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About this blog

trial and error....

Entries in this blog

Star in the East...

Just spent a tiresome night in a Premier Inn in Grimsby. Why does a modern hotel chain at the upper end of the “business and overnight” sector think it’s acceptable to have no air-conditioning? Stuffy and unpleasant. Food was downright poor and the cider tasted watery, didn’t finish my pint (which is most unusual). Typical location on a nondescript light industrial estate made for constant traffic noise through the night.    I’m also finding that the whole “working in the U.K. to slow

rockershovel

rockershovel

New normal, tv version..

Glancing at the ever-present soaps, a difficult thing to avoid as my good wife’s knee surgery is no nearer taking place and a combination of deteriorating weather and my WFH means she is now largely housebound again, I notice a new convention in tv presentation.    The cast enter wearing masks, mumble behind them for a few moments then take them off or leave them hanging from one ear in the (presumed) interests of being heard. They will briefly pose in tableaux of social distancing, re

rockershovel

rockershovel in Slice of life..

Stan and Ollie

Whiling away a miserable wet weekend in Plymouth (I don’t go home every weekend because of the time and cost), went to the pictures for the first time in a long time.   Much impressed with the new layout at the cinema, big semi-reclining airline style seats with ample legroom. Being 4:30 in the afternoon, only 7 or 8 in the auditorium... the film was Stan and Ollie, and I loved it.   I was never a huge fan of Laurel and Hardy, being (I suppose) the generation that “didn’t want to see a Lau

rockershovel

rockershovel

A rare, but dubious pleasure...

Having a rare trip to Aberdeen today, for a meeting about a short job that’s just come in. Cast adrift by 12:00 ... realised the Client was having Christmas Lunch in the canteen and wanted rid of me. Shared a cab into town, mooched about feeling cold and bored, grabbed some lunch and in a spirit of enquiry, caught the 727 bus to the airport instead of a taxi. £3.50 one way including WiFi and usb socket, not bad I thought.    This flight used used to be KLM, now its LoganAir, who tried

rockershovel

rockershovel

God’s Wonderful Railway..

Just been to Cardiff for a client visit.    XC Plymouth to Bristol PW was its usual scruffy, short-formed disappointment (also grossly overcrowded past Taunton, XC being apparently oblivious or uncaring about Cheltenham Week). GWR produced a pleasing change of scene with a rather swish 800 class for the 45 minutes or so to Cardiff; the first time I recall travelling on one if these, and I was rather impressed.    Return journey started with a new-looking DMU from GWR, quite c

rockershovel

rockershovel

where to begin?.

so, I registered in here as "oilman" and discovered that I was formerly signed in as "rockershovel", and it was still live, so I'll stick to that and let "oilman" lapse, or whatever the mods do to dud screen names.   where to start?   well, model railways are a problematical hobby in the offshore oil business, for one thing. I started to become interested about six years ago after a very long lapse, because I saw the MMI D&RGW locos and HAD to have one.. I'd intended to be at least, se

rockershovel

rockershovel

Heirs to Basil, 2019..

So, here I am in sunny (occasionally) Lincolnshire. Road conditions mean that the 60 miles or so to work, can be anything from 1hr 40 to 2hrs drive, so I stay out two or three nights a week. I’d mercifully, largely forgotten about English notions of hotel keeping, so it’s all come as rather a shock to the system.    Mostly this means local hotels, booked by the company. These can charitably be described as “variable” and as a sort of bonus, tonight has produced a neighbouring room who

rockershovel

rockershovel

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

rockershovel

rockershovel

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

M6, M5...

I’ve been travelling the M6 the last twelve months, a motorway I knew little about.    Most motorways seem to have their own style of services, and on the M6 it’s those over-bridges containing noisy, cramped food outlets and at Forton, the (mostly abandoned) “observation lounge” reminiscent of a set for a Gerry Anderson puppet show. Whoever thought they were a good idea? The 1960s were truly, a different time...    One worthwhile innovation is that Travelodge have apparently

rockershovel

rockershovel

Disappointing start ..

Watching the start of the London Marathon, one of the wheelchair racers failed at the start due to a puncture.   That surprised me. I’d always imagined, insofar as I’d thought if it at all, that elite level wheelchair racing would be attended by support teams like cycle racing, but apparently not...   

rockershovel

rockershovel

DC, DCC, scales and gauges, and all things in between

So, first things first; control system....   This is a big change from my last venture in the hobby, too long ago to be worth discussing at this point. At that time, DC ruled the roost and most "serious" layouts were divided into blocks and sections, with a maze of under-board wiring. Now, it seems, not so.   So, I set out to buy some stock. Like many engineers, I do like technical gadgets.... So, what have I learnt?   Firstly, On30 isn't OO9. There is one main supplier, half a dozen sec

rockershovel

rockershovel

Ethical tea!

Just been into town on various odd errands, and had tea and cake in the Church in Cathedral Square.   Cup of tea, very nice piece of walnut and coffee cake, £1.90 including the rather glorious setting. No organ recital this morning, apparently. Why anyone goes in the Starbucks opposite, I have no idea.   Also found a new barber in Priestgate. My old place has changed to the point that there’s no real point going there any more, and this place does wet shaves with a hot towel! Didn’t have a

rockershovel

rockershovel

tanker cars

I've been looking at tanker cars, after acquiring a collection of Lionel items.   there's some debate about quite what scale they ARE, but comparison with the SJCC UTX frameless car ( a very accurate scale model) shows them to be very similar in overall size (bogies here are Bachmann log skeletons, for immediate purposes)       time for some serious consideration, I think

rockershovel

rockershovel

Club night..

Went along to Club Night last night, best one in a long time with quite a high turnout.   - a club exhibition layout I hadn't seen before, but obviously a long-established one, set up and running with a couple of younger relatives of one of the members, being guided through the complex "cab control" control system.   - the O gauge project which has caused more controversy than enough, now cut down to a workable space with a group around it working on whatever it's next incarnation is intend

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

rockershovel

rockershovel

On the buses....

My good wife appears to be plumbing new depths in her doze-in-front-of-ancient-sitcoms marathons, three consecutive episodes of On The Buses ... astonishing to think of Reg Varney’s sometime popularity...

rockershovel

rockershovel

Eurovision...

My good wife spelt the evening watching the blizzard of pyrotechnics and strobes which after a while, I realised was Eurovision... Ho hum, business as usual.   I did watch the voting, more or less, it’s no fun any more. The new voting format seems designed to gloss over the more obvious politicking and settling of old scores between “far-off countries of which we know little”. None of the hostesses QUITE fell out of her dress, and they all had ample supplies of cheesy, laboured “humour”. One

rockershovel

rockershovel

Bulls, china shops and red herrings.. new direction.

I've been starting on a new direction lately. I tend to have a reputation for "bull in a China shop" methods but these have their uses and reasons.. mainly that they are the outcome of many years of taking decisions based on totally inadequate information, or getting to grips with subjects where I don't have a starting point or a clearly envisaged outcome.   I'd come to conclude that it was time for me to move on from the oil and gas industry, or at least my present sector. The industry is in

rockershovel

rockershovel

We're all doooooomed..

Very disappointed indeed by the BBC this morning, picking up a story and promoting it verbatim to peak coverage (how convenient that the erstwhile travellers had an MP who writes a column for the Guardian!), but on to happier things.   Looking forward to watching "We're Doomed! The Dads Army Story" on iplayer, when time allows. Strong reviews and a top class ensemble cast, should be good. I'm not an unqualified fan of Perry and Croft - I thought "It Ain't Half Hot Mum" was well below par, an

rockershovel

rockershovel

Oh dear, it's Christmas...

Some quite versatile multi-tasking on display tonight. My good wife is snoring like a tractor on the sofa, having turned the tv to a Michael Buble "Christmas Special" which gives me an overpowering impression of being trapped inside a lift, or hotel reception.   Whenever the snoring reaches a crescendo I turn it over, or just turn the sound down... at which point, she stirs, and turns it back on...

rockershovel

rockershovel

Crash, bang, sparrowhawk!

So there was a loud crash on the roof over the bay window, much flapping and scrabbling, and this...     My best identification is a female sparrowhawk, apparently they specialise in hunting pigeons and are well known to hunt in gardens...

rockershovel

rockershovel

Last Night Of The Proms...

Last Night Of The Proms tonight, which I always rather enjoy. The Guardian informs the world that "a secretive on-line campaign" (no, I don't understand that either) has raised the money to distribute 5,000 EU flags to prom-goers and opines wistfully that "tonight we may find what they really think", whether they are "jingoistic or ironic".   Personally, I suspect that all they will really learn is that if you had out freebies to a large crowd of excitable twenty somethings who have come to bo

rockershovel

rockershovel

Railway job... maybe...

Just had an interesting job come in from an agency I haven't worked for before. Basically, clearing an accumulated backlog of NCR and related paperwork, with a possible extension to drive and implement improvements.   So far it has only produced various excuses and delays, the start date having slipped by about ten days so far. A common problem with jobs for European companies, theres a contractors joke to the effect that the most important meeting with a German company is the one at which th

rockershovel

rockershovel

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