Archive for December, 2009

Plunge

Tuesday, December 29th, 2009

M’lovely Purple Fred – whom, you will remember, I love very much – commented a while ago that since we met, her clothing purchases have tended towards such feminine items as thermals and industrial-grade waterproofs. It’s my fault apparently – I introduced her to geocaching and caravan weekends.

But in my defence I have to say that since we met, my gadget purchases have tended towards kitchen knives, implements for hanging the World’s Biggest PictureTM, and today, a mega-strength loo unblocker

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At least when I’ve finished unblocking the loo, I can use it as a supersoaker :-)

Christmas!

Saturday, December 26th, 2009

Well, the Christmas Eve travel went much more smoothly, with only one set of failed points to slow things down. And m’lovely Purple Fred and I stayed awake through the Midnight service.

On Christmas Day, PF and I took my Luvvly Mum to lunch at the Mucky, and then spent the afternoon with Mum, eating far too much. And today has continued the eating and drinking theme…which will be topped off with another meal out tomorrow night!

I hope you’ve all enjoyed the festive season as much as we have!

A Tale of Ice and Snow, and Heroic Getting-to-Work Against Huge Odds. But Mostly Ice

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

OK, I’m sorry…but I think I’ve reall been punished adequately for downplaying Basingstoke’s snow problems t’other day.

The bus got me to Southampton station this morning in plenty of time for the 6:30 – so far so normal, apart from the number 17 being on time, and the information displays showed the train being delayed by nine minutes. That quickly changed to six minutes – the train was obviously well on its way across the Forest, and making up time.

Six thirty nine came and went, but the train did neither, and we were soon informed that our train – and the one behind it – hadn’t left Bournemouth yet. There was a train halfway in between literally frozen to the rails, which was blocking the line in both directions. With the news that we were going to be on the platform for a while, several seasoned commuters swelled the profits of Upper Crust catering (bacon roll and coffee division) while we waited for further updates. Eventually a Weymouth-bound train staggered in to the station and threw its passengers off – it wasn’t even going to try going any further. After a suitable pause for head scratching and decision making, we were told that this train was going to head back to London, so we all scrummed down and scrambled across the footbridge to platform four.

The train pulled out of the station…and stopped. Then moved a few more inches…and stopped. Repeat ad nauseum, but the net effect was that half an hour after leaving the platform, we’d travelled less than a hundred yards. The driver gave up and nursed the train back to the platform. Apparently there ws so much ice on the electrified rail that the train couldn’t get enough power to move. By now, there was another train – another electric (a 444, to be exact) was on platform three, and we were advised to cross over to that one.

The new train did even less well – it hadn’t even moved before it lost power and all the lights – even the emergency ones – went out. A number of announcements by the guard kept us informed of the fact that there was still no news, but eventually he was able to tell us that our best bet was to go back to platform one and get on the CrossCountry train to Manchester, and change at Basingstoke. CrossCountry run diesel trains, which while being less environment friendly, don’t rely on power from the rail so they could actually run. On the CrossCountry train I sat next to someone who’d travelled down from Birmingham this morning, intending to go to a meeting in Bournemouth. The train had gone no further than Southampton, and he was heading back to Brum without even getting off the train.

Basingstoke had one further treat for us – we got off our train and crossed to platform three for the connecting service…only to get a platform alteration sending us back where we came from, moments before the train arrived.

I got to London just after eleven, three hours later than normal. This evening’s return trip was dead easy – I’m clenching my bowels at the thought of what tomorrow might hold…

Ice

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

Well, I didn’t intentionally make light of Basingstoke’s problems yesterday – for those of you who don’t see British news, they had huge volumes of snow yesterday, so much that cars were abandoned on the ring road, people took hours to get home, and some people ended up spending the night at work, or in the bedding department of John Lewis (strange but true – see here).

Still and all, the amount of snow around the railway line in Basingstoke last night, was nowhere near enough to explain the disruption of the trains.

Tonight’s trains were still suffering from the cold, this time in the form of ice – but it was on the inside! The guard was kind enough to be very apologetic about the heating not working, but it was still flippin’ cold. Oh, and as promised last night, I wore my walking boots today, and was glad I did – there was a lake of melted snow blocking the back door to the office :-(

So much for global warming.

Let it Snow

Monday, December 21st, 2009

Tchoh, I dunno…first sign of a bit of the white stuff and everything grinds to a halt! This morning’s train was fifteen minutes late into London because of adverse weather conditions in the Guildford area” – and for those of you wondering, no, my train doesn’t go anywhere near Guildford, so I don’t understand it either.

Coming out of work this evening, the busses were even more crowded than normal – not helped by some ratty twonk having a row with the bus driver and stopping the rest of the queue getting on. And then halfway across Waterloo Bridge, there was another bit of unrest when two drunk ladies at the front of the bus started yelling at each other.

But the best was yet to come – normally by the time I get to Waterloo, my train is sitting on the platform, and I can go straight to it and get on – ensuring I get a seat, ahead of the crowds of tourists who are clogging up the concourse waiting for the platform to be announced. Tonight I wandered on to platform 14 with a handful of other clever cloggses…and no train! Not only that, but by the time the train was due to leave, it still hadn’t arrived.

Eventually…and already fifteen minutes late…the train wandered in, discharged its human cargo and let us on board. The delay, apparently, had been caused by appalling climactic conditions at Basingstoke” – which turned out to be some snow. Enough, maybe, to cover the ground – just.

I can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings. I’m going to wear my walking boots just in case.

Blog. Grr.

Sunday, December 20th, 2009

As you’ll see, I’ve dug out the Chrimbo header picture!

The observant among you will have noticed that GottleBlog vanished for 24 hours over the weekend: I’d decided that being able to blog by email would be useful, and might mean fewer long gaps between posts. There’s a plugin for WordPress which makes this possible (without using Cron jobs, which I’ve never really been able to sort out), but needs a higher version of WordPress than I have. So I upgraded to the latest version.

Which – no matter what I tried – didn’t work. The site insisted that a file didn’t exist, although I knew I’d uploaded it, and it showed up in FireFTP. So I tried going back to the old version, and that didn’t work either. In the end I had to do a total re-install, and restore of the database which I’d fortunately backed up just before starting the process.

I’ve got loads I need to tell you – about blood tests, and Tiger Woods, and loonies, and buying laminate flooring. But once again, that’ll all have to wait.

Something Missing

Monday, December 14th, 2009

Standing in the bus queue outside Southampton station t’other night, we were joined by a young man – mid-twenties-ish – walking with crutches. He got on the same bus as me, and was joined in his seat by a talkative elderly gent who engaged him in conversation.

From their conversation we learned that the young man had attended university in Southampton, and had graduated last year: He had to move to Kent, because that was where his work was, but his girlfriend is still here in Southampton and that’s why he’s back for a few days.

At that point his phone rang.
“Hello, yes, I’m on the bus at the moment”

“I’m not sure where this one goes…It might go up alongside…oh you know, that parade of shops in, um, oh, that road”

“Or it might turn right and go along…that road that goes…oh, you know…”

“Where am I? Hang on…going along towards, oh you know, the road where the furniture shop is”

The phone call finished, the chatty old chap asked former student what he studied at Southampton Uni.

“Geography”

Oh how we chuckled.

Stuck

Sunday, December 13th, 2009

Sorry about the blogging hiatus.

I’ve been stuck on a train. Yes, since I last blogged on Wednesday evening I have literally been stuck on the train.

Notwork Snail are doing a load of work which among other things is causing the partial closure of Southampton tunnel – which in turn is causing major delays on many trains. And so it was only this morning that I got off what should’ve been the train home on Friday.

All this work is aimed at making this section of track able to handle much larger freight trains, so that more and larger containers from Southampton Container Terminal can go by rail. So several bridges are having to be raised, and the tunnel floor lowered, as well as lots of bits of track bed strengthened.

The ironic thing is, the work will be finished just as the newly-refurbished Thames Gateway container terminal comes on stream, hugely reducing the throughput at Southampton.

Ah well.

Dartboard

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009

…or, filled fulla holes.

I had my swine flu jab this evening. I get priority treatment because I’m very important diabetic, and therefore would suffer worse than non-diabetic people if i did get the swine fever. After the doc had injected me, he warned me of all the possible side effects of the vaccine – none of which, to be fair, are as bad as swine flu.

Then on Monday, I had my annual diabetic review with nursey at the surgery, and she stuck a needle in me to take a blood test. I did ask her if, while she had the needle in, she could shove the swine flu vaccine in, but apparently it’s not that easy. To do swine flu jabs requires a proper appointment, a waiting room full of witnesses, and an hour off work.

And a couple of weeks back, I had the ordinary seasonal flu jab. My poor arm feels a bit like a pincushion, and has a big bruise on it. Bah.

Still, my cholesterol is totally in the “good” zone, so that’s nice.

Power

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009

I had a long list of things I had to do this evening, not least of which was watch Spooks. Then, about thirty seconds after I was out of the shower, the power cut started.

That ruled out laminating the paperwork for this weekend, and meant I was restricted in internet jobs by the amount of life left in the laptop battery. Actually it was worse than that – the loss of power had taken out the router, so I was restricted to the low-bandwidth jobs I could do using the mobile phone for internet connection.

Except the power cut had also taken out the local cell – or at least, its GPRS capability – so for over an hour this evening I had NO INTERNET. OK, so I had no lights, TV, kettle or microwave, but NO INTERNET! Can you imagine it? It was like medieval times or something!

And then the power came back on, I watched the second half of Spooks, and now I’m working my way down the jobs list.