Category Archives: Woe

A weather-related ‘Did you know?’ post

Did you know that wintry weather is more likely in March than December in the UK? On average, snow falls on five days in December. In March, it falls on six days.

That makes no difference to my wish for this seemingly endless winter to begone, though. Honestly, it seems to have been going on forever. And I’m not being fooled: look at this picture. This is my back garden.

Don't be fooled. It may look lovely and sunny and warm in my back garden, but it's brass monkeys out there.

Doesn’t it look lovely and Spring-like?

I just went outside to put the washing out, and my fingers froze solid. I’m typing this with my (freaky monkey) toes.

So, anyway. My point was this: it’s not particularly unusual weather for March. It’s just really annoying.


This is not science. It’s tweed.

I am beginning an extremely non-scientific study into the use of tweed to denote Englishmen in American film and TV.

Every time I see an Englishman in tweed in an American production, it will find its way here. This was inspired partly by Giles in Buffy the Vampire Slayer (who almost always wears tweed) and partly because we watched a truly dreadful film last night, and the lasting impression that we took from it was: Americans use tweed to denote an Englishman.

Anthony Stewart Head as Giles from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Wearing tweed.

Rupert Giles. He’s wearing tweed in almost every photo on the internet. True fact.

The film we watched last night was dire. Red Lights, in case you’re wondering. It started as a formulaic jumpy paranormal film, then slid into something much more interesting (although I didn’t care about any of the shallow characters) and then committed suicide disappointingly at the end. Plus, there was a really obvious twist.

But I digress: it was clear, from this film and from other American productions, that Americans use tweed to identify Englishmen. I’ve had a quick search for the scene in question, but I can’t find it. It’s when all the reporters are clamouring around the scientists (I think). One of them is English. He’s wearing tweed.

Spotted any uses of tweed in American film and TV? Let me know. I’ll document them here. It’ll be thrilling.

Whimsy with the Moon

The Moon. It inspires stories, songs, spirituality, whole religions, silliness and conspiracy theories. Not to mention being responsible for the tides and the very existence of life on Earth as we know it. Not a bad hall of fame for a large lump of cheese.

It’s also the home of the Clangers. They say it isn’t; they say it’s a planet that just resembles the Moon, but that is a cover-up. A cover-up, I tell you! Incidentally, have you ever taken a close look at the Clangers? Rather sweet and ditsy little creatures, central to the childhoods of people of my parents’ age?

Oh no. No no no. Look again.

The Clangers on the Moon, with other stuff going on. They're alarming massive

Look at them. They’re fucking massive.

Let’s look at the facts. You can clearly see the curvature of the Moon in the illustration above, which also shows the Clangers pointing at a large lump of rubbish. This tells me the following: the Clangers are fucking massive.

I was going to do a whole bunch of calculations based on the circumference of the Moon (10,921 km), its angle of curve in that picture, and the relative height of the Clangers to find out how tall that would make them, but frankly I can’t be arsed. Suffice it to say, they are clearly taller than a very tall building.

Would you really want to be anywhere near giant mice with voices like slide-whistles and a penchant for volcanic soup? I think not.

Anyway, the thing that sent me down this particular garden path was this picture from I Fucking Love Science. (I do.)

A series of photographs of people doing cool stuff with the Moon, to make it look like the Moon is within reach.

All the things you can do with the Moon (no Clangers involved).

How cool is that?

What can you do with the Moon?

Turn on, tune in, drop out

Decision made. This is quite an achievement for me, because I’m generally terrible at making decisions. I even disagree with Magic 8 Balls.

I’ve dropped out. Dropped out of S216, but not out of my OU degree. But that is a good thing: there is no guilt here (hoorah!) because I just don’t have the time or motivation for this course at the moment.

Having found myself needing a week’s extension for TMA04, then watching the week’s extension fly past with a satisfying “whoosh” sound, then coming to the realisation that I hadn’t even thought about my project, I arrived at the conclusion that I have too much going on at the moment.

I feel lighter already. It’s an enormous weight off my mind; I can concentrate on building my new business (did I mention it’s called Sunflower Communications?), make sure I actually enjoy my holiday to Germany in September, and look forward to starting S207 The Physical World in October. I’m very excited. It’s all about physics!

The OU has a very good system: I’m transferring 30% of my S216 course fee to S207, so I’m getting 30% off my next course. I’m fine with that, because I’ve got all the course books and materials for S216, so I’ll read them at my leisure over the next few months.

I can’t help feeling that if the course had been more like S104, I would have struggled far less to find time for it. I hope so. S216 has been a disappointment to me, but I suspect that is at least partly my fault – although I still say to the authors: please discover and embrace paragraphs!

So off I go. Good luck to those still doing S216; and bring on S207! Physics ROCKS.

Fawlty bike woe

I suppose you could say that this is a science-related post, being as my motorbike battery is not sending enough charge to fire the damn thing.

This is a short post, which explains how my shonky shitter of a two-wheeled nemesis has ruined today for me. I have a new battery on order, but that won’t help me get to work, or to a hospital appointment.

I have just had a Basil Fawlty moment and put a new crack in the fairing. Without easy access to a handy tree branch or a tent peg, I used my size fives. There’s nothing like starting the day with a bit of rage!

Explosions and loose ends

I have Explored Science.

I handed in my final, examinable assessment this week, and – bar the Grand Waiting For Results – my level one course with the Open University is complete. I have a very good feeling about the final assessment (the EMA); I enjoyed completing it, and didn’t find it as frightening or difficult as I expected. I’m not sure if this is a good thing or not…

My feelings at the moment are mixed: I have adored this course with a passion normally reserved for cheese. It’s been an eye-opening, mind-expanding, boggling and awe-inspiring journey, that has often afflicted me with a penchant for too many superlatives. But the Universe is a very large and splendid place, so the odd superlative isn’t necessarily out of place.

However, I’m now both sad that the course has ended, and at a loose end. What now? I find myself wandering aimlessly around the house, tidying and generally finding Things To Do. I started by placing myself in the vicinity of a large glass of wine, but frankly there is only so much of that one can do before one becomes the local lush, so here is a run-down of my Saturday night.

Brace yourselves…

My esteemed and marvellous husband has invited his blokey colleagues to our house for a game of poker. Now, normally, I would take myself to my study and study furiously – but I have no studying to do! And worse – I have no broadband (this is having profound effects on my sense of civilisation; I’d be rubbish in an apocalypse that involves sending us back to the Stone Age) so this blog won’t even reach cyberspace until who knows when. Which is now. Tuesday.

So what have I done with my Saturday night? Well may you ask. It has involved explosions, funk and groove. People: I have Done My Paperwork! Paperwork that has built up since March this year. I’ve filed, organised, stapled, punched holes and recycled like the crazy party animal I am. But before you write this off as a really dull way to spend Saturday night, bear in mind that I have been drinking Waggle Dance throughout, and that my hole punch exploded.

That’s right; there are holes EVERYWHERE. My study is covered in holes. It looks like an example of chaos theory, which is appropriate to my course of study, but not to my innate and, some may say uptight, sense of order and tidiness. It’s making my brain hurt. And I can’t bring the vacuum cleaner in and sort it out until tomorrow, because Joe’s colleagues will think I’m a mentaller.


The Indian Summer will continue tomorrow, and I shall make a longbow and a knife. After clearing up the holes, of course.

Near death experiences and poker games…

Friday morning. Weather forecast: rain, with a little snow later on in the day. I start at 8am on a Friday (so I can do the Friday leaving early thing). I’m back on the motorbike now, after the Christmas snow – which is wonderful, as I really miss it when I have to take the car. It’s so much more fun, and is considerably quicker through the Birmingham traffic.

Anyway, off I potter. It’s chilly, but by no means freezing. As I hop onto the motorway, it starts to rain lightly. There’s a lot of spray, so I take it easy – but visibility isn’t too bad. As I join the M42, my visibility suddenly worsens, my visor steams up, and I can see nothing. Literally nothing. I struggle back into lane one, hoping against hope that nothing drives over me, and more frightened than I have ever been in my life. I slow down as much as I dare – I’ve now got lorries overtaking me, and don’t dare stop on the hard shoulder. It’s too nasty. I open my visor, and stinging pellets of sleet hit me. Then it becomes full on snow.

I stop breathing, because that’s not helping, and wonder, for the first time, if this is it. I really thought I was going to die on that road. The relief when I saw the slip road peel off in front of me was phenomenal. I burst into tears at the lights at the roundabout, potter around the roundabout, and stop in the layby with the bacon butty man.

It was at this point that I got off, looked around, and realised that half an inch of snow had fallen in about ten minutes. Do I go back? On the motorway? Not on your nelly! To be honest, slippery roads and a bit of snow wouldn’t normally faze me, but after that motorway journey I was seriously shaken up. But I decided to carry on – it probably wouldn’t be that bad.

It was pretty bad. No gritting, idiots in cars right up onto my back wheel because I choose to leave a large space so I don’t have to stop. Stopping and starting is the worst, you see. Firstly, because when your foot goes down, you don’t know if it’ll stay down, or shoot off sideways landing yourself on the ground with the bike on top of you. And starting involves a lot of back wheel sliding. Incidentally, the back wheel sliding out sideways six inches can be useful, as the muppet up your backside generally clears off when it sees how tricky biking in the snow is.

I did see a couple of other motorbikes around, which made me feel better. And when I stopped at the side of the road, considering phoning a colleague and asking for a lift, a girl on a motorbike went past me! Well, that made me MTFU, anyway. And off I went again. It was not a fun journey at all, but I didn’t die, and I kept it upright. And my soundtrack through town was The War of the Worlds, which was, quite frankly, ace.

Anyway. As I said: I have never before really thought I was going to die. Strange things go through your mind. I felt really guilty at the thought that Joe was going to get the phone call I always dread when he goes out on his bike. I wondered whether it would hurt. If it would just be eternal darkness, or something else, or nothing at all. Also, it makes you feel sick, which is a little unnecessary, I think. Relief is a wonderful thing, and in true “fucking hippy” style, I’m so grateful to be here. Lucky doesn’t even begin to describe it. Everything seemed brighter and sparklier and more colourful, and it still does.

Poker games and good friends

We made a lamb tagine with dates, and they came. Our mates. To play poker. Muzz and Dawn, Andy Mac, Andy (Easy Now), and Dan. And it was good. And fun. And we laughed and drank and ate gooey cheese.

Mrs Mac sent me a gift: a home-made candle from her new business, Mrs Mac Makes. Which is absolutely gorgeous, and a lovely thing to do. Y’see, they have a dog. SamTheDog. He steals cheese and thinks he’d like to eat small children. He’s aces. But he couldn’t come, because of Noodle and Whiskey, so Mrs Mac stayed home with him, and I felt The Guilt. So the gift was lovely!

Andy Mac brought us a log. It burned until Sunday, and we relit the fire from it. An impressive log, that.

Dawn and Muzz brought us a bag and a half of cat litter. Our friends are odd. Lovely, but odd. And they won. First and second prizes in the longest game of poker in the history of Radford Semele. Ridiculous, but fun.

And we learned that cheese distorts reality around itself. Look:

Poker being distorted by cheese

It was a great night, I love my friends, and I thank them all for coming, bringing gifts, and entertaining us.

Treasure hunting

We went treasure hunting with Charlie, Pepper and Freebie on Sunday. We were moderately successful – we found a Motorway Madness cache near Sherbourne, and one at the Barford Bridge. Twas a good walk, although Joe was suffering somewhat from a rather large hangover. On return to Charlie’s abode, we had a quick look around the area, and formulated what is possibly the best plan of this year so far:

Wellesbourne Airfield next Sunday. We’re going to go for a fry up at the airfield, then walk around Wellesbourne with the dogs, munching home-made flapjack, and picking up the 20 or so caches on a five mile walk. Then back to the airfield for pints of tea. Aces!

And we had a bit of a fail on the way home. Joe and I decided to swing by Chesterton Windmill and pick up the cache hidden up there. It was sunset, so the trip wasn’t completely wasted…

Sunset at the windmill

We couldn’t find the cache. We worked out the clue, but the co-ordinates are given in a strange format, and we couldn’t find it. The additional hint helped, and we think we know where it may be, but it got incredibly cold extremely quickly, and our fingers froze, so home we came, in disgrace.

Any excuse to go up to the windmill though. It’s beautiful up there at the worst of times, let alone at sunset on a perfect, clear winter’s day.