30 November, 2006

Reduced Salt Pot Noodle - review

Reduced salt chicken and mushroom pot noodle
Sorry for not posting the last couple of days, picked up a really nasty bug, throat has been feeling like I swallowed a bag of broken glass... :(

Having to eat slimy food as a result, and having exhausted all other options I reluctantly peeled back the lid on this "33% less salt" Chicken and Mushroom Pot Noodle (a slightly worse version of that "food" one normally reserves for camping emergencies)...

I might as well have prepared myself a lovely bowl of shredded cardboard in warm water.

Almost a teaspoon of added salt later it sort of half tasted like the normal one...but going through that process has demonstrated precisely how much salt really is in these blooming things (for perspective I wouldn't use that much salt in the production of a roast dinner for four)...so sort of lose/lose for Unilever really, as I'm not sure I'm going to be able to bring myself to eat either kind ever again now...

27 November, 2006

Parking suspension, Balfe Street

Balfe Street, parking suspension
Spotted this morning (so that worked really well then! The road is still absolutely packed with parked cars... ;)

As well as all the parked cars there were also lots of "Bill Stickers" down there being angry with gesticulating members of the public clutching their valid parking tickets...quite funny to watch, they really should have turned off the ticket machine, or covered it up (or something...! ;)

25 November, 2006

VW Camper Christmas lights!

Not quite time to roll them out yet, it not even being December, but Flyingpops had a little parcel waiting by the front door when we got back from (almost) finishing our Christmas shopping today, here they are in the glove box -
VW Camper Christmas Lights ;)
- they plug into the cigarette lighter (luckily we have three in there!)...and found a couple of little friends for Colin -
Campers in the camper... ;)
- to live in his dashboard tidy... ;)

Update - Better shots of the Camper van lights in action here...

Shopping this morning was in East Croydon, took (rare) advantage of having a gold travel card to get up there for "free" (sorry for the mixture of nice shots and cameraphone shots but I didn't want to take my nice camera, predicting too much to carry without having that to worry about) -
Tram in Croydon
- too see where the only trams in London still run (feels a bit like being in Amsterdam, but less cool, obviously) -
Endless Shoes... 8(
- looked at literally *endless* shoes to try and find some suitable for Flyingpops' bridesmaids outfit (for early next year)...thousands of the bloody things, but absolutely none of them were "right" (*muffled cry of insanity*) and ironically when we got to Tesco later on she spotted the best of the day (still didn't buy them though, so the mission continues)...
Centrale in East Croydon
...anyway, we had a look at all the decorations, bought bagfuls of gifts (hurrah! 95% now complete before December even started, a record!), walked until my knee absolutely couldn't have taken *any* more shops...(and I do now solemnly swear, if I am ever independently wealthy, you will *never* catch me shopping like that...I'll have someone else do it for me... ;)

So, thanks to that one super busy day we now get Sunday off...(and take Colin for a spin somewhere I expect... ;)

24 November, 2006

Cllr. Alison Berridge - Whitebushes

How caring? Just look at her home page, there's nothing there...! If you Google "Whitebushes" you see rather a lot more of me than things our local conservative representative have done around here...surely that is just a little wrong...(not that the other parties are terribly prominent either though, admittedly)...Hrm...

Thus, I suggest all politicians start a public blog, just one post per week, any tiny thing they have achieved for the local community...that would be nice...eh? (and Blogger is free)... ;)

BBC Comment Censorship

Oh this is awesome, these guys have built a sniffer that logs every comment submitted to a BBC website article that the BBC choose NOT to publish, it then ranks articles by how many comments have been censored, and even allows people to flag up "recommended" censored comments, and yes, you can read every single one! Enjoy! ;)

23 November, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving North America ;)

(obviously not my pic btw, not being in America atm)
Just don't forget what you are giving thanks for...(i.e. being taught how to live off the land by the innocent, generous natives, who then became rather inconvenient to the invaders expansion plans and ended up being hunted down, put into camps, having their lands seized etc)...still, the descendants of the ones that survived got their casinos in the end I suppose... ;)

Invasion is a fact of life though, just look at England - we are more Viking/French than we would like to admit after the number of times the Saxons were overrun (just reading up about how King Harlod came to the throne at the moment in my book -Tony Robinson's, "In Search of British Heroes", talk about a chaotic period in British history)...

And quite what Ronald McDonald is up to here I really can't imagine, but he's giving thanks in his own special way -

(this was yesterday in NYC, not my pic either)

Extraordinary dream...how to time travel?

...(back to last friday night, knee still very painful), finally fell asleep at 2255hrs, after reading the "River Cottage Cookbook" lamb section for about half an hour, Flyingpops had started snoring, so I just gave up and turned the bedside light off...I'd gone for the knee/pain model which had helped most on Thursday night (i.e not brilliant) - putting a cushion underneath my left leg, and laying straight, i.e dracula coffin-style but with one foot up in the air...(which hadn't worked)...

This time (because I was already awake, rather than being unkindly thrown into that state by sparks through my sleeping mind in agony and confusion) I knew why...I formed a new position to keep my painful knee quite clear of my darling bedfellow... ;)

Once sleep did come, I think I can safely say that what hit me was a quasi-lucid dream, it was absolutely clear, and I think it was the shock of it that woke me up again (well, either that or I got another whack in the leg) but it felt like something out of LOST, my mind came slowly into tune (like adjusting the tuning on a radio) from random thought into (again what felt like, and worked for my memory like) complete conciousness (which it definitely was not, as you will read)...

"Fink...Fink, come ON, are you there?" (I was like "Mmmmm, Nnnnn, wotever...tired...")
"No, come ON, this is really important, come on, wake up right now!!" ("Mmmm..Neh?")
"Listen, I'm talking to you from a different part of time, and yes, I know this sounds like madness" ("Nnnn..."...Frown..."A different part of time?", "What on earth are you on about?" blinking my eyes open...)

I then abruptly found myself standing in Priory Park (near Woodhatch in Surrey), not that I *could* have been standing *anyway* (let alone in Priory Park), thanks to my physical injury, but that didn't seem to worry my metaphysical body, nor did the fact that it seemed to be daytime either...

"Fink, it's vitally important that you listen to me. You will remember this dream for one simple reason, it isn't a dream, this is real".

(What the hell kind of a dream does that to you? Even when I did wake up I was freaked out)...

"Fink, just wait a minute" (I was suspiciously looking around the forest, trying to locate the source of the disembodied voice) "Mankind has made a major mistake in their conclusions about space/time", "Time moves as a vortex, it isn't a straight line", "This is how I am contacting you, there are holes in quantum reality which focus around certain moments, but mankind has misinterpreted them. There are moments when things seem a bit strange, as the French would say, like "Deja Vu", these moments clue us in to those channels, human-kind has ignored these signs"...

"The minute you get that feeling, then, you know, you are at the centre of a sphere that has become thrown from the vortex. The thing you need to know is that these time spheres are only small, maybe 150 yards across in space...all you have to do is find the object within that sphere that means something to you, the thing that triggered the feeling. Something, anything that ties you to that little bit of space/time, then just move it outside the sphere"...

"Why?", "What...? I don't think I understand?"...

"That's the only way you can step outside of time, move the object out of the sphere, step back in, then you are free to use it, it's no longer tied down..." then, with what felt like a bump, I was wide awake in bed...!

Can I have a nice falling dream or something next time...?

(And no, I hadn't watched the last couple of episodes of season 10 of South Park before having the dream either, which freaked me out further)!

22 November, 2006

Doubleclick Customer Forum - Millennium Hotel

So, week just gone, I felt just about well enough to head into London (spurred on by the fact that I really didn't want to miss this forum, as they are always extremely valuable), so it was just my luck, that we had not only *another* bus strike, but the tube was in absolute chaos (three lines suspended) too!

It was only at the Millennium Hotel in Grovesnor Square, so under normal circumstances I probably would have just walked, but thanks to the problems with my leg, my only real option left was to get a cab. When I hobbled off the slippery Victoria station concourse and out to the taxi rank, my heart sank when I saw that rather a lot of other people had been thinking along similar lines, in fact, the end of the queue was out of sight somewhere down Wilton road, the cabs weren't coming quickly either, in the 90 seconds I spent pondering my next move only one cab came onto the rank.

This was never going to work, I had to get away from the chaos of Victoria and try to hail one elsewhere...So, to the buses, unfortunately the three different TFL HVJ wearers attempting to direct the desperate angry mob all gave me a different answer as to which bus to catch to get me nearby, so in the end I just got on the 73 because I knew it went past Green Park tube, which isn't a million miles away from Grovesnor Square...the bus was packed, I didn't get a seat, I was in pain with my leg, and when I finally managed to get off again I realised I had come too far, being miles up Oxford Street. A great silver lining though, my plan had worked, no more than 2 minutes of hobbling and a cab went past with his light on, hehe...a further 2 minutes and £4.40 later the cab door was being opened by a top hatted doorman, my rucksack and stick were lifted from my hands and I was helped to my feet to a gruff but friendly East end "'ello Sir, alright then?"...

I got to my seat (in the end)...(aaaaaand relax!) phew...won't bore you with the details of the forum, but it was excellent, some really exciting stuff coming up (and I got a free pen)... ;)

At lunchtime we were released, oddly I seemed to manage to be one of the first people to get organised and follow the instructions for how to get to lunch with one other fellow, we "Just cross over by reception, it's the door right opposite"'d and were stunned to see this wonderful sign by the doorway, could it really be true? Doubleclick feeding us in the Brian Turner Mayfair? I checked the one other door in the area and it turned out to be the "Brian Turner Bar", which would have been equally good... ;)
Millennium Hotel - Brian Turner Mayfair
But the total confusion on the face of the Maitre'D lead us rather rapidly to the conclusion that it was not to be... :( One of the Doubleclick folk came and scooped us up, kicking and screaming and dragged us into a little meeting room by the back door, where they were serving up a crazy concoction of chewy boeuf bourguignon, cold pilau rice with red onion and some sort of Petit Pois spicy Dhal...a quite extraordinary combination...
Our *actual* lunch... :(
As if to rub our noses in it, my companion even pointed over my shoulder and said "there he is", I turned to look behind me and there he was indeed...Mr Turner, in his whites, walking past the door, so he was even personally cooking in his kitchen...bah... ;(

21 November, 2006

UCLA Police - America's finest caught on video

Someone kindly posted this video (recorded on a mobile phone) of the events that unfolded as a student who had forgotten his ID card was asked to leave the library in the Powell Building at the University of California, Los Angeles...

Why would this be of interest, I hear you ask? I, too, would have imagined it would probably have been either "Well, you'd better go fetch it then!" or "Well, I know your face, don't forget next time, that's all I'm sayin'" (depending on how the officer was feeling at the time)...what actually happened simply defies belief...

We hereby redefine "disproportionate force"...

20 November, 2006

A T25 of our very own... ;)

Well, Colin the camper arrived on Sunday, we went out for a little drive, that ended up with him taking us to my Folks where we unexpectedly scored dinner...(sorry I seem to be going through a black and white phase at the moment)...
...got a bit of video here which lets you sample the wonderful engine note, unique to this kind of vehicle.... ;)
Bus badge macro B&W

19 November, 2006

Sunrise on a frosty morning in Surrey (in pictures)

(I can, at least, shoot from the back window, it's only two steps)...Into the early morning mist -
Sunrise into the mist...
- then as the power of the sun strikes the frost on the fence and shed roof, an amazing display -
Sun striking the frost #3
- as it transforms the ice into vapour -
Sun striking the frost #1
- looks like the fence is on fire, smouldering away... ;)

18 November, 2006

Say hello to Colin the Camper... ;)

Bus #4
...whose adoption was confirmed last weekend! Colin is an A Reg T25 (the larger, water cooled petrol engine, he will do 70mph (fully loaded) by all accounts), who was originally a standard Transporter van, but has been lovingly converted into a fully functional (and much happier) camper van bus by Flyingpops' brother...
Bus #2
...who has fitted cupboard space, a folding bed, a fridge, a cooker, curtains and a leasure battery on the inside...
Bus #1
...and also applied some subtle lithographics to the outside, as well as getting the rust sorted (although these T25s don't suffer from rust as much as the slightly older ones as they had extra treatment to the underside when they were manufactured (which turned out to be extremely successful, well done Volkswagen!)...

I'd been saving this bit of news, as today (it's even wonderfully sunny), we were supposed to go and collect him, but as a result of my knee (managed 5 hours sleep last night, so a lot better, but still...), I ain't going nowhere... :(

But, exciting camper-van adventures await! Watch this space!

Update - Forgot to mention he also put in a wood panelled floor! (the kind that people who don't feel the cold used to install instead of carpet in trendy flats five (or so) years ago)...and it looks amazing! :0

Update update - If you were worrying about me getting cold tootsies, it's okay, we can put a rug down... ;)

16 November, 2006

Soft Tissue Damage...

East Surrey Hospital
What on Earth is it with me at the moment...? Only a couple of months on from the broken finger and I'm back in hospital...!

Ironically, it was exactly the same doctor too, he didn't remember me, I thought about it for a second (as he had been a little judgemental last time) and then decided to remind him of our prior acquaintance...he apologised ("I do see rather a lot of patients, you know"), but then suddenly recalled "Oh yes, you were due to go on holiday just as it happened, did you make it?", so I had actually made something of an impression (not that it's important) but anyway... ;)

To cut another NHS story rather shorter than it probably should have been, I have been, poked, prodded, scanned (all as usual) and then sent home, bound with some wonderful experimental German latex tubigrip replacement (which is going to save the NHS millions, apparently) , am taking drugs whose only function seems to be to make me feel sick, been given a poorly photocopied sheet explaining how to put frozen peas on my leg and have been told to take "total rest" for four days - "don't make any journey further than the loo, Mr Angel, then we might get you back into London for next week"...


14 November, 2006

London Bus Strike

It would have been wonderful if *any* of the newspapers I read (on average 4 per day) had mentioned that today, when I got to the number 17 bus stop, there would be 4 people in HVJ's (this is becoming a habit!) politely explaining (while they smoked cigarettes) that the bus drivers union was out on strike (the first time in seven years incidentally). Not all of it, just Metroline, so I could still get to Kings Cross apparently, but as he began to explain the series of changes required my eyes began to glaze over, at which point Flyingpops chipped in with "Or he could just get the tube?", which earned the parrot-like response of "Or you could just get the tube, mate"...

I got the tube...

The Victoria line was suspended too (marvelous), and several of the ticket barriers into both the Jubilee Line and the Northern line were out of action meaning the queues to get down into hell were almost soul destroying...when I had completed the zombie shuffle through I had to stand and wait on Platform 1 for 15 minutes, watching 3 packed trains come, wait for a minute and then go...perhaps disgorging/devouring 2 or 3 people from/into the humid, chaotic tangle to cries of "There isn't any more room!" and "Stop pushing!"...
London Underground #1
When I did finally squeeze onto a train I didn't get a seat until Angel (one stop before Kings Cross) and my Metro got all crumpled up...
London Underground #4
What a wonderful way to start the day...I've managed to get dirty, smelly, sweaty, stressed, and I've achieved all that before the hour of 9am...! Result...!

13 November, 2006

East Croydon Station - Photography forbidden

East Croydon station #2
I was on East Croydon station platform on Friday night, awaiting my connection and thought I would take a few pictures of the trains, not really been there at night with the good camera, walked right up to the end of the platform and took these from a prone position with the camera sat on the floor in front of me...
East Croydon station #1
Twice I was approached, both times by people in HVJ's, the first one, a kindly gentleman, approached from behind asking if I was "alright mate?" because he thought I had keeled over, the second, and you can see her in the photo above came and sternly scolded me because "it ain't allowed after the terror bombings"...she didn't ask me to delete the pictures though, just stop taking them. She explained that "even them train spotters 'ave to ask in writing to the station manager" (before they are allowed to huddle in their anoraks with their weak lemon squash at the end of the platforms) as if for some reason they had more right than me to behave oddly at East Croydon station...hmph... >;(

10 November, 2006

Brass studs in the pavement

Pavement studs...
There are literally hundreds of these things stuck in the pavements all around Kings Cross, they are about the size of an M&M, shiny brass and each one has a little serial number scrawled next to it (this one is somewhat faded)...anyone got any idea what they might be?

Google has come up a little light for me, the only clue being a Surrey county council document about defining boundaries for pavement cafes, but there really aren't that many in Kings Cross, in fact, only 3 places I can think of have any kind of outside seating...so what are they for?

Answers on an IP packet...

09 November, 2006

Temporary Grandstand - St Paul's Church Yard

St Pauls - Temporary Terraces #1
These appeared a few days ago in St Pauls Chruch Yard, just where is takes over from Cannot Street, they are, well, the vast majority are, pointing towards the scaffolding covering the side of the catherdral...
St Pauls - Temporary Terraces #2
...makes me wonder if they are about to do a "big reveal" and take down the covers so we can see the results of the restoration? Wouldn't have thought they would have gone to all that effort just for that reason though...everyone would sort of go, "Ooo, that looks much whiter than before", and then leave...so I wonder what it's all for?

Update - Ah, might be something to do with the "Lord Mayor's show" perhaps... ;)

08 November, 2006

The visible spectrum

Rainbow #1
...brought to you courtesy of the axial tilt (and thus sun close to horizon), the Kings Cross garage pulling down their fence, and the fact that we have thick glass doors that act as a prism...
Rainbow #2
...making a rainbow path of spectral colours every afternoon... ;)

Thanks Renemy for the camera loan... ;)

07 November, 2006

Bus Queue from Hell...!

Huge queue!
Couldn't believe the size of the queue for the number 17 today at London Bridge, was *huge* must have been about 100 people in front of me! If you zoom right in you might be able to pick out the bus stop right up there in the distance... :(
Foggy Windows
Still got a good seat though (oddly), not that the view was up to much once everyone started huffing... ;(

God bless the PSP... ;)

06 November, 2006

Quake 3 Forever - Q3 in a browser!??

Incredbile but true, it's only 1.5Mb (you need to install the latest Shockwave player) but it runs perfectly! Try out Quake 3 in a browser! I found it worked best in Firefox... ;)

05 November, 2006

Brockham Bonfire 2006 - pics and video!

Was forbidden from taking the Mavica (probably wisely, as it can be a bit chaotic at Brockham on these occasions), so took these with Flyingpops' Z1...We drove down to Dorking mainline station and hopped on the bus (£2.50 return), it's a special service put on just for the occasion (X32) on creakingly old London buses which are *always* packed (and late), but it gets there in the end... ;)

Arrived in good time and started the walk up the lane towards Brockham Green (it was a clear night, full moon, and just a little fog coming from the river, perfect for fireworks!)...
Brockham Bonfire 2006 #1
- made it in good time (after making our voluntary £2 donation to fund next year) and worked our way almost to the front of the crowd to watch the guy being hoisted into position (video here), then the torchlit procession arrived -
Brockham Bonfire 2006 #5
- and proceeded to throw their flaming brands into the bottom six feet of the terrifyingly huge pyre (if you want to get an idea of scale, check out my day-time pic from last year!) -
Brockham Bonfire 2006 #7
- it was dry, and cold, so the flames leapt quickly to the top -
Brockham Bonfire 2006 #9
- setting off the thousand odd fire-crackers concealed inside the guy (video here), then, the wind changed direction slightly and (as happens every year) -
Brockham Bonfire 2006 #11
- covering the crowd in burning embers causing a minor panic from the organisers (video here), after everyone was evacuated from the danger zone they began the ten minute countdown to the firework display -
Brockham Bonfire 2006 #13
- which was, (again) as always, *extraordinary* (got a terrible video of some of it, but thankfully a nice pic or two (imho ;)) -
Brockham Bonfire 2006 #15
Brockham Bonfire 2006 #17
Brockham Bonfire 2006 #18
Brockham Bonfire 2006 #19
- then wandered back to the bonfire, for one last look (was too hot to stay close for long though -
Brockham Bonfire 2006 #23
- and then back home (got on a bus right away!)...

Great night... ;) More pictures here, if you are interested... ;)

Shots from 2005 here...

04 November, 2006

Argos Extra Card - Extreme danger!

Frost on the sunroof
Up really early today, the plan being to get as much of our Christmas (gift) shopping done as possible, and it was reasonably successful, I guess we got about a third of the total done (the difficult, fighting around shops bits) went to Crawley and it was really very quiet, quite different to trying to do this kind of thing in December...for example, all the shelves were stocked, none of the gift packaging was damaged...really glad we have got that out of the way, the rest we can hopefully order over the internet (or not get on the high street)... ;)
Argos Extra Card
One of the things we had to buy (a watch) lead us to the jewellery counter in Argos and I was absolutely gobsmacked to see the leaflets I picture above advertising the "Argos Extra Card"...the top bullet point grabbed me for a second, until I understood it's implications (I had initially thought it meant - "Spend £100 and get a free tenner", the clever wording (when thought about for a second) actually offers something rather different...
  • For EVERY £100 card you want, you get an extra £10 ABSOLUTELY FREE.

Check out the table at the bottom (repeated below for your convenience) -

  • Amount of Loan - £100
  • Charge for Credit - £25.00
  • Total Amount Payable - £125.00
  • Weekly Payment - £5.00
  • No of Weeks - 25
- So that works out at a staggering 152.3% APR!

I decided to do a bit of research on these guys (not going to link to their site) and found this press release from the BBC regarding an episode of "Whistleblower" about a company called "Yes Car Credit" (not going to link to them either), who funnily enough are both part of the same firm! That show was revealing the almost criminal interests rate that these arseholes were tricking people into agreeing to at the time (March) of between 177% to 497% APR!

So, not *new* news finding this leaflet, but evidence that the TV show "slap on the wrist" managed to make them reduce their interest rates to the meerly unbelievable rather than criminally insane!

I took all the leaflets from the store, put them in my bag and chucked them into the recycling.

How can Argos go along with this??? They should be ashamed...

I call for a boycott...

03 November, 2006

Dirty Sanchez:The Movie (2006) review

...right...just give me a second...

Yes......(and, yes, this needs *all* those dots)...I was *stupid* enough to watch "Dirty Sanchez:The Movie"...

No matter who you are, no matter what you have been through (and I've seen at least a little of the very, very bad things the internet has to offer), nothing, I repeat, nothing will have prepared you for the horrors that you are going to witness if you watch this movie.
I don't want to go into it in very much detail, but I had to cover my face several times, and was almost physically sick on two occasions...I also laughed my head off...

This, is a very peculiar film...I wouldn't advise anyone to watch it, in fact, I feel like warning people not to, because it is deeply, deeply wrong in so many ways, but some parts of it were really very funny...but you watch it, jaw agape, with a sense of horrified curiosity, how can anyone sink to this level?

It's a modern-day freak show, the freaks are the stars. If you enjoy degredation, humiliation, terrible violence, vomit inducing acts of vulgarity and some of the worst psycological abuse imaginable, then you'll love it...

If any of that worries you, stay *well* clear...

02 November, 2006

Stop cold calling - TPS call screening

Telephone on my desk at work...
Well, it works. Flyingpops signed us up for the TPS (Telephone Preference Service) for all our phone numbers, and you know what? No nuisance calls since. Worked like a charm. I think she said she did have one cold call on her mobile shortly after doing so (it takes them a little while to update all the lists apparently), but the very mention of the TPS sent them packing like the devil himself was ministering to their bottoms with a glowing poker!

So, it's free, it works, and you can register online now.

Do it.

(This has been a public service announcement courtesy of finkangel) ;)

01 November, 2006

Secret Mission... ;)

Had an interesting job to do today, an urgent mission to smuggle an important Swiss Scientist up to York for a critical engagement, avoiding undue attention... ;)

I recon it was because I live closest that I was chosen for the task...only takes 14 minutes to get there from Redhill...*but*, this was a secret mission, so I collected the package containing ticket, maps and instructions from the co-ordinator in London, and managed to sneak it back to my base in Redhill without any counter-operatives intercepting me (a few close calls)...

This morning a "contact" drove me to the station and I bought tickets without arousing any suspicion...after a difficult wait in the freezing waiting room on platform 2, the journey was swift, but I kept a close eye on my fellow travellers, just in case of spies...

Made it to Gatwick in time to make contact with the Scientist, but, to my dismay, she was no-where to be seen...just as I was pulling the sheet with her name from my bag, I felt a tap on my back...and after exchanging code words "Easyjet works okay, sometimes", the mission was back on...I whisked her to the Thameslink service (before anyone could follow us), then shot off in a *successful* distraction maneuver, grabbing another train to Earlswood...my walk through the fields distracted and wasted the evil operatives valuable time...heh... ;)