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Tuesday, 18 July 2006
Hottest Day

Moonlight Serenade

Tomorrow is predicted to be the hottest day of the year.  According to the photograph above, the florist in Uxbridge will be closed. Meanwhile, Fink reports that the underground tube in London is dangerous for transporting cattle. I wonder who tried to take the cow down there.

Posted by bigblue on 18/07/2006 at 10:08 PM
Filed under: EuropeUnited KingdomEngland • (3) CommentsPermalinkBookmark or Share
Monday, 17 July 2006
Balloon

hot air balloon

In one of his better moments, at the end of the concert, the compère at yesterday’s event was giving thanks to everyone who had contributed to the success of the event. He said

... to the people who flew the balloon overhead, ... to all of you who bought a raffle ticket with a 2 on it ...

The first part of that excerpt of thanks refers to the glorious hotair balloon pictured above. The second part refers to the fact that they drew a ticket with the number 2 on it in the raffle, and three or four people came forward with the matching ticket. Apparently the tickets weren’t all the same colour. Dark pink, light pink, orange, etc. The compère had wanted to deal with the embarrassment by offering additional prizes, but I think there was a shortage at that point. He resorted to microphone begging the organisers of the upcoming Farnborough Air Show to donate additional prizes (free entry for a family). Without apparent success, it should be added.

Posted by bigblue on 17/07/2006 at 10:19 PM
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Sunday, 16 July 2006
Moonlight Serenade

Moonlight Serenade

This afternoon and evening we went to an open air concert, entitled Moonlight Serenade in which Pinkie was performing with the Surrey County Youth Wind Orchestra (Scywo).  The other main acts were the Epworth Choir, the GHosTs Choir, and In Accord, while the compère was one Richard Stilgoe, OBE. I had no idea who he was until afterwards, but recognised him as the card he is.  I think he would have done better to sticking to commentating during the gaps between the different performers, rather than introducing almost every song.  He was less in our face after the interval, possibly because of the slippage in the programme (for which I am sure he was partially responsible).

The highlight of the Richard Stilgoe show was when he introduced the Surrey County Youth Wind Orchestra by saying that we should support them because it kept the youth performers out of crime and young offenders institutions. I spluttered more in laughter than outrage, but noticed that his comment invoked serious applause among the large contingent of the Surrey blue-rinse brigade (who were out in force). Perhaps Dave’s hug a hoodie campaign has arrived in the Shires.

Posted by bigblue on 16/07/2006 at 10:41 PM
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Saturday, 15 July 2006
Colourscapes

colourscapes

Today bluemeanie and I went to the Croydon Mela with Tessa and Jim and Alex and Holly. The most amazing thing was this labyrinth of colour, see pictures above (click to embiggen). One dons robes (provided) the colour of which is a primary colour. Then you enter the labyrinth - made up of pods which are also all of different colours - mostly primary - and filter through the sunlight in that bright colour. Somewhere in the middle was a “white/grey” zone where there were some musicians playing chilled new-age music. A great experience. The Mela website describes it thus:

This large inflatable structure is a walk-in labyrinth of intense colour and light. The Colourscape experience has been compared to being “wrapped in a rainbow” - long views of the most intense colours open up in every direction.

Musicians will perform throughout the day with Mongolian Overtone Singing, Tibetan Singing Bowls, panpipes, Chinese percussion, with a performance by Croydon school children.

Posted by bigblue on 15/07/2006 at 10:57 PM
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Friday, 14 July 2006
Passion

Passion

The local pizzeria has these stickers on the window which read “Passion”. It seems to be an promotion of a Sicilian wine that has recently been a put on the menu.  When I saw the stickers I thought of the planetary/space company that I used to work for. They used to have these motivational posters on the walls of the offices, about passion, committment, honesty, etc. I thought of this company yesterday when I met a colleague at lunch (we have a common friend who took us both for lunch) and discovered that he used to work for this company and knew many of the same people that I did.

Is it just me, or do the NatWest Three have names that belong in a Harry Potter novel: David Bermingham, Giles Darby and Gary Mulgrew? Did JK Rowling make this story up?

Posted by bigblue on 14/07/2006 at 11:29 PM
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Thursday, 13 July 2006
Chalk

Chalk on the North Downs
Bluemeanie came back from her Business in the Community event today (with various socially and environmentally sensitive goodies). She took this photo earlier this year, of some chalk I picked up in a field in Oxted. (Wikipedia: North Downs).  I Hockneyised the photograph.

The traffic on the M25 this evening was as it should be: light and swift flowing. Hence no pictures of traffic jams today.

Posted by bigblue on 13/07/2006 at 11:10 PM
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Wednesday, 12 July 2006
Hazardous materials on the M25

uranium hexafluoride

Traffic on the M25 has been bad these recent evenings. Part of the problem is the roadworks around Junction 10 (anti-clockwise) which will continue for a couple of months. So I have been spotting cars, trains, trucks and other automobiles. I first noticed that this truck has a sign on the rear that warns that the truck carries radioactive materials. The truck looks empty in this photograph, but there was some kind of barrel strapped on the back (near to the drivers cab). With a bit of googling I found a number of documents pertaining to the transport of radioactive materials (by road or rail) which suggest that the plate of numbers on the back (78 and 2978) are codes to indicate the nature of the radioactive cargo. If I am correct, these codes indicate that the truck is carrying non-fissile uranium hexafluoride. I am not sure exactly what this is, but according to wikipedia, uranium hexafluoride is used in Isotope separation, most commonly in the nuclear energy (or weapons) industry. There are clear regulations governing the transport of this product on our transportations networks as it is considered a hazardous material.

On the plus side, if there is one, the information about this product states that

Its corrosivity presents a greater hazard than its radioactivity and its packaging is designed to reflect this.

And I was wondering only this morning why a stretch of the M25 motorway had to be closed for over 12 hours due to spillage of a substance from the truck that was transporting it. This was mentioned in the traffic report this morning (or was it yesterday morning?).  I am not suggesting this was due to uranium hexafloride, as I recall that in 2004 a diesel tanker managed to shut down the M25.

My Googling also turned up (in this forum discussion thread) a comment by a truck driver in November 2004:

I am a lorry driver with an adr licence and I carry hazardous goods everyday.
some chemicals that I carry, such as catalysts are extremely flammable and in some cases explosive. You can spot these vehicles on the road because they have to have orange plates on the front and the back of the vehicle to inform emergency services that we have a dangerous load. We must also carry details of our load in the form of trem cards which the emergency services use to determine how to treat the load in the event of an accident. We are governed by strict codes which tell us where we can park up and also where, what and how we store and secure our loads . We also have very strict procedures that we must follow in the event of a spillage,fire or an accident. Due to the nature of our loads most sensible adr drivers take more care on the road ie leaving larger stopping distances, observing speed limits and driving with extra caution. I know there was a problem with a leaking petrol tanker on the m25 recently this may have been the cause of your hold up. As you can imagine it would only need a spark from a high tension lead from a car to ignite petrol vapour fumes and this would require both lanes to be shut whilst the emergency services deal with the problem. All nature of dangerous goods are carried on our roads even explosives. So when you see a lorry with orange plates on the back and front, its a good idea to treat them with caution.

Posted by bigblue on 12/07/2006 at 08:28 PM
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Tuesday, 11 July 2006
Genuine Beer

Genuine Beer

This is what I call the genuine beer entry for the 2006 Oxted Pram race, although one of the parties seems to be a carton of milk.  This reminds me of the story of the enterprising French farmer who invented milk beer.

Posted by bigblue on 11/07/2006 at 11:23 PM
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