Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Teaching Again

The Gorse Fox is back in Starfleet teaching again. The load is a little lighter this week as we have a rota of three lecturers. So it is that today, GF only had one module to present. However, it did mean that he could get on with some of his method-development work.

During the afternoon, one of the class exercises overlapped some of his recent changes - so he asked one of the teams to pilot his new material. Whilst giving some helpful feedback, it was clear that it was very well received and significantly easier than the old method (used by the residual teams).

Whilst working away - GF received a message inviting him to work for 6 weeks on a new client (with his old division). He has respectfully declined, for now. He is not sure, however, how long this will hold.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Ssh, walls have ears

The Gorse Fox has been working at home prior to heading across to the wastes of northern Hampshire where he will be be teaching for the rest of the week.

The morning was punctuated by a scheduled visit from an MoD Vetting Officer who came to get GF's view of an acquaintance who has applied for a post in HMG. It was interesting as GF has not had to do this for many years, but it is clear that it is still very thorough and some may consider it intrusive. The Gorse Fox has no reservation, however, when it comes to ensuring people are suitable candidates for sensitive jobs.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Still searching

Monday has seen the car search continue.

We started with the Peugeot and Citroen garages. Whilst they had some nice cars, the Peugeot 208 was the only model that may have fitted the bill - but the requirement for the automatic gearbox and increase in the VED category that comes with that, ruled it out.

Then we headed to the Ford garage. All of the reviews of the cars GF has been considering seem to conclude that the Fiesta and the Polo are the best cars in the class. It seemed logical, therefore, to go and look at one of these. More importantly to sit in one as the Silver Vixen has traditionally found the seats to be be uncomfortable in Ford cars. We looked around the showroom and found a Fiesta of the specification we would require. The Silver Vixen sat in it and we examined it in detail. The conclusion was that it was a contender, and as such we have arranged a test drive next weekend.

Then the Silver Vixen had an idea. What about the Mini. So we headed to Rustington in the hope that the Mini showroom was open. It was. So we poured all over the new Mini Hatch in the Cooper specification. It was quirky and comfortable and we decided a test drive was required. The salesman, ever eager, took us out straight away and the Gorse Fox had a chance to drive the car. It was really very nice. The engine was tight and responsive, the ride was comfortable, and the seats were ideal. On top of this, it was a fun car to drive. It did look a little cramped in the back seat, but how often do we use the back seat in our existing cars? This has become another definite, if expensive, contender.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

NomRomCom

The forecast was for heavy rain. The forecast was right.

The morning was a leisurely affair occupied with magazines and brochures. The afternoon started at Nando's for some lunch. (Not quite the traditional Easter Feast). We settled at our table and selected our choices from the menu, then went to counter to order. They were busy but had only one person taking the orders. The Gorse Fox arrived just behind a you bloke who was clearly not au fait with the concept of a menu at the table and making a list. Unfortunately he was one from a table of twenty, and he was making their choices as he ordered. Really quite strange, and very annoying for those of us stuck behind him.

As usual for Nando's the food was predictably good and we enjoyed what we had. Non, nom, nom.

After our meal we wandered along to the cinema where we indulged in the latest RomCom - "The Love Punch" - with Pierce Brosnan, Emma Thompson, Celia Imrie and Timothy Spall. It was a totally inoffensive little film with some hearty chuckles (if not full blown laughs) all the way through. As demanded by the genre, there was a feel-good conclusion. It was a good way to spend a rainy Sunday afternoon.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Driving around

The Gorse Fox may have mentioned that we are considering changing our existing cars as part of the transition to retirement. Whilst we still need a "family car" the second car only needs to be a little run-around for the GF. So it was that a few weeks ago we started looking at the specs of various vehicles and considering the pros and cons of each - on paper.

Today we stepped up a gear (see what I did there?). We had an appointment to try the VW Move Up! and so it was that we found ourselves driving round Chichester and the surroundings in this cute little car. Actually it was surprisingly good, and for most people would be a perfectly adequate second car. The gearbox was light and the car very responsive. Unfortunately, though, the seats didn't quite adjust enough for the Silver Vixen to be comfortable - and so it drops down the list.

We always had a "favourite" for the main family car. The question was whether that would be comfortable for both of us. (The Gorse Fox finds the Silver Vixen's RAV4 uncomfortable and get back ache and sciatica if he is in it for long - whereas it is perfect for her). We headed for the Nissan dealer and took a Qashqai out for a drive. This was a much longer test drive and gave us a chance to get comfortable and have a really good look around. Our initial review was that it fitted the bill perfectly - at least as far as we could tell with only the Gorse Fox driving. The demonstrator was a manual gearbox, so the Silver Vixen was unable to try the driving - but we have booked an automatic to test drive in a couple of weeks time.

Whilst in the dealership we also looked at the new Nissan Note. This had not been on our original list, but having looked at it, it has nudged its way into contention. We have more cars to test drive next week and will make our decision based on comfort and running costs.

With rain forecast for Sunday, Gorse Fox cracked on and mowed the lawns when the fun part of the day was over.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Visitors

It certainly was a Good Friday. The Gorse Fox's sister and brother-in-law came to visit. They are always good company and we had a lovely day.

We drank coffee and chatted for a couple of hours, discussing small cars, computer backup regimes, and sharing the latest news on the various children. It was interesting to realise that GF's sister actually drives one of the cars that's on his mental short-list (it was just a shame they brought the other car today).

We wandered down to the Old Stables for lunch. They were clearly busy and we would be in for a bit of a wait. This was no problem as we settled in for a long and leisurely meal. As we were finishing, Urban-cub walked in. She had received offers on her flat and needed to consult over whether any was acceptable, and if so which she should choose. Throughout the next couple of hours her phone buzzed with calls back-and-forth to the agent. By the end of the exercise the price offered had risen by six thousand pounds and she had accepted an offer and taken the flat off the market. This was excellent news.

We went across to Bersted Park to show J&T the new house and its show house. This was interesting as we bumped into some residents and heard from them of some of the teething problems they had experienced, and their view of the after sales service they had received. One does suspect that, as in many areas, the treatment you receive is related to the attitude with which you deal with people. Somehow, it seemed unsurprising that they had not received the service they wanted. Hopefully, we will not have the degree of problems they experienced.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Working at home

The Gorse Fox had a good day following up on the Madrid class. Some of the discussions had triggered a number of ideas and GF spent the day exploring and developing some of these. A bit more refinement is needed but it is certainly looking ready to publicise and discuss on the course he is running next week.

Not much else to report unless you want a discussion on self-adjusting, dynamically merging worksheets in Excel.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Lunch

The class lunch was an epic affair. We wandered back to Calle Cartagena and piled into a small, almost unnoticeable restaurant. After a few moment of discussion with the proprietor, jugs of beer arrived closely followed by the first course - Mussels with a light salsa served in the shell.

It was two o'clock and all was well.
The beer flowed and the conversations ranged from one subject to the next and back. The second course arrived - Jamon and Manchego.

The house elf shuttled back and forth and more jugs of beer arrived and every time you finished your bread roll, another would magically appear.








The courses continued to arrive and by three-thirty we were 5 courses down and preparing for the main event.
Three huge cast iron paella dishes arrived with what the Gorse Fox could on describe as a paella-soup. All of the usual paella ingredients seemed to be there, but is was served in a seafood bisque with huge pieces of lobster breaking the surface. Though messy, this proved to be absolutely delicious.






It was four o'clock and Capt. Picard and a couple of German colleagues were getting worried about getting their flights.
GF and the others paid our bill, and grabbed a taxi to the airport. GF was in no hurry - he had several hours to wait, but the others were cutting it fine. He hopped out the taxi at Terminal 1 and left the others to complete their journeys.

Despite warning of Bank Holiday chaos - the airport was relatively quiet and GF was soon sitting in the VIP lounge, sipping on some sparkling water, and watching the activity on the airfield.

He finally got back to Gatwick about ten o'clock and drove home. It had been a very nice day - but it was lovely to get home to the Silver Vixen.

That's it

The Gorse Fox has just delivered the last of the lectures for which he is responsible. Only another 90 minutes to go (taught by Capt. Picard) then we are heading off as a team to have lunch together.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Conviviality

The Gorse Fox just enjoyed a most convivial evening with colleagues. Jean-Luc Picard, Alun-the-Intense and Norbert (from Germany) all came along to the local restuarant where we had enjoyed pizza and a wine last night.

Tonight the Gorse Fox chose tagliatelle with seafood - and was delighted with his choice. Assisted by a nice rioja it eased the slightly sore throat and satisfied a rumbling tummy. If the Gorse Fox has to return he will certainly choose that again.

Day Two - done

Well that's day two of the course complete. The class was far more animated today - particularly when we tried to impose UK working practices. In the end we adapted and follwed Spanish practices which meant a break to go an get coffee at the coffee shop and a 90 minute lunch at a local restaurant. What a civilised approach to work.

Voice is holding up at present, but fear it may disappear over night.

Another colleague has arrived from the UK this evening so no doubt we will head out to dinner as a group

Look who's talking

Half way through day two and GF feels as if he is losing his voice. He is frantically downing bottles of water to try and keep the pipes lubricated.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Day one - done

Well that's the first day done. The class seemed to run well and the students were attentive and engaged.

Capt Picard and the Gorse Fox headed back to the hotel for a cold beer and then headed off to grab something to eat when the restaurants opened.(GF will never get used to this idea that you can't eat before eight in the evening.)

Interestingly Capt. Picard's retirement plan is based on property rental - and he has shown an interest in the house that Silver Vixen's mum lived in.

Manana

The course started late - getting our colleagues together is like herding cats. It appears that agendas are merely indicative!

Civilisation

The Gorse Fox  really likes Madrid and the civilised approach to work. He strolled along to the Starfleet offices, then met with his local colleague. We strolled around to the lecture theatre (which is "state of the art") and got set up and ready. Then it was time for a coffee, so we left the building and wandered along to a nearby coffee shop where we sat down over coffee and churros.

Very civilised.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Coach?

Madrid airport is huge. So huge that we seemed to land and then taxi from Bilbao or Toledo or some such distannt point. The Gorse Fox suspects that the flight time is scheduled based on 90 minutes of flying and an hour of driving round the airport.

Never mind, Gorse Fox arrived early and was esconced in his hotel by 20:20.

On the move

After a quiet morning the Gorse Fox and the Silver Vixen strolled down to the Old Stables for some lunch. we were early enough that it hadn't become too busy and we enjoyed a very pleasant lunch before strolling home.

Early afternoon the Gorse Fox headed off to the airport for his flight to Madrid. He must say that travelling on a Sunday afternoon or early evening is so much more relaxeing than trying to fight your way out on a Monday morning - particularly the Monday of Easter week. Gorse Fox parked and whistled through security before heading for the lounge to sip a cold drink and watch the planes lining up for take-off.

The next few days should be fun - teaching again.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Loss

It is a day of loss. It started with a trip to the barber where the gorse Fox lost his long flowing locks. It continued with mowing the lawns where the grass managed to lose half its height.

Finally, the Gorse Fox has to lose some of his boys' toys. So it is that he has written to the Stitch Witch and given her a list of all the tools(*) he wishes to pass on to a new home (her husband is an enthusiast and part of a collective of like minded individuals):

  • Router Table
  • Heavy duty router
  • Table saw
  • Compound mitre saw
  • Dust extractor
  • Thicknesser planer
  • Morticer

So finally, as he approaches retirement and would have time to use the tools, he needs to get rid of them because there will not be sufficient space in the new house/garage for a workshop.

C'est la vie.

(*) Gorse Fox should point, for the elimination of all doubt, that none of these tools should be used in quilting or other fabric-based pursuits.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Distraction

The day started with a teleconference involving one of GF's old colleagues from his last job. It is clear that GF has made a wise move, though evident that some of the news and issues we had highlighted twelve months ago are finally being recognised and a major re-planning exercise is under way. It's such a shame that the arrogance and self-importance of some the so-called leaders is such that they have wasted a year before recognising we were right.

Then Gorse Fox returned to yesterday's exercise and continued to work on some supporting spreadsheets. As he was working he hit a snag and decided the best solution was to do something in a linked spreadsheet that he could then reference. This was complex. This was very complex. In fact it took him several hours of experimentation and deep thought. During these few hours he was interrupted by a series of phone calls. These calls distracted him to a degree.

Eventually, the code was completed and worked. Gorse Fox was feeling very smug. What he had done was really very clever. The problem was that the various distractions had made him forget why he wanted to do it in the first place. So now he is scratching his head, looking at some clever code in a spreadsheet with no idea how or why he was going to use it.

Doh!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Another Slice of Pi

The new Raspberry Pi arrived in this morning's mail.

Because the Gorse Fox had already prepared the SDCard on which it runs, it took less than 5 minutes to put in its case, attach it to the network and power it up (most of that time was finding a screwdriver to assemble the case).

Current plan is that this will acts as a dedicated appliance to manage the home network and its domain.