Category: Blogging

Roadworks On The Doorstep

Nobody likes roadworks. Yet, they are an everyday nuisance of modern life. Living next to the First Great Western mainline route between Paddington and the West has meant we are inflicted upon by the noise of trains going by on a regular basis from 6am until midnight. Just like the planes overhead flying out and in to Heathrow, you get used to and after a month or so acclimatise to their existence. However, when we moved in over three years ago we knew little of the impact Crossrail would have on our new home. Stoke Poges Lane has a bridge, affectionately named after a local factory landmark, Horlicks Bridge. The bestowed name from the GSK building nearby which many years ago produced the nightime beverage. It is tight for two regular vehicles to cross at the same time and when lorries approach the crossing, they have to wait to ensure they are given a clear passage. Network Rail own the bridge, rather than Slough Borough Council, so therefore have been in charge of the upgrade in preparation for the electrification of the line from Reading all the way to the capital. The bridge is to be removed in November and fully replaced with full size bridge in April. Meanwhile we have had to put up with roadworks which started about two weeks ago, with three way traffic lights controlling the flow of vehicles over the bridge.

Roadworks

While driving home from Wycombe this evening, I came up to the lights and waited for them to turn green as you do. A wait of ten minutes, maybe a little more. However, as the lights turned green, a driver had taken the risk and jumped the red light on the other side. Now most cars ahead of me decided this was just not on and decided to force the driver to stop just before the signal. Being the better person I decided to let the silver Golf pass, only to have a bright blue BMW behind me toot their horn for holding them up. I was trying to let the vehicle through, so then the rest of the traffic would have clear run at the bridge. Oh the impatience of some drivers. This reall does get my goat sometimes. Why is everybody in such a hurry. I am sure there was a Honda Jazz television advert from many years ago which ended with the lines – “Aren’t We All Just Trying To Get Somewhere…!”

Momentous Milestones

This was not how I had intended to end my weekend, driving back from Nottingham to Slough. My car broke down, just off the M69 as we were approaching the A46 outside Coventry. A call to Green Flag and a forty minute wait later, we were towed over to the nearby Tesco supermarket. It was nearly 8pm at this point, the supermarket long since closed but the petrol station was open and we bought some sandwiches while we waited. The car was going to be loaded onto a trailer and driven down to Slough but we had up to a 90 minute wait. It was going to be a long night. The truck arrived within thirty minutes and we were on our way home. We did not expect to be home before 11pm.

On Trailer

We had been in Nottingham for the 100th Birthday celebrations of my long term family friend’s mother. It had been a wonderful but tiring day and we looking forward to getting home at 7pm to prepare for another working week. It was not to be.

The Most Sincere Form Of Flattery

Feel I have been disconnected in recent weeks until my brother-in-law Steve streamed this video on his TV this afternoon. #PatelWilliams now that is just pure genius! Well done to Ali for another fantastic performance!

Women Glow, Men Plunder

Several months ago I was told by my colleague Samantha, that she was off to travel and work in New Zealand. This did not come as a complete surprise, I had noted a guide book to the Southern Hemisphere country on her Instagram feed, several days earlier. She had actually been afraid I might mention something inadvertently at lunchtime, so decided to tell me on a walk to the Manor after lunch one afternoon. Jealous is not the word, I was beyond envious that she was heading off to a completely different continent but most importantly with no coherent plan. It was a leap of faith which many of us fear to take!

Since joining CA, I would have described Sam as the closest friend I have made in the office. Mostly for our shared love for US televisions shows and movies. I mentioned Suits and she re-watched the first series and then watched the second season in almost tandem with me and we spent many a lunch hour discussing Harvey, Mike, Rachel and Louis. This weekend past, she has been binging on Glee (from season one) and I have confirmed privately that I too am a closet GLEEK!

While she would not describe herself as major office personality within our team she was a keen social butterfly, always organising Friday night drinks and other events such as leading our volunteer day! I will miss her warm presence in the office and beaming smile. Although we never directly worked with each other I know she was a dedicated member of the Operations Team.

In the middle of February she was considering starting a blog to record all her adventures and I was pleased to offer my fifty pence of advice! By the end of the weekend, she had started StarTrekkingWithKodakKirky (what a mouthful!!).

I hope Sam will think of me, among others stuck in Ditton Park, Datchet updating reports while she starts a new life Down Under. I wish her the utmost good luck and part of me wishes I could be just as courageous. Maybe in another lifetime!

Viral Advertising Perfection

Three have realised that by using an advert that could have easily started life on YouTube and mailed around friends and colleagues via Facebook and Twitter is the ideal way to front a fully blown television spot. (They appear to have a website which enables you to star in the advert yourself!) They appear to back up this thinking by deep diving into our love of nostalgia by raiding every favourite song from the 1980s.

You will have to admit that this spot is pure genius, particularly the singing cat and the fact their young girl riding her stabilizer powered pink bicycle is actually only literally going around the block of her neighbourhood. The best television commercial at the moment by a country mile.

EDL in Slough

I heard about the march at the start of the year and conveniently planned to be in Wycombe on the proposed day of the march. Unsure why Slough in particular was chosen but there was a heavy police presence around Salt Hill Park as I drove down Stoke Poges Lane heading to the M4 and out of the Slough around 10:30am on Saturday.

Once in the comfort of my parents house and a good twenty two miles away from Slough, I caught up with events on Twitter and later watched uploaded footage on YouTube

It is a shame they had to protest in the town I now call home, but I was glad to see a large contingent of offices from Thames Valley Police and other local constabularies plus a great counter protest from anti fascists. To be frank what was the point, particularly with such a small turnout on a weekend in a relatively small town. I can only think it was chosen due to the proximity to London. While I am sure the EDL leaders made a point to highlight the diversity in the town and the fact that white population are now in the minority here. Speaking to the owner of 2 Geezers, the barber shop I use, located on the High Street, there were more anti protestors than actual EDL protesters. The police decided to close the road in the afternoon, so most businesses just shut up shop at 3pm and went home.

Rat Running

Being a local Slough boy, I like to think I know the shortcuts around town. Growing up down the road in High Wycombe, I spent many evenings and weekends in the local town of Slough. In particular as there is still no Hindu temple in my home town, this was the closed with a place of worship.

Driving home on Thursday afternoon, I listen to the radio and tend to tart around the stations working my way down from national to local. I switched to Time 106.6 which had a local news bulletin, directly after the main news. Lansdowne Avenue is to be closed to traffic from Monday 13th onwards. This would have an adverse affect on not just my journey to work but general journeys from the flat, to town or the supermarket. While I would never use the road to rat run, it was a useful shortcut to take out the Stoke Poges Lane traffic light crossroads. I just feel residents got annoyed with the amount of traffic and in many cases, people forgot it was a residential area, rather than a main route and never reduced their driving speed.

The impact for me is an additional few minutes on top of my morning commute, which includes a lifetime waiting at the lights at the end of Stoke Poges Lane. The signage went up last week but I did not notice it covered in black bin bags until later this week. How will they police such a closure, I do not know, unless they plan to actually block the road off completely, which is very unlikely. My answer came the next day, when signs were added and the red and white blocks were placed on the road.

Lansdowne Avenue

The Year That Was

The saying goes – what difference a year makes! This time last year, I had just been informed my job would transferred over to India within two years and that our existing contracts were being terminated to be moved over to a new third party provider. I was not looking forward to the new year, as I started 2013 with more fear than any excitement for the future. Life was going to be testing for the foreseeable future. Slowly things began to get worse before they got any better.

Over eighteen months I had built up a good friendship with many of my colleagues, including a small band, of like minded individuals whom happened to live in and around Slough. We got on very well and most importantly worked extremely well together. Surely enough though, with the news breaking just before Christmas of the forthcoming changes, many had decided not to wait on-board a sinking ship, instead almost on a weekly basis, we were saying goodbye to not just colleagues but people we called our friends.

At first I was keen to stay and show some loyalty but within weeks the atmosphere in the office changed and with a constant stream of people leaving, what little motivation remained was at an all time low. I had to find a new challenge, a new environment and most importantly a permanent position.

Rather than just focus on work, I know it takes up a big chunk of our waking hours. I thought it would be good to also focus on some of my highlights from the last twelve months. By no means as action packed as previous years (2011 or 2012) but plenty of highlights, including my recent birthday weekend in Barcelona. A long weekend away with the boys in Newcastle followed by a rush flight back to London to see Beyoncé in concert at the O2.

Beyoncé

In terms of my personal fitness, I started using a personal trainer – Errol for five months from January until May for twice a week sessions at EasyGym. My level of improvement over the the first half of the year was incredible and if I could afford to, I would have liked to have continued with these sessions. In the end, I left EasyGym, as I started my new job at CA with a free gym in the office. My fitness goal for next year is to lose one stone, with the help of MyFitnessPal and the purchase of a fitness tracker (waiting for the international release of the FitBit Force in February).

For charity, I raised over £300 for Movember in my second year of taking part in the event dedicated to raising money for Men’s Health. It was fun to be part of a group of 22 male colleagues, rather than just a handful in my department, as was the case at MS last year. I will not be taking part for the next few years, to give my face a break but also to stop harassing my friends and family to donate.

CA Mouchas

Gadget wise, the year started with me purchasing a Nexus 7 tablet and to be honest, I have never looked back. The device is used regularly throughout the evening as a second screen while watching television but also when out and about to guide us around a new place, or catch up on BBC TV via the iPlayer (now the Android application allows offline downloads). To say it has changed my life would be perhaps going a little too far but it has made a big difference. Plus being in a single laptop household, it enables me to quickly check things online or queue downloads without having to switch on the laptop and when my aging HTC Desire is just too slow and fiddly. The seven inch tablet has not completely replaced the laptop though. There are several things that I cannot do or rather prefer not to do on the tablet, such as banking. In terms of mobile, I am still yet to upgrade my personal mobile phone but did get a Samsung Galaxy SIII, even though it is my work mobile. I had promised myself the moment I got a permanent job I would go out and spend part of my first month’s salary on a new mobile. In the end I did not need to as I was able to order the Samsung Android device through my IT department. Although, initially I was provided with an iPhone 5, which I duly returned.

Television has probably for the first time beaten movies, as the number one entertainment source in our household. Suits returned for series three, which was better than series two. (For the record, I still have not identified the associate!) Something I thought would never happen. Other shows have continued to simmer along as usual, some with the difficulty of losing a major cast member. New shows on the scene have included Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD which I really enjoy, even if the target audience is the mid teen market. We finally got into Luther and watched all series of Sherlock back to back over the course of two weeks. Looking forward to his turn on New Years Day, even though I prefer Jonny Lee Miller in the titular role on CBS show Elementary.

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