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Picture this. Instow beach…

There’s really nothing like a bracing walk on the beach in winter to give you an appetite on Sunday lunchtime so, after fortifying ourselves with bacon and French toast for breakfast, we made our way to Instow, a twenty minute drive along the estuary, to where the rivers Taw and Torridge reach the sea at Bideford bay.

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A small fishing village with a large and attractive beach at low tide, Instow is always popular, no matter what the season.
Whether it’s tourists flooding the area in summer or dog walkers and locals like us taking advantage of the vacated sands in winter, the flat expanse of the beach and undulating, grass covered dunes make for an ever-changing landscape that has a wild and natural grandeur of its own, even in January.

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The nearby village of Appledore makes a colourful backdrop to the panoramic views across the river and there are many juxtapositions of colour and texture, both natural and man-made, wherever you look.

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From the elegant colonial styling of the old Commodore Hotel…

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…to the ancient stone of the sea wall and flood defences…

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…and the strange organic shapes made by the ever-present driftwood, dune grass and spiny buckthorn.

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After an hour or so of clambering around amongst the dunes and hunting for seashells on the blustery sands of the beach, it was pleasant to rest for a drink in a local beer garden, after which we strolled into the village to sample the mouth-watering wares at the fabulous delicatessen on the harbour before heading home.

I can’t think of more fitting musical offerings to accompany a Sunday stroll on the beach than these two, so close your eyes and picture the waves lapping on the sand to enjoy Travis with Driftwood and the Bloom album in its wondrous entirety from Beach House.

Happy Sunday everyone.

 
 

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One liner wednesday…

If you can’t say something nice, say it about a c**t.

http://lindaghill.com/

 
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Posted by on January 21, 2015 in Blogging, Humour

 

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Advice: It’s nice to be nice…

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Back when I first started doodling my own brand of virtual graffiti on one tiny corner of the infinite wall we call the internet, I was fortunate enough to have a mentor of sorts, an established blogger and writer who I could call on for advice and technical assistance and whose blog I have watched grow into an astonishingly accomplished and much respected site that you should check out at your earliest convenience. (looking back, I can’t believe quite how inept and clueless I was, having grown up in the generation before the Information Superhighway turned the whole planet into one huge suburb of itself)
I will always be grateful for all the help and support that he and other inhabitants of the blogosphere gave me as I too set out on a long strange trip onto the Weird Wide Web.

So it’s only fair that those of us who have benefited from the wit and wisdom of others should pay it forward, pass on any experience we think would be of use to the ever-growing wave of new writers, photographers, story-tellers and bloggers who take up the pen, phone, tablet and keyboard for the first time every day.

If they ask, obviously.

Well, I say that…
I have of course already “encouraged” my friend Lisa into making her gorgeous, poetic streams of consciousness available to the wider world via her blog and that was without any request from her whatsoever. I just can’t resist the opportunity to enthuse about things I’m, well, enthusiastic about. If you see what I mean.

But then if ever I am asked, by a reader of Diary of an Internet Nobody or a friend, for advice on writing or starting a blog, my first thought comes from the little voice in my head saying; “Why are they asking you, you don’t know what you’re doing either?”
Although that’s usually followed closely by second thoughts from the rowdy voices that sit at the back, scratching swear words into the desks and twanging rulers; “Finally, somebody has recognised genius when they see it!”

And can you guess which voices shout the loudest?

Despite the dubious over-confidence shown by my immodest internal editor, I am often amazed by the amount of advice I’m now able to give, (the huge volume of information we are exposed to these days and the amount we seem capable of absorbing by subconscious osmosis, appears to mean we can learn without even knowing we are being taught) and the memory of how exciting it was to set out on the Road to Blogville always leads to a vicarious thrill when any help I offer is taken up and I get to watch a brand new talent take to the ether.

And that’s just what I had the honour of witnessing last week, when a friend of Rhonda’s (one of many I’ve befriended on Facebook, given that almost everyone she knows is now on the wrong end of a transatlantic flight) told me she was thinking of setting up a blog.
In fact I think she may have just casually mentioned in passing that it was something she had been thinking of doing at some point….

Which was probably when I went into full-on, go-on-it’s-a-great-idea-you-should-definitely-do-it-straight-away mode and I spent the rest of the afternoon exchanging screen shots of web sites and settings pages, talking her through some of the WordPress features and widgets, whilst simultaneously trying to cover all the obvious details and not to sound too horribly patronising as I was doing it.

The result was that by the same evening, the blog I had watched being built before my eyes just a few hours previously had already garnered more hits that day than mine and was showing every chance (with its dual topics of gaming reviews and “mommy-blogging”) of being an instant success.
Add to this a natural, easy writing style and an obvious passion for the subject matter and I can confidently predict followers aplenty, blogging awards and worldwide readership just around the corner.

So please click the link below and welcome my (not very humble) recommendation for a blog to watch this year, ladies and gentlemen:

                  Haunted by the Beauty.

{Title toon by Ho©}

 
 

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Board games…

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So, once I’d got my foot in the door, my plan for world domination could commence, BWAHAHAHAHAHA!

Ok, a bit melodramatic but it is true to say that my normal plan of action on starting a new job is to try and render myself indispensable at the earliest possible opportunity.
Fortunately it seems as if the ability to use minimal deductive reasoning, relaxed communication skills, a little humour and moderate intelligence was enough (when combined with the magic clipboard) to convince managerial types that I was some kind of minor miracle worker and that I should be given all the cooperation I needed by some of the less forthcoming, more old-school staff – i.e. the ones who were not yet over the “Uh-oh, clipboard-asshole alert!” stage of our relationship.

Indeed, the department head to whom I report was already putting in the occasional quiet word that I should be given a bit of leeway in poking around areas of the factory that were controlled, like personal fiefdoms, by some of the longer-serving team leaders, wary of some stranger sticking his nose into their carefully organised work schedule.
Because my sole purpose was to prioritise parts that had got lost in the system somehow, thereby disrupting the well-oiled flow of work, I wasn’t always popular with those who had to drop everything in order to start a completely different job. But I did my best to get on good terms with the staff I most regularly had dealings with, especially the quality inspectors who had a lot of say over which marooned components returned to the manufacturing stream.

And slowly it began to pay off.

Then one day my manager came up to me and said; “You’ve got to be in the conference room at eleven o’clock”
Instantly suspicious, I replied; “This isn’t more bloody ethics training is it? I’ve done mine this year already.”
“Just be in the conference room at eleven,..” he paused, grinning, “I’ve put you in for employee of the week.”
This was too much;
“Oh you’ve GOT to be fucking kidding!”

I should explain that this “honour” was bestowed upon a few (?) of the 400 staff each week but, unlike Employee Of The Month, which carried with it the added bonus of £250 in cash, this was very much a token award.
Anyway, I sauntered down to the right room at the right time and peered through the window. I was pleased to see that there appeared to be some sort of high-level meeting going on and, assuming I’d missed my unwarranted photo-opportunity, returned to the office, pausing only to determine that, yes, indeed there was a management review meeting going on in there right now
But no sooner had I got back to my clipboard and computer than I was summoned over the p.a.system back to the bloody conference room.

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When I knocked and entered, I was immediately descended on (bad choice of words, he’s only five foot tall) by my department head, who to my dismay went straight into an enthusiastic summing up of my apparently near-mythical abilities to find oddly-shaped bits of metal in unlikely places and then, accompanied by a cringe-making spatter of applause from the assembled management big cheeses, proceeded to grasp my hand for the obligatory frozen rictus photo.
Even more painfully, the camera failed to function correctly and I was left holding hands for thirty increasingly uncomfortable seconds before the HR woman got her snap of me being presented with a cheap pen and I made good my escape.

But it all helps I suppose, there’s nothing wrong with playing the game, as long as you’re a good sport and are prepared to get fouled occasionally.
I’ve since applied for two “real” jobs in the same vein and I just hope I get one or other of those, before my fictional one really does cease to exist.

 
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Posted by on January 15, 2015 in Humour, Personal anecdote

 

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Chair, man and the board…

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It’s amazing what you can achieve with the aid of stationery.
No, not stationary, I don’t just mean standing still.

Since my inconveniently uncooperative extendable upper extremity has been reluctant to articulate, (the tendons in my arm are knackered) I’ve been put on euphemistically entitled “administrative duties” at work since October.
What this boils down to is that they aren’t really sure what to do with me. They can’t just shuffle me off to a different department, because there are currently no other suitable jobs I’m able to do with my injured limb, (almost any job is going to exacerbate the wear and tear sustained over many years of factory work) making me a bit of an awkward problem for the aerospace company I work for.

I was initially given a job as an “expeditor”, a position that had no actual job attached to it. This was just to be a temporary sideways move, a secondment from the department I have been with since I started working for them eight and a half years ago. However, I very much wanted it to be a permanent transfer, as I wasn’t prepared to progressively injure myself in the pursuit of my wages.

Now, I’m not a stupid bloke, I’m perfectly capable of learning new skills, but now that I’m nearly fifty (how the hell did that happen?) it has increasingly occurred to me that having a “career” might not be a bad idea, instead of a manufacturing “job” that only just pays the bills.
But is it too late to teach this aging dog new tricks?

They gave me a comfy swivel chair and a computer terminal in the engineering and “site support” office, miles of closely-printed spreadsheets and, with no further training whatsoever, sent me off in search of stuff nobody else had been able to find.

So, what does an expeditor actually do?
Well, for the sake of this explanation, an expeditor is someone (i.e. me) who uses barely-synchronised, largely incompatible computer databases, the expertise of more experienced engineers, planners and quality inspectors and any other form of corporate crib sheet they have available to them, to physically track down components that are holding up the assembly of a larger part, one which is already late for delivery, either to our external customers, (Boeing, Airbus, etc) or to one of the many smaller sub-contractors who carry out further processes prior to the component being fitted to the finished aircraft.

None of which sounds especially exciting.
And it’s not.

However, after having spent the first few days chasing around the huge factory site on the world’s least thrilling wild goose chase, looking for errant parts and their attendant reams of traceability paperwork, (every manufactured component in the aerospace world has insane quantities of accompanying records, tracing every last moment of its life) I’d realised that there was more to this job than meets the eye.

For a start, I now had a clipboard!
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Oh, I know what you’re thinking, you think I’m getting delusions of grandeur because I get to carry around a piece of plastic-covered hardboard with a bulldog clip on top of it.
But I carefully restrained myself from becoming “one of those assholes”, as they are so charmingly referred to by almost everyone who’s ever had to deal with any of the self-important, egotistical little megalomaniacs who instantly become mini-Hitlers when supplied with any form of business-related office accessory.
No, I determined early on that I would become the first of a unique breed; a Non-Offensive-Management-Mandated-Shop-Floor-Liaison-Man-of-the-People.

Which is a difficult thing to achieve when everyone automatically says; “Oh great, another asshole with a clipboard.” the first time you go near them.
Plus, of course, I had no idea what I was doing.

To say my training was minimal would be passing up an opportunity to use words like “non-existent” or “infinitesimal”, because as far as I could tell, they weren’t keen to train me for anything.
The HR manager, with whom I had to consult regularly, mumbled ominously about “contractual obligations” and the fact that I hadn’t been transferred, I was “just on temporary secondment” and shouldn’t assume I’d found a new job. Because, as he kept telling me, this job didn’t exist, they were magnanimously letting me do all the legwork and aimlessly search for all the stuff they had lost, purely out of the kindness of their hearts and sooner or later they would be expecting me to return to my “proper job”.

So I think he was slightly taken aback when I informed him flat out that I was not going back to doing any sort of activity that would re-inflame the injury in my arms and wrists. (I’d also done many other jobs, with similar tools and similar manual processes, for well over twenty years and I was “getting too old for this shit”, to quote Danny Glover in every Lethal Weapon movie)
I made it abundantly clear that I was a realist and appreciated that they couldn’t create a job out of thin air, but I was flexible, intelligent and willing to learn.

Surely they could find me something to do?
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Well who would have thought it, but after a few weeks of chasing hundreds of parts, paired with hundreds of pieces of paper, containing thousands of serial numbers, in dozens of locations all over the site, I actually began to enjoy my fictitious job.
When I started this new role, working in a different part of the factory complex, most of the staff, management included, didn’t know me from a hole in the ground, and because I am one of the minority who choose not to wear “corporate workwear” supplied by the company, I could turn up at meetings with my clipboard and casual attire and barely draw a puzzled glance from the real Planning and Logistics staff as they went about their bewildering business.

And the whole time I was absorbing all this technical and numeric gibberish, via some kind of mental osmosis, until one day I realised that I could actually understand what they were on about.

And I was interested too.
I hadn’t expected that.

I’m aware that this may not be the most riveting subject for a blog post, but I’ve got the blogging bug again and it is the Diary of an Internet Nobody after all, so I thought I’d update you on my life and get some writing practice in at the same time.
I’ll finish up next time when, against all reasonable expectation, I will win Employee of the Week.

No,..really.

 
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Posted by on January 12, 2015 in Blogging, Personal anecdote

 

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Thanks a million (well, 35,000 actually)…

Just a quick thank you, to all who have supported the blog for the last two and a half years or so; all 254 posts, (make that 255) 1822 comments, 388 followers and, as of today, 35,000 hits of it.
I’m still having great fun doing it and despite a recent dip in output, I hope to now continue with more regularity for the foreseeable future.

It’s good to be back at the keyboard.

Here’s the blog by numbers:

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Spread the word.

Thanks again,
dalecooper57.

 
11 Comments

Posted by on January 11, 2015 in aardvark, Blogging

 

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Picture this. A winter walk…

After the hailstorm we had last night, it was nice to see the watery winter sun trying to poke it’s feeble fingers through the clouds this morning. Perfect weather for a Sunday lunchtime walk.
I’ve joined various photography groups on Facebook in the last couple of weeks and, having plundered my gallery for introductory shots, I thought I’d better get some new material to post (but not before I post them here, obviously) so I took my trusty phone for a stroll along the riverbank and fields around Rock Park to see what I could see.

The lowering grey overcast was different from the usual backdrop of blue sky and fluffy clouds in my photos, giving the light an interesting tone which nicely evokes the season.

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One of the camera groups I’ve joined has bridges as a theme this week but despite the fact that one of my favourites, the old iron railway bridge is in the park, I thought I’d include pictures of the other two on this stretch of river for a change; the current rail bridge and the large concrete road bridge, both crossing the River Taw.

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Following the trails and footpaths around the park, through tunnels of trees and along the banks of the river, the bracing wind certainly blew away the Sunday cobwebs.

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I look forward to watching the countryside come back to life, it’s always fascinating to see what new images each season brings…

 
 

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