Friday, June 30, 2006 for thought

So todays food for thought is...

...thought from food.

I know this scribble contradicts my previous post, but then what can you do, that's just me at my most fickle.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

...Odd perceptions

Glass half empty, glass half full.
Make of this what you will.
I know my view.
Im with team zombie.

...random base jumping.

One of two dubious decisions so far this week.

Sunday and I am cycling the 'quiet lanes'of North Norfolk at random, trying my hardest to get lost with, a packed lunch consisting of a banana and can of cola & my camera for company.
So I decide to check out a bit of coastline I've never been to before & soon find out why.
After I attempt to cycle down the sheer , crumbling cliff face I take a rest on the sea defences & foolishy begin to wonder to myself. Sea defences. Lots of them. Oh, thats quite a high tide line. I wonder, what time does the tide turn?

Tuesday. For the first time in possibly 10 years I step out onto the rugby park and join in with my old clubs summer training session. Boys & girls together. Fortunately this only involves touch tackling, but a lot of running.
It appears I've forgotten the following over my 10 year sabatical :-

a) How to pass a rugby ball.
b) How catch a rugby ball.
c) How to run coherently.
d) How to breathe without wheezing.
e) How to act like the dashing athlete I once was in front of the girls.
f) How much all of this hurt the last time I was so stupid.

I shall go back next Tuesday. I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

...teen brains

Igor installs the wrong brain & creates a monster.

Monday, June 26, 2006

...the longest garden path.

Harriett didn't remember quite when the overwhelming sensation of underlaying dread started,
but she thought it may have been somewhere along the garden path.

I havn't had a poke at any little furry critters lately, so I thought it was about time. Hampsters are always fair game.
(Honestly , the little dark thoughts in my head only appear on paper, I like little furry things)

Sunday, June 25, 2006

...the flickr-ratti

Please let me try to explain this scribble.
In my little home county of Norfolk, England. (No not the USA the original Norfolk) we have a small village situated behind the salt marshes, protected from the ravages of the North Sea called Blakeney.

A very twee little village, flint stone cottages, narrow streets, neat pubs etc.
Draws people in by their thousands in the summer & by their tens in the winter.

What it also has is the salt marshes ,as mentioned, along with all the interesting little creeks and the wildlife that lives therein.

People walk in droves out, through the slatmarshes and along to the next twee village on a little raised track known locally as the 'Carnsa' . They can revel at the border where sea meets land , land turns to mush & mush pongs to high heaven.

Now heres my point.

Along this track, beside the waters edge, half sunken, half exposed is an old rotting hull of a clinker built, wooden crab boat.
It as been there for quite some time decaying peacefully.

One of my Flickr groups has picked up on the fact that : Anyone, without exception, who rambles past this vessle feels compelled to take a photo of it & posts it to the groups pool of photographs.
It is often pointed out , in a pleasent manner I might add, that this is not the most original of photographic compositions.
To this end a whole seperate group was created today just for the boat.
(Well it made me smile.)
I am glad to say that despite having lived there (OK, I was between 3 & 6 at the time) I don't have a propper photo to add to the pool.
Does that make me cool?, Not one of the sheep? or just someone that can't see the photogenics of an object that hundreds see?

Friday, June 23, 2006

...dung beetles

So Carlos wanders right into the middle of the Hippos migration path & scores the big fat one.

(This is one for Hoss & his love of Dung Beetles?)

Thursday, June 22, 2006

...Cow jokes.

I did'nt know whether to go with "....and that day the boy scouts earned their new badge"
or just with "Cow Jokes"

Any suggestions for a caption most welcome.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

...animal experiments.

I started drawing these little alien blokes a lot.
No hard evidence to speak of, but I think somthings secretly trying to tell me somthing.
While on holiday I found I would often wake in the morning, dry , woozy and with a mild, head ache as well as lurking gaps in my short term memory for the previous evening

Monday, June 19, 2006

...rapid deceleration zones.

...a few sailing points.
(Notes on boats for the beginner)

1) The pointy sticky up bit & flappy sail bit points upward at the sky, the hard, shiny bit sits in the water. This orientation is traditional & is known, and proven to better facilitate the sailing experience.
2) Boats do not have brakes. Repeat, DO NOT have brakes.
3) Water is wet. Very wet, with the notable exception of when it's very, very cold. This creates hard water we sailors like to call ice. This is a bad thing (see point 4)
4) Keep the boat within the bounds of the wet bits. Remember the wet bits are good, dry & hard bits are bad. We call the hard bits 'The land'. These its tend to damage a vessel when we sail upon them.
5) The pointy end is the front. The blunty bit is the back. You can sit on the bit in the middle.
6) No, it does not have an engine.
7) The wiggly stick thingy helps you steer & can be very useful indeed.
8) Falling out of the boat is not compulsory & is often frowned upon.
9) Do not take on the Isle of Wight ferry in a challenge of nerves. The ferry will win every time. This is gaurenteed.
10) You can rarely get out and push when the wind stops being windy. Please be patient.
11) It is a studied and known fact within the laws of physics that two or more vessels containing children produce spontaneous magnetic fields. This phenomenon, combined in conjunction with the greatly reduced frictional resistance that is provided by water through which the vessels hull passes, means that it is inevitable the vessels will eventually attract and collide with one another. Its has not yet been established through these studies whether the rise and collapse of these spontaneous magnetic fields are directly as a result of the vessels proximity to one another or through the presents of the child contained within.
It has been noted in further studies that statistically the greater number of children within the vessels, the greater the magnetic field produced and the more likely a collision or multiple collision is to occur.
How ever, a second contradictory phenomenon has been noted. As the child's concentration is broken with a simple command or order to 'Keep together' or 'Time to pack up now' the strong magnetic field produced by one or more child/vessel will rapidly change polarity disbanding vessels in all directions simultaneously. This effect is know as the 'starburst'
The conclusion of these studies and the focus of point 11 is a simple formulae "Children + Boats = A healthy magnetic attraction"
12) Any boat within site of another going in the same direction will eventually be racing each other. This psychological effect is inevitable within seasoned sailors & will beset the true beginner as time progresses. The notable exception being when the vessel contains one or more children . (See note 11)
13) Adult beginners, as you step into a boat your brain will stop working rationally. Please try to remember point 9.
14) It does not matter how much money you have, if you are useless, there's a very good chance your gonna stay useless. Shinny kit does not make a sailor.
15) If you are not a sarcastic person by nature, you will be as you progress as a sailor.

Sunday, June 18, 2006


Im back to my routine, my mind is still away on holiday.

I spent a day teaching a student a wrong method on Saturday. Only a minor error. Causing the student great difficulty.
Half way through the day I suddenly realized why he was struggling.
You get to a point where it becomes to embarrassing to admit your faults & you think of a way to subtly change the way you are doing things to save face.
No problem.
At that moment he asked the exactly the right question to make me feel silly.
I glad he worked it out for himself, shows he was thinking.
,but his curiosity got the better of me.

Friday, June 16, 2006

...sailing holiday part four of the erm...triology.

Oh, PLAN OMEGA revision A

The plan was executed with precision & guile.

Veronica was picked up In Sivota that day & all was well.

The Crew of the 'Mintaka' reunited for the final evening.

The log ends here.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

...sailing holidays Pt III, the final insult.

The 'Mintaka' rolled into Vonista harbour, no worse for the long trip north.
This is where we met the Italians in their large 48' + yacht. The scene was six or so yatchs try to enter a harbour at the same time and all need the few spaces available. A strong cross wind is blowing little yachts onto the break water. Not a time for being unprepared, messing around & fudging with anchors & then shouting at people because you've caused other yachts problems.
The 'Mintaka' did the very English thing & smilled at the fools as we moored beside them.After a jolly group meal and a stroll around the Venitian fort dominating the town. (Those of us that found the way to the top)
We had the prospect to the reverse journey south. Still on the look out for turtles, giraffe & dolphin . Still being elusive. We braced our selves, stowed all breakables, wrote wills & said prayers & sacraficed a sheep for luck before setting out.
What lay before us was a blue sea as flat as a pancake, calm as a corpse.
Some one had switched the Ionian off for Sunday. Somthing was messing with our heads.

We implimented phase one of PLAN Z.
We sped back to Spartakhori to check on out missing member.
We dropped the skipper off & had a walk up the that hill again.
Ahhh, some improvement at last. Yay. But Veronica would not be joining the crew again, David & Veronica would stay & meet us at a later date. There was talk of Tangos. Would there be Tangos in Fiscardo ?
PLAN OMEGA. (Well this is Greece).
'Mintakas' crew bid farewell. See you in Fiscardo ?

At this point the Sea Dog felt the need for Sustinance in the form of meat balls.
Provisions were only a long walk up the hill away.
Finaly we waved goodbye to Spartakhori & that hill.

Sailing that day the wind picked up.
& Picked up. And then some.
At which point the sail tried to tear it's self free I cannot recall. The point at which the sea started to roll about as the spare crew was sent up front to fix it. I remember clearly.
With a lot of luck the problem was solved (Tsk. another sheep to sacrafice)

The crew decided to go a long way round on the journey south to Ay Euphimia where we were to catch up with the rest of the fleet.
As we rounded an island into the home straight we hit an acceleration zone, 'Mintaka' went from drifling in the lee of the land to reefed down to a handkerchief in moments. The remainder of the day was a hard slog upwind, wet, cold & raining. It was great. Was there achievment in sailing almost all the way in?.
The achievment of the foolish.

The log notes that weather turned. The sky went black. The thunder came. The rain rained. The lightning, lightninged (I know it's not a word)

Word of the day "MOIST"

The next day was, shall we say, a little cooler as the crew made thier way sailing along the edge of the storm.

The evening of the barbeque. It had rained all day. The evening had cleared up. & the children of the group were sent out to collect fire wood. (In the hope this would wear them out ? Maybe)
All the crews moored in a raft within a small bay & rowed dinghies ashore. Silly hats & cocktails clutched in hand for the evenings festivities.
An impromptue diving contest ,backwards out the the back of dinghies may hav been the fault of the 'Mintakas' Spare crew mate.

Our predictable scots leader didn't disappoint. The log notes when questioned "was the wood too damp for a fire", the reply came, "No wuth a gallun o petrul ut's no"
The log points out silly hats were to be compulsary & would be judged on their silliness.
The mintakas crew all went dress with suitinble matching attire.The Cabin boy & Sea Dog looking particularly dapper.
Cocktails would be judged on presentation, flavour & flamability.

The beer and the food dispensed the serious stuff started. The kids raced dingies blindfold (Well with buckets over their heads)
We lost none to the sea , and this still didnt wear them out.
The adults went on to play games with fenders. The log notes this activity would make a fine contraceptive.
The competition got competetive. The teachers took on the Lancastrians. There were nearly fisticuffs. Twice.
The teachers were victorious ( Victory by commitee, of course)
The night was a prelude. The lancastrians put forward their poet Barry , the Yorkies put forward the bard, 'Mintakas' own minstral Sea Dog. The scots as usual put them selves forward & sung Irish songs.
The entertainment was as interesting as the dinghy ride home.

We reached Friskardo the next day. The skipper and first mate were there. Yay.
We located the reputedly finest establishment in town & encamped ourselves.

Skipper and the first mate got thier Tango, to the delight and applause of all.

Then came race day.
Competition is a funny thing.
No-one is outwardly competetive. Or would own up to it.
Then the switch is flicked. Crews suddenly are emptying water tanks, removeing rubbish, trying to tune thier untunable rigs.
Suddenly it's regatta day. The Teachers were scoping out the competition. The yorkies had been winding the Lancastrians up. Another war of the roses in the making. The scots (/welsh) contingent make thier move getting a new suit of sails.
'Mintaka' had taken it's fourth member back for race day PLAN OMEGA Revision A.
All was set for the race.
The log notes we set off, a delayed start meant 'Mintaka' was in the middle of meat balls as we crossed the start line.
All was close, The dark horses aboard 'Cordillia' took off for the horizon in their smaller, lighter yacht.
All was close as we approched the Island. The wind stopped. We drifted. We waited.
We watched the dark blue line of the breeze across the water approach us from behind.
Then it hit we took off. As we rounded the Island you could have thrown a blanket over all the yachts, it was close stuff.
The smaller craft, 'Cordilla' & 'Leda' were left behind as the larger 36' & 42' boats sailed off.
We rounded the Island in a pack & set the course for Sivota the home leg.
We knew we were cutting things fine, shallow waters with rocks. We saw the Lancastrians (Neith) & the Yorkies (Arcouda) in front of 'Mintaka' Divert suddenly. Depth meters giving alarming readings on their course. Moments later we watched our depth count rapidly down to zero. One large swerve later & we were off into deep water again. A moments stupidity.
The yorkies in their large 42' footer took off , uncatchable. The lancastrians lay within the grasp of the 'Mintaka' all the way. In the same yacht class. This was our race.

.....but fate is cruel & fickle.

The biggest storm of the last fortnight hit the fleet just off the finish line. The rain and hail rained down and hailed. Wet gear was broken out, The sea dog & cabing boy retired down below. Lightning flashed in the near distance.
The wind lightened.
'Mintaka' & the Lancastrians on 'Neith' tacked and drifted toward the finish.
Who won. Hard to say. The Yorkies had won over all , but the race for second and third was very close indeed.
To avoid and contraversy shal we say it was a draw. The sport of sailing was the winner
All agreed it was the best Ionian regatta ever.

(We won though)

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

...sailing holiday. Part two of the triology

The crew returned to the pretty little bay of Spartakhori to check on our fallen comrade.
Still in a poor way, the skipper made the decision to stay while she convalesced.
Plans were concocted, re-mixed & drank down, becoming more hazy as the situation changed.
We had a few days free sailing away from the group, 'PLAN X' utilised the route of these days.
The plan would work , this time it was good.

The morning after the night before our brave Scots leader called the morning pow wow & gave the news of bad weather ahead. We would stay in harour for the day & wait it out.
Only the most fool hardy would venture out on such a day. The fool hardy crews of "Mintaka" & "Neith" considered these wise words and then set off anyway.
(In truth it was to avoid the long walk up the hill to civilisation one more time)

The wind was wild , the sailing was good. We grinned as we had fun.
We returned to harbour that night to celebrate with yet another walk up the hill.
Pizza was good. It's was worth it all. We slept the sleep of achievment.

The course for the next day was set at breakfast.
'PLAN Y' soon changed to 'PLAN Z' & we had no where left to go.


We would return in two days & pick up our lost man, skipper would join us again. Hurray. All was good.
We gathered provisions for the long journey.
We dropped provisions in the water & went for a long walk up the hill to replace them.

It was envisaged for the fleet to go north through canal , hold up the traffic to the Island at the only road bridge (such fun)
We would meet again when we had crossed the open sea to find the inlet of the Inland sea & the fabled Vonista.
There we would face the horrors of the Group Meal. Enforced fun was the overheard description..
Secret birthdays were celebrated on the key with a gallon or two of Jock Juice & nibbes.
(Read into that what you will, then go and wash your mind out with soap)

Our group of teachers on "LEDA" would loose one of there crew that day, they swear she went home of her own accord. The committee had voted. The log records and knows better.

On route we were promised we would gaze on the wonders of nature. Leather back turtles, dolphins, giraffe and antelope.

The log of the 'Mintaka' would report attracting no such fabulous beasts.
Not even an earwig.

The boys were the ones communicating with nature. Netting it all. Stripping keys and harbours clean of living creatures.

...& so the long journey north began. The fleet set out from Spartakhori. Glad to leave the hill climb behind.
The wind began to blow. We navigated around the rocks of Skorpius & on toward the canal to the open Ionian.
'Mintaka' exited the Lefkarda canal after negotiating the shallows, swing bridges & lunch.
The world then turned upside down.
At this point it would be apt to mention how the weather forcasting system in this part of the world functions.

This is as follows:

Think of a low figure. Apply it the the Beaufort wind scale.
Disregard it. Issue a random number to radio stations along with a fabricated wind direction from the compass picked in true 'Pin the tail on the Donkey' fashion. Whith eyes closed.
Pick a card form a standard pack of playing cards. Apply the random number value of this card to the Greek version of the beaufort scale & again issue to a the Greek meteralogical depatment.
Repeat this until the situation is confused and there are a minimum of 42 conflicting reports.
Check all bunions for signs of rain fall.
When all infomation has been gathered take an average of all the data, consider it, analyse it & ignore it.
Then look at the sky to see what its doing. The system works beautifuly.

The wind blew, the swell rolled in directly from storm ravaged Italy hit the shallow sloping shores creating somewhat large waves.
As the boat bucked and corkscrewed it's way along the crew of the 'Mintaka' decided it was a good time to try out the safety harnesses. No panic.

After several hours we fixed our position & headed for the marina entering into Preveza & onto the inland sea Vonista in reach, All safe, if a little shaken.
The ground still moved that evening.
Discussion that night was of how much fun everyone had had that day.
This shall continue....

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

...sailing holiday. Part one.

What follows is an account recalled from the log of the "Mintaka" dated between May 28th and June 13th 2006. Some may be true, some make be legend. Most will be silly and inaccurate.

The start of this little adventure begins with the crew of the "Mintaka"
Skipper David & Mate Veronica, Salty dog Keith, Cabin 'boy' Drew & me (The spare).
We arrived as part of a small fleet , minds focused on sailing the far flung isles of the south Ionian in searth of the mythical 'Mythos'
Things started well as the crews made aquaintence, ate , drank and sort to developed covert plans for the coming voyage with the lead crew, Jock, Maz & Frenchy.
Jock was a Jock , Maz was a girl & frenchy wasn't French.
We were all set.

Most of the group got to grips with thier vessle & despite a few reported hairy moments no yachts was lost.

Our sea dog, of proud, traditional, nautical background, (a Leeds man from landlocked Yorkshire) was the first
to fall foul of the dangers of the deep. While swimming he was ravaged by a beast from the deep. This legendary tangle with an octopus was recorded in my log. The recounted tale at first hand grew in detail and intrigue at each telling. The truth lay within.

The crew began to bond and work well together.

We met many 'Liveaboards' & 'ancient mariners' on the way, each with their own tale to tell & not an albatross in sight.

Oh no, the crew were not ready, This is the log of the scene witnessed one day as I poked my head above deck.
We got into the groove with our navigation and failed to hit any hard imovable objects.

Bad luck hit us early in the voyage. Too mach good living, sun & fun took its toll on First Mate Veronica, who stepped off board after a nasty case of sun stroke. As the crew of the 'Mintaka' sat in port & considered the next move the local witch doctor was summoned to attend to the patient.
Diagnosis not good the crew down heartedly made the descision to leave the First Mate in the hands of the (reportedly stunning) doctor & housed in one of the local grass huts over looking the water. The islands inhabltants were very welcoming and took great care of the Mate.
The crew returned to sea with the plan to recover their missing member at a later date.
It was later discovered the the natives had cursed the skipper for abandoning on of thier own.

The log above has been falsified at this point to save face. No members of the crew were in fact abducted by aliens. This was just a cover story.

In the mean time unknown waters were charted.

...and local dangers avoided. The danger of not paying the Ferryman was a trip down the river Stix to Hades.

There were joys and delights on the way. The gurgles of delignt were noted in the log as other crews in the fleet took enjoyment from interacting with the local wildlife.
These moments were broardcast across the VHF for all to hear.

The tale shall continue soon. The fate of our crew mate to be revealed.
Be sure though, no aliens are involved & few had thier brains removed.
Watch this space.

Monday, June 12, 2006

...and now Im returning with gold in great store...

After returning to work Simon soon slipped into his old routine.

Well that was fun.
Who ever told me the weather in the Caribean is nice this time of year was right.
....Pity I was in Greece where it was unseasonable cool & moist.
I've promised I would publish the sketches I have done over the last week. Well I will.
I just got a little bored scanning & converting files for the moment, these will be posted in the next couple of days along with a epic tale of foul weather, high seas, distant lands, meat balls, bananas, sun stroke & tangos.