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trial and error....

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Lockdown traffic and services

Just been down the A14 to Ipswich for a site visit; surprising amount of traffic on the roads, even early in the morning. Huge tailback of traffic N of Bury St Edmunds, at least it was on the other side.    Stopped at Starbucks on the way back, and needn’t have bothered. The signs might say “come in, we are OPEN!” but they aren’t, just as take-away and why bother with that?    Very various interpretations of procedures. Stopped for fuel at a major chain, and the cashiers were

rockershovel

rockershovel in Travel

WFH (2)

This WFH is a funny old business. It has taken a couple of weeks to create any sort of useful engagement, I am fairly sceptical of actual productivity, too. It’s a good way to get individual tasks completed but the absence of the general interfacing that goes on in the office, is definitely a limitation. No 2 Son reckons he needs 3-5 days a month in the office, averaging 2 half-days a week, to maintain impetus and tie up loose ends.    This isn’t a surprise to me. I’m used to remote wo

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rockershovel in WFH (2)

Boring...

Life moves on, and I’ve now joined the ranks of the Working From Home. A directional drilling contractor I’ve worked for in the past approached me a while ago, about looking after the documentation for some new projects they expected in 2020. I was certainly open to suggestions; my attempts at re-entering civil engineering had rather turned out as a reminder of why I’d left the industry in the 90s, and we’d had a good relationship in our previous dealings.    I’d seen this as a possibl

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rockershovel in Blog

Holidays... well, maybe not...

Seen in today’s news, Qantas are apparently offering 7hr flights including flypasts of locations like Great Barrier Reef and Uluru. How bored would you need to be, to do that?    Mind you, Singapore are now starting “covid-secure cruises” with ships half-full, masks mandatory at all times, increased cleaning regimes and “mingling discouraged”. Best of all, vessels make no port calls and passengers are confined to the ship at all times! Form an orderly queue, please... 

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rockershovel in Blog

New normal...

I was deeply suspicious of this term, considering how rapidly it appeared, so where in fact are we?    - judging by a recent day trip to Wells-next-the-Sea, ongoing observations at Ferry Meadows and occasional lunch out, “social distancing” appears to be falling into widespread disrepute and increasingly, observed in token form only, probably due to its inherent unworkability - do we still have police? Apart from the occasional squad car screaming round the Parkway, I don’t recall

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rockershovel

Maximum fuel and water capacity

I’ve just seen a piece on another forum, to the effect that the NYC PT Passenger Tender used with later Hudsons carried 18,000 gallons of water and 46 tons of coal. The UP Big Boy 4-8-8-4s towed 25 tons of coal and 25,000 gallons of water (all US measures, of course) with the Norfolk and Western Y class 2-8-8-2s in the same bracket.    That seems to be about as big as it came, although some South African and Australian locos seem to have towed additional water cart tenders or tankers f

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rockershovel

Building work during lockdown..

One thing I do notice lately, is that the combination of present property prices and unemployed construction workers (most of whom, are not receiving furlough payments) has produced a “perfect storm” of house conversions and cramming new-builds into former gardens.    I’m astonished at the amount of disc-cutting and drilling involved. Local streets and adjoining gardens are made hideous by the sound and dust of these infernal machines, day after day.. another unsung effect of lockdown.

Cabin fever...

Just looked in my garage, and would have done better not to.    This would usually be the Racing season, and all the bikes are jammed handlebar to handlebar. None of the engines have been done, because I can’t get them to the tuner. My granddaughter hasn’t been, so the trampoline and swing are still cluttering the place up.    Changeable weather and boredom means the garden furniture is being dragged in and out...  

The Big Crew Change..

Last year, I was moderately optimistic about getting some more offshore work in before I retired, but present circumstances seem to have completely collapsed the market. Any revival in prices, has quite gone; headcounts are being slashed and viable enquiries for work are non-existent.    Looks as though The Big Crew Change is pretty much complete. This is an industry term relating to the retirement, willingly or otherwise, of large numbers of older staff, working on to cover the gap in

Porterhouse Blue

I’ve just had an exchange with another member which reminded me of my years in Cambridge. It brought to mind the Tom Sharpe novel, and subsequent David Jason vehicle, Porterhouse Blue.   Most of Sharpe’s locations around Cambridge are easily identified, if you know the place. Porterhouse College notionally stands on a site now known as All Saints Garden, at the junction of St John’s Street and Trinity Street, near the Round Church. Skullion lives in the Gwydir Street / Sturton Street a

Aid to the imagination

Having for all practical purposes, at least semi-retired, I’ve been slowing down a bit... oh, quite a lot.    Had a slightly tedious evening actually using the office/study for that purpose, it was dark when I finished so I just turned off the lights and switched on the train presently laid out on the floor and watched it amble round, headlight on, lighted caboose in... very relaxing...

Coronavirus and gardening

One thing I do notice about the current nonsense, having ceased working at Werrington (I’m getting too old for this sort of thing, truth be told, and family circumstances don’t help) is that I’m getting more done in the garden and workshop.    My good wife has the tv in, most of her waking hours. I can’t tolerate the relentless blare of propaganda from the BBC, soap operas and Doc Martin irritate me behind words, and I watched those 1980s sitcoms long ago, so what’s left? 

Rolling road..

Had the Williams USRA Light Pacific on the rolling road! I bought this loco for £80 in need of a little fettling, runs nicely now   https://www.dropbox.com/s/xwvo3r7ff1jmsiu/Video 26-04-2020%2C 12 25 31.mov?dl=0

rockershovel

rockershovel

Smoke me a kipper....

Well, I enjoyed Red Dwarf last night. Good, formulaic knock-about stuff from the show that once included Blade Runner and Coronation Street pastiches in a single episode... the “erase your memory” set-up was pure old-school double-act, the usual silly sight gags and “Crossroads”- quality sets, the general Steptoe and Son IN SPACE! script... Holly's return, and the sort-of reprise of Ace Rimmer. I almost  felt sorry for Rimmer, but then I didn’t in a neat bait-and-switch. The “Boys from The Dwarf

rockershovel

rockershovel

Coronavirus, other approaches

I can’t help noticing that Singapore, usually something of a fetish with Our Man Boris, have had considerable success with a closely targeted containment system and “business as usual” for the rest. Strange, and wildly inconsistent stories are emerging from Sweden, which maintained a much more relaxed policy.    Elsewhere in the news... figures for actual and predicted cases seem to be all over the board. 

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rockershovel

Shopping, if that’s the word for it...

Dropped into Morrison’s on the way home from work the other night, an educational experience.....   If you’d ever wondered who watches the Jeremy Kyle show, go to Morrison’s! It was an education... whole aisles completely stripped, with unkempt and occasionally, downright ragged people wandering the aisles like some sort of zombie plague. Curiously enough, white trainers seemed to be ubiquitous.. tinned fish doesn’t seem to be in vogue with the current panic-buyers. Unintelligible conv

rockershovel

rockershovel

IR35, Ho hum..

So, I see that HMG have let HMRC off a hook of the government's devising, by kicking IR35 a year down the road... 

rockershovel

rockershovel

Workbench loco cradle

I’ve just bought a workbench loco cradle from Proser in Germany. Nice thing, very useful, simple effective design. Should have bought one long ago!     

rockershovel

rockershovel

Trust, American style

One thing I did notice in Florida, was the way they just leave their helmets and riding jackets draped over their bikes when they park, especially in State Parks. I wouldn’t dare do that in U.K... is it the guns? The alligators? 

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rockershovel

Super Bowl

Just spent the evening on the sofa in Bradenton, Fla. with a big bag of crisps, half a dozen Budweiser and the Super Bowl. My good wife has occupied herself with her customary clattering about with the dinner plates, wittering on about “is it finished yet” etc but I give her no heed at such times.    I wont post any spoilers for those watching on Monday...   I don’t pay American football much attention, in the U.K.; I simply don’t have the time. I don’t feel any particular at

rockershovel

rockershovel

BA, omg...

Somehow, nothing in this country seems to work.    Packed up on Friday amid a contentious issue with the tangled web of agencies, umbrella companies etc who have a choke-hold on contract work in this country, in an increasingly confused situation made worse by HMRC issuing threats in all directions and nil clear guidance, and off on holiday to Tampa. It will sort itself, basically a matter of someone in the chain not paying attention to their job, but who needs it?    I’d rea

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rockershovel

Rockershovels!

For anyone unfamiliar with these brutes..  https://m.facebook.com/pages/category/Mining-Company/Geevor-Muckers-Loco-Restoration-Group-1529683350637528/posts/   I’m somehow, rather ambiguous about this. It’s good to see them survive but ... I worked there in my student days.... I went to Geevor as a museum and somehow....

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rockershovel

A14, A1

Had another trip down the new section of the A1 and A14 yesterday. Things are moving rapidly towards completion, with road signs in place and the general tidying-up of the verges and batters. The cross-connection between two by way of the A1198 is now the obvious route, doubtless THAT road will soon go the way of the A605, near-destroyed by HGVs seeking to save a few minutes’ driving time.    The A1M near Peterborough is in a shocking state, patches, repairs and general wear and tear m

rockershovel

rockershovel

Goodbye, Mr Chips..

I’m not a great watcher of tv at Xmas or any other time, but I do enjoy it occasionally. This year’s unsung gem was Martin Clunes’ rather touching performance as the eponymous Mr Chips.    I first read the book long ago, when it was banned at the Perse School. The author had been a pupil at The Leys School, across town, and much of the setting (a rather outdated, High Church, minor public school in decaying, historic buildings amid an East Anglian setting) was a poke at the Perse Schoo

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