Thursday, 19 February 2015


This is a long, and completely terrifying article about ISIS. (Not The Isis). It's also very well written and I learned a lot from it. Thanks to Kate for pointing me at in, in a "Argh that's completely terrifying" way.

Saturday, 10 January 2015

The future

Welcome to the future. I can now post blog articles just using my voice and my smartphone. I don't have to engage my brain or filter my blog postings in any way. What could possibly go wrong?

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Ah haar

Sitting in sixonorth a Belgian Beer bar in central Aberdeen. Not as incongruous as it sounds, as bar is part of a small chain established by a Belgian beer enthusiast from Stonehaven, which is just down the road. I’m actually drinking his white, which is a sort of German-Belgian-Scottish mash up.

Interesting to see that he’s categorised what the hipsters would call ‘Craft’ beer as ‘Urban’. Slightly odd to see beers from East London up here in Aberdeen. I suppose no odder than Brewdog taking over the beer bar on Bethnal Green Road.

Blimey. Aberdeen eh? There are some buildings here that just have to be seen to be believed. Chap on sleeper this morning described it as ‘The Silver City’ which seems more apt than ‘Granite City’ in the sunshine. Haar has rolled in now though. Foggy.

Brewdog Aberdeen, the home of Brewdog, is just around the corner. Things could get messy.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

A short history of cottaging

So, the furthest back I can remember is Tintagel. This was, for me, a first ever foray into Cornwall, I think. The seascapes of the north coast are truly remarkable, and it's sad that so far as I know no pictures of this trip remain. This was before digital things, you know.

Cars had been invented. Ours was a gold Ford Mondeo. An enduring memory was picking the thing up from an Exeter car hire company on the outskirts of the city, and getting lost on the way back to my house. I ended up in a cul-de-sac with no idea how to find reverse. (Answer - the was a locking-ring located under the knob, which I located after rustling around in the glove-box, searching for instructions). Another enduring memory was adjusting the seat at 60mph on the A38 and nearly killing everyone in the car. Won't do that again.

So, in the car were Brighty, Smith, Levvers and Colin. And me, obviously. And it wasn't even cottaging, as we stayed in a B&B in Tintagel (and did we spend the second night somewhere else, Padstow perhaps?)

Doom Bar, and pasties were the culinary highlights.


Cornwall was judged a success, so Brighty found a cottage in Herefordshire the following Autumn. This must have been 2000 I reckon. In Autumn 2001 I was writing up and heading to PA. So yes, 2000. 14 years ago. Blimey. We weren't even young. But younger, almost certainly.

Herefordshire was wet. Really really wet. It's also Levick country, which meant I got to visit the old farm for the first time. And Hay. Turns out it's full of books. Who knew? Brighty was insistent that we went for a walk, so we trooped up Hergest Ridge in the rain, look Wales square in the eye then trooped down again. And that was that.


I went to Philadelphia. Kate and I had an absolutely excellent weekend in a former coaching Inn in Lancaster County that I can now find no sign of. I was a peculiar, ramshackle place run by an extremely friendly and perhaps somewhat lonely oddball who had, it seemed, run the place with his father until the later had died. Archaeologists from the local university used to come by and dig around - they found a lot of historic interest, including Elizabethan coins which pre-dated the Inn but not the importance of Lancaster as a trading centre at the time.

We didn't kill any Amish, even though it was the first time I'd driven an automatic and the first time I'd driven on the right-hand side of the road. Or was it left?

And we saw some excellent stand-up in a very unpromising strip-Mall in Lancaster. No one does strip-Malls like North Americans..


Return to England, and a move to Yorkshire, offered excellent promise and God's own county didn't let us down. A trip to Haworth included a ride on a steam train (tea in gold-leaf service was taken on board) and an epic walk over, I think, Wadsworth Moor. (Henry will be able to confirm. Henry was the master of this one). At the end, Paul and I had to dash for the last bus back to Haworth to rescue our cars and the rescue the others from the lesbians and take them back to the Brontes. They didn't seem to phased, mind you.
So far as I know, this was the only cottaging trip to feature a Russian citizen, though one can never be quite sure.

Oh, and we also got to see Henry's unique take on the Yorkshire art of map-origami. He's a black-belt, you know.


So that was, quite remarkably, a decade ago. Shortly afterwards I decided to become a Civil Servant (I wasn't exactly doing anything else with my time, and besides, the country needs Civil Servants.) An outing in the Broads was attempted, successfully, and we followed that with a somewhat (totally) insane trip to Lulworth Cove, involving 22 people in 3 cottages in 3 distinct villages (one of which was called Chaldon Herring). It was at this point that I realized that a) Kate has excellent, excellent organisation skills and b) these are really useful. So far as I know, this was the only cottaging trip to feature a citizen of the USA (several, in fact), though one can never be quite sure.

And the Walmer. A bloody loved Walmer. I loved the puns. I loved the house. I loved the harmonium, even though it didn't work. I loved the bloody huge garden and I loved playing croquet in the rain (I'd never played croquet in any kind of weather before). 

 I loved the Kent coastline. I read up on the Cinque Ports. Most of all, I loved the walk to Dover that Nick put on, despite the fact that Sock and I tried to sabotage it by diving into the first pub we found.


Tuesday, 15 July 2014


Still haven't got the bloody electrician sorted. Hopefully Patrick and Tomic will get a quote for the work to me within a day or so. When the took the front off the fuse box the hidden damage behind looked a bit like Luke's X-Wing after it got shot-up at the end of Star Wars*.

Shelves aren't sorted either though man is coming Thursday. But have planted some flowers and herbs in the garden, and they aren't dead yet. Next stop is a shed. Well, a shed base. Get the base down, nice and flat, then get the shed. This is the shed I want. I never imagined that shed buying would be so tricky. 16mm deep cladding is what you want, for maximum life, I'm told. Most DIY store sheds are only 12mm. Hopefully Eric Pickles will do something about this.

So yes, assuming the electrics don't burn out and take us with them we should be proud owners of a new shed sometime between now and Easter. Hurrah!

* I avoided the tempation to say "Episode 4** - A New Hope"
** "IV"?

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Not even pretending

So, without even trying to give even the slightest impression that I'm actually blogging, here is my to-do list (this way I can access it anywhere)


Packing list
Sunday night
ICC beer
Monty Pyhton
Oven hood + hob
Shelves in study              
Shelving man (Daryl?)
Chase Balls Pond
Birthdays in phone
Anton brunch
B, P, R P-H

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Sports desk

The dust had barely settled from England's Ashes defeat to Bradman's all-conquering Australians when the news came in the coach Andy Flower has left his position, to "spend more time running the United Nations". But the latest from the England camp is even more alarming - Captain Len Hutton announcing that Kevin Pietersen has been banished from the side, along with everyone else.

"The decision to cast KP into the abyss, along with Hobbs, Hammond, Barrington, Botham, Knott, Underwood, Larwood, Barnes and Trueman took a lot of guts. It was obviously a very big and important decision. Yes, we beat Bradman's lot in the summer and overcame Gavaskar's bunch in India the previous winter, but now it's time to move on. Moving forward so that we don't move backward. We all know how important team culture and unity are, and frankly, the bunch of chaps we have now are brilliant cricketers with huge egos who cause huge disruption in the dressing room. What we need to go forward is a quiet bunch of mediocre cricketers who'll do what I tell them and shut up"

It's well known that the dressing room has been a fractious place since last Tuesday, the day after Hutton had assured the world media that the dressing room was totally behind him. Botham, sources we can't possible reveal tell us, drinks too much and disrespected Hutton by playing "Jerusalem" on his armpit after the captain was dismissed for his 9th consequtive duck on the tour. Larwood refused to accept blame for the Ashes loss despite him being the top wicket-taker. Barnes wouldn't field a long-stop when Cook told him too, and was once seen smoking a pipe at 3rd man. Underwood's brilliant bowling can't make up for his shortcomings with the bat, and Hammond was shagging Cook's sister. And wife. And mother-in-law. Hobbs didn't talk to anyone else in the dressing room, and KP talked too much, in that annoying accent of his. He's also believed to have sent Aubery Faulkner a telegram in which he claimed Hutton couldn't pick Faulkner's googly, and described the Yorkshireman as a 'stinker'.

In an off-the-record meeting Trueman told Hutton that he couldn't stand Flower's coaching methods and David Saker's attempt to get him to bowl left-handed, and sadly, since the secret video of the entire meeting somehow got posted on Graham Gooch's YouTube account, his position is untenable. Despite Flower's resignation. And the fact that Trueman is England's greatest bowler, ever.

There's no actual dirt on Barrington or Knott, but in due course we'll make something up as to why the have been ditched.

Late news - New coach David Lloyd's 2nd best ever England side got off to a bad start when Clive Lloyd's West Indies dismissed them for 8. Broadly top-scored with 4 (chinese cut through 3rd man) but Cooky, Maddy, Trotty, Mogsy, Holly, Matty, Jimmy, Harmi and Ashley all made ducks. Malcolm Marshall took 7-0, but was then hospitalised with a fit of giggles, and Curtly Ambrose is now refusing to speak to his captain as he didn't even get a chance to bowl. New England cricket-supremo-for-life Andy Flower (no relation) blamed the defeat on 'the forces of darkness' and Jack Hobbs in particular.