Archive for March, 2009

Home in the Daylight!

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

These light evenings are great aren’t they?

But sadly, further thoughts on that subject – along with an explanation of the title “Fyffe Dace” for Purple Fred, and a blog about calculators – will have to wait until my shoulder, back and neck are feeling better. You’d think someone who delivers ergonomy training would know better than to haul a massively heavy rucksack all day, wouldn’t you :-(

I’m off to spray on some Ralgex – hopefully I’ll be flexible enough to put fingers to keyboard tomorrow.

Fyffe Dace

Monday, March 30th, 2009

As you’ll probably have noticed, I’ve been away. A day working at our office near Manchester was followed by a long weekend at the Hospital Radio Conference, this year held in sunny (but windy) Blackpool.

So, the work day was…just a work day. There are photos, but as they’re all health and safety-related, I won’t bore you with them. Then it was off to Manchester Airport, where I was due to collect the minibus that I’d rented in order to be able to ferry the various conference delegates on their trips, tours and excursions, as well as to and from the railway station and Blackpool Airport at the start and finish of the conference. This entailed more walking than collecting a hire vehicle normally does, but next time I’ll know where to go and it’ll be a lot easier!

I got to Blackpool (eventually…I had the satnav with me, wish I’d thought to bring the roadworks and traffic add-on, as most of Blackpool is being dug up!) I checked into the hotel, found my room, which had the biggest bed I’d ever seen…

…and met up with John and Marie, Jan and Andy and Paul and Emma, who were already there.

The main feature of the weekend was the gala dinner…

and the National Hospital Radio Awards 2009…

(sorry the picture is a bit crap…I was hand holding the camera, and avoiding using flash so as not to spoil the atmos.)…but there were also visits to Preston and Chorley hospital radio stations, Radio Wave (Blackpool’s local independent station), various seminars and meetings and lots of chatting to friends.

And then Conference was all over, and those of us on the Conference Team who’d stayed another night retired to John and Marie’s room with a couple of wine boxes and the biggest pack of Toffee Crisps and fun-sized Mars Bars you’ve ever seen to round off the weekend!

And today, I’ve returned the minibus whence it came, and at the time of writing I’m sitting on Manchester Piccadiily station, waiting for the train home, where I will probably load the washing maching and go to bed!

…and needless to say there was some caching! In Manchester:
Grosvenor Square Cache
Alan Turing and
Sidetracked: Manchester Piccadilly

And in Blackpool:
Chris and Ray’s Ruby Route no.3
Jubilee Gardens #2
Tower View – 1 Mile (where Paul S came with me and experienced his first cache)
Sian’s Squires Gate
Olicersia
Blackpool’s First Cache, where Paul and Emma both joined me, and having quickly spotted the cache, I stood back and let then have their first proper find together…and here they are with it…

I think there might be some caching converts there…oh, and Paul S…I’ve got your cold, you ratbag!

Quiz

Saturday, March 28th, 2009

Blimey!

OK, I wasn’t expecting the quiz to be solved that quickly – or to be that popular, given that a good proportion of my regular readers are either in Cornwall or the Home Counties, or with me at the Hospital Radio Conference in Blackpool!

Anyway, congrats to Mrs Hedgehog, Nobby Nobbs, Bel, Carol and Omally, who at the time of writing are the successful finishers. If you haven’t started yet, don’t be put off – I’ll do a league table based on first finishers because I promised I would, but I’ll also do one based on elapsed time between first and last right answer, so you can still do well even if you were late to the party :-)

I’ll definitely do one of these again…I’ll try to make the questions a bit harder, and less Google-able, next time!

Experimental

Friday, March 27th, 2009

Since I’m only going to have intermittent internet access over the weekend, I thought we’d do a little experiment in the form of a quiz. To take part you’ll need to send emails, so obviously you’ll need email access: to answer some of the questions you’ll probably have to do a bit of Googling.

Anyway, here’s the scam: I’ll set a question, you work out the answer, and send a blank email to (answer)@duellDOTorgDOTuk. If your answer is right, you’ll get a return email almost immediately with the next question. There are five questions in all: Next week I’ll post a league table of cleverclogses based on the time of arrival in my inbox of the right answer to question 5.

So, the first question: name the only mother-and-son act to have a number one hit in the UK chart. The answer is the last word of the act’s name, so if the act was the Bay City Rollers (which it isn’t), you’d send your email to rollers@duellDOTorgDOTuk.

Put your name as the subject of the email so I can keep track, and good luck!

Apprenticeship

Thursday, March 26th, 2009

I’ve never had any enthusiasm for The Apprentice before. And on the rare occasions I’ve seen it, I’ve always been intensely irritated by the massive egos who think that stupid cufflinks and a loud voice are an effective substitute for ability and hard work.

I might have an occasional glimpse at the new series though: m’colleague Ivan is running an office sweepstake on who’s going to win, so I could be in for some cash :-) . In the random draw, I selected Paula Jones, who certainly looks – in the publicity shot on the BBC website – scary enough to be a contender.

I hope so, anyway – the only reason Ivan’s arranged it is so that, every Thursday morning, he can shout “YOU’RE FIRED” at the latest hapless sweepstake evictee.

Dorset Photos

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

I promised pictures when I got organised…well, I’m not organised but here’s some pictures anyway :-)

Near the cache “Swyre Head”, placed by the excellent Gary and Jane.


Steam train on the Swanage Railway, near the cache “Corfe First School Geo 1″.


One of the ruins that Cromwell knocked abaht a bit…Corfe Castle.


Me with my 1100th cache, “Grange Arch”…another Gary and Jane placing, and well up to their usual standard.


And here’s Grange Arch itself – it was built as a folly, to look like a ruined castle from the owner’s house in the valley beyond.


Close to the location of the virtual cache “Tyneham Village” – owned by my very own blog reader Steve – this is Tyneham church.


Daffodils in Tyneham.


Seen from the cache “Churchill’s Challenge”, this is a view out to sea towards Old Harry Rocks.


And finally for this offering…if you’d like to know more about the “frozen village” of Tyneham, this link will be an excellent starting point.

Tree Dace

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009

Three days until something a little bit different happens to Gottleblog.

Different as in, I’m trying something a bit technical that might not work. But call in at 9 PM (UK time) on Friday, and with a bit of luck you’ll see what I mean…

*Whistles nervously and crosses everything cross-able*

Daaaar-set!

Monday, March 23rd, 2009

Yes chums, another cracking weekend with m’dear Purple Fred, tootling around on the magnificently beautiful Isle of Purbeck. PF had found a superb B+B – more a series of one-room (plus en suite) apartments set around a common courtyard, with a separate dining hall. We discovered a pub within easy walking distance but sadly – and astonishingly, these days – the food didn’t live up to the views from the garden. Luckily by the evening we’d discovered the Castle Inn in Corfe Castle :-)

The weather was great on both days, but less hazy on Sunday allowing us to enjoy the views for which Purbeck is famous (and no, I don’t mean Studland Nudist Beach!). And as well as exciting views from up high, we enjoyed some peaceful time in the lovely village of Tyneham, frozen in the 1940s. The residents left when the area was taken over for military training in WW II, and contrary to promises made at the time, never allowed to return.

Needless to say there was some caching activity: on Saturday
Swyre Head and
Corfe First School Geo 1:
On Sunday
Grange Arch (my 1100th),
Tyneham Village and
Sandstorm’s Secret number 4: Churchill’s Challenge.

I think we’ll be going back to Purbeck. Pictures if/when I get organised.

Capital Caching

Sunday, March 22nd, 2009

In a comment on Thursday’s blog, Hutters asked “Are there any caches in London you still haven’t done?”.

More than you might think LH…although in the last week (despite only working in London on three days) I’ve found

What the Dickens #2
Eyes Open
Thorium Lockbox
and attended
Another London Geocaching Meet

…and that’s in addition to four fail-to-finds (it was dark and there were a lot of people about), and re-visiting
West End Trail: Pigeon Square with a brand new cacher to make sure they found their first cache!

Walking along the South Bank towards Thorium Lockbox, I spotted this dinosaur complete with attendant film crew…

…and then took this picture of myself crossing the Millennium Bridge, with Tate Modern in the background. If you look really closely you can see some interesting scaffolding at the top of the chimney…

But back to the question…with so many people about, London caches often get muggled, so it’s not uncommon to find a cache, and within a couple of weeks it’s been muggled, archived, and a new one placed nearby. So unlike may areas, there’s a constantly refreshing supply of new caches to do :-)

And within two miles of the office, there are still forty two I haven’t found.

S-s-s-seventeen

Friday, March 20th, 2009

Back on Pancake Day, a friend of mine had a text from a friend of his: “Will you come and help with our charity pancake race? You’ll be ideal as we have the ingredients and the chef, all we need is a tosser”.

They should have seen this, but that’s another story.

If they’re still looking for tossers, I can recommend number 17 bus drivers employed by WorstBus Southampton: I know I’ve ranted a-plenty about Worst in the past, but more recently I’ve come to realise that for some reason the route 17 are significantly worse than the others. When a bus is amazingly late, fails to turn up at all, or cruises past a waiting queue without stopping, chances are it will be a 17.

This particular rant was inspired when the other night – being already an hour late through having been delayed in London – I was waiting for the bus home from Southampton station. A number 17 arrived – ten minutes late, which is almost early by Worst standards. It stopped, one person got off and one on, then the driver announced
“No more room”
“Whaddya mean? There’s loads of room.”
“If I say there’s no more room, there’s NO MORE ROOM.”

The door slammed shut and the bus was on its way, leaving seven would-be passengers staring open-mouthed after it.

What’s really frustrating…apart from being left staring at the back of a bus that you’d rather have liked to be on…is that there’s no recourse for complaint: WorstBus ignore all letters sent to them, and the councillors responsible for public transport don’t care because they never really ride on busses. And I’ve got an annual season ticket for WorstBus, so whether they take me home or not, they’ve got my money :-(

Luckily, in this case, the number 8 was also running ten minutes late, so it arrived shortly afterwards. And this one DID stop.

Missing, Presumed Down t’Pub

Thursday, March 19th, 2009

I’m not here!

I’m writing this three days ago, trying to get a bit organised…because at the time this appears on line I’ll be at a geocachers’ meet in London. I expect I’ll be chewing the fat and talking toot with chums old and new. And given that the meet is in a pub, I may have to force myself to drink some beer!

I’m hoping to find a cache or two on the way as well :-)

Even More Personal

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009

Thanks to all those of you who commented on my question about personalised number plates. Stu in particular makes some interesting points, and as usual links to some amusing photos.

In response to Scotty, Rob and Purple Fred, if I could have G0TLG – my ham radio callsign – on a plate, I’d have done that years ago! Sadly a single digit zero isn’t allowed on a UK plate, so that’s not going to happen. I could have G7 LSH – a callsign which I also hold – but hardly anyone I now know will associate that call with me or remember when I used it regularly.

The one I sort-of mentioned to PF which she refers to is B19 – which, in the font used on UK number plates, looks like “Big” – followed by my initials. The jury is still out, and I may continue to peruse what’s available. A couple of years back I was considering “M8″ with my initials – I am teased by some people for overusing the term “mate”, so it seemed appropriate – but that’s no longer available.

It all reminds me of a couple of plates I saw a few years ago. At the running events I Raynet on, a car regularly appeared with “H11 RUN” with the spacing subtly altered to say “HI I RUN”. And I followed a car in Winchester Road proudly proclaiming “HI IM BI”.

I don’t think I’ll be going for anything like that.

(Just a thought – I wonder if “C4CHE” is available? Bet it isn’t)

Allergy Advice

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009

For reasons that aren’t interesting enough to go into, I had dinner with a load of work colleagues last night. M’colleague Don (names have been changed to protect the embarrassed) has developed a neat trick for situations like that: because he thinks it isn’t the “done thing” to only like white bread these days, he tells the caterers he’s allergic to whole wheat, so he gets the white bread rolls without being made to feel a pleb.

As I’ve commented before, I choose to only eat white bread because I used to be a baker and I know what’s in wholemeal.

Anyway, Don was cackling happily at the success of his subterfuge, and how he’d been given a white roll without asking where I’d had to ask for one. He didn’t laugh quite so much when the dessert arrived, and while we all enjoyed our lemon curd tart (with pastry made with brown flour), he got a rather dodgy selection of “fresh” fruit.

Oh how we all laughed.

Opinions Please

Saturday, March 14th, 2009

A simple question for you this time…

Personalised number plates: Chavtastic, harmless fun, or a jolly good thing? Your opinions in the comments please. I’m not looking for whether you think they’re a waste of money or not – I’ve spotted one I like and decided I’d be prepared to pay for it. I’m just looking for opinions on whether they’re in good taste or not…

A couple of weeks ago, after my last Hospital Radio blog, Scotters said “Love to see some photos of your Hospital Radio digs sometime. Sounds like some facilities I’ve worked in, here and there. :): Today I was planning to post a link to the station website…but I’ve just spotted that the new webmaster has taken the gallery page offline :-( . So I’ll dig through some pics over the next week or two, and post them for you.

Wacky and Fun

Friday, March 13th, 2009

In which Gottle is just a little bit grumpy…

Someone near me on the train this morning was telling their colleague about some meetings they’re planning. Apparently a lot of it is going to involve just writing on flipcharts, which is boring – so they’re going to make it “wacky and fun” by using odd-shaped Post-It notes and coloured card.

My first thought was “God preserve us from wacky and fun” – I actually like wacky and fun quite a lot, but I’ll do it with Purple Fred, or geocaching chums, or the hospital radio folks I’m seeing in a couple of weeks – people like that who I choose to be with, in other words.

On reflection I thought that anyone who thinks a business meeting can be transformed into wacky and fun, just by using Post-Its shaped like Postman Pat, needs to get out more. A lot more.

And then I thought that anyone who believes a business meeting needs to be wacky and fun before people will participate, either desperately needs some new colleagues – or needs to be punched on the nose for being a patronising prat.

About Chocolate. And Insanity.

Thursday, March 12th, 2009

According to this news story, Scottish GP Dr David Walker is proposing a tax on chocolate to help beat obesity.

Is he insane? Apart from annoying every woman in the country at just the time you really don’t want to upset them, it isn’t going to work anyway: in Walker’s own particular bailiwick – the home of the deep-fried Mars bar – chocolate would seem to be the smallest health problem. For the rest of us, putting the price up a bit won’t stop dedicated chocaholics from getting their normal ration.

For evidence, I invite you to think just how successful the constant increases in fuel prices have been in stopping the spread of private car use. The roads are still clogged solid. Alcohol tax doesn’t stop dedicated drinkers, and although with every price increase a few more people give up smoking, the successful quitters are the ones who WANT to quit – not those forced by economic necessity.

Anyone reckon Dr Walker must be single?

Long Gap

Tuesday, March 10th, 2009

At eight o’clock yesterday morning I was sitting in the cold in a tiny provincial railway station with, among other people, a trainspotter on a day off work. I know that because he kept on ringing his friends and telling them “I’m on a day off work, so I’m trainspotting all day”. By the same technique I found out that he’d been there since four o’clock that morning.

And I found out that it was a tiny provincial railway station I was sitting in when he stood up and offered a young lady his seat, and she said “Thank you very much”: in London she’d have punched him for being a sexist pig and stayed standing to prove she was as good as any man.

Other key events since I last blogged include:

  1. Grunty passed her MOT with no work needed, and I found a cache:
    Last Man Standing II
  2. We visited a lighthouse and a museum, and found two caches:
    Spell of a Witch and
    See the Pumpkin
  3. I travelled north to see Jenny and Chris, and play with cats
  4. I worked at our Midlands office, and found a cache on the way home:
    Sidetracked: Beccapeppa at Lufbra

Morse

Friday, March 6th, 2009

In response to my mention of Morse code the other day, Peter Hedgehog wrote “what I’ve never understood about morse code is how do you know when one letter stops and another starts…??? Good question Peter…and one that’s not easy to answer in any meaningful way. The most accurate (and least helpful) answer is “you just can”.

It’s a bit like learning a foreign language: at first, with a native forrin-speaker jabbering away at normal talking speed, you haven’t got a hope, but with practice you learn to pick out some words, then others, and if you keep working at it – and if you’re one of the lucky ones with a facility for languages – you end up having no problem. Consider this – it’s a line from a French pome we had to learn at school:

“Bon”, dit Bondy, et Bondy bondit”

Spoken by a native French speaker, the words would seem to all run together and be difficult to understand, but with practice you get there :-)

When you’re really practised, you can even tell whose morse you’re listening to, because morse sending is as individual as handwriting: but that’s for another day.

Another Fred

Thursday, March 5th, 2009

And what we learn from this morning is “Don’t go boozing on a skool night”. Oh dear :-(

I suspect today’s opinion might be a bit unpopular, but since when did that ever stop me? There’s much furore among the envious about the sixteen million pound pension deal of former RBS chief Sir Fred Goodwin: even Labour deputy leader Harriet Harperson has weighed in to the debate, saying he shouldn’t count on receiving the full amount, after RBS had to be bailed out by the taxpayers on his watch.

A pension of over£700k per year is certainly a big number, but that on its own isn’t a reason for taking some of it away. Is Sir Fred a bad person for negotiating the best pension he could? No, he’s only done what you or I would do. The numbers are different but that doesn’t change the principle.

Apparently if Sir Fred had been sacked, his pension could have been reduced, but he was asked to take early retirement: someone may be at fault for that decision but it isn’t him. And RBS may be in trouble, but no worse than many other banks, so it doesn’t seem right for him to take all the blame.

But the main reason he should receive his full contractual entitlement is that if it becomes OK for the government to screw with his pension, it becomes OK for them to do the same to yours and mine.

Tizzle

Wednesday, March 4th, 2009

Just a quick blog tonight chums, I’m heading to the pub in a minute or two :-)

My old chum Tizzle, whom I’ve not seen for years and years, is visiting Southampton, so we’re meeting up for a pint or eight. Back in the days when you had to pass a Morse code exam to get a ham radio licence, I was an examiner and Tizzle was the Chief Examiner for Hampshire, so we saw quite a bit of each other.

Those test sessions were fun – for us, at least, probably less so for the people being tested. We’d start by sending them a passage of morse, which they’d have to write down with fewer than four errors, then we’d give them a written test piece which they’d have to send back. We never liked failing people, and always did the best we could to help them relax so they were at their best.

Particularly frustrating were some of the people we had to fail for errors in receiving: a word with a missing letter counted as an error, and remember you’re only allowed four: if someone handed in a piece with five errors, one of which was “my name is Ste-e”, we’d have to fail them – all because they hadn’t checked their work.

It was brilliant when someone was really nervous and we could pass them though :-)

Anyway…off t’pub. See you later chums!

Missing, Presumed Fed

Monday, March 2nd, 2009

Those of you who don’t read Stu’s blog won’t know that he presents his readers with a weekly photography challenge.

This week, the theme was “Out of Frame”, the brief being “This week, the subject is absent from the frame. This could be for various reasons – location: your subject is present but off to one side of the frame; temporal: your subject was present but has now gone.

Here’s my effort: I know technically it’s a bit crap…I kept on forgetting the good camera and in the end had to use a camera phone shot. But I hope you can see the idea I was striving for.