29 July 2012

No 'O' today - so its the Enville 10K

Enville Sheepwalks is where a very early Harlequins event was to be held - it was in the calendar for ages back in the late '60s - but as far as I can tell it never took place -  perhaps the offer of Kinver Million was preferred.

While at the Wenlock Olympics I was told about the Enville 10k - so I thought I would go take a look as normally there is very little access. It is a lovely estate - and would make a great place for a relay (as long as someone has the time to make a LOT of fence crossing points)

M3WDD at the Enville 10K - yes this is the steep bit - I walked it all on the second time around
It is a two lap course - each lap with 115m of climb in the first 2km and then, pretty much, all downhill after that
The race take place on the last Sunday of July and starts at 10:00am.  If there is no orienteering on - then I will be back next year - and in 2013 I will run up the hill both times

back in 1857 Enville was considered the finest cricket ground in the county - superior even to Lords

 and afterwards to the Kinver & West Midlands Society of Model Engineers 50th anniversary celebration - where I met my radio tutor (Ron Swinburne M0WSN)  - what a surprise, learned all about the Bridgenorth Trevithick Engine - steamed up but not yet running on rails and generally had a good time.
A cold war era Radio Relay Wagon - rescued and restored by my Radio Tutor - for weeks at a time this would have been out in the West German countryside - containing two bored squaddies and towing a pair of 5kW generators.

27 July 2012

Into the desert of Wales

On the way home I took the other 'mountain road' - through the Desert of Wales  and down the Devil's Staircase - 30 minutes of driving and twenty miles - passing two houses and seeing not a single other living soul and all this in one of the most crowded islands in the world...

Wait all day for Polish Lorries and then Three Turn Up At Once*

Its Harlequins' turn to help organise a day of Croeso 2012 - I am on car parking so up at 04:00 for 100mile+ drive over the Welsh mountains.

The fastest route is over the "mountain road" to Cwm Ystwyth/Cwmystwyth

The former is the upper valley of the river Ystwyth and the second a village in that valley - and this is where the problem lies...

05:20 and it is going to be a lovely day - that is Birmingham's Water Supply - so no stopping for a wee here.

Yes indeed a lovely day

Having enjoyed driving the twisty steep bits the road now descends, following the infant river Ystwyth

Then out of the mist come three 40 tonne articulated lorries.  I know these boys are good but I know this road and I find it amazing they have got this far.

After reversing a kilometre to a suitable passing place - I engage the drivers in conversation - they have come all the way from Gdansk and show me their delivery instructions "Cwmystwyth Farm, Cwm Ystwyth, Wales" (only explanation I can think of is wind turbines).  Bit of a problem because there are no turning places for 15km back in the direction in which I have come, I am not even sure that the road will be passable for these vehicles - but then reversing to the last farm (~5km) is also going to be a challenge.  Oh - and no mobile phone signal here either...

Save us from Satnav!

*Wikipedia: "There is a common cliché that you “wait all day, and then three come along at once”, in relation to a phenomenon where evenly timetabled public transport bus services can develop a gap in service followed by buses turning up almost simultaneously. This occurs when the rush hour begins and numbers of passengers at a stop increases, increasing the loading time, and thus delay in the timetable. The following bus then catches up with that bus because it begins to be delayed less at stops due to fewer passengers waiting."

21 July 2012

What I'm really into (according to Google)

I was reading this...

and he writes

'Type “Hal Varian Google ad auctions” into Google and you’ll see no ads'

which is, mostly, true - Mr V is a big cheese at Google and at the bottom of the page was a just the standard ad about advertising on Google and another about fine art auctions - which was strange because, although I have no interest in this, the previous paragraph on Mr H's page talks about adverts for art prints and fine art auctions.

Hmm - then I saw the link "why these ads?" - and here is what Google thinks I am into (minus baseball bats - which I edited out before I took the screen-shot - no idea where that came from - perhaps my interest in defense)

I am a bit worried about some of these - all that military/defense stuff - though if you have a 1959 English Electric Lightning in working order - I'm your man.  But JAZZ - oh no!  I wonder what the half-life for a category is before, if not reinforced, it drops off the list?

So I'm not going to edit the list - but come back and check from time to time.

17 July 2012

I've been a very naughty boy*

This is my very last 100W incandescent bulb
I found this box of 4 at Aldi - must be remnants from the very last manufacture in 2009.  I am down to the last one.  Boo Hoo.

I turn my hall and landing lights on when need them and off when I don't need them.   A problem with CFL - as they still take an age to warm up and they certainly do not a) produce anywhere near the quoted equivalent light output nor b) last the rated number of hours when cycled 5+ times a day.  So I reckon in this application an incandescent is the best option - one denied me by the EU.

I took a range of CFL in to work and tested them against the quoted equivalent incandescent bulb - must be some new laws of physics as the CFL were always significantly dimmer than the equivalent incandescent.  To get "60W" of light output I needed to use a 75 or 100W CFL - what a con.

I suppose I need to wait until LED lamps are produced in the same form factor and at competitive cost.


15 July 2012

48 minutes for the Olympic 7 Mile Road Race

Yes - as the games are in the UK this year ALL the events will be in Imperial Units.  None of your French 'powers of ten' rubbish - so I got an entry in the Seven Mile Race at the original Modern Olympics - where Baron Pierre came to find out exactly how to do it all:

"...The first meeting was held at Wenlock racecourse on 22-23 October 1850.  In 1861 after several years of work by Brookes and his colleagues the Shropshire Olympic Games were introduced. The first national Olympic Games were held in London in 1866 and were organised by the National Olympic Association which had been cofounded by Brookes in 1865. The National Olympic Association ceased its operations in 1883.
Baron Pierre de Coubertin visited the Olympian Society in 1890, which held a special festival in his honour. He was inspired by Dr Brookes and went on to establish the International Olympic Committee. The current series has received official recognition from the IOC and the British Olympic Association (BOA)." - source: Wikipedia

As well as the expected athletics, swimming, fencing, archery etc. these games also have cricket, gliding, golf, long distance walking and biathlon.  I ran the road race...

Looks like I am in the right place
The crown eats ice cream while waiting for the grand parade - there is one policeman on duty to hold back the traffic.  G4S nowhere in evidence.
"This modern day revival of the original procession of athletes from the early Wenlock Olympian Games will be led by a Herald and a white pony"
Massed bands of the CCF
Junior Girls 100m

I saw #88 with a medal - so I took a photo - it turns out that everyone gets at least on medal

Fencing - accompanied by the sound of 1000 crickets (I think it was something to do with the hit-sensing-system).

There is shot putt and later "throwing the cricket ball"

My nephews spend all their time playing cricket - with other blokes - frankly if I was a hormone charged male teenager then it would be athletics for me...

...only - please note - no access for riff-raff

A medal winner.  There were several TV crews covering the event and I had a nice chat with a camera team from South Korea about the 14th ARDF World Championships in Hwaseong
Yes I did carry a map all the way round - it was a hilly course and those road runners had no clue what was coming next - there were several long climbs and a nasty little incline right at the end and I used my foreknowledge to strategic advantage.  Everyone gets a bag of sweeties, made by Cadbury and were very welcome having missed lunch.

13 July 2012

I have my briefing pack for the Olympics...

My official Cadbury Programme
My briefing pack*

My special suit
I will be helping at the Olympics.  4 days in Hyde Park. The Kylie and Jason reunion concert has been cancelled because Hyde Park is a quagmire and "Police, parks and safety people have said it's completely unsafe at the moment."

I really do hope we get two weeks of dry weather between now and the opening ceremony... looking possible for the South East:

*Amongst other things we have been given training in safety, dealing with consumers, handling the press and spotting 'ambush marketing'.  

09 July 2012

Baarle Nassau/Hertog with my 'bitches'

Two Garmins and a Nokia - all with Navteq On board - but different vintages.  Of course Harry had 500 to nag him... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ag1EbxYKh_4

This strange place has been on my list for ages - really makes you think about nationality and all.  The black lines are international borders.  If your property spans a border - you pay property taxes to the state your front door opens out into (a little enamel NL or BE plaque confirms this).  It has been known for folks to change which door is nominated as front.
We took a good look at the map and decided our route - I am after one of the rare exclave within an  enclave zones

Must be a Dutch house - they are noted tree torturers.  Really strange walking about quiet and pleasant suburban streets changing country every 100m or so.  Do the BE and NL lead separate lives?  What about schooling? Hospitals? National Service? Can you choose where to get your car taxed?  Reminds me of The City and The City

From Wikipedia

Me in a little patch of NL inside a slightly larger patch of BEL inside NL proper (N2 on the map above)

When deciding whether to commit crime of jaywalking or not - take a look at the pavement first and check which country you are in - penalties are stiffer in NL.

It is (mostly) all explained here and here

08 July 2012

"Dutch Food is designed for Winter nights when...

...you come home from working hard in the fields and you want something big and greasy"

Well that was David Dale in 1991 (The Obsessive Traveller ISBN 0-207-16991-8)

In fact he goes into Dutch Food at length - entertaining but not complementary

 Anyway - in the intervening 21 years things have got much better:

This is "Mustard Soup" - wonderful, the best I have tasted all year

Just barely cooked cod with shrimps and a sauce that tastes like Bouillabaisse

I liked the look of this restaurant and menu from the start - but it was necessary to humour my companion with a pleasant walk around the centre of Steenwijk before returning to take a table

The restaurant is in an old building, associated with the port at Steenwijk (pronounced stain-vye-ck - as in stainless steel and vikings) - the port is no more (a car park), because the sea is now a very long way away - and the building nearly met the same fate as its demolished neighbours.  Is now serving as temporary employment for theatre restaurant staff while the theatre itself is being refurbished.  My whole meal with drink was €22 - less than one course at your typical Dublin restaurant.

The next day we, again, had a successful result with Dutch cuisine at the Huis Ten Wolde:

We assayed the "surprise menu". "Would you like to choose your main course?"  Uhhh no - because then it would not be a surprise then would it?  For our €32 + drinkies this is what we got...

You don't get to choose the size of your drink - as each beer comes with its own specific glass

The amuse bouche - lobster, olive oil, butter with crunchy salt crystals (and home made bread rolls - not pictured)

The waiter made me close my eyes for this one "to make the surprise more surprising".  Lots of interesting tastes here

This was 'thigh of beef' - of course we did not get to choose how well it was done - and it was done just right - why do folks think they know better than the chef?  In addition there were potatoes with cheese

A close up of the dessert - this is mango with a mini-sprig of mint

A mojito ice cream - a surprising taste but it worked well.  I have not had a Mojito since I was last in Havana

Although the bar was well stocked with Lagavulin my habit is to try the local spirit as a night cap - this is a very special genever.  A lot nicer than the Bols I had on my 1984 visit to Amsterdam - a swig of which was the forfeit while playing multilingual fizz-buzz (reverse and change language on 7) on the train back towards the ferry port.  I seem to remember Erling threw the empty bottle out the window