Sunday, July 27, 2008


Busy Bees

After a Springwatch program a few years ago, we bought a bee home (which we could have made, admittedly). We hadn't seen much active until this year when I noticed inside one of the bamboo tubes making crunching noises. A week or so later I've had a look to see if there have been any changes and the first thing I noticed was a green plug in one of the tubes:

And - after waiting for the bee to buzz off - here's the back (the red asterix is the tube filled in the front view; the orange asterix is near a tube leaking gloop):

Here's our busy worker returned to add more green plaster to one of the tubes not quite filled enough at the back:

And then 45 minutes later the bee is round the front:


Thursday, July 24, 2008


Off to Morrisons

As part of my job I sometimes get to travel to a range of exotic destinations to see customers or attend technical events. Istanbul, Copenhagen, Stokholm ... Bradford.

The city does, though, look nice in the centre with some new areas with restaurants and bars. I did try out the Tulsi vegetarian Indian restaurant - still pretty new and only had all-you-can-eat buffet as they weren't geared up yet to provide a full menu. One side of the restaurant is plate glass so you can watch the world go by. Unfortunately the world can decide that you are a captive audience for japery. Whilst sitting at my table I could see a couple of guys walking along laughing, one holding an empty glass. I thought to myself "don't react if they do anything" - and I didn't when their glass shattered into tiny pieces against the window.

Monday, July 21, 2008


Rock Band Rocks

I really love playing Rock Band but I wish my little finger could handle the strain. Half an hour of blue-note mashing definitely leaves it sore. Maybe I'll have to learn to play left-handed just to give the poor digit a rest.


Sunday, July 20, 2008


Xbox support - solving problems through deterrent

A couple of weeks ago I wanted to redeem a 4200 point card on Xbox Live. Simple enough - scratch the card and type the code in - but XBL kept saying "no, check the code, dummy". Being faced with calling Xbox support for help, I did what any sane person would do - put the card back in its case and went off to do something else.

Today I finally plucked up the courage to contact Xbox support. First, though, I decided to test the card one more time so I could get the error message up on the screen to save time. When the card went through without error, tears of relief rolled down my face - saved!


Thursday, July 17, 2008


A big fan of rooftops

Strolling out of Kensington Olympia Station you can't fail to see these on the skyline.

But whose are they? And why are they there?

Google Earth (or Live Maps, if you will) seems to label the building as Plum Bar & Grill at the Hilton on Russell Road.

Monday, July 14, 2008


All change in London

Strolling from the train station to the training centre, I'm looking for things that are out of the ordinary.

Here's a recycled methodist church - I hope the old congregation didn't take the change lying down.

And the last remnant of a school is the segregated entrance in the old wall, now protecting a social housing development.

Sunday, July 13, 2008


What on Earth is an Adzuki and Edamame Bean salad?

Always on the look out for weird and wonderful stuff in Waitrose, especially if there is a Red Sticker that shows it's reduced-to-clear (and therefore now affordable to mere mortals like myself) so I snapped up an Adzuki and Edamame Bean salad.

Looking through the packaging details, I'm none the wise, and examining the actual contents doesn't help either, so I resorted to the Internet.

Basically, it's a salad using the two most popular beans in Japan - Azuki (小豆) or "Red Bean" and
Edamame (枝豆) which are baby soybeans.

Saturday, July 12, 2008


Amphibian relocation scheme

During the bagging up of all the garden waste from the last few years, we managing to find (and not step on) five frogs, three toads and a newt. Hopefully that was ALL of them and there aren't any in the black sacks thinking "dark in here".
All have been safely moved under an amphibian relocation scheme to the end of the garden where there is a shaded area set aside for mini wildlife (overgrown with some rotting logs, etc.)

Common Frog - Rana temporaria

Common Toad - Bufo bufo - with two common frogs

Smooth or Common Newt - Triturus vulgaris



The garden as never seen before

Well, not for a couple of years anyway.

Unfortunately I didn't take a "BEFORE" picture. Basically there was a huge mound of wood, branches and twigs which had accumulated since the fence last blew down, the front garden tree was cut down and the bushes were cut back.

Now, 20 sacks later...

and a pile of wood...

it's ready!

Although we're not sure what for yet.

Friday, July 11, 2008


Imaginative Cooking

I was leafing through Sue's copy of Psychologies (one of those magazines with lots of articles on self-help that you would think could help both sexes but is firmly marketed at women) and found a little list for an "Imagination Workout". This included "cooking a meal without a recipe" so I did:

Fry together:
an onion, chopped
generous tea spoon of Thai magic paste (Garlic/Coriander/Pepper)
an orange pepper/capsicum, chopped
shredded pieces of Serrano ham

a jar of Kung Po stir fry sauce
baby broad beans

straight to wok noodles
white fish

Best part of this recipe? No one else would touch it so it was all for me :-)
Johnny doesn't share his food.

Sunday, July 06, 2008


GuilFest 08 - Learn something new every day

I had to check with my newbie boss as he hails from down under - the middle flag represents the Australian Aborigines. I've no idea if the Aussies do a good steak - I had a massive packed lunch to get through earlier in the day instead.



GuilFest 08 - From The Jam

Just like last year when I say From The Jam in Reading, this was an enjoyable set. All the songs I wanted to hear were here - in fact, FTJ are really on a permanent "greatest hits" tour as the set list was almost identical. If you look at this list, drop the encores and swap "Strange Town" for "Life From A Window" then you will have what they played in Guildford. Which makes me slightly sad - although you want them to keep playing the hits, you want them to write some more songs to perfom to get away from being a tribute band to themselves. Of course, anything new they DO write won't necessarily work - it isn't 1977 anymore.

From The Jam



GuilFest 08 - Funny Hat

What's the world coming to when people are having to pay to wear bollards on their heads instead of simply stealing them off the streets. It's the beginning of the end.



GuilFest 08 - Comedy Tent

Ian CanterburyPierre Hollins

Michael Fabbri

Paul F Taylor

Robin Ince

Colin Cole

Paul Kerensa

This is a photo off Paul's website as I ... err... forgot to take a photo.
I must have been laughing too loud. That's it.


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GuilFest 08 - Boss Hoss

"All the way from Berlin, Mississippi!" Well, not exactly, as the band started up 4 years ago in Berlin, Germany.
That nation seems to have a thing for C&W music - remember the German Eurovision entry in 2006, Texas Lightning (declared honorary Texans by the Texas Senate)?

If you're a fan of Hayseed Dixie then their style of music should be pretty familiar - perform regular hits in a country and western style ("we have both kinds, country and western"). The big difference is that the former look like a bunch of moon-shiners whilst the latter wouldn't look out of place at a rodeo.

Their set didn't shake my faith in Hayseed Dixie as the best purveyor of this style of music. Hoss Boss seemed too practiced and not spontaneous enough (maybe festivals aren't good for that, especially today when attendence was low) and I didn't particularly like the lead singer (reminded me of a rat-faced troublemaker from a western).

Track list:
# Stallion Batallion
# Rodeo Radio
# Hey Ya (Outkast)
# Hey Joe (Jimi Hendrix)
# Yee Haw
# {missed the title}

Boss Burns (Alec Völkel) does vocals and plays the washboard

Hoss Power (Sascha Vollmer) does vocals and plays acoustic guitar

Russ T. Rocket (Stefan Buehler) plays electric guitar

Ernesto Escobar de Tijuana (Tobias Fischer) does percussion

Frank Doe (Ansgar Freyberg) plays drums

Hank Williamson (Malcolm Arison) plays mandoline, washboard and harp

Guss Brooks (André Neumann) plays acoustic bass



GuilFest 08 - Funny Sign

Well, I found it funny.


Friday, July 04, 2008 IT Blog Awards 08

Somebody has put my technical blog forward for the IT Blog Awards 08 which are for IT blogs in the UK.
Somehow I’ve been shortlisted in the Company category so, if you have a spare moment or two, please feel free to vote as you see fit. :-)
I realise that I’m up against Eileen “million-hits-a-month” Brown but a man can dream.


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