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Friday, 24 December 2010

Baa-Humbug to the snow

As a child I used to love the snow. I didn't care that it was cold, wet & it gave hypothermic fingers & toes. The first time I really remember snow I was about 9. It looked so magical glistening under the evening street light and I seem to remember that my school had to shut for a week as the heating oil ran out. After that it didn't really snow in any great quantity for a further 10 years.

Then in the early 1990's we suddenly had lots of the stuff and I was a pain the drive in. Back then I had a Ford Cortina that was of course rear wheel drive. Completely useless in snow and I twice remember having to abandon her and walk.

The crowning glory though was the legendary "Wrong Type of Snow" in 1991. I had just joined the railway and spent 5 hours getting to work after the first snow. It's only a journey of 21 miles and normally took 20 minutes. When i finally got to work few of my colleagues had bothered. The big boss personally thanked me for my effort and suggested I head back home again. The trains continued to be a mess for a good week after that and I spent more than one journey crushed tightly into the Guards Van.

Last December it snowed about a week or so before Christmas and my Sons school was closed, but I didn't care as I was between jobs and didn't have to venture out if I didn't feel like it. The snow came again in January this year and once again I stayed at home, but made up the work time later.

In all of those incidents I seem to remember that the snow never stayed for more than a few days and then was gone. It provided a nice break from the norm and looked rather beautiful at the same time.

This winter has bought something very different indeed. It hasn't properly snowed since last Saturday, but the blasted stuff is still with us. No longer is it beautiful and soft. It's now just solid ice stuck the every road and pavement and this morning it was lethally slippery. The journey to the station today took quite a lot of nerve, concentration and most of my amazing balancing skills.

Thank goodness I no longer have to do that walk for a couple of weeks. Perhaps by then it will have gone. Fingers crossed.

Regards
Chris
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Thursday, 16 December 2010

Twelve into Nine does not go!

If you are a regular reader, you will probably know that my daily commute to work has become a constant source of annoyance to me and regular provides me with blogging material. This week has been no exception either.

Christmas, which is an expensive time of year, is fast approaching. January is always a hard month financially, post Christmas blues, above inflation season ticket increases and the extra bonus of an increase in VAT. And did I mention that my wife has been unable to find a permanent job? Her current role ends on New Years day! 2011 promises to be a fun year all round.

For the last twelve months I have really enjoyed paying £1980 to Southern Railway for the pleasure of travelling on increasingly over crowd trains. This week sees an improvement in services, so we ate told. All I have seen so far this week in a reduction in the length of my regular morning service from 12 to 9 carriages. How exactly is this an improvement?

Have I imagined it or have I finally graduated into a Grumpy Old Man?


Regards
Chris
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Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Illiterate Graffiti Artist

On my way to the station this morning I passed some fresh, but amusing graffiti. It read, "Pear dos will pay".

What exactly a Pear will do or what it will pay for was unclear, but it was sprayed on a fence opposite a primary school. Perhaps the artist was commenting on the education he had received there.

Regards
Chris
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Monday, 13 December 2010

Improved timetable?

On the radio this morning there was an avert from Southern Railway. It was telling listeners how a new timetable to be introduced this week, will improve journey time & increase train lengths. Oh good, I thought. That will mean a greater chance of getting a seat in the morning 8-)

This morning my train was only a couple of minutes late and 3 carriages short. I managed to get in the door by about 2 steps and was wedged there. This ment that I was at least 1 person away from any sides or hand rail. Being only 5"8', this was a problem because as the train bounced and lurched it way along I could support myself. I had no choice but to use the poor chap behind me as a battering ramp on at least 3 occasions. I'd like to apologise if that was you.

Welcome to Southend Railway excellent new timetable.... NOT!

Regards
Chris
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Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Oooo, I could crush a grape!

This morning is a bright crispy one and the temperature is at freezing point. I love days like this, but it tends to have an adverse affect on my daily commute. Today is no exception and the trains into London are in complete chaos. Even my iPhone timetable app has thrown in the towel.

I have however managed to squeeze myself onto a stopping service to London Bridge, which is no longer stopping as often. I was lucky as I've managed to push myself out of the vestibule, just. I found a bearable piece of floor on which to stand next to the first table from the entrance.

However, it's those poor souls who boarded at Gatwick that I felt most sorry for. The vestibule between the doors had turned into a wine press. Fortunately many of them exploded onto the platform at Redhill when the pressure was released by the doors. I too have managed to move into the train a few steps further and now have a seat handle to grab as the train slowly lurches towards the Capital.

Welcome to Britan, one of the richest countries in the world and the most over crowded in Europe.

Regards
Chris
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Monday, 15 November 2010

And back to Derby I go

As I expected, last week was tough one. There was a lot of information to take on board, admittedly, mostly common sense stuff. I diligently made notes of what I felt to be important information.

Sometimes on a course the trainer will ask the class questions to check that the students have understood and are still awake. If you're not sure of the required reply, it's usually possible to keep silent and let someone else answer. However, there were only two of us on this course and I soon discovered that it's impossible to hide. Especially if neither of you know the answer. It certainly keeps you focused on what's going on, I can tell you.

The teaching finished on Thursday and I was able to return home. However, I have today returned to Derby to have my newly learnt skills fully tested. After at silly-o-clock start from home, I arrived without the drama of last Mondays travel woes. I took the precaution of catching an earlier train and very carefully checking which train I was actually boarding.

All that planning gave me far more time to worrying about the assessment itself. By the time I arrived at the training centre I had whipped myself up into a frenzy of panic. 8 hours 30 minutes later and I had proved that I have what it takes to pass the course. What a relief 8-)

Regards
Chris
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Monday, 8 November 2010

I love trains ... Most of the time

I'm on my way to Derby for a training course, which my previous employer refused to send me on. It'll be a tough week with lots to take in, but very worthwhile. For me this is an important step forward.

I got up bright & early, with a spring in my step. Even the horrid dark blustery weather on my walk to the station didn't dampen my spirits. Unfortunately, my mood changed a little when I discovered that all the trains to London were delayed due to the seasons leaf fall. My chosen services was 10 minutes late and didn't make my connection at St. Pancras. The next train was due to leave at 8:25. I found the correct platform and bounded what I thought was the Sheffield service and made myself comfortable.

Shortly after there was an announcement, "Welcome to the East Midlands Trains 8:30 service to Nottingham". It took a moment for the penny to drop and asking a follow passenger if I'd heard correctly, confirmed my mistake. Apparently my train was at the other end of the platform. Dashing off the train, I stood on the platform and watched the Sheffield service leave without me. I gave it a little wave, with a clenched fist.

AAARRRGGGHHH!!!!

I am now on the 8:55 train to Derby, a mire hour later than I had expected. I hope my day improves from here!

Regards
Chris
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Tuesday, 2 November 2010

My iPhone made me late for work

As I'm sure you are all aware, the clocks went back an hour last Sunday to mark the end of British Summer Time (BST). Yesterday morning (monday) I woke up late for some unknown inexplicable reason and as a consequence I was late for work.

This morning the alarm on my iPhone went off at 7:15am instead of the usual 6:15am, which confused me as it was quite clearly set for 6:15! Weird, I thought.

The answer became abundantly clear when I came across an article about the problem in the Daily Telegraphs iPhone app. Apparently exactly the same thing happened right across Europe too. iOS 4.1 has a bug that affects how the alarm clock works when the clocks go back. The alarm seems to ignore the automated change in the time.

Apple are aware of the problem and plan to fix it in it next iOS update. In the meantime the only cure is to delete all your alarms and set new ones. Just adjusting the existing alarms doesn't cure it.

Daily Telegraph Article

Regards
Chris
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Thursday, 21 October 2010

Is this the Governments Quango review or the Twilight Zone?

For those of you who don't know, Quango is an acronym which stands for "quasi-autonomous non-governmental organisation". These are non elected bodies that have been set up by the Government to undertake various tasks, which they deem as useful. Such organisations include Network Rail, Offcom, Offpost, etc. However, there are currently 1,162 of these Quangos out there and most seem to be completely pointless. Some of them are completely unfathomable, even after researching them. My favourite so far has to be,

"Commission for the Compact"

Who, what, where and why? These are all valid questions and, to be quite honest, I'm struggling to answer any of them. I went to their website, http://www.thecompact.org.uk/ , and that just seems to be full of daft phrases that swallow up words, but mean nothing at all. This is what the website says about them,

This website explores the Compact, the longstanding agreement that sets out shared principles and guidelines for effective partnership working between government and the third sector in England.

What? The third sector? Give me a clue here please! Is it just me or does that sound like an extract of a Dr. Who script? Is this just a vehicle for people with Philosophy degrees to gain employment? Who knows as I don't have a clue!

The list of Quangos seems endless and many of them appear to be doing the same things over & over again. Some are to be merged, which seems sensible, but many are not. There are quite a few which deal with gambling in different sports. Why not bring those all together to reduce cost?

This governing game that gets played out by the "Westminster Muppet Show" drives me nuts. Why make it so complicated? Is it just an excuse to claim as much in public money as possible in an effort to line their own pockets? I think that is more than likely and I wish these people would stop pretending that they are doing all this money wasting for the public good. I truly believe the average "Man in the Street" is far smarter than these clowns give us credit for.

Regards



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Tuesday, 12 October 2010

There but for the grace of God I go

A much respected colleague of mine, Peter Scott, died recently. I worked with him directly for 15 years, during which time he taught me an awful lot. You could say he was a Railway Signalling guru. For many years he rang training courses in his spare time, thus passing on his significant knowledge to others.

He always remained single, a loner but wonderful man who was married to his work I suppose. He always thought of others. In fact he sent flowers to a sick mutual friend just days before his sudden death.

Today is his funeral. He was so popular that I wouldn't be surprised if the church overflows. From our office alone we've hired a 16 seater minibus to get us all there.

Peter - So many people miss you. The world is a poorer place without you.

Regards
Chris
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Monday, 11 October 2010

2 Shows, 22 Years Apart

In October 1988 two school friends and I queued up for over 8 hours in the rain in London's docklands to see a French man play some electronic music. The French man in question was the very talented Jean Micheal Jarre and the concert was Destination Docklands. It was a truly amazing experience and was one of the main reason I started to play the keyboard. I bought a T-shirt that day that still lives in my bottom draw, but I've long since lost touch with those two friends.

Fast forward 22 year and last night the talented Frenchman returned too the Docklands, but this time on the other side of the Thames at the O2. Once more I was in the audience with my good friend Pablos. Mr Jarre remembered his last visit. He said "Last time I was here it rained. This time there is a roof to protect me". His comment bought a lump to my throat and made me reflect on the intervening years.

It was another excellent concert, complete with his signature wild graphics and laser displays. I was positively drooling at his impressive collection of classic analogue synthesisers. Wall to wall Moogs and the like. Electronic porn heaven 8-)

I took quite a few photos of the event, but only with my iPhone. If any of them are useable I'll sick them on my next blog.

Regards
Chris
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Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Vote Electric

Is it just me, or does Ed Miliband (new leader of the Labour Party) remind you of Frank the Tortoise?

You decide.



Ed Milliband




Frank the Tortoise

Regards
Chris
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Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Badger cull plans for England being unveiled


The Westminster Muppet Show once again have excelled themselves. The country is going to pot with National Debt running at it's highest ever level and they seem to think that a Badger cull will solve all our problems!

Apparently they believe that these wonderful creatures are spreading TB to cattle, which in turn is costing the country £100 million a year. Badgers are protected under UK and European law, but that doesn't seem to bother the loonies that weald the power in Westminster. Their plan is to issue licences to "selected" farmer to allow them to shoot Badgers, thus preventing the spread of TB amongst cattle.

I believe that this view that Badgers are the problem is flawed and the scientific evidence seems to back up my view. I can't remember the exact details, by the was a wide spread Badger cull in Ireland (I think) a few years ago and the result to cases of cattle TB was absolutely zero. The Badgers were almost completely wiped out and the TB problem still existed. Did this not tell the Govt' that their plan is seriously flawed? Obviously not, it would seem!

I have a different idea, which may be quite poplar if put to a public vote. Our government bodies and Quango's are full of un-elected, over paid people who seem to just swallow up public money with no obvious benefit to society. They cost us vastly more than the £100 million per year that bovine TB does. Perhaps the Westminster Muppet Show should consider issuing licenses to allow farmers to shot them instead. This would probably solve the National Debt problem and unemployment in record time and the Badgers can live in peace in our green and pleasant land.

Before I have the Security Forces breaking down my door and hauling off for a "Chat", I would like to point out that this is only an idol suggestion and I have no plans to actually threaten the safety of any of the parasites whom sponge of my taxes. I would also suggest that anyone reading this also apply a little common sense to the what I have written.

Original Article from BBC News Website - Badger cull plans for England being unveiled

Regards



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Tuesday, 14 September 2010

(79/365) All my own work

(79/365) All my own work

Day 79

This years Crawley Camera Club Annual Exhibition is currently on at The Hawth Theatre in Crawley. I have two prints in the exhibition. One of which you can see in the photo above. It's called "Lonely Beach" and can see the full version here.

Please come along and have a look. There are 66 prints in all, it's free and will be on until Friday 24th September.

14th September 2010
(50D-1748-R)


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Monday, 13 September 2010

(78/365) And I still haven't found what I'm looking for

(78/365) And I still haven't found what I'm looking for

Day 78

At Camera Club this evening, we were treated to a very interesting presentation of underwater photography by a guest.

During the half time tea break I had a look through the clubs library in search of inspiration. As yet, I haven't found it.

13th September 2010
(iPhone)

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Sunday, 12 September 2010

(77/365) Gone, but not forgotten

(77/365) Gone, but not forgotten

Day 77

Today was another day of remembering. In celebration of my Grandparents Wedding Anniversary, we had a family outing to their graves. Grandpa died in 1982 & Grandma in 2000.


We then all stopped off at the Beehive Public in Woodhatch, Reigate on the way home and had an expensive meal, which was OK at best with appalling service thrown in for good measure. It always used to be very good there, but the world moves on I suppose. I doubt we will stop off there again.

Then it was on to visit my Wife's parents grave, before going home to sleep through watch the Italian Grandprix.

12th September 2010
(50D-1730-R)
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sleep through

Saturday, 11 September 2010

(76/365) A day to remember for lots of reasons

(76/365) A day to remember for lots of reasons

Day 76

Today Chunky, my Son & I visited the rather impressive Madejski Stadium, home of Reading FC. We were there courtesy of the Sun newspaper football ticket offer. We choose to go to Reading as they are quite a good team, having briefly played in the Premiership a few years back and it's not too far from home.

I myself have only been to one top football ground before, the old Wembley about 15 years ago, and Crawley Towns ground is hardly to best. The Madejski Stadium is about 12 years old and very impressive it is too. It holds around 20,000 people. There were 17,921 the day we visited. The atmosphere was truly amazing compered to the usual quiet 1,500 people at Crawley.

While I was there, I took some time to remember Mital Petal. She was an American I met in Ibiza in 2000. She was fun and bubbly and used to work in the personnel department of Cantor-Fitzgerald in the WTC, New York. We used to keep in touch via email.

On the 11th September 2001 she was at work as usual when an aircraft came through her office window. The rest is history and she was never seen again.

God bless you Mital xxxx

11th September 2010
(iPhone)

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Friday, 10 September 2010

(10-365) Some days I feel as if I'm banging my head on a wall

(10-365) Some days I feel as if I'm banging my head on a wall

Day 10

It was one of those days at work today 8-(

7th July 2010
(iPhone)

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(9-365) My name is Chris and I'm a Systems Engineer

(9-365) My name is Chris and I'm a Systems Engineer

Day 9

I was asked to do a technical presentation to my colleagues about my unique skill set. My bosses are encouraging me to pass on my knowledge to our junior members of staff. I put together a Power Point slide show which I expected to last about 20 minutes. It actually took me 1 hour 25 minutes to deliver. Fortunately no one died of boredom during the experience.

Those Eagle Eyed amongst you may have spotted that there is no one else in the room. I took the photo after everyone had safely escaped my clutches. LOL

6th July 2010
(50D-0904-R)

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(8-365) I've Seen The Light

(8-365) I've Seen The Light

Day 8

Today I attended a company briefing at a local hotel. It included a 3 course lunch and 2 sessions of corporate figures and statistics. All very interesting, but I wanted a photo of me sitting amongst the crowds. In the end I didn't have the nerve to look that daft, so I took this one while I sitting down instead.

5th July 2010
(iPhone)

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(7-365) Feet of a Gardener

(7-365) Feet of a Gardener

Wow, I've actually managed a whole week with my 365. Only another 51 weeks to go 8-)
Today I weeded the front garden and cut the grass. My Brother-in-Law "Dopey" cut the back lawn for me. The least said about that the better!

4th July 2010
(iPhone)

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(6-365) My, What Big Feet You Have!

(6-365) My, What Big Feet You Have!

It was the annual Summer Fair at my Sons school today. They had the usual stalls selling brick-a-brac, cakes, the tombola and various other activities. They also have this interesting mirror in the play ground. It's a shame it was so dirty though.


3rd July 2010
(iPhone)
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(5-365) Grande Cappuccino with Caramel

(5-365) Grande Cappuccino with Caramel

Courtesy of Starbucks

My wife met me from work and took me out for a lunch time coffee. In hindsight it was a mistake to sit inside to drink it as it was very hot in the shopping centre. All too quickly it was time to return to work, but my wife met me after work and we travelled home together.

Did I mention that it's "Dress Down Friday"?

2nd July 2010
(iPhone)

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(4-365) Standing Room Only ... Again

(4-365) Standing Room Only ... Again

Today my morning train was short of a few carriages, which meant that it was rather full and there were no seats. At least we didn't have to play Sardines.


Those hectic evenings and late night organising my Father-in-Laws funeral are catching up with me. I could have done with a little snooze on the train. Hay ho, such is life.

1st July 2010
(iPhone)
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(3-365) Time For Tea

(3-365) Time For Tea

I did have a great idea for today's photo, but unfortunately everyday life got in the way. That idea will have to wait for another day. The idea for this photo came to me while making tea at work this morning, but I felt a bit daft trying to take it with all my colleagues around. In the end I did this at home. As a big tea drinker, I'm sure this will be a recurring theme in my 365.


It's been a busy old day. I managed to catch up with most of my work backlog today. I'm still behind, but not as much as yesterday. A step in the right direction I think.

30th June 2010
(iPhone)

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(2-365) Return To Work

(2-365) Return To Work

My Father-in-Law died last Thursday and things have been completely manic since then and I took some time off work at short notice. I have today returned to work and the work has piled up in my absence 8-(


29th June 2010
(iPhone)

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(1-365) Life Begins at 40

(1-365) Life Begins at 40
This is the start of my journey into my 40th year and it seems like a good time to start my 365. Will I gain enlightenment or will it make me self-obsessed? Only time will tell.


28th June 2010
(iPhone)

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Flickr 365 Group

To celebrate my 40th year, I started a 365 project on Flickr.com

The idea behind the project is to take a self portrait of yourself everyday for a year. The rules are quite simple.

• At least some part of you must be in the photo

• You must take the photo yourself or if this is not practical, you can ask someone else to fire the shutter for you, provided you set up the scene yourself.

It’s quite simple really and I use mine to tell the world what I’ve been upto. I plan to copy the posts here to my blog as well for no better reason then to promote myself and my photography. You never know, it my even encourage me to blog about other stuff more often too 8-)


To view the project so far, click Here

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Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Ada-ware Ate My Hard Drive

I was running some PC admin software on my computer last night and noticed that it seemed very interested in the contents of one particular directory. The directory in question was:

Documents and Setting/user/local files/temp

The program, CC Cleaner, failed to do anything with the directory. I chose to look at it myself in more detail. What I found nearly knocked me of my chair. There were over 65,000 .tmp files in there, totalling just over 17GB of space 8-s

Being .tmp file I knew I could just blow them away, which would free up all that waisted space. However, Windows XP couldn't cope with deleting 65k files in one hit and promptly threw it's legs in the air. I ended up clearing them out in batches on 2000 at a time. Took me ages it did.

But what had caused it? I googled the file name "adannnn.tmp", nnnn was a unique number for each file. It turns out that it was caused by Ada-ware, an anti spyware program I use. Every time MS Outlook (my email program) downloads emails, an Ada-ware plugin scans them & produces lots of .tmp files. It should delete these files when it's done, but quite obviously it isn't!

I tested it, and in a 20 sec period it produced over 1000 of these .tmp files.

The solution was simple. Disable the plugin, which I did and all is now well 8-)

I just hope it stays that way!

Regards
Chris
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Friday, 30 July 2010

Life Goes On

I had great plans for 2010. A new job with new opportunities, I joined my local camera club to improve my skills and the rest was a blank page. After last years downs I was determined to get my life straight and move forward.

However, my Father-in-Laws (Weezy) lung condition worsened as the year progressed. He spent quite a lot of time in hospital. He came home in late May only to return to hospital three days later. A few weeks later he was once again back home, but refused to eat and wouldn't get out of bad.

My elder Brother-in-Law (Dopey) cared for him 24/7, but he still wasn't improving so the Family Doctor was called. He invited the family to his surgery for a chat, where he broke the news that Weezy was getting worse. He gave him just two weeks to live.

Three days later, on 24th June, Weezy passed away in his sleep, with Dopey at his side.

Although we all knew it was coming, it didn't make it any easier.

That's when the real drama began to unfold and since his passing all our lives have been a nightmare. But more of that later.

Regards
Chris
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Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Life Begins At 40 ...

... or so we're told.




Yesterday I turned 40. It's nice to know that I have successfully lasted this long without any major mishaps or serious problems. I do however have the odd ache here & there. I've also noticed that my eyesight is not quite what it once was. But it could be far worse I suppose.

The question is, can I manage to bumble along for another 40 to 60 years? I suppose I'll just have to wait & see. That does rather assume that my eyesight doesn't get too bad in the intervening years. LOL.

Regards
Chris
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John 1941-2010







My Father-in-Law sadly passed away in his sleep on Thursday 24th June 2010.

Rest in peace John.

I took this photo of him back in the summer of 2006. Happier times.

Regards
Chris
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Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Wot, no seat?

With the exception of about four years, I've been comuting to work by train twenty years. Over take time I've seen many changes and who can forget "The Wrong Type of Snow".

Today we have comfy new air conditioned trains, which are generally very reliable. But one thing that always remains constant is the lack of seats.

Since I started my new job in January I've been paying £190 a month to stand on a doorway. However, about a month or so ago things improved and most mornings since I've managed to sit. For some inexplicible reason this week is different and I've had to stand for three of the four journeys. Why? Could it be that all those new MPs at the "West Minster Muppet Show" are trying to make a good impression? If so I expect that they are traveling standard class, not wanting to have their expenses claims embarress them publicly. It didn't to worry the last batch!

If this is the case, hopefully they'll soon get bored of the House of Muppets and stay at home. That why I can rest my legs more often. This does of course asume that the impending public cuts doesn't remove the whole train from the route or worse, kill off my new job.

PS - Just to be clear, I do not work directly for the Govnt any more. I was privatised many years ago. However, my current employer is very heavily involved with the UKs infrustructure. So I still may feel the pain of cuts.

Regards
Chris
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Saturday, 22 May 2010

It's Official - I'm an Idiot!

Last Thursday I attended a company induction course in a rather leafy corner of Surrey. It felt more like a College campus than a large company's headquarters. Generally I had a great day out and made some important new contacts. One very nice chap I met at lunch turned out to be a divisional director and the afternoons keynote speaker. The thing that struck me most was that everyone was very enthusiastic about working for this great corperation. I have to agree too. I've felt the love since day one and I'm extremely please to be working with such enthusiastic people. It's definately starting to rub off on me.

After all the excitment and corperate gifts I was piled high with, I caught the train home. I had to change at Clapham Junction, but there was no direct train home. I decided the best plan was to change at Gatwick Airport. I left the train with my large bag of goodies, decided which platform I needed next and set off. Just as I got onto the down escalator to the next platform, released that my right shoulder was lighter than normal. I'd left my briefcase on the train.

AAAARRRRGGGHHHHH!

I instantly turned and ran back the way I'd come. Very quickly it dawned on me that I was now trying to run up a down escalator and wasn't making a great deal of progress. Panic told me the answer was to run even faster! Not my best logic, but I did eventually make to the top. I arrived back on the other platform just in time to see the tail lights of the train leaving the end of the station!

I reported my loss to the Network Rail staff at Gatwick & Southern Railways Lost Property office. Both were really helpful and I can't fault them for the care they offered.

On Friday afternoon I had a call from a nice lady at Littlehampton staton ticket office. My bag had turned up safely and intact. On Saturday we had a nice family day out at the seaside & retrieved my bag.

Note to self: In future pay more attention when getting off of trains.

Regards
Chris
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Friday, 7 May 2010

And The Winner Is ....

One of the things that has annoyed me enormously over recent years is the way our Govt have completely ignored public opinion and do what they like. Today politicians of all flavours are waking up to the realisation that no one party had overall control of the country. We now have what is called a "Balanced Paraliment".

In my view this has sent them all a very strong message that they will listen to Joe Public. Therefore the winner in the 2010 General Election is ...

The People 8-)

Regards
Chris
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Friday, 23 April 2010

Has The Old Chris Returned?

I've had a really good week for the first time in ages. I was given & completed lots of interresting & challenging tasks. I finally feel that my career is once more moving forward after what I would describe as a 5 year period of downward spirals. This has hardly helped my personal life either.

The question is, has the old Chris remerged from the darkness? The jury is still out on that one, but I would say that it's definately a big step in the right direction!

My phrase of the week has to be,

"Bring it on!"

Regards
Chris
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Sunday, 4 April 2010

Wife for Sale - Slightly Soiled

Everyday I receive a nice little email from that famous font of all knowledge that is Wikipedia. A couple of days ago I received a particularly interesting one and being one for traditional values, I thought I'd give it a try. This is an extract from that very informative email.

Wife selling was a traditional English practice for ending an unsatisfactory marriage. Instead of dealing with an expensive and dragged-out divorce, a husband would take his wife to market and parade her with a halter around her neck, arm, or waist, before publicly auctioning her to the highest bidder. Any children from the marriage might also be sold along with their mother. Prices paid for wives varied considerably, from a high of £100 (plus £25 each for her two children), to a low of a glass of ale, or even free.

The Duke of Chandos bought his second wife at one such sale in Newbury in about 1744. Along with other English customs, wife selling was exported to England's American colonies, where one man sold his wife for "two dollars and half [a] dozen bowls of grogg". Husbands were sometimes sold by their wives in a similar manner, but much less frequently. Wife selling persisted in some form into the early 20th century, as general
attitudes began to shift to the benefit of divorce lawyers.
Strangely, Mrs. TE seems less keen on the whole idea. I can't imagine why?

Regards



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Sunday, 21 March 2010

Busy, Busy, Busy

In the last two weeks I've gone from spending my evenings slumped on the sofa to having a busy social life. Why? My thirteen year old son has fanally managed to get back into a council run club (he was asked to leave last summer) and I have joined the local camera club. On top of all this, I'm on a training course which runs quite late.

As a consequence this week has been manic and I'm already quite exhausted.

Monday nights are the worst. I (usualy) get in at about 5pm from work. Mrs. TE goes to Bingo at 6:15, Junior goes to his club at 6:30 and the camera club is at 7:45pm. The problems really start when it's time to come home. Junior finishes at 8:30, Mrs. TE at 9:30 and me at 10. All I can say is thank goodness for Grand Parents, as Grandma is the only one available to collect Junior.

The rest of the week is less hectic though.

Regards
Chris
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The Biker Rides Again 8-)

Up until about 18 months ago I was a daily biker, riding to work no matter what the weather. I have even riden in the snow, but that was rather fool hardy and not an experience I want to repeat. Two years ago I bought a brand new bike and to keep the warrentee I had to have main dealer services. These were costing me a fortune, so I splashed out on a rail season ticket in stead. As a consequence I didn't ride anywhere near as much. In fact I have only riden 600 miles since last June and not at all since I lost my job last December.

Today however, I dusted my bike down, check everything was working and took her out for a spin..... Twice 8-) The first was a shake down to make sure everything was safe and the second was with Junior on the back. We both loved it.

I was worried I would struggle after such a long break, but it was just like riding a bike. Lol. The one thing that surprised me though was the acceleration. It's so much quicker than my new car. Which isn't really surprising when you consider it's 0 to 60 time is under 4 seconds!

What I'm really looking foward to is next Saturdays ride with Pablos. We're going on a 300 miles round trip to visit his Mum. I can't wait, but will the weather behave itself?

Regards
Chris
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Friday, 19 March 2010

Key To People In My Blog

In my blog I chose not to use peoples real names to protect them from public ridicule and after all, they didn’t have a choice in the matter. Instead I have made up descriptive nick names that I feel accurately describe these people. I have listed them all here in an attempt to add context to my blog.

Mrs. TE = My wife, if you hadn't already guessed.
Junior = My teenage Son.
Pablos = A good friend & biker. Unfortuantly, he's extremely unlucky.
Cookie = She's an old school friend of mine & married to Pablos.
Chunky = My youngest Brother-in-Law. His mates chose the name, not me.
Chunkette = Chunkys' Girlfriend.
Dopey = My oldest Brother-in-Law.
I think that's everyone, but if not I'll add them later.

Regards


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Leftover: Boris to Cool Tube

This is a previously unpublished blog, which got forgotten about. Not wishing to deprive the world of my thoughtful insight I thought I'd post and be damned. LOL.
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BBC NEWS | England | London | 'Cool' underground train unveiled

Regards


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What To Do With The Leftovers?

I have been blogging sporadically for a few years now and I often start writing something, which I never finish. These “Leftovers” start off as good ideas, but invariably turn into either uncontrolled rants or end up as tedious rubbish which would bore any self respecting insomniac. Here are the titles of some of those,

- Boris to Cool Tube
- Key To People In My Blog
- I’ve Rediscovered Radio
- Busy, Busy, Busy
- I’m Artistic Don’t You Know!

The last three are quite resent and started off life on my new Apple iPhone, but the others are much older. I may just publish them and be damned. Lol.

While researching for this article, I noticed a rather worrying statistic. Since I started blogging in May 2006, I have written 183 entries and received only 44 comments. Does that mean that no one reads this waffle? Surely that cannot be correct!

Regards


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Thursday, 18 March 2010

There are days you just want to scream!

And today is one of those very days!

My eldest Brother-in-Law or Dopey as I call him, has a "relationship" with alcohol. Over the last few years this "relationship" has seem off two wives, four children, one grandchild and most recently the job he had since leaving school. It's not a pretty story.

At 11:15pm last night we had a phone call from Dopey's lodger. He had drunken himself into a stuper and was complaining of sever pain just about everywhere. So off we went on the 5 mile journey in the fog to check him out.

When the Paramedic arrived, his story kept changing & the pain moved about somewhat. None of us were convinced that his condition was anything but drink induced. The paramedic took him to the hospital & we returned home, rather tired.

This morning I rose later than normal, feeling not at all fresh. While I munched on my Cornflakes the hospital called to comfirm that Dopey was in fact still alive. As we all expected, his moving pains were all drink related after all. I was halfway to the station before I noticed that in my rush to leave, I had inadvertently put my trainers on instead of my work shoes.





When I did get to the station I was just in time to see my train leaving without me. The next one was, as luck would have it, an "Extra Sardine" service.

Thankfully everyday is not quite that bad. Such is life.

Regards
Chris
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Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Greenpeace Visit Nestle Tower in Croydon

I was walking allow George Street in Croydon this lunchtime and spotted this temporary banner hung over the usual advertising hoarding.
Give me a break


A little further down the road, outside Croydon College I spotted two more.

Give me a break #2

Nestle have their UK Headquarters, Nestle Tower, on the Wellesley Road in Croydon. I thought I'd pop down there to see if anything was going on.

Greenpeace Visit Croydon

Just about the banner are two protesters wearing climbing gear and one more either side of the canopy. In front of the building there are a number of protesters dressed as monkey and of course the Police were also there to keep an eye on things. There was no trouble and everyone seemed to be having a good and friendly time while making their point.

Greenpeace Visit Croydon


Their point, being a valid one (in my opinion at least) is that farmers wanting to make palm oil for Nestle are causing deforestation. This practice is destroying the habits of various species, including Primates.

What give us to right to vandalise vast parts of the world so we can maintain or comfy life style here in the West? You can't say it's not my fault, because we are all guilty of apathy as these things are done in our name!


Food for thought I think.

Read More Here - greenpeace.org.uk

Regards


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Friday, 26 February 2010

Woman Blindy Follows SATNAV

A woman from Berkshire drove her car into a 5' deep ford, because her SATNAV told her too. With all the recent rain we've had it was a recipe for disater. As you have probably allready guessed, it didn't end well. Because the car filled with water none of the cars electrics worked and she became trapped. She came very close to winning a Darwin award. For those who don't know, they are awarded to people who manage to kill themselves because of thier own stupidity. This woman was lucky and was rescued by the Fire Brigade.

Her excuse was that her SATNAV told her it was the thing to do! Mine once told me to drive down a bridleway, by I correctly identified that the SAVNAV was wrong, applied some common sense and took a more sensible route.

She told the paper that next time she'll use a map. What, the authourities have allowed her to keep her driving license?!!!

I just hope that she doesn't use to same insurance company as me. My premiums are bad enough without stupid people making it worse.

Link to Original Article

Regards
Chris
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Monday, 22 February 2010

A Word to the Wise

I have recently rediscovered the joys of reading on the train. Often there are sections of a book that I particularly enjoy and I feel the need to share these with the world. This is the first of many installments.

My current book is "Nostradamous Ate My Hamster" by the quite brillient Robert Rankin.

A Word to the Wise

"This book contains certain passages that some readers might find deeply disturbing. Due to the questionable sanity of the authuor and the convoluted nature of the plot, it is advised that it be read at a single sitting and then hidden away on a high shelf."

Nostradamous Ate My Hamster
by Robert Rankin.


Regards
Chris
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Wednesday, 10 February 2010

I Got On The Radio

I'm an avid listener of LBC, which is a London based talk radio station. Tonight they are having a live debate in front of an audience.

The question they are asking is, "Do we get the politics we deserve?"

I sent this little message in and Pertie Hoskin read it out on air!

"I suspect that we do get the politics we deserve, because only about 45% of the electorate bother to vote in elections. The whole feel of "The Westminster Muppet Show" could be very different if far more people bothered to vote !"

She even laughed at my "Westminster Mupet Show". Fame at last 8-)

Regards
Chris
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Tuesday, 2 February 2010

A Stitch in Time Saves Nine

Where we live there are quite a few elderly neighbours, who we like to look out for. Our two direct neighbours who we keep a particularly close eye on. On the right there's Auntie Dott and on the left Mr Ron (think Captain Scarlet). LOL.


Auntie Dott is in her 80's and is often on the phone with requests for help. Over the years I've helped her out with many plumbing and electrical problems. Mrs P often pops round the chemist to pickup her prescriptions. She is a regular customer and often supplies us with apple pies from the ones off our tree which fall her side of the fence.

Mr Ron is a less common customer of our services, but at 92 he is a very funny and interesting chap. Oh he does love a good chat and once you've been caught, you can't escape for hours. He lives on his own now and I hate to be rude by rushing off as he doesn't see many people. I hope that when I'm his grand old age, people will have time for me.

I had a phone call from Mr Ron the other night. He had a blown nightlight that he couldn't fix and could I help? I duly popped next door to afford a quick fix, but alas, it was not to be. Although he had managed to change the bulb before I arrived but this hadn’t helped at all. The unit itself was at fault and would have to be replaced. A great time to afford an escape, but alas, this was not to be.

He kept me hanging on with several of his life stories, some of which I had heard many times before. There were some new ones though. Apparently he had worked as a manager in a munitions factory during the war. He told me how the factory was built in a sand pit in North Kent. They dug out the sand, built the factory and then replaced the sand over the top to hide it from the air. Very cleaver I thought. He went on to tell me how he was taught to dance by the Ladies on the night shift at the factory. He told me about how he played football for Millwall, Cricket for Surrey and repaired clocks and watches in his spare time. Even today he collects clocks and watches from a local charity shop. Replaces them and then takes them back. In fact, while I was there I watched him, quick as a flash open up a digital watch and change it battery. I have to say that I was mighty impressed at his speed and accuracy considering his advancing years. Even I’d struggle to keep up with his level of speed and skill.

I eventually escaped 2.5 hours after turning up to change a lamp for him. Such is life!


Regards

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Monday, 1 February 2010

Children & Sleep

We have a newly teenage Son who at times can be the archetypal "Kevin". By which I mean he can behave like the Harry Enfield character of the
same name. He can go from ridiculous highs to massive lows in the blinking of an eye. I suppose it hormones.

The other thing I notice is his sleep patterns. Of an evening he is very reluctant to go to bed. In the mornings he won't get out of bed without the aid of high explosives.

But come the weekend it's a completely different story. At the crack of damn his up & about, generally disturbing the peace for all. A "lay in"
I hear you say, there's fat chance of that.

I suspect if I asked my Mum, she'd recognise this trait from my teenage days. It's all part of the joy of being a parent I imagine.

Regards
Chris
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Tuesday, 26 January 2010

London to Ashford in a flash

Today I when from St. Panceras International station in London to Ashford in Kent on the new Javelin high speed train. It took just 38 minutes platform to platform and was very smooth & comfy indeed. That's how modern train travel should be.



It might not sound all that amazing, but believe me it is. If you compare the journey time with the regular service from Ashford to London Victoria, on a good day it saves you about an hour.

From where I live the train into London takes about an hour and it's far nearer than Ashford. Perhaps I should move to Kent!

Regards
Chris
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Friday, 22 January 2010

11 Speed Cameras per mile on A13 in East London?

I found this article at pocketgpsworld.com. Yet more pain for the easily targeted road user.





Drivers of a 7.5-mile stretch of road in east London are bracing themselves for the installation of 84 average speed cameras. However, there is some good news for those in a hurry - when the cameras become operational next summer, the speed limit will be raised from 40mph to 50mph on a section of the route.

Situated between Canning Town and the Goresbrook interchange, the cameras will be spread out along multiple entrance and exit points of the A13.

Average speed cameras appear to be proving more acceptable to drivers than fixed speed cameras, but they still have their detractors. Speed camera zones that are introduced with a higher speed limit should go some way to bring many round.

It will be interesting to discover just how much of the A13 route's speed limit will in fact be increased. It will also be interesting how motorists gauge their average speed over two speed limits. Will there be zones within zones? Will more accidents be caused by speedo gazing?

Original article



Regards
Chris
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Wednesday, 20 January 2010

AAARRGGHH!!!! I Hate Salesmen!!

Last night I had a phone call from a national home improvement company who did some work for us a few years ago. They regularly ring up trying to sell us something or other. Usually I'd just make a polite excuse and hangup. Yesterday however they caught me off guard with an "Existing Customer" discount. I was assured that the man, who was "currently in the area", would not be a salesman. That was my big mistake.

He arrived half an hour late, having driven 60 miles from 2 counties away, just before we were going to sit down for dinner. Mmm, not working round the corner then! I showed him what we wanted (new guttering & facias), so he could workout his price while we ate. I even told him the measurements. He sat there and waited instead.

After dinner he showed me sample, told me how good their finance deal was and even showed me a DVD of how the work is done. All very nice, but HOW MUCH?

"Just need to measure up" said he.

Then he kindly explained that he needed to call his boss to find out what my banding would be. I think he waited on the phone 15 mins. And the price? That'll be £5945. For 15 metres of gutting! You have got to be joking!

That's where the "Existing Customer" discount comes in. I'll give you a discount for this, that and the other. That brings the cost down to £3900. I informed him that that was also far too much and I never sign on the day as I wish to get other quotes first.

"I need to let my boss know that you won't sign and he can put your discount back in the pot for others to use". Whatever, said I. "I'll packup your gear while you do that then!".

His call went along the lines of , "Oh. I see. That's interesting. Really?". I half expected to be asked to speak to his boss. Fortunatly I wasn't. He hung up, scribbled something on his pad and told me that they had had "a poor night" and could offer me a one off, never to be repeated price of £2600. It was a bargain, apparently!

By this time he'd been with us for 2 hours to do something that would have taken a builder about 10 minutes. In fact, after I'd showed him the door, I made a call to a builder I know who, made a few calculations and said it should be under about £2000. That took him about 5 minutes. I should have called him first.

When will I learn not to let these people over my door step?

Regards
Chris
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Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Free music for your iPhone

Although I must admit to not being a big fan of iTunes, I have discovered one redeeming feature. Pod Casts.

For those of you who are not familar with Pod Cast, they are audio download that are provided by various publishers. They can be on virtually any subjects from news to technical talks. But my particular favourites are the music mixes from Internet radio stations. I typed "Trance" into the search bar and WHOOSH!!!!

My iPhone is now full of fresh new tunes, of my favourite flavour, which course is free. 8-)

Regards
Chris
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Friday, 15 January 2010

I kan't speel and neighther kan me iPhone

When blogging from my PC I always use a spell checker and get Mrs P to proof read my posts before inflecting them upon the world. Now I blog with my iPhone, often on the train, I've noticed how bad my spelling really is. My sexy little mobile device makes a good attempt at guess the words, but it just can't correct them all. Such is life I suppose. I'll just have to learn to spell or download a dictionary app.

Regards
Chris
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Is It Art?




These rather curious looking things are the hand basins at work. I was rather taken by their curious design. They do the job for which they were intended perfectly well, but do rather remind me of urinals or animal drinking troughs.

What do you think?

Regards
Chris
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