Sunday 25 April 2010

This is marathon

It's that time of year again. The streets of London are closed to traffic and hundreds of thousands of people take to the streets on foot to run twenty-six miles through the capital.

This year I slept late and missed most of the runners pass our section of the route. I'd seen yesterday, whilst out and about, that the new sponsors (Virgin) have taken things very seriously and the distance marker up the road from us had metamorphosed from a small sign tagged on a traffic island to a giant scaffold construction. More of that below.

I opened the back door to check on the decking (it rained over night) to hear the sound of pealing bells and steel drums. Better go lend my support, I thought.

Most of the runners had passed (it was half ten already) and the stampede had slowed to a steady trickle.

I'd noticed this route marker yesterday (trying to see round it whilst turning out of the adjacent junction, hard to miss) although it grew the balloons overnight.

This is the tail end of the runners coming along our route - you can just see the chap in the full suit of armour in  between the lampposts on the right. That was actual armour too (I heard it clanking as he moved).

Other strange outfits was a giant (eight foot high) nurse; to bankers in full suits (including FTs and bowler hats); a squaddie (including his very heavy pack) and this year, replacing the rhinos, donkeys.

Before I even got as far as the Village the 'clean-up crew' was passing by.

These are the coaches which I assume are bringing the runners' belongings from the start of the race.

Just because the clean-up crew has gone by doesn't mean that the runners have. This poor chap was obviously in a lot of pain... I hope he makes it to the end.

With even more ruthless efficiency the event organisers were following the clean-up crew with a set of lorries to dismantle the mile-markers and so forth. By tomorrow there will be no trace that the marathon passed by.

And the roads of South London are silent again (although the police won't open them to traffic for at least another hour) leaving perplexed motorists wondering why they can't take their cars out and small children taking full advantage of the quiet. As I saw coming back from the Village; a set of small children playing an impromptu game of football  across the silent road... until their father found them and asked them what they were doing "Playing football" came the response "Not in the main road you're not" responded the sensible parent.

Saturday 24 April 2010

Flight of the bumble bee

My favourite Bird-brain

Bird-brain spent the entire time I was out in the garden (pretty much) watching me intently from the roof over the patio (where she always sits and watches me if I am outside). I put bread down for her yesterday (along with the other food - and that has been eaten). I put some more crumbs down and then spent the next five minutes telling her that food was there for her. She eventually got the message.

Hitting the deck

The decking as it was
We decided yesterday afternoon that the weather was fine and finances permitted it was time to sort out the mess that had become our decking. Our little terrace is what is left of what was once an attached greenhouse. The bit that is left is the slab and about six inches of wall. Several years back we decided to cover the drab concrete with a wooden deck. The main drawback in this plan, we didn't realise until we'd bought the decking and got it home. The decking we chose wasn't framed at the edges but about 3/4 of an inch in from the edge. This meant that unless you trod in exactly the right spots the decking was inclined to tip as you trod on an unsupported edge. Our second mistake was never treating the decking... so four or five years later the nails have dissolved and it was just a bunch of loosely connected planks.

Yesterday afternoon after some brief research I identified the cheapest solution and reserved the decking at B&Q to collect today. Needless to say in the tradition of just about every reserve online and collect experience I have ever had in a UK store they didn't reserve the stock... it wasn't available to collect. We eventually got twenty-four of the twenty-eight (one of which turned out to be broken and one of which irretrievably crooked).

Needs a good sweep!
First job. Take up away all furniture and ornaments and remove the old decking. This in itself was quite a job as we have a table set and countless garden ornaments.

The patio beneath the deck was filthy. Full of leaves and dirt... and four toads who had to be re-housed (much to their disgust!) - we've had to block of the entrance to make sure they don't come back tonight whilst everything is drying out!

So I swept (and swept) and got rid of all the filth... including several bits of fake flower and leaves that had once adorned the balustrade of our neighbours' first floor terrace.

Fine new decking
Next job - laying the new decking. Quite easy for me as Rich had to do the hard work; sawing the bits at the end to size!!!

The finished article (well, nearly - it needs one more coat). Is well worth all the hard work!

The stain has given it (as well as my arms) a lovely warm glow... and hopefully will prolong the life of the wood a few extra years!

One more coat tomorrow and then all the furniture goes back in place.

Friday 23 April 2010

Kicking back to relax

I've not had my time for blogging of late. Work has been insanely busy and ten or twelve hour days have been the norm. Spending that amount of time in the company of my office PC leaves me with no appetite for turning on the laptop when I'm home - especially as I've been hooked up to the iPhone on the journey between the two!

One of the worst things about working in an office is being stuck indoors all day. There has been some fantastic spring weather to miss this week. The sun is shining, the sky is blue - absolutely gorgeous. I spent a few hours gardening last weekend and a while just enjoying the calm this afternoon.

My Fuchsia Phylis - back for another year
Beautiful Blossom
The first of my baby plants flowers
My shady arbour
Grizzly find (dead fox) under the shed
Mr Toad was under the decking - I'm worried he'll get a concussion!
The decking is getting replaced tomorrow!
Next generation frogs and toads, sunbathing

Skywatch Friday (26)

We've had quiet skies over the UK for most of the last week, what with the famous volcanic ash cloud... chem-trails are well and truly back now.

Wednesday 7 April 2010

Election Fever?

So it is that time again. Parliament is dissolved and a General Election has been called.

I could be more excited. I live in a Labour 'safe seat'. So safe that with one brief exception some time in the Eighties when it went Liberal it has been Labour since the end of World War 2. I don't support any one party. I vote for whoever has policies with which I can identify. Not that it matters where I live. Unless I vote Labour I'm probably wasting my vote.

I checked out the BBC - in 2005 Labour took the seat with just over 49% of the vote. Since then boundaries have been re-drawn... bits have been lost to Eltham and different bits gained from Eltham.The net result is that the BBC projects that Labour would have taken 52.5% of the vote on that basis back in 2005.

Time to change the system and get proportional representation. Less than 50% of the votes cast for the MP in my constituency and just over 55% turnout. Hardly a ringing endorsement is it? I wonder how much of the voter apathy is down to lack of interest/education and how much is down to knowing that if you don't want to vote Labour you aren't going to get very far?

Thursday 1 April 2010

April Fools

I missed most of the April Fools Day pranks this year due to it being a week day and me being at work. I was particularly disappointed not to receive an email from Pizza Hut this year who have had some excellent pranks in previous years.

I did however get this email from Gillette advertising a shirt to combat body odour (well - they were suggesting that I forward it to friends and family - but as it didn't arrive until ten to one...)
[see left]

There was also this email from Toptable...
[see right]

Last but not least... the incomparable Google - who probably had loads of silliness but I only noticed one... the sudden desire to measure search times in all sorts of weird and wonderful units. I was even more confused as I'd landed on and it was gone mid-day!