Wednesday, 30 September 2015


We came back from Aberdeen by train on Sunday evening.

It was a clear night so we got a great view of the Blood Moon.

It was pretty spectacular as we were travelling down the East coast and the moon was just rising.

As well as being tinted red it was also huge and this photograph (not mine) gives a sense of the scale.

As you know the term 'Blood Moon' refers to the total lunar eclipse. When a full moon  is eclipsed by Earth
the direct sunlight is blocked but the light has traveled through Earth's atmosphere and manages to still light up the moon, albeit in a weakened way and the Moon, instead of being bright white is of a reddish-brown colour. OK?

Of course historically people panicked over this and saw it as an evil omen. Even nowadays there are nutters foretelling calamity and disaster.

I wonder what Second Fiddle's take on it is?

Tuesday, 29 September 2015


Yay, the rugby world cup is on and, being in England I can watch the games in real time at a sensible hour.

I don't have tickets to any of the games but if England get beaten by Australia this coming week and booted out at an early stage then the English fans will go dog on the whole thing and there might be some tickets to be had at bargain prices.

We don't have TV and I watch the games on my computer. It chews up the GB's though so I was thinking about getting TV on a temporary basis.

The Old Girl watches a bit of rugby but isn't really interested. Well, not in the games anyway.

What men see when viewing rugby

What women see when viewing rugby

Anyway, we went to Scotland for the weekend and stayed with The Old Girl's cousin and her partner.

Fortunately he likes his rugby so we watched a couple of the games including the England vs Wales game where England just got beaten. We had a great time, visiting the rellies and going out to dinner.
The Old Girl also got to watch Strictly Come Dancing

This clashed with the rugby on Saturday night but our hosts had one of those TVs where you can watch one programme and record another so she was able to see her programme the next morning.

After watching it she said that maybe it'd be a good idea to hire a TV for the next few months until we go home in January.

I mumbled something like "Oh, OK, if YOU think it's a good idea" while making sure she didn't see the grin on my face.

Friday, 25 September 2015


I've got a bike you can ride if you like .......

I bought my bike because I hurt my knee somehow and it's a 25 minute walk to the gym I go to.
My knee seems to be getting better now but I still ride to the gym and generally about town.
This is relatively new to me as I hadn't really ridden a bike since university days in Wellington in the 1970's

(not a penny farthing)

Bone shaker

Although, riding over the cobblestones of York does shake the old bones up a bit.

My bike is a swish looking red mountain bike. It only cost me £40 (about $100 NZ) as I bought it from an internet trading site. I must admit that the guy I bought it from looked a bit like Fagin so worry that some schoolkid is wandering around out there looking for his pride and joy.

I'm enjoying riding it as York is a pretty safe bike-riding city with lots of bike lanes and seemingly not many irascible old music teachers ready to run you over. If the weather is fine I take the long way through the countryside on the way to the gym. It's a great way of getting fit. I don't know why I go to the gym.

Oh, OK, I do know why I go to the gym.

Riding my bike isn't without its embarrassments however. As well as the obvious one of an old guy riding a red kid's bike there are, as an example these three.

1. A few weeks back I was riding pretty fast into the wind and thought I was doing pretty good, slipping past slow cars and moving at a good clip. Just before I congratulated myself though I was overtaken by someone else. An old geezer (even older than me) on an old fashioned, no gear black bike sailed past me. He wasn't bent over the handlebars in a racing position like me. No, he was rigidly upright. Bastard. I'm sure he must have had one of those little motors connected to the rear wheel.

2. Last week I was moving along fairly briskly after starting off at the traffic lights and was once again overtaken. By an old woman (well about my age anyway). She was also riding one of those old bikes. With a basket in front. The basket was full of groceries. She must have had the advantage of sailing through the traffic lights when they were green.
I didn't chase after her and pass her. I (ahem) didn't want to embarrass her.

3. Yesterday when I'd cycled to the inner city supermarket I mounted the bike with the groceries in my back pack and as I took off the groceries unbalanced me and I fell off. On the road. Fortunately there was no bus behind me but I landed heavily and scraped knees and arms and received a few bruises.
I felt like a twit especially when two little old ladies stepped off the footpath to help me up. As one dusted me off the other was fossicking in her handbag for some medical suppplies.
"I'm fine" I pleaded.
"No dearie" one of them said "Mildred is well equipped for emergencies".

I told them that what was mostly hurt was my pride, thanked them and manfully rode off only stopping to limp up the stairs when I got home.

Friday, 18 September 2015


We went to London over the last few days.

Didn't see the queen though. Maybe, as it was raining she went elsewhere.

London's a great place although the rain limited the choice of things to do which meant indoorsy stuff.

I went to the Victoria and Albert museum one day and the British Museum the next while the Old Girl was at work in her company's London office.

It was OK but really, one museum is very much like another. Google and various other internet offerings make it so easy nowadays to check out things on-line so you don't have to traipse around endless large halls getting foot weary .....

I did find a fascinating exhibition of double basses though.

Nah. Just kidding. It was mind-numbingly boring and just made you want to put your head down.

We'll be going back to London a few more times though so, when the Old Girl isn't working we'll visit the art galleries.
Decent art doesn't replicate well on computer screens so you just have to see it in real life to appreciate colours, technique, form etc.

We stayed in a B&B in South Kensington (Yah-hoo-Henry country),

owned by an eccentric nutter. It was pretty good but she insisted on plying us with drink (rare and excellent Scotch) when we came home in the evenings after a night out drinking wine. Whew! Hard work.

When out having a glass of wine at a quaint pub at Blackfriars we found the Wine Guy outside.

I don't know why he was drinking outside as it was raining - maybe they kicked him out.

Saturday, 12 September 2015


My printer exploded when I plugged it in a couple of weeks ago.

This was because it was purchased in Canada and the Canucks use different electrickery to UK.
I had to buy a new printer here and believe me it hasn't been without its problems.

As we don't have a car, when buying larger items that I can't carry on my bike we order on line and have them delivered. I ordered a Brother printer and scanner and waited. And waited days. A week after I'd ordered a printer arrived. Not the one I ordered but a printer nevertheless. It was an Epson. The Brother I ordered cost 49 quid. The Epson, as per the website was worth 200 quid.I should have kept it but, instead rang the supply company and arranged a swap. I waited. I waited several days. A driver turned up to collect the Epson but hadn't brought the replacement.
I rang the company again who told me that they have to receive the item to be swapped back into store first before a replacement could be sent.
By this time I was getting a bit short tempered. I said if I'd known that I would have kept the effing Epson and they wouldn't have been the wiser.
I was promised my printer within two days.
After another week I contacted them again and got the same crap about exchange policy etc (even though it was them who stuffed up the order.
Three days later the printer arrived. Today.

I've spent the best part of the day trying to get the bloody thing to work off my Apple laptop. It won't work via a USB cable which by the way wasn't supplied with the printer and I had to go and buy one for 10 quid!
It won't work via WiFi. It won't bloody work from the Apple computer I use for work.
All recourse to on-line help assistance was to no avail.

Frustrated I felt like chucking the effing thing.

I dug out the old Compaq laptop (which is the only one that I can blog on) and set it up using the supplied disc and it is actually now working.
For any work stuff I do on the Apple I'll have to transfer (risking data corruption) to the Compaq in order to print.

Welcome to the modern world.

Monday, 7 September 2015


" `I have been here before,' I said; I had been there before; first with Sebastian more than twenty years ago on a cloudless day in June, when the ditches were creamy with meadowsweet and the air heavy with all the scents of summer; it was a day of peculiar splendour, and though I had been there so often, in so many moods, it was to that first visit that my heart returned on this, my latest."

Yes for you literary types, that's from the opening of the great Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited, describing Charles Ryder's rediscovery of  'Brideshead', during WW2.

The house used as 'Brideshead', was Castle Howard in Yorkshire which we visited on the weekend.

What a grand place - the house, the gardens, the estate and out-buildings - marvelous.
It's so nice visiting a place for the first time that you've known through film and or literature and to be not disappointed.

We took a bus from York to Castle Howard (it used to have its own railway station but that was closed down in the 1950's) and spent most of the day there seeing how the other half live.

The other half incidentally, the Howards, are in a bit of turmoil. We were there on Saturday and on Sunday the papers had headline reports of a coup at castle Howard. The incumbent and his wife have been given the heave-ho by his older brother and his wife and have to move out.

We saw no evidence of anyone being thrown from the ramparts or being drowned in the fountains but I guess the aristocracy handle things a bit differently that when they first stole accepted patronage of lands and possessions.

Friday, 4 September 2015


In past ages it was the bandits who held up trains to get the cash.

Nowadays it's the train companies who are doing the robbing. Bastards.

In UK like in many other countries enlightened lazy politicians have sold off state owned assets to private enterprise in the belief (that is beggared) that this will be better for the consumer and the public purse. Railway is clearly a case where the exercise is a bloody rort. After having laid off thousands of workers who now are a burden on the taxpayer the private enterprise train companies cut back on services, jack up the price of travel and stick their hands out for government rebates. Bastards (did I say that already?)

Virgin Train (part of that fancy billionaires empire) is one of them, now making lots of dosh for shareholder, dosh that could and should be going to the most important shareholders - the public.

On the recent long weekend we went to Oxford where I was helping out at a wine and food festival. This was a bit of a washout as it was cold and rained for 2 of the 3 days - our first taste of an 'English Summer'.
I made the bookings on-line, down to Oxford Saturday morning at 7.30 and back from Oxford on Monday evening at 6.30. I must have had a 'senior moment' as I didn't notice the 24 hour time they use. When we arrived at Oxford station on Monday we were told that we'd missed the train as it left at 6.30 AM.
They wouldn't let us board the train that was there (even though it had empty seats) and we had to buy more tickets. 196 pounds worth of extra tickets. This is roughly 440 NZD.

Makes me want to take up train robbing.


I like John Oliver. His retakes of the news are insightful and very funny. Have a look via the link below at his latest review of Facebook...