Tuesday 28 July 2009

Importance of well placed signs

Walking home last night I noticed a yellow diversion sign. Funny, I thought to myself, that it doesn't tell you where you are diverted from, where you are diverted to or indeed anything much at all.
Then suddenly everything became clear; it was the lamp post at fault, not the sign writers!

Monday 27 July 2009

Another station

Today my travels took me towards Oxford, out of Paddington station. Recently refurbished (well, certainly within the last decade) Paddington takes you towards the West, South West and Wales.
This charming statue of Paddington Bear sits in "The Lawns" the dedicated food and shopping area towards the front of the station.; shared equally by commuters and well fed pigeons! 
It is always worth noting that the bear was named after the station and not vice-versa; indeed as the books says "Mr. and Mrs. Brown first met Paddington on a railway platform. In fact, that was how he came to have such an unusual name for a bear".

Thursday 23 July 2009

Diverted buses and vandalised cars

The road works in the Borough of Greenwich are like the painting of the Forth Bridge... they are never ending. It seems that as soon as they have finished digging everything up they are back digging up the same bit as where they started.
This was evidenced by the 486 going on diversion again this week. Fortunately it seems that whatever they were going to do in Repository Road they either finished very quickly or changed their minds about because by Wednesday evening the 486 was back where it belonged again. Lucky really, as the temporary diversion was not at all well advertised with only these little yellow notices on the bus stops!

In other 'news on the streets of South East London' a car was broken into in our street on Tuesday night. I'm not sure if much was stolen; but a big mess was left behind.

Friday 17 July 2009

No trouble with Tribbles

One of my birthday presents was the latest Tribble

This is agitated Tribble

This is happy Tribble

This is my littlest Tribble


My mother rang just after seven this morning. Luckily she rang my mobile so I wasn't disturbed. No doubt she was calling early to tell me that I was exactly 34 years old (she told me later I'd been 34 for two hours). I got a further reminder of age later when the delightful birthday tradition of 'cake for breakfast' was observed... along with a fledgling conflagration which was one candle for every two years as the cake didn't have room for all the candles.

I've had a delightful day playing my new Harry Potter game on the Xbox360... my kind of game - not to hard and easy to pick up. Later on there's a take away for dinner and anything I want to watch on TV. Rich did offer to take me to see the new Harry Potter film at the cinema but I declined for the reason that it is so long I'd never make it to the end without either having to go to the bathroom, falling asleep, losing the plot or possibly all three!

Rich bought me some lovely gifts - including the new Black Eyed Peas CD, the latest James Patterson Maximum Ride book and the Simpson's Season 11 for the next time I feel like staying in bed for hours!

My gem-globe bottle... one of two and so delightfully pink
A gift from my nearly-mother-in-law

A pewter necklace - a gift from my parents

'Hakle' (that's the Andrex Puppy in Europe) and Space Duck - two of the cutest presents from Rich

Charlton Duck - the ducks are breeding in the bathroom!

Wednesday 15 July 2009

Little London moments (again)

This morning we were sitting quietly in our office (waiting for the new router to arrive and re-connect us to the outside world) when we were disturbed by a tirade of horns sounding from the street below. Looking out the window revealed the culprits to be a large lorry and a badly parked high-end car which had reduced the road so much that the waiting lorry felt unable to progress. As I watched several taxis backed up the side street deciding to try another route (straight on, turn left, turn left again, brings you to the next turning from the opposite direction). A chap (I had assumed from the parked lorry) eventually directed the stranded vehicle through the gap (I knew it was wide enough!) - he then ran off down the street!

The bus stop nearest to my house has moved due to temporary closure of the next stop. It is now opposite the end of my street (hurrah). No-one told the bus drivers though as the bus to North Greenwich this morning stopped at the closed stop before the temporary stop. Even more peculiar is that the next stop is only a few hundred feet up the road. What can they be doing this time to cause the closure of the bus stop again. Maybe they are removing the abandoned couch from the grass nearby?!

As I just missed two buses at North Greenwich last night I was pretty certain of a long wait until the next one. I finally gave in to my curiosity and went to see the monument to Jackson. Of course most of it had been removed earlier that day but there remained a tribute wall which still seemed very popular, especially with this young fan who posed to allow me to take his photo.

Mini Jackson impersonator
The tribute wall

The Fourth Plinth (again)

This morning I took a detour through Trafalgar Square on my way to work to see the latest happenings on the Fourth Plinth.

Since the 6th July an 'installation' conceived by Anthony Gormley 'One & Other' has been occupying the plinth. And it will continue to do so for some months to come. Twenty-four hours a day seven days a week for a hundred days, in fact. Random members of the public chosen by lottery from applicants stand up there for an hour each. Interesting experiment... and it just isn't art!

Regular readers will know I'm not a fan of the constantly changing contents of the empty plinth. I'm only pleased that this was one of two projects chosen from a shortlist of six the only one I would have voted for will be up next.

7-8 Wednesday morning
Change over!

8-9 Wednesday morning

Google Voice

When I first read about Google Voice I was extremely excited. It seemed like the answer to a lot of problems. I went to the page and signed up to receive an invite straight away.I was excited to see in my inbox this morning "You have been invited to Google Voice". Until I read the email.

What the initial publicity hadn't made clear was that this service wouldn't be available to non-US users. Not surprising really. The US doesn't have the same excessive charges to call mobiles as the UK does and they also charge for receiving SMS messages. So the Google Voice business model is probably not very commercially sensible in the UK. I've not been able to find any official position from Google on if or when the service will be rolled-out to other countries other than the service is "only available for sign up in the US". Come on Google use your Voice and let the rest of us know where you stand.

Sunday 12 July 2009

Exercising my ancient right

Yesterday I took advantage of my ancient "right" as a Freeman of the City of London to drive my sheep over London Bridge.

By virtue of patrimony (both my parents are Freemen) I became a Freeman ten years ago. The Freedom of the City goes back many (many) centuries and used to be associated with membership of the Livery companies although since the Nineteenth Century this has not been a prerequisite.

The right of a Freeman to drive sheep over London Bridge is undocumented and possibly arises from misinterpretation of the Freeman's freedom from bridge tolls when bringing animals into the city for sale.

However it comes around it was a big fete yesterday as London Bridge (not in this incarnation!) celebrated its 800th birthday. In support of the Lord Mayor's Charity Freemen could apply to joing the sheep drive. Unlike last September when the sheep were confined to the pavement the whole bridge was closed for the event... the only fly in the ointment was the weather!

At the appointed time I registered myself at Fishmonger's Hall and waited for my turn. We were divided into Sections (two lamposts over the bridge for each section!) and marshalled to our places to await the sheep. At this point the rain arrived! My sheep and I got rather wet as it poured down stopping soon after I handed my sheep over. Typical! Luckily the sheep were all nicely shorn so there was no wet sheep smell!

Above - sheep waiting for the off, sheep dog keeping an eye on proceedings.

The Pikemen and Musketeers adding to the pageantry.

Some of the sheep drivers before the rain started.

Monday 6 July 2009

Doing the responsible thing?

For a very long time I was extremely derelict in my duty to my teeth. Let’s face it… I pretty much ignored them. About a decade passed and I didn’t got to the dentist, not once. My reasoning was that I only go to the doctor when I am sick so I only go to the dentist if I have toothache. The last time I’d visited the dentist (back last century) I was taking a brief foray into responsible adulthood and going for a check-up. The routine check-up also gained me a filling (even though I didn’t have a toothache until after it was completed).

So. Ten years pass and suddenly I have toothache. This is enough to galvanise me into registering with a dentist and going for an emergency appointment. It turns out not to be my teeth that are the trouble but my gums. So I advance on a course of Hygienist visits. These cost £45 (as they aren’t available on the NHS) and basically consist of what I remember my dentist doing at the end of an appointment when I was a child. Modern healthcare is a wonderful thing.

This wakeup call was enough to decide me that I need to take better care of my mouth. So, this morning I went for a routine check-up (for the first time in a decade). For less than ten minutes the dentist poked around my teeth, told me to floss better, and to come back in six months. Now I’m back to wondering if my teeth really need that much attention, after all – even on the NHS it costs over £15 just to walk through the door!

Sunday 5 July 2009

All sorts of sports

As I sit here in the full blast of the portable air-con unit I'm half watching the Men's Final at Wimbledon. Half watching because tennis isn't one of the (now) many sports I watch. Ironic, really, as it is one of the few sports I follow that I have actually played!

Ask anyone, I'm not the sporty type - never have been... even when I was younger and a lot fitter. The problem was I could never really see the point of most of the sports we played at school. In winter it was mostly team sports; hockey, lacrosse and netball. I couldn't really fathom why it matter if a ball went in a net or through a hoop. In netball I used to act as a spare referee so I didn't have to run around too much (and you got to blow a whistle!) and in lacrosse and hockey I played goal - I like all the extra padding you got to wear! The only time I played outfield in hockey I ran up the field the wrong way and scored in my own net.

Summer saw more individual sports. Our school was lucky enough to have its own pool so we did a bit of swimming... I am not much of a swimmer, hampered by the fact that I don't like putting my face in the water! We also did a regrettable amount of track and field. This included running, hurdles, long-jump, high-jump, javelin, discus and shot-put. Seriously - who thinks it is a good idea to give someone with no hand-eye co-ordination heavy or sharp objects and ask them to throw them. Long-jump I didn't mind too much, I especially enjoyed raking the sand pit! High-jump and I never got on at all. Hurdles I usually fell over the hurdles and as for running, not something I was terribly fond of. We were doing some 'benchmark' test type thing where the whole class had to run 800 metres... I gave up and walked around the track; at which point my teacher asked me if I ever ran "not unless I'm going to miss the bus" was my cheeky response.

Tennis was always one of our favourite summer sports lessons though. The grass courts were right out towards the running track. You'd take your rackets and an allotted amount of balls, all of which must be accounted for at the end of class. At this point you could legitimately hit the ball out of the court and then spend a large part of class 'looking for the ball'. Tennis was taught to us in a haphazard manner. I still remember the basic rules to this day - however for a long time it wasn't explained that the point of the game was to place the ball so that your opponent couldn't return it. I thought you were supposed to hit the ball to your opponent!

Like most sports where individuals compete I find tennis generally dull to watch... unless a really good rally gets going. I find I only enjoy team sports where there is an element of strategy and statistics. I think that is why I enjoy NFL, baseball, F1 and cricket... oh, and sometimes football (when my teams aren't being rubbish!).

The only sports I ever managed to play much myself (due to my appalling lack of hand-eye co-ordination) are badminton (where the shuttlecock goes a bit slower and allows you to position yourself to hit it) and bizzarely squash - although this is possibly due more to luck than any judgement. I still have my complete raquet collection in my Mum's loft - tennis, badminton and squash; although it must be a good ten years since any of them had any use!

Now that Wimbledon is all but over there is a summer of cricket, F1 and baseball to look forward to... all downhill to the football and NFL seasons then!