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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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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CSCS Certificate

It’s now the 7th of May and at 11am this morning I had my CSCS test, and as I had hoped I passed my test. This is great news for me as it opens up so many doors for me within the company.

Now that I have my CSCS certificate I will be arranging with my supervisor’s permission and assistance days out with the crews and inspectors, at least that’s the goal any way.

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Within the next 18 – 24 months I would like to start moving my career towards becoming an inspector on the roads, so learning how the MRT’s and the inspectors do their jobs will be very handy when a position does become available, but as we are nearing the end of the contract with Highways England I don’t know how this will turn out. Either way, the experience I have currently should allow me to get a job somewhere else if all goes to pot for the rebid next month.

Three Peak Challenge

On July 4th I will have the opportunity to take part in the three peak challenge with some friends from work. It has been in the planning stage for a while, so I didn’t really want to post about it until it’s all confirmed.

This is a huge opportunity for me to tick a couple of things off of my bucket list. I get to travel to Scotland, and I get to climb a mountain – three in fact!

The total round trip will be approximately 1360 miles, and we are doing it in my car!

Route

We will use our place of work as the base for everyone meeting up, and from there we will continue forward on our journey up to Scotland. We have found an amazing location to stay and prepare ourselves for the first climb in Scotland.

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I am really excited and pumped to be doing this challenge. It will be a real test of stamina and perseverance not only for me but the others in the group as well. The best thing is we are doing this to help raise some money for charity (one has yet to be picked), so if you would like to help then a page will be set up so you can donate if you wish to.

Throughout the entire journey I will be documenting it, but have yet to choose the method so others can view everything we are doing, when I need to save my documents I use sodapdf.com I can edit the content of my documents, create custom forms, annotate my files. At the end when we finally reach home I will collate everything and put it up on here for all to see.

Have you ever done the three peaks challenge? How did you find it? Is it something you would like to do again? Did you manage to complete all three peaks in under the 24 hours? If you didn’t what held you up?