Archive for July, 2005


Thursday, July 21st, 2005 will be taking a break while I’m on me hols, chums – I’ll be blogging every so often if I can find a usable wireless net connection, but you’ll generally have to do without me, I’m afraid :-( .


Wednesday, July 20th, 2005

Just in time for my hols, my new geocaching signature items arrived:

Artwork by an up-and-coming talented young artist, item produced by


Wednesday, July 20th, 2005

I’ve been doing my holiday packing – albeit not as much as I should, I’m supposed to be going to a barbecue tonight but I’ll have to skip that to try to get the hollibob preparations back on course.

One of the things that slowed me down last night, was sorting through my wash bag. I know some people who have to wait to pack their wash kit at the last minute, after they’ve done their last hand-wash / tooth brush etc before going away. I’m a bit better organised than that, having two of nearly everything1, so I can pack my travelling stuff without having to go without a bath until I get there.

Anyway, last night I dug through my washbag, and found:
Two empty shampoo miniatures
Two empty shower gel miniatures
An empty mouthwash container
Three miniature bars of soap stolen obtained from the Falcon Hotel, Stratford-on-Avon, and one rather bigger from the Europa Hotel, Belfast.
A (non-electric) toothbrush, and an odd bottle of tooth gel that I only ever use when I’m away2
A microcache 35mm film pot full of salt tablets
Four disposable razors
A horrible sticky mess which I think is explained by the emptiness of the first five items.

I tried rinsing out the sticky mess, with limited success: Luckily, in my big-box-of-stuff-I’ve-had-for-years-and-don’t-remember-where-most-of-it-came-from, I found a virgin wash bag3, so I packed what was left of my washing stuff (after I’d thrown out the empty and irredeemably sticky) into it.

Then I remembered just after I’d gone to bed, that I haven’t packed any clothes yet – hence why I’m not going to the barbie tonight :-(

1 Except electric toothbrush batteries, of which I should have two, but currently have none. Oh pooh.
2 I use conventional toothpaste at home.
3 It really is a Virgin wash bag – it’s got “Virgin Airways” written on it. It was a free gift when they flew me to Americaland.


Tuesday, July 19th, 2005
How to make a Gottlegog
5 parts friendliness
3 parts silliness
1 part energy
Layer ingredientes in a shot glass. Add a little cocktail umbrella and a dash of sadness



I wonder how many more of these I can find on the web (or more accurately, how many I can nick from other people’s blogs)? And more to the point, who the heck sits and thinks them all up?

Sad News

Monday, July 18th, 2005

I posted last week, that the son of my church friends was missing after the London Underground bombings.

We heard on Friday that Richard’s body had been found and identified. As Jenny said last week, “You think you’re far away from a tragedy, but there’s always a link and it’s closer than you think”.

Thinking of Trevor and Beverley and their family.

Other Weekend Activities

Sunday, July 17th, 2005

I blogged about the main event of the weekend yesterday1. Suffice for that to say that the happy couple had a lovely day, the speeches had some of the female rellies in tears, and it was all rather fabby. The page in the Gallery tells the story of the day, and Mark and June should, by now, be on their way to the honeymoon in the Lake District.

Which means I can update you to what else has been going on – notably caching ;) . I took the day off work on Friday so I wouldn’t be thrashing round the M25 in the Friday evening rush hour, and drove up in the morning instead – which, of course, gave me the chance to do some caching in Epping Forest! I’d calculated in advance that a five mile walk should take me within reach of five caches and a trig point (and a pub lunch), and the first for the day was The Beast of Epping Forest – Home Lair, where I wished I’d taken more seriously the warning about not attempting this one in shorts. Ow. I also used the first of my logbook stickers featuring the personalised artwork prepared for me by a talented up-and-coming young artist.

Then it was on to The Lost Pond, not too difficult a find, and an interesting microcache, Boudicca’s Stone, hidden near an iron age hill fort within the forest. I failed to find High Beech Tu Bish’vat, then to my annoyance later discovered that I had a spoiler photo saved on the PDA. After lunch it was Big View, and finally for the day, a trig point, cunningly disguised as a bush in a pub car park.

Then on to the home of Mark and June to relax for a while, before Mark’s parentals arrived and we went for our evening meal at a local Harvester.

Saturday’s events are documented elsewhere, if you go and look at the Gallery, the when it was all over I went home. Sunday has been spent sorting out the pictures and blogging :-) .

1 Actually, I blogged about it ten minutes ago and edited the datestamp – I won’t tell if you don’t.

Best Man’s Speech

Sunday, July 17th, 2005

I did warn you I’d blog this – I spent too long on it to only use it once…

It’s traditional, I know, for the best man to pepper his speech with stories intended to embarrass the bride and groom. Unfortunately, I don’t really know June well enough to have many stories about her – and the one I have, I’m not allowed to use….

…luckily I’ve known Mark for nearly thirty years, so I’m sure we can come up with something. I wonder if he can guess which story I’m going to start with?

Imagine if you will, a camp site in Ribblesdale, alongside the Pennine Way. It’s raining – in fact it’s been raining for several days. Incidentally, I hope you appreciate the effort I’ve gone to to make this speech entertaining for everyone – if you don’t like the speech, you can always admire the scenery. Anyway, the only dry place on the campsite is the toilet block, which has a list of things you’re not allowed to do as long as your arm. The wettest place on the campsite is not, as you might think, outside: It’s inside a small tent, the same shape and colour as a pimple, in the far corner of the site. Inside this tent is a pair of walkers so hyped on Campers’ Cuisine and caffeine, and so fed up with the rain, that they’re convinced that they can stop the rain if only they shout loudly enough, “We believe in fairies, Tinkerbell!”

Incidentally, for those of you who haven’t experienced it, Campers Cuisine deserves a quick explanation. It’s a dried food substitute that’s easy to carry in a rucksack and has no taste or nutritional value whatsoever: You mix it with boiling water to make a porridge-like consistency, then mix it with whisky to make it edible.

That pimple-shaped tent has followed us around several of the long distance paths around the country: On the South West Way we tried to put it up inside a hotel room – I can’t remember why, but I’m sure alcohol was involved. We carried it, and the rest of our camping gear, around the Cotswold Way, where we stayed in Bed and Breakfasts every night – not such a waste of effort as you might think, as at the B&B in Birdlip we had to fire up the meths-powered camping stove to cook our evening meal, the only nearby eatery being far outside our budget.

I don’t remember if we had the tent with us on the night we stayed in Newquay Youth Hostel: I do remember that the hip flask was empty that day, so we bought a new bottle of Best Albanian Scotch Whisky to top it up. Unfortunately, we bought a rather bigger bottle than we needed, so rather than carry the surplus we sat in a beach hut over the road from the hostel and drank straight from the bottle until it was empty. In our own defence I should add that if you were staying in Newquay Youth Hostel, you wouldn’t want to be sober either.

I’m afraid, June, this is your new husband – although in fairness I must add that on that wet night in Ribblesdale, it was his idea to abandon the tent to its fate and spend the night in yet another bed + breakfast.

By comparison, June and her “Duck Potty” seem almost normal. They thought I’d forgotten about “Duck Potty”…

As I’ve said, I don’t know June all that well: But I do know that she’s made Mark happy – sometimes sickeningly so – and that’s good enough for me. I know that we’ll all agree that they make a great couple, and I’m sure you join me in wishing them happiness, peace, prosperity, and all that they wish themselves.

Ladies and Gentlemen – Mr and Mrs Lawrence!

If you follow the link over to the Gallery page, there’s a link there to some pics of the wedding day.

Better Late than Never

Thursday, July 14th, 2005

I planned to have this ready to post on the day that Simon quit his job, but I’m nearly as rubbish as he is when it comes to deadlines.

Ah well, good luck anyway, mate :-)

What’s in a Name?

Thursday, July 14th, 2005

Yesterday evening after work I was heading for the gym – until Rockin’ Rob texted to ask if I was going caching…

The target was a new cache in the area, TRIcKEY. It’s by a local caching team who always place excellent caches, so we had high expectations and we weren’t disappointed, an excellent multi-stage puzzle!

In other news, I heard today that my new membership grade in the International Institute of Risk and Safety Management has been approved, giving me another six letters after my name! I’m expecting more soon, as the trade associations are all restructuring their membership grades and we all get bigger (but no more meaningful) designations. I wonder how many you need before the people who print business cards start charging extra?

Shrouded in Mystery

Wednesday, July 13th, 2005

I’m currently reading The Blood and the Shroud by Ian Wilson.

It’s an investigation into the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin as the burial cloth of Jesus, and while I’m currently only halfway through, it seems to be coming to the conclusion “It isn’t possible to be sure one way or the other”, although Wilson declares himself a believer in its authenticity.

Carbon14 dating evidence has shown the Shroud to date from the medieval period, although Wilson offers plausible explanations as to how this could be wrong, and presents known examples of equivalent errors in carbon dating. Similarly, there is much evidence (pollen, ingrained dirt etc) of the Shroud’s origins in first-century Israel, although again, Wilson casts doubt on the evidence and shows how the results could be wrong. What is certain is that for every expert who claims incontrovertible proof one way or the other, there’s an equally qualified expert prepared to rubbish the scientific method of the first, and Wilson presents pretty good evidence that all of the scientific investigations into the Shroud’s provenance – whether they finally come down in favour of its authenticity or not – have been flawed in some way.

My personal view – and most of my readers will know that I’m a committed Christian – is, “does it really matter?”. The best that Shroud believers can hope for from scientific proof is that one day, there’ll be 100% certainty that the Shroud is the burial cloth of a Jewish man who died from crucifixion in the first century AD, and that alone won’t convince anyone that the man is necessarily Jesus. Similarly, I really don’t think that any Christian’s faith would be disturbed much by proof that the Shroud is a fake.

Which raises the questions – if the Shroud is a fake, who created it, and why, and how? The technique by which the image was formed (whether fake or genuine) is unknown in present times, and the anatomical accuracy of the Shroud images is beyond anything else from the time the Shroud is known to have existed. Similarly, if the Shroud is genuine, why is there no historical record of it predating the time when “coincidentally”, the radiocarbon dating shows that it was made?

I don’t have a firm view one way or the other, and as I’ve said, it doesn’t bother me much – my Christian faith is built on much firmer foundations than a questionable relic. But it remains an interesting conundrum, and I look forward to the rest of the book, and to seeing where future scientific investigations lead.

Smelling Pistakes

Tuesday, July 12th, 2005

Right, so if that’s a sign of how much care they take over advertising themselves, why should I trust them with my business?

I saw another one like that a few months back, in the window of a different letting agency. It proclaimed “Properties wanted for awaiting clients”. The funny thing is, that sentence could almost mean something, but not what they wanted it to mean, I’ll bet. I don’t want to sound like an old fogey, bemoaning the way standards are slipping, but surely between the shops concerned and the printers who made the signs, there must be someone with a reasonable standard of literacy? We had a rash of signs went up at work a few years back, saying things like:

“Do not wedge this door open”

Just like that – including the speech marks. I think someone must have written to the printers saying ‘I want a sign that says “Do not wedge this door open”, please’, and that’s exactly what the printer made.

I hope to have some exciting news about my new geocaching signature item soon…

Boring Blog

Monday, July 11th, 2005

It’s a bit boring ‘cos my birthday’s the same as Sarah’s, so if you’ve read her blog, this one won’t be much different. I have included a few comments, though…

Your Birthdate: October 23
With a birthday on the 23rd of the month (5 energy) you are inclined to work well with people and enjoy them.
No. I’m a boring old misanthrope, definitely not a team player.

You are talented and versatile, very good at presenting ideas.
Hmm..’spose that’s true…

You may have a tendency to get itchy feet at times and need change and travel.
Nope. Boring as anything, I’ve worked for the same employer for 18 years

You tend to be very progressive, imaginative and adaptable.
Probably true

Your mind is quick, clever and analytical.
Now that’s true!

A restlessness in your nature may make you a bit impatient and easily bored with routine.
starting to get it right now…

You may have a tendency to shirk responsibility.

Very sociable, you make friends easily and you are an excellent traveling companion.
No, I’m reserved and quiet with people I don’t know, it takes me ages to know someone well enough to think of them as a friend.

What Does Your Birth Date Mean?

Just When You Think…

Sunday, July 10th, 2005

…things can’t get any worse.

On Thursday I said:
“Nothing I could say would be adequate.

That is all”

This morning, I learned that the eldest son of one of my church chums is believed to be among the as-yet-to-be-recovered victims. He was known to be intending to be on the Kings Cross train, and hasn’t been heard from since.

UPDATE: Thanks to the Merman for telling me about this link to the news story. They’ve now done the touring-around-London bit, and still no news.

I was going to blog about last night’s events in Birmingham, but I’ll save that for another day.

Picture This

Saturday, July 9th, 2005

Jenny has been nagging me to change the picture of me in the “Who’s Who” section of these pages: Apparently since I’ve lost so much weight (2½ stone1 as of this morning), I no longer look like that. I’ve had a search through my pictures of me, and suggest this for the new one:

D’you reckon it’ll do the job?

This one was produced by everyone’s favourite pizza-scoffing loon, whose work can be found here. The resolution you’re looking at is much less than the original, as I’ve format-converted it so more of you can look at it. Anyway, he produced this for me to use on my new geocaching signature item, and I must say I’m pretty chuffed with it.

And on the subject of pictures, if you hop over to the Gallery (follow the “My Gallery” link in the sidebar)2, you’ll see I’ve added some pictures from my week in Sunny Stratty.

1 Or 15.9 kilos, for the youngstersamong you.
2 Yeah, I know it’s obvious. But not to all of my readers, it wouldn’t be…

Homeward Bound

Friday, July 8th, 2005

Well, home in fact, but that isn’t a song title.

What’s so great about having a digital camera1, is that when a great picture presents itself, you can take loads of shots, and just pick the best one later. No film is wasted because the memory card can just be erased and used again :-) .
This theory tends to fall over when you get home after, for example, a week in Stratford-upon-Avon and find you’ve taken forty-seven pictures of a duck. Not “of ducks”, but of the same duck. OK, she did look fairly cute with about twenty million ducklings scampering around her, but that’s a bit excessive. I’ve no idea if this one I’ve presented you with is the best, I just picked one that wasn’t obviously overexposed and uploaded it.

And here’s one of me relaxing after a day of struggling with the Health & Safety implications of the Consumer Protection Act and the Service and Sales of Goods Act. I only realised after I’d checked out that I’d missed out on loads of bloggy potential in the fact that my room was 101: I suppose being in Stratford I was thinking Shakespeare, not Orwell.

Mind you, I wasn’t thinking Shakespeare that much either: Once I’d booked in on Sunday and sorted myself out, I took a stroll down to the theatre to see what was on, and decided to go and see “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” on Tuesday (they show a different play each night). Unfortunately I then forgot about it until Wednesday morning, when the people on the next table at breakfast were discussing what a great production it’d been.


1 Apart from the obvious fact that it’s a gadget, of course


Thursday, July 7th, 2005

Nothing I could say would be adequate.

That is all


Wednesday, July 6th, 2005

I’ve not really been following the bid, it won’t make much difference to me – although I dare say I’ll get the opportunity to do some Raynet-ing around the event. But it has to be said…

Ahem. We were all in the hotel bar watching Sky News when the announcement came through. It’d’ve made no difference if we’d been in the restaurant waiting for lunch – the waitresses were all in the bar as well: I even got a kiss from one of them.

Then after the day’s learning was over, I went and did a cache, Blue Bells.


Tuesday, July 5th, 2005

Bah – my ISP have done it again. The amazing Wanadoo – so called because they stop you dooing anything you might actually Wanna – have for a long time blocked the sending of email from mobile devices, allegedly as an anti-spam measure. Now they seem to have a new wrinkle, apparently to protect me from the consequences of reading my own email. Luckily, with the assistance of 34sp and the co-operation of Rockin’ Rob, I’ve managed to start reading my mail, and my chum JPL has offered to sort me out with sending before I go on holiday in a few weeks time.

It’s still damned annoying though.

Anyway, I heard a joke over dinner last night:

This American charters a private jet to fly from Paris to London City. As they start their approach, he says to the pilot,
“Hey Mac, what’s that down there?”
The pilot replies,
“Oh, that’s the Queen Elizabeth Bridge. It’s the most downstream bridge over the Thames”

“So how long did it take to build that?”

“About eight years”

“In America, that would have taken about six months”

A bit later, they’re a bit further upstream, and the American has another question:

“Hey Mac, what’s that down there?”

“That’s the Thames Barrier. It protects London from the effects of flood tides”

“So how long did it take to build that?”

“About twelve years”

“In America, that would have taken about nine months”

They get a bit further, and pass the Canary Wharf tower.

“Hey Mac, what’s that?”

“Blimey,” says the pilot, “I dunno, it wasn’t there this morning.”

Learning Opportunity

Monday, July 4th, 2005

Course day one: Gurgle. Flippin’ European legislation – still, if anyone wants to know anything about Article 137 of the Treaty of Rome, I would appear to be yer man1. As usual the course are a fairly lively bunch: The only one I’ve met before is someone who was on my Diploma Part 1 course, and who I remember for getting so drunk the night we went to the pub quiz, that the next day we didn’t see her at all.

One of the side benefits of these courses is building up a network of health + safety professionals from other industries: The world of health + safety is pretty small, and most people know most other people, so it’s good to build the contacts up2.

But now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go and network: I think they’re all in the bar watching “The Simpsons”.

PS to JG – I won’t know until Wednesday night, if I’ll be free on Thursday evening. Would that be too late to let you know?

1 At least, for the ten minutes that I’m likely to remember it.
2 Mind you, at my last appraisal I listed the time I spend in the SimonG chatroom as “Networking with colleagues from other industries”.

Long Weekend

Sunday, July 3rd, 2005

Well, Saturday went well: I had a meeting in Studley to go to, so I made sure I left early enough to stop for a geocache on the way. The latest variety of cache is called an earthcache, not a cache in the true sense, but an interesting geographical feature of some kind which you have to visit, and post photos to prove you’ve been there. There aren’t many in the UK yet, and I hadn’t yet done one, so I stopped in Oxford on my way through, and visited Rock Edge – not only my first earthcache, but my 100th cache of 2005.

The meeting was fun, meeting up with some chums I’ve not seen since last August, then when it finished I had time for a couple of nearby caches: First was Freddy the Teddy, only just up the road from where we had the meeting, then I went over to Feckenham1 to do Berrow Hill, which as the name suggests involves a fair climb.

Then rather than going home, I spent the night at Stratford-upon-Avon youth hostel: I’ll explain why in the “Sunday” section of this offering.

Oh – I guess that means now. Tomorrow2 is the first day of my next course module, so tonight I have to be in the hotel in Stratford-upon-Avon. Driving all the way home yesterday, just to turn round and come back today, would have wasted a lot of potential caching time, so I decided to stay locally.

As for the rest of Sunday, well let’s just say that if you’re one of those who don’t like caching blogs, stop reading now – although before you go I must just mention how sorry I am to have missed the birthday party of Ickle Godson Daniel. Anyway, today’s “must do” cache was Blog Standard: Panorama, one of the Blog Standard series of which my own Bloggers’ Bog is one. Then it was on to the nearby Alpha Quest: M, which was a bit tougher than expected. After lunch it was St. Peters Corner, a rather tricky micro: Close to the Edge, a multi well protected by GPS-defeating tree cover, and Edge of the Hill. And now I’m in the hotel which is going to be home until Friday, and it’s time to eat.

1 *Checks spelling carefully*
2 Or more likely today, for most of you reading this. Monday, anyway.

Smell the Flowers – And See Them.

Friday, July 1st, 2005

Those of you who know me really well may already know that I only have one eye.

Actually that’s not 100% of fact – I have two eyes, but only one of them works as the designer intended. With the other, I can tell day from night, but that’s about all. With this in mind, you’ll see why I’m a bit paranoid about my eyesight. I’ve always hated that test the optician does when he puffs air into your eyes to measure the pressure of the fluid inside – a high pressure is an early warning sign of glaucoma, which being diabetic, I’m more prone to than average anyway.

When I saw the optician last Saturday, he commented that the presure was higher than he’d like, but explained that for many people pressures are normally higher in the morning than the evening, and that before we panic I should go back and have them checked late in the day. Of course I took the news calmly, only running around screaming “OHMYGODI’MGOINGBLIND” a couple of times a day.

Anyway, today was the repeat evening test, which found the pressures to be much more normal, and apparently I’m not going blind after all. Although I joke about it now, those who know me will recognise that fact that I didn’t talk about my fears with anyone as a sign of how upset I was.

Needless to say, the good news had to be celebrated, and what better way than with a spot of geocaching? I hadn’t expected to do any today – I’d even left my GPS at home – but just before I left work I’d spotted a few new caches, placed by our blog-commenting chum Kitty Hawk, and calculated that using the clue, and plotting the locations on the map, I should be able to find two of them without the GPS, and so it proved – not only that, but I was “first to find” on both Titanic Micro and the nearby God’s House Tower, both part of a rather fabbo series called the Solent Way series. I’m quite looking forward to doing the rest!

By the way, I know the picture up there look Photoshopped, but I promise it isn’t – it’s just a trick of the light or something.

Not sure how much bloggy action you’re going to get over the next few days, I’m going away for a bit, but I’ll do my best: I’ve got access to wireless networking, it just depends on how well it works in the hotel.