Friday, March 31, 2006

DVD Review - Trumpton

Not far from Camberwick Green is the bustling town of Trumpton. Packed with local characters, each with a story to tell and a song to sing. Here ’s a place, where the town clock strikes nine o'-clock, where good old fashioned values are the order of the day, and where there is honey still for tea.

Each well preserved episode is 15 minutes of sheer nostalgia. Born of a 60’s Britain and that post war ideology in which everyone had a trade and valuable place in the community, and where the Fire Station Band played every Thursday at 2:30pm at the band stand in the park, after rescuing cats and peoples hats from trees.

Trumpton's thirteen episodes were broadcast over and over again, throughout the seventies and eighties, personally making me think there were more episodes than there actually are. The common animated style across the 3 Trumptonshire villages blurred this distinction still further, and I was surprised to find that so few were produced and that each village could all be crammed onto one, all be it excellent, DVD.

This outstanding, and surprisingly short, series was narrated by Brian Cant (who else) and animated by master puppet maker Gordon Murray. Pre Chigley, and following the success of Camberwick Green, Trumpton is still a stop-motion triumph that hasn’t dated a jot. Here we have a disk of good solid kids stories, perfect for entertaining the pre teen youngsters, and the quality nostalgia of childhood for us aging generation x’ers.

“Pugh! Pugh! Barney McGrew! Cuthbert! Dibble! Grubb!”?

Movie: 4 out of 5
2 out of 5

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Change of Plan

Pig and Ellen will not be getting married on Saturday. They will, instead, be getting engaged.

Basically, they've both been married before and, I guess, just got cold feet. Fair doos says I.

I understand to be honest, and we'll still be havin' a big 'engagement party' and stuff at the weekend.
I'm lucky to have the Mrs I have, who understood about all the 'previous marrage baggage' etc. They're gonna do it by stages and it's the sensible thing. You need to be sure about such things as they're kinda permenant and all. Best to bottle it now than loose it later.

Good luck to em', and at least I won't have to make a speech...

She's Sold

Well, that's that then.

Just had a bell from John at
Sawley brokerage about Andromeda. The people were there at 9.30 this morning, cash in hand. In his words, "Don't worry, the money's in the bank".

I keep getting calls like "Er, which battery is which?" and "How do you pump out the shower?" All those questions we had in the first few days.

Pity we didn't get to
meet the new owners. They'll be sailin' her away around now.

End of an era.

Busy at Work

Dexter Mixwith - a man with a cock on his head

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

No Show

We took the day off today to meet and greet the new owners of Andromeda. It didn't happen.

Some kind of car emergency stopped them getting up here in time for us to do a proper hand over, and they hadn't shown with the money by 5 when the brokerage at
Sawley closed it's doors.

I hope this sorts it's self out soon or I'm gonna be well fracked off. I'm none too chuffed as it is, wasting a days holiday like this.

We faffed around and did some shopping and stuff, said goodbye to
Andromeda one last time, and tried to make the best of the day.

She smelt funny. Not of rabbits, or fresh bread, or coal fires.

I thought it'd be easier saying goodbye after 3 weeks ashore, but it wasn't. We'll both miss her, but she needs to go and to have more adventures. That's what boats her age should do.

How to live on Andromeda

When we decided to sell her, Jema wrote the following. As we're off to meet the new owners today, I'm including it here kinda for posterity and as random advice for anyone out there thinking of buying themselves a live-aboard. I hope it's some use to someone.

How to live on Andromeda!

(for the cooker and the Paloma)

The two gas bottles are located under the hatch at the very front of the boat. Turn the empty bottle off (it has arrows with open and close on the tap) and then the full bottle on. They last about 8 weeks of normal use of cooker and Paloma. The Paloma is in great working condition, which was commented on during our recent boat safety inspection.

Signs the gas is running out are if the cooker won’t light and the pilot light in the Paloma water heater has gone out. Sometimes there is a light odour before it starts to go.

To re light the Paloma turn the dial to the off position, push the knob in and turn to ignite, holding down for a few seconds, then turn knob to between the triple and double flame symbols. Adjust for heat.


The water tank is located via a small brass cover on the port side, just under the lip of the canvas awning. It is filled via a hose pipe etc. It is a large tank, thanks to her days as a hotel boat, so a tank full will usually do a week of showers and washing up and three loads of washing.

The water tank overflows. There is a possibility of the bilge flooding once it exceeds the overflow on the starboard bow, so don’t leave the hose filling it up for more than half an hour.

Signs the water is running out, include splutters from the taps or if the water goes cold while you’re showering (when there isn’t enough water pressure to keep the Paloma lit).

All water is heated by the Paloma and passes through a pump which pushes it round the pipes in the boat.

By turning the Paloma off on the stopcock underneath, and by turning the stop cock on in the wardrobe in the back cabin, you can heat the tank behind the fire (when it’s lit). The main pump is located under the bench in the outer front of the boat just to the right of the door, but the switch to turn the pump off is above the fire just under the porthole (it looks like a light switch) and would be handy in an emergency.


There is 12 volt power which runs the lights and fridge and 240 volt mains which is for the sockets, T.V. washing machine etc. The 240 comes from any mains connection, direct to the engine room socket. The 12 volts come from the batteries (also in the engine room) which we have, at times, recharged constantly by the mains supply (notice the twin battery demand-chargers). One is a travel battery, one is the fridge, and the others are the general household supply. The can be used/charged independently or together by using the large red 3 position switch. The fridge can be switched of independently and everything is ladled. We check the batteries monthly and top them up with distilled water when necessary.

A good guideline is not to have more than 6 lights on at any one time, or when the water pump cuts in you will blow the 12 volt fuse. If the fuse for the lights goes you can re set it by flicking the switch back to it’s place in the box in the study (to the right of the door) unscrew the little cover below the corkboard.


The shower is pumped out via a hand pump inside the box part of the shower, just lift up the sloping side. It moves backwards and forwards. Just using the hot tap is the best way to get a good temperature, let it run for a minute then adjust temperature at the Paloma, if necessary, and you’re sorted fro every time you want a shower.

Occasionally the shower pump will lose suction, this can be sorted by one person to place a hand over the outside hole while the other pumps till the suction starts again.


The toilet is pumped out via the handle above it which moves backwards and forwards. The screw-in point for the waste hose is located on the exterior of the hull, corresponding to the location of the pipe/pump in the bathroom. Around 60 pumps will totally empty the tank completely. There are 2 hoses, just in case one gets dropped in the water.

To start the engine, place the 2 brass rockers over to the left, switch the starter on (a light will come on under it, on the panel), press the starter button and, when she’s ready to catch, switch the 2 rockers over. She’ll then kick in.

When stopping the engine there’s a choke at the edge of the wooden deck. Pull up the choke and flick the 2 brass rockers over. She’ll come to a stop.

She is a large narrow boat, and was built in 1973. While the engine (to our knowledge) is in excellent order, please be gentle with her. We have always cruised in her, and unless you are on a river against a strong flow there is no reason to run her at full revs.

She likes her oil checking regularly, and the gear box fluid. Have a look at the dipstick when you come back from a weekend cruise (and keep and eye on the stern gland).


We kept a dehumidifier running in the bedroom, mainly for the benefit of storage under the bed. Best way to keep things in storage is in plastic boxes (not cardboard) but it’s well ventilated under there, any condensation problems were solved long ago.

The stove runs on solid fuel, we mainly used smokeless fuel which burned at not too hot a temperature.

Ultissima Olim Ultissima Galactica

Monday, March 27, 2006

Chocolate Bandwagon

Just to prove what a pathetic buzz-word podcasting truely is, check this for a sad gimmic born of a meeting where some bugga said "So, what's hot right now that we can use in an online campaign?" Podcasting. Yeah, let's make something using podcasting, it doesn't matter if it's not original, if it's not funny, or if nobody is going to download it. Gee, it worked for Ricky Gervais...

Basically, this is a talent contest based on podcasting. The idea being that they want to discover undiscovered talent, as long as it can be expressed through audio. Singers-songwriters, poets and/or writers can submit their mp3 and be featured in a weekly selection distributed as podcast. The public will then be able to download the file and vote for the best work.

Help me god.

An Offer

Just had a call from the brokerage at Sawley.

A couple, called 'The Crichlows', made an offer on
Andromeda at the weekend, £41,500.

They want to 'do her up', renovate her, look after her, and will bring cash on Wednesday. Incredible!

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Mr and Mrs Hill

Popped up to Leeds on Friday night, to stay with Booster prior to going over to Chester for Stu and Angels wedding, yesterday.

They're a spot on couple. Well suited. Stu is an old mate, of many table-tops, and Angel is in kinda the same line of work as myself. Alas, Jema was running corsetry workshops, so couldn't make it.

This is the first of (I think) 5 this year. 5 weddings, 5 stag dos, that's one fifth of this years weekends taken up with folks I know getting hitched.
It's like being Hugh bloody Grant. That's a minimum of 10 evenings sloshed. Thats one tenth of my weekends taken up with dressing like an outragious ponce, seeing old chums, and dancing like Jim Hensons last wish with some poor unsuspecting lass (usually Jema) and gorging myself on free vino and buffet food. Sweet.

Spent valuable time catching up with Booster. Saw Nic, always good. Wren did a blinding best mans speech (some of the gags from which I will rob for next week). Glen was, well, still Glen. Big Morris and Juno were there, as was Mesh and Gemma, Mr Morris (and young Helena), the full Hong.

Once again, it was really cool to see everyone and catch up. There was Jameson's behind the bar and I socialised and tarted around until the chief bridesmaid took pity and danced with me.

Shared a 'feature room' at the Chester Grosvenor Pulford with Booster, which had a bizzare spiral staircase and the coolest mirror/TV (
Philips 32" Landscape Mirror TV) thing that would have been perfect on Andromeda.

A good evening, and great to see everyone again.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Burly Chassis

At Pigs stag do, I met a bloke (mate of another bloke) who was in a band.

This blokes band does live rock mash-ups and are a rare combination of both amusing and talented. Laugh, oh hell yes. Right up my street.

Try them, or be damned to ignorance and mediocrity. Burly Chassis.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Flat Pack Desperation

I’m feeling a lot better today.

I still have all the symptoms, but they're masked with dangerous and carsonogenic amounts of hardcore decongestants. No operating heavy machinery for me. No sir.

In desperation at our want of storage (there truly is stuff everywhere) and lack of furniture, we have succumbed to the evil lure of Ikea. We went, we ordered, they delivered. Getting that much MDF and chipboard in a Smart Car was a non-starter. Cheap fixtures and fittings for the land-bound masses.

We attacked it all this evening, like adult Lego, and sorted ourselves a coffee table, a couple of bookshelves, an office chair and a big storage unit thingy with fairly little fuss and all by midnight. It was quite fun actually, and only a couple of minor arguments. Even the cat ‘helped’.

It was the ‘putting things on the selves’ part of this that was amazing. Books, old scripts, BETA copies of some of my old movies, Kenner action figures, boxes of archaic ST and 486 PC peripherals, all kinds of stuff has come out of hibernation for the first time since we moved to Andromeda. It was like some kind of nostalgic memory lane thing. I even found photographs going back to my BTech in 1989.

I look forward to investigating this lot further. Hopefully I'll find my youth and the 30million+ brain cells I've lost in the last 20 years...

Clicks Count - Testing Paid To Surf?

Scepticism aside, it's fair to say up-front that over the last 11 (or so) years Microsoft UK has donated over £5million in cash, software and consultancy to the NSPCC, plus helped raise a further £11million through sponsoring schools fundraising materials.

Anounced yesterday (and I believe as part of MSNs test-bed to go Paid-to-Surf, which I mentioned a while ago) they are now running with the NSPCC. Nice. Lets drive em away from the worlds No. 1 search engine using the sympathetic approach. Think of the kiddies and click on us. Cunning. But will it be a Google beater?

Damn fools. Don't they know we're British, and only give to animal charities...

Tuesday, March 21, 2006


Yes phlegm. Phlegm by the bucket and a sore throat to boot.

Staying at home doing SEO stuff. I slept through the alarm (which I never usually do) and still feel like a battered idiot. All my muscles hurt. I'm having another day off but I just bought a bed, a copy of Pitch Car and a mattress online.

I have to go in tomorrow. I'm way too busy to be ill any longer and I'm really really bored.

Monday, March 20, 2006


Big ball of snot today.

No way am I going to work. I never have a day off, but I'm gonna stay at home, in my vileness, and snurch around the house feeling crap.

I blame central heating and Aberdeen/a rainy zoo/London, plus a weekend of general Stag Do excess can't have helped much.

I've no cold cure tablets 'till the wife comes back, but I do have chicken soup...

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Pigs Stag Do

It was Pigs Stag Do this weekend and, being best man and all, we'd sorted some shenanigans to keep him occupid. Went over with Ph@tBoyIan and The Troll, and we assembled plenty of decent chaps that I'd not seen for ages.

Muchos booze, hong, shit head and Pitch Car on the Friday night. Quad Trecking at Catton Hall early yesterday morning (they have a 9 mile non-stop course that takes you through woodland, tracks, streams, rolling hills, river banks and (judging by the state of them when they got back) plenty of mud).

ack for Vollyball in the garden and a mild repeat of Friday then out for a few pints in Mancester (Fab Bar etc.) and on to Rock World 'till the wee small hours.

Pig seemed to enjoy himself, which was the point. Slap up breakfast this morning then played the Call of Cthulhu: Arkham Horror board game 'till real life started calling.

I feel well rough this evening. I'm a walking ball of mucus.

More pics, from Chris C, here.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Friday, March 17, 2006

End of Culture

Quick post from the PDA before I fall into a coma.

In London, at a bash with Culture Online to say goodbye (The Games Room). COL is closing it's doors but was great while it lasted. These are the people who had faith in us enough to part with the gill for Headline History and the faith to see it through.

Chatted. Schmoozed. Saw Harriet, Simon B, Khairoun, Graham, and other faces who've helped and nurtured us along towards our BAFTA and Webby and AOP awards etc. Picked peoples brains for funding contacts.

Free bar. Very drunk. Must sleep now.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Could This Be Actual Footage?

Remember a while ago, I mentioned this new Samuel L Jackson pic as having the coolest damn movie name in the whole world ever?

I was accused of spreading urban myths. Me. As if...

...anyway. Here it is. A thing of beauty. What appears to be, an actual trailer!

Sheer quality. August 18th, apparently.

I am rendered mute with admiration.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Birthday Monkey

It's my birthday today. I took the day off and the Mrs. whisked me off for a day out at Chester Zoo (which is where, in true kiddie fashion, I wanted to go for my 'birthday treat').

I'm so bloody old, it could have been Amsterdam lets face it, but no I wanna go to
Chester Zoo.

Run by the North of England Zoological Society, Chester Zoo has become one of the countries leading zoos since it's founding in 1934.

Chester Zoo attracted over 1million visitors last year. As well as being a top local tourist attraction since I was knee high to a jawa, the zoo is seriously involved in it's conservation and has loads of comprehensive breeding programmes for endangered species. Pleanty of small family groups. Habitats are sympathetic and large, and education is foremost.

It's been nearly 20 years since I was last here, 1977 to be precise, and I couldn't have been more impressed. When I was a kid, a treat was this, Jodrell Bank, Knowsley Safari Park, and (oddly, always around my birthday when I was younger) The Sooty Show on stage in Liverpool.

A Chinese meal in the evening, at Pig and Ellens in Cheshire, on the way back.

Jema treated me to a new GPS, which means some hardcore geocaching in the near future. A good day. Cheers wife ;-)

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Monday, March 13, 2006

It's Grim Up North

Flew to Aberdeen today on business.

Aberdeen still has 2 foot of snow, and all the other Scottish airports were closed. I'm not surprised there's not much for sale on our Aberdeen property site, it's a bit wet, cold and prefabricated.

I can't believe that The Meddler and Steve are living even further north. The weather must be foul for their first couple of weeks in The Shetlands. Nightmare.

I was in a tiny little Eastern Airways Jetstream 41. A twin turbo prop thing that seats about 25 and is shorter than Andromeda. It dawned on me, as soon as I clapped eyes on it, that this is exactly the sort of plane that you see in an aerial shot at the end of the news, crashed into some forested Scottish hillside. The weather was pants, we were delayed both ends and had some 'special' side winds.

I love flying, especially on my own. With flying, you're kinda between places. No mobile phone, and nothing to do except relax and look out of the window at clouds and stuff. There's even a lass whose job it is to administer hot coffee and blankets and smile pleasantly and unobtainably at you. "Hot towel, sir?". "Beer and a bag of nuts, sir?". I, go on, don't mind if I do.

Can't applaud the crew and Eastern Airways service highly enough. Top flight, and a great view of the river as I was leaving East Midlands. I tell ya, any company that gives you boiled sweets on take-off and landing is just jim-dandy by me.

Sadly, on first impressions (and I'm really sorry to say this), but Aberdeen appears to be a commode. If we get this contract I'm sure I'll be seeing a lot more of it.

Friday, March 10, 2006

The New X-Men 3 Trailer Is Out!

X-Men: The Last Stand.

This trailer is a lot more story orientated. Thank the lord for broadband. It looks beautiful.

Seems like a bit of 'Dark Phoenix' with a good chunk of the
Benetech Labs plotline from 'Gifted', all mixed in with shed loads of Magneto going full Brotherhood of Evil Mutants on the US Presidents sad sorry ass and having a good old rant about homo-inferior.

Check the bit with Kitty Pride running through walls with Juggenaught chasing her. Look out for
Mags casually pushing cars out of his way as he strolls into town. Now thats what we want. That could well be Omega Red as well. I can't see any Sentinels or the Danger Room, but you can't have everything. Looks like we get some Colossus action too (lets prey for that fast-ball-special) and Cyclops (relativley convincingly) getting his angst out. I wonder who's funeral that is, I haven't seen the Prof in this scene, in either of the trailers, so it's a fair bet taht it's baldie that cops it (like that'll last).

Fingers crossed, eh? I know it's not Brian Singer (he's busy camping it up with Superman Returns), but Brett Ratner is no stranger to action and it looks 'in theme' with what we've seen before.

Come on fella. Don't mess it up.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Boat 4 Sale

The good ship Andromeda is up on the Sawley brokerage site.

The picture and advert are dreadful!

I may have words.

Kaiju Big Battle

My mates who make mascot costumes will love this!

It's dangerous. It's chaotic. It's giant furry cartoon bananas kicking the living shanola out of guys dressed like spikey kung-fu dinosaurs.

What more is there to life?

Take your WWF and ram it where the sun don't shine. Little Japenese girls beat the b'jesus out of psudo Power Rangers. Worship at the frankensteinian alter of Dr. Cube.

I am unworthy to present:
Kaiju Big Battle!

I don't know much about wrestling, but never bet on the giant chicken...

Saturday, March 04, 2006


I moved my compost heap this afternoon, and I enjoyed it.

How bloody middle aged is that...

Friday, March 03, 2006

Rams Cast

I'm now doing, as part of the ongoing list, the Derby County Football Club (DCFC) Rams Cast. A round-table podcast with Rob, Daz, Simon and Victoria at work about all things DCFC related.

Now I can't abide "The Beautiful Game", but if this sort of thing tickles your fancy then these guys have a weapons grade knowledge on the subject and it's actually turning out to be pretty damn good now we've got a few under our belts. They certainly know their stuff. Nice jingle (by Steve at NEP) too.

Deliberate plug to another one of my podcasts and flagrent spamdexing? Possibly. Theres a good list of all the podcasts we're doing right now on ThisIsDerbyshire.

I have no shame.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

On The Road Again

I have a new one.

It’s a Ridgeback>Duel Track>Quest. It was the best I could afford.

It’s strong, reasonably light (but no Marin) and seems okay for a first time outing. Manitou Empire Elite forks, Shimano M495 disc hubs and some nice solid rims, with City-Slicks on her at the moment for road use (which I'm not so sure on yet). I got a deal from Samways (they can probably smell the repair bills coming). Deore Derailleurs and Bottom Bracket, 27spd etc., 29” x 2.1 wheels.

I rode home tonight, which was a pathetically short distance (about 7 miles, I think), and it seems, well, kinda ‘comfortable'. It hardly feels like I’m living dangerously, if you know what I mean, though the City-Slicks give it an 'interesting' dynamic and a hint of "there's no way I'm gonna make it round that at this speed".

A new bike always takes some getting used to and ‘setting up’. It’s a high ride, with a 19” frame but torque-hungry 29” wheels, and it's a hilly run nowdays.

I guess I need to draw some blood before it’ll feel like it’s mine.

Klytus! Are your men on the right pills?

I see Sir Menzies Campbell is now leader of the Lib Dems.

This means, that if Gordon Brown takes over from Tony Blair, come election time it could be a battle between Gordon v's Ming.


Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Once More, With Feeling

For the last time, we took Andromeda out today.

We picked her up from Steve, who (as ever) has made an excellent job, and ran her up to the brokers at Sawley.

The voids that needed cleaning out turned out to be , uncharacteristicly, an easy fix and the bulkhead and new gas locker floor all went in as planned. With a coulpe of touch-ups, finally attaching the bow and stern fenders I bought 2 years ago and everything 'Bristol fashion', she looked a treat. She could still have done with 20 minutes in Photoshop, if you know what I mean, but she looked the best I've ever seen her and I was proud to take her in.

Jema joined me for once, a kinda goodbye jaunt if you will. It was windy on the Trent, and the boat was a bloody big sail with nothing in her and riding so high, but nowt we couldn't handle (and a good gunning of the Lister cleared out some muck).

The guy at Sawley and I agreed to put her on at £42,950, and I'm more than happy with that. We're not greedy, that's what she's worth, and we'd like the money soon so we can start some work on Pemberley. She should be appearing on the brokerage pages any day now.

I'll miss her, she's been a good home and she's a great boat.

I hope the next owners, who ever they may be, will love her, appeciate her, and look after her like we have.