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Saturday, 13 September 2014

Scottish Independence Referendum

The result should be known around breakfast time next Friday. This would be the perfect day for the Government to release any embarrassing news. Do make a point of checking for other stories especially if the result is "Yes". If you have an interest in a particular branch of government, do check the appropriate web site on Friday.

Here's a search for National Statistics due out on that day. Also, individual departments may publish interesting documents outside the National Statistics scheme. E.G.: You can see that DWP plans to release Discretionary Social Fund Data 2012-13 by Local Authority from

Saturday, 5 July 2014

The Cheltenham Banksy Cufuffle & "Vansky"

I've written previously about the tourist attraction in Cheltenham "celebrating" GCHQ with a mural depicting staff eavesdropping on a telephone box. It was too good to last - I first realised that something was up when I walked past a couple of weeks ago on the way to the offy and noticed the mural had been boarded up and there was a car parked in front of it labelled "Security".

The first story was that the boarding up was for safety reasons because repairs were needed to the wall. Next, we heard that the Banksy had been sold to a London dealer for £200,000 and was being removed. Then notices went up claiming the wall was a "party wall" which is odd as to a casual observer, it all appears to be part of one house.

Meanwhile, powerful forces were gathering. The pub across the road wanted it kept - obviously it's good for trade. The hammer blow came from a surprising quarter - the local Council...
Just to make sure, the community also took action:
 A van has been parked to impede access
 It even has a name

Friday, 2 May 2014

Tomato Seedlings Dying

I've grown tomatoes from seed for about 10 years now but this year, the seedlings have started dying :-(
Aisla Craig
It look a bit like slug damage but I've never know the local slugs eat tomato plants. I've not noticed any slime either. When not posing for the camera, the plants are in a mini-greenhouse so cold weather damage is unlikely. Especially since some other more sensitive seedling such as Physalis are unaffected. Hessayon  suggests woodlice. Might be the answer because take a look at this monster grafted plant and in particular the area in the red box. The damage on this lower branch looks like something ate it. So it's probably not a cultural problem.
Answers, as they say, on a postcard.

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