Quote Of The Day

"Victory goes to the player who makes the next-to-last mistake - Chessmaster Savielly Grigorievitch Tartakower (1887-1956)"

Friday, April 29, 2011

Royal Wedding / Tim & Andy's Birthday Party...

So Will and Kate are now royally married. Good for them. But far more importantly it was both Tim and Andy's birthdays. So they threw a party. Lots of fun was had by all.
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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Amsterdam: Homeward bound...

Check-out was easy. The trip home straightforward. The comfort of the sofa when home rather splendid. It has been a lovely trip with Darren and Mark and we always have a good time when we all go away together.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Amsterdam: Bingo...

On our last day in Amsterdam we decided to do a slightly more cultural walking tour and visited the Homomonument and walked past the Anne Frank House too. We also went to Café De Jaren for a rather marvellous lunch. In the evening we ventured to The Queen's Head to play gay bingo. Lordy, lordy.
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Monday, April 25, 2011

Amsterdam: The Park...

A little hungover from last night we decided to do a bit of exercise to walk it off. We headed up through Leidseplein into the beautiful Vondelpark for a bit of a mosey around. The weather was gorgeous - as it had been all weekend. In the evening we headed back to De Engel Van Amsterdam in Zeedijk for more beers. And bears.
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Are we having fun yet?

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Amsterdam: The Boys...

What a fab day this was! We got to meet Darren's friends Jos and Jos who introduced us to Marcel, Derkjan, Dave and all the gang. We went on a ferry for some lunch, to some bars for beers, to watch some drag queens sing some Dutch 'classics' and back to some more bars for more beers. Great fun and everyone was so nice.
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Saturday, April 23, 2011

Amsterdam: Holiday Sick...

Why, of why do I get sick whenever I go away. Spent the afternoon and evening in bed coming down with a cold. Bah!
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Friday, April 22, 2011

Amsterdam: Here we come...

Our flight was at 4pm. Darren, Mark, Stu and I were off to Amsterdam for five nights of fun and frolics.

We were staying in a last minute booking - Eden Rembrandt Square Hotel - which was really rather swish.

On our first night we hit the bars the got our bearings. Taboo for beers then Ecco for eats.
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Thursday, April 21, 2011


This is my last day at work for a while. First we have Easter - Good Friday tomorrow and Easter Monday. Then I'm taking two days off as annual vacation. Then next Thursday our regular fortnightly Friday off is being moved back one day, then on the Friday it's the Royal Wedding between William and Kate Middleton and then it's the first May bank holiday Monday. So that's eleven straight days off work. Woo-hoo!
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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Last Friday Paul, Stu and I went to see Aida to the Royal Opera House in London's glitzy Covent Garden.

The plot revolves around Aida, an Ethiopian princess, who is captured and brought into slavery in Egypt. A military commander, Radames, then struggles to choose between his love for her and his loyalty to the Pharaoh. To complicate the story further, Radames is loved by the Pharaoh's daughter Amneris, although he does not return her feelings. Much machinations later... hey... it's opera - things never end well.

It was a full-on all guns blazing production and quite frankly we loved it. As you can see, we had posh seats too.
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Monday, April 18, 2011

Michael & Lance's 40th (London theme)...

Last Saturday Stu and I went to Michael and Lance's 40th birthday party at the Vauxhall Griffin. It was a London-themed fancy dress party - I went as Jack the Ripper and Stu went as a dead strumpet. Mark very helpfully did our make-up, the sweetie.

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Friday, April 15, 2011


I'm getting my Virgin Media Tivo box installed today. Looking forward to it. PVR on steroids.

Update #1: The VM guy turned up at 8:30am. This was his first Tivo install. It started well enough - he plugged in the new Tivo and after half an hour of calls and putting in numbers said it would take an additional hour to load all the software. Apparently it downloads it from a server in the States. Ho hum.

Update #2 (9:35am): The software download got to 34% and it flicked to the EPG but with channel errors. Odd. Luckily the engineer had the wherewithal to not turn the box off (thereby perhaps leaving the box in an unbootable state) but to navigate back to the network menu and see that the software was still downloading. It was at 43% by that point.

Update #3 (9:45am): The software got to 52% and the Tivo rebooted but that locked up. All seven of the front panel lights were on but no picture. Dead box basically. So we had to get another Tivo from the van.

Update #4 (10am): After a bit of digging the guy thinks he found out what went wrong with the first box. He had wrongly done a hard reset at the very start (turned it on and off) rather than what he should have done -  a soft/warm reset (two button push). Doing a warm reset on the second box produced an additional update screen at the start that looks like it was updating the initial boot firmware (fixing the boot issue). So he's done it properly this second time. Back to that hour of downloading...

Update #5 (10:25am): OK, well that was quick (too quick?) It says it's finished. Hmmm. The guy then clicked on 'Connect To Virgin Media' and lo and behold - another twenty minutes of updates ahead.

Update #6 (10:55am): All done. Channels work, HD works, on-demand works, YouTube works. Happy, happy.
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Thursday, April 14, 2011

No trouble, no trouble at all...

Advice to all employees on the proper use of Jonathan's time. As your System Administrator I am at your service. Just call Jonathan on his extension or on his mobile - day or night. He's just waiting for your call.

• Never write down any error messages. Just click "Ok" or restart your computer. Jonathan likes to guess what the error message was.
• When talking about your computer, use terms like "thingy" and "it".
• If you get an EXE file in an email attachment, open it immediately. Jonathan likes to make sure the anti-virus software is working properly from time to time.
• When sending someone your document via email, always assume that they have all the same software installed that you do.
• When Jonathan says he coming right over, log out and go for coffee. It's no problem for him to guess your password.
• When you call Jonathan to have your computer moved, be sure to leave it buried under half a ton of postcards, baby pictures, stuffed animals, dried flowers, bowling trophies and Popsicle sticks. Jonathan doesn't have a life, and he finds it deeply moving to catch a fleeting glimpse of yours.
• When Jonathan sends you an email marked as "Highly Important" or "Action Required", delete it at once. He's probably just testing some new email software feature, anyhow.
• When Jonathan is eating lunch at his desk or in the kitchen, walk right in and spill your guts and expect him to respond immediately. Jonathan exists only to serve and is always ready to think about fixing computers.
• When Jonathan is at the water cooler or outside taking a breath of fresh air, find him and ask him a computer question. The only reason he takes breaks at all is to ferret out all those employees who don't have email or a telephone.
• Send urgent email ALL IN UPPERCASE. The mail server picks it up and flags it as a rush delivery.
• When the photocopier doesn't work, call Jonathan. There's electronics in it, right?
• When you're getting a no internet access at your home computer, call Jonathan. He can even fix internet from remote locations too.
• Got a problem? Try saying either, "is something wrong with the system?" or "the Internet is down". That is all the infomation Jonathan needs to diagnose your problem. And fix it!
• When something is wrong with your home PC, dump it on Jonathan's chair with no name, no phone number, and no description of the problem. He just loves a good mystery.
• When you have Jonathan on the phone walking you through changing a setting; read the newspaper or type away saying nothing on your mobile texting your mates. Jonathan doesn't actually mean for you to DO anything; he just loves to hear himself talk.
• When the company offers training on an upcoming Windows or Office upgrade; don't bother to sign up. Jonathan will be there to hold your hand after it is done.
• When the printer won't print, resend the job at least 20 times. Print jobs frequently just disappear into the cosmos for no reason.
• When the printer still won't print after 20 tries, send the job to all the printers in the office. One of them is bound to work.
• Don't use online help. Online help is for wimps. Right?
• If you're taking night classes in computer science, feel free to demonstrate your fledgling expertise by updating the network drivers for you and all your co-workers. Jonathan will be grateful for the overtime when he has to stay until 2:30am fixing all of them.
• When Jonathan's fixing your computer at a quarter past one, eat your Whopper with cheese in his face. He functions better when he's slightly dizzy from hunger.
• Don't ever thank Jonathan. He loves fixing everything. And guess what? He actually gets paid for it!
• When Jonathan asks you whether you've installed any new software on your computer, lie. It's nobody's business what you've got on your computer.
• If the mouse cable keeps knocking down the framed picture of your dog, lift the computer and stuff the cable under it. Those skinny mouse cables were designed to have 20 kgs of computer monitor crushing on them.
• If the space bar on your keyboard doesn't work, blame Jonathan for not upgrading it sooner. Hell, it's not your fault that there's a half a pound of pizza crust crumbs, nail clippings, and big sticky drops of God knows what under the keys.
• When you get the message saying "Are you sure?", click on that "Yes" button as fast as you can. Hell, if you weren't sure, you wouldn't be doing it, would you?
• Feel perfectly free to say things like "I don't know nothing about that computer shit." It never bothers Jonathan to hear his area of professional expertise referred to as shit.
• When you need to add paper to the printer, call Jonathan. Changing the paper is an extremely difficult task, and both Hewlett Packard and Lexmark recommend that it be performed only by certified network administrators with lots of time on their hands.
• When you receive a 530-megabyte movie file, send it to everyone as a high-priority mail attachment. Jonathan's provided plenty of disk space and processor capacity on the new mail server just for those important kinds of things.
• Don't even think of breaking large print jobs down into smaller chunks. God forbid somebody else should sneak a one-page job in between your 427-page Excel spreadsheet.
• When you bump into Jonathan in the supermarket or in the street on the way home, ask him a computer question. He works 24/7, even while at Sainsbury's buying toilet paper.
• If your son is a student in computer science, have him come in on the weekends and do his projects on your office computer. Jonathan will be there for you when your son's illegal copy of Visual Basic makes your other Access databases keel over and die.
• When you bring Jonathan your own "no-name" brand home PC to repair for free at the office, tell him how urgently he needs to fix it so you can get back to playing Lara Croft. He'll get right on it right away because he has so much free time at the office. Everybody knows that all he does is surf the Internet all day anyway.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Eddi Reader...

On Saturday night Stu and I went to see Eddi Reader perform at the iconic Union Chapel just off Islington's glitzy Upper Street.

Darren had originally secured the tickets but he was feeling a bit under the weather so couldn't make it. Which was a real shame - as she was great.

I love the Union Chapel and have written about it many times before. We had never sat upstairs though, which we did this time, and it's my new favourite spot. Great view.

I had seen Eddi perform at the Kirsty MacColl tribute gigs before but not do a full solo gig. I was in for a treat. She sang beautifully. She was joined on stage by her long term partner/songwriter and two other musicians. A simply staged ninety minute gig but filled with energy, humour and fantastic melody.

She sang a great song about her two teenage boys called "I Won't Stand In Your Way" - saying that she won't stop them going out all night in search the bright lights (despite sleepless nights worrying about them) because that's where they'll find the friends that they will come to reply upon later in life.

Sadly no "Dear John" but we did get "Perfect". Perfect.

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Monday, April 11, 2011

Kylie at O2...

Last Friday Darren and I went to see Kylie Minogue's Aphrodite – Les Folies tour at the O2 Arena. It was promoting her recent Aphrodite album. We had standing tickets but had arrived fairly early (and did a bit of queue jumping - thanks Shaun) so got a got position for our £65. We were about two or three people away from the thrusting walkway. The people on the other side of the walkway in the middle section had paid £250. This area was called the splash zone. With good reason it turned out.

Kylie performed most of the Aphrodite album along with much of her back catalogue. OK, she's not the best singer in the world and, yes, she's no the best dancer but boy does she put on a great show. We loved it. Greek and Roman themes were everywhere - big production numbers with heavy nods to Busby Berkeley and, inevitably, Madonna. There were athletic dancers, fabulous costumes, feathers, smoke, state of the art back projection - all turned up to eleven. She even had a flying angel that carried her into the audience.

Of especial note were the many water fountains that played for the encore - All The Lovers. They wowed us and  drenched the splash zone people in equal measure.

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Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Monday, April 04, 2011

Don't cry for me Argentina, The truth is I never left you...

We arrived back in London Heathrow Terminal 5 after a thirteen hour flight at about 6:30am. Once we'd cleared customs and collected our luggage we took to the overground. Still a little woozy after your flight we sat on the Piccadilly line almost nodding off.

We got home, did our washing, caught up with a bit of telly and fell into bed.

What a fab holiday. If you ever fancy going to Argentina.. go!
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Sunday, April 03, 2011

Though it seemed to the world, They were all I desired...

We woke up late. Ooops. Luckily we'd checked in and packed the previous night - thanks for doing that Stu! I'd developed a bit of an ear infection (all my own fault) so had taken some painkillers which meant I overslept.

So dashed down to the breakfast room - we gabbed some breakfast, checked out and grabbed a cab. We ran through bag drop, immigration, security and to our gate. Suited me fine to be honest. I don't like hanging around in airports.

I wolfed down 10mg of Valium to ease my nerves and we minutes afterwards we were on board.

Thirteen hours later we were in Heathrow. Don't you just love Valium?
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Saturday, April 02, 2011

And as for fortune and as for fame, I never invited them in...

On our last full day in Buenos Aires we thought we'd do a bit more exploring. First off we took the tube from the tube station Capital to the main shopping area. We were heading from the El Ateneo - a wonderful theatre that was converted into a cinema in the late 1920s and then in 2000 taken over by a famous booksellers and turned into a very popular bookshop. So weird to see bookshelves in the theatre. You can even sit in the boxes and read.

Then we carried on along the tube line a bit getting off near the Palermo Viejo area which runs from Santa Fe Avenue in the south to Córdoba Avenue in the north.

It is a newly fashionable area for design, restaurants, bars and street culture. The atmosphere in many cafés and restaurants was striving to be "alternative", which seemed to make this area of the city especially popular with young, upper-middle class Argentines as well as foreign tourists (i.e. us). The traditional low houses have been adapted into boutiques and bars, creating a bohemian feel - especially in Palermo Soho - where there is also a crafts fair.

We stopped there for some (very) late lunch and a few beers.

Repleat we made our way back in our hotel for more beers at the bar. A little bit worse for wear we popped up to the room to pack and had an early night.
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Friday, April 01, 2011

I kept my promise, Don't keep your distance...

On Andy and Tim's recommendation we decided to take train north to the town of Tigre for a day trip. Tigre is at the base of a massive river delta composing five and a half thousand square miles of waterways and islands and we'd heard it was a fun place to visit. We'd heard right.

We took the Mitre Line train from Buenos Aires Retiro station to Bartolomé Mitre station. There we changed trains to Maipú station onto the Tren de la Costa Line. This offered a rather scenic riverside route on up to Tigre.

Tigre itself was fairly well-heeled with rowing clubs, colonial houses and a distinct European feel to it. It was the delta we'd come to see though.

We booked some return tickets at the quay to take a water bus to another of Tim and Andy's recommendations (hey, they'd not steered us wrong so far), a beautiful restaurant called Gato Blanco (White Cat), situated an hour or so upstream deep in the delta.

En route we saw that many of the delta islands are actually pretty big. There were houses, restaurants, schools, banks and all manner of amenities perched on these isolated outcrops. Each building had it's own jetty and was only accessible by water. So up and down the complex maze of rivers that make up the aquatic terrain chugged water buses, water taxis, canoes, kayaks, pleasure boats of all sizes, speed boats, gin palaces, behemoth tourist traps and all sorts of service boats from floating petrol stations to floating banks. Quite amazing really.

Once at our isolated restaurant we jumped off and settled ourselves down at a riverside table and a sumptuous lunch including the madatory massive steak and what was fast becoming our favourite wine of the trip - Norton Clasico Tinto.

We leisurely took in the river scene, quaffed a hearty glass of the red and both agreed - this is the life. Even the synonymous, and real, white cat at our feet seemed to agree. Mind you, he was after a morsel of what was on our plates so his opinion was perhaps somewhat biased.

Our meal over and our photo opportunites taken we took the last boat back down river to Tigre as the sun was sinking low in the sky. We could see why everyone smiles in this part of the world. What a lovely place.

Our boat driver made frequent stops along the way dropping off letters to private homes and picking up the odd extra passenger who needed a lift. He handled the vessel with pinpoint precision using his ship's little wheel and the powerful twin engines darting across the river as nimbly as a hummingbird dancing from flower to flower reversing the stern of the boat so as to barely touched the end of each jetty.

Once back in Tigre we got the regular, I hesitate to say fast, direct train back to Buenos Aires.

Back at our hotel, pleasantly tired, we fell into bed. It was a lovely day.

And the previous Friday night's pre-nightclub racket failed to materialise either. Bliss.
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