January 5, 2017

Spectacular

I’ve been wearing glasses for about twenty-five years, and sometimes contact lenses, though rarely at the same time. My prescription has remained fairly constant for the last ten or fifteen years, and so it’s been an impediment that hasn’t given me too much trouble. Every couple of years I get an eye test to verify that my vision is much the same as ever. I order a new pack of contact lenses once in a while. I used to wear monthly disposables, but then switched to daily disposables because I would wear them less than once per month on average anyway.

In recent times I’ve had three pairs of glasses – a main pair for daily use, a backup pair that never needed to be worn (and which were free, thanks to Specsavers’ 2-for-1 offer), and a pair of prescription sunglasses (which actually get used more often in the winter, when the sun is low in the sky, than in the summer, when it’s generally stuck behind a cloud anyway).

Three months ago, my main pair broke. The metal just gave way and the lens fell out while I was cleaning it one day. I took them into the shop to see if there was anything they could do, but the news was not good. Had the frames not been of an old, discontinued design, they might have been able to perform a lens swap, but that option was not available.

They checked my file and told me that my next eye test was due in about six months, so I figured that my spare pair would be able to do me until then. After all, I’d managed decades so far without breaking a pair of glasses, so what were the odds of breaking another pair in the next six months?

I’m sure you can see where this is going. On Monday morning, New Year’s Day 2017, I stepped out of the shower, tried to put my glasses back on, and instead dropped them on the floor. A lens went scurrying off across the lino and tried to hide inside my disreputable pyjamas.

One small piece of electrical tape later, the glasses were bodged back together with the lens in place. I called up Specsavers on the off chance that they were open, which they were, and gave them my sob story. They made sympathetic noises and agreed to bring my eye test forward, and could fit me in the next afternoon.

The eye test yielded the thoroughly unsurprising news that my prescription had once again steadfastly refused to change significantly, of course. I also received the bad news that my spare pair of frames, too, were of an old and discontinued breed, so a lens swap was once again out of the question. New glasses time!

I chose two pairs of frames, one thin and discreet, the other bold and chunky. Eschewing the thinnenned lens option for the chunky ones, it turned out that they’d actually be able to produce that pair, in-store, in under an hour. I was pleasantly surprised, to say the least, and it makes me wonder if there is any provider of goods or services who has given me such a consistently excellent experience as Specsavers. They’re not paying me to say that, I promise you.

Anyway, I have learned my lesson from this experience. Never again will I risk the danger of being without a spare pair of glasses. It’s true to say that the adrenaline rush from flying so close to the sun was unsurpassed, but in the long run, it just ain’t worth it.

On an unrelated note, I started my first blog on the 25th July 2002. Actually, that’s not entirely true, I had started at least one before that, but it’s lost in the mists of time. Anyway, I’ve dug out my old archives, and discovered that I wrote 7 posts on that day. One was fairly weighty, but the other 6 were fairly short. Not quite short enough for Twitter, but certainly so short that nowadays you’d be more inclined to trim them down to 140 characters than to create an uppercase-b uppercase-p Blog Post for them. How things change.

I feel another blog post coming soon, about how much of an arsehole I used to be. How very meta.

Pete
  • Comments: 19
  • It'll give the two of you something to talk about as well. - Pete
  • Well that will improve my time. - Karen
  • ...also, you're not getting off the hook that easily. I'm entered in the race and will fi... - swisslet
  • (I also know that it's a stupid habit with no foundation in anything) - swisslet
  • I. Just. Can't. Help. It. - swisslet
January 2, 2017

Treatz Dessert Parlour

Hi, On Uborka I shall be, every now and then, putting up restaurant, pub, inn, diner, cafe and other. reviews so YOU can see what I suggest. I hope you like this, I will try my best. I will put up my star rating and why, what I ate there and how quick service was, if I came back again what different thing I might eat and why and why I liked my food.

My first place is an other. It is a dessert parlour, what should you call it? Mum says it should be a cafe but I don’t know. My star rating is a 9/10. I rate it 9 because the food is AWESOMELY AMAZINGLY PRO! I had a ‘Signature Platter’ with my mum and dad and if you think it sounds nice then you are so right! The ‘Signature Platter’ was a  big plate with 5 different pieces of food on it and a BIG bowl of dipping chocolate sauce in the middle. The 5 different items were: Oreos (Chocolate & Milk), Squidgy Wafers, big marshmallows and chopped up strawberries and bananas (very ripe and tasted sweet). The service was quite quick so it is good to just drop in for a quick snack. If I came back again then I would have the toffee (or was it fudge) waffle basket which is a ice cream inside a bowl made out of waffles covered in sauce. I liked my food because it was well presented and tasted great for how little time it took to make. They managed to make the banana with the amount of ripeness I like.

I hope you enjoyed my review it is definitely recommended by me and probably lots of others.

by Bernard

Bernard
  • Comments: 2
  • Sounds very tasty. - Clair
  • Sounds like a pretty good place for just desserts... - Lyle
December 11, 2016

Garden Furniture

When we first moved into this house ten years ago, we had no furniture, so we spent the first week making do with the dregs that the previous occupant had left behind. As a result, there was a certain amount of garden furniture indoor usage involved.

The IKEA sofa which brought this silly state of affairs to an end is now ready to be replaced. It has served us well, but a younger, flashier, sexier sofa dressed in red leather has drawn our collective eye, and we’re too weak to resist. It will arrive this week, and to avoid having everything happen at the same time, we’ve moved the old sofa into the conservatory today, where Maisy can have it all to herself until it is taken away.

In the meantime, we shall once again sit on garden furniture.

Pete
  • Comments: 1
  • I feel like there should have been a photograph to accompany this post. - Karen
December 3, 2016

Basingstoke Canal Walk

Karen and I seem to be inexorably drawn towards canals. Plans that we make often end up gaining a canal element of their own accord. And so it is that our Saturday morning walk turned into a Saturday morning canal walk.

After a quick sandwich and a fortifying pint, we’ll be back on the towpath.

Pete
November 8, 2016

Technology at a glacial pace

If you existed in January 2014, you might recall a blog post in which I reminisced about every single mobile phone I’ve ever owned. At the time, I’d been in possession of the fantastic Nexus 4 for nearly a year, and mentioned that I was hoping to keep it for at least another year.

Well, time went by. That second year passed. Halfway through the third year, I started thinking about a new phone, but nothing really wowed me. I sat tight and waited for September 2015, hoping that Google’s new Nexus would be more suited to my needs than the Nexus 6 of the previous year. But I found myself underwhelmed with the specs – they seemed to be hardly an improvement on the Nexus 4 at all!

In December 2015 I dropped my phone on a beach and it was never the same after that. Though it bore only a few small cosmetic scratches, the top centimetre of the screen (with the exception of the very top row of pixels) no longer responded to touch at all. I could still swipe down from the top, but I was at the mercy of app designers – any UI elements in that top stripe were unusable, and I found myself having to rotating the phone sideways in certain scenarios just to hit a particular button.

But I made do, for a while. My phone was now over three and a half years old, and I knew its days were numbered. Again, I eagerly awaited September 2016, hoping that Google would announce a new Nexus that really did tick my boxes. And then they decided that they were going to stop doing £300 phones, and start doing £600 phones instead, and I knew that I was wasting my time.

It didn’t take me long to decide what I wanted. I placed my order, and after an excruciating month-long wait, my new phone arrived. Below is one of the last photos I took with my Nexus 4:

2016-10-29-11-54-50

I’ve been using my new OnePlus 3 for a little over a week now. I’ve bought a bumper case for it (Ringke Fusion), Karen’s knitted a new phone sock (using the same yarn that she used for my Kindlelope a few years back) and I have to say, I’m pleased with my purchase.

Downsides first: it is very large. 5.5″ screen means that even I, with my enormous hands, can’t use it one-handed – my thumb doesn’t even get close to the far corner. The second downside is that is uses a USB-C connector, which means that my huuuuuuge collection of cables with USB-micro connectors is now officially obsolete.

However, that ties in nicely to one of the big upsides – the battery. It’s bonkers. I use about 30% of its charge capacity per day – contrast with the Nexus 4, where I would easily use double that, if not more. Furthermore, the OnePlus 3 comes with this nifty DASH charger with orange cable, which charges the thing at blazing speed. That 30% per day is replaced in about 20 minutes max. We went on a geocaching walk on Sunday – normally, I’d need to plug my Nexus 4 into my Anker PowerCore within about an hour to keep it going. After 90 minutes of geocaching, the OnePlus 3 had dropped from 100% to 92% charge.

The other big weak point of the Nexus 4, the poor camera, is also resolved in this phone. While it may not be the best phone camera in the market, it’s still pretty impressive. Here’s a couple of shots from the weekend:

Fireworks, taken with a OnePlus 3

Fireworks, taken with a OnePlus 3

Mushrooms, taken while geocaching with a OnePlus 3

Mushrooms, taken while geocaching with a OnePlus 3

It’s got great specs, and since I was starting to run into problems with the Nexus 4’s 16GB storage space, I’m hoping that the OnePlus 3’s 64GB will tide me over for a while.

Back when I wrote my previous post I wrote that I was hoping to get 2 years out of the Nexus 4. And now, I have to be entirely honest, it’s difficult not to hope for 4 years out of the OnePlus 3. But to be honest I’m anticipating the total collapse of civilisation in the next few years, so perhaps it’s a moot point.

Pete
  • Comments: 2
  • That's true, but whereas I used to have eighty bajillion cables to choose from when chargi... - Pete
  • Your cable collection is not totally obsolete, given that every other device in the house ... - Karen
October 13, 2016

Forever Home

It’s 8am. Pete and I are having breakfast in bed. Bernard is on a year 6 residential trip. We are enjoying it way too much. We were talking about how old and stupid the cat is getting, and somehow get on to talking about how long we have lived in this house: over ten years now.

I never imagined we would be here this long, I say. We said it was our Ten Years House.
That didn’t mean we had to move after ten years
, says Pete. I always thought of it as a minimum.
I always thought of it as a maximum
, I say.
That’s because you have never lived anywhere for ten years, Pete points out. I lived in the same house from the age of 2 to the age of 22. That’s what I want for Bernard.
We should have had this conversation ten years ago.

It’s hard to articulate how it feels for me to be in the same place for ten years, even as a parent and knowing that our son has this amazing stable foundation that I never had; on the other hand, the constant moving around meant having to meet and deal with new people, learn to make friends and fit in (theoretically, anyway); and at least my family were a constant even if schools and houses changed. When choosing a university, these things were presented as important and character building reasons to go as far from away from home as possible, usually by people who had no idea how many times I had already done that.

I have a little bit of wanderlust. I may have mentioned it before.

Karen
  • Comments: 2
  • Never fear. The only thing that would prompt Pete out of his manor is if a house came up f... - Karen
  • Don't you fucking dare. - Gammidgy
October 2, 2016

Armchair Hiker

A few years ago I was working in a theatre (not as glamorous as it sounds, I was just teaching an antenatal class there), and I spent some time browsing a photographic exhibition by a mother who had hiked the Camino de Santiago with her two teenage sons. At the time I was intrigued and drawn to the romance of it, but inevitably somewhat put off by the heavy spiritual element; however it has stayed in my mind as, over the last few years, we have started doing more walking as a family.

Last year, we watched Wild, the film of Cheryl Strayed’s memoir of her hike along part of the Pacific Crest Trail, and that poked my dormant intrigue back into an active curiosity. I still can’t put my finger on what it is about long distance walking that appeals to me so much. I’ve racked my brains for practical ways to do it myself despite my diary being booked up 9 months in advance, and Bernard’s tendency to behave as though he is being abused and neglected whenever we drag him out into Nature. It’s not possible, it might never be possible. So I have become addicted to the Hiking Memoir as a genre, and indulge in daydreams of long trails, big skies, and wide views. Here’s my reading so far…
Continue reading

Karen
  • Comments: 4
  • I found Blindness quite unpleasant to read, although Pete enjoyed it. He has the film line... - Karen
  • A Moroccan called Brahim - a lovely man - once told me that The Alchemist summed up for hi... - swisslet
  • I quite fancy the Thames Path, parts of which are even closer to home. I've even bought th... - Karen
  • I'm glad you hated The Pilgrimage. I now can't remember what convinced me that Paulo Coelh... - Gammidgy
July 11, 2016

Uborkast Episode 8

This one is very chatty, to make up for there being no song. Bernard in particular is a star. He will tell you about Robots Live and interview his father about Lego Star Wars. Pete and Karen have a bit of a grumble about politics and cold water, then talk some more about TV and the best birthday parties of the last ten years.

Karen