Saturday, March 28, 2015

Speechless re. Germanwings tragedy

I have to admit that I know embarrassingly little about mental illness, but I came across a statement by the charity Mind re. yesterday's front pages on the Germanwings plane crash.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Richard III: The King has returned

What an amazing few days it has been in and for Leicester! There can be no doubt that Leicester and Leicestershire have handled the unique historic situation with impressive aplomb. John Sergeant summed it up very nicely during the coverage of the burial on Channel 4 yesterday:

Well done Leicester!

Thursday, March 26, 2015


I 'discovered' the fascinating Flightradar24 website in the context of reports on the Germanwings tragedy. Flightradar24 is a flight tracking service that provides real-time info about thousands of aircraft around the world.

As well as being potentially addictive, Flightradar24 illustrates the sheer scale of global aviation. Perhaps one day it will include information about the environmental impacts...

Monday, March 23, 2015


The other day I wrote: "Many adverts are tedious and/or irritating, a few are outstandingly brilliant. Some are 'nice and simple'". Not quite sure which category to assign this one to – probably somewhere between the latter two.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Another chicken video clip

Time for another video clip to demonstrate that our chickens are quite happy.
Click here to open the Dropbox link.

Solar eclipse

Excellent coverage of the solar eclipse on BBC One's Eclipse Live, with extensive reporting from Leicester and brilliant live images from a plane flying over the Faroe Islands.

Here is a somewhat less impressive, but nevertheless interesting image of my 'high-tech colander solarscope'...

Talking about colandar, a blog reader sent this feedback: "I like your colander picture. I was asking ... what the German for a colander was, but she couldn't think of a word. "Sieb" is too general. Do people actually say "Durchschlag" (found in dictionary)?"

My reply: "As it happens, I spoke to my brother on the phone a few minutes ago, and I too was struggling to find a German word for colander. Never heard of "Durchschlag" in this context. From my childhood I remember my mother and granny (bless her - see blog entry here) using "Seiher", which describes as [österr., südd.: Sieb]. Mmmm."

I subsequently came across "Sieb" in a Spiegel "Fotostrecke".

Preliminary conclusion: There doesn't appear to be a 'proper'/dedicated German word for colander. Can this be right?

Anyway, more solar eclipse pics from Leicester here and here.

And thanks to translator colleague Philip Slotkin for sending a link to Adalbert Stifter's fascinating description of the 1842 eclipse (in German).

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Richard III: The Return of the King

There is a degree of excitement building up in Leicester and Leicestershire, in the run-up to the  the final journey of King Richard III this Sunday.

I look forward to catching up with Sunday's events on Channel 4 from 5.10 pm.

See also First Person column in the Leicester Mercury under the heading "The world is watching. Let's put Leicester and our county on the map", and one from 'the man himself' (Richard Buckley, that is, not Richard III...).

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Pep up your porridge

Many adverts are tedious and/or irritating, a few are outstandingly brilliant. Some are 'nice and simple'. Here is an example from the latter category, seen on a bus shelter just down the road.

German words in English

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

Thursday, March 12, 2015

What is the point of Vodafone Wallet/SmartPass?

A few weeks ago I registered for Vodafone Wallet/SmartPass, as a result of which I received a disproportionately large electronic tag sticker for the phone.

In the meantime I'm beginning to wonder what the point of it is, in view of the fact that I can just as easily make contactless payments with my contactless-enabled debit card. In fact that's more convenient because, unlike with Vodafone Wallet/SmartPass, I don't have to bother topping up the account...

One of the benefits listed on the Vodafone website is: "There's no need to rummage around for cash or cards", but when I'm out, I invariably have my non-electronic wallet and payment card(s) with me anyway, so what is the point of Vodafone Wallet/SmartPass? Is there some added benefit I haven't discovered yet?

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

What fox hunters could learn from the Maasai Olympics

The other day I signed the petition to ban the Atherstone Hunt from accessing Market Bosworth Country Park, which reached more than 2200 signatures within just a few days. It is worth watching the alarming video clip on the petition page. This is the 'reason' I gave for signing the petition: "Fox hunting is a disgraceful 'sport' that isn't fit for the 21st century, just like other so-called sporting activities involving the killing of animals".

For background on The Hunting Act 2004 it is worth reading the Wikipedia page.

The excellent article published in The Conversation today under the heading What fox hunters could learn from the Maasai Olympics expresses similar sentiments. Quote: "Many people accept that their motivations to hunt are no longer appropriate in a modern society where food is easily available. Fishermen practice catch and release, and hunters can shoot clay pigeons".

Any similarities with the 'cover photo' in the Conversation article and the 'blast from the past' photo from my school days at KFG in Heidelberg are, of course, purely coincidental...

Monday, March 09, 2015

Facebook 'announcement'

Update August 2015:
In terms of personal Facebook involvement, the Facebook 'announcement' below still applies, but I'm pleased to report that HE Translations now has a company page on Facebook. How cool is that?

Just posted this 'status update' in my Facebook profile:

About to scale back my (rudimentary) 'Facebook involvement' again for various reasons, so won't see any notifications etc. for the time being.
Happy to receive updates on events, campaigns or 'personal stuff' via old-fashioned email.
Also happy to receive comments on my blog entries at (there is also a "Follow by email" option...)

Friday, March 06, 2015

What came first, the chicken or the egg?

Not sure why a fascinating article under the heading "What came first, the chicken or the egg? The definitive answer" of 26 May 2006 is reported as a news item in today's daily Guardian newsletter, but anyway, the answer is: It's the egg.

The Guardian reports that Prof. Brokfield refused to comment on the question whether the panel would be conducting other chicken-related enquiries, such as why did the chicken cross the road? On that note, see sign below, spotted the other day at the new Peter Pizzeria in Leicester.

While we are on the subject, I might as well report that our own chickens are going from strength to strength, as evidenced by a series of photos taken recently with our remote wildlife camera (in order to study the chickens' behaviour in the absence of humans...).

Thursday, March 05, 2015

James Ravilious - photographer of rural life

I have known Ben Ravilious, who runs Ultimateweb Ltd in Leicester, for some time through Leicester Civic Society, but I only recently became aware of this father, James Ravilious, who was an accomplished photographer.

Nice website at
There is a trailer option at to whet your appetite for the film (DVD) entitled James Ravilious - A world in photographs.

See also obituary in the Guardian (October 1999).

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Chaos at the Calais end of Eurotunnel on 22 Feb 2015

See details of 'interesting' Eurotunnel experience below for your 'entertainment'.

Not least in view of the acknowledgement that "at times it was difficult for you to obtain clear information from either our teams on duty, or our Terminal Customer Information Screens" (difficult indeed, at least for the first 3 hours or so...), I don't intend to make 'further fuss' on this occasion...

My message to Eurotunnel of 25 Feb 2015:
Dear Sir/Madam
No doubt you are aware that there was 'chaos' at Eurotunnel in Calais on Sunday evening, with the result that my return journey was delayed by no less than 6 hours overall. Obviously, the situation resulted in considerable inconvenience.

I was advised to write to regarding adequate compensation.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Kind regards

Herbert Eppel
Automated reply from Eurotunnel:

Dear Customer,
Thank you for contacting the Customer Relations team at Eurotunnel Le Shuttle.
We are always keen to receive the views of our customers, and the feedback we receive is important to help us improve our service to you.
All emails are responded to individually by a member of our team and it is helpful for them to have all relevant information in order to respond to you in full. If you have not included your booking reference number or, where applicable, your Frequent Traveller account number, please re-send your message with this information included. Please also be aware that we can only correspond with the named ticket holder.
Our aim is to send you a response within 28 working days. However, we have recently received a high volume of emails and this is preventing us from replying to emails as quickly as we would like. Please be assured that we will be in touch as soon as possible.
If you have already sent an email and received an automatic acknowledgement to your message, you will receive a response from us in due course.
For your reference, emails sent to this address are managed between 09.00 and 17.30, Monday to Friday (except Bank Holidays).
Kind regards
Eurotunnel Le Shuttle Customer Relations

Further reply from Eurotunnel of 4 March 2015:

Thank you for your email.

Firstly, please allow me to express how sorry I am to hear that you were affected by the delays to our Calais to Folkestone service when you travelled with us on the 22nd February; I am aware how inconvenient this delay would have been and how frustrating this is when you have made plans to travel at a specific time, only to face such a delay.

Under the circumstances, it does not seem fair that you should pay for this journey and I have arranged for a refund of the affected leg to be made to the card used for payment; this will appear back on your account within fourteen working days.

I am aware that due to the technical system failure we had experienced, at times it was difficult for you to obtain clear information from either our teams on duty, or our Terminal Customer Information Screens. An internal investigation is currently underway to establish the exact cause for this failure, and I would once again like to express my sincere apologies for the disruption you and your party faced. The system failure, together with the additional challenge of many customers arriving late due to the severe problems on the French motorways, meant that we faced an extremely challenging situation throughout Sunday evening and into the early hours of Monday morning.

Due to the number of contacts we have received, in order to ensure a prompt response to all customers, we are unable to comment specifically on all of the points you have raised in your e-mail; please rest assured however that your feedback will be used in our internal investigation.

I very much hope that when you next travel with Eurotunnel le Shuttle, our service lives up to the high standards you are entitled to expect from our service.

Kind regards,

Yves Szrama
Customer Experience Director