Archive for March, 2005

Alternative Easter Mass

Friday, March 25th, 2005


The last Friday in the month means that it is Critical Mass time again but tomorrow’s ride will also celebrate the 11th year of monthly bike rides.  Last year’s anniversary ride saw over 800 cyclists on the streets with a bike samba band, a guitar player in a rickshaw, various sound systems and some amazing bike creations.  For those who haven’t experienced the fun and friendliness of a Mass, I can thoroughly recommend it for a good night out.  Folks gravitate towards the Southbank at Waterloo, specifically outside the NFT Cafe under Waterloo Bridge from 6pm with the ride setting off about 6.30pm.  This mass of riders then moves around London (no specific route) together with safety in number all but removing the danger of cars and lorries for a few fun hours.  It’s a bank holiday for most tomorrow, so there is no excuse for not attending especially if the weather is brighter as in recent days.  For a glimpse of what went on last year, have a look at these pictures.


Halloween Mass 2004

Additionally, with there being a full moon and hopefully clear skies, CM rider Roger Geffen is planning another of his all-night bike rides from London to Hastings in time to watch the sunrise.  Roger plans to set off at 9pm from the Southwark Needle, the sculpture at the southern end of London Bridge outside Evans bike shop.  “The sky will begin to lighten up the wonderful countryside on the Kent/Sussex border approaching the South Downs, allowing us to enjoy sunrise itself (which is at 5.52am) on the final descent into Hastings about 70 miles later.  Much of the terrain is gently rolling, but it is pretty hilly where we cross the North Downs (just before reaching the M25) and again as we cross the South Downs just before reaching the coast.”  Roger further advises anyone who fancies joining will need to “bring lights, some energy-rich food and drink to keep you going, enough money for breakfast in Hastings (there is a cafe near the marina which opens early) and for the train fare home (£14.90, or £9.85 with a rail card), and clothing options to deal with the possibilities of cold or wet conditions.  No doubt those of you who are really optimistic about the weather will want to bring some bathing stuff too!”

I’m off to pump tyres, check lights and make sure the camera has batteries.

also blogged to Metroblogging London

Forget Chip and PIN – this is the way to pay

Friday, March 25th, 2005


Chip and PIN is relatively new here in the UK.  In New Zealand, the more established EFTPOS has been around for years.  However, in America where signing is still the norm, some folks have been having way too much fun playing The Credit Card Prank and The Credit Card Prank II on retail assistants who, in the main, clearly don’t give a stuff.

from ZUG as spotted by Michael.

Happy Easter

Friday, March 25th, 2005
Happy Easter

Mostly, I shall be doing lots of this. Bliss.

Dating The Village People

Thursday, March 24th, 2005

I have just been having an online chat with a fellow London Metblogger who used to date a Marine.  Asking how it was going, I was told that she had kicked the Marine to the kerb in favour of a construction gang boss in the States.  Before I could stop myself, I typed:

[13:41] BigNosedUglyGuy: Are you dating The Village People in rotation?
[13:41] BigNosedUglyGuy: Who next? The sailor, motorcycle cop and Indian Chief?

She replied:

[13:44] <blogger>: meanie.

making me feel bad for implying loose morals – but then spoiled the illusion and cracked me up with:

[13:45] <blogger>: you know… I’ve already had a copper.

That said, serially dating representatives of the Village People professions would be one hell of a wager – but old hat for some gay friends I suspect.

Produtivity through chocolate

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2005
Produtivity through chocolate

To celebrate excellent performace as well as the upcoming holiday, I went Easter shopping for my team today. The 40-odd eggs didn’t stay in the box long with one being comsumed within 30 seconds of handing it out!

Rare photos of Afghanistan

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2005

Kabulstreetscene c/o BBC

BBC News: In Pictures has a few intriguing photographs of Afghanistan in the 1930s.  I have had an interest in the history of the Afghan people ever since reading Helen Saberi’s excellent book on Afghan food and domestic culture, Noshe Djan: Afghan Food and Cookery.

Time for a lunch break

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2005
Time for a lunch break

This is how exciting my little corner of the universe gets around lunchtime. Simply sent to test moblog connection is OK.

Sent from my Treo

Web’s worst kept secret

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2005

According to Flickrblog and the unofficialyahooweblog, Flikr has been Yahoo‘d

New wheels on my wagon

Sunday, March 20th, 2005

I have finally managed to ‘upgrade’ the roller wheels on my Brompton with skate wheels, which should allow me to wheel rather than carry it through stations on my commute.  Thanks are due to Caroline, esteemed member of Tower Hamlets Wheelers who sourced the wheels at Decathlon and kindly grabbed some for me as I was abroad.  Thirty pence-worth of slightly longer than original bolts from the local DIY shop and five minutes effort saw them installed and looking rather neat


All of which reminds me I haven’t ridden the beast since my return from New Zealand.

my lo-fi ears are listening to Thinking About Tomorrow/Beth Orton

The supermodel in my bed

Sunday, March 20th, 2005

In the week since I have returned home, I have woken in the night more than a few times, bidden by my bodyclock to be doing something other than sleep. The first few seconds of wakefulness have been typified by uncomprehending confusion for, no matter how familiar the surroundings of my bedroom might appear in the minutes that follow, my first thought is a conviction that I am in an airport hotel somewhere in New Zealand. My next thoughts are that I don’t know where the toilet is and, more worryingly, I’m in bed with a woman. In the agonising seconds that follow, one half of my befuddled brain tries to work out where the toilet is whilst the other half desperately ponders on how I am going to explain the woman in bed to SWMBO. After what can be no more than ten or more seconds, there comes the slow and blessed realisation that I am actually in my own bedroom and the sleeping form next to me is in fact the wife and not some Kiwi supermodel who would stop at nothing to prevent my return to the UK.

Having never travelled to the other side of the world and back before, I have no idea whether this sort of behaviour is normal after long haul flights or in fact I’m undergoing some sort of forty-something mental meltdown. After a week, I am seemingly back to normal and confident that the three-in-a-bed activities of the last week are behind me. That said, the disturbed sleep and disorientation has served to emphasise two things to me; just how far away New Zealand is and, somewhat surprisingly, how quickly my consciousness adapted to the solitary existence of such a road trip. Although the phrase is a little over-worn, ‘alone not lonely’ would be a fair way of describing my time in New Zealand for, whilst there were periods of lonliness in which I missed SWMBO and the kids, I was very fortunate to meet some wonderful people. These people ranged from bus drivers and waiters to the siblings and parents of folks I know and, without exception, each and everyone of them enhanced my trip. So, in the fervent hope that I will avoid gushing like a starlet at the Oscars, I would like to mention a few of those who helped make my visit the experience it was.

Linda, Gideon, Susie, David and Amy for their hospitality, friendship and good humour. There are not many busy families who will alter their plans in minutes to welcome a jetlagged semi-stranger so warmly – and then invite him back twice more. If ever there were a family who embody what we envisage for ourselves, we need look no further.

Rita and Steve for their generosity of time and advice. Steve gave up a whole day to give me a whirlwind tour of Auckland’s suburbs and amenities, introducing me to the culinary delights of pies and fresh Kiwi produce then fitting in a quick swim in the Pacific before joining Rita for a wonderful dinner and an evening of great conversation.

Di and Paul for taking me to my first English theme pub to watch my first Super 12 game…and then taking me to an Irish theme pub after Ireland beat England in the Six Nations.

Rae and Peter who made the diversion to Palmerston North so worthwhile, offering me the biggest lunch of the trip and a marvellous drive through the Manawatu-Wanganui countryside – not to mention Rae’s waist-expanding cream tea picnic!

Brenda (to whom I can now put a face after years of swapping emails on a mailing list), who knows a great place for organic coffee and muffins and kindly invited me for Friday afternoon drinks with the open source geeks at Catalyst, with whom I talked computing, politics and semantics whilst playing table tennis with a bat in one hand and a beer in the other before joining Brenda for a late supper with her partner Callum.

Tammy and Mike who took a few hours away from launching their Move2NZ migrant website to show me the delights of Christchurch, Governor’s Bay and Rapaki and provide me with a wealth of advice that only experienced migrants would know.

I spoke to a great many people who, in their professional capacities, provided me with advice concerning immigration, employment and relocation. Although it is my intention to write on the more practical aspects of our emigration experience elsewhere, I would like to especially mention Isobel, Gwenda and the team at SearchWorks who, being great folks to deal with, even lent me a desk and phone when Princes Charles’ visit threatened to make me homeless in Wellington. Honourable mentions are also due to Phil at Candle, Nathalie at Momentum, Shelley at OCG, Brenda at WestPac, Gillian at Drake, James at Comspek and Bruce, Sara, Tracey and Patrick at Duncan & Ryan.

In closing, I would like to point out that the supermodel featured at the beginning of this piece is, of course, an attention-grabbing literary device and nothing else. Really.

my lo-fi ears are listening to Broken Stones/Paul Weller