[12:25] A much better day today, thus far. Hopefully it'll get even better
this afternoon. Spent the morning generalising more kickstart stuff and
studiously ignoring the reinstall I have to do of the Grid Control machines
with 32 bit Linux. I'll do that tomorrow afternoon as well as submit the RDA
thingy to Oracle. I'm busy for the afternoon today and tomorrow morning with
other things so I can just Forget About It.
Climbing last night was OK. I think I should have done a few more climbs but
having been in a bit of a mood anyway (even though there were some highlights
to yesterday) I went with some power climbs instead and left it that that. I
think I'll head off soon and get some lunch, meet some people and concentrate
on something fun for a while.
[16:40] I'm kind of overwhemed by information at the moment. There's the fact
that Oracle tell me that Grid Control isn't supported on x86-64 Linux despite
all the references I keep finding to it. There's needing to run Oracle's RDA
tool on one of the boxes (reinstalled with standard i386 Linux) in one of it
manifold configurations to send the output to them to help work out what's
wrong (that's going to be a barrel of laughs). There's the (real) fun and
games I had over the weekend including the Hallowe'en party at James', the
excellent visit from Kate and Nigel (and Dave the Dog) and the excellent
cooked breakfast I did. There's an excellent cycle to a pub down the river
and the lunch enjoyed to remember. There's the information I got this morning
which was entirely expected but still served to bring my brain to a halt for a
moment. Finally there's everything that I've worked out is going to go on
this week and how likely some of it is going to clash, not mesh or otherwise
go completely wrong in New and Interesting Ways. Despite all anticipatory
evidence to the contrary I'm expecting this week to be a complete and utter
pig. Continuing from today's working day with climbing tonight.
I'll keep you informed. Fill you in. Keep you in the loop. Apprise you of
the situation as it develops. You'd expect nothing less, I know.
[16:30] Another day of no progress with Oracle and RHEL4. Still, I've opened
a TAR so frankly it's not my problem for a while. About the only good news
today is that the final machine which is non-server hardware based but doing
server duties has been authorised for termination on Monday. I'll be down to
that server room to kick that blasted machine all the way back to this
building. Oh, and it's Friday so Kate and Nigel are due in a few hours, I
get to have Chinese and I'm cycling to a pub for Sunday lunch. Oh, and next
week is filling up a bit more too. Just waiting on one more thing to make it
close to perfect.
[17:45] Still no joy with Oracle Grid and RHEL. I even went so far as to fire
up the sister machine and do a bare metal install and do none of my post
kickstart configuration. I had a vanilla RHEL 4 x86-64 Update 4 box. Same
errors. I've roped a colleague into helping me trawl through Oracle's
Metalink site but we're not coming up with anything concrete as yet. This is
something of a showstopper for about three major projects and stops us binning
a few Sun E250 machines we really could do with heaving (with difficulty) out.
In other news it's nearly Friday. This means tonight is the regular Thursday:
session of DVDs, food and company in the house (always good). I also gain
another computer. Not that I need one, but I want to try doing some PVR stuff
as well as stopping using my laptop as my DivX-playing machine. I'll need a
graphics card with S-Video out to do that though. Also, if it's going to be
AGP half-height. Stupid Dells.
Tomorrow night is all about Kate and Nigel and Dave The Dog arriving, food,
pubbage and the gym at some point and not necessarily in that order. The
weekend is shaping up nicely too with both Saturday and Sunday
looking pretty healthy in terms of do-age. Now I think about it most of next
week looks like it could be rather enjoyble too. Either way it's all going to
be a good distraction from the week I'm having and the meeting I had which
was one hour of working out that none of us in the room would actually be
doing anything. How's about that for productivity?
I think I should be worried that the highlight of my day was finding out the
new rack for the server room I've been pleading for has been ordered. Beat
[17:45] Oracle, RHEL4 x86-64. I hate them both. Why can't I install Oracle
Grid control on this damned box? It's obviously something to do with the
installer not being able to find compat-libstdc++-296-2.96-132.7.2,
libstdc++devel-3.4.3-22.1 and openmotif-21-2.1.30-11. Never mind the fact
that they're on the machine at exactly those revisions or better. Gah, it's
all so poo. I'm fairly certain it's something to do with 32 Vs 64 bit
libraries, LD and things like that but, honestly, I really have no idea. It's
rather frustrating. No climbing this evening either which is something of a
blessing and a curse as a) I'm shattered from things I did yesterday but, b)
Really could do with something to take my mind off this abortion of an
installer from Oracle. If anyone had any clues as to what the hell is going
on there're beertokens in it for you.
I'm going home.
[12:45] Fear me and my ability to get Ruby 1.8.4 compiled into RPM form for
RHEL3 despite the obstacles placed in my way by devious (read: stupid) people
who put in dependencies that aren't required, then versions of automake which
I don't have. Suffice it to say I think I've got it licked, installed and
Climbing last night was interesting, also revealing on some levels as to what
I might expect in the future. Helped one person with their climbing, I hope,
and resolved a potential misunderstanding by dint of eventual clear
communication. I really recommend talking if you're not sure about something,
saves all kinds of woe.
We tidied the server room this morning. I say we, I didn't get time to as I
was fighting with Ruby, but I made it in in time to give some useful
suggestions and hopefully be of some help. I think this afternoon I will
spend some time working on one of the other kickstartable machines, then go to
the gym before a quiet evening in for once. I may even do that pasta thingy
again. Tesco on the way home last night furnished me with pancetta and more
of the sauce I need. No extra plums or peppers this time, just the sauce.
[13:05] Choices. Never thought I'd have them in this regard! Yes people,
it's time once more for Oblique References And Cryptic Vagueness Theatre! I
know you love it so much. Everyone says so. So yes, choices. Or (and this
is the good bit) actually possibly none at all. Either way I've decided to
pretty much clear the decks for the moment, as it were. Well, all but one.
It makes perfect sense to me.
Friday was blimmin' excellent. Went to a party where I only knew three people
and one of them was a quarter of the hosts. Aside from some fire juggling and
breathing (which I didn't get around to) it was a case of chatting to people,
and then congregating in someone's room to chat, sock and Zen wrestle and then
look at photos. Quite by accident I ended up being the last guest in the
house so got the 03:15 cup of tea and helped tidy a little before heading home
I was up by 09:00 though, and spent most of the day dusting, tidying, cleaning
and vacuuming the entire house for the upcoming visit of Kate and Nigel next
weekend. By the end of the day I decided it was worth going out to meet
someone, who didn't actually turn up in the end so I went into Borders and
bought two books. Turns out I already had one of them so I'm heading back
this lunch time with it and a hardback to see if I can convince them to a)
let me exchange the one I have for another of equal value and b) the hardback
for a paperback version of the same novel (long story, doesn't matter).
Anyway, it did mean I got to bed reasonably early on Saturday night. I don't
know if this is a sad thing or not. Oh, and the person who didn't turn up
emailed to apologise, so it wasn't as if I was completely forgotten.
Sunday, at a loss for things to do I went to the gym for what turned out to be
a rather epic session. Aside from some good weights work I ended up running
four miles in under thirty minutes quite by accident when two of the stepper
machines in front of my treadmill became occupied by rather lovely women.
For fun I went to the local botanical gardens for some of the afternoon where
there was a kind of open day to do with apples. This meant there was apple
juice and cider tasting as well as opportunities to buy same. Also honey and
other produce including cheese. I'm such a cheese addict now, I ended up
buying some stunning cheddar and sharing apples dipped in honey and the
cheese at home with a friend before they headed off and I chilled out for the
afternoon. Feeling flush (I'm not, just lazy) I went out for a Thai for
dinner with a friend which finished off in a very, very empty pub talking
about favourite authors. Additionally I got to go home and watch episode 4 of
Battlestar Galactica which is really quite superb. In fact I think I may need
to watch it again tonight when I get back from climbing. All in all a pretty
... Oooh, oooh, I nearly forgot! Saturday evening before I went out I made
the best pasta-based meal ever! Fresh pasta, pepper and plum sauce and a
really generous helping of smoked pancetta which had been grilled and then
chopped into moderately small pieces. Bloody lovely. I'll be having that
[16:30] Didn't get to do any of the coding on that hardware RAID monitoring
script I wanted to fiddle with until about ten minutes ago at which point I
just didn't have the enthusiasm to start anything. It's been a weird day.
About the only good thing was getting to go to lunch with someone nice from
work who I chatted to amiably all the way there, all the way through food and
all the way back again. I don't think we really noticed much else that was
going on. I like lunches with people I can just chat to without any conscious
I've done bugger all today and I'm Pissed Off about that. Having someone
come online and tell me they're angry at me (probably my fault in a few ways,
but still) wasn't the best end to the working day either. I'm off to the gym
soon and have a hope that some physical activity (rather than sitting on my
arse all day achieving precisely nothing) will improve my mood, and stuff.
Weekend should be OK. I need to do some housework (tidy, dust, vacuum), some
washing and maybe even some cooking. I've got a few people to meet over the
course of the weekend and potentially a party this evening if I can muster the
energy to get to it. It's within walking distance so shouldn't be too hard to
come back from if I begin to tire. I hope you all have a good one. See you
on the other side.
I've just heaved something that can only be described as a monolithic sigh, I
think it's time to get the hell out of here for the week.
[17:50] Success! Once I'd figured out that PowerEdge 2950s consider the USB
port I was using to boot from to be /dev/sdc not /dev/sdb things went a lot
more smoothly with regard to getting the kickstart file to be read. Of course
there was the usual requirement to tweak the post-install script but now that
that's done (and at the same time I took the opportunity to really generalise
the hell out of all of the kickstart setups I have making things a lot more
sensible) I can build x86-64 machines as easily as any other kind of RHEL box.
This is what's known as a Good Thing.
Unfortunately, although the Big Brother client appears to work even though
compiled for another distribution my custom RAID monitoring script has been
completely broken by the new RAID card the machine has so that's going to be
tomorrow's job I think. Actually quite a fun one; it's rare I actually get to
do some decent (as in time, rather than the quality of my work) coding so I
intend to revel in it, and hopefully get something that works with both the
old hardware and the new shiny ones. Once it does I can release a new version
to the Big Brother/Hobbit community and retain my reputation as a l33t haX0r.
Otherwise I've started to fill up my weekend with things to do, so that's
good. Still, although there's something rather fun I could probably do I
find I'm waiting to see if not doing it right away makes it more fun later on.
In the meantime there's climbing, gym, popping out to see a few friends and
going to a party where I know about two other people. And that doesn't even
begin to cover the things I need to actually do which aren't social. I won't
list those though, who cares about them?
[17:30] OK, I'm very very close to getting these new PowerEdge 2950 machines
booted and installed via USB, serial console and Kickstart. All I need now is
a kickstart file that Does The Right thing. It's been a bitch of a day all
told really. Gym last night was good but I ended up being really tired again.
Watching DivXen was about the only thing I was capable of doing for the rest
of the evening. That's OK though as I think I've been keeping myself nicely
pushed for the last few days. It's not that I've been pushing too hard, I
just needed to catch up with the routine I was in before I went away. Some
might say I should keep it slow until I'm ready to get back up to speed. Tish
and pshaw I say to those people. Life is short, do what you can while you can
Well I don't, usually. But hey. Lots of fiddling going on with servers
today, meetings meaning I have to do work have come and gone and as a result I
have lots of work on my whiteboard now without ticks or lines through it. No
not the one with the funny faces on (for those of you who look at the webcam)
the other one you can't see.
Anyway, time to head home and see if there's any confusion left to deal with
with regards to climbing this evening. Remind me that I shouldn't ever try
to organise things as it just gets people riled. And I really can't be
bothered to have to deal with that.
Oh, yes. Just realised that for the first time in as long as I can remember
I don't think I have anything planned for this weekend. I wonder
what I can do...
[17:20] Oh dear. I really must learn not to stay up late at the moment. It's
very not good for me. We went climbing last night and I felt tired as all
hell. I don't know if it's the air pressure, the darker evenings or
just getting over the trip and stuff still. Hope not, I thought I was made
of sterner stuff than that. Anyway, didn't get out of bed until the late,
late hour of 08:15 but was in work for 08:40, so that wasn't so bad.
The morning was spent fighting with Solaris 10, updatemanager and Zeus' ZXTM
upgrade, the latter of which actually went flawlessly, it was just that the
change of IP we'd just subjected all the management workstations to meant that
we couldn't talk to the load balancers after the upgrade. We couldn't before
either, but we hadn't tried since the changeover. Brief few minutes of worry
there. Got the old heart rate up. Of course the whole Solaris
updatemanager/smpatch thing was enough to raise my blood pressure with
frustration until I was able to get my head around things there. Bottom line:
some unavoidable issues, mostly not my fault, everything sorted as much as it
Cycled all the way across town to meet someone for lunch. A pleasant way to
spend an hour or so and hopefully something we'll repeat as time allows.
Unfortunately I got back to work fairly late so I've not really had time to do
much other than get things ready for tomorrow. That'll be more working with
linux, a meeting to discuss the new eSales servers (fagin and sykes, good
names) and some temporary racking excitement with some precariously-balanced
boxes. Gym now though.
[11:55] (More) Fame at last! Seems my gallery of sailing trip pictures has
made it onto the Soren Larsen's
voyage log web page.
Which, as I am wont to say, is nice. I'm only mildly peeved they used the
shot Anja took of me in Millennium Cave face paint as their "here's Ben" shot.
The weekend started extremely well on Friday night, oddly enough. Was at a
work colleague's house with Shaun, Linda and another work colleague where we
were treated to proper Chicago-style pizzas, cooked from scratch. None of
that shop-bought nonsense. We ended up talking into the not so small hours
about systems-theory with relation to working practices and business planning
and its possible connections to Eastern Philosophy and meditation (and yoga).
Really, you had to be there to understand how interesting it actually was.
And the sense it made. As a result I didn't get up until well past 09:00 on
Saturday morning. This wasn't too bad, except that I had to be in London for
13:00 to meet a friend. Luckily Cormac had popped over for a cup of tea and a
natter so he gave me a lift to the station.
Lunch in Tokyo Diner is always good and the company was pleasant, but I had to
get to The Castle to get some climbing in before it closed. Given the cost
it's worth going for the day if you can. Of course, when I got there most of
the bouldering was closed for competition route setting but I still managed to
unstiffen my muscles and do some fairly good climbs before chatting to some
people. Suitably introduced I was able to do some lead routes with them for a
few hours before meeting some other new people on the overhanging feature wall
upstairs and working through some interesting fingery overhang routes until
the wall closed.
Home late I just went to bed, promising myself that Sunday would be a Day of
Rest. Amazingly I managed to stay in bed until 11:00, waking only once at
07:00 as usual. Obviously I decided to mow the lawn (some two months without
a trim) which took about two hours, at the same time as putting washing on.
Then I went to the pub for lunch with James before running beside him on his
bike back to his place to go and do a massive Tesco shop. Following that I
felt it was high time I sat back and didn't actually do anything else. There
then followed some serious DivXen watching before a friend popped over for a
bit to entertain me as well as give me a chance to work out why I'd not
expended much effort going to see Aeon Flux in a cinema. I think I got to bed
around 12:30 in the end.
As per usual Monday follows Sunday and I find myself in work. I'm absolutely
famished at the moment, lunch will follow this journal entry. Other than
that I'm downloading four different sets of RHEL ISOs for kickstart point
updates, have the new Zeus ZXTM thingy ready to go for tomorrow's upgrade and
should do something with the new Dell PowerEdges at some point today too. Oh,
and we have approval for a new Dell rack for this building's server room.
That means I rather than having to down a whole rack to recable it neatly I
can start moving my machines out of it and into the new rack where they'll be
neatly cabled from day one. I can then ignore the other rack as
it'll only have Windows servers in. Unless the Windows admins ask nicely,
then I might take pity on them and recable it at some point.
[16:35] So I didn't manage to get the PowerEdge talking via serial today. I
reckon it's something to do with the cable. At least I hope it is. RHEL4
x86_64 installed just fine. I wish I'd been able to do it in the server room
though; the thing's ruddy loud. Even louder than the Sun V20z. Of course now
I need to work out if I'm going to do set up a whole Kickstart thing and do
it via USB stick with all the configuration (not much) that that requires.
Had a pleasant lunch in town with a friend and then headed back to do not much
this afternoon. Friday afternoons, I mean, really? What can you do with
them? Of to the gym shortly (erm, now actually) then home-made pizza for
dinner. Probably an early night, unless I watch those two new Battlestar
Galactica episodes. Have a fun weekend everyone. I'm off to London to climb
tomorrow and then do something home-based on Sunday. Probably mow the grass
given it's at jungle levels now.
[17:15] You know those days when everything seems to be finicky and broken
in interesting ways and just generally crap. Well that was today.
First of all the data cleansing thing that I was doing went wrong, and right
and weird and messed up and generally odd. Then I couldn't tell my line
manager as he was out of the building (for the day I thought, actually until
mid-afternoon). The Dell server (PowerEdge 2950) refuses to talk to the
serial console I have (I think it's the cable pinout, but I can't be sure)
which means I can't get on with installing the RHEL4 64-bit OS I need to try
and get my head around. I've been trying to get some NTP reconfiguration done
which has required connecting to all my servers and doing fiddly little tasks.
In the middle of all this we're re-VLANing all the machines on the 192 network
(including my box and some of the ones I need to talk to) and then there's
the mini-issues with RedHat Networks which is going to bite me in the ass
Still, had a pleasant evening last night, even if I'm just as tired as can be
and in need of some more relaxation. Maybe I'll get some this weekend, but I
doubt it. Usual Thursdayness in an hour and a half or so, so I better go home
and make me and the house presentable.
[09:10] Oh! I forgot to mention that I put my trip photos up yesterday,
finally. Anyone who's interested in looking can head on over to
and tell me what they think. Or not. Either way, there they are. I've cut
them down from the 1078 I actually took, but I think there's still enough to
give you a flavour of the experience without overloading you with too many
shots. I know, there's still loads and loads but hey, it was a good
trip. Deal with it.
[17:10] So I flipped RAM between the new Dell 2950 servers today, and then
got into a mood where I was prepared to rack them... only to find that we have
no space left in the Dell cabinet, the rails (funky as they are in being both
screw and clip rails in one) don't fit in any of the Sun or generic cabinets
and even if they did we have a) no power available and b) no ports left on the
terminal server anyway. This means I'm going to have to do the builds one at
a time with each box sitting on the workbench table here in the office. If I
know anything it's that Dell rackmount servers are loud. Oh well.
No word as yet as to whether the data file I sweated over is going to be
applied to the live database as yet. We'll have to see how it goes. But not
today. I'm downloading RHEL4 64-bit ISOs at the moment so that'll be
tomorrow's install job. Tomorrow's because I'm heading home soon as it's the
end of the day and I want to conserve my energy a bit. I'm not going climbing
this evening. I feel like a night in. I'm not sure what I'll get up to as
yet but I'm sure something'll come up.
[19:00] Just finished writing up my trip journal. I could have gone through
and made it a bit less matter of fact and a bit more like a story, but there
was so much and I have so many other things to do that it'll just have to
stand as it is. Do feel free to read/wade through it as when when you've got
nothing else to do.
[10:25] OK, yes the weekend. Friday was a bit of a rush as I headed to London
early to see a a friend for the evening. That worked out fairly well and
resulted in a bacon breakfast which is the sign of a good visit if ever there
is one. Following departure from there I took a Tube over to Old Street to
see a new friend which also worked out fairly fun too. That wasn't for long
as I then had to go back over to Kensington to meet up with Andy, Andy and Co.
to watch the England match (dull) and have an enjoyable evening with all kinds
of new people I'd never met before. Or in one case had, but about ten years
Either way I was shattered by the end of the evening (I guess still a bit
lagged, or something) so when we headed back to Hammersmith I was asleep on my
feet and crashed out on the floor in my sleeping bag in short order. Of
course, it being Hammersmith I was under the Heathrow flight path so was Wide
Awake at 05:30 as the first planes started coming over. This was because of
having to leave all the windows open rather than cooking to death. Naturally
there was bacon (how could there not be?) so the morning went well. We sat
and chatted for a while before Andy (Andrea) and I made a move, her to shops
me back home again.
I arrived back in time to get changed and head out to the circus arts thing
for the first time in a while. This was a good thing as not only did I see
someone I've not seen in months and who is off to China of all places to teach
English to children, but I also got to try out trapeze for the first time
ever. It's so cool! Apart from the rope burns (hur hur hur) and the
bruising that a novice (and apparently experienced people too) gets I think I
did reasonably well. Not a complete klutz anyway. After a few hours of that
I got back into poi and started the long road to learning some new trick. I
think I'm way out of practice on that score too. Had a nice dinner out with a
friend afterwards before coming home and just crashing out, again.
So yes! That was the weekend. How was yours? This morning I've been asked
to do some data cleansing for one of the systems we use here. The data import
routine is a bit finicky so I'm having to dig into the 8500+ line file and
pull out/alter whatever it's barfing on.
[17:25] A busy day. Been unboxing Dell 2950s and swapping RAM, fiddling with
more data stuff and generally chatting to people and arranging more meetings.
Hopefully I'll start having them soon, rather than organising them.
Gym this evening, for the first time in ages.
[17:45] Whoa, bit of a weekend. No time to talk about it today, I've been too
busy, someone remind me tomorrow. Mostly today has been tracking down control
characters in 8253 line files by hand (when you don't know what you're looking
for), typing up more journal over lunch and arranging meetings with people.
The meetings look like they'll be the most fun things coming up this month.
We'll just have to see if they happen on time and everything that can be
achieved in them is.
So yes, will talk about the weekend tomorrow if I remember. Off climbing now.
[16:10] Off soon. Got to head to London to see friends tonight, tomorrow and
stuff. Today I've been doing journal catchup from the trip, discovering that
an import routine we all thought was working has been broken since June and
I also have to do some work with a BSD box, a Perl application and a Dymo
label printer. Honestly it just Doesn't Get Better Than That.
Obviously congratulations to Rachel and Tony who became (I imagine) proud
parents around 09:00 this morning to a 10lb, 4oz baby Charles. I hope mother
and child (and father) are all doing well.
[16:25] S'been a bit of a willy of a day really. Aside from feeling fairly
good when I got out of bed and having a reasonable day at work there's been a
meeting which has either complicated matters relating to a project utterly, or
clarified them in an utterly horrifying way. Part of the issue was not having
one of the people we needed in the meeting in the meeting. Still, we went and
saw him afterwards and achieved as much in those ten minutes as we did in the
Journal writeup continues apace. Basically whenever I have some free time. I
hope to finish the 17th and 18th of September before I go home today. I'll be
hosting a Thursday night thingy for the first time in a while tonight, what
with one of my ex's being about to give birth (possibly this evening, who
knows?) I imagine I'll get a couple of her housemates who want somewhere to go
for the evening. Who knows, they may end up staying the night if the birth
happens shortly. Contractions are quite strong now apparently.
[15:55] Most of the morning was spent figuring out how to deal with the mass
of things I need to do today. This has meant that I haven't actually done
any of them yet. Especially as, even though I don't feel jetlagged or ever
particularly tired, I just can't be arsed to get back into the saddle with
regard to work yet. Still, needs must and there's things that need doing.
Happily one of the things that needed doing was to say hi to Elaine who came
over to print out a job application for a post within the Institution. This
gave me the chance to rave about some of the highlights of the trip to someone
new, which is turning out to be a real pleasure as every time I remember
something I seemed to have forgotten.
I've started writing up my journal but, given the amount I've got to do, by
the time I'm finished no-one's going to be interested in reading it except me
I think. I'll make an effort to get it done as quickly as I can, as well as
getting the photos up.
Climbing tonight I hope. I imagine I'll be more awake than this time on
[09:00] Well, I'm back.
All present and correct. A few new scars, a few bruises which are beginning
to fade and feet with soles that'll withstand just about anything except
molten lava. Oh, and one hell of a tan. Photos (1078 to whittle down) and a
complete journal of the entire adventure to come (backdated aproppriately, so
those of you reading this on my site rather than on LiveJournal will need to
flick back to September to read them), also I need to learn how to use a
Anything happen when I was away?
[19:00 GMT] OK, I'm home. Just some basics at this point as I'm really
The transit area in Brisbane is very well catered for with a book shop. I
spent most of my time waiting for the next flight reading a book on
alternative history before my name was called over the tannoy to confirm that
I was in the airport and what seats I was going to be in for my next two
flights. Once that was done I got some food and settled down to read some
The short hop from Brisbane to Singapore felt much shorter when I fell into
conversation with a girl from Australia and watched a film or two. We ended
up chatting all the way through the transit time in Singapore and elected to
sit next to each other for the mammoth flight from Singapore to London. It
was nice to find the airline people so happy to help. As a result we talked
and nattered most of the way home (for me), especially as the seat back
entertainment systems crashed for a good few people on the plane (they're
running on WindowsCE). We had a fun time, exchanged contact details, all
things you do when you meet someone fun on a long-haul flight.
What was cool was that the person who met her at Heathrow was happy to give me
a lift to Paddington so I didn't have to get the Tube all the way from
Heathrow to Kings Cross.
The loneliness didn't start to kick in until I got on the train from Kings
Cross. By the time I was unlocking my front door (covered in cobwebs, despite
the generous visits by friends to make sure the place was OK) I just wanted
some company, but there was none to be had. I tried to go climbing an hour
ago but after being woken from sleep by the knock on the door I decided that
it would be safer for all concerned if I went back to bed.
[07:45] So I read for a good long while as Anja slept after returning from
her walk around town. Eventually Penny arrived in a minibus taxi similar to
the one which had taken us to the Millennium Cave, on this one had had all of
its upholstery redone in pink PVC. No, I don't know why. We drove through
the steadily worsening rain to the airport on the outskirts of town. New but
unexciting the building was open plan and airy. We sat in the foyer and
watched what seemed like the rainy season begin. it poured down,
ceaselessly. Planes came and went every so often until it was our turn to
watch our luggage be carried over to the 22-seat Twin Otter waiting to take
us to Efate. One hour and ten minutes of turboprop-driven rattling through
the wet Vanuatu night found us touching down in Vila. After dickering with a
taxi driver we managed to negotiate a fare that would take Penny to her five
star hotel and Anja and I to our backpacking hostel. Penny's hotel looked
stunning, the Treetops Lodge and Bungalows, even by night, seemed pefectly
good for sleeping in. The taxi had pulled up outside a wrought iron gate at
around 20:30 and after some standing around I realised the gate was open and
the taxi drove in. We were met by the owner's wife who showed us to the
accommodation block which was lovely, if as basic as the price per night
signified. There was no-one else there other than an Australian woman who I
never got to see owing to her being out when we were in. The room was nice
and I offered Anja the double bed seeing as I was only going to be using mine
for about seven hours. My flight was at 07:00 this morning.
When I explained to the woman that I wouldn't be getting the inclusive
breakfast in the morning owing to my early start she vanished and returned
with some sausages and rice to cook for myself. I have to say that
sausage-fried rice really is very, very nice when you're hungry. We sat
around for a while enjoying the silence and companionship we seemed to have
developed before heading to bed.
Anja set her phone's alarm because I wasn't sure mine would a) work, b) wake
me up. It was a good job she did, it turned out that owing to crossing the
International Date Line weeks ago my phone was a day out of date. Anyway, I
was awake for 05:15 this morning and had a lovely shower. I bade my goodbyes
to Anja who promptly went back to sleep. She may come to the UK in November
to visit a friend in London. The odds aren't bad on her coming to see
Cambridge for the day some time then.
The taxi I'd arranged the night before was waiting at 05:45 so I was whisked
through a slowly awakening Vila to the airport where a check-in went by in
seconds and I spent the last of my Vatus on a delicious piece of carrot cake
and a coffee. Boarding the 737-300 was done from the tarmac rather than a
skyway and I was seated next to a Scot and his daughter now living in
Australia. He spends one month on, one month off flying helicopters in
Papua New Guinea helping to build an oil pipeline. Among other things he's
flow Chuck Yager deer hunting. How's that for a claim to fame? However when
he discovered I was in in IT he spent the remainder of the flight quizzing me
on how to fill in internet dating site profiles for best effect. Like I know
anything about that?
Next stop Brisbane.