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Saturday, 19 August 2006


I quite like the idea of living in one of these barges on an English canal: hopefully they are not as small, cold and damp as they sometimes appear. OK, let’s be clear: it might make a nice relaxing hidey hole for the occassional weekend break. For nipping over the channel to France, or for mojitos in Havana, I would need something a bit faster and ocean-going. Yes, I saw the movie Miami Vice last week so I know exactly what I’m talking about. The Wikipedia link of the original TV series makes mention of its role in transforming the location in South Beach, Miami. Adam was telling me about this at work too.

Posted by bigblue on 19/08/2006 at 10:31 PM
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Friday, 18 August 2006
Red British Icons

Postbox Telephone Booths

These three red sentries can be found in the centre of Uxbridge, and many other places around the UK. The photograph shows a different angle of the bar/restaurant Baroosh.

Posted by bigblue on 18/08/2006 at 11:36 PM
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Thursday, 17 August 2006
Big Ben

Big Ben in London

This evening after work I drove across London to Covent Garden for a work function - dinner with the big boys of the company at a fancy restaurant. Very pleasant, except that I had to drive home afterwards, something necessitatedby the fact that if I had left my car at work and trained, I would wake up tomorrow morning at home with another long train journey to retrieve my car from work. Fortunately I missed the congestion charge but parking in London is pretty expensive. And I had a one hour drive home after the supper.

Posted by bigblue on 17/08/2006 at 11:59 PM
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Wednesday, 16 August 2006
The Swan and Bottle

The Swan and Bottle in Uxbridge

This is the Swan and Bottle pub in Uxbridge, Greater London.  One can only guess as to the origin of this particular name.

A few us us went here this evening after work to say goodbye to a colleague who is leaving to work for another company. Sometimes when you look around, and consider the companies that one’s various colleagues used to work for, then you wonder if we are on some kind of job merry-go-round.

Posted by bigblue on 16/08/2006 at 10:08 PM
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Tuesday, 15 August 2006
Gas tank in Oxted

Oxted gas tank

This is the landmark gas storage tank in Oxted: the one that is strangely next door to the kindergarten. I believe it is disused and will come down at some stage - hopefully it had already been decommissioned when they put the kindergarten next door.

There has recently been a sharp rise in energy prices, particularly gas and oil. The UK’s North Sea oil fields have already hit peak capacity, and the days of cheap energy (particularly gas) in this country are over.  Now is the time to invest in renewable energy sources.

There has been an interesting economic phenomenon last month: energy prices have risen, but inflation fallen slightly. There are a few theories as to why this is:

I suppose we will have a clearer idea as to what is going on with the economy by the end of the year. As rates have started going up again, it might be a good time to move your mortgage to a deal that is locked in at the (currently) low interest rates for a fixed period.

Posted by bigblue on 15/08/2006 at 09:49 PM
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I took this photograph at Godstone Vineyards on Saturday.  This vineyard is a few hundred metres within the M25 motorway.  Today I spent four hours driving to and from work, mainly along this motorway.

I came home at lunchtime, with the intention of working from home but got held up in a nasty snarl on the M25 which had resulted in total closure of the M25 between Junctions 8 and 7. Following last week’s accident in which four were killed, we had an accident involving a motorcycle and a lorry this morning resulting in the death of the motorcylist

It is worth bearing in mind with the current flight disruptions that last year was a bonanza year for terrorism: 52 people were killed here in the UK.  During the same period, during the same period 3000 people died in road accidents. Hat-tip to Joan Smith, although I guess that the cost of terrorism cannot simplly be counted in human lives.

In other news, summer may now have ended.

Posted by bigblue on 15/08/2006 at 12:06 AM
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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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