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Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Cheltenham's latest tourist attraction

Last Sunday night, a gang of "vandals" created this in Cheltenham. Allegedly it was Banksy
Cheltenham is a particularly apt place to do this as it is home to GCHQ. In years gone by, its very location was a secret with locals referring to "The Foreign Office" and the premises themselves having a sign "Joint Technical Language Service". If you knew someone who worked at the "Ministry of Certain Things" and asked them what they did, they had a standard soporific spiel about doing research and development in the field of communications on behalf of HM government".

Over the years, it became more open.  In the1980s, staff were allowed to say they were in "H" "J" or some other division although they couldn't disclose the purpose of their divisions. Nowadays, everybody knows they're in the business of intercepting communications and preventing others from doing the same.

If you were picky, you'd complain that if they do eavesdrop on telephone boxes, it's a big waste of public money and extremely boring  because hardly anyone uses phone boxes any more. Also, reel to reel tape recorders as depicted in the mural are rather dated.

As a piece of art, it's bang up to date.

That's why there seems to be a small crowd around it most of the day

People pose for photographs
I'm a bit disappointed that the local Tourist Information are ignoring it.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Last chance to see...

There's a nice bit of countryside near Cheltenham under threat of "development" so I went out for what might be my last look before it becomes "Elms Park" - without any elms at all.
View to Elmstone Hardwicke church

Dog Bark Lane - ripe for improvement

Excellent residential development potential

There will be a culvert here

Local protest group
Developer site

Monday, 3 March 2014

Airship Hangers

My eye was caught by this story of yet another revival of the Airship although marketting have decreed it be called the "Airlander". In particualr, I noticed they were being kept in giant hangers at Cardington near Bedford. I was passing the place recently and made a detour

The Cambridge Culture

Went to a wedding in Cambridge and took in some of the local culture. For those of you in a hurry, this picture sums it up.

Yes, the culture really does seem to revolve around bicycles and posters with some boozing. The boozing is rather small scale compared to the other two though
In these environmentally conscious days, the bicycles I can understand but I began to wonder if the Internet just hadn't reached Cambridge yet? Have they not heard of Tweetdeck?  Here's a picture of a local doing the Cambridge version of posting to Facebook
Even St John Ambulance are different here

Then in Clare College I found evidence that tentative first experiments with the Internet are underway

I also found a clue as to why Douglas Adams was so down on beings that think that digital watches are a pretty neat idea. In Cambridge, where he took his degree, they don't just do sundials, they do seriously geeky sundials

Another intriguing find was this faded mural outside Clare College
 Perhaps a rock painting by ancient man of a terrifying invader, noticed by Terry Nation on a school trip and inspired his greatest artistic creation?

Anyway, it seems to do the local tourist industry  no harm. Here, the country that gave us the Great Wall do Cambridge

Monday, 24 February 2014

Can David Cameron "do the math"?

Listening to the Scottish independence campaign trail starting, I couldn't help wondering if David Cameron has done the arithmetic?

At the 2010 General Election, his party got just one Scottish seat leaving 58 won by other parties. If he lets Scotland go, he gains around 60 seats come the next General Election. That could mean an outright win and no annoying coalition partners. What's not to like?

Perhaps he has to pretend to want to stop the Scottish escape for some reason?

Sunday, 23 February 2014

River Severn at Wainlode

Double Toilets

Maybe like me, you clocked stories like this one about the mysterious side by side toilets at the Sochi Winter Olympics. Be very afraid, it has spread to the UK!

I was at a dance on the Cotswold village of Horsley and instead of happening in the Village Hall as usual it had moved across the road to the church. Lovely slippy wooden floor just right for those spinny French waltzes - but I digress, I visited the "the facilities" and discovered...

As I'm a gentleman, I used the one on the left. I still can't stop wondering WHY?