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.