Tuesday, July 31, 2007


OK, so crabbing. We started crabbing in Dartmouth two years ago. The first year we caught at least twenty in half an hour. Gosh, I thought crabbing was easy. It seems to have gone downhill since then. Now, I have a plan when it comes to crabbing. I believe that the best palce to go is Bayards Cove. I have to be honest, this is not because I think the best crabs come from there. The real attraction is that there is a pub which allows you to take your drinkks out so while "A" and I set up "J" goes and gets the round in. Then the biggest challenge is not dropping bait in your pint when casting.

So we get to this year. Down to bayards Cove. Usual routine and we start crabbing. But the water is rather shallow as the tide is out. So I decide that we should move on a bit. We get up, walk about 20 yards, sit down, I cast the line and then realise that I forgot to sit back on the handle. We watch the line go sailing out into the Dart. End of day 1.

Of course we buy another line and go crabbing on subsequent days. I am not stupid enough to let go again. But the next time we are sitting happily enjoying ourselves. Things aren't really going well, after ten minutes we have caught nothing. Then there is a sudden gust of wind. And the crabbing bucket and bait take off. I make a lunge for them but I am slowed by the thought of falling into the Dart. Instead the bucket lands in the Dart and floats away. We go and sit on a bench and bemoan the fates of crabbing. About 5 minutes later a man walks towards us. Holding a bucket. A bucket we recognise. He stops and says "I believe this is yours". We thank him and take the bucket which, rather to my surprise, now contains two crabs.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Flushed Away

I think "A" is planning on writing a book. It will be called "Toilets I Have Known and Loved". Or possibly "Toilets of the UK". It will be a review. Wherever we go she needs to visit the toilets. Well, I say "need", I am not convinced it is need rather than pure nosiness. I know there is nothing wrong with her because she came out of nappies very early on (I nearly said she was house-trained!). And she can go for hours normally. But within ten minutes of going in to a restaurant then she claims to need the loo. I think she rates the best meals out as those where "J" has taken her to the ladies and I have taken her to the gents.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Food Glorious Food

I am back, and I will let you know about the canoeing, the aquarium visit, the crabbing and more. But for now I will go with a restaurant review. It was particularly interesting taking a 5 year old (very well behaved) who normally goes to bed at 1915 hours but stayed up for evening meals every night and didn't get to bed until 2200 hrs most nights. In order of excellence/enjoyment:

1) Res Nova - a floating restaurant in the middle of the Dart. We have been trying to get there for years but a succession of disasters (theirs not ours) have meant that we could never get a table. This year we managed and I so wish we had managed before. First sat out on the deck drinking a Pimms in the sun and a lovely evening. Then inside for a lovely meal, including the best ever sticky toffee pudding (of which I only know from one small mouthful, although a very large portion arrived "A" had ordered it and finished it off, I have never seen her eat so much). We told the owner how much "A" enjoyed the meal, he then took "J" and "A" to meet the chef. After which the chef came out and made a carving of a swan out of an apple for "A".

2) Al Fresco - a wonderful cafe. A regular for the locals and a great place for breakfast. Also occassionally does lunch and even dinner but all opening hours can be cancelled if the surf is good. Great atmosphere and a fun place to go. Cinnamon toast (reminds me of school) and speciality. Bacon sarnies which surpass anything experienced elsewhere.

3) Anzacs - another place that has been on the list for a long time. "J"s meal was great, I have to admit my steak wasn't the best, but the friendliness made up for it. All the staff were helpful, the meal wasn't rushed. A good evening out is made up of both good food and a good atmosphere, they scored highly on the second.

4) The Floating Bridge - good food rather let down by service that was in chaos. In some ways the opposite to Anzacs. They couldn't remember which table had ordered what. We ended up with an extra apple juice and I am sure they never found out who it was destined for.

5) RBs - I had an amazing seafood platter as a starter with langoustines, crayfish and crab all in their shell, followed by a lovely lemon sole. "J"s lamb was a bit fatty. "A"s choclate pudding was too chocolatey and she gave up and fell asleep.

6) The Castle Hotel - overpriced for what you get. Used to be good but has gone downhill.

7) The Station - used to do the best cooked breakfasts you could imagine. Times have got hard and now can only claim to be mediocre.

8) Twentyfour - a passable lunch, but only redeemed by "J"s pasta, my savoury pancake was poor. Didn't even stay for coffee and pudding.

And two places we didn't eat but that get minus points. "Sails" says on its blackboard "everyone welcome" whcih turns out not to be true as they only allow children of 10 or over. I wouldn't mind if they were honest, it is the misleading nature of the sign that annoyed me. And "Jan and Freddies", say that they allow children but when asked if a five year old could share a course put me on hold and then came back and said "that would be difficult", which you could understand if Dartmouth had been heaving but things were quiet and we went past on the way back from where we did book in and they had five empty tables.


An unexpected drawback to the new laws against smoking is that the smokers are now congregating on the street. The reason this is a drawback is that you can find yourself innocently wandering along when you are suddenly enveloped by a fug of cigarette smoke. I actually thought a lot more people had started working the streets. Interest rates had gone up, people struggling with mortgages, and all of a sudden more people hanging around street corners. It seemed pretty obvious to me.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


Internet cafes. Places where I can get free access to the internet while I have a coffee. Excellent idea, although the rest of the family might not think so. Anyway, time to brave the weather again (Hard to believe that I am thinking of buying some more Oakley sunglasses, not as though there will be much use for them, but I spotted some berry "Dart"s, not seen them before and they really are rather nice).


This weather has to be aopn the verge of ridiculous. A day on the beach A day wher ethe rain stopped any fun (and us winning the cricket), a day where we could be outdoors all day and have a pleasant Pimms on a boat in the evening, then another day of rain. Grateful for the good days but when you wake in the morning it is a lottery. Previously we have always come to Dartmouth out of season but we have probably never seen such bad weather.

Sunday, July 22, 2007


So I am now sitting in Al Fresco in Dartmouth having brekkie (bacon sarnie and cinnamon toast). Always a good place for breakfast. Good atmosphere to start a holiday

Wet Wet Wet

They weren't joking about the weather. Friday evening we drove down from Northampton to Cardiff. A journey that normally takes 2.5 hours took over 4. At one point I considered abandoning it and staying at a hotel. One flood we came too I hoped to get through but when there were four cars stuck in it I decided that discrepency was the better side of valour and turned around to find another route. One of the floods I did drive through wasn't too deep on the "wrong" side of the road so I started driving through on that side until a Landie came towards us and obviously couldn't wait, as he drove into the flood at us I had to move over (and I thank him for being so courteous). We saw mini fountains as water gushed up out of drains. We saw slip roads under water. I lost count of how often I had to revise route plans.

Friday, July 20, 2007


Minor change to my blog. "Work" blogs are being removed. Something I should have done a while ago but it is time to be a bit more sensible. In everything else I work hard to make sure we get the correct message across, this is not the place to let all that hard work down.

Thursday, July 19, 2007


I really don't think that this should qualify as news. So some ministers used drugs when they were students. What is the deal with that? They were students. Why would anyone be surprised? OK, so I didn't indulge in drugs while I was at uni but that is because I am completely unobservant and never saw the opportunity. Different if they were doing it now but, as a general rule, I don't believe you should hold someones past against them. After all, only start slinging if you know that no-one can throw something back at you.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

I Win

Previous readers will know I am not a fan of Labour. But Ed Balls (what an unfortunate name for an education minister, can you imagine the playground "you're name is what? Balls? Boy are we going to have fun with you") has won me over.

We have descended into a compensation culture. One that stops us living. What do we teach our children when they can't ever take a risk? Risks are important, the teach us to strive forward, to excel. When school trips are cancelled then something is drastically wrong. I grew up going on outward bounds courses, pot-holing, canoeing, archery, scuba diving, abseiling. In fact I used to go and play in the disused signal box across the way (my mother only recently discovered this and nearly had a heart attack). But it pushed me, made me find things I thought I couldn't do and then realise I could try anything. At a time when we are complaining that our children are becoming more housebound we should not be limiting their adventures.

I am very grateful that the school "A" goes to does not seem to suffer from the PC culture. The headmistress is strict and rules the place - and in turn the children respect her. She does not cancel school when there is some snow and actually lets them go out in it to play. She allows them to compete.
So the headmistress at our school and Ed are doing the right thing. Challenge our children and make them grow.

Calling Noah

Even in adversity, find the positive. At least it kept us away from the rest of Europe.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

More Money

The gap between rich and poor is growing. It seems strange after Labour have been in power for so long. I always thought this was a key area for them.

What really interested me was a survey reported on Radio 4 this morning. Asking people in London how well off they were, almost all didn't think themselves rich. But a high proportion of the nations money is concentrated there. The reason they didn't consider themselves rich was because their peers were all in the same position, they didn't meet anyone who was poor.

And I can relate to this. In the cold light of day I know we are well off. But it doesn't feel like it. Friends and neighbours afford better (and more) cars, better holidays, bigger houses. And I end up feeling I don't provide for my family. But the reality is that we pay our credit card bills off every month, we have a manageable mortgage (when interest rates go up I think of the increase on my savings not the impact on the mortgage), we don't borrow. We are secure, and a long while ago I stopped working for the money as I realised there are more important things to life, but sometimes, just sometimes, that bug for more green paper creeps in.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Just A Small Prick

Dr Wakefield is up on disciplinary charges. This is the doctor who sparked off the controversy about the MMR vaccine. It has to be said, that whether or not the MMR is linked with autism, more children are being harmed through not being vaccinated than would be from using the vaccine. It is incredibly difficult however.
No medicine can be 100% safe, no medicine can be 100% effective. For vaccines to work it requires a certain percentage of the population to be immunised. We are looking for "herd" immunity, so that the disease can't get established. If not enough are vaccinated then the challenge mounts and will get to a point where any immunity can be overwhelmed. And in London there is a definite rise in the numbers of children with measles. Last year a child died from measles, something that hadn't happened for quite a while. So the difficulty is that immunity is a "herd" thing, while side effects are an individual thing. For the "herd" to be safe then individuals have to take the risk. And that is a tough decision for any parent to make.

What caught my eye though is that Dr Wakefield was taking blood samples from children at a brithday party. Brings a whole new meaning to "pin the tail on the donkey" doesn't it.


Sometimes I despair of our legal system. This was the wrong decision. For generations the rule has been simple. If a cow tests positive then it is slaughtered. This one decision in the High Court now sets a dangerous precedent. Why should anyone let the government slaughter their cattle? It may not be a religious cow we are talking about next, but is a cow that is someones livelihood any less important.

TB is a disease that ravages humans and animals alike. And a disease on the increase. Not only on the increase, but drug resistant forms are on the increase. So those who are thining that they can happily continue looking after Shambo because if they get TB then they can go on antibiotics had better be really sure they know the risks.

One of the arguments is that Shambo isn't showing signs. Well no. That's the point of the test. Catch the disease early on. Perhaps BEFORE it spreads elsewhere. And although the test itself may not be 100% accurate the fact that there are other reactors in the same herd suggests that there is a problem. Do we have to wait until the community has a mass outbreak of TB? Well I suppose it would make sure we really knew.

Lastly, they talk about Shambos welfare. He isn't doing any harm. Look, they say, he can't spread anything because he isn't in contact with other cattle. Well, those who think that is a good argument should take a look around. You might just notice that cattle are herd animals. Do you really think you can use a welfare argument when you are preventing an animal from being in contact with his own kind? I think that you are breaking some of the Five Freedoms there.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

On The Run

I went to Tesco today to buy some whisky. Very rare for me to run oout but the travel restrictions are making duty free more difficult. Anyway, paid and walked out. As I left the alarm went off. I thought "hmm, don't remember seeing the cashier take the tamper seal off the bottle". Kept walking however. Put my things in the car. Went and got a sandwich from the sandwich bar. Went back to the car, drove home. Opened the box with the whisky in (what do they call those tubes they pack the bottttles in?). And sure enough one tamper proof seal.

I'll return it AFTER I've drunk the whisky.


For as long as I can remember we have been Eddie spotters. I am sure you know what I mean, we watch for Eddie Stobart lorries on journeys. Bit of a competition thing. You get a point for being the first to spot one. And I am good at it. Very good. I almost always win. But now "A" is joining in. And there is this great conflict in my mind between having to win and letting my daughter have a chance. So now I end up whining like a dog when I see one, desparate to call it but having to wait. Very undignified.

Giddee Up

Having got the computer temporarily working again, I can give you an update on what we got up to yesterday.

At work we help out the Riding for the Disabled Association by providing vaccine. So we were invited to the National Championships at Hartpury College. We got VIP parking and an invite to a lunch reception. It was a bit of a rush taking "A" to ballet and then getting over t Hartpury but we made it in time. We got to rub shoulders with some of the equine paralympians (something that impresses me more than would any pop or film star). So far so good.

Unfortunately it was dressage day. There was a display of carriage riding at 1930 hrs but we weren't going to hang around that long. The thing about dressage is that I think they are very good and have incredible control but, let's be honest, it isn't a spectator sport. "A" would agree, having being looking forward to seeing the horses, it didn't really hold her attention. However by the time we started thinking that we needed to find something else it was mid-afternoon. Obviously it had to be something fairly near. Then I had a brainwave.

On the way to the college we had gone passed a brown sign pointing towards a "Bee Shelter". That sounded fun. See loads of bee hives. Learn a bit about keeping bees. I imagined a bee version of St. Tiggywinkles.

Maybe a bit of research would have been a good idea. The "Bee Shelter" is simply a stone structure for holding bee skeps. It sits in the grounds of Hartpury church. Very pretty but maybe not a 5 year olds idea of a good day out.

B.....y Computers

Nuff said

Friday, July 13, 2007


Trying to see
That moment
When dreams
Become reality
To stop it
Hold it
Never let it slip
And float

Here, There and Everywhere

I am, of course, not a proud parent. I am not going to bore you with stories of my daughters exploits. Oh, by the way, she received a certificate of merit today. For 100% attendance throughout the academic year. Only two children in her class got one.

Heads Up

There are some very weird blogs. Why would anyone want to be able to recognise Dutch helmets

Whizz Bang

It is good to see that in Canada at least the airport security are going to allow a level of discretion when deciding if a comment presents and suggests a serious threat. However I am reminded of going through Heathrow last year. Obviously security is high. Everything is very intense. I was on my way to a conference in Oslo. At this conference I am presenting a scientific poster. The poster needs to be displayed so I decide to carry it rather than risk losing it in the hold. So me, holding long cardboard tube, approaching the x-ray machine. Long queue, we have been there for 30 minutes or so. All getting tired. Just want to get through. Security guy takes one look at me and says "is that a surface to air missile in there?".

Thursday, July 12, 2007

I'll Stick Please

It seems that you have better odds playing poker than you do tendering to be the site for the first super-casino. After councils had spent time and money (around £150k each) putting together a proposal, and after Manchester were awarded the tender, it appears that a U-turn is ripping it out from under them. It is one thing to lose money when you are bidding for something that exists, but when you find it was never a possibility then you might have a sour taste in your mouth. I would even think there might be a legal case for misrepresentation (although I will bow to the superior knowledge of the lawyers out there). It seems a bigger version of the TV phone-in scandal to me.

Oceans 14 - George Clooney against Brown - "It's all in the trust"

Where Is It

Have you noticed how we trust pilots to fly us half way around the world but they can't even find the arrival gate? I mean, once they land it takes them at least 10 minutes to taxi there. You'd think that they would land a bit closer wouldn't you?


No blog yesterday as the computer was really struggling. Not sure if it was a virus or Vista. Any help appreciated. The computer seems to lock up and nothing will work. Ctrl-alt-del doesn't bring up the Vista equivalent of the task manager. Instead after 30-60 second the screen goes black and then, after another 30 seconds or so, an error box comes up, headed "Logon process has failed to create the security options dialog" and containing the message "Failure - security options". Clicking on the "OK" button does nothing and the only option is to turn the computer off at the mains.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Blissful(ly Unaware)

OK, the words "straws" and "clutching at" come to mind. £20 a week for being married. If that is all it takes to keep you together then (a) you don't deserve it and (b) you shouldn't be together. Stupid. I heard one married mother being interviewed talking about how everyone else gets something so why shouldn't she. That's not the b....y point. We don't all deserve hand outs from the government. We aren't all entitled. It b....y well infuriates me. The conservatives could be trying to do something good, trying to raise everyone up to a higher standard (remember, I believe the labour aim is to brng us all down to the gutter so at least they can say we are equal) but instead they get themselves all wrapped up in a stupid stupid stupid policy. (are you getting the sense that I may be a wee bit aggravated).
Mind you, this couple will probably need more than twenty quid.


While hating to come over all proud, I have to continue the theme. Yes there were 65 areas of work for the teacher to grade. But in addition there are another 13 as part of scale point scores. I didn't tell you "A"s scores because I wasn't exactly sure what they meant. But now I can tell you that she scored 8 in every one. That's a good 8 out of a maximum of 9. Yes 9. Wow, she's good!

Monday, July 09, 2007

Please No

She might write more. After promising to stop at seven she is threatening to come back with further Potter stories. Possibly uite perceptive of her to say that she might return to him in ten years. That's when she realises that she can't find another winning formula. Am I being harsh? Ignoring the fact that the stories have got longer and longer (it would only take another two and she would be challenging War and Peace), do we have to be put through more. They are not good literature. They aren't well written. I would look this bored if I was having to write about the little twerp. It is time to let go. Please, whatever you do, don't sign the petition.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Under The Stars

We went and bought a new tent today. For the last few years I have been a wimp and hired a caravan for Greenbelt. This year I am going to go tough again (OK, so by the time I got around to phoning they had hired out all their caravans, but that's not the point). Saturday workers have to make you smile don't they. Or you would cry. He tried to describe the taped seams as "tapped seams". Fire retardant as "well, it doesn't stop fire" (as someone who watched a tent go up when the owners tried to put out a candle with a glass of vodka this particularly amused me). The lighting system (yes, a tent with a lighting system) as "the lights are good because they, well, give you light". The guy ropes as "the stringy bits" which, once I had explained to him he then insisted on calling "guide ropes" (an image of loads of girl guides holding tents down definitely raising the quality of my day).

Class Model

On the plus side, I have to do the proud father thing and let you know about "A"s first school report. "A is a cheerful, bubbly and helpful member of class". "A is always enthusiastic about everything she does". "A loves sharing her news with the rest of her class". "A has been an absolute delight to teach".

Then she got 21 "exceeds expectations" and 44 "meets expectations", with no "below expectations".

As she is one of the youngest in the class I reckon that's fairly good. No, I reckon that's wonderful. Yes, I admit to being biased. She is so proud of her report though. She keeps asking us to read it to her again.

As someone who almost always got "could do better" I can relate to a good report. Very proud.


I seem to have spent a large proportion of the day fighting with the computer. It appears that overnight I picked up a virus. I have been running the virus checker, deleting viruses (? viri) and using system restore. With only vague success. Frsustrated, and wondering what the g..s who write these things get out of it.

Saturday, July 07, 2007


Before going to see Cats I had a haircut. Talking to the hairdresser I mentioned where I was going. She said she had "only been to the theatre once as she had never had a cultured boyfriend". A comment I could have understood more if I was going to an opera or Shakespear. I am not convinced that the theatre is cultured per se. There is some fairly bad stuff available at the theatre if you pick badly. It revealed a perception that I hadn't really thought people may have (and I know my leftie friends {you know who you are} are now going to be cheering, saying "told you so" etc).


We've been to see Cats this afternoon. "J" and I saw it years ago and we thought "A" might enjoy it. It is long, over two and a half hours, but even so "A" loved it. She watched spell-bound. At one point she turned to us, and remember this is someone who has recently had to do three dances for shows, and said "they have been practising a lot"! Good to know she appreciates hard work and effort.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Poor Charlie

No, not Prince but Kennedy. He is a martyr to his addictions. This time smoking has caught up with him.

Charles Kennedy had voted in favour of the smoking ban. That, however, does not mean that he is able to abide by it. Only days after the smoking ban is imposed he has been caught out. It appears that he thought smoking out of the window of a speeding train was not breaking the law. Some kind policemen had a word with him at the end of the journey to dissuade him of his mistaken opinion.

Clamp Down

there are currently proposals to extend the legal rights of staff at secure training centres (a politically correct way of saying Borstals) to use force in order to restrain children. It seems the response to an inquest questioning how much restraint is being used is to increase the amount that is legally allowed. What raises an eyebrow is the terminolog used. The aim is to grant powers to use more "distraction techniques". By the term distraction they mean sticking your fingers in someones eyes or up their nostrils. Yep, think that might distract me.

2B Or Not 2B

Today beekeepers and experts met together in order to discuss the shortfall in funding for bee research in the face of new threats to Britain's bee population. Apparently DEFRA are only putting £200k a year into research. And let's be honest, for £200k you could be struggling to buy a house. It really is nothing. Bees are important, ignoring the pain they can inflict and the fact that they try to get into your jam sandwiches, they are essential for keeping our flora flourishing and for helping crops. The veroa mite may not seem as big as the spread of TB, but we would be a lot worse off for no bees.
But bees are also being taught how to sniff out bombs. Just think how that would have been for the guy at Glasgow. First he sets himself alight. Then he falls oout of the car. He proceeds to be given a Glasgow kiss by a baggage handler. Finally he gets attacked by a swarm of bees. Now that really wouldn't have been his day.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Youthful Looks!

Someone at international that I met for the first time today said he was surprised how young I was. I am still trying to work out whether this means I have a remarkably mature and insightful head on my shoulders, or that I am remarkably bolshie for my age.

{and those of you who consider yourselves my friends and who are tempted to add your comments, please remember that I am a delicate beast and easily wounded}

Wednesday, July 04, 2007


There used to be a rule about visiting international head office. If you were booked in to hotel a you were OK, but if you were booked in to hotel b then you were about to bid adieu to your job. Things have moved on from those days and we can now chose our own hotel. And I usually chose hotel b. It is more amusing. It is a dutch Fawlty Towers. I turned up once and there was a fire engine in the car park. The firemen had brought it around because they wanted to clean it! Service is hit and miss. They often forget to charge for things (and I do tell them, honest). And there is always an air of chaos. And the owner has the perfect qualities of Basil about him.

Well, no more. Amusing it might be but I was booked in tonight. My plane was delayed so I turned up late. By late I mean 2105 hrs. And they wouldn't cook me dinner. The best they could manage was a sandwich. After a long day that did not go down well. Hotel a for me from now on.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Honest Guv

Michael Grade wants to adopt a "zero tolerance" policy. He won't accept any film company trying to mislead the public. They need to win back our "trust". It's an interesting line because, after all, TV is entertainment. And should we ever trust entertainers. The reason they are there is to suspend belief and transfer us to another world.

I listened to his interview on Radio 4 this morning. he was talking about how it was wrong for "reality" shows and interviews to use actors. But the "plant" has been in common use for magicians, theatres, comedians, andgenerally all types of entertainment since the concept was first founded.

TV should be about suspending belief, that's what it is there for.

Monday, July 02, 2007


glumbert.com - Literacy is cute

Terrorists 1 Me 0

I don't like other people dictating how I live my life. I normally fight against it, to the level of doing things in spite of other actions. But this time the terrorists won. I was supposed to fly to Brussels today, in fact I even got as far as a hotel at Hathrow last night. However I was acutely aware of a meeting that I ahve to attend later this week. And I have been stuck on mainland Europe before thanks to terrorist activity. I really couldn't afford to get stuck again. So I drove back this morning and cancelled my meetings in Brussels. On the plus side I had plenty to be getting on with, it wasn't as though I spent the day twiddling my fingers. On the minus side, this time they won.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

No Smoking

So it is here. No more smoking in public places. I have spotted a few people standing in the rain but I am afraid I can't feel sorry for them. Immediate benefits of the new law are experienced in that one of our favourite restaurants did allow smoking because its owner smoked. And that was the one cloud on its horizon. Well, we went there for brunch today and enjoyed a smoke free atmosphere. Great.

Up We Go

Ikea-Man strikes again. Up to Nottingham (MK doesn't have what we want) and find a new wardrobe for "A". This is the last bit to completing her bedroom after the great redecoration. Bought the wardrobe, got it home and managed to put it up in 2 hours. Without swearing. And despite help from a certain cat. Scooby might think he is good at DIY but his attempts at measuring leave a lot to be desired (he hasn't grasped the difference between metric and imperial).