Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Cane or breast for naughty pupils 

Ananova reports: "A schoolteacher has been suspended in Zimbabwe for allegedly giving pupils the choice of being caned or suckling her breasts....... The boy claimed he was asked to choose between suckling the teacher's breasts or receiving 100 strokes of the cane for being noisy.".

Given that choice, I know which option I'd have picked, though i'ts not the one that a number of members of a certain 'house of ill repute', in the Westminster district of London, might be imagined to choose.

I have to wonder whether the child abuse charges would relate to the threat of 100 strokes of the cane or the suckling of her breasts? If they relate to suckling her breasts would any charges have been laid for 100 strokes of the cane?

Swiss referee goes into hiding 

Ananova reports: "Swiss referee Urs Meier has been given police protection and gone into hiding in his homeland after claiming he'd received death threats from England fans.....

But a defiant Meier, speaking on the telephone from where he was being kept in protective custody, said the 'whole world' knew his decision was '100% correct' - and added he had no regrets."

No Mr Meier, the whole world doesn't think your decision was 100% correct. It was a homer decision at the very least and I really wonder would you have made the same decision had it been at the other end?

Having said that all the attention he is getting from the media and certain mindless elements, that can't get it into their heads that losing a game isn't really a matter of life and death, is really over the top and out of hand. Our football was horrible to watch, Portugal played the best football on the night, get over it, I have.

Oh and Mr Meier, the best referee's really do go unnoticed, those that want to be noticed do tend to make a lot of controversial decisions.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

And There's More 

Where was I? Oh yes..... Tuesday, we ate out on Tuesday at the Beresford Arms Hotel in Whalton near Morpeth, the food was pretty good quality but there wasn't much of it so it gets the thumbs down on my value for money scale. I mean £8 for haddock and chips, according to Mrs C the haddock was nice enough but, she only got about 6 chips and there was no salad or vegetable of any sort to accompany it. I was all for complaining but Mrs C said to leave it, so I did, vowing never to return.

Following, all too soon, off the back of Tuesday was Wednesday, the forecast was for clouds with rain showers, so we decided that it might be better to visit somewhere with a bit more going on where if absolutely necessary we could find something of interest more of the indoors variety, so Durham became the choice for the day. Despite originating from Middlesbrough, almost on Durham's doorstep so to speak, I'd never actually visited the city properly. A quick scoot down the A1 and we were there in no time, if the weather turned really nasty we could shoot up the A1 to the Metrocentre and take in a film at the multi screen cinema that they had there. That option wasn't necessary as the forecasters got it wrong, the day stayed nice and bright and it was even quite warm throughout. Both the Cathedral and Castle proved to be worth visiting. I was surprised to learn that the castle is actually part of Durham University and is used a residences for selected post graduate students. Visits to the castle are by guided tour only and cost £3-50 per person, payable at the bursers office. The tour guide is a knowledgeable post grad' student who obviously loves the building and it's architecture. On the way back to the cottage we stopped off at a pub on the outskirts of Ponteland, I think it was called The Badger, which seemed to be a pretty popular pub and the food was pretty good too.

As the evening drew on and we prepared to retire to bed the heavens opened and in the quietness of the countryside the wind howling seemed to be worse than it probably was, though it did wake us several times during the night.

Thursday morning greeted us with a grim outlook, wet, wet and more wet. Not only that it was cold too. We decided today was not a day to venture very far, so we nipped up the road 5 miles and visited Wallington Hall a national trust property. The rain didn't let up so after trooping round the house we headed for the cafe, it was packed. We decided against walks around the estate, and headed back towards a cafe I'd seen a signpost for back near the main road. That turned out to be a bit of a find, for the sign was for Kirkharle Courtyard a bit of a craft centre but also the birthplace of the well known landscape designer; Capability Brown. Although there wasn't much of interest for us in the craft line the small exhibition is worth a look if you are ever passing by on the A696, the food in the cafe was excellent.

The Friday came, it was our last chance to visit the place we'd wanted to visit from the day we booked the cottage, Holy Island. The weather had changed overnight we were greeted by a bright blue sky and even the sun made an appearance. Just what was called for, for a visit to this far flung corner of England. The island for those not in the know is connected to the mainland by a causeway that is covered at high tide, so advance knowledge of the local tide tables is needed before planning a visit. The visit was very enjoyable. Lindisfarne Castle which has a small garden designed by Gertrude Jekyll and, whose more recent interior design were influenced by Edwin Lutyens was well worth a visit as were The Priory ruins. Once again we were disappointed by the food on offer in the local tea rooms, two establishments were shut on Fridays, and the one we choose to eat in was ok, but that was about it. The salad garnish offered with the sandwiches, was two pieces of damp lettuce, a slice of tomato and a slice of cucumber. Having said that the cost of the sandwiches was probably on a par with what we got. I'd say we should have headed for a pub or the hotel just near priory. After a busy day of tramping about the island, Mrs C did really well and didn't seem too affected by al the walking, we drove back to the cottage along the coast road, briefly stopping off to take photos of Bamburgh Castle which sits in a very impressive coastal setting, a visit to view the interior has been marked down for our next visit to the area.

Saturday was all too soon upon us, and the weather promised showers. Our route home took us via Houseteads Roman fort on Hadrians Wall, where we stopped off to get yet more value from our National Trust membership. What an incredible position this fort sits in, and what the poor Romans manning it must have thought in the depths of winter I can only guess, for it was damned cold and windy on this June day, and as the rain started to come down we were quite glad to get back to the warmth of the car. The rest of the journey home was only broken by a stop off at The Brief Encounter Tea Rooms" at Langwathby. Now the food here was good value.

Highlights of the holiday were virtually everywhere that we visited, plus waking up every morning to watch a family of 9+ wild rabbits eagerly munching grass on the lawns surrounding the property, watching falcons hovering over the fields around the cottage, and the 3 pied wagtails that visited each morning looking for breadcrumbs around the picnic table.

If you have never been to Northumberland, then you are really missing out on some great sights and scenery.

Monday, June 28, 2004

I Wish I Wasn't Here 

Yes I'm back at work after a marvelous week in Northumberland and obviously I wish I wasn't here. Although the weather wasn't as good as it had been over the preceding weeks it stayed dry for the entire week apart from Thursday.

The journey over the Pennines was fairly uneventful though a refreshments stop at Alston, the highest market town in England left us a little disappointed. It seemed a strange, somewhat run down, sort of place. In fact, maybe we picked the wrong pub to refresh ourselves in, but we came away comparing the place to the TV series; 'League Of Gentlemen'. Why is it in Britain that so many places stop serving hot food after 2pm? It's something that really gets my goat. Anyway we arrived at the cottage without mishap having enjoyed some really great scenery on the drive across. The cottage was as usual up to a good standard and everything we hoped for and expected. It was in a fairly remote spot and was very, very quiet. We were surrounded by beautiful English countryside at it's best.

On Sunday we took a drive up to Rothbury, about 20 miles north of our base, to visit the Cragside Estate, See image to the right. What a superb estate it was too, it was owned by Lord William Armstrong and in the 1880s the house had hot and cold running water, central heating, fire alarms and telephones, and was the first house in the world to be lit by electricity. The gardens too were excellent and included a 6 mile drive around the estate. If you are in the area it is well worth a visit. Dispite feeling a little tired at the end of the visit, Mrs C was pleased that we'd took in as much as we could the time available.

Monday saw us visit Alnwick Castle and gardens. The castle of course was used for a number of scenes shot in the Harry Potter movies. Again it was an impressive building with great views across Capability Brown landscapes. The gardens unfortunately were less impressive, this was mainly due to them still being under construction, with a number of areas not due to be ready until Autumn this year. The areas open including the, newly completed, cascade were well planned and worth seeing, but the entry cost of £4 was overpriced for what there was to see. It will be well worth the price once everything is complete. As we paid a combined price of £7 each to visit both attractions it didn't feel so bad. I'd have been well miffed though if I had only paid to see the gardens. Rain threatened all day but in the main held off apart from a short downpour whilst we were in the castle cafe.

Onwards to Tuesday and a visit to Kielder Water and Forest. Again thehe weather held out, there was a slight breeze but it was warm enough and there was no sign of rain during the visit. The lake is the largest man made lake in Europe, in terms of volume and is an impressive feat of engineering. The dam wall, which is 170' high, has been heavily landscaped and just appears to be another rolling hill as you approach from the front. It's only when you get to a level to see the lake behind it that you realise there is a dam there at all. We took a trip around the lake on the ferry and were treated to a commentary on numerous lake and forest facts and figures. Apparently 1,000 tons per day of timber are cut from the forest but, as a managed forest, 1,000 tons of timber grows per day to replace that cut down. The forest was originally planted as a coniferous forest, but today more and more native deciduous trees are being planted to encourage more of our native smaller birds to take up residence in the area. It's working judging by the number of chaffinches that I saw flitting around the picnic areas. It's another place well worth a visit.

I'll break there for today's blog, but will write up about the rest of the week later maybe tomorrow. meanwhile a selection of photographs from last week can be viewed here.

Friday, June 18, 2004

Bye For Now 

Well after this post, I'll be off on a weeks holiday as mentioned in an earlier post. My apologies to Zoe for mentioning the H word but we really need this, I know that she'll understand. I should be back around the 28th June, by which I'll be another year older. Yes I'll be away from home on my birthday, a week today so we'll have to find somewhere special to visit that day and wherever we go on the evening, it will be somewhere I've never been before.

We plan to set off tomorrow around 1pm and head up the M6 to Penrith, then we'll cut across country though Alston and into Hadrian's Wall country before connecting with the Newcastle to Jedburgh road and searching for our rented cottage in the Belsay area. From the description it seems fairly remote and is 4 miles from the nearest shop and pub/restaurant, so we'll be stocking up tonight.

I hope you will all be still around when I get back.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Things Are Not Quite what They Seem: 

Ananova reports - : "A German zoologist says bees aren't as busy as people are led to believe....... 'Bees are not particularly hardworking. Instead they sleep a lot and are lazy. They spend up to 80% of the night sleeping and even during the day they often fly to the nest where they rest their wings.'"

So next time you are nodding off in your shed, when you should be doing jobs around the house and, your other half calls you lazy, just tell them that you are as 'Busy As A Bee' and tell them Professor Randolf Menzel will back you up.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Luther Update. 

TheBostonChannel.com reports: "Richard Marx says it's doubtful Luther Vandross will ever perform again"

Things don't look good for him returning to his singing career.

World's first mobile phone virus strikes! 

The Advertiser reports: THE world's first virus which infects mobile phones has been found – prompting fears of a new generation of assaults on information technology systems.

Oh boy! That's all we need, thank gookness I've not progressed to such technology.

Days That Shook The World! 

Those of a nervous disposition should look away now. Something unheard of is about to be revealed to an unsuspecting world:

Our customer who has been dithering, for nearly 3 years, on signing a contract to purchase our mainstream product, has finally put pen to paper and have committed themselves to a £2.6M deal for our product. This should guarantee to keep me in a job for at least two years. Pity I don't get to see all of that money.

Now we have the slightly dangerous task of delivering something, that works, early next year.

I nearly forgot to add; the ink had barely dried on the contract when one of their business managers asked to change the specification. KERCHING!

Warning! You Are Entering A Blast Area! 

coffdrop may explode without warning


From Go-Quiz.com

Nicked from Brean again

What Makes Me? 

How to make a coffdrop

5 parts mercy

3 parts brilliance

3 parts empathy
Layer ingredientes in a shot glass. Add emotion to taste! Do not overindulge!


Personality cocktail
From Go-Quiz.com

Nicked from Brean

Friday, June 11, 2004

The World Extremity Test 

Rum and Monkey: The World Extremity Test:
I am the Atacama Desert!

Which Extremity of the World Are You?
From the towering colossi at Rum and Monkey.

Thanks to Laura at Green Boogers for the link.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

And Then, Nothing Happened. 

It's been a pretty uneventful week so far, the postal voting rubbish was sent out, with suitable protest votes cast, not that it will make a lot of difference, as no doubt the post office will conspire to mislay shed loads of ballot papers until after the closing date. Mrs C signed my declaration of ID to prove that; I am who I say I am, which seemed a pretty pointless exercise as unless I protest that I didn't get my ballot papers who is going to bother to check that the validation papers are signed by a valid person? Stupid, the whole exercise is a waste time of money. The lunatics have taken over the asylum.

Onto more exciting things, I did something I've been meaning to do for a few weeks now, it's not exciting really, I went out and got myself a haircut. I got to the barbers and there were 4 in the queue before me, I would have walked out and gone back another day but I was desperate and it couldn't be put off any longer. Is there anything worse than sitting in a barbers for over an hour listening to inane chatter interrupted by bloody awful music blaring out of some god awful local radio station. I think not, they should give you anesthetic before you go into these places.

Anyway on the way back to the car, I passed a Music Zone shop and espied an album on sale, for £4-97, that looked a veritable bargain. So to cheer myself up I purchased a copy of The Kinks Singles Collection. That should go some small way to replacing a fair few tunes that I lost on vinyl LP's, in the great garage flood of April 2000. Not all but a few.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Disaster Averted, I Think..... 

As I was preparing to retire to bed last night I managed to spill a glass of Merlot onto our light blue living room carpet. Imagine my horror to witness a large dark red stain spread out form the initial area of spillage. Arrrggghhhh!

Thankfully Mrs C was in bed and unaware of what I was up to downstairs. I quickly ran into the kitchen and poured some of Mrs C's white wine into a small glass and started about dowsing the red stain with the white wine, I hoped it would solve a rather nasty predicament that I was envisaging in my befuddled mind. I heard white wine would remove such stains if applied quickly enough. The plan seemed to be working, the darkness was disappearing only to be replaced with the darkness caused by wetness, or so I hoped, it was hard to see in artificial light, it was also replaced by the strong smell of fermented grape juice coming from the carpet.

Hmmmmm.... "What next?" thought I. the answer; wash the carpet with warm soapy water, Well that idea added to the wetness, and the damp patch grew larger, still it looked cleaner than when I started. A quick scrub with a dry cloth took away some of the dampness and I started to feel a bit happier. Then an idea struck, Vanish Stain remover, I'd seen some under the sink. I duly fished it out tried to decipher the hard to read instructions and liberally sprayed the area with the mousse. A damp cloth was then applied to the mixture rubbing the mousse into the carpet as instructed and then and only then did I retire to bed, leaving the concoction to dry overnight so it could be hoovered in the morning.

Nothing was said to Mrs C until I phoned her from work this morning. "How's the carpet?" I asked. "Wet" was her reply. "What on earth were you doing last night?" she asked. At this I confessed all and took the admonishment for using some Mrs C's white wine, but apart from that it seems the potentially disastrous stain was averted.


Wednesday, June 02, 2004

All Done And Dusted 

Well we booked the main holiday for the year on Saturday morning, so now we really have something to look forward to. Unfortunately we couldn't get in the hotel we had in mind in Calvi, Corsica and we either didn't like the look of the alternatives offered or they were way too expensive. So with that fait accompli forced upon us, we changed to one of our standby options and asked the travel agent to see what she could find available in Paphos, Cyprus in September, within our price range.

After a lot of searching and ummming and ahhing by ourselves we eventually plumped for 11 nights in the Riu Cypria Bay Hotel in the Sovereign brochure. The added bonus of picking Cyprus as our fall back destination was that we could go on a mini cruise to see the pyramids in Egypt during our stay. The full blown Nile cruise can wait for another time.

Now we really have something to look forward to in September.

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