Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Back at the keys again. Friday's visits went pretty well and while we haven't had any feedback from the operators yet the impression on the day was good so we are hopeful. Then Friday night was the wedding...

First time either of us had been to the football club here in Felixstowe. Quite a nice little clubhouse with a splendidly cheap bar (not that I over indulged on one pint, but I did buy some for other people...). Bride and Groom were great, the company was pretty good (even if I still couldn't bring myself to do too much conversationing - I will get the confidence one day), the music was good (first time I've seen a DJ at a function playing music from a PC) and overall it was quite fun. Joan danced her feet off and I stood by and did my best to mingle.

Most of the weekend was spent blitzing the house and garden but we also had Alexander to stop over on Saturday night, which was a laugh.

And not much more to add really. Joan is over the road at a Body Shop party and I'm debating whether to do any ironing or just go wandering around the web for an hour or so...

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Much as I enjoy the chance to get away from the office with all the interruptions, phones ringing and so forth and much as i enjoy learning new stuff I can categorically state that today was a pain in the backside and an almost total waste of time. We were out (at the Novotel again! Slightly better lunch than last week but still nothing startling) for the second phase of training on the mPLAN software that is supposed to revolutionise our lives if we ever get a working version. But of course the data still isn't ready to go in to it (and won't be until September or Christmas depending upon who's estimate you believe) and even the chap from the firm who wrote it didn't seem to know what parts he was trying to demonstrate were intended to do. Really fills you with confidence that does. Plus with the first session a couple of months ago now the morning was further wasted in going back over what we covered then, with the afternoon deviating from plan when we started picking holes in things and wanting more detailled explanations than were probably expected. I think we were all pretty fed up by the end of the day (especially when the expected 1615 finish turned in to a 1730 one).

Must think positively about what it will do if we ever get to use it.

Add to that the late finish meaning I wasn't able to get back to Felixstowe in time to pick Joan up from work (and the message I left her got garbled so she stood around for 20 minutes waiting for me in vain) and I was not a happy bunny. Especially as she is now out at a hen party for someone who works with Helen (the wedding is on Friday and we should be at the reception later in the evening - depending upon what time they get finished at Argos as it is Catalogue launch time again). Would have been nice to unwind with her company tonight but I shall just have to do the best I can alone.

So, what else has been going on? Well, as mentioned Joan was working all weekend so I didn't really stray very far from the ironing and shopping and stuff. And then more sorting of timetables and so forth at work. Chris and I had our first operator negotiations meeting for all the new timetables on Monday, but I'm not sure if we have any feedback from it yet. I think they were pretty receptive but we shall have to wait and see. Of course there could be stuff in the in-box that arrived while we were out getting frustrated today... We are out again on Friday so hopefully some good results from those. Thrills galore with the ususal mix of emails and stuff otherwise.

Saturday also saw the last page being turned on Harry Potter 5. I definitely enjoyed it, and less of a cliff-hanger than the end of the last one, but I still want JK to get the rest of the series written please. Wasn't all that impressed with the much vaunted tragic death either - both in the way it was engineered and how the aftermath was handled. Or indeed the actual event. OK, I know the series is intended for children but I think a bit more drama could have been put into that scene. Last night saw the close of another book read since Saturday - a collection of questions and answers from the Last Word column in New Scientist magazine. Things like Why is the sky blue? (Because of the way light is scattered by the atmosphere) and Why doesn't superglue stick to the inside of the tube? (It needs damp to set). Interesting stuff in the main and looking forward to the second volume I also got at the same time.

Have now started on Sprout Mask Replica by highly recomended teller of tall tales Robert Rankin. It has been a good few years since I last read any of his stuff and I've kind of missed him. Very strange stories mixing the mundane with the ridiculous - every day meeting elements of the fantastic and science fiction but not really categorisable with anything else I've ever read. Good stuff though and I really must get round to picking up all the books he's written since I last bought one...

Friday, July 16, 2004

Been a busy week these last few days (does that make sense?). Tuesday afternoon I was back across town to the old dingy St Edmund House for a briefing from our graduate trainee Mark on how his review of what we do is going. In the presence of our Assistant Director, Director and Portfolio Holding Councillor (as well as Ian and Mitchell with Charles and Derek and Julian to back us up). I actually found it quite useful - and not just in terms of finding out what he is up to - lots of stuff I've never really thought about before taking this new job. (I wonder how long I can continue to think of this as the new job...). We also gave an update on what we are doing
with the PSA area routes which seemed to go down well.

After that we all (well, us from the group, not the bigwigs) went over to the bar for a swift half. So that was the first time I'd been over there since the move as well. Also called in to say hello to Richard and was reminded again how pleased I am with Endeavour House despite the minor niggles. However, all was not joy and happiness. While I was over there Mum & Dad's cat got hit by a car and there was nothing the vet could do. Really sad as he was great fun.

Wednesday was a presentation skills course which was held at the Novotel in town. It was pretty good as courses go, but where we should have got:
  • Strategies for designing effective presentations
  • Defining clear objectives
  • Gauging different audiences
  • Proper preparation
  • What technology to use and back up equipment
  • Clarity of information
  • Hints & tips for presentations (body language, appropriate eye contact)
The session is designed to be interactive and fun. You will work in groups to design a short presentation and also have an opportunity to practice delivering it in a supportive environment.

What we actually had was a load of stuff about using Power Point. Not exactly what it said on the tin. And standards of lunch have also gone downhill since I was last at the Novotel (only one vegetable on offer - and that Broccoli!) although the mid-morning bacon rolls were up to scratch.
There was also a pretty good mix of people on the course from across the council (although biased towards Education) so we got a variety of topics covered and things talked about. Although they all managed to find a word or two of praise for Park & Ride.

Yesterday I was again out of the office - in a minibus with Charles doing route timing runs. One of mine/Chris's for the PSA area and one of his for his Lowestoft changes. Not a bad little run out in the ocuntry really. Most of our guessed times proved to be spot on the mark so just some minor tinkering to do. If only the weather had been a bit better and lunch in Yarmouth hadn't been so grotty (I should have suggested we find somewhere other than ASDA to go but you can't win them all - especially when Charles is involved).

Today back to a zillion emails and phone calls so will be glad to leave here soon for a night of relaxation and watching someone else get kicked out of the Big Brother house.

Monday, July 12, 2004

So here I am sat at my new desk. I wonder if I can get round the whole allocation of the group before we move to another building. Can't say I have noticed any improved group dynamics resulting from this revised seating today, but we will all be keeping a weather eye on things.

Good weekend, which was nice. Worked away at home on Saturday - and also finished the Dam Busters. Comments from previous days still apply! Then as it was released to the paperback preferring hordes I popped in to Smiths on my way to collect Joan and obtained the 5th in the series Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Enjoying it just as much as the first four thus far.

Sunday we went to the market and for the first time in ages I actually got something other than fruit, veg and bird food. OK, so only a book but one I've been considering anyway for £5 less than the price on the back. More details when I come to read it. Then a bit of shopping and a lazy afternoon followed by relaxed evening. Waking The Dead has returned for a new series and we are pleased.

Today has been fine for me, but frustrating for Joan as there seem to be loads of internal squabbles going on in the shop right now. Feel very sorry for her but not sure what I can do to help. Oh well, four weeks from now we will be in the mountains so hopefully able to forget things for a bit.

Friday, July 09, 2004

Looks like I will be moving desks again on Monday (well, I might start now actually). Seems that the arrangement of Community Transport and Network teams on our block of desks isn't to everyone's liking so it's musical chairs again to try and appease some of the moaners. So just when I had got used to a right hand desk I get to go back to a left hooker. Not 100% pleased as it means giving up being able to hide behind a cupboard (which has also proved useful for sticking information on out of the way) but I will just have to cope with that. Also a bit dubious about my new desk neighbour but that's life. Will just have to arrange things so I work at home more if required.

Not much else to record today. Still reading the Dam Busters and appreciative even more of what they went through in the cause of defending the country and so forth. Really don't know if I could have met the challenges the same way. No plans for the weekend so will just see what occurs.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

As that lot ws uploading the phone rang - it was the courts over the road. Seems someone used Park & Ride to get to court this afternoon and has now been sent to prison. So they wanted to work out how to get his car home again... Foolish person!
Well, we are now on our third new Dyson in as many weeks. Having phoned the firm up and played it down the line to them they agreed it was something that was in need of an engineer visit or replacement so after booking the former Joan obtained the latter from Marion (well, it does still come in the old 30 day replacement window with Argos anyway despite being a replacement already) so I then had to cancel the visit. Hopefully nothing else will go wrong or we will just get a refund and be done with it. Mind you, I'm not sure what we would get in exchange as I have no desire to return to the days of emptying bags after cleaning a carpet or two, and when the thing works it does a great job.

But I was kind of right about Sunday - all we really did was go to Sainsburys and Makro to pick up a few odds and ends and didn't get a lot more than that acheived. We did have lunch at (no longer "Fatty") Arbuckles as it was conveniently located on our route. Quite tasty and they have had a repaint since we last went, but they have also changed menus and so forth and not the same as it used to be. I guess we will still go there occasionally (it must be about once a year or so) but won't be rushing back in a hurry. Mind you, we could have been put off slightly by the incredible number of screaming kids dotted around the dining area. Another reason I am so glad we have no offspring - I couldn't be doing with all the hassle frankly! Still, they do at least have variable portion sizes on the menu so we were able to go with small meals and actually finish them for a change. So many places these days seem to serve vast amounts that the wastage factors are ridiculous. I don't mind paying for what I eat, but object to a huge portion costing more then being wasted.

Yesterday and today spent getting to grips with my target of writing a procedures manual for the team. I should probably be doing things with the PSA area timetables but as Chris is off and has left no instructions I don't know where he is at with them. OK, so I could phone him at home, but I prefer not to. If nothing else it might encourage him to phone me at home on my days off, which I'm not at all in favour of.

New detective series starting tonight (55 Degrees North) set in Newcastle so I expect we will give that a try and hope it doesn't get Joan too homesick. And best of the current crime bunch Waking The Dead returns next week for a new series. Looking forward to that a lot.

And finally, finished The Gun Seller yesterday. Not much to say really, the plot all came to a nice end that was reasonably well paced but it hasn't left me wanting to know what happened next to the protagonists. Have now returned to the truth with the second Paul Brickhill world war two book in my collection - The Dam Busters. Again, one I've read before (and also seen the film a few times) so familiar ground but good stuff anyway. Am now in slight shock at realising it must be a year since I read the Great Escape but never mind, time flies and there's nothing we can do to stop it. This one is just as meticulous in searching out the facts and just as enjoyable to re-read.

Saturday, July 03, 2004

I dunno, you spend the best part of a Metallica CD humming and ha-ing over what to write and completely forget to mention what you did last night. Yup, we went to the production of Camelot referred to on Tuesday. Apart from it being in a tent (with very squeaky frame making a lot of racket in the high winds) rather than strictly outdoors it was very good indeed. Not seen the film or a previous production so it was all new to me too. I do enjoy a bit of live theatre from time to time, and the amateur groups round here all do a stonkingly good job. Plus we won two prizes in the raffle!
Saturday's not what it used to be, so goes the Kingmaker song, and I'm inclined to agree. I seem to recall back in the dim and distant past that Saturdays were to be treasured as the first day of two away from work but it never seems to feel like that any more. If Joan is at work then I crack on with housework (and yet all my efforts never seem to make a difference - I may iron for hours but the pile never seems to go down or get rid of several sacks full of rubbish but there is always more to be found) and if she is off then the chances are we just work together. Or go shopping. Neither of which options seems to leave much room for the realxing, going out or having fun I'm sure weekends are supposed to consist of. We shall have to see what happens tomorrow, but I bet both shops and cleaning will be involved at some point. Possibly in an interconnected manner of course - especially if Joan agrees with my diagnosis that the new Dyson is making a strange racket as that may end up going back for another replacement. Makes me mad the way new things just don't work properly. Anyway, back to nicer things.

The trip to Rome seems to have been really good. OK, so Joan came back with some terrible blisters and a bit put off by the way some of her fellow travellers were a bit full of themselves but otherwise she had a really good time. Saw the Colliseum, Vatican and a bunch of other top sights, had some nice food and lots of sunshine. So that was good.

Wednesday we had a lazy day - went in to town and had lunch at The Office which opened around Christmas and we have been meaning to try it ever since. Very nice (we both had savoury pancakes) even if the portions were just too vast. Not a lot else doing though - just got her pictures done (and also the last few from Switzerland which were also in the camera - the perils of going digital meaning we have only used 1 normal film in a year!). Then another two days of work before today.

I did manage to finish A Short History... on Wednesday too. Really enjoyed it and I think I will have to go deeper in on some of the topics covered again at some point. Which may be helped by having re-joined the book club of course as at least now I might get to hear about some of the interesting science or engineering or historical books that I would otherwise miss. Never enough time to browse for them properly in the real or virtual worlds so a gentle reminder every month or so is nice. Am now about half way through The Gun Seller by Hugh Laurie which I confess I only bought because it was cheap and I like Hugh's comedy work on the screen. Turns out to be quite good but not laugh out loud funny as implied by the quotes on the cover. Sort of spy thriller but based on an accidental involvement with the plot rather than a career spy. If that makes sense. Not going to become my favourite book but also not likely to never be read again...

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Once again I wonder, where has the time gone? As I write this Joan is somewhere in the air between Rome and here having had a really good time as far as I can tell from a handful of text messages. She got picked up OK at 3 on Sunday morning and was there by 9.30. Really can't wait to get home tonight and hear all about it (not sure who will get home first as yet). So what have I been doing in the interim? Not much other than work to be truthful.

In fact I started early on the work front by coming in on Saturday for a change. Done it once or twice in the past when deadlines have loomed but don't intend to make a habit of it. However, I really needed to spend some uninterrupted time with Chris working on timetables and this seemed the best way to acheive that. Plus it means I get to take tomorrow off to spend with Joan without using up any of my accumulated flexi-time. Which is nice.

Sunday I just pottered about the house and got through some of the backlog of ironing (thrills!) before going round to Ma & Pa's for dinner. Wasn't intending to go round and act all helpless with Joan away, but they insisted so who am I to turn down a free meal! Dad was actually out most of the time I was there (he is stage-managing a production of Camelot due to take place at Landguard Fort later this week and is heavily into getting things to work at the moment) so only three of us anyway.

Then back to work yesterday with more tinkering with timetables and so forth. This afternoon we have a feedback visit from the firm who did the timetable distribution for us. They were a bit put out by some of the work last week when I spoke to them on the phone, but hopefully they will have calmed down a bit now and be OK to continue with the work. Fingers crossed and all that as I don't want it back again!

Friday, June 25, 2004

So England are out of the reckoning for Euro 2004. Another tournament, another defeat from a penalty shoot-out. Not the best way to be knocked out of a championship (is there a good way?) and another cause of trouble and fighting on the streets. Times like this I really hate the way people react and behave. Idiots, the lot of them.

Staying on a down note, we had a letter from Supreme on Wednesday telling us they were cancelling the Austria trip through lack of demand (so even fewer people than we went to Switzerland with last year must have booked up). Naturally we were a bit upset by this as we were really looking forward to it - new country to visit and all that. Still, they offered us a bit of a discount on anything else that was running which meant we were able to plump for our original second choice previously rejected for being a bit more than we wanted to pay:

The Glacier Express - The Jura, Montreux, Swiss Alps, the Rhine Falls and much more

Day one - leave home and travel cross channel and through France to spend the night in Dijon. So probably mustard for tea!

Day two - in to Switzerland via Lake Geneva, Montreaux and the Rhone Valley. Arrive in Brig where we spend a couple of nights.

Day three - "a trip to beautiful, traffic-free Zermatt affords views of the Matterhorn and the possibility of a mountain train to the Gornergrat."

Day four - "Glacier Express journey is a day of amazing scenery from Brig to St Moritz. During the 71/2 hour panoramic journey, it has been calculated that you will cross 291 bridges and travel through 91 tunnels." We then spend the next two nights just down the road from St. Moritz at Bivio.

Day five - more spectacular views when we go to the Maloja Pass and Pontresina and also into St. Moritz.

Day six - Homeward route via Zurich, Shaffhausen falls on the Rhine and through part of the Black Forest and the last night in Saarbrucken.

Day seven - all the rest of the way home.

So we will get to sleep (in beds as well as on the coach - neither of us manage to get through a whole journey without dropping off at some point) in France, Switzerland and Germany. And depending upon the route they take from Saarbrucken to Calais may get to touch on Luxembourg and Belgium as well. As we had wanted to go back to Switzerland this will be a worthy replacement to the Austria choice I think. And Charles is really jealous as we will be doing bits of Swiss Railways he hasn't managed yet. Hee hee. Being largely in the south of Switzerland it should be a bit warmer than last year (and August rather than September should help too).

Fingers are crossed that it all goes to plan now (they did say this one was nearly full - and yet we still have seats near the front of the coach...).

Been very quiet in here today. Only a couple of people in per team - but just when I thought that might give me the chance to catch up on stuff there have still been loads of minor interuptions to the flow of work. Must disconnect the phone system!

Really enjoying A Short History... - very good accessible style and all the info is just going in nicely. OK, so I am familiar with a lot of it from just general reading and education but very good nonetheless. Although I have been surprised by just how much I have retained from Physics and Chemistry lessons 15-20 odd years ago. I have also been surprised by quite how much of what we know about the world and universe etc was only discovered very recently. You always assume the stuff you get taught at school has been known for years and endlessly debated at higher levels before it gets down to mere kids books, but actually it seems to have been amazingly fresh as I was learning in the 70s and 80s. Also staggered somewhat by just how few people have been involved in some of the major discoveries etc - the same names keep cropping up time and again. Not always good of course, it seems CFCs were invented by the same guy who had already invented putting lead in petrol.

Oh well, weekend beckons, Joan off to Rome and me wondering what to do with myself...

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Something I failed to mention last week was both David from the Community Transport Team and Tracy from the Admin/Data team leaving. So that's four people left the group since we moved across town here to Endeavour House. Admittedly neither of them left because of the move but it has got to start looking suspicious to those higher up than us if anyone else goes in the near future (David has gone to National Express and Tracy just fancied a break). Not that I think anyone else is planning it just now. OK, so there are always rumblings of change afoot (like, Gary keeps threatening to go off and drive trains but never seems to put it into action) and I would of course tell them exactly where they could stick their targets if we were to win big on the lottery; but the chances of that are so astronomically slim...

Still, there have been a few enquiries already about our still-vacant post (the third one doing the same as Me and Charles) so hopefully we will get someone in there before the end of the summer.

Joan is now getting nicely excited for the Rome trip at the weekend. I'm still wishing I could go with her but hoping she has a good time in equal measure. She thinks she will get on with everyone OK (and they are only there for two nights after all) and the weather looks like it will have picked up again by then so fingers are crossed.

Today I have had the thrill of a lunch-meeting with East Babergh councillors. Only a couple of them turned up (I think there are only four anyway) and they were late. I think we answered a few questions OK but most of it was irrelevent. Also inedible - but I'd planned for that and had proper lunch before going!

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Late start for me today (like, 12 noon arrival in the office) as I was at the dentist this morning. Saw both Kirstie for a scrape and poke about and Mr Norfolk for the usual everything looks fine but we'll take some X-rays to be certain about the bone loss. So I was fine but he is leaving. The swine. He's been there the longest of any dentist we have seen in Felixstowe and will be sorely missed. OK, so he has inflicted a reasonable amount of pain and suffering on us all but generally we have pretty healthy mouths as a result. The big problem now is that there is a real shortage of dentists doing NHS work at the moment and thus no guarantee that they will get anyone decent to replace him. Or indeed anyone at all. At least we will still be registered with the practice as no-one seems to be taking on patients anywhere at the moment and we can't afford to start going private for everything. But it would all appear to be down to many of the same reasons that Joan didn't go for the job there she could have walked in to with her eyes shut. That is the practice boss being a pain in the backside to work for. Oh well, we shall just have to see how things turn out.

Not much else to say today (I am working on thrilling procedures for how to do my job). We did watch a bit of the football last night (the European Championships are on right now and England are through to the quarter finals) but haven't looked at Wimbledon as yet this year. Maybe later in the week I will throw in a round up of recent films we have watched...

Monday, June 21, 2004

And another weekend has been and gone in a good way leaving us gloomy on Monday. I had hoped we might go out one day with Joan being off but it was not to be. Saturday we had to wait in for the Sky bloke as we weren't getting all the channels we were paying for. Turned out we needed a new LNB (whatever that is - the knobbly bit on the pole sticking out of the dish) so that was £65 as we didn't take out the extended guarantee. Grrrr. Spent the afternoon moving pictures and furniture around, drilling holes to do so where appropriate then running in to Argos for some new shelves which ended up in the dining room. Going to run out of wallspace soon!

Still, the room looks a bit better with the DVDs moved off the book shelves and the books rearranged slightly (and now I have room for expansion of the collection again, which is nice. Especially having just re-joined a book club). Then the Dyson died while we were tidying up so that had to be replaced on Sunday morning. And that ended up being two trips to Argos as the first one we got had a split hose. I don't know, Joan gets a weekend off and I spend more time in her shop than I would if she was working.

Yesterday being Father's Day we had Dad along for lunch (and Mum and Richard, but you know what I mean). Very tasty and convivial and all that. And Joan got through the day OK without too much thought of her Dad bringing her down, which was good. OK, so things will focus more on what would have been his birthday at the end of the month, but then she is off to Rome around then so that should help too.

Today I have just been getting on with stuff when the computer has been co-operative!

Finished the Dragon saga over the weekend. Had forgotten the ending so that was nice to come back to (even if a shocking number of the people I'd got to like over the 6 books ended up dead). Not sure how they would do it as the span of years is quite a lot for an actor to convey, but I'd love to see a series of films (or perhaps a TV miniseries) based on them. If they were done as well as Lord Of The Rings of course. Have now started A Short History Of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson which appears to do exactly what it says on the cover. He's someone people have recommended to me over the years but I've not got round to reading as yet. So I thought this would be a good place to start rather than the travel books to see if I like his style (plus it was only a pound when I re-joined the club!). Interesting and good stuff so far. More expense to follow when I catch up with the rest of his stuff then!

Friday, June 18, 2004

As written yesterday but not posted... And at last that is over. Seems we did rather well in carrying people - all three sites were full and there was a lot of patience shown by the people wanting to get home. The First started trickling out of the ground at 1045 and the last were dropped off at the car park just after midnight. We reckon P&R shifted about 6,000 of the 23,000 in attendance which is not bad all things considered. Just have to wait now and see if we get any complaints in (1 so far, it being an hour since I started writing this. But we did all we could, had up to 20 buses running around etc etc etc). Now I just have to find a way of getting shot of seven boxes of unused leaflets...

Yesterday I was on a disability awareness course. I'm not sure how it really related to public transport specifically but it was still interesting and useful in a general awareness of the issue kind of way. And it was nice to get away from the phone for a day. Of course I did still pop in to the office to check messages and the like after it finished (so still got a couple of calls in then as well) but nothing too strenuous.

Otherwise work has been lots of timetable playing for the area we are reviewing.
Not much to add to that today as yet. Grandma is up for the week with Ma & Pa so they all came round last night for a chat. She is much better than last time she was here but still not 100%. That's the one thing I am not looking forward to more than any other as the years pass by. Slower recovery times.

Monday, June 14, 2004

Oh, but I cannot wait for Wednesday to come and go. At least then I might get a rest from phone calls asking if we are doing special P&R services for the Elton John concert. OK, so then there will be calls about all the other concerts coming up but we might just get a day's breather if luck holds out. It doesn't seem to matter what I do to get the information out there, people still insist on calling instead. Even the ones who have found a leaflet call to see if it is correct. Fair does my head in. At least I am out of the office all day on Wednesday on a disability awareness course so won't have the biggest rush of questions.

Weekend was tolerable in the main. Weather was great but Joan was at work both days so I can't say I enjoyed it all that much. Lots of reading, ironing, shopping, sitting in the sun, putting up new trellis in the garden and stuff like that while she was out. Yesterday was Alexander's 18th Birthday (kind of scary) so we went up there for dinner and to dish out the presents. A good time was had by all, although Bhupen had to dash off after we'd been there an hour or so to go to work. Which is one of the things that has put me off ever changing to that job no matter how good the wages are. Unpredictable hours and night-shifts are not my cup of tea.

One thing I didn't do over the weekend though was to watch the Grand Prix. From Canada, which meant it was on while we were up at the birthday bash. But, no surprises, Michael S won. So I'm not too stressed at missing it.

Today back at the old grindstone. Having been away at conference for three days at the end of last week (and off again today) Chris did of course come in on Saturday. But only a few emails and not the ones I was expecting so perhaps I managed to get everything right last week! And so far we have two bids received for my first tender effort... Roll on Thursday when we can open them.

Friday, June 11, 2004

Still busy!

Just a quick note today to record that Alexander passed his driving test first time yesterday. Swine! What's wrong with taking four goes like the rest of us then?

Finished Eats, Shoots & Leaves and found it brilliant. Never thought a book on punctuation would be so gripping. Have now started the final Melanie Rawn - Skybowl so will comment more on that later...

Now off across town to unload my new books.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Well, all told, things have been good and enjoyable since Friday. Big Brother ws a hoot on Friday night when they threw the Kitten out (and has been just as funny since with some real big arguments kicking off in the house and livening things up - headline today that Michelle the Geordie slapper is giving Geordie slappers a bad name!) and the weekend was properly relaxing.

Saturday was a scorcher (in fact the weather has been generally cracking for a week or so now) and we headed in to Ipswich where we did a bit of shopping and also hit the cinema for Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban which was superb. OK, so as the series progresses the books have got thicker, which meant they had to leave more out this third time round. A bit of a shame there as that meant a few of my favourite bits of the book left behind and some of the explanatory stuff a bit muddled but the general story came through loud and clear. I was also impressed by the tweaks to the design of Hogwarts & surroundings, even if that does mean the first two will now look a bit odd with stuff missing or moved around! The acting has also improved from all the kids and Michael Gambon did pretty well as a replacement for Richard Harris. Another one where I'm looking forward to the DVD to re-watch it at our leisure.

Sunday was the sixtieth anniversary of D-day and there were loads of things going on round and about to commemorate that. We had been planning to go down to the event at Landguard Fort but decided against it in the end after Joan was too emotionally affected by the bits we saw on TV in the morning. A shame as her Dad was involved in the actual events of the time, but that was also why it proved a bit much for her. In the evening we went round to Ma & Pa for dinner as it was Mum's birthday yesterday. Another good celebration.

And so back to work. We have finally done what I have been after for 3 or 4 years and signed up a distribution company to take on shoving the books around the county. I just need to sort out a list of places for them and that's it, no more running round in vans and the like.

After finalising details yesterday, this morning has seen my first contract tender committed to the postal system. Timetable designed etc. And I have just realised that we didn't include a map with it. Oh bugger. Oh well, we learn from our mistakes. Will just have to make sure I get one ready if there are any questions. This morning also saw my PDR for the next six months (they are changing the system so next year we do them Jan - Dec rather than April - April, or in this case April but slipped to June - Dec). I think I will be a lot better off with my new targets than I was last year as they are better linked to the day job and tie in with learning objectives I wanted anyway. And there will still be chances to get out and about so I won't be stuck in the office all the time. Now all I need to do is write it up and sort myself out an action plan to get them done.

Finally for today, books. Finished The Dragon Token last night. Really just as good as I remembered (and it has to be said I didn't actually remember a lot of this one) and set up nicely for the reolution in book 3 (or is it 6?). Not sure how I have stopped myself diving in to the final book to get the series ended but I have now started the book of the year (it says on the cover): Eats, Shoots & Leaves - The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss. Fascinating stuff, interesting subject and you never know, I might even end up writing a bit better by the end of it all. I can't say I'm quite as pedantic as she obviously is, but I do cringe when I see stuff out in the public domain that is horrendously wrong...

Friday, June 04, 2004

What I didn't mention yesterday was finishing One Hit Wonderland over the weekend. Very entertaining and also true (well, I guess there may have been some embellishing for the sake of a good tale, but it certainly has a ring of authenticity). The only downer was that I have not been able to hear the songs as yet - I could BUY a cd of them from Mr Hawks' web site but that seems a bit excessive. I am now about two thirds through the penultimate Melanie Rawn book The Dragon Token and the plot is heating up somewhat.

The tragic news was of course that after Joan's course last night we ended up at the Beagle for dinner. A real blow that was... Decided we needed a few bits of shopping, called in to Tesco next to Park & RIde, thought we might eat dinner there, changed our minds after seeing what they had on offer and that was that really. Well, we were only 5 minutes away and it would have been rude not to really.

So tonight we have the first eviction from this year's Big Brother. It has proved to be quite good so far - lots of personality in the house (and of the house itself given how they have chopped down the size, only given them one bedroom etc) with plenty of arguements and so forth already. And Kitten on three formal warnings within a week. Splendid stuff.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Busy week (as usual) when at home and at work. Weekend was long as a Bank Holiday was included on Monday, but Joan had to work Sat/Sun so we still only ended up with one day off together. So I did elements of the ususal relaxing and ironing but also lots of sniffling and sneezing as I seem to have picked up a streaming cold from somewhere (which is thankfully now almost cleared up). Monday we went up to Wyevale at Woodbridge and bought some plants and stuff for Mum's birthday present as well as some new wall baskets for us. They look quite nice in place and should look even better when the plants have grown a bit!

Tuesday in the office getting to grips with stuff. Still not sure what I'm doing half the time, but at least Chris has apologised for not being able to give me any formal training - rather we are tackling stuff as and when it arises. Doesn't really give me the best grounding but it will have to do.

Then yesterday was Suffolk Show day. The weather stayed fine (in fact I am now bright pink again), we got the bus there and back and generally had a good time. I admit I did get a bit bored wandering through some of the retail areas but the animals and so forth more than made up for that. I still wouldn't want to go every year though - we last went in 2000 and I can't say there was all that much different to look at. Pictures in the usual place soon.

Today back here struggling to define some routes. But Joan is on a course in town today so at least I was able to travel in with her and will have company on the way home too (as well a possibly an excuse to leave early!).

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Wooo. We have a holiday booked. Yeeha, off to foreign parts with hills again soon. Well, in mid-August anyway. Which is sooner than September when we went last year so hopefully we won't have the rain issues to contend with this time. Austria rather than Switzerland (and with the stops on the way in Germany rather than France) which will enable us to decide where we prefer. Also a fraction cheaper and an extra day away in to the bargain. So into anticipation mode full swing now. Mind you, the Supreme web site hasn't been updated for this year as yet so I can't just cut & paste the description in to here. So more details when I can be bothered to type them in.

Yesterday was a long and tiring one for the Flexible bus routing seminar up in Hyde (just outside Manchester). Actually, it wasn't as tiring as I was expecting despite leaving home at 0600 covering 450 odd miles and getting back at 2000. And I did about 350 of those miles in the driving seat. Ended up going with Ray from the CT team rather than anyone external so at least I knew him. It did mean spending all day trying to get the conversation away from cars though (he only seems to have that in his repertoire).

The journey itself wasn't too bad. Familiar teriitory up the A1 as far as the Sherwood Forest roundabout. Which was a bit odd to be doing without Joan in the car but meant I was also able to control where we stopped for food (cue evil grins and some nice pancakes at the OK Diner). Then instead of heading right to go on up to Newcastle we turned left and cut across the peak district instead. Which was absolutely lovely. Lots of rocky outcrops and steep drops at the sides of the roads, sheep and drystone walls in the fields, lovely stone cottages and just generally pleasant views. (OK, so we did have to drive round Sheffield as well, but even that is far from the industrial horror it used to be). Basically, I really enjoyed getting a bit of vertical scenery around me and as a consequence am in a more heightened state of holiday anticipation than I was after booking it on Tuesday.

Unfortunately, the seminar itself was not as useful for me. The first speaker was excellent and I now have a pretty good understanding of what we can and can't do when it comes to flexible bus routes. Unfortunatley the other three got progressively less interesting as 2 covered a lot of the same ground and the last one was talking about a research project. Not exactly gripping stuff. Oh well, it was a nice day out overall.

And the coincidence machine was working overtime on the way home - the only chance I've had to listen to the radio in the afternoons for months and who should get interviewed but Tony Hawks, whose book I am in the middle of. Very strange how these things happen.

It has occurred to me that I haven't done much waffling about tv on here of late. We are still watching stuff, so here's a quick list of things we have been impressed by recently:

Hustle crime drama from the other side of the fence for a change. Much like a British version of Ocean's Eleven (but with a team of 5!) covering a range of different scams. I particularly enjoyed the way they played around with the format, used effects and breaking the fourth wall to have charachters explain plot points directly to the audience. The only problem was that they stuck to the usual UK pattern and only did six episodes in the series. But they are promising more for next year.

No Angels sort of medical one, but focussing more on the private lives of the nurses involved rather than the slicing people open or sticking pills down their throats. A bit rude in places but at least honest about what goes on in life (and death) on the wards. Good fun and also some great music used in the soundtrack.

Murder City and Murder in Suburbia which both offered a slightly different take on the police side of crime drama with the former being highly serious in places and the latter being very light-hearted.

The usual suspects - Casualty, Holby City, ER - have all had their share of eyeball time as well and performed to their usual standards.

And from tomorrow Big Brother is back for the summer so that should provide some entertainment...

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Got to feel ever so sorry for Joan right now. Having had the tooth/crown thingy fall off a couple of weeks ago, then get stuck on again, it decided to break off properly on Friday night. She finally got in to see the dentist about it yesterday (very inconsiderate of them not to work weekends!) and had what was left of the tooth pulled out to make way for a proper false one in replacement. Having been through three extractions last year I knew exactly how she felt and was very pleased that Marion saw fit to send her home from work for the rest of the day. Still a bit sore this morning but from what I could see it looks to be healing up OK. Poor thing. It would have to be an eye tooth too, to compound the pain with an obvious gap for a couple of weeks (he promises the replacement will be in place before she goes to Rome at the end of June). The only light at the end of the tunnel there is that hopefully it will ease up on the sinus problems she has suffered over the years that stem from the dodgy tooth. Fingers crossed.

Otherwise we had a pretty good weekend. Lawn-tested the new mower, watched the Grand Prix. That sort of thing. Also found the time to finish Stronghold and despite the second trilogy being more of a continuous tale (the first lot have several years between each book so stopping for a break is not so much of a cliff-hanger) I have indeed turned to non-fiction again. In this case One Hit Wonderland by comedian Tony Hawks. I've been aware of him on tv and radio for years (and generally find him to be pretty funny) and while I knew he had written three sort of travel books based on bets this is the first I've dipped in to. Actually the third he wrote, but as I got it free I'm not complaining about starting in the wrong place. And they are all independent of each other anyway so it makes no odds. In this case the tale of trying to get back in to the charts (anywhere in the world) nearly 20 years after reaching number four with the Stutter Rap by Morris Minor and the Majors. Proving good fun so far and I will no doubt obtain the other two at some point.

I think I may have set a new record on length of 1 to 1 this morning. Should have started at 10, finally kicked off at about 1030 and got back to desk at around 1320. Not bad going! Oh well, now to crack on with the jobs set during it...


Another blast of nostalgia was caused by this hoary old email that seems to have surfaced again:

According to today's regulators and bureaucrats, those of us who were kids in the 60's, 70's and early 80's probably shouldn't have survived, because our baby cots were covered with brightly coloured lead-based paint which was promptly chewed and licked.

We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, or latches on doors or cabinets and it was fine to play with pans.

When we rode our bikes, we wore no helmets, just flip flops and fluorescent 'spokey dokey's' on our wheels.

As children, we would ride in cars with no seat belts or airbags - riding in the passenger seat was a treat.

We drank water from the garden hose and not from a bottle and it tasted the same.

We ate chips, bread and butter pudding and drank fizzy pop with sugar in it, but we were never overweight because we were always outside playing.

We shared one drink with four friends, from one bottle or can and no-one actually died from this.

We would spend hours building go-carts out of scraps and then went top speed down the hill, only to find out we forgot the brakes. After running into stinging nettles a few times, we learned to solve the problem.

We would leave home in the morning and could play all day, as long as we were back before it got dark. No one was able to reach us and no one minded.

We did not have Play stations or X-Boxes, no video games at all. No 99 channels on TV, no videotape movies, no surround sound, no mobile phones, no personal computers, no Internet chat rooms. (Well, we did have the ZX81, Spectrum etc)

We had friends, we went outside and found them. We played elastics and street rounders, and sometimes that ball really hurt.

We fell out of trees, got cut and broke bones but there were no law suits. We had full on fist fights but no prosecution followed from other parents.

We played knock-and-run and were actually afraid of the owners catching us.

We walked to friend's homes. We also, believe it or not, WALKED to school; we didn't rely on mummy or daddy to drive us to school, which was just round the corner. We made up games with sticks and tennis balls.

We rode bikes in packs of 7 and wore our coats by only the hood.

The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke a law unheard of. They actually sided with the law.

This generation has produced some of the best risk-takers and problem solvers and inventors, ever. The past 50 years have been an explosion of innovation and new ideas.

We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned how to deal with it all.

This my friends, is surprisingly frightening, and it might put a smile on your face:

The majority of students in universities today were born in 1983. They are called youth. They have never heard of We are the World, We are the children, and the Uptown Girl they know is by Westlife not Billy Joel.

They have never heard of Rick Astley, Bananarama, Nena or Belinda Carlisle.

For them, there has always been only one Germany and one Vietnam. AIDS has existed since they were born. CD's have existed since they were born.

Michael Jackson has always been white. To them John Travolta has always been round in shape and they can't imagine how this fat guy could be a god of dance.

They believe that Charlie's Angels and Mission Impossible are Films from last year.

They can never imagine life before computers.

They'll never have pretended to be the A Team, RedHand Gang or the Famous Five.

They'll never have applied to be on Jim'll Fix It or Why Don't You. They can't believe a black and white television ever existed and don't even know how to switch on a TV without a remote control. And they will never understand how we could leave the house without a mobile phone.

Friday, May 21, 2004

Ooooh, had a real blast of nostalgia yesterday. A bunch of maps from a potential cartography supplier including a town plan of Derby. So I spent a good 20 minutes or so looking at that plotting where people lived during the college days, shops and so forth. I definitely feel the need to pop up there for a day or so of mooching about old haunts some time. And if that could be combined with a ride on the new Nottingham tram system then so much the better.

Definitely feeling like I don't know what I'm doing these last couple of days too. OK, so there is still enough of the old job to have kept me busy, but with Charles and Chris off there has been no one to turn to for a bit of guidance. Still, the books are finished and signed off now so that should be my last set of those. Hopefully I will be replaced by the time the next edition is due. And today I got out for three and a bit hours to another meeting at Ipswich Borough about the concerts this summer. A bit of a waste of time as it was mostly waffle about the stage construction and food concession licencing etc with a teensy section devoted to transport. But I needed to go to the bank anyway...

Because Grandma has been feeling her age and looking in to inheritance tax issues should the inevitable happen sooner than she wants. So she has decided to offload a bit of cash on to all us grandchildren while she can see what we do with it. So that was very generous and makes our holiday plans a bit more exciting this year. Now all we need to do is decide on something and book it.

And now for the weekend...

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Well, Ipswich Town failed at the second-to-last hurdle last night and lost their division one play-off semi-final. Which means they won't be going to Cardiff in a couple of weeks for the final and thus won't be able to win that to gain promotion to the premiership. As a non-fan who's job is affected by football traffic I am generally not bothered by this. OK, so it would have been a good boost for the town as a whole, but it would have made the club even harder to deal with than they are at present, created greater traffic problems on match dyas and generally made more work. But there are plenty of people wandering about here with long faces and a general air of doom and gloom today. I'd be happier if they flattened the stadium and put in an ice rink - Ice Hockey I'm sure I could get in to as a spectator sport on a regular basis.

Anyway, since last I wrote it has been hot and sunny and we spent all weekend out in the garden. The sunburn is slowly fading away from lobster pink now. Of course there is still loads and loads and a bit more work to do out there, but then there always will be. Things will insist on growing and needing looking after or dying and needing replacement. Very inconsiderate if you ask me. Not that I did as much as Joan either - while shifting unwanted P&R for Elton John concert leaflets around town on Thursday I pulled a muscle in my back which is still giving me pain and stiffness. Nearly better it must be said, but could still use a bit more flexibility.

I think I am a bit better acquainted with what I am supposed to be doing now, but still largely in the dark over how to go about actually doing it. Part of me keeps thinking it will all click in to place one day, while another part says I'm going to be caught out as a fraud and got rid of. Now logically I know the second option isn't going to happen, but born worrier that I am... Still, Chris seems to be giving me the right knowledge in dribs and drabs so hopefully I'll see the light soon.

Today we have been out to meet one of our operators - Galloways. Quite a tidy little operation looking to gradually expand. They do a lot of coach holidays and stuff as well as bus contracts so there is plenty of scope for them to take on some of the more different stuff we are planning for the future. They have a good variety of vehicle sizes available and seem willing to innovate. OK, so they also have Ron who used to do this job (I am the fourth person to do this job in the last 6 years. Hope that doesn't mean I'll be moving on too soon) which may be a disadvantage but one I think we can work around.

Friday, May 14, 2004

Today I am considering myself lucky to be here. Driving home last night, descending from the Orwell Bridge when I saw something black come hurtling towards the car from he side of the road. Stone, lump of rock, not sure what really but it connected with an almighty thunk (that I felt as well as heard). On getting home and having a look it has left some deep scratches and a bit of a dent on the wing. So if it had been a foot or so higher I'd probably be looking at a new windscreen at the very least never mind injury, mayhem etc. Someone was definitely looking out for me there.

To make matters more complex I had also pulled a muscle in my back durng the morning while shifting P&R leaflet boxes around town so was in pretty much agony at every sudden movement. A bit more flexible and in less pain today, but still not particularly nice. Praise be for ibuprofen!

Wednesday I was out and about in the van with Chris (eventually after he finally got free from a 1 to 1 with Mitchell). We were looking at the north-central area of the county where we are supposed to be focussing our efforts in a transport review project over the coming weeks. Conclusion - there really isn't much out there for people to do or visit or shop at. I was fairly familiar with bits of the area, but it was useful to see it all in one visit and really gain a better feel for the places. Not sure we will be going with the
recomendations given by the consultants, but there is a definite need to do something better than we have at present. Of course most of what we do have was done at a rush when commercial operations got cancelled so the chance to actually plan in advance will be a
luxury we don't normally have. Still, a nice lunch in Diss when we finally got there and I think I learned a bit more about how I supposed to be working now from Chris as we were tootling around. Oh, and Joan actually won £115 at the Bingo so it was worth her going for once...

Today we have a meeting (at 3-30 on a Friday!) with someone trying to get us to sponsor a big charity event coming up. Not sure what we will do - personally I think it would be nice to be associated with it for the positive media coverage we might generate, but don't think we should do things we can't get a bus to easily. Will have to see what the management say.

Joan is off for the weekend with me which should be nice (if my back eases up). We are meeting Ma & Pa for dinner at the White Horse tomorrow night but otherwise have no plans apart from relaxing and having some fun.

So, finally for today, I was right about the Graham Norton book not lasting long. In fact I was through it in 28 hours or so, which includes around 8 hours asleep and 8 here at the office... Have now gone back to Melanie Rawn with book 4 (or book 1 of the second trilogy if you prefer) Stronghold.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

They didn't win anything once again - not in any of the games and the big draw prize went to the club in Edinburgh. And now Helen wants Joan to go again (although to Felixstowe not Ipswich) on Wednesday. Time to call in Gamblers Anonymous I reckon.

Not sure if Joan will be going though - she has been having real problems with one of her teeth - had it crowned and all sorts - and last night the blessed thing snapped off. Hopefully she will be able to get in with the dentist and get it fixed one way or another, but I feel so sorry for her going through all the pain and hassle.

Still floundering a bit in the new job, but also got plenty to do and read. I just don't quite understand it all yet. I'll get there in time though I'm sure.

Wrote that lot a couple of hours ago. And since then I have actually done something properly realted to the new job - persuaded one of our sponsored service operators to extend a contract he was planning to cancel for an extra month. This way it will tie in with some other changes we are working on for the same area. OK, so it was the bus company run by someone who used to do this very job and I've known him for 6 years, but its a start!

Finished The Wee Free Men yesterday. As I said, very good. Hard to say anything else about mr P really as he is just so consistently worth reading. Am now reading a biography of Graham Norton by Alison Bowyer. Not an official one so while she has tracked down assorted family and friends most of it is cut & paste from other interviews and articles. An entertaining read if not overly taxing (I only started it last night and have whipped through over 120 pages already!)...

Saturday, May 08, 2004

And the weekend rolls around again in a haze of drunken debauchery, all-night partying and general misbehaving. Or perhaps that was someone else and I've done some ironing while Joan has been at work today... Take your pick. If Chris's latest plan comes off then I might be working some Saturdays in the near future as he reckons we have got far too much work to be done in our contracted 37 hours per week. While we are being told all the time from above not to exceed hours to build up flexi-time we never get to take, there might be the possibility of doing some paid overtime to clear the backlog instead. OK, so I'm not sure if 6 day weeks will agree with me in the long term but for a couple of months I might be prepared to give it a go. Especially as the extra hours will be at my new rate of pay.

Of course I still don't really know what I'm doing in my new job that will take all these hours to complete. It seems I will be running a project reviewing publicity, but then I was going to do that anyway. Just now it will be a bit more in-depth and generate interim and working paperwork as well as just a final report. I'm sure some of this project approach is just making work for its own sake (and we are surely meant to be churning out less unneccesary paperwork now we are in the gleaming world of Endeavour House) but I'd rather be busy than sit around twiddling my thumbs.

Not that there was much of that yesterday. Woke up with a headache that I didn't manage to shift until I got home an had a couple of hours sleep. Car Parks meeting in the morning which Chris came along to to see what they were all about. I think we were all agreed that the group has lost some of its focus over the last year or so - a lot of what it was set up to acheive has now taken place so we are in a bit of a holding pattern at the moment. Hopefully I will still get to go in the new world order (still not sure if I will be retaining all or some of the Park & Ride work) as I do like to know what's going on in Ipswich in general - and the group gets that info by virtue of being part of the Ipswich Partnership. After the meeting Richard Walker came back with us to have a nose at the new building and also talk to the marketing people about doing some shared parking adverts. I think he liked the place and seemed quite taken with some of the new ways we are starting to do things. And of course the Borough council are going to have to move soon as their building is gradually crumbling away, plus they have de-criminalisation of parking controls going through so that will change a lot of Richard's job too.

Joan and Helen are at the bingo right now - hoping not only for a win but also that Ipswich gets pulled out of the hat in the big million pound share-out happening tonight. Basically £1,000,000 will get split between everyone in the lucky club. Naturally there was a huge queue to get in when they arrived so even if they do get drawn the share will be fairly small (the place is huge and will hold at least 1,000 people I guess). Fingers crossed for them to at least cover the entry cost and have a nice night whatever.

Finished the geography book. Not quite what I was hoping for (it was more a review of different methods and techniques available than the history and overview I wanted) but still very interesting and reminded me why I took my degree in the subject all those years ago. And it was nice to realise that I do still use some of the knowledge gained in Derby without realising it. Will have to look out for something more along the lines just described some time. Which might be easier as I have taken the decision to rejoin the book club I used to belong to. The Softback Preview. Which is the only one out there that doesn't insist on you buying a set number of books per year or whatever. Which is the only reason I joined in the first place back in the College days and why I'm going back. Not that I ever officially left as far as I recall, they just stopped sending the brochures after I'd gone a year or so without buying anything.

Am now half way through the latest Terry Pratchett to hit paperback - The Wee Free Men which is just as good as everything else he has written. Technically a children's story set on the Discworld but still in the same league as the rest.

That'll do for today.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Well here I am at my new desk doing my new job. Well, sort of doing it anyway - I have written some letters pertaining to my new patch and have a thick report to read but am now looking at timetables as before. Same old same old, as they say. Anyway, at least I'm being paid more to do it so I won't complain.

So, a week since last post. What have I been up to? Wednesday was just another day of plugging away at Timetables and sorting stuff out prior to the move (and a thrilling meeting about timetable cases at the roadside), then we had five days off together.

OK, so Joan had been off all week but I couldn't manage all the time so just two days off work was what I had to settle for. We originally had grand plans to get away for a couple of nights - I got as far as sorting some brochures for short breaks but we never got round to booking anything. Still, cheaper that way! We also intended to take a few day trips, but the weather was generally dreadful (Thurs, Fri, Sat and the Bank Holiday Monday were all rainy, quite heavy rain in fact while Sunday was glorious sunshine and I got sunburnt rather than soaked) and the furthest we were able to manage was here in Ipswich. Quite literally here on Thursday in fact as we paid extensive visits to The Range and Dunelm Mill at the end of the street from the office. Just like a normal day's travel for me

Other highlights of the break included: Ma, Pa & Richard coming to dinner on Friday night, more Ipswich shopping, some wandering around Felixstowe and some nice meals here and there. And also getting hold of the new Chumbawamba album Un which is superb. In the same vein as the last one but using internationally sourced samples rather than British folk music. Needs some more listens to fully get under my skin but initial thoughts are highly favourable.

Sunday, the nice day, was also the annual Ipswich to Felixstowe historic vehicle run. So that explains the sunburn from standing on the corner watching everything go by then wandering down and along the seafront for another couple of hours (with an ice cream of course, although not Joan as she elected to stay at home after the corner bit). Another bunch of lovely old cars, trucks and buses etc and another reason to be grateful for digital photography. I think I have now just about covered the cost of the camera in not paying for films and developing charges. Plus it is very nice to be able to take a few different angles and choose the nicest or to preview the finished shot while still stood next to the subject.

And we also managed to watch a few films: 8 Mile which was a lot better than I expected. I seem to be growing to appreciate rap more and more as the years go by even if the lifestyle and a lot of the subject matetr (that is when they actually have a subject other than themselves) doesn't do much for me. Kill Bill Vol 1 which was superb, if totally ridiculous at times. In fact we might actually go and see Vol 2 at the cinema now rather than waiting for the dvd release just so we don't have to wait to find out the ending. And Sleepy Hollow which we had seen before, but it was on the tv so we thought we'd give it another go. Still fun - and Johnny Depp and Tim Burton are a great combination.

Back to work now...

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Marvellous, forgot all my passes today - building, P&R and shuttle bus. So I've had to pay to get here (but only because I wanted to get the same bus as normal rather than wait and get a freebie off the supervisor), sign in and will no doubt have further awkwardness when I have to go out later. Fool. Mind you, I am definitely suffering big time from nerves over the new job - not sleeping at all well for starters - even though Chris wanted me for it. I'm sure it will all come out alright in the end, but for now it is doing my head in. Oh well, only got to get through today and tomorrow then five days off before the change.

Yesterday we had a training session on the new mPlan software we are supposed to be using to help plan routes and areas of need etc in the future. They have been working on-and-off on the project since 1988 or thereabouts and we still don't anticipate it being useful this side of Christmas. Plus they had the brother Richard down as the IT contact for it, and when I spoke to him last night he'd never heard of it. I will say no more! The strangest thing, though, was that we were back in St Edmund House for the day. That was very strange. We've only been here a month but the old place seemed so grotty and dirty and falling apart at the seams... A pity some of the more persistent complainers about this place couldn't have come along to see the contrast now they are used to the new. It was also very odd when I dropped my new, signed contract in to personnel - most of the building is empty at the moment before they move in the people from other buildings who are not coming over here. Very odd.

And then we had to go and walk the dog with Helen as Bhupen and Alexander were away for the night. A nice evening and we ended up getting some chips on the way home, just to be naughty! I think they might have contributed to the not sleeping very well either.

Right, time to crack on with timetable proof checking.

Sunday, April 25, 2004

When I left Argos Newmarket to go to Argos Stowmarket, there really wsn't much to do in the way of handing stuff over to a successor (or potential one) as everything we were supposed to do in the stockroom was already documented and written up as procedures etc. Plus I had the place running at pretty much top efficiency and was getting good productivity out of the staff. (Despite what certain Managers of other stores may have thought and implied later on, which I am not going to get into today - I'll save that for if I ever do what I intended this blog to hold in the form of potted chunks of autobiography (which is probably really conceited for someone like me but who cares?)). And when I left Stowmarket it was under a cloud so I never had the chance to do any handing over (although again most of what I was doing was in pretty good shape). So, what I'm trying to say here is that the last couple of days have been a lot harder than I was expecting.

Having to analyse what I do and write it down for someone else to refer to is proving to be quite an insight. On the one hand I'm thinking "crikey, don't I do a lot of stuff" and on the other "there's just nothing to write down for this as it is so basic". Still, at least I can reassure myself that I haven't wasted the last six years. And I am even more apprehensive about what is to come from May the fourth but still looking forward to the challenge. The formal offer letter came yesterday so that was nice (especially the bit about the salary!) and has finally made it all real in my head. Oh well, I need a change and I will get the hang of the new stuff sooner or later. I'm sure Charles and Chris will help me out.

But I won't be learning in tandem with David from education - they told him he hadn't got the job for the reasons he suspected after the interview - not knowing enough about the things he could only have known about if he'd already been a member of the public transport group. Which does seem a bit unfair but that's life in the real world I guess. So with Danny leaving on Friday (can't say I'm sad to see him go) we have three vacancies up for grabs still.

In between the procedure writing I have managed to fit in two evacuation drills down our fab new fire escapes. Neither was intentional they tell us - both set off by dust from the builders in the new council chamber/democratic space rising in the heat of the atrium and triggering the alarms. Still, the process seemed to go smoothly even if the Wednesday version had rain thrown in to the mix. The external stairs wobbled a bit with a couple of hundred people hurtling down them but everything else was fine (personally I reckon it is all part of a secret corporate health program - along with having to walk the length of the building twice when wanting to get in or out outside of staffed reception hours). Also had yet another delegation from Essex looking at Park & Ride and being generally impressed. I shall definitely miss that aspect of the job, but hopefully we can rustle up some services in the new patch that are worth people coming to look at.

Fingers crossed.

Joan is now off until after the bank holiday (taking 2 and 3 year old lieu days she could never fit in before) so we have had a fairly lazy weekend with no rush to get loads done before heading back to work tomorrow (I am off again from Thursday so that will be a nice 5 day weekend for us). Mind you, we did do a lot in the garden yesterday so not all that lazy. But there has been time to buy and read the papers and watch the Grand Prix (well done to Jenson for his first Pole and second place, win next time?) and generally sit around not doing very much. She is now bingoing with Helen and some people from where Helen works.

Fingers crossed again!

Hopefully she will have a tidy win as she is going to Rome in June with Tracey for her Hen night. Things have obviously changed in the wedding world in the last 9 years! I'm a bit jealous to say the least but at least she will be able to take charge when we do get there together and I will be able to sit back and ask for suggestions on where to go for a change.

And that's about it. Have finished the third Dragon book (enjoyed it again but then I knew I would). Am now reading The Geographer's Art by Peter Haggett - for a number of reasons but mainly because it was the nearest unread non-fiction book on the shelves when I sat down to eat earlier. It looks interesting so I hope I can remember enough of the terminology from 12 years ago to enjoy it.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

How to shoot yourself in the foot: Part One. Can't remember if I mentioned it, but when he left Mike had a letter complaining about Endeavour House printed in the local paper, and has apparently been banned from the building as a result.

Last night, their front page article went like this:

Hot air over new building

April 20, 2004 18:57

EFFICIENCY has gone out of the window - unlike any of the hot air at Endeavour House - a senior council worker has claimed today.

Staff at Suffolk County Council's much-vaunted new showpiece headquarters have found their move has been far from smooth, the frustrated council officer said. Martin Chiverton, a planning officer in the council's environment and transport department, said he has been left hot under the collar by his new working conditions in the building which cost £18m. This is despite some other workers praising how good Endeavour House is to work in The Evening Star last week.

"I have to say that is not my experience, or that of my colleagues in this department," said Mr Chiverton in response to their claims.

He said other staff found the new offices uncomfortable: "The massive atrium has no opening windows and no ventilation; when the sun shines it is uninhabitable," Mr Chiverton said. He said there was no air conditioning in the central area - and it was very uncomfortable on the fine days last week. "It's going to be hellish in the summer," he warned.

Basic facilities were also inadequate: "There are not enough gents' toilets (I cannot vouch for the ladies'). The only urinals are on the ground floor.

"I'm sure that TXU, who had the building designed for them, did not expect any men to work here!

"The food in the restaurant and coffee bar has gone upmarket, and so have the prices. The "coffee platform" looks more like an oil platform."

In addition Mr Chiverton criticised the IT provision in the building which cost for power company TXU £40m to build and which the council bought for less than half that price. He said: "We might have new screens for our computers but we still have the same basic computer and they are using an old operating system that the IT (Information Technology) staff don't know how to use. "They have to be linked up to our old server in St Edmund House - and there are no plans to move it over here," he said.

There was also insufficient storage space so files had to be archived and it took some time to retrieve them when necessary, he added.

Mr Chiverton also said the lack of visitors' parking at Endeavour House caused problems for people attending meetings in the new building - it was not acceptable to expect all of them to walk or use the bus.

Mr Chiverton said many of his colleagues had been irritated by the Star's interview with employees chosen by the council's public relations department last week. "They might be happy, but that's not true of everyone here - and I'm certainly not alone," he said.

RESPONDING to Mr Chiverton's criticisms a spokesman for the county council today said the atrium was naturally ventilated. And while it could get hot, it complied with all health and safety legislation.

He said: "Some work is still ongoing putting the finishes touches to Endeavour House but the building is due to be completed by the end of the month.

"Staff were informed of the building work in progress and we have kept disruption to a minimum," he said.

"Some teething problems have occurred which is only natural for a new building.

"We have experienced a few problems getting the balance right with the air conditioning as more people move in."

Different departments had used different computer systems in their previous offices which had caused a few problems since moving to the new headquarters - but these were being ironed out and most staff had not had any difficulties.

"Costly office space is no longer used for records that are not used frequently and new electronic systems will mean we don't need as many paper files in the future," he said.

"Staff have been weeding out old and unused files. The vast majority of the organisation has benefited from this process, creating far more efficient use of office space."

And the council rejected claims that the lack of parking would cause problems for visitors to Endeavour House. "There is plenty of public parking available nearby," said the spokesman.

"As part of our green travel plan we encourage the use of park and ride, cycling and public transport wherever possible but of course we would never suggest that these are the only modes of transport."

Staff surveys suggested most liked the new restaurant - but prices would have gone up whether they had moved or not.

And the spokesman maintained Endeavour House was a model of convenience: "The male toilets provided are more than adequate to meet the needs of the occupants of Endeavour House. The idea of not having urinals provides more flexibility."

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

I've walked all the way up to the fifth floor twice today now, and feel incredibly virtuous and healthy as a result. Yeah, right. I've just got wobbly thighs and a reminder of how unfit I really am. Still, I will just have to keep plodding upwards on a regular basis and hope it helps in the long term. When I think how quickly I used to get up to the 9th floor at College... Mind you, that was 12 years ago.

Today has been the final interview for the other SPTO post. Hopefully they will award the job to David from Education Transport who it was they saw, rather than having to re-advertise, but he said they weren't very forthcoming when he came out. It would also seem they asked him a lot of stuff about our targets and so forth which he doesn't really know much about as yet. Which seems a bit unfair but there you are.

So, what else has been going on? Friday was Helen's birthday so we went up there for a Chinese after work. Not bad, but not as good as the food from the Magic Wok (it is so bad for the waistline having the best Chinese in town at the end of the road). Saturday and Sunday Joan was working so I just mooched about the house really. Saturday night we went along to Ma & Pa's for the meal to go with Richard's birthday. And then another week at work.

I am now headlong into handover mode, producing procedure documents for all my current jobs and starting to look at new stuff.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Well, it has been official for a bit over 24 hours now. From May the Fourth I will be Senior Public Transport Officer - Network Design (Central) or some such glorified title. Chris and Ian pulled me to one side at half past one to confirm the good news. And I was in my first relevant meeting at two. Fastest piece of action anyone has seen round here for years! Obviously I'm still nervous about my abilities but really looking forward to the change. I will have to move desks and don't get a choice as I have been paired with Sue from the Community Transport Team so have to sit next to her. That means my view will be even more restricted, being straight on to the grey cabinets on the end wall, but at least I won't have my back to them and be bothered by all and sundry making use of them.

Just waiting for the official letter now. And news of how much money it will all be worth to me.

Which means I now have to start telling people and planning for my successor. So I've written one procedure today and told everyone at the ATCO publicity meetings they will need to find a new scribe.

Meanwhile, Charles has been told off for bad-mouthing the new building. Apparently Mitchell has had three complaints about him complaining to all and sundry. Great. While Barry was chosen to go and meet the press to say how nice the place ie. What's that saying about pleasing some of the people all of the time again?

Yesterday's entertainment came from Catch Me If You Can which was, frankly, brilliant. A really good film, and based on a
true story too. Looking forward to taking a peek at the extras on disc 2 now. Have also finished the maps book. Really fascinating stuff and it has inspired me to dig out some of my books on old maps to do a bit of scanning come the weekend.

Am now on to Sunrunner's Fire, third of the Melanie Rawn books.

Oh yes, and today is Richard's birthday so we will be popping along there tonight.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Blurgh, I feel reet grotty today. Hay fever I am assuming rather than a cold after spending pretty much all day out in the garden yesterday. All stuffed up and not breathing properly. Which meant I didn't sleep particularly well. And of course the anticipation and wondering if anyone is going to come over and give me some good news doesn't help either. And at gone 4pm I don't think it is actually going to happen today. Which could just mean Mitchell thinks Chris (or possibly personnel perhaps) ought to tell me or could mean he doesn't want me for the job. I just want to know one way or the other then I can start planning properly. Hey ho.

So, what was the rest of the weekend like? Sunday was nice, fairly sunny and tolerably warm for the time of year. We went for a walk along the beach in the morning, sat on the cliff tops with an ice cream, that sort of thing. Generally a lazy day (even to the point that Richard came along and we had some three player games of Bust-A-Move and Monkey Bowling). Then we went to Bingo in the evening. Yes, that's right. WE! Joan and Helen had been planning to go and they decided Bhupen and I ought to go along as well. We only played 2 books at a time rather than the 6 they handled (I think I could easily upgrade to 3 or 4 with no problems straight away - 6 after a month or so of practice!) and nobody won anything but it was an interesting experience. Lots of gaps between the main games where you can play extra ones at a pound a time (anyone playing the lot while we were there would have shelled out well over £100) and odd concentrated bursts of concentration. I expect I'll go again some time, but not every time Joan wants to go.

Yesterday, as mentioned, we spent most of the day in the garden doing the annual shed clearout, pruning, grass cutting, car washing etc. We also had our first lunch outside of the year and got a teensy bit sunburned into the process. In the evening we watched My Big Fat Greek Wedding which was just as good as we had been lead to believe.

Oh yes, and I bought a Gameboy Advance SP for half price on Saturday. Just borrowing games from Richard for now rather than spending loads of money on them myself. There are a few I would like, but we shall see how the job and money situation goes first.

Back here today and nothing much going on that thrills. Popped into town at lunchtime to buy Richard's birthday presents and otherwise just updating reports, writing letters and so forth. And now time to head home I think...

Saturday, April 10, 2004

So, the hordes are at the gates screaming at the top of their lungs... "How did the interview go then?" Frankly I wasn't sure when I came out. I knew I had given pretty good answers (and some of them were even my own rather than from Chris's assistance) and they made loads of notes (in fact I've never seen anyone in an interview write as much as Chris did) but can never tell how well I have come across. I guess I felt more confident than last time (the interview where I competed with Gary for our own jobs) but not really had enough interviews to tell how I did. However, I did get to learn what Matt thought of the other chap they called in and then had to escort him out of the building myself (!) and decided I probably had a better chance than he did.

I wasn't expecting to hear anything until after the final interview on the 20th but later in the afternoon Chris pulled me to one side and said that providing Mitchell agrees when Ian speaks to him on Tuesday I've got the job. It seems he is a bit dubious after my performance before, but Chris thought I did really well and Ian said it was like interviewing a different person. Which is nice. So, fingers are definitely crossed for a positive outcome from the big boss and then I shall have to see if I can actually do the job.

There will of course be all the transitional stuff where I have to learn the new and leave the old in a state convenient to pass it over. Chris wants Matt to get my job after covering it in the interim and he will need a fair bit of training up, but I think he should manage it. Of course I'm still nervous as hell over what I'll have to do, but just keep thinking that I need a change and the extra money will be very nice. So I'm very keen to get the personnel side of the matter cleared up straight away and start seeing the benefits. And while I'll miss Park & Ride I am totaly fed up with farting around with timetables and trying to get them printed in time. It will be interesting to see it from the other side.

We are seemingly going to take on a third of the county each, and I have got the middle/southern chunk. Glad to avoid Haverhill and Brandon and will no doubt get to know some of our prettier villages rather well.

There you have it. A couple more days of nail-biting and then hopefully I can crack on with lots of new challenges.

Not much else to add really. The rest of Thursday was mostly a blur and despite it being Good Friday Joan was at work yesterday. So I just pottered around and tidied and stuff. So far today the tumble dryer has finally been fixed and I've ironed until running out of the poncy water stuff we put in it for steaming. OK, so I could pop over to Spar and pick up another bottle but I've already been out twice today (three times if you count taking Joan to work) and am off into town again later.

Time for a few games of Pengo now (I've become hooked over the last couple of days, hurrah for MAME).

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Interview rapidly approaching (10 tomorrow) and the nerves are really starting to kick in now. Working at home today as we had an appointment with the bank to see if we would be able to reduce some payments should Joan have to cut back on her work and while I am getting shedloads of work done with no distractions, the peace is also letting my mind wander and get paranoid again. Am I doing the right thing in applying, do I have what it takes, will I actually get the job, can I do it, why am I doing it and all that sort of stuff. I think it helped that I spent a good 2½ to 3 hours talking over bits of the interview and testing process with Chris yesterday afternoon. Certainly gave me a few things to think about over how I present myself and what I need to be saying. Had to do a 200+ "psychometric" multiple choice test as part of the procedure and he says the results told him what he already knows about me, so that proces either the test is very well designed and perceptive or that I have done similar things before and no the right answers to give!

I won't deny I'm very apprehensive about the whole thing, but then I do need a change as I am getting a bit stuck in a rut with publicity. I wish I could drop that side of the job and keep Park & Ride but that will never happen. And now Martlesham is open there is no further development planned for the forseeable future so I really could be in danger of stagnating. I think this whole situation has given me the impetus to look elsewhere if I don't get this one though (perhaps even if I do if I don't get on with it!). Shall just have to see what happens.

I just wish all three interviews were tomorrow as I don't really want to have to wait for the third chap to be seen on the 20th before finding out how it went. OK, I'm sure Chris will give me some indication but he won't be able to tell me I've got one of the two posts before they have seen everyone.

Aaargh, the tension!

Oh and while I'm on... Finished Dragon book 2. Again, enjoyable to re-live the experiences and had forgotten enough to be flicking ahead to make sure things would come out alright for some characters (I hate the way authors sometimes put people I really care about in grotty situations when I just want them to be the happy background and others I don't care for can have the nasty stuff happen to them).

Am now reading The Island Of Lost Maps by Miles Harvey which relates the tale of a modern day map thief along with giving details on the history of maps and mapping, a bit of exploration, a bit of library design and so forth. Thus nicely linking a lot of the other stuff I've read in the last year or so into one neat package. Interesting stuff so far.

Saturday, April 03, 2004

Well, much as I would love to be writing today about how well Joan's interview went and that we are now preparing for her to start in Ipswich I can't. In the end she didn't actually go for it. I got to work, logged in, did about 5 minutes worth of data entry and got a message saying she was stressed to hell and not feeling good. So I came home and took her to see the doctor. Not her usual one, but a nice fellow all the same. After what he said she decided that the stress of the journey every day would not be good (she is not a good car passenger anyway so doing the A14 twice a day was never an appealling prospect) and she doesn't want to leave Felixstowe. Leave Argos, yes, but not the town. So she has decided to bide her time at Argos here, put up with Marion and look for something in town that pays enough and won't be as stressful.

Part of me wishes that wasn't the case as I do think the Ipswich job would have been good for her, but mostly I am in agreement. There is no point her travelling if she won't enjoy it and there are ways she can put up with the situation for now without going mad. We shall just have to hope mine goes OK on Thursday.

Not a lot else to say now. Listened to Acid Motherhood this morning and while I don't think it will become my favourite Gong album it is pretty good. Recorded in collaboration with the Japanese Acid Mother's Temple who I am now tempted to check out to see what they are like without Mr Allen along.

Have also watched the qualifying for the first Bahrain grand prix. Nice looking track (and all the desert views are much appreciated while I'm reading the Melanie Rawn books as they are largely set in sandy parts) and it could be a good race. Schumacher on pole of course, so no surprises there, but I will give them a chance tomorrow.

Joan at work so I will have to get on with some more ironing now.

Thursday, April 01, 2004

Day four, natives restless but providing superb cuisine. Strange wingless bird seen in sky and mighty thunder-lizard spotted across the wasteland. Water plentiful and morale good despite defections.

Or in tranlsation, we are still enjoying the settling in process, except for Charles who seems to have found something new to complain about every hour on the hour since he got here on Monday morning. The catering facilities are up and running very nicely, with an exquisite range of sausage baguettes that we thought we ought to try this morning. 25p more expensive than Alberts, but about £2.50 better tasting. I finally got something slightly more exciting than the side of the football stadium to look at this morning when an army helicopter flew in, landed on the pitch and then departed. Ans we didn't hear a thing which proves the double glazing to be eefective at any rate. Then at lunch time a large percentage of the office (but not me) wandered over to the station to see the first train in the new "One" livery arrive. As of today our rail services come under a new operating franchise, but it seems they have chosen a truly dreadful colour scheme to go with the daft name.

Yesterday was Mike's last official day working for us (he was back at his desk this morning, but in his new guise as a temporary contract/consultant type person). We all went up to PJ McGinty's Irish bar in town for a Thai meal (in their cunningly named McGinThai restaurant) to wish him on his way. And very tasty it was too. Although I only opted for the stir-fry in Oyster sauce which tasted just like it had come from the Magic Wok at the end of our street rather than the spicier choices at least I didn't go for the burger and chips option followed by several of the party. It was a good meal in good company and naturally the talk turned to all the other people who have been through the team in the last 14+ years he had worked here. Scary how many people have been and gone just in the last 6 since I started. We then dragged him back here for his formal presentation and gift giving (we gave him a load of plants, he gave all the management team something suitable including a can of shit for Peter the marketing manager and a spinning top for Mitchell, king of the corporate spin). He also then declaimed a bit about the move here being a bad one and the structure changes taking us all downhill. Not the best way to leave you remembered favourably it has to be said.

Otherwise it has been the usual round of fiddling with timetables, spending money on adverts and repairs and generally getting to know this place. I also now know who I am up against for my interview (1 external, 1 from education transport - but his interview is not until the 20th rather than next week). I guess with two vacancies and only three candidates I have a pretty good chance! And it could be interesting either way with the education guy as they will be sharing this end of the office with us by then so he will then spend the next couple of years either resenting us or being resented by them for deserting. Still not 100% sure I want to do the job, or that I have enough skills to get me it in the first place (especially now we apparently have to be competency based in everything we do) but I feel it is time for a change and the extra money would be nice.

After turning down the interview offer with the dentist because the pay was far too low, Joan has her interview for the job at Ipswich tomorrow. I have the afternoon off to take her as they have decided to hold them in Sudbury of all places. Still, the meeting I was supposed to be at in the morning has been cancelled so I will at least be able to leave this week with many loose ends tied rather than flapping.

Monday, March 29, 2004

So here we are in our lovely new home. Obviously I use the word lovely with caution. Certainly it is going to take a bit of getting used to - for instance nearly all the internal doors are protected and need a button pressing or id card swipe to open. and there is a lot of noise floating across from down the way. Although not as much as previously feared (but then Education Transport don't move in for another couple of weeks yet and they will be our other close neighbours). There is a definite sense of feeling a bit hemmed in and crowded once sat in position as everyone is so close, and it will be ages before we can find anything despite trying to be fairly methodical when unpacking.

It took me an hour or so to get logged in to the system for PC and phone this morning, but it all appears to be going pretty smoothly now. Got both printers up and running from Windows, but not yet from DOS, and generally settling in. Charles and Gary were annoyed by the limited lunch availability but that should be up to full speed soon as well. I think I have even managed to come to a desk layout I like already. So now all I need to do is find the time for a wander about to take a few more pictures...

Going back in time, on the whole we had a pretty damn good weekend. Went round to Ma & Pa's for dinner Friday night as Grandma was up (having paid a flying visit on Thursday night to deliver her Birthday card) and departed seriously stuffed with tasty nosh. Then Saturday it was down to London for a spot of shopping along Oxford Street (finally got hold of the new Gong album Acid Motherhood but not listened to it yet so can't pass comment as yet), another tasty Garfunkels lunch and the theatre for We Will Rock You. Which was absolutley superb. Now I've been a Queen fan for as long as I can remember but hearing the songs performed live, even by someone else was rather special. I don't mind admitting that there were more than a few tears being shed. All the singers were excellent, and as themselves rather than trying to replicate the originals. Plus the story was pretty good and the scripting by Ben Elton absolutley brilliant with just the right mix of comedy and drama. It was also most impressive in the scenery and use of screens and computer graphics to set the scene too. Top stuff. The only real problem was that Joan and I were placed either side of an aisle by the ticketing arrangements. Not best pleased by that but nothing we could do about it as the place was full.

Otherwise highly recommended as a total audio-visual experience.

Plus Joan had a good reunion with Briony who used to work with her at Argos and was along for the trip with her Mum who works
here. Lots of gossip and things to catch up on.

Yesterday was fairly relaxed - shopping, ironing, rounding up the dog to deliver back to Helen & Bhupen and catching up on a few bits with them. I think they are still in shock over the whole affair but that will pass in time I guess. And I was right about the design book not lasting all that long. By bedtime Friday I was in to Star Scroll, second of the Melanie Rawn series.

Right time to get on with some work then...