didn't mention the recent entertainment highlights last time so here they are now. As well as buying a new VCR we have watched A Knight's Tale which was fun and suitably daft for spending a couple of hours with. Not exactly much in the way of historical accuracy but then we weren't expecting any. And I quite liked having a totally inapropriate (by normal standards) rock soundtrack rather than the usual orchestral stuff. Had the feet tapping.

Also over the weekend I re-read Terry Pratchett's Hogfather as I needed a lighter bit of fiction than the Gap stuff and wanted something Christmassy. Or at least the Discworld version of. Enjoyed it much more than the first time I read it, but then that was when I was off work with depression for the first time back in 1998. Am now nearly finished with The Duty Men by Peter Gillman & Paul Hamman which is actually the book of a late '80s BBC series about Customs & Excise. Fascinating stuff - mainly a bit of history tied in with a number of detailled case studies that would have been the episodes on TV. I'd love to see an updated version (like, how have the figures for drug seizures changed etc) so might just look out for stuff on the subject in the New Year. Expect to finish that one on the bus home tonight or later this evening but not sure what to go for next...

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Oooh, where was I? Oh yes, on the way to Bury St Edmunds with Joan. It was very foggy in places but we got there and back safe and sound. Her review went OK - and then Chris told her he wanted her to cut her hours back again as he could see she was getting stressed out once more. So wile we are still waiting for confirmation of what she will actually be doing, we think she will be going down to four days a week for a while. Hopefully this will also co-incide with some help when she is off so that she doesn't have the work to do on the days she is there and also the sorting out of Marion. Matt is also less than happy with her at the moment and made that clear to Chris too.

Then Weds night was the Mexican meal with Sonic & team. Which also went well. Our first meetings with Mrs Sonic and Miss Matt, a very convivial atmosphere and I enjoyed the food too. Although I didn't go for anything particularly spicy and there was far too much of it. No-one finished their meal. I think if we go there again we will not bother with starters.

Thursday was my guest appearance in the office. Stayed in plodding away at P&R stuff rather than going out in the van I had booked. Then again, it was absolutely chucking it down most of the day which I felt was a good enough excuse to stay in.

Friday at home again. Went to see Kirstie the hygenist in the afternoon and she seemed reasonably pleased with the results of all the trips to Colchester. Still managed to find a few things to moan about, but then a trip to the dentist wouldn't be right without getting complained at. And I know I should probably do a bit more teeth cleaning than I manage some days - especially after all the effort, pain and expense - but it does get a bit tedious some nights. Also did some more Christmas shopping while I was in town, so Joan should be getting some nice surprises next week. And got further soaked in the continuing rain.

Sat & Sun were both days of work for Joan and pottering about the house for me. Got some of the decorations up (Outside and window lights, the tree, some other fripperies) and also wrapped all the presents I've got for Joan so far as we don't know what she's working between now and Christmas/her birthday so I thought I ought to take the chance when she was out. Also finally got round to tidying up some of the numerous cables trailling across the lounge.

Saturday night we went along to Ma & Pa's for dinner as Grandma was up. Very nice meal and also very nice and unexpected Christmas present from Grandma. Which has gone straight in the bank towards a holiday. Although saying that we have had to buy a new video recorder as the old one just died in the sound department. Why do these things always pack up at Christmas time?

So now I'm back at work for a whole week before a two day one next week. Nothing else to add for now.

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

In, out, in, out (shake it all about!) - much as I like having time off work I think next time I'll try to have it in one lump rather than splitting the days. All very strange.

So, Bruges. A really good day if a bit bloody cold at times. Drive down was OK, tunnel crossing as boring as ever then a quick trip up the coast and we were there. I did of course sleep through most of the travelling, cars having this effect on me if I'm not the one behind the wheel. Bruges was just as pretty as ever (and not spoilled by the temporary ice rink in the market square) and we had a nice meal before hitting the markets. Another time we will just get some chips or something as the meal took up a big chunk of the shopping time but you live and learn.

Still, fortified with lots of food and mulled wine we prepared to shop until we dropped. Unfortunately some of the stalls turned out to be a bit disappointing - not many were particularly Christmassy which was partly why we were there after all, to get some foreign festive festoonery. Lots of clothes stalls and quite a few selling crystlas and aromatherapy stuff. Still, we did get a few more presents sorted and generally enjoyed ourselves. We were also a bit surprised to find most of the shops closed despite the thousands of people milling around town. Still, their loss. I think we will just have to go back for a longer day in the summer.

Monday we both were off but stayed local. Popped in to town for lunch (mmm, Puccinos) and some more shopping. Still got one or two presents to get but nearly there now.

Then yesterday I was back at work. But at a meeting in Norwich with Norfolk and Cambridgeshire which lasted nearly all day so I never got in to the office at all. Quite interesting at times, but I'm not sure what will come of most of what we covered - we were all sitting there talking about things we'd like to do jointly to promote public transport but at the same time all complaining about having no money to spare to do so. We shall see. Went up with the marketing manager but he decided to have a look around town before coming home. So I regretted not having brought any reading material with me for the train home.

Today I am off again as Joan has to go to Bury this afternoon for a meeting and I am taking her. Although if the fog doesn't start lifting soon I think we will have to take the train instead of driving. I don't actually mind driving in the fog, but Joan doesn't like car travel at the best of times. We will just have to see if things improve... Then tonight we have a mexican meal with my team from work. Hopefully that will be a good one.

Saturday, December 06, 2003

Looks like three days was the best I could manage on the advent calendar!

Thursday I was out and about again looking for new timetable outlets. A succesful jaunt once more, although there was one place refused to stock them for a change - grumpy sods. In the evening we started a long weekend (well, long for me, interrupted for Joan as she has had to go to work today) by watching Still Crazy - cracking film in the Spinal Tap vein but more British. And Jimmy Nail, Bill Nighy and Billy Connolly are a lot more watchable. And the music's damn good too.

Yesterday we had a lazy start then went shopping for more Christmas stuff. Nearly all sorted now. And not really much else to say about the day! Oh, yes, finished the Darwin Awards book - more funny lessons to learn there. Not started anything else yet though.

Today Joan was not at all well to start with, but finally went to work around 1030. Hope she makes it through OK as tomorrow we are off to Belgium and the Brugges Christmas market. Which should be a great if long day. More news on that after the event.

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Foggy today and I didn't fance driving over the Orwell Bridge. So used Martlesham instead of London Road. Not actually much slower either (OK, so it didn't help that I saw the bus I was aiming for leave while I was parking the car, but then we did leave home late).

Right then, what's under today's window? Ooooh, a nice hippo. Can you guess the theme of the calendar yet?

Today I am supposed to be doing some testing of our on-street timetable/journey planning kiosks. But the test rig upstairs that should have been updated earlier is still not working. Great. Really fills me with confidence this place some days.

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

OK, time to see what's under today's flap of advent calender. Fumble, rip, open... Aaah, fluffy sheepie! I wonder how many days I will manage to keep this going for.

Here's a strange conincidence I heard on the radio this morning. A farmer in Scotland once saved the son of a local Lord from drowning in a bog. When the Lord went round the next day to thank the farmer he also offered a reward. The farmer refused, but the Lord persisted and offered to pay for the farmer's son to have the same education as his own. The farmer's son was Alexander Fleming who went on to discover Penicillin and the Lord was Randolph Churchill, with his son being Winston. So if the farmer hadn't pulled the boy from the bog we might never have had the wonder drug or the inspirational leader. Funny how things interconnect.

Mind you I have also seen the latest in a long line of jokes scrawled in the dirt on the back of vans today. Following from the original "wash me" and later variations "don't wash - seeds planted" and "I wish my wife was this dirty" we now have "Driven well? Call 999 it must be stolen".

Monday, December 01, 2003

Crikey, its December already. Better open up the first window on the advent calender. Hmm, rustle, tear of perforations, oooooh. A picture of a kitten. How nice. Wonder what will be under tomorrow's flap...

Anyway, another good few days from my point of view since last post. Friday I was out in the van looking for new timetable outlets. Did the Felixstowe and Bawdsey peninsulas (well, I had to do them some time, couldn't keep putting them off just because I live there) and got a whole load of successful hits. Plus lunch at home with Tawny. And once again reminded of what a lovely part of the world it is that we live in.

Saturday I basically stayed home tidying and stuff. Joan had her works Christmas dinner in the evening and brought Marion home to get changed. Which turned out to be quite a noble gesture as she had really upset her earlier in the day. Just general insensitivity I think - saying other stores were doing better because of who was at them and thus running Joan down by implication. I thin they are sorted a bit better now but it isn't the best working atmosphere at the moment. I just wish there was something other than listening I could do to help. Still, they had apretty good evening as far as I've been told.

While they were out enjoying themselves I watched Rat Race which had a funny moment or two. Not the best comedy film I've ever seen but a passable way to kill a couple of hours. Also finished the Gap books. Overall a superb series with just about the right amount of resolution and finality to the ending. That's not to say there is no room for a second series following on some time, but only in the sense of it being a big old universe out there and things have changed over the course of these five books. So that it would be nice to see how those changes pan out over a longer period. Bit of a breathless read as well due to the style of writing with
precious little in the way of description of the locations etc - just action and conversation. But still enjoyable. Am now about to start the second collection of Darwin Awards as compiled by Wendy Northcutt.

Then yesterday Joan and I had our big Christmas shopping day. Used Martlesham Park & Ride and spent several hours and a lot of money in Ipswich. We certainly broke the back of it, but still quite a few bits and bobs needed due to shops being out of stock etc. Mind you, the town centre was absolutely heaving so it was inevitable we wouldn't be able to get everything. I'll just have to keep wandering up to the shops of a lunch time.

Thursday, November 27, 2003

OK, so these people want to turn London Road in to some sort of glorified car lot. But without the middleman. So a place where you can take your car along if you want to sell it, and people will know (presumably having seen adverts somewhere) that cars are for sale there every Sunday. Better than a sign in the window at the side of the road, cheaper than an advert in the paper and potentially more profit than trading it in with a dealer. And of course we should get either a share of the profits or a fixed fee every week to help top up the budget.

Probably won't end up happening as we have never done anything like it in the past, but with a new Director and new Chief Exec recently they may be looking for ways to supplement the budget. We shall see what comes about...
And that was another evening of laughter and inane grinning with mirth that we all enjoyed rather a lot. So here's one from her ouvre to tickle the tastebuds:

by Pam Ayres

I am sitting on the sofa.
By the fire and staying in.
Me head is free of comfort
And me nose is free of skin
Me friends have run for cover,
They have left me pale and sick
With me pockets full of tissues
And me nostrils full of Vick

That bloke in the telly adverts,
He's supposed to have a cold.
He has a swig of whatnot
And he drops off, good as gold,
His face like snowing harvest
Slips into sweet repose.
Well I bet this tortured breathing
Never whistled down his nose.

I burnt me bit of dinner
Cause I've lost me sense of smell,
But then, I couldn't taste it,
So that worked out very well,
I'd buy some, down the cafe,
But I know that at the till,
A voice from work will softly say
"I thought that you were ill".

So I'm wrapped up in a blanket
With me feet up on a stool,
I've watched the telly programmes
And the kids come home from school,
But what I haven't watched for
Is any sympathy,
Cause all you ever get is:
"Oh no, keep away from me!"

Medicinal discovery,
It moves in mighty leaps,
It leapt straight past the common cold
And gave it us for keeps.
Now I'm not a fussy woman,
There's no malice in me eye
But I wish that they could cure
the common cold. That's all. Goodbye.

So there you go. Not that she performed that one last night (in fact I've never encountered it before) it was just the first one I found transcrbed on to the internet just now.

Also had a particularly bizarre dream I can remember for a change so here's the gen on that: Walking along the sea front with Joan, Ma & Pa (well, OK, the Spa is on the sea front so that could have triggered it) to find a whole load of new amusements. Including a big observation tower ride thingy whereby you entered a capsule a bit like on the London Eye. This then rose to give a good view of the sea and town, then descended slowly before heading sideways on to a sort of rollercoaster type track. This rose up higher than the tower had before, well above the top of the cliffs doing various loops and twirls along the way. Sensibly we decided against this as a form of entertainment but found there was a new set of steps running up the cliff face in to town. So we took those. Only for them to get steeper and steeper as they rose (over a railway that must also have been new!) eventually turning in to a metal ladder with extremely skinny rungs. Not sure how we would have coped if someone had wanted to come down while we were going up. Anyway, I woke up before reaching the top to find it was exactly 2 minutes before my alarm was due to go off.

And what did we find upon rising? The first frost of the year, that's what. So much scraping of windscreens along the street and further reasons for us to thank Jerry for putting that driveway in. Mmmm, the delights of a sheltered car on a frosty morning!

Today we seem to be pretty much devoid of management again in here. Some of them are out at a "Management Action Conference" while the others are interviewing for a post in the Community Transport team. So naturally Gary hasn't arrived yet (0929) and Charles has turned up but then disappeared straight away. I'm sure they will be around to do some work at some point. Just not sure when. For my part I have a visitor due at 10 who wants to try and persuade me to let him use a P&R site on a Sunday for some purpose he has refused to explain on the phone. So we will almost definitely say no. Certainly not used them for non-P&R purposes up to now - don't want to sully the image after all. Oh, and in thrilling technical news I've popped up to a higher resolution on my sexy flatscreen monitor and it is looking even better than before. Which is nice.

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

I'm devastated. Right now I should be on the way to Stowmarket to bring a mini-bus back to Ipswich, but they've changed the schedules so I don't have to go. Such a shame, would have been my first go at actually driving something officially used to carry passengers... And a proper purpose-built one at that, not just a converted van. Hey ho, one of these days. As it stands I have just been interviewed for the Department's attempt to get re-accredited for Investors in People status along with a couple of others from the New Routes team. So I think we gave a good account of what we do, why we do it etc. I get the feeling that if we don't get the plaque on the wall it won't be our fault at least.

The review yesterday went OK - literally just a five minute check I was roughly where I ought to be target-wise then in to a normal 1 to 1 session. And being pretty much on target hadn't stopped me being paranoid about the whole thing though. Wonder if I will ever just be able to relax and enjoy the job. Which today has seen me finishing off some advert designs to go in a cinema magazine and starting the wheels in motion for production of some alternative publicity formats. All of which might just help pull in a few more passengers across the county. And also spend some of the extra money we've been told to spend quickly. Which is of course for revenue purposes only, and not something we can use to rebuild the low bridge at London Road Park & Ride so we can use bigger buses. Harumph. Also had Secured car park status at Bury Road re-awarded for another year. Which was nice.

Had the first "Back at Argos" dream in ages last night. Definitely meant to be Stowmarket, but moved to an attractive riverside location and seriously expanded. If the place had really been like that I might have stayed.

Back to the Spa again tonight to see Pam Ayres. I was wondering whether really I'm too young to be enjoying people like her and Richard Digance, but frankly we laughed so much last week that I've given up caring. Never exactly been deliberatelty fashionable in my tastes. I just go with what I like.

Monday, November 24, 2003

And another reasonably good weekend has passed. So where was I?

Oh yes, Richard Digance. Very obviously a bit under the weather with a cold, but still gave a very good show. Quite a few songs and jokes we'd not heard before (or at least not for 10+ years) mixed in with the more familiar stuff. Plus he is actually rather good when it comes to playing the guitar. A very enjoyable evening's entertainment. Then as we were
driving home it started to rain. And basically it didn't stop again until sometime between us going to bed last night and getting up again this morning. So a wet weekend all told.

Friday was mainly Park & Ride stuff for me again - in the morning meeting with the engineers to see if some modifications we want to the older sites are possible and affordable, and in the afternoon seeing about a new stop for Martlesham. The latter of which meant a trip up the road in the rain.

Saturday Joan was working so I just pottered about, ironed and stuff. Then yesterday was Ma & Pa's annual "Its nearly Christmas" party so we went along to that. Good food, drink and chat as usual.

So, nothing startling but nothing bad either.

Am now on to the final Gap book - The Gap In To Ruin - This Day All Gods Die and beginning to see things coming to the end. Defnitely enjoyed the whole series but I don't think it will get re-read as often as some others. Not sure what I will go for next either, something a bit lighter I expect.

And now I'd better start putting together the evidence of where I am with my targets in advance of my interim review meeting tomorrow.

Thursday, November 20, 2003


And another big post-gap. Seems this is becoming a habit.

Anyway, had a pretty good weekend all told. Last two days of Joan's week off so we were able to spend some quality time together getting stuff sorted and done and so forth. Saturday night we went out with Ma, Pa & Richard to the Beagle for dinner in advance of Dad's birthday on the Sunday. Very nice it was too. Especially as the last time we went
there was before the mouth treatment started, and going there again proved it was over (well, almost over - see below).

Then Sunday we got Christmas underway in earnest. No, really. Sat down and printed off the majority of the address labels for cards, started looking at what presents we already had and what we might buy for people, sorted out our finances to make sure we can pay for it all and watched Scrooge. Joan's favourite film and one she probably watches 3 or 4 times a year, but especially in November and December. Mind you, Sunday was also the Christmas lights switch-on in Ipswich but even though we were running Park & Ride free we stayed away. Probably a good thing we did too after hearing the reports after the event. Despite encouraging people to take it easy and go for a coffee after the magic moment they all decided to go home instead. So all the buses were packed, people had to wait and tempers flared. Glad I wasn't caught up in it all.

Monday it was back to the Dentist in Colchester. I thought this was the review to see how it all went, but instead it was a clean-up and quick check things were OK with me. Now I can go back to normal cleaning and seeing my own hygenist before the actual review in February. So another three months of slight uncertainty over what's going on in my mouth. But they do want the rest of the money now not then so I guess he must be fairly confident it worked.

Tuesday was just a normal day in here, with no alarms or excursions to mention. Then yesterday I was up to Norwich for an ATCO meeting. Should have been down to Crawley to look at their new busways but they cried off and we ended up staying local (for me). Which was nice as I was able to take Joan to work and pick her up as normal. Low turnout (only 6 counties!) but we got through loads of stuff and actually got opinions out of everyone who was there, rather than the usual blank looks from most representatives. Plus bits of it will be useful as the basis for a report I have to write here.

Tonight we are off to the Spa to see Richard Digance, which should be amusing.

Friday, November 14, 2003

Hoorah, Martlesham is finally open, the punters are coming in and I can get back to some semblance of normality again...

The launch event on Tuesday went pretty well in the end. It was, of course, dominated by the councillors etc who have never been on site before and probably never will again but at least a couple of the speeches managed to give some credit to some of the people who'd actually done the work. And the doves all flew without encouragement when they got released, which was a step up from events at the Bury Road launch in 2000. OK, so we were pleased it was all over before darkness fell as the lights in the terminal building didn't get fitted until yesterday, but otherwise good stuff. I even managed to get on telly for a few seconds that night. They even managed to make a cake in the shape of one of the buses that was surprisingly edible. Mind you, it was a grey and cold day (again). We really must get the hang of launching things in the summer from now on. Would be nice to have some scantily clad models around or something. Just to add a touch of colour to events you understand...

So Wednesday was the real test of all our hard work when we opened to the public. I got there at 0645 in time for the first bus to roll at 0700. And the first passenger finally rolled up at 0750 or thereabouts. Which was nice as we were beginning to think we'd be stood there all day waiting. So we did the ceremonial handing over of a 20 trip smartcard, bottle of wine and P&R umbrella. There were press around as well so I also ended up in the Evening Star that day. Fame! I'm gonna live forever, etc. Ahem. It all went pretty well from then on with a steady stream of people running through including several who bought smartcards before even trying the route (and thus committed themselves to coming back), a few who bought them on their way home again and also Joan and Mum (who I met on my bus back to the site, which was nice). Hoorah! It was of course another grey and rainy day so that may have put a few people off from trying us out, but in the end we must have had at least 60 cars through. Which compares well with the other two when they opened. But it was a long day and I was more than glad to get home. Despite ending up spending the evening on my own as Joan went out to Bingo with Helen. Total winnings £2.50 each. Whooppee, life of luxury for us from now on.

Then yesterday and we had hoped to get back to regular stuff. In fact I had hoped not to go near Martlesham, but that was not to be. The plan was simple enough - go out first thing and put up the "open for christmas shopping" signs at London Road (the one at Bury Road got removed last year and we haven't got ant for Martlesham yet) then pelt off to Bury St Edmunds to deliver some timetables to Greene King brewery. But while we were putting the signs up the phone rang. Martlesham. One of the new buses wasn't working properly so had been replaced by a spare. Which was a couple of inches taller. So naturally the driver had smacked into the overhanging roof of the terminal building, ripping a gutter off and twisting some of the planks. Marvellous.

Gary and I thus went over to see the damage and have a chat with the on-site engineer and project managers about stopping it happen again. After much arguing and stomping about we finally got them to agree to extend the kerb line away from the building. After all, we might end up running bigger buses still in the future (including double deckers) so need to be able to cope with those too. Not sure when it will happen, bu the sooner the better in my book.

All of which meant we didn't even leave here towards Bury until after lunch. Then on the way back Gary's phone rang - some furniture he'd ordered had arrived. As we had the van we picked that up and I did my good deed for the day by helping him get it up to his flat. Those little things that make me remember some of the reasons I was pleased not to be working at Argos any more. Flat-pack wardrobes are just so heavy!

And now the weekend is approaching rapidly. I think I will devote the rest of today to clearing the clutter that has accumulated on and around my desk during all the launch build-up, then next week back to the cut and thrust of trying to meet targets.

Monday, November 10, 2003

Only another day to go now before Martlesham Park & Ride opens, so hopefully with that out of the way I will be able to calm down my life a fraction and get back on with normal stuff like the rest of my job and things. Certainly had precious little time to keep up with it last week. So, what did I manage to do?

Tuesday was a training day - how to write better English. Not sure how much I learned really, and how much was just reminding me of how I ought to be doing things. Some of it was interesting but I think I could probably have got by without it. Still, we are supposed to be an organisation committed to continuous improvement so I shouldn't grumble. Going on the odd "not so useful" course keeps my name up there as someone willing to go on these things when something worth doing turns up. Plus it was a day out of the office, which normally would be welcome but this time of course was merely one in five days out in the week.

Wednesday and Thursday saw me do Martlesham, Woodbridge, Felixstowe and Lowestoft on P&R promotional duties. Both days went pretty well. The only complaints were related to the roundabout at the site entrance which is nothing to do with me and generally people were looking forward to us opening. In fact we were welcomed almost with open arms by some. My fears about the price compared to the other two sites may prove justified come the opening, but nobody raised them as a significant issue. Mind you, the number of people who never go to Ipswich (or at least say they never go) was staggering. I know they say Suffolk folk are an insular lot but I wasn't sure I believed it until now. The most extreme was a girl who confessed to having lived in Lowestoft 23 years and only been to Norwich once in that time and Ipswich never. I think I'd go stark raving bonkers (again!) if I didn't see different places regularly.

It was good to spend the three days out with some of the drivers and get to know them a bit better. There was a time when I knew all the P&R drivers quite well, but what with other jobs and them changing a lot I've sort of lost touch. So I will be making an effort with the other two sites as well to make sure people know I'm Mr P&R!

The trips also gave me the chance to confirm that the buses are comfortable for the longer journey in to town from Martlesham. OK, so I stayed awake and reading but other spare drivers managed to snooze their way around the county. We did also have a spot of excitement in Lowestoft at one retail park. First the manager of one of the units tried to make a scene about us being there and taking his trade away. But we had got permission from the site management to be there so that was easily resolved. Then we had a car catch fire in the car park which was quite spectacular. And the fire brigade were very quick to arrive so we got to see them at work before making our retreat - after all, a bus is no competition with men in uniform when it comes to getting attention.

Friday was a delivery day for me after we ran out of other people to do them instead. A slight mix-up with the van (mainly relating to the person doing deliveries for me on Wednesday smashing a mirror on it) meant we did 167 miles in a very nice Rover 75 estate. Which meant coming back in to town half way through for a re-fill but we were prepared to put up with that. After all, we did have a lovely leather interior and more toys to play with than you could shake a stick at. Down to individual climate control for each side of the car! Plus there was a nice lunch in Laxfield, another pub I will have to take Joan along to one day. Roll on next summer and us starting to have days out again.

So that was the working week over with finally. I was fairly knackered by the time I got home on Friday night and looking forward to relaxing a bit. Of course Joan was at work both Saturday and Sunday so I was still up around normal time to take her in. But then I spent two days doing a bit of tidying and ironing, a bit of reading and a bit of playing games on this here PC. OK, so I also did a lot of struggling with stupidly designed spring clips while trying to change a headlamp bulb (I think I wasted over an hour trying to undo the blasted thing before giving up, getting help from Dad and watching him solve it in 5 seconds flat). Went on a bit of a downwrd spiral for a while after that - mainly frustration over being either beaten by something so stupid or at being so stupid myself. Didn't really pick up until Joan came home again - she is my living anti-depressant.

On the book front I am now on to number 4 - The Gap into Madness: Chaos And Order and still we are meeting new characters and situations. Which is good in the stopping boredom setting in stakes but adds more twists and turns to the plot that will need resolving at some point. Am definitely enjoying the series but at the same time wish I could get to the end quicker.

Last night we squeezed in watching Bend It Like Beckham which managed to be a lot funnier than I had expected from the reviews. Could be that some of the jokes made more sense to us through knowing Bhupen and his family than perhaps they would to others.

So now we are almost up to date again. This morning was the final on-site snagging run through for Martlesham before the launch ceremony tomorrow. Found a few minor things that give cause for slight worry (like the building lights haven't arrived yet!) but I think we should be OK in the end. I'll be glad when the first punter turns up on Wednesday morning though. Then this afternoon I have been working here after yet another trip to the dentist. Just the normal one in Felixstowe today for a check up and filling. Face still a bit sore but then I did need extra anaesthetic again as I was a tad sensitive when he started drilling. Right, that will do for today.

Monday, November 03, 2003

Grrrrrrrrrr. Another two hours at Argos last night waiting for alarm engineers (and again we attracted a security guard and three police people). That was after a pretty good day when we had been lazy in the morning then visited Makro for some stocking up on boring but useful stuff (cat food, loo roll, you know the score). Kind of left a grim taste in the mouth after the enjoyment we'd had earlier.

Today has been pretty good too apart from the early start. My bus was in Framlingham and after we finally got there (long story involving forgotten leaflets and diversions to Martlesham site) we had a welcome response level. People knew we were going to be there and wanted to know about the site. I hope they translate into users. Course tomorrow then more bussing weds and thurs before deliveries on fri.

Tomorrow is also our 8th wedding anniversary. Where does the time go so fast?

Full report on all the week's activities when I have the energy to write it...

Saturday, November 01, 2003

What happened to October then? Don't seem to have had a minute to sit and think, much less stick stuff up on here. Anyway, Argos refit is nearly finished now. Joan has had a hectic time of it trying to keep everything going while the shop has been turned inside out and back again. I must say it is looking very nice in there now, but not sure if all the effort has been totally worth it. She hasn't had a day off this week (and funnily enough Marion has been on holiday for the whole process) and is getting a bit tired. I think all the staff are looking forward to the end now.

I've been frantically trying to get everything done for Martlesham opening. I think we are just about there now, which is good as I'm basically not in the office again until the day of the opening ceremony. This week I will be out doing promotional bus trips three days, on a course one day and delivering the new area books the last. They came this week and are looking particularly good, if I do say so myself. But too much lifting as the quantities ordered seem to get more each time. And with a bit of arm-twisting and calling in of favours I have managed to get help with the distribution so nearly all the books will be out to the right places by the end of the week as well. That will help my quest for new outlets to resume as I won't spend half of it playing catch-up.

The big thrill for me was last Sunday when we had a visit from College friends Cara & Phil, who I've not seen for something like 9 years. Joan had to work unfortunately, but we called in to see her and a good time was had by all I think. They haven't changed a bit (apart from the two girls of course) and I just felt totally relaxed with them here. Great stuff. We also went out to Ma & Pa's for tea that night which was not so relaxing - Dad hit us with the news that he has a dodgy ear, a dodgy eye and during the stress that made him quit the Abbeyfield job suffered a minor lacuna stroke which may have affected his memory a bit. It hit me quite a bit and I had a few funny moments myself. You don't expect it to happen to your own parents after all. Still, all seems to be either treatable or not worth major worry and he is getting on with life the same.

Catching up on entertaining things, I am now on to book 3 The Gap into Power - A Dark & Hungry God Arises and totally gripped. No chance of anything getting between the books now, I will be going all out to the end of the series. We also watched Enigma which was very good. And nice to see the British perspective on code breaking after the travesty of U-571. Time for lunch now (I think I can manage it after the shock of buying new tyres earlier)...

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Gave in to temptation earlier and had my first hot Bacon & Sausage roll from Alberts since before the tooth work started today. Absolutely wonderful and a bit nice too. Made up for the annoyances on the way in this morning. We had a bit of a clear out from the loft on Sunday which resulted in me sticking out for the dustmen this morning: 10 black sacks, a couple of old suitcases (full), some old boxes of junk, a mysterious short ladder found up there and our old headboard which for some reason we had kept - all of which took a while to pile up. Then driving along I managed to turn off the A14 and was halfway along the Nacton Road before I realised it, so had to divert back to the A14 to get to Park & Ride. All of which meant I missed the bus I was aiming for and arrived later than planned. Worries me a bit that. I know I'm awake when I'm driving but I quite often find myself at a place without remembering the stretch of road since I last noticed it. I must have been paying attention because I've never ploughed into another car or wound up dead in a ditch, but it is a tad scary.

Oh well, here now and all the management for the whole division, never mind just the group, are out on some away day brainstorm session so at least it is peaceful here and we can get on with stuff.

Yesterday was another Library P&R plugging day. Woodbridge this time. A bit busier than Aldeburgh but still not really worth sending two of us out for the day. Still, another nice lunch on expenses. Monday just the usual desk work stuff. Nothing startling.

Still not feeling particularly enthralled by much of this at the moment and would rather be somewhere else. Although possibly not at Argos with Joan - they have finally started on the re-fit the shop has been needing for a good five years so things area bit chaotic there to say the least. Still, at least she will be getting her own office out of it for the cash stuff so with any luck her life will be much better.

I guess it must just be the approach of winter - had to get the big coat out for the first time today, clocks go back on Saturday night, half term next week. Stuff like that really. I dunno. I'm sure I'll be over it in a few days.

Saturday, October 18, 2003

Well, Tuesday was pretty much a complete waste of time. OK, so Aldeburgh may not be the busiest town on a windy autumn day, but during the 4 hours or so we managed to put up with sitting around in the Library we only gave out 4 P&R leaflets and spoke to about 6 people. Hopeless. I don't think they actually told anyone we were going to be there, which didn't help of course. Still, got a nice lunch out of it.

Wednesday we had the secured car park inspection for Martlesham and passed, then another operations meeting in the afternoon which went well.

Thursday I had the day off to relax with Joan. Partly because I was simply knackered and needed a day off and partly to use up some hours. Only been back from holiday three weeks and already managed to build up two days worth of flexi time. And no prospect of that letting up until after Martlesham opens now so I thought I'd better have a day when I still could. So we did some shopping and washed the car but otherwise took it easy.

Yesterday it was back into the thick of launch planning and working out distribution for the books when they get here. And now today I have ironed a bit and will be off to pick Joan up when she finishes at 3 for a lazy rest of the day.

Monday, October 13, 2003

I wish this building would make its mind up about what temperature it wants to be. Luckily I decided to bring an extra layer today as its been OK, too hot and now too cold. Most peculiar. Mind you, I was here at just after 7 today following the dropping off of Jerry at the hospital. He might well be under the knife or even out of theatre by now. If it all goes according to plan he should be allowed home again tomorrow but I think someone else will be picking him up.

So, we had a pretty good weekend all told.

Apart from Friday night – in celebration of having my teeth back we decided some nice crusty bread was in order. So naturally I sliced my left thumb open with the bread knife. Still painful and bruised now although the cut seems to be healing nicely. Putting a real cramp on my joypad skills!

Saturday Joan worked in the morning then when I went to pick her up I got notified of a change to the plans. Instead of going home we went to Puccinos for lunch with Lesley. Which was particularly tasty as always in there. I really must get round to trying something else rather than having the same filling all the time, but it is just so nice… We then managed to sleep through most of the afternoon, which was also nice. I think we are now finally caught up with the missing sleep caused by the alarm.

Yesterday we spent the morning wandering around the market – even managed to spend some money for a change. Although mainly what we came home with was fruit, veg and bird seed. Then while I did exciting grass cutting stuff Joan went mad in the kitchen. So we had a fabulous dinner with homemade pumpkin soup and wonderful turkey with lots of different roast veggies. Lip smacking stuff. Plus we re-watched Mission Impossible 2 which was pretty good too.

Today I have of course achieved loads through being here so early (and especially before the distractions of phones and other people arrived on the scene). I could almost bring myself to do it again if the situation arose. Tomorrow I am in Aldeburgh at the library it would seem, doing an exhibition for the P&R publicity plan. So definitely an early finish for me today is warranted. Which will be arranged by simply slipping off after lunch to re-distribute all the new P&R leaflets which have all been delivered to London Road.

Friday, October 10, 2003

Well it’s finally decided and official. We, the public transport group, are confirmed as being one of the teams that will move to our new home in Endeavour House sometime next year. Still can’t decide if this is good or bad news, but they do say a change is as good as a rest…

Stitches came out fine this morning. It sure is nice to be free of them. I was able to use both sides of my mouth again when I had my lunch. Whoopeeee. Hopefully the sensitive stuff that happened with the other top jaw but not the lower won’t repeat itself, but we shall have to wait and see. I have to go back in November for a review and polish up thing, then that’s it. Back to normal dentistry again.

Tomorrow is the day of the Park & Ride price increase. And naturally it has all gone tits-up at the last minute. The leaflets won’t arrive and the livery changes on the buses won’t be happening until Monday now, and the software changes for the ticket machines until the 18th. Oh well, we will just have to muddle through as best we can.

Finished the first Gap book last night and have gone straight on to number two – The Gap in to Vision – Forbidden Knowledge which is proving just as good so far. Books 2 – 5 are all a lot thinker than 1 though. The style is still taking a bit of getting used to – nearly all thoughts and action with a tiny bit of conversation and even less description. So my images of how the locations and people look etc is coming more from memories of a zillion other sci-fi books and films etc.

Now we have Norfolk coming for a chat.

Thursday, October 09, 2003

Oh me and my big mouth! Did I mention not much going on in our lives? Thought I might have done. Anyway, we had a nice dinner whilst re-watching the first Mission Impossible film and had just started mellowing out for the rest of the night when the phone rang. It was, of course, an alarm call for Argos. First one since Joan’s been back at work (there were a few calls while she was off but we passed them on to other people) and it seems the procedures have been changed in that time. Now we have a security company on board as well to come and go in with us as the Police were getting fed up with the time it was taking other keyholders to arrive from Braintree (Marion) or wherever Matt lives and weren’t prepared to wait.

So, we went gaily trotting along there and met up with the guard chap, went in and could find absolutely no reason for an activation. Other than perhaps the heating over the door having been left on, which has been known to cause problems in the past by blowing hanging cards around. Of course they have no cards these days so all we could assume was that perhaps the heat had been picked up by the infra-red sensor doobry that was showing on the panel as being the cause of the alarm. One remote re-set later and we were on our way home again. Only to be called out again after about 20 minutes had passed. Back we trotted then, to meet the guard again. Except this time the Police were there to have a nose around (they said they’d been along for the first one as well but we saw no sign of them).

Second time of activation in a short period with no obvious break-in means they can’t or won’t reset over the phone and we had to wait for an engineer. So, we pulled over a sofa from display, put the telly on and settled down to wait. He eventually turned up at about 1230 by which point we were all a bit tired and frustrated. Diagnosis was a fault in the sensor (which he didn’t have a spare for with him) and he ended up simply disconnecting that one so we could go home. Finally got to bed about 1.15 this morning. So I had an extra hour over when the alarm normally goes before I got up and came to work feeling a little bit sleepy.

Kind of wish I hadn’t – we had the second part of the big group meeting where we talked about ways and means for us to meet our ridiculously huge targets. Some of the ideas put forward are just crazy so there was much argue-ifying and shouting back and forth. A great way to spend a totally unproductive morning.

Oh well, Joan is out with Jacqui from Ipswich so she’s having a good time at least.

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

Another busy day for me. Finally saw the last few pages of the timetable books and got them approved for printing, wrote a 3,000 odd word guide to using Park & Ride and checked through the web site and changed half of that. So for the second day in a row I didn't get out at lunchtime, but never mind. I did manage an early finish instead.

Joan still doing OK and going to increase her hours again next week.

Nothing else to say!

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

Slightly annoyed with myself today - I wrote a bit for here last night then managed not to save it. Probably wasn't particularly earth-shattering but irritating to have lost it nonetheless.

Anyway, after two hours of fretting over what had happened to her, messages left on our answerphone, texts sent and even a call to work to find out if she really had left I finally got hold of Joan around 3.30 yesterday. Lots of worrying over nothing on my part as the morning had seemingly gone quite well and things are looking back on track for her. But I hate not knowing what's going on, not being able to talk to her etc. Don't know what I'd do if we were forced into a no-contact situation for an extended period of time.

Last night saw the end of the current run of Waking The Dead, which is a shame as once again the series has been pretty gripping. I know they don't come cheap, but I do wish they could manage more than four two-part stories at a time. Still we do at least get Silent Witness back this weekend in compensation. Not sure what it is about slightly gruesome police-oriented tales that draws us in. Of course I'd also love to see the BBC put the same care, attention and budget in to a decent Sci-Fi series...

Am finding the daily use of Park & Ride to get to work not too bad so far. And it is much better than sitting in the car stuck in traffic down some of the roads around here thinking about whether there would still be a space left in the car park when I arrived. OK, so door to door takes a bit longer, but I'm prepared to put up with that for a bit less hassle and stress of a morning.

Monday, October 06, 2003

Here's a few words I wrote yesterday then completely forgot to post after getting distracted, plus commentary from today in brackets!

Spent some time working in the garden today while the sun was out - which was nice actually. I know I normally avoid digging if I can the last rays of summer were more than welcome. (Today my side aches like I've shifted half a ton of earth. Funnily enough, I seem to have shifted some earth yesterday).

Anyway, the call Joan was expecting finally happened and she is a lot happier now. She will be working part-time this week to properly get back in to routine and then hopefully everything else will be sorted. (She should be home any minute and hopefully not had any hassle off Marion today. I'm waiting for the call).

Not much else to write really - Richard came along yesterday so that aspect of Saturdays is also back to normal! Tonight H, B & A are coming along for a meal and this morning we finally go our wills and stuff signed so I can take those in tomorrow. Gripping stuff this life we live! (Meal was top stuff with lots of laughter all round doing Joan the world of good. Wills all handed in to the will people at last so that's another job done).

Friday, October 03, 2003

I'm sure the time will come again when I have the chance to make more regular (possibly even daily) entries once again, but I can't see that being particularly soon. Mind you, better to be busy than bored.

So what have I been up to this week then? Checking timetables, sorting park & ride stuff, checking timetables, having a one to one with new joint group record of 23 items on the list and more general timetable checking. I'm sure we will get the damn books printed one of these days, but it does seem like a real struggle once again this edition. Bloody bus companies changing their minds all the time over what they want to run.

Joan went back to work on Tuesday and not really much has changed. The new stockroom lad is OK but needs a bit more training before he'll be really useful, and Marion is as dippy as ever. She went home at 4 on Tues leaving Joan on her own, on her first day back, with a delivery due (it hadn't arrived by the time we gave up and left just after 6). Not a very promising welcome. Wednesday wasn't much better and by lunchtime yesterday (her day off!) Joan was not in a good state. Cathy the counsellor had been and was not best pleased at the way things were going on, which left Joan in a bad way. I went home at 12 to be with her and hopefully did the right things by being there for her. We left a number of messages with the area manager, but he never called back which didn't help matters either. He should be calling her at work this afternoon so hopefully that will help resolve a few issues. I'm waiting for a call to tell me how it went before I pass judgement though.

Fingers are crossed though for things to get better.

Have now finished the video games book. It was very interesting if not at all what I was really hoping for in the pages. It was mainly a history of the companies and personalities involved in the American industry with a bit of detail on Europe and Japan thrown in for good measure. And as stated before console dominated. I guess what I really want is some sort of encyclopedia of the games themselves. Perhaps I will have to write it.

Have now started Stephen Donaldson's Gap series (Sci-fi not about clothes retail) with volume one: The Gap Into Conflict - The Real Story. Just scene-setting in the pages I've turned so far but it is looking quite good.

We are also entertaining ourselves at home with new purchase Super Bust-A-Move All-Stars on the Gamecube. Yet another iteration on the Puzzle Bobble theme but I felt we needed a version to use downstairs on the big telly as well as the one on the PC so it just had to be bought. A few slightly annoying changes over the original but most of the pure gameplay is there unaffected.

Right, back to my P&R newsletter writing...

Sunday, September 28, 2003

I feel terrible. Friday was, as mentioned, the last of the big trips to Colchester for general mouth abuse. Talk about saving the worst for last. Not only do I feel like he spent the whole time smacking me in the face, I look like it too - all swollen and bruised. Great fun. It was also the most painful of the lot to actually go through, even adding extra anaesthetic half way through didn't really help. So I am back on the anti-biotics and also pumped full of ibuprofen to keep the pain bearable. Lots of soup and mashed potatoes are also helping to kep me alive...

Not much else to say really. Am generally just feeling down over the whole thing and not particularly wanting to go to work tomorrow. But not really "ill" enough to stay home either.

Have started a book for the first time since coming back from Switzerland. Hadn't wanted to until now as I couldn't be bothered getting deeply involved in anything. Instead I was wandering my way through some of the stockpile of interesting articles sent over by Monica in Seattle. I feel a bit bad about the length of time some of them had been sitting around waiting for me to investigate, but then I do view reading as something you have to want to do. Hence they come out when I want to read but not get lost in a plot or major discussion. So, what I am now reading is The Ultimate History Of Video Games by Steven L. Kent. It is proving both fascinating and frustrating in equal measure. The former because although I sort of know a bit about the stuff that interests me there is loads in here that is new (or at least puts flesh on the bones of rumour) and it is genuinely interesting stuff. The latter because it is very USA-centred and only really deals with arcade and console games, while I grew up with a very British computer. Still, good so far despite those flaws.

Joan now out buying plants while I sit here and feel gloomy.

Thursday, September 25, 2003

Not sure how best to describe yesterday in one, pithy phrase. I guess mildly interesting but also tedious would be the most accurate description.

We left Ipswich at 0730 and were expecting to get there before 10. Actual arrival time was just after 11 due to excessive numbers of accidents on the A14 (some of which were not pleasant to see as we passed) causing us to sit in queues an awful lot. It did prove the car was happy at both high and low speeds, but not much else. Still, at least the roads were generally free of tree screens so I could look at the scenery (mainly fields with the occasional cow, admittedly) as we flashed or crawled past.

The Passenger Transport Solutions part of the show was surprisingly small. Considering that it has previously been held as a stand alone event I wasn't particularly impressed by the number or quality of exhibitors. Some of them were quite good and it was nice to put a few faces to names, but mostly I was happy to leave it well alone. The Bus side was a bit more interesting - always nice to see shiny new buses up close, meet some people and see our stuff being used as show examples (in this case the bus stop announcements for Martlesham Park & Ride). But neither of them managed to hold my attention for the whole day. Perhaps if I had gone to the seminars I booked up for things might have been better, but we missed one through traffic and the other because I was sorting out some fine details on our bus order.

Big disadvantage was the enormous cost of food at the NEC. Still, at least that can be claimed back.

When we got shot of Sonic, Charles and I took a wander over to Birmingham International Airport which is located on the same site.

There we had a trip on the new mono-rail, cable-hauled people mover thing. Which was wonderful and unsurprisingly turned out to be Swiss technology. Say no more. It also successfully killed some time for us.

Trip home went much better and we stopped for dinner at a very nice pub in Bury St Edmunds which I hadn't known about before.

Today I have been plugging away at various bits of timetable change, P&R price change and other work. Feel like I haven't got anywhere but do have a pile of finished stuff to prove me wrong for a change. Colchester and the final dental work tomorrow.

Whoopee doo.

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

So here I am back at the desk. Not quite sure how I made it through yesterday really as much of it was very frustrating.

Started off badly. We are now back in the old car park we used to use before the summer, having been chucked off the College

waterfront one now that their new term has started. Except of course they have built a new block in the middle of our old place so we

have fewer spaces to play with. It was tight before but now things are ridiculous. Yesterday I arrived at 0825 - earlier than I would

normally and it was already full. Luckily I was able to find a space on the road nearby but that did of course mean a longer walk in the

rain at the end of the day. Today I arrived at 0810 and got one of the last remaining places. We are supposed to be able to start

work any time between 0730 and 0930 and some people who prefer a later start are sure to be getting more and more irate as the

weeks pass. I think I might just bite the bullet sooner rather than later and just use Park & Ride all the time. Which could prove

awkward in itself when Joan goes back to work, plus it will involve more potential exposure to the weather.

OK, so I'm supposed to be spending my days helping to persuade people to get out of their cars and use public transport, and as such

ought to be setting an example but frankly this just winds me up. I have already started thinking about possibly switching to taking the

train when we move office to the other side of town - right by the Station - but it still leaves things like taking Joan to work, picking her

up at night (especially in the winter when things get dark...), getting around during the day if needed and stuff like that. It does kind of

wind me up also that throughout the time I have been here people have been leaving all the time with rights to park nearer to the

building than where I end up. But no-one I know of has even been given the opportunity to move to a nearer spot. Yesterday there

were plenty of spaces in the nearer car parks free when I walked past, but no way I can get in to use them. If they were to just change

the system to make all spaces available on a first come first parked basis then half the problem would go. Oh well, we will just have to

grit our teeth and get on with it.

Anyway, yesterday I also found over 300 emails waiting for me, a whole pile of stuff in the in-tray and final confirmation fo the chnages

ot the Park & Ride fares. For the existing sites it was what I suggested basically, but for Martlesham we are going to be looking at

£3.20 which I think is too high and will put people off using it. After all, that's only a 30p saving on parking all day in town (Although

not as close to the shops etc as the bus will go). But, the commercial bus fare on the same(ish) route has gone up and we can't

undercut it. So basically I spent all day wading through words and maps and stuff trying to get a handle on where we were with

everything. How can two weeks generate so much rubbish that it feels like I was off a month or more? It just doesn't make sense to

me. Still trying to make sense of most of it today (and that's without even looking at the new timetable book proofs).

So all in all it was nice to get home again at the end of the day. Wonder if I could have got any more cliches in to that sentence?

Today I am just plugging along for the morning. Then we have a Martlesham meeting this afternoon so that should hopefully provide

answers to some of the outstanding questions.

Tomorrow I am off to Birmingham with Gary, Charles and Sonic for Coach & Bus and Passenger Transport

exhibitions at the NEC. Not sure if they will be really interesting or deathly dull, but they are a day out anyway. Just

so long as I am allowed to nod off inthe car rather than being stimulating conversation all the time.

Saturday, September 20, 2003

OK, so what I didn't mention on Thursday was starting to feel a bit under the weather while we were wandering around Makro - head begining to ache, limbs likewise and general flu like symptoms coming along. They came to a head yesterday when I spent most of the afternoon shivering under the duvet and generally being miserable. Feeling much better now, although not up to 100% operating efficiency as yet.

A few more things about the holiday that have come back to me (why is it so hard to write about the experience?). The global reputation for Switzerland being a really clean country is totally deserved. Not just in the obvious things like spotless toilets or whatever (and there's a cultural difference for you - in the UK you will generally find a coat hook on the back of a toilet door, over there they seem to be on the wall to the side). We never saw a single item of litter in Switzerland, hardly any graffitti and none of the general "mess" that fills France. Even the roadworks looked spotless. To the point of having little gangs of men up on the mountain roads clearing leaves. OK, so with the twists and turns and precipitous drops up there it makes sense, but they were everywhere, all the time.

Then there is also the more relaxed attitude over on the continent to sex, porn and generally getting your kit off. Seemed to be sex shops everywhere you turned, all the newsagents full of openly displayed porn mags etc. Then when we stopped in Paris there was a selection of magazines in each room provided by the hotel - not porn mags, but one was a photo mag including sections on Porn photographer Thomas Ruff and an explicitly illustrated article on transexuals - not what you'd expect at a UK Travelodge or Holiday Inn. Not that I'm complaining as I think this country is far too uptight most of the time, but still a bit of a surprise to find.

Plus I'm missing not having time to include a crusty roll with cheese as part of my breakfast routine - and I'm not even back to work yet.

Oh well. We shall just have to save hard and make sure we get back there some time.

Now to listen to the new Iron Maiden album Dance Of Death which is sounding good up to track three...

Thursday, September 18, 2003

Err, getting errors earlier and thought posting hadn't occurred - hence the test. Oh well, seems OK now.

Popped up to the new Makro cash & carry bulk discount type store this afternoon. Some pretty good bargains appear to be available there so I expect Joan and I will be back after payday to start stocking up for Christmas.
testing... 1-2-3
And now it must be time for the traditional "what we did on our holidays report"...

Saturday 6th September:

Usual early start for a Supreme holiday - although not as early as in the past as they now pick up from Felixstowe. Which was nice - I was able to drive us up the road to the pick up point with plenty of time to spare rather than us having to rush to Ipswich, and safe in the knowledge that Ma & Pa would be along later to collect the car and tuck it away in their garden for the week. So then it was coach down to Thurrock via Colchester and Chelmsford before changing on to our real coach for the rest of the trip. Our designated driver was Keith, who was a pretty good bloke and very good driver all week (although he could probably stand to lose a stone or three) and we were generally safe in his hands. A couple more stops to pick people up on the way down to Dover (making a total of 17 on the coach - just enough for us to get to know everyone fairly well and almost on the limit for viable operation - I think we only went ahead because one of them worked for the company) then before you knew it we were afloat and heading for France.

Crossing was very smooth and we made sure of having a good lunch - not knowing quite what we were going to end up with in the evening. Then after picking up courier (sorry, "Tour Manager") Earl the New Zealander (a bit cocky but generally good at his job and full of useful or interesting information) at the gates of the port in Calais we were off for an afternon on the French motorways. So not really much to say about the countryside we passed through as most of the roads were tree-lined so we would only get the occasional glimpse. Of course what we did get to see then proved to be a bit of a disappointment. I hadn't noticed it on previous visits to France, but the place as a whole was looking a bit shabby. It seemed that every building (indeed every entire village) we passed needed a new coat of paint - and even the ones that had been recently decorated were done in really dull and drab colours. It was like there was a fine coat of dust over everything. And there was also plenty of litter lying around. Generally uninspiring and I don't think either of us missed much by sleeping away much of the journey.

We finished up for the night in Riems at the Hotel Campanile. Again this was not all that impressive at first glance - room a bit shabby with cigarette burns in the bed clothes (but then it does sometimes seem that everyone in France has a Gauloise on the go at all times) and one of the lights not working - but the food more than made up for it. I ended up with an organic buckwheat pancake filled with eggs and ham and cheese while Joan had local goat's cheese ravioli along with lashings of wine that helped us sleep off the travel very easily.

Sunday 7th September:

The hotel filled us up with a very good breakfast before we continued on our merry way east and south. Again, more motorways to start with as we passed Metz and Nancy but these were slightly more interesting as someone had seen fit to line the sides with geometric shapes in various hues - squares, triangles, circles and then cubes, pyramids and spheres on poles. Obviously intended to stop them becoming too monotonous for drivers. We also managed to see a few more villages that confirmed the shabby France theory. However, by late morning things started getting a bit more scenic and interesting as we plunged through Alsace and we ended up for lunch in a lovely medieval village called Kaysersberg. That was a place that was not in need of a lick of paint - absolutely beautiful. Lots of tumbledown cottages leaning on each other for support, twisty cobbled streets and the like. Also a fantastic 800 year old church.

Then it was back on the coach for the final run in to Switzerland. At last. Crossed over the border at Basel without a hitch and started to get used to seeing signs with more than one language on. After an hour or so the scenery was becoming decidely more vertical and we started to do the occasional climb with hairpin bends and the like. I think I now get the point of mountains. The last set of twists and turns brought us high above Lake Lucern and to the Hotel Belle Vue at Seelisberg which was where we were based. Absolutely wonderful place. Proper Swiss style and a warm welcome from the staff. Plus our luck was in for a change and we actually got a room with a balcony and view out over the lake. That certainly made up for some of the views over car parks and the like we have had in previous holiday hotels. Absolutely stunning scenery and frankly worth the price of admision and two days travel on its own. We spent a lot of time looking at that vista over the rest of the week.

So we then had a nice dinner (all the food was nice, but there was only one meal on offer each night, no choices. Which was OK for me but a bit annoying for Joan as she prefers not to eat red meat - and we did get served a fair amount of it). Still, it was a good evening getting to know one or two people from the coach and the wine was on the house as a welcome. The rest of the week it was just viciously expensive, but then that's the whole country - particularly when you have nowhere else to go.

Seelisberg is a lovely little village with a gorgeous church (complete with immaculate churchyard full of wonderfully carved graves). A bit spread out along the hillside so time pressures meant we didn't explore it very well. Still, there's an excuse to go back some time (like we need an excuse!). It is also home to a branch of the Maharishi Maresh Yogi's Transcendental Meditation centre which a lot of our fellow travellers thought was a bit of a hoot. Of course they also have a branch up the road in Suffolk so I'm kind of used to seeing the signs (if I remember rightly they originally wanted to take over the Bentwaters airbase when the US air force pulled out 10+ years ago but were turned down). Anyway, a nice place to be based.

Monday 8th:

First full day in Switzerland saw the good weather that had blessed our journey disappear and we had low cloud and drizzle in the morning. Still, undeterred what should have been a rest day according to the brochure was actually our trip to the city of Lucern. Saw lots of the touristy bits (Lion Monument, Covered Bridges, Cathedral etc) as well as doing a bit of shopping and general wandering about looking at the pretty buildings. Real chocolate box architecture mixed in with the modern. That was followed by a drive along the northern shore of the lake (past the transport museum I hadn't known was there, but is top of the list should be ever make it back again) through lots of very pretty places and some spectacular views to the town of Brunnen. By this point the sun was streaming down and everywhere was looking crystal clear. Plus the lake water was astonishingly bright blue. There we got on a boat and had a tour around the southern arm of the lake (more pretty villages and views plus the William Tell Chappel, the Rutli meadow were the Swiss federal system was extablished and a monument to F Schiller) before docking at the hamlet of Trieb which is at the bottom of the hill from Seelisberg. After a drink there we took our first fenicular railway ride back up to the hotel - which is about 100 yards from the upper station. Overall a very good day.

Tuesday 9th:

This was a day out to Interlaken, where my colleagues Gary and Charles spent a fortnight last month. They had bright sun and temperatures of over 40 degrees, we had persistent rain which threw me into a real funk and I was a miserable sod for much of the day. For which I apologise! Stopped at the town of Brienz on the way down for a look at a woodcarving museum and workshop (according to the brochure) which turned out to be a small room on the back of a shop and not very thrilling to my mind. They had loads of overpriced tat for sale - from cuckoo clocks to a Titanic musical box playing the Celine Dion song - as well as the usual souveniers. Yes, I can appreciate the hours of work that go in to some of the carvings, but I can't say I liked any of them very much. We certainly didn't buy any.

Interlaken was very much a tourist resort kind of a town (well, the bits we saw anyway) so we just looked at the shops, had some food and tried to avoid the rain. I also had a wobbly moment where I was blaming myself for the weather and ruining Joan's holiday. I don't think it helped that we knew people who had had a really good time there while we were just trying to stay dry - no chance of the promised views of the Eiger and Jungfrau for us. Definitely the low point of the whole trip for me.

On the way back we went over the Susten Pass in the hope of finding better weather higher up but we were not lucky in that respect. Quite a spectacular ride though and the bits we could see were quite something. In all the years I studied Geography it was drummed in to us that rivers cut V shaped valleys while glaciers carve out U shaped ones. I fully appreciate the difference between those now as well having seen them close-up. Man, if only we could have had a field trip like this at O level!

Wednesday 10th:

Wednesday was optional excursion number one - south to Locarno in the Italian part of the country. Again it started dull but when we emerged from the 17km long Gotthard tunnel (longest road tunnel in the world, and longest of any sort until the Channel Tunnel came along) it was in to brilliant sunshine (and a new language on the road signs). Locarno itself was lovely, situated on the shores of Lake Maggiore and with the weather there was a real mediterranean flavour to the place. First up we took the fenicular up to the church of the Madonna del Sasso (on the rock) which was rather impressive. One of those places perched on a hillside that you wonder how people would be able to build on now, never mind a couple or more hundred years ago. A real feat of engineering skill. Much to the annoyance of our knees (which are still complaining) we walked back down rather than taking the train. A very steep cobbled path (must be lethal in winter) marked every fifty metres or so with a shrine for one of the fourteen stations fo the cross. Going up obviously being part of the pennance in the past. Still, worth it for the views over the lake on the way.

Then we had a nice afternoon wandering around, lunch (real Italian pizza!) and a sit by the lake. Then it was the journey back - this time over the top of the Gotthard pass. In itself the road is just as remarkable a feat as the tunnel - bridges over immense gaps, bends built out from the hillside and so forth. Unfortunatley it was agin a bit misty at the top, but we did have a stop about ¾ of the way up where we experienced both bright sun and their first snows of the year. It was still a wonderful drive - I just love the views down the valleys lined with precarious roads and railways crossing each other on spindly little bridges. We also passed a few army bases as they are all located up in the mountains (in fact literally in, being largely bunkers and carved out buildings).

Last stop on the way home was at the foot of the lake in Altdorf. There we visited the market square which saw William Tell doing the business with crossbow, apple and son's head. This is commemorated with a large statue, the shape of which is re-created in every tourist shop you see.

Wednesday night was billed as a folklore evening and I was expecting a night of tales of glacier sprites and mountain goat spirits and all that. Instead what we got was three old blokes who between them played accordian, Alpenhorn, trumpet, double bass etc and played tunes with coins spinning in bowls and spoons, danced and twirled flags. They were also hot on audience participation with Joan also blowing the horn and twirling the flag with us both dancing and spoon bashing. A really fun night with enormous amounts of laughter even if it wasn't what we were anticipating. I was very impressed with Joan for getting in to the spirit of things after the way she has been of late (mind you, she would normally be up for it - for me to get up and make an idiot of myself was amazing).

Thursday 11th:

The weather matched the sombre mood of the news when we woke up (rain everywhere, pictures from two years ago on the tv). Spent the morning reading and chatting quietly in the hotel before we went down to the local restaurant for a traditional Swiss lunch. Well, Joan and I managed that anyway with Rosti (and me with a big fat sausage (ooh, Matron)) but the others in our little group had deer and a brace of cold meat platters that would have fed a few dozen more.

In the afternon it cleared enough for our last trip out. Up to just under 2000 meters on the Stanserhorn nearby. Part one of the trip by 110 year old fenicular then cable car the rest of the way (the railway having been partly destroyed by fire in the '70s). A really good ride if a bit pricey considering there was no view most of the time we were up top due to low clouds. Still, we had a nice walk to the summit which proved to us that the air really is thinner up there and allowed us to meet some friendly Marmots. Then it was back down for the final night of Swiss hospitality.

Friday 12th:

Was a long day travelling up to Paris. Just stops along the road with not really much to write home about. The traffic in Paris proved to be as horrendous as I remembered from last time we were there and despite it being nice to pass through Versailles again we were shattered by the time we reached our hotel for the night. The so-called Quality Hotel in Nanterre which I cannot recommend to any but the most desperate. Again a meal with no options was on hand and I was so tired I didn't finish it. Still, we were at least there and no more travelling was required for a few hours.

Saturday 13th:

Breakfast was pathetic and overall we were glad to be free from the hotel and back on the road again. We had a couple of hours in Paris first thing (we just took a walk along the river which was nice and mellow) before heading back to Calais. Another smooth crossing and before we knew it we were back at Thurrock saying goodbye to everyone before being herded on to our coach home. Which ended up stopping at Colchester so we were transferred to a taxi for the final (hair-raising) stretch back to Felixstowe. Overall a very good week.

During the week I read one book - Lucky Wander Boy by D. B. Weiss. This had been sent to me by a US member of the Llamasoft forums in return for some magazines I had posted his way. Interesting. A story of video games, obsessions and some other stuff. A bit more high-brow than what I would normally read but enjoyable just the same. We also listened to the first Harry Potter book as read by Stephen Fry which was a good distraction from the monotonous roads.

And now we are back, and suddenly this week is nearly over as well and I haven't done half the things I wanted to. OK, so instead I have used Jerry's pressure washer to clean years of dirt off the paths in the back garden, and re-painted all the downstairs window frames. But that's not what I was planning! I have also begun re-reading all the Calvin and Hobbes cartoons, which I am enjoying rather a lot - I reckon I need a good laugh stored up before I go back to work. We have also paid a visit to Argos where Joan has sorted out a gentle return to work starting soon, done shopping and general mundane stuff like that. So now I must get this epic entry online and see what's new in Llamaland.

Monday, September 15, 2003

Wow, what a wonderful country Switzerland is. More to follow when I have the time to write it...

Thursday, September 04, 2003

Strewth but it is hot in here today. Which is nice, don't get me wrong, as things have been a bit chilly over the last couple of days, but nonetheless I could wish for a bit of temperature consistency... Anyway, here's another "squabble" from the weekend I meant to put in before but forgot.

Neighbours over the road came home from holiday and Steve from next door was parked outside their house. Now, it should be noted that there was still room on their side of the road for them to park up complete with trailer tent and only be perhaps 3 extra metres between the car and front door than if they had been directly outside their own abode. And of course we live in a road that has no parking restrictions whatsoever - no lines, no spaces marked, no permits required or anything of that ilk so anyone is perfectly at liberty under the law to leave their car wherever they like so long as it is done in a safe manner. Me, I would have grinned wryly and walked a bit further with the suitcases - done it often enough in the past with shopping before we got the driveway. If we had a real load of stuff I might have politely asked Steve if he'd mind moving up a bit. What did mr over the road do? Sat in the car hooting the horn for about five minutes before going to hammer on Steve's door. And when he did finally come out he proceeded to shout and swear at him for the whole time he was moving. What a harmonious neighbourhood we occupy. It was so nice and quite while they were away. Oh well, only 1 more day until we make our escape.

Work has been one frantic rush since Monday trying to finalise Park & Ride reports and get everything else in a state I can leave it in while I am gone. I think I am just about there now barring any further emergencies. All that remains is a quick trawl through my in-tray to see if anything is outstanding and tidying the desk so if anyone does need anything they might be able to find it. Then if I canmanage to get away at a reasonable time tonight and tomorrow I will be one happy holidymaker.

All the thinking about the upcoming trip has got my mind full of images from previous holidays I have been on - random snatches like:

Riding on a steam train on the North Norfolk Railway when I was about 7.

Being scared out of my mind on a (very) small rollercoaster in Denmark in 1980.

Hearing the new Police album blaring out of a cabin on a ferry to Holland.

The first realisation that the Dutch eat their chips with mayonaise then trying the same and liking it.

Nearly breaking our necks on the treacherous, rain-soaked cobbles of Clovelley.

Sweltering in the heat in Paris in 1999.

Absolutely loving the enormous rollercoasters in Canada two years ago.

And many more besides. I think when time permits I'll have a reflection or two at length on past excursions so watch this space. Perhaps something for the grim winter evenings that are slowly creeping up on us.

Right, better get back to the desk location project. Not sure if I will have time to post tomorrow so next entry probably when we get back from the alps. Woohoo.

Monday, September 01, 2003

I think "Squabble" is a good word to use for an overview of some of what I am now going to relate...

We did pop up to see Helen during Saturday afternoon (Bhupen & Alexander having come home and gone straight to bed) and it seems that a large part of their holiday saw them witnessing family feuding between Sheila & Stewart and Caroline & Chris as well as much sponging off the former by the latter. Once again I am quite glad that in the end we didn't join them - I got enough of that 2 years ago thank you very much. When I go on holiday I want to relax, not listen to others arguing all the time. And that after they had the delays on the way out, the big Blackout to contend with and, to put the icing on the cake, Helen had to give some medical aid to a fellow passenger on the plane home. Oh well, I'm sure our trip to Switzerland will be fine.

Yesterday we took it pretty easy. Lots of tidying up around the house then a trip to Ma & Pa's to give them their wedding anniversary present. 35 years is the Coral anniversary, but rather then buying them a chunk of the great barrier reef we settled for a grilling machine instead. Well, it was what they wanted.

Also over the weekend we watched both Rush Hour and Rush Hour 2 which were both funny. And it was nice to see the start of the first one, and indeed to see it properly - wehn we watched it before it was at Helen & Bhupen's not long after they had got their widescreen tv and thus we got to see the normal aspect picture stretched out making everyone look short and fat. One of my pet hates that is, tv pictures being shown in the wrong ratio but there isn't much you can do to tell people they are seeing things the wrong way. At least more and more stuff is being transmitted in widescreen now so the chances of having to sit through something looking dire are becoming fewer and far between.

Finished the Brunel book yesterday - as I said already, fascinating stuff. There is a prog about his Great Eastern on the BBC this week which should be worth a look. I will have to get something on the Stephensons now to add to the railway buildser knowledge I seem to be accumulating. Not started anything else yet - I am just going to catch up on a bunch of articles I have lying about then embark on a new book as part of the holiday.

Today got off to a bang with a meeting about how we could do some quick & dirty marketing and publicity to try and get more passengers in the short term. Except the first 45 minutes or so degenerated in to one big argument between Sonic and Peter the Marketing manager (down to what the meeting should have been about, never mind anything else). Quite fun to watch if a bit uncomfortable in places. Not the sort of example you expect managers to be setting really. Calmed down in the end when I made a useful suggestion and we got moving from then on. That was followed by a meeting with a firm who should be able to do some distribution for us (if the money can be found) which will help me with my targets if nothing else.

Oh well, now the afternoon is almost over so I think it is time for me to go home. 4 days to go...

Saturday, August 30, 2003

Woohoo, one week from now and we will be on our way. I am so looking forward to this holiday it is just not real. Must get up in the loft for the suitcases later today. And of course Helen and Bhupen and Alexander are back today from their Canadian/American trip so I expect we will be seeing them later for loads of catching up.

Yesterday went OK at work - I managed more of what Sonic wanted and unlike most of the rest of the team don't seem to have had an argument with him over anything yet, then a good meal out at the White Horse to round the day off. Tasty as ever. Good to see Grandma again too. Hopefully they are having a safe trip to take her home again as I write. One thing for sure, they probably won't meet too many caravans on the road (there are over 4,000 at the Showground it would seem).

Today I have done another mercy run with keys to Argos! Jacqui from Ipswich (ex Newmarket) is covering today but dippy Marion had managed to not leave her a key for the office. Luckily that was one of Joan's we've not passed on to someone else while she has been off so I was able to save the day again. Then had to disappoint the incoming staff who seeing me expected Joan to be back at work. So as I was out I got us a decadent McBreakfast and now we are off shopping befre visitations start.

Thursday, August 28, 2003

Of course what I didn't mention in the waffle about American Beauty was how good the music was. Both the songs chosen for inclusion and the original score (which is being used either on radio or tv a lot at the moment but I can't think what for). Really good stuff and added a whole extra dimension to the experience.

So, yesterday we had an unexpected office bonus as Sonic was on a flexi day but hadn't told us. Always nice to not have him breathing down our necks - I know I got more stuff done than I would have done otherwise. Then in the evening we watched the third Austin Powers film Goldmember. Just as funny as the first two, although the series seems to be moving away from plots and more in to the realm of linked parody sketches of the Bond films. And there are some serious product placement issues that could use sorting out a bit if they decide to make a third.

Today I have been out and about delivering again. I think I have finally got to all the places that should have been delivered to for this edition (about a week before I start proper work on the next one...) and found a few more new ones too. Not as many today as before though. However, I was in the Haverhill area and I am hoping to get a load of pubs round there to take books through an arrangement I am working on with Greene King. I just wish the other two brewer/pub chain people I've written to would respond. I'll give them until we get the next edition then just start going to their pubs without help otherwise. All of which has left me pretty tired tonight. Joan is out getting aromatherapised so I am just going to relax with my book until she calls for her ride home.

Thoroughly enjoying the Brunel book as it is taking a different perspective on his life. Rather than being a straight biography it tackles different topics he worked on (rail, ships, bridges etc) and then does a bit of analysis and commentary on how they fitted in with the spirit of the age etc. Which is a period I have been interested in for a while, depsite having studied it at A level history. And unlike the rest of my class when we were asked to give a biographical presentation on a leading figure from the period we were covering I chose Thomas Telford, man behind many roads and canals, rather than a politician which gained me a few points for originality as well as being more interesting.

The roads today have been swarming with Caravans. The Caravan Club is holding a festival of lanterns (!) at the Suffolk Showground this weekend and people must be coming from all over - there are thousands of little cream sheds on wheels visible from the road. To my mind there are two types of caravaners - those who use it as a cheap way of sleeping somewhere they have control over on holiday, a base to visit new places. And those who are in it for the caravans themselves. I think it is mainly the latter camped on the edge of Ipswich at the moment. All busy queueing for the showers and swapping tales of chemical toilets and awnings. Not my cup of tea at all. The only caravans I've slept in were a static one in Wales on a geology field trip (static caravans, there's a mystery in itself. Why have a mobile home then never move it?) and the one belonging to Ernie's next door neighbours when we all went up for a funeral a couple of years ago and thus made too many to all fit in the house. Neiher of those experiences has made me want to repeat the situation.