For the last two weeks I have been busy decorating, transforming the orange/green (don’t ask) colour schemed kitchen and adjacent ‘breakfast’ room. The kitchen is finished apart from putting up a shelf and a second coat of gloss on the radiator. It was wallpapered but has now been painted a lovely shade of Dulux ‘Sultan’ The wallpaper was hiding a multitude of holes and patches so I had to do some filling of holes, sanding and then had to apply two coats of base coat to make it suitable for painting.

The breakfast room is a little more work, it will be wallpapered again and I have had to repair the ceiling due to a water leak last year. Yesterday I spent several hours painting all the woodwork, doors, skirting boards and radiators with ubiquitous white gloss paint.

Why is gloss paint such a horrible experience? It is difficult to clean up after using it and worse of all it smells, oh it smells. Despite having windows open the whole house stinks of the stuff.

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I am tired today


I woke up this morning feeling absolutely shattered. I am more tired than I did last night. When I did retire to bed I wasn’t really tired, but as my wife has to get up early to go to work I did it to minimise disturbing her. I did go to sleep but found myself waking several times during the night, thankfully this time it wasn’t due to earthquakes.

Despite my stress levels dropping since becoming semi-retired and having a nice new bed my sleeping patterns are becoming worrying as I seem to be struggling to sleep more and more. I am currently taking Citalopram and a number of side effects are insomnia and other sleep disorders. But I have been taking them for a while now so would have expected any side effects to have shown up before now, perhaps a trip to the GP is called for.

Interestingly I have also noticed that I have started to dream again and have had some rather vivid episodes lately, last night I was being chased across a huge concrete expanse beneath Tower Bridge by a pack of rabid corgis.

UK’s biggest quake in 25 years



Preliminary report from the British Geological Survey

27 February 2008
England hit by Earthquake
The British Geological Survey (BGS) recorded an earthquake with a magnitude of 5.2 (ML) on the Richter scale near Market Rasen, Lincolnshire at 00:56 GMT. The BGS has been inundated with calls from the public, media and emergency services throughout England.

DATE : 27 February 2008
LAT/LONG : 53.42° North / 0.35° West
GRID REF : 509.4 kmE / 392.7 kmN
DEPTH : 5.0 km
MAGNITUDE : 5.2 Richter Scale (ML)
LOCALITY : Market Rasen, Lincolnshire

The epicentre is approximately 4 km north of Market Rasen and reports suggest that the earthquake has been felt widely across England, with reports of damage to chimneys in the epicentral area. Earthquakes of this size occur in the mainland UK roughly every 30 years, although are more common in offshore areas. This is the largest earthquake in the UK since the magnitude 5.4 ML Lleyn Peninsula earthquake in 1984, which was widely felt across England and Wales.
Seismologist Dr Brian Baptie of the British Geological Survey said:
“The is a significant earthquake for the UK and will have been widely felt across England and Wales”.

The BGS records approximately 200 earthquakes in the UK each year on its monitoring stations. Approximately 25 earthquakes in the UK are felt by people each year.

The full press release can be downloaded here

That was an interesting night luckily there appears to be very little damage and casualties. This is the 3rd tremor I have felt in the UK during my lifetime, the others being the big one in 1984, and I vividly remember this one as some book shelves fell down where I was working.

I am kicking myself because I purchased a copy of Electronic Sensors for the Evil Genius book a few months back and had the intention of building a seismograph. There was also plans for another seismograph project in the October 2007 of Everyday Practical Electronics Magazine but the world is full of good intentions!

Well we met Jake but it didn’t go too well!

As I posted earlier we popped along to see Jake and he seemed a really nice little friendly dog, unfortunately when it came to meeting Charlie and Boris he turned into a terrible terrier! I think he got a bit nervous, being on the lead didn’t help, and he decided to give Charlie a little nip to his tail! So it was back to the cage for poor old Jake.

We met another sweet little dog Gizmo but I haven’t given up on Jake just yet! We are making a return visit on Saturday so the wife can see him and the plan is to take him for a small walk and meet the boys on neutral ground to see how they get on.

More Douglas Coupland Novels – “The Gum Thief” and “Hey, Nostradamus!”


Just had a nice cup of tea and finished reading The Gum Thief the latest novel by Douglas Coupland. My interest in Coupland’s work was triggered by the JPod TV series and the original novel I recently read.

I found JPod to be very accessible probably due to the technology based subject matter but this book was a little more work. I suspect I have got out of the habit of reading and when I have read in the past it tends to be the usual sci-fi or horror genre.

Never the less, The Gum Thief is filled with clever observations and Coupland’s sense of humor. The plot, and there isn’t one really is about an overweight 20 something Goth girl (Bethany) who develops an unlikely friendship with an alcoholic, aspiring author (Roger) when she finds his journal and starts corresponding with him. Roger is a mid-40’s burnout working a customer service job at a Staples. He is divorced, still in shock from the death of one of his children, and trying to find meaning in a life that’s over half gone.

The book is made up entirely of documents written by the characters in the novel including Roger’s journal entries, his novel in progress “Glove Pond”, letters, creative writing essays, and email messages. Something called an epistolary novel I have since discovered. Bethany and later on her mother DeeDee convince Roger to finish “Glove Pond” which is frankly terrible, and initially I found these parts difficult to read, but perseverance paid off.

The Gum Thief is a work about growing older and coping with life when things don’t turn out the way you planned. It is also about loneliness and isolation and highlights the way that people can often express ourselves more openly with strangers or on the written page.

Whether I would recommend this book I am not sure, but I did find it a worthwhile read.

Interestingly design house Crush Inc have created a series of video projects based on the book that appear on Coupland’s own website.


The other Coupland book in my local library was “Hey, Nostradamus!” which I finished reading on Saturday, my wife has commented on my rediscovered love of books. I have not watched much TV of late, probably a reaction to losing the satellite TV. Actually enjoying sitting reading, listening to music and drinking the odd class of whisky in the evening.

Hey Nostadamus! is apparently Coupland’s most critically acclaimed work. First published in 2003 the novel comprises of four first-person narratives, each from the perspective of a character directly or indirectly impacted by a fictional 1988 school shooting in suburban Vancouver. The novel touches on many issues, including adolescent love, sex, religion and grief. For a plot summation I suggest you read the wikipedia entry.

I found the first narrative, which described the actual shooting from the viewpoint of Cheryl one of the victims, the most engaging but must admit I found the other sections a bit hard-going and not very enjoyable. I did contemplate giving up and re-reading it at a later date.

I think I will give Coupland a rest for now and will hunt out a copy of Microserfs to read in the future.

Saturday Night – Toby Carvery


After the upsetting events of last week it was nice to put them to the back of the mind over the weekend. It would have been my Dad’s birthday last Wednesday and since he passed away we have celebrated his life by having a family evening out. So on Saturday evening we went to the Toby Carvery on the Broadway in Walsall.

Before that I took my Mum down to the cemetery to place some flowers on his stone. My mother commented how dreary cemeteries look this time of the year and she is right. It seemed deserted and the trees are simple skeletons of wood devoid of leaves and many of the graves were decorated by brown dead, rotting flowers and wreaths from Christmas. Thankfully in a few weeks it will be a bit more colourful as people come with flowers for Mothering Sunday.

Back to the meal out, I can recommend the Toby Carvery for £5 (before 6pm, we got there a few minutes before!) you can have a hearty meal You can choose from one or all of three roasts: Beef, Honey glazed gammon and turkey. Then you help yourself to as much freshly steamed and roasted vegetables, home-cooked Yorkshire puddings and sauces and gravies. You can even go back for more Yorkshires, stuffing and vegetables. We also had starters, which cost extra, but five adults were completely stuffed for less than £10 a head.

Thanks to my brother for paying!

pictured at one of our previous visits