Travel

Lockdown Dinners at The Dogs’ Diner (and other suspiciously similar-looking places)

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It started with some fizz…

PROLOGUE

There are three things that you need to know about Chez Snail:

  1.  There is an attention-loving, and hence pesky, spaniel-based lifeform called Daisy who is involved in the day-to-day running of some eating and drinking establishments shown here.
  2. There is a squeaky-ball-obsessed terrier-based lifeform called Sam, who also appears to be involved in self same establishments.
  3. There is a general level of silliness that pervades the very bricks and mortar of Chez Snail.

END OF PROLOGUE

Three weeks after lockdown started, the Snail said to me “Dress up, we’re going out to eat”. As only one of these things was actually illegal (my crimes of fashion were already being well documented and paid for), I thought “OK then”. And off we went, to the Limery, where The Bistro at Chez Snail has just, like a good pop-up restaurant, well, popped up. We drank fizz and ate yummy food, and I got to wash up afterwards.

Such a good idea was this (the pop-up restaurant not the washing up, although that becomes a good idea when you’re left eating off of old crisp packets), that we started up some more eating establishments. Here they are, in no order whatsoever…

First, the menus from our trips to The Bistro at Chez Snail:

And then the cafés and cocktail bars we have frequented:

And finally, the restaurants we have eaten in:

There was also one evening at the cinema – the film was much less taxing than the sign for it!

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And the name of the film is…

I started the hashtag #stayinginisthenewgoingout on Twitter and, including the usage figures from today, I can see that it has caught on the way government advisors catch on to the rules they created*.

The Snail and I are privileged to be able to express our silliness in order to make this odd life we are currently experiencing a little more bearable and I hope by sharing it, it maybe makes a few people smile and perhaps inspires people to create a little silliness of their own!

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I’ll have my dinner now, thanks

Next time: A mini pub crawl…

oOo

* Apologies, this is mildly passive-aggressive political satire. But I am guessing that those of you who kindly read my blog probably don’t read that of a certain Dominic Cummings or if you do, only under some kind of duress. Anyway, what I meant to convey was that no one has used the hashtag.

Categories: General silliness, Travel | Tags: , | 13 Comments

Science and Art (with a couple of Beasties too) Part the First…

… or SOMETIMES WHEN YOU’RE WRITING A NOVEL, IT’S GOOD TO GET OUT FOR A BIT, ER, PART THE FIRST

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Beasties ensuring I don’t get up to too much mischief

As one or two of you* may be aware, I have been working away from home during the week for the last 18 months, back in my old home-from-home Reading. I have friends down here so, whilst it is hard being away from the Snail and the pups, my homesickness is softened by good company (and maybe a shandy or two** from time-to-time).

My contract in the real world concluded at the end of 2019 leaving me with 6 months rental on a flat. I decided to take this opportunity to use it as a base to finish novel number 3 and start on novel number 4 and possibly even number 5. Possibly.

The thing is, I can walk to Reading railway station and be no more than about 10 minutes or so from a train to London, so it seems rude not to avail oneself of that every now and again (back in Wales, I live 20 miles from the nearest station that only has trains that go north).

To London, then, with a nifty backpack filled with a reusable mug, JonBeastie and JanBeastie (see here for more beastie details). Our first port of call was the Science Museum, home at the moment to an exhibition of objects relating to Britain’s code-breaking expertise over the last century.

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Not my old typewriter, honest, but an SG41, a very rare German cipher machine that was, unlike the more famous Enigma device, unbreakable by the geniuses at Bletchley Park.  

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A 5 UCO: a British cipher machine so secret, they were all destroyed after WW2. Somewhere, an old civil servant is being shown this picture and told “You had one job to do…”

There are, of course, millions of items in the museum but I did notice these two on my way out. This is a theorbo, somewhat reminiscent of a guitar I have:

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and this item, that made me feel so old, I felt I should have been in the case with it holding a sign saying “Example of typical owner”:

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Ancient technology, apparently

I saved up and bought my one in 1980 and it still works today, using the same Casio battery that came with it. It has a liquid crystal display with sufficient digits to show how old I am and, when I get home to Wales, I am going to check that it is still on my desk.

I needed something new and artistic to stop me going and taking up residence in the case with the prototype of the Clock of the Long Now, so I and beasties headed to…

TO BE CONTINUED…

oOo

* I reckon two.

** I reckon more than two.

 

Categories: Artwork, computers, Travel, Writing | Tags: , , , , | 7 Comments

Tank(ard)s for the memory

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Lurking at the back of the now newly-endoored* kitchen cupboard (see here for details) was this commemorative pint glass from the excitingly named Brewing Congress of the Americas. Back in 1992, I had a real job and just this once was allowed to go further afield than Yorkshire.

It was the first time I had ever flown in an aircraft – I flew from Heathrow to O’Hare, Chicago and then took another flight an hour later to St Louis. Fortunately, it turned out I quite liked flying, even when the landing at St Louis rearranged my coccyx somewhat.

I hadn’t really thought about that trip for years until this tankard emerged from the cupboard. Sadly, the severely cracked glass has had to be recycled but it lives on, in blog form, here.

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oOo

  • To endoor – to put a door on. Not to be confused with endear, which is the bit at the base of your earlobe.
Categories: General silliness, Travel | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Yurt-y Dancing

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Walls have (Volunt)eers

26th April. Oh yes, it must be late spring because it is time to put the Denmark Farm yurt up again!

So, a brave band of volunteers braved the lovely weather – er, and the five minutes of snow – to erect the yurt that, this year, has a completely new canvas which includes an extra bit that goes over the top to help protect the main canvas from the elements. Or so I was told.

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Gary wanting to know why I have abandoned my post

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Crowning Glory

A gang of six of us made short work of putting up the walls and fixing the crown. A yurt is a truly wonderful piece of engineering and has a certain beauty, even ‘naked’ without its canvas. But not very weatherproof.

After a short break for coffee and lemon drizzle cake, we embarked on fitting the canvas.

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The old canvas (poor thing, I think it was about six years old) was beginning to look a bit tired and, although there was still a few years left in the material, it was decided that a new one was in order. The new yurt was made by someone in Pembrokeshire who agreed to pass the old one onto Calais where it will be used in the refugee camp there. How great is that?

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The Yurt has got its hat on… er, nearly

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Just needs its cap on now

Fitting the canvas, the green bit (which is made of similar material to a ground sheet and so quite heavy) and the window on the top took a bit of finagling and involved the use of a really clever fast release knot, which seemed like to magic to me (one end of the rope tightened the knot, the other undid it).

We needed some new pegs to attach the guy ropes to, so made these with the help of a shave horse. A shave horse is a great tool, you can make one yourself pretty easily and it does not involve shaving, horses, or shaving horses.

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Making proper tent pegs

 

With the new yurt in place, it was time for tea and cake. Again. You can see why volunteer days are popular!

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Ready for the arduous tea-drinking stage

Fancy spending a night or two in it? Go on! Check out http://www.denmarkfarm.org.uk/eco-campsite/ for more information.

oOo

 

 

Categories: recycling, Sustainable Stuff, Travel | Tags: , , | 4 Comments

Hiding in Plain Sight

Hammerfest - not a nail-driving implement in sight

Hammerfest – not a nail-driving implement in sight

It seems likes a long time ago I was in Norway, sliding serenely up, and then down, the fjords between Bergen and Kirkenes. I was trying to think of something to write tonight, as I prepare for the end of my “other life”, at least for the time being. Another week and I will be back at home during the week as well as weekends, enjoying the delights of our soon-to-be-completed Limery (see thesnailofhappiness’s post here about that).

My thoughts wandered to Hammerfest and how, sometimes, taking a little time out to just look, to really look at the world can make a difference.

Look at the building – the one with the clock. The Snail and I did. What we saw, what we focussed on, was the mural:

Here be, er, dragons

Here be, er, dragons

What was a Welsh-looking dragon doing here, so far North of anywhere? What was it doing trying to breathe fire AND sword-swallow at the same time? The guy with the beard seems pretty nonplussed about the whole thing. We had no idea what this was about.

To be honest, we still don’t.

And to be even more honest, it was only after we were back on board the ship, looking over our pictures, that we noticed that this odd-looking rock formation was in fact, a thing (not just an odd-looking rock formation next to a clock):

Can you see it?

Can you see it?

As I prepare to leave Reading, I wonder what I have missed by looking, but not seeing. Perhaps I should go on a “sight-seeing” tour before I leave! Watch this space… but don’t look too hard.

There are times when you can’t see for looking – and when you can’t see the cat for the dragon.

oOo

Categories: General silliness, Travel, Writing | Tags: , , , , | 6 Comments

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