29 April, 2006
Got up early today (really early) Flyingpops isn't very well at the moment and she couldn't sleep, so we were in Crawley by 8am (zzz) picking up her new DVD writer from the City Link couriers office (they tried and failed to deliver it to an empty house yesterday), we nipped into McDonalds for a naughty breakfast, then decided on a whim to check out Homebase for special "Bank Holiday" offers and came away with this -
- which really was a good deal (£68 quid down to £44), so we're enjoying the intermittent sun, I've been doing a bit of gentle gardening (just tidying up really) -
- ready (assuming the sun keeps shining) for me to dust off the BBQ, which seems to have survived the winter quite well, later on this afternoon...I've got a load of ribs and some piri piri marinade... ;)
Oh and Unazukin liked her new home btw (here we are enjoying a last beer together yesterday)...and is looking forward to her adventures with Kipperfrog... ;)
28 April, 2006
Got an Unazukin (more about them here)!!!! It's not for me though, it's for Kipperfrog's birthday...it's slightly bigger than I thought it would be (I had weebles in mind) but still *very* cute, checking on the back of the box reveals the complex instructions - it has four possible responses -
- so when you tell it a story or ask it a question, after it has done it's voice analysis it will reply either "Yes!", "Definitely Yes!", "No!" or "Definitely No!" (by either nodding or shaking it's head a number of times, click the picture for a closeup)...so a little more complex than my initial "flip a coin" guess...but I'm still worried about the "Unazukin, shall we go with this strange man to see his puppies?" aspect...I guess a million Japanese kids can't be entirely wrong though... ;)
I bought something else too, but it's a suprise so I'll have to post it later...it's funny though, great bit of "Engrish" translation on the back of the box... ;)
Anyway, happy birthday Kipperfrog (well, it was actually yesterday), but see you later on for the official celebration and giving of gifts! Until then, it's all mine... ;)
27 April, 2006
- but even the tiny sweet basil seedlings have made an early appearance (I didn't have many seeds left, so I spread them pretty far apart, might be able to avoid the "thinning" process completely with a bit of luck) -
- and the mint has made an unexpected return (after dying completely over the winter) -
- need to go and buy some coriander too at some point, I'm wise this year to the need to pinch their flowers off when they start to appear, if you let them get away with it they completely stop producing tasty leaves! ;)
26 April, 2006
So this was the scene yesterday, looking out the back of the bus (yes, I sit with all the naughty kids on the back seat, mostly because there's more leg room by the emergency exit, but anyway - )...there is some work going on at the traffic lights in Earlswood, right by "The Causeway" pub, the picture above is the queue caused (all the way back up the hill towards Redhill), this wouldn't be too bad, but this is exactly the route that most of the ambulances on their way to East Surrey Hospital must travel...if you look right at the back of the queue you can just about see the flashing lights of one such vehicle (carrying a person potentially on deaths door) stuck in traffic with the rest of us...this is not good... :(
They either need to do this work during the night, or set up the temporary lights with the same cycle as the proper lights (which would seem like common sense to me)...surely this is putting lives in danger?
25 April, 2006
Flyingpops is in training! The 2006 Race for Life in Epsom (on the Downs, near the race course, appropriately) takes place on the 2nd of July 2006, it's in aid of Cancer Research UK, and they are hoping to raise at least 46 million pounds this year (if they get all 750,000 female runners they are after, sorry chaps, it's ladies only)! So if you haven't already done something good today (help an old person across the road, etc.), then why not put your snack money in the online collection box (it's quick, easy and secure) and help to make a difference... ;)
Update - £190 pledged so far! Sponsor Flyingpops here!
24 April, 2006
When I left the office on Friday and got to Kings Cross Thameslink it really reminded me how the station looked on the 21st of July (the failed second wave of terror attacks on London) - there was even emergency tape over the stairs, people/luggage everywhere, lots of rail staff and police, I thought "OMG! What's happening?", but it turned out (as I had come in early with Flyingpops and caught the bus) that pretty much all Thameslink services had been suspended for most of the day (damage to overhead lines), one of the rail staff guys advised me to go to Victoria via the tube, so I gritted my teeth and started moving at speed towards Kings Cross mainline and the underground...I had *just* got there and was fighting through the crowds towards the stairs when an annoucement (in super-echo-mode, as is normal in that cavernous building) kindly informed me that "Kings Cross Thameslink is now operational, all customers please note that your tickets will now not be valid on services from Kings Cross mainline"...argh(!)...so, turning around, I battled back through the crowds, getting a bit hot and bothered now, worked my way back along the road to the Thameslink station only to be greeted by the same scene, only slightly changed by the addition of a large sign proclaiming that all services were suspended until further notice...I had to query this with the staff, I really wasn't relishing retracing my steps *again*, but they confirmed, everything was down for the foreseeable future...one extra bit of news though, they *were* operating a partial service southbound from Blackfriars...so, thanks to those failed terror attacks, I knew just what to do... ;) By running like mad I just caught the closing doors on a number 63 bus, paid my one fifty and sat, sweating and panting until I saw the bridge (took about ten minutes I guess) hopped off and ran across the road, bounded up the stairs to the sound of an announcement that my train (yes, believe it or not, my normal train home!) was on platform 4 about to depart, this spurred me to even greater speed, and I flew (as the beeps were sounding) through the first available door...*phew*...
So *this* morning, we get to Earlswood, passing a queue of about 40 people standing at the (normally deserted) number 100 bus stop only to find about 10 car parking spaces outside the station (which is totally unheard of)...I commented "It's not Sunday again is it?" to Flyingpops and then spotted the workmen dotted all over the tracks..."Over-running engineering works" were confirmed by the ticket lady at the station entrance, so we hop back in the car and drive into Redhill, park the car in a back road and hurry across town to the station making it *just* in time for Flyingpops to catch the last (packed) carriage of her normal train...!
Copies of the letter pictured above were littered all over *my* normal train a few minutes later, apologising for Friday and saying they will consider applications for compensation - if you were delayed by over 30 minutes...So, two stressful, inconvenient and tiring dashes now bracket my weekend, neither of which are valid for any sort of compensation - simply because we weren't inconvenienced *enough* (and were prepared to pull out all the stops to *make* the journey happen)...if I had sat on my ass at Kings Cross Thameslink waiting for them to get their act together I *would* be eligable for compensation...but it's not a very appealing way to spend your Friday night...! I'm not entirely satisfied...
21 April, 2006
- still run by the His Grace the Duke of Northumberland (very nice, but will have to go and pay a visit another day) on bank holiday Monday. I can understand why the Duke's family aren't currently in residence though, as it's unfortunately right on the flight path into London Heathrow (and thus extremely noisy) -
- but landing planes weren't the flying things we were after, we had come *mainly* to check out the London Butterfly House -
Now, the weather on Monday was threatening to be nice (occasionally) but was still mostly cloudy and cold, so I was dressed accordingly (long trousers, long sleeved t-shirt and a thick fleece/coat) and having not been warned in advance (although I really should have thought about it) this proved totally innapropriate attire for the activity...it was *boiling* in there, and extremely humid too...(so if you go along, leave your coat in the car)...as soon as we walked through the door we were surrounded by butterflies of all shapes and sizes, so I immediately reached for the camera, only to notice with some puzzlement that I couldn't focus on *anything*...spinning it round it became apparent that the temperature difference between outside and in had covered the lense completely in mist! I resisted the urge to wipe it, and thankfully, within about 5 or 6 minutes it had gone all by itself...(phew!)...so, a few of the pics, I even know what some of them are called now -
This one is a "Burmese Peacock"...
A "Glass Wing"...
"The Owl"...(who made up these names?)...
An "Indian Leaf"...
A "Tree Nymph"...well, I could go on (the full flickr stream is here if you like butterfly pictures)...Oh, one really cute(?) thing they did have is a colony of leaf cutter ants that live in a huge (and very dirty) perspex box near the entrance, they are isolated from the regular foliage and connected to a special platform suspended over one of the ponds by a couple of large ropes, along which they travel to cut leaves (best to click this one to see it a bit bigger) I thought this was excellent, as normally they are isolated completely inside an ant farm -
...now, it's not a huge place, I think all in all we were in there for about an hour, and that was really pushing it, so don't plan to spend the day on that occupation alone, thankfully there are a load of other things to do around there, we got it just about wrong though, arriving too late for it to be worth it to do anything else apart from eat our picnic and wander round the huge garden centre/aquarium opposite but get there early and there would be plenty to fill more than one day...just wear comfortable shoes... ;) Oh, on that note my foot is much better, thanks (been resting it the last few days, wearing a compression bandage and taking anti-inflamitory medicine), so I'm back in London today, but taking it easy... ;)
20 April, 2006
19 April, 2006
Now, this kind of sucks (never thought I would say that) because we had a load of travellers turn up right by the hospital, about 30 caravans (moderm, pristine), 7 horses (old and manky) and what seemed like somewhere around 100 children (who were all over the trees, yelling and hitting each other), but the police came and turfed them out before I even plucked up courage to go and take a pic! They were there one day when we left for work, there when I came home on the bus, there (with a police van) the following morning (the police were talking to themselves, all the gypsies being still in bed), then when I got home they had gone - and in their place workers had arrived and were erecting these earthworks...I had never wondered why all the other green land around us was surrounded by ditch and rampart....suddenly it all became clear - caravan baffles...! I can honestly say I've never seen the council move so quickly... ;) There must be a history of Gypsy occupation in the area though, as under the bridge at Three Arch road is a very, very old painting of an "Evil Eye"...I'll try and take a picture sometime, but I'm normally on the bus or in the car when I go past it, so it might take me a while...Anyway, the sum total effect of their visit amounted to the following -
- some horse poo (quite a lot actually) -
- a small hole containing a battered, and I assume broken "Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers speaker effect earpiece" (I had thought it was a bluetooth headset at first) -
- and the remains of a small fire...so despite tales of terrible impact on the land they settle on, we either got off fairly lightly, or the tales aren't true...mind you, they didn't really have much of a chance to make a mess...
18 April, 2006
Look what the little wags on the estate have done to the freshly painted, freshly laid asphalt on Bushfield drive... ;) Heh...Mind you, they could have used chalk (or something), it looks like white spray paint...so we might have to live with their little joke for a while...
Anyway, speaking of paint (having been rather covered in the stuff myself over the Easter break), we *still* aren't done with the hall, it has turned out to be an occupation of a rather onerous nature...still, it's only really the gloss work left - which is, admittedly, sticky, smelly, fiddly and time consuming, but terribly satisfying when done correctly... ;)
The rest of the break had three other major highlights -
- "The Agincourt" club, Camberley at the invitation of Flyingpops' brother (largely to cheer on his band) , the sets precedeing were a real eye-opener, looks like hardcore Death Metal (+Mosh pit) are alive and well (improbably/but really!!) and in happy fusion with Goth/Skater sensibilities in Camberley...I haven't slam danced in *years*...hope I didn't hurt *too* many people...heh... ;)
- Lunch with the family at my folks (excitingly including rescuing some tadpoles from a slowly draining pond with the hose, and soaking the dog at the same time... ;)
- The London Butterfly house, Syon Park (but more on this later, got some good pics if you fancy a sneak peek on the flickr stream)...
Jeez, that was a weekend of serious contrasts...oh, and my foot is playing up again...I'm getting sick of this, back to the doctors if it isn't better tomorrow...it would be okay if I had actually done something to it other than...oh...hang on...perhaps I'll just shut up now...whoops... :(
15 April, 2006
13 April, 2006
As suspected, well, it's not really new livery, just a litho slapped on the side and someone has scraped the word "Thameslink" off (if you zoom in you can see that it's still clearly readable by the door)...
Same on the signs on the platform...except the "Thameslink" has remained, they have also replaced *most* of the advertising sites around the station with marketing pieces (which I won't bother to read)...
With the new management and new livery we also appear to have a new rule, as of yesterday the ticket barrier staff tell me that they are now "not really allowed" (so a nice clear rule then) to let you through the gate at the side of the barrier - regardless of whether your ticket is valid or not - mine *is*, but for some reason it beeps and flashes "Seek Assistance" each time I pop it into the ticket machines at the Thameslink end (works fine in Redhill)...the small female (Aussie?) insector told me that I should go and get a replacement ticket issued, I took one look at the queue in Kings Cross and decided I would get my replacement this morning instead, so when I got to the front of the (much smaller) queue at Redhill, I explained the situation to the guy behind the counter, but he almost refused to believe what I was saying, he was like "Eh? But that's a valid ticket mate, what are they going to do? Keep you on the platform?", I couldn't help but agree "Well, yes, that's exactly what I thought, it's not been a problem up until now, new rule apparently"...he scratched his head, shrugged his shoulders and issued me a new ticket *anyway*, but was still glancing over, looking like he didn't quite believe me as I was queuing for the barriers...I could almost hear the coffee-time "Never guess what those monkeys at Kings Cross are doing"...Didn't get a chance to try the ticket out yet though, it was a different inspector today, who had the gate wide open and was ignoring everyone except the two chavs he was telling off (who presumably didn't have tickets at all)...
Hehe...1-0 to me... ;)
12 April, 2006
11 April, 2006
He could lead if he would get the lead out.
The farm was used to produce produce.
The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.
The soldier decided to desert in the desert.
This was a good time to present the present.
A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.
When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.
I did not object to the object.
The insurance was invalid for the invalid.
The bandage was wound around the wound.
There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.
They were too close to the door to close it.
The buck does funny things when the does are present.
They sent a sewer down to stitch the tear in the sewer line.
To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.
The wind was too strong to wind the sail.
After a number of injections my jaw got number.
Upon seeing the tear in my clothes I shed a tear.
I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.
How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?
I read it once and will read it agenI learned much from this learned treatise.
I was content to note the content of the message.
The Blessed Virgin blessed her. Blessed her richly.
It's a bit wicked to over-trim a short wicked candle.
If he will absent himself we mark him absent.
I incline toward bypassing the incline.
If you want some more poems like this (exploring the glorious absurdities of the English language) then check out this page on the Simplified Spelling Society website...some great examples... ;)
10 April, 2006
- after I shot this closeup I pulled my head back slightly from the camera to see if I needed to re-frame, and out of the corner of my eye I noticed a sleepy looking woman staring down at me from her open upstairs window (just out of shot to the left) I gave her a grin, said a cheeky "Mornin'" and walked on... ;)
- (just a shame that under all that blossom the scene at street level isn't quite up to scratch) -
I like carrying the Mavica in London, holding my tiny, battered point and shoot no-one gives a shit what you are trying to take a picture of, but I've had London commuters politely waiting for me to finish a shot, following my gaze curiously wondering what is so interesting, and once I even had a taxi driver give me the thumbs up and and wait when I was shooting Kings Cross station from the road...I think it's because's it's just sufficiently large enough to look like a *proper* camera... ;)
09 April, 2006
My not really eating chocolate (or any sweets particularly) makes easter a bit more of a challenge (gift-wise) for Flyingpops than it would have been otherwise, so when we spotted this in Tesco earlier on today she pounced on my interest and decided it would be perfect, unfortunately it does mean I now have to spend ten quid on an egg for her... ;)
Anyway, here's what you get in the box -
- essentially -
1 x waterlily nymphea
1 x arrowhead sagittaria japonica
1 x pontederia cordata
4 x bags of pond soil pellets
2 x bags of ornamental gravel
- you pop in the "soil pellets" then you decide on the arrangement -
- bury the bulbs securely (so they don't float around, I guess) "Firm planting is essential" (as it says in the procedure document) -
- fill slowly with rainwater (from my water barrel) -
- and then "place in a position with a sunny aspect" (next to the lavender should do the trick) -
Lets see what happens! :) Never had any water dwelling plants before (apart from the ones the goldfish chew up)... ;)
08 April, 2006
07 April, 2006
- for me, did Flyingpops a nice veggie breakfast, and cooked Tom a bacon omelette (which wasn't on the menu) with no objections at all...After breakfast we did a last few bits of essential shopping (Mojo sauce, banana liquor etc.) -
- then, with a few minutes left to spare we found a way up onto the roof of the apartments, so here you can see all the banana plantations out the back of the resort -
- the coach journey was really painless (last day of the holiday and they decide to re-open the road - double typical!) and we were among the first people in the queue for check in, had a drink, did a bit more shopping and then flew back, great flight, tail wind this time so landed early and Flyingpop's uncle Al picked us up at the airport right on time...and that was it!
Roll on Cornwall in the summer... ;)
...for my breakfast this morning, was sitting on the train playing GTA and just couldn't get the thought out of my head...by the time I got to Kings Cross I could almost taste it, so (helpless to my whim, and being ruled firmly by my Id) I diverted to the main station and "Ixxy's" therin, no queue (great!), so I walked up to the counter and politely waited to make my order (while the three members of staff gossiped in a secret language)...when I finally got some attention I tried to make my order, but it's been so long since I have had a bagel that I forgot that you have to choose what *kind* you would like - the lady looked at me like I was some sort of simpleton and pointed up to the procedure document hung above her head (1. State what kind of bagel you would like, and if you would like it toasted, 2. State which filling you would like, etc.)...so I switched into ("I know exactly what I want") NY mode (from - "tired and confused London commuter, please have pity" - mode) and ordered "One toasted sesame hot salt beef with sliced gherkin and mustard"...she stuck the bagel into the toasting machine after cleaving it in twain with a lethal looking blade then went back to chatting in her indestinguishable patois with her colleagues...when the bagel popped out she rolled her eyes (yes, sorry love, time to do some work) picked it up with her blue, latex gloved hands and asked "Do you want any cream cheese with your salmon?", which earned her a similar look to the one she had given me earlier and a slow restatement of my order (and this next part I had forgotten too, since my last visit-), she then proceeded to slice and *weigh* the hot salt beef (in case, heaven forbid, I were accidentally given a sliver over the prescribed amount)...you wouldn't see that behavior in NYC, I'll tell you that for nothing...the bagel shop I went into on the Upper West Side served me up something that I genuinely struggled to fit into my mouth (and it was 5 bucks as opposed to 5 QUID!) -
- we're ripped off in England...
06 April, 2006
What a great episode though...looks like our little friend isn't who he says he is, although whether he is an "Other", the jury is still out, pretty rubbish cover story if you leave the real guy's body (still with ID) in the grave though...so there is a possible twist...and Locke has made his vow - "No matter what"...and I kind of think he is the sort of fellow who keeps his vows...
Did you spot the cross? That's Nadia's house Locke was attending...not quite sure where in the timeline that flashback was from though...
Mount Teide was visible for much of the journey, we skimmed past it (ears popping with the altitude) and then descended back down the other side (ears popping back again) to genuine exclaimations of relief when we pulled off the mountain path and onto a proper road...Loro Parque was a short hop from the motorway into Puerto de la Cruz (Port of the Cross, didn't see one, but I'm sure there was one there somewhere)...the driver dropped us off at the far end of the car park, so, still swaying slightly with the after effects of the journey, we made our way towards the "pre-paid tickets" entrance -
- there wasn't even a queue to pay for tickets, but once through the door there was about a ten minute wait for the mandatory picture with a parrot before you could actually see the park proper, and boy must they use a lot of water on the grounds (reminded me of Lost!) -
- Anyway, quickly checking the park map and show schedule revealed that the Orca show was going to start in about 20 minutes time, so we started following the signs (as quickly as we could), this worked fine until we reached a 4 way split that didn't have a picture of an Orca on it, so we just picked the one that seemed to be heading in the right sort of direction and when we got to the next "You are here" map (about 5 minutes later) we had somehow ended up on completely the other side of the park! So now, in much more of a hurry we retraced out steps and luckily fluked the right path on the second try, arriving at the back of a traffic jam of push chairs trying to cram their way through the unbelievably tiny entrance to the arena, some mountain climbing up rows of seats got us into position just as the introductory video came on the big screen (it showed how the Killer Whales had been shipped over to Tenerife from Florida 6 weeks earlier and hyped up how much Loro Parque is dedicated to taking care of the environment, although when they started with "The ocean is like a garden, and without a gardener it will suffer", I kind of switched off, what nonsense)...then, gasps from the crowd at the front drew my eyes to the side of the *huge* pool in front of me as we all caught our first glimse of one of the creatures in the flesh -
- seeing how enormous they actually are hit me like a brick, and sent the people in the "Splash Zone" into a purchase frenzy for 5 Euro plastic ponchos (hehe) -
- which didn't help ;) After this splash a few people actually walked out of the arena carrying their extra-hydrated packed-lunches dripping behind them -
- the show was awesome, but I think because the trainers and the whales are fairly new to each other the humans didn't actually get into the water (fearing accidental mistaken identity as a seal, no doubt), which was a bit of a shame, but that does mean it will be well worth making a trip back in a few years to see how things have come on -
Next, it was on to the penquin house, where they keep everything suitably chilly all year round (impressive for Tenerife) and have a number of snow machines that keep things authentic for the residents (who look happy enough) -
- which is more than I can say for the bloke whose job it was to clean the bottom of the tank (with what looked like a nail brush) -
After the penguins we had a bit of a wait before the dolphin show, so we had a little wander round, saw a huge number of extremely miserable looking parrots, and the odd slightly larger creature -
The dolphins were great -
- can't help but think they must get bored doing the same old things each day for their dinner (I paid for mine, and then wished I hadn't) which was a pretty terrible kebab -
- we went and saw the parrot show, which was actually *not* lame (climax was several large parrots and a flock of small ones circling the audience practially bushing our faces with their proximity) -
- then we went back into the penguin house to buy Flyingpops a present (a nice blue breakfast mug and a tiny plush parrot keyring) and I managed to take this shot of their amazing tank by the exit (it's about 3 stories high and about the same width as a tube train!) all the fish (pretty much) swim in the same direction like a vortex, really hypnotic -
- then we just had time to catch a bit of the sealion show -
- before it was time to head back to the coach (not really enough time there, but we *did* get to see everything, albeit briefly)...
The journey home was *much* better (initially), being along the motorway but the same traffic problems hit us as on the transfer when we got near our resort, without going into details it was a nightmare (especially for Flyingpops who had really liked that carrier bag)...
For our last night supper we found a place doing gazpacho soup (yay!) -
- and a nice steak (but not as good as the evening before) -
- and then we had a few drinks in the hotel bar watching a truly appalling rendition of "Grease" by the hotal staff...really didn't know where the holiday had gone...pickup was midday tomorrow, so we did at least have half a day left in the resort... ;)