23 May 2010

Summer Weekend

Hasn't the weekend been lovely.

I left work on Friday and my wife and I decided that we would have a 'strategy meeting' at our local public house. It's funny that we've lived in our current house for 10 1/2 years, and it was only last summer that we started visiting our local which is only about 100 yards for the house.

We spent about an hour there putting the world to rights, and then headed home for a quick evening meal before settling in for a meeting with our friend 'Jack Daniels'.

Saturday morning I was woken with a start when someone should out 'plan' and I lent over to turn the alarm clock off. I have no idea why - my alarm clock rings, and I knew I hadn't set it. By the time I realised I was already awake so decided to get up and sort my life out.

We recently got one of these power monitors from our electrical supplier. Whilst doing the housework, I was watching the display. Word of warning - having the washing machine, dishwasher and kettle on at the same time uses a lot of energy.

As I was up so early, all the washing was finished and hanging out by 8am. A visit to the supermarket was then in order. Nothing much was required but we still spent over £100.

We then headed back home and were able to begin relaxing. And that is what we have done all weekend. We have done nothing all weekend other than sit in the garden watching the world go by and enjoying the beautiful weather.

Unfortunately it doesn't look as though this is going to stay with us for the bank holiday - no great surprise there. Oh well, back to work tomorrow. Hopefully things won't be too busy and we'll be able to get on top of our jobs.

15 May 2010

Bouncy Castles

I may have mentioned this on a number of occasions, but our brother-in-law has his own bouncy castle business.

Last year we were called on a lot to assist him with putting the castles out and then collecting them again. For the majority of the year we enjoyed the work. It was a complete change from our day to day work and meant we also got some much needed exercise. The castles range from an 8' x 8' ball pit for the little children up to a 25' high slide.

For some reason, towards the end of last season, the question of how much money we were getting was raised. We're not sure why, but it was felt that we charged too much and we always came as a pair. This put our backs up a bit to be honest. We both felt that we didn't change a lot for our time, and we worked hard when we were called upon. We felt that we never dictated how much we should be paid, and if they only wanted one of us, they should have said.

However, as the season was drawing to a close we didn't pursue it any longer. This year we have realised that working all those weekends caused us a number of issues last year, most noticably, when do we get the washing/shopping and cleaning done. This year we have therefore decided that we are only available one day each weekend.

Today was the first day we'd been used this year. We were supposed to assist last weekend, but the expect rain put paid to that job.

The hirer today was church in Horsham, West Sussex called Kingdom Faith. They have a number of events throughout the year and we are fortunate enough to be able to supply them with castles for these events. Today's task was to provide 6 castles for them, including the big slide.

We arrived on site at 7:30am and started more or less straight away. Working as a team, the three of us unloaded the castles from the two vans, tied up the blowers and the redudant tubes, and then plugged all the electrics into the generator. Once the blowers were working, we were then able to hammer in the pins holding the castles down, and putting out the safety mats. All told this took us 1 1/2 hours. A great effort by all of us.

Packing up the castles took a bit longer as we needed to take all the air out of them before rolling them up again and then delivering everything to the secure lock-up but this only took 3 hours.

We're not needed again this coming weekend, but maybe soon we'll be required.

9 May 2010

Bluebell Railway Southern at War Weekend

We were due to be busy this weekend helping our brother-in-law with his bouncy castle business but due to expected rain we found some time on our hands. Originally we were going to head of to Knowle House in Kent, but after seeing an advert in the local paper we decided to head of to the Bluebell Railway instead.

This weekend was a special event with a Southern at War theme. The highlight for us was to be a fly past of a Dakota at Horsted Keynes during Saturday afternoon. Unfortunately the weather was a bit overcast so this had been cancelled.

This didn't stop our enjoyment of the day which started early from Sheffield Park. After a visit to the engine shed, we then boarded the train.

Many years ago, I was one of the volunteers at the Bluebell Railway and worked on many of the carriages. However in all my years working there, I never once travelled on the Observation Car (see below).

For only a £1 supplement, we were able to view the line as we travelled all the way to Kingscote. Once there, we spent a short while looking at all the attractions before heading back to Horsted Keynes.

A number of different 'situations' had been set up here, and it was great seeing all the people getting dressed up and into the spirit of the occasion. We had the Home Guard doing they bayonet practice on one of the platforms, a gun emplacement configured at the end of another platform, and a number of demonstrations of vehicles, air raid shelters and cooking with minimal ingredients.

After viewing all the 'shows' we then headed back to Sheffield Park to collect the car. All in all it was a thoroughly enjoyable day, and reminded me of why I loved working there, and the thrill the engines gave as they travelled the line. Hopefully my favourite engine (75027) will be overhauled soon as I'll once again be able to travel the line behind it.

In the meantime, I'm looking forward to the Giants in Steam weekend in October when Tornado will be making a visit.

4 May 2010

Social Networking Sites

I'm rather torn about Facebook and the whole idea of social networking sites.

I'm not really sure why anyone wants the world to know what they're up to. So what if one of my friends is going to the pub tonight, or going on holiday to Las Vegas for the weekend.

Years ago, the clue that someone was on holiday was when they forgot to cancel their milk delivery. Now all someone needs to do is trawl through Facebook and other social networking sites and you'll be able to find out who's not at home and therefore leaving their property open to visits by some un-savoury characters.

I've tried Facebook, and I'm guessing it's a way of keeping in touch with lost relativies. Amazingly there are other options available as well for example the telephone or even email, but it seems that unless you notify someone about something via Facebook then it doesn't really matter. I know of people who announce to their 'friends' via Facebook that they are now engaged, rather than telling their own family in person.

The other thing is all the Facebook games. I've tried some of them, and after a while you get to a point where you can't do anything more. For example Social City. A fun little game along the lines of SimCity. Being a meglomanic at heart, I enjoy these sorts of games. But you get to a point where unless you have a number of 'Friends' playing these games and want to be your neighbours, then you're stuck.

I don't want to hassle my friends to find out if they are playing Social Farm City Ville. I don't care what everyone else is doing.

For me, Facebook will be around just because you have to these days, but for talking to my immediate family I'll rely on that proven telephone technology, and for the games I think I will stick to board games. They're more social so sure that makes a mockery of the definition 'Social Networking'.

3 May 2010

Treated like Children

The media need to forget that people do have brains. They don't need to be fed everything as if they were babies. Our knowledge has improved in the 40+ years I've been on this Earth, but I feel that I'm treated worse now that I was in the past.

Thank you to whoever invented the PVR. It's a godsend for commercial stations. Not only can I speed through the commercial breaks, but before each one, we get told what's going to happen in the next segment, and then afterwards we're told what happened before the break.

I don't think we have lost the ability to remember things. Amazingly there are still people talking, writing, eating, walking, driving and loads of other things that we've learnt over the years. To be told what's going to happen in 10 minutes just so that I continue watching a television programme is stupid. Trust me - if you're programme has got my attention, it is probable that I will continue watching. If it's not that good, then I won't be staying whatever you tell me.

2 May 2010

Football in the Media

What is it with the media these days and the way that football is reported.

When I was younger, the sports reporter would come on the screen and say for example, "Match of the Day is on after this programme. If you don't want to know the results then look away". They would then display the results in complete silence. Once the results were removed, they would begin talking.

Now I've noticed some of the reports saying the same thing, "Match of the Day is on after this programme. If you don't want to know the results then look away". They would then immediately tell you the results and give you information about the game. This doesn't provide any sort of service to the general public.

The other issue is that I believe that the Football League is made up of 4 divisions with approximately 92 clubs playing week-in and week-out. This fact seems to be forgotten by the majority of media outlets in the United Kingdom. Every outlet, both television and national newspapers concentrate on the clubs in the Premier League.

I admit that these clubs have large followings and prima donna players who are in the public eye all the time, but sometimes there are other issues affecting the lower league teams that seem to get passed over with a matter-of-fact attitude.

Today for example, the outlets all seemed to concentrate on the battle of the Premiership title. It's a big decision as to who will win the league, but providing you've got enough money you will be able to win. When was the last time someone outside London/Liverpool or Manchester won the title. I can remember when the title was won by Nottingham Forest and Leeds United. That won't happen again for a long time.

Today there was a major game being played at the foot of the Championship for two clubs that shouldn't be there. One unfortunately has had a lot of bad results, and the other was docked 10 points due to in-efficient financial management and overpaid players. Depending on the result, one of the two teams were going to be playing in League Division 1 (the old 3rd division).

The teams in question were Sheffield Wednesday and Crystal Palace. Neither of these clubs should have been in this position, but it didn't rate a lot of exposure on any of the main news channels. OK - it might not have the pull of Chelsea v Manchester United, but there were 37,000 at the game, and numerous fans at home all hanging on this game.

Come on BBC/ITV & Sky. Look outside the Premiership some time. The passion is there in the lower leagues. You just need to get outside your bubbles and have a look for it.