Saturday, 29 November 2014


There haven't been enough Overheards of late.

Overheard while getting dressed:

Hay: "One of the girls from work is going off to have a baby..."

Chairman: "Where is she getting it from?"

Hay: "Oh, I don't know - Waitrose I suppose".

Chairman: "Is it for Christmas?"

Hay: ".....Anyway, she was telling me about a friend of hers who had two boys who she and her husband gave the forenames Bob Dylan and Jimi Hendrix. They insisted on being called by their full forenames until they reached the age where it became embarrassing and are now called simply Bob and Jimmy."

Chairman: "If our parents had adopted that protocol, you'd be Hayley Mills Dash and I'd be Philip Duke of Edinburgh van Bergen".

Friday, 28 November 2014

Southmead Update & Prejudice at Lidl

On Wednesday I had to take No.1 Son to Southmead Hospital again to have his orthodontic brace adjusted. Still couldn't get a parking place immediately and had to wait for about 15 minutes before someone vacated a space, sending No.1 Son into the hospital on his own (which was not an issue at his age, but I don't like sitting in a car waiting for a car parking space to become available).

When I finally got in I was amazed by what I saw; it wasn't so much a hospital as a facsimile of an airport terminal. Instead of departments they have 'gates' and there's a huge, atrium / departure lounge that functions as a main thoroughfare. It really is spectacular and must have cost an absolute fortune. Can't help feeling though that they should have used less space for the atrium and more for a multi-storey car park.

I buy quite a bit of stuff on eBay and occasionally have cause to communicate with sellers, or even buyers of things I'm selling. When I get responses like; "hi there, the old 2 pin plug has 250v on it, so im not sure, thanks, dan," I can't help but get a preconceived impression of the person I'm communicating with. Surely people are taught in school how to use capital letters and punctuation - they are the next thing you learn after mastering stringing letters together to make words. Is it prejudice on my part, a failure of the British education system or just sloppiness on the part of the seller? Perhaps a mix of all three.

Apparently Lidl is selling perfume that's indistinguishable from Chanel. Had a whiff of it yesterday morning and suspect people mean it smells like The Channel.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Dedicated Follower of Fashion

Last week, against my better judgement, Hay managed to persuade me to buy some "fashion trousers". She maintains they look good on me, but they are torture to wear.

These contraptions have a very narrow leg, such that my rugby player calves are gripped in a vice of trouser material. The result is that after sitting down the legs go to half mast and you constantly have to adjust the length.

The waist is about 3 inches lower than the waist on my normal trousers, with the result that after sitting down the arse drops several inches and I look like one of those cruddy kids who delight in showing off their underwear and having droopy arses in their trousers. Not a fetching look.

Once you put something in your pocket, it's there permanently until such time as you take your trousers off in order to be able to get your hand in the pocket.

Number ones is a bloody nightmare. For a start the base of the fly is several inches higher than normal, meaning your flow is restricted due to having to first arrange your plumbing so as to overcome the dog's leg and risking having a nasty dribble accident once you replace your plumbing. Additionally, you have to roll your tackle up on replacing it, or at least fold it, in order to overcome the dire lack of tackle space.

Never again will I buy "fashion trousers". I need volume - the more the merrier. Same goes for jocks - they have to be voluminous boxers of the old Marks and Sparks variety, which I haven't seen for about 10 years.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

I'll Pick a Rose for My Rose at Christmas

Can't help but think there's something rather distasteful and juvenile about certain pop stars having a dig at Bob Geldoff about the latest incarnation of "Do They Know it's Christmas". Seems excuses to denigrate it become more fanciful by the day, ranging from parts of Africa being Moslem (the song is aimed at the UK population, for heaven's sake), the song suggesting Africa can't sort out its own problems (which it very obviously can't) to Africa isn't one country (you don't say, Sherlock).

The latter half of November and the roses are budding.

Don't you just love that global warming?

Tuesday, 25 November 2014


A few months back I took a photo of a Spitfire Merlin engine rocker cover at The Ragged Cot pub in Minchinhampton, and very nice it was too.

Over the weekend I bought a Spitfire Griffon 65 rocker cover on eBay, intending to burnish it and turn it into a similar display. 

The Griffon was a later Spitfire engine and much larger than the Merlin, being 37 litres compares to the Merlin's 27.

Perhaps not as iconic as the Merlin, the Griffon was nevertheless crucial in keeping the Spitfire ahead of German air technology and speed. I have to admit that the Merlin rocker box looks more retro and beefy, having a few more contours.

Monday, 24 November 2014

Foodie Fads

Seen the ultimate in twaddle:

  • Loin of cod tempura, or gourmet burger,
  • Pommes frites,
  • Smashed peas.
I believe that translates as battered cod or burger, chips and mushy peas.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Action Man Alternative

A new doll has been manufactured to compete with Barbie. It has more 'normal' proportions.

When will a new Action Man be made, more closely resembling the average UKIP voter?

Should I be forced to resign?

Friday, 21 November 2014

Rochester & Strood

One hears Emily Thornberry, MP, has apologized to all right wing chavs.

Thursday, 20 November 2014


Returning back to the UK today. Must say I'm impressed with the new taxis at Schiphol airport - they bought 100 Teslas, and they look the business (this is not one of them). Wouldn't mind one myself.

Some shots of my trip:

I particularly liked this Amsterdam house.

How the kids are taken to school. I also spotted a mobile bike mechanic using one of these - he's at the end of a mobile phone and repairs punctures, etc.

A novel bike.

Saw this at the trade show I've been at - combines solar PV with solar thermal in one unit.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Ched Evans

Been following this Ched Evans story - the Sheffield United footballer who was found guilty of rape.

  1. There are some inconsistencies about the conviction, despite him not being given leave to appeal (jury convictions rarely get leave to appeal) and still trying to clear his name. For example, the girl who was raped never made a rape complaint - the police brought the prosecution - and another footballer who was present and charged was subsequently acquitted on the same evidence.
  2. He has done his time. 
  3. He is out of his contract with Sheffield United.
I'm a great believer in giving people a 2nd chance. He has served his sentence and therefore has paid his debt in the eyes of the law (assuming guilt). If the sentence doesn't meet the crime, that's another matter. Given Evans is still trying to clear his name, I think it a bit previous to deny him a job. 

My first reactions was that this could all blow over if he simply made a public statement demonstrating contrition and donated his first few weeks' salary to a rape crisis charity - but, if he's still trying to clear his name, that's also a bit previous and tantamount to an admission of guilt. Catch 22.

Then there's the matter of him being a role model, as some term it. Not many footballers could be called role models - I can think only of a handful. Should a role model be treated more severely than just an ordinary person? Perhaps yes, but I would hesitate to call him a role model.

If he were still in his contract and there was no specific clause within it prohibiting him from engaging in certain acts or having a conviction, then the football club itself could be guilty of discrimination.

I think too many people are jumping on too many bandwagons, far too quickly, and without knowing a great deal about the case in question. There have been numerous cases of miscarriages of justice in the past, but the jury system is nevertheless still considered infallible. Similarly, offenders have gone on to reoffend.

Monday, 17 November 2014

Hedging Service at a Fork in the Road

The hedge around our field is in desperate need of some attention; however, anyone we phone to do the job simply never returns our call. After seeing a hedge laying competition on Coutryfile last night (just up the road at Highgrove), I was thinking of announcing the Old Sodbury hedge laying competition.

Bought some 2nd hand forks in a local charity shop on Saturday - made them into napkin rings. Haven't quite got the hang of it yet, but I shall improve with practice.

Due to the varying thickness along the handle, bending them isn't as easy as you'd imagine; I need to get myself some steel pipe to aid the process.

On my Friday jaunt to London I called in at Reading services and got myself a bacon bap.

The Hype

The sorry-looking reality

Spotted these stollen bites at the Costa counter. 3 pitiful bites for £2.29. You can get a box full of the buggers weighing 350g from Lidl for £1.99. How the hell do Costa justify these prices?

There wasn't an English accent to be heard behind any of the counters (all eastern European), yet Reading has quite a few unemployed people. Seems the Brits just don't want the work, and it's not as if the owners are paying less than minimum wage.

Off to Hamsterjam later today for the rest of the week to attend a trade show.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Sturgeon Deliveries

Yet another courier parcel delivery has gone astray. I think companies should outsource their parcel deliveries to the European Space Agency - they can hit the mark from 4 billion miles.

That Nicola Sturgeon gets right up my nose. Heard her being interviewed saying why should Scotland leave the EU because a party Scots hadn't voted for wanted to. You could use that level of argument for any county, or indeed town or village within the UK. She calls it democracy - when there's little or no difference between the Scots and the English, I call it anarchy. The Scots are as different from the English as Geordies are from Scousers and I defy anyone to tell me how the Scots are so different from the English (OK, they have a few more carrot-tops and a penchant for cross dressing, but that's as far as it goes).

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Move Out of the Damned Way!

I drove the new Dinky Toy to London yesterday to hand-deliver a large satellite communications proposal to the Brazilian Navy Commission in Europe; what should have been no more than a 2 hour drive turned out to be 4 hours due to the weight of traffic and I made the deadline with 5 minutes to spare.

On the way back I was following a Porsche Carrera 4S on the M4 and the spray from the Porsche's wheels necessitated that I give the windscreen a quick wash and wipe. I twiddled the wiper thingy, but nothing happened. I twiddled it again and still nothing happened. I twiddled it furiously and the Porsche Carrera suddenly moved over from the fast lane into the middle lane to let me pass.

Yes, I'd been sat in a Hyundai Getz 1.1 litre, furiously flashing a Porsche to get out of the damned way.

As I drew level with the Porsche, I think the driver saw the funny side. Whether he realised I'd mistaken the high beam flasher for the windscreen wiper, I don't know.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Double Bypass Burger

Heard about the Double Doughnut Burger (I refuse to spell it the American way).

Steve Jebson for Hungry Horse, said: "Our popular menu caters for a variety of tastes and appetites and includes everything from lower calorie options such as our hot chicken and bacon salad at 393 calories, through to the indulgent occasional treat such as our new Double Donut Burger. All the nutritional information for our menu is available on our website and in our pubs, so that our customers are able to make informed decisions about what they choose to eat."

Informed decision - who's he trying to kid? The people who would eat that probably can't even read, let alone reach an informed decision!

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Victim vs Survivor

Have you noticed how the BBC, when reporting on rape or sexual abuse, has started calling those who were abused 'survivors' instead of 'victims'.

Survivor, to me, indicates someone who has transcended the event; not all victims of abuse survive the ordeal, they can remain traumatised for the rest of their lives.

Victim: a person harmed, injured, or killed as a result of a crime, accident, or other event or action.

Survivor: a person who survives, especially a person remaining alive after an event in which others have died.

Also, survivor: a person who continues to function or prosper in spite of opposition, hardship, or setbacks.

I guess it can depend on the dictionary you use as to the definition, and dictionaries are nothing more than someone's opinion - hence the different definitions.

However, that said, the use of the word survivor in the BBC, at least to me, is an example of imposed groupthink to perhaps engender a sense of empowerment in the victims. All who are subject to sexual abuse are victims; not all victims are survivors and to label them all as such is a misrepresentation (possibly with a hidden political agenda).

Perhaps the word victim has become debased now that we have the 'victim culture' and everyone is a victim of something (at least in their own minds) - a bit like the word 'hero' has become debased by overuse in grossly inappropriate circumstances.

Language is a funny old thing...

Analyse and discuss.

Friday, 7 November 2014

I'd Never Have Guessed

Apparently the new Star Wars film title has been released. It's called Star Wars. That was a well kept secret!

It would appear that a French health watchdog is of the opinion that 3D glasses could be dangerous for youngsters' eyes. According to Anses, the process of assimilating a three-dimensional effect requires the eyes to look at images in two different places at the same time before the brain translates it as one image, and this could be harmful to developing eyes. That sounds suspiciously like the way eyes work to see the real world in depth. Perhaps just seeing is harmful to the eyes...

So who really did kill Bin Laden, and will the TV spin-off rival the Dallas cliff-hanger?

Thursday, 6 November 2014

The Dinky Toy

The Golf TDi with the knackered auto gearbox is on eBay as a 'spares or repair' and last weekend we bought (or rather I was persuaded by Hay to buy) a cheap (£999) Hyundai Getz 1.1 Dinky Toy as a replacement Pool Car. Cheap and economical, but manual.

Last night I had to pick up No.1 Son from school following his weekly trip to Bristol Uni for part of his A level course. Now driving at dusk has become a problem since I was diagnosed with early stage cataracts (glare from oncoming cars and colours just meld into one mass), but driving a car which has the indicator and wiper switches in the reverse positions from the Golf, as well as having 5 manual gears, proved to be a total nightmare.

A favourite bugbear if mine is manual cars - especially ones with 5 gears. You are forced to drive with one hand permanently on the gearstick when in town traffic, while using the other to put your windscreen wipers on to signify you're about to make a turn.

Some people say manual cars give you better control. How can that be possible when you're steering with one hand only for the majority of the time? We're in the 21st century, for God's sake.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014


Was watching something on local TV last night about devolution of power from Westminster and Cornwall.

Never met an actual native Cornishman, and I used to go to Cornwall once a fortnight.

One bloke (allegedly a Cornishman) said it's ridiculous to think Cornwall could be governed from London. That's like saying Middlesbrough or Barrow in Furness can't be governed from London.

For the best part of 300 years Cornwall was governed from Rome, and Australia from London.

It's only small-minded people who come out with statements like this. Distance is no barrier to government; it's the attitudes of those governing and those being governed (and their relationships) that matter.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Molecular Gastronomy II

Just thought I'd show a picture of my apple juice pearls. These are jellified all the way through, so if you ain't got your full complement of tombstones in your mouth, then they can be a tad difficult to get your gnashers around. Rather than chewing them, I gum them.

Can't wait for the really nasty chemicals to arrive in the post so I can experiment with a soft, lipid shell and make all manner of wonderful Quatermass blobs that I can feed to the unsuspecting family.

Monday, 3 November 2014


We didn't have a pumpkin, so Hay used an orange instead.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Molecular White Trousers

We went to the Chipping Sodbury Yacht Club dinner on Friday night - dress was full uniform and medals.

We had a wonderful rendition of sea shanties by The Shanty Men.

However, I do question the wisdom of white uniform trousers for gentlemen who are in the main above 60. Lots of stains....

Inspired by a Facebook friend with a restaurant (The Monro in Liverpool), I'm getting into molecular gastronomy. I made balsamic pearls to accompany dinner last night, also a heap of apple juice pearls. Used agar for these, but have bought some sodium alginate and calcium chloride on eBay in order to make all manner of scrummy caviar with a thin lipid shell that pops in your mouth. Hay's biochemistry PhD may come in handy for a few ideas.