Archive for December, 2007

Review

Monday, December 31st, 2007

Well, since Sally-J has done a review of the year, I thought I might jump on the bandwagon!

In January of this year, I completed my diploma – which while being good, meant that I felt obliged to stay loyal to my employers who had paid for it, even though I was thoroughly fed up with working for them.

Then – after twenty years loyal service – they made me redundant! This wouldn’t be good news for everyone, of course, but if you think of it as “Here’s the equivalent of a year’s take-home pay, now go away!”, it suddenly doesn’t look so bad. So that was two good things.

And the day they made me redundant, I spotted a job advertised which made me think “Hmm, I’d be good at that, I’d really like to have a crack at that!”. so confident was I, that I didn’t make that much effort to apply for anything else. Well, I applied for the job with Moving Things About Limited - whom I can now reveal were Southampton Container Terminal Ltd – but they didn’t like me and I didn’t like them, so it worked out about right.

And of course, I got the good job. My new boss Steve said he thought I’d be “A good organisational fit” – which made me wonder a bit about the organisation, but it seems OK.

So – a shedload of ca$h in the building society, a new diploma, and a much more exciting new job. Add to that a fabby cachepedition with Sally-J and Rob, a week in Devon with the Tates, and lots of other exciting things as well.

Any bad stuff this year? well, no, not really.

Happy 2008 to all our readers!

Paul 3, Chris 5

Sunday, December 30th, 2007

Saturday was fun – we had a caching chums meeting near Marwell, to which Jenny also came, and then she and I headed north to Nottingham.

Sunday morning, we were going to go to Jenny’s church but she’d wallied up the service times, so we were just in time for the after-service coffee :-) . Still, after lunch Chris and I had a rather successful afternoon caching – although Chris found more of them than I did, hence the title of today’s offering. Today’s finds were…
Sheet Stores
Fallen Heroes
Big Pond
Drop Dead Gorgeous in Derbyshire
Baby Bungee
The Suspended
Holy Water
Squeaky Clean

We’d have kept going, but we ran out of daylight – in fact we did the last one by torchlight. And now we’re resting up before heading for the quiz night.

Round Up

Friday, December 28th, 2007

Two days back at work…the good news being that Big Boss Steve threw us all out early both days. I can’t see that happening again – mind you, I’ve now got the longest of long weekends, as Sybil B is staying at Gottle Towers tonight, and then tomorrow she’s chauffeuse-ing me back oops north to spend the New Year with her and Chris and the kitties :-)

Considering The Nation’s Capital was empty of workers, the trains have been chuffin’ packed. Families going to spend all their Chrimmy money in the sales – and worse, on the way back in the evenings, blocking up the whole train with packages and luggage. Why can’t they shop online like normal people?

And today, I found time for a couple of caches! This morning I took a slight detour on my way into the office, and grabbed
Wobbly Bridge

And then after work, I took a slight detour on my way back to Waterloo for
Location Location Location

Christmas Post – or Post Christmas…

Wednesday, December 26th, 2007

Did you all have a fabby Christmas? I do hope so! Mine was pretty great – but I must admit it was a bit embarrassing to discover this afternoon that one of my Luvvly Mum’s presents is still in my desk drawer at work. Still, she had plenty to unwrap on the day, and now she gets a New Year present as well!

We did our usual going-out-for-lunch on Christmas Day, but for a change we went to the Mucky Duck – it was dead nice, and not as packed as our usual Christmas Day haunt.

Today I carried on my usual Boxing Day tradition and went geocaching! There’s a lovely new series of five down alongside the River Hamble, so I headed off to try them out. The first was overlooked by nearby muggles, so I moved on to
Hamble Ramble – Horse for the first find, tucked away to the side of the path. Then on to
Hamble Ramble – Which Way Now?, the easiest of the series, and then the hardest –
Solent Way – Warsash Ferry, where I took today’s photo.

Finally, I walked all the way back to the beginning, partly to collect Grunty and partly to get
Hamble Ramble – Lower Swanwick, the one I’d had to miss out at the start.

Those of you who know a bit about Hampshire caches will have noticed that I missed
Hamble Ramble – Gorse. In a fit of stupidity, I walked straight past it – twice! Ah well, it isn’t the first time I’ve done that, I did it with Rockin’ Rob in the Yorkshire Dales as well :-(

Back to work tomorrow. I wonder if the bacon sarnie shop will be open?

The Good, the Bad and the Santa

Monday, December 24th, 2007

Working in Central London on Christmas Eve has good and bad points…

:-( The trains are all c**ked up so you have to leave home half an hour earlier
:-) But once you get to the train, it’s half empty!
AND
:-) South West Trains are doing first-class upgrades for a fiver, because they think it’s the weekend.

BUT

:-( None of the bacon butty shops…NONE of them…are open.
:-) But there are so few people about that a cache close to the office – which has previously been unobtainable because there are too many people around – is easy. Ish.

:-( The Japanese takeaway isn’t open at lunchtime. And nor is anywhere else.
:-) But it doesn’t matter because you go home at lunchtime!

Merry Christmas from GottleBlog HQ to all my readers!

Would You Adam and Eve It?

Sunday, December 23rd, 2007

Having squeezed a day’s worth of stuff into the morning – nativity play at church, picking up parcels from the Royal Snail Parcel Office, wrapping presents and having lunch – I decided I could treat myself to an afternoon’s caching :-)

First was Bolshoi Booze, a puzzle cache that’s been waiting rather a long time, followed by
Upham Gently, a cache placed by our chums Esscafe – and well up to their usual standard!

The choice now was between more caches, or driving into Wickham for a bacon sarnie. It’s a bit complicated – but there were a couple of caches that I had more than one reason to visit, so after re-locating Grunty I trekked down the Itchen to
Carriage Works (Itchen Navigation series), before returning for
Barton River (Itchen Navigation series)

This last one brought a bit of a surprise, as on the way I spotted a couple of strangers in the distance – as in, “Stranger than the average cacher” as it turned out to be Rockin’ Rob and the lady Sally-J! So we found a cache, and I got some more pictures of Rob trying to throw Sally in the river (which will appear on Facebook soon). And then we all went home!

Dinner

Saturday, December 22nd, 2007

You may’ve noticed I didn’t blog yesterday.

I was conducting further experiments in mixing alcohol with works Christmas bashes – at least I didn’t fall downstairs this time! Ten of us went to an italian restaurant not far from t’office, calling in at a pub on the way. Well, most of us did – a couple of our number didn’t get the message that we were going to a different pub than originally planned, so we didn’t see them till we got to the eaterie. Anyway, it was my first “proper” experience with italian food, but if it’s always like that it could be a new favourite!

I even found the right train home afterwards – mind you, I only just woke up in time to get off at Southampton. It was a Weymouth-bound train, so I could have ended up visiting SarahJT’s parents!

I felt a bit rough this morning…

Meldrew is an Amatuer!

Friday, December 21st, 2007

I refute the accusations of Grumpy-Old-Man-ness that yesterday’s effort engendered!

Surely it isn’t solely the province of G-O-Ms to be irritated by selfish and inconsiderate behaviour? And I’m sure that all the examples I gave yesterday fit in both categories – with the possible exception of the screaming children one.

I could’ve listed several things that annoy me that WOULD have firmly been in G-O-M territory, but I didn’t. The stupid announcements on the trains, for example. I’m writing this on a train that’s about to leave Waterloo, and so far we’ve had the recorded announcer doing the list of stations where we’ll stop – twice – with the guard doing the same list “live” in between. As soon as we pull out we’ll get the same list again (there it goes now), followed by “You must buy a ticket before you get on one of our trains”. I know I’ve complained about this before, but what the wombat is the point of telling us that once the train has pulled out? We’ve either got tickets or we haven’t, either way it’s too late to tell us now.

Then there’s the very small minority of South West Trains employees who are lazy twunts and one day are going to get the “ticket machine up the jacksie” treatment, but I’ll tell you about them another time :-) .

On Tour

Wednesday, December 19th, 2007

One of the things that annoy train-riding commuter persons is “tourists”.

I don’t mean, in this context, people on holiday going to look at the sights, although most of them fit the definition. I mean – for example –

  • People who stand around in the middle of the station concourse blocking the place for people who know where they’re going. I know that if they don’t ride the train every day, they don’t know which platform their train goes from – but they could keep out of the way while they find out
  • People who get on packed commuter trains just as they’re about to depart, with huge suitcases, then block the aisle while they bitch and moan that there’s nowhere to sit.
  • People who stand at the back of the group waiting for the train to come in – then when the train arrives, push and elbow their way to the front to be first on. If you want to be at the front of the queue, it’s quite simple – get to the station earlier. This may not seem like exclusively tourist behaviour, but it’s noticeable that none of the regulars ever do it.
  • People who sit in the clearly-marked Quiet Coach – where mobiles and MP3 players etc are supposed to be not allowed – and waffle into their mobile at high volume. And get ratty with the Guard – sorry, Train Manager – when he tells them to stop.
  • And worse, people who get in the Quiet Coach and let their small child scream all the journey. I know that screaming is just what some kids do – so don’t take them in the quiet coach

Sometimes people who obviously aren’t tourists exhibit tourist behaviour, and the ones that REALLY get my goat are the ones who are so important, they have to answer that phone call or text RIGHT NOW. There was one trhe other day, head down charging along the concourse, obviously knew exactly where he was going, with me in his wake. His phone rang and he stopped dead, immediately, to answer it. I managed to dodge round him, but I accidentally gave him a rather satisfying thwack with my rucksack on the way past :-)

Faggot

Tuesday, December 18th, 2007

According to this news story, BBC Radio One are censoring the word “faggot” from the Pogues/Kirsty MacColl Christmas hit Fairytale of New York. Other BBC stations are letting it go out uncut.

While I’m not a fan of unrestricted swearing, I think that sometimes – and this is one of them – banning or censoring a word increases its power to offend or shock. Yes, “faggot” can be used perjoratively in a homophobic context, but the song makes it clear that that’s not what’s being meant here. Of course, it could be that I’m making the mistake of taking Radio 1 seriously. Still, somebody has to.

Thanks for your comments on yesterday – the Drinkies wasn’t at our office, it was the pub over the road so nothing to do with our hard-working Health and Safety Officer. But yes, it had handrails, and yes I was holding on to them – the problem was the lighting, it was a bit angular and the edge of one of the treads was in shadow.

Honest.

Bounce

Monday, December 17th, 2007

One of the things you REALLY don’t want to do, at your work’s Christmas Drinkies, is fall down the stairs. I wasn’t even drunk – well, not really, anyway. Luckily the director had left by then, and my head of section was looking the other way. And it didn’t really hurt that much.

I’m feeling better now :-)

Santa Claus is Coming to…Queen Elizabeth Country Park

Sunday, December 16th, 2007

There were seventy-five of them, allegedly – I can’t claim to have counted them all. I was too busy wondering if there was an open fire I could roast my chestnuts on – or any other way I could warm up, basically.

The whole thing was a sponsored walk for a local hospice, and I was Raynet-ing on one of the checkpoints. It was a nice sunny day, but freezing cold – even the pond was frozen over – and the hot chocklit and mince pies after the event were very welcome :-)

Needless to say I couldn’t travel to the other side of the county and not try for a cache or two. There was one in the park itself, just along the track from my checkpoint: I wasn’t expecting to find it as it had already been reported probably missing, but I had to have a look: I don’t think it’s there either.

So I moved on to Long Live the Ammo Box!, named for the fact that most caches these days are micros or tupperware. Then on to
The South Downs Way Jolly Up no. 5 – we met the owner of this one the day we did the Itchen Navigation caches. And finally in this corner of the countryside,
Coombe Across a Cache, by our friends Esscafe. Sarah always places excellent caches, and this one is no exception!

I mentioned the Itchen Navigation series – there were still two I hadn’t done, so on the way home I called in at Miniature Railway – Itchen Navigation Series. One to go!

The Worst Little Warehouse in Hampshire

Saturday, December 15th, 2007

I could never be a woman.

Apart from the obvious physical issues – how the hell can anyone enjoy shopping? Today’s challenge was buying a Christmas present for someone – something with a loose connection to mobile phones. The request was pretty specific, and among a number of other shops, I hit Carphone Whorehouse:

Me: “Hello, I want a ********, please”
Shop person: “Certainly sir, here you are”

Me: *Stares dumbfounded for a moment*

Me: “Umm…is that the colour I said I wanted?”
Shop person: “No sir”

Me: “And is it the make I said I wanted?”
Shop person: “No sir”

Me: “You’re the most irritating person I’ve ever met and I’m going to have to stab you now”
Shop person: “Fair enough sir, you’re not the first one today”

Since the person that present is for, is almost certainly reading this, you’ll have to wait till after Christmas to see how the story finishes. I WILL tell you that also on my stab list today is the man in another shop who rammed me in the ankle with a pushchair, then snapped at me to look where I was going.

Still…should be a nice day out tomorrow!

Lessons

Friday, December 14th, 2007

I learned a lot today:

  • The banana and maple syrup porridge from EAT is a lot nicer than it looks
  • Yaki Udon from the Japanese takeaway is nice, but not as nice as chicken katsu
  • Finding a Christmas present for Sally-J is easier than I thought, once you look for inspiration in the right place (thanks Rob!)
  • If you buy your train tickets for the SimonG meet far enough in advance, you can get a first class ticket cheaper than a standard

I also learned that leaving work at the normal Friday time, I can get a train from Waterloo and be in Salisbury for 19:20. No, I didn’t get the wrong train – it’s research for a future cachepedition :-) . Hope you’ve made a note of that Rob!

Lowering the Tone

Wednesday, December 12th, 2007

Is Scooby Doo still on the telly? Even if not, I’m sure most of my readers will remember it. Y’know when Scrappy Doo comes charging in and going

“Ta ta ta ta, ta taaaah….PUPPEEEE POWER!!!”

That’s my text ringtone, that is. Fun when it goes off at home, or in the pub, but a bit embarrassing on the train (thanks Jenny!). Luckily we have a “mobile phones on silent” rule in the office so I haven’t made an arse of myself there yet.

I love these MP3 ringtones – you can have almost anything you like, and it’s even better when you can allocate tones depending on who’s calling. Someone I knew a few years back had his phone set so that when his girlfriend called, he got “KEVIN! KEVIN, IT’S SANDRA! KEVIN, ANSWER THE BLOODY PHONE NOW!”. And when his Mum rang, he got her voice, saying “Kevin? Kevin, it’s Mummy calling. Kevin, answer the phone darling. Kevin? Yoo hoo Kevin!”. Given that Kevin was a six-foot Royal Marine, his mates had a few laughs with that as well!

Forgetful

Tuesday, December 11th, 2007

I had a great idea for a blog subject last night, just as I was drifting off to sleep . I struggled to remember it this morning – then when I DID remember it, and having half-written the blog, I remembered that I’d told you about it before. Oops.

But the whole struggling-to-remember thing reminded me of a story I heard years ago, about an author who, in a slightly drunken condition, woke up in the middle of the night with a great idea for the story he was working on: He scribbled it down and went back to sleep. Waking the next morning, he remembered with great excitement that he’d had a fantastic idea and checked his note: “This room smells funny”, it said.

It’s pretty well known that Coleridge had memory problems – his best work was written while off his face on laudanum. Madly writing down Kubla Khan while the high lasted, he was interrupted by a Person from Porlock, and by the time the unwanted visitor was gone, Samuel Taylor was back from his trip to Planet Xanadu, had completely forgotten the rest of what he was going to write, and the poem never grew beyond 54 lines. It could have been as long as the Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner – so thanks, mysterious Porlock Person, you at least saved us that.

Mind you, I can’t help thinking that if that was a present day story Coleridge would’ve been on crack cocaine, Kubla Khan would’ve been a gangsta rap, and the hapless Somerset resident would’ve been stabbed in a back alley by one of the poet’s homies.

Not So Young Love

Monday, December 10th, 2007

Those of you within my immediate circle know that I have a couple of friends who are, not to put too fine a point on it, a bit loved up.

Anyone who thinks they’re over the top, however, should’ve been on the 17:48 from Waterloo this evening and seen the couple sitting opposite me. They weren’t…ummm…in the first flush of youth, I’d guess he was about my age and her a bit younger. They started off holding hands, and by Woking were staring into each other’s eyes and giggling. The canoodling had started before Basingstoke, and before they got off the train they were well into “For goodness sake you two, get a room” territory.

Sadly, apart from forgetting to go to the Palace Theatre and get my umbrella back, that was the most interesting thing that happened all day :-(

Another Grand Day Out

Sunday, December 9th, 2007

The day of the theatre trip – to London with Rockin’ Rob and Sally-J to see “Monty Python’s Spamalot” at the Palace Theatre. But since we arrived in The Nation’s Capital with six hours to spare before we needed to be at the theatre…a little light caching! In between picking up some of the clues for Bloomin’ Heck!, we visited – and actually logged – :
Gray’s Inn: One Arm, Two Mouths
Thomas Coram
Ghandi Peace Cache
After these three, we decided the rain was too heavy for enjoyable caching, especially as we didn’t want to have to sit in the theatre in wet clothes, so we went and sat in the Marlborough Arms (and met a friend of Sarah’s) instead! As you can see, Sarah found it a bit of a ticklish experience.

Then we went to the theatre and saw a really fabby show which we would recommend to anyone who isn’t easily offended by killer rabbits, people having their arms and legs chopped off, and/or jokes about french people. If anyone goes on the strength of our recommendation, and they happen to sit in seat D16, could they see if my brolly is still under there :-( ?

After the theatre, we had some time to spare before eating, so we went and walked along Oxford Street – which was a seriously stupid thing to do if you don’t like crowds, but it DID enable us to log:
West End Webcam
and on the way to the restaurant, we passed
Catastrophe, Calamity, Cataclysm Part 4, which I’d logged ages ago, but Rob and Sarah hadn’t!

And then we went and ate at Mungo’s Mongolian Barbecue (which my chum Gary first took me to years and years ago – thanks Gazza!), and then we caught the train home. And as you can see, Sarah was very tired.

Is It Me?

Friday, December 7th, 2007

I mean, I don’t think I’m speaking Norwegian or anything. In my professional role I recently sent round a fire safety guidance note which included the statement:

Fire Fighting
As a general rule, DON’T! Sound the alarm and leave.

This wasn’t clear enough for some of our highly-intelligent readers, and I had to re-issue it as:

Fire Fighting
As a general rule, DON’T fight fire! You should sound the alarm and leave.

Y’see, they’d read the original as if the exclamation mark and the capital “S” weren’t there.

Ah well, Friday again, and South West Trains have decided to start selling Bass again – and the service has improved too, if this evening’s tannoy announcement by the guard is anything to go by:
“Hello Mr Cartwright, would you like a beer other than Tanglefoot? Only we’ve run out of Tanglefoot”
I hope it’s that good tomorrow, although with the excellent company I’ll be in on the train tomorrow I might not even want a beer!

Tag!

Thursday, December 6th, 2007

Jenny tagged me.

Rules: Link to the tagger and post these rules on your blog. Share 5 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird. Tag 5 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blogs. Let them know they are tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

  1. I like nearly all types of music – except the Beatles. Over-rated hippy c**p. Favourites are Dire Straits, Camel (I went to their last two farewell tours) and Rainbow!
  2. I’ve only got one eye – well, I’ve got two, but only one of them works
  3. I’ve got five GPSes, three PDAs and two laptops. A boy’s gotta have gadgets
  4. I used to run marathons, including London, New York and Copenhagen. Then I gave up
  5. I’ve supported Portsmouth FC since 1976. Before that I briefly supported Arsenal and West Ham – not at the same time obviously

Now, who the hell can I tag that hasn’t been got already?
Sally-J
SarahJT
Marshmallow
Lady JG
Prickly Peter of Hedgehog

Censored

Wednesday, December 5th, 2007

I spotted a story in an online version of a newspaper yesterday – in fact I was pointed to it by a comment in one of the Health and Safety discussion forums I inhabit. According to this story, the new Corporate Manslaughter legislation is leading companies to cancel all sorts of adventurous team-building exercises, including bungee jumping, karting and paintballing. According to the story, if anyone was hurt or killed on these activities, their employer who’d sent them on it could be prosecuted, or even imprisoned.

Normally I’d be in favour of anything that caused all that corporate team building gerbils to be cancelled: It used to be really funny thinking of all those middle-aged overweight managers running around and pretending they liked each other, but now I’m a middle-aged overweight manager it suddenly isn’t so amusing. But this paper was using the story as another excuse to laugh at the Health and Safety profession, and hadn’t even got its facts right.

Luckily the website offers a chance to post comments on its stories, and plenty of people had already taken the opportunity to laugh at nanny-state Britain, and label Health and Safety people as a bunch of humourless killjoys. I posted my own comment explaining that this wasn’t what the Act was designed to achieve and that the chances of any employer being prosecuted – as long as they’d used a reputable and competent activity organiser – was pretty minimal. I signed off with my real name and a working e-mail address, and added “Health and Safety Professional”.

The comment didn’t appear – although several more, in the same critical vein as the story itself, did. I later discovered that at least three other comments from Health and Safety people, all pointing out the errors in the story, had also failed to appear.

So lets see if you can guess who this paper is, who seem to be censoring comments that detract from the sensationalism of a story: Is it the Daily Sport? Or perhaps the Health-and-Safety-hating Daily Mail? Nope – and I’d say in passing that although I hate the Mail’s treatment of Health and Safety, they’ve always been very quick to publish my letters disagreeing with them. No, it was this story in the on-line edition of Britain’s Quality Daily, The Times.

The Times crossword isn’t all it’s made out to be, either.