Friday, 29 July 2016

Conveyancing in the UK

I'm gonna buy a field and erect a wire fence and public seating around it.

I'm gonna buy some lions.

When the lions are really really hungry, I'm gonna feed them solicitors and estate agents.

Book early to avoid disappointment.

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Coal holes, KX, Kent, Brexit and Welsh deprivation

As you will know, Aberystwyth is surprisingly well provided in unusual and interesting architecture and street furniture. Notably, the number of surviving coal-hole lids is high: as soon as I am released from the wage-labour that is the National Plant Phenomics Centre I shall be conducting a survey of them.

A recent reunion trip with Patrick and John took me to Llundain, a rather run-down capital city of one of Europe's [slowly] developing nations, and it was a surprise to discover that there too, there were street views of interest. A number of coal lids can be found between Tavistock Square and Kings Cross:

Kings Cross was interesting - just imagine something with the functionality of Aberystwyth railway station, but without any of the creature comforts or facilities that the Welsh terminus has to offer. We were amused to note that the resited Platform 9.75 was so popular that it had an official queue and was staffed by a specially trained human being.

Yn ddiweddarach, ymwelais i â'r wyrion, who were in fine fettle. Visiting the site of the 2017 nuptials, we saw LBSG 1016815 (a lovely 2087/2), and a very fine wartime relic (arguably more attractive than the chosen tithe barn, but perhaps not everyone would agree on this).

In other news, more than half of those who could be arsed to vote turned out to be dumbfoundingly stupid; unbelievably this was also true in yr hen wlad fy nhadau. (Roedd Ceredigion gan amlaf yn synhwyrol). Merthyr and other Valley areas were already adrift of most deprivation leagues, but you ain't seen nothing yet!

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Tempers snap in Ceredigion

Never known for their peace-making tendencies, Euro-friendly inhabitants of Ceredigion snapped into vigilante action yesterday.

Outraged beyond measure by a morning wireless interview with Trevor Kavanagh, Editor [sic] of the Sun newspaper [sic] on the topic of the upcoming under-publicised Euro-referendum, they took the only action open to them to redress the balance of political debate by defacing the Aberystwyth flagpoles - a brave move given the well known attitude of British justice to defacing of public materials.

Large numbers of outraged residents, masked and disguised, braved the June weather, flanked by protective troupes of Russian football hooligans on bicycles. Armed with labels and sellotape, they made a clean sweep of the poles, interfering with English labels to align them with the Sun's view of future political geography. Politically moderate dog-walkers attempting to reason with them were mercilessly beaten by the Russians; their broken bodies were thrown onto the beach to be pecked to death by seagulls awaiting the morning opening of Y Blwch Sglodion.

As the sun rose [sic] over the turbulent town, the evidence of night-time criminality was all too evident. Morning bar-kickers clustered around the poles aghast at the lengths the activists had gone to. At Coffee #1 on Portland Street, HQ of the Ceredigion Brexit [sic] campaign, the endless queue patiently waiting for insipid scalding coffee was alive with debate on the best mode of retaliation. Oliver Cromwell's well known slighting of Aberystwyth castle will seem as nothing compared to the ruins Aberystwyth will become as a result of these daring acts as tempers rise.

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Camulodunum: land of Burton, Butterfly and Schrödinger's dog

Camulodunum, or "Colchester" as it is known to the Anglo-Saxons, offers much in its vicinity. For example:
  1. A little-known Burton.
  2. A visit to Boyle Père.
  3. Notification of a new publication.
  4. A visit to Leisureworld. I thought they were a lazy lot in Camulodunum while I was holding my own in the pool fast lane, until a 10yo Knell ringer appeared and left me for standing at all strokes. Then her slightly older brother appeared and started butterfly training. I went to the pub.
  5. Clacton Pier which is longer than Aberystwyth Pier, but naffer (no, really).
  6. Colchester Arts Centre, whereat you sometimes see Andy Zaltzman the interactive stand-up comedian with hair like this. He coined a nice joke about Schrödinger's dog in response to my question.

Monday, 11 January 2016

Time - He's waiting in the wings

The BBC write: The Vatican's chief spokesman on cultural matters, Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, tweeted lyrics to Space Oddity in tribute to Bowie while Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said he was "very very saddened to hear of his death".

Well how on Earth will they react when I go?

Friday, 8 January 2016

Exeter City FC versus Liverpool FC - match report

The highlight of this game - overlooking the score - was the close-up of the ball.

Tisdale had bought a permanent marker and inscribed ECFC on it in case Benteke thought about nicking it.

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Llawr Sglefrio Caersŵs [Caersws Ice Rink]

Gwerddon yn yr anialwch iâ Cymreig (An oasis in the Welsh ice desert)

Leaflets have been everywhere in Aberystwyth advertising the new Caersws Ice Rink. We decided to go one night with our Dutch cleaner Grietje1 as they had a promotion offering half-price entry and a free advocaat for Dutch people. All the way there on the train we practised our Dutch, so that when we got to the entrance Grietje could do the talking, and all we had to do was stand behind her nodding, and saying things like Verkoopt u postzegels?, Hottentottententententoonstellingsterrein and Deze mevrouw betaalt alles to each other. This worked depressingly easily, and we all got discount entry and enjoyed our advocaats (although this last bit was challenging).

The rink is a good bit of entrepreneurial innovation by Powys County Council. Recognising the rapidly declining benefits of solar investment, and the precarious state of the County's schools, a large solar farm and medium-sized primary school (Ysgol Walter Watkins) were flattened to make way for the new development, thereby killing two birds with one stone (or lladd dwy frân â'r un ergyd as it is said in Welsh). Early ambitious plans to employ Daniel Libeskind as architect dissolved in acrimonious and rather vulgar arguments about how much you pay for the design of a frozen puddle; the resulting structure, while not perhaps a likely award winner, blends well into the countryside backdrop. The rink is one of the geographically best placed in Wales (see below), with comparatively good public transport in the form of buses and trains, while the Llangollen canal is only 30 miles distant, and Birmingham Airport can be reached in less than three hours.

Unusually, the designers did not use the normal "flat" ice approach, opting instead for a scale model of the nearby Pumlumon range in the Cambrian mountains, presenting the skater with ravines and crevasses aplenty.

Possibly intimidating for beginners, this certainly adds to the fun! An interesting economy measure is to have "one size fits all" skates for hire which can take a little time to get used to. Grietje has twice won the under-12 section of the 200Km Elfstedentocht,
the second time in a Scooby-Doo costume, and so it was no surprise that she brought her own skates. She also brought her Scooby outfit and it took some persuasion on our part to stop her putting it on. She eventually succumbed to reason, and the promise of being allowed to wear it on the journey home to mingle unobserved with the "last train" drinkers returning from Machynlleth to Aber.

Not much expense has been spared within. In addition to the novel ice design, there is a creche, bar and cafe. Unfortunately these were closed for refurbishment during our visit, so a review is not possible. (Grietje was actually rather miffed by this as we had promised her stroopwafel:

We tried to placate her with a one-day old marmite sandwich, but she just stamped her foot and shouted "Dat lijkt niet op voedsel" - all very embarrassing). There is a notice at the rink explaining that customer toilets will be installed in a few months time, but meanwhile there are facilities in the nearby Buck Hotel, although the landlord takes a dim view of skaters using them unless you also buy a drink or two. During our visit, most gentlemen just popped round the side of the building, which seems quite convenient.

So there it is for all your skaters, whether experienced, learners or just would-be's: the brand new Caersws ice rink is easy to reach, novel in many ways, and well appointed. Arriva run trains (in both directions) at least every two hours and there are several buses. This is an attraction to rival Aberystwyth's new bandstand.
Dutch nights are the first Tuesday of every month - Veel geluk/Pob lwc!

1. Some of the names in this article have been changed.

There are two other ice rinks in Wales: