I thought I'd start off this week with a service announcement. If you are a Virgin Media customer, you may have had difficulty getting in to Weekend Rails for the last month or so. A while ago somebody tried to hack in to Weekend Rails from a VM account, and the security software banned their IP address. But as Virgin Media uses a generic IP address, it effectively banned all of VM from access.
For those bemused at my recent reports of mileages accrued in the course of trying to earn a crust, this week has only clocked up 750. Quite relaxing in many ways, and hopefully slightly fewer in prospect this week (though events might dictate otherwise). At one time, or rather, in the early days of the Geoffrey Briddon Building concept, I saw myself commuting the seven-eights of a mile, there to potter on with some clean and tidy project – perhaps wiring up a loco here, programming a PLC there – with a return to the Briddon Country Pile for a leisurely lunch. But it doesn't seem to be working out like that. And if you're thinking how nice it would be to be self-employed, your own boss, out of the rat race, etc., etc. Dream on. You're at the beck and call of all your customers, you can't pass the buck to anyone else and you spend an extortionate amount of time in administrative work, worrying about when certain big companies will get around to paying you and when someone asks you 'where you're going on holiday to this year?' you are tempted to punch them on the nose – well I am.
Sunday again. I've driven over 1000 miles this week and I'm beginning to feel it. It's an age thing, obviously. Back in the '90s, I once did 800 miles in 24 hours, starting in Germany in the morning, back home through the Channel Tunnel, pick up my tools and bits for one of my fitters in Warwickshire, meet fitter just off the M6, carry on up to Sellafield, fix a loco, leave site only to decide it was too late to start looking for a hotel so drive back home to Sheffield (Briddon Towers as was), arriving as the sun rose and ending up in the office at around 10.00. But you do that sort of thing when you're young and (insert your own adjective). Nowadays it's - have I really got to drive all that way?
So here we are going into the second half of the year. After the drama of the last few weeks this edition should be rather quiet by comparison. On the good news side, the transfer of Andrew's site from one server to another was completed with only a few minor snags, and the site was back up on line before the weekend. It is this site's turn this week, so it will disappear temporarily on Tuesday and reappear around Friday. If you are one of my regular mid week readers, you either have remembered my warning last week, or this was why you couldn't find it!
There are some weeks when I sit down and wonder what I am going to say, and other weeks when I wonder what to leave out! This week is one of the second category.
I was tempted to start with 'Did anyone miss me?' but given the number of e-mails and text messages I've had, mostly worried that the tardiness of last week's edition was indicative that something untoward had occurred to me, I know that many did.
We used to say that the last weekend of the month was when everything went wrong, but for some time now the last weekends of the months appeared to pass by without anything untoward occurring. Of course, it couldn't last, could it?
I'll start off with an apology to anyone and everyone who was unable to get on to Weekend Rails (or for that matter www.andrewbriddonlocos.co.uk and www.petebriddon.co.uk) on Wednesday afternoon and evening. At about 2pm the servers where our websites are held had to be shutdown unexpectedly and were off for several hours while checks were made and the systems re-booted. By mid evening one or two of the websites were up and by the early hours of Thursday all was back to normal.
I am writing this having just returned from Christmas spent at our daughter's house in Darlington, and as we went there on Christmas Eve, there has in truth been not all that much put in to the collection during the week.
If you notice, I try to start off each week's piece with something sightly philosophical, a perceptive observation or maybe an insightful commentary on something topical. And guess what? I can't think of anything that fits into any of those categories this week. Ah well.