30 November 2011

Sutton Park at Night

This is Adrian Bailey's Photo!

Only the second time I have been to and from an event entirely by train - today was the "big civil service strike" - which meant that Adrian had time to plan a night race in Sutton Park...

Only 32 metres direct distance but it took me 424m and 4min 31s to find number 11

Waiting for the 20:19 Sutton to Selly Oak service
Leave work at 17:00, arrive at event 18:00, catch 20:19 back home - and all for £4.20 + £2 for the orienteering - great!

25 November 2011

A faded shell of former glory (or something like that)

And so to the BBC Good Food Show... still good fun but not half as good as it used to be...

Less of the earnest organic-wholefood-vegan-green-eco than before ("organic" is reported to now be a turn off)

The gadget section is smaller - mostly just knives, fewer appliance manufacturers and not so many pots-and-pans.

Supermarkets - well there was Morrissons, Sainsbury and M&S

A very nice stand from Orkney - we chatted about the impact of that beached liner of a Tesco, the dominance of Tunnocks, the ferry to Raasay and the gentlemen who run "The West End"

The "restaurant court" was missing and the drinks side was way down anyway in between Buffalo Burgers to start and Ghuka curry after closing time...

The World Cheese Awards
but sadly straight after judging it was all declared "unfit for consumption" - grrrr - I suppose it makes sense what with the cheese having been manhandled and prodded but more likely because of the large number of cheese retailing stands at the show.

Rossmore Oysters - £2 for a large one - absolutely gorgeous!
Seriously the best taste at the show - "seaside in a mouthful" - so many tastes... shame about the unforgivably misleading news reports "Winter Vomit Virus in Oysters" - the tests just show that there is virus - not whether it is of the human infecting type, nor whether the quantities detected are significant.

The Welsh Government!
The badge on the left reads "Sian Hill, Welsh Government" - funny I thought it would take more than two lovely ladies to run the entire country.

Ghurka Fast Food
A rather lonely stand now that the exhibition had closed - but a very nice curry - from Nuneaton so I guess this must be the restaurant - Crossed Khurkris

Does the world really need 5 competing brands of Toffee Vodka - yes indeed!
The show was over but there was still a crowd around this stall - at a competitors the proprietor had made the mistake of recruiting a friend to help - drinking one little sample for every two served to punters - a swaying and almost incoherent friend by six o'clock.

My haul
The solution to my vodka problem (I buy it, I drink it, no problem!) is to buy some really expensive rum, gin and elderflower brandy - my parsimonious nature easily defeating the closet alcoholic... just one tiny glass of an evening.






www.vestalvodka.com - possibly a step too far in retaining the so much of the taste and essence of the original potato - and I'm not so sure about for terroir vodka.


www.steweduk.co.uk - yes 10/10 really good - even better than the pouched "look what we found"

www.delameredairy.co.uk - met the owners - right next to where I first went orienteering

www.emerald-fox.com - not sure I tried this but it looks great

St-Germain Delice De Sureau  - old blokes on bikes still go picking elderflowers from hedgerows


www.welshslate.com - plates from slate

There was also a very nice 8 year old rum (nicer than the 12) - Eldorado by Demerera Distillers in Guyana

Best of all... Long Life Microwaveable Irish Coffee by www.irishcreamliqueurs.com - really nice - I thought there would be some compromise - and some "mingling" of cream and coffee - no, not at all - well done

23 November 2011

Marlbrook - 21 years later

I started project work at Marlbrook Factory and moved on the Somerdale in 1990.  This was a flying visit to share information on cleaning systems and standards and to enjoy a remarkable breakfast:

and all for under £2
There is a LOT more traffic now, the journey takes about 90 minutes instead of 70 - and no chance at all of getting close to my all time record of ca. 58 - so I went home via Pencombe and various narrow and twisty roads.

22 November 2011

30 minutes on a very cold bench

This evening I took the short cut across Bournville Green.   Someone  was sitting on the stone bench opposite Woodbrook Road.  This is normal - its where all the trendy art college students hang out - so black t-shirt and goth hair cut was nothing out of the ordinary.  Something made me turn back and ask "are you alright"?

Black t-shirt... it is November, its 7PM and its is a bitter night...

Bournville Green - The Xmas Tree

"I don't know where I am."

"This is Bournville Green - you are next to Cadbury's factory, can I help you?"  

"I've run away from the mental home?"

The poor girl has rows of cuts and needle punctures on her upper arms and both forearms are bandaged - I can see fresh blood seeping through - a self harmer - but calm and lucid.

"Do you want to go back?  Is there someone I can contact?"

What to do? - I don't want to call 999 - its not an emergency - but do the mental hospital do a call out?  I am only going to get an office number from directory enquiries.  So I called the 5th emergency service 118 118 and they put me through to the Bournville Lane Police Station - very professional - collected all the necessary information - age (16), name <****>, mental state, physical state, my name, address and mobile number and said they would sort something out.

So there I sat for half an hour - it was a very cold stone bench.  <****> seemed depressed and withdrawn, not surprising, and we had nothing in common as a subject for conversation so I chatted about what I did at Cadbury and pointed out the Wispa and Wholenut buildings and I managed to get some smiles and a few laughs.  A very sweet girl especially when smiling.   I described the Carillon across the road and we had a bit of a "European Geography Quiz"...

I felt guilty not sharing my coat - as I had this and a fleece - but *blood* - I decided that if she shivered once - she would get the coat.

An ambulance turned up - as usual none of the information had made it through so I briefed them - did not seem keen to take <****> to the mental hospital - favouring A&E - not a good idea at all.

At this time of night fifty people and hundreds of cars must have walked/driven past the figure on the bench - either without noticing something was amiss or did and decided not to get involved.

Very sad, very sad indeed - not sure I would be cut out to be a carer - but it would be nice to be able to help.  Feeling a bit sad.

20 November 2011

Extremely tense before "The Sprint"

Competitors await the off at Pamber Forest
Its all very serious - the second ever ARDF sprint in the UK - very tricky - some completed in 15 minutes and some were still out after a couple of hours. Not helped by the little red arrow on the cut down map extract - it did not indicate the direction of North - only the direction to run away from the start.  30+ years of orienteering meant that I was not fooled and was back in Ca 19 minutes

16 November 2011

...and thats your lot Dublin

All clear over Snowdonia
I can pretty much name all these peaks - not sure about correct pronunciation tho.  I can also do all the numbers stenciled on Airbus A320 Port Engine supports - having stared at these 16 times this year.  Going back you want to be in Row 28 - 29 does not recline but from 28 you can be out and down the back stairs quickly and get pole position in the second bus - which becomes the first bus by the time you get to the security barrier - and if you are quick you get to be in the first group of 4 past the CCTV camera and out to freedom.

This trip was to look at a cooling tunnel - we were making Irish CDM Wholenut - scrummy!

That's a €12 prawn* cocktail that is!

*Much nicer than the one at the Clontarf last week (I believe the chef dines at Seabank) - not least because there was A LOT of lobster in my cocktail - yummy - I suspect that this might have been last week's gate guardian having reached his "boil and eat by" date.

Dover Sole Roulade - with crab meat and other nice stuff
Last time this was on the menu - they ran out of Dover Sole and I had the remaining portion as a starter.

A light Xmas pudding with custard and a dessert wine*

*It was from Bordeaux, not one of the usual suspects - but I can't remember exactly what.  As I was finishing up some very welcome guests arrived - got hugs and all - the lady and gentleman own the best penthouse apartment in Malahide...

THE (!) penthouse in Malahide
as well as hotels in Jamaica (birthday party at Ian Flemings house), and further properties in Dallas and other places around the world I cannot remember - the Gentleman is a retired airline CEO.  They regularly book the restaurant for parties - now I know why they get a hug and I just get a hearty greeting!
Newly decorated Seabank Bistro. Malahide

As this was my final (for now) trip to Dublin I wrote up a restaurant review on Tripadvisor...


Cold Blooded Lizard?

I brought the IR camera back from Dublin to the Bournville Office - which meant I had it overnight at home (this is the £15,000 pound model we have to get permission to take out of the EU and had to sign we would not transfer it to Iran, Cuba, Libya or North Korea)...

Kingfisher Way - my house is on the right
I now have confirmation as to why my heating bills are so low (£8 a month for gas on average) and why I have not yet needed to put my heating on more than twice this autumn; My neighbours live at sauna temperatures...
Party Wall - Living Room - TV and internal wall (left) are at "Room Temperature"
Party wall - Bedroom - lamp and internal wall on right - at room temperature
Non-party wall - this is North facing
 It seems that I am stealing heat from my neighbours - I am quite comfortable at 17 deg C - as long as I am wearing a good sweater and even in bare feet:

Ankle to Toe Thermal Profile
Perhaps if I fitted a heat pump to the wall as well... (they might get suspicious what with the unexplained patch of condensation/ice)

Heating on - +10 minutes

Heating on - +15 minutes
Plus 20 minutes
 ...too hot...

13 November 2011

(Surprisingly Emotional) Trip to the Classic Car Show or "My first company car was two Range Rovers"

And so down to the NEC for the Footman James Classic Car Show - a first for me.

Lots and lots of cars from my childhood and my youth - two themes - "next generation" and "emotional connection".  Also just how many of the stalls and exhibits were West Midlands based - even 35 years after the collapse of out motor industry there are still companies out there supporting and re-manufacturing our industrial heritage.

Just like orienteering - this has become an old man's event - several exhibitors wondered whether there will be a next generation of enthusiasts and looking at the reasons why a particular model or marque is loved and collected by a particular generation I can see why.

From a practical point of view - you can keep a 1902 motor going indefinitely, 1940s a bit more tricky, 1960s and 70s increasingly difficult and anything post 1990 has a serious expiry date hanging over its head.   A 2011 Volvo XC60 is going to be economically unmaintainable well before it reaches its 10th birthday.

I asked each exhibitor "why?"

  • Because one screeched into the filling station, put £2 of petrol and then burned rubber all the way to the horizon - single most exciting thing my 5 year old brain had ever experienced (1972 Hillman Avenger Tiger - available in banana yellow or flame orange)

  • I would go to the library to look at "Popular Photography" and other glossy magazines and there was the 5.4 litre Gordon-Keeble.

  • My Father had one and so did mine (two off Wartburg 353 aka "Farty Hans") - why else would you want a 1966 design, 1988 made, East German car?

  • The Saint's Car (The actual Saint's Car a Volvo P1800 - not just the same model but the one driven by Roger Moore in the TV programme - Jaguar turned them down - fools!)

    I did not see ANY UK Made General Motors Cars (Vauxhall) - they were down for Hall 5 but there can't have been many...

    Notable sights:

    • Green and White 1988 Range Rovers - just like I drove for Cadbury in Ghana

    • A "Janey" lookalike - a 1950's Ford "Pop" - like my Mother drove and eliminated a blackbird with on the way back from church in Alton (strnage what you remember 46 years on); Three gears, no synchro-mesh and windscreen wipers driven from the inlet manifold vacuum (at last a proper explanation as to why they kept speeding up and slowing down - it wasn't "the wind" after all)
    • A yellow Austin Metro (my first car)
    • Lots of DeLoreans!
    • A Veyron
    • Bubble Cars - I remember there was a Messerschmitt and a BMS that used to travel round Chester in the 1970's
    • A Raleigh Chopper - I had a Tri-ang but the cool blond boy with the rich parents and all the girls - had a Chopper.
    • Oldsmobile 88 with a cooler hood ornament than the one in Cuba 
    • Ford Anglia Tail Lights
    • A Gold Ford Granada - straight out of "The Sweeney"
    Just like mine - VNE 247X

    This was the WRC Group B version of the Metro (£40K new, £13K after rule changes, £26K to current owner - bit of an issue with Mrs Current Owner)
    World rally group B was dropped after several in-competition deaths - the entire passenger + load compartment full of engine gives you an idea just how hot this hatch was.

    For Sale - £1.25 million and it is yours (development cost - £5 million each)
    A Gordon-Kemble - "Tortoise and the Hare"

    Interesting Component
    Made an impression on me in the 1960's
    The 997 cc Ford Anglia so does not deserve to have a "go faster" rocket fins

    Oldsmobile 88 - no functional reason for this but doesn't it look great
    And all because...

    His Dad designed and built them.
    That is all the instrumentation you need unless...
    Time travel is your aim

    DeLeorean DMC-12 - All that curvy stainless steel - the owner is a martyr to oily fingerprints - everyone has to have a quick touch.