Monday, 28 March 2011

Missed Data?

Yesterday was the official date of the 2011 UK census, where all households have by law to declare certain facts. These include the total number and details of anyone present overnight, the type of housing (number of bedrooms etc). You get the picture. We have a Census every 10 years with the only exception being WW2, I believe.

I'm not sure exactly how long it will take the Office of National Statistics (ONS) to upload all the data and start producing (meaningful) information. The idea is that this will directly influence the future provision of infrastructure such as roads, schools, houses and hospitals. As a result this will also have a direct bearing on future taxation, and there was me thinking the Government just plucked a figure out of thin air LOL. The only information that will be published will be statistical trends, with the raw data locked away until 2111.

I dutifully completed mine yesterday and popped it back in the post. I could have submitted it electronically, completing on-line but I felt there's something nice knowing in 100 years time my descendants- should they wish- will be able to actually view my handwriting. Perhaps I'm a little old fashioned...

Anyway I did notice one omission from the questionnaire which given the make up of many modern families seems quite major. Nowhere on the form is there a question relating to the number of offspring under age 18 who for whatever reason live at another address. To me this seems quite important and something of a missed opportunity to gather meaningful data. Did this not occur to the ONS when they spent the last 10 years planning the Census? Perhaps they are all middle class men of a certain age, nicely secure in their slightly out-of-step view of society and insulated from the real world?

Maybe my outlook isn't so old fashioned after all.

Update: It's also been pointed out that for some unknown reason, the current Census does not ask for middle names. Strange.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Look Up

On a recent trip into Reading I lifted my gaze from street level (and trying to dodge idiots!) and noticed just how wonderful some of the building in my home town really are. Here's a picture I took at the Broad Street Mall (St Mary's Butts) end of Broad Street.

There's another one of those nice stone balconies at the far corner, just out of sight. Now if only I could find out some of the history of this building...

UPDATE 10 April 2011. I've been advised by a reader, that this building was once the McIlroy Department Store, built at the turn of the twentieth century and closed in the 1950's. Apparently the McIlroys were once a prominent family in this great town. Read a little more here

Friday, 25 March 2011

Not Long Now (Part II)

The BBC have just launched this short "prequel" for the first episode of the new series of Doctor Who, which is due to air Easter weekend. Can't wait, can you? 

Please note, this may not work outside the UK however versions may be available on YouTube or similar but to be honest I haven't checked. Readers in the US may also view this prequel/trailer here on the BBC America site.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Amber (May) Mean 'Go'

At last common sense might prevail. I've experienced this type of system while travelling in the New England area of the US, where a flashing traffic light means "proceed with caution." Seems to work pretty well both day and night overseas, so why can't a night time system work here? Or at least let's discuss it. 

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Things That Make Me Go "Grrrr"

In no specific order:
  • I sometimes truly worry this (once) great country is becoming a nation of half-wits. For example it really grates with me when I hear the word "nuffink" instead of "nothing." If we can't express ourselves correctly, what hope is there? The word "init" is another I have a love/hate relationship with. Then again why do nearly all teens try to express their individuality by sounding like every other teen and use some sort of rap/gang speak? Learn to speak proper, just like what I does lol.
  • Yesterday I nearly ran a woman over in my car. I was turning right at a mini round-a-bout and was part way through the manoeuvre when without warning she stepped out from the kerb in front of me, totally oblivious to her surroundings. Now here's the best bit: she was pushing a pram with a baby inside. FFS! You won't hear me swear too often on this blog but you get my point. I sounded the horn, stopped to remonstrate with her and I know she heard me but she carried on as if nothing had occurred.
  • The European Union and the UK regulator OFCOM have ruled that mobile phone termination charges must be reduced. That is the fee companies charge each other (and ultimately pass on to end-users) for services such as international roaming (using your phone on another network, while travelling abroad). This is fine but these companies will seek to recoup the shortfall by other means, in order to maintain their profits. For example I've just been notified one service I use a lot will increase from 20p per minute (about 30c/min) to 92p per minute ($1.47/min). That helps me how?  
  • The kids in the rent-a-house behind me don't seem to understand the concept of "quiet." Every Saturday night their parents seem happy they are outside in the dark screaming the place down. These are teen and pre-teen children- shouldn't they be tucked up in bed? The clocks change this weekend, meaning our peaceful neighbourhood will be subject to disruption for longer. At least they are better than the Uni students who were there last year. It was definitely the party house then. Grrrr.
 Feel better now, I've got that off my chest

Sunday, 20 March 2011


I've invested the grand sum of £1.00 (about $1.60) on four seed Potatoes to try growing in a container. Just a bit of fun you understand and maybe I'll even end up with a crop that will supply a few meals..?

For the record these are Rocket variety, for sowing now (done) and with a little luck should be ready around May/June time. I think I might even get some other types for cropping later in the year. Mmmm...

Tomorrow marks the Spring Solstice, when the Sun leaves the Southern Hemisphere and re-enters the North. Not long 'til Summer!

Saturday, 19 March 2011


Apparently tonight's "Super Moon," where our nearest natural satellite is at it's closest to us for 19 years, will herald the end of the World. Or something like that lol. Thought I'd best post my own (poor) image quick before the whole of time and space goes up it's own you-know-what.

And should you wish to see some professional, in focus pictures take a look at the Daily Mail site.

While I'm about it, here's a picture of LL taken last weekend (yes, a bit late I know) when we went down to visit Dad and SM. If the World does go boom, this might be the last chance to see him lol.

It's serious business eating Ice Cream, dontchaknow.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011


Last week at our monthly West Forest Potters Guild meeting, guest Louisa Taylor demonstrated how to throw a pot using an angled bat. That is in effect puts the Potter's Wheel is at an angle of say 10 or 20 degrees, rather than being the usual horizontal.

Once the clay is centred on the bat, the idea is you can then throw a pot in the normal manner. The outcome of this is a) you learn not to rest your hands on the wheel head and b) the finished pot is beautifully thrown but leans at a pleasing angle.

Here's a couple of images of Louisa demonstrating the technique:

A wad of clay (seen on the left) is used to prop one side of the bat, while Louisa throws a cylinder.

Louisa proudly displays her leaning pot.

And here's my own humble attempt from last night:

My leaning open bowl.

I threw two pots last night which are now drying and hopefully next week I can work on the bases before sending for bisque firing. It's pretty hard work I can tell you: the surface of the bat moves up and down at a disconcerting speed, while the wheel is rotating.

As always, once they are completed I will post some images here and also on Webshots. These will likely be the last pots I work on for some time- the college term ends in a couple of weeks and due to lack of employment (therefore lack of funds) I'm taking a break. Fingers crossed I get to finish on high note.

Monday, 14 March 2011


Two blog posts in one day? Well I've just found some exciting (at least to me) news on The Telegraph website. So it must be true. Please, please, please be true!

The wonderful and lovely Kate Bush is releasing in May "Director's Cut," a new CD of reworked tracks from the late 1980's and early 90's. That's "The Sensual World" and "The Red Shoes" albums.

In addition, she is also said to be working on a new album of original work. Mmm :-)

For years I had this poster on my bedroom wall. It's nearly life size dontchaknow. Still got it somewhere...

Pot. Kettle. Black.

According to the head of a multi-national company, food in the UK is truly "terrible." The comment was made recently to university students in Chicago (and carried in The Chicago Maroon newspaper) by Bernardo Hees, new global head of Burger King.

I'm sorry I must have missed BK being awarded a Michelin star for the high standard of cuisine served in their "restauarants."

Oh and in case there was any doubt that Mr Hess didn't view the UK with any sort of affection, apparently British women are "unattractive." According to Mr Hees this is just as well otherwise the poor soul would not have been able to concentrate while studying here. Read all about it here.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011


Three unconnected items to mention today:

I've just uploaded a couple of images of my latest work: it's a stoneware bowl with earthenware glazes applied. Crimson Blood and Turquoise so you know.  

Earthenware glazes as a rule give a different range of colours so it can be fun to experiment, provided a basic principle is followed. Stoneware glaze needs to be fired at around 1260 degrees Celsius (about 2300 degrees Fahrenheit) and earthenware clay can only be fired to about 1080 degrees C (1976 degrees F) without it starting to break down. This means you can put earthenware glaze on a stoneware pot and fire at the lower temperature without any problems but you can't fire an earthenware pot with stoneware glaze at the higher level. 

Unfortunately the Crimson is a tad thin in places but overall I'm rather satisfied. Please take a look here and I've been asked to point out that the latest work is to found at the back of the folder.

I recently purchased (on a whim) a toasted sandwich maker. Kind of takes me back to my childhood: I absolutely loved toasted sandwiches during my formative years and I suspect I might have lived on the things if I'd been permitted LOL. Anyway this one cost the grand sum of £5.47 (about $8.75). How on Earth do we make it for that price, let alone no doubt ship it half way round the planet and still sell it for a profit?  

Exploitation of the Third World work force? Discuss.

08 March 2011 Ipswich 1 - 3 Reading

The Royals move to 8th in the league on 54 points.

I was somewhat shocked (and saddened) to hear the news yesterday that Reading defender Chris Armstrong has been forced to retire from professional football at the age of just 28 because he has Multiple Sclerosis. Apparently he was diagnosed in 2009 and has continued to be able to play for the first team until now but feels it is right to stand down.

This makes me feel very grateful for my relative good health.

Sunday, 6 March 2011


Thought I would share these pictures of illegal immigrants found smuggling themselves into the Reading area, hiding in the back of a truck.

Someone has too much time on their hands but I'm not admitting to anything LOL!

Also I've read Warner Bros have announced that next year there will be a Harry Potter themed tour over here at the film studios. Don't think it will be a patch on the Florida theme park. Still sounds like it might be fun.

05 March 2011 Reading 5 - 2 Middlesbrough

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Made In The UK?

One of the joys of Doctor Who spin-off Torchwood is that it is a distinctly British take on the world of Sci-Fi. In particular it has an unashamedly Welsh setting with very strong Welsh accents, putting it apart from the competition.

The new 10 episode series currently before the cameras is a co-production between the BBC and the Starz network. The majority of the writers are veterans of US network TV, with more than half the episodes being shot on location in America. Barely a week goes by without an announcement that more American Film and TV stars have been added to the cast.

None of this is bad and don't for one moment believe this is any sort of anti US rant. In fact it all sounds very impressive. My question is however, at what point does an exciting and distinctly British property become just another X-Files wannabe?

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

So Far...

Thought I'd post a sneak view of my current work in progress. It's now waiting bisque firing so fingers crossed I'll be glazing soon.