Friday, November 28, 2014

Cull

The Gorse Fox's spies tell him that Starfleet is about to begin another cull. This is euphemistically referred to as a "period of Employee Consultation". What this actually means is that the numbers are significant enough that they cannot do the usual trick of slipping them in under the radar.

So what has gone wrong?

Well the Gorse Fox would think it is pretty clear. It has spent so much time being driven by a (now unachievable) share-price target that it has taken its focus away from those things that actually have an effect on the share price; i.e. customer satisfaction, and employee satisfaction.

Indeed, as far as customer satisfaction is concerned, the problem lies with the lack of differentiation. Why would someone choose Starfleet over Klingon Partner Management Group, Huffing Pathetically, or any other services company. Starfleet tends to be more expensive - but they were at least brutally honest (which is why they lose some deals - where customer would rather hear what they want to hear, rather than the true facts surrounding their demands). However, in the corportae purchases of the past 10 years they have seriously watered down the ethos of the company, and many of those in high places were "imports" who may not have the same levels of rigour or conscience as the company once displayed.

As far as employees (cannon fodder) are concerned there is not one iota of respect from the company. They are expected to work anywhere in Western Europe, they must travel in their own time, they are contracted to work 37 hours a week, but measured on billing 44 hours or more. Many, if not most, work significantly more than the 48 hour EU directive allows, but are expected to have signed a waiver. On top of this they are expected to have done lots of "give-back" which is Starfleet-speak for free work. Meanwhile the accountant-defined distribution curve for the annual performance round penalises people by forcing them into an artificial ranking that determines exactly how top performers and unsatisfactory performers there must be (irrespective of whether they are).

The Gorse Fox is so glad he retired this year. It is a dreadful shame to see this corporate cancer eating away at the company to which he dedicated 30 years. He feels so sorry for those he has left behind on the Corporate battlefield.

Noon Image: 28 Nov 2014

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Noon Image: 27 Nov 2014

Cables

The Gorse Fox recently purchased some extra charging cables for the iPhones. He researched them ( as you would expect) and was dismayed to see that the Apple cables really got a poor write-up and seemed to give people trouble after a a very short time. However, there was an Amazon-own-brand cable which got a very good write-up and claimed to be certified. GF selected the Amazon cables which have worked flawlessly. He was, nevertheless, amused by a message on the iPhone when he connected it this morning warning that this was not an Apple cable and may not, therefor, work properly.

Excuse me! the reason this cable was selected was because of the poor feed-back on the Apple cables.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Off

What a filthy day. It's grey, it's overcast, it's drizzling, and it's not very warm. In fact it's exactly how the Gorse Fox imagines it would be living in Wales.

The weather has a casualty. Today's walking football was cancelled. It was deemed that the pitch was unsafe, being waterlogged in some places and very slippery everywhere else. As most of the players don't have studs it becomes too dangerous. Indeed there were a couple of injuries at the earlier session (held in Littlehampton).

In other news the Tournament seems set for 10th December at the Amex Elite Training Centre with a TV company in attendance to film the proceedings. (Note to self: refresh fake tan, get yellow boots, and arrange for name to be highlighted in sequins on back of shirt).

Noon Image: 26 Nov 2014

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Away game

The Gorse Fox thought he'd try another football session. There is an open session on Tuesday mornings at Worthing so he pottered across, met up with Captain Jack (from Angmering/Ford) and joined in with the throng. It was chilly and wet, but the pitches were "all-weather" surfaces and were no problem to play on.

There were sufficient players to have 4 5-a-side teams and as we had 2 pitches we played a round-robin. GF's team (yellow) drew the first game, lost the second, and (apparently) won the third - though that's not how GF remembers it. Then the whole tournament was finished off with penalties. As it worked out, GF's yellow-team came second overall.

The pitches were a bit bigger which made the game more open and hopefully had more impact on levels of fitness. GF is still nowhere near the level of fitness he would like to achieve but is certainly improving. Having said that, the most difficult thing is still restraining yourself from running (fit or otherwise).

GF may go back and play some more when  he has the odd Tuesday spare - but next week is out of the question.

Noon Image: 25 Nov 2014

Monday, November 24, 2014

Keep it coming

Well the post arrived - one envelope contained the rebate of the outstanding Road Fund license for the Silver Vixen's old car (incidentally that rebate is bigger than the cost of the road tax for next year).  The other envelope contained notification of the payment of our Winter Fuel Allowance.

This is an excellent start to the week.

It got better.

The phone rang. It was BT. The chap who has been handling the Gorse Fox's broadband issues was checking if the case can now be closed. GF agreed it could - it was clear there was nothing further that could be done until they lay some fibre. The BT chap then said that because of the inconvenience he would credit  our account with two months-worth of broadband fees. (This is on top of the credit they gave us last month for the disruptions to the phone).

A very good start to the week - keep it coming!

Meanwhile we have heard from our fireplace supplier. The fire and surround are now available and we plan to have them fitted next week. This is good because we should also have the shutters fitted next week. Once that is done we are all set until after Christmas.

Noon Image: 24 Nov 2014

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Lunch

It seemed appropriate to go back to "Amelie and Friends" which has rapidly become our favourite restaurant for special occasions.

When we arrived and announced ourselves the Silver Vixen was wished a Happy Birthday and, though early, we were shown to our table immediately.

We had a lovely leisurely lunch selected from their simple but choice menu. Starting with crab and prawn tian, halloumi tikka skewers on saffron risotto balls, we moved on to 6-hour roastes pork belly with spiced crackling and then finally a pear tarte tatin with which to round off the meal.

As expected, everything was just perfect... even to the point that they had written Happy Birthday on the Silver Vixen's plate in rich dark chocolate. Nice touch.

Offside

The Gorse Fox is back from Sunday morning's walking football. The Silver Vixen, as is now becoming the norm, came along to watch all of the creaking wrecks bumping into each other and falling over at the arena.

The Gorse Fox was goalkeeper for the first half - and was pleased with his performance. In the second half he went out to play midfield. Whilst happy with some of the "play-making", passing, and dribbling, he didn't score himself this week. Also it is clear that he needs to improve his fitness. Plan at the moment is to do an extra session on Tuesday and see if it is worth keeping on the calendar.

Noon Image: 23 Nov 2014

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Family

It was a nice day - (well, excepting the weather, which was a bit naff). The Silver Vixen's sister and partner came down to visit for the first time. Soon after they arrived and we settled down with a coffee, Urban-cub also turned up.

The Gorse Fox prepared (bought and put in the oven) a three-bird roast with roast vegetables, potatoes, and mushrooms. This was accompanied by the odd glass of fermented grape juice, and finished off with an apple and berry crumble.

The Silver Vixen and her sister started to wade through bags of jewellery left by their mum. They sorted  through deciding which bits each would have, which were not worth hanging on to, and which bits would be available for the girls. Meanwhile, the chaps watched the football from the Spanish League, on TV.

After the guests had left, the Silver Vixen had the residual items of jewellery and hug box of old photos. These proved intriguing as she waded through them and the other items from the box. The Gorse Fox clearly has a lot of scanning and filing on the horizon.

Noon Image: 22 Nov 2014

Friday, November 21, 2014

Birthday in Brighton

 It is the Silver Vixen's birthday.

We had planned a day in Brighton where, among other things, there was a craft fair at The Dome featuring (among others) one of the SV's friends. That was a good start to the day and we spent a little money on some nice articles that will be put aside for Christmas.

After the craft fair we headed out into the Laines.
 Brighton's Laines are always worth a trip. They are full of the most eclectic mix of shops, restaurants, and visitors.

We started at the North Laines and covered most of the ground without, on this occasion, getting sucked into any of the stores.

Heading back across North Street we stopped to take a picture of the block where Cousteau-Cub used to live. Evidently, they are doing some work on the roof... but those dormer windows used to be in C-C's flat.

We carried on down towards the sea and stopped at what used to be a cinema and is now an Asian buffet restaurant. We paid our money and then went about eating Chinese, Malaysian, Thai, Indian and Vietnamese cuisine. Being a buffet you could return as often as you wished. We were both very restrained and left feeling very content (neither of us had returned to the buffet more than 10 times).
We headed to the South Laines. It is strange how much they differ from the North Laines - much more of a concentration of jewellery and twee little shops.

It is funny how people define luck. As we wandered past a Thai restaurant that we had not noticed before, a passing gull decided that the Silver Vixen was a prime target. As it was her birthday, it could not resist the opportunity to deposit a gift on her head. Passers-by seemed to believe this was a sign of good luck. The Gorse Fox was less sure as he had to claw the deposit from her hair. It was no good. He did his best - but it was clear that would not suffice. We headed for Boots and purchased wet-wipes, hand-gel and a comb. Then outside the shop we had another go at the deposit - which by now had turned to the consistency of concrete. We did what we could... it was less noticeable. That's about as good as it would get.

Some final shopping in the Churchill Centre rounded off the day and we headed for the car. The journey home seemed interminable - taking nearly 2 hours, which seems ridiculous for a 25 mile trip, but that's Friday traffic for you.

Now if you will excuse - the Gorse Fox needs a beer and the Silver Vixen needs more tea.

Noon Image: 21 Nov 2014

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Serendipity

The Gorse Fox took the opportunity to cut the grass. It seems very late in the year to use the mower, but it was nice to tidy things up before the weather closes in.

Gorse Fox spent the afternoon doing admin and looking for some alternative astroturf pitches to use for the walking football. He was delighted to find a £40M community sports centre about a mile from home. He didn't hestitate - he went straight up there to take a look and get details of the facilities and the prices. Looks great - though the pitches are "all weather" - i.e. they are outdoors. The Gorse Fox is not too worried about the fact it is not indoors - but suspects for some of the older players they may prefer the warmth of an indoor facility.

Noon Image: 20 Nov 2014

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Exercise

The Gorse Fox had his usual football session this morning. His team won, and the Gorse Fox scored a couple of the goals. The best part, however, was the news that once these 6 sessions are complete, Brighton & Hove Albion hope to continue with more formal sessions at a permanent location with proper astro-turf. Thiis should save the Gorse Fox from needing to buy some proper football boots (with studs).

We also heard that there is likely to be a session at the B&H training centre with TV cameras there to record it. So there you go... the Gorse Fox may get onto Match of the Day, yet.

Noon Image: 19 Nov 2014

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Patience

The Gorse Fox is favouring impatience over playfulness today. 

The phone ran. The Gorse Fox answered. Therr was a pause, and then in a strong Indian sub-contintent accent "Hello, this is Jack from Windows technical support".

The Gorse Fox paused for a nano-second. Does he play the poor sap along? or does he end the call. 

Old age curmudgeoness overcame the playful urge. "I am well aware of this scam. I don't use a Windows computer. Goodbye." and at that, the Gorse Fox hung up. 

Feeling at-peace with the world the Gorse Fox prepared some invitation cards. A carol concert is scheduled for early December, and we thought we would invite the neighbours in for some mulled wine following the singing. After supper the Gorse Fox wandered around the Crescent and posted the invites through the letter boxes. (A trip to Lidl for some Gluhwein and nibbles is cleary on the agenda).

Noon Image: 18 Nov 2014

Monday, November 17, 2014

Deskbound

The Silver Vixen had a visit from Handy Mandy so the Gorse Fox made himself scarce and spent much of the day in the study. This gave him a chance to do some scanning of a batch of old photos, some recent mail, and some insurance certificates. The Gorse Fox has, as explained before, adopted a paperless approach to admin. Everything is scanned, filed, backed up, then the original is shredded. There is no longer any paper filing. This is proving very successful and does make it very easy to find documents.

Noon Image: 17 Nov 2014

Sunday, November 16, 2014

In memory

It is just over a year since we said good bye to the Silver Vixen's mum. Today, we had the opportunity to get together as a family and plant a tree in the churchyard of Buckingham Parish Church in memory of her. It was cearly an emotional moment for some, but for others it was a time to remember with fun and fondness.

Affter the tree planting we all met up for a meal at a local restaurant, to chat, to plann, and to look forward.

A nice day.

It was also the first opportunity to take the Silver Vixen's new car for a run. It was very comfortable, and cruised effortlessly. for such a big vehicle the Gorse Fox was pleased to see a return of nearly 57mpg.

Noon Image: 16 Nov 2014

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Mulling it over

It has been a quiet day. Most of the morning was spent going through and updating the financial spreadsheets - the Money Dashboard software has been upgraded to allow a download of the historical transactions (which it always used to do, but this feature was lost in a recent update).

The Silver Vixen needed a birthday card for a friend so we headed to Chi. John Lewis was heaving, but we persevered. (John Lewis was obviouslyunder stress as the lights failed a couple of times while we were there). Silver Vixen found a suitable card and then we wandered through the store. The Gorse Fox was wondering what could be used to serve mulled wine at the forthcoming carol service. In the end we discounted stock pots, punch bowls, slow cookers and heavens knows what else. We plumped fo a bucket-like jam pot. We still have to find some suitable glasses, but at leas we have a receptacle in which to prepare and heat the wine, and from which we can serve it.

Noon Image: 15 Nov 2014