It’s my birthday, it’s my birthday, go me, go me!

I’m up in Milton Keynes, with the Balls. Last night was enjoyable spent slaying a bottle of homemade sloe gin and today we go forth to snowboard and tonight we feast!

Presents so far include: Derren Brown’s ‘Tricks of the Mind’, ‘Blackadder’ DVD collection, ‘A Scanner Darkly’ and ‘The Black Dahlia’ DVDs, a bottle of sloe gin of my very own and the complete works of Mozart on CD. And in March I get to pick up my mum’s main present, a snowboard, including binding, bag and edge sharpening kit. So, phat lewt indeed!

And only four days until Conception!

The Weekend

Well, the Ferret beat me to a sum-up of and did a far more detailed job of it than I would have done. I will, however, add that the vodka was an excellent Russian vodka called Stolichnaya, or to it’s friends. The weekend neither followed the original plan (beer festival) nor the backup plan (easy Friday night, pub crawl Saturday, hangover Sunday), but still very much enjoyable, perhaps partly due to the unplanned nature of it all. I still want to do a major pub crawl of Woking though, so people can expect to have me muttering about that at some point.

I’ve enjoyed watching the first Season of Doctor Who. It certainly had it’s weak episodes as well as it’s fun ones, so it’s worth continuing to watch, though not fanatically.

Google Docs & Spreadsheets

As you can , I’ve been messing around with Google Docs recently, formerly Writely and Google Spreadsheet, now combined. The docs part works nicely, especially now that it supports Beta Blogger, though I still wish they’d have more link options, like supporting tagged links. Spreadsheet though, despite having a great many functions was always missing thinks like charts and retrieving information from web pages. And so I was tempted to move back to .

Imagine then my surprise when it was announced that . In other words, Google hired the developers rather than buying the solution. I can only hope that this means that some of IRows features will migrate to Google Spreadsheet as they’re sorely lacking. Current Irows users are basically being told to export their docs as Excel spreadsheets (including charts) and upload them to Google Docs (without charts). That’s going to put some noses out of joint…

Bryce has the bulk of my weekend out west fairly well, but let me fill in the gaps.

Getting to Cheltenham from, well… anywhere, can be a bit time consuming and First Great Rippoff don’t seem to allow any discounts of any kind. I never thought I’d find my opinion of South West Trains improving! But eventually, after a three and a half hour journey from work to Cheltenham involving three changes, I made it to ‘Nam just after haf past four. This left just enough time to dump bag and head off on a trek in search of beer; a local pub crawl if you like. The main destination was the , up on the hill. Naturally, as it was a decent trek, we needed refreshment on the way. The last leg of the journey was through a field of (unworried) sheep but at the end the wedding party filled Hotel was worth it, particularly for the view from the beer garden at sunset. Annoyingly I once again didn’t have my camera with me, but this is the closest picture I can find of the . On the way back, past more sheep, we of course just had time for two more pubs on the way home, before witnessing the return of the .

was nice on the Sunday, the meeting point of the Avon and the Severn and home to the Abbey. A very pleasant little town, though I did think the Olde Worlde pennants on all the shops were a bit pointless.

In the afternoon, it was into Cheltenham proper for a mooch around (pub crawl) which was much enjoyed. As opposed to my journey home. A bus driver with all the time in the world made me miss my train. I still made it home in good time, but I had to take a lot more connections and cruise a wave of later trains and dodgy connections to make it home. Quite stressful.

Penny’s computer, Albert, is coming together nicely. There’s still a lot of music to copy between computers and strip out the duplicates and there’s another couple of hardware and software tweaks to go, but he’s up and running. Soon I’ll be able to upgrade my computer, as soon as I decide whether to go the AGP or PCI Express route.

Anyway, although I started this post almost immediately after returning from Bryce’s, it’s now over a week and a half afterwards so I’m going to leave it there.

I never did mention the Arch-Duke’s infernal weather machine in the last post… talk about false advertising! However, due to an unscheduled change in itinerary we ended up evading it and the hailstorm hit the black forest just as we left it. Phew!

So far Andy has managed to get flashed for speeding twice. Luckily they were stationary cameras and not traffic police otherwise he’d be racking up spot fines by now!

We made it to the top of the Zugspitze via the cable car (no hard slog for us, we had a schedule to keep!) but sadly there were virtually no views since the top of the mountain was encased in cloud. Rubbish!

Next stop, and current location, was Munich. Quite an amazing city really, very vibrant. It seems the entire city is dedicated to god and beer and it’s major cathedral is the Hofbrauhaus. We ended up spending quite a few hours there, drinking liters of dark German beer at a time, watching England knocked out of the World Cup and, unfortunately, not eating very much. Needless to say we feel like shit today! It’s a good thing that everything is closed today as we’re not really up to doing very much at all!

Tomorrow morning it’s off towards Mannheim. For the rest of today, just chilling.


Friday night, I met up with Kev & Lynsey at the, by now infamous, Tattershall Castle. The drinks are expensive, but the view is good. However it’s also very popular on warm sunny evenings like Friday, when it was rammed to the port holes. A good evening though, resulting in me feeling exceedingly fragile on Saturday. However I had a quiet day to myself to nurse my hangover and generally do very little else.
One actual productive point of Saturday was going sofa-shopping. Sure, I’ve bought a sofa before, but never actually gone shopping for one; walking around, comparing size, covering, comfort, colour etc. And we’ve finally settled on one which should be delivered while I’m in Germany. So, we’re ready for the house-warming party in July!
Sunday was spent shopping in Basingstoke. Boring, but necessary as we had to pick up the last few things before we leave for Egypt on Saturday.
Tonight I leave for Eindhoven, back on Wednesday night.
On an unrelated note, I found the following quote by the director of “All in the game”, a new football based movie starring Ray Winstone:
“People don’t want to sell their soul, but they’re prepared to lease it out, put it on a mortgage. They hope to get it back, but it doesn’t work like that.”

What a weekend! First off, for the impatient, the photos are here.

I’ll have to summarise this in bullet points as far to much happened for extensive prose!


  • The actual day of my and a day off work for me. Hurrah!
  • Presents! An antique-style wall clock from my mum and, rather excellently, the Anansi Boys audiobook, as read by Lenny Henry. Result!
  • Into Guildford for some exploring
  • Off to Craggy Island again for some climbing (once the test had been passed). Some traversing, some top-rope graded climbs and some bouldering. I had to borrow a harness because, oh horror of horrors, I’m not the svelte 25-year old I once was and my harness no longer fits! It seems I ate all the pies.
  • Dinner at , an oriental restaurant. A miso soup for starter and an excellent Mongolian chicken dish for the main course, all in view of
  • Snow! I win!


  • A gentle start to the day
  • Saw on the train to London! Who knew how far Penny’s organisational skills ran! Certainly much better than my ‘appear suave and cool while talking to celebrities’ skill as all I managed was a “Hi” and a bit of a smirk, which was rewarded by a fairly dismissive smile. But at least there was an element of communication there, or so I’d like to kid myself
  • Got to at 14:30. Somewhat late as I was expecting to meet Mark at 14:00. No Mark though, who phones at 15:00 to cancel, pleading ill health
  • Due to a combination of accidents, incidents, misunderstandings and other reasons, nobody arrives for the next two hours! Numerous conspiracy theories, fueled by the Budvar I’m drinking, begin to develop. Do I have the wrong time? The wrong pub? The wrong day? Thankfully, eventually, everyone makes it.
  • The first presents! One never knows when one might need an album of 70’s music or a talking Captain Hook action figure!
  • Eventually we head off to Kentish Town to the restaurant. We go to the Ethiopian restaurant, and a most excellent meal it is!
  • Major present time… And it’s a PSP! Much desired and not-very-secretly coted by yours truly since release and now it’s mine, all mine! Muahahaha!
  • At the end of the night it was off to a hotel for Penny and me, much better than trying to negotiate the engineering works on the trains home.


  • Chinese New Year! And what that seemed to mean was an ocean of people, 200,000 reportedly, gathering in Trafalgar Square waiting for the dragon procession.
  • Rather than wait around, Penny and I went into the Nationall Gallery, just long enough to view the , and the .
  • Back to Trafalgar Square for a bit of the dragon procession, at least those glimpses stolen in between even more people. Time to move on.
  • To go forth and purchase PSP paraphernalia. Hurrah!
  • Met Karen, Lynsey and Kev in All Bar One for a glass (or two) of wine before heading into China Town to observe the cabbage eating dragons and to buy ourselves some food poisoning
  • The London Eye was perfectly timed. Just at sunset, the sky literally changing colour as we moved around, all the building lights coming on and the Chinese New Year fireworks viewable just as we reached the peak. Most excellent.

And that was it. A highly memorable and very enjoyable 30th birthday. Thanks to all who were involved in any way at all.

is actually about the definition of ‘drunk and incapable’. (Incapable of what, I always wondered. Very capable of talking gibberish incessantly; Completely incapable of making sense or not slurring)

But the line that caught my eye was this one:

“As with all laws, they are there for a police officer to use as they see appropriate,” says a spokesman.

Really? All laws? Damn…

Oh sure, there were interesting enough things in the news; Torture, Tories and torture. But other than that it was rather uneventful. Work is becoming rather samey now, with the occasional highlight of a measuring device declaring “No contamination detected” at the end of site visit.
Over the last few weeks I have discovered that I am a big fan of Morgan’s Spiced Rum. Enjoyable neat, on the rocks and mixed with coke or orange juice; A lovely little winter warmer. The rest of my drinks stash is also looking rather healthy right now too, what with a remaining bottle of Arzuaga, a couple of bottles of Barolo and two different Rieslings. Now all I need is the time and opportunity to enjoy them!
Penny is at the Army Christmas Ball tonight with her sister and (squaddie) brother-in-law. It’ll be a fine event; evening wear, ball gowns and dress uniforms. Then add booze that’s apparently cheaper than your average northern student union bar and I’m sure it’ll be quite a lively event.