About Me

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Cornwall, United Kingdom
A married Cornishman who still doesn't know what he wants to be when he grows up. I currently work for a charity and am trying to expand my horizons. [See bottom of page for Blog Archive and Links.]

What am I doing?

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Nanuke of the North

Nanuke of the North

Jacket Envy

The title was going to be "Blob on the Blog" not my idea, it was dreamt up by Cathy & C on the way back from Sainsburys; in response to my declaring that I would take a photo of it for my blog.

I guess it had to happen at some stage, I'm just disappointed that it was probably because I lost focus. I have managed to pick up some excellent coats in sales over the years, ones with lots of handy little pockets for gadgets.

(Now I know that one can buy a range of jackets from that well known manufacturer, whose name escapes me at the moment but owners include (I think) both James Kendrick and Kevin Tofel of http://www.jkontherun.com. My problem is that the postage has always out weighed the cost of the items in sales.)

Yesterday we visited Windsor and came across a Tchibo store (www.tchibo.co.uk). Cathy went in first and was looking at jackets, I only popped in hoping to get another cheap 4-in-1 pen/stylus. After a scout around I wandered off in search of other shops. If only I had stayed and paid attention, I might have picked up a bargain jacket.

Cathy ended up with a Snow Gear jacket, as illustrated in the photo of her modelling it. Things about the jacket that really impressed me included: a passive avalanche detection system - radar reflective patches that can be picked up by detectors being used in a growing number of ski resorts; a wide range of pockets, that include one with a self-retracting ski-pass holder, an internal pocket for mp3 type player, with headphones hole to run cables inside the jacket (and avoid my usual problem of catching them on door handles and nearly ripping my ears off), pockets for mobile (cell) phone and for ski goggles, pocket with a microfibre cloth for wiping said googles; the jacket has a fleece inner that can be detached and, when turned inside out, can be worn as a jacket; I could go on but you get the picture.

It's a great jacket. So good in fact, I am contemplating heading up to Windsor on the way home on Tuesday to see if I can get one, though in a different colour (as I do have a problem going anywhere in matching clothes to Cathy - especially if they are mostly hers ;-0)

I wouldn't have thought about driving somewhere I have only visited twice before, and which is likely to be very busy, if it weren't for the marvellous power of TomTom. We had such a good journey up to Surrey from West Cornwall, not one disagreement over map and route, even with our trying a new route. I followed my mate T's route on the Axim with TomTom running and saw how it would reroute according to the shortcuts he took, the thing's a marvel, (though admittedly he knew the shortcuts for the time of day and TomTom didn't).

The marvels of bluetooth

I know that bluetooth has a range of something like 10 feet but it can still surprise me.

I am sitting downstairs in the lounge of our friends in Camberley, my Sony Ericsson P910i phone is on the bedside cabinet upstairs. I finished a blog entry and hit send without thinking about it and, after a few seconds, it was gone and Diarist (thank you once again Kevin Daly) reported those magic words Post Successful.

The fact that I am using bluetooth is something of an embarassment to me. I set up wireless internet for my friend early this year and made strenuous efforts to ensure he was secure. I came up a few days ago thinking, 'Great I can (with permission) collect emails and update my RSS feeds via their connection'. I fired up my Axim not long after arriving and discovered that I can't even see the signal!

I know what the problem is, I locked the signal down to 804g only - but why?!?

What reason could I have had to do that, especially knowing that if I came up I would be using an 804b Axim. Weird. Oh well, I have my phone and am happy using that for the little I need. I had loaded up with podcasts be fore I left, should I need them for the journey up or back, and RSS and email isn't too much of a strain on my meagre GPRS resource.

New Year's Eve

New Year's Eve

Well, it's the almost here and another holiday season will have passed. I have been convinvced this year that the fuss is not worth it.

By that I mean the charging around to get presents from the shops, the buying up of larger quantities of more expensive food than we need, the writing of hundreds of cards to people who either don't send them or who only write them as a chore. There were always people who didn't get a card (but should have) from me because they were lost in the melee of getting out all the cards that I did as a chore and that robbed my concentration.

In future I shall write cards in order and stop when it feels like a chore, (as in a job that you know you should be doing if only out of a sense of guilt). I am an adult now and should learn to steer my own course, take responsibility for my own decisions but to do that I need to make some decisions.

Christmas itself doesn't really enthuse me. We don't have children so no incentive there. I used to have visions of the classic but non existant Victorian Christmas, log fires, snow in the streets, chestnut sellers on the corner, everyone smiling and greeting each other, their breath forming clouds and carolers singing in front of the church. OK, that is a little over the top but you get the idea. [I factored out things like street beggars, opium dens, poverty in a large portion of the neighbourhood, vermin, disease and other things too numerous or horrible to mention].

I imagined myself, and actually did in a way, writing letters in fountain pen to friends far away, sealing envelopes and cards with wax and popping them into the post box on my way to collect the daily poapers.

In actual fact Christmas is very much like the rest of the year. One or two days when I give some goodies, get some goodies and catch up with a few friends. We are lucky, when we visit our father-in-law he cooks the most magnificent roast dinners (though, as we have it around noon, I call it lunch); Christmas meals don't top that. I can go without Christmas tree decorating, I like to glance at the end result but it soon palls.

By this point I may have thoroughly depressed you, gentle reader, but it's the cusp of a New Year and I am determined to be honest and share more in this blog.

We had a comment in a Christmas card this year that made me think. There are people we hardly ever see who would really enjoy our company, I am of mind that we could see them at this time another year but it would mean disappointing others and I have gone through my life desparately trying not to disappoint anyone, (usually leading to disappointing me, but that's another story). May be that's the spirit of the season I should cling to, doing things for people who do so much for us in the preceeding year.

For now we are going to enjoy our time with friends in the UK we see too little of. Yesterday it was a laugh and a mooch around Windsor, who knows what today will bring.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Feedback - Storing PhatPad files and jpgs

One thing I have noticed with ink blogging on this Axim is that I cannot save a file in the name folder as both jpg and as a PhatPad pmi file.

Why would I want to?

As I have previously posted, to produce an ink entry first I write using PhatPad in Drawing Pen mode; I then save this as a jpg ready to send to my blog.

In case I want to add to the ink post I must also save the entry as a PhatPad (pmi) file. To alter a jpg entry directly, my only option is to insert the jpg in as a background object, something more suited to annotating pictures.

Maybe this could be looked at for a future upgrade, or am I doing it the wring way?

Thursday, December 28, 2006

A thank you for the fine start

Well, I am chuffed to bits with the excellent take up I have had already from some of the nominees I targeted in the meme challenge .

I emailed a majority of my choices, my decision as being the best option for me, as I don't have the presence to just call out; for a start, my bog has a minimal audience.

A big thank you to Marianne at Marianne's Virtual Salon for her great entry.

Thanks to my mate Buzz Bruggerman at Buzznovation for his sterling contribution.

I have just seen Craig Pringle's response, thank you very much Craig, enjoyable as always.

One thing I actually like is the chance for me to give some of my favourite blogs/bloggers a sort of shoutout. Unlike Craig, I have yet to meet any of the bloggers I read. I am near to Guilford ths New Year so you never know I might bump into the Currys, (though I very much doubt it).

UREN V1 - I really should have one of these

UREN V1 if only because our family business for over 80 years has been Uren's Ice Cream.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Cheaper Computer Helpline numbers

I came across this site www.saynoto0870.com via Chris "Aximsite" Leckless' Mobility Site entry and thought it worth a mention.

i have heard of a number of new users who get caught in the premium rate number help trap and anything that helps ease the pain has to be a good thing.

Cheers

Phil

Serendipity

Occasionally I will do something out of routine that just fits so perfectly in the cosmic order.

It is the holiday period when one's thoughts turn particularly to absent friends and family.

I am working today, (on a break in the office tedium at this precise moment), and doing so after 2 days of a horrible flu-ey bug. Consequently, (and also due to having built up time in hand from a number of early starts/late finishes), I left home only just before 9am. I was driving, so headed along the village harbourside only to see a familiar figure at the bus stop, it was my old friend Rob.

It was great to be able to not only say hello but give him a lift to the train, I was headed the same way but he's one of those genuine chaps that I'd give him a lift to his destination even if I was going the other way.

That's the sort of feeling, from unexpectedly catching up with an old friend, that makes ones day.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

A new victim/nominee

How about Craig Pringle as my new choice for the meme challenge - 5 Things Not Known About Me?

I shall send him an email forthwith.

Hope you are all continuing to have a good Holiday period.

Best wishes

Monday, December 25, 2006

Change in Tagged blog line up

OK I admit I got behind in my reading. It seems that Robert Scoble's been tagged already and is not keen on this tagging lark anyway
http://scobleizer.com/2006/12/14/blog-tag-games/ so I need to substitute someone else. I wide this while off line, effectively - only GPRS at Orange UK rates, so will come up with someone tomorrow.

Cabinet War Rooms Part 1

The most interesting part of my visit has to be the Churchill Museum that was opened in 2005. The space is attached to the below ground rooms, and is about the size of a football pitch. It is a brilliant use of technology, some of it quite simple and some more complex but it all works.

One enters the museum as a detour from the route around the basement rooms used by the War Cabinet and officers, working on the planning and execution of the war. (It would have been rooms at one time, as after 1941 they opened up a lot more rooms than used initially).

The first exihibit is a line of video screens, showing black and white images from the war. Standing in front of one of the screens triggers a speaker in the ceiling to play a commentary. Because of the design you can hear what your speaker says, but hardly anything from the one next to you.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Tag, I'm it! 5 things you don't know about me

Having been tagged by Kevin Tofel on the JK on the Run blog, I present my 5 not-widely-known-things to do with me.

I live in the village I grew up in, in the cottage my mother and grandmother were born in.

The main line of my family has lived within 10 miles of where I am now, for over 300 years.

I have been married to my gorgeous wife for 17 years.

I recently had 2 photos of accomodation in Bath in the UK selected for inclusion in the Schmap Bath Guide

I am convinced that Arthur Dent was given the middle name of Philip after a letter I wrote to Douglas Adams, following the original radio episode the Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy of featuring The Restaurant At The End Of The Universe .

The blogs I tag in turn to tell 5 things that readers don't know about them are:

Buzz Bruggeman of Buzzmodo I have no doubt he can come up with some interesting stuff.

Robert Scoble of Scobleizer.com. If anyone has multiples of 5 that he can share about himself...

Josh Bancroft of Tinyscreenfuls.com a main of many talents.

Leo Laporte at Twit.tv well aim high I say, I am certain that there is much we don't already know that he could share, if he's of a mind.

Marianne - Marianne's virtual salon Marianne of the mountain as I call her. Someone living a life that many only dream about and with many things we won't know.

I hope that all of these people will view my cheek with a kindly eye and hopefully rise to the challenge.

(I have tried to pick people I don't remember responding to this meme already, my apologies if you've already been tagged).

More of my 15 minutes of fame

Thanks to a blog post by Josh Bancroft I have been greatly enjoying reading Marianne's blog - Marion's Virtual Salon and have been enjoying some correspondence with her which culminated with a mention.

If that wasn't enough, I read today of two other mentions on a couple of other favourite blogs.

I recently posted a few ink entries and gained a mention by Sumocat, a pioneer of blog inking, I was "chuffed to bits" to use a colloquilism. Given the work Sumocat does for the cause of inking it's an honour to get a mention, never mind his remembering me from an earlier occasion.

To top it off, I was reading about the meme that James Kendrick was called out on, (to mention 5 things not generally known about him), and then I read the post from Kevin Tofel that tagged not only James but me too

Well Kevin, as you know, I'm a reader of JK on the Run so my next post will answer the call.

Unexpected Christmas Gifts

Unexpected Christmas gifts ink message

Friday, December 22, 2006

There are good reasons for anonymity

Steve Beall a seconded manager at a Thorntons shop & Caf? decided to blog about his opinion of the town of Barrow-in-Furness, where he was working.

Unfortunately his comments, some pretty unfavourable, were picked up by a local newspaper and, on top of this, they were able to0 identify him.

Some locals were so incensed they started going in to the store to vent their anger.

Maybe this item on Digg about anonymous blogging might have helped.

Steve has now been moved back to his original store.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

I really want one of these

Just when I thought I would be happy with the N95, or N93 if impatient. Now comes the HTC Athena and even the name has meaning for me.

Knowing my luck, I wonder how astronomical the price will be over here and which phone supplier will take it up.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Brazilian night in Baswater

I won extremely lucky to be taken to a Brazilian restaurant last night, by a friend of Cathy's and mine - S.

We had the most delicious food. While it was not very not vegetarian friendly it was excellent. It had a self service, salad bar and after we had helped aindves to a relation of Brazilian dishes we were visited by a succession of waiters bring various types of meat on
skewers. All I can say is "I tried it all and I liked it all".

It was a great evening out and so different to the beginning of my enforced fast last week.

Dispatch from the old telephone exchange, Cabinet War Rooms

I write this while having lunch in what, for me, is one of the most fascinating places in London.

I thought the place was worth a morning when I first visited. since then they have opened the Churchill Museum. It is a truimph of hi-tech. there are video screen stations that play when you are only standing before it, video and interactive touch screen booths, tippet off by a massive touch screen table with a timeline of Winnie's life.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Arrived in London

It's 5.50am and the sleeper is sitting on the platform at Paddington.

It his keen a good journey, I reckon I war asleep by the time we reached Truro. My wart fear about travelling on this Night Sleeper Riviera train was that I was booked into a double and may have had to share with a stranger. It didn't happen, so I had an unbroken night's sleep - hurray!

Just waiting for my morning tea now, then it's a wash and oh to the West Cornwall Pasty company Shop on a near by platform for breakfast. (I am carrying some saffron buns to tide me over in an emergency so, coupled wilts the pasty breakfast, my mother will know I am eating proper-ly.

It's great having the wifi signal reach the inside of my sleeper berth, surely a nign of civilisation.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Cornwall at Christmas on the BBC

Just stopped vacuuming to learn a little about food and farming at this, time of year. The programme is on BBC1 and is called Countryfile.

Just learned from the show about a great scheme, where one can find out about the fish one eats, right down to the boat that caught it: Seafood Cornwall.

Sometimes my ignorance of local things astounds me. Today I found out from the show that everything in Great Britain is measured from a 25 foot well on the pier at Newlyn, a half hour drive from here; it is there that the mean sea level is measured from.

Of course Tom Bawcock's Eve gets a mentioned along with Star Gazey pie, made with 7 sorts of fish, a great seasonal story.


Friday, December 15, 2006

After the show is over

After the show is over

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Nearly there

Nearly there

No food for 26 hours

I have a Medical examination today, (would that it were a written exam - even an oral one would be OK) , a physical one. It 's an exploratory one and only to confirm the consultant's prognosis that there is nothing to worry about.

Not worrying is a good state of mind to be in but, in this case, it comes at a price. When I flirt received the news from the Consultant it was a reference to my having a bowel x-ray. My appointment letter mentioned barium and the word I most associate with 'that is ''meal"; ironically (or not) my procedure is just the opposite. Don't think about it, just concentrate on the title of this piece.

Since rising at 6. 30am yesterday I have been solids free. The highlight of my day was jelly, (that's the - pair hot water onto lumps of flavoured gelatine and set in the fridge, what I believe is called jello in ithe us), punctuated with cups of fruit tea and stock cubes in hot water. The low point had to be the moments before I had to swallow a solution whose purpose was much like that of a liquid Pickfords (UK removals firm).

All of the above meant I had to stay at home yesterday but, for some reason I had no enthusiasm for blogging about it. I write now as I am sitting in the waiting room over an hour early and want something to concentrate on.

I don't remember the last time I went so long without food, if ever. There have been gastric incidents in my past, where I have had to go without food for the better part of the day, but that was necessity while this was almost choice; I could have eaten but it causes problems in x-ray clarity.

People run down our health service but I cannot find fault with it. On those rare occasions that I have needed to visit or stay in a hospital, I have not had a wait of more than a few weeks, the staff have always been helpful, polite and cheerful and my treatment has dealt with my problems.

Well, the time for my appointment is almost here so, I shall cease blogging at this point and post it when I get off hospital premises, (no mobile phones allowed and no wifi available).

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

I really should take more care

A lesson learned (hopefully)

More ink

PhatPad musings

Brlghthand reports N95 delays

In what is disappointing news, Brighthand has reported that the N95 will now appear in the second quarter of 2007 instead of the first quarter.

Given that I was looking at this phone as the next one for me it is disappointing to say the least.

Of course I wouldn't want a phone that is anything less than complete but it's disappointing none the less.

There is always the N93 I suppose, though with it's 3 megapixel camera (as opposed to 5 megapixel version).

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Fame at last


Fame at last
Originally uploaded by Phil(hellene).

Monday, December 11, 2006

Second blog ink entry


Second blog ink entry
Originally uploaded by Phil(hellene).

Here's blog entry in ink for only the second time.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Test ink post

A Lesson in humour

From my last post:

Oh yes hairdresser's in the morning, there's something relaxing in having attractive women run their hands through ones hair - even if it takes less time each year.

came the following comment from one of my most distant foreign correspondents:

"There is no-one in hairdressing with hands that small."

Once I had ceased laughing and regained my composure, I realised that it was an excellent lesson in humour. It's all in the timing and, with the written word that amounts to word order, so ably demonstrated above.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

It's been a while

I still haven't cracked regular blogging, a real shame as it's probably the closest I will get to publishing.

I am doing what I always seem to lately, getting comfy by the open fire, Cathy asleep opposite and me surfing. emailing and generally messing with the Axim. the fire warms much of the cottage, and it's so warm here I never like to move. We were so much better about bed times when staying in Cyprus.

I am going to watch the end of Later with Jools Holland before moving. I really like one of the bands they have tonight - Mr.Hudson and the Library.

Oh yes hairdresser's in the morning, there's something relaxing in having attractive women run their hands through ones hair - even if it takes less time each year.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Starbucks Exeter

Based two doors down from the Virgin Megastore, at the Dingles end of the High Street, Starbucks is easy to find.

Once inside it is split into 2 parts, the front of store and then, further in behind a partition, a larger seating area. This is a brief review of the wifi side of things and there's plenty on the beverages/food elsewhere on the net.

I sat in the immediately against the screen in the inner part of the store, with my back to the people coming in past looking for a seat. With a strong wifi signal at home, I forget sometimes how variable signals can be. I placed my Axim at a distance that matched my cup, and was disappointed to find only 1 out of 5 bars. It worked for a while, until the place got a trifle busy and the signal dropped. Just before I had to leave I pushed it 6 centimetres or so and it jumped to 3 out of 5 bars.

So, although I did not have long it was a positive result in the end; I can recommend their chocolate cream frappaccuino and apple & cinnamon muffins.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

N97 - Nokia taking a step back?

Engadget has a post giving the specs of a potential future N97 multimedia phone.

Apart from a 20Gb HDD, it's surely a backwards step compared to the N95?

Sony Ericsson comes out top

Sony Ericsson tops the JD Powers Survey of customer satisfaction for wireless devices.

As a P910i owner it doesn't surprise me in the slightest.

Sometimes the familiar is favourite


Tracy gave me pause for thought with her article on the use of Journal over OneNote or GoBinder

Seeing videos such as with James and Kevin at www.jkontherun.com and Josh at www.tinyscreenfuls.com, I have been suffering a little envy as I came to appreciate more how flexible the umpc really is.

Tracy made me realise that it is as much about what you can do with the technology, as what actual device one might use. I write this, sitting on a sofa beside a glowing coal fire, with my Axim x51v and Stowaway BT keyboard and it is as flexible as any UMPC. I need to use the programmes I have at my disposal more fully, before I need to think about upgrading.


Thursday, November 16, 2006

Cornwall and Communication

It's a sad reflection on me I guess, that it takes a television programme to remind me of the great connection this county has with the world of communications.

The beach at [Porthcurno], a little over half an hour from here, was the point at which all the country's telegraph cables came in. 14 cables from places like New Foundland, Gibraltar, India, enabled almost instantaneous communication across the empire where once it would have took as much as weeks or months. I guess it was much like going from sub-light to faster-than-light travel.

[I can't mention Porthcurno without a nod to the Minack, an open air amphitheatre built almost single handedly on the side of a hill by Rowena Cade].

Half an hour in the other direction along the coast, lies Poldhu. It was here that the world's first transatlantic wireless signal was sent, the Morse letter S, by Marconi.

Half an hour inland from here, lies Goonhilly; the site of the world's first earth satellite dish. From this site, a majority of the satellite transmissions from around the world come in and are distributed around the UK from here. The first transmission was as recent as 1962 and look where we're at today.

I am going to make a Christmas pilgrimage this year, and head to Goonhilly for some blogging on the fly. I might even try to head by Porthcurno, opening times permitted and I'll include some pictures then.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Happy Birthday to me

It's been a good day.

We went to Plymouth to help celebrate my birthday. It was a chance to check out the new shopping centre and window shop. I didn't actually end up buying much but enjoyed the chance to hang out with Cathy, have a look at a wider range of products and have a spot of lunch. In the morning we headed to the Canadian Muffin company and grabbed a cup of java and a wholemeal muffin - definitely recommended; it sits next to a Halifax on the corner nearly opposite the Armada centre.

Lunch was going to be in Zeus, a little Greek place at the bottom end of one of the main streets but it turned out too busy. We were given a leaflet for a Japanese restaurant but on the way to check it out, in case it sold bento boxes, we saw the outside area of a Wetherspoons pub. The sky was a brilliant blue, the sun shining and the opportunity to eat al fresco was too good an opportunity to miss. As an added bonus they had wifi, it was The Wifi Zone but I couldn't get to the splash screen, even though I could grab the signal.

While I didn't end up buying anything of note on the day but that's not a bad thing. Since then I came across an illustrated Dan Brown book Angels & Demons at Asda and decided to treat myself. Today I nabbed a copy of Catherine Jenkins' latest cd Serenade in Tesco.

It was good to hang out together.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Naxos Music library

What a find!!

It turns out that as a member of Cornwall (in the UK) County Library, I can access (i.e. listen to) over 8000 tracks online in the Naxos Music Library.

The most valuable piece of plastic I carry in my wallet has always been my library card - now it's gotten even more precious.

Mysterious waves seen in Venus' clouds

I hope this report isn't presaging something out of Kevin J Anderson's Seven Suns saga

Sunday, November 05, 2006

A solitary lesson in winter driving

It's a fine Autumn day, blue sky and sunshine all the way, simply beautiful. It's cold outside, bitterly so and at 6pm quite dark.

Weather like this can lure one into a false sense of security, I won't break down on a fine day like this. It follows that if I didn't breakdown, I didn't need extra stuff in the boot, hats, gloves, fleece, etc.

I didn't break down but I did get turned off the main road partway home and took to a narrow country lane to get around it. I wasn't the only one. Everything went swimmingly, for 10 minutes or so, until I met the people heading in the opposite direction who had the same idea. The lane was narrow and, apart from a couple of gateways, there were no passing places. A general consensus was that there was going to be at least an hour, maybe two, of waiting while one stream of cars reversed back. I shut off my engine and began to wait. It didn't take long to get to the point where I felt the chill. As luck would have it I had a fleece in the back of the car and even a pair of gloves.

I didn't want to put the radio on and run any risks with flattening a battery; OK a car radio shouldn't flatten a radio anytime soon, but, knowing my luck, it would be then that I would discover that I had a borderline faulty battery. No problem there, I got out my Axim and keyboard and composed a few emails and listened to some podcasts. Eventually things began moving and some 20+ cars reversed the mile to a t-junction. Apart from the need to keep the car stocked for any occasion where the engine isn't running, especially when it's cold or wet outside, one thing I learnt was don't head back down to the main road at the first opportunity, you will still meet others coming from that direction. I lost another 20 minutes heading back to the main road, when I should have headed further into the country at the t-junction. Ah well, all was well in the end, I got home warm and not very late; crickey, there are -people who have a far greater commute than the approximate hour or so each way.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Swimming Pool at Sarah's


Swimming Pool at Sarah's 1
Originally uploaded by Phil(hellene).

How could Cathy not swim everyday?

All this and a beach less than 5 minutes away.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Red Roller group


Red Roller group
Originally uploaded by Phil(hellene).

Here's a shot of some of the apples we retrieved from the tree in the garden. It's a tree that we share as a family and was planted over 70 years ago by a family member.

It was identified by a fruit expert some years ago as the Red Roller variety, a fairly rare Cornish variety named from it shape and once thought virtually extinct, or so I'm told.

View from a table on my first visit to Chesters


View from a table on my first visit to Chesters
Originally uploaded by Phil(hellene).

Here's the first of the photos from Cyprus.

Quite fitting as Chesters Bar, on the outskirts of Limassol (the Larnaca side), was my favourite place to eat/drink and use FREE wifi. Yep ,one of the very few places in Cyprus to be generous enough to offer free wifi to patrons.

The table I sat at was outdoors in front of the left hand doorway, as you look at the front of Chesters. I could keep a signal here for most of the time without interruption.

Autumn in Cornwall

Shakespeare had it right when he described Autumn as "the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness".

The last few apples are falling from the tree, it's been a good crop this year. From the windfalls we make various things like crumbles, nothing very adventurous but tasty. It's always good to be open to new things and I recently had this happen with our apples. A very kind person made apple jelly with some and gave it to my parents; we tried it and next year it's on my list of things to do. The apples I have referred to here before, they are Red Rollers - a rare Cornish variety (pictures to come).

On the subject of pictures, I have not posted the Cypriot holiday ones yet as they are taking a while to go through. Armed with a digital camera and 2Gb SD I went a littler wild.

Today it has been damp, mist slowly creeping in and now I can only just see the buildings across the way. While not cold, the damp brought a chill that encouraged us to light our first coal fire since early Spring. As soon as I had laid it in and we had lit it, the warmth flowed into every nook and cranny of our little cottage. Sitting along side of the fire, it's glowing coals a hypnotic distraction, blurring our sense of time. Whenever we have a fire it's so difficult to drag ourselves away from it to go to bed. For all the work of making and, the next day, clearing up the debris it's worth it every time; as an added bonus, we often find that it's already been made when we get home, [no names, no pack drill - as they say but the persons involved know how grateful we are].

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Eric Idle on Parkinson

I have always enjoyed Michael Parkinson's shows, tonight was particularly good.

Eric Idle was funny while being more risqué than I had seen anyone on Parki before.

Eric Idle reports that when George Harrison was stabbed, 8 times by an intruder with a kitchen knife, he was being carried out on a stretcher; he hadn't met 2 new staff he had recently employed, when they came rushing in. George looked at them and said, "So what so you think of the job so far?"

Eric also said, "Niceness is overated".

Monday, October 16, 2006

Littlechef A350 Chippenham

Great service. Freshly cooked food, particularly the Olympic breakfast.

Wifi was up and down when a family were sitting near the take-away part, (we're sitting against the wall as you come in), now they are tone signal strength is stable. Strength 5 bars on today screen and average -50 on config screen.

Well worth nipping off the M4 junction 17 for the couple of miles to the end of the dual carriageway; the Littlechef is on far right on the roundabout you get to, next to the garage.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

The Last Day in Cyprus

Colour me melancholic.

Everything is still, muted even on this last morning. The sky is blue with a hint of clouds at the edge of the window, (I say window but it runs floor to ceiling and wall to wall). I am a relaxed sort of tired today, as I have gotten up early to see my friend off when he goes to work.

We'll be packing later, definitely my most hated holiday job. I have a smaller case but we seem to have made it a rule to buy larger souvenirs than last year, not just larger but heavier too. I smiled when I saw case's on the carousel, when we came out, that were marked with the HEAVY warning tags; well that's not us this year, I thought to myself - there's a good chance I won't have the last laugh.

Already my head's a blur of holiday experiences and we haven't left the country yet. The trips we have done are fairly vivid but the trips into Limassol have melded into one long one, just like my favourite street Agiou Andreiou. We have quite a few photos to remember the place by and a little video to, (though it's my first proper attempt with the Nikon P2). Naming the shots will give me quite a few evenings' work through the winter.

Ah the sun's reached the balcony, maybe that will lift my spirits a little.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Views from a Cypriot window

I sit here, looking out on an azure blue sea. Across the horizon ships pass in a slow procession. In the foreground people pass in a wedding procession. The sky is blue ahead of me, gradually fading to a muted orange as the sun sets.

Earlier I watched a massive build up of cumulo nimbus clouds, they gathered, changed shape and moved slowly like massive white ships of the air. I could watch such majestic movement for years, but today is our last whole day and I have so much atmosphere to soak up; after all, this will have to last for as much as a year.

The air is noticably cooler than when we came out but this feeling is, in part, due to our becoming acclimatised and partly due to the storms in the West. The light has all but faded now, swiftly as it does this much closer to the equator than in Cornwall. Dusk is almost a blessing bestowed to compensate for the sapping of the sun's strength in Northern Europe.

Tonight will be the last meal of substance with our dear friends here, a bittersweet time. We have been through this on many occasions but it never gets any easier. When you get along as well as we do and then have to spend so long apart it comes as a wrench. Not seeing each other but only being an hour or two apart is such a salve.

Impressions of Cyprus Part 2

We were familiar with the streets of Corfu Town and the smaller town our friends used to live in; so much so that I could close my eyes and navigate to any of the locations we used to go to. It was a place where I was definitely in my comfort zone.

Cyprus was an unknown, even after studying maps and gudie books before coming out I was none the wiser. Take the scale for instance, in Corfu I could tell you the time it would take me to get to somewhere but out here, goodness knows. Now, I can almost hear you saying but that's the same for everyone who visits a new place; to that I would say yes and perhaps I am not doing justice to the unease I felt at going to these new places, having to get familiar with the bus routes, etc.

Obstensibly we had come to see our friends and anything else was a bonus. For instance, we are staying just 2 minutes walk from what is called a supermarket out here, not your out of town conglomerate but say a Spar shop in the UK or one of those 9-till-late stores in the US, (I forget the generic name for them), they seem to be every 500 metres, bonus; next to that is a bar, a bonus, though drinks bought from the store to be drunk at home are more economical and I am on something of an economy drive.

I went in to the supermarket on the first full day here and picked up some postcards. Before I had managed to no more than start to utter gramatossima (stamps) the Cypriot lady asked, in perfectly good English, whether I would like stamps for them. I had been told by several friends that on Cyprus a majority of people spoke very good English, but I still went around expecting to find a lot of people who would rather speak Greek; not so, I found a lot of people who would tolerantly listen to my efforts and then answer in extrememly good English, a bonus, especially in those circumstances when my most basic grasp of the language faltered over concepts or future/past tenses (often).

We got to learn the streets armed with a map and basically walking them. Orientation started with the old port; this, like arriving by boat in Corfu, led to the tourist area. We found ourselves walking through the old part of the town frequently and this is how we got to know Cabellaros opposite the castle, the caf?/restaurant I have already written about. From there we turned a corner and found ourselves in Agiou Andreiou or St.Andrew Street, a long street that in it's first third, (measured from the old port end), contains many of the types of shops we found between Corfu's port and it's Liston building.

St.Andrew Street runs all the way to the municipal gardens and at the end furthest from the port it meets a sort of skewed crossroads, where the Starbucks, (I have written about in my previous post), exists. Just along past the right hand of Starbucks, as you face it, is the Municipal Gardens.

Note: if you pass by the left of Starbucks you can walk less than 500 metres and the last building on your left, before the road junction, (a roundabout with large fountain in the middle), is the biggest bookshop in Limassol - Kyriakkou Bookshop. The bookshop has a dark tinted door and three windows displaying some books. As you enter the foyer contains magazines, currently Greek on the right and English on the left, hence the need for a tinted door to protect the covers. Be warned, magazines and books in Cyprus are not cheap. You check out charity sales of second books by buying an English language Cypriot newspaper, Cyprus Mail (daily), Cyprus Weekly (every Friday) or Sunday Mail (the Cyprus Mail's sunday paper that comes with a magazine called Seven, that I found contained some interesting articles). They both have online editions. I may have created a bad link as far as previous references to the Mail goes, I can't really check until I get home and go online but the above links should be fine as I just read them from the actual newpapers.

The Municipal Gardens has a zoo in it, but I would not recommend it for a visit, from the little I have seen from the park. On the whole I wouldn't recommend zoos.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Big correction on Starbucks hotspots in corfu

I need to correct an earlier post of mine.

Regarding Starbucks above the Municipal Gardens and Zoo in Limassol.

When I visited this Starbucks I saw signals from a range of wifi sites but could not connect to one and get a splash screen. Later I posted about a piece I saw in the Cyprus Mail giving wifi hotspots across Cyprus; it said you could access the internet in Starbucks across Cyprus with a card that costs ?7 (Cypriot pounds) for 24 hours.

I failed to pick up on this until I revisited the above mentioned Starbucks today. I asked whille I was there and was told that there was also a card that gave 2 hours connection for ?3 (Cypriot pounds). Once I had the card, which is from Logosnet Technologies and comes sealed in a plastic wallet, I scratched off the back which gave the user password, the username was displayed above it.

There is an explanatory leaflet, in Greek and English, that comes with the card; it sets out what needs to be done to connect to the hotspot e.g. having your browser set to accept "Active Scripting". I connected with my Axim and did not have any way of turning this on.

Initially my browser rejected the connection when I tried to connect to a website, expecting to be taken to a splash screen. I then put in www.forthnet.com as a website to visit and this took me to a splash screen for connecting, (I had already told the Axim to connect to the Forthnet signal that I saw). Because Opera had not suceeded in connecting I went through Internet Explorer but, when I tested it later, Opera could also get the splash screen and accept the login.

Connection strength from where we sat, the pillar nearest to the toilets, was five out of five bars on the Axim Today screen and -50 on it's wifi configuration screen. I walked up to the beverage collection point from my seat and the average signal strength was -50 which is very good for a public hotspot, (I've not seen full strength in the UK). Also, I was able to download a photowalking video by Scoble of Thomas Hawk 48Mb without any sign of throttling, unlike the UK.

Reflections on Cyprus Part 1

We came not knowing what we would find, a new experience for us.

Our first site of the island, when we looked out of the plane window, was of a barren spread of land; oh, this will improve we thought, once we're nearer the sea. As we approached the sea we saw the salt plain outside of Larnacca, maybe it would take longer to get to the green part; we ran out of island before this.

As we landed we could almost feel the heat pulsing against the side of the plane. Before they had opened the doors we knew it would be hot, like the time we landed in Athens and they opened the doors, letting in the tail-end of a heatwave.

There was a breeze when the doors opened and this tempered any feelings of heat, plus we were focused on getting to the arrivals hall and spotting our friends. Once we get to baggage reclaim, we would start scanning for a glimpse of our friends. This time we found that you cannot see the people waiting, reps and residents, one sort with little signs held at a height to indicate their level of self esteem; the other with just expectant looks, straining to turn into a smile.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Cyprus Mail

I neglected to include them before but, in recognition of the news source regarding wifi hotspots:

Cyprus Mail website: www.cyprus-mail.com

Email: mail@cyprus-mail.com

Cyprus Wifi Hotspot availability update

I was just sitting, flicking through a copy of today's (Wednesday) Cyprus Mail when I found a couple of technology related pages.

The thing that caught my eye was a corner of the right hand page entitled Wifi Hotspots.

Here are listed a bunch of hotspots quite a few I had not found out about when searching the internet.

With a nod to the Cyprus Mail's WELL wired section I present below the news on hotpsots known in southern Cyrpus.

Centrum Hotel, Pasiktratous 15, Nicosia - FREE
Mondo Caf?, Nicosia - FREE
Le Caf?, Nicosia - NOT KNOWN
Da Capo, Nicosia - FREE
Costa Coffee, Nicosia - FREE
The Flamingo Beach Hotel, Larnaca - FREE
Segafredo Zanetti, Expresso Bar, Paphos - FREE
Chesters bar, Amathoundas Avenue, Limassol - FREE
The Press Lounge Caf?, Nicosia - NOT KNOWN
Starbucks, Island Wide - ?7 24-hour card
Woodstock Pub, Episkopi village, Limassol - FREE
Lounda Hotel, Limassol - ?10 24-hour card
Rocket Diner, Nicosia - FREE
Amathus Hotel, Limassol - FREE

Well, there they are. We passed through Episkopi when visiting Kouriou (or Curium as I've seen it written inguide books). I thought the village looked quite nice but like it even more now. I know the above says Starbucks island wide and eventually I found that there is wifi available at the Starbucks on the road junction just above the Municipal Gardens and Zoo, but I had to buy a card with a set amount of time on it.

The delights of shopping

I know that I am not an fully developed shopaholic. From the way my eyes gloss over when Cathy gets first go at buying something I surmise that my shop-till-I-drop gene is not fully formed, which is better than the careful-with-money one that never even developed.

So there we were wandering around Marks and Spencers in Limassol, very colourful store and worth a visit, if only for the view of the Troodos Mountains from it's coffee shop and air conditioning on a hot day (any day say between April and November for instance); for some reason I couldn't even summon up interest in the lingerie section. Leaving there we strolled back down the main road M & S sort of branch off and came across the Kyriakou Bookstore (or some similar name - apologies to the store). Yet again I found I could not summon the interest to go in, even after glancing through the dark tinted glass of the outer door and seeing loads of magazines, including ones such as the informative Amerian PC Magazine.

A very strange day, I can't say that I am particularly out of sorts, I certainly don't feel unwell. So why the complete apathy? It's an unusual feeling for me, I'll have to keep my eye on it.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Advice on when NOT to use MemMaid

I was doing a quick backup of the SD card in Cathy's Nikon P2 point and shoot, as unfortunately it's wifi connectivity doesn't talk to wifi on this Axim x51v.

While the backup SD card was in the Axim I found things running slowly so ran MemMaid to try to clear it up. What I hadn't taken into account was the fact that the card with Egress stored on it was out of the Axim and MemMaid identified the links to it as therefore dead and removed them.

Egress works if I use File Explorer to locate the executable but it does not appear in the program list. I now have to remind myself, i.e. hunt around in folders on the Axim, how to add a shortcut so it will again be recognised as a program; I feel certain that there is a way to do this.

Balancing the books internet in Cyprus and Chesters addendum

I feel I should write to be fair to Cyprus. I have been going on what I had read, that there isn't broadband access but ISDN, a handful of hotspots and dialup. I saw, yesterday, a sign that said ADSL internet at a cybercafe on the way west out of Limassol. I should have tested the connection speed perhaps, while on the hotspot but I used all my time downloading my RSS feeds.

We sat a table further out from the right hand doors, as you face the bar, not a good idea. We had a direct view into the bar and were maybe an extra 6 feet from the doors but there was no signal.
I got a signal called Raphael, which was from a hotel a good 500+ metres from the bar, coming in at 2 out of 5 bars in strength, but it did not allow connection - it's the competing signal I mentioned in the previous Chesters Bar post.

I went inside at one point and connected immediately but lost the signal as soon as I went out and sat down, I got the same result on 3 occasions. The only way I could then get a connection was for us to move indoors after lunch and have a couple of pineapple juices in there.

This lack of connectivity severely ate into the amount of time that I was connected today. Previously I was connected all through lunch, a good 1.5 hours extra. Be warned sit close to or inside the doors for full connectivity and the left hand doors definitely give access just outside, next to the flat screen order terminal.

I also noticed inside other hi-tech touches, as well as the flat screen order/till points there was a ceiling mounted data projector and recessed screen, also several flat screen televisions, (though none were playing while we were there, just some piped pop music).

Why no pictures?

I have been asked why I have not included any pictures on the blog from Cyprus. Currently I have three options, dialup, GPRS or hotspot, non of which make it simple. Even the seemingly easiest option, that of wifi is complicated. I have written that connecting was straight forward and it is, I grabbed RSS feeds and emails earlier today, but there are dropped connections and possible throttling issues enough that I did not want to try uploading to Zooomr. I am spending time with Cathy and our friends, whose home they are generously sharing with us, so there is little editing time - yes, I've been lazy and taken all photos at 5M pixels (I do not want to find that I forgot to take it back up only after the fact). I will up load photos and link in smaller sizes when we get back in a the next couple of weeks.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Chesters Bar

[This is an entry about Chesters Bar. See the last 5 paragraphs for the geeky bit].

We were warned that nit was a bit of a trek from near the Four Seasons on the outskirts of Limassol to Chesters but the lure was too great. On the way there is an archaeological site that we could visit on the way back, or so we thought.

On catching the bus, no hire car for us (more on that again), I managed to ask the driver for a probably fictitious location, "Do you stop near George's?" Don't ask me where I got the name George's from, I have no idea. We finally settled on the archaeological site just a kilometre or so down the road. I knew that we were heading in the right direction and surmised that we could walk the rest of the way from there.

I will talk more of the site in another post. Having looked around we headed up the road slightly until we could cross and join the paved walkway that runs for kilometres along the the beach. The walk was long, maybe another kilometre and a half before we arrived at a shopping area.

At one point the path, having diverged gradually from the road by several hundred metres, ran out and we began to walk along the beach; slightly worrying was the lack of any sign of a path back to the road. Turning the corner of a bunch of bushes we came across a wide dusty track, between two developments, that enabled us to move back to the road. After another couple hundred metres we came across a shop, where we bought water and I again asked for fictitious directions. More confusingly this time the lady said she thought she knew of a George's and that it lay in totally the opposite end of Lemesos. I explained that the address for the place was 194 Amthousa Avenue. Ah, she said, this was Lordou Amathus and not the address I said. It was at this point that I remembered I had a note of the telephone number of the place we wanted. I could see a very prominent Irish pub opposite where we were and so I called the place and decided to quote this as the landmark nearest us. The moment the phone call was answered and the person said "Hello Chesters I realised that I had been asking for the wrong place. A couple of simple and swift directions, "carry on past the Irish pub on our left, past the traffic lights and it's on the left hand side of the road", was all it took.

A quick way to spot Chesters is to look out for the Hawaii Beach Hotel, it's opposite this 5 star hotel.

First impression of Chester's is it's wood and canvas pagoda like frontage, that shades a bunch of tables. It's quite spacious, both inside and out, which allows the tables to be spread out. The staff were friendly and prices reasonable. The menu is extensive, and available on line Chesters Bar.

Now for the geeky bit, they have FREE wifi. One of only 3 locations in the whole of Cyprus that are free. This avoids complications such as with roaming agreements, for example not all BTOpenzone accounts offer roaming abroad, consequently leaving one open to charges on top of what one already pays for access at home.

Connection was simple, my Axim recognised the Chesters SSID immediately, though there was a competing signal (that won't allow access), I forget it's name and my device only stores the successful connections. The signal is quoted as 802.11g when googled but it stepped down to this Pocket PC's 80211b, as I suspected/hoped it would.

I was able to check my emails and update Egress my RSS reader and enclosure grabber. The only difficulty came on a number of occassions when the signal dropped. I was sitting at a table just outside the left hand door, as you look at the front of Chesters from it's car park. From here the signal strength was four out of five bars on the strength indicator of Hitchhiker. [I find Hitchhiker a useful programme to locate available hotspots (legitimate ones of course), determine their accessibility and connect if possible].

I did wonder if the signal loss was a from people passing the router or a form of throttling. Not having used a connection for 5 days I have quite a few feeds on Egress that needed updating, say 300, each of which can hold up to 75 threads. Also, when I tried to download any podcasts I only kept the signal when concentrating on one at a time. In the end I only managed to download TWIT via Opera. I didn't want to seem a bandwidth hog and abuse what is a generous gesture, so I dropped the idea of grabbing any other podcasts. Getting full emails for those I was interested in, from the couple of k per email I currently download, plus updating my RSS feeds was enough for me.

We had a full blown meal there plus drinks, so I think I recompensed my hosts for their generous hotspot gesture. [We had the Lebanese Meze and, not knowing how filling that was, ordered a Greek salad (horiatiki) to go with it. The food was delicious and would have us going back even without the prospect of the hotspot].

All in all a marvellous trip out, for mind and body.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Starbucking around the universe

For anyone reading this because of the Starbucks reference, the Starbucks at the road junction at the top of the Municipal Gardens does NOT have wifi that this 802.11b Axim can associate with. You can see a Forthnet signal but but connect. There seem to be a number of businesses ground here work locked wifi but by public hotspots.

We caught the bus into Lemesos (Limassol to you), a relatively sedate activity compared to Corfu. Not only was the bus into town relatively uncrowded but the driver opened his just shut door for some latecomers. Things became a little more familiar when someone foreig(German from his accent) tried to use a very large denomination note (more than ?20); needless to say, the driver won the debate.

Finding something to eat was a bit of a trek. Before we had reached an excellent place for a break we had a long trek; it was so far that Cathy had begun to get neck ache from her pouch-to-rucksack backpack. Eventually, by obstinacy/perseverance paid off.

We reached the junction of Anexartisias and Gladstonos and, just west on Gladstonos, we found a xacheoplastorio (not the right spelling I know) called Petit Paris. OK the name isn`t very Cypriot/Greek but one look at it shouted tradition. We went straight in and looked at the desserts on offer, to my delight Galactoborecko was in the first cabinet I looked in.

After a few moments a little chap came out and, amazingly, allowed me to confer in my approximation of Greek. We agreed on two portions of that heavenly dessert. When it came, it was accompanied with the traditional glass of water. In the corner, near one of the entrances, was a small drinks fridge but by other didn of refreshments. I asked if there was any chance of some frappes. Of course the gentleman replied with a very warm smile. While he went in to the back, to make the drinks, another chap came out; he had to bt a brother. Between them we were made most welcome. It was an excellent stop and very refreshing.

From my kitchen to yours...

...nothing but delicious flavours.

I always take a turn as cook when we come out to the Med. The last few years I have grown a little book of easy recipes, you know the sort, short on steps and long on taste. The recipes have come from a range of sources, as I had never found one book that had the range I was looking for.

You've guessed it, I've now found a book; well, two actually, (yes, just like buses you wait ages for one then two come along at once).

First off is the one that we have already cooked from, BBC GoodFood Magazine's 101 One-Pot Dishes (BBC Books ISBN: 0 563 52291 7). I have read one pot books before but this one stands out. I wondered at first if it was the colour photos that lie on the page opposite each recipe or maybe the inconvenience of a book that I can stick in my pocket when going ingredient shopping. [That is the hardest part of cooking for me, getting organised enough to go out and shop ahead for recipes].

After cooking some of the recipes, such as Speedy Salmon and Leeks, which involves salmon cooked on a bed of leeks and tomatoes in a olive oil, mustard, honey and lemon sauce, I knew it was the food that made the book a winner. Each of the things we cooked took a maximum of 4 steps and was ready well in the time stated for the dish; in our case we chose partly according to the time factor, so that we could eat soon after getting home from work.

The second book we have only skimmed through and not cooked from yet. This book was a find as Cathy got it free with She magazine this month, bought ostensibly as airport/plane reading. Real Fast Food (Penguin Books ISBN-10: 978-0-141-02980-1 ISBN-10: 0-141-02980-3) is a book by Nigel Slater, a well known food writer/critic in the UK. Funnily enough, we were properly introduced to his work via his book Toast a couple of years back, while staying with the same friends as now only on a different, Greek island. Toast is a book of reminiscences of his life seem through his experiences with food, being of a similar age it was quite a nostalgia trip for us.

Again the recipes are simple but with a couple of pages of reflection at the start of each section e.g. on Pasta or Fish, or on a particular ingredient e.g. Trout. The style is informative while keeping the recipes clear so that one can get on and cook without having to weed out the author's impressions from within the cooking instructions.

I thoroughly recommend these books to the house.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Early impressions

We had a very relaxing trip out no real hassles, which is unusual for me. (Excel let us check our cases in the day before so we only had to turn up the next day and head straight through security).

The only hitch was when I used a machine to get return tickets from hotel to airport and ended up with a ticket that was for a child and 4 times the amount a child would pay! It took the hotel staff to get the coach driver to concede and let us on board.

Gatwick airport was good, wifi connection was of a good strength so I had plenty to amuse me on the 'net while cathy tried to doze.

Our friends' apartment is spacious and has a view of the sea. We can't help making comparisons with Corfu and the main differences so far are: the barreness of the island, the wide and well maintained roads, left hand driving, the lack of horn wielding/irate Greek drivers and the amount of 'English' goods in the many supermarkets.

Tonight we seek the refuge of the familiar and head for a souvlakia shop to feast on kebabs. I made the joke that I was happy eating anywhere as long as we didn't have to go to a fish and chip or sunday roast establishment; our friends told us that there was a very good fish and chip shop further in to the city and that roast meals were readily available! (Aaaaaggghhhhhh. Exit Phil running, stage left).

It's good to be back and catch up with our friends. It always seems like more than the time apart since we've seen them but then like we've never been separated once we are with them again.

Other pluses while I think of them include, few mosquitoes or insecty things to invade one's room, some good snorlkelling to be had and the possibility of having a tour of the Troodos mountains in a landrover (buses are infrequent and do not tour).

Odd minuses include a lack of broadband (but Corfu didn't have much of that either), some distance to wifi locations (though Chester's bar (with possible free wifi) and a lack of specific bus stations (different companies have different stations in Lemesos).

Morning in Cyprus

We were warned that Sunday night was the local Elvis karaoke night at a nearby hotel. 'That's OK', thought I, 'we'll get off to sleep before it kicks off and it'll just be like a background lull anyway'.

What any of us hadn't been prepared for was the wedding that had occurred earlier in the day. While siitting in the lounge we had heard a load of car horns and, when we looked, saw many cars passing in the distance with their hazard warning lights flashing. It turns out that this was a wedding party. 'A nice way of seeing the couple off on their honeymoon' thinks I.

We had reached the point of drifting into sleep, where sounds blur and begin to recede into the distance; (even the nhigh pitched whine of some form of alarm, somewhere in the far distance. No louder than the whine of a mosquito in the room but of far less consequence.

Out of nowhere the bombardment began. 10 more minutes and I might have started dreaming about living during the blitz. Even louder than the roof tilke shaking thounder of Corfu in lkate summer, the apartment echoed to the bone rattling bangs of a massive fireworks display. I reckon now that these were related to the wedding party that had passed by earlier in the evening. A different interpretation of the term - start your honeymoon off with a bang.

Eventually, we ended up in the company of Mr Sandman for the next 9 hours, with the aid of handmade tissue earbungs, (crafted in the darkness of our room, they were to roughly made to merit the moniker earplug.

This morning we awoke to a warmer room than accustomed to in early September in Corfu. If our previous Greek experiences are a good measure of the weather we enjoy October is the earliest part of Cypriot summer we will want to experience.


Sunday, October 01, 2006

Tips for travellers via Gatwick

First off, I would definately book a stay and park based in how straightforward it was. More than that, I whole heartedly recommend flying with an airline that allows checking in the day before. We found it to be the most relaxing preparation for a trip we`ve ever had.

We stayed at the Holiday finding it to be both efficient and comfortable. The staff were professional in that way that suggests nothing of too much trouble,by matter how foolish the guest. The bed was so soft, it felt like a water bed filled work the breath of angels instead of H2O. I only have two caveats. Firstly, rooms only had a wired fast internet connection, one would have to visit a ground floor lounge or bar area to get propriety wifi, if I`ve got to pay more got it I want it at my convenience. Secondly, the literature in the room advised buying one`a ticket from the machine in the lobby and to buy a return. We assumed, (never a good idea), that it meant tickets were not sold onboard the bus.

a case of being strong

I had a worrying phone call recently, out friends have a smaller car and can I bring a smaller case?

This might not seem such a big thing in the scheme of things, not to you maybe.

Well the case packing went frightenly well. Everything fitted and there was room to spare, which puzzling as it never did in the red shed of a case. I`m not packing as much maybe? Yet, when I think through my mindmap there isn`t anything I can think of that I`ve missed. Wierd.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Hello TenGo pc

I had heard of TenGo before but did not think that I had use for it... then I saw the video.

Aximsite had a link to a new release of the programme on it`s home page and I thought it might be worth a look.

I have been trying to improve my blog posting, especially when not able to use my Sierra BT keyboard.

I didn`t get on brilliantly with Calligrapher, maybe because I am so used to typing in a more restricted way on my Sony-Ericsson P910i; the programme works well enough but the screen on this Axim is just a little too small.

Apart from the trial text, this is the first typing I have done with it. I am feeling very happy with the look and feel of this.

Nearly time for Cathy to get home, so I`ll post this now.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Trackback has arrived

Thanks to Sumocat's posting I now have trackback on my site. Brilliant.

If I come up with something, that another kind soul sees fit to refer to, it'll be a morale boost. In photography, I have always had more pleasure from the recognition than the money and writing is the same.

Thank you Haloscan.

commenting and trackback have been added to this blog.

If I were a rich man

I got to thinking in an idle moment what I might do if I won the lottery.

I would like enough that both Cathy and I could give up work. What would we do with our time? Firstly, hang out with our parents. I always remember how, as a child, life revolved around my grandmother's kitchen. With my father and grandfather working out of there, the ice cream factory and vans being just outside, there were always comings and goings. I'd like to be able to call around to Mum and Dad's or Cathy's Dad's whenever we felt like it; hanging out, going for lunch, recording family history and visiting places.

Cathy and I are very lucky, we had a great childhood. At least one parent around all the time and parents with time to spend with us. I am not advocating that one parent shouldn't work, just that it worked well for us in the 1960s and 1970s.

We've also had the benefit of living close, very close in my case, to our parents. Already, so much more opportunity to spend time I realise.

Something else would be to catch up with friends both known and those that I have made via the Internet but never met. I was saying to my cousin, when over from Australia, that we got to visit them a few times when they first married and then they emigrated, (is it me?). Also there are people who have come over but we've only been able to spend a very shortwhile with. Some we visit and others are on the other side of the world and we haven't seen in so long.

There are places on my list from my younger self. New York and Shakespeare's garden, so loved by Helenne Hanff; Perachora near Corinth, written about by the late Dilys Powell, who was so kind to correspond with me; the site of a house that was being built in the 1970s show Petrocelli; the locations in Japan visited by the Englishman who was source for James Clavell's Shogun; the Great North Road in Japan, travelled by one of the most celebrated haiku poets Basho.; the final resting places of Humphrey Payne, husband to Dilys Powell, he died in the 1930s, and John Pendlebury, archeologist turned Greek resistance fighter in Crete; the site of James Rockford's caravan, just to see how much it's changed; some of the fountain pen makers in Firenze; these are just for starters.


Sunday, September 24, 2006

Oh for a Tardis now packing time is here

It's that time again, where the leaves begin to fall and our thoughts turn to warmer climes.

I have always had a problem with packing to go anywhere. My general outlook is upbeat but I do lean towards the boy scout mentality when it comes to going anywhere - be prepared. If it can be packed and and carried I'll take it.

The sight of me turning up to visit friends has always been a source of amusement. First they see this 6 foot column of pockets, followed by a huge red shed of a suitcase.

It is quite normal for me to be stopped on the way through security; if it isn't for the metal in my walking boots, it's because of all the wires that my gadgets require. Last year I took a laptop, minidisc player, mp3 player (or two-in case one failed) amongst other bits. What with data leads and charging leads I had quite a collection. Given the dimensions of my case, I'm surprised it's not to check for stowaways.

This year I am being squeezed on two counts. Firstly, the prevailing security has restricted the size of carry on luggage and, second, our friends have smaller cars. I am going to look on this as an opportunity, one that will force me out of my comfort zone as I move into an era of smaller cases.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Back on the train

I am once again getting to travel on the train, headed to our St Austell office.

I enjoy the chance to sit back and let someone else do the driving. It's a shame that we cannot get reasonable priced tickets to travel up the line very often. Since "rationalising" the pricing structure it seems much more expensive when travelling up the line,at least every time I look. I have hopes for December, as I cannot find a flight that competes in price or timings, despite Ryanair having one of it's major sales again.

The day is fair for travelling but is not slated to ciontinue to be so. apparentlky the West coast opf the UK is due to get the tail end of a hurricane tomorrow. While Scotland and Ireland will take the brun t it may well mean strong gusts and rain for the walk in or out of the office.

I have been watching out for the Al Gore film that has been released in the UK, though I don't know if I should given the worry current programming on global warming has caused me. I see people retired today who are living a fairly comfortable life in comparison to the level of skill in areas such as health compared to, say, the 1950s. What will the world be like in 30+ years time?

Having mentioned advances in what's available today, compared to the past I can't help thinking that simpler is sometimes better. I heard a programme on a BBC Radio 2 last night, it was about references to early in the nuclear age and how it related to the music/media of the day. There was a public information broadcast piece from the US of the 1950s featuring Groucho Marx. Groucho assurred viewers/listeners that there was a very good chance that they would survive a atomic bomb attack -provided the followed some simple precautions; the steps offered included keeping 3 days of food and water in a sealed container in the refridgerator, a torch and first aid kit. If onlty it would be as stra=ightforward for nuclear war or climate change.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Observations from the prom

The wind is whipping along from Newlyn, like a protest for the way it's Methodist Chapel missed out on the BBC Restoration Show prize.

There is a chill in it like plunging in to the sea for the first time come summer. Sitting in it for a while I can feel my body drawing heat from the intermittent sunshine.

My head's been muggy/fuzzy all morning, this wind is like a pipe cleaner between my ears - excellent.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Computer Shopper News

Lost laptops pile up at Heathrow
Increased security checks cause laptops losses to triple.

I wonder if they'll end up selling off any they don't reunite with owners after a period of time...though if I was affected I might not be so flippant I guess.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Papercraft food, flavoured ink and cooked with lasers

Now this is definitely somewhere I want to visit Moto restaurant Chicago.

Found on Boing Boing

Sunday, September 10, 2006

The promise of Storygrinder

The name is remiscent of those times when I have sat down and tried to "grind out" an article. Storygrinder is a piece of software by a chap called Stephenson; I must apologise as his full name escapes me for the moment - his site is http://homepage.mac.com - remembering names has always been a challenge for me but that's a tale for another time).

This current programme is for the Apple Mac but, as he has had a Pocket PC blogging tool in the past, I hold out hope that he might port it over at some point in the future. Not that I need additional blogging tools but I am an accumulator; when my interest is sparked, like a magpie, I go out and gather many bright shiny things that catch my eye. As a book collector, I am aided and abetted if that new thing comes in hard copy. I am finding, from my experiences with book reading on this Axim, virtual items also meet the collecting criteria.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

The beauties of a Cornish night

I went to put our car away the other night and paused.

There was a full moon that painted everywhere in silver. Without the distraction of colour everything stands out so clearly.

Our little cottage lies on a hill. Properties on the side nearest the sea lie below us, those on our opposite side above. The arrangement means that, with the wind coming off the sea and up the valley that old Porthleven lies in, we can hear the surf breaking on the beach shore. One of the properties above us has a thicket of mature bamboo; it is well developed and lush so that the same breeze swishes the heavy canopy to bring another beautiful sound. On the third and fourth sides, the houses are also slightly higher and this places us in a sort of bowl. The amphetheatre as it is shields us from traffic noise from the nearby road through the village and contributes to my being able to just stand and listen.

The longer I stand the more I can hear as some noises drop into the background and others appear, such as the call of seagulls unsettled somewhere in the village by perhaps a passing cat.

Moon free nights alter what I hear. The amphitheatre aspect means that a majority of street lights can be hidden behind buildings, excellent for star gazing. Whenever I look at the stars I get lost in thoughts of what is out there, whether we might find evidence of life [or even intelligent life down here]. If I concentrate, I can almost make out the opaque swirl of the milky way - amazing.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Windows Mobile 5 workplace

I saw a piece on Jason Langridge's site that holds out promise from a business point of view: LIVEPVR for Windows Mobile 5.

To be able to record the main points in a meeting, rather than eat up storage, is an excellent idea.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Just when I had got the hang of the buses

It's not rocket science and I probably shouldn't have taken the summer to get into a routine, but I did.

I got on the bus this morning, after a couple of days leave, knowing that I could doze my way to the bus station. First sign of things being different was the bus not detouring through the village where I once had my dream job.

I put it down to being a new driver, after all I had done this run 3 or 4 days per week for months; we had gone far past the turning by the time I reached this measured opinion. It wasn't enough to worry me, after all it was 14+ years late if I was going there.

Off I went into a doze, my prime derence against the now distant threat of travel sickness; (if you have had to suffer travel sickness, every time you went for a weekly car outing, at the age of 10 you'll know how strong the dread could be).

I woke up suddenly, stirred by what felt to be a explosive cold sweat. One minute nothing and the next I'm swimming up Perspiration River. My stomach was churning. On top of feeling rough

Saturday, September 02, 2006

I love paperplanes

I saw this on Digg, one of those "why couldn't I have thought of that" corkers. Paperplane business card

Greece nets a big win

USA loses in a huge upset to Greece in the semifinals, 101-95
01/09/06 15:18
In a shocking turn of events, team USA basketball loses to Greece in the World Basketball Championships in Japan.

This story is from Digg and reminds me of the European Cup (football/soccer).

I am not a serious gambler; the only time I have been in a betting shop and placed a bet was on the Grand National horse race and the race got cancelled. It was only after Greece got to the semi-final that I realised what odds they had started with - 100:1.

Being a Gredophile, I find myself leaning to supporting Greece in many things and, at 100:1, it would have been likely that I would have risked a pound or two. (Hindsight is a wonderful thing). I bet the odds were similarly tempting for Greece beating the US - go Greece.

Joy in the company of brighter people

Catching up on my RSS feed reading, I came across a piece on the Channel9 blog posted by Chewy about a programme called MSR Groupshot.

Rather than the article itself, it was the following sentence that chimed:

"I love my job!? One of the nicest part of it is? having accessing to a whole bunch of people smarter than me (I take comfort that I?m better looking)."?

This is particularly true of when I worked specifically for an On Track project. I came into contact with people involved in the cutting edge of education; the promotion of things such as mindmapping, neurolinguistic programming and the encouragement to step outside my comfort zone would leave my mind buzzing.

The actual Groupshot programme is interesting, useful when photographing children and situations such as weddings - maybe a candidate for MobileTechRoundup's freeware of the day?

Google helps with catching up on the classics

Google increases opportunities to access classic literature I came across this on the Google blog. I enjoy making full use of this Axim and this news should support this.

I've always felt I was in reading deficit when it came to classic literature.

Pirillo pushes the envelope

I believe that this is part of Chris Pirillo's success, he certainly likes to set the conversation going - I'd entitle the (work unsafe) photo link in his post Not yeti.

Apparently, just after this photo, Chris was approached by a monkey asking if he knew of any good welders. (Brit humour).

Clipping items in Egress

I wonder how well this clipped link works.

I will now have another phone to consider given that James and Kevin enjoy it James goes for a new phone.

It turns out that copying the url to the clipboard and then inserting it into diarist works better than using Hubdog. Why do I jump around grabbing so many different programmes when I already have the answers?

2 - Wi-Fire extends wireless range to 1,000 feet


Filed under: ,

A new Pennsylvania-based startup, hField Technologies, has just gotten FCC approval for their new supercharged WiFi antenna, the Wi-Fire. The USB antenna boosts reception of faint WiFi signals, extending the range of existing networks up to 1,000 feet. hField's founders, recent Lehigh University graduates, had originally built the product for a student entrepeneurial challenge, and won first place, including the prize of $2,500. Earlier this summer, hField also recieved $25,000 of funding from a state-funded development organization, and the rest, as they say, is history (waiting to happen). The Wi-Fire is now on sale through hField directly for $150, though unfortunately without Mac support for now, it seems -- although if you have a Windows computer, it's guaranteed to put as big of a smile on your face as this girl's, though not nearly as big as these dudes'.
Read | Permalink | Email this | Linking Blogs | Comments




Comments added: This is another attempt to use the comment feature in Hubdog (www.hubdog.com).


One problem I noticed is that the comment window doesn't scroll so after a ccuple of sentences you can't see what you're writing.

This wifi extender has a lot of promise, I wonder how well it works through thick walls?

Posted by a Windows Mobile Device from channel :
Engadget

www.Hubdog.com

The Tremenheere (Pub), Penzance

Well, I decided to take a break from shopping on my day off and popped in for a drink; a good move as this cranberry J2O is hitting the spot.

I thought I would check the wifi while I was here. Unfortunately, while I can see the network myCloud, I cannot seem to connect. Hitchhiker reports a cycling through - finding the network, renewing the IP and redirecting but when I fire up the browser it doesn't go anywhere. Normally I would find my browser taken to a login page, from where I would login in using the details for my hotspot account. Most frustrating.

I'll post this when home.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Hubdog test

Before anyone shouts the previous post was by Robert Scoble) I was trying to use the Hubdog Blog It tool to clip and add comments

2 - How do you keep your stuff private on WiFi networks?


I was talking with a geek who’ll remain unnamed and he was telling me how easy it is for someone to sit at a Starbucks, slurp off the local WiFi, and recreate almost everything you do, often gaining passwords and private conversations. I saw this once at a conference where someone up on stage was showing the audience everything that was going over the WiFi networks. For instance, did you know that if you’re using many common Instant Messengers that those send your information over WiFi in plain text? I could be sitting next to you watching EVERYTHING you are typing across the Internet.


So, what do you do to keep your stuff confidential? Any tips beyond this excellent article in Security Focus on this topic? By the way, both this article and my geek friend recommended Off-the-Record Messenging if you want to hold private IM conversations over public WiFi networks.


One other problem is if you’re using a common computer, say one that a family might own, and you want to keep the other people in the family from seeing the sites and things you’re surfing to. Browzar is a new browser that keeps all that stuff to itself.





Comments added:

Posted by a Windows Mobile Device from channel :
Scobleizer - Microsoft Geek Blogger

www.Hubdog.com

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Florence

I see in Saturday's Guardian they ran the Readers' Guide to Florence.

Some of the highlights include: the top 4 places to see - Fra Angelico's Annunciation (Convent, scene to much of Florence's history); Cappella Brancacci; San Miniato, it's graveyard plus the view of Florence; San Lorenzo - the old sacristy and Brunelleschi's interior.

I have for a number of years wanted to visit Firenze. The first trigger was my love of fountain pens that reached a peak a couple of years back. There are fountain pen makers who work independantly, making pens in small one or two man workshops. We even know someone with a relation who runs a guest house out there, the only off putting thing is that we have been told that it is expensive. From the prices quited in the paper for restaurants I can see that but something keeps nagging the back of my mind that it's as expensive as you want to make it. Some careful research, a few packed lunches and I am sure a 3 or 4 day trip could be feasible.

From photographs it is certainly a beautiful place.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Juggling at Dartington Cider Press

The humble blackberry

Rubus fruticosus, a modest wild growing fruit found across the UK, my favourite fruit; though the banana runs it a close second.

My father-in-law manages to grow delicious tasting thornless blackberries. When I planted a cutting it seemed to dwindle away, replaced naturally with a wild thorned one.

I read in a newspaper today, in ancient Greece they were used to treat ailmen5s such as gout, inflamation of the bowel, diarrhoea, whooping cough and sore throats; it also said that the pectin in them helps with arthritis and rheumatism. I have also heard that they are eschewed in Greece these days as, for the older generations, they are associated with severe shortates of food due to wartime occupation.

For my haiku writing I use the nom-de-plume Blackberry.

Dartington Hall Cider Press

Having a day at the Cider press I came across an entertainer along the lines of Richard Vobes. No not a Podcaster but a juggler with a wicked line in juggling, tricks involving great dexterity and patter.

It was the most entertaining 10 minutes I have had in a while, what with Cathy in agonies with her bad back. She is getting better but standing for move than a few minutes soon brings discomfort.

This is a very smart tourist attraction, no screaming children being the first thing I've retistered, even though this is a bank holiday.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006





Here are a few samples of the fine day we had recently at the Eden Project. Unfortunately my Axim froze mid post so I haven't written up our trip. The main points were: pick a sunny day when most people are on the beach, (we found a Sunday to be good), pick a day with little wind (movement spoilt most of my outdoors shots), the fruit smoothie was especially refreshing after the tropical dome, (though a large one at £2.50 isn't cheap) and don't miss the Core building - I liked the educational bits and the mechanical hands on exhibit can be good for tiring children.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Things that annoy Part 2

This could become a series.

Working most of my lunch to cover the hour I had to leave early for my osteopath; then, as I leave work, remembering I came in an hour early anyway.

Power walking to get to the train with 10 minutes in which to buy a ticket; finding the queue 5 deep with 2 more being served and seemingly planning around the world train journeys.

I don't ask for much. I have caugfht the train and am waiting to find out if I can use my rail card or have to pay over the odds. There is this rule these days that means one has to pay full price when boarding the train without a ticket, unless a station hasn't ticket sales avaiable; my justification is that it was obviously a longer than 10 minute queue that I was in and I could have got a ticket but would have missed the train.

Yes! I am allowed to use my railcard - yippee. In my book one good thing can outweigh two bad, so I am evens stevens at this moment. This train should get me in good time.

There is some noise on this train, almost like something grating against the rail or wheel, it's mildly annoying but much less so than the train stopping well short of Truro. Further up the carriage people are complaining toi the guard, she is polite and explains that an engineer will be awaiting the train in Truro to try to sort the issue. She clearly stated that the noise is not a safety issue, that the brakes are working and we would not be travelling if it was not deemed safe to do so. Still the people complain, why can't we have another train and why is it so busy at the moment anyway, it isn't usually. One, this traiun company is known to use all of it's trains and not have anything of note in reserve, that all the trains are in use was again explained in a clear and polite manner; as to the business of the trains it is the holiday season, the roads are busier, as are the streets and tourist attractions. As long as one has a seat why complain? Small train companies such as this need the numbers to make it viable to run services in the Spring, Autumn and Winter, but the people who are moaning would not think oif these things. I would not want to be the guard, they annoy me and I am only a bystander.

We are debating about whether to catch a film after visiting the osteopath, I am feeling very tired; I am hoping we could go another night. It is a film Cathy has been hoping to see and this is the last cinema to show it locally. It is not the plushest of cinemas, I am not keen going and leaving kit in the car where it is - fingers crossed.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

How to upset me

If you ever want to upset me then get me to do some DIY.

It has been something of a national obsession that peaked in the run up to and for a year or two after the millenium. There have been a whole host of television programmes on the subject of doing your house up and this spilled over into garden makeover shows. The good part of them is that they were a whole category of viewing that I didn't even have to think about watching or recording.

I went through the house renovating phase, in the build up to getting married at the end of the eighties. I didn't like it then and I like it even less now. It's not simply a matter of maculine pride, I am the first to admit that I have very poor wallpaper to paste skills, when it came to decorating dexterity I definitely rolled a 1 in a 100 and rerolled a second 1 in 100. Or being a warped individual in so many ways perhaps I have a superpower, the abiltiy to warp space at the precise moment I don't want it warped. I can take all the care possible in lining up sheets of paper and at the last moment, when I am committed, things shift by the smallest amount needed to make it clearly visible to the most casual of inspections. It doesn't matter if it is tiling, papering or carpet laying and even painting has it's problems.

Left to myself our cottage would have remained in an unfinished state until well after we married and moved in; it was through the help of friends, Marc in particular, that things not only took shape but were finished.

Why write about a topic that causes me to grit my teeth at the mere thought of it? This weekend I was forced to face a leaking overflow pipe on my water tank.

Knowing my limitations 15 or more years ago, I had employed an occasional plumber, (he worked when he needed the money), to sort out the plumbing when we had our kitchen and bathroom redecorated. Here comes a tip for anyone in a similar position, specify that you want things easily accessible for any future maintenance! To my horror, once I got into and across the roof space, the tank is 6 feet from a beam that doesn't have water pipes running along it; the two nearest beams have hot and cold pipes running across the top of the beam i.e. where I need to place my hands/feet when trying to get to the water tank without rupturing something - particularly of me. As it is, with only the sloping slate roof of a single storey kitchen, I can barely move and then only while crouching. After starting out, it's a few hours before I am actually ready to reach in to the tank andvremove the ballcock mechanism. Because of where the water tank is sited, I must lean forward as far as I can only feel and not see into the tank. At last I am ready to grip the split pin, squeeze and remove it; once done I can then get the bqrrel mechnism out, rub it down with sandpaper and put it all back, so it shuts the water off before it starts going out the overflow. It's not sunny out but, so hot in that little space, I am pouring in sweat, my hands are slippery, my muscles streched tight and eyes stinging; it'll be all worthwhile once I have finished. I reach in, squeeze the handle of the mole grips, only to find that one side of the split pin had snapped off at some point! Aaaaaaaggggghhhhhh!

I hate DIY.

I admitted defeat, worked my way out of the ceiling and am now looking for the name of a good plumber, (the one who fitted my stuff has passed away). If you want visual proof of how upset I was

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