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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!