Friday, 28 July 2006



My lovely young Wife, her lovely Mum and her lovely (but bonkers) Dad.

Taken on my mobile phone in a South London pub. We may have imbibed a beer or four...

Wednesday, 26 July 2006

Too Darn Hot

That's my excuse for not having posted for 10 days anyway.

What have I been up to in that time?

Working. That hasn't been fun. Our company moved us into 'new' offices in April. So 'new' that they don't have air-conditioning. The interior of the office is usually as hot as it is outside (32 Celsius today, according to a colleagues desk clock/thermometer). Sometimes it's hotter, due to the lack of a breeze and the sun heating up the air behind the windows (most of which don't open). The company bought us fans and spent £8,000 on "air-conditioners" that don't. All of which is a good excuse for wearing t-shirts, shorts and sandals to the office, or for working from home.

Playing. I'm involved with both of Ottershaw Players' entries to this year's Woking Drama Festival. I'm doing sound for The Man In The Middle of the Road and stage managing Teechers. We've also had auditions for November's production of The Wind In The Willows - great fun! I think I'd like to play Ratty. But that's also got most lines, so I'm hoping for something smaller. On Monday I had a day at the British All-Winners Drama Festival. I was mentoring one of the competing groups Cytringan Players, so I spent the day helping them get unloaded and directing them to the right shops to buy props and set materials that they needed.

Sunday, 16 July 2006

Dredged Up

A trivial conversation at a barbecue yesterday had me recalling a snippet of a singalong-type song from my youth.

I hadn't heard it for, oh, at least 30 years, but the lyrics (to the last verse) came back to me with no problem at all:
Oh, the nauseating witches who put scinitllating stitches in the breeches
Of the boys who put the powder on the noses of the ladies
Of the court of King Caractacus,
Are just passing by.
How does that happen? I'm sure Marcel Proust had something to say on the subject.

I recall that the song was on a Rolf Harris album. I'll have to search it out to see how wide of the mark I am...


Well, I was close. Apparently the ladies are from the Harem of the Court of King Caractacus. And the Witches were "fascinating" rather than "nauseating". If you're at all bothered, you can read the lyrics here.

No sign of a free MP3 link to the song. Which is a shame 'cos it was a corker!

Thursday, 13 July 2006

Why Wikipedia Is Great

Wikipedia. If you never visited before, why not?

It made the news last year because various academics dismissed it as being biased and inaccurate, only for their research to show that the same accusations could be levelled at such august bodies of knowledge as Encyclopedia Britannica too.

But, let's face it, the reason Wikipedia is so good is for the sheer depth and range of its articles.

Here are my 3 favourite Wikipedia entries - in traditional reverse order:
What are yours?

Wednesday, 12 July 2006


I see that the French, those wacky irony-free funsters, have opened a swimming pool that floats on the River Seine.

Whatever next? Dry-slope skiing in the Antarctic?

Friday, 7 July 2006

All Change! Again!

Somehow Blogger managed to mangle my template. Luckily I'd saved all my buttons and stuff when I last changed, so I switched to a simpler template. Sorry for the confusion.

Thursday, 6 July 2006


On Sunday my Lovely Young Wife and I went for a walk on the North Downs.

We started and finished at the Percy Arms in Chilworth. It's a bit of a chain pub and doesn't have much to recommend it. Least of all the terrifying price of their ale (£3 a pint!). What was interesting was the fact that they seemed to have more staff than punters and they (the staff) all sounded South African. Very strange.

We headed off through some pleasant woodland and crossed the river Tillingbourne before heading uphill and across open fields for about 1.5 miles. As this was the hottest day of the year so far, we were glad when we came to a shady tree.

After the farmland the path headed past Chantry Woods.

[What is a Chantry? There's a shopping centre of that name in Andover, near my office.]

The path headed inexorably up the downs - you've got to love the English language. Where else would high ground be called 'downs' - and we followed the North Downs Way to its high point at St. Martha's church.

Chilworth 006

There's been a church on this site for around 1,000 years, but this building dates back to the 18th Century. It's a bit remote and one wonders if they have much of a congregation on Sunday mornings, but the church's primary function was originally as a stop-off for the devout walking the Pilgrims Way from Winchester to Canterbury.

A very steep path then leads down from the church, for around a mile through more farmland, to the derelict and overgrown Chilworth Gunpowder Mills.

Chilworth 002

The mills are a fascinating place. Gunpowder was manufactured here for over 300 years until the workings closed in the 1920s. For most of that time they were one the most important industrial chemical works in the country. It's odd seeing them now, around 80 years later. Where once explosives were made, hikers now walk. And the canals, rather than carrying barges of saltpetre and charcoal are now full of laughing, splashing children and fathers building dams from discarded stonework, their trousers rolled up to their knees.

One scary indication of the size of the mill is that one accidental explosion caused the demolition of the tower of St. Martha's Church. A mile away and a couple of hundred feet higher up the downs!

Chilworth 003

Nowadays all that remains are some derelict buildings, some watercourses (some in use, some dry) and many large, heavy millstones. The ones in the picture were about 4 or 5 feet in diameter.

I took a few pictures, as you can see here, but there are far more and far better to be found on Flickr.

Saturday, 1 July 2006

A Blessing. And A Curse.

Monk. What a great TV show.

If you haven't seen it, then I urge you to. It's up there with Columbo as one of the more intelligent TV cop/detective shows.

Adrian Monk is different because he has multiple phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorders and autistic symptoms which plague his life, but which make him uniquely able to solve cases that have the regular police stumped.

I think we all have bizarre behaviour like this sometimes. Mostly it's harmless.

For example, when I'm hanging out the washing I always have to use matching pegs. It doesn't feel right unless each item of clothing has pegs of the same colour. Or if they're wooden pegs, they have to be pairs of old ones, or new ones.

It's odd. But not a problem.

I'm pretty sure that it's the only 'compulsive' quirk that I have. Do you have any?