Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Thursday, 17 November 2011

BT Home Hub manager - Home

or Why do they do this to us?

It seems that we are constantly subject to the vagaries of BT Openreach when we sign up to a broadband package over BT’s ‘last mile’.

Suffice to say – an agreement to call between 15:00 and 17:00 was only notable for the brief missed call which rang once and died.

BT Openreach -  ‘providers of fair and equal access to the network for CPs’ seem to have a strange method for resolving connectivity problems. Over the last several days my broadband quality has been in decline. Finally I’d had enough and initiated a call to BT Broadband’s help line. My broadband connection was resetting the Home Hub 2 every 3 to 5 minutes making BBC iPlayer on the satellite box impossible – I’m glad I’m not a £20 a month BT Vision customer. The prospect of doing a bit of out of hours work over VPN and a Remote Desktop session from home was a non-starter.

Some weeks ago I’d had my line connection upgraded from the ‘up to 8Mb‘ to the advertised ‘up to 20Mb’ on my Unlimited Total Broadband Option 3 package. Since I live only 400m from the exchange I had been getting just over 7Mb download speed which is good by anyone's standard so following the upgrade I was able to brag to  a friend that I was now getting 19Mb download speed.

Openreach have now clocked my connection down to:

Downstream 11,356 Kbps

Upstream 440 Kbps

…and its just gone again…

Needless to say  I’ll be back on the phone this morning stumbling my way through the switching system ‘til I reach India, to be told that I can book a time when they can call me!!

BT Home Hub manager - Home

Sunday, 3 July 2011

The Star Inn's 8th Annual Cornish Beer Festival 2011

Yet again by a happy coincidence (thanks Paul) The Star Inn's Cornish Beer Festival falls on the same weekend as my birthday celebrations.
The Star Inn, Bath

Here is the date - it starts on Thursday 14th July and runs until the ale runs out. Last year a 9 gallon barrel of Spingo lasted less than 90 minutes from first pint to last pint. If you have a particular favourite then you need to be there when it's ready because it won't last long.
Further details will follow as they are gleaned.
Cheers Paul, I'm looking forward to it.

St Pauls Carnival Bristol

Fingers still sticky with Hot Sauce, a haze of ganja and scorched Jerk Spice hangs heavy in the sound and humidity.
What an amazing day - the constant sound of ever changing beats and rhythms preceded us we walked down from Stokes Croft through Portland Square and down to the bottom of Grosvenor Road. Where every other house in the street was either banging out another track from another deck through another stack of speakers, selling Jerk Chicken Rice 'n' Peas or cans of cold Red Stripe from their front gardens. Truly an assault on all the senses coming smothered in smiles.
Thank you St Pauls.

Saturday, 2 July 2011

The Plainest of Plain White Loaves

'ere 'tis for those that have asked.

This recipe is for Bread Making Machines and the ingredients are added to the pan in the order listed. As a rule I try to do as much measuring with the pan on a set of those electronic scales, that you can set back to zero after adding each ingredient.

18g Rapeseed Oil
290g Water
1tsp Salt
3 tsp Golden Caster Sugar (the unbleached stuff)
450g Doves Farm Organic Strong White Bread Flour (
1½tsp Packet Dried Yeast (the fast stuff)

Use the normal program (#1 on my Kenwood BM256) and set the weight for a 750g loaf and the crust of your choice.


Friday, 1 July 2011

A Fine Day for a Picture

I woke yesterday, barely remembering that there was a Venice Simplon Orient Express (VSOE) outing due through Bath Spa on its way to Bristol. This is important to me because I like steam engines and also because one of the carriages is called Zena.
After a brisk walk to the end of Hampton Row through the centre of Bath, up the Warminster Road and along the canal tow path I reached the proposed shooting location to find so much over growth I had to scramble through a hedge and set up the camera in the corner of a field.
Anyway here's the picture of the train from London Victoria pulled by engine number 35028 - Clan Line, a preserved Merchant Navy Class locomotive built in 1948.

and Zena, an original Pullman coach built in 1928.

Friday, 24 June 2011

3 Thirds Loaf

I have finally settled on a combination of ingredients to produce a reasonably consistent and tasty loaf of bread from my machine. As requested, this is how it goes (in order of addition to the pan):-

20g Rapeseed Oil
290g Water
1 tsp Sea Salt
3 tsp Golden Caster Sugar
150g Wholegrain Spelt Flour
150g Strong White Bread Flour
150g Wholemeal Bread Flour
1½ tsp Dried Yeast (Suitable for bread makers!!)

With a Kenwood Bread Maker, I use the Wholemeal Loaf programme which takes three and tree quarters of an hour when set for a 750g loaf with a moedium crust. The flour is usually Doves Farm Organic and everything else is Sainsbury's.


Monday, 20 June 2011

Edgcumbe visits Bath - Solihull to Bristol via Reading

Saturday saw me at Bath Spa station again to see GWR 4073 Class 5043 Earl of Mount Edgcumbe operated by Vintage Trains Ltd. from Tyseley Locomotive Works formerly Birmingham Railway Museum.
Here she is in all her restored beauty, preparing to leave Bath Spa, just as an Inter City 125 (HST) was about to arrive.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

...of yeast and a bread making machine

Sometime ago I started making my own bread with a machine. The decision was prompted by Sainsbury's who changed their policy on discounting products with a 'one day' shelf life. I used to be able to purchase their 'Organic Wholemeal in-store baked loaf' when shopping after work (early evening), sometimes it was discounted and I'd stock up the freezer, but usually they had some. When the new policy came in there was never any left by five o'clock let alone half past six.

I started making my own loaf and tried out different combinations of  flours, yeast, salt, sugar, oil and water until I'd managed to get a bread that I enjoyed and had a decent fibre content. The yeast I used initially was Sainsbury's sachets and then I went on to try Hovis sachets. The recipe I used for the amount of flour required 1.5 teaspoons of dried yeast, so I was constantly using part sachets which I found awkward.

One day while shopping for yeast I spotted little tins of Allinson's Yeast on the shelf - "whoopee" I thought, "no more messing around with part sachets!!" What I had failed to notice was that this yeast was 'Not suitable for Bread Makers' in the small print on the front of the tin. Ooops!!

Anyway, what I have done is modify the method I use for preparing and adding ingredients to the baking tin. Previously I would add ingredients in the following order: oil, water, salt, sugar, flour and finally yeast. Now, what I'm trying is to reactivate the yeast with part of the sugar and water. So now it's: oil, water including reactivated yeast mixture, the rest of the required sugar, flour and now the salt goes in last on top of the flour where it doesn't come in contact with the yeast.

Once I've done it a couple of times I'll report back on the success or not of this experiment.

34067 - Tangmere on 'The Welshman'

+Yesterday I had the luxury of seeing and photographing 'Tangmere' 34067 - Battle of Britain class steam locomotive pulling a train through Bath. A luxury because although I am a keen railway enthusiast, I tend not to make the time to practice particularly often.
Either way here she is passing through Oldfield Park by Brougham Hayes bridge.

Later I was at Bath Spa station waiting for her return from Cardiff when the station announcer obligingly informed all present that she was still there. Making an effort I returned home and sat on the 'gen' site for news of her from Cardiff, which came through at 18:35 reporting 18:30 as the time of departure. A quick calculation against the original timings would bring the train through Bath just before 20:00.

Camera over my shoulder I got myself down to the station to get 'the shot'.
As is so often the case, getting a picture across another track always runs the risk of another train being in the way. It was one of those days...
 and away...
Hey Ho!!!

...something of an apology

To all those people who were eagerly awaiting the sequel to the 'holiday' blog, I'm afraid as is evident elsewhere on Bath 'n' Stuff, I tend to over do the writing and fall flat on my arse...

Suffice it to say that the weekend is admirably recorded and reported by The Millbooker (see The Daily(ish) Millbrooker link to the right).

Advise from a long time blogger is 'keep it short and use lots of pictures'.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Holiday Part Deux - Gigspanner Day

Friday in Rame is Gigspanner Day - perhaps my host is right - it is becoming a small tradition for a party of friends to assemble for the annual Gigspanner gig in Kingsand Village Hall. The day started with a cracking breakfast of everything, at nearly lunch time. Eight hours sleep following the excess of the previous day was rejuvenating and not being woken up at stupid o'clock by Bath's seagull population squabbling over the last of the pub goers suppers was a relief. During breakfast the day was discussed and a walk proposed. In various states of wellness; hang-over, heavy cold and creeking limbs we found ourselves slowly working our way up the steepest part of the climb to the view point at the top of Maker Lane.

Pausing for long moments at gates on the way ostensibly to gasp at the views and in my case catching a breather, we snapped away with our digitals.

The view from the top was, as ever, breathtaking. Despite the slight haze all the landmarks, from St Austell's Hensbarrow Beacon, through Bodmin Moor and Carodan Hill and up the Tamar valley to Dartmoor's Tors, could be seen.
From the top of Maker Lane we crossed the road and headed over the top of Maker Heights past the Victorian Barracks (now an arts comunity) and turned nort-east towards Maker Church. 

More later...

Sunday, 15 May 2011

What I did on my holidays!! Part 1 (Coming to you direct from Millbrooker Towers)

It's now the start of the final (non-traveling) day with The Millbrooker, Mrs The Millbrooker and  and other guests at Millbrooker Towers. I had intended to take advantage of their hospitality for just Friday to Sunday in order to enjoy the music and performance of Peter Knight's Gigspanner at a local village hall but since the Wreckers Morris were appearing I had been persuaded (not hard) to arrive on Thursday. The Morris was great fun but I wasn't feeling 100% by 8 o'clock Thursday - a long day.
Thursday actually started badly; on Wednesday. It had probably been one of the worst weeks for a long time and only 3 days! I finally got to sleep early Thursday morning and the alarm clock was set for 06:15. As usual nothing was packed ready so I had all that to do before getting the usually late 08:57 Penzance train down to Plymouth. As usual it was announced on Bath Spa Platform 1 as running 8 minutes late but managed to arrive on time - go figure!! The run down on the train was pretty straight forward until Nailsea and Backwell where we were stopped. The announcement from the Train Manager sent an almost silent groan through the carriage - 'The train is being held here due to a vehicle striking a bridge' then a few minutes later 'The driver has has been allowed to to take the train on at reduced speed'. By Taunton we were only eight minutes late, much of which was made up caning it up Whiteball. The rest of the run was uneventful with my ears full of Black Sabbath and passed the time playing Solitaire on my phone. I do believe I am becoming blazĂ© about one of the most spectacular engineering achievements in Britain, the Brunel masterpiece between Exeter and Plymouth, because a barely gave it a glance.
Plymouth was sunny and as I walked down Armada Way, I realised that I had left my baseball cap at home. I would either have to squint in the sun for 4 days or buy one then and there. Quicksilver or whatever had not much with a big logo on it - I don't like paying for someone to advertise on me - so across the road to BHS for me. They were running a 20% off day so a quite simple summer sun cap for just over £6 was perfect.
Off now to walk down to the Admiral's Hard for the Cremyll Ferry. I got as far as the Taxi Rank and shelled out a fiver for the privilege of not walking down there. 10 minutes to wait for the boat, then across the Tamar to the first pint in Cornwall.
The Edgcumbe Arms served me a fine pint of Proper Job which at only just after midday went down with unhealthy haste while waiting for Sausage and Mash and pint of Tribute. It was blowy and the sun was out so after lunch I found a corner in the lee of an old building by the quay and waited for the bus to Millbrook.
Off to Millbrook on the bus by way of Maker Church and the magnificent view up the Tamar to the Saltash bridges, then down into Millbrook village. By quarter past two I was sat on a bar stool in the Devon and Cornwall Inn enjoying a fine pint of Timothy Taylor's Landlord and the company of budding mathematician Emma behind the bar. It was quiet and Russell was scurrying around preparing for the evenings jollity. a couple of pints later I strolled round the corner to check for undelivered texts.
There a few corners of Millbrook where the finger of Vodafone reaches and these are spots where incoming texts arrive. As I turned back to the pub the phone sprang to life and found that in anticipation of my arrival The Millbrooker had alerted me to the fact that I would find him 'on the patio'. Bidding goodbye to Emma I made my way to Millbrooker Towers. Following Kedgeree 'knocked up' by The Millbrooker he donned his 'tatters' we all went of down to West Street where the Morris was to take  place outside the D&C. It was a wonderful evening and although I was completely beered out and knackered managed to develop a face strain from so much smiling. A wonderful antidote to what I'd left behind in Bath.
The Millbrookers blog of the entertainment is here.

Monday, 25 April 2011

The Western Riverside - Disaster Symptom I

Well!! The disaster has begun, the bulldozers and pile drivers are hard at work and the roofing timbers are in place on Building 4B.
When we met in the Hilton Hotel all those years ago to protest and complain to the Architects and and others about the impact of the plan we were evidently ignored. I personally told the Architect that I thought his designs were brutal and he was surprised. Either way Bath will be a less pleasant place to live in the future.
My reason for writing on what is now a redundant issue is more to do with my feelings on Public Transport. I am not a car owner nor a driver having never taken a single lesson in car driving.
My concern lies in the continued wholesale destruction of, what will come to be know for the crass stupidity that it is, old railway routes.
In the case of the Western Riverside it is obvious for all to see that when, in not too many years time, we need an additional rail corridor into the centre of Bath from Bristol and Radstock it will no longer be available having been planned out of existence. Buildings B4 and B10b sit squarely across that route.
When will these short-term profit driven strategies be finally outlawed.
We are continually being preached to about saving the planet. We recycle what we can, we use energy saving bulbs, we eat food that's sourced as locally as possible but all that is worth nothing, while profiteering councils and other planners continue their headlong destruction of ours and our children's future. Denying the preservation of access to the resources and refusing to countenance anything that involves long term commitment.

I am so angry.

KEEP THE FECK OFF OLD RAIL ROUTES FOR THE USE OF METROS AND TRAMS - this is one for central government if its got the balls to face up to the petrol heads and the oil companies.

PLAN TO GET PEOPLE OUT OF THEIR FECKING CARS - and this one's for local authorities if they've got the balls to get out of the pockets of the local business community. They'll look pretty silly when customers can't get to them to be profited from.


Monday, 11 April 2011

GIVING UP BOOZE CAUSES CANCER - shock study • The Register

GIVING UP BOOZE CAUSES CANCER - shock study • The Register There are lies, damned lies and statistics.... (Who said that?) Yet again the health lobby rears its ugly and expensive (funded by the taxpayer) head in an attempt to justify it's own existence. 'If we don't keep saying something (however wrong) we'll get rumbled and (heaven forbid) scrapped with the other 'waste of money' quangos. What fun!!!

Thursday, 24 March 2011

The Beer Duty Escalator Rumbles On

BBC News - Budget 2011 at a glance: George Osborne's key points: "No additional changes to alcohol duty rates but 2% above inflation rise in excise duties for wine, spirits and beer to go ahead"

Well this will close a few more pubs then - not enough to continue to allow the Pub owning Property Companies (Punch, Enterprise and their ilk) to carry on fleecing their tenants and their tenants customers, this 'Pub friendly' lot have hammered another nail in the coffin of that Great British institution - The British Pub.

When Britain finally wakes up and finds that between the Pub owning Property Companies and the Treasury they've sleep walked into a situation where there is nowhere left to sit and chat with friends over well cellared, hand crafted ales or indeed gas filled euro-fizz for that matter, then a little more of what makes Britain and the British unique will be gone forever. See what's happening in Cornwall.

We know what happens when Beer Duty is increased because we've seen it before. The Treasury puts 7.2% on the Duty for every pint as it leaves the brewer. The Pub owning Property Company will then squeeze a little more off the price they're paying for the beer from the brewer, then add it and more back in to the price they sell it to the tenants for. The poor tenant has no choice then but to put the price up, lose more customers and go to the wall. I don't expect that the rise at the bar will be any less than 10p on a pint and could be as much as 20p.

This is why when you pop in to the pub next Monday evening, there will be fewer people drinking fewer pints, to talk to.

Now we come to the supermarkets; with this 7.2% increase the duty on a pint will now be 44p add in another 50p in VAT at 20% and we're on about £3 for a pint of ale in a pub. The supermarket will sell a 4-pack (about 3 pints) for no more than £3.50 (Tesco - 2 for £7) of which £1.32 is Duty and 70p is VAT. So cheap alcohol bought in the supermarket costs not only the British Pub dear it also amounts to a loss of 26p per pint to the Treasury. On the 2010 figures for UK beer consumption, and bearing in mind 52% (11,618 million pints) of beer is purchased in supermarkets and drunk at home costs the UK £3,021 million pounds.

Where should we go from here? I'm no genius but I can see that if we are going to see the pub survive and tenants able to make a proper living while curtailing the ill effects of excessive consumption the obvious answer is to curb alcohol sales in supermarkets while pricing the beer to the pub competitively with off-sales pricing. The bonus is of course, more drinking will be done in a controlled and 'responsible' environment and less damage will be done to peoples health through excessive consumption of cheap supermarket booze.

My feeling is that an 'off-sales' levy should be brought in to reduce the price difference and at the same time compensate the Treasury for the reduced tax take due to falling volumes. In addition a reduction in health care cost due to excessive consumption would keep the health lobby happy. The only losers would be the supermarkets but business is business!

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

...and another Shameless Introduction - 2011 Version

I saw the hit count on this blog quadruple last week so I thought I'd better check what my few visitors were looking for and lo and behold it was people looking for the text of the new Shameless introduction. Nothing unusual there as over the years most visitors are looking for that or the link to WNXX but it seems I have failed.

What you've all been looking for is the NEW new Shameless Intro.

Well here it is as far as I can get it despite the muffled and sometime unintelligible bits.

Anyway 'ere 'tis...

Anyone watching thinking, "we know fuck all about knowing fuck all about 'owt", needs to watch their back.

So you've had your Labour reclassifying skunk sending prices sky high literally, literally taking the grass off its own roots.

Now you've got your con-dem-nation, Liberals noshing Tories like altar boys picking dibs up.

Have we had a national fucking stroke or what?

Is revolution a word or was it never?

Anybody watching needs to know we cope better than average with irony in Chatsworth.

Well for fuck sake we live in Manchester and they charge us for water.

I wandered lonely as a cloud necking mushrooms rarely found. Green and pleasant land in ancient times?

Yap, yap, yap, yap, yap, yap, yap, yap.

It's not theirs anymore. This is our England now.


Correct me if I'm wrong please.
Full credit to the author.

Thanks anon. for the 'necking', Regards.
Thanks anon. for the 'skunk', Regards.
Thanks anon. for the 'clown', Regards.
...following the Comment below and listening again I think it is probably 'cloud' after William Wordsworth. Ta Anon. Regards.
Yes of course 'owt' is correct rather than 'ought'. Thanks Anon. Regards. is it 'alter boys picking dibs up' or 'alter boys picking dimps up'? Regards.