Sunday, December 23, 2007

Be Prepared

Still have to buy some Christmas presents this year and will have to face the mad rush of underprepared blokes in the city. But how about this for preperation. For Christmas 1982 and my 13th birthday my Father bought me a Diamond Back Silver Streak II from Armstrong cycles in Middlesbrough 22/24 Princes Road. He left a deposit on it (No! A monetary deposit!) on the 30th October and it was delivered and promptly hidden at Grandad's house on the 13th December.

The Diamond Back Silver Streak II - RAD!

Monday, December 10, 2007


Kylie was on German TV yesterday on the ZDF show Wetten Dass.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Thunderstorm, (TS)

Ever wondered what happens when a thunderstorm travels over an airport. Here is a clip from the approx 150 aircraft that fly into the Memphis Airport Fed-Ex hub every early morning in about 2 hours whilst a thunderstorm is approaching.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Famous People?

Whilst walking around my 'route de poste' this week I was starting to get annoyed by the names of the streets. The area I deliver to has many streets named after people. But I realised that I didn't know who any of them were.

Antonius Bieleveltstraat
Franciscus Romanusweg
Karel de Vogelstraat
Gebroeders Hermansstraat
Louis Loyensstraat
Matthias Wijnandstraat
Theodoor Schaepkensstraat
Valentijn Clotsstraat
Antoon Lipkensstraat

So 9 names and no clue who one of them is.

Time to do something about it;

Antonius Bielevelt

born in Maastricht in 1576, Bielevelt was an artist. Some of his works can be found in churches in Florence and his materpiece 'The Holy Family' hangs in the Uffici Gallery in Florence.

The Holy Family by Antonius Bielevelt 1644

Franciscus Romanus

born Gent (Belgium) Mar 23rd 1647, Romanus was a laypreacher and architect. He restored the 'Dominican' church in Maastricht and rebuilt the first arch of the Maas Bridge.
In 1865 he went to Paris to restore the Pont Neuf bridge over the Seine, he was also involved with the restoration of Ront Royale over the Seine.
Karel de Vogel
Also an artist born in Maastricht in 1663. He worked mostly in Rome and painted mainly flowers which earned him his Italian name 'Carlo del Fiore'. A lot of his works can be seen in German Museums.
Gebroeders Hermans
The brothers Hermans; Lodewijk and Franciscus Bernadus born both in Maastricht 1750 and 1745 respectively. Both artists. Lodewijk painted still-life, mostly flowers and fruit. In the state archives in Maastricht 8 paintings recovered from the the St. Nicholas Church can be found.
Frank was a art teacher in the Central Latin school of art in Masstricht, where he was well known as an historical artist.
Louis Loyens
Lodewijk (Louis for short) born 1689 in Maastricht, was a magistrate and clerk of the court in Liege. He put together the Chronicals of Maastricht from which all future chronicles were formed.
Matthias Wijnand
born in Maastricht in 1643, Matthias was Canon for the 'St. Servaas' capital. Wijnand left all his worldy goods to the Maastricht students studying Philosophy and Theology in Leuven. This set a precedent and later the Mayor and Priests of the St. Matthias and St. Servaas Churches gave out study finances in honour of his gesture.
Theodoor Schaepkens
born in Maastricht 1810, Theo was also an artist. Scholar of the school for artists in Maastricht, later the Antwerp art academy and later in Italy and France. He painted a great number of historical paintings, portraits, etchings and lithographs.
Valentijn Clots
Clots was a military engineer and produced topographical maps of Maastricht and ink drawings of the city. He was a devotee of East Indian ink and colours made from natural products.
Antoon Lipkens
born in Maastricht 1782, Tony was a civil engineer/surveyor and later became an Engineer/Auditor in Luxembourg. Lipkens was founder of the Delft Academy, today known as Technical University of Delft.
Well now I know. Not sure if I will gain anything from it but.

Friday, November 16, 2007


I went to immense trouble about 6 months ago to find a stylus for an old turntable I have so I could listen to some of my old 12"s. After 2 unsuitable ones being sent I evetually found the correct on which cost almost 20 Euros.

But dues to the effort and inconvenience of having to use an old amp to set it up which is a bit tempremental and has a tendancy to have fits of deafening feedback it was soon retired to the attic again.

Yesterday whilst flicking through a catologue I saw a picture of a turntable and was surprised to see they are on sale again and quite popular. The attraction being a USB connection to link to your PC so you can convert your old records to your storage device. At only 80- Euros I think I might add this to my Christmas list.

Maybe if enough of us children of the 70's 80's buy these there may be limited edition novelty vinyl being added to the thousands of options in distributing your music.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Marijuana in Maastricht

The Mayor speaks out about the drugs policy in Maastricht. Before he had chance to dye his brows.

And the hip version forthe kids;

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Working in the City

I was getting fed up with my first post round and the immense amount of cycling up into the countryside so I took on a city 'round' aswell. And when they offered me the neighbouring section of the city of Maastricht it seemed an easy decision to give suburbia a 'boot' and become a "city boy".

So now I am delivereing post to 2 sections of the centre of Maastricht where I can enjoy the river with the fog in the morning, the sun reflecting off it in the afternoon and the sunsets in the late afternoon (now 5pm).

The best part is that my first round is in 'Wijk' . For me one of the most interesting parts of Maastricht. The best shops, the best restaurants, the best bars, but still not realised by most of the tourist population so it remains pretty quiet most of the time. I deliver to art galleries, restaurants; as in: tapas, Indonesian, Japanese, French, posh 5***** restaurants, designer shops, fetish wear shops, antique book shops, Irish get the picture. And the fun bit is in this part of town you can't pop the post through the door as the place is normally open so you have to walk in and meet the owners and hand over the post.

The second route is mostly student territory and cheapish housing as far as the centre goes but the 'studes' are also intersperced with the old timers. The other day I had a fascinating conversation with an eighty year old woman about which postal company I worked for. And she told me even though I was still lost and having trouble finding the right postal box : "You are lost but you are living in Holland for more than one week I think.mmmm". Quite flattering considering it's taken 12 years to get such comments. Anyway I plan to have a cuppa with the old bird in the next few weeks as her hobby seems to be to look out for the 'postman' each day.

So I am quite sad to say goodbye to suburbia which I have enjoyed delivering to for the last three months but looking forward to getting to know the city and the people better.

Security Clearance

Another AWP clip.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Quiz question; Who is the lass who pops in to watch Oz sing and which movie was she in?

Monday, October 22, 2007

Gronsveld Windmill

Commonly known as the 'Gronsveld Windmill' but it actually stands in the suburb of "De Heeg" in Maastricht.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Google Flight Sim

I read on a site today if you use the new version of Google Earth you can use a Flight Simulator by easily pressing '[ALT] [CTRL] [A]'.

It gives you the option of flying an F16 or a SR-22 a small 4 seater light aircraft. I tried the light aircraft to see if I could fly over the Tranporter Bridge.

I ended up crashing into the Tees. So it is quite a realistic flight sim, for an add-on to a system. I'm gonna have another go tonight with the F16. A low high speed pass.

It is quite a good programme to use considering Microsofts Flight Sim you have to pay shit-loads to get realistic land simulations of areas that you want to fly over.

Update: I tried again with the F16 and failed. Went for a low pass over Roseberry topping and ending up crashing near Yarm.

Friday, October 19, 2007

ITV - the crooks - 7.8 million

A review of ITV phone-ins has identified a "serious cultural failure" within the company.
Shows including Ant and Dec's Gameshow Marathon and Saturday Night Takeaway were among those involved, an audit of ITV's output has found.

ITV executive chairman Michael Grade described the findings as "horrible" and "inexcusable".
Ant McPartlin said he and co-host Dec Donnelly were "extremely disappointed" their Takeaway show was singled out.

"We'd like to make it clear that we had no idea these problems existed," he continued.
"Ant and I are now reassured that strict measures have been put in place to ensure that these kind of incidents can never happen again," said Donnelly.

Although both he and McPartlin have an executive producer credit on Saturday Night Takeaway, he said they had "no direct involvement in the phone line process".

ITV made £7.8 million from uncounted votes. Mr Grade said the company would reimburse those who were misled - a decision McPartlin said he and Donnelly were "100% behind".

I heard on BFBS radio today that even one prize was given to a relative of a producer of one of the programmes.

Corrupt bastards.

I hope everyone rings up and gets their money back but they probably won't as they will hear the old familiar "This call costs £1 per minute".

Thursday, October 18, 2007


I have recently taken a 2nd post round and have to go to Margraten to pick up my post as the company is too lazy to deliver it t my door. On my first collection I realised I was passing the American cemetery in Margraten so as it was such a nice October day I decided to pop in and have a wander.

The Tower beyond which lies 8,301 WWII dead. ( The 2nd biggest USA memorial in Europe)

The enscription on the tower is:

"Each for his own memorial earned praise that will never
die and with that the grandest of sepulchres not that in which his mortal
bones are laid but a home in the minds of men"

Including 7 Wades:

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Saturday England Triple

It is unusual to see 3 England teams looking for success in one weekend. But this weekend it happened.

First up was the Footie.

Rooney scores the second in a 3-0 comprehensive win over Estonia.

Second up was the Rugby Union World Cup Semi-Final against France. It looked like it was seriously going wrong until 5 minutes from the end old JW does it again and finished the match off. The Final beckons against the Argies or the South Africans.

Johnny safe foot Wilkinson does it again

And Finally it was the turn of the darts England team in the Darts World Cup semi final against the USA in the team event. Martin Adams, Tony O'Shea, John Walton & Steve Farmer took on the USA in the World Cup which involved 45 countries. Tomorrow they will take on the Netherlands in the Final.

Tony O'Shea the 'Silverback'

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Sylvia Geersen

I was flicking through the music channels this afternoon when I came across a talented young lady on the TMF's (the Music Factory) "Oranje" show. This is broadcasting Dutch music which at it's best is not great. But Ms Geersen obviously has 'talent'. If it is in the musical side of things I am not so sure.

Sylvia was runner up in the 1st 'Holland's next top model' beaten by Sanne Nijhof.

Sanne Nijhof
According to Wikipedia who wrongly list her name as Sylvia Geertsen, after being on the show she signed with Next Model Management in New York, as well as a bevy of agencies around Europe.
Anyway here is her wonderful work 'Give it to me!'

Saturday, October 06, 2007


It seems that these days more and more we are having rare breeeds of birds visiting our towns. The Eagle Owl that perched on Middlesbrough town's buildings. Recently my sister told me she saw a Kingfisher in the center of Maastricht. And just yesterday my other half saw a 'Vlaamse Gaai' or as we call it a 'Jay' ouside her office in a built up area of Maastricht.

Vlaamse Gaai (Jay)

Why is this happening?. One reason is the quick availability of food the other is the reduction of their normal habitat through farming.

Yesterday I received a form through the door asking us to sign up to close a local cement quarry in order to reduce noise and dust polution. This was the same quarry I wrote about that boasts the only 'Eagle Owls' except from the one spotted in the Boro.

Eagle Owl - Usually only though to live in Scandinavia, but spotted in Boro and Maastricht

It is good to see these birds visit the 'town' but it does make you wonder what happened to the sparrow, the wren and the starling which I haven't seen for quite some time.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

When routine bites hard

I was so pleased to see Johnathon Ross give "Control" the number 1 spot on Film 2007 tonight.
And also a good review. He even said even though he was not a fan of the music he wished he was.

I was first introduced to Joy Division by my brother, in about 1981, when he bought 'Unknown Pleasures'. I was 11 but for once the fact my brother was in to something first didn't stop me liking the music, and soon I was getting into the New Order album 'Movement'. And Ian Curtis RIP was written on my haversack at school. 18.05.1980

My New Order obsession and Joy Division obsession continued till the age of 18 when I had to decide which University to go to. I basically chose Salford on the fact that that they came from that area. Big mistake!. But still I was happy to be in that place.

It was not long before I realised that JD and New Order were pretty dead and there was a new music scene starting in Manchester. But I did manage to catch New Order once at the GMex in 1988.

After that I was so wrapped up in the upsurgance of The Happy Mondays, The Stone Roses etc. that I kinda forgot about New Order.

15 years later I met a Dutch guy in Holland who reminded me about Joy Division and gave me 2 bootleg CD's and I was hooked again. Then Youtube started and I saw all the old performances. And Anton Corbijn, the guy who took those famous photographs, started talking about making a movie.

And now it is nearly here after years of waiting 'Control'. I have been so desperate to watch this movie but also so apprehensive. I see the trailers and I almost break up. It has been part of my life for so long. I can't wait. But in another way I don't want to see it.

Anton Cobijn talks about his film in Dutch (subtitled)

The official trailer

Monday, October 01, 2007

Bonsai is Buggered

Today I went to the 'Pasar Malam Asia' at the MECC which was very disappointing, but I did see one stand which caught my eye.

It was a 'bonsai tree' stand. I bought an impressive looking tree for 12.50Euros and went home looking forward to clipping it's wings. But a quick search on the BBC website sadly told me I may have been ripped off.

So my beautiful tree might die, but I am gonna help it as best I can.
Unfortunately it seems both my cats enjoy eating it's leaves. Basically it has no chance.

Saturday, September 22, 2007


I recently started a post round which i have to say I am really enjoying so far. It is for a competitor of the usual post company and I only have to do it twice a week and the weather so far has been perfect. I am not so sure how much I will enjoy it when 'come rain or shine' happens. But so far it has been very enjoyable getting out on the bike, seeing the dutch way of life, and meeting the people of suburbia.

My round is a very affluent area of Maastricht. The 'Doorns'. Each street ends in 'Doorn'; so as 'Vuurdoorn, Gaspeldoorn, Duindoorn, Meidoorn, etc, etc.
Apart from the Doorns (in blue) there is the Vijverdal in 'yellow' which is the psychiatric hospital, which can be interesting as the inamtes scream at you as you deliver the post.
The 'orange' part I take next which is a series of schools where you get through various security to make sure you are nor a 'pedo'. And also here many teachers telling the pupils, "Oh there is the postman, watch he has to put the post in the post box". Very educational.

The bit which I choose to do last is the 'Bemelerweg' (green) which is a bit a of trip into the countryside and uphill so best to do with an empty bag. This ends at a farm where there is two very aggressive Dalmation cross-breads waiting on chains to attack you as you deliver their post. Fortunately they are both tied in such a way that neither one can reach you if you zig-zag through to the postbox. Always an exciting way to finish the round.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Gordon Bennett takes off again

The long distance balloons ; very different from the usual ones

The 51st Gordon Bennett balloon race will set off today from Belgium. The start off point is still not decided due to the possible interference with EBBR (Brussels Airport) . See the fantastic ATC Network for details -

The competition will set off from Belgium when the 14 balloons should set off late afternoon saturday. Looking at the wind they will be passing close to Maastricht and probably set off in the direction of Russia. But you can track their exact position live on the website

It will be a totally different competion than last year when the competitors headed in the direction of the UK then the wind changed and they finished in Scandinavia.

The Teams taking part this year are:

1. FRA 1 Leÿs / Rolland (F-PPSE)
2. BEL 1 Van Havere / De Cock (D-OAVB)
3. NED 1 Jurg / Van Houten (PH-KTS)
4. USA 1 Abruzzo / Rymer-Davis (N801NM)
5. GER 3 Hageney / Gerhardt (D-OWBA)
6. GBR 2 Folkes / Rich (D-OCOL)
7. SWI 1 Krebs / Vollenweider (D-OCFT)
8. BEL 2 Berben / Siméons (D-OBYN)
9. USA 3 Sullivan / White (D-ORZL)
10. GER 1 Eimers / Seel (D-OWBI)
11. GBR 1 Hempleman-Adams / Rivers-Scott (D-OBCW)
12. SWI 2 Stoll / Mattenberger (HB-QHP)
13. USA 2 Critelli / MacNutt (D-OWML)
14. GER 2 Hora / Löschhorn (D-OWNT)

Since 1906 this competition has taken place 54 times and so far the countries winning are:

USA - 12
Belgium - 10
Austria - 8
France - 5
Germany - 5
Poland - 5
Switz - 4

So it looks like time for a UK win considering we almost beat the Belgians last year.
Come on GBR 1 & 2

Saturday, September 01, 2007

World Darts Trophy

The Netherlands are going darts crazy again this week as the World Darts Trophy kicks off today in Utrecht. Utrecht is a city just south of Amsterdam. This will be the 6th WDT but this year it is unique in that it is between 28 PDC and 28 BDO players.

This is the 2nd time a joint tournament has been held since the breakup of darts in 1994.

The last time also happened in Holland in the International Darts League in Nijmegen in May. That time the BDO players came out on top with 3 out of 4 in the Semis and Gary Anderson picked up the title.

There is another joint tournament scheduled to be held in September in the UK the Grand Slam of Darts which will be shown on ITV. The first time they have shown darts in many years.

Previous winners of the WDT are:
Tony David, Raymond van Barneveld (2), Gary Robson and Phil Taylor. Taylor won the tournament last year when it stopped being exclusively for BDO players and 5 PDC players received wild cards.

The politics in darts seems to be hitting a new high again even though these joint tournaments are taking place. The BDO players are not happy their old exclusive tournaments are being taken over by PDC players (the WDT and the IDL).

And also the BDO has purposely moved it's BBC tournament the Masters to clash with Barry Hearn's PDC ran joint tournament (the Grand Salm of Darts) in September.

Martin Adams the current BDO World Champion refused his invite to the GSOD. Hearn went on record to say that Adams lacked ambition. To which Adams replied he is loyal to the BDO and that is a great quality and said that without him the tournament has lost it's value.

I think for 'Joe Public' having 2 live tournaments on at the same time will probably alienate people from the sport and confuse them but for the darts fans it is interesting times to watch and compare the 2 codes.

Who will come out on top at the WDT this week we can only wait and see. So far we are 3 matches in and it stands 2-1 to the BDO.

Mieke de Boer will not be taking part as there is no ladies tournament in the WDT. But she is often showed as a interested member in the audience by SBS6 TV . I wonder why?

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The West European Hedgehog

Hedgehog an endangered species

The latest UK List of Priority Species and Habitats¹ which has just been published includes quite a few shocking items. One which would surprise most people is the common garden hedgehog. The continuous attack from being used as footballs, burnt alive in garden fires, spiked by garden forks, squashed by cars and being used as a crisp flavour² has finally taken it's toll.

So if you do want to see our prickerly garden visitors in the future I suggest you put out a saucer of cat food or slugs to help them on their hazardous potter through our habitat.

1:After two years of work involving in excess of 500 people, the proposed UK List of Priority Species and Habitats was presented in a UK BAP website report in June 2007. The Priorities Species and Habitats Review Working Group and the Priorities Review Group recommended that this list was formally adopted. The Governments of all four UK administrations have now adopted the recommendations of experts and published the UK list of priority species and habitats. The new UK BAP list is an important reference source, bringing all the scientific information on UK BAP species and habitats together in one place.
This list, a result of the most comprehensive analysis ever undertaken in the UK, contains 1149 species and 65 habitats that have been listed as priorities for conservation action under the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UK BAP).

2: No hedgehogs were actually used in Hedgehog crisps, Hedgehog flavoured crisps were actually flavoured with pork fat and no hedgehogs were used in the manufacturing process. Consequently, it wasn't long before Hedgehog Foods Ltd was in court (1982), up against the Office of Fair Trading, on a charge of false advertising.Bizarrely, a settlement was finally reached when Mr Lewis, of Hedgehog Foods, interviewed gypsies who actually did eat baked hedgehogs, to ascertain the flavour of hedgehogs. Mr Lewis then commissioned a flavourings firm to duplicate the flavour as closely as possible and changed the labels from "hedgehog flavoured" to "hedgehog flavour".

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Google Sky

Google have just launched their newest tool. 'Google Sky'. An astronomical 'add-on' of Google Earth. The program allows you to discover parts of the universe only seen by the Hubble telescope. This concept is nothing new though, back in the 80's Ian Bell and David Braben created 'Elite' for the BBC microcomputer. "Now where should I fly".

Google Sky

Tuesday, August 21, 2007



Cascade by Matchbox®

I was perusing a website about 70's and 80's games when I saw an old Christmas present that I received which was really good for about 2 weeks and then never seen again. It was a game called 'cascade'. I remeber thinking it was a load of rubbish when I first opened it but once set up the ball bearings bounced along the three rubber drums perfectly landing in the scoring bay and would be raised up to the top again by an archimedes screw type affair. A bit Heath Robinson but amazing to watch.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Lizzie's Wall

Middlesbrough amateur photographer, Jason Hynes, had one of his photographs selected for the new Tate Britain's exhibition; How We Are: Photographing Britain.

Photo of a wall and a door

Jason describes his photo ('Lizzie's Wall') : "The image is from a series about how we all change and progress in life and I chose the image for the competition because I think it conveys a sense of longing. Whether it be for the good or the bad Britain is, culturally and economically, constantly changing and developing. I feel my photograph freezes this evolution and holds the viewer in a place and time that is safe and comfortable but the imagery contained within the photograph, the door, the blossoming fruit, and the shaft of light, show that growth and change is inevitable and constant. "

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Balloon Fart

The Balloon I should have been on yesterday evening.

Yesterday I won a 'balonvaart' (Hot air balloon trip) on a local radio station (Radio Meerssen) competition. It was the star prize in a 'vacation top 100' competition. I only entered it as I was disgusted by the choice of most people's top 5's. So I put mine is with 'The Smiths, Joy Division, New Order, The Stone Roses and Happy Mondays'. Needless to say none made the top 100.

Anyway they rang up and said that I have won the 'star prize' of a hot air balloon trip and could I come in live on the radio show on Tuesday to pick it up.

They actually wanted to present the prize to me yesterday and take the trip there live on the show which was being transmitted that day from a small caravan site. But as I was out they gave the ride to other volunteers at the event.

Strangely enough whilst sitting here at the PC I then saw the balloon floating towards the house with the volunteers on board. They landed somewhere in Belgium.

I've always wanted to take a trip in a balloon but now I have the chance I have to admit I am bricking it.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Mahjong : Public Health Warning

Mahjong - The most complicated game on earth

My Mother bought a Mahjong set about 30 years ago but we never actually played the game. Which I always thought was a bit of a shame as it cost a lot of money. But it seems we might have been better leaving it on top of the wardrobe as it has emerged that mahjong can actually be bad for your health.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Radial Velocities in the Zodiacal Dust Cloud

Brian May is friends with Glockenspiel maestro Sir Patrick Moore

Brian May has finally handed in his PhD 36 years after starting it. Mr May decided to not complete his PhD and instead pursue a musical career with the pop group 'Queen', fronted by rockstar legend Freddie Mercury, back in 1971.

But after a recent research trip to Tenerife he decided to start work on his thesis and today handed in the 48,000 word work to Imperial College, London.

The thesis entitled "Radial Velocities in the Zodiacal Dust Cloud", studies Radial velocities in the Zodiacal dust Cloud.


Panorama showed on Tuesday the huge amount of child violence being posted on YouTube. The Google run company repsonded that they have '0' employees in charge of vetting such videos and it was the 'YouTube' communitie's resposibilitiy to 'flag' and remove such videos.

So the next morning I searched and found 5 school/street fight videos online and flagged them as "Inappropriate".

Google, and YouTube have said they will review them usually in 20 minutes of flagging.

2 days later and all 5 videos are still on line.
One of these I found was from Middlesbrough. Makes you proud!.

If you do take a look make sure you click the flag as "Inappropriate" button below, if we click it enough times maybe the 1 employee might get a 'heads-up'.

But I would suggest you don't watch. God I sound like Panorama.

The second one is the lovely Boro one.


Saturday, July 28, 2007

Always start with a strong coffee

Yesterday the pilot of a 105 meter cargo ship fell asleep at the wheel on a canal in Holland. Fortunately the family of 4 inside their holiday home were not hurt.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Happy as Larry

1 and a half weeks in and they are getting on now, but mainly when food is the issue.
These two do 'best mates' dances around their dishes.

They eat from their own then swap and then share.

P.S. They are Clogs

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Little Gem

Little bundle of fur 'Gem' - name after the diamond shape on her back

Today I went for a walk in the 'Eijsderbeemden' to enjoy the sunshine which we have unfortunatley not seen for almost two weeks now. I came back to the entrance of the nature reserve and saw a tiny little creature mucking about in the waste bin overflow licking beer cans.

It was the cutest little cat. Strangely enough I wandered past thinking someone else will sort it out but as I reached the car I thought to myself 'who will look after it'?. I looked around and the nearest house was 1 mile away. So I asked a local Dutchy who was on his' Jollies' who fortunately had enquired about the dierenambulance' (RSPCA) numbers and programmed them into his phone.

Both numbers didn't work so I decided to take the 'little one' into the car after some protest from my dutch friend. His son had already become fond of the cat. But I drove on to the nearest building to ask if it was maybe theirs.

As they replied 'no' and supplied me with a box, we and two oldish women walked to the car to pack our little one into the box to transport it home. It was going quite well (scruff of the neck technique) until the two 'mature ladies' decided they wanted to pet and 'ooh and argghh' at the kitten. At which point it freaked out and wanted to escape. Due to the fact we were on a pretty busy road I held on for my life to it's neck while it protested and fought for it's freedom.

One of the ladies asked me 'Did he get you?'. I replied "No". But she said ' I think he did". I looked to my arm to see 7 bleeding wounds.

Back home we introduced the kitten to Spike much to his disgust. And a hissing fit followed, growling etc. for the rest of the night. Spike is very displeased with his house guest. A 6 week old kitten. (The big brute). Probably more disgusted because this little frail kitten is getting all the milk and food it asks for and cuddles galore.

So my mission tomorrow is to hopefully find the owner of this bundle of fur. Otherwise it might have to be a decision for the 'cat home' or 'our home'.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Gorillaz to Monkey

Jamiie Hewlett and Damon Albarn are following up their succesful collaberation with 'Gorrilaz' with a foray into the world of Chinese Opera. Last night on Alan Yentob's "Imagine" the programme followed them through 2 years of hard work to realise the project.

The Opera opened in Manchester last week at the Palace Theatre. The story of 'Monkey' did not originate with the 70's TV series as Albarn and Hewlett originally though but it is an ancient Chinese story going back hundreds of years.

After a spell in Manchester the production will move on to Paris.

Ahhhh Piggsy!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Kylie Cyber Woman

No, not an online simulated experience with the pint-sized Aussie sex-bomb, Kylie is going to star in the hit-series 'Doctor Who' this winter as a 'cyber woman'. David Tennant is said to be literally foaming at the mouth at the prospect of Kylie in a vinyl cyber suit.

Ms Minogue

Friday, June 29, 2007

Test Match Special

Whilst back in the North-East I went to the West Indies v England Test Match at the Durham County Cricket ground. It was a present for Fatha's 70th birthday but everyone thought it a good plan so we all went. Not a cheap affair!. 7 people @ £42 per ticket. Mother made ham sandwiches and I prepared a flask of tea to economise a bit on the day but I have to admit I was enticed by the 'dirty burger' stand with it's attractive 1/2 mile queues.

It is a boring game cricket at times and we didn't pick the best day to go, but at least we didn't pick Friday when not a single over was thrown. Anyway my sister's boyfriend came up with a good game 'Spot the celebrity'. The 'posh stand' - The 'Don Robson Pavillion' was directly on the other side of the ground so with the aide of binoculars we scanned for the stars.

After a few false alarms, Fern Britten, Jim Bowen etc. I heard on the TMS commentary that Bobby Robson was watching from the balcony so I quickly scanned the corporate boxes and found a 'silver haired' guy who I then pointed out to everyone. Later I found the real Bobby. I kept a bit quiet about it though.

Will the real Bobby please stand up

Friday, June 01, 2007

Hoegy Drought

My drink of choice if I am going to a bar is usually Hoegaarden. Last night we went for a 'Ruby' and did a mini bar-crawl on the way back to our regular to finish the night of with a game of darts. I was very disappointed to find in all 3 bars no Hoegy was available on tap.

By the 3rd bar I had got so incensed that I asked the Landlord why? 'Dodgy beer' came the reply. Apparently Hoegaarden have closed their brewery in 'Hoegaarden', a small Belgian village inbetween Maastricht and Brussels. The new brewery is in Jupille, where Jupiler beer is made in South Belgium.

Problem is they are having teething troubles getting the first batches of Hoegy right at the new brewery and therefore due to the popularity of this beer it has quickly become a drought.

It is not only here in Holand and Belgium which was the original market for the beer but now it has been marketed so well the problem has extended to the UK where Hoegy lovers are wondering what the hell is going on.

Fortunately here in Maastricht we produce another fine 'white beer' which during the Hoegaarden explosion on to the world market has been incompetently slow at 'taking a piece of the pie'. So 'white beer' is still on the menu if you want a 'Wieckse Witte' formally brewed on the side of the Maas in Maastricht, but now by Heineken.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Mr Interactive

Tim Booth obviously learnt to ineract with the crowd in his early days. Can be seen very clearly in this performance of on of my faves.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

How much for your chuddy

The Schmidt 'Hot Jet' Chuddy destroyer

I watched a documentary tonight about 'chuddy'. Wrigleys owned 98% of the market in the UK till Cadburys decided to get in on the deal. And with the release of "Trident Splash" they have quickly cornered a 15% chunk of the market. Wrigleys are not that 'bovvered' though as the chuddy sales have also increased by 15% since it's launch 6 months ago.

The documentry showed the Wrigley's PhD doctor emphasing the health bonuses of chewing a petro-chemical product. Helps with mastication, aiding dental care, helps with mental awareness. etc. etc. No wonder Sir Alex Ferguson is a staunch user of the product.

The documentary went on to tell of the hidden costs of a piece of 'Chud'. Most local councils are having to invest in a peice of German hardware to clean the streets from 'post-masticated chud bombs'. This vehicle costs £100,000. Plus it doesn't do the job properly so council employees are having to follow it around with high pressure water machines to clean up the rest of the gum.

It has been estimated that 80% of chewed gum is left on the streets. Chewing gum was brought to the UK by our American friends during the war. I think we should go back to our original chew of choice the Liquorice-root. I recently went into a dutch health shop to purchase a few sticks and they cost 20 Euro-cents. They last a lot longer than Cadbury's 'Splash'. Also they don't require any German Hardware.

The Cadburys company has launched a big advertising campaign to help it's attack on Wrigleys. The marketing 'bods' came up with the phrase 'Mastication for the Nation'. But they do have a banner on the bottom of their site promoting 'Resposable Mastication', i.e Put your Petro-chemical based product in the Petro-chemical based bin liner so our Petro-chemical vehicles can despose of them properly in a land-fill site.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Pond Life

Kermit with red cheeks - "The tanning experience"

When we moved into our place I found a sand pit in the 'back gard' which I quickly decided to turn into a pond. It doesn't take long before such a creation becomes an attraction for all sorts of wildlife and it is now breaming with frog spawn in early spring-time. As the months get warmer we are spending the evenings in the garden and I decided to put the pond light into the pond yesterday to enhance the garden experience. Only to find a frog knicking the limelight and destroying our enjoyment. Obviously I set the cat upon it and it was quickly destroyed.

I forgot to recognise that the cat prefers to lick frogs then go into a strange cross-eyed stupour for the next two hours whilst the frog disappears into the depths.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Anna Friel Pushing Daisies

Anna Friel, famous for the first pre-watershed lesbian kiss on a British soap is going to America to star in ABC's new series 'Pushing Daisies'. The show is about a man who can reanimate dead people but only for a short time. Very useful in crime investigations.

"Quick tell me who stabbed you? You've only got 15 seconds!"

Sunday, May 13, 2007

The demise of a the Eyldergaard Tree

I posted a blog about a local tree a few months back which I was always impressed with. On my trip to the the supermarket on my bike today I was very shocked to see it had been butchered. The tree I estimate must have been over 200 years old, sitting in a suburb of Maastricht 'Eyldergaard' which is built up of houses from the 70's. What a sad loss that the only piece of history has vanished. I guess they did it on safety reasons as it would have fallen on to the surrounding houses but it will really miss my big tree. I might start hugging trees in future just incase I don't get to say goodbye.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Vic Reeves Alan Rickman Eddie Izzard and Harry Enfield Monty Python Sketch

O'Shea 9 darter IDL

It has never happened before in one tournament but tonight in Nijmegen the second 9-darter was thrown by Tony O'Shea from Stockport. A man I had a nice chat with outside the MECC last year. Good on ye Tony and Happy 46th Birthday. Shame that the car was already gone.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Me Moir Vic Reeves

Phil Taylor 9 dart finish Topic IDL

I was playing darts this afternoon and finished in 9 throws. Just like Phil Taylor did last night in the Topic International Darts League in Nijmegen. He won a car which he immediately gave to a Dutch couple who ferry him from Hotel to venue each day, as they had had an accident and wrote of their van.

Caravan Man

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Close Premiership Finish

The Phillips Stadium, unlucky for some but not for PSV

Well it looked like yesterday we might have had a very exciting finish in the English Premier League until Rooney spoiled things for us. But in Holland today the Ere divisie had a very exciting finish. Ajax and PSV were tied on the same points with Ajax ahead on goal difference by 1 point. At half time Ajax were 1-0 up over Willem II and PSV leading 2-1 at Vitesse, which meant PSV would need to score 2 more golas and hope Ajax didn't score. Ajax pulled off a 2-0 win over Willem II but PSV managed to win 5-1 at home to take the title.

Apparently the 2nd time in Ajax's history that they have lost the title by 1 point in goal difference.

The Hoxton Heckler

Heckling goes extreme

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Hugh meanz Business

Hugh Grant has been kicking Paparazzi butt again. This time his weapon of choice a tin of baked beans.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Bus Stop Dorris

Recently in Maastricht and apparently the rest of Holland almost all the bust stop advertising plackards have shown a very distracting photo of a young lady in lingerie. I was quite surprised by how distracting this poster was as it was on many major roads and all over the city.

A bit of research on t'internet and I found out that the lady in question is Dorien Rose, who was playboy 'playmate' of the year 2005. She actually lives locally and recently started presenting on local Limburg TV and starred in a dutch film 'Purgatory'.

Special Skills
Horseback riding, yoga, singing, street dance, salsa, swimming, golf, tennis, pole-dancing, aerobics.

Dutch, German, English (Accents: American, English, Scottish), basic French.

She writes on her website:
15-04-2007 Commotion around Sapph Lingerie campaign
Since Wednesday I’ve been receiving a lot of positive feedback about my Sapph Lingerie posters around the country. But it couldn’t be prevented that there are some critics who say that these pictures are ‘Too sexy and not realistic for the common woman’ and ‘Irresponsible because of the distraction on the road’. These are just some reactions about the posters. Some are even taped over the female parts of my body. I think it’s quite funny because we predicted and hoped that this would happen even though I think this reaction is a bit exaggerated. But everybody is allowed to have an opinion and there is no such thing as bad publicity. Because everybody is talking about the campaign it’s known all over the country and that happened within a few days. And Sapph is only a few months old! Because of the rising fame and street gossip owner of Sapph, Rob Heilbron and I went to the Sapph Beach Club in Scheveningen to talk to the press (MTV, The Press and others) to explain our concept and clarify why this situation has been an advantage for the awareness of Sapph. I guess I want to thank all the people who taped over my body and in this way contributed to our success!
You tell 'em girl!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Wheres a coppa when you need one

Markt, Maastricht, Sunday 22 2007 Amstel Gold Race

Saturday, April 21, 2007

My old bangers #3

Following the disappointment of the Bucket-mobile, I was determinded to not get ripped off and find a car that lasted this time. Since the financial write-off I had had some good news that I had landed a well paid job in Luxembourg so the bank was willing to lend me some money to buy a new car. This time I was not holding back and my budget was £1500-.

Since my last purchase a good friend's brother had set up a 2nd hand car business in Stockton so my first stop was to ask him some advice. Instead of advice I left an hour or so later with a car. My criteria was : cheap, reliable, MOT-passable, and will get me to Luxembourg in one piece.

I came away with a maroon Ford Sierra 1.6L with about 80,000 miles on the clock. I was reliably informed by the salesman that this car would more than likely go twice round the clock before it packed up. So the trip to Luxembourg should be no problem. It ended up doing the round trip about 5 times.

The car lasted me over 4 years with almost no major problems in the whole time. When it came to change to a newer model it was indeed almost approaching 200,000 miles.

The Goodbye Trip

We set off to Brockham in Surrey, where a friend was going to sell the car in the UK for me as it was not possible to sell in NL. I should have actually registered the car on arrival in Holland but it was too much of a plus point that I never had to pay a parking fine over the last 4 years.

The plan was to spend the evening in Ostend before driving down to Calais and on to Brockham.Unfortunately the car decided this last trip was going to be the one time it decided to be petulant. Approaching Ostend it broke down on the motorway. As I didn't have any breakdown cover at the time and was not too worried about the oil spray all over the engine we waited 30 mins and it started again and we made it to Ostend.

After sampling many Belgian Beers the next day we apprehensively made our way to Calais in Force 7 gales down the Belgian and French coasts. I don't think the constant spray of sand against the car helped it's present fragile state.

The crossing in the ferry was the worst I had ever experienced. The waves were coming over the top of the ferry and I feared the worst for the car taking this beating down below. Sure enough my worst fears were realised and the car gave up totally on the motorway out of Dover.

The car was taken by a tow truck company, who informed us there was a hole in the side of the engine and they then recovered us from the roadside. We made our way to Brockham by the tow truck driver, a bus, another bus, a train, another train and a taxi. A 12 hour journey that should have been about 4.

The next day I called the recovery company and was told the bill would be about £300-. I suggested they take the car instead and they promptly agreed. I hope they never received a huge bill from Luxembourg and Maastricht City councils for 4 years of unpaid parking tickets.

The next day we ceremoniously threw the car keys into Brockham beck. Surprsingly the car was never scrapped as I recently found out from a HPI check it has now had 6 owners.

Bought: 1994
Price: £1500-
Mileage: 80,000
Costs: minimal
Sold: £300
Max Speed: 115mph
Mileage obatined: 110,000
Overall rating: 8/10

Sunday, April 15, 2007

International Space Station

The ISS in a planetarium near you.......

Because of the lovely weather recently sitting in the back 'gard' has been order of the day and with the clear skies it has been good 'hardware' gazing conditions.

Iridium flares are getting a bit old hat now so I turned to the ISS, which as it orbits the earth every hour and a half can be nice to watch. 6 people are currently on board the station; Fyodor Yurchikhin, Oleg Kotov, Sunita Williams, Charles Simonyi, Michael Lopez-Alegria and Mikhail Tyurin. The last three are only on-board for 5 more days when they will leave for Earth.

The ISS is particularly bright at the moment with a magnitude of '-1.0' which is almost the brightest star in the sky so it is very easy to spot. All you need is a time to look.
ISS Passes

Useless Trivia:
Flight Engineer Suni Williams plans to run the Boston Marathon on a station treadmill on Monday, April 16, at 10 a.m. EDT. As an official entrant in the race, she will circle Earth at least twice in the process, running as fast as eight mph but flying more than five miles each second. (I shit you not!)

Tuesday, April 10, 2007


Update:14th April: A little video of the event.

I've never see a live demolition by dynamite of a building before. But this Saturday I am going to watch the local psychiatric hospital take a big dose of TNT.

Bye Bye Maggie!

One of the reasons for the demolition is that at 8 stories high the patients were using the height to commit suicide.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Passport Scandal

I just realised the other day my Passport has expired which was a bit worrying as having just booked a trip to the UK it would have been a small disaster if I hadn't checked.

So I got busy on the British Embassy in the Hague's website to renew it. The last time I did this it cost around 25 Dutch Gildas around €12-. At the time this was very good value, even cheaper than renewing it in Liverpool. Things have changed of course and due to the biometric encoding and the fancy pictures of birds on each page I did expect it would be a bit more expensive this time.

I also got a little bit concerned when I read the notes for the countersignatory "That person should be a British citizen, other British national or Commonwealth citizen who is a Member of Parliament, Justice of the Peace, Minister of Religion, Bank Officer, Established Civil Servant, or professionally qualified person, e.g. Lawyer, Engineer,Doctor, School Teacher, Police Officer or a person of similar standing."

I honestly don't know any British Citizens that fall in that category living in Maastricht. But fortunately after a phone call to the Embassy I was assured that an Air Traffic Controller is considered a 'professional' or 'person of similar standing'.

So all complete and in the post I just went to check how much 'wonga' I had to transfer to complete the procedure. I nearly fell off my chair! €193-. Only a 1600% increase then since last time. The Embassy justifies this with: "We recognise that these fee increases will be unwelcome news to many, however we are determined to continue to offer the best service possible to British nationals who require our assistance. We also believe that at £1 per month, the passport is still exceptional value for money."

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Stockton Rocks

Echo and the Bunnymen

The Stockton Fringe Festival has got three? big names coming this Summer according the Gazette today. The festival which is free of charge to enter will feature 'Echo and the Bunnymen', 'Badly Drawn Boy' and 'The Ordinary Boys'.

Organiser Paul Burns said ""We have pulled off a blinder. We are over the moon; "People will need to get down their early. If they turn up at quarter to nine wanting to see Echo and The Bunnymen there is every chance they won't be able to get in. It's better to come early and make a day of it." Paul could offer no tips on how to miss the Ordinary Boys perfromance.

The festival, now in its 17th year, will run over the four days from Thursday August 2.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Downing 'lamps' Lampard

I saw this in the Gazette but it is quite uncanny

Did you see this man on Monday evening?