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Sunday, 29 January 2012

Not Stargazing Again and the Six Million Dollar Cat. 28-29 January.

It has been one of those weeks. On Monday we were told that Arnie had been found semi conscious in our neighbour's garden. After he was rushed to the vet, then to our own vet he was diagnosed with a broken front right leg and ruptured diaphragm. He has now had two operations to repair the damage and he is fighting on bless him. As you can see from the photo he looks a bit bald at the moment, he may even lose his leg if there is nerve damage, but cats can adapt. Trust us to adopt a Cat who likes playing chicken with cars.

We had another Stargazing Live event to attend. This one was arranged by Natural England and taking place at Wye Downs. I was asked to give my talk on Radio Astronomy, so I really didn't need the cold I currently have. After a good lunch at the Blue & White Cafe we went to see Arnie. The poor fella seems to be off his food so Sarah cooked him some fish, which he sniffed at and refused as well. 
Soon after we got home Andy turned up so we loaded the car with the PA system and telescope and set off for Wye. Yet again the weather was against us with clouds and rain. So we were confined to the Restaurant which, with nearly 100 people in there was a tad cosy! The evening was a success though with Ashley from SEKAS starting the evening with a great slide show and talk. Then it was my turn, and that went OK. I then seconded Jason to do a quick planetarium talk which covered for the lack of stargazing. We finished about 8pm and after packing up and saying our goodbyes set off for some food courtesy of McDs. Then it happened.......The clouds cleared. It always occurs when we have a pre-planned event. However Natural England want to hold another Astro event soon, and this time we will make it absolutely clear that people have to book it in advance. As some of our followers (members and non-members) were disappointed at not getting a ticket, thinking they could just turn up on the night. At least they didn't miss any observing!


I wake up early with a sore throat and snotty nose. The cold is into day four. We did the usual early shop, then it was home to clean the aquarium. A job that I don't relish but has to be done.  I had planned to go to a model railway show in Thamesmead today, but the cold has put paid to that. I just want to veg out in front of the TV and maybe later start building my railway station. I had managed to pre-record a show for DWR today. So there won't be a live show until next Sunday.

Until next weekend then....

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Stargazing Live and A New Laptop 21-22 January 2012


It was one of those days where you have plenty of time for stuff during the day, then it all goes into panic stations later on. We went out about 10 AM to buy some provisions for stargazing live.  On the way home I was drawn to the model shop where I spent a bit on stuff for the railway layout. My Flying Scotsman turned up this week so I now need to turn my attention to the scenery. We decided to dine out for lunch so we went to the Harvester which actually wasn't too bad. The last time we went about 3 years ago I vowed never to set foot in the place after a really bad experience there. I think they are OK when the place isn't too busy .
Then it was home for an afternoon on the train set before Andy arrived to help us get the stuff together for SGL. That's when panic set in. I couldn't find my notes for the talk, so I printed some more only for the black ink cartridge to run out on the printer.

We arrived at the venue to find all the volunteers in full flow. There were chairs and banners being set up everywhere. I set up the PA and sorted the merchandise whilst Sarah, Tina and Anita sorted the refreshments all in readiness for the expected crowds.The evening went really well. I reckon we had about 160 turn up. It could have been more if the weather was better but as usual the clouds had other ideas. After a great presentation from Drew we had a quick cuppa, then a rather pricey burger (good but way too expensive). It was a shame that it was still cloudy, but we had a contingency plan, in the shape of Dave, who gave his great talk on the Fermi Paradox. I had set up my talk as well, but we decided to have a 'Grill an Astronomer' Session, which meant there was not enough time. That may be a regular feature at our meetings in the future such was the success of it, even though one of our experts said a rather rude word! What a great evening though. That is the forth event we have put on and yet again it was a resounding success.


I slept well last night, SGL must have worn me out. We went to ASDA about 9:45. I have decided to get a new laptop. My old one has been giving me evils all week, starting with overheating when I least expected it, then it kept throwing me off the wi fi which really boiled my piss! So enough is enough, and I ventured to PC world. I know a lot of people groan at PC world but they do have the best selection and occasionally some special offers. So I picked up an HP Pavillion in red with 4GB of RAM and 500GB hard drive for £349. I had mulled over processors but I won't be gaming or doing anything heavy so an AMD dual core was sufficient. I also added Office and Norton. I also blagged a free laptop bag as well. If you don't ask etc...

I was going down to the studio today, but I really had too much to sort out at home and when John said he wasn't going on because he had flu I decided not to go. So While PC world were setting up my laptop I set about fiddling with the railway layout again. I had to re-jig the power supply sections so it meant taking up half the track to do it. Just as I finished my mobile rang, my laptop was ready for collection. Some people may wonder why I opted for them to do it. The last time I bought a laptop (PC World again) the bloody thing had problems straight out of the box. They did fix it but it never was the same and was unreliable from the outset. Now I've just got iTunes on there and set up all my bits and bobs. Actually I'm writing this blog on the new one!

Until next weekend then.....

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Chilled weekend 14-15 January 2012


Its good to have a weekend with nothing really planned. This morning we went into town to get a few odds and sods, as well as collect a signed for parcel. I don't know why someone would do a recorded delivery for a fivers worth of stuff, I suppose its better to be safe etc.. We went to Dobbies for our monthly free coffee, along with a couple of toasties. I treated myself to a caramel latte as I always find the cappuccino to be lukewarm and nearly all froth. 
Then it was home where I did a quick inventory check of the Astro Society clothing. Then I decided to lay out the track on the railway. I was itching to do a test run of the Javelin. Everything works OK which was a relief. I now need to add a bit more track and a few bits of scenery.
We went down to Farm Foods to get a load of food for our new freezer. We came away with a load of meat and meals for about £44. I then checked eBay as I was watching a Stanton Turntable which was still at £16 with no bidders. Anyway I placed a bid after seeing another bidder come in and I ended up getting it for £20 as the other bidder either couldn't be bothered to re-bid or just forgot. I was after a Technics SL1210 but they go for silly money, normally between £100-300 in all sorts of conditions, from pristine to completely 'Donald Ducked.' The Stanton does everything the SL1210 does for a fraction of the price, with the trade-off of less motor torque than the 1210. Which apparently is important if you do scratching, which I don't.

This evening was spent eating Farm Foods own Chinese grub (nice) whilst watching  Inbetweeners - The Movie. Although there were very funny moments, it wasn't quite as good as I thought it would be. I enjoyed the TV series but I thought the joke wore a little thin by the end of the film.


I was awakened this morning from a 'ping' from the iPad, which was on my bedside table and I had forgot to turn it off yesterday. It was my Aussie cousin saying that she was on Skype. So I got up, showered, dressed and after a spot of brekkie we had a chat. Then it was our weekly trip to the supermarket. After lunch I decided to get on the blog. The laptop however had other plans and overheated, causing it to shut down. OK I was synchronising my iPhone and looking at a video at the same time, but it is still annoying. Obviously my de-fluffing the other week wasn't really good enough. So I popped down to Staples (thanks for the tip Dave!) and purchased a can of blower spray. I've given the fan a good blow out now so hopefully that has sorted it. Whilst we were there we had a walk over the new footbridge that crosses the M20. Well our taxes paid for it so we thought we might as well use it!
Back home it was time to get my stuff together for an afternoon at Dance Web Radio. There is not really much traffic about so the journey was quite chilled, as was the journey home and the show in between.
Now at home where we had a really nice dinner courtesy of M&S dine in for a tenner. I'm looking forward to Sherlock on the TV. I hope it is as good as last week's episode which was excellent.

Until next week then...

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Sawing, Banging and Screwing....7-8 January 2012


I had today planned out. First stop of the day was to Ashford Model Centre via Tesco to collect the railway layout boards, then B&Q for the materials to build a frame. The weather was good so I set up the workmate in the garden ready to build. My carpentry skills are severely lacking, I don't really do wood. But hey ho I had a crack at building a frame for the Sundeala boards and you know what, it actually came out ok. I'm pleased with the results, and I enjoyed building it. Now all  I have to do is lay out the Track mat, and the track. I'm just waiting for some more track to arrive via ebay.
So after dinner I decided to fit the track mat. Easier said than done though after sticking it down I realised A) it was wonky and B) there were creases on it. So tomorrow I'm removing it and starting again. I just hope the double sided tape lifts ok. When its finished I'm hoping it looks a bit like the image above.

Blimey I watched 'Casualty' for the first time in years. Who would want to live in Holby!. Within the space of a couple of hours there was a multiple car crash, a big gas explosion and a nasty chemical cloud all caused by the same bloke. Phew! We decided to stay up and watch  Die Hard: with a Vengeance. I like the Die Hard series, lots of explosions, mindless violence and unbelievable storylines......In other words good fun!


It must have been the late night because we didn't wake until about 8:30. We were still in Asda by 10am though Then we had to go over to Kingsnorth to drop off a pet cage we borrowed from one of Sarah's colleagues. I finally put away the Christmas lights in the loft, even though we took them down on friday they were sitting in the lounge waiting for me to put them away. After a nice lunch we sat down to watch 'Something for the weekend'. I have liked this show since it started. Being live there is always that element of danger, and I like the laid back mix of cooking, witty banter and good guests. Now I hear the BBC are ending it in March. Why do they always chop the popular shows and carry on with shows that should have been put down years ago (see Saturday above). 
Then it was off to DWR for the first show of 2012. I actually had some feedback today via a listener, all good as well. It makes me happy that people appreciate the music we play. It means I must be doing something right.
Now after a really nice dinner we are settling down to watch a bit of Dancing on Ice and later, Sherlock. Probably one of the best TV shows on the box at the moment. 

Until next weekend....

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Out With The Old.....

It has been a good week off. Boxing day we went to see the latest Mission:Impossible film (excellent). We met up with some old colleagues, had a shopping trip to Maidstone, where I upgraded my phone for a nice, shiny new one. Friday we held a film night in collaboration with the  Astro Society and Woodchurch Film society, where we showed 'Apollo 13'. It was a great night and their AV system was the best I've heard and seen in ages.

New years eve (Saturday)

After slamming the roast pork in the oven and Pat & David prepared the veggies we had a drive down to Tenterden. Sarah came away with some more bling and socks. I bought a sieve, a pickle fork and a book. The last of the big spenders, that's me. 
After a really good dinner I sat and watched one of the Blu Ray films I got for Christmas. 'Senna' is a brilliant film and I don't think you need to be an F1 fan to appreciate what a legend that guy was. The evening was spent with Andy, Julie and the rest of Sarah's family at ours where we ate, drank, played cards and let off fireworks at midnight. We also had another Chinese lantern malfunction, this one ending up in the tree out front. The wind was whipping up so we abandoned any further launches. After a tidy round we finally got to bed about 1:30.

New years day (Sunday)

We set off for Mum and Dads about 10:00 am. We were planning to go to the Harvester in Crayford. It used to be something of a regular new years day event but since I've been in Ashford it hasn't really happened. So we were the first to arrive at the pub, and whilst we had a drink (J20) we perused the menus. We were told by the staff that there wasn't a lot of food left, so if we wanted a Sirloin, Sea bass, Lamb or more than 3 fillet steaks we were out of luck. As it happened we all wanted chicken so it wasn't a problem. The food was great and we had a good time. Then it was back to theirs for a cuppa and a chat before heading back to Ashford. The weather was awful on the way home, I hate heavy rain on the motorway. 

We got home in time to meet Pat & David's friends who had come over from Sussex for the day. It was good to see them after over four years. Then it was an evening in front of the TV (Sherlock Holmes (good) and a very depressing Eastenders). 

So may I wish all my readers and fellow bloggers a happy new year. I'm looking forward to some of the things coming up in 2012, including Stargazing Live, Avenue Q and of course catching up with all my friends throughout the year!

Until next week....