Archive for November, 2004

Ooh! Another Shiny Thing!

Tuesday, November 30th, 2004

Yes, the Paul’s Blog Site has another new feature. Look over there on the right, where it says “My Links”, and you’ll see a link to “Who’s Who in Paul’s Blog”. Feel free to laugh at the horrible pics I’ve used, of all my bestest chums.

And don’t be upset if you’re not in there…you will be when I get round to you!

Time for a Sign

Tuesday, November 30th, 2004

I came up with a new money making idea last night.

I’m sure you’ve all seen those display signs where text scrolls across the screen: They’re normally in shop windows and say things like Apple’s 38p per pound or See Santa Here!. (By the way, did you hear about the dyslexic devil-worshipper who sold his soul to Santa?). Anyway, I reckon it should be possible to run one of those from a car battery and make it do mirror writing, then mount it on the bonnet of a car for the benefit of drivers in front.

For ease of use, they could come pre-programmed with the following messages:

  • Turn your rear fog lights off, you selfish prat
  • Oi! Grandma! This is a 50 limit you know
  • Either use the phone or drive you twonk

Orders may be placed in the comments.

Speaking of signs, there’s a shed sales place on the Farnham bypass that I used to drive past quite regularly: They always had a banner on the front fence appropriate to the time of year, for example:

  • Dare you buy her a shed for Mothers’ Day?
  • A shed is for life, not just for Christmas
  • “R” reg sheds (and that gives you an idea how long ago it was)

When I came past there at the weekend, they had one up saying “I’m a shed, get me out of here”.

Over

Monday, November 29th, 2004

Well, it appears to be the last day of my holiday, and apart from next Monday (of which more nearer the time), my last day off of the year. To anyone who knows me even slightly well, it’ll come as no surprise to know that I achieved only a tiny fraction of what I intended to: My main target for the week-and-a-bit was to complete the geocache Grockles Gumbo: Here Be Treasure!, and although I managed 14 caches (plus three trig points), that wasn’t one of them.

So, tomorrow it’s back to work, and I’m plunging right back into the period-end paperwork: Regular readers will know just how much I love that little task! Still, the damp problem notwithstanding I’ve enjoyed the week and Christmas isn’t THAT far away – ooh, and I had a letter today which made me think of Summer holidays, and that’s even better. Better yet than that was an email from Mark the Buddhist confirming the date of his nuptials with the lovely June.

And tonight at Hospital Radio we’re having another of our Chinese takeaway nights, celebrating Mark’s (different one) safe return from Florida. Verily my cup overfloweth – which can only add to the damp.

Weekend

Sunday, November 28th, 2004

Oh. I seem to have forgotten to blog on Saturday. Actually I didn’t, Saturday night I was without Internet access, in spite of my best efforts wrestling with a BT Openzone connection which wouldn’t connect.

Anyway, the main event of the weekend was in Kent: My chums Gill and Geoff celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary this Wednesday, so today they renewed their marriage vows in church, this being followed by a bring and share lunch in the room at the back of the church. As you can see from the pic, there was cake…there was also a room full of people, all there to share the happy occasion with the two G’s and their families. The wedding album was doing the rounds, including some pics of Geoff when he had more hair than he does now – I didn’t manage to copy any of the pics, but here are some pictures of Lewis Collins in “The Professionals” to give you an idea.

Of course I couldn’t travel that far from home without some caching, so on the way up I collected A Very Worthy Cache, a new one planted near me a couple of days ago. I also did Ockham Common, the one which I failed to find on the day of the Raynet Zone AGM, and another nearby cache, Cobham’s Quest.

And after all that excitement, I’m for an early night!

Slosh

Saturday, November 27th, 2004

Today I:
* Went into work and collected some product which the company donated to a church fundraiser.
* Did 0.001% of my Christmas shopping
* Washed a ton of cow manure off the Gruntmobile (See yesterday)
* Went to the above-mentioned fundraiser, where we had an uproarious time and raised something like a hundred squids for Tear Fund. Oh, and ate about a million pancakes each.

Sorry if it’s a bit boring, but I have also been looking at this website which I recommend all my UK readers (and others interested) to have a look at.

More interesting blog tomorrow, with a bit of luck

Gertcha, Cowson!

Thursday, November 25th, 2004

Today’s title is taken from a Chas ‘n Dave song – you’ll see the reason for it before we finish.

I have a builder coming to look at my damp problem, but not until this evening, so another day’s geocaching was possible! I went to the Andover area, and firstly did Buryed Treasure 1 (that’s not a spelling mistake, that’s how it’s spelt in the cache name and there is a reason for it!). It was a bit spooky trudging through the mist, with the distant booming of the artillery on Salisbury Plain. Then I went and failed to find the last stage of Little Toe’s Trilogy Part 1, the mighty multi that I was doing yesterday. I did get a trig point while I was there, though!

Then on to The Physician’s Stone, where the photo at the top of the entry was taken, followed by Buryed Treasure 2, from where I could hear the helicopters at the School of Army Flying warming up.

The last cache for the day was another multi, Quantum Leap Part 1, an interesting puzzle and a nice walk around an iron age hill fort. Four helicopters from the flying school were buzzing around all the time, adding to the interest (sorry, but I like helicopters). As the picture shows, when I got back to the Gruntmobile, it had been surrounded by little bullocks who weren’t too happy about giving me my car back – closer inspection revealed that they’d been rubbing up against it and covering it in mud.

At least, I hope it was mud.

A Day of Two Halves

Wednesday, November 24th, 2004

Today I spent the morning sitting at my PeeCee doing odd jobs (like writing a fabbo quiz) and waiting for the builder to arrive. He came, he peered, he said “Ooh, I’ve never seen damp like that before”. Then he left. I’ve got a proper builder coming to look tomorrow.

As soon as he’d gone, I grabbed my boots, leaped into the Gruntmobile and headed for the hills – well, North West Hampshire, to be exact. I did the remaining intermediate stages of the multicache “Little Toe’s Trilogy part 1″ (which I started on Sunday) but because of the late start I ran out of daylight before I could go on and do the last bit. One day…still, I walked 5 miles, so it was all good exercise. Just a shame that when I changed into my caching trousers I forgot to put the pedometer on.

And in all the excitement of yesterday I forgot to mention that I had a phone call from the hospital about my wrist: I can have my operation much sooner (although they still haven’t said how soon) if I agree to have it done at a private hospital in Salisbury, rather than wait for NHS closer to home. That’s fine by me, and when I mentioned it in the chatroom, one of my kind chummingtons volunteered to assist with transport, as I won’t be able to drive straight after the op.

Aren’t people nice?

The Truth, The Hole Truth…

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2004

I’m going to stop having holidays in November – every time I do, something goes wrong. Three years ago my Dad died, and admittedly everything since has paled into insignificance, but there’s always been something. Today i decided not to get up early to go geocaching, which is probably lucky really – as you’ll see if you study the bottom section of the walls in this pic, I’ve suddenly developed a damp problem.

So, the plumber was summoned, he arrived, and said, “Rip up those floorboards and I’ll be back in an hour”. Hence why, as you can see, I’ve got a hole in my floor, although the hole is now bigger than that.

As you can see there’s no sign of any leakage from the pipes under the floor, as the plumber pointed out when he came back (but not before he’d wheedled himself a cup of tea). So now the big hole in the floor remains, and I’m waiting for the builder to ring me back.

Life’s a never-ending round of fun, isn’t it? Though to be serious for a moment, I know that compared to many people’s problems, a bit of damp is nothing. So I’m going to count my blessings and stop whinging now. I still wish I’d gone geocaching this morning, though.

More Autumn Colours

Monday, November 22nd, 2004

First and foremost, Happy Birthday to my good chummington Jan: You aren’t younger than me any more Janny-poos!

I think I mentioned that I’ve got this week off work: Basically I’m just using up days that I need to take by the end of the year, but I’m sure you can all guess what I plan to do with my time.

Today I did four geocaches: First was A Very Green Cache, a fairly easy stroll along a muddy bridleway. Next came Airfields Memorial, a five-part multi around various locations connected with the New Forest’s wartime airfields. It’s about a four mile walk, which raised my step stats for the day nicely.

Next was a micro cache with some great views, Shirley’s Lookout. This was planned to be the last cache of the day, but the weather was still OK and I noticed that Dead Oak was only a mile and a half away, so I went and grabbed that one too. I think I gave a passing dog-walker a bit of a surprise when I emerged, arse-end-first, from the brambles at the side of the path.

Now just time to clean up before heading off to Hospital Radio for the evening.

Special Friends are Special People

Sunday, November 21st, 2004

The main activity for today involved a convivial get-together of a load of geocaching chums at a local pub. As you can see, a special presentation was made to our good chums Tim and June – I’m not sure Tim’s stomach is supposed to glow like that, I’m sure glad I wasn’t drinking the same as him! Of course, a meeting of that many cachers wouldn’t be complete without some caching: As I was in the area I did The Cockatrice, followed by a sepcial cache wot His Graciousness the King of Sweden had planted just for us to find: I can’t give you as link as it isn’t a “real” cache, just one for us!

Then I came home, doing the first couple of stages of my next Mighty Multicache Challenge on the way.

Saturday

Saturday, November 20th, 2004

A new cache was planted in Southampton last weekend – it’s part of the Victoria Country Park, where a military hospital was built during the crimean war, and the cacher wanders round the military cemetery as part of the cache. Not surprisingly the cache is called Remembrance. I got soaking wet and freezing cold while doing this one, and had to ring the King of Sweden for some advice, but I got there. Because I’m too…um…careful to pay to park, I had a 2½ mile walk in total, which is all good exercise!

I had a bit of a tantrum in Tesco on the way home – stupid people blocking up the cafe by not knowing how to use the coffee machine – but soon calmed down when I got home and discovered that my Jethro Tull CD wot I bought on eBay had arrived. Ooh, I’ve not heard some of these choons for years!

After the Beep

Friday, November 19th, 2004

Regular readers will know that earlier in the year, I had something of a surfeit of mobile phones.

I’ve now settled on which one I’m using regularly. It’s got loads of features: Three java games, plus the ability to download more; A web browser, which doesn’t seem to work with any useful websites; The ability to store 400 numbers, and allocate each it’s own ringtone-this is very useful, as it means I can tell it’s my Mum ringing without looking at the screen and reading “My Mum” on the display. I can send text or picture messages, make entries in my diary and set the alarm clock: It has a colour screen to give thos games extra life, and at the moment I have a picture of some nice blue flowers as a screensaver.

But there’s one feature I’d really like it to have, that I’ve never seen on any mobile phone: I’d like some kind of auto-reply feature, so that if someone sends me a text message while I’m driving, it sends back “Sorry, I’m driving at the moment, I’ll reply as soon as I can”. The phone already knows when it’s plugged into the car kit, so it shouldn’t be that difficult to implement, and it would be far more useful than all sorts of stupid games.

Mind you, I just got a personal best score on “Sky Diver”.

Another Shiny Thing

Thursday, November 18th, 2004

I heard a fantastic new DVD being advertised on the radio the other day.

“Ooh,” I thought, “I know just who’d like that for Christmas”, so this morning I rang his girlfriend to check that she wasn’t planning on getting it for him herself. She’d never even heard of it, so that was OK, and I started trawling the net. Amazon had never heard of it, and both WH Smith and SendIT.com are currently out of stock; SendIT, however, have promised me faithfully that they’ll get it to me in time for Christmas, so that’s OK.

There isn’t any other news, except to say that I was surprised by the comments left after my blog of yesterday: I was expecting a load of vitriol for daring to criticise Children in Need, but it looks as if I’m not in as much of a minority as I thought I was. Luckily, tomorrow morning there wouldn’t be any radio-listening anyway, as I have some Important Visitors to look after. Deep joy.

It’s a CiN

Wednesday, November 17th, 2004

I had a bit of trouble with the radio this morning.

Normally my radio listening of choice is Radio 4, or, if I’m at work and just want some background, Radio 2. But you may have noticed that all this week, Radio 2 has been wittering on about Children in Need. Now I don’t want to be all “Bah humbug” about this, because I’m sure CiN does some excellent and important work with the cash it raises, but I have to say that CiN and Comic Relief both wind me up something chronic. The main thing for me is that no other charity – and there are hundreds in the UK – has a hope in hell of raising any funds while either of those two is going on. Daft but true – do you know of anyone raising cash for anything else during either of these weeks? This is actually a very real problem, since the introduction of these two, plus the National Lottery, amounts raised by small charities have gone down: One charity local to me has cut expenses to the bone, yet is budgeted to make an £11000 loss this year.

There’s also the all-pervasiveness of it. I can’t get gentle background music in my office this week because some Irishman is wittering non-stop about the auction of pledges which money can’t buy. And that’s another thing – even if I was interested in any of the auction items there’d be no point bidding, because they all end up selling for far more than I can afford. And of course Friday night TV will be the usual load of old cods, has-been soap stars I’ve never heard of pretending they can sing, the BBC newsreaders doing a song-and-dance routine, and “Special Editions” of comedy shows that weren’t funny the first time. Luckily it won’t bother me – between the Dressing-up Game and “The Simpsons” I’ll have more than enough to keep me amused.

Of course Children in Need does some great stuff, and the “ordinary people” (that’s you they’re patronising, folks) who raise funds for it are great too. But next year, if you want to do your bit for charity, why not investigate some local organisation that does good in your own community and help them instead?

Rice Cake

Tuesday, November 16th, 2004

Today in the chatroom, there was some confusion between eighties TV icon Anneka Rice, and American nightmare politician Condoleeza Rice (I don’t know if I spelled that correctly, and frankly I don’t care).

I’ve never been much into TV, but I always used to make sure I was home in time to see Treasure Hunt when Anneka Rice was presenting it. She rode around in a helicopter, guided by clues from contestants in the studio, and if she found four locations within the specified time, the studio contestants won a prize. They couldn’t see her, but we could, as she was followed around by a cameraman with an “Anneka’s Buttocks” fetish, the cause of many disturbed nights sleep for the schoolboy G0TLG.

Needless to say (and I promise that when I started on this subject I didn’t intend to go this way), we’ve come to a Hospital Radio story: We used to put on an annual special, broadcasting from a marquee on the lawn in front of the General Hospital, and one year we decided to do a Treasure Hunt style programme. Anneka’s place was taken by a DJ from the local independent radio station and the helicopter was replaced by my car: Clues were hidden in various locations connected with Hospital Radio, and as the contestants in the marquee guided us by mobile phone, we zipped around the city finding the clues.

It was great fun and everyone enjoyed it, and an edited version of the programme won the “Best Outside Broadcast” category in that year’s National Hospital Radio Awards. Three of the programme team – me, co-producer Sarah and programme presenter Graham, went to the Telecom Tower in London and had our prize presented by Sue Barker.

And on the way home we had a nice piece of cheese.

More C**p

Monday, November 15th, 2004

Following my mention the other day of the Crap Towns website, I’ve been having another look at it and preparing a nomination for Southampton: I know it’s my home town, but I think you have to really live somewhere to properly appreciate how awful it is. Of course, Southampton has a bit of an unfair advantage in being crap – start with a seaport, add a shipbuilding industry, then close the shipbuilders and half the docks and you’re a long way down the road to crapness already. Add a university, then an “Institute”, and crapness is as good as yours.

But what’s really surprised me about the list, is how many of the places on there are places where we’ve held Hospital Radio conferences: I suppose Bolton, Hull, Leeds, Stoke and Liverpool were all bound to be there, and Slough (ugh! Slough!) deserves a special Crap Town website all to itself. I was surprised to see Peterborough (which I thought was crap, but few agreed with me) and Bedford on there, but like I said, you have to live somewhere to really know it.

Equally surprisingly was one place we’ve been to which wasn’t on the list: Plymouth. I’ve been to Plymouth four times, and on three of them I came away with food poisoning. The other time was when I stayed in an hotel some way outside the city and only ventured in for the day.

I suppose it’s reassuring that our next venue (Belfast) isn’t listed, although it still crops up on the television news for other reasons rather too often for my liking. The following conference is in Portsmouth (listed as crap), and places being researched for future events include Blackpool (listed) and Norwich (not yet listed).

There must be some connection…

Brrr!

Sunday, November 14th, 2004

It was flippin’ cold this morning. In fact, it was so cold I had three layers on, plus my Pompey scarf and wooley hat, when I went out to church this morning. I was minibus man for church, so I did the usual pickup run, and took everyone home afterwards. Then I headed for Gosport, where we had a regional Hospital Radio meeting at the hospital.

Oh, and of course I fitted a geocache into the day. Not far from the hospital is Crack!!!, a nice easy little cache with some good views over the creek.

Cr*p Towns

Saturday, November 13th, 2004

Today I have been mostly washing the Gruntmobile, outside and in. Oh, and being abused by text message and MSN, about the football results.

I started blogging on the subject of the petition which had made me angry yesterday, but got distracted while trying to do a bit of research on Google, since it flashed up a database of crap towns and I was amazed that neither Southampton nor Nottingham was in it. Several towns that I’ve visited were in there, however, and with the exception of Shepton Mallet I agree with everything that everyone said. Go and have a look for yourself here and see if your favourite place has been nominated.

As for the petition, I’ve decided that to blog about it would be to accord it more importance than it deserves, so I’ll simply say to the world in general: The fact that I hate Bliar and am a Euro-sceptic probably makes me conservative (lower-case “C” intentional), but please don’t send me any more right-wing c**p like this.

Stupid

Friday, November 12th, 2004

I had one of those e-mail petitions today: Normally I just ignore them – even the ones I don’t agree with don’t upset me very much, but this one made me so angry that I decided to blog about it. Then I realised I was too angry to blog about it coherently, so let’s try something else.

There was a survey in the papers yesterday about the daft things tourist information officers get asked: One is Cumbria contributed “Can you show me on the map, where the English accent stops and the Scottish one begins?”, which is pretty good. The Edinburgh Tourist Office were asked what time the one o’clock gun fired, and someone visiting Surrey wanted to know “Is Dorking something that only English people do?” (actually, having been there, I think it probably is).

I love the idea of “Dorking” being a verb: One of my favourite road signs is in Sussex, near Arundel, and it points to “Ford Climping”.

“What did you do last weekend?”
“Oh, I went to Sussex to get my Ford climped”

Then of course, a friend of mine lives right alongside the Earwash Canal. I’m told it’s pronounced “Ereh-wash”, but I still think it’s funny. Local placename conventions can throw up some amusing items – in parts of Hampshire, a small vally is called a “bottom”, and there’s one I’ve visited called “Betty Mundy’s Bottom”. Would you build a house there?
“Where do you live?”
“I’m building a house in Betty Mundy’s Bottom”

And after work, of course, I went and did a geocache: Steve and Peter recently planted Peter’s Cache not far from home, so I went and found it!

Remember

Thursday, November 11th, 2004

On the radio at lunchtime I heard some smug scumbag declaring that it was time for Remembrance Day to move on: Next year will be sixty years since the end of WW II for goodness’ sake…

The first world war may well have been a series of monumental cock-ups by the allied Generals (in fact, there’s no “may have been” about it): The Second is, admittedly, along time ago and most of those who fought are no longer with us: But those of us who live in a free world must be made to remember that in war, people die: They suffer horrific injuries: those left at home lose loved ones. And of course, death in wartime didn’t end sixty years ago. Rosie Boycott (for the smug scumbag was she) said that “The tragedy of death in war is much smaller than it was”. Yes she did chums – amazing, isn’t it? There may be fewer such tragedies now, but each is as big a disaster to those affected by it as ever.

When I give to charities, I rarely wear their insignia, and if I buy a sticker on flag day it usually goes in my wallet rather than on my shirt. But I’m wearing my poppy proudly, and on Sunday I’ll take my place alongside veterans of many wars for the two minutes silence.

(EDIT: Just realised that this might give the wrong idea: I’m not an ex-seviceman and I have little right to stand alongside these men. I’m just ordinary me, humbled to tears at the sacrifices made by millions)

Those who forget the mistakes of the past are condemned to repeat them: Those who think that forgetting wars is a path to peace must not be allowed their way.

Update…with thanks to Scott J

Wednesday, November 10th, 2004

Do you like websites that convey a serious message in a humorous way?

Go and look at this website. Don’t worry if you’re at work, there’s nothing there that’ll get you into trouble*. Just go and look at it.

*Unless you get into trouble for looking at non-work websites of course. But then, you’re looking at this.