HelenEdith's Blog

The minutiae of my life, plus website updates and book reviews

Posts Tagged ‘m25’

Entry for March 14, 2008 – Music, Tractors and Wind!

Posted by HelenEdith on March 14, 2008

It’s a month since I last wrote anything here. Where has the time gone!

Last week I had musical activities two nights running: on Tuesday I took my bassoon to work and went straight from work to the home of a cellist who had arranged for me to meet up with her string quartet to run through some 18th Century bassoon concertos by the Nottingham composer Henry Hargrave.

These are charming but fairly lightweight pieces, and the same thematic material crops up more than once in the course of the three bassoon concertos. We ran through all three concertos for bassoon and strings and came to an agreement to offer Concerto No.I for performance at Bromley Music Makers in May, when the programme is going to consist entirely of British music. The music secretary has lots of offers of 20th Century music, so she’s intrigued by this piece, which should be different from most of the rest of the concert.

Now I’ve got to practise the bits in the final movement that give the bassoonist a bit of a workout!

During the Tuesday night session, my bassoon wasn’t playing bottom F properly. I found a workaround, but on Wednesday I had a good look at the bassoon and discovered a spring-loaded wire which had unhitched from behind the little post it should have been tensioned on and put it back, and hey presto, my usual fingering worked again!

It was just as well, because Wednesday evening I was meeting up with the augmented Marlowe Ensemble for an evening of music making. I figured I’d never manage to sandwich a day’s work between two evenings out, so I took Wednesday off. It paid off, as I felt full of energy for my evening’s exertions, which turned out to be:

  • Haydn – Symphony 104 “London” in D Major
  • Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy – Overture “Meeresstille und glückliche Fahrt” Op.27 which my clarinettist neighbour Terry who knows German translated for me as “Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage”, which is a little easier to say without sounding rude!
  • Mozart – Magic Flute Overture
  • Johannes Brahms – Symphony No.4 in E Minor Op.98 – which we didn’t play all the way through. We had clarinets in C that evening, so we made sure we did the third movement, which requires them (or requires the clarinettists to take the parts home to transpose)

Now, on to the tractors. I’ve been admiring the tractors that roll off the production line at the New Holland tractor factory at Basildon. I can see part of the factory from the office windows, but when I drove up Cranes Farm Road the other day and went past the other side of the factory, I passed the parking lot where the completed tractors are parked.

Last Friday, I took my camera with me, and at lunch time I drove my car to the Cranes Farm Road end of the Festival Leisure Park, where I parked it and went for a walk up the road to the tractor plant. I took a few pictures of the Festival Leisure Park and found evidence of spring along the way, but eventually reached my goal: that parking lot full of tractors. I would have liked one red one to add a touch of something different, but the red ones aren’t parked in that lot, so I got a picture of a sea of shiny new blue tractors. That’s the picture at the top of this entry. More of my pictures from last Friday can be found here.

The weather forecast for this week wasn’t good, with high winds forecast. Having seen the forecast on Sunday evening, I’d pretty much made my mind up that I would need to work from home on Monday, and in the morning the traffic reports confirmed that. The huge cable-stayed QEII Bridge over the Thames Estuary was closed and M25 traffic from both directions was having to use the tunnels at Dartford. Trying to fit eight lanes of traffic into four lanes doesn’t work very well and there were delays of an hour to cross the River. Working from home was the only sensible solution.

The wind dropped on Tuesday and I made it into the office. Going home, the Bridge was open, but only just: there was a 30mph speed limit in place, and I wouldn’t have wanted to exceed it.

Wednesday’s my usual home-working day, and with the winds picking up, I didn’t volunteer to attend the office as I’d home-worked earlier in the week. It was actually just as well I was home that day as Stephen’s Mum called us a bit after 6:30pm to say that she was on the floor and couldn’t get up and Stephen can’t get her up unaided. She wasn’t hurt, just stranded, so we piled in the car and went and rescued her.

Come Thursday, wind wasn’t the problem, but a multiple vehicle collison was. Two northbound lanes were closed at the Dartford Crossing, so we were back to 1-hour delays. I emailed work and said I was signing on from home and would come in later if the traffic improved. It hadn’t done so by 1pm, so I ended up working at home for the day. That was fortunate, too, as the doorbell rang and it was the delivery man with my order of Permajet papers, which had to be signed for. I’d been on the lookout for them, and as Stephen had an unexpected extra shift at the Hospice Shop, had I not been home, my paper would have had to go back to the depot and been tracked down later.

Today I logged onto the traffic reports and they were unbelievably good. There were no little speedometer signs on http://www.trafficmap.co.uk/ anywhere along the stretch of the M25 that I use. They even had a matrix sign switched on somewhere down near Sevenoaks announcing 12 miles to Dartford in 12 minutes! http://www.trafficmap.co.uk/ is great for finding out information like that. I got a good run all the way to Basildon and managed to show my face in the office for the second time this week.

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Entry for June 26, 2007

Posted by HelenEdith on June 26, 2007

My boss, Christine, has decided to retire, and this week is her last week at work. This evening, a number of people who have worked with Christine went out to an Italian restaurant in Billericay and had a meal together.

It was 10pm when I got on the road to come home, and I still managed to find a tailback on the M25. Apparently they do overnight roadworks on the section that they’ve recently slapped the 50mph limit on between Darenth and Swanley, and they were down to one lane.

I’m afraid that I probably made things worse by looking at all that lovely roadmaking equipment, and realised that the car in front of me was some distance ahead… 🙂

This morning, I wasn’t in a tailback on the Essex section of the M25. In fact, I was driving along in bright sunshine. Strange, then, that every roadside sign was switched on and announcing fog!

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Entry for May 11, 2007

Posted by HelenEdith on May 11, 2007

This morning the traffic reports were unbelievably good – and they lived up to expectations. I wasn’t quite so lucky on the way home, as there was an “incident” between J29 and J30 of the M25, so I decided to use the A13 and join the M25 at J30. Unfortunately, they were replacing armco on the A13 and there was a bottleneck where the traffic had to merge into one lane. Fortunately I was soon past that and traffic was flowing so freely on the M25 when I joined that I wondered whether I should have taken my usual route up the A127 to J29 after all.

It looks like being a wet weekend, which is a shame, because the Ravens Wood Custom & Classic Car Show & Fayre 2007 is on this Sunday, and we’d enjoy going so long as we aren’t going to get wet through. It’s also Mr Punch’s birthday this weekend, so there will be lots of Punch & Judy Shows at Covent Garden. That’s also probably more interesting if the weather co-operates.

Today’s picture is one I came across when hunting out yesterday’s picture; and with a new Harry Potter book due out any day now, I thought a line of Anglias was quite topical. 🙂

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Entry for May 10, 2007

Posted by HelenEdith on May 10, 2007

The traffic reports didn’t look promising this morning. The one with the speedometers claimed 8mph anti-clockwise on the M25 at Swanley. That’s not good. I decided to home-work and not even try to get through traffic like that.

Funnily enough, there are less distractions at home than in the office sometimes, and I think I made more progress at home with my peer testing, which has become incredibly boring, than I would have made in the office where I could find all sorts of things to digress into.

Hopefully the roads will be better tomorrow as I don’t really want to home-work two days in a row.

I’ve just won a pair of shamrock earrings on eBay. They’re already on screwback mounts, so they’re all ready to go – and I don’t think I’ll be waiting for St Patrick’s Day to give them an outing!

I’ve hunted out another picture of the scary tractor. It really does remind me of a giant predatory insect somehow! It’s an Oliver. I’d wondered if it was an Allis Chalmers because of the seating position. This picture was taken at last year’s Wrotham Steam and Vintage Rally and you can see how much darker the tractor looks than in the picture from the previous year. I think the driver looks a bit like the DelMonte Man from the ads on television. (You might need to watch British TV to appreciate that!)

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Entry for May 09, 2007

Posted by HelenEdith on May 9, 2007

I took a day off each side of the Bank Holiday, but I had to go back to work today.

The peer testing is starting to seem interminable, and I just want it finished so that I can move on to something else. However, I won’t pass the stuff until it’s correct, so I’m stuck with it for the moment. 😦

I was glad I was travelling clockwise on the M25 this evening. The anticlockwise side was tailed back from the Dartford Tunnel to beyond Swanley where I left the M25. If it gets like that in the morning, I turn around and go home and sign on from home. I check the traffic reports before setting out, but sometimes things worsen by the time I get to Junction 3 and I know that stationary traffic there is likely to mean an hour’s wait for the tunnel, which is just plain crazy when I’ve got the option of working at home occasionally.

Today we were talking about tractors in an online group I’m in, and I had a trawl through my archives looking for pictures I took at the Wrotham Steam and Vintage Fair. Today’s picture is the scary tractor… This picture was taken two years ago. Last year, the owner had oiled the bodywork and it was almost black. Hopefully we’ll visit again this year when the fair’s on in June, and we might even see this tractor again. With all that oil, it shouldn’t rust!

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