Thursday 5 August 2010
Note to marketers, web junkies and the world in general. Media is a plural. Therefore, when you talk about “new media”, please do not say things like “New media is really useful” or “Is new media worthwhile for your business?”.
Friday 23 January 2009
“What would you like to do for your birthday?”
“Go to Buwwa Market and buy pie!”
Some requests I’m very happy to meet. Happy birthday, Tom.
Monday 10 March 2008
I’ll keep this brief, as I’m sure it isn’t that interesting.
I finally received a reply from Canon on Friday, eight days after submitting my complaint/support request. The reply was clearly a template, telling me that they were sorry that I had a problem and asking me to define the details of the problem "including any error codes" and to ensure that I was using the correct drivers.
No mention of a response to my comments demanding a refund.
So, I hit reply and cut-and-pasted the section from my original email that described the problem whilst adding more complaints about the shoddy level of service, repeating my request for a refund and make a not-so-subtle threat to take the matter to Trading Standards. And guess what? I got an email back telling me that my email could not be dealt with and thanks for trying to contact them.
Rummaging through the fine print at the bottom of the email, I found a link to a webpage where I could submit my reply using a form. Which I duly did on Friday afternoon. Monday night, still no reply.
So, Canon, why can’t I reply to your email request for more information by the simple step of hitting "reply" on my mail client? And why can’t you reply quickly?
I’d seethe, but I can barely bother.
Thursday 18 October 2007
From the ****ing Hell department
I drive a car that is six years old. It has an about-average mileage on the clock. We bought it eleven months ago and, since then, it has done 19,000 miles. Two weeks ago, an emissions warning light began to glow on the dashboard. A quick flick through the handbook indicated that this was an item that needed referring to a garage – a quick couple of calls to local garages (not Renault dealers) indicated that this was a problem for a Renault dealer as they have the diagnostic kit needed.
A general prod around the car also showed that a drive shaft boot needed to be replaced. So, this morning, I dropped the car at our nearest Renault dealer and asked them to service the car and give a quote for the work needed to remedy these faults.
They called me back a little while ago. They’ve identified the emissions fault (oxygen sensor) and also found two problems with the power-assisted steering (leaking pump and switch). The total bill for this work is a substantial four-figure sum and equates to 50% of the price that we paid for the car. After I’d fallen off my chair, I said I’d call them back. As you can imagine, Hels wasn’t too impressed either.
My brother is a bit of a dab-hand with cars. I asked his opinion. Apparently, the entire drive shaft shouldn’t be more than about £80 to £100. The sensor should be about the same and take only 20 minutes to fit. All-in-all, he reckons that the Renault bods think they are on to a good thing and his advice was “get it out of there and take it somewhere else”.
I’ve got to pay for the service and the work done, but otherwise I’m going to take it to the garage that my father normally uses, a garage that comes recommended with the phrase “he won’t rip you off – he tells it like it is, but he won’t rip you off”. I don’t think the same can be said of the Renault dealer.
UPDATE: I’ve just done some research. I can find a drive shaft for £105 (quoted price: £494); the oxygen sensor goes for around £50 (quoted price: £241). I haven’t found prices for the power-assisted steering components, but on this form I would expect them to be closer to £125 than the quoted price of £513. If I can’t get this work done considerably cheaper elsewhere, I’ll eat the car.
Friday 4 May 2007
links for 2007-05-04
Liege offers flights to various Mediterranean holiday destinations.
Thursday 3 May 2007
links for 2007-05-03
Search for international trademarks using the WIPO Romarin search engine.
Want to know the difference between Ltd., BV, Inc. and BVBA? This page defines all the different types of corporate structure around the world, arranged by the abbreviation shown at the end of the business name.
Kadaster is the Netherlands’ equivalent of the Land Registry and produces Ordnance Survey-style maps of the whole country at several scales. Includes online shopping (in Dutch).
Friday 27 April 2007
links for 2007-04-27
Chess emulator. Play this if you want to be reminded of how lousy you are at chess.
Tuesday 17 April 2007
links for 2007-04-17
advice and information for expats moving abroad, including job search
specialist employment agency for non-Dutch nationals in the Netherlands
Maastricht-based recruitment agency
Vodafone NL employment page. Based in Maastricht, employing 2800 people
partner site to Brabantvac. Jobs in Limburg – based in Maastricht.
Friday 15 December 2006
We got my new car. It had a fault. It went back. They fixed it. Now I’ve found another fault (switch on the rear window washer and water squirts over the front windscreen – not right). It’s not going back for that – we’ll attempt to fix it (new washer motor, say the Renault forums).
Meanwhile, my old car is for sale on Ebay. The auction closes tomorrow night and looks very much like it will sell. Possibly for more than £21.
Wednesday 6 December 2006
Dead car. Dead boring.
My car is officially dead. Not going anywhere. The entire rear brake system and handbrake assembly needs serious work. So, if anyone wants to buy a 1992 Peugeot 106 1.4 that can’t be driven anywhere, really cheap*, let me know.
As a result, Hels and I spent the whole of today looking for a replacement. We visited sixteen dealers. Count them. Sixteen. 16. One, followed by a six. I think my brain is about to melt.
It seems that there is a great shortage of cars that are in our price bracket. There are many that are very cheap (and, therefore, crap or knackered) and there are many that are more expensive than we can afford (and, therefore, very desirable). We only found six cars that were suitable candidates today, of which four were Renault Méganes. We’ve booked a test drive for our favourite of these for tomorrow morning, so I hope to have transport available again soon. This, undoubtedly, will be a Good Thing, although I would have been happier to have found some options that weren’t Méganes, just to broaden the choice.
But, honestly, there has to be an easier way. Anything we found on the internet was already sold, miles away or entirely unsuitable. Stuff in Autotrader also had the same problems. Ultimately, it comes down to getting out and pounding the streets to physically look at cars on the ground, which is tiring and time-consuming. What’s more, with so many types of cars (I’m not an expert by any means), it is virtually impossible to make meaningful comparisons even between two cars that appear superficially similar. Maybe we should just be like the Soviets and all have identical Ladas (well, perhaps something a little nicer than that).
* Really cheap = about £80 to £100, plus you have to organise a trailer to take it away.
EDIT: the test drive was a success. Surprisingly, it turns out that it is cheaper for me to insure the “new” car, so it will become mine, not Hels’s. I’m not in the least bit gleeful about this; not at all. Honest. I should take delivery (or, rather, drive 120 miles to get it) on Saturday.
Monday 27 November 2006
A pain in the cars
Lately, we seem to just go from one car-inspired crisis to another. We’ve had a situation where my car was off the road and we had to rely on Hels’s car. Then mine was fixed, only for Hels’s car to be off the road so that we had to rely on mine. Now hers is fixed – and I’ve just gone out to drive mine and found a new problem which means that it has to sit on the drive until it can be fixed.
If the financial fairy is reading this, a large cash grant would be handy at the moment.
Tuesday 31 October 2006
Full leather jacket
I’m currently selling a splendid Diesel ladies’ leather jacket over at eBay because
it doesn’t match my heels it doesn’t fit Hels any more. The sale finishes next Thursday evening. If you’re interested, email me and I’ll send you the link.
Tuesday 24 October 2006
Google and IE7 favicons
IE7 is much better at displaying favicons in the address bar than previous versions. (I’ve been using IE7 for a little while and can generally recommend it – it seems robust and the tabbed browsing is every bit as good as Firefox. Plus the increased emphasis on plug-ins means that IE7 will, at the very least, keep pace with Firefox – I expect a speelchucker plug-in sometime soon in one of the MS regular update thingies, but in the meantime I’ve downloaded IESpell).
I’ve noticed that most major websites now have a favicon (Yahoo!, BBC, grayblog, etc.), but not Google. For a company where branding and identity are so important, I find this puzzling.
EDIT: well, that’s made me look stupid, hasn’t it? Earlier, IE7 wasn’t displaying a Google favicon. I’ve rebooted since then and now it does. Shall we just say that Google clearly only thought to add one this afternoon after reading this post?
It’s not often that spam makes me smile these days. However, I’ve just been told in an email from Mr Collins Potty (no kidding!) that I’ve won £1.5million in the Watford Lottery. Watford is, of course, famous for many wonderful things, but I don’t believe that a multi-million lottery is one of them.
Monday 3 July 2006
Currency RSS feeds
Anyone know a good currency RSS feed service? What I’m looking for is something that might show live GBP exchange rates with USD, AUD, NZD, ZAR and EUR, as well as EUR against those currencies. Suggest-o.
Monday 10 April 2006
April 10th – 1.5 to 2 inches of snow. Hmm.
Wednesday 22 March 2006
When BBC Weather goes bad
Blimey. Best head to the shops for some ice creams and sunblock.
Jolly Chums’ Stories
Hurrah! Let’s play some jolly japes, chaps!
Ignore Alien Orders
(Letterbox seen in Lewes).
Saturday 18 March 2006
- I’m never going to look at a jar of Loyd Grossman curry sauce the same way ever again.
- Why don’t we have this service available here? Apparently, this company is now offering this service in Australia, the Netherlands and California. Let’s just hope that it is a matter of time, as I’d certainly feel much happier knowing that Tom’s pooped pants were being recycled.
Friday 10 March 2006
A scoop on Skype
Skype. Actually pronounced "skipe" and not "sky-pee" as I’ve always believed. Who knew?
Monday 27 February 2006
The Loire between Saumur and Angers, somewhere around Saint Mathurin sur Loire, looking upriver.
Although the river here is several hundred metres across, it is remarkably fast-flowing. That blob on the right was a lump of detritus of some sort, one of many flowing downstream. They often accumulate at bridges and around the islands.
Friday 13 January 2006
sesquipedalian \ses-kwuh-puh-DAYL-yuhn\, adjective:
1. Given to or characterized by the use of long words.
Sunday 25 December 2005
Doctor Rip Off
I caught the first ten minutes or so of the Doctor Who Christmas special. Was it really necessary to rip off Quatermass and The Pit so much?
As given to our family. No prizes, just the satisfaction of knowing you got some of the questions right. Answers in the comments please. I’ll publish the answers next week somewhen. And remember that you’ll get no satisfaction if you use Google.
REVIEW OF THE YEAR
- Name all of the orignal declared candidates for the Tory party leadership.
- England won the Ashes series 2-1. Give the results (win, lose or draw for England) in the correct order for all five tests.
- Charles Kennedy became a dad during the election campaign. What name did he and his wife give their child?
- Lucy d’Abreu, the oldest person in the UK, died this year. How old was she? (just the years!)
- Name the other three teams in England’s group for the World Cup.
CHILDREN’S ROUND (easy questions for the kids!)
- Name the lion in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.
- What sport do they play at Hogwarts?
- Name Wallace’s favourite cheese.
- How many colours of the rainbow are there?
- What’s the name of the policeman in Balamory?
- In the Twelve Days of Christmas, what did my true love give to me on the fourth day?
- What gifts did the Three Wise Men bring to the infant Jesus?
- Charlie Chaplin died on Christmas Day – in which year?
- What do you traditionally do at Christmas under Viscum album?
- There are three verses in the carol Deck The Halls With Boughs of Holly. How many “la”s are there in total in the whole carol?
GENERAL KNOWLEDGE ROUND
- If Doe is a deer, a female deer, what is Te?
- If petrol costs 90 pence per litre, how much does it cost for an imperial gallon? (within 5p either way will be considered correct)
- In which year was the original King Kong movie made?
- According the the Office for National Statistics, what are the number one names for girls and boys born this year?
- Name the capital of Pakistan.
TIE-BREAKER: In which year was the last Dodo seen alive? (nearest answer wins).
Saturday 24 December 2005
Last year, my Israeli clients all seemed to make a point of sending me emails on Christmas day, as if to say "Ha! Makes no difference to us!". It’s not a tradition that I wish to see encouraged.
So, having put together our quiz for the family for tomorrow (goodness knows why we have to do this sort of thing – I’d rather eat loads of food and then sit around being bloated than have to entertain people), wrapped all the presents (there were lots – and I only had to do the ones that I’m giving to H, as she has taken care of gifts for everyone else – delegation is the name of the game), stocked up the food and fuel stockpiles in case of unexpected snowdrifts (60% chance of snow on Monday and Tuesday could render Ruralville isolated if the gritters don’t make it out to us on Bank Holidays), we’re now fully prepared for whatever the next few days throws at us.
Expect quiet here for the next few days (though you probably won’t notice much difference from normal) except for automated posting of the quiz here tomorrow (can’t do it today in case the in-laws read it). Whatever you’re celebrating, I hope you have a good time.
Thursday 15 December 2005
Tuesday 13 December 2005
Note to Microsoft – the correct spelling of Seamus is Seamus, not Shamus. Please update your spellcheckers.
That is all.
Monday 12 December 2005
Quote of the day
Erwin Rommel. I expect you all to act on this advice today.
Thursday 1 December 2005
Friday 11 November 2005
Lined paper generator
Thursday 27 October 2005
After literally months of waiting, I’m now using a 1mbps broadband connection after BT finally completed the upgrade last night. Ruralville has been lagging behind a bit compared to other communities in the area, mainly due to our remoteness from the exchange. But BT have recently upgraded the cables to the village in order to get our tiny school connected.
Of course, 1mbps will seem very slow to those people who live in major city centres and are getting speeds that are five or twenty times faster thanks to cable networks. The truth is that many rural areas barely have broadband at all and we are usually a long way down the queue for technical upgrades. Perhaps we will see faster radio-based broadband systems introduced in the near future – they’d certainly be useful around here and probably an awful lot cheaper to install.
Thursday 13 October 2005
I’d like one of these for Christmas, please and thank you.
Friday 30 September 2005
I order my stationery from the very well-known mail order company that send you catalogues and brochures every ten minutes (top tip: unless you ask them not to send them!). Yesterday, I ordered a pack of 250 self-seal C4 white envelopes with no window. Today, I received 1000 self-seal DL white envelopes with window. They’ve said that they will send me the correct envelopes free-of-charge on Monday and that I can keep the incorrect envelopes.
I never use window envelopes. My normal usage rate of plain DL envelopes is satisfied by purchasing a pack of 50 from the local post office roughly once every six to eight weeks. So, what am I going to do with three-and-a-half years’ supply of envelopes that I wouldn’t normally use?
Thursday 8 September 2005
I had an appointment with my new dentist this morning, which I forgot due to being snowed under with work. I now have to pay a £5 penalty before they will make a new appointment for me and no new appointments are available for six weeks.
I accept that it was my fault, but it shows the state of dentistry in the UK when I have the choice of one practice in my area that accepts NHS patients and that I must wait so long for a simple check-up appointment.
UPDATE: I take it back. I’ve just checked through the NHS website and found a dentist in the next village who accepts NHS patients and has a hygienist (quite important for me) and could fit me in as soon as next Monday (although due to other things going on I’ve elected to take an appointment the following week).
Of course, I’m still an idiot for missing the appointment that I had this morning. That hasn’t changed!
Wednesday 31 August 2005
Tuesday 9 August 2005
Monday 8 August 2005
For those that have not discovered it already, Google now offer a facility to personalize their homepage. I now have mine set up so that it not only has the familiar Google search box, but also news headlines from three sources, the weather forecast, the comments RSS feed from this site, the latest news on Sussex cricket and Brighton football as well as the word of the day and quote of the day. I’m sure that, given time, I could make even more useful.
Thursday 28 July 2005
Green Flag Award
Most people understand that the Blue Flag is given to beaches that meet certain standards. But did you know that there is also a Green Flag? Parks and other public open spaces are judged on the criteria of
- being welcoming
- being healthy, safe and secure
- being clean and well maintained
- conservation and heritage
- community involvement
I’m not familiar with all, or even many, of those that have been awarded the flag this year, but the few that I do know are certainly the sort of places where you can imagine going with the family for a Sunday afternoon. Worth checking out.
Tuesday 26 July 2005
Where are all the start-ups?
Tom Coates on the lack (as he perceives it) of IT start-ups in the UK. I’ve added some thoughts on problems faced by small businesses in the UK, many of which I think are of their own making.
Friday 8 July 2005
Junk mail. Pain in the neck. But don’t the spammers realise that a message saying "now I don’t worry about the size of my penis" from someone called Georgina is probably not going to work.
Thursday 9 June 2005
Is it me, or are breasts getting larger? Or are this year’s fashions more revealing? Or is it a combination of the two?
I was walking around Chichester city centre yesterday, the first really good warm and sunny day for a while, and my eyes were watering (and not because of the sun).
Sunday 5 June 2005
One for the boys
Rachel Stevens gets fruity and gives a very important message.
There’s a long (and probably not very interesting) story about how I was given my first instruction in checking for testicular cancer from a much-older woman whilst standing alongside the A24 one evening when I was in my very early twenties. But I’ll not bore you with it.
Sunday 22 May 2005
Is this thing on?
Still alive, but away from the PC or a connection a lot lately. Normal service will resume shortly, you’ll be dismayed to hear.
In other news, the idiot who pulled out in front of me on the A27 on Friday evening whilst driving a lorry carrying gas cylinders and who then proceeded to give me some tattooed gesticulation out of the window, will find when he goes to work tomorrow that it doesn’t pay to do that when in control of a vehicle with your employer’s telephone number on the back.
Monday 16 May 2005
…but, the new BBC weather symbols, maps and displays.. crap! Where is the Atlantic synoptic chart? How the hell can you tell what’s going on? Bring back the old magnetic clouds!
Tuesday 10 May 2005
From Viking Direct – free bathrobe when you buy a carton of envelopes. Huh?
Tuesday 3 May 2005
Tuesday 26 April 2005
Plugin for Outlook
Do you use Outlook? Hopeless at backing up? Then use this plugin to automate backups of your Outlook folders. How handy.
Tuesday 29 March 2005
…due to being away from the laptop, either due to work and non-work committments or due to DIY and gardening tasks, some of which resulted in downtime on my internet connection whilst cables were taken out of the way to facilitate painting. Anyway, since we last spoke, H and I have:
- demolished the wood store in the garden
- extended the outside dining area around the barbeque
- created a new small flower bed by the outside dining area
- planted various plants including Brachyglottis, Cytisus, arum lily (Zantedeschia aethiopica Crowborough), Oenothera, Osteospermum, a cardoon (Cynara cardunculus), burnt-sugar bush (Cercidophyllum japonicum), magnolia (Magnolia stellata), two clematis (the varieties Henryi and Piilu) and assorted herbs
- sown seeds of coneflower (Rudbeckia) and sunflower
- painted the woodwork on the stairs, in the porch and in the master bedroom
- painted one interior wall of the conservatory – aqua, for turquoise fans
- painted the troughs along the side of the house and part of the summerhouse
- visited Borough Market and the Saatchi Gallery
- spent a day with the in-laws/family.
The garden is certainly beginning to take shape now, particularly as the seeds that were sown last week are beginning to sprout. I’m fairly sure that there are going to be too many of some plants if all the seeds germinate – our small garden is unlikely to be able to accommodate 70 sunflowers – so some judicious thinning-out might be called for in a few weeks time (I expect I might be able to donate some seedlings, if they come out of the ground in good shape, to Sil – depends how they all grow). We also feel like we have made some progress on the house, although we have at least two more full days of painting in the conservatory and porch, just to complete what we have started. The bathroom and kitchen have both been put on the back burner for the time being – maybe we will tackle them as autumn projects before the dark nights set in.
There will be photos, certainly of our trip to the South Bank, and possibly, if I get round to taking some, of the garden.
Also, since we last spoke, my parents’ MP has caused a furore in the Tory party by speaking his mind and then standing his ground – more on this when I have a moment.
Thursday 24 March 2005
…all day. More tomorrow, gardening and DIY permitting.
Monday 14 March 2005
There will be posts…
…but I’ve been busy. Possible subjects include:
- why I’ve been disappointed by the Supervolcano thing on the Beeb
- the return of the miscreant Dutchman
- BT’s crap billing strikes again
- garden update
- log, log, it’s big, it’s heavy, it’s wood
Watch this space.
Monday 28 February 2005
- US raps Russia and Saudi Arabia over the knuckles on human rights. One in the eye for Chomsky? I guess only if the Americans really mean what they say.
- Entire Lebanese government resigns after protests. Somehow I can’t imagine HMG resigning if ever there were massive protests in the UK. Oh. Yeh. There have been massive protests. Hmm.
- Virgin GlobalFlyer set for take off. Rather him than me.
- Clarke retreats on house arrest in a half-hearted way, whilst thumbing nose to Parliament. As is often the case, I agreed with what the other Clarke had to say (I mean Ken, of course – as quoted on Channel 4 News).
- McGhee wants Brighton to finish with 50 or 51 points – 6 or 7 points from 11 matches. Not an impossible task, particularly with matches against Coventry and Rotherham still to be played – but I have to say that I’m not too keen on some of the other fixtures between now and the end of the season.
Tuesday 15 February 2005
Top tips for larger businesses
Check the accuracy of your statements. Also, check your prices when you claim to offer own brand goods at prices that are lower than branded items.
For example, yesterday I purchased a windscreen wiper blade for Hels’s car from a well-known retailer of car components. The in-store guide and the packaging both claimed that the blade I selected was the correct one for her car. The part was priced at £8.49.
When I attempted to fit the blade this morning, I found that the fitting on the blade was not compatible with that on the armature. Furthermore, the blade supplied was four inches too long. That is not a small margin of error.
This afternoon I went to a dealer of branded parts for Hels’s car. The very helpful proprietor of the firm was able to provide me with exactly the right component – a genuine original component in a box branded with the car manufacturer’s logo – and didn’t need recourse to parts manuals or computers. The charge was £6.93. Therein lies a lesson.
When I returned the incorrect part to the well-known retailer, the member of staff neither apologised for the inconvenience, nor could he believe that it was the incorrect part. After all, his computer told him that it was the right one, so therefore it must be true.
Top tips for small business people
Being downright rude to your customers will not encourage them to place repeat business with you. Additionally, acting in a condescending manner will also lower their opinion of you. Furthermore, when telling porkies to them, it pays to be sure that they are not in a position to know that you are exaggerating.
(Yes, I’m slightly pissed off with a service provider at the moment).
Tuesday 25 January 2005
Money flowing out
Good news – the garage have been able to look at the car.
Bad news – it isn’t just the clutch cable, it’s the actual plates.
Good news – they have the parts and can fit them this afternoon.
Bad news – BIG bucks. Ouch.
Anyone want to give a grant to the Graham and Hels Foundation for Destitute Couples?
Monday 24 January 2005
Due to the car breaking down (it’s now at the garage), Monty’s appointment with the vet tomorrow has been postponed. If I find paw marks on the broken clutch cable, I’ll know who to blame.
Bad luck Monday
This is supposed to be the most depressing day of the year, isn’t it? Well, I’m not sure about that, but we are a little pissed off that H’s car has broken down with clutch failure. Bah.
Monday 17 January 2005
"Sender" of a spam received today: "Hugh Conn".
Who says that spammers don’t have a sense of humour?
Following my post the other day about this, here is a link to the actual blog.
Who knew that umlauts broke RSS?
Saturday 15 January 2005
It had to happen
Subject line of a spam message just received:
(For those that have no idea what I’m talking about, read this Wikipedia entry. I really ought to revive my old email signature that said "all your blog are belong to graybo".)
Monday 10 January 2005
I’ve just had a spam mail that has offered me the opportunity (according to the subject line) to "become a mammoth". What a great idea! With my amazing bulk, huge hairy coat and impressive tusks, I could walk around Ruralville striking fear into both of the customers at the post office! I could become a special attraction at the pub to help draw in more custom! I could even carry the shopping home from the supermarket without using a polluting car and provide an ample supply of manure for the garden! It seems like a win-win situation to me – where do I sign up?
Friday 7 January 2005
Whilst using SiteMeter to check the browsers that you all use to read this (IE 6 – 68%, Firefox – 22%, Netscape 3 – 1% – you poor thing!), I spotted one of those sidebar ads for eBay.
Umm, say what?
Tuesday 4 January 2005
Friday 31 December 2004
Oh blimey! There are only a few hours to go, most of which will be spent in the pub next door, and I haven’t written my end of year review yet! OK, time pressures mean it’ll be bullet points:
- Highlights, in roughly chronological order:
- my trip to Saumur
- birthday trip to Lisboa
- the grand tour of the low countries
- selling my flat
- finally getting to live full-time with Hels
- the grand tour of Germany
- getting married! (obviously!)
- the honeymoon in Sicily
- getting our own home in Ruralville
- not selling Hels’s flat
- generally not having enough money or time for all the things we want to do
- ummm… that’s about it really
All in all, 2004 has been excellent. PFE continues to plod along, family are healthy and happy (mostly!) and I married the perfect girl for me. You can’t ask for much more than that really.
Happy New Year to you. Come back to the same place this time next year for another exciting annual review!
Thursday 23 December 2004
To the driver of the white Astra van that passed me at around 60mph in the 40mph zone on the A27 at Lancing.
Would you like to explain your driving style to the teenage girl, tears streaming down her face, who was tying flowers to the railings by the pedestrian crossing? You know – the crossing with the big Sussex Police notices asking for witnesses to a "Vehicle/Pedestrian Collision" that occured there at 2.10pm on Tuesday.
Or are you simply on a mission to ruin another family’s Christmas?
Tuesday 21 December 2004
As a splendid housewarming gift, SIL and her husband purchased a Sony DVD player for us. So, last night, Hels brought home I, Robot from the video shop next to her office. However, the picture kept changing from colour to black and white and back again. We checked the connections (first using a SCART cable and then switching to the triple-coax lineout) and still the problem persisted. Hopefully, it’s not a problem with the machine, as that would truly be a pain.
Friday 10 December 2004
I was disappointed by this article. I was hoping that the monkeys might be trained to repair my car more cheaply than the staff at the local garage. Mind you, they could already be trained monkeys anyway, by the look of them.
Wednesday 8 December 2004
I’ve found a downside to our new home. Whilst our neighbour’s dog’s kennel is well within range of my WiFi, he doesn’t seem to have appreciated the fact. Instead of spending his time looking at the latest doggy fashions on his pooch-friendly laptop, he sits barking. A lot.
In all seriousness, his owners chain him to his kennel when they leave in the morning, and the poor little fella sits there barking for an hour or so until he settles down. I don’t think it’s very fair on the dog – his kennel doesn’t look overly warm or comfortable, and he’s on his own for a large part of the day.
So, what should I do? Get some doggies treats to give to him to keep him quiet? Speak to the neighbours about it? Or call the RSPCA inspector out?
Monday 22 November 2004
Just how many…
…shades of off-white are there? I’ve just been down to HomeBase, thinking I could get a wedge of testpots for us to daub artfully on the walls of the New House™. However, the truth is that without my new (to me) free (when purchased with any Peugeot 306) wheelbarrow and a very large sum of money, there is no way that I was going to get a representative selection. So, this evening, H and I will sit with the colour charts and try our best to decide which ones to get testers of.
And, incidentally, how can Farrow and Ball justify charging three times the price of anyone else for their magnolia paint? And would anyone want to paint "Dead Salmon" on their walls? Who comes up with these names?
Friday 19 November 2004
Only Fools and Pizza
I’ve just been down to the Italian market that is on this weekend in The Pantiles in Tunbridge Wells (mainly to go to the nearby cashpoint and also the greetings card shop). I purchased some bread for my lunch, handed over my £5 note and took the bag. The chap behind the stall said "That’ll be two quid mate! Luvvly jubbly!"
I want my money back. It said "Italian Market" on the flyer, not "East End Market".
Saturday 13 November 2004
This afternoon we took delivery of our new (to us) car. Hels seems very pleased with it. Colin, the guy who sold it to us, has very kindly thrown in a wheelbarrow. I kid you not. I’m actually very pleased with the wheelbarrow – it’s suitably cement-lined, battered and slightly rusty, and is currently in the back of Hels’s shiny new motor, much to her chagrin.
We also went to the Hardy Plant Society Sussex Group’s 10th birthday bash today. I set the group up with considerable help from several like-minded people, and it is really quite rewarding to see the group is in such good shape. Hels came with me, and had to deal with a large number of ladies-who-lunch saying "oooo! you’re Graham’s wife!" but, in spite of being thrown in at the deep end, took it all in her stride, as usual.
Friday 12 November 2004
and a half
It’s my half birthday today – six months from May 12th, six months to May 12th. Send all your half birthday cards to the usual address.
Which means I missed out on my thirty-three-and-a-thirdth birthday. Bah!
Monday 8 November 2004
- I think I have the beginnings of a cold – sore throat and general lacklustre status.
- Yesterday, we bought a car – a 2000 silver Peugeot 306. If I’m lucky, I may get to drive it once a month – for me, it’ll be the handmedown 1992 Peugeot 106. Seriously, I think we got a good deal, having spent most of Saturday and a large part of Sunday morning trawling through used car dealers (limited choice, some expensive), used car supermarkets (big choice, very expensive) and the small-ads (good choice if you don’t mind travelling, and sometimes good value, but no warranty, servicing or extras). The car we have chosen comes to us from a small dealer and has actually been used by his fiancée – he had the V5 to show it has been in her name for quite a while. Only one previous owner, a very low mileage, brand new MOT and a service history at a Peugeot main dealer. He’s also getting a minor bump on the back bumper fixed and getting a new service at the dealer before we take delivery of the car this weekend.
- Amsterdam was its usual hectic and mildly aggressive self. I can’t recommend the Botel floating hotel – although the location is great (right by Amsterdam Centraal station), the thin walls and ceilings mean the rooms are noisy. It was also particularly cold. However, flying EUJet from Kent International is a good thing – cheap and cheerful, yes, but cheaper and easier than EasyJet from Gatwick, assuming you have the means to get to Manston.
UPDATE: it seems our new car is an import, so we may have problems with insurance.
Tuesday 2 November 2004
A few current and recent news stories:
- At the wrong speed – John Robert Parker Ravenscroft, RIP. Peely once played a request for me on his Radio 1 show. Others have paid sufficient tribute to the greatest champion of original new music in the UK – I merely suggest that you put Teenage Kicks on your stereo on repeat for a few hours. He’ll be sorely missed.
- Money woes failed Beagle 2 – "The DTI [Department of Trade and Industry] should have been on the pitch getting involved, rather than cheering from the touchline and coming on as a second half substitute when things went wrong."
- Lord Hanson, RIP – "A company from here doing rather well over there."
- EU leaders sign constitutional treaty at last.
- Kilroy-Silk withdraws from UKIP whip in EU Parliament. Plank.
- US Presidential election today – if you have a vote, use it.
- China’s next manned probe will orbit for five days. Ground Control to Major Yuan Hung-Lo?
- Titan geologically "alive".
Tuesday 5 October 2004
Word to the wise
If you plan to set up mail redirection because you are moving house, it pays to be aware that Royal Mail require five working days to set it up, which I guess is not unreasonable. So be sure to set it up more than five working days before you move, ok?
Monday 4 October 2004
I have a new headset for my phone. It comes with a manual that is 225 pages long (or thereabouts), of which only 16 are in English.
So what is cheaper? Putting a slim pamphlet in the box when you know which country it is going to (and, therefore, which language is appropriate), or printing a manual that contains 14 different languages?
Thursday 30 September 2004
Currently occupying 110% of my concentration:
- the Formula 1 calendar – it impacts significantly on planning of my Garden Event at West Dean, as we must avoid a clash with the Goodwood Festival of Speed, the date of which is dependant on the Formula 1 calendar (wot no British GP???).
- trying to establish exactly how well my clients are doing with certain plant material I have supplied them with, and whether I need to arrange a trans-Atlantic cross-supply.
- dealing with some politics that some potential clients have arising from some legacy representation arrangements (though to have my main competitor described as "yesterday" is a nice boost).
- trying to help along another client who seems to have been messed about by his clients (who also happen to be my clients).
- sorting out a list of trial material required from my breeder clients to get things moving with my grower clients – upon which rests the future earnings of PFE.
- fixing up paperwork on all the house sales and purchases – too late to save Hels’s sale, but paving the way for a quick and smooth new sale as soon as we find a new buyer, as well as salvaging the purchase, which has become an all-consuming passion for me.
- oh yeh, the wedding.
Bugger this, I’m off for a pint.
Tuesday 28 September 2004
Well, the new phone has passed the test – it’s a little heavier than my old one, but the improved functionality and lack of scuffs and scratches makes up for that. However, I wasn’t impressed with the personal hands-free thingy that came with it, largely because it doesn’t have a clip to hang on to your shirt/blouse/car seatbelt/whatever, so dangles in space being a bit of a nuisance. So I’ve just ordered a Bluetooth headset, as well as a larger MMC card to slot in for all the MP3s I’ll load onto it, and also the USB to PopPort cable – all three of which are hugely cheaper if you shop around online instead of paying Nokia prices (for example, genuine cable £5.95 vs Nokia price of £15).
Seemingly in preparation for my impending stag night, my brother has today been out and purchased some traffic cones.
Wednesday 22 September 2004
So, O2 charge their old customers £59.99 to upgrade to a phone that they give for free to new customers. Unless your bills are as large as mine, in which case they give it to you for free because you are clearly too good a customer to lose.
Which is good.
So, a new Nokia 6230 is winging its way to me.
Tuesday 21 September 2004
I’ve just had a phone conversation with my business banking manager at the NatWest. He’s the most senior business banking manager for West Sussex. He must also be the only bank manager who starts his phone conversations with "Alright mate?"
Saturday 18 September 2004
Why is it that when I look to upgrade my phone, the handset that I would like has an upgrade cost of £59.99 when, if I were taking out a new contract, the same handset would be free?
Wednesday 15 September 2004
Driving along the M27 this evening, I passed a lorry which bore the name "Pratt’s Bananas". There has to be a joke there somewhere.
Monday 13 September 2004
I’m lacking focus today. Productivity is not high. Any tips?
Friday 3 September 2004
Looks like the WinXP service pack is currently downloading. Not now, please. Guh.
Thursday 2 September 2004
I’ve driven nearly 900 miles in the last four days – from Tunbridge Wells to Chichester and back, to Calais and back to procure the vino for the wedding reception (there is plenty and it is good, rest assured) and then to Holmes Chapel in Cheshire and back for the Four Oaks trade show. I trundled up and down the M6 Toll (waving to Brian as I went past his neck of the woods), observing that travelling at 75 or 80 mph consigns you to the slow lane, even though the limit is 70mph. If there were cameras at the same frequency as there are on the M25, the local constabulary could net thousands every day. And judging by the frequency of big rubber stripes on the tarmac, there would be justification for installing them.
I’m sure that there are lots of other utterly fascinating things I could tell you, but I can’t be bothered. But here are a few bullet-point observations:
- aren’t the streetlamps at Cité de l’Europe in Calais cool?
- I’ve had a filthy cold for the last few days. I seem to have given it to Hels.
- I love Jodrell Bank. I like the way that every time you drive past, the telescope is pointing a different direction.
- House sales and purchase seem to be progressing ok, although I’m being buried under requests for papers that I don’t possess. Thankfully, my solicitor seems to be on the case.
- If ever you are looking for a hotel in Cheshire, do not book the Saxon Cross in Sandbach. It’s crap – grubby in the extreme, with pathetic showers and mediocre service. Why do we do cheap hotels so badly in the UK compared to our continental cousins? (Not that I consider £50 PLUS extra for breakfast to be cheap!)
Monday 23 August 2004
Showers moving west
Goodbye to magnetic clouds, and all that. I think this is rather sad, as I’ve grown up with the familiar three-lobed cloud shapes. It’s possible to look at a BBC weather chart and instantly discern the prevailing conditions, without having to read the accompanying text or listen to the forecaster (although one should always listen to Rob McElwee as he is a minor deity after all – "There’s a deep depression moving in from the Atlantic, and we ALL know what that means, don’t we?"). I also wonder if this will mean the end of the traditional opening of the forecast (well, in days of old at least, and occasionally still today) with a North Atlantic synoptic chart – which, for anyone with even a basic A-level grounding in meteorology, provides enough information to get the general gist of how the weather will be.
Tuesday 17 August 2004
Too busy still. Spent most of today driving. Now have long forms related to flat sale to complete. Most likely will go for beer shortly.
No drama to report, so move along.
Friday 6 August 2004
Here’s one for Brian. I am no longer sure that it is my telephone that has died. The situation is as follows:
- current connection set-up – I have the BT home broadband thingy. My telephone (a BT-badged one) is plugged into the back of my answering machine (also by BT) which is then plugged into one of those mousetail adaptor thingies.
- the symptoms – when anyone dials in, I can barely hear them, and there is an incredibly large amount of noise. If I try to dial out, I can barely hear the dialtone, and there is the same noise. But if anyone dials in and gets my answering machine, they can leave a message without any problems. If I plug my telephone straight into the adaptor – i.e. not through the answering machine – I still get the same noise problems. The broadband connection works with no problems.
- the puzzle – to my mind, the above symptoms suggest that there is a problem with the telephone. However, being the clever chappy that I am, I thought it wise to check before buying a new one, and today I brought my telephone to the office and plugged it in here. It works fine. And, before you ask, I did try the connection at home with the broadband connection enabled and disabled, and that made no difference.
So is my phone faulty, or is it the line?
Wednesday 28 July 2004
I’m struggling to get it together this morning. So far I’ve forgotten my mobile phone and had to drive back two miles to get it. I’ve now remembered that I’ve forgotten something else, but I can live without it. I’ve just been to a meeting – an hour early. Thankfully it was only two minutes down the road, but it caused a bit of a laugh at my expense.
I really need to get my head together.
Tuesday 27 July 2004
You want content?
It comes to something when the log-in page for updating this site has nearly fallen off my "recently visited" list. Sigh.
Still, the good news is that the sale of Hels’s flat may not be completely scuppered after all. Completely scuppered with this particular purchaser, yes, but not scuppered entirely. What does seem to be scuppered, though, is any realistic hope of living together in our own home when we are married. It looks like I’ll have to cram as much of my stuff as is reasonably possible into Hels’s flat whilst still making it appear like a home that someone would want to buy, thereby allowing us to at least live together even if things are not ideal.
In other news, I’m psyching myself up for a 4am start on Thursday for my trip to Ireland. Looks like there’ll be an opportunity for some airport blogging, which I know that you all love for its increased level of rambling.
And finally, I really need a pint. Thankfully, it’s Tuesday – cue a "beer with…" post later.
Monday 26 July 2004
Apologies for the general lack of content at the moment. As I am sure you can understand, I’m a bit submerged at the moment, not only with sorting out property sales, but also with regular work and social events. I’m off to Ireland later this week for a flying visit, and we also have an appointment with the vicar.
But added to the list of things that I need to write about are
- Neil and Emma’s wedding
- Charlie and Pete’s barbeque
- property sale update
Hels is not very well, a combination of virus, stress and overdoing it. Like me, she has a busy week ahead – somehow we have to fight through it.
Tuesday 20 July 2004
Hels lives in an attic apartment, under the eaves of a lovely Georgian red brick building. You can lounge in the bath and look out the window to glorious views to the west and south-west over the roofs of the oldest part of Tunbridge Wells. It’s a view that you can get very fond of, and something that we will both miss.
Recently, as we’ve been soaking in the bath and soaking up the view (separately – keep your dirty thoughts to yourself!), we’ve had the feeling of being attacked as a pair of house martins fly directly toward the window, only to veer up vertically at the very last second. An external inspection of the building revealed a nest under the eaves immediately above the bathroom window, and recently we’ve heard loud cheepings from chicks within the nest. Since the chicks have hatched, the parents have been constantly coming to and fro, delivering flies for the chicks to eat. We can watch them flying over the rooftops in search of their prey.
One of the things that always impresses me is how martins manage to build their nests. In the case of our resident family, the nest has no support underneath, and is built at the apex of the gable. How do the birds begin to construct the nest? And how do they learn to build such a robust structure? Maybe they get contractors in.
Monday 19 July 2004
Apologies for the continuing quiet here. I haven’t forgotten that list of things that I said I’d write about, and can now add the following:
- the house martins (not capitalized)
- going to church
- Fahrenheit 9/11
- John Lewis at Bluewater
Monday 12 July 2004
I am home. Well, actually, I’m in the office. I have more work than you could believe.
At some point, I will write on the following subjects:
- flat sales and house purchases
- driving in the Netherlands
- plant factories
- Charlie and Pete’s wedding
- other miscellaneous subjects
In the meantime, please amuse yourself in whatever manner you feel is appropriate.
Saturday 3 July 2004
33 years ago today, Jim Morrison was found dead in his hotel. If he was alive today, he would be sixty years of age.
What do you think he would have been like as a sixty year old? And was his fame magnified purely because he died young?
Friday 25 June 2004
Personal news update:
Not much to write about at the moment. Work is still the dominant feature in life.
- Drove 375 miles yesterday to deliver some plants to Cambridgeshire. Driving a Transit Luton in a strong wind is never much fun.
- Took Hels’s car for its MOT test today. It failed. I’ve been and purchased the parts required to make it pass, and Tim is kindly fitting them. However, he’s already hit a problem, though hopefully it can be remedied quickly.
- I’m currently printing all the inserts for the wedding invitations (where to stay, how to find it, etc.). We should get them in the post next week.
- I’m working my way through a huge backlog of work emails that I’ve filed but not yet replied to or dealt with. PFE has reached a stage where an admin assistant would be useful, but the money is not available to pay for it. So it looks increasingly like I’ll be working longer hours to try and get everything done. Still, at least I remain in total control of everything, and I guess that is a positive.
- And, whilst losing the football last night is a disappointment, I can see absolutely no justification for this idiotic behaviour.
Wednesday 23 June 2004
6p! Six whole pence!
BT are to charge six pence if you press "3" after dialling 1471, according to this BBC News item. However, just using 1471, writing the number down, and then dialling it manually, will remain free. This seems to make no sense, as surely automating this process in the exchange must reduce exchange load and have a lower cost for BT – Brian?
Sunday 20 June 2004
Word of the day at dictionary.com is "yeasty" meaning full of life. I’m not sure that many people would find it flattering to be described as yeasty.
Friday 18 June 2004
Today’s boring entry: I did lots of work today. Will you be visiting West Dean this weekend?
Thursday 17 June 2004
I don’t remember the date. There wasn’t any month either. Damned if I know what it was.
Time is flowing like a Gogol novel.
All good things today – more work successfully achieved in preparing West Dean for the Garden Event, followed by a long trans-Atlantic phone call.
Time for bed. Expect continued sporadicity.
Go and tell Robyn where you are, there’s a good chap/chapess.
Wednesday 16 June 2004
Wednesday? Thursday? Sunday? Who knows?
The days continue to blend into a sea of work, but at least I was home by 7.15 tonight, and ticked off several major tasks during the day. Coming home to trans-Atlantic answerphone messages is cheering too. As was finding that one of the local papers has got a chunk of editorial about my event this weekend.
- amusing place names near you, via his 2p
- The latest yeti and penguin based silliness
- West Dean have information about my event this weekend on their website – click on "events"
- Salvador Dalik – possibly the best thing on B3ta in ages
Tuesday 15 June 2004
Still incredibly busy and short of time:
- Started work at 8.30am and got home at 10pm – a little better than yesterday, not least because I didn’t spend the whole day driving around.
- The Two Things, via LMG
- The normally quietly spoken Mervyn King has opened his mouth and put his foot in it – certainly not helpful for those of us that have little choice but to sell now.
- On the plus side, both Hels’s flat and mine were subject to viewings today.
OK – more work to do and then a late night trans-Atlantic telephone call to make. Not very exciting for you, but it’s likely to be like this until I get through this week and next.
Monday 14 June 2004
- Up at 5.30am today, home at 10.30pm. H off to US for conference for over a week. West Dean at the weekend. Oxford today. Mad. Hectic. Too much to do, too little time. Gah.
- UKIP. Gah. Consider this – next election, Tories biggest party, but not sufficient for a majority, so form an alliance with UKIP. Fate worse than death.
- LA Fisheries – best chippy for miles
- Mmmmmm beer
- Visitor number 150,000 should call in sometime next Tuesday – watch the counter.
Tuesday 8 June 2004
Happiness is buying the latest marketing book.
Happiness is also having a successful meeting with the bank manager, a successful meeting with a client and actually achieving quite a bit today.
Happiness also comes in the form of wasting time on silly games and actually seeing the transit of Venus (with the aid of a welding visor).
Sunday 6 June 2004
Time for one of those overseas blogging monologues. I know how much you all love them (go on! tell me how much you love them!).
I’ve just boarded a train from Angers St Laud to Paris Montparnasse, my first experience of the TGV. The train is reasonably busy, perhaps 75% full, but there is only one stop between here and Paris, at Le Mans. It’s reasonably spacious, and the lack of bulky headrests means that it is easy to peoplewatch – the girl to my right who is trying to sleep whilst wedging her enormous black handbag against the back of the seat in front of her, the bloke to my left who is sitting in the window seat that I reserved (I’m not sufficiently confident in my French to remonstrate with him, and besides, it’s easier to get up for the loo or the buffet from here – and I can still see the world zipping by), the young infant in his carrychair a few seats towards the back of the train who is cuddling his toy rabbit and quietly absorbing the constant stream of information that is the world around him, whilst his twin sleeps soundly in the next seat.
Thankfully I’ve come equipped with my bag of Maynards’ Wine Pastilles and a bottle of Waitrose Still Scottish Natural Mineral Water, as this train is about half a mile long (no exaggeration), and it would probably take me fifteen minutes to walk as far as the buffet/bar. All very English of me.
The train takes corners at very high speed, with the consequence that my laptop slips dangerously from one side of the little table to the other, so excuse any pauses in the narrative as I clutch hold of it to prevent it falling to the floor.
Why am I in France? Well, I’ve been here for two reasons – firstly to visit a famous and very old nursery company near Nantes, and also to attend and lend consultancy and support at a European Union Plant Variety Rights appeal hearing at the Community Plant Varieties Office in Angers. Yes, that last bit does sound exciting, doesn’t it? But, believe me, it was in fact very interesting and useful, even though we lost the appeal (we had only rated our chances of success at around 1-2% prior to the meeting, but reckon that we increased that to 20% by making a very well-argued, substantiated and convincing case during the hearing – we believe we were defeated only by a majority decision of the members of the panel rather than a unanimous one).
The "we" in this journey has been myself and David, who is a septagenarian plant breeder and fervent supporter of PFE (and the appelant), along with his wife Rosemary. As they are now travelling on for a short holiday in the upper Loire valley, I’m travelling back by train, plane and automobile (in the form of a coach) to dear old Blighty and the arms of Hels, who I have been missing like mad.
They say that distance makes the heart grow fonder, but we have been finding these separations (this trip, Hels’s recent trip to Vienna and her forthcoming week at a conference in Florida) to be quite painful, punctuated only by long (and expensive) phone calls telling each other how much we love each other and how much we miss one another. I’ve received the odd complaint of being a bit too soft and soppy in my writings on this site recently, so I won’t go on about it too much. It may just be because our love is still very new and extremely intense and not a little fraught with the worries of trying to sell our homes, find a home together, arrange a wedding and deal with the stresses of everyday life, but it certainly makes us value our time together more than ever. The time when "home" means our home together can not come soon enough.
I’m not sure how fraught this journey will be. According to Le Figaro this morning, Paris promises to be a hellish place today as umpteen gazillion police, soldiers and special forces secure the city for George Dubya’s state visit to mark the sixtieth anniversary of D-Day. I have to get from Montparnasse to Charles de Gaulle airport (assuming it hasn’t fallen down entirely). There is a coach service from Montparnasse, but I wonder if it might be delayed. I had planned to spend a little time exploring the Montparnasse area, having never visited Paris before, but if it appears fraught, I may abandon that idea.
We’re just coming into Le Mans. Interestingly, the conductor, in his announcements, puts the emphasis on the "Le", not the "Mans". Since it appears that nobody wants this seat, I may rummage around and find my headphones for a little audio entertainment between here and Paris. I bought a very cheap (three euro) CD from a second hand store in Nantes which is very good aside from a scratch that makes the first track unplayable (hence the low price, I guess), and I still haven’t had a chance to listen to it all the way through.
Anyway, a few non-work highlights of this trip:
- the splendidly calm ferry crossing from Portsmouth to St Malo, with the moon hanging low in the sky and reflected wonderfully in the glossy water, whilst on the other side of the boat, the Isle of Wight loomed ominously in silhouette with streetlamps draped around its skirt hems and reflected in the water
- the city centre in Nantes, with its cafés and cathedral
- the castle in Angers, home of a fantastic, enormous and very old tapestry depicting the story of the Apocalypse, with amazing detail, particularly in the beasts and the horsemen, with St John looking on from a differently designed sentry box-like structure at the side of each panel, recording the scenes for the Book of Revelations
- Angers cathedral, with its massive organ (stop it!) supported above the main entrance on four huge flying buttresses, each carved to resemble a bacchanalian figure seemingly inappropriate for a place of Christian worship, but imposing and wonderful nonetheless
- the simple and beautiful chruch of Saint Laud in Angers, and much more light and welcoming building, which, when we visited, was being bedecked in flowers for a wedding to be held today
As David and Rosemary were very much in holiday mode on this trip, it allowed me more time than I would normally have for exploring my environs. Normally when I travel abroad for conferences and exhibitions, usually with David’s son Mike (also a plant breeder), there is little time for R&R, as we generally try to pack in as much work value into our time as we possibly can. Whilst I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this trip (in spite of losing the appeal hearing), a little voice at the back of my head says that I really need to get more work done (hey! I could be doing it now instead of writing this monologue, but then I do have to keep you entertained somehow).
Hmm. Time for another wine pastille.
How strange. The guards have just come through the carriage, and they seem to be inspecting all the vents for the air conditioning system, peering into them as if they expect some sort of rat or mouse to poke his head out and say "salut!" at any moment. They’ve left the carriage now, so obviously didn’t find what they were looking for, although the activity has woken up the sleeping twin into a wide-eyed coughing session.
Idle thought: do nationalists in Northern Ireland refuse to use the Orange telephone network on principle?
Idle thought 2: what is it with young oriental men and really bad facial hair?
Idle thought 3: I wonder if there’ll be a powerpoint at CDG where I can recharge my laptop, or is that a uniquely American phenomenon? Even the wonderfully well thought out Copenhagen airport doesn’t have powerpoints.
<long pause whilst transferring from TGV to CDG>
Idle thought 4: if, when in France, you dial 15 for an ambulance, 17 for the police and 18 for the fire service, what happens if you dial 16?
Well, so much for having a stroll around Montparnasse. On arrival at the station, the first thing I noticed was the large number of police and armed troops present. A quick amble about the station revealed that the left luggage lockers were closed and sealed due to the security precautions, so I decided not to bother with trying to go for an amble whilst dragging my wheelie case and carrying my laptop. Instead, I elected to board the bus for the airport directly. As the bus hurtled through the streets, we passed a long row of buses laden with police, plus vans loaded with equipment, and then had to pull over to allow a fleet of water cannon trucks to roar past, sirens on and lights flashing. So I reckon that not going for a stroll was a smart move.
It has to be said that CDG (or terminal 1 at least) is the most dismal airport I have ever been in, even more badly designed than Dallas-Fort Worth. The duty-free area is cramped an ugly. The check-in desks are cramped and ugly. The &satellites" are cramped and ugly. There is a chronic lack of seating, refreshment points, signage, colour, light and air conditioning. Infuriatingly, there is a power point next to the seat I’ve found, but I stupidly left my French/UK adaptor in the bag that I’ve checked-in, so I’ll run out of power in about 20 minutes – with at least two and a half hours to kill before the flight. Worryingly, the bmi flight before mine, to East Midlands, has been delayed until around the time that mine is due to depart due to a fault with the aircraft, and I have a sneaky feeling that they might use the plane I’m due to fly on to take those passengers, thereby delaying my flight. I’ve even run out of battery life on my camera, so I can’t play at taking silly pictures. And I have no book with me. I think I’m going to be very bored. Sigh.
Idle thought 5: at what point is the boredom level sufficiently high that your brain dissolves and seeps out of your ear?
Anyhow, time to conserve battery life by shutting down the monitor. I’ll post this on my return (though, if you’ve read this far, you know that already).
UPDATE: my flight wasn’t delayed.
Sunday 30 May 2004
Jools Holland is playing an open-air concert near Tunbridge Wells soon. I’ve seen him twice before, but never with Sam Brown, who I know to be excellent. Hels has never seen him. But is it possible to justify forking out around £100 for two people for one concert? (I’m including two tickets at £28.50, two "booking fees" at £3.00, a fiver for petrol, £20 for picnic stuff and another fiver for a bottle of wine). Will we get value for money?
Wednesday 26 May 2004
Play – it helps to preserve sanity.
Tuesday 25 May 2004
It would seem that we now have the nod for new fenestration. Now all I have to do is decide when to do it.
Monday 24 May 2004
Saturday 22 May 2004
…Alison C, Paul F, Malcolm, Stein and Kearn. I’m tired and a bit stressy. I wish H was here.
Friday 21 May 2004
I feel that I should explain the whole Little Otik thing, as I may be being a bit obscure for you all here. Some time ago, I went with Lord Percy and Lady Bren to see Little Otik at the cinema. It’s a film about a tree stump that looks like a baby.
B and G were working in their garden the other day and found a dead Pelargonium that looked like a little man, complete with hair. Naturally, they were reminded of the film, and with my birthday approaching, decided to put it in a spiffy little box and give it to me as a present.
Tuesday 18 May 2004
Meanwhile, back at the ranch…
- up to my neck in work
- just reduced flat to £142,500 – bargain!
- Hels off to Vienna for a conference for a few days
- incredible quantities of spam pollute my inbox
- beer tonight
- lovely weather
- more soon, I promise
Thursday 13 May 2004
… we’re home! Full report (with pictures!) will follow. For now, sleep is needed.
And thanks to everyone that sent birthday greetings.
Thursday 29 April 2004
Sorry – no content here today again – too busy with work, sorting out incompetence within European institutions (well, one in particular) and looking after a mildly unwell fiancée. Off to look at a house later, and then to eat fishcakes.
Life. Edge. Some distance apart today.
Wednesday 28 April 2004
Sorry people, I’m really busy at the moment, so it’s hard to find time to write much here. Particular apologies to Mark for not replying to your comments and Hanni for not doing anything about Breedster. When time permits….
Meanwhile, a couple of links for you:
Scientists find 400 million year old fossilised millipede poo – slightly charred, apparently.
Team Laser Explosion Secret Fan Club.
Thursday 22 April 2004
You mean I’ve got to work AND provide you people with content?! Sheesh!
Actually, what we really need around here is a silly flash game, but I haven’t seen a good one for a while. The one with the chopsticks and flies was good, although so infuriating that I was nearly forced to put an axe through my monitor.
Any of you people seen anything worth wasting time on?
Tuesday 20 April 2004
Not very exciting
Well, BT are going to replace my modem. Which is nice.
I’ve also talked to the NatWest this morning, who had seemed to be incapable of returning telephone calls.
And generally, I’ve been busy sorting out odds and ends, not getting much of anything done, but feeling quite productive in the process of doing it.
Which isn’t very exciting for you.
I’ve worked out what is wrong with my broadband connection – it’s the modem. This morning, I brought in my modem from home and plugged it in, and now the connection works fine. So I’ll have to get on to BT and cancel this afternoon’s engineer visit, establish who owns the modem (I have a horrible feeling that it is me, not BT) and sort out a replacement.
Monday 19 April 2004
Text message spam update
Remember the text message spam that I received? My post about it has attracted a fair few comments. Read them here.
Further update: how handy!
Thursday 15 April 2004
My friend Claire is now working with MortgageForce, so if you’re in the Chichester area and in the market for a mortgage, give her a shout.
This announcement was brought to you by FriendPlug, the plugging service for friends! Are you a friend? Do you need a plug? Then call FriendPlug today!
Wednesday 14 April 2004
Well, the good news is that my home broadband connection works fine. I’m increasingly suspicious about line noise on my work connection – that would explain why increasing the TXPower eases the symptoms.
The bad news is that, by connecting to the interwebnet rather a lot at Hels’s home, I’ve racked up a mighty phone bill for her. Hopefully my accountant, who I am seeing tomorrow, will suggest some creative method of making that tax deductable. I think I just need her to issue me with an invoice.
Tuesday 13 April 2004
A little bit of toast
I have discovered a weakness in the work-from-home plan. That weakness is in the next room. It is called "toaster". It may have to die.
Wednesday 7 April 2004
In the land of the living
OK, the computer is back up-and-running, and it appears that all of my data is intact, thanks to good back-ups. Phew! That, amazingly, includes my email archives, much to my relief. I’m now working on reinstalling software and getting everything just-so.
I’m supposed to be guesting at Uborka this week. I’ve been a bit crap, really, though not through any fault of my own.
Monday 5 April 2004
My laptop has been dysfunctional for the last 48 hours. I’ve now isolated the cause, thanks to protracted calls with the very helpful Dell technical help staff. The switch that causes the machine to go dormant when you close it is broken, and a replacement hinge cover (with which it is integral) is being despatched forthwith. The problem is that, in order to discover this, and with the tech staff’s advice, I reformatted the hard drive and reinstalled the operating system. Before I did that, I backed up the documents and settings directory, but I suspect that it means that I’ve lost my email archives. I’ll also have to reinstall a shedload of software. I’ve also lost my music files, as I never bothered to back them up (they are easily replaced after all).
It’s more of an annoyance than anything, and also rather time-consuming. If I have lost my email archive, then it could have some serious implications, although hopefully nothing that I can’t get around. We shall see when I attempt to reinstall my backed-up data tomorrow.
Wednesday 31 March 2004
I’ve got the new toy working, but I’m not ready to show you any results yet. May take a day or two, as I’m a bit time-poor at the moment.
This morning – two doors painted with their first coat; sofa installed (after a struggle to get it in); rubbish taken to the tip. And there is still plenty of time to get more done yet.
Tuesday 30 March 2004
- accountant spoken to and meeting arranged
- speaking gig arranged
- bank spoken to, no useful advantage gained
- invoice raised
- event applications processed
- licensee assisted
- planning application submitted
- hair cut
- carpet tiles completed and two doors hung (with assistance)
- new toy purchased
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to play.
Thanks to the model of efficiency that is Dave, I now have the necessary drawings for the planning application for the new windows in my flat. I’ve just filled out the forms (in quadruplicate) and, aside from a couple of quick photocopies (well, three actually) of the site plan and elevations and the small matter of a cheque for £220, I’m ready to go.
With the delay of a week on the estate agents, the bookies are offering good odds on the planning consent coming in before the flat sale, particularly as the said fenestrologist (new word!) is determined to give it a push if he can. The spectators watch in awed amazement.
Monday 29 March 2004
There’s nothing like retail therapy to cheer yourself up. In my case, I’m still at the planning stage with the retail therapy, but I’m still cheered up.
This morning, after visiting the council offices to get the forms I need for the windows planning application, I went to a couple of camera stores to try a few cameras out. I tried the Minolta Dimage Z2, the Olympus 760 UltraZoom and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ10B. I wanted to try the Kodax DX-6490, but nobody had one in stock.
The Olympus lost out straight away for two reasons – firstly, it has only 3.1 megapixels, which is probably less than would be ideal for me. But more importantly, the LCD was really quite small, which is a hindrance when a lot of what I’ll be doing will be in the macro range. It also lacks a hotshoe for a flash, which might be a problem if I subsequently decide that a flash would be useful for pro-amateur studio plant portraits. On the plus side, the Olympus was wonderfully small, so if you wanted a camera with a good zoom lens that would fit into a (large) pocket, then it would definitely be worth a look.
The Minolta also was dismissed reasonably quickly – firstly, I didn’t find the controls comfortable. Secondly, I didn’t like the general grip of the camera. Being left handed, I often grasp a camera in my left paw. This one is definitely designed for righties, with nothing much other than the lens to hold on the left side. I also thought that the LCD was a bit coarse.
The Panasonic was by far the best. Of course, it’s a little more expensive, so that is barely surprising. Although the reviews describe it as being huge, it isn’t frighteningly bulky. It’s roughly the same size as my current vintage Olympus OM-2n SLR, and is only a fraction of the weight. Big positives for me were the large LCD and viewfinder, both giving really good definition; the fairly easy grip and left-handed-friendliness of the camera, although a slightly sturdier right hand grip would have been useful; the ease of use – without reference to any manual or instruction from the sales assistant, I was able to grasp the basic controls in a matter of seconds – since Hels and I will want to use this camera for pleasure snaps as well as for work, this is an important consideration; and the lovely 12x optical zoom lens, which is fun in itself.
Of course, I’ve been doing my homework. I’ve read two in-depth reviews online, plus the reviews at Dealtime. I’ve also looked at the pictures posted at the Alive in Kyoto weblog – some of them are beautiful, and they give a good indication of the camera’s abilities, particularly in low light conditions. On that subject, the optical image stabilisation system is another strong plus factor for this camera.
I’ve also researched the price. The Jessops in-store price is £30 cheaper than their online price, and my local branch has one on the shelf. But I’ve found other online suppliers who can offer it for £45 less than that. But they don’t have it in stock. Jessops offer a "price promise" that says they will match any price on the High Street, but would that include online competitors? It did when I purchased the nursery’s Kodak DX-3900 from them – all I needed was a printout of the website with the URL on it. Anyone got any recent experience?
Thursday 25 March 2004
Hell and damnation
As I walked down South Street this morning, I passed three typical looking teenage boys in school uniform, waiting outside the convenience store. Nothing unusual in that, you might think.
But there was something hugely disturbing and terrifying about them. Yes, the world needs to be warned…
THEY ALL HAD MULLETS!
What the hell is going on? When did the mullet come back into fashion? It probably has something to do with the abomination that is The Darkness, who have become popular for reasons that completely escape me.
Next thing you know, everyone will be listening to Donovan records again.
Wednesday 24 March 2004
Update on the camera pondering
What about the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ10? Panasonic is not a name I’d associate with cameras, but I’ve read a couple of good reviews.
I really should add a little about what I’m looking for here. I need something that is fairly fully featured, and would suit someone (i.e. me) who is fairly camera-savvy but likes something that is reasonably easy to use. It will mainly be used for work, so it needs to have a good macro capability, allowing me to get a full-frame shot of an individual flower or flower head. It also needs to have a flash so that it can double as a general workhorse for record shots and day-to-day snapping. And, because the photos are likely to be used for posters and larger size printing, 4 or 5 megapixels would be preferred – 3 is not enough.
One of the problems that I have with all three of the cameras that I’ve looked at so far is their size – the Panasonic in particular is quite bulky, and since it will often be carried with me when I’m travelling, it would be useful if it was small enough to slip into my laptop bag. I think the Panasonic fails that test.
More research needed.
Tuesday 23 March 2004
Kodak DX6490 versus Olympus C750UZ. Any advice/recommendations?
Monday 22 March 2004
Training for a rant
I haven’t done the journey between Tunbridge Wells and my office by train for a while, having had the use of Hels’s car for the last few weeks. This morning’s foray into the world of rail was met with a late running train, a filthy train, a train that was cancelled but still ran anyway, a train driven by a driver who only knew how to drive in the "on-off" style of accelerator and brake usage (or whatever the train equivalent is), new rolling stock that shows what shocking state the line is in as passengers are alternately hurled from one side of the carriage to the other – amongst other travails. As compensation, there are some fine views to enjoy, particularly in the Arun valley, which remains one of the finest train journeys to be had in the south of England, and I’ve also been able to get a fair bit of work done, something that is impossible when at the wheel of a car.
Giant pain-in-the-arse for today is that the offer on Hels’s flat has fallen through. One wonders if people go around saying that they will buy a property, purely to raise the vendor’s expectations ready for pin/balloon type deflation, merely as some kind of perverted sport.
And, for added misery, H has got a cold. I’m sure the pseudo-purchasers left the germs around the flat (absolutely nothing to do with the streaming torrent that I’ve endured for the last week or so).
Cripes – what else can we find to moan about? I’m in the mood for a good rant.
Friday 19 March 2004
Attributed to the scientist Sir Arthur Eddington, but oh-so-true in so many aspects of life.
Thursday 18 March 2004
The builders who converted the Nursery Arms into two flats, one of which is now my home, liked Smith’s salt and vinegar crisps. I know this because they left a packet under the floorboards.
Future generations will be utterly misguided into believing that I read the Guardian because I used some pages of that newspaper to plug some holes.
Domestic archaeology. Such fun!
Wednesday 17 March 2004
Text message spam
How irritating. And is that last line supposed to convey contact details for the sender and an indication of the price per minute if I call? If so, it is less than clear. OFCOM should clamp down on this.
In addition, I’ve had five new comment spams since yesterday evening, countless email spams, a bunch of junk mail and a couple of telephone cold calls.
It may be time to become a hermit and live a communications-free existence.
Monday 15 March 2004
Pictures of Chernobyl. Well worth a few minutes.
Monday 8 March 2004
Make your day more amusing…
…by imagining that headlines such as "Howard offers historic choice" or "Howard promises lower taxes" or "Howard challenges Blair to fisticuffs in Parliament Square" are not about the leader of the Conservative Party, but are, instead, about that annoying git from the Halifax adverts.
Friday 5 March 2004
Safeway may be the cheapest place in Tunbridge Wells to buy a loaf of bread, but if I cost in the time I spend queuing because they only ever have four tills open out of the twenty or so that are there, it becomes incredibly expensive. I think that, in future, I’ll go to the nice deli across the road.
Friday 27 February 2004
That was then…
I can’t say that I’m hugely enthusiastic about the prospects for the weekend.
I spent all of yesterday evening, until 11pm, painting. I made good progress in that I finished the walls in the living room and hall, and made a good start on the bedroom. But this weekend holds little prospect of doing much else other than shifting furniture and wielding a paintbrush. Whoopee.
And, as you might have guessed, it’s all sapped my rant juices. Sorry. I might get on with ranting if I get fed up with painting (really quite likely). I know that you like a good rant.
Anyone for beer?
Tuesday 24 February 2004
Today I shall mostly be…
- catching up on my Global House Connection listening. Constantin’s show for February 15th was a stormer;
- discovering the wonder that is the memory stick (how handy!);
- printing hundreds of application forms for my events.
Life on the edge, I tells ya. Anyone for beer tonight?
Monday 23 February 2004
Quick film review
Last night, on something a whim, we went to see Lost in Translation, which we agreed was extremely good indeed. The cinematography, acting, plot and script were all very good – it was easy to understand the sensation of isolation that the principal characters were experiencing in Tokyo. It also succeeded in being romantic without being even slightly saccharine, a rarity in cinema these days where it seems that everything has to have some gratuitous sex scene and some schmaltzy ending.
What particularly stood out for us was the soundtrack, which was superbly dark and featured Jesus and Mary Chain, My Bloody Valentine, Air and Squarepusher – with just enough shoegazing to make me feel all nostalgic for large parts of my CD collection that sit languishing in storage.
Wednesday 18 February 2004
Reporting live from Saumur
I’m currently sitting in the Hotel Loire in Saumur which is on an island in the middle of the Loire. I’m overlooking the river which is gliding glassily past my window, whilst on the opposite bank, the chateau is beautifully illuminated and is surrounded by many attractive old buildings.
Sometimes this job has its compensations (assuming you ignore the fact that I’m dog-tired, feel like throttling one of my clients, have sore feet and shoulders and am missing Hels like mad, of course).
Friday 13 February 2004
Today is the 50th anniversary of the first appearance of the Bash Street Kids in the Beano. Somewhere lurking about in this office are a couple of Bash Street annuals, and I’m tempted to take the afternoon off to sit and read them (if only there was time to do that!).
There were Beanos around the house from before I was born (my brother was a reader) right up until I was in my early 20s, and the Bash Street Kids were amongst my favourites (along with the utterly fantastic Calamity James, with the trademark "rivets" style of drawing that including incredible levels of detail in the background). I think the strength of the Bash Street stories is that all the characters – the nine kids, Cuthbert Cringeworthy, Teacher, Head, Olive, Janitor and Winston the Cat – all had strong personalities that were easy to recognise and could be brought to the fore for any particular storyline. It is testament to the quality of the writing and drawing that they are still popular 50 years after their inception. I’m laughing just thinking about the story lines (do you remember the one where the kids entered the tall ships race in the ship owned by Head’s friend, Captain Horatio Cornplaster? Or the one where Teacher reenacted the Battle of Trafalgar on the boating pond?).
Rest assured that any child of mine will be brought up on the Beano.
Wednesday 11 February 2004
One of the steps in making my flat ready for sale is the redecoration of the entire place. Sadly, my beloved ivory is giving way to white, which gives quite a stark appearance but does make the flat seem lighter – or at least the hallway does, as that is the only room to be completely painted so far. It needs a second coat, but the effect is plain to see. I think that with the addition of a few cheap prints on the wall to lend a little colour, it’ll make the flat seem clean, smart and bright – hopefully characteristics that will help to tempt a potential purchaser into parting with his/her cash.
Incidentally, the much-neglected radio grayblog makes excellent background for painting to.
Monday 9 February 2004
I’m a Celebrity, Get A Life…
I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here… has been attracting audiences in the order of twelve million viewers. How long is the programme? 30 minutes? Let’s do some mathematics:
360,000,000 minutes equates to 6,000,000 hours
6,000,000 hours is equivalent to 250,000 days.
250,000 days is roughly 684 years.
684 years. Think about it. Surely humankind could put this time to better use? Just think – if everyone sat down for half an hour, just once a year, and did something useful, or at least thought about something useful, the world would surely be a better place. I’m not expecting Celebrity viewers to solve the world’s ills, but surely their collective brain power could do something useful like inventing a method for opening tin cans that means that the sauce in my chopped tomatoes doesn’t splatter all over the kitchen worktop. Then again, they probably couldn’t even manage that. Mind you, the heat from their brains all simultaneously struggling to think could be enough to heat a small town without the use of fossil fuels.
This week I will, undoubtedly, be extremely busy. I’ve just looked down my to-do list, and it is both lengthy and urgent. It also involves a sizeable number of tasks that will take considerably more than a few minutes to complete. Oh well, best get on with it.
In the meantime, get hyperactive with this completely mad Squirrel Game, which, for reasons I can not fathom, features one of those Japanese cartoon girl characters showing her panties. Hmm.
Friday 6 February 2004
Open question: if your boss (use your imagination if you don’t have a boss) refused to honour a verbal agreement that he had made with you, and made this refusal clear in an embarrassing manner in front of your colleagues, and generally gave you little or no support and acted like a total arsehole, what would you do? Consider also that you have little recourse to anyone more senior than your boss because he acts in an autonomous manner within the particular company location where you are employed, and that the second-in-command is very much in league with him.
Also consider that you can not reasonably throw in the towel as the job is quite well paid and you do not believe that you could easily find an equivalent position elsewhere. Consider further that the cumulative stress inherant with the current situation is having an adverse impact on your health.
Wednesday 4 February 2004
Tuesday 3 February 2004
Tuesday 27 January 2004
Following on from Gordon’s exhortations to be nice to each other, I’d like to point out how good I was to pull out the credit card that someone had left in the machine outside the Abbey in Tunbridge Wells yesterday and take it in to hand to the receptionist there. Hels was full of praise for me doing that, but, honestly, it was just the natural thing to do. The thing is, a whole bunch of people must have walked past the loudly beeping machine with the obviously protuding card and done absolutely nothing. I guess it is the typical British reaction to "not get involved".
And whilst I’m being nice, I’d like to warn all readers to watch out for MyDoom, a new virus that has appeared in my inbox three times already today.
Monday 26 January 2004
Wednesday 21 January 2004
Sign observed at the coffee bar on Barnham railway station:
I like that coffee bar.
Monday 19 January 2004
Forgot to mention (which goes to show how thrilling it was) – on our way back to Tunbridge Wells last night, we took a small detour to try and find the local branch of Waitrose which is a bit tucked away. When we found it, we discovered a small fire burning in some waste paper and card, and some youths sauntering away. I did my civic duty, put my underpants on over my trousers, and called the fire brigade.
Undoubtedly, for my troubles, I’ll be getting a call from the police when they investigate it, although I’m not sure that they should bother.
Wednesday 7 January 2004
Thursday 1 January 2004
Happy New Year
2004-themed greetings and best wishes to all grayblog readers!
The promised Review of 2003 is in development and will be posted here soon. At the moment, I’m just too pooped after last night’s celebrations in the company of family, friends, food and drink.
Wednesday 24 December 2003
Well, I’ve nearly finished wrapping the gifts – just the last few tags to write, then I have to bag everything up and decide which gifts Hels will have to wait until Boxing Day for (so she has some to open when we are at my parent’s house).
Then I’ll quickly tidy the flat, sort out a bit of laundry, deliver a couple of Christmas cards and then drive off to Tunbridge Wells for the start of the food and drink!
This will be the last update until after Christmas. Remember to keep an eye out for progress of Beagle 2. Aside from that, remember the true meaning of Christmas – a distorted winter solstice festival that was hijacked by Christianity in an attempt to win over pagan tribespeople in Europe, that is now the preserve of business and corporate policy. Enjoy!
May all your mince pies be well filled.
Sunday 14 December 2003
Walk in the park
A visit to London yesterday for dinner with friends as well as a visit to the Serpentine Gallery to see the exhibition of photographs by Hiroshi Sugimoto. Pictures of nothing much at first glance, being in the main large monochrome seascapes, but revealing, on closer examination, a subtle texture of ripples, waves, clouds and stars.
It was the first time that either of us had been to the Serpentine, which is a rather neat and small building, glowing brightly in the darkness of a winter evening in Hyde Park. Its small size is actually an asset – no risk of getting "galleried out" at the Serpentine.
Even more impressive in Hyde Park was the brightly lit and shimmering Albert Memorial. In any other city in the world, such a structure would be the centre of massive tourist activity and would feature in every postcard. London simply has too many significant structures, and the Memorial is all too frequently overlooked.
Thursday 4 December 2003
Hels bought me a Marks and Spencer chocolate advent calendar. So far I’ve had chocolates shaped as a snowman, a cracker, a stocking and a penguin – all closely related to Christian symbolism, undoubtedly.
I’m also mildly disturbed by the image on the front of the calendar, which shows the portly bearded chappy in his red outfit admonishing the onlooker to be quiet whilst, through a doorway, a young boy sleeps in his bed. Frankly, I think he should be reported to the authorities.
Not that I’m ungrateful for the chocolates, I hasten to add.
When we were in Malmö, we went into a department store where there was a long queue of children (and parents) waiting to sit on Santa’s knee. Clearly the over-zealous child protection lobby that we have here and in America has not yet reached southern Sweden, as the children actually were sitting on the besuited fella’s leg. But the one thing that I did notice was that this particular Santa had a notebook and pen for writing down the requests of the children. I was very disappointed to see this, as I always assumed that he could remember all these things without notes. After all, he is able to visit all the children of the world in one night, and also knows whether they’ve been "good" or "bad" as well. My illusion has been shattered.
I also noticed that he was left-handed.
Wednesday 26 November 2003
Carbon dioxide guitar
What images does this headline create in your mind?
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.
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.
Monday 17 November 2003
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.
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?