Sunday, September 27, 2009

Island Life

When I referred to A Better Place, I didn't actually mean that it was better.

What I meant was that; There were hardly any people, the people that were there were friendly, the scenery was fantastic and varied, I didn't need my passport but it was like going abroad, and there is so little pollution in the air that on a clear night you can see many times more stars than you can in the crowded South-East corner of England.

OK, on many levels I did mean that it was better!

I have just returned from a few days on the beautiful Isle of Arran in Scotland. Now obviously the means of getting there and back will provide plenty of blogging fodder, but for now, all I can say is STUNNING!

Yes, we were lucky with the weather. My experiences of holidaying in Scotland tell me to take the waterproofs, and to count it as a bonus if you don't need to use them.

Anyhow, here is a very small selection of the photographs that I took while on the island. Hopefully they will give you a feel of the place:

A Highland Coo in Glen Rosa
According to my Ordnance Survey map, this is called Glenrosa Water or Garbh Allt. I call it picturesque.
Afternoon sun on the beach at Blackwaterfoot.
A still day at Lochranza

And finally, just to add a modicum of topicality, this is the CalMac ferry that took us to and from the island. The "Caledonian Isles" travels several times a day between Adrossan Harbour and Brodick, the largest settlement on Arran.

PS: At some stage I might jig the layout of this post around a bit. For now it will do as I have to head off to Watford for the rugby.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Simple Rules

I try to live my life by some simple rules. You know the ones; "Though shalt not steal", "Though shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife / oxen" and similar.

Two more:

-Eat chilli with rice, and
-Eat bolognese sauce with pasta

Unfortunately, having just put the rice on to boil, I have just discovered that the tub of chilli I have defrosted is actually a very tasty tub of home-made bolognese sauce.

Given that it is a Saturday evening, I suspect that there will many worse examples of rule breaking around our towns and cities tonight...

Monday, September 21, 2009

A better place

A fair bit of public transport over the last week or so - the best part being when it was taking me away from the South East of England.

Having taken loads of photographs, it will quickly become apparent where I have been - this picture is just to whet your appetites.

Regrettably I got more and more depressed this morning as I joined the hundreds of office drones walking between Marylebone and Baker Street. Still, work means I can pay for holidays.

Now, where was I? Oh yes....

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Grumpy People

On a Saturday afternoon, Chiltern Railways usually run a Northbound 1727 service from High Wycombe, which calls next at Saunderton, then Princes Risborough and then Haddenham & Thame Parkway.

As I mentioned at the time, there was a rugby match last Saturday at Wembley Stadium, so Chiltern were running a tweaked timetable to cope with the extra passengers, of whom there were plenty.

The trouble was, the Northbound 1727 service last Saturday was a different train to usual, so it didn't actually stop between High Wycombe and Haddenham & Thame Parkway.

Cue lots of people who had an unexpectedly long ride courtesy of Chiltern Railways. You can't really blame them. Many were grumpy.

Usual timetable:

Last Saturday's stopping pattern:

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Forty Four Thousand Eight Hundred and Thirty Two

Yes - That's 44,832 people at Wembley Stadium for a club Rugby Union match. The top tier at the stadium was empty, but it was still pretty impressive and there was a great atmosphere.

Yesterday's match finished 19 - 16 to Saracens, though it has to be said that Northampton Saints put up a great fight and it was nail biting right until the final whistle.

I have to say, I was impressed with the effort that Saracens, as a club, put into making the afternoon a fun event. They had 'Diversity' doing some dancing, a rock band, the Royal Marines and an abseiling camel.

The first time I went to the stadium it was to see a concert , so it was good to see it in use for a sporting event. Despite my qualms about degraded public transport all went well, though Chiltern Railways' staff did seem to be letting too few people onto the platform for each train - I missed mine by about twenty people and the next one had a nearly empty carriage when it left the station. Still at least it offers me a virtually door-to-door service.

Apologies for the poor picture and video quality - I've come to the conclusion that my mobile phone is a rubbish camera.

Saracens are currently second in the Guinness Premiership - hopefully that will last a while, but only time will tell.

Sarrie the Camel

The Royal Marines

Saturday, September 12, 2009


For a reason that I haven't really been able to fathom out, Saracens are playing this afternoon's rugby match against Northampton Saints at Wembley Stadium. Somewhere around 35,000 / 40,000 rugby fans are expected on what could be a Bluebird Day (if it had snowed last night, which obviously, it didn't).

It suits me fine as it save a drive to Watford and the dreaded Match Day Parking CPZ around Vicarage Road - Today I can let the train take the strain, and possible have a sherbert or two, something I cannot normally do.

Chiltern Railways have extra trains stopping at Wembley Stadium - great for me, but with engineering works on the Amersham branch, and no Metropolitan Line from Northwood to Wembley Park and the Jubilee Line also out for engineering works, I suspect that London Midland services (serving both Northampton and Watford) at Wembley Central will be a bit busy.

Hopefully the rugby will not play second fiddle and it should be a great afternoon.

It's not too late to go - tickets are £10 on the door, £5 for children. Shades and shorts required.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

So, what's my problem?

I have nothing against university, or of the concept of clever people studying hard to earn degrees that will help them push this country forward and far.

Many of the brightest graduates, or simply those clever enough to pass through an attribute based assessment centre process, are taken onto Graduate Training Programmes by large organisations. Mine included.

In my experience, some of the programme participants are rubbish. Most are good. A few are brilliant.

A brilliant colleague has just moved on, as have one from each of the other two categories.

Their replacements from this year's intake are to to arrive shortly.

My boss is teflon coated. My fear this morning was that I was about to be asked to line manage the newbies. I would really dislike doing that.

Fortunately, when my boss and I eventually spoke, he had other things on his mind.. Hopefully he was never going to ask me anyway.

The lovely ridge of high pressure currently sat over the UK means that it is now a truly glorious evening in Rural Buckinghamshire.

Seventeen Words

It's a beautiful sunny, morning. Not a cloud in the sky. I am walking from Marylebone to Baker Street.

My voicemail bleeps. Should I pick it up? I do.

Sigh. It's the boss.

"Hi xxx, it's xxx. Please could you give me a call? It's about the new grads. Thanks."

I have a sinking feeling.....

More later, and an explanation.

Monday, September 07, 2009


There are currently severe delays on the Central Line.

The next train from Northolt to West Ruislip is currently 23 minutes away and is at Queensway.

Ouch indeed.

Imagine if you will that..

... You have a full time job that involves working mixed shifts. The job is safety critical, with potentially dire consequences if you make a mistake.

The company you work for says that it will pay you double time if you volunteer to work exrra hours on Sundays.

After a period of time, the company decides that it no longer wants to pay you as much in return for you volunteering to work on Sundays.

You decide that you would rather spend the time with you family and friends.

Now imagine that you are a driver working for London Midland.

Sent from my mobile device

Sunday, September 06, 2009

It appears that some people couldn't run a bath

I am sure that many people will find this quite incredible.

London Midland is a train operating company with a fairly extensive network of services.

Today (Sunday 6th September 2009) nearly all of London Midland's train services have been cancelled, due to many staff not volunteering to work today.

According to Bob Crow, the failure to volunteer "was not organised action by workers but a case of the contractual right not to work being exercised".

I find this a little strange. I don't know how many people have failed to volunteer to work today, but it strikes me that if London Midland have had to cancel most of their trains, the number must be statistically significantly different to the norm. In my experience, such a significant variation in the behaviour of people is rarely un-coordinated, or without cause.

Which ever way you look at it, this appears to be a case of management incompetence at London Midland.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Sparse Pickings

It's the 4th of the month and the blog pickings are sparse.

Just had a skinful to help a really good colleague celebrate his departure and move onto pastures new.

Cornish Pasty from the station and half drunk bottle of water on the table, An attemt to rehydrate.

Tomorrow sees me picking up two friends at 1130 for the London Double Header at Twickenham. Should be a good day

A cunning plan is to unfold to get home quicker than anticipated tonight. The train from Marylebone is quiet.

A good weekend to one and all! Zzzzz....