Monday, November 29, 2010

The International Space Station

I invite you to have a look at this amazing video ... it's a guided tour
of the ISS. The view below is of the cockpit of the US Space Shuttle.

For a full screen version of this video, simply click on the icon with 4
arrows inside it, just below the video. To go back to the smaller screen view,
press the Esc (Escape) key on your keyboard.

So this is further evidence that the Earth is not as flat as a pancake, as some would have us believe.

Sunday, November 28, 2010


We're having a cold spell in the UK here at present, which the forecasters
are saying could last several weeks ... so we might have a White Christmas
for a change! Yippee!

We had a light snowfall here in the East Midlands, but parts of Scotland
and North-East England have had much heavier snowfalls resulting in the
usual school-closures and problems on the roads. We'll be getting the
usual moans about the inadequacy of local councils' snow-clearing
arrangements, but with successive annual cutbacks in council spending,
clearing snow is not top of the list of spending priorities for any
council. So the misery for some motorists, etc, will be an ongoing

In previous years, I owned a large Land Rover, partly for my practice
use, as I thought it would be ideal for home visits in the snowy weather.
This idea turned out to be of little use in a city environment, as I just
got stuck behind other motorists!

I sometimes wonder why people chose to live in or retire to the country,
as there would be times in the year when they get cut off by snow and ice,
and be badly affected by power cuts, poor mobile phone coverage, and long
distances to get any medical help (especially out of hours).

Last Spring, we had a lovely holiday in North Devon, with one of our
daughters and her family. Unfortunately, Little A developed a bad ear
infection, and we spent one evening travelling 20+ miles there and back
to the nearest hospital, to get some antibiotic treatment for her. We did
see the local GP, but she didn't have a starter sachet of amoxycillin for
her (something I thought most GPs would have access to). Now imagine if
you were having to travel this sort of distance for hospital tests and
treatment, if you were elderly and without a car (and with minimal local
bus services too)?

I'll end with a couple of photos I took yesterday of our neighbourhood,
which has had a light dusting of snow (I took the first one at 7.30am)...



BTW, someone emailed Radio 4 this morning to say that the outside temperature
in Llandrindod Wells (mid Wales) was minus 17 deg. C ... Siberia!

Thursday, November 25, 2010


I've just posted some cute pics of two of our grandchildren onto my Flickr
site, if you wish to have a look ...

Here's one of Mini (which is her pet name, as you might have guessed already) ...


I think she'd look good in a Nativity play, but then I'm biased ... probably
all parents/grandparents think their kids should get the leading parts.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Fancy an e-book at bedtime, Darling?

I'm having a fairly relaxing time in London, chatting with the grown-ups
and playing with the children, Little M and her sister D, watching some
TV with them, going out occasionally to the local shops, and reading
through The Saturday Times, plus the usual eating, drinking
numerous cups of tea and a bit of washing up.

I mention that our preferred newspaper is The Times, though it is biased
towards the Tories. However, I find the news and opinion sections much
more readable than than similar coverage in The Guardian, its jumbo
crossword fairly easy though challenging at times to do (not the cryptic
version though), and its supplement on TV & Radio listings (plus films
reviews) much better. While I sometimes feel uneasy about the profits going to Rupert Murdoch (of News International), overall it is a good quality product.
Once in a blue moon, we buy the BBC Radio Times instead, for its better
TV and radio channel coverage.

You can now pay to read The Times online, but I prefer to watch the news
& weather bulletins on the telly (for free), or look online at the BBC website
for the same info (again free of charge), or to watch Andrew Marr's
political news show on a Sunday morning (as long as he's not interviewing
David Cameron or his side-kick George Osbourne). As regards more in-depth
political news coverage, I prefer to read it in print, as I would any novel ...
I don't really like the thought of reading something as long as War and Peace
in e-book format ... I don't fancy taking a computer screen into bed with me at night-time... I spend too much time looking at one during the day.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Visiting our family in London.

Mrs C and I are spending a few days with our daughter L. and her family
in London this weekend (we arrived at lunchtime today). I told L.
about a good promotional offer I'd seen on Martin Lewis' website,
a £5 voucher to spend at Curry's or PC World ... perhaps on a flash
drive or a computer mouse.

She replied by saying: "Well, that's your Christmas present sorted then!"

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Comprehensive Spending Review

We’ve received news from Nottingham City Council that hefty cuts in council
services over the next 4 years will be happening, as a result of the Lib-Con’s (Government’s) Comprehensive Spending Review. Cuts as high as 33% have been
forecast by our local council, with cuts as much as 12% suggested in year one
… see the link below for more info … following on from cuts of £37 million in spending in the past 3 years.

Our council says that 80% of its spending goes on adults and children, the
rest being spent on extras such as the Library Service, other leisure
services, street cleaning, etc..

So how are such massive savings going to be achieved? Mainly by further job
cuts and reducing services for all citizens, a lot of whom are less able to
pay for them.

There is no doubt that if a Labour government had been re-elected instead
of the Lib-Cons, that there would have been cuts imposed from central
government. What is really dreadful is the scale and speed of the
forthcoming cuts, which are about to hit us all. I think we’re in for a
winter (and summer) of discontent. The recent student protest in London
about proposed increases in student tuition fees (the new poll tax) is an
example of what’s to come.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Fanastic fireworks display in Nottingham


... as if.

I stood around on a cold November Saturday evening, waiting for the heavens
to light up, and there was bugger-all. (Pls excuse the bad language).

There were a few smaller displays, and after 30 minutes of standing around, I
motored off to be nearer one of them, only to find it had finished, and to see
hordes of people streaming back to their cars (like after a football match).
All this reminds me of a Biblical joke ... "And it came to pass ....
...... that nothing happened!".

Well I warn you that the joke was biblical.

Over the weekend, I cooked a delicious potato dish in our Remosksa (which is
a small electric cooker).


The recipe is based on one that Mrs C found in a Cranks (veggie) recipe book ...

... sliced potato (1kg), red onion, tomato, & garlic cloves, with very light covering of olive oil, S & P, dried basil & a few tsps of Balsamic vinegar,
baked in the Remoska for 60 mins ... delicious.

BTW, I covered the veg for 30mins with a circle of baking parchment paper,
to stop any burning of the top veg. This amount lasted the two of us two
days. On Day 1, we had a mushroom omelette and green veg with this. On Day 2,
we re-heated the potato for 15 mins, and then cooked some fresh haddock
(lightly oiled & seasoned) on top of the potato for 8 mins (turning the
fish over once).... fabulous.

Today, I did a 40 minute uphill walk through wind and rain to see my dentist.
I arrived feeling very wet (despite using my brolly). On the way there, I
managed to tread in some doggy-doo, which was hidden under some soggy leaves.
You probably know the feeling when you've trodden in some when it's been
raining ... your foot tends to slither along the pavement. Fortunately I was
wearing a very old pair of shoes .. the tread had been worn away .... so
the cleaning up job was very easy.

I had booked an early appointment to see my dentist as I'd lost one of my
fillings (lower left canine) ... it had shattered while munching my way
through an organic oatcake (with a bit of cheese on top) ... I crunched on
a bit of organic grit within the biscuit. Oh the joys of eating such
wholesome food, instead of filling up on highly refined stuff.

Much to my surprise, my dentist very kindly found time to do a dental check
and a scale & polish, all for the standard fee of £45.60 (not bad pay for
about 20 minutes work, I thought to myself ... with hindsight I should have
trained as a dentist ... far less to learn and keep up to date with, and
much better working hours)

.... I'm having a good ramble today.

After the dentist, I did a home visit to a friend who lives nearby, for his
biennial ear syringing ... his ears get completely blocked with wax every now
and then, much to his wife's annoyance as when watching TV, he has to have
the volume turned up to an eardrum-shattering level. When I'd successfully
shifted some of his earwax, he asked me not to shout as loud, as he said
he wasn't that deaf.

(My ears do block up with wax occasionally, but this happens about once every
six or seven years). I also sorted out a minor computer problem they were having,
after which I bussed it into town to buy a replacement electric coffee grinder
(how decadent is that?), and some green veg for tonight's meal.

We had more roasted veg this evening, together with a beanburger, cottage
cheese and some green veg as well ... our usual veggie mountain... followed
by posting this onto Blogger and watching some TV. The funniest programme on
was "The Good Life", re-enacted by Sue Perkins (comedienne) and Giles Coren
(foodie journalist)... I'm looking forward to seeing the next in the series.

"The Good Life" was one of the best BBC comedies of the Seventies ... here's
a link to one article on the series, if you never saw it ...
Mrs C and I did a bit of The Good Life in the Eighties, as I've mentioned in
previous posts, so we enjoyed seeing Sue and Giles getting to grips with
catching chickens and milking a goat, plus turning over a suburban garden to
growing some veg and fruit.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

A view of Weymouth Harbour

I thought you might like to see something I "painted" earlier today ....


Looks great, don't you think?

If you'd like to have a go at changing your photos using Gimp (free software),
have a look at my website .... just google two words: jwebdesigns and angelfire.

It's a glorious November day, sunny but rather cold. Great for taking a few photos
of tonight's fireworks, I'm thinking, so I'll be heading out mid-evening to see
if I can capture some of the fantastic colours. I haven't had much success in
previous years, but I've been reading some online articles on how best to do it.

We visited Little A and JJ and their parents at home yesterday, and shared a lovely
chocolate cheesecake with them (bought from Abel & Cole). R told us a funny story
about Little A. She popped her head round the door to see how A was getting on
with her crayoning. "Are you OK, darling?", to which A replied: "I'm fabulous."

Monday, November 01, 2010

Does changing the time really matter?

Last Sunday morning we all put our clocks forward back by an hour, and
as usual there was the usual media debate about all this. I checked it out
on the internet, and found this interesting article on the subject ...

I'd forgotten that back in 1968, a three-year experiment was started to
fix GMT at British Standard (Summer) time. It was found that northern
Scottish folk fared worse than those living further south, owing to
prolonged darkness in the mornings in winter, and there was a higher rate
of road accidents.

This morning our daughter L who lives in London, told us that her little
ones weren't used to the hour change yet. Little D is now waking at
4.30am instead of at 5.30am! Poor L!

I wonder how many mums and dads with very young children are going through
hell, at this moment in time?

BTW, Mrs C couldn't get off to sleep until 2am (new time) this morning,
and had a restless night's sleep too … the hour change is not helping her.

A few years ago, the incoming president of Venezuela announced that from
then on, Venezuela would fix its time half-way between winter and summer
time on a permanent basis. This is still the case.

What a brilliant idea, I thought at the time … so why haven't other
nations adopted this idea, I wonder? Let's stop messing around with our