Saturday, 5 February 2011


I walked the pups a bit late this morning, I managed an all too rare Saturday lay in, well lateish, Ronnii had me get up at 09:00 as she was desperate for a pee, so I grabbed Richie and we were soon outside in the cold and the wind and the rain, the pups didn’t seem to mind, Richie even went so far as to take us on a bit of a tour. He gets a bit stubborn and refuses to walk, when he gets like this I either have to pick him up and carry him home or follow him. Today I let him take charge and we had a bit of a wander and he found some new smells, and we got shouted at by what sounded like a rather large dog, Richie shouted back and the big dog did his best wolf impression.

Once we were home I made my nearest and dearest a cup of coffee and then headed down to the shop to see the lads at the 40k club and see what I could spend my vouchers on. I settled for two boxes of Assault marines, they should do some damage. I only stayed for a short while, overseeing one game and taking time out to explain to the guys that to be actively involved in the hobby the really should get some dice and have, at least, a basic understanding of the rules.

I left the shop at about 13:00 to jump on a bus to Canterbury, as I learned earlier in the week that the annual fossil road show was being held at the Museum of Canterbury. So I took time out from my usual Saturday activity to visit the museum as I've missed it each year for the past four or five. It's moved since my last visit, from the Beany museum to the Museum of Canterbury. On arrival it was nice to find that the entry fee had been reduced for the event from £3.50 to £2. Each room had a display and at least two very helpful people staffing it. I didn't get a good look at the first table as there were quite a few very excited children asking questions about the items on display. There was a rather fun looking "Dino-Dig" where small peeps could hunt for fossils that had been buried in sand, with the added bonus of keeping the fossil they found. There was also a quiz that the children could do, and if they answered all the questions correctly they were rewarded with a small bag of fossils. moving on to another table that had some well preserved crabs, turtle shells and fish bones, sadly I didn't get a chance to speak to the chap manning this table as he was deeply involved in helping another chap identify a find. Thinking it best to leave them to it I went into the next room where I saw some beautiful Ammonites and belemnites, much better than any I've found on my local beach, jealous much? I chatted with the nice lady supervising this spread and correctly identified a few items. I was quite pleased that I didn't sound like an idiot, stuffed up on a mammoth tooth because of the fact that it had freshly broken open and I saw, for the first time, what one looked like on the inside. Wow is a word that springs to mind. I also mistook a fossil sponge for a mososaur tooth, but in my defence it was very similar in shape. I headed downstairs to the final area and it was clear that I'd saved the best until last. On the first table were some fantastic crabs, fish and lobsters, but the best pieces were, without doubt, the fossilised snakes and a croc that was part of the stomach contents of something much bigger and probably much meaner. I could clearly see bones and teeth and a couple of gastroliths. I was very impressed with the iguanodon and Ichthyosaur remains and chatted with the lucky chaps who had been fortunate enough to find these remarkable fossils. The last table I visited was displaying what I thought was a mammoth bone but the young lady sitting at the table corrected me and said that it was, in fact, an elephant bone. There were also deer remains and an extremely nice tusk from an elephant. Also on this table were stone tools ranging from arrow heads through axes and all manner of wonderful things. Our ancestors were quite ingenious, so there you have it, a couple of well spent hours chatting with some very knowledgeable people. It's a shame this is only an annual event as I would like there to be a larger, longer fossil based event in the area. I think the highlight of the day has to be the expressions of wonder on the faces of the kids as they learned about the things they were seeing. I don't think they quite grasped the concept of the age of the fossils, to mast ten year olds an hour is an eternity, but they certainly enjoyed themselves. There needs to be more events like this as it raises awareness of a pastime that means kids get out and do something rather than sitting in front of a computer screen. Well done to the organisers and collectors and thank you, Although it was a small event, it was worth the travel time and certainly worth the £2 entry fee, it’s also rekindled my need to spend some time down the Warren, with the rough weather we’ve had these last couple of days I would think that some good stuff has been washed out of the clays, I also hope to get a visit to Pett level, on the Sussex coast, in this year, although one visit isn’t enough. If I had my way I’d take a tent and spend a night there and get two days fossil hunting done.

The region hasn’t had a clear night for the better part of two weeks and now that I have some of the things I wanted for the ‘scope I’m very eager to get out and set the Meade up, according to the forecast it should be clear on Tuesday, well one can live in hope. There are also plans afoot to set about getting a new ‘scope, it involves saving and probably a trip to either Tunbridge, Dorking or Sittingbourne, check back in a few weeks for an update on that one, and once the weather improves I’ll try and get down the Warren and collect some fossils which I’ll post pictures of. You never know I may be able to persuade my nearest and dearest into taking a walk with me and taking the pups, they may be useful in sniffing fossils out, you never know!

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

hoppy burpday

Today has been pleasantly quiet, I had a lay in and took the pups for a stroll quite late, I was given my birthday gifts I got a head lamp and some mini LED lights from the pups, the head lamp will come in very useful on my next trip to the Dover fortifications. Trudes got me The Sorcerers Apprentice on DVD, a film I’ve wanted to see but never got around to it. So that’s all good. From Trudy’s folks I got a gift voucher for the shop so that will probably go towards one of the three Land Raiders I want for the Space Marine army. Trudes has said that I have some more pressies on the way so I shall look forward to those, and other friends have been awaiting confirmation on whether or not to get me something from Games Workshop. I sent a message saying as much so that should be winging its way soon.

I received a rather nice card from a very good friend who I’ve now known for around twenty years, I have to admit that the words inside it did bring a lump to my throat and nearly made my eyes leak, I was very touched. I also got loads of birthday messages via Facebook.

I messaged the friend to ask if he would be coming over, sadly he’s suffering with a long term back problem and was more or less immobile. Trudes asked how he was and when I told her she suggested that I go and pay him a visit. So off I went, It was nice catching up and spending time with a really good mate.

back home and Trudes went in to town to get some bits, including something nice for tea, she came back with a rather tasty chinese meal and cake, cake is always good but I’m reining myself in and not having cake until tomorrow when I can share it with friends who will be calling in.

So I’ve had a nice relaxing birthday and really enjoyed the time.

Monday, 31 January 2011

Tube trains, toys, tat & toe rags!

So here we are at the end of January, it’s been an eventful month. I had two trips to astronomy club, the first was in connection with the BBC stargazing live, fortunately we were lucky enough to have clear skies for the event and we have several new members as a result.

On the home front it has been somewhat fractious with Richie being in complete hump mode as Ronnii hit the peak of her season. How Trudy prevented herself from going completely potty I will never understand, the noises Richie was making were quite annoying, I’m sure that there’s an audio out there somewhere. If you find it, put your speaker volume up as loud as it will go and then put the audio file on loop for three hours. He was making that noise for the whole time he was awake. Things got so bad for Trudes that she took Richie out for three hours walking him down to the beach and back. By the time they got home he was too tired to make any noise, but my girl was at her wits end. Fortunately the whining and moaning came to an end Wednesday night.

Wednesday I went off to the 2011 Toy Fair at London Olympia with Sue and Mickey. I have to admit that there are some fantastic things that will be released later in the year and there’s also a possibility that Sue has found an independent supplier of building models that are slightly cheaper than the all powerful GW. Having seen the boxes and felt the weight of the boxes, I’d say that you get your moneys worth.

Mike and I got there about two hours before Sue, we left home at 05:30, I was up and ready by 05:00. I left little Ronnii rocket sound asleep on my bed; it seemed such a shame to disturb her as she looked so sweet all stretched out and snoozy. I left the house just after five and had a ten minute wait for Mike. When he arrived he thrust a bottle of coke at me and then informed me that I’d lost him a bet. It turns out that my friends, using the term loosely, had had a bit of a wager as to whether I would need a phone call to get me up, to say that I was shocked and wounded would be an understatement. We arrived at the O2 by 07:30 and made our way to the venue via the tube, I hate the tube, it’s smelly and crowded and people are just plain rude. We finally arrived at Olympia and because we were there a bit early we headed in to the high street for some breakfast. Full English with a cuppa and a piece of apple strudel the size of a house brick for less than £8, can’t go wrong there. Then back to the arena to get registered and into the show. The only real issue I have with the toy fair is the fact that there’s so much to see, even removing the stuff Sue doesn’t sell still leaves a fair amount to take in, plus we were also looking for new suppliers. I saw some brilliant stuff, but as with any form of merchandising, for every one decent product, there are about 20 that are complete rubbish, the new inflatable Dalek is just one that I feel the need to mention. This thing is tat, it’s basically a battery operated mini dodgem car that has had a rubbish Dalek stuck to it, they’ve not even used a proper Dalek, and it’s a transparent version of one of the hideous power ranger Daleks that was introduced last year. The thing is going to retail at around £199, in my opinion, that’s about £175 to much. We left the fair all too soon, grabbing some nosh on the way back to the O2 and the car; how people who work in the city do it I shall never understand. More smelly over crowded trains and pushing and shoving. The journey back was fairly easy going, although I did get a bit of an odd look from Mike for using the Sat-Nav on my phone, but I explained to him that I was using it because I could, not because I didn’t trust his sense of direction. Although he did get us lost on the way home from London once. Arriving home just after 20:15 it had been a long day and my feet were very sore, if I’m honest they ached more than after the walk to Dover, probably because I was standing still for a while at certain exhibitors. Despite the sore feet I really enjoyed the day and I’m already looking forward to next years. My only real issue is that once again we didn’t get into see what a company called Character Options would be bringing out, They produce action figures and play sets for Doctor Who and Primeval, and with new series of both this year it would have been nice to see what was on the way. But due to the fact that they won’t let you on their stand unless you deal directly with them we stood no chance of seeing the new releases, and the Dr Who stuff is displayed in its own room so we couldn’t even peek over the barriers.

Friday 28th saw a trip to Woodchurch via Hythe to astronomy club, as predicted by the attendance of our Stargazing live event, numbers have indeed swelled and the hall was packed. This is brilliant as the more members the club has the better chance it has of staying strong, and I have to be honest but the last Friday of the month is something I really look forward to. Sadly cloudy skies put paid to any chance of observing, which is a shame. The month on the whole has been a bit rubbish, excluding the stargazing Live I’ve only been able to get a scope out once this month, the last time I tried was when Smiffy came over and we were going to be painting, I planned to do an hour’s observing with him, but by the time I had set the scopes up it had clouded over.

I am currently waiting for a flexible focusing rod to arrive, this will make focusing the Meade easier when it’s in a vertical position and I ordered a new webcam, birthday treat that will, hopefully, allow me to get some video and still images of the night sky.

Tuesday 1st February is my birthday and I must admit that I’m more than a bit curious about what Trudes has got me, she rushed out yesterday (Sunday) to get a couple of bits and she has said that the pups have got me something that is being delivered, so hopefully that will arrive in time. There’s a chance that she may also be getting me a pocket watch, the one I told her I liked is beautiful. It’s exactly the type I’ve been wanting for many years. I don’t yet know exactly what I’m going to do on Tuesday, I have the day off so I may get a lay in, although I doubt it as Richie and Ronnii will still be needing a stroll first thing so I shall still be up relatively early, but if I’m lucky there may be a bacon sandwich in the offing.

Two good things about February, my birthday, plus two other good friends have their birthdays later in the month, and only 28 days, so both payday and astronomy club come round a bit sharpish, I’m not sure what the talk is about, I was hoping it would be the one our chairman is doing about “Killer Asteroids” but that’s not until March, I’m looking forward to that one.

In closing, whilst I’m on the subject of the astronomy clubs chairman, Drew is an author and, from what I understand, a rather good one. Some of Drew’s books are available free of charge from his website. However an unscrupulous toe rag who goes by the name of Peter Michelsen has made some of Drew’s books available on Amazon and claims that he is the author, I suspect that the fella may be a bit of a brain below as the thumbnails for the books by Drew still have his name as the author. Anyways, this Michelsen character is charging for the download of books that are in fact free to download. Not only has he stolen my friends work but he’s also attempting to make a profit from his nefarious activity. The git! With luck the matter will be rectified and Drew will be able to claim damages from either the person responsible and/or Amazon.

Either way I wish him good luck in sorting this matter out.

That’s it for now; no doubt I shall be back with more mundane ramblings in the near future.