Spud planting

Managed finally to find some time to get my potatoes in the ground, after buying them months ago.

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I’m not sure if this actually is potatoes or whether it’s the next Dr Who monster. It was getting to the point where if I didn’t plant them in the ground soon, they were going to take root in my sitting room, something that surely wouldn’t have been popular with ‘im indoors.

So this afternoon, I went over the friend’s house where the garden is that I’ll be using as an allotment, and got to work.

It took about three hours to turn this:

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Via this

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To this:

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… with which I am quite impressed, and which gives the entirely false impression that I actually know what I am doing.

There are about 4kg of seed potatoes in the ground, and the tripods are for drying beans (which I have been singing to the tune of the Crying Game all day) and runner beans.   Potatoes come without instructions, so I dunno whether they are deep enough, properly spaced, etc, etc.  I don’t know how long it will take to see anything, and probably, the minute my back is turned, the local squirrels will leap into action, dig them all back up again and eat them.

There was one rather brave robin who kept showing up to eat recently unearthed bugs, which was rather sweet.

Lets see how it all goes!

Today’s trip

Rather less exciting than yesterday’s, today’s trip was down the road to the
V-E-T.

Caged beasties

Fudge is fine. He’s beaten the UTI he had earlier in the year, and has even lost weight, so that he’s down to his target weight of just under 5kg.  All that ignoring him demanding food has paid off.  If only it was as easy for the rest of us to diet.

Smudge wasn’t quite so happy though.  He’s not been well for the last couple of days, and we have been woken three or four times in the night to hear him make a noise quacking like a duck.  This has got worse until he’s gurgling instead of breathing most of the night time hours, and last night, he was sick four times (that we know of) around the house.

Clearly a problem.  By chance, the vet we saw for the routine check-up is the vet we should have been to see for Smudge’s heart at some point in the year.  (Has it really been a year?)  He was able to give an opinion without an ultrasound: severe, untreatable, congenital heart problem, probably been like since birth, and will most likely cause him to die suddenly and without warning sooner than you’d expect a cat to die.

But the gurgling and vomiting was actually a symptom of something else: feline asthma, probably brought on by tree and flower pollen that’s suddenly in the air a lot at this time of year.  Unfortunately, the treatment for feline asthma is not generally good for the heart…  So the vet has given him a lower dose of the treatment, we have to monitor his respiration every day or so when he’s resting to see whether his breathing gets easier, and pop back to the surgery next week to see how things are getting on.  And hopefully, no more piles of cat sick to clean up the following morning.

In deep sleep hear sound
cat vomit hairball somewhere
will find in morning.

The idea that we can expect one of the cats suddenly to die without warning at any time in the next five years is a bit strange.  I suppose we just have to concentrate on making life comfy for him on a day to day basis and take each day as we find it.  We could all be hit by a bus tomorrow! (must write will…)

Fascinating road-trip today

Ed Maxfield and Sutton Bridge Power Station Spent today 80 miles and more from here with Ed Maxfield in Lincolnshire touring a gas fired power station at Sutton Bridge and speaking to a migrant workers chaplain based in Boston.

The Sutton Bridge power station, on the River Nene and the far boundary of the East Midlands, was interesting, and I wish I could have taken more photos. The tour guide, one of the few members of staff at the power station, said I needed to be sure my digital camera was “intrinsically safe”, which seemed to mean being rock solid certain that it would not make any sparks that could have ignited a cloud of gas that could have escaped. They were highly safety concious – as visitors, we were equipped with hard hats, safety goggles and steel-capped boots to change into, and as we were going round, many of the areas had sweet-dispensers near the door giving out ear plugs to safeguard our hearing.

The power station has two gas turbines, and the waste heat from each of them is collected, turns water into steam, and this steam drives a third turbine. Each of the turbines produces about 250MW, and whilst we were there the whole plant was producing about 740MW. Compared to nearby small town Kings Lynn, which has energy requirements of about 10MW that’s rather a lot of power!

Some fascinating facts:

  • the plant uses in a second the amount of gas the average home uses in a year – 2% of the nation’s entire gas supply
  • steam is 17,000 times greater by volume than water
  • they use natural gas from the gas grid, but they take it out before the artificial smell is added
  • the plant was about 54% efficient, which is apparently good
  • They get through 100 tonnes of ordinary drinking water every day

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Intrapersonal / musical thinker

You are an Intrapersonal thinker
Intrapersonal thinker Intrapersonal thinkers:

  • Spend a lot of time thinking about and trying to understand themselves
  • Reflect on their thoughts and moods, and work to improve them
  • You understand how your behaviour affects your relationships with others
Like intrapersonal thinkers, Leonardo worked hard to improve all aspects of himself. Other Intrapersonal thinkers include
Sigmund Freud, Gandhi, Grahame GreeneCareers which suit Intrapersonal Thinkers include
Psychologist, Teacher, Pilot, Child care worker, Explorer, Drama therapist
You are a Musical Thinker
Musical thinker Musical thinkers:

  • Tend to think in sounds, and may also think in rhythms and melodies
  • Are sensitive to the sounds and rhythms of words as well as their meanings.
  • Feel a strong connection between music and emotions
Like many musical thinkers, Leonardo loved to sing, and had a fine voice Other Musical Thinkers include
Mozart, John Lennon, Jimi HendrixCareers which suit Musical Thinkers include
Musician, Music teacher, Sound engineer, Recording technician

Well. Mixed bag there. Nothing particularly helpful in the career suggestions.  Take the test yourself.
Anyhoo, this intrapersonal / musical thinker has been stuffing envelopes for the last three hours solid and now has to pop out to the sorting office.

Eurovision III

Another thing we discussed last night related to the relative size of the nations involved. Andorra has a population of 72,000, Germany a population of over 80,000,000. Andorra can allocate as many points as Germany, meaning an Andorran vote is worth over 1,100 German votes.

Can we use this to our advantage? What if we sent songs in for each of our nations and regions instead of a UK entry? What if we had a Welsh song, a Scottish song, a Northern Irish entry, and an English one?

That way, we’d also get the opportunity for separate Welsh, Scottish, Northern-Irish and English allocations of points. It could make all the difference.

We thought about this for a bit and eventually decided England would probably still end up bottom of the league table, as allowing our nations to vote separately would probably encourage them to vote for anyone but us.

Flying the Flag

So, Eurovision was a little disappointing. I was at a party with close friends, some of whom had got into the swing of things very much, watching the semi-final, following the acts, etc, and some of whom hadn’t at all.

The house we were in was in the throes of being decorated, which allowed us to stick things to the walls, and our host had prepared a full set of flags for the countries who qualified, and as each song was sung, we stuck a flag to the wall, higher or lower depending on whether the assembled throng liked the song or not.

Here’s our final ranking:

strangely patriotic

Germany, Sweden, Greece and the Ukraine came top of our list. But our own song – Scooch – for which obviously we weren’t allowed to vote, was a big hit at our party. Many people there hadn’t seen it before, and really liked the moves, the routine and the innuendo that went with the song.

The nations were divvied up between the attendees, who had to come with a drink and a dessert from their countries. I found Romanian and Bulgarian wine, and made a Charlotka (Apple Charlotte – my version was basically a bread pudding with apple purée spread on the slices of bread). Spot prizes were awarded during the evening for a number of arbitrary categories like “Scariest Lead Singer”, “Most Sexually Offensive Dance Routine”, and “Least Clothes by End of Set”. There were also detailed factsheets for each of the nations filled in with entirely spurious comedy facts.

So, the evening progressed, I twittered a bit, and we were all in fine fettle.

And then the voting began.

We voted Germany, Sweden, Finland, Ukraine and think the UK should be in with a real chance partic when West Yurp reacts to being voted out.

Our working hypothesis was that the new tranche of Eastern European countries had voted for each other to force the Western European countries out at the semi final stage. But those countries all still had votes. We rather expected them to be voting against the Eastern bloc on principle.

But it didn’t happen.

No votes? None at all? Mood at party plummeting. I blame Tony Blair.

Halfway through the voting we were languishing at the bottom of the table on 0, having failed to score any high points from any other country, and worse, also having failed to score any of the low ranking points either! We were down there with Latvia and Ireland. We hadn’t liked Ireland’s song, and Latvia’s tenor ensemble wasn’t too bad, but certainly didn’t deserve 0.

Deflated debate ensued about whether they hadn’t liked the song – perhaps it was too irreverent? Too blatantly sexual? More like pop from a decade ago?

Or do our European neighbours really hold us in such low regard?

Or is it just the Eastern European bloc, with its high numbers of small nations, each with high numbers of points to allocate, and with loads of equally small neighbours to placate, skewing the vote?

Then the unthinkable happened!

Now even Ireland and Latvia have something! And us on nil! I’m definitely getting a Scooch-based ring-tone.

Latvia and Ireland managed to score before us! How could this be?

I absented myself from the room to answer a call of nature, and missed all the countries who did actually favour us with their votes, but I heard the cheering from the other end of the house.

Turkey?! 12 points to Turkey? Ireland deserve to tank, but SCOOCH WUZ ROBBED! The creepy serbian lesbos have it.

So by this time, fully deflated, we turned over to watch the TOTP2 Eurovision special, and attempt to finish off the food.

I wonder if I should write Scooch a letter – they must be feeling awful!

One good thing to come out of the evening – I have finally found a strong enough super maxi supreme ultra grip hair gel to do what I want to do with my hair…

Eurovision contest costume

(That was my “straight-one-from-scooch” costume – strangely enough, I had a ready supply of yellow ties and just needed to find white shirt, blue jacket for that impromptu airline pilot look.)