Life on Mars, DI Sam Tyler

Holiday destinations

While I was in Manchester this afternoon, I noticed the exchange rates Marks & Spencer were offering in their forex department. Apparently £1 will now get you just 1.34 Swiss francs. I knew there was a reason I haven't been to Switzerland for around 20 years, and that's it. I was a regular visitor in the 80s and early 90s, but even when we got SFr 3.10 for £1 it was a pricy destination. I dread to think what it's like now!
Life on Mars, DI Sam Tyler

Enforced break.

So I'm currently spending time taking things easy after having my Carpal Tunnel Relief surgery last Friday. Must say I was quite impressed with the NHS - I had my appointment at 1.50 p.m. in Macclesfield, arranged to take an earlier than necessary train (which was just as well as I'd have missed my connection in Stockport if I'd gone as planned (signal problems between Euston and Watford)), had lunch at Subway, turned up in good time for the appointment, met the surgeon, gone through the description of the procedure, signed the consent form, had the operation, and was on my way out of the clinic by 2.18 p.m. Must say I've had more pain at the dentists before now! Stopped off at the pharmacy to buy some Ibuprofen 400 (not needed any since yesterday), then 2 minutes' walk to Macclesfield station, and I was back in Crewe by 3.30 p.m., before the local anaesthetic wore off.

Must say shaving's a bit awkward when you don't have the use of your right hand - I must feel a bit like Jamie Lannister does! Anyway, I'm signed off for the next 4 weeks, so I shall probably do some catch-up reading, watch Game of Thrones (don't miss the last 10 minutes of this weeks' episode!), and maybe have a few days out if the weather's nice when my hand's better.
Life on Mars, DI Sam Tyler

Catch up...

Hmm, more than 6 months since my last posting. Life goes on, nothing much happens, though I'm looking forward to Eastercon and the new season of Game of Thrones at the end of the month. Not so much looking forward to April - I've been diagnosed with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome in my right hand, which is a bit of a pain (literally and metaphorically), and I'm scheduled for a small operation to relieve it on April 19th - the actual op only takes 20-30 minutes on an outpatient basis, but it's good for 3-4 weeks off work to recover afterwards. Also on the medical front, I'm waiting for test results to come back to see if I'm diabetic or not - can't say it would be a huge surprise if I am, but we'll see...
  • Current Music
    Afro Celt Sound System - Further in Time
Life on Mars, DI Sam Tyler

Why I will need a holiday after my holidays...

Oh my aching feet....

I'm just spending a week based in Dublin on my holidays. Arrived yesterday after having had about 4 hours sleep on Friday night as I had to wake up at 0500 to catch the 0623 train to Holyhead which is the recommended connection for the 1000 sailing to Dun Laoghaire (there is another train half an hour later which would probably be OK , but you have to check-in 30-60 minutes before the advertised sailing time - these days if everyone who's booked is already aboard, the ship will sail early so it can cross over more slowly and save fuel). Arrived in Connolly Station about 1230, hung around for about an hour - quick snacks etc - before making it to my hotel just after the earliest check-in time of 1400. Slight problem in that they seemed to have mislaid my reservation, which is why it's a good idea to print off the confirmation and bring it with you! All sorted out in the end, which is just as well because Dublin seems to be insanely busy this weekend - there was a GAA All-Ireland semifinal between Cork and Donegal this afternoon which meant the place was overrun in people in red and yellow shirts; the score was Donegal 0-16, Cork 1-11, which in my complete ignorance of GAA sports doesn't intuitively tell me who won (ah, apparently it was Donegal). There were also apparently around a million and a quarter extra visitors over four days watching the Tall Ships race (they were just leaving when I got to see them, but the Mexican ship Cuauhtemoc is really impressive, and flies a huge ensign which looks rather out of scale with the rest of the vessel).

Anyway, had an early night last night, or rather I lay on the bed and suddenly woke up at 0430 to find Sky News giving a eulogy for Neil Armstrong which was a bit disquieting, to think that the people who walked on the moon are now dying off from the effects of old age. I was 10 back in 1969 and remember watching the landing live that Sunday (I think it was) night, though I had to go to bed before the first steps and didn't see it until next morning. I was already an SF fan by then, and really expected us to be a lot further out into the solar system by now.... life can be really disappointing sometimes.

So, on to Sunday. Really nice day weatherwise (sunny, about 18 degrees), which is more than can be said for the forecast for Monday. Took the Dublin Bus tour, which at least gives me a ticket valid for 2 days while I figure out how the regular bus system works. I may end up in the Guinness Storehouse tomorrow, since most of the museums are closed on Monday (what else can you do on a wet Monday in Dublin?). On the other hand, I was sufficiently organised this year that I've actually got my retired-railway-staff free tickets for Irish Rail (the system's so antiquated the coupon actually refers to it as "CIE") and I also got the coupon for Translink (or "NIR" as the coupon says) so I might catch a train up to Belfast just to see what it's like, since it's somewhere I've never been before, or Cork.
After the bus tour I decided to go down to the Docklands to see the Tall Ships. Unfortunately it seems that most of the population of Dublin did too - the LUAS trams were absolutely rammed, standing room only to the point you couldn't get through the doors. The Quays were packed, and there was a lot going on around the Grand Canal Dock in the way of extreme sports, BMX bikers, skateboarders, etc. Very thankful for the use of smartphones - although I am religiously turning off data roaming on my iPhone most of the time (it charges me £2 a day for up to 25MB of data and 69p a megabyte thereafter, which is cheaper than last year when I hit the EU's €50 a month default limit within three days) it's still useful to be able to use the maps function whenever you're lost and want to find the way to a DART station!  Fortunately the hotel has free broadband in the rooms, so I'm not going through full cold turkey, but it's disconcerting to be off the net most of the day - how on earth did I manage for the first 36 years of my life?

Back home next Friday afternoon, just in time for my birthday. Only six more years before I qualify for my full railway pension (well, full as in half the amount I'd have got if they hadn't made me redundant in 2002, but full as in "not reduced because you started drawing it early"!), but 12 years now until my state pension.
selfie, Arwel

The most interesting thing to happen round here in years!

I just got off the train from Manchester about 6.30 p.m. and was walking home along Nantwich Road in Crewe (the main east-west traffic artery in the south of the town) when I noticed a police car blocking the traffic from continuing down the road. I happened to meet up with my next-door-but-one neighbour and we continued down the street to see a large crowd on one side of the street, and lots of "Police Do Not Cross" tape, about six marked police cars, (goodness knows how many unmarked ones), two paramedic cars, an ambulance, a fire engine, and the Cheshire Police helicopter. 

Talking to people in the crowd, it appears the police were chasing someone who was to be recalled to prison for 28 days for breach of his licence terms, and he'd taken to the roof of a block of shops (some say he lived in one of the flats over the shops) and was refusing  to come down since about 5.30 p.m., threatening to jump, and throwing the occasional roofing tile at the police. Apparently the crowd of customers from the pub just up the street urging him to jump to get it over with didn't help! It looks like he's planning to stay up there, and the police are just going to wait for him to give up. I watched for about an hour before giving up as not much was happening, but the incident is ongoing as I write this.  It's rather a pity that the weather is nice for a change, today - if it was raining as much as it has usually done this summer, I doubt he'd be so keen to stay up there!
selfie, Arwel

Life and Wikipedia

Sad to hear of the death of Robin Gibb of the Bee Gees tonight, even though not a great surprise after hearing of his illness some time ago. The Bee Gees were around when I was a small boy - I remember my older brother bought "Massachusetts", and they had quite a career back in the 60s and 70s.

Anyway, I was watching BBC News when they announced the death, and I thought I might have a chance to make a quick update to his Wikipedia entry (I don't usually bother updating entries when someone dies these days, because there are so many editors they've usually been updated by the time I get there!). I only managed to get the {{recentdeath}} template in place, and after several edit conflicts managed to update the infobox birth/death date templates, before I gave up! I just took a look at the various other language versions of his Wikipedia article, and was most impressed to see the death date up on nearly all the other versions (except Latin, Esperanto, Catalan, and oddly, Swedish) within half an hour of the news being announced... admittedly I did edit the Welsh version myself, and changed "yw" to "oedd" ("is" to "was"), but that was about the limit of my editing. I'm really amazed at the speed with which Wikipedia gets updated these days when something happens.
  • Current Music
    Saturday Night Fever
selfie, Arwel

Obsolete technology

Sad news a couple of days ago, of the death of former Monkee Davy Jones - I was 8 when they first hit the airwaves on this side of the Atlantic - if memory serves, they had the Doctor Who timeslot early on Saturday evenings on BBC1 (though it might even still have been called BBC Television in those days), and reading about the Monkees in my brother's copy of the New Musical Express was one way I got quite precocious at reading.

Anyway,amidst all the tributes it was mentioned that his fellow-Monkee Mike Nesmith's mother was the inventor of Liquid Paper, or Tipp-Ex as the favourite brand is known over here, and I got to thinking how the product must have become virtually obsolete with the widespread adoption first of wordprocessors and now of general office computers. I know it must be something like 20 years since I last had cause to use the stuff anyway!
selfie, Arwel

Unwanted Christmas Present

So I took one the two days' leave I have to take this week (it's use it before the end of the year or lose it), and had my annual specs eye test, with the full glaucoma test, photos of the inside of the eye, measurement of the thickness of my cornea (5 microns, apparently), and at the end of it the verdict was that my eyes are in good shape for their age, but the left eye has deteriorated in the three years since I last had new spectacles, so here's a prescription for new varifocal lenses and would you like to choose a new frame? I wouldn't mind so much if I actually wore my glasses more often, but I prefer to wear my contact lenses instead, so I doubt I'll get much use from the £396.10 I've just handed over....