We had a "fun" trip home. We went via Stockport, not the most direct route from Halesowen to Bromley, to take Helena home. The M6 was one very long car park. After a couple of hours of frustration I took a side road. To cut a long story short I went through a puddle was hiding a very large pothole which took out the two off-side tyres. We had to be recovered and get tow replacement tyres so we eventually reached Stockport at 22:30 instead of the anticipated 16:30. So much for a speedy detour. I am not attempting to recover the cost of the tyres from the local council - watch this space.
This Boxing Day we were not out in the midday sun, but rather the midday rain. We spent Christmas with our youngest son Lawrie who lives in Halesowen. On Boxing Day we went for a walk on Clent Hill. Despite th rain, cold and mud it was most enjoyable; we are a peculiar lot!
Our Parish Church was a 100 years old on Thursday 13 December. We celebrated with a sung Vespers presided over by Bishop Pat Lynch then on Sunday we had a High Mass celebrated by Archbishop Peter Smith.
Vespers by Candlelight
Julia made the Celebration Cake, it was excellent. Bishop Pat, with the Mayor of Bromley is cutting the cake.
At Mass, The Gospel being read by Deacon Duncan
Archbishop Peter giving the Homily
At the end of Mass the Archbishop gave the Benemerenti to three parishioners. Many congratulations to Joan, Frank and John.
Julia's twin sister Phil and husband Peter were alss down for the weekend for our "present exchange" so it was a rather hectic time. On Saturday we wnet to Canterbury for teh day - had an excellent pub lunch at the City Arms.
Ilse my childhood friend once found a raspberry in the camp and carried it in her pocket all day to present to me that night on a leaf. Imagine a world in which your entire possession is one raspberry and you give it to your friend.
We were "t'up north" over the weekend hunting for a wedding dress for Helena. In Alderley Edge we saw a sign outside the local off-license (wine merchants) " Two bottles of Cristal Champagne for £250". Needless to say we bought a couple of cases!
Yes once again it is that month when we endeavour to remind all men to check for prostrate and testicular cancer. Some of us do that by growing a "Mo" or rather a moustache. Any donations or sponsorship money raised goes towards research into these two major killers. The current status of my Mo on Movember 16 is:
If you would like to sponsor me then please click HERE!
We managed to spend a week at the lodge in Devon. We bought a fabulous picture by David Chambers, the Devon artist, which is now hanging over the front room mantlepiece. We have re-arranged the mantlepiece since taking the photo.
Hauling in the life-boat
We spent a day in Ilfracombe which is a fabulous seaside town. We will have to return in the summer. The reason for going was to look at the Damien Hirst sculpture of the pregnant lady. i am not sure what it "means'. It is certainly an impressive work and is the best Hirst piece of art that I have seen. It is also one of the few that I like.
Pregnant lady - they are still completing the ground works
It is still a working harbour with a small fishing fleet
One of the reasons for our hectic life of late has been the three funerals that we have recently attended. It is a sign of our time of life that the number of funerals you go to increases.
The first funeral was that of Auntie Grace, aged 98. She never really recovered from the loss of her husband of 72 years my Uncle Gordon. This marked the end of the "older generation" on my dad's side of the family. We are now the "old ones". Thanks to road works and a road accident on the motorway we were late arriving at the crematorium in Worthing, some folk never made it. It was a lovely service with some touching tributes to her.
The second funeral was that of Margaret Morris in Manchester. She was a very close friend of Julia's parents. I spent my last night of "freedom" with Margaret and her late husband Ken on the 23 July 1971. She was a lovely lady and we were lucky to have been with her a couple of weeks before she died. She was in good form, Helena was with her and we talked about the plans for the forthcoming wedding. She was at our Ruby Wedding celebrations last year and really enjoyed herself. It is good to have recent happy memories of her.
The third funeral, in Birmingham, was that of "Nana" Reynard who was Emma's paternal grandmother. We had met Nana a few times and she was a lovely lady who was much loved and will be sorely missed.
I thought that once I retired I would have ample opportunity to write deep meaningful Blogs on current affairs and the issues that interest me. How wrong can you get! So far all I have done is rush about. Two trips up north, wedding planning with very little time to sit and do nothing. Hopefully this will come in the next few weeks.
Helena had come down for a few days, and Lawrie and Emma came down on the Friday evening. They had said that as the weather was nice we should go to the beach and so Saturday found us at Whitstable much to our surprise. The suggestion had been made partly in jest; but the weather was nice so off we went and we had a great time.
Emma, Barry and Helena
Barry and Lawrie
Lunch of fish and chips sat by the harbour wall, wondering along the sea shore then back through the high street looking at various art galleries and antique shops. In the evening we all, Barry, Julia, David, Andrew, Gaew, Lawrie, Emma and Helena (sadly Sam had to work) went off to our local Chinese, Ginny's Kitchen, for a banquet. A really great evening was had by all.
The past few days have been rather hectic to say the least. Wednesday 3 October I had my farewell drinks session at the Kings Arms, Roupell Street. They only had nine different cask conditioned beers. I did my best to get through the card, but jad to admit defeat. I seemed to get stuck on one that was 6.6% ABV!
Thursday was my birthday, 65! We celebrated by going to Chapter One, the local one star Michelin Restaurant. I must confess that it thoroughly deserves its star. The food is fantastic and it has vegetarian menu which met Julia's expectations. I highly recommend this restaurant.
Friday was my last day at work, badge, phone, credit card and laptop were all handed in and I left the building. My manger Andy bought me lunch and we had a couple of beers together with a couple of colleagues. Then it was on the train home to start the rest of my life.
The degree course that I am doing is run under the auspices of St Mary's College, Strawberry Hill. A college of the University of London. There is widespread unhappiness at the way a merger of two departments is being imposed by the principal Philip Essler without the usual consultation process. A motion of no confidence was passed by the college. Further details can be found by clicking here.It is so sad that staff and students are being treated in such an appalling way. There was a post on a Blog that the Senior Management Team was going to resign today, sadly this has proved to be a hoax.
After 28 years and eight months this old walrus will be departing IBM on Friday 5 October. I joined, having been made redundant from BAT; at the time we were doing a loft conversion at home. We didn't have a roof on the house, the builder went bust, three young children and I didn't have a job; so things could only get better. They certainly did get better, I joined Property Services as a Chartered Mechanical Engineer and helped commission Southbank and all its Series 1's which was then nearing completion. It was then onto Wigmore Street which I managed along with the other Central London locations including the IBM shops (remember those?). I joined the "back to the field" call some 25 years ago and spent 18 months training as a Systems Engineer. It was in the middle of the Mid-range Implementation School that we announced the AS/400 so we hurriedly had to redo all the System 38 stuff. During the final SE School the team I was part of proposed the 6150 and AIX as part of our solution; this baffled most of the call takers as they had very little idea of what it was. Then it was life as a branch SE at Croydon in South East Branch. I played my last game of rugby for them some two years after my "retirement" from the game, We played one of our large customers. It must have been a very hot day as there was a tremendous rehydration session after the match. I am trying to imagine the control forms that we would have to complete today if we were to try to embark on such a venture! Then it was into the AIX Business Unit and finally joining the newly formed Storage Unit in about 1996/7.
Looking back, the past twelve years have been the best. Almost four years working at the ITSO in San Jose, who wouldn't enjoy living and working there? Then back to the UK at the end of 2003. I spent most of my time working with the best storage product that IBM has invented and produced, the SVC. Then in 2008 I joined the XIV team. Not only is it the best storage product in the marketplace but it has the some of the best teams supporting and selling it that I have worked with during my career; teams in the UK, the US, Mainz and Israel. It has been a great time.
So it is with mixed emotions that I will be leaving IBM. IBM has changed beyond recognition since I joined; perhaps it is as well it did or else it would no longer exist. The whole world has changed and not always for the best. Those of us who have been around a while can reminisce about thing such as; family dinners, team meetings in Calais, branch teams in the Sunday Times Fun Run, trips on Blue Bell line, tea at the Ritz, the IBM Hot Air Balloon (no not senior management, a real one in which we took customers), IBM Half marathon Championships, the list goes on!
When I leave I will be completing my studies for a degree in Pastoral Theology and, DV, will be ordained a Permanent Deacon in the RC Church next year.
Finally spare a thought for my wife Julia, we have been married for 41 years and now she will have to put up with me 24x7!
We found out at the recent Study Day at Wonersh that we have all passed the foundation Degree. The marks etc will not be known for some months as they have to be ratified. But all twelve of us have passed. One more step on the road!
Friday saw me with our youngest son, Lawrie, off to the Olympics. I had managed to buy two tickets for the evening track session. We had to get there around lunch-time as the tickets that I got for Orbitz - the weird sculpture were for 1:30. We had a fabulous time. The views from the top of Orbitz were great - you could see into part of the Olympic stadium. If you timed it right you would be able to watch the 100 metres from there!
The views over London were stunning.
We spent the afternoon watching events on the large screen; then in the evening we saw some great track and field events. We saw the last events of the of the first day of the heptathlon, final of the men's shot which was an absorbing contest and the final of the women's 10,000 metresThe views over London were stunning. Plus we saw the heats of the men's 1500mteres and the women's 100 metres and the women's discus. A fantastic evening, the stadium is great and despite being farky high up we had great views of eveything. I am so grateful I could get tickets.
At last I managed to get another parkrun in. My time of 29:10 shows a decline from No3 but since I had a week in Dallas where I didn't run but worked out in the gym I am not surprised. American food portions don't help either!
Hopefully I will get out next Saturday and do another which should be better. Having said that I am going to the Games next Friday evening to see some track and field which will mean a late night. Maybe I will be inspired by the final of the Women's 10,000 metres - which they will complete faster than I can run 5k!!!
We have been out and about the last few weeks which have somewhat curtailed my blogging activities. We had a few days down at the Lodge in Devon. The weather was not up to much, the continual rain, although we did manage one walk along the river.
We returned on a Sunday; the next day I was up bright and early leaving home at 5 am to catch a flight from Heathrow to Dallas. I spent a week there on business, all work and sadly very little play! The return flight was rather long, or rather we spent a long time in the plane. We boarded and were a couple of minutes from pushing back from the terminal when a sudden storm hit. Thunder and lightning accompanied by strong winds - the plane was rocking and rolling even though we were stationery. We had a fun three hours of this before things abated and the airport opened again. So in total we were on board for over 12 hours. At least when we got to LHR all the security desks were opened and there was no queue; in fact I had about ten desks to chose from.
Then it was straight down to Rainham in Kent to witness a friend's ordination into the Permanent Diaconate. Thanks to the delay I missed the first part of the service; but I made the Mass. Then it was customer meetings in Manchester, at least I am home now. The office in London is shut for the duration of the Olympics which means working from home or at customer sites.
Currently we are enjoying glorious weather, but we are going on a picnic this Sunday which no doubt will mean a return of the rain!
Regular readers of this blog (are there any?) are probably wondering what has happened to the timed 5k runs that I took part in. Well they are still happening, unfortunately due to Church and other commitments I have not been able to take part in them. I am alsoe sorry tio say that my running took a bit of a dive. There were the May heavy rains followed by my LMF (lack of moral fibre) which meant that for a few weeks I did nothing. Fortunately I am now back pounding the streets again. I was hoping to take part in a run last Saturday, only to find that due to other activities there was no tun on 30th June!. Due to an induction study day at Wonersh (for the incoming first year), holidays and a business trip to Dallas it now looks like the end of July before I get an official timed run in.
The academic year has finally come to a close. There is still some work to do, I have two essays due in early July - all offers of help gratefully received! The photo shows what a fine body of students we are, or not as the case may be
The flags were out for the Jubilee Weekend - not for us
I am a retired Consulting IT Specialist. I have been married to Julia for nearly 47 years and we are blessed with four children; David, Andrew, Lawrie and Hélèna. Not forgetting the "other half's"; Gaew married to Andrew, Lawrie's partner Emma and Hélèna's husband Sam.
In addition we have a grandson - Henry Thomas, son of Lawrie and Emma. Henry was four in April 2017 and he now has a sister, Georgia, born on 29 December 2017.
I am ordained as a Permanent Deacon in the RC Church - date of ordination 8 June 2013 so am now in my fifth year of ministry.