Sometimes I live a simple life

Today I:

Backed up my laptop (complete not incremental)

Backed up The Lovely S’s laptop (same procedure)

Backed up my iPod

Backed up the static html and all content on the website

Backed up the MySQL database, php-scripts and CSS that makes this Blog

Backed up all posts and comments

Downloaded and installed an additional layer of Anti-spam clevery-stuff

Moved my MP3 and MP4 files off my laptop hard disk on to my half-terabyte external hard disk (thus creating almost 10Gb of free space on my laptop. Yay!)

Set my iTunes software to look for all music on the external hard disk as a default

Took The Lovely S a cup of tea and breakfast in bed

Got in to bed for another hour or so and read

And cuddled

Got up, did getting up then getting dressed things

Made a picnic

Drove in to Bromsgrove, minor shopped

I mean we only shopped for a couple of items, not that we went shopping for any minors

As if!


Went to the coffee bar and ahem ate carrot cake, drank hot chocolate and read The Daily Telegraph

Just like being back in Iceland, but without the Telegraph

Went to the park, found an excellent sitting down spot, spread our wings (and things) and sat

And read

And picnicked

And people watched

And chortled at what we saw

Then read some more



Read a bit more

Came home

Washed, changed

Started writing this post

Drove to Worcester

Walked about town for a while

Went to the cinema

Watched The Simpsons (The Movie)

Laughed and held hands while doing it

Came home

Ate toast, drank hot chocolate (yes, more!)

Finished this blog post

Shut down the computer (this is a prediction)

Went to bed (ditto)

Fell asleep in the arms of a beautiful woman (bit of a dead cert!)


Today I lived a simple life.

But it’s been fun.

(Horse) News At Ten


I’ve been remiss.


Much has occurred.


Horse stuff:
Two days of fence-judging at last week’s British Riding Club Horse Trials Championships had many things worth reporting on.

But I won’t bore.

I’ll just say that the first day was excellent with many things going on.

And the second day was even more excellent (due largely to having The Lovely S with me).

Meanwhile my own horse news:
I’m schooling Big Vin each evening; concentrating on transitions and changes.

I know this is esoteric flatwork stuff, but if we’re to continue to improve our jumping we need to elevate our dressage considerably.

There’s a Hunter Trial competition at Allenshill on Saturday which we’re going to enter.

I think we’ll school around though, rather than ride in full-on competitive mode.

I’d like to use the Hunter Trial as a valuable training opportunity because…

Next weekend we’re competing in a Mercian Teams Two-Phase Horse Trials at Deer Park in Gloucestershire.

So schooling Vin around Allenshill’s Hunter Trial course would go a long way in our preparation programme.

Other horse news:
I’m walking Beech out morning and evening.

I’m giving him half an hour of grazing on the end of a long lead.

He’s had his shoes removed and feet trimmed; sounds as though he’s got his carpet slippers on when he walks on concrete.

Beech’s mental state has improved dramatically since I started walking him out to graze.

He looks perky and has adopted an alert, interested expression rather than looking permanently morose.

His final set of x-rays are due in a couple of weeks.

Once they’ve been developed and analysed we’ll know where we go next in the Beech Healthcare Plan.

So all in all the horse-world has been busy lately.


Pssssst… wanna buy a pistol?

It’s a beaut.

* Beretta M9, 9mm (so it’ll take NATO, Russian and Chinese 9mm ammunition)

* Semi-automatic

* Single or double-action

* Handle up to 15 rounds

* 1,200 feet per second muzzle velocity

* List price = $263 each

It’s very similar to the 9mm Browning Hi-Power I carried around with me for four years, but with a loaded weight of 2.55 Lbs it’s significantly lighter.

And terribly (sic) accurate.


We might be able to get you up to 80,000.

That’s the number that the US troops have misplaced in Iraq.

Eighty thousand?

A couple of hundred weapons AWOL from the armoury might be fair enough given the scope and duration of the conflict in Iraq.

But… eighty thousand?

Given the proximity of Turkey to Iraq, I wonder how easy it would be for an enterprising European to do a little shopping in the region?

Smuggling automatic pistols in to the UK would be ridiculously easy.

Hell, if I can smuggle a person in to the UK, getting in a bunch of Berettas would be child’s play.

And 9mm ammunition almost grows on trees – if you know where the picking’s good.


But that’s only the UK.

Suppose these 80,000 beautifully engineered weapons of individual destruction turned up somewhere else?


In the hands of the enemies of the US-led coalition?


Do you think we should add to the arsenal of the enemies of democracy the 110,000 AK47s that have also been misplaced?

Which are, boringly enough, weapons of 7.62mm calibre (and after Bosnia there’s enough 7.62mm ammunition swashing around the planet to keep us all happily killing each other for decades to come).

We’re all doomed, Captain Mainwaring, doomed!


Mercury rising

An interesting story here tells us that heatwaves are getting longer.

I haven’t read the research and frankly I’m not very likely to because my reading pile gets bigger, my OU reading list remains scarily untouched and other things continue to pile on my plate.


I was interested by the section in the BBC’s report that refers to a historical lack of consistency in the way scientific instruments have been stored.

A little like crime figures going up because recording and reporting mechanisms are getting better?

Maybe, maybe not.

But to the point.

I shall soon reach a place where I need to take a minor break from blogging (see above re reading, coursework and add in some writing and 9-5ing, having a life and horses).

Yet I want to see this continue, rather than stagnate.

So I’m inviting applications to the post of visiting blog contributor/guest blogger.

If anyone’s interested, let me know.

It would be a temporary arrangement – just while I get my competing priorities sorted.



Book review: Lois On The Loose

I was desperate for something ‘light’ and this paperback was on top of one of our reading piles in the spare room.

And it’s about a motorbike (sort of), so it was a natural pick-up.

Lois On The Loose is the true tale of our eponymous heroine and how she left her desk job to do something more… challenging.

She motorbiked from Anchorage, Alaska to Ushuaia, the southernmost city in Argentina, then north to Buenos Aires.

Twenty thousand miles!

On a Yamaha XT225 Serow (trail bike).

Lois completed the journey in just under nine months.

Along the way she encountered fierce weather of unbeleivable extremes; locals of varying degrees of indifference/excitement; countryside of almost unimaginable quality and the company and generosity of many strangers.

Lois On The Loose is an entertaining account of the journey from A to B.

And there’s the rub.

The story is about the journey as a means to an end.

Sadly, it isn’t about the journey as an end in itself.

We are given snippets about the people and the places and scraps of near-nothingness about the culture and the histories.

We are treated to hundreds of words about one of her temporary travelling companion and the almost karmic-circle that bites her in the end.

But we get fewer words about the indigenous people of any Latin American country that she spent weeks or months in.

Not really balanced, you see?

Yes, it’s interesting to hear about the extremes of weather.

Yes, it’s fascinating to learn of the characteristics (good, bad or indifferent) of her travelling companions.

Yes, it’s captivating to hear about her unplanned ‘meets’ with fellow bikers.

But what about the countries that she travelled through?

What about the locals, the indigenous peoples?

What about their cultures?

But don’t get me wrong.

Lois On The Loose is an interesting book full of lively tales and well-related anecdotes.

I just wish that – having spent almost nine months on the road – Lois had given me something of substance about the places she visited.


Tonight Matthew, I’m going to be… grumpy.


I lent my horsebox to someone at the yard.

She went off in it on Friday and brought it back Sunday evening – as per the arrangement.


I had things in it; personal possessions of mine were in the living accommodation.

Guess what?

They’ve been moved, shuffled, stacked and rearranged.

And I’m feeling grumpy about this because I tried to put my hands on a couple of my things this evening and couldn’t.

I’m not saying anything has been stolen, I’m sure that’s not the case.

I am saying that it’s been shifted.

Put in to some kind of order in some place within the lorry that I don’t have the map to.


It wasn’t brought back with a full tank of diesel.

I mean.

If you borrowed someone’s car/lorry/horsebox/vehicle of some description.

And if you’d had it for three days.

You’d at least bring it back with a full tank of fuel.


You certainly wouldn’t return it with less than the amount of fuel that was in it when you picked it up.

Would you?

Can you guess that I’m feeling pretty bloody grumpy about this too?

I think that’s it.

I think she needs to go off and get a horsebox from a commercial self-drive horsebox rental company for three days.

Perhaps she needs to do that a few times.


And you know what else?

She didn’t even bloody say ‘thank you‘.

And now I’ve really had enough of people for the day and just want to be left alone.

(exits stage left, grumping)


OMG, horror in Asia

I was going to write a ferreting-about examination of active/passive voice; try to work out something that’s been in my head for most of the day.

But the sheer horror of what’s been happening in India, Bangladesh and Nepal makes anything else seem selfish beyond description.

Twenty million people displaced by floods, with (at the current time) over 200 deaths.

20,000,000 people.

It puts our recent water problems in perspective.

If I were religious I suppose I’d pray.

My thoughts are turned towards Asia this afternoon.



Improving with age

My funny bone is on active rather than passive mode today.

BBC Radio 2’s daily competition to find the network’s most narrow-minded listener (the Jeremy Kyle Vine show) yielded some comedy gold.

I’d link to the segment concerned but the sound file will vanish in 24 hours, so I’ll just have to try and recapture the moment.

The topic of the phone-in was ‘middle lane hoggers’.

Nothing to do with a genus of politically-centrist porcines.

This was all about that rare all-too-common breed of motorist that refuses to move to the left-hand lane.

When the phone-in started I expected the segment to be a one-sided tirade against (and I’m generalising and using my overactive imagination here) ‘doddery old fools who shouldn’t be in charge of a pencil let alone controlling a machine capable of killing people at speeds approaching 100mph’.

That’s what I expected.


Jeremy Kyle Vine received a call from a self-confessed middle lane hogger.

No, really!

Stop tittering at the back.

The driver in question was, he admitted, in his 60s.

He also said that in his opinion he’s a safer driver now than he was in his 20s.

What does that say for how he drove forty years ago was my first thought.

My second was, what does that say for the driving test of forty years ago.

But our hero, the middle lane hogger, was robust in his defence of middle lane hogdom.

He quoted a section from the Highway Code stating that the left-hand lane is for slow traffic, the middle lane is for normal traffic and the right-hand lane is for overtaking.

The trouble is that the Highway Code has been extensively rewritten since the early 1970s.

It now states that the middle and the right-hand lane are both overtaking lanes.

The Highway Code also adds that traffic should use the left-hand lane when not overtaking.

But our middle lane hogger refused to accept this updated piece of wisdom.

Refused to take it on board even when told that the Highways Agency is going to target middle lane hoggers.

Anyway, the segment made me laugh.

Back to the point.

Earlier I listened (via BBC Radio 7s ‘Listen Again’ facility) to a very young episode of I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue.

I’ve been listening to ISIHAC for three decades (off and on).

I used to listen as a schoolboy.

Paul (Ethel) Harrington and I used to spend hours trying to fathom the rules to Mornington Crescent.

We admired the wit of the teams and Humph’s deft comedy touch at the radiophonic tiller.

It was pure entertainment for one’s sense of humour.

It was also a memory best left undisturbed.

The 1974 episode I listened to was, by comparison with today’s fayre, staid.




It made me realise just how much tighter the modern version is.

The timing is sharper.

Yet the teams are more relaxed.



And in the case of Humph’s stewardship – dirtier.

I believe that the late Willie Rushton, founding member of ISIHAC would be proud of the way the show has developed.

Speaking as a loyal listener, I know I am.

Anyway, some more comedy.

Tired Dad brings an amusing view of what went through the mind of a delegate attending a branding meeting.

(I particularly like the credit/loan advert being transposed over the facilitator’s dialogue)