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So ends a fair weekend in wrath


So after two lovely days of long weekend, a day of thunder and rain. Sucks to be a vacationer, but I was glad of a day of snooze and indolence.

And so I give you Dungeness lighthouse in rain. Dungeness — AKA the Fifth Quarter — the whole of the sticky-outy bit of South Kent is for sale.

Most of it, anyway. Much to the consternation of those who love it. This includes us, though we are too far away to visit very often.

Still, not to worry. It bounds a nuclear power plant, a nature reserve and a lighthouse. It’s not going to see any development in my lifetime.

August 31, 2015 — 9:51 pm
Comments: 5

The tombstone whisperer


I spotted this pair of tombstones in a beautiful secluded churchyard at a flower festival over the weekend. This kind of skull-and-bones graveside iconography is very common in Puritan New England, but very uncommon indeed in an English boneyard.

I asked someone if they knew the story of the stones, and they directed me to — I’m ashamed to say, I didn’t catch or, anyway, don’t remember her name. She was in a tent selling books at the other end of the churchyard. She’s the local lady-who-knows-everything-about-the-stones.

As I walked up, she was complaining to another old dear that she was going to have to sell her motorcycle (a Honda 90) because ever since she turned eighty, the arthritis in her left leg prevented her propping up the bike at a stop. That’s such a shame, the other old lady said, you’ve been so mobile.

We fell to talking about the stones. Most of them are cut from granites and marbles and other stones that just melt away in the elements. Year on year, you can see the inscriptions fading.

She made a bit of kit — she described it as an old cider barrel, about 18″ across. It’s blackened inside, cut flush at one end and at a 45° at the other (I’m not entirely clear which end she looks down). She holds it against the stone in raking sunlight. She says it sometimes takes her hours of staring down the barrel, but sooner or later she’s able to decipher them all. At least, she hasn’t failed yet.

I was so engrossed, I forgot to ask about the two stones in the picture. Get this. This old dame bombs around the English countryside on a motorcycle visiting ancient country churches (oh my god, some of these places are so beautiful) to sit for hours staring at the stones. This is what she does.

I want to be this lady so bad.

Good weekend, all! This is our end-of-Summer long weekend, but I’m sure I’ll be around Monday as usual. Unless I buy that lady’s Honda and vanish down a country lane forever.

August 28, 2015 — 8:18 pm
Comments: 3

The fat lady, singing her heart out


That’s it. It’s over. Pack up the grill. Oh, there are one or two more flower festivals and fetes, but we mark the end of the Summer when the circus comes to Rye.

I’ve posted about the circus before.

In fact, I posted a picture of this lady last year (excuse shitty cellphone pic; we didn’t take any real cameras tonight). I was delighted to see her back again. I’m telling you folks, this fat gal can swing a hula hoop!

It was fun. Most important, it was back again one more time. It’ll be a sad summer, the first one that doesn’t end in the circus.

August 27, 2015 — 9:54 pm
Comments: 8

Terms and conditions may apply



Okay, I don’t know if this applies. I got this (^^^) in the mail this afternoon, but I can’t find a similar offer on their website. So maybe they’re just mining people who have been members and quit. I’m not sure how you take advantage if you’re not one of those people, though there doesn’t appear to be a special code or anything.

Have you done the ancestry.com lark? It’s the best of the for-pay genealogy sites. But it’s incredibly expensive, per month or per year — especially if you’re an American or some other flavor of colonial and you need access to international records. On the order of $30 a month or more.

This is cheeky of them, because your human brain sifting through their records transforms their raw data into something big and important and far more valuable. You are building their commodity for them.

But here’s the thing: they know that. So when you drop your membership, they don’t delete your data. All your family trees are still there and you can look at them all you like, you just can’t add to them while your membership is lapsed.

So you can join for a month, beaver away at it like a bastard, and then drop it before you get charged for another month.

Even better, you get two weeks free to start. I signed up over my birthday, when I knew I would have free time, and pecked away at it for fourteen days and then canceled. I got a lot done and it ain’t cost me squat. I shall probably take advantage of this free weekend, too. And why not?

August 26, 2015 — 9:20 pm
Comments: 12

Do you know what wet badger smells like…?

Not my video. No audio or surprises or jump scares or anything. Just some footage from a wildlife camera in Brighton shot late last night.

Yeah, it’s wet here right now. So very, very wet. (Badgers are usually fluffier).

Let me know if you have any problems with the video. This is my first MP4.

August 25, 2015 — 7:23 pm
Comments: 10

Lo Wang? Really?


I started this game tonight. Shadow Warrior.

Yeah, protagonist is Lo Wang. When I type “shadow warrior” into Google, the auto-complete I get is “wang jokes.” In the game, though, he’s more of a doughy chainsmoking Japanese who looks like he’d be happier playing Bingo. Or slots. What do they play in those huge casinos, anyway? Wait, do the Japanese do that, or just the Chinese?

I’m not far in, and already I have a wise-cracking demon sidekick, a bunch of smartass fortune cookies, and I’m pretty sure that’s Godzilla in the distance. Huh.

Honestly, I don’t know how anyone can be offended by the casual sexism of video games. It’s so hilariously stupid.

August 24, 2015 — 9:50 pm
Comments: 10

The most Zen place I have ever been


Celia Hammond was a supermodel in the Sixties. She modeled a lot of fur coats (among other things), until somebody took her to watch a baby seal clubbin’. Now she’s the supervillain mastermind behind C.H.A.T.

Um, the Celia Hammond Animal Trust. Mostly, they spay and rehome cats. Thousands and thousands of them. I get the impression she twists a lot of famous arms to fund this enterprise (she was Jeff Beck’s girlfriend for, like, thirty years).

Her main gig is trapping and neutering ferals in London (she trapped a lot of them with her own hands, using equipment she invented her own self, though I don’t know how much of that she does these days). But out in the country near us, she maintains a hundred acres of free-range pussoes. They had their second ever open day last Sunday, and we went.

Honestly, I think it’s the most peaceful place I’ve ever been. Inside the buildings are the ‘tame’ cats, suitable for rehoming, but the hopeless ferals are given a home for life, roaming free. Or coming inside, if they like. Or swanning around waving their wild tails and suiting their own damn selves.

There are about a hundred and fifty ferals in residence at the moment. The grounds are dotted with little hay-filled chalets and cabins, connected by ramps and stepped platforms, surrounded by woods and miles from the nearest busy road. Pictures here.

There were cats ev-er-y-where. They were all of them awfully friendly for unhomeable ferals, drifting around seeking treats and skritchies. It was terribly tranquil and hypnotic. I’m pretty sure that’s where I want to go when I die.

In the spirit of leaving something wholesome up for the weekend, there you go. Your weekend of Zen.

August 21, 2015 — 9:33 pm
Comments: 7

This is old


This came up in conversation today. Now that I’ve looked it up, I might as well share.

I can’t find a reference, but per my memory: the story goes that a guy made this and sent it to his girlfriend for her birthday (you’ll see a dedication to April). And then it went viral, back in the happy olden times before “go viral” was a thing people said.

If you’ve not seen it before, enjoy.

August 20, 2015 — 10:57 pm
Comments: 9

Hillary’s excellent explanation


I find this mesmerizing.

August 19, 2015 — 9:15 pm
Comments: 13

Last flight of the Vulcan


Well, not the last flight — there are several more on the calendar for 2015 — but this is the last in our range for the last operational year of the last airworthy Vulcan.

Or B.2 XH558, “The Spirit of Great Britain”, to give her proper name.

You want to talk airplane porn? Check out the picture (one of Uncle B’s). This was when she swooped overhead, turned her belly toward us and slowly opened the bomb bay. Hussy.

And we had a brief display of Red Arrows (there was a longer display on Sunday, but we couldn’t do both days) and a tribute to the Battle of Britain and acres of booths. Soldier of Fortune was there, and lots of people with the terribly mutilated antique guns that are legal for sale here.

The shop that impressed me most was full of rusty bits of junk from the Somme. Although they also had a whole bunch of rusty German helmets that had been found in a Danish lake in 2015, no explanation given.

The one that impressed me next most was the nice German couple selling real Nazi memorabilia. It’s illegal to sell that stuff in Germany, but I guess love finds a way.

I didn’t buy nothing. Not even a Nazi table setting.

August 18, 2015 — 10:16 pm
Comments: 13