“One more day to go, one more day to go,
Hey ho, hey ho,
One more day to go!”

Catchy song, no? Needless to say, by now I’m more excited than a baby in a strip club about the events of the next three days.

One day shy of being 30 years old. Three decades. It does make me think about the myriad of events has occurred to me in that time, excepting maybe the first decade, which was singularly uneventful. Don’t worry, I’ll spare you a tedious listing of greater and lesser bouts of nostalgia. Although I do look back fondly at the the arrogant teenager who thought he knew everything; Who learnt a lot and became the arrogant young man in his twenties who was fairly sure he knew everything. I’ve learnt a lot since then, so I look forward to being the arrogant man in his thirties who is absolutely certain he knows everything.

But I’m more prone to looking forward to looking backwards. I’ll start by looking forward to the events of tomorrow, the events of the weekend and seeing my friends, to moving in with Penny in the next couple of months, to road-tripping around Germany later in the year and to everything else that can and will happen.

Anyway enough of that rubbish, where are my drinks! Avast!

Update: Grrr…. Everyone here on site has signed and presented me with a birthday card today. Which means they all know that it’s my birthday tomorrow and that I have the day off. Which means it’s going to be impossible to sneak off early today! How inconsiderate is that? I’ve been in a celebrating mood since waking this morning and I’m supposed to sit and be productive all day? Don’t they know how this is supposed to work? Sheesh!


Phew! The last day of running workshops! (Pork and fish were the lunch options again) And so another evening’s entertainment had been organised. This time it was *gasp* in the centre of Braunschweig! We were going to leave the hotel! After some Dutch courage to brave the great outdoors, we headed off to an Argentinian steakhouse. Mmmm Lovely! Best steak ever! Though I might have been biased by the fact that it was neither pork nor fish.

After food some colleagues and I decided to go off and do some sightseeing before joining the others in a bar. It turns out that Braunschweig, of which I’d not seen anything but the industrial side, was actually a very pleasant, pretty mid-sized town with an architecturally interesting old-town.

So eventually we ended up in a bar called DAX, after the German stock exchange. It turned out not to be as random a name as was thought, as the prices of all drinks were displayed on a giant board and changed electronically every two minutes, depending on demand. It did cause quite some drink mixing with some people, as they would rush up to the bar whenever something was particularly cheap, regardless of what it was. Personally, I made sure managers were buying and stuck to the excellent local beer, Duckstein.


A sort of day-off! Hurrah! After some work in the morning, I had nothing else to do. Around about this time I also learnt that I had had the most gruelling workshop schedule of everyone, as I had been presenting in every single slot. The next nearest person had only presented in every second slot. So, with that in mind, I decided I was entirely justified in going off to Braunschweig to do some sight-seeing, shopping and general dosing about before it was time to catch my flight home.

I finally came home Friday night, laden with food, new clothes and books. It was a long a troubled journey home, but I was certainly glad to be back and glad to see Penny again.


Ah, blessed weekend! Saturday was a busy day, consisting of picking up a new company mobile, a new computer part-paid by the company and, when Penny finished work, we went and had a lovely meal at The Swan, which is on the Basingstoke Canal. Next we had the Aldershot Fireworks Extravaganza, or whatever it was called, which was actually excellent. And finally, Di’s housewarming where I most anti-socially drank Di’s wine and spent most of the evening talking to someone with fairly balanced views on paganism.


Virtually nothing happened today. Thank the gods…


Monday morning began ridiculously early, so I could catch a morning flight to Hannover. My weekends are more precious than ever now that I’m home less, so there was no way I was going to agree to flying out on Sunday night. Thankfully the company paid for cabs for everyone, which was a relief as it meant I wouldn’t have to try and negotiate public transport at stupid-o’clock.

Upon arrival, work began in earnest with a couple of workshops to run. The destination at the end of the day? The hotel bar of course!


Take away the travel, Tuesday was identical to Monday. Workshop, after workshop, hour after hour. By now though a pattern is emerging in the meals. Every single lunchtime and every single evening meal there is some variant of having a choice of either pork, fish and/or vegetables. There had been some cost-saving going on and we had a restricted menu, differing each mealtime only the cut of pork and the type of fish. Every single meal except breakfast. Blegh. Only one thing for it… Off to the hotel bar!


Ah, more workshops. More pork. More fish. But at least the evening was different this time and some entertainment was arranged. In the hotel of course, which I still hadn’t left by this point. It was starting to feel like Hotel California. “You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.”

The bowling, for such was the entertainment, ended up being an adequate diversion, but not the main one of the night. That coveted title went to a somewhat inebriated manager who began his somewhat drunken escapades by getting much drunker by doing a couple of tequila slammers. Not in the usual fashion though. His particular technique was to snort the salt and pour the lemon in his eye before downing his (generous) shots. It still wasn’t over though. Not content with pawing and, in some cases literally, chasing some of the women from the project team around the bar he decided it was time do his part of international relations. He put his left hand on his top lip (so as to impersonate a moustache) and began goose-stepping up and down the bar, bellowing “Eins, zwei, drei, bier!”. In a German bar. In Germany. In front of a room full of Germans.



So, Wednesday night involved a flight to Hannover. Unfortunately, having spent the entire day in an office block, underground train or airport departure lounge, I hadn’t realised how bad the weather had got. The result was a one and a half hour delay in taking off, which certainly stretched my patience. On my eventual arrival, a taxi was waiting for me, all pre-booked and pre-paid. Unfortunately the driver stank to high heaven. He’d obviously been eating something unwholesome sometime in the last week or two. My mood got no better on arrival at the hotel where I found that my reservation had been lost. Luckily this was quickly solved, but my irritation was about to reach a new high, despite the fact the journey was over. Some genius had decided that the best place for an over-sensitive lightswitch was in the headboard of the bed. And so, every 5 minutes or so, my head or the pillow, or some passing microbe would switch the main lights on, wrenching me from my well-earnt slumber. This went on for a while until I finally decided to remove the lightbulb from the fitting. I was quite reasonable about it though. In the morning I returned the bulb to reception, with an explanation of why I was presenting it to them.

The next day, the meeting itself went very well indeed. A hostile audience (hostile to the project, not to me personally) was converted into being positive about the future and all was right with the world. I left Germany with a brain like scrambled eggs, but quite content. (Okay, maybe I was a little smug as well). And this morning, my project manager reported to me that apparently I “went down a storm” in Germany, which is nice to hear. Just as well really, my jaw really aches…

An Interlude

Sorry about that! Now, moving on to books I have finished recently. Firstly, ‘Freakonomics’ in our non-fiction category. Very, very interesting book, well worth reading. An economist uses his powers to investigate aspects of the world we often take for granted, gets accused of being a eugenicist and proves sumo wrestlers cheat! You can borrow it off me once Andy’s finished with it.

Next up, Clancy’s ‘Teeth of the Tiger’. Utter pants. I know I said recently that I only consider Clancy pulp anyway, but this has to have been the worst Clancy I’ve ever read! (The only one from the Jack Ryan\John Clark book I haven’t read is the previous one, Teeth of the Bunny or whatever) It is weak, boring, uninspiring, unresearched… bobbins.

And finally, ‘Thud!’ the newest Terry Pratchett. A book I enjoyed immensely. The second half was as good as the first half. Not my favourite Pratchett book, but it certainly fits well into the Guards storyline. Much better than ‘Going Postal’. I’m slightly hesitant to lend this out as it’s my signed copy.

Back Again

Stayed at Andy’s place again last night, which was cool. Travel from Heathrow to Chiswick is only 30 minutes. Watched an episode of Spooks (strange), ironed a shirt and crashed, only to get up early this morning to get back up to Amersham. Hopefully I can leave early today.


I couldn’t write about this earlier as Penny has internet access in the evenings now. But tomorrow is our one year anniversary since we got together. Amazing how time flies, isn’t it? She’ll be working part of tomorrow, but I certainly have plans for the evening…

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So last night was spent at Andy’s B&B, AKA the couch, which was cool. It was good to hang out over beers in the evening and have a semblance of a social life.

In a couple of hours I’m off to Germany, coming back tomorrow night and staying at Andy’s again. Friday I’m back at the UK client site and get to go back to sunny Aldershot at the end of the day.

Next week I should be in the UK all week, though I’ll be taking my passport with me just in case. The week after I’m in Germany all week for workshops. I expect that’s going to get really heavy, dragging on into the evenings. And potentially no internet access! How will I cope?

And the week after? Between one and three days in Barcelona. Nice! The only downside is that it’ll be right in the middle of the week so I can’t explore Barcelona in the weekend. And I can’t get the days either side off as holiday. How very annoying! But still, I’m going to try and explore the city in the evening(s).

Well, I did warn you about what was coming next!

First, an addendum to the last post. I was in Eindhoven Airport, went to the bar and asked the barman for a beer (in English). He asked whether I wanted a pint, but when I declined and asked for a regular sized beer (regular for the Netherlands that is) he responded with “Oh Im sorry sir, I mistook you for English. I do apologise.” I was actually speechless for a second there…

I have received word that my replacement at my former place of employment has resigned. She lasted all of a month. Well, less than that really. She worked there for a week (my last week at the company), signed off sick in week two, was on holiday in week 3, came back for half a week and resigned. Apparently something about unreasonable expectations…

I received quite a shock the other day when I checked my bank account and found I had a lot more in there than I was expecting. No, it wasnt because I was uncharacteristically frugal this month, but that my employer had mistakenly added a big bunch of cash into my account, equivalent to about a months salary. After getting over the shock, I enquired into it, had the error rectified and the money will be returned. That was undoubtedly the right thing to do, but I was certainly left with the guilty thought… Would anyone have noticed if I hadnt reported it? It would have secured my immediate move out of Aldershot. I could have gone house hunting and paid a cash deposit this very weekend just gone. I dont (entirely) regret returning the money, but Im going to be left with that lingering thought for some time.

Coming Next: The man, the hat, the book and the gossip

Last Thursday night I flew out to the Netherlands, for a day of meetings on Friday. Quite a painless trip, though there was an interesting innovation at Heathrow Airport. There was a strange cubicle next to the security scanners with a sign next to it proclaiming: “You may be randomly selected to help test our new full body scanner. If you refuse you will be subjected to a full body search by hand.” Sounds pretty ominous. I don’t know what technology the scanner was based around, but it does remind me of the body scanners used in Total Recall.

On the topic of security, while the machine-readable numbers were scanned from my passport by customs, I wondered what the passport number is checked against. A list of people forbidden to travel? A list of known criminals? And what happens to the information that I passed through Heathrow customs on that particular date? Do they retain that information? And to what end?

Eindhoven reminded me of Rotterdam in miniature. A small-ish, modern industrial town with the odd old building thrown in randomly here and there, but nothing cohesive. Nice enough though, and well kept. The hotel was very nice indeed and I wish I’d known earlier so I could have brought swimming trunks. Not to swim, of course, but merely to lounge around in the jacuzzi!

The meetings the next day went pretty much as expected, though the afternoon was an eye-opener. I wasn’t really that familiar with the operations of the nuclear pharmaceutical industry, but I certainly am now. I got to see a particle accelerator, I wore the white coat, over-shoes and hair net so I could enter a semi-clean area, and I had my radioactive dosage tested after walking around the manufacturing areas. It was all fairly awe-inspiring.

As was the coffee machine in the office. Instead of your more typical coffee machine which churned out weak instant coffee, this one had a big batch of coffee beans. When you made your choice of coffee, it grounds the beans and prepared wonderful coffee of the utmost freshness. Bliss! At lunchtime though, everyone scorned the coffee for the other Dutch national drink. Milk. I’m always amazed how slender the Dutch are, considering all the dairy products they consume every day. Full fat milk with every meal, cheese, yoghurts, yoghurt drinks etc. Every single day! No wonder they’re the tallest nation in the world!

So, at the end of the working day, I was shipped back over to Eindhoven airport. Amusingly, the drop off zone in front of the airport was called the ‘Kiss & Drop’ zone, but I made sure I stayed at least an arms length away from the taxi driver.

Coming next: A general mish-mash of events, occurrences and thoughts.

Workshops should be renamed to work churches. After all, you don’t buy into anything and you can only pray that you get something productive out of it! Which is what I’m going to be doing all day today.

I had a wander around Amersham last night, it’s not a bad little town. Decent library (huge graphic novel collection, though their internet computers didn’t allow you FTP access. Grrr…), an indoor climbing wall and a Pizza Express. And in contrast to Aldershot, the local Bargain Booze has no full-time security staff and the local kids are at least polite when they ask you to buy booze for them and don’t hurl abuse at you when you refuse. A seeming lack of pubs though…

The Quill Awards completed last night. Some of the highlights are that the latest Harry Potter won Book of the Year and Best Children’s Chapter Book. Gaiman’s 1602 won best Graphic Novel (still not read that one) and the most amusing title for me is the winner of the SciFi/Fantasy/Horror category (it’s all one thing you know!) which is ‘The Stupidest Angel: A Heartwarming Tale of Christmas Terror’ by Christopher Moore. The rest of the winners are here.

Right, that worked, so first an update of the last week that I have missed blogging.


Tuesday was my last day in the office for some time, just as I was getting used to getting up late, having lunch at home and being home before The Simpsons starts. All things change, especially in the world of conslutancy.


What a day. First day at the client site, various work-based pressures and some of the worst cigarette cravings since I gave up. I nearly cracked on numerous occasions. But the highlight of the day was meeting up with everyone after work, first in St Stephen’s Tavern in Westminster, and then at the Tattershall Castle. Ostensibly, as far as Kev was concerned, this was just a general meet-up drink, but was actually to present him with his 30th birthday present. It was given early so he could actually book his appointment to fling himself out of a plane as close to his birthday as possible. I have visions of Kev being securely fastened to a fat man, hurtling to the ground! There may or may not be a parachute involved, but it still sounds terrifying!

Spent the night on Andy’s sofa, which meant for a reduced journey time in the morning and more sleep despite the late hour of ‘lights-out’.


Nothing major to report, ended the day back in Aldershot having a nice Thai meal in Aldershot. Both pleased and horrified to find the staff there recognised us from previous visits. We have become… regulars.


Pay day! Yay! Long awaited and much enjoyed. Penny’s day was mostly spent putting her belongings into storage, in preparation of her moving to her sister’s for the next 6 months or so. In the evening she was due to go to a leaving do in Fleet so, after pitifully whining, I managed to convince Linsey and Kev to join me for a drink or two. That was a good evening, starting off at the Tattershall Castle (fast becoming first choice in meeting-up places), then the Walkabout on Embankment and finally finishing at Pizza Express on the Strand. I nearly missed my train at the end of the evening, but just made it back in time.


Ah, shopping! Not a lot of shopping admittedly, and somewhat geeky. Picked up the ‘horror’ boardgame _______ (too sleepy, can’t remember now, need more coffee) which I’ve got a few things planned for. I’ve actually got a Global Frequency/Lethe scenario planned for the boardgame. I also picked up part 3 of Warren Ellis’ ‘Desolation Jones’. Still enjoying it, but it was the weakest so far. Three pages of the book were actually plot or plot-related background. The rest in it’s entirety, was about stuff Warren had learnt about the hardcore porn industry.


The plan was to go to Farnham for breakfast. Since we’d just missed the train, we decided to take the next available train, which took us to London. Since we were there we had brunch there, and then popped over to the Tate Modern, where Penny could have another look at the work of Anselm Kiefer, particularly the work ‘Lillith’. TM is due for a major rehanging and 40% of the pieces are due to be removed from the display.

The evening was spent with me trying to resurrect Endless Games. Unsuccessfully. I’ll take another stab at it this evening, even if it means recreating the database entries by hand.

Well, that’s it for now. Let’s see what a new day and a new week brings!

In my new job there is a rota for working late and early shifts so that the phones and email are covered all the time. While I’ve worked a few lates so far (a rather pointless 9:30 to 18:00) today is my first day working an early; A rather more pointful 7:00 to 15:30. And although I feel I could do with another hour worth of sleep, I actually quite like it. I work best in the morning anyway, it’s nice and quiet in the office and I get to go home early. Result!

And now, the news:

I found this interesting, especially when I sorted the table by Total Numbers 2001. The result? After the expected India and Pakistan in first and second places, what’s the third place? Germany! That’s unexpected! There are more Germans living in the UK than there are Caribbeans! Even more, even, than there are South African and Australian barstaff combined! (Okay, maybe not, they’re transient employees, not UK residents, but that doesn’t sound as impressive. Now shush! Whose blog is this anyway?!)

Anyway, I though it was interesting…

(It’s an invasion on the sly you know. It’s like the Angles, the Saxons and the bloody royal family all over again)