Monthly Archives: August 2006

Most. Posts. Ever.

Well, well. I don’t know if it’s the camera, or if I’ve just been finding more things to talk about, or I’ve just been randomly babbling more than normal[1], but I’ve made more posts in this month than ever before. Including this one, I’ve made 77 posts, which is quite a lot. The previous record was 68 back in September 2004.

I’ll probably calm down a bit soon.

[1] Or as close to normal as I get :laugh:

What a Scream!

BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Stolen Munch paintings found safe

Two masterpieces by artist Edvard Munch have been recovered two years after they were stolen from an Oslo museum. The Scream and Madonna were found in a police operation. “We are 100% certain they are the originals. The damage was much less than feared,” police said.

And a good thing, too. I’ve always had a soft spot for The Scream. I’ve got the poster, and I used to have the inflatable figure. No, really. They used to sell[1] inflatable “Scream” figures. Mine developed a leak and just wouldn’t stay blown up. Hmmm. Maybe I should look for another one…

[1] And quite possibly still do

Now that’s what I call secure

BBC NEWS | World | Americas | Canada pilot in toilet trip drama

Passengers on a Canadian plane had an unsettling in-flight experience after the pilot found himself locked out of the cockpit after a trip to the toilet. Instead of slipping back inside, the Air Canada Jazz pilot was seen banging on the door and talking to his first officer on an internal phone. Crew members were forced to take the door off its hinges to let him back in.

Nice to know that those secure cockpit doors really are secure. A spokesdroid for the airline was careful to point out that

the first officer could have landed the flight by himself…and at no time was the safety or security of passengers compromised

Hmmmm. Of course, in the unlikely event of the first officer being taken ill, or something like that, they might have had a problem.

Seaburn to St Peter’s

Today, I took the Metro to Seaburn. My target was to follow one of the walks from the nifty Metro Walks book that’s on sale from local travel centres. Before joining the route, I took a small detour to have a look at the beautifully restored Fulwell Windmill, where I was able to take some pictures and enjoyed a very informative guided tour. There are also some stunning views from the upper floors. It’s well worth a visit – opening times are shown on the website.

From there, I walked towards the sea via Roker Park[1], passing a waterfall and some nice rocky bits. From there, it’s a pleasant route along the seafront and then the riverside to the 7th Century St Peter’s church.

What made the walk really interesting was the quite impressive selection of sculptures along the way. I’ll be uploading the photos tomorrow[2], but for the moment you can at least see the windmill.

Update: the images are now available for your entertainment and amusement

Another update: You can see a Google Map of the area here

And for anyone keeping track of such things, I passed the 1,000 photos mark with the Canon 30D.

[1] Not to be confused with the former football ground of the same name
[2] I’m a bit too tired this evening to be able to concentrate on sorting them out properly. Long walks and not enough sleep..

Royal Mail Goes Even More Postal

BBC NEWS | UK | Junk-mail tip postman faces sack

Following on from their confusing new postal rates, it seems that the management of the Royal Mail are determined to alienate the general public. It seems a postman distributed a leaflet which advised people how to opt out from having some of the more useless junk mail put through their doors. This is the stuff that gets delivered by the Royal Mail. It’s often contained in envelopes with nonsensical labels on to the effect that it’s been “personally delivered”. It’s actually standard advertising junk that’s no different from the bits and bobs delivered by private companies. Most people throw it away or recycle it.

Anyway, rather than congratulating this guy for helping the public, and potentially saving paper, it seems the management have suspended him for misconduct.

The plot has been lost. The lunatics have not just taken over the asylum, they’ve put it up for sale to the highest bidder.

On the buses

It seems like only yesterday[1] that I had a bit of a moan about the changes to my local bus service. Well, this morning, the bus company put some nice leaflets through my door. One was the timetable I’d already seen and complained about, but the other was actually more useful.

And it seems that there actually is some good news. The fares are being simplified and actually reduced. At the moment, the fare from Gateshead Metro to home is 90p if I go the quick way, and £1 if I go the long way round. On the new service, where there’s only one way to go, and which won’t actually get me all the way home, this will be reduced to 70p. And the fare into Newcastle reduces from £1.30 to £1. Regular travellers can get a weekly ticket for £7.50, which is actually a pretty good deal. Full marks to Go North East for that. The leaflet even includes four vouchers worth £2.50 off weekly tickets – one per week for all of September. A nice touch.

Unlike the timetable leaflet, this one actually mentions a frequency for the daytime service, and as I suspected, it’s every ten minutes. The leaflet points out that

We are doubling our frequency to Newcastle

Now that is quite true, but it fails to mention that this is being achieved by halving the frequency to and from Gateshead Metro. And that’s what’s going to cause problems. A lot of people travel into Gateshead to shop, or to catch the Metro to numerous destinations. And, oddly enough, they like to go home again afterwards. Now there will be fewer buses to catch, and with the inevitable delays caused by buses travelling through the city centre, I can see long queues of annoyed people developing. This happens now, come to think of it, but it’s about to get a lot worse.

It seems that some thought has been given to this. The leaflet assures us that

Special arrangements are being made to regulate the service to ensure there are no gaps in service and all our buses are fitted with ‘Automatic Vehicle Location’ systems, so that their operation is reported to each of the stops with electronic displays.

OK, I understand the second bit. It means when you get to the bus stop, you’ll see a sign telling you how late your bus is going to be. But the first bit is mysterious. Will they find extra buses and drivers to fill in when the last three buses are stuck in a traffic jam on Grainger Street? Have they installed a secret teleport system to free buses from those traffic jams? Only time will tell.

Overall, I’m still singularly unimpressed with these changes. Apparently they had market researchers asking passengers how they’d like the service to be improved. My guess is that what people asked for was:

  • More frequent service to Newcastle
  • More stops in Newcastle
  • Lower fares

And it has to be admitted that they are doing that. But I’m pretty sure people didn’t ask for:

  • Less frequent service to Gateshead
  • Half as many buses from Gateshead

Another thing that I realised today. The 53 is the most convenient service for people going to Gateshead Leisure Centre. That won’t be the case any more. While people will be able to return from there on the 54, getting there from Gateshead Metro will be more difficult.

[1] In fact, it was!

Latest Lescam Image

I haven’t posted one of these for a while, but I quite liked this one. I’ve been letting my hair grow a bit. And I seem to have started forgetting to shave again.

Me again

Me again

Newcastle Sculptures and Buildings

Another day, another walk. I walked into Gateshead, passed over the Millennium Bridge and had a look at the quite surprising collection of sculptures along the Newcastle Quayside. There were a few I’d never noticed before, and others I’d only glanced at previously, so it was well worth the effort. Of course, I couldn’t pass the Sage without taking a few pictures – mostly of the pattern of reflections in the glass. And the Millennium Bridge just has to be photographed, doesn’t it?

I had a look at the bridges and passed the burnt-out and unstable Bonded Warehouse before having a proper look at the DNA Spiral Sculpture in Times Square, which is another one I’d barely noticed before. I’ve found that since I got the camera, I’ve been consciously looking for more things to photograph, and so seeing things that might have passed me by previously. Which has to be a Good Thing.

I strolled past Westgate House, which is slowly being taken down. It’s not possible to see what’s going on as yet, but more light is shining through the sheeting as the building is reduced.

Then I went to the Black Gate, which is near the City Keep. I took a picture of the front of it on my last Newcastle walk, so this time I wandered round the back, which I haven’t done in so long that I don’t remember when I last did it. If I ever did at all.

Next was a wander behind the Cathedral. I’d read about, and seen pictures of something rather unusual, and wanted to find it for myself. And I did. See the Vampire Bunny in the gallery! I think Wallace and Gromit should be told.

After that, I went to take some pictures of Newcastle City Library, including its quite unique door to nowhere, before it’s demolished and replaced with something else.

And finally, I went to the Haymarket area, which is also going to see some major changes. You can see the Lego Men, a River God and some swans in the gallery.

And for anyone interested in such things, this was the first time that I took all my pictures in RAW format rather than JPG. This did involve a little more work in Photoshop before I could upload the images, but I think the results are better.