Sunday, March 31, 2013

Plan B

Morning spent searching the internet for suitable local building plots - if something was available, we could always design and build our new house.

Nothing really available - though with a substantial lottery win, it may be possible!

All change

Well it appears that the Gorse Fox and Silver Vixen have started something. Beloved Aunt has just written to tell us that she has managed to sell her house in Toronto and is moving into a lovely-looking condo not far from Cousin Claire. Meanwhile, closer to home, Badger and Mrs Tiggywinkle have put their "chocolate box" cottage in Devon on the market.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Eggs in baskets

With the impending arrival of significant funds from the sale of the house - and the fact that they will not be called upon immediately, the Gorse Fox and Silver Vixen have to consider the safest way in which to hang on to and protect said funds in the somewhat volatile market.

Some Premium Bonds are called for, but that only scratches the surface.

With the Government guaranteeing the first £85,000 of savings for each person in each institution - it was clear that we may need some additional accounts in order to spread our nest-eggs in a variety of baskets. To this end we trundled into nearby Goring-on-Sea and opened a couple of extra accounts (one each) with another institution. We almost have the coverage needed, but may need one further backstop - a spreadsheet is imminent.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Lists

Gorse Fox spent much of the day going through old papers and brochures - ensuring that we do not cart a load of unnecessary junk with us to our home. He also spent time scanning some the older material so that the paper versions could be shredded.

It's interesting when you start to think about who you need to inform of your change of address - obviously you look through your address book and let friends and family know - but who else? Well so far, the Gorse Fox had identified 51 separate organisation who need to be informed, and keeps remembering additions to the list.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Mac the Knife

As we lurch towards a moving date the pace of clean-up increases. The Gorse Fox stood by his shredder for much of the afternoon feeding old papers into the jaws of oblivion, whilst ditching the less sensitive papers  in the recycle bin. It seems clear that a lot of time could be saved if GF attached a shredder to the letter box - there are so few important items that actually arrive as atoms rather than bits nowadays.

GF also got the forms filled in for the rental of a new property - but will not actually release them until we have exchanged contracts on the house.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Heading home

Another good day at the office with meetings and calls which kept the Gorse Fox busy. Unfortunately, Gorse Fox wanted to download some software to enable him to gain access to a database where his new team has been storing data. Not a very successful exercise. The software downloaded ok, but will not install properly. Will have to try again when he gets home.

Gorse Fox is now sitting in Edinburgh Airport waiting for the plane home. A nice long weekend awaits.

Snow

It seems to have snowed in Edinburgh, over night. At least GF's twisted knee seems to be improving.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Starfleet

The Gorse Fox has spent the morning in the Edinburgh offices of Starfleet. Finally briefed he is ready to head down to the client office.

On the Bench

Somehow the Gorse Fox seems to have twisted his knee in the last 24 hours. He was hoping it would settle over night, but clearly it had different plans. Had the Gorse Fox not been in Edinburgh, he would probably have given Roy Hodgson a selection problem for tonight's game against Montenegro. Clearly the Gorse Fox couldn't play - but practically he may not even have made it to the bench.

Better go and do a day's work instead!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Houses

Working at home for much of the day and catching up on a lot of contractual mumbo jumbo. The Gorse Fox has now hopped on his airbus and is ensconced in his Edinburgh hotel ready for the morning.

We have let the estate agents know we liked the rental property we saw at the weekend. Now we just need to wait for exchange and agree to take on the rental.

Dreams, again?

Continuing the theme of dreams, Gorse Fox was confused by the appearance of the BBC Technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones in last night's epic. He emerged through the trees at the side the property (incidentally, there are no trees at the side of the property) and demanded we put in a car park large enough for five vehicles. Questioned why, he explained that everyone had to do this to provide space for their own private BBC correspondents.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Friends

Despite the weather that was affecting much of the country, it was only chilly and grey down here in the South. We headed off across the rolling hills of West Sussex and through the eastern limits of Hampshire in order to spend the day with Betty and Barney Rubble.

As usual we had a lovely day, and popped out for lunch. We, again, visited the Hoddington Arms in Upton Grey but were greeted by a full car park. This posed a problem as the overflow car park was a sea of mud and was consequently unused. The Gorse Fox dropped his passengers and, picking his spot, ventured into the quagmire. The only question was whether he would get out after the meal.

The menu was similar to that seen on our last visit - the pub, however, was much busier. This may account for why the meal didn't quite reach the levels of excellence we experienced last time. Don't misunderstand - it was fine, just not quite excellent.

Back in the car park the car had settled and the first attempt to move saw wheel spin. Some judicious rocking back and fort, however, and GF manoeuvred the vehicle out of the field and onto solid tarmac to pick up his companions and head back.

Eh?

Now the Gorse Fox should explain - he is one of those people who dreams (and remembers fragments thereof) most nights. There are some mornings when the residual images from the dream take a while to disperse and he sits and asks himself "Que?"

Last night he was struggling to get across a large lake, accompanied by a dog, in a flotilla of shoes. Yes shoes! He tried several of them and by the middle of the lake had plumped for a large motorised tennis shoe with a padded ankle collar. This proved to be the fastest and most comfortable vessel.

Losing it !

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Hunting

The day started well with a an online chat with Cousteau-cub - and getting the summarised gossip from the wedding. This seemed to feature fits of the giggles and good time for all.

Back home it was another day of house hunting. The first viewing went well - nice house, but spread over three floors and though each of us liked parts of it, neither liked all of it. I think this disappointed Urban-cub, as it was quite near to where she lives.

The next house, in Rustington, was a possible rental rather than purchase. This was a much better prospect - and the Gorse Fox expects that - should we not be beaten to it - we will try to move in there, for now.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Contracts and Admin

The day was spent with background reading of the contracts for the new project and going through the documents that have already been developed. Gorse Fox also chatted with the colleague who will be his "number two" and helped him get his head round the problem we will be trying to solve.

Then it was a matter of getting the authority to travel - and needless to say Starfleet have come up with a new online toll to replace the last online tool. It took a stupid amount of time to fill-in, but at least it was completed and all the authorisations received by the end of the day. (Good job really as GF had already booked his flights and hotels).

First photos of Cousteau-cub's wedding started to trickle out on Facebook. She looked stunning. Can't wait to see some more.

Crash

Starting the day with laptop crash does not bode well for a productive day's work. - Just saying!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Busy

Finishing off the old project and transitioning into the next project has been fun but the Gorse Fox has been distracted, thinking of Cousteau-cub and the Coventry Hobbit on their special day. If only we could have been there with them. Never mind. We'll see them in the summer.

Wedding

Today is a very proud day for the Gorse Fox and Silver Vixen. Cousteau-cub and the Coventry Hobbit are getting married. Clearly, we are not in Thailand with them - but we will be thinking of them throughout this very special day.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Satisfying

A very satisfying day in town. Gorse Fox met up with some colleagues at the London offices of the current client. The objective was to complete a read through of the document he has been working on with his team. It was also his valedictory meeting with this client as he moves on to a different project for the same organisation.

All in all it went very well. The document needs some work - but the content is all there. The main thrust of the changes will be stylistic. GF's team will pick those up.

He joined a conference call as he left the building and headed for the station - it appears that Starfleet has been asked to extend the work of GF's new project through several further phases. Edinburgh is likely to become like second home.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Around and about

It's been a day of bits and pieces and trips around and about.

The house hunt continued with a viewing of a property at lunchtime. Lovely flint-walled house, built only 4 years ago. However, it was too small and required more maintenance than GF was willing to invest. Then there was a trip to another development - but they had nothing that would suit us in a location that we would accept.

More to see on Saturday

Monday, March 18, 2013

Waiting

Much of today was spent waiting for a telephone call which eventually came at about five in the afternoon. Whilst waiting the Gorse Fox spent more time looking at options for accommodation and transport in Koh Lanta during the summer (their low season).

Once the options were laid out, he and the Silver Vixen returned to the house-hunt. We were looking for properties to rent, but also properties that we might purchase if they turn out to be better than our current target. This can be a frustrating search at times - and whilst there is a willingness to compromise a bit, some of the compromises that would be necessary were not acceptable. We did, however, find two potential purchase and one possible rental property and have made appointments for viewings.

Oh yes and we now have a putative moving date for late April. Panic begins to set in!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Stimulation

As the rain continues to fall from a grey sky, the Gorse Fox might struggle to believe he is isn't In Wales or Manchester or somewhere equally damp. He is buoyed up however, having chatted with Cousteau-cub this morning and heard all the latest news about this week's wedding. We only wish we could be there with her.

This and a a chat with Urban-cub stimulated the Gorse Fox into spending most of the day scanning web sites for flights and accommodation for a trip to Thailand in the summer. This time the plan is to take Urban-cub with us and to spend our 40th Wedding Anniversary out on the shores of the Andaman Sea. GF has found some decent deals, but also been disappointed by some of the results of what he had thought to be bright ideas. He has also left the same travel agency he used last time to do some research of their own and expects them to report back tomorrow. One big shame is that Air Asia have moved their Bankgok operation from the main airport (BKK) to the old airport (DMK) - this means that the timing don't really work out for cheap connecting flights.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Brighter

Well the day brightened up by late morning. Again, the Gorse Fox had spent time trawling through websites looking for suitable homes to rent until we get the house we want (either by waiting for it to be built, or finding a suitable alternative).

Several new alternatives arose. A couple at Middleton-on-Sea, one at High Salvington and a couple on Bramley Green (near Angmering). One of the houses at M-o-S looks like a possibility, but the others were all non-starters.

Stormy

It has been a stormy start to the day - there is a gale blowing in from the Channel and the rain is hammering at the back of the house.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Council Tax

The Gorse Fox's Council Tax Bill for the year has just arrived.

No - this isn't a moan.

This is a plaudit for our local councils:

  • West Sussex County Council: Increase over 2012 = 0%
  • Arun District Council: Increase over 2012 = 0%
  • Kingston Parish Council: Increase over 2012 = -2.5% (yes it went down)
  • Sussex Police Authority: Increase over 2012 = 0%
Well done

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Out and About

It was a bright, sunny, but chilly day. It was too nice to spend indoors - particularly when the forecast was for rain for the next few days.

A quick drive back towards Gatwick brought us to Nyman's Gardens. This is one of those National Trust properties that nestles in the countryside and could so easily be missed by the unwitting passer-by.

We followed the marked paths - the grassed areas were still very wet and spongy from this week's snow melt. There were clear signs of new growth, if not too much spring blossom at this point.



Nyman's itself was a grand house belonging to a wealthy family - but after being ravaged by fire much has remained as a ruined shell. It looks as if it should be a film set for a "Hammer House of Horror" production.

Despite the atmospheric condition of the ruins (and what remains habitable in the house), the National Trust look after the grounds and gardens with great care and attention.



This section of the Gardens looked as if it had been recently replanted. What was interesting to the Gorse Fox was the juxtaposition of the exotic plants with the remaining snow.

It was a lovely place to go for a stroll on bright spring day - all rounded off with some hot coffee and scones at the NT Restaurant.

Vacation

GF is luck enough to have a few days leave. Nothing specific is planned - but at least he won't be working!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

South

The Gorse Fox spent much of the day in the Starfleet office in Edinburgh. There was little point in going to the client as most of the people with whom GF normally interacts were down in London. By staying at Starfleet, GF was able to start the transition from his current project (which he finishes at the end of next week) to his new project which he starts the following Monday.

Unfortunately Project Zippy is already seeing some client behaviours that do not bode well for smooth project. GF may well be leaping into trouble from what has been an extremely civilised and pleasant engagement.

Things were a bit tight getting to the airport. The traffic in central Edinburgh was almost grid-locked. Fortunately once clear of the centre, things were much easier and the taxi driver made up lost time. Once at the airport the rest of the journey home was trouble-free.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Office

The day went well. Certainly better than it was for those stuck on the roads of Sussex. Edinburgh, though cold, was clear of snow. Once in the office the Gorse Fox managed to get a lot done and had several calls with colleagues.

Not really much to report.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Snow. Almost

The snow nearly caught the Gorse Fox. He left early to drive to Gatwick but the snow and traffic conspired to turn a 40 minute drive into 95 minutes. GF parked and hurried through security and straight to the gate.
The plane had to be de-iced and was delayed by an hour before being allowed to take off. We then heard that the airport had been closed behind us.
Edinburgh was much better. The snow had stopped and travel seemed normal.

Snow, Pah!

Gorse Fox has driven up to Milton Keynes to speak to a member of staff, and despite the snow it only took 2.5 hours. Now home again, the snow is falling harder as GF prepares to head out to catch his plane to Edinburgh.

Looking quite bleak at the moment!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Mother's Day

Much of today was spent in front of the computer monitor - Silver Vixen and Gorse Fox looking online for sale or rental properties that may fit the bill. Couple of rental opportunities showed up, and one meant taking a trip to find it - sometimes Google Maps don't quite cut the mustard!

Urban-cub had invited us round for dinner for Mother's Day so we had a pleasant few hours there (where the Gorse Fox had to help young Jake with his Maths mock-GCSE. (It's been a long time since 1968 and GF did his mocks!).

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Design

With the house sale still progressing The Gorse Fox and Silver Vixen will have to find somewhere to go when we move out of here. The house that we want to buy is unlikely to be built for another 12 months so Plan A was to look at renting. A new housing development on the northern edge of Worthing, snuggling beneath Cissbury Ring, was opened to the market today.

Gorse Fox had pre-booked to visit the development and we duly turned up to hear the marketing guff and to  see the show home. It is clear they will be nice houses - but it seems that the designers of today have had their common sense removed. Some examples:

  • Largest house - 5 bedrooms - has a single garage;
  • Largest house - smallest kitchen;
  • Study - too small for a desk and book shelves
  • Kitchens in three of the house designs have no room for stand-alone fridge
  • No evidence of structured cabling

On top of this there were little things that just shouted at the Gorse Fox:

  • There were some splits in the wood of the door architrave in one room
  • The baseboard heater grill was not square to the wall
  • The external utility access panels were not square

These were expensive houses - and even the show-house revealed questionable attention to detail.

Friday, March 08, 2013

Long but Good Friday

The great thing about Friday's is that the commute is limited to the distance between the Gorse Fox's kitchen and his study. Today there was a lot to get through... documents to complete and send to the client, resourcing to complete, a management call (new head of Division's first call), and loads of fiddly administrative tasks.

Without labouring the point, let's just conclude that it all went well and it has been a good day.

The Silver Vixen is out for the evening; GF suggested getting some armoured gloves (as she was going sewing) but she swears that she has learnt her lesson. Gorse Fox is just glad that she didn't decide to emulate Sleeping Beauty and sleep for one hundred years - his days of being Prince Charming may be on the wane.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Getting to the Point

It was wet and grey. It was not a morning to enjoy a walk through Edinburgh, dragging a wheeled suitcase down from The Mound, across Princes Street and up to Starfleet . This was a morning for a taxi... and a fifteen minute chat about the state of Scottish football and the resurgence of Hearts (in the taxi driver's dreams!).

An hour or so of planning and feed the all devouring monster that is Project Management was followed by another taxi down to the client's offices and a further session feeding the PM beast. Finally, GF was able to get on with some of his own work and finish interviewing several candidates to work on the programme. Looks like we will have a strong team once everyone is on board, but in the interim we are still managing to meet all of our interim deadlines and seem to be well respected by those for whom we are working.

Dreadful taxi ride to the airport - traffic was the worst that the Gorse Fox has experienced in Edinburgh - and the usual 20-25 minute ride took an hour. This was not a problem for the Gorse Fox, but it was a bit touch and go for one of his colleagues who was booked on an earlier flight. In the end we made it to the airport and he made it to flight by the skin of his teeth.

Meanwhile, back in Sussex the Silver Vixen was getting the needle. Quiet literally as she managed to manoeuvre her fabric under the sewing machine in such a way as to allow the machine to punch the needle right through her finger. Remaining calm she undid the needle from the machine and phoned Urban-cub who was on her way back from work, and able to take her to Worthing Hospital.

Needle and thread (yes it still had the thread stitched through the finger) safely removed, and finger bandaged, GF thinks she was more annoyed by the fact it was one of her good needles, than she was discomforted by the incident itself. By the time GF got home from Edinburgh the drama was over and all was  calm.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

RIP

Sorry to hear that Alvin Lee of Ten Year After has gone to meet his maker and gig with Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison

Trekking on

Wel the Gorse Fox started the day with a bracing walk from the hotel to Starfleet's office in Edinburgh. He had to meet with some colleagues and review their proposal for a future project, then meet with the ever-extending team for the current projects and work out what further resources were required.

All that done, the Gorse Fox walked down to the client's site to meet with his team and ensure that all was still proceeding as required.

Back at the hotel, Gorse Fox is preparing to go out for dinner with the team.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Feedback

Good day in the office. The Gorse Fox finished writing up some material which he sent to the client and received some very supportive feedback. Then he had a discussion regarding some planned changes to personnel and responsibilities and was again pleased to get some very positive feedback regarding his contributions and relationship with the client.

Much of the afternoon was spent in a video conference but finally the Gorse Fox escaped and made his way back to the hotel to call the Silver Vixen and then stroll round the corner to Nanyang for an excellent Malaysian meal.

Back in his room, the Gorse Fox is watching the champions league football.

Monday, March 04, 2013

What, again ?

The Gorse Fox got off the plane at Edinburgh. Tonight Edinburgh smells of chips!

What ?

The Gorse Fox overheard a snippet of conversation in Currys.

"I am looking for a printer" said the lady of uncertain years. The assistant went to help, ushering her in the direction of the printer displays. "I want a white one" she said without hesitation, explaining "I have a white cat, you see"

Encased in the Adminisphere

Monday seemed to be going well. The paper that the Gorse Fox had to prepare was drafted and and looking good. Meetings for tomorrow afternoon had been agreed, and bags were already packed for this evening's hop up to Edinburgh.

However this planet of pleasure was encapsulated in an adminisphere of pain. The Gorse Fox had to confirm benefit elections made last week, set up appeals meetings with some staff, check on the progress of performance improvement plans, and complete his own objectives for the year.

On top of all this GF seems to have mislaid a charging cable for his phone - heavens knows where it has gone - he was using is last week when transferring holiday photos to the computer. Annoying thing is that this is the spare that GF uses when travelling. The nice man at Mr Amazon is sending a new one, and GF will have to use his primary cable for this week's trip.

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Perfect

Sundays rarely get better than this. Slow cooker loaded, it bubbled away gently through the day. Some shopping was soon accomplished and then back home the Gorse Fox had to sort out some shared folders on the computers so that they were properly accessible and backed up automatically.

Then it got better still.

Spurs beat the Forces of Darkness in the North London derby and whilst the Gorse Fox was still basking in the pleasure of that, Beloved Aunt phoned with news and chat from Canada.

Saturday, March 02, 2013

Trips

Early and unexpected trip to Chichester as the Silver Vixen couldn't get her broom to start this morning as she prepared to go and meet up with her coven.

The GF is now back and the battery on the broom is charging.

Friday, March 01, 2013

Workload

Well that was unexpected.

The Gorse Fox's work load just seems to have increased substantially as he was asked to take on the role of lead career manager for the techies in his division. That means wiping out November and December for a start... and probably at least one day a week on top of that.