Friday, December 30, 2005

Christmas at the P

We cooked for twenty four hours and it was gone in twenty four minutes! Christmas 2005 was had and enjoyed by all at 18 Pyrland Road, watched over by the birthday boy himself, Purple Jesus Christ.

More than 20 sat round the festive table. Expert direction and stove slaving by Katie, with remarkable assistance (and superb gravy) by Jared, Kiwi extroardinaire. Ivan dropped in from New South Wales, something about not being able to drink real ale in forty degree heat. Anyhow, grand times and early mornings were had. There's some photos from my camera here, Simon has posted a gallery on his site here, and Ben & Karen have posted some here @ Teamaskins.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Once was Leatherwood

Tasmanian Leatherwood Honey is the only food product I have seen on Supermarket shelves in the UK that uses an Australian state's name as a sales tool. Go to Sainsbury's supermarket site (the Woolworth's of the UK) and type TASMANIAN into the search bar. Try that with any other state. Closest is one bottle of South Australian red wine (yes, you can buy booze at the supermarket over here, and, since last week, the pubs don't shut at eleven anymore!) Further evidence of the strength of the Tasmania brand as an accepted byword for clean, pristine, unadulterated, etc.

What a shame the Tasmanian Government and their woodchipping cronies are doing all in their power to taint, sully and otherwise invalidate that priceless reputation.

Read how the industry is being decimated on the Tasmanian Times website.

Also, there's some coverage on the ABC site.

Ray Direen, a former Leatherwood beekeeper, at the Bennett Road coupe.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

A trip to Eire, in particular Kerry & Clare

Katie and I just got back from five days and 500 miles tripping around Counties Kerry and Clare in Ireland. As expected, beautiful country, friendly people, top pubs and extremely variable weather. We stayed in bed and breakfasts, which were all quite OK. Seems there is a bit of a pricing cartel going on, with every place charging €35 a head, no exceptions. Breakfasts were of a reasonably decent standard apart from plastic sausages and NO BLACK PUDDING (which reminds me, I might have some for dinner).

Highlights included the Gap of Dunloe, on the edge of Killarney National Park, Denis the Dingle Cabbie's tour of Slea Head and Tom Frawley's pub in Lahnich. He reckoned he was 88, and had been serving behind the same bar since he started helping his mum in 1922 or so!

Food highlights:
  • Great steak in Killarney at d'Esse (owned by the local butcher)
  • Best seafood chowder was at John Benny Moriarty in Dingle
Anyhow, Ireland's great. Go there. Look at our pictures first though!

Monday, November 07, 2005

Chav Wedding

The first couple of Cambridge, Don and Christine celebrated their engagement in "style" with a Chav Wedding-themed engagement party last Saturday night. With more bling and shellsuits than Bluewater on benefit day, it certainly was a sight to behold. Some people looked just a bit too comfortable though. Still, I'm not really that bovvered. Check out the snaps here.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Radio Radio

Steve and I were on Resonance FM's Bike Show on Monday talking about the GHOSTCYCLE project. We were also on "the panel" later in the show talking about the recent Critical Mass, subject of much discussion and posturing.

The MP3 of the show can be found here.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Critical Mass-Cops back down

I'd like to personally thank Met Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair, and his underling, Superintendant Gomm of New Scotland Yard for the publicity generated by last month's little flyering excercise, where we were threatend with arrest, torture and incarceration (perhaps) by taking part in what was deemed to be an "illegal demonstration". This excercise in futility obviously got the regular CM'ers rather more active than usual in ensuring that we made it a BIG one. And BIG it was. Police estimates were at 1200 cyclists, meaning it was probably more like 1500. Being the Halloween ride, lots of people ghouled up. Myself, Steve, Adam and Hannah were all part of the Ghostcycle team. We had three frames in tow, and generated a fair bit of interest in the website. All in all, a very succesful ride. Long may it continue. And, Superintendant Gomm, if you need a job in PR and event promotion, drop me a line!

There's some photos of the ride here.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

More photos

Gday all,

A flurry of activities has seen the Euroblather photologue added to yet again. Three new chapters have gone up:

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Critical crackdown

Matt Seaton
Wednesday October 26, 2005
The Guardian

For the past 11 years, on the last Friday of the month, cyclists numbering from a few score to, sometimes, several hundred have gathered near Waterloo bridge in London at 6pm. When some kind of quorum is achieved, they ride around en masse for a couple of hours before dispersing. There is no planned route, no identifiable leader, and no explicit political aim.

Critical Mass, as this "unorganised coincidence" is known, is organised enough to have a website - but only to insist that it is not a protest; more a fun ride to "assert our identity as cyclists". If you're interested, there is probably a Critical Mass near you; many UK cities have one. I've only joined the London ride once. There was an exhilarating carnival spirit, but after an hour or so, I felt I'd got the idea and pedalled off.

Until now, the ride has enjoyed benign policing designed to minimise its impact on other traffic. But last month, officers - themselves on bikes - handed out leaflets explaining that, in future, if the Metropolitan police was not informed in advance about the ride, then it would be deemed an "unlawful demonstration" and participants "liable to arrest". This Friday will be the first test of the "get tough" stance, but it has already drawn criticism, notably from the mayor's road safety ambassador. In an open letter to Sir Ian Blair, Jenny Jones criticises such "heavy-handed application" of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act (2005). According to the Met's public order branch, she says, Critical Mass does not meet the criteria for a political demonstration.

What could have inspired such folly? Sadly, the Met seems to be copying the NYPD's crackdown on Critical Mass, which began in August 2004 when the Republican National Convention came to New York. Some 237 cyclists were arrested. Across the bridge, Brooklyn Critical Mass continues, but in Manhattan, a ritualistic game of cat and mouse between cops and massers has taken place ever since - a costly lesson in how little can be achieved by pointlessly macho policing.

Zero tolerance: the most overrated concept of our age.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Hamburg for a wedding

Katie and I took off last weekend (via the rather nightmarish Ryanair/Stansted/Lubeck combo) for Hamburg, Europe's busiest port, home of Airbus, Lenz and the Reeperbahn. Main purpose of the trip was Sonja & Felix' wedding on Saturday. The ceremony was at Johanneskirche in the centre of town, followed by a ferry ride thru the canals and Alte (Hamburg's main lake), and finally onto the river Elbe for a reception on the tall ship Rikman Rikmer.

All manner of other stuff took place, including numerous meals, seven am nights on the Reeperbahn, a visit to one of the world's biggest model railway displays (complete with harbour with working tide and 60 tonnes of water..the control room wouldn't look out of place running central London...crazy), a sojurn on Lenz' yacht. 'Twas a bloody great time, and we've got some photos here.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Aberdeen AFL and Limey

A couple of weekends back, me n Katie trekked up to Aberdeen to visit Mel and Callum. Highlights included the Glenfiddich Distillery tour, Dunnotar Castle and Aberdeen's invigorating nightlife. There's a few pix on this page.

Big time yob fun was had last weekend at the annual AFL challenge match, held at The Oval. It really was ac ase of the lunatics taking over the asylum, with twenty odd thousand screaming antipodeans watching Fremantle and West Coast slug it out for four quarters. And slug it out they did.

Streaker count was zero, and the inevitable pitch invasion was a bit more subdued this year, perhaps because the Oval no longer lets you take in your own drinks. A pictodiary of some of the proceedings are here. We managed to score seats in the Members' Pavillion, which was quite chi chi (and the bar service very slow ain't cricket!). Nice to wander through the Long Room, etc which I guess would have been quite electric a couple of weeks ago when our boys lost the Ashes.

And finally (tho not neccesarily in chronological order) are some general pics of Katie and Scott's London, including an exhibition by Lucy Orta at The Barbican, some masterful cocktails at the Oxo Tower Bar.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Critical Mass, Illegal?

Steve, Hannah, myself and about three hundred other cyclists converged on the Southbank last Friday night for the monthly Critical Mass cycle ride. All was going quite nicely until a flotilla of police on bikes turned up and handed out the friendly little notice that's reproduced to the left. It's interesting that they regard the 'Mass as a "Demonstration", when the website states: "Critical Mass London is a mass cycle around central London to assert our identity as cyclists and celebrate the freedom we should enjoy as cyclists....." It ain't a demonstration, Superintendent Gomm, it's a group ride.

They also maintain that it's "not lawful because no organiser has provided police with the neccessary notification.". Well, if a permanent presence on the internet advising: "....Anyone can join in, just bring yourself and your bike down to the South Bank on the last Friday of each month, between 6pm & 6:45pm under Waterloo Bridge." aint notification, then how come the good officers of the Met have had a presence (and escorted us, blocked intersections, dealt with irate motorists, etc) at every ride I've been on over the last three years or so? Another fact that the cops don't seem to be able to grasp is that there is no organiser (person or committee) of Critical Mass. It's just an organic event that HAPPENS.

Do they crack down on 3,000 cars descending on Highbury for an Arsenal home game every second Saturday? Why incite trouble by trying to close down an event that has been a part of London for the last eleven years?

Monday, October 03, 2005

Just found an album

I just found a Yahoo! album or two I had forgotten about. Both from Germany. One is a trip Trevor & I made to Munich in July 2003 I think. The other is Lenz & my trip to the Nuremburgring in Aug 2003 for the old-timer races.......Click this link for access.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Camping in the New Forest

A heap of us went camping recently at Ashurst Campsite in the New Forest. Luckily, nobody tried to ride the wild horses that were amok throughout the campsite. Expeditions were made to a bog (moderately successful), an Otter and Owl sanctuary (very successful, animals relatively cute, some looked potentially delicious) and numerous pubs (extremely bloody sucessful). All was indispersed with the cooking of snags and bacon, games of cricket and "taunt Hanesy while he's out for the count". All in all a bonza weekend. Lotsa pictures right about here.

Monday, August 15, 2005


Howdy. Tim and I are on the road in the land of Uncle Sam, extra cheese and SUV's. Currently ensconced at chez Julian, Heather and Lilly in the republic of Oakland. On the way, we've done Seattle, Fred Meyer Portland, Lincoln City, WEED, Okiah, lots of burgers and now the bay area of San francisco. vegas, Yosemite and perhaps mexico to come..........

Anyway, there's some pix and stuff right here

Monday, July 25, 2005

Keep Politicians out of sport, ban Howard at Lord's

Keep politicians out of sport, ban Howard at Lord's

Marina Hyde on Australia's rent-a-quote PM

Monday July 18, 2005


One of the many drawbacks to politics is that it's just not cricket. But that's hardly cricket's fault, and in this context nothing sinks the heart about the forthcoming Lord's Test quite like the news that the Australian PM John Howard will be gracing it with his presence. That Mr Howard has caused a diplomatic row (of which more later) to attend this first Ashes Test is a matter for him; what is a matter for us is that his appearance in some commentary box or other this week is now teeth-grindingly inevitable. Similarly, it is his look-out if he wants to whip up jingoistic fever in his own land to win elections but, in the name of sanity, why is he so often permitted to ruin a perfectly good day's cricket?

If ever there were a case for the separation of powers between sport and politics, Mr Howard is it. A serial infiltrator of the commentary box, he sees nothing untoward in punctuating wildly unenlightening ruminations on play with the announcement of a foreign policy initiative or a riff on the war on terror.

Not even these pages are safe - in fact, given he penned a column on the eve of the 2003 Rugby World Cup final, it may be technically accurate to describe the Aussie premier as my sometime colleague. In the course of his opus he revealed he had watched the England-Wales quarter-final in Tony Blair's Downing Street kitchen - a faintly unsettling detail at the time and even more so with hindsight when one wonders whether the two men might have forgone this pleasure and devoted the time to, say, focusing on the aftermath of that whole war thing in which they were engaged.

Heaven knows what day this creature is to pitch up at Lord's but you can bet your last brass razoo that he'll be itching to give those fabled analytical skills a run-out. Mr Howard may be a big fan and he may be under the impression that nattering about sport on the airwaves makes up for his deficiencies elsewhere, but in most instances there are blind wombats with a better feel for what's happening on the field.

In 2000 Mark Waugh was palpably in the wind-down period of his career when he hit a surprise six at the SCG. Like a moth to a flame, Howard leant in to the microphone. "I think we're starting to see the old Mark Waugh again," he noted, a comment which if nothing else rendered Waugh's being bowled next ball utterly predictable.

Why producers indulge him in this irksome habit is a mystery. It's hardly a broadcasting coup, given the needy frequency with which he feels moved to do it, and it's not as if anyone feels bound to solicit, say, Shane Warne's opinion when formulating the Australian government's response to the refugee ship that was stranded off the country's coast a few years ago. (A pity, really, as even Warne's reaction was likely to have been more emotionally sophisticated than Mr Howard's, which appeared to be "Unless any kids actually look like they're going to cark it on the deck in view of the TV helicopter news cameras, keep the buggers out.")

Grasping this concept of discrete specialist subjects was not beyond the former Australia captain Mark Taylor. "I get asked by a lot of people whether we should become a republic," he once explained, "and the answer is: I don't know." We can only dream of a world where John Howard might say "I get asked by a lot of people whether England were wise to delay this series but I don't trot out some trite reply because, frankly, no one gives a stuff what I think."

Alas, Mr Howard's pathological inability to demur is such that he has actually managed to affect what the rest of us get to watch on the pitch. Last summer Muttiah Muralitharan refused to join Sri Lanka's Australian tour because - and it's irrelevant whether or not one privately agrees - the PM had accused him of being a chucker. This week he has contrived to go one step further and cause an actual diplomatic incident: Chilean officials are furious that their president's long planned visit to Australia has been truncated to 30 hours and may be cancelled altogether.

The reason? Mr Howard has an appointment to loiter looking hopeful outside the Lord's media centre. Producers are advised to follow his own guidelines on admitting aliens and keep the bugger out.

Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2005

Sunday, July 17, 2005

James Memorial Ride 2005

On Friday July 15, exactly two years since James died after being knocked off his bike by a motorist, we held the third memorial ride through the street sof North London. Sixty riders started off from Mosquito on Essex Road, from where we wound our way down through Angel, Hatton Gardens, Smithfield, St John Street, and back to the Old Queens Head for some cleansing ales. After closing, we moved on to the traditional "wind down" party at Pyrland Road. Which, inevitably some may say went on until about 10 on Saturday night! James wouldn't have wanted it any different.

There's some pix of the ride and ensuing parties here.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Jeannie & Duncan's wedding

We ventured down to Falmouth in Cornwall last weekend for Duncan & Jeannie's wedding @ Pendennis Castle. Easily the most spectacular setting I've seen for a wedding. A grand time was had by all. With a champagne bottle:guest ratio of 1:1, there wasn't much doubt that it was going to go off like a rocket. There's some photos of the whole episode right here.

Katie & I stayed at The Camelot B&B. Highly recommended.

We drove a Budget Rent a Car. A bunch of pirates. The whole company. Don't touch them with a bargepole.

Friday, July 08, 2005

July 2005

It's July 8, the day after the London bombings. Luckily, I was off work for the day, so managed to avoid central London completely. Braz and Sophie are visiting from Tasmania. Those two, myself and Katie spent yesterday at Pyrland Road, punctuated by a walk down Essex road for a couople of bevvies in Angel, followed by a BBQ back at the house. There's some photos of all that, and some other recent events right here.

You'll also find some photos of the (mis)adventures of my work softball team here.

Friday, May 06, 2005

London Swingfonia

Last Thursday saw Harry Martin and the London Swingfonia strutting their stuff at The Boston in Tufnell Park. A bit of a different pace to my usual reason for heading there, the Dirty Water Club. Anyhow, Harry, and the boys and girls swung till they couldn't swing no more. Looking forward to their next gig, at Lost Vagueness, Glastonbury.

Ivan loves Limey

Katie & Jo's Dad, Ivan hit town last week. He was worried as all his mates had told him that the English beer was "warm and shit". Obviously, as a loyal CAMRA member, I took it upon myself to disprove this theory. Combine that, of course with the history lessons that are to be gained just from sitting in old pubs, and I think Ivan has now been well and truly indoctrinated into London in the springtime. To the degree where he's now on first-name with all the staff at the Shakespeare.

Oh yeah, we looked at some historic (non-pub) stuff as well. In London, Oxford, and Greenwich. Check photos of it all right here.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Sue does London

Sue dropped by London on her way to France to meet up with her family. She's my first antipodean visitor of the summer. And hopefully not the last. Highlights were Kew Gardens on Saturday (tho' not much in the way of fresh blooms) and subsequent sausages, and Courtney Pine gig at the Jazz Cafe Sunday night. Man can blow a sax, eh?

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

A few more photos

Included in this instalment:

  • A day trip to Richmond with Callum, Mel, Andrew & Heidi
  • The debut of the purple pony
  • Scott and Hanesey give the tandem a burl (with hangovers)

Holly's Birthday @ St John

Holly's thirtieth birthday was held in fine style at the rather carnivourous St John Restaurant in Clerkenwell. On the menu was a whole suckling pig. Celeb spot of the evening was some bloke from the Harry Potter films. I suspect some people wished he was on the menu.

There's some snaps from the evening of decadence right about here.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

My Birthday BBQ

The 25th of March 2005 saw my birthday and Good Friday coincide for the first time since 1932 (and it won't happen again until 2016). Of course, it was celebrated in fine style with a BBQ on the front steps of number 18. Despite my protests, people insisted on cooking red meat. Hopefully we atoned ourselves from eternal damnation by having Velvet Jesus watching above us (whilst sitting astride a bubble machine). The Brooklyn style front stoop BBQ idea I think is a winner. For complete authenticity, I think next time we will have to hire in some latin American kids to dance around underneath an open fire hydrant.

Anyhow, 'twas a great day, and there's some pictorial evidence here.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Anti War Rally and a day in Kent

On Saturday, Katie, Jo and YT wento on the first anti-war rally for 2005. So nice of the Stop the War coalition to stop protests while it was a bit chilly. Shame Bush, Blair and Howard didn't stop the mayhem in Baghdad. Still, was a nice day, reasonable crowd, and we managed a couple of pints before and after the march.

Sunday, Katie and I grabbed an AVIS car and headed off to beautiful Kent. We checked out Battle, scene of the Battle of Hastings (and home to the bloke who sells BBQ'd lamb burgers at Islington Grower's markets..saved me from many a hangover), a couple of pubs (!!), and the quaint seaside resort of HAstings. KAtie especially taken with the seaside amusement pavilions. And the real live chavs. Klart!

As usual, there's some pics right here.

Trip to Portreath

Grabbed a Ryanair luxury flight to Cornwall about three weeks ago, to see Duncan, Jeannie, Jonnie and Tanya. Much hilarity, drunkeness, beautiful coastline and clotted cream obviously ensued. Check it out.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Some general snaps

The camera's finally back. I managed to fry it in a car while I was in Queensland with Lou. Didn't tell the tretailer that of course. Fixed under warranty :)

Anyhow, haven't posted anything for a while, so there's some general stuff up in the usual place. Dammit,just realised I can upload full resolution photos to yahoo now, so expect the quality to improve from next post. Ciao 4 now.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005


Had a BBQ at home on Australia Day night. Well attended by fellow antipodeans, as well as a few of the locals. Some photos are on Simon's site, here.