Monday, October 30, 2006

Name that Moon in one

OK. Here's a challenge. The moon was lighting up the sky early this evening and temptingly sitting in view from the 'back gard' so I got the old telescope out to have a quick peek. The moon is in its 'first quarter'. When the moon has a shadow like it does now it seems to accentuate the features close to the shadow. And at this point in the moons phases a very large crater at the top stands out.

So the challenge is name that crater.

My pic is not that great ...again!. But it is clear enough.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Zendens shirt

I went to Akkies Bar in Maastricht last night which is next door to ex-Boro Boudewijn Zenden's families' gym. Proudly standing behind the bar was a Boro shirt signed by Zenden. I had been told by someone about a year ago that the shirt had been replaced by a Liverpool shirt, but following Mr Zenden's lack of appearances the management have decided to put the Boro one up again.

Bench Sitting Fetish

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Out in the sticks

Yesterday I had probably the hardest breakdown location in 2 years of working when a chummy yorkshireman rang in with a location near darlo. After asking me where I was he was not too convinced I would find him. "Eye up lad they have ney idee". I tried to convince him by telling him I knew the NYork Moors quite well.

Our man in distress had been picking mushrooms. And a generous lady had brought him back to his house leaving the car in the back and beyond. "Oh it t'was vey kind lark, but she shuddna werry coz im arnly an awl baldy gadgy , ney harm."

After the original distress he started to explain where he was. But it wasn't that easy.

He had been living in the area a long time and had only just found this farm track himself. After 10 minutes I thought i had it. I asked him if he would mind meeting the technician up there....

Only 30 minutes from Darlo

"Nee lad we'll make a dahy of it . Aye'll tahk a picnic liykh and we can hav a game of footy"

Very comic for a 70 yr awld gadge. Anyway I was a bit concerned we would find him so I asked the tech to go and pick him up from him house instead. And after arriving at the so called broken down vehicle it turns out that it wasn't broken down at all. He didn't know how to use the manual key in his electronic key fob and it would have started if he had use it.

As he said "It's a nice day for a trip up the moors like". And so it was for both of them.

After sending the tech into no-mans land (An Army firing range) I was curious to see this so called 'middle of nowhere'. Live local shows it is a bit barren up there. I don't know what the MOD are doing up ther but the land looks a little strange. Tank tracks maybe?, Not the best place to be picking mushrooms.

Mushrooms are not that expensive at Darligtons Morrisons Supermarket.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Following the Ape's blog yesterday, it is not the Brits who are the biggest abusers. Its the Yanks who leave all their TV's on standby. Doesn't help that their fridges needs a small nuclear reactor for power either.

Nice to see that Afghanistan are doing their bit for World conservation

Monday, October 23, 2006

World Darts Event

On Saturday and Sunday I waddled off down to the MECC round the corner to watch some arrars. It was tremendous fun and got to see, talk to and even play some of the big darts stars.

The Qualifying rounds were played on a lanes of darts boards (100 of them). And you could get very close to the action. Most of the fans wanted to follow Jelle Klaasen and Michael van Gerwen, who were playing together in the doubles. So if you wanted to watch others you get get a good view.

Tony Eccles from the 'Boro' and his partner Pieter Otten were drawn against Jelle and Micheal in the last 16 and I saw them knock out the two Dutch upstarts. I got some funny looks from the locals when I was cheering them on.

It was quite bizzare to see how the players are treated. They get treated like pop stars. Being chased for fotos and signatures.

I managed to give Pieter Otten a game later on when he wanted to practise and as the organisers had removed all the marker pens I taught him 'Round the Clock'. He got to 14 before he missed a number. Needless to say I lost and made my excuses that i was going to watch the Final before further humiliation.

Bob ' the Bear' Taylor takes 20 mins to get to the bar under a constant barage of kiddies 'Pick me up Bob!!!!'

Ted 'the Count' Hankey and John 'Boy' Walton won the doubles competition. The first day there was quite a few 'cock-ups' and the big screens weren't even working for the podium matches at the end. And it's not that easy to see if you hit the double when your 100 metres away.

Before I left I had an embarrasing moment with Mervyn King.
me: "Hey Good win Ted" (thinking he was Ted Hankey)
Merv: "You What?!?" ( I then reaslised who it was)
me: "Oh errmm don't you remember me?, we met once in the embassy?"
Merv: "Oh no sorry I don't remember"
me: "Oh never mind seeya"

On Sunday we arrived a bit later and missed all the qualifying. We found out later that a lot of the big names had gone out. Hankey lost to some unknown int he first round as did Tony O'Shea.

For the Semis Eurosport had arrived and it was being broadcast live. so we had to go through the rigmarole of a 'warm up man' who made sure we waved the 180 signs at the right times and wrote 'Hello Mum' on the back etc.
The Semis line up was Mervyn King v Niels de Ruiter and Michael van Gerwen v John 'Boy' Walton. King and Gerwen won and following the ladies final the crowd was getting quite excited about seeing Gerwen take on King.

Anastasia Dobromyslova lost to Carla Molema in the ladies final

King is not the most popular darter, especially in Holland. Gerwen walked the final much to King's disgust. At one point he even started doing impressions of Gerwen 'flycatchin' to the camera, and was seen to mouth 'f%&*$ing p$%&k' when Gerwen went to get a glass of water. Talk about sore loser.

Mighty Mike walks away with the cheque for 10,000 Euros.

On the way home I passed a few darts players having a chat, getting some fresh air. Tony Eccles, Tony O'Shea, Gary Anderson and Bob Taylor. Darts seems to be very 'cliquey'. They have little gangs like this lot. The Northerners. So I had a smoke with them and discussed how bad the organisation of the events was. Tony O'Shea told me that it wasn't at all bad for a first time. "You should see the Finland Open. F*&^ing Hopeless". And it seems Tony was more miffed off at having to sit through the Rene Froger concert on Saturday night. 'My word, he was shit!'

Silverback and Rene are said to be no longer on speaking terms

The whole event will be re-run on Eurosport 2 tonight at 21:30

Friday, October 20, 2006

Off Roading it

At work today I was treated to a test drive in the new GL-Class Mercedes. On the trip we did a bit off road to show the fantastic versatility of the vehicle's suspension, ride height and handling that is essential for an off road vehicle.

We let the car do it's stuff on its own as it descended a 45% hill on an angle at 6 km/h. You could hear all the systems jumping into action, while the driver had no feet on any pedals. The car can raise up 25cm in ride height. It can ascend a steep slope at full revs but will compensate for your bad driving ability and suppress your over-zealous acceleration which would produce wheel spin.

All round a great car. And only 90,000 Euros an absolute bargain . And worth it for Mr and Mrs Urquhart when they take the kiddies around the corner to school in Enfield.

GL 320 CDI Euros 90.800
GL 420 CDI Euros 116.800
GL 450 Euros 112.900
GL 500 Euros 124.600

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The Orionids are coming

"Coming at yah like Cleopatrah!"

The Orionids meteor showers. Friday night (20th) if you have clear skies you may see many shooting stars if you look to the sky. Up to max of 30 per hour.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Darts decends on Maastricht

Next weekend a huge darts event is going to be held in Maastricht. the 1st time such an event has taken place. This is testemant to the popularity of the sport here in Holland.
The World Darts Event will be hosted by the MECC (Maastricht Expo and Conf Centre) on a 20,000m² floor. As well as darts there will be plenty to see and do, and some major sponsors have enabled a huge prize fund of 46,000 Euros.

Merecedes-Benz neighbour 'MECC'

One of the sponsors, who include, Meerssen Photo Shop, Putters Undertakers, is Passie Magazine who by coincidence I supplied with 6,000 sets of darts flights for them and their sister publication Chick Magazine. (Don't open those links at work!)

Quote from Chick site: "Two girls loving one man or two men pleasing one single lady: It is always double the fun!" - A Quality Publication

The actual darts competiton is open to anyone and gives you the chance to play the likes of Ted 'the Count' Hankey, Gary Anderson, Tony 'the Viper' Eccles, Albertino Essers, Paul 'Crocodile Dundee' Hoogan, Mervyn 'the twat' King, Jelle Klaasen (Embassy Champion 2006) and many more.

Stockton born tony Eccles will be the man to beat from the UK on Sunday

One player who will be there is 17yr old Mike van der Gerwen, who today became the youngest ever winner of a major tournament, winning the World Masters. 'Mighty Mike' or the 'Flycatcher' as I prefer to call him is an extroidanery talent, who seems to show no fear playing live on television against the best darters in the world. So at the moment we have a Dutch world champion 21yr old Jelle Klaasen, and 17yr old Dutch Masters champion. Fellow 'Nederlander' Francis Hoenselaar also took the ladies title in Bridlington yesterday.

Michael Van Gerwen 'catching flies' again

While I was playing competition darts here I predicted that before 2010's decade starts the Dutch would be dominating darts. Ray Stubbs interviewed darting legend Bobby George after van Gerwen's win and asked why the Dutch are doing so well at darts. Bobby ever the intellectual he is, said it is because the Government funds kids to play darts in Holland and they practise it at school.

While this is the absolute truth. I would disagree with the asteemed Mr George and say that it is more to do with the fact that most employers here in Holland insist on at least 2 darting trophies to be listed on a CV before they will consider employing, and also that throughout history in Dutch conflicts the dart has been the weapon of choice.

Bobby George meets his arch enemy Bob the builder. Luvvly Chubbly.

The simple reason is Raymond van Barneveld inspired an entire country to step up to the 'Ochey' in 1998 when he was the first non-British darts player to win the Embassy Trophy.

So next weekend the general public get a chance to play some 'large' darts players. Among the hopefuls are two players who were my team mates in the 'Bensons 1' team I captained. Victor Dassen and Henk Mik. 10,000 Euros is up for grabs for the winner of the competition.

As an extra treat the event has an after-party where
Rene Froger will be performing.

Rene Froger, The David Hasselhof of the lowlands

Friday, October 13, 2006

Making Sloe Gin

Today I bought the Gin that will be added to the Sloes from Sunday to make the batch of 'Sloe gin', that will be used to make the 'Sloe Slurps', invented by my Mother, on her forthcoming trip to the Netherlands in November.

Knowledgable people may comment here that Sloe Gin takes three months to make. Correct, but we may be making a few short-cuts.

So the Gin I selected is not actually a Gin but a dutch 'Jenever'. 'Boomsa Pure Graan'. Distilled in Leeuwaarden.

Boomsma have their hands in Glen Talloch's kilt by the looks of it from their website

Gin in the shopping bag, I bought a pickling jar, and my assistant duely pricked the sloes (which had been kept in the freezer for 5 days to simulate the first frost of Winter). The implement used was a wooden toothpick. Fokelore has it that a fork should never be used to prick the sloes unless it is silver. The 'Jenever' was added and 200g of sugar and mix and restin a cool dry place.

The first 2 weeks the jar should be turned each day, then each week until 3 months have passed and a ruby red 'Sloe Gin' will be produced. As we only have 1 month the tactic will be to shake the bugger instead of turning it. Shake me up Judy!

Ooh my Bowns!

Wikpedia says that it is alright to discard the sloes to a compost heap once the liquor is ready. I quote "putting them on your
compost heap is good as it gives the blackbirds and robins an unusual thrill in the middle of winter - it does not appear to harm them" Me thinks Bill Oddie and Kate Humble would not be too impressed.

Look they can't fly straight. Another Sloe Slurp Kate?

If you search on Sloe Gin cocktails you will find many on the net but the 'Sloe Slurp', invented by my Mother is a simple beast. This will be the first 'Sloe Slurp' ever to be made using a Dutch Jenever as I will stake my whole litre that sis has used a traditional London Dry. You traditionalist you! (p.s we have to compare them in a pre-dinner aperatif tasting)

1 measure Sloe Gin
4 measures Soda Water

Slurp away.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

The Eigth Hole

This was the most difficult hole I have ever played in golf.

Two dutch old dudes were following me in their buggy, chasing me round a long course, said to me after my first two attempts, "hey did we hear the fishies?" (this was because my balls entered the water)


So I walked down to the point where you could chip on to the green ( after a few failed attempts) and waited at the next tee to see the two 'buggy boys' both sink their balls into the lake (twice).

It is obviously a 'bastard' hole coz they walked straight past the point where you can regain your golf 'prowess'.

It is very interesting playing golf in Holland as they presume for some reason it is an 'elite' sport.
For instance a colleague of mine said that she needed to spend 1/3 of her income for the next 12 months to pass the exams to be able to play golf in Holland and to be a member of her local club this year. It came to 3,000 Euros.

I love walking around they so called elite places, blagging my way on with my UK Handicap card and hitting a sweet drive in front of people who have spent thousands in leasons being told they can't play golf until they have a certificate to do so.

What a load of old bollocks!!!!!!

Golf courses in Holland are mainly full of old todgers who can't play very well, irritated at young'uns who are getting in the way of what they conside a sport for the retired person. And the Dutch wonder why they don't have many good professionals.

For once the UK got it right! Let anyone play a sport and you might find someone good at it. Make it as difficult as possible to play a sport and for sure you will not.

So here is the eighth hole I could have showed you the GWB examination paper instead which lets you play golf in Holland but unfortunately it is 300 pages long.

For once the lesson is don't think too much about something just do it.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Gathering Sloes

With hunting out of my system it is time for the gathering. And we visited the Eijsderbeemden
to gather sloes. Sloe is the fruit of the blackthorn tree 'Prunus spinosa' and of the prune family.
It makes a tasty apertif called the 'sloe slurp'.

To make the drink you need to bath the sloes in generous amounts of gin until the gin takes on the flavour of the sloes add a bit of sugar and 3 months later Bobs your uncle.


Saturday, October 07, 2006

Hunter's Moon

Tonight the moon is full and is known as 'the Hunter's moon' or sometimes 'the blood moon'. It is the first full moon following the 'Harvest Moon' and was named as it was a good night to go hunting by the light of the moon.

Moon Rises @ 17:57hrs it appears in the South
Max Altitude is 48° @ 00:19hrs
Diameter 33.33'
Distance from Earth 358,507 km

There is a movie called Hunter's Moon in 'post-production at the moment -
'The story of four young couples drawn to the remote dunes for off-roading
in their extreme machines. But the outing turns into a night of terror when
they are attacked by the Catcher, a skilled and brutal hunter of human specimens
for alien science. Sounds like one to miss!

Hunter's moon taken by my new telescope with a digital camera through the lens viewer @ 21:15 07/10/2006 over Maastricht The Netherlands

Views from Google Earth #3

A small village 'Wittem' in South Limburg made the front pages this morning because of Google Earth. It seems google earth were informed by the Dutch Ministry of Defense that Wittem is an area of national security and therefore a terroism target.

A young resident of Wittem made the discovery when he was trying to show his Father the tiny village on his computer. 'Aerosat' is the company responsible for adding the blocks to blur the visibility of the satellite imagery. Seems that there was a miscommunication between the Minstry of Defence and the company as to the goings on in Wittem. They have promised Wittem will soon be restored to the map.

In the meantime here it is in it's blurry glory....

The Klooster (Monastery) in Wittem was used as a Nazi HQ during WWII

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Where is the nearest local kind sir?

Following the 'lesbian nun' incident in the 7th century, Middlesbrough Borough Councilwas seriously worried about Nunthorpe's reputation. A rumour that the Nuns were preparing to open a liscensed 'knocking shop' forced the council to take action in 695 AD the following announcement was made by Middlesbrough Borough Borough Council.

"From this day no liscensed premises may operate in the ward of 'Nunthorpe' without prior permission from
the borough borough council. No exception shall be made unless the premise in question can provide quoit throwing facilities and play a jolly nice game of cricket. And no lesbian nuns!

1: Pied Piper
2: Norman Conquest
3: Cross Keys
4: Southern Cross
5: Brunton Arms
6: The Cricket Club
7: Centre of Nunthorpe

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Views from virtual Earth part #1

Google Earth is pap outside the centre of Middlesbrough, but there is an alternative powered by BG himself. 'Live Local' So here is Nunthorpe, aka 'Naughty Nunthorpe' or 'Barless'. Later in this blog i will be trying to resolve the argument ...... "where is the closest pub to Nunthorpe?"

Nunthorpe was named so because in the early 6th century a group of Catholic Nuns settled there to flee the Viking tribe of Orme who had just overthrown a nearby settlement, now known as Ormesby. The nickname that is now used 'naughty Nunthorpe' is said to come from the fact that the Nuns would charge the local 'Nunthorpe' village men tuppence ha'penny for a lesbian floordance show when their turnip crop failed in the mid 7th century.

Sunday, October 01, 2006


I always fancied the idea of buying a telescope but usually decided not to as they were too expensive if you want a decent one and I'd probably end up not using it. So when i was in the local DIY shop and saw one on special offer for 39.95Euros, the price-tag kind of made up my mind.

It is a refractor telescope (focal length 700mm), looks a bit like the one below. I don't know how they manage to retail them at such a low price as these scopes sell at normally 500 and more.
But it works so who cares.

I put the beast together last night, which was more difficult than i expected as it had about 50 parts and Jackson Opticals are definitely not a UK or USA outfit as the instrucions were a little bit dodgily translated....

example: "There lies a mistake conception that it will be better if the magnification is bigger"

The last part of the instruction was to align the viewfinder and the main telescope accurately. So I focused it on a nearby car number plate and used that to sychronise the two.

The car was about nearly a 100m away and I was shocked to be able to read the small lettering from the selling garage under the registration number. I tried taking a photograph to show it but unfortunately it is not as clear as what you could see.

Anyway I am now looking forward to the next full moon and seeing if I can see Armstrongs footprints.