Monday 10 November 2003
hi honey, I’m home…
Apologies for the mess. The builders have been pretty untidy, it seems. The archives look like a bomb has been let off back there. Don’t look unless you are of strong constitution.
More soon, including a proper update on what the hell has been going on around here lately.
Tuesday 11 November 2003
Comments welcome on the new design, by the way. It needs some tweaking yet, but feel free to say something nice about it.
Still tweaking the layout. The archives still look ugly. The comments should now be readable (please let me know if they are not), and the front page shouldn’t need any left-right scrolling (yeh?).
This is more difficult than it looks. I should be working too.
I promised an update on what has been going on during my month-long hiatus. Contrary to rumours spread by Dead Kenny (who has done a fine job of keeping you up to date with things Brighton and Hove Albion-ish), I haven’t been exploring illegal substances or doing anything that could really be described as thoroughly outrageous. However, the following did occur (in no particular order):
- Brighton appointed a new manager in the form of Mark McGhee. I think this is a good choice for Brighton in the short term, but it is unlikely that he will stay with us much beyond the end of the season, particularly given the lack of a decent stadium facility.
- There is a "new" Weebl and Bob
- My brother Tim and his long-time girlfriend Jane surprised just about everyone by announcing their engagement at the weekend. Huge congratulations to them! I think everyone had just about given up on them ever marrying, what with their joint cat, joint mortgage and his-and-hers mobile phones – it never seemed as if they wanted the hassle of a ceremony. Still, a chance for yours truly to wear a suit and stand up in front of a crowd of people and talk for a few minutes. Potential best man speech topic ideas welcome.
- Mo restarted content creation, which is a good thing.
- I travelled to Amsterdam for a few days to attend Hortifair at the RAI, which was both hard work and tiring. I went with Mike, one of the people supporting PFE, and we had a useful and enjoyable time meeting lots of companies at the fair as well as sampling the products of the local restaurants. On the last morning, we even managed to fit in a very quick tour of the Van Gogh Museum, where we had an interesting discussion on the merits of James Cagney and Jimmy Stewart as actors, and also concluded that much of Vincent’s daubing was driven by purely commercial motivation, rather than much in the way of artistic desire. At least, that is the impression that much of the museum gives – I’m sure that there is an art historian reading this who will disagree.
- Some bright spark set fire to Woolworths in Chichester city centre, causing some considerable damage to the facade.
- The final parts of the refurbished Waitrose have opened. The coffee is pretty good.
- I moved grayblog to new hosts and installed MT. The hosts are a lot cheaper and offer better support and many more facilities. MT is very powerful, but almost has too many features for a time-poor site owner like myself.
- I’m sure that there were loads of other things, but I can’t think of them at the moment.
Some of you might be wondering why I disappeared from the scene. Well, partly it was because grayblog was drifting a little and had lost its way. I hoped that taking a break would help me to find my blogging mojo once more. It also afforded the opportunity to at least get started on some of the boring back end changes that needed to be made in the hosting and CMS arenas. As you have probably realised, there is still more to do on that score.
But one of the principal reasons was that I had found myself to be very short of time indeed. Much of that is a product of the pressures of work.
In addition to all of that, a little while before I took my blogging break, I met Hels. She’s made me promise not to write too much about her here, so I will not say much more than that for now. Suffice to say that she is beautiful and fun, we are very happy, and have all sorts of plans, including a weekend break in Copenhagen at the end of the month which I’m really looking forward to.
So, what news have you lot got?
A quick straw poll. As some of you may have noticed, I initially designed this new look on a 1280 x 800 resolution screen. The first wave of comments made clear that a lot of you do not work at that resolution. So I’ve rejigged things so that it works fine on 1024 x 768, which I believe is a much more common resolution setting. However, anyone on 800 x 600 will probably need to scroll left-right to see everything due to the width of the header graphic.
How many of you are on 800 x 600? And, if you are, is it a huge problem to scroll back and forth?
One of the things I did during the hiatus was to travel up to Twyford in Berkshire for the village fireworks. OK, the fireworks were not the main reason for me going to the scene of so many Scaryduck stories. What I was really there for was the leaving party for my friend Penn, who has given up her job and travelled half way around the globe to Nepal to work for three months or so in a children’s home in Kathmandu.
Penn is sending regular emails to friends, family and supporters back in the UK. I’m going to reproduce them here, exactly as she sends them to me. Here are the first two. I hope that they will make you think…
well what can i say there is so much to tell you! I have been so up and down it has been a real roller coaster ride but i think that am finally setlled here.
So let me tell you about my placement. I am working at Siphal children development home which holds somewhere in the region of 60 children ranging from 2 1/2 years old to 14 years of age with about half of them being under 6! I thought i would be able to cope with what i saw there and that i had prepared myself well enough, but that is complete B.S nothing can prepare someone for what i went into. The kids are completely beautiful and amongst the happiest kids i have seen which is completely amazing when you view their circumstances. These homes are built for children whose parents are in prison serving life sentences! 16% of marriages in Nepal will end in murder and usually the husband killing the wife, this is a common thing here and not unheard of or shocking to the locals at all. the bad things is that as nepalese homes are small 3 out of 4 of my kids will have seen the murders take place or will have been in the same room. The nepalese state will not allow fostering or adoption of these children as they know where their parents are! The kids then go and live in the prison with their parent once every six months for one week. This is all completely ridiculous when you think they will be adults when or if their parents survive and leave the prison.
The home is a huge damp building that would be demolished at home and has plain white mildew covered walls. the play ground is a dust yard with a rusting swing set which the kids love. And the place reeks as their toilet is a huge tiled room which the kids stand at the door to pee and pooh into as they have not really been shown better. But the dumb thing is they are happy smiling kids – ok they all have continuous colds and eczema from the damp but they are great.
so my first day was horrifying and i came away feeeling that i could not have an impact there. The kids loved me being there and some call me sunshine as they say my hair is the same colour or dolly as i look like a dolls head which they play with (or so they think). They clamber all over you and queue to be cuddled as they now associate the westerners with affectionate people.
So i came away upset and wanting to come home and ignore this desperate, poverty stricken scenario as it was too much to cope with and then i felt disappointed in myself as i thought i was better person than that. Then Craig (thank you gorgeous) sent me a little adage about starfish and i decided that i had to put the shock and my own needs aside and help these kids. So i went back yesterday and spoke with the head of the home (which is no mean feat as his english is not good ) and we designed activity time tables and i am going to buy a load of paint and fabric and redecorate their stdy rooms with murals and floor cushions put bag pegs up that sort of thing! I hope in doing this they have not just seen another westerner who cuddles them alot and then buggars off after two months but they have a slightly better world to survive in.
One of the most amazing things about these kids is their hunger for knowledge and willingness to learn i have NEVER seen this level of eagerness in a child before!! Three year olds know their alphabet in english and nepalese and can write to a high level!
So i am now extremely positive about the whole thing and have the other volunteers giving me hours of their time here and there as a lot of them are in schools and not homes so i want them to help me out.
The other volunteers are Claire who i share a room with, who is absolutely lovely and we get on very well and she reminds me alot of Bear, simon, mark, Penny (i am now pitstop to aviod confusion), claudette, anna, ellen, luke, harry, andmatthew. They are all fabulous and its quite a family unit i was really upset on monday and home sick and they all rallied round to cheer me up and talk with me. It is quite amaxzing how close we have all become. I have all ready been labelled as organiser and comedienne as i came in and sorted out beer kitty, the resource cupboards and can tell everyone where all the bargain shopping is!! and of course i also have a smutty or cheeky reply for anythign put to the table. We now have a nice routine of dinner, out for a beer and then back for the cards and beer club(monday – friday national curfew of 10.30 – 11pm)! The food is fine and i do not feel like i am starving to death and i look forward to the meals as it is nice to see everyone at the end of the day!
Right i think that is enough to keep you all going! I have a bad cold so i am now off to buy some antibiotics (which cost 55p) and going to bed for the day so i may not email for a day or so and try to get better – apparently getting sick is part of the induction and i am the last person to do so in the group , but it does make you feel rotten.
Missing you all and i hope that you are well – bear with me on keeping up with the emails i have a lot on my plate this end but please keep sending them as they cheer me up no end. I will send some pics on the next email as the computer i have downloaded them onto is busy.
ah helay batola (see you later)
Penelope the determined
PS Big bruv the kids adore my yellow hat and it is a great source of amusement for the crew at home!
This is the second mail:
I hope that you are all well and England is not too cold for you!!
Firstly let me start with an apology- I am sorry if i am not able to respond to all of your emails individually I am currently averaging 12 emails per day and i simply do not have the time to respond individually to them all! But please keep them coming as they are fabulous to recieve and cheer me up no end!
Well what can i tell you so much has happened since we last spoke. I am cured of my bout of tonsilitis and i am now fighting fit, but none the less it has been a tough few days. Saturday i finally lost the plot and had the biggest temper tantrum after a fight with the nepalese communication system!! I think that was really a a turning point for me as at that point i had to make a decision to find a way to feel better or come home, and seeing as you are getting this email you probably realise i am staying.
I have always considered myself a strong and independent person who could cope with most things but you honestly have no idea how different things are here! Have you ever been stood in a queue at shop and looked at the other twenty closed tills and wonder why no one is working on those and are simply stood around chatting about last nights eastenders (which by the way i am really missing). Well take that level of frustration and multiply it several hundred times and that is what you have to endure here! everything comes five days after it was supposed to be here and then three hours later than the time FINALLY agreed. Chuck into this mixture some home sickness, tiredness cos it is impossible to sleep beyound 7am as the world and their wife are kncking down the odd wall or out in the streets demonstrating how well their horns work and you are part of the way there!
SO i have devised myself a new routine and have booked loads of stuff to do out of town at the weekends! And i am throwing myself into the work at the home. This weekend i am going into the mountains to do some white water rafting and the thought of being out of the city is overwhelming.
The work at the home is coming along well though that too has been a slightly surreal experience! When i began to paint my study room most of the teachers and home helps came to watch as nepalese women are notoriously lazy and also alot of the people have not seen painting done particularly with rollers! so as i painted to my audience of seven adults and numerous children i began to realise that this is why i am here! not only to brighten rooms , but also to show the people things they have not seen before and learn more about myself! I have learnt that i am perhaps more human than i expected but also when push comes to shove also a strong and very determined individual!
Mr. Oli (the home father) has asked if i would give them a photo of myself as they would like to build a small prayer temple to me!!! Wow i now have a serious ego problem to cope with too. It would seem that in years of volunteers they have just been prepared to accept the state these children live in and not aplpy themselves to change it. The very fact that i have asked to paint is in itself a surprise to them and when i ever i walk around the school every one starts mimicing the action of painting walls – which i have to say makes me chortle and is a welcome change from the action of swigging poo! I have also received a proposal of marriage from one of the nepalese men we know – not for himself but for his son who should be mature enough in the next ten years!!! When i explained that i have a boyfriend whom i was very happy with he asked if I had friends he could send. Apparently any tempted parties would have their own clothes and bed ! Now there is an offer you do not get everyday!
The kids continue to be amazing as i washed out my brushes and rollers in the stream behind the home they all started to giggle and scream i was quite alarmed at this and called Mandira to translate what they were all shouting! The kids were delighted as they thought i was turnign the water into milk and sending it to the gods, no amount of reasoning could convince them otherwise and before you know it they are singing to songs to me as i am making their god happy. Even the monkeys came to see what was going on and looked at me in the oddest of fashions! then later that day Khilan (one of my favs – i know i know but its hard not to ) was pulling me to the courtyard and said please miss i have football and there was an old carrier stuffed with rubbish that he had tied to make a sort of football shape. The kids and i played with this for 30 minutes until it burst and then i provided a new carrier and you would have thought i had given them the world. There is nothing as beautiful as such a simple joy and it truly makes your heart ache.
This is quite simply a journey of paradoxes for me…
Right i now have to go and chase down things that i was supposed to have saturday so i will bid you all Nameste (good day – literal translation bless your soul and future) and leave you with this thought.. Next time you run the hot tap in the kitchen to rinse your plates etc just think that is probably more hot water than i have seen since i have been here.
Missing you all terribly and look forward to seeing you all in the new year
All my love and warmest wishes
I’ve emailed Penn, and discussed what help we could give. She thinks that a parcel with some toys suitable for children aged 3 to 12 would be useful, as well as clothing for that age group as well. Can you help? If you can, email me and we shall see what can be done.
Sounds like there are problems viewing this site in Mozilla. I’ll try and work on it over the next few days, but I’m up to my neck in work and life at the moment, so free time is at a premium. I will crack these problems, though. I promise!
Wednesday 12 November 2003
Today, I’ve been at the Southern Growers Exhibition at Sandown Park Racecourse. This is a small regional event, a tiny fraction of the scale of Hortifair that I attended last week. But it is the regional event closest to home for me, so I usually make a point of attending it, partly to see what business opportunities it might present, but also as it is usually a good chance to catch up with a few long-time horticultural friends.
In fact, this year I managed to achieve both of those objectives, making handy new contacts for PFE, refreshing a few existing contacts, and also meeting up with a few friends for a coffee and to catch up with news and gossip. So, overall, a very worthwhile outing.
In other news, I’ve received an offer of help for Penn. If you are able to help, please mail me – you won’t be alone. Aside from Hels and me, my parents and one of PFE’s backers are helping to put together a parcel. If you don’t want to send actual "things" you might like to help by sending cash that we could use to buy things to send, or to pay the costs of shipping whatever we can muster to Nepal.
I can’t make it to this as I shall be in Copenhagen, but if you live in the UK and have a blog, then I’d recommend that you go. If you’ve never been to a blogging event before, don’t worry – a more friendly, diverse and interesting group of people you could not wish to meet.
Thursday 13 November 2003
45 minutes, not out
On Saturday, I’m giving a presentation to the British Clematis Society entitled "Plant Breeders’ Rights for Beginners". This will be the first time that I’ve given this talk – I’m always a bit nervous about any subject that is new, as I’m always concerned that there will either be questions that I’m not able to answer, or, worse still, someone there who genuinely knows more about the subject than I do. Whilst my skills at flanneling are world famous, even I can get a bit flustered sometimes.
I’ve just been sent the directions for the venue, and it is being held at Essex County Cricket Club‘s County Ground in Chelmsford. I wonder if I should take an autograph book?
Beer on the way home with Sarah, Pol and Jo. I now have hiccups.
If you are not already signed up for Secret Santa, then you should do so soon!
Friday 14 November 2003
Pictures from Nepal
A new mail from Penn…
They are of a fairly low quality so may not be that clear but i will show you the high quality ones when i get home!
Hope you enjoy them see you all soon
Hels and I are on a mission – to get as many people as possible to go to her local Indian restaurant, the Kirthon, in The Pantiles in Tunbridge Wells. We’ve been there twice now, and had the best Indian food we have ever eaten – incredibly tender meat in the creamiest and most flavoursome sauces you could imagine. The sauces are laden with herbs and spices, but are not hot for heat’s sake, so you can actually taste the flavours and not run screaming for the nearest fire extinguisher.
The service is excellent, and there is a huge plasma screen at one end of the restaurant which is always showing a Bollywood film (or the S Club 7 video, depending on their mood!). Their prices are very fair too, and they also offer a takeaway service.
The only problem with the Kirthon is that it just does not seem to be busy enough to be a sustainable business. So we are on a mission to get more people to go there, as it would be almost criminal if ever it was to close for lack of trade. We’ll certainly be regular customers.
It’s taken much longer than I’d planned, but I’ve now got a detailed set of notes for tomorrow’s presentation, so I should be able to get through it without looking a complete arse. It’s also got a bit of structure now, so hopefully it will not be a case of me rambling aimlessly for an hour.
I’ve just realised that I don’t have a clean shirt for tomorrow night’s wedding reception, so you can guess what I’ll be doing when I get home. I think a readymeal is called for tonight, so I’ll have time to prepare a shirt and get to the pub.
If you were paying attention to the old design, you will remember that it featured a pull-down menu of music related website links. I plan to reinstate this feature on a separate page, as well as redesigning the other pages (like the graybiography) so that they match the front page. All in good time.
One of the ideas I have had for the site is to add a page of food (and drink) sites, as the epicurean is something of a passion for me. I’ve got some ideas for links – I’m thinking of purveyors of your finer foodstuffs more than links to Tesco and the Co-op – but if you have any suggestions, you know what to do.
Beer in the Nags and W2 with Paul F, Malcolm, Kearn, Phil, Dave, Gary, Jeremy, Tanya and Arron, with sightings of Chris and Kristian. W2 really needs a major sort-out, as the bar is not really doing anything to retain the regular customers. As has been said numerous times before, it needs a good bar manager, and quickly.
Sunday 16 November 2003
Well, the talk went better than I expected – I covered all the main points in a logical and complete fashion, and successfully fielded some difficult questions from a very switched-on audience. And I think I may have gained a new client who has a few problems with a plant that has already escaped into the marketplace, but may be salvagable from a commercial point of view. The venue was in the pavillion at Essex County Cricket Club, so there was a great view over the County Ground.
The only fly in the ointment was a lady who complained that I fidgeted about too much as I gave my presentation. I know I do tend to move a little, largely because I naturally tend to use gesticulation and body language to emphasize what I’m talking about, but she claimed that it was enough to make her giddy! I’ll try to be a bit more aware of it in future, but I naturally do that sort of thing as a subconscious action, so I’m not sure if I’d be able to control it and concentrate on what I was saying. Multitasking – not a strong point.
Monday 17 November 2003
Dad is [many] years old today. Happy birthday! (not that he reads this, but, you know, the thought is there and all that)
An old storeroom at the nursery is being cleared out. There isn’t much of value in there, mainly musty and moldy old bits of paper that are of no value or importance any more.
In amongst the papers has been found an original product brochure for the Sinclair Spectrum in excellent condition. In it, it espouses the product benefits of the Spectrum:
- full size moving keyboard!
- massive RAM – 16K or 48K!
- full colour – 8 colours each for foreground, background and border!
- Teletext compatible!
- complete with mains adaptor!
Anyone want to give me a reasonable offer for it?
Yes, we have no bananas…
It is a little known fact that, whilst Arnold Schwarzenegger left acting to go into politics, fellow bemuscled thesp Jean-Claude Van Damme retired from Hollywood to go back to the family fruit business.
Mo says a few words on intelligence and the problem of being spoon-fed.
Recently, I’ve seen a few television programmes (I don’t have a TV at home, so generally watch it only rarely – that’s a conscious choice on my part). Last night I saw the BBC historical drama Charles II – The Power and the Passion. I found it really quite dissatisfying because it neither spoon-fed nor informed, but rather sensationalised and confused. The relationships of the principal characters were not well explained, and rather too much emphasis was put on the sex instead of the consequences of the relationships and blackmail that were associated with the sex.
Maybe this sort of approach gets more people interested in history. I’m not sure. But I think that there are some things that are better explained in documentary form. And before you suddenly start thinking that that is a terribly dry and dusty way to present something, on Saturday I listened to a radio documentary entitled "When the World Was Young", part of Radio 4′s season of programmes to mark the 40th anniversary of the assassination of JFK. This was fascinating and interesting, and brought the history "to life" (for want of a much better phrase) far better than a docudrama might do. Clearly it had the advantage of being able to include recordings of JFK and interviews with people who were there and knew him, but I know of similar programmes in the past when actors have been used to read the words of the people of the day, and it has been set in a framework that aids understanding. Not spoon-feeding, mind you – but a presentation of the evidence that allows the listener or viewer to draw many of his/her own conclusions and opinions.
Generally though, Charles II just reminded me of why I prefer books, radio and the web to television.
This evening, as dessert to follow on from my grilled mackerel, olive pave and salad, I’ve had my first ever kiwano. It seems the kiwano is a fruit that’s been hijacked by the New Zealanders, much like the kiwi fruit. Actinidia chinensis, the plant that gives us kiwi fruit is, as the name suggests, a native of China, not New Zealand, and was originally known as Chinese Gooseberry. I guess the name was changed as gooseberries are not a popular fruit these days, more’s the pity.
The kiwano is actually a native of central and southern Africa, where it is called the Horned Cucumber or Horned Melon. It is the fruit of Cucumis metuliferus, which indicates that it is more closely related to cucumbers (Cucumis sativus) than melons (watermelon is a member of the more distantly related genus Citrullus).
If you cut it lengthways, the centre of it looks just like an odd-shaped cucumber cut along its length. It’s quite watery and juicy, but when you stick your spoon into it you see the difference. One of the names for this fruit is Jelly Melon, but I reckon Tapioca Melon or Frogspawn Melon might be more appropriate. Each seed is in a small cell of green jellyish flesh, and spooning it into your mouth is a decidedly sensual experience.
But this is much more of a textural food than a tasty food – the flavour is very subtle, milder and more tart than a cucumber, perhaps with a hint of melon or even lime as well. I don’t think you’d want to eat this with anything else as the flavour would be completely smothered by most other foods. It might be fun to add the pulp to a fruit salad though, purely for the texture.
More fruit reviews coming soon!
Tuesday 18 November 2003
A nonny mouse
I’ve amended the comments gizmo so that you can now leave comments without giving an email address, which should be a relief to those concerned about spam.
Of course, I’d still very much like you to leave your name and site address, and perhaps an email address too.
Blogging from Nepal
Plep in Nepal – making me feel mildly inadequate in that my Nepal-related content is being provided in a somewhat second hand manner. I can’t even promise blogging from Denmark next week, as I’m under strict (and quite reasonable) instructions to leave my laptop at home – not that I’d planned to take it with me anyway. However, we may have blogging from the East Midlands tomorrow.
Wednesday 19 November 2003
latest from Penn
I’m so unbelievably proud of my friend….
i hope that this email finds you all well in sunny brit!
I have just come in from another day at work in the home and today i am very smiley!!
There are many reasons for this firstly as my day started with some lovely emails and was then followed by an hour reading on the roof in the sun with a CLEAR view of the himalayas in the background. I then went off to the kids home and commenced work on my masterpiece which i have to say after soem hard work, lots of white paint, markerpens and finally soem colour is falling into place! I did this accompanied by my usual band of on watchers who finally got bored of me and left me alone with young Umesh.
Umesh is a 13 year old boy who speaks very good english and is the head boy at the home. He sat there and we chatted away whilst i painted, he asked lots of questions about england and things like how many people loved me and who they were so if you are receiving this email your ears where more than likely at some point burning!! He then sang a nepalese song to me which (and i will admit this only once) moved me to tears and i then taught him to sing Help by the beatles and some jamiroquai, in no way as beautiful or melodic as his redentition but it pleased him no end. So we had a lovely afternoon and laughed alot. I then went out and started the new activities time table which i have implemented and have in some way ended up in charge of the home between 4 – 6pm, when Mr Oli the manager puts his feet up and runs over every now and again to tell me how great i am (cupboard love me thinks!!)
I am also talking to the spanish ambassador who is working on behalf of the Spanish NGO (national grant office) about getting some more sponsorship into my home as Balminder Siphal (where i work) is the poorest in Nepal. He has been quite impressed with what i have introduced in the home both in terms of the timetable and the painting and has asked me to write a budgetary report on what i think it needs there so you never know. I am quite positive about it as he has got some people in and gave the kids meningitis vacancies (this is a really good thing for the kids, two have died this year already from it) and today there was a really nice chap (also from the spanish embassy) in who brought all of the Kindergarten kids new coats as by 5pm it is really cold here!!! SO what a good day. Adn it just goes to prove a little cheek and a bit of pleaing will get you soemwhere! So to reward myself i am off to tom and Jerries for Pizza and Red wine!
so as you can probably guess i am alot more settled here and thoroughly enjoying myself. The kids are fantastic and whilst it is hard not to have low moments at the home i am generally quite positive about some of the changes which have been made – including (try not to wet yourself laughing Caz) teaching them how to bleach the toilets!!! So now the smell of urine is no where near as bad!!
I also took some time out for me this weekend and went white water rafting on one of the fastest rivers in the world! I wont say too much justthat i certainly won’t forget it in a hurry and i am glad to be back safe and sound. Though i have to say after two days in the mountains (20kmm from the tibet border) in the most breathatking scenery I have ever seen in my life with the cleanest air, it was awful to have to come back to the noise and smog of Thamel – which i am quite certain as driven me insane – ok then further insane !! But the mountains were fantastic and i cannot wait to show you all the pics which i toko you will be so jealous. You will how ever not ency me the bus trip up there which took three hours crossed several maoui checkpoints and at some point there was no road just dirt track with no leeway on either side. I have not prayed so much in years and i will always be in some small way accoutnable to that bus driver who got me there in one piece – though how he did i will never fully comprehend!!!
Well thats the news this end. I hope that you are all well and i will look forward to seeing you all some time before(ish) christmas as i am missing you all loads
Love to you all
Penelope the Mad!!!! xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Not the East Midlands
Sorry, not blogging from the East Midlands as promised, but instead from East Anglia. I’m currently sitting in the Nyton Hotel in Ely, which is notable for being very pink. I’m not sure if it is actually pink in this room, or if it is just the lighting. Either way, I’m not finding it terribly restful, so I’m going to head out and walk to the city centre and find a restaurant shortly, as the in-house facility seems a little stuffy and deserted.
Meetings today near Banbury and Diss, and about 300 miles covered. I’m fairly pooped but it has been very productive. Foolishly, I left my camera at home, so I couldn’t take pictures of the bizarre aerials I saw in Oxfordshire, though I may have been arrested if I had done so, as they were distinctly military in nature.
More miles to cover tomorrow, with meetings near Wisbech and Stafford – probably covering a similar mileage. I’m looking forward to a restful weekend in Tunbridge Wells.
Thursday 20 November 2003
I had a three course meal last night – oxtail soup for starter, Irish stew for main course and sherry trifle for dessert. It cost me £9.45. Not in the hotel restaurant, mind you, where I reckon dinner would have been at least three times that. Instead I walked into Ely city centre, passed the cathedral (with the top of the tower illuminated) and on to a pleasant local pub, passing the boy racers in their stupid cars.
What is it about Ely and boy racers? There seemed to be dozens of them, driving up and down the main roads, in circles around the city centre, often on their own. I mean, showing off is one thing, but who exactly were they showing off to? And why are there so many Ford Capris here? I don’t think I’ve seen so many Capris in one town since Dagenham in 1976.
UN report talks bollocks – shock!
The BBC tells us of a UN report into the impact of technology on the third world (or rather, the lack of technology). Apparently:
Now, feel free to accuse me of over-simplifying here, but surely most people would rather have good health, nutrition and literacy before worrying about the difference between 56k dial-up and 64k ISDN?
There is so much in the news that I want to comment on today: George Dubya’s visit to London, the protests that go with the visit, the bomb attacks in Istanbul and, dare I say it, Michael Jackson’s arest in connection with child abuse allegations. Lamentably, I’m much too tired, having driven 300 miles today, much of it in heavy traffic and through driving rain. I need sleep. Fortunately, I have my own warm and safe home to do that in.
Saturday 22 November 2003
Last night, as I travelled between work and Hels’ home, for part of the journey I was on possibly the oldest train in regular service on the entire UK railway network. It was a diesel unit with three carriages in old green and cream Southern Railways colours. Inside was all wood panelling, curtains and 1950s formica. I reckon it was built in the 50s, perhaps even earlier, and it certainly possessed the charm of the heyday of railway travel. And it had the deepest and most comfortable seats I’ve ever sat on on a train.
Sunday 23 November 2003
It would be really useful if the National Rail timetable lookup service included a feature that allowed you to find the station nearest to a village or town (or, perhaps, postcode). For example, I need to get to Tenterden in Kent which has no railway station other than one served by the Kent and East Sussex Railway, a steam heritage railway with no connection to mainline services. Entering Tenterden into the search function on the National Rail site produces no result, which leads to a guessing game in trying to work out what station is nearest. As it turns out, the closest station is Headcorn, a fact that I only worked out by scouring the history pages of the KESR site and discovering where the old line used to connect to the main network.
Monday 24 November 2003
…and, indeed, hoopla. For Plants For Europe now benefits from broadband in the office. Thanks to BT for finally dragging our exchange into the present day.
Now all I need is that wi-fi card for the laptop.
Tuesday 25 November 2003
Nothing to see here, move along..
Apologies for the lack of content here – I’m incredibly busy, and also being distracted by this. Plus I’m getting ready for this weekend’s Danish excursion.
Normal service will be resumed. Somewhen.
Wednesday 26 November 2003
Carbon dioxide guitar
What images does this headline create in your mind?
Just a quick one as i thought you might like to see how i am getting on with my first wall in the kids study! you will see on the right there is an outline of a tree trunk – what i intend to do with that is bring the kids in (one by one – or else it would be shear bedlum) and roller their hands with green paint and make their individual hands print the leaves of the tree! I think this is quite a nice idea and makes it a tree of life! I have to say i am pleased with the way that it has come out so far as i am having to mix all the colours from little pots of resin into white paint lets just hope that it continues to go as well!!
Apart from that all is well and i am off today for a massage as i am still aching some what from the white water rafting!!
Love to you all
Penelope the Painty girl xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Typical, isn’t it? Just as I’m about to go away for a much needed weekend break with my gorgeous girlfriend Hels, I catch a cold. Still, there is only one thing to do when you have a cold – yes, that’s right, try to infect as many people as possible, with bonus points for infecting people of other nationalities. Fortunately Hels is unlikely to catch it as she has already had it.
I’m really looking forward to this weekend. Any tips from people who know the city would be welcome. We’re planning to nip over to Malmo on Sunday too, as Copenhagen seems to shut down on the sabbath. If you’re very lucky, there may be photos. If you’re really lucky, you may even get a photo of Hels. If you’re unlucky, I’ll be in it too.
Thursday 27 November 2003
I’ve just sent the parcel off to Nepal. The lady who works behind the counter in the local post office says that she doesn’t see many parcels for Kathmandu!
It was full of toys and games donated by Hels, my parents, Julie (works for my parents) and Dave, plus a couple of things I put in too. I paid the carriage with some help from my parents – it wasn’t cheap!
If this parcel makes it ok, then I’ll consider sending a second one – but I’ll wait to hear from Penn before I do.
Hooray, hooray, holiday!
This is the last you’ll hear from me until Tuesday afternoon at the earliest. I’m just about to depart for Tunbridge Wells, and in the morning Hels and I will go to Gatwick for the 0940 Maersk flight to Copenhagen. For the first time in ages, I’ll be travelling sans laptop in spite of the hotel being equipped with broadband in every room.
We both need this break desperately – I’ve been looking forward to it since the moment I booked it. It’s going to be brilliant.
See you all next week!