Saturday 30th April 2011 07:00
We were both up and out of the house for seven o'clock this morning. Why? Well, we'd booked two slots to go and see Brighton's famous sewer tour and needed to be there for 09:20. We had toyed with the idea of staying overnight, to avoid having to get up early but decided that lack of sleep wasn't as important as saving a bit of money; after all, the tour was £12 each, so it was hardly cheap.
Before I start talking about our day out today, I did manage to set up, and take, my last 365 photo of the year. I'd had a mid-week trip to Tesco and bought several things for it...
Brighton's Victorian sewerage system is a fine example of civil engineering and the tours which run from May through to September have become established as a popular attraction for both tourists and local residents. Back in 2007, the tour won the award as being the Best Place to Visit in the Brighton and Hove Business Awards. Now whether that says anything for the rest of Brighton is down to you to decide!
Anyway, we arrived in Brighton with plenty of time to kill, which was a shame, especially as nowhere was open! We couldn't even find somewhere to have something as simple as a coffee! In the end, we ended up spending just short of an hour 'hanging around'. We were entertained briefly by what appeared to be a washed up body on the shore, that was until 'it' moved. The thing was, people just didn't bat an eyelid - obviously must be a regular occurrence on the shores of the city.
We had finally killed enough time and made our way down to the bottom of the steps on the right hand side of Brighton Pier, where we were met by our guides. Since we were entering an environment that was potentially dangerous, we had to wear hard hats and silicone gloves to avoid any risk of catching some sort of infection, after all, most of the areas we'd be exploring would have been submerged in sewage at some point.
After we'd watched a short DVD, we were then split into two groups and shown around various parts of the system and, at times, the stench was unbelievable. The tour lasted approximately an hour and started underneath the Palace Pier, emerging at ground level through a manhole near the Old Steine Gardens.
To find out more about the tours and Southern Water, who run them, please click on the logo above.
Once we'd returned, and scrubbed our hands several times, we then made our way up to The Royal Pavilion… what an outstanding piece of architecture. Described as an extravagant and extraordinary pleasure palace, it was built for the Prince Regent, who later became King George IV, in three campaigns between 1787 and 1823. Between 1815 and 1822 the designer John Nash redesigned and greatly extended the Pavilion, and it is the work of Nash which can be seen today. The building is remarkable for its exotic oriental appearance both inside and out, although we just chose to enjoy it from the outside. The palace, built in the Indo-Saracenic style, prevalent in India for most of the 19th century, was revered by the fashionable Regency society and is still a distinctive landmark with the city centre.
For more information, please click on the logo above.
After we'd been there, we enjoyed coffee and a cake nearby and then made our way back to the beach and ended up staying on it for a good three hours, after which, we decided to make our way to Arundel, in the hope that we'd be able to find somewhere to eat. Unfortunately though, we arrived there when most places had either stopped serving food for the day, or we would have had to wait some two hours before they started again. Whilst we were there though, I did manage to visit 'Pallant' a delicatessen and wine merchant… luckily, they sell quite a range of local ales and had three I'd not had (or seen) before, so they were bought.
We finished our hectic day with a stop-off at the Spice Village Indian restaurant for yet another superb meal.
Friday 29th April 2011 20:41
It seemed that there was no escaping the coverage of the main news of the day today… the Royal Wedding. Unless you've been some sort of hermit during the past six months, or however long ago it was that they announced it, you knew about it. One thing that an awful lot of workers benefitted from, was the fact that it was a Public Holiday, yet some classed it as a Bank Holiday. Just to clear it up, both are effectively the same thing and it was therefore up to employers as to whether they paid their staff or not. Anyway, top and bottom of it, we were both off anyway, because we'd booked the three days in between.
Since it was such a beautiful morning, I suggested that we make the most of it and have a walk around the Mill Pond in Emsworth. We arrived there for about nine o'clock and there was hardly a soul around, it was spookily quiet, nevertheless we enjoyed a lovely walk and noticed the local sailing club setting up what looked to be a street party in commemoration of Prince William and Kate Middleton's wedding.
Once we'd finished our walk, we stopped at The Greenhouse Café for some breakfast… it just seemed the right thing to do. It was great being sat there in the sun and watching the world go by as we both enjoyed an English Breakfast. The Greenhouse Café really is a great place to eat and totally chill out, and their prices are relatively reasonable too.
For more information, please click on the logo above.
It wasn't until later on that we ventured out again, this time to Northney, a small village on Hayling Island, for a short walk. It's a very tranquil part of the island and probably one of its most idyllic too. Within the village, there's a 12th Century church and apart from its pretty graveyard, Princess Catherine Yurievskaya (1878-1959), a daughter of Alexander II of Russia, is buried within the grounds of the church of St. Peter.
As well as the church, Northney boasts a 520-acre farm of good agricultural soil and coastal grazing marshes, home to a herd of pedigree Ayrshire cows.
For more information about the walk around the village, please click on The Countryside Code logo above.
Thursday 28th April 2011 14:41
It was only until mid afternoon that we actually decided to go anywhere today. Haven't a clue where the time went until then… that's just the way it goes when you have valuable time off. Ah well, what the hell, so long as were recuperating, who cares I guess? I'd sent an invoice off to Malcolm for the last couple of jobs I'd completed and had already started the last design he'd asked me to work on, a renamed beer called 'Diamond'. More about that later.
We made our way to Havant first so that Tanya could pick up some prescription sunglasses that she'd desperately longed for and needed, especially as her varifocals annoy her if she's just out and about. Once we'd finished there, I then drove to Irving & Co. Brewers for a couple of things, one of which was to buy a couple of four-pint cartons of ale, those being 'Invincible' and 'Strong Island Hopper'. Whilst there, I also managed to discuss an idea I'd had about his latest seasonal ale that's going to be available during May; originally called 'Daring', then 'Dauntless' and now 'Diamond' after the third ship whose class is Type 45. He liked my idea, so I went home with a buzzing head and started work on it.
I tried about six different versions, all of which were working okay but they just weren't doing it for me… just as I was about to give up for the night, I had one last idea and decided to submit it as my favourite by far. I sent both picture messages and emails to Malcolm but hadn't heard anything from him by the time I decided to go to bed. I was quite exhausted, especially as I's spent the majority of the evening working on it… so it was a case of fingers crossed.
For more information about 'Diamond', please click on the pump clip above.
Wednesday 27th April 2011 10:38
Now then, what an unexpected day today turned out to be. We hadn't particularly planned on going anywhere, except to drop Tanya's car off so that she could have a couple of new tyres and sort out some new bulbs here and there. As we were leaving to go back home, I suggested we take a look at somewhere else that Tanya spotted on our walk with Mike and Kerry, this time it was an old building, namely East Dean Service Station. I'd somehow walked straight past it last Saturday, which is very unlike me, so it was well worth the trip out today.
Below is a shot that I've purposely made to look old and authentic.
On the way there, Tanya remembered that she'd never been to Weald and Downland Open Air Museum with me and suggested that we go on the way back from the Service Station. I had absolutely no idea what to expect, although she did say that since I enjoyed Buckler's Hard so much, I would love it.
Even upon entering (it's a £9.50 admission fee for adults by the way), I still didn't know what to expect… what a thoroughly amazing place! In the main, it's a selection of historic buildings that have been rescued from destruction, there's a Market Hall that once stood in Titchfield, dating back to 1620, an old school from West Wittering dating back to 1851 and a carpenter's shop dating back to the late 19th century, saved from Windlesham in Surrey, plus many more buildings that have been saved from becoming ashes and dust. They've all been dismantled and rebuilt here at the museum.
As well as all of the buildings, there are rural life collections which include carts, wagons and farming implements, as well as the tools of many different trades. There are many domesticated animals in and around the area such as three Shire horses, Neville, Mac and Major and Sussex oxen which work every day. As well as that, there are South Down sheep in the fields, Tamworth pigs in the woods, geese in the orchard and hens everywhere. The site itself is set in the Lavant valley, part of the South Downs and is part of the park landscape of West Dean. It's the perfect way to spend the day with or without kids, if with them, there are programmes of activities throughout half terms, Easter and the summer holidays.
If you fancy a great day out, please click on the logo above to find out more.
Tuesday 26th April 2011 18:17
Had another day where we chose to do very little, although regular readers of my blog may well have noticed that I did actually manage to catch up with if for the first time in weeks.
By late afternoon however, we'd both had enough of being stuck indoors so I suggested that we headed out toward West Stoke, near Chichester, so that we could take some photographs of a bluebell wood we'd spotted on the way over to meet Mike and Kerry the other day.
Lye wood can be found between East Ashling and West Stoke and there are several paths that run through it, although quite a percentage seems to be inaccessible, nevertheless, I did manage to take the shot above using my Hipstamatic app on my iPhone.
Strangely enough, once home, we'd both received an email from The Woodland Trust which I'll tell you about in a moment or two. As a matter of interest, The Woodland Trust is a conservation charity in the United Kingdom concerned with the protection and sympathetic management of native woodland heritage.
It was founded in Devon, England in 1972 by retired farmer Kenneth Watkins OBE (6 December 1909 - 13 November 1996) and by 1977 it had 22 woods in six counties. A year later, it announced that it would be a nationwide charity, and moved to Grantham in Lincolnshire. It has supported the National Tree Week scheme, which is in late November and ran by The Tree Council.
To find out more, please click on the logo above.
At the moment, VisitWoods, which is ran by The Woodland Trust, is helping create the UK's first map of bluebell woods open to the public (now you can see the spookiness of the email we received) and they're asking for everyone's help. By clicking on the VisitWoods logo above, you can tell the organisation of woods you know that have bluebells in spring by following the procedure on the web page and, as they say, it doesn't matter if they're not out yet.
Please click on the signpost above to submit your location.
During the evening, nighttime and early hours of the morning, I sat down and started to develop a design I'd been working on for Irving Brewers first ever beer festival. I'd had a brief discussion with Malcolm about it some weeks ago, yet everything I'd tried just didn't seem to be working with me, until I was inspired last night.
Groundlings Theatre is the place where it's being held and, as you may recall from when I blogged about it a few weeks ago, it's renowned for being haunted, plus there's a little history there about Charles Dickens.
So here's a little more about the elements of the logo I designed.
The ghosts signify that the place it's being held at is one of the most haunted in Britain. The weird shape between the two ghosts is Portsea Island, home of Portsmouth, the only British city to be found on an island. The star and moon are part of Portsmouth's city crest. The 'bust' above the word 'Portsea' is Charles Dickens, born on Portsea Island and Groundlings Theatre was where Dickens' mother went into labour. The open book and quill pens signify Dickens once more, especially as it will the 200th anniversary of his birth next year. Oh, and the ornate shapes in the top corners of each page are part of the ornate elliptical window above the door of the Theatre.
Once a website has been developed, I shall link the logo up...
Monday 25th April 2011 12:30
Having had a day confined to the house on Sunday, we at least needed to go somewhere today, and since Tanya's feet are still in a bad way, we decided it should be Emsworth. It was glorious weather, again, and a leisurely stroll around the Mill Pond was in order. We also had some bread left over, so we took that along to feed the variety of birds that frequent the waters.
After there, Tanya suggested we popped into The Blue Bell in Emsworth for a swift half… why? Well, Malcolm's only got 'Invincible' in there, after years of trying. Persistence often pays, and I'm delighted that he's managed to do so, especially as I tried on his behalf, albeit that I picked Christmastime to ask. We sat outside in the blazing sun, just savouring one of our favourite tipples.
Other than making another Sticky Onion and Cheddar Quiche and enjoying a couple of beers in the process, the rest of the day paled into insignificance really, apart from downloading three great apps for my iPhone, all of which are worth a mention here. Each one of the above are available for both iPhone and Android and are incredibly useful to have. Rather than me explain each one, I suggest you download them and see for yourself!
Click on any of the above to go to the developers main website where you then have the option of which platform you want to download to.
Sunday 24th April 2011 16:00
To say I felt rough this morning is an understatement. I wouldn't say it was a near-death experience, but I have felt better in life. It didn't help waking up at 05:30 either. Every time I tried to do something, I was met with watery mouth syndrome and severe dizziness… in the end, the settee beckoned and I stayed on there for a good hour and a half before attempting anything other than breathing.
Did very little throughout the day, apart from eat, drink copious amounts of liquid and hunt around for some cool apps for my iPhone. They are incredible devices and I keep asking myself why I wasn't lured by them earlier. I guess I've come to that point in my life where I don't particularly like change, yet when it happens, I'm more than comfortable with it. I suppose it's more the thought of change than the actual doing.
Later on in the day, I apprehensively sat down to watch Bolton v Arsenal in a Premiership clash at the Reebok, being shown on Sky Sports 1. After the catastrophe of last week, I really didn't know whether I'd be able to cope seeing yet another defeat, especially as Arsenal had much more to play for than Bolton. Nevertheless, I had to show my support.
Bolton started quite well and then nerves seemed to get the better of them, especially with how easy Theo Walcott was finding space on the right flank, brushing Paul Robinson aside. Luckily, for Bolton, Arsenal's finishing was either indecisive or poor, or Jussi Jaaskelainen's superior goalkeeping kept the visitors at bay. Then, against the run of play, Bolton broke the deadlock with a set piece from a corner, Gary Cahill's header being supposedly cleared off the line (even though there was no mistaking that his effort had crossed it), only for Daniel Sturridge to finish off with a header, from less than six yards away.
The teams went into the break with Bolton leading 1-0… could they be the first team to beat Arsenal this year?
Arsenal started the second half the livelier of the two sides and dominated throughout. Within just three minutes of the teams coming out from the break, Robin van Persie was on the end of a perfectly timed one-two to slot away a superb goal, making it 1-1. Oh dear… I feared the worst, especially as Bolton were awarded a penalty within the first minute of the second half (which shouldn't have been one) and Kevin Davies missing his first of the season.
Sure enough, a barrage of chances came Arsenal's way, the closest one completely wrong-footing Jaaskelainen, only to hit the post and rebound out to a Bolton defender. It appeared as if the match was going to end 1-1 when Owen Coyle made an 85th-minute substitution, bringing on Tamir Cohen for Daniel Sturridge, after all, Arsenal had enjoyed 75% of the possession in the last ten minutes; something needed changing. Sure enough, in the 90th minute, Bolton were awarded a corner and Cohen sprinted in front of his marker to bullet in a header at the near post. He celebrated his goal by removing his shirt, revealing a picture of his father who died in a motorcycle accident earlier this year. What a fitting tribute, even though the heartless twat of a referee, Michael Jones, booked him for removing his shirt - about as diplomatic as a dog turd.
After five arse-twitching minutes of stoppage time, Bolton were the 2-1 victors.
Saturday 23rd April 2011 10:00
Further to Wednesday's blog about trying to locate a Bulldog, I can reveal that it was fantastic news. The following morning, I received an email from Tony saying, " Ian, Result!! An Angel Radio listener named Margaret has a bulldog. She lives at Baffins in Portsmouth." And she'd left her 'phone number as well, so I contacted her on Thursday and made arrangements for this afternoon.
Prior to that though, we'd arranged to meet up with our friends, Mike and Kerry, to go on a walk, followed by a pub lunch. At first, there was talk of Petworth but then Tanya suggested we did a walk that incorporated a pub and had found one in Charlton, just north of Chichester.
The walk was a circular, starting and ending at The Fox Goes Free. The walk takes you out of the village of Charlton and up a chalk road which eventually joins part of Monarch's Way, which then drops down into the village of East Dean. Unfortunately, from East Dean to the pub was road walking, and it's quite a fast road. Having said that though, there's plenty of steep slopes and differing landscapes to enjoy.
I took the shot of Court Hill above using the Hipstamatic App on my iPhone.
So, we'd finished the 3½ mile walk (seemed longer because of how steep the first part of the walk was) and could now chill out and enjoy a some pub grub and a pint. Tanya had grilled goats cheese and chorizo salad whilst I just opted for the plain and simple battered cod and chips with salad… not sure what Mike and Kerry had but we all enjoyed our meals and then sat and relaxed whilst taking in the idyllic view of the field at the back of the beer garden… it really was the life and we all said how we could have just stayed there and drank all afternoon… sadly though, we all had plans for the rest of the day.
Once home, I gave Margaret a call (the woman with the Bulldog) to make arrangements for this afternoon. We'd arrived home from our walk at around 2 o'clock, so I arranged to be down in Baffins for approximately 3pm, that gave us a little time to chill out before we set off.
It didn't take us long to get to Baffins, nor was it difficult finding where Margaret lived, with the aid of our SatNav. She welcomed us into her home immediately, as did Buffy the Bulldog, and had already prepared some coffee and cake for us! What a lovely lovely woman, so friendly and chatty, she made us feel relaxed the moment we met her. Buffy had decided that I was her new friend and kept nuzzling up to me, eventually opting to lie down at my feet. We spent quite some time chatting, by which time Buffy was happily snoring away!
Since Buffy had become very accustomed to us, it was time to take some photographs. Margaret had a lovely back garden and I soon spotted an area good enough to take some shots. I ended up taking just short of 30 and it was a tough decision as to which was the best… in the end, the shot above was my favourite.
We spent a little more time chatting and were there for the best part of an hour. We almost felt sad to go, especially as Margaret had been so hospitable… we'll make sure we have our shots printed off and go and visit her again soon.
We then drove back home and made arrangements to meet Damien and Jamie in Southsea for a few beers. Abbi very kindly came and picked us up and dropped us at Havant Station, where we caught the 18:06 train down to Fratton and then walked to the King's Theatre, where we were eventually met by Damien and Jamie, and made our way to our first pub, The Phoenix, and bought our first round, a pint of Oakleaf Brewery's, 'Dragon on the Floor', a 4.9% ABV dark amber ale. The aroma is quite malty, with biscuit and caramel undertones, moderately hoppy. Flavour is quite sweet with a bitter dryness and nuttiness. Quite a pleasant ale on the whole, and it must have been, since we had three pints of it before moving on to the next pub.
For more information about the Oakleaf Brewery, please click on the pump clip above.
Just over an hour later, we popped across the road to the Duke of Devonshire and I was more than happy to see that Irving & Co Brewers 'Invincible' was on there so it was without question that we'd all be drinking it. Two pints later, and feeling much better for having a familiar taste in my mouth, we decided to move on to the next pub… a sort of Rockers bar called 'Deco'. We were definitely the oldest crowd within, or it certainly felt that way, and we could barely hear ourselves think, the music was that loud. I know I sound old, after all, I used to frequent such places and think they were the best thing ever. Needless to say, we had a pint of Sharp's 'Special' and then made our way to the next pub.
We made it to The Belle Isle, where Malcolm had invited us to the launch of 'Strong Island Hopper', only we were unable to make it for various reasons, so we all ordered a pint of it, Jamie trying it for the first time and thoroughly enjoying it. We all were very taken with how nice the pub was, so much so, I shall have to provide a link to their website… please click on the logo above to find out more.
With finished off the night with a curry (as most beer sessions do) at the Jewel In The Crown, just across the road from The Belle Isle.
Friday 22nd April 2011 12:05
At last, it was Good Friday and the beginning of our eleven-day break (we'd booked the three days between Easter Monday and the Royal Wedding which is next Friday). Apparently, so many people have booked these three days off, it's costing the country's economy an estimated £5bn.
Anyway, we decided we'd enjoy our first day by going for a walk, first into Specsavers at Havant (Tanya wanted to look at possible frames for some sunglasses) and then continue down to The Royal Oak at Langstone for some lunch.
The weather is ridiculously warm for this time of year, and we've had very little rain throughout the month of April. I chose to wear shorts and a t-shirt and so glad I did, because by the time we'd walked to Havant, we both had a fair sweat on. Tanya decided on some frames remarkably quickly, I was expecting to be pitching a tent there after remembering the thousands of hours we spent choosing her glasses frames.
By the time we started walking down to the pub, we were both incredibly thirsty and hungry and luckily, there was one spare table available in the beer garden for us to sit at. Tanya ordered a hand-carved honey roast ham and chunky piccalilli on the side whilst I went with a shredded duck and hoisin wrap. Lovely. This was obviously accompanied with some 'Old Speckled Hen'.
To find out more about The Royal Oak, please click on the image that's part of their website.
From there, we then walked along the coastline, across to Warblington, making our way home, although Tanya was struggling with blisters on her feet that much, she waited near her old school on Southleigh Road whilst I walked the remaining half a mile at a crazy pace so that I could get my car and pick her up.
Thursday 21st April 2011 18:53
Today's 365 shot just happened to be another flower shot. I think flowers are incredible, especially when you begin to think about how diverse they can be in size, shape, colour and scent. The shot today is no exception.
Usually, when we buy any plants from our local garden centre, we keep the information tags that are usually pushed into the soil that the plant is in. I'm sure we must have done the same with this one, only I couldn't find it anywhere. I then decided to post it online in various places, in the hope that someone would identify it, yet didn't have any success. In the end, I emailed a very good 'online' friend of mine who identified it immediately for me.
It turned out to be quite a rare perennial plant, native to South Africa, called 'Night Phlox' or, to give it its scientific name, Zaluzianskya Capensis, named after a 16th-century Bohemian botanist, Adam Zaluziansky von Zaluzian. For any people in the know about botany, he was the first man to argue for the separation of botany from medicine and for a universal classification of plants).
All in all, there are 54 species of Zaluzianskya native to South Africa, most of which are found around Lesotho, Natal and in the Drakensberg mountains, yet few have actually been cultivated. Up until as recent as five years ago, the only people who had species of this plant were specialist collectors and growers.
It's now quite widely available as either a plant or seed, please click on the logo above if you would like to purchase seeds online.
Wednesday 20th April 2011 21:58
As with every other patron saint from the United Kingdom, I wanted to create something a little more special for the imminent St. George's Day this-coming Saturday. I'd already managed to get hold of a English flag tour t-shirt and had decided that I was going to use a Bulldog, albeit that they're associated more with Britain than England.
I'd asked work colleagues, friends, posted my plea on Facebook and various other places, to no avail. I realised that time was against me, especially as such things do need some planning and then I remembered that Havant has its own community radio station, Angel Radio. I thought that reaching out to the community in this manner can often have fruitful results, mainly because there may be people of a certain age who may not have internet access. Within minutes, Tony Smith, the founder and manager of the radio station contacted me stating, "Thanks for your request. I will put a call out tomorrow morning and, if I get a response, I'll email you." So it was fingers crossed time…
For more information about Angel Radio, please click on the logo above.
Tuesday 19th April 2011 17:03
We had some vegetarian burgers left over from when Damien was here on Sunday, and since we'd both forgotten to take something out of the freezer this morning, we decided we'd finish them off.
Available from Waitrose, the Goodlife Spicy Bean Burgers were absolutely delicious. They're Vegetarian Society approved and were the winner of the Cook Vegetarian! Veggie Awards this year.
Made with adzuki beans, kidney beans, butter beans and a colourful mix of vegetables, they're flavoured with smoky chipotle chilli and jalapeno peppers, finished off with a coating of crunchy wholemeal crumb. The other great thing is that they do not contain any artificial colours, flavours, preservatives or hydrogenated fats and are a great source of fibre.
To find out more about the Goodlife range of vegetarian foods, please click on their logo above.
Monday 18th April 2011 20:00
Felt absolutely dreadful all day, had such an intense headache that seemed to get worse and worse. I wouldn't have said I was suffering a hangover, despite how much we all had to drink yesterday, probably more a case of the stress caused whilst watching the match. Others did comment that there was a full moon last night (haven't a clue what they were trying to imply).
Anyway, even though I felt so rough, I did know that I wanted to support my Dad's Monday Night Jazz programme but I do enjoy it, and after all, he is my Dad. I'd totally forgotten (until I visited the Bolton FM website) that you can actually download a Bolton FM 'app' for your iPhone… so that's what I did. Seems so surreal that you're actually able to listen to a radio show through your 'phone! The closest I can recall to that is when me and my sister used to call, 'Dial-a-disc' and think that that was cool!
So, if you're an iPhone user and want the 'app' for Bolton FM, please click on the icon above.
Sunday 17th April 2011 16:00
It's not often where a day comes along that I'd rather just forget, yet today was one of those days. For weeks now, I'd been looking forward to the fact that my football team had made it through to the semi-finals of the FA Cup; the first time since the year 2000, when they lost 4-1 on penalties after the full-time and extra-time whistle had blown at 0-0.
Damien had walked up to watch the match with us on ESPN.
We were all set for the match, although something in the back of my mind suggested that Bolton were going to lose by one goal's deficit, whether it be 0-1 or 1-2… what happened next wasn't within my script though.
Within the first half an hour, Bolton were losing 0-3, with goals from Matthew Etherington (11), Robert Huth (17) and Kenwyne Jones (30) and it was if I was watching some other team, certainly not Bolton.
A huge feeling of despondency came over me and I struggled to watch most of the second half. I heard groans from Tanya and Damien when the fourth goal was scored by Jon Walters in the 68th minute. To add insult to injury, Walters scored yet another goal in the 81st minute and after all the hopes that Wanderers fans had of their team reaching their first final since 1958 were sadly extinguished.
It was an utterly appalling performance, one I'd prefer to removed from the recesses of my memory, especially as a victory would have been a fitting tribute to Nat Lofthouse, who sadly passed away earlier this year. Absolutely gutted.
Saturday 16th April 2011 15:41
Had a strange old day today, mainly because both Tanya and I spent about three and half hours just showing each other what cool things our phones could do! Sad, I know!
I was having some connection problems with my phone though, and it was as if I was unable to use it properly in the house, unless I was in the kitchen! I spoke to Vodafone's help desk and they informed me that I needed to update the software on it, which would hopefully alleviate the problem… trouble was, we still didn't have an internet connection.
We ended up having to go round to Abbi's so that we could access her Wi-Fi and complete there. Once I'd completed it all, Abbi then chose to do the same with her iPhone 4, only it went totally tits up because the battery on Tanya's laptop died midway through! It appeared to wipe out all of Abbi's data so we then came back round here to finish the upgrade off… only we all forgot that the whole reason for going round to Abbi's in the first place was because we didn't have an internet connection! Doh! Anyway, I'd made arrangements with Damien earlier to pay Southwick Brewhouse a visit and buy a load of real ale, in preparation for the FA Cup Semi-final between Bolton Wanderers and Stoke City.
Whilst we headed off there, it turned out that Tanya and Abbi had to drive to the Apple Store in Southampton to rectify the problem she had with her phone… oh dear!
Meanwhile, Damien and myself were enjoying a good mooch around Southwick Brewhouse. I had a strong feeling that much alcohol would be consumed during the course of tomorrow, so I bought a good few in, and once I'd dropped Damien off back home, I enjoyed a few whilst the house was empty. Strangely enough, each of the three I drank were all from Welsh breweries and all were very enjoyable indeed.
The first was called 'Rescue Brew', a 4.0% ABV ale from Breconshire Brewery. This amber-coloured bitter is brewed with Pale, Wheat, Crystal and Black malts and is hopped with Fuggles, Goldings and First Gold hops, which is why I liked it so much, because the hops have to be some of the best around for a superb hoppy aroma with a refreshing and lingering bitterness.
For more information about the brewery, please click on the bottle label above.
Next up was a slightly stronger ale, 'Premium OSB Ale' a 4.5% ABV ale from Tomos Watkin, The Hurns Brewing Co., known as the 'Great Ales of Wales'. This Old Style Biter is a rich red-coloured ale produced using pale ale, crystal and wheat malt. It's a quaffable session ale with a full, fruity citrus and hop flavour of Williamette and Fuggles hops with a light flavour of Goldings.
To find out more about this brewery, please click on the brewery logo above.
Finally, the last to be tasted was another 4.0% ABV beer called 'Challenger Ale' brewed by Tintern-based Kingstone Brewery. Named after one of the favourite hops used in real ale, it has a fruity and slightly spicy aroma whilst the taste is quite bitter and very flavoursome. A smooth and richly hopped ale with a malt nose and toffee undertones. If you're not keen on bottled ales with sediment, please pour very carefully.
And there you have it, a fine selection of Welsh ales (makes a pleasant change)… please click on the rather modest-looking logo above to find out more about the brewery.
Friday 15th April 2011 19:12
Had a rather hectic and very interesting evening tonight. Ever since Tanya bought her HTC Desire S, I realised that it was about time I updated my mobile phone, especially as I'd never really liked it from the offset… how can you like a Nokia 6500c in this day and age? Exactly.
So, before the main event of the night, we rushed down to Portsmouth, parked at Cascades and then made our way to the Vodafone store where I then made my choice. I'm a firm believer in fate… don't know if I've ever mentioned that before… we literally had half an hour for me to make my choice and it just so happened that I ended up speaking to the store manager, David.
Now then, David looked a cool kind of guy and, as many sales people do, he asked me what I was looking for. In a nutshell, I said that my sensible head was telling me to go for the HTC Desire S, since it was an affordable option and I rather liked the look and feel of it. However, I went on to say that my heart and reckless head was telling me to go for an iPhone 4, especially as I'd worked with Macs all my life. That was it, he took the bite because he'd also been brought up on Macs and suggested that I go with an iPhone, but the 3GS would be the far more sensible compromise, since it would be free with a 24 month tariff. And there ends the story… I'm now the happy owner of an iPhone 3GS, and damn sexy they are too.
For more information about the iPhone, please click on the logo above.
From there, after panicking that my car had been locked into Cascades for the night, we then drove around to Old Portsmouth to attend the launch night of the Strong Island Exhibition which was being held at The Round Tower. The Round Tower is an incredibly important building within Portsmouth and I actually included it on the Frigate pump clip for Irving & Co. Brewers Ltd. Its history actually dates back to 1418, when work on it first began, especially as the city's naval base needed to be heavily defended. The Round Tower was the first of such fortifications to be built and was completed in the 1420s. Now, the tower and surrounding area is being redeveloped into a contemporary creative quarter.
So, what about the exhibition, I hear you say… well, give me a chance! As I said, it was the launch night and it runs right through from Tuesdays until Sundays, 10am - 3pm right up until the 1st May, so make sure you take time to visit, it's free and well worth the journey. The exhibition showcases original work by over 30 local creatives who have incredible talents in illustration, photography, painting, graffiti art, textiles, graphic design and much more. There's something for everyone here, ranging from the traditional to the contemporary, with an absolutely superb representation of retro work.
To find out more about The Round Tower, or Strong Island for that matter, please click on either of the logos above.
We finished off the night by having another superb meal at the Spice Village Indian restaurant in Emsworth.
Thursday 14th April 2011 21:03
Never has one organisation exasperated me that much, that I actually want to hunt down the call centre staff I'm talking to and kick the living fucking daylights out of them… we are talking about Virgin Media here.
For months and months, we've had days where our internet connection has been down, we've had peabrained pricks on the other end of the 'phone, asking us to follow procedures, whilst engineers who are called out are telling us a completely different story. We know what the problem is, imbecilic engineers keep swapping our connection with someone else who's struggling with their connection, so they're basically shifting shit from one place to another. Top and bottom of it is that they're a total turmoil of fatuous fuckers who are speaking to you from India in pigeon-English and have total disregard for any problems you may be encountering.
I ended up speaking to three of the wankers last night (it may well have been one, they all sounded the same to me) and not one of them offered an apology or any form of reimbursement. We're sick to death of their service and wouldn't recommend it to anyone. In actual fact, I'm talking bollocks by describing it as a service, it's more like an 'Unhelpful Line' than anything. So, what's the outcome? Well, an engineer will be coming out on Monday. Monday? Fucking Monday? Useless, bone idle, incompetent twats. I feel as if I have put my point across now, apart from one last thing.
If you're expecting a link to your website on here, you can shove it up your arse.
Wednesday 13th April 2011 16:39
As I said, some time time last month, ever since finishing fifth overall in the Amateur Photographer of the Year competition in 2000, I've always told myself to see if I could equal or better it… unfortunately a distinct lack of commitment has failed me since. So, having entered last month's competition, I thought I'd make sure I entered this month's as well.
The theme for this month's competition is 'Streets and Walkways' and I thought that one of my 365s from last month would perfectly fit the bill. By hovering your mouse over the logo above, it will reveal my entry.
Please click on the logo to find out more about future rounds.
Tuesday 12th April 2011 07:11
Google's home page was graced with yet another superb graphic this morning (they've had some excellent ones recently, commemorating all kinds of events). Fifty years ago, to the very day, Yuri Gagarin became the first human to enter space, and Google marked the anniversary with a very cool Google doodle. I tried to download it, however it was made up of two files, a static jpg and an animated PNG which looked very peculiar when you downloaded it, and somehow, the brainaics at Google had made it into some cool animation.
This major achievement clearly consolidated a victory for the USSR (as Russia was known back then) in the space race with their American rivals, although America would go on to beat them to the moon landing some eight years later.
In 1960, having joined the Soviet Air Force, the ex-farm worker was one of 20 pilots chosen to join the Soviet space programme, later reduced to an elite training group known as the Sochi Six.
He then went on to be chosen to pilot the Vostok 1 mission at the age of just 27. His spacecraft orbited the Earth once in his 108 minute mission and landed safely after ejecting at 23,000ft and launching his parachute.
His accomplishments meant he instantly became a Soviet hero and an international celebrity, travelling the world to promote the Soviet Union’s achievement, which also included a visit to the UK.
Gagarin only made one trip into space, and later began training as a fighter pilot. A crash on a training flight in a Mig 15 cost him his life at the age of just 34.
I thought it would be very apt to point you to a film of Gagarin's first orbit of space, please click on the Google logo above to watch it.
Monday 11th April 2011 15:24
For my 365 shot today, I spotted a fingerpost and decided that that would make a good subject. Having done so, I decided I'd do a little research into how they came about. The name is given to traditional British and Irish sign posts that comprise of a main post and have one or more arms, known as 'fingers', pointing in the direction of the named places on those fingers. They are typically made from either cast-iron or wood with the fingers usually being painted white with black lettering, often indicating the distance in miles to the named destination.
Remarkably enough, legislation was enacted as far back as 1697 which enabled magistrates to place direction posts at cross-highways. Having said that though, the oldest fingerpost still in existence is dated 1669 and is close to Chipping Campden in Gloucestershire, pointing to Oxford, Warwick, Gloucester and Worcester. The use of fingerposts on turnpike roads became compulsory with the introduction of The Highways Act 1766 and Turnpike Roads Act 1773 and it wasn't until The Motor Car Act 1903 that the road sign responsibilities were passed to the relevant highway authority, although no specifications were set.
Fingers can be square-ended (such as in Cornwall and Norfolk), curved (as in Dorset) or triangular-ended (as is common in Somerset). Due to the age of some fingerposts, the historic spelling of some place names have changed. Examples include 'Portisham', as opposed to the modern spelling 'Portesham' and the even more intriguing pre-decimal '6D Handley' for 'Sixpenny Handley' in Dorset.
And there ends my unusual blog about the history of the fingerpost.
So rather than lead you to some lame link that has very little interest, I thought I'd share a great photography site put together by Steve Salcedo who lives in northern Indiana. He basically takes photographs of street signs and traffic lights… and there really are some brilliant images to see… click on my fingerpost above to see for yourself.
Sunday 10th April 2011 10:08
Had another trip into Portsmouth today, since Tanya had decided once and for all that was going to buy the new HTC Desire S smartphone. It meant us driving to the Cascades Shopping Centre because she thought she may as well check to see if O2 had one in stock, if not, there was always the option of driving on to Southsea.
It just so happened that they did have the 'phone she wanted, so it was just a case of buying it. I have to say, they do look very nice indeed, although I'd feel as if I'd be betraying Apple if I went for anything other than an iPhone. What pisses me off slightly is when PC users buy an iPhone… I just don't quite get it to be honest. Why have an iPhone and have a shite PC? It's a bit like someone suddenly saying they've been a lifelong fan of a band because they've had recent success, yet they hadn't realised the band had released nine previous albums. If I owned Apple, I'd say to the consumers, "Look, if you have never owned an Apple computer, you can't by an iPod or an iPhone… it's simple as that. You can however, own an iPad if you so wish, because they're as crappy as PCs."
Anyway, I've had my rant about people who don't deserve to own an iPhone so I'll now provide you with a link to the O2 website, so please click on the logo above.
During the afternoon, I sat down to design a logo that I'd promised to design for my Mum. It was in aid of the Parish church in the village of Blackrod, where I used to live. Now then, I may well have touched on the fact that I'm not religious at all, yet I do think churches are absolutely incredible buildings and the spiritual feeling when inside them is very uplifting. I just don't believe in what draws people there, it's a make-believe story that's totally preposterous. If someone claimed to be the equivalent of Jesus in this day and age, they'd probably be locked up for mental instability. Still, whatever floats your boat… too many credulous people in the world, if you ask me.
Apologies for being in a cantankerous mood today, I don't mean to be, it's just that I've chosen to talk about two subjects that I have strong views about. Anyway, back to the logo design… sadly, the east wall and stained-glass window is in a serious state of collapse and needs repairing as soon as possible. At the moment, there is a strange contraption there (see image above, taken by my Mum) which is part of some special scaffolding that's a temporary restraint for about a year. This is there to hold the wall in place until permanent repairs can be made and unfortunately these cannot be done until the Friends of St. Katharine's Church have raised enough money to do so. My parents, along with a few other people I know are trying different ways to raise money, otherwise this would have serious implications on a church that is undoubtedly an iconic landmark.
Please click on the logo I designed to find out more about St. Katharine's Church in Blackrod.
Saturday 9th April 2011 09:04
During the week, Malcolm at Irving & Co. Brewers asked (and announced) that he will be holding his first beer festival in October. It will be being held at The Groundlings Theatre, relatively near The Hard in Portsmouth. The building has an awful lot of history surrounding it and has recently been renovated and reopened in February, having survived a tragic fire caused by a firework. On the 20th May 2010 the building opened as Groundlings Theatre, ready to host its drama school, wardrobe, education centre and offering an exciting new arts space for Portsmouth and the local community.
The building has so much history, it's difficult to know where to start… but here goes… In 1754 in the Shakespeare's Head, John Shakespear and five other gentleman formed the Beneficial Society, whose initial purpose was to support each other in times of affliction. A shilling a month was collected and the money was kept safely in a chest which had five locks. The society decided that on the occasion of there being more money than was needed for the initial intention, it would be used to help to school poor children from the local area of Portsea. Some thirty years later, a plot of land was purchased in Old Rope Walk for the princely sum of £280. On this land was built the impressive building that still stands here today, fondly known as the Old Benny. The downstairs hall was then used as the classroom while the upstairs hall was kept available by the Society for meetings, concerts and theatre.
In 1812, a heavily pregnant Elizabeth Dickens was attending a dance in this very hall when she went into labour. She was rushed to her home in Old Commercial Road where she gave birth to her son, Charles Dickens. Other claims to fame include a former student of this establishment who emigrated to Australia in 1840 and was seven times Premier of South Australia. This was Sir Henry Ayres after whom Ayres Rock was famously named.
In 1939 the school was closed due to the outbreak of World War II and was re-opened in 1945 under Portsmouth City Council as a junior school. During the War a nazi sympathiser was caught on the roof directing bombers with a flashlight to the dockyard. The school was finally closed in 1962, when the building became a youth training centre until 2004 when a fire nearly destroyed he building.
The Old Benny is also One of Portsmouth's most haunted buildings, playing host to several friendly spirits. You may hear little George on the staircase or Emily in the schoolroom, but remember to be silent in front of Headmaster Archibald Mills.
To find out more about what's on in the coming months, please click on the logo above.
We spent quite some time there, and Raif, the young chap who showed us around was more than helpful, pointing out interesting facts along the way and leaving us to have a good old snoop around. We took a lot of photographs so I'll try to sort them out and upload them somewhere.
After spending a good hour or more there, we then headed to Southsea seafront for some breakfast at Rocksbys. We'd walked past there on numerous occasions, yet we'd never set foot in the place before. What a very pleasant surprise… we'd almost expected a 'greasy spoon' yet it was nicely decorated with very friendly staff.
Open every day from 10am, Rocksbys Restaurant and Coffee Lounge is situated on Southsea beach front, surrounded by colourful floral gardens and overlooks the sea, with a view of the Isle of Wight on the horizon. It caters for quick snacks, coffees, cakes or main meals and even has a kiosk at the front if you're in too much of a hurry to sit down and relax indoors.
Please click on the logo above to find out more or to download their menu.
From there, we then chilled out in the sun on the beach front for an hour or more before heading off home and spending the rest of the day chilling out. Oh, and Bolton notched a superb 3-0 win against West Ham United, further sealing their Premiership survival, with two goals from Daniel Sturridge, the other coming from Chung Yong Lee.
Friday 8th April 2011 08:40
Woke up at 01:30 this morning with too many ideas milling around in my head. One of them was putting the finishing touches to the 'Captain B' pump clip, a spiced rum ale that Irving & Co. Brewers have just won the gold medal for at the recent Winchester Real Ale and Cider Festival. Whilst 'Captain B' isn't a regular ale, Malcolm has brewed the odd cask here and there for some pubs so one day you may be able to see this particular clip in local pubs, but for the moment it will only be appearing at beer festivals.
The spiced rum ale actually began as a joke. It was suggested to Malcolm that he did a beer called Captain Buggernuts, to which he replied, "I will NEVER do a beer called Captain Buggernuts!" The strong sweet and spicy taste of the Caribbean proved otherwise. Flavours of cinnamon and vanilla dominate, with dark sugar notes… not a quaffing ale, more of one to take your time with.
As well as beating 64 other ales at the Winchester Real Ale and Cider Festival just last month, Captain B also won beer of the festival at Haslemere Beer Festival back in September 2009, beating around 50 other beers.
Please click on the Captain B pump clip above to find out more about Irving & Co. Brewers.
Thursday 7th April 2011 16:31
My word, this week's been phenomenally busy. Despite knowing I had a mammoth job to do, in the recesses of my mind, I seemed to recall that Malcolm at Irving & Co. Brewers had haphazardly invited me to taste the new beer that he's brewing, called 'Strong Island Hopper'. Now then, this ale isn't a conventional one, in many ways. First of all, it's not his own recipe, although he has made a few of his own tweaks along the way. Nor does its name slot into any sort of naval theme. And finally, since it's a Strong Island own brand, they've designed the pump clip themselves. So all in all, not your standard Irving ale.
I may sound negative about this ale, but one thing it is is a damn fine one!
This deep golden 4.5% ABV premium ale is very fruity to the nose, with hints of strawberries and apricots from the Styrian Bobek hops used in the hop back. Brewed with Munich malt, it has a distinct dryness to it, not dissimilar to some red wines. The Beer has an abundance of soft fruits on the palate with a crisp toasted malt character. The finish is a smooth malty sweetness with a lasting subtle bitterness. The after notes are fruity and biscuity and most definitely a quaffing ale, no doubt!
The official launch of the ale takes place this coming Thursday at the Belle Isle on Osbourne Road in Southsea, if any readers are interested in helping with the festivities. Just wish I'd designed the pump clip… sadly it doesn't look like any of the other pump clips, but then again, I guess it's not intended to...
Wednesday 6th April 2011 10:23
In today's market, the quintessential tool for putting your name out there has to be the internet. Huge companies such as McDonalds, Coca-Cola and Nike even feel it necessary to further their presence by using social media. So what happens if all your web-content suddenly disappears or becomes corrupt and you haven't backed up your endless hours of hard work?
Well, without going into too much detail, it's actually happened to someone I know. Devastated isn't the word, especially as the start and possible height of the business is around this time of year. Obviously there are ways and means of retrieving certain information, via such devices as Way Back Machine (I blogged about it in March of last year) but unfortunately it only finds files from five years or more ago.
So what if you're looking for something far more recent? Well, there are obviously several large search engines out there that can help with your quest, the trouble is, the larger ones such as Google regularly update their page caches, so as long as you're really quick (we're talking a matter of days), there's every chance that that information could also be lost.
Thankfully, there is one other comprehensive way of retrieving your lost pages and that's via a website (and application program) I'd never heard of until this week. Sadly though, before all you Mac users get over-excited (like I did), it's only available for Windows and Linux (Who the fuck uses Linux? - Ed).
Warrick is a free utility for reconstructing (or recovering) a website when a back-up is not available. Warrick will search the following web repositories for missing resources: Internet Archive, Google, Bing (formerly Live Search), and Yahoo. All of the resources are gathered together and provided to you as a single collection of files, but please read their disclaimer.
To find out more, or download the necessary PC shite, please click on the logo above.
Tuesday 5th April 2011 17:37
Had an intensely busy day today, compiling a tender for a potential new client at the place where I freelance. Much of it is to do with corporate clothing and it meant me creating visuals of every item of clothing, three tie designs and an artwork featuring a male and female wearing the full uniform.
This meant redrawing actual garments from several different clothing suppliers, around six in all, one of which was called Skopes. There's something distinctly regal-looking about their logo, and whilst it's nothing particularly different, I just like the authentic feel of it. Not only that, the company was established in the same year my Mum was born.
As well as being a major supplier of corporate image clothing, Leeds-based Skopes has a long and successful track record in supplying garments to leading high street retailers, department stores and mail order companies. It is this diversity that enables the company to support a large stock holding for corporatewear customers, with the benefit of economies of scale to keep prices low, as well as the knowledge and design skills to keep abreast of the latest trends in styles and fabrics.
Please click on the logo above to find out more about the company, or to download their latest brochure.
Monday 4th April 2011 07:42
Rushed around like an idiot today. The Managing Director of where I freelance is going to be 50-years-old tomorrow and, since he has an obsession with mountain bikes, it was decided that I create some artwork to signify both his age and his passion, as well as incorporating that he's a massive Mac fan as well. It took some hunting around on the internet to find 'bikey' puns, although I knew I wanted to create a sort of iPod-style artwork, using the standard Apple font, Myriad.
Anyway, we printed a t-shirt for him which had the above graphic on the front and then some further quips on the reverse… the back read, 'how else does a fifty-year-old man get to wear lycra?', followed by a made up web address underneath, 'funbetweenyourlegs.com'.
Since I'd had such a hectic day, especially the stress of creating the artwork for printing, cutting it and printing it whilst he was on his lunch, I cracked open a bottle of ale that I'd not tried before. I bought it from Sainsbury's yesterday and it's brewed by The Boston Beer Company, Samuel Adams. The bottle of 'Boston Lager' is roughly the same size as a bottle of Budweiser and is 4.8% ABV.
Taste-wise, it's obviously very lager-like but not as ridiculously gaseous as some you can buy. The great thing about the Americans is that they do know how to brew an extremely good lager and this is no exception, it's full-flavoured with hops and malt, yet balanced and quite complex.
To find out more about the brewery, please click on the logo above (apologies in advance though, it's one of those sites where you have to prove your age, as well as it asking for your year of birth, twice!)
Sunday 3rd April 2011 14:29
Today was Mothering Sunday and I'd already sent my Mum some garden vouchers earlier in the week, and although she says it's boring, I'd sooner buy somebody something they want. Whilst at our local garden centre, I also spotted an absolutely beautiful flower which is surprisingly related to the Buttercup, of all flowers, and it was called a Ranunculus. Since Tanya had felt so rough during the week, suffering with dreadful bouts of dizziness and nausea, I thought I'd buy it her as a way of making her feel better.
Since my trip to the garden centre centred around Mother's Day, I took a photo of the flower as today's 365.
Just before midday, Abbi came to pick Tanya up and they went off for lunch whilst I decided to opt out of going. There were two reasons really, the first was a money issue, the second was the fact that it was really a day about them, not me. Whilst I had some time on my hands, I decided to nip to Sainsbury's and see if I could buy a rolling pin (yes, up until I moved down here, Tanya had used a glass) and some baking beans, because it was time to tackle another quiche this week.
I'd have expected the baking beans to be within the baking section in Sainsbury's and had an idea that the rolling pin would be within the home section, so I asked a very helpful assistant who took me to the home section, located the rolling pins and, lo and behold, the baking beans were right next to them, although she did remark that she never knew Sainsbury's sold them, which made me feel less of a numpty and at least gave some purpose to this inane babble of a sentence.
Anyway, enough of the boring detail, I'm just trying to pad out what was a fairly uneventful day, plus our fucking internet is down so I don't have the enjoyment of catching up on 'stuff'. So, these baking beans weren't exactly beans (some you can buy are) they were ceramic ones. They're used to pack the 'inside' of pastry whilst you're cooking it so that shrinkage doesn't occur during baking. Not only that, they conduct heat during the backing, allowing it to be evenly cooked. And they're reusable.
They're manufactured by Tala and are available via the George East website… please click on the logo above and the link will direct you straight to the Tala Retro section… there's some well cool stuff available.
Once Tanya and Abbi came back home, they'd decided we should sit down and watch a film together (Another one! - Ed) and after about the duration of a standard film, we finally came to a decision. Unfortunately, we have a conflict of interests… Tanya and Abbi like romantic films, Abbi and I love horrors and anything that makes you jump and Abbi also likes the trite American trash films. Luckily though, we all love action and adventure films… so 'Game of Death' it was.
Now then, you're usually on to a winner with Wesley Snipe films, although in this instance, we were sadly mistaken. It's nothing to do with his performance, after all, for an action-type guy, he's a good actor. It was down to Giorgio Serafini's directing of it and how it had been filmed. All very pretentious. The storyline was acceptable, yet again though, it wasn't original. Having said all of that, there were some pretty good fight scenes throughout.
There's also a dreadful factual error in the vault scene… Redvale says "There you go. A hundred million in hundred-dollar bills", yet the scene shows only two large bags full of money, when in fact it would be 1 million bills to equal that amount of money in hundreds and would take up much more room - probably filling the entire vault.
Anyway, to find out more about the movie, please click on the movie poster above.
Saturday 2nd April 2011 17:38
Didn't get out of bed until quite late this morning, well, late for us anyway. Not only that, we hadn't really discussed what we were going to do today, that was until Abbi 'phoned up and asked us if we had any stale bread. A strange request, you might think, only she was looking after the two toddlers she regularly has on Saturdays. Once she came round, she said she was off to Emsworth with them, and did we fancy coming… so we joined her (and them).
On the way there, I popped into Tesco Express just to buy a cheap loaf so that we had plenty of bread to go around between the five of us. The eldest of the two brothers is incredibly bright for his age and I started to tell him about some of the birds we could see, such as Mute Swans, Coots, Mallards and Black-headed Gulls. I told him about the connection between our Queen and Mute Swans and went on to tell him about how Black-headed Gulls actually 'lose' their black heads during wintertime. What astounded me was how interested he was and how quickly he retained the information!
Whilst walking around the Mill Pond, I noticed an old 1930 Ford Model A and just had to take some photographs of it for my 365… I chose one in particular that was my favourite, yet I thought I'd show a couple of the others I took as well.
We then enjoyed a delicious lunch at the Greenhouse Café in the centre, a place I've talked about on a regular basis, although it's somewhere we'd not been to for quite some time. We then parted company from there and, once home, I suddenly realised just how much the two little chaps had worn me out!
Later in the day, I suggested we just chill out and watch a film. A colleague of mine had recommended one so we looked to see if it was available via Virgin Media's-own Filmflex. It was.
The American action-comedy film is loosely inspired by the three-issue comic book series of the same name, created by Warren Ellis and Cully Hamner, which is published by the DC Comics imprint Homage. Released on October 15 2010, it stars Bruce Willis, Mary-Louise Parker, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich, Helen Mirren and Karl Urban.
The film's name is derived from the status of agent Frank Moses (Willis), meaning 'Retired, Extremely Dangerous'… so yes, you've guessed it, the film is called 'RED'. Now then, I have to say that it's not the best film I've ever seen, in fact it's downright corny at times, but that's the whole point of it, it's meant to be tongue-in-cheek humour and it works extremely well. It's not meant to be a serious film, yet it possesses some superb action and fighting throughout. Definitely worth a score of 7/10.
Rather than ruin the plot or the outcome, please click on the movie poster above where you can view excerpts of the film and even buy it on DVD, if you so wish to.
Friday 1st April 2011 16:06
In recognition of it being April Fool's Day today, Google played a designer-based prank whereby if you typed in 'Helvetica' into its search bar, the font throughout the whole page changed to Comic Sans.
Comic Sans has been one of the main menaces of any self-respecting designer out there (me being one) and one particular site I spoke about a couple of years ago was actually developed to prove this point, 'bancomicsans.com'. But, as much as we hate Comic Sans, we do love Helvetica, possibly one the best fonts ever created. Google doesn't care much for aesthetics though, it relies on cold hard facts.
"Following some rigorous user testing of 41 different fonts, investigating how each affected user experience, we discovered one font consistently outperformed all others when it comes to user satisfaction, level of engagement, understanding web content, productivity, click-through rates and conversion rates: Comic Sans," Google explained.
Today, Google was looking to convert everyone to this belief. If you searched for 'helvetica' you had a surprise, the entire site's text converted to Comic Sans rather than the standard font. Since Friday though, it's reverted to its standard font, but Google has a solution if you want a more permanent change as well, just install the Comic Sans for Everyone extension for Google Chrome and every site you ever visit will be transformed with the totally shitty font.
Please click on the screenshot above to download the extension.