Thursday Aug 16, 2007

Hot Stuff

Over the weekend, I went to the West Dean "Chilli Festival". I had no idea what a big industry chilli growing was in this country.


Pots of Chilli


West Dean is one of the top horticultural colleges in the UK and we were able to walk round their nurseries. There was a huge number of stalls many selling all kinds of food. So we had a great chilli con carne and less great burrito! (Hey, you promised not to do receipes in this blog!)

I bought one chilli plant home, to see if I can avoid killing it.


Sunday Jul 29, 2007

Finding my way with Schmap!

Schmapp, who publish browsable maps have been using a few of my pictures for a while, but have now created a widget which they are publicising via their contributors. I have contributed to their Amsterdam and Berlin maps and you can see the widgets in their photo display form if you press the [Read More] button below. These are almost certainly best viewed via HTML. However, the content of their maps is not customisable, nor does it  leverage the 'wisdom of crowds'. This latter failing suggests that it'll be overtaken by true web 2.0 applications such as google maps or plazes.


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Sunday Jul 01, 2007

Ruling the Waves

Hooray, I can now charter a yacht! As readers of my Plazes RSS stream know, I have been travelling around the south coast on a Yacht where I have been studying for my Day Skipper ticket, and I passed the exams yesterday.

We, (I and my co-students) sailed from Poole in Dorsetshire across Poole and Christcurch bay and then up the solent to the capital of sailing in the UK, Cowes, on the Isle of Wight where we moored up at the Folly Inn on the Medina and finished the day with Fish Pie and an Australian Cabernet/Shiraz. The trip across the bay was pretty rough but the Folly Inn is a great pub and has ample moorings. The following day we travelled onto Itchenor Reach in Chichester Harbour.


Sunset at Itchenor Reach, Chichester Harbour


The following day travelled back west to Portsmouth, home of the Royal Navy and then back in a 10 hour trip to Poole. We had some pretty stiff winds throughout the trip which was good, as it prepares us all for the worst

Our trusty boat was the Yacht Enigma, and I have posted my pictures within my flickr set “South Coast Sailing” and have both text tagged & geotagged them, plotted the journey at Google Maps.

If you want to do this yourself, see also this article entitled RYA Day Skipper, hosted on my bliki, or press the Read More link below.


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Saturday Jun 23, 2007


Down to Poole in Dorset very early this morning. I have finally got my act together to take the RYA Day Skipper course and spent the day learning to navigate using charts, pencil and paper. The maths reminds me of the boys' A-Level homework and although despite being geeky enough to look up the cosine rule, drawing scale models of the "triangles of velocity" is probably quicker :).

The weather was very changable, I wonder what the week will bring.


Wednesday Jun 06, 2007

More Holiday ideas?

What a busy week, but I have a day at home writing up today. So the first job is to throw away the weekend's papers! The Guardian's Travel section did an article on Britain's top beaches and I was interested to see that I have been to several of them including Shoreham, Shell Beach, Purbeck, Charmouth and Woolacombe. That still leaves plenty more to visit.  I also found while looking up these links a previously published 10 Coastal Walks article. I'll have to see what we can manage this summer.

I have put some of the other links into my list, which can be viewed at there or in the sidebar at this site.


Sunday Apr 22, 2007

Improving my mind

I'm have returned to California to attend Sun's top technology conference, and I shall be travelling on to Menlo Park and visit Sun's campus for the Sun Labs Open House. Once again, I have failed to improve my mind on the plane and instead of watching Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth", I watched "Shut up & Sing", a documentary about the Dixie Chicks. They are not a band I'd listened to before, but I did read about the furore created when they stated on stage that they didn't approve of all the policies being pursued by a certain American politician.

Sadly for them, the politician was George Bush and he was preparing to go to war in Iraq (in 2003); doubly sadly for them, they were a country band and the radio stations decided to drop them under right wing and fan pressure. One thing that came from my watching the documentary is that Natalie Maines who stated she was ashamed the President came from Texas is either brave or stubborn; despite being quoted as saying she's sorry, she isn't. The film is about what happened to the band and their management as a result of the boycott. However, in 2007, much of the world has caught up with her,  even in America.

I experienced a slight post modern moment, where they are discussing how to replace the radio as a form of popularising their new work, since the film made me want to listen to more of their music. I have no  doubt that their sound is based on all three of them and they're the second band I have come across recently with less common instruments. The violin is seeming to become an increasingly popular instrument in non classical music.

tags: ""

Friday Apr 13, 2007


I spent the weekend in Florence where I visited the Oltrarno and took this picture


The Rooftops of Firenze


We flew to Pisa and then took the train to Florence. The trains are nationalised, old and no longer run on time.

I'll upload the rest of the pictures to flickr when I get the time, this entry has been backdated to about the time I took the picture.


Monday Mar 26, 2007

Back in the USA

I have arrived in Palo Alto, after my flight since I am spending the week at Menlo Park for some readiness training. I wasn't feeling very intellectual, so instead of watching the Al Gore's polemic on the environment, "An Inconvenient Truth" I checked out Mitchell & Web, who you can see asking if any of the Nazi's Wermacht questioned the fascist imagary of the nazi state, and advertising Macs [See Charlie Brooker's comments at the Guardian...] all over the world, I then watched Tenacious D: the pick of destiny. This site needs the most recent flash and Jack Black swears a lot.

The journey was made more exciting by forgetting to move my clock forward and the worst queue for security I have ever seen, but I made the flight with a couple of minutes to spare.


Saturday Feb 24, 2007

Yesterday in the Guardian

Since it's the last weekend in February, the Guardian has  produced a special supplement on waking the garden up. Over the autumn and winter I have "Ground Force'd" my garden and have written about it on my web site's garden project page, ( see also my garden project page at flickr), and I'm sure the advice and book references will be very helpful.

One of the articles, 'Complements of the season' has a series of pictures, one for a garden 'in a land of hosepipe bans' with poppies and gravel, which looks good, perhaps I'll try some poppies. Another of the articles lists five gardens that are inspirations for the supplement's authors, including Wakehurst Place, part of Kew Gardens which is quite close. Mind you so is RHS Wisley.

The 5Best... this week, lists five best islands. Their No 2 is Iceland and they recommend sailing down the west coast of Iceland in a 60' racing clipper with Borea Adventure.  


Wednesday Feb 21, 2007

Getting away for short break [Again]

I have only just had time to sit down and tag last weekends travel Guradian. They ran a 100 holiday ideas around a couple of themes, the omnibus page is here, and they also ran an article on alternative city breaks on an A-Z theme, proposing the seemingly odd Antwerp, Rotterdam (too much like Southampton) &  Belgrade (too much like Belgrade) together with more interestingly places such as Stokholm, Thessaloniki and Zurich, which, my flickr fans will know, I visited last month, and it is well worth the visit. 

The other themes were UK "Home Comforts", "On a shoe string", "Blow the Budget", "Green Boltholes", "active & family breaks" and "scrummy retreats".


Sunday Oct 15, 2006


The Guardian has recently run a Reader's Best of......, in their travel section. The problem with Guardian readers is that one doesn't know if they genuinly are voting for these choices or just showing off. The results are posted in full on the Guardian's travel site.


Thursday Oct 05, 2006

Jennifer Government

NationStates by Max BarryOn the flight home, for once, I left the movies alone and finished Jennifer Government by Max Barry. This was recommended to me by my elder son. Barry states that he "....pretended to sell high end computer systems for Hewlett Packard while secretly writing his first novel". As it says on the backcover, in this book, set in the near future, the world is run by giant American companies, the UK & Australia are part of the USA. Everyone is so happy, tax-free and rich that they'll change their name to that of their company. A VP of Marketing decides to kill his customers to stimulate demand, and Jennifer Government after failing to stop him, vows to bring him to trial. This is a very funny book.

Barry wrote and published the online nations simulation game as part of his marketing campaign of the book, where he continues to be very funny, even in the FAQ.


Monday Sep 25, 2006

A french man's nose...

Most of the Europeans are flying in today and we arranged to visit a 'french' restaurant called "The Left Bank" in Palo Alto where we let Eric Bezille, the only frenchman choose the wines. This was an excellent move; he found an American Chenin Blanc (Ballantines 2005), which was quite tasty and herby, an excellent french Vouvray and a Californian Pinot Noir, called Irony, which is one of the best I've drunk in California, lacking that meaty earthy taste which presages the mother of hangovers. I was able to crack my "mmmm, I get the taste of grape" joke, which most hadn't heard before so that was good. We may have to go back as the some of the other starters sound too good to miss.

keyword: CEC2006


Sunday Sep 24, 2006

Films on the Plane

Normal sort of journey, and I took the opportunity to watch X-Men 3 and V for Vendetta. So X-Men 3 confused me, while watching it I thought it was rather good and I enjoyed meeting some of my underused favourites, but after it finished I felt unsatisfied. There's so much unfinished, and possibly unfinishable given that some (critically important) characters have been written out through death or 'cure'.


Reasons to ... return to Bradford

On the way over, I looked at the Independant, the travel pages of which covered Bradford, famous for many things, but expecting to act as the host for the International Indian Film Awards next year. This may or may not be as a result of Braford being the home town for the National Museum of Photography, but these organisations run an annual bollywood film festival in the UK, called "Bite the Mango" . Its running now, so if I want to go, it'll have to be next year.

The article couldn't help but mention curries, and I have bookmarked their references in my This article was written later, and back dated to near the time of occurrence.





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