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since 08/01/2002


Casio G-Shock Chronograph Watch G-1000-1AER 30/07/2010

Watch Tells Time. Man Takes Credit

Casio G-Shock Chronograph Watch G-1000-1AER When it comes to watches, I'm a bit like King Henry VIII. Only instead of Divorced, Beheaded, Died, Divorced, Beheaded, Survived, my mnemonic watch history is more Lost, Broken, Broken, Broken, In a Draw, Broken, Lost, Broken, Broken. One constant there has been with my wrist furniture is that they have all, always, been a Casio. I hadn't planned it this way, but my Casio CV goes back to the days before the iPod where people became brand-centric, it just seems that the only watch company who manufactures watches I like at a price I'm willing to pay are made by a company that used to be better known for their calculators than their time-keepers. I had the Casio Data Bank back in School - the calculator watch that merged Casio's two best interests - the watch that ended it's life in a draw as they were ultimately banned by grumpy teachers who thought they would be used for cheating by sneaky kids - sadly, I would never had taken this opportunity, as I couldn't work out how to use it properly. To my most recent purchase - the Casio 5034 or G1000D depending on who you ask, but for what most people would be known as a member of the G Shock family. Designed to be proper-strong watches I'm supposedly entering a relationship with a watch that may be 'till death us do part', since I'm not planning on taking many more mathematics exams, and this watch won't do sums, but it is "Shock Resistant". To be fair, the watch didn't flinch an inch when I told it that it's ...

Tavira, Algarve, Portugal 27/06/2010

Pampered President Demands Milk

Tavira, Algarve, Portugal When an Elephant puts his trunk on his head, It's because he wants to be fed another mango that you've been sold by the cunning local, and he knows you'll have to buy more as you didn't learn the Elephant phrase for “all gone” When an Orang-utan turns his back to the crowd of tourists, it's because he wants to eat his banana in peace, and disappointed Russian people will leave. When a Chinese stranger approaches you in Beijing and offers to show you his art, he is not speaking metaphorically, it's because he has done some art and wants to show it to you. I like to learn new things, and have new experiences. My most recent journey ended up being no different, even if I hadn't been expecting so much before I left for our week in a Villa in Tavira, on Portugal's Algarve. When a 3 month old baby pulls a funny face, and his legs go all stiff and straight, it's because he's having a poo, and a smelly nappy change will ensue. Clearly, we weren't alone in our 4 bedroom private residence – occupying the other rooms were my wife's parents, sister, her husband and their 2 young children. The proverbial in-laws. Fortunately, I'm a modern man, and our relationship is a good one, so there'll be no Les Dawson impressions from me, Duck. Tavira is a 45 minute journey from Faro Airport along the recently built A22 motorway, at 120kph, with no traffic and the satisfaction that you have chosen the quickest route from the airport, and the holiday can begin. You could ...

World Cup 2010 17/06/2010

Everybody's Free (To Watch The World Cup)

World Cup 2010 Ladies and Gentlemen of the class of 2010 If I could offer you only one tip for the future, World Cup Football would be it. The long term benefits of World Cup Football have been proved by knowledgeable Bookmakers whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience...I will dispense this advice now. Enjoy the power and beauty of Emile Heskey; oh nevermind; you will not understand the power and beauty of Emile Heskey until he has faded. But trust me, in 20 years you'll look back at photos of Emile Heskey and recall in a way you can't grasp now how much possibility lay before Emile Heskey and how fabulous he really looked... ...Wayne Rooney is not as fat as you imagine. Don't worry about the Goalkeeper; or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to save a toe poke by bending down slightly too late. The real troubles in your Goalkeeper's life are apt to be things like never catching a cross that turned out to be a shot; the kind that blindside you at 4pm on some idle Wednesday, like Spain. Do one thing everyday that scares John Terry. Sing. Don't be reckless with other people's Cheap Supermarket Car Flags, don't put up with people who are reckless with yours. Pass. Don't waste your time on North Korea; sometimes They're ahead, sometimes They're armed with rusty nuclear weapons... The game is long, and in the end, it's only with Renta-Chinaman Supporter being told when ...

HTC Desire 31/05/2010

Queen Meets Dragon. Dragon Says No. Queen Soon Leaves.

HTC Desire The Queen has two birthdays. One her actual birthday, the other because of a significant date in the year. I like the sound of this philosophy, so I have deemed my phone upgrade day as a second birthday, because you can go out and get something new for sort-of free. I know it's not actually free, because I pay monthly, just like the Queen does for contracts of a different sort, it's just that mine is £35 per month and the Queen's is at least £15000 per year. My most recent celebrations resulted in me coming home with a HTC Desire Smartphone - I was happy with the T-Mobile G1 that had been my companion for the previous year, with it's big, clunky keyboard for my clumsy digits to paw at, but the time had come for me to reclaim some pocket space and go for a more stream-lined design. HTC are trying very hard, I was informed by a somewhat over-zealous sales child, at replacing the Apple iPhone as the commuter's first choice of travelling buddy, and this particular phone is the mostest new and posh. The Desire runs with a 1Ghz Snapdragon processor, which is more megagiggleboots more than any other smartphone processor on the market, but whilst it's capable of most things, it will not breathe fire, live by the sea nor look pretty in your garden, which was a shame for me, and difficult for the salesman to overcome so he moved on to talking about the touch screen. We both agreed, it was a very large screen indeed. The admiration of the screen didn't end with the ...

Sharm El Sheikh (Egypt) 17/05/2010

Funky Monk Seeks Soul Of Party. No Time Waters. Some Russians.

Sharm El Sheikh (Egypt) We found ourselves amongst a psyched up mob at the boarding gates of London Luton airport, waiting to board the 6-seater/unlimited-standing bus and watching our fellow travellers exhibiting all the tactical posturing rituals that are now employed when you are in the final moments before the every-man-woman-pensioner-corpse-and-child-for-the mselves scramble across the Tarmac and up the staircase and into the seats of the inevitable Easyjet flight. The usual silent inner-monologue-bickering simmered but never boiled, and everyone took their seats, safe in the knowledge that this is an Easyjet aeroplane, and they're cheap, so the flights are short, and they'd all be going their separate ways in safety pretty soon. This time though, and I'm not making this up, about half of the passengers audibly groaned when they seemingly discovered, thanks to the anxious-looking cabin crew, that this time, they were having you survive an exposure to Orange for 5 hours. It takes 5 Hours to get to Egypt, because Egypt is in Africa, don't you know? They didn't. I actually enjoyed the flight, as my personal pet hate on flights is when the dwarf in the seat ahead of me reclines to the fullest and most unnecessary of degrees. Sit up straight man! We are not going to the moon! Is something I've never said out loud. Easyjet resolve this issue ingeniously by welding the seats in one position. "Hinges are clearly more costly, sell them on ebay. But we'll leave the buttons in ...

PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) 20/03/2010

Teenage Mutants, Napoleon Turtles

PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) Three Divers are on board a boat, One diver is a complete beginner, one is a BSAC diver, and there's one PADI diver. The boat hits some rocks and rapidly begins to sink, so the three men start to debate the best route out of their situation. The complete beginner wants to dump all of his gear, and swim to the shore. The BSAC diver wants to put on all his kit, except his weight belt and amble in inflated safety across the surface, without forfeiting any of his precious, costly equipment. The PADI diver ask the other two for £20 each and starts a briefing for a Wreck Dive. Back in the late 1990s, when the Film Titanic was rapidly taking over the world, I qualified as a BSAC Sport Diver, which in English meant I was deemed competent enough to be allowed to dive to a maximum depth of 50 metres, but this came only after I had completed several hours of classroom theory, swimming pool practise sessions, and shallow 6 to 10 metre dives, under the watchful eye of several bearded men with big watches. I was 16 when I first qualified as a novice and 18 when I turned Sport, and dived fairly regularly for the next 5 years, dutifully paying my annual membership to the British Sub-Aqua Club, annual subscription to the local Dive School, and all the other costs that come with most extreme sports pursuits, like beer and pies and extraneous carabiners. The costs, and the bitterly cold water that we're blessed with in the U.K. - The River Ouse numbed my gums once – ...

Edinburgh in general 28/01/2010

Don't Mention The Kilt

Edinburgh in general Whilst discussing the recent inclemency of the weather with my pint-sized nan, I recalled a story to her about being sat on a Pallet and taken to Primary School by being dragged behind a lemon yellow Land Rover that wound its way through my snowbound village picking up kids along the way. She insisted that this must have been during the big snowfall of 1964, even though my dad would have only been 13 years old himself back then. This conversation, and nothing else, inspired me to go a bit Danny Wallace and book a last minute weekend trip to Edinburgh, all the way in Scotland which I'm recently reliably informed is actually firmly ensconced in the year 2010, but is still a city that probably won't be ready until about 2011, if you're planning on anything other than walking, such is the supposed blight of current central road works to install a tram network, and was the sole topic of conversation for the 20 minute taxi-hop from airport to our Hotel on George Street, which was helpfully called The George Hotel. Upsetting for Zippy, but easy to remember after a night on the tiles. There were roadworks, but no cars to be jammed so we didn't really notice any inconveniences. Edinburgh City Centre is a relatively easy place to navigate around, especially when your hotel is right in the middle of town - I could tell it was the middle because there was a building that looked like it used to be a courthouse but is now a Wine Bar and a Hard Rock Café directly across the ...

A-Z for Members Challenges 29/12/2009

Alphabetical Metaphorical Management

A-Z for Members Challenges A is for Alphabet. All managers should really know their Manager Alphabet, especially if they're School Managers, or an in Printing Manager. If they're in neither of these things, then here is a handy guide to the other letters in that Alphabet. NB. Not applicable in Greek Management. B is for Bravery for Breakfast. Not eating the one-hit Warblers on toast, for this would lead to your imprisonment within the Hospital of Mental Interest, but by being unafraid enough to stand out from the crowd, not by being the irritating one making a lot of noise, but by being the one stood at the front. To be original and outstanding you must be brave and it is always better to fail in originality than it is to succeed in imitation. Just ask Timmy Wholefinger. C is for Communication Like, get down with the lingo in the staff canteen, but make sure you're communicating as much with those who are above you as with those who are below. This is easier to achieve if you carry around a small set of step ladders, or feel comfortable in different social and professional situations, and can judge when and when not to unveil your impression of the CEO. Communication skills are one of those life skills that can be continually improved through practice and whilst great communication alone doesn't make a great manager, it helps to keep the team motivated and the Board involved. D is for Discipline Discipline is not just to be metered out to the unruly late ...

T-Mobile G1 07/12/2009

The Dry And Crooked Fingers

T-Mobile G1 My job often takes me on a combination of Up in the air wobbling on the DLR at Canary Wharf to Underground Tubing at Bishopsgate, to confusing station layouts at Hammersmith, which are all places in London where to be served at a wine bar you first have to place down your shiny App-filled Iphone or your flashy-blinky Blackberry, with its permanent chirping off other Blackberry users never, ever leaving you alone. Some of my colleagues like wine, so they have conformed to the required codes and invested in either of the above. I’ve played with both, and whilst my fingers like the Iphone, the Iphone doesn’t like my fingers and we will never really get along until the screen gets less facetious. And the Blackberry is too work-like for me to be able to choose to ignore emails and it ringing and stuff, so I didn’t want one of those either. This left me spurned by barmen, and reading the Metro newspaper from cover to cover until my cosseted research resulted in me taking a delivery of a T-Mobile G1, or HTC G1, or Google Phone, depending on where you look online. In the UK, they are only available with the T-mobile network, which was handy for me, as I’ve been with T-mobile since the days when O2 were One2One, and I’m something of a creature of habit. It also means I can pull faces in the T-mobile shop and say things like “I’ve been with you for years, don’t make me go to another network now” Or “But I don’t want to change my contract, just my ...

Sky + (Plus) 20/11/2009

Green Switches and Purple Wizards

Sky + (Plus) When it comes to technology, it is generally accepted by my local community that I'm not very good. I do try, but if I'm using your computer I'll probably break it. If we're talking on the phone I'll probably cut you off and have to lie to you about going through fictional tunnels. Even when we both know I'm using the home phone, and if you ask me to use any of the functions on my mobile phone at any sort of pace, I'll get a bit cross with you. I'm alright with the television though. It's a box of fun with only a few numbers to press to make things happen in front of me. Nice and easy, although when I stepped up to Freeview, it took me weeks to accept that anything on any of the other channels would be worth watching, and I'm still not too sure about Channel 5 even after all these years. So you can imagine how recently, my world was turned upside down when two men with tattoos, wearing neon vests and carrying a box and a drill arrived at my door. They made a bit of a mess and drank some tea, poked about a bit with some wires, handed me a great big remote control covered in colourful and luxurious buttons and left cheerfully, having made my television go all space aged and weird. I sat down, and having spurned the offer of a tutorial from the vested men on the basis that I'm a man, so I should already know how these things work, and quickly found I had to set about learning a whole new language. The language according to Sky, replacing the previously ...

Sigiriya (Sri Lanka) 11/11/2009

When Biscuits Given As Tips, Success Is Variable

Sigiriya (Sri Lanka) Did you ever wonder if there was a scale of importance when it comes to where you keep your history? With 'Overheard History' somewhere near the bottom, those hearts carved in trees by 70's teenage lovers somewhere around the middle and 'Written History' way up top, I knew from the fourth time I was told of Sri Lanka's 2300 unbroken years of 'Written History' that when I got home the first thing I'd be doing is getting all my history together and writing it down. We'd had three full days of lying down and sitting up and turning over and lying down again so we were ready to explore some of the sights that 2300 years of written history can offer, and at 5am we were loaded along with another couple and a packed lunch into the back of a minibus that was to be our home for a hitherto vague amount of hours being rumoured at anywhere between four and six amongst everyone, including the driver, to get to our hotel near Polonnaruwa in the middle of the country, the first stop of our 3 day sensory packed tour of this Island formerly known as Ceylon in some history written fairly recently. We left from Wadduwa in the south and passed through the outer zones of Colombo as the hours in the back of the bus racked up and the city and towns quickly became the odd village amongst farmland and rainforest, and just after midday we arrived at the obscure Sigiriya Rock, shaped a bit like a giant Wrekin with the sides chopped off for those who know Shropshire. It was seven hours ...

General: Sri Lanka 06/11/2009

Nine Lives Of Matthew Hoggard And Other Revelations.

General: Sri Lanka I'm currently as inoculated as I've ever been against all manner of disease through a series of Honeymoon injections administered in May this year, and not wanting to waste this fact on our next holiday, we scoured the malaria and rabies world hotspots, with special points awarded for a high stray dog count and any sort of lackadaisical approach to locking up cows championed, especially around busy village roads. We seriously considered Kerala in India but the flight connections were beyond horrendous before we eventually settled on Sri Lanka, the fact an actual proper war had only recently ended didn't deter us tells you just how bad the flights to Kerala really were. Anyone heading to Sri Lanka, an island off the southern tip of India known as "the teardrop" or "the pearl" depending on who you ask, will undoubtedly have to encounter a naysayer or two condemning your jaunt as certainly doomed to mother nature's natural fury in one way or another, and you explain politely that The Tsunami was years ago and life is returning to its former confidence amongst tourists, with the two-week prices being amazingly reasonable for 4 or 5 star All Inclusive holidays available in October from £700 each and raising as the season gets going, we confirmed our arrangements through Tripadvisor favourite Mercury Direct and all was happy in the world. 48 hours before we departed, the Samoan Islands, which are far away, sunny and beach-like, were hit by a Tsunami, and all the naysayers ...

RAC 28/08/2009

Stakes and Madders

RAC There was a story told by older boys when I was a younger boy about The Snake Pass, or to give it a more exciting moniker, the A57, which was a road that left from our village on the Cheshire/Derbyshire borders and took you over the moors of the High and Dark Peaks and over into the mysterious world they called “Meadowhall.” Hold a torch under your chin and join in. A Husband and Wife were driving at night time on the Snakes Pass, through mist and low cloud. Their car breaks down, and steam pours from under the bonnet, so the dutiful husband tells his wife to stay in the car, and lock the doors whilst he headed off into the pitch darkness to get help from the house whose lights were twinkling in the distance. Several hours pass and the wife is beginning to get worried as the rain is lashing down and the car still won’t start. In the rear view mirror, she can see a shadow in the back window, which is quickly followed by a Tap….Tap…. Tap on the glass. She turns around hoping to se her husband, but there’s nobody there, so she unlocks the doors to let him in and out of the rain when there’s another, louder TAP! TAP! TAP! on the roof of the car. In the dark and through the rain-washed windscreen, she struggled to see the figure who stood in front of her car, but she knew one thing. The figure was holding a stake………..and on the end of the stake……..was her husband’s severed head. Muahahaahaaa…. I didn’t pass my driving test until I was 24, but I was a nailed on ...

SEAT Ibiza 1.4 16v 31/07/2009

Imperial Finger Raves Darling

SEAT Ibiza 1.4 16v In June of this year, after a prolonged run of the RAC delivering me home from work via the hard shoulder of the M25, and once being towed for a mightily useful 30 feet by the Velvety Hi-Vis adorned Traffic Wombles before they stopped and left me stranded on the M4, I’d had enough. I was in the market for some wheels. Some proper whips dude. I was going to buy a car. Actually buy an actual car. Of my own. It’s the nearest sensation to feeling like an excited child without risking misunderstanding peasants with pitchforks. Luckily for me, the entire banking system had collapsed across the globe, and as a way of an apology for the inconvenience, the not-so Alistair Darling offered to give me £2000 for my bucket of nuts, so long as I bought a shiny spanky new new car. After careful deliberation and driving lots of different makes and models of cars that were way out of my price range, I set my budget at £7000 and suddenly came over all sensible and rather than get a very basic brand new and possibly Korean car, I’d get a better specification, and probably electric windows if I bought a 3 year old car instead, forfeiting the £2000 discount but saving about £5000 on the same brand new versions. In my price range were Vauxhall Astra’s, Ford Fiesta’s and Focuseseses, and other ones, that I didn’t like much. What did I buy? I bought a 5-door 2006 Seat Ibiza 1.4.SE DAB. There are some numbers and letters there that the friendly car salesman kindly explained to the ...

Sepilok Rehabilitation Centre 21/07/2009

In the Jungle. The Neon Jungle.

Sepilok Rehabilitation Centre Back in England, one week before our wedding and impending subsequent departure to the other side of the world, I decided somewhat foolishly you might think, to carefully read some of the literature sent by Kuoni, our Tour Operator, about the items we should take with us and the health requirements when we visit the Sepilok Orang-utan Sanctuary in the Sabah region of Borneo. I already knew intimately well about the extra costs of the recommended injections, we’d been regular visitors to GP clinics to receive our Hepatitis A and B, Tetanus booster, and Typhoid jabs – some of these injections clearly being so complicated that the scientists haven’t figure out how to put them into just one dose, so you have to keep going back over a 3 week period whilst a nurse stabs needles in you. On one long and despondent day, I left with two small holes in my left arm and two in my right. Driving home is challenging when your arms refuse to lift over 45 degrees away from your torso. These injections were nothing however. Literally nothing. My National Insurance contributions over the years had supported the NHS sufficiently well for them to feel generous enough to not charge me for the privilege of being a human pin cushion. 10 gratis injections in 3 weeks, all courtesy of 1950’s MP Nye Bevan. Sadly for my battered Maestro card, the NHS point blank refuses to stump up for the Rabies course, and these three injections would involve an extra expenditure of £70 each. That’s £70 ...
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