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Sunday, 29 July 2012

It's Your Birthday 28-29 July 2012

There seems to be a theme this weekend. First off we are off to a 40th masquerade party tonight then sunday it is the gathering of the clans to celebrate four family birthdays all within a few days of each other.

First off, into town for an appointment at the opticians and visit a few shops. I had to buy a new charger cable for the camera. The other one is 'lost'. The camera shop doesn't sell them, but they did sell me a universal battery charger which fits any battery in the various gadgets I own. Then on the way back to the car we stopped and said hi to Webbo, who was hosting 'Ashfords Got Talent'  at Park Mall.  On the way home we stopped at Dobbies for lunch, then spent the afternoon watching the Olympic ceremony recorded from the night before. All was going well until V+ decided to end just as the cauldron was being lit. A quick scramble through the iPlayer was required to see it to the end. All in all I was impressed. Danny Boyle did a cracking job.

Then it was time to get suited and booted to set off for Park Farm. The taxi was on time, but as we left Stanhope we realised that the present was still at home. So we got the driver to turn and head back home. We eventually met up at Drew and Anita's place for a quick tipple then boarded the  coach down to Finchcocks Museum of Music in Goudhurst for her 40th Birthday Soiree. The theme was Masquerade so we donned our masks. I was particularly impressed with Jason's mask which had a nose so large he had to use a straw to drink ! After a few Pimms on the lawn to the sounds of a string quartet we made our way to the cellar for a very good buffet, then a look round the museum. The only thing I could play was the ' Hurdy Gurdy', but as Dave pointed out the Monkey was missing. We then gathered for a musical interlude in the main hall, then back down to the cellar for more music and dancing.  There  are photos of the event on Facebook and a rather embarrassing video of us doing the 'push and pull' dance. We finished about 11pm and after herding everyone on to the coach We headed back to Park Farm. Luckily we were offered a lift home from Dave and Tina because we couldn't get through to the taxi firm. It was a fun, memorable evening shared with great friends.


We had a nice lie-in then, after the weekly shop and a spot of lunch it was off to Wilmington for the gathering of the clans. There a four Birthdays to celebrate. Mum, Sarah (sis in law), Deborah (sis in law sister) and James (Nephew). The weather put paid to us sitting in the garden. It was real biblical stuff, torrential rain, thunder, lightning the lot. It didn't spoil the party though and there was plenty of food, drink, wonderful cupcakes courtesy of Rebecca and a cake made from sweets! We sang 'Happy Birthday to you' four times, with three little cakes and Jame's sweetie cake lit, then it was time to say our goodbyes as we headed home. 

I have been recording the first hour of my DWR show tonight. Now that I have re-vamped the room and studio layout I found it more comfortable to use, thus I was much more relaxed than previously. I hope this comes out in the broadcast!

Until next week then....

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Self Assembly, Python and Dungeness 21-22 July 2012

We went to IKEA this week to get some new office furniture. Basically our third bedroom contains a hotch-potch of old computer desks, none of which match. It means I have no room to properly install my mini studio.

First off, we popped into town to do a few bits and bobs. We bumped into a friend from the Astro club and had a quick chat, bought some nibbles for tonight, then we decided to lunch out. So we went to the Beefeater at Eureka Park. Rump steak, profiteroles and a couple of glasses of Pepsi later it was ready to face the self-assembly task ahead of me.

Having measured up I reckoned that the corner unit and one long desk would fit, just. I wasn't too wrong as there was about half a Gnats clearance. I had to do some minor adjustments to the desk with a tenon saw and drill so the end cleared the radiator valve and skirting board, but now it fits ok and looks good. Then it was time for film night.

Normally this happens at another friend's place but seeing as he was away I offered to hold one. We were joined by Manky and Andy and I decided to show three Monty Python films back to back. we started off with 'Holy Grail', then 'Life of Brian' and finished with 'Meaning of Life', at which point we were joined by Tina. A good evening was had by all.


As it was going to be a sunny day we decided to head for the coast and one of my favourite spots, Dungeness. I fancied a ride on the RH and DR train to Hythe, and a visit to the Model railway exhibition at New Romney. I was surprised, on such a lovely day there were not many people on there. I suppose it is early in the summer holidays. I do like the scenery en route. It goes from the shingle desert of Dungeness through to the flat grazing lands of Romney Marsh, via plenty of back gardens! Seventy minutes later we arrived in Hythe. After a quick cuppa we were back on the same train and heading for New Romney. The ticket allows to to visit the exhibition so having an interest in model railways it was something I wanted to see. The oo gauge layout is pretty impressive. They even included a Tardis, Daleks and a 'Triassic Park' OK so they don't really stick to realism but it was entertaining to see. A 15 minute wait for the next train gave us a photo opportunity as the staff had put two locomotives out so people could stand (or sit) at the footplate. We got back to Dungeness about 5pm. 

Until next week then...

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Western Heights, yet more rain 14 July 2012


Today is the day we had planned to go to Dover Western Heights, where the preservation society were having an open day which involved opening the Grand Shaft and Drop Redoubt (a Napoleonic Fortress). Sarah decided to spend the day with her parents. I set off for Badger HQ  at the prescribed time only to find Dave in a state of undress, they were running late. First stop was Asda for cash, then on to the Clifftop Cafe in Capel -Le-Ferne for a breakfast. This is my favourite cafe in Kent, mainly down to the view across the Channel and along to Folkestone and the Warren. The breakfast is not too shabby either. Just as we finished our food Dave and Tina's friends from Brighton arrived and we were treated to a quick magic show by their Daughter, who is practising for a family party. Very good she was too. One of her tricks left Manky stumped!  After a cuppa we set off for the Western Heights. 

By now the bad weather was closing in, it started off promising, now it was turning nasty. We parked up and made our way to the Grand Shaft, via a quick exploration of some old gun emplacements. The Grand Shaft is a treble helix stairwell taking us from the heights to the Western Docks, about 130 odd steps. The reason for having three separate stairwells was to keep the soldiering classes apart. So there was one for officers, one for NCO's and one for squaddies. The descent was OK, the ascent was a killer. We all looked a bit knackered at the top and of course there was another load of steps and an uphill walk to the Drop Redoubt. We had paid entrance fees at the bottom of the shaft and were given a sticker, which I duly lost. Nothing was sticking to our damp clothes. Anyway I was told I had an honest face at the Drop Redoubt entrance so they gave me another...which I lost again later. 

We had a good look around the tunnels and rooms, talking with the volunteers there including a prison officer who was very knowledgeable about the area. We stayed under cover as much as possible as the rain was now a deluge with thunder and lightning as well. After about an hour we decided that it was not the day for further exploration, as was originally planned. The weather had put paid to that, we all looked like proverbial drowned rats. My waterproof (cheap) coat leaked, but it was a combination of rain and sweat, as the bloody thing doesn't breathe. I've decided that if this weather persists I'm going to invest in a Gore-tex one! I want to go back though, we missed out on a lot of exploration.

We said our goodbyes then set off for Ashford. The M20 was not good, we saw the aftermath of one car aquaplaning. They had  hit the central reservation. I drove through the same section and felt the car aquaplaning, but the trick is to slow down, don't brake or change direction suddenly, like the other car obviously did. We did smile though when I switched on the radio and Tony Blackburn featured 1978 on Pick of the Pops, he played the Smurfs who were at Number two back then. 

Tonight we decided to have Chinese food from the new takeaway. Five of us were dining. You know when you order too much food because there doesn't seem enough? That happened tonight. there was tons of it. I actually froze dishes that weren't even opened. With full stomachs we crashed in front of the TV, watching the third Indiana Jones movie 'Last Crusade' on DVD. 

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Tenterden and Rain Stopped Play 7 - 8 July 2012

First off an update about my studio problems. Last week I mentioned my dual CD player had stopped ejecting CDs. Well I went to move it and it rattled inside. Further inspection showed one of the drive mechanisms is broken. I decided to look into mp3/midi interfaces and after a quick look on the internet and a trip to Maplins this week I came away with one that does the job, and it works out a lot cheaper than buying a new or used CD unit. I now have it running on the spare laptop. The only thing is I have to transfer all my soul/disco/jazz funk CDs onto the laptop to use it, very time consuming!


I was awakened at four AM by loud BEEP. First of all I thought I had dreamt it, and as I dropped off again there was another BEEP. The Carbon Monoxide alarm was telling us the batteries were low. That was a fine time to decide to let us know!

So after a bit of a lie-in we set off for Tenterden. I needed a haircut and we had to buy something for my Mum which I had seen there the last time we went. We stayed there for lunch, then got home in time for the British Grand Prix qualifying, which was then postponed because of the deluge at Silverstone. So whilst the pundits were filling time, I decided to sort the music files on my laptop, as I find that everything imported by iTunes seems to embed everything into folders within folders. Having everything in one folder actually makes it easier to search within the VirtualDJ software. We decided stay in and watch 'Temple of Doom' tonight, as the BBC are showing 'Raiders' held over from last week. Then it was back on the laptop to load up some more CDs. What an exciting life I lead!


We were planning to go up to the 'Stride for Life', the charity day at Darent Valley Hospital. Sadly the rain put paid to that and they had to cancel it due to a waterlogged field. With nothing else planned we just went shopping, nipped over to the designer outlet so Sarah could buy some new trainers, and made it home in time for the British Grand Prix and Wimbledon final. With the weather changing every five minutes, I couldn't really do anything in the garden, and we didn't really want to go out anywhere. After a very nice dinner I recorded one hour of my show. I was quite pleased with the results as well, this new system seems to work out fine. Now I see there's nothing on TV so I'm catching up with stuff I've recorded. Sometimes weekends can be a tad dull. 

Until next week then...

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Nowt Doing 30 June to 1 July 2012

We had a good night at the Astro Club meeting last night. It could have easily been a disaster as I forgot we had been banished to the Annex Hall, after the powers that be cocked up the bookings. We still managed to get sixty plus people in there, even if we had to borrow chairs from the main hall. Sarah, Anita, Tina and Lukey worked wonders with the tea and coffees in such a small kitchen. We had to borrow another kettle from the main hall to ensure everyone had a cuppa. As it was a clear evening we managed to get a few solar telescopes going before Sunset, which everyone appreciated. Then as it was telescope workshop night we discussed peoples telescope queries. I even sold a load of clothing as well.


Canterbury was our destination this morning. We decided to take the Pug for a bit of a run, roof down as it was nice weather. I reckon it was a good idea as the brake squeal seems to have cured itself. We bought a few odds and sods then Sarah decided to check out new mobile phones, and managed to get a new phone with a better deal for the same price she pays at the moment. I actually got the chance to drive the Pug home, only the third time I've driven it. It handles quite well, although I still reckon the brakes are not as good as they should be. But I am comparing it to the Prius, which has excellent brakes.

When we got home I decided to wash the Pug as it had half the Sahara Desert on it from the rainfall this week. I even gave it a bit of a polish. I'll take the Prius down the car wash as its a bigger beast and the Pug is easier to clean. As this is a 'Nothing Planned' weekend, we are going to stay in tonight and watch 'Raiders' on BBC1, there could be takeaway involved as well. Well the takeaway happened (Curry) and very good it was too. However the BBC changed 'Raiders' for Wimbledon. So I'm watching Andy Murray instead of Indiana Jones. Then I noticed there was a horror film on C5. I gave it twenty minutes then switched back to Tennis. I realised why I've never bothered to watch the 'Hostel' series of films.


We are now well into summer but no one has told the weather fairies. I woke up to torrential rain, then as we left home, sun. Then as we arrived at Asda, torrential rain, then as we left there, sun. Then as we got home....you guessed it!

We really don't know what to do today. We have a few options, use our English Heritage or National Trust, go to Ikea (less likely) or stay home, watch a DVD and record my show for DWR. In the end we watched 'Raiders' on DVD, went out and got the car washed, then went down to the Garden centre for compost and a Rhubarb plant. Dodging the rain I got the grass cut, plants potted and plants pruned. Then it was time to record this weeks show for DWR.

 I recorded an hour, had dinner then in a fit of enthusiasm went up to record the second hour. Having checked the first hour MP3 I realised why the VU meter on the laptop was reading over. I had inadvertently pressed the 'mic' tit on the audio interface, thus rendering the recording totally distorted and unusable. I now have to get two hours worth done before Wednesday. That's an hour of my life I'll never get back. At least Spain are having a better evening, although as I type this the second half has just started so I may be speaking too soon.

Until next week then