Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Tube Strike

So, I see the RMT has hit upon a new strategy for combating obesity in Londoners. I could have tried to get on a bus, I suppose, or strolled to Kings Cross to get the Thameslink to Moorgate but in the end I decided to walk. All the way from Euston to the office.

The route, while not terribly direct, was pretty easy: straight down Woburn Place and Southampton Row to Holborn then turn left and continue straight on to Bank and beyond. Three miles (give or take) and less than 45 minutes, which is about what I thought it would take.

And there were a lot of other people doing exactly the same thing. Most of them not as far or as fast but they were out there, pounding the streets, losing a bit of weight on the way to work. I tell you, the RMT should do it more often - we'd all be fit in no time. I've forgotten what it's like to walk long distances regularly. I used to walk two miles to get to school and about the same to get in to university and that sort of regular exercise really does help you stay in shape.

I did get frustrated with my fellow hikers at times. Some of them just don't know how to walk properly, it seems. There are the people who walk three abreast and really slowly forcing you to lower your pace until you spot a chance to get around them. And those who just can't seem to walk in a straight line and keep blundering into you as you go past them. You've also got to keep an eye out for anyone carrying a big umbrella, jabbing the pointed end out behind them as they walk. If you're not careful you can end up with stab wounds to the gut. Bloody idiots. I'm just thankful no one was wheeling a suitcase behind them otherwise I think there would have been carnage.

My legs and back are now aching a bit, but in a good way, and I've got a little over six and a half hours to rest before doing it all over again.

Monday, June 28, 2004

Answers, answers

BW is asking for answers to those questions you never knew you wanted to ask and, having never seen a bandwagon I don't want to jump on, I've given it my own slant. So, if you know the answer but don't know the question (sort of like 42 being the answer to Life, the Universe and Everything) then leave it in the comments for the rest of us to guess.

Even if you do know the question but think it would be fun to let other people come up with improbable suggestions then put the answer in the comments.

Here are a few to get you started:

4 brown, 8 clear & 9 green
23 people
Fusilli, Green Pepper, Tomato, Edam, Eggs, Natural Yoghurt, Mayonnaise, Spring Onion
27 tonnes and 7,000 litres

Do you have any ideas what the questions could be? Do you have some answers of your own? You know what to do with them.

While on hiatus...

...I have mostly been:

Visiting The London Dungeon.
Wandering around Borough Market.
Coughing and spluttering.
Moving furniture.
Finishing the unpacking.
Working hard.
Buying a car.
Hosting an indoor barbeque.

If you want to know more about any of these, let me know. ;-)


Has it been too long now for a simple sorry?

Blimey! Almost three weeks. It appears I have been hiating. I didn't mean to, you know. It just sort of happened.

After my last post I became ill. I woke up on the Saturday morning with my eyes gummed shut and an urgent appointment at the doctor's (my first visit for over five years) landed me with some ointment to squeeze into my eyes four times a day. As well as that, over the weekend the cough that I'd had for three weeks by then started to get worse and I was wheezing and feeling pretty rough. So, another visit to the doctor was on the cards for Monday (the last day of our break). I actually saw a nurse but she couldn't work out what was wrong with me (typically, that was the first time in 24 hours the I wasn't wheezing) so she gave me some anti-biotics and told me to go back if it didn't clear up.

So it was that I came back to work two weeks ago looking like death warmed up (my boss said I was grey) It was all I could do to get through the day and blogging fell by the wayside. By the beginning of last week I was feeling much better but I still couldn't bring myself to write anything. I had even drastically curtailed the number of blogs I was reading and commenting on.

It's not that I haven't had anything to write about, just that I couldn't make myself do it. It was refreshing. I have been working better without the distraction and at the moment that's something that I really need to be doing.

I'm not giving it up, though. This isn't a long way of saying that Clear Blue Skies is clouding over. Just that I need to cut back a little bit. I'll still post, visit and comment but it will probably be more erratic than it used to be. I've yet got to finish off the backblog and dream up new blogevents for your delectation. There's also likely to be a series of posts in the near future about my attempts to relearn how to drive so look out for that.

So that's about it. Sorry I haven't been around but I haven't gone completely.

(BTW, we finally moved into the master bedroom a week ago - almost four months after we moved in)

Wednesday, June 09, 2004


This break has been characterised by a couple of fairly major changes of heart.

Firstly, we changed our minds about going away. Originally, we had planned on going on a city break for three days at the end of this week. We wanted to go to Rome or Vienna but when we went into the travel agents in town at the beginning of last week the trips they had were just too expensive for us. We may have been able to get a cheaper deal online but I didn't really have the time to look. So, we changed our minds and decided to go away up to Edinburgh, instead. Then we talked about it a little more and came to the realisation that neither of us was really all that bothered about it so we changed our minds again and no we're not going away at all. Instead we decided to go into London for a couple of days out now that the trains are running again.

By a cunning piece of planning, we said we'd go to Kew Gardens yesterday and so it was we found ourselves, on the hottest day of the year so far, wandering amongst the trees in the sun rather than boiling ourselves by trying to work through the heat. We had a lovely day, despite trouble on the trains on the way in, and both thoroughly enjoyed it. So much so, in fact, that we carried it on when we got back and went out for dinner in a little Italian Trattoria in Hemel. I wasn't expecting too much from it (it's only a small restaurant in the town centre, after all) but the food was fabulous and the service excellent so we'll definitely be going back there again.

This morning, I got up and put some primer on the new plaster that the electrician had done last week and then made preparations to start painting the room. Before we started that we wanted to check one last time that the wardrobes we bought were going to fit. One of them is obviously no problem at all but the other was meant to fit in the gap between the chimney and the outside wall. We'd measured it before and knew there was only going to be a couple of inches spare but what we hadn't recknoed on was the window being off-centre in the room and how that would affect it. The front of the wardrobe was going to be flush with the edge of the window and it was going to prove rather difficult to fix the curtain track up so that it would run down beside the wardrobe. It would have involved ripping out a bit of skirting board to give us another half-inch of room and then bodging the tracking so that it ran pretty close to the wall.

In short, the likelihood was that, even if it all worked, it would look awful and that's not what we want in this room. Therefore, our second major change of plan was to only have the one wardrobe in the main bedroom and put the other in the spare room. In doing that we not only save ourselves a lot of bother but we also gain space in the room and it won't feel anywhere near as crowded as it was going to.

Having finally made that decision, we opened the first tin of paint and got to work. Two of the walls now have a first coat of 'Soft Linen' (a very calm, soft cream colour) on them and will be finished off tomorrow. The same colour will be going on the third wall, once we've taken the radiator off, but the fourth wall is going to be different. Very different. We wanted to make a feature out of the colour of the wall opposite the window so we are going to paint it a very deep purple colour (called 'Damson Dream 1'). It's almost aubergine in shade and, with the bed against it, is going to look fabulous.

We hope.

The first coat of that will go on tomorrow, too, so we'll soon know if it's going to work.

Monday, June 07, 2004

New Backblog Entry

It's been some time since I last made a new entry to my backblog so I thought I'd do another one, this time back in September 2001.

Hopefully, a few more will follow soon.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Chainblogging: Vintage English Motorcycles

This is the chainblogging post I promised last weekend and never delivered. Oh well, it's still quicker than sending it by Royal Mail. ;-)

In my first year at secondary school, one of the things we concentrated on in history was that of the school itself. At that time, the school was over 430 years old so there was quite a lot of history to go through; from the very beginning when what is now the headmaster's study was the only schoolroom through various stages of growth and expansion to the present day.

One of the periods that was touched upon was the early to mid-twentieth century when one of England's top motorcycle manufacturers built their bikes in some of the school's outbuildings.

The Vincent Motorcycle Company is famous all over the world for it's motorbikes even now, decades after the last one was produced. And I used to have RE lessons in those same outbuildings.

Since those lessons I've been aware of Vincent bikes but it wasn't until about four years ago, when L and I were on holiday in Tuscany that I finally realised how important that part of the school's history was. We were staying in a complex of villas that had been converted (or built) as separate self-catering apartments. It was a lovely place but it was full of French, German and Dutch people, so we didn't mix too much with anyone else for the first week.

In the second week, an American family was also staying there and during a meal that the management put on for all the guests we got chatting to them. They were doing the typical 'European Grand Tour' thing and we over for something like three months or more. We got around to talking about England and the father said that he owned a vintage English motorcycle, a Vincent. You can imagine the look on his face when I told him where I'd been taught!

It really can be a small world at times.

This is part of a chain of posts linked together by word association. The previous link in the chain was here. If you want to write another link here's what to do: Find a word, phrase or theme from this post to inspire your own and go and write it. It's that simple. Try not to write something that's similar to this post. That way the subject of the posts along the chain will vary. E.g. if I write about going to the doctor's, then don't talk about the last time you were ill, instead describe how you used to play Doctors and Nurses with the girl next door. Get the idea? Your post can be in any style you want. Copy this paragraph and tack it onto the end of your post, updating the link to point here, then leave a comment here that points to your new post.

This Week

Okay then, maybe hoping to post over the weekend was a little over-ambitious...

My parents came to stay Saturday night so most of the day was spent tidying and cleaning, with a couple of hours spent outside trimming the hedge aroiund the front garden. I cooked roast beef for the four of us and we spent the evening demolishing several bottles of wine. I had suggested they come and visit so we could all go the Herts County Show, which was being held just the other side of the M1 and that's what we did on Sunday. It was a good day out with a variety of attractions (e.g. flower tent, steam traction engines, livestock) and displays (showjumping, motorcycle stunt display). Plus a mass of stalls selling all sorts of goods; from locally made foods through clothing to garden furniture and beyond. There was even a stalling selling loft ladders! Mercifully, there was enough cloud around to stop us from burning too much and we all enjoyed it. Spent too much money, though. ;-)

On Monday, we went to help clear out L's grandmother's old flat and claimed a few unwanted bits and pieces (like some gardening tools and a set of new pans that she doesn't need any more). L's father stayed with us on Monday and Tuesday nights while the final clear out was happening.

So it was that Tuesday morning came around and we hadn't got any work done in the bedroom, which we want to pretty much finish decorating before we go back to work. I put that right by sanding down the woodwork and some of the filling that I'd already done. I didn't do as much as I wanted but it's a start.

Yesterday I had to help out a bit more on the flat clearance, taking a few bits to the dump and stuff and then spent the afternoon using the hedge trimmers that my father had left with us at the weekend to trim the hedge properly. The difference was very noticeable. A few more goes at it over the next month or so should get it looking great.

Today we finally had the electricians in to rewire the bedroom so I couldn't do any more work in there. So we sat and watched videos and daytime television all day instead. Amazingly, I don't feel at all guilty about it. I've been so tired for so long that a day spent doing very little was indeed welcome. That won't last, though, since there is now no excuse for us not getting the room finished off.

Hopefully we'll be spending our first night in the master bedroom soon. We ripped off the first scrap of wallpaper four months ago today when we completed so we've got about two and a half weeks now if we want to be in there within four months of moving in.

Back to the sanding tomorrow, then...