Tuesday, 30 July 2013


My daughter's birthday. I'd offered to take the day off work, but she'd wanted to spend the day with her friends, and with her Mum.

Her Mum sent me a text message, pretty much echoing my thoughts about how I can't believe that our daughter is 14, of all the things that we've all been through in those 14 years, and how she's turned out. We're both really proud of her, and just can't quite find the words to express how surreal it is that she's that old. That she's growing up so fast. I know that she's doing very well at the whole 'teenager' thing.

She shares her birthday, with of all people. Wil Wheaton.

Happy Birthday to you both.

How did I get to be the parent of a 14 year old ? (I know the answer to that question. I'm not that stupid).

The summer wave has ended, or at the least been interrupted.

Still warm though. After booking the holiday yesterday, I really wish I could have been on holiday today. I wanted to be in that mode, of not getting up unless you wanted to. Not going somewhere unless you wanted to.

Looking forward to those sun-kissed walks, the open space. The Countryside. It may piss with rain all week for all I care. I would probably still go out and enjoy the outdoors.

The only thing I will miss, is the cats. I've asked my Mum to look after them, because I don't want my sister to end up having to do it when my Nephew can't be bothered to. She's got a pile on her plate at the moment, and well, really that's no different to normal. For her.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Holiday !!

In a mere two weeks time, Chloe and I are on holiday together. This is our annual time away, that we've been going on since she was about 6 years old. (The first few years we went to Butlins in Bognor).

Most recently we've been going to Waterside Caravan Park in Paignton, Devon. It's a lovely part of the world. Lots of beautiful scenery and lots of places to go and see, and things to do. Having been there now for three years we wanted to try somewhere else.

Devon is such a lovely part of the UK, I must admit that I'd not seriously considered us going to somewhere Eastwards. I don't know if it's the geography, or the greenery, or the general pace of life. Not sure. Something in my head feels a little 'lesser holiday' of an Eastward destination. Silly really. Very silly. I'm sure there are just a great places to the East of where we live. Maybe even North too. (The only things really South of here are the Isle Of Wight, or, well, water - unless we seriously consider going abroad...).

Anyway. I've been getting some emails from different holiday park companies. We stay at caravan parks. There's also something about staying in a caravan that makes it a holiday, as much as the train journey. The fact that you're spending time on a train etc, tells you that you're going away, and in a strange way literally allows you time to acclimatise to the change in pace and general relaxation and washing away of all the stresses.

Anyway. Some of these offers I got from Park Holidays were, to be honest, too silly to not look into.

We've booked today, for a nice seven day holiday at holiday park on the East Sussex coast. (Sorry stalkers, not telling you exactly where). Last year I spent well over £700 for the caravan alone. This I got for Under £400. With it being so cheap (was on offer at half price) I've upgraded the standard of caravan.

It'd begun to get worried that we wouldn't get somewhere for the dates that we wanted, or that it'd be somewhere not as nice as Waterside. By the looks of it, it's a really pretty town. Lots and lots of scenic walks for us.

We're not really into all the on-park entertainment, (except for the swimming pool), and walks in the countryside are just our thing. As long as there's 3g signal, we'll be ok.

Friday, 26 July 2013

Cat down

As I write this, I am beside myself. Not in the existential sense. I mean that I am worried about Twilight. My cat.

I am one cat down. Yes people. We are a cat down.

Twilight the little terror has gone off somewhere, and not come back at the end of the evening. I've left the front door open a long as I dare, but there's no sign of her. Which can only lead me to two possibilities. She is unable to return. She is unwilling to return.

Not sensing any dissatisfaction with the domestic arrangements before, I can only conclude that she is either shut in somewhere, or ... has come to some serious harm.

I hope it's the former rather than the latter.

Midnight does not seem to care in the slightest. As long as I put some more dry cat biscuits into his bowl he's perfectly happy.

I am very, very, very glad that it's the end of the week. I am not sad to see the back of it, that's for sure. I just don't feel like I'm getting any sense of achievement and joy out of it, and I should. Still feeling trapped behind that bloody computer at work.

I want to be freed. I want to escape. I want to run through open, sunny meadows. Well, okay, maybe not the second bit.

Not that much of a fan of nature.

Still haven't booked anything going away for Chloe and I. But the offers are coming in thick and fast on the emails. I just need to get the right one and I ponce, credit card in hand.

Up early tomorrow, shopping to do, to complete things for Chloe's birthday, and to celebrate my Mum's.

I could not get much sleep last night. I went to bed okay, after having a lovely evening at Colin and Derrek's. I'd gone round there for dinner. Very nice pasta and some wine. I woke up around half past midnight, and couldn't get back to sleep until about four am. This did, however mean that I made amazing progress reading the current book on my kindle. Extinction Point - by Paul Anthony Jones.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Anything can happen Tuesday.

Anything can happen ?

Well it could, just that the probability of some of the more interesting things is really, really, low.

Infinitesimal is the word that comes to mind.

Work is getting a bit drudgery at the moment. There's lots of success, but I'm just feeling that I am at the mercy of paperwork, and not actually getting to spend any time with my people. I want to spend more quality time with them. Away from my bloody computer. Never brings me good news does that machine. Never.

Well, okay I have to be fair quite often there's good news. Someone does really need though to stop writing endless briefs. There's only so much people can possibly read without wanting to kill themselves.

So much information in the information age. In the age of the internet. Most of it's a load of crap though.

Good news is that tomorrow, with any luck I'm going out with the team to go see a film. It's been a couple of months since we did it, and also means we'll get to meet up with Rob, who left the team when he went to work in another area of the company.

It'll also be the first time out with the two new girls that joined the team. They're a bit younger than the rest of the team so their expectations of what the night entails may be a little different. We'll have to see.

Went down with my Mum today, (and my Nephew) to go see the bike that Chloe has been referring to as the 'google' bike. Turns out it's not white, but the handlebars, pedals, saddle post etc are in the primary colours of Google. Don't worry guys, your intellectual property is safe. Leaving work a little bit earlier did mean missing the most of the murderous traffic queue to leave site. Considering that we're supposedly only meant to have cars on site that bring in more than two people there were an awful lot of people I've seen in the last few weeks that seem to be the only person in the car. Unless I guess for some reason the passengers were hidden from view somehow. Anyway, it was much easier and quicker to leave today.

When the need really hits, I am getting quite good at this 'down tools and leave' thing. This absolutely does not mean that I leave anything half done, (or completely not done for that matter). I make sure that I get things finished as I need to.

The sounds of some sort of nocturnal construction work have been resounding and bouncing across the estate the last couple of nights. I think there's some work being done on the motorway that passes by the end of the site. I guess they have to do it sometime, and any noise they make at this time of night is going to be noticeable. Can't see any evidence of the work though when we go past in the morning on the way to work.

planning the escape ? 
This morning I was presented with a light challenge. Waking up in my normal state of 'not really awake... give me coffee !!!!'  meant that it was not until I got to the kitchen, turned on the kettle, and set about feeding the cats that I realised there was only one there to feed. Twilight was there, as usual, communicating to me in her own sweet way that she wanted feeding. She had also been there waiting not so patiently by my bedside for me haul ass out of bed and feed her.

Midnight was nowhere to be seen. I looked round the flat for him. Called for him.

Then I heard the slightly distant cries of a cat, and traced these cries to the front door. Upon opening it, I discovered both the source of the cries and the location of Midnight. The little bastard had escaped out of one of the open windows. I cannot tell at what time he did this, he didn't appear to be distressed or injured in anyway. It may have been a planned escape. He may have fallen out, or been knocked off the window-ledge by the window blind blowing in the breeze. (There was actually some breeze last night. Thank fuck).

Upstairs he trotted, quite happy that he had been let back in and that his human had again, provided food as trained.
Little fucker.

I suspect that his break for freedom was out my daughter's bedroom window, although it could just have easily been out the window in my room (but I hope I would have noticed this more, and certainly heard the him meowing), or the windows in the front room, which although these do not have whole window openings, are still well within the abilities of the average feline to exit from.

The thing is that Midnight surprised me, had Twilight been the one that had gone out, I would have understood. She's much more the adventurous type. Midnight is normally happy to sit lazing around in or near the flat, and allow Twilight to do all the exploring / catching and 'socialising' with other local cats.

Maybe Twilight pushed him out of the window ? She did look rather pleased with herself when I fed her. Often I've noticed that he muscles in on her food. Revenge is a catfood dish best served cold (from a pouch) ?

Monday, 22 July 2013

Just another manic Monday

Hang on, haven't I used that title before ? Maybe. Maybe not. Don't care. It was Monday, and it was manic.

The weekend was very, very nice, despite being rather tired, I got to spend extra time with my daughter. Always a good thing.

Trying to sort out the bike that she wants for her birthday. She's found one that she really likes at shop near her. It's not a chain shop, but rather an independent that refurbishes and brings to life old bikes. Chloe's friend has one already and really loves it.

I still can't process the concept that my daughter will be 14. In a couple of years she'll be leaving school.

Finally finished the playing around with the Doorstops script that Steve needed. I wrote the thing about a year ago now, and he'd needed me to rework it a little. Wasn't happy with the terribly trifling little detail that it didn't contain a few things that were in the synopsis he'd written for the episode. Ooops. Still, it's a much better script now than it was.

Still no progress with rewriting / editing the NaNoWriMo novel, but I guess that's because I've been working so much last week that I've barely been home. Talking of which. Idiot ! I'd forgotten to submit my overtime form.

Off to visit the acclaimed bike shop tomorrow after work, and then off out with the guys from work to the pictures on Wednesday. Round Col(v)in and Derrek's Thursday... Friday ? Well, on Friday Steve's coming round with his hard drive so I can copy the files that I need in order to be able to edit the Stephen Brown story that I've volunteered to edit. Eeek. Why did I do that ?

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Sunny Sunday - with a difference.

This weekend is not the weekend in which I would normally have my daughter to stay overnight. Normally at this time of the morning, I would probably just be waking up enough to get ready to go and meet her at the train station.


This weekend has turned out a little differently.

It's my daughter's birthday soon, and she has had her eye on a bike made (or put together) at a small independent bike shop round the corner from where she lives. She refers to the design as 'the google bike'. Shouldn't really give them ideas, should we ? They'll come up with a bike made entirely of recycled plastic or something that has an inbuilt camera, GPS locator and bluetooth sync capability with your smartphone. The Google Re-Cycle ? Actually, dammit, I think I'm on to something there.

You heard it here first folks.

Anyways. Back to the point. She's been yearning for this bike for weeks, and is actually amazed that no one has bought it, considering she hasn't been able to reserve it. (Shop keeper has the sense to insist that kids must have an adult with them in order to reserve a bike).  From what I can gather, it's not a standard construction, but more an amalgam of parts for other bike types. I'm not entirely sure what image that conjures in my head. Really I'm not. I think of the bicycling equivalent of something from the Wacky Races.     

Her mum has had a look at it, and we decided that it was a good idea that I too go and have a look. In a moment of uncharacteristic endeavour, I opted to hop on a train and go down there yesterday afternoon / evening. 

Chloe's mum had joked (maybe not so joked) earlier in the conversation that maybe I should have Chloe today (IE Saturday). When I was enroute, by bus, I offered that if she wanted, and of course Chloe agreed, I could take Chloe back with me. I have to admit to being amazed when she said yes. Had I not been sitting on a really hot bus with a load of disgruntled looking chavs I may have whooped, or even hollared. I restrained myself. 

Anyway, after all that, the shop was shut. Bless teenagers for their myriad of communicative means, but lack of the ability to use one to call the guy in the shop and ask 'hey, dude, what time you shut today'. Hashtag - Just saying. 

Anyways. Looks like I'm going to have to try and find a way to go down there during the week, after work, before the shop shuts. Racing around is exactly what I want in these sweltering temperatures. 

Friday, 19 July 2013

Hot Hot Hot

It's been super hot lately, and this has coincided with the week that I am on standby for the emergency call centre. I have been in rather a lot, and tonight (Thursday night) is the last night of my stint, but also the only day so far this week that I haven't been called in.

I had thought, or hoped that it not being the middle of winter that I wouldn't see much 'action'. I couldn't have been more wrong. I don't know how the guys out in the field were keeping up with all the problems that were going on. Trees causing problems, fires, lines coming down, over zealous gardeners digging through cables. All sorts of things. You could tell how tough it was getting in the delays that were creeping in for first response to faults - because the engineers were already out on another job.

The most stupid thing has to be someone deciding to prove that the power's out by using a ladder to climb up the power pole and test the supply themselves. Lucky the supply was dead, because otherwise they would have been. Important bit of advice people, don't climb up power supply poles, don't go near the cables if they happen to come down. Don't touch them. They have a really bad habit of killing people.

Having not spoken too much to my daughter this week, I text her tonight for a cursory chat about things. I couldn't call her from my mobile because I have to leave the line open in case I'm called in. The chat moved from sms texting to facebook chat, where I then sent her a picture of my new Chromebook. She then proceeded to lecture me about how I didn't need another device and that I 'just keep buying things'.

The problem is, she may be right. Okay, I have brought another device. But I did buy it ridiculously cheaply, and can always sell it on if I don't want it any more. Having identified a need, that I thought could be filled with my iPad and a portable keyboard, I went for the absolutely cheapest way of filling that need. Not the most complicated or expensive. But she is right, that I have an iPad, and iMac, why, oh why, oh why do I need a laptop. Well I do. I need to be able to type easily. On Wednesday, when I sat in the 'garden' working on a 'Doorstops' script for Beacon, it was on the Chromebook that I did it. I couldn't have really managed to sit out there on my camping chair with my iPad and a bluetooth keyboard. I have done in the past, and it's a thing of managing to balance everything right, setting them at the right angle on my lap so that I've got room to move or sit comfortably and type. Also the heat doesn't really do nice things to my iPad. Last time it actually shut itself down and refused to work until it had cooled down somewhat. The device itself, being made of metal was white hot. Picking it up in my hand, I was genuinely concerned I was going to get branded by the Apple Logo, burning into my palm.

I know that I can come up with loads of different reasons to justify my expenditure. To justify it to myself maybe.

It is finally dawning on me that our holiday is not too far away, and I should really get my arse moving and actually book one. There are emails I get frequently from some of the holiday places, offering me short notice deals, but those are still too close - and not yet for the week that we want.

I am confident that we will be able to get something. Part of me would like to have been able to go to Jersey, but it turned out to be so fucking expensive that I would have nearly had to sell the flat in order for us to go.
I may have just exaggerated slightly. Slightly. There's something special about Devon. Heading westwards has a spiritual draw to it. Heading Eastwards, like we did a few years ago when we went to Hastings doesn't have the same charm. I don't know how to put that into words, or explain it, but that's how I feel.

I would also like to go to Scotland, or Ireland, but there's also the part of me that thinks we should not be heading further North. Further South = warmer. Further North = colder, in my mind. Would I feel cheated spending my summer holiday deliberately going somewhere colder ? So that when I come home, it's warmer ? Now that doesn't make sense.

If it was somewhere more special, maybe Iceland, or Canada, or cruise up the Norwegian fjords, then maybe, just maybe. But to damp Edinburgh ? Nah. Does not compute.

I'm probably talking a load of shite and am about to get lots of comments from very angry people in the Scottish Tourist Board.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Let me sit down and talk about how much I'm on the move

Realising that there's a way to connect to the wifi in the office so that the Chromebook becomes usable at work. Priceless.

Didn't fancy creating my own wifi hotspot with my phone, that'd kill the battery for sure. This way I can actually use it at the one place I spend most of my time. Much, much more time than I do in asleep that's for sure.

Still feeling that something is missing this week, I don't have that boundless energy and excitement that I've had recently. I have a lot more to do now that I have a full team again, and that means that I have more things I can do to help them, or be with them. If only I could actually tear myself away from all the paperwork (of the electronic kind) - all the sucky admin / HR stuff that no one in their right mind would enjoy.

When I was in the emergency call centre last night, one of the managers there was speaking to me about how they were finding it a struggle there at the moment, and that they don't seem to have support, and the workload they have is impossible to deal with.

All sounds rather similar to what we were going through about four - six months ago. Doesn't sound fair for them, and more than it was for us, that things are being asked of them, but they are not being shown how to get it all done in the best way. Seems to be a 'you should just go manage the time better' response. Not at all supportive.

Even when times are tough, and there doesn't really seem to be any sort of let up, it's worth remembering that there are harder ways of earning what I earn for a living. I consider myself very fortunate, to take home what I do. I don't really have brilliant grades or education, and don't really have any definable skills.

With the current economic climate in this country, there are plenty of people that are either out of work, had to take pay freezes or pay cuts, or reduce hours. There's always someone worse off than you, as the morale goes.

IT might be hard, and no, I agree, money isn't the only thing that's important, but if you say that, and mean, and are really, truly, deeply unhappy in what you are doing for a living..... go do something else.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013


Google Chromebook.

Working straight out of the box. Check

Stupidly easy to use and set up. Check

Happy with the fact that it only cost me £120 in ebay. Check (no, I paid by card).

It seems odd to 'get used' to the idea of typing on something that rests on your lap again. After a couple of different keyboards used to work in conjunction with the iPad, it does rather take some getting used to, navigating without being able to touch the screen. How used to doing that on something so small and portable I have become. It's weird, because I never find myself trying to touch the screen of my desktop computer. I've never expected to.

The keyboard is taking a bit of getting used to, if anything, it actually feels roomier than the wireless keyboard I have on my iMac. (when placed over this keyboard, the iMac's keyboard area is pretty much the same size). The keys feel more spaced out, and at the moment, I'm feeling like I have to work harder to type, but the more I type the easier it gets.

The unit itself is lightweight. Having a laptop resting heavily on your lap being something that would annoy me in years gone by. I think how heavy laptops have been, how distinctly unportable they were. This is VERY portable.

It's a nice little device for knocking out some pages, and with very few distractions, sure I can load up facebook, sure I can check my emails.. but it does instantly feel easier to just connect with the writing.

'connect with the writing'. Would you like that statement with some sprinkles of added pretension. Haven't quite worked out how to right click or whatever I need to do to select alternative spellings yet. This does mean that currently, it's easier for me to just try different spellings myself than it is to select what may be the right one from a handy list. I'm not too bothered about that, I always considered it lazy that the computer does the spell checking thing for you.

You would have expected that Facebook, be in the dictionary though, (well it is, but it's a noun, so caps initial only please, if you want to avoid the red squiggly line of shame).

As it happens, the 'right click' functionality is served by a two fingered click of the touch-pad area. Fascinating.

So far, I really like it. The whole idea was that I wouldn't be lumbered (if it really can be considered lumbering) with ipad and separate keyboard. When I purchased the iPad I had considered buying an Asus Transformer instead, purely because of the detachable keyboard and the fantastic battery life that gave. I had decided against that for two reasons, the first being, that would require up front cost, money, which at the time I did not have. Two, I anticipated wanting to write scripts certainly with the screen in portrait mode, something I couldn't do with the Asus, but the ipad with a wirelessly connected keyboard could do.

love my Chromebook..
As luck would have it, I'm on standby this week, which means at a moments notice I am called in to the emergency call centre. I think they may be watching me, for just as I was about to settle down to an evening of 'getting know' my Chromebook, put the kettle on, and started making a sandwhich (Ham Salad and Brie), then the phone rings, calling me in.

Tired in body, but not so much in mind, some six hours later I come home, to find two rather bemused cats. Treating them to some midnight (okay, 1am) snacks, and grabbing my Chromebook it's a really easy thing to just pic it up and carry on from where I left off. Everything's saved exactly where it was.

If the machine reckons that at 58% battery left, it has four hours and twenty-nine minutes left - then I think either there's something wrong with their calculation there or Samsung have seriously undersold the batteries on this little beauty.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Summer ?

Summer is finally here. 

By Summer I don't just mean that part of the year that the meteorologists and astrophysicists define as summer, I mean actual Summer. Hot Weather. 

Today, in the flat it reached 29 degrees centigrade. I was hot, the cats were hot. Pretty much from the moment I came home till about ten at night I've left the front door open, the windows as ajar as i dare and the window in Chloe's room open all the way (with the door shut so that the cats can't decide to leap out of the window. 

And it's still 27 and a half degrees. It's really nice, and the sunshine is gorgeous. I've not been out in it a huge amount as it has rather been too hot to enjoy over the weekend. 

Somehow I need to summon the strength and energy and find the time to take Chloe's Violin to the post office. In this heat, and with the times I'm working that means taking it to work with me, and at my lunch break walking into Havant and taking it to the Post Office, and then walking back to work. In the middle of the day. 

You may guess that I'm not really up for that. 

At the weekend Chloe was on a sleepover, and she had agreed previously that we go to the Beacon Barbie (Barbecue). In a moment of pure teenager she decided on the train to mine that she didn't want to go after all. This was after I had been shopping and brought some salad and some sausages and burgers for us to take. (not that they could ever go to waste really). 

This was disappointing, I had really been looking forward to going, but could really understand that having been out in the heat walking around Southsea all day with her friends, the idea of walking to the train station, getting a train, walking to mine, doing some stuff, walking back to the train station and then getting a train to Steve's etc, etc and being surrounded by a load of people who would all be adults would not really hold that great an appeal for her. 

She was quite happy for me to leave her at the flat, and I go without her, but I was not happy with this arrangement. I wanted to spend time with Chloe, having looked forward to seeing her all week, and to bugger off and leave her there on her own, not that she would be bothered at all I am sure seemed to be  rather crazy to me. 

In other news, Andy Murray won the Men's final at Wimbledon. Yay. Was a very exciting match, very energetic. I don't think I could run around a tennis court that much in that heat without collapsing. 

I've perhaps foolishly offered to do some editing for Steve. This will be my chance I guess to put my money where my mouth is, instead of just moaning about how other people edit stuff. 

Monday, 1 July 2013

July ? Already ? You have to be having a fucking laugh !

All fucking ready ?  You must be bloody joking ! How the hell has half the year passed without so much as a blink. It's ridiculous. I want a refund. I want to speak to a manager. 

Monday July 1st. Not really a bad day. It was very warm last night, and it's only moderately cooler tonight. I couldn't get that much sleep last night. As it was I decided to make things easy for myself, and allow for a lie in, but having a bath Sunday night. 

The bath, I'm not going to lie was absolutely lovely. It's been quite a while since I pampered myself with a nice soak. Anyway. To bed I went. Fresh and clean. Ready to slumber I may have been, but my body and mind we not really on the same page as it were. I was just wide awake. So there I lay, trying to get to sleep. Feeling hot, with windows open as much as I dare, worrying slightly that the cats might try and get out the windows overnight. 

None the less, I've had a really good day today at work. I'd rather have gotten more creative stuff done, but I foolishly turned on that machine which sucks away my evenings. It is only now, as I type that I realise one of the reasons I had not gone to bed sooner was so that I could stay up and watch the first episode of the last series of Skins - the exceedingly well written, casted, directed and acted youth drama that's been running for about the last five years. Every couple of years they change out the characters, and present a different set of backgrounds and problems. 

I had made myself stay up in order to watch that. But have forgotten when it got to Ten O'Clock and started watching some other stuff (Have I Got News for You) on Dave. I've probably seen the episode fourteen times already. 

Dammit. I will just have to check up on the catchup application tomorrow. I am not now going to watch it tonight. 

Okay. July 1st. I actually did some work editing my NaNoWriMo over the weekend. I didn't make a huge amount of progress, but still, I was satisfied that I actually started looking at the damn thing again. 

I have brought a pair of flip-flops. 

Every self defacing middle aged man should buy himself a pair of flip-flops. Just so everyone else can laugh at him when he trips over and stubs his toe. 

Seriously, it was bloody boiling over the weekend, and having gotten on a train to go pick up my daughter, only to have her call me to tell me she was getting a light to mine, I suddenly found myself with the opportunity to get off the train at Hilsea, walk back towards the flat - going past Lidl. I don't normally get to go in there, so had a peak, and ended up buying a couple of things for Chloe's birthday. 

I also brought the flip-flops. To be honest, at one pound forty-nine I couldn't give a shit if they fall apart next week. (Remember this, because if they do, I will be moaning like hell. What a waste of money, I'll say). 

Anyway, with only weeks to go, Chloe has finally acted upon my request to provide me with that which is most arduous and difficult. The challenge to end all others. The list to separate the idiots from the stupid. I speak of course, of the birthday list. That sacred thing which the parent of any Teenager knows they dare not purchase gifts without consulting THE LIST.