Archive for June, 2008

Lost and Found Again

Monday, June 30th, 2008

I left my pullover on the train on Friday night.

This was partly because I was in a rush – I was off to radio club to give another of my popular talks – and partly because of the fat bloke sitting next to me: I was so pleased to be getting away that I grabbed my rucksack and ran, without checking that I had everything with me :-(

The South West Trains lost property system is pretty good: you report your lost item via a sepcial page on their website, and a couple of hours later a little man phones and gives you a reference number which you use to get your jumper back. Admittedly the lost property office is at Waterloo – fine for me, but it must be a bit annoying if you left your property on the Portsmouth – Southampton train. And the recovery fee for a pullover is three squids -a bit OTT for a Matalan jumper that was only a fiver in the first place.

Still, I’ve got my jumper back- AND I found a cache (Poetry Please) on the walk to work this morning!

What Have I Forgotten?

Sunday, June 29th, 2008

I told you yesterday how busy the week had been…the weekend has flown past a bit quick as well…

Saturday started with taking my Mum to Sainsbo’s. The stores are running a campaign to encourage people to recycle plastic carriers rather than use a new one every time – the strapline of the campaign is “Take an old bag shopping”. I’m saying nothing.

Then I went to Tescos to buy the things we’d forgotten to get at Sainsburys.

The afternoon was set aside for pre-New Wine caravan preparation tasks, before, in the evening, I was whisked away to a party. I only knew one person there, but I soon knew a couple of others, and I even got to try Manx whisky for the first time :-)

Sunday started with church – just – and again in the afternoon there was more caravan work. Sadly one of the tasks involved visiting three different caravan shops to find something I needed, but I got it in the end. I nearly bought a new caravan at one of them, before being sensible and practical cut in just in time.

So, the weekend’s caravan work totted up to:

  • Mucho tidying
  • Cleaning and testing the cooker
  • Cleaning and testing the fridge
  • Cleaning the sink, and evicting a rather surprised spider from the waste water pipe
  • Charging the spare battery and testing the wiring
  • Topping up the distilled water in the main battery and getting it on charge
  • Getting the gas bottle filled (twenty quid!!! :-( )
  • Cleaning the fresh water system

I even fitted in a trip to the gym :-) And now I’m relaxing with a pint of Hen.

I wonder what caravan jobs I’ve forgotten to do?


Saturday, June 28th, 2008

That was the sound made by the last week going by.

The chief event, of course, was the fancy dress party graduation ceremony at the University of Warwick. And to answer Sally-J’s question, I don’t have any new letters…I actually got this qualification, and the letters that went with it, last year, but they’ve only just done the graduation ceremony. But since you’re asking, those letters make me Mr Paul Gottle DipNEBOSH MIIRSM GradIOSH.

So, Tuesday I finished work early, taking some time that was owed to me, and trained up to Coventry, where I met my Luvvly Mum who had trained up from Southampton. Then we headed off to the Holiday Inn Express – basic, but fine for what we wanted. On Wednesday I had to be at the university horribly early, so I headed off by taxi to be gowned, hatted, photographed and organised, while Jenny arrived an hour and a half later to bring my Mum along. We’ll draw a veil over the machinations by which they were able to park so close to the ceremony hall…

Then we had the graduation ceremony itself, which was fun, did some more photos – one of which you’ve seen on Wednesday’s offering – after which I had to give the gown back to the hire company, then it was off to a pub for lunch, and the train home.

Some of you will know that my Mum suffers a bit with her leg, and after all the exercise of two days, she suffered even more for the next two – but she thought it was worth it for the sake of “being there”, so that’s OK :-) And judging from her blog, Jenny enjoyed the day too!


Thursday, June 26th, 2008

In all the excitement of yesterday, I forgot to tell you about the geocache!

Yes, I bet there aren’t many people who’ve dolled themselves up in their nice suit, followed by full academic dress (cap and gown etc), and then gone and done a geocache! Admittedly it was only a webcam cache (Warwick Union Cam) but they all count!

Thanks to m’chum Rockin’ Rob for being on the other end of the phone to take the picture for me – in spite of some confusion where he thought I was there twelve hours sooner than I actually was! That is me in the pic, by the way!

Guess Wot…

Wednesday, June 25th, 2008

…I’ve been doing today?

The two lovely laydeez with me are Jennifer, and my Luvvly Mum. Ten demerits to anyone who can’t work out which is which.


Tuesday, June 24th, 2008

My mobile phone has started doing something odd.

Last night I sent Jenny a text message: It said “You have email – I’ll phone you tomorrow evening to check you’re happy with it”. At 10:26 last night, she replied “Yup, just got it, thanks”.

Then again at 10:29, she replied “Yup, just got it, thanks”. And at 10:45 and at 04:46 this morning. While I’m always pleased to hear from Jenny, the same message four times is a bit odd.

It isn’t only Jenny – one of my other texting chums sends repeat messages as well. Any of you techy geniusses got any ideas?


Sunday, June 22nd, 2008

This afternoon was the main reason for being in Notty this weekend. Nottinghamshire were playing Lancashire in the 20/20, and m’chum Jenny had blagged us a place in a box! Her employers had the box, and she’d been invited to bring friends along, so she, Chris and I went and watched Notts…umm…not win. It was an enjoyable afternoon though, and the box was ideally placed behind the end of the wicket – here’s the view we had:

…and on the way we did the West Bridgeford Micro cache!


Sunday, June 22nd, 2008

I am, once again, in Nottingham :-)

The specific reason why I’m here this weekend can wait – but the journey up yesterday was fun! For the Southampton – London stretch I once again upgraded to first class, which meant I got a comfy seat and a mains socket to plug my laptop in. I’d planned to have breakfast at Waterloo, but Mungo’s Waterloo breakfast shop was heaving with people in posh clothes, either on the way to Ascot races, or to a dress-like-a-wally convention. Ideally the backup plan would’ve been to eat at St Pancras, where the train to Nottingham starts, but as I’ve bemoaned on these pages before, there’s nowhere to eat at St Pancras, unless you want some poncey forrin food.

Luckily St Pancras is attached to Kings Cross, which does have proper eateries – specifically the Duke of York, which does a proper fried English breakfast which is very nice. It also has free wi-fi! I don’t think it’s supposed to, but it’s very close to the first class lounge and there’s a spill over :-). So I had brekkie, played a few hands of Scrabulous, and caught my second train – first class, natch ;-)

And then I got to Nottingham,layed with kittens, went caching with Chris, watched TV, and went to bed. The End.

The caches? We found
Broadgate Park, and
Toton Flood Plain

Food Glorious Food

Thursday, June 19th, 2008

Well it appears that Mungo’s Fried Breakfast Shop doesn’t do Tesco Clubcard points. They do a cracking good brekkie though :-)

This wasn’t pure gluttony you understand – this was all in the course of research, following yesterday’s item on the BBC news. It works too…normally on a Thursday I have a cooked lunch from Mungo’s Japanese Noodle Bar1, but today I wasn’t hungry enough, and I hadn’t been snacking during the morning. So I think we’ll consider that theory worthy of further investigation.

Mind you, by half an hour before going home time – when m’colleague Leigh started sharing round her flatmate’s haggis pie – I had enough of an appetite. I got the recipe2 as well!

1 That isn’t his real name, but I don’t know the Japanese ideogram for “Mungo”.
2 Get haggis. Put it in a pie. The end.


Wednesday, June 18th, 2008

According to this story on the BBC news website, a hearty breakfast can be the key to weight loss: I feel somewhat vindicated – I wonder if Mungo’s Fried Breakfast Shop gives Tesco Clubcard points?

Power Slide

Tuesday, June 17th, 2008

I said “Either the battery is significantly better than the original, even when it was new, or I’ve mongoosed the battery meter.”

I think I’ve mongoosed the battery meter…it was reading 100% right up to the moment it went flat. Of course that might sort itself out after a few charge/discharge cycles, and even so it’s got a life that’s conservatively ten times its predecessor, so that ain’t bad is it?

And in a comment on the same post, Jane asked “Does it do it any harm putting it on to charge when it’s not completly down?”. It shouldn’t do any harm – it’s a Lithium Ion battery and they’re not supposed to have any memory effect, so mine will get charged up overnight every night, whether it needs it or not – although it’s got to be good practice to discharge it completely to flat every so often and give it a full discharge/charge cycle.

Any techy bods care to contribute?


Monday, June 16th, 2008

I wrote a while ago about my little problem with battery going flat on the good PDA.

Mel’s suggestion improved things slightly but battery life became less and less: it reached the point when I’d take it off charge when I got up, use it as an MP3 player on the train, and the battery would be totally dead by Clapham Junction. That was when I gave up and ordered a new battery from those lovely folks at iPaqRepair (thanks to Chris T for suggesting them!).

I fitted and charged the battery on Saturday. So far it’s done blogging and net surfing, 3 hours MP3 playing and some low-level diary stuff. And the charge meter is still on 100%.

Either the battery is significantly better than the original, even when it was new, or I’ve mongoosed the battery meter.

Fun in the Sun

Sunday, June 15th, 2008

Well, it’s been a weekend of all sorts of fun things :-)

On Saturday I was working at the Churches Together in Totton fun day: The churches took over Testwood Rec for the day, with all sorts of free entertainment and free food for all ages: face painting, bouncy castles, live bands, weightlifting – there was even a Mini enthusiasts’ display…

The observant among you will notice they even had a BMW Half Series there!

The event started at lunchtime, and the day’s fun went on well into the dark hours – all in all a really nice day.

Today was equally fun – starting with Church In the Park, taking advantage of the stage and associated gear left over from Saturday.

Followed by some exciting fitting a new lock on the shed, and some pre-New-Wine checks on the caravan.

I need to do some packing during the week…

They Bombed Our Chippy

Friday, June 13th, 2008

In all the moaning about the bus driver on Wednesday, I forgot to tell you about the German tourist.

To be honest I don’t know if he was German, but from his accent I’d say German or Austrian. Either way, he and his rucksack were in front of me on the escalator coming up onto the concourse at Waterloo station. At the top of the escalator there’s a fairly narrow archway (narrow compared to the number of people trying to use it, anyway), and as soon as you come through the archway you’re looking at the information boards that show which platform your train goes from.

You can see what’s coming next can’t you?

Right at the top of the escalator he stopped, blocking the way for everyone coming up behind him. Rather gently, I put my hand on his rucksack and gently pushed him forward, so there was space to get through. At which point he turned and in a prissily precise way said “Please show some courtesy and do not push”.

Courtesy eh?

Product Information for the Hard-of-Thinking

Thursday, June 12th, 2008

From the current edition of the SafetyShop catalogue:
First Aid Kit with Torch Use in emergencies when lighting is poor.

Well thank goodness they explained that – I was wondering what circumstances would make such a combination useful.

In other news, the bus waited for me today.


Wednesday, June 11th, 2008

Someone asked me the other day what makes me grumpy.

In truth, not much, these days: There’s a hotel concierge in Slough who’s probably still hoping he never sees me again, but he needn’t worry – I’d sleep on a bed of broken glass under a tree in Windsor Great Park before I stayed in that hotel again. And although I moan about things, and let off steam sometimes, there isn’t much that actually makes me angry.

I mention this in the context of the driver of the 17E bus that should’ve been the 19:20 from Southampton Central Station this evening: In spite of the fact that he wasn’t due to leave for another two minutes (according to the bus clock at the stop), and the fact that he’d seen me and three other people running to catch his bus, he left anyway. And the next bus wasn’t due for fifteen minutes. That’s not so bad for me – I can walk home in twenty minutes, which is quicker than the next bus wold have got me there – and I needed the exercise anyway. But other people, who got even angrier than I did, had much further to go.

I hope he gets a boil on his bum. Which is a lot milder than what some were hoping.

Mud on the Road

Tuesday, June 10th, 2008

One of my favourite cartoons shows a country road, with a sign saying “Beware – Mud on Road”. A little further on is a mid-seventies rock band singing “Tiger Feet”.

The reason I mention this is that I’m producing a cheesy cheating pre-written blog for today: at the time this appears, I’ll be armed with a hose and stiff brush, making some inroads on getting Grunty clean and spreading mud all over the road outside Gottle Towers. I can’t say I’m looking forward to it much – I was covered in dried-on mud when I got home on Sunday, and when I had a shower and the mud got wet, it started to smell a bit…ummm…agricultural. Since Grunty has at least ten thousand times the amount of mud that my legs did, things could get a bit ripe.

And in response to comments – Rob said of Sunday’s offering Nice to see you had to get out of the passenger-side door to take that one!, relating to the fact that the driver’s side door was below the edge of the bank, preventing it from opening. Look again Rob – I actually had to climb out of the window! And Peter asked yesterday, Do you throw out a lot of video cassettes at your place?. More than we do scissors and staplers, Peter!


Monday, June 9th, 2008

In line with guvmint directives for the public sector, my workplace is introducing yet more green initiatives. All office waste bins are being scrapped, and replaced with recycling bins.

To help staff understand the process of pre-sorting, we all had an e-mail this morning, explaining which waste goes in which bin: apparently the blue-topped bin is for “Coffee grounds, crisp bags, food scraps, fruit cores, paper food containers, pencils, pens, staplers, sweet wrappers, video cassettes, rubbers1, scissors etc”.

I’m sure that’s not how recycling is supposed to work…

1 For our forrin readers, that’s an English “rubber”, not an American one.

Don’t Call Me a Stick-In-The-Mud…

Sunday, June 8th, 2008

…but I got stuck in the mud – well, Grunty did, anyway.

As you can see.

Unfortunately, the picture doesn’t show things very well – the front wheels got through OK, but there was a HUUUUUGE rut in the bottom of the puddle that the back wheels got stuck into – and in spite of four wheel drive, centre diff lock, low ratio and all the tricks in the 4×4 driver’s armoury, in the end the only trick that worked was getting my mate with his Land Rover to pull me out. Still, it was fun! In the middle of this excitement, I sent a rather grumpy text to a friend, explainig what had happened…to which the reply was “think about how you will describe it in your blog this evening!”

I was Raynetting on a sponsored walk in aid of a local children’s hospice, and I HAD asked for a non-off roading checkpoint. I didn’t quite get my wish – the good news that this was on the way back to the road, I’d got in to the checkpoint without too much trouble. Once I’d been towed out and had all four wheels back on tarmac, I headed for a stint working in Control – where at least Grunty had the chance to park in the sun for a while.

You should see the other side.

Saturday Job

Saturday, June 7th, 2008

I had to go to work today.

Yes, working on a Saturday – which was a bit of a poo really, especially as there were plenty of other things I’d rather have been doing. But fair play, I’ve been there a year and this is the first weekend working I’ve done – compared to the last job, where I was usually in, if only for an hour or so, every fourth or fifth Sunday.

So, things I’ve learned about Saturday working:

  • Busses from home to the railway station are rubbish on Saturday: I need to be at the bus stop at six, to get to the station in time for the six thirty train
  • Trains don’t run as often either, and stop at more stations so the journey takes longer. On the other hand, there aren’t many people on so there’s more room.
  • Mungo’s Porridge Shop doesn’t open on Saturdays. Nor does Mungo’s Bacon Sarnie Shop, Mungo’s Other Bacon Sarnie Shop or Mungo’s Breakfast Roll Shop. Amazingly Mungo’s Tanning Emporium DOES open. At eight o’clock on a Saturday morning, who the heck wants a fake tan, but doesn’t want breakfast?
  • The office is really fun when there’s no-one around!

And at least I got home in time to get my stuff sorted for tomorrow. I think I might crack an early night, all the same.


Friday, June 6th, 2008

I didn’t blog on Wednesday, because 34sp was doing stupid things. Which was a shame because I had a fabby blog set up, ranting about the fact that someone’s making a film of Emma set to music, in the style of High School Musical.

And last night I didn’t blog, because I was having a fabby time in The Nation’s capital, at a restaurant with Jenny and a load of her mates from The Daily Kitten. We ate, drank and had fun and then we went home.

And now it’s the weekend :-)