rashbre central: January 2006

Tuesday 31 January 2006


Picture 1
After two weeks of driving around with a broken car heater, today was garage day.

I've been relying on no frost each day and so far been lucky, although yesterday was a close call.

At ten o'clock the service man called to say they may not be able to fix it, because they probably needed a special part. Tonight I got the car back, switched it on and yippee it was warm. Now I can leave the chattering teeth classes.

Monday 30 January 2006

moonage daydream

Terry, Steve and John had decided to find a bar. Normally, I would join them - we each know too much about each other - but on this occasion I couldn't. Colin became their fourth accomplice and I headed elsewhere. Didn't think more of it until around 1:30am, when I had a bizarre momentary flash of Terry reading tarot.

Next day, I run into Steve and Terry and mention the moment. Turns out they'd met a woman with cards and Steve had paid her ten euros for a reading. They were going to read Colin, but he didn't want to. So they picked John. The woman was drunk and was mainly making up anything. Terry knew something about it and explained a key card selected and its description.

They told me the story, but not the card. Later I speculated and checked with Terry in an email : eight of cups. It was.


1) How did I get the flash that this was happening?
2) Who was the drunk woman actually reading? the person who paid or the person selected?
3) How did I get the card right without knowing it, or anything about Tarot? There's lots of cards in a full deck?
4) Turns out another key card was 'the moon', so what does it all mean?
5) Harmless entertainment, or what?

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Sunday 29 January 2006

Happy 4703

One point three billion people in China and their relatives throughout the world have been celebrating Chinese New Year this weekend. Its the Year of the Dog and 4703 in the Chinese calendar. The starting day varies because it requires a New Moon and ends with the full moon and Lantern festival 15 days later.
Luckily this house is clean because the Chinese would put away all brooms, brushes, dusters and so forth so they don't accidentally clean away good luck. The firecrackers send out the old year and welcome the New and doors and windows are opened to ensure the old year goes and the new one can get in.

It is the Chinese custom to think in the positive and therefore set a positive agenda for the new year.
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Saturday 28 January 2006

momentarily at rest

The first day since before Christmas without complex agenda. So nice to chill and catch up on a few things, including an extensive read of other peoples' blogs.

A special 'cheers' to the guitarGAS folk, who seem to be talking my language as I grapple with chords and other guitar esoteria. The Cheats and Tips section is just right!

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planetary waves

So, if you have already joined the Federation, now is the time to join Planet Rashbre. Go on, you know you want to!

Thursday 26 January 2006

I had this perfect dream

06:45 Alarm Call - TV boots up playing Fleetwood Mac - getting louder until I switch it - and the one in the next door room - OFF. Get ready for day and throw last few items into wheely bag. Down to the Rej Juan Carlos checkout and met by driver to take me to airport. No coffee to this point. Get tagged, clear security and find a small bar past the busy one. Small coffee, sit and think of the mysterious red lady from the Ramblas, like a piece of Salvador Dali artwork, or was it a dream?

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Wednesday 25 January 2006

almond bread

We spent some time today talking about divine forms derived from the chaos of fractals and it made me think of this stairwell in the Gaudi house. I leaned over the edge of the roped off part to get this picture, which has a sort of cosmic quality, don't you think?
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Tuesday 24 January 2006

barcelona builders

Even the builders in Barcelona look cool. I started Tuesday at 06:45 and it really zinged through again into the wee small hours, but at around 02:30 I made my escape in order to be able to enjoy the next day. This turned out to be good judgement, based upon the looks on the faces of those who decided to keep going until 07:30 Wednesday morning.
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Monday 23 January 2006

gaudi flamenco

An busy day for me today, but excellent that we could round it off with a party, which was at Gaudi's house in central Barcelona. Here's a photo from my phone, which gives a small idea of the flamenco dancing and below is a picture of the outside of the magical building in the later part of the evening.
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Sunday 22 January 2006

shaken, not stirred

And a late evening, during which Tim appeared at around 03:00 to pose in this atmospheric picture. By this time we were getting the hang of Barcelona hours.
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white wine

Maureen illustrates how to produce fine thoughts in a connected world.
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Catalan brewery

An pause at the Cerveseria de Catalunya, which was bursting with people. Later, we drifted a few hundred meters further along the Ramblas Catalunya and found the Lombardo restaurant, which is right on one of the busiest midtown sections of the Rambla. As we arrived, a happy, if somewhat merry diner staggered out saying to us that the place was fine. Inside was relatively quiet and it gave us a chance to plan our activities over the next few days. There were plenty of specials on the menu and the staff were welcoming. Of course the 'Crème Catalaan' was an obligatory pudding!
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Saturday 21 January 2006

ramblas on

Look carefully and you can see the person in the centre of this installation artwork along Las Ramblas in Barcelona. Las Ramblas is a long pedestrian area through the very heart of the city centre and sloping gently to the port. Here there are all sorts of stalls, restaurants, bars and street performers along with the many thousands of people that promenade up and down. To either side are interesting side roads, squares and markets. The best place to start a walk around the city!

We found a small tapas bar along the way, asked the waitress to help us choose well and then spent a couple of hours eating, drinking Sangria, chatting and people watching. Then we finished the descent to the port, collected a few necessities related to the next few days and made our way back to base camp at a rather fine hotel on the Diagonale.
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Friday 20 January 2006


Next stop Barcelona, Spain. The capital of Catalonia, steeped in Mediterranean culture, and dating back to a Roman colony in the second century B.C. Barcelona is really a collection of multi-faceted and diverse cities and whilst having a modern zone there is also a historic Gothic center almost intact.

Some of the most striking architecture is that of Antoni Gaudi's, whose work is admired as being one of the most unique and distinctive styles. The influence by forms of nature is reflected by curved construction stones, twisted iron sculptures, and organic-like forms as well as disttinctive coloured mosaics.

As I have a lot to do, my time to look around will probably be very limited, but I shall attempt to visit Ramblas and Gaudi's house.
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Thursday 19 January 2006

thursday Thirteen (V9.0)

13 new year things (V9.0) about rashbre

1. Sunday, Monday and Tuesday were all very late evenings for me to the point of stopping me from blogging;
2. I've just created an mp3 collection with Rule Brittannia, Nessun Dorma, an Abba tune and the dutch song referenced below, which I am handing to someone tomorrow;
3. Tonight I ate a chile con carne with some moroccan spiced rice. Slightly hybrid.
4. I have a long list of people I need to call back by phone;
5. The heater on my car has stopped working; The car is booked in for a service now, but not until late January. I hope we don't have frost;
6. Saturday I will meet John and Nino before we travel to Barcelona;
7. I've read the small print about the new MacBook Pro. Some of the big applications like Final Cut Pro need to be revamped and and only appear in late March.
8. I discovered a Christmas cake shaped like a snowman, which has been overlooked.
9. Cereal of the week is Cinnamon Golden Grahams, beacsue they remond me of America;
10. I have seen a few minutes of the new series of Big Brother and am not addicted;
11. I've reduced my paper mountain to a few sheets, but they all need action;
12. I started this 13 on Thursday but it is only moments from Friday;
13. My cup of tea is cold.

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!

1. Leanne's Thirteen!
2. Ivory Frog's Thirteen!
3. Running 2k's Thirteen!
4. Uisce's Thirteen
5. Chickadee's Thirteen!
6. Judy's Thirteen!
7. Raehan's Thirteen!

X. (leave your link in comments, I'll add you here!)

Get Leanne's Thursday Thirteen code here!


The purpose is to know everyone who participates a little better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! Why not do this too? Leave me a link as a comment and I will update my entry to include a link to yours, and you can continue the chain!


Geef Mij Maar Amsterdam

Today I had to ask Herman to give me the name of a typical Dutch song which would evoke folky images of windmills and clogs. Herman sought advice from Valerie and they came up with "Geef Mij Maar Amsterdam" by Johnny Jordaan. Now I've never heard of him or of the song and don't have a clue what the words mean, but it definitely sounds like a Dutch sing-song of the type one might see on a sunday evening TV special or being sung in a beer tent.

However, I've just downloaded the (dutch) lyrics and it seems to be making some sort of comparison of Amsterdam wih Paris. I hope its not overzealously nationalistic!

Wednesday 18 January 2006


The last few days have seen me maxed out and well and truly 'nose to the grindstone' and I've not really had time for anything so luxurious as a chance to update rashbre central. I've been involved in preparations for something which has consumed vast amounts of time.

So Sunday, Monday and Tuesday have seen me taking an almost obsessional interest in getting everything ready, so that I can resume normality for the next few days.

If going to bed after 1 am can be called normal.

Saturday 14 January 2006

Lancaster Telecaster

A 520 mile round trip to Lancaster today, starting early this morning with only minor traffic holdups. We listened to the iPod on shuffle and only skipped about four or five tracks. Then the unveiling of John's new Aerodyne Telecaster, which is shiny black and looks great. Telecaster but with a slightly revamped look and some different electronics.
It sounds terrific with a ringing sustain and an amazing tonal range. We plugged amp, mixer and Pod together and tried out a few effects. Fantastic.

Thursday 12 January 2006


Drove to Park Lane and met David (surprisingly) in the stairway to Trader Vic's, whilst we were trying to locate the others.
Then we found Dave and joined the others in Zeta, where we had some colourful drinks. David was over from New York and has just started a new job, so this was a good chance to get an update.
Later we called Mirabelle and managed to get a table, so we moved on to Curzon Street, which has Marco Pierre White's cuisine presented in Art Deco surroundings.

The bar leads to a sleek dining room where we had a discreet corner table, interesting food and enjoyable wine. I experienced the (somewhat monstrous) blinis and Gareth volunteered to try their famous pig’s trotter with morels, pomme purée and sauce Périgueux.

We kept going until around midnight, saw David back to his hotel and then began the long hike home.

Thursday Thirteen (V8.0)

13 new year things (V8.0) about rashbre

1. Now that the new year is really up and running I'm suddenly very busy;
2 Saturday I must make a round trip to Lancaster;
3. I have a 30cm pile of domestic paperwork to sift through. Hopefully most of it can be binned;
4. The answerphone is completely full and needs to be emptied. Messages are switching to 1571 now;
5. I've been sent several video inserts to review before I visit Barcelona;
6. I've emptied all of the throat lozenges and similar from my laptop case, since my bug 2-3 weeks ago;
7. I think the heater in my car has stopped working although all the lights come on;
8. My car is only 2000 miles from its next service; maybe I can hold out until then and get everything done together;
9. Last time I wrote this list 'the pool was shimmering'. Tonight I'm at home looking out on a cold night;
10. I watched Lost for the second time ever thinking it was the last ever episode but it was only the end of a series and they are all looking down a shaft;
11. Radio Four said that 23 January is the lowest morale day of the year for Brits. Something to do with lengths of nights, time since New Year Resolutions and time since last pay cheque;
12. I am conscious that most people write long Thursday Thirteens and mine are all relatively short;
13. I will want to see John's new Aerodyne Telecaster on Saturday.

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!

1. Leanne's Thirteen!
2. Ivory Frog's Thirteen!
3. Running 2k's Thirteen!
4. Uisce's Thirteen
5. Chickadee's Thirteen!
6. Judy's Thirteen!
7. Raehan's Thirteen!

X. (leave your link in comments, I'll add you here!)

Get Leanne's Thursday Thirteen code here!


The purpose is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! Why not do this too? Then leave me a link as a comment or trackback and I will update my entry a link to yours, and you can continue the chain!


Wednesday 11 January 2006


Spent today with a visitor from Germany and then an evening with a friend in a nearby pub, for a quiet drink. Someone I know well, but who had some big news from their life.

Tuesday 10 January 2006


Co-incidentally, I posted a picture of my Powerbook a couple of days ago. Today's brief visit to Apple shows their shiny MacBook Pro with new chippery and claimed to be 4 times as fast.
Now, I have a PC laptop for work and use my Mac for fun stuff like blogging, photography, video editing and music. I am always amazed how the Mac 'just works' and can outrun my other PC super-dooper hyperthreaded Pentium squigabyte special hardware assisted tower system.

So this new Mac environment is very interesting but I don't want to compromise the incredible reliability and effortless performance I get from my current Mac. Time to study the reviews.

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Monday 9 January 2006

Bustling Brussels

An 04:30 start to catch an early flight to Brussels. It doesn't matter how early I leave the UK, the earliest I ever get to anywhere seems to be about 10:00 - what with the time zone change for mainland Europe.
A busy day and then adjourning to a central hotel close to the Belgian Stock Exchange before an evening stroll for eight of us to a nearby trendy and bustling bar and restaurant.

Sunday 8 January 2006

fondue time

Fondue Savoyarde
The house is back to a "card and decoration free" state and the piles of suitcases have been filed away. A routine trip to the supermarket today and then a fresh pack (hand luggage) for my brief trip to Brussels, Belgium early tomorrow.

Tonight we are enjoying a fondue with some German wine and a reasonably chilled evening before full normal service resumes tomorrow.

I even found some time to pluck a few strings on the guitar this afternoon.

Saturday 7 January 2006

blogging resumes

Having taken a couple of weeks away from the blog, it flicked throught my mind about whether I'd restart and if I did, whether I'd fill the gap period with what happened.

When I started this, I decided that a year would be a minimum period, so here I go again. And I've backfilled a few posts from my recent trip to the USA- they can only cover random points and don't have a lot of clever hyperlinks. Next week I'm in Brussels, so it keeps a travel theme for a few more days.

Picture 1
Meantime, its house recovery time as well as time to vote for the bloggies!

Friday 6 January 2006

twelfth night

Outdoor lights down. Tree, lights and decorations removed. Decorations packed in boxes, ready to lose before next year. Hmm, and what about resolutions?

Thursday 5 January 2006

jam tomorrow

Back to play with the M25 today. At the moment the roads seem reasonable. I guess next week will see everyone else return.

Wednesday 4 January 2006


Modest jet-lag, having grabbed some sleep on the flight. A mystery dream included key-lime pie. Only serious psycho-analysts need apply.

Tuesday 3 January 2006


Woke up this morning and the vacation was gone.

Well, time to pack the bags, squish everything into the car and head back to the airport- though not until mid afternoon. Time for a few last shopping and tourist moments and then a final great tick in the box with a lunch time visit to House of Blues.

Out afterwards, back into mid twenties sunshine and clear skies as we strolled back to the car and then hit the road back to Orlando international.

Monday 2 January 2006


Had to do Mission to Space, which is a great simulator and probably my favourite out of world experience ride in Disney.
Strapped into a spaceship, accelerating to 6000mph and flying to Mars via a slingshot acceleration off of the moon.

Great fun and real G forces.

Its the only ride I can recollect where they provide sick bags and you sometimes see little rows of green faced people on the way out.

Sunday 1 January 2006

Happy New Year

We decided to take it easy today, post New Year, but with a pre-arranged dinner at Citrico's in the Grand Floridian, in the evening.
So this was a day for the pool and some time browsing a surprisingly busy shopping mall.
Citrico's has some great dishes, well presented!