Archive for April, 2006

Running Late

Sunday, April 30th, 2006

Today started rather later than expected, when I woke up and realised I had 35 minutes to get to church. I hate oversleeping.

After church – yes, I did make it in time, just – I went to B&Q: Some good chums of mine are getting married in the near future, and have requested B&Q vouchers as wedding presents, so I dropped in with the intention of getting some, as well as some other things I needed: Unfortunately the car park was packed to bursting with trainee Vicky Pollards, so I decided to come back after lunch…

It was no better then, but at least I wasn’t hungry ;-) . I got the vouchers, and one of the other things I wanted: For the remainder I had to go to Halfords, and by the time I’d done all that I’d lost the will to do anything energetic – so the rest of the day was passed in odd jobs like writing wedding cards, a bit more advance work on the Jenny and Chris wedding website, and checking out Nottingham / Derby caches ready for next weekend.

And that’s been my day, really. Still outstanding is checking the car out ready for next weekend’s long trip, packing, and shoe polishing. Lucky it’s a bank holiday tomorrow.

Celebrate!

Saturday, April 29th, 2006

Those of you who follow sport may have noticed that with this afternoon’s footie results in, Portsmouth are safe and cannot now be relegated :-). So that’s good.

I got the news that we’d beaten Wigan (pretty unexpectedly, but they all count) with a text message from my chum Janny-poos, when I came out of the shower in the gym. Later confirmation that Birmingham had only drawn against Newcastle meant that they go down, along with West Brom and Sunderland, and we’re safe.

On the subject of the gym, I already mentioned that last Sunday was my best session to date, at 1730 calories. Starting with that, and aided by good sessions on Tuesday, Wednesday and this afternoon, this week is my best week so far with 5810.

If you look up to the top of the screen, you’ll see that so far – with a third of the year gone – I’ve achieved more than half my target number of calories for the year. And on that subject, tonight’s contribution from the “I don’t know if this’ll work” club is that I’ve automated the gym calories stats thing: I normally update it manually every Saturday afternoon, but of course next Saturday I’ll be a bit busy: So at midday next week, it should automatically change to the new version. But it probably won’t ;-)

On The Perils of Knowing Two People with the Same Name

Friday, April 28th, 2006

I made what could easily have been an embarrassing mistake the other night.

I was talking to a friend of mine, when I received a text message from a number I didn’t recognise. It soon became clear why I didn’t recognise it when I read it – it said “Hi, this is my new mobile number”, and was signed by someone I’ve not had contact with for a few months. “Urrrgh,” I commented, “I’ve had a text message from a pillock” (I didn’t exactly say pillock, but that’s specific enough for our purposes).

Imagine the embarrassment potential when I realised that the text hadn’t come from a pillock at all, but from a much nicer person who happens to have the same name – worse still, it was the girlfriend of the person to whom I made the comment :-( . Luckily, they’ve both got a sense of humour ;-) – at least, I hope they still have – and I’ve ‘fessed up, which reduces my guilt feelings a bit.

In other news, I’ve found a new caching-related game! The GeocacheUK website offers personalised maps for each UK cacher, showing the locations of every cache that person’s found. As you’ll see if you look at mine, when there are a load close together, it all joins up into a red blob – or as in my case, several red blobs with gaps in between.

So, the new game is picking and finding caches to colour in the gaps. This being the case, I was hoping to tell you I’d done two caches in the Bourne Valley – unfortunately one of them was a fail to find :-( . I DID get Brookside, though, so that puts a bit of red where it’s needed. Then I went on and did the first two stages of The Nine Brothers of Durham, a mighty nine-part multi-mega-puzzle cache :-) .

Current Affairs

Thursday, April 27th, 2006

John Prescott???

OK, there’s no evidence that the woman’s blind, so what’s going on? I suppose it just proves there’s someone for everyone, and also that there’s no accounting for taste.

In much more important news…I saw Sarah again last night. A load of their geocaching chums had got together and assembled a box of “Memories of Bob”, with some thoughts about him and some pictures taken of him at various cache get-togethers. The box had been passed to me, and I was given the honour of presenting it to Sarah on behalf of everyone. There were some lovely thoughts in there and I’m sure Sarah won’t mind me telling you all that she was deeply moved by it all.

I think that’s enough for today.

Oh-Oh-Oh It’s Magic

Wednesday, April 26th, 2006

Some of you will have seen the artwork which a certain pizza-scoffing artist loon has produced for Jenny and Chris’s wedding stationery.

Jenny asked if I could make that the header graphic for her blog sometime over the wedding weekend, then on second thoughts commented “Ah no, you’re coming up on the Friday aren’t you, so you’ll have to do it before you leave”. I reminded her that the hotel I’m staying in has wi-fi, so it isn’t that difficult, but then I thought “There must be a better way than that”.

So I asked my favourite pizza-scoffing internet consultant loon for advice on automatic time-generated picture changeover, and he gave me a bit of code that’ll do the job. I tested it out this afternoon in a hidden corner of one of my web pages, and at ten past two this afternoon, a picture of my ickle Godson turned into a map of Dartmoor. Since this was what I’d hoped would happen, it’s rather good news :-) . So that works, and all I’ve got to do is copy the code into Jenny’s page.

I’ve also started work on the “Wedding Pictures” website, but that WILL have to be done by wi-fi, since for some odd reason the pictures aren’t available in advance. What I plan to do is have the page ready on Jenny’s site, so that all I need to do on Saturday evening is get the pics from the photographer (whom I suppose I should e-mail at some time), and any other photographers who are there on the day1: Resize them, give them the predetermined file names and upload them.

For those of you unable to be there for whatever reason, I hope to have a quick-and-mean version of the picture gallery available on the web about 11:00 PM, but it depends how much I’m enjoying the party!

1 Stu? Andy? John? Please ;-)

Foiled Again

Tuesday, April 25th, 2006

My chums the Dorset Green Wellie Brigade1 – aided and abetted by Team Tate and Lady H. and the CBs2 – have been persuading me that a weekend caching in Dorset would be a good idea.

In an idle moment today, therefore, I did some research: I picked a nice youth hostel with a cluster of caches around it, and with a decent pub for eating just up the road. “When shall I go?” I thought, and looked at the calendar.

Curses, foiled again.

It doesn’t help that I’ve decided not to add anything (that I’m not already committed to) to the calendar between now and my next exam – which is only a frightening 11 weeks away. Then after that I’m on holiday, then it’s Jenny’s birthday weekend, followed by a cache bash being planned. Not long after that it’s the Great Yorkshire Cachepedition, then it’s nearly time for the next Hospital Radio conference, with a couple of Raynet commitments to fill in the gaps. And then it’ll be November :-( .

Oh well, I’m sure we’ll make it fit, as they say.

1 Sarah’s Mum and Dad
2 Sarah’s sister, plus Sam and Ollie

Plagiarism

Monday, April 24th, 2006

I had a subject all ready for today’s blog – but then I remembered that Henry’s Dad blogged the same thing two days ago. I even commented on it.

So rather than redo a subject that’s already been done perfectly well, I’ll just draw your attention to something I spotted on the news yesterday. The BNP1 were having a rally, and one group were holding a huge banner reading “British National Party – Black Country Branch”. I wonder if I was the only one thinking they must feel a right bunch of berks holding that?

Something nice happened today, but I can’t blog about it until later in the week – you’ll see why when I do :-) .

1 For which read “racist loony party”, for our visitors from forrin

Where Did the Weekend Go?

Sunday, April 23rd, 2006

Well, I’ve enjoyed the weekend…but it does seem to have flashed past!

Yesterday we had a Raynet training session, after which I went down to visit Sarah: We sat in the sun and discussed this and that, then Helen – Sarah’s sister – arrived, and we did more of the same, only with tea and chocklit biscuits. We chatted until the footie results came in (Portsmouth won, Southampton lost :-) ), then Sarah, Helen and the boys went to find Luttrell’s Tower (although Sarah already knew where it was, of course), and I headed for the Chinese takeaway.

This morning started with a visit to a different church to normal – my chum Lesley was being licenced as a reader at her new church, and a crowd of us went over to wish her all the best. After lunch, I headed for the gym, and did my best session of the year – 1730 calories burned! And now, if you’ll excuse me, I REALLY must go and do some revision.

As Promised…

Saturday, April 22nd, 2006

Some pics of yesterdays cache adventure evening around Whitchurch:

Some pretty wild flowers seen near “Do Your Homework”

One of many views of the river Test seen during the wander around the village.

These daffodils are in the churchyard at the southern end of the village

This bridge is part of the walk to “Portal’s Paper Chase”

Wot I Did After Work

Friday, April 21st, 2006

It’s Friday and the evenings are getting longer…what do you think? To get a cluster of caches I could do all together, I had to go all the way to Whitchurch, there being nothing nearer home than odd ones isolated on their own. It was worth it, though :-)

Tonight’s caches started with Do Your Homework, an interesting puzzle cache involving some homework maths questions such as might be set for an eight-year-old and a thirteen-year-old. The thirteen year old’s question was easy – it was statistics after all – but I have to admit, I had to write a spreadsheet to solve the supposedly easier one! Anyway, the cache was an easy enough fine, and the wildflowers were great.

Next was a multicache walk around Whitchurch itself, Just Test-ing. Some lovely locations, an easily solved puzzle, and a final location that I’ve often spotted while passing on the main road. Then finally, Portal’s Paper Chase, another great walk around the infant river Test.

Pictures tomorrow, if time allows :-)

Sweat

Thursday, April 20th, 2006

Sorry to be so brutal, but it’s true: Today I perspired freely.

I made a visit to the work location which is just round the cornerfrom where Henners lives: The site manager there had something to tell us, and when he’d done that, he had to tell the same thing to the peope who actually work there. Since a jelly factory is a continuous production process, you can’t just stop it and have a briefing meeting, so it was agreed that they’d stop the jelly-making-bit, and those of us who’d already been told would go and run the wrapping and packing section while all the factory blokes were told.

I HAVE worked in a packing section, but it was a long time ago. Heavens to betsy, what a mess. Apparently there was more product wasted in the hour that the four of us were running the packing section, than in a normal week when the proper people are doing it.

And it was hot, and we sweated :-( .

Wind

Wednesday, April 19th, 2006

Since my exam results1 arrived, I’ve been a lot more sanguine about checking the post.

Today’s post brought some raffle tickets from Marie Curie Cancer Care, and a newsletter from Greenpeace – I actually stopped paying my Greenpeace membership years ago, when they adopted their short-sighted policy toward GM foods, but they seem not to have noticed. This time they’re ranting about Tony Bliar’s new pro-nuclear-power policy. Apparently, trains carrying nuclear waste are passing through our cities…sometimes – and get this – at peak period! I think someone should tell them that if a flask WAS ruptured, time of day wouldn’t make an awful lot of difference – although I suppose if it happened at night, the glow-in-the-dark effect would at least be pretty.

Personally I’m a huge fan of wind turbines: Some people say they’re ugly eyesores, but I think they’re rather fantastic, majestic feats of engineering. Would I want one at the bottom of my garden? I wouldn’t mind, but I think Lidls might complain at the loss of their car park. What would I think if a wind farm was the view from my back bedroom window? Well, since the view is currently the aforementioned Lidls car park and a McDonalds drive-thru, it could only be an improvement.

The thing is, we need to do something – we can’t go on relying on fossil-fuelled power generation, and although current power generation is much more efficient than it used to be2 we need to find alternatives. And whether we like it or not, at the current state of technology, nuclear power is the only non-fossil alternative that can cope with our power usage.

1 Did I tell you about my exam results? Two passes?
2 Although no-one seems to have told Greenpeace3
3 Or maybe they weren’t listening

Bob

Tuesday, April 18th, 2006

Today was Bob’s funeral.

In as far as it’s possible, it was lovely: There were over a hundred people at the crematorium, including at least ten cachers and the same number of hospital radio people. Bob’s long-time best mate Stuart said some lovely things about him, and the service ended with Monty Python’s “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life”, which everyone agreed that Bob would have thought hugely funny.

I was going to make today’s blog a tribute to Bob telling you all what sort of person he was, but I can’t: Those of you who knew him, knew him too well to need my words. For anyone who didn’t know him, I couldn’t possibly sum him up in the length of a blog.

So I’ll just say: Bob – a very special, decent man. It’s a privilege to have known him, and I’m proud that he was my friend.

Bossy

Monday, April 17th, 2006

I wonder of any of my readers saw yesterday’s Mail on Sunday?

I don’t normally read the Mail, because I’m not a right-wing loony, although if there’s a copy laying around the office I usually nick the Sudoku pullout, and sometimes in the process I can’t avoid looking at a couple of the news items. Yesterday I picked up one of the complimentary copies in the gym, because there was a feature about the Queen which I thought my Mum would be interested in, and spotted somehting I thought would make a blog…

Anyone who’s been paying attention will know that I take my talking satnav everywhere with me – well, everywhere I take the car, anyway. A double page spread in the paper featured several of the ladies whose voices tell thousands of motorists where to go. Apparently, the voice of TomTom (which is the one I use) belongs to a half-Dutch half-English lady called Winnie, who as well as loads of voiceover work, works as an English teacher in a Dutch school. She claims to be astonished that so many male drivers find her voice to be sexy – I think it’s just because it’s one of the few chances we get to hear a female voice without being nagged.

The voice of Garmin is called Nadine, and she’s a former swimwear model who has homes in Cornwall and London, and who claims she’s rubbish at navigation because her geography teacher used to throw the blackboard rubber at her.

The real star, though, seems to be the TrafficMaster voice, who comes pre-installed in many cars, particularly Japanese ones: Her name’s Eve, and she’s famous to UK television viewers as the woman from the Ferrero Rocher ad.

Canal Route

Sunday, April 16th, 2006

Ahem…sorry about that, but I was a bit tired by the time I got home last night :-) . I collected Rob and Miche (who gave me some very nice diabetic chocs…and no, I haven’t scoffed the lot yet), and we headed up to Hungerford. Those of you with long memories…or who click on this link…will remember that last year on Easter Saturday we walked eight miles of the Kennet and Avon Canal, logging eight geocaches on the way. That was the middle section of a 33-cache “power trail”, and we’d decided that this year we’d do the western end.

From Hungerford to Crofton Beam Engines, and back to Great Bedwyn for the rail-replacement bus back to the start, is 12 miles, and in that distance we found:
Marsh Lock (Berks), where I dropped off the travel bug “Spideroo” (and Rob and Miche immediately picked him up!);
Cobblers Lock (Berks);
Picketfield Lock (Berks), which took some finding – both our GPSs were pointing right at the centre of the canal;
Between;
Froxfield Lock (Wilts)
Something for Everyone!
Fore Bridge (Wilts): This one’s a multi, you take some information from signposts and use it to calculate the final cache location. As we were doing the maths, four walkers appeared from a side path and shouted “it’s up there!” – turned out they were Bekandian, and Andybug and Ladybird, who were doing the whole power trail – 33 caches in 19 miles – in one day! They were dead right, it was “up there”, and having found it we returned to the canal towpath and moved on.

Next was Little Bedwyn Lock (Wilts), a very cunningly-concealed micro cache: While we were rooting around for this one and trying not to be spotted, two canoeists went past, one shouting “Hey Paul, alright mate?” as he went – I think I know who it was, but he was a bit of a blur where they were going so fast.

After this one should have been a pub lunch, but the pub marked on the map is now a posh restaurant, so we moved on. In the end we were glad we had.

Potters Lock (Wilts) was next, and then on to
Great Bedwyn Lock (Wilts), which we failed to find – in spite of some enthusiastic pokey-stick work by Rob
.

Then we headed into the village for our delayed lunch, at The Cross Keys – not cheap, but excellent food and good value really – especially as there’s an unsecured wireless network somewhere nearby which enabled Rob and Miche to check out their favourite website.
.
Onward, ever onward, and the first after lunch was
Church Lock (Wilts), placed next to a lock alongside a church – well duh! Then on to another multi with clues from a bridge, this time
Mill Bridge (Wilts). Once again we were accosted, this time by motorists looking for directions to a particular point on the canal – we think we sent them to the right place :-) . Then two fairly easy finds in quick succession,
Beech Grove Lock (Wilts), and
Wilton Brail Lock (Wilts), before moving on to the last for the day – another multi based on the museum at Crofton Beam Engines, unsurprisingly called
Crofton Beam Engines (Wilts). One of the bits of information you need here is the year the boiler was made – we rather cheekily asked the chap who told us the boiler house had just closed – he told us the year – and the place – and the manufacturer’s name – he was still rabbiting on when we wandered off to get out before they locked the gates! And then on to find the cache itself.

After which we walked back to Great Bedwyn, caught the rail-replacement bus back to where we’d left the car, and went home.

Cachepedition

Saturday, April 15th, 2006

YAWWWWNNN.

I’ll tell you all about it tomorrow.

Good Friday

Friday, April 14th, 2006

Today, of course, is Good Friday.

Our church had a joint service with our chums from the Baptist church up the road – although as they’ve already outgrown their new church building, we actually had it in the school gym. Then after coffee and hot cross buns, we walked to the centre of Totton to meet with all the other churches from the area, for a joint outdoor service. It rained.

My geocaching activities for the day had been pre-determined: Firstly a trip down to Luttrell’s Tower, owned by Team Tate, and which the last two seekers had reported unfindable. As I’ve already found it, I said I’d go and check it was still there – I really didn’t expect it to be missing, it’s too well hidden for that. Then on to perform a maintenance check on They Flew From the Forest, also one of Team Tate’s. The last finder had reported that the log sheet was a bit damp, so I’d offered to go and sort it. Anyway, before I headed off, Sarah texted to tell me that Luttrell’s Tower had been logged, so it wasn’t missing any more :-) .

So, down to the soggy one – and five minutes with the Gruntmobile’s hot air blower soon sorted that out! Then, via a rather rubbish trig point to the gym, and home to prepare for the cachepedition tomorrow.

Exam Results

Thursday, April 13th, 2006

You may have noticed that I’ve been waiting on some exam results

The more intuitive among you may even have noticed that I’ve been getting a bit uptight about them. These are the results of the exams I took back in January, modules B and C for the national diploma. I was in no way confident when I took them, and was expecting either a borderline pass or a borderline fail in each.

Well, the results arrived today – two passes! By no means good passes, but comfortably above the borderline and both capable of becoming “Credits” on the units, with good assignments. So, the state of play on my diploma at the moment is:

Module A: Assignment passed, exam due in July.
Module B: Assignment posted yesterday, result awaited: Exam passed.
Module C: Assignment not yet done, exam passed.

I think that deserves a :-) or two :-)

I had some other good news in a phone call from my chum Tim this afternoon, but that’s not for this public forum ;-)

Late

Wednesday, April 12th, 2006

Still no exam results.

The examination board have posted a note on their website, apologising and saying that their original statement that results were due last Friday was a mistake, and they’re actually due this Friday. Which is a Bank Holiday.

Anyone know if the post deliver on Good Friday?

In other nes, I remembered my towel tonight, so I had a proper workout at the gym; the I went and visited Sarah and the family, which was nice :-).

Forgetful

Tuesday, April 11th, 2006

I need to hit the gym big-time at the moment.

Partly because I put a few pounds on in the last couple of weeks – I blame the haggis for breakfast at the Hospital Radio conference – and also because I’ve been negelcting working out recently. So I was looking forward to getting on the treadmill tonight and giving it some stick.

Which made it rather annoying when I got there and discovered I’d forgotten my shower towel. Ah well, I got a couple of jobs done at home instead.

Confession

Monday, April 10th, 2006

OK, I admit it…

I et Steve.

I know you’ll all accuse me of weakness, but there you are – he was sitting in the fridge and starting to crumble, so it was an act of kindness really. So I had two of his fingers instead of my after-tea fromage frais yesterday, and the other two in place of my bedtime single square of choccy. So it isn’t that bad really, especially as I’d walked over three miles in the course of my caching activities, and only had frugal soup for lunch.

That’s my excuse and it’s the best you’re getting. Back to work today, and I can barely stay awake – I wonder if it’s malnutrition? I’ve also got a pulled muscle in my stomach area which is a bit painful :-( .

Ah well, at least it’s a short week.