Friay Musings

Well it’s been an “interesting” week in Politics but I don’t really have the energy to go into the Tutition fees row. Suffice to say, if I had lots of fees to pay when I was considering going to Uni I would like to say I would still have gone but probably would have felt ever so slightly more guilty when missing a lecture on a Tuesday lunchtime (and all succeeding lectures) due to being down Bar One.

And as for Hutton well I think it was a whitewash and couldn’t believe the smugness of the government, especially John Reid on Radio Five Live when he likened the BBC’s coverage akin to Nazi propaganda… (allegedly, I would need to see the transcript to remember the exact words.) All I hope for is that the BBC can be strong in this and continue to offer impartial journalism (as it did during the Iraq war) without the interference of the government, which quite honestly no-one wants. Anyway people moan about the license fee but we forgot how bad TV and Radio would be in this country without it – a small price to pay for quality broadcasting in my opinion.

So the whitewash (meteorologically speaking) appears to have gone as quickly as it came. The country seemed very wet, grey and miserable as I travelled from Reading to Sheffield.

Oh yeah, last night ate at a great pie shop in Reading. It’s apparantly an institution but I’d never been there. Now maybe I am proper resident of the ‘great’ town ;-). Sweeney Todd is the place and they have a ridiculously long list of pies that the lady orates once and once only so make sure you listen attentively! They also do great real ale and sticky English puddings (I mean how can you choose between Treacle Tart, Strawberry Cheesecake, Bread and Butter pudding easily) Pure unadultered stodge is great on a cold January evening (and a session to the gym to burn it away too!)

Finally I have a Guestmap (link on the right) so if you come here from anywhere interesting (or Manchester) then you should put a pin in the map! I expect 5 by the end of the year…. (oh, and yes I am redesigning things a little so hopefully I can make tings a little bit cleaner around here!)

Cold? Not here.

If I had believed the gospel of the weather forecasters over the last week, I would be currently wearing about 10 layers of clothes, stockpiling food, checking the butane and the torch batteries incase of power cuts and only leaving the house if completely necessary.

Yes we were promised “cold” weather and everyone seems to have been talking about it like it’s the next ice age. But no, I have seen no sight of woolly mammoths striding down the road or sabre-toothed tigers attacking the neighbours cat. My outdoor thermometer (yes, i know!) tells me it’s 2.9c outside my window.

That is not particularly cold.

Ok maybe we will get some snow down here tomorrow but nothing like they have made it out to be like. One positive is we won’t have the fiasco of last year when they somehow forgot it may be cold and icy in January and didn’t grit the roads!

Update (29/1/04) : Ok ok. It snowed here last night for about an hour which appears to have caused chaos! We also got lightning, the times said “Much of the South East experienced the snow and, in places, thunder, lightning and hail were spotted together – the first time the combination has been seen since 1973.” Was pretty impressive. Anyway the thermometer dropped to -2.9 at midnight last night so it was cold. The worst thing is the icy snow which meant I had to walk to work rather than cycling. Still not that “cold” though…

Films On Demand

Fresh from the successful download from bleep last week. I have discovered another couple of ways to reduce my excessive consumption of multimedia!

#1 – It’s called a library… You go along and you can take up to 15 books away for free. You can keep them for up to three weeks. It’s a revelation, every town should have one. Anyway more seriously, I used to be a regular library user and abuser but recently I’ve been buying books and I blame it all on Mr. Amazon. Anyway, Reading Libraries allow you to do everything online. My local library is tiny but lo and behold, I can search for books by ISBN and get them sent over to my library for free. They also have wishlists and stuff which is cool.

#2 –… Well why spend 15 pounds on a DVD when you can register here and get DVDs sent through the post. You register, search the 12000 dvds and make a sort of wish-list, then they send you the first 3 on your list through the post. Then when you’ve watched one of them, you drop it back in the post (freepost) and they send you the next one in your list. So I’m trying it out for 14 days for free so I’ll let you know if it works! There are loads of rivals but this is 15 quid a month for 3-at-a-time. I’ve picked a few classics, some anime, the lord of the rings and 24 series 1. Not sure when I’m going to watch them but that is one of the joys of laptops on Virgin Trains (plug sockets included!)

There are some things I can’t stop consuming though. Reading the Guardianevery morning (the print version not online) is great – I’d find that very very hard to stop!

London New Year

Continuing the theme of a quiet January, I spent the weekend chilling out with Jess in Reading and London. On Sunday we headed into London to catch the Chinese New Year (Year of the Monkey if you have been celebrating with Beagle 2).

Apart from thousands of other people trying to see the chinese dragon progress down the street – trailed by the less than customary camcorder and digital camera brigade, there were stalls selling drums and firecrackers and all manner of Chinese items. The only problem was that London’s Chinatown is pretty central, consists of only 1 main street and therefore the atmosphere was a bit chaotic for my liking. 🙂

So we ended up at the Natural History Museum where there is a fantastic exhibition outside (so check the weather) called Earth from the Air which I would thoroughly recommend. The photographs, all taken by helicopter over many years, tell a tale of world of both beauty and suffering. It really is impressive and free (as are all the museums around this area). Parts of the Natural History museum are fantastic (however the section on the human body must be 15-20 years old – like going back to a museum in my childhood.) After a brief trip to the V+A we walked along to High Street Kensington and a “World Themed” restauarant called Giraffe. The place was aimable enough, maybe a little over-friendly. When we left every member of staff must have said goodbye (sorry… goodbye ‘guys’) about half a dozen times each! Better than being ignored completely I suppose (well we aren’t in France are we)…

Looping up to Notting Hill and back to Paddington – it’s amazing just how “close” everything is in London if you take a little time out to walk around (well maybe not so close but the buses are always full)..

Having amassed a few gigabytes worth of photos since I got my digital camera about 9 months ago, decided to try one of the many online photo development sites where you simply upload your photos, choose the size, pays your money and wait eagerly at the letterbox every morning for the items to drop through. I used ofoto owned by Kodak. I uploaded a few photos from Edinburgh (you can see them here – yes Jess did get stuck in a door! The evidence is here for all to see. Sorry Jess) – and yes, the pictures have arrived today after 2 days and are great quality. They cost 15p a pop (+99p postage) but you can choose your best photos so it probably works out cheaper!

Oh and you can get a mug done for 6.99! [Other recommended ones are Boots, Bonusprint, Photobox. Haven’t tried em myself so let me know the results.]