Saturday, 31 March 2012

Wow what a week!

The stress of travelling back from France and then to Scotland in the same day was soon replaced by stress of a week training!
Sorry for the lack of entries this week, it really has been non-stop in Edinburgh.
I met two colleagues at Luton airport for the 9.20 flight last Sunday night and arrived at the hotel around 11.30.  And then began five full days of training.  I don't recall ever having training of any merit in 20 years, but my employer is fully behind SixSigma as a way to improve processes, save money and make more money.  The cost of running these courses and the follow up work is substantial, but the savings made so far are amazing - 1000's of times more than the cost of the course and employing staff to run them.
Although I am impressed with the SixSigma approach, my remote role within the company makes it less relevant.  I do intend running a 6 month project however and am currently thinking up ideas... though it's not easy.
Anyway, it's good to be home as I suffered from a lack of sleep this week.  It's just a hotel thing!  It was great to be back in my own bed last night!
Lots of blog entries to come...  restaurant reviews, pictures, some news on the French trip etc etc.

Sunday, 25 March 2012


It's been a crazy few days and I will have to return to the blog with some detail next week.
We travelled to Kent on Wednesday to stay at my parents, I travelled into London on Thursday for work returning for a fine dinner at the pub.  On Friday at dawn we drove to Lille to watch a concert and stay the night.  On Saturday we ventured across the French countryside via a lovely old town called Cassel to Calais for the night.

Food, food, drink drink, music.

Home and immediately off to the airport to fly to Edinburgh leaving poor Pete all alone for a few days...

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Eurovision 2012

I was not impressed when the BBC announced that Engelbert Humperdinck would be representing the UK.  However, I've heard the song and it's fine.  I would personally have beefed up the production a bit, especially at the end, but it's deceptively simple song with a slight hook in the melody.
We wont win (it will be an Eastern European country with a song with a strong beat), but I think we wont come last either.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Super barge driver

Further to a posting last week about Pete's birthday (see here), I thought I'd share a video taken by Pete from a bridge.  I am driving the barge through the lock and it's not as easy as it may look...

Sunday, 18 March 2012


It's been a slow week at work but we dealt with that yesterday in an unexpected way.  We walked into town to get a couple of bits and started with a coffee in a place we have decided is the best coffee bar around. It then started raining, so Pete forced me to have a beer in the bar/restaurant upstairs!

The Hermitage is a great bar which seems to only attract "nice" people. There wasn't a chav in sight! In the afternoons and evenings, they have a doorman stopping the lowlifes from getting past the front door. This is an unusual thing to see in a provisional drinking place. The atmosphere was buzzing, especially for a Saturday afternoon. Here is a picture taken from their website:

We managed to spend FOUR hours drinking there! That's not like us at all. And a pleasant surprise was that a really cute and fit barman I had seen before turned up at 3 for his shift. :-)  With modern stalking devises, i.e. Facebook, you can easily find people, but it would be wrong to post a picture of him!
I took this at the coffee shop yesterday. You have to love the iPhone when you can take a dull picture and make something interesting...

Thursday, 15 March 2012

The end of the world

I've been contemplating ending this blog.  Well, if the loving religious Catholic people in Britain are to be believed, if same sex marriage enters into law, the world will crack in two and therefore my blog will be irrelevant.  A few comments in recent days from the British Catholic leadership on same-sex marriage:
"would reduce the significance of marriage"
"shame the United Kingdom in the eyes of the world"
These are simply stupid statements and make no sense at all. I can see that, in say 20 years, people will look back at the comments made by Catholic leaders and actually laugh.  One day they will be seen as the ludicrous statements that they clearly are. Marriage is all about love and it existed long before modern "made up" religions, so why would it be devalued for man/woman combinations if they were some man/man or woman/woman marriages? Think about it... marriage isn't going to be devalued by a tiny percentage being gay ones. The straight couples are never going to think "there's no point getting married as it's been devalued by those gay people who clearly just want to get married for the tax benefits (HA!)".
They insist that marriage is purely for "the procreation and education of offspring".  I assume that the Catholic guys will be advocating fines and imprisonment for couples that do not make babies.  I'm all for that!
The Pope is against gay marriage completely - he sees it as:
"damaging to the stability of society"
What a fool. But I have no respect for the man anyway, let's not forget that the current Pope once wrote to all Bishops around the world insisting that they cover up any pedophile crimes by their Priests or risk being excommunicated.  What nice people these religious types are.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Birthday boy

This weekend was a heavy one! It was Pete's birthday (the big FOUR ZERO) yesterday, but we started the celebrations on Friday at the local beer festival. It was packed and included the usual beer enthusiasts who tend to look a bit odd!
Saturday was recovery day and then, early on Sunday morning, 12 of us set off to Broxbourne where we had a boat waiting! After a couple of minutes instruction we were let loose on the Lee Navigation - a very old canal route into London.  We had a fantastic day eating, drinking and chugging along. I got to drive a lot and enjoyed the challenge. Pete was made to wear a silly hat all day - see pictures below.
Yesterday Pete and I had the day off work and went to Cambridge.  We were both exhausted, so took it easy before returning home to meet family and friends for a meal.  A great weekend!

Saturday, 10 March 2012


I took this photograph today near Pete's Mum's house.  Actually, it's 23 images taken in a 360 turn in the middle of a field, stitched together and then joined into one super-panoramic image. It took a lot of trial and error to produce it!  Enjoy...

Friday, 9 March 2012

TV dreaming

I have bemoaned the death of local radio in the UK on this blog, but years ago we also used to have distinct ITV regions. They were proud to produce proper local programming (not just localish news) and some of the local idents became as memorable as any programme that followed them.  The businesses produced better quality television because there was competition.  We have lost all of that now. Nowadays, ITV programming is dumbed down for the masses and gone are the quality dramas and documentaries, with only a couple of exceptions.  Now, they just try and copy the BBC and usually fail.  If you took the the time of the viewing into account, you somehow you had a good idea of what you were going to see just by seeing the ITV logo and (in most cases) animation and few seconds of music.
ATV (which became Central) meant Crossroads was about start. TVS in the evenings indicated some good entertainment show. Tyne Tees would be some low budget rubbish and Border TV had only one programme I remember... Mr and MrsThe weird music of HTV West usually led to some strange programme about farmers.
Before our local transmitter was changed in 1981, we received ITV from London.  The weekdays were Thames TV (with that awful logo and ident that people around the world associate with Benny Hill) and then, at 5.15 on a Friday evening LWT took over... the weekend started here!  I get a good feeling when I think back to those days... all based on a TV station logo.
             And when TVS came along in the early 80's, they acted like a big company despite not being one of the 'Big 5'. They worked hard to build a TV community in the south and made some great local and national programmes. So here is their ident...

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Art for art's sake

Further to a previous blog entry, here's the "art" I've been working on.  The photo doesn't capture the real colours of course. I know it's no Picasso, in fact it's probably not even GCSE standard, but it's a fun challenge working with Acrylic paint when you don't really know what you're doing!

Monday, 5 March 2012

March movie update

Here are the films that Pete and I have received from and watched on TV and DVD over the past few months in reverse order, with my ratings out of ten from my movie list on the IMDB.

Takes some concentration, but a pretty good spy thriller. Not as good as I was expecting - when you analyse it, there isn't actually much of a story.
Thoroughly depressing and shocking in the end, but very well acted and gripping. It kept me on the edge of my seat.
A good romcom... whatever next?!
Saboteur (1942) 6
Classic Hitchcock, but I felt the story was a bit silly in places.
Dull, boring, nothing happens. Nice scenery though.
Drive (2011) 7
A favourite film from last year for many people. Violent and well made, but it was not overly special for me.
Not quite as good as the first one, but impressive animation and good story anyway.
Heartbreaker (2010) 8
Funny French film about a professional Romeo employed to break up couples.
Tyrannosaur (2011) 1
The opening scene was unnecessary and we switched off. Could have been a great film, but the director completely misjudged that first minute.
Abduction (2011) 5
Taylor Lautner "acts" his way through a stupid "thriller".
Poor romcom. I don't understand how a good actor like Paul Rudd can make so many crap films.
I found this film very unsettling and was thinking about it for a few days. It's a story of brainwashing and selfish society.
Could have been funny, but the gaps in the story were way too big.
CGI obsessed film that appeared to be made just to set it up for a sequel. Stupid story and some awful acting, but quite watchable!
* Previously viewed.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Bad to the bone

You may have read a blog entry from November where my friend James, who is currently spending a year in Argentina with work, spoke about his initial thoughts on Buenos Aires. I had promised to talk about James again, but he can be illusive at times, so haven't got round to it. It really doesn't help that I am not a fan of either the telephone or Skype. It's weird I know, especially as I have to talk on the phone a lot for work. Those conversations keep me employed, so there's an incentive.
Anyway, while James does all he can to improve relations between our nations and avoid mentioning the Falkland Islands (unlike that twat Sean Penn) he has been exploring and while out and about something nasty happened and he badly broke his arm. He is now the bionic man having been treated by the number one surgeon in the country. I am not totally sure how the accident happened having only heard part of the story, but here's the proof!  The squeamish should look away now!


Advance warning...

I've been painting in recent weeks. A little here and there when I felt inspired, but I found that I don't know how to paint clouds so I've gone all abstract. Here's the proof of my work, with the colourful leftovers of acrylic paint. If you want to see the finished painting (that's on 60cm x 80cm canvas), it's sitting leaning against the wall in the dining room at the moment. Or you can ask me to post a photo of it here. Your choice...

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Crocodile Dundee... recut

One of my favourite comedy films is Crocodile Dundee.  The first film (and not the others) is just funny (and overly cliched in places) and brings back some great memories of being 16 years old. Some clever person has recut the film to produce a trailer that changes this witty story of an outback rebel into something quite different...

Friday, 2 March 2012

WTF Eurovision?!

British crooner Engelbert Humperdinck is to represent the UK at this year's Eurovision Song Contest!  The 75 year old will sing for the UK in May.  In theory, I have nothing against an older person singing for Britain, but this is a stupid idea! The reason to enter the competition has to be to win and therefore choose a winnable act that will appeal to the masses across Europe.
Eurovision winners these days will be young, with a certain style, memorable and have a song that is instantly catchy (probably with an East European rhythm and feel to appeal to the many "new" countries).  Choosing Eng' wont work and I just wonder if the plan was to ensure we don't win and therefore avoid having the cost of running the competition falling on cash strapped BBC.
If this trend continues, I assume that France will be considering 68 year old Johnny Halliday for their Eurovision entrant.

It's been a long time since the UK won...