What a load of crap!

So today I was doing a safety inspection of the M20 and A20 through Kent. I stopped in one of the laybys on the A20 to call in a defect to the communications centre, and this is what I found. I wish I hadn’t.

Sadly this is the kind of stuff that the laybys on our network have to deal with; people not planning their journey properly and getting caught short, which then end up using the “outside toilet”. At least this one used something to wipe!

Needless to say I also called this in to get cleared up! Disgusting

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I attended my temporary traffic management basic course today.

This has simply got to be one of the easiest tests I have ever done! It really is a basic course as the name suggests. It’s a quick run-through (over several hours of course) of the different types of traffic management. 12A/B, 12C, and 12D.

The course explains each type of traffic management and the tickets needed to do certain things with each. It also highlights basic health and safety within the industry, types of equipment used, how to maintain a closure and safety zones within a closure etc.

The test centre used was based in Chesham, and the instructor was someone who I have worked with previously. I did the course with 7 other people, 1 of which I work with from the A21 depot, so it was quite an intimate affair.

There was an array of people on the course. Only 3 of us had any experience of working on the roads. One was a taxi driver, one is an instructor for first aid, two unemployed, one warehouse worker, and one farmer.

We all passed the course with flying colours with a score of 20 out of 20. All in all it was a good course with good instruction, but as the name of it suggests, it is basic, but it’s the first step into traffic management.

If this is something that you would like to do, you can find more information on the Lantra website here – https://www.lantra.co.uk/course/temporary-traffic-management-basic-course

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Bucket list quest

Holy moly its been a long time since I’ve written anything on my blog. I think it’s about time that I took up writing again.

A few things have changed since I last updated everyone. I can officially tick a few things off of my bucket list, my career has changed as a highway inspector and I’ve had a whale of a time with the kids.

Number 75 – Own my own car
I can officially say that I own my car out right and have fully owned it since September 2015.

Number 28 – Own a house
I’m going to say that this is complete as I now own a 2 bed flat in Maidstone. I purchased the flat in July of 2017 as part of a shared ownership scheme.

Number 59 – Eat sushi
I did this, but I can say for certain that I will never be doing this again. It was absolutely disgusting.

There are two that I can safely say that I will be completing this year as well;

Number 85 – Get my tongue pierced again
Number 88 – summit Ben Nevis.

Number 85 I will get done on my birthday this year as a treat to myself. I will be 35 and I don’t want to leave it any longer.

Number 88 will be happening on the week of 27th July 2020 when I next visit Scotland. I am taking my son on a week long holiday and the aim of the holiday is to climb Ben Nevis and summit it.

As for my career – well. I am now a fully trained and qualified highways safety inspector, and I currently look after the M20, A20 and A21 within Kent and Sussex. I perform both safety and service inspections of all 3 of the roads.

I am currently also training to get my traffic management tickets. As of 17/01/2020 I now have the 12D M7 ticket, which allows me to audit 12D traffic management. Monday 20th Jan 2020 I will be going for my TTMBC ticket, then following that up with the 12A/B 1 dayer and then training to be a 12A/B operative meaning I can put traffic management out on high speed roads.

Reason for getting the traffic management tickets is so that I can add to my inspection knowledge, so if or when I ever see some traffic management out on the network that doesn’t look right, I can say for certain if it is good or not without asking others to intervene on my behalf.

Career progression

I have moved on from being a co-pilot to one of the other inspectors and I am now looking after 3 of Kent’s major roads. The M20, A20 and A21. This is a huge step up for me from what I was doing.

When I first started I knew the roads as they were displayed on a map, but actually being out in the field, it was almost like having to learn them all over again. It has and still is taking me a while, but I’m getting there. What looks like a straight bit of road on a map is most certainly not straight in person, and this is what confused me.

On a weekly basis I am performing the safety inspection of the M20 and A20 on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. The A21 at the time of writing this is now being inspected every 14 days. This is something I argued for as it was once every 28 days, but the timescale for the inspections hadn’t considered the age of the road, the amount and type of traffic it gets, and how severe the defects can get in 28 days if they are nearly reaching a state where they require attention, but at the time of inspection do not.

I have been working with Balfour Beatty during their works on the M20 for Operation BROCK and helping them with their snagging process. Picking up mistakes or questioning certain repairs etc. making sure my company would be happy with the state of the road once it gets handed back over to us.

I have recently been in contact with Kier regarding the state of repair through the M20 where they are currently building the Smart Motorway and working with them to get the road back to a good standard since they have taken over. This seems to be progressing well, although it has only been two weeks, so we shall see.

I have also been helping other departments with their learning and career progression. They will tend to come along with me during my inspections and learn more about the road, why we have defects, what causes them, how they are identified, and how my team collects data on defects on the network. Next week I have people from two different departments coming out with me for this very purpose. Two guys from the NCC (my old job) and one from a different team.

I enjoy this kind of work and working with people who are keen to learn. As long as they are willing to put in the work and learn, I’m more than happy to keep this up.

Highways Inspector

That’s my new title! I applied for the position back on August 5th. I had my interview on August 30th and I started on October 30th! I now have a fully signed contract.

It’s been my ambition to become one of the highway inspectors for the best part of a year now. I had shown a clear interest in the role by spending time speaking to and driving for the inspectors, so when an official position opened up for the role I was happy!

I sat down and spoke to my then current boss and talked it through with him. He signed off on me applying for the role. Surprisingly he helped me a lot with the application, with my CV and helping to prepare me for the new role – for this I will be extremely grateful!

At the moment due to staffing issues I am still being shared between my old role and my new one. Primarily though I am now a highways inspector.

A lot of things will be changing for me over the coming months. The night shifts will be going, the long journeys to work will be cut down to just 14 miles instead of 40, and my hours will be cut from an average of 60 a week to just 37.5.

I believe all of my official training will begin in the new year, so I will be going back to college to hopefully do the highways inspectors course and the street works course, and I’m sure if I push for certain other things I can also do those too! Free education people! When its available take advantage of it – Knowledge is power!

There isn’t too much more I can tell you at the moment as I’m still finding out stuff for myself. I am excited for what next week will bring! For now – enjoy a mug shot of yours truly!

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Football

The guys at work know I like to use my camera, so they suggested that I come and take some photos of their football game. I’ve never taken any photos of a football match before and I was anxious that I wouldn’t be able to get any good snaps of the guys playing. Nevertheless, I said I would go along but warned them all that the photos may not be any good.

They were playing at 3G pitch in Sittingbourne, which wasn’t too far from mine. I didn’t realise just how close it was so turned up around 20 minutes early.

Kick off was at 2pm then a trip to the pub for drinks afterwards. I took a fair amount of photos while at the game, some of the better ones are below.

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The Food Challenge

Completing a food challenge has been one of the things I have wanted to do for a while now. I didn’t want anything too huge but as with all food challenges there are of a certain size or that wouldn’t be challenges!

A few of us from work decided we would head to a Flaming Grill as they have some cheap challenges. There were four of us in total. I had the 32oz steak and chips and the other boys had a the 24oz burger with chicken, bacon, and chips.

When the plate arrived I lost all confidence in my ability to get through this thing alive. The steak was bigger than the damn plate!

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The boys faces when they got theirs was pretty much the same as mine! The size of their burger! Christ!

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As there was no time limit on the challenge we decided that we would take our time. We didn’t haven’t to be anywhere afterwards. I cut mine up into nice small pieces and worked my way through the steak. After about an hour I had finished the steak and half of the chips. I was reaching my limit.

Thirty minutes of chatter and I decided to pick at the remainder. I finished the chips – this left me with the onions, onion rings, tomato, mushrooms, and peas. The onion rings were easy. Down they went.

Next came the onions and damn they tasted disgusting. They had been sat under the steak the entire time cooking away on the hot plate that it was served on. They were burnt, gooey and tasted like ash and were mixed in with some of the mushrooms. I left those for a while and started on the peas, tomato, and other mushrooms.

I hate mushrooms – I don’t think they even lasted more than a second in my mouth. They were swallowed so quick. The same happened with the tomato. The peas were quite nice though. Everything is gone now except the onions and a few mushrooms.

At this point I look up at the boys and they had got through about half of their meal. Hardly touching their chips and other sides. It looks like I had to do this one on my own.

Each and every bite of the onions and mushrooms made me want to be sick. I was so full my stomach was hurting, and they tasted so gross. Finally after 2 hours and 30 odd minutes of the plates arriving I had finished. I had completed my challenge! I had been victorious. I was a champion! I even got my certificate to prove it!

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A Night at the Hilton

Up at 4am, working 10 hours, 90-minute drive to Gatwick, and then 10 hours of drinking.

Well that was my day in the simplest form. Obviously there was much more to it. There was an award ceremony, photos, silly antics, meet and greets, laughs, eye candy, and an all round drunken time.

As our company lost their contract it will be our last ever winter ball sadly, however a cracking good time was had.

I left work at 4pm ran to Asda and grabbed some vodka and then made my way to the Hilton. I arrived just before 6 and got straight into the shower. Shortly before 7 the friend I invited turned up. Drinks in hand we headed into the crowds and mingled.

Dinner and celebrations started at 7.30. After the awards the live music started, and the drinking began.

At about 10pm a photo booth was set up where people could dress up and take photos. I had to get in on it this year. We grabbed a few friends to come and join us to have a laugh. I even grabbed someone from upper management!

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Find Your Stuff

The other day I decided to treat myself to some new clothes and trainers. I had it delivered to work as I knew I was working nights, and didn’t want to be disturbed at home. I have had stuff delivered here before and it was fine, so I thought I would do it again.

Around 11am this morning I received a text message and email from the delivery driver saying that my stuff had been delivered so I was excited to get to work and look at my new stuff.

I arrived at work, opened my package only to find it had already been opened. I was greeted with the following.

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Needless to say, but I wasn’t too impressed that my package had been opened and my trainers hidden. Nevertheless I followed the clues and kind of enjoyed it.

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Clue 2: “If finding your shoes is painful seek medical attention”

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Clue 3: “Are you a FAN of treasure hunt?”


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Help Molly to walk

A charity was picked for our three peaks challenge next month and as you can probably guess from the title of this post it’s to help a little girl known as Molly.

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Molly has cerebral palsy, which causes the muscles in her legs to become tight and very painful. At the moment Molly is using a walker or a wheelchair to get around, but she has one single wish – to be able to walk without pain.

There is an operation available for Molly in the USA that will fulfill Molly’s wish, but she needs your help. The operation, travel and after care is quite expensive and costs around £60,000. You can help Molly’s dream become a reality. You can support her by donating to her just giving page.

https://www.justgiving.com/Mollys-wish-to-walk/

Thank you for taking the time to read this and decide to donate to help Molly’s wish become a reality. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.