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The life and times of james Hart: his family, his music, life in Luton and his occasional escapes onto the internet.

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Sunday, 31 October 2004

Changing times...

I can't believe it's come round again - we're back on GMT, although there is a seemingly perpetual debate about whether we should stay with British Summer Time all year round.

It's amazing how much difference the change makes, especially when the children wake up at 'normal' time - 6.15 on a Sunday morning is a bit hard to deal with!

On other matters, I'm a little annoyed that my blog was attacked by Trackback Spam yesterday afternoon; irritating in itself, but because my web server isn't very powerful, trying to deal with the flood of junk caused it to stop responding... two reboots and a mass deletion later, I think things are returning to normal (ish!)

There's not been much from me this week - I've still got to finish writing up the account of my jury service, and I've been playing with my old Commodore 64 - not least attempting to persuade games I've downloaded off the internet to record onto tape, and then into the computer! More, I'm fairly sure, on that later...

Fortunately, I've found my old copy of Wizball on floppy disk, but I can't set aside enough time to work out what order the colours need to be collected to complete the game (it's rather frustrating to finish eight levels, and then get stuck!)

Links of the day:

Posted by james at 8:26 AM

Saturday, 30 October 2004

Christopher FM

When Christopher's in the studio, he's taken to making a "theme show" - essentially this involves picking some records out so that I can put them on my aging turntable, and broadcasting competitions, weather reports and interviews with whoever's down there with him (generally me and Ella, who seems to have no fear of the microphone).

It was a little different today, though, as he removed my CD player from the equipment cupboard and wanted to do "Christopher FM" - I picked out a bunch of CD singles, brought down a spare CD player from upstairs and showed him what fader does what.

Christopher FM!
He seemed to pick it up very quickly, repeatedly ushering me to sit down when I popped around the desk to help! "Now I can be just like Darren Lee" he claimed.

Posted by james at 5:47 PM

Tuesday, 26 October 2004

John Peel

I'm well aware that he was far from universally popular (I know his voice got on the nerves of quite a few people!) but there's no denying that modern music owes a lot to John Peel, who died suddenly last night.

I also really enjoyed Home Truths which was funny and moving without being sentimental - something he was very good at.

In distracted moments - especially considering he's of my parents' generation - I've been melancholy today.

Posted by james at 8:07 PM

Sunday, 24 October 2004

extra

Having lived a fairly conservative life over the past - ooh, it must be - three years; never in bed much after 1am at the latest, and my circle of 'real' friends hasn't had much chance to grow. I've more than compensated with on-line activities, though - which brings to an end a brief, yet tedious prelude to my activities this weekend, as this is where it all started.

I may have mentioned the hilarious ten minute spoof schools programmes called Look Around You - if you've visited in the last six months you'll have been forced to watch an episode or two (you have been warned!) Well, I joined the Yahoo! group for the show, which had been set up by a clutch of fans, and was surprised to see that Robert Popper (one of the writers - the other being the terribly famous Peter Serafinowicz) occasionally posted.

It was by mere co-incidence that only a few weeks after I joined, he mentioned that they were hoping to invite group members to be extras in some parts of the filming of series 2 of Look Around You, and - after a brief period of indecision - Beth and I put our names down to be considered. There were two filming sessions - one during the day, during the week, which I couldn't have attended even if I'd wanted to, and the other on Friday night, into Saturday morning. It was the latter that Beth and I met in London to attend, and this blog entry concerns the night in question...

just - look around you

We arrived at a primary school on the White City estate, a few minutes walk from the BBC's swiffy new Broadcast and Media Centres, in the car-park of which, a small collection of lorry trailers and double-decker buses were assembled. Neither Beth nor I had any idea what to expect, as we'd never done anything like this before - I was rather apprehensive when I was directed to the big bus marked "Background."

The other folk on-board, and those who arrived subsequently, turned out to be very friendly, though - I'm not really a shrinking violet, so it wasn't long before I introduced myself to the people with whom I'd be spending much of the night. The filming was expected to go on until half-past six, so I was going to be stuck with them either way! We ate at probably the most impressive burger van I've ever seen (it was more of a mobile kitchen, I suppose) and, while we waited to be called to wardrobe, I read out some 90s lyrics from a quiz I just happened to have on me.

*the* Mr Bloke lookAmusingly, I became known as "Mr Bloke" - it's the name I use for my Yahoo! email, but one that I haven't heard used since my Chiltern FM days. It was rather judicious though, as there was another James Hart - the husband of another group member - who'd come along for the filming, too. It led to a little confusion in wardrobe and when the visitor passes were given out, but I had brought my own early-1980's clothes (I hadn't mentioned that it was a 'period piece' had I?) and BBC ID card, so all was not lost.

The outfits were amusing - Beth ended up wearing almost all of her normal clothes, with the addition of a big (mostly pink) fluffy jumper. We'd raided the charity shops during the week, though, and I had found some wonderful "maths teacher" brown corduroy trousers, and bought a scarily authentic white/brown graph-paper type shirt from Littlewoods. Add to this a woollen tie and beige blouson (provided by the wardrobe people) and some almost-NHS glasses, and the ensemble was complete.


Time, also, went much more quickly than I'd anticipated. There was a good level of banter between us - the extras were there to provide a 'crowd scene' outside Television Centre, awaiting the arrival of a Royal Person to the final of the Invention Of The Year competition. For the first couple of scenes I and a number of others weren't needed, so we stood around on the periphery having a joke. Top Of The Pops had been recorded that evening, and the audience trooped past at one point, bewildered by the collection of unfashionable folk hanging around the place. One of their number, who was haplessly engaged in conversation with a couple of the more entertaining young men there (I was almost definitely the oldest of the non-paid extras there - makes me feel quite old!) turned out to be Jessica Lever, the 17 year old who made a speech at the Conservative Party Conference this year. Darius went past at one point as well, apparently.

Take after take, camera-battery-change after camera-battery-change (why they weren't plugged into the mains, I just don't know) and then 'lunchtime' came; we were driven in minibuses the quarter-mile back to the school, and had a very passable roast chicken with vegetables and apricot stuffing. This was brought to a premature close as Rob and Peter came on-board to sign DVDs, arms and scraggy bits of paper (sorry!) and have lots of camera-phones pointed at them.

Also in attendance were Nick Frost (Mike from Spaced) and Olivia Colman, who nobody seems to have heard of but has been in all sorts of things from The Office to a dodgy car advert, and is lovely.

The whole thing had finished not long before three o'clock, and we sat on-board the bus for a while. I didn't have any coach times, so I ventured to the Broadcast Centre for a fix of the internet, and returned with fairly good news; there was a coach at 3.30 and another at 4.30. When I returned to the bus, one of the paid extras had arrived and was telling the story of his first job (which was as a soldier in Gladiator - although he also appeared in the turkey-flavoured spoof Gladiatress). We were spared the "captive audience" experience when one of the assistants with a walkie-talkie arrived and told us that we could be dropped off in town, where there were more night buses available to take the bedraggled masses to their respective stations for the first trains home. Beth and I were really lucky - the driver dropped us off at Marble Arch just in time to run for the half-past four bus, which dropped us off in time to pick the car up and get to bed before six o'clock. We managed four hours sleep before we went to pick the children up - enough to ensure we made it through the day!

So - probably a once-in-a-lifetime experience. If you see the next series of Look Around You and see a confused, frightened looking maths teacher in the back row of a crowd scene, that will represent my [probably much less than] five minutes of fame (not counting my role as confused, frightened audience member in the finale of Back To Reality in which, as I recall, Beth figured on-screen a little more than I did ... not such a surprise, I suppose - she's a lot more camera friendly!)

The rest of the weekend's been relaxed - we've tidied up a bit, had a couple of friends round, and Monday's just around the corner. There've been no entries for last week - I'll remedy that as soon as I get the opportunity. It's a busy old life.

Before I go, though, I finally found my copy of "Wizball" for the Commodore 64 - what a fantastic game! I still can't complete it though. Well, OK, I'm having trouble getting off level one. I think I'm getting old.

Posted by james at 10:42 PM

Monday, 18 October 2004

nothing taken for granted...

We'll definitely have to go swimming at the Bedford Oasis pool again, as the children really enjoyed it, and there weren't too many people there. That was Thursday - I can't believe I've not written my blog since then! It started off insistently raining, in spite of which Ella decided that she wanted to go out of the front door, while I was putting a binbag in the bin. In fact, both children ended up on the terrace, splashing around in the rain with typical exuberance. All in all, a very wet day.

Friday wasn't quite so intemperate - not that it mattered too much, as I spent most of it in the office. I had a Megabus booking for 4pm for a trip to see one of my pals in Bristol, so I needed to leave in time to catch it. Of course, the usual Friday afternoon gremlins demonstrated their delaying abilities, causing a five minute job to need attention beyond the final critical moment after which I would have been late.

I spent less than 24 hours in Bristol, wandering around the rather pleasant city, listening to CDs and watching the second series of Spaced - one of the best comedy series I've ever seen - certainly up there with The Day Today in terms of hilarity.

That's about the only time I ever play Uno, and almost invariably lose. I'm sure it's mostly luck - either that, or I really don't know what I'm doing!

The journey home, however, was something else. It took three hours to crawl through the M4's latest traffic jam - apparently a lorry had caught fire that afternoon, and they were rebuilding the road - and, although I left at 6pm, I didn't get to the front door until after 1.15am. It could have been much worse, though - I'm just glad I had my radio and the children didn't have to go through it!

We were supposed to pop round to Cath and Martin's to see baby Luke, but poor old Cath has a cold which, added to the sleepless nights, I'm sure has hit hard. We had a family afternoon at home (with, of course, the obligatory Scrapheap Challenge) instead, and I managed to get Beth's old computer working again, so we could get some internet banking information off it. It turned out to be a problem with Zonealarm which seemed to be completely broken - somewhat reassuring, as it means that there's nothing wrong with the PC itself. (That's Mother's Christmas present sorted!)

Speaking of Mother, I received a concerned text from Cath earlier - and subsequently one from Mary. Fortunately, it wasn't such a severe incident that a stay in hospital was necessary, but it certainly brings things into perspective. We all send our love for a swift recovery, Mother.

And so my week of work ends almost as soon as it's begun. Ask me why in a fortnight.

Links of the day (mostly Windows for some reason...)

Posted by james at 8:28 PM

Wednesday, 13 October 2004

Fun... erm... with javascript [techie]

Today I was mostly learning about javascript. One of my colleagues had asked if I could make a webpage that took some essential information out of a long line, and, as I like to keep my hand in programming, I thought I'd have a go. All the research was done over breakfast, and I managed to get most of it going on the coach to work. That all the functions are CaseSensitive, and you have to use strange functions to change characters on a web page makes for a fairly frustrating task getting it to work. The things I learned, in case you're interested are:

An example of how to change a link on a web page using javascript (and a form)

<html>
<head>

<script language="JavaScript1.2">
<!--

function changeurl() {

//define some variables
var adstr;

//Get the string from a text box called "Textybox" in form called "Formy"
adstr = document.Formy.Textybox.value ;

//Change the URL with NAME="clickurl" to the value in the text box
document.getElementById('clickurl').href=adstr;

}
-->
</script>

</head>

<body>

<FORM name="Formy" action=""> Filename: <INPUT type=text name="Textybox" size=30 maxlength=175 value=""> <input type="button" value="Click!" onclick="changeurl()"></FORM> <p> <A HREF="#" name="clickurl">click this link</A>

</body>
</html>

An example of how to change text on a web page using javascript (and a form)

<html>
<head>

<script language="JavaScript1.2">
<!--

function changetext() {
//define some variables
var textstr;

//Get the string from a text box called "Textybox" in form called "Formy"
textstr = document.Formy.Textybox.value ;

//Change the text area with DIV ID="textybit" to the value in the text box
document.all.textybit.innerHTML=textstr ;

}
-->
</script>

</head>

<body>

<FORM name="Formy" action=""> Filename: <INPUT type=text name="Textybox" size=30 maxlength=175 value=""> <input type="button" value="Click!" onclick="changetext()"></FORM> <p>
<div ID="textybit">This is what it was...</div>

</body>
</html>

I expect this is probably quite elementary to the experts in the world, but I struggled with "document.write" creating a fresh new webpage, which isn't really what I wanted...

Posted by james at 8:49 PM

Tuesday, 12 October 2004

this service will be delayed for...

It's not very often I catch a train. Today, though, I placed myself at the mercy of various train operators to journey from Luton (Airport Parkway) to Birmingham (New Street). I was most impressed with the swiffy train I first clambered upon, having huffed and puffed the twenty minutes of half-running stumble to the station. It was air-conditioned, with a pointy front (and back), electric doors, metallic windows, a mains socket for my laptop and inexplicable green lights along the floor. I should, on reflection, have sat in the seat automatically reserved for me by The Train Line, but the train was almost deserted, so I found a table.

Leicester in the drizzle - under normal circumstances a ten minute wait for a change of train would mean I'd not venture further than the platform or - at worst - the concourse which inevitably is up some mucky steps. My connection, however, had been delayed for the best part of forty minutes, so I escaped the early 20th century architecture of the station (which seemed to extend halfway through the high street, dismally covering the belching taxis) and followed signs for the city centre. I felt a bit like Bill Bryson, as I had nothing to do save open my eyes and take in the walls, windows, wandering folk of the place, but I couldn't help but be critical of the 'large town' feeling that I used to get on occasional childhood trips to Eastbourne. I wasn't very interested, noting the Wetherspoon, McDonalds and scattering of banks and building societies. There wasn't enough time to seek out the Tourist Information office in an attempt to find Gary Lineker (although there was a dark brown statue of Thomas Cook standing outside the station) before I trudged back through the subway to catch the (further delayed, two carriage, jam-packed, chuntering) train.

Birmingham seemed half-built and appeared to have a pedestrian precinct on a big plinth. What a great idea. The Mailbox was huge, too, and the internals were swanky and open plan. I rushed around for a few hours, and had to hurry back for the train at 6pm, having arrived so tardily. This was also delayed - only for twenty-five minutes this time - enough to cause a platform alteration and subsequent throng of weary passengers jockeying for position where they thought the doors might be.

Fortunately there was a pointy Midland Mainline train leaving Leicester quite soon after we arrived; it went to the main Luton station, which made for a longer walk home, but at least it left (pretty much) on time. As far as the travel goes, I remember experiencing much the same extremes of comfort (where Thameslink's stinky carriages met the exquisite whirr of the Brighton line) on my last trip. How some companies can be consistently late and rubbish, while others are punctual and swiffy is beyond me. I'd write a letter, but I really can't be bothered.

So I shall simply avoid doing it too often. That would do it.

Posted by james at 10:45 PM

Monday, 11 October 2004

my life in five words.

It's been a great weekend - once again, it's presented plenty of interest. Pete, Lisa and Jordan came over on Saturday afternoon, en route to Barcelona; we enjoyed the football match, and Beth prepared some lovely snack products. After dropping Pete and family off at the airport, the children were left with Beth's parents so that Beth and I could go out.

Having two little ones makes a Saturday night social something of a rarity - we'd been invited to Suzanne's for a LAN party, though, and it was very kind of Beth's folks to enable us to attend it. The time flew by - certainly for me - as the tribulations of setting up a computer network, followed by some intense playing of a 'real time' strategy game called StarCraft, added to a few drinks (I had never played this particular game before, so I didn't really see the harm) meant that 2am came far too quickly.

I was immediately aware, though, that StarCraft is an immensely complex game, and it's practically impossible to play without an in-depth knowledge of all the little characters, machines; almost like entering a different world. I have enough trouble with this one - perhaps it's my age, but having spent half an hour over lunch making the slightest of dents in the strategy guides (I am, of course, talking about the game) made me rather despondent.

Fortunately, Sunday had a slower tempo - Beth's computer decided to stop co-operating, so I brought forward the task of building her a new one, which I finally installed shortly before bedtime. When I plugged all the cables in, and tested each of the bounteous selection of peripherals she uses (two printers, a scanner, a video capture card and, occasionally, a webcam) I noticed that the power LED wasn't on on her speakers. What had happened to make her previous computer so beligerent was that a brush had fallen down the back of the kitchen cupboard and switched off the power to one of the four-way mains blocks. How annoying? Still, she's able to play The Sims now, and it's a faster machine.

Another workday has been and gone - it's been a fairly busy day, but I didn't want to get involved in too much, as I'm visiting the new Mailbox building in Birmingham tomorrow.

I did take the opportunity to go and see The Future Heads in the 6music hub this morning. Once again, it feels like the 80s are back again, with a kind of Big Country meets Franz Ferdinand sound. They put on a fair performance, though, and seem like thoroughly decent chaps. From Sunderland, apparently.

The Future Heads
click for short MP3 (131kB)

Posted by james at 10:04 PM

Friday, 8 October 2004

nobody at the door...

We have a most unusual doorbell. It's great that technology has meant one no longer needs a wire to join button to bell, and I'm most happy with the poorly synthesized "bing bong" it emanates (especially when the batteries are beginning to fade, at which point it becomes amusing to as unsophisticated a mind as mine).

However, a house somewhere along our street or nearby must either have a similar model of doorbell or - perhaps less likely - enjoy walking long the road with a near-identical push button. Whenever the conditions are right (or the japester is outside - I'm not willing to discount the possibility) the doorbell will spontaneously play the "it's half past" chime from many popular types of clock. An explanation is worth pursuiing, but I don't have the time or energy. It doesn't happen very often, which doesn't help.

They're advertising for supervisors next week (hoorah!) It would be wonderful to work in radio permanently, in spite of the opportunity to work on the fringes of telly again. We'll have to see how things go...

I've been looking at Voice Over IP - there seem to be a load of ways to do it these days. For a start, though, I'd like to be able to get my computer to call, well, someone else's. Although BT's VoBB provides a total service with some groovy kit that charges a few pence to dial anywhere in the world, I think I'll stick with the internet version - perhaps using the free Gossiptel or x-lite software. There's a handy guide to VOIP at www.netmag.co.uk. Anybody (who's got broadband) fancy giving it a go?

Posted by james at 6:56 PM

Thursday, 7 October 2004

chime

A fairly short one today - it's been a brisk, dry day off work, which enabled Christopher and me to have a bit of a kick around at the park; Beth popped into town with Ella. While the little'un had her nap, Christopher and I popped down to the studio to fix the 'free gift' I had brought home from work as something for him to play with. Unfortunately, a couple of the wires had broken off this rather ingenious torch and adaptor, so I demonstrated the ancient (heh!) art of soldering and bodging. But mainly bodging...

Apart from that, it's been fairly relaxing - this afternoon we took Beth's parents for a wedding anniversary meal (they've been married for 32 years now), and we've been pottering around this evening.

One more day of work until the weekend - Pete, Lisa and Jordan are popping over on their way to Spain on Saturday afternoon, and we'll be cheering on England in the World Cup Qualifier against Wales. My prediction? 4-0. Probably to England.

Posted by james at 10:02 PM

Wednesday, 6 October 2004

Agog.

There is some truly stunning opera on BBC Three. Live, in Paddington Station. A flash mob is also involved. I'm not sure why.

It is a truly wondrous spectacle, with art intersecting real life; commutors mingling among the performers, and classical orchestra with modern English lyrics.

Purists will probably write stroppy letters to the BBC, but - for someone who doesn't do opera, I utterly loved it. I love the bizarre, and this worked perfectly.

Posted by james at 8:46 PM

Tuesday, 5 October 2004

When EU documents go... a bit awry.

Heh. They missed off Wales! That's probably my favourite news story of the year so far - I have nothing against the principality - it's just really funny.

I had a really odd dream last night - I don't think I've been sleeping so well just lately. For some incomprehensible reason I - without duress - joined the army. I interacted for a bit, in the usual parallel-reality way until it occurred to me that this was completely not what I wanted to do, and I wasn't prepared for being told what to do with no right to reply. I told 'the man' that I had never wanted to join the army, and had no idea why I was there, and that my Dad had told me that he only had two pieces of advice for me - don't join the army, and don't join the police. I felt like a small child, which was unsettling, and he said "OK, then, if you want, just go." So I did. I don't remember many of my dreams, but the ones I can recall are invariably rather strange.

look, no Wales!

Once again, Tuesday has rocketed by; I'm nearly home and the sun has practically set. It's been a bit more of a productive workday, though, so the frustration levels aren't nearly as high as they were. I'm really going to have to get a toolkit for work, though - yesterday I was doing some repairs (I dropped my iPAQ in Asda the day before we went on holiday, which fortunately resulted in no more inominy than the loss of all the data - those screens cost a fortune! The headphone socket of my minidisc player has been a little temperamental, too) and today I needed to make some modifications to a bit of hardware, and I was begging and borrowing all over the place. It's good to get my hands 'properly' dirty, though. How RS can justify £200 for this is beyond me, though...

Posted by james at 8:42 PM

Monday, 4 October 2004

Too early to mention Christmas?

I think I might just have had my first 'proper' festive feeling, as the evening has chilled, and the urban smells send the thousand genes I posess for such things into paroxysms of recollection. I think I've got some degree of lazy whimsy.

Sometimes, it's just good to be alive for the utterly intangibles, such as expectation, nostalgia and a really decent shepherds pie (thanks, Beth!)

Linkage:


Posted by james at 7:02 PM

Sunday, 3 October 2004

End of Sunday (already?)

Well, as is the norm for such things, I'm back to a fairly acceptable level of health as the weekend draws to a close. Beth and I have just watched "Being John Malkovich" - a surreal type of film which unusually kept my attention throughout. If you haven't seen it, and you like an odd type of comedy, this'll do the job.

On the subject of TV, there's yet another new channel I've spotted on the Satellite list.. The Advert Channel. OK, so it's mostly "teleshopping" nonsense, but there are the occasional gems of poor quality (horribly digitised?) old TV commercials (in the conventional sense).

I like the current Honda Diesel advert - it's on the website in Flash format, but I wouldn't have the first idea how to 'record' it... that said, it works so much better on TV.

Where was I? Oh yes - a colleague at work sent me this link to a website reporting a 1 Terabtye Optical Disk. It'll be a little while before it comes out, but I daresay I'll have given in and bought a DVD Writer (currently less than £60 from Aldi) by then.

Have a good week! I've just discovered I have over 150 unread work emails... plenty to be getting on with when I turn up at the office tomorrow!

Posted by james at 10:48 PM

Saturday, 2 October 2004

return from holiday...

This is, unfortunately, going to be a fairly brief one, because I typed a long, tedious entry and then the computer chose the most inopportune moment to crash...

It was, however, the best family holiday I can remember, as everyone enjoyed themselves, and there were (apart from my dodgy tummy towards the end and Beth's rather worrying illness shortly before!) no bad points to it at all.

A brief summary of what we did and when follows, though, in my favourite 'bullet point' format, which will hopefully assure some degree of brevity.

  • Friday

  • We drove to Market Lavington - the slow way (not surprising, since we had to traverse the M25, although once we'd reached the M3, and certainly by the time we'd reached Stonehenge on the A303, we were going at a reasonable pace). It was nearly dark by the time we arrived, so it left a little time for exploring, looking for the nearest supermarket for essentials, starting my Holiday Book (Bill Bryson's "Notes from a Small Island" - kind of a verbose yet jocular version of 'Crap Towns', which, I see, has canvassed public opinion and - in my opinion - rightfully judged Luton as number 1 in its second volume) before a moderately early night after Grumpy Old Men.

  • Saturday

  • I cooked pancakes (yum!) and we drove to Devizes, where it rained, we ate freshly made sandwiches and then visited the museum, where Christopher did some brass rubbing, and Ella dressed up.

  • Sunday
  • I cooked pancakes again (I'd been meaning to make them for weeks, but hadn't taken the opportunity - having found some batter mix and the mandatory Jif Lemon in Co-op, I had my chance...) and then, after kicking a football around the large patch of grass outside - watching out for the 'bee flight path' - we visited Stonehenge. I would recommend our 'cheap pleb' approach to this monument, leaving the car on a dirt track just next-door to the 'pay on enter' car park, and walking outside the chain-link fence where we stood less than ten yards from the equally windswept paying visitors, who aren't allowed to go any closer than that to the monumental stones. OK, so for £13 for a family of four you get to walk all the way around the circle and listen to a table-tennis bat, but the view is just as wonderful outside. Just my view, mind...

  • Monday

  • We visited Beth's Great-Aunt and Great-Uncle. The Great-Aunt is a Collector; she's very much into genealogy, and has some wonderfully hand-coloured photos of her ancestry on the walls of a lounge replete with trinkets and ornaments. Fortunately, the weather was clement, so the children, and the daughter of another visitor - an ex-neighbour who was just about to jet off across the world (again!) - played outside much of the time. They all seemed to get on very well, which is really encouraging.

  • Tuesday

  • We took a trip to the New Forest, following our noses, really (and roadsigns to Beaulieu) until we reached Exbury Gardens, a tranquil, exquisite expanse of land which, during the summer season, offers row upon row of flowering rhododendrons. There was still plenty to see, though - not least was the steam railway, which Christopher especially enjoyed. I noticed that, as we passed through Salisbury on the way south-west, the pub next-door to where I used to live over 21 years ago(!) had turned into a Hungry Horse [Note: please be warned that this website is horrifically gaudy] restaurant and we had enough time, on our return trip, to pop in for a bite to eat (probably the first time I ever entered that establishment!) and take a wander up Ayleswade Road (noting that the house next door to the one I used to live in was for sale - a rather swiffy SMS service told me that it was on the market for £235,000!), over Harnham Bridge and through the still near-perfect Cathedral Close so that Christopher could see the building and its sheer size close-up.

  • Wednesday

  • I woke up feeling a little achey, although we had to leave the house fairly early to catch the ferry from Southampton; Wednesday was Christopher and Ella's first trip off the mainland. It was the only really damp day of the holiday, although as we walked with Andy's parents (who live a few tens of yards - mostly downward - from the beach) along the coastal path to the bizarrely yet wondrously rainforest-like Shanklin Chine the clouds allowed the sun through, and we played on the sandy beach until a little while before we needed to leave for the return ferry.

  • Thursday

  • My tum still wasn't really behaving, so I approached it with "hangover cure number 1" - a gigantic fry-up, that I prepared for myself and Andy (with a fried-egg sandwich each for Beth and Christopher). This seemed to settle it, and, while Suzi and Andy went shopping in Devizes, we visited Coral Cove - probably the best indoor 'Adventure playground' type place we've been to. It has sofas alongside the clambering equipment, and a small caf? that offers adult, child and toddler portions. We'll definitely go back there if (and hopefully when!) we return to that part of the world.

  • Friday

  • The end of the holiday came so quickly - especially since I had not quite finished my Holiday Book. We needed to be away by ten o'clock, so an early start was required. However, everything was packed and tidied well before half-past-nine, so we set off home, on a very straightforward journey (an hour and forty-five minutes).

A fine holiday, then, although sandwiched between a couple of bouts of poorliness! I'm feeling a lot better today, thank goodness - with any luck, the gallery (and possibly this blog entry) will be full of pictures over the next day or so.

Links...

  • TV humour? : While I've been away, has television just become funnier? This isn't the only example.
  • God vs Bush? : OK, so it's not to be taken too seriously (I'm not sure where Jeanne went, for a start) but this is interesting..

    Posted by james at 10:42 PM


 
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