28 September 2011

Evicted by Norwegian Ambulance Chasers

There is a big conference on at The Grand...

...a bunch of folks who cheer when a ship goes down - hence the unfortunate logo

not content with evicting me from The Grand, the Nog-wegian element at the conference block booked my favourite restaurant.  So I had to be in and out in under 45 minutes...

That's scallops to start - sublime
and 'Alibut to follow (waiter is from Toulouse)
So tonight I am in the Hilton close to the airport - not bad and the staff are great - Lenka is amazed that not only can I correctly name the capital of Slovakia as Bratislava but I have been there and know that Czechoslovakia no longer exists AND I can order my breakfast in Slovak...

jedno vajce
jedna čierna
jeden biely
jeden hash hnedá
pečené fazuľa

27 September 2011

That's my old school down there...

As seen from Birmingham - Is that Arenig Fawr or just the Breiddens?
Cloudy over Shropshire

But clear over Chester  - thats the River Dee and you can see my old school

23 September 2011

MOT Advisory "...body has slight corrosion"

I think Uncle Derek was being kind "drive it for the summer and then get the bodywork looked at...". So it is off to Keynsham for Black SAABath

Everything fits in!
That is 4 panels and a door and an exhaust and lots else.  I only have a post code for the garage but a check on Google Earth confirms exactly where the SAAB surgery is located:

"JamSAAB" - this must be the spot
About 500 metres from Somerdale (1929-2010 RIP) - where I worked for ten years...

Somerdale Factory (what a waste)

Yes I am in the right place


Up on the lift for a wee check
More oops!

Fooled You! It's the SS Great Britain

Very clever - below the (glass) waterline and inside the ship the air is maintained at below 15% humidity - one BIG ?Munters? air drier - just like the one Rowan Atkinson uses to keep his classic car collection in good condition and we use to stop condensation forming on chocolates as they exit the cooling tunnel.

Now that's what I call a bearing - 250hp using 5psi steam - VERY large diameter cylinder*
There was an olympus engine in the museum - 70,000hp - 4 of which would fit inside just one of the SS Great Britain's cylinders.

Every last detail restored - even down to the smell of sick coming from one of the staterooms (opening the doors revealed a costumed up mannequin with head in bucket - bucket filled with faux-vom)

A Cadbury 99 not a SAAB 99
Strolling along the quay I met
a) Some gentlemen in a classic SAAB 900 - black, convertible
b) A Swedish family - from Norrköping - the son, having completed his degree course, has moved to the UK to do research "will you be moving back to Sweden?", "Only if I can persuade my English girlfriend..."  Deja-vu all over again
c) A strategically placed ice cream van - liveried up in "Flake" colours -  how could I refuse - after mentioning that I was working on the Flake plant in Dublin and exchanging views on whether £14/outer was a fair price I discovered that the vendor's mother comes from Sicily and that October is the perfect time to go and that he spends the winters in Florence.  We exchanged further views on whether €9 is really a bit of a rip off to get in to see "David"

Bristol Temple Meads

Impressed with public transport - first time I needed to use a long distance train in 12 months - turn up (15:50), buy ticket (15:52), direct train to Birmingham every 30 minutes (16:00), change for Selly Oak (17:32), walk 700m from local station and arrive home (18:02) to a...

Strangely empty garage

18 September 2011

Cousin Chris is 60

A busy day starts with the West Midland Relays at Pelsall
A good chase round - great fun and investigating bumble-bees with Alex, Sebastian and Arthur afterwards

Sadly all too common a sight now

Not enough time to make it worth going home for a shower - so off the "Wall"

There is an excellent self-guided walk around the village and surrounds - recommended - leaflet at carpak
I think the walk was a better experience than the ruins
Just a light tea for me (regretting that Big Mac on the way up)
We agreed to meet at 16:30 - as I turned off the M1 at Chesterfield junction - there was my old 93 in the rear view mirror.  We ate at the Elm Tree Inn - superior food and a nice walk through the village.  I seem to remember having savoury pancakes and a latte

And here we are in Rotherham
We were in a hotel on the north side of town - I asked lots of folks about the town centre and all the work that seemed to be going on - "oh, we never go into Rotherham" -  pretty much all the same answer from the staff as well - I consider myself warned - certainly from the car window it was clear there were a lot of very large folks in Rotherham

Interesting idea for a Birthday Cake

That's my Uncle Don

My old SAAB - a drive way home for Joce and Erik

17 September 2011

Spring Cottage - Sprint ARDF in a post-extractive landscape

Today we went to Spring Cottage for ARDF.  This is in the middle of the "National Forest" - currently a mixture of decaying mining villages, derelict mines and rapidly expanding forest plantation.  In the afternoon we did the first IARU rules "sprint ARDF" in England:

(Mostly) runnable poplar woodland
The sprint was confined to the "white" forest near the small pool

7:35 for 5 foxes - not bad - I lost a minute at #4

11 September 2011

GB Team at Region 1 ARDF Champs in Romania

Wizz - fine. Luton Airport - never, ever, again - like how do they get away with it?

Team (minus two)

Bob, G3ORY, does not look very keen about the opening ceremony - and yes - THERE WAS FOLK DANCING

Sadly - behind Germany - alphabetically at least - but not necessarily in the forest

My Polish friends

"To travel overseas and wear blazers for Britain"

Olah-s - part of the organising Family

Hello from Agnieska

I liked this Hotel!

Some one told me there was free beer at the finish

Eyes on the beer!

Thank you very much Mr Organiser

John Marriott - finishing the sprint

Jill and John
Various foreigners take the mick our of my homemade yagi
Team in 4th place and ahead of the Germans!  A surprise - we were "best of the rest" after the three really serious ARDF countries.

Comparing routes
Interesting Cuisine
Time to leave - a long drive to the airport

A long wait at the airport, a long queue to check in, a very very very long queue for immigration at Luton - thanks again and then a dash up the M1 just in time to make it for

Kath's "50th" Birthday Party - me the worse for 15 hours traveling and Kath for 5 hours partying