Lovely York

Only went to York for little over a day, but it was great. Think I should make it an annual event for me birthday - it's past the summer holidays and before people invade the place on the run up to Christmas.

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It is a Mecca for real ale enthusiasts with countless ale pubs within the famous walls. Clearly they are not really countless but probably 70 or so (that's a guess - there were 55 ale pubs a few years back and more bars have opened since).

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The day started with the helping hand of a Liverpool victory at Wembley against Spurs. Can't be bad. Last year when we lost to them in Game 9 we had 13 points, this time up we've played 5 and have 15 points. Bloody excellent.

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Had a lovely load of beers across countless (really this time as I can't recall them all) York pubs with several mates and it all ended up without any of us dancing on tables, falling over, falling asleep in the corner or any other embarrassing stuff - not even a kebab (though I did have a battered sausage with chips and neon green mushy peas - yum!).

Some of the pubs we got to that I do remember the name of included in no particular order: Brew York; House of Trembling Madness; Blue Bell; Hop (Ossett tap); Duke of York; the Wonky Donkey (aka the Three-Legged Mare); Old Starre Inn; Old White Swan. All nice pubs set in a beautiful and interesting city. Lovely stuff.
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Haven't Changed A Bit

Well it's this chap's birthday weekend. I don't normally do much special on my birthday and certainly not parties since I was a kid. A couple of years ago I went to York on me tod and went to about 20 pubs over two days. Now that was pretty much ideal. Anyway this year it's York again but with a few mates. Should be good. Very good. Got to get to York early to get ensconced in the first Sky real ale pub we can find - for it's Spurs v Liverpool at 12:30. Really hope Liverpool can start the day off with a bang. Just for me of course.
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Expect many pictures of pubs and beers on Twitter - until the battery dies on me phone.

Haven't changed a bit:


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Reviews, Reviewing and Deleting

Had feedback from two of the Flash Dogs on Fergie Time and have made the decision to finish it based on their comments. Thanks to those guys for their time. Once I've finished it I will have to develop the tightest disclaimer ever to protect my ass if the story is ever to be released to the wild (look these guys are real, they're obviously in a parallel universe very close to own but clearly not our own etc).

And to repay the grace of these Flash Dogs I've volunteered to review a book from another Flash Dog. The Dogs are really producing stuff right now, aren't they?

Memory

Talking of reviewing I'm getting around to going through the photographs on my computer, the damn things are clogging it up. I had over 54k photos on it, and you can see above the effect on my Hard Drive. Have deleted 2k today, but I'll need to get on top of it and aim to at least knock a third off. I mean I can't even need 30k photos can I? The 52k photos apparently equates to 195GB. It'll take ages to go through it. If I can knock it down to 150GB in the first instance I'll have doubled the free space on the HD so it's got to be worth the time.

Reading Challenge 9

With respect to reading I've managed to catch up with a few books over the last four weeks and have gone from 6 to 3 books behind schedule so maybe I could achieve my original goal. That would require me to read about a book a week or more. That could be affected of course by reviewing and writing myself and maybe NaNo if I chose to go for it. Right now I'd be happy with reading 32 or so probably. After finishing another Pratchett yesterday I've moved on to another classic writerer with a Philip K. Dick, another Oxfam buy - 'Confessions of a Crap Artist'.
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The Seagull

Today's #VSS365 was #Control so I wrote a wee bit of non-fiction for it referring to this amazing bit of space memorabilia I saw in Karaganda, Kazakhstan:


Back in the early 2000s I did some work on a project in Kazakhstan. It was the cold time of year. They only really have summer and winter on the steppe there. An autumn wardrobe or a spring catalogue would be the biggest of wastes there. Day time temperatures were circa -40C. But to be fair once it's below -20C anything lower doesn't really make much of a difference. If you're out in it and the wind can get to your skin then it feels like razor blades. Moral of the story. Stay in and out of the wind as much as possible.

Anyways, at one point I was in a city called Karaganda in the middle of Kazakhstan. It's an old coal mining area. In fact the original centre of the city has been destroyed following the collapse of the shallow workings there - it really is a bizarre sight. The hotel I was staying in was a grand affair. But no one goes to Karaganda and the only people there were us from the project.

You couldn't make some of this shit up, so I won't. There were about seven different salads on the menu. All consisted of tomato and cucumber and it seemed that the seven salads involved slicing the two ingredients in different creative ways. On the first night we were asked what drinks we would like with our meal. We all chose beer. The two waiters and then a third person came into the corner as they had a conflab. They came back. 'How many beers will you be wanting during and after the meal?' I think we settled around five or so. 'Okay, can you pay up front for that?' Yep, they had no beer and no money to buy any. Some poor bastard had to go out in the freezing night to get us beer (baring in mind it was -40 day time, it probably was at night too).

When the beer came it was warm. Couldn't chuffing believe it. They said the fridge in the hotel wasn't working very well (which was a worry for any meat based products but was of more concern re the beer). One guy pointed out that maybe they could just fill a couple of buckets with snow and that would do the job. They did, it did.

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Karaganda is in the area of Kazakhstan of the Soviet space base, where the rockets have been sending up satellites and spacemen since the 1950s. And not just men but space women too. The first woman in space was Valentina Tereshkova who in June 1963 went up from here in Vostok 6 for 71 hours and circled the earth 48 times. The Soviets call sign for her on the flight was Seagull (Chaika) and that was what our hotel was called.

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What was amazing when I asked about the name at reception was that the space pod that she returned to earth in was in the garden of the hotel. I eventually went to look for myself and ... yep, there it was decaying away. It was tiny from the outside, but when you looked in my god, it was hard to believe any person actually fitted inside it yet alone encircled the earth in the thing. There also appeared to be four Bakelite controls on it. All very Steampunk.

And below the whole thing was a pile of asbestos which was dripping from it. I really hope that by now it has been brought into a museum and/or restored and protected. Here's to the amazing seagull anyway, I'll drink a warm beer to her.



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Haircut 100 or well, almost 50

Strange week for me this one. There was a Liverpool CAMRA trip to Derby and I chose not to go. I am still pissed off with them that they've gone to a booking system which requires you to purchase a ticket on EventBrite in advance rather than just telling them that 'Yeah, I'll be there on the next trip' and then paying them on the day. It really does disenfranchise some of the older customers who never, and don't want to, buy things over the internet. Ho hum.

So I was off on Friday instead of Saturday. And I went for my bi-annual haircut (ok, not quite that bad) and then went to Southport to see me dad for a chat and a couple of pints in the always excellent Tap & Bottles. The beer was excellent there as always but the day was marred by some bad news. It's not for this place though.

The haircut was speedy and spot on. I do like these efficient Turks. A mother coming in with her daughter mid-haircut proclaiming loudly 'Can someone do my daughter's nose, please?' was a new one on me. By the time I left with my smart new cut the young girl was sat in the window with two long sticks up her nostrils. Like I said, a new one on me.

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I'd finished reading the excellent 'Sapiens' by Yuval Noah Harari in the morning and started on David Landford's book about Josh Kirby's art 'The Cosmic Cornucopia'. I love Terry Pratchett's Discworld series and I love the covers that go with them - especially the Kirby ones. I was lucky enough to go to the Kirby exhibition at the Walker Art Gallery a few yers ago. Brilliant stuff. Anyway the haircut was quick and left me time to pop into Henry Bohn's second hand bookshop in search of SF or a Pratchett. There was less SF there than usual is there and no Terry Pratchett at all. So I walked downstairs disappointed, only to see a wee bookcase on the stairs which only had TP books in it. Result! Or was it? As I've not many left to get. I ended up consulting my own website to see my list of TP books before confirming that there was one there that I don't have on my shelf: 'Mort'

Mort

I knew I'd read it. But I've no idea where it's gone (or who has not returned it). Anyway, £2 later I've one less Pratchett to complete my set. In fact I've now just got six to get, namely:

  • Soul Music
  • Witches Abroad
  • The Fifth Elephant
  • The Last Hero
  • The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents
  • The Wee Free Men

I didn't have to get too far into Mort to confirm I had read it, for on page one it has my favourite Pratchetism ever, which I've paraphrased myself often:

'Scientists have calculated that the chance of anything so patently absurd actually existing are millions to one.

But magicians have calculated that million to one chances crop up nine times out of ten.'


I mean, come on. That is awesome, and completely right. Probably.



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Continuing CSOTD2

Class Song of the Day has continued unabated - it's a good job I like a lot of bands. With the latest being the wonderful Canadian band Barenaked Ladies who consistently record fab albums and are great live - although I last saw them many moons ago when they played in the Royal Court, Liverpool (so I guess that would be mid-1990s!).

Of all the bands and singers I've had so far in Year 2 there are only the Beatles and Warren Zevon who I haven't/can't seen live (although I did see Paul McCartney when he played Anfield in 2008).

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The bands coming over the coming months will include a lot more bands that I haven't seen because I can't be everywhere or every-when.

It's my birthday week next week and whilst the No.1 when I was born was the Beatles 'Hey Jude' I won't be having the Beatles again next week, but I do have it all set up with one of my favourite bands from when I was a youngster. But that's next week and you'll have to wait to see who they are. In the meantime enjoy the songs from the Barenaked Ladies and all the other bands above with links on the CSOTD2 page.
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Owl Canyon Comp

Results for the Owl Canyon Hackathon came through last night and I was unsurprised not to be on the shortlist of 24.

To be fair the way in which I completed it, writing a third of it from about midnight on the day of entry, it was to be expected. Of course that is not to say I'm not disappointed. Nothing wrong with expecting rushed genius.

Next time though I am going to finish before the last hour of acceptance.

The winning three writers were:

FIRST PLACE: "The Biggest Salmon Barbecue in the Galaxy" by David Greenson
SECOND PLACE: "Half of What You See" by Lorain Urban
THIRD PLACE: "Birds of a Feather" by Julie Hall

Congratulations to the winners and all those shortlisted and thanks too to Owl Canyon for the competition.

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Port Amlwch and Parys Mountain

Was delivering in Llanfairfechan and a few drops in Bangor, Caernarfon and Holyhead today. Finished at a decent time so thought I'd take a wee detour on the way home and turned to the north east of Anglesey to go to Port Amlwch. I'd seen the port on an episode of Coast and thought it looked pretty interesting. It's actually the northern most town in Wales and damn interesting historically too. The town of Amlwch was at one stage the second biggest town in Wales when the adjacent Parys Mountain was at its peak. Parys Mountain stands out like a blister on the countryside scarred by the mining of copper there in the 18th and 19th centuries. It was once the biggest copper mine in the world, which is pretty impressive for a little ole Anglesey.

The port was pretty. Looks very tidal. Didn't seem that full of boats but then again it's very narrow over much of its length. I don't know nothing about boats so I can say nothing about them - though I'm pretty sure some were fishing boats. On the port side there was a museum on the 'Copper Kingdom' which is the kinda place I'd like to have visited as an enthusiastic geology loving kid. But it wasn't for today.

There were two nice looking pubs by the car park for the port both of which had nice Liverpool connotations with the Adelphi Vaults opposite to the Liverpool Arms. Apparently the former does real ale but the latter does not. The Adelphi also had a nice paint job.

Anyway here are a few photos.

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Parys Mountain

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Amlwch Port

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Amlwch Port


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Amlwch Port

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Amlwch Port

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Amlwch Port

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Amlwch Port

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Liverpool Arms, Amlwch Port

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Adelphi Vaults, Amlwch Port

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Liverpool Arms and Adelphi Vaults, Amlwch Port



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