Saturday, December 31, 2011

Class Dismissed

The last day of 2011 has crept upon us and GF looks back at what was hoped, what was planned, and what actually happened. He doesn’t do this with regret or with satisfaction – merely as a mental bookmark and opportunity to look forward optimistically to 2012.

  • We hoped to move house – but so far this has not been possible.
  • We hoped to go to Thailand to see Cousteau-cub – again this was not affordable in the circumstances
  • We hoped that SV’s health would improve – Disappointingly this has not happened

But, we still have each other, we stayed in touch with our friends, we see that both of the cubs have partners that care for them and are there when needed and must conclude that we are blessed.

Assessment – a good year.

To finish off the year we popped along to the cinema to watch one of the recent moving pictures extolling the wisdom and prowess of Mr Sherlock Holmes in his battle with Professor Moriarty.

This was not high art. It will not be held as beacon to the future as an example of the finest aspects of subtle camera work or erudite dialogue. It was, however, great fun and an excellent way to spend a grey and damp December afternoon.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Reserve tank

2011 is now running on the reserve tank – the bright lights of the 2012 service station beckon in the distance and the Gorse Fox has spent the day nursing the working year towards its conclusion. It was soon clear that most of Starfleet were still on vacation as emails, calls, and messages were sparse. This allowed GF to complete several administrative chores in time for the new start next week.

It is clear that Starfleet’s travel procurement organisation has been refreshing their portfolio. The hotels that GF has been using have disappeared from the “approved list”. So all the loyalty point that have been earned have come to an end. However, looking at thing positively, there are a couple of nice camp sites we can use! (It’s evident that, again, we are being driven by accountants who rarely have to stray from home and “enjoy” life away from home).

GF had to organise the delivery of a parcel to Cousteau-cub… and having finally got it all packed up and ready he spent time on the DHL web site trying to navigate the forms to get it sent. All very fine, except when he pressed the buttons it turned out they don’t deliver to Koh Lanta. GF started again and booked with UPS.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Sales

The day started with a substantial breakfast at the hotel before we met up with Betty and Barney Rubble by the entrance to Westfield Shopping Mall. The sales were on but that was not our attraction, rather it was just an opportunity to wander around and look what was going on. A stop for coffee by the ice rink gave us time to watch the world go by.

We said our farewells and whilst Betty and Barney headed to the National Gallery, we returned to the car and headed home.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Excellent


We continued to wander round and more mulled wine was consumed to fend of the chill breeze. The odd snack was taken, and the victims of the various rides were closely observed as they lurched away from their torturers.

Done, we returned to the tube and arranged to meet up again later for dinner. Westfield was busy, as you would expect, and we had to wait to be seated, but we did manage to have a very enjoyable meal at Jamie Oliver's restuarant.
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Wheels


The centre piece of the fair was probably the big wheel (though several other gravity defying rides were vying for attention). It was certainly the most noticeable of the attractions as you wandered through the stalls and sipped on your mulled wine.
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Moving on from Covent Garden we made our way to Hyde Park to visit the German-styled market "Winter Wonderland". As the light faded the lights and the decorations became more pronounced.
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Balls

The Covent Garden Apple Market was hosting a huge number of craft stalls which attracted the attention of Betty Rubble and the Silver Vixen. Meanwhile, the decorations caught GF's attention with huge burgundy red balls hanging from the roof with intermittent glitter balls to cast sparkles of light across the market.
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Snacking

Drinking the coffee to the sound of Mozart and Brahms was all very fine, but some food was required. Walking through to the next basement we found a pie shop that satisfied the Silver Vixen and Betty Rubble - but there was a huge paella being cooked in the midst of the courtyard. That proved too much of a temptatation for Barney Rubble and the Gorse Fox who tucked in to very fine helping of said Spanish delicacy.
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Sophisticated Muzak


Covent Garden was heaving, but downstairs a string sextet was entertaining the tourists with a quirky take on the classics.

Memorable

Somehow GF feels this 6000th blog post should be memorable - but other than complaining of a (rare) poor night's sleep, and commenting on the bright start to the day, there is little to report.

We are heading up to town for a wander round Covent Garden and the Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park with Betty and Barney Rubble for a few hours.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Just chilling

It was a quiet day pottering. GF had fun getting some software working after a brief exchange of emails with the author. It turns out that he used to work for Starfleet in Uithoorn. He so liked the software used there that when he left he started to develop something similar. As GF knows the original author and counts him as a friend, he was very impressed with the outcome.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Code

Some code has been rattling round the Gorse Fox mind  this has meant that he has spent time weaving in and out of Google looking for the right levels of software to support his curiosity.

Heading off to spend the evening with Urban-cub and Pistol Pete soon - but code issue is not yet resolved and may pre-occupy the mind.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas

Christmas is a time for family, and even with the family dispersed across the world it is possible with modern technology to stay in touch. So it was this morning when the phone signalled a call from the distant shores of Buckingham and no sooner had we finished speaking with them, when a call came through on Skype from Cousteau-cub who is spending the day on Phi Phi. It was lovely to chat with her as it has been a whuile since we have managed to sync' up except via chat.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The final preparations

Final preparations are being made:
A trip to the supermarket to get some drinks;
A last minute card;
Delivering the neighbours' cards
Cooking the Gammon;
Wrapping presents;
Displaying the Christmas cards.
There's no doubt about it, the Gorse Fox and Silver Vixen certainly live life on the edge!

Tomorrow we expect the Urban-cub and Pistol Pete to come round for Christmas; Cousteau-cub and the Coventry Hobbit will be in their own little paradise, but hopefully we should get to see and speak to them through the miracles of Skype.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Done

A full but not too frantic day. Laptop is now shut for a week. Starfleet gnomes will be frantically doing year end accounts as we cruise the universe on auto pilot for next few days.



Thursday, December 22, 2011

Wind down

It is clear that people are winding down for the holiday. The roads were quiet when GF headed in to work, the office was relatively quiet, and by mid afternoon it was clear that there was little point in sitting alone at the desk, so GF hopped in the car and headed back along the deserted motorways and is now home.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Change

Change is usually a stimulant and today the Gorse Fox was given the opportunity to spend the afternoon at another site for a workshop. It was nice to get out of the usual office and spend some time elsewhere. The advantage of this was that the location was close to GF's hotel and that meant a quick escape. Doesn't mean that the evening call was any quicker!

It did mean., however, that GF could stop and pick up a last minute Xmas presents.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Interesting

Well actually, in the greater scheme of things (which includes sea creatures, quantum physics, mountains, lakes and, of course, Spurs) not that interesting... But watching a foul smelling substance hit an air movement device without being in the direct firing line somehow makes the day in the office somehow more stimulating.

Monday, December 19, 2011

In Memoriam

The Gorse Fox has said before – but this family does run to a good funeral. In this case it was the sad passing of a 28 year stepson of the Silver Vixen’s brother.

We gathered at the Church for a Requiem Mass – conducted in English and French with great solemnity. Well almost great solemnity as the CD playing Pie Jesu cut out mid-verse just as the coffin was put on display… and then 30 seconds later continued. The Mass itself was solemn, though the Priest was very down to earth and comforting for the family.

Leaving the Church we headed for the Crematorium where the hundreds of cars fought for parking space and the victors found seats in the Chapel, whilst the vanquished snuck in late and stood at the back. Again the readings and service was well balanced and thoughtful – though we never saw the coffin disappear as the mechanism that opened the doors and pushed the coffin along the conveyor failed several times. The Gorse Fox tried to catch the brother-in-law’s eye to see if he needed to get his tools from the car – but it was decided to leave it to the friar (GF isn’t sure that’s his role, but feels the attendant in a Crematorium should be called a Friar).

In the gardens the sister of the deceased released a white dove that circled the mourners a few times before heading off into the Heathrow flight path, and then we all dispersed to reconvene at the wake.

For some it was a sad day, for others is was the start of something new. For the Silver Vixen it was a chance to support her brother at a difficult time.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Grazing

Silver Vixen and Gorse Fox are ensconced in a London Hotel in order to be in the right area for tomorrow's funeral. Having followed the satnav, it took a couple of hours to get here and GF is fairly convinced there was a better route.

Now sitting in the exec lounge we are grazing on canap├ęs, and various hot consumables washed down with fine wines. There are some definite advantages to signing up for the loyalty cards for the hotels in which GF spends his weeks. Fine executive room, food, drink, and no charges.



Nom, nom, nom

Brunch on a Sunday takes a lot of beating!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Capacitor

Somewhere, deep-down on the power control unit of the Samsung TV is a capacitor. This capacitor failed earlier this year, and as it failed it exhibited the symptoms of taking ever-longer to power up.

Those symptom seemed to have returned. Each time the TV had been switched on for the last week of so it has clicked, paused, clicked, paused, and eventually switched on. The click/pause cycle seemed to get longer each day.

GF put the TV in the car and headed down to Portsmouth to see Mr Fixit – explaining the symptoms, and asking him perform whatever arcane rituals were needed to fix the device.

Arriving home, the phone rang. Mr Fixit had already completed his diagnosis – GF was right – and replaced the faulty part with an uprated capacitor. All was well and the TV could be collected whenever it was convenient.

GF has just returned – and all is well.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Moderation... Again

It continues. A telecon lasted for a further four and half hours. Finally, we finished discussing the seventy nine senior troopers and working out their relative position to each other based on their contributions. It seems incredible that this process can take so long. However, it is important that GF helps and supports his people and ensures they get the best possible results.





Thursday, December 15, 2011

Home

Being Thursday it was the long trip home. The journey was trouble free, and another audio book bit the dust. Getting away slightly earlier meant getting home a good time.

No need to set the alarm for the morning... But a full day of calls is expected.



Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Moderation

They say "anything in moderation" - so way is it that we don't do moderation in moderation? GF has just finished a call that started at 1800 and that was a continuation of last Friday's exercise. It would be fine if we had finished - but we are only just over half way through!

Urban-cub

It has been a difficult few days for Urban-cub. She is at the forefront of the Gorse Fox's thoughts.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Oh well

No, not the Fleetwood Mac track... though come to think of it, that would be a good end to the day.

Early start, as usual, with lots of writing of documents, lots of drawing of diagrams, and several unplanned meetings. At the end of the day, GF got called in to discuss various challenges - and that meant that he was still in the office when the evening call started... and here he sits.

Now he has Green Manalishi (with a two pronged crown)  playing in his head. Oh Well!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Delays

Well that was a fun journey this morning.
Everything had been going smoothly; in fact, remarkably smoothly. Then as GF approached the bottom of the M3, the satnav warned of delays. As he cawled up the M3 it warned of problems at the junction to which he was heading.
He diverted. The satnav warned of problems on the A34 - but maybe he could sneak round the blockage. He zigged and zagged round Winchester... slowly. Oh so slowly. Then as he approached the Stockbridge Road, it became clear that that to was blocked by a crash.
Out of options (without a huge detour) he sat there. The rad eventually started to flow and four hours after leaving home GF arrived in Bristol.

At least the day in the office went fairly smoothly and GF headed down to hotel late afternoon to ensure he could take tonight's call from the tranquillity of his room instead of the office itself.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Stuffed

Excellent meal at the George and Dragon in Burpham. Unlikely that further sustenance required until tomorrow.

George & Dragon

We are expecting Betty & Barney Rubble to arrive soon. Lunch booked for an early sitting at the George & Dragon at Burpham - hope it is as good as it has been on previous occasions.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Package

The last of the Christmas presents was nailed... Though one may not arrive before Christmas Day. Still need to sort out shipping of stuff for Cousteau-cub.



Friday, December 09, 2011

Anything but moderation.

The dreaded day arrived and GF was on the first train out the village heading for London. GF was the last to arrive just as the evaluation moderation began. We had 90 troopers to review and rank against each other. It was long. It was painful. It was nearly 1630 before we finished.

This would have been almost acceptable except for the fact we 80 more senior troopers to process afterwards. We gave up at about 1930 having arranged two 5 hour conference calls to inject joy into our evenings next week.

GF was concerned when he finally got to the station as there were reports of signalling problems... But whilst some trains were delayed, GFs arrived on time. Have a feeling there may be a glass of wine calling his name from the South Coast



Thursday, December 08, 2011

Prep

Mixed day today - early start in the office preparing material for the steering committee and then reviewing a number of documents and adapting one of them fairly significantly.

With moderation of staff appraisals tomorrow - GF was also busy checking the details of performance for each of the team, and ensuring the check-sheets were filled in and submitted in advance.

For a change GF was able to get away early... but expects a very long day tomorrow

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Curate's Egg

The early start meant that Gf expected to get to Bristol about 9:30. Unfortunately there had been a crash on the M3 and that added a significant delay to the journey - but at least it meant more time listening to the latest book.

Once in the office the day seemed to go surprisingly smoothly and a lot was achieved with very few interrupts. GF left in time to check-in to the hotel prior to the evening progress call - but in the end the evening call was pegged back to about 5 minutes - result!

Stayed in the hotel for dinner - just couldn't be bothered to go out. It's fairly clear from listening to colleagues that they view Rigsby as the survivor of a charisma transplant. There seems to be a camararderie building up around a universal view of the chap. GF still has had little opportunity to speak with him so will reserve judgement.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Unremarkable

The Gorse Fox has had an unremarkable day - other than his proximity to home and ability to look forward to his own bed tonight.

He did manage to to chat online with Cousteau-cub, briefly, this morning. That was probably the highlight!

Monday, December 05, 2011

Dumbing down

The Gorse Fox can only assume that University Challenge is dumbing down. He watched it for the first time in years and was gob-smacked by how many questions he managed to answer.



Eh?

The Gorse Fox drove across to Bristol. The plans for Tuesday firmed up meaning GF had to get back to Sussex at the end of the day. This meant phone the Hilton to change plans. It really seemed so simple...

"My confirmation number is 1234455667" GF started

"Hello Gorse Fox, how can I help you?" drawled and American accent.

"I wish to rearrange my stay, I will now check on Wednesday, instead of Monday" he explained

"That's fine, sir. Easiest way is for me to cancel and rebook for you. So that is one night, check in on Wednesday?"

"Correct" he confirmed

"Oh, I'm sorry the hotel is full that night" she replied

The Gorse Fox suspected he had just entered a parallel universe. "Excuse me? How can it be full I have reservation there for that night?"

There was a confused silence. "oh sir, you are a Diamond member, we can make a room available - that'll be one room at £160"

"No, I wish to have the room at the same room rate that I was already booked in at"

"I am sorry sir, but there are no rooms at that rate."

"Excuse me! I already have a room at that rate" the Gorse Fox could feel himself becoming detached from reality.

"I'm sorry sir, but it shows that's you have cancelled that room"

"yes, that is because you just cancelled it"

A logic bomb must have exploded in her mind, the phone went dead and the wormhole to the other world closed. The Gorse Fox hung up and booked into the Marriott




Sunday, December 04, 2011

It's a wrap

The Silver Vixen did not sleep well last night. In the end she got up and went downstairs. It was gone three before she returned. You will appreciate, therefore, that GF was very quiet when he snuck downstairs and had a quiet start to the day.

By late morning he had to head off to fill up with diesel before heading onwards to do his first batch of Christmas Shopping. Parking was easy as he slotted back onto the drive and headed into the packed shelves of Amazon. No pushing, no bumping, no carrying back to the car, no bad manners or body odours - perfect.



Saturday, December 03, 2011

Saturday

It may sound like a TV series, but Saturday was down time. A lazy start, then off to collect the car from its service. Checked a few emails the. Helped out with some ironing then spent a few hours on the Internet.

Urban-cub and Pistol Pete popped in for while mid afternoon, and then when peace descended it was back to the web and the music library.



Friday, December 02, 2011

Best laid plans

The Gorse Fox had plans. There was a meeting scheduled for Tuesday near home. Plan was to work from home on Monday, have the meeting on Tuesday then head down to Bristol on Wednesday.

Well someone now thinks that it makes sense for the Gorse Fox to do the 300 mile round trip to Bristol on Monday to attend a meeting. The Gorse Fox is less than amused. The new PM, let's call him Rigsby, has a number of issues he wants to air so GF will spend six hours in the car.



Thursday, December 01, 2011

The Dark Side

Gorse Fox has spent the day on the dark side. The whole working day has been spent going through project plans and reviewing the programme going forward. The good news is that it has taken GF's mind off the toothache/sore throat that he seems to be fighting. I guess it is case of the hierarchy of pain.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Jumping for Joy...

Joy was a bit worried, but she'll get over it.

The Gorse Fox has to complete the first round of appraisal assessments today. This means that he has to read all of the feedback and self-assessments that have accumulated for his team and then apply some arcane algorithm that scores them. Once complete, this will be sent on for further assessment and eventually moderation to make sure that people are treated equitable across the population. Most of this is now done, though GF still awaits one set of assessments from one notorious Starship Captain... but GF has him in his sights!

What made the day even better was the piecemeal cancellation of every meeting a every teleconference call throughout the day. This meant that GF could get on with document reviews and catch up with emails and other reading. Now back at the hotel he is feeling suitable relaxed and about to head down for a bite to eat before watching the football.

Eh?

The Gorse Fox is not sure why, but he spent most his dream time last night walking round a suburban area with a fence panel on small brass wheels.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Ooops

The gorse Fox had two phone "incidents". It had been a really good day, and as the time approached 1730, GF considered his options. There were two teleconference calls scheduled. Where should he take them? In the office? In the hotel?

No, GF decided to done the headset and take the calls on the move. This worked pretty well until he went to get into the car and promptly hung up the call by switch off the phone as he donned the seatbelt. As the call was in full swing, he decided to leave it rather than interrupt them.

He was more organised for the second call. Headset on, phone on mute, everything was going well. GF wandered into TGI Friday and started to order. The call was still going strong. Then, just as he was completing the order someone on the call asked him a question. He went into mild panic grabbed at the lapel mic and nudged the phone off the table. He grabbed at the mic and promptly hung up. Enough was enough. He did not call back. He will make his apologies in the morning.

After dinner he went to Best Buy closing down sale. This worked well as it meant GF was able to pick up a gift that Urban-cub and Pistol Pete were looking for - and got it at very competitive price. One chap in there had a trolley with 3 48" LCD TVs. There was still plenty of gear there - but the discounts were good and it will all go fairly quickly.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Good day

It was a good day. The early start seemed a little fruitless when the traffic slowed the journey to over three hours. Fortunately one of his audio books kept the Gorse Fox amused throughout.

Once in the office the first few hours were consumed with meetings, but then the afternoon was moderately clear and enabled GF to finish downloading the missing software for the new laptop. This proved to be fairly pain free.

GF headed off to the hotel so that he could phone in to evening teleconference from his room and then head off to eat as soon as it was finished. With the latest 25% discount card he has acquired he managed to pull very pleasant steak dinner with a fine glass of wine. While sitting with one colleague chewing over the project, the new   project manager  walked in. We called him over and made introductions... while he preached his particular approach to the project. GF suspects we have some interesting weeks ahead, and there is strong chance of pyrotechnics.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Roast

It has been been a busy day with a number of domestic chores to complete. New laptop wasn't quite ready for doing expenses so had to nurse old one back into life again to get up to date. Then, GF had to look at hotels for a night away after Christmas. This worked well as there was a good backlog of loyalty points with Hilton and whilst we could actually pick and choose, Betty and Barney Rubble were limited in their choice. In the end we have plumped for Kensington, like we did last year.

Urban-cub and Pistol Pete came round lat afternoon to join us for a Sunday Roast, which U-c has kindly offered to prepare for us.



Saturday, November 26, 2011

Chichester

The morning started with the Gorse Fox checking his suspicious tyre pressures. After all was sorted GF and the Silver Vixen headed off to view the house in which they are interested. It proved to be illuminating and certainly proved to whet the appetite. If only we could get solid offer on the current house.

We then headed on to Chichester for a stroll around the shops and to have a coffee at Maison Blanc. It was a bit of a zoo with so many people out Christmas shopping, but it was nice to get out and have a look around.



Friday, November 25, 2011

Migrating

The Gorse Fox has been watching bits migrate down a wire from the old laptop to the new one. This has been running for hours and hours, but has now finally finished. Now he has to finish configuring the system so that he can get his mail, and then download the office tools and drawing tools that GF uses in his daily work.

Tomorrow looks as if it may be a bit of a rush - GF seems to have a tyre problem on the car (good job the the Tyre pressure monitor chipped in with a timely alert) - not sure if it just needs air, or new tyres.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Cert

The Gorse Fox is feeling chuffed.

He had to jump through a number of hoops earlier in the year and ended up with a 30 page case for his re-certification in Starfleet's technical community. The theory is that a re-cert case is fairly straightforward - but when GF hadn't heard anything two months later, he was beginning to get twitchy. He decided to write to the German Starfleet commander who looks after the technical troops. With the expected attention to detail and the efficiency that characterises her nation, the GF got a reply within 24 hours.

The Gorse Fox has been re-certified, and can rest easy for the next 3 years until the hoops come round again.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Mute

Thank goodness for the mute button. It was clear that the daily telecon was going to run on and on. GF switched his phone to mute and packed his gear. He headed for the car, and then drove to Cribbs Causeway. Several timely interventions were made, but the was immediately returned to mute. He carried on and sat down in TGI Fridays, ordered, and was halfway through his main course before the call drew to a close.

Well travelled

The Gorse Fox was checking UPS tracking history for his new laptop. It certainly looks as if it will have been well-travelled by the time it arrives.
DateLocation Local TimeActivity
Newhaven, United Kingdom11/23/20117:30 A.M.Arrival Scan
Stansted, United Kingdom11/23/20115:25 A.M.Departure Scan
11/23/20115:00 A.M.Import Scan
11/23/20113:38 A.M.Arrival Scan
Koeln, Germany11/23/20113:30 A.M.Departure Scan
Stansted, United Kingdom11/22/20119:08 P.M.Period entry details necessary for customs clearance, have been requested from the receiver. / Released by Clearing Agency. Now in-transit for delivery.
Dubai, United Arab Emirates 11/22/20115:50 P.M.Departure Scan
11/22/20113:40 P.M.Arrival Scan
Stansted, United Kingdom 11/22/20117:30 A.M.Period entry
details necessary for customs clearance, have been requested from the receiver.
Chek Lap Kok, Hong Kong 11/22/201111:15 A.M.Departure Scan
Stansted, United Kingdom11/21/201111:38 P.M.Package data processed by brokerage. Waiting for clearance.
11/21/201111:38 P.M.Package data processed by brokerage. Waiting for clearance. / Released by Clearing Agency. Now in-transit for delivery.
Chek Lap Kok, Hong Kong 11/22/201112:15 A.M.Export Scan
11/22/2011 12:15 A.M. Origin Scan
Hong Kong11/21/20112:58 A.M.Order Processed: Ready for UPS

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Meetings

The day was spent in the Starfleet office in Bristol. Several workshops were planned to allow the Gorse Fox to review the progress being made by the team with regards to their planning and design.

In general, things are looking good, but that doesn't mean that we don't have challenges ahead. That's what makes the job interesting. Unfortunately, the day finished a conference call that kept GF in the office until after seven. This fine for the part timers who don't start early, but as the regular reader knows, GF is usually hard at it by seven in the morning so these calls make for a long day.



Monday, November 21, 2011

Being there

Today was a day for just being there. It was Silver Vixen’s birthday and an opportunity to spend the day together – just hanging out. To that end we had a leisurely start to the day and then pottered off to Gunwharf Quays for a wander around the shops and to see if there was anything of interest.

It was grey, it was dull, but it was warm and we enjoyed window shopping and spending a few pounds here and few pounds there. Stopping for lunch we made use of the time to chat with Cousteau-Cub on the phone.

All in all, a nice day.

More than twenty years ago

Several more than twenty years ago this very day, the Silver Vixen emerged into the world to cast her unique radiance upon the northern suburbs of London. A she grew and her family moved about, her goodness spread – and now she enriches the lives of all who meet her.

Happy Birthday

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Decisions

As the reader may know, Gorse Fox and the Silver Vixen have been trying to sell their house and move to a location with a smaller plot, but similar sized house. We have a developer interested in our house but, as you would expect, he is trying to get a knock-down price. We have told the agent what our bottom line is, but there is still a bit of a gap to bridge.

On top of this we have to ask whether we really trust him. We have had experience before. Indeed we once tried to buy his house, while he was try to buy this one. At the last minute he pulled out and left us high and dry. Fortunately we saw the potential here and drove a good price and have had over a decade of enjoyment.

What to do?

Well, one thing was to pop along to the builders developing the house we would like. Explaining the predicament, they immediately offered to do a deal, and by the end of the day we had knocked the price down significantly.

Spreadsheets have been glowing hot all afternoon and we now have a clear view of the parameters within which we can manoeuvre. Will have to sleep on it.



Saturday, November 19, 2011

Appraising

Interesting day. (Ok, may be not interesting in comparison last weekend at Wembley, or watching Santana, or a good night's sleep).

We had a house viewing planned this afternoon, and this meant that most of the morning was spent fluffing, plumping, and cleaning but the GF had to bury himself in his laptop for the rest of the day. The Silver Vixen headed out for the afternoon for a session with the Embroiderers' Guild, meanwhile GF found that he was in mail gaol.

GF should explain. Starfleet, in it's infinite wisdom, limits mail files to pathetically small limits. This saves the accountants about 25 cents, but costs the staff house of effort each week trying to manage the mail queues down. The accountants are happy, the staff are irritated, and productivity suffers. After about and hour GF had fiddled about enough to escape mail gaol and started getting mail in, and able to send it out again.

The rest of the afternoon was spent preparing appraisals whilst the house viewing went on around him.



Friday, November 18, 2011

Progress

A day working at home has meant some real progress being made. A snotogram received earlier in the week had bubbled to the top of the stack. GF considered the best way to respond. In the end a masterpiece of latent sarcasm and overt vitriol. It felt good. Better still, and hour later, the Gorse Fox received a grovelling apology.





Thursday, November 17, 2011

Excellent

"Engineering" called. It was Scotty's man in charge. GF explained his Laptop problem. His response was "easiest way to fix that is to junk it and give you a new machine". He told the Gorse Fox to wait for the form to come through, fill it in, and it should be ready in about a week.

Sounds perfect, now that he has discovered a work-around that he can live with for now.



On it goes

Frustration continues. GF got the laptop working late last night. This morning it was fine for about three hours and then it failed again. For no obvious reason, GF switched off the WiFi and retried. Voila, the laptop worked. Switched on the WiFi and again it locked up.

A couple more tries showed this behaviour to be consistent. So it looks like the WiFi card is failing or the drivers are corrupt. Reported to "engineering" and they "raised a ticket".

Now, several hours later the Gorse Fox is still waiting for them to call back. GF may end up switching a load of stuff to his spare Notebook, just in case!!!



Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Per Ardua

The Gorse Fox walked into the Exec Lounge whilst still clutching his mobile phone to his ear. He managed to load a dish with some snacks, he managed to retrieve a wine glass. One handed, however, (remember he was clutching the phone) he was unable to open the wine bottle. Two of our finest entered the lounge in full flying gear. Seeing my predicament one (with Lightning and Harrier badges) opened the wine whilst the other circled in a protective ring nearby.

The Gorse Fox finished his call and thanked his rescuers profusely. Proud to serve, came the reply. They circled the lounge and after a barrel roll disappeared into the wild blue yonder.



Process - Pah!

The Gorse Fox's laptop was behaving well and he had just prepared some minutes for a meeting. Unplugging said laptop he waddled off to the meeting only to find the laptop in a serious sulk. No matter what he did he could not release the screen nor move characters or cursors on the screen.

The power-off button was beckoning, and in the end the Gorse Fox succumbed to temptation. The problem was that the laptop would not restart properly. It got part of the way through the Windows startup and then just hang there. using the Safe Mode, GF managed to gain access to the files and applications, but not the network. Files were immediately squirrelled away onto an external drive.

He called "engineering" in Starfleet. Scotty wasn't there but a dusky sounding maiden told GF he had to run a full virus scan and then a disk cleanup. GF responded that this was not a logical response to symptoms and please would she book him in for a laptop rebuild. Patiently, she replied that until she had received the diagnostics from the actions she had requested she could not take further action. GF fingered his Phasar, but realised that he was up against "process". Process is not there to apply logic and solve problems. It is there to torment and to get them caller off the line.

Four hours later the diagnostics are still running and nothing has been found. GF is not best pleased and may have to be Mr Grumpy when he calls "engineering" back



Oops

Laptop seems to have frozen. Not looking good.



Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Workshop

Most of today was spent in the Starfleet offices in Bristol with a workshop to drive out any remaining concerns regarding the next stage of the project. It went really well and it was good to see that the team have such a good understanding of the problems they have to solve.

GF got a bit of a kicking in the management call regrading a document that one of the team had not released whilst GF was away on a course. Par for the course really. Psychic ability and telekinesis is apparently prerequisite.

Stayed in the hotel this evening and had a snack with the team whilst watching the England vs Sweden game.



Monday, November 14, 2011

Good one

It was a good one. The traffics as kind, despite a slightly later start, and once at work the day went well. The one problem that arose was the discovery that a document that the Gorse Fox had requested back in April was never developed. This is one of those moments when it would be immensely satisfying to wield a baseball bat at the people involved. However, being a person of sweet and gentle disposition GF has just knuckled down and started to write himself.

After work, GF headed for the hotel and after his call home he strolled down to the lounge and joined colleagues for a glass of wine and a bite to eat.



Sunday, November 13, 2011

Blue Skies

It is another gorgeous day down on the south coast. There’s barely a cloud in the sky, and the temperature is about 16-17C. Too nice to stay in.

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The plan was to wander round Highdown Gardens, but we had forgotten that they are closed at weekends in the autumn and winter. We carried on up to Highdown itself, with the Neolithic earthworks still protecting the site from the worst ravages of the wind.

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Despite this image, the earthworks were not hiding a secret bunker, and a missile had not just been fired, blowing the tree to one side. No, it was serene, and a magnet for people out walking their dogs.

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We weren’t out for too long, but it did seem like a perfect day to be out in fresh air, enjoying the last vestiges of the mild autumn weather.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Game Over

At the end of the game we all poured out of the stadium to head for our various modes of transport.

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As we have have done before, we stayed by the car and had a picnic whilst those around us sat, stationary in traffic queues, trying to enter the grid-locked surrounding streets.

We had some tea, sandwiches, carrot cake, cold sausages, and energy bars.

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We chuckled at the mounting frustration of the other drivers, but left them to get on with it.

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All in all it was a good trip, a good result, and very good day out.

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Car park nearly empty, we joined the tail end of the traffic, nipped through the back streets to Greenford and the A40, onto the M25 and were soon home.

Gameplay

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The game kicked off and the during the first half the England team seemed clueless. The Spanish danced round them and and made everything seem so easy. England defended doggedly and effectively, but whenever they gained control of the ball they either a) had a rush of blood to the head and passed the ball to the Spanish; b) ran with the ball straight into the Spanish; or c) tried to retain possession, and passed it backwards through the team to the goalkeeper who would then kick the ball up the pitch to the Spanish.

In the first half there were no appreciable highlights. In fact at half time they tried to show highlights on the big screens and only managed about 45 seconds of footage. Even that was an exaggeration!

The second half was better. The useless Walcott was replaced, and there seemed to be more purpose. England scored, but not resting on the lead did attempt to go forward. They still had to defend heroically, and Jo Hart (in goal) still gave the ball away every time he got it). Danny Wellbeck came on and there was a further change of pace. In the end, the second half was quite good and the 1-0 win was a good (if unexpected) result.

Fans

The fans were gathered in their sections – the Spanish fans down one end, and the England fans taking over the rest of the stadium
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The red and yellow of Spain stood out in the sea of white created by the England supporters. The Spanish were vocal and good humoured and there was a buzz about the place.
When it came time for the National Anthems there was a respectful silence, and for the English anthem, coloured cards were raised to form the Cross of St George
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1-0

The score doesn’t really tell the story.

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We arrived at the stadium in plenty of time, parked and made our way through the turnstiles. The tickets gave us seats up in the third tier, but the view was excellent. We settled down with our cups of tea to await the match.

Wembley

Along with Urban-cub and Pete we are heading off to Wembley to go and support England in the friendly international with Spain. Should be a pleasant evening.

Sulk

Jasper the cat is till not talking to the Gorse Fox. Yesterday morning GF managed to kick the cat and now he’s sulking. GF knows he is trying to lay a guilt trip on him, but GF won’t fall for that. If you are a black cat, and you lie in the middle of the floor outside the bathroom at six o’clock on a autumn morning and you are not wearing a high-visibility jacket (and hard hat) – then you have brought it on yourself.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Two hours

Only a couple more hours to run on this course. It has been very good so far, and the agenda for the rest of the day looks pretty good.

Lunch featured the smallest piece of battered fish that GF has ever seen ( that wasn't actually in a domestic tropical fish tank).


Thursday, November 10, 2011

On course

The Gorse Fox is still away from the office on his course. Again, he has bumped into old friends that he hasn't seen for years. It is good to know that Starfleet still has a few "old lags".




Wednesday, November 09, 2011

On course

The Gorse Fox is nearing the end of the first day of his three-day course. It has been good so far - particularly as it was a chance to catch up with old (even ancient) friends.



Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Assuring

It was a low stress day. An early start, review of a 195 page document followed by numerous smaller documents. None belonged to the Gorse Fox, he just had to assure them.

GF held his weekly design meeting, which fortunately finished early so GF was able to get on the road and head back to Sussex.


Monday, November 07, 2011

Beans

The Gorse Fox rose early. There was coffee to make before getting on the road. Jasper the cat lay in the hallway, eyeing progress somewhat dolefully. He was not amused that he had been woken up. 40 minutes after consciousness was achieved, the Gorse Fox was on his way. Fortunately traffic was kind, even if his innate clumsiness was not. As he drove past Portsmouth the fresh (but now cooling coffee) managed to miss his mouth and deposit itself down his pale pink shirt and into his lap. As auspicious starts go - this was not one!

Once in Bristol things were remarkably calm and quite - other than the stack of documents that had arrived for the Gorse Fox to review, edit, and comment on. By mid-afternoon the interrupt rate was high enough that GF was starting to thrash, reading and re-reading the same text. In frustration he packed his bags and retreated to his hotel and a semblance of calm.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Rubble

A visit to see Betty and Barney Rubble is planned. Always a pleasure, even if the journey back can be a little tiresome on dark evenings.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Code

It is the weekend and the Gorse Fox is enjoying some down time. After meeting up with sister and brother-in-law for dinner in Chiddingfold last night , we were late to bed. The morning was relaxed with some research on the web, and catching up with some reading.

Urban-cub popped round early afternoon so she could borrow the food processor, but the the Silver Vixen returned to her sewing and GF to the Internet.

Frustratingly, something has changed and some code GF wrote several years ago has stopped working. The code used to strip blog entries from here, and file copies in GFs private meta blog.


Friday, November 04, 2011

Word of the day

The Gorse Fox would like to bring the following to your attention:

Ineptocracy (in-ep-toc’-ra-cy) - a system of government where the least capable to lead are elected by the least capable of producing, and where the members of society least likely to sustain themselves or succeed, are rewarded with goods and services paid for by the confiscated wealth of a diminishing number of producers.

GF would like to acknowledge the originator of this, but he seems to be anonymous

Thursday, November 03, 2011

That’s better

After the trials of the week so far, today was a welcome change. The Gorse Fox had to be in Surrey for some meetings with the client and with other parts of the Starfleet team.

This meant a leisurely start at home until rush hour was over, then a short trip north. In general, the meetings went pretty well, and GF was able to get away mid-afternoon and finish off his work at home.

Much more civilised.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Just leave me alone

The Gorse Fox has had another trying day. Significantly more trying than yesterday. He doesn't want to talk about it. His equanimity is in jeopardy and somebody needs a slap.

In order to ensure we meet our obligations, GF has had to step in and write a document, due today, but not even started by the proposed author. This is a subject area that GF is not familiar with so he had to spend several hours on the phone getting a brain dump before setting fingers to keyboard. Document is now complete and under review before release.

At least he is heading home tonight... Though it is likely to be late.



Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Bitch of a Day

Gorse Fox does not like to complain, but to be honest, this was not a good day. GF was in the office by seven, and had to start sending strop-o-grams within a few minutes. Fortunately these worked and responses arrived before the cut-off time.

More documents were turned around despite late review comments arriving at the last minute.

Preparation for a meeting on Thursday was not encouraging. The people involved had their heads firmly buried in the sand, and GF has challenged them to step up to the plate and will be checking on their progress tomorrow and on Thursday morning before the proper meeting.

Late (for the GF) a teleconf kept him in the office later than wanted. As a result room service seemed like the best solution to dinner. GF does not like to eat late! It may be a bit later tomorrow, but at least it will be at home.


Monday, October 31, 2011

Traffic

Well, after the easy journeys of last week, this week started with a snarl as traffic between Portsmouth, Southampton and Winchester was moving like an asthmatic snail with athlete's foot and an ingrowing toenail traversing a cold syrup runway against the wind.

At work we greeted some new colleagues and had the usual weekly review. Then it was back to the documents and attempting to clear the last review comments and get a few more approved.

A quick trip to Nandos for some chicken and salad preceded the hotel check-in and chat with the Silver Vixen who has been at a workshop today, learning some new techniques with her sewing machine.



Sunday, October 30, 2011

Time

Time seems to be the topic of the day. The clocks went back, giving us an extra hour over night. This morning the papers are full of discussion regarding keeping the clocks at BST all year round. Needless to say this is raising pathetic arguments and emotive statements like "living on Berlin Time". It is infantile statements like that which make you realise the argument is essentially sound. After all, it is well known that once Hitler, Nazism or the War is invoked in an argument, then it is proof that the argument has been lost by the person or group raising the comparison.

GF has enjoyed the day. He helped the Silver Vixen turn yesterday's diagrams and plans into reality. Well, he helped with the measurements and the angles! This was followed by a most satisfactory couple of hours with Harry and the boys at White Hart Lane (on TV).

Tomorrow reality returns with a bump.



Saturday, October 29, 2011

Helping Hand

Today saw the Gorse Fox trying to act as the helping hand. The exhibition at the local community centre has come to an end and it was time to help take down all the quilts and other projects that had been exciting public for the last month. It didn’t take too long, but did feature several anxious moments as GF tried to find dropped pins.

Back home, the Silver Vixen is in the final stages of a particular quilt. This involves using a particular technique to pick out some shapes around its border. This is where the Gorse Fox came in useful. He created a scaled version of the quilt and then tried to illustrate the various options that SV was considering so that she could see the effect and also get the basic measurements.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Yeah, right

Apparently Bill Gates reckons that being a billionaire is overrated. Well the Gorse Fox would rather not take his word for it and suggests he drops a billion or two into GFs account so that he can be the judge of that!

Suitability

GF was talking to a colleague who was thinking of moving home. He lives in Manchester, but he and his wife have realised they are not really suited to life there. Neither has webbed feet,

Blog Anniversary

Well, today sees the completion of 7 years blogging, without missing a day. Well over 5,900 blog entries have been recorded.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Another good day

Though the first meeting of the morning over-ran, the rest of the day went pretty smoothly. At lunchtime GF ran a team meeting for his techies and took the opportunity to impress on them the fact that the client is actually document-driven more than anything else, and that for the remainder of the programme the production of documents will be a key focus as that is the only way we will get their approval to proceed through each stage.

GF got away from Bristol slightly earlier than expected, but the traffic dictated that those extra minutes were eaten up. By the time GF was on the motorway he was running later than usual, and worse still – he was feeling drowsy. A ten-minute power-nap at Membury Services sorted that out.

Home finally.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Better

Today was much better. THe Gorse Fox was offsite attending a planning review and this meant a leisurely start and a passive day where his attention was required but actual intervention was sparse and though he had to review some documents the recent patterns of effort seemed distant.

A couple of late afternoon conference calls capped the day, and the Gorse Fox pottered through the traffic, listening to his book as he found his way back to the hotel.

Dinner was meant to be at Nandos, but they were busy, and so were several other restaurants, so GF ended up at Giraffe.



Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Smug

The Gorse Fox is feeling smug. Two further documents released, one written from scratch. Now only three to go, one for the GF to finish off, and two others that GF is depending colleagues to produce. He has had to change the authors names on all of the documents so that it isn't so obvious that GF has had to step in and write them.

Got a message for nano-sister after her trip to the consultant. Scans are looking promising. Further check in February.

GF has a different day tomorrow. Off site planning meeting. Should be interesting.



Monday, October 24, 2011

Not Bad

Despite the Gorse Fox's expectations, it turned out to be a better day than expected. The journey to Bristol was quick and trouble free, the book that GF is listening to is totally immersive.

Once at work, he managed to stay off-grid for a while and got stuck into another of the missing documents. A meeting interrupted progress, but GF managed to excuse himself from the follow-on meeting. Progress continued well until project managers got involved. At that point a couple of hours was lost, but GF was on a roll. Once troll-free he managed to confirm another document was ready to release, and finished another of his own. GF has been asked to show a series of authors for the documents, even though most were written by him.

Back at the hotel, GF phoned the Silver Vixen then popped out for dinner at Piccolinos.



Sunday, October 23, 2011

Troubled–2 (Thought Police)

The Gorse Fox is also troubled by the shenanigans going on in Westminster.

It is becoming clear that open democracy is a myth, and that intervention by the electorate can only be tolerated when its suits the incumbents. We have a request from 100,000+ members of the electorate for a referendum on the subject of our place in the EU. (This, you will remember, was promised by NuLabour in the run up to the Lisbon Treaty, and reneged upon; and again it was promised by the Tories).

Now we find that individual MPs are being “encouraged” to toe the Party Line and vote against giving the electorate a voice. This is troubling, because the Party senses that the electorate may actually dare to come up with an answer that Mandarins and MPs don’t like.

I hope that the Gorse Fox’s MP has the guts and moral fibre to vote with his conscience and represent his constituents. Party politics have a place in our system, but NOT when the electorate is clamouring to be heard. Then it should representation of the people.

Gorse Fox suspects this is effectively a self-destruct button for the Government. Those disenfranchised by the “whip” will flock to the UK Independence Party and the core Tory support will whither.

Now the Gorse Fox should point out, that he has no particular axe to grind regarding the UK position in the EU. Indeed, he is not sure how he would vote in a referendum on the UK’s continued membership. What he really objects to is the arrogance of Westminster dictating what we the electorate should have a say in, and the presumption that they know best.

Troubled–1 (Thought police)

The anti-Christian establishment continues to persecute people for their beliefs and the “though-police” have stepped in.

We see reports of a Christian making comments on his Facebook page, expressing an opinion regarding gay-marriage in Church. It was not anti-gay marriage, it was questioning the appropriateness of such an event in Church. This was not a public pronouncement, but one only visible to his circle of “friends”. One of the “friends” reported his innocuous (but not politically correct) comment to the Housing Trust where they work. As a result he has been demoted and lost nearly a third of his salary.

Martyrdom in the UK is not as violent as it used to be, but God, Supreme Being, Heaven, someone help you if you if you should should have an opinion that may not match that of the PC brigade.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Smooth

It has been a lovely day. Work has not sullied the grey matter at all. GF has cleared the problem with iTunes updating the iPad. It turns out that a factory reset and restore was all that was needed.

The real challenge of the day came in trying to fix the coffee maker. Reading the instructions GF suspects he needs to clean the infuser. The instructions say that two red buttons had to be pressed to release the infuser. The diagrams show the locations of the buttons on either side of said infuser. Problem is, they also show the infuser as being vertically mounted, with access to both sides. In practice, on our model, the infuser is mounted diagonally and one of the buttons is completely inaccessible. GF ended up writing to the manufacturer. Let's see what comes back.

Tickets for the November international between England and Spain have been ordered. Should be a good night out.

Friday, October 21, 2011

TGIF

It may not be original, but Thank God it’s Friday. This week seems to have been a one long relentless round of smoothing things over, being reasonable, and writing documents to patch up holes. Each day has stretched to eleven or more hours, and the Gorse Fox is going boss-eyed. The document that is open in front of him, is not progressing. The creative juices have stopped flowing. Nevertheless, GF has managed to complete and publish 3 of the nine required documents today.

Laptop is now closed, and the Gorse Fox can hear the plaintiff cry of fine bottle of Merlot begging for his attention.

The real crisis of the day, however, was not the state of the documents, but rather the fact that the coffee maker seems to have failed. Loud rasping sounds seem to emit from its workings, and no water traverses the tubes. This will need some attention tomorrow.

Good start

Good start to the day with the first call coming in just after seven thirty. This does not bode well for the day.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Air Movement Devices

It seems that this week is being retained as some form of punishment for having taken time off. A number of design documents are outstanding and at the moment the Gorse Fox has no access to resources who can write them. This is being used as a cudgel, and GF has to smile keep calm and carry on.

At least he finally escaped and headed home to Sussex. The audio book “Sanctus” playing in the car kept the journey interesting and came to a satisfying conclusion. It had been a good book.

Once home he settled down with the Silver Vixen and saw the last half hour of the Spurs game (an edgy 30 minutes, but 1-0 win) over the Russian team Rubin Kazam.

Oh well, tomorrow is another day.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Bad start

It was a bad start. Gorse Fox woke early as usual, but once showered and ready it was clear that the newspaper had not been delivered. GF likes his morning fix of journalism before breakfast and the trip to work.

Talking of work, the day has not been significantly better than yesterday. The Gorse Fox has spent much of the day resisting the temptation of ripping off someone's leg and beating him over the head with it until he steps up to the responsibilities that has been avoiding. This has meant that GF is again doing several day jobs at a time.

Back in the hotel, GF phone the Silver Vixen - she was having dinner with Rick Wakeman and the headmistress and it sounded as if they were having a riot. The headmistress has a broken shoulder at present. The result of a Strictly Come Breaking competition. Surgical intervention is scheduled for next week, so hopefully all will be well.



Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Not Good

It has not been a good day. Laptop took an age to boot this morning, network was up and down all day (when it was working at all), MiFi needed subscription update, and GF found that the team had sleep-walked into committing to a whole series of documents that were not planned, but we're now expected in the next week or two.

GF had his work cut out remaining calm. However, he has now spent several hours trying to grab the problem (if not the project manager) by the neck. He's chatted with the client and they have reset and agreed several sets of expectations. He's not saying that things are under control, but they are less out of control.

Chiquito was chosen for dinner, but was extraordinarily slow. Back at the hotel, GF found that his room key had deactivated and had to return to reception to get it recoded. A final slap from fate.



Monday, October 17, 2011

Grind stone starts to spin

It was a six o'clock start, but only had to get as far as the study. Gorse Fox had decided that there would be loads of email and he needed to be connected to a fast network. Over 400 emails had come in during the previous two weeks, and most needed to be read and considered, if not actually answered.

Eventually all was clear (6 hours later) and the Gorse Fox hit the road. This, it turned out was a good decision. The journey was only two and half hours, whereas a colleague had taken three and half hours earlier in the morning.

Once in the office it was clear that the important changes that GF had been working on had been approved. Other areas had not moved on as much as hoped and GF will have to get more involved than he wanted.



Sunday, October 16, 2011

All change

The last day before Gorse Fox returns to work. Again the weather was superb (well, the sun does shine on the righteous). We took the day quietly, sorting out bits and pieces, enjoying the sunshine and listening to the sound of the waves lapping at the shore.

During the afternoon, GF watched the Spurs game with Newcastle. (Wasn't impressed that Jasper, the cat, was watching all decked out in black and white). The draw was probably a fair result, but then again, GF would have taken a win in place of fairness!

GF managed to chat online with Cousteau-cub. She hasn't been affected by the flooding in Thailand. That seems to have been concentrated on the central plain and the Gulf of Thailand. Indeed, she said that the winds had changed and that the weather was now getting really hot again. Diving has been good, and she and the Coventry Hobbit have been very busy.



Saturday, October 15, 2011

Scam bait

The Gorse Fox was mistaken for scam bait. A phone call came through and an Indian gentleman tried to convince the Gorse Fox that he worked for Microsoft’s technical team. To prove his credentials he quoted the license number of the PC and said they were receiving an inordinate number of error messages from that machine.

GF’s antenna started to detect a rodent.

He then carefully instructed GF how to view the various events that the PC was recording and declared what a calamitous state it was in. The Gorse Fox played along. This was elaborate!

As long as he was suggesting the execution of benign commands, GF continued to ramp up his phone bill. Then came the denouement. He requested that the Gorse Fox access the internal technical support system at Microsoft. (err, if it is the Internal support system, why would GF be able to access it?).

The address of the system was given as a web address with AMMYY as part of the URL (GF won’t enter the whole thing to prevent anyone accidentally clicking on it). Why would an internal Microsoft web site not have some symbolic acronym for Microsoft somewhere in the URL?

Gorse Fox thanked the gentleman for his attention and told him that he would not be accessing the aforementioned address. It is, after all, a well known tool for taking over access to the PC and giving access to the hard drive.

The Gorse Fox is getting old, but he’s not senile yet!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Tranquil

The Gorse Fox found Michelham to be a most tranquil spot, and thought you might like a few more images from the day.IMG_0868

Some swans enjoying the autumn sunshine in the moat.IMG_0824

The Priory from the eastern end of the garden.IMG_0881

One of the many pieces of sculpture that are dotted around the grounds.IMG_0884

The seat of wisdom.

The Priory

No, not THAT one.

The Gorse Fox and Silver Vixen had to hang around a bit to await the local Estate Agent. New to the area, he wanted to come and see the house and familiarise himself with the property.

We were ready to go as soon as he had gone. Heading east we crossed the County boundary and entered East Sussex to visit Michelham Priory.IMG_0818

On the outskirts of Upper Dicker, Nr. Hailsham the Priory boasts England’s longest water-filled moat, and is approached by the gatehouse shown in the picture above.IMG_0819

The house dates back to 1229 when the Priory was founded and was lived in by Augustinian canons until the Dissolution in 1537. We had picked a fantastic day to visit, the sun was bright and there was not a cloud to be seen; and this, in case you have forgotten, is mid October.IMG_0876

The Church of the Holy Trinity was destroyed and the house underwent various transformations including the addition of an extensive Tudor wing. What we now see is charming structure cared for by the Sussex Archaeological Society.

Excellent trip

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Quiet Day

The Gorse Fox and Silver Vixen had a quiet day. Ocado were scheduled to deliver the week's shopping mid-morning, and there was dry cleaning to collect and a magazine to seek out.

Alongside all of that excitement the Gorse Fox decided it was time to sort out his smartphone. It is a great phone, but it keeps running out of space. A factory reset cleared the phone and the bit by bit the apps were re-installed. All in all, this seems to have freed up about 60MB of space and that should allow quite some leeway.

Finally the Gorse Fox has updated the iPad to iOS5. Seems ok so far.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Autumn Colours, again

Starting just as rush hour finished, the Gorse Fox and Silver Vixen headed across the county to meet up with Betty and Barney Rubble at Sheffield Park Garden.

This National Trust treasure is tucked away, just north of Chaily, and exploded into a riot of colour in the autumn. We had agreed to meet up for a coffee and then take a stroll.IMG_0676

Whilst we had been before, it was the first visit for our elderly friends. It was immediately clear that they were impressed. No untoward comments were made regarding Barney leaving his camera at home (after all, after the mishaps of last year’s trip to Florence, GF could hardly cast the first stone).

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We followed a broadly clockwise route around the lake, making a few detours here and there. The advantage that we had for this visit was that, being mid week, the gardens were very quiet.

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Whilst the sky was overcast, there were occasional breaks in the cloud, and it was quite warm. As we progressed, however, there was a brief ten minutes of drizzle but we were pretty well sheltered by the trees, so it was no hardship.

Sheffield Park lake

At lunch we returned to the tea rooms, but seeing the queue, retreated to the car and drove to The Bull at Newick where we had a splendid lunch. Returning to the Gardens, we set out to explore some of the paths we had missed in the morning. By now the sky was clearing and it was really quite cheery.

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Finishing off the tour, we returned to the tea rooms before picking up the road home.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Autumn

The nice thing (ok, one of the nice things) about being on holiday is the ability to please yourself and choose to do something at a moment’s notice.

The weather was warm, but a bit overcast. Not too far from here is High Beeches, one of a trio of gardens that were created and nurtured by the same extended family. The Gorse Fox and Silver Vixen had never visited it before, and today seemed like just the opportunity.

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We arrived early enough to pop into the tea rooms for a cup of the eponymous brew and a snack. Then as the clock struck one, we headed for the entry to the gardens. Being early, as we were, we had the place virtually to ourselves.

IMG_0635 It was one of those gardens that kept revealing new views and new palettes of colour as you wandered the grass paths.

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As the sun broke through, the leaves exploded into their autumnal hues and whether close up, or landscape views, the place was enchanting.

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It was a charming way to spend an hour or so.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Gadgetry

Gadgets come to the rescue. A certain gadget was secreted in a secure hiding place before we left for Malta.

The problem with this is that we had forgotten the secret hiding place. After some thought we resorted to Mobile.me to switch on the audible beacon that would reveal where the iPad was hidden. A few moments later an anonymous box started to beep and the lost gadget revealed itself.



Still off

The Gorse Fox begins his second week of vacation – a deeply satisfying thought!

Sunday, October 09, 2011

A Nice Trip

It has been a nice few days, and we were blown away by how nice the Maltese people were. We had a leisurely start and made our way to the airport where we checked in without incident,arriving back at Gatwick soon after lunch.

As usual, the third world airport facilities meant that we had thirty minutes to wait before we we directed to the baggage carousel. (At Bangkok, you know the carousel before you even disembark).

Quiet afternoon uploading photos.



Next time

Will have to leave Birgu (see comments) for next time. Have run out of time on this brief trip, but would certainly come back another time.



Saturday, October 08, 2011

Music Accordion to the Gorse Fox

We were shown to our table in the vast restaurant. In the centre of the room was an archipelago of islands hosting every kind of food you could imagine. Things were looking promising.

Then the Gorse Fox noticed a small stage in the corner. On it was a drum kit and double bass. It could well be the harbinger of an excellent evening. Three musicians headed for the stage. A drummer dressed in the mandatory black, the bassist in a white shirt and black slacks, and a hobbit dressed in black who spirited an electric accordion from nowhere.

Now, noise can be evocative. The sound of waves on the shore, or leaves rustling in the trees can make the heart soar. Similarly, the sound of fingernails on a blackboard, Ed Miliband, or a Stuka dive-bomber can have you clawing at your bleeding ears to make it stop. The accordion is orders of magnitude worse. It is Satan's own instrument wheezing and whinging like an asthmatic without his inhaler. It is enough to turn the sweet-natured Gorse Fox into a psychotic axeman charging across the restaurant with a cleaver in one hand and a cast iron pan in the other (to adjust the hobbit's irritating goatee-framed smirk).

It was about as bad as it could get as they worked through every accordion "classic". One (and only one) diner clapped as they finished each number. The rest, like the Gorse Fox, glowered at the moan of the tortured cats (or whatever actually makes the noise) from inside the instrument.

If the EU wants to do something really useful, it should outlaw accordions.

Rant over. (oh yes, the food was excellent).


Unreliable

GF is finding BlogPress to be particularly sensitive (unreliable) when it come to uploading photos. Yesterday, it seemed fine. Today, using the same network, not a hope. Had to use blogger itself for the photos.

Leaving Valetta

Taking the water taxi back to Sliema

Across the Grand Harbour

View across the Grand Harbour

St Johns Square

A nice place for lunch

Side Alleys

St John's Co-Cathedral

Valetta

The plan was to visit Valetta. The plan was to arrive by water, but the choppy seas this morning put pay to that idea. We again purchased a day ticket for the buses and hopped on the No. 13 heading for the town.

It didn't take long before we were rubbing shoulders with the general tourists and wandering the streets of the town. We stopped for a coffee and watched the world go by. It was clear that the real throng clustered round the squares by the Co-cathedral, the Library, and the Palace. Being different, we headed off down the side streets.

This gave us the chance to poke our noses into some of the less well known churches, and to see the warren of streets that make up the town. We headed down to the fortifications that protected the harbour entrance and looked across at the ancient fortresses that once guarded against the Turks.
It was time to grab a drink, and so we headed back up towards the main square foe some ice cream and refreshments whilst waiting for St Johns to reopen. There was a flaw in our logic, however. On Saturdays it closes at 12:30, and stays closed!

And so, we never got to see inside.

We wandered down to the ferry and got a water taxi back to Sliema where we waited for the bus to the hotel. Just as the bus came into sight, the rain started and as the bus pulled in a big German woman barged through to the front of the queue, beckoning her husband to follow. The Gorse Fox, in a move that would have earned him a yellow card at Wembley, stepped across the path of the advancing chap and blocked him off entirely. Satisfied GF ushered several people onto the bus in front of him, before clearing his lines.

Quite a satisfactory day.

Choppy

A bit more cloud this morning and the sea looks decidedly choppy. Still a pleasant 26C.



Friday, October 07, 2011

Mdina

After an exceptional night's sleep we had a quiet start the the day. GF caught up on some blogging and checked yesterday's photos and then we headed off to breakfast. A cruise ship was heading for Valetta enjoying the early morning sunshine.


The plan was to head for Mdina. The only part of the plan that was not set, however, was the transport. A taxi would cost 21E each way and take about 25 minutes. A tour bus would cost about 15E each and take a couple of hours. We decided to take public transport. This cost 2.60E each and took about an hour.

Great choice, as it turned out. It gave us a chance to have closer look at Malta as we made our way round. It reminded the Gorse Fox of the North African cities you see in the films. Narrow streets, an air of dilapidation on the outside, tall narrow buildings vying for space. The other impression it gives is that of one mugs metropolis, with no visible demarcation from one town to the next, until you get to middle of the island, where there is some precious open space.


In the middle of the Island rises a bluff. Perched on the bluff is the ancient walled city of Mdina. This is well worth the visit. From the walls you can peer down over the whole island, but within the walls is place of significant peace and tranquility (at least until the tour groups invade the Cathedral). Wonderful place, well worth the visit.


Back at the hotel we had some tea and made for the sun deck. The Silver Vixen wanted some rays and the Gorse Fox wanted a swim. Suffice it to say, Thailand is still preferred for swimming. The pool was very cold (compared to what GF was expecting).

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Portomaso by night








Portomaso

The day started at stupid o'clock with a drive to the airport. All was goin well until we arrived. Then the guardians of our security deemed that the clear plastic bags in which we carried out 100ml liquids was too big. We had to transfer into a single bag of their specified dimensions. This proved impossible so one bag had to be checked-in, though GF had fortunately paid for this eventuality in advance.

On the plane, the pilot announced that he had found a dent in the fuselage and the engineers needed to check it and measure it. This would, apparently, take 2 hours. We settled in for a long wait.

Some hour or so later we were informed that this problem had been reported before but that the paperwork had gone missing and until the pilot had seen it, we were going nowhere. Eventually, after two hours, we were cleared and heading for the Med.

The Gorse Fox's first impressions of Malta were of surprise. There is a lot of building going on, but somehow it seems far less "first world" than was expected. Many of the roads were in serious need of repair, and the buildings were in need of a lot TLC.

Arriving at the hotel in Portomaso, we entered palatial surrounding and were greeted with cold fruit juice and delightful staff. Our suite wasn't quite ready, so we were directed to the executive lounge while we waited. Things were looking up!

Once we had taken possession of our suite we headed out for a walk around the marina and the hotel grounds. It was as we reached the furthest point of the Marina that the heavens opened and we got dumped upon. Soaked, we headed back to the hotel and watched the thunder and lightning from our balcony. An hour later, the sun was out and everything was drying up. It was reminiscent of Florida - late afternoon deluge, otherwise warm and sunny.

We met up with the Gorse Fox's nano-sibling and brother-in-law and took a stroll down the hill into St Julian's for a meal. The restaurant had been highly recommended, and we had a very nice (though simple) meal and some local wine before heading out for a stroll by the bay.

A good day (eventually).



Pilot

They have found a dent in the fuselage. Two hour delay expected... and maybe a change of plane.

Silly

What a silly time to be up and about.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Facetime

Received a Facetime call (like Skype, but iPad-to-iPad) from the Gorse Fox's brother-in-law. All sounds well and most satisfactory. It will be fun to catch up with them in the next day or so.

Blogging may be a little sparse for a few days, but GF will retro-blog anything that gets missed.

Just a Case

The Gorse Fox has done it again. There’s something about travel that gets the juices flowing and during a perfectly innocent shopping trip, he ended up looking a roll-aboard bags. One caught his eye. It had the normal empty interior (well you don’t want other peoples’ clothes already filling the space), but in addition to the traditional front pockets, it had a fide flap which concealed a compartment for the laptop.

That was it! Given the existing bag is looking a bit battered and is 1cm too big for the EasyJet carry-on, this new masterpiece of convenient travel engineering had to join the stable of thoroughbred cases, bags, stuffers, and rucksacks that fills the attic.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Core

The hype and expectation in the tech community is reaching fever pitch as Apple prepare to announce something phone-related.

Get a grip. It’s just another smartphone, and you are all being played by the PR machine.

Meanwhile, in the real world, the Gorse Fox has spent time today updating various devices, and wandering into town to drop off some dry-cleaning. Even there, he couldn’t get away from the hype. Walking past the greengrocer’s he noticed the window display was all apples!

Monday, October 03, 2011

Not working

There is a great feeling of satisfaction when you can take time off, when the weather is superb, and you know your colleagues are hard at it!

The Silver Vixen has arranged an exhibition of some of the projects and practice pieces at the local community centre. Her fellow contributors turned up to help set up. Gorse Fox helped where he could and finished off by taking photos of the displays.





Testing

Gorse Fox is just testing the Blogger App for Android on his phone. Nothing of great significance here.