Lovely Sunday

This morning, I actually woke up without an alarm and before P, which hasn’t happened in a very long time. After only 10 hours sleep, I felt like I’d been in bed long enough, so I got up. This is momentous – it hasn’t happened in ages and ages. Usually I can sleep through several alarms and don’t notice time. It’s not that unusual for me to sleep well over 12 hours, and it’s usually my clock-radio and my internal understanding of the Radio 4 schedule that get me out of bed. “Crap! You and Yours already!?”

So this morning, I got up, breakfasted and sat down to work, and had laid out three Focuses before 11am. Then, since P was up and it was a nice day, we decided to head out. My first thought was Newstead Abbey, one in a long list of Nottingham and Notts tourist attractions that I haven’t visited. However, the Abbey has closed for the winter, so although we could have gone around the gardens and used the caff, we wouldn’t have been able to see the Abbey. I’ll put that on the list of things to do after the elections.

Instead we ended up going out to Southwell with the intention of seeing both the National Trust Workhouse there and the Minster. In the end, we only had time to go around the Workhouse. We left after Evensong would have started, so weren’t sure whether we go around as tourists.

The Workhouse upsold us from 2 x entry fees to yearly membership by direct debit – not entirely sure we wanted to do that, but it seemed like a good idea at the time.

The Workhouse was an interesting visit, anyway. It’s part of the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience, too. It took us several hours to go around it with audioguides. The building is big, and excellently restored, but largely consists of empty rooms. They explain that there’s not much documentary evidence about how workhouses used to be furnished. It’s the audioguide that explains the context of the rooms, and gives you an idea of what sorts of things used to happen at workhouses. It must be a little odd being a volunteer there watching the various visitors wander around silently like zombies.

The Workhouse in Southwell was in use as a Workhouse for over 200 years up until the 1940s. The last two rooms tell you about what the building was used for since then, including being a bedsit for single mothers in the 70s, with an interview with someone only a little older than us who lived there. A local guide also told us it was used as a county council records store and a training centre for police dogs. Just before the NT acquired it, planning permission had been granted to convert it to luxury flats. Instead we get a fascinating museum.


Green Tax stalls

I’ve spent the last two days promoting the new Lib Dem Green Tax Switch policy on Chesterfield’s markets and in Nottingham city centre.

A few months ago, the central party offered us goodies like pre-printed leaflets and correx boards and stickers if we’d sign up to standing in the middle of town and talking to people.

We hired a market stall yesterday in Chesterfield, and talked to hundreds of people.  Being a contact point was a real plus; standing there with our council leader, our MP and our MEP meant we almost always had the right person to field questions if we were short of knowledge ourselves.  And being so prominent in Chesterfield meant lots of people wanted to talk to us.  We actually didn’t get on to talking about the environment all that often.
In Nottingham today we stationed ourselves in a very busy part of town and handed out our flyers, but most people were too busy to stop and talk to us. We distributed a lot of flyers – fewer than I thought, but still hundreds.  It will be interesting to see how many get returned.

And the differences between the two sets of people?  In Chesterfield, there was a trend for woolen scarves that look like tinsel, and I didn’t see that in Nottingham.  In Nottingham the most striking thing was the eye make-up!  So much of it!

Aye-aye cap’n

My handwriting must be getting worse.

A few weeks ago when I had to get envelopes at short notice for an urgent members’ mailing I allowed myself to be signed up for a loyalty card for Nottingham Lib Dems.

I duly filled in the form, and today they posted me my membership card.

The first two lines of the address read

Capt Alex Foster
Nottiongham Cib Demc

Aye-aye cap'n

My handwriting must be getting worse.

A few weeks ago when I had to get envelopes at short notice for an urgent members’ mailing I allowed myself to be signed up for a loyalty card for Nottingham Lib Dems.

I duly filled in the form, and today they posted me my membership card.

The first two lines of the address read

Capt Alex Foster
Nottiongham Cib Demc

On the internet…

… no-one knows you’re a dog.

Richard Allan has just posted a link to the famous New Yorker cartoon.

It’s been used on some forums I read recently as a reason why internet voting might not be the best idea.  The Government is currently looking for local authorities to pilot internet voting at the next round of local elections.

What struck me is how old that cartoon is – July 5th, 1993. My, how the internet has taken off since then.

Weekend away

Lovely long weekend away ringing with The Fods in and around Exeter and then going on to stay with a friend from SAS down in Cornwall, when co-incidentally, a lot of other SASsers were down there too.

Lots of driving, and a very stressful few minutes on the way home via my parents trying to find a cash machine before crossing the Severn Bridge, during which I damaged my car paintwork.

But apart from that, a blissful relaxing holiday. Lots of nice Fodsers in the first bit, and some interesting churches. Completely ran out of energy by the end of the evening – particularly after the huge long climb to the ringing chamber in Exeter Cathedral – so stayed in and had a hot bath and an early night, along with a sneaky bottle of local cider.

And in the second bit, it was very nice to see a beautiful part of the country with friends I normally only sing with. Spending a few days in and around Bude, Boscastle and Tintagel, even at this time of year when the weather is a wee bit variable, was great. Spending a little bit of time getting to know some friends a little better was also greatly appreciated.

I do have a feeling of “shore leave now cancelled” – I’ve had my last holiday for a while. I’ve been trying to work out whether I can spare a long weekend in December for a pop over to Germany – Berlin? Cologne? – for some Christmas markets, but I probably won’t be able to fit it in. We’re working hard at planning next year’s elections: both the easy-to-plan local elections in May and the oh-my-god-surely-not prospect of a General Election in October, in the early days of a Brown Government. Getting Lib Dems elected and re-elected is harder work than getting people from the other two main parties back in, so we have to start a bit earlier.

One other thing from the weekend away – I was away from t’internet for four whole days.  So I was trying to post-to-blog using my mobile phone and Flickr, and often thwarted by there being no suitable 3G signal in rural Cornwall or Devon.  My phone gets unreliable if there are too many emails with attachments sitting around, and there were a number of emails stuck in my outbox for days.  Or so I thought.  It turns out that Flickr has received hundreds and hundreds of copies of a few pictures that I thought were stuck.  It’s going to take days to delete them all, and I’m going to get stuck with a huge data bill this month.  Bah!

Top Marks

Top marks to Mr M. Dome, the cuddly elephant from the Isle of Dogs, for his wonderful post bringing together a whole host of daft Government spouting over the last few days, in The Only Opus Dei in the Village.

As always, Millennium has some wonderful turns of phrase

What [Mrs Ruth Kelly] wants is for people to be able to discriminate against gay daddies for no reason other than a four-thousand year old copy of “Rough Guide to the Sinai” says so.


Typically, Mr Balloon is waiting to discover which way the wind is blowing before COURAGEOUSLY leading in whatever direction public opinion is already blowing. This would have been a good time to DEMONSTRATE how he really meant all those things he said about INCLUSIVELY and CHANGE. Oh dear, another opportunity BLOWN.

(Mr Balloon currently leads the Conservatory Party)

And some brilliant comedy allusions

The Catholic Church, which – it says here – regards homosexuality as a SIN, has suggested adoption agencies would close down rather than obey.

If only it was so easy to convince other BIGOTS!

Elephant: dear Ku Klux Klan, you must obey equality legislation about black people;

Grand Wizard: oh, well in that case we’re all just a-hangin’ up our cotton-pickin’ WHITE SHEETS and darn well GOIN’ ON HOME!

Another fantastic point the cuddly elephant makes that had totally passed me by and hasn’t cropped up on anything else I read is there’s a little hypocrisy between one Government minister saying someone’s religion is getting the way of her job (if she wears a veil to work) and another Government minister saying her religion stops her implementing Government policy of greater equality for gay people.

Not everyone gets Millennium Dome, and I have to confess I don’t read every word he or Alex Wilcock writes (there are so darn many of them!) but they’re the sort of Liberal Democrat I wanna be if I grow up.