30 April 2009


I have unashamedly 'borrowed' this image from an on-line store. It reminds me very much of my late friend, A who died 4 years ago and who was a motorcycle cop with the local police-force and he used to regale me with tales of his days with the traffic police.

His favourite pursuit car was a volvo, and one day he was out when a motorcyclist followed him so closely but didn't overtake because of it being a police car. Well this went on for a couple of minutes and eventually he stopped the car, went round to the rear and lifted the door motioning to the bike rider to open his visor.

When the rider asked what A wanted, the reply was "I thought you wanted to get in the back you were following so close" a few splutters from the biker but he was sent on his way with some good advice dealt with some humour.

A was very good natured, but that was him and his partner and he provided me with some very good advice when I decided to get a motorbike myself not to mention showing me how to ride (or rather showing me how he rode - I just followed slowly behind).

Just goes to prove that a cop is not always the bad guy, sometimes they are out to help you help yourself.

28 April 2009

Fished out

Last night after work, I fished the remaining fish out of the gloop that was the water feature in the garden. It was full of green sludge, water if you will, that looked as though it could support nothing useful and I had an aquarium inside ready and waiting for the occupants of the feature.

When I had the bright idea to have a water feature in the garden, about 4 years ago (or thereabouts), I didn't intend to have fish but a neighbour who had a pond full of koi carp and other fish let me have some pond weed for oxygenation purposes. So I filled the tub up with weed, rocks and gravel as well as water and sat and enjoyed the water irises, both blue and yellow, as they bloomed in the middle of the lawn.

It was about 4 months later when I was sitting on the grass, admiring the beetles and water boatmen on the surface of the water when I noticed movement. Somehow when I had brought the weed from my neighbours pond it had contained eggs and I was suddenly the owner of some tiny little fishlets.

I originally counted 22 fishlets in the pond, and various of them succumbed to cats, ill-health, the visit of a heron to the garden and cold winters and last night I took out 10 medium sized fish from the tub and relocated them to the aquarium in the kitchen where they are happily swimming around wondering why they could suddenly see movement after months in green sludge.

Chances are that eventually they will get far too big for the tank and will have to go into a pond but for the moment, my total number of pets has just gone up and I am trying to think of names for them all. Pics will follow when I find my camera in the chaos that is the house in disorder.

27 April 2009

Zummerzet Weekend

I had a great weekend, camping in Cheddar near Axbridge in Zummerzet to attend the BMW AGM and met a lot of old friends and some new ones as well. We arrived on the Friday afternoon after travelling down, using the Motorway for speed because we wanted to get set up on the campsite and enjoy the evening entertainment. The campsite was superb, with individual pitches having both water and power supplied as well as a dusk til dawn light, and the pathways were great for motorbikes, the gravel not being slippery at all. I even managed to get a wolf whistle from another member, only because my bike and hers are the same model and colour, when he realised he apologised... sure and isn't that always the way, never for me but for someone else :-)

Once set up we went down to the bar, which was open for residents and enjoyed a couple of drinks I had some Pear Cider and we watched while other pulled in and then set up on the fields. The meals were good, and the bar/kitchen staff absolutely brilliant. We arranged a taxi to the AGM hotel in the morning with two other members which helped to keep the costs down, and then we settled down to an evening with old/new friends.

The AGM was more entertaining than most, the entire committee was either stood down, or not elected and has now got brand new people in positions all of whom will do their best to ensure we move forward as a club and not keep harking on to the good old days. While there are good reasons to keep history important, it is also necessary to realise that bike riders and buyers are a different kettle of fish with different needs in this century and we want to keep all of them happy with the club which will see some positive changes in the year ahead. But the most important change of all was to see the club bean counter get the chop, I have come up against him in the past and it was unpleasant to deal with him so I don't regret his departure one iota.

Saturday night saw a good night in the bar, for many a reason but not least of which was a new spirit amongst the members. More beer was drunk, and we headed back to the tents with a head spinning in the cold night air; unfortunately it was so cold I couldn't sleep comfortably and had to keep getting up to go to the toilets so was glad when morning came and a hot drink.

We left the tents up to dry out before packing them away, as the sun was shining brightly as we went down to breakfast one last time. Though the site was so good, I hope we get a chance to go back to it for a club event as there were a number of interesting places nearby that would have been good for a visit.

The route home took us through Bath and back out to the motorway, we were lucky in that the rain held off so the tent was dry when packed away as were most of the stuff, just needing an airing before being stored away ready for the next rally at the Spring Bank Holiday in Rutland.

25 April 2009

Saturday Satire - Change is not always for the best

A middle aged woman had a heart attack and was taken to the Hospital.

While on the operating table she had a near death Experience... Seeing God she asked "Is my time up?" God said, "No, you have another 43 years, 2 months and 8 days to live. Upon recovery, the woman decided to stay in the hospital and have a facelift, liposuction, and a tummy tuck. She even had someone come in and change her hair color. Since she had so much more time to live, she figured she might as well make the most of it.

After her last operation, she was released from the hospital. While crossing the street on her way home, she was killed by an ambulance.

Arriving in front of God, she demanded : "I thought you said I had another 40 years? Why didn't you pull me from out of the path of the ambulance?"

God replied ''i didnt recognise you''

23 April 2009

Google St George

Don't know about you, and how you feel about celebrating St George's Day, but from my perspective it is nice to seet that even Google makes an effort even if the Government does.. anyone at Google want to stand as my MP?

Happy St George's Day to everyone, a good old English Roast Beef dinner is called for however I am going out for a chinese takeaway tonight (another old english custom I believe) and having a drink of beer to wash it down with any luck.

And for those of you interested, this is the ratz new home, much easier for me to get in and clean, and get closer to them and the girlz are definitely getting a bit more confident about coming out to the door for their treats. The joy of this cage is the fact it is on wheels and allows me to move it out to the other room to enjoy some sunshine.. well it would be if it weren't in such an untidy state due to some decluttering going on.

Barney (who is the shyest of the two) is even starting to come when you call her, while Gus is turning out to be a bit of a thug where food is concerned as she will often take her treat and then beat up Barney before taking hers as well. She doesn't have it all her own way as Barney can only take so much before Gus ends up on her back and her ears proverbially boxed.

22 April 2009

Naming 'things'

I never thought about it before, but Annette posted a comment about the identity of the car being referred to as a she, well it set me thinking my current car is definitely a she whereas my first vehicle a Ford Transit van was known as Tommy.

Tommy hated me, with a vengeance he was refusing to start, misfiring, cutting out and stalling until I could take no more and in the end Dad drove him while I drove his Montego instead.

I believe Tommy had 3 changes of starter motor before I sold him for £150 pounds more than I paid for him and traded him for Harry who was my Peugeot 205 (he got his name because he was artic white and therefore was Flash Harry).

Max (the motorbike) was always male right from the moment we met in the showroom.. as in Mad Max because of his looks and because I got told I was mad for getting a bike... lol

21 April 2009

Warm spring days

Today I took a book out at lunchtime, sat on a picnic rug on the grass and enjoyed the sunshine and warmth.. yet a week ago it was cold, misty and very much not at all outdoor friendly. I enjoyed getting out of the office, away from the computer and all forms of technology, back into something that is pure form of escapism for me - a book.

This one is by Quintin Jardine called Fallen Gods and set in and around Scotland. Hadn't read anything by the author before, but thought it looked interesting when I saw it at the book swap on Friday last week. Needless to say, I managed 70 pages before I had to reluctantly return to work, but it sits on my desk willing me to find more time to read. Oh the joys of being a bookaholic :-)

Another book I picked up last week, was one I have always wanted to read. Ernest Hemingway's Death in the Afternoon, while I have seen glimpses of bullfighting when I was in Spain for a holiday once, it was very much something to be avoided as I didn't and still don't pretend to understand the reasoning behind seeing this as a sport - in fact I rank it up there with bull-baiting and dog-fighting ethically. However, I like Hemingway's style with words and the fact that he also kept a journal of his travels and thoughts as do I but without the style and charisma he does and so I will enjoy the book for that reason if no other.

20 April 2009

Every cloud has a silver lining

My poor car was due for it's MOT last Saturday, and I had been reliably informed by the local garage that it was going to need front and rear brake discs as well as brake pads in order to pass the MOT.. just go ouch now...as they quoted in the region of £400 incl labour and vat - megaouch...

A colleague at work, knew of someone who did motorvehicle work as a hobby and gave me the number so last Tuesday I dropped her off at his house and picked her up tonight complete with a new MOT certificate and not only did he change the discs and pads but also seems to have sorted out an annoying little squeak that had developed. He proudly showed me the old, and much worn discs and how they had grooves in the back. Not too bad as it was the first major work done on her for 45,000 miles and she is in good condition for her age.

The price I paid for the work wasn't important, but I know that she is fit for another year and when I have other stuff that needs doing I will be sure to contact him for his advice and help. I also promised when I am around on the bike to go over and see him as he hasn't seen a belt drive BMW before.

19 April 2009

It works

After all the angst, of an old computer and lack of USB ports... finally I have joined the wireless set -ok it is by using an internet cable, but it is a start. If I install the disks for the wireless adaptor I may even be able to use the old desktop as a wireless computer. The speed is faster than the old basic broadband and even includes an internet phone.

While I was at it, I have replaced the old printer with a more up to date one, though the limitation of the lack of usb ports will make me go out and get a new usb hub to ensure that I can access my flash drives which I use to take work to and from the Uni.

What didn't happen was the pruning of the rosebush, which has survived another weekend, but with the light evenings and hopefully warmer weather it should have a severe pruning this week just in time for the green composting bags to be emptied next week.

18 April 2009

Saturday Satire - Mums' know you know...

A young man called Paul invited his mother for dinner. During the course of the meal, his mother couldn't help but notice how handsome Paul's flatmate, Simon, was. She had long been suspicious of a relationship between the two, and this only made her more curious. Over the course of the evening, while watching the two interact, she started to wonder if there was more between Paul and his flatmate than met the eye.

Reading his mums thoughts, Paul volunteered, "I know what you must be thinking, but I assure you, Simon & I are just flatmates".

About a week later, Simon came to Paul saying, "Ever since your mother came to dinner, I've been unable to find the frying pan, you don't suppose she took it do you?"

"Well I doubt it, but I'll email her just to be sure" said Paul. So he sat down and wrote: "Dear Mother, I'm not saying that you 'did' take the frying pan from my house and I'm not saying you didn't but the fact remains that it has been missing ever since you were here for Dinner. Love, Paul"

Several days later, Paul received an email from his mother which read: "Dear Son, I'm not saying you 'do' sleep with Simon, and I'm not saying that don't, but the fact remains that if he were sleeping in his own bed he would have found the frying pan by now!. Love Mum"

17 April 2009


Finally, and after much nagging, I have done something about the broadband.. I was on option 1 from BT for ever such a long while though they kept offering me BT vision, free hub... it never seemed like the right time to take up any of the offers until now.

Now I have upgraded the system to Wireless, well I will have as soon as I have read the instructions and dealt with the issues relating to the PC not being wireless compliant at the moment not to mention installing the software, dealing with any cabling issues etc. Despite working in IT I am not a technician and never have been so this may take longer than I anticipate or I will have it cracked in 5 minutes flat.

I spoke to a very nice gentleman from BT last week, who when asked for a very advantageous price did his sterling best and I am now paying a lot less than I did for option 1 - I am sure that those of you out there will tell me that I could have paid a lot less for another product elsewhere but I was thinking that at the end of the day it is reliable and not too expensive.

So this weekend will see me plumbing the depths of trying to fathom out how to attach an aging PC to the wireless hub or relocating the PC closer to the hub so I can wire it in. Not to mention hacking revenge on the rosebush while it exacts its revenge on me by snagging me in its thorns. Hopefully on Sunday the weather will brighten up from the grey dreek damp weather into something more springlike and I can get out for a ride.. I have a hankering for a coastal run to Norfolk or Suffolk to get breakfast by the sea but haven't yet decided on where.

In my cleaning up of one of the cupboards holding some cutlery which I have pruned, I found some very tarnished spoons and when these were cleaned up proved to be marked with the REME regimental badge.. I have 6 dessert spoons and 8 teaspoons - I can only suppose that Dad never managed to bag the knives or forks to go with them.. they have been kept, but need to find some velvet to wrap them up in to stop the tarnishing getting too bad.

The Ratz are happily tearing up sheets of newspaper used to line the floor of their cage to make a bigger nest in the hammock.. seems they actually like their new cage after all the hassle I had to put them in it the other day.. pictures will hopefully be in the not too distant future.

15 April 2009

Gardening Woes

Somewhere over the depths of Winter, and the late snows seems to have got into the Sage bush and some of it has died back.. So yesterday I hacked into the rest as it has a fair chance of regrowing (probably unlikely to be the same with the lavenders - which seem to have bit the dust).

It was nice yesterday in the sunshine to go round and have a look at what has survived, both my attempts at growing them and Winter's cold fingers of ice, amongst which are a new clematis, the bronze fennel, the bay tree a couple of fuschia's and some of the other plants.

The rosebush has grown rampantly over the Winter and needs pruning drastically, but it is viscious and I had enough to do yesterday without getting scratched to blazes doing that as well so it will have to wait for one evening this week.

The ratz finally moved into their new home yesterday, having had the cage up close to them and even opened the doors so they could explore (did they heck as like!) it was a forceable eviction.. Note no animals or humans were hurt in this eviction... I used a tip from one of the rat forum who said use a bag so the ratz would climb in and then move the bag from one cage to the other.. it worked though there was an awful moment when Gus was in the new cage and getting stressed while Barnie was in the old one feeling equally stressed without her buddy.. but eventually we had success and the old cage is now dismantled awaiting a new lucky owner while the ratz are getting acquainted in their new Abode complete with branches lopped off of one of the apple trees that they can knaw on to their heart's content.

14 April 2009

And that was Easter

A grey and dank Friday morning, Max and I set off to Derby to stay with friends. Not my choice of weather, nor road, but M1 it had to be and filtering through the traffic was for me, at least, a slow progress.. admittedly faster than other car drivers because they were stationary... the reason I am slow is that those gaps that appear quite wide when you are approaching them, seemed narrower when travelling through. Only when I reached Leicester area did the drizzle turn more to rain and by the time I reached Derby itself I was dripping on the outside.

Though the friends had seen the bike before it was because I had lent him to SOH last year when his bike picked up an unfortunate puncture and the only solution was to lend him Max. It is a fair difference when you are used to riding a bike with a fairing to be riding something so naked and as it was a bitterly cold March day SOH reached his eventual location chilled to the bone. Now me, I ride with my electric waistcoat, heated grips and that does to a certain extent keep me warm so I don't mind too much.

Walked into the town centre on Saturday morning, a good 2-3 miles and it was a good pace but enjoyable in the spring sunshine. I ended up buying a Nintendo DS as they were doing a bargain on the pre-owned variety in a shop along with two brand new games this was the cheapest option I had ever seen. Though quite why today's pre-owned is better than second-hand beats me.. are they not the one and same?

We had steak and chips for our Saturday meal, along with some very potent pepper sauce... enough to fuel rockets to the moon but very nice with it..and the steak was some of the best I had tasted in a long while and the only chips I ever make are oven ones the home made deep fried golden ones that were served were delicious.

Sunday I took the bike over to Matlock Bath, to see the other bikes and their riders congregating along the main road was good fun and Max attracted his own comments notably 'What in the Hell's name is that!'... comes of having a belt drive bike.. usually reserved for Harley Davidsons. This of course meant that watching the Help for Heroes match in Bournemouth had to be postponed... but you can't be in two places at once.

Monday was a return home, to finish off the tidying up of the kitchen, to sort out what hasn't been done and what still needed to be done. While it is nice to go away, it is nice to return home to all things familiar.

11 April 2009

Saturday Satire - Don't you just love the optimism

The French President is sitting in his office when his telephone rings.

'Hallo, Mr. Sarkozy!' a heavily accented voice said. 'This is Paddy down at the Harp Pub in County Clare , Ireland. I am ringing to inform you that we are officially declaring war on you! We voted to reject the Lisbon treaty!'

'Well, Paddy,' Sarkozy replied, 'This is indeed important news! How big is your army?'

'Right now,' says Paddy, after a moment's calculation, 'there is meself, me Cousin Sean, me next door neighbour Seamus, and the entire darts team from the pub. That makes eleven!'

Sarkozy paused. 'I must tell you, Paddy, that I have 100,000 men in my army waiting to move on my command.'

'Begoora!' says Paddy. 'I'll have to ring you back.'

Sure enough, the next day, Paddy calls again.

'Mr. Sarkozy, the war is still on. We have managed to get us some infantry equipment!'

'And what equipment would that be Paddy?' Sarkozy asks.

'Well, we have two combines, a bulldozer, and Murphy's farm tractor.'

Sarkozy sighs amused. 'I must tell you, Paddy, that I have 6,000 tanks and 5,000 armoured personnel carriers. Also, I have increased my army to 150,000 since we last spoke.'

'Saints preserve us!' says Paddy. 'I'll have to get back to you.'

Sure enough, Paddy rings again the next day.

'Mr. Sarkozy, the war is still on! We have managed to get ourselves airborne! We have modified Jackie McLaughlin's ultra-light with a couple of shotguns in the cockpit, and four boys from the Shamrock Bar have joined us as well!'

Sarkozy was silent for a minute and then cleared his throat.

'I must tell you, Paddy, that I have 100 bombers and 200 fighter planes.
My military bases are surrounded by laser-guided, surface-to-air missile sites. And since we last spoke, I have increased my army to 200,000!'

Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!' says Paddy, 'I will have to ring you back.'

Sure enough, Paddy calls again the next day.

'Top o' the mornin', Mr. Sarkozy! I am sorry to inform you that we have had to call off the war.'

'Really? I am sorry to hear that,' says Sarkozy. 'Why the sudden change of heart?'

'Well,' says Paddy, 'we had a long chat over a few pints of Guinness and packets of crisps, and we decided there is no flamin' way we can feed 200,000 prisoners .'

09 April 2009


I have been busy since my return of decluttering, old pieces of furniture that I inherited from my parents that I have never liked are about to bite the dust and be offered to some willing (victim) recipient on freecycle or face the sledgehammer. They take up space and are not what I need, the contents were just left and a lot of it has gone in the bin.

I managed to get a butchers block from a high street retailer for half-price, so one of the benefits of the recession, and that will replace the wobbly breakfast bar and sideboard in the kitchen. I will be saving up for something else or working on something else to replace the breakfast bar but it may well just be a folding table I have already.

The collection of whisky minatures has gone from the display cabinets in the front room and you can actually now see the other items more clearly. Zeltus is going to be the recipient of at least one of the bottles as it is Pusser's Rum and I have kept a couple of minatures to remind me of Dad - the rest will be put up for sale and used for something else.

The house currently looks like a tip, and probably will do for a while yet, but eventually order will be restored and then it will look half-way decent. The Ratz new cage (an Abode) has been put together but I still need to persuade them they wish to leave their current cage and go to the new one (preferably without getting bitten). The new one is bigger, but also on wheels so they can have a change of scenery without me having to manhandle a large and rather heavy cage around to do it.

Sometimes it is nice to be working to achieve something I really want, and thanks to a holiday in France and time to think about it, I know what I want and am working towards it.. hopefully in the future all will become clearer.

07 April 2009


I went out to Bedford last night to watch the Barbarians play Bedford Blues in the 82nd Mobbs Memorial match.. it was a good game, and even had a cornish connection as one of the Barbarians was a Redruth player. As I don't own a Redruth shirt, I made do with a Barbarians top but cheered both teams equally. Although it was quite nippy, it didn't rain on the game for which I was grateful but glad to get back in the car at the end of the match.

It ended up with a score of 41 to Bedford and 74 to the Barbarians, but both teams played their hearts out given it is towards the end of the main season.

Anyone know what the Mobbs Memorial match is all about? I haven't yet managed to find anything out about it or why it came about.

06 April 2009

I had a great time in France

Landed on Saturday afternoon, and by the time I got home I was absolutely shattered. Sunday was spent catching up on tasks such as washing etc and after a busy week already I opted for a leisurely bath, watched the Northern Ireland drama and fell asleep.

Feet haven't touched the ground at work, hence the blog not being updated, but now I think there is light at the end of the tunnel and if I find it is someone else bringing more work they might swing from the rafters.

Stopped at Oradour Sur Glane on the way back to the airport, it was a very moving experience, not just because of the feelings of the place but knowing some of the history. Such a tragic story, but not alone in paying the price of war I am afraid. I am glad it is left as a testament to man's inhumanity to man, it helps to remind us of our rights and responsibilities. We have the right to a peaceful life, and a responsibility to protect those rights.

I was glad to get back to the airport, and it was worth paying excess fare on the luggage which contains all sorts of goodies that I brought back and the cheese and walnut bread made a good snack at the airport. I even brought coals to newcastle in the form of a chocolate easter egg that Zeltus, his wife, me and a friend won as part of a quiz team on the Thursday night we won 4 eggs and therefore each had one. Needless to say I also brought back some french chocolate including some very nice cocoa dusted walnuts which are a regional speciality.

The ratz survived the week without me, and I think even missed me though the person that took care of them said she read them a goodnight story on one of her visits, and even said they were quite cute. I think most people's view of ratz are the big brown scary variety.

It is good to be home again, but I did enjoy my visit to Zeltus not to mention polishing the acres of oak panelling with beeswax on the Friday :-)

04 April 2009

Saturday Satire - Part 710

A few days ago I was having some work done at my local garage..

A blonde came in and asked for a seven-ten.

We all looked at each other and another customer asked, 'What is a seven-ten?

She replied, 'You know, the little piece in the middle of the engine, I have lost it and need a new one..'

She replied that she did not know exactly what it was, but this piece had always been there.

The mechanic gave her a piece of paper and a pen and asked her to draw what the piece looked like.

She drew a circle and in the middle of it wrote 710. He then took her over to another car which had its bonnet up and asked 'is there a 710 on this car?'

She pointed and said, 'Of course, its right here (click the link)

03 April 2009

Perigord Region

Zeltus's wife took me to Perigoux yesterday as I was on the hunt for some local perigourdine delicacies to take home, such as foie gras, confit de canard, cocoa dusted walnuts etc.. I hadn't visited Perigoux before, so we went there and the small streets and narrow walkways reminded me very much of York with the ginels and snickets.

After a cup of coffee, and the obligatory pastry we set off to explore the town. It is always fascinating to look into the shops and see the different objects for sale, so different to english towns and so much the same.

I managed to get some petite tins of foie gras in different styles, and in a small chocolate shop found the elusive cocoa dusted walnuts - these I brought when I first visited 4 years ago and they are lovely and not too sweet - my quest was completed with a visit to carrefour where I managed to pick up some sweets for friends etc.

Then last night, we went out to a quiz night with another ex-pat Rob, the grand prize being chocolate Easter Eggs - Cadbury's. Given the first 12 questions were on wimbledon winners I wondered if we had a hope, but after than general knowledge saw us sharpen our wits.. one question we got right, by luck more than judgement, was on which river would you find the cat and mouse castles... anyone know why this is? The answer is the Rhine if that helps, I have had a look but haven't found out why or how. We not only scooped the first prize, but managed to get the closest to the bonus question to get a fourth egg so we came home laden and happy last night.

I fly home tomorrow, it will be good to get home, to unpack and hopefully cut the grass in the garden not to mention catch up on the post and other work that will need doing, also have to prep for work next week.

On the way to the airport at Limoges we are going to call in at Oradour-Sur-Glane as I have always wanted to see it, we will only have time for a short visit but needs must.

01 April 2009

Fish Day

I was talking to Zeltus's wife about the French customs for April Fools Day, and apparently over here it is known as Fish or Poisson Day. They still play jokes on each other, as do the English and other nations but over here in France they sell chocolate fish to give to each other as presents.

From what I know of the traditions behind April Fools Day or All Fools day is that in pre-Christian cultures May Day or May 1 was celebrated as the first day of summer, and signalled the start of the spring planting season; an April Fool was someone who did this prematurely.

Chaucer references April Fools' Day in the Canterbury Tales written c 1400 in the Nun's Priest's tale, a tale of two fools: Chanticleer and the fox, which took place on March 32nd as as we all know only 31 days in March so this would have been April 1st.

Our mother told me the story of the spaghetti tree harvest, reported on by the BBC in 1957, and tried to convince me it was true but I was having none of it. Good job too as this was a hoax, but had many people fooled at the time.