Archive for October, 2008


Friday, October 31st, 2008

I’ve previously mentioned the annoying announcements you get on the trains.

Things like “You must buy a ticket before you get on one of our trains” – announced after the train has left the station. Or repeating the “stations called at” three times in five minutes.

My favourite, in terms of blood pressure raising, is “if you’re leaving the train here, please make sure you have all your personal items with you”. Do they think that hasn’t occurred to most of us? “Oh no” we all think, “I was going to deliberately leave all my personal items on the train so I could have another go with South West Trains’s lost property system. Oh well, guess I’ll have to take them with me”. Now if they said “OK, you’ve got your coat and rucksack, but you’ve left your umbrella in the luggage rack” that might be a bit more useful, and would have saved me a few squid over the last couple of years. It’s the items that you’ve forgotten you had with you that get left behind, not the ones you know about.

Mind you, it would’ve been nice if yesterday morning’s taxi had had an announcement about personal items. I might still have had my warm hat :-(


Thursday, October 30th, 2008

Anyone see the National Television Awards last night?

It’s not something I’d normally watch, but everyone should have a new experience now and then – and on this occasion it was worth it to see the look on Simon Cowell’s face when Strictly Come Dancing beat The X Factor for the award of Best Show Taking the Mickey Out of a Bunch of Talentless Loonies. Even better was the moment when he thought he was off-camera, and said to the person next to him “I don’t believe it!”. Frankly nor do I – but the important difference is that I don’t really care either :-)

Still, Dr Who won an award and so did David Tennant, both of which will make some people I know very happy :-)


Wednesday, October 29th, 2008

Gosh, is it that long since I blogged? Apparently so, but the last few days have been tres hectic, including but not restricted to –

  • Paying the caravan man the rest of the purchase price, and buying exorbitantly-priced gadgets for it1.
  • A most fab meal out with m’chums Rob, Sarah and Fred
  • A little light geocaching (well, some of it was in the dark, to be honest)
  • A pack of frantic-ness at work

And now I’m in the Nottingham home-of Jenny + Chris, playing with kittens and preparing to work locally tomorrow. Phew :-)

1 An Al-ko stabiliser and a smoke alarm, for anyone who’s that interested. I tried to get an awning, but the one I want is out of stock.


Saturday, October 25th, 2008

In case you’ve missed the link, the Lake District cachepedition page is now on line: You can clicky the linky over on the right hand sidebar, or to save you the fraction of a second it would take to move your cursor over there, you can click here.


Five to Go

Friday, October 24th, 2008

Yes thanks, I had a nice birthday – once the going-to-work bit of the day was done :-) So thanks to

  • Lizzzeeeee
  • Rockin’ Rob
  • Ann

for the electronic greetings sent blog-stylee (and Belly-Babes for the one sent Facebook-wall stylee)

  • My Luvvly Mum
  • Jennywenny, Chris and the cats
  • Jan and Andy
  • My Aunt and Uncle
  • Purple Fred
  • Rob and Sarah
  • for the cardy greetings, and

  • My Luvvly Mum
  • Purple Fred
  • Sarah, Rob, and the fabby Everclare
  • For making it even more sepcial


The bad news is, it’s only five more years before I qualify for Saga holidays :-(

Today I had a worky awayday event – a morning of discussing next year’s corporate plan, followed by an afternoon of team-building bongo drumming. Best bit of the day was that it was in a new bit of London, and after the event I managed four geocaches!
The Golden Hinde

Boris’ Place: City Hall

Catastrophe, Calamity, Cataclysm Part 3

Tower: Save Me


Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008

Happiness is treating yourself to a mint-flavour two-finger KitKat at lunchtime :-)

Irritation is finding it, all melted and gungy, in your shirt pocket seven hours later :-(

Luckily the fridge in the hotel mini bar sorted it out – it was fine once I’d dredged the bits of silver paper out!

E-Bay Gum

Tuesday, October 21st, 2008

Yes, I know I’ve used that as a title for a blog about E-bay before…

Can anyone resolve a little E-bay related mystery for me? I bid on an item last night which had six days left to run: it was a cheeky low bid, but a bid nonetheless. But when I checked at lunchtime today, MyEbay informed me that I wasn’t bidding on any items – and I couldn’t find any trace of the item in the “for sale” lists. I’m guessing that the seller withdrew the item – any other guesses?

And on a related subject, anyone know where I can get a small electric generaton, about 1 kva? Petrol will do, if it’s been converted to propane so much the better. Oh, and cheap of course ;-)

Picture – Thanks Rob

Monday, October 20th, 2008

Thanks to m’chum Rockin’ Rob, for this nice picture he took of me on our recent Lake District sojourn.


Sunday, October 19th, 2008

My new caravan :-) I’ll post some better pictures for you next weekend – when I go back to pay the rest of the wad (I’ve only paid the deposit so far), I’ll take the proper camera with me. In the meantime, it’s a bit smart, isn’t it!


Saturday, October 18th, 2008

I’ve done a lot of fun things today :-)

I started by taking advantage of the fact that I didn’t have to get up until I wanted to – which is a bit sepcial after the last few weeks of hectivity. Then I went for my flu shot – not exciting, but good to have done – and then went with my Luvvly Mum for lunch at our favourite place.

And then I went with some friends to the cinema, where we saw Igor. It was great fun, with jokes for the adults as well as the main under-12 target audience – mind you, I’ll never see Annie in the same light again!

After pizza we went our separate ways, which in my case meant the drive-thru car wash, followed by mending Grunty’s fog light – which the nasty carwash had broken off. Shame it wasn’t so enthusiastic about getting the grime off the roof, really.


Friday, October 17th, 2008

In case anyone’s wondering – the Lake District Cachepedition pictures page is nearly ready – if you’re lucky it’ll be online by the end of this weekend.

But back to this evening…and I climbed aboard the bus to Waterloo, wedged myself into a corner and off we headed. Almost immediately the automatic announcement chipped in with “There are seats available on the top deck”, which is pretty normal. Less normal was the announcement from the driver: “Yes, there are a few seats on the top deck. So instead of standing there like a spare one at a wedding, why don’t some of you go upstairs?”.

Well it seemed funny at the time.

Santa Claus is Coming to Pimlico

Wednesday, October 15th, 2008

Every morning, a few minutes before the train pulls into Waterloo, we pass a small commercial unit on the right belonging to Pimlico Plumbers. It’s normally pretty unremarkable, just one of hundreds we see on the journey.

But today, it became “The First Place to Have Its Christmas Lights On, 2008″. Fair play to them, they’re pretty good lights: Santas, sleighs and reindeer galloping across the roof in the direction of Central London. But it’s only mid-October! It isn’t even my birthday yet, although admittedly it’s pretty close (hint hint, for any who may not have noticed).


Tuesday, October 14th, 2008

Apparently the government are paying 95 zillion quid – of our money – to prop up the 2012 olympics, money which had been expected to come from private investment. On this evening’s news, the Minister for Feeble Excuses, Tessa Jowell, said “You’ve got to remember, we bid for the games in one financial climate, and we’re staging them in another”. Or in other words, we screwed up but it’s OK, it’s only the poor old taxpayer.

Meanwhile, Hull Primary Care Trust (what used to be called the NHS, back in the days when the health service was run for the benefit of ill people) plans to spend £400,000 on a yacht to give unemployed youngsters “a healthier lifestyle and something to do”

It’s either me, or the rest of the world, that’s gone barmy.


Sunday, October 12th, 2008

I’m back! Back, that is, from the latest Hospital Radio Conference in Solihull (that’s Birmingham only posh). The St John’s Hotel in Solihull is definitely NOT Mungo’s Sleep Shop, it’s a very nice hotel with decent food, comfortable rooms, and plenty of parking for a minibus :-) . It’s also very convenient for at least one geocache…but more of that in a minute. In the last weekend I’ve driven 460 minibus miles, been to Birmingham International Rail station eight times and not been inside once, Cadbury World and not been inside, BHBN (Birmingham Hospital Radio) twice and not been inside, and Radio Lollipop Birmingham once and not been inside. I’ve taken people to a match at Earlswood Football Club and found four geocaches. Oh, and got Jenny a bit muddier than she was expecting on one of the geocaching trip :-) .

There were also some meetings and seminars, excellent meals (including black pudding for breakfast!) and of course lots of quality time with friends. And in five months time we get to do it all over again except in Blackpool!

And those caches were…
Sidetracked – Earlswood
A Track Through the Woods
Sidetracked – The Lakes Halt
and this morning…
Busy Busy Hospital

Alan Partridge

Thursday, October 9th, 2008

Anyone who’s been reading for very long at all will know that I occasionally have to stay away for work-related purposes. When that happens, the organisation sorts out travel, accommodation and all that stuff – all I have to do is turn up :-)

Until this time.

I’ve arranged to do an office visit that involves an overnight in Manchester in a couple of weeks time, and the last time I did that, I stayed in an hotel recommended by a local colleague, an experience I’m not keen to repeat. So, having picked my Manchester date and arranged train tickets and stuff, I looked up a hotel and a reserve back-up, and asked m’colleague Katy to book one of them.

Just my luck to have chosen the night that Manchester United are playing at home in the Champions League. At the moment it looks as if I’ll be bunking down in Mungo’s Sleep Shop somewhere south of the M62.

Oh well, all part of life’s rich tapestry :-)

X Doesn’t Mark the Spot

Tuesday, October 7th, 2008

While staying at a friend’s house the other day, I was exposed to an episode of The X Factor.

As you’d expect, some of the contestants demonstrated real talent – or as far as I could tell, not being a musician – while others were not so good: some had bucketloads of confidence, others were frankly terrified, but what they all had in common was a similarity in their personal stories. They all said things like “I grew up in a really poor family, and I’ve tried several other careers, and I really need to win The X Factor because it’ll change my life. If I don’t win this, it’s all over for me”.

Now I’m not naïve – I know we’ve only seen the editor’s favourite five seconds from a much longer interview. But I’d have been much more impressed if one of them had said “I know that being a professional musician is damned hard work, but that’s what I want to be”.


Monday, October 6th, 2008

Just a quick blog tonight chums – I have to go and make an important phone call.

On the way home from work I decided I needed some cash: I normally get off the bus and use the cashpoint outside the Co-Op, but on this occasion it was beig thumped and yelled at by someone who seemed to be trying to take out his entire life savings in a variety of world currencies, so I decided that rather than wait, I’d try the Tesco cashpoint round the corner.

Like most such machines, this one has an anti-fraud notice saying “If you notice anything unusual about this machine, please telephone Tesco’s bank and report it”. So having got my cash, gone home and had my tea, I’m about to give them a call:

“Hey, y’know that cash machine outside Tesco in Shirley Road? It’s working properly”.

Kit Review

Sunday, October 5th, 2008

I promised you a few weeks ago, when I bought my hydration bladder, that I’d let you all know what I thought of it. Those of you who don’t know what a hydration bladder is could check one out here – this is the one I ordered, although they seem to have sent me the next size up.

Anyway, the point of the thing is that you fill the bladder with water, and it then slides into a sepcial inside pocket on the rucksack: The tube comes out through a rainproof hole in the side of the pack, and clips onto the shoulder strap, where it’s available to suck water from all day, without stopping or taking the pack off. When I first bought it, Rockin’ Rob – who’d already tried one – advised “advice of a most important nature would read “always use a flavoured liquid??? – it disguises the decidedly plastic taste of such a device.”. So needless to say, I tried it first with good old Lake District tap water, to see what happened.

I like it – it was a good investment. I stayed with water all week, and didn’t notice any plasticky taste or anything, and the usefulness of being able to sip a little and often was really good. The pipe doesn’t flap around and get in the way, and the only problem I had was when I forgot to fill it one morning and ran out of water halfway back to the car from Dow Crag.

In short, well recommended.

Last Day

Saturday, October 4th, 2008

Friday’s weather was the best of the week. We’d come to the Lakes intending to climb Scafell Pike – the highest point in England – one day if the weather permitted, and although it wasn’t quite that good, we decided on a reconnaissance trip up the first part of the intended route – this was still a thousand foot climb and a significant walk, and got us four caches!

Then it was back to the wee cott, to burn the last of the solid fuel in the fire grate (plus the last of quite a few other things, including pasta) and make a start on the packing. And today we’ve headed south as far as casa Jenny and Chris before completing the trip home tomorrow.

I’ll do a page of pictures as soon as we’ve all got each others, if you see what I mean…

Weather – the Reprise

Thursday, October 2nd, 2008

Today’s weather looked a bit better than yesterday, so we decided to have another go at the same walk. This time we not only found the one we failed on yesterday (oops), but three more as well – we went on and looked for some more, but one was placed in a suicidally insane location, so we decided not to bother, and the other was in the middle of a huge rockfield with a rubbish clue (“It’s in the middle of a huge rockfield”), and we were starting to run out of daylight, so we called it quits.

A much nicer day today…and we celebrated with a pub meal. Nothing wrong with Rob’s cooking (he’s very good, although don’t tell him I said that), but we all needed to relax and rest and it wasn’t fair for him to have to slave in the kitchen.

Plus, we’re almost out of beer…


Wednesday, October 1st, 2008

The weather today was, to use a technical geocacher’s term, rubbish. We started a walk that would’ve given us seven caches, knowing all along that the weather might force us to change our plans, especially as we were going up high. Along the way we passed walkers going in the other direction who said things like “You’re not ging up there are you?”, or simply, “Good luck”

The first intended cache was a fail-to-find, and that was the point at which we had the first view of the ridge we were planning on traversing…it was a thousand feet above us and experiencing fog and driving rain. At that point it started to hail where we were, so we decided on a tactical withdrawal back to the car, and a couple of fairly easy drive-bys, punctuated by a visit to the pub.

It DID mean that on the way back to the cottage we had time to stop at Mungo’s Coal Shop (yes, he even gets up here), and as a result now have a roaring coal fire in the grate in the living room, which is nicely warming the rest of the house :-)