Archives for category: Wiltshire

Most of the time I really can’t agree with Scott’s sentiment in today’s Dilbert. Occasionally he’s bang on.

Yesterday, involved a trip to the local-ish Starfleet base for Badman and myself to sharpen up our sticks and make a plan for the next couple of months worth of playtime. When I put it like that, it seems like an age. “A couple of months” is forever… except we both know that in this case it’s about 30 seconds. Simply far too short an amount of time given the amount of work to be done. Still, we have a good team and many hands make like work. Christopher Robin’s direction is helpful and ultimately we all have the same goal in mind so I’m sure “it’ll be alright” – as I keep telling myself. As the song goes, “there may be trouble ahead”… so now it’s time to face the music and dance.

Aside from the worky bits, Badman’s chickens are providing an outstanding crop of eggs at the rock bottom price of a few cups of coffee. Awesome.


Mrs G has the whole week off. This all started because we’d half planned to have a week in Spain with A,B & B. As it turned out, it wasn’t to be and so instead we found ourselves at a funeral in Wiltshire on Monday.

Sadly, L’s father passed on and naturally we wanted to be there to support her. It was a fine military send off, which was both dignified and respectful and even included the theme tune from the Dambusters in a very RAF way. L’s brother M read the ever popular (can something be popular as part of a funeral? – seem like the wrong choice of words) “All is well” by Henry Scott Holland . It’s a very moving piece and I’ve included it here for those of you that haven’t heard it, or don’t recall it.

Death is nothing at all.
It does not count.
I have only slipped away into the next room.
Nothing has happened.
Everything remains exactly as it was.
I am I, and you are you, and the old life that we lived so fondly together is untouched, unchanged.
Whatever we were to each other, that we are still.
Call me by the old familiar name.
Speak of me in the easy way which you always used.
Put no difference into your tone.
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.
Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes that we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me, pray for me.
Let my name be ever the household word that it always was.
Let it be spoken without an effort, without the ghost of a shadow upon it.
Life means all that it ever meant.
It is the same as it ever was.
There is absolute and unbroken continuity.
What is this death but a negligible accident?
Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight?
I am but waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near, just round the corner.
All is well.
Nothing is hurt; nothing is lost.
One brief moment and all will be as it was before.
How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting when we meet again!

They also included John Gillespie Magee Jr’s “High Flight”, also known as the Pilot’s Poem, written during WWII. All very fitting words and sentiments.

After the sadness of the day came the celebration of life and it did involve rather a lot of imbibing. By Tuesday lunchtime, everything was back to normal, and our work there was done. Mrs G and I trundled back up country and I shuffled back to work only to find that not very much had changed at all.

Everything remains exactly as it was…. All is well.

And here we are at Thursday morning. Thursday!?!? Already!!?? Hell’s teeth, we’re running out of time fast and worse still, Monday is a bank holiday. It’s actually a very special bank holiday as it’s the one that usually contains the Cheese Rolling. Officially, once again it’s not to be. Of course, to a local (and while I’ve only been here for 10 years – I do feel like a local) it’s abhorrent to think that such a long standing tradition is ever likely to disappear.  You can read about the fight here: A very sad state of affairs.

Perhaps we’ll take a walk around the Cooper’s Hill Nature reserve anyway…..  just for the walk 🙂

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

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.

Firstly – and most importantly…. ‘ave some of that Algeria!!! I mean… Oh!… Bugger!

COME ON ENGLERLAND!!! What are you playing at? As I pointed out last night, as a team, they’ve made a very good case for reducing the premiership’s wage bill. And as for Rooney complaining about the fans booing….. Play some bloody football then! It’s one of this subjects that could really get me fired up, especially as not knowing anything about football, makes me perfectly qualified to rant and rave about it all I like. Seriously, how is it that these blokes, some of whom can afford to buy my house in cash every month with their wages, aren’t playing their hearts out for their country? In fact one of two of them could probably buy a couple of my houses every month, which is even worse!. These chosen few should realise just how lucky they are to playing in the most prestigious tournament of their sport in front of the entire planet and on behalf of their country. Instead they looked like they’d just got out of bed and would really rather be playing golf.

I was surmising that it was something to do with Fabio Cappello’s decision not to play Green in goal after last weeks cockup. Could it be that the rest of the team felt this was unfair and undermined their confidence after publicly supporting Green? If that is the case, this is not the forum to be debating the issue. The pitch is for the game, the dressing room is for the arguing. Look at the mess they’re in now. Stop your moaning. You’re big house will still be there when you get home, but right now you’ve got your work cut out – no pressure! Much! Not that I know anything about it all.

On the plus side, these local lads have done us proud with a suitable shouty anthem to join in with. (I notice the lead guitarist is particularly awake throughout the entire performance)

Now everything’s gone a bit Pete Tong. One more game in the group stages and we could be off to the big leagues, as long as we don’t fail miserably against Slovenia. We need a very strong and decisive win Get your Vuvuzela’s ready!.

I already mentioned the Vuvuzela app (which it turns out is now only one of 16 that do similar things), but I didn’t mention the World Cup apps. There are at least one hundred of them. App development is something that has gone completely ballistic since the launch of the iPhone and the App Store, not least because it’s something that’s not particularly difficult to do and can generate you huge sums of money. I can’t deny I’m tempted, but donating enough time to it has always been the show stopper thus far.

Of note this week, is IBM’s release of the Wimbledon App, a must have for anyone interested in following the tournament.

I now NEED the iOS 4 upgrade if for no other reason than to be able to manage this plethora of code that fills up my phone. Can’t see the wallpaper for the apps (to coin a phrase)

Oh yes and O2 have played a blinder. No new customers on the iPhone 4 until the end of July!! On the face of it, this is crazy talk, but it’s great news if you’re an O2 customer looking to upgrade. You might (and I stress might) actually get your hands on one. It’s also a pretty ballsy move on O2’s part. Great to see a company putting their existing customer base first and not focusing solely on new business. Having said that, their customer base is the largest section of the UK iPhone market thanks to their original exclusivity deal. Now that’s gone they’re maturing the customers that put them back on top.

On the subject of growing up and responsibilty, I saw this and yet again nearly died laughing.

As a result you really must go and read this: Hyperbole and a Half

Finally, it’s father’s day this weekend, so Mrs G and I are off down to Wiltshire for the day to see Mr Ball senior and a spot of pub lunch. Daughter’s back to work and son’s @rse will no doubt be stuck to the sofa. He’s mountain biking tomorrow though – so I suppose we can let him off.

Come on Sunshine! Breakthrough and give us a summer of roaring lions!! Enjoy.

PS: As a taster for the fun that awaits us next week I just want to share a quote with you from Blogger Jeremy Rowe:

VAT is the worst tax of all. It gives the impression of fairness (no one is exempt, the more you spend the more you pay in tax) yet disproportionately punishes the poorest because they naturally spend a higher proportion of their income (VAT accounts for 13.6% of the gross household income for the poorest 10%, compared to 4.1% for the wealthiest 10%). In addition the wealthy can afford to have their accountants play with the books and claim large chunks of VAT back from the taxman – those on the minimum wage cannot.

Fun times!

Started catching up with some of our recorded telly last night and in particular QI. This is clearly one of the more impotant pieces of television that the BBC produce. Not only is it hosted by national treasure and king of Twitter, Mr Stephen Fry but it also employs a bunch of elves who compile all the “Quite Interesting” bits and bobs that it covers. One of these elves lives in the western part of the UK (I like him already – excellent taste in geography) and at the tail end of last year wrote a book which I’m lucky enough to have a copy of. Secret Britain by (the elf that is) Justin Pollard. He’s written at least 5 other history related books but this one is clearly the British bits they left out of the show plus lots of bits they left in. Either way, it’s great fun.

A couple of highlights for me include The city of Burlington in Wiltshire, a place I’ve been lucky enough to visit, the Allen brothers book, Vestiarium Scoticum and the lost church of St Laurence in Bradford-on-Avon which is a town close to my heart.

All three of these are deserving of a blog entry each of their own, but I’ll leave that to the hard work of others who have gone before me. You don’t have a blog and dlark yourself (dlark is used here in it’s truest sense meaning ‘a made up word to make a well known phrase fit around the word blog’).

However, of these three I feel it’s only right that I regale you with my tale of the visit to the city of Burlington because it really is a ‘special’ place in our countries history.

In 1990 or thereabouts, I moved to Corsham in Wiltshire. It’s about a dozen or so miles to the East of Bath. A small town with a pretty little high street which has appeared in many a Sunday night period drama on the BBC dressed as a non-descript 18th or 19th century village. All appears normal about the town save for the wild peacocks (which can be a bit disconcerting the first time you find one in your garden screeching at 3am) and the military base just to the South of the town. Rumours abound over the purpose of the site. Some say it’s where the British UFO collection is kept, others that it’s an inland Naval store (which it probably was) but the truth is far more interesting and there is a beautiful rumor attached to the facts to.

If you’ve ever been to London and walked along the Mall from Buckingham Palace down to Trafalgar square you almost certainly won’t have noticed the ivy clad square buliding on the right of the Mall just before you reach Admiralty Arch. Those of you with a keen eye will have seen the complex set of radio masts on the roof of the building behind this odd block. Clearly this is where Whitehall keep their global communications for managing James Bond and the other double O’s. Probably.

Well the story goes that this block houses the lift gear at the top of a shaft that leads to a ‘forgotten’ tube station (there are many, of which Aldwych is one). This tube station services HRH and the (self) important people from Whitehall in the event of Global Thermo Neuclear War. The line runs out towards Paddington where it joins the main East/West M4 corridor line that happens to run through (you guessed it) Corsham. The next village along is Box, home of Peter Gabriel and Brunel’s masterpiece that is Box Tunnel. Inside Box tunel there’s a siding for trains to leave the main line and pull into Burlington city Station.

Bath is built from local stone (for local people – nothing for you here) which was quarried out underneath Melksham, Atworth, Corsham and Box. This has left a huge network of underground caverns which the MoD have made much use of over the years. So from the tunnel in box it’s a short underground ride through Burlington to (and this is the bit that has only recently become public) “The Royal Bunker” which is really what’s at the military base.

I haven’t seen inside the bunker (there’s picture online I expect) and I’ve not seen the pub in Burlington (yes there really is a pub down there) but I have seen some of the stores and other old parts of Burlington that were sold off in the later 90’s. It’s not cold and damp as you might suspect, but dry and well lit. It’s also enormous and when I say enormous I don’t mean huge, I mean massive in a mind boggling sort of way. There are streets (you have to have a method to find your way around) which look like long corridors, paved like small roads for the electric trucks to get around. Monster air conditioning units stand rusting at a couple of points, which would have been used to recycle the noxious gassed from above.

Chances are you’ve either drank wine or eaten mushrooms from down there as it’s the home of the largest wine cellar in europe (Octavium) housing 650,000 crates of wine worth an estimated £1bn and a mushroom farm that I believe services many of our national supermarkets. It is an amazing thing to see and should you ever get the opportunity, I recommend it.

So that’s my QI for today most of which is fact, I’m off to sample the vino. Toodle-pip!