30th June

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We went to Ben’s schools Summer Fayre today and they had a throw wet sponges at the Headteacher thing going on – although I did feel sorry for the guy when one of the kids emptied the bucket over his head!! Among all of the usual charity stalls like the Roundtable, Samaritans etc I spotted one for the Medway food bank. I was talking to the guy who was on the stall and he told me theirs is one of FOUR foodbanks in the towns. I can’t help but feel very sad for this country when I hear things like that. I can almost hear some rich banker sitting in his multi- million pound mansion saying “well if they haven’t got any bread, Let them eat cake?”

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We took Ben to McDonalds and as we parked the car and walked to the restaurant we saw this car revesring round into the car park but he ended up on the pavement. Then instead of stopping he reversed into a silver car parked just inside the carpark. Even though he had hit the car he still continued to reverse scraping along the back of the silver car and eventually ripping his wing mirror off before ending up back on the road.

The driver of the silver car got out to remonstrate with the guy who’d hit him and to me it looked as if the response was “so what” . Then he put his car into reverse and rammed the red Merc that had come up behind him. He then got out of the car and everyone who commented said he looked really vacant and away with the fairies! It turned out that he worked in McDonalds and a lot of his colleagues then came out to comfort him!

The Police turned up about 10 minutes alter and were still there when we left. I’m sure they breathalysed him but maybe they should have checked him for drugs too. I gave my name to one of the people who’s car was hit and said I’d be happy to be a witness if they needed one. When we left he was still in the Police car but I don’t know what was happening. Even if he wasn’t under the influence it wasn’t any way to be driving in the carpark of a family restaurant where it was likely that there would be children, especially if you worked there! It also says a lot about the “so what” attitude of people regarding other people’s property which prevails around here.

Sarah and I went out for a meal in the evening and she had said she wanted to go somewhere we hadn’t been before. As she wasn’t very specific we headed out into the countryside to find a pub. The first one we found looked really nice but as we pulled into the carpark we noticed a lorry off loading equipment into a side door. We went to the restaurant but when we saw the fact that we would be eating our meal staring at the drummer arse we decided to go somewhere else.

We drove on and the next place we found was too expensive. The place just up the road was in the middle of a bingo game when we walked in and the landlady informed us that they would normally do food but she’d just returned off holiday and they weren’t that night. We headed back the way we came and the next pub we found had stopped serving food. Next door to it was a fish & chip restaurant but it seemed to be full of old dears! So we ended up driving back almost to home to a place we’ve been before and eating there – having said that though the place was virtually empty by the time we got there so it was quite quiet for once.

29th June

Home!

It was the final day of the conference followed by the de-rig and it couldn’t have been a worse day for manual work as it was steaming hot. I had been wearing shirt and trousers but after de-rigging the break out rooms I was so sticky I had to change into shorts and t-shirt and steel toecapped boots!)

We pulled down the main room and packed it away. We had some Hungarian hotel staff but they weren’t a lot of help! We’d managed to get it all packed up and pushed round to the lift when it was time to go. But first I had to change my t-shirt again! Before leaving I managed to down a whole 1.5 litre bottle of water to stave off dehydration (although it did mean going to the loo at a lot at the airport!!)

We got a cab to the airport and went to drop our bags – there was a massive queue and in the end the check in queue moved as fast, if not faster, than the bag drop one! We went through security, duty free and the bar before going to the gate. When we got there there was a queue so we retired to the bar for another drink. We finally started to board and shortly after we were all sat down with our seatbelts fastened the pilot announced a 50 minute delay.

We eventually landed at Heathrow at 9.35 instead of 8:40 and when we came to a standstill we were informed that there would be a further delay while we waited for a set of steps to arrive. After we got off the plane we caught a bus to the terminal where there was yet another 20 minute wait to go through passport control. I know it’s been a while since I’ve been abroad BUT the immigration controls have got very draconian in that time. I don’t think I’ve been to another country that puts it’s own citizens through such scrutiny to get back in!

After collecting my bags, cashing in my Hungarian money to pay for the carpark I was eventually back on the road to home – 2 hours later than expected. Then of course there were the inevitable delays on the M25 – It’s good to be back!

28th June

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When I was looking into places to go in Budapest (on the off chance I might get some time off!) the Budapest jazz Club caught my eye. As luck would have it the two things that sounded good were on the two nights that I thought we would finish early enough to let me go. I wasn’t sure if I would go both nights and of the two I was attracted by tonights program information……or rather lack of it. I decided that if I could only go one night then I’d go tonight.

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In the end I did make it both nights and I’m glad that I went last night because Marton Fenyvesi was very good, full of energy and a creative style of guitar playing which the two videos I’d seen on youtube didn’t do justice to. So tonight after another 12 hour day I made my way down to the jazz club again to see what was billed simply as Jazzmozdony 9. The little I managed to find out in advance was it was a series of concerts at different venues of groups made up of a mix of Hungarian and Romanian musicians. The program I picked up yesterday added the information (translated by Google) that the band consisted of drums, double bass, piano and a singer.

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Tonight I grabbed a seat nearer the front than I did last night and near one of the open windows as it was another very hot day. The music was much more laid back than last nights manic guitar meanderings but the bass player was really good (actually they all were). The singer Gabriela Costa (who I presume was Romanian) introduced the songs and what she said was translated into Hungarian by a guy in the audience with a microphone. They played two sets and for the second night the show ended rather abruptly!

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I left about 11:30 and walked back to the hotel stopping on the way at one of the many Turkish kebab shops that seem to be almost on every street corner. I’d passed a few everyday and decided I couldn’t go home without giving one a try. I’m glad I did as it was very tasty and as you could probably guess much better than the ones you get at home!!

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Footnote: I had just finished typing this with my headphones on, listening to a recording I made of tonights show*, when I saw something out of the corner of my eye through the mirror moving behind me. I turned round and there wasn’t anything there but I suddenly had a shiver run down my spine!!!!!

* still kicking myself that I didn’t record last night as well!!

26th June

Google keeps coming up in Hungarian even though I’m logged in and it shows my background image – then it asks me if I’d like to translate it into English!!! (You might need to click this image to see the bigger version!)

25th June

What a start to the week! Had to catch a flight from Heathrow at 9:45 so I left home at 5:45o. Thiis left me 2 hours to get petrol and drive the 75 miles, mostly round the M25. That of course was where the problem lay….it started at junction 4 where there had been an accident and the traffic ground to a halt while the cars involved were pushed onto the hard shoulder. Then from there to two junctions before the airport turn off it was stop/start all the way.

Time ticked on and although I knew I still had two hours before take off the passing of the 7:45 barrier started to cause me concern. Then suddenly about 10 miles from the airport the road widens to 5 lanes and it finally started to move. I eventually got to the car park at about 8:20 and tried to tell myself not to panic and leave something behind.

I got on the shuttle bus and as I bent down to put my suitcase in the storage area I banged my head which didn’t help my mood at all. The bus from the carpark seemed to take forever! It’s of course typical that it would most likely be flinging itself round corners but because I was late it drove sedately towards the terminals. Annoyingly it went to T1 first where even more annoyingly only 1 person got off. Finally it arrived at T3.

Luckily there wasn’t a queue at the check in and after an urgent visit to the loo I was on my way to security. Again there wasn’t a queue and I volunteered the information that I was wearing steel toecapped boots so I had to take them off. (I’d made sure the socks I put on this morning were free of holes for this very reason! I’d also forgone a belt as well!). By the time I’d put my boots back on the signs were saying boarding so I headed to the gate. Typically I then had to wait for about 30 minutes before we were herded onto a bus and driven out to the plane where we sat for another 40 minutes or so before finally setting off for Budapest.

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By the time we were air bourne I was starting to feel hungry so was glad when the  stewards came round with the trolley. They seemed to be handing out sandwiches which would be ok I thought but when I was handed mine I discovered that the packet also contained a orange juice and as such the sandwich was a fraction of the size I’d assumed. In fact it could only really be described as “fun size”. It really wasn’t worth handing them out – at least easyjet are honest and don’t try and pretend you get food included. The service on BA has really slipped as the prices have gone up – definitely no longer my favourite airline!

On arrival at Budapest we had to wait ages for our bags – considering it had only been a short walk from the plane to baggage hall we couldn’t imagine why it took them so long to get the bags out. Then we had to find our lift into town which turned out to be in a reasonable minibus which dropped us at the hotel. We went to check in to our 5 Star accommodation only to be met with some quite nasty resistance. They would not let us into our rooms unless we let them have a swipe of a credit card. Well I don’t have a credit card so that was tricky, I wasn’t about to hand over my debit card as they would take a swipe which would mean that the direct debit that is due on Thursday (the day before payday) would bounce and it would cost me £25. So they demanded cash – at first they asked for 60,000 forint which is just short of £200. It was also all the money I had on me. They eventually settled for 20,000 which is still almost £60 – which I won’t spend in their poxy hotel on principle!!

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After we checked in we had to walk down to the venue in the pouring rain – luckily we managed to get some umbrellas from the hotel which mostly kept us dry. We set about doing what we needed to do and eventually had something to eat – it was wiener schnitzel and it was very nice but to be honest not what you’d expect from a 5 star hotel. We eventually finished about 9pm and I walked back to the hotel with one of the other crew guys. About half way there we passed a bar and as we did we heard someone shouting our names….

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It was a beautiful evening by now and we sat outside a bar with the rest of the crew. The beer was cheap – about 390 forint a pint (£1.20) and they did a dark beer too. It was nice to relax and watch the world go by over a beer or three!

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24th June

Sarah has just been up to inspect her eldest daughter’s bedroom. You can just about see the floor for dirty clothes – expect fireworks later!

Apparently it would appear that the French students find the fact that we call flip-flops flip-flops almost was funny as we find the fact that the Australians call them thongs!!

Un-funny idea of the week – The Guardian e-mailed people to say they were streaming all of Glastonbury 2012 live and then put up this picture….

Oh boys, you’re too funny!!

So the football……if I’d made a prediction before the start of the tournament it would be that we would out go on penalties in the quarter finals and tonight my prediction would have come true. In a game that neither team looked like winning England were outplayed by an Italian team who seem to have worse problems than England when it comes to putting the ball in the back of the net. They made and squandered so many chances but they had the better game. At the end of the day had England won either during normal play or on penalties I’d have been have been happy – no matter how badly they’d played. To be honest though I couldn’t see either side troubling the Germans on Thursday!!