London to Brighton vintage car run 2011

A lampIt is the weekend of the London to Brighton vintage car run (#LBVCR) and as is traditional Helen and I are participating with a good friend Rory, who has a 1903 Humberette. I went over on Saturday to buff up the brass and polish the paint work before loading the car on to the trailer and securing it for the journey to Hyde Park on the Sunday. As usual Rory & Rob were bickering over the lack of preparation on Rory’s behalf and the right way to do things.

We were in bed by 20:00 because we had to be round Rory’s at 05:00 to leave. Helen was up and 04:00 and I surfaced at 04:35 and we made it to Rory’s by 05:00. Whilst sorting out stuff at home we got a call from Helens mum she had decided to cadge a lift to near Brighton to visit a relative. We picked up Helen’s mum of the way after leaving only 5 minutes after the planned time. Strangely we ended up in front of the others despite not having overtaken them, turns out that had also picked someone up on the way. I let them overtake and followed them down to Hyde Park.

Fast carParking is never a problem at that time of the morning and we were soon over by the Serpentine, watching the pigeons lying round in a large flock. As predicted we were there far earlier than we needed to be, it was 06:15 and we had a 07:20 start so we went to the cafe that was doing a roaring trade and relaxed for a while. Back out at the start queue we chatted and took a few pictures then the 6 minute warning sign came round, the driver struggled to get the car started again  but a small drop of magic juice from a very old bottle with a nozzle seemed to do the trick, I didn’t ask what was in it sometimes it is best not to know.

We hurried back to may car and joined the 50 mile traffic jam to Brighton Madeira drive. It did not take too long to catch up with the old crock, I think it was around Purley. When we got to Streatham we had to be diverted off the usual route because the police had cordoned off the high street. Not a problem for my car but it involved a hill so some of the old crocks were slowed significantly. The Humberette just a about made it. Around Croydon we did a passenger change then we stopped again for a coffee and a swap over at around Merstham.

We were now into the usual routine and plodded on down to Crawley for the official coffee stop, where we all met up at the White Hart, for a beer. Rory had managed to upset a local taxi driver by nipping into a free parking space that the taxi driver had been waiting for. Even worse was to come as when we left Mark left his car in Crawley but not before swapping spaces with Rory’s car and again upsetting the locals. The traffic normally gets worse as you leave Crawley and everyone is now up and about, this year was no exception.

Vintage mobile phone userThe weather was holding out, i.e. it was not raining, but it was overcast so not really ideal for taking photo’s, never the less I had a go at the technique where you set a long shutter speak 30th/60th and follow the motion of a car in the hope of getting a blurred back ground and static subject, essentially giving the picture a sense of speed. You can see the best shot in the post.

We passed Pease Pottage, which I only mention because of the strange sounding name. Then we we over the big hills without a fuss. We dropped off Helen’s mum and then did a final meet up with the car at the slip round just before the Needles, then headed to the west of the railway to dump the car at the NCP near the Travelodge, interestingly we were spending more to accommodate the car for a night than we were on ourselves, the NCP was £25 for 24hours and the room was booked early for £23.50.

Down on Madeira drive we met up with the others, the hospitality was not up to the usual standard as they were clipping the passes if you asked for more than one portion, and they were serving only the participant tickets. After sting around in the cold for a while we sent the girls off back to the hotel while the men packed the car up on the trailer for transport back to base.

We met up in the hotel lobby at 19:00 and the veggies outnumbered the meat eaters so we went to Food for Friends a veggie restaurant we had been to a few years before. I had a Thai platter followed by a Haloumi massala both of which I would recommend. We retired at 22:00 for some well earned shut eye.

Bills veggie breakfastOn Monday we all met up at in reception and headed out to get some breakfast, as we had decided to splash out on a nice breakfast rather than the pretty basic fare at the Travelodge. It was really handy that The Independent on Saturday had a feature of the 50 best places to eat breakfast. There was one in Bright called Bills Placein and old bus depot. I must say that it is highly recommended, I had the veggie breakfast which was two slices of toast with Guacamole on one and Humus on the other topped with tomato’s, mushrooms and poached eggs, topped off with a sweet chilli sauce.

Suitably refreshed it was off round the shops of the lanes to see what we could find. I bought a pair of slippers and a print of a Treecreeper for the lounge wall. At around 13:00 we all met up said our good byes and headed home picking Helen’s mum on the way.

Anders Behring Breivik

Yesterday there was a couple of horrific attacks on the people of Norway, a bomb exploded in the centre of Olso and then a shooting massacre at  a Labour Party youth camp on Utøya island. The main suspect at the moment is Anders Behring Breivik a 32 year old who is now in police custody.

I was watching the news on the TV this morning and was also looking at the stories emerging on the internet, then it occured to me had anyone register a domain with  his name in it. They had I found that the .com and .net domains had been taken.

A while ago I posted a link to a website that tracked aircraft over Europe when the Icelandic volcano was erupting and got loads of hits on my blog presumably by people looking for the tracker. So here goes another article to see if I can attract visitors just by running links to a popular news story.

Here are the two registered domains and


Only one post, 17 of July 2011:
“One person with a belief is equal to the force of 100 000 who have only interests.”
A quote from John Stuart Mill (1806-1873)

Old blog/articles under “fjordman”

Flashback-thread (swedish)

WikiPedia (english) (swedish) (norwegian)

TV2 (norwegian TV)

Dagbladet (norwegian)

VG Verdens Gang (norwegian)

Aftenposten (norwegian)


See article

See article

Aftonbladet (swedish)

Expressen (swedish)


Yo Ho Ho and a couple of puke bags

Arriving on the islandWe are in Cardiff ths weekend, visiting the sister in-law, and today, Satruday, we have a boat trip to Flat Holm to look forward to. We had to get up early to be down at the quay side at Pennarth at 0900. There were quite a few people waiting when we got there, and it was not long before we were giving the organisers our names, presumably incase the boat sank! Word on the boat was that it would be pretty rough out there and that they had almost had to cancel, too me the sea looked pretty flat, it is an estuary after all. The weather was grey and overcast but the forecast was for a sunny day, we had our fingers crossed.

There is a barrage around Cardiff bay and you have to go through one of 3 locks to get out onto the sea. The sea did not appear to be that rough, we bobbed up and down a bit but it was only a 30 minute crossing. We had the talk about what to do in case the boat sinks, and how to put on the life jackets, then he explained that it would be rough and what to do with the sick bags should the need arise.

Some way out it started to get quite rough, we were apparently going over a sand bank, which causes the waves to be bigger. At about 25 minutes into the journey a little boy decided he had to be sick, soon follwed by a woman who puked with her hand over her mouth and got a couple of other people sitting near by. In all we counted possible 5 people who were sick. As we got towards the island we were warned again that it would be rough, and that when we got there the standard practice was to run the boat up the beach, so we

The lighthouseShould not be standing up. To get to the beach the skipper had to get the boat perpendicular to the beach, we were about 500 yards out, and needed to get across an area of sea that had the biggest waves we had yet seen. He had to go down wind a bit to get to the of the high waves, cosing his moment he turned across the waves, and we headed in to the beach with the boat really pitching about, but we did fianlly reach the beach. Later we were told that it was the roughest public trip they had had for 13 years. I was happy to get off the boat, I had not been sick but the old trick of keeping your eay on the horzon had been a great help.

As we diembarked it became obvious that the people in the open part at the back of the boat had got soaked. We were met by one of the island volunteers, who took us to the museum/visitor center. The wet people just wanted a cup of tea but we had to sit through the health and safety briefing. They introduced a guy called Stephane (a Belge it turns out) who was a volunteer and regular visitor to the island and did free tours for those interested.

We waited for the tour to start and took in the view over the island, there were lots of Lesser Black Backed Gulls, many tending to young who could not yet fly. We were warned that some of us would get pooped on before the day was out, and that the gulls will defend thier young/territory by dive bombing us. First Stephane took us to have a look at some slow worms that gather under some iron sheet that are left in the sun. The we walked out

Marconi monumentTowards the lighthouse to have a look at the seven inch gun enplacement one of about 5 or 6 we saw. We found out a lot of intersting facts about the isalnd on our way to the farm house, did you know that the fist morse radio transmission was received on Flat Holm? There is a monumnet celebrating the event strange thing is that they never removed the iron frame it was delivered in after the helicopter dropped it off. There are not many mammals on island apart from rabbits that have to be culled every so often. We also noticed lots of bones, bits and plastic and glass fragments, apparently all a result of the Gulls diet, the bones were apparently from the chicken bones found in our refuse.

At the farm house we had a coffee and biscuits before leaving Stephan and heading over to the visitors center for the women to do a bit of retail therapy. I must say that Stephan was a star and a real expert on all aspects of the nature and history of the island. Back at the center I took the opportunity to take some more photo’s with the new fisheye lens I have invested in, a Samyang 8mm f3.5 for £200 it is manual focus and aperture but the

Cardiff bay view with fisheyeLens is great and at that price you can’t expect all the thrills of a £400 lens. The weather had brightened up by now and because the wind had dropped a bit we hoped the journey back would be a bit more comfortable.

Everyone was back to the boat by the 13:30 deadline and we headed back to Cardiff. At first the boat pitched about a lot, but it was not long before we were into a smoother sea. I took the opportunity to go up to the bridge to have a chat with the skipper, who was very welcoming and keen to tell me all about the wisdom of the bay barrage authority and other sea tales. About a few hundered yards from the locks we noticed the red arrows flying past then we had a spectacular views of a spitfre and lancaster bomber. Everyone one on board got very excited and some started humming the dam busters music!

Boating waiting for us to leave Flat HolmeWe were soon back at the quay. We dumped some of our luggage into the car and headed over to the city center to have a look at the food festival that was going on. It was really packed why is typical for the weather we had, they say that the food festival is either a wash out or a roaring success depending on whether it is raining. We stropped for a glass of champagne to settle Helen’s nerves after the scary boat trip, but Cas managed to knock Helen’s glass over. We had not had any lunch so went on the look for a short queue on one of the stalls, luckily for us the Welsh aren’t that keen on veggie food, so we found a small queue for veggie burgers. I had a great curried check pea, with coriander and coconut one, Cas had a Laver Bread one. We were not in the mood for being with the crowds after our visit to a sparsely populated island so we headed back to the hut.

We went out for an Italian meal at a place called Lorenza’s, I had spaghetti a la vongole.

Tring and back

Wild raspberries
Wild raspberries

Nice sunny day with fluffy clouds about 21 degree, perfect for a walk. We got the number 500 bus to tring at about 11:00 and Helen allowed me to sit on the top deck, as a treat. At the bus stop I tried out the bus service computer which shows how long to the next bus and where it is going, as well as other interesting information.

We got oFf the bus at the Rose and Crown hotel then headed up Akeman Street past the Natural history museum, and out into the country side. As we went under the bridge over the A41 we noticed lots of small snails on the painted/varnished walls. They all without exception had shells with the most recent growth was clean and light in colour. I guess that the shell colour must reflect their diet, and I have a theory that as the graze on the greenish algal film growing on the wall, or the wall itself, presumably the amount of the shell growth would reflect the time that the snails had been living on the wall.

Next came a hard slog up the hill and onto the Ridgeway, it made a change to be in Beech woods after the last two weeks walking on cliff paths. We also noticed that the lack of a strong wind meant that holding a conversation at more that a few yards distance was possible.

The house at The Crong
The house at The Crong

The views over Dancersend were lovely and we passed by the fantastic house at The Crong, before heading towards the Cafe in the woods, in Wendover woods. We had some lunch brie panini for me and marmite on toast for Helen, the we headed down for a coffee at Hillside.

On the path just above the forestry offices we came across some wild raspberries, we ate a few. We could have picked some but we did not have a container to put them in and to pick enough for a Pavalova would have taken some time as the berries were quite small. Hillside was a welcome stop off for coffee, walnut cake, and the women’s Wimbledon final!

Suitably refreshed we headed home, then we were off out to celebrate Lizzies birthday at Malebon.

Vodafone network Royal Wedding statisitics

Here is some interesting information about the Vodafone mobile phone network during the Royal Wedding.

Network Wide Statistics

• Voice:
– entire Day attempts: 63,350,126 – down 2.17%
– calls between 09:00 and 12.30 – 12.4 million – down 17.4%
– calls between 11:00 and 11.30 – 1.65 million – down 31.6%

This is to be expected due to the metric focusing on the network as a whole and being a bank holiday where we have lower traffic than a normal working day. This fact makes the next set of statistics so impressive

• SMS:
– entire Day attempts: 138,446,608 – up 12.3%
– between 08:00 and 14:30 – 20.3 million – up 16%
– between 11:30 and 12:00 – 2.14 million – up 33.4%

– 8am to 1pm – 185,108 – up 28.8% compare to last week
– peak between 11:35 and 11:40 – 4580 MMS submitted – up 53.59%

• Data
– 10:00 to 15:00 – 12.85 Terabytes sent/received – up 20.5%

Looking now at two of the primary online news sources we see significant uplifts in traffic driven by our data subscribers:

Mobile Website Traffic – Network Wide

• BBC News
– 161,350 Megabytes of traffic (entire day)
– 36.69% increase from the previous week
– peak between 11am and 1pm where traffic increased 219.47%

• SKY News
– 29,041 Megabytes of traffic (entire day)
– 45.27% increase from the previous week
– peak between 11am and 1pm where traffic increased 462.52%

Focussing in on the Royal wedding route we see some impressive results

Royal Wedding Location Statistics 08:00 – 15:00

• Voice Traffic
– total Attempts: 1,102,834 – 26.96% Increase from the previous week

• SMS Traffic
– total: 1,487,014 – 67.22% increase from the previous week

Royal Wedding Statistics – Bucklebury 08:00 – 15:00 (Katherine’s home village)

• Voice Traffic
– total Attempts: 14,027 – 6.27% Increase from the previous week

• SMS Traffic
– total: 29,953 – 12.12% increase from the previous week

Looking in general across our top sites that covered the Royal wedding route we can see that we carried a staggering amount of additional traffic with a very impressive call performance.

Top Site Traffic 08:00 – 15:00

• Temporary site at St James Park
– voice Attempts: 36,561 – Previous week site was not live.
– dropped Call Rate: 0.55%

• St James Park
– voice Attempts: 25,424 – 456.81% increase
– dropped Call Rate: 1.63%

• Hyde Park
– voice Attempts: 25,383 – 377.66% increase
– dropped Call Rate: 0.83%

• Knightsbridge
– voice Attempts: 37,197 – 152.34% increase
– dropped Call Rate: 0.8%

• Buckingham Palace
– voice Attempts: 22,138 – 503.87% increase
– dropped Call Rate: 0.75%

• Hyde Park
– voice Attempts: 23,086- 157.43% increase
– dropped Call Rate: 0.5%


The night before the Royal Wedding

Tents outside the abbey
Tents outside the abbey

I’m not really one to go crazy over royal weddings,  I was probably Elite on my BBC computer when the last one was on, but I do enjoy big events. I floated the idea of going up to London on the night before with Helen but she does not like big crowds. On Thursday morning I thought sod it I’ll leave work at 1600 (I had been there since 0730) and head up to the big smoke and have a look round. I might even link up with A&C who had decided to spend the night outside the Palace to ensure a view of “the kiss”.

I needed to get the car so I went home at lunch time and would you believe the Golden Plover I had see earlier on the way to work was still there so were 2 Curlew. Any way I got the car and grabbed my camera and went back to work. I managed to get to a mile stone in a project I am working on at work so did not feel guilty about skipping off.

I got to Berkhamsted, found a place to park and was on the 16:30 train to Euston. I went for a 30p pee, grabbed a sandwich and headed for the Northern line and headed south to Charring Cross. My plan was to head straight to Westmister Abbey then kind of follow the route back to Buckingham Palace where A&C were under canvas with the Canadians. There were plenty of people about but it did not seem more busy than usual.

At the abbey things were a bit tighter there were people camped out on the pavement with chairs and tents, it was hard to get by we had to go single file. I got a few pictures of the tent city, and then headed back to Parliament Square to get a picture of Big Ben surrounded by flags. From there I headed the park that is next to The Mall, there was not much space left at that point, you could have fitted the odd tent in but it was clear that if you wanted a space earlier Friday morning would be too late.

Parliament Square
Parliament Square

I wandered down The Mall taking in the party atmosphere. At the end opposite the palace were the usual media village that gets erected for these occasions. It was a very busy place lots of traffic, and people out to see what it was all about just like myself.

It did not take me long to track down A&C the Canadian Maples were easy to find. They seemed pleased to see me and it was good to catch up with the Canadians again. I was offered a seat and settled in for an hour or so chatting and watching the world go by. From time to time some darkened windowed cars went past often followed by Range Rovers. We had lots of enquiries by Canadians asking us from which province we came, they had never heard of Buckinghamshire province!

I made my excuses and headed back down The Mall, when I got to the entrance to Clarence House there were lots of police telling people to keep out of the road, it soon became clear that someone was going to leave or arrive. I hung about and to see what was going on. First a very large Mercedes pulled up with Canadian flags on the dash board, a police man stopped the car and spoke to the man in the from who wound down the double glazed window. The policeman then called back to base to report that the Canadian Governor was coming through, and should he be allowed. After a mexican stand off as the car edged towards the policeman waiting for instructions, he eventually go the OK and the policeman stood aside.

The media village
The media village

A few minutes later the police got a bit stricter and some more turned up then all of a sudden a car left, then a few minutes later another and then another, I tried to get videos of the cars going past but the results were not very impressive. I had enough of seeing large cars with darkened windows at that point so headed back to the tube station, but not before using a portaloo, I was not about to pay another 30p to pee. I was soon back on the tube and heading towards Euston.

I had just missed the 2024, but the next train was at 2034 so just had time to grab a snack before heading to platform 8. When I got there confusion reigned there were two trains on the same platform, one was the 2024, which had the 2034 queued up behind. It turned out I could get on either so I chose the front train, and was soon back in Berkhamsted, where I found the car a drove home. All in all a great adventure.

Wendover woods with the Bucks Bird Club

Wild flower
Wild flower

We noticed in the new hide at College lake a Bucks Bird Club outing to Wendover woods, the start time was 08:30 a bit early for a Sunday but it is only 10 minutes drive so we got up, and got ready. Helen did really well 40 minutes up and out of the door a new record.

We meet the birds at the free car park end. It turns out the guy leading the group had lead another party at 05:30 the same morning that is what I call dedication. We set out down the road toward the cafe but went straight on at the 90 degree bend and made out way down to the scrubby area at the bottom of the bowl on the hale side of the woods. On the way down people were hearing Gold Crest and Marsh Warbler, and even Crossbill.

The group was about 8 people in the group and all the eyes and ears available to us we had a lot of success. In the scrub we got Garden/Willow Warbler, Goldcrest, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Wren, Marsh Tit, and Sparrow Hawk.

Wild Flower
Wild Flower

We then headed up the hill again then took a detour via Go Ape where a Firecrest had been seen earlier. On the way we saw what might of bee a Green Finch but somone said it sounded like a Siskin, and there it was at the top of a tall pine looking very greeny yellow, a Siskin alright. When we got to the Go Ape area  and Rob heard a Firecrest we all got our binoculars out and searched, then eventually it was spotted by Helen it was trying to pull a bit of string or plastic from a branch, presumably for nesting material. It was surprising to see the bird so close to humans it was literally just above one of the Go Ape platforms attached to the tree.

We then headed back towards the car we saw some wild strawberries in the grassy area that overlooks the bowl. We were soon back to the car. We really enjoyed ourselves and would return again.

Spring is here, a trip to Kew Gardens


The weather has been great all week, at work I have been doing timelapse videos of a new sewage treatment plant all week, but more of that later. I suggested that we go to Kew to see the place in all its spring glory. We decided to go and take the mother in law.

Woke up this morning early the day looked like it would be blue skies and sun all day. We headed off just before 10am, picked up our guest and headed off towards the M25. The traffic was OK and we were soon round the M25 and onto the M4 heading towards London. We exited at J2 and picked up the road that crosses the Thames at Hammersmith Bridge. Just after the bridge if you take the first right and then follow the signs to the Kew car park, (tight and narrow left between two houses), we arrived just short of 11am and easily found a place to park. Parking ticket is £6 and if you like you can park for free on Kew road but it can be a bit tricky.

Entrance to the Gardens was quite steep at 10p short of £14. The car park is on the Thames side of the park and there were no queues. Any way £40 worse off and we were into the gardens. The river side of the gardens is not really on the main drag so we headed east towards the pagoda end and took in all the plants and trees. there were some fritillaries, which are a lovely flower they come in purple and white and look like bells hanging from a bent over stem. fritillaries are quite rare and declining, but are native to the Thames valley and Suffolk. Another highlight was two types of wild garlic, Ransomes and Few-flowered Garlic. I have come across Ransomes in our local woods but I have never see the Few-flowered ones, which were not as pungent as the Ransomes.


There were lots of trees in bloom including Rhododendrons, Magnolias, and plenty of cherry like blossoms. After a trip up the treetop walkway, (Helen and her mum chickened out) we headed over to the most easterly green house. After looking round the green house the plan was to meander our way back towards the west end where we entered. We stopped off at the botanical art exhibition and I managed to miss the bit that connected the old building to the new building, so that pleasure will have to wait until next time.

After looking round the middle greenhouse I struck up a conversation with a lady who was taking a panorama shot using a panoramic attachement on a tripod. We exchanged tips and I passed on the name of the software I use Hugin (here is the link I took a good look at the camera bracket she was using because my one made from B&Q angle irons is not up to the job. If you are reading this can you send me a picture of your bracket. She she was a member of the Muswell Hill Photographic Society, and had got a couple of pictures commended in the Kew gardens photo competition.

Pond panorama
Pond panorama

We had lunch at the Pavilion, where there was lots of nice food on offer including plenty of veggie options. As it was only 12 we opted for a lighter lunch of sandwiches, followed buy the obligatory day out cake. Once refreshed we headed over to the last of the greenhouses the Princess of Wales conservatory, where all the tropical stuff is housed. Helen did not like the humid atmosphere she claims it makes her hair curl so she looks like Bonnie Langford!

Turns out there was another green house to look round, the one with the giant lilly pads. Today however they were not giant, they had obviously had a clear out and started again as the pad were only up to a foot across. I tried taking a panorama shot here as I thought it would be a bit like the St Pancras one with roof offering an interesting pattern. If it works you may see the results here, but at time of writing it needed a bit of tweaking to get the handrails to line up correctly. Sometimes you wish you had the tripod and pano head with you, but when you set out you just can’t be bothered to lug all the gear around.

Boule do neige
Boule do neige

We stopped for Tea/Coffee before a look round the obligatory shop, then headed back to the car with a brief stop to look at the river and eat and ice cream. The drive back was a breeze and we stopped of in Tring to get some tea (salad and stuff) and to place a bet on the Grand National, I choose the favourite and a rank outsider. The favourite came in 3rd so I might get some money back but not as much as I bet, there is probably a life lesson there, a £10 in the hand is better than one passed over the betting shop counter.

All in all a great day out with great weather, Oh and I forgot to mention we added a bird to the life list, Ringed-necked Parakeet, Helen’s mum spotted it at first I thought it was a sparrow hawk, it was travelling fast and had hawk like wing silhouette, but the give away was the slim pointed tail. When it circled round you could clearly see it was a bright green bird so there was no doubt, about the identification.

My friend on Google street view

I was tracing my route to work on street view, doesn’t everyone? I came across someone I know, and to boot their face had not been blurred out.

I have yet to speak to them and ask them whether they can remember the encounter with the strange car.

Google street view
Google street view

There has been a lot of fuss over street view in Germany where there are all sort of worries over privacy. For example Google agreed that they would also blur buildings if the people living there requested it. Trouble is with some apartments there were people who asked for the building to be blurred but them other people who lived there then complained that they did not want it blurred.

Google has also had to, in some countries, publish the time and places that the car will be going to an area. If only they did that here in the UK, we could all go out there and stage funny/peculiar things for the car to photo!