Friday, August 1, 2014

The Friday Question

The first of August.

How did it get to August already? No, don't answer that, it's a rhetorical question.

So much has happened, so little has happened. Noisy threats on every horizon. No resolutions. it all takes so much time and energy, and most people don't give a damn and can't be bothered to do anything about anything, which, of course, is why things happen that shouldn't happen.

That's all a bit cryptic, sorry; all too Googleable otherwise, and unlike the Selfie Broadcast Generation, to which I manifestly don't belong, I don't want the attention of the whole world directed onto me.

We survived the visit of Old School Friend BW and her 15 year old son. Contrary to my previous suspicions, it turned out to be the mother who was strange and the son who was the parent. It's odd how some people make the same old mistakes time and time again throughout their lives without learning from them.

I can't bear hypocritical sheep people, who unquestionably believe all they read or are told, or who complain about things but are not prepared to do anything about them, and it was very odd to hear her spouting the same old uninformed stuff she first spouted 40 years ago in the midst of teenage angst. I'm not sure how I kept smiling and being civil, and not challenging her inconsistencies. Probably because I knew it would do no good. Only Mr BW telling me that I shouldn't cut ties of forty years will keep me in contact with her. But in future, it's a couple of hours, occasionally, not a few days. Telling Cleaner BW of a few of the 'problems encountered', she summed it up perfectly. "Sounds to me like a complete lack of respect!" That's respect used in its non-trendy sense, obviously.

I used to love the first of August when I was a Small Witch. The day that was the highlight of the summer holidays. The day when the once-a-year new car registrations came out. Who could spot the most new cars? Nowadays it's a twice-a-year event, and I suspect that most people neither know nor care which those two dates are, let alone play 'spot the new car'. New cars are not news in these days of consumeristic credit-driven have-it-when-you-want-it affluence, after all.

Anyone else remember playing the August 1st spot the New Car Registrations game?


Saturday, July 26, 2014

Day 10 of South Africa in February weather

How can it still be 26°C at 9.15pm?

It was 44°C on the wall thermometer earlier.

It can't last I tell you.


Friday, July 25, 2014

The Friday Questions

How many bottles (etc) do you have visible in your bathroom, and what products do they contain?


Monday, July 21, 2014

One of those dates

A nice number amidst a hot, humid and electric stormy five days (so far).

The thermometer on the outside wall got to 48°C on Saturday. I can't even go in the polytunnel as it's unbearable.

The fan's been working all night every night. And long may the fan last as there isn't a new one to be had anywhere within a 30 mile radius, I'm told. The last time I was anywhere this humid was when we were in Singapore, ten years ago. I love hot, but this humidity is just drainning.

Mr BW has been making a new wood store. I know of houses that are built less well.

I have been dyeing with a group of others and wondering at the stupidity and selfishness of some people. If you saw a needle attached to a sewn and drawn piece of fabric in a dyebath, would you remove it, realising that someone had inadvertently forgotten to cut it off, or would you just leave it, and later tell people that you'd seen it and left it?

Tomorrow Old School Friend BW and her (rather strange) 15 year old son arrive to spend a few days here. Wish me luck.


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

New directions

Michael Gove, arguably the most disliked Secretary of State for Education ever (certainly in the 30 years I've worked in education), ousted by the teachers' strike (which was, I suspect, at least as much about his inability to listen and understand the challenges of attempting to educate the selfish consumeristic overly-connected under-disciplined monsters of today than about eroding conditions and pensions), now put in charge of MPs' behaviour and attendance. You couldn't make it up.

Mind you, the new incumbent is an ex-lawyer, god-squad, anti-abortion, and voted against same-sex marriage, so the rejoicing might be short-lived and misguided. She'd make the perfect Republican, no?

We acquired a TdF sign. Unlike some others, we're not going to be selling it on eBay for £39.99 plus postage.

It was a pretty standard flourescent yellow arrow. Until I turned it over.

Now it has a lovely story and a social history. I wonder what the story was (is?)?

Also currently for sale on eBay - I swear that some people would sell their grannies if they could - one cyclist's used-once water bottle, as found in our garden (how it got over a 10 feet tall hedge I have no idea):

I do wonder about sponsorship sometimes. And what it is that is biodegradable.


Sunday, July 13, 2014

This weekend we have...

...been to a Diamond Wedding Lunch Party for Mr BW's Aunt and Uncle,

been to a Wedding Party for some friends in Soggy Suffolk, which luckily dried out just in time:

That had the best wedding cake ever:

That was Saturday.

Today we went to the 60th Anniversary of the Routemaster celebrations in Finsbury Park:

Standard photo:

My bus:

I have some fantastic pictures of that event which I am fairly sure no-one else will have. All will be revealed later in the week, when I have recovered from what was, for me, far too much exertion.

I also have some interesting photos of the TdF. Ditto above.

I have also discovered that I have more than a talent for undercover wedding photos. Given that the official photographer at that wedding charged over two grand (*shudders*), I've decided to offer myself as an undercover guest, to take the photos that no-one else would or could, at a fraction of the price. It's probably already being done?


Friday, July 11, 2014


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

When will you die?

Accidents notwithstanding, research now shows that it could be when your stem cells are tired.

I think we all need to start stockpiling them.

Damn, that was my stem cells, not tomato soup, that I defrosted for dinner...


Monday, July 7, 2014

Aerial images...

I was wrong - the commercial break in the coverage was while they were coming through the next village up.

They missed filming past The Coven by somewhere between two and four seconds, showing, as they were, an aerial shot from one of the 5 (or maybe 6, we lost count) helicopters that were flying overhead at the time the cyclists were flashing past us:

We're a couple of hudred yards off to the bottom left of the picture (but, at least we now know where our b33s are currently working - those fields of b0rage are invisible from any surrounding roads). That's a photo taken from our recorded TV coverage.

I had lots of fun shouting at the gendarmes (there can't have been many left in France - and there certainly weren't any police motorcyclists left to work anywhere else in our county) and supporting vehicles in French.

Oh, and, as the sponsors' trucks that came through a couple of hours before weren't throwing out many freebies (as there were very few people down our bit of the lane), I found that they responded rather nicely to "Les cadeaux?" That said, the only useful things hurled were two packets of seeds, disguised as matches.

There were some great floats.

This one was my favourite (I think there were 3 in the series, each with Miffy wearing a differently coloured dress):

Lots of the French vehicles had registration plates starting 'DG':

That's either a dream come true or a hangover waiting to happen, depending on your point of view:

Probably a safer bet, on a warm sunny day (the weather was lovely near us, but it started to rain as they reached London. It's only just started to drizzle here now):

What a great summer job that must be: 3 weeks travelling around the UK and France, smiling and waving at people:

We were utterly amazed at how many cars with roofracks full of bikes there were - easily three bikes for every competitor. And the speed with which all these vehicles raced down the road was astonishing. I wasn't aware that they were allowed to ignore the speed limits, but they clearly were. 60+mph rather than 40mph. It was scary.

Having left Cambridge at 12.15pm, the first two riders (Bideau and Barta) were over 3 minutes ahead of the peloton when they reached us at about a quarter to two.

The blur in the pictures captures the speed with which the whole shebang passed. I still can't quite believe that it went within millimetres of my feet.

Towards the back of the peloton it was a glorious muddle of support cars, camera bikes and stragglers weaving around all over the road.

The road isn't wide enough to overtake, but they were managing it somehow. Some of them even overtaking as the driver handed one of his team riders a drink. I'm amazed no-one was injured.

We invited our elderly neighbour (88) to sit outside with us to watch. I'm still trying to work out whether he was more amazed at what I was doing while waiting, at the fact that we watched the progress of the race down through all the villages from Cambridge on Mr BW's iPad (he doesn't even have TV), or at the spectacle of the whole thing.

A once in a lifetime event, for sure.

We're ready...

Carrying on from yesterday's story about the Irishmen resurfacing the wrong piece of road, the Eastern Europeans responsible for closing the road at 7.30am managed to close the wrong piece of road and our neighbour had to give them a lesson in how to read their map.

The post came at 6.35am. Strange, because the Delivery Office Manager has told me on numerous occasions that it is impossible to get it here before noon, and sometimes it is as late as 4pm. Of course, the postie is a fanatical cycling fan...

There have been lots of cyclists through here this morning, and some media vans. I shouted, "You're too early!" at one lycra-clad soul, and he replied, "No, I'm the leader!" Excellent riposte, I thought, but not as good as the quick thinker a few weeks ago. There have been, literally, thousands of cyclists down here since the route was announced (presumably all wanting to pre-ride for 'boasting on the day' purposes). Now, the problem is, they all shout at the tops of their voices at each other as they ride past. If I'm working in the garden, I shout back, in my best SchoolWitch voice, "QUIETLY!" The quick thinker said, "Oh look, a talking hedge!"

Let me know if you see us on the telly:

Did you notice (top picture) how we've co-ordinated our chairs to the theme?
We try, we do try.


Sunday, July 6, 2014

I want to ride my bicycle, I want to ride my bike...

What an amazing weekend for sport.

I'm no great fan of sport, but, this afternoon I managed to watch the Tour of Yorkshire, the British Grand Prix and latter sets of the mens' Wimbledon final, as well as listening to Johnny Walker's 70s show on Radio 2 in the background.

Tomorrow we are under House Arrest from 7.30am to 5pm. Or rather, Lane Arrest. It's stopping us getting out to the Hampton Court Flower Show Gala tomorrow evening. The first time for about 10 years that we will miss it.

In the next village up, they have hundreds of metres of crowd control barriers - last seen at the Olympics two years ago, judging by the magenta coloured bits still adorning them.

These signs have been up for several weeks, and I only worked out on Friday that they weren't about a new revenue generation project in the county. That's another web address that just doesn't work.

Note how we haven't trimmed our hedge, and there are some nasty brambles to deter spectators from taking over our verge.

My money is on the ride past our house happening during a commercial break. There are enough of them after all.

Our b33 hives are about 6 feet from where the cyclists will pass. I'm wondering whether a nice swarm would liven up the proceedings... Alternatively, after the second huge extraction of the year yesterday, maybe a h0ney spill across the road...

Actually, given that the Irish tarmac crew managed to resurface the wrong piece of road (despite me, and four other people, separately telling them, in plenty of time for them to have checked with someone), the road surface itself should provide the cyclists with plenty of excitement.

We may be missing Hampton Court, but at least the Debster Lily is out. Bigger than ever this year. Nasty religious bird in the background there. Poor D'Oves.

The clematis are spectacular this year too.

Oh, OK, I know that some of you are only here for the kitten pics:


Friday, July 4, 2014

Like cutting-edge science and technology and innovation?

If you're in or near London before Sunday at 5pm, do visit the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition (near Queenie's House; nearest tube: Piccadilly or Charing Cross; entry free).

As well as the universe-expanding Gaia and Rosetta projects, other interactive exhibits include:

  • Growing people new teeth from their cheek cells (should be possible within 20 years I was told)
  • The Higgs boson (discovered 2 years ago today - how is that 2 years already?)
  • Dogs that can smell cancer and diabetes
  • Using gold to sterilise greywater in small-scale in-house installations for domestic re-use (this is one of my Soap Box Standards, and the researcher from Cardiff that I spoke to also doesn't understand why all new buildings don't have to have greywater storage/reusage facilities)
  • Leaf-cutting ant antibiotics (featured on R4 earlier in the week)
  • Treating cancer with protons instead of photons (much less damage to surrounding tissue - problem: equipment has to be much larger due to the Laws of Physics and machines cost £80M cf the current £2M)
  • Determining the genetics of crickets' hearing/noise and (separately) butterflies' patterning
  • Exploring road crash dynamics
  • Investigating neural networks
  • Using cameras in novel ways - eg to see light travelling

Loads of mad scientists (mostly bright young things - and grief, didn't they look young and weren't they keen) and loads of secondary school groups when we arrived at around 1pm yesterday. It quietened down a lot after 3pm.

The Higgs boson guys are amazing. They even had knitted balls. I was talking to one from CERN - a French speaker, and asked him what was his area of research. While he searched for the right words to explain, he gestured towards his knitted balls. He paused for one second too long: "You research knitting?" I said. "Can I have a job?"

Even if you can't get to the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition in London, there's lots of fascinating information behind the pictures on the exhibition website here.

And if you're not keen on looking to the future, but are in London, it's still worth going as the Royal Society building is quite nice, and you can get free cloth bags and free pencils (the Higgs Boson ones have multiple colours in their 'lead').

Unfortunately, it did take us 4 hours to do the usual one and a half hour journey home as we got stuck on the M11. But not in glue as was initially reported on the radio. Both carriageways were completely closed between J7 at Harlow and J8 at Stansted. This happened shortly after 5.15pm and we (unknowingly) got to beyond J6 (M25 turn-off) at 5.40pm. Both carriageways were still shut this morning.

The chemical-carrying lorry overturned from the north onto the south carriageway. Given that no other vehicle was involved, one can only speculate as to why. I wonder whether the driver was texting at the time? I see several incidences of that every time we go out. It's time that there was somewhere official that one could send photos of people using mobile phones while driving.

Posted at 10:01 AM | Comments (10)