Wednesday 30 April 2008

Just no explaining it...

...the email that is supposedly not working until 5th May was back again this morning. So, suspiciously was the email for my own domain name which also had not worked the whole of yesterday. Proof positive that whoever I spoke to in VM tech support yesterday doesn't know what on earth they are talking about.

Tuesday 29 April 2008

Service disruption

It has been a long time since I've had to have a really serious rant about Virgin Media. They annoy me on a regular and sustained basis, but every so often they really take the biscuit.

Working from home today I booted up Thunderbird to check for emails. Gmail, check. My own domain, never gets any mail anyway. Ntlworld, times out. Annoying... especially as I use it to communicate with the office when I'm at home. So, off to webmail. Still no luck, error code: 1-90203. I get in by a 'try again' page. But that isn't good enough. Webmail doesn't check every ten minutes and tell you when you have mail, you have to go looking.So I ring the customer helpline. Yes, they've had a lot of complaints the chap tells me, he thinks it might be something to do with the new billing system. He suggest I try Tech Support (who cost 25p a minute). I do. They tell me the system is down. I point out that my fiancé can access his normally on a different computer. Well, he shouldn't be able to I'm told. It will be back to normal, apparently, after 5th May... a week away! That is all the advice they can offer me. Thanks for nothing Virgin. I'd better get my £1.50 back for that phonecall.

Virgin Media... or Very Mediocre as I (not so) affectionately have occasion to call them.

Monday 28 April 2008

New shoes

Ah, the Jubilee Line. What would my day be without it?! This morning I arrived at North Greenwich station to find a train on both platforms 1 and 2. The train on platform 1 was akin to a sardine can with something less than standing room only available.

The train on platform 2 was beginning to fill rapidly, despite the drivers repeated assurances that the train on platform 1 would be leaving first. Nobody was leaving at all though. The reason turned out to be not one but two passenger alarms (at Canada Water and Bermondsey). After about ten minutes (which was a delay on five minutes on the advertised departure time) we did eventually leave. A good service was operating on the Jubilee Line!

At lunch time I had cause to use the tube again. The shoes which I had used such will power not to buy on Saturday had been preying on my mind ever since, and my will power weakened and I decided to go to M&S and Marble Arch and buy the shoes. Of course, I always forget that the M&S at Marble Arch isn’t actually at Marble Arch, but back down Oxford Street. There was no need for my convulted journey via an interchange to the Central Line at Bond Street, as I’d say that M&S is equidistant between Bond Street and Marble Arch stations. Ah well. Shoes purchased I went back to Bond Street, to find that I was waiting 9 minutes for a train (12 as it turned out as the first train was too full to squeeze onto). Unspecified signal failures.

My new shoes are great. They make my feet look like movie stars! The heel is just about manageable. I adore shoes. I don't much like shopping for them, but I love to own them. I used to have a massive shoe collection, but since all the trouble with wobbly legs and balance I've had to re-assess my shoe requirements. Pretty much flat shoes only. Certainly no heels over about an inch high. So sad. I saw the loveliest pair of shoes at the weekend. Either in plum or deep aqua-green they had a bar across with a button, and such a lovely shape. Mary Poppins shoes. The heels were sadly about two and a half inches and more than my feet could handle. Didn't stop me wanting them though. So I got the movie star shoes. They are dusty pink with a peep-hole toe and floppy big bows, delicate straps round the back and kitten heels. Even these modest heels means that they'll be special occasion not going out for the whole day shoes!

The Jubilee Line managed not to upset me on the way home, however, the buses decided to join in instead, with a fifteen minute wait and crowds to fill at least twice as many buses. If it isn't one sort of transport it's the other!

Sunday 27 April 2008

More movies and Sunday stuff

Saturday night's movie this week was Christian Slater in 'A Quiet Man'. In my youth I had quite a thing for Christian Slater, his picture adorned my rough book along with Marti Pellow (I know, I know... I had a sheltered upbringing!). I was rather shocked by his appearance in this movie where he was, well, ordinary. Rich hastened to assure me that this was prosthetics and a wig. It's a wonder what make-up artists can do! It was a strange movie. Odd cinematography although generally well written and a decent enough plot. I got a bit confused at the end, but then it was quite late and some wine had been consumed by this point, so that can't be put down to the writers or directors! Decent enough movie. I'd probably say seven out of ten.

Happily today was a Grand Prix Sunday (it's been a while). The race wasn't the worst we've seen this season, although probably not the best either. Only thirteen cars finished the race, a variety of accidents and mechanical failures took care of the rest of the field. The most dramatic moment was undoubtedly Kovalainen's 140mph crash into the barriers at the side of the track. Fortunately apart from a concussion he appears to be uninjured.

I'm off now to watch Real Madrid being mighty, after Charlton's dismal defeat yesterday I'm due some good football!

Saturday 26 April 2008

Petrol panic and shopping trips

Today I arranged to meet my Mum at Bluewater for a shopping excursion. I decided that I had better be off early to fill up the car's tank as I had heard various rumours about impending strikes by petrol workers in a refinery in Scotland, panic buying, rising prices at the pumps (more than usual) and petrol shortages. Sure enough, the first garage I came to had a queue back onto the road and the pumps nearest the road had no unleaded. Fearing a repeat of the post-Christmas desperate hunt debacle I made my way next to Sainsbury's. Here I happily found all pumps operating and no queue (and the petrol was a penny cheaper per litre). I duly filled my tank and made off on my trip... only to find if I had held out to Asda the petrol was a penny cheaper again! C'est la vie. At least I'm probably sorted until this latest batch of silliness is over, given how often I drive the car.

That is the second strike to hit the news this week. Earlier in the week the teachers went on strike. Now, maybe it is my upbringing (nobody in my family, to my knowledge, has ever belonged to a union) but I don't approve of striking. Firstly, it doesn't often seem to achieve the stated aims and secondly, the people who are inconvenienced (usually) aren't in any position to do anything about the demands anyway. If I ever have any sympathy with a cause I lose it as soon as people go on strike. I digress.

I arrived at Bluewater extremely early to meet my mother, so had a little wander around. It is best to meet early anyway. By the time she arrived at ten it was still nice and empty and quite a pleasure to shop in (apart from the blaring advertising stand in one of the malls). I was more than a little footsore by the time I got home (although shopping all successfully accomplished). Note to self: when body says enough is enough listen and stop!

Thursday night was movie night again in our house. This time we finally got around to watching 'Happy Feet' which has been sitting around for ages waiting for us to see it. It is an absolutely charming movie... well animated, well scripted and well voiced. I thought maybe parts were a little scary for kids, but otherwise I could find no fault. Even the 'message' which animated movies often impart wasn't too corny and pretty well put across. I give it ten out of ten and thoroughly recommend it.

I was also pleased to receive a visit from my friend and her adorable ten month old son. We had a charming visit and it made me wish that we didn't live quite so far apart and could see each other more often. Seems the way with all my friends these days as they are pretty much scattered all over. I guess it makes you appreciate the visits even more when you can arrange them!

Friday 25 April 2008


...collection day in my part of the Borough of Greenwich, yesterday.

Regular readers will be aware that we have been under a new refuse collection regime in Greenwich. There are two types of rubbish... rubbish you recycle or compost and rubbish that you don't. The bins with dry recycling and the bins with the food and garden waste are collected every week. The black bags which contain all other rubbish are collected once a fortnight.

I know why Greenwich started this new collection system. The Government set itself targets on reducing waste sent to landfill. These measure help achieve those aims. It has to be said, too, that my local area is anything to go by it is working. As I walked to the bus stop yesterday morning everyone had their bins out. Yesterday was the fortnightly black bag collection too. I didn't see more than a bag outside most houses, and the bags I saw weren't even full. That is a fortnight's worth of rubbish! Congratulations to the residents of SE7 - you are really helping to make a difference.

Thursday 24 April 2008

It must be Thursday... it was another bad morning for the Jubilee Line... in the manner of Arthur Dent and the Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy, it would seem that it never could get the hang of Thursday.

I got to North Greenwich to find them announcing 'severe delays' on the Jubilee Line (again!). From the ticket hall level I could see down to platforms 1 and 2, and there were a lot of people waiting on platform 1 - and a train with open door packed to the brim waiting to depart. I could see a train at platform 2 (the up/down platform) but not how full it was. So, I made my way down to platform level. Five minutes until the platform 2 train was departing and already beyond standing room only. A very kind member of platform staff asked if I'd like her to help me and The Stick find a seat. I thanked her and told her I'd go down and back. That's what everyone seems to be doing she told me, the trains are all so full.

I went off to Stratford, and back up again. The signal failure (ironically at Green Park) had cleared we were told, the train would call all stations to Stanmore (except Baker Street which had been closed due to overcrowding).

Biggest irony - the Jubilee Line is shut this weekend from Green Park to Stratford for line improvement works.

Favourite announcement of the morning - "Ladies and Gentlemen, if you are going to board this train please get on now, if not, stand clear of the doors please"

Wednesday 23 April 2008


For some time I've been considering getting a new phone for the house. We had a digital phone with an extension upstairs in the bedroom, which was great. The trouble was that the display on the downstairs phone was going, which meant you couldn't double check the number you had dialled, but other than that it all worked OK. Then last week the upstairs phone started acting up. The sound quality decreased to virtually nothing (it sounded like a force 10 gale was blowing down the line) and the button '1' ceased to function. Basically you couldn't dial any telephone number requiring '1' including calling the extension downstairs.

That was all the motivation I needed. For a while I'd had my eye on a rather attractive (and funky) model from BT called 'Mango'. It's a rather fetching combination of white and pale orange. And you can stick your sim card into the base unit to transfer numbers from your mobile. Sounds cool. Trouble is that it retails for well over £100 in quad- and tri-packs. Bit hard to justify spending that much on the house phone. Then I saw it on sale at half price from Argos. Trouble was it was out of stock for home delivery and out of stock for in store collection (I hate it when that happens, you see a really good deal on-line but can't actually find anywhere to sell it to you). Then I did a search and found another company selling it for just about half price too. Hurrah! So I ordered the quad-pack (indulgent, I know) and they arrived on Monday.

Of course, in the manner of these things, they had to charge for 24 hours. But now the new phone system is up and running and not only is there a phone in the bedroom and the living room, but also the kitchen and the pink room! Superb. The new phones are about as complicated as a mobile phone, but I'm sure we'll soon get to grips with them.

Tuesday 22 April 2008

More Monday musings

After the broken down train in the morning by the time it came to my evening journey yesterday I thought that I had probably paid my penance to the Jubilee line for one day. I was wrong.

I just missed a train as I was getting to the platform (if I had really hurried I might have made it) but it looked a bit crowded and the departure board said that another one would be along in a minute. Another one was along in a minute. The problem was that it was terminating at Green Park. So everyone on that train (not many people, it had obviously decided to terminate some time previously) got off and joined the crowd for the next one. I decided to give the next one a miss as it was jam packed... and waited for the one after that, which then hiccoughed its way down the line to North Greenwich.

Our water-cooler in the office has broken down (again). Our water-cooler company don't really care, on account that we only have one cooler (not dozens and dozens) so they don't make much money from us. The cold water tap has ceased to function, however the hot water tap is still going strong (go figure). Had an amusing conversation with Saffy-bloke by the water cooler regarding the hot tap.

Him: "The water from the hot tap is really warm, isn't it?"
Me: "Yes, scalding in fact"
Him: (examining his finger which had been scalded) "Yes"
Me: "That's why there's a warning notice... hazardous even"
Him: "Yes, but there are so many warnings in life"
Me: "So you treat warnings like the boy who cried wolf?"
Him: "I suppose so"

Moral of the story? If the hot water tap says "Danger, scalding hazard" it probably means it!

I feel that I should introduce you to the contents of my office. It sometimes gets confusing, especially as I do not refer to them by their given names. There are ten of us at the moment, which is nearly as many people as can comfortably be fitted in the office. Sitting by the window is me, I have the nicest desk because when we moved in I did the space planning, perk of the job! Sitting opposite me is Saffy-bloke, him of the enquiring mind and fearless interaction with the hot tap of the water-cooler. Sitting next to me is Malay-girl (also nominally my assistant) who is supremely efficient in pretty much everything. Opposite her is Young-lad, we've worked together for about four years now, and he's not really so young now, I guess it is all relative; he is the most conversational person in the office (pretty much always talking). The desk next to him is empty, it is our 'hot desk' where we put visitors from our other offices when they come to stay. The last desk in this little cluster next to Malay-girl belongs to the Reluctant Bachelor. His siblings are all married and his mum is after him getting married; he's one of life's 'fixers', he gets anything done. Moving across the room is a pair of desks these house Older-guy, who is probably a good fifteen or twenty years older than anyone else (which means he really knows his stuff) and Boss-two; he is the partner who spends most time in the office and is responsible for the day to day running, allocation of work, overseeing of rabble, etc. The final pair of desks houses New-boy, I can tell you much about him as he has literally just started and Boss-one the other partner in the office who is overseas quite a lot. Wait a minute, that is only nine! There is also our reception desk, shortly to house Youngest-lad, once he has finished his exams and left school.

Sadly today is a working at home day. So there is just me at my desk in the corner of the bedroom, wishing it could be a bit tidier!

Earth Day

According to my wall calendar today is 'Earth Day'. I had to check this on-line as my wall calendar isn't to be trusted. It has nothing listed for tomorrow, for example, even though tomorrow is St. George's Day. I'd say it was because my calendar isn't religious... but it lists religious feast in several languages for multiple religions. I checked and neither St Andrew (Scotland) or St David (Wales) get a look-in. St Patrick does of course (you don't have to be Irish to celebrate Paddy's Day after all). I digress.

Today is 'Earth Day'. Originally conceived by a US Senator all the way back in 1970 it is now (according to the might of the internet) a global holiday. Hmm. Not convinced. I couldn't find anything to tell me what was happening in London, for example. Do we really need a 'Day' to remind us that we should care for the environment? Not any more. Just another way of daily life, that is how I see it.

Monday 21 April 2008

Stand clear of the doors please

This morning my journey to work started quite well. I only had to wait a few minutes for a 486 to take me to North Greenwich, and the bus encountered no traffic and not too many passenger stops. I arrived at North Greenwich and to my delight found a train on platform 2 (the reversible platform where trains which terminate at North Greenwich turn round and go out again). This means that you get a seat (which you won't usually in the rush hour on a train from East London). I got on the train and settled myself down with the Metro. And we sat, and we sat... and several times the PA system encouraged as to "Stand clear of the doors please" and then nothing happened.

After about ten minutes of this the PA system struggled back into life and told us that due to technical difficulties the train was being taken out of service. Cue many moans and groans, and everyone piled back off... to join the throngs already waiting on platform 1. A train came and went without many people being able to get on. Then the station PA crackled into life and announced that the technical difficulties with the train on platform 2 had been resolved and the train was now ready to depart. I wish I'd had a video camera as everyone (literally) ran across the concourse. Barely had we all taken our seats and the doors shut and finally we were off.

What an excellent start to the week, let us hope we are not starting as we mean to go on.

Sunday 20 April 2008

Movie night (again)

Last night we watched 'The Good Shepherd' tagged as "The secret story of the birth of the CIA". Except, not so much. I don't know if I expected more history or more spying, but there wasn't really much of either. We'd not got around to watching this for ages due to the extreme running time (something over two and a half hours), but I'd really been looking forward to it. The acting it should be said was brilliant. I also appreciated the fact that there was always clear notation of time period in the film (the beginning having to strands set around twenty years apart). I just found the plot a little slow, and at the end of the movie the final thought was "So what?" as the movie did just wander along with very little real direction other than getting from 1939 to 1961.

Hopefully next weekend we will find something a little more exciting!


In London on Friday 18th April there was (so I'm told) a very bad smell. I didn't experience this first hand as I didn't go outside much on Friday, but a friend told me of her experience of a bad odour walking down Holborn. She attributed to a fast-food restaurant but it turns out that there was a more meteorological explanation (or so they would have us believe). The malodorous experience was apparently caused by air being blown in from Eastern Europe.

I wonder if this was also the cause of the very strong smell of excrement which lingered over Littleheath in Charlton a few weeks ago?!

Saturday 19 April 2008

Greenwich nightlife

Last night myself and a friend went out on the town in Greenwich. It's been a while since we've done this (before Christmas in fact). First we went to the delightful 'Gypsy Moth' (which is confusingly right next to the Cutty Sark, which means that I always want to call it by the wrong ship's name!). I first made the acquaintance of this pub about 7 years ago when Rich and I used to go there a lot. Back then it was bit more 'spit and sawdust' - now it is more of a 'bar' than a 'pub'! You know the sort of place - moody lighting, music that is a bit too loud and lots of sofas and stools instead of chairs and benches.

After a few drinks there we decided to move on, and our next stop was 'The Trafalgar'. This is a bit out of central Greenwich, along the river path. Extremely popular in the summer when you can sip you drinks on the banks of the Thames, it was a bit quieter last night. We got superb tables by a window with a rather lovely view across the Thames to the lights of Canary Wharf and the O2 in the distance.

We didn't even stay out until last orders, as my friend was catching an early flight the following morning.

View along the river path towards the O2 by the Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich

View from the window towards Canary Wharf in The Trafalgar, Greenwich

Friday 18 April 2008

Morning tech news

FAST weighs in to piracy row - Web User News
However, FAST and the BPI's wishes to implement a system that would see persistent downloaders cut off were dealt a serious blow by the European Parliament recently when it ruled that cutting off customers was a 'breach of human rights'.
Since when has an internet connection been a human right? Does that mean that all the people who can't afford one can sue because they are being denied their human right?

Thursday 17 April 2008

All quiet in SE7

Things have been pretty quiet this week. I haven't come across much news (interesting or otherwise). I haven't done much except go to the office a couple of days and work from home the rest... it really has been very quiet.

I've discovered a new hobby in my leisure time. Genealogy. I'm trying to put together my family tree. When I told my grandmother she said "Oh, you should ask your Uncle, I think he's done quite a lot on that". That would take away all the fun though... wouldn't it. The fun is in the detective work. Sadly it could be an expensive hobby. Quite a lot of answers would only be gained from a birth certificate for a few key ancestors. Birth certificates are £7 a pop. So far I'm back to my great-great-grandfather on my mother's side, but only because my gran told me all the names I was looking for!

Wednesday 16 April 2008

Halfway there...

...both metaphorically and physically.

Today was an office day; that is to say that I was working at the office rather than from home. Each has its merits and each has its drawbacks. Merits of the office: well obviously I have more resources (both in terms of information in the office and on the office computer system) and specialist software, the office telephone system (even my new mobile with it's excellent reception still doesn't like the bedroom), my colleagues; drawbacks of the office: commuting, interruption by phone calls, commuting, my colleagues. Yep, colleagues are good and bad. I like my colleagues, I find them informative and on occasion entertaining; but also distracting. In contrast the advantages to working at home: no commute, no distractions; disadvantages: it gets lonely and sometimes it is hard to stay focussed and motivated.

Halfway there because today is Wednesday and half of the working week has now gone. Halfway there because every day I feel physically a little more restored. Sadly it doesn't happen over night, the fatigue (that so many people with MS do battle with) is still one of the biggest problems. My legs are pretty much back at full strength, and my balance is much improved (although not so much that I feel confident enough to venture out without The Stick).

The commute is pretty much settled into a routine now. I have a variety of podcasts to keep me entertained, and if I don't have too much baggage and a free hand then one of the free newspapers as well.

I had an interesting spell this afternoon. I was filling out a report (and had been for some time), and when I finally finished I commented on the perceived bureaucratic nature of the whole exercise. Whereupon my colleague who sits opposite asked me what 'bureaucratic' meant. Have you ever tried to define a word without resorting to "Bureaucratic, well it". After eventually managing to convey the meaning I commented that I was probably using it a derogative manner rather than a descriptive one; whereupon I promptly was requested to explain the meaning of derogative. Mental note to self: curb inclination to verbosity and simply vocabulary, or face repeated requests for explanations!

Tuesday 15 April 2008

Spring is sprung

Today was a working from home day. This morning was so cold I had to put the heater on as I sat at my desk and my hands turned blue!

When the sun is out it is a pretty nice day. This afternoon turned so warm that I had to turn off the heater and open the window (go figure).

I took a break from working to go and have a quick wander in the garden. Sadly necessary. As my desk is in the bedroom there isn't space for a proper office chair; only a folding chair that can be put out of the way when it isn't being used. After several hours continuous occupation one tends to feel a little stiff, so a quick turn in the sun is just what is needed.

Our previous worries over the frog-spawn (occasioned by the cold weather) have proved unfounded. The pond is teeming with tadpoles!

Tadpoles resting at the edge of the pond

Tadpoles in the centre of the pond

It isn't just the frogs and tadpoles who are celebrating the arrival of spring. The big fat pigeons have been sitting on the roof in the sunshine contemplating the garden.

The squirrels have been running up and down the fence and climbing trees.

I think they are all waiting for the empty bird-table to magically fill with nuts!

The most perplexing thing is the sudden (literally overnight) explosion of dandelions over the patio and path. To quote Douglas Adams it is a 'suffusion of yellow'.

Monday 14 April 2008

Oh Dear, O2

The Jubilee Line was beyond packed this evening. At first I thought this was because our train was 'regulating it's service' and spending at least 5 minutes at every station between Waterloo and Canary Wharf. When there was a mass exodus at North Greenwich I quickly changed my mind and surmised that the O2 must be to blame.

The crowd control barriers were up on platform 3. They finally seem to have learnt that a single tensile barrier just encourages people to duck under, so tonight there were two tapes between every post, and a very complex arrangement right by the escalator just to make sure.

I like to amuse myself by trying to gauge from the crowds what entertainment is on offer at the venue. I was puzzled tonight as there seemed to me a large amount of young (ish) boys and a good dose of kids. I forgot that the O2 doesn't just do music. A quick visit to the website satisfied my curiosity. World Wrestling Entertainment. All is explained.

Green Park station, incidentally, continues in it's transformation. Even more tiles have been stripped away in the ticket hall and the rough remains have been covered with heavy duty plastic-paper. Very attractive. The station deserves better. It is the first/last station before hitting the new stretch of the Jubilee Line (which has some frankly amazing stations) and as it is the station recommended to alight for Buckingham Palace (and other tourist attractions) it really needs to be more inviting. I can't wait to see what it looks like when it is finished!

Sunday 13 April 2008

Marathon Sunday

I can't believe that it's that time of year again already. Pretty much the whole of the borough of Greenwich (and a lot of the rest of South, East and Central London) comes to a virtual standstill. I didn't think that I'd make it out to watch this year, due to my terrible cold that insists on hanging around, but I felt much better when I woke up this morning, so made my way to the end of the street.

The London Marathon starts about two and half miles from my house up on Blackheath Common and in Greenwich Park. There are three different starts to the Marathon; red, blue and green. The blue and green join up and go along the south side of Charlton near to Woolwich common, and the red start comes through Charlton itself. I watch the start on TV and then give it fifteen minutes before making my way out to the route.

I am amazed every year to see the diversity of runners. Nearly everyone seems to be running for a charity too. I always have especial gratitude for all the runners who are raising money for MS, every year (although probably not any time soon) I think that I'd like to join them.

I'm just watching the end of the race in the Mall at the moment, and amazingly (as it isn't really that far form me) it is tipping down with rain there. It is a beautiful sunny day in SE7.

I would love the BBC to do a poll one time. A poll to see how many people watching their coverage are interested in the elite races and how many people would much rather watch the regular runners. I got quite hopeful this morning when they started talking about coverage via the red button of the women's elite, but that was only because some of the other races were about to start. I don't really find running an exciting sport to watch, I'd much rather watch all the regular people running for charity and with amazing personal stories. Maybe that is just me though.

I didn't see either of the people I know who are running this year, but I don't even know which start they were at. I hope that wherever you are on the course right now guys it's going well for you. Go Dave! Go Kitty!

Saturday 12 April 2008

More de-clutter

I decided that the bedroom is still in dire need of de-cluttering. The shelves that are still full of Beanies even though I've pretty much stopped collecting now. They sit there and gather dust, and take up space. So I decided that it is time to put them away, or as much as could be managed.

First we consolidated the video tape collection which lives on top of the wardrobe to make some extra space. Then I bought some plastic boxes with lids, and proceeded to fill the with Beanies. There are still three shelves left to clear, but it is looking good so far. So satisfying too. I always feel so zen after a de-cluttering session!

For hints and tips on de-cluttering your life try the Unclutterer Website.

Friday 11 April 2008

Lost Day

I lost today to a horrible migraine. Woke up this morning feeling nauseous and my head splitting in two. So took some paracetamol, put on my eye mask and went back to sleep.

Woke up again several hours later not feeling any better; so took more paracetamol, put my eye mask back on and went back to sleep.

Finally woke up in the early afternoon feeling a little better, with just a dull ache in my head. Had lunch, took more paracetamol and went back to sleep.

Finally woke up in the late afternoon feeling more or less normal. Realised that Friday was gone. Oh dear.

Wednesday 9 April 2008

Home Working

Home working is recommended for all sorts of reasons. Help save the planet, bin the daily commute; work from home! Help unburden the over-taxed public transport infrastructure, bin the daily commute; work form home! If you have poor health, or child-care issues; once again, the ideal solution. I've always liked working from home. I first utilised it many (many) years ago on the occasion of a train strike (back when I lived a 40 minute train ride from London) and there was no alternative means of getting into town. Since then I've taken advantage of this modern method on days when I've needed to wait in for tradesmen or deliveries, had to schedule around medical appointments, and most recently when I've simply not been physically up to the daily commute.

With the internet connecting me to my office email (and indeed if I wanted I could arrange a dial-in connection to my desktop computer), with mobile phones, with all sorts of means of digitally storing and transporting information... who needs the office? Less phone calls and more productive time. The only thing I miss are my colleagues. It is rather lonely working on your own!

Tuesday 8 April 2008

Plus ça change... c'est la même chose

Despite several weekends worth of being close for the "TfL Investment Programme" (or whatever it calls itself) I don't know why I expected any improvement on the Jubilee Line since last we are acquainted.

I arrived at North Greenwich this morning to find sever delays being advertised (despite the fact that the travel news had been checked as I left the house). Thick crowds surrounded every door on the London platform, and I saw a train pulling in from my vantage point on the upper concourse which clearly had no more space left for passengers. I decided to take my normal course of action (since they decided to have roadworks across nearly the entire borough of Greenwich) which is to take a train to Stratford and then come back west on an empty train. Ah, little did I know. The delays were being caused by a failed train at Stratford; and lots of other people had the same idea as me. The train when it got to Stratford hardly emptied at all. This was exacerbated by the next train coming in full of more people with the same idea deciding to take itself out of service. Not much hope for anyone down the line by the time my train left Stratford.

Green Park station seems to be in the process of fairly sever renovations. The whole ticket hall and street access seem to have had the tiles stripped off and bits of ceiling taken down. The effect would be shabby were it no for the fact that it was already a pretty shabby station. I don't suppose it is getting any serious upgrade; I wonder who pays for the ticket hall when two of the lines are run by Tubelines and one by Metronet, I suppose it is TfL? Those not from London will be perplexed by the manner in which the London Underground is run (or maybe not, I don't know how it is done in other cities). Once upon a time the London Underground was completely run by... the London Underground. The stations, trains, track, staff, everything... all one company. Then the advent of the 'Private Public Partnership'. A very popular way for the government to get things done without paying for them. Effectively private companies enter into contracts to provide facilities/services/etc. For the London Underground this means that whilst TfL continues to staff stations and run trains pretty much everything else is governed by private companies. Basically all the bits which cause the trauma of the daily commute (excepting the few occasions where the drivers go on strike) are down to private companies. Small wonder one of them went into administration at the end of last year. I digress.

The journey home was fortunately not blighted in a similar manner to the morning journey.

I noticed on my way back through North Greenwich that at either end of the ticket barriers two new 'accessible' barriers have been installed. I applaud this; temporarily disabled with The Stick one thing I found very hard was negotiating the ticket barriers, but these new wider barriers make all the difference. One wonders when the rest of the network will be catching up. The underground still advertises the stations with step free access from pavement to platform with a special symbol as they are so few and far between. I'm relatively mobile (even with The Stick) but I still find the steps out of Green Park station quite an ordeal.

Monday 7 April 2008

Motoring On Today (MOT)

Despite the earlier gloomier prognosis that the car would not be ready to be collected by half past five I received a call at 10 before five to let me know that the car was in fact ready.

I arrived at the Testing Station to find an argument ensuing as to whether the car was in fact ready to leave of not (something to do with a clip and the chassis). It was eventually decided that, yes, the car was ready; whereupon further chaos ensued with invoices, certificates and keys.

Finally I parted with £160 (ouch) and took the car home. This is the worst MOT yet. The first one needed some bulbs replacing, the second one was passed with flying colours; this one needed a new shock absorber. I have no idea what, where or why the shock absorber is - only that it added over £100 to the cost of the MOT (ouch again). Slightly better than expected though, as I was expecting to have to shell out for new tyres. Just an advisory note saying that the tyre treads are getting low - as soon as there is money in the pot I guess I'll shell out for some new ones.

Expensive things cars. Environmentally unfriendly; and then there is the financial cost - tax, insurance, MOT and the rest. I'm not even going to consider (given the light usage the car gets) how much it costs me per mile. The problem is, it is just too useful to be without (even living in London).

Another cold day in April

I don't think that April showers will be bringing out the flowers this year. Not if it stays as cold as it is, because then there is a good chance that it will snow.

I had to take the car to the garage for it's MOT this morning, and along the way I noticed a plethora of yellow signs on the lamp posts and lots of 'no entry' signs stacked adjacent to all the turnings. That is because this weekend is the London Marathon. This has rather caught me by surprise this year; although logically the two past weekends having successively seen the Boat Race and the Grand National logically the Marathon was inevitable. I shall be out there amongst the spectators (weather permitting) and I actually know some people running this year. Good luck Dave! Good luck Kitty!

I thought that I was quite unusual in my liking for Oreos. I randomly tried then when I stayed in New York (nearly 10 years ago now!) along with Hershey bars and other candy/cookies that made up my daily diet. For a long time Oreos couldn't readily be found in the UK. A few random grocery stores and underground concessions, but no regular supply. Until recently, that is, when Sainsbury's started stocking them. In trays, in 'snack packs' (sealed in sets of four) and tubs of Oreos Minis. I think (hope) that is must be a growing trend though as this morning I saw an advert on the side of a bus advising me to "Twist, Lick and Dunk" alongside a picture of some Oreos. All we need is for somebody to start selling Grape Jelly and my happiness will be complete!

I'm only sleeping

One of the most annoying things in the world, I find, is not being able to sleep properly. I love to sleep... I could probably list it on my CV as a hobby. If it was an Olympic sport I'd definitely be competing. The various steroids I took last month messed with my sleep pattern to the point where I was only getting about four hours sleep a night. Beyond irritating. I usually could fall asleep OK, I just couldn't stay asleep. I did find that the wee small hours were extremely productive, similar to working in the office on a public holiday or a weekend.

The last couple of weeks I've had the opposite problem, too much sleeping. Maybe it is the last vestiges of the medication leaving my system? Not only have I had no trouble sleeping at night, I've had no trouble sleeping in the day either! The two are generally mutually exclusive. Not yesterday though. After sleeping about five hours during the day I fell asleep last night only to wake again after a couple of hours and then I found myself totally unable to fall asleep again.

I did eventually fall asleep again (at about 5:30am) only to wake up at ten past eight after one of those annoyingly vivid dreams where you dream you are waking up. This means that you wake up extremely confused as you thought you were already awake. At least I didn't dream the postman rang the doorbell and run down and fling open the door to freezing air (it has been known).

I had to get up soon anyway. The car has to go and have it's MOT done. For those non-UK dwellers, this is a test required by the Government to be carried out on older cars annually to ensure that they are roadworthy. It is highly irritating coming, as it does, just after the road tax. More expense.

Sunday 6 April 2008

Snooze Sunday

This afternoon should have been quite exciting, as it was the Bahrain Grand Prix. So exciting that I fell asleep during the race. Apart from a few scuffles (mostly involving the British drivers) there wasn't much of interest that happened. Poll-sitter Kubica lost his place pretty much off the start, and sadly never got it back (sadly because I don't like Ferraris). Nothing so far this season has lived up to the chaos of that first race back in Melbourne when only seven of the twenty cars finished the race. Happily the F1 caravan is moving back round towards Europe, which means at least we get to watch the games live instead of having to watch them off the V+ box because they were on at 3am or similar.

After the excitement of the F1 I went off to bed and managed to sleep for the rest of the afternoon, waking up at 7pm in time to take-up the cooking of the dinner (Rich had thoughtfully already put the chicken in the oven).

The other remarkable thing about today (apart from the total boredom and huge amount of sleeping) was the snow. I awoke this morning to find a couple of inches of snow covering the garden, and more flakes falling fast. It seems to be melting away now (happily) although it is till extremely cold!!!

Snow in SE7

Last night's movie was Rocket Science. I never held out much hope for this one as it was chosen from a recommendation in the same magazine that recommended the deeply disastrous Eagle vs. Shark (which we didn't make it to the end of). Rocket Science was reasonably well acted and reasonably well scripted. There was just about a story line. The problem was that there wasn't really any point to it. I got to the end of the movie and just thought 'So what?'. Better luck next time, perhaps!

Saturday 5 April 2008

More movies

The concerted movie watching continues unabated. The most recent movie is Ratatouille. An absolutely top class animation from Pixar. Generally a pretty enjoyable movie, although the impression towards the end was that there was too much story and too little time as the storyline seemed somewhat truncated. The rendition of Paris was superb as was the quality of the animation generally. Not a bad movie overall.

Friday 4 April 2008

Jubilee Line (and I wasn't even on it)

There are times when you can just be glad not to have been on the daily commute. Yesterday evening the blighted Jubilee Line suffered a major power failure, stranding trains in tunnels for up to three hours.

It is one of every tube travellers worst nightmares. I know every time the train comes to a halt between stations I always feel extremely nervous until it starts moving again. Of all the tube journeys undertaken in a year it probably only happens two or three times, but there is always the fear that you will be on the train when it does!

Thursday 3 April 2008


I've been wandering in cyberspace this morning reading various pages and articles relating to the many facets of sustainability. I've been delving into global warming and climate change, amongst other things. Some people are certain that it is definitely happening, other are certain that it definitely isn't happening. The strangest thing is that they seem to be using different parts of the same figures to prove their points. Confused yet? I am.

The most certain thing is that human activity needs to change. Whether or not you want to believe in global warming and climate change there is one simple inescapable fact. The earth's resources are limited. We have to find a different way of doing things because one day there will be no more fossil fuels, there will be no trees, and water will be harder and harder to find.

Solar power, wind power, geo-thermal power - they are all abundant and they are renewable. Instead of throwing our waste into deep holes in landfill we need to see what can go around again (and maybe even again). Because, when it's gone, it's gone. We've only got one planet, after all.

Frog emergency

Before I went to bed last night I went out into the garden to see how the occupants of the pond were doing.

We were very concerned to find a small frog tangled in the netting. At first we thought it was was just his foot that was tangled, but we soon discovered that he was completely caught, and had somehow got his head and arms into various knots.

Rich eventually managed to cut out the section of netting so he could take the poor little fellow into the house (better light) and gently cut away all the strands that were round his head and feet. Eventually he was free, and we put him into the smaller pond (our Frog Pond) whereupon he swam off to the bottom of the pond (hopefully to recover from his ordeal).

What with that and the dead fish we found tangled in the edge of the net today it looks like measures are going to have to be taken to protect the wildlife until the frog-spawn turns into tadpoles!

Wednesday 2 April 2008

The Old Hosptial

I've been wondering what is going on with the old hospital for a while now. Every time I went to Phsyio I'd see the hoardings and mean to visit the website when I got home, and then forget all about it, until the next time. This morning I read a post on The Greenwich Phantom: A New Heart for East Greenwich which brought me right up to date.

In the course of my work I often have occasion to research planning applications. It is disappointing that unlike other Boroughs there are not scans of the complete documentation available on-line, and one must instead take a visit to the council offices. I found the First Base website a bit light on content too. There is a lot more information that could be given!

I'm always very interested in large mixed use developments, especially ones 'in my back yard'. This one and the Love Lane one in Woolwich are both on an extremely large scale, and it will be interesting to see how they develop.

Tuesday 1 April 2008

April Fools

Even those of you who don't pay much attention to your calendars can't have failed to noticed that today is 1st April. Why? Well, the absolute glut of April Fools pranks and jokes circulating around the internet today. It's hard to be sure what is real news and what isn't. Google by themselves have practically filled the internet with various pranks and hoaxes.

Below are some links to a few that particularly caught my attention.

Blogger Buzz: Announcing Google Weblogs (beta)
BMW's War on Dog Wee
Video exclusive: First-ever images of the world's only flying penguins
gDay with MATE
Introducing Gmail Custom Time
Who Galactica TV Crossover Movie
The Facebook Tool which turns oour mobile into a snoop
Virgle: The Adventure of Many Lifetimes
A Fool and his Money: Chancellor tries his luck on the Lotto scratch cards

I also received an email from Pizza Hut offering me the services of the delivery driver who brings my pizza to clean my home whilst I eat. Realising (after a moment) they were joking I clicked the link anyway to see how far they were taking the prank. Not very far was the answer!

Other sites have very correctly removed their pranks after mid-day. The BBC's site had a link on the front page to the flying penguins video (are the Mirror in on the joke, or did they fall for it?) and Digital Spy had a story about Fearne Cotton being made Controller of ITV (also now gone). Everyone else seems to have expended too much time and energy to remove their pages so lightly. At least it is over for another year, and we can go back to reading the news without wondering if it is true or not...

Deeply dissapointed

Last night's game was postponed due to the bad weather. Particularly disappointing for me as NASN are unlikely to be showing the make-up game (who knows, their schedule still seems to be wanting to show the game from yesterday that never happened twice more).

It's a tricky time of year for NASN and MLB. The hockey season hasn't finished and there is basketball all over the schedule. I'd probably be delighted if I followed either sport, but I don't, so I'm just annoyed that there isn't more room for baseball.