Tuesday, 30 November 2010

First Snow

Over night snow finally found it's way to my part of the UK. Just a smattering you understand but enough a create that lovely wintry, nearly Christmas effect. It's still gently failing and more is forecast I believe.

A taste of things to come?

At least I don't have to worry about battling my way to and from the office at present.

Update (1.10pm): Holy Ice-cubes, Batman! It's still trying to snow and the temperature is stuck down at zero. Our Postman has just been round. Still wearing his short trousers!

Sunday, 28 November 2010

A Bit Chilly

Apparently as of right now (19.55) it's around -2.5 degrees Celsius (about 27 F) in the back garden. There's one of those cool "weather stations" on the kitchen window sill, with a radio linked sensor down the garden. Can't complain really: some parts of the UK were down at -15 last night and under several centimetres of snow. Except of course the heating hasn't really worked since early October when I got back from my travels. Anyone know a good/reliable plumber? Mine seems to have disappeared.


Saturday, 27 November 2010


You know how it is- tv or film adaptations usually don't live up to the original source book. There are of course one or two exceptions to this rule, once in a while. An obvious example of this is the new Harry Potter.

Beautifully dark, far more concise and much better focused than the source, despite the extended run time. I'm sorry JK, really I am but I didn't enjoy the book as much as I thought I should. The film (part 1 at least) was a vast improvement.

Can't wait for part 2.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

What Cutbacks?

So we're being told the economic situation is dire at present, that we should expect huge increases in bills and wholesale cuts to public services. Already as a result we hear of huge job cuts in the public sector because there just isn't enough money in the pot for basic services.

To reinforce this message just this week our neighbours on the Emerald Isle have been forced to request a multi-billion pound loan and the government there will be shortly announcing huge budget cuts.

How come then today a team of three workers from my local council- Wokingham- have been along cutting the grass on the public verges? It wasn't long by any stretch of the imagination. It's Autumn, rolling into Winter here for goodness sake- temperatures this morning were about 1 degree Celsius (about 34 F) and grass stops growing at 6 degrees. Snow has even been promised by the end of the week. I'm pretty sure this was a pointless exercise and the verges didn't benefit from the cut.

What a waste of money. Let's be clear about this: what a waste of my Council Tax.

End of rant.

Off to see Harry Potter this Friday.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Pros And Cons

One of the pleasant things about foreign travel is that you get to try new foods. Sometimes the experience is not so good but often you find the new delicacy is just too yummy for words.

One of the disadvantages of travel is getting home and finding those new (and addictive) food items available in your very own local supermarket. Never kind on the waistline LOL.

Does anyone know where I can locate Lamingtons?

At least I can console myself I've made a modest contribution to British and Commonwealth veteran's charities. The diet will start when the packet is finished. Maybe LOL.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Bake Off

I seem to have got a little carried away this weekend and challenged Dad to a Christmas Cake bake-off.

Let me explain. Some readers may recognise British TV chef Delia Smith. She's very popular and has been around a good while; she has pretty much been responsible for teaching this nation that good quality cooking can be simple and fairly straightforward. Such is her influence that when Delia recommends an exotic sounding ingredient or some new kitchen gadget on her show or in one of her books, you can bet the shops will sell out.

This year in conjunction with a well known supermarket she has launched a version of her popular traditional festive cake- all the main ingredients weighed out and ready, all in one handy take home bag. At only £10 (about 15 USD) it's a bit too tempting. The currants, sultanas and other fruit are even pre-soaked in Brandy! All you then have to do is add some fresh items, follow the instruction sheet to mix and put in the oven for 4-ish hours on a low heat.

So there I was yesterday afternoon part way through following the recipe when Dad called for a chat. One thing led to another and the next thing I knew I had challenged him to give it a go too.

My effort came out of the oven at around 8pm last night and can be seen in the image below. I'm not a hugh fan of icing and marzipan; I decorated with almonds instead, sort of like a Dundee cake I guess. I emailed a picture to Dad so if he dares to try himself and sends me the proof, I will post an image for comparison. Maybe we'll even get a sample each come Christmas. Only six weeks to go til the big day, dontchaknow.

The fruit hasn't all risen to the top, it's a trick of the light.

10 Nov
Reading 1 - 1 Cardiff

13 Nov
Reading 3 - 3 Norwich

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Two Minutes

Two minutes silence doesn't somehow seem adequate to acknowledge the sacrifice our service men and women have made.

Veterans at the cenotaph in London.

We will never forget.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Re-Engineered Part II

As promised here. My latest somewhat experimental work is completed and now home. Due to the college summer break and overseas travel, there's been something of a delay. Sorry if you've been waiting (!) and have wondered what's happened to those rather odd pieces I make.

Thrown Bowl, torn, rebuilt and then glazed in Marbled Blue.

I've uploaded more images to this folder on my Webshots page. Please feel free to take a look and comment.

You can expect more work, developing my current bizarre obsessions in the coming weeks...

Elsewhere I've now taken two trips in under a week down to see SM and Dad at their new place in Dorset, to sort out his computer. It takes about one and a half to two hours each way depending. Perhaps I could go into business offering in-home computer support to the elderly those of 'experienced years.' Then again I guess if I was actually any good, I would have got it right the first visit! Ho hum...

Monday, 8 November 2010

How Much?

Think it must have been a slow news day here in the UK. The press has been reporting a supermarket on the island of Jersey had to say sorry for over charging a customer because the shop assistant's breasts were resting on the checkout...

Not the actual checkout.

No seriously. It would seem that due to a seating malfunction, the assistant's rather large boobs would occasionally inadvertently rest on the weighing machine used for pricing fruit and vegetables. This caused the apparent over charge.The assistant was said to be extremely embarrassed and the store most apologetic, while the customer received a refund.

Read here.

What's Going On?

In these harsh economic times, the UK government has had a lot to say and has made several announcements they say will put the country back on the straight and narrow. Whether they are right or wrong only time will tell but here are a couple I'd like to comment specifically on:

Apparently the long term unemployed are to be asked to perform volunteer work in the community. In order to continue to receive their unemployment benefit payments those out of work for greater than a year, would be requested (where they are able) to carry out jobs like gardening or litter collection for up to four weeks per year. This won't affect those on long term disability benefit. That doesn't sound too bad does it? Wouldn't the whole of society benefit from this scheme and make the UK a better place?

Elsewhere the funding of Welsh language television channel S4C has been under the spotlight. By S4C's own admission their highest rated programme ("Pobol Y Cwm") for the week ending 17 Oct 2010 received a 'massive' 97,000 viewers. Hardly huge. This channel currently costs the state (and therefore the tax payer) around £100 million per year (about 160 m USD). Hardly seems a fair return on my tax contribution does it?

I really don't think as a nation we can currently support such a luxury as a minority language tv channel. I would rather that money was spent on something we could all benefit from. Perhaps those funds could be better used to support the National Health Service or other parts of our public services? Maybe even create a few jobs and reduce the unemployment level..? 

Just a thought.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Footie Highlights (And Lowlights)

30 Oct 2010
Reading 4 - 3 Doncaster

06 Nov 2010
QPR 3 - 1 Reading