I woke up this morning, opened the blinds in my bedroom and was slightly surprised to find over thirty hot air balloons hovering over Bristol.
And then I remembered it was the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta this weekend Still, nice to wake up to all those hot air balloons. More photos here:
It looks best if you look at the high rez photos.
I was pondering this question earlier today while I rewired a 4-way adaptor to have a longer lead. When was the last time that I actually had to change a plug. While I was a child I changed plugs all the time. I loved to play around with electrical gadgets that I had acquired through jumble sales and alike. These items often required a plug to be connected and therefore I spent quite a number of weekends messing around with screwdrivers, wire clippers and even in some cases soldering irons.
I remember that in school, both primary and secondary, I was taught how to change a plug. I was taught the colours of the wires inside a cable and how they related to the electrical mains supply. I understood which terminals within a plug these had to be connected to and I knew how to strip the cable to the correct lengths.
These days most electrical items come with a plug moulded onto the wire. It is rare that you have to change a fuse let alone rewire the plug. Before today I really can’t remember the last time that I saw the inside of a plug. Are children even taught, what was once considered a necessary life skill, in schools?
So I ask you, when did you last wire a plug? What colour is the earth wire? Does blue connect to the neutral terminal or the live terminal? Finally, is it the earth or the live terminal that has the fuse?
I was born 10,000 days ago. Today is my 10,000th day birthday. I tried to reflect on this while driving to work but the enormity of it was too big. I bought a smoothie from Sainsbury’s to compensate. Here’s to another 10000 days of my life. Rosie, Becky and Dave are coming round for food tonight to celebrate – I have naughty ice cream for desert!
I am off to visit my parents this weekend – and meet up with an old school friend. My mother’s side of the family are all meeting up for the bank holiday because my aunt is coming over from Nepal, where she lives teaching English to the natives, for a short while. It will be nice to see everyone again.
Oh, my friend Chris sent me to this web page showing a kite in the shape of a mouse pointer. How cool?!
Wow, Vauxhall make it really difficult to fit a third party radio into one of their cars.
- Bit of wire to convert from the Vauxhall Quad Lock connector to the radio: £30
- Fascia adaptor: £20
- Cost of bits that I was sold but didn’t need and will be sending back: £50
- Listening to my ipod and getting some quality audio out of it: Priceless
Lots of effort but worth it in the end. I have lost the stalk controls (that would be another 60 quid) and also the speed dependant volume system but I think I can just about cope without them. Vauxhall also don’t provide a dimmer output in the standard wiring loom so that the radio doesn’t know the cars lights are on (which would normally cause the display to dim slightly). In their wisdom they also don’t provide an ignition wire which means I have had to wire the stereo directly to the battery cable – this means that as far as the stereo is concerned the car is always on. Apparently Vauxhall have moved these signals into a digital data bus and I can only have access to this by paying the £60 upgrade for the stalk controls.
After fitting all this into the car I went for a drive on Sunday, taking Norm off to Bristol Airport. When we were passing the new Broadmead extension I started to smell an acrid electrical burning. This is generally not good and I thought the car might be about to set on fire. I got Norm to start sniffing various bits of the car – although he had a cold so maybe this wasn’t the best approach. The smell turned out to be that bit of Bristol rather than that car… still quite worrying!
The coming of the summer months, note how I didn’t say weather, is marked by another round of euro-ballad-pop-rock music from artists that no one has ever heard of. Eurovision has always been a night to take the mickey out of other countries as well as our own pitiful entries.
My Eurovision weekend was spent in the company of my good friends down in Exeter where Roz organised an exciting party in the house of Reagan, Dave B and Damo. I was allocated three countries that I had to support, as well as the UK, which were The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Romania and Belarus who did surprisingly well in the competition by coming sixth overall.
I think this year more than ever the political voting spoilt the competition. Eurovision has always been a bit susceptible to national bias with Greece and Cyprus being the main culprits over the years. However with the introduction of the Eastern Bloc and Balkan countries into the EBU it has become far more prevalent. It was laughably easily to predict the set of countries that were going to be gaining votes. I would be willing to bet that it will be these same set of countries that rank highly next year. Not that I am a sore looser or anything.
Our entry, a cross between Steps, 5ive and Eurotrash, with stunning chorography and deeply meaningful lyrics came a joint second to last with France. Not only that but it also managed to set Damo’s surround sound amplifier on fire with acrid smoke pouring out of it by the end of the performance.
Roz bought the most amazing burgers from some farm shop near her flat. They tasted gorgeous and I am very jealous that they have such a fine purveyor of burger goodness so close to them. I think at the weekend I will have to go to the delicatessen on the Gloucester road for meat treats.
It was also great to catch up with my friend John (Prom) who has been absent from my life for a good number of years now. He is coming to the end of a philosophy degree at Exeter so good luck to him in the coming months.
Oh, Serbia won Eurovision – much to Becky’s dismay as she had to drink from The Cup Of Europe (a bowl of sparkling alcoholic fruit punch) whenever they were given 12 points
Here’s to a great weekend, it was nice to catch up with everyone again.
The Bardo Museum in a suburb of Tunis really requires far more time than the hour we were given to look around. A former royal palace of the Bay and added to over many centuries the building is unremarkable from the outside apart from its imposing size. However the inside is filled with mosaics, wonderfully carved and painted ceilings, statues and tablets from the ancient world. You are filled with horror as you realise that you are standing on and walking over mosaics that are equally as intricate as the ones that are roped off or hanging on the walls.
Four days of my Tunisia holiday behind me and I find myself waking up in my hotel bedroom wondering what to do with the day. I end up spending most of it on the beach and at the bar, relaxing the day away with a good book. The hotel has an entertainment staff of around 10 young adults. The hotel refers to them as the Animation Team and they are responsible for making sure you have fun while you are on holiday. They organise dance sessions, put on a cabaret, bingo and a variety of other things for the kids. The most impressive thing about the animation team is their ability to switch fluently between five or six different languages including English, French, Arabic, German, Italian and Spanish. Multi-language bingo is something that has to be experienced at least once. Monday evening heralded a search for dinner that ended with a trip to a restaurant next door to the hotel called Restaurant Bedouina. I had a gorgeous fillet steak and I would recommend the restaurant to anyone visiting the area.
With Tozeur behind we used 4x4s to travel in convoy up into the mountains, stopping at Chebika to see the natural oasis and waterfalls fed from springs. We hiked up further into the mountain and saw the source of the spring feeding the oasis. All the way up, and it is quite a tourist spot, local children were offering rocks split in half with various coloured crystals inside for only 1TD. Our guide for this section of the trip had a lazy eye which made it very difficult to look at him while he was speaking. The original Berber village of Chebika was destroyed during flooding in 1969. Only the walls of the houses remain while the new village was constructed a few kilometres down the road.This area, and further on towards Tamerza, features a large canyon. I have never been to the Grand Canyon in the US but a young English couple I met on the bus told me that I needn’t bother since this one in Tunisia was just as good. I have never seen anything as large or as impressive. It really brings GCSE geography lessons to life, showing the different layers of rock and how they have been shifted over the millennia to form the hills and valleys. From the top of one of the hills you can look out across the desert and see the Algerian boarder, not that there is anything to de-mark it other than the edge of an oasis. Continue reading
Eight hours and countless kilometres later our coach arrives at Hotel Les Dunes on the outskirts of Souk Lahad. You get the impression that the hotel is only ever used by tour groups who arrive in the evening and depart again early in the morning. The hotel was empty apart from our group, the discotheque had only two people in it. My bed consisted of a tiled shelf, about a foot and a half above the floor, upon which rested two single mattresses. It felt very strange climb onto the shelf, walk to the head of the mattress, and then settle down for sleep.
Tunisia 2007 Part 3
Travelling into the south of Tunisia on the GP1 you will notice five litre containers of liquid being sold on the side of the road. They are usually stacked on top of planks of wood and barrels. These actually contain petrol that the locals have bought in Libya, where the price of fuel is very low, and then imported into Tunisia. There are hundreds of these unofficial petrol stations along the road. You pull up in your car and they will put a funnel into the fuel tank, tip the petrol into the funnel, and then charge you less than the Esso or Mobil price.