30 August 2011

Breaking in "New Expenses System": Testing the boundaries


While away from home on business - but still in the UK - there are guide allowances for breakfast, lunch and dinner - this is all to do with tax.

You are meant to be able to find a breakfast for under £5.  Not possible at any airport I know of, the nearest I can get is..

Costa Coffee who will do you something for £6.10. The evening meal limit is £25 and we are meant to stick with that overseas as well.

Tax man obviously has never been to Ireland - and certainly not Malahide - where the only hotel will stiff you 34€ for  a steak.

Day 1: Sandwiches for €7.50 - well safe

So what I am doing is one night "sandwiches from SPAR" and the next a proper hot meal.  However you know you are somewhere special when the corner shop does not stock cans of beer - only wine!

Chicken Liver Pate - the sticks are fried Parsnip - part of a total meal cost of £35 - "Early Bird Special Deal"
Sea Trout, no starters, no dessert, one glass of wine - total meal cost - €43 -no warning or red-highlighting - safe!

Ray Wing - very nice, chowder to start, one glass of wine, no dessert, no coffee - €49 - pushing it a bit
...So it was sandwiches for the rest of the week.

I know why food is expensive in Norway* (lots of oil, lots of money, no land) but how do the Irish get away with this?

*My £11 baked potato in Tromso

27 August 2011

You know its more than a recession when...

Today at Sainsbury - two pizzas, a bag of salad and 2 garlic baguettes in their "Feed a family of 4 for £5" promotion

By comparison in Ireland that won't even feed one at the EuroSpar!

Now I understand why HP are giving up on Consumer Hardware...

Tricky choice - new ink cartridges for my old HP printer - £53
A new printer/scanner/copier/fax with WIFI+USB and a built in (simple) web connection - for £39.

The HP DJ5550 will be 9 years old in September and it has started to make nasty clicky sounds and sometimes refuses to print unless you take the colour cartridge out (stressful when you really need to print that RyanAir boarding card)  so I parted with my £39

and what do I get inside the box...

Quite a lot of bits and bobs.  This printer was originally on sale for £99 but everywhere it now costs just £39.  Its a brilliant bit of kit, prints fast and high quality and HP support it on Linux - so installation took about a minute.

In the blurb that came with it they say "you can print wirelessly from your Iphone or Ipad" - and then it all makes sense.

HP have to sell me kit at a loss (I am told that a typical multifunction printer costs £200 to manufacture/market/distribute) and the only revenue stream they have is the ink - which from me won't be much at all.


Apple can sell their hardware at a nice profit and then have multiple and ongoing revenue streams through ITunes and Appstore and Cloud eventually even replacement of internal battery ($86 to fit a $5.99 battery).  At one point their rake off on newspaper subscriptions was going to be 50%.

So I can see why HP intend to "Do an IBM" - but are they too late?

18 August 2011

An evening in Dublin on the DART or I went for the Craic and came away with underpants

I have been coming to Dublin for several weeks now - but never closer to the centre than Coolock.

The Dublin Area Rapid Transit - is pretty swish and pretty rapid - does not appear to follow the timetable much though.  Just 20 minutes from my seaside hotel to Tara Street and the centre of the cultural/tourist district.
I think we may be in Ireland

There certainly were tourists and they were certainly well catered for - packed bars and packed restaurants, the periodic thermal blast from glowing patio heaters (for the smokers) and the jingle-jingle-jiggy-jig-jig of Celtic music from open doorways.

But not much for the solo traveller looking for a quiet pint and a quiet meal.  There was however a Marks and Spencer - so my "in case of lost luggage" stash was added to in the form of a pack of granddad-style white briefs.
The bar in Temple Bar

On a side street I found a quiet and just about to close cafe - where I had a rather nice parsnip salad with vegetarian lasagne and a long conversation with the proprietor - from the accent I assumed she was from Dublin - but no, from Baile Felix in Romania where I will be in two weeks time for the ARDF championships

14 August 2011

Brand Wood - 34 years later

1977 Orienteering Map of Brand Wood (note there normally is public access - but just for solo jogging and walking - nothing organised permitted)

I last visited here on 26th June 1977

Here are the results - I won M15


And now here is what the course looks like today:

Start - the path is just detectable but the depression has gone

Control #1 - A platform - bit closer to the main path junction than mapped but it is the only one around so I must be in the right place

Control 2 - "Tower" - No evidence remaining. I guess it was for deer shooting.

#3 Pond, has not had standing water for a very long time. The surrounding forest block has been recently felled.

#4 Arboreal Oddity or Rootstock
Neither in evidence but all bearings lead here.

#5 Reentrant
Not on the '77 map and now abandoned extraction cut/track suggests that the slope was felled and replanted since the map was surveyed

#6 Small Hill, Top

#7 - Knoll Not 100% sure I am in the right place - but fits with nearby steep slope, ditch and other features

#8 - Arboreal Oddity!

#9 - Eastern Small Gully
#10 - Clearing (The trees have grown up)
#11 - Arboreal Oddity

#12 Fence Corner

The Finish

13 August 2011

Best Loaf So Far...

OK nothing to write home about - but I put a lot of work into this loaf - it smelled wonderful - long rising time means lots of metabolic by-products.

12 August 2011

08 August 2011

World's Simplest ARDF Receiver?

LED is dim on 2m and does not show up clearly in the photo - It works a lot better on 80m - but not bad for an active component count of one

(Thanks to Ken M0AET for design and construction)

07 August 2011

A short trip over the mountains and down the Llŷn

A final blast in Black Saabath before the big rebuild...

Red = Dull, Yellow = Pleasant, Green = Engage Turbo Mode!
I have never walked the Nantle Ridge in anything but 10m visibility hill fog...

Mynnydd Drws y Coed from Y Garn
...Looks like I'll have to make another visit...

Trum Y Ddysgl
I should have believed yr.no and not Met Office Mountain Weather Forecast which said the cloud would be above the summits...

View NW from Y Garn

View S from Mynnydd Drws y Coed

View SW from Trum Y Ddysgl

View SW from Trum Y Ddysgl - 30 seconds later
Time to bug out - on my way back down I met www.fellrunningpictures.co.uk - behind whom I had been stuck passing over the Berwyns (the URL is emblazoned on the rear of his car) - it is the Y Garn fell race - and it turns out I vaguely know some of the runners.  I mention to one of the marshals that I am now just and orienteer and he asks me what my call sign is "A lot of you orienteers are radio amateurs" - and yes he is a retired, ex-military ARDFer and former record holder for the Nijmegan

You can just see me behind runner 101

The Llŷn is a very special place - and unfortunately a bit crowded in August - so I stopped just for a nostalgic walk along the special pebble beach at Aberdaron - to add a few more to my collection (from 35 years ago).  History for this area is fascinating - read about it here

Jasper on Aberdaron Beach

Sand Martin Colony - on Aberdaron Beach

Stranded Jellyfish and Pebbles on Aberdaron Beach
Fronoleu Hotel

After fruitless search for a garage that a) sold super-unleaded and b) was open I ended up in Dolgellau at the Texaco garage - who told me where I could get the fuel I needed - but the next day

So I thought I will pop in the Fronoleu for a meal and then camp at Dinas Mawddwy and hit the garage that DID serve the correct sort of petrol when it opened.

However I fell in with some Dutch tourists (worst sort, bad influence) and it took so long for our (spectacularly good) meals to arrive it became far to late for arriving at campsites and, by now, it was raining and there was a bottle Lagavulin in the bar... so I took the last room at the inn...

Local Welsh Lamb with Redcurrants in a pastry parcel with gravy - sublime!

A proper breakfast
This means my Volvo would be banned if I had more than two passengers
Resting before driving over the highest pass in North Wales

From Wikipedia:

The Bwlch y Groes is also known as the Hellfire Pass, and was used between and after the wars by the Austin Motor Company and the Standard Triumph Motor Company to test prototype cars and their performance during Hillclimbing.[2] The southern ascent of the Bwlch y Groes, which is approximately 1.7 miles long with severe gradients throughout (steepest 1 in 4), was renowned throughout the 1970s and 80s as the most challenging climb used in the Milk Race round-Britain cycle race.

A tough climb for Black Saabath - so a little rest was in order to let the engine cool down
Super Unleaded and £1.42/litre but boy was I glad to see this garage