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I once was lost, but now I'm found!

Posted by Chalky on Dec 31, 2008 in Music

Lost and Found Orchestra LogoToday, I went to see the Lost and Found Orchestra at the Royal Festival Hall in the Southbank Centre. The Southbank Centre is in Central London, and has recently been renovated.

We were on row SS, so we were a bit concerned that we would be miles back and wouldn’t be able to see. Luckily the Hall had sloped seating (we were on the 5th floor) and the view of the stage was excellent. If anything, it was better being higher up because we were able to see all of the performers that were higher up!

Lost and Found Orchestra StageThe  show was excellent, very different to what you normally expect from a show. As a lover of Blue Man Group, I really thoroughly enjoyed this show!

For those who don’t know, The Lost and Found Orchestra makes instruments made out of everyday household/office objects. Some of the obscure items that had been transformed into instruments included:

  • Bed
  • Traffic Cones
  • Filling Cabinet
  • Vacuum Cleaner
  • Shopping Trolley
  • Bellows
  • Water Fountain Bottles (lots of them!)
  • Glass Tumblers
  • Glass Bottles
  • Water
  • Frying Pan
  • Rubber Tubes
  • Bin Bags
  • Paper
  • Wooden Sticks
  • Space Hoppers
  • Office Chairs
  • Plastic Funnel

…and those were the only ones I could remember!

Their other show, STOMP, is currently touring around the world and I think I’m might have already missed the UK leg of the tour which is a great shame as I’d have loved to have seen it. Hopefully it’ll swing by again soon.

Unfortunately, the show is only running until the 11th Jan but if you find yourself in London before then, it’s certainly worth a visit!

 
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At the Beeb

Posted by Chalky on Dec 29, 2008 in Random

BBC LogoAfter spending too much time in the new Westfield Shopping Centre in London’s White City area and finding absolutely nowhere to have something to eat, we decided to pop across to Val’s Office at Television Centre to nosh our recently acquired sandwiches from Eat. 

Prank Patrol VanOn the way into Television Centre I spotted the Prank Patrol Van hidden in a corner of the complex. For those who don’t know this is CBBC’s latest hidden camera show where children play tricks on their friends and relatives and is shown on BBC Two and the CBBC Channel.

BBC Visitor's BadgeAfter signing in, we wondered through several buildings to reach Val’s Office Block. We went past the area where Studio Audiences wait before going in to the Studio, which features a BBC Shop. We also went through one of the BBC Prop Stores on the way through. Here, we saw some of the drapes and curtains used for Strictly Come Dancing and the Blue Peter set.

Val's OfficeWhen we reached Val’s Office, we tucked into our late lunch. I had a spicy seafood pasta salad which was rather nice and a Lemon Cheesecake which was equally as nice. We slouched about for a bit and watched a few classic epiosodes of Top Gear, what more could you want! Well, there was Table Football but no-one wanted to have a game with me :( .

Ice Skating After returning from London, we went Ice Skating at Hampton Court Palace. It wasn’t as busy as it has been in past years which made it all the more enjoyable even though my ankles were killing by the end of it! I’m also pleased to say that I didn’t fall over which is always a bonus. At the end of the Skating Session, I was treated to a Galaxy Hot Chocolate with a generous shot of Baileys and Squirty Cream on top!

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Signs of Age

Posted by Chalky on Dec 23, 2008 in Life Stuff, Rants

With my 23rd birthday having been and gone, whilst down South in Surrey a few weekends ago, I started to contemplate that fact that I am getting old (as you do). I came to this conclusion due to a number of reasons which I thought I’d share with you:

·         Openly Complaining

Those who know me well will wonder what I’m on about as I’m known for my moaning about pretty much anything. But it’s progressed beyond that, I find myself openly complaining about random things; Instead of complaining quietly afterwards, I’ll complain to the company/persons involved.

For example, on the way down to Surrey a week last Friday, travelling down the M1, I drove past Leicester. My daily dose of Paramore kept getting interrupted because BBC Radio Leicester kept broadcastingthe RDS TA (Radio Data System Traffic Alert) Flag. Normally this is a good thing because you are kept up to date with the lastest Travel News. However, on this occasion BBC Radio Leicester were broadcasting the flag and playing some dire Caribbean/Reggae music. Each time I switched back to my CD, the flag was sent again.

It got to the point where i actually rung up BBC Radio Leicester to complain about it! See what I mean!

·         Referring to my Youth

Now, it’s not quite “When I was a lad, things were diffrerent, young peoplehad respect for their elders.” But, I do find myself reminising days gone by and I often talk about School/Sixth Form/University life as though it was many moons ago when, in actual fact, it was only a couple of years ago.

·         Commenting on Students’ Dress Sense

I know that I haven’t got any reason to talk, I’m hardly the fashion item of theCentury, but I just find some of the clothes that the Students at work wear are completely mental. It’s even just clothes really, for example, there is one Student at work who has bright orange hair. When I say bright orange, it more bright than any orange I can find in the text colour selector. It’s bright highlighter orange and basically looks like they’ve cracked a Stabilo Boss pen over their head!

I mean, I didn’t even think they made hair dye in that colour, I wonder if it was some kind of custom mixture. Although, it’s not like I hang around the Hair Dye aisle of Tesco so for all i know, it would be their best selling Dye!

So, it could just be my old age but I just can’t imagine how that could be thought as looking good. I mean, it must be a good thing for their friends because they’ll never be able to lose her, even if they wanted to! No offence to the Student though, I’m sure she thinks she looks great.

·         Inability to handle alcohol

“Back in the day,” I used to be known for my ability to down drinks rapidly. However, in recent months, I’ve found that this ‘skill’ has somewhat dwindled. Even if I want to, I can no longer down a Pint of Carling like I used to be able to. In fact, it takes me nearly an hour to drink a Pint these days.

·         No idea of who 95% of the people in the UK Top 40 are and have no desire to listen to their ‘music’

I don’t know if this is to do with age generally or just because my taste in music has changed/got stuck in a timewarp over the years. Either way, I couldn’t tell you more than 2 or 3 people that are currently in the UK Top 40, nor could I recongise the songs associated with those artists.

 
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Britain's Got Class(!)

Posted by Chalky on Dec 21, 2008 in Random

I saw this in Nottingham East Midlands Airport just before I flew out to Belfast City Airport. I think it pretty much sums up everything that has become wrong in British Culture these days:

Answers on a postcard please…

 
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Greetings from a Cold, Wet and Foggy Northern Ireland

Posted by Chalky on Dec 21, 2008 in Driving

I’m away in Northern Ireland over the weekend doing my last bit of work for the Victoria College of Music for 2008. I have been here before during the Summer months. I’m hoping that I will get a bit of time to have a look around this time but we will see how it goes. With the weather being the way it is, I might not want to go out exploring!

 

I travelled down to Nottingham East Midlands Airport on Friday afternoon to catch the 16:20 plane to Belfast City with Ryanair. I quite like East Midlands Airport, it’s certainly much nicer and friendlier than Heathrow, still it doesn’t beat Doncaster which is by far my favourite airport. The journey was fine until we got to Belfast where the weather was awful. Gale-force winds made landing difficult and pilot recieved cheers all round when we landed safely.

Upon landing, I proceeded to the Avis Car Hire Desk to pick up my hire car. I was slightly disappointed when they handed over the keys to a Citroen C3 as I was looking forward to driving something different! Last time I came, I was given a Peugeot 207 which I thoroughly enjoyed driving. However, when I got in the C3 I was pleasantly suprised to see that this 2008 model had been given a makeover since my 2005 spec car and it was interesting to see the differences even though it is the same car. I will probably write a post comparing the two at some point.

I am staying in a Premiere Inn in a place called Carrickfergus. The Premiere Inn is joined to a Brewers Fayre, both of which appear to have only been year a year or so. It’s right on the Harbour edge and you can see all of the boats moored in the harbour. It’s also a stones throw away from Carrickfergus Castle. This Premiere Inn is, so far, the best one I have stayed in. The staff have been extra friendly and helpful during my stay, which is always a good thing! The food has also been good with the staff in the Brewers Fayre, called The Harbour, being equally as pleasant.

Yesterday, I did my work for the Victoria College of Music before returning back to the hotel. It was a miserable day with only a few hours of daylight. The rest of the day was covered with all nasty forms of weather. The only thing I didn’t get was snow and ice! It was certainly the tickets Fog that I had ever driven through and I was glad the C3 I had been given was equipped with both rear and front Fog Lights! I took me over 2 hours to make the, normally 45 minute, journey back to the hotel.

Today, I’m hoping the weather is going to be a bit better and that I will have chance to explore a bit more of Northern Ireland before I make my way back to Belfast City Airport for my flight back to EMA at 5pm.

 
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Chavin’ It Up for Christmas

Posted by Chalky on Dec 19, 2008 in Random

I saw this on, whatever the Saturday Morning show is called nowadays, and couldn’t resist saying something about it. It doesn’t really need much introduction other than is there any wonder that the World is the way it is nowadays? Next Bob the Builder will be teaching children how to smoke weed!

Get the Flash Player to see the wordTube Media Player.

 
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Happy 50th Birthday Mum!

Posted by Chalky on Dec 18, 2008 in Random

On Friday, it was my Mum’s 50th Birthday. We woke up extra early to see her opening her presents before me and Jill had to toddle off to work. She did pretty well on the present front scoring, amongst other things, an iPod Nano and speakers, a Love Links chain and £100 in cash.

On Saturday, the real celebrations began. First we went out for a meal with close family and friends at The Moorlands. It was a great atmosphere and everyone really seemed to enjoy themselves which was great. In the evening, we had a ‘do’ down at Woodseats Methodist where family and friends were invited to celebrate Mum’s birthday. We had a buffet from Think Sandwich on Abbey Lane which was both tasty and expansive. In the end, we had to give over half of it away to the Salvation Army, I think it will have kept them going for a few days!

My hat goes off to my sister Jill who put so much time and effort into the weekend. I felt bad that I wasn’t more involved but at the same time it was good because I knew that if it had been left up to me, I would have made a complete pig’s ear hole of the whole thing. I’m better sticking to what I know. Speaking of which, as part of the celebrations, I made my now seemingly obligatory slideshow depicting my Mother throughout the centuries:

Get the Flash Player to see the wordTube Media Player.

Other photos from the celebrations can be found here.

 
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The Return of the XBOX

Posted by Chalky on Dec 17, 2008 in Random

Yesterday, I received my XBOX back from Frankfurt via UPS. I was pretty pleased because:

  1. It meant I will have my XBOX for my Birthday
  2. The repair took less time that Microsoft has said.
When I opened the box, I was almost certain that I had been shipped a brand new XBOX, however on closer inspection I found that it was still my original XBOX. However, I was very pleased that they had replaced the front faceplate as this has been damaged in my move from Scunthorpe to Sheffield, hence why I thought it was new. The XBOX has had a new Motherboard and a new DVD Drive along with the new faceplate. 
I’ve only played on it for a very limited amount of time but everything appears to be in order. The XBOX seems slightly quieter overall but it could just be my imagination. 
As well as receiving my XBOX in better condition than when it went, I was very pleased to see that Microsoft has included a covering letter explaining what work had been carried out on the XBOX and a voucher for a free month’s of XBOX Live Gold as compensation for the inconvenience that I had been caused. tHis was a very welcome surprise and means that I can put off renewing XBOX Live until after Christmas.
Anyway, all in all I’m pretty chuffed with the outcome, hence me posting the results as I usually moan about things. I’m sure normal service will be resumed shortly!

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Good Runnings

Posted by Chalky on Dec 17, 2008 in Driving

I’ve had my 2005 Citroën C3 Desire (named Clarence) for 4 months now and I’ve never really said much about it. The car is holding up very well considering it makes a 100 mile round trip to Scunthorpe every week day. So far I’ve already clocked up 13,000 miles in him:

Odometer

Odometer

A week ago, I drove all the way “down South” with it and have to say that I have been very impressed with it. The car is extremely comfortable and very easy to drive. The steering is feather light, which took some getting used to coming from a car with no Power Steering at all; The steering is as light as the Grande Punto I test drove with the City button turned on.

On the way back, I decided to fill the car up and reset all of the trip/MPG/Average Speed counters and decided to do a little benchmarking. Here are the readouts from the On-Board Computer after the journey:

Trip Counter

Trip Counter

Average Miles Per Gallon

Average Miles Per Gallon

Average Speed

Average Speed

The journey was a mixture of town and Motorway driving, including the queues for the Dartford Tunnel, M25 Roadworks and the two lots of Roadworks on the M1. I had my Dipped Beam on for half of the journey and my side lights on for a quarter of the journey. I didn’t have the Air Conditioning turned on for any part of the journey. I also had my sisters TomTom One v3 and my CD Player on at a moderately loud volume. I mention those because some people say that things like that don’t make much of a difference, which of course they do. The headlights and radio take quite a lot of power, which increases Fuel Consumption.

To show this is context, I switched the engine of my car off and left the CD Player running. I have a power meter in my car which is part of my multi-socket adaptor for the Cigarette Lighter. You can see how quickly the power from the battery is drained by the CD player:

Get the Flash Player to see the wordTube Media Player.

You can see that the car will have to work to keep the battery charged. Air Conditioning takes even more power than devices powered by the Cigarette Lighter socket. In my C3, when you turn the Air Conditioning on, you can hear and feel the power been sucked away from the engine. Still, I couldn’t do without it in the summer!

With a 1.4 Litre Petrol engine, the C3 is not exactly designed to be as economic as the smaller engined cars. It’s never going to be as economical as Jill’s Peugeot 107, so I was very happy with this figure because it’s a higher than the 46.3 mpg that is quoted by Citroen themselves. It’s not very often that you find that you can get the Miles Per Gallon that is specified. However, the 57.6 mpg that they quote for Extra-Urban driving is certainly pie in the sky unless you were coasting down a hill the entire time!

There only disappointment was the price that Windscreen Wipers are for it! Whilst down in Surrey, I decided it was high time, especially with the bitter weather, to replace the Wipers. I’m pretty sure the Bosch Wipers that were on the car are the original Wipers that were on the car when it was brand new. They’ve been causing a little bit of grief as of late, especially in the morning when the Windscreen has been cold. So, I decided to pop in Halfords and get them replaced. I was shocked when the Grand Total for my Wiper Blades came to £31.97 and that didn’t include fitting! £16.49 for the Driver’s Side, £8.49 for the Passenger Side and £6.99 for the Rear Wiper Blade. It knocked me back a bit considering a set of 2 Front Wiper Blades for my Mk.1 FIAT Punto was only £16.99! I suppose the consolation was that I could get the full set of Blades from Halfords, whereas I could only get a rear Wiper Blade for the Punto from a FIAT Dealer.

Whilst on the subject of cars, I’d like to take a moment to remember my first car, Pipsqueak that tragically died on the 13th December 2007 whilst attached to a lampost:

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Cough Medicine with Clout!

Posted by Chalky on Dec 4, 2008 in Random

I came across this little gem the other day from Denmark. It’s called Ga-Jol and it’s basically a Liquorice Vodka Shot which tastes very much like Covonia! It also somehow has the power, like Covonia to tackle coughs (even the World Famous Chalky Cough of Doom) but has some distinct advantages:

  • It actually cures a cough
  • It contains Vodka
  • It is alcoholic
Which, in my opinion are all key features of any cough relieving liquid! One thing that I found odd with the bottle is that it is covered with the sticker as you can see. So, in order for you to see how much ‘stuff’ is left, they give you a gauge on the side:
Unfortunately, the sticker round the bottle means that it is very dark inside and the drink is brown which basically makes it impossible to see how much is left!
Also, when you take a look at the ingredients, Ga-Jol is probably actually better for you:
Ga-Jol
  • Vodka
  • Sugar
  • Liquorice
  • Ammonium Chloride
  • Flavour
Cavonia
  • Dextromethorphan Hydrobromide BP
  • Menthol BP
  • Anise Oil BP
  • Capsicum Tincture BPC 1973
  • Caramel BPC (E150)
  • Cetomacrogol 1000 BP
  • Cineole BPC 1973
  • Chloroform BP
  • Citric Acid Monohydrate BP (E330)
  • Diethyl Ether
  • Glycerol BP (E422) 
  • Peppermint oil BP 
  • Purified Water BP 
  • Syrup BP
  • Sucrose 
If Vodka flavoured Covonia doesn’t float your boat you could always tried Fisherman’s Friend Vodka Shots:
I have to admit, this stuff is horrible but then again, I don’t like Fisherman’s Friend!
Anyway, it’s not really likely that you’re going to come across these in your local Tesco so I’m not quite sure why I even wrote this… Oh well.