8 November 2010

Sunday Night TV

It doesn't happen that often in my opinion, but ITV have done themselves proud in the Sunday evening TV stakes recently.  I'm referring to their latest costume drama, Downton Abbey.

1 November 2010

NFL International Series

Wow.  Feeling pretty tired this morning.  It was a bit cold last night so I didn't sleep too well.  On Saturday night we changed the clocks in the UK which causes me problems - bit like jet lag.  But the best part of yesterday was going to Wembley for the NFL International Series between San Francisco 49ers and Denver Broncos.

19 September 2010

The Rocky Horror Show

Had a great night out yesterday in Brighton. The Rocky Horror Show was being put on at the Theatre Royal so my wife and I decided to go along to see it.

I’d originally seen the film many years ago, and had bought both the VHS video, and then the DVD when it became available however I’d never seen the show on the stage. I’d heard stories about the lengths people go to when attending, but having never been there it was going to be a new experience for us.

28 August 2010

Summer Holidays - Part 2

Following on from our initial week in Orne, we had now moved over to Seine-Maritime. As there was only a 2 hour drive between cottages, and you have to be out of one at 10am, and can't get into the next until 4pm, we had to take this extremely slowly. In the end, we don't think this was actually necessary as it didn't look as though the place was occupied before we arrived.

24 August 2010

Summer Holidays - Part 1

At last the summer has arrived and we've just had our summer holiday. It was a long time coming, as we booked the accomodation in January, but due to my wifes' change of role we now have to go during school holidays.

18 August 2010

Walnut Cottage

We've recently been to France on holiday and Walnut Cottage was the first place we stayed.

It's in Normandy, but to the east of our previous location, however it is just as pretty and tranquil as we have experienced in the past.

The cottage is set in the grounds of the former mayor's house and has been excellently restored by the two owners, Paul & Chris. They also run a B&B in the main building, but both parts of the business are separated, including each having it's own driveway.

23 July 2010

Commuting to London

People on footpaths,
Others on cycles,
Commuters with purpose,
Tourists with none.

Newspaper vendors,
Big issue sellers,
Taxi cab drivers,
Out in the sun.

Pairs of young lovers,
Girls in new heels,
Suited and trainers,
Joining the throng.

Nearly all youngsters,
Very few oldies,
None of then seeing,
What's going on.

Ode to Commuting - Paulw743, July 2010

Today I finished the last day of a week's training course in London. Don't want to bore your with the details of the course, but suffice to say it's a geeky IT thing of which only part will be usable in the office.

12 July 2010

World Cup Result

Well, the World Cup is finally over and what a result.

I don't mean the result that game out of the pitch battle in Johannesburg. I mean the result that we got at home.

Between us, we took part in 3 different sweepstakes. One each at our places of work, and another at our local.

Unfortunately I pulled South Africa out of the hat (well box) at work. Trust me to select the first host country not to make it into the last 16.

Lorraine wasn't in the office for her draw so a colleague pulled a name out of the hat for her. She was lucky and Spain was chosen. Considering they were the favourites, we were quite happy.

Then we come to the Windmill. This was a blind sweepstake. All the names were in different envelopes. The idea being that you select one, or more, and then hand them back to Tony, the landlord. Once the quarter finals were out of the way, the envelopes would be opened and we would all find out who we had picked.

After the quarter finals we went down to find out who we had selected. Jokingly we said that 'We'd come to find out when we got kicked out', only to be told 'I think you're still in'. We checked the board, and lo and behold we had pulled Spain out again.

After being abused, we felt extremely happy retuning to the pub after the final and picking up our winnings.

From both the winning sweepstakes, we picked up over £250. For an initial stake of only £12, we did pretty well.

26 June 2010

'Summer' Afternoon

Well here we are at the end of June and it looks like the summer weather might now be with us.

A few things have been going on since I last posted on this blog, but I thought I might update you with this weekend.

Yesterday we had to go out and purchase a few more items for our niece who has just turned 5. Tesco in Hookwood is very good for that sort of thing as it has a large clothes/books/present area's so that's where we headed.

After finishing the weekly shop we then headed home. We've got Sky+HD at home so have had a number of programmes that we need to catch up on due to the World Cup being on. We therefore sat through a few of them before heading out to the Theatre Royal in Brighton to see Spamalot.

In the past we've been caught up in all the traffic heading to the cost, so this time we thought we'd take another route via Ditchling Beacon. The views from the hill are amazing but unfortunately I couldn't see anything as there were bikes on the road so I obviously had to be wary of them as they were oblivious to any cars that were around.

Once we got to the theatre we had a wonderful time. We've seen a lot of musicals, and have seen Jodie Prenger in Oliver so it was good to see her in a different production and out of the West End. She is obviously a fun person and the role of the Lady in the Lake was ideally suited to her.

After the theatre, we once again experenced some of the cyclists around Brighton. I might be rather confused, and therefore apologise, but aren't cyclists covered by the same rules of the road as the rest of us. We saw so many of them riding through red lights, having bad lane discipline, ignoring other road users, and probably the worst offence of all, running across pedestrian crossing when people were walking across.

Something needs to be done abou the rules of the road in this country, and more police need to be on the road to enforce them. Someone will be injured or even worse killed by a cyclist soon and that will be too late.

15 June 2010

Facebook Games

I know I've made comments about the games on Facebook and the fact that you need 3 million neighbours in order to grow a blade of grass, but you've got to have something to do whilst watching the 32 best football teams in the world playing in the World Cup.

Tonight we're watching the 1st rated team (Brazil) playing the 105th rated team (North Korea). Not really holding much hope of this being the best game of the tournament, so I need to find something to do whilst I wait for ITV to put more adverts on as the goals are scored.

Looking at some of the other games I play, I noticed one called Millionaire City. It's only been available for about a month on Facebook but it appealed.

As those close to me know, I'm a bit of meglamaniac at heart. Many years ago when Civilisation came out for the PC, I used to play it for hours. It was a challenge to myself to improve - either to get a bigger result, or to get to the end result quicker.

Millionaire City looks to be a long the same lines. You have to build up your city working on little missions to build up your money so that you can buy bigger and better buildings. It takes a while for the money to roll in, but that's part of life anyway isn't it.

Oh well, 20 minutes in and my rent is about due so time to sign off for the night to get everything sorted out.

2010 World Cup

Well, along with numerous other people in the country, we're watching the 2010 World Cup from South Africa.

A couple of years ago, I visited South Africa with the company - part of a jolly to reward us for our efforts. Whilst there we visited Cape Town and like numerous other travellers we went up Table Mountain. At the time there was a construction project going on below us. This was pointed out as being for the 2010 World Cup. It's now amazing to see the stadium completed and in use.

Last night I watched the Italy v Paraquay game, and to date I can't say I'm that impressed with the show we've been given. So far the only game that's offered any kind of entertainment was Germany v Australia. We all know that the English don't like the Germans (to be honest we don't like anyone), but I hae to say they were very clinical and controlled in their approached. They seemed to be the only team so far that look as though they can win.

It's only the first few games, but some of them have been extremely dire. Take France v Uruaguay. The most exciting thing in that game was the constant drone of those darn horns.

It's funny listening to all the whinging and complaining going on, but what people seem to forget is that it's a common thing in South Africa. Why should the rest of the world dictate would should and shouldn't happen in another sovereign country. It might give the rest of the world nightmares of bees and wasps attaching them, but to the South African fans it's what they do. If the World Cup does come to the UK in the next few years, I'm sure we'll have our own 'noise' to show to everyone.

Now we get to the England v USA game. The biggest issue for me is the complete cock-up by ITV. To win the right to show our first game, and to then show an advert at the same time as England score is just a disaster. It's not the first time it's happened, and unless they sort themselves out, I'm sure it won't be the last.

I'm not sure what the problem is with the English press. Robert Green made a mistake ad the ball went into the net. Once again it's not the first time this has happened, and it won't be the last. We need to put this behind us now and look to the rest of the games. What's the point of dwelling on one incident in the 40th minute and forgetting the rest of the game. A number of excellent saves were made but these have been convieniently forgotten.

Give the guy a break. Accept that Capello will, and should, put Green between the sticks against Algeria. Support the team and accept that if we do win the World Cup it will be amazing. We don't have the players to achieve this.

Just accept what's going on and enjoy the games from the teams that are supposed to be the top 32 around the world.

14 June 2010

New Start

It's been some time since I last blogged, but there's been a lot happening, both in my personal and my business life.

On the business side, there has been a lot of pressure that has been causing me no end of problems. On 7th May, one of my team left the employment of the company. The details aren't important but suffice to say that neither him or us wanted the split to happen.

Since that time, I have been trying to complete lots of the projects that he was involved with along with dealing with my own issues. This has obviously been causing me issues, and leading to lots of sleepless nights.

We therefore needed someone to replace the missing member of staff and I was pleased that the position was offered and accepted by someone Lorraine knew. Today was the day that he joined the company. I'd met the applicant briefly as he had worked with Lorraine in a previous position, and in a way I was happy to be able to assist him in leaving his position.

Now begins the hard work on training him on our systems, and unfortunately having to let the staff members loose on him. Hopefully everything will work out successfully and he will continue with the company.

On Saturday, we made our annual visit to the South of England Show at Ardingly. This is a great place to go and there are numerous trade stands to buy things at. Once again we made our way to the food halls as this is where we find some of the good products that we have used over the last year.

Once again we purchased some sauces and marinades from Jethro's. We've used this for a few years and they really give a great flavour to meat and salads. We also purchased some powders to go with mayonnaise. Doesn't sound like much, but when mixed together, they come up with some really flavoursome mixes. I'm looking forward to making some up and using it with some crips whilst watching the World Cup. The final item we purchased was from a company called Proven Products Ltd. The item they were showing was called the 3 Minute Frame. Basically this is a way for you to make your own canvas prints and to re-use the frames if you tire of your picture. A simple solution, but effective. Now it's just a problem to find the pictures we want to show on canvas.

Once we finished our walks around all the trade stands, and the small animals we then got our lunch and headed over to the main arena. This is where all the bigger shows go on, but the one we were looking forward to was the foxhounds. I realise that there are major feelings about whether fox hunting should be banned or not, and following the unfortunate incident in London, this is likely to come up again for discussion. However the sight and sound of 9 packs of extremely well trained dogs running around the arena under the control of the huntsman was amazing. The other sight was seeing the magnificent and well cared for horses running around. Sometimes you feel happy to live in the country where these pursits go on.

23 May 2010

Summer Weekend

Hasn't the weekend been lovely.

I left work on Friday and my wife and I decided that we would have a 'strategy meeting' at our local public house. It's funny that we've lived in our current house for 10 1/2 years, and it was only last summer that we started visiting our local which is only about 100 yards for the house.

We spent about an hour there putting the world to rights, and then headed home for a quick evening meal before settling in for a meeting with our friend 'Jack Daniels'.

Saturday morning I was woken with a start when someone should out 'plan' and I lent over to turn the alarm clock off. I have no idea why - my alarm clock rings, and I knew I hadn't set it. By the time I realised I was already awake so decided to get up and sort my life out.

We recently got one of these power monitors from our electrical supplier. Whilst doing the housework, I was watching the display. Word of warning - having the washing machine, dishwasher and kettle on at the same time uses a lot of energy.

As I was up so early, all the washing was finished and hanging out by 8am. A visit to the supermarket was then in order. Nothing much was required but we still spent over £100.

We then headed back home and were able to begin relaxing. And that is what we have done all weekend. We have done nothing all weekend other than sit in the garden watching the world go by and enjoying the beautiful weather.

Unfortunately it doesn't look as though this is going to stay with us for the bank holiday - no great surprise there. Oh well, back to work tomorrow. Hopefully things won't be too busy and we'll be able to get on top of our jobs.

15 May 2010

Bouncy Castles

I may have mentioned this on a number of occasions, but our brother-in-law has his own bouncy castle business.

Last year we were called on a lot to assist him with putting the castles out and then collecting them again. For the majority of the year we enjoyed the work. It was a complete change from our day to day work and meant we also got some much needed exercise. The castles range from an 8' x 8' ball pit for the little children up to a 25' high slide.

For some reason, towards the end of last season, the question of how much money we were getting was raised. We're not sure why, but it was felt that we charged too much and we always came as a pair. This put our backs up a bit to be honest. We both felt that we didn't change a lot for our time, and we worked hard when we were called upon. We felt that we never dictated how much we should be paid, and if they only wanted one of us, they should have said.

However, as the season was drawing to a close we didn't pursue it any longer. This year we have realised that working all those weekends caused us a number of issues last year, most noticably, when do we get the washing/shopping and cleaning done. This year we have therefore decided that we are only available one day each weekend.

Today was the first day we'd been used this year. We were supposed to assist last weekend, but the expect rain put paid to that job.

The hirer today was church in Horsham, West Sussex called Kingdom Faith. They have a number of events throughout the year and we are fortunate enough to be able to supply them with castles for these events. Today's task was to provide 6 castles for them, including the big slide.

We arrived on site at 7:30am and started more or less straight away. Working as a team, the three of us unloaded the castles from the two vans, tied up the blowers and the redudant tubes, and then plugged all the electrics into the generator. Once the blowers were working, we were then able to hammer in the pins holding the castles down, and putting out the safety mats. All told this took us 1 1/2 hours. A great effort by all of us.

Packing up the castles took a bit longer as we needed to take all the air out of them before rolling them up again and then delivering everything to the secure lock-up but this only took 3 hours.

We're not needed again this coming weekend, but maybe soon we'll be required.

9 May 2010

Bluebell Railway Southern at War Weekend

We were due to be busy this weekend helping our brother-in-law with his bouncy castle business but due to expected rain we found some time on our hands. Originally we were going to head of to Knowle House in Kent, but after seeing an advert in the local paper we decided to head of to the Bluebell Railway instead.

This weekend was a special event with a Southern at War theme. The highlight for us was to be a fly past of a Dakota at Horsted Keynes during Saturday afternoon. Unfortunately the weather was a bit overcast so this had been cancelled.

This didn't stop our enjoyment of the day which started early from Sheffield Park. After a visit to the engine shed, we then boarded the train.

Many years ago, I was one of the volunteers at the Bluebell Railway and worked on many of the carriages. However in all my years working there, I never once travelled on the Observation Car (see below).

For only a £1 supplement, we were able to view the line as we travelled all the way to Kingscote. Once there, we spent a short while looking at all the attractions before heading back to Horsted Keynes.

A number of different 'situations' had been set up here, and it was great seeing all the people getting dressed up and into the spirit of the occasion. We had the Home Guard doing they bayonet practice on one of the platforms, a gun emplacement configured at the end of another platform, and a number of demonstrations of vehicles, air raid shelters and cooking with minimal ingredients.

After viewing all the 'shows' we then headed back to Sheffield Park to collect the car. All in all it was a thoroughly enjoyable day, and reminded me of why I loved working there, and the thrill the engines gave as they travelled the line. Hopefully my favourite engine (75027) will be overhauled soon as I'll once again be able to travel the line behind it.

In the meantime, I'm looking forward to the Giants in Steam weekend in October when Tornado will be making a visit.

4 May 2010

Social Networking Sites

I'm rather torn about Facebook and the whole idea of social networking sites.

I'm not really sure why anyone wants the world to know what they're up to. So what if one of my friends is going to the pub tonight, or going on holiday to Las Vegas for the weekend.

Years ago, the clue that someone was on holiday was when they forgot to cancel their milk delivery. Now all someone needs to do is trawl through Facebook and other social networking sites and you'll be able to find out who's not at home and therefore leaving their property open to visits by some un-savoury characters.

I've tried Facebook, and I'm guessing it's a way of keeping in touch with lost relativies. Amazingly there are other options available as well for example the telephone or even email, but it seems that unless you notify someone about something via Facebook then it doesn't really matter. I know of people who announce to their 'friends' via Facebook that they are now engaged, rather than telling their own family in person.

The other thing is all the Facebook games. I've tried some of them, and after a while you get to a point where you can't do anything more. For example Social City. A fun little game along the lines of SimCity. Being a meglomanic at heart, I enjoy these sorts of games. But you get to a point where unless you have a number of 'Friends' playing these games and want to be your neighbours, then you're stuck.

I don't want to hassle my friends to find out if they are playing Social Farm City Ville. I don't care what everyone else is doing.

For me, Facebook will be around just because you have to these days, but for talking to my immediate family I'll rely on that proven telephone technology, and for the games I think I will stick to board games. They're more social so sure that makes a mockery of the definition 'Social Networking'.

3 May 2010

Treated like Children

The media need to forget that people do have brains. They don't need to be fed everything as if they were babies. Our knowledge has improved in the 40+ years I've been on this Earth, but I feel that I'm treated worse now that I was in the past.

Thank you to whoever invented the PVR. It's a godsend for commercial stations. Not only can I speed through the commercial breaks, but before each one, we get told what's going to happen in the next segment, and then afterwards we're told what happened before the break.

I don't think we have lost the ability to remember things. Amazingly there are still people talking, writing, eating, walking, driving and loads of other things that we've learnt over the years. To be told what's going to happen in 10 minutes just so that I continue watching a television programme is stupid. Trust me - if you're programme has got my attention, it is probable that I will continue watching. If it's not that good, then I won't be staying whatever you tell me.

2 May 2010

Football in the Media

What is it with the media these days and the way that football is reported.

When I was younger, the sports reporter would come on the screen and say for example, "Match of the Day is on after this programme. If you don't want to know the results then look away". They would then display the results in complete silence. Once the results were removed, they would begin talking.

Now I've noticed some of the reports saying the same thing, "Match of the Day is on after this programme. If you don't want to know the results then look away". They would then immediately tell you the results and give you information about the game. This doesn't provide any sort of service to the general public.

The other issue is that I believe that the Football League is made up of 4 divisions with approximately 92 clubs playing week-in and week-out. This fact seems to be forgotten by the majority of media outlets in the United Kingdom. Every outlet, both television and national newspapers concentrate on the clubs in the Premier League.

I admit that these clubs have large followings and prima donna players who are in the public eye all the time, but sometimes there are other issues affecting the lower league teams that seem to get passed over with a matter-of-fact attitude.

Today for example, the outlets all seemed to concentrate on the battle of the Premiership title. It's a big decision as to who will win the league, but providing you've got enough money you will be able to win. When was the last time someone outside London/Liverpool or Manchester won the title. I can remember when the title was won by Nottingham Forest and Leeds United. That won't happen again for a long time.

Today there was a major game being played at the foot of the Championship for two clubs that shouldn't be there. One unfortunately has had a lot of bad results, and the other was docked 10 points due to in-efficient financial management and overpaid players. Depending on the result, one of the two teams were going to be playing in League Division 1 (the old 3rd division).

The teams in question were Sheffield Wednesday and Crystal Palace. Neither of these clubs should have been in this position, but it didn't rate a lot of exposure on any of the main news channels. OK - it might not have the pull of Chelsea v Manchester United, but there were 37,000 at the game, and numerous fans at home all hanging on this game.

Come on BBC/ITV & Sky. Look outside the Premiership some time. The passion is there in the lower leagues. You just need to get outside your bubbles and have a look for it.

30 April 2010

Bank Holiday Traffic

What is it with drivers in Britain. Come what may, the Friday of a Bank Holiday weekend is always a disaster or the road.

The news reports are all saying how bad the roads are, and the tailbacks going on for miles. Only this evening, I think one of the motorway's had a jam lasting around 50 miles. Why ?

The motorways are there every day of the week. It's not as if they disappear on holiday and leave us to fend for ourselves. Maybe it's just we decide to leave our sensible brains at home and get in the holiday spirit as soon as we get in our car.

All cares and safety concerns go out of the window as we pootle down to Cornwall for the weekend in our sandels, long shorts, bermuda shirt and knotted hankie.

If people just drive sensibly, the problems won't occur. Concentrate on the road ahead then you won't need to press the brakes harder because you missed the car in front slowling as you got another round of cheese and pickle sandwiches out of the picnic hamper.

Please people of Britain. We're only a small country compared with some of our neighbours, but we don't need to have all these problems. If we all drive carefully, we'll all get to our destinations in a reasonable time, and won't have the stresses of being stuck in queues for hours on end. It's better to continue moving, even if a bit slower rather than sitting for two hours in the hot sun with kids screaming 'Are we there yet?' all the time.

It's better to be a minute late in this life, rather than a minute early in the next.

29 April 2010


Wow, what a surprise. My wife is the youngest of 3 sisters. Over the years there have been lots of arguments, and unfortunately because there are three girls, it's often two ganging up on the other.

As mentioned previously, her eldest sister has fallen out big time and decided to send a really hurtful email. That wasn't really an issue as she has treated us badly for a number of years. It was rather funny.

So there we go starting a week with one less sister to think out. Then out of the blue, my wife received an email via friendsreunited. It was from someone asking questions about my wifes father. To be honest, the name of the person wasn't a surprise as we had undertaken a bit of research in the past and were able to confirm with this person, that she and my wife were actually half-sisters.

A lot of conversations have since taken place, and now instead of loosing a sister, my wife has gained a half-sister and two half-neices.

I can see a meeting coming up soon. It would be great to see the new additions to the family. Hope that the problems between my wife and her sister don't cause any issues.

24 April 2010

Working at the Office

I know today was a Saturday, but unfortunately my job sometimes requires working at un-sociable times. The 24th April was one of these.

The work had been planned for a few weeks, the business were aware that it was going to happen, and my team had been information and agreed to the work - well that was the plan.

We are now in a situation where we don't have enough room in our server racks. I know for a fact that in the next few weeks, we will need to install another 8U of kit. The intention therefore was to remove the standard 17" monitors that we are currently using and replace them with super duper flat screen versions. We also need to move a few servers around so that we can free up large chucks of space rather than just the monitor space at the top of the rack.

I appreciate that it was only going to be at the most 3 racks but the overtime was offered to the three team members. Two of them accepted, until Friday and then one pulled out. The excuse being 'I'm studying'. That therefore left myself and my trainee to do the weekend work. Luckily, my wife has a good knowledge of the tasks that I was doing so she kindly agreed to help us.

We therefore came into the office and checked everything before powering down the network. The power down took 30 minutes, so that sounded pretty good for the power up and check out.

After ripping all the old cabling out, we were then able to correctly cable the servers, including power cables and iLO & network cables. Unfortunately this recabling took longer than expected and we weren't ready to check the systems until 2pm. This was the time the business had been told that everything would be sorted.

It took us another 2 1/2 hours to power on and check out the servers. That was a mega task and luckily everything (within reason) worked successfully.

After clearing up, we then headed home. I didn't feel too bad to begin with, but it definately hit me later in the evening. I could hardly walk. I felt like an old man. It was amazing how much pain the days work gave me. The muscles around my thigh bones were giving me an amazing amount of pain.

Hopefully the pain will go soon. I don't want to be like this for to long.

23 April 2010

The Woman in Black

Took one of our regular trips to The Theatre Royal in Brighton tonight.

We've been extremely luck with the shows we have seen down there. It's fairly close to home meaning we can be home within 30 minutes.

Previously we used to visit London to see musicals. In 2009 we had a number of trips and saw Avenue Q, Wicked, Billy Elliott, Priscilla Queen of the Desert and Oliver!. All of them excellent shows, but with the time it takes to get there and back it's a long day.

Since finding The Theatre Royal, we have now expanded our horizons. We've still seen musical theatre, but we've also seen farces, dramas, comedy and even an opera.

Last night we saw The Woman in Black. We weren't quite sure of what to expect, but had seen the signs in London a few years ago when we went up to see Joseph.

The show was excellently performed by the two actors, and both myself and my wife completely forgot the image we were seeing and were taken into the world that was being portrayed. It was great fun watching the reactions of some of the audience reactions. I must admit though that we jumped a few times in this great ghost story.

If you get a chance to see this play, take it with both hands. You won't be dissappointed.

12 April 2010

Weekend Work

Phew - I'm glad to get back to work this morning. It's been a hectic weekend. My mother-in-law asked us to get her a Yankee Candle refil the next time we visited the garden centre.

So stupidly we visited on Saturday morning to purchase the refil for her. It only cost £6 so that wasn't too bad. The worrying thing is that the quick trip cost us £85. Unfortunately we purchased a number of plants so that gave a clue as to what the weekend was going to be like.

We were out Saturday afternoon, so after waking at a sensible time on Sunday we began working on the garden. We returned to the patch that we had worked on in March. This time we put in a number of annuals to give some instant colour. Will mean a bit of dead-heading over the summer, but hopefully this year will be able to benefit from the display when it appears.

We also tided up the remainder of the garden, with additional annuals being put all over the place. We also tided up a couple of large bushes that were hanging over everything else.

To top it all off, we then cleared the patio of all the winter rubbish. Anything green was thrown into some garden containers and any household trash was thrown in black bin backs ready for delivery to the dump. Once everything was cleared up, and the pots were all weeded, it was a case of bringing the garden furniture out of the garage. We've not got the barbeque and garden table and chairs out so I hope we get some good weather soon so that we can benefit from them.

The final task was to take a tip to the local amenity tip. That's a day out in its own right. I think the queue started about 1/2 a mile from the actual tip. Obviously with all the good weather everyone had been out in the garden working, but once we've got to the containers we were in and out in no time.

The only tasks remaining now are to clear the path at the side of the house, and to then cut the grass. We can't do that yet as it's just been treated by GreenThumb so we need to let their treatment settle for a few days.

9 April 2010

Short Week

Well bloggers, what's been going on in my world since I last spoke to you all.

To be honest not a lot really. Tuesday unfortunately was spent in the office. Luckily I was able to get my teeth into some SQL script and batch file writing so it was quite enjoyable, but still work. At the end of the day, the work pays off my bills so it's something I have to put up with.

Wednesday was a day off for a number of reasons. It was my wife's birthday so we were able to spend some time together.

Also, I've been having a bit of a problem with my car. It's a 2.2 litre Diesel Toyota Avensis estate. Should be quite a speedy car, and it used to be. Recently it hasn't been powerful enough to pull the skin of a custard. I've also noticed a few puffs of smoke when I dropped a gear. I theefore had it booked into the garage and my wife followed me there. On arriving, she told me that it was churning out lots of smoke every time I changed gear. So a good thing to get it sorted out.

We then went for our French lessons. I don't think I've mentioned these before, but we have a dream to own our own place in France within the next few years. Now we could buy something now and maybe be sorted but our knowledge of the language is very sketchy. We could ask for a beer in the bar, but asking a builder how long he'll be putting the new roof tiles on and such like isn't really possible.

So two or three years ago we attended an adult learning class at a local school. The teacher we had was very good and we made good progress during the 20 weeks. We then signed up for the 10 week extension, but unfortunately our teacher was unable to continue. We therefore made private contact and began visiting on our own. We have now progressed to a point we the teacher things that we are at AS level, and are better than some of her school aged students. We put that down to a bit of life experience and being able to pick out some words we know and then making sense of the statements we've heard.

We've also both had birthday's recently and not knowing what to get for each other, we decided to treat ourselves to a weather station. Unfortunately FedEx tried to deliver while we were out, so we went to get that on Wednesday as well.

Whilst collecting the weather station, I spoke to the garage who advised me that I had a faulty EGR valve in the Turbo and that they wouldn't have one until the next day. Would it be OK to leave the car with them. Well it wasn't much use to me in the state it was in so I agreed. Now, I'd have to decide what to do on Thursday without a car.

Did I mention my wife works in local schools and it was now school holidays. Excellent, I could borrow her new car. But then we both commented on the muppets at my place of work who will hit your car then deny all knowledge. I therefore decided to work from home on Thursday.

Well Thursday was a different matter. Started off OK. I was working in the dining room and my wife was preparing her material to be able to teach in a couple of weeks time. She then called me out to the office. Here eldest sister (2 years older) had sent the most hateful email I could possibly imagine.

I can't think of why she would bother but then she's not the nicest of people around. She has always had a problem with us (we think probably jelousy) but there was no need to write the email. She has made a number of lies and assumptions, and once we calmed down we found it quite funny that she was so concerned.

The best part of yesterday was the weather. During the morning we'd set up some of the weather station so we were getting temperature reading all day yesterday. The maximum reached was 30.1 degrees. Admittedly the external sensor is in full sun, but it's a pretty true reading. Quite a change from last nights low of 1.3 degrees.

Anyway, back to the lovely weather. As we were both home, we went to collect my car at lunchtime and then decided that it would be a good time to sit in a pub garden and take in a nice cold beer. It was great sitting out there taking the sun in.

After the pub, we both went back to work. Isn't it funny though. With all the possible distractions that are around, I seem to work longer and harder than if I was actually in the office.

Anyway, time to get back to my proper job now so enjoy the weather and don't get to sun-burnt.

5 April 2010

Long weekend Break

Since my last update, I've benefited from a lovely long weekend break. Broke up from the office on Thursday afternoon, and don't need to go back until Tuesday morning, then I've got Wednesday off.

So what's been going on. To be honest I haven't really had a lot going on. I've used the time to recharge my batteries and to attempt to get rid of the cold that I've had for a couple of weeks.

My wife decided to do some baking on Friday so spent 4 hours helping her sort out various items so that she could begin her foray into jam and chutney making. I must admit that her lemon curd was gorgeous so we've already bought some more ingredients.

Saturday was spent making a flying visit to both sets of parents to drop off some of the home made goodies. Whilst there, were here some annoying news about relatives making un-neccessary comments about us. The person in question likes to voice her opinion about us, but not the person causing a problem for the rest of the family. It's surprising how much she is turning into the person causing all the issues.

We spent an hour or so being annoyed but that soon went. For the afternoon we went to see The History Boys at the Brighon Theatre Royal. If you haven't seen it I would truely recommend it for a good show. And the 80's music that appeared throughout was from my favourite era.

Sunday was another quiet day. Lots of places were closed as it was a religous holiday. The day started with a viewing of the F1 Grand Prix. As Saturday qualifying had been affected by the rain, it was hoped the same would happen again. No such luck. Once again it was another procession.

Why can't each track have a spinker system and at random times throughout each race they come on and drench the track. It would add some excitment and make you watch rather than just seeing who leads at the first corner and that's it.

The rest of the day was taken up catching up on recorded TV. Watched Ashes to Ashes and the new Doctor Who. I was actually quite impressed by Matt Smith. It is obviously an extremely difficult role to take on as David Tennant was excellent in the role. Matt seemed to bring a different complexity to the role. No more the 'I know everything' personna but he now seems to have a vulnerbility about him. I must also mention the costume worn by Karen Gillian. If that's what police women wear these days, I'll have to be a naughty boy.

Monday started with another lay in, and then we started sorting ourselves out. My wife likes wandering around car boot sales and as there was a large one locally I dropped her then and then returned home to look at the household budget. April's the time when all the new bills come in so I've added them all together to see whether we are going to be able to cope this year. Things don't look too bad, apart from a slight miscalcuation on my part when moving funds between accounts so I've got a bill coming for being overdrawn - whoops.

Oh well, back to doing nothing today preparing for work again tomorrow morning. Speak to you soon !!

30 March 2010

General Relaxation

Well I haven't posted for a couple of days. Have felt really under the weather and just didn't want to touch a computer.

I might have mentioned that my wife works in primary schools, and unfortunately she seems to get every illness that is going around between the children. Unfortunately she came home with a cold last week and I then went and caught it.

So between Sunday and now, I've had a running nose, cough and sore throat. It's meant a couple of days off work, but when feeling rough you can't enjoy it.

Luckily I'm now feeling better so work is back on tomorrow, and I'm now able to let you know what I've been up to.

Sunday was an early rise as I wanted to see the Australian Grand Prix. Much better race this time, with some overtaking, and a brilliant decision by Jenson Button to go in early for tyres. Definately won him the race. Interesting to see Lewis Hamilton's attitude afterwards. Almost like a spoilt child. He needs to think about growing up a bit. Sometimes the team might not make the correct decision in one drivers eyes but it may be a better decision for the team.

As the weather forcast hadn't been that good for Sunday, we decided to stay in and watch a couple of films. We're members of lovefilm so get films regularly at a reasonable price. This time we saw Capote and Prime. From my point of view, Capote was the better film. Prime was definately a chick flick, so not really my cup of tea. Just need to send the pair of them back and get another couple for the Easter weekend.

Apart from watching the square box in the corner, I haven't done a lot for the past 3 days. The only benefit has been getting the chance to watch 'Everybody Loves Raymond' and 'Frasier'. Normally I'm at work so it's nice to see something different.

If thinks go well tomorrow, I might get the chance to do a bit more family history. It's been so long since we had any major updates with our data that it would be good to get things started again. I've manage to get a bit done lately, but still would like to spend more time on it.

Anyway, it's time to sign off so I'm going to tune my guitar for a lesson tonight.

27 March 2010

Lonely Saturday

Didn't have a good night last night unfortunately. My wife works in primary schools and if there are any colds to be caught, she'll catch one. No sooner did she get over the last one she has caught another one. It wasn't her fault but last night she was blowing her nose a lot and that was waking me up.

What made it worse was that I enjoy Formula 1, and this morning was qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix. So I was awake at 5:30am to see the pre-waffle and then the actual driving. Wasn't the most exciting session around - why not just have 30 minutes qualifying with everyone involved. The authorities should stop making rules so that the big boys have a good time.

I then went shopping to our local Sainsburys store. Didn't need a lot as we're still not eating large meals. I know it's lazy but our fridge is full of ready made salads at the moment. It makes life easier for us, and it also means we are portion controlled. Unfortunately we suffer from portion distortion so even a plate of home prepared salad would end up looking like Mount Everest.

My wife left mid morning to go to a pottery workshop with her mother. This is the third session she's been on, and I think she surprises herself every time. The first time she made a name plate for the house which I still need to hang. The next time was napkin rings, but we forgot to get them back for Christmas (no-one came to visit us so it didn't really matter). Look forward to seeing the results of this session.

I therefore returned to my 1911 Census research. I've now managed to get through all the names, including the 22 I had that were a bit of a query. Most of them look to be mis recorded so I don't think they were ours. The next job will be updating our website as this hasn't happened for a while.

Whilst doing the family history I had the Crystal Palace v Cardiff City game on. I'm a Palace fan and have been for a number of years so was able to see the game of Sky HD. Palace didn't look like a team from the bottom three just a shame that they didn't get a good result. The 10 point penalty was a big blow to the club. I just hope that they manage to survive this season and can start with a clean slate next season.

26 March 2010

Problems at the Office

Oh dear. Today really hasn’t gone well.

It started OK with another drop in weight. Another pound dropped and I still don’t feel like I’m starving myself. I’ve recovered from the illnesses so thought I would want to go back to the grilled protein item and vegetables that I was eating, but they just don’t appeal. Hopefully I will continue losing at a steady rate and will then be able to go through my wardrobe and throw out the items that are too big.

Once I got to the office, I started the day by re-booting three SQL servers as we still haven’t been able to back the systems up using Netbackup. The backups are still hanging even after the reboot so we logged a call with Symantec in an attempt to resolve as soon as possible. They tell us that the reason they aren’t working is that the SQL servers need to have a patch installed. However they didn’t explain why the backups used to work successfully and now they don’t. I guess that’s one of the mysteries of working in IT. Things work today and not tomorrow and vice versa.

We are also trying to rollout Windows 7 to all the machines in the company. We’re concentrating on the Head Office at the moment but unfortunately we have a problem with printing. For some reason none of the main printers in the building work with Windows 7. We’ve checked the manufacturers site and apparently the printers aren’t supported. We’ve not got to look at a different solution as we need to get this sorted.

Had a run in with another department in the company as well today. I’d previously asked the cut off time for a Next Day delivery and was told 1pm. So at 12:25pm today I asked when the kit needed to be with the team if I sent the request now only to be told it had to be with them by 12pm. So started a whole conversation about what was actually required. All I needed was to know when the cut off time was and it lead to all of that. Why can’t we get people in that know what they are doing.

I did have some success though. I returned to the server I was working on yesterday – the one that blue screened 3 times. I decided to try installing a different operating system (Windows 2003 R2) via SmartSmart and surprise, surprise this time it worked successfully. So now I have a server that I can configure on the network to use as a new SQL server. It is going to enable us to have a spare SQL server available to run some DR tests. That’s going to be interesting, but it’s something we need to do, just to make sure we are happy.

25 March 2010

Comment :: Driving Dilema

On my journey home tonight, I was concerned about one of the other vehicles on the motorway.

Initially the Mercedes was in the near side lane. The reason my attention was drawn to it was because the vehicle seem to be moving from side to side and actually crossing or running over the white lines.

I was worried at the time as I was aiming to overtake him. As I drew alongside, I glanced across and couldn't see any reason such as changing a CD or radio channel, lighting a cigarette or even using a hand held mobile phone.

After a while, I noticed the same vehicle pass me in the outside lane. I then saw him move into the middle lane in front of a white van. I could then see the vehicle continue to move from one side of the lane to the other.

My concerns were that the guy was either tired, or even worse drunk.

The question then going through my mind was should I do something. There was definately something wrong, but should I get involved? The only way for me to do anything would be to use my hand held mobile phone to call the police.

Would they be able to do anything, or would they pick on me as the easy target. They would have my mobile number, and would be able to trace me from that.


Following the fun journey in, today started along the same lines as every other day.

I was still looking at the problems with performing SQL backups. Fortunately the system I worked on yesterday was successful last night, so now I need to look at the other machines. Things still don’t seem to be 100% correct, but with a bit more work I’m sure that all will be successful.

Having spent some time working on the backup issue, it was then into a morning of meetings. Nothing major but it has been some time since I have sat down individually with each of my team. Now seemed as good a time as any. All seemed to be OK. Just a couple of issues to bring to their attention which we all chatted about and agreed. They’ll be having full reviews in the next couple of months so we can discuss other things then.

Now that the meetings were over, it was conveniently time for lunch. Other than going for the occasional off-site meeting at lunchtimes, I rarely go out. So today I decided to spend a bit more time on Family History research. I’ve been looking into the KETCHER name for a number of years on and off. More off than on recently to be honest, but since the release of the 1911 UK Census I’ve had a bit of a kick. So far I’m going through all the Ketcher’s that appear and trying to get them to match up with the records we have. Lots of success so far, and very few transcription errors compared with previous information. I’ve still got 100 names to check off, but over the next few lunch times I hope to knock those on the head.

This afternoon was a joy – NOT !!!!! Trying to build a Proliant DL380 G6 and every time I load the OS it gives me a Blue Screen of Death. So far I’ve tried 3 different builds, so now I’m going to try a different OS to see if that resolves the problem. Otherwise I’m not sure what I’m going to do next.

Wasn't the weather different this evening compared to yesterday. Bright sun and sunglasses then 24 hours later rain and thunderstorms. However I had Radio 2 on the car radio for the journey home. It was great just after the 4pm news to hear Livin' la Vida Loca by Ricky Martin. I know it might seem to be a weird song for me to make it known that I like however it brings back great memories of my honeymoon.

I can still remember it being sung at the Clearwater Hilton just before a large thunderstorm came in. We then moved under the bar canopy so that we could continue drinking cocktails.

Comment :: UK Transport

What is it with drivers in the UK. This morning when driving to the office, there was someone in a VW camper van who I don’t think had any clue about lane discipline. At one point he was in the outside lane with no-one inside him at all. I live in the busy South East and having to deal with something like that is ridiculous. In order to get past him I’d have to break the law (which I didn’t).

I then got further up the motorway and there was an accident. It looked like all the parties were OK as they seemed to be walking around, but there was a very long queue of traffic. The Highways Agency had put the matrix signs on, but that didn’t stop people tearing down towards the incident as if it was the end of the world.

And finally, when I came off the motorway it was foggy. And people were driving without lights. What is it with someone them. They seem to have the attitude of I’m all right Jack. I can see OK so it doesn’t matter that someone might not see me. I know that people seem to use the fog lights whenever there is inclement weather, but at least try and use them when there is a fog about.

Unfortunately we seem to now be in a society where having a car is a necessity so these problems are going to happen more and more. Eventually the South East of England will be just one car park.

Public transport hasn’t been the same since Dr Beeching decided to close may rural rail lines, and then the Conservative government decided to sell off what railways were left. If the government want us to leave our cars at home and use buses and trains for more of our trips, make it work for us. I have a 80 mile round trip each day and that takes me two hours. If I want to do that journey by public transport it would be a three hour round trip and then I’ll probably end up standing for most of that. With an election coming up, Public Transport should be one of the priorities, but I’m guessing all the time the car driver is filling the pockets of the treasury that will never happen.

24 March 2010

Backup Issues

Well today was fun – to begin with.

The garden was looking very sorry for itself so at the weekend we went out and did a bit of clearing up. It looked much better after all our hard work pruning and generally clearing up the mess. We also moved the bird table we have and put some new plants in. Yesterday morning I woke early and took a look outside. One of the plants was looking a bit 'unhappy'. When I got home from work, I watered it a bit in the hope that it would feel better. Will have to keep an eye on it for now.

Once getting to the office my first task was to re-boot the server I mentioned yesterday – the one that had lost connectivity to the tape library. Had to be done out-of-hours as it is a global system. Luckily all went OK and the backups ran successfully afterwards so that was a good job jobbed.

Then the problems started. I’ve been away from the office a while so haven’t been checking on everything. We were having problems with backing up our live SQL servers. Tried a few things and then thought I’d upgrade to the latest Netbackup Maintenance Pack. That didn’t resolve the issue so I investigated a bit further. I then found that all four drives in the library required cleaning. Oh what joy. Netbackup started playing up big time – and it didn’t matter that Windows could see the tape library – Netbackup refused to.

After spending about 6 hours trying different things, I found a web site that offered a number of suggestions, one being that a door was open which on investigation was found to be the case. I managed to resolve that issue, and to get a cleaning tape recognized which allowed me to clean the drives. Surprise, surprise cleaning the tapes allowed one of the backup jobs to run successfully. Will have to look further into that but need to bear the doors in mind for next time.

Having resolved the problems with the backups, I then downloaded a copy of the Microsoft Office 2007 Office Ribbon. I know it’s really bad but I had a good time doing some of the training on Word and Excel. In the quick 15 minutes that I spent on it (didn’t have a lunch break so thought I should have some me time) I learnt quite a few things I didn’t know.

Anyway, time to relax so enjoy yourselves and I'll write again soon.

Network Issues

Well the first day in the blogging world is over. What have I learnt ?

Firstly, that even though the experiences of a recent bout of Norovirus wasn’t very pleasant, it has helped me change my thought patterns relating to food. Before I was more than happy to eat just because food was there. On more than one occasion I have searched through the cupboards trying to find something to eat. I would often hide any wrappings so that others didn’t know that I’ve just eaten. In the week that I was unwell, I lost 6lb. That was a great boost as I’d been hovering around the same weight for months. Since clearing the illness, I’ve been eating more fruit and salad and have been slowly losing more. Another 1lb dropped yesterday, so more than pleased.

One of our sister sites has numerous back doors into their network. They were a company of about 20 people before being taken over. We have just performed an audit of the infrastructure and have found 4 routes into the network – two of them via wireless routers so not very secure. Lot of work involved, but we will resolve all the issues over there.

I’ve also found out that one of my team wasn’t following the morning checks routine correctly and have discovered that no backups have worked on two systems since Christmas. Examining the logs, the server has lost connectivity to the tape drive. Simple thing to find out, but obviously something that wasn’t checked.

Apart from these findings, I had an almost pleasant enough day. Cleared up lots of loose ends that have been left due to other commitments. Completed the building of a Citrix Presentation Server 4.5 machine. Added a number of new machines to the backup schedule.

23 March 2010

Welcome to my Blog

Where do I start ? Why am I doing this ?

The second question is definitely easier to answer so let’s start there, and that will naturally resolve the first.

I recently watched Julie & Julia and thought what a fun way of doing things. Julie Powell had a great idea and followed it through.

So why did that lead me to start blogging. I’m guessing I’m seeing it as a release for all the stress, strain and hassle I experience in my working life. I’m employed by an UK based IT sales company as their network manager. My job involves my staff and I supporting the expanding workforce to ensure that the network and telephone systems all work so that they can do their job. Doesn’t sound too difficult, but as I say, it’s a Sales company and unfortunately there is a lot of pressure on the sales people to make money, and therefore everything needs to be done yesterday. They seem to forget that other members of staff exist and also need assistance.

When I leave the office therefore, I look for different ways of forgetting the problems for just a few hours, until it all starts again. I do a few things in the evening, but sometimes you just need a break from the norm.

I think at the moment writing a blog might be a way for me to vent any of the frustrations and rejoice in any of the successes that occur.