Wednesday, December 26, 2012

I was just a card

Boxing day and my forth Christmas lunch of the year. First one my parents made as a treat for myself and Kath at my Brithday. The second was the works Christmas do and the final two Christmas day at my parents and today the final boxing day using up the leftovers meal.

Today marks one whole year since I proposed to +Kath Borkowska, it was one of the best days in my life. I can still remember the nervous preparation the ring arrived on the last day of postage before Christmas, with Kath arriving on boxing day. I can also still picture the excited surprised expression on her face when I asked the question. I think up until the moment I produced the ring that she thought it was some sort of joke. The wedding is in August, I can't wait thought there is an awful lot of organising to be done beforehand.

I got some nice gifts this year, Nina and Bruce got me some new touch screen gloves, they are even better than my old ones (and look slighlty less geeky). Paul got me Lord of the Rings Trilogy for Xbox, mum gave me some Polish Zloty for my New Years trip to Poland.

Kath bought me a Samsung Galaxy Note II, unfortunately I have to date not received this, despite the fact that Kath sent early December (it arrived in the UK on the 4th December). In the same timeframe, I sent Kath a Nexus 7, she had it used it for a week until it broke. She sent it back to the UK I received it and sent it back for replacement yet I still have no idea when the Note II will arrive ( or even if). My current phone (an 21 month old Samsung Nexus S) Samsung kept rebooting itself so I decided to purchase a Nexus 4.

The Christmas dinners at my parents consisted of turkey, cranberry sauce, pig in blankets, sausage meat, sprouts, carrots and swede, baked parsnips, baked potatoes, chestnut stuffing topped with gravy. It was incredibly tasty and there were even some extra sausages for Mr Storm.

I was so full after both meals I spent the afternoon afterwards ina  sort of food induced coma watching TV. I watched the latest Bourne film, I found it OK mildly entertaining for a lazy evenings watching.

Tomorrow is my grandmas funeral, quite a sombre occasion, I don't think I had ever been to a funeral before David's, now it's two in a month. Hopefully it will be a cathartic event and allow us to relate good memories of her life.

I have to work tomorrow afternoon, another day in an empty office. Not ideal but due to the job change, I start at Civica on the 7th Jan finishing at Close Brothers on the 14th left me with an employment gap which I am filling with some extra time for my previous employer. It isn't ideal but it will help bridge the gap and pay for my New Year trip to Poland.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012


Yesterday was Christmas Eve but unfortunately having no holiday left I worked, in a nearly empty office. I was slightly surreal but at least I managed to get a piece of work done in peace. 
Last night was Christmas Eve so I met up with the with everyone for some drinks. I grabbed a lift to Revolution with Nick and Jono, and he wasn't staying though just acting as chauffeur.
+Paul Aiden Craddock, +Ian Brook , +matt wooller  and Dan were already in there having left early to get a table.

It was still fairly early when we arrived and the place was pretty empty. Fortunately as we arrived so did a hoard of other people. Including on the table next to us a table full of girls dressed as the nutcracker sweet, apparently it was the only costume available for seven people.

Everyone was in good spirits. Woller was in a good mood he was telling me about his Yoga. Paul about his ongoing music work. Its probably the most I have spoken to Woller in ages. Danny was he usual boisterous self. Ian and Dan are were on the hunt for

+Philip Hadfield +caroline kedian and +Bruce Tonge turned up a little later. Phil was subdued, though Caroline made the best of it considering it was nearly all guys.

Revolution got increasingly busy, oddly I noticed Monkey boy Roberts sat with a group in the corner. I was going to go over and say hello right until one of them pushed in front of my at the bar. Annoyingly I think its someone else I went to school with, though he was a lot less pushy back then. I don't think any of them recognised me so I decided it might not be the best plan to sidle up and say hello.

It looks like Nick and Becky are back to being an item, she gave he and I a lift home in her Range Rover evoke, very nice wheels.  We left fairly early, leaving Dan, Paul, Wooler and Ian behind I hear that Paul and Dan managed to come to blows! Fortunately turned out to be a spur of the moment thing all forgotten in the morning.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Why I like and loath Freegal

Freegal is a free and legal group in which you can offer unused items to other members, so that they go to another home rather than landfill. Freegal is simply replacement for the Wilmslow Freecycle I previously recommended

In principal I think this is a great idea. I find it very difficult to take perfectly serviceable items to the tip so they often sit around the house for a long time. Plus after having a lot of hassell selling items on ebay and with all the fees or with anything expensive to post it is often not worthwhile to sell.

Recently I had some items from my grandma's flat to dispose of including a miniature dishwasher. I listed this on Freegal and before I knew it I have 23 people  wanting the item. According to the Freegl principals the idea is to only offer or request not to put in any message about why you need the item. The idea is simply to find homes for items based on offer and desire not to personalise or sway the decision.

There is also Fair offer policy (FOP) to see what responses are received before deciding who to give item(s) to. This gives members on Daily Digest, or those who don't have continual access to the Internet a fair chance to reply.

Here are a selection of the responses;

"I would so much appreciate this please.  Am a single mum & having some help with that chore would make such a difference".

"I'm a carer for my bed bound mum. Your small dishwasher would be really really handy for me when I'm up at her house. I often find myself stood at my mums sink doing the pots, then have to come home and do the dishes at home too. This would be ideal and would save me so much time ".

It puts a lot of pressure on the poster, but how to make a good decision one of the other poster might have similar problems? Therefore I always put all the names into a spreadsheet and use the random function to pick a name, I think that is the fairest way.


The last few weeks have been up and down. There was good news as several of my friends had children or announced they were pregnant. That has been tempered by the deaths of several people, my grandmother died last Friday. In a way at was a release she had been very unwell and was suffering, however it still felt very ghoulish clearing out her flat. This followed the death of Philips father, whoes funerial I had attended Thursday. Then Kath Aunt died, so a sad time at what is normally a happy time of the year.

Last night I went out for a curry with Jo and Paul, was a nice evening good food, nice chat, very relaxing. Paul was in good form telling us about his trip to Sweden and how he has got back into running

I finally got a replacement phone, a Google Nexus 4. I am very happy with it. It zips along much faster than my previous Nexus S, the screen is gorgeous nearly edge to edge in Gorilla Glass. The new version of Android follows the evolution of the operating system, making it slicker and more integrated. The cards feature is a real innovation, Cards dynamically display depending on location and recent searchs. For example if I record an item in my calendar I get a reminder to leave in order to beat the traffic, updated in real time. 

There is still no sign of the Galaxy Note II that Kath sent me, according to the tracking it arrived in the UK on the 4th yet it hasn't moved from the warehouse. Whilst waiting for it, I have sent Kath her Google Nexus 7 to Poland. Unfortunately it developed a fault, so she sent it back to the UK and I returned it to Google and got a replacement. So something tells me that the Note has been lost in transit.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Shake it out

I met up with Phil, Bruce, and Nina for a Drink in Cheadle Hulme last night. Bruce has finished his contract in Cheltenham and starts a new job in Warrington next week. They had gone for a meal together using the vouchers Jo and Holly gave them as a thank you for helping out doing their photography at their wedding.

Phil came and picked me up after visiting his parents, unfortunately when we got to his place he realised that he had left his keys at his parents. He dropped me at the John Millington where Bruce and Nina were enjoying a post dinner drink.

Bruce seemed pretty happy about not living away, and Nina seemed in a great mood. She was looking very nice having grown her hair a little longer which suits her very well.

There was a big wedding party in and the pub was very busy. We had a sit under the heater outside enjoying a few drinks and a chat.

I took the train home, the weather has gone quiet cold, I felt a chill stood on the platform.

Saturday, October 13, 2012


After a lot of deliberation I finally decided to change my car. The Focus I bought as a cheap stop gap back in 2008 after my Saab bit the dust. At the time I had just bought my house, and then been put onto a four day week at work so my funds were extremely depleted.

Kath had been over on the weekend, so we went to view the car together. A 2008 model Nissan Qasqhai. It was really nice and we were both very  impressed. It had no marks, and all the options I bearly bought it on the spot but decided to have dinner and think about it.

Dinner was Mexican at Chiqutos, I had the jambalaya.  After dinner we headed into Manchester to catch Radiohead at the Manchester Arena. They were supported by Carribou, who provided an excellent warm up. Radiohead were awesome, highlights were Paranoid Android and Everything In Its Right Place it made me want to listen to all there old albums again. They did three encores finally finishing on a high with Idioteque. As usual for Radiohead the sounds was super clear, and the lighting effects were really impressive. They had a series of screens with their images projected on. Which moved around during the performance.

Set List
  • Lotus Flower 
  • Airbag
  • Bloom 
  • The Daily Mail
  • Myxomatosis 
  • The Gloaming 
  • Separator
  • These Are My Twisted Words
  • Pyramid Song 
  • Nude
  • Weird Fishes/Arpeggi
  • Reckoner
  • There There
  • The National Anthem 
  • Feral 
  • Paranoid Android
  • You And Whose Army? 
  • Full Stop
  •  Morning Mr Magpie
  • Planet Telex
  • How To Disappear Completely
  • Give Up The Ghost
  • Everything In Its Right Place
  • Idioteque
It was the second time I had been to a gig with Kath, thought this was seated in the Manchester Arena list time was the Manic Street Preachers at the Apollo. Normally I would have preferred to be in the crowd but Kath had a cold and had been travelling, so the day was long. It was nice to sit and enjoy the concert.

I decided to buy the car on Monday, had to wait until Tuesday to pick it up by which time Kath had already headed back to Poland.

Thursday started my first Polish lesson, the pace was pretty quick. We started with pronunciation and introduction. I am hoping to practise with Kath and become a bit more proficient before the wedding next year.

Monday, July 30, 2012

National Anthem

Jo and Holly had their wedding in Milton Keynes on Saturday. Kath and I got back from Portugal on Friday lunch time. My Dad picked us up from the airport and dropped us off at home.

We had a quick change, grabbed our wedding clothes then set off on the motorway. Just under three hours later we arrived at Greens hotel. Most of the wedding party were staying there, we met up with the crowd at the local pub. We ate dinner together and had a chat watching the opening of the Olympics.

On the wedding day we met Nick Charlotte, Ian, Rachel and Danny at the hotel bar. Ian and Rachel had made a real effort with the vintage theme, she had a red polka-dot dress and a 40's style hair. Ian looked like someone from Man Men with his suit and waistcoat, he even matched his tie and handkerchief to Rachels' dress. Kath had done a similar thing for me, buying a tie to match her dress. We took the bus to the venue, ladies first and guys following. It was a delightful country house with a very well cared for garden. Jo  and his best man John were both looking dapper in there tweed suits.

Fortunately the weather was lovely for the ceremony. I really enjoyed the ceremony there is something nice and good humoured about Humanist style weddings. A lot more palatable to me than the dry and formal nature of the Church.

Bruce and Nina were the camera crew, wondering around snapping people. Phil did his turn are the the camera man.

Joe and Holly had made a lot of nice touches, the flowers in tea pots and the wedding favours of seeds really were touching. Dinner was a BBQ so luckily the rain kept away so we were able to grab our faire without getting soaked.

In the evening Jon Kenzie and the others played funky Jazz into the night. Kath and I weere still tired from travelling so we headed back with Bruce and Nina around early. All in all an excellent wedding, really pleased for Jo and Holly.

Sunday we said goodbye to the hotel and headed to Bletchley park. It was really interesting for me and Kath to see the impact of the Polish code breakers on the war effort. There was even a Polish memorial at Bletchley park. I would recommend taking a look around if you are in the vicinity. It is a very interesting place stepped in history.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Helter Skelter

Kath and I headed out to Portugal last Sunday, we both had two weeks off work with Joe and Holly's wedding in the middle so we had decided to escape to the sunshine before the wedding.

I picked Kath up on Saturday from Liverpool airport at 2pm. I had spent the morning sorting out the house but had neglected to pick up a couple of items for the trip. I needed some new sunglasses and a pair of swimming shorts so we headed to the shops to get them. Fortunately for me Kath is the best shopping advisor and was able to help me find everything I needed.

Arriving in Faro about 6pm then a lengthy wait for our bags we finally got on board the airport transfer to Estoi. We were staying at the Hotel Pousada De Estoi, a converted Palace with a modernist extension. Guest rooms are situated in the grand designs style modernist building. While the Palace has been renovated and serves as a rather impressive location for the bar, salon, and dining area.

I had paid a little extra to get one of the superior rooms, it really lived up, and exceeded my expectations. The bed was huge, really huge like double kingsize! We were actually worried to lose each other in it.

The hotel wasn't near to the coast but fortunately made up for that by having an excellent pool with a spectacular view right out to sea. On the first day we spent a lot of time by the pool, it was a very relaxing place to soak up the sun read, and swim. I read some more of my book Life and Fate, and Kath surfed on the iPad.

The town of Estoi was a small place. According to the guidebook it had several cafés and a Roman ruin. The actual town was pretty small, but with plenty of character. The centre had a square, Church courtyards and a number of Cafés. We attempted to find the Roman Ruins, the guide book suggested that they were a 15 minute walk downhill from the centre. From the centre of the town three routes led downhill. We walked down the first route until the pavement ended and the amount of traffic made us decide to turn back. Next we tried the second direction this time we walked for 15 minutes until we ended up at an empty market in the middle of nothing. Finally we tried the last direction this took us into a load of apartments no ruins to be found. Given the heat we stopped to have a beer a sit down at a café before wondering back to the town centre still not having seen any ruins. On the way back to town we spotted a sign pointing us to the ruins down guess what the first road we walked down. Feeling hungry we decided to eat before visiting the Ruins. There was a small inviting café, a little run down but clean and somewhat homely. I had a Portuguese style steak, which was essentially a steak topped with ham and a fried egg. Kath had a steak with mushroom sauce. This was paired with a bottle of local Red wine. It was all very good and we enjoyed it very much however after the wine we felt ready for a siesta so headed back to the hotel.

On Tuesday we decided to go and visit Faro. Booking a taxi from the hotel a rather enthusiastic taxi driver took us to Faro dropping us off then saying that we must call him for a lift back no-one else.
We wondered around Faro finding a nice little restaurant where I had one of the best calamaris, Kath had tuna.

Wednesday we finally made it to the Ruins in Estoi. We were really glad that we finally made the journey. Though we felt somewhat silly that we hadn't walked the extra 5 minutes on the first day.  The ruins chart over 1000 years of development. Starting with the Romans then charting the different ages as new buildings were constructed on or around the Roman villa.

Thursday we headed to Olhão a fishing port about 9km form the hotel.  It is famous in that after the French were pushed out of Portugal following the Peninsular war some sailors set out for Brazil in a fishing boat, sailing there in three months without any navigational aids to tell the King the news. We decided that we fancied some spicy food. We found the Indian Hut five minutes walk from the beach. The waiter was extremely polite and the food was spectacular. I hadn't expected much from the décor however the chutneys were all home made, and the starters were very tasty; Seek kebab and chicken Samosas. By the time the main course arrived I was already thinking it was one of the best Indian meals that I had ever had. Even the traditional palate cleanser was special instead of a mint with the bill we were served a mix of spices and seeds, it was a real treat.

For our final night we decided to have dinner in Olhão again. Taking a taxi again we had the crazy driver from our Faro trip. He seemed offended that we didn't call him direct as he asked, but given he charged us an extra 5 Euros than the taxis the day before we were pretty glad that we hadn't! This time we had a Pizza from Docas' pizza on the seafront. It was a lovely pizza but we had to wait for ages to get them. After the Pizza we had a couple of drinks before heading back to the hotel.

Sunday, July 15, 2012


Yesterday was a write off, I felt so exhausted that I spent the day on the couch. Many months of longs weeks at work getting systems ready for the new platform have taken their toll on my body. Long days shut up at the office in close proximity to the vending machine have not been kind to me. I have been trying to get back into a fitness regime, however I ma very much out of shape. A 6km jog used to take me about 40 minutes now its more like an hour, hopefully I can build back up to that.

Fortunately next week Kath and I are off on our summer holiday to Portugal. I can't wait we have nearly a week there arriving back in time to head to Jo and Holly's wedding.

I just watched a classic album show about the Nirvana album Nevermind. Hard to believe that it is more than twenty years since it release.

I have been putting off the cleaning, watching television and playing Wii games instead.I better snap too it before the day gets away from me. Hoping to catch up with Phil later and find out how his house purchase is coming along.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Sexy Song

Yesterday was Jo Bergers Stag Do. The best man Jon K had organised an ambitious day of Go Karting, Paintball then drinks and a Jam session at Solomon Grundy. 19 people turned out for the activities and more in the evening at Solomon Grundy.

Paul had stayed with me the previous evening. We ate a curry drank some beers, watched a film and put the world to rights. He got up fairly early

Bruce picked me up and we headed to the Karting 2000 centre. We had to wait around for a around an hour because the previous group ran late. Once we started we had 3 practise laps then in groups of four a Gran Prix style race. There should have been 4 grind prix each with racers randomly chosen. Unfortunately we had to leave the karting early to make it to the Battlefield Paintball so I only managed 2 races.

Paintball was an indoor arena. We started with 100 paintballs, and were assigned to either Red (French) or Blue (British) teams. There were several games however they all amounted to the same thing shoot the hell out of each other. It was fun however they didn't seem to pay much attention to gassing the guns and I had to exchange my gun in pretty much every game, three times during one game.  I was on the French side, as was Joe Berger. There was another stag party in with us. Their stag was wearing a rather fetching tutu. In an effort to level the playing field they gave Joe a high visibility jacket.

There was a rather sadistic shoot the stag game where the two stags and their best men had to walk the length of the arena while we all shot at them. It was a pretty brutal assault, actually much worse than when Bruce, Phil and I had to do similar at his Stag party. I felt bad for them however it didn't make me refrain for shooting them.

The final game was a free-for-all to use up the remaining paintballs. My own team shot me more than the opposition. After two gun changes I was finally able to get rid of my paintballs.

After a short break to shower and get changed then head to Withington. Danny drove and dropped off his car and we went into the bar. After grabbing some food we went downstairs for the Jam session. It was a funky affair with Joe playing first drums then bass. Jon K, Paul and many others playing various instruments.

It was a realy good day however by 1 I was beat and so was Phil, he also had to work the next day so we took a taxi home.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Polish wedding adventures

I headed to Poland last Thursday and Kath I and had been invited to Mike and Caroline's wedding. I arrived before Kath, and following her text messages managed to navigate myself to the Coffee Heaven. Her coach was delayed thanks to bad traffic in Warsaw. Eventually she met me at the coffee shop. We grabbed chai latte and a sandwich for the journey on the coach bus back to Białystok. The coach took several hours and so didn't arrive back in Białystok until after 11. We bought a couple of beers took a taxi back to Kath's flat. She made some dinner and we headed to bed.

After a lie in Kath made a breakfast of French toast topped with Parma ham and a caprese salad. Kath's gran gave me a warm welcome with kisses. She also talked to me in Polish forgetting I don't understand it. After which we headed out early so that Kath could go to the Polish NHS to sign a new contract for her prescriptions. We took a walk around the Palace gardens, stopping for a Coffee at the Odeon Jazz club.

After another walk we decided to try out the new Japanese restaurant Tanoshii. It was a really good choice, I had spice dragon soup, Kath had Tanoshii soup. We shared a sushi mixed set. Kath had a Mochi dessert with rice and cherries and I had tempura ice cream kind of a baked Alaska. All accompanied with Japanese beer and Jasmine tea. All of the food was of a high standard and we enjoyed it very much.

It was the night of restaurants in Białystok so our plan was to eat out but first we headed to Esperanto Cafe bar for a Gin and Tonic. However thinks took a different turn when Kaths friend Goofy and his dog Kliper  joined us. We struggled to have a drink and a chat there but the service was terrible so we switched venue to Pub Fiction. A film themed bar near the centre of town. Sitting outside with the dog we talked and talked while drinking. We carried on that way until it started to get light, Goofy made sure that the last drink was a large whiskey which pretty much finished off Kath and I, we finally headed to bed.

Our heads felt very sore when we woke. We had an easy morning before making a short trip into town to pick up something for Kath then changing and getting dressed for the wedding. Goofy had organised a coach for us, himself and his wife Ela, Goofy's sister Mary and her husband Łukasz, their parents, Mr Goat, and Dominc and Agata.

The coach took us to the Church a large place. I couldn't understand the ceremony however Mike told us later that the priest managed to get his name wrong, not that anyone could hear as there wasn't any amplification. 

After the ceremony we got on a different coach to the venue for the reception. It was a place out in the country quite picturesque, it will be even better when all the plants have bedded in.

We took our seats and eat something, drank and chatted. They had a very cheesy DJ, apparently they call cheesy disco music, Disco Polo; basically cheesy disco music with simple rhythm and lyrics. We danced a little but it was very hot and the DJ was a little overpowering, so we mostly mingled outside. As the evening went on and the Vodka flowed peoples English improved. Everyone was really nice, Mikes Mum and Gran said hello, I met Caroline's sister mother and father again. It was nice to join in with the party and meet everyone.

The coach home was scheduled for 4 however we were absolutely shattered well before that. We managed to grab a lift back with Mirka and Kamil. Kamil was very drunk and Mirka was driving for the first time in many years, so it was rather an exciting drive. She did very well though and we were very happy to get back to Kath's flat earlier. Kamil was hilarious  I was nodding off and he kept shouting "Alright mate". He also delivered a soliloquies about Mirka, "my wife is so angry with me but I am so proud of her".

After another long lie in we went out to see a film, the Avengers, which I enjoyed very much. Afterwards we went for a meal out at Lejdis. It was very tasty, and nice to spend time together. It was still fairly early after we got home so we decided to watch another film. We watched Intouchables, a very good film about a man who becomes the carer of a tetraplegic man. I hadnt really wanted to watch the film but I was glad that I did, it was unexpectedly good.

The last full day we went to look around Białystok historical museum and looked at a potential wedding venue. The museum is a collection of traditional Polish buildings, the weather was great and we took a leisurely walk around. The venue was near to the museum, another traditional wooden building. We ate lunch there it was very good and the venue looked perfect for us. A large space, with plenty of potential for a good party. Afterwards we went back into the into the city spent the afternoon enjoying a few drinks as Esperanto, then an early night in time to get up for the early coach and my flight home.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Google docs Reasearch tool

Just went into Google docs (it has been a while) and noticed the new research toolbar. Basically a search tool that floats to the right hand side of the writing pane. It allows you to search Google while writing. I realise this is already pretty simple given you could open another tab pretty easily.. However having it right there in the same window seems like a real winning as it saves time switching between tabs there are even shortcut keys Cmd + Opt + R on Mac, Ctrl + Alt + R on PC.

Hopefully the guys at Blogger will add the same to the Post Window....

Windows backup gets my back up

A few months ago I replaced my ancient (in computer terms) Apple PowerMac G4. One of the best things about getting the new one was that to restore everything I simply had to plug in my time machine disk and within an hour I was back up and running with all my files and programs. I mention this because backup is one area where Windows is seriously poor. I had high hope when Vista came out boasting a new backup tool, however like the operating system it sat on the new tool was rubbish.

Windows 7 is now better, I just tried to backup to a new external 2 TB drive. Comparing Windows 7 backup to  Time machine is like comparing a Ferrari California to a Trabant. Firstly Windows backup is very very slow, backing up from an SSD to an external USB 3 device should be fast, very fast yet hours later the backup is still slowly chugging away, a quick Google and its clear lots of people are having issues. No only that but somehow it can work out Deltas (file changes) on files properly. Not much data on my computer actually changes however subsequent backups are massive filling a TB drive in only two backups given that the machine has got less than 1TB of data, I find that pretty odd.

So in Short Time Machine is full of win, where as Windows backup is a joke, I can only hope that Windows 8 boasts an improved tool.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Friday night was Dan's birthday do. I picked up Ian and Rachel from their place and headed to Dan's pad. Dan was in good form, Ian had brought a bottle of champain to start the evening off. He looks in good shape apparently.y down to his new walking habits. Something certainly is doing him good. We headed up the road to the Joshua Bradley pub. Meeting some friends of Dan's and Wooler. Wooler is another chap who simply looks better every time I see him. A healthy diet plus daily yoga seems to be doing him a lot of good. After a few drinks there we headed futher down the road to the Cheshire cheese. Described by Dan as "a proper drinking pub", it lived upto the hype. Being a rather traditional pub. There was a good atmosphere and a nice mix of people. I had a LAN party on Saturday so made my excuses around 12 and left for home with Ian and Rachel. Dan seemed to have enjoyed a dry good evening. Saturday's LAN was pretty busy 18 people attended, call of duty worked well but it's obvious that we need to do something more about finding some new games. I tried to find an updated unreal stairs of doom map but the only port is pret woeful. Today I was fit for nothing, I managed a lunch at my parents and a short 3 mile jog other than that I just relaxed, watched some tv and started reading a book my parents gave me called lands edge. It's a description of the Austrlian coast, the first few chapters bout back a few memories already. Kath and I talked a lot this weekend, I think we were both missing each other a lot this weekend. Fortunately only another 2 weeks until I see her. I am heading to Poland and we are attending the wedding of Kates friends Mike and Caroline. In other news Phil has had an offer accepted on a house in Cheadle Hulme, I hope it all goes well for him. Certainly looks like a good place from the photos.

Friday, April 06, 2012


Just a note to big up Freecycle. I am part of the Wilmslow group and so far have managed to stop several things going to the tip.

If you have something like for example a paella pan given to you which takes up too much space, its not worth selling on ebay but someone might like it, don't bin it put it on Freecycle!

Leave it

We had the first session of the Easter Drinking club last night. Ian, Woller, Danny Jo and I met up at the John Millington in Cheadle Hulme.
Jo had to wait as characteristically we were running late. He told up that while searching on ebay he managed to stumble upon the cockpit for a Tornado jet. Apparently 6000 buys 27 feet worth of cockpit weighting 1.5 tons. Ian was considering whether he could fit it into his van!
Jo had to leave early, leaving the rest of us talking about business, well I say the rest of s but its sometimes hard to get a word in edgeways when Dan gets into full flow.

The topic of the evening was staff and looking after people. Ian Dan and I have all had different experiences trying to look after people. Whether its the stress of running a business and having to foot the bill for national insurance, or look after errant reps we all have experience of dealing with people.

Its interesting to see how things have changed. We have got aged and more experienced, in life and in our work yet somehow we remain the people we always have been. Wollers casual but sharp observation, Ian's charm and Dan's bravdo are all still present.

As for me I got older and slightly heavier, I realise after tucking into a kebab after the drinking session that I need to make some changes. I think Woller has the right idea with his hot yoga.


It was Paul and Sakia's wedding on Saturday. Kath flew over on Thursday so she could join me for the wedding.

We travelled down together with Jo and Holly arriving at the Holiday Inn around 12:30, plenty of time for Lunch and a quick change before getting the coach to the wedding. Nick and Charlotte arrived about the same time as us and together with Ian we all went to the nearby Toby carvery. Holly is a vegetarian and so  requested a sandwich, I wasn't hungry enough for a carvery and asked for a sandwich too. The server said yes then gave a diatribe about it being a carvery and how they really didn't normally do that. I thought to myself either offer graciously or say no, don't offer a service then begrudge someone taking you up on it.

Ian looked tired he had come up the day before to sort out the bar for the wedding. Apparently to make things worse the Van carrying all the alcohol to the wedding had been pulled over by VOSA on route.

Everyone made their way for the coach at 3pm. Congregating in the bar first of all before making our way to the coach. We said hello to Andy Fletcher and his girlfriend Daisy,  Paul, Woller, Danny, Ian, Rachael and Ian and Sarah Simister. It has been years since I last saw Sarah, she was looking very well.

The coach took us to Paul's fathers place, where a Tentpi was in place. The ceremony was a humanist one with a female celebrant. It was a lot more fun and joyful than the Church weddings I have been to, Paul and Saskia's vows were really heartfelt and warm. Paul's friend Teaspoon did a really lovely song, and there was a reading of Dr Zuess. It suited there personalities very well, injecting a lot of fun into the ceremony.

Foods was in the form of Indian, it was very very nice especially the barbecued lamb which was incredibly tender and succulent.

After the ceremony there was music from Paul, teaspoon, Paul's Uncle and dad and Joe Berger. The music and dancing were fantastic.

The night grew cold but there was a fire at the back of the tentpi, to keep warm by. Kath and I were shattered, this is quite a common theme when we are together as there is always a lot of travelling involved. 

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Real Human Being

Yesterday was St Patrick's day, the friendliest of patron saints. Seemingly co-opted by Guinness for the last few years Phil and I decided to join the fun. Starting in will slow at the Coach and Four we went to the Kings Arms, then finished in at the Bulls Head. Of the pub visited I would suggest that the Coach and Four did the best pint of Guinness. I was browsing the web this morning on my iPad and one of the sites I visited was behind a pay wall because the iPad accesses the mobile version. There appears to be a growing trend to charge uses for mobile versions of websites. I guess providers rely on the fact that people are used to paying their mobile bills. Certainly in most cases there is no technical reason that the mobile version would cost any more. Take Spotify for an example there is no real reason that the mobile version should cost more, yet it's firmly behind a pay wall. If tablets really star to take over it could mean that these pay walls are the rule rather than the exception. I guess we are walking into a future where everyone will have to pay for the sites we want to see. Talking of free stuff, I have just found a great sound of free legal ebooks. Librivox. The books narrated all all in the public domain. I have listened to are the scarlet pimpernel and the three musketeers. I find listening to audio books while walking is a good way to relax.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Feel To Follow

Arndale Void
This week there were two stories about transport in Manchester that interested me. The Guardian ran this blog about the Manchester Underground that never was. Envisaged in the 1970's the plan was to link up Picadilly to Victoria with a station under the Arndale.

The Government cancelled the plan with only a small amount of groundwork done, leaving behind a subterranean reminder.
The second announcement was the news that chancellor George Osborne has given the go ahead to an £85 million pound project to connect Picadilly and Victoria with a new direct Rail connection.

What interested me was that the budget for the underground in the 1970's was £9 million. Adjusted for inflation that is about £85 million today. So somehow its as expensive to build an overground rail now as it would have been to construct an underground line 40 years ago.
Chancellor George Osborne's £85m budget bonanza for a direct train link between Manchester's two main stations.

Read more at:
Chancellor George Osborne's £85m budget bonanza for a direct train link between Manchester's two main stations.

Read more at:
Chancellor George Osborne's £85m budget bonanza for a direct train link between Manchester's two main stations.

Read more at:
Chancellor George Osborne's £85m budget bonanza for a direct train link between Manchester's two main stations.

Read more at:
Chancellor George Osborne's £85m budget bonanza for a direct train link between Manchester's two main stations.

Read more at:

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Polish letters

Remember to spell:

sz - like English sh (bush)
cz - like ch (chimney)
rz - like sh but more hard
ą - like o and a together
ę - like e and y together
ż - like sh but with the sound
ł - like w (window)
ch - like h (hair)
ń - like -ng (England)
ć - like ch but more soft
ś - like sh but more soft
ó - like oo (moon)

Saturday, February 25, 2012


I was my mums birthday today, so I decided to take her out for a meal. She wanted to try the new Indian resturant in Handforth, the Viceroy.

I had North Indian Garlic Chicken, it was a great combination of spice, garlic and chicken. My mum ad Jaipur Chicken which was a chicken breast in sauce with spinach and vine tomatoes. £11.99 for each of the chiefs special main courses which include peas pilau rice. I very much enjoyed my dish it was spicy but not too hot that you couldn't taste the flavours. The rice was worth a mention rather than the usual bog standard pilau it was flavoured delicately. The restaurant itself has been given a facelift, the decor is elegant and stylish. Slightly 70's retro vibe but done very nicely. All together its a slightly more upmarket affair than the Maharajahs was but if they continue to serve that quality of food then it should do well.

My mum enjoyed her birthday treat. I bought her a new purse (which Kath helped me to choose) and Kath got her a book recommended by her mother. Its nice to make my mum happy she deserves a treat after spending so much time looking after everyone else.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Shuffle (Berlin part zwei)

On Monday morning we woke up late, Paul and Chris had caught an early flight so it was now just Kath and I. It was another cold day -11c with a breeze that felt like ice. We took the train to Museum Island, stopping for a coffee and breakfast on the way. The cafe we found under the arches was amazing, bohemian with excellent food and coffee, it was better than any chain store I have ever visited. There are several museums all together on Museum island. We decided on the Pergamon museum, as recommended by my friend Hanna.

The Pergamon is a large Museum, and features the reconstruction of parts of Pergamon an ancient Greek settlement. Its very impressive. They also has a 360degree panorama view of an artists impression of the city as it would have looked in the Greek era. It was very well done, changing from day to night using florescent paint to give the impressions of movement.

After the Pergamon Kath noticed that there was a Salvador Dali museum, so we decided to give that a try.Dali was such a character, instantly recognisable. I never realised how many films and TV adverts he was involved in. For example designing this scene from Hitchcocks film Spellbound. He also did lots of illustration work, I knew about Don Quixote but not Faust nor Alice in Wonderland.

Sony Centre
Sony Centre roof
After the Dali museum we met up with my friend Hanna and her husband Silvio. I haven't seen her for years since she was working at Bristol. They took us on a little walking tour first to the Potsdamer Platz. During the communist era this was divided by the wall. I mused what had happened to the underground. Apparently they was also bricked up by the communists.

Next stop was the nearby Sony Centre. Built as a retail store with a roof to ape mount Fugi its an impressive shopping centre. Kath and I went for brunch there the following day. Its not the first Sony Centre I had been too after visiting the one in Toyko. I must admit this one is pretty impressive too.

Hannah and  Sylvio then took us to the Brandenburg gate. It was nice to see at night and hear some more trivia from natives.

Heading from there to the holocaust memorial. What I hadn't realised is that was Hitler's bunker. We were unable to go down as it was closed. On returning from Belirn I read about the underground Berlin tour, which take in Bunkers, and various underground complexes I hope to take this next time I visit Berlin.

After the walk we were feeling pretty cold, we asked them to take us for German food. They recommended a Bavarian restaurant. We shared a plate of meats, it was very enjoyable.

The next day Kath and I both felt very tired. Eventually heading out for a walk ending up back at the Sony Centre where we stopped for an enjoyable Brunch. In the evening we met up with Hanna and Sylvio again. Taking a quick walk and to Alexander Platz home of the the world clock. Then went for a Curry. Unfortunately Kath was feeling a bit feverish so we basically eat dinner and left. It was nice evening thought Hanna seemed more relaxed having gotten her exam out of the way.

Wednesday was the final day for Kath and I in Berlin, Her train left at 10.15. I went to the station with her, and hugged her goodbye. Then I went to meet  Sylvio, Hanna had to work. After taking a short walk to see the O2 Arena Berlin and some bits of the wall,  Sylvio and I had a look round the Berlin video games museum. Although small it was a voyage of nostalgia for me. We had a kebab for lunch then he was kind enough to accompany me to the airport. I think he got a good laugh when I got stopped by the security guard. I am not sure what but something on me triggered the metal detector.

I really enjoyed Berlin, there was a lot to see so I hope to be able to return there and take in all the places I missed out on. It was especially nice to meet up with Hanna again, and meet  Sylvio, Kath and I were both grateful to them for their hospitality.

Saturday, February 11, 2012


This time last weekend I was in Berlin eating Indian food in Mitte after a cold day sightseeing in Berlin. I had travelled to Berlin for Paul Aiden stage do. Ian, Danny Joe and I travelled from Liverpool on Thursday meeting Paul, Chris and Matt in Berlin.

Brandenburg Gate
We stayed at the MEININGER Hotel Berlin Central Station, located right next to the central station, only a short walk to the Reichstag and Brandenburg gate.


Thursday we were tired and hungry so decided to go out for a meal. Chris found a Vietnamese on Trip Advisor. Taking a taxi as we walked in I noticed that there was a Rainbow flag on the door. The owner was a very talkative person, and offered that we could have a mixture of food. When it arrived it was incredibly tasty, the ingredients were all fresh. My favourite was the duck, it was crispy and fresh not too fatty.
As we left the owner thanked us for "being so open minded", someone asked for directions to a strip club which the owner was only happy to provide us with. Walking a block we came to it, the posters outside of toned men and the Rainbow flag confirmed it was a gay strip club and we were in the hear of Berlin's Gay district! Taking a short ride on the lookout for a club we came to another area, we weren't able to find the place we were looking for so we went into a large video shop on the corner. The young chap running it came out with two funny lines, first he asked "what are you looking for, you want to watch or you want to...?" then after we informed him that we were interesting in watching rather than participating he told us, "this place you buy two drinks then you must fuck", smacking his hands for extra emphasis. Deciding to give up on the search for a strip club we ended up at a rather cool bar. There was sand on the Floor, and a very relaxed vibe, on a cold Berlin evening with snow falling it was just the ticket.


Heading out of the hotel we set off for a day at a shooting range. A taxi ferrying us from the hotel out of Berlin to a range used by the Police. Originally built for the War we were a little apprehensive, it look more like something from a horror film. Fortunately the guys who met us were really nice, unveiling an arsenal of handguns to get started. 3 semi automatic pistols, including a Glock, Beretta and a revolver. Each of us took turns to hit metal targets. After the pistols we got a chance to try out a pump action shotgun on the same target range. This time it was against the clock, seeing how fast we could get the rounds out. Following the shotgun we had to wait for a different range to try out the rifles. We decided to brake for lunch. The ranges were open the the elements so we were all extremely cold. Fortunately the nearby cafe had a roaring log fire and warm food. At 3pm we went to the shooting range to try out an AR-15 rifle and a WW2 issue Mauser which I think was this. The Mauser was so loud, even wearing ear protectors it sounded like a canon. I can't imagine what it must have been like in the war with these going off all around. I was pretty useless at the target shooting, mostly because at 50meters I couldn't actually see the target very well. It was pretty upsetting considering I had been very good with the pistols, nevermind. Our scores were
Person Score
We had one thing left, each of us had one shot with the shotgun using a solid shot where we could shoot at juice carton full of water, my video is here. Friday evening we were all geed up after the shooting headed out on a pub crawl. Visiting several bars, stating in an underground pub with a shot of peach snapps. Onto a place where you could pour your own beer another cool little place then onto a club. My memory is hazy of the event (probably good for some ;) I do remember getting into an altercation in the queue. We took a train, I had been talking to someone and feel behind the others, so I cut the line front of a couple of people to join up with Ian. One guy took real offence claiming to have been waiting for 45 minutes (though we all arrived on the same train). I pretty much ignored him, and the line moved quickly. Then literally as I was walking in he grabbed my hood. At which point the bouncer (who was pretty much the biggest guy I have ever seen in my life) asked "Do you have problem?". When a 7 foot guy asks if I have a problem the only answer is no, strangely this idiot responded "Yes"! At which point the bouncer lifted him out of the queue with one arm and plonked him down outside of the queue, gesturing to all the other bouncers he said "this guy, he has problem". Trying hard to keep a straight face I entered the club not looking back.


Danny wanted to go off shopping, but the rest of us decided to do some sight seeing. We went to the TV tower in the centre of Berlin. We had to queue for a while so Chris went off shopping for his souvenirs. When we finally got up the tower it afforded a really good view of the City. In the evening Joe and Danny went off to watch football, and eat out so the rest of us went to Mitte. First taking a tour round an abandoned building taken over by artists called Kunsthaus Tacheles. It was really interesting, lots of different artists with their own styles and collection. I wanted to take Kath there but we never had a chance hopefully next time we are in Berlin I will. Feeling hungry we went into an Indian called Amrit, a cavernous place split over two shops. There was some confusion because they relied on a computerized ordering system, which was suitably German and efficient. Only issue was they moved us so our food got delivered to the wrong table. We had to hail over the waiters, fortunately when the food did appear it was exceedingly tasty. Matt's vindaloo was spicy and hot but not overpowering, in fact all the food was delicious.  Especially Paul's scampi.
After the Indian we met back up with Joe and Dan. Drinking a beer we convinced Paul to wear a Leather Doggy bondage mask.
Paul contemplates the mask
After a few more drinks in a little bar which had a rather impressive fish tank. We decided to see what the strip clubs were like. Danny got directions to one form the barman. Joe decided he didn't want to join us in hindsight it was a good move. We just found Gold possibly the worst strip club in Berlin. We paid to €10 get in and this gave us each a dollar, dollars were given to the strippers. Before we got to the strippers we were forced to check our coats. When we finally sat down with a rather expensive drink we were confronted with two well chubby tattoo girls. I can't say I found either very attractive. Worse though was the other girl who came asking if any of us wanted a private dance. She looked like she had a serious drug habit. We pretty much drunk up and left as quickly as possible.

Joe told me that as he as walking back to the train station he was propositioned by one of the many girls, apparently on telling her that he was engaged she said, "that's marriage I am talking about fun".


Sunday was the final day for Ian, Matt, Dan and Joe. Sunday was Also Kath was arriving so I was excited. In the morning our head were heav but we managed to go for a walk from the Hotel to visit the Holocaust memorial, then walk from there to checkpoint Charlie. The guys went to eat at a steakhouse, Argentinian beef is very good they tell me. I went back to the station to meet Kath, her train arrived around two. I took her to the Hotel we had a quick snake then went for a walk to the Brandenburg gate, meeting the others returning as we did so. It was cold the river was frozen over but for Kath it was actually warmer than Poland had been. In the evening after the others had left Paul Kath Chris and I went for an Italian meal. The food was tasty but the bill nearly gave me a heart attack. They charged us for thing which we thought were free. Like break we didn't ask for it, they just put it on the table, ditto water which was expensive mineral stuff. Not the best way to round off the stag do, but I think we all had an excellent time, it was one to remember.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Look

I had an issue with my server this evening. Actually its been going on for a few days. There was a big surge in traffic, so I started investigating. Most of the traffic was email, I did some digging.

Found a rouge php file, its hashed so not exactly sure how it works, but simply it appeared to allow mail to be sent via a call to the rouge page. Quite clever really it show how increasingly intelligent these attacks have become. In the past it used to be script kiddies automatically scouring using penetration tools. Now they are targeting hole in exiting websites and injecting in rouge code.

I guess that a sysadmins life never gets any easier.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Ghosts 'n' Stuff

Saw Andy chief for the first time over a year last night. A year ago we were having a leaving party for him at the deaf institute. Ian picked me up and we drove to Woodford to get the 157 to Didsbury. Rachel and Ian were telling me about about their endeavours on the new house.It sounded like they have worked hard on it, was easy for me to identify with that.

We joined Andy, Dave Claire and Will at the Feltcher Moss. Having a drink and a catch up Ian told us about his antics at the Phonix Woodford War Memorial Community Centre, his story about the Sunday night salsa was simply hilarious. Andy was quiet, he seems to be enjoying himself in Hong Kong. I'm afraid I mocked him terribly about his form for getting locked in his bathroom. So he told us that he also managed to  locked out of his apartment. On one of the hottest nights of the year, after a night out, he had to use sign language to communicate with the concierge and the locksmith. The locksmith took 3 hours to crack the lock after the key snapped off in the lock. Andy increasingly frustrated trying to communicate, towards the end simply trying to find out how much he owed the guy. In the end in perfect English he replied "three hundred dollars". Nonplussed, Andy left him in the flat while he went to the cash machine to cash, returning to find him supping a cup of tea.

We hadn't eaten so we went to Casa Tapas for dinner. I had a choose of Choritzo, Patas Brasvas, Chicken skewers, and spiced lamb, it was all very tasty.

After that we had another couple of drinks and a chat in the dog and partridge. The others went off into town, but like the old git I am I decided to get a taxi home so as not to be too trashed for work.

I am writing this post on my new Mac Book. My 7 year old Powerbook finally bit the dust so I managed to get a 13inch Mac Pro off ebay for a reasonable price. I was really impressed with how well Time Machine recovered my files. Add the to the fact the Virgin is about to double my broadband speed its been a good day in Tech for me.