Monday, August 29, 2005

Pyrotechnics and Stuff

Evening dudes. I hope that you've enjoyed the Bank Holiday weekend; I've had an awesome time.

As you will know from my previous posts I spent it down in West Wales, and it turned out to be quite a packed few days. I enjoyed some good walking and some time chilling out and reading (still Harry Potter, but I have to concede that JK Rowling has written this one well).

On top of that we had some good social times; a friend of Sam's was staying with us and we saw various other friends throughout the weekend. Saturday night was a highlight - we had what turned out to be quite an eclectic group round for a BBQ (always a good move). The group included an old work colleague of my dad's, his wife and their 12 year old daughter, plus his wife's cousin and her husband (who have a house in the area) and their 27 year old daughter. It was all beautifully random, especially as we didn't even know everyone's surname but the whole evening went really well.

Following the BBQ we all decamped to the town up the road for the 'end of regatta fireworks display', which is where the title of the post comes from. I wasn't expecting much to be honest but as we parked up and started walking down to the seafront the sheer volume of people also pouring down the street raised the expectations a little bit. But they didn't get raised far enough - people, it was one of the best displays I have ever seen. Comprising 20 minutes of sublime pyrotechnical wizardry it echoed up the picturesque estuary and lit up the entire sky. The finale was immense, and the fact that 'someone who works in the firework industry' has a house in the village probably explains a lot.

The rest of the weekend passed with more spontaneous social gatherings, a random swift half after hours in a pub (whilst searching for someone called Lewis) and tension as poor weather and a broken gyroscope cast doubt over the idea of flying home.

For the record we made it safely after climing through the cloud to 7000ft and I enjoyed a pleasant flight unbothered by the Bank Holiday jams.

Smashing.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Another Random Place to Blog from

I'm currently 3000ft above the countryside in West Wales, somewhere near the end of the M4.

With my MiniDisc player supplying me with a tune by Van Halen, I have to say I'm enjoying myself.

Over and Out.

It's a tough life...

I'm just about to set off for West Wales, which will be a pleasant place to enjoy the Bank Holiday weekend. I'm just waiting for the decision to be made as to how I will get there.

Plan A is to fly, and I will enjoy the views of the M4 jams from the comfort of a Cessna 172.

Plan B - if the weather does not permit flying - is to be the passenger in a TVR.

Oh what hardship.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Random!

Having made the mistake of deciding to empty the draw under the bed in which everything usually gets put when I'm tidying up, I've found I'm actually quite enjoying sifting through the pile now on my bedroom floor.

It's amazing what I've found actually; a £5 book token has made it all seem a bit more worthwhile, whilst for sheer randomness the award so far must go to the key from the Youth Hostel in Trier (Germany) or the 'Good Luck' card to someone called Erik, from someone called Tonia, wishing him luck with "'Hair".

If you are either Erik or Tonia, please feel free to offer me an explanation.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Cinema Woes

I see in our local paper that the cinema fiasco of the last 10 years is continuing as the Councillors now decide how to raise the subsidy for it. The clowns in the Lib Dem party seem to think that charging for the town-centre carparks is the fairest way of doing it. The thing is, the reason the whole saga has dragged on for so long is because the same Lib Dems don't want people to drive to the cinema and won't provide the car-parking demanded by the cinema companies.

By this logic, the users of the cinema will all walk, cycle, get the bus, or drive to Reading/Basingstoke where it's cheaper (or free) to park and contribute nothing to the subsidy. It will be those people needing to drive in to town for other reasons who end up paying the bulk of the subsidy, and the extra car parking charges could encourage yet more people from the nearby villages to start shopping elsewhere. Has anyone else noticed that the appeal of Newbury is so low that the 'prime retail outlet' in the refurbished Kennet Centre took 18 months to fill?

Summer at the Seaside

It's been quite a pleasant week thus far. Yesterday Sam and I had a day out on the Dorset coast, in Swanage which is where we used to holiday as kids.

The weather was glorious and we had a fantastic day. We parked outside Swanage itself at the 'Park and Ride' and caught the steam train in to town, which was fun. Highlights of the day included watching a bit of Punch and Judy on the beach, eating an ice-cream, visiting the picturesque village of Corfe (home of the Castle) and paying a visit to the world's greatest fudge shop. Quality.

The weather on Monday was less good, and our planned jaunt to the Isle of Wight was postponed so we went to visit some friends instead which was fun. They have a seven year old who was frighteningly intelligent; she sat around reading and drinking tea, which makes her very cool in my book. I'm not quite sure why - for students it's the norm but for someone of her age it's just not quite what you expect...

Friday, August 19, 2005

Some Political Comment

Recently it's been as though I've been hosting a polite dinner party in my corner of the blogosphere and I've managed to avoid the topics of religion and politics for a while. How boring.

I was watching an episode of Danny Wallace's 'How to Start Your Own Country' which I'd taped whilst away in Norfolk, and I was struck by the guy who wanted to join Danny's country because he was fed up with this one. "The government's bent" he said, and the more I've thought about it the more I've realised he's right. Obviously it's occurred to me before that our government isn't honest (which government is?) but I feel that the current situation is worse than it's ever been.

Let's look at some of the recent goings on.

Firstly there is the issue of immigration. You may recall that Tony and his cronies were quick during the election campaign to slam the Tories for their statistics. They told us it was all exaggerated lies and scaremongering. Oh really, Mr Blair? Recently the truth has emerged and it appears that once again it doesn't fit with the picture painted by the Labour Party.

Then there is the situation with the railways. We've been told that the private sector was incompetent, that the government has been doing all it can and that of course it hasn't been trying to renationalise it by the back door. As if. If you've been following the Railtrack court case and other recent events you will have learnt - from the mouths of key players in some cases - that the private sector had its hands tied by our beloved government, that governmental interference has hindered growth and development and that despite the complete mess made by the SRA the government is taking more direct control. Somebody help us.

I might not have agreed with Robin Cook's policies but I do respect him for standing up for his beliefs and was very sorry to hear of his sudden death the other week. Our Leader on the other hand felt it appropriate to continue spending taxpayer's money on a holiday and didn't attend his funeral. Now of course, like anyone else, Mr Blair is only human and needs his holiday. BUt sometimes exceptions have to be made...

And isn't it just a little worrying when the Deputy PM's past record leads John McCririck to make a quip about avoiding him in case he gets punched?

And what about the mess caused by the communists striking at Heathrow last week? How many families lost out on hard earned holidays? Not Mr Blair of course - he was still sunning himself on a 44ft yacht. But where was the government condemning this illegal strike? Where was the government standing up against those self righteouss people ruining everyone's holiday, deterring them from doing it again?

Quite.

Now you could also ask where have the Tories and the Lib Dems been, and that would be a fair question - worryingly so.

I shall just return to my point at the beginning - this current government has been more crooked and dishonest than any previous government for quite some time. The sooner people stop falling for their lies and spin and we have a change of leadership the better...

Monday, August 15, 2005

Back from Camp

So, here I am. Back in civilisation. I'm absolutely knackered but it's been an amazing week. My role on the camp was to look after one of the tents and its occupants and generally be 'one of the team' heading up the activities. Part of the briefing was to give the kids the best holiday we could, and I hope we succeeded.

I really enjoyed being able to be a kid again and partook in all sorts of activities from crab-fishing to a high ropes course - an assault course at 40ft up in the trees has to be one of the most terrifying things I've done, but it was so rewarding. Needless to say, the kids were fearless...


I lived on six hours sleep a night and my diet somehow included an excess of bananas (blame Q for ordering too many) and Wonka Bars (mmmm). It was also very cold for August, and very windy at times, but that didn't stop us having a good time. The location - a cliff top on the North Sea Coast - was incredible.

Highlights included going on a putting trip with just one kid and a female leader - after getting a few funny looks it dawned on me that we were being mistaken for a family and everyone was doing the maths to ascertain just how we could have had a 9 year old son.

There was also the painted dolphin (one of many) on the cookhouse wall I got to name Milhouse; I've always wanted to give something that name. Then there was the roast dinner in the middle of the night during a storm - surreal. The leadership team was just wonderful - so supportive - and I made so many new friends. One of the guys heading the whole thing up was truly a legend; I think his tattoo sums it up - whilst invigilating an exam he saw an illustration of a scarab beetle and without a second thought, got the paper photocopied, went to the parlour and said "this is what I want". Nice...

The biggest let-down has to be opting to man the "sock shoot" game as part of the "It's a Knockout" competition. It sounded cool, and in preparation for it a scaffolding platform had been erected, complete with a contraption to hang a bucket from it. Imagine then my disappointment when I discovered that the game worked as follows: stand under the bucket, and throw as many old socks in it from the pile provided in the allocated time.

Sadly we ran out of time to play 'Coastguards and Smugglers', which meant that the inhabitants of the beach and the surrounding area did not get to see me sporting a cassock, a Canterbury Cap and some dodgy shades. They were also spared the sight of at least one cross dresser, but credit has to go to the dude who painted his toe-nails in preparation and then had to endure a trip to the swimming pool sporting his new look.

This week it's back to my book (currently Harry Potter I'm ashamed to say, but I feel that it's important to know what all the fuss is about), my physics, and choosing my new bike.

Before I go however, I would like to take this opportunity to confirm for those of you who read the recent tabloid reports that I have size 12 feet.

Friday, August 12, 2005

It's nice to know you can...

Is it more impressive that I can blog from Norfolk or that I can blog from the middle of a camping field? Either way, I'm doing both simultaneously just to prove a point.

Dudes, it's been an awesome week, and details will follow on my return when I'll have a bit more time...

Friday, August 05, 2005

Random Ramblings

Hello folks.

Sorry that my blogging skills have been a bit pants this week; no real excuses I'm afraid. Tomorrow I am going to help for a week on a kids' camp in Norfolk, which will be fun. I'm really looking forward to it but reading through the leader's booklet has made it dawn on me that I am going to have to be responsible - for some 9-14 year olds. Argh. It's quite likely that I will be completely out of contact so I'm afraid that this posting could just be an oasis in the lack of postings desert. Do keep checking though in case I do find an opportunity to share my thoughts next week, and I promise that regular postings will recommence on my return.

Before I go however, I have a few things to post about.

Did anyone see Danny Wallace's "How to Start Your Own Country" on BBC 2 on Wednesday? I thought it was great personally; highlights included a trip to 'Sealand' - an independant state on an old military fort in the North Sea - and an invasion of Eel Pie Island in the River Thames (peaceful of course). Danny really is a man after my own heart, and I'm very jealous of him because he spends his life doing cool things such as travelling the world to meet people called Dave Gorman or starting a cult or a country and gets paid to write books about it.

I read on the BBC News page that one new blog is created every second. Wow the Blogosphere is expanding rapidly. I came across a new blog this week, actually, and it's one of the best I have read yet. Written by my friend Rachel, ShoutsOfJoy is very funny and is well worth a visit.

I am disappointed that no-one has yet answered my question of sport. I know it's one of those 'really puzzling questions without a definite answer' but somebody out there must at least have an opinion. On the subject of 'really puzzling questions without a definite answer' I have another one for you. One of the songs I really like by The Killers is 'Somebody Told Me', which contains the lyric "Somebody told me that you had a boyfriend who looked like a girlfriend that I had in February of last year". I've always wondered if this is more insulting to the boyfriend or girlfriend in question. Opnions please.

Oh, and whilst I'm asking questions, here's one for those of you who know something about bikes. I'm looking at getting a lightwight hybrid bike which I can use for touring and I was wondering what people think of Giant and Claud Butler as brands. Thanks.

Anyway, I'd best go get packed.

Bye for now.

Monday, August 01, 2005

A Question of Sport

Well, not really. But a question nonetheless. I've been wondering from a blokey point of view who gives the best advice when it comes to dating the fairer sex; women or blokes with a lot of experience in that area?

I'd be interested to hear your thoughts, though (surprising as it may seem) I'm not in desperate need of any actual advice at the moment.