Archives for category: Gloucester

Of course with a title such as the one above, the regular reader might think I was about to refer to the neliphunt that Pooh and I have caught.  Read on…

Oh, Em and might I even venture, Gee – to use the vernacular.  I was doing fine wandering between the various stalls, laden with delights from all across the country. The odd dipp of an oil, or the snippet of some cheese. A square of chocolate, a snifter of vodka and so on and so forth. And then we espied the Cider and the Sausages…..

Actually, in truth we skipped the cider. We were after all “on our bikes” and thus in charge of a vehicle on her majesty’s highway – and besides, we’d already been at the vodka…. and the brandy…  But the sausages in a bap – I should have walked away.  I should have mustered up the strength to say “No thankyou” but it wasn’t to be.  


“Two of those tasty looking things please!” I was heard to say.  A nice perch on the fake lawn and 30 minutes later I was quite literally “Stuffed”.  All that remained to be done was clamber aboard our trusty steeds and cycle home – thus “Mounted”.

See what I did there?

…and on the way we had to pass Gloucester’s latest piece of Street Sculpture, which appears to be some sort of tower, not too dissimilar to the rusty needle that they’ve already built, but this time without rust…  and a bit fatter…  I wonder what it “means” ?


Happy Days.

This post originally appeared here: Posterous
Hello Sunday, nice to see you. Just to keep you in the picture, yesterday involved some work (although not the masses that I suspect we’ll be doing over the next couple of weeks) and some exercise on the trusty chain driven steeds.

Mrs G and I pottered about in town and then I went map hunting while she caught up with L who was up visiting from that London. I’m taken with the idea of an antique map of the city to hang on a wall in the warren somewhere. Not sure exactly where yet. Will cross that bridge in the fullness of time (to mix idioms), but the bigger problem with the idea is finding the right map to begin with. Gloucester has a couple or three decent antique warehouses which are stuffed full of all manner of ..erm.. antiques? However, having spent a goodly few hours rummaging around them all, I’ve positively failed to find, not only a decent antique map, but in fact any map of the city whatsoever. Complete waste of time, although I did find Winnie that someone had thoughtlessly trussed up. Don’t they know he’s got things to do!? (mowing any stray grass to within a 16th of an inch of it’s life for a start)


I’ve had a poke about on the Interweb for one and while I’ve seen the odd example I quite admire, I’m not feeling like setting my heart on one of them until I’ve seen them in the flesh (so to speak). Next on my list then is an antiques map shop and/or a car boot sale. One of which will most definitely have what I’m looking for (at a price) while the other is just “eBay Live” but without the bidding, or search facility… or customer satisfaction system – but you know what I mean. I haven’t had a chance to do either though as today’s plan has been all about lunch with Mother-in-Law or Granny, for the benefit of daughter and son.

Lunch with J and W is always a fun affair and holds several benefits for myself and Mrs G, namely that we don’t have to cook it and there’s the luxury of W’s carrots and J’s fruity crumbles. They’re both retired now and are keen Allotmenteer’s (I’m sure that’s the correct nomenclature, unless you know otherwise) and the results of their hardwork are always more flavoursome than anything a supermarket can turn out. Their current batch of strawberries are to die for and the rhubarb crumble was second to none. There is only one downside to the whole event but it’s not one to really grumble about. They’re of a generation that doesn’t posses or has any interest in possessing a dishwasher. All this means is that we go home with hands as soft as our faces thanks to the “wild green hairy lipped squid”…. Oh hang about, I mean “mild green fairy liquid” there’s a shaggy dog story of a joke in there somewhere, but don’t ask where. Which reminds me. On the subject of jokes, I’ve learned that there are actually two types of people in the world. Those who like cliffhangers…

This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Finally made it as far as Wednesday, and to be honest I’m feeling worn out already. It’s been hectic in the wake of the Badman and I’s recent bout of sitting in a tree and waiting.

Monday night found me whizzing off in the roller skate to Kate Middleton’s educational hometown of Marlborough.  Needless to say she wasn’t about, but good old Johnnie was along with A (who’s father-in-law has passed on, and we will be visiting with next week for the funeral – just as an aside, there’s been alot of that about lately, and here’s hoping that we’ve seen the end of it for a while).

So having spent sometime with Mrs H and the kids, including a particularly enjoyable bedtime story in the form of Mr Mischief, we headed off to a local curry house in the middle of nowhere.

The Palm Indian Restaurant is an excellent eatery, and highly recommended should you find yourself “out in the sticks” and in need of sustenance.

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We ate and caught up with the general goings on which when all is said and done made for a superb way to spend an evening. Clearly something we don’t do often enough, but then if we did it all the time, I suspect we’d appreciate it far less. We rounded off the evening with a quick beer and a game of “Heads or Tails” (far more complicated than it sounds) in “The Lamb Inn” on the parade in Marlborough.

Tuesday had the badman and I meeting up at my hollowed out volcano.  As we’ve been playing the role of a sleeper cell so well for the last week or so, it was long overdue that he should get the grand tour of our armaments and in particular the sentinent rabbits that patrol the grounds on the look out for agents trying to infiltrate the base and gain knowledge of the grand schemes within. He’d passed the background security checks, and was blindfolded for the last leg of his journey to the hidden base, so luckily he still doesn’t know exactly where it is.

He also had to get his Bike serviced at a local garage, so it made perfect sense. 

We got some good work done and had a bite to eat down at the docks before returning to the lair and planning an assault on a local Starfleet office on Wednesday.

In point of fact, the Wednesday trip was all about our Mid-year reviews with our soon-to-be-retired manager. I for one will miss him, just because in the short time I’ve worked with him, he’s helped me through one of the toughest times I’ve had since joining the Starfleet crew.  I’m not going to go on about it – you can get snippets of it from elsewhere in the blog – but he’s been a most helpful rock, along with the badman. Without them I’m pretty certain I would have lost all faith in the exploration of deep space and probably have beamed down to an isolated planet to be consumed by tribbles (and troubles no doubt).  As a result of their efforts my eyes have been opened to the wider, more useful and appreciated elements of Starfleet and as such I’m no happy to be here.  

The review went well, and past pain is all but forgotten. I feel I can’t let this moment pass completely without giving a nod of thanks towards Stretch as well, for it was he who pointed out the need for the role that I now fulfil. As such I owe him more than just a couple of beers of thanks…. possibly as as many as three and a half.

But he can save them up for the next time our paths cross. They won’t be forgotten.

In the evening, being in such a good mood as a result of the review I decided to treat Mrs G and Daughter to a visit to one of our local eateries for a spot of dining out.  A “trip to the teddy” actually means we’ll go to the King Edward the VIII public house for a bite to eat and a go at the quiz.  Food was poor as was the quiz, but we didn’t care. We have eachother and so a good time was had by the three of us.  Good times.

This post originally appeared here: Posterous

And so it came to pass that on Sunday, Mrs G and I hoped on our trusty metal steeds and trotted off to Gloucester docks to see the strange chinese beasts race un and down the water.  In english? we cycled to the docks to watch the Dragon Boat racing.

Met up with J,A & B and R,K & AB. As R is the well known “king of the docks” he was able to provide an excellent “lock-up” to store the bikes in and keep them sheltered from the weather. The forecast had been dry and overcast, but sadly this broke and became scattered showers instead. But no matter. Being of good english stock, we weathered the….um…  weather, and got on with enjoying the silliness in the name of charity.  In fact, considering the poor weather, the event itself was very well supported.

The teams gathered about the various boats, looked at them sheepishly, and nervously did as they were instructed.

By the time they’d been up and down the docks once, they had the hang of what they were supposed to be doing, and it wasn’t long before they were racing like professionals and getting seriosly competitive.  The races are run in a set of heats, and then a pair of semi-finals and finals.

The rowing was feverish, the crowds roared and the band played on….

At the end, a local team, the “Barnwood Pirates” stole the day, and I managed to capture a picture of a proud pirate about to receive his award. As you can see he’s reasonably soaked, 50% river water and 50% beer I suspect.


While the winners retired to nearby hostelries for more beer and presumably champagne and other celebratory drinks, we retired to Cafe Corretto for coffee and sandwiches to warm us through.

All in all a good afternoon of standing about cheering, getting damp and raising money for CLIC Sargent, for children with cancer.  We left with the thought that perhaps if we can get enough interest from the rest of the mob, we may be able to put our own team in next year.  Time will tell.

Until the next post…

This post originally appeared here: Posterous

As I’d promised myself last week, Saturday finally presented me with an opportunity to properly visit Gloucester’s prestigious cathedral. As a result this entry is all a bit photo based, but as a picture speaks a thousand words, I’m not going to worry too much.
Daughter was off to work with a session of unexpected overtime and Mrs G was off into the city to the hairdressers. The place she visits belongs to a friend of ours and is not far from the refurbished docks. So while she walked over to be coiffured, I cycled over to the bishop’s seat to have a mooch about.,+College+Green,+Gloucester+GL1+2LR,+United+Kingdom&gl=uk&t=h&ll=51.867469,-2.246522&spn=0.002319,0.00456&z=17&output=embed
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I went in through Cathedral Way via sacra (which is an interesting word on a signpost for the un-initiated, or those that didn’t study Latin (ie: you)… I’m in the unenviable position of having studied Latin – Amo, Amas, Amant…  Ecce Romani… Let us not speak of this fact again though.  Any way, to get back to the point, sacra in this sense means “Sacred Road” which was also the name of the main street in ancient Rome. So there you have it. I went up Sacred Road.

As you enter the grounds proper of the cathedral, you are greeted by the tall stained glass windows which are located behind the high altar. It’s a truly magnificent building, and these mere snapshots don’t really do it any justice, however, from this vantage point it seems to fit in nicely where it is, and doesn’t appear to dominate the landscape. It looks like a “NOT MASSIVE” building …..

Over the door at the south entrance you can see a carving of the green man, and the carvings all over the building are one of it’s main draws. You could spend all day looking at gargoyles alone (if you like that kind of thing).


It’s not until you pass under the porch and into the building itself that you realise the TARDIS like dimensions of the place. Internally it IS MASSIVE. The high vaulted ceilings of the presbytery and the nave are a sight to behold…

But equally as impressive is a trip around the cloisters. If you’re a Harry Potter fan (and I’m referring to the film versions here and not the books) then you’ll find parts of the cloisters instantly recognisable. They’ve been used on and off throughout the franchiase as the backdrop to parts of Hogwarts.

The Griffyndor Common Room entrance to name but one location, along with the wall with writing in blood from the “Chamber of Secrets”

Two things I didn’t get a chance to do on this trip though.  First off, a tour around the crypt.  I’m told this is especially interesting as it is one of only four apsidal cathedral crypts in England. For those of us that aren’t architect’s, apsidal means that it’s architecture is semicircular with a hemispherical dome on top if it. And secondly the Tower tour.
This consists of a 269 step climb to the roof of the cathedral, which it’s claimed can afford you a view on a clear day of up to forty miles. It’s got to be worth a look in next time I’m passing.
so that was my hurried Saturday morning tour, from where it was off to another cathedral in Gloucester… this time the one known locally as Sainsbury’s.


Sunday – well, you can read all about Sunday in the next post….
Until then… au revoir

This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Today is going to involve a trip into Cheltenham with daughter while Mrs G has a visit to the hairdressers. If the weather holds out it should be a great way to spend a little time with the young ‘un during her run up to the ‘big day’. She has some items to exchange and of course I need to pick up a refill line for the strimmer.
One thing I haven’t done for a little while is have a good rant. Those that have been regular visitors here will know that on occasion I can get on my soap box and start getting all verbose about a subject. Part of the reason for having toned down of late is change. What with having had my cheese moved and attempting to teach pachyderms to dance I’ve been having a lot to take in and it’s tough to find time to put a stake in the ground and make time to carve up the elephant in the room. If you don’t know what that’s all about (and I pray that you don’t for your own sanity) then your levels of management bullsh!t understanding leave something to be desired. I can only look on in awe at Scobi’s abilities in this field. Just thought I’d run that up the flag pole to see who salutes. 🙂 There’s also a good one about rats in Rhododendron bushes, but I never really understood that at all.
Generally I’m actually quite quiet. I tend to be the person at the back of the room observing the noisy table bangers and getting my head around the scope of their ideas. I’m a thinker preferring to fit as many views as possible into the bigger picture to get an overall understanding of whatever the subject is rather than leaping in and sounding like a “bit of a d!ck”. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen – it does, and more often than I’d care to admit to, but as they say in the places where these things don’t worry them… “Meh” and “Whatever”
With that, let’s take a little trip to rantville. Having left it a while there are a multitude of subjects to choose from, including “Evaluating the value of evaluation”, “The cost of the Costa’s… And everything else”, “Why Fixing potholes on a Sunday means you can’t drive anywhere on a Monday” and the exceptionally explosive “How to behave when someone tells out and out lies about you in a document and then presents that amongst a wide group of colleagues as fact”- I’m sure you can hear the soft undertone of seething and bubbling blood. 

None of these are today’s subject though.  I’m interested in “Frozen Yogurt, Reduced Fat”
The BBC are reporting that council tax is being ‘frozen or reduced’ in a sort of yogurty fatty kind of way. Most council tax bills for homes in England will be frozen or reduced this year with the average bill for a Band D household remaining at £1,439. You can read the full article here:


On the surface this is a good news story. All of us hard working tax payers have been doing our bit to fix the debt brought about by the overspend of the last the lot and we can take a little solace in the fact that our annual contribution to the local tea and biscuit club isn’t going up. 

What? Was I born yesterday?  Good old political misdirection (politicians? Magicians more like). While we’re all bust feeling smug about our zero percent increase, they’re all busy slashing services left right and centre. We might not be paying more, but we’re getting less, so in real terms its an increase. And it’s not a small increase either. Libraries closing are the tip of the iceberg. There are hundreds of smaller nicks and cuts as well. For example, I learned this week that we will now have to pay an additional £36 to have our garden waste (Green bin, fortnightly – how fecking complicated can we make recycling?) collected.  What? Say that again?..
RESIDENTS in Gloucester will be charged to have their garden waste collected, council chiefs decided.

Households will be charged £36 a year for a green bin for the first time ever.

The city’s opposition Labour group claimed the move would see residents returning to “burning and flytipping rubbish”.

But that claim was rejected by the leader of the authority, Councillor Paul James (Con, Longlevens), who said: “The people of Gloucester are better than that.”

The decision was voted through at a meeting of full council yesterday despite angry opposition. Before now the service was free to all homes.

Leader of the Labour group Councillor Mark Hobbs (Moreland, Lab) said: “The uptake of green waste recycling is going to drop through the floor.

“People will go back to burning their rubbish, flytipping it and going back to put it in black bins.”

He added: “This is an absolute sham, and to ask people to start paying for this service is a disgrace.”

But his criticism was rejected by leaders of the Tory-led authority, which claimed one of five households will pay for the bins.

Councillor Steve Morgan, (Grange, Con) cabinet member for the environment, said: “It’s patently obvious this is going to be a difficult and unpopular decision to make, we are working on cautious estimates.

“The proposed take up, we imagine will be in the region of 20 per cent.”

Councillor Jermemy Hilton (Kingsholm, Lib Dem), said: “The other way we could fund this scheme is to increase council tax by 10 per cent.

“We need to cover a £4 million black hole in the council’s budget.” People signing up early will get an extra six months free, and will pay for one year but get 18 months worth of collections.

Anyone who gets council tax or housing benefits will be entitled a 50 per cent reduction.

Currently, the authority’s garden waste service serves 47,000 households in Gloucester.

It is at full capacity with four dedicated vehicles.

But when ongoing housing developments at Kingsway, Hempsted and other sites are fully occupied, it will be necessary to buy an extra vehicle.

That would cost taxpayers an extra £120,000 if the service remained free.

The council had made no budgetary provision for this, according to a report circulated before the meeting.

Councillors also agreed to charge for bulky waste, items such as fridges and sofas.

It will cost £24 for up to three items, and £8 for every additional item from then on.

The decision took place during a budget meeting, during which £3.9 million worth of cuts were being debated.


Just if you were wondering, a quick poke about on the councils website reveals the following facts  of note.

Housing plans

Kingsway: Approval for 2300 Dwellings

Hempstead: potential for 100 dwellings

Other: There’s a long list, but the most significant is Gloucester Quays with the potential for a further 1000 dwellings

This gives us a short term total of 4,400 homes. There is a much longer term plan which puts the numbers up significantly but most of it doesn’t have approval at present so it’s all pie in the sky and irrelevant for the time being. 

For the mathematically challenged among you (and I’m including e council in that) this gives us these numbers:

4,400 multiplied by £1,439 equals £6,331,600. Minus your poxy £120,000 to keep the service free and you’re left with a net increase of £6,211,600. You could use this to provide the other services your supposed to be providing for the new residents that you’ve moved in which thanks to your dodgy planning processes will all be living in tiny wall cupboards that you and the greedy developers like to think of as band D homes so that you can maximise your returns on them. 

I mean really. Is it me? IS IT ME!?.

And while we’re about it, a black hole is an astronomy term and as such has nothing to do with financial accounting. I think you need to get your story straight here girls. How did you manage to make ‘no budgetary provision’ for 4,400 dwellings that you approved ?

I do understand that running a council is a complex and expensive task. you have to get the right biscuits for a start! but come on!  This is just maths! You do know about maths don’t you?

I also note that a polling card for the forthcoming council elections has just fallen through my letterbox.

Oh goody.


This post originally appeared here: Posterous
Off to town again and a wonderful education on the way.

I have a table seat and am joined by two “ladies” as I later discover they’re referred to by our local council. They’re actually two very driven new mum’s. To call them mums-net types would seem to me to be mislabelling them, doing them a disservice and being patronising all at the same time. They are formidable mothers who quite simply are on a mission to get something done. A very specific something. To build and operate a school for their community.

Perhaps I should go back to the beginning and explain….

Mrs G and I used to live in Brockworth. It’s a village in Gloucestershire that has three reasonably well known claims to fame. 1) The home of Cheese-Rolling on Cooper’s Hill. 2) The playground (in his youth) of the now world famous actor/writer and nerd, Simon Pegg and finally ..3) The invention of the Jet engine took place here under the guidance of the genius that was Frank Whittle.

Of the three, the most pertinent to our tale is the third, for long after the second world war and Mr Whittle’s jet engine genius-ness, the airfield that he used during the development of his now common-place device fell into dis-repair. Time passed, weeds grew and generally not an awful lot happened to the large strip of concrete fenced off from the main road opposite the grotty pub (sorry, but it is grotty) The Victoria.

Somewhen in the last 10 or 15 years, while the housing market was on the up, bits of the land became very interesting to the type of company that like to develop small trading estates and out of town industrial parks that aren’t excessively industrial but do allow for massive warehouses. Wincanton distribution have been out there for quite a while (I’m sure you’ve seen their trucks on the Motorway) and then a large part of the Gloucester sorting office moved out there. There’s an insurance company, a technology company, part of the NHS and a wine distributor. All well and good. It’s also nicely situated for Motorway access and there has been a road bridge over the M5 for a very long time, but until recently the bridge came to an abrupt halt in the middle of the old airfield with no connection into the village itself.

And then about 5 or 6 years ago, the developers finally got a green light and a decent size housing estate began appearing on top of the airfield which is now never to be seen again.

A very substantial Tesco’s arrived and then a Gym, a TravelLodge (well you have to, apparently) and a new pub (The Whittle) in memory of Frank. All of this to service the huge numbers of houses in an area now known as “Cooper’s Edge”. Great stuff. All well and good. Everybody’s happy.

Ah…. Wait a minute….. Hundreds of houses means hundreds of family’s means hundreds of kids means a school is required. Oh… Hmmmm…. And a housing market slump, and no plan of any great consequence and a small group of mums with no school for their kids.

You see where this is going?

These two mums have spent the last three years making it happen, and they seem to me to be pretty much unstoppable. There isn’t anything they haven’t yet overcome. They’ve successfully mobilised their community and now have plans which have been approved and a builder all set to go.

Best of all it’s absolutely nothing to do with the coalition government’s “Big Society”. One of the recently appointed local MPs did try very briefly to suggest that his party’s policies might have helped enable their superbly executed work, but a local resident who knew the truth soon put him right via the local paper. “Get back in yer box” seems to sum it up nicely.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure some elements of TBS are almost a good idea, but to take these “Ladies” hard work and pass it off as something you’ve “enabled” is as low as a… Well, its as low as a politician. Ah. Yes. Good point. Well quite.

Anyway, their race is far from over, but they seem not to worry and are all guns blazing for the next challenge that the project presents, whatever that may be.

Right now they’re working on a community centre (well a temporary one), the fixtures, fittings and colour schemes for the school, library systems, ICT, staff rooms and classrooms, nurturing their own children, holding down full time jobs AND maintaing husbands. And we all know how demanding that lot is.

I’m seriously impressed and won’t be at all surprised when women like these, up and down the country are putting the world to rights and shaming the rest of us into fixing the country properly with far less interference from local government, council and central government who quite frankly wouldn’t know what to do with a mother and baby in their boardroom and that’s before they realise that the mothers are explaining to them how to do their jobs.

Which leads me on to “what can I do?”. Their spot isn’t even in my community anymore. I don’t have kids of school attending age and even though the senior Balls are involved in schooling, I’m not.

However, there might be an angle. Starfleet might have something in the form of corporate citizenship and doing smart and clever things for the community. For now, investigations are afoot. I’ve made no promises, but if comes to it, I’ll willingly pick up a paint brush at the very least – should that be required to get the job done.

My hat is off to them. You can find out more about the sterling work that the two J’s (“we’re joined at the hip” or so they told me) have done and continue to do here:

This post originally appeared here: Posterous

And so it was that Mrs G and I managed to lift our weary heads from the depths of the rabbit warren where we rest and cycle into the City to partake of a beverage or two in the very interesting and historical “New Inn“… which actually isn’t very new at all.,+gloucester&oe=UTF-8&ie=UTF8&hl=en&hq=the+new+inn,&hnear=Gloucester,+United+Kingdom&ll=51.865693,-2.245355&spn=0.001317,0.00295&t=h&layer=c&cbll=51.865762,-2.245262&panoid=AIETmzGaDFNTgE4yjRS40w&cbp=13,173.69,,0,-12.13&output=svembed
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It’s a beautiful old building located almost in the center of Gloucester. You can tell from looking that it was obviously at one time an original “Coach House”. In later years you can see that the frontage has been split up and part of it now houses a travel agents and a watch shop.  Here’s what the big plaque on the wall says about it…

The New Inn’s Permanent Guests!

It was at the New Inn in 1553 that Lady Jane Grey heard the news that would lead to her untimely death.

She was manipulated by the Duke of Northumberland who had ambitions to rule the country through her. He arranged a marriage for her to his son and pursuaded the 15 year old Edward VI who was dying of tuberculosis to sign a will bequeathing the crown to her.

The young king soon died and it was from the gallery at the New Inn that Lady Jane was proclaimed the new Queen.

It was not long before her cause was weakened as support for her rival Mary escalated throughout the land.

In 1554, Mary, now Queen of England reluctantly passed sentence on her rival and Lady Jane and her husband were beheaded in the Tower of London.

From that century to modern times. there have been many reported sightings of ghostly figures around the premises, along with reports of glasses and botles being moved.

They are believed to be the work of a restless spirit

A Brief History

The New Inn was originally built as a Pilgrims’ Inn to house visitors to the Shrine of King Edward II in St.Peter’s Abbey. Rebuilt in 1455 it was hugely popular throughout the Middle Ages with a ?? ?? of Kinghts, Yeomen and Gentlemen lodging due to the popularity of holidays in Gloucester at this time.

Various changes through the years have included two small ?? opening into Northgate Street ///… stone flagged courtyards and a ???? lion grasping a serpant symbolising the triumph of good over evil.

In the 16th century, ?? minstrels were popluar and plays were staged in the courtyard – it is said that William Shakespeare once appeared there. The inn boasted the citys first tennis court during tudor times and in the 18th century ?? ?? as a venue for the unusual and bizarre. New additions to the building were added around this time – a ???house and ??.

In 1858 the Inn was bought freehold by the ?? family who owned it until 1942. The New Inn is now part of the ?? Group

We didn’t see any ghosts, and neither did we see Shakespeare, but we did enjoy the journey. For those of you wondering though.  The ghost really does exist, and there’s even video evidence to prove it. This is from the bar’s CCTV system recorded on the evening of the 23rd of May, 2010

Does give you a bit of shiver doesn’t it? Having said that, this weather of late as been fantastic, with glorious sunshine and hardly a rain cloud in sight. It’ll never last but it did mean the beer wasn’t icy cold, but truly wonderful (and not a ridiculous price) as well as consistently good service. Sadly though, we had to be home for Roast Beef & Yorkshires…. not forgetting the rabbits favourites….  carrots…

And now it’s Monday…..  P’ah!

This post originally appeared here: Posterous

I know, I know… before you say anything, I know….. Yet again I’m wittering on about twittering. It’s only because I actually want to talk about Foursquare (again!) as a result of my findings in Cabot Circus and more recently Gloucester Quays. Anyway – in 6 months time, just remember that I was blathering on about it long before you took it for granted, as you will then.

I won’t beat about the bush. Straight to the point.  

When Daughter & I visited Cabot Circus in Bristol on Saturday, one of the things I wanted to try out was some Foursquare checkins and offers in a different city other than Gloucester (or Cheltenham town). This was fine, of course.  It worked reasonably well. I was surprised that a few places we visited weren’t already on the Foursquare list of locations, but I was even more surprised at the complete lack of Foursquare offers. Not one did we find.

Gloucester has two or three at least but across the UK, it’s still very very early days.  Dublin, the Isle of Man, Liverpool, Norfolk and of course, London appear to be the first places to be getting involved according to the Foursquare Offers website. No mention of any of the Gloucester offers at the moment, but then I suspect that the data set they’re using may be a little out of date.

In Gloucester, I’ve found these:

  • Domino’s Pizza Every Wednesday the Mayor of each store receives a free small pizza. T&Cs apply. It turns out that Dominoes are actually running this promotion nationally, so if you needed a reason get on FourSquare there’s a free pizza in it if you’re canny. 
  • Cafe Rene have 20% off all Char Grill Menu items between 6pm-10pm (including 16oz T-bone steaks and mixed grill) for every check-in! Show check-in confirmation when ordering. 
  • The Old Bell will give you a free shot! Just show confirmation of your check-in at the bar. 
  • Caffe Tucci have 10% of everything for all Foursquare check-ins! Just show your check-in confirmation at the till. 
  • Caffe Corretto also have 10% off all food and drink Monday to Fridays for Foursquare check-ins. Please show confirmation of your check-in at the till. 
  • Sam’s Bar & Grill Buy one pizza get another FREE when you check-in! Show check-in confirmation when ordering. Offer NOT valid on Sundays. 
  • Tiger’s Eye Check-in at the Tigers Eye & receive 20% off your main meal! Please show confirmation of check-in when ordering your lunch or dinner. 
  • Fever Free shot for every check-in! Just show your check-in confirmation at the bar. 
  • The New Inn Check in on Foursquare and receive 20% off your main course! Just show check-in confirmation on ordering.

I’m particularly looking forward to having a go at this one though, which takes place next month:

Cheltenham Racecourse All Foursquare users who check-in at the Showcase meeting will be entered into a prize draw. Two lucky winners will receive a pair of Club tickets for the Paddy Power Open Saturday meeting. Sounds like a lot of fun to me.

There’s no doubt about it, Checking in is starting to gain a hold. But which will get the most usage.?  You see there’s a few more kids on the block besides Foursquare, and while it’s the most mature of the bunch, it’s still early days in the race for “Mayor of Checking In”. Facebook places will have the immediate mass user base when it finally launches in europe (I can almost feel that pain today). Gowalla already has a following and then there’s Brightkite & Whrrl. Also worth noting is VoucherCloud which doesn’t require any checkin’s at all, but does have a large take up amongst businesses in the UK.

Of course, it’s perfectly possible that you’ll use all of them. In which case, I’d recommend you take a look at It’s not an app in the sense that you download it and install it, but it’s an app in the sense that it’s an HTML5 front end to all those places you can ckeck in to. Pretty cool really. Teaser from Martin May on Vimeo.

Regardless of who wins that war, the micro (in fact I think that should probably be nano) blogging war is already over and well and truly won by twitter. Strangely though, I still know more people on Facebook (which I never visit any more) than I do on Twitter. My theory is twofold.

Firstly, the good old resistance to change which is the biggest problem for any new technology. People won’t go off and do something new if what they have is already doing what they want.  The problem for the technologists is to communicate to these people how what they’ve got doesn’t do all that they need.  The whole “checkin for a discount” trick, does exactly that. People will check in to get their free “whateveritis” so this is one way to really get the takeup moving. Twitter’s problem is, what’s the free thing ??  For me, the answer to that is, the free thing isn’t Facebook (for whom I have little trust, and less respect)

The other reason is people don’t get it. What is Twitter for? or What does it give me? are the questions potential new users ask. To be fair, I struggled with it for a while too, but once you find your feet (or tweet) then it becomes a much simpler place to be. It’s like the status update on Facebook but without all the farmville and other annoying uselessness getting in the way. If only I could persuade my Facebook friends to move, but perhaps Facebook Places will help me do that when it needlessly reveals everyone’s whereabouts automatically. Oh what fun we’ll have.

On that basis, it can only be a matter of time, before twitter has an official plugin for whichever check in tool wins. But there will be plenty more battles before this war is over. In the meantime, the more discounts and deals there are for us as end users, the better.

By the way.  My money is on FourSquare, but stranger things have happened… That horse becoming pope for one…. 3m45s onwards…

This post originally appeared here: Posterous

The day started very well with beautiful sunshine at 7am. While Mrs G dozed, I snuck out to make a cup of tea for her breakfast to open cards with.

Everyone loves Breakfast in Bed don’t they although full English was not to be today. I did rustle up some diced bacon in scrambled egg on toast when we finally got ourselves moving.

Lunch was at daughter’s pub with W&J and jolly excellent it was too. With sunshine like that and temperatures still unbearably high the air conditioning was essential and extremely well managed by James-A-Saurus…. This is an in joke apparently.

The pub in question is pretty much the last pub from both Cheltenham and Gloucester as you’re heading east out of the westcountry. It’s not actually the last one but it’s not far off. It nestles comfortably at the foot of a very green and treelined hill on a crossroads. One of the roads of the crossroads leads off towards Stroud in Gloucestershire.

The reason I mention it is because it provides a link to my second movie review of the weekend. “Cemetery Junction” was filmed in several locations but the most beautiful of these is without doubt the countryside surrounding Stroud, Gloucestershire. Obviously you need to have seen the film to know what I’m talking about, so for that reason alone it gets a “recommended”.

Set in the 1970’s it tells the story of three mates who live in the backwater village of Cemetery Junction (which I believe is supposed to be a suburb of Reading). One of them gets a job with an insurance firm and believes that this job is his future.

Originally it had the title of ‘The Man From the Pru’ but for reasons that become obvious during the story a name change was appropriate. It’s written and directed by Ricky Gervais & Stephen Merchant so you’d be forgiven for expecting a comedy (for that is what it is billed as) such as this to be fully loaded with the wit we’ve seen portrayed in ‘The Office’ and ‘Extras’.

Well, not a bit if it. Don’t get me’ wrong, it is funny and has some truly shaped and polished set pieces – I just think if you called it a Romantic Comedy Drama, you’d be much nearer the mark. The laughs that are there aren’t those belly rippers from their other works, they’re just more considered and evolved laughs if you will. A more mature humour. That said, the dinner table scenes with Mum, Dad and Gran have Gervais written through them like a stick of rock and great japes and fun they are too.

As a child of the 70’s I felt they captured it perfectly and while I enjoyed it, in places it felt a little lost. It stumbled around with a couple of the other relationships and could have been confused for a piece of Hollywood mush filmed in the UK, but it most definitely isn’t. It does have half a brain about it. For these reasons it’s a good 6.5 out of 10, rising to a 7 after thinking about it.

Mrs G’s review: “I’ve seen better, but I’ve seen worse”. Pretty sure that’s a 5 out if 10. Not bad for a birthday review.

And so to sleep, perchance to dream. Although sadly there wasn’t much hope of that given the huge amount of rainfall we experienced overnight. The incessant drumming on the skylights rivalled the neighbours Thrash Metal band in all but rhythmic ability. Luckily today is another day of rest for Mrs G and I, with shopping on the agenda after a bit of a Monday morning lie-in.

Next time I’m doing movies, (Which might be later today if this rain keeps up) you can expect a review of “The Eiger Sanction”. Have fun.