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Archive for the category “Milton Keynes”

Theatrical

This week has, again, been somewhat theatrical (and with a fair dollop of travel, just for balance)

On Wednesday I finally got round to seeing the Harry Potter play, which was very good (and I’ll write some thoughts about it later on) but made it into a seriously long day. Because of the size of the story/play, it’s been made in two parts, both just over two and a half hours.  Including the break between plays, it meant I went in at 1pm (for performance starting at 2) and left just after 10pm.  Then including getting back to Euston, and the Train Of The Damned to get back to Milton Keynes, I got home at about half midnight.

Yesterday I was down in London, going to see Hamlet at the Almeida Theatre in Islington.  I’d gone down earlier in the day, which was fine, and the play itself – again, very good, although I still need to formulate my thoughts and reactions to it a bit – was pretty complete, and ran to nearly four hours, including intervals.  So again, starting at 7pm, I didn’t leave ’til 11. Driving home was easier, but still, I wasn’t back ’til gone midnight.

This evening I’m back down in London for a friend’s birthday thing (and another late return home) and then tomorrow morning I’m over in Reading supporting another friend who’s running the Reading half-marathon (again) and raising money for the Multiple Sclerosis Trust.

So yeah, busy, and there really is no sign of sanity impinging on my life at any point soon…

Valentinage

And here we are, once again, on February 14th, Valentine’s Day – one of the most pointless ‘special occasions’ known to man.

In a break with tradition, I’m being good this year.  The last few years, I’ve been an absolute dickhead, but not this year.

What I have been doing is booking a table for two at a restaurant for the evening of Feb 14th, and then going on my own.  It really messes with people, to be there, looking sad and abandoned on Valentine’s Day.

If I’m in a particularly cruel mood, I’ve also taken along a ring-box, putting it on the table.  That really gets to people.

 

This year though, I’m not doing it.  Instead, I’m off to see John Wick 2. Which will be mental, ridiculous, and hugely entertaining.

Open University IoP Lecture – Human Colour Vision

This week, I was lucky enough – or at least organised enough – to go and see a lecture at the Open University campus as part of their IoP Lecture Series, about Human Colour Vision, presented by Professor Andrew Stockman.

It was interesting, and covered the basics of both the biology and physics of human vision, as well as how easy it is to fool and confuse vision.

Being a bit of a vision geek, I understood most of the information coming in – although it seemed to boggle the minds of a fair few of the audience – but I still learned stuff about how light and colour are initially processed by the eye (“univariance” being particularly interesting) and the cell structures etc. that aid this process.

As always, the ways to mess with the brain about colour fascinate me – and although we didn’t see my two favourite images (below) on colour perception, there were others that were just as fun.

A and B are the same shade of grey - the brain just assumes they can't be

I’m hugely lucky, in that I live near the OU campus, so it makes it an easy evening of geekery – I didn’t know about this IoP series of lectures until recently, but you can be sure I’ll be going to more of them…

Final Weeks

We’re coming to the end of 2016, and things are (kind of) calming down a bit here.

Mind you, in the next month the main events are

  • Seeing Glenda Jackson in King Lear at the Old Vic in London
  • Seeing The Tempest in Stratford-upon-Avon
  • A Festive BurgerCrawl in London – only Christmas Special burgers allowed. (That’s pretty much planned already)
  • Meals at five Michelin-starred restaurants, including one for New Year’s Eve

and alongside that there’s also

  • at least one techie meetup/socialisation night
  • two social things with other friends and contacts
  • a minimum of three films (that’re already booked) including Rogue One and Passengers, plus any others I choose to see

That’s about it – except for the standard stuff around the Festering Season as well.

And yet still, that’s a lot quieter and calmer than a lot of the year has been. Which just goes to show, sometimes I can be a spectacularly busy idiot…

An Expensive Week – Part Two

Following on from the whole car kerfuffle last week, I’ve made a decision – it’s time to get rid of the Saab. It’s been decidedly iffy this year, and with the latest issue, I just can’t rely on it when I need to. I’ve still got a thousand-ish miles to do by the end of this month, let alone the stuff for the rest of the year, so need something I can trust will get me from A to B without the need for recovery, garages and the like.  Basically, that’s it.

The Saab no longer fits that bill, so it’s time for it to go.  I know I still won’t qualify for a car finance agreement etc., so it’s been a case of sorting out a transfer of funds from the savings account. It means a fixed budget, and see what fits that bill and those funds.

I spent some of the weekend looking at new (to me) cars, and have one sorted, to be collected on Wednesday.

It’s a diesel Kia Ceed, so fairly crap. But it’s only 70,000 miles, and came in well under budget. I’ve wangled a service and a year’s MOT out of the dealer, as well as a parts guarantee for a year (or 20,000 miles, whichever comes sooner)  The deposit has been paid with a credit card, which covers me under Section75 for the full price of the car, should it turn out to be a lemon. (That’s something I didn’t know ’til recently – so long as you pay more than £100 on a credit card, S75 covers the whole amount, not just whatever was paid by the card) In short, I’m as covered as it’s possible to be.

In all, it’s not a bad deal. The price is good, and having checked further since, I reckon it’s going to be saving me about £100 per month. Yeah, per month.  The road tax is £30 for the year, rather than the £25 a month I was paying for the Saab. (It fell just outside the newer emissions regulations, which I didn’t know at the time I got it) and the insurance is £30 less a month.  With the reduction in fuel costs as well – diesel vs. petrol, and so on – it stands to be a significant saving.

Then there’s what I got for the Saab – I took that back to the Saab garage on Monday, transferred the ownership, and basically got back what I initially paid for it. It’s still cost me money over the three years, but it’s nowhere near as bad as it could have been.

I’ll see how things go with the new car – I’m not expecting lots from it, just to be reliable and to do what it should. It’s going to have a busy couple of weeks once I’ve got it, including longer runs to Dorset and Manchester, so by the end of the month I’ll know more about how it fits my requirements, and hopefully that it’s generally reliable.

Too Warm

As usual, it’s July, so here in the UK we get a bit of a heatwave. Someone else (I believe it was George II) described the British summer as “Three hot days, and a thunderstorm” and that’s not far from the truth. This year, it started on Monday, and Tuesday was the hottest day of the year so far, hitting nearly 34° C (92° F)

I try to not gripe about the weather – I know, terribly unBritish of me – because well, realistically it’s just the British weather. We have a strange weather system/environment for a number of reasons, but in general we’re really remarkably middle-of-the-road, and thus not set up at all to handle extremes. (Or even what we refer to as extremes, and which other countries regard as “normal”)  That means we don’t fit air-conditioning by default in houses, and we over-insulate them. (Similar infrastructure lacks show up in Winter, when we grind to a halt in levels of snow that Americans and Canadians look at and laugh)  We’re just not cut out for long periods of heat – because we never get them. Maybe a week or so is usually the longest for any form of ‘heatwave’ without the respite of storms, rain, and anything else our weather system can throw at us.

As it is, I do feel the heat far more than I feel the cold. I’m naturally very warm (temperature-wise, if not personality-wise) which is great in Winter, but leaves me as a sweaty blob when we hit these hot days.

I try and prepare for it all – this year I’ve been organised enough to put a fan in the bedroom (which certainly helps at night) and got some cold and frozen stuff that’ll be useful. Additionally, a bottle of frozen water makes a great bag-cooler, and can then be really nice as it thaws out, while also keeping other drinks cold in the meantime.

In short, I do what I can. I’m not a massive fan of it at this point, but *shrug* it’s just part of life. I’d still rather the temperature were a few degrees cooler, but there we go, it will be in a couple of days time, I’m sure. I’ll enjoy it while it’s here – sitting out in the sun at lunchtime, and as it cools down a bit in the evenings, or getting to the coast when I can – and that’s all to the good.

There was going to be a point to all this, and I now can’t remember what that point was. Hey Ho.

Varied

It’s fair to say, the weekend just gone was pretty varied. Busy too, but definitely varied.

Friday evening was spent with friends seeing a small gig by Professor Elemental – very silly all round, but also very late, as he didn’t go on stage ’til 22:30 in the end. It meant I didn’t get home ’til nearly 2am…

Saturday morning was spent at the cinema, seeing the new Ghostbusters film. (Small review : Enjoyed it a lot, far more than I expected to, and it’s just entertaining silliness) Then in the evening I was over in Cambridge, going for a thoroughly enjoyable and fantastic meal at Midsummer House.

Then on Sunday I was awake by 6am, and generally too warm. So one “oh sod it” moment later, I was on the way down to Whitstable and Tankerton, and spent the day by the beach, roasting quietly.  Happily and fortuitously, it turned out that Whitstable Castle was having a food fair, so that was lunch sorted. And then mid-afternoon driving home, looking at all the queues on the other side of the road and thanking God I wasn’t involved in it all, considering how hot it still was.

Finishing off with a quiet evening catching up on recorded TV etc., it was a very pleasant weekend – but definitely surrounded by all the random…

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