Wednesday, 30 January 2008

A quick update

My wife's operation went really well, they have removed bits, fixed bits found that a mysterious lump has now vanished (phew!) and finally, on the way out, removed her belly button! This was a bit of a surprise, especially as she was planning to have it pierced this summer! I suggested that maybe she should have a new one tatooed on...

More soon.

PS thanks for all the comments on my last post!

Thursday, 24 January 2008

Go ahead. Make my day!

Today, the truly wonderful Princess of the Universe has given me the "You make my day" award. Isn't that nice of her?

Before passing this on, I will share a few things that make my day.

  • People smiling. A very simple thing, but it is amazing how many people just can't seem to manage it. Sometimes I wonder if people are worried that the top of their head is going to fall off!
  • Catching up on everyone's blogs.
  • Nice things to eat. At the weekend Number 1 Son tried making American Pancakes with Maple Syrup. They were amazingly good.
  • Relaxing with my family. There is nothing like it.
  • Walking my dog. Regardless of the weather it is a great way to end the day.
  • Music. I love music. Hearing a good song or tune can keep me going all day.

Another thing that makes my day is seeing comments on my blog, whether from those that I have known for a while or from new visitors. I have met some incredible people through blogging and it still amazes me that they take the time to come here to see my latest piece of drivel.

So, I now have to pass this award on. Well I have come up with a great way of doing this. If you make a comment to this post you will have "made my day", so you get the award. How about that for cunning?

So, comment away and claim your Major Award!

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Just a few more pictures...

Given the popularity of my previous photo posts I thought I would have one more go before returning to my more normal ramblings for a while...

Had to stop for this shot of the sun coming up over the top of a rise.

The River Stour on its way through Canterbury. If you look carefully, above the boat you can see a chair on a wooden beam. This is the Ducking Stool and dates from the days of the witch hunters. The idea was that a suspected witch would be strapped into the chair and lowered into the water in an effort to make him/her confess. If she did not confess she was put under for longer, until the witch hunters thought he/she should have drowned. They were then lifted out again. If they were dead, well, hm, maybe they were not a witch afterall. Still, they were in Heaven now, so that was OK. If the witch was still alive, well that proved they were a witch and they were burnt at the stake!

This building used to fascinate me when I was a kid.

Check out the door! And there are still people who think that having something that was Made in Britain is a good thing!

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

One sunny morning...

I stopped to take a couple of photos on my way to work this morning...

This is part of the road that I cycle along - safety becomes much more important than speed!
A nice "English" scene...

This is the view across the city from a hill that overlooks it - the city is shrouded in mist but the Cathedral's towers are just visible about a third of the way in from the left.

Thought I would take this opportunity to say that I will not be around much next week as my wife is having her gall bladder removed on Monday and the rest of that week at least is going to be pretty hectic to say the least! Wish us luck. Those that know our story will be aware that going into the hospital will be bringing back some very unpleasant memories.

Monday, 21 January 2008

A gloomy day in Canterbury

This lunchtime I went for a walk with a camera. A dull, windy one, as you can see!
Canterbury City Walls, originally built by the Romans and rebuilt many times since!

The little place where I buy lunch and where I got hooked on Bagels...

Canterbury City Centre. Bombed flat during the Second World War, and rebuilt, the last 10 years have seen a rolling redevelopment of this area. Looks much better than the old 1950s buildings used to.

The newest part of the University that I work at - or at least it will be!

The Dane John Mound. This is the site of the first Norman fort in Canterbury - a wooden tower was on top allowing the Normans to keep the scummy Saxons in line.

The ruins of the later castle, something of a fixer-up-er? In the middle ages criminals were often chained to the outside of the walls for the duration of their punishment, their fate being at the mercy of passers by. Now that is justice ;-)

The main gate to the Cathedral. The figure of Jesus in the middle is a new replacement for the original which was pulled down by Oliver Cromwell (1650s). We take our time, but things get done eventually...

I told you it was windy!

Friday, 18 January 2008

Extreme Dumbness?

The subject of dumbness has come up a few times recently. This morning I heard some new evidence.

This is a picture taken in The Lake District, one of Britain's best mountain areas.

In the UK, Mountain Rescue teams are unpaid volunteers, but they are getting really annoyed with people who just don't use these areas sensibly - going out in unsuitable clothing, without drinks and food, in silly weather (someone was recently killed because the wind blew him off a cliff).

They are now making public some of the "Emergency" calls they get from walkers and climbers. Here are 2 examples that really stuck in my mind:

A group of walkers called the Rescue services for help.

The reason?

They were getting tired and did not want to walk any further.

Another group called and asked for a helicopter to pick them up.

The reason?

The walk was taking longer than expected and were in danger of being late for a dinner party.


Thursday, 17 January 2008


Last night my neice came around for her weekly guitar lesson. In recent weeks she has been trying her hand at bass, using this little beast of mine:
Isn't it lovely? Very veratile too due to the built in electronic wizardry.

Anyway, my neice has let slip at school that she is learning bass, and has now been nominated as class bass player in the school's Arts Festival that is rather closer than is comfortable. She has got to learn "Wonderwall" by Oasis.

(Sorry, I could not work out how to do it the fancy way - maybe Terri can give me pointers?)

So we then had an hour of fun working it out, her on bass, me on guitar, singing along very badly. I was very impressed with how quickly she picked it up. Next week we will see if we can fit in a few twiddles to make it more interesting.

I also suggested to her that she try to persuade the teacher that they should modify it a bit. Anyone know of this wonderful version by Mike Flowers?

Now I am not normally one to favour cover versions of songs - they are rarely an improvement on the original and tend to show a lack of imagination when done by professionals. OK for amatures of course! I think this version is great, partly because I am not really an Oasis fan, everyone, (including themselves) seeming to think that they are much better than they really are, but also because he has really reworked the song and not just done a straight copy.

What do you think?

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Delusions of Grandure?

Today a news headline caught my eye:

Rock Chef: Recovery Possible

What? Eh? Who is writing about me? What can I recover from?

Then I looked closer and saw that I had misread it:

Rock Chief: Recover Possible (Story here)

Huh, not about me after all, just talk about a troubled British bank (Northern Rock) that you may or may not have heard about.

But this got me wondering. Have I just gone slightly mad? I mean, who in their right mind would see a news headline that seemed to refer to an alias of theirs and even consider the thought that it was about them? OK, so maybe I have always been a bit unhinged but this feels just a bit extreme even for me!

What do you think?

Monday, 14 January 2008


Hm, not really much to say today. The weekend was uneventful, but at least restful for once. I have started messing around in preparation for a video blog but have discovered that the software I have crashes everytime I try to export - it is fine if I want to put stuff onto a DVD but will not create anything that I can put on the web. Doh! I will try something I downloaded to see if that will fix my problem.

Oh, something that the sadistic among you may enjoy. After being at work for around an hour I looked down and realised that the trousers I am wearing have a split in the crotch. Aren't staplers a wonderful invention?

Friday, 11 January 2008

And the rain rain rain came down down down...

in a rushing, rising river.
And the river crept out of its bed
and it crept right into Piglet's!

I woke up this morning to the sound of torrential rain drumming on my window. Ergh, not my favourite way of starting the day.

Breakfast was Banofee Porridge (yum) which made me feel a bit better about the impending journey.

Then I set off on my bike - it was still pouring with rain with a nice head-wind, just to make it really good. The roads were totally awash, with water gushing off the fields on either side, turning the roads into small rivers. The spray from passing cars was incredible - I am sure I did my bit to increase the average happiness of the drivers as they hammered past sending huge arcs of water over me.

Just how wet can someone get? By the time I arrived at work I was totally soaked, my water proof coat having given up long ago. Still it is supposed to stop at the skin, isn't it? I am not so sure now, I felt distinctly sponge-like as I got changed into my work clothes.

There was one positive side to this, though. My hair feels WONDERFUL and I can feel myself flicking it from side to side like someone in a shampoo ad on TV.

Wonder if I can fit in the phrase "I'm worth it" at some point today?

Thursday, 10 January 2008

I have a new colleague...

I am going to call him Hal, after the computer in "2001 A Space Odessey" because he thinks he is more intelligent than I am and tries to over-ride what I want to do. He is a pain in the butt and I have already sworn at him a few times. I may soon resort to physical violence.

I don't expect much. I ask him to do a simple task and he either sits there doing nothing, or suggests an alternative way of doing things. No, I don't want that - if that was what I wanted, that is what I would have asked for. Just do the job, PLEASE!

And the worst thing is that no matter how bad things get between us, I am stuck with him for the foreseeable future.

Hal is, of course, our new photocopier!

PS Please do not be too shocked that I have changed my colour scheme!

Wednesday, 9 January 2008


Before Christmas I was trying to buy tyres for an old bike that my dad had picked up.

I went to several shops - most said that it was an old size that would have to be ordered in specially. In one shop, though, I was told that although they were currently out of stock it was normally kept in stock and they would have more in again in the New Year. Great, I would wait until the New Year.

New Year arrived and I returned to the shop, only to be told by the same guy that it was an old size and was not worth carrying as a stock item. He could order it for me specially, though...

Annoyed? You bet! Going back there again? What do you think?

When someone is trying to sell you something you tend to expect a bit of BS at times, don't you? You are ready for it. This just rubbed me up the wrong way.

Another shop that annoyed me was one that claimed to be selling only second hand guitars and equipment. Looking around there was clearly a lot of second hand stuff, but mixed in was a load of stuff that looked brand new - a dozen or more guitars by the same, rather obscure, company for starters. No, they are all second hand and therefore have no guarantee. Where they cheaper than comparable instruments just up the road. Not really! Don't think I will be buying one of those then! I popped in again a couple of days ago, just out of curiousity and heard a guy in there admitting that some of the stuff was actually new. Wonder if someone called them on the scam?

Oh, nearly forgot the worst one! A couple of years ago went to a shop that offered you a £5 voucher for every £25 you spent. Great! We spent over £100 and got 4 vouchers. When I went back to spend them a week or so later I was informed that in order to use the vouchers I had to spend ANOTHER £25 per voucher! Mad? Frothing at the mouth? You bet! I asked to talk to the manager - there was nothing written on the voucher stating these terms. In fact there were NO terms on the vouchers! The manager stood by what I was told earlier. I got out my mobile and said that if he did not honour the vouchers right there I would be ringing a friend of mine in Trading Standards, followed by a national newspaper. Guess what? He suddenly changed his mind! Yay me!

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Free at last!

Isn't it amazing how important milestones can go seemingly unnoticed?

On December 31, the UK finished paying back the money it borrowed from the USA to pay for our recovery after the Second World War. Amazingly, everything that the USA sent to us DURING the war was free - food, tanks, ships, aeroplanes, the lot! That was something that I had not realised, the term "Lend Lease" implying that we were paying for the stuff, at least to me!

After the war we needed to rebuild, well, just about everything and our good friends over the pond gave massive loans at very low rates so that we could do it.

Possibly a coinsidence, I noticed a report today that announced that living standards in the UK might be about to overtake those in the US for the first time since the 17th Century (ie when England owned America). Could it be that this is because we will have stopped paying off our loan and will be able to put the money to better use at home? Will the US really be missing our payments that much? I sincerely doubt it! But just in case, George, if you want a loan...

Monday, 7 January 2008

New Year!

So, 2008 has arrived at last - I saw out 2007 with a cough and a splutter, actually managing to lose weight over the holiday! Bet there aren't many who can claim that one!

While suffering I did manage to watch one of my presents - the "Die Hard Quadrilogy"! I love those movies, so I started at number 1 and went though them all.

One present that I have only had half hearted stabs at so far is a music program. So far I have done a couple of simple blues backing tracks (drums and bass only) for me to play along to. It has been great fun so far and I hope to be able to do some interesting stuff with it. I just don't have the time to get into a band at the moment (and I certainly don't have the patience for a lot of the problems that bands can cause) so this seems like the perfect answer to my musical interests and should allow me to work on a couple of songs that have been half written for rather too long.

So, what will 2008 have in store? My crystal ball is very fuzzy at the moment but I can see a video blog or 2 coming at some point - hey, maybe I will play guitar too! That has been a long time coming...