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Thursday, 08 June 2006
Oxted from the North Downs

Oxted from the North Downs

This is a view of the centre of the town, taken from The Ridge of the North Downs.  There seem to be more trees than Sheffield [Ed: Surely you are making the wrong comparison: what about Brummagem!!].

Bluemeanie’s French exchange partner arrived today for a two week visit. She’s from La Réunion, which is an Indian Ocean island (200 km South West of Mauritius) that is part of the European Union. La Réunion is currently experiencing an outbreak of the chikungunya virus, a non-fatal virus which has nevertheless caused over 200 deaths on the island in 2005-2006.  258,000 residents have been hit by the virus in the past year (out of a population of about 777,000). According to Wikipedia

Chikungunya means “that which bends” in the Makonde language of the Tanzania/ Mozambique border region where it was first identified. It can cause dehydration, extreme pain and high fevers and can be fatal in some cases. There is no known cure for the illness.

La Réunion is also home to an active volcano. Bluemeanie will be completing the return leg of the French exchange by visiting the island in October this year.

Posted by bigblue on 08/06/2006 at 10:03 PM
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Wednesday, 07 June 2006
St Mary’s Church

St Mary's church

After kipperfrog posted a comment last week about the vandalism at St Mary’s church, I thought I would go and have a look. (Unfortunately I lost kipperfrog’s comment with my accident yesterday).

As she reported, the churchyard gate has been removed. There is now a litter bin at the site of the gate, thoughtfully left for the use of the people who have been littering the site. I noticed that they are still carelessly putting out their cigarette ends on the ground. There is a notice on the church door advising that planning permission has been sought to build a wrought-iron gate at the entrance to the porch. Within the porch all has been cleaned up but the wooden benches are not in their previous good condition. A polite notice has been stuck on the wall:

To those who use this Church Porch

We welcome you if you come here to sit and rest,
if you come to chat with your friends and eat your food,
especially if you take the trouble to put your rubbish in the bin
and leave the place tidy for others.

But some come here intending to destroy the peace of this place.
We welcome you but not the damage you do, the rubbish you
leave, the graffiti you write.
Gates over 80 years old and seats 200 years old
have been damaged and broken.

People have come here for two thousand years
to find the peace of God,
and for over one thousand years a church has stood in this place.
Those who come here to meet God are saddened and upset
when they see their proud heritage so badly misused.
We will still be here long after you have gone.
We would like you to find that peace here, too.

Please respect the faith of those who come here to worship.
Come and speak to us: the times we are here
are on the notice board.
Above all, respect this place for what it stands for.

People are watching this place.
The police have of course been notified
about the graffiti and the damage that has been done.
Anyone who can help to identify those responsible
should contact the Rector of Oxted on 01883712955
or the Surrey Police on 08451252222 in confidence.

I have previously posted photos of this church:

  1. St Mary’s of Oxted
  2. St Mary’s by day
  3. St Mary’s by night, first attempt
  4. St Mary’s by night, second attempt
  5. Never mess with a wizard
Posted by bigblue on 07/06/2006 at 07:37 PM
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I was fiddling about with this blog yesterday and I seem to have corrupted something in the database. Certain comments that people had posted are now no longer there. My apologies to those concerned: it was nothing personal. I blame it on the symmetry in the date: shortly after 6am it was 06/06/06 06:06:06 (or something like that).

Update 10 June 2006: I seem to have successfully restored the missing comments. Phew!

Posted by bigblue on 07/06/2006 at 06:22 AM
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Tuesday, 06 June 2006
Caution: perforated decking

Caution sign: Perforated decking

Around the stones of Stonehedge there runs a rather large and long ditch, which predates the construction of stones itself. Archeologists have apparently determined this by scratching around in the ditch, uncovering deer antlers (horns), determining that these were used to dig the ditch, and carbon-dating the antlers. They also reckon that this ditch would have taken hundreds of years to dig, using said antlers. This is the bit that I find a bit perplexing, because how do they know how many people were digging simultaneously? (The usual school math puzzle goes along the lines of: “If it takes two people two days to dig a ditch of sixteen metres ... how long would it take three people ... etc”. The problem was that the audio guide never explained this point. So I wondered: Did the archeologists find numerous antlers of different ages (5000 BCE, 4900 BCE, 4800 BCE, ... etc)? If so, how did they distinguish between antlers used to dig the ditch and those used to carry out ongoing maintenance work (after flooding droughts for example)? Are they sure that they found all the antlers used to dig and maintain the ditch? Did they find other records which indicated how many people lived around the site over the period? Did they work out (like a school math puzzle) what length of ditch one person could dig in one day? If so how?

Once you start to question the statements of the audio guide you run into all kinds of problems. I almost ended up challenging a complete stranger, a loud tourist, who was telling his companions about Stonehenge but simply regurgitating facts from the audio guide. They all had audio guides, and the stranger was simply repeating what everyone had just heard from the guide. However I couldn’t challenge him, mainly because I didn’t have a pair of gloves to slap across his chest. Also I don’t have pistols, and we are in a knife amnesty

Perhaps all the questions raised by the audio guide are a ruse: like the unresolved plotlines of Lost drag the curious audience from episode to episode, so the unanswered questions of the World Heritage site drag the enquiring mind to the tourist shop, official guidebook, photo book, historic map, postcard and fridge magnet.

At one point the walking path the Stonehenge site crosses the aforementioned ditch. A wooden perforated walkway has been constructed over the ditch. This walkway functions as a cattle-grid for high heel shoes. (See warning sign above).

Posted by bigblue on 06/06/2006 at 11:47 PM
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Monday, 05 June 2006
Graffiti in Oxted


This photo is taken in the parking lot at the back of Morrisons Supermarket in Oxted, next to the Tandridge Leisure Centre. The official notice on the door says:

Danger: Hazardous Materials

There are two incidents of vandalism visible in this photograph:

  1. The graffiti sprayed on the door; and
  2. The dumping of paint down the waste water drain.

I wonder if the paint was poured down the drain by a user of the recycling facilities in the parking area, a council worker who was clearing away paint tins that had been dumped at the recycling facilities, or whether it was an employee of the Leisure Centre or Morrisons who was responsible.

A case then for PC Dan Hazel and Policy Community Support Officer, Glen Bates.

Posted by bigblue on 05/06/2006 at 11:27 PM
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Sunday, 04 June 2006


This is another photograph from Stonehenge, taken by Pinkie, from our trip there on 1 June.

The weather this entire weekend was glorious, and I managed to get the obligatory barbecue in this evening. I had forgotten that the shops close at 4pm on Sundays, so had to pop into Fanny’s Farm Shop, and ended up improvising (stuffed mushrooms and grilled potatoes).  While in Fanny’s one of the assistants asked the assembled customers for advice: should she write “chicken, bangers and burgers” or “chicken, sausages and burgers” on the blackboard outside? The general consensus seemed to be “sausages”, but she opted for “bangers”. I don’t know why she bothered to ask. When I left the shop I even noticed that she had forgotten the greengrocers’ apostrophe.

Posted by bigblue on 04/06/2006 at 08:45 PM
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Saturday, 03 June 2006
Giant Glass

wine glass

There was this giant wine glass at The Porterhouse in London yesterday evening. It’s a question of perspective, naturally. Bluemeanie and I went for drinks with visitors Mary and Tamsin, their sister Kirsten, and various friends and family.

I had forgotten how pleasant London can be at this time of year, at that time of day, and on that day of the week. We sort of hung around outside the premises, having sundowners until we were surrounded by the thronging masses. And then we continued into the night…

Posted by bigblue on 03/06/2006 at 09:41 AM
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Friday, 02 June 2006
Stonehenge from the air


This is what Stonehenge would look like from the air (if it were a little plastic model in a shop window (which it is at the on-site tourist/souvenir shop)).

The site is no longer at its original glory (if there ever was an original glory, as it was developed over thousands of years).  A few hundred years ago tourists could hire a hammer and chisel from the blacksmith in the local village in order to extract their own memento from the standing stones.

Posted by bigblue on 02/06/2006 at 01:20 PM
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