Archive for March 2010

Big Day at Bear Rock

Posted by on March 28th 2010 in Congratulations!, Great Escapes

It was Anna's 11th birthday last Sunday. As part of the celebrations we took her and six of her friends to The Bear Rock Indoor Climbing Centre at The University of Warwick for a two-hour session, where a good time was had by all.

Here she is, doing well on the first route:

Click the above to access all 41 pics.

I’m dreaming of a White… Easter

Posted by on March 27th 2010 in Great Escapes, Weather

Yup, according to MWIS and other sources, the cold white stuff is forecast to fall far and wide during the next week and over Easter.

It's just pure luck that two months ago we booked a couple of family-rooms at Windermere YHA for next weekend. Jammy, eh?

Should be fun. At least the choccy eggs won't melt 😎

If I’ve told you once…

Posted by on March 26th 2010 in LMAO!, Shiny new kit

This morning I nipped out to the local Lidl to nab one of these Keter storage boxes:

Bearing in mind that the assembly of this thing isn't a complex operation (there are only eight parts and they clip together in a foolproof fashion), I reckon that the provision of 89 identical sets of printed instructions is a bit over-the-top...


No smoke without fire

Posted by on March 24th 2010 in In the News
Tags: , ,


It's a dirty, expensive habit. Aside from the much-touted health risks there are the other issues - the stained teeth, the bad breath, the smelly clothes...

Yeah, it's a bad thing.

And yet I still smoke. I'm not ignorant of the facts and don't need some nanny-state "expert" to keep ramming said facts down my windpipe at every opportunity. I'm intelligent enough to make my own decisions regarding my habits, and let's face it, it is a legal habit. It's not as if I'm a crack-head, a weed-smoker or a line-snorter. I'm a lightweight by comparison - I only do tobacco.

Opportunities for smoking have been curtailed by the powers that be, so that I'm no longer allowed to smoke in the pub, in the workplace, in any enclosed public space. According to the signs at the local hospital, I'm not allowed to partake outside in their unenclosed open-air car-park (I can, however, legally stand in their car-park and breathe in all of those noxious fumes from the cars, lorries and ambulances etc.). The same holds true at the local doctors' surgery. At home I have set my own restriction to smoke outside. That said, if the weather is inconvenient, I can get a dispensation to smoke in the corner of the back room so long as either the adjacent back door is open, or the extractor-fan is on. Failing that, I have the option to sit in my car and fumigate myself therein.

Now there's this push to ban smoking in cars with children. In my opinion that's no bad thing, but I'd be interested to see some facts, or at a push some stats, comparing the dangers that kids face due to cars. I'd hazard a guess that more kids die or become seriously injured due to piss-poor driving, drivers under the influence of drink, drugs or mobile phones, vehicle-failure due to inadequate maintenance, lack of use of appropriate child-restraints etc. than would ever die or become seriously ill due to the effects of passive smoking in cars. Like I said, it's just a guess. Give me the figures and prove me wrong.

Fine, I say, let's have that ban, it makes sense. But what about the other proposal, to ban smoking in all vehicles (even when there are no other occupants)? I can see there being civil-liberty battles if that one floats to the top of the gazunder. If an Englishman's home is his castle, surely his car is his tank/troop-carrier/assault-vehicle? The emphasis there is on the "his". The inside of my car isn't a public place, it's a private place, and when I'm the sole occupant it's my private place. Don't like it? Tough.

Let's face it, these piecemeal bans are the signs of Governments with no bottle. If smoking really is as bad as they say, they should have the courage of their convictions and ban it. Totally. It shouldn't be difficult for them, they're good at banning things like 100 watt bulbs and all frosted bulbs (which aren't as energy-inefficient as initially supposed, as the heat produced by them in the home reduces the level of central-heating required), and iodine and sodium chlorate, both of which are perfectly safe when used by a competent person for a legitimate task. Yet you don't see them banning things like unhealthy food (in order to fight the war against obesity) and light-pollution (it's heartening to know that a fair proportion of the rates that you pay for street-lighting goes towards the pointless illumination of the sky rather than the street, isn't it?).

Oh yes, silly me, I was forgetting the tax-man's take on these issues. There's not much revenue to be had from light-bulbs, iodine and weed-killer. According to various sources of information freely-available on the internet (and so not listed here), it appears that the revenue from tobacco is somewhere between four and five times the cost of smoking-related illnesses to the NHS, and I'm assuming that that factor will be greater after today's budget.

Now here's a thought: if the Chancellor was to drastically reduce the revenue from tobacco (cut it by, say, 75%), then he could claim with much justification that smoking is too much of a strain on the NHS, and any actions taken as a consequence of that (such as a ban) would be hard to argue against. Hmm...

I could go on, but I'm busy today. I'm off outside for another smoke - it's part of my duty as a supporter of the economy :mrgreen:

Quality > Quantity

Posted by on March 9th 2010 in In the News
Tags: ,

According to this Beeb News story, the Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR) says "The government's target to get 50% of under-30s into higher education has "driven down standards and devalued the currency of a degree and damaged the quality of the university experience... The focus must shift back to quality rather than quantity..."

Told you so.

Hopefully common-sense will prevail. Time will tell.

Holy sh1t, it’s Viper!

Posted by on March 5th 2010 in Camera kit, Rambling on...

It's a bit bigger than a Crumpler bag and a bit smaller than a shop...

and definitely NOT for Jessiehiking with cameras...

More details here.

You'll have got the movie reference, eh?

(Late edit: just wanted to reassure you that I didn't acquire one of these megapacks.)

Grub up!

Posted by on March 3rd 2010 in My reviews

I've been battling my way through some handy-sized pouched meals with a view to assessing their suitability as day-hiking food. There's a good range of options, including veggie meals. As you can see, they're supposed to be microwaved, but I've been treating then as boil-in-the-bag meals and they do reheat very well. The packaging fits neatly into the Jetboil mug and doesn't to taint or tinge the boiling water, so I'm finding it OK to use just the one Jetboil burn for both a hot snack and a brew. Each pack contains 200g of whatever, so it's one for a snack or two (or one with something else) for a meal.

The results? Well, they're not exactly gourmet meals but they are quite tasty and filling. The Bombay Potatoes are rather odd, being in a tomato-based sauce which makes it a curious concoction, but it's still good to eat. Overall the contents of the range are not bad considering the prices (49p to 99p according to the current offer). There is plenty of variety to choose from, this is just a small sample of what's on offer:



Tomorrow I'll have the pleasure of testing either the Vegetable Chilli or the Meatballs & Vegetables in Gravy.

You'll notice that I've blanked-out the retailer's name. That's because they've not been bothered to reply to my requests for further information regarding these products. Seems like some businesses don't care much for free publicity.

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