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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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Wednesday, 26 October 2005

Airport expansions and other stuff.

I'm two thirds of the way through my working week - it's been quite a good-humoured couple of days, and although I'm still quite sleepy in the morning, we all have the occasional laugh during the day. I've always said that it's not what you do for a living, it's who you work with, and there has been a good selection of engineers on shift just lately.

Closer to home (literally), the Luton Airport expansion has been announced. Living, as we do, in the shadow of the steep hill on which the airport sits, it would be nigh-on impossible for it to encroach any distance towards us, although the options for link expansions might cause the road near our house to be widened to a dual carriageway. Apart from the constant flow of construction traffic, I believe that will be the limit of the effect on our immediate environment. The big documents are on the London Luton Airport website.

On the web, it would appear that Google has done it again... video.google.com: a free video hosting service. There's a limited amount on there, but on occasion there are some good finds - daft lipsyncing, for example. Yup, they're all at it. (There's more here, should you be so inclined).

Radio recommendations...

  • The Problem With Adam Bloom - Wednesday evenings at 6.30pm on Radio 4. There seems to be a fair collection of 'lecture' style programmes on these days (Miles Jupp's Real World being another example; the fourth and final episode is tomorrow night at 11pm on Radio 4).
  • New to BBC7 is Ectoplasm - a comedy from five years ago, which I'd never heard of until now. And it's got Sophie Aldred in it. Hooray!

Squirrel!Enough (apart from my favourite cameraphone photo - see right) from me... time for some linkage.

Links of the day:

Posted by james at 9:47 PM

Sunday, 23 October 2005

not for want of trying...

Loads to catch up on, but seeing as it's nearly bedtime, and I've left my laptop at work (which has lots of pretty pictures on) I'll probably keep this brief, and end up using bullet points far more than is necessary.

Fortunately, we're pretty much all recovered from a tummy bug that seems to have beset the family - I had to take Friday off work (something I really don't like doing, because normally it's because I'm in no position to be able to do anything at home) and Beth, Christopher and Lenni were laid low with it for much of yesterday.

Work's been a bit busy, too - I'll be listening to the Ken Bruce show tomorrow, since it's the first all-digital daytime show on Radio 2, and there have been plenty of other things to do, not least sort out a ridiculous amount of hard disk failures. OK, so RAID (often) contains the word "inexpensive" but it all starts to add up when lots stop working at once!

There have been enough days off, though, for the family to enjoy a St. Luke's Little Summer. Even now, the skies remain blue during the day, although the cold wind takes the heat away. My thoughts, therefore, go out to those on the Eastern side of the US, expecting Hurricane Wilma imminently.

I've been able to make a little music - just a bit of silliness really for a podcast I enjoy. I'll probably upload a version to the radio player when it's done...

In fact, Podcasts have kind-of taken over from my usual listening coming home on the coach; my current favourites (being most partial to all things British) are:

I'm still a bit keen to do a podcast of my own, but my blog entries take long enough (not least because I foolishly lose them on a fairly regular basis) so preparing and post-producing an audio version would require a little more investment in time than I possibly have at the moment.

For example, I'm trying to go swimming at least once a week, since the local pool is open until quite late on Mondays Wednesdays and Fridays, but that, of course, depends on when I'm working. It's all part of an attempt to rid myself of the aches and pains that have bothered me for far too long. My GP seems fairly pleased with how I'm getting on, and if I can cut down on slouching and leaning over my desk to peer at my work monitor, I think I'll be right as rain by the time I get proper old!

Right.. best leave it there, really - my next blog entry will hopefully be a little more pictorial (including my favourite cameraphone photo in the nearly-a-year I've had it) and, er, internet-tastic.

For now, though, these are the things that have been entertaining me (and often Christopher):

Links of the, er, fortnight:

(there are many more, but they've escaped me for the time being! It's late...)

P.S. The car shenanigans continue... they've replaced the brain, but now one of the keys doesn't work and nor does the alarm. More on this tomorrow, I'm sure.

Posted by james at 10:23 PM

Sunday, 9 October 2005

Greetings from Luton.

Definitely a blog entry of miscellany, this one! Yesterday went away far too quickly, with a day spent doing various bits of housework and shopping, and the evening entertaining Beth's family for a tasty shop-bought chinese meal.

The conversation turned, at one point, to shop names and their derivations. Here, in case you're interested, are some of the ones I know:

Asda:Associated Dairies
TescoFounder Jack Cohen and one of his first suppliers, T.E. Stockwell
Waitrose:Founders Wallace Waite, Arthur Rose, and David Taylor
Londis:Originally formed from the London District of the council of the National Grocer?s Federation
Arndale Centre:Founders Arnold Hagenbach and Sam Chippendale
Lunn Poly:London's first polytechnic created the Polytechnic Touring Association, which was subsequently bought by Henry Lunn Ltd.
MFI:Mullard Furniture Industries - Mullard being the maiden name of the wife of one of the founders.
Oxfam:Oxford Committee for Famine Relief

During my research, incidentally, I discovered that Matalan wasn't founded by two men called Matt and Alan (don't you just love urban legends?); it was formed by John Hargreaves, which sounds nothing like the name.

'Greetings from Luton' postcardOn other matters, I found a postcard on my arrival home from holiday, addressed to me, saying "Greetings from Luton." I didn't know such things existed (it's not in the premier league for vacation destinations!) When I turned it over, though, it bacame clear that it was a rather ingenious piece of junkmail/spam, since the stamp was from The Netherlands and the message simply said "Your world is expanding. Curious? visit www.jameshart.isaglobalcitizen.com". It turns out that it's from Liverpool University, but full marks for the concept of a postcard from Luton (although I don't recognise the scene in the picture!)

'Citiskate's Friday Night SkateWhile waiting for the coach (which, as happens more often than I'm comfortable with, didn't turn up) on Friday evening, I was witness to one of the (I'm sure there are many!) more unusual sights of London life. The picture to the right doesn't really do it justice - there must have been over a hundred people, most of whom were on rollerblades, zooming up Gloucester Place. I tried to shoot a brief video (685kB Windows Media) of them, but it was a bit dark.

Subsequently, I discovered that it's called the Friday Night Skate, organised by a company called Citiskate. If I were ten years younger - oh - and able to skate without falling over, I would love to do that. Especially since it's free!

Day off tomorrow (hooray!) although I'm going through the ol' car rigmarole again. Wish me luck...

Posted by james at 11:12 AM

Friday, 7 October 2005

back to work...

Well, work has definitely jumped up and bitten me! It's been a very busy few days, with little space to do much else (especially since Finchley Road's sprung a leak and it's taking twice as long to get in and home... )

Still, I've a day off to recover, then back to work on Sunday(!) While I have a little time to relax, I might enjoy Paul Anka's new CD - "Rock Swings". Much like the slightly more irreverent Richard Cheese (not to mention Mike Flowers ... no, please don't mention him) some of the finest moments in rock and pop have been given the full jazz swing treatment. Favourites include Jump (1.4MB MP3) and Eye Of The Tiger (see the radioblog for a preview).

I can't believe it's nearly a year since John Peel died. Radio 1 are having a special tribute day on Thursday. Now that's going to be a busy one! In the meantime, here's an amusing page about the John Peel Sweet Eating Game.

Annoyingly, there were some other thoughts I've been having. Carrying a whole collection of technology around with me day by day, you'd think I'd be able to write things down!

Radiowise, I'd like to recommend Another Case Of Milton Jones on Radio 4 at half-past six on a Thursday evening.

Links of the day:

  • www.funbureau.com : where do all the socks go? (thanks, Annie!)
  • www.aquarterof.co.uk : sweeties on the internet, yay! It doesn't quite have the same atmosphere as a real sweetshop, though...
  • www.bleacheatingfreaks.com/contest/bricolage3 : It's amazing how much damage you can do with office equipment. Now I wouldn't consider any of these...
  • www.britblog.com : I've just added this blog to this directory of British Blogs. I daresay it's far from comprehensive, but there are a few interesting blogs there...

Posted by james at 10:32 AM

Saturday, 1 October 2005

Peace and quiet in Herefordshire

Being in the midst of the Herefordshire countryside has been a pleasant contrast from the rush and noise of our usual urban existence. We eventually found the cottage, in a small village called Edwin Ralph a couple of miles north of Bromyard, and spent the first couple of days acquainting ourselves with the countryside around us. In fact, the children (especially Lenni!) insisted on going on daily "adventures" along about half-a-mile of public footpaths that were clearly labelled nearby, taking us past fields of sheep, across cornfields and into some wonderfully tranquil woodland...

Woodland near Edwyn Ralph.A lone tree...A cornfield.A view of the Herefordshire landscape. <br />

While there was plenty to do within the near periphery of the holiday cottage, we also ventured further - to Ledbury (most of which is closed on Mondays) then to Hereford, where the children painted ceramic bowls, which we collected on Friday after they'd been glazed and fired.

On Tuesday, we took a look round Bromyard itself, which is one of those very strange 'just about qualifies as a town' places, with a high street consisting of a church, a smattering of small shops and banks, a terrifyingly neat row of bungalows on "Schallenge Walk" - oh, and a heritage centre that seemed to consist mainly of a statue of a goat called "Ann Campbell".

In celebration of a goat called Ann CampbellBromyard Heritage CentreBromyard's terrifying Bungalows on Schallenge Walk

The only fly in the ointment of the holiday was that the car went a bit wrong. Being a wonder of modern technology, it's got remote central locking - or rather it's supposed to have. However, on Sunday evening it stopped working, and although we were able to unlock and open the doors manually, the boot refused to budge (which potentially made packing the car for our return home a near impossibility!) so we planned a trip to Leominster on Wednesday, in order to check into the Peugeot garage there for a tinker with the car's brain.

Suzanne, who'd come up on the Sunday, had to travel back to Luton on Wednesday (which meant she missed the excitement of a soaking in Leominster. In fact, it rained non-stop, which meant that, after dropping the car off for its ministrations, we were a little damp around the edges as we investigated the town centre - which at least had a Woolworths in which to take refuge!

The car technician bloke, after spending over an hour-and-a-half with a laptop wired into the car's brain, finally gave up. Apparently the BSI (or built in systems interface) needs to be replaced, but only because it is reporting "no faults found" and there clearly is one(!) The upshot of all this was that the only way we can open the boot is from the inside, and even that's not trivial, especially when it's full of our holiday bits!

Lenni on one of the bridges in the Toy City Fun PalaceWe drove to Worcester on Thursday, not least to visit Toy City - a Toymaster superstore combined with a large indoor play area upstairs.

The children enjoyed climbing, sliding and generally running about - were it not for my aches and pains I would have taken more of an active part in the proceedings, too! Since it was a weekday in term-time, it wasn't too busy, which made it a much more pleasant prospect than a weekend trip there!

Christopher (looking surly) on a rope swing in the Toy City Fun Palace

The cereal bowls painted by Christopher and EleanorOn Friday we popped back to Manic Ceramics in Hereford to pick up the bowls the children had painted, and to take a look around the museum - a small but friendly place to investigate the history and culture of the area.

All too soon the holiday came to a close - we set off quite early on Saturday, not least so we could make it to Luke's first birthday party!

A long blog entry, I know! There's a few more holiday snaps at the gallery, although I didn't use the camera as much as previously.

Link of the day:

  • www.atome.bliesch.com/atome.php3 : another one of those puzzle games - this time in German, although it made sense when I played around with it for a while... basically you have to make molecules like those ball and spring models in chemistry.

Posted by james at 8:21 PM

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