Unpredictability - Good for your health

Our modern life is based on organising an environment free from the unexpected. The house needs to be as stable and reliable as possible. The job as safe as possible. Nothing should break down. Nothing but what we predict, should occur.
This is the life of the zoo animal. Let's explore the life of the Nomad. Let's live the life of the Nomad.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

A new job - and in my van again

Last night I drive the van to a campsite in Chichester - about an hour's drive.  The site is very busy due to it being the period of school holidays at the moment.  It is however, still very quiet and peaceful.  My van, being twenty years old, is definitely the oldest van on site.  Either side there are expensive mobile homes, but I don't care - I am happy to be here, with everything I need to feel relaxed and comfortable.  Also, the Ford Transit Mark 3 is a class act, in my humble opinion.

I do not have a shower in my van, so it's important that the site's showers are clean and give out plenty of warm water.  Here they are so nice I could spend an hour under the spray.  I have the shower in the evening rather than the morning as this is always been a preference for me.

I wake up this morning at 5.00 am as I usually do, then quickly fell asleep again to be woken up at 7.00 by the alarm on my phone.  During the night I had to turn the heater off as it was simply too warm.  But there was a definite nip to the air in the van.  I switch the heater on and heat water for coffee in the microwave.  Ahh, that first coffee in the morning is heavenly.

I get ready and walk around to the nearest station - a ten minute walk at most, and get on the 8.13 train to my destination in Havant.  It only takes 9 minutes to reach my destination station.  The office is a fifteen minute walk and I enter the building, get my pass and begin my first day.

The atmosphere is so relaxing.  My previous job, playing the role of the consultant, was always a bit on the hectic side as there was always the imperative to get the job done in a short period of time.  I seem to get on well with the other guys.  They are mostly dressed in jeans and t-shirts, while I still wear the trouser and shirt, though without the tie.  Maybe next week I will turn up in jeans - wow that sure is laid back.

I finish at 4.00 pm and get the train home.  I microwave a chicken curry and make a decaf coffee.  The radio is on and the life is good..  That was my day and I enjoyed it to be sure.  How was your day?

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Last day at work

Busy.  So so so busy.  I fly back last Wednesday, arrive home Thursday afternoon and sleep all day.  I travel into the office in London on Friday for my last day of work.  After spending almost seven years working for a company the last day can be emotional.
There was a good amount of admin type work to get through, timesheets, expenses etc.  My workmates got me a Hayes caravan maintenance and servicing manual - which is great and very touching that they thought to do this.  I have a chat with the CEO - a man of great intelligence and a great business head.  He lets me know that I am welcome back anytime in the future.  That fills me with some pride, knowing I have done a decent enough job.
I hand in my laptop and phone, say goodbye to a few more people and walk out of the door.

FREE to start a new life.

I take the circle line to Victoria.  Coming off the train, and heading up and through the turnstiles I am greeted by the sight of a mass of people queueing to get down into the underground system and make their way home.  My first reaction is to reach for my phone and take a photo, but realise I have handed the phone in. What bravery of these people to endure this day after day after day.  Why do they do it?  Probably a whole range of reasons and I am sure many enjoy it, though it's hard to believe since the faces look miserable.

On Tuesday I start my new contract.  Three months in one place and this is sweet indeed.  After this I will book the caravan servicing course.

There is indeed a lightness in my spirit and that great feeling one has when the past is laid to rest and a fresh new world awaits.

I wish everyone a great weekend.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Sunday in Connecticut

I awoke on Sunday fairly early and had breakfast and headed off to Bradley Airport.  There is an aviation museum there I wanted to see.  For some reason I thought it opened at 9.00 am, but in fact opening time was 10.00 am.


The car park was empty so I made good use of the icy conditions by spinning the car around a few times and generally doing things you are not supposed to do when you are a middle aged man that should know better.  After this I drove to the local Walmart and purchased six spare fuel filters for my van along with a multimeter and petrol cap all for only 42 dollars (26 pounds).  Apart from being so cheap what really surprised me was being able to purchase such items at what is, in essence, the equivalent of Asda in the UK.

Anyway, by the time my shopping spree had ended it was after 10.00 am so I headed back to the museum and paid my entrance fee.  The girl serving wanted my zip code, which sort of made me giggle and I guess it's not often she has to enter a UK post code in the computer.

The first exhibit that caught my eye was a Norden bomb site used during WW2 and I possibly in the Korean war as well.

Although the information card next to this proclaimed it to be a highly accurate bombing device, I read later on the internet that in fact the British tried it and concluded it was next to useless.
Here are a few more exhibits that caught my eye.

A beautiful F-86F Sabre

A Grumman F-14B Tomcat

A Kaman HH-43F Huskie.  I have never seen one of these two rotor helicopters before.  This eliminates the need for a tail rotor.

And here is a beautiful DC3 - the commercial aircraft that bought flying to the general population

I spent a good couple of hours in this great museum.  Heading home I couldn't help thinking about how remarkable us human beings are, to be able to design and build such amazing aircraft.  Unfortunately such contemplation resulted in a lack of concentration and I found myself driving on the left side of the road - normal in the UK but highly dangerous in the US.  After this I pulled into the nearest dunkin store for a coffee and rest.

Already I am getting homesick.  On Thursday morning I will be on English soil again, and this is something I really am looking forward to.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Saturday in Connecticut

The guys where I am working suggested I drive to the town of Essex in the Middlesex county (with names like this you can see why this is called New England).  They assured me that I would see several types of Eagle.  It's also one of the few American towns invaded by a foreign power - Britain as a matter of fact.  The drive took me about an hour and the general impression was one of whiteness and coldness.  I stayed mostly in the nicely heated car and simply drove around taking in the scenery.  I guess it was too cold for the eagles since I didn't see any.

This pic gives you an idea - it's a lake frozen over.

On a Saturday in England, at least where I live, driving on a Saturday is hectic with the volume of traffic.  Doesn't seem to matter when you drive here in Connecticut, the roads are always fairly light on traffic.  Driving, in other words, is a real pleasure - as long as you do not mind driving on the wrong side of the road.

Getting back to the hotel I watched a bit of television, which is a novelty to me since I don't own one at home.  American TV is what it is, and doesn't do much for me to be honest so I decided to drive to the nearest Barnes and Noble book store - 9 miles away.  I love these book stores.

They are massive.  Once you have found your books you can sit down in the Starbucks located in the store itself, and have a coffee and read.  A great way to spend a bit of the late afternoon.

Some people have asked me about American food.  I can say that anyone who loves food, as I certainly do, will just love the good old US of A.  Food is everywhere.  I fail to see how anyone can go hungry here.  And it's cheap as well.  My hotel is next to a Dunkin store - they specialise in donuts, but having tried their coffee I've since become addicted.  Also I love the Fritos mild cheddar cheese sauce you can get here.  It's so addictive I find myself dipping a finger in during the night for a quick fix.  Here is a pic of my favorite US foods discovered so far.

The Hershey's chocolate beats any Swiss chocolate I've tasted.  The Slim Jim Beef 'n Cheese is a great calorie topper.  The Pringles are not specifically American I guess, but taste superb with the Fritos sauce. 

Right, time for Fritos cheddar fix.  

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

A few days already in Connecticut

It's my third day in Connecticut and I am just beginning to shrug off the jetlag.  Yesterday at work was quite a struggle towards late afternoon as the troubleshooting part of my brain fell asleep and I resorted to entertaining the client with tales of life in good old blighty, rather than waste time on the complex technical stuff.

Today was alot better however, and I feel confident my last project for my employer will go well.

Now Connecticut is experiencing record snow fall, and what is surprising is that the roads are always clear of the stuff.  Infact, schools are not closed down because parents cannot drive the kids to school, but because the roof may be in danger of collapse due to snow build up.  Here is a pic from my hotel room.

Now anyone who has read my previous posts will understand that I am no friend of hotels, but this hotel I am in is very good indeed.  It is much cheaper than your average English hotel room, and it does infact consist of two rooms, each with a very widescreen TV.   The first room has a little kitchen area with a large refridgerater, hobs, microwave and even a dishwasher.

And the second room is just as spacious. 

What is also unusual is that they offer a free dinner each evening - which is good food and as much as you can eat.  It really does seem unusual that the hotel does not actually want you to fork out any more cash for extras.  It really is fantastic value, although ofcourse I do not pay for this as it goes to the client as an expense.

Monday, 7 February 2011

30000 ft in the Air

Today started early.  Up at 5.00 am to get dressed and get a taxi to Hove station for the 5.57 am train into London Victoria.  Then it was on the underground Circle and District line to London Paddington station, where I jumped on the Heathrow Express line to Terminal 5.  Timewise you are supposed to be at the airport two hours before take-off.  Time for my British Airways flight to Boston was 11.00 am and I had calculated at being at the airport at 8.30 am, giving me a bit of a buffer in case of delays.  In actual fact I arrived at 8.00 am.  Noticable to me, especially on the underground railway, was the look of misery on people's faces as they faced up to another week of London commuting and working.  Why do people do this year after year?  Anyway that is another subject.
This is Heathrow's new terminal and I was very impressed.  Here is a pic before going through the security.

And here is a pic once you have passed security.

I have never seen an Airport terminal with so many shops.

So the plane is a Boeing 777, and this is the largest twin jet ever built with engines having the largest turbofan diameter of any commercial jet engine.

Look at the size of that engine.

So I boarded the plane along with everybody else and sat down in my seat in the Traveller Plus class.  This is one class up from economy and the seats are a bit wider.  Take-off was smooth and without event and ofcourse that is exactly what you want when you are trusting your life to metal and plastic.  After about an hour into the flight they bring us lunch - chicken and mash or roast beef. I love mashed potatoe so went for the chicken.  It was a delicious meal I must say - and eaten with plastic knife, fork and spoon.  I guessed this was due to terrorism restrictions, in the same way drinks are served in plastic cups.  However, having spied through the curtain that separates traveller plus from business class, I noticed they indeed had real metal cutlery.  I guess terrorists don't travel business class.

I read a bit of my book - No Way Down, Life and Death on K2 which seems interesting.  Probably not a good idea to read disaster books while flying.  Anyway I got bored with this so flicked up my little onboard entertainment monitor to my left and played a Space Invaders type game. I soon got bored with that so decided to write this blog post.  So this is the first blog I have written in the air.  Of course I cannot post it just yet.  Here is a pic looking over to my left.

Usually I dread these sort of days of travelling hour after hour, but today has actually been enjoyable.  I think this is due to the fact that I know it will reflect probably my last international trip as a Global IT consultant.  Also since it is well over two months now without a cigarette, I am not suffering the stress normally associated with not being able to get that nicotine fix when on trains, planes and transit terminals.  I didn't notice a smoking area at the Heathrow terminal.  I do think all this anti-smoking legislation is a little cruel on the smokers.  If you have a closed of ventilated area for smokers, like they do at the Geneva airport, what harm does it do anyone except the smokers themselves?  Also, it's hypocritcal of the airport to sell duty free tobacco, but with no place to smoke it.
Anyway, after a three hour drive I have arrived at the hotel and placed this blog entry.  It's midnight English time and 7.00 pm Connecticut time.  I'm tired and will get some sleep.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Breaking the chains

Well it sure has been a busy couple of weeks.  I handed in notice on the job on the Monday and by the Wednesday had found a nice little three month contract.  This gave me peace of mind and the money I earn will be of great assistance.  I handed in notice to the Landlord and will be free from this horrible apartment flat on March 23.

This date will be an important one for me.  To be free.  How great to to be free to roam and sleep wherever I choose to switch the engine off.

I have had various reactions to these latest developments.  Some think I am crazy and some think this is great.  All I can say is it makes alot of sense to me.  Some at work found it comical to be changing careers, to become a caravan engineer.  The concept makes them laugh.  And they can laugh all they like.  To be a company man all your life - is this not a compromise?  Some have put it down to a mid-life crisis.  All I can say is that it is what it is.   For three months I will be working in one place.  I will be able to plan my life for three months.  After this I will do the mobile caravan engineer's course.  I will be able to save a great deal of money also.

Well, I still had to work four weeks notice at my present employer.  And this Monday they send me off to the States.  I fly out from Heathrow to Boston.  I pick a car up and drive to a place called Bristol.

I will take some pics to give you an idea.  I just hope I don't get stuck out there as I have heard they are expecting snow storms.