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Mystery Train

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I like a good mystery, such as the perennial favourite 'What train am I on?' and the related 'What platform is my train on?'

Tonight they had moved my train to platform 1, which you can't get from the side entrance of New Street Station, so I had to walk along the platform, up the stairs to the central concourse, then down the steps to the platform itself. The screen there still announced the imminent departure of a different train, and the platform was full of people waiting for that train til the tannoy announced that it had been moved to yet another platform.

On My Own

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I've been on my own all weekend - Emma has been away since Thursday at some University related thing, but she's due back later this afternoon. All I've done really is lounge around watching videos or listening to music, with the occasional bit of gardening (well, re-potting some plants so the roots have more soil). I walked into town yesterday morning but it's been raining almost constantly since yesterday afternoon. I was in the garden when I felt a few spots of rain so I managed to bring the laundry in before it got wet again.

It looks like it's going to be another wet bank holiday weekend, unless some miracle happens and the weather improves tomorrow.

Latest Hamster Photos

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Concrete Centre

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icCoventry has a news story about the latest Lonely Planet guide to the UK which criticises Coventry and it's overabundance of concrete.

The ring road comes in for some criticism and granted, it's not pretty to look at and not fun to drive on (confusing junctions where you have to pull off to stay on the ring road, mostly grade-separated junctions but with one roundabout thrown in for extra confusion). Its big advantage over other ring roads in other towns is the separation - traffic using it is kept away from traffic in the city centre.

The complaint about the concrete city centre is probably fair. The area around the fountain in the precinct is a typical ugly town centre shopping area. The tower where Smithford Way meets Corporation Street is very pedestrian unfriendly, blocking the middle of the "road".

The book deservedly praises the Cathedral and the Transport Museum. The area around the Museum (including the Whittle Arches and Lady Herbert's Garden) is how a modern city centre should look. There are still a lot of medieval buildings in the centre but they are mostly hidden away which means the first impression is of 'modern' buildings.

Heading outside the path of the old town walls, you get the two medieval streets which lead away from the city. Spon Street has been 'prettified' and should be on any tourist's itinerary. At the opposite end, Far Gosford Street is much more run down. Both are home to a wide selection of pubs and restaurants.

I'm not sure whether I'm trying to defend Coventry here. The city has been my home for nearly 3 years now, and it certainly isn't perfect. There are many plans to redevelop a lot of the uglier parts of the centre so Coventry may eventually become a city to be proud of.

Paper Recycling... Not

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I think someone has stolen the paper recycling box from our front yard. When I got home tonight I was going to bring it into the house to fill, ready for collection tomorrow. It was only then that I noticed it was missing so I don't know when it was taken. I expect it was just some cheeky bastard wanting a free storage tub rather than someone actually wanting to recycle. Hardly anyone in our street bothers putting the boxes out. Most of them are in front yards, collecting either rainwater or rubbish.

West Midlands Safari Park

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It wasn't the ideal day to be stuck in a hot car with the windows wound up. It was very warm and having the blower on full didn't cool the car down much - air conditioning would have been so welcome. Thankfully we only had to do this whilst in the 'dangerous animal' enclosures, we could have the windows open everywhere else.

There are no monkeys at this park so we thought we'd be safe from animals wanting to wreck the car. We didn't expect a zebra to try to eat the wing mirror. Thankfully it didn't do any damage.

When looking at animals starts to wear a bit thin, there's the fun fair with assorted rides, roller coasters and the crappiest slowest dodgems I've ever been on.


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(most of the images are taken from video rather than photographs, so the pictures may be slightly fuzzy)

Baby Hamsters

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At the weekend, we were in Northampton visiting some baby Roborovski Hamsters. We met their owners first (Alison and Doug, some of our hamster-owning friends) before driving over to their house to poke the babies. We took 2 of them home with us and they are living happily with Psyche. At the moment we're not sure of their gender - if they turn out to be female we may have to move them out before he gets any ideas.

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In the middle of the night

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I was listening to the radio, moving through the stations trying to find something I wanted to listen to. I had to turn it off after hearing the Billy Joel song River of Dreams twice on different staions. I hadn't heard the song for ages - I don't dislike it but I think once per half hour is enough for me.

I mentioned this to 'Jack' on MSN messenger and she had the song stuck in her head for ages afterwards.

Eurovision Song Contest

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Europe seems to have suffered a collective sense of humour failure tonight. The contest was won by Serbia with a fairly dreary ballad, whereas the Ukraine deserved better but only came second.

Apart from the Ukraine (who benefited from the Eastern Bloc policy of voting for friends and neighbours), no other novelty act scored well. France should have scored better than they did - the singer jogging around the stage with a toy cat around his neck had to be worth something. Scooch did surprisingly badly - we would have been better with Pif Paf Pof.

The swedish song sounded very familiar but I can't work out what it reminded me of.

Government to move to Aberystwyth

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According to NewsBiscuit, Tony Blair decided that Parliament should move to Aberystwyth.

Quoth the article:

Tony Blair's final act as Prime Minister was billed as a huge boost for the regions today, when he announced that the government of the United Kingdom, would henceforth be re-located in the Welsh coastal town of Aberystwyth.

Farewell Theo

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Theo the hamster died today. He was nearly 2 years old which is a good age for a Winter White. He is survived by his brothers Reggie and Archie.

Free Milk

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The 'free milk' people were outside Coventry railway station again this morning, giving away samples of a new semi-skimmed milk with less than 1% fat. I got a small bottle yesterday which I drank on the train because I was thirsty. The bottle they gave me this morning is sitting in the fridge in work. If nobody steals it*, I'll have it with cereal (we're not allowed to use the milk provided, that's for tea and coffee only. People have complained about the milk running out when the cereal-eaters start plundering the fridge).

  • There has been a spate of thefts from the fridge in work - mainly just a few scrapes of butter but on occasion an entire tub has vanished, along with a jar of marmite!


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courgette shoots
Our garden is starting to fill with plants, although at the moment most of them are weeds. We did a little bit of light gardening this afternoon, spraying the weeds with weedkiller and re-planting our courgettes. We sowed them from seeds a couple of weeks ago and all but one germinated. They were getting a bit tall for the propagator so they are now in a larger trough. The propagator is now being used to germinate some Spinach Beet seeds.


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The Coventry Sikh Union holds their annual Vaisakhi Mela in the War Memorial Park. We went along today to see what was going on and to sample some of the food (Langar) on offer. The food may have been free but they were requesting a small charitable donation which seemed fair. We had a couple of plates and it was all good stuff.

We wandered around the stalls and fairground (most rides were £2.50 per person which seemed a bit much). We also discovered that the park has an aviary which we weren't aware of. It was fairly small and was mostly populated by various types of finches and a few cockatiels.

First Barbecue of the year

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The weather had been warm all week. I could smell a barbecue on my way home on wednesday evening, which only made me want one. When we were in the supermarket on thursday we decided to buy a barbecue for the weekend.

This seemed to have a remarkable effect on the weather, making friday quite cold and windy. This morning started off the same but thankfully started to get warmer by mid-day.

The home-made marinade we used for the chicken breast was a success. I mixed together brown sauce, tomato puree, anchovy sauce, chilli and soy. The chicken breasts themselves were really plump and juicy which helped.

The Oracle of Bacon

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I spent a few minutes at lunchtime trying to fool the Oracle of Bacon - an on-line version of the famous game where actors are linked to Kevin Bacon in as few moves as possible.

I was trying to find names with a large 'Bacon number' by choosing people such as obscure Russian actors from the 1920s but the highest I managed was 5 links.

Jimmy Spices

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I was still feeling a bit full after last nights visit to the Oriental Palace so I don't think I managed to eat as much as I might otherwise have done. This was an office trip which also included the Senior Manager and Secretary/PA so I thought it wise to show a little restraint and not over-fill my plate. This plan may have back-fired because I needed more visits to the serving area, so it may have looked like I was eating more than I was.

Jimmy Spices is yet another of the Asian/Italian buffet places which seem to be quite popular these days. The starters included spring rolls, pizza slices, assorted types of salad and pasta. Main courses were the usual selection of curries but also a 'Live Stir Fry' where you select the raw ingredients and have them cooked for you. There was no sign of the Thai food which is advertised but there were a lot of empty spaces where the serving bowls were so I imagine a fuller selection is offered in the evenings.

Puddings were more limited than at other buffet places. There was Fruit, Strawberry mousse, ice cream and something resembling a stodgy cheesecake but on a thin sponge base. The one novel feature was the provision of ice cream cones but sadly no sauces or sprinkles.