Friday, 1 August 2008

Summer's here!

Holiday Time 2008

The kids are revolting, holidays are here and Grandma Phiz is trying hard to find somewhere to go for a few weeks so she has less of the childcare to do! It's not that my kids are that bad, it's just that they have 100 times more energy than her, and she's knackered by lunchtime when they are round! The classic "working from home" is about to come into play, and I'm looking forward to the next week's holiday in St Bees ( in Cumbria where we are to visit my mother-in-law. Poor Flo (Granna Sess) has been laid up after a hip operation, and is so bored that I understand even daytime TV is driving her mad!

One of the many wonderful things about going back to visit Cumbria is the scenery. Those who have not visited the west coast have missed a gem - it is beautiful! All the works of Wordsworth can't get close to the sensations that run through me as I sit on the fells around Ennerdale. Walking up through Wasdale and sitting looking up the valley towards Scafell and Scafell Pike is truly wondrous. I used to walk around the area when I lived there and found the really personal time is when you are alone high on the fells in the rain - it really is "one with the elements". It allows you thinking time with no interruptions - taking a mobile phone out of your pocket up there in the rain would easily invalidate any insurance you may have on it!

On our way to St Bees we took the southern route up and over Corney Fell and down to the coast. The weather was turning as a front moved in from the west and we left 28 degrees in Telford to 18 in St Bees – very different, but still very muggy. The clouds were tugging at the mountains and the Coniston fells looked amazingly dramatic as we crossed the pass between Broughton and Muncaster.

The old Scandinavian tank has some problems with the air-con and it stops working after being on around 20 minutes. It was nice to have a bit of cool air through the window as we journeyed up the coast, it was around 4 degrees less on the pass than in the valley. I must admit that while the Volvo is a little old and wizened, it is a fantastic family car, comfortable, smooth (enough to make Adam sick!) and now reasonably economical with the addition of the LPG conversion. When it gets into the hills it shows how the power is useful, but the fuel flies through when it gets into the Lakes!


Technology is never far away in Cumbria though, whether it's taking in the mighty structures at Sellafield, or the small industries along the coast that feed the behemoth of a place, it all has advanced mightily since I started work 33 years ago. Recently I was asked when I worked on my first computer. It was around 1978, just down the road from Sellafield, that I was an apprentice for the MOD at a place in West Cumbria. Two room of valves used to drive high-speed optical units that tracked shells from guns fired out into the Irish Sea. My job was to check all the valves were up and running before the machine was needed. No “www.my_day_out.blah” then, it was just for work. We did have learning tools though, some were almost fun – many reels of punch tapes that when loaded allowed us to play a very (very) slow game of chess against the computer.

Things have moved on from there though, computing now is as far away from those days as Star Trek is from Walt Disney's original Snow White! The products are now amazing and media has changed way beyond all recognition from those days. Instead of many boxes of cards with thousands of bytes to the box, there are USB key drives with Trillions of bytes on a tiny unit.

Depressing Depression!

I feel I have to have a go at the present cock-up that has been thrust on us by what I feel are some extremely inadequate people in Whitehall. It has been interesting to watch as Gordon got his backside kicked in Glasgow, having the Scots tell him he is now limited in who likes him at home - at least the lack of people willing to invite him in for drop scones and tea will help his figure!! It can only be their own fault, they could have learned from history. The most recent historical team of people to do this were the Tories who, with Maggie, managed to stay too long and let the power go to their heads. If they had gone earlier they could have taken a short break while Labour blew it then gone again. Instead, they burned the candle to its finish and crashed big time! Now it looks likely that Gordon and his mates are going to do the same thing, nasty really. It's certainly going to be an interesting next few months.

As the current price of fuel kills small business – I heard last week that approximately 400 businesses a month are going to the wall – not what's needed really! Absolutely no doubt about it, the small man is almost being finished off by the people who should be saving them! Word come to mind like "inept", "irresponsible", "careless", "Nero-esc" and even "moronic"! The attitude of the government all sniffs a bit of "let them eat cake" – the next couple of years could be very different as anarchy starts to get popular under the financial squeeze.

Anyway, enough of me waxing lyrical about politics – I never was that good at it myself really, but a lot has happened since I last wrote to this blog. The credit crunch has made my work as a manager and my personal life even more difficult, the price of fuel has destroyed my pile of beer tokens and football has stopped for at least two weeks! Only by chance is the weather keeping the cricket down to manageable lumps!

I'll try and add some pictures of the more spectacular parts of our holiday next visit. I'm afraid I was too preoccupied catching him to manage to take photos of Adam flying down the beach behind the big power kite - my mistake as I thought it was a smaller one! He managed almost 20 metres before managing to crash it and stop!

Anyway, we're all safe and sound and part of our summer has been fun. Our journey back to Fort Phiz was reasonably uneventful, just a few hold-ups on the M6. It reminded me we need the air-con fixed! I'll try and post some pictures as soon as my good lady saves them from the camera.

Have a good one......


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