Blogathon 19/18

Continuing the everyday look at everyday objects through the camera lens…

The Internet plus computers = real-time information and instant transactions/updates.

It’s lovely.

We take it all so readily for granted; check your bank balance, pay a bill on your phone, keep in instant contact with friends and family and, to be candid, to be able to access the sum of humanity’s knowledge from just about anywhere on the planet, on a device the size of pocket calculator.

In the 80s this was the stuff of science fiction.

And Star Trek, obv.

Using my phone (or tablet, or laptop, because nobody has PCs any more) I can interrogate just about any database, any repository of information.

And using my phone (or tablet, or laptop, because nobody has PCs any more) I can edit, write to/update all databases that I have permission to edit, write to/update.

For example, we have a new car.

We needed to tax the new car.

So we (I’m using the Royal ‘we’ here, OK?) went online to DVLA and bought some road tax (yes, I know it’s not called road tax any longer but this detail is so small it’s insignificant).

How did that work?


  • We went online and accessed the DVLA website
  • We interfaced with DVLAs systems
  • We proved legal ownership of the vehicle to DVLAs systems, which was then accepted
  • We input payment details for some road tax
  • DVLAs systems went off and validated that those payment details related to us (and therefore, double-checked legal ownership of the vehicle)
  • The bank’s systems authenticated the payment request, approved the transaction and, instantly sent the money to DVLA
  • Then DVLAs systems came back and said the payment had been made

Except that’s where it ends, but it should not be where it ended.

Why not?

Because we went online, the next day, and accessed DVLAs systems just to check the car was now taxed.

DVLAs systems said it wasn’t.

Despite the fact that the previous evening the money had actually been removed from our account, DVLA were saying, the next day, that the vehicle was untaxed (and therefore was illegal).

So we (I’m still using the Royal ‘we’ here) rang up DVLA and spoke to an actual human being.

The actual DVLA human being said it could take 4-5 days for their systems to update with valid taxation details.

Let’s assume five days (for mathematical reasons). That’s 120 hours.

In this age of near-instant fibre-optic Internet-based communications, it’s going to take DVLA 120 hours to update their taxation records – and that’s 120 hours after the payment has been taken.

Sometimes I wonder how we managed to crawl out of the swamp.

Here’s the trouble-maker:

Beetle ragtop

Beetle ragtop

Blogathon 18/18

Continuing the everyday look at everyday objects through the camera lens…

It’s ironic that the weather, today, has been gorgeous, but the weather all weekend was less than good.

To celebrate the lovely sunny day, I took a walk at lunchtime, and even strayed off-campus a little.

Twice a day, just outside the campus, i cross over a little bridge.

Today I found a little time to walk under the bridge.

Down the slope, under the bridge and along the bank where I found, moored up:

Liveaboard narrowboat

Liveaboard narrowboat

Blogathon 17/18

Continuing the everyday look at everyday objects through the camera lens…

Get ahead, get a hat.

In 1965, in response to declining sales, those cunning eggheads (pun!) at the British Hat Council created a slogan.

Because a slogan is always going to turnaround an entire industry. Right?

Well, as we all know it did.

Like many people in the UK these days I have 73 hats.

I have going out hats, I have staying in hats.

I have waking up hats, I have going to sleep hats.

I have sunbathing hats, I have swimming hats.

And yes, thank you very much, my new job as Head of PR (Head of PR! See what I did there?) at the British Hat Council is going very well.


Almost every day I put something else on my head.

Something else being a hat that isn’t a hat.

It’s this little baby:

Daily hat

Daily hat

Blogathon 16/18

Continuing the everyday look at everyday objects through the camera lens…

The male condition plus ageing brings strange things to our bodies.

Middle-aged spread.

A paunch.

A full-on beer belly.

If we’re lucky, none of these.

If we’re unlucky, all three.

But also the gift of something else.


A receding hairline.

A balding spot.

Complete balding.

If we’re unlucky, all three.

But also more hair.

It sprouts.




So we try, some of us anyway, to keep the hairy burden in check.

We trim, we pluck, we shave.

We attempt to keep the hairy menace at bay, but it always returns.

Today I took another regular step in my ongoing forwards/backwards battle against my fiendish follicles, as they seek their free-range freedom.

Today I visited the barber. Again.

Since March I have been going to a barber in the centre of Nottingham.

It’s more expensive than the people I’ve been using in West Bridgford, but unlike the people in West Bridgford the expensive barber in Nottingham knows how to trim, how to shape, and how to get the very best from facial hair.

The ‘new’ barber, though, does more than haircuts and beard-trims.

They also serve…

The Barber of Stellaville

The Barber of Stellaville

Blogathon 15/18

Continuing the everyday look at everyday objects through the camera lens…

Regular readers (Hello Mum!) might remember that Plusnet and I have been together for about 12 years, through six house-moves, and also branching out into a business I started up a few years ago.

And regular readers, again, might remember that I began to get unhappy with Plusnet’s service recently.

I mean, charging me for superfast broadband, whilst actually delivering mediocre broadband?

That’s just taking the pee.

Especially as I was paying through the nose for phone and broadband, because I was out of contract.

But who, in their tiny mind, is going to sign up for a year  (or 18 months or two years) of superfast broadband with a company that is only going to deliver mediocre broadband?

And pay superfast broadband fees?

Well, not me. Obv.

So I got on the dog and phone and asked Vodafone what they could do?

And they said ‘about 70 down and 15 up, and as you are a superloyal customer* we’ll do it for a supercheap price’.

*superloyal because my business mobile services have been with Vodafone for about ten years.

Well I said ‘yes’, obv.

On Saturday the new router was delivered.

Switchover day was Monday.

At 6am Monday I disconnected the old Openreach modem and the router.

And plugged in the Vodafone router to the mains and phone line and it worked straight away.

At that time bandwidth was about 45 down and 10 up, but all the advice from Vodafone was that I should give it a few days for things to settle down.

A week after the switchover, I’ve just run another speed test:

Vodafone broadband speedtest

Vodafone broadband speedtest

Yep, that’s good enough.

And for half the price I was paying Plusnet.

Blogathon 14/18

Continuing the everyday look at everyday objects through the camera lens…

Now you know that I like a drink, right?

No, not that sort of a drink.

Well I do like that sort of a drink.

But sparingly.

I can’t remember the last time I had one of those drinks.

Oh yes. About three weeks ago.

I had a pint of cider shandy.

Because, you know, I’d really have a skinfull of booze and get on a superbike and ride it down Nottingham’s A52 ring road.


And before that the last of that type of drink I had was…




No, I can’t remember when.

Anyway, this isn’t about that kind of drink.

And actually I’m not sure what it is about, but here we go.

Last night, after battling my way back from dahn sarf, just off of that London, we went out.

For pizza.

On the way back, we were driving through West Bridgford, when we saw a young lad, standing at the side of the road.

He was about 14yo, holding up a banner sign.

It said (something like):

Home-Made Elderflower Cordial, £5/bottle

So we stopped and bought a bottle.

Why? Why would we?

Just because we wanted to give an enterprising young lad a bit of support.

I’m the only person in the house who would drink that kind of stuff, so I took it to work this morning, and cracked the bottle open after lunch.

And you know how it tastes?

It tastes exactly like Elderflower Cordial.

So now I have lots of stuff to drink at work, because I took a new bottle of squash concentrate in this morning as well.

And a new container of instant hot chocolate.

Elderflower Cordial

Elderflower Cordial

Blogathon 13/18

Continuing the everyday look at everyday objects through the camera lens…


I went to Weybridge today.

Weybridge, for those who don’t know, is dahn sarf.

It’s sort of on the outskirts of that London.

A bit.

The route was supposed to be A46, M1, M25, and another instantly forgettable, pot-hole riven, lumpy, bumpy, shockingly badly maintained A-road.

But my CrapNav diverted me, because of a heavy load of traffic on the M1.

Surprising, eh?

So my route was actually A46, M1, A43, M40, M25, and then another instantly forgettable, pot-hole riven, lumpy, bumpy, shockingly badly maintained A-road.

The A46, M1, A43, M40 bits were fine and dandy, and I was able to ‘make progress’ (as DVSA tell us we should) in fine style.

The issue was the totally foreseeable problem-pit that is the M25.

I sat in my comfortable car on the M25, admiring the crumbling concrete and deteriorating tarmac infrastructure whilst trying to avoid eye-contact with everyone around me.

Avoiding eye-contact would have been so much easier if we had been attaining the DVSA mantra, and ‘making progress’.

Unfortunately we were not.

Indeed, for 45 minutes I made no progress at all.


Not nun. That’s different.


The people dahn sarf were very friendly.

The receptionist told me where to park in the massively huge car park (nb, not the M25) where I would avoid getting a parking ticket.

Yes I know.

Some bays in that car park reward cars that park in them with a hefty fine.

Well that’s fine.

That’s fine!


*wipes eyes*


During a break in proceedings, about halfway through the second meeting of the day, the meeting delegates went for a walk around the massively huge car park.

It was a nice day, so why not?

As we walked around the perimeter of the massively huge car park I noticed a thing.

Several things.

Staff were sitting in deckchairs outside their building.

Sitting in identical deckchairs outside their building.

Yes, I discovered when I checked with reception later, yes, the company supplies deckchairs for staff to sit on, so they don’t accidentally pick up any leaves on their clothes, or ruin their immaculate hair products, or accidentally taint themselves by coming in to close contact with a worm or a beetle (not John, Paul, George, or Ringo. The other sort).

My first thought, obviously (because I am that kind of a guy) was along the lines of ‘Awww, how sweet that the company does this!’

My second thought, obviously (because I am that kind of a guy also) was along the lines of ‘You soft, southern, shandy-drinking bunch of losers. Fancy isolating yourselves from Planet Earth in such a way. You should get some worm droppings on your jumpers, just like we northerners do’.

And then I went inside for a continuation of the day of meeting fun.

But seriously.

Company deckchairs?

Whatever next?

Company deckchairs

Company deckchairs

Blogathon 12/18

Continuing the everyday look at everyday objects through the camera lens…

At about 5.45am tomorrow I will be setting out for Weybridge, the Paris of the South (as nobody every said).

My first meeting is at 9am. My second starts at 12.00.

The weather forecast for tomorrow is excellent, so I’m looking forward to making the trip.

M1, M25, A317.

It’ll be a lovely trip cutting through the sheets of traffic on the ZX10R.

But no.

I have been talked out of making the 300-mile round-trip on the Ninja.

I am, honestly, disappointed I was talked out of it and glad I was talked out of it, in about equal measures.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against long rides.

When I used to hang around with OMG we’d think nothing of legging it to Wales for a cup of tea, zoom around a mountain-top or several, and then leg it back home.

Or zip down to the sarf coast for a cup of tea and to look at the Southsea view and then zip back home again.

And SWMBO and I are planning a round-Scotland motorbikeathon next year on our respective machines.

It’s just the ‘after cutting my way through the intensely mental and overbearingly heavy southern traffic on the world’s best high-speed filtering machine, would my cuttingly incisive brain still be capable of calculating the square root of 410 to seven decimal places?’

20.2484567 if you care, being expressed as:

√ 410  = 20.2484567
Thus:    20.2484567  x  20.2484567 = 410

Probably not.

And indeed probably knot.

So instead I am going to make the trip in a newfangled machine called a ‘car’.

Apparently they’re all the rage.

It’s even got an infernal internal combustion engine, but it doesn’t deliver anywhere like the 220bhp my (recently) uprated Ninja produces.

Which is a shame, obv.

Also a shame is the complete lack of filterability.

The thing just doesn’t filter.

I’m so used to folding in my mirrors, dropping down to midrange second gear and slicing my way through traffic.

But tomorrow I shan’t be doing that.

I shall be sitting in a chair, listening to the wonderful Shaun Keaveney on BBC6Music.

Surrounded by thousands of other motorists, whilst encased in this:

Temporary transport

Temporary transport

Blogathon 11/18

Continuing the everyday look at everyday objects through the camera lens…

The subject of today’s photograph of an everyday object is commonly called a sack of crap.

No, this isn’t a continuation of yesterday’s horse manure airing.

Not that you’d want horse manure to be aired, as such.

But still.

We had new broadband today.

But this isn’t about that, not directly.

This is about a different sack of crap.

I would like to introduce you to our colour printer/scanner.

It’s an Epson XP 245.

Epson, the well-known manufacturer of printers, and XP 245 meaning eXtremely Pisspoor printer number 245.

Like all printers, the Epson XP 245 is supposed to just sync to the WiFi router and then sit quietly, waiting silently for orders, in exactly the same way Douglas Adams’ talking toaster doesn’t, in the HHGTTG.

The Epson XP 245 doesn’t do that because it falls at the first hurdle.

It. Won’t. Sync. To. The. New. Router.

It refuses to.

It just sits there, WiFi indicator flashing from amber to green in a mocking gesture of ‘I’m doing something but I’m just not doing what I’m supposed to.’

I’m sure My Lord Blackadder would have had something witty to say about it, some acid-burning critique on its degree of usefulness when compared to a drinking straw in the possession of an astronaut marooned on your anus Uranus.

In face, if this little device was as useful as a drinking straw in the possession of an astronaut marooned on your anus Uranus, it would at least have some semblance of tiny speck of order in a universe of chaotic string theory.

As it is, it doesn’t even meet that lofty height.

Ladies and Gentleman, I present to you the utter sack of crap that is the Epsoon XP 245.

Feel free to gloat at its semi-sentientic recalcitrant, almost self-aware puddle of belligerence:

Oh look mother, it's a sack of crap

Oh look mother, it’s a sack of crap

Blogathon 10/18

Continuing the everyday look at everyday objects through the camera lens…

Stable management (not as in keeping everything shipshape and Bristol fashion) is a widely-encompassing term for, amongst other jobs, shovelling horse manure.

Now that Prem is sound in leg and back, and he’s turned out all day, he only has to be mucked out once a day.

Such a relief!

As with any other job, mucking out a stable of horse wee and manure needs the right tool.


Here they are.

A pitchfork for shifting hay bedding around.

A stiff broom for sweeping up.

A giant pooper scooper for scooping giant poops.

And a wheelbarrow.

The contents of that wheelbarrow are this morning’s mucking-out waste.

Stable management tools

Stable management tools