rashbre central: April 2011

Saturday 30 April 2011

any port would do

Well, we were on a boat when the wedding was about to happen, but actually pulled into port in time to get to a pub just as Kate was leaving the hotel to head for the church.

The flat screen telly was surrounded by well wishing spectators and apart from a passing spaniel and a single bemused looking tourist, the whole area was watching television.

So we had the 'aahs' for the dress and later the stifled laughter as the ring needed to be slightly screwed on. And next day the communal table was groaning from the weight of newspaper supplements.

Friday 29 April 2011

Royal Wedding bunting for Kate and Wills

Union Flags ready for the Wedding
There will be plenty like this along the route.

I am not sure why they have to call her Princess William instead of Princess Catherine. It's an ugly anachronism.

Thursday 28 April 2011


I'm pretty sure this is a crow.

It's not big enough to be a raven and you only get rooks in groups. "A rook alone is a crow, crows in a group are rooks", being the obvious reminder.

It's still hard to take a picture of one in flight though.

A bit like the Royals.

In London it's not that difficult to spot various members of the Royal family from time to time. I'll include William as an example, but like the flying crow it's still difficult to get a good picture. I suppose mine, like the bird picture, are simply opportunist and unpremeditated.

So here's one of William with some of his gang and Harry with Chelsy.
more royals
See, I managed to miss completely whoever was accompanying William.

And here's one of another occasion when they two boys were out with their dad. Interesting to note that everyone is watching them.
I guess more than a few eyes will be on at least one of them tomorrow.

Not mine though because we'll be on a boat*.

*UPDATE: I am told the boat has a television.

Tuesday 26 April 2011

television selection

Westminster Abbey
I drove to the office this morning, expecting the roads to be clear with everyone taking extra days by way of an extended break between Easter, the Royal Wedding and then Spring Bank Holiday.

But I was wrong about the traffic, with what looked to me to be above average amounts for most of the journey.

Those not at work can play the television game of trying to work out a way to link programmes together to get almost continuous coverage of the upcoming event. Riffling through tonight's television as a quick example, theres:

1800: 178 : London ITV News - including Wedding Coverage preparations
1830: 101 : BBC London News - with Wedding coverage
1900: 109 : Watch : William and Kate Plus 8 Royal
2000: 105 : C5 : William and Kate - The Story So Far
2100: 103 : ITV1: When William met Kate
2100: 116 : BBC4 : Royal Wedding
2220: 116 : BBC4 : The Great British Wedding
2300: 363 : Magic : Royal Wedding Fever - 3 days to go

I haven't checked all of the news channels and quiz shows, nor the plus one channels. And Dave (111) is still playing Top Gear repeats.

Monday 25 April 2011

Swarms of bibio marci (St Mark’s fly)

cycling through swarms of these
I was out cycling around a few of the lanes today and I couldn't help notice the swarms of 2 centimetre jet black dangly legged insects flying and hovering around everywhere. At first I somewhat bizarrely thought they were flying upside down, because the legs looked almost as big as their bodies.

As I adjusted my speed a few landed on me so I could look at them more closely. There seemed to be two types. A longer thinner one and a more 'fly-shaped' one about the size of a two-pence piece. Both distinctly bigger than any housefly but not something I recognised particularly in what amounted to Everglades-mosquito-like density in a far from swampy English setting.

Back at base I tried Google and after a few false starts in horse-fly territory (I'd have known that) I eventually stumbled onto the Bibio Marci. And the description went on to say that they are particularly prevalent on St Mark's Day, which is also the origin of their name.

I knew that it was St George's Day a couple of days ago, but had no idea when St Mark's day occurs...

Why, today, as it happens.

I suspect I've correctly identified this insect phenomenon.

Sunday 24 April 2011

Cycling the Royal Wedding Route

We'll be away whilst the Royal Wedding is taking place.

We're joining some friends on a boat which will mean we are in a minority by not being glued to the television on Friday.

To get a sense of the occasion, I took the bicycle around the Royal Wedding route today, which is already in advanced stages of preparation. In some areas around the Palace there's already flags flying, but further out its still flagpoles and some rather impressive looking bright yellow rope.

The Mall is closed to traffic (my bicycle was still alright), the area outside Buckingham Palace has been rigged with a huge number of commentary boxes and many of the television cameras are already in place.

There were random film crews with big camera and cat on a stick microphones wandering around looking for people to interview. All of them dangling many badges and identity.

Slightly funnier was the big press boxes at Westminster Abbey.

They face the main entrance but behind them was a gas-man scene where the road was being dug up and a slight whiff of gas, like there was an urgent need to mend a gas main more or less underneath the main stand. A sort of James Bond/Jason Bourne moment.

Today's weather was idyllic.

Let's hope Friday is as Landau fine.

Saturday 23 April 2011


Hot crossed bun.
And one seasonal picture. The cross originally marked the four quarters of the moon, before it got converted sometime in the 700s.

We'll probably be doing some more hot cross bun eating later. You know you are supposed to kiss them?

I expect we'll be looking for the Easter bunny too, although I always suspect its a hare really - another part of the seasonal makeover.

And next weekend we'll be heading to the Isle of Wight. "Wight" means supernatural being, so the Island of the Supernatural Beings seems to tie in with the island being the last part of the UK to be de-paganised.

chinese trapeze artists and french poets

my mother was a chinese trapeze artist
It's Easter and we're having a bit of a family day today. I expect the talk will include whether to run off to join a circus, and when we can expect the press to stop hounding one of us. The Parisienne poetry discussions can wait although it all reminds me of that Colin Meloy song and a lovely picture from the twostorysketchbook.

My mother was a Chinese trapeze artist in pre-war Paris smuggling bombs for the underground.

And she met my father at a fete in Aix-en-Provence. He was disguised as a Russian cadet in the employ of the Axis.

And there in the half-light of the provincial midnight to a lone concertina they drank in cantinas and toasted to Edith Piaf and the fall of the Reich.

My sister was born in a hovel in Burgundy and left for the cattle but later was found by a communist who'd deserted his ranks
to follow his dream to start up a punk rock band in South Carolina.

I get letters sometimes.

They bought a plantation she weeds the tobacco, he offends the nation and they write, "Don't be a stranger, y'hear."

"Sincerely, your sister."

So my parents had me to the disgust of the prostitutes on a bed in a brothel. Surprisingly raised with tender care 'til the money got tight and they bet me away to a blind brigadier in a game of high stakes canasta.

But he made me a sailor on his brigadier ship fleet. I know every yardarm from main mast to jib sheet. But sometimes I long to be landlocked and to work in a bakery.

Friday 22 April 2011

Kate and Wills Wedding Rehearsal - That Dress

Royal Wedding Preview
I thought I'd better preview the upcoming wedding, to help people decide whether to spend a day watching it on television.

Fortunately I managed to get invited to the rehearsal, which included a lubricating Champagne Laurent-Perrier, which had the Prince of Wales crest on it rather than the Queen's.

Anyway, here's the entrance of the bride and groom along with the rather unexpected choice of music, which was 'House of Love'.

Of course, if you watched the T-Mobile phonecam coverage then you'll be intrigued by the backstory which is amply covered by that periodical of integrity, the OK magazine.

As anyone can see, the royal family seemed to be enjoying the event. Roll on the big day.
Royal Wedding Preview

Thursday 21 April 2011

Thursday Thirteen (50) : SPN (2) - four legged

4 legged
I suppose this will be an occasional series, something like my one-time skirmishes into Wordless Wednesdays and Thursday Thirteens, both of which have long dropped by the wayside.

1) The Street Photography Now project started some time ago and I did originally join, but what with various other pressures I didn't seem able to keep up with the weekly instructions. I've decided to have a go, but at my own speed but rather than pick up the pace now from instruction 30, I thought I'd wind back to the start. I'll keep it as a background project.

2) The last time I did a Thursday Thirteen was probably two years ago, but I do still get hits on them from those still running a weekly list of thirteen items. I must admit I don't actively hunt for them but I suppose there's plenty of new distractions since the early days of blogging.

3) Wordless Wednesday is another similar example, where people would take photos, usually based around a theme and then comment on one anothers'. I still put an occasional picture up as a Wordless Wednesday but don't usually add all of the meta tags which means it won't get found in the way of my early experiments.

4) The changes to the social media platforms also change the time available for a single source such as a blog. I do still regard rashbre central as the core but with twitter, instagrams and all of the various noisy environments like myspace, facebook and so on it becomes a decision about how much to participate and where. I unhooked most of my automated feeds between blog, friendfeed, twitter and so on, because the echo of a post would ripple for two or three days.

5) The additional technologies for writing posts also have differing strengths. I actually consider the iPad to be more of a consuming device rather than one for creation. It's certainly fine for a few minutes of typing, but there are still limits in the editing compared with using a macbook or similar for authoring. When I've used it for writing, I tend to stick to a very basic format and then offload it to another Mac for clean-up.

6) Listlessly, I've remembered another phenomena with Thursday Thirteens. From many people they often turned into simple lists - like the top 13 pop tunes or similar. This was easy to author, but often had a cut and paste feel about it.

7) The next instruction from SPN in my case (Number 3) is "take a bus, do the weekly shopping, pop into a public loo" - I think some care might be required with at least part of that instruction.

8) Of course, part of my own blogging principle was to try to write a post every day, but to limit the time to post to about ten minutes. Somehow thats got me to about 2,580 posts and counting, although I realise that there are gaps where the tumble weed rolls across the page.

9) During this time, the underpinning technology of the blog has had to deal with changes like the comment system shifting twice and a couple of the widgets I used for blogrolling friends and similar have gone belly-up. I keep meaning to further simplify the blog but again don't really have the time to ensure it would still work properly. I regards it as more about content than fiddling with html and javascript.

10) Naturally I've seen other blogs come and go over the period of this one. The 140 character tweet is a significant factor in reduction, but I also remind myself of several sturdy blogs that predate mine and are still producing good content. I'll avoid the name check on this entry, which is now exceeding my ten minute rule.

11) With Easter approaching I'm still not sure which of the shop-made hot crossed buns taste best. I do like them to have some candied peel included and not to be just a current bun with a cross applied. Strangely enough, I generally find the plainer and less experimental ones are the best.

12) I realise I'm drifting away from the original focus of this post on Street Photography Now, as I started to include a full Thursday Thirteen. Another of my original blogging ideas was to try to mix two ideas together in posts.

13) So I'm not sure that this is a good Thursday Thirteen, nor a good Street Photography Now, but if I don't add any meta-tags, then no-one will be any the wiser.

Wednesday 20 April 2011

street blur sounds but no smell

Clichéd scene it may be, but the blur seems appropriate over the last few days.

My blurs are different sources too; business work and the muzziness of a cold have aggregated along with that need to keep going and not give away too much of my generally sluggish feeling.

I can tell I'm recovering now and my senses are returning to a more normal balance. It makes my late attempt to do something from the street photo instructions seem out of kilter. I can more or less hear the scene above, but until my cold subsides I'm not sure how well I could smell it.

Tuesday 19 April 2011


olympic park
I decided I'd plunk a few bets into the Olympic lottery to see whether it was practical to get any tix.

Like many, I thought about the odds based upon the many venues and different sports combinations. My fall back would be something like the cycling, which it's possible to see free from the roadside across a decent swathe of London.

The more interesting option is around things in the main complex. The "I was there" factor.

Fortunately, diamond geezer had already worked through the options in a similar way to that which I'd do. Along the lines of 'it has to be at the main venues but its worth bidding for something less popular'.

I decided to do a mix of popular and less popular main venue events as well as a stab at the opening and closing ceremonies.

Time will tell.

Monday 18 April 2011

this was not part of the plan

I've been operating for the last couple of days on a 'low' setting.

An ickle bug has somehow jumped onto me creating various unpleasant symptoms.

I know it will be really bad if I start to find the cherry flavoured sucky sweets pleasant; they are something that really only taste to me of medicine.

Wednesday 13 April 2011


A small amount of time hanging around in cafes before back into the usual mayhem of meetings and schedules.

Tuesday 12 April 2011

la différence

Usually when I'm travelling for business there is little time to see the places that I visit. That's unless I'm there for a while on some kind of assignment, when I do manage to get out. So despite being in Paris three times in the last few weeks, this is the first time that I've really had a chance to amble around, take in some sights and sit in cafes.

Yes, I've been in Paris on my own time rather than for work, and that makes quite a difference to the perspective.

I do know my way around pretty well and have stayed in plenty of different spots in the past, so there is a familiarity to the geography and the way things connect together. I'll admit that I mentally transpose London's format onto Paris when I think about some of the areas, with Gare du Nord as Liverpool Street, the Champs Elysee as Oxford Street and the Eiffel Tower as the part around Waterloo. The Rive Gauche is the bit by Southwark. Its a weird way to think of the areas, but it works for me and its the only city where I have that kind of arcane geography, useful for calculating walking distances.

Of course, the actual areas I've just described are uniquely Parisienne, and everything from the weather to the police look very different.

But that's another story.
testing the new french police uniforms


still in Paris

Saturday 9 April 2011


I am in Paris tonight but i only just realised I've been in a different place every night this week.

Tuesday 5 April 2011


It may be two forty in the morning, but I've just finished work until my 0700 call.

Monday 4 April 2011


Maybe a quiet blog week as I'll be spending most of it in planes, hotels, offices, cars and taxis.

Sunday 3 April 2011

beats per minute

An early morning bicycle spin today, which was more or less a test that the various parts of the bike in question were functional.

I've been out a few times over the last few weeks but on a different bike with extra lights and other paraphernalia associated with the wintery months.

My last trip on the bike with the thin tyres was the day I slithered rather ungracefully to the icy ground and even now I have the last remnants of the scrapes to my knee.

It started today with me squeezing the tyres and noticing the front one was too squidgy. A few moments with the footpump fixed that and the back tyre seemed okay. I clipped on the little speedo/monitor gadget and remembered to press start.

Pleasant early morning, birds chirping, little traffic and then after about 20 minutes a beeping sound.

The speedo unit was beeping at me. By this stage I'd gone up and down a few hilly bits and was starting to feel the exertion. Except the unit was saying my heart rate was about 35 bpm. That's low. It said it was too low. It certainly didn't feel like 35. More like at least 135.

I decided it was better to switch the unit off and read the instructions again.
hrm weirdness

Saturday 2 April 2011

cat's eyes

cat's eyes
I've been listening to the Cat's Eyes album, which is by Faris Badwan, frontman of the Horrors, and Rachel Zeffira the opera singer.

But this isn't a faux classical trip, just a classic.

The first time I heard it as an album was in reverse, courtesy of that iTunes thing where a CD's tracks get reversed in 'recently loaded' or whatever its called.

And the first striking thing I noticed was the space on the sound. Really wide - a kind of old school analogue stage with the music rolling gently away. I continued with the reverse listening and decided that this was one chilled album.

Most of the songs are only two or three minutes long, but the effect is a very solid work of instantly re-listeneable music. There's all kinds of little sonics included, a touch of early Pink Floyd synth and Cor Anglais on a track called 'Bandit' plus sweeping violas and vibraphones dotted here and there. Laura Palmer would have played it at Twin Peaks.

There's channeling of 60's style pop, and some tricks played with the vocals without resorting to the annoying comedic ueber-autotuning on most of pop radio output at the moment.

Spacey trippy, pass the jasmine joss.

Friday 1 April 2011

insidious robots among hipsters

time to go home
I was asked a couple of questions about twitter the other day. In responding I was reminded of a few of the daft things I did when I started using twitter.

I've never paid much attention to the number of followers etc, being more interested in deciding which people or organisations to follow to get information about things I'm interested in. When I started, the whole of twitter was relatively empty compared with nowadays, and it did take a time for some of it to click into place.

My @rashbre is therefore a chronological mix of some friends, some well known people and an eclectic mix of other 'follows' dependent upon whichever fad I'm interested in at a particular time. So there's high-tech, photography, bicycling, music, writing and a bunch of other topics that I track.

The thing is, my @rashbre account has far less followers than another one of mine called @frederickblogs (fred blogs) which I set up as a joke and which has only ever posted six or seven entries.

Then there's the little set of characters I created as part of the launch for 'The Triangle'. @trianglebigsy, @triangleclare, @trianglejake and @chuckmanners. They all get more followers than me, although they all have scripted tweets that blurt out at random intervals. Here's an example from @chuckmanners:

...I am also being folllowed - The sweater has a Danish pattern.
...gaffer tape on a bike saddle is a great way to hide things
...heading for the tube. easier to hide.
...hiding out in this cafe whilst the people who looked as if they were following me walk on by. Call me paranoid??
...theres some smoke coming up from that grill. looks suspicious.
...i think i am being followed along this street.
...this lock up garage looks like something an arms dealer would use.
...That guy across the street has different earphones in each ear. I think he's carrying a wire.
...Just found another Phone sim card in this rental car. That's the third one. Something suspicious about this.

Of course, the messages from Chuck are supposed to be a little bit paranoid, whereas the ones from Jake are more 'whimsical hipster bohemian'. I set them up ages ago and its surprising how when they turn up and interact with one another it creates a sort of vague backstory, which was the idea after all. I see @sarahlund is doing something similar.

And then my somewhat pointless @bubbleoOo which sends streams of bubbles into the twittersphere at random intervals. Simply things like ...oooOOO OO.O o .

Yes, it also has more followers than @rashbre.

And don't get me started on @mrtictac.

right royal edition

BMW April Fools 2011 Royal Edition Marque
There's always a few safe bets for car innovations at the start of April.

Alongside the new Land Rover self-levelling tax disk holder (very useful on a 4x4), there's also the new BMW M3 2011 Royal Wedding Edition, in an exclusive Bridal White, with a special version of the logo.

I downloaded the advertisement using gestures with that new Google Motion software, which interacts via the camera on my iPhone.

It's a lot easier since the AA smoothed the roads around here with their AA Pothole Assist