Now; this is truly egotistical. I’ve been working from home for 3 years now and spend most of that time alone. Accordingly, there are times when I have a fair bit of time on my hands.
This page was added purely to let me vent steam once in a while. Some comments may be amusing, whilst some may seem pointless. There’s not likely to be anything offensive; that’s not really my nature. I feel I have changed a great deal these last few years from the man that started this website.
“Dear Marge/Claire/anyone who’s interested (insert agony aunt’s name here),”
|I’ve just come back from a visit to Hastings and Bexhill with Cheryl. Whilst there, I could see that they have fantastic sunsets down that way, too. Want to see it? Of course you do. Just click the pic.
|Bugger. I was hoping that 2005 would be better than 2004. Well, perhaps that’s a bit simplistic. There are far worse things going on out in the big bad world than anything that may be happening to me but I can’t do much about them. Actually, I can’t seem to do much about my issues either at the moment.
So much seems to be out of my control or influence. In particular, my financial problems, far from being sorted, lurch from crisis to crisis. I’m having particular difficulties with my bank at present which isn’t helping matters. They appear not to be too keen on any catchy slogans, unless it’s “We’re the bank that wants our money back. Oh; and a pound of your flesh will do nicely, thank you.”
Bitter? Me? You’d better believe it. I’m in the throes of changing banks at the moment but until I’m sorted out, I also fall into that delightful category of being less than credit-worthy. So, I have all the incentive I need to try and straighten things out. The day that I finally remove the my financial shackles will indeed be a pleasurable one.
Still; mustn’t grumble…..
|Happy New Year, one and all. Writing comments in a web page seems quite frivolous when you realise what else is going on in the world. I may sometimes make some self-pitying comment about my lot in life (not too often, I hope) but the one thing I learned this week is that there trulay are thousands of people worse off than me.
We spend our comfy lives wanting more and more out of it, without ever being prepared to really put anything back. This week actually saw whinging Britain put it’s money where it’s mouth is to help those less fortunate than ourselves. As of 31 December, that equals £45,000,000. I still can’t get my head round that figure. Come the annual TV charity shows, the response tends to be pretty good but this amount has been raised in a matter of days.
The people in charge at the Disasters Emergency Committee have been overwhelmed by the generosity. The news reported that at it’s peak today, pledges were being made at the rate of £1,000,000 an hour. The Government has so far matched that figure, raising it’s initial £15M to £50M. Whilst it will never bring people back, I am currently reminded that the world can actually be a caring place and that people will do what they can when they can. We can’t all be aid workers but we can at least help fund those who can do some good.
|OK; I’m over that fit of pique now. However, my regression into childhood continues apace. I went into Canterbury today with Lara, on the pretence of wanting to open a new bank account.
Yeah; right. Whilst we were there, I just happened to walk into Fenwicks, the local big department store, where I also casually left carrying a Scalextric MotoGP (i.e., motorcycling) set under my arm. As soon as we got home, we got the track out and Lara proceeded to show me how bad I was at keeping the bike in it’s slot. Just you watch it girl; I’ll get my own back…..
|Happy Christmas, everybody. Today sees the start of the proper season of goodwill. I’d like to pass those goodwill greetings to everyone. Well, nearly everyone. You know who you are. I’d like not to be a vindictive person but I don’t think 30 minutes was too much to ask. So sue me.
|Today I feel inordinately pround of Cheryl. Returning home frome a visit to Mum and Dad, we were caught behind the bus at the Graystone Road bus stop. While we waited, we saw an old lady take a very nasty fall in the street. Cheryl was immediately concerned, so I gave her my mobile, told her to get out and phone the ambulance while I parked up.
Dave Heenan, the owner of Orac Computers (next to the bus stop), had already dialled 999 and, under direction from the ambulance service, he and Cheryl put the woman, Mrs Newman, into the recovery position. The dry cleaning shop shop assistant then came out with a duvet which we used to cover her. In the meantime, I ran home to get more blankets and a pillow.
Mrs Newman was evidently very shaken and had suffered with a lot of bruising and cuts to her face and hands. Cheryl gave her her gloves to keep her hands warm and wrapped her scarf round Mrs Newmans head. Between her and Dave, they kept Mrs Newman talking to ensure she remained conscious whilst we waited for the ambulance to arrive.
It was difficult to get this poor woman out of our heads, so we paid a visit to K&C; where she was sat up in a cubicle in A&E.; I am pleased to report that she was looking considerably better,inasmuch that she was now evidently warmer and more comfortable. The staff had cleaned her wounds and she was now quite lucid.
The thing that I take away from this is that there really are some good people out there. Mrs Newman was very grateful to Cheryl and to Dave for staying with her and helping to keep her calm. It does the heart no end of good, I tell you.
|Following a request from a visitor, I went to Harbour Street today, with the specific aim of getting a photo of Mosaic, one of the shops. As I approached, there was a taxi outside the shop, partially blocking the shopfront. However, the driver was just going, having dropped his fare off, so I stood ready to take the shot. Just as I had it all framed, a bleedin’ great 4X4 rolled up in the taxi’s place, parked up and utterly blocked my view. On closer inspection, I noticed that this fantastically considerate driver had not only left what dad would describe as a “tuppenny bus fare’s” distance to the kerb, he’d also parked it on a corner. As it was so big, that also meant that he had blocked Red Lion Lane. I’m sure the taxi firm would have loved that as soon as the next cab went to leave the site.
You may have gathered that I’m not much of a fan of 4X4s. Mostly driven by people living nowhere near the countryside, who are in the mistaken belief that driving this bus makes them somehow immune to danger. And immune to the rules that the majority of other road users abide by.
Man; it’s good to get things off your chest once in a while. You realise I was only pissed off because I couldn’t get my photo…..
|I went into Canterbury today with Cheryl to do some Christmas browsing. I say “browsing”, rather than “shopping”, as we ended up not getting any presents at all. We’d gone with a specific goal in mind and not succeeded in that, so we got a coffee and came home.
I’m guessing that like many people, I’ll end up getting the majority of my gifts online, such is the ease and convenience of the Internet today. One thing it doesn’t do, mind, is help me make myself become more organised. The chances of that happening are pretty remote, I think…..
|Cheryl and I have visited a number of countries between us, either individually or more recently as a couple. Being the saddo that I am, I bought a map of the world a couple of months back to put on the wall. Being the procrastinator that I am, I finally fixed the map onto a corkboard and onto my office wall today. Currently, Cheryl is beating me by 11 countries to 10, with us each sharing a further five that we visited together. I don’t know; is that sad?
|Weather: dull, dull, dull. I really felt like going out and getting some photos today but Mother Nature put paid to that idea, as well as any thought of going out on the bike. Still; Cheryl and I will be off to Salzburg soon. We’re going there to visit the Christmas markets, which I’ve not done since Christmas 2000. Perhaps then I’ll have something constructive to add to the site.
I have had opportunities to reflect a lot recently, though. It’s now a year since I got my “Dear John” phone call from Poland. I recall thinking at the time, “What’s going to be worse; the way I feel now (November 2003), or the way I will feel when I’m ‘over it’?” As it happens, I feel pretty good just now, thanks in particular to Cheryl. Whilst it will probably take a long time to be fully over what happened at the end of last year, I’ll not be living in the past forever. A far happier new life beckons. See? Life can be good…..
|Today, I finally got my replacement car. For the last few weeks, I’ve been driving a Vauxhall Corsa rental car, ever since the Skoda went back. Now I’m the proud(ish) owner of a deep metallic red Ford Mondeo 2.0 TDi. Welcome to the world of the sales rep car, Steve…..
|On the subject of travel, I will yet again be going to far-off lands. This time, it’s to Vancouver. I’ve never been to Canada, other than a one hour stopover in Toronto, on the other side of the country, on the way to Los Angeles in 1986. This promises to be another good experience.
I don’t know; this site may well end up as my holiday snap site, as much as anything to do with Herne Bay and Whitstable. Perhaps I should start coinsidering new page subject matter…..
|What with an upsurge in work, a major improvement in my social (and love) life, plus the old problem of bone-idleness, this site has hardly been touched of late. However, today I uploaded some newer photos and reinstated a few pages, specifically Harbour Street in the Whitstable Street Life section.
I’d like to thank all those people who have recently wished me well concerning my personal life. Things these last couple of years have been very up and down, to say the least. I realise that most people out there
(a) Don’t know me from Adam and
(b) Probably don’t that much care
but to those of you who do know and care; ta.
|Oh look; another travel comment. This seems to be turning into a habit. I’ve just returned from a weekend in Dublin with Cheryl. Weather was clear but cold and the little city was great to look around.
We took in the Dublin Spire, or the “Stiletto in the Ghetto”, as it appears to have been nicknamed, Molly Malone’s statue, Trinity College (with it’s Book of Kells), the castle, Temple Bar (hic), plus the obligatory open top bus (brrrr) trip and (for me) the odd Guinness. A cheap Ryanair flight meant we got there and back for just under £60. A bargain if ever I saw one, to be sure. Another place to add to Cheryl and my “must revisit” list.
|Mark, John and I took a day trip to France yesterday, courtesy of Bikedayz. We set out of Folkestone at about 7:45 via the Channel Tunnel and within 5 minutes of getting out in France, were on long twisting country lanes.
What a buzz. Despite the less than favourable weather (during the morning at least), we were able to make good (read “fast”) progress all day. I’m just glad I had a new tyre fitted last Saturday. I had actually taken the bike faster than it has ever been under my ownership and certainly leant it over more than I had ever before, in my continued efforts to keep up. Thanks to Tony and John, the guys at Bikerdayz, for showing us such a good and well-organized time.
Got a bike and can get to Folkestone? This come very highly recommended.
|Where did the summer go? What a miserable day. The world may be shining for Kelly Holmes and for the mens 4 X 100m relay team (well done, all) in Athens but here in Tankerton it’s miserable. I keep looking up at the sky, waiting for the heavens to open, when I’ll have to make the short sprint to the washing line to get the laundry in. I may finally have to invest in a tumble dryer. Oh my god; I’ve finally turned into a housewife.
|I took the girls to see “I, Robot” tonight at the Ashford Cineworld multiplex. Not a bad film, I guess. The girls loved it but maybe I’m getting to picky as I get older. It was diverting enough but I think I had hoped for more. Still, we had a good time together, which is the important thing.
Better yet; at the time of writing (about midnight local time), I realise that Cheryl will be home in about 6 hours. She’s only been gone three weeks but it seems to have been an age. Roll on tomorrow evening, when I finally get to see her again :-).
|I’ve removed all traces of the old site now. There’s enough of the new version to keep me going for a while, although I still have to reinstate some photos and the “Street Life” pages. However, I’m pleased with the amount of space taken up. At it’s biggest, the old site actually tipped over my 50MB limit for a while. The new version takes up less than 16MB at the moment. I know that there are more pictures to go up but I should be able to put lots more, now there’s all this space available.
|We have an extremely efficient recycling system run by Canterbury City Council. I have at least one sack of paper, card, plastic and cans outside the flat each week, whereas my rubbish bin gets put out about once a month now. In the car park across the road, there are bottle banks and a paper bank, too.
However, returning from the Bay yesterday, I was amused to see a woman taking papers out of the bank. As she took them out, she sifted through them, presumably to assess their suitability. Having selected a couple of copies of the Daily Mail, Evening Standard and Whitstable Gazette, she returned the others to the bank.
Blimey, that’s taking recycling a step further than most of us. I don’t know; maybe she’d run out of reading material for her day on the beach…..
|After much navel-gazing, I have finally uploaded a new web page. There are a few blank pages, as it gets gutty just typing and uploading. I’ll get there though, eventually. Thanks for the current design go to my friend Chris Raper, who’s design I have unashamedly plagiarised. Cheers, Chris.
|Coo-ee! I’m back. Sort of. A new whizz-bang computer was delivered yesterday. I am still trying to get my email system sorted out, so if anyone knows how I can get Outlook to read the old Outlook Express email folders, I’d be most grateful.
There have been a number of significant changes at Chez Steve lately. The news about my burglary and subsequent loss of the laptop were announced some time back. That aside, life has taken a few positive steps, the greatest of which has been Cheryl. ‘Nuff said, for now.
The weather is blisteringly hot, although we have been promised a miserable, wet summer this year. The lawn is (almost) finished and I’ll pop down town later to have a general nose around for any potential photo subjects. Don’t expect major site changes just yet; Work is picking up and is generally getting in the way of the stuff that I’d rather be doing.
|The last few days have been scorchers. Terribly un-British. Today, after picking his bike up from the dealer, Mark and I trundled down to Rye for breakfast. Generally, the trip was great; enough empty winding roads to enjoy ourselves without the encumbrance of those annoying tin boxes on wheels. However, I hope I scared the driver of that Honda CRX as much as he scared me when he pulled out on me.
It doesn’t matter how much you try to make yourself seen; I ride a large yellow motorcycle with the headlights on all the time. I wear bright clothing. But if a driver isn’t looking, he ain’t going to see you (me). He heard the horn, though, judging by how much he jumped. Still; I’m home safe and sound with nothing but a few extra grey hairs to show for my adventure.
|I finally got the site content down to less than my 50MB limit today. It has meant the loss of a couple of photo pages but at least I won’t have ClaraNet writing to me. The weather is too good to be sitting in writing a website, though; I feel the need for a bike ride. The pushbike this time, though. It’s high time I started getting some exercise again; I can’t guarantee being this skinny forever and the older I get, the more likely I am to turn into a tub of lard if I don’t get off my arse.
|Despite being wusses, Mark and I decided that, having bought this new Triumph arse rocket, he really should give it a go. So, once the bike racing had finished on the telly, we togged up and rode off. It was a little cloudy but generally all right. Until we were at Thanet, that is. But that’s for later.
Mark’s bike is a bit quick, you know. Scratch that; Mark’s bike is bloody lightning fast. He made the mistake of (1) letting me have a go and (2) encouraging me to “give it some stick” on the A2. So, I apologise to any of those motorists who wondered what that loud green thing was that flew past them at um, a little over 70mph this afternoon. The howl of the engine would have been matched by the maniacal laughter of the kamikaze pilot at the helm.
We swapped bikes again at Dover and rode back home. By the time we got to Richborough, the rain was falling steadily. We got to the Monkton Roundabout on the Thanet Way, where I met up with my nomination for Dickhead of the week; a Vectra driver in the left lane who decided he was turning right at the roundabout.
Just what you need; driving rain, greasy roads and blind morons who don’t know how to negotiate a roundabout. Fortunately, I saw it coming and was able to outmanoeuvre, outbrake and outpower Colonel Blink and pass him by with a friendly call and a wave. Sort of.
|Having recovered from the buzz that was that roadtest last weekend, Mark went and tried another Bike the same afternoon. The result of which is he is now the proud owner of a Triumph Daytona. We went to Maidstone to pick it up today. Well; he picked it it but I don’t need much of an excuse to go out on my bike, either.
However, the shop staff were completely unprepared for us when we arrived. Everything was behind schedule and so we were asked if we could come back in an hour or so. Needless to say, Mark wasn’t best impressed with this but then the sales guy offered him a Suzuki GSX-R750 to play with. So, as I needed to go to the bank in Chatham, that’s where we went.
“Arse rocket” doesn’t go anywhere near close enough to describe just how insane that bike is. I thought the R6 I tried recently was madcap. This monster is in another league completely. Personally, Suzuki’s don’t do much for me but this was seriously lunatic fun. I only wish I had the opportunity to try it out somewhere fast. As it was, I only got to take it round city streets. However, it’s got me thinking, which is never a good thing…..
|After last week’s manic work schedule, this week has been therapeutically quiet. The weather’s been warm (except for today, when the wind has got up and rain is on the way) and the garden is in flower. Ami and Lara will be round a little later and we’ll decide what to do together. We were planning to hire one of the tennis courts but not if it rains. If the weather does take a turn for the worse, I’ll arrange to see them again tomorrow and we’ll do the tennis thing then.
In the meantime, I’ve been thinking about my bike. I must be going through some major second childhood or something; Mark and I went out on the bikes at the weekend and ended up at the Bike Shop in Faversham. In there, among all the other shiney pieces of powerful machinery was a Yamaha YZF-R6. To those of you not in the know, this is 600cc of what comes under my definition of arse rocket. Now; I’m six feet tall and long legged, so such a bike is probably not for me, with it’s race sitting position. However, somehow I talked myself into asking for a test ride. Weather permitting, I’ll go back on Saturday to take the bike out. What the hell was I thinking? Or, to put it another way; I can’t wait. Roll on Saturday!
|Another day, another dollar. This week, I have driven over 500 miles and gone no further than Stansted. Having picked up colleagues from three of London’s four major airports, brought them back to Whitstable, on to Sittingbourne and Basildon, then back to their respective airport destinations, I was really pleased to have spent a day at home today. Morpheus was reluctant to release me this morning, too; I didn’t actually wake up until 9:00. Then, at 1:00 I picked the girls up and we spent a fantastic afternoon walking along the beach. The little picture on the home page is testament to this afternoon. I don’t know what Lara has but she can always cheer us up. She, Ami and I spent nearly three hours wandering up and down, getting wet and generally messing about. It was exhilarating and for a while, I quite forgot any troubles and worries. I should go on record to say that my daughters are my life. Ami, Lara; I love you.
|Having spent an age sorting out photos from the Easter Egg Run, tonight I thought I’d just check to see how much webspace I have used. Oh dear; of the 50MB allocated to me, I seem to have used 51MB. I wonder what Claranet will have to say about that? And I wonder if there’s anything I can remove to bring down the total? Looks like that rewrite is getting more pressing…..
|Ah well; back to reality. And back to work…..
I went to Essex for my weekly meeting today. First of all , I drove to Stansted to collect two German colleagues. However, although I set the alarm for 04:45, in order to leave by 05:30, I actually woke up at 06:23. Bugger. By 06:31, I had washed my hair, dressed and was driving down the road. Man; I hate waking up like that. Needless to say I was late meeting the men at the airport. Meeting went all right, though. Thanks for asking.
Today, I rode my bike round Cadwell Park racetrack with my friends. I rode very fast and scared the living c*** out of myself.
It was brill.”
|I’m off to Skegness today with my mates. We’re taking our (motor)bikes to the Motorcycle News Spring Spectacular rally. Us and about 5000 other bikers. I think it may be a mite crowded…..
|Wszystkiego najlepszego w dniu urodzin, Dagmara. Przesyłasz z rodziną. Powodzenia.
I hope I said that correctly.
|Mark and I went out on the bikes today, following a night on the town last night. It’s a good way of clearing the head/cobwebs. A jaunt up to London and back via Maidstone, as I wanted to find a replacement leather jacket. I have finally admitted defeat – I’m evidently not (quite) as skinny as I once was. The old red jacket I bought way back in 1979/80 still fits, so long as I elect not to breath. The choice of a black/white/blue trimmed garment was made and we made our way back home. I was disappointed not to find a yellow trimmed jacket but I think Mark was pleased. At least he doesn’t have to ride alongside a custard tart…..
|Ami and Lara stayed over last night, on account of Ness going away for the weekend. As I write, Ami is at work; Lara is still comatose in bed. It’s always good to see the kids and I will probably take Ami out for a little driving experience again.
We went out last weekend, too. There’s a strip of road just outside Manston airport; just long enough to be able to get up into third gear but away from traffic. So, it was ideal to give Ami a taste of driving. I was half-expecting to be terrified but she showed a remarkable amount of competence.
I’ll not think too much about that huge, screaming wheel spinning episode, though; that was a lot of smoke…..
|Man – am I glad to be home. This week, I have notched up TWO driving trips to Germany and one to Redditch. OK; so we’re not talking the end of the world but I can think of better ways to spend time than sat in a car. Actually, I generally enjoy travelling and going to Germany isn’t too much of a chore. Normally. The only problem I have had with it of late is the amount of time it leaves me to think. Recent circumstances can sometimes make that a bad thing. The work when I arrive is fine; it’s just all that time alone with your thoughts. Bugger. However, there has been a silver lining. Ami and Lara are spending the weekend with me while their mother visits friends. Now the sun has come out, I will try to prise Lara out of her pit and go visiting. Ami unfortunately has to work today and tomorrow, so she always seems to get the bum end of the deal, as far as visits go.
|Yesterday, the long-predicted snow hit. And how. All was clear until about 4:00pm, when untold amounts of the stuff was dumped on the southeast. There were also high winds, so the snow was flying around in all directions.
Chastened by the farce of last year, where thousands of motorists were stranded in their cars overnight (me included) on various motorways around the country, councils nationwide pledged they were fully prepared this time. Yeah; right. Locally, the gritters finally came out after the snow started falling but got caught just as the cars were.
We are notoriously useless at dealing with snow and ice in the UK. I have yet come across an occasion where everyone hasn’t been caught by surprise. The authorities invariably end up firefighting, rather than gritting before the storm arrives. Drivers, unused to the conditions, either go way too fast or, often just as dangerously, way too slow everywhere. Either that, or they give up and abandon their car, leaving an additional unnecessary obstacle for the remainder to negotiate in their effort to get home.
Ah; that’s better. Got that off my chest. Oh; and today? All the snow is gone. Fantastic.
|I got a phone call from one of my German colleagues last Friday, asking if I’d be available for a meeting in the UK on Monday. “No problem”, said I innocently. “Great; could you meet us at Newcastle airport for a 9:40 arrival?”
9:40? In NEWCASTLE? Bugger. Newcastle is a six and a half hour drive, something I had no intention of undergoing if I could help it. So, it was time to turn to British Airways.
Now, if I flew there and back on the Monday, the cost was over £300. If I flew at the more convenient (to BA) time of 7:30 on Sunday morning, the cost dropped to a more reasonable £120. So, here I am in a hotel set between the airport and the city, adding a note to my website. Mind you; I did get to see the Angel of the North, which was worth making the trip for in it’s own right. I gather it is loved and reviled in equal measure. Take a look and make your own mind up.
|Today has been a glorious day, weather-wise. A little chilly, perhaps but not so cold that hardy bikers that we are, Mark and I would want to stay indoors. Trouble is, although I have an old padded leather jacket (the red one you see me sporting in the home page photo), the waterproof trousers are very cumbersome. So, our trip today had a secondary purpose. We rode to Maidstone in order for me to try out what I never expected to own; a pair of leather trousers.
I must say; I wish I’d done it earlier, as they’re considerably more comfortable. So, now I seem to be going down the full leather-clad Village People route. Not.
|Ness went to visit family this weekend, so I’ve had the pleasurable company of both the girls. Unfortunately, Ami had to work, so she got the bum end of the deal. Lara, on the other hand, has decided she wants to be a bike chick, having had her first experience on the back of the bike. It was a lovely day but bloody cold, I can tell you. I didn’t go too far, not too fast (well, not often) but she makes a very good passenger. Roll on the warmer months…..
|1 Jan ’04
|Happy New Year, one and all. To all those I know and love, I wish you all the very best for the coming year. This extends to everybody, me finding myself in a uncharacteristically magnanimous mood. This wish goes particularly to Dagmara, who helped make 2003 a most memorable year for me. Good luck, Daga.
|Following yesterday’s successful trip to the big town, I have now wrapped all the presents and tonight hope to be able to get Ami and Lara to Faversham to see the final instalment of The Lord Of The Rings. I say “hope” because although there’s a phone number and a website, the Royal Cinema doesn’t answer it’s phone nor provide any information about pre-booking. It’s always possible, of course that you can’t pre-book, so I will take the girls there very early, just in case there’s a rush.
|I took Lara to Canterbury today, expecting a manic crush as people, like me, make that last rush for Christmas presents. My; what a pleasant surprise. The weather was lowsy (cold, windy, raining) but it meant that there were very few people about. We arrived at the Sturry Road Park & Ride at 10:30. It was only half full. There was a bus waiting for us and less than 10 minutes later, we were braving the elements in Canterbury High Street. Two hours later, we were on the bus coming back. Fantastic.
|Whilst trying to pick up the pieces of my life again (self-inflicted wounds unfortunately. At least in part), I have been trying to get myself back onto an even keel. Mark, bless him, came up with a temporary diversion from my blues last week. On Friday, a bunch of us went to the Kings Hall to see Rubber Biscuit perform their annual Christmas gig.
And what a gig. Talk about value for money; this bunch of hyperactive lunatics were on stage for over three hours with only a minor interval. A fantastically lively evening which had a number of people dancing on the floor. Eventually. It was also good to see my friend John being publicly humiliated for being caught with his arms firmly folded, just in front of the lead singer. Bad move John…..
|Lately, my personal life has taken some major tumbles and to be frank, life at the moment is pretty shitty. I am actually struggling to get through the days at the moment and can only hope for an upturn in my fortunes. Sorry to put this here; I know others aren’t interested in hearing tales of woe. Still, if I can’t vent feelings once in a while, I’ll go completely nuts.
|Since I moved to my current flat in Tankerton, I have been a three-times contributor to the council’s central car parking fund. £90 in fines later, the council have since designated the car/coach park as pay and display. So now there is no long-term free parking anywhere nearby. The council let me buy an annual parking permit (£65-odd), so I can at least now park in any of the town’s off-street car parks for free, which I guess is all right. I still begrudge paying though but that’s just me.
What does “amuse” me, though is that the signs in the car/coach park by the ticket machines read “Welcome to Canterbury”. I must say that the council seems good at adding insult to injury: “You’re welcome if you give us money” but they don’t even acknowledge that you’re not anywhere near Canterbury, save for being in it’s council district. Considering the money that will be made for parking in town now, I’d have thought the council could have stretched to signs saying “Welcome to Whitstable” at least, if not “Tankerton”.Man; I’m getting grumpy.
|OK; you can all relax. I made the connection all right (see 2 Nov comment). However, I thought I’d have a heart attack before I got to the gate for the Warsaw flight. It’s a bloody long way from one side of Heathrow Terminal 1 to the other when you’ve got 15 minutes…..
I have to thank the purser, Ms Jenkins, though. She got me moved up to the front of the Heathrow-bound aircraft just before it landed, allowing me to get off first and make the sprint through Flight Connections (don’t want to even think about that part) and on to my next flight. Well done British Airways.
|I’m writing this in Germany as I have some business here in the next couple of days. I’ll then fly on to Warsaw for a few days to spend time with loved ones before getting back to the “normal” routine in the UK next week.
Now; I have flown a lot in the last few years and generally not had any major difficulties or concerns. However, this trip does worry me a little as, in order to keep the costs down, the Duesseldorf – Warsaw leg goes via London Heathrow. This in itself isn’t a problem, as I have had to make connecting flights before. What worries me is that there is only 45 minutes between touching down and taking off again, which is a very tight connection. Both flights are being operated by British Airways, so if there is a problem, then BA will at least arrange for an alternative flight. I hope…..
|When I was married, we kept varying numbers of cats. At most, there were five but today only three are left.
After I had bought the “former marital home”, as the solicitors liked to call it, Ness moved to another house in town, taking the cats with her. However, one of them, Edison, seems to have made a habit of walking across town back to the old house. He’s now done it for the second time and by the look of him, it took longer than last time to get his bearings. A once chunky/overweight cat came through the catflap on Thursday a mere shadow of his former self. Ness and the girls were on holiday, so Eddie has been kept in the house, pending their return. Once the ladies returned, he was safely “repatriated”.I wonder how long it will be before he makes his way back here again?
|Blimey; has it been that long since I put anything in here? Oops. What’s to add? Well, since July, I have been on holiday to Poland (again), got divorced, bought back my old house and bought a motorcycle. All part of the “middle-aged-wants-to-be-a-lad-again” syndrome, perhaps. Well, I must say that getting a bike again has been refreshing. I’ve been hankering after one ever since I sold my old XS650 back in ’86.
It’s safe to say that motorcycles have come a long way since the latex-framed Japanese bikes of twenty years ago. This new machine (Yamaha TDM900, for anyone who cares), is a world away from what I was used to. Still bags of fun, though.
It does mean, however, that I’d not taken the pushbike for a while. When I went into town today to get photos of the Boys Brigade march through the High Street in Whitstable, I cycled into town. Apart from anything else, I was aware that traffic may have been rather hectic, as the gas mains are being replaced in Canterbury Road, effectively shutting one end of Whitstable from the other. Riding the bicycle has, not surprisingly, knackered me. Time to get back into trim again, I think…..
|Well, it’s Regatta weekend and so naturally the rain has returned. I took a look along the slopes with the idea of getting some pictures of any water activities. However, what I found was nothing more than what seems to be an overgrown village fête. I remember the Regatta being a genuine water celebration event, with rowing contests, yachting races, greasy pole walking, etc. Now it seems not much more than a commercial venture, which is rather sad.
|Phew! The counter statistics email arrived last night and shows that people have started coming back to visit again. 248 people, in fact, which seems to tell me that it’s better to upload a 95% complete site than keep the old one lying fallow for too long.
|Oh, my word. Among the items in my inbox today was the visitor statistics for the last week. Want to take a guess as to how many people visited in the week ending 16 July? No? Well, I’m going to tell you anyway. One. One solitary vistor. Thank you, whoever you were. Now I know I have to upload the new site, ready or not.
|Right. I’m back. All memories of Warsaw are slowly fading away as “normality” returns. It’s been a long time since the site has had an update and I’m having difficulty in getting back into the swing of things. Plus of course, there’s a load of work to catch up on. At least I have the luxury of working from home, so I can plan my days to my needs.
My personal life has taken on a number of twists and turns in the last year, culminating in a wonderful four weeks that ended today, with a trip back from Heathrow. As an obscure comment to those in the know:
“Only seven weeks to go…..”
|The Polish trip continues and I realise that I’ve only got another week here. Where has the time gone? Another thing; for those of you that think the former Eastern Bloc countries are cold and desolate, the temperature here in Warsaw and it’s environs has been about 30 degrees nearly every day. OK; so the winters can be particularly harsh but summer? Wow! I’m getting more like a lobster every day.
|I got a call from my friend who is looking after the flat in my absence. Among the post received was a letter from Kent Constabulary advising me that if my driving documents were not handed in (following the Volvo hitting my car back in March), then I could face prosecution. As it happens, I handed them over to the Herne Bay police station a week after the incident.
Now, this may seem naive but I feel particularly aggrieved at receiving such a letter. The only reason I contacted the police in the first place was because some bas***d smashed into my (parked) car and I felt it incumbent of me to report it, if only to have a reference for my insurance. I got a letter from the police a fortnight later telling me that no further action would be taken and if I wanted the record kept on file, it would cost me £38 a year for the privilege.
So, not only do I get my car stoved in and have to find £150 to cover the excess plus lose my no-claims bonus plus face a higher insurance premium next year, the police have the temerity to tell me they may prosecute ME for not handing in my documents. British justice; the best in the world…..
|As stated below, I’m not currently in a position to provide any updates for a while. Certainly not for the news page. That’s because I’m writing this from an apartment in Warszawa, during a quiet moment in my Polish visit.
The culture here is a world away from what I’m used to. Today is my first day completely alone and it felt odd sitting in a street café watching the world go by. Not unpleasant, of course; I was just highly conscious of my lack of Polish, which tends to make you feel a little vulnerable, as it does (for me, anyway) whenever I am not confident of the local language. However, I intend to enjoy this trip as much as possible.
It does mean, however, that I will not be able to reply to mails for a while, as I don’t have access to email posting. I can receive but can’t send, as I’m connecting to the web via the local Warsaw ISP, not ClaraNet. Don’t let that stop you sending contributions, though. I can still read them and post them onto the site, as I don’t need to use ClaraNet for that either.
|Further to the 21 April cycling tale of woe below; have you ever tried to put washing on the line with only one hand? This is becoming tiresome….. Actually, I shouldn’t complain. I mean; at least my incapacity is only temporary. It could be much worse.
Still, I’ll be in Germany next week on business. That’ll keep me occupied for three days. The following week, I’ll be back at the fracture clinic to see how good my healing powers are, followed by a 3 week trip to Poland. So, I’m afraid that for a while, this site will not be getting many updates.
|On a trip into Canterbury to drop my car off to the body shop (see the 31 March Volvo comment below), I popped into the Sturry Road branch of Jessops to fill some time. Always a bad move to “window shop”, really, as I seemed to have spent money on a replacement digital camera, a Nikon Coolpix 3500, for anyone who cares. It was on offer at 33% off, so I got it. I shall still keep the Minolta 35mm SLR but at least I finally have a decent digital camera with an optical, rather than a digital zoom. You never know; I might even add more pictures to the site more often now…..
|Another day, another cycling story (see the 23 March item). I went out on the bike this morning, as it was such a bright, sunny day. I went along my usual shorter route, via Pye Alley Lane and Wraik Hill, then back down Borstal Hill and through the town.
Well, that was the plan and all was well until I got to Canterbury Road, when a lad on his bike came flying out from a side road, right across towards the pavement on the other side. I must have been doing almost 20 mph when I hit him square on. Having picked myself up from the tarmac and reading him the riot act, I limped back home. The reward of my little jaunt this morning? A number of grazes and gashes, plus one broken elbow and wrist. I shall now be in plaster for “between 2 weeks and 5 months, depending on your healing rate, Mr Male”. Terrific.
So, for what it’s worth, I sincerely hope that his rear wheel, which helped me on my way through the air, is suitably buckled. Accordingly, I’ll be off work for the next 10 days at least. Remember, Steve; no ranting…..
|Happy Easter, everybody.
It’s been a while since I put anything in here. Still, today is a pavement/sidewalk splittingly hot day, so I’ve been out on the bike with my old chum Mark. Our little jaunt took us from Tankerton, through Herne Bay and up to Reculver, along the coast. From Reculver, we rode on through Hoath and Maypole, then cut across to Broad Oak. Through the Westgate end of Canterbury, along Forty Acres Road and up St Stephens hill into Tyler Way. Just beyond that, we joined the “Crab & Winkle” cycle path, through Clowes Wood, up to Whitstable Tesco, under the old Thanet Way, past All Saints church and back on to Tankerton. I have no idea how many miles we covered but we were out for over 3 hours. Me? I’m knackered…..
|I know I said I would try not to rant in this column but if the comedian that drove through my (parked) car last night had any sense of decency, he/she would have stopped to own up to it. As it was, all I could report to the local constabulary was that it was a RED “J” REG VOLVO. I know it was red, because I have the stripe down the side of my (green) car. I know it was a Volvo because I extracted the mirror housing from out of the door panel….. My personal feelings towards you, whoever you are, are NOT polite.
|Time to own up to my (occasional) Luddite tendency. I had thought that it had gone rather quiet on the email front of late, so I thought I would check the site links. I notice that one of the addresses I have included is [email protected] (not a link). However, when I went to check said email address, I discover I haven’t set it up on my ISP account. So, when I added [email protected] (still not a link) to my accounts in MS Outlook, I managed to lock up the PC for what seemed an eternity as nearly 200 mails trundled in.
Now, it’s fair to say that maybe 90% of these mails were spam, an awful lot coming from dodgy Nigerian finance department civil servants (yeah, right). However, there were also lots from bona fide hbay.co.uk visitors. I can only apologise to all of you who wrote to me via this link. I was going to remove the address but I can’t be doing with trawling through the entire site to check which links use that address; it was easier to add it to my account, which I’ve now done.
So, with any luck, ALL the emails bound for this site will now actually reach me…….. Gee; what a klutz.
|Yet more glorious weather, so out on the bike again. However, this time, NOT such a good idea. Whilst returning from Mum and Dad’s I had the misfortune to argue with a car. Needless to say, the car won the argument, although I left a usefully large head-shaped dent in it’s rear offside door. I don’t know; maybe the (old) driver was dazzled by my lily-white skin and bright yellow t-shirt…..
In the unlikely event that anyone is concerned, the bike got away completely unscathed and I limped off with just cuts and bruises. I think I’ll know about it in the morning, though.
|If ever I was to offer myself any advice, it might be something like:
“when deciding to update a web site, DON’T be drinking vodka beforehand.” Man; this can get complicated enough when you’re compus mentis, but after a couple of drinks? Don’t try this at home, kids; it’s not funny or clever…..
|Back in December, I went to the Marlowe Theatre to get my parents a token for Christmas. Whilst there, I saw an advert for an upcoming concert by Midge Ure. Any British 40-something people will know him as the lead singer of Ultravox, one of the more popular “New Romantic” bands of the 80’s. Midge has a successful solo career (he also wrote the Band Aid “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” single with Bob Geldof) and so I bought 3 tickets, with the aim of taking the girls to see the music their old man used to listen to.
Well, the concert was tonight and he did NOT disappoint. The girls agreed that it was a very cool evening. And boy; can he belt out a song. I just hope he comes round this way again.
|For the last few days, the weather has been wonderful, so long as you ignore the abberation that was Wednesday last (see 12 March entry). Suffice to say, the bike has got to see daylight again, two days in a row. I woke up early today and actually cycled down to the swimming pool. OK, so it’s only about a mile away but I did go out on the bike for a couple of hours yesterday, too. Once the washing goes out this morning, I’ll even give the bike another outing. After years of pathetic inactivity, I think the body is going to go into shock. The weather reports indicate that we’ll have an Indian summer for the rest of the week, too. Here’s hoping. At the time of writing (about 11:00 am), the temperature in Tankerton is about 15° Celsius/ 59° Fahrenheit. So, an opportunity to expose some of that lily white skin to sunshine beckons…..
|More sunshine, more time outside. This is most out of character for me, your typical blonde-haired, blue eyed, fair-skinned wuss. I should consider getting my legs sponsored by Unigate Dairies…..
However, I gave myself a treat this afternoon by taking a stroll along the Street Stones, something I’ve not done for many years. Not since the girls were toddlers, in fact. Low tide was about 4:30 and there was hardly a cloud in the sky. Fabulous. You get a completely different perspective of the town out there at sea. It was a little chilly but very invigorating. Photos should be back later this week, so I’ll get them posted up on the site.
|Well, you know what they say about “Mad dogs and Englishmen”. However, in this case, I’d be rather happy for a bit of midday sun. I took the car to Herne Bay for it’s service and, in a vain attempt to get a bit of exercise, the bike went into the boot (that’ll be the trunk for our colonial cousins). It’s been a little overcast recently but, hey, it looked OK this morning.
I dropped the car off then cycled on to the optician. Came out of the opticians and the heavens opened. I can tell you that a short (3 mile) bike ride back to Tankerton in the driving wind and rain is a thoroughly stupid way to spend time, particularly without waterproofs……
|Hmm. More evidence of allowing the site to lay fallow. Sorry. However, I have been “otherwise occupied” this week and have had far better things to do with my time. Things to do, people to meet, plans to make; all that sort of thing. There we are; the chance to suggest a little mystery in life. Or not.
|Blimey; what have I been doing? For months now, work has been fairly quiet and I have been able to at least update the news pages. All of a sudden, there’s loads to do and the web page takes a distinctly rear seat. This is the second week in a row where I have not written anything. Terribly sorry.
What else? Oh, yes. The weather seems to have decided on a kinder tone lately. So much so that I went out on the bike again this afternoon. A bit chilly but I was certainly warmed up by the time I got home. Do you need to know this? Probably not but there you go. If the weather holds, I should try to get out every day for at least half an hour.
I also took delivery of a new toy today, in the form of a rather swish mobile phone. Now, generally I’m not much of a technophile but this fella really is considerably more flash than my last one. Trouble is, there is no signal from my new gaff, so it doesn’t matter how flash it is. This lack of signal can be a pain, except when I don’t want to be disturbed, of course.
|I started moving stuff into my new place today. The bulk of the stuff will go in over the weekend but already the old flat is beginning to look bare. For a couple of days, I shall be incommunicado as far as the Internet is concerned, until BT fit the new phone line on Monday.
I’ve had a number of people get in touch to wish me well. Thanks to one and all for that. It’s more expensive than my present flat but bigger and almost on the seafront. This will be the first year that I will actually have a property that directly overlooks the carnival route.
|Staying with a cycling theme; I have no idea why I agreed but somehow I seem to have got myself roped into participating in this year’s London to Brighton cycle ride. My old mate Mark has either:A very persuasive manner orsome blackmail hold over me.Still, it’ll all be for charity, mate. British Heart Foundation, I believe. Plus I will be able to see Mark suffering as much as me, too. I’ve got a couple of months to get some training in still. However, when Mark and I went out last September, on a round trip to Boughton (about 28 miles in total) we were gone for 3½ hours, including a couple of stops on the way. The London to Brighton is 59 miles, if I’m not mistaken. What have I taken on?
|I was out on the bike this morning, which gave me a little time to think. And what did I think? Well, the first thing was that, while going out on a bike is wonderful (especially by the sea), you become highly conscious as to how invisible you are to drivers. I went to Sainsbury’s and became a near miss victim courtesy of no less than six cars in the car park. OK; perhaps they don’t expect to see cyclists in the car park but three of the drivers were going forwards. I can (almost) forgive those who were reversing out of parking spaces.
Oh dear; I seem to have started with a rant. I’ll try not to do that too often.
|It’s Friday, so it must be the Quayside, the place that now constitutes my local. Formally the Punch Tavern, it’s at the harbour end of Harbour Street.
Well, perhaps not every Friday but it’s a great place to visit. Always a good atmosphere in there, albeit quite loud normally. It’s owned by an old schoolfriend, John Kray, although I only recall seeing him there once. Still; he did buy me a drink, so it can’t be all bad…..
Whilst it’s always lively, I am aware that since the demise of Sherrins, there is nowhere in Whitstable that caters for a late night out. On occasions, I go down to Deal with Mark. Whilst Deal is probably as sleepy as Whitstable, it does have a few late night venues, the Strand pub and The (Quarter)Deck nightclub. Both are loud and brash but a good time can be had by all.
Whitstable, by contrast, has no such facility anymore. Sherrins was nothing special, it was safe to say, but it was at least somewhere for over 21’s to go to. Now you will need to go to Canterbury if you want a dance night out. We are so conservative around here…..