Sunday, 26 April 2009


My liking for Jamaican music has been well documented and I have always found the ska style to be very uplifting so it should come as no surprise that I have always had a soft spot for Madness – any band naming themselves after a Prince Buster track have a head start on touching my musical side.

Was pleased to catch them on Friday night playing this new number:

Their early videos always appeared to mix their witty humour with the lyrics to their songs.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Extreme Sheep LED Art

A very good friend sent my this via email and I just had to post it as it cracked me up and deserves to be seen by the widest possible audience.

It represents the most creative result that I have ever seen anyone deliver with a flock of sheep, some sheep dogs and a few shepherds.

Friday, 17 April 2009


The Force is strong with Strathclyde Police, wonder how the neds are going to feel about that – makes me wonder how many my pal Noddy has to work with in Toy Toon.

Pirate Bay founders jailed shock – never used it myself but then I am paranoid about peer to peer file sharing; on the other hand Hairy Nephew is a big fan and swears by it as a good place to find movies and tv.

Meanwhile on an internal Quantas flight in Oz 4 baby pythons escape from the cargo hold – not having much luck recently are Quantas; and was there not a dodgy movie a couple of years back called Snakes On A Plane?

Have a great weekend - I know that I will!

Monday, 13 April 2009

Back From The West

Drove down on Friday afternoon and it was busy on the M4 and while the traffic might have been slow in a couple of places, at least it was moving and by coming on and leaving at the right junctions based on road reports managed to avoid major snarl ups. Arrived to find Hairy Nephew and Father Ted having just completed their task for the day – namely removing shrubbery beds and replacing with turf and removing moss infected grass to replace with seeds later.

Weather had been a steady drizzle for them all day which is perfect for laying down of turf, the sky cleared as the sun was going down so I was able to take the snap of the pretty colours. We had a fine meal and caught up on each others news since our last meeting - not much cider consumed on our side of the table but the red wine was flowing freely.

The wee man went to bed at the usual time and after only a couple of bouts of wailing dropped off for the night – was a bit noisy first thing but managed to get back to sleep pretty easily.

Eldest Niece and FT and Lewis had to leave at lunchtime which they did after we all sat out in bright sunshine at the local caff and ate a large breakfast and admired 3 owls which they had there. Followed by a visit to Thatchers for us furreners to resupply on good cider and then it was time to say goodbye.

As we had to visit Wells to pick up some Chorizo sausage for a soup (well more of a broth) for dinner on Saturday night I finally got to have a pint of draught Hoegaarden in The Wokey Hole Inn – closest I had ever reached before was turning up one Sunday afternoon when it was shut. Almost worth the wait – but the soup was stunning with a fresh crusty loaf when we had it later and if you get out your magnifying glass then you can recreate it for yourself.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Thank Feck Easter Has Arrived

I have been pretty lucky in my working life in IT to have never had to deal with a live financial system, systems software and a variety of “interesting” applications but never finance. This year that changed and since Thursday of last week I have been extracting data from the database, sticking it in spreadsheets to pass on to the “people” in finance after checking by the relevant application area managers.

You might think that after at least 10 years the process would have been automated so that you enter a couple of dates once and everything happened; not so, it involved entering dates 16 times and then running 4 or 8 menu options for the 52 application areas.

Then I had to try to get my brain around what the data was supposed to mean and that gave me a great urge to lie down under my desk until it was all over. Still at 15:30 I had completed the task and an hour later was heading to the station to find that the train showing 10 mins earlier as on time had been cancelled; cue crowded train and the icing on top was a couple of wailing small children sitting across the aisle.

The glass of cold Guinness at my side is an earned reward for another long day, 2 days to veg in the hoose and then a trip to Somerset to visit Hairy Nephew and Irish lass and drink some (well probably a lot) cider. Eldest Niece and Father Ted will be there along with little Lewis so a grand old time will be had.

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Beer 120 – Fuller's Old Winter Ale

Picked this up in the supermarket yesterday morning after I had been thinking of nights spent quaffing Brakspear's Old of a Winter's night. To be honest I was disappointed, this stuff cannot compare to my memories of the taste old Old; that was a black brew heavy on the malt but not too sweet for my palate.

Fuller's offering is a dark brown and while heavy on the malt is sweeter on the tongue (although not to the point of rendering it undrinkable for me), 5.3% abv gives it a respectable kick but Fuller's produce much better beers than this (ESB or Pride) so I felt a wee bit let down – did not stop me finishing it mind you.

Saturday, 4 April 2009


As I was contemplating the beer I am planning to drink later on today thoughts turned to Winter's nights spent playing this simple trick based card game in front of log fires in a number of different Brakspear's tied house. Once late Autumn arrived their seasonal Old Ale would appear on draught, a very dark malty sweeter tasting beer than their other offerings; it's arrival heralded the coming of Winter.

It is played from Australia to the US using a variety of rules but the lineage of our variation migrated from Cornwall with the arrival of a long time friend from Exeter to the leafy West Berkshire area. This is very similar to the Mid West variation with two major differences.

Instead of 24 cards we use the 2 of Spades (Benny) as the top trump (plus 9 to Ace of all suits), if the dealer turns it over on top of the pack then the dealer has to call trumps blind and then discard one card. The other difference being that we play to 15 points using the 7 & 8 cards to count the score.

Became a great spectator sport if we were out in a group of six or seven (the ale might have been a factor here) and it was usually fun watching others trying to figure out the rules from adjoining tables.

With the 2nd and 3rd top trumps changing to the Jack of the suit of the trumps and the Jack of the same colour (referred to as the Right and the Left) on each call it could be tricky to work out what game we were playing. This was enhanced by the fast pace of play, I can remember always hitting a long streak of no calls deal at one or more points in an evening; and there would always be someone who would hit a solid seam of Benny, Right Left hands resulting in hands ending with the winning cards being thrown face up on the table.

Still play it a few times a year though these days it is more likely to be around a kitchen table after a meal than in a pub.