Toye has been on Broadband Internet access for a year now and apparently its the
"in-thing". No more waiting hours for files to download or getting cut
off in the middle of a surfing session, oh no!
sell their "anytime" (5KB per second download speed) product for £15
per month with almost unlimited access, although getting connected is a chore in
itself. It seems like a good deal, therefore, to spend the extra £14 a month
and get upgraded to the ADSL network and enjoy 256-512 KB per second access.
best bit about this fast internet access is that you can use your phone-line as
per normal while surfing and you can leave your PC on all the time for no extra
everyone is able to access this service yet, though. BT are limiting where they
supply it to exchanges in towns or near them. To find out if you are eligible
for high-speed surfing, check out this link
BT have no plans to introduce broadband to the 891 exchange in the near future,
which is a nuisance.
(2) Fun in Portugal.
the end of June, two colleagues and I set out for Oporto in Portugal as guests
of the Robertson family who are major players in the Port wine business. We had
won the City Conker challenge last October and now it was time to claim our
prize of spending a weekend at The Festival of St. James. The flight passed
reasonably uneventfully, although two rag heads on the plane had their collars
felt for sellotaping photographs of Osama bin Laden to the front of their seats.
Apparently they had also been up to something "untoward" in the rear
loo but I never really found out what!
some obscure reason the flight took us to Lisbon first and then back up the
coast to Oporto. We landed late on Saturday evening and headed straight for the
hotel – a most agreeable venue called the Hotel
Infante de Sagres which was just a stones throw away from the central
square in the city.
a few preparatory beers, served by possibly the slowest waiter in the world, we
headed out into the fresh night. Despite being far South, Portugal is blessed
with cool breezes from The Atlantic Ocean which prevent it from overheating too
much. We headed down a series of steep cobbled side-streets and eventually found
the main quay on the River Douro.
of us ate, drank (to excess) and spent a very pleasant and refined few hours
drooling over the local wenches. At 2.00 am the next morning, we were presented
with a bar bill for €14 ( less than £10). I checked the bill and to my
amazement found it accurate. This can't be bad - two people out for three hours
in a major European city, getting
fed and watered for £5 a head.
headed off to bed and rose for breakfast at 9.00 am the next day. Mid-morning we
were taken by a large limousine to the same quayside we had been at several
hours earlier. This time the fun began in earnest. We were ushered onto a vessel
that looked like a cross between a Chinese junk and an Arabian Dhow. Once aboard
we were greeted by a spectacularly affable old cove by the name of Alastair
Robertson who, it transpired, is Le Grande Fromage in the port business (Fonseca
is one of his!).
thrust the first of many glasses of the most delicious white port into our hand
and we cast off downstream to watch the beginning of the Barco Rabello barge race. One peculiar aspect of this race is
that each barge has a person wearing a large black cape and a hat with a feather
in it, just like the bloke on the Sandeman television advert from the 70’s
race begins with a Le Mans style start, if that is possible for boats. Each
barco draws lots to decide its starting place across the river. The race is
timed to coincide with the tide turning. As soon as the starting cannon has been
fired, the crews rush to hoist the lateen rig and head of downwind. Each barge
is slightly different in shape, weight and sail area so the handicap system is
more of an art than a science (and this is putting it very mildly).
the race progresses up river, the wind becomes more fickle and the tide begins
to materially affect the running order. We counted the lead changing hands
several times over the course
of the race with tail-end Charlie's frequently storming around the outside of the
fleet and taking the lead, only to fall back once they get becalmed downwind of
the following pack.
this proved far too exciting for me so, throwing caution to the wind and gout
pills down my gullet, I began to try and pace the leaders in the port drinking
on the boat. Big mistake.
Fonseca boat came in second by a short length to the overall winners so some
honour was restored. We then proceeded to have lunch on the barge and enjoyed a
wonderful trip up the river for several hours.
stumbled back ashore during the afternoon where the brighter members of the
group went back to the hotel for a siesta. We lesser mortals decided to go on an
expedition into the nether reaches of Oporto. Dressing down and leaving all our
valuables in the hotel safe, we headed across the main square and into the old
stares greeted us wherever we turned, but we needn't have been so fretful - once
the locals ascertained that we were British (and not Germans....!) they greeted
us with open arms, cheap cigars and gallons of Super Bock beer. Thus was spent a
drunken and enjoyable (if slightly surreal) afternoon chewing the fat.
evening celebrations were due to kick off at around 7.00 pm so it was back to
the hotel for tea and medals followed by a hasty departure to the Fonseca Lodge
on the far side of the river. We were given a tour of the Fonseca and Grahams
cellars. The most unusual sight of the tour was seeing a wooden cask of port
that held over 26,000 gallons of port – now that’s one vat I’d like to
repaired to the terrace of the Fonseca lodge overlooking the river Douro and the
old town of Oporto. We enjoyed a banquet of
several courses – all with white port and ended our meal with a
delicious Fonseca from 1970. Very nice indeed.
after the meal finished the fireworks display started. This lasted over ninety
minutes and consisted of four separate displays, organised by the mayor of each
district in the city. It would appear that quite a lot of local pride was at
stake because each display outdid the previous one in terms of size, noise and
calculated that some of the rockets had been let off over a mile away and the
resulting explosions were at least two hundred yards in diameter. The noise of
these was indescribable (so I won’t even try) and we could actually feel a
shock wave hitting our bodies. God alone knows how the rockets passed the local
Health & Safety laws - perhaps there weren't any! Unfortunately, we didn’t
take any photographs of the fireworks because we were too drunk to focus our
eyes properly, let alone a camera lens.
is a tradition in Oporto to launch hot air balloons during the night of the
festival of St. James. These home made contraptions have a large balloon about 4
feet in diameter and a small basket underneath to hold a nightlight. This is lit
and the resulting hot air fills the balloon and sends it rocketing skywards at
some considerable speed. The wind carries these balloons far across the river
where they eventually burn up and come crashing to earth in a fiery ball - small
wonder that most streets had a very visible fire watch throughout the night.
the fireworks finished, over five hundred thousand people took to the streets to
party until dawn. We left the Lodge at around midnight and spent a highly
amusing hour walking the mile back to our hotel.
tradition in The Festival of St. James is to bang your neighbours over the head
with a plastic hammer that emits an incredibly vexing "pip" sound when
it makes contact.
the taller someone is, the more desirable it is to belt them. Understandably, I
was slightly bemused when the 200th person walloped me.
of my colleagues took advantage of the relative silence as 20,000 people were
crossing the Bridge designed by Eiffel and began a rousing chorus of that
annoying Eurotrash anthem "Ole, Ole Ole Ole, O-le, O-le". We were both
rather surprised when the 20,000 around us joined in with a very loud refrain!
eventually returned home to the hotel at around 3.00 am and managed a few hours
slumber before returning once more to Britain.
first glance, Oporto looks slightly tatty and faded. Look beyond the surface
grime, however, and you find a city rich in culture with a fascinating heritage.
It is quite cheap to get there (BA fly from Gatwick) and very cheap to stay
there - visit it before it is spoiled.
might also like to know that Fonseca are sponsoring this years challenge in The
City on October 1st, near the Lloyds insurance building. Fancy challenging us?
Then come on up and have a go if you think you are hard enough! I will send you
more details as they become available........
Doing it with dogs.
the past year Janie and I have been trying to get a litter of puppies out of the
whippet. We have been using a stud dog belonging to a tycoon that owns a chain
of sandwich bars. This dog Chester is very enthusiastic but seems to be lacking
in experience. Last Winter I went along to said tycoons house to oversee the
process of insemination. Poor Chester was really out of his depth and we retired
home with a rather frustrated whippet bitch.
summer we went up to London for a return match. apparently Chester had used the
intervening six months wisely and had fathered two separate litters of puppies.
Janie left Tess up in London for the morning and went off shopping. when she
returned, the housekeeper informed her that Chester had "done it" six
times in the last four hours - this dog must be the Ron Jeremy of the canine
crossed for the next few weeks while we wait and see if Tess will be a mother.
Defacing Signposts – a “did you know” exclusive.
you know that its illegal for road signs to display metric measurements? I
was informed recently that Crawley had suffered several acts of wanton vandalism
- apparently road signs showing metric distances have been covered up and
imperial distances put in their place. the rather curious aspect of this is that
it is being carried out by private individuals with the knowledge and, it
appears, acquiescence of the local Council.
individuals carrying out the above acts were arrested by the police but released
when the council said that it was not prepared to take any action against them.
A circular has been sent out from the DOT to all the councils in the UK
recently. this reminds them of the rules which require British road and
pedestrian signs to be in Imperial only. The references to statute law mentioned
in the Circular are:
Traffic Regulations Act 1984, Sections 65 & 142
Signs Regulations and General Direction 1994s (SI 1999 No 1519),Schedules 1
& 7, Schedule 16 (Items 3 to 8) and Direction 35
helpful is the statement that "all direction signs, including those to be
used on public footpaths and bridleways", must be in British units, and
there is a further reference to Sec. 142 RTR Act defining a 'road' as "any
length of highway or of any other road to which the public has access...the Act
therefore covers privately owned roads to which the
has access as well as highways maintained at public expense".
I found it interesting, anyway.
found a great little website
recently - all about historic legal documents that should have supremacy over
the annoying legislation that Blair brings in from time to time.
LPG Conversion has been done and after a few initial teething problems I must
say that its brilliant. Auto LPG in Bolney did an exceptionally neat conversion for me
and as Dave Toye hasn't come round to photograph the resultant job, you will
have to wait for next month to see how the thing works.
anyone else go to the Game Fair at Brinsbury two weeks ago? I went on both days
and enjoyed myself thoroughly. I arrived on Saturday afternoon and parked up
nice and close to the entry gate. I spent several hours walking around all the
stands where I was able to purchase some Gore-Tex overtrousers, some nice
workboots and a few rugs for the dogs.
also saw some very interesting displays of retrieving, fly casting and
appeared to enjoy himself too - he spent the majority of the afternoon rolling
in the quagmire and "playing" with several large German Shepherd dogs!
I departed just before a cloudburst which left the showground under several
inches of water and mud. I went back on Sunday and spent a few hours in the
various shooting & conservation tents in order to escape the all-pervasive
mud. A chance encounter with
someone I had met two years earlier at the Game Fair in Duncton has provided me
with a rather nice stud JRT for Lilly Savage in the winter.
person I met was interested in Punt Guns - he reckons I can restore my old one
over time (more of this next month) and get a unique firearm back into service.
RSPCA doesn't seem to be a very happy ship these days - there are rumours
abounding of cash problems at HQ - partially caused by the gross carbuncle built
next to the execu-homes, but I reckon their advertising has also cost them a
penny or two also!
year we were treated to the spectacle of the "Animal Police" adverts
on television - all posed with very healthy looking pets and this year their
focus has shifted onto hunting with dogs. I won't bore you with the in's and
out's of the arguments but I think it is sufficient to say that I feel the RSPCA
has been taken over by a bunch of near-fanatical animal advocates who reckon it
is acceptable to squander the legacies they receive from across the country on
pursuing their morbid and over zealous campaign to ban hunting. Doctor Jonathan
Miller writes a column in the Sunday Times each week called Mean Fields - see
what he has to say about them. Then again, you might just like to browse the
RSPCA Animadversion website
and see what is going on for yourself.
(see pictures I have added of Southwater CA
meeting DT 23rd August 2002)
(see pictures I have added of Southwater CA meeting DT 23rd August 2002)
months thrilling insatallments:-
Punt Gun (if photos are available)
on the car (ditto photos)
signs go up (ditto March signs)
tour in Provence
lots, lots more! (if I remember what they are)
Simon McClean 23rd August 2002 last months MR's
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