Saturday, 8 October 2011

Plastic Mororway Police

Since travelling on Britains motorways on a daily basis, I have come to a realisation that the 'Highway's Agency Traffic Officers' (HATOs) are actually causing more problems than they solve.

Yesterday on my way home from work I saw two identical incidents with two very different outcomes:

1. Car travelling northbound had a flat tyre and was parked on the hard shoulder (probably waiting for the AA to come and change it.... (that's a whole other blog post in the waiting))

2. Another car travelling northbound one junction back had a flat tyre and was parked on the hard shoulder (probab.... you get the picture)

One of these incidents had the effect of causing a mile long tail-back and the other one didn't.

The only difference between the two was the addition of a HATO! I'm not arrogant enough to think that I have all the answers and know exactly what happened in each incident but what it looked like was that it was just a case of a car getting a flat tyre and waiting for assistance.

Granted, people are stupid and seem to want to slow down to look.. but only, it seems, if there is a HATO with its flashing lights on!

I'm a believer that if there is a serious incident that HATOs can be of use but let's face it; if an incident is serious enough - then you'd need real police there!

Thursday, 15 September 2011

The one that got away

Every day I drive north on the M1 to go to work. Around this time of year when the sun has just risen and we are in the golden hour there is one photo that I just cannot get!

It is not that I can't take it from a technical point; it is just that taking it would mean stopping illegally on the hard shoulder and, what with those Plastic Motorway Policemen driving up and down wasting fossil fuel, stopping would be inviting a big fine and points (maybe in today's police state; prison!)

The photo would be awesome though!

It is a farm field that has a gentle upwards and 'to the right' slope guiding the eye into the photo with a tree obeying the rule of thirds and a row of trees at the top of the field on the horizon that at certain times will either be perfectly silhouetted  or have gorgeous light streaming through them; lighting up the morning mist in the field....

It taunts me every day.

The one I want is better than this by a long-shot!

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Northumberland Holiday Diary- Day 7

Friday 26th August 2011

Final day today - booooo! Unbeknown to me, Anna changed the alarm time this morning from 0700 to 0730 - this left us with slightly less time to get breakfast, get the kids ready and pack up to meet Anna's sister at Berwick station. We arrived there just as the train was also arriving and picked her up. From there we went to Conundrum Farm which comprised a farm walk where you buy food and then feed the farm animals... Hmmm. That'd be a good little earner - I'll have to invest in a farm! a coffee shop and an indoor play area with about a dozen small pedal tractors for the kids to play on, a sand pit and a bouncy castle.

The walk lasted an hour and a half as it was punctuated with two children's play areas and a trout lake. Apparently there is an otter that is feasting on the trout! I wondered aloud what otter tasted like and got quite a few evil stares! - I'm now plainly a pariah in the borders area and will no longer be welcome there!

Lunch followed the walk and we sat on one of the picnic tables outside the farm complex. Post lunch, we took the kids into the indoor play area and they went wild for a couple of hours (well it seemed like a couple of hours...)

After looking around the shop and taking the time for a last-minute toiled break, we departed to head back to the cottage. Anna spent some time packing and I wrote this diary whilst Anna's sister played with the kids. The Girl had bought a knitting thing that had got four pins on it and apparently makes a tube... Whatever floats your boat!

I played the memory game with the Boy and comprehensively battered him - it'll do him good to lose every once in a while!

Following the game, I made dinner - Pizza for Anna, her sister and the kids and I had a Meatza

Anna's sister helped get the kids ready for bed and then I took her back to the station in Berwick before doing my packing - Only a 5.5 hour journey tomorrow to get to North Wales to see my parents for 6 days.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Northumberland Holiday Diary - Day 6

Thursday 25th August 2011

I cannot believe that this holiday is nearly over - it feels like we only unpacked the car yesterday. I must say; we have had a fantastic time so far and with only a few drops of rain on the first day the weather has been faultless - to the point that I actually have a little sunburn... Darn!

We got up today and the Boy insisted that I make him some bacon and eggs - good lad! I duly obliged. Not only did he have the same amount as me but he then asked for a slice of toast - greedy little monkey! There were some grey clouds in the sky as we were packing up to go out so I put on some jeans and a black long-sleeved t-shirt fully expecting the weather forecast to be accurate - cool with a few sunny periods. There was a sunny period... It lasted all day!! Yup! Glorious sunshine all day.

As I mentioned yesterday, we planned to go to Ford and Etal which is an area of 2 small villages with things in them that it seems are relying on economies of scale and creating a 'tour' that, if you did all of it, would take about two days! In between these 2 villages is another tiny place called Heatherslaw which boasts a narrow-gauge railway that runs to Etal and a flour-mill that is driven by a large waterwheel. We arrived in Heatherslaw and had a look in the tourist office, a very small and friendly place, to see what we could do in the area. Following this, we decided to have lunch on the green, outside the mill - there was a sand-pit there that the kids enjoyed playing in whilst we sat in the sun / shade and enjoyed a more leisurely lunch.

When we had finished lunch, we packed the stuff in the car and walked over the bridge to the railway station, bought tickets and boarded the train - 25 minutes later we were in Etal - A lovely, quaint village with white buildings and a pub with a thatched roof. We stopped for an ice-cream and sat outside the village shop / post office / gift shop etc... After this we decided to go for a walk by the river. The Boy was whining that he was tired, which in fairness he probably is due to many late nights! - we really must get him to bed earlier - 2000 hrs is far too late for a 4 year old!

We walked for about a mile down the river and then turned round with the intention of getting the train back at 1530. We just made it with minutes to spare!

We went back to the car and then set off for Ford and in particular to a coffee shop named 'The Old Dairy' - It was a fascinating place; a tiny coffee shop with seating for about 8 people inside and about 8 more outside. There were lots of old out-buildings that would have compromised the milking shed and stables. The owners had clearly gone into the furniture restoration business and the barns were filled with 'old stuff' like fireplaces and fittings that wouldn't have looked out of place in a National Trust property! The stables had been converted into mini shops where local businesses had rented space to sell their wares - There were a few antique dealers there and a photography shop that the local photographer (I forget his name but his photography was inspiring...) all of his photographs were titled and there was a story behind each one! Whilst we were there, we had a coffee and the Girl had a glass of milk and the boy had an Apple juice! We must have stayed there for about an hour before leaving to go back to the cottage. I cooked dinner, chicken drumsticks and home-made chips with roast veggies.

I still cannot believe that tomorrow is the last day! Anna's sister is coming to see us tomorrow, from Edinburgh, and we are going to pick her up from Berwick station @ 1000 hrs! Early day!

Friday, 2 September 2011

Northumberland Holiday Diary - Day 5

Wednesday 24th August 2011

Woke up at just before 0700 and looked out of the window darn! - Grey cloud! Oh well, the nice Geordie bloke on the weather channel said that it was gonna be a nice day so off we went! Well, after we had had breakfast and got ready - Breakfast was a rather continental affair for Anna and the kids - croissants and jam. I had a 4 egg omelette with mature cheddar on it. Quite a filling breakfast!

After what seemed like an eternity, we were ready - People so underestimate how long it takes to get organised when there are two kids to take out - I have no idea how people with more kids do it - Mr Blick - I salute you! You truly are a hero in parenting!

We decided to go to the beach that the lady that Anna was talking to at the park recommended - Embleton or something like that. I programmed the sat-nav and set off. When Brian announced that we were at our destination, I realized that we weren't actually at the coast... Hmmm - let's do this the old-fashioned way - Map out and driiiiiive! We found the beach very easily - it was right by a golf course so I did what may be considered unsporting... I stood and watched amateur golfers tee-off from the first - Nothing like an audience to add to the nerves! hee hee!

The beach was awesome - lovely white sand and, after the tide had gone out about 5 meters, lovely shallow shelving water! Did I mention that the sun had come out by this point? It was a beautiful day and the only downside to it was the fact that there was quite a strong cool wind coming off the sea! - Still, I'm a real man and a little bit of wind will not stop me from having fun. We flew the kites until I realized that the wind was actually too strong for them (they were only small toy kites) and brought the one I was flying down before any damage was done! Anna wasn't quite as fortuitous and managed to get hers tangled beyond belief! I sat for a good half-hour trying to unravel it but to no avail! It was well and truly borked! In the end I decided to just cut the line and remove the humongous tangle that way! - the nuclear option!

Following the kite flying, Anna decided to get the kids an ice-cream so I stayed on the beach and read disclosure (another Michael Crichton) whilst the 3 of them wandered back to the golf 'whatever it is that golfists go to after a round.' I guess that they ate the ice-creams whilst walking back from the golf thingy because they returned empty-handed. I have decided that Michael Crichton is an excellent author but the people who make films out of them are idiots! - Disclosure is a fantastic book. The detail that he impinges on the page is breathtaking!

The sun decided to play hide-and-seek for a while after this and try as we might; we couldn't find him at all! Seeing Anna shivering (which apparently she had been all afternoon!!) made our mind up that we were going to dump all the gear at the car and go for a walk round the headland. We trudged back to the car past the golfists again and I uttered quite a loud ooooooooooooooh as one of them sliced his tee-shot horribly! I don't know why I hate golf as much as I do..... Wait a minute.. It is because I am crap at it! I can decapitate daisies all day long but as soon as someone puts a golf ball down I seem to develop a fear of it and somehow I must think that if I hit it; it's gonna retaliate and whack me back! Consequently I cannot hit golf balls!

We unloaded all our stuff into the boot and set off, a little lighter than earlier for our walk! - We must have walked for a good mile and a half before we rounded the headland and saw the next bay - We definitely chose the best beach today! On the way to the headland we walked over some sand that was really white and it squeaked as you walked over it - just like Whistling Sands in North Wales. When we turned round to go back, the Boy threw a major wobbly saying "I'm tired" After remonstrating with him for a while; I relented and gave him a shoulder-ride.... over the soft sand... My calves are killing me now! I suddenly realized that while I was carrying the boy;I had just gained all the weight I had lost on The Harcombe Diet. I have successfully kept this weight off now for 11 months and found it incredibly easy!

We got back to the car and drove back to the cottage. Apparently the chip van is coming to Lowick tonight and I've got some fish in the freezer so Anna and the Girl can have fish supper, the Boy can have sausage supper and I'll have haggis supper (I had a haggis in the fridge!) - Why does haggis have to be phase 3 cheat?! I love the stuff! Beef heart, lamb's lungs and liver with oats and spices! Delicious!

I have just had my haggis supper and I'm now replete! No wine left so I'm gonna have a sparkling water and then chill out and relax - How the heck can I have written 900 words about a trip to the beach!!??

Off to Ford and Etal tomorrow.. Whatever that is!

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Northumberland Holiday Diary - Day 4

Tuesday 23rd August 2011

I genuinely thought that the kids would lie in today following yesterday's walk.. No such luck! 0645 - Knock knock! Grrrrr. Spent 15 minutes getting jumped on, grabbed, prodded and pinched by the kids and then thought 'sod this for a game of Rambo' and got up and had a bath. I needed it!

After the bath, it transpired that Anna had made bacon and eggs for her and the Boy and porridge for the girl - Nothing for me though; I had to get my own bacon and eggs - Still it was delicious!

We had decided to go to Holy Island today but due to the unique positioning of the moon; we couldn't go until 1145 hrs. This left us with 2 hours to kill... Hmmm... What to do! We ended up going for an explore of Lowick. We walked down to the bottom of the village and walked along a farm track for about a mile and then turned back. On the way back through the village, Anna spotted a 'cut through' and we followed it and came to a lovely play area that the kids spent a good 45 minutes playing in and making friends with some of the local kids.

After all this malarkey, we walked to the top of the village and then back to the cottage. We had lunch at the cottage, Tuna salad for Anna and I and cheese on toast for the kids.

After this we got ready to go to Holy Island and after a short drive; we arrived and parked up. Holy Island was nothing like I remembered simply because I don't remember anything about it at all! I think I must have been about 12 or 13 when I last went. We went into the castle there and added another £15 to our National Trust savings this year - Do the NT have a special air-freshener called 'old' as all NT properties smell exactly the same - Maybe it it is the perfume that the employees wear!

I was quite disappointed with the castle if I'm brutally honest - Maybe it was because it was so full and was really crowded. This made me feel like cattle heing herded round. The Girl had an activity sheet to do whilst walking round where she had to find 10 cellos in any of the rooms (small cellos). She eventually found them all and won a sticker!

It was a mile walk from the 'town' on Holy Island to the castle and I was impressed that The Boy managed to walk there and back without really complaining at all and after we got back to the town; we decided to have a coffee -  I think Anna found the mos expensive coffee shop on the island, but still, we are on holiday and she enjoyed her cappuccino!

After that, we got back to the car and drove back to the cottage via Berwick Tesco for some emergency supplies - Coffee! I made dinner which was spag bol for Anna and  the kids and I had home-made burgers!

I managed to finish 'Rising Sun' and it was a good read. Very well written, as per usual for Michael Crichton, I may well see if I can get hold of the film!

Anyway - bed time now and maybe off to the beach tomorrow as the weather is looking like it could be pretty good!


Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Northumberland Holiday Diary - Day 3

Monday 22nd August 2011

I ended up starting to read Rising Dawn by Michael Crichton - I figured that as I own The Vegetarian Myth and The Diet Delusion I could take them home and read them there - Like I have been for the last few months..... I only read for a wee while anyway as Anna turned the TV on and the Giants of the Ocean series was on - fascinating!

Woke up this morning at 0740... Positive lie-in! fell out of bed at 0800 and went downstairs to cook breakfast - Bacon and egg again! Fuel for busy holiday! At 0900 I took the kids to Tesco to get some supplies and gave Anna strict instructions to have a soak in the bath - it is not often that she gets that chance to do this looking after the kids all day. She gave me a kiss and said she appreciated it - When we got back I told her that I'd forgotten to get the decaf filter coffee - I think the bath lessened the blow somewhat!

After unpacking the shopping, we got ready and got out at 1100 hrs with the intention of going to Dunstanburgh castle and Craster. We soon realized that we would have to park just outside Craster and then walk to the castle (1/4 miles).. One problem... No parking spaces and a mahoosive queue for any spaces that may become available.. We ended up knocking that on the head and driving around for a while to look for somewhere to have lunch. We ended up in Howick and spotted a path that looked like it led down to the coast. We followed it and found a lovely secluded cove with some great rock-pools. We had lunch in the cove which consisted of Tuna salad etc.

After doing some climbing of a sheer rock face with some great hand holds - about 30 feet - I am not a climber and have no equipment and I made the mistake of looking down when I was halfway up.. I'm not a fan of heights and got pretty scared - Still, we are told to do one thing per day that scares us.. I class getting up and going to work as this but alas, no work here! The Girl, sensibly, took the long way up the cliff and I managed to surprise her at the top. We then explored the rock-pools on the other side. After about an hour of exploring, we thought we'd walk along the coast-path to Craster and get the kids an ice-cream. It turned out to be about 3.5 miles which, with the kids, took about an hour and 20 minutes.

Ice-cream successfully bought we sat in the harbour and rested and made a good attempt at getting up-wind from the decaying seaweed smell that seemed to be permeating! After the ice-cream we found a coffee shop and Anna had a coffee while I took the kids to a park that I saw on the coastal-path. The kids were knackered by this time so we 'cast lots' and I drew the short straw and had to run back the 3.5 miles to get the car. We agreed that I'd go back, get the car and then drive back to Craster and pick Anna and the kids up from the park or the harbour (< 5 mins walk away) in 45 minutes (I allowed 35 minutes to jog back to the car and 10 minutes to get back to them)

I was quite pleased that I managed to get back to the car in 25 minutes which for a non-runner who hates running isn't too bad. I got back to the car. Sweaty and out of breath, practically collapsed into the car and had a much needed drink of water and then drove back to Craster. I got back to the park 35 minutes after I left so I sat in the car by the park waiting for Anna and the kids. After 10 minutes and they hadn't showed up; I assumed that they'd be at the harbour, so I set off there. Nope... No joy there either.. Back to the park... Still no sign of them.. After 15 minutes of fruitless driving around; I parked the car in a semi-legal place (I hoped the JCB didn't want to move - it looked ancient and totally trashed but you never know with JCBs....) and set off to look for them on foot. After another 10 minutes of searching with not a snifter of them the anger had turned to 'mild to moderate' concern - Where could they be? After another 10 minutes, the 'mild to moderate' concern had turned to worry... Had they fallen off a cliff, got mugged or gone off to the castle (We had no mobile phone signal anywhere in the area - bloody T-Mobile and Orange!!!)

10 Minutes later and worry was slowly turning to controlled panic - I had decided that one of the kids had fallen off a rock and was injured so they had gone to Hospital. I had pretty much decided that this was the outcome when who should come trotting round the corner FROM OUTSIDE CRASTER but Anna, herein after known as 'Can't Follow Instructions - or CFI, and the kids. Had they been half an hour earlier; I'd have been cross! However, I was so relived to see them that any residual anger melted away incredibly quickly! Turns out that Anna thought she'd do me a favour and wait by the main road into Craster on a bench near to the tourist information centre and they'd not banked on my running prowess and thus decided to have a 2 minute (Yeah right! 2 female getting ready minutes) browse! - This must have been the exact moment that I'd driven past and back into Craster! I remember being in the air-cadets and always being told that when you get split up from your squad and radio contact has been lost - Head for the RV and wait! Unfortunately Anna was not privy to such advanced military training and waited in an 'unknown to me' location negating any chance of me picking her up!

We drove back to Lowick via Belford to get some decaf filter coffee from the Co-Operative there - Alas they had none so it looks like Earl Grey tomorrow morning. We got back to the cottage at 1750 and I started to cook dinner - Fish, home-made chips and roast veggies for everyone except me who had haggis with roast veggies!

As I type, the kids are getting their PJs on and cleaning their teeth and then I'm gonna read the Girl a story and then have a glass of wine and drum into Anna that, when separated with no contact, HEAD TO THE RV!!!!' (In fairness to her - she was incredibly apologetic and now realizes the importance of sticking to plan!) - Oh! Just thought! When we were reunited; Anna said that she thought I'd got lost...... As if!! I had Brian Blessed guiding me and had a perfectly serviceable map on the passenger seat already open on page 55! (Northumberland)

Right - The Girl is whining for a story ;) I'm gonna go and read her one and then get a glass of wine and maybe some strawberries and cream and then chill out for a bit!

Holy Island tomorrow! - Can't get there till 1145 due to the tides so a lie-in or an explore of Lowick may be in order!

Peace out!

Monday, 29 August 2011

Northumberland Holiday Diary - Day 2

Sunday 21st August 2011

12th Wedding anniversary today - Anna an I both got each other cards but both forgot to write them - What a pair of clowns! I slept brilliantly; Anna not so. I think it is the old 'first night in a new place.' The boy woke us up at 0640 and we tried unsuccessfully to have a lie-in. After a while, I thought "sod it"; went downstairs and cooked breakfast - Bacon and eggs - delicious!

After getting ready to go out, we departed for Bamburgh to see the Grace Darling museum. Anna and The girl had read the story of Grace for one of the Girl's school projects. It was good for them to see where she was born, where she was so heroic and then when she died. We went into the church there - St Aiden's. It was so cold and foreboding - It made me so glad that I'm part of a lively and charismatic church.

After this, we walked around Bamburgh and decided we'd go back to the car and head for the beach. The weather wasn't great but 'to heck with it!' We hit Bamburgh beach at about 1345 and decamped to have lunch - Sandwiches for the family and sardines for me! Then the rain came... There is nothing like the feeling of sitting on a beach - looking at sunny weather down the coast whilst wearing your kagool! Soon enough, the rain blew over and the sun kind of came out. We got the kites out attempted to fly them... It was all going totally tango-uniform until a nice bloke told us that our tails were too short.... That's the first time I've heard that - honest!! ;) The nice bloke's recommendation was to tie a small bit of drift-wood to the kite's tail and the extra weight of that would ensure that the kite flew better.

In fairness - Anna got it to fly pretty well whilst The Girl and I were messing about in the surf

The bloke was right!

The kites flew brilliantly with this 'mod' and much merriment was had especially when the Girl and I 'crossed streams' and the world nearly ended (big tangle). It took about 15 minutes to sort out the tangle and after that normal frivolity was resumed.

At about 1700 hrs we decided to go go and look for a shop so we could eat - I really couldn't stomach another haggis supper - Delicious but I'm not used to all the carbs and my belly told me so! Anyhow, someone in Seahouses told Anna that there was a shop that was likely to be open in Belford and we set off with Brian Blessed guiding us.

Woo hoo! - The shop in Belford was open and it was a Co-operative and a reasonably priced one at that! So I ended up getting a Chorizo ring and mixed leaf salad for me and some sausages for everyone else. (I knocked up a roast veggie cous cous with some salad leaves as well as the sausages for everyone else)

After that, kids showered and PJs on and then to bed. This leaves Anna reading to the Girl and me, having read to the Boy, downstairs typing this! - I think I'll have a glass of wine and read more of The Vegetarian Myth. I feel a little torn as there are two Michael Crichton novels here that I don't think I've read... Hmmm study or fun.. I am on holiday... Ooohh - The choice!

Still undecided....

I'll have some wine and then decide - Tell you tomorrow! :)

Peace out dudez - and that was day 2!

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Northumberland Holiday Diary - Day 1

Saturday 20th August 2011

Rudely awakened by my mobile phone alarm - playing a ridiculously upbeat melody. Just what a person needs when they have a busy day ahead of them! Rolled out of bed and stumbled downstairs to get breakfast and get the boy ready for his swimming lesson. I haven't done that since taking the girl! I had forgotten how mind-numbingly boring it was..

When I got back home from this, I was pleasantly surprised to see that Anna had already packed a vast majority of the car and all I had to do was pack the roof-box oh and do my packing - 15 minutes later, I had packed my bag and got all of my electronics together and lobbed em' in the car.

We eventually got in the car at 1030 and hit the road. The journey was uneventful except for the couple of times that the A1 came to a stop for absolutely no reason whatsoever. I can only assume that people had slowed down to gorp at something; probably someone who had 'fallen off the road' - Grrrr!! I was very pleased that even with a fully-laden roof-box, I managed to get fuel economy of 68 mpg which is better than I get driving to work (like a granny - no offence meant to any of the boy-racer grannies who may or may not be reading this!)

We stopped for a drink at a service station on the A1 and despite the proliferation of 'Costa Coffee's' there really wasn't much else there. The prices there were ridiculous! Fuel, for example was £1.47 per litre... Talk about ripping people off. Saying that though; who sets off on a long journey without brimming the tank at home, just to avoid such a scenario!

We arrived at the cottage @ 1600 hrs (as predicted by me) and when we stepped inside - WOW! It was like a home from home. Brilliantly kitted out with everything thought of. There was even a 'welcome' bottle of wine on the work top with 2 glasses. It is these touches that make a holiday so good! The kitchen was kitted out almost better than mine, complete with dishwasher and dishwasher tablets! There was also a washing machine and tumble dryer and with all the fuel included in the price - well, what more can you say?

After unpacking we decided to head into Berwick-Upon-Tweed to 'get a lie of the land' and work out where to go shopping. We ended up having fish and chips (or haggis and chips in my case) by the town wall - was very nice.

We got back from Berwick and got the kids ready for bed and then relaxed with a glass of red and chilled out before going to bed ourselves!

And that was day 1!

Monday, 25 July 2011

I'm not listening.

Whilst doing PA on Sunday; something struck me (and it wasn't a bible thrown by an elderly woman because the sound was too loud....) Sound engineering can be psychological

Working with different personalities can be very interesting and rewarding. You sometimes need to develop conflict resolution skills when you have competing for space in the monitor mix. More interesting though is when you have a singer asking to be louder in the monitors and the moment you put your finger on the knob they give you the 'thumbs up' to say that they are fine and they can hear.

At first I thought that this was just the placebo effect but having thought about it yesterday, whilst enjoying a lovely afternoon sitting in the garden with my amazing wife, I came to a startling conclusion..

When you move your finger towards the desk to increase their level - the singer begins to 'listen' to them-self in the mix and isolate them-self thus enabling them to hear better.

I was talking about this to a friend at work this morning whilst getting our morning coffee / chewing the fat about our respective weekends and he came up with an interesting take on it that was quite profound. So credit to Richard for this:

"It is like that with God.. He is speaking to us all of the time but so often we get distracted by the sounds of life that surround us and distract us."

If we can learn to filter that out and listen - we can then quite easily discern God's will for our lives/

Sometimes it takes a friend to 'move their hand towards the desk' and really focus us.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Lunatic Advice...

There was an article on the BBC today about a study that is recommending that people over 55 are routinely prescribed statins and blood-pressure lowering tablets.

Check the link

Interestingly the study's lead researcher Professor Sir Nicholas Wald is also the director of The Wolfson Institute who's sponsors include the following:

    Barts and The London Charity
    British Heart Foundation
    BUPA Foundation
    Camden PCT
    Cancer Research UK
    City and Hackney PCT
    CSIP - Care Services Improvement Partnership
    DH - Department of Health
    EPSRC - Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
    ESRC - Economic and Social Research Council
    EU - Commission of the European Community
    Fetal Anomaly Screening Programme (NHS)
    Genomica SA Sociedad Unipersonal
    Glaxo Smith Kline
    Home Office
    HTA - Health Technology Assessment Programme (NHS)
    Institute of Child Health
    McNeil AB
    Memorial Sloan Kettering
    MHRA - Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency
    MRC - Medical Research Council
    NicoNovum AB
    NIH - National Institute for Health (US)
    Princess Grace Hospital
    Royal Society of Medicine Press
    Tower Hamlets PCT
    Wellcome Trust
    Wolfson Foundation

Pharmaceutical companies highlighted

From here

So what we've got is a man 'Professor Sir' who is funded by drug manufacturers recommending that everyone over 55 takes more drugs


C... O... N... F... L... I... C... T... E... D...

Does anyone else see this? And have the BBC pointed this out?

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Why Benecol et al are complete crap!

It is quite simple really:

Pregnant women should not take statins as the lowering of cholesterol has been found to be associated (I'm not prepared to say causes - unlike some reputable people I have integrity and understand the difference between causation and association) with birth defects in babies.

Egg yolks contain a lot of cholesterol and they grow into healthy chickens thus growing animals need cholesterol.

If Benecol et al actually did anything to reduce cholesterol in a meaningful way - they'd be prescription-only; not sold to anyone who wants to spread something on their bread that is a couple of molecules away from plastic!

Thursday, 14 April 2011

The Modern, Streamlined NHS

I'm starting to think that Andrew Lansley has been appointed for one purpose and one purpose alone.

Raping the NHS.

Looking at the evidence, he has been brought in as the Secretary of State for Health with the remit of making a lot of unpopular changes at a time of economic instability. He has been fed like a sacrificial lamb to the nurses at their recent conference - although it was interesting that he only faced a small group of them - all this at the time when the new health bill is in the process of being passed through parliament. This means that the bill is basically final and the NHS will be kicked into a new shape and Lansley will be long-forgotten following his impending departure.

Working for the NHS; I have a real fear of how these changes will pan out - true, there is going to be less money in the system and all those poor trusts that have been pushed down the PFI route are being squeezed by the companies that have them by the balls. One trust was quoted over £1000 per wireless access point in its new treatment centre... That was just to put them up - The cabling was already there.... Apparently this trust got outside contractors in who put them up for a princely sum of £109 each. This, ladies and gentlemen is why PFI was always doomed to fail!

I hate the fact I have gone political with this blog but hey! Needs must.. The last shower of morons have saddled Britain with massive debt and the new shower of imbeciles are trying to get private business to get us out. Am I alone in thinking that private business's number one goal is to maximise profit and return for shareholders? - Does anyone else see any problems with this?

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Good old Samsung

Don't get me wrong; I love my laptop. But... (there is always a but..)

The keyboard is a demented layout.

The 'home' key is situated just to the right of the 'backspace' key. This means that if you type like an uneducated buffoon (me) and make loads and loads of mistakes; you end up hitting the 'home' key instead of 'backspace' and the following happens:

le sentence to Sampo

I meant to backspace the o and - you get the point!

Yes - I know I need to learn to type better.

Friday, 4 March 2011

People *must* be stupid

I was listening to Radio 4 this morning and there has been a study done at Leeds University, looking at labels on medicines:

They have come to the conclusion that the labels need to be updated to better reflect what the patient needs to do.

Some gems are:

The replacement of 'Avoid alcohol' with 'Do not drink alcohol whilst taking this medicine'

Apparently 'Avoid alcohol' is a bit ambiguous! Apparently some people genuinely thought that it meant 'Just cut down alcohol intake' Yeah, right! - 'Avoid oncoming traffic' is also ambiguous - It really means 'only clip a few oncoming cars'

'This medicine may cause drowsiness'. Apparently this is also ambiguous so they are going to replace it with 'This medicine may make you feel sleepy' - I bet the other 6 dwarfs are jealous!

Who exactly did they interview to garner this level of stupidity and failure to understand English?

Was it this fellow?

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Anatomy of a Dragonforce song

Keyboard intro - played fast

Drums kick in - so dull it could be a drum machine

Random power chords

Some lyrics about it being Cold/Early/Dark and riding towards a wasteland/distant shore

More lyrics about fighting - usually with swords and usually about demonic herds

Mental guitar solo which seems to consist of going up and down scales as fast as is humanly possible

Drum variation - usually just three beats in a triplet.

Music ceases and vocals continue - Usually about victory

Slow bit.. Plenty of wooooah's

Keyboard and drums come back in!

Do this 7 times and you've got a whole album"

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

DVLA woes and a rubbish website..

I tried to renew my good lady wife's car tax today. Not a massive job and should take a few minutes online..

Then I encountered

I use the combination of Ubuntu and Chromium for my browsing and when I navigated to the tax disc application form; I got a lovely error message

"Sorry our site is down for maintenance - you can either try again later or queue at a post office with all your documents and money.."

No problem, I'll try again later - An hour passes; same message..

Another hour passes; same message..

I'm getting a little cheesed off at this point so I think, "I'll try Firefox" Worked straight away...

This got me thinking; what would happen if I tried again (after successfully paying with Firefox) in Chromium?

Yup - Same error message - down for maintenance!

Lying morons!!!! - Why not just say that my browser is unsupported!

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

If I were to open a Chinese Restaurant

... I'd call it "Take a Wok on the Wild Side"


I'll get me coat!

Friday, 14 January 2011

Change4Life Voucher Scheme is an Insult

The Change4Life Voucher scheme has been blasted as insulting according to the 'Children's Food Campaign' in a nutshell here is why:

  • Shoppers would need to spend more than double the amount thy'd get back in discounts to be able to use the vouchers
  • Half of the savings are on one thing - Weight Watchers 3 month plan (incidentally; this is available on the WW site without the voucher.
  • It would be massively cheaper to buy supermarket own-brand products even after the discount. Kellogs (one of the sponsors) Cornflakes in ASDA are £1.97. With the discount you pay £1.47.. ASDA own-brand cornflakes..... £0.98.. Here's the kicker.. The ASDA own-brand ARE BETTER FOR YOU!! Much less salt!
Do yourself a favour - use common sense. Don't subscribe to this ridiculous scheme which has been dreamt up by the corporate sponsors of the Change4Life scheme. have bacon and eggs for breakfast or porridge!

Here is a final word to Christine Haigh (Children's Food Campaign) :
“This analysis exposes the Great Swapathon for what it really is – a great marketing opportunity for the companies involved, but of little benefit to consumers’ pockets or health.  Sadly, this attempt at promoting healthier products is dwarfed by advertising for junk food.  Until the government takes steps to address this, such as by protecting children from unhealthy food marketing, we’re unlikely to see the UK shift from its unenviable position at the top of Europe’s obesity league table.”