Photographs

Someone sent me an email recently and asked about the photographs that you see in the blog header now that I’ve fiddled with the template I use. They’re all photographs I’ve taken myself during the last two or three years (with perhaps one exception – my wife may have taken the photograph of Xlendi Bay in Gozo). Here are all 12 of the current blog headers, which are selected at random when you visit here.

Revelation, Chatsworth House - May 2008
Revelation, Chatsworth House - May 2008

Revelation is quite hypnotic when you see it in action. Water fills the central sphere which causes the leaves to close over it, hiding it from view. Then, when the sphere is full, the water is let out, causing the leaves to fall away and the sphere is revealed. And so on. It keeps me entertained for hours …

Xlendi Bay, Gozo - August 2006
Xlendi Bay, Gozo - August 2006

I’m not sure whether it was me or Jane that took this ‘photo, but it was probably Jane. Taken from a restaurant overlooking Xlendi Bay in Gozo at sunset.

My Alfa Mito (Huffty) - September 2009
My Alfa Mito (Huffty) - September 2009

Well, she had to be included.

Brandenburg Gate, Berlin - October 2006
Brandenburg Gate, Berlin - October 2006

I’ve never seen a real horse be able to hold anything like that.

Paphos, Cyprus - August 2010
Paphos, Cyprus - August 2010

Paphos at sunset – again, taken from a restaurant. It’s a bit blurry – I’ll have to do better next summer when we go back again!

Moonlight by Igor Mitoraj, Poznan, Poland - October 2006
Moonlight by Igor Mitoraj, Poznan, Poland - October 2006

This sculpture is in the Stary Browar shopping centre in Poznan. I’ve also seen examples of his work exhibited in the gardens at Chatsworth House and in Venice. If you stand behind the sculpture in the right place, you can just about see the “hollow face” illusion.

Wind turbine, Nazare, Portugal - August 2009
Wind turbine, Nazare, Portugal - August 2009

One of the wind turbines visible from our holiday villa in Nazare. Again, I find these strangely hypnotic to look at.

Aphrodite's rock, Cyprus - August 2010
Aphrodite's rock, Cyprus - August 2010

Taken early one morning (around 8am) as we were driving along the coast road to get to the Kourion amphitheatre.

Mirror against mirror, Chatsworth House - October 2009
Mirror against mirror, Chatsworth House - October 2009

Taken at the “beyond limits” art exhibition in the grounds of Chatsworth House during October 2009. The artist is Guy Zagursky.

The Koan at Warwick University - September 2010
The Koan at Warwick University - September 2010

The White Koan outside the Arts Centre at Warwick University – now restored to working order and its rightful place.

Derby Station - April 2009
Derby Station - April 2009

Taken by accident in April 2009 when I was playing with a new camera. I posted the complete image on this blog shortly after I’d taken it. This is now a piece of history – the customer service counter on the left hand side of the (complete) photograph is now gone, replaced by a nasty little metal desk in the middle of temperamental ticket barriers in front of these stairs. And the nice, colourful 1970’s tiles that you can see by the side of the staircase are currently being replaced by battleship grey ones. The sense of the station entrance is now one of cramped frustration because of these changes. Definitely not an improvement.

London Eye - August 2006
London Eye - August 2006

Taken on a long weekend to London – I’m pretty sure the main reason for being there was to see “A Comedy of Errors” at the Globe Theatre.

It makes a change from posting about OU courses, I guess!

Father’s Day

I’ve been moaning constantly about the number of people driving round with England flags on their cars since before the World Cup started. Well, I need to have something to be grumpy about. I’ve been especially critical of people who have been flying cross of St. George flags with “England” written on them. A fellow blogger tweeted on 12th June that they reminded him of Kenny Everett talking about subtitles for the hard of thinking.

So, imagine my utter delight at receiving these beauties today. They are quite simply the best Father’s Day present ever. Thank you, Jessica.

The best father's day present ... ever!
The best father's day present ... ever!

I promise to leave them on the car until England are knocked out. If, by some mischance, England should actually win the tournament, I’ll leave them on until after DD303 residential school.

ED209 – 4 days to go

I’ve spent quite a lot of today revising. That is, apart from a couple of hours fighting through the crowds at Asda (someone please remind me never to go there on a Saturday again) and subsequently using the bucket and sponge and the other lovely cleaning materials I purchased to give Huffty a wash. Compared to all of the other cars I’ve owned, she’s definitely high maintenance. But she’s lovely. <contractual obligation>Just like But not as lovely as all of the other beautiful women in my life</contractual obligation>.

Anyway, I’ve re-written the plan for my seen essay again today and I seem to be able to remember it and regurgitate it at will. That just leaves trying to remember stuff from enough chapters to give myself a fighting chance at two other questions. I’d thought executive function and theory of mind were already bankers; but it’s been obvious this afternoon that I’m not quite there yet. More effort needed on Tuesday when I’ve taken the day off work to revise some more.

Tomorrow the plan is to drink beer and watch the grand prix concentrate on my selected chapters from books 1 and 2. On Monday I have to spend the day in Bracknell, so I really only have a couple of days remaning to finish cramming ED209 into my brain.

Wednesday afternoon is beginning to loom large on the horizon.

Huffty – First Impressions

I picked up Huffty from Beechdale, the Alfa dealers in Derby at lunchtime on Tuesday. She looked absolutely gorgeous in the showroom and I was very happy when I drove her away. The first trip was a little under 2 miles, back to the office. And then the heavens opened. And they seem to have stayed open ever since. So even with less than 200 miles on the clock she’s filthy. She needs a good wash so I can take pictures of her before someone runs a supermarket trolley into her!

So something else to do this weekend along with working on my ED209 chosen topic, finishing TMA06, starting to figure out what and how to revise for the exam in October, sorting the gardening out (hedge needs cutting, lawn needs cutting again if it’s dry, vegetable garden at Mum’s needs sorting), other chores … sigh. At some point I’ll hopefully get the chance to enjoy driving her somewhere nice! At the moment, it looks like Bracknell will have to do on Monday morning for work. Definitely not nice.

I did get to drive her to Telford and back this afternoon and I’ve finally just about figured out the Blue&Me system in the car tonight (it looks after the audio system and the hands-free bluetooth connection for my ‘phone) and all the buttons to press to make it do things or the commands to shout at it. Yes, Huffty takes orders from me and talks back to me to let me know that she can’t understand what I’m trying to say. A bit like the wife really, except the part about taking orders that is. (I take the orders round here). The command ‘Settings’ seems to give her particular difficulties (Huffty that is, not my wife) – unless I pronounce it as ‘Sett….tinggs’ with a noticeable pause between the two syllables.

If the weather’s decent this weekend I’ll have to take some photographs of her. This is, after all, the first brand new car I’ve bought in more than 20 years, so you’ll have to forgive me my excitement.

Right, I’m off to read the manual a bit more. Parts of it remind me of  and have me all nostalgic for the manual of my first computer, a Sharp MZ80K. That appeared to have been translated from Japanese into English by someone who only understood German. The MiTo manuals seem to have gone through a similar route – except this time it looks like they been translated from Italian into English by someone who only understands Japanese.

Huffty arrives on Tuesday

Now that I know the registration mark of my new car, it has to have a name based on it. So it’s going to be called Huffty – despite pleas from the women of the house to name it something a little more Italian.

There’s a heartwarming story in the Crewe and Nantwich Guardian about a MiTo and a bride to be. Either that, or it’s a very cleverly placed piece of advertising for the Mangoletsi dealership and her husband to be’s business The Leather Suite Warehouse.

The stress of waiting for GCSE results is finally over in our house now as well – Jess passed all 10 she took with flying colours – two being at A*. Now if only I could manage to get TMA06 finished I could concentrate on revising for the ED209 exam in October. I’ve got a lot to live up to following the success of my daughters this year!

Car woes

I drive a lot. Probably around 25,000 miles a year and in the days I worked from offices in Manchester it was closer to 35,000 miles a year. Since 1998, I’ve relied on three different VW Passats to get me to where I want to go. I need a car that works. Reliably. All of the time. Those of you that read my ramblings on a regular basis will know that I’m just about (well, on 1st September) to give up all of this supposedly solid German engineering for a flighty, Italian, impractical but gorgeous Alfa MiTo.

However, this last Passat that I have owned since 2004 has been anything but solid. It’s let me down, far, far too much, which was part of my rationale in deciding not to have a mid-life crisis with a Golf GTI (the other car I seriously considered this time around). I figured if I wasn’t going to get reliability from a VW, I might as well buy an Alfa. Look, I know that last statement is not even half logical, but I am sooooo disappointed with this lemon of a VW that I’ve been driving for the past 5 years that it’s sent me a little bit strange. That and studying ED209 this year.

This afternoon, the ESP warning light came on. That’s the Electronic Stability Programme rather than Extra Sensory Perception, though I’m convinced old Herman Fluffy Felix knows his time is nearly up (Herman was the name of my second Passat, d’oh!). Five minutes later, the glow plug warning lights start flashing with an ominous sounding Engine Workshop! message appearing on the display. I’m on holiday tomorrow (that car just *knows* when to be a pain) and it looks as if I’ll be spending at least part of my day off at the local VW dealer.

Fortunately, the wonders of the interweb means that I know what the problem is and that it should be a quick fix. This is beacuse my brake lights aren’t working as well. This indicates, according to other VW owners, that the problem is simply a broken switch which should only take a few minutes (and large quantities of money) to sort out.

Only 50 days to go until Alfa day … it can’t come soon enough.

Update 15/07/2009: Fluffy Felix is all better now and at a bargain price of £19.99. Now, if he can just limp through without major expense for another month or so that would be perfect.