A tale of a Scotsman living in SW london...

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Great night last night with my uncle. We spent it in a curry house (veggie only, which always seems to mean the food is amazing - Food for Friends in Brighton is another example of this) and the pub next door. Many varied discussions were had - the stupidity of stopping project Kangaroo (iplayer for all really), working with large IT and consultancy companies, how certain Indian IT companies always seem to have crap staff, cameras, amazing beaches (Orkney or Mozambique - the debate rages on!), steam trains and bikes.

And bikes are where I am most stumped. I've been after a new bike for years and my uncle is a frame builder, although he intends to only make one more. I may have asked him to make it for me last night.

I should add, this would be a special bike anyway, as he badges them up in my grandfathers name, and the colours of would be the Gordon Highlanders who my grandfather served for in the war. I'd also be tempted to go for Italian components, as he has been on at me for years to ride Campagnolo. Campag stuff is very nice, but a tad expensive!

Time will tell, but I think that's where my money will be spent this year...

Monday, February 16, 2009

Nice weekend, not doing that much but still feeling like I achieved a lot. Does that even make sense?

So what thoughts today? Well I watched Utd thump Derby yesterday and it got me thinking - what can they realistically win this season? And I came to the conclusion that will win the league for sure, I can't see them losing it now. So that leaves the league cup against Spurs, which I think they might win, but it very much depends on the team Fergie puts out rather than if Spurs are good enough to win.

Champions league is a challenge I think. Inter Milan look very good this year under Jose, and Barca are flying in Spain and in their qualifying group. I suspect Inter might just be too good for Utd this season with a stuttering Ronaldo and a lack of goals, but Rooney is coming back, Vidic and Ferdinand are playing again, Evra is coming back, so you just don't know. It's possible - if they beat Inter I think they'll certainly get to the final.

So that leaves the FA Cup. I see no reason why they shouldn't win it, chelsea are a possible unknown quantity now under Hiddink, but should utd go out of Europe they'll win the FA Cup. If they are in Europe still, I don't think they will.

Who's on for a tenner then?

Friday, February 13, 2009

A challenging but interesting week. The start of the week saw me trying to solve the challenges of an SAP call centre implementation from the perspective of documents being sent to the client. A bit of different problem but at the end of the day, not a major challenge to solve - it's an integration issue and one that is actually easy to solve. As such, it's very frustrating to know that I have a more challenging role to get to grips with while this keeps holding on.

The latter part of the week was a very different kettle of fish. This saw me trying to solve a very different beast - how do you solve a problem of monitoring movement, in a system you may, or may not, own. It's a much more complex beast to sort out and has really got the grey matter working hard!

The downside to this split personality is that I've spent all week away from my wife, and that's not something I like very much. Next week I've got some time off though as the project decided we all needed some time to spend relaxing at home so have given us all the day off. Which was nice of them! As it happens I was going to take the day off anyway, so this saves it for another day. The being away all week brings an interesting issue at home though, as my wife has been going mad as she has nobody really to talk to during the day at work as she is in a test room on her own, and then goes home and doesn't have me to talk to! So she's been keeping busy by going to her sisters and the like. It means that she wants to do loads this weekend and I just want to sleep, so we'll compromise somewhere along the way.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Ah, another week, another train to Leeds. Having commute to Worcester in the car for the last few years, the train is making a very pleasant change. You can work on it as you need to, and you can have the time to relax and read the paper, something I've not managed to do in years! In saying that, it only takes one bad train journey for me to revert to type and winge about the railways. My only comment about the trains operated on the east coast is that they are much older than the west coast Virgin trains as nobody has invested in the rolling stock on it. While they are clean and operate on time, they look old and feel tired inside, even in first. It compares badly to the trains you get on the continent, where they spent money on the trains to improve service and you can cross the continent in one in a reasonable amount of comfort. All the issues in the UK with road congestion could be helped with a better train service, as certainly in a lot of cases you can get to places by train.

However, it needs to be better value, and more flexible with it ticketing, for this to happen, along with better infrastructure when you actually get to your destination. As an example - Kings Cross has NO seating areas, no cafes, no bars. Hardly somewhere you are comfortable to wait for a train and doesn't make you feel you would travel through it in any kind of luxury. Even Waterloo has seating...

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Well, I'm very pleased with myself. Got up this morning and went to a new B&Q warehouse that we've watched being built for the last few months. It's huge, not that we really explored it. The reason for going was to buy a new door for the hall airing cupboard. For a while now the old door has been self destructing, so a new one was badly called for. So having ensured the door would fit in the coupe, off we went. Purchases made, a gentle drive home early morning was called for. I then spent a couple of hours tailing the door to fit, getting the chisels out and making it just right.

Looks great if you ask me, and having never hung a door before I'm even more pleased!

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Well, oxford street has beckoned today. Not done this in years, it's changed so much! We usually do our shopping in kingston but could only get some of the stuff we needed in town, so town is where we are! Sending this from my phone while my wife tries stuff on, and this is the first time h've sent something via the phone, so will see how it works!

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

So, tad extreme weather for London this week!

Sunday we noticed it looked like snow and sure enough, it started in the early evening. But when we woke up in the morning on Monday it was incredible the amount of snow that had fallen! So I didn't make it to Leeds as planned on Monday, but did eventually make it on Tuesday. The reason? South West Trains...

On Monday, SWT basically closed Wimbledon down as the didn't run any trains. As a result, all the shops were shut. I mean all of them (bar Tesco, which I think would open in a nuclear winter if there was money in it). It was really spooky! This was about 4 in the afternoon, so maybe they had been open before that, I don't know, but it felt like January 1st all over again. Anyway, this meant I couldn't get out of Wimbledon, so stayed at home for travel on Tuesday.

Tuesday comes, and SWT are still only running a skeleton service...I do eventually get one, but it doesn't stop where I need to so then have great fun on the underground. Then the east coast line train. the first two were cancelled, so I had to sit in Kings X for an hour. Well, I say sit, there isn't actually ANYWHERE to sit in Kings X. No coffee shop, no bar, no nothing where you can sit. So I went to St Pancras for a wander and was amazed by the place. It's stunning.

The train left on time, but it was old slam door which I didn't think they ran on the east coast main line anymore!

Anyway, here's a photo of the snow on the back of my car:

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Another day, another long day. Had to cancel my train, and as i should have been getting home now, I'm still about 90 minutes away from home, and bed.

Good week though, we've achieved more than I thought was possible in the last two weeks, and as a project team we are being rewarded for our efforts better than I have been in years and I've only been here two weeks. It makes a real difference to the morale of a team if your efforts are correctly rewarded, and I think some projects forget that and people become a number on a bottom line. Which may well be the case, but that doesn't make it right.

I live by the rule of treat others as you would wish to be treated yourself. Obviously, I reserve the right to over-rule that in certain unnamed cases! The guy who tripped me up end effectively ended my hockey playing for one by the resulting damage to my knee.

Also heard today that one of my friends is going to be made redundant, and another friend work has started consultation procedures. Not nice.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

OK, no update for a while but here's a quick one before my cab arrives.

I'm in Leeds. It's cold and miserable. I'm still at work having done 10 hours in the office. For the third day running. I'm hungry, tired and would quite like to see my wife soon.

On the upside, I'm going to the pub in a minute. God bless the German beer makers....

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Well, that's been a looong week so far.

Yesterday saw me go to York for a meeting. After getting the train from Leeds I walked to the office as I'd noted it wasn't that far away and I had a little bit of time. I needed the air to just get my head clear of one client and ready for the next one. As it turned out, it's going to be an interesting challenge, and I do wonder sometimes how people come to certain decisions. On getting back to Leeds I met up with my uncle who I'd not seen since the wedding in April last year. We went to Hansa's, a veggie curry house which was absolutely superb, followed by a beer in the pub next door which served loads of Belgium beers. Nice way to end the evening of chat about UNIX system admin, e-type Jags, cameras, and most of the night, bikes. He has a bit of a thing about bikes, in particular currently he's into Italian hand built titanium track bikes, coming in at over £3000 for the frame alone...

Today I've been in Peterlee, near Durham. It's not somewhere I'll be rushing back to for a holiday but it's been an interesting experience in understanding the current systems. However, the train has been delayed due to some clown commiting suicide on the line which I could do without. On the move now, just need to convince the guard that I don't need to change in York to get to Leeds to get a train to London as I've missed my Leeds train now. Best smile at the ready...

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

So, my first experience of Leeds is a japanese restaurant called Little Tokyo. It was a fantastic little place, food was excellent and the staff spot on. I can see it becoming a favourite.

The hotel is great as well. No need to bribe the staff with chocolates to get a suite here - I got one on my first visit! Nice decorated and quiet, and in the middle of the city you can't get any better. And it's cheaper than the hotels in Worcester, it really reminds you what a con Worcester hotels are!

Off out again tonight, think a curry is in order, though I'm going to have another tomorrow with my uncle who is desperate to go to a vegetarian curry house, and I'll be honest - I'm game!

Off to York for the afternoon and then onto Durham on Thursday, so lots of travel in the next few days. Next week doesn't look any better either, but at least it's mostly on the train (and in 1st class too ;-))

Monday, January 12, 2009

Long day...I suspect this place does long days, as most people are still here at 7 with no intention of leaving. Not fun, my eyes are glazing over.

Off to the hotel soon, will see what that's like. After 3 years in Worcester, and in a big city, you'd hope for better than Worcester offers!
So this is what modern train life is like - free wireless ;-)

Still didn't stop the usual chaos of the getting a seat. I'd pre-booked, but that all seemed to go out the window when the earlier train had been cancelled, thus trying to get two trains worth onto one. Never fun...

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Busy but satisfying few days.

In preparation of someone wanting to buy the flat, we've been sorting stuff out. This has meant discovering stuff I didn't know we owned. Which included a foam axe. Bit random, and neither of us remembers buying it. Anyway, we've been quite successful so far, with wardrobe space being reclaimed and cupboards cleared. The study has never been as organised, which is always nice!

Went out for a walk in the afternoon round Richmond Park while the viewings were on. This turned out to be shorter than planned as it was freezing! It was -2 when we got out, and -3 when we got back to the car. People were being a bit stupid and were on the ice on the ponds, right in the middle, where it doesn't take a genius to work out that if it goes there they are in big trouble, but what can you do. Looked very wintery, so we retired home for a cup of tea which was most welcome.

Popped to Kingston this morning for a few bits and pieces. Bought some new work shirts, which Katy disputes I need, but could not argue with the sale prices :-)

Off to Leeds tomorrow, which should be good. Arranged to meet my Uncle for a curry and as I've not seen him since the wedding last year, it'll be great to catch up, discuss work (he designs Solaris systems), whisky, beer, curry and bikes. He doesn't know it yet, but I'm going to get him to build me one of his designs for road cycling. These things take time to design and build, and will be costly I suspect, but will be worth it. I know roughly what I want but I've no idea about colour yet. Will see what I fancy closer to the time, there is a lot of welding to be done first!

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

And so here we are in 2009! Happy New Year to you all.

So what are the thoughts of this year already? Well, it now seems a bloody long time ago since the millennium! I spent time 10 years ago trying to patch everything in site in case all the dates failed. Not that we thought it would, but that's what everybody thought would happen. But i look back and wonder just what has changed in that time, and it's a lot, but you would expect that in 9 years I guess. What has surprised me is that it is 9 years!

I mean, in that time I've bought and sold my first property, bought another and still trying to sell it, moved house a fair few times and moved to a new country (I treat England as separate, after all I still get treated as a foreigner at times, though people now mostly complain about the Poles and the SA). Work has been varied and interesting, with good progression through the ranks. I've got married, seen my brother get married and most of my good friends (mainly in the last year!) and will no doubt see them all with kids soon before the decade is out.

Time flies...