Scott's Going

Monday, April 07, 2008

I'm still alive

Hey there! I'm still alive and kicking, just on the other side of 30 now. I don't really notice it unless I think about it. Although I am going for an eye test on Wed, but I think that's more due to the new screens at work than old age!!

So - still in London and coming off the end of winter. I can't wait for some good weather to get outside to play Frisbee, tennis, run, cycle etc. I'm off to Turkey for a 7 day ANZAC tour in less than two weeks, which I'm really looking forward to. After a while visiting places in Western Europe gets a little same same, so this will be a nice break from that.

I had a great 30th birthday weekend in Amsterdam with a doz others and will hopefully share some pics with you. In the meantime here are some pics from the trip Justin and I did to Switzerland for 4 nights over Easter. We stayed the first night in Basel, but not much was happening there, but the next to nights we stayed in Lauterbrunnen in the Alps which was breathtaking and often cold. The highlight being paragliding. The last night was in Zurich, which was a nice city to wander around, but we didn't really find any activities or must see sights that excited us. I wouldn't overly recommend a visit there unless you need to get your jewels out of your safety deposit box in a Swiss Bank.

Work is going well. I'm picking up some new skills and extra work by doing some technical support for the Commercial Dept (of which I was already a part of) and also Estimating different types of projects as well. We recently won a Tender that I estimated which brings my total to 53million pounds so far!

Alrighty, hope you are all well wherever you are!!


Monday, October 29, 2007

State of Scott's Nation

I googled my name just now (how self-centred!) and this blog came up 6th in the list, which was surprising. It has, in fact, inspired me to write here again. I have been up to a few things since the last blog, including a great trip to Madrid and another to Stuttgart to drool over Porsches and drink the German beer.

The Formula One season is now over and as happy as I am with the final result, I'm glad I can finally have my weekends as blank pages to fill and have more time to read world news instead of F1 articles. It has been, without a doubt the best season I have watched so far, with for most of the season, 4 drivers fighting for the Championship. Being a Ferrari fan, I'm glad Kimi edged out the McLarens in the end. I'm looking forward to next year, when the Traction Control ban comes into effect. It will put more back on the driver and we might see less of these 'perfect' drives we see these days, as they can get a bit boring over the course of a race.

One of the reasons I think formula one is important, is that it promotes technology developments that we eventually see in road cars. This is not just in the performance stakes, but also in safety and reliability. Traction control has found it's way onto road cars, and now ironically being banned from where it was born. Governing bodies do realise that we need more 'green' technology development on cars, so soon will be requiring the F1 cars to employ power regeneration systems and possible bio-fuel powered engines. All very interesting (to me).

I was going to mention the final Sopranos episode I saw last night, but better get back to work now. I'll save my thoughts on that for later...

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


I thought I better write a quick blog about my trip to Scotland before I go on my next trip to Madrid in a couple of days so here we go:

A "Hairy Coo" (yes that's how you say it)

Two and a half weeks ago I flew up to Edinburgh and stayed a night before starting my Haggis 6-day Compass Buster tour of Scotland the next day. I was lucky enough to see Edinburgh while the Fringe Festival was on – the city was really alive. I did go to see a comedy show that evening and saw one pair trying to emulate the Flight of the Conchord’s style. They didn’t pull it off however.

Caught this snap out on Loch Ness (guess how I got it)

Here’s the blurb for the Haggis tour:

A spectacular adventure through the magnificent West Coast, Highlands and Isle of Skye. Get in amongst some of the world’s most spectacular scenery. We’ll go monster hunting by Loch Ness, taste some excellent malt whisky and stay in a haunted Highland castle! Six awesome days in the spectacular Highlands with fun loving like-minded travellers. An adventure you will never forget!

Blow your mind and & re-awaken your spirit! Our spectacular 6 day adventure through the amazing West Coast, Highlands and Isle of Skye is perfect for those who have the time to see Scotland properly and want to leave the big cities and tourist hordes behind and get out amongst some of the world's most diverse and fabulous scenery.

From the forbidding Glencoe, scene of fhe infamous massacre, to the magical Isle of Skye, and onto the dramatic landscapes of the far North West. Come Compass Busting with us as we explore Scotland's awesome mountains and Lochs, rich history, wildlife and beautiful Highland villages.

A view from the serene Isle of Skye

That’s what was advertised and what was delivered. It was a beautiful country and can be appreciated in its own right, without having to compare it to NZ landscapes. There are similarities, but I’m sure Scotland has some of the best Scotch Mist shrouded mountains. The weather was sunny for a couple of days, but there was ‘liquid sunshine’ on others, but we got used to that – at least it wasn’t cold.

We even got some beach time!

As with my tour of Ireland last year, Scotland was a great setting for the awesome social experience of spending nearly a week together, all day every day with a group of 24 others. We started out as strangers, but by the end of it have made some good friends whom I hope I can keep in touch with. There were Australians, Kiwis, Spaniards, Americans, Canadians, and Germans. A great mix. I hope to catch up a Spanish couple from Madrid when I’m there soon.

"The wheels on the bus..."

Debs was our awesome tour guide who flew us around the countryside in our bus, told us local myths, gave us history lessons, got us excited in the mornings and partied with us at night. It really makes a difference with tour guide like her.

As much as I love London, it’s nice to get out of the hectic pace of it all, and rural Scotland was the perfect place to retreat to. It was so easy to relax – especially on the Isle of Skye and forget all the pressures from back home. I came back so mentally refreshed and happy.

Here’s a link to some pics:

If you haven’t been to Scotland – go. If you have, you know what I’m talking about.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

London Bikeathon

So I did a marathon distance on Sunday, but it wasn’t running unfortunately. I did a 26 mile charity bike ride for Leukaemia. The London Bikeathon started at Chelsea Royal Hospital (not far from where I live) and took a route along roads and the Thames Path to Richmond Park where we stopped to have refreshments then back on the bike to Chelsea. My old flatmate Jean, organised a small team of five of us, so it was fun to be sharing the experience (and the embarrassment of wearing pink t-shirts!) We took a little under 3 hours to all finish incl. breaks and were happy to miss the thunderstorms that followed later in the afternoon. It was a fun way to help the Leukaemia charity out by raising some funds. And a big thanks to those of you who sponsored me and wished me well. I’m glad I lived up to my side of the bargin and finished the ride.

Monday, July 09, 2007

I'm looking forward to the food..

I guess if the Lord Chamberlain was COMMANDED to invite me, I should really go. Earlier on this year, I entered my name for a chance to attend this garden party and was lucky enough to get a ticket. It's only open to NZ passport holders and happens each year. I'm not a huge fan of Queenie or her dysfunctional flock, but when in London... It will be a good chance to get an inside view of the Palace grounds and to meet some royal blood like TJ did a couple of months ago and Jimmy Jangles did a few years back..
Apparently I have to wear a morning coat, a lounge suit or uniform (no medals). I'm not really sure what a morning coat or lounge suit is, but I'll try to get away with wearing my regular suit. We're not allowed to take cameras, unfortunately - I don't think the Corgis like the flashes.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Too Much Dog Roll, Not Enough Cat Bowl

I just got back last night from an adventure in the North Sea for work. You may or may not know I work for an Italian company called Saipem who are major players in the Oil and Gas Engineering industry. I work on costing sub-sea Pipelay projects, so I was sent out to the main vessel I bid for to see how it all works.

Kitted up in my survial suit

Our Chopper

On Mon night, my workmate Seamus and I flew out of Gatwick to Bergen on the West Coast of Norway. Even though the vessel we were visiting (the Castoro Sei) was in the UK sector of the North Sea, the helicopter base was in Bergen for this project. We got in just before midnight and stayed at a flash airport hotel, but had to get up at 5am the next morning to get to the Heli-base in time. I had to go through customs again as we were going to UK waters, so have a total of four new stamps for my passport.

Seamus and I had never been on a helicopter before so it was pretty exciting. Unlike regular helicopter flights, since we were going over the sea, we had to wear survival suits and life jackets as well as watching a safety video to learn what to do in case of a water landing. I was a bit apprehensive about how I’d fare in the air, because I get a bit nauseous sometimes in aircraft when they swoop around, but luckily there was not much of that and I was ok. It was a nice day and after 5-10 min flying over the fjords, we were cruising for an hour a 120knots over the water until we landed on the heli-deck of the Castoro Sei.

The Bridge

The Survey Vessel with the Oil platform in the background where the pipeline started

View of the Castoro Sei and Survey Vessel from Helicopter

Upon arrival we went through health and safety briefing and got given our hard hat, safety glasses, boots and overalls, so we really felt like one of the crew. It’s really another way of life out on this type of vessel. To put it simply it’s a floating factory that welds pipe together and lays it on the sea floor. It runs 24-7 so its always busy with helicopters, supply boats, survey vessels and anchor handling tugs coming and going. There’s two cranes constantly working as well. Life pretty much consists of working, going to the mess hall for meals, maybe going to the gym and the rest of your time in the cabin. I couldn’t stand it to be on the vessel living like that for months at a time, but people do it. There’s nearly 350 people on board, many of which are Philippino and the like, hired for there hard working attitude (or is it their cost effectiveness?) . It’s something else to watch them work on the firing line (where the pipe is welded) as a team – it’s like watching a formula one pit-stop.

Pulling my weight on deck

The pipe at the end of the firing line endtering the water

We spent two nights on board staying in our little, but reasonably well-appointed 2 man cabin complete with TV and DVD player etc. Since the Castoro Sei lays pipe at approx 1km / day (up to 4km/day on some jobs) or 0.042 km/hr, it is constantly anchored to the sea bed by 12 anchors, which are reeled in and let out to move the vessel along as well as letting pipe out. Being anchored in this way means it’s really stable so the movement (pitch and roll) weren’t too significant, which was another one of my apprehensions. Whilst I didn’t need any sea-legs pills, I did develop a sore throat and aches which seemed like the onset of the flu. I went to the onboard doctor, who sorted me quickly with some medication which helped a lot. In a way it worked out better happening there than back in London, where I would have had to have paid for medical care.

Our Cabin

For most of the time we were being shown around the vessel and getting told how the Pipelay works, which is all invaluable knowledge for us to have. We also saw the engine rooms, the winch rooms, radio room and the bridge and got to meet Wolfgang, the funny German Captain who put to bed any rumours I’d heard about German’s not having a sense of humour. The rest of the time we roamed around ourselves watching the crew work and testing Seamus’ vertigo by climbing up steep ladders. It didn’t go dark until after 12am, which was weird – it was hard to know what time it was as a result.

Automatic welding of the pipe

Heating up the pipe

We flew back to Bergen at midday yesterday with some other Saipem employees and all caught a bus into the city to have a nice meal in the sun. And a beer - there is no alcohol allowed on board!. I’m glad this whole trip is on the company account as Norway seems to cost about twice as much as things in London! A beer worked out to be 6 quid! We took a cable car up the side of a hill to get a nice view over the city and a bit of a walk in the bush. It reminded me of Wellington how close nature is to the city.

Fjords coming back to land


We flew back to London last night – man was it great to be back home after being on a ship, a helicopter, a bus, a plane, a cable car and a train all in one day!!

Monday, May 21, 2007

National Vegetarian Week

I was reading last week that this week (starting today) is the National Vegetarian Week over here (I’m not sure about elsewhere) so it got me thinkin’… I don’t really eat much meat over here because the read meat tends to be not much chop (pun intended) compared to the great stuff back home. I do however eat the pork products; ham and bacon, because they’re quite prevalent here. But when I think about the health benefits and the bad conditions animals have to live in, I’m not that opposed to vegetarianism and do admire the people who follow it.

Now I’m not saying I’m gonna get all vege on you so you have to cook something different for me when I come over, but I am going to give it a go this week to see what it’s like. I don’t really think it’s going to be too much hassle as I’m still going to have animal products like eggs and milk and I do have a couple of vegetarian dishes in my repertoire already. So starting today it’s a flesh free week for Scotty…