Friday, September 30, 2011

Wound down

The day started slowly. GF had to be in Starfleet's Bristol office, but not until nine o'clock. This meant a nice leisurely start, a wander through the papers, a quiet breakfast and then a few minutes drive to the office.

The objective was to allow the Programme Manager to pick GF's brain to ensure that he was ready for the board meeting while GF was on vacation. So as the sporadic interrogation took place, the Gorse Fox was able to crack on with emails, and admin such that he was just about clear by the time it was time to head out on the highway. Still some expenses to claim, but that will have to wait until the weekend.

The pressure (GF doesn't do stress) of the last couple of weeks has just dropped away and he is already in very relaxed mood.

Thursday, September 29, 2011


It's funny how things roll. The Gorse Fox has just enjoyed dinner with three colleagues and caught up with their lives and their gossip. It turns out that two of the strangest people he has met (who worked with him in Worcester for quite a while) having been together for seven years, finally got engaged. Two more suited people would be hard to find.

Oh yes, did he mention that five weeks later they split up!

Wind down

The Gorse Fox is winding down. Many of his duties have been handed over in preparation for his absence. Friday sees a day in the local Starfleet office in Bristol.

Tonight the Gorse Fox is hosting a couple of colleagues for dinner. Should be most pleasant.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Not much to report

The Gorse Fox has not got too much to report. Work is work, and except for those of us involved, has little of interest.

Now, what is strange, however, is convergence. The Gorse Fox and Silver Vixen have some vacation time planned. His nano-sister and husband also have vacation planned at the same time. It turns out that we are all going to the same place. Now that is coincidence.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


The Gorse Fox had a good day, but it was very busy. The work is building to a crescendo, but there was a quiet interlude when the whole cross company team got together for an update followed by a pleasant buffet and opportunity to "mix".

Asset Stripping

The Gorse Fox was a little taken aback when he listened to the morning news. It presaged today's speech by Ed Miliband regarding "making a quick buck" and "bad companies that asset strip". The Gorse Fox then spent a while spluttering in cross between irritation and amusement.

The very thought that the Labour Party could utter the phrase "quick buck" after Tony Blair had been in charge, or that they could refer to "asset stripping" after selling of the UK gold reserves and stripping private pensions at a rate of about 10Bn per year, is a degree of hypocrisy that the Gorse Fox finds breath-taking.

Monday, September 26, 2011


The Gorse Fox has had a busy day, but suspects that this is the first of several, before he has a vacation.


Email from one of the discount voucher systems arrived in the GF's intray with the subject line:
£21 Three course meal for two / Duvet and Pillow
The Gorse Fox wonders what the third course is?

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Plumbing the depths

The Gorse Fox has a thing about DIY. That thing is that anything remotely related to plumbing should be avoided.

Today he has broken this rule in a effort to stop the upstairs lavatory from dripping. The cistern was examined and adjustments made – but these made no difference. So it was that GF headed for the DIY store looking for a new “bottom-fill” valve assembly.

After much hunting about he found a side fill valve assemble and went and paid valid coin of the realm before remembering that he needed “bottom-fill”. Returning to the plumbing section he sought said item – but none was on show. He accosted one of the zombies who shuffle round the store and he confirmed that there wasn’t one on show.

“But might you have one in the stock room?” the Gorse Fox dared to ask. There was a long pause whilst this question was parsed and computed. The zombie admitted they might have, and shuffled off towards the tills.

He shuffled back. “Yes, we should have some. Would you like me to get you one?”. The answer seemed obvious and GF curbed his rising need for sarcasm, and said “Yes, that would be most kind”. The zombie shuffled off.

Some time later the zombie shuffled back and handing over one item to the Gorse Fox started to replenish the shelves with the others. Anyone else fancying a “bottom-fill” today should be accommodated “off the shelf”.

Returning home, GF drained the cistern and removed the old valve assembly and float and installed the new one. The dripping from the in-fill was soon stopped and the cistern filled. Slowly. Very slowly. In fact, there are glaciers that move more quickly that the cistern fills and float rises… and when it does rise, it won’t seem to shut the valve.

Much fiddling later, GF has given up.

Should have called Keith the Plumber to start with.

Saturday, September 24, 2011


The Gorse Fox was alerted by the Silver Vixen that the Sky decoder didn’t seem to be working in the kitchen. This was a pain, and a little investigation lead the Gorse Fox to conclude that the power unit had failed. At least, that is what the collective knowledge of the internet “hive mind” conclude.

Some time was spent looking for replacement units – but the conclusion was that this was about to cost more than GF was willing to pay.

Sleeping on it, the Gorse Fox realised that all of the TV and Radio channels that are generally used in the kitchen are also available on Freesat – and that the record function is never used in the kitchen.

Several hours later we now have HD-quality TV delivering 173 TV and Radio channels, and the man from Sky has cancelled our multi-room subscription. Most satisfactory.

Friday, September 23, 2011

A cliché, but TGIF

Well that was a week! But at least, being Friday, the Gorse Fox has been able to work from home. This means that: there was no commute, there was tea and coffee whenever required without taking out a mortgage to pay for it, and there was a fast and reliable broadband service.

The Silver Vixen has swooped off with several of her coven to torment the people of Littlehampton as they invade a local hostelry and partake in some devilish broth or other.

The Gorse Fox is set for a quiet evening with the TV and the internet, having already enjoyed a curry to keep body and soul together.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Happy Birthday

Today is the anniversary of the Silver Vixen and Gorse Fox being blessed with the first addition to our family. Cousteau-cub was late, but when she arrived she was the most beautiful thing the Gorse Fox had seen in his life. Ever since that day, she has filled our lives. Near or far, Cousteau-cub is always in our thoughts.
Happy Birthday.


That was a night! The Gorse Fox clambered into bed and drifted off to sleep. It had been a satisfactory day, and a quiet evening. he had stuck his neck out and gone to Giraffe's for dinner - some chicken quesadillas seemed like a good idea at the time, then back to the hotel to watch some TV before bed.

Ninety minutes later, he was awake. A spot of indigestion was causing a degree of discomfort. Pillows rearranged, and a glass of water quaffed, he settled back down.

Two hours later the hotel fire alarms went off. These are not the sort that can be ignored. They are loud klaxons that had the denizens of the local cemetery asking what was going on. GF collected his thoughts (he had left them scattered across the spare bed) and dressed quickly. A glance in the mirror revealed a headless chicken in a Berghaus jacket wandering around aimlessly. The alarm stopped.

GF returned to bed.

The alarm restarted.

The Gorse Fox got up

The alarm stopped.

The Gorse Fox returned to bed... And so it continued for about 30 minutes.

The rest of the night was undisturbed, but GF was displeased by rapid progress of time and the sudden appearance of six o'clock.

As he checked out of the hotel he commented that he didn't remember requesting an alarm call. The comment soared above the head of the receptionist, wasted.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

End of Lull

The Gorse Fox should have known that the lull was only temporary. Today the client decided that their management of technical issue was not going well. As a result their list was dumped on the Gorse Fox to add to his well manicured, beautifully crafted, well managed, and until today ever-diminishing list.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


The Gorse Fox is not impressed. yesterday's blog post seems to have gone missing. now he will have to try to remember what he wrote about and try and retrieve the situation.

Today has been pretty good, considering. The weather was fairly poor, but that doesn't matter if you spend the day indoors. Much of the day was spent drawing a sort of timeline showing the various stages of our new approach to the project and highlighting the difficult problems that we still face. Very satisfying.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Towelling Shoulders

The Gorse Fox had a good run across country, though some parts were slower than others. The day itself was fairly quiet by recent standards, the Gorse Fox finally seems to off the critical path for the forthcoming stages of the project.

Rumour is evidently spreading regarding GF having a towelling shoulder. Yet again he had a very difficult call from a colleague that ended with virtual tears dripping from the phone. Great shame that people can get to such a level of stress, and a shame that so many people have to spend so much time away from the families, and how this can have a terrible impact on relationships. Gorse Fox can't help but be thankful for the support, good humour, friendship, and love of the Silver Vixen.

Sunday, September 18, 2011


The Gorse Fox mentioned to “Rick Wakeman” that he loved the music from the old TV programme – Midnight Caller. Well, Rick tracked it down, and the Gorse Fox is now downloading several albums of the most brilliant “late night jazz”.

Can’t wait to get a chance to listen to them.


There is something immensely satisfying about a weekend where the Forces of Darkness capitulate and implode and Spurs beat Liverpool 4-0.

Saturday, September 17, 2011


There have been several tragedies in the past few days that are worthy of mention.

Firstly, the Gorse Fox has been moved by the loss of the four miners in South Wales. What a terrible thing for the families and friends – and a sobering reminder to us all of the risks that miners take across the world on a daily basis to extract minerals for our consumption.

Also we hear, this morning, of the tragic crash of the vintage P51 into the crowd at the Reno air show. As with several high-octane sports and shows the spectators expect a degree of risk from the pilots, or drivers, or riders. They don’t expect, however, to become involved or become victims. Again, a sobering moment and the Gorse Fox’s thoughts are with the families and friends of those involved.


The case for GF’s re-certification is complete and finally submitted. Still jumping through hoops.

Friday, September 16, 2011


Somehow, motivation was hard to come by. There was admin to do and GF is not known for his travels within the adminisphere. Expenses came first, but it was not a usual clean sweep – oh no. Starfleet’s corporate card dictates the expenses that can be claimed, and so the Gorse Fox is still a week or so out of date. No doubt this saves someone a few pounds.

On the subject of motivation, the Gorse Fox has been looking forward to attending an education session next week. This has long been scheduled and the diary kept clear. Starfleet, in its infinite wisdom, has now cancelled (not postponed) the course – thus making a mockery of the exercise we are forced to go through each year to identify the development plans for the year.

The Gorse Fox also noted that another course was cancelled, and that the notification did not arrive until late evening. He wonders how many people will not check their mail over the weekend, and turn up from all over the country anyway!

Thursday, September 15, 2011


The focus this week has been firmly on preparation for a Board meeting next week. This continued today with several opportunities to “socialise” the material in advance – and make adaptations accordingly.

Most successful.

GF got roped into a late afternoon meeting which was an interesting challenge as it was introducing some significant new requirements into our project. This is likely to need some attention in the next few days.

The late meeting meant that GF was late leaving Bristol and consequently caught up in slower traffic than usual. He was home, however, in plenty of time to see the new Billy Connolly series begin with his travelogue of Route 66 as it starts in Chicago (a fabulous city) and winds down through Illinois. GF loves the quirky way BC sees the world and thoroughly enjoys these road trips.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Slide Deck

Much of the day was spent fighting with ideas and PowerPoint slides, and trying to find the best way of getting those ideas into a format that would make a real difference to the client.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Early meeting

The Gorse Fox had an early meeting, but the rest of the day was fairly quiet. There was a steady stream of calls, and work to do in preparation for a Board meeting next week, but nothing that would count as frantic. Unfortunately, the network was particularly unreliable and this was a source of serious frustration.

Work done, GF headed for Cribb's Causeway and sauntered in to TGI Friday's for some salad, ribs, and a glass of wine.

Back at the hotel, GF called the Silver Vixen for a chat, then settled down for a quiet evening nursing an incipient cold and listening to one of his books.

Monday, September 12, 2011


Travel tribulations terminated. Gorse Fox is now ensconced in his hotel awaiting room service.

Normal service will be resumed

The Gorse Fox had to visit Starfleet in London. This meant and early train and then several hours in the Board Room discussing the technical and financial efficacy of significant programme. Really interesting working hypotheses, and significant requirement for design skills.

Leaving Starfleet GF headed for the train in order to get back to Sussex as soon as possible and pick up his car for the trip across to Bristol. Murphy (the famous lawmaker) stepped in at this point. He decided that the Gorse Fox should spend the afternoon on a wide selection of trains and platforms on his journey South. The injection of Emergency Engineering works at Clapham meant that 90 minutes into the journey he was awaiting the third train and had only got as far as Croydon.

Once on the right train the itinerary was changed again and then train rescheduled to terminate four stops short of GFs destination and Murphy deemed this would be a 4 train trip.

Let's hope the drive across country is less irksome.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Family photos

Much of the day has been spent with yesterday's photos. Firstly it was a matter of loading them, then going through and identifying all of the people in each of the 100+ photos, then uploading them to a web album.

Finally it was time to share them with all of the participants in yesterday's shin dig.

Saturday, September 10, 2011


Families are strange. For some people they are merely an accident of birth, and mean little. For others they are the nucleus of their existence. With travel being what it is today, and the requirement to go to where the work is, families can become stretched into a global diaspora.

The Silver Vixen’s family are geographically less dispersed than that of the Gorse Fox – and are good at maintaining some contact. So it is that today 30 or more of us will be meeting up for an (almost) annual get-together.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Friday on my mind

Gorse Fox was up early. Lots to do.

Documents to review, documents to write, documents to re-write for others and the usual calls to handle and re-prioritisations to cope with. One colleague said that he could see the light at the end of the tunnel. The Gorse Fox looked – it was just a ventilation shaft, and the darkness returned.

There are a number of frustrations that never seem to recede – the fact that Starfleet will not (easily) provide some of the basic tools such a tricorders and phasers; the fact that may colleagues seem totally unable to use these basic tools of the trade (putting a phaser on “stun” then throwing it at an alien is not an informed use of the tool); not having enough ensigns to man a Starship. All of these conspire to make Friday evening the highlight of the week as the relief sets in and sound of head banging against brick wall starts to recede.

Time to go and wrap the Gorse Fox round a fine glass of wine.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Back home

Being Thursday, the Gorse Fox has managed to escape the vicissitudes of Bristol and return to the warm embrace of West Sussex.

Work was actually quite good, possibly because many of the GF's colleagues were away at an event. The day progressed without interrupt and huge progress was made.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

How to offend

The Gorse Fox had a foul day. The sheer volume of work became almost overwhelming as GF tried to juggle the requirements of the various streams of the programme without any resources to do it. Meanwhile everyone seems to have a new top priority... And seems to believe that their priorities should also be those of the Gorse Fox. In general he would be sympathetic to this, if he had any resources to allocate. As he hasn't, his patience is a little strained.

At the hotel he phoned the Silver Vixen, then headed out for something to eat. In the lift he bumped into a colleague. "Are you joining us all for dinner?" he asked. GF responded "after the day he has had, the last thing he wants is an evening talking business with colleagues" and having offended everyone he wandered off to Piccolino.

He picked a quiet table and ordered. Two girls came in and sat at the next table. One accused the other of being a man-eater, the Gorse Fox shuffled a little further away in his chair, ate his dinner and thanking them for the entertainment left and headed back to the hotel. However, he does seem to have a standing invite to Brasserie Blanc, where the man-eater seems to work!

Tuesday, September 06, 2011


The Evening Standard reports that Gwyneth Paltrow admires people who have had extra-marital affairs. What a strange thing to say.


What a change!

During dinner last night the Gorse Fox volunteered to drop the day job for a few days and get on with some strategic thinking. As a result he has spent the day developing some slides to explain the realities of complex programme and an alternative approach to what we are doing.

With the day done, the Gorse Fox spent some quality time with grilled chicken and some of Caesar's left over salad. Now back at the hotel he's settling down to watch the football.

Monday, September 05, 2011


The Gorse Fox has spent a busy day fighting the network, but back at the hotel he was able to rely on 3G. Meeting up with rest of the management team we went to an Asian restaurant for a working dinner. Surprisingly good night really.

Up and down

The blasted network at the client site has been up and down like a Portuguese footballer in the penalty area.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Tech Day

The day seems to have revolved around technology. There were photos to upload from yesterday first.


This was a row of beach huts near Ferring that we wandered past yesterday, whilst out for a pot-prandial stroll with Betty and Barney Rubble.

Once the photos were uploaded, it was a matter of getting the Silver Vixen’s photos from her phone to he iPad and her computer, and doing a mind-meld between  her iPod and the iTunes library on said computer. This would all have been simple if it wasn’t for Apple’s propensity to download updates to iTunes (45 minutes), to the iPod (5-10 minutes), the iPad (45 minutes) and the iPhone (45 minutes).

Despite the huge delays, everything went to plan, and while the airwaves were being saturated by bloated code, the Gorse Fox cracked on with the re-certification case he has been working through. A few hours later he sent it off for review (before final submission) and slammed the laptop shut in relief.

The Gorse Fox hears that Agent Mulder has picked up an alien virus. Treatment is under way, but rather unpleasant – hope it all goes well.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Productive Start

The Gorse Fox has had a productive start to the day. The papers have been read, new driving license form completed, driven in to town and driving license renewed, back home and changed the BT deal that provides our telephone service – additional features and lower price.

Good start.

Betty and Barney Rubble are expected later.

Friday, September 02, 2011


Looking forward to the weekend after a very busy week. Would like to say that everything is under control - but that would be delusional.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Gift Horse

It was a strange day. The Gorse Fox’s first meeting was at seven fifteen and by seven thirty, a colleague was waiting patiently for his second meeting.  It was looking like a busy day.

The phone rang. It was one of Starfleet’s most senior designers asking if the Gorse Fox would be interested in a new role. Would he take over as the lead designer for a major Government department – on a long term basis – specifically till he retires. Interesting opportunity, without doubt, but the Gorse Fox politely declined. The job would mean spending 4 days each week away from home and living much too far west for his comfort!

Soon after the phone rang again. Another request. Would GF participate in the design review of another Government sponsored project. Sounded very interesting and would only take a couple of days of GF’s time.

Once the calls had finished it was back to document reviews and feedback. Who says geeks don’t live on the edge?