Tuesday, January 30, 2007

My eyes, my eyes!

One of our best eyes in the sky has gone to silicon heaven. The Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) on the Hubble Space Telescope has decided that it's had enough of taking photos of bits of the sky for us Astronomers to analyse (and for the general public to go "Ooh, isn't that pretty"), and has gone and broken itself - damn those lazy CCDs, you send them into space and ask them to do a perfectly reasonable job, but sooner or later they want out and just die on you without a word of warning.... It seems that there's no fix and that the people who's observing programs will have been cancelled are either buggered, or will have to wait around until the proposed camera upgrading shuttle mission next year. Depsite my grumbling about the camera it has provided a wealth of images and science over it's short 4ish year life. Hopefully people can make do with the two cameras that are still functioning - WFC2 and NICMOS.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Hammy's return

Top Gear returned to our screens this evening after a longer than normal break due to the injury of little Dicky Hammond. The show offered us its usual fair of fast cars and general piss-taking between the hosts. Most of the features in the show were filmed last year before the accident, and included them relaying a road in a day and driving around in a Jag. At the end of the programme we got shown footage of Hammond's crash. This involved him being essentially strapped onto a jet engine and then attempting to break the British land speed record. He actually made two attempts at this before the crash happened and we got to see him go through the fear and exhilaration of these two attempts. He even made, what would turn out to be, some rather prophetic statements. The final, and ultimately rather unfortunate, run was made because they had the airfield for another half hour. Despite the pretty extensive injuries he suffered Richard, thankfully, seems to be his usual self and was on top form in the show - all the best to him.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Two in a row

"We are in the fifth round. We are in the fifth round. Na naah naah na, na naah naah na!" My singing is due to Watford beating West Ham 1-0 to get through to the fifth round of the FA Cup. This gives us two wins in a row, a feat we've not achieved all season. We're on a roll! The next team to face us must be shaking in their boots ;) Obviously I was sorry today to see Luton Town go out of the competition to Blackburn.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Damn Burns!

This evening I get to give a speech at the University of Glasgow Astrosoc Burns Supper. The event as a whole is a meant as a tribute to the life and works of Scotland's most well loved bard, Robert Burns, who penned such classics as A Man's a Man For A' That , O, MyLuve is Like a Red, Red Rose, and the perennial Hogmanay favourite that no-one can ever remember the words to Auld Lang Syne. My part in this event is to give a toast to the Scots from all the non-Scots present. This generally will involve a massive slagging light hearted, and witty, ribbing of the Scots. At present I've not written the speech yet, but I have a basic idea around which it will hopefully naturally form - then there's always a bit of last minute improv which can be done. I do, however, have to live up to my now legendary speech from two years ago, when I loudly proclaimed "Damn Burns!" and launched into a tirade about him being so inconsiderate as to have gone and been born on a date which just so happened to clash with Watford playing in an FA Cup replay.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Are you sitting comfortably? Then let me begin...

Today I gave my first undergraduate astronomy lecture on Observational Methods - or telescopes and detectors as the majority of the course will be. The lecture style I have decided upon isn't quite the fully old school chalk and talk method (my writing-on-the-blackboard skills aren't well developed enough for that), but is fairly routed in non-digital technology by using overhead projector slides. These are supplemented with the standard array of handouts and a few nice pictures displayed, in a nod towards digital technology, via the medium of my laptop and a digital projector. The first lecture seemed to go fairly smoothly with no full on technological breakdowns, or student riots or walkouts. I was also there on time and didn't overrun - what more could you ask for? I'm not sure, however, if the students are too enamoured with the amount of writing they were expected to do. In the classic tone of "You don't know how lucky you are! In my day..." I should tell them that my, in my opinion, fairly sparse slides are nothing compared to the amount writing I did in some of my undergraduate courses - and I was bloody well grateful for it to! To be fair to the students I've not actually received this complaint, but it was more of a feeling I got. Given time their hands will get used to writing notes and they'll appreciate what good training I'm giving them when it comes to having to write lots in their exams ;) Also, as I'm kind at heart, I've posted the lectures on the web for the students to download, despite rather sternly telling them that I wouldn't do it until the course was finished as I didn't trust them to not just stop turning up at the lectures. Anyway giving the lecture was actually quite fun and hopefully the students might actually enjoy them! I'll have to think of some good off-topic anecdotes to tell them - "... and I saw this telescope and it was THIS big!"

Three points

I got the surprise of my life today when I opened up Mozilla and Footiefox showed a Watford win! We beat Blackburn 2-1. And I didn't even know we were playing last night. That's only our second win of the season and gives us a grand total of 15 points - still 7 points away from the safety of 17th in the league unfortunately!

Sunday, January 21, 2007


The final of the snooker Masters this evening saw a blinding display by Ronnie "The Rocket" O'Sullivan. Ronnie was playing the young, up-and-coming Chinese player Ding Junhui, who's had a great tournament so far. At the start of the match Ding set off very well taking the first two frames. Recently Ronnie has been one of the most unpredictable players around and you never know if he's just going to get frustrated with himself and fall to pieces. However today he was at his very best and was completely unstoppable when he got in the balls. He chalked up high break after high break. Up until today every time I've seen Ding play he's been unflappable and not shown any signs of pressure no matter what the situation. This time with Ronnie completely controlling the game, and an annoyingly vociferous crowd shouting out for Ronnie all the way through, Ding finally broke. With the game at 8 frames to 3 for Ronnie, Ding was completely dejected and walked out at the mid-session interval having to be consoled by the Rocket. Ronnie won it 10-3. Overall it was fantastic to watch Ronnie on his top form and when he plays like that you know that he's the best in the world.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

A day in the life

24 is back in a sixth series following a day in the life of, some time, CTU agent Jack Bauer. The first four episodes have been shown and were quickly downloaded in my flat. I won't give (m)any spoilers, but will just say that the format is the is the same as ever. The ever present torture aspect is still firmly there - I think they lasted about 20 mins into the first episode before any knives were stuck in places you wouldn't really want. As they've covered pretty much every aspect of terrorism in the previous seasons there's a very familiar feeling about the things happening at the start of this series, but it's still kept going along at a really fast pace and so maintains the excitement. I'm just wondering how many episodes the initial terrorist storyline will last into this series, until we find out the real situation and inevitable, completely different, uberplot that is always present. Bet's on as to who's the mole in CTU this time round!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


Today marked the 300th anniversary of the Scottish parliament voting for the Union between the Scottish and English parliaments. This has of course been greeted by debate (sure to continue up to this year's Scottish parliamentary elections) over the place of the union and whether the United Kingdom should break up with an independent Scotland (and indeed and independent England - in a lot of these debates Wales and Northern Ireland get a bit forgotten about, but then they are only small). There are three main areas where these debates tend to focus, and they are used to argue, by various parties (not only meaning political parties), both for and against independence: the political arguments e.g. self determination in all areas of government including taxation and defense, the West Lothian question; the economic arguments e.g. other small independent European nations have vibrant economies, businesses thrive with close links to the economic powerhouse of London; and the cultural arguments e.g. we diminish/enhance our identities through the union. I've just given a few examples of some of the areas which arise from the independence question and there are many more. Each of them is very complex with no simple answer or conclusion, so I'm just going to give a bit of opinion as to why I favour keeping the union rather than delving into any one particular argument.

I'm English and have lived in Scotland for over four years now, so I have some knowledge of what it's like to live in both countries. Before moving here I liked the idea of the union, just because I thought it was a nice notion, although I didn't have any real idea of the strength of the Scottish national identity or of the differences throughout Britain. On moving to Scotland I've enjoyed the fact that there is a distinct cultural identity here, however I've never felt like a foreigner (ok, except during the football!). I don't know if it's just the shared language that makes it this way, and maybe I'd feel the same in, say, France if I spoke French, or them English. Then again, I do feel like a foreigner in America, where they speak English. I think the main reason that I feel like I'm at home in Scotland is that the union's been around so long that the links and commonalities between the nations are actually rather ingrained, and comfortable. Sure there are difference and it's nice to celebrate these things, and to show them to others, but on another level there are (again in my opinion) far more similarities. So my main reason for the retaining of the union is still that I like the way it feels. I like the fact that England and Scotland and Wales and Northern Ireland are part of something bigger and that because of it they do have so many links and things in common. I suppose I'm arguing here that there is (in my experience) some sort of common British identity, which a lot of people don't like the idea of or get defensive about - maybe this is because they think it somehow dilutes or takes away from their narrower national (or regional) identity, or maybe it's just that they like being in a slightly more exclusive club, or maybe it's that they don't like the idea of a label or national identity at all, but I don't really know. I have to say that one aspect of the independence debate that I hate (and which thankfully you don't often hear) is one of racism, whereby the Scots, Welsh, Cornish are Celts and racially different that the Anglo Saxons and therefore are fundamentally different and should have independent (and maybe they're suggesting racially pure!) countries.

Anyway, these are the opinions of someone who's from England, or more specifically the South-East (London), so it would be interesting to hear other peoples views. Maybe you see the commonalities that I say run deep are actually the superficial things, whereas the differences are far more numerous and ingrained. Let's not get to divisive now though ;)

Back to the general starting point of this opinion piece:- The main thing I think that would be seen if independence were to happen is that a mixture of the pro and anti-independence predictions would be born out, with some benefits being seen as well as some loses (for both England and Scotland), plus some outcomes that no one expected - I know that's not a very insightful thing to say as it's pretty much stating the bloody obvious, but politicians tend to paint things as either one option or the other.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Let's play DARTS!

This evening saw the riveting final of the BDO World Darts Championship between world number 1, Martin "Wolfie" Adams, and rank outsider and house husband, Phil "Nixy" Nixon (not quite as original a nickname there for Phil!) I missed the first half of the match and when I started to watch Wolfie was up 6 sets to nil, requiring only one more set to be crowned Champion of the WORLD. "That's it, the match is over." I, and everyone else, thought, but boy were we wrong. Set after set I watched the dynamic comeback of the man from County Durham (that would be Nixy). His comeback was partly because Adams fell apart on the doubles and missed several opportunities to clinch the match. However it was a really gutsy performance as Nixy managed to pull the game back to 6-6 with the crowd getting more and more behind him. In the final set Adams managed to get back on his game and won the three legs required to take the title - although his anxious wife had had to leave the venue as she couldn't watch. That's it from Lakeside for another year, but I look forward to seeing the likes of the Count, Wolfie, the King, Johnboy, the Viking (get well soon Andy) and of course Bobby George next year.

Play the music

Tonight whilst doing a bit of air drumming (maybe the lowest form of air intrumentalism) I thought it would be good to learn another instrument. As such I've placed a bid on ebay for a cheap keyboard - the piano/keyboard seeming to be the gateway drug into other instruments. If I do get the keyboard, and learn to play it decently, it could be another weapon in our band, otherwise it could maybe just help me appreciate playing proper music slightly more - as a drummer you generally are just bashing out a beat rather than playing a tune! This might lead me to being a multi-instrumentalist like my fellow band member ellielabelle.

Update: I've now purchased the keyboard I bid for for the sum of £50. I should however realise that in the future I might be wise to not go on ebay very late at night after several beers - just in case I end up buying more things I don't really need.

Update: My keyboard arrived yesterday and looks pretty decent. It also came with a couple of learn-to-play-the-piano books, so I'll have to get started learning over the weekend. I didn't however get that great a deal for it, as I just found it could be bought brand new from GAK for only £59 - I still made a slight saving though and as I said I did get the books thrown in.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Everybody hurts

My body at the moment is in a fair bit of pain. This pain has been inflicted on me by throwing myself down the side of mountains on what's essentially a plank. I have bruised and battered knees, hips, elbows, wrists, coccyx (aka arse bone) and ribs and just about every muscle in between aches like buggery. But it was great fun! This is what happens when you spend three days snowboarding in the French Alps.

So on Wednesday of my trip to Geneva spacetimewaster and I got up at the ungodly hour of 6:30 in the morning in an attempt to get out to the ski resorts. Carrying our ski gear we headed to the bus station to see where the buses would take us. The weather was quite foggy, but wasn't too cold and looked like it would clear. At the bus station we were able to buy a combined ticket and skipass for the day. We had the option of either heading to Les Houches or Chamonix, and decided to start of at Les Houches as it would give us slightly longer on the slopes between being dropped off and picked up by the bus. The bus trip to Les Houches took us straight out of Switzerland, as Geneva is right on the border, and into France, and then up into the French Alps towards Mount Blanc. As we headed higher we got above the cloud cover and the weather cleared to give a really bright day. The view into the Alps was fantastic and the mountains started to surround us as we travelled further into them. After a drive of about one hour with Mount Blanc looming over us we got to Les Houches. We were then slightly shocked and a bit a anxious about our choice of ski resort. The rather warm weather had meant that this has been one of the worst winters for snow in the Alps, and the bottom of the slopes at Les Houches showed this up. There was hardly any snow at all. One of the skiing World Cup events was supposed to have been hosted there, but had had to be cancelled due to lack of snow, but there we were and we had to make the most of it. The only way was up.

We put on our ski gear and headed for the ski lift hoping that as we ascended the snow situation wouldn't look as bleak. Now I'm a complete beginner at snow boarding - I'd never done it or anything like it before - so at the bottom of the slope spacetimewaster tried giving me some pointers. Due to my novice state I wanted to head for the green beginners slope at the top of the mountain. This required heading up three sets of ski lifts, which in themselves are a bit of a challenge to get on and off for a beginner. When we got to the top of the mountain at just under 2000m in altitude the snow situation was looking a lot better, however I still had to make it the from the ski lift to the beginner slope, which was a couple of hundred metres away. Under spacetimewaster's (who is rather good at skiing) guidance I slid and fell, and slid and fell, and slid and fell my way over to it. In some points I managed to stay upright for metres at a time, although a large fraction of my bruises arose from this period. The beginners slope at this resort was very short, but was good practice for me to get going. My main challenge on this slope was getting back to the top on the ski lift which was a tow. With this you put the tow between your legs and it pulls you up the slope, which is harder for snowboarders than skiers. The look of exasperation on the guy who operated the thing after my seventh or so failed attempt to make it up the tow without falling over became quite amusing - I did attempt to apologise in French, with more and more conviction, several times. Finally, however, I got the hang of the thing - it's all about keeping your centre of balance over the middle of the board. The best thing about Les Houches was the views it gave over Mount Blanc - over lunch at the restaurant we had an absolutely fabulous and clear view of the mountain and all its glaciers. It's one of those views you wish you could see every day. The temperature was surprisingly warm as well and we had to strip off out outermost layer when having lunch. In terms of learning how to snowboard the day was pretty successful despite all the bruising. We left for the bus back to Geneva quite happy with our day. That night in Geneva we went for dinner at a, very popular, Chinese retaurant, which had the quickest table service I've ever seen - we were probably in and out of the place in about 25 mins! We then hung out with all Geneva's youthful posse's by going on the bumper cars at a fair set up in the town - out of all the rides there were actually three separate dodgems - the main difference being the type of music being blasted out of each!

The next day was also a ski trip. It again involved getting up stupidly early - which I was none to pleased with at the time. We decided to take the bus slightly further into Chamonix this time - Chamonix having several different ski resorts to go to. As I was still fairly novice at the whole sliding down snowy slopes thing we decided to go to Flegere which had a couple of green (aka beginner) runs. Arriving at Flegere (after going up the cable car) we found a lot more snow than we'd seen the previous day at Les Houches. We also found that the green slope was actually quite a challenge. It started off with a narrow and fairly steep winding path, which for the beginner is very daunting. This lead onto a good wide slope, which enabled me to experiment with my turning skills, and was a lot of fun to go down. I still had a lot of falling over, but it was accompanied by an increase in confidence and ability - I also got a lot better at handling the ski lift. The day again had impressively nice weather affording nice views of Mount Blanc (from a different angle this time). That night I went to bed with racing down the slopes dominating my mind.

I'd though that two days of snowboarding could well have done me in - indeed it had left me battered and bruised - but I still was having enough fun to subject myself to a third morning of the early start. We were getting to know the staff at the bus station by now and also recgonised some of the other ski enthusiasts who had been on the bus the last couple of days. As it had been good to us the day before we decided to go back to Chamonix and Flegere for another go. This allowed me to improve a bit more and add in some toe edge to heel edge, and back, turns to my repertoire. It was great fun again and involved slightly less (proportionally) falling down - I did, however, manage to take a skier out by ploughing straight into them and wind myself (adding bruised ribs to my injuries). There had also been a fresh fall of snow the night before, which helped turning on the board and also in breaking falls. I managed to get down and learn the main green slope pretty well (although still without fail stacked-it at the bottom).

Overall I really enjoyed my Alpine snowboarding experience and would love to do it again. This might have to be substituted by some dry ski slopes, or if possible some actually proper snow in Scotland!

Heidi hi

I'm now back from my first proper holiday away in ages. I've been on lots of trips for work over the last few years, but very few have actually involved taking much time out to for non-work related activities. This trip away was different as it was entirely non-work related and the plan was to just have fun (I only checked my work emails twice in a whole five days!) So sit back and relax as I regale you with what I got up to in Switzerland - this could be a long post (or I might split it into two).

Last Sunday, along with spacetimewaster, I set off for Geneva. We were going to be staying with our friend Helen, who has a flat in Geneva as she's working at CERN at the moment. This meant that we had free accommodation, and along with our cheap easyJet flights, would mean we didn't spend too much overall. The free accommodation had a downside though - the flat was a studio flat and as such had very little space to accommodate two guests, but we made do. Upon arriving in Geneva we made our way across the city to the old town where we were going to be staying. By the time we'd dropped of our stuff it was getting quite late, but as we'd not eaten yet we headed out into the city centre for some food. We'd been promised some Fondue as our first meal, but the fondue restaurant we tried was closed. Finding the next closest eatery I had some flammenkueche which at the time of ordering I didn't really know what it was. It turned out to be a sort of pizza with a creamy, rather than tomato, sauce, and was quite nice. In the restaurant I also had my first opportunity to test out some of my rusty GCSE level french - I asked for a beer.

After dinner we returned to the flat to sort out sleeping arrangements. I took the two seater sofa, whilst spacetimewaster took the floor. It wasn't the most comfortable of situations, but was manageable, and as I said, it was free.

The next day we planned a bit of sightseeing around the city. To start off with we tried a local bakery to get some breakfast, but this was closed - a fact we'd see quite often that day - apparently after an exhausting Sunday of being closed, many shops decide to stay closed on the Monday to! We did find ourselves a Pattiserie to serve our needs after a short walk around though. The weather on Monday wasn't great with a dull start and a fair bit of rain in the air, but we headed out hoping things would clear. Our first stop was a local park which contained several huge chess and draughts boards. Here spacetimewaster and I had an epic draughts encounter, which he won by a slim (well ok maybe it wasn't that slim) a margin. This lead to us getting slightly damp in the rain, but we carried on with our tour of the town. Our next stop took us to the Jet d'eau, a huge fountain on in Lake Geneva that can reach height of nearly 150 m. You can walk out along a jeti up to, and passed, the fountain, so we went along it to get a closer view of the rather impressive jet. The wind determines where most of the water from the fountain lands and when we walked past most of it was directed into the lake, but a strong spray still cover the jeti, meaning we added to our wetness from the rain by running under the spray. After lunch we decided that a boat trip on the lake would be a nice relaxing afternoon past-time. The boat was quite large and at the ticket office we were told that they needed at least 15 people onboard or it wouldn't sail - this being a Monday Geneva was dead and there were only the three of us and another couple waiting for the boat. The time it was supposed to sail passed and still no-one else turned up... until after about 10 mins a small family of four arrived. Despite there only bing nine people in total the boat's crew took pity on us (and our pleading faces) and said they'd do the trip. We then had a pleasant hour long boat ride across Lake Geneva taking in some of the sights along the shore of the lake. For dinner that night our plan was again for fondue. The strange Monday opening hours again scuppered our plans and instead we went to a restaurant in the Old Town that specialised in chicken - and when I say specialised I mean they only did chicken dishes - but it was very good. We then stopped of for a drink in a nice little cafe called the Demi Lune Cafe.

On Tuesday things around town seemed a little more lively and everything was open. spacetimewaster and I were left to our own devises in the morning and spent the time visiting the Cathedral to got up it's tower. This gave some good views of the city, although I have to say that the Cathedral wasn't one of the most impressive I've seen. The Cathedral did have some interesting history behind it, due to Geneva being one of the hotbeds of the Reformation and the Cathedral being the church adopted by the leading reformer John Calvin. After our dip into Christian history we went for a general wander and came across, in particular, a cool little shop selling antique scientific equipment like telescopes, microscopes, medical tools etc. All the stuff in there was great and if I had the money and the space I'd have loved to have bought it all. One of our plans for the trip was to try a bit of skiing, so later that afternoon we went along to a ski hire shop. Wanting to look cool and all I opted for hiring a snowboard rather than skis.

That evening we did our first winter sport and went on the outdoor ice rink in Geneva. It wasn't too busy so we got fairly free reign of it. There were a few attempts at going backwards, although I've not really mastered the art yet, and one fall. After two days of missed attempts we finally got to have our fondue. It was melted cheese and bread galore! The fondue was really good and is definitely a nice food experience as the whole ripping up bread and dipping it into cheese on a big fork adds something to the event. That night we went to bed with the prospect of an early morning start to head out to the slopes for a days skiing. I'll get onto that in my next post...

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Over the Alps

This afternoon I'm heading off for a short holiday out in Geneva. There should be a bit of skiing/snow boarding, a bit of ice skating, a trip to CERN, and probably some fondue. This means I'll have a short break from blogging, but will tell people of my travels when I return - the tales will probably involve cheese, chocolate, pocket knives and cuckoo clocks and other stereotypically Swiss items.

Into the fourth round

Watford came back from a goal down to put in a 4-1 win over Stockport in the third round of the FA Cup. It nice to see us put in a few goals for once and it's something I'd like to see us reproduce in the league - unfortunately most Premiership teams are a bit harder to score against that teams from the mid-table of League 2. The draw to see who we'll be taking on in the next round is tomorrow. I'm hoping for another lower league team to try and give us a decent cup run as it's pretty much a certainty that we'll be relegated at the end of the season.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Bring out the white paint

The inevitable has finally happened. England have lost the Ashes to Australia in a 5-0 whitewash for the first time since the 1920-21 Ashes. After a very poor start in the first two tests by England, there was about a day of hope garnered from some decent performances in the third test, which England then went on to manage to lose. The fourth test we managed to lose by a whole innings! And the fifth test... well what was the point really! Obviously the Australians deserve a lot of praise and respect as they're bloody good at the game. With some of their oldest, and best, players retiring after this tournament they had a bit of a point to prove. Still I'd have hoped we'd have managed at least one draw! I think the enthusiasm about English cricket generated after the 2005 Ashes win has all but ebbed away now. I very much doubt any of our players will be in line for BBC Sports Personality of the year come December.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Global (in)significance

I set myself up a technorati account so I can now see where my blog places in the overall scheme of things - there's a link to this in my sidebar. For those not in the know technorati is a sort of search engine for blogs (making use of things like the Google blog search). As with most search engines it can sort things via how many links there are to a blog from other blogs - this allows you to rank your blog. I'm currently ranked at number 725841 in the worldwide blog league table, but I want to do better damn it ;) You can help me out by linking to me in your very own blogs!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Shoe day

Now I know many girls revel in buying shoes, but not being a girl I have a generally different attitude towards this activity. However I do need shoes and therefore do occasionally have to shop for them. Today was my annual shoe day (and when I talk of shoes I'm really only referring to trainers).

I find the January sales are often a good time to buy shoes, so I ventured out around some of Glasgow's various shoe emporiums. The first place I went was Foot Locker. I wasn't too impressed by them. The ground floor of the shop seemed mainly concerned with selling clothes and a selection of their most expensive shoes, which was not what I was looking for. The selection of shoes in the sale were hidden away upstairs and as such I couldn't even be bothered to look at them - I just assumed that there wouldn't be any real bargains. Next I tried out the Original Shoe Co.. Again this shop seemed to be saturating its foyer with clothing rather than the footy items I wanted. I was mainly after a new pair of running shoes to replace my very scaggy and holey old pair. This shop had a quite decent selection of more casual trainers, but was completely lacking in running shoes. I left disappointed and empty handed. Immediately next door I came to Schuh. Now Schuh seemed to be only interested in selling shoes, rather than clothing, which was a good start. They also had the best selection of shoes, although again it was generally the casual trainer rather than the running shoe. I made notes of some of nicer pieces of footwear, but again left in search of the running shoe.

I've known this from previous experience and therefore should have probably ordered my shop search slightly differently, but the best places for a good trainer bargain during the sales are actually the sports stores. So I went into a large JJB Sports and low and behold my running shoe needs were amply fulfilled. There were a very decent selection of sales offers with 30%-50% off normal price. I was quickly served by a cheerful assistant and I went away with fairly decent pair of Adidas trainers.

Having found the cheap sale item I was after I went back to Schuh for to treat myself to something nicer. I was pounced on by several sales staff who seemed to be outnumbering the customers by a high proportion. After fending off the first few advances whilst I had a bit more of a look about my eyes settled on a pair of New Balance trainers. I did the usual short walkabout in them and decided to take them. That ended my yearly shop for shoes.

From the length and content of this post it may sound like I actually enjoyed this shopping experience, but I must insist that that's not the case. I would much prefer to have walked into the first shop and found two reasonably priced and nice trainers and then been done with it. I'll leave the joy of the shoe shopping experience to the girls.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Party time

Hello 2007, nice to make your acquaintance!

This year started off as usual. I was drunk!

New year's eve (or Hogmanay as my Scottish brethren call it) was a top night this year. It was my least planned venture for some time, but everything fell into place come the night despite the weather's best efforts to try and ruin everyones evenings. After a very damp and cold walk into the west end the warmth and dryness of Curler's offered the opportunity for a pint - and to dry off slightly. This was followed by another wet walk down to Balbirs for a curry with several friends including jakeybob and ellielabelle. This is a fairly new Indian restaurant in Glasgow's west end and is tucked away slightly off the main roads. It's a nice place though and is huge on the inside with hundreds of staff to deal with your every whim. The food was very good to.

I then benefited from a friends misfortune of being ill by nabbing his ticket to the festivities on Ashton Lane. After drinks in three of the bars we ventured briefly outside to celebrate the actual coming of the new year (the bells as these Scots call it). Last year in Ashton Lane this was marked by I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles) by the Proclaimers but not so this year, and things were actually fairly subdued - probably down to the weather and the fact that everyone seems to have a cold at the moment.

I then got a lift up to jakeybob and ellielabelle's flat where a poker session was underway. This carried on for many hours until about 8am and was accompanied by a lot more drinking. All-in-all it was a great evening and totally unexpected at that.

Unfortunately it's now the end of the holiday's and work beckons tomorrow. Well I say it's the end of the holidays, but in fact I'm away for a week in Geneva this coming Sunday.