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Mouse Balancing

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A silly little game: try to balance the mouse pointer and stop it from falling over:


Ira the Escapee

Story location: Home / Blog / Hamsters /

I walked into the hamster room tonight to find a confused looking Ira running about in zig-zags in the middle of the room. This is the second time this week (actually I think only the 2nd time ever) he has managed to get out of the cage. There was a small gap where the pink ball/wheel attached to the cage and he had managed to squeeze through!


Story location: Home / Blog / food_and_drink /

We drove to McDonalds for a milk shake. We specifically asked for a large Vanilla. When we got home it turned out to be something else altogether. Probably supposed to be chocolate but it was pale coloured, vaguely chocolatey but really not very nice at all.

We had to drive all the way back to get it replaced. The Canley branch does seem to be one of the worst McD's in Britain. It's not the first time we've had problems there.

The F-Word

Story location: Home / Blog / tv /

On this weeks F Word, Gordon Ramsay had Cliff Richard as celebrity guest in the restaurant. Halfway through the show they did a blind tasting of various wines. The final two were 'Celebrity' wines - one sold by Bob Dylan and one from Cliff's own portuguese vinyard. He didn't like either of the wines, saying they tasted a bit harsh and he'd only consider buying them if they were £2.50 in the supermarket. Since Cliff's wine sells for £8 a bottle and Bob's for even more, it doesn't sound like they are good value for money.

The show also featured a promising tuna recipe:
Tuna loin, dipped in soy sauce and then spread with wasabi, coated in sesame seeds then pan fried. The ones they did on the programme looked a bit too raw in the middle so I'd probably use tuna steak (cheaper than loin) and roast it in the oven so it cooked a bit more thoroughly without burning the seeds.

Drayton Manor

Story location: Home / Blog / birmingham /

We arrived nice and early so we could get our moneys worth and go on as many rides as possible. In fact so early the rides hadn't started yet so we had a look around the zoo, which was quite impressive in scope. We had a look at the penguins, lemurs, wildcats, meerkats and reptiles.

What surprised me about Drayton Manor was how quiet it was - it's much more compact than Alton Towers but still manages to cram a large number of rides on the site. Even so, the queues were much shorter than I'm used to at such places.

We started off on the Buffalo Coaster which is advertised as one of the children's rides but it's fairly good for a non-looping coaster. We did see a very frightened baby rabbit run away from the tracks as we thundered overhead!

We managed to go on all the major rides at least once. Towards the end of the afternoon the queues on the 'basic' rides (such as the Buffalo Coaster or the Cable Cars) were getting quite long but the queue on G-Force was non-existant so we went on that a second time.


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Pot Noodle Miners

Story location: Home / Blog / birmingham /

There were Pot Noodle Miners in Birmingham city centre this lunchtime. They were giving away samples and vouchers. I waited around for a free sample (chicken and mushroom flavour) and I must admit that it was tastier than I remember pot noodle being.


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Somehow, I managed to oversleep this morning, the first time in I don't know how many years. I think I set the alarm last night.I don't know whether I pressed 'cancel' instead of 'snooze' this morning. All I can be sure of is that when I looked at the clock this morning, it was half an hour after I should have got up. I still managed to get to work by 9am thanks to an Edinburgh bound train, which seemed to have more than it's fair share of ladies wearing hats - as if they were going to the races.

Free Money

Story location: Home / Blog / news /

It's a pity I don't still live in Aberystwyth. Someone was apparently giving away [Free money in the town centre. A driver threw bundles of £20 notes from a car, shouting "Who wants free money?", before driving away.

Microsoft Outlook

Story location: Home / computing /

Why does Microsoft Outlook uses Control-F as a keyboard shortcut to 'Forward message' rather than 'Find'? I was trying to search for some text in an email and it kept opening up a message window instead of giving me the find box. There was nothing on the 'Edit' menu either. I eventually found it but I had to open up the message in a separate window and press F4. I almost always read emails in the 'preview' pane because it is so much quicker and easier. The extra step of opening a new window was just unnecessary and annoying.

Garfield's Birthday

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Today is also Garfield's birthday. He's a bit younger than me (he was 'born' in 1978).

garfield with birthday cake

Birthday Cake

Story location: Home / Blog / work /

There's a tradition in work where people celebrate occasions such as birthdays by bringing in some cakes. My contribution this year was to bring some assorted muffins and chocolate doughnuts, which I placed in the kitchen before sending out an email to inform everyone.

Unfortunately I used the words 'cake in the kitchen' so now I can't get the UB40 song 'Rat in the kitchen' out of my head

There's some cake in the kitchen, what am I gonna do?
There's some cake in the kitchen, what am I gonna do?
I'm gonna eat that cake, what's what I'm gonna do.
I'm gonna eat that cake.

hedgehog cake

Yesterday Emma made a Hedgehog Cake based on a recipe and directions in a baking book. We had a small slice of it tonight. It had to be a small piece because we went out to TGI Friday's for our tea and were both rather full when we got back.

You can just about make out in the picture that the sparkler is in the shape of a letter 'M'.

Happy Birthday, Hamsters

Story location: Home / Blog / Hamsters /

It was Archie, Reggie and Theo's birthday today - they were 1 year old. We decided to buy them some treats so while we were in town we had a look in the pet shop. We chose something which consisted of grass and nettle wrapped up in a paper tube. Archie and Theo had a bit of a nibble at theirs but Reggie seemed to really enjoy tearing his apart, reducing it to shreds within a few minutes.

The Final Fling

Story location: Home / Blog / coventry /

The Final Fling is the Warwick Uni end of year do, held at Coombe Abbey Country Park. We opted for the full tickets which included meal, music and fairground. The food was ok but not worth the extra £20.

First course was a Ricotta and Cherry Tomato Tart, which was tasty enough. Main course was chicken in a sun-dried tomato sauce, served with new potatoes and vegetables. The veg was mainly green beans with some baby sweetcorn. Some people had bits of red pepper as well but there weren't enough to go around. The potatoes were minted and the chicken stuffed with pesto. The combination of flavours clashed somewhat and detracted from the overall meal.

Dessert was described as a Double Chocolate truffle with cherry coulis and double chocolate sauce. This was really nice with a good balance of sweet and bitter chocolate.

The live bands were an odd choice - Nizlopi, Idlewild and the Sugababes. We spend most of the time alternating between listening to them and going on the fairground rides.

All the rides were paid for but the queues were huge. We managed to go on everything once though, and I seemed to acquire various bruises from most of them. First injury was on the dodgems where my knee slammed into the steering wheel. Most of the bruises came from the ride where the seats are in a horizontal line and these get lifted up in a circular motion. Very quickly. I didn't seem to fit in the seat very well so I kept getting slammed against the side a lot.

The most disappointing part of the evening came at 1am when without warning all the rides closed. The event itself carried on til 3am but all you could do then was drink and listen to the annoying DJs. We went home shortly afterwards.

Although the evening sounds disappointing , the main problem was that it didn't feel good value. I can imagine it was very expensive to host so the high prices probably weren't due to profiteering. There were some minor highlights, for example the Sugababes didn't seem to do their full 30 minute act - it certainly felt a lot quicker anyway. Also there were helium balloons on each table and during the meal many of these kept flying around the marquee, some of them hovering with almost perfect boyancy, as people removed the weights and let them free.

How not to write a website

Story location: Home / computing /

A colleague in work was trying to log into a website but it wouldn't accept her password. She clicked on the Can't Login? link to see what options were available. This took her to the bug reporting screen which required her to log in first! All rather stupid but she did manage to log in in the end.

That's not the only thing wrong with the website but possibly the silliest thing is to do with the meta tags in the <head> section of the web pages. The meta keywords tag is often used to help search engines index the pages. The only page which is visible to a search engine is the 'log in' screen but this doesn't have the meta tags. These are on the pages which can only be reached after logging in, where they would be invisible to a search engine. Even better than that is the list of keywords. This starts off sensible enough but ends with "Add more here....".

Upside down car

Story location: Home / Blog / coventry /

There was an upside down car on the road leading out from Sainsburys. It looked like there had been a head on collision where one car had been going the wrong way into the car park.

It had been moved by the time we were ready to leave.


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It's been very warm recently, proper summer barbecue weather. We've already had several this year, and are going to another this afternoon. Yesterday it was around 30°C in the house, even with all the windows open. We left the thermometer in the car for a few minutes and it got up to 40° (in the shade).

Congratulations, Archie

Story location: Home / Blog / Hamsters /

archie the hamster It was Emma's idea to go to the Midland Hamster Club show at Great Alne, near Stratford. It was also Emma's idea to take Archie along and enter him into the 'pets' section of the show. He came 4th in the Dwarf Hamster category.

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Ghost Text

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I received a phantom text message this morning. It claimed to be from Emma but the message was completely blank. I replied, asking Emma about it. She said that she hadn't texted me and that the phone was in her pocket at the time!

On the subject of mobile phones, I also got a call about renewing my subscription to the Orange network. The thing is, I haven't been with Orange for a few years but I keep getting these calls.

There's nothing on telly

Story location: Home / Blog / tv /

It must be summer because every programme worth watching seems to be finishing. Everybody Hates Chris, Invasion and My Name is Earl finished last week. At least a new series of 8 out of 10 cats has started so there is still something worth watching on a friday night. Sunday still had top Top Gear but that's taking a 5 week break because of some football competition whose sole purpose seems to be to ruin tv for the rest of us. Hopefully Dr Who can continue uninterrupted for the rest of the series, and I wouldn't be surprised if the current series of House finishes soon because that's been on for a while...

Zac the Explorer

Story location: Home / Blog / Hamsters /

I was sitting at my desk when I thought I saw movement out of the corner of my eye. I looked at the floor and saw something furry run under my computer. It was Zac.

We had him out of the cage earlier in the evening and our first thought was that we'd forgotten to put him back. I picked him up and was about to put him back in the 'hamster castle' when I noticed that one of the tubes linking it to the smaller cage had come loose and he'd escaped and found his way across the room. I put him back in the cage and he seemed none the worse for his adventure.