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Monday, 04 September 2006


I love the French expression pousser comme des champignons. The ones above seem to have popped up almost overnight in Oxted (as they do). They also look very tasty. I have never harvested and eaten wild mushrooms, but if I were to do so I would seek expert horticultural advice, possibly from a book. What really put me off those mushrooms was the knowledge that they were on a well-trodden dog-walking path.

Nature can kill.  The death of Steve Irwin, crocodile hunter, seems to have been the top news of the day. It topped the BBC’s most read story of the day, and of course was big news back home. Not all television channels took the same slant on the story.

Posted by bigblue on 04/09/2006 at 10:27 PM
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Sunday, 03 September 2006
Hello Tom

baby Tom

This is Tom, aged 4 months, whom I met on Saturday: a bright-eyed, curious and cheerful chappie. His mother has been cutting my hair for several years now, but there was a hiatus when she took maternity leave following Tom’s arrival. Happily she is back at work, and my hair has once more been returned to an orderly state. On the way back from Tom’s house I stopped off to have a look at the water butts which are back in stock again. I didn’t buy one but left with the measurements of the connecting pipe (in order to measure my drain pipes, to establish it will connect). I would like to get one or two fitted well before the next drought.

Today I had a brief chat with kipperfrog’s mum, who reminded me of the comments I left on kipperfrog’s blog last week.  It was a joke: honest!

Scarlett has started posting photos from her recent trip to Brazil over on Flickr.

Posted by bigblue on 03/09/2006 at 09:53 PM
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Saturday, 02 September 2006
Silver sign

silver sign

This is a replica sign which I noticed was being sold at Tenterden Station of the Kent and East Sussex Railway line.  They sell similar items, but not the same one, at their online shop.

Posted by bigblue on 02/09/2006 at 07:57 AM
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Friday, 01 September 2006
The Morrissey Game

I invented a new game recently - this is how it is played:

Put on a Morrissey CD. When a song plays, you have to Guess which Frasier character is best represented by the song.

The suggestion could be prompted by the general atmosphere and mood of the song, or by specific words in the lyrics. When you have assigned the character from Frasier to the song, you can skip to the next song. More than one person can play. It is not a competitive game: you can work as a team. Make suggestions and debate your choices until there is general consensus.  You should have no problems assigning any song to a character from Fraser. If you get stuck, try “Niles”, especially on the songs where Morrissey warbles his voice (i.e. every one).

Here’s an example, using Ringleader of the Tormentors, Morrisey’s latest album:

  1. I will see you in far off places - Niles (“It’s so easy for us to sit together, but so hard for our hearts to combine”)
  2. Dear God please help me - Frasier (The flip-flop of emotions, and general pomposity)
  3. You have killed me - Niles (“I entered nothing and nothing entered me, until you came with the key ...”)
  4. The youngest was the most loved - Eddie (Martin’s favourite - and youngest - child)
  5. In the future when all’s well - Daphne (sounds like something she could say)
  6. The father who must be killed - Daphne (if you think Daphne would only think of killing her mother then perhaps it’s Bebe who could kill anyone)
  7. Life’s a pigsty - Frasier (on one of his “rainy days” - having the “same old SOS”)
  8. I’ll never be anybody’s hero now - Niles (the deep self-pity of the song)
  9. On the streets I ran - Frasier (“take anyone but me”)
  10. To me you are a work of art - Niles (“I see the world, it makes me puke, but then I look at you and know that somewhere there is someone who can soothe me”)
  11. I just want to see the boy happy - Martin (“before I die, I have one final dream ... I just want to see [my boys] happy” - also the song seems to represent a stronger character)
  12. At last I am born - Frasier (“blah blah blah” plus the positive sentiments don’t seem genuine and we know they won’t last)

The video above, courtesy of YouTube, is of what is probably my favourite Morrissey song: Ouja Board. I especially like Mystic Meg, who reminds me of someone in my family.

Posted by bigblue on 01/09/2006 at 11:37 PM
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Thursday, 31 August 2006
Yellow Leaves

Yellow leaves of Horse Chestnut

I took this photo in Richmond this afternoon, next to the Thames River.  It shows a Horse Chestnut tree infected with the Horse chestnut leaf miner or Cameraria ohridella:

Larvae of C. ohridella mine within the leaves of horse chestnut, and the damage caused by large numbers of larvae can be striking. Up to 700 leaf mines have been recorded on a single leaf under favourable conditions. Severely damaged leaves shrivel and turn brown by late summer and fall early, well before normal leaf fall in the autumn.

The spread and establishment of Cameraria ohridella is of particular concern because once established, the moth appears always to maintain exceptionally high rates of infestation without any evidence of decline. In European towns and cities there has been no decrease in populations even after many years, and severe damage to horse chestnuts has occurred on an annual basis, greatly impairing the visual appearance of the trees.

There is no evidence from Europe that trees have died or shown a progressive decline in health as a direct consequence of attack by Cameraria ohridella. However, it is possible that differences in climate or interactions with other pests and diseases might lead to greater impact on horse chestnut in Great Britain.

The second last sentence (“Don’t Panic”) is probably the most significant.

Posted by bigblue on 31/08/2006 at 10:06 PM
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Wednesday, 30 August 2006
Hidden charges

Hidden Bank Charges

I took this photograph of a notice that someone had hand-written and propped on top of a cash machine. It warns of a £1.85 “hidden” withdrawal fee for using the machine.  The problem is that banks have made effective use of modern technology in order to reduce the need (and inconvenience) of branches. However they now only want to maintain cash machines in the most profitable sites. In less profitable sites, they allow third parties to run machines that charge exhorbitant fees. They started charging fees themselves, but there was an outcry and they have almost all stopped. This hasn’t stopped them tapping into other sources of hidden charges.

Posted by bigblue on 30/08/2006 at 10:18 PM
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Tuesday, 29 August 2006
Accident on the M25

M25 Accident

It had to happen: things had been too good lately what with the school holidays and all. At the beginning of summer there had been a spate of accidents on the M25. I have mentioned the major ones before. At this time it was not uncommon to pass 8 cars broken down at the side of the motorway when driving from Junction 16 to Junction 6 (coming back from work). Then everyone went on holiday and things improved. There were less cars, and when there was a bit of congestion one still moved along merrily like a queue in Disneyland: optimistically.

This evening it came crashing to an end. There was another major accident between Junctions 8 and 7 on the anti-clockwise stretch. I took the photograph above at 7:30 pm, after eventually clearing it. Two lanes were still blocked off, but they had started cleaning up and it was difficult to see what had happened or how many cars had been involved: possibly four of those pictured.  What was most annoying about the experience was hitting the gridlock an hour earlier at Junction 10, but hearing on the radio traffic bulletin that two lanes were clear and that the jam was only back as far as Junction 8. I could have adjusted my route earlier to avoid some of the worst bits, if the bozos had looked a bit better through the cameras.

Posted by bigblue on 29/08/2006 at 10:16 PM
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Monday, 28 August 2006
Selfish taxi driver

Selfish taxi driver at Gatwick

This is the selfish taxi driver at Gatwick Airport (South Terminal) the other morning when I went to fetch Scarlett on her return from Brazil. He stopped in the parking garage, blocking the traffic behind him, while he loaded his passengers and their baggage into his vehicle in the most leisurely fashion. He then drove off without so much as an apologetic glance.

If the airport was busy, or there was an unusual amount of congestion I would have been prepared to shrug and make allowances. However this was not the case and there were bays nearby that he could have pulled into in order to let us past. And of course there are the stop-and-drop and stop-and-pick-up areas designed for this kind of thing.

Posted by bigblue on 28/08/2006 at 11:22 PM
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