Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Frog Island needs regenerating – but sensitively

The Leicester Mercury picked up on my recent 'open letter' to Councillor Kitterick (sent to him in his capacity as Chair of Leicester City Council's Planning and Development Control Committee) and published it as a reader letter, complete with 'historic' Frog Island photo and link to the Ash Sakula presentation, which I referred to in my letter and the associated Leicester Civic Society blog post.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Remembering Phil Michaels

I was deeply saddened to read about the death of environmental lawyer Phil Michaels in issue 105 of FoE's Change Your World magazine.

Sue and I first met Phil at an environmental justice event at the FoE offices in London (probably in 2004), where he talked passionately about the Aarhus Convention.

We subsequently met Phil again at FoE's Rights & Justice Power Up! weekend at Northern College/Wentworth Castle in August 2005, at the Road Block Conference in Birmingham in 2007 and at an Environmental Law Foundation conference.

Obituaries can be found on the FoE website and on the Independent website under the heading "Phil Michaels: Environmental lawyer who won a succession of cases driven by his passion for justice and activists' rights".

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Eine Kirche erzählt ihre Geschichte

Meine Mutter weist hin und wieder auf interessante Artikel aus der Rhein-Neckar-Zeitung hin. Ein gutes Beispiel war der Artikel under dem Titel "Eine Kirche erzählt ihre Geschichte" vom 9. 10.

Der gesamte Artikel steht in PDF-Format hier zur Verfügung.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Rhinoceros charging in Great Russell Street

The other day I went so see the Germany: Memories of a Nation exhibition at the British Museum. Somehow I wasn't entirely convinced by it, with doubts similar to those expressed by translator colleague Margaret Marks in a review on her blog. Still, it was interesting, and I hadn't been to the British Museum for ages – the roof is stunning!

I'm also quite impressed (even if I say so myself) by the semi-artistic exhibition poster "mirror selfie" I took outside – hence the title of this blog post, with thanks to translator colleague Judith Hayward, who wrote this comment when she saw the photo: "The photograph should inspire a song – not sure a rhinoceros charging in Russell Street is quite as poetic as a nightingale singing in Berkeley Square, but it certainly shows the British Museum hasn’t lost its charm…".

Anyway, I'm going to catch up with the 30-part BBC Radio 4 podcast that accompanies the series (have only listened to a few episodes so far), and I bought the exhibition book, which should make an interesting read.

Update January 2015:
Reading the very interesting/excellent Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung article by Gina Thomas under the heading "Und plötzlich ist Deutschland ganz anders" made me realise (even more so than I had already realised before I read the article) that I didn't really 'digest' the exhibition properly during my visit and would no doubt benefit from a second visit, but I'm not going to make it before it closes. But anyway, I find the BBC Radio 4 series very illuminating (still haven't listened to all the episodes), and I still have the book to delve into.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Campaigning can feel so bleak when it’s all about "No"

Attended the "space for cycling" demo in Leicester the other day.

See superb blog post by Elizabeth Barner under the heading "What a difference a mayor makes". Note in particular: 'Campaigning can feel so bleak when it’s all about "No"'. On that note, although in a different context, this is one of the main reasons why I'm still so enthusiastic about my pro-renewables and in particular pro-wind campaigning activities after more than 20 years. See 'blast from the past' here and more recent Pro Wind Alliance website.

Coming back to the mayor theme, based on my experience from Germany I'm very much in favour of the concept of elected mayors, and I fully agreed with the editorial on the subject that was published in the Leicester Mercury opinion piece back in November 2010 under the heading "Election for mayor will beat apathy" [article no longer available, unfortunately].

Thursday, November 13, 2014

From eggcorns to Lady Mondegreen and Monty Python

An updated version of this blog post can now be found on the HE Translations blog at

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Rosetta space triumph shows what EU cooperation can achieve

The infographic below, taken from the British Influence website, says it all.
One in the eye for UKIP et al, methinks.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Latest addition to our menagerie: 3 Chickens

First chicken video, shortly after we picked them up from the collection place in Coventry, arranged via the British Hen Welfare Trust. Click here to open the Dropbox link. Note the lack of feathers...

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Monday, August 04, 2014

A visitor centre fit for a king

Leicester-based writer, editor, poet and blogger Sally Jack is impressed by the King Richard III Visitor Centre, which opened the other day. I look forward to visiting the centre in due course.

The visitor centre website looks good, too, but I feel (quite strongly) that the lower-case spelling of the website address, i.e., isn't fit for a king. In fact I think it looks quite silly/ridiculous.

It should be advertised (on leaflets etc.) as

Since web addresses aren't case-sensitive, both versions take virtual visitors to the right place, but the version certainly looks more 'regal'.

For Scotland, the independence debate is about more than the economy, stupid

Interesting analysis of the Scottish referendum situation by Chris Huhne in The Guardian, with reference to the nail-biting outcome of the Quebec referendum in 1995, which according to Wikipedia had a staggering turnout of 93.52%.

One of Chris Huhne's main conclusions at this stage is this:

The main motive, if Scots opt for independence, will be their desire to shake off the incubus of English conservatism.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

A German Genius in Britain

I have to admit that I didn't know much about W. G. (Winfried Georg) "Max" Sebald until I read the interesting Wikipedia entry and listened to a BBC Radio 4 programme entitled "A German Genius in Britain" today. I didn't really manage to take it in properly (in parallel with translation work), so ought to listen again some time. The programme is 'catch-upable' (for 12 months from today) via BBC iPlayer.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

British sense of humour

Yesterday I spoke to a gentleman (fellow heritage campaigner) who had been very poorly not long ago. Thankfully, his various conditions are currently under control, based on a complex and finely balanced mix of medication. When I asked him how he was, he said when he woke up in the morning he looked out of the window to check whether the hearse was there. He couldn't see it, so he decided to get up!

Monday, May 12, 2014

How to insert emoticons in blog posts?

The process of inserting emoticons in blog posts seems surprisingly cumbersome. This web page (thanks to Jonathan Calder for pointing it out) kind of works, but the icons are too large and therefore mess up the line spacing  :( as you can see.

In any case, I don't necessarily want/need animated emoticons. Simple/basic graphical emoticons would do nicely.

Another option would be automatic conversion of simple text-based emoticons such as :-) into graphics (this functionality has been available in Mozilla Thunderbird, for example, for years). Alas, obviously doesn't convert such text-based emoticons, as you can see.

The help system doesn't appear to offer any help in this regard, nor is an emoticon option available in the blog post toolbar – see below.

Any suggestions, anyone?

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mother's Day

I have to admit I had no idea about the history of Mother's Day (and why the date is different in Germany and the UK) until an article on the apostrophe in Mother's Day prompted me to do 'some research'.

It turns out that, according to Wikipedia, "the celebration of Mother's Day began in the United States in the early 20th century; it is not related to the many celebrations of mothers and motherhood that have occurred throughout the world over thousands of years, such as the Greek cult to Cybele, the Roman festival of Hilaria, or the Christian Mothering Sunday celebration".

The Wikipedia entry for Mothering Sunday sheds further light (or, dare I say it, perhaps confusion?) on the situation. Note the clear 'instruction' on that page: "Not to be confused with Mother's Day".

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Kirby Muxloe, by Olwen Hughes

Kirby Muxloe features in last week's Sketchbook 'episode' by Olwen Hughes MBE, patron of Leicester Civic Society. The article doesn't appear to be available (yet) on the Leicester Mercury website, so I'm taking the liberty of reproducing it here. Some blog readers will, of course, be aware that Sue and I got married at the Castle Hotel and will remember the splendid occasion.

When I visit Kirby Muxloe, I usually have visitors with me who cannot wait to see its magnificent castle remains. Generally, I take visitors to the village church first, much of which is medieval in origin. Internally, it was much re- stored in Victorian times. The castle’s popularity is justified, for the remarkable set- ting of this magnificent brick building in rich pasture land and its fascinating irregular skyline make it most scenic. It was begun in 1480 by Lord Hastings, who was lord of the manor of Ashby-de-la-Zouch. I was pleased to find many of the workmen were Welsh, though, unfortunately, they never had the opportunity to finish their work for the castle was not completed. This was because Lord Hastings was beheaded on June 13, 1483 in the courtyard of the Tower of London, a short while before Richard convinced Parliament the princes in the tower were illegitimate and he should become king. Lord Hastings had been part of what Richard judged to be a conspiracy against him. No visit to the village is complete without a call at the Castle Hotel, where a warm welcome awaits.

Friday, March 28, 2014

How copyright laws keep e-books locked up

Interesting article under the heading The Digital Paradox: How Copyright Laws Keep E-Books Locked Up available here.

Quote: Many publishing houses don't allow their products to be lent out by digital libraries for fear of piracy. Articles and books by researchers are also affected. Readers are the ones who have to pay the price.

Reading the article had the added benefit that I learned a new word: heretofore

It's a Hard Life

Methinks this photo, taken in our back room a few days ago, speaks for itself.

Not sure whether they were thinking of Queen – who knows.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Hubris Syndrome

Very interesting article on The Conversation website under the heading "Hubris, power and the correct way to topple dictators: an interview with David Owen".

Quote from the article:
Owen has established the Daedalus Trust to raise awareness about the phenomenon of hubris. “It must not be seen as purely negative – it is essential to risk taking. But we must become aware of it as a problem in every domain of life … business for instance. It has taken post-traumatic stress disorder 20 years to become accepted as a real, genuine phenomenon which needs treatment and attention. It may take another 20 years for the hubris syndrome to be similarly recognised as an acquired personality change – and as a huge problem.”

Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Life and Work of Arthur Wakerley

Today's Leicester Civic Society's spring lecture on The Life and Work of Arthur Wakerley, delivered by superb speaker Neil Crutchley at Leicester's splendid Guildhall, exceeded expectations. Anyone who missed it should look out for a repeat and make sure they attend!

There is a Wakerley Trail on the Leicester University website.

The Wikipedia page on Arthur Wakerley seems a little sparse and could do with 'cranking up'. Any volunteers?

Friday, March 14, 2014

Pine Marten!

Caught on camera near the HE Translations Scottish office...

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Schlagzeile des Monats? "Seehofer muss dringend ins Abklingbecken"

Angesichts des kürzlichen Artikels in der Welt unter dem Titel "Seehofer muss dringend ins Abklingbecken" überlege ich ernsthaft eine Rubrik 'Schlagzeile des Monats' einzurichten.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Fox Hunt (5)

More wildlife entertainment in the Dropbox album that opens up if you click here.

Fox Hunt (4)

More wildlife entertainment in the Dropbox album that opens up if you click here.

Fox Hunt (3)

More wildlife entertainment in the Dropbox album that opens up if you click here.

Friday, February 07, 2014

Geboren 1964 (plus/minus 5 oder so)

Ich bin zwar Jahrgang 59, bin aber auch als Aushilfstaxifahrer rumgekurvt (in Heidelberg und Stuttgart) – war gar nicht so einfach ohne SatNav!

Zuvor saß ich nicht im Käfer hinten, sondern im 600er Fiat. Manchmal auch vorne – siehe Foto for your entertainment, wie der Engländer zu sagen pflegt.

Worum geht es hier eigentlich, wird sich manche(r) LeserIn wundern. Gute Frage. Anlass ist der heute in erschienene "Geboren 1964"-Artikel, der unter diversen ÜbersetzerkollegInnen auf großes Interesse stieß und nostalgieerweckend wirkte.

Wie dem auch sei, in die Alpen sind wir damals erstmals weder mit einem Käfer noch mit einem 600er Fiat vorgedrungen, sondern mit einem 124er Fiat, und zwar vorzugsweise an den Faaker See (angeblich der wärmste Badesee in der nördlichen Hemisphäre oder so ähnlich).

Mein Vater rauchte übrigens Kurmark, aber die Werbung mit dem HB-Männchen ("Wer wird denn gleich in die Luft gehen") war immer sehr unterhaltsam.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Simon Jenkins: "Germany, I apologise for this sickening avalanche of first world war worship"

I certainly don't agree with everything Simon Jenkins says (especially his repeated silly outbursts of anti-wind turbine propaganda), but he gets full marks from me for his excellent WW1 piece in yesterday's Guardian

 Reminds of "War doesn't determine who's right - only who's left" (Bertrand Russell, allegedly).

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Leicester Mercury photo competition: Curves and Lines

Nice photos in the Curves and Lines Leicester Mercury photo competition.

Frost, by Caroline Hart

Any idea where the station clock by Susan Guy is? I don't think it's Leicester station, unless the photo was taken before the recent refurbishment?

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Strasse Schloss Ablenkung

Get it? I thought not! :-)

Anyway, the other day one of my 'energy mates' posted this (rather off-topic) comment in an energy forum under the heading Stopping temporary road signs blowing over:
I can't help but notice that temporary road signs blow over because the wrong stabilising solution is applied - they place a single sand bag on the rear horizontal strut only. This does stop the sign blowing over if the wind comes from the rear, but nothing to stop the sign blowing over if the wind comes from the front, which it will do in stormy conditions. The correct place to put the sandbag(s) is on the apex of the sign so that the sandbags weight is equally pressing down on both the front and the rear legs, rather than just the rear. And possibly two is better than one.
Be that as it may, it reminded me of a hilarious 'German' road sign that I spotted during a visit to Bath back in 2003. See below.

At the time I couldn't resist sending the following message to the Bath & North East Somerset Council Tourist Office at
I recently visited Bath ... as part of an Orient Express excursion from
London, and the whole day was fantastic, including the guided tour of Bath.
However, I came across the traffic sign shown [above], which was apparently trying to indicate that the road was closed and that there was a diversion. Unfortunately, the German on that sign is so bad that to call it an embarrassment would be a severe understatement. If you ever require the services of a professional translator, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Pete Seeger RIP

I have to confess that I didn't know a lot about Pete Seeger and his background until I started reading about him, prompted by announcement of his death in today's Guardian.

Interesting Wikipedia entry about Pete Seeger here. Nice Guantanamera YouTube clip here, leading to Joan Baez Guantanamera here. This is getting a little addictive! Interesting Wikipedia entry about Guantanamera here. By the way, looking forward to An Evening with Joan Baez at the Southbank Centre in September.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Alternative to Fracking?

A little while ago a fellow environmental campaigner sent me this thought-provoking and highly topical message:
Just want to clear up something for myself; I won't support fracking but I don't know enough about it (so generally I stay away from discussing it). However, all the renewable energy sources I know of (wind turbines etc.) are to provide electricity...not gas. So is there a renewable equivalent to gas, or is the aim to move away from gas and convert all gas powered equipment to electricity?
I told him that I intend to provide a comprehensive response asap, not least because it will help clear things up in my own mind too! This just a 'holding entry' to indicate that I haven't forgotten...

Meanwhile, see The Renewable Gas Mandate blog entry and plenty of further reading on renewable gas in Jo Abbess' blog.

Thursday, January 23, 2014


Some nice shots of birds on our mega bird feeder in Dropbox album here.

Also see short video clip below. Note adult bird feeding the young.

Fox Hunt (2)

Managed to 'catch' a fox in search of food for a few seconds the other day in the morning. Note that it was in daylight, just after 8am.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Google Earth shows plane over Russell Square

This morning I looked up an address in London and was amazed to see a plane over Russell Square, although come to think of it, I dare say the sight of planes in Google Earth is probably not particularly uncommon?

Monday, January 20, 2014

Eye-catching pile-up proved end of the line for locos

Not sure what sparked the sudden (?) interest in Vic Berry's train scrapyard, but there is another interesting article in today's Leicester Mercury, accompanied by the photo below.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Fox Hunt (1)

Gradually getting the hang of our relatively new wildlife camera. Spot the fox among the other wild (and not so wild) life in the Dropbox album that opens up if you click here.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Dude, where's my North Sea oil money? - And related musings

Interesting article in today's Guardian under the heading Dude, where's my North Sea oil money? Note the reference to Nigel Lawson.

On a related note, I remember the late Crispin Aubrey's 2008 article under the heading Britannia to rule the waves? Ambitions for offshore.

I would suggest that, if the North Sea oil and gas money hadn't been squandered (not to mention the squandering of the actual oil and gas!), Britain could now be the world leader in renewables development and deployment, rather than finding itself in perpetual catch-up mode.

This saga reminds me of a memorable and inspiring meeting organised by FoE in the run-up to the Climate Change Act, where I had opportunity to raise the Nigel Lawson issue very publicly in the form of a question addressed to Peter Ainsworth, as follows:

"While we are gathered here, Nigel Lawson is delivering a speech at a Rotary event in Leicester, introducing his new book on the economics and politics of climate change, in which he accuses the Stern report of scaremongering. In other words, he has the audacity of questioning the global scientific consensus on climate change and laments the alleged negative effect of preventive measures on business and the economy, while for some mysterious reason ignoring the fact that an enlightened energy policy could create tens of thousands of jobs so that, as one recent article put it, Britannia could once again rule the waves. Does your party intend to try and educate sceptics such as His Lordship by pointing out the potential economic benefits of sustainable development?"

Rather encouragingly, Peter Ainsworth (and needless to say the rest of the panel) was basically in full agreement with all aspects of my introductory comments and the actual question.

The trouble is, we/Britain seem to be going round in circles – or worse: backwards!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Picture of the day: A huge fire at Vic Berry's train scrapyard

I remember Vic Berry's train scrapyard well from my time at Eastleigh Road. Used to walk/cycle through there every day on my way to work at Leicester Poly. The pictures below are taken from a short Leicester Mercury article on the fire that appears to have marked the beginning of the end for the scrapyard.

Fred Leicester goes to work on a keg

I don't always read the Fred Leicester column in the Leicester Mercury, but the current one is hilarious and worth sharing: Fred Leicester goes to work on a keg

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Ein Wagen von der Linie 8

Hatte "Ein Wagen von der Linie 8" schon seit Jahren nicht mehr gehört aber kürzlich auf YouTube 'nachgeschlagen'. Prädikat: höchst empfehlenswert!

1914 London Wonderground Map

One could spend hours exploring the fascinating zoomable map provided on the BBC website at

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Deleting emails

An updated version of this blog post can now be found on the HE Translations blog at

Saturday, January 04, 2014

Badger hunt

The other day our remote wildlife camera 'caught' a creature, and we couldn't make up our minds whether it was a badger or one of our cats.

We decided to try and get to the bottom of it and put the camera out again in the same place a couple of days later. Allegedly badgers like peanuts, so we put some of our bird peanuts down for encouragement. No badgers, but see results below for your entertainment, plus more in Dropbox album.