Archive for October, 2008

Karting

Yesterday I took a trip out to Swindon Karting centre with Matt and Ed to enjoy a few laps round the track. Some might find it incredible but I hadn’t actually been go-karting before so I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I’m glad we made the effort though as it was a thoroughly enjoyable hour or so. We had time both on and off the track and were able to spend time observing others to improve technique.

Watching others whiz round the track makes you think it is an easy pass time but I can assure you its no where near as easy as it looks. Corners approach suddenly and the rear end of the cart swings out quite wildly if you brake too hard on the approach or accelerate too much on the exit.

Sadly victory wasn’t to be mine on any of the sessions we had on the track, but as my print out showed, I at least improved lap on lap against my previous efforts. We all definitely want to go again at some point though and I don’t think it will be long before I find myself in a go-kart once more.

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Closed Snicket

At the end of my street there is a convenient snicket, just wide enough to allow a car to pass through, that affords me easy access to the main road and when I get there, an easier right or left turn than if I had used the proper route.

Sadly road works are currently taking place at the end of my street and have blocked access to the snicket. I realised this yesterday morning when I tried to use it to get to work. I was forced to go the long way round and wait 5 minutes for a gap in both sides of the traffic so I could turn right. I hope these works are soon finished as driving out of my street is so much more painful without this lifesaver of a cut through.

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Credit Crunch Song

This was featured this morning on BBC Radio Swindon so I thought I’d share it with those of you who have yet to hear it. The tune certainly made me chuckle.

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Low Bridge

If you drive a large vehicle and come across a sign warning of a low bridge and displaying a maximum height less than that of your method of transportation, what do you do? Most would say they turn around and go an alternative route, but it appears that, in Swindon at least, the solution is just to carry on going and hope you will get though.

The problem with this attitude is that they haven’t yet invented a lorry that can defy the laws of physics and this morning, on my way down the hill from Old Town as I journeyed to work, one truck driver found this out to his, and every other motorist’s cost.

As I approached the railway bridge I noticed the queue for the lights was a long one, even for the morning rush hour. After sitting stationary for over 5 minutes and realising that I might very well be late for work, I nudged out slightly into the middle of the road in the hope I might get a look at what the problem was. I saw to my horror that a lorry was stuck fast underneath the bridge and that while the odd car was getting past every time there was a break in the traffic flow on the other side of the road, I had very little chance of getting through before 10 O’Clock.

As luck would have it I had with me my trusty map of Swindon and using this and a neat bit of u-turning I went the long way round and came out not too far from the bridge but on the other side. Needless to say the truck was still stuck and the queue of traffic was now tailing back probably as far as the centre of Old Town.

I arrived into work a little after 9:15am. I guess there is a lot more to be said for leaving some contingency time than I thought, even if I do only have a 5 minute long journey to work.

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Speed cameras are no more

Well, in Swindon at least. Listening to BBC Radio Swindon as I awoke this morning I was informed that last night the council had voted to remove all the speed cameras in Swindon such that the budget currently used in maintaining them could be better deployed elsewhere on Swindon roads. To me this seems to be a most excellent decision. Nothing is more likely to cause an accident these days than worn out sections of road and deep potholes that lurk on our street corners. This is of course not to mention the improperly fenced gasworks close to my street that attempts to lure any unsuspecting driver down a 6 foot hole. Its high time the real causes of road accidents are properly addressed with a funding injection. Bravo I say. Bravo.

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End of the season

Over the weekend I made my way to the East Coast where our boat Burnaby is moored so that she could be “put to bed for the winter” so to speak. We washed down the decks to remove the damage birds had caused to it and then put on the large canvas covers which protect her from the winter frost. Hopefully we will be able to schedule many pleasurable sails for the new season when the covers must come off and we prepare her once more for sea.

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House Warming

On Thursday night last week I went to Amrita’s house warming party. I was impressed with how quickly she had obtained a flat and had it furnished such that she felt able to receive guests although that being said she did rent a furnished flat which might explain the differences in readiness when compared to my house!

It was a pleasant evening and a good chance to get to know my fellow ex. students outside of work. Invariably we did talk about work to some extent but we also covered a wide range of other interesting topics about our past and the world at large which I felt allowed us to get to know each other much better.

With the success of that evening we are all planning on meeting up again outside of work at some point next week which I am looking forward to. Hopefully my house too will soon be able to play host to such evenings :)

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My BBC Day

I’ve now got my BBC listening down to a T such that I’m always listening to an appropriate radio station at any given point in the day.

I wake in the morning to Radio Swindon and in so doing I’m provided with up to the minute tit-bits of news and travel from the mouths of happy and bouncy presenters – just what I need to get me out of bed and to work (avoiding all the traffic). I’m also notified of what’s going on in the local area which is just what a newcomer needs.

On my way to and from work I listen to Radio 3. The soothing blend of classical pieces in the morning are just what I need for a positive start to the day. On the way home the repertoire varies from the realms of opera to jazz and never fails to make me feel ready for a good night out or a relaxing night in, whatever is the order of the day.

At home in the evenings and on longer car journeys I turn to Radio 4. With its thought provoking documentaries and hilarious comedies I never fail to enjoy myself, whatever I might be doing at the time.

I’m not sure what made me post about this, but in so doing I realise I have further justified my stance on supporting the BBC. We have to use it or lose it and I know what side of that fence I sit on. Why not tune in? I’m sure you’ll like what you hear.

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Exploring Swindon

On Sunday afternoon I decided to take a walk up into Old Town as the weather was wonderfully warm and sunny for the time of year and I thought I had better make the most of it. Despite having been here a number of weeks I hadn’t had a proper chance to explore since first having a look around when finding a house.

As I got to a couple of streets I remembered walking down before I noticed an old hotel which had closed down and an alley down the side of it. When I walked though I found myself in a gorgeous park, wooded in places, with a lake and plenty of open space with benches to sit at or have a picnic. What with the warm weather adding to the atmosphere I wished I’d brought my camera along to capture the autumn leaves and the sunlight filtering through them.

I can see myself spending many enjoyable hours photographing the seasons in the Old Town park, hopefully a few shots will find their way onto this site in the not too distant future.

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Nostalgia

A week ago on Saturday I took a trip up to York for the first ever Halifax College reunion ball at the University of York. I must confess that before I departed from Swindon on the long 200 mile journey Northwards I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. In some cases I hadn’t even spoken to some of the people who were going to be there since I left the college and guess there was a small part of me that thought we wouldn’t have all that much to talk about. Thankfully my doubts were completely unfounded and I ended up having a most enjoyable weekend.

I drove up to York on the Friday night and stayed in the Monkbar Best Western hotel which was a very pleasant experience. While I was rather tired when I arrived I had an opportunity to chat with Heather on the phone and then I was already in York on the Saturday morning which meant I was able to enjoy the whole day. I met my family for lunch in Bettys as coincidentally they had come up to the city to drop Hannah off for her final year at the university. As ever lunch at this practically world renowned tea room was thoroughly enjoyable and while my parents had to dash off home I had a chance to wander around the city a little more and get a present for Heather before going back to the hotel to get changed for the evening.

The evening its self was held in a collection of function rooms upstairs at Kings Manor. Despite having dated an archeology student for some time while at York I never knew there was so much space in their departmental buildings! I met up initially with Helen who was waiting near the entrance for people to arrive. We then went upstairs where I met with Noel and James. Despite not having seen Helen & Noel since leaving the last college committee meeting back in 2005 it very quickly felt like we hadn’t been apart which was great. I managed to speak briefly with Mark Evans (old college provost) and Sally Brabyn (current Dean of the college) both of whom I had liased with regularly while on college business. Already it was beginning to feel like the good old days!

The meal had been chosen superbly by the organisers and there were no complaints with respect to the food provision or table service. Wine was reasonably priced given the setting and we were very quickly taking pictures of groups of attendees with the disposable cameras provided and laughing and chatting about the “good old college days”. Shortly into the meal we were happily joined by Katy who I had gotten along with very well while at Halifax. We’d meant to keep in touch but despite both still retaining each others phone numbers had neglected to do so. We vowed to do much better after the evening was though and spent a good while filling each other in on what we’d been up to.

Towards the end of the meal Mark got up and made a speech which really brought back some of the best and brightest moments of my time at the college. After the speeches a jazz band struck up and after a few more wine related purchases most people were up and dancing. At the end of the dancing I suddenly felt myself being transported back in time and as the band finished their last number I found myself at the microphone thanking the band and reminding people to leave their cameras at the front before leaving because I’d be putting the photos on the website – some things never change!

A select group of us decided to continue the evening on in town which was great fun. We had film left to use up in the cameras and with the formal wear we had donned for the occasion were also some of the smartest dressed in town! After a bar or two we parted ways and vowed to do a better job of keeping in touch. Those attending will be able to find the photos on this website soon and of course the official ball website.

I’d like to thank those old friends of mine for attending and really making remembering my old college days a fantastic experience. The time I spent in the college and the people I met there really were and always will be some of the greatest moments in my life and I hope to enjoy attending the reunions and other such events for many years to come.

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