Friday 31st December 2010 15:19
Seems strange to think that it's the last day of the year, in fact, it's the last day of the decade as well. Ten years ago, it was the turn of the millennium and a lot has gone on in my life since then. Gone are the days of me getting totally wrecked on New Year's Eve though, I'd sooner stay in and watch television… after 11pm that is, anything before that time is utter rubbish.
Earlier in the day, Tanya and I went for quite a long walk, despite her being full of a cold (I feel awful because I've not really been in the same room as her at home, for fear of catching it). Nobody enjoys being ill, especially during Christmas and New Year, and I have every intention of avoiding it, if I can. Not only that, if I were to catch it, it would develop into Man Flu and we wouldn't want that, would we?
Anyway, I'm rambling again… back to the walk (Did you realise your pun there? Quite funny - Ed)
Stansted House sits on the Hampshire-Sussex border and has extensive grounds that you can walk around. It really is a huge estate and today we discovered a large area of it that we'd never set foot on before. When you consider that the Grade II listed Edwardian country house is set in 1750 acres of parkland that includes both woodland and open areas grazed by deer, it suddenly doesn't come as much of a surprise that much of it is undiscovered by us. As a matter of interest, the park is crossed from east to west by the 615-mile Monarch's Way long distance footpath.
To find out more about Monarch's Way, the second-longest signed walking trail in England, please click on the Ramblers logo above.
Once home, we chilled out until the 19th 'Hootenanny', hosted by Jools Holland came on at 23:00 on BBC2. It's a great show and this year's guests included Kylie Minogue (still sexy as hell), Roger Daltrey, Alison Moyet (when did she become slim?!), Plan B, Secret Sisters and Vampire Weekend and the fantastic Bellowhead, as well as a whole host of others.
To watch the entire show, please click on the Hootenanny clock face above.
Thursday 30th December 2010 13:21
Tanya had the inspired idea of going to Stonehenge today. It was triggered by us watching a fascinating programme the other night all about the Outer Hebrides which included a visit to the Callanish Standing Stones. At first, I thought it was a barking mad idea but then I started thinking about some of the photographs we might take and I got all excited about going. Abbi and James decided to join us, which was great, since we'd hardly seen them whilst being off.
It's strange, because I actually thought Stonehenge was some distance away from us, yet it's just under 65 miles away, clocking a journey time of just over an hour… well, that was the plan. Sure enough, with only a matter of miles to go, we hit a huge queue which took us about 40 minutes to plough through. What annoys me even more is when you see signs stating, 'Queues Likely'. Now then, don't get me wrong, but isn't a queue 'likely' anywhere? If you're in a queue and you see a sign saying, 'queues likely', does it automatically make you feel comforted, knowing that someone has taken the time to let you know? No, it doesn't. It just makes you want to get out of your car, kick the crap out of the sign and then find the person who erected it and ram it up their arse, shouting, "That's for taking the fucking piss, you twat." It's satirical violence by the way, just in case you think I may need a trip to some Anger Management classes...
Anyway, on a calming note, we finally arrived and parked up. Luckily, Stonehenge has been granted permission to upgrade its whole site, taking out a couple of roads, making them fields again, demolishing the old payment area, turnstiles and shop, relocating them further away, giving visitors the benefits of the local area. Why have I told you that? Well, considering it's a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the amenities are diabolically bad, especially the car park. I'm unaware of the actual number of tourists who visit Stonehenge each year, but judging by the amount who were there today, it's absolutely criminal having such a pathetically small car park.
If you're planning to visit in the not too distant future, please be aware that it's £6.90 for one adult, although you can buy family tickets that obviously have concessionary rates. Still, it's a lot of money to see some stones that you can't even walk right up to any more. On the other hand, this cautiousness may mean that future generations will benefit, so I think I'll position myself on a fence somewhere.
I have to say, once you're just feet away from the ancient stones, you really start to appreciate why it's of World Heritage status, especially as it's been estimated that the site dates back to 3100 BC. There are three types of stone used within the structure, Bluestone, Sarson and Welsh Sandstone which possibly points to the fact that it was constructed in three phases, accumulating a colossal estimate of thirty million hours of labour. It has been speculated that it was built for either human sacrifice or Lunar and Solar worship. Either way, they are awesome, and although I did visit the site over 25 years ago, it didn't have the same significance back then as it did today.
Please click on the UNESCO World Heritage logos to find out more about the English Heritage-owned spectacle.
So, once we'd had our fill of ancient history, we drove in Salisbury itself, several miles south of the Stonehenge site. We'd all hoped (seriously, we had) that many of the shops would be open but because of 'queues likely-gate', this wasn't to be. Instead, we were all absolutely ravenous and needed to find somewhere to eat, fast, before we collapsed of hunger.
Despite the size of the city (which looks beautiful by the way), we only seemed to be able to find one restaurant, although I'm sure it was a case of us not being able to see the wood for the trees. Anyway, it was an Italian we found, so we were more than happy.
The name of the restaurant was 'Prezzo', and until doing internet research, none of us had realised that it has actually become quite a large chain of restaurants, spanning the length and breadth of the country, although their presence is far more concentrated in the south than anywhere else. Their first restaurant opened on New Oxford Street, London in November 2000 and, more often than not, they like to develop contemporary restaurants within historic buildings.
Their food was excellent and relatively good value for money, although one of the dishes we ordered seemed rather pricy taking into account what was on the plate, nevertheless, definitely somewhere to recommend.
To find out more, book a table or to find out their latest offer, please click on the Prezzo logo above.
Wednesday 29th December 2010 12:52
Since it was about the third foggy day on the trot, Tanya had suggested going for a drive somewhere… and we certainly did go for a drive. We started off by heading towards Rowlands Castle because Tanya was in need of some petrol before going anywhere.
The 'Shell' garage has to be one of the cheapest (and definitely the nearest) petrol stations around, discounting the price wars that many of the supermarket chains seem to constantly have. What's even more bizarre is that as a car owner, petrol and the price of it are a part of everyday life, yet I don't think I've ever discussed it on my blog.
Founded in 1907, Royal Dutch Shell plc is a global group of energy and petrochemicals companies with over 100,000 employees in more than 90 countries and territories worldwide. Not only is Shell a household name, it bears a logo that is iconic in many ways, one of which is the fact that it appears on many items of literature without the name of the company, a true sign of a logo that works.
To find out more about the company, please click on the logo below.
So, from Rowlands Castle we then drove towards Horndean, bypassing it by driving through parts of Blendworth and then doubling back to go to Chalton. From there, we drove to Idsworth, stopping off to take a few shots of the church before heading off towards Compton where I took my 365 of the day, just on the outskirts of the village. Rather than go to Compton, we took a left and made our way towards South Harting and decided to park up and walk to the Vandalian Tower… only access had been cut off so we'd ended up paying £2 for about ten minutes of parking. Bollocks.
Turning back in a southerly sort of direction, we bypassed the Mardens going through the village of Chilgrove where we then joined the road to West Dean, making our way to Goodwood from there. Even though we'd stopped a couple of times along the way, we felt we hadn't inflated our lungs enough, so we parked at the bottom of The Trundle and walked up. The Trundle (or St. Roche's Hill, as it's also known), is made up of a ditch, dyke and banks and stands at 675ft (206m) above sea level. It began life as a Neolithic settlement dating from before 400BC. and its main objective was to guard nearby Chichester Harbour. The Iron Age people later occupied the site and during the Middle Ages, a chapel stood here which was built for French Saint, St. Roch.
Tuesday 28th December 2010 10:43
Today we visited Chichester for the second day in succession and whilst there, we visited Waitrose, since I don't ever recall going in there to see what beers they sell. Turned out to be very worthwhile as there were three I hadn't tried before, 'Festivity' a 5.0% ABV seasonal ale by Bath Ales and then two by Hepworth Brewers & Co, 'Prospect' a 4.5% ABV organic ale and another seasonal, 'Classic Old Ale' a 4.8% ABV dark fruity beer. More about these in due course.
Once we'd finished in Chichester, we then went into Bosham and enjoyed a walk around the harbour before heading to the Anchor Bleu, one of only two pubs that are in the old part of the seaside village. The Anchor Bleu is the only one found within the actual village centre and is subject to the tidal swell, hence it having a foot-thick steel flood door at the rear of the pub.
Whilst here, we both enjoyed a sausage and caramelised onion sandwich, served with salad, followed by a gingerbread latte and a mince pie. As it's a free house, I scanned the pumps to see if there was anything new there and, to my delight, there was - 'Cornish Coaster' a very light 3.6% ABV pale ale by Sharps Brewery… very refreshing. As a matter of interest, also available was 'TEA' (Traditional English Ale) by Hogs Back Brewery, 'Fortyniner' by Ringwood, 'BOB' by Wickwar Brewery and 'Directors' by Courage; a fine selection by anyone's standards.
To find out more about either the pub or Sharps Brewery, please click on the image applicable.
As a matter of interest, an accompaniment with our lattes was one of those delicious Café Biscuits, you know the ones, only pubs seem to serve them, yet they don't seem to be available to the public… ah, you're with me now! Well, as sad as I am, I kept the wrapper and did the inevitable internet search. The biscuits are manufactured by quite a large company called Rombouts who, according to their website, have been 'passionate about coffee since 1896', so they're no strangers to the market.
You're able to purchase a 150g pack (a case of nine packs) of 25 individually wrapped caramelised biscuits with a hint of cinnamon for just £12.51, if you so wish. If you're not tempted, I don't give a monkeys, it's not as if I'm on commission (You sure? - Ed).
Please click on the logo above for more information about Rombouts.
Monday 27th December 2010 20:36
As I've said many times before, I've never been into games or gaming, maybe it's my age or maybe it's just the fact that they all fuck my nerves up. Nevertheless, there's a Facebook application called MindJolt and it literally has hundreds of games to choose from, and to play, all via Facebook.
Other than choose jokes as my status, I very rarely visit Facebook, however there's one particular MindJolt game called 'Cube Crasher' and I've become addicted to it. It's a simple game compared to 'Call of Duty' and suchlike, yet it's the sort of game I can easily cope with. It takes some skill working out how to 'dismantle' the cubes to gain the most points, yet within 24 hours, I'd accumulated a score of 54280, beating a good half of my friends who play it. Having said that though, when you weigh up that the all time high score on Facebook is 608860 points, I'm a long way off being a master.
Thanks to Marc Siegel for providing me with a high quality copy of the logo, please click on it to access hundreds of fun-filled games.
Later in the day, we sat down and watched a film premier on ITV1, 'March Of The Penguins'. This Oscar-winning film documentary was directed by Luc Jacquet and looks at the annual journey that Emperor Penguins make, as they march, single file, to their traditional breeding ground.
Morgan Freeman narrates throughout the film, describing the many perils they face, whether it be about the stamina they need to complete the 70-mile journey, the severely cold temperatures they have to endure or the handful of predators they have to face. It's absolutely incredible that so many survive.
Please click on the movie poster above to visit the official website of the film.
Sunday 26th December 2010 11:58
As usual, Boxing Day ends up being a total anticlimax after Christmas Day and we almost didn't know what to do with ourselves. Tanya suggested going for a walk, and after being cooped up all day yesterday, it seemed the perfect solution to blow some cobwebs away.
We took one of our favourite routes, The Billy Track in Havant, stopping off at The Royal Oak at Langstone along the way. We enjoyed an 'Old Speckled Hen' whilst sat outside the pub, watching the tide come in. It was incredibly busy, full of families and friends catching up over the festive period. We just sat there, a bench to ourselves, soaking up the atmosphere and the winter sun. All very relaxing.
Once home, we were back to square one almost, so I suggested we watched a film on FilmFlex. Having looked through the possibilities, I plumped for Disney's 'The Sorcerer's Apprentice'.
Balthazar Blake (Nicolas Cage), a modern-day sorcerer, has his work cut out trying to defend the city of Manhattan against dark and evil forces. He soon spots a teenager, Dave Stutler (Jay Baruchel) with hidden potential and recruits him to become his apprentice… let the story unfold…
Oh, before I go, check out the 'babe' in the movie, Becky Barnes (Teresa Palmer)… hot.
Please click on the movie poster above to find out more and watch the trailer.
Saturday 25th December 2010 11:33
Christmas Day. We'd all slept in quite late really (Abbi stayed the night so she could be with us first thing this morning), and there wasn't a hangover in the house.
Before we started with the unwrapping of presents, I made us all some pate on toast and a warm drink.
Tanya and I opened the presents that my parents had sent down to us, one of which was a very interesting photography book, given to the both of us entitled, 'Family' with a prologue written by James McBride. The book is a pictorial journal which includes photographs from a hundred talented professional and amateur photographers, many of them award winners, who have captured the essence of our most profound relationship, our family.
The book is published by M.I.L.K. (Moments of Intimacy, Laughter and Kinship), a New Zealand-based publishing and licensing company. To find out more, please click on their logo above.
One present from Tanya that was a complete surprise was some aftershave called 'One Million' by Paco Rabanne. On the Paco Rabanne website, it describes the fragrance as the base note being 'a fresh spicy leather fragrance', the middle note, a mixture of Cinnamon and Rose Absolute with the top note a mixture of Peppermint and Blood Mandarin. With that combination, you'd expect it to smell bloody awful, yet its fragrance is absolutely superb, plus Tanya loves it, and that's what it's all about.
Please click on the rather unusual bottle above.
Abbi had bought Tanya a Lovelinks bracelet and we then chose some beads to go with it. Lovelinks bracelets are very similar to the unbelievably popular Pandora bracelets, only slightly cheaper. They are a very clever idea, especially as there are so many beads available in many different styles, allowing the individual an almost endless choice of 'creating' a bracelet that is as good as unique.
To find out more about this jewellery craze, please click on the Lovelinks logo above.
So, all that remained for the rest of the day was for Damien to come round and have Christmas Dinner with us, along with a few beers and watch a bit of telly. There were only two programmes we were looking forward to, 'Doctor Who' and 'The One Ronnie'. Doctor Who ended up being a bit of a stupid mindfuck, truth be known, and as for The One Ronnie…
Ronnie Corbett, most famous for one half of The Two Ronnies, turned 80 this month and some of the biggest names in British comedy suggested making a brand new comedy sketch show called, 'The One Ronnie'. Clever title and when you think that the likes of Harry Enfield, David Walliams, Matt Lucas and Rob Brydon, to name a few, were part of the show, you'd have expected it to be an instant hit. Sadly though, this was not the case, and apart from the two opening sketches, the first an updated 'Four Candles' sketch featuring Harry Enfield, the second another updated sketch featuring Catherine Tate, the show was cringeworthy. I actually felt embarrassed for Ronnie Corbett, it was a farcical attempt at comedy.
To watch the show, please click on The One Ronnie logo above.
Friday 24th December 2010 14:18
So, Christmas Eve was finally upon us and some time ago, we'd arranged to go on a pub crawl around Emsworth with Damien, Tanya's brother. Since we had arranged to do a couple of chores late morning, we decided to drop in and pick him up, drive back home and then walk down to Warblington station to catch the train to Emsworth. Everything went according to plan, only the trains ran every hour and we'd missed one by 25 minutes. After phoning our local taxi firm several times and deliberating what to do, we'd killed enough time to just hang around at the station and wait for the 14:18 to Emsworth.
Having been out in the cold for quite some time, we were all ready for our first beer of the day and descended on our first pub, Fuller's-owned 'The Kings Arms'.
Built in the 1750's The Kings Arms public house serves well-kept real ales, superb home cooked food and has real ale nights every Wednesday. It's the first time both Tanya and I had been in there and we were more than impressed.
We started our drinking session with a pint of George Gale's 'Seafarers' a 3.6% ABV light amber-coloured ale. It's a very thirst-quenching and refreshing ale to start on, despite its low ABV. Brewed with a blend of the finest quality English malt, Admiral hops and the unique Gales yeast.
To visit The Kings Arms website, please click on the Seafarers pump clip above.
From there, we then headed for 'The Town Brewery', a pub that has always intrigued me, yet I'd never been in there, until today. Nothing like what I expected, if the truth be known, it's definitely different. For one, it's the only pub in Emsworth that doesn't serve food; the fanciest thing you'll be able to buy is a packet of crisps. Not only that, there isn't a jukebox, nor are mobile phones allowed.
Owned by Punch Taverns, the pub has been presided over by the same licensee for over twenty years and is a free house, serving Greene King ales and, an ale I'd not seen in years and years, 'Whitbread', so we sat down and enjoyed a round of it.
Next up was another Fuller's-owned pub, this one being 'The Ship Inn', found just a few hundred yards and on the opposite side of the road from The Town Brewery, albeit that the latter is on West Street, the former on High Street. Positioned in the centre of Emsworth, The Ship Inn was extensively refurbished and extended in the summer of 1996, which incorporated a shop next door. It was the first time I'd been in there, whereas Tanya and Damien had been in there at least once before.
Here, we enjoyed a pint of Fuller's 'London Pride'.
After our pint in 'The Ship Inn', we doubled back on ourselves slightly and went to 'The Crown Hotel' a grade II listed building which was once an old Coaching Inn, dating back to the 16th Century. Sympathetically refurbished, with a relaxing and comfortable atmosphere this 3 star AA hotel has nine en-suite bedrooms, all furnished and have a flat screen television, hi-fi and tea and coffee making facilities. The bar itself has ample room, a real log fire and a jukebox. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves in there, particularly as we also sampled a new ale.
At 4.0% ABV, 'Escape Claus' (great name) by The Caledonian Brewery is a superb winter ale brewed with Northdown, First Gold and Pilgrim hops along with Optic, Crystal, Wheat and Rye Crystal malt. The finished result is an easy drinking ale with a rich smooth texture and a sweet malty finish with enticing traces of orange. A superb ale.
Please click on the Caledonian Brewery logo above to find out more about the brewery.
We then had a fairly long walk to the next pub, compared with what little walking we'd done so far, calling in at 'The Sussex Brewery', yet another pub neither Tanya nor myself had been in. The pub has long been a part of the food culture of Emsworth, from the days when the village was a major oyster and fishing centre to it now being a picturesque tourist village. As well as its open fires and saw dust covered floors, it also has its own beer festival.
Whilst there, we all enjoyed a fantastic ale by Young's called 'Winter Warmer', one that none of us had tasted before. It's a 5.0% ABV seasonal cask ale (November to January) and is brewed with Marris Otter and Crystal malts combined with Fuggle and Golding hops. Young's unique cane sugar mix is added to the copper during the brewing process.
For more information about Wells and Young's Brewing Company, please click on the Young's logo above.
It was then a short walk back towards town to 'The Lord Raglan', another Fuller's-owned pub. Backing on to the Slipper Mill Pond and the River Ems, this 18th Century traditional pub is well known locally for its friendly atmosphere, great food and real ale.
Since we'd had quite a range of Fuller's and Gale's ales, we opted to have a round of the guest ale, Fuller's 'Jack Frost', a 4.5% ABV seasonal ale, brewed with Crystal malt and a dash of blackberries. There's a juiciness of fruit as well as a toffee flavour, yet it's hard to pinpoint blackberries specifically, but there are certainly dark berries here. The ale delivers a fruity, robust, yet refreshing flavour that is reminiscent of seasonal ales which certainly enhances the natural beer flavours rather than dominate them.
We then walked back up Queen Street (yes, bad name) and down South Street to what has become our favourite pub in Emsworth, 'The Blue Bell'. It's friendly, has a great atmosphere and has that homely feel to it. As well as all of that, their food is exquisite and would probably outshine many restaurants in the area, plus it's a free house. We always try and make a point of going in there every time my parents are down, or if Tanya and I just fancy chilling out one afternoon.
We ended up having two rounds of Sharp's 'Doom Bar' in there (mainly because 'The Coal Exchange' the last pub we'd wanted to go in was only open to regulars).
So, we'd done it, we'd as good as achieved our Emsworth pub crawl goal… all that remained was for us to visit the local Indian and stuff our faces.
Owned by Abdul Ahad, who was once the proprietor of The Indian Cottage in Portsmouth for over ten years, 'Spice Village' is dedicated to providing quality Indian cuisine, freshly prepared and served by professional and dedicated staff. The dishes on their menu have all been carefully selected from across the Indian subcontinent, spanning traditions and techniques from the Himalayan mountains in the north to the tropical beaches of the south. There are many old favourites along with some less familiar dishes which you may not have tried yet. I had a Chicken Balti and I have to say that it goes down as being one of the best Indian meals I have ever had.
To find out more, look at their menu, order a takeaway or book a table, please click on the Spice Village logo above.
Thursday 23rd December 2010 12:55
Despite me saying I'd finished work for the time-being, there was the small matter of adding 'bleed' to all the pages of the Straightpoint UK Price List, so that ADP Design and Print could complete the job. I should make a note to myself that if I'm submitting an artwork that is potentially going to print, I need to add bleed from the outset.
You may recall me mentioning ADP Design and Print in my blog in July, especially as I made an utter fool of myself at the time. Well, ever since then, I've been putting work their way.
To find out more, please click on their logo below.
Bleed is a printing term that refers to printing that goes beyond the edge of the sheet after trimming and is the part on the side of your document that gives the printer that small amount of registration space to move around paper and design inconsistencies.
Bleeds in the UK and Europe generally are 2 to 5mm from where the cut is to be made, whereas in the USA, they are generally an 1/8 of an inch from where the cut is to be made, although this can vary from print company to print company. Some printers ask for specific sizes; most of these companies place the specific demands on their website.
Bleed information refers to elements outside the finished piece. Often a printer requires bleed information on pieces that have bleed to allow for 'printer bounce' when cutting a job down to size. Failing to provide bleed information and crop marks can result in finished pieces showing a thin area of white on the edge.
Later on in the day, once Tanya had finished work for the Christmas period, we both headed off into Emsworth to do our fruit and vegetable shopping, in preparation for Christmas Day. Whilst there, we also popped into 'Pantry Weigh' a small delicatessen shop on Emsworth's High Street. It stocks a wide range of unusual products, many of which are difficult to source in the best of supermarkets. Rather than list them all, it would be easier to direct you to holding page they have on The Emsworth Directory website; I'd better warn you though, the website should be reported as a major design crime.
Please click on the Pantry Weigh logo above to find out more.
Wednesday 22nd December 2010 19:00
What a build-up to Christmas… today I finished work until the New Year and tonight I was off to the work's Christmas do, where I freelance at. The venue was Portsmouth Marriott Hotel and there were eleven of us attending and I had to be on my best behaviour… well, try to.
As it states on their website; its easy access to major routes and convenient location near popular sights like the Spinnaker Tower, Gunwharf Quays and the historic Naval Dockyard, the Portsmouth Marriott Hotel provides an ideal setting that makes business trips.
To find out more, or book a room, please click on the logo above.
Tanya dropped me off round at a colleague's house where Jim, one of the owners of the company where I freelance, had very kindly arranged to pick us up. It wasn't long before we were shown to our table and the drink started to flow. As most of you know, I love my real ale and the closest thing to my taste was Boddingtons… an ale that I ended up becoming sick of up north.
Boddingtons Bitter was formerly brewed in Manchester and became a huge brand nationwide. Now manufactured by Anheuser-Busch InBev, the beer is now sold in over 30 countries worldwide yet I feel it now tastes totally manufactured, unlike how it tasted when the Manchester-based brewery closed down in 2006. The upside is that it's only 3.5% ABV so it's a very easy session ale, I just don't particularly like the taste of it, in fact, I think it's shite.
To find out more about Boddingtons, please click on their logo above.
Back to the evening… we all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and some were a little worse for wear than others and apart from showing everyone my party trick of blowing a condom up on my head, I behaved like a true gentleman. The food was very good indeed, as was the service. I arrived home happy and level-headed, knowing there was nothing to regret in the morning.
Image above: Me being a dickhead.
Tuesday 21st December 2010 19:00
Hurray, we'd finally reached the Winter Equinox today… from hereon in, the daylight hours would finally become longer. Having said that though, we're still well within the grips of winter here, which is surprising when you think that I used to live 270 miles north of where I am now, so I haven't a clue how I'd be coping with the temperatures up there. Ah well, guess I've turned into a southern softie.
Tonight was going to be a special night, for Malcolm at Irving Brewery had invited both Tanya and I to his Christmas Carol Concert, held at the brewery. It was a 7:00 for 7:30 start and all that was required of us was to bring our own mug for a soup interval. I kicked off the evening with a pint of 'Red Plum' and the Carol Concert began. We sang many carols and Blendworth Brass Band who were accompanying us were in fine tune… I think the last time I sang so many Christmas Carols, I was at school, so needless to say, I was somewhat rusty!
We then stopped for about half an hour to have some homemade soup. There were plenty available but since I'd found out that Malcolm had cooked the exceptional curry at his Third Birthday Bash, I had to sample the soups he'd cooked. Luckily I'd brought a super large mug with me so I tried his Carrot and Coriander soup first which was absolutely scrumptious and then went back for seconds and had a mug of Broccoli and Stilton which was excellent as well.
Having had a hearty dose of soup, I finished off my second pint, this one being 'Christmas Pudding Ale', the base beer being 'Vanguard' with added cinnamon, cloves, raisin juice and treacle. I'd presume that it would still be 5.2% ABV in strength yet the taste is altered significantly from 'Vanguard'. I'd imagine that this would sell extremely well outside of the Carol Concert and, in appreciation of Malcolm's hospitality, I've designed a pump clip for it, just in case it ever does find its way into local pubs.
The evening continued with more carols and festivities and I had one more pint, a pint of 'Invincible' to keep my throat lubricated whilst singing. Everyone enjoyed themselves and the fact that Malcolm is carrying on The Gales Brewery tradition of having a Carol Concert every year made it all the more special.
Monday 20th December 2010 22:37
You may recall me talking about 'StuffIt' earlier this month, an application program that allows you to compress files. Well, today I'm go to talk about another application program, which basically works along the same principle.
7zX is a file archiver with a high compression ratio, with the results being very dependent upon the data used for the tests. More often than not, 7zX compresses to 7z format 30-70% better than using zip format and 2-10% better than most of the other zip compatible programs available. The program currently supports tar, zip, gzip, bzip2, UNIX compress, 7z, s7z and various kinds of segmented archives.
To top it all, it's available for free and can be downloaded from the Sixty Five, Ltd, website by clicking on the logo above.
Sunday 19th December 2010 09:31
The snow was still around this morning, and rather than take an unnecessary journey out in it, I suggested we walked to Hollybank Woods, probably about a mile away from where we live. As we're all aware, walking in snow can be hard-going and it does take considerably longer to get to your destination. Once we arrived, I just couldn't seem to find any inspiration to take a shot, whilst Tanya was happy snapping away at virtually anything. Parts of the woods looked beautiful, especially areas where they looked almost untouched, although they were few and far between, given that there are an awful lot of walkers, dog walkers, joggers and mountain bikers who all use it.
We arrived back home at around 11:40, so we'd been walking for over two hours, which isn't bad. I guess I need all the exercise I can now, since turning 43 yesterday. I made us some lunch and then took my usual weekly trip to Morrisons for a few things. Whilst there, I noticed two new bottles of beer, Ringwood's 'Boondoggle', which I'd drank before but had never had it out of a bottle, and Everards 'Beacon Bitter', one that I'd never had before.
'Beacon' is the head brewer's favourite ale at Everards, and the 3.8% ABV amber-coloured ale is regarded by many as being the ultimate session ale. It has won both national and international awards over the past two decades and is brewed using Maris Otter Barley and Crystal Malt. Along with a definite hoppy smell, the moreish ale is quite dry and bitter.
To find out more about 'Beacon' and Everards Brewery, please click on the pump clip above.
Saturday 18th December 2010 11:35
This morning it had snowed quite heavily… so I ended up celebrating the first 'White Birthday' I can recall. Seems quite strange the fact that I lived up north for 30 or more years and yet since moving down south, I've experienced my first one (to my knowledge that is). So, the spritely age of 43… crazy, and I can remember all the fun I had today as well.
Tanya had bought me two fantastically practical gifts (once you reach 40, everything becomes practical)… the first was a pair of Gri Sport Hiking Boots (I spoke about them some time ago, and have been wearing them an awful lot, just because it's better to break them in). The other present was a pair of proper work boots, my old ones were shot at, to the point where there was hardly any sole left in places.
The brand name is Rockwood, and despite them being cheap and cheerful, they are exceptionally well made.
Please click on the very girlie logo above to find out more.
My parents had kindly bought me a year's membership for CAMRA, the independent, voluntary organisation that campaigns for real ale, real pubs and consumer rights - why on Earth my parents ever thought I'd be interested in such a thing completely baffles me (Doe me too - Ed). On a serious note, I'm absolutely delighted that I'm now officially a member of the organisation, makes me feel as though all my real ale drinking has paid off. As well as the membership, they'd also bought me the 'Good Beer Guide' book and a groovy t-shirt with a 'pop art' design of a pint of beer, with the words, 'The Art of [Beer] c.2010' underneath.
To find out much more about CAMRA, please click on their logo above.
So, since I had some proper hiking boots, and the fact that it had snowed, it gave us good enough reason to go out in it. Luckily it was early enough to avoid all the dickheads that this sort of weather seems to attract (So you were the first one of them out then? - Ed). We'd, or should I say Tanya had, decided to drive over to Kingley Vale which is en route to Chichester. It took far longer than it usually would have done but I'd rather be ultra-careful in such conditions. Once there, we had quite a yomp before arriving at the place, and boy, was it worth it, the views were outstanding! (See Saturday's 365 shot to see).
Kingley Vale National Nature Reserve is one of the best places around to enjoy the countryside and see some spectacular wildlife. At its peak, it has some ancient burial mounds and within the reserve there is a yew woodland which is one of the finest in western Europe, including a grove of ancient trees which are among the oldest living things in Britain. As well as all of this, it has a presence of diverse wildlife including a large variety of butterflies, breeding birds, birds of prey and a wide range of mammals.
Please click on the Natural England logo above to find out much more about the reserve.
After we'd enjoyed a very rigorous walk, we stopped off at Rosie's Tea Rooms to order ourselves a thoroughly deserved Full English Breakfast… I was that hungry, I ended up ordering a large one. From there, we then went back home so I could watch the Premiership clash between Sunderland v Bolton Wanderers on Sky Sports. The match ended 1-0 to Sunderland and was rather boring to be honest, so I'm not going to talk about it (Talk about spitting the dummy out - Ed).
Friday 17th December 2010 18:55
It was Tanya's work's Christmas Do tonight, held at The Old Cross on North Street in Chichester. Having deliberated several ways of getting there, we decided it would be far easier ordering a taxi, rather than try and brave the cold by walking down to the station and then the journey the other end. Since there are several taxi firms nearby, I decided to go with the most local, Andicars, who are based in Havant.
It's quite some time since I last ordered a taxi, so when the firm didn't ask me for my address, I quickly had to start telling them it, only to be told that my address appeared when I rang from my home number… spooky. Not only that, an automated system 'phones you to let you know your taxi has arrived.
If you're in or around the Havant area and need a taxi, please click on the Andicars logo above to find out more.
So, we arrived in Chichester at around 19:10 with just a short walk up North Street to The Old Cross. Every time we've walked past the pub, I've always wondered what it was like, especially as it has such a homely country pub feel to it.
As we walked in, there were several of Tanya's colleagues already there, and I'd already clocked that there were four different real ales on, Fuller's 'London Pride', Ringwood Brewery 'Fortyniner', Shepherd Neame's 'Spitfire' and Young's 'London Gold' (one which I'd not tried before). Having a choice of four real ales is being spoilt in my opinion.
Once everyone had arrived, we all made our way to the two tables they'd set out for us. I was pleased to see that Cathy (Tanya's colleague) and Nigel (her husband) had been put with us, since Nigel and I have an awful lot in common, particularly football (albeit that he's a Chelsea fan). We were having a great time, and then the food was served…
The plus point for me was that I was absolutely ravenous and could've eaten a dead Dingo's donger, especially as I'd had a couple of bottles of real ale before venturing out, as well as the two pints I'd had before the 'food' arrived. Soup of the Day was my starter and, I would put all my money on the fact that it was Heinz Tomato Soup, can't complain though, it's the best tomato soup around.
My opinion changed though, once our main course arrived… I ate everything on my plate but I have to say it was the poorest excuse for a Christmas Roast I had ever seen; the tastiest thing on my plate had to have been the gravy. There was a ball of stuffing that had an almost impenetrable exoskeleton, a Yorkshire Pudding that was drier than a popcorn fart, and the 'vegetables' were as mushy as an inflamed abscess. Luckily, Dave and Peter (Tanya's bosses) managed to get a bit of a refund because £20/head was taking the piss. Despite all of that, a lot of money and preparation went into organising the event and that has to be acknowledged.
I've since read some reviews of The Old Cross and, unfortunately, good reviews are few and far between… it appears as if it's a place to be avoided at all costs… click on either logo above to see some of the shocking reviews. Still, we did have a good night, despite the food.
Thursday 16th December 2010 03:45
For some reason, I've struggled with sleep this week, and it's nothing to do with today's blog subject, I hasten to add. Quite often, I end up asking myself what I may have done on a particular day, that being related to any number of things such as health, food, music or a good old rant about someone or something. So, today's blog is about a brand that had the honour of being voted 'Most Loved Brand' byt the British public in 2005... Heinz Baked Beans.
So, apart from Heinz Baked Beans being one of the most popular brands of food ever, but what else do we know about them? Well, I was always under the impression that they were Haricot beans in a tomato sauce, however it appears as though they use Canadian Navy beans, a variety of Phaseolus vulgarise. Unfortunately, on a Baked Beans tin, it just reads, 'Beans' as one of the ingredients, so we may never know.
The Heinz company was set up in an office in Farringdon Road, London by Henry J Heinz in 1898 and three years later, the first can of Heinz Baked Beans was sold in Fortnum and Mason. Despite the fact that it was his dream of becoming an international company, he died in 1919, a few years before production began in Britain. Some twenty or more years later, the Ministry of Food classified baked beans as 'essential' in the rationing system between 1941-48… nowadays it's classed as one of your five a day, as part of a balanced diet.
Other interesting points include the staggering fact that over one million cans are consumed every day in the UK, which equates to 485 million cans per year, and how could I forget the famous Beanz Meanz Heinz slogan? It was dreamt up by Maurice Drake in 1967 and has been voted one of the best of all time.
Anyway, enough of my gassing (Very droll - Ed), please click on the iconic logo above.
Wednesday 15th December 2010 20:41
You may have noticed my 365 image today, it's of the edge of a cluster of Pringles, a very popular brand of snack that would probably fit into the 'crisp' category.
Produced by giants Procter and Gamble, Pringles are sold in over 100 different countries, exceeding sales of US$1 billion each year.
Originally invented by Alexander Liepa of Montgomery, Ohio, the Pringles brand potato crisps were first sold in the United States in October 1968 and went on to be distributed nationally by the mid-1970s. The name came from a Cincinnati telephone book, where Procter and Gamble liked the sound of Pringle Drive in Finneytown, Ohio.
Please click on the Pringles logo above to find out more about the worldwide snack.
Tuesday 14th December 2010 10:21
I have a condition (We all knew that - Ed). In fact it's quite a common condition and is becoming recognised in all parts of the world, with both the United Kingdom and the United States having websites devoted to the condition. You're intrigued now, aren't you?
The condition was first researched and defined by Williams and Degenhardt in their paper, 'Paruresis: A Survey of a Disorder of Micturition' published in the Journal of General Psychology, 1954, 51, 19-29.
So, I've now mentioned the name of the condition, Paruresis, but what is it? Well, it's basically the inability to urinate in the presence, real or perceived, of others and up to 4 million people in the UK alone are affected by it. Other common names for the condition are 'Shy Bladder', 'Bashful Bladder' or just plain 'Pee Shy'. The medical description is Psychogenic Urinary Retention and it affects both men and women, of all ages and backgrounds (I've known a few people with the condition).
Strangely enough, I have no problem if Tanya is around, nor do I 'suffer' with it after a few pints and I certainly don't have a problem with walking around bollock-naked either. I just find toilet visits a private, personal moment (maybe it's a deep-rooted hereditary animal instinct in some of us) and I certainly don't want some fucker stood next to me, 'stopping the flow'.
Luckily, my condition would be classed as relatively mild compared with what some go through. Some are unable to urinate at home, in a locked toilet, even if there is someone in the same property. I just try and tackle my problem by visiting a cubicle at all costs, plus they're far more hygienic as well, on many levels.
For those who are sufferers (especially the extreme cases), there is help out there, especially by visiting the link I'm going to provide - until tonight, I didn't even realise it was a recognised condition and had a specific name and it's something that needs to be talked about much more (It's asking for the piss to be taken out of it, if you ask me - Ed).
Monday 13th December 2010 15:01
I'd stumbled across a rather unusual font the other day, one that I had never clapped eyes on before, so it became necessary for me to find out what it was…
It turned out to be a rather obscure Japanese freeware font called D3 Archism (the D3 stands for Digital Dream Design). Unfortunately, much of their website is in Japanese, yet the navigation thankfully isn't, so it's relatively easy to find your way around, especially to the fonts section.
Please click on the rather cool logo to download a multitude of free cool fonts from the D3 Foundry.
Sunday 12th December 2010 13:30
Last Friday, I'd received an email from Max, one of the members of Havant Camera Club, asking if I'd care to join him at Chichester Snooker Club to watch the Premiership clash between arch rivals Bolton Wanderers and Blackburn Rovers. I'm not usually one to turn down such offers, purely because I enjoy light-hearted rivalry in an environment where beer is involved. Invite accepted.
Since it was an early afternoon kick-off at the Reebok, it gave Tanya and I a chance to go for a walk in the morning, as well as nip into Morrisons for the usual clobber I buy, before heading off to Chichester on the train.
From there, it seemed Tanya thought I had a bucketload of time left, despite me needing a shave amongst other things. Firstly, it was a case of erecting the Christmas tree we'd bought. Job done. Secondly, it was a case of putting the lights on it. Job done. Thirdly, "Oh, aren't you going to decorate it?" Job done.
Before I knew it, I heard the words, "If you don't start getting ready soon, you're going to be late!" Words fail me. This may come as a bit of a surprise… Tanya kindly took me to Chichester, with me proudly wearing my Bolton home shirt from a couple of seasons ago.
Max had sent a text asking me to 'phone once I arrived so that he could let me in, since it was a membership club. Once in, I met his son, Ben, who'd joined the Blackburn Rovers contingency… I was buggered if I was to be intimidated, even though Max was donning the red and black halves away shirt that Blackburn were wearing when they won the Premier League in 1995.
It was game on.
The first half was about as entertaining as watching a television test card pattern with little to report really. The pivotal point of the game was when midfielder, Mark Davies, hero of the Blackpool game, was sent off for a second bookable offence when he elbowed Phil Jones. After that, Blackburn pushed forward yet it was the home side who finally took the lead with a low strike by substitute Fabrice Muamba in the 65th minute. Even though the Trotters had taken the lead, an equaliser and a match-winner seemed to be on the cards for Blackburn, especially as their time in possession of play was growing. As expected, an equaliser came in the 87th minute, courtesy of the Senegalese striker, Mame Biram Diouf, on loan from Manchester United, who looped the ball over Jussi Jaaskelainen, via a deflection… 1-1, with only three minutes of normal play to go, Bolton down to ten men and the daunting statistic that Bolton hadn't managed to beat Blackburn at home since 2000.
Ten seconds after Bolton had kicked off again, Sam Ricketts played a long ball forward which Kevin Davies nodded on into the path of Stuart Holden, who rifled home a late winner for The Whites. Albeit a cliché but what a game of two halves and what an end to an absolutely compelling derby. The 2-1 win took Bolton up to fifth spot until Spurs managed a draw with Chelsea later in the day.
A happy man then caught the train back home.
Saturday 11th December 2010 11:35
Started the day with sorting out a parcel of watches that I'd been wanting to return for quite some time. The queues in Post Offices at this time of year are something else but at least we arrived with time to spare. From there we walked into Havant to look for various things, none of which came to fruition so stopped off at Greggs for a couple of spicy vegetable pasties (yummy).
As if by magic, or indeed a cunning spell, I was somehow lured into choosing a real Christmas tree with Tanya. I warned her that I wasn't pissing around, ripping open each 'packaged' tree, only to find that it just 'wasn't right' and leaving a devastating trail of plastic mesh carcasses has never been, and never will be, my idea of fun. We stopped off at B&Q first and, I have to hold my hands up here, the majority of 'unpackaged' trees were lame, so sure enough, we ripped one or two open. Remarkably, within ten minutes, Tanya had actually made a choice so I queued up to have it 'repackaged'… yes, I thought it was too good to be true, sure enough, she changed her mind within a flash. I recall stomping away from the queue, uttering the words, "It's like you're buying shoes," to which the other people in the queue found highly amusing.
Having put it back, Tanya suggested driving to Havant Garden Centre instead, especially as you're able to 'see' what you're buying, rather than having to rip the plastic mesh open. Sure enough, this made the ordeal far less suicidal and we had chosen one within minutes. Note to oneself, go to Havant Garden Centre next year, at all costs.
To find out more about Havant Garden Centre, or the Garden Centre Group as a whole, please click on the logo above.
Friday 10th December 2010 11:52
Received an email from my parents on Friday. It was entitled, 'Got to be the best commercial ever'. I agree, and I'll tell you for why…
Before I introduce the advert, let's be civilised (for once - Ed) and just profile the company in question. Padborg (German spelling, Pattburg), the small Danish border town with a population of just over 4500 is famous for having the head offices of this company based here. It is, of course, the large discount store, Fleggaard (No, I'd never heard of them either - Ed).
So, now that the introductions are out of the way, you can either click here if you're fluent in Danish and want to pick up a bargain or alternatively, you can click on the Fleggaard logo above to see the most promiscuous advert you're ever likely to…
Thursday 9th December 2010 15:44
Now then, I usually don't have any complaints about Macs, however, that's not always the case. Ever since Mac OS X 10.3 (Panther) though, they decided to stop animated GIFs being shown in either Preview or Mail which, to me any many other Mac users, is rubbish. Apart from opening them with Safari, the likes of Preview just shows a single static frame of the animation, as does Mail.
I decided to do a little hunting around and found a rather nifty application program, that's free, called Xee and can be downloaded from the main Apple website. Xee is a lightweight, fast and convenient image browser that's designed to be a serious program for image viewing and management, with a sleek and powerful interface. Not only are you able to view GIFs and many other different file types, it is very fast and uses less memory than its counterpart, Preview.
To download your free copy, please click on the somewhat uncool (looks like a shite hybrid of the Mac Excel logo and that dude with one eye from Monsters Inc.) logo above.
Wednesday 8th December 2010 15:08
According to government statistics, 30.1 million adults (that's 60%) accessed the internet every day or almost every day, with 19.2 million households having an internet connection in 2010, representing a staggering 73% of households. London was the highest level of access with 83% whilst the North East was the lowest with 59%. So, now that we have some figures to work with, I still find it even more staggering and totally infuriating when an individual, or even worse, a company 'claim' that they can't open PDFs (Portable Document Format) files.
Adobe Reader is part of a family of application software developed by Adobe Systems and is free to download from Adobe's website. It enables users to view and print PDF files but has negligible PDF creation capabilities and is widely used to present information with a fixed layout similar to a brochure publication. Adobe Reader is freely available for several operating systems including Mac OS X, Windows and Solaris so there's absolutely no excuse to 'claim' that you can't open a PDF, unless of course you're a lazy bastard who just can't be arsed keeping up-to-date with free technology.
Please click on the logo above to download your free copy.
Tuesday 7th December 2010 20:00
Tonight, as a joint birthday present for both myself and Damien, Tanya's brother, Tanya had bought us all tickets to go and see 'Lockipedia', the current tour by stand-up comedian, Sean Lock. Luckily, she bought the tickets in good time because it was a sell-out. For those unfamiliar with Sean Lock, he's a team captain on Channel 4's 'Eight Out Of Ten Cats' and a regular guest on BBC1's 'QI'. He's also appeared on other programmes such as, BBC1's 'Have I Got News For You', 'They Think It's All Over' and BBC2's 'Never Mind The Buzzcocks'.
Born in Chertsey, Surrey, Sean was a labourer on building sites, prior to becoming an award-winning comedian. It was actually 1993 when he made his first television appearance, alongside Rob Newman and David Baddiel and seven years later, he won the esteemed Best Live Stand-up at the British Comedy Awards. Having seen his performance tonight, I can categorically say he's a very funny man indeed and anything I repeat on my blog just won't be delivered with the same comic conviction as him. Nevertheless, when he described Jordan's (AKA Katie Price) skin as being the colour of hangover piss, it made me guffaw so much, I missed a good couple of minute's worth of comedy.
Please click on tour date poster to find out more.
Monday 6th December 2010 18:13
Received an email from Tanya's boss, Dave, this evening. It was simply entitled 'Great Listening'… it included a YouTube link so I imagined it would be some diabolically good 80s track that the majority of Earthlings had brushed under the carpet… it wasn't.
Instead of that, it took me to a page called 'James Naughtie Jeremy Hunt Today Programme BBC Radio 4 - long version'. For the life of me, I had absolutely no idea what was in store, especially as I never to listen to Radio 4, in fact I never listen to radio in general… nothing to do with me not enjoying it, more the fact that my car radio is shagged.
Anyway, it turned out to be one of the most enjoyable live broadcast blunders I had ever heard. If you can imagine introducing 'Jeremy Hunt, the Culture Secretary' and making the most majorly bad Spoonerism ever'… so you're with me now? The only thing that totally pissed me off was the fact that people had emailed about how 'offended' they were regarding his dialogue disaster… it was a genuine mistake for fuck's sake.
Please click on the BBC Radio 4 logo to listen to the blunder, the stifled laughter and then the slightly grovelling apology.
Sunday 5th December 2010 15:34
Earlier in the day, Abbi and I had been to Morrisons and although Tanya and I only needed a few things, I thought I'd join (and help) Abbi with her shopping, since it's not the easiest thing to do on your own, especially as the store was just ridiculously hectic.
Whilst there, I bought a Tasty Roast Chicken so that I could prepare and cook some roast potatoes and several vegetables to accompany it later, sprouts being one them. I think I may have said before just how much I love sprouts and although Tanya isn't the biggest fan of them, she will eat them. Abbi, on the other hand, absolutely hates them so it's just as well I'd opted to do carrots and peas as well.
I was kind of hoping that there would be a specific site out there that was devoted to sprouts, sadly, there isn't. The good thing is though is that there are plenty of recipe sites out there, one of the most popular being AllRecipes.co.uk (as well as the US's .com counterpart).
All Recipes is the complete resource for recipes (Never! - Ed), cooking tips and food. With over 33,000 recipes, it is the leading recipe site on the internet, with each one being rated, reviewed and cooked by home cooks worldwide. What's even better about the site is that your search for a recipe can be filtered by the recipe's main ingredient, its cuisine origin, the cooking/preparation method, the occasion and even down to how many it serves and how long it needs to cook for!
So, since I praised sprouts earlier, I'll provide a link to some mouth-wateringly good sprout recipes. Please click on the logo above.
Saturday 4th December 2010 15:07
Right, here's the thing… you're 40+, bald and somewhat overweight and you're faced with several options in life… try and stay young or just let yourself go. Don't get me wrong, this isn't a mid-life crisis thing, (My arse - Ed) more a case of trying to face up to the fact that you just aren't getting any younger.
Why all of this? Well, since acquiring some extra poundage, certain clothing that I was once able to slip in and out of, without unfastening the said items, now appear to have shrunk to the point where they're rebelling against even going anywhere near me, so it was time to have a rethink…
The decision involved a trip into Portsmouth, namely Next, to see what the fashion was, whether I liked it, and the most important part, whether it suited me. I tried several shirts on (the fashion seems to be the lumberjack style, which I became accustomed to in the early 90s) and the majority did suit me and didn't make me look like a complete tit either. Luckily, I had Tanya and Abbi in tow, both of which were acting as a titometer for me… and it didn't even register a flicker (When you removed the garment, did it go sky high? - Ed). So, I was finally set to wear something from this side of the millennium and look reasonably stylish.
To find out more about Next, please click on the logo above.
Since I was with two females, they took full advantage of the plethora of shops within the city centre and, had it not been for a very welcome food break at the BHS restaurant, I may well have thrown myself off the Spinnaker Tower. One thing that did become increasingly apparent was how every single woman's fashion store seemed to have exactly the same products, all just labelled differently… gullible springs to mind. I'd sooner walk in one store, see what I like, buy it, leave, go home.
Anyway, after finishing our meals at BHS, I took a trip to the store's toilet and really wished I hadn't. I was that disgusted with just how shamefully unhygienic the toilets were, I had to take a photo on my camera. Apologies for it being blurred but the stench was putrid. This image comes with a major puke warning, so if you'd rather not see the image, do not move your cursor anywhere near the image above.
Friday 3rd December 2010 11:59
StuffIt. That's not a command or statement, more the subject of today's blog. StuffIt is an application program which allows you to compress, encrypt or expand files and folders and allows you to create both ZIP and SITX archives.
Some of StuffIt's key features are the fact that you're able to compress documents up to 98% of their original size and, just as importantly, you're able to secure your compressed data with strong 512-bit encryption for SITX archives and AES 256-bit encryption for Zip files.
To download your free 30-day trial, for Mac OS X 10.5 or higher or Windows ® 7, Vista or XP, please click on the logo above.
Thursday 2nd December 2010 08:29
Last night, during the night and throughout today, it snowed. Abbi, Tanya's daughter, had stayed the night so at about 06:30 I helped clear all the snow off her car (it had put down 5" or more) so that she could hopefully make her way to work. At that time, I was very tempted to make the journey to where I freelance, however, I pick someone up on the way and that would have potentially left them stranded, especially if the trains hadn't been running.
At about 08:00, I decided to make a start on removing the snow from my car, which had now risen another inch or more. Including scraping the rather thick layer of ice off my windows, it took me a good twenty minutes to clear it all, by which time a neighbour of ours arrived home saying how bad the roads were and the journey, "just wasn't worth considering". Once back in the warmth of our home, I noticed I'd received a text from a fellow colleague asking if I had made it into work. I immediately 'phoned him and the general consensus was to not take the risk.
From that conversation, I then deliberated catching the train to Petersfield, yet with further weather warnings in place, along with the fact that there may be no return journey home, I decided to stay put, although later in the day, I wished I'd attempted it, particularly as some who I'd have put my bottom dollar on not making it in, had. Ah well, you win some…
Anyway, since I'm on the subject of snow, I thought I'd share a few interesting facts about it, as well as provide a link to a free vector artwork of some snowflakes, just in case you fancy making your own Christmas cards this year or saving something festive as your desktop pattern. Then again, you may loathe Christmas and wonder what the fuck I'm going on about.
So… snowflake facts… every single snowflake has a unique shape and all have six sides (I'm sure you all knew that anyway). Each one is made up of snow crystals and billions of snowflakes can fall in just one short 'snowstorm' and the average snowflake falls at a speed of 3.1mph (5kph). The largest snowflakes ever recorded fell in the state of Montana, USA and were 380mm in diameter (15"). And finally, for the most interesting fact… there are six basic patterns of a snowflake, all of which, as I said earlier, have six sides; the shapes are, a Star Crystals, Dendrite Stars, Columns, Plates, Capped Columns and Needles.
Please click on the snowflake graphic above to download your free vector artwork.
Wednesday 1st December 2010 22:52
The next in the series of pump clips that Malcolm at Irving Brewery wants designing is his very own 'Wee Malc's 80 Shilling Ale', a 4.3% ABV Scottish style malty beer brewed in the style of some of the Scotch Ales of yesteryear. The design will be predominantly tartan, 'Irving of Bonshaw Tower', to be precise, although Malcolm did comment that his own personal kilt is 'The Malcolm Clan' tartan, but that's his personal choice!
Anyway, whilst on the hunt for particular tartans, I discovered this rather groovy website where you can create your own unique tartan using up to ten different band colours, each one to your own specification, as well as having the option of the yarn size and its orientation. Even though I'm not Scottish, it's one cool website, especially as you're able to view the tartan at fullscreen size and have the choice of downloading it or sharing it with fellow tartan-lovers.
To develop your very own tartan, please click on the logo above.
By the way, there are three different fonts used within the logo above, all of which can be downloaded for free from dafont.com, they are: Medieval Victoriana (Ornate 'T'), King Arthur (the 'ARTAN' bit) and the rest is set in Livingstone. As you can see above, I created my very own 'mcigimages' tartan… you just have to have a go.