Archive for May, 2008

Several Courses

Saturday, May 31st, 2008

Some of you know that my Luvvly Mum has been having leg problems lately.

One of the consequences has been that we haven’t been for a meal at the Mucky Duck lately: today we put that all right, and fabby food was had by…well, both anyway! We had a starter and a main course, and decided that we wouldn’t bother with a dessert. So quite how the cheesecake and Eton mess appeared is anyone’s guess but having got them, we had to eat them didn’t we?

Have you any idea how many calories are in an Eton mess?

Then we hit Sainsbos and did a mahoosive shop – another consequence of the leg thingy is that she hasn’t been able to get to the shops as much as she likes to, so Grunty was pressed into service to do a few weeks worth all in one go :-)

Don’t expect much bloggage tomorrow. Long day Raynetting, so tomorrow’s blog might well consist of Zzzzzzzzzz…

On Song

Wednesday, May 28th, 2008

Remember I mentioned we had a few problems yesterday?

I’ve decided I like problems – our boss, on behalf of the whole team, was awarded May’s Unsung Heroes award, complete with a box of chocolates to share round. Not just any chocolates either – Thorntons Dessert Gallery.

We were a bit puzzled about how you can really have an Unsung Heroes award: Surely once you’ve had the award you’re not an unsung hero any more, and you ought to give it back?

We seem to have got away with it so far – although we necked the choccies down in double-quick time, just in case :-)

Today’s the Day

Tuesday, May 27th, 2008

I’ve mentioned before how, when you work in Health and Safety, every hundred days or so you work hard enough to make up for the fact it’s better paid than it deserves to be the rest of the time. Today, as the title of today’s offering suggests, was the day.

A surprise meeting to thrash out one problem had just ended…and I was wondering whether to wander off to Starbucks Mungo’s Coffee Shoppe for a few minutes. That was when the second problem struck, and for the first time since I started this job, I took my tie off, rolled my sleeves up and got a bit dirty. I was late leaving as well, and even later getting home – thanks to the bar at Waterloo station. Well I just missed the train, you see, and had half an hour to fill…

I like being busy, but I hope tomorrow will be a bit more peaceful.

Hmm

Monday, May 26th, 2008

Not sure what happened there…yesterday’s blog entry appears to have vanished :-( . I think WordPress must have eaten it or something. Anyway, it was mainly a review of the new Indiana Jones film, so I’ll just say I enjoyed it and we’ll leave it at that!

Today has been another busy one…I’ve been being a busy Raynet person, helping to provide safety cover on a Wiltshire Scouts event just this side of the Hampshire/Wiltshire border. It was a pretty interesting day with my Raynet chums, and took place on an old MOD site with a very interesting history – apparently it used to be a weapons dump during the cold war, and a lot of the old buildings are still there.

I still need to sleep now, though ;-)

The Second Green

Friday, May 23rd, 2008

No, not a golfing blog – rather I’m following Rob’s lead and blogging about saving the planet. I could write about the thing he’s being so mysterious about, ‘cos I’m doing it as well, but we operate an unofficial rule that he who grabs the subject first, keeps it.

So instead, I’ll give you an insight into the green enterprises in the public sector: We’ve always done our bit: Lights that turn off if no-one moves for a set time, printing on both sides of the paper, recycling the plastic cups and all that sort of thing. We’re looking now at energy saving, so the IT department have given us a pop-up when we log off that says “Help reduce our carbon footprint – turn your monitor off overnight”. Which is very laudable, and I’m sure the people who launched the mutiny movement (even though most of ‘em would be too young to know what a movement was1 ) were only joking. But their slogan’s rather funny: Sod the dolphins, I’m leaving mine on!!!

1 Ten house points to anyone except Rockin’ Rob who spots the reference

Syzygy

Wednesday, May 21st, 2008

That’s a lovely word, isn’t it? And not only for Scrabble, although it would be pretty fabby on a triple word score.

There’s a barber in London, who opens at eight every morning, never has a queue, and is on my morning walk to work: I guessed it would be more expensive than my usual barber in Southampton, but if it saves losing a Saturday morning queuing, it might be worth it. Needing a haircut – and having no Saturdays free – I decided to give them a try.

Amazingly it isn’t called “Mungo’s Barber Shop” – it’s run by two Polish ladies1, and the name is something I couldn’t pronounce with rather more “z”s than is usual. So we’ll call them the mizzez Mungoze. Anyway, they made a fine job of shearing my tonsure, and only charged me the same as the Southampton bloke! Result :-)

In other news, the Southampton RealTime Bus Information thing (see Monday) is still being honest about its rubbishness.

1 And any jokes about them polishing my bald patch wouldn’t be funny :-(

Honesty

Monday, May 19th, 2008

Realtime bus information is not available. Please use the timetable

For the first time in living memory, Southampton’s RealTime bus information service gives totally accurate information.

Daaaar-set

Sunday, May 18th, 2008

Well as you can see from the numbers over there on the right, I found my 1000th cache today – and as the photo shows, I did it in the company of some really fabby chums. That pic is us having our lunch. The wonderful Sally-J drove, so Rob and I could both enjoy a couple of celebratory drinks afterwards: The weather was much better than the forecast, so I could enjoy wearing my Pompey shirt all day, and we found three excellent caches in a 6˝ mile walk. In other words, a fabby day was had by all.

Oh, and those caches – all in the area of Worth Matravers in Daaar…sorry, I mean Dorset…were:
Gone Batty
They Seacombe Here They Seacombe There and
Walkers Paradise.

OK, I have sunburn and the start of a hangover, but it was worth it!

Intriguing

Saturday, May 17th, 2008

One of the interesting things about travelling by public transport, is the telephone conversations you get to overhear. Most of them aren’t worth bothering with, being in the nature of “Hello! I’m on the train!!!”, or the slightly more amusing “Hello! I got on the wrong train!”.

By the way, my favourite are those conversations that consist of “Hello? Yeah…yeah…yeah…yep…yeah…OK, bye”. I imagine the person on the other end saying “Yes…right…yep…OK…yeah…bye”.

But the reason I mention all this is that I was on the bus this morning – on my way home from collecting my new glasses – and the person three seats behind me was ringing all his mates. The calls all concerned a fancy dress party they were going to, but the most revealing went along the lines of “Hello…yeah, have you got your costume?…yes, I’ve got the boots and the jacket, all I need now is some guns and loads of ammunition”. The conversation then turned to the wig he intended to wear. “Yeah, it’s a sort of mullet with curly hair…yeah…it was twelve quid, so I nicked it, I didn’t buy it…no, I’m not paying ****ing twelve quid for a wig!”.

I can’t help thinking that even if I was the sort of person who’d nick a twelve quid wig, I wouldn’t tell the whole of the top deck of a number ten bus.

Needless to say, most of my calls this afternoon have consisted of “Yippee, my team won the FA Cup!!!”.

Cool

Friday, May 16th, 2008

I’m in the middle of making shortbread ready for Sunday’s caching day out.

I’ve bought the chocolate chips, and mixed them with the sugar, butter and flour: Rolled the mixture out and cut it into biscuit shapes, and put them on a baking sheet.

The recipe says the next thing is to chill for twenty minutes – so I’ve got my feet up in front of the telly watching Have I Got News For You and drinking a glass of wine. I’m not sure how that’ll improve the shortbread, but I believe in following instructions.

Alarming

Thursday, May 15th, 2008

Q: Why are tall people lazier than short people?

A: Because they’re longer in bed.

According to a news story I saw on the BBC News website,”traditional” alarm clocks are becoming a thing of the past. Apparently we prefer the alarm function on mobile phones, MP3 players and clock radios – although I’d have thought clock radios have been around long enough that they count as traditional.

Being a getting-up-early person, I’ve got two alarms: The one on my mobile phone, and a “traditional” one, although even that is a Rugby clock (although I suppose now it ought really to be an Anthorn clock, but that doesn’t sound right somehow). I think part of the reason for the popularity of the mobile is the flexibility: Mine is set to “horribly early” during the week, “reasonable” on Sunday, and “the crack of lunchtime” on Saturday. Unless I change the time I want to get up, I don’t have to change anything on the phone.

The other reason is duplication: People probably won’t throw their alarm clock away just because their mobile can do the job, but if the alarm clock goes wrong, a lot of people wouldn’t buy a new one.

Unless of course they’re like me, and just like gadgets :-)

Go Forth

Tuesday, May 13th, 2008

Well actually, our pub quiz team (The Outsiders) came forth. We came forth from the office, then we came fourth in the quiz. Heh heh. Never let it be said we’re not fourthcoming.

Don’t worry, there’re no more of those.

Although it wasn’t the victory I’ve become accustomed to with Sir Robin’s Minstrels, sixty out of a possible seventy isn’t bad, especially given the hardness of some of the questions – I think we were just up against a very professional opposition. We could’ve got a couple more points – which would have raised us a place – if we’d trusted a couple more answers. But y’see the last round is called “Wipeout”, and one wrong answer loses you all the points for that round. So you have to be pretty certain before you write anything down. So two of our answers, which turned out to be right, we didn’t give.

Anyway, we beat the other team from the office, so that’s OK :-)

Please Leave a Message After the Tone

Monday, May 12th, 2008

Gottleblog is unavailable this evening, as our hero is currently whooping it up in the Nation’s Capital, attending a pub quiz with some chums from work.

It’s the second time we’ve entered this one – we were a bit rubbish first time, but we were just getting the hang of things then. I’m sure that tonight, we’ll be every bit as successful as when I compete with Sir Robin’s Minstrels! Anyway, if we do well, I’ll tell you about it tomorrow. If we don’t, I’ll never mention it again :-) .

Meanwhile, the main thrust of today’s offering is a little reminder for those of you who don’t routinely read Jenny’s blog: She took part in the Derby Race for Life yesterday, and is very close to her fundraising target, with just 13 days left for donations. If anyone hasn’t yet contributed – and for some odd reason you don’t want to visit her website – you can just click here and it’ll take you straight to the Race for Life Fundraising site – you can make secure credit card donations and everything.

Normal service resumes tomorrow.

As I Was Saying…

Sunday, May 11th, 2008

So anyway, as I said yesterday, I had a fabby day out with m’chum Esscafe (Sarah), and we found 23 caches! Sarah actually found more, but I stopped after 23 – if you check my finds count up there top right, you might be able to guess why!

Those caches started with…
Basingstoke Canal – Dragon’s Teeth
Basingstoke Canal – Pill Box
Basingstoke Canal – Tank Trap
Basingstoke Canal – Poulter’s Bridge
Basingstoke Canal – Swing Bridge
Basingstoke Canal – Bridges of the Canal
Basingstoke Canal – Fox and Hounds
Basingstoke Canal – Bird Song Place
Basingstoke Canal – Squirrels Lair
Basingstoke Canal – Stoned
Basingstoke Canal – Bamboozled
Basingstoke Canal – Fenced Out
Basingstoke Canal – Feeling Wiery
Basingstoke Canal – Post
Basingstoke Canal – Stumped
Basingstoke Canal – Runway View
Basingstoke Canal – Eelmoor Bridge
Banking for Success
Basingstoke Canal – A Bridge Almost Too Far

Did I mention these caches were along the Basingstoke Canal? Anyway, at this point we’d been invited to visit a cub camp where our chum Lizzzeeeee was bizzzeeeee being Bagheera. Bless her, she was having a bit of a stressful time, but she still made space to supply a couple of weary travellers with coffee and vast amounts of cake!

After our break we carried on to
Basingstoke Canal – Queens Avenue Bridge
Basingstoke Canal – Slop Jockey Academy
Basingstoke Canal – Ash Lock

and finished with
Basingstoke Canal – Goes Batty,
before our chum Doris (aka Dorothy aka Denise) gave us a lift back to where we’d left our cars.

And then I went to visit another chum where we ate pizza and watched “The Green Mile”, which was very absorbing and a little bit scary!

Today has been absorbed with church, logging yesterday’s caches, and going to the gym.

Fun

Saturday, May 10th, 2008

Just a short blog today as I’m very tired and a little bit sunburned :-)

Today I’ve spent part of the day caching with a good chum, and part of it watching films and eating pizza with another good chum. And if anyone tells me that’s not a fabby fun day, I’ll slap them with a wet fish and call them Nigel. Unless their name’s really Nigel, of course, in which case I might think of something else.

Must admit, I’m sorta wishing I didn’t have to get up to drive the church minibus in the morning, but there y’go, eh?

Northbound Train

Wednesday, May 7th, 2008

I’m writing this on a northbound train, heading for the little northern town where I’m working tomorrow. I have a table and loads of legroom, the at-seat trolley service is on its way, and I have free wi-fi! So far I’ve checked my e-mails and responded to those that needed it, read some blogs and (by the time you see this) written mine, and checked for chums on MSN. Unfortunately I’m using the PDA, not the laptop, so Scrabulous is a non-starter.

Still, National Express trains have provided the service so it’d be rude not to make full use :-) I wonder how long the battery will last?

Birmingham

Tuesday, May 6th, 2008

I had a bit of a frustrating trip home this evening: Apparently one signal out of action – on a straight stretch of track with no junctions – is worthy of an hour’s delay. One can only hope that someone from Network Rail gets the sack over that.

So I was already a bit tetchy when I was channel surfing, waiting for the laptop to boot up. On Grand Designs Live, that great pseud Kevin McCloud was extolling eco-friendly housing, and told us “If everyone in Britain turned off all unnecessary lights, we’d save enough electricity to power the whole of Birmingham”.

I immediately went round turning all the lights on in Gottle Towers. Blowed if the Brummies are getting free power at my expense!

Round Up

Monday, May 5th, 2008

So anyway…Sunday morning I was again being an important Raynet person, this time on a triathlon in the New Forest. I was on my first checkpoint at eight o’clock :-( – But I left home a bit earlier than I needed to, so I had time on the way for Two Rivers – Godshill on the way!

Then I stood by the side of the road, chatting to a Californian race marshal called Travis, and watching 500 cyclists going past.

Then I stood by the side of a different road and watched 500 runners go past.

And then I had time for an afternoon caching! There was a little pocket of caches around Fordingbridge that I hadn’t done, including one that I’d previously failed to find, so I headed for them first:
Nuts About Caching
Off The Rails
Yule Log
and
A Teeny Bit in Suspense – this was the one I’d failed to find on a previous visit, and I thought I was going to repeat the experience. I even went so far as to text my old chum Nobby “the Nobster” Nobbs for a bit of help – and then I spotted it! So that was alright.

Then on the way home I stopped at the car park for the first one of the day, this time for a longer walk, confusingly to another cache also called
Godshill – near to which, I spotted this rather dramatic tree:

And then as I was passing, I stopped for
Woe Betide
on my way to the chinese takeaway!

Today I was due to be visiting friends, but they had to cancel because of illness – it was a shame, but I wasn’t going to waste what turned out to be a nice afternoon! First – and in spite of some rather odd technology problems that I still haven’t really solved – was
Woods Corner, followed by
Duck or Gorse
A Boggy Cache
A Finlay Fix
and
Great Pines

Then I had an ice cream, and went home :-)

€xpensive

Sunday, May 4th, 2008

Yesterday proved to be a bit costly.

I started with a return trip to Mungo’s Tyre Shop, to collect and pay for the two tyres I bought for Grunty last week. Ouch. The only good thing is that at my current mileage, there’s three or four years worth of rubber there.

I consoled myself by buying eight bottles of apple and raspberry J2O in Tescos, then after lunch headed for the optician for an eye test – stopping off for a geocache at St Marys One on the way. Apart from the optician being running nearly an hour behind, the eye test went pretty well, but of course my eyes have changed just enough to need new glasses. And new frames. And new prescription sunglasses. Ouch ouch ouch.

Be nice the next time you see a busker. It might be me.

Turn Again Boris, Lord Mayor of London

Saturday, May 3rd, 2008

So, Boris Johnson as mayor of London, eh?

My friends who actually live in the Nation’s Capital tell me that most residents would have voted for a pantomime cow rather than have another term with Ken as mayor, and at first glance it looks as if that’s exactly what they’ve done. But it’s easy to see no further than the bumbling buffoon who makes a twit of himself on Have I Got News for You, and forget that Boris has been an MP in a Conservative safe seat for years, so the party and the electors must think he’s got something. We’ll see – and in the meantime, as I’ve said before, I’m kinda hoping that the newly-unemployed Ken Livingstone will come to Southampton and do for our public transport what he’s done for London.

And on the subject of Southampton, our city has been making the news – apparently it’s been a major surprise to everyone that the Conservatives routed the Labour/LibDem coalition that had been running what was technically a “no overall control” council. Well, it was no surprise to anyone who’s been following the local news down here; with the arrogant antics of the self-centred mob that have been running the city – and in particular the unlovely, unlovable Labour leader June Bridle – the only real surprise is that Labour took any seats at all. I’m not really a Conservative – I don’t really agree with the politics of any of the parties enough to say that I’m one or the other – but I think most Southampton voters followed my thinking, that Labour have proved they can’t run the city, so let’s give someone else a chance. If the Conservatives are no better, they’re unlikely to be much worse.

All the same, I can’t help being a little bit scared of what Boris is going to do in London.

Book Review

Friday, May 2nd, 2008

A rather superficial book review that specifically doesn’t contain any plot spoilers!

While we were in Cornwall, I was reading the latest Terry Pratchett, Making Money. Some of the reviews had been a bit discouraging – “Good, but not one of his best” seemed to be the common theme. While I’d agree it isn’t his best ever book, that’s comparing it against masterpieces like Night Watch, which isn’t really fair.

It nicely develops some of the themes started in Going Postal, introduces some new ones, and even has added Vimes, which is always a good thing. It even has what I consider a Pratchett trademark – a pun so cunning that you can immediately tell that the previous three pages have been leading up to it, yet you still didn’t see it coming.

If it’s missing anything, perhaps it’s that the sharpness of the satire isn’t there. This book won’t be as funny on the sixth reading as some of the others, but that really is splitting hairs! If you think every book ought to be as good as Night Watch or The Colour of Magic then you’re oing to be disappointed, but if those are your standards then you’re not going to be reading much anyway. Suffice to say I read a library copy, but when the paperback’s out in a few weeks I’ll be buying my own. If only to make sure I understand all the jokes in the next book!