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Monday, 20 February 2006
The Post Office

The Postbox

This postbox is bizarrely labelled as a Post Office which would make it one of (if not the) smallest in Wales. It is outside the churchyard (of the smallest church in Wales) at Capel-y-Ffin near Hay-on-Wye.  I like dry stone walls, and lichen, and these features attracted me to the postbox.

The area around here is rumoured to be good for finding magic mushrooms.
Bonus links:
Wiki article on psychedelic muchrooms.
Magic mushrooms now a Class A drug in the UK, when prepared.
I do not advocate any kind of drug use or abuse.

Posted by bigblue on 20/02/2006 at 10:42 PM
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Sunday, 19 February 2006

St Mary at Capel-y-Ffin

This is the church of St Mary the Virgin at Capel-y-Ffin, near Hay-on-Wye in Wales.  The yew tree in the foreground is older than the church itself.

Wikipedia advises that this tree

is often found in churchyards; some of these trees are exceptionally large (over 3 m diameter) and likely to be over 3,000 years old, long predating the churches they are beside. It is likely that yew trees had a pre-Christian association with old pagan holy sites and many believe that the enormous sacred evergreen at the pagan Temple at Uppsala was a yew. The Christian church commonly found it expedient to take over these existing sacred sites for churches. It is sometimes suggested that these were planted as a symbol of long life or trees of death. Another explanation is that the yews were planted to discourage farmers and drovers from letting their animals wander into the burial grounds, with the poisonous foliage being the disincentive.

Yew is also associated with Wales because of the longbow, an early weapon of war, developed in Wales. Yew is the wood of choice for longbow making and they are constructed so the heartwood of yew is on the inside of the bow while the sapwood is on the outside. This takes advantage of the natural properties of yew wood since the heartwood is able to withstand compression while the sapwood is elastic and allows the bow to stretch. Both tend to return to their original straightness when the arrow is released.

St Mary’s at Capel-y-Ffin is actually a chapel and one of the smallest in the country, measuring only 8 metres by 4 metres inside. The church is open during daylight hours, however the nearby monastery (founded by a non-conformist minister who invented the Gill Sans typeface) is not open to the public.

I am now back from Wales, and my internet connection seems to be working again, so normal blogging and email service will be resumed shortly.

Posted by bigblue on 19/02/2006 at 11:38 PM
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The Stream


This is the stream that runs alongside Trericket Mill and which used to power the old mill.  The stream is a tributary of the Wye River, and joins the river at the red 3 on this map of the River Wye.  I found an interesting account of a 10 day Wye Valley Walk that stopped over here at this point on Day 4.

Minor Annoyance: As at today, of the three links on the River Wye Links Page, two do not work due to simple spelling errors.

Posted by bigblue on 19/02/2006 at 12:02 AM
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Thursday, 16 February 2006
Trericket Mill

Trericket Mill

I woke up this morning in Trericket Mill, in Erwood near Hay-on-Wye.  After a lazy awakening and a sumptious breakfast, we headed into Hay-on-Wye to browse the bookshops. Thereafter we took a ride up to the bluff above Hay where there was still residue of recent snow.

Posted by bigblue on 16/02/2006 at 11:48 PM
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Tuesday, 14 February 2006
Sometimes just fight and run away

winners do not quit

After my experiences with BT Yahoo complaints I can see the value of a bulldogged approach: hold tight when you get the chance and don’t let go. Only yesterday I found the first person at BT Yahoo who seems in any way concerned about the fact that I lost my broadband connection two weeks ago, and is prepared to try and fix the problem.  All my previous attempts to log incidents and complaints had been ignored.  For example this afternoon I received a response to my second written complaint, lodged five days ago:

Unfortunately we are unable to assist with the issues raised in your email. We have however passed your email to our Order Management Desk who will be in contact with you shortly to work towards a satisfactory resolution.  Should you wish to contact the desk please call 0800 169 8639.

I would again like to apologise for the problems you have experienced. I do hope this information will be of assistance to you.

Kind regards

And they have closed the complaint without even establishing that my problem is resolved: amazing!

On a more general level there is something that disturbs me about the above motivational sign, which I found in a local primary school foyer.  I would have thought it was common sense in the 21st Century that successful people need to develop critical thinking skills that allow them to determine which struggles are worth fighting and which one needs to walk away from.  We need to prioritise our energies and focus on realistically achievable goals and strategic objectives.  Further, if a project or activity is “doomed to failure” then the sooner one walks away, before overcommitting resources then the better. 

Moreover, perhaps the message is particularly inappropriate for young children who need to develop confidence to learn from mistakes, even serious ones, without feeling a sense of “failure”.  No?

Posted by bigblue on 14/02/2006 at 09:45 PM
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Monday, 13 February 2006
Unlucky 13

dead leaves

My broadband connection is still down, and has been down since 1 February. Last night I was on the phone with the technical help desk again, repeating the same tests that we did on 1 February.  It is almost two weeks since my broadband broke. It is now ten days since the supervisor at the technical help desk promised that my connection would be fixed within five days.  It is now six days since I lodged my first complaint, and four days since I lodged my second complaint.  I won’t even mention the occassions they have promised to phone me with a status update and haven’t.

The BT Yahoo complaints policy advises that they will reply to a complaint within 24 hours.  They hope to be able to resolve problems within five days and say that if they are unable to do so they will contact one with a status update.  I was interested that they even state that

In the rare event of our still not being able to help you, there’s an impartial Complaint Review Service available. This involves a review of all aspects of your complaint.

The funny thing is that in my first complaint six days ago I asked them to explain what this service involved.  However (as I mentioned) they have not replied, so I am none the wiser.

On the positive side I phoned them again today to complain that my problem had not been resolved and they have promised that they only need a few more days.  Strange thing is that nobody seems to know what has actually been done about the problem, nor even what the problem is. 

The woman I lodged a complaint with today took exception when I called her colleagues at the technical help desk dunces. That was my polite choice of description.

Posted by bigblue on 13/02/2006 at 10:32 PM
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Saturday, 11 February 2006

games room

These are some of the colourful (if somewhat faded) games, which I discovered in the games room of a local junior primary school.

Today I am going to see Nights at the Circus at the Hammersmith Lyric by the Kneehigh Theatre Company.  It looks good, so I am looking forward to it.

Posted by bigblue on 11/02/2006 at 10:24 AM
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Friday, 10 February 2006
Without grace

Grace Barrand Design Centre

This photograph is taken from the parking area at the Grace Barrand Design Centre in Nutfield, Surrey.

The current exhibition at the centre is called Select and comprises an eclectic mix of objects and materials.

Posted by bigblue on 10/02/2006 at 10:03 PM
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