Monday, March 31, 2008

Spotty

It's been a bad week for photography. For a number of reasons hadn't picked up the camera in the last 7 days. And haven't had time to play on Photoshop either. Glad to say that today I did manage to get some photos. But as they were of cows with ringworm I will take a wild guess that you would prefer not to see them.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

FUN TIPS TO A BETTER LIFE*

Don't suffer from insanity, enjoy every minute of it

If your ship hasn't come in yet, swim out to meet it

Life is too complicated in the morning

Why be difficult when, with just a little more effort you can be impossible

Torches are just cases for flat batteries

Everyone has a photographic memory, most just don't have any film

The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese

Don't steal, the government hates the competition

Diplomacy is the art of letting other people get in your way

If you don't like the news, go out and make some

Hard work has a future payoff, laziness pays off right now

If everything is coming your way, then you're in the wrong lane

You are only young once, but you can be immature forever

Nothing is fool-proof for a sufficiently talented fool

When in danger or doubt, run around in circles, scream and shout

You have the right to remain silent, anything you do say will be misquoted and used against you

Friday, March 28, 2008

Buzz Buzz

Charlotte Green loses her usual calm after the oldest known recording of a human voice is described in her ear as a bee in a jar.

Buried Alive

I was watching the news last night about Terminal 5. The presenter was trying to highlight how many people had been affected and was describing those she had met - "I've met someone who was trying to get to a wedding, someone delayed from a party, and one man late for his funeral".

Now, I would suggest I might be glad to be late for my funeral!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Oil Slick

I've been away for the last few days at a sales conference. These are always quite draining so the idea of getting home for a quiet night is a good one. Getting home to find a cat that seems to have taken a bath in an oil slick is not quite such a good idea. Strangely the oily footsteps only seem to be on the stairs, as if the cat were dropped into the house at the top of the stairs and then airlifted out again when he reached the bottom. But his legs and undercarriage are black. Now less black because we rubbed him down in Swarfega and then washed him but, even so, he still smells oily. Every other step he stops and shakes his legs. Not a happy cat.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Delirium - Cirque du Soleil



It was last minute. Very last minute. Two days ago I found that Cirque were showing "Delirium" in Birmingham. And there were some tickets still available. OK, so we saw a Cirque show only two months ago, but I love them, and it just had to be a good thing to do.

Wow. Yes, again I say, Wow.

So you do have to get your head around the fact that this is not a normal Cirque show (there's such a thing as a NORMAL cirque show I hear you ask). The music comes foremost in Delirium, it is really a music piece rather than circus. But there is so much going on. We were sitting further back than usual and, for this show, that was a good thing. Either side of he stage there are huge screens and they form part of it. A lot of visual imagery with film adding to it all. The difficulty, as always, is that there is so much going on that there is no way you can take it all in. Watch the videos playing on the screens and you miss the performers, watch the performers and you miss the videos.

The music is fantastic. They have taken their favourite tracks from all the shows, remixed them and made the show around them. Very upbeat, loads of energy.

There are still one or two tickets for this at the O2 dome. Go.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Egghead

The weather today has taken "changeable" to extremes. Sun, rain, hail and snow, sometimes all within two minutes of each other. It seemed a pity to spend the day indoors however so we went down to Stowe for their Easter Egg hunt. I remember last year that it was lovely and hot. Not today. In fact there was a stage on the route where we could decide on whether to continue for the long walk or head back. OK, I am not too proud to deny it, we wimped out and turned for home. The hail was whipping around our faces at the time so it seemed a reasonable decision. By the time we got to the finish line I was saying it was a pity we hadn't gone for the long walk and I was unzipping my coat because I was too warm. It didn't take long before I changed my mind and was glad that we could collect our egg and pile back into the car.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Third Test - Napier

Lunch on the first day of the third test. England did well in the second so you would expect them to be feeling positive. But they go in with the score at 58-4. Which sounds bad enough. But then you realise that at one point they were 4-3, and that is no typo. Crumbling.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Flashing Stars



I don't really understand celebrities. By which I mean I don't manage to recognise them. So the throng in Leicester Square must have been interested in someone special. I just about managed to recognise someone called Kevin (but then never sure if it is Costner, Spacey, Bacon, Kline)

But no idea who the next one was.

I understand if I had waited longer then I would have seen Gwyneth Paltrow (but wouldn't want to get my camera wet).

And yet later realised that I actually walked right passed Richard E Grant (by right passed, I mean in the street, walking along, not from a crowd), but didn't get a photo because I didn't really think it was him.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Me and 76000 Others

It was a record attendance at the Millenium stadium. By the start of the match you couldn't spot an empty seat anywhere. Just to our right were a whole load of France supporters and, it being rugby rather than football, everything was good natured and friendly. Sitting there waiting as the stadium filled up you could feel the tension mounting. France had elected to have the roof closed (visitors get to chose), it must have been a tough decision, open and raining or closed and volume of noise. They went for closed and may have regretted it, I should think they felt trapped.



The match was incredible. The first 25 minutes Wales dominated but then the French started to come back. The Welsh defence was solid. One of the reasons can be seen in the photo below, France overcommiting into the rucks and mauls, Wales happy to wait, not scared to let France have the ball because they were confident that their defence was not going to be broken and knowing that France would make a mistake and then Wales could capitalise. It must have been a frustrating time for the French. And then, in the dying moments of the first half Gavin Henson was yellow carded, in to the sin bin for 10 minutes. Fair decision by the ref, it was a high tackle.


So the second half starts with Wales down to 14 men. The defence still holds. They keep pinning France back into their own half. No opportunities for France to break loose. France only get 3 points despite their advantage. The tension is now getting unbearable. The noise deafening. Welsh voices shouting, singing, screaming. It's 9-9, effectively after so long we are back to an equal footing points-wise between the teams. But France are bereft of ideas. They are getting slower and slower. When they have the ball in the maul they aren't cycling it quickly, they don't know where to go, the scrum half and fly half are standing discussing what they can do. And the red line remains strong. When Wales get the ball it is fast, moving through the line, Shane Williams is hopping from foot to foot, blistering speed with the ball and chasing it. Martyn Williams working overtime. Gavin Henson always there, always in the thick of it. Everything says Wales have it in them. They have the initiative, the ideas. Looking for that moment. And finally it comes. Shane Williams scores, from a French mistake he is able to hack on, chase the ball, a kind bounce takes it over the line and Williams is on it in front of two frenchmen. Martyn Williams scores the other try to seal it for Wales and to get man of the match, and to think he had retired before being brought back by Gatland.


The celebrations were unbelievable. Everywhere you looked there were beaming faces. This made up for a diabolical World Cup. And possibly is the beginning of a great future, after all, Gatland says he has a five year plan and this is what he has managed to do in 5 months. Wales scored 13 tries in the Six Nations matches, they only conceded two (the least ever since Italy joined the group). Yes they made mistakes. Yes they can improve. But they deserved this.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Grand Slam

Yipee-aye-yay

Getting Ready

Excited. Very excited. Getting ready to head over to Cardiff for the Wales vs France match. The big decider.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Chicken Licken

Life is just full of dilemmas isn't it. For instance, what do I do when I have been preparing dinner, a chicken curry, which I will cook when "J" gets in. And I go out of the kitchen for 10 minutes. When I come back one of the cats has some of the chicken on the floor. So do I keep quiet and use the rest of the chicken that he may have dribbled over, or do I throw it all away and get a take away? You have 65 minutes to give me an answer!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

So Long and Thanks For All The Fish

A lovely and simple story of a dolphin managing when men had failed.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Drop Kicked

I have never been a fan of Jonny Wilkinson. That might be because the team I support has been on the wrong end of his boot. But I believe it is more because he is little more than a boot, although a very effective one. But I think dropping him, and only him, from the team is unfair. Certainly he made mistakes against Scotland. At times he was aimless. However, look around, there was no support. The rest of the team were lost on the pitch and didn't know where to go. Maybe Jonny is tired of covering for them, holding them together. He was really the reason they managed to get to the finals of the world cup (not that they deserved it), and the rest of the team acknowledged that fact. And he is some sure fire points on the board. Whoever is kicking against Ireland is going to be under some major pressure.

I am pleased to see that Gatland hasn't dropped Philips or Williams for the start against France despite their being sin binned. They have both played well this season. Yes Wales need to tighten the discipline, but these two players will be key.

Blood From A Stone

Handy isn't it. Blame the banks. Any raise in taxes is their fault. The Chancellor is forced to do it. Couldn't be anything to do with the way Labour have run the economy could it. It couldn't be their mismanagement that lead to this. Oh no Frank. Blame the banks.

Monday, March 10, 2008

L'Amoure

So you spend 12 days on an island off Mexico. On someone elses credit card. They surround you with beautiful people. They give you your 15 minutes (or more) of fame. And then you sue them for all they've got. No justice is there? Three of the contestants on the French Temptation Island have been awarded £20000 each for being made to work. They expected a holiday and instead had to get up in the morning and be filmed. They didn't actually have to do anything, everything (and in some cases really everything) was laid on for them (or simply laid on them), and they knew the show premise before they started. But the television company have been successfully sued and have to pay the contestants as film workers.

But, on the plus side, maybe this will be the end of reality TV.

More Lost Marbles


I get a request, I oblige. Although I prefer the first one.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Supporters Start Young

"A" was very worried when Ireland nearly scored (and anyone still in doubt, no it wasn't a try)

Blossoms


Saturday, March 08, 2008

Wales March On

I was doubtful about today. I thought Ireland have been improving. They have a lot to prove. But somehow Wales won another match. In many ways they made it harder than it should have been, ill discipline leading to two players sin binned. I think those were both harsh calls by the ref, especially as he later let an Irish player slam Jones in the back, and they could have been decisive. Wales held it together, didn't buckle, and managed a win. So next week is a Grand Slam match against France. And we have tickets.

And English readers are probably hoping I don't mention the other game. Scotland, who have been in the doldrums for a while, managed to pull off a win against England. A poor and unexciting match, with a shock result.

{For those not folowing sport, the above is in reference to rugby and the 6 Nations Tournament}

Lost Your Marbles?


Friday, March 07, 2008

Clickless

A while ago I posted that I hoped to have a photo every day on the blog. I have not forgotten. But work keeps getting in the way! All the more frustrating when I find myself somewhere nice but without time. This morning we had a meeting at Castle Combe. I drove into the hotel ground, faced with a stream going through a bridge and wonderful sunshine creating fantastic reflections. But I had to get in to the meeting. By the time it was over so was the good light. No lovely reflections. Dull light, uninspiring. I missed some beautiful shots.

They Stood And Were Counted

If the stories of abuse of those in uniform are true then the people of Peterborough should be ashamed. I am a bit sceptical because the press are good at getting it wrong. But I can understand that people feel strongly against the war. I still believe that it was wrong to go to war, and all a result of two power thirsty men who had mistakenly ended up in control. However, wrong or not, the men in uniform are not the ones to blame. They put themselves on the line because it is what they signed up for. They obey because it is expected, they act with honour. Let us all remember the phrase "don't shoot the messenger".

Thursday, March 06, 2008

It's All Greek To Me


Moral Food

I got my lunch from Subway today. On the board it informed me they used reformed meat. Reformed? I wonder what it was doing wrong before?

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Cracked It

I think that this reinforces my position on Amy et al . We ignore or play down drug taking by celebrities at our peril. We send out a message that if you are rich famous then it is OK to take drugs. And as young people aspire to be rich or famous then obviously it must be OK for them as well.

And in case you don't want to read the whole article, these are the highlights:

* Heroin use the highest in western Europe.
* Fourth highest use of methadone (heroin substitute) in the world.
* Abuse of crack cocaine "continues to be marginal in all countries in Western Europe, with the possible exception of the UK".
* Second highest level of cocaine abuse in western Europe after Spain.
* Cannabis use dropping, but concern over growing consumption of "skunk".

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Love Love Me Do

The phone saga previously reported menat that I had to change my mobile number. I sent a text to everyone telling them that the one number was due to expire and gave them a new number. The next day I got a text from someone informing me they were just checking that they ad saved my number. I am not sure why sending a text was necessary but if it works for them fine. But my work phone, the one they texted to, doesn't have all the names in. So I couldn't tell who it was from. And this concerned me because at the end of the message there were three kisses. I was finally relieved to find that it was from a female.

Thomas the Tank

There is no question that Network Rail had a bad start to the year. So it shouldn't be too much of a surprise that they have been fined a record £14 mill. But I had missed that at the same time as they were having their wrist slapped, their boss was being knighted. I sometimes wonder what the role of chairman is in some of these companies. You would think that the man at the top should be the one who is ultimately responsible. But it doesn't seem that way. Somehow these CEOs can come out smelling of roses even when everything else is collapsing. I believe the directors of Northern Rock have done rather well as well.

Strangely enough the office of Rail Regulation doesn't get the same shortening as many other public services. But "OffRail" may not give quite the right impression.

Monday, March 03, 2008

What Big Teeth You've Got

Wow, bit of a rush there. I just watched Van Helsing. It has been on my list of "to watch" for quite a while. I simply had this gut feeling I would enjoy it. And boy was I right. Excellent film. The right mix of action, speed, and pure quirkiness. Loved it.

Roof


Sunday, March 02, 2008

Strumming Along


So I am now the proud owner of a new acoustic guitar. This may surprise some (or even all) of you. Explanation coming. At the charity ball we have an auction, the aim being to raise as much money as possible. The first item up last night was a guitar. And people hadn't really got into the idea that they needed to bid. So I started it going, and kept it going, until suddenly no-one else bid again and I found that I was the "lucky" winner. All in a good cause anyway, and certain Greenbelt friends should now start worrying that they will be subjected to my attempts to learn at the next ops meeting.
{the auctioneer is my father, another good reason for me making sure that the auction got rolling, I'd have been in trouble otherwise}

Fairbridge Cymru


As the Master of the Lodge this year, it was my chance to chose which charity we would be raising money for. I chose Fairbridge Cymru. Fairbridge do a wonderful job working with some of the most disengaged young people in Wales. And they have a fantastic success record. 92% of young people working with Fairbridge will go on to education, training or employment.

At a time when we believe that we are a modern and caring society it is truly shocking that children still leave school unable to read or write. This is not the teachers fault, but a system that lets young people down and doesn't care for them. Fairbrige work hard to give these young people a sense of worth and of value, to give them a light for the future.
I have great admiration for those working at Fairbridge, including Nic and Rebecca in the photo who came to the ball. I was pleased to be able to talk to them and learn more about what they do. It is a charity with a low profile. I hope they get noticed more because it is incredibly important work that they do.

Waiting For Godot


Last night was our annual charity ball. Slight change of location this year and we went to the St Mellons Country Club near Cardiff. We invited some friends from Northampton and arranged to meet in the bar at 1930 hrs (the tickets were 1930 for 2000 hrs). As we do, we met them on the dot. no-one else around but, in my expecrience most people are a bit late anyway. So we ordered some drinks and had a chat. Time passed. Still no-one. Mild panic that we ahd the wrong day. But I had spoken to my parents earlier so it must be right. 1950 hrs and still no-one. Mild panic advancing to serious concern. By 1955 hrs I was wondering what had gone wrong. I went for a wander and then found that everyone else had come in by another door and there was a very busy reception party going on which we had been completely unaware of!

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Hanging On The Telephone

Life often has little adjuncts. T-Mobile told me they hadn't started the process of ordering my unlock code and that it takes 28 days. As my account with them expired I had to find a way around this. And having done so, this morning I get another email from them saying that, in fact, it had been ordered. And, sure enough, one arrives in the post. Which I suppose means that they aren't inefficient, simply incompetant.