Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Wales - a country with a language hamstrung by pronunciation and lack of vowels

We were on holiday last week (OK, due to production issues it was a couple of weeks ago now) with our friends Joe, Kirsty and Alfie (their Patterdale/Border Terrier cross) for a trip to the very heart of Wales, where we soon discovered that the delights of anything worthwhile doing was always at least an hour’s drive away from where we were staying. 

Nothing say Wales like sheep.... 

Is it wrong to say these are particularly
 attractive looking sheep….

No, no not in that way….


with a bit of lippy, stockings and suspenders


some Mint Jelly if they turn you down...

It's a win win Scenario...although not for the sheep..

The Beast - Nikon D700
13 June 2011
ISO 2000
1/4000 second
The Journey
With our car packed to the gunnels, Mrs B and I had intended to set off at 4pm,  in order to get to the property at a reasonable time….in true BlackLOG style we were over three hours behind schedule setting off, so we didn’t make it to our destination until gone 11.30pm.  As we had  expected to arrive before Joe and Kirsty (apparently dogs take ages to get their things together and are rubbish packers) we were on dinner duty.  Just as well Alfie took extra long packing, as it still gave us just enough time to put together a Chilli-con-Carne (Please note this is the BlackLOG, there is no vegetarian option (1) and, unless it is the only choice, organic is to be avoided at all high costs…(2)  before they arrived for a 1am supper (or does that count as an early breakfast?)

1)  It  should not be forgotten that Hitler was a vegetarian, which is hardly a great endorsement in my book…. Although he did introduce  the world’s first smoking ban, proving that not even homicidal mass murderers are all bad ….. That said, I am currently struggling to find a hint of goodness in Stalin and Mother Teresa (That was Fred West’s evil twin sister wasn’t it?…..)

(2) I truly believe that our over-populated planet cannot be sustained organically.  Which leaves you ethically responsible  organic users, who no doubt pick up your organic produce  in your 4x4 planet destroyer, in a bit of a dilemma.  Are you happy to let millions starve so that you can pay extortionate amounts of money for your vegetables to  be  free range with each plant given an acre of it’s very own to grow in….? 

The 4 hour journey had been a hoot, with Mrs B inexplicably staying awake for the whole 250 miles. Since I had expected to spend 249 of those miles effectively travelling solo, I had brought along company in the form of our two in-car satellite navigation devices (before you ask, we have one for each of our cars),  to do a bit of compare and contrast.  What can I say? It’s a man thing.  In my defence, for this bit of  experimentation,  the last time we travelled to North Wales our friends Craig and Mala were using a similar satnav system as ours :- 

I took off like a bat out of hell, in totally the wrong direction (yes there are many ways to leave Bishops Stortford - some better than others) and after about half an hour passed us at high speed, making  our first meeting point about 20 minutes before us…. (At those speeds he had to fill up his car every third petrol station.  Not so bad on long motorway stretches but can prove very expensive if you are in a very densely populated petrol station area.)
Once again he took off at speed leaving us in his dust……….

Just as we reached our destination we got a phone call –   

Craig – “Do you want to meet up for lunch as we are getting hungry?”

Me – “Yeah sure,  there is a little tea room that we are sitting outside that does sandwiches”

Craig – “Where exactly are you?”

Me – “At our destination, why?  Where are you?”

Craig – Silence…..

Me - “Are you still there?”

Craig – “With you in about half an hour…”

It turned out that while our Sat Nav had taken us on a route directly across the moors, theirs  had taken them the very long way around… about the Hare and Tortoise

For the record, my experiment’s  results – not a great deal of difference in the estimated time of arrival or distance to travel on either machine….How disappointing. I was hoping for a bit of fisticuffs between the two machines….


Our conversations on the journey included “What long distance lorry drivers would need to survive for weeks on end in their little cabs” – After a deep and psychological discussion we decided on :-

A little camp bed (no, it doesn’t have to be pink but I’m not stopping them if that’s what the lorry driver decides on)

A microwave oven – (they need to heat up those canned beans somewhere, where else are they going to be able to get all that trapped wind from?) 

A little TV – (They have to have something to do with their time to while away the hours between their mass killing sprees, visiting their multiple bigamistic collection of wives - extended over different parts of the country - and practicing to fart various national anthems without experiencing the dreaded follow-through …..)

And a yellow potty –
(As a child Mrs B said that her parents would carry a little yellow potty in the car with them for emergencies (3) and the thought of some great big hairy trucker’s arse hanging over the sides of it had us cracking up….  )

(3)  I bet my dad had wished  he had thought about taking a potty with us for moderately long journeys.  On one memorable expedition I wrote off a favourite pair of his hush puppies when he decided we were not going to stop for anything.

I suspect this peculiar parental behaviour was down to the slow speed of 1970s motor vehicles (Acceleration of 0-25mph in a bracing 25 minutes, so any unscheduled stops could potentially add days to a journey) and the fact that kids now get to travel with an entire entertainment package (4) - enough to make your average hairy-arsed trucker green with envy.  If I had had this option as a kid you would never have got me out of the  back of the car - even when my parents reached the hospital to peal my sister and I off of those lethal black plastic seats (5)  that 70’s British  cars specialised in, to get us treated for 2nd degree burns.  The seats were bad enough in winter, but forcing your kids to sit on them in summer while making them wear shorts and skirts (6) would normally count as child abuse of the highest order.  In the 70’s it was regarded as character building and any scarring left by the branding on the back of the legs was seen as a badge of honour…..

(4)  When I was a kid we had to make up our own entertainment which included unforgettable (if only - after years of therapy they still haunt me) games, such as:

How far? (this was mainly for your parents’ pleasure)  – as in how far could  they take you without having to stop for a wee?

I spy - but on strict instruction that the letter P and any excessive “ssss” sounds were strictly verboten as it tended to have a detrimental effect on the “how far” game
The repetitive song game – as a counter measure to the “How far?” game  my sister and I would repeat at a high pitched and particularly  annoying level

A pig has a ring in its nose
A pig has a ring in its nose
A pig has a ring in its nose
A pig has a ring in its nose
A pig has a ring in its nose
A pig has a ring in its nose

a)      We reached our destination
b)      My father could take no more and would explode – leaving us in stunned silence for a few minutes before starting a chorus of

Are we nearly there yet?
Are we nearly there yet?
Are we nearly there yet?
Are we nearly there yet?
a)      We reached our destination
b)       My father murdered us*

* A little known fact, I am the 79th version of myself – I was a very annoying child…..
Whereas my sister is the 52nd version of herself.  She was either a slightly less annoying child or better at getting out of the way….  

(5) light bulb moment of realisation,  so that was why they had those seats  - easy clean plastic in case they misjudged the distance during a tense game of “How Far”….

(6)  For the record and avoidance of any doubt, my sister was wearing the skirts. The only time I have worn a skirt was my wedding, as I didn’t want to wear a lame old wedding suit and so fell back on my Scottish ancestry. Besides Mrs B had already baggsied the nice white dress.

To a bottomless and wonderfully meaningless discussion on the benefits of sat navs over map books 

Mrs B was defending her map book, which normally sits on her lap, acting like a  blanket suffering severe rigor mortis.  

While I was defending  my, not one but two Sat navs, which normally sit on the dashboard being ignored because I’m male and don’t take instructions very well,  even when repeated in stereo….

I did experiment with a Yoda voice for a while

“Turn left here you will”

“Turn right and avoid the dark side” 

But even these instructions  didn’t work on me

Mrs B put forward the argument that she liked to see the bigger picture

Me – “so where are we on the map now?”

Mrs B – “I don’t know I wasn’t tracking the journey”

“You can’t even see Birmingham on the sat nav”

Me – Pressing the zoom out function – “look it’s there”

       seeing Mrs B was on a different page

        “where is it on your map?”

Mrs B – glancing down and looking a bit puzzled –“Oh my god, I’ve lost Birmingham”

Me – “How can you lose Britain’s second city?”

Mrs B – looking a  bit downcast “I’m sure it was there a moment ago…”

Shortly afterwards Mrs B tried again

Mrs B - “so what is the name of that mountain ahead of us?”

Me - “I don’t know the sat nav only gives roads, towns and rivers”

Mrs B - “Aha! See?  Map books are much better”

Me - “OK, clever clogs what is it called?”

Mrs B - “ Hang on a second I’ll just consult my map book….”

Mrs B -  “Aaah…………..”

Me - “Well?”

Mrs B - “The map book doesn’t seem to name mountains….”
 “Perhaps I should have checked before I asked that particular question…..”

Me - “Have you found Birmingham yet?”

Mrs B - “You don’t half prattle on…”

We were almost entirely cut off from civilisation, with just 2G wireless available, which is probably worse than no access at all, offering as it does just  a glimpse of communication but no more….

here comes a page……

still loading….

any day now and you might get the second word…

Oh there is a picture on the page…

you had better come back next month….. 

While waiting for the internet the rest of the week was packed with:

Cooking contests – an honourable draw, Mrs B and I would have won except Mrs B didn’t like her own dessert creation, which was a shame as everyone else did…

Gorge walking – which turned out a bit more hard core then we expected, I certainly didn’t imagine we would be tied to ropes and chucked over a waterfall

High ropes – the chance to pay good money to scare yourself silly

Long walks - interspersed by sheep chasing – Alfie proved to be not quite as well  behaved as he had promised  to be

Fetch - which actually turned into more of a game of tug of stick – Alfie preferring to play tug than chase.

Crabbing – No not from the back of the car by the girls but from a pier in yet another unpronounceable Welsh town…

Welsh Language
You have to ask yourself how the Welsh came up with the names of their towns, it’s like someone drew out scrabble letters and just did not bother to rearrange them into a coherent order.  Either that or the Welsh have a bit of a stutter when it comes to certain consonants….

Llawrygyln – Where we were staying – comprising sheep, sheep and gates to get you back to the real world – 10 minutes of driving before you even reach the resemblance of a road

Cwrt-newyder – I challenge anyone to attempt that without being high on drugs or 10 pints into a  very heavy drinking session….

Y-Drenewydd - Newtown in English.  Which, according to the sign as you entered the town …rather slowly (7) ….has been a new town since 1321

(7) Most strange, in that 99% of Wales appears to be almost empty of traffic, with long winding roads working their way through the valleys and just made for speeding (8) – Yet Newtown (new since 1321, that cracks me up every time) was like the centre of London during rush hour on the busiest day of the year….

(8) The Welsh appear to have swapped speed cameras for sheep – I was racing home hoping to get to see The Apprentice – the satnav started estimating that we would be 10 minutes late, but through a combination of skill, speed and a sleeping Mrs B I managed to turn it around and was on course to make it  when I came across a bunch of sheep – 15 minutes of waiting for them to stop milling about and the Welsh speed trap had done its job…..

I also discovered that driving at fun speeds, on the empty Welsh roads with two passengers in the back seat (Mrs B & Kirsty) makes for a stressful experience with threats of either physical violence or that their stomach contents would be introduced to the back of my neck.

“Neck - meet Stomach Contents”

“Stomach contents - meet the back of my neck”

It is a great inducement to moderate your speed….

Show me the sunny
Monitoring our way to a fortune (or not) with our Solar Panels

KW Produced so far – 1810

KW generated in the last 2 weeks – 266

This has earned us approximately – £905

Record of the week
If you want to hear the music you have to press play on the Ipod at the top....

Sheep Go to Heaven and Frank Sinatra (Live)  by Cake - A great song for Wales ifa little harsh on Goats - not sure what Frank Sinatra was doing there, perhaps he has been watching one too many Woody Allen Films.... 

Becoming more like Alfie by The Divine Comedy - He certainly taught me a thing or two about hanging onto a lost cause.... 

Traffic by  Stereophonics - In honour of Y-Drenewydd proving that Wales is not just a backwater it has traffic it's own traffic issues...
Watch of the week
The regular section in support of Joe (Stunt Cock) and his growing watch business

upes has been trading for over 2 years and  Joe has recently developed some great contacts in the trade which enables him to pick up surplus stock and sell them at great prices. Mrs B is a regular purchaser from his jewellery section, going self service once she finally realised that her husband is not the jewellery buying type…. 

Xupes price £5,950.00

Rolex GMT Master II Ceramic bezel 18k yellow gold/Stainles steel watch on stainless steel/18k yellow gold strap with stainless steel deployment buckle. This watch is from Rolex's current range which continues to be sold in Boutiques worldwide and can be seen on their website. This is the mens 40mm automatic size. The dial is black with luminous (when dark) markers and hands with green GMT hand. The watch is in immaculate unworn overall condition complete with Box, manuals, cards and rolex guarantee dated 26/12/09 meaning the watch is still under manufacturers warranty for over a year.

Photo Finish 
All pictures this week were taken with - The Beast in Wales
I've also provided some camera setup information for those that are interested....

Water shots
These are like clouds people see different things -
I call this the running man.....  water frozen in time

ISO 3200
1/3200 seconds
I see a couple of gladiators on a Viking ship

ISO 3200
1/3200 seconds

To me this looks like a unicorn being ridden by a cowboy....

ISO 3200
1/3200 seconds
Day at the beach 
The stand off - Starring Stunt-cock and Alfie

ISO 200
1/1250 seconds
This could be one of those fancy shmancy clothes catalogues
shots. Just as well I didn’t make it into my own picture
it would have totally ruined the illusion….

ISO 2000
1/4000 seconds

1 of 2
"Are You Looking at me?"

A Welsh Seagull with attitude

ISO 200
1/1250 seconds
2 of 2

"A Seagull with Altitude...."

ISO 200
1/1000 seconds

You have to admire my determination
I was not letting go for anything...

ISO 800
1/8000 seconds

Yes he is undeniably crabby but not as
 loud as the girls in the back of the car...

ISO 200
1/500 seconds
Out and about in Wales
This must be the most confusing
road signs in the world, ever….

ISO 1600
1/3200 seconds

The barn at night 

ISO 3200
1/3200 seconds

Sword in the Stone - The Welsh attempt to grab
a piece of the Arthur legend... 

ISO 6400
1/30 seconds
Tune in next time for the conclusion of our Welsh adventure and a special Mrs B and Mega Mini Beast Picture section....

Friday, 24 June 2011

Stop gap - Photo Finish special from Wales

In an attempt to stop the next edition of BlackLOG making "War and Peace" look like a half written pamphlet, I’ve decided to release some photo’s from last week’s trip to Wales, while I try and trim the worst be honest it’s a bit like bikini waxing a gorilla  - a non co-operative gorilla at that....

Before the pictures a couple of snippets of info for you

The Olympic ticket update
We got  the Beach volleyball   - I tried to explain to a disconsolate Mrs B that this was not instead of any of the events that we went for and if we had not gone for the Beach Volleyball tickets we would have got nothing….

Mrs B“I bet it rains” scuffing her shoes along the ground and glaring at me….

Me – “Don’t worry I checked the rules and if it rains the ladies have to replace  their bikini tops with tight fitting white T-shirts and it becomes a wet T-shirt competition…..”

Mrs B – said nothing, just raised one eyebrow menacingly and managed to roll both her eyes – deeply disturbing and yet strangely erotic at the same time….like a sexy “Mad-Eye Moody” for you Potter fans

Moving comments
The link for adding a comment has gone back to the bottom of the page, as I had a number of complaints that people were fed up having scroll back to the top of the blog in order to make a comment….or in some cases getting bored and nodding off before putting their thoughtful prose to keyboard and screen….

Photo Finish 
Big thanks this week to Stunt-Cock who convinced me to unleash The Beast and go fully manual, which has added a new dimension to some of the snaps...

I open up this week with Alfie, doing his impression of a well known 
 Cuban revolutionary leader As well as doing impressions of famous
cigar smokers, Alfie enjoys playing tug of stick and chasing sheep
(oh yes he does La Terriere…)

If you tune in next time you will get to see and hear a little bit more about
Alfie and his Parents owners ,Stunt Cock and Le Terriere,  who joined us
for the first part of our Welsh trip.
This shot of a spotted flycatcher took me a while to capture, I was just
relieved to discover that it was the creepy crawler type of
flies that is catches….

Although watching a bird hopping around with its little bird hood caught
 in its tiny zipper might have been quite amusing….
Who says Big flowers don’t cry…’s either that or our little
purple friend got a bit over excited and didn’t make the
loo in time…
This is a before shot of Welsh wood .
While this is the after shot…..
perhaps that was why the flower was crying….
Water, captured in a moment in time....
Roots which I thought were
aesthetically  pleasing....
This is a red kite that I managed to capture in flight, which was a damn site
easier than the hard to Spot flycatcher…This picture is just cropped while the
version below has had a little sharpening and lightening added in
Photoshop elements ...
I’m still in two minds on whether I should use elements to
enhance photos….any thoughts?
Drop in next time for the first part of our Welsh getaway   

Friday, 10 June 2011

Is laughter the best medicine?

Warning!  This week’s blog contains fictitious scenes of a pornographic nature , so if you are of a sensitive nature you should probably run away very quickly …………..if on the other hand if you have an open sewer of a mind…..  

Last weekend was our Ski reunion and despite not being well I decided I was not going to miss out.  Mrs B always knows when I’m under the weather as the noise that I generate around me subsides and I go into a kind of hibernation  state…. I think she enjoys the quiet for a short while and then starts worrying about me.  Either that or she misses the noise…..

Big Ron and The Invisible Skier were hosting and the guests converged on Chorleywood - The reunion was a great success,  particularly as Big Ron actually managed to turn up for one of his own events.  We attended one of his BBQs a few years back and arrived  at the appointed time to find his house abandoned.  It was just like a scene from the Marie Celeste but without any prepared food.  Unlike the crew of the famous abandoned ship we finally tracked Big Ron down at a local pub, a little the worse for wear and having failed to purchase any provisions for the BBQ.  It became a D.I.Y BBQ not only help yourself but provide the food, start the fire , cook the food, eat the food, clear up after ourselves, leave the venue….

However  Big Ron does seem to struggle with understanding the concept of a BBQ.   He, no doubt, under the guidance of the invisible skier, managed to provide food and even light the BBQ…. only the food never made it near the  flames and was instead served direct from the kitchen.  We eventually managed  to find some uncooked kebabs and once again guests enjoyed the opportunity to do a bit of D.I.Y BBQing.  While this was taking place Ron entertained us with:-

Attempting to light a Chiminea: 
  • America - you can keep your 4th of July celebrations;
  • November 5th and the Guy Fawkes celebrations - I laugh in your general direction  
  • The Icelandic Grimsvotn volcano - amateur hour
  • Northern lights - hang your head in shame

The illumination of the century involved  Big Ron,  a box of matches, some firewood,  a Chiminea  and a leaf blower.  The heat was so intense that  facial hair,  flames and embers  were seen  scurrying for cover. There were unconfirmed reports that a number of male guests experienced the world’s first  wax and shave free back, sac and crack procedure… I don’t think there were any 2nd degree burns but there certainly were some interesting scorch marks….I guess we should be thankful  that  there was no bottom burp action going on,  the blow back would have been fatal and Big Ron would have had his first Snuff Movie.     

 Organised dance routines, some with patent pending moves, these included:
  • The hair wash
  • Driving a car
  • Dry Humping
  • The Hedgehog (A Ron Jeremy original)  

Attempting to take out the local area with fighting Chinese lanterns:

Having failed to burn down his garden, guests and house during the Chiminea and Leaf blower incident Ron decided to set his sights  on the neighbourhood.  The first lantern flirted with Ron’s house before  just about managing  to clear the tees at the bottom of his garden. The second lantern  didn’t muck around and headed straight for the branches. We watched in horrified fascination as the flames leapt around the branches and just at the point we were thinking, hmmm it might be a good idea to call the fire brigade, the flames  finally fizzled out.  

The conversation inevitably turned to the holiday and I finally discovered where all the porn names came from on the holiday

It turns out that Mrs B was the instigator – she was on a chair lift with Richard (A.K.A Big Ron) and Joe (A.K.A. Stunt Cock) when they passed a Boarder Park which contained  a huge sign stating

“Shoot My Ride”

Mrs B mentioned it sounded like a porn movie which set Richard off on one, he started conjuring up an entire film scenario with parts for everyone....

Joe became Stunt Cock
Kirsty La Terriere (she had already earned the nickname The Terrier on the holiday  for her inability to stop at the back of lift queues  and plough* through to the front – Big Ron just gave it a more Porn star flourish)

For this he earned the nickname "Big Ron" after the 70’s porn star Ron Jeremy
* I was tempted to say snow plough for comic affect but I fear Kirsty would never forgive me (adding to an already overlong list of crimes that she won’t forgive me about).

I'm afraid I've taken it a step further (some might say a step to far) and created a history for Big Ron and his Porn Crew....

The credits and lists of Ron’s major films:
Carry-Ron titles

Star Whores

Saving Ryan’s Privates

Putting the wood in Chorley

Raging Balls

King Dong

The Dominatrix

Invasion of the booby snatchers

An American in Paris Hilton

The Jizz swinger

Guess who’s cumming on dinner

Forrest Hump

Snow “not so” White and the Seven Dildos

Raiders of the Lost Fart

Sperminator 3 – Rise of the wood

Mary Popitin

Toy Story4 - When batteries go flat

Clash of the Tightones

The Italian Knob (staring Micheal came)

District 69

Documentary -
Marie Celeste – the naked truth  (The true story of the Marie Celeste -  the one that the Victorian history books tried to cover up.  When the ship was discovered it was not the crew but all the crews clothing that had mysteriously vanished)

All filmed in “Beast-o-Vision” by Larry the lens
Director – Big Ron
Key Grip – Peter Pervert
Dolly Grip – Hands on Harry

Starring in no particular order

La Terriere

The Invisible Skier A.K.A The Fluffenator

Stunt Cock (currently resting between shots)

Big Ron A.K.A. Biggus Dickus

Daddy Duck – A.K.A. Phil MiCavity

Tourette’s girl - (currently looking for a new Porn name)

Cannonball Thruster

Mrs B A.K.A. Penelope Pitstop  A.K.A. Penny Trate

BlackLOG A.K.A. The Blackrod

What I learned this week:
Mrs B is not as innocent as she looks

Chimineas are much more fun than you would think and add a much needed  element of danger to any BBQ – beyond the normal fun that is  food poisoning

Not to expect any BBQ food at a Big Ron BBQ.

Laughter does make you feel much better - and there was certainly a lot of that at the Ski-reunion....

Show me the sunny
Monitoring our way to a fortune (or not) with our Solar Panels

KW Produced so far – 1544

KW generated in the week – 140

This has earned us approximately – £772

Record of the week
If you want to hear the music you have to press play on the Ipod at the top....

Burning Down The House - Talking Heads

Firestarter  - The Prodigy  

I like you so much better when you're naked - Ida Maria

Forest Fire -  Lloyd Cole

Watch of the week
Starting a new regular section this week in support of Joe (Stunt Cock) and his growing watch business

Xupes has been trading for over 2 years and  Joe has recently developed some great contacts in the trade which enables him to pick up surplus stock and sell them at great prices. Mrs B is a regular purchaser from his jewellery section, going self service once she finally realised that her husband is not the jewellery buying type….
Xupes price £3,950.00

Unworn mens Breitling Navitimer Montbrilliant Olympus stainless steel watch on stainless steel strap with deployment buckle. The dial is White/silver/Navy with numeral markers and amazing complicated moonphase automatic movement.
Photo Finish 
A set of snaps that when combined in juxtaposition with some fictitious Porn film names, somewhat   incriminate a bunch of very nice and mostly innocent people – such is the way of the BlackLOG....

"Who put the wood in Chorley?"
the Chorley Chiminea

Ron auditions Mrs B for a part in  "Mary Popitin"

Phil MiCavity
"Swinging in the rain"

Big Ron
"Some like it hot"

Tourette’s girl -
currently looking for a more porn like porn star name

Cannonball Thruster
 "Deep Throat!!!!"
The Fluffenator
Star of
 "Sperminator 3 – Rise of the wood"
Home of the catchphrase
“I’ll be on my back”

La Terriere 
"Close encounters of the naked kind "
Cannonball Thruster
star of
"Prep your own meat!!!"

Big Ron and Stunt Cock during production of
"The Jizz swinger"

Chiminator 4 – Rise of the burnt wood
Stunt Cock (resting between shots!!!)
La Terriere is "Saving Ryan’s Privates"

"Biggus Dickus"
"Guess who’s cumming on dinner"

"The Purple Condom of Cairo"

Phil MiCavity in
"Cock-work Orange"

La Terriere
"Dawn of the head"

The Fluffenator
“The Dominatrix”

Ron leading the dancing at the
"Putting the wood in Chorley"
Wrap party....

The BlackLOG should return to less wanton ways next week .....