Well, let it snow - IF - the trains can manage to all run on time, which of course they *can't*...it didn't work out *too* bad I suppose - roads were clear by the time we got off the estate, train five minutes late to Earlswood and only twenty minutes late into London Bridge (they weren't even using the snow as an excuse either, today it was a "broken rail at Redhill") - I got on a Dartford train that was supposed to have run at 7am (just over an hour late departing), and oh boy was the DLR busy, but despite it all I still managed to get to work before 9am... ...and this is the view out over east London that greeted me...total white out... ;)
Spotted this in "the Wharf" the other day, which did sort of prompt me to wonder if a "Marine Policing Unit" wouldn't be better off if their chosen mode of transport could actually float (images of crestfallen Police officers standing with their heads in their hands as crooks slowly vanish into the distance rowing a small dingy popping involuntarily into my head) - - but when I got a look at the side of the vehicle it seemed to make a bit more sense, it was actually the "Underwater and confined space search team" (which sounds like just about my worst possible nightmare of a job) - - I spotted them a bit futher up West India Quay (shivering), several members of support staff manning (what I presume to be) the oxygen supply machinery, the rest looking on - - so probably a training exercise, either that or Lord Sugar dropped his helicopter keys... ;)
...and yes, I know he doesn't really work in Canary Wharf, he just likes to pretend he does (while sitting in a business park in St. Albans... ;)
So on my day off on Monday we decided (after Flyingpops had got back from the church group with Thomas - giving Daddy some valuable Xbox time) to go and visit Tilgate Park Nature Center, last time we went Thomas did a lot of pointing and staring and saying "Ah Goo!", but now, with his well practiced Animal Noises/Names (from various books/posters/plush and otherwise toys), it was time to see if he could put them to practical use... ...first we stopped off at the "raaaaaaar" (outside the entrance) - - then passed through the Nature Centre archway - - and had a ride on one of the "clip-clop-clip-clop"s - - then, after putting on reins and grabbing a big stick - - we stopped to watch some "Baaaaa"s - - excitedly chased some "icken!" (thoughts obviously still firmly on lunchtime) - - watched some *sound of a clearing nose* having their tea - - pointed at some "Moooooo"s - - and waved to a "Wak wak - Duck!"...(as well as peering at some more exotic animals which didn't make much noise at all, and didn't feature in many of the "Farm" word books, etc.)... ...a brilliant afternoon, and some practical use for all those extended "ook" sessions learning the animal names and noises...well done Thomas! ;)
Ah, just had a lovely few days off including a lovely trip to Tilgate Park to see some farm animals (more about that, probably, tomorrow), get to the station and hop onto my (for once perfectly on time) train and get a text message from Orange telling me I'm ready to go on the new super network that has resulted from Orange and T-Mobile combining their base stations! All I had to do was reply "Yes" to a text message, turn on "Roaming" data (which results in an extremely scary message about how much it could cost - as you would only normally use roaming data when overseas), set network detection to "Automatic" and off we go! Hopefully this means the gaping holes in Canary Wharf Orange mobile coverage will now be significantly reduced! Guess I'll find out at lunchtime when I try to ring Flyingpops to see how her and Thomas have enjoyed their morning! :)
Ah Friday, and I'm all warm at home in my duvet...hehe...okay, well actually probably not, I'm probably walking Thomas to sleep in the freezing cold rain, but I wrote this lot on Thursday, so...well, place your bets! ;)
Wow, this morning Thomas managed to string two words together (for the first time ever) - he said "Yay Daddy"... :)
His spoken vocabulary is now so advanced I would struggle to list all his words, but it does include (perfectly pronounced) "garden", "ball", "car", "socks", "shoes", "train", "pear", "cup", "cat"...imperfectly pronounced (but impressive) "icken" (chicken - the roast variety), "tiangle" (triangle), "taktor" (tractor), "mato" (tomato), "nana" (banana), "nannan" (Nanna), "dink" (drink), "ook" (book)...and the list goes on...the number of words he understands when *we* speak them is colossal, for example he has absolutely no problem understanding "Thomas go and sit on your chair if you are going to eat that" (and so he does) or "Can you see a cat in the garden?" (and over he goes to the patio doors)...it's just incredible...as Flyingpops commented the other day "Once Thomas starts properly talking there's going to be no shutting him up"... ;)
Unfortunately, in other Thomas news, he has managed to pick up a bit of conjunctivitis (in both his eyes), the doctors at the hospital prescribed him some eye drops, but when he woke up this morning and we brought him through to the bedroom he looked like he had come off worst in a boxing match overnight, so swollen are his poor little eyes, and oh boy does he hate having the treatment...three times a day in each eye? This is going to be a nightmare...
...well, two weeks actually...Every *single* day for the last two weeks the train in the morning has been delayed, by now you would have thought they might have decided to set off a little bit earlier, or change the name of the train to the 07:18 instead of the 07:12 (or something)...of course, as soon as we get out of pattern the delays compound and by the time we get into London Bridge we are (on average) fifteen or twenty minutes late arriving...last Thursday things got even better, as I stood (already running late) on platform one, awaiting my Lewisham service and watched in disbelief as not one, but two Lewisham trains popped up onto the boards, only to vanish - without a single announcement - without a train actually arriving at the station, and then just to put the cherry on the top, when I got to the DLR there was a broken down train blocking one of the platforms and about 200 people impatiently waiting...that night there were 51 minute delays out of London Bridge in the direction of home... Winter (you know, a bit of wind and rain, or a bit of ice) *shouldn't* be coming as a surprise, it happens each and every year...although neither is it a surprise (unfortunately) that we inevitably hit the annual descent into dismal service by the hopelessly under-prepared idiots who (I stifle my manic laughter as I say) "run" the railways... Still, at least it gives me a chance to wander around with the camera... >;P
Wow, so that's it! Sunday (just gone) saw Thomas complete his *final* Water Babies class! (In contrast, this is what he looked like walking into his first ever lesson, which was when he was only 4 months old, in November last year)... ...(and in the water)...
Now, of course, he gets terribly excited about the whole affair, instead of just looking slightly baffled...knows he isn't all that fond of ending up underwater, but knows exactly what to do to remedy the situation and is happy and confident splashing around, climbing into the water and holding on to the edge all on his own (clever boy)...! We picked up his graduation certificate after the lesson and are going to mount it on his bedroom wall along with a (hand picked) picture, but I haven't quite decided which one yet... So, a milestone, Thomas' first certificate (apart from the Birth one, obviously)...Baby swimming is over, it's on to Toddler Splash next! ;)
...although you can probably guess this guy's first language isn't English, there is an extremely important lesson for all of us in what he writes -
-Lithium Ion batteries don't like constantly being topped up-
(in case you didn't know, this is what is in your laptop/mobile phone/mp3 player/handheld game console etc.)
In fact, each time you add charge to a Lithium Ion battery, it's performance gets a little worse, for the average battery you can expect 800-odd charge cycles before you effectively kill it - by leaving it plugged in all the time you'll kill the battery at the fastest possible rate.
So what are the "take home" tips about this?
If it's a laptop, when you have access to mains power take the battery completely *out* of the device and put it somewhere cool (not freezing cold) and run the laptop with just the power cable plugged in (99% of machines are quite happy like this - see pic above)...When you absolutely *need* to be using the battery (e.g. on the move/in a tent/whatever), pop it back in for a full charge then off you go, keep the battery out at all other times.
If it's a mobile phone/mp3 player (etc.) or a laptop that won't boot without it's battery, minimise the amount of charge cycles as far as you can, and try to start your charge cycles (as far as is practical) when the battery is at 10%...
Now go off and enjoy your greatly increased (future) battery life!
Well, well, well...a "customer" is interested in licencing my photograph of Jar Jar the goldfish which they spotted on Flickr (apparently), so Getty Images have emailed me an invitation to join their books and submit my image for final review (which I have done), wonder if my little photography hobby will turn into an unexpected money spinner?
So just a few pictures from our evening out on Guy Fawkes night at the FPLO bonfire (actually, this one was on the way, playing with the settings getting ready for firework shots) - - after a couple of drinks in the bar awaiting my sister, her husband and Thomas' cousin, we headed across to the playing field to check out the serviceable bonfire (nothing is quite the same after you have seen the one at Brockham) - - huddling as near as we dared to stay warm - - and before long the display was underway - - which Thomas enjoyed very much (much to our relief, as these were his first ever ones)... ;)
...well, sort of... ;) Having to burn up some holiday days as I've got waaaaay too many left, and actually, the way I have it reserved right now (apart from next week) I don't have a single full week to work now until January!
So yesterday, by way of celebrating Halloween, we decided to take Thomas to Priory Farm to walk their seasonally themed "Spooky Trail" - - made all the more spooky by the huge fields of dead sunflowers left from the summer - - populated by absolutely hundreds of Himalayan Parakeets greedily gulping down the leftover seeds (occasionally being spooked and exploding into a green cloud above our heads - much to Thomas' amazement) and a carpet of Guinea Hen below picking over what the Parakeets dropped... Climbing the (extremely muddy and slippery) hill - - stopping briefly to admire the view - - before playing in the musical maze - - (which involved banging lots of gongs) - - got scared by some giant spiders hanging under the high hide - - and fired a giant arrow down the hill - - trying not to kill any other visitors (or rampaging wildlife) - - then we slid down the other side of the hill, dodging skeletons, through the orchard and pumpkin patch - - and round the lake - - and then back home for roast lamb with all the trimmings... ;)