Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Dry Run

I've been on the train up and down to London for a couple of days, which has been an interesting dry run for the new job.

Getting to the station on time is now mastered, barring accidents.*

I have bought an annual parking tickets (320 quid! gah!) for the station so I don't need to fret about finding the correct change each time.

I have picked up an application form for a season ticket so I can take advantage of the fantastic savings on offer** by buying in advance.

I walked from the office in Whitehall to the new office in Victoria after my meeting to see how long it takes*** and managed to find the place without a map. Yay me.

So, all begins to take shape.

I met my new boss and some of the new team. I feel OLD. They all look about 19, and are frighteningly keen. I honestly think I will be the oldest person in that office. Gah. GAH.

I had an hour with the new boss, who seems to have a brain the size of a planet, was given reams of scarily detailed complex paperwork to read next week, and then went to Wagamama's to have a team lunch.

Which was nice.

They all asked "So why did you apply for this job, exactly?" I can't decide if that's good or not.

After lunch, I started walking back to Waterloo from Victoria, but, having no map and no sense of direction, ended up outside the back of Buckingham Palace, whereupon I hailed a black cab and took the coward's way out back to the station. It was raining quite hard, in my defence, and I was carrying a heavy carrier bag full of aforesaid scary paperwork.

I was amused to see several smartly-dressed and otherwise sensible business types on the train devouring huge amounts of chocolate. One chap had four (yes FOUR) bars of Marks and Spencer milk chocolate which he ate one after the other at great speed. I bet he gets home and tells his wife he's starving and hasn't eaten since 10am.

Another chap sat quietly doing the Sudoku and demolishing a family-size bar of Dairy Milk all on his own. Git. He never offered me any. I'd have refused, obviously, but it would have been polite to ask.

Bloody South West Trains! Yesterday I had a ticket for the 1520 train, with a reserved seat. As it happened, my meeting finished earlier than expected so I was able to get on the previous train, half an hour earlier. Excellent, I thought.

But no.

The ticket bloke came round and I showed him my ticket. He glared at me and asked to see the reservation ticket thingy too. I showed him that.

Ticket bloke: "You're on the wrong train."

Me (cheerfully): "No, this one is going to the right station."

Ticket bloke (increasingly grumpy): "No. It's the wrong train. This ticket is not valid."

Me (still cheerful): "Oh. So, do I have to get off the train then?"

Ticket bloke: "You need to buy another ticket."

Me (astounded): "Whaaaaaaaaaaaat? Are you serious? I already have a ticket, look!"

Ticket bloke (by now expecting trouble, and aware of the audience of commuters all pretending they're not listening): "You need to buy another ticket. That'll be £67."

Me (muttering): "Bloody hell...."

So. South West Trains got an additional £67 out of me, despite the fact that my reserved seat on the next train was going to be empty, and therefore available for another traveller. It's not like they even put the reserved labels on the seats anyway.


Mr WithaY still hasn't sent them his letter of complaint, by the way. I have told him that there is an increasing need to know the outcome**** but he is being far too laid back.

Other news: Am officially winding down from my job. Apart from writing the final reports for my team, I am clearing the decks and passing stuff to everyone else. A remarkably nice feeling, I have to say.

*And tractors
**my arse
***bloody ages
****Mr Farty

Sunday, 28 September 2008


Gah, another ridiculously long gap betweeen postings. Sorry.

In the interim:

Had a very lovely "almost my last day" barbecue at a colleague's house on Friday, where the team gave me a beautiful gift and all said very kind things. One week left in this job, and then it's all change. I am really excited about it, as well as being nervous.

London! Bright lights! Trains! People who aren't wearing baler twine to hold their trousers up! Can't wait.

Ooh yes....we got the On-Line Village Fete Vegetable PRIZE through the post! From jaywalker at Belgian Waffle! I am so proud. The winning certificate will go on my wall. I may even post a photo of the prize, it's so marvellous. Big thank you to her for that.

Went to spend the weekend at my bestest mate's place, because we hadn't seen each other for months. The weather was perfect, which meant we walked into town, walked all round town, sat in the park and ate ice cream and then walked the long way home through rat-infested fields. Ah, the countryside. It was very interesting. I tried to get some photos but they were too far away.

Plus they looked like they'd have demanded royalties.

Whilst mungoing around town, we went to Thornton's to buy an ice cream. It was a glorious day, so there were a few people in the shop, all picking which flavour ice cream they wanted, and admiring the fine display of chocolate spiders, ready for Halloween.

It got to our turn. The flustered lady behind the counter asked us what we wanted.

Me: Two medium ice creams please, one with chocolate and truffle, the other with...

Flustered shop lady (interrupting): Don't tell me any more! One at a time! I have problems remembering different ice cream flavours!

I almost said "Well, you're in the wrong bloody job then, aren't you?" but thought better of it. The ice creams, once she managed to serve them, were lovely, incidentally.

Other news: Mr WithaY had to consign my lovely lemon curd to the bin today because it had grown a fluffy green coat.

I should have kept it in the fridge. Ah, hindsight.

I bought a new capo for my guitar, as the one I already have works fine on my acoustic but not on the Les Paul. The new one works brilliantly. Hurrah.

The nice man in the handmade guitar shop is getting in an electric 12-string on sale or return for me to have a go with. Just out of curiosity, you understand.

I'm not going to buy it or anything.


Tuesday, 23 September 2008

All the way home

I've been travelling. I went down to see my lovely Mum on Thursday night, and called in to see Youngest Sis and family as well, which was nice. I listened to the Mark and Lard show on Radio 2 on the way home. They make me laugh.

Saturday morning we were up bright and early to drive up to Suffolk (look on a map, American readers) to see our mate Tall Richard and his unfeasibly stylish wife. As we headed out without having any breakfast (most important meal of the day blah blah blah) by the time it got to 12-ish we were starving.

We'd told our mates that we'd be with them by early afternoon, so had plenty of time to stop for some lunch. We decided to stop at the next service station and get some food.

We ended up here where we enjoyed huge fat boy breakfasts. Mmmmmm fried bread.

Once more, I am profoundly grateful that I chose not to have children. There were people there trying to reason with 4-year-olds. The father of the family sat the whole time with his head in his hands, more or less ignoring the wife and 2 small boys he was with. After 20 minutes sitting on the next table, I could see why.

Suitably fortified, we continued to the party house. Our mates made us welcome, we ate like fat greedy kings, I drank myself into a state of invincible superstardom, and we all sat round singing loudly until gone 1am. I played my guitar for hours and hours, and boy were my fingers sore the next day.

And boy, was I hung over.

After a quiet, slightly trembly, breakfast, we headed up to see some lovely relatives who live in that neck of the woods, and enjoyed a visit with them. We headed back onto the road South at about 3-ish and were home by about 6.30-ish which wasn't bad at all. The bulk of the traffic was going in the opposite direction so we more or less kept moving all the way home.

Been at work today, where people keep making references to sinking ships, rats, planks, and so on. It's wearing rather thin.

Next Friday is my last day in the department, which is quite a thought. I have sent out an email invite to a few colleagues to come out for a drink at a local pub to celebrate but other than that it'll be pretty low key. No being driven off the site in an armoured car for me, I think.

Well, unless I try nicking any paperclips.

Friday, 19 September 2008


Hurrah hurrah hurrah.

The world of international high finance is going tits up, but I don't care, because I love the new single by AC/DC.

Anyone want to come and see them in concert with me?

All my 3 dimensional mates have refused on the grounds of age, taste and lassitude.

So. Let's go and raise the goblet of rock and embarrass young people a bit.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Tale of Woe

Today I am mostly in Bristol, sitting at someone else's desk, trying to get on with stuff while everyone around me wonders who I am.

Just like my own office, really.

I came in on the train, which was uneventful and pleasant. I hope that's a foretaste of my soon-to-be commute to London.

Mr WithaY is still seething after his trip to London last Friday. He went up to the Mexican Embassy (sadly not made of adobe, and no burros tethered outside) to sort out his visa for the forthcoming Shark Tagging Trip.

He ordered his train tickets on line, in advance, at a cost of (I think) about £9 each way, with reserved seats. Bargain. Because Tisbury station lacks an automated ticket machine, he had to go to Warminster to pick up his actual tickets. But no....both ticket machines at Warminster were out of order. He asked the nice man in the ticket office if he could get his tickets from there instead.


The man in the ticket office, it transpires, can only hand over tickets in exchange for actual money. The bit of paper with evidence of the purchase transaction is not enough. And, just carrying that bit of paper on the train instead of a ticket will get you into enormous trouble, apparently. Fines, police, dragged off to jail, you name it.

Mr WithaY, being a man who lives life on the edge, decided to take that risk.

He travelled successfuly to Waterloo. The guard on the train stamped his bit of paper and said "When you get to London, pick up a ticket for the return trip. Just to be on the safe side."

The Mexican Embassy staff were helpful and courteous, but I was dismayed to learn that the Ambassador failed to bring out the Ferrero Rocher chocolates. Mr WithaY made his way back to Waterloo with a song in his heart and a receipt for his ticket in his pocket, with a good hour to spare before his train was due. Plenty of time to pick up a ticket from the ticket office.

A ticket he had already paid for, mark you.

20 minutes in the queue for the ticket office did not bode well. The ticket office people eventually told him "No, we can't give you a ticket, you have to go to the Travel Office, next door."

He went to the Travel Office next door and explained the situation to them. They sucked their teeth and made sad faces, and told him he had to go to the Information Desk, just over there.

He went to the Information Desk, just over there. The Information Desk people looked at each other in dismay told him to go to the Ticket Office.

Mr WithaY asked to speak to a manager.

The manager came out, listened to the story and said "Oh, you need to go to the Travel Office, come with me." As they walked back into the Travel Office, the staff exclaimed "We've already told him we can't give him a ticket!"

Mr WithaY, possibly channelling Mexicans, was pretty laid back, even though he now only had 20 minutes till his train was due, and still had no ticket.

Finally, the combined brains of the Waterloo station team suggested he go across London to Euston and pick up his ticket, yes, the one he's already paid for, from the automatic machine there.

It takes 20 minutes to get to Euston from Waterloo. And then 20 minutes to get back. So, at least 40 minutes, to get a ticket for a train that is due in 15. Not a great plan.

Mr WithaY said he was not going to take their advice, and would travel back with his bit of paper, which, if you recall, had already been stamped once by the train ticket collector on the way up there.

The Waterloo team flapped, telling him he would be in biiiig trouble, police, fines, prison, flogging, transported to Australia, etc etc etc.

Mr WithaY decided to ignore them and go and wait for his train.

However, being a law-abiding citizen, his conscience smote him and eventually went and bought a single ticket back, at a cost of £31. In addition to the £9 advance ticket he had already paid for, with a reserved seat and all.

He found his seat, and took up position, a ticket in one hand and his reserved receipt in the other. By now his Mexican laid-back-ness had worn away and he was just waiting to be challenged. I beleive he adopted a "Come on then, you fuckers" stance.

The ticket collector came, and Mr WithaY presented his receipt. "Will you accept this as my ticket?" he asked. The ticket collector looked at it, nodded and said "Yes, no problem sir." Mr WithaY then presented the additional £31 ticket and explained the situation.

The rest of the carriageful listened attentively, some of them joining in with cries of "Ooh, that's not right at all!" and "How outrageous!"

The ticket collector's advice: Send the extra ticket to South West Trains with a letter of explanation and demand a refund.

I'll let you know if we get one.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Cheese fiasco

Can't believe it's been so long since my last post. Sorry, if you were impatiently checking back on an hourly basis for the next thrilling update, and all that. I have no real reason for this slackerliness, other than a dull and tiresome lack of inspiration. Some days it doesn't stop me and I cheerfully witter on about anything that happens to scamper through my brain, but for some reason that facility deserted me.

Until now, obviously.

Maybe it's all the gravitas and responsibility of my new job starting to congeal in my soul. Maybe in 6 months time I will have grown my own pinstripe carapace and be unable to find other people falling down holes funny any more.

I hope not.

So. The big disappointment of the weekend was the Frome Cheese Show. We've had it in the WithaY diary for months, planning our annual Big Day Out to admire the animals, vegetables and Crafts. Oh, the Crafts. I had new batteries in the camera and everything.

Following a slightly more cider-centric night at the pub on Friday than we had planned, we were up a bit late, and didn't set off for the Show till about 11am. Still, it was a nice day, and we headed off cheerfully in Mr WithaY's Landrover, reasoning that it wasn't far to go, and it was likely to be a bit muddy. All went well.

Until, that is, we got onto the main road to Frome, which was nose to tail with almost stationary traffic. We inched along till we got to the next junction, and the long straight road towards the showground was nose to tail as far as the eye could see.

We looked at the queue, then at each other, and made a team decision to bale out, do a U turn and head for the hills. Driving back the way we had just come, we could see the traffic backing up for bloody miles. Nightmare.

Once home, as were were already in our "Walking in the Mud" clothes we did a couple of hours of gardening, cutting back about a hundredweight of lavendar. We were knackered but very relaxed by the time we'd finished.

The mole's still out there. We think we've seen the last of him, then hey presto, bloody miles of tunnels and molehills appear. It's all most dispiriting.

It may be coincidence, but all the roses are doing really well for the first time all year. I think they might enjoy having their roots disturbed. Hey, who wouldn't.

Still waiting for the glorious Village Fete prize, by the way. *sigh*

Thursday, 11 September 2008


Went to Bristol today for work, and on the way back was almost involved in a real fight! A colleague gave me a lift, and as we were coming back there was a minor altercation with another driver who was trying to jump the queue to get off the slip road onto the motorway.

My colleague, rather unwisely as it turned out, made a "What the fuck are you doing?" gesture at the other driver.

Other driver, instead of (a) ignoring us and going about his lawful business, or (b) returning said gesture with one of his own and speeding away, went for option (c): Glaring like a madman and then pulling alongside our car and shouting violent abuse.

This was rather wasted because we couldn't hear him. My colleague, who was finding it all very funny, did an exaggerated "Sorry, I can't hear you mate" mime, pointing at his ear and shaking his head.

The other driver started waving his arms about, furious. It was unreal, he was a respectable looking middle aged guy, in a decent car, indicating to us that we were to pull onto the hard shoulder so we could have a fight. What the fuck?

My colleague nodded, and as the other driver pulled onto the side of the road, we drove past, my colleague waving cheerfully. The other guy then accelerated back onto the motorway and chased us for bloody miles. We pulled off the motorway and headed down into Bath, the lunatic still chasing us, still shouting and furious.

My colleague had gone from finding it funny to finding it a bit worrying. He watched the other guy in the mirror, and said "He's waiting for us to stop at the lights so he can come over here." Nice.

This is how people get killed! I remembered various "And then it turned out he had a biiiiig knife/was on the run from the police in 5 countries/was an escaped dangerous psychopath" stories I had read in the papers.

Luckily, we didn't have to stop at the lights, and made our way onto the dual carriageway, this guy still dodging through the traffic to keep behind us. He followed us for several more miles, and then my colleague lifted his arm and slipped his watch off, handing it to me. "Put that in the glove compartment" he said, which I did, not realising what he was doing.

"Um...why are you taking your watch off?" I asked. He looked at the car behind us and said "I don't want to damage it."

It was all rather surreal and scary.

Anyhoo, either the nutter behind us happened to live down the next side turning, or he'd seen my colleague prepare for battle and realised he could be in a lot of trouble, because he suddenly turned off and we lost him.

It was most unexpected.

Other news: The lemon curd is nice. And, because it is made from real lemons, it is good for me. Apart from all the sugar and butter. And eggs. But the lemons balance that out.

Mmmmmm vitamins.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Glorious Victory

Hurrah, I feel much better.

Just as well, because I was starting to worry. Stomach upsets usually only last 36 hours at the most, and this one has been knocking around since last Friday.

So, I ate some food today. So far, and I am aware this is probably too much information, it hasn't made a reappearance of any kind.

Other news: Made lemon curd this evening, whilst cooking the aforementioned food. It worked very well, and I am planning a toast and lemon curd bonanza for breakfast tomorrow.

Also, it seems that the fantastic WithaY Angler Fish has swept the board in Belgian Waffle's Village Fete contest. I am eagerly awaiting the prize to be delivered to my door. I hope it's a pony. Made of gold.

On a slightly, but not very, different tack, I spoke to my new boss today. I am being released back into the wild to take up my new job at the beginning of October.

I need to find out about getting a season ticket for the train, also a long term parking ticket for the station car park. I need to learn the best walking route from Waterloo to the office. I know that it is 1.4 miles, according to Google Maps, so it should take me less than 30 minutes to walk it.

It seems that my new colleagues are already scared of me. Excellent. There is something to be said for coming from an environment where we have shitloads of guns.

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Black Dog

Apart from spending much of Friday night, Saturday night and early Sunday morning having a hideous stomach upset, things have been quiet. Just as well, really, all thing considered.

I still feel shaky and sore, but that might be because I haven't eaten much over the last 48 hours.

Well, apart from the large Moroccan meal we had on Saturday night when our mates came over for dinner. They brought their lovely dog, who was perfectly behaved and a delight to have in the house.

She (the dog) spent the evening lying on the sitting room carpet in front of the fire, wagging her tail and rolling over to have her tummy rubbed.

I think I might try that myself.

Other news: Tomorrow will be interesting, my boss is back from her holiday and will find out that I have accepted that other job. A mate told me today that the commute will either get me really fit or kill me. I hope it's the "fit" option.

Saturday, 6 September 2008


I've accepted that job. I negotiated a flexible working deal and a pay rise to cover the cost of a commute into London, so I will take the post.

Bloody hell it's scary. I've been in the same area of business for 20 years, come November, so this is a huge leap into the unknown.

Working in London is going to be interesting. I've never done it before for more than a couple of weeks at a time, so it will take a bit of getting used to.

Other news: I have picked up a horrible stomach bug. Bleugh.

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

News from the Front

So anyway, remember that dreadful interview I had? On Friday? When my hairdryer blew up and I fell in a hole? Yeah, that one.

Well, today they offered me the job.

They must have either been really impressed by my sang froid* or the other interviewees were even worse.

So now I have to find out what the package is they are offering. If I just took the job as offered, I would effectively be doing an extra 6 hours a day travelling for a £5K a year pay cut. And they hired me for my brains, I assume. So I won't be doing that.

Tomorrow I will talk to them and ask if I can either get my travel paid for, or a couple of days working at home a week, or, even better, a mixture of both.

And if they say no, sorry, this is the only package, I will say "Thanks very much for the offer, but I will not be accepting it."

How marvellous. I am not a complete waste of space after all. Yay me.

*Unlikely, I suggest

Monday, 1 September 2008


Well, among the outdoorsy adventures of the weekend, Mr WithaY made a fishing spear*.



A work of art and beauty, whittled from twigs and that.

He's been trying it out.


It was most successful.


The hunter admires his prey.


Please note: No Beakers and Teddies were harmed** in the making of this blog.

*Once again, I wish I was kidding.

**Except for these two, obviously.


This is spooky. It tells me all about myself! Just like a horoscope!

ColorQuiz.comLucy WithaY took the free ColorQuiz.com personality test!

"Seeks an affectionate relationship, offering fulfi..."

Click here to read the rest of the results.