Friday, 31 January 2014

Plagiarism? You Decide in Bradford or Yuma!

Parliamentary questions have been asked!

Hay went to Bradford yesterday. In the evening we watched the 2007 version of "3:10 to Yuma" on NetFlix. The gang rode into Yuma and Hay said; "That's like Bradford - a few houses and a wasteland, but you'd need to add a few mosques to Yuma." A bit unfair, I opined.

Noticed a continuity error - Russell Crowe was meant to have been on the road for a number of days, but when he lifted his head back there was a shaving line on his 5 day stubble as sharp as a Sabatier.

If you have ever watched the film, you'll see ZZ Top (or at least the bearded ones) make a guest appearance at the end when Russell boards the train.

I do wish Peter Fonda would do a sequel to Easy Rider.

Did some experimentation yesterday - I'd bought some beeswax on eBay and mixed it with olive oil in a bain Marie, producing furniture wax (1:3 ratio of wax to oil) and moustache wax for my emergent King George V (equal measures of wax and oil). May switch to coconut oil for the 'tache wax to avoid smelling like a Hepplewhite chair.

Getting heartily fed up with this BT Infinity service - it's been 8 days now since it was installed, and I've had 3 chats with BT customer services, 2 home visits and it's still dropping out 10 times in every 24 hours. Apparently it's a common complaint. Not much use if you work on-line to a database and lose all your work when the router trips!

Actually (reverting to the film), the town wasn't Yuma - that's where the train was going to....

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Ferrety Grimness of Scottish Holiday Red Tape

Hay went Oop North to Lancashire yesterday. She swears blind she went through:

  1. Clayton le Grim,
  2. Grimpool,
  3. Newton le Grim,
  4. Lytham St Grim,
  5. Blackgrim and
  6. Ashton in Grim.
She also met with a woman called Grimshaw. I'd hate it is she visited Yorkshire and went to Grimethorpe and Grimsby....

I asked her whether, as an honorary northerner, I could keep a ferret.

If Scottish independence is the solution, what's the problem? Seems Alex Salmond ain't too sure, as there are a number of aspects of the Union he wants to retain, the currency being a biggie. Seems to me that there is no problem and this is just a gut feeling vote, rather than one based on facts or issues.

Why are people so angry about holiday prices going up during the school summer holidays and what on earth do they think the government can do about it, especially given foreign holiday prices are not controlled from the UK?

Holiday accommodation and flights are subject to the laws of the market - supply and demand. If you have difficulty filling your hotel or villa at a particular time of year, you naturally charge less; conversely if there's a high demand (like during school holidays) you charge more. It's how a free market works. Stupidity and naivety - a phenomenon closely aligned to the mob mentality - is a wonderful thing to behold.

I hear Cameron wants to get rid of red tape. Guess I'm going to have to use the clear stuff in future...

Tuesday, 28 January 2014


It's all very well these people in the Somerset Levels complaining about being flooded out since Christmas, but let's get things into perspective; I haven't had more than an hour of uninterrupted internet access since having BT Infinity installed last Thursday.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

DIY Reupholstery

Local upholsterer's quote - £195 and a 3 month waiting list. More than the cost of the chair in the first place!

DIY solution, £20 of materials from eBay, an old foam pad and a couple of hours graft. Well satisfied with the result.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Overheard in Various Places

This damned fibre optic internet is still being a pain. I was lucky to get more than 15 minutes of continuous on-line time yesterday. Hopefully today the line will settle down and stabilise.

Seeing as it was her Birthday New Year's Eve last night, I took Hay out for a meal.

Overheard in the pub:

Hay: "Basically, once they get to your age, there are two kinds of men; the sad ones who try too hard (going to the gym and obviously aren't suited to it), and the genuine slobs."

Chairman: "What about me?"

Hay: "Among the two types of men are such diverse elements as the try-too-hard, the slob....and the deluded - oh damn! Among the three types of men are such diverse elements as ....."

Later, while watching "Witness" at home:

Hay: "How can Harrison Ford make drinking a glass of lemonade look sexy? Among the three types of men are such diverse elements as the try-too-hard, the slob, the deluded.... and Harrison Ford - oh damn! Among the four types of men are such diverse elements as ....."

Later still:

Hay: "Kelley McGllis is about to abandon her faith."

Chairman:"Did you abandon your faith when you met me?"

Hay: "I abandoned by bloody senses!"

Friday, 24 January 2014


Had fibre internet installed yesterday. 

You'd think it would be fibre right up to the router, but no, they leave the copper in your house alone, and right up to the nearest community junction box. Only after that does it become fibre. 

Obviously copper can carry high speed internet when it's just a few users, but once main trunking gets involved, copper can't handle the capacity.

One thing they don't tell you when you make the switch is that it can take 3 days for the line to settle, with constant disconnections in the meantime - so if you're thinking of making the switch, don't do it when you need the internet most. I was lucky to get 3 emails off yesterday.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Overheard Oop North

Overheard last night while Hayley was investigating the place she has to visit up north today.

Hay: "I just looked at the place on Google Street View - it's not a hospital as I know it, it looks more like a scrap yard. There's barbed wire all over the place."

Chairman: "It's what we northerners call an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty."

Hay: "I'd better take some lard with me as currency."

Monday, 20 January 2014

The Colin Bookcase

We decided to have another full height bookcase made by Colin to provide more book space and balance the front of the house - he's been here for the last three weekdays building it.

IKEA has the Billy bookcase; we have the Colin bookcase!

Navigating the Frome

What with the River Frome in full spate since the rains, Hayley has taken it into her head to kayak down it from Old Sodbury to Yate. 

Walking the banks of the Frome is a regular exercise walk for us, so I'll give you a guided tour.

Above is the Old Sodbury dry dock.

Chipping Sodbury landing stage.

The Waitrose sluice.

Chipping Sodbury white water rapids.

A view upstream from Brook St Bridge.

And downstream.

Getting a bit slower here on the outskirts of Chipping Sodbury and approaching Yate.

Unfortunately you just can't see the waterfall in the distance on the right (well, not on this photo, unless you enlarge and look carefully. Locally it's known as The Smoke that Thunders. The bridge I took this from is now known as Depth Charge Bridge, as that's the point at which I accidentally dropped my electronic ciggie into the water yesterday while fumbling around. Just thankful it wasn't my mobile phone!

And crossing the bridge, heading back upstream. You can regularly see container vessels here heading upstream to Tormarton container terminal.

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Eton Flood Land Builder

It had to happen; a UKIP councilor has blamed the recent floods on gay marriage and God's consequent wrath. What a nutter - we all know the floods were caused by God's anger at the bankers! In any case, flooded Somerset Levels and flood plains aren't exactly on par with Noah's flood.

Overheard in a conversation with the builder:

Colin, our neighbour and builder, is currently making us another roof-height bookcase to match the one he made last year (for the other side of the double doors).

Chairman: "Colin, what was that glue you used to stick the skirting to the walls? I can't remember the name - I think it had the word nails in it. It was really sticky."

Colin: "Sticky as shit?"

Overheard talking to a friend Hayley was showing the house to::

Hay: "Well, we own that field and we've put in for outline planning permission. We don't intend building on the land during our lifetime though."

Chairman: "If not our lifetime, whose bloody lifetime could it possibly be?"

It was the lovely Hayley's 49th birthday yesterday, so I treated myself to an Eton Mess on Friday night when I took her out for Birthday's Eve.

Saturday, 18 January 2014

TV Trivia for Messiahs

I hear Channel 4's TV programme, Benefits Street, had a working title.

A nun in Italy has just had a baby - isn't that meant to signify something special?

Friday, 17 January 2014

Electricity Update

Well, over the last few weeks:

  1. Generation from the solar PV has started to increase again (green line and left hand scale), with
  2. A consequent decrease in electricity overall consumed (red line and left hand scale), and
  3. In about a week I'll have used up all the feed-in I generated last year (blue shaded area and right hand scale).
The black line is the consumption less the feed-in - so net consumption.

I estimate that I'll be paying only for the next 3 months usage of electricity (which will be decreasing on a daily basis), with the previous 9 months having been free due to the solar panels. That's an annual saving of around £1,000 on a £12k outlay.

A 12 year payback is a little on the long side, but then I should have another 13 years of profit, providing the government of the day doesn't renege on the £0.43 feed-in tarrif, which is not beyond the bounds of feasibility.

Solar panels will only become cheaper and more efficient, and there may be a time when it will be worth swapping them out for newer and more productive panels.

Click to enlarge

Thursday, 16 January 2014

This is the News

The news here in the UK is becoming less informative and more tabloid, in my opinion, and no longer worth watching.

Relatives of a hospital patient accuse the hospital of killing him through neglect - they need someone to blame. Pathologist says there's no evidence of neglect whatsoever. Non story, but mud sticks.

Woman whose village is marooned by floods in the Somerset Levels complains her daughter's 3rd birthday party had to be postponed as no-one could get to it and demands the government does something about it. Non story about a pushy, middle-class woman and her self-obsession.

The entire male British world of acting, TV and radio is up before court accused of sexual harassment in the 60s.

It's endless!

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

French Fancies

I'm a tad confused about this story about Francois Hollande.

Valerie Trierweiler is described as Hollande's partner, not wife. In other words, she's his girlfriend. If he decides to get a new girlfriend, how can that be described as an affair? He's simply got himself 2 girlfriends, surely?

It's not as if he doesn't have form in this area; Trierweiler supplanted Ségolène Royal, after all, although he did have kids with Royal.

Monday, 13 January 2014

More Beardy Focaccia Thoughts on Northern Assassin Jamie

Hay: "I'm not sure about this new beard style - I preferred you with a fluffy Father Christmas beard. This one makes you look much older than you are."

Chairman: "It's still a work in progress - it's going to look like James Robertson Justice's beard."

Hay: "And how old is he?"

Chairman: "He's dead!"

Hay: "See what I mean?"

Later, while watching the film "Munich".

Chairman: "Shall I get a 2nd job as an assassin?"

Hay: "No, you'd stomp around like a bull in a china shop and keep forgetting where you put your gun."

Even later we were watching Jamie Oliver's latest TV show last night and from his size I'm sure his next money making venture is going to be "Jamie's Diet", or "Jamie's Work-Out".

Later still, when watching a program about Guy Martin trying to break the Human Powered Aircraft record.

Chairman: "Well, if Guy needs to generate 500W to get airborne, why can't they hook up his brain, as you can generate 50W just by thinking?"

Hay: "Not in his case; he's a northerner, so he'll be lucky to be generating 5W by thinking. Crackin'!."

I've moved on to sourdough garlic and rosemary focaccia in the artisan range of Chairman's breads:

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Criminal Driving

I was driving along the M4 yesterday morning in the pitch black at about 6:30 on the way to my office in Southampton and nearly ran into the back of a dark coloured BMW with no lights. 

 Flashed the driver repeatedly, but he ignored me. Eventually I pulled alongside him and waved frantically, but he simply shrugged his shoulders. 

 Perhaps his lights had failed, but he was being criminally insane by carrying on (presumably to the next junction) rather than pulling over to the hard shoulder immediately. Nutter!

Friday, 10 January 2014

The Fabulous Baker Chairman

Mmm - getting better and better at this artisan thing.

And very little sugar - one tablespoon per loaf......

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Love It!

Spotted this on Facebook.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Overheard During Investment Tip

What with all this talk of Amazon wanting to use UAV drones to deliver parcels (although some may say they already use drones), I'm thinking of buying shares in BSA Guns and YouTube.

Warning - remember, the value of your investment can go down as well as up.

Overheard in a casual conversation:

Bloke: "Pink Floyd? Oh yes, one hit wonders with that Hole in the Wall thing."

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Beard Dilemma

I have a dilemma - I want to cultivate the beard into a King George V beard, and am growing it longer than normal in preparation for shaping, yet a recent incident at IKEA is making me think about shaving the damned thing off.

A woman and her young son of about 7 were headed toward me in the IKEA car park, the son swinging a long pole around, which I had to duck to avoid. His mother said: "Be careful David, you nearly hit that elderly gentleman."

Elderly? I'm 58, for God's sake!

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Wall Art

Went for dinner last night to the Ragged Cot in Minchinhampton and spotted this lovely piece of wall art. First prize of a Mars Bar to anyone who can tell what it is.

Also spotted this yesterday.

OK, so there are some trees growing inside (in fact, it's only the trees that are keeping part of the roof trusses up) and it's indeterminate as to whether it has any foundations, but it could feasibly be our next building project...

Friday, 3 January 2014

Soaking Oven Abuse

Overheard when coming into the house after putting the Christmas tree on the bonfire up the field:

Chairman: "Good grief - I just got soaked. A sudden shower caught me."

Hay: "Where did it come from?"

Chairman: "Above!"

Apparently many young people feel they have nothing to live for - no jobs, no money, no life. I guess it's a foregone conclusion when you consider oldies now have to work till they're well into their 70s before they can get a state pension, so there are no jobs being vacated for the young. You can't even force the oldies out anymore when they do get their pensions.

The only ones able to retire at a reasonable age and vacate jobs are those with company or private pensions, and they generally are in jobs or professions where you need an education or lots of experience. A degree in drama studies or a GCSE in DT just doesn't cut the mustard.

Was reading one of Jamie Oliver's recipes for left-over turkey and leek pie. He starts off by asking you to pre-heat the oven to 190 degrees and then launches into at least 30 minutes of preparation before you even put anything near the the damned oven. What is he using, for God's sake - a wood burning oven? Either that or he has his own solar farm.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

The Great Old Sodbury Bakeoff

Apropos of yesterday's post about Paul Hollywood - who by all accounts is trying to smooth things over with Mrs Hollywood following his straying from the path of marital fidelity - I tried a slant on one of his breads yesterday.

Paul does a Roquefort sourdough bread, which is only available through Harrods and sells at the ridiculous price of £15 per half loaf. It's touted as the world's most expensive bread.

Not having any Roquefort to hand, but acres of Stilton left over from Crimbo, I made a Stilton sourdough. I also took the precaution of prooving the dough in the shed to increase the rising time and allow the flavours to develop more fully. It wasn't anywhere as cheesy as I suspected it might be - just the merest hint of Stilton.

Over the Crimbly period I bought an old 1970s Kenwood 901 on eBay, along with gazillions of attachments - one seller was getting rid of a whole treasure trove of bits. I chose the 901 as I'm led to believe they keep going forever and are a fraction of the price of the equivalent KitchedAid Artisan, which looks beautiful but is more a designer lifestyle statement (such that even 2nd hand ones are as expensive as new). Delivery should be any day now.

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

The Name's Hollywood - Ultra Violet Hollywood

Oh dear - bit of a faux pas. Paul Hollywood trying to look as cool as James Bond, but with a clip on bow tie. Doesn't quite work - well, he is a Scouser...

He looks perma-tanned, doesn't he? All this increase in skin cancers. I remember as a kid in primary school being lined up to receive God knows how many rads of ultra violet radiation. We'd all the sat there on benches in our underwear and plimsols. Could that be the cause of the increase?

Happy New Year to anyone who bothers to read this drivel.