Monday, February 28, 2011

Last Goodbye

There is no question. The Gorse Fox’s family knows how to throw a funeral. Ok, we’ve had plenty of practise over the years, after all. (All our predecessors have died!). But we excelled when it came to the Bishop.

Arundel Cathedral was full – the choir was in good voice, and the concelebrants oversaw the proceedings as we celebrated a life well-lived. You might expect sorrow and sobbing. That is not our way. It was solemn, but up-beat. Up-lifting, yet light-hearted and GF’s cousin read out a brilliantly crafted eulogy that had the assembled throng smiling and chuckling.

We followed the coffin, in procession down to the cemetery. Walking behind the hearse, breathing deeply of its exhaust the Gorse Fox noticed that this wasn’t just any exhaust, this was Rolls Royce exhaust. At the grave-side the coffin was committed to the earth in plot above the town with views out to sea (not that the Bishop will notice). A muffled ring could be heard from a mobile phone – was it the Bishop’s? We never found out as it was soon muted.

The Bishop’s immediate family left the grave and went to thank the priests and the choir. Gorse Fox noticed his aunt kissing the choir girls and realised this was an aspect of the funeral he hadn’t expected. He pointed this out to his brother-in-law and commented “this could take some time”. As he turned the Silver Vixen explained that this was not expected of all the congregation and he should get back in his box. (An interesting turn of phrase given the circumstances).

Everyone mustered in the Norfolk Arms for tea and cake and GF, the Silver Vixen and Urban-cub got the chance to catch up on the lives and loves of both close and distant cousins and their families. It was a lovely afternoon and we resolved to set up a major family “do” in 2012 – this time not requiring anyone to be buried as part of the event.

As we all broke up Gorse Fox’s tiny sister and her husband agreed to join us for a meal before heading back to the wilder parts of Berkshire.

Resting

The Bishop will be laid to rest this afternoon.

Whilst discussing the details, GF’s tiny sister asked where the burial will be. GF revealed that it will be in Arundel Cathedral’s Cemetery. “How come he gets to be buried there?” she asked. “Because he’s dead.” explained the Gorse Fox.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Result

What a great set of results. Liverpool lost and failed to gain points on nched Spurs, Man City drew but only inched forward, and best of all Birmingham crushed the forces of darkness in the Carling Cup Final.

Plan B?

The Gorse Fox and Silver Vixen started with a bit of spring clean ready for the afternoon’s house showing. This also meant a trip to the local “Recycling Facility” – but this was early enough to miss the crowds. A stop at the estate agent was also called for… we had noticed their details claimed the living room was 6 foot something or other long. GF suspects this could be a drawback for most people. In fact, they had dropped the the 3 from the actual 36 foot something.

After the viewing (which seemed positive, but GF doubts it will result in a sale) GF & SV headed out in the car to look at some alternatives which may be necessary as a Plan B.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Searching

The Gorse Fox and Silver Vixen have been searching the web for alternatives in case the house that we have been targeting falls through.

Doesn’t seem to be a lot choice in this area of West Sussex at present. It’s not that there aren’t some developments, its more a case of finding a development with a large enough property and with the house on the right orientation to have (small) garden that gets plenty of sun.

Frustrating.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Pooh

The agent called from the development company. They are retracting our reservation as we have not yet had an offer.

The Gorse Fox and Silver Vixen are not amused.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

For Goodness Sake

The Silver Vixen and Gorse Fox stopped off for a meal as we returned towards home. Somehow fish and chips seemed the order of the day. The Gorse Fox would, however, point out that this is Sussex. Fish and Chips do NOT come with mushy peas in Sussex. If the Gorse Fox had wanted mushy peas, he would have worn a flat cap, bought a whippet, and filled the bath with coal.

Environs

The weather was better and it seemed like a suitable opportunity to stroll around and get a feel for the village that (with luck) could become the new base for the Gorse Fox and Silver Vixen.

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The first stop was the beach. The proposed new house is a little way inland, so it was worth finding where we could gain access to the beach and what it was like.

There were several free car parks and access to the beach was easy enough and it was topped by a well maintained promenade edging the greensward.

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In fine old English seaside style, the promenade was backed with colourful beach huts – all painted in similar colours which gave both a regimented but also aesthetically uniform view.

It was clear that in heavy weather, the sea sometimes tops the beach as there were several flood barriers and also a number of places where the shingle had been washed across the promenade.

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We cut inland, wandering along the pretty lanes of seaside villas (much like home), then looped back towards the village centre and charming parish church that stands sentinel over the pretty High Street.

There was a nice feel to the area and even the kids (on half term break) playing in the streets were smartly dressed and well-spoken.

We were impressed. This would suit us well – all we have to do now is sell our current house! Anyone want to buy a spacious, light and airy (5-bedroom) bungalow; just a few yards from the beach, on a private, secure and secluded estate?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Patisserie

When the tour of the various shops was complete the window of Maison Blanc proved too much of a temptation. The Silver Vixen dragged the Gorse Fox through to the inner sanctum where she forced him to share a pot of tea and a blueberry and lemon square. He resisted as best he could, but it was no use.

As we sat and chatted it dawned on the Gorse Fox that there was an abomination which only occasionally impinges on his consciousness. This abomination has obviously escaped from one of the deeper circles of hell and it had taken up residence in the music player. Just as the fallen angel is know as Lucifer, so this is known as the Accordion. As we sat, the insidious beast wailed away in the background disguised as mood music. Like Country & Western, this should be put a stop to. It is neither appropriate nor acceptable in good, polite society.

As the Gorse Fox was pondering these truths an elderly lady, sitting next to us, interjected into our discussion of February weather. Firstly, he should make apologies, she was partly Welsh - but she then proceeded to ramble in a series of coherent but completely unconnected thoughts for the next thirty minutes. Her excuse seemed to be her heritage (see above) and the fact that she was 59 on Saturday. GF was taken aback. He was 59 yesterday. Is the onset of decrepitude that quick? Has he really only got until Friday? Time will tell.

Gorse Fox paid for the tea and pastries, and also paid for the "old" lady. Unnerved, he made apologies and we left.
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Chichester

The weather reamined grey and overcast. Rain fell sporadically (to remind us what it must be like to live in the North). Being hardy soulds the Gorse Fox and Silver Vixen ventured out anyway.

As Chichester is likely to be the nearest big town to the proposed new house, it seemed like an opportunity to wander about and see what was there. Of course the market cross and the Cathedral dominate the town. Several other things became immediately apparent: people are generally smartly dressed, there is a nicer class of youth hanging around, the shops have a bit more variation, and the rain is just as wet.


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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Help

Sometimes you just don't want any help!
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Playing

It has been a bit grey - one of those days where there is no semblance of colour in the sky, no highlights, no shadows, and photgraphic colour just gets washed out. The Gorse Fox wanted to play with the new camera but there was little to hand that would do it justice.

In the end GF tried a picture from the bedroom looking out over the garden.
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Snap

The Gorse Fox has treated himself to a new camera for his birthday. The man from the Royal Mail has just knocked on the door and handed over the package from Mr Amazon.

GF is very excited… but that has to be tempered with battery charge time, and the fact that the high-density SD card hasn’t yet turned up (will have to use an old spare for now).

Hex

Frodo, who now lives in California and is doing his level best to drink the vineyards dry, reminds the Gorse Fox of the advantages of different counting systems. Most people that attended school in the first three-quarters of the last century will be familiar with decimal – a counting system based on 10. In the world of computers we frequently use a system based on 16, called hexadecimal and often indicated with an “x” prefix or suffix on a number.

The reason this has come up? Well Frodo, like the Gorse Fox is celebrating the passing of another year. Frodo is significantly older than GF, being in his x40’s whereas GF is still firmly planted in his x30’s.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Contact

Gorse Fox managed to spend about 30 minutes on Skype with Cousteau-cub. This was nice as it had been a while since we had spoken… even if we had exchanged messages on the web. It’s clear that she’s very busy at present – starting her day between five and six and working through until ten or eleven at night. The Coventry-Hobbit is recovering from his broken clavicle, but it’s only 2 weeks into the 6y week recuperation.

GF also managed to speak to his little sister. Unfortunately her Skype doesn’t have video (as it would need to be a microscope), but the audio was working fine. She’s tired after her procedure, and seeing double at times. But its good to know she’s on the mend.

Apparel

First day of the Gorse Fox’s vacation was quiet and restrained. With next week’s funeral planned, Silver Vixen wanted some suitable apparel. This meant a trip to the cathedral of St Michael… and so we headed off to Holmbush.

Suitable clothing was selected and we headed back home.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Waiting

The Gorse Fox notices, from the Press, that invites for the Royal Wedding have been sent out. Obviously there is a problem at the local sorting office as our invitation has not arrived as yet… but Gorse Fox supposes it may have become mixed up with the backlog of birthday cards that the Royal Mail is obviously holding back for “on the day” delivery.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Home

It seems as if Gorse Fox’s teeny, tiny sister has managed to climb up onto her phone and trample out a text message to the Silver Vixen confirming that all went well and she is back home.

eBay

Gorse Fox is feeling smug. Two single beds, bought when we first moved in, have just sold on eBay. Just waiting for the winners to make contact. GF is pleased as he got more than expected.

Bully for you

The Gorse Fox notices that the political thug and bully, Ed Balls, has been shouting his mouth off. He has been accusing Mervyn King of being too political.

What he actually means is that Mervyn King (Governor of the Bank of England) has actually agreed with the assessments of the IMF and major economists that the current extreme deficit reduction plans were the best way forward. He said:

This country needs a fiscal consolidation starting from its largest peace-time deficit ever

A deficit that was created by Ed Balls' colleagues during their "spend, spend, spend" period in government. For the sake of all of our futures, let's hope they never get back back into power.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Done

The Gorse Fox signs off from his work laptop a few minutes early. A week’s staycation starts here.

Going to the top

The Gorse Fox woke up with something on his mind. Fingers flew over the keyboard and next this he know he had written to the Prime Minister:

Dear Mr Cameron

I suppose that in times like these you rarely get a letter or comment that says "Well done". I would like to put that right. I think that the way in which the recent issue regarding sale of forestry land was handled was excellent. Why? Because the Government proposed a public consultation, listened to the response, and changed the proposal. Best of all, Ms Spelman, on behalf of the Government, had sufficient backbone to say "We listened, we got it wrong, and we will not pursue this course of action". How refreshing that we were not bombarded with spin explaining why the public was wrong and the Government was going ahead anyway.

I once worked for a CEO who said he would make decisions and make mistakes. He would admit when they were mistakes, and we would adapt. In a time like this, when the probity of Government is under continual attack, honesty such as this is is just what's needed.

(As a footnote, I should probably add that I did not have strong feelings either way on the forestry issue - so my response is not brought about just because of the change in policy).

Yours Sincerely

Well, credit where it is due! Peter Bottomley gave a ministerial answer once saying, "I'm sorry, I made a mistake." That was not duplicated once during the 13 years of the Labour Government. (But then they would never make a mistake would they? Iraq, sale of gold, budget deficit, destruction of pension, unfettered immigration, Lisbon Treaty, ECHR… no nothing there to apologise for!!!)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Psst…

Another day another project to review. For a change, GF had to stir himself and make his way to the distant extremes of Hampshire. There he sat and listened to a description of the problem that Starfleet was trying to solve for the client and then picked his way through the technical solution that his colleagues had developed. He made a couple of interventions that may simplify things, but in essence he was impressed by the thought that had gone in to the solution.

The Urban-cub is at home this evening… always nice to see her and hear all of the latest gossip from her work. Suspect that there’ll be some more headlines before too long, judging by what is going on.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Good luck

The Gorse Fox would like to wish his tiny sister all-the-best.

Don’t start from here

The Gorse Fox reviewed the outline of a project. An ambitious project. A project with a fixed end-date. An end-date that cannot be negotiable and has the continued “license to operate” contingent on success. The sort of project that makes heroes – or ends careers.

He asked what “Plan B” was – in case things should be delayed.

“Ah! Plan B was that we start a major transformation of the systems involved – three years ago”

They didn’t. So they may need to consider a Plan C! Gorse Fox sees this as an opportunity for someone (not him) to work night and day for the next 22 months – away from home, getting “advice” and being “reviewed” by Starfleet on a weekly basis.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Where the heart is

The Gorse Fox was continued his streak of luck, working from home. It looked, for a while, as if he may have to go to Bristol on Wednesday, but that was not needed in the end.

He has now managed to unpick all of the tasks that he believes will be needed to complete his mission – once the contract is signed. This has not made the task any less daunting – but does allow it to be bitten off in delicate mouthfuls rather than huge chunks.

Late in the day he was asked to look at a very similar project for one of the big banks. This was a significantly larger challenge – and it has some hard deadlines. With an adequate team it should be possible – but the question is whether sufficient resources can be mobilised.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Quiet Start

It has been a quiet start to the week. The Gorse Fox was able to devote most of the day to reading the background documents for the new project. It is looking like a good challenge, and GF will have some 400+ systems to re-platform across 3 different computing architectures over about 18 months.

GF needs to work out what sort of team he will need to assist him. Ultimately he will own the problem, but will need help in pulling it all together.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Local Derby

The Gorse Fox and Silver Vixen tidied things away (just in case the agents had any viewers during the day) and then headed off to the wilds of Hampshire to visit Betty and Barney Rubble.

It was pouring as we headed across country and the roads were waterlogged. Coffee was awaiting us – so we made good and steady progress.

We were brave enough to go back to the restaurant near Odiham that had given such appalling service last time. This time we were one of three tables occupied… but still it took them 30 minutes to get the starters to the table. To be fair though, the rest went smoothly and the food was fine.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Farewell

And so it came to pass that the spark that still glowed in the embers flickered, diminished to a glow, then disappeared. The Bishop left us to join his brothers and parents at four o’clock this morning.

He had led a good life, with a spell in the Navy at the end of the War, a successful career in business that took him to the pinnacle of one of the world’s most prestigious companies, and a peaceful retirement here in West Sussex. He leaves a wife, three grown up children, and a number of grandchildren.

Farewell, and the Gorse Fox promises to do his best as responsibility moves down a generation and he becomes the new Patriarch of the family.

Friday, February 11, 2011

TGIF

It was a peculiar week in the intra-bellum between projects. The new one hasn’t quite kicked off properly and the old one is truly over.

Much of the day has been spent dealing with personnel (human cannon fodder) issues. The great and the good have deigned to provide us with guidance for the year and tell us how important our role is in managing people. So important that, whilst they acknowledge how much work is involved, they still expect it to be done predominantly in your own time. It would be nice to come out with a trite “that’s why they pay such big money”… but that would not be wholly correct.

Meanwhile, the Bishop is still hanging on… that spark is still burning hot in the embers of what was once a great man and patriarch of the family.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Time ticks by

The weather has been atrocious – it has been dark, overcast, and very wet. If the Gorse Fox had wanted that sort of weather he would have remained by the Welsh borders, or moved up north.

Fortunately, GF was working from home, and so the weather was not an inconvenience. It did mean that he managed to get lots of admin sorted out in preparation for the new project – though he has backlog of reading to worry about soon.

At lunchtime, GF charged across to Worthing Hospital to visit the Bishop. Despite the warnings of last night he is still hanging on, picking his moment when he should join the choir invisible. Two of GF’s young cousins were there, taking turns to hold vigil. Clearly, they are prepared for the inevitable – this is something the family tend to handle well, with dignity and with strength.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Flickering

News from the hospital is not good. It would seem that the spark that lights the Bishop is flickering. Not expected to survive the next 24 hours… and today was his birthday.

Property

It is always interesting to see how people describe your home.

Agent details certainly seem good and the photos seem to draw out some of the best bits. The second agent’s photos are better still, but there seems to be no direct link available, it is a matter of traversing his site to find them.

Vacation

Gorse Fox has quite a few days of vacation to consume by the end of the financial year, and so today was taken to erode the balance further. As it happened this was a good day to choose as the man arrived first thing to calculate the energy rating for the house, and soon after he left the glaziers arrived to replace some blown units and fit a new window in the utility.

We [popped along to view progress on the new house, and were pleased to see that the scaffolding was coming down – this means that the building is now secure and second fix can commence.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Fresh

Today saw the Gorse Fox visit a new client for the first time. It was good to start something fresh.

Meanwhile back at home the vinyl got laid in the en-suite… so we are nearly done.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Civilisation

The family weekend came to a close – but there was no hurry. The Silver Vixen started the day with a sauna. GF was not so enthused so headed to Hay-on-Wye with a trunk full of empty bottles and cans for re-cycling.

We headed back towards Sussex. It was a good run and by the time we got back, the Urban-cub was waiting with the Gorse Puma (fresh back from the Cattery).

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Pooling

Back at The Croft we had some lunch, then the Gorse Fox grabbed a towel and trunks and headed for the indoor pool. He had the place to himself as the rest of the family were still eating. This was a very pleasant hour, pottering back and forth – enjoying the warmth of the water and peace and quiet of the solitude. The Silver Vixen came across and sat poolside whilst reading a magazine.

A lovely way to pass an hour

Sibling

The Gorse Fox assumes this is the less wealthy daughter of the Hilton clan
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Incursion

The family were all up and about early (considering how it was before many went to bed). After the various breakfast shifts or sittings we all split up to do our own thing.

The Silver Vixen and Gorse Fox headed northwards to Hay-on-Wye. It's famous for its book festival, so we thought it probably worth the visit. Certainly from a car traveller's perspective it is nothing to talk about - but parking up and exploring on foot revealed a charming little village.

There were lots of alleyways, nooks, crannies, and a plethora of craft shops as well as the obvious book shops.




After exploring for a while we stopped for a coffee and headed back to the car. Bravely, we decided to continue our incursion beyond the border, in Wales. We headed out towards Brecon and then turned off towards Abergavenney. The Gorse Fox commented that he now knew how Frodo must have felt on the last leg of his journey to Mordor. The countryside was bleak in the heavily overcast skies. As the journey continued we hardly saw another car, and even the villages we passed through seemed deserted.

Finally, we arrived at Abergavenny. A few natives were wandering about and there were some signs of modern life, such as electricity. We saw several youths fighting over a gadget - which on closer inspection turned out to be a stick.


Fortunately, we were not too far from the border and we headed back. As we passed the "Welcome to England" sign we congratulated ourselves on a successful incursion and the fact that we had evidently not been detected.
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Saturday, February 05, 2011

Plans

Plans change.

The original idea was that we would all invade some rural restaurant, but in practice this was proving to be difficult to set up. A much easier solution is to pass round the menu from the local Chinese Take-away and go and fetch something.

So it was that the Gorse Fox found himself with his gorgeous niece cruising across the minor roads of Herefordshire to find the restaurant from which we had ordered. At first he thought his Sat Nav was being obtuse in selecting such a route – but checking the map, it is clear that it really was a bit of a devil to get to.

The little Chinese lady greeted us with a huge smile and two huge boxes of food. GF smiled, said thanks and asked how he would get them onto the back of his bike. A look of panic spread across her face before she realised he was joking.

Having parted with a significant pile of coins of the realm we left the aforementioned restaurant and headed back to the collective bosom of the family and settled down in the huge dining room to enjoy dinner and finish off with the cake that had been prepared for the occasion.

A fine evening, but it was a shame that Cousteau-cub couldn’t have been with us – even on Skype. Talking of Cousteau-cub, we were sad to hear that the Coventry Hobbit had to take evasive action whilst on his motor-propelled bike last night. As a result of the evasion and the inevitable pull of gravity (Newton has a lot to answer for) he has broken his clavichord – and that’ll put an end to some obscure late night concerts – what?

Ah, the Silver Vixen just explained it was his clavicle not clavichord – that’s probably good as it would be a shame to damage such an historic instrument (the clavichord, I mean – not the Coventry Hobbit; though come to think of it it is a shame to damage him as he also is an instrument of great historic value)

Dore

After stopping off back at the The Croft for some lunch the Silver Vixen's mother and sister joined our happy band to head back out down the Golden Valley.

We were not going far, but had noticed on the map a sign for some 12th Century Cistercian ruins. Given we were here to celebrate the Mother-in-Law's birthday - GF though a trip to Cistercian Ruins may be nostalgic for her and may help her recall the times before the reformation when such Abbeys were magnificent.

Actually Abbey Dore was charming and is still used as the local Parish Church... and despite the booklets on its history it didn't seem to ring a bell.

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Pah!

Annoyingly, half way through the visit to Hereford, the Gorse Fox’s camera packed up totally… so most of the photos taken later in the trip were taken on the mobile phone.

Just quaint

The pubs and shops lined the small treets that surrounded the cathedral. What was nice was that though there were some of the familiar names you see in most towns, there many that seemed to by unique, or at least suitable regional as not to be familiar to us.

By the market square stood a classic black and white timbered building that had been rescued from Butcher's Row. It was nice to see that the council were clearly protective of their heritage.

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Hereford

The morning started slowly, with family emerging from different rooms at different times. Some braved the sauna, some swam, others worked their way through gallons of tea.

After a while we all headed off in different directions - Gorse Fox and the Silver Vixen decided that Hereford would be a great place to start... and so it proved to be. It was a charming old-styled county town dominated by its pocket-sized cathedral near the river.
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Friday, February 04, 2011

Highways

What a day that was.

Agents contacted us for permission to visit prior to showing people round. Our first real viewer turned up ( a cash buyer looking for a second home in Sussex) and meanwhile the Gorse Fox and Silver Vixen were trying to make the most of a quiet day.

Soon after lunch we hit the highways and bye-ways and made our way across to Haywards Heath where the Silver Vixen was subjected to some tests – all of which showed up entirely normal. Then we joined the Friday afternoon traffic and headed up the M23 onto the M25 and eventually headed west along the M4. Despite it being Friday rush hour, traffic was not too bad and our journey was steady if not quick. We diverted off at Swindon and just outside Gloucester, stopped for dinner at the Air Balloon.

Back on the road we made our way through the last 50 miles to the Herefordshire borders with Wales. A serious gale was blowing as we pulled into the driveway of the house the family had rented to celebrate the Silver Vixen’s mother’s 80th. The rest of the family were all there spread among the 10 bedrooms or so, the two or three lounges, the huge farmhouse kitchen, the dining hall, pool room, or swimming pool. This was one huge rambling house!

After greeting had been exchanged, a small libation had been taken, and first-fit gossip completed we all congregated in the pool room to play. It was clear that the Gorse Fox’s application of pure science and elegant mathematics as examined the angles of incidence and calculated the spin and stun required was no match for the evident misspent youth of so many other members of the gathering.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

First Hiccough

The first hiccough in the on-going maelstrom of household activity occurred when the flooring contractors turned up. They sorted out the landing carpet and laid hardboard in the en-suite, but the vinyl flooring had failed to arrive. Had to rebook.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Assessments

The Gorse Fox had to make his way up to the Starfleet offices in London. Starfleet has decided it wishes to further expand its corps of architects, and the Gorse Fox was working on the assessment panel. This involved technical assessment interviews for two of the victims candidates and then invigilating a collaborative exercise in which all of the candidates had to participate.

He was pleased to see the day go smoothly and some of the candidates looked as if they would make it to the Starfleet Academy.

Back home, progress was still huge. The Silver Vixen was going through like a whirlwind and the local charity shops and amenity recycling points were groaning under the weight of deliveries. It is absolutely astonishing the rate at which things are moving.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Intellectual Archaeology

It was a quiet day on the work front. Some CVs to read in preparation for tomorrow, some strategies to think through and some further memories to drag up from the distant past regarding some of the big mainframe computers. This latter part was deeply satisfying… personal, intellectual archaeology. If the Gorse Fox has to separate one part of a organisation from another, then merge it with a completely separate organisation – what are the challenges he will face where the electrons hit the circuits.

Meanwhile, the Silver Vixen continued her mission to de-clutter and sort ready for the marketing of the house, and this was interrupted by the chap coming to measure up and quote for some final floor coverings. Everything seems to be happening at breakneck speed. Let’s just hope the sale follows suit.