Archive for February, 2009

Interesting Times

Friday, February 27th, 2009

That was an interesting evening.

I’ve been to Hospital Radio: The first thing different to normal was that m’colleague Rockin’ Rob wasn’t there, being himself a bit under the weather (and according to our chum Doo Ron Ron, who spoke to him on the phone, he does sound rough!). Normally that wouldn’t matter…it just means that I choose the music unassisted, which means we play some decent stuff (i.e. from before Rob was born!).

Tonight I had the additional challenge of studio five – from where Thursday Magazine is normally thrust upon the world – turning up its toes and dying – specifically a low voltage power supply that died every fifteen minutes. Luckily – or so I thought at the time – I noticed in time and decamped to studio one just before the programme started.

Now studio one has had its share of problems in its sixteen year life: Being the preferred studio of someone who never tidied up after themselves was one, the radiator never working was another: In comparison the fact that it was thought for a while to be haunted was a minor thing (and useful when we needed a phantom power supply…hee hee, technical joke there!). It’s now about to become the home of Southampton Area Talking Newspaper, and has already been customised for their use – which means:
– the controls for turntable one are labelled “TAPE”
– the controls for turntable two are labelled “CD”
– turntable one doesn’t work anyway (or at least, it only works on the left stereo channel)
– CD one has to be cobbled into the desk because its controls have been stolen by a cassette player
– the computer needed some…ahem…modification before it would work properly.

And at ten o’clock I said “…and here is the news”, pressed the button, and nothing happened. Nada. What we call “dead air” (and yes Rob, I DID try to use the NEW news channel!).

I don’t think it went too badly really. And I’ve recorded the whole thing for m’chum Mallers who’s in hospital at the moment…Neil, look out for a CD winging it’s way your way :-)

Bedtime.

Mungo Mechanic

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

I finally motivated myself to phone Mungo’s Garage Services.

“Hello, Mungo speaking, how can I help?”
“Hello Mungo, I’d like to book my car in for some work”
“Finest kind, that’s what we do best! What would you like us to do?”
“You did some diagnostics a couple of weeks ago, I’d like the work out of that done please”.
“OK hang on, I’ll just check the screen”

*Our hero is left listening to an interesting selection of on-hold music*

*There is some negotiation about dates*

“Yes sir, we can do that, we’ll see you next week then”
“Great…oh, and while you’ve got it, could you do an MOT?”
“We sure can…of, but we’d better do the work before the MOT or it’ll fail”
“I kinda knew that…that’s why I’m asking you to do the work”.

Why am I trusting my lovely Grunty to these people?

Crispy and Co

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

Those of you in the UK probably already know that Walkers Crisps are trialling six new flavours: The idea is that the crisp-eating public submitted suggestions for new flavours; Walkers selected six and have produced limited editions for the public to try. We’re then being encouraged to vote for our favourite flavour, and the winner will go into full production.

The choices available are:
– Builder’s Breakfast
– Fish and Chips
– Crispy Duck & Hoisin
– Chilli and Chocolate
– Onion Bhaji
– Cajun Squirrel

I quickly decided that only the first three interested me, and although I’m not going to be voting – for reasons I’ve described in my comments on reality TV – I wanted to try them. It’s taken a while, partly because the need to lose weight has reduced my crispular eating activities, and partly because they seem to be supplying different flavours to different areas. I found Fish and Chips in London, Builder’s Breakfast in Yorkshire, and Cispy Duck with Hoisin in the Tesco round the corner from home. Anyway, I’ve now tried all three.

So the votes of the Gottleblog jury are:
– Fish and Chips. Not bad, it does actually taste of fish and chips but it’s a bit too vinegary for me.

– Crispy Duck and Hoisin. The most disappointing, didn’t taste too bad but it certainly didn’t taste of crispy duck and hoisin.

– Builders’ Breakfast. This was the best of the bunch: the picture on the pack promises bacon egg and beans, and the individual flavours can be identified. If I was going to vote, this is the one I’d vote for.

Perhaps I ought to check the other flavours anyway?

Healthy Friends

Monday, February 23rd, 2009

We had a Health and Safety meeting today :-)

Not an unusual situation you might think, given what I do for a living, and it’s the seventh since I’ve been here. What I’m still surprised by, every time, is how friendly they are. At my last workplace, meetings took three or four hours, most of which was filled with union reps whinging about not being given the information they needed to be able to do their jobs – information which the Data Protection Act stopped us giving them without their own members’ permission.

Today’s meeting was over in fifty minutes, including videoconference to four remote location, one of which had the chairman. Oh yes – at these meetings I don’t have to be the chairman or take the minutes, so I can focus on being the health and safety person. There’s a thing! We get a free lunch too!

And one the walk to work this morning I found West End Trail – Sewer Gardens, which completes this series of three London caches for me. I hope there are going to be more of them – nice little caches and thoughtfully placed.

Lost Weekend

Sunday, February 22nd, 2009

OK, not really a lost weekend…but a good title for a three day blog holiday, yeah?

On Thursday, PF and I went with our friend J to the theatre: We saw a play that PF and J had both been in, which added a dimension…with them two muttering the lines under their breath, in time to the actors, it was a bit like a weird surround sound experience, but we had a great time!

Friday was hard work…at least, it was hard work staying awake…and the highlight of Saturday for me and PF was comparative testing of various cold and flu remedies, including, in my case, whisky.

And now it’s Sunday evening, and this afternoon featured tenpin bowling: I was meant to go to the gym, but I’m having enough trouble breathing as it is, so I didn’t need the extra challenge of the cardio machines. So another fun weekend…and I’m looking forward to next weekend, when I hope to be able to breath, even more!

Tom Holt Meme

Thursday, February 19th, 2009

Having mentioned Tom Holt last night…and because I haven’t posted a meme for a while…I thought I’d try the quiz on Tom Holt’s website. The quiz was to mark the launch of the latest novel in the Portable Door series, and was designed to test if you’re evil enough to get a job at J W Wells.

I got an Evil Rating of 69 and got the job!

Are you evil enough to get a job too?

I should point out that I answered quite a few of the questions with the answers I thought J W Wells would want, rather than honest ones, but that’s what job interviews are about, isn’t it?

Another!

Wednesday, February 18th, 2009

Only a short blog today, but there a few things to report before I head for me beddy-byes…

Firstly, those who were confused by the 70 St Mary Axe reference should go and have a look at John’s comment on that entry…well done John! Although to be honest that was the secondary reference: I was originally referring to the fact that in the Tom Holt “Portable Door” series of novels, 70 St Mary Axe is the headquarters of J W Wells, practical magicians and the employers of Paul Carpenter and Sophie Pettingell. It was only when I did a quick internet search to check that it was number 70 that I discovered that Holt had borrowed the whole St Mary Axe thing from Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Sorcerer.

So here’s a linky to a bit of background reading on the G&S connection, and here’s one to some info about the Tom Holt books.

Moving on, and today, a half-day course took me to a different bit of The Nation’s Capital: No literary references in the area as far as I know, but I did manage a geocache, Circle Line Pub Crawl No. 1 before the course started. The pub was shut though :-(

And finally, and most importantly, sympathies and prayerful thoughts to Andy and Simon on the loss of their Mum. RIP Mary.

(St Mary) Axed!

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009

Yesterday took me to a different part of London for a meeting. The meeting was a bit dull, but the area offered a new breakfast experience – a cafť frequented by builders, in Leadenhall Market – three caches, two of which were fail-to-finds and the other I didn’t have time to look for, and a ride on the Waterloo and City line.

It also gave me the chance to take this picture of me outside 70 St Mary Axe:

Of course, for those of you who aren’t Tom Holt readers or G+S fans, that won’t mean much!

And on the way to work this morning, I found the cache
West End Trail: Bridges & Statues :-)

Lots of Things

Sunday, February 15th, 2009

SOOO much has happened since I last blogged…

Grunty has been in for a service, and been checked over for the work that’s needed before the MOT. And then of course, Saturday was Valentine’s Day…which could only mean geocaching activity with Purple Fred, and some family and friends :-)

On Sunday I was Raynetting in the north of the county, and on the way I called in at a shop near PF’s house for a pie: I bought a steak and onion pie with the rather unusual slogan “Specialising in Sandwiches”. I thought that was rather an odd slogan for a pie, but having eaten it I think they’re right…they should stick to sandwiches :-(

The event over, it was time for some caching…
SideTracked – Mortimer Station, Berkshire and
Elf Yourself were straightforward enough, apart from the VERY agricultural smells at Elf Yourself…then it was on to
The Devil’s Highway. This is along a byway (an off-road track which it’s legal to drive) which the cache description says is recently resurfaced and driveable in all types of vehicle.

Normally the rule in off-roading is “never drive anything for the first time on your own, unless you’ve walked it first”, but with a recommendation like that I was prepared to chance it, especially as it started so promisingly…

And it was going so well untill literally a few yards from the end, when I came to the huge fallen tree blocking the path. At which point I remembered that in the whole mile-and-a-half there’d only been one place to turn round. Reversing for threequarters of a mile off-road is…um…exciting!

And then on the way home I stopped at Winchester Services for
Motorway Mayhem-M3 Winchester Services Southbound, which was much easier and offered a chance for coffee and biscuits!

I Love Cats

Thursday, February 12th, 2009

I was in Clintons Cards this morning.

Needless to say, given the season, they have a HUUUGE range of Valentine cards: wife, girlfriend, fiancee, the one I love…yadda yadda. I feel quite sorry for anyone who’s got a birthday around now, the birthday cards are all in one small rack by the door. And I couldn’t find any “Get Well” cards at all :-(

But what really surprised me – and scared me a little bit – was the “Happy Valentine to My Adorable Cat” card. At first I thought it was a hippy sixties-style thing for a cool hip cat…but it’s got a picture of a cat on the front, and another inside with the words “To a purrrfect puss”.

I will admit that when we had Garfield, he always got a Christmas card from me, and I got one from him – funny, his pawwriting looked just like my Mum’s. But I’m sure Valentine cards are a step too far.

Home

Wednesday, February 11th, 2009

Well, I got home last night OK…no thanks to London Underground though!

I normally come back from Yorkshire on the Virgin Train that goes all the way through to Southampton, avoiding all the hassle of changes and things like that: This time – and I can’t remember why I decided to do it this way – I travelled via London, National Express to Kings Cross, then Waterloo to home on SouthWest Trains. The first bit worked OK, in fact National Express – with their lovely free on-board wi-fi – might be my new favourite train company.

But when I got to London, Kings Cross underground station was closed. Not only that, but from the number of people coming out, it looked as if it was being evacuated. I knew a back route to Russell Square, so I walked down there – and was embarrassed that in spite of all the signs, I couldn’t find the entrance to the underground station! So I carried on to Holborn station, which was also closed and the gates guarded by big hairy policemen.

Funny thing is, walking from Kings Cross to Waterloo only took about five minutes longer than the undergound normally does :-)

Anyway, I bought a pasty at Waterloo, and the SouthWest Trains part of the journey passed without incident, so that was OK. And now I have to do my one-day-delayed unpacking.

On My Way with Fingers Crossed

Tuesday, February 10th, 2009

Well…I’m not home from Yorkshire yet…but I’m on the way, and blogging courtesy of the train’s free on-board wi-fi, so that’s good. Apparently there’s a risk that we might be delayed by flooding at Stevenage…just have to wait and see.

I mentioned that the hotel we use in Yorkshire is very nlce, and that’s true, except for one thing – evening service in the restaurant is a bit arty-farty, and VERY overpriced. Luckily only a short walk away is a fish-and-chip restaurant that’s so good – and cheap – that lorry drivers come here, and in the world of fish and chips, there’s no higher praise than that!

I had the chicken and chips with a half carafe of wine, for the same cost as a starter at the hotel. Nice :-)

Whether Depends on the Weather

Sunday, February 8th, 2009

…but first, thanks for your good wishes on yesterday’s anniversary :-) . No, Bel, no need to buy a hat just yet – although of course you can if you want!

I’m carefully checking the weather forecast for the next couple of days: I’m working in London tomorrow as normal, then tomorrow afternoon I’m heading up to Yorkshire where I’m staying tomorrow night before working in the office there on Tuesday. The forecast at the moment suggests I’ll get there OK, but may be stranded there Tuesday night: Not much of a hardship really ‘cos the hotel we use up there is rather nice!

The only upsetting thing is that there’re no caches anywhere near the office.

Watch this space – there’s unlikely to be bloggage tomorrow because I’m not taking the lappy with me: If there’s nothing on Tuesday night, I’m probably still in the (literally) frozen north :-(

Fifty-two

Saturday, February 7th, 2009

Fifty two weeks ago, Purple Fred and I had our first meeting :-) As this appears online, we are due to be stuffing our faces with ethnic cuisine and staring into each other’s eyes.

As I drove to that first meet, a year ago today, I was listening to some old tat on the radio: they were playing a country and western song, in which the singer gives advice to his much younger self, including the line “…and if you get a date with Purple Fred, well that works out just fine…”.

Apart from the fact that he said PF’s real name, not “Purple Fred”, I promise you that’s true. And as some of you know, PF’s real name is uncommon enough to make that a spooky coincidence.

Anyway, it HAS worked out just fine, and we’re having a lovely time. All of my friends who’ve met PF like her, and all of hers that I’ve met seem to like me – even the ones who thrash me at online Scrabble. So here’s to the next year!

Witty

Friday, February 6th, 2009

You must have seen the fuss in the press about the bus ads placed by the National Secular Society, claiming “There’s probably no God…now stop worrying and enjoy your life”. Allegedly – and improbably – they were made to include the word “probably” by the Advertising Standards Authority, because they couldn’t prove there’s no God. I really hope that’s an urban myth.

One way or t’other and whatever you believe, this has to take some sort of prize for snappy comeback…

Tesco Game for a Laugh

Thursday, February 5th, 2009

Following my moan last week about Tesco recycling, some of you might have missed Susan Hedgehog’s comment, so here it is again:

Like you, we were keen points gatherers at Tesco Recycling and saved our points up for Christmas. However, Tesco have now stopped giving any points at their machines for anything other than certain cans (ie. coke, beer etc). Iím afraid no points for glass, plastics or tin food cans.

I wrote to complain and got a reply in which Tesco said that customers were abusing their system and cutting plastics up in order to gain extra points. I pointed out that customers would hardly be cutting glass into chunks so why werenít they giving points on that but they didnít reply on that point. I also pointed out that this practice, carried out by a minority, was hardly going bankrupt Tesco, surely their part in saving the planet was more important but apparently not.

Cutting bottles in half to get extra points? Who’d do such a thing? OK, Tesco’s speedy response comes a mere three months after someone admitted as much in a national news story, but I’m sure it’s been going on much longer than that.

Oh well, it was nice while it lasted, and I’ve got fifteen minutes of every Thursday evening back…not to mention all the time spent cutting plastic bottles in half.

Oops.

Food

Wednesday, February 4th, 2009

I’ve discovered a new London foodie experience.

It’s nothing sepcial, but it’s a good way of getting diet lunches. It’s the salad bar at our local Sainsbury’s, combined with a packet of something from the hot food counter: Chicken and salad for lunch…combined with porridge rather than bacon sarnies for breakfast…I must be losing weight mustn’t I?

Please?

Let It Snow…

Monday, February 2nd, 2009

And lo, it did! OK, I know everybody else has blogged about snow, and most of them have posted better photos than mine…this will partly be explained.

Leaving Gottle Towers at stupid o’clock this morning, the snow was only a couple of inches deep, so I didn’t think there’d be any trouble with the commute. I didn’t even bother with taking the good camera, thinking “By the time I get to London, this will all have melted”.

In a bizarre act of railway planning, the 6:30 from Southampton Central was cancelled…but the 6:00 was running exactly half an hour late, so that was OK :-) As we got nearer London, the snow deepened, the train slowed and the guard’s excuses became more interesting. Still and all, I was only 45 minutes later than normal arriving at the office (in other words, I arrived at what’s supposed to be my start time), and that included some pauses to take crap camera phone pictures…

This is the South Bank, seen from Waterloo Bridge.

And here’s the North Bank, or The Embankment as we denizens of the Nation’s Capital call it. There’s a massive sewer under that road, which is the reason the Thames doesn’t stink any more.

I loved the way the snow had landed on this phone box.

If I’d had the good camera this would have been a decent shot. Oh for some Photoshop skillz.

There’s a cache in this picture…or at least there will be when the owner replaces it. I haven’t found it yet.

I might be working from home tomorrow.

Lorem Ipsum

Sunday, February 1st, 2009

Sorry for the rather odd title…but I thought you might like a change from variations on the theme of “Lovely Weekend”. Although it was a lovely weekend needless to say…

But before I go into the detail, thanks to Susan for her explanation of the last post – see it in the comments if you haven’t already. Tesco appear to be ratbags.

So, the weekend…and there was an assault on Purple Fred’s to-do list, resulting in a major feeling of achievement, a few more items for the e-Bay box, a full bin bag, a duvet for the laundry and a room that’s much tidier than it was before.

So then we went caching! It was rather colder than we expected, but we had a great time, seeing three SouthWest Trains 444s on the Southampton – Bournemouth line and finding two decent caches that had some decent swag in them…the way ALL caches were, once upon a time!

The caches were Trains and Tadpoles (where we saw the trains)
and
Ham Jam 100, where we DIDN’T see any trains, but we did see two trees having a cuddle.

Then today, I went to the gym, and once again the rowing machine made me think I was never going to walk again!