Sunday, August 08, 2010

The Dial Arch.

Dial Arch  969

Well, this is my first posting after my two week loss of internet connectivity. Shirley quite pointedly noted that my loss of internet connection was like Seven Of Nine being separated from the Borg Collective. I disagreed - it was far more traumatic than that! I had originally planned to post a diatribe against British Telecom, but after careful consideration, I have suffered enough, and there is  absolutely no logical reason why you should have to suffer too. Suffice to say that I have made an appointment to upgrade to fibre optic broadband from ADSL next Friday morning. I anticipate getting network speeds around five times faster than I currently experience. I will update accordingly next week.

Dial Arch  970

The photos above and below this block of text were taken by me yesterday when I visited the newly opened pub and restaurant The Dial Arch inside the Woolwich Royal Arsenal Development. The pub is located inside one of the old 18th century administration buildings, originally designed and constructed by John Vanburgh in 1720, from the time when the Arsenal was the premier military installation in the UK . The restoration and conversion of the historic building has taken a couple of years, and I would guess several million pounds of investment by brewers and pub chain owners Wells & Youngs. As befits something within the exclusive Royal Arsenal development, the venue is aimed at an up market, affluent clientele, and certainly would not provide a welcome for the average Woolwich resident. I like the place, though it is expensive (£3.40 for a pint of Young's Special) and the food is pricey too. I feel it is just trying a little bit too hard, and the interior designers were given a bit too much leeway. The military theme running through the place is a bit heavy handed - aluminium mess tins are used on each table as a receptacle for condiments such as ketchup and seasonings, and the gents toilets have framed period 1970's adverts for Action Man on the walls. The place is good, but it could be great if the knocked a couple of quid off the price of the food main courses, and substantially dropped the price of the starters (I had a dozen squid rings served with sea salt, dried chilli flakes and a garlic mayonnaise, which came to £6.95, which I figure is more like restaurant price for what is only really a taster). On the plus side the place is divided into three - a breakfast bar / lounge / pantry serving teas and coffees, along with a selection of home made cakes. This area is child friendly and open all day. On top of this, there is the general bar (photo below) along with a sit down restaurant area with waitress service. The staff are efficient and well trained, though I did comment to the manager that I was surprised that the their real ales were served from pump nozzles fitted with sparklers - this is a practice normally reserved for beers from Yorkshire and the North. London beers are normally served with a smaller, less foamy head. In summary the Dial Arch is good, though a little bit pretentious, a little too pricey, and certainly no threat to the Robin Hood & Little John for the title of best pub in the area. You can see more photos of the place by clicking here.

Dial Arch  971

I know there has been much press activity over the last year or so concerning motorists flouting the law that bans the use of mobile phones whilst driving, well the poor practice seems to have spread; last week, whilst awaiting the arrival of the broadband engineer, I was looking out of my bedroom window, only to  see an unhelmetted chav riding a motor scooter along the road whilst sending a text from his mobile telephone. It was wrong on so many levels, but he seemed blithely oblivious - probably as he was having trouble with the English language. He was a danger both to himself and other road users. Incidentally I recently discovered, that according to Department of Transport figures, bikers represent 1% of total road users, but around 20% of road deaths. Not a figure to be taken lightly.

With the trauma of no internet connection, I found time to listen to a collection of episodes of BBC Radio 4 situation comedy "Old Harry's Game" - written by and starring comedian Andy Hamilton. The series is set in Hell and features Satan, some of his staff and a smattering of the damned. Basically the show is a modern update on The Pilgrim's Progress, only with knob gags. It is quite philosophical, and raises some interesting moral questions, along with some great jokes. You can read more about the series by clicking here.

This is meant to be a record year for wasps; apparently the cold winter and warm summer are ideal breeding conditions for this most pernicious and malicious insect. If there is one single thing I could eliminate from existence it would be wasps - forget nuclear weapons, world peace or feeding the starving - I would completely render wasps extinct. They have no point other than to fly around stinging people. I detest them at a sub atomic particular level. They have absolutely no redeeming properties whatsoever - they are the Daleks of the insect world. I dare someone to disagree with me. Feel free to post a comment below; it will be published after moderation within twenty four hours, or maybe sooner.

I have been updating my Flickr photos, and Flickr have been updating the look and feel of the site; I must admit that I am still getting used to the changes, but overall everything seems to work just fine. You can see my Flickr photo stream by clicking here.

I continue to spend nearly all of my working week in the new flagship Canary Wharf office building; below is a photo of me taken whilst testing a new HD web cam. Suffice to say the camera worked fine, but the application it is to be used with still needs some coding polish before it is suitable for use.

Hugh in office from webcam

Some weeks ago I mentioned that it was a good idea to refurbish old computers, rather than recycling them, which actually tends to be wasteful and harmful to the environment, especially when the hardware is sent to developing countries where health and safety rules are lax, if applicable at all.  You can read a revealing and informative new article on the subject by clicking here. I will shortly have a computer to refurbish - namely my Mum's original 2005 vintage Apple iMac Mini. It is one of the very early models with an IBM G4 Power PC 32 bit processor. Apple's excellent OS X operating system is no longer produced for this configuration, so in order to keep the machine up to date, it will need a new operating system installed. I am choosing the popular and well supported Yellow Dog Linux, which is aimed at computers using the Power PC processor family. I will let you know how things go in the next week or two; hopefully I will be able to restore the iMac Mini to another few years' productive use with a modern and supported operating system, rather than condemning it to the scrap heap.

Much has been written about the BBC 1 TV mini series Sherlock, which comes to the end of its' short three episode run tonight. As a long time Sherlock Holmes fan I was intrigued with show runners Stephen Moffatt and Mark Gatiss. They are the stalwarts behind the current incarnation of Doctor Who. They have managed to sprinkle their magic powder on the Sherlock Holmes universe, updating it to current times; it is a conceit that is extremely successful, though my only concern is that rooting the consulting detective firmly in the here and now, the show will date very quickly indeed. Despite this it is really great Sunday night entertainment.

The video clip this week has been featured once before, but it was a long time ago and many readers may not have seen it. The clip, taken from an old and worn VHS cassette was recorded from Sky News, way back in August 1992. It shows the UK's first legally licenced offshore radio station, somewhat unimaginatively called Offshore Radio, moored just off Walton on the Naze on the Essex Coast. The station was based on the M.V Galexy (yes, the spelling is correct) - a refurbished River Tyne ferry boat, and former Radio Caroline supply vessel, which featured in the classic British Gangster movie "Get Carter". It was owned by my friend and one time mentor Captain Alex Pluck.  The broadcasting staff and engineering team were a group of radio enthusiasts loosely associated with a number of radio ventures of varying persuasions. I spent a few days on board during the broadcasts, but never actually went on air, as I was still officially working for Radio Caroline, and it could have caused some awkward questions to be asked if I had broadcast.  Have a look and if you feel inclined, please leave a comment below, as always.


  1. I demand to see prove of your statistical claim that "bikers represent 1% of total road users, but around 20% of road deaths", This is another blatant misrepresentation of the facts. 20% of all bikers that have have died would have at one time rode bikes on the road, this in it's self does not quantify such a statement. There's lies, damn lies and statistics!
    (Apart from that it's lovely to see you back!!)


  2. The stats came from the DOT. I don't know how they were gathered, but my own opinion they reflect badly on other road users not giving bikes due consideration. Oh - and thanks - it is good to be back!

  3. Would appreciate getting in touch. I'm, &@hughflouch