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Apr. 15th, 2014

:)

Daily Dogs of My Commute

  • The Fat Basset of Dulwich Park
  • The Smooth-Coated St Bernard in the Distance, Clapham Common
  • The Jogger's Husky on Battersea Bridge
  • The Dog Who Looks Like He's Wearing A False Tail, Chelsea Embankment
  • The Yorkies in the Taxi
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Apr. 14th, 2014

Dogfight [by the_gneech]

A Day at the FAST Museum

I spent yesterday, which in the south of England was an occasion of glorious sunny weather, at the Farnborough Air Sciences Trust Museum, along with my One Nice Colleague from the six months I spent at D*m*st*c & G*n*r*l, who lives nearby, and Howard, who rode up from Dorset.

There's a nice collection of aircraft and fuselages outside, with a two-seater Lightning trainer taking pride of place at the gate, but the emphasis indoors is on aeronautical science. Cases hold mysterious objects labelled 'TEST FINGER' and 'DO NOT JAR - HANDLE LIKE EGGS'. A vacuum cleaner and a car tyre compressor are used to demonstrate how the altimeter and airspeed indicator in an aircraft work. In the coffee bar, you can watch a DVD of brave pilots engaged in experiments with stall speed, wing design, water rescue, carrier landings and more.

The star of the show, though, is the British Army Aeroplane No 1, with its fifty-foot wingspan, reconstructed from photos of the aircraft in which Sam Cody made the UK's first powered flight in 1908. Here it is (I couldn't resist messing around with iLife's effects panel):

Cody Flyer
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Apr. 12th, 2014

Alice Street

East Meets West

Last night I dined at East Meets West in the Wing Yip Centre on Purley Way, with nou and pals. Everything was very tasty, even (thanks to the transformative powers of deep-frying) the aubergine. I had a couple of treats which were new to me: preserved eggs (much like regular eggs but blue) and deep-fried lotus root (like a deep-fried thing). The staff were lovely, the place wasn't crowded, and I would eat there again without hesitation.

Since I was in the area, I seized the opportunity to visit IKEA and came away with a tenner's worth of random tat including a pineapple-scented candle and a dragon tree to replace the one that keeled over as soon as I transplanted it from Bromley to Forest Hill.

NB: I've just had to create a 'food' tag, although I already had 'cider' and 'gin'. Priorities, there.
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Apr. 9th, 2014

Ace

The Hancock Festival

So, who here knew that Galton and Simpson were still alive? because until last night, I'd have guessed not. But I am getting ahead of myself.

I applied for and got tickets to a recording of The Missing Hancocks, episodes of Hancock's Half Hour whose original recordings no longer exist and which have not been heard since the mid-1950s. I asked fellow radio comedy lover klepsydra if she'd like to be my plus one, and she accepted with delight.

The evening was introduced by Neil Pearson, actor, rare book dealer and now radio producer ("You wear your own clothes, eat buns, and tell people what to do. Apparently I'm a natural"). He filled us in on the events leading to the production of the series, briefed us on names from popular culture we would have found hilarious in 1954, then asked Galton and Simpson, who had been hiding in plain sight among the audience, to stand up. This they did, a little shakily, to wild applause.

What followed was a script, The Hancock Festival, we were guaranteed not to have heard unless we were in and listening to the radio around half past nine in the evening on Tuesday, November 30th, 1954. I won't spoil it, but do listen out later in the year. The cast was very good, especially the chap who doubled up as Aussie Bill and the BBC Light Programme announcer; the Sid James substitute also did the laugh rather well.

As I said to Kleps while we drank coffee in the Regent Street Starbucks, watching the world go by and looking forward to our evening of free entertainment: this is the sort of thing I dreamed of when I moved to London.
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Apr. 8th, 2014

Husky Airways

Lars's Bust

Peering in the window of a Birmingham gifte shoppe with eliki and loganberrybunny, I observed that we furries are rather spoiled in the matter of art. Why pay for a generic painting of a cat, when for the same price you can commission one to your exact specifications from one of our fandom's many fine artists?

Recently a furry artist I admire, chewycuticle [some NSFW art], offered a couple of commission slots for small, sculpted busts at a very reasonable rate. I thought it would be rather lovely to get one of Lars Flink, my Swedish samoyed pilot, and I was super pleased with the result:

Lars's bust
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Apr. 7th, 2014

Carrots

Carrots

...well, they're orange?


You Are a Carrot

You are bright and bold. You live a colorful life, and you never hold back when it comes to expressing yourself.
You are vivacious and spontaneous. You love to bounce your way through the world, and you especially love being outdoors.

You are very independent. While you like people, you can come off as aloof... you're into doing your own thing.
You have a positive outlook on life, and you keep things interesting. Your enthusiasm is contagious.



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Mallory Park

SWPSR

Saturday was Somerset Advanced Motorcyclists' South West Peninsular Spring Rally. You plan a route taking in manned and unmanned checkpoints, having as leisurely or hectic a day as you wish, sticking to major roads or exploring country lanes. The rally is designed to take you along some of the best roads Somerset, Dorset, Devon and Cornwall have to offer, visiting tiny villages and answering questions (of the 'What is the date carved on the wall of the school?' variety) to prove you've been.

Last time, Howard and I went for the Gold level plus the Land's End award. This year we chose a less hectic schedule, planning for Bronze (one manned checkpoint and nine unmanned), maybe Silver (two manned, twelve unmanned) if we felt like it and had time. Our day started with a ride from Dorchester to Wells, where my friend Paul from the scooter forum, who would be accompanying us, had kindly offered breakfast. Fortified by toast and map-reading, we set off for the start point in Langport, arriving fifteen minutes too late to register. Luckily, SAM were pretty relaxed about it and let us sign in anyway.

Our first stop was Watchet, on the coast, and our first task to identify the 'red object at the western end of the harbour' (a decommissioned seamine). Encouraged by the ease with which we had found it, we set off for Upton, which allowed me to make my fabulous 'Upton Girl' joke (she's been living in her Upton world).

The countryside was bursting with daffodils, sheep, and, on one occasion, daffodils I mistook for sheep until I got quite close. Some of the clues were easier than others, and we passed through Barbrook three times, in the pouring rain, looking for the village hall, before stopping at a petrol station and realising we were opposite it. (It was an excellent petrol station, with a resident cat and dog and one of my favourite ever local paper headlines: MARAUDING GOATS DRIVEN OUT OF TOWN.)

With four checkpoints under our belt, we made for Ilfracombe, our first manned control. This was in a cafe, and we seized the opportunity to stop for lunch (I enjoyed a cheddar and pineapple panini, not a menu item you see every day). Now it was time to decide whether to do the Bronze award, with a reasonably early finish, or go for Silver. Despite the rain, the three of us agreed to give Silver a shot.

Up on Dartmoor the weather closed in, with fog so thick that nothing was visible to either side and Paul's tail lights vanished if they got more than ten metres ahead. It was cold and wet and I kept thinking about the Hound of the Baskervilles, and when we reached our second manned control at Princetown, twenty minutes before it closed, I wasn't sure I could carry on.

We got a warm welcome at the control, however, plus tea and jaffa cakes, and set off again encouraged. The mist thinned, and the moorland became mysterious and beautiful. Two unmanned controls within a few miles of each other, and we were well on our way to finishing.

We ticked off the last of our twelve controls in the dusk just outside Tiverton, and hit the motorway for the return to Langport. When we walked into the pub shortly before 9PM we got a round of applause, a certificate, sticker and T-shirt, and a hot meal. It was a 370-mile day by the time Howard and I got back, which is high mileage considering the number of stops and how little of it was motorway, and a satisfying day's riding.
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Apr. 1st, 2014

Game Boy

A Pichu In St Pancras

I came late in the day to the news that Google Maps is now populated by Pokémon, and I've been at it ever since, zooming in on places of interest in the hope of catching a monster. (Some of their hangouts are brilliantly appropriate: find Ghost types near famous opera houses, and a Luxray at Battersea Power Station.)

I've caught 76 out of a possible 150 and should probably go to bed soon.
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Mar. 24th, 2014

The Spy Who Loved Me

Birthday Bond

It was Howard's birthday at the weekend, and he joined me for some London-based fun whose exact nature I concealed until the big day. Things got off to a slightly rocky start when he phoned on Friday night to say his bike had broken down about a mile away and would I come and help push, but although the weekend involved slightly more messing about with AA vans than anticipated, it otherwise went well.

The only activity I'd planned for which bikes were necessary was a ride with our friend John on Saturday afternoon, and for this Howard allowed himself to be conveyed on my pillion. We made it without mishap to the Riverside Tearoom in Eynsford. (Eynsford has both a ford and a bridge; we all opted for the latter, cue much "I thought you were going to take the ford" "I thought you were going to take the ford" banter afterwards. The depth marker indicated two feet, which is a bit much really.) Tea room highly recommended, especially the herbal teas designed to taste like childhood sweeties; I had a Sherbet Lemon one.

In the evening we walked to a French restaurant in East Dulwich, Le Chardon. Food porn alert: I had haddock in a cream sauce with mushrooms, bacon and parmesan, followed by crème brûlée, followed in turn by a latte and a raspberry eau de vie. It was on the way there that I spotted the delightful launderette cat of my earlier post, and on the way home that I photographed her having an after-hours kip.

The big event, though, was Sunday's James Bond-themed walking tour of London, spotted on Groupon and obviously an entirely unselfish gift on my part. There was a lot of walking, but we saw some interesting locations as well as the better-known ones, including the lamppost overlooking Westminster where George Lazenby posed for publicity photos, and the doorway which supposedly leads to the garage where Pierce Brosnan collected his invisible car. The tour concluded with vodka martinis in the Spying Room at the Morpeth Arms.

Mar. 23rd, 2014

Snow Fun

Laundrycat, East Dulwich

Night watch at the Wash & Dry.

Tortie cat snoozing in its basket atop an industrial washer.
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