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Europe

Thursday, 07 December 2006
M25 accident this morning

M25 accident

I left home at 6 am this morning and passed this scene 12 minutes later travelling from Junction 9 to 10 on the M25. Just prior to passing this accident there was a sudden and severe downpour accompanied by pools of water in the outside lane of the motorway.  According to the radio the accident involved an overturned lorry. Fortunately for me it was on the opposite carriageway, although the traffic jam did still affect me severely as I tried to go home this evening - over 12 hours later!

Sometimes I just wish I could just travel the M25 in a few minutes.

Posted by bigblue on 07/12/2006 at 10:39 PM
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Wednesday, 06 December 2006
Local Round-up

Oxted

It’s been a slow day so I thought I would look around and do a little local round-up. 

First up we have Disgusted of Cumbria who writes:

When visiting Oxted at the weekend of 10-13 November, on Sunday 12 November I watched the parade and laying of wreaths at Oxted War Memorial and was shocked and amazed when a tape recorder was produced to sound the Last Post.

Surely, with schools in the area presumably with music departments and a local brass band, someone could have been approached and volunteered to give up a couple of hours to play the trumpet or bugle or even a cornet?

What are things coming to?

Tut tut.  Actually I was at the memorial service in the church and, as I recall, when they started playing The Last Post the tape actually snapped!

In the Sevenoaks Chronicle there was a bit of deja vu recently.  They reported on 30 November under the headline Children Learn About Lives Of Vikings that:

Oxted school pupils took a step back in time when they took part in a Viking Day.

It must have been a very successful event because it seems to have been repeated on 5 December. Under the headline Pupils Enjoy Stepping Back Into History Sevenoaks Chronicle again reported that:

Oxted school pupils took a step back in time when they took part in a Viking Day.

Or perhaps the pupils weren’t the only ones to step back in time….

The Surrey Mirror reported on the armed Oxted bank heist:

A female security guard was forced to the floor and threatened at gunpoint by armed robbers who stole boxes of cash from a security van.

The robbery took place outside the Natwest Bank in Station Road East, Oxted, at 11.45am on Friday.

The robbers pulled up in a blue Peugeot 406 and confronted the security guards of the company Group 4 Securicor, who were collecting money from the bank.

Two men wearing balaclavas approached a female security guard and forced her to the floor and threatened her with a handgun.

They grabbed boxes of cash before being driven off towards the A25 in the car displaying R registration plates.

Local blogger kipperfrog reports on a strange incident at Oxted Railway Station last week:

On Thursday evening we wandered over to the Oxted Inn for supper, and spotted some kind of incident at the train station. I’d been wondering what was going on because of the unusual number of sirens I’d heard going past the house earlier. Anyway, when we got to the station there were three ambulances parked outside, all deserted, but with the doors left wide open and the lights flashing. We were going to have a look inside the station to see if we could see what the matter was, but just as we got there the ticket guy had just locked up the front door so no one could get in. What I found strange was that there were no police, and the place seemed to be deserted. I would have thought that anything that would warrant three ambulances would also require the police, but maybe they’d already left. I’d just really like to know what it was, nosy as I am. It did seem odd!

So far I can’t find any reports in the newspapers on what happened.

In mid-November the Nuutinen family wrote about a spell of wintery weather. Remember that? It’s been pretty mild since.. The girl in the cafe went to see the new Bond at the Oxted cinema.  The French au pair who used to work in Oxted, China and Taiwan (what a combination) has posted her CV online.  Bora does taekwando on Thursdays.  On 21 November Lovely in London (who says she is up to her old tricks) went to Oxted to see her Cousin Elliot in the school production of Great Expectations.

It was really really good! Was very proud cousin indeed and great to see my family again.

Isn’t that nice moved into nearby Hurst Green a month ago.

At the beginning of November Charlie Barker asked How green is your desktop/webserver? after replacing his own personal webserver for a more environmentally friendly model.

Last, and certainly not least, Fink posts on a matter close to my heart: Christmas light bling!

Posted by bigblue on 06/12/2006 at 10:47 PM
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Tuesday, 05 December 2006
Heads of Beethoven

Beethoven

Apropos of nothing really - just playing around in photoshop with a photograph I took a few months ago in the music shop.  Ludwig van Beethoven was born on 16 December and died on 26 March 1827. Under the strange title “Social Difficulties, wikipedia writes the following about him:

Beethoven’s personal life was troubled. Around age 28, he started to become deaf, which led him to think about suicide (see the 1802 Heiligenstadt Testament). He was attracted to unattainable (married or aristocratic) women; he never married. His only uncontested love affair with an identified woman began in 1805 with Josephine von Brunswick; most scholars think it ended by 1807 because she could not marry a commoner without losing her children. In 1812 he wrote a long love letter to a woman only identified therein as the “Immortal Beloved.” (A movie by this title was released in 1994.) Several candidates have been suggested, but none has won universal support. Some scholars believe his period of low productivity from about 1812 to 1816 was caused by depression resulting from Beethoven’s realization that he would never marry.

Beethoven quarreled, often bitterly, with his relatives and others (including a painful and public custody battle over his nephew Karl); he frequently treated other people badly. He moved often and had strange personal habits, such as wearing dirty clothing even as he washed compulsively.[citation needed] Nonetheless, he had a close and devoted circle of friends his entire life.

Many listeners perceive an echo of Beethoven’s life in his music, which often depicts struggle followed by triumph. This description is often applied to Beethoven’s creation of masterpieces in the face of his severe personal difficulties.

This is bordering on the interesting. I have made a mental note to come back at some stage in the future and check whether they add a citation about Beethoven’s personal and sartorial state of cleanliness.

Posted by bigblue on 05/12/2006 at 09:19 PM
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Monday, 04 December 2006
Crazy Frog

crazy frog

Last year when I was working with bimbling he gave me two crazy frog ringtones: standard and remix.  I thought of bimbling on Saturday night at the cinema when I spotted these crazy frog toys. It wasn’t because I recalled him giving me the ring tones. I think it was something in the gleam of the crazy frog’s eye that made me think of bimbling.  What kind of crazy person buys himself a microlight - and flies the thing?  I wonder if he got aviator goggles to go with the plane?

Posted by bigblue on 04/12/2006 at 10:16 PM
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Sunday, 03 December 2006
Guitar Heroine

guitar hero 2

This weekend has ended in stunning form as I was awarded some brownie points from Laura at Name that Mushroom. I have parked these on my Links Page for the time being while I decide what to spend them on…  Laura also wrote a flattering review of my blog. Last month I made it onto the Daily Maybe’s 100 best green bloggers (by default no doubt) so I’d better start earning that one by posting some more green stuff!

This weekend I had to take Scarlett and Pinkie shopping. Pinkie needed a dress for a party on Saturday night, while Scarlett needed some boots and stuff for her forthcoming school trip to Russia (where the average December temperature is minus 12).  Scarlett was was in London and couldn’t go shopping on Saturday, and so I ended up going twice to Bluewater on consecutive days: once each with the two sprogs. 

I noticed driving in and out that the water next to the shopping centre is not blue, but more of the grey greasy green associated with the Limpopo River and the water found in the bottom of quarries.  Anyhow, in one of the halls there were these guys demonstrating the new Guitar Hero II game (pictured above). This is quite a clever (if noisy) thing to do in the weeks running up to Christmas (besides Bluewater is noisy at the best of times and headache-inducing with the throngs at this time of the year). 

What was interesting to me (and is evident in the photograph above) is that all the spectators drawn to this game were

boys

young men.  The game does not appear to be violent or degrading of women, it simply involves playing notes or chords (or perhaps simulating these) in time to visual cues on the screen.  In general the game reminded me a bit of the dance-mat game except that the action was with the fingers on the strut of a (fake) guitar rather than with the feet on a dance mat.  In fact to me the game seemed a bit lame. Perhaps the

girls

young women had better things to do.

I started wondering if there are studies about gender-biases in computer games. There must be loads, but I couldn’t really find anything along the lines of my own thoughts.  The BBC wrote last August about how marketting managers in the games industry were waking up to an untapped market of female games. (They might think about giving a game a more gender-neutral name?).  Another place for me to start might be the artist Mary Flanagan, who works in and writes about the industry.

Posted by bigblue on 03/12/2006 at 10:27 PM
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Saturday, 02 December 2006
Name that Mushroom

mushrooms

It should be easy to identify the above mushroom as it looks pretty common or garden gnome variety to me.  It looks like something I would happily eat. Still, I don’t know what it is and am emailing this image to Laura of kingdom you know and name that mushroom to see if she can give it a name.  The mushroom is in the brownie bag supplied by Laura, see here for explanation. She’s looking for a new one ...

Posted by bigblue on 02/12/2006 at 10:52 PM
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Friday, 01 December 2006
Tiled

floor tiles

I was reviewing my webstats for November and would like to highlight the following facts:

  1. The highest visits are all related to lembrana do senhor do bonfim da bahia;
  2. The next highest visits were referred to this site by a search engine when looking for war of the worlds;
  3. The next highest were for Betty White and My Celebrity Look alikes;
  4. There are many in-coming searches for Cupid and Psyche. Or is that Psyche and Cupid, or Psyche or Cupid?
  5. The most visited photo categories are South Africa and Cuba; and
  6. One sad person came here looking for best nights in dubai for pulling.

In total this site had 10096 visits in the course of November, by 5548 unique visitors, serving up 181987 web pages (217544 hits).  Not much really.

Posted by bigblue on 01/12/2006 at 09:57 PM
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Thursday, 30 November 2006
ecoescape

Trericket Mill

This is an outhouse at Trericket Mill in Wales. The outhouse is for the use of campers (who I think also have use of a communal bathroom in the mill guesthouse).  I love Trericket, having visted there a number of times. They are a vegetarian guesthouse, and I believe they will feature in next year’s ecoscape, the green travel guide.

ecoescape was founded by Laura Burgess, a communications specialist working in the tourism industry. After working in marketing and communications for tourism destination marketing bodies at regional and sub-regional level in the East Midlands, Laura became increasingly aware of the lack of accessible information available about sustainable travel in the UK which has traditionally focused on travel abroad.

Laura set up ecoescape as an independent enterprise to ensure that the people and environment remain central to its purpose. All profits go back into making the sustainable tourism industry exactly as the name suggests: sustainable. Ultimately the project aims to help integrate sustainability into every aspect of the industry and sees its place as integral to changing consumer perceptions through communication so that demand for sustainability increases into the future.

ecoescape’s first project is the launch of a green travel guide in spring 2007. The guide will be the first free guide to green tourism in the UK and has received support from the National Lottery Fund. Alongside the guide, educational and industry events will take place to promote sustainable tourism focusing entirely on the UK.

ecoscape also has a blog.

Posted by bigblue on 30/11/2006 at 11:12 AM
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