Friday, June 30, 2006

what are you up to this weekend?

We're having glorious sunny weather here at the
moment, just how I like it, not too hot and
occasional cloud to give a bit of shade from time
to time. It got too hot mid-afternoon, in my top
floor study... it was 27 deg C even with the
window open, so I didn't spend much time on the
In fact I walked into town twice yesterday, which
is unusual for me. I went to a computer club, which
sounds rather dull, but there was a good
presentation all about some of the more
interesting things to do with Word, for example,
creating a newsletter with columns and text boxes.
The guy running it was so enthusiastic (as were
his audience, that his demo and discussion
over-ran by 90 minutes.
I returned home at lunchtime, to be there for
when Dave the electrician came round about putting
up lighting up in the loft. We're going to have
he loft area "floor-boarded" soon, so we can
store more stuff up there, as you do. I won't
bore you with the rest of what I did yesterday.

Mrs C and I are driving down to London today,
to spend the weekend with our daughter, L, who
lives in South Wimbledon. This is some distance
away from "Wimbledon", so I'm hoping the
traffic is not to bad. Her partner is coming
back from Singapore, this weekend to spend
the coming week with her - he's a high-flying
senior salesperson with a computer software
company, so we're looking forward to seeing them
So, what are you up to this weekend?

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Broadband & how do you clean your specs?

This is my last bit of news about the Broadband
service with Carphone Warehouse. I phoned up CW this
morning (the number is 0800 049 1005, by the way),
and had a chat with one of their salesmen. He said
I would have to have to be a current customer of BT
(British Telecom). He suggested I sign up to BT
Option One for the short term ... I found out later
that this had an 18 month minimum contract. There is
a phone-only service similar to NTL’s, for £11.50 a
month, but I couldn’t see online what the minimum
length of contract was.
He also said that I would need a more modern computer
than the one I’m using, to run the CW software. Mine
is pre-Pentium. I told him that this machine was OK
for running NTL Broadband, but he said again that I’d
need a modern Pentium one. Our existing wireless
router is OK (he wasn’t bothered about which type it
was, or that our router used Ethernet cables).
I don’t intend buying a new machine just yet. Hopefully
a price war will develop between the main ISP providers,
and BB prices will come down.

How do you clean your specs?
Well, I asked my optician recently how he cleaned up
clients’ spectacles. He said he used a bit of Fairy
Liquid with some running water, and then dried them
with a clean tea-towel. I now keep my specs much
cleaner than before. I knew someone in the past,
whose specs were constantly filthy – his lenses were
greasy and cloudy. I often wondered how much he saw
through them.

Monday, June 26, 2006

the footie

Well, I've said already that I'm not a huge footie
fan. However Mrs C and I enjoyed watching the
England v Ecuador and the Portugal v Holland matches
yesterday, while munching crisps, and drinking some
wine and low alcohol beer - how decadent. Thoughts
of times in the distant past when the Romans used to
watch their games. A fab goal from Beckham and
brilliant play from Rooney. The second match was more
lively and faster - apart from the excessive number
of fouls and a card-happy ref, I thought it was
What do you think England's chances are of beating
Portugal next Saturday?

I'm posting a photo of our main flower border - one
of the marguerites is slightly over-exposed, but
otherwise, I'm very pleased with the photo. I'm
thinking about re-installing Quicktime to see if
that sorts out the slight probem I'm having with my
photo display software.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Loggerheads and the Shire Hall

If you're interested in signing up to a cheaper
broadband (BB) service with Carphone Warehouse, you
could have a look at Edt's helpful comments in the
last Comments box. I had a chat with a couple of my
chums on Friday, in the Loggerheads Pub after our
guitar session. Both are on NTL cable like me, and
both are happy to stay with NTL, as they've had
excellent service from it. One commented that he
didn't mind paying twice as much for his BB service
- twice as much as BB with Carphone W, which
surprised me, as he's a pensioner like me. Oh well,
the phrase, "you get what you pay for", springs to
mind (as BB with CW has its limitations).
The Loggerheads on Cliff Road in Nottm looks as
interesting place.... it was built in the 1700s
according to my friends, and has old beer cellars/
caves into the sandstone rock (common to other old
pubs in the area and Nottm Castle also). The area
used to be known as Narrow Marsh, and was one of the
bad slum areas in Nottingham. All the old housing was
cleared in the 1930s, and drab council housing was
built there instead - only the old pub remains, in
spitting distance of the old prison of Nottingham,
Shire Hall. They used to hang people just outside
the Shire Hall in the old days, just by the main
entrance on High Pavement, in the presence of huge
crowds of onlookers.
My friends knew the Loggerheads as a real ale pub
with folk evenings 20-30 years ago, and it had a
skittle alley. Currently the new management is
giving it a new look, with live music on Friday
nights and pub food too. The spicy tomato soup was
very nice, as was the John Smith bitter.
The Shire Hall is one of the main tourist
attractions in Nottm - now called the Galleries of
Justice - well worth a visit, if you like to feel
what it was like to be a prisoner in the old days, and
to see the original courtroom. I've found a website
showing a little video of what one of the prison
cells looks like - brilliantly lit - ideal for
student accommodation... just put up a few posters
on the wall and add a hi-fi and a large could
be a trendy place to live. :)

Friday, June 23, 2006

new banner and Broadband charges

Some of you may have noticed a slight change in my
banner photo. The last one looked fuzzy on my new
19" monitor, and when I checked its pixel content,
I was surprised to find it was only about 13KB. The
new one is 27KB, which was the largest size I could
get from a 126KB photo. I couldn't remember which
font I used on the last banner, but I think this one,
Lucida Sans, looks good.

Over several months, I've been badgering NTL to give
me a discount on its 1MB Broadband service. The
standard rate is about £18 a month. I got them down
to about £16 a month, but currently they've offered
me £9.99 for the next 6 months. I've had a few bills
with the old higher rate on, but I've phoned them
from time to time to correct that.

I'm thinking about going for a cheaper Broadband +
phone service from Carphone Warehouse, but I've
recently set up a wi-fi system linked to the NTL modem,
for a wireless link to Mrs C's laptop, using a
Linksys Wireless Router (WRT54G). My old computer
(pre-Pentium running Win 98) had to have an ethernet
connection put in, to link it up to the new router.
We have an ancient BT connection to our house to one
point downstairs in the kitchen, so I reckon we'd
need a telephone engineer to rewire our house, to
get a BT phone connection upstairs to the top floor
study. So I've got a few technical queries to get
advice on, before we proceed wiring? new
router? new computer tower?. Do we have to switch
over to BT Broadband for a year or so, so we can get
BT to sort out the wiring, before we could switch
over to CW?
The lad I spoke to in Nottm Carphone Warehouse some
time ago knew all about tariffs for various Talk
Talk packages, but had little technical knowledge.
He said that CW would simply post a new modem to us,
for us to set up ourselves.
So if you have gone ahead and set up the new broadband
service from CW, I'd be very interested to hear from
you. If there is a users' forum, I'd like to have its
URL, please.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Spring colours and Baby M

I spent most of yesterday morning in town, doing
bits and bobs, mainly food shopping. I bought myself
a new navy blue shirt from M & S as all my blue
shirts are getting badly frayed (and should be lobbed).
Yes, I have to admit I'm a boring M & S man when it
comes to buying clothes, though I have bought some
nice stuff from John Lewis, including my favourite
pair of trousers - a pale green-slate grey pair of
chinos. I go for the smart casual look, and tend to
avoid wearing shorts/short sleeves so as to disguise
my thinness.
A good many years ago, I had my "colours" done by Ann
Martin in Nottingham - and discovered that I'm a
"Spring" in terms of what colours look good next to
my skin. For many years before that, I'd been wearing
colours that didn't suit me at all .... winter colours
such as pure white and black, and autumn colours - like
the autumn leaf colours, that all made me look ill. I
look a lot better in the warmer Spring colours, such as
cream and warm pinky reds, but oddly enough navy blue,
which looks really classy. I've got a lovely navy blue
suit, which I look great in. Unfortunately Mrs C now
dislikes it, so I rarely wear it.

I enjoyed doing a bit of baby-sitting yesterday
afternoon - I looked after my great nephew, Baby M,
for the best part of an hour, and later on I took
lots of photos of him. He's now 10 weeks old and
looks gorgeous - his skin is much improved (far less
spotty), and he's now smiling and laughing.
Here's one of my photos of him...

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

the World Cup, the dentist and the car

Did you enjoy the England-Sweden footie match this
evening? Neither Mrs C or I usually watch the World
Cup, but this time we're watching a lot more -
there's some really fabulous football.
I've been recommended to watch Argentina in action,
and I'm already impressed with Holland's performance,
so I'll certainly be watching their match tomorrow.

I visited my dentist this morning and had a couple
of fillings renewed ... came out with a very numb
lower jaw and lower lip, which felt like a lump of
rubbery jelly... not part of me at all. The weather
was very nice so I had a good walk there and back
(one and a half hours).

Our car is playing up at the moment ... a car
electrican came round to have a look at the faulty
ignition and jammed door lock (on the driver's side).
He did several tests with various ammeters &
voltmeters and diagnosed a faulty starter motor,
which will need replacing. He treated the door lock
with some WD40 spray, by sticking the key slightly
into the lock, and then giving it a good squirt of WD40
... why didn't I think of that??? It took him 10 days
to come out to see the car, (as he's in such demand),
and he charged £35.25 for about 10 minutes' work...
not a bad rate of pay, eh?
Do we really need this car ... full service, MOT, new
starter motor and £175 in Road Tax coming up before
the end of this month? I recently paid £93 for a new
super-dooper wing mirror and a handbrake adjustment.
If we ever sell the old banger, I may advertise it as;
"Nearly new wing mirror, with car. Offers please."

Monday, June 19, 2006

For I bring you good news

Yes, it's a baby. Our daughter L. phoned us this
morning to say that the scan showed just one tiny
baby (not two, thank God). She told us yesterday
that it's about the size of a baked bean, and that
the heart (seen beating today) is the size of a
poppy seed. Funny to think of all of us being as
small as a baked bean at some time ... not far off
60 years ago for me!

As regards the lovely bunch of white roses that
Mrs C and L bought for me on Saturday (for Father's
Day), I've taken several photos of the roses, and
I'm posting the pick of the bunch. Not a perfect
photo in my mind, but they do look lovely.

I think it odd that the aristos who started the War
of the Roses picked a red and a white rose as their
emblems for the years of death and destruction they
embarked on .... all those feelings of envy/greed/
anger/hatred/revenge by power-crazy individuals...
just like modern times.

Whose side did they think God was on, I wonder? I
imagine God was on neither side, that is if God did
truly say to Moses, "Thou shalt not kill".

If Moses or for that matter Jesus were alive at
present, would they be carted off to hospital and
sectioned under the Mental Health Act? Or perhaps if
the duty psychiatrist thought they were only mildy
delusional and of no harm to themselves or others,
they might be put on a mild dose of an anti-psychotic
drug and asked to come along to Outpatients for review?

Sorry but I'm starting to ramble myself (or some
might say blaspheming).

Sunday, June 18, 2006

More camera review sites

Here are a couple more camera review sites
recommended by Edt in my comments box...
Digital Camera Resource Page and
Steve's Digicams. Thanks, Edt.

I'm trying out an idea of labelling Word/Excel
documents and photos by using the date as a pre-fix,
and writing it in an odd way. Today's date would
be written as 060618, and tomorrow's as 060619. So
if you're looking at a folder full of documents,
and are wondering where the hell is your last letter
to so-and-so, you'll be able to pick it out more "060618 Email to Jim". I've heard
that the BBC use this method.

family get-together

Our daughter L. from London is staying with us this
weekend, so when we're not chatting, I've been
doing bits of veg preparation, washing up (which
was silly of me as we've got a dishwasher used for
when there are more than 2 of us), and spending time
on the computer.
R., one of our Nottm-based daughters joined us
yesterday afternoon, and as both the girls are
pregnant, there was a lot of talk about pregnancy
and baby things. Later on, Mrs C's mum joined us for
our early evening meal - delicious lentil rissoles
and mint sauce (made by Mrs C) and piles of green
veg, carrots and new potatoes steamed by me. Oh yes,
I've just remembered, we treated ourselves to some
strawberries and cream in the afternoon too.

Mrs C and L went shopping for the fruit and brought
back some white roses and a type of lily for Father's
Day (pour moi). I've yet to unwrap a pressie from R
(it looks like a bottle of wine), and I've already
sampled some beer bought by E, our eldest daughter.

Here's a lily photo I took a couple of days ago...

Friday, June 16, 2006

cola and cameras

There was an item on BBC Radio 4 this morning,
which was all about how to create an explosive
fountain of cola by adding a Mento sweet to it.
It's said to be a prank used by schoolkids to
surprise their friends, taking photos of them
with their camera phones the moment it explodes.

Well here is a link to some video footage of a BBC
reporter trying this out with some kids.

A word of caution ... you mustn't drink cola while
eating a Mento sweet.

This video will probably be online for the next 5-6
days only, and you may need to download Real Player
to be able to see it. As you may know, a version of
Real Player can be downloaded free of charge via the website.

For anyone thinking about buying a new digital camera,
I can recommend two camera review sites to you... and

As regards the dpreview site, if you click on the
“in depth review” for certain cameras, you will see
an 11 page review with specifications, how it operates,
and comparisons with other cameras of its type.

Howard Creech writes very good reviews of cameras on
the eopinions site.

I spent ages looking at these sites before going
online to buy my Canon Digital Rebel DSLR 350,
comparing its performance with other cameras of the
same quality. Below is another Cromer photo, taken at
sunset on the beach. I managed to include a father
and son who were taking photos at the same time.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Another good day

Well I had a fun day today. I was out in the morning
to my computer club, which was followed by wine
tasting (at the U3A) ... we managed to get through
about a third of a bottle of wine each. Then we all
walked/staggered down to Punchinello's for lunch and
more chat - I had a swordfish steak served with new
potatoes, wild rocket and a fresh basil sauce - very
nice but lacking in veg for me.

Got home at about 3pm after a little food shopping,
and then carried on working on a website I've been
revamping. Later on I joined Mrs C to watch the last
30 mins of the England-Trinidad&Tobago match - some
excellent footie with two brilliant goals.
After this I made a tofu stir-fry, one of my better-
ones, and more TV viewing - we getting back into
watching New Street Law again, followed by the last
half hour of House - I half-watched this while
doing the washing up....not quite multi-tasking,
more like double-tasking - the TV is in another room.

Back on the computer again while Mrs C watched
Desperate Housewives. Then I caught a little mouse
with Mrs C's help and let it go outside in the street
- one of our cats had brought it into the house and
had it cornered in our dining room. Put on a wash in
the washing machine and then back to the computer
aagain. Just been downstairs to switch the video
machine off (recording a new episode of Sugar Rush -
a brilliant lesbian dark comedy). It's now 11.50pm and
I'm about to have a search for another Cromer photo
for you.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

walkers on the beach

I hope you can see enlargements of the photos I'm
posting. Ever since I uninstalled Real Player
(which I subsequently re-installed), my photo
software has been playing up. I re-installed both
the Canon and the Olympus camera software with no
improvement .. I'm still seeing photos in a very
old software program (MGI Suite), which is not as
good. Anyway, the view below is of a couple of
walkers on Cromer beach, taken in the late evening
I'm sitting in front of a new computer monitor. It
arrived on time today, and I spent about an hour or
so setting it up, fiddling around with the controls
to adjust the brightness, and putting on a larger
sized photo on the Desktop. It's an Acer AL1922 19"
TFT, which has a high spec. Fabulous colour. I'm
very pleased.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The (allegedly) broken laptop

Some of you may not have heard the story about
a student (Amir) who allegedly sold a broken
laptop on eBay, and how the buyer got his
revenge, by publishing on Blogger a lot of
stuff that Amir had left on the hard drive.

I read this story in The Independent about
ten days ago, and did a Google search to find
out more this morning.

Here's the links (May and June) to the Blogger
site that's had over 3 million hits so far. I
gather that the buyer had used Amir's email
list to publicise the website, and so news of
all this spread like wildfire. I also found this
forum, in which people voice their opinions
about the rights and wrongs of the actions of
the seller and buyer, and about who owns the
copyright of the indecent photos.
It seems that the laptop wasn't broken, but
that Amir had misrepresented its specifications
Half-way down the May Blogger page are some
interesting quotes from Amir's CV, saying what
an honest guy he is, and how repectful he is
towards women. Amir maintains that he is the
victim here, and that all the photos, etc, are
a complete fabrication on the buyer's part.
Who is telling the truth?

To return to my Cromer photos, I took the next
one with my wife's camera (hand-held), looking
down from the lighthouse towards Cromer. I took
this photo later in the week.

Royal visits to Nottingham

I thought I’d comment here, rather than in the
comments box, with a few thoughts about loos
and Royal visits.

As regards royal visits, I remember one visit
the Queen and the Duke paid to Nottingham
University, sometime in the 1980s. One of her
ladies-in-waiting paid a visit beforehand to
advise the University on Royal loo requirements,
following which someone went to John Lewis (one
of the UK’s finest department stores) in
Nottingham to get some new white cotton hand
towels for the occasion. I don't know what
brand of soap or bog roll were requested -
possibly a state secret. I often wondered what
ladies-in-waiting did these days – now we know.

I've done a Google search to check out the
Queen’s visits to Nottingham, and found a long
list of places she and other family members
visited one day in 1999. This included her
popping in to Nottingham’s Broadmarsh Centre
for a few minutes first thing in the morning.
I can’t imagine what she was doing there. I
wonder if she felt tempted to check out what
goodies she could buy for a pound, or if she
wanted to do a bit of pre-Xmas shopping? At
the end of the day she and the Duke were at
the opening of the Millenium Dome in London.
(What a waste of money, that was, the Dome I

Andrea’s comment about what a crap post my
last one was, reminds me of a funny slip of the
tongue I made yesterday. I’ve been busy revamping
a website, and I told Mrs C that I’d been working
all morning on a webshite … not an original
thought, however, as I’ve found doing a Google
search just now.

I’ll finish by posting one of my Cromer photos.
The lighthouse in Cromer is not very exciting to
look at, but the views from it are brilliant. Mrs C
and I were staying nearby. I walked one evening from
the lighthouse down the coastal path into town, on
a photo-shoot. I’ll post a few more shots of my walk
this week.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

A few thoughts about poo

A few thoughts about poo for you. I’ve thought
for some years that the makers of high-fibre
cereals must be in league with the toilet paper
manufacturers. I’ll spare you the messy details,
but my use of bog roll has doubled or trebled
since I went onto a high-fibre diet.

I wonder when toilet paper came into general
use? What did ancestors of the Royal Family
use before Izal toilet paper came on the scene
... something to clean up the Royal poo and the
Royal wee?

I wonder if one of the toilet paper manufacturers
applied to use the logo, “By Appointment to Her
Majesty The Queen”? Perhaps we were not amused?

An ex-boyfriend of one of my sisters, who was
of Arabic origin, said that in his home country,
he used to carry a small bottle of water in one
of his pockets, to wash himself with by hand
after having a poo. When you think about it, the
millions of people who are desperately poor and
facing starvation, won’t be thinking about going
to their nearest shop to get a roll of Andrex.
And so here is an obvious reason why diarrhoeal
illness and deaths are so common in poorer

I heard one good preventative measure for
avoiding getting diarrhoea when travelling in
India, and that was to drink tea. Boiling the
drinking water helps kill off the germs.

I’ve had my fair share of diarrhoeal illness
in the past, including spending one week ill in
bed in London (when I was on holiday), after
shaking hands with a relative who had just
recovered from a Salmonella infection. I was so
ill, I could hardly get out of bed. So I’m not
keen to travel to third world countries, where
I’m more likely to get infected again.

Here's something you might find amusing...
I’ve found that massaging my lower back while
having a poo, speeds up the whole process.
Try doing some downward strokes, down the
spine in your lower back (lumbo-sacral area),
when you next go to the loo, and let me know
if this works for you. I imagine that the
Chinese may have discovered this a few
millennia ago, but I haven’t read about it or
heard about it before. If you think about the
pleasant effect of massaging yourself in the
genital area, it’s not surprising that
massaging your lower back might affect the
rectal area.

Those of you who are anal types like me .. the
name “computer nerd” or “blogger” sounds better,
doesn’t it... might like to work out how many
hours you spend each year having a crap. I
reckon I spend about 30 hours ... what a waste
of time.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Back from hols

Hi everyone. I'm back from a glorious week's
break on the Norfolk coast. We had fab sunny
weather, though the wind off the sea was
"bracing" earlier in the week. We went on
longish walks most days, around the coast and
around three National Trust properties... and
the holiday complex we stayed at had a good
swimming pool.
We took some good photos. Unfortunately I didn't
take my camera battery charger - I thought two
charged Canon lithium batteries would be ample,
but I used them up by last Monday! Luckily,
Mrs C took her Canon A520 which was very handy.
One of my Canon batteries lasted me our entire
holiday in Mallorca.

While on holiday, I read through a couple of
excellent photography books by Bryan Peterson
... "Understanding Exposure" and "Learning to
See Creatively" (bought from Amazon recently).
I can now understand why my previous digital
camera, the Olympus C5060 which had a wide-
angle lens, was brilliant in terms of getting
a good depth of focus. I'll post a few holiday
photos this coming week.
Great to be back to home comforts, and blogging. :)

Friday, June 02, 2006

having fun today

What a glorious warm sunny day! One of those
days when it feels great to be alive, or to
rephrase that.. I felt great to be alive today.

In the morning I walked over to the other side
of town (Lenton), to meet up with a couple of
friends for a jam session - playing electric
guitar, and singing along to a few Bob Dylan
numbers, and more recent stuff. I have to admit
that I can't play as well as my friends, but
they seem to put up with my poorer playing. I
was never a big fan of Dylan apart from liking
a few classics like "Blowing in the Wind" and
"Tamborine Man", but my chums know a lot of his
repetoire. They've introduced me to a fab song,
"If you see her say Hello", which I'm singing in
my head right now .... it's my favourite.

Later on we went to a pub nearby, for soup and
a pint of Timothy Taylor's "Landord" bitter -
excellent stuff. We spent an hour or two there,
just chatting. All this followed by a bit of
food shopping in town (Tesco), a walk home, and
pottering around until about 10pm, when Mrs C
and I watched the final part of TV drama, "A Line
of Beauty", where the main (gay) character's life
is turned upside down by a series of events - AIDs
and homophobia in the 80s. We thought it was an
excellent production.

We're off to Cromer tomorrow for a week's holiday,
so I'll "talk" to you soon. Tatty-bye. :)

PS.. the Blogger clock is not very accurate. I
posted this at 00.30hrs on June 3rd, and I set
the Blogger time for the UK's GMT, some time ago.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

good and bad news

First the good news. Our second daughter in
London who's having IVF treatment has found
out she's pregnant. She had her blood HCG
level checked this morning, and the lab
phoned her later to tell her the good news.
The bad news is that our fourth daughter
phoned us in tears last night to say that
she's separating from her (female) partner,
after being together for 4 years. We met them
both in London for a short time a few days ago,
when they both seemed somewhat subdued. I felt
shocked and had a horrible feeling at stomach
level when I heard this news. I'm very fond
of her ex and feel sad for them both. Oh dear.