Archive for March, 2010

Home!

Monday, March 29th, 2010

I’m home!

That is, at the time of writing this, I’m sitting in the departure lounge at Glasgow International Airport, but with the intermaweb at three quids for half an hour, I’m going to be back home before this appears online. This rather striking picture was taken in Renfrew – it’s Renfrew Town Hall – just up the road from the conference hotel, on my Saturday morning geocaching walk. And on which subject – sorry the quality of my pics are a bit carp, but they were taken on my phone: While I had a nice long weekend in Scotland, my proper camera – and my coat – had a nice long weekend at Purple Fred’s house. Oops. Bit of a packing malfunction by me there.

This is about a quarter of a mile from the hotel, alongside the Cart Water, a tributary of the Clyde. Those hills in the distance were the main feature of the view from my room, all rather nice really. There’s a path from the hotel which runs down alongside the river, and then up alongside the Clyde, until it gets to a little passenger ferry…

…or at least, it does at the moment – the local transport authority have taken away its subsidy, so it’ll run for the last time this Wednesday.

So that was conference weekend. Another year to the next one – I might not leave it till the last minute to book the minibus next time.

And…relax

Sunday, March 28th, 2010

Well…the Hospital Broadcasting Conference is almost over – most of the delegates have gone home, and conference team are sitting around with our feet up and quaffing our choice of rehydration fluids.

If you’ve been watching my Facebook page you’ll know some of the following, but for those of you who don’t – or who’d like a bit more detail…

Our performance at the Totton Drama Festival went well, the adjudicator was nice about us, and out of a cast of seven we had four award nominations, and one award winner. Well done to Natalie for picking up the Best Supporting Actor award :-) .

The next morning I hopped on a plane – minus my coat and camera – for Glasgow, and the above mentioned conference. A weekend of minibus driving, interspersed with other bits of conference helping, and of course a few geocaches – well, nine actually. I had one fail to find because the final location looked a bit trespassy – as in, it was on the private side of a barbed wire fence – and another where it looked like ground clearance had taken away the vegetation in which the cache was hidden, but otherwise I found everything I looked for.

This evening’s plans centre on relaxation, a bar snack and an early night: Tomorrow’s main features are expected to be taking the minibus back to the van hire place, and catching the flight home. And hopefully, somewhere in the meantime, finding the ticket that will enable me to get my car out of the long-term parking at Southampton.

Rush

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

This week’s a bit busy…

Last night I did the classroom bit of my MiDAS refresher course (Minibus Driver Assessment Scheme) – the driving bit is yet to be arranged. Tonight is my one night in: Tomorrow we’re rehearsing, and Thursday night performing, out Totton Drama Festival entry.

And then on Friday, I jet off to glamorous climes (Glasgow) for the hospital radio conference!

All of which should be read as an apology for the forthcoming lack of bloggy goodness. Sorry abou that.

Overheard

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

…on the train:
“My Dad crashed his plane”
“Was he on the ground?”
“After he finished crashing, he was”

Fire

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

Today I have been mostly attending Firex South, the exhibition for the fire safety industry. And if you think that sounds dull…you should’ve been there! Even the quality of the freebies on the stands wasn’t up to much, although I did score a “quid on a keyring” trolley token, get another mouse mat and a packet of mints. Oh, and a fairly decent ballpoint pen.

Still, it was a nice day outside (which made being inside seem even more dull!) and the fact that the show was in an area I’d never visited before meant that on the walk from the railway station I bagged five caches – including this little beauty:

How many of us remember when 90% of caches looked like that, and micros were an occasional novelty?

Better still, also included in the five was another one just as well hidden as that, and a micro that showed how good a microcache can be – it was exactly right for the location, and drew attention to an interesting local curiosity that a visitor might otherwise miss.

A good day out – I think I might go back to Sandown Park.

TeeVee

Monday, March 15th, 2010

Has anyone been following The Lakes on ITV lately?

I’ve been making an effort to get home on time on Mondays, so I can be showered and fresh to sit down and watch it. I’m just not sure why…

A couple of the episodes have featured the work of the mountain rescue teams, which was all very interesting and worth making the effort for, but the others have all been thinly disguised plugs for Lakeland businesses. We’ve followed an hotelier as he does various daft things raising money for charity – all very laudable, if the name of the hotel didn’t get far more attention than the name of the charity. And tonight we watched a pair of americans spend a night in a haunted mansion which isn’t even in the Lake District.

Much more fun, but still in the field of TV, was last Friday’s Eurovision offering. For those of you who missed it, a number of acts performed, and Pete Waterman (who has co-written the song that will be the British entry) chose three to go to the public vote. To put it nicely, some of the acts weren’t very good, and Waterman clearly covered his bum by picking the act he obviously wanted to win, and two rubbish ones that no-one in their right mind would have voted for.

You should’ve seen his face when one of the rubbish acts won the public vote :-)

It’s a shame really, as the song is quite good – at least in as much as it’s the kind of song that wins Eurovision.

Welcome

Friday, March 12th, 2010

…to new reader Chris, who confessed just t’other evening that he’d become a follower of the Gottleblog. Chris is originally a drama friend of Purple Fred (whom I love very much), in fact the first time I met him he was playing one of her husbands (the imaginary one) on stage. He’s now playing the bloke who says “Good grief!” when he first sees me on stage, and PF is directing us. How things come full circle, eh?

Speaking of which, rehearsals for our entry in Totton Drama Festival are going very well – and my advice to our opposition is to give up now.

Instruments

Monday, March 8th, 2010

Following on from my rather rantish post on Friday, Elly the Rich commented “You’ve listed 15 or so acts and regulations, which does sound like a bit of overkill. Get rid of them all and there will be no need for the consultants, no need for further regulation by government, and a return to common sense. A three point win.”

Good point – and here’s another idea: Let’s do away with the driving test, then we won’t need all those driving instructors and examiners. And I’m sure we can expect everyone to use their common sense and drive responsibly and not kill each other.

In truth, those 15 or so legal instruments (they’re better than illegal instruments, like bagpipes) only serve to embody the basics of how employers should treat their employees (and employees should treat each other): If your actions are likely to cause harm, you’ve got to reduce the risk as far as possible (the legal phrase is “as far as is reasonably practicable”, which is actually a lower standard than “as far as possible”), and then if the residual risk is still unacceptable, protect people and help them to protect each other. There’s actually nothing any of those acts and regulations require, that aren’t what a responsible employer would be doing anyway.

In spite of that, there continue to be prosecutions for breaches of health and safety law: Collapsing scaffolding, overturning machinery, factory plant with dangerous faults – I was going to quote a few cases, but the size of the “recent health and safety prosecutions” database boggled even me. Anyone remember the Piper Alpha oil rig fire in the North Sea? 167 fatalities caused firstly by poor process (disregard of a permit to work system) and exacerbated by appallingly bad emergency plans.

For something slightly lighter hearted – at least in as much as no-one was killed – see this for an example of what happens when you leave people to use their common sense.

Rant

Friday, March 5th, 2010

According to an article in The Sun on Wednesday, Jane Moore claimed that “Health and Safety laws have flourished under Labour”. Well as many of you will know, I’m no fan of the Labour party, but let’s just see how true that is.

Labour came to power on the most recent occasion in 1997: The Health and Safety at Work Act came in in 1974 (under a Labour government but the foundation work was done by the Conservatives). The Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations came in in 1992, as did the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations, the Workplace (Health Safety and Welfare) Regulations and the Manual Handling Operations Regulations. The Electricity at Work Regulations date from 1989.

Health and Safety regulations brought in since 1997 include:
The Reporting of Injuries Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2005
The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998
The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999

…all of which are merely modernisations of regulations originally implemented in 1995, 1992 and 1992 (again) respectively. The Health and Safety (Offences) Act 2008 only updated the penalties for breaches of the 1974 act, and the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 hugely simplified the requirements of the old Fire Precautions Act.

In fact, the only Health and Safety legislation I can think of that impacts on general areas of the UK workplace and were introduced by Labour are:
The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 (which formalised 1985 requirements);
The Control of Major Accident Hazards Regulations 1999 (which implemented the Seveso Directive of 1996)
…and of course the Corporate Manslaughter Act 2007, which didn’t actually introduce any new duties, it just made it easier to obtain a prosecution when duties which already existed had been breached.

Oh, and the Work at Height Regulations 2005 which – you’ve guessed it – replace a selection of earlier regulations.

What has increased under this government is a huge Health and Safety mythology where employers have been led to believe they’re prohibited from doing huge numbers of things which, properly done, are perfectly safe and permissible – such as the use of stepladders in basic maintenance. This mythology is partly down to consultants hoping to make a fast buck by selling people services they don’t need, but mainly to the government continuing to allow the Health and Safety profession to continue unregulated, meaning anyone, with no qualifications or experience, can set up as a Health and Safety sepcialist and give whatever advice they think is right.

Rant over. Thank goodness it’s the weekend :-)

Mojo

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010

I seem to have got my geocaching mojo back :-)

I solved the puzzles on the multicache Carry On – Follow That Camel aaages ago – and again last Summer when I realised I’d lost the original notes. But it was only this morning that I motivated myself to make the necessary diversion from my normal walk to work to find it.

And then, thanks to a tip-off from m’reader Jane, I discovered that the cache I couldn’t find on Monday, London Invasion had been reported missing last week. The owner doesn’t plan to replace the cache in the same place for a number of reasons, so he’s allowing logs from people who didn’t find it, as long as they can describe the location accurately enough to convince him they were looking in the right place. And I must’ve been convincing enough, because I got my permission to log today.

It’s a shame it’s gone missing because the trail that leads here is a good one, and an excellent example to new cache setters of how a multicache should be (for other excellent examples see any multi owned by Esscafe or Paws for Thought!). I wouldn’t normally log something I hadn’t found, but the fact that the cache owner had already let someone else do it, combined with that the cache definitely isn’t going to be replaced in the same place, made this look like fair game.

And then on the way home this evening I got Britain’s Largest Screen to complete the day’s hat trick :-)

More Caching…well Sorta

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

Not my most successful geocaching day.

On the way to work, I trled for Long Tall Alley – it was the second time I’d tried this one, or the third if you include the time I couldn’t even find the alley, never mind the cache. I know within thirty feet or so where it must be, but still can’t even spot a likely hidey hole.

Then at lunchtime I went for a walk and had a go at St Georges Garden and Vladimir Ilyich Lenin’s Cache, both nice enough hides in little parks, and I now know where both of them are – they were under the bums of people eating their lunches.

Oh well, I’ll try for them on my way in one morning sometime.

Bleep Bleep!

Monday, March 1st, 2010

Well, I know where the final location of the cache is :-)

That is, I think I do – I visited the site this morning but couldn’t find it, but all the clues fitted so I’m sure I was in the right place. I’ll email the cache owner and check I was in the right spot, and try again later in the week.

Didn’t it hammer down over the weekend? I was out on the Meon Valley Plod, and had to drive through some really deep floods to get there. I’ll tell you how cold and wet it was…I didn’t do any caches afterwards!