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Mid November, and it sure gets dark early here now. Come 4 pm and it feels like it’s time to sit down and veg for a while. Last weekend was a lovely weekend, and having just had a few days of rain everything had greened up, and the trees seemed to be at their best. We then had a little cold snap and down came all the leaves gradually, until today when we have had a real “blower” and the leaves are all off the trees now. Can’t say I like these long dark evenings though.

Bonfire night (Guy Fawkes) has just passed. It is supposed to be a one-night celebration, but we seem to have had fireworks going off all over the place, randomly, for weeks, verging on months. Looney toonz. Hallowe’en was a dead loss (yuk) too. We only had 2 small children visit with little paper bags for the candy. We did have a pumpkin in the end. Trish’s nephews carved it, and used the innards to make it look like it had thrown up (saw that at a theme park recently – obviously appealed to them). Next door got the front of their house “egged” badly that night as it was mischief night here.

So much for life in England.

The UK is really revving up for Christmas now. We seem to have been bombarded on the TV with Santa ads for weeks now. Trish has been shopping of course, have to get all the parcels off early, or they won’t get there. We have people that have already received their presents. Haven’t done the cards yet though, and we are usually well up on that by now. I guess with this diary we don’t need to do much of a newsletter this year?

Things at work have been pretty awful lately. With the lay-offs that started last month I now have the only occupied office on the west wing of my floor at work. It’s dreadfully lonely, and boring. It feels like I’m inhabiting a ghost town. Once it gets dark it’s even worse, as you can imagine. Still, we are all supposed to move into one building some time early next year, so roll on that. I shall probably be back to living out of a suitcase by then though. Ah well!

3 more weeks and Trish goes off to Canada. She is off for 4 and a bit weeks, and will be visiting quite extensively while there. I will join her just before Christmas for 2 weeks, and am looking forward to the break. Trish is desperate to see Christina, as it’s been nearly 5 months now since they were last together.

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Eventually getting round to an update – while travelling again!

Summer is finally leaving us, judging by the colour of the leaves on the trees and the cool of the early morning air. The fall is beautiful this year in the UK, due to the long hot summer (and autumn, so far). We still have no rain, and only the early morning dew is damping down this dust bowl of the Thames valley.

As is no doubt obvious form Trish’s postings, we have had a very busy summer, and it continues. The highlights have been the wedding in Scotland, where I had the chance to meet almost all of my new family (really great bunch) and to spend some time with my other brother, Gordon, and the reunion of the old family at my cousin’s husband’s 60th birthday bash which was organized akin to a wedding reception, great idea where I got to catch up with family members I hadn’t seen in over 20 years.

The highest point of the summer, though, was my visit to Christina and friends in Canada. I spent 10 days over there, very busy mostly spending time with our baby, and fixing the house (items left over from the move when I wasn’t there last year). One big bonus turned out to be the Great North East Blackout, during which Christina got an extra day off work. Because everything there was closed (no power) we just spent the day “vegging” together. Great, eh!

On the house front, we are now doing the 2nd room out (the first having been our bathroom which Trish did all on her ownsome), the family room. My main job has been to build a bookcase and TV stand around the large radiator in that room. Trish is doing a “Debbie Travis” (Canadian TV decorator – bane of my life) paint finish on the walls and of course, wants to replace the carpet – bugger! I have also just spent a w/e replacing the floor in the bathroom (correction – Trish didn’t do it all in the end). It is now an awful pebble beach imitation – not very conducive to contemplating . . .

Meanwhile, the garden looks like a desert, covered in all the dried out leaves that fell off the trees from lack of water. Still lots of work to do out there if I get bored.

Work has been VERY stressful, and not the most successful of my ventures so far. Having started the year running the protfolio of the projects for Bombardier Transportation Signalling in the UK I have just closed down the Reading/Berks office of the UK operation, having downsized the UK in total by 30%, and am careering towards year end with no business left for us in the UK. Most of this is due to the catastrophic decisions being made by Network Rail (the old British Rail), and the fact of some very bad legacy projects that I inherited, but none the less, it’s pretty soul-destroying to watch the business slowly evaporating under my leadership. Anyway, Bombardier is moving on and I shall take up a new position as head of all Major Projects for our division in the near future. This is a position with global responsibilities, so I shall be working from an aeroplane again soon – that is provided the company wins some major projects.

Trish is keeping in touch with our new-found family down under in New Zealand. Hopefully we’ll get to meet some of them one day. They are going through the reverse seasons to us, so that’s interesting, hearing their exploits. How does Santa get around in the summer – must be REALLY hot in that suit – and are there wheels on the sleigh?

Well. Finally got a decent update in here. Let’s see how long it takes for my next one?

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The hot hot summer is rolling on here, and all without air conditioning! It is getting to the point here where we are considering investing in something called the portable AC unit – sounds interesting, though I don’t think it’s the personal, backpack type yet? Shouldn’t complain though, as this appears to be likely one of the sunniest summers on record (our last experience like that here was in 1976, but I understand we missed a few of these while we were in Canada).

The girls all had a great time in Seattle (Christina, Trish and her mum) visiting the relatives for the 50th wedding anniversary. I was busy while they were away with a few jobs around the house. We now have an 8 x x 10 deck off the back of the house – needed for the Cdn patio set – and the Chandelier from Canada is finally hung in the living room. I usually have to undo things that I do while Trish is away, but this time I managed to perform OK, I think. Except of course “. . . . is that all you did . . ?”

It’s nice to have people in the house again though, I must admit that I was almost starting to miss the mem’sahib.

Work has continued to be overwhelming, with all the turmoil at Network Rail. We are still hoping to retain some of our business with them, but there are no guarantees in the current climate on the railways here. Workwise things will ease up a bit for the next couple of months now as the summer period is starting here, and everyone gets lots of time off, this being Europe. Once the summer is over we have about 4 months of work left on the UK projects and then we will need the new orders that the sales people are desperately trying to find. Ah well, I still have my big Taiwan contract and we have a new order in Romania just kicked off to keep me occupied. If that doesn’t do it I will have to help the sales force out eh?

I haven’t made much progress with the inside of the house since the early spring. It is amazing how much time the garden consumes. It is nice to be outside though, and the garden itself still never ceases to amaze. We are continuing to find things out there that are new to us, and of course, adding to it in our own way. We have a fabulous crop of sweet peas at present; all that we grew ourselves from seed (proud gardener talking). I finally managed to get the Hammocks (bought in Mexico when on hols from Canada) hung. The only thing now is to find time to lay in them.

Gotta go now – just had a few minutes before I buzz off to the airport for a trip to Greece to see my team out there.

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It’s been months since I posted anything here, and I see that we are all flagging when I look at the others’ diaries. So here goes.

Christina was over here with Mike for 10 days just after Easter. We had a great time, though really hectic, as we tried to see all of England, including the Habberjam clan in Pontefract, in that 10 days. Actually it was great for me to be able to visit all the places that we went to. It’s been years since I managed to do any tourist things in the UK. Most memorable was probably the visit to the Tower of London, and the Ravens coming right up to us for “finger pie”, if you believe the Beefeaters. The weekend in Pontefract was great. Managed to do the pub crawl around the town centre with my folks, including starting off at the pub of my cousin who is the largest contributor to our clan at present (lots of boys too – just to keep the name going). We Canadians wimped out at about 1 AM and went home, but a couple of the family were out till 4:30 AM!!!

In summary, we visited Stonehenge, Salisbury, London, York and Windsor, plus other bits. No doubt the rest will tell more eventually. All in all “toute la gang” had a great time during the kids’ visit, I think.

I have had a lot of time off work over the last 3 weeks – what with Easter, then another public holiday 2 weeks later, and the days off with the visitors. Unfortunately, that’s put me a bit out of touch at work, so I now have to work my bu . . . . off to catch up. On the positive side though, I’ve built 2 sheds in my garden (garden tools and bikes) and finished off the shelves and everything in my garage-based workshops – feel good about that. I have also cut the grass twice in the last while, and it needs doing again now (when does it turn brown here?). The garden looks terrific though, and we appear to be still going through spring – it’s all the blossom trees that are giving us colour now. Stunning blooms all over the place.

I was supposed to be in Taiwan this week, but cancelled out at the last minute. Taiwan was upgraded re the SARS risk last week, to #3 hot spot in the world now. I was looking forward to going too, so I hope they solve this soon. I have been spending an increasing amount of time in Plymouth recently. That area is really nice at this time of year (as long as the sun stays out). I just wish it was good news as to why I am down there – but it’s not. My project there is in the dumper and doesn’t seem to be getting better. Still, they wouldn’t need me if all was fine?

Trish is getting busier with the Church, the Women’s Institute, and volunteer work. She also worked one day as a Poll something or other during recent local elections. That’s £100 in the bank, which will last her for years no doubt. I know the $3000 (or so) that she earned in 21 years in Canada certainly supplied her with lots of wardrobes over the years, and still left her with ” . . my own money . . “.

Ya gotta love it eh?

Well, gotta go now. Have to go out for dinner tonight, from work. It’s a lousy job, but someone’s gotta do it eh?

Byeeeee.

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Having had my family all telling everyone how busy I am, I thought I had better catch up a little myself.

My new job entails managing all of the UK projects for the signalling division of Bombardier Transportation. In addition to the UK projects I also kept Taiwan (though I did appoint someone to replace me for the day to day work), and I have projects in Greece and Bucharest (I will get rid of the latter soon – someone else’s territory).

My UK projects include one for the London Underground, 3 for British Rail (now Network Rail) consisting of 2 in the midlands and 1 in the south, and 2 tram projects in the midlands. Also, my team in the UK is spread out between Plymouth, Derby, York and Reading. The locations are what are keeping me busiest, as getting around between all of these places has been really time consuming. Hopefully that will get better now that I have met everyone and done a very detailed review of all of the projects. The next step is meeting more of the customers.

I finally managed to get to see someone from my family this month. 7 months back in the country (in theory) and this was the first visit to Yorkshire. By God, ‘twer good ter be ‘ome! Everyone appears to be OK, and I/we will be up there again when Christina is over in the spring.

Things at home are still very hectic. I remain busy trying to get things in place from the move, and my darling wife is already taking rooms apart for decorating (Bloody Debbie Travis!)! The Garage is in much better shape now – no longer a garage, but a double workshop/laundry room as Trish said. Putting the carport roof and the shed roof – extensions to the garage – back together took all last weekend, but it’s done now. Everything takes longer than I plan, and of course, everything is also VERY expensive.

There is lots of stuff coming through in the garden. It looks great already, and I can’t wait to get out there. The birds singing are terrific. I’ve seen the deer a couple of times now, and last week I saw a lovely Blue Heron just behind the house as I set off for work. Terrific. Next job is to build a garden shed for all the power equipment (lawnmowers etc.).

Well, gotta get back to work now. Hopefully I can update this more often in future (not holding my breath though).

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This is Christina updating for Dad. He’s really busy, that’s why he hasn’t updated in quite a while! Spending a day in Sweden here, a few days in England there and off to Germany for a night… and building things in the house while he’s at home.

Just so everyone knows 🙂

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HAPPY NEW YEAR everyone!

January the 6th, and back at work today. The traffic was horrendous this morning, and there was no heating in the building at work (basement floods).

Despite all the people on the road, there were very few at work – maybe got stuck in traffic and went home? Great start to the year eh?

We had a fabulous break; from Mum (in law) ‘s surprise birthday party on the 21st, through to today. Mum and dad came down to Reading with us from the 21st to the 5th, and Trish took them home yesterday. Christina was here for 10 days, and her and I had a day out in London to see the Star Trek exhibit, and to do a bit of site-seeing (of course). Unfortunately, the latter was done largely in the rain, but then this is England so what could one expect? Christina went back on the 30th, so that she could “party” with her friends. I think she enjoyed her trip. We also had Gerard and Kay (Trish’s brother and his wife) to stay with us on the 2nd of Jan., on their way back to Canada. It was great to see them, even though only for the one night.

New Year’s Eve was our quietest for a long time. Thankfully we had mum and dad here, or we would have been very bored. We had a great meal, that Trish cooked, and then played silly games afterwards. There were lots of fireworks in the neighbourhood at midnight, and the neighbours were out in the street celebrating too; so we did have a bit of a hoot and roar.

Trish’s birthday (2nd Jan) was fairly quiet, as usual – mainly due to the Christmas/NYE hang over again. It was good that Gerard and Kay came though, so once again, we had a chance to lift a few glasses. Trish was quite content with not getting lots of presies this year, due to the expense that we have been through already since arriving in the UK, and the hectic time with the move. Maybe we could move every year just to save me from trying to figure out how to shop again, so soon after the shopping season!?

Well, I am looking forward to spending more time in the UK now, though not to having to spend it on the road!!

Once again, Happy New Year to everyone, and hope to see some of you this year, either here, or on our travels.

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I managed to escape back to Taiwan the day after Trish came out of hospital. If you are reading her diary you will understand why.

It’s turning cold here in Taiwan too – seems everywhere I go is like that now (must be something to do with the seasons). As you can imagine, I am finding the mere 28 degrees C here difficult to take.

I came here this time for 2 weeks as we are trying to get some engineering tests done on the actual main line tracks. True to fashion, after we arrived the customer announced that there was some testing that he would like done too. That’s right, no notice, told us after we arrived. Ah well, such is the spice of the working life these days. Wouldn’t it be boring without these (damned) customers.

Anyway, it’s 9pm on a Thursday evening and we have to go off now to run some tests on the garveyard shift (after a long day of prep).

Talk to y’all soon.

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Sweden is now turning cold, and having been here since Monday all I have seen is light snow, grey skies and VERY early darkness (3:30 pm), though the snow is not sticking so it’s not even pretty at this point.

And to think, last week I was in Taiwan and 25ºC weather, with a quick 48 hours in the UK (just to wash off any tan I might have picked up) before hurrying off to Stockholm!!

The new news is that my job is apparently to change again in the new year. I have finally managed to get a home based job, and will be taking over all UK projects for our division at the end of January. That doesn’t mean that I will actually be at home (in Reading) but will at least be travelling around the UK during the week, and be home at for the weekends. Good eh? Though it probably means that I shall have to start helping unpack the boxes now (what IS taking her so long?)

Presently we have projects in London, Horsham, Leeds and the West Country, and are gearing up for work on the East Midlands lines (wherever they are), and we do the work for those largely out of Derby and Plymouth facilities. My home base will remain Reading however.

Time to go to the pub for a Svendrups now

slope da klop nip floop (or something like that).