Friday, 23 March 2007

Monkey Business

Very sad news about Jim Cronin. We've visited Monkeyworld several times over the years, it is only an hour away from us, and Alice has taken part in the adoption program a couple of times.

But it wasn't just a cuddly, kiddy thing. The one thing the human race seems really good at is screwing things up, the capture of chimpanzees to be used for beach photographs, and the capture of orang utans to simulate boxing matches, being just two examples.


Monday, 19 March 2007


Once again, ages since I wrote. Very demotivated at the moment.

During the course of the last couple of weeks, we've been out a couple of times. Last Sunday was our anniversary, although sad to say both of us forgot and were only reminded when the card from my mum dropped through the door. Still, had a lovely Sunday lunch at the Old Beams in Ibsley - they do a consistently good roast, it must be said. Being the week before Mothers' Day, we had no trouble getting a table.

Yesterday, of course, was Mothers' Day. We hadn't planned anything special, although in the even we went to the farm shop cum tea shop at Kimbridge. This place had changed beyond recognition since we were last there a couple of years ago, having been quite massively expanded. Also, the cafe was very much pitched at something a bit more substantial, so we basically ended up having a proper meal (complete with pudding!) while we were there. Jecqueline really enjoyed her smoked trout and cream cheese sandwiches, so I guess the day was a success.

Life at the client's has become dire once again. The same old issues have come to the surface and I feel, once again, that the only way not to get stressed out about it is to just withdraw myself from things where possible. It is very much a case of, whenever I feel down, just call the bank manager - the bank balance is pretty much the only thing that makes life pleasant at the moment.

That having been said, they talked me into going over to one of their overseas offices last week. I've always shyed away from business travel in the past because (a) business travel is generally a big pain in the arse, (b) flying is generally a big pain in the arse, and (c) my current clients don't seem to think they should pay for the time I spend flying or hanging around at airports.

Still, a compromise was reached and I ended up billing the clients for a "normal" day, and actually being away from home for pretty much the duration of a "normal" day (albeit one that started before 5am). So from my perspective, I was happy because I had broke just about even. From the client's perspective, they got me to attend a whopping three hours' of meetings at their overseas office, and they seemed happy.

Somehow, though, I think (hope) I have managed to engineer things so they won't ask me again in a hurry.

Also on the work front, I spoke to some potential new clients last week. If anything comes of it, it will pose a bit of an issue, because the actual work sounds very dull, although I might be tempted to jump just to get away from the current client.

Had to spend a load of money lately. I've been sitting on an income tax demand which I just haven't been bothered paying. Plus, pretty much every bill - gas, electric, phone, water, sewerage, tv license - becomes due at the end of March. I made all the payments last night, and almost £4000 later... I laughed when Jacqueline asked me if that amount included the council tax (fat chance!)

Also, I am having a new roof put onto my car, which will cost a bob or two. But my car is thirteen years old this year and the roof did need some attention.

Finally, I have booked another holiday, to go out and see a stage of the Tour de France in July, just for the weekend. I have only ever seen Le Tour once before, to see Marco Pantani cycle up the Champs Elysees in '98, so this will be another chance. They are even starting in London this year, and having a stage to take them down through Kent toward the coast, so depending on how I feel nearer to the time, I may go to one or other of the English stages.

So, onward and upward. I spoke to my mum yesterday and she said snow was forecast, and when we arrived home yesterday I tuned into the live football (in which the mighty Everton beat Arsenal 1-0, Andy Johnson in injury time) and saw an almighty hailstorm come down onto Goodison Park. It has definitely chilled out over the last couple of days but whether our neck of the woods will get any of this arctic weather remains to be seen.

Tuesday, 6 March 2007

Chalk and Cheese

"It must be nice to be a cat", I thought as I basked in the sun. That early-March sunlight, so cold to the touch and yet so pleasant when experienced from behind a pane of glass.

I was travelling up to London yesterday, and the day was so pleasant I even ventured out to St James's Park (albeit well wrapped up) for lunch. But things were about to change.

I'm not sure when or where the change happened, but as I got off the train that evening I was struck not just by the heaviness of the rain but also by just how high the rain was bouncing after it hit the ground. And this was the story of the evening - heavy rain plus high winds, a veritable storm! Even Alice found it difficult to get to sleep (or was that simply a ploy?)

To put this into context, Jacqueline met me at the station on Friday, and she was delayed by heavy rain. Plus, on Sunday it is the only day I can remember where it rained continually from waking up until bedtime - a total of about an inch, which again is just about the highest daily value I can remember measuring.

Jacqueline has the lurgy, and has been off-colour for the last week. It is only a cold, but she's not been able to shake it.

I'm thinking of going over to France to see a stage of the Tour de France - ironic really since Le Tour is visiting England for a couple of stages this year. I need to cost it out and see whether it would be affordable - I'm thinking of going to one of the mountain stages so that'll mean flying down there. We'll see...

Life at the client's has settled back down into the humdrum existence of old. Any additional motivation generated by the contract renewal has well and truly evaporated. I need to take a step back, relax, and not show as much interest in what is going on. Its a shame, but there we go.

Ironically I had an interview with another potential client a couple of weeks ago, and the agent got in touch yesterday to say that there was likelyto be an offer coming out of it. Only problem is, the project didn't sound interesting and the role wouldn't do anything for my resume. So I had to say no...

Meantime it just keeps bloody raining!