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Sunday, 13 August 2006
Outage in Oxted


No, this post is not about outage in the gay sense. At some time after 6pm this evening a thunderstorm struck the village of Oxted in Surrey. In St Mary’s Church in Oxted a teenage girl stepped forward in front of the assembled congregation and put her clarinet to her lips. At that moment a bolt of lightning struck a sub-station nearby and the church was plunged into darkness. There was some fumbling about, candles were produced and lit, and the girl continued with her performance.

I had quite a tiring weekend - I spent most of it helping Scarlett with her concert. It was a great success this evening and neither the thunderstorm nor the power outage put a damper on the proceedings. She raised over 300 pounds towards her trip.

Posted by bigblue on 13/08/2006 at 11:08 PM
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Saturday, 12 August 2006
Godstone Vineyards

Godstone Vineyard

I went to Godstone Vineyard today and took a walk to the top field.  I believe it is The Hop Field. The photo shows the view down over The Weald. It’s really quite pleasant there (and it rained!). There is the drone from the nearby M25 motorway to contend with, but there were other sights and sounds. 

I decided to adopt a vine at the vineyard.  We are told that this is:

A unique opportunity to adopt your own personal vine in Surrey’s most beautiful vineyard - watch it grow during the Spring and Summer months and actually apply the organic fertiliser to help it on its way! Bring your friends and family to see your vine; pick the grapes at harvest time (usually early October); see how it is pruned during the winter and finally ... drink the wine from your vine.

I think it is stretching it a bit to describe the vineyard as Surrey’s most beautiful but it is the closest to my home and they have a tearoom/restaurant/shop which is open daily throughout the year (except for Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Years Day). The woman who works there offered me a wine-tasting, but I declined. I’m not really a drinker, and would only do that as a social thing with a group of people. In the shop they also have some displays and information about grape farming in Britain.

I discovered that vineyards were introduced to Britain almost 2000 years ago, and in 1086 (shortly after the Norman conquest) there were nearly 50 vineyards in Southern England. There was a decline in winemaking in this country after Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries and later with mass importation of wine from France.  They have all kinds of charts and statistics showing that the climate is almost as favourable as some of the top wine producing regions in France and Germany. Apparently there are no English grape varieties, but the German ones are most commonly cultivated.  You can also buy Godstone cider from the shop. They don’t grow hops (any more) or produce a beer.

After taking the photograph I walked back down through the vines.

Posted by bigblue on 12/08/2006 at 09:47 PM
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Early this morning

Airplane takeoff Heathrow

Just as the sun was rising, I drove past Heathrow airport and saw this plane taking off. Apparently the airport obtained special permission to land and take off flights outside of normal hours in order to catch up the backlogs/meet the additional security requirements.

Posted by bigblue on 12/08/2006 at 12:31 AM
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Thursday, 10 August 2006
Security Alert

Bomb Threat

Lovely take on the current situation by Beau Bo D’Or.

If you don’t get it, click here and here.

Posted by bigblue on 10/08/2006 at 10:53 PM
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Chess Set

Yesterday was my first day back at work after my back/shoulder/neck/arm problem. I am shifting back from a nocturnal to a diurnal rhythem.

This is a photograph of the Chessboard by Eija Pirttilahti, diploma in crafts and design, feltmaker, and entrepreneur. The chessmen are animal figures constructed from 100% Finnsheep wool. I took the photograph at the Feltti exhibition at the Grace Barrand Design Centre.

A couple of months ago Kipperfrog referred us to the menthos experiment. Today I see that gapingvoid is linking to a demo of it being done with Stormhoek wine.  So the menthos is what does it.

Posted by bigblue on 10/08/2006 at 06:24 AM
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Ceasefire now!


My cousin sent me a link to the Ceasefire Campaign and as I think it’s a good cause I am linking to it here.

Right now a tragedy is unfolding in the Middle East. Hundreds of civilians have died in the bombings in Lebanon, Israel and Palestine and the death toll is rising every day. The situation is volatile and could escalate into a catastrophic regional conflict.

Despite the bloodshed, our leaders have been slow to act. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has called for an immediate ceasefire and the deployment of international troops to the Israel-Lebanon border. This is the best proposal yet to stop the violence, but the US, UK and Israeli governments are opposed, and—for it to succeed—global leaders need to get behind it immediately.

Now is the time to act. People around the world must tell their leaders to speak out and support Kofi Annan’s proposal. If we can persuade our governments to unite in demanding a ceasefire, all sides in this conflict will be pressured to stand down. Please sign this petition and ask your friends, family and colleagues to do the same.

The petition will be sent to key regional and global leaders and publicized in major newspapers in the Middle East, US and Europe. With enough signatures we can help pressure our leaders to stop the violence.

One can also donate to the Red Cross Middle East Campaign.

Posted by bigblue on 10/08/2006 at 12:01 AM
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Wednesday, 09 August 2006
Back to Bedlam

The Great Escape Bed Push

I stumbled across this merry crew of bed-pushers yesterday evening as they came into Bletchingley Village, Surrey.  Back to Bedlam is an album by the musician James Blunt. It is also the journey that they are undertaking, as explained in the pamphlet handed to me:

The Great Escape Bed Push – 7 to 10 August 2006

We are ‘on the run’ from oppressive psychiatry. We are pushing a psychiatric bed from Mill View Psychiatric Hospital in Brighton 60 miles to the original site of ‘Bedlam’, the Bethlem asylum in London. Like the mental health policies of the government, we are going back to Bedlam!

The Great Escape bed push aims to raise awareness about the poor levels of choice of treatments and the widespread use of force used in the psychiatric hospitals. The Great Escape Bed Push Team believe in its current state psychiatric care often makes peoples problems worse and that the use of unnecessary force is on the increase.

The bed push will end at Geraldine Harmsworth Park, London at 3pm on 10 August. The bed pushers will join a ‘Mad Hatter’s Tea Party’ (see Kiss A petition will also be presented to 10 Downing Street protesting about the unacceptable use of force in psychiatry (e.g. forced drugging, forced ECT, psychosurgery and brainwashing).

We would like more meaningful activities in hospitals, access to alternative therapies, more accountability about levels of force used in psychiatry and more alternatives to hospital admission provided (e.g. crisis houses). For more information call Rufus May: 07984 480 224 or Odi Oquasa: 07738 974 610.

I reckon they must have completed just over half of their 60 mile trek when I met them.

Posted by bigblue on 09/08/2006 at 08:19 PM
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Tuesday, 08 August 2006
Parking in Oxted

Parking in Oxted

There is a parking shortage in Oxted - for commuters (mainly on weekdays) and for shoppers (mainly on weekends). There are a couple of parking lots where whole-day parking is available, but all the bays in the town centre are restricted to 1 hour maximum, no return within 2 hours (in addition a couple outside the station are restricted to 20 minutes only). However these rules are never enforced, and at busy times people even park on yellow lines. Generally I prefer this situation to that in other places where an outside company has a contract to enforce parking, this becomes a revenue generator, and the contract rewards the outside company for imposing fines on the maximum number of people.

Still I noticed the above scene today, and think it’s a bit of a cheek.  For clarification: it shows the Oxted Florist parking their van outside their shop in the restricted parking zone. It was here for most of the morning and into the afternoon.

Posted by bigblue on 08/08/2006 at 09:12 PM
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