Hi honey… I’m home!

Jeez, they really know how to do hot, down in the south of France!

I’m back in blighty now, where it is pissing down with rain, as I write this.

However, we had a good time – as always – but I won’t bore you with the details.

And I’m particularly pleased with this picture that I managed to take from seat 16F on our Airbus 320-200

 

Now, see these sandals on my feet? Well, I am being constantly moaned at that they are not fashionable enough and that I should get a new pair.

But I have no intention of doing so: plenty of life left in them, I reckon.

Flip flops are the thing, apparently. But I’ve never liked ’em. Don’t like that bit that goes between your toes.

Or the noise that they make as you walk: flip flop, flip flop, flip flop… Gets on my nerves.

Mrs Masher put hers on the wrong feet once, and they went: flop flip, flop flip, flop flip…

True story.

But, it got me thinking. Y’see, I bought those sandals to take on our honeymoon.

Twenty-four years ago.

As you know, I like to get my money’s worth.

But, it occurred to me that my Clarks’ sandals – being nearly a quarter century old – must be pretty well travelled by now.

And so, with nothing better to do, I sat under the air-conditioning unit and worked out in which countries they had been worn.

In no particular order:

England; France; Spain; Italy; Jamaica; Kenya; Venezuela; Brazil; Portugal; Cozumel; Kos; Canary Islands (Fuerteventura, Lanzarote and Gran Canaria); Singapore; Bali; St Lucia; Malaysia; Thailand and Grand Cayman.

Not bad, eh?

And so, unless anyone can better that, I am declaring my sandals to be the Judith Chalmers of footwear.

Home Alone 2

It’s summer ‘olidays time again, and – just like last year – we will be off to the south of that France soon.

Mrs Masher has already gone and has taken Amelia with her. Me and the boy will follow on a bit later.

Harry is a bit like me: he bores easily. And he doesn’t much like the heat.

The girls can happily lay out in the sun for eight or nine hours a day, smothered in factor 2, and doing – essentially – nothing.

But we boys, we can’t do that.

Yes, I’ll take the opportunity to catch up on some reading (books already loaded onto the Kindle and nerdy computer and radio magazines are  ready), constantly moving my lounger, as I follow the shade around the wooden parasol. But once I’ve finished, that’s it: I’m BORED!

Harry will do the parasol dance too, but his interests extend to playing games on his phone and that’s about it.

Of course, this is all punctuated with frequent trips to the bar; trips to the pool; trips to the bar again and trips back to our air-conditioned home for some respite from the heat.

Did I mention that I don’t like the heat?

And yes, we’ll go out in the car and do some Geocaching; we’ll see some sights and indulge in a couple of Leffe Blonds; maybe we’ll go out on a speedboat, like we did last year – as ridiculously expensive as that was – and I’m sure we will take a trip or two out to some of the gorgeous beaches they have there – not that I’m a beach fan, really… sand really does get EVERYWHERE, doesn’t it? And it chafes.

But we’ll have some fun, despite it being stupidly hot.

Then, after seven days, Harry and I will come back home, leaving Amelia and Mrs M out there… this year they are doing three weeks!

We’ll be happy to leave them laying in the sun.

I’ll come back to my nerdy toys; my dog and a fridge full of beer and Harry will come back to his beloved X-Box.

And we’ll have a brilliant time.

Pointless

I buy quite a lot of stuff from Amazon.

OK, I know they treat their staff like shit, but they are reasonably priced and very convenient… especially when you have Prime.

I also like how it’s possible to read reviews, before making a purchase; very handy if you have never bought that particular item before. Of course, reviews are subjective and you’ll often see a one-star review nestled in amongst dozens and dozens of five-star ones, claiming that this is the worst piece of crap ever and everyone should avoid buying it.

I reckon that sometimes, when I’m looking for something, I’ll spend more time reading the reviews than if I’d actually gone to a shop and bought one!

Another useful thing, is the ability to post a question on the item’s page.

But it does amaze me how some people feel the need to reply to a question, even if they don’t have a useful response.

I recently bought some items and here are some of the questions and responses that I saw for them:

A battery charger

A keypad for my aunt’s alarm panel

A 12 Volt Lead Acid Battery for the same alarm panel

I think this one was for a bike lock

This is my favourite… for a plug-in USB charger for a car cigarette lighter socket

 

Pointless.

A Magical Night

Last night, we went out – as a family – to see a show down that London.

It was a magic show.

You both know how much I love a magic show!

And we all thoroughly enjoyed it, because it was very good.

Whether it was good enough to justify the eighty quid a ticket price, I’m not so sure.

Don’t get me wrong, it was a wonderfully entertaining show.

But… eighty quid a ticket!

Actually, with the admin fee, it worked out an extra £2.50 on top of that.

Add to that the return train fare, which was another 48 quid.

And then a meal and a couple of drinks at Planet Hollywood.

That family night out, just cost me about 500 quid!

Jeez.

It’s back to Cineworld for us.

In the money

Whilst walking the dog through the woods, last night, I found a five-pound note.

Just laying there on the path, it was.

There was no-one around, so I picked it up and slipped it in my pocket.

I felt quite chuffed with my find… but not as chuffed as you might think.

Y’see, last month, whilst walking through the same woods – with the same dog – I happened across a ten-pound note, again, just lying there on the path.

And again, there was not a soul around, so I trousered that one too.

I don’t know about the streets of London being paved with gold, but the woods in Luton seem to be fairly flush.

Apart from the odd bits of loose change, this is the first decent bit of money I have found for a long time.

i remember many years ago, when I lived and worked in town, I was walking to work bright and early one morning, when I saw a ten-pound note laying on the pavement. There was no-one around, so I happily pocketed it.

Thirty seconds later, I found another one: just laying there on the pavement. That too went into my pocket and I convinced myself – there and then – that I’d be stinking rich by the time I got to the end of the road: imagining bundles of ten-pound notes littering my journey to work.

Of course, I never found anymore.

Until now.

Maybe my luck has changed .

Or maybe I’ll just be healthier and wealthier if I walk the dog more often.

Institutionalised

Today, Harry and I visited the Royal Institution, down that London.

It was this: most excellent.

Harry was invited as part of the Maths Masterclass events that the RI has been running.  He attended 10 of them, earlier in the year, up at Bletchley Park and this was a follow on.

He got to sit in the famed lecture theatre for four hours, along with a whole load of other kids, whilst the parents (actually: parent singular, as only one was allowed to accompany their child), did similar maths puzzles and games in one of the other lecture rooms.

It was a lot of fun. For both of us.

And during the lunch break, I got to tour the place a bit and soak myself in it’s history and scientific grandeur.

I think I may have squealed  a bit like a girl, when I found myself standing right outside Michael Faraday’s actual laboratory – excuse the reflections on the photo: it was behind protective glass.

Harry was less impressed. To him, Faraday – and Davy, for that matter –  is just an old dead bloke who invented lots of things that aren’t as good as what we have today.

Aarrgghh!

Hopefully, when he is older, he will understand the significance of what Faraday achieved.

On another note, on the train on the way home, I overheard the conversation of two young girls seated behind us.

I say ‘overheard’ but they were talking rather loudly.  It kinda went like this:

“How is it at work? You still stupidly busy?”

“Yeah. We have this big job in Dubai that…” and she went on at length about some new hotel that she was involved with. “How’s it with you? You still on that same project?”

“No. They’ve moved me on to the Apollo 11 project now. It’s REALLY interesting, but a lot of it goes over my head, to be honest.”

My ears pricked up at this point. The Apollo 11 project? What’s this all about then? What’s this young girl doing that involves Apollo 11? Where does she fit in? What’s happening? I need to know… tell me… tell me…

But, then they got up and left the train at the next station, so I never got to find out.

Aarrgghh!

I officially give up! Yet again.

Morse code is an anachronism.

Invented and used in the 1840’s, it seems somewhat out of place in today’s high-speed world, where data rates are so high that whole sentences of text can be sent in the blink of an eye.

It’s an outmoded form of communication, that just doesn’t sit well with modern  methods.

And yet… it does.

It is still used by the military – not necessarily as the main basis of contact nowadays, but certainly as a fallback, I’m sure.

And in the world of Amateur Radio, it is still a much sought-after skill amongst many.

There are plenty of amateurs out there who can do Morse.  Many of them excel at it.  And there are even some that won’t use any other method to communicate over the air.

Sadly, I’m not one of them.

I would LOVE to be able to read morse code, properly.  I can send at slow speeds and I can read it at very slow speeds. Very slow. Very, very slow. Reading is the hard part.

Rather like learning a new language (and ostensibly, that’s what it is), there are many different methods for learning it. Over the years I have tried reading books (Duh!); listening to tapes and listening to other operators sending. I have tried several PC programs and mobile phone apps. I have built machines for practicing with (see picture above), eventually taking them apart and using the bits for another project, because I was getting nowhere.

Frustratingly, in my teens, I did learn how to read and send, and could do so at about five or six words a minute.  If only I’d kept it up.

Similarly, I used to be able to parlez francais to a reasonable degree.

But I allowed them both to lapse and nowadays I struggle to learn either.

And it really annoys me.

I’ll admit that this is partially down to commitment. I don’t seem to have the time nowadays to study for such things.

And the inclination. That’s kind of gone too: I want to learn it, but I don’t want to put in the effort.  Like the rest of the MTV generation (yes, I think I just about fall into that category) and, as Freddie Mercury sang: “I want it all and I want it now”.

And so, after several months of “giving it another go”, I have hung up my headphones.

Again.

For the last time.

That’s it! I have resigned myself to the fact that morse code will forever evade me.

No more, will I try learning and decyphering that strange sound of dits and dahs pouring from my radio speaker.

No more, will I spend hours in the car listening to an 800Hz tone beeping out letters of the alphabet to me.

No more will I drive the family mad, as I sit in my room badly tapping away at a morse key.

No more, will I… who am I kidding? Give it three months and I’ll be back at it for another half-hearted attempt.

Guilty, as charged

I do wonder about myself sometimes!

Last night, I built a wireless charger for my phone.

It took about a week for the bits to arrive from China, and then about an hour for me to fit it into a suitable container that would act as a charging pad – I used the lid off of a jar of decaffeinated coffee.

My schoolboy error?

My phone doesn’t do wireless charging!

Oh well, at least it was quick and cheap. And it hasn’t gone to waste, as Amelia’s phone does have that functionality, so she has already snaffled it away to join the junk on her bedside table.

*Must do better research next time*

Short changed

Once again, I’ve been looked over in the Birthday Honours list. Pah!

Oh well. Maybe next year.

Last weekend, I fitted a new burglar alarm for my aged aunt. My dad came along to help run some of the wiring.

Her old alarm was also fitted by me, about 20 years ago and, whilst it still worked OK, it was getting a bit long in the tooth.  But the main reason for replacing it, was because she was struggling to reach the panel nowadays.

And so, I replaced it with a nice new one and then added a remote keypad in the hallway, at a level she could reach easily.

She was very pleased and gave me some money for doing the work. Of course, I refused: she’s family.

But she insisted.

And I refused.

This went on for a while before I grudgingly accepted. She’s proud of still being able to pay her own way, I can understand that. “Take it. Treat your dad”, she said.

And so, last night, we went out to our favourite Toby – we love a carvery – taking dad and his partner with us, to have a meal… paid for by my aunt.

The total cost of the meal came to 4 pounds more than she had given me.

I’ll pop round to see her later, to see if she will stump up the rest.

 

In the crap

Yesterday, I went on a visit to Abbey Mills pumping station, in the heart of that London.

Well, maybe not the heart, but certainly a major organ, like the liver or maybe a kidney.

Anyway, it was dead good.

We started off with a finger buffet for lunch, before sitting down for a ninety minute talk on Sewage Through The Ages. It was quite fascinating… some of it.

And then we put on some protective clothing and climbed down into a sewer. It was a bit smelly, but not too bad, considering. And if nothing else, it was a cool respite from the sun. Our guides took us on a thirty minute walk inside a nearby sewer, which they had washed down for us. There was still a couple of inches of sludge and silt to walk through, but it wasn’t too bad at all.  Being down there, one got a sense of how much work the Victorians put into it. The fact that they still work perfectly 150 years after being built is testament to that.  The picture above is of me and my team, just before we went down (as I’ve not sought permission from any of them to put their picture on here, I’ve blurred them out, to be on the safe side).

After the sewers, we were taken on a tour of the station itself. With its magnificent Victorian architecture, it’s no surprise that English Heritage have listed the building.  And inside was even more impressive. I would imagine more modern pumping stations, to be stark, utilitarian places, but Victorian engineers and architects liked to have a touch of the grandiose about their work.

 

It’s a fascinating visit and I would recommend it to anyone… especially as it is free.  I think the water board only run the tour for one week at the end of May and I know it gets heavily subscribed – because it took 18 months for me and the team to get tickets… and we work for them! But it might also be available (I’m told) during London Open House, in September. If you get the chance, it’s definitely worth a look.

« Older posts

© 2019

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑