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Sunday, 25 December 2011

Mistletoe and Wine 24-25 December 2011

Saturday We were up reasonably early today as we have to take the cats down to Snave before our trip to Birmingham. as per usual it was a bit of a military exercise herding them into their carriers. We tend to go for the element of surprise ie sneak up while they are eating and bundle them in. All went well except for Frankie who seemed to know what we were up to even though we hid the carriers from view. We hit the road about 10:30 am and made good progress. We stopped at Beaconsfield services on the M40 for a spot of lunch and was surprised to meet my mate John from the old Radio Joyce Green days. He was on his way north as well. After a big mac and a chat it was my turn to drive and again we had a great journey and arrived at Sarah's parents about 2pm. We had a surprise visit from Andy who had gone to Manchester to buy a car and came back with a bargain BMW. He stayed for dinner then we went to Sarah's brother whilst Andy drove back to Kent. Christmas Day Up at 8:30 then no time for brekkie as we were raring to open the presents. I then Skyped my Oz cousins for a chat. The was a thunderstorm in Melbourne so no BBQ on the beach for them! it was great to see them though. it is great how technology can bring us closer together. After a smashing dinner, where I won £2 on a scratchcard we all set about doing different things. Sarah played her new game on her 3DS, Kamran's Dad visited and I had a go on Kam's Train set! I was showing them the photobooth app on the ipad and we took a few silly pictures. We then rounded off the evening with a spot of tea, a quick look at Dr Who, games of Logo, UNO and Newmarket. there were a few fireworks to be set off as well. A great day was had by all! Until next weekend .....

Sunday, 18 December 2011

A bit of a do....17-18 December 2011


We were out and about reasonably early for a Saturday, buying food and drink for tonight. we decided to be a little adventurous and bake a cake. I haven't made a cake for over 20 years so I found a recipe for lemon drizzle cake on the internet and gave it a go. We had to sample the goods to ensure quality and I wasn't disappointed.It was lovely. We spent the afternoon tidying round and preparing food for friends who were coming round for a pre-Christmas get together. I even had time to sit and watch a couple of old Dr Who episodes. The evening was great, the food was all consumed so it must have gone down well. Then we decided to play a new board game we purchased a few weeks ago called 'The Logo Board Game'. I think everyone enjoyed it even though Lukey got a set of questions about a TV game show he and Kat had never heard of, and that really lost them the game...
Anyway a great time was had by all. I'm fortunate to have good friends down here in sunny Ashford! 


We had a bit of a lie-in today, but one member of our clan is definitely feeling under the weather today. Arnie has not moved from the bed yet. We will just let him sleep it off and hopefully he will be ok by tonight. If not its down to the Vets tomorrow night. After catching up with the Strictly final and a spot of lunch it is time to get the music together for today's show on Dance Web Radio, the last one of the year.
On the way to DWR my phone rang. I was told that a server somewhere had crashed but, as I was two thirds of the way there I carried on if only to have a cuppa and a chat with John. As it happened all was OKby the time I arrived and  there was only a short outage, so I carried on regardless. I had a troublesome turntable this afternoon, the only problem in what was a great show, the last one of 2011. Until next weekend, which is possibly a busy one!

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Lighting Up Time...10 December 2011

Its been an expensive few days. On Thursday night I picked up a screw in my rear tyre on the way to my parents place. Trouble was I drove a few miles with it flat before realising and knackered the tyre walls. So Friday I had a new rear one fitted. Then I went to the Designer Outlet on the way home from work and bought a pressie for Sarah.
We spent the morning driving out to the local farm shop for a few bits, then to Dobbies for a coffee and some more lights. Whilst there I got the car cleaned as well. The car wash people there did a bloomin' good job as well.
So after a spot of lunch it was into the loft and out with the house bling and Christmas decorations. I like LED technology, at least the lights work first time. For the first time I've also installed some in the back garden as well. Check out the photo by the way. I dread to think what their electricity bill is like! 

We are staying in tonight for an evening of 'Strictly come dine with x factor on ice', washed down with a takeaway curry, and very nice it was as well. Mind you I'm not too sure about the contents of the 'Runa Mix Special' !


With the outside lights now up, it was time to get the tree up. We bought a fibre optic one about 6 years ago, now its looking a bit tired. It sort of lists to one side so we have to position it so it leans against the wall. I think we'll treat ourselves to a new one next year. After our weekly shop and a spot of lunch, I sorted out some tunes for the show on DWR today. It was another good one, My furthest listener this week was from Durban, South Africa. I'm international baby!

So it was home for a great dinner and now catching up with the results shows. Next week is a short one with Wednesday off and a Tuesday night out with the VPR guys and gals.

Until next week..

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Not in the Christmas mood....yet.


Normally, the first Saturday in December is spent getting the House Bling set up. However no-one in our Close has, and I really can't be bothered today, so that's a task for next weekend. The morning was spent in town, paying a few bills and buying a few odds and sods. Then it was off to Halfords to change our sick Sat Nav. I have been frantically searching for the receipt but it has disappeared, but I have found my credit card statement. That was good enough for them. After a quick call to Tomtom the manager agreed to give me a new one, which was a pleasant surprise bearing in mind what they told me before. Last weekend the sales assistant in Birmingham told me they only send them back for repair. Then I was told that you only got a replacement if the unit was less than 28 days old. So its obvious Halfords need to train their staff to 'sing from the same hymn sheet'!
We visited Sarah's Nephew and girlfriend who have just taken possession of a new flat. I helped shift a sofa inside which involved taking the front door off, not exactly an easy task. Anyway it went in OK. Then we popped into our friends Dave and Tina to pay for some theatre tickets she had got for us. After a coffee and a nice chat it was then off to Asda to get some dinner. We have an extra mouth to feed tonight as Sarah's dad is down.
I know I'm a 40-something but I've just bought a train set! It was so cheap on Amazon that I couldn't resist it. It was over £100 at the National Railway Museum, and with a discount voucher from Topcashback it came to £35...I now need to sort the loft out. What a kid I am! Nothing doing tonight, so its another Saturday night in watching  'Strictly Come Dine With X-Factor Get Me Out Of Here On Ice'


I didn't sleep too well last night. Apparently I had restless legs which also kept waking Sarah!
Anyway we didn't sleep in too late so we were at Asda by 9:45.  After the shop we went round to our friends Jason & Tina, to drop a card in and to meet their new addition to the family. Nathaniel, bless him showed his appreciation by sleeping all the time we were there, including whilst Sarah held him, but he had just been fed. Apparently he is a night shift baby, hence the parents looking a tad tired this morning....

Being Sunday meant I had a trip to Dance Web Radio for my show. The drive down was interesting, I nearly got taken out by a car who panicked when a lorry came up behind her in the speed restriction and nearly crashed into me. Then on the way back in the same  place a car who obviously doesn't know what 30 MPH means overtook me and will be getting a nice Christmas card from the Kent Police after getting flashed. Anyway the show went well, and I enjoyed slamming on the vinyl as well!

Until next weekend then.........

Saturday, 26 November 2011

When I grow up I want a Harley!

Greetings from Birmingham! Well Sutton Coldfield actually but its near enough and it is the posh bit. The reason we are here this weekend is two fold. First to visit Sarah's parents and secondly to go to Motorcycle Live at the NEC. 

Guess what, I use my Tomtom sat nav for only the third time and it packs up....A trip to Halfords is in order. I am most dis-chuffed as I may have needed it for the journey.

Friday night we took a trip to the Balti Triangle, and area of Birmingham famous for it's curry houses. The traffic around Alum Rock was a nightmare, we only arrived by the skin of our teeth. Anyway the meal was superb, my chicken Balti was good, as was the family naan which three of us shared. Maybe it was too much because I was absolutely stuffed, but Andy polished off his meal including a veg dish, Julie's salad and ate a fair proportion of the naan as well. The guy has hollow legs!

 Saturday morning Andy, David and myself drove down to the NEC whilst our respective 'other halfs' went off to Birmingham city centre for some retail therapy. We arrived and parked in Birmingham international station (only £5) and took a short walk to the NEC where we parted company with David who took the train into the city. As we walked into the Entrance we were greeted by the ladies on the Carole Nash insurance stand....That put a smile on our faces. The thing I liked about the different manufacturer's stands is that you can sit on all the bikes to try them for size. I particularly liked Harley Davidson (see pic), they seemed to fit me like a glove. I can see why many men in their mid life crisis opt for a Harley. A quick pit stop for chips and yet more freebies then we managed to catch up with Andy and Dave from Dexterity in Ashford, who were there helping on the 'Get On' stand which introduce people to motorcycling. The guys said they had never been so busy, with plenty of people having a go on bikes that have never ridden before. By about 3pm I think we had seen nearly all of it and collected a few freebies on the way. I took this photo but the trouble was there was a lady sitting on the bike.....oh well!
Back to Sarah's parents for a lovely dinner, then we spent the rest of the evening playing Uno and Cards. 


It was travel home day today so we didn't really do much, It was a lazy Sunday morning when I just watched some iPlayer stuff on the iPad and read a magazine. After yet another lovely dinner (I need to walk this weekend off!) we packed the car and set off back to Kent. The journey took about 3.5 hours and apart from a white van moron pulling out on me on the M20 it was a fairly uneventful  trip. Until next weekend then.......

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Nothing Planned.....19th/20th November

This weekend is the first one in weeks where we have nowt planned. This morning the cats made sure we didn't sleep in too long, and after Sarah got up and fed them they went out to do their business.  We decided to have a trip to Canterbury. I suppose it makes a change from Ashford. On the way I noticed the police had cordoned off a footpath near to us. I hope its nothing too serious.   We bought a few items, no Christmassy stuff yet though but there was plenty on offer. We also noticed a lot of people dressed as Imperial Stormtroopers walking about. Apparently they were Greenpeace campaigners. And I thought Stormtroopers were the bad guys! After a spot of lunch there went back to Ashford to look at yet more freezers. Now do we want frost free or not? Would you believe the  difference is about £100.
I checked out the CD players I bought from the Hospital Radio Station for use as standbys on Dance Web Radio. They work fine. I even cleaned the grubby finger marks from the 'play' buttons. I'm playing vinyl tomorrow for the first time in years so I'll be trawling through my record collection later. Plus I've been buying 12" singles on ebay lately to fill in a few gaps in my collection. Tonight is officially 'Night in Night' with a takeaway, bottle of wine and the usual Saturday night TV fare.


Great, I get up this morning to feed the cats and get myself a coffee, and one of them has left a 'package' on the dining room carpet (from the cat's front end, I hasten to add!) I normally leave things like that to Sarah, but in a fit of bravery I cleaned it up myself.

I received an email the other day from Apple. Apparently the first generation iPod nano, which I purchased in 2006, has the potential to overheat due to a faulty battery. I gave it to my dad a couple of years ago after I bought an iPod touch, so I phoned him and told him to un-dock it from his speaker ASAP! I retrieved it from him and just entered the serial number on the apple website. Lo and behold mine is a problem one so they are sending me a box to send back the Nano, and I get a refurbished one in return.

Then it was off to DWR . I was looking forward to the show because turntables (remember them??) had been installed in the studio. So it gave me a chance to dust down a few 12" singles and LPs and give them a spin. Using decks is a dying art, finding the right track, being able to cue the start of the song (about 1/4 turn back on a SL1210), setting the correct speed, and remembering to fade down after the track so the next one doesn't play!  I was in my element!

Then it was home for a nice dinner and sunday night TV. Not a bad weekend after all!

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Rye Bonfire and Radio meetings

I slightly overslept this morning. I didn't get home until late last night after a great evening at the annual Radio Joyce Green Curry Night. It was good to see my old mate Graham who had travelled down from lowestoft  for the event. What really bugs me is he hasn't changed at all, still got all his hair and so sign of grey! I reckon he uses 'product'.....

Before I went out this morning I tried to book and order some tyres with the company that rhymes with 'flick-twit' as they were cheaper on-line. I got as far as entering my card details and booking a day & time, then I realised I couldn't remember my password for the card verification. So I created another one, which involved entering my card details again with some personal information. It didn't work. So I reloaded the web page and was told that my reservation had 'timed out' and I had to enter all the details again. So I booked another time (1 hour later than my original) and entered my card details yet again for the THIRD TIME.....Then the website crashed and I had a few choice words to say that rhymed with 'clucking bell' .  In a way I'm glad it didn't work because I called into Watling Tyres on the way home from town who quoted me £20 less per tyre, saving me £40 in total. They are fitting them on Tuesday.

Then it was off to our friends to meet up for a trip down to Rye for the bonfire parade. I've never been before but I had heard so much from my mate that when we were invited to join them I jumped at the chance. I wasn't disappointed. We arrived quite early and settled in the lounge of the Mermaid Inn for a drink or two. Then we strolled around town a bit before liaising with the others at the chip shop queue. A battered sausage and some very hot, but very tasty chips, plus some hot winter Pimms and mulled wine courtesy of Batty went down well. Then we waited in the high street for the parade to pass, then walked down to the park for the bonfire & fireworks. All in all it was a brilliant evening and definitely a date for next year.


I got up around 8:45 knowing that my friend was popping in around 9:30 to collect something. So it was a bit of a surprise when the doorbell rang 5 minutes later and I was in the downstairs 'reading room' and Sarah was in the shower. 

After our weekly shop it was off to Darent Valley for the Radio AGM via Bluewater and my Brother's place.
We bought a new shower mat (glamorous eh?), dinner and had a look at freezers and laptops. The sales guy in one store was trying to sell me a Samsung and some anti-virus software. When I told him what I use he grimaced and tried to give me a horror story about how bad it was. I never had a problem with mine so I reckon he must look at some dodgy websites!
The sales guy in another store really had no idea when I asked him how one type of microprocessor compared to another, and I left feeling even more confused than when I entered.

After a coffee at my bruv's place it was off to the meeting. I can't really say what went on there but in 17 years of being in  Hospital Radio it was one of the most memorable! Tomorrow night I should be at another meeting where I suspect there may be more fireworks....Watch this space!

Sunday, 6 November 2011



I came downstairs this  morning to find Arnie asleep on Sarah's cushion on the sofa. So went to pick him up to chuck him out and he let out a big meeeeow. He is obviously not too well so we left him alone to sleep it off. He was a little better later, he went outside, did his business, ate a little cat food then settled down again. Following on from the success of last years firework party, we decided to hold another. So most of saturday was spent (apart from a quick trip to the Blue & White Cafe for brekkie) preparing the house, cooking food and herding the cats in preparation for the evenings entertainment.
The evening went off fine. We had 25 guests in all and I was pleased that people enjoyed themselves as they were leaving nice comments on facebook. Highlights included:-

A chinese lantern getting stuck in the tree (see photo), I was trying to put it out with a hose and someone (I know who!) kept turning the tap down so I got wet!

Manky turned up with a ruddy great rocket, which we kept for the finale. We weren't disappointed.....

My friend losing his car keys...I scoured the garden with my head torch on at about midnight. They were under the sofa...

I still have loads of chilli, hot dogs, rolls and soup left...Guess what's for sunday lunch.


I awoke with a stonking headache, which was surprising as I only had 2 beers last night. A couple of tablets taken and I was OK. Then it was off to Asda for the weekly shop. Luckily we tidied a lot up last night so there was only a bit of washing up and garden tidying to do. 4 bags of rubbish later and I think we are sorted.

I arrived at Dance Web Radio this afternoon just in time for John's interview with Kenny Thomas. Mind you I nearly didn't make it through the door after falling arse over on the wet decking! Nothing broken though. Fascinating fact: Did you know Kenny is  fully qualified in accupuncture.

The show went well I had at least one new listener on the chat box so that is always a bonus. Now back home, fed and watching a load of talentless tw*ts on 'that' show....It seems odd that the show is losing viewers hand over fist so they resort to spats between the judges to gain publicity. Its like a badly made pantomime. Don't vote it only encourages them!
I must sort through a mountain of AAS branded clothing that is sitting on my landing. Maybe thats a job for tomorrow night..........

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Taking it Easy...


Typical! I wake up yesterday with a sore throat, the first sign that I've caught Sarah's cold. I got up this morning feeling rubbish, so I decided to take it easy today as I'm going to need all my energy for the 'Samphire Hoe or Bust!' walk tomorrow. All I really did today was go down to Homeplus to get the fireworks for next week. Whilst there we saw some rather good dining room chairs. I broke one of ours last week. As I got up to answer my mobile my leg got caught around the leg of the chair, sending me and chair flying, and cracking the frame. So I may have to raid the piggy bank and buy some new ones.

I was saddened to hear about the death of Sir Jimmy Saville at 84. He was always on the TV during my childhood/early teens, both on Jim'll fix it and of course Top Of the Pops. I think the word 'Legend' is used too loosely these days but Jimmy was definitely one. He invented' the mobile DJ in northern clubs and of course perfected his craft on stations like Radio Luxembourg and BBC Radio 1. His charity work was well known to the public, but I get the feeling he liked his own company. Tony Blackburn said today he didn't have many close friends, and Louis Theroux's documentary a few years ago gave us the chance to see that he was very much an eccentric loner. I do have a bit of Jimmy memorabilia though, a BBC World Service Tee Shirt signed by the man himself. Of course I have a dilemma now, do I sell it to a collector or keep it. I think I may leave it a while. People went a bit mad when Michael Jackson died and were selling rare records and stuff for silly money, just to make a fast buck. I don't want to be seen to be like that! It's testament to his popularity that people still impersonate him, my favourite being Hugh Dennis "Show-Waddy-Waddy" R.I.P Sir Jimmy....

We have had Arnie for a year today, and I was trying to think who he resembled. Then it came to me....
Ron Mael from Sparks!

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Cleaning Cars and Conjuring Curries


I had to pay a visit to the car wash today. My parking space at work is by the building, and this week the pigeons decided to play 'Lets have a collective poop on Steve's car'. the tailgate was covered in crap. Some people may ask "Why don't you wash it yourself?' Basically....A) I can't be arsed and... B) the local hand car wash do a much better job than I ever could. In fact they spent ages washing it down and getting the crap off, then gave it a good chamois down. All  for £6 and I don't even have to get out of the car.
Then it was off to Canterbury for some retail therapy. I bought a couple of shirts, belts and some socks n undies in the sales while Sarah bought a couple of pairs of shoes. Then we had lunch in Zizi, an Italian restaurant chain. I had a rather nice Pizza/Calzone hybrid and Sarah went for the Risotto . We also treated ourselves to a couple of puds. Then it was back up the high street for a bit more shopping. Canterbury was busy, but its good to see people, including loads of tourists, spending cash in our shops.

This evening we had some friends round for drinks and nibbles, and we spent the whole evening chatting. We carried on until about midnight not realising what the time was. A great evening was had by all.


We had a bit of a lie in today. The cats decided that we were not going to sleep last night, so they kept on jumping on Sarah! In the end they were kicked out of the bedroom and the door shut behind them. Peace at last!

We went shopping as per usual, then popped down to Bybrook Barn to have a look at some tropical fish. I lost the last of my Platys the other day. Out of all the fish I have owned , Platys are supposed to be the easiest to keep but the buggers keep dying on me. We came away with five Penguin Tetras and five X-ray Tetras. I was very impressed with Bybrook's Christmas display this year, they always make an effort.

The Dance Web Radio show went well today, I really mixed it up and played different genres of dance and soul music. John particularly liked the Brass Construction track I played. A first for DWR...

We went down to Cinnamon Spice tonight for 'Magical night' Basically a fixed price menu with a table magician doing the rounds. Our food was really good and the magician did some clever close up card tricks. Some had us guessing, Some we sussed out but they were very well done. 

Monday, 17 October 2011

Lets Get Quizzical.....


A few months ago, we enquired about having free solar panels installed on our roof, with the premise that the company get the FIT payments, and we get free electricity. It was all going smoothly (if slowly), then the company changed the goalposts. Apparently we no longer qualified because they couldn't fit enough panels to generate 4kW of power. The original was 2.5kW. I get a feeling they were pulling a fast one and trying to get us to buy them, but we were seriously pee'd off that they left it four months before turning us down.
Anyway we have another company doing it now, and their surveyor turned up today on time, and told us there would be no problem getting 12 panels installed. he was surprised when I told him about the last lot, he wondered why they wanted to turn our house into a power station!.

We found a replacement bedside lamp for Sarah today. Unfortunately one of the cats ( Frankie) knocked the other one over and it smashed. Luckily the new one just about matches the other, the only difference being it doesn't dim.

Tonight is the annual Valley Park Radio Quiz Night. Previous years has seen our team coming 2nd and 3rd, not a bad effort. This year I want to win, and we have a broad age range on the team tonight.
Oh dear 2nd again! Mind you it was a close run thing and I smashed the TV theme tune round. including getting the theme to 'Time Tunnel' , an Irwin Allen production (responsible for Lost in Space) from my childhood.  It was a late one tonight we didn't get home until 1am although I did have a quick nap in the car 'Wake me when we get to Ashford' I told Sarah!.


Went shopping first thing. What a great day, cold but so sunny. I'm hoping the sky stays that way tonight I'm hoping to do some astro imaging. I bought a snow shovel in Dobbies. After last year I found it heavy going clearing the drive with just a garden spade. We have had heavy snowfalls 3 winters in a row so I don't want to be caught out.

Then it was off to Dance Web Radio. I was looking forward to todays show, I had Roxy Prince from Roxy5000 on the phone and I have to say it was a brilliant interview. The guy is so talented, singer, musician, producer, songwriter he does it all. What surprises me is that he hasn't got a record deal, he does it all though social networking, and the whole project is a massive success. His music gets played all over the world (currently over 35 countries) and he has been featured heavily on Jazz FM as record of the week. Please check him out by clicking on the link and download the new single, 'Love Like a Lady'  from iTunes.
All in all it was a great afternoon on DWR, with John chatting to music legend Paul Hardcastle beforehand.

Got home about 7pm and I'm knackered.com. Tonight I watched the Korean GP that I recorded this afternoon. Well that's two hours of my life I'll never get back..... Bor-ring!


Saturday, 8 October 2011

Waxing Gibbons

There was a story in the news a few weeks ago about a bloke who abandoned his 4x4 half way up Snowdonia after attempting to drive up it. Apparently it was on his 'bucket' list of things to do before he died.

I have no such list, but I have a list of things that I don't want to do before I pop my clogs. Here's a few with the reasons why they are on the list.

1- Skiing. When I was in my teens, we used to go dry slope skiing at Woolwich Barracks. In fact my friend Keith and I got quite good at it. The last time we went the squaddie who run the facility said he would let us join the club. At this point we both thought he meant 'Join the Army' as was our naivety, so we never went back. Since then I have never wanted to go snow skiing. Strapping two planks to my feet and hurtling down a snow covered mountain has never appealed.

2 - Parachuting. The person who said 'Why jump out of a perfectly serviceable aircraft' had a point. The nearest I got was paragliding on holiday. That was only because my friend's daughter wouldn't go on her own, so we had a tandem paraglide. Then as we were about to land her legs buckled underneath her and I was dragged on my knees across the beach. Never again.....

3 - Scuba diving. We were never meant to breathe underwater. I get panicky if I go underwater in a swimming pool, let alone the sea. I'll leave that to the Jacques Cousteaus of this world thanks.

4 - Glastonbury. I like my live music in a indoor concert venue, with access to clean toilets and a comfy bed after. I went to a gig in Findsbury park a few years ago. There was plenty of mud, violence, drugs, rain and bottles of dubious liquids being thrown about. That's the nearest I got and although the gig was good (it was Oasis) I wouldn't want to do it all weekend!

Saturday we went into town and found they had a food and drink festival in the shopping centre. Apart from the usual array of cakes, cheeses, olives, liquorice, fudge, real cider and exotic sausages there were a few weird things. Toffee Vodka, the last thing you would drink at a party when all the beer was consumed. Way too sweet! Russian cakes, including  a strange 'Starter' cake which was like a puff pastry pizza with way too many toppings. Gnocchi was a bit strange, can't say I liked it too much. We did buy some cheeses though and cheese straws from the bakery. The humungous doughnuts were tempting but I must cut down on the cake! In the bank the lady who served me turned out to be a previous owner of our house. She had it from new and lived there for years. I recognised her surname as we still get the odd junk mail addressed to her. She said she had photos of the house being built so I may contact her for copies.

We had a late lunch (or early dinner) at the local Beefeater as we were going over to Woodchurch tonight for 'International Observe the Moon Night' . OK we didn't actually see the moon, which according to sources was 'waxing gibbous'  as the clouds that came in today and stubbornly stayed put all evening. Anyhow we had a good time, a few talks and a cuppa. I always like to get together with my friends from the astro society, and we met a few prospective new members as well. 

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Its The Time of the Season....

I can't get used to this unseasonal hot weather. Your brain tells you its the height of summer, and it gets dark at 7:00pm....Spooky. One of the advantages of this weather, and the season, is I can partake in a bit of astronomy without having to put multi layers of clothing on. Also autumn/winter  is a good time for astronomers, with all our favourite objects appearing in the night sky. I also managed to borrow the astro club's PST. So I've been able to monitor the sun throughout the day.

That is really what today has been about, apart from a quick trip to Tesco for some dinner, We have really done naff all. I was thinking about going fishing, but its been so damn hot I really couldn't be arsed. I actually liked the last Dr Who of the series tonight, but they still make it too cryptic and I can see why people are switching off.  Anyway I'm going out into the garden tonight to do a bit of star-gazing with the main task of imaging Jupiter. You can see the results in the photo above. I thought I would have a crack at imaging the Andromeda Galaxy as well. Bearing in mind there was no correcting or stacking  the image and I was trusting my telescope drive to stay on target, I'm quite pleased with the result!

I was up quite early for me on a Sunday, 7:30pm. After letting out 3 cross-legged cats I made myself a coffee then sat in bed with the iPad checking on any comments on Facebook from last nights images that I posted on there. Then I showered, dressed and got ready for a trip to Asda for the weekly shop. later today I'm off to the Danceweb Studio to broadcast my sunday show. I think today's show is titled 'make it up as he goes along' day as I really don't know what to play. I'll just take a load of good tunes with me! Driving home from the studio it's amazing how many people I see driving up motorway with no lights on in twilight. If I can't see you, how are the european truck drivers? Its been a year since I was hit on the M20 in broad daylight by a driver who didn't look. Please be careful out there!!

Monday, 26 September 2011

Weekend in York Part 2


When we arrived at the hotel on friday, we didn't realise that half of the north of England's Rotary Club were holding their conference. It was a shame that they had taken over the bar area, we really couldn't get in there. Anyway we came down to breakfast this morning and the place was crawling with Rotarians. Luckily they were gone by the afternoon and the hotel was quiet again!

It was off to the nation railway Museum today, another short walk from the hotel.We thought it was excellent. A great FREE museum that had something for everyone. Funnily enough the first exhibit we saw was a horse drawn taxi from Tenterden Station, just down the road!  We attended a great presentation about the Japanese Bullet train. Fascinating fact: Last year the average delay of a Bullet Train arrival was 24....Seconds. Beat that South eastern! Then there was a demonstration of the Turntable in the museum. The Engine being rotated was a South East & Chatham Railway one built in Ashford....Wahay! They also had a steam event this weekend so we were able to climb on board the footplate of the engine in the pic (6201, Princess Elizabeth) whilst the boiler was on and there was a fire going. It gave you an idea what it must have been like to drive a steam train. The warehouse is absolutely chock full of railway memorabilia, from station signs to models of the Hoverspeed Hovercraft and even a scale model of the Channel Tunnel Terminal at Cheriton, which is nothing like what they built there. 

We decided to pop back into the city centre so we took the Museum's Road Train, only 2 quid and it was quite fun! Yesterday I had seen a watch in one of the jewellers that I took a fancy to and it was heavily discounted. I know.....I like watches!

We spent the rest of the afternoon in the hotel bar, reading the Sunday papers and surfing the net.
The evening was spent in a very nice Italian restaurant just round the corner from the hotel. very nice it was too!

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Weekend in York

I like York. I first came here in 1998 when I did a training course at the university. I didn't really get the chance to see much then, but we are making up for it now. Last night (friday) we went on one of the many ghost walks that are run in the city. This one took us from the Kings Arms pub, the most often flooded in the uk, to Cliffords tower and other places where the guide (an actor luvvy) regaled us with ghostly tales. Saturday - After a hearty breakfast we set off for the city centre. I wanted a new rucksack and Sarah wanted some stuff from the health store. then we went to the York Dungeons. this of course is very much like the London version and it was good to get the first show of the day. the actor luvvies seem to be more enthusiastic! a quick cuppa, then it was off for a look round the Minster. The guide was a strange fellow, he ended all his presentations with a high pitched "follow me!" then he sort of minced to the next point of interest. Fascinating fact: York Minster contains 50% of all stained glass windows in the UK. 128 in total. After another cuppa in the Teddy Bear tea rooms (Betty's Tearoom had a horrendous queue) we then went to the treasurers house. this is a site of a particularly famous haunting, where a load of Roman soldiers were seen marching through a cellar, following the old roman road. I also found out that the variable star, Algol was discovered from this house. By now the old feet were beginning to ache, so we strolled back to the hotel for a couple of hours crash before we go out tonight. We have seen a Turkish restaurant not far from the hotel so we will give it a go tonight. tomorrow it's off to the National Railway Museum. More about that in tomorrow's blog.....

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Friday Nights and Fishing

I bought our telescope and a T-ring in 2009, and friday night was the first time I had connected my SLR camera to it. OK it was only a few moon shots but I was impressed. We had some friends round that night for a chat and chinese food, so about 9pm myself and Andy went outside and left Sarah & Julie to chatter. After a few shots of the moon we turned our attention to Jupiter. sadly the pics weren't as good, even after stacking. The moon was a little too bright and the clouds were rolling in, so you could just make out 2 cloud bands on the Planet (see pic)

Saturday we had planned to go fishing to try out our new tackle. We met up with Dave who led us to the Coldblow pond. Luckily the weather had improved, when we left home the rain was torrential, and we had even bought a brolley along with bait from the angling shop. Apart from strong winds the weather was ok at the pond, but having not prepared a line for years it was being blown all over the place and it took me about 30 minutes to set up mine and Sarah's line. I caught 2 Perch and 1 Roach, Sarah caught 1 Roach and Dave bagged a 5lb Common Carp using float legering and German sausage. A good afternoon was had by all. After stowing away the gear and brushing down the sheep poo and munge off our clothes we settled down with a KFC and an evening of TV.

Sunday was really spent doing all the usual things, Shopping first thing, preparing beef bourgignon for the evening then off to Dobbies for our monthly free coffee and a toasted sandwich. Interesting, I bought a bottle of red wine in Asda this morning, 2010 Stellar Organics Pinotage reduced to £3.75 I saw Stellar Organics Wine in Dobbies for 9 quid a bottle, I think I may go back to Asda tomorrow & get some more! Then it was home for some show prep and then off to Dance Web Radio for my show. On the way home I thought I would be stuck on the M20 after an accident closed it. But luckily I was near the front of the queue and I was only waiting for about ten minutes. It could have easily been hours!

Sunday, 11 September 2011

SEKAS and Sound Mirrors

Saturday we decided to go shopping in Maidstone. So after a trawl around the shops we came away with some new trainers, just in case we decide to take up badminton again we need to be prepared! we also bought a new gadget. We had a Nando's lunch as we were going out early evening then on the way home went to pets at home for a new larger cat carrier, as the one we had is a tad too small for Frankie.

After picking up Jason, a fellow Astronomer  we set off for Alkham, near Folkestone, where Dave, another fellow society member was giving a talk on Comets to SEKAS . We arrived just as the heavens opened so observing was off the menu tonight. The talk went down very well, as did his talk on the Fermi paradox, which explains a bit about why we haven't had contact with extra-terrestrials. The evening was rounded off with coffee and a raffle (we won 2 items) and then it was home. There are no pubs in Alkham.....

Sunday we had arranged to visit the Sound Mirrors at Denge. I have been waiting for this trip for months, and I wasn't disappointed. The site is only open a couple of times a year, as it is accessed by a locked swing bridge across the Lade Gravel pits. The Mirrors were constructed between 1928 and 1930 and were used as an experiment to detect enemy aircraft flying across the Channel by the sound of their engines. Unfortunately they weren't very efficient with a maximum range of about 25 miles, then radar was developed which made them obsolete overnight. Now they stand as relics of old technology, with the 200ft wall mirror being only one of two in the world, the other being in Malta. After a good walk about and plenty of photo opportunities we arrived back to the car about 4:30pm and apart from foot-ache we had a great day with good friends. Now its time for Dr Who, F1 Grand Prix  and dinner.  All in all a most acceptable weekend!

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Fishing for Fishing Gear and Family Sunday Lunch


We had to pop into town briefly this morning, just to get a few things and pay the odd bill. I notice that the shopping centre car park still charges £3 all day which means if you're there for less than a hour (as we were) it's a bit of a rip-off. We called into Angling Direct on the way back because we had seen a fishing kit bundle for £40 on line and it seemed like a bargain. The nice lady in there informed us that they didn't have any in stock, but the Faversham branch did. We wanted two rods and reels but it was still cheaper to buy two kits as the cheapest rod and reel came in at over 40 quid.

So after programming the sat-nav it was off to Faversham. The shop was located on a residential street (think Coronation street) and parking was a nightmare, but we found somewhere near to the shop and came away from there with two sets and a tackle box. The traffic was a bit busy getting out on to the A2. Turns out there was a Hop Festival on this weekend. As we were in the Medway towns we decided to pop over to Whelans on the Isle of Sheppey, the best Garden ornament place in Kent. En route we stopped for a bite and a drink in Sittingbourne, then on to Sheerness. We came away with yet another concrete cat.

For the first time in a few weeks its a night off tonight, so we fired up the BBQ and had some VERY Hot n spicy ribs and chicken with salad. Then settled in front of the TV for Dr Who and the X-factor.


We were going to dinner at my parents today (It's my dads birthday tomorrow) so it was off to Asda first thing for the weekly shop. I think it was due to the fact we didn't need any cat food that the bill this week was quite reasonable. We set off for Bexley around 11am, and having seen a Facebook post that some of our friends were flying kites at Leeds Castle, I had a look as we went past on the M20, and sure enough there were kites up of all shapes and sizes.....Impressive.
My Brother and sis-in-law arrived just before lunch with a surprise for my mum. They had set up a notebook PC for her with a Facebook and Skype account so she could keep in touch with us and the Oz contingent. He had bought her a book as well called 'Computing for Seniors' and actually after the first attempt on FB, and a Skype demo with my sis-in-law on her iPad she was getting the hang of it, having never used a PC before. Then my other brother, sis-in-law and nephew turned up so it was a real family get-together. We stayed until about 4pm. 

Now after a tea of Nicoise salad (look it up) , I'm now watching this new TV show 'Red or Black' . OK the premise is simple enough but they seem to have people on there who are so desperate to win due to financial hardship, treating their kids etc.. that when they don't there's tears and break downs. It doesn't make for comfortable viewing. Anyway now there's a break in proceedings so I'm going to get some sounds on the HiFi for 30 minutes! 

Monday, 29 August 2011

Wedding and Fishing....27 August 2011

Before you ask, no the common word is NOT tackle!

Saturday we went up to Higham as guests of our Friends from Valley Park Radio, Mike & Debbie who were tying the knot. The day before Sarah had bought me a new shirt for the occasion, but it had a double cuff, and I had no cufflinks. So it was off to the outlet first thing to buy some, which I did along with a new pair of shoes.

We arrived at the venue to meet the groom and best man, Neil. I have to say Neil looked more nervous than Mike. Anyone would think he was getting hitched! We met up with the other VPR guys who had been invited and made our way to the gardens.

The weather was very changeable. and it was pure chance that as the outside ceremony started the sun came out. Then as they were signing the register the heavens opened and we all took cover, then it stopped raining for the wedding photos. After a very nice meal, speeches, a few drinks, chat, more food and more drinks it was soon late so we left about 11:30pm.

Sunday we had been invited to 'batcamp', an annual event at a friend of a friend's farm in Smarden. We arrived about mid-morning and they obviously had a good night as they were just tidying away breakfast. We started with a beer and a nice game of poker, where Sarah took us all to the cleaners. Lucky it was only poker chips. After lunch of bread & cheese, plus some pie and sausages that I doggy-bagged from the buffet last night, we made our way to the pond for a spot of what Manky calls 'tiddler-bashing'. I haven't fished for about 15 years, so I needed help and after about 2 hours, including losing my tackle in a tree and tangling about 2 sets of hooks and floats. I finally bagged my first mirror carp (see pic) . Jason was on zero as well until Lukey helped him, then the fish started landing. We actually bagged 7 a piece. I could get into this fishing lark!

We packed up about 7:30 pm and made our way back to camp for dinner. Then the evening was rounded off with bit of Bat detecting and a sit around the camp fire making farty noises with our iPhone apps, except Manky who produced the genuine article. We were also subjected to really clear skies, the second time this weekend I've seen the Milky Way in Kent! We had a fantastic day there and can't wait for the next time!

Friday, 19 August 2011

A weeks Holiday at last!

I've been planning this week for months. My Oz cousin was coming to stay with us so I had a bit of an itinerary planned for the four days she was with us.

Monday - Bodiam Castle.

I went into town very early to purchase a new lens for the camera and some PAYG sim cards. So early in fact that half the shops were still closed and I was the first customer in both Orange and Jessops. Then it was off to Tenterden. The weather was perfect, and as we walked from Bodiam station down to the castle I thought to myself 'Why would you want to go abroad when you have weather and scenery like this!' After a bit of pub lunch in the Castle inn (Burgers all round) we needed to walk off all that grub so it was up and down the spiral staircases to the ramparts (phew!) and plenty of photo opportunities. We caught the 3:25 train back to Tenterden Town then home for a bit of a rest before some chinese buffet at Yeungs.

Tuesday - Paris.

Up very early to catch the 7:25 Eurostar to Paris. The trip through the French countryside is actually quite boring. Just a load of flat farmland interspersed with loads of overhead lines and funny looking pylons. We arrived at Gard Du Nord about 10:45 (local) then we jumped on a tour bus which, after a quick change of buses took us to our first stop, The Arc de Triomph. Traffic on the roundabout is just as I imagined it - MAD! It was a case of see a gap and go for it. I saw a BMW traverse 4 lanes of traffic in one go to get down the Champs Elysees. After a quick coffee and cake (38 euros for 3 - ouch!) we jumped back in the bus and headed for the Eiffel Tower.

One of the problems in going to Paris in august is that every other bugger goes as well. There must have been about 3 hours wait for the Tower lifts . So after a hot dog & a beer we jumped on a river boat and made our way to Notre Dame. A quick walk round the Cathedral (Free, take note Canterbury!) we then jumped back on the bus and promptly went the wrong way from the Louvre. Oh well maybe next time, the Mona Lisa will still be there. After a stroll around the shops on the Champs, we got a taxi back to Gard Du Nord in time for our train back to good old Ashford. We were back in time for a drink and Nachos Grande at the Hoodeners Horse. I recommend ordering Nachos on an empty stomach, the portions are massive!

Wednesday - Port Lympne safari.

We promised Jaimee a trip round the designer outlet, so as we weren't due at Port lympne until the afternoon we went into town first then there. I bought some Levi's (they had my size in stock at last) and J bought yet another pair of skechers. We arrived at Port Lympne about 3pm and contacted our friends who had been there since the morning. We had a walk about for a while, in which time Sarah & Julie cadged a lift up the hill to base camp leaving Andy, Jaimee and myself huffing and puffing our way back up hill (well I was doing all the huffing & puffing anyway!) We met up with the rest of our party and made our way to the pick up point. As we climbed on board the heavens opened...It chucked it down. At least we saw plenty of animals. Then as we got back it stopped, typical! The food was good though and we had a very enjoyable evening.

Thursday - Canterbury & Curry

We visit Canterbury regularly, so it made a change to visit the Cathedral. But it is something we won't be doing often. As I said, Notre Dame was free, and I know that CC is a world heritage site but I think £9 is a bit steep to enter the grounds of the Cathedral. I would always be prepared to make a donation, but they can forget it after charging us at the entrance. More retail therapy ensued then it was back home. We were taking Jaimee to her next stop of the holiday, my brother Graham's place for beer & curry night at their local, The Six Bells . The food was really good and we left stuffed after Gill talked us into having pudding ( not that we needed much convincing). I thoroughly recommend the pub, check out the link (that's a pint of Doom Bar when I'm next in guys!)

We took loads of pictures, which I will get round to sharing sometime!

Monday, 15 August 2011

A 1st anniversary....

I can't believe it has been one year since Dance Web radio went on air. I was there on the first weekend, and along with my fellow presenters we still have the same line-up, along with a load of new additions over the year. I think its a testament to the way the station is run that we haven't lost anyone. We popped over to Dobbies in the morning for our free coffee and also picked up a cactus. It seems to be the trend amongst us at the moment! Then it was off the DWR central for a bit of a do. I did one hour on air, had a drink and a chat then left about 5pm to get back home for a meal with Sarah. After much deliberation we decided to head to Cinnamon Spice for a nice curry .

Sunday we went over to my brother's place to collect my Oz cousin. Then it was off to the parents for sunday lunch. We let her have a little afternoon nap whilst Sarah & I went to Bluewater to buy a new lens for the camera. After waiting what seemed an age in the shop, which was hot, busy and had spot lights that just shone in your eyes like some sort of interrogation method, we were told they were out of stock but did we want the display one. Based on the amount of dust and crap on the lens I declined the offer so its off first thing tomorrow to the store in town.

We got back to Ashford and after a bit of food shopping headed off to Dungeness. Regular readers know I like this place and my Oz cousin loved it (well I hope she did!). Then it was home for cheese toasties and TV!

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Fancy Meeting You Here......

I can't believe I moved to Ashford five years ago. At that time I really didn't know anyone down here apart from a few of Sarah's friends. We always tend to pop into town on Saturday mornings, and invariably Sarah will always meet someone she knows, and occasionally people I know too, whether it be from work, play, school, former jobs or former neighbours. Today was no exception. We met...three Astro club members, one former colleague, one current colleague (twice) and one mutual friend, all in the space of about 20 minutes.
After a coffee in the department store Sarah saw some rather heavily discounted jewellery so she virtually cleaned out the cabinet. Actually she bought 2 necklaces and 2 pairs of ear rings, for just over twenty quid.

I was going to mow the lawns this afternoon, but by the time I managed to drag myself from the TV and old episodes of Dr Who (The Ood and Sontarans!). Just as I stepped outside it started raining. Shame. I did clean out the aquarium though. The tank has a bad case of hair algae and I'm hoping a treatment of jollop will help get rid of it.

Then it was off out. We were going to Willesborough Windmill to buy some honey from the shop. We had heard they sell good stuff there. When we arrived we noticed there was a wedding on, so the shop/cafe was hosting the reception. It felt a bit rude to crash someone's wedding so we left it and went to the local farm shop instead. They had what we wanted. On the way we stopped at the DIY store. I need some ideas for re-fitting our office room. We ended up buying some bathroom bits and a garden ornament. Oh yes and Sarah met yet another colleague in the DIY store!
Our Friends turn up about 7pm and we decided to go to Zarin in the town centre. Sarah and I had our first date in there in 2002. The food was excellent, best curry I've had in ages. Then it was home for coffee and chat. A really enjoyable evening was had by all.

We had planned to meet up with the family in Herne Bay today, but a call this morning put paid to that. First my Dad wasn't too well, then my brother text me and said that they (and my Oz cousin) got drunk the night before (I think the term my sis-in-law used was 'Wankered') and were still in bed. So after our weekly trip to Asda, we had a spot of lunch then decided to dodge the rain clouds by going to Herne Bay by ourselves.
HB was not too busy so we parked easily and spent a couple of quid in the arcades, then got bored and drove to Reculver Towers. Its one of these places you see in the distance but have never been there, and I quite liked it. OK its basically a ruin but the towers have been there since the 13th Century, and being right by the sea they were used as a beacon for ships in the estuary. They were taken over by Trinity House in the 19th century for that purpose. After an ice lolly (Feast, haven't had one for years!) and a sit down it was back home where my long grass and lawnmower awaits.

Sunday, 31 July 2011

A Weekend of Celebration. 30/07/2011

Phew there is a lot happening this weekend. First off my Oz Cousin arrived (I'm meeting her tomorrow) then we went to the first of the weekends shindigs. It was Tina's Birthday Garden Party. We had a great afternoon with lovely company, food and drink. We were joined by our friends and took the old A line Bus to the party. Parking around their area is a nightmare at the best of times. At the moment there are roadworks there as well so the bus is really the best option. Dave had made some home brew ales. Now some home brewed beer I've had in the past have ranged from 'bland' to 'ugh!!', but these were good! There were two varieties, one called 'Rain Stopped Play', which was nice, flavoursome and perfectly gluggable. The other, 'Wet Weekend' was lighter than the previous and again surprisingly drinkable, and not too strong either. I may have to have a crack at this homebrew, maybe get some winter ale ready for the annual Firework do in November.
We left about 6pm then realising we both couldn't drive as we'd had a few so it was a quick call to the Chinese Takeaway for some home delivered house special Chow Meins.

Didn't sleep too well last night. But early this morning I went out like a light. Got up about 8pm to let the cats out, well one went out the others just sat there staring at me. I think food was on their agenda rather than their first dump of the day!
After a spot of brekkie we had a call from our friend. She had arranged us three Eurostar tickets to Paris. I'm made up! I thought we wouldn't be able to go because the cost was prohibitive for 3 of us, and they were fully booked for the days we could go. Off to Asda for our weekly shop and I picked up a couple of shirts at £12.50 each, with tee shirts as well. It was nice to see that one went through the checkout at £6, I love a bargain!
Then it was off to Dartford for a family get-together at my Brother's place. We had four birthdays to celebrate (Mum, Sis in Law, Nephew and Sister of Sis in law). We were also meeting our Oz Cousin. I met her in 1997 and it was great to see that she was still the nicest, bubbliest person from all those years ago! Anyway she seemed to like the Pimms, having never had it before. I think a visit to Duty Free may be in order for her! The weather was lovely, its about time we had two good days in a row.
Home now to watch the GP. I have a busy week next week already 4 evenings are booked out so I have one evening to record a 2 hour show for next sunday...Phew!

Saturday, 23 July 2011

The Party and a photo that haunts me 23/7/11

I finally succumbed to the fish today. Let me explain, Sarah had her feet nibbled by these fish a while back and she has been talking about visiting a place in Ashford that had opened recently. So I thought 'what the hell' and handed over a tenner for 15 minutes of fish nibbling. In my opinion a not unpleasant experience but very ticklish to start off with. It got me thinking.....Those fish must think they are in a Monty Python sketch. All they see are large feet bearing down on them!

As were were at a party tonight we decided to take lunch at the Blue & white cafe, a great place on the A20 near Ashford. The Gypsy Tart was particularly good, and so large that we shared a portion between us.

We were at a Golden wedding anniversary party tonight. It was great to catch up with some old friends, some I have known from my childhood. As my mate pointed out in a photo album he had made for his (celebrating) parents... there was a picture of me, him and his sister, He was sitting on a giant toy dog, she was pushing a wheelbarrow, and I of course had to pick the pram, and he has always pointed this out whenever we meet! He is fifty next year so no doubt the album will appear again, and I will still be pushing that pram in my tartan trousers and bad knitwear. Next year I'm going to tell everyone about the 'cool' two tone shirt he bought from Mr Buyrite in 1979...One wash and the collars & cuffs fell off!

I was expecting news on the TV tonight about the killings in Norway, so I was slightly shocked to discover Amy Winehouse had been found dead. I was always saddened by her inability to shake off her demons, but I also thought that she would never release another album after 'Back to Black'. A tragic waste of a genuine talent.

Didn't sleep too well last night, I woke about 3AM and started sneezing. I hope that's not the start of a cold! The cat made sure I didn't get a lie-in so it was up just after 8am, fed the cats then some brekkie and then on the PC to finalise my playlist for today's show. We were at ASDA about 9:40 so we managed to beat the crowds. After dropping off the shopping it was a quick trip to Dobbies for our monthly free coffee and a scone. Then home for the German Grand Prix. I had to take another route to the coast today as here are hold ups on the M20. actually I quite enjoyed not have to do battle with lorries on the roundabouts of Dover! 2 hours of deejaying on Danceweb Radio then home for a chinese takeaway. There were some excellent programmes about the space shuttle on the TV tonight, so I ended the day happy!

Sunday, 17 July 2011

A Few Minor Adjustments....Weekend 16/17 July

I have become a lazy blogger again. Early May was the last time I posted, so I thought I would re-vamp the page and attempt to keep a weekend blog. Why not every day? well basically weekdays are too humdrum to comment on in my world so I thought the weekend would be more interesting, because that is when stuff happens.

Saturday has gone all awry! I was supposed to be at the Lions Den Music festival but other plans had been made, then they got cancelled. So we ended up shopping in Canterbury where we had to buy new bed linen and duvet for the spare room. Lunch was nice though, a steak baguette and chips in the Weavers House Restaurant, a very popular spot for Japanese tourists as well, the place was full of them. I like Canterbury, especially seeing overseas visitors spending their lovely money in our shops! Of course it pee'd down with rain, then a gust of wind destroyed my umbrella. Luckily it was only a cheap one.

We had to go to our friends in High Halden that afternoon to collect the solar telescope which he had borrowed from the astro society. The weather was awful, and on the way back I saw a car travelling in the opposite direction to us on the A28 performing a rather uncontrolled 360 and ending up on the grass verge on our side. I stopped to ask if they were OK and they said yes although they did look rather shaken. People really need to drive according to the road conditions. If I had been a few hundred yards further up the road he would have taken us out as well.
After the weekly trawl around Asda we got home, booked some cinema tickets online for Harry Potter's latest & had some rather nice tex/mex food. then settled in front of the TV.

Sunday I was up quite early (for me anyway) so after a spot of brekkie we did a bit of housework then an astro society member popped in to collect the solar telescope. Not that he's going to see much sun in this weather!
So off to the cinema for the 3 o'clock showing. We always like to get there early so we have the pick of the seats, unlike some. Nothing boils my piss more than people who turn up right when the film is about to start, sit at the front, don't like it there and expect you to move so they can get past to a seat in your row, as what happened today. I noticed the film projectors have now gone digital. there were no scratches or specks on the film at all, but there seemed to be a lack of resolution, almost like a noise on the film. Maybe I'm a bit picky. However the film is terrific. If you have read the books and seen all the other movies you won't be disappointed. Not too sure about the trailer for 'Cowboys vs Aliens' though...Hollywood must be running out of ideas!
we rounded off sunday with a trip to Yeungs chinese buffet and as usual I ate way too much, but I love the food in there and I think at £11.80 it is still good value for money. Home now and in time for Top Gear as well...can't be bad. We have Monday off so I don't have to worry too much about work tomorrow....nice!

Monday, 2 May 2011

Another Bank Holiday....

I was going to put today's activities in the previous blog, but I've decided to give this topic a blog posting of its own because I'm gonna have a rant, I feel I need to get this off my chest, I deserve it its been a long time since I last had one!
Basically if there is one thing that really gets my goat it is.....POOR RESTAURANT SERVICE!
Today Sarah and myself went to Deal. I must say it was very blustery down there, so we didn't spend too much time walking along the seafront. As it was just on lunch time we decided to have a meal then, rather than wait until the evening. I always wanted to try the restaurant on the end of the pier (I won't name it on here but you know the one if you have been to Deal recently) . We duly walked in, I asked to look at a menu as there was nothing on display apart from the specials. Only to be told "It is waiter service, take a seat and someone will serve you"......5 to 10 minutes later, still no menu. Then a group sat down next to us and were served straight away. I ask the waitress if there was any danger of seeing a menu (my words exactly) and was told "sorry I didn't see you come in". Hold on...She was the one who told us to take a seat...anyway they were quick to take our order, fish & chips twice, one coffee, one water. The drinks arrived soon enough and my cappuccino was not too bad. 50 MINUTES LATER Our food arrived and to be honest it was good, but we had to rush it as there was not enough time on the parking ticket. Now it wasn't too busy,even though it was lunch time but how long does it take to cook this? In the past if food has been delayed normally the staff have the courtesy to tell you and even offer some more drinks on the house or knock a few quid off the bill, and I have been satisfied with this, but they were oblivious to the delay so obviously this was the norm. Frankly in this day and age this level of service is unacceptable.
I can see why restaurant chains are so popular. You know what you are going to expect from your food, and the level of service is generally good. It also explains why a number of badly run restaurants go under. I think there a a few things they could do to improve service. Either reduce the amount of things on the menu, or take on more kitchen staff. There were plenty of service staff there.
This afternoon we drove over to Lathe Barn, a few miles from Port Lympne. Whilst there we went into a small junk shop (I like looking at tatt). One thing that did catch our eyes were a collection of First Day Covers at a pound each. Sarah bought some wildlife ones and I bought 3 RAF ones. I think they will look good framed. there was a cafe there but after our experience at Deal we decided to drive the scenic route home and have a cuppa there!

Saturday, 30 April 2011

A Tough Act to Follow....

Friday night was the monthly meeting of the Astronomy Society. The guest speaker, Jason, gave a brilliant talk about 50 years of manned space flight. There was humour, pathos, huge amounts of detail and even props! All in all a brilliant talk. The hour and a half went really quickly and he had the audience enthralled.
Next month it's my turn. Back in 2009 I put together a weather satellite receiving station for 'Astrobash' which was the AAS contribution to the year of astronomy. I thought it would be a good idea to present a talk about the project, including it's origin and also a practical demonstration. Then our chairman publicised it as 'Space Weather' so I had to change the goal posts slightly, I am now giving a weather forecast for the planets of the solar system, plus an up to date solar weather forecast. I need to time it with a weather satellite pass as well, which I won't know until the day. All I do know it will be difficult to follow the last two presentations, which have been excellent!
I went back to Dartford Town Centre on Saturday. Now I normally go to Darent Valley Hospital once a week to do my Radio show there, but I never venture into town. Sadly, the Town is a shadow of its former self. The recession has hit hard with a lot of vacant shops. Plus I think Bluewater has really taken a lot of trade away from the town, with all the big retailers moving out. Even the 'very' camp (and funny!) waiter in the cafe has left! I met my cousin saturday night who was down from Nottingham. He had his new girlfriend with him. A really nice person. Anyway we all ate way too much chinese food and had a few drinks to wash it all down. A good evening, its not often we have a family get-together.
Sunday was normal. Get up slightly late, trip to Dobbies, lunch courtesy of McDonalds, Do bit more to the outside electrics then off to the studios of Dance Web Radio for the Soul show. We rounded of the evening with the latest Harry Potter film, Blu-Ray as well. What makes me smile is the surround sound always make the cats jump!

Sunday, 24 April 2011

A Cracking Easter

In previous years I've always found Easter time a bit of an anti-climax. You wait 3-4 months from christmas for another public holiday and then the weather is normally too dire to actually do anything other than trudge around the shops/garden centres/DIY superstores.
This year has been an exception. We have actually had some great weather which means Sarah and I have been out and about. Good friday was spent at the Nature reserve at Dungeness. I have said before in my blog how much I like Dungeness, but we only went to the RSPB reserve for the first time in January, and managed to spot a Bittern. Not bad for the first time twitching. Anyhow friday it was really hot down there, so we spent most of the time in the hide out of the sun. Friday night I took the Telescope up to Wye Downs but the visibility was poor due to atmospheric pollution. So we drove home and set up the 'scope in the garden. I showed Sarah's parents Saturn, M3, M13, Beehive Cluster and M35, plus we saw the ISS pass overhead. All in all a good evening.
Saturday we spent at the shops (some things never change!) but we had to get food in for the Barbeque that evening. I had a bad phone call earlier from my Mum saying that they had been in a car accident (they are OK) and won't be coming down, A shame. We have been after a water feature for some time after our old one sprung a leak. Bybrook Barn came up trumps with a half barrel and old water pump feature for 30 quid off. So we purchased it and had it delivered.Then it was barbeque time. A great evening with Sarah's family and a couple of friends.
Sunday we went to Smarden for the annual duck race. Basically you buy a plastic duck for a quid, they chuck it in the river with hundreds of other ducks and the first to the Town bridge wins. we didn't but the local butcher and one of the organisers did! We walked into the town from the farm, had a couple of beers in the pubs before and after then it was back to the farm for a BBQ courtesy of friends who invited us. It was a really brilliant afternoon. We also got to see some Sheep, Lambs, Cattle (British White Breed) and Ducks close up. We absolutely loved it there and I now know why my friends love camping there!
We decided to go to Canterbury on Monday. As the Park & Ride wasn't running we got the train. The journey is very picturesque. Once you get past the sewage works and factories of Ashford the countryside is outstanding. We did the usual round of Debenhams, M&S, and Benjis sweet shop which usually sells Sarah's favourite, Scottish Tablet. Not today though, it looks like they have discontinued it. After lunch (CJs Baguettes, a sort of posh Subway) We saw a new shop called FeetBliss. Basically you can get all the dead skin and foot munge eaten off by these tropical fish. Sarah had a go and described it as 'bubbly' and 'tickles' but it does work!
Walking back towards Westgate we decided to have a boat trip on the river. A 50 minute punt cost a tenner each but it was great, very relaxing and once you get out of the city it is so peaceful. We caught the highspeed back to Ashford and stopped at Pets at Home for some goldfish for the water feature. We bought four, two each of gold and yellow Comets although we haven't named them yet. Back home and a Chinese Takeaway to round off the holidays. Its back to work for 3 days and then there's some sort of Wedding on and another bank holiday. Fingers crossed the weather holds.......TTFN!