Saturday, 30 June 2018

viola cover up until bee bombs surface

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When I obtained the bee bombs (which are to start some wild flowers attractive to bees), I originally planted them in these little tin pots, along with a solitary flower.

With green-fingered specialist dead-heading of the expired flowers, there's now a superabundance of bright violas in the pots, although I can also see early signs of the bee bomb plants beginning to fight through.

We shall see.

And if that progress is tentative, around the other side of the house the deliberately wild area seems to be coming along nicely.
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Friday, 29 June 2018

overnight spider web


We moved a plant from a windowsill to the kitchen counter top last night. By the morning an enterprising spider had worked out the best angle to fabricate a new web.

I lured the spider from hiding by flicking some water onto the web.

Caught in the act.

Thursday, 28 June 2018

a quick stop at the chip shop


Time to get another new windscreen for the car. This is the second replacement. The glass was hit by something small but high velocity a few days ago and made that horrible plink noise that told me there was some proper damage.

When I looked, there was a smallish half moon chip out of the central driver's zone, which made me suspect I'd need a whole replacement glass.

Again.

The last time this happened my car was off the road for about three weeks because the technicians didn't recalibrate all the wizardry of the sensors. There was an endless scrolling of dashboard error messages, bleeps and alarming red lights. The main dealer had to put it right whilst I drove around in a loan car.

This time they rightly said the car would need to go to somewhere that could do the ADAS calibration. Oh yes, that's the Advanced Driver Assist Systems calibrations.

My challenge was finding the special place they told me to visit for this refit. It wasn't at the main dealership and they certainly couldn't do it from home.

It turned out that the map address, Google and other guides all pointed to different places. The special phone number had been replaced as well.

Eventually I managed to get the mobile phone number of the technician who would do the work and he guided me in.

It was one of those industrial areas where there was every make of car showroom from Ferrari to Ford as well as Halfords, KwikFit, and onward to the units that replace gearboxes.

I eventually found the quite smart looking windscreen place. They estimated 90 minutes and I set off on foot to find a coffee shop. When I returned they had one of their mobile repair vans backstage as well as a bunch of other equipment to realign everything.

Sure enough, after around 90 minutes the new structurally significant windscreen was in place and all the sensors were behaving. And I can see through the windscreen in chip-free High Definition again.

Tuesday, 26 June 2018

a waive of tier haze


Next select the seats on the plane. Travelling business class you'd expect the seats to be selectable from the start? Not any more.

I've dropped from the once heady BA Gold such that nowadays even booking business class requires a surcharge for seat selection. So let's recap.

The descending tiers are Black (Premier), Gold Guest List, Gold, Silver, Bronze, Blue. Different cards and different coloured screens on the iPhone App.

However, does Blue/Bronze require just a few quid extra to pay for reserved seats?

Hardly.

Two outbound seats pre-selected more than 24 hours before the flight in each direction costs a total of how much?

Not £20. Not £50. Not £100.

No, it was £300 on top of the Business ticketing. It could have been even more if I'd gone for the £87 each way seats.

I realised how much I'd been protected with my Executive Club cards, but it still seems a lot to pay on top of premium tickets. Fortunately I still have some of those Avios points and was therefore able to waive the charge. I predict that Norwegian Airlines will take over as my airline of preference.

Sunday, 24 June 2018

preparing the travel cubes


Trial packing the suitcase ready for the next trip. I've decided to take the 'big' case instead of my usual smaller rollers.

My usual go-to roller has plenty of compartments and I've pretty much got a system for packing it, and indeed for my even smaller carry-on version. I use Travelpro Crew which has an industrial quality and lasts for years, including many, many flights.

My secret when I use the biggest case is to use packing cubes. It's a similar idea to packing a backpack with inner bags, but for suitcases.

Travelpro even sell them, although I use generic ones which are just as good. My original ones came in a set of 'car luggage' but to be truthful the size and weight of the pieces outweighed their effectiveness. Useful for a business shirt and tie but long ago ditched - even the original shirt folder.

I kept the idea, but replaced the original cubes with something altogether lighter.

And these latest varied sized cubes work well to ensure that everything gets packed and can easily be unloaded as individual blocks into the next hotel room without a muddle. I wouldn't bother with this for a single destination, but as I'll be back on the road these cubes along with a couple of Travelpro inserts create instant organisation.

Om.

Saturday, 23 June 2018

insecure wine and a yellow sticker


We could tell we were in a well-heeled part of town when the local supermarket's grab and go wine racks had significant double digit pricing.

Actually some of the free range bottles were up into the hundreds. The behind glass doors seemed to start at around £300.

Although, to be fair, some of the store's ice cream and cous-cous had regular supermarket pricing.

Last night's bottle of Voignier had an altogether different origin, as well as a security sticker applied from the possibly transport-related point of purchase.

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Really riled about the Rill?

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There's never a dull moment walking around the streets of London. Like some sort of Schroedinger experiment, it's both the same and different at the same time. This time I'm just across Tower Bridge, noticing the rate of change of the landmarks.

It wouldn't be so long ago that the most noticeable landmark in my vista above would have been the Tower of London. Then later it became the adjacent skyline, which includes the Gherkin.
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Even that has been supplanted by the range of newer buildings and construction sites.

Across the bridge, on foot a little further along the south bank, there's been the well-known cut into the pavement, known as the Rill.
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At least it was until a few days ago. I took some pictures when it was still there in May, although the water that used to run through it had already stopped, as had the water attraction at the river bank end.
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Since my picture above it has gone completely, bricked up with slightly uneven stones similar to the ones either side of it.

The reason that has been given is that it constituted a walking hazard, particularly to smartphone users. Regular users of the area are not amused.

Curiously, the Planning Application was only issued on 17 May 2018, and the work was completed even ahead of the approval.

Waved through, without making a splash, one might speculate.

I'm guessing that as a water feature on a busy public realm, it was probably expensive to maintain, so the private landowners of this part of the Thames bank decided to make it go away.
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Maybe that More London Riverside needs to be changed.

"Less"?

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

smashed avocados vs whipped broad bean hummus?


Sometimes its the small things that make a difference.

I know that most of hipsterville is still deciding the best ways to smash avocados and whether toasted sesame mochi ice cream tastes better after a helping of dango, andango and hamami on a stick.

But around here it's the simpler pleasures of whipped broad bean hummus with melba slice and marinated octopus with pickled red pepper and coriander.

To Go?


Monday, 18 June 2018

cats and the fiddle


With my travelling to-and-fro along the river Thames there's plenty of well-known landmarks to pass.

One of the more famous is the Palace of Westminster, although a couple of tourists sitting close to me almost didn't notice it because of the way that the clock tower housing Big Ben is scaffolded at the moment.

The river view makes it easy to see the pleasant revelry of the House of Commons. At around one o'clock there was a bustling set of MPs and visitors enjoying the sunshine and refreshments adjacent to the green side of the terrace. The red terrace of the Lords was less busy and I couldn't help wondering if it was still a trifle early for them?

This riverside view gives an altogether more carefree view than the squabbling that goes on inside the chamber where the latest Brexit pedantry is debated. The rest of Europe seems to have grown tired of Brexit now and the responses from the EU wranglers are increasingly staccato and uncompromising, whilst they worry about their own next big thing.

It seems to be the same now for many of the British public. The debate has moved ever closer to reductio-ad-absurdum tactics and boringly unchanged sound-bites. I can only assume that by the time Brexit finally occurs there will need to be a re-kindling of popular interest in some way.

The 0.7% of public spending used for EU matters may become partially repatriated, but it will still take at least 5 years to offset the termination payments. Not forgetting an ongoing payment to participate in what finally gets agreed.

Recent Maysian statements about NHS budget uplift are far more likely to be paid for by taxation than by some mystical refund from Europe. Although I suppose we'll hear another version by tomorrow, if everyone can tear themselves away from the bars.

Sunday, 17 June 2018

Battersea


Around Battersea and time for another update on the Power Station. It is still very much a work in progress, although there's a large chunk of the West Circus open for business now. Plus the Thames Clipper link, which can whisk us into the centre in a few minutes. It's about 2-3 stops to get to Westminster, although care should be taken to catch an R2 when returning, or to risk a turn-around at The Eye.

And theres a walkway at the Power Station end. From the top its possible to see into more of the site as well as along the river towards the new American Embassy.

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

hosed, or should it be hozed?


The back garden tap is now functional. The plumbers reckoned it was a defective check valve that was stopping the water flow. A few minutes later a replacement was fitted and then we had outside water.

I've celebrated by buying a replacement hosepipe.

It's one of those Superhozes. Unlike a normal hose, it weighs almost nothing and despite a sensible length it can fit into a small carry box. I know, it's not like industrial strength gardening, but for us, it's an ideal blend of new technology with practicality.

I didn't know it was possible to get so excited about a hose pipe, but then again, it is orange.

Sunday, 10 June 2018

black swans


Today's picture denotes my return home after some weeks of travelling.

A few days back at base then I'm off again on Friday morning.

The black swans appear to have come across the Exe from nearby Dawlish Warren.

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

Balmoral wanderings


A few days ago we were at Windsor Castle, but this time it's Balmoral, which is the Queen's Scottish residence on Royal Deeside.

I notice that the area is being labelled as Aberdeenshire nowadays as well, presumably with all of the Brexit and separation debate somewhere in the mix.

We'd simpler thoughts as we strolled around the gardens and popped into the ballroom for a quick look at some of the paintings and other artefacts.

There's a stack of those chocolate boxy Landseers of Royal pets and similar, which I just don't like.

More interesting to me is the collection of Royal Christmas cards, varying from staged portraiture to a few less formal. My favourite for its oddity is the 1969 one, shown below.

But best of all is to walk more than ten minutes in any direction away from the main castle. It's guaranteed to evoke the sounds of nature with easy walks to summon up the pretty scenery.
Balmoral, with Crathie church in the foreground

Monday, 4 June 2018

fishing for githubs


I doubt that Trumponomics is driving a US manufacturing business boom.

Right now it all seems to be more related to technology futures, banking and probably defence in its widest sense.

Even some of that is almost hard to believe given the latest Facebook news about another 60 companies having had access to that dubious Facebook client data.

Oops.

But right now I'm intrigued by the latest move of Microsoft who, after a week of rumours, bought the Github source code management system for around $7.5bn via a share swap. Some estimates put Github's market value at closer to $2bn, so the Microsoft markup (even with its recently increased share price) is pretty steep.

It must mean Microsoft have a great idea. Something more than melding their own Visual Studio developer works with the equivalent facilities available in Github. And the idea must heavily use the collaborative capabilities inherent in Github. World domination of application development? Nerdy but an interesting attempt to play catch up.

British readers are already seasoned to the Github's dubious name.

No, it doesn't stand for anything, instead it was originally an in-joke by Torvalds Linux, who liked the connotations of the improper English expression and named his own open source Linux code management after it.

Nowadays a huge proportion of the applications developer market use it for collaborative code and document management, irrespective of the target platform. But these folk are one removed from the consumer of the services.

So it's like we can see Microsoft going overtly technical again. An implication could be that they missed the boat with something? Remember Blackbird, when they missed the Internet/HTML by trying to impose their own Object Linking and Embedding?

So we are expected to wonder what this next new thing will be?

Expect a blend of a new technical evangelism about to spin up, alongside an ongoing pac-man swallowing by ever larger fish.

Sunday, 3 June 2018

Ballater duck race

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We were at the Ballater duck race this afternoon. It's a little chaotic, fathoming out how the odds on the individual ducks are calculated before they start their race along the River Dee.

My duck didn't win, and the victor is pictured above crossing the line.

Eagle eyed will notice that the ducks differ in size and that some are pushed and others towed by kayaks. It makes no difference. I'm pretty sure that the odds on any duck were the same as any other.
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Then, after the winner crossed the line, it was pipe and drummed back into the centre of Ballater. Unsupervised, the traffic was forced to wait as the crowds surged along the road behind the victorious yellow duck.

Coincidentally, tonight I see Ballater gets its own slot in BBC's Countryfile on the telly. It's because of the heavily Royal warranted status it has, just a few miles from the Queen's place along the road at Balmoral.

I even bought a snack from Sheridan's today. That's the firm with two royal warrants mentioned in today's TV show. And we'll be in Strachan's as soon as it's open again on Monday.
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