Friday, December 31, 2004

End of the Year

New Year's Eve dawns, grey and dark.

The day involved a brief trip to Worthing to shuffle round the shops with the Zombies in and an effort to purchase some new footwear for the Silver Vixen and the Gorse Fox. Trip was quite successful, both finding what was wanted at first shop.

Cousteau-cub was still coordinating messages between Thailand and the rest of the world, but I think she arrived at the point of burn-out mid-afternoon. She decided she was to go home to Brighton for the New Year celebrations... and so during the early evening we transported her, her clothes, he Christmas gifts, and of course several tones of Red Cross parcels from the Silver Vixen, back to Brighton.

The year went out in style with a glorious sunset across to the Isle of Wight Posted by Hello

The final moments of sunlight for 2004. The Gorse Fox had taken a walk along the greensward at West Kingston. As the sun dipped its head below the horizon for the last time in 2004, one had to wonder at the breathtaking beauty of nature, and the awesome power it has shown this week in SE Asia. Posted by Hello

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Throughout Thursday

Very grey and overcast this morning. News is still pouring in regarding the aftermath of the SE Asian Tsunami. Cousteau-cub is still coordinating communications amongst her diving friends to ensure everyone is accounted for, and informed.

Went to the shops with SV and shuffled round behind the zombies for a while, but we were lucky and got what was needed relatively quickly. I wonder if Sainsbury is kept as cold as it is in order to better preserve the customers thay have freshly dug-up to block their aisles?

Very quiet day over all.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

World Wide Wednesday

Quiet day.

Urban-cub and Sir Lancinglot left mid-morning. Cousteau-cub was still trying to coordinate information regarding friends from Ki Phi Phi, in the wake of the disaster.

We didn't see much of C-c as her efforts continued throughout the day and into the evening. However, she did have some success in getting information to the family of one chap who had been badly injured. They had not heard anything, and feared the worst... do the call from C-c came as a great relief.

The Silver Vixen and Gorse Fox were weary from last night's late bedtime. Not something either are good at handling. GF managed to go to Stubb's Copse for some firewood to tide us over until a new load is delivered.

We heard from Bkhm. Beck had had her operation to remove the ganglion on her wrist. Was feeling a bit sore, and the nerves and muscles were twitching, but she was ok.

A Trivial Moment Posted by Hello

The Unusual Suspects Posted by Hello

Urban-cub and Cousteau-cub, together in stitches Posted by Hello

C-c's revenge on Sir Lancinglot Posted by Hello

Silly games involving diving apparatus and alcohol! Posted by Hello

Cousteau-cub and the Silver Vixen at family post-Christmas lunch Posted by Hello

Post-Christmas lunch - Urban-cub and Sir Lancinglot Posted by Hello

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Tuesday after Christmas

Strange night. A storm rattled through in the early hours, with rain clattering against the house and very strong winds attacking in gusts across from the beach. This lasted for an hour or more, then disappeared leaving a still, bright, clear and very cold early morning.

Urban-cub and Sir Lancinglot are due to visit today. Let's hope that U-c's back is improving enough for her to enjoy herself.

U-c and S-L turned up late morning. We had super day, starting with th eopening (belatedly) of Christmas presents. We all did very well, and everyone seemed very pleased with their gifts.

After a delicious lunch we settled down to a Pink Panther DVD. C-c and Sir Lancinglot got mixed up with some alcohol and diving apparatus... and the evening was spent with Trivial Pursuit (convincingly won by the Silver Vixen and U-c) and the board game based on Who Wants to be a Millionaire.

C-c finally gave in and went to bed, and I think we all retired soon after midnight.

Monday, December 27, 2004

The Day after

Cousteau-cub was on the phone at 8. She had heard from her friends in Thailand overnight. Most survived, though several acquaintances didn't make it. They reported scenes of utter devastation with many bodies littering the Island.

We went along to Brighton to collect C-c and bring her back here. She was very tired from her night shift and the worry of the last 36 hours. Now back here, she has crashed out, and I doubt we will see her again until the evening.

Urban-cub had asked to be picked up also, but had changed her mind this morning. She is still suffering with her back trouble, and has decided to spend a quiet day at home lying on the bed.

Overall it turned out to be a quite day. C-c tried to sleep, but only had moderate success. S-V and the Gorse Fox pottered around doing bits and pieces, reading some of the books received at Christmas and generally having a quiet day.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Reality Check

Cousteau-cub woke us this morning with a phone call. She was very upset. A major earthquake shook Sout-East Asia, and tsunamis have sent walls of water crashing into southern Thailand and its Islands. News is still sparse, but her Phi Phi Island appears to have been hit hard, and as yet there is little news. Certainly there has been much devastation, many injured, some swept-away, and some fatalities.

As news continues to come in, it is evident that this is a major disaster, and that phi Phi must have been affected. Still no solid news from there, however.

Urban-cub phoned. She had only just woken up. She was suffering still with her back pain. It seems to be giving her additional symptoms, too, so will need to be monitored carefully.

Well it has been a sobering day. The news from SE Asia is dreadful. Cousteau-cub still hasn't had any firm news and is obviously very worried still.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

A Partridge in a Pear Tree

Happy Christmas everybody.

This Holy morn has arrived and it is important to remember the reason we have this holiday. It is a time of peace, and of harmony; a time of Hope and of generosity; a time to remember the birth of a child who was to change history, and save mankind. At a time when the world seems to be torn apart by religious differences, it is a time to remember that He taught us love and tolerance, and to love our enemies. (Even Project Office Trolls).

It is glorious morning, with pink fluffy clouds carefully strewn across a pale blue sky. The sun is climbing in east, and shining its spotlight across the Gorse.

Spoke to Cousteau-cub, first thing, before she went to bed for the day. At the end of her long night shift she was settling down to a glass of red wine and a Terry's Chocolate Orange.

Today we are visiting D'ankle and family up in Bkhm. We had a lovely drive up, interrupted by a further call from Cousteau-cub to serenade us with carols for the journey. Urban-cub also called to wish us a Happy Christmas. She was still finding things difficult because of her back pain, but was determined to make the most of the day.

Auntie P at Bkhm, watched over by the Silver Vixen Posted by Hello

Action man, another mission complete Posted by Hello

At Bkhm all was well. Auntie P was there for the day and seemed to cope with the chaos really well, though she did have a couple of moments where she got confused. As usual Denise put on a super spread for lunch, which we all tucked into with relish. The girls were on good form and overall it was a lovely day.

Beck and The Silver Vixen (making faces) over the Christmas lunch Posted by Hello

The Barrel and Em Posted by Hello

Denise and Auntie P. tucking in to Christmas dinner Posted by Hello

The Gorse Fox finds something amusing! Posted by Hello

Denise after Christmas lunch Posted by Hello

Em... it's all too much Posted by Hello

We drove home through the early evening and then, sitting down with a glass of wine, we opened our own presents for a lovely end to a special day.

Friday, December 24, 2004

Eve of Christmas

Tis the day before Christmas,
and all through the house,
the modem is humming,
the keyboard and mouse...

Yes, most things are now done. Just the presents to wrap, but should get that done in a few hours today.

Cousteau-cub phoned and was quite chirpy, looking forward to the Christmas and New Year holiday. She asked about going to see Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, so I spent some time looking for options, but will need to discuss with her next time we speak.

Silver Vixen spent much of the day with cleaning and tidying, whilst the Gorse Fox made a start on the wrapping. Overall it was a peaceful and pleasant day.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Preparing for a seige

The weather forecast warns us of a cold snap, and possible snow over the nex few days. Today, however, it is still mild. Last major task in preparation for the festivities is to denude the shelves of the local Tesco of every edible item. This, I suspect, we will do today.

Have just spent an hour on the lapdog finishing off the contract for Esteemed Client, subsequent to the Project Prevention Board. I reall think these trolls a stupid. The phrasing that Pricing put in, was modified by C&N, then removed by commercial. The commercial reviewers have now increased the risk of the project. This process is BROKEN, these trolls are so wrapped up in their power trip that they cannot see the wood for the trees.

The raid on Tesco started. The Gorse Fox guided the trolley and followed the list, whilst teh Silver Vixen formed a one-person raiding party, darting hither and thither, passing unseen through the throng to collect various items. She was the hunter, I the gatherer. As a technique it worked well.
It becomes clear, after a trip like that, that there are a large number of people who have evidently survived total lobotomies, and are now left to wander the aisles of large stores. They have no spatial awareness, no consideration for other shoppers, and suffer from terminal stupidity.

After the food trip, we embarked on the drinks trip, visiting Sainsbury in order to "spend" the reward points gathered throughout the year. Agin this was fairly painless and quick. The ancient shoppers shuffled round looking for ways in which they could completely block aisles or gain additional points by working in a pack to gridlock a section of the store. We managed, however, to escape and take the long route round to avoid them. We were soon finished, and out whilst the pre-corpses still wandered aimlessly around in the store.

We dropped around to see Blodwyn and the Bishop, and to drop off their Christmas presents. The Bishop was in good form (when he was allowed to get a word in edge-ways). It's always so nice to see them... but the only topic of conversation is the grandchildren. You could see that the Bishop was beginning to get narked by Blodwyn's insistence on talking over everyone. She reminds me so much of Urban-cub!

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Rainy days

It is pouring. It's dark, it's grey, but at least it's fairly mild.

Urban-cub is having problems with her back, so the Gorse Fox has agreed to collect her from work and take her to the Chiropractor in Littlehampton, and then take her back to work. She's working hard in the day and during the evenings at present, so let's hope this manipulation will sort her out.

I need to go and get my Christmas present for the Silver Vixen after that. Currently I have several ideas, but none of them are a total certainty at this point.

The Gorse Fox has received a mailshot (as I suspect did most people on the Gorse) inviting people to step forward as candidates for the Parish Council. The Gorse Fox is tempted. It would be nice to give something back to the community. I guess the question is whether I will have sufficient time. I have tried to phone the contact numbers but both remain unanswered at this time... will try again later.

Took Urban-cub to the bone-cracker in Littlehampton. She diagnosed her problem and gave her some treatment, but she will need to take care and return for a further session early in the new year.

Cousteau-cub phoned and confirmed she had cancelled her trip and was trying to pluck up the energy to go down into Brighton for some last minute shopping. She sounded pretty perky, all things considered. She phoned again later to say that after a couple of beers the whole shopping experience becomes more bearable!

Much of the rest of the day the Gorse Fox spent digging out the right Christmas gifts for the Silver Vixen. Shuttling from shop to shop; following this theme or that; discounting some ideas, chasing others then dismissing them; browsing shops that he would never normally approach... and eventually gaining the inspiration required. The shopping was complete.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004


Vacation starts here. We're off to Bedrock today to see Betty & Barney Rubble. Started the day by printing off some photos that Betty had expressed interest in when she last visited.

Got a call from Cousteau-cub. She has had some bad news from her friends in Thailand and is quite upset. She is considering changing her plans, and cancelling her planned trip in January. I'm sure the sun and the diving would do her good, but maybe that's not the optimum location. Maybe she should try Sharm el Sheikh or the Carribean?

We left the Gorse in bright sunshine and headed west to bedrock, only to see the sun consumed by ever thickening cloud. In the ned we were driving through thick mist by the time we went across the Downs.

Had a lovely day. We went off to The Hatch for lunch. needless to say it was very busy with Christmas lunches, but we managed to get a table and had a leisurely and pleasant lunch. We caught up on all of the news, including the new grandson. We also discussed our joint proposed trip Feb/Mar. This had been an idea that we would go away for a long weekend for our birthdays, and the original suggestion was Barcelona. On reflection Barney thought that it was still likely to be a little bleak in late Feb. We agreed to defer that trip until later in the year, and suggested Granada or Seville as an alternative.

Very foggy drive home in the evening, but we stuck to the main routes and arrived home without incident.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Wind Down

Last working day before the Xmas break.

Have to go to Guildford today for a meeting. Might drop a grenade on the Project Prevention Office too.
Pleasant drive, though quite chilly with temperature fluctuating between +3.5 and -1 over the course of the journey. Managed to park on-site, which was a bonus. Only the Government could have a huge facility supporting over 500 staff, with so little parking... and not on any public transport system.

Meetings went well, and finally got access to workflow system for project prevention. Chased through all I could, and discussed several points with Shadow. Now just need to wait for final review from Lenny and QA. Will have to hand that over to Miss Ellie and the Joule to handle... cos' I'm about done for the year.

Well QA finally came through mid evening. I managed to get thet turned round, now it's over to Miss Ellie & Joule.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Decorative Stress

Quiet start to the day. Cousteau-cub stayed over and was up early to watch the football highlights from yesterday. We spent some quality time with the papers.

By late morning we gathered ourselves for the putting up of the decorations. Now, I should explain, we all like to see a nicely decorated scene. However, we all hate the process of pputting the decorations up, and find it quite stressful. Silly isn't it! The Silver Vixen likes doing the tree... but in general this is not an event that makes it high on our list of family pleasures.

Cousteau-cub in the middle of a decorative idea!!! Posted by Hello

Once the decorations were up Sv settled down with some sewing while Cousteu-cub and the Gorse fox watched the football on TV. Unfortunately the forces of darkness prevailed and Portsmouth, despite a plucky fight, lost 0-1 to Arsenal.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Spurred on

Exciting day today. Cousteau-cub has bought tickets for us to go up to White Hart Lane and see Spurs play Southampton. This will be my first trip to the Lane since about 1971 or 72. Let's hope it is a good game with a satisfactory result.

The tickets Cousteau-cub bought for the Spurs match Posted by Hello

We set off late morning and had a comortable journey up to town, then took the tube across to Seven Sisters. We thought that we'd grab a bite to eat before the game, so as we strolled towards the ground looked out for a pleasant eating establishment in which to stop. Unfortunately most of them were completely empty... which was worrying considering 36000 people were strolling by. In the end, I am embarrassed to say, we stopped at McDonald's.

From there we headed onwards to the ground and found our way to our seats about 20 minutes before kick-off. The seats were excellent. We were so close to the pitch that you slip things into the players pockets as they ran past.

The players warming up before the match Posted by Hello

The game went well and Spurs were 3-0 up by half time. As shown by the big screen

Half-time score board Posted by Hello

A Gorse Fox - Cousteau-cub moment Posted by Hello

The second half was just as exciting. The Saints scored quickly after the restart, but Defoe and Keane scored agian to put the game beyond doubt. Finishing at 5-1, it proved to be the perfect game to watch after so many years away from the ground.

The score board at the end, as the big screen shows the highlights. Posted by Hello

As we left Cousteau-cub discovered she had lost her purse. This was took the shine off the day, somewhat. She had a Debit card, a few pounds, and her train ticket in the purse. We reported it missing and immediately put a stop on her cards. We managed to get a replacement train ticket without extra charge. On analysis we assume this happened when we were in McDonald's and that she had her pocket picked.

We got home just before 9, and overall had a splendid day out.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Project Prevention Office Prevails

Pearls of rain were rolling down the windows first thing. The wind was picking up and it promises to be an "active day" on the weather front.

Cousteau-cub started the day with a rain soaked walk across Brighton to find that she had arrived at her destination 45 mins before it opened. Then just missed her train to bring her here.

Silver Vixen is driving back from Bkhm through apalling conditions. So much spray is being thrown up that it is like driving through low cloud.

The wind has picked up and is howling round, driving the rain almost horizontally across the "Gorse". The gutters can't cope with the volume of water. The cover has blown off the garden furniture - but the Gorse Fox is not going to re-cover it until the weather calms down a bit. I must say, that it's quite exhilarating... but then I am cocooned in the warmth and comfort of my study.

Cousteau-cub arrived and spent the first hour drying off and warming up. Then went to bed (she had been on night duty).
The Silver Vixen got home safely, though had driven past several fallen trees on the way home.

At work the project-trolls have been up to absolutely nothing and it looks as if the contract won't get into today's review process. I am incandescent at the moment, and there is nobody to contact in order to move things forward.

Having spent all afternoon chasing and cajoling I must conclude that They've won. I give in. The Project Prevention Office and their trolls have prevailed.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Project Office Trolls foil progress

The Silver Fox is visiting Auntie P. at Jimi's place. Hope she has a good journey - roads will (no doubt) be little better than yesterday.

I want to kick the cat. (For animal lovers, I should point out that we don't have a cat, and no animals will be harmed in this virtual expression of frustration). The project-trolls have decided unilaterally to change the contract review process - and haven't told anyone. So contract will miss today's review because they are refusing to review it as it did not come through their new process. If we miss cut-off with the client we will miss out on revenue at the beginning of the new year.

Continued to fight project trolls all day. It is like a spiritual blackhole - it sucks all your enthusiasm and creativity and channels it into anodyne processes that are designed to protect us from making money. Like most project prevention processes I have encountered they seem to be designed by people who never have to deliver anything of intrinsic value or quality... so they provide unworkable processes, templates that are badly formed, poor quality, and break all the style rules. Where's that virtual cat - it needs another virtual kicking!!!

Silver Vixen phoned. She had been delayed, but got to Bkhm 30 mins late. She had arranged to pick up the Barrel, and would phone while en route. Needless to say the Barrel had forgotten to switch on her phone, so SV could not warn her she was running late. When she got there, the Barrel wasn't around. So she called, and circled and returned... eventually the Barrel rolls out of a doorway. No apology, no acknowledgment. Just the the usual self-serving, Barrel-centric view of the world. SV was very very cross.
Her visit to Auntie P went well, and she was most impressed with Jimi's place and the care that the staff gave to the residents. It sounds like a very good move.

Spent a quiet evening reading The DaVinci Code. Must say that I'm thoroughly enjoying it. Strange that I have recently heard several people say that they couldn't finish it as it kept jumping around... I haven't found that that to be a problem at all. It seems typical that several threads are being woven together in parallel - that's what novels do!

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Wary Wednesday

Early start today, heading out at about 5:45. All was quiet, and it had obviously rained during the night. The roads were filthy and washer/wipers had to work hard to maintain visibility. The radio reported that traditionally it was the day on which the highest number of accidents occur... so I was ultra-wary.
Didn't see any accidents on the way up to Worcester but seemed to pass a lot of broken down vehicles blocking carriageways here and there.

Had a successful set of meetings in W. Esteeemed cleint signed off the last contract.

Silver Vixen had enjoyed some mother-daughter time with Urban-cub. What could have been a fairly tense day for her turned out to be a temporary reprieve. Let's hope background work makes the difference.

Auntie P was moved to Jimi's place. The move seemed to go well, and the staff there are already coming across as more caring and able than those at the holiday camp. The Silver Vixen is going up to visit tomorrow.

Also heard that Betty & Barneyt Rubble have achieved grand-parenthood again. Apparently the new grandson weighed in at 10lbs after a long labour. Mother, father and baby all doing well!

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

To be Measured

Today is the annual appraisal. Need to head off to the dockyards and meet Pam Ayres. Also need to get contract into the review cycle.

Got contract into review cycle... but still several obstacles to clear. Esteemed Client called while I was en route to dockyard. We discussed several queries, but she was happy with the answers and therefore the contract.

Pleasant trip to the dockyards. Had a productive time with Pam Ayres. (Though didn't conduct the review in rhyming couplets). Looks like everyrone is still pleased with me, which is good!

Afternoon was spent as a desk-troll. Reels and reels of red tape cascaded from the screen. Loads of admin, chasing charge codes, chasing details on new processes, working contract payment profiles. Spit, spit, spit.

Amazon delivered Christmas shopping during the afternoon. Excellent service. Only a few bits left to sort out now.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Light touchpaper

Early start to a potentially busy week. Last appraisal just written, contract refinements to continue, trip to London.

The Silver Vixen had to go to worthing first thing. Fortunately, she was early enough to miss the gathering hordes of Christmas locusts, and was back home within about 90 minutes.

Headed off to London. Ticket office closed, but having hung around in the waiting area for a while, I realised the other chap in there was a railway guard, selling tickets! Doh!
Train was late, but had made up most of the time when it arrived at Victoria. Pleasant swift march through the back streets took me to my destination in time for the meeting. This was fruitful, though laboured. At least I had a chance to talk to the elusive Shadow and set him up to review contract tomorrow. Esteemed client wants me to go to Worcester on Wednesday... have several things to re-arrange if that is to be accommodated.

Advantage of the train journeys was the opportunity to get stuck into my current book. "Angels and Demons" by Dan Brown is just superb. A gripping read with the sort of coalescence of ideas between religion, science, history and art that really tickles the imagination. Great book. I was so hooked that even when I got home, I stuck with it until finished.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Halftone - Grey

Grey and overcast start to the day. A slight breeze is rustling the leaves. All is quiet on the Gorse.

A day of little note. Spent much of it doing the Christmas Shopping. What a bout the hustle, and bustle? What about the parking? What about the seething hordes of people overdosed on stupid pills? No problem! I was calm, I was cool, I was polite at all times. I browsed and deliberated, and went from store to store un-hassled. Oh yes, and did I mention that I didn't leave my study. I managed it all on the Internet.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Frost on Saturday

Greeted by a hard frost this morning. Not a cloud impinges on the clear winter's sky. The tramlines in the lawn are picked out by the frost. All is still, as if holding its breath in shock as the sun climbs arthritically into the heavens.

Spent a pleasant hour or so in the morning shifting and stacking a new batch of logs for the fire. The load didn't seem quite as large as last time, but should keep us going for another month.

The renewal notice for the Silver Vixen's car insurance came through. Decided to shop around. Again managed to halve the monthly payments by going to Direct Line. Makes you wonder how NU manage to stay in business.

After lunch the Silver Vixen and Gorse Fox donned their walking boots and headed inland. The objective of the walk was to find the best route towards Highdown, enabling the safe crossing of the railway.

The Old Cottage, at East Kinsgton. It looks as if it sunk into the ground. The thatch almost reaches the grass in places. Such a pretty cottage, but it looks as if it is probably quite dark inside (though very large). Posted by Hello

It turned out to be and easy route, crossing at Ferring. Ferring seems like a depressing place. It always seems grey and dark. I think I read that it has the highest proportion of retired inhabitants of any village in the country. Well I guess they were all stuck on their stairlifts today, because the place was ghost town.

East Kingston House. A view of the rear of the beautiful olde manor house that used to stand at the heart of the closed parish of Kingston. Posted by Hello

I guess we were out for about an hour and a quarter - very pleasant, very quiet. I would think, however, that it could be very muddy walk when wet.

Cousteau-cub phoned during the evening. She's looking forward to Sundays clkash between Arsenal & Chelsea, and our outing to White Hart Lane next Saturday. Apparently she has been so enthused about Sunday's game, that her house mates have decided to go and watch it with her down at the pub.