Categories
America Olympic National Park 2022 Travel

Climb Ev’ry Mountain*

I don’t want to question the artistic license used for the classic film the Sound of Music, but I do start to wonder what on this earth they feed the Nuns at that monastery if they think they can climb ‘Ev’ry Mountain’

Today, I climbed a mountain. *insert nun jokes about not making it a habit etc. here*..

Let me tell you, I’m not ready to climb another any time soon.

Whilst talking to some folk in the rain forest yesterday, I got the suggestion to do the Storm King Trail. Turns out “Storm King” is actually a mountain… and it’s Far-King Steep!

The day started with a leisurely drive down to lake crescent where I spritely hopped out the car, kitted out with the layers and rain protection and headed off down the paved track, under highway 101 toward Storm King.

About half a mile down the track, there is a sign for Storm King. At first, I thought it was a mistake. It pointed to some stumps and a muddy “path” that ran up the side of the hill.

It was no mistake.

The path was narrow, and steeeeep and relentless… but I appear to like a challenge so off I trolled up the mountain.

A steep and windy start…

The path wound round the edge of the foot of the forest. You could see the trees that had fallen and become nursery logs, giving life to other trees…

Nursery logs are fallen trees that become the root home for new trees – the rainforest floor is too dense to root straight in!

The path continued to be steep and was filled with switchback on switchback on switchback. Sometimes it was actually hard to tell where the path was going as it was so steep and unpredictable.

Eventually you noticed you were starting to reach the top of some of the trees…. some.

The top of some of the trees…

The sense of excitement was soon gone, when you realised you were simply at the foot of the next trees just further up the mountain!

More Trees…

More trees meant more switchbacks and more steep climbing.

One of the many steep switchbacks.

During one of the many breaks I took, I had the time to reflect on the happy, spunky liveliness my deer American counterparts. I’m stood there standing sweating like I was shaking hands with the sun, a hot mess barely able to breathe… while someone passes, uphill and manages to barely get out a wheeze but a happy wheeze of “Hey, How you doing?!!”. Same as you pal… same as you.

Eventually the ascent paid off, and we were given the most amazing view of Lake Crescent.

It’s so pretty!
Plandid or candid?

From the viewpoint, there is the option to go further. On the Non-Maintained trail… because I’d suffered so far, I decided I had to summit this damn thing.

I was in two minds, but looked at the folk up ahead and the folk coming down and decided if they could do it (pretty sure they were bus pass eligible) then so could I.

The path turned into rocks…

Rocky path…

And sometimes the rocks came with ropes…

Is this going uphill or downhill? 🙂

And other times there were no ropes and no paths.. and it was a bit of a scramble.

Errrrm what?

And then eventually I reached the peak… Worried how the view was going to be after all that work because we were in the clouds by now…

The last little bit to the very top of the summit…

At first, it was hazy…

Something down there? I’m literally in the cloud…

So we focussed on some wildlife shots:

Not sure what sorta bird this is…
Spot Alvin and/or his friends.

Eventually, having stood round for a little while, eaten some lunch, and patiently waited, watching the clouds ascend from the lake to the sky. (Literally I watched clouds grow…)…

The view cleared!

TaDaaaaa!
It also cleared enough for much clearer lake views.
You could see over the clouds out to the strait of Juan de Fuca!

Grand as the views were, we all know the old saying… what goes up… must come down… and as I started to descend, the clouds did too… gentle rain to cool you down.

Let me tell you, the burn going downhill is just as bad as the burn going uphill!

Eventually, I made it back to the trailhead path, and decided… I’d walked so far, I’d take the short stroll to the Marymere Falls… I’m glad I did!

Pretty impressive!
Got a bit arty.

From Storm King, I decided to race on down to Rialto Beach (about an hour’s drive) to try and see the stacks and, to take the stroll along the beach up to the Hole in the Wall.

Sadly, on arrival, not only was it high tide… but the heavens decided to drop a storm.

The huge waves, flat stones and and uprooted trees were super cool, but I was soaked through from about 15 mins of being outside!

Crazy uprooted trees…
Crazy Waves!
I did an artsy flat stone thing.

From Rialto, I headed back to Port Angeles, where I had the most delicious pizza!

Tomorrow is the last day before a week of work in Seattle.. I’m not quite sure yet where I’m going stop on the way back to the city, but I do know the first stop for me right now, before bed is the whirlpool to undo some of the aches of the day!

Categories
Olympic National Park 2022 Travel

Ignore the advice of TLC

Now, I’m not saying to ignore all of the advice that T-Boz and Left-Eye once gave out. (Yes I had to google them)… Not giving out your number to random people is probably for the best, even when sitting on the passenger side of your best friend’s ride… but I digress.

Specifically, don’t listen to Tionne and Lisa when it comes to chasing waterfalls.

This morning, I started the day with a cinamon waffle and maple syrup, before jumping in the car and heading to Sol Duc falls.

I had to pass Lake Crescent again, which naturally meant more photos…

More Lake Crescent!

To get to Sol Duc Falls, you have to drive for about 20 miles from the main road, deep into the National Park, passing lots of great views of the downstream river, and a supposed Salmon Cascade.

From the car park, its about another 0.8 miles stroll to the falls, so off I set to find them.

I left all three behind as I set off down the narrow rocky path….

The Sol Duc falls are hidden way in the forest. Not just any forest but a rainforest. (yup, they have them here!)

Some crazy tree growth!

The falls themselves were spectacular and worth the stroll. The power of them and the spray was pretty intense and it was great to be up so close to them.

Go on… Chase them!
rosperous Jacket the 2nd Makes it’s US debut.

From Sol Duc, I hopped back in the car and headed round to the Hoh Rainforest. I stopped on the way in Forks. (Twilight fans, this apparently will mean something to you?) While in Forks, I stopped for “Gas” and while paying was told that the way I talk was “Enchanting”. (eeeek.)

From Forks, I headed down to the Hoh Rainforest… a temperate rainforest here in the Olympics… Again with a long drive in containing some spectacular views.

Just off the side of the road!

In the rainforest, there were two short trails, meandering through trees and stumps showing all the mossy lined trees that grow in such a damp climate.

Mossy things
Funky Trees
Crazy Stump! Those are tree roots growing from a stump! The ground is too dense to the trees take to the old trees that have fallen down!

About halfway round the first trail, we met the river.. where I took some shots of this bird who was looking for prey!

I am bird…
I does flying…

The second trail was the “Hall of Moss” and wow did we see some mossy things!

Much Moss… In creative form
Mossy Arch
Mossy tree
Me on a mossy log!
General Moss.
Some AMAZING roots!

From Hoh Rainforest, I headed back towards forks, stopping off in this…. ‘curiously’ named park. (I had to rub my eyes and double check…)

You’d rename it, wouldn’t you?!

From ‘The park’ I headed back to my base… passing the lake again and finding yet another reason to take a photo.

You can just about see the glimmer of the rainbow as it disappeared!

From the lake I popped into Safeway… It was like a time warp! Where I got some more bread rolls for lunch… before ending up in the Golden Arches to get some late food (everything shuts so early here?!).

The car decided not to start in Maccies and I had to call for recovery… thankfully after about 20 mins I thought I’d give it another go and the car worked! I shall be keeping a close eye tomorrow.

…And with that I’m shattered, it’s time for bed!

Categories
Olympic National Park 2022 Travel

Taking part in the Olympics

No, Not the Olympic Games… Don’t be ridiculous!

Greetings reader… Welcome back to those who have trodden this corner of the internet before, and welcome to those of you who are new here. (We don’t take ourselves too seriously! When I travel to new places and go out doing fun things, I sometimes write about them…)

So, I’ve ended up back on the West Coast of the USA. Next week I have a bunch of meetings in Seattle, and I thought I’d take the opportunity thanks to Queenie having her Jubilee to escape the UK a few days early and come and visit the Olympic National Park, Washington State!

The flight out was pretty fine all things said and done… Excellent taxi service, I managed to avoid check in queues at Heathrow… a slight queue for security… and then after a 20 min delay, straight on the plane!

I got an exit row and not only did I manage to stretch my legs a little, I managed to get a bit of sleep! (only a couple of hours but anything helps when you have a 10 hour flight with an 8 hour time difference)

Flight complete, We got to walk over the new airbridge at SEA-TAC and I have to say it was pretty cool to watch a plane roll on underneath us (even if the escalators and travellator are super slow!)

This plane had just rolled under us!

After a long wait for bags, and a quick whisk through the border (Thanks Global Entry!) I was off to pick up my car…

From the car pickup, I headed to get some kosher bits from a supermarket and then headed to the Edmonds-Kingston Ferry!

I’m on a boat moth… oh nevermind.

From Kingston (No, Not Kingston in South London) I took the ~90 min drive to Sequim (apparently pronounced “Skwim”) on the Border of the Olympic National Park.

I popped to Walmart to pick up some things I forgot when shopping earlier… I tried as hard as I could to keep awake but eventually the tiredness got to me and I headed to bed.

This morning, I decided to head out to Hurricane Ridge…. WOW What a view.

Just driving through the park to the visitor centre was incredible, and I had to stop the car a number of times to take photos…

On the way up…
Visitor Center View
I’m still not sure what animal this is…

From the Visitor Center I thought I’d take the short stroll (about a mile) down to the far car park (the road was shut to cars). The view on the Car Park Road was good, and at the end of the roadway, I decided to take the 1.6 mile path up Hurricane Hill.

I was not expecting a 2 hour battle with rocks and snow, but it was 100% worth it! You could see for miles, were about the clouds and it was SO quiet!

Selfie at the top!

For a 360 View from the top, click here!

Thankfully, I made some pals on the way and we helped each other thorough the snow and mud!

Yes… parts of the path there are basically non-existent!

Having taken in the amazing views up in the mountains, and following the return hike. (It felt much quicker to get to the road, and much longer to walk up the road!) I decided to go and visit Lake Crescent… named cos… yup it’s a crescent.

Lake Crescent was super cool – again, I stopped a load of times to take photos… and thanks to me being a fairly foolish tourist, I followed my Sat Nav… ended up driving multiple miles down a single track gravel road (unideal) and had to do a pretty hairy turn around.

Lake in one direction
Lake in the other direction
Filthy car.

Artsy sphere…

As well as redecorating my car, I did get some pretty good views too!

From Lake Crescent, I headed back toward Port Angeles, stopping off at the Elwha River. I had a wander along the wide river bed…

Real Funky River Bed Vibes

Before walking the incredibly short Maddison Falls trail to see the Maddison falls!

I know you’re not supposed to go chasing waterfalls, but I can’t help it!

From Elwha, I headed to Port Angeles and had dinner in “Gastropub”… Not quite what we call a Gastropub at home but the food was tasty enough.

From Gastropub I headed home, had a 20 min dip in the Whirlpool to loosen up the muscles, and then battled with the SD card from my camera which appears to have corrupted itself losing all my photos. (Recovery attempts underway!) These photos are all from my phone… I hope I can recover the ones from the camera. 😬

Haven’t quite decided where to head tomorrow… think I might go and see the rainforest!

Night!

Categories
Uncategorized

It hits differently here.

Its more personal.

When terror wrecks havoc here and I’m at home it hurts. It angers and it pains. But when 3 hours after I land in Israel, a gunman opens fire on civilians in the street killing another 5 just for being Jewish, it hits differently.

It hits differentl as I look down from my hotel room over Dizengoff Square, some the heart of Tel Aviv. It’s art deco buildings from the 1930s bustling with people, living life. it could have been them tonight.

It hits differently as I look out across the Tel Aviv Skyline. The sky scrapers and buildings that change and increase every time I visit. Just a year ago, under a barrage of rockets with the same intent, to kill.

It hits differently to the abuse I have received in the past. The threats, the casual racism, the school bus being stoned, being beaten up on the way home.

It hits differently yet the root is the same. Antisemitism is anti-Semitism, be it with words, with rockets or with a gun.

It hits differently when you’d had such a positive start to your trip. When you were astounded by the mix of folk working in the COVID testing centre. From the Kippah wearing man on the door, to the Black lady directing the traffic and to the Muslim lady in a hijab who took my test. My arrival was a reminder of the somewhat normal. Coexistence. The Peace we should have.

It hits differently when you’re given such a stark and harsh reminder that you’re an indiscriminate target.

It hits differently when you’re in your hotel room, sad, anxious, worried, and you know really close by, people are celebrating tonight. Celebrating murders. Celebrating death.

It hits differently when you’re here. A 74 year old ‘safe’ haven. A haven for the Jews, to ensure we can be safe.

It hits differently because this land is a reminder. A remember that Am Yisrael Chai.

The children of Israel Live.

Categories
Uncategorized

I’m still not sure if “growing up” sucks…

… damn, I’ve been considered an adult for a while now. But ask me what I thought of being “a grown up”, I’d have probably laughed a bit and shrugged it off with a sort of “mmn but I’m not really a grown up” sort of response… 

Except I guess, it all caught up with me tonight… as I packed the last of my essential things into the car and thought about leaving the house to go… home…

You see, as much as I tried to ignore the fact, I’ve been a grown up for a while; I have a scary job, a far too big car, I somehow now love olives and I’m starting to enjoy wine… and for a couple of weeks, as much as I’ve tried to ignore it… I’ve own a flat. (Well, I and my dear friends at Nationwide building society…!) 

I say I have tried to ignore it… it’s part in turn thanks to waiting for internet to be installed so that I can work from home… which in turn was a great excuse not to move all my things in and just commute the mile home to work. 

As I was packing up my things… the bits and pieces not already moved that I probably need to move, I started to feel myself getting anxious. It was clear I was anxious because on going downstairs to load up the car, Mum asked me if I was okay way above the threshold of her usual “are you ok?” SLA. 

I don’t do anxious often… I never used to do anxious at all. But a couple of years ago, thanks to some medication, I found myself having a minor panic attack as the DLR pulled into Westferry Station on the way to work. Strangely I remember the moment so clearly… everything was a “What if”… the world was spinning a little… I wasn’t really sure what was going on. 

Thankfully, getting off the train and walking onto the Wharf was enough to calm me down (and maybe perhaps the huge pastry bought from Paul on the way into the office!) … but three days later I found myself unable to get out of bed. 

I’m pretty sure that opened up some neural pathways that weren’t there before… Thanks to stopping that medication I’m pretty much okay. The occasional flutter here and there, lots of over thinking and generally liking order and process I seem to get by… even when the world around us seems to be crumbling… but it’s always there just lurking… ready to get me. 

The last nearly 2 years have been tough on us all. I’m sure when lockdowns started and we ended up at home 24×7 lots of us picked things we wanted to achieve. I wanted to play more music, finish my AWS SA training and take the exam… and for 7 weeks when I was locked in the house thanks to my immune system via my psoriasis treatment, I wanted to go outside!

Did I do those things? For a bit. Did I finish the course… yup! Did I take the exam… nope. Did I play piano and clarinet for 10 mins alternate days? Nope! Do I think I failed in the last 2 years… not at all. 

In hindsight, and we all know hindsight is a wonderful thing, I’ve done far the opposite – It’s been incredibly stressful and full of both highs and lows, but I think it turned out okay;

I’ve changed jobs, Twice (you might even say thrice!)… Firstly, having to cancel all made plans due to the pandemic, I left my “have you tried turning it off and on again” comfort zone, and working out how on earth we could onboard new employees totally virtually, during the pandemic. I’d run some programs before, but nothing quite like that… I solidified that with an actual change of Job Title in May switching from Engineer to Technical Program Manager (TPM).

People fit is a huge thing for me – I was blessed to spend 3 years working for an amazing team and manager, and I “bought” the direction… but, sometimes things are not quite to be, and after a minor desk based breakdown and a chat with a friend, I realised perhaps, it wasn’t me that was the problem! 

To be passionate about something, I really have to believe it. I’m not good at faking it and I guess ultimately, I’d lost the belief in where I was and what I was doing. I’d always been intrigued by Cyber Security and am still in complete disbelief that I have managed to switch teams and am now TPM’ing for part of the Security Org. (AAAH). 

The pandemic also meant we didn’t get to spend so much time with Grandma. Sunday afternoons at Rosetrees were no longer a possibility and we didn’t see as much Grandma as we used to. When she passed away in December, we were incredibly lucky to be able to go and say our goodbyes and to hold her hand one last time… I really miss her stories, and toward the end, the strange snaps of lucidity which caught us by surprise – One afternoon having said very little all visit she saw Jeremy Corbyn on the TV and exclaimed “Well… he’s not a very nice man is he!” She would most certainly had an opinion on the new James Bond film, and without giving any spoilers away, I don’t think she’d have approved of that ending! 

It’s hard to be sad about someone you love passing away, when you’ve watched them deteriorate for 3 years and they’re no longer the person you knew. In some ways, I guess the pandemic saved us from more visits when grandma didn’t know who we were. She did however, maintain her famous stock answer to the question “How are you feeling?” Right up to the very end… “With my hands!”

Poorly made hot chocolate with chocolate square fallen into the foam of the milk
Even the square of chocolate I’d balanced for decoration decided it was better used in the drink!

So how am I feeling? Anxious. (And, naturally with my hands… is that Handxious?!) but, thanks to past Steven buying chocolate, milk and a fancy coffee machine with a steam wand, present Steven has  cobbled together a sort of “hot chocolate” (aka hot milk and chocolate sludge)… and I think we’ll be ok. 

I’m blagging it with hot chocolate, like most folk are actually blagging it with life… I’ve come to realise none of us really know what we’re doing. One moment we’re finishing school and before you know it, we’re signing mortgage documents and trying to work out what to do with the pile of BSP (Big, Scary, Paperwork!!! – I’m led to believe stuffing bills and things into a drawer is not a good plan on life.) 

No one makes it out alive, and no one really knows how things work… I guess we just have to try our best and hope no one notices we’re all just making it up! 

And if you’re passing through the Barnet area – let me know, pop by and I’ll make you a chocolate sludge… but you’ll know I’m blagging it. (Ask me nicely and I’ll make tea or coffee!) 

Categories
Israel Jewish Religion

What the hell is going on?

I shouldn’t have to, but I wanted to explain myself. For my sake and for no one else.

If you follow me on Twitter normally you’d find a very random mix of Tech, Jewishness, Music, Football, and general crap that somehow falls out my mind, into my fingers and onto twitter. Yet, for the last two days, I’ve barely tweeted anything apart from retweeting reports of things going on in Israel.

I’m anxious. Last night I barely slept. Today I couldn’t concentrate. This afternoon, as rockets rained down on Israel, I scrambled to text friends, telling them I was thinking of them, checking they were safe. Some friends in shelters, some without shelters. One friend told me how her grandfather of over 90, a holocaust survivor, wasn’t fast enough to move the the shelter and she had to help him.

But that’s all thousands of miles away. Why am I REALLY anxious?

Because every time there is an escalation in Israel, Anti-Semitism outside of Israel increases.
Living my life as a Jew thousands of miles from Israel gets more complex and scarier.

Complex because I feel I want to hide my identity. I’m proudly Jewish (and it just so happens, also proudly a Zionist.) Yet the moment there’s an escalation in Israel, I usually shut down that part of my personality among people I don’t know well. Why? Because the moment I declare my religious affinity, I get barraged with questions and queries, and accusations that I have done X Y or Z.

Scarier because you just don’t know how folk will react. Anti-semitism has already been on the increase in the last few years, and with tensions high in the Middle East, tensions get high elsewhere too. I know, and I am ever thankful to know, that quietly in the background while all this is going on, organisations like the CST are on high alert making plans to protect the UK Jewish community from whatever fall-out might occur here in the UK.

The media coverage of the events in Israel, and Gaza right now is poor. The bias is skewed, and the reasoning provided for actions often incorrect. A number of tweets yesterday showed Jews dancing at the Kotel (The holiest site in the Jewish world) while on top of temple mount, there was a fire. The tweets suggested the Jewish people were dancing with joy at the fire. Yesterday was Yom Yerushalayim – the day of the Unification of Jerusalem. The Jews were dancing because they could dance and pray there, as could their Christian, Armenian and Arab brothers, thanks to unification. (Before the 1967 war Jews were not allowed to visit the holiest site in the Jewish faith)… oh and the fire? The fire was a tree that caught light when struck by a firework fired from atop Temple Mount in the Al-Aqsa complex.

This is just one example of many, but equally is nothing new. Truth does not make for good news. The media doesn’t enjoy spreading balanced views and thrives on pitting one group against the other, fuelling the hate and enflaming the situation.

But really?… What do I think to what’s going on? I think THE WORLD can and should do better.
How?
ACTUALLY. DO. YOUR. RESEARCH.

Does Israel have an upper hand? It’s hard to argue against it… but why do they have the upper hand?
Because the Palestinian people are failed time and time again by their terrorist dictatorship governments who have absolutely no intentions around the sanctity of the life of their people and focuses ONLY on the killing of Jews.

Did I say Jews and not Israelis? Yes. Why? Take a read of the Hamas Charter: https://fas.org/irp/world/para/docs/880818.htm (Wiki on the “Hamas Charter”) Press Ctrl + F and type “Jews”….
Hamas is the organisation that governs Gaza.

Imagine if this was the UK government cabinet, and the word “Jew” was replaced with “French”! The UN wouldn’t stand for it. Peace and human rights activists worldwide would be up in arms. Other countries would send troops in to overthrow militant power and ensure order was ensued.

The world can do better because the Palestinian people in Gaza deserve better than a government that doesn’t care about them. A government that doesn’t believe in peace, doesn’t want peace yet only wants and thrives on war.

The Palestinian people both in Gaza and the West Bank deserve a government that spends money on infrastructure, on healthcare, on development, on education and on growth. On a government that promotes co-existence, peace and love. A government that doesn’t waste money on rockets and terror tunnels. Doesn’t fire rockets from schools and hospitals, and doesn’t brainwash it’s people into extremist ideologies.

I strongly believe in rights for our Palestinian brothers and sisters. (an Arab friend and I often joke we are far more similar than we like to admit). BUT, I believe the best and most sustainable path to rights and peace, is to ensure those leading way and leading the people are doing it with the correct intent.

To ‘Free Palestine’ is not “from the river to the sea” (a call for the destruction of Israel), is to free the Palestinians from their maligned government, and it will take the world to speak out, in order to do so.

Oseh shalom bimromav
Hu ya’aseh shalom aleynu
Ve’al kol yisrael
Ve’imru Amen

He who makes peace in his high places
He shall make peace upon us
And upon all of Israel
And say Amen

Categories
Personal Tech

I got a bit nostalgic about a desk…

This week has been strange for me. Uncharacteristically for “Pandemic Steven”, I’ve taken the week off work. I like my holidays and going away, and the idea of a week where I had to stay home felt a bit odd, however the time was right to take a lil break.

Among the many tasks and outdoor social events of the week, I found myself finishing off some of the last bits of clearing up Grandma’s old flat ahead of the next chapter of it’s life… (More on that soon!). The big job that needed doing, was the removal of “the desk”.

I started the dismantling without thought as to what the desk meant, yet as I undid the many screws, bolts, brackets, braces and beams that held it together, I started to get a little nostalgic.

It might not be the exact desk, but this amazing portrait is a pretty accurate representation of the original proprietor of the desk!
(Portrait by Louise Soloway Chan)

The desk in question was huge. About 1.5 meters in length and easily over 50cm deep. A set of drawers was attached underneath at each end. All finished in a sort of Oak Veneer. (Naturally, I would hope that “Oak” was ‘Veneer of the week’ this week, however I suspect “oak” to be far too simple!) Sadly, having asked around and even taking it to one, the charity shops didn’t want it. It was a product of its time – 1988 said the label underneath – built for a large CRT monitor and large PC, it was a nightmare to transport and alas, its time to meet its maker had come.

30 years is a good innings for a desk!

Amid the grass, screws, pieces of wood and metal in the garden behind the flat, where dismantling was taking place, I started to think a bit about the desk. For years (13 to be precise), that desk had been the place that my grandfather z’l wrote his articles for the various publications he wrote in, surfed the internet (I’m led to believe the internet was still only in black and white when he was online!) and wrote silly stories to keep Adam and myself amused as kids. (If you haven’t heard of the tales of “Dashy Docklands and Uriah Underground”… you probably aren’t missing much!).

As a child, I remember most visits to 54 Redbridge Lane started with a visit to that desk. Zaida was always in his office. He’d be writing an article, or playing a game at the sanctuary of his desk. I’d go up and find out what he was doing. Often, work would be stopped, one of the many floppy disks would be placed in the disk drive and he’d show me how to play what are now classic DOS games such as Micemen or JezzBall. (I got sidetracked writing this, just played Micemen, and I’m still useless!) I’m pretty sure that it was some of those early encounters with the computer that lead me to the love of technology I have today and to a job in the industry I’ve been lucky to work in for the last 10 years.

When Zaida passed away, and subsequently Grandma moved to Barnet, the desk came with. It fitted perfectly into the alcove in the dining room, and while Grandma’s enthusiasm for computing was not the same as Zaida’s the desk still saw use through the occasional email, game of Free Cell or Solitaire, attempts to download and print various articles and/or recipies and the short lived…. foray…. Grandma once undertook into the world of Facebook.

As time went on, I’d find myself spending more and more time at the desk again. Now, however undoing whatever mess grandma had managed to unwittingly get herself into in her internet crusades, or attempting to fix the printer. (which usually meant just putting new cartridges in, as they had been that seldom used they had dried up!).

Taking the desk apart piece by piece was strangely therapeutic. It gave me a good chance to think of all the great memories over the years;

My first memory of printing something happened at that desk – a sign that read “Tea, Coffee or Brandy?” and contained a perfectly 90s clip art image of a cup which was affixed to the dining room door at 54 Redbridge Lane in homage to the game Adam and I used to play where we’d offer you “Tea, Coffee or Brandy” from an old Tea Set Grandma saved for us…

I also thought back to awe I felt the first time we saw a digital camera – Uncle Leslie had returned from one of his many trips to China, asked for a floppy disk and took some photos of us. We all went up to the office and watched as the floppy disk was popped into the drive and we appeared on the screen! Copies were emailed to us at home, and a few moments later, by the magic of “BubbleJet” the photo was also printed out!

As I took the drawers apart, I removed the “magic” trays in the tops of the drawers. They would contain many dried up pens, blunt and broken pencils, and bits and pieces. I remember being mystified at the drawer within the drawer as a kid!

Suddenly, I realised that the dismantling was complete and all I was left with was a pile of pieces that I’d have to work out disposing of.
An era was over. I was sad, but also felt a strange sort of closure and completeness.

As I sat looking at the pile of pieces, I realised that this wasn’t the only era to end this week… Today (Friday) is the last working day I’ll officially have the job title “IT Support Engineer”. For the last (very almost) 10 years, I’ve held a variety of similar titles and been blessed to work for 3 very different companies, supporting internal staff and infrastructure, being “The IT Guy”.

From next week, I’m trying something new – I’ll be a Technical Program Manager. I’ll have new responsibilities, new things to do, different people to meet and different goals to achieve. I’m excited as I am scared but am looking forward to the challenge.

It’s going to be seriously strange after 10 years not to be “the IT Guy” and I’m not sure quite how I’m going to get my head round that… but like the desk, sometimes good things come to the end of their era, to make space for even better things in the future.

Categories
Personal

Hesped for Grandma

Eulogy read at the Shiva of Grandma Jackie (Jacqueline Phillips) on 17th December 2020.

It’s been far more of a challenge than I could ever have imagined, to pick a few stories and memories to share. Listening to Aunty Carol, Dad and Rabbi Livingstone this afternoon, as well as looking at how many people are here in Zoom this evening, really made me realise just how many people Grandma had an impact upon. 

As a child, I always looked forward to spending time with Grandma, and Zaida before he passed. Every Sunday night, Grandma and Zaida would come and babysit for us. Zaida would be in charge, as ever of the TV Controls and Fish and Chips, while Grandma focussed on looking after Adam and myself. 

We particularly loved bath time, which always concluded with grandma wrapping us up in towels “like a parcel” and calling for “Postman Pat” to post us to bed. 

No Yom Tov went by without the afternoon walk to Clay Hall park or the rec behind Grandma’s house, where we would spend what felt like hours on the swings, or trying to find grandma as she wandered off to admire at the roses. 

Redbridge Lane held a lot of happy memories for me growing up. In the front room, was a small tea trolley which contained a collection of coloured coasters and strange metal tea pots. These tea pots became legendary when grandma taught us to go around the house asking anyone if they wanted “Tea or Coffee”. Zaida was not content was just two options available and much to grandma’s dislike added brandy to the menu. Adam and I can promise that tea and coffee were never the popular options. 

During the school holidays I always looked forward to sleepovers at Grandmas. Grandma would go all out in what she would openly admit was “spoiling us rotten”. From steak and home made chips for dinner to sweets and popcorn – Adam an I were always well fed! 

On one of my earlier sleepovers, I was promptly promoted to the kitchen stool while grandma cooked dinner, after grandma came into the living room to find that Zaida had me mixing his pipe tobacco. She was not impressed. 

The highlight of a sleepover at grandma’s. Was ALWAYS the day trip. We’d set out early and visited all sorts of different places. We drove out to Maldon to the beach and spent many a day out in London. We’d walk down to Redbridge tube, I would point to a place on the tube map, and off we went. I quickly learnt that pointing to somewhere on the DLR meant we could ride round  all day driving the train, and was lucky enough on one of the trips that she convinced the guard to let me press the buttons!

On a trip to Duxford War Museum, Zaida gave grandma strict instructions to take me on a flight. When we arrived at Duxford, in keeping with family traditions, we were too late and all flights had sold out that day. Not wanting to upset Zaida or let me down, Grandma thought she had found a solution. We shuffled into the simulator, and had just got comfortable when the safety barrier was secured tightly. Grandma thought she’d arranged a leisure flight simulator, however on the contrary. We took part in a 15 minute airshow with the red arrows. We both stumbled off the simulator with grandma making it clear this would… never…. happen…. again. 

No matter the circumstances, Grandma was always able to find the something funny in the situation. A trait I have discovered that I also have. While in Stanmore Orthopaedic hospital following an operation to remove cancer from her leg, she gathered us all and insisted we got chairs. We all sat round her in the large open ward where she’d held court for the last few days and with a very serious face she told us “Ive spoken with the Drs and nurses. It’s been a very hard decision for me… it’s not good news… but we’ve decided… it’s probably best… that I give up pole dancing!” The whole ward erupted laughing. 

This sense of humour stayed with her throughout her illness. When visiting grandma at the care home, we’d ask her “Grandma, how are you feeling?” She’d stop for a second, think, look back at you and say “still mainly with my hands”. 

We’re so grateful for the care Jewish Care provided to grandma while she was a resident and to Grandma’s friend Sheila Lawrence who volunteered at the home every week. She visited grandma and took her down to shul every Saturday for the shobbos services which I know she would have appreciated. 

I’m glad that we got to say goodbye to grandma and that she’s no longer suffering – I’m sure she’s already put on her dancing shoes and has already been appointed as secretary on a large number of committees organising everyone in her own inimitable way.

Baruch Dayan HaEmet – May her memory be a blessing.

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A drive through London

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Travel

Montserrat & It’s Cog/Funicular Railways

Following conversation in a work IM group… Here’s some photos form my trip to Montserrat, Spain in 2019…

I hope to add some more photos from trips soon!

Montserrat Rack Railway https://www.cremallerademontserrat.cat/en/rack-railway/the-rack-railway/
CabView
View of the Valley
Funicular machinery
Funicular car
The Furnicular
Bottom to top….
Top to bottom!

A bonus…

“Funicular Aeri De Montserrat