Like Sam, Andy and I have been to Wales. Shockingly (and in part
inspired by Sam's report), we didn't visit Bangor, opting to remain on
Anglesey for the entire week, which was probably a good idea thinking
back on the bittersweet feelings I had after driving through at
We had an active week where we did just about every watersport we
could think of. We spent a sunny day being towed behind the speedboat
on various devices, which left me with very sore arms and shoulders.
Then we had 3 very windy days with no watersports (although some hardy
folk windsurfed), so we cycled two days in a row (the Nico cycle route
first, then a trip to Church Bay) then went for a walk from Cemaes
Bay. The walk would have been beautiful but it was extremely windy
with driving rain so we were mostly concentrating on not falling off
the cliffs. On Wednesday it was calm again so I tried wakeboarding.
It's not as easy as waterskiing: I did get to an upright position but
fell over almost straight away each time. Then Thursday was a
beautiful and windy day so we started with windsurfing; I was very
pleased as I made lots of progress so need to find another opportunity
Then on Thursday afternoon I thought I'd finally get to sail my
Europe, so spent about 90mins scrubbing and rigging it, then attached
it to the back of the tractor and headed to the beach. But a bad thing
happened. Although we safely negotiated the wires by Andy's house, we
both forgot and didn't notice the (lower) wires right down at the
beach. And we rammed them with the mast. And snapped the mast.
I was mostly upset about the danger of electric shock initially,
especially as the wire snagged a cleat at the top of the mast so the
mast, precariously attached to the boat, stayed attached to the wire.
After some careful thought about the conductive properties of various
materials, we decided that fibreglass did not conduct electricity, so
we lifted the boat, the wire was freed and the mast slowly toppled
into the hedge. So we didn't sail, but Andy did let me zoom the
tractor up and down the beach to cheer me up.
On Friday it rained and rained, so we spent most of the day cleaning
the house & moving everything to the campsite. Then on Saturday we
went sea kayaking from Cemlyn Bay to Cemaes (past Wylfa, where the
water was warm and probably radioactive) but when we tried to get back
again the wind rose and I wasn't strong enough to paddle against it,
so Andy, Ben and I were shipwrecked (well, voluntarily) on a beach
while Chris and Matt paddled back and brought the car round to where
So there. I'm bored of typing on my little phone now but will put up
some photos soon.
Sunday, August 02, 2009 | | 37 Comments
I'm on my way back to the Department after a meeting, but am
completely stranded about 150m from the building in one of the biggest
storms I've ever seen. Louder even than the one a few weeks ago that
woke me up at 6am. Rain is BUCKETING down, there's lots of lightning,
there's hail, there's sirens and there's extremely loud thunder.
Thankfully I got stranded in a covered area outside a Leonidas cafe so
I'm merrily drinking my cappuccino out in the open hour but with a
roof over my head. Glad I didn't cycle in today.
Tuesday, July 07, 2009 | | 0 Comments
11:30 and we've found a nice spot on Henman Hill. Quite a steep hill
though - it's a constant battle with gravity. Highlight so far was
stumbling upon Roger Federer practising on one of the open access
courts. We have also acquired a pack of playing cards so have been
playing rummy to pass time until 1pm. 5.5 hours' wait down, 1.5 to go.
We definitely could have turned up at 10am.
9am: estimated still 5000 of the 6000 tickets available. The queuing
is such fun though, I've read quite a lot of my book and, well, that's
it really. But we're queuing for the turnstile now, we're nearly in!
I thought I couldn't live in SW19 and not go to Wimbledon, so here I
am, standing in a queue, and we're still 5 hours from kick-off or
whatever the tennis equivalent is called.
There are a lot of myths flying around about the length of the
Wimbledon queue and how long you need to spend in it. People queued
for two days for quarter final tickets. People turned up at 6am to a
two-mile queue. So we got here just before 6am, worrying that we
wouldn't get in at all on our long walk from Wimbledon station (where
there was a taped off crime scene, by the way). But when we got here,
turned out there was no need for panic: I'm number 265 inthe queue and
there are 6000 available. Feel a bit silly really.
The No 11 bus is very smelly. I'm making the return leg of my journey
and on both occasions the (different) buses have smelled so bad I have
had to cover my nose. Is it the people on the bus? The cleanliness of
the bus? Or is it just that I inhaled clean sea air at the weekend and
have lost my immunity to London smells as a result?
Thursday, May 28, 2009 | | 0 Comments
I'm wallowing in the pleasant after-glow of a very good book. It's a bit like waking up from a lovely dream and wanting to hang on to it just a little longer. The book had a rather violent end but it all worked out perfectly in the epilogue, and I feel smugly satisfied that I anticipated a number of the plot twists before they became too obvious. There's a real nack to pulling that off in detective stories: you don't want to give too much away too soon, but allowing me to figure things out just slightly before you spell it out for me makes me very happy.
I think that's why I don't like Agatha Christie very much: she introduces too many wild cards so you just can't figure it out for yourself. There you are suspecting the parson when she tells you that the butler's alibi was entirely fictitious and he was famed for his skill at archery in his youth. It's just plain annoying -- there's no scope for stretching my intellect, unless I try to guess who the culprit is based on who it's most unlikely to be.
This was the first book I've read that was set in the Second World War without being too grim about it. It wasn't as though everything was rosy; in fact, several people were killed because of the dangers of the blackout, nobody could travel anywhere because of petrol shortages, several people's houses were destroyed by bombs and nobody had anything nice to eat (except Aunt Maud). But I felt I understood it a lot more as a result, I feel much closer to understanding what living with rations actually meant when you were trying to cook a meal. I'm not a big war-head (quelle surprise!) but I did find myself interested in the war for the first time in this book.
Just one criticism: dear old Rennie needs to move away from ending all his books in isolated country houses (with such-and-such baking bread and such-and-such-other off milking the cows) with the killer breaking in and John Madden fighting them off bare-handed. It made for a good read but it did seem a little familiar, and when you've only written three JM books that's a bad thing. But he's one of my favourite authors anyway, and the great thing is that unlike many of my other favourite detective story authors, he's actually alive so there's a good chance he might write more books for me.
I bought five other books last week in a little literary spree (how could I not? I visited John Sandoe and there's a new book stall in the market that sells very good second hand books for £2) so I'll report on those once I've read them all.
Monday, May 11, 2009 | | 0 Comments
Today I did another exciting thing: I visited John Sandoe Books in my
lunch break. It was just like I imagined it would be: layers and
layers and layers of books and the people had read them all.
I went there to get the new Rennie Airth book. I felt I should buy it
from them rather than Amazon as I think it was them who recommended
Rennie Airth to me (via Dad) in the first place. It was a fun trip.
Thursday, May 07, 2009 | | 0 Comments
This morning two exciting things happened, one good, one bad. The first was that I saw a rat on my way to work. Andy wasn't there to mind me so I had to run away. Inconsiderately, he was on the tube so I had to leave him a hysterical voicemail (I don't hold with counting h's as vowels) instead of speaking to him hysterically. I googled fear of rats: turns out musophobia (as it is less commonly know) is one of the most common specific phobias, and is often a combination of the "reasonable concern about rats and mice contaminating food supplies, which has been universal to all times, places, and cultures where stored grain attracts rodents, which then consume or contaminate the human food supply" and the startle response. Sounds sensible.
So that was an unpleasant start to the day, but it was tempered by a lovely email from my boss when I got to work thanking me for all my work since Anfal left and praising me for not letting anything major slip despite doing two people's work. So she and my boss-boss have agreed to nominate me for a £150 instant reward, which is very nice indeed. Instant rewards are a nice thing the Department does as a way to recognise good work on a particular thing, like a sort of short-term bonus. So I feel pleased.
The rest of the day was quite dull in comparison.
Wednesday, May 06, 2009 | | 2 Comments
I've just been to a headteachers meeting in a consortium I have links
with. It was a bit frustrating because very early in the meeting I was
asked a confrontational question about a potential policy change
should the government change which naturally I couldn't answer, but it
left everyone in the room a bit annoyed with me for not being frank.
Thing is, even if I wasn't bound by the civil service code, I don't
have a crystal ball. I don't know what the outcome of the next
election will be as opinion polls, like mortgage repayments, can go up
as well as down, and even if I did know for certain that the
government was going to change, I don't know what that would mean for
this particular policy. But to all intents and purposes my answer
looked like another civil servant dodge and did nothing to make the
people in the room feel happy I was there. So it wasn't quite as good
a meeting as I hoped it would be.
Andy's abandoning me on Thursday to head to Scotland for his annual
kayaking trip. I don't know what I'm going to do while he's away but
when he was in Sheffield I ended up over-filling my time so I didn't
have any time to myself at all. I'll try not to do that this time.
One thing I'd like to do is book a piano lesson with our new local
music school, Cherry Pie Music (they have a website, google them).
They're opening a branch in Abbey Mills which is super-convenient, and
they say they do all styles of music which is ideal. My idea of what I
want is one 'classical' piece on the go at all times, which would be a
demanding one that I'd be concentrating on perfecting and really
working on technique, a jazz tune I'd be playing from chord charts,
and a rock/pop piece I'd be reading from music but augmenting with
twiddly bits by ear. And it sounds like they'd do that. They open on
Saturday so I think I'll give it a try.
Tuesday, May 05, 2009 | | 0 Comments