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 canapés, 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.