May 2006 Archives

Visitors From Afar

As I've mentioned, the counter on this site has some cool features which allow you to see where people are coming from. Having made the effort to watch it the last few weeks, I can report back that there's readers coming here from all over :-D

For example, in the last week a visit from Ramstein Air Base, Ramstein-Miesenbach, Germany. Lots of places in the USA, New Zealand (who could that be ;-)), and Europe. Local to home, places including recruitment agencies, cv link up on the right there if you're wondering ;-), and lots of people looking for news and views on Airfix kits, including the TSR.2.

What's also amazing is the contacts being made and remade. A old friend from work who was searching up on her Uni friend, Sian Willbourne. There's a story on here about her fight with Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia (CML). She stumbled across the site and got in touch :-D

Will keep looking into all this, and posting up any other interesting places :-D
Support the charity fundraising at:
Justgiving - Help Sian Fight Leukaemia
Justgiving - Achieving the Impossible

Springing Onto BBC2!

One thing I love about this time of year is how green everything suddenly becomes. The garden looks fresh, and there's hundreds of birds singing and flying about the place. And, to make it even more enjoyable, Bill Oddie and Co spring onto the screen with another fantastic "fly on the wall" Springwatch.

Will the Great Tits fly the nest tonight, will we ever get to see badgers live on tv, will all the nesting birds survive, or get snaffled by the fox or local family cat? Who needs Big Brother or Cory when you've got real life that's worth watching :-D

Which Is More Dangerous?

I've heard many times, from both close family and friends, that smoking rollies, roll-ups, real tobacco cigarettes is less harmful than smoking a pack of B&H, or processed cigarettes.

So, the news that a survey by the NHS Smoking Helpline has highlighted just how many believe hand-rolled tobacco poses less risk to health than manufactured cigarettes just shows how many people believe this myth.

Rolling your own ain't any better in terms of health risk than buying a pack. If anything, it's more risky since it's cheaper, and therefore not as expensive to smoke as many as it would if you bought them ready made.

Of course, it's safer than keeping a leopard in your garden, I mean, who'd be daft enough to allow that?

Running Out?

I hate some of the recent "docu-drama" things being chucked out by the Beeb and ITV, if only that there's not enough of an emphasis on the fact it's not all fact. However, last night's BBC2 If... The Oil Runs Out in the If series of docu-dramas put into clear context just how the world has become so reliant on oil to fuel it's economy and way of life. The suggested date is 2016, and the drama infolds, with various experts and statistics flashing on the screen, backing up the story. True, it's fiction dressed with fact, but unlike other programmes it had a very strong tinge of truth.

One thing I did like, to really put the whole oil situation in context was the facts about oil exploration discoveries and consumption. 16 new fields were discovered in 2000, 9 in 2001, and only 1 last year. Each American burns 25 barrels of oil a year, each Briton burns 11, each Chinese burns 2, so when the Chinese economy takes off with a vengence.... The world uses/burns 80 million barrels of oil a day, so in the minute it's taken you to read all this, another 55,500 barrels of oil has gone...

Back To Work

That's the thing about these Bank Holidays, the realisation that you're back into the swing of it Tuesday, when you're body clock is saying Monday.

Car's behaving, a small leak from one of the coolant pipes was all to report once in work this morning. I'll have another look at the timing tonight, as it's still running warmer than I'd like. Although it could be the radiator, as I'm still not 100% convinced that it's the correct one for the car.

Thankfully I've made up time last week, so it can be an early finish today. So come 4 o'clock and I'm outta here ;-)

Brmm, brmm!

At last, the car's running on all 4 cylinders :-D

Okay, it's still not right. The timing is waaaaay wrong, the idle and water temp showing that it's trying to run away with itself. And the brakes don't like being left for 4 weeks standing. Taking the car round the block was a little scary :-O

But, as Ian pointed out, it's running well enough to get me to and from work and local places. So, weather permitting, next Saturday I'll spend a bit of time, refreshed from a week at work, sorting out the fine tuning. Of course, if it is raining, I'll just go and pop over to me garage ;-)

Busy Motoring Day

Lots done today. Shifting stuff over to the garage, finishing off the tuning and setting up the timing on the Golf. And then taking further advantage of Laura's new car and going out for a drink or 3!

I've now a patio fit for a BBQ, with a BBQ too. It's amazing how much room the spare wheel stack was taking up. And a few more trips to the tip got rid of all the other odds and ends I'd never in a month of Sunday's get round to using.

Next job's going to be the shed and house. There's bits of car all over the place still, and most of it can go to the garage in preparation for starting work on the first Golf resto!

Laura's got her car, at last :-D A rather tidy Citroen Saxo VTR, off of eBay, thanks in no small way to Lord eBay, the one and only Ian.

So, in return for all the lifts to and from, we've been given an open ticket for Laura's Cabs :-D

First trip was to Asda for the weekly shop, then a trip to find my garage. And, after Sy rang to say he was back and up for "one last pint" down the Old Town, we nipped down The Marquis De Lorne for an IPA. Ian, now on his way, wasn't aiming to be down 'til 8pm, so it seemed rude not to give Sy a lift home, and pop by Our Mutual Friend for a few ;-)

Back home, via Sy's, and a well earned rest from all the driving, and another curry takeaway from Mogul's, yum :-p

Anyway's, better get off the PC and let Laura sleep. Afterall, she'll be driving around, here, there, and everywhere for us tomorrow too ;-)

I Like Their Thinking!

The more opporunities I have of commuting into the big smoke, the more I notice that the trains are getting busier and busier. Which, in some ways, is a good thing, surely? After all, the more people using public transport, the less on the road. But, what does get my goat is having to spend such a large amount of money, only to stand for half an hour squashed up against all the other bods on the train :-(

So, imagine my cheer on reading the latest news about rail services on the East Coast Mainline :-D Dig a little deeper, and you'll find an earlier article about giving discounts for those passengers that have to stand - what a brilliant idea :-D

So, How's The Car?

Finally turned the ignition. Would've done it earlier in the weekend, but should've realised the battery was well below it's charge.

And, well, it runs, sort of. A small problem initially with the distributor sorted, and it fires up and runs. But still sounds like a bag of bolts. Or an old farmers tractor. Very lumpy running.

The more I look at it, the more I'm coming to realise I'll need to take the timing belt apart again, and do the setting up properly. It can only be a couple of teeth wrong either way. Would've sorted it today, only my request on yesterday's post seems to have hit, and it's been constant raining all day :-( Looks like I'll have to resign myself to doing it at the weekend. Now, where did I put my bus timetable...

The Constant Gardener

Coincidence in title, saw the film again last night. And I can take parallels of how the main character took solice from gardening. There's nothing more relaxing, I find, than pottering about in the garden and watching things grow :-D

So, onto today and a real gardening find :-D Dawn had been saying for a while now about going to a garden centre out towards Watton At Stone. We'd tried finding it a few weeks ago after taking a trip out to Dobbs Weir in Hoddesden. And, having missed out on this years Garden House Hospice bedding plant orders, I was eager to get a few plants to make up.

Watton Nursery, off Ware Road is the place. Not your typical centre, in so far that it's just plants and more plants. Oh, and cash sales or cheques. And it really does give you the impression that once it's gone, it's gone. But the quality of the plants, and prices (trays of 12 good sized bedding plants for 3), were fantastic. I came away having spent 20 or so, well below what I'd normally spend with the Hospice. Ok, I've not got everything I'd normally get, but as you'd see in the archives, I do tend to go overboard a little ;-)

The best find was the strawberries, in so far that they're fruiting and flowering already. Unlike the ones I've had in the past that just seem to grow and grow and grow. Strawb's and cream this summer in my spacious patio, yum :-p

Now all we need is the start of the drought proper, so I can get out and plant up these things :-D

Ian Farted Getting Takeaway Then?

Heard on the news tonight while driving back from Lostock, of a large explosion in a kebab shop in Hull. The pics on the BBC News are unreal, the damage caused is hard to believe.

Of course, asking Ian what had happened, and if he'd heard what the cause could've been got me a quick text back, "It was me, I farted on the way out..." ;-)

A Late Night This Morning

2 years have gone, and, as last year, I ask the question where? And, again, still no nearer putting it into words, the tears, the pain, the love, the fear?

Also, rather strangely, Spitfire has been unbelieveably attentive, meowing (which he NEVER does, and getting under my feet. And then the phone rang, just before 12, Nige and Ian calling to suggest various ways of getting me out of circulation today and for the rest of the week. Unfortunately I'm off North for another Primavera session with our production colleagues, and my mates. A bit of teaching, some consulting, and lots of drinking ;-)

I've posted an entry on Jules weblog, and will add more when the messages come out in the local paper tomorrow.

T'is time for bed, and as my eyes close, time slips back to those happy memories, so much stronger these days. I miss the hugs more than anything else. It's not saying I'll never love again, but I've lost the love of someone I never imagined I would.

Complete (Almost!)

So, finally, after what has been week's of work, the car and engine are one once more. All's left to do now is a final turn of the head bolts, and then it's finished :-D

Can't wait to get back on the road. Fingers crossed for the big turn on on Saturday ;-)

Heaven In A Tub

Had a quiet evening round Dawn's last night. The liver and wallet can't take another night of drinks, so we decided on a takeaway and DVD :-D

Being the other side of town I wasn't too sure on the best places to try. So, on advice, we tried Mogul's Indian. And what a choice :-D Lots of food, generous portions, and amazing flavours. I could've reordered the entire menu, it was that good. And hot too, which is always a problem with some places, it's cooled down by the time it arrives.

The menu's in the letter rack ready for the Bell Boy's next trip South ;-)

They also do a Chicken Teza. Didn't realise Terry had moved into the Indian food trade ;-)

I've Got A Garage

After 2 years waiting, and reassessing my requirements (Council speak ;-)), a letter arrived this morning, and I've been offered a garage :-D 9.34 a week, which is pricy, but then if I was looking to find a house with a garage I'd be expecting to pay nigh on 800 a month in rent. So 9.34 a week is cheap as chips, thank you very much ;-)

Not quite round the corner, but near enough. And, more importantly, a place to start working on getting the other 2 cars up and running, ready to become a project for another like-minded soul :-D Being able to work on the cars, close the door, and walk away. Or, even better still, not have to guage everything by the oh so reliable British weather ;-)

Of course, it means making room in the carpark, which will please everyone I'm sure ;-)

Ambition Fulfilled

While at school or college (correct me on this one Jonathan), we managed to get ourselves on a trip to CERN, even if we did end up staying in the red light district of Geneva :-) It was at this time that the concept of fusion was explained, and how a new facility was being built in the UK to test out the theory, and bring forth a new source of power. Cheap, clean, no side effects, it sounded too good to be true. More so, I never imagined I'd get to visit the place itself.

So, imagine my excitement, today, as I got the chance to visit
Joint European Torus, or JET for short. Based near Abingdon at the former Fleet Air Arm airfield, HMS Hornbill, now the
Culham Science Centre. Why? Well, they're using Primavera to manage the shutdown and maintenance cycles, and had seen my presentation last year and invited us along for a chat. Understanding the extreme environment they have to operate in, I can see why planning and scheduling can be so important. After all, you don't want to be shutting down all that expensive kit only for it to lay idle whilst you wait for the parts to arrive.

We didn't get to see inside the hall itself, as the machine was running. But we did get to see inside the control room, and around the refurbishment halls. Had to chuckle, having looked round one "sealed" practise containment area, only to find that the sides weren't actually attached to the floor. It reminded me of a story I was once told, of how a company was proudly showing off their cleanroom facility to an overseas customer, only for a delegate to ask why there was a dead fly on the inside of the window. As they say, not everything is perfect, and you can't plan for every eventuality :-D

Getting There

A fairly successful day on the car. Okay, it was a washout this morning, but having got the cylinder head all set out in the kitchen, there was plenty I could do indoors.

Ended up laying out all the bits and bobs from the cupboard under the stairs, boxes tucked under the bed, and margarine tubs scattered all over the house. I've now a complete stock take of all the stuff worth keeping, and a large black sack of junk to be taken away on Monday by the binmen :-D

Handy finds included a number of bits I'll need when I start putting the head back on the car, plus some other bits I can do with the head removed. All I need now is some dry weather ;-)

Still No Closer

If it isn't raining, or I've not got the right tools, it's trying to understand why the manual says it's easy, and it ain't :-(

Off round to Dawn's for Sunday dinner and a chance to wind down. And with tomorrow booked off work as a holiday, I'll pick up where I've left off today.

Argghhhh :-(

Stop Faffing

Think I've broken the site. Well, I've been messing with templates to try and make the job of updating the site's style easier. And it looks like bits of this blog and Jules have merged. And the banner at the top isn't working. The counter on Jules site doesn't add up. And most of my news previews okay, but publishes awful. Hence the lack of news.

So, dear reader, if it all looks a bit strange, I do apologise. Normal service will, I can assure you, be returning as soon as a measure of what's normal can be gauged ;-)


We use some rather dubious acronyms at work. I'm convinced it's more to do with someone eating a dictonary, rather than the best use of English to describe something. So I had to chuckle whilst reading a story about Typhoon availability on the Eurofighter forum.

So, next time someone rings about parts, Mum, you tell them you're awaiting longer-term logistic support solutions ;-)

Regular site I visit for news on Eurofighter, developments, and general news on progress outside of that we get internally. Occasionally it has little gems like this:

The interesting part is the fact the US Navy don't appear to have noticed it's missing :-O

Brings a whole new meaning to the hobby of beach combing, don't it ;-)

Own Your Own Brewery

Surfing the web, as you do with a few minutes spare, and stumbled across this:

An old friend from the IEE Younger Members days, Jonathan Hughes, has done what most of us lads would dream of doing, and opened a microbrewery :-D

Doing a search on their brews, and it looks like they're getting a good press :-D:

Great Orme Brewery - Extravaganza Ale The new Great Orme Brewery has got off to a winning start with Extravaganza Ale being named Champion Beer at the Leeds Beer, Cider and Perry Festival 2006. This is excellent news for such a new brewery and hopefully the start of things to come. Congratulations from all at Abercolwym CAMRA.

Will have to keep an eye out at the British Beer Festival this year, and see if they're there. Hmmm, wonder if they do online orders...;-)

Black, Black, Shiny, Black

So, at last, the engine is split. The right tool to remove the head bolts, and they've all come away cleanly. Took a trip over to Luton with Janet this morning to get the correct socket, as GSF in Hitchin didn't have stock.

Interestingly, number 3 cylinder was full of coolant. Which isn't a good sign. But does explain the rough running the other week, and, more importantly, the overheating problem. The actual gasket is pretty bad too, looking like it's seen better days. Although no big holes or cracks, which is what I was expecting.

Now starts the job of inspecting the cylinder head for cracks, holes, and warping. Better get the kitchen worktops cleared ;-)

Picture in the extended bit...

Exchange Has Changed

Tried out the new Sam & Maxie's, what was Exchange Bar & Diner, in the Stevenage Leisure Park tonight.

It's had a major rework inside, with a lot of the bar area and seating gone. It seems there's more floorspace, and less seating. Which is kinda strange for a restaurant. And the food isn't really much to write home about. If anything, it's a little too posh and upmarket I'd say. The biggest disappointment is the loss of the infamous Exchange burgers and purple coleslaw :-(

Will have to see what it's like on a weekend, and whether the cocktails and drinks have improved ;-)

About Alan Bell

Lapsed: electronic engineer, scout leader, project controller.
Now: Oracle Primavera training consultant, business support manager, occasional website designer.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from May 2006 listed from newest to oldest.

April 2006 is the previous archive.

June 2006 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.