Archive for June, 2013

Panoramic images of Barcelona

Sunday, June 30th, 2013

In years gone by we would have sent postcards home from a holiday with pictures of what we have seen – castles, beaches, pretty cottages etc etc etc. Nowadays we just take pictures with our phones and post the best to Facebook et al.

This post is a selection of panoramic views of places visited in Barcelona. Click on each one to enlarge. That’s all.

View from the waterfront.

barca10 view from waterside

Rooftop view at the Hotel Jazz

barca11 rooftop at the Jazz Hotel

Placa Reial just off La Rambla

barca12 plaza just off La Rambla

Park opposite Sagrada Familia

barca1 park opposite Sagrada Familia

Castello Montjuic

barca2 Montjuic Castle

View of port from Castello Montjuic

barca3 port

More Montaljuic view

barca4  Montaljuic

View from restaurant Xalet de Montjuic


View from top of Park Guell

top of parc guell

Another Parc Guell view

Parc Guell

Barcelona waterfront

To the glory of God

Sunday, June 30th, 2013


Sagrada Familia

Sunday, June 30th, 2013

sagrada familiaThere was a time when efforts to please gods involved human sacrifice and the building of large temples. Fortunately as humanity notionally grew more civilised this evolved to just building temples which were duly adorned with the creations of the finest artists and filled with the music of the best composers. There doesn’t seem to have ever been a shortage of cash available to fund such projects. Plenty of the faithful dutifully emptying their pockets on a Sunday and rich men buying their place in heaven.

Whatever you might think of the whole subject, religion has undeniably been the stimulus for some of our most enduring cultural output and most iconic of buildings. Religion has helped to shape the world in which we live.

For some considerable time now this has no longer been the case, at least from a cultural perspective. The best composers and artists freed from societal shackles are no longer limited to works of praise and have moved on. From the perspective of an outsider this means that the merits of contemporary religious cultural output are apparent only to those engulfed in those religions.

The one exception was the Sagrada Familia which I came across in Barcelona this week. This is a truly astonishing building designed by Spanish architectural genius Antoni Gaudi. It is almost disingenuous to call the Sagrada Familia contemporary because whilst the building is still under construction the design was started in 1883. In that respect it probably catches the tail end of the long era of great religious arts.

Notwithstanding that because it is still being built I feel justified in labelling it modern. Coming from Lincoln my benchmark is Lincoln Cathedral. Sagrada Familia is one of the few buildings that comes close to the magnificence of Lincoln Cathedral. Tops it even!

My daughter Hannah and I visited Barcelona last week and Sagrada Familia was on Trip Advisor as the number one tourist attraction in town. Being tourists we did the right thing. Initially we did the wrong thing. We just turned up. That doesn’t work. The queues to get in were two or three deep and stretched maybe a couple of hundred metres. There was no queue for the “internet advance purchase” entrance.

I considered switching on roaming and buying the tickets there and then. I figured that those queuing must be digitally ignorant or digitally impoverished. However the act of switching on roaming would have meant financial impoverishment so we cut our losses and elected to use the free WiFi of Hotel Jazz and come back in the morning.

The one thing that stuck in my mind was the strong high steel fencing all around the church to stop freeloaders sneaking in. We have to remember that this is a church. The idea that it has to have fencing around it to keep people out seemed very strange. I accept that they are still having to pay for the builders so I won’t dwell on the point.

The next morning we walked past hundreds of people to the front of the queue, flashed the booking reference on my phone and were in. Sorted.

Once inside you really do see why Sagrada Familia is the top attraction and has been labelled a World Heritage site by UNESCO. The building truly is awesome which I’m sure is part of the plan. It has also been designed to be fit for purpose with Biblical stories woven into its fabric and the layout pitched at the functional requirements of the church.

Aside from the grandeur what really stood out was the number of tourists ogling the place. You couldn’t move without getting in the way of someone’s photo opportunity. It was almost like a religious Disneyland. Guided tours thronged.

The nave was roped off so that people could go and sit and contemplate. This deference to spirituality was policed by a somewhat effeminate looking man in a red jacket who shoed people away for ducking under the tape to reach a seat and insisting they went around to the correct entrance at the back. He also quite rightly made me take my hat off.

It was easy to imagine the place on a Sunday, full of flock lead by gold bedecked incense swinging clerics. They were nowhere to be seen on our visit although we saw a couple of nuns doing the tourist thing.

The Sagrada Familia though, has hidden depths and behind the altar was a small window that let you look down into what was presumably the crypt. Here we caught a glimpse of where the hard core praying was done. Rows of wooden benches populated with people sat in front of a priest. We couldn’t hear what was going on but it was clearly a church service.

It was almost as if the church within a church was where the real action took place with the outer shell being the cash generative façade. Presumably those in the inner sanctum had not had to pay the 14.80E entrance fee to the basilica (19.30E with tour of the towers). Maybe they had an annual pass or their own separate, heavily guarded entrance.

Moseying on, looking perhaps for a coffee shop, we found a vending machine. They missed a trick there. Perhaps they didn’t have the space. Eventually we came across the souvenir shop. I bought a book and a fridge magnet and we went on our way.

Sagrada Familia is worth a visit but buy your tickets in advance and beat the queues.

Data, power!

Thursday, June 27th, 2013

XClung on because I couldn’t let go,
Hung on because I could;
I daren’t delete, and nor dare you!
A disk for me, a hall, or two.

Our future but a hoarders’ folly,
Brought together without remorse;
Fragments here, remnants there,
Archived underneath the stair.

Trawled, collected, trapped and tapped,
Idle hunters gather prey;
Enough to feast for many years,
We are Big Data pioneers!

Made sense to all but everyone,
As truth defied the human state;
The logic held: it told a lie,
Made flawed men rich and rich men die.

Bootless bits can’t walk too far,
Can’t talk without a translator;
Latent bytes a spies best friend,
Revealed what, exactly, in the end?

Absorbing as confusion is,
Drawn together made no sense;
We sought to seek and built to scour,
In vain to harness data power.

Christopher Columbus shows the way

Thursday, June 27th, 2013


mercat st josep la boqueria

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

wonderful colours in this market on la rambla.












Barcelona dusk

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013


More oasis in the Arabian desert than western city but the culture is there, along with the hordes of tourists.
The lifestyle takes getting used to. Dinner late into the evening, forced inactivity under the afternoon sun, leisurely breakfast at your pleasure. The book gets read.

3rd Law Part 46 – the perpetual day of tinternet

Monday, June 24th, 2013

One of the features of the 3rd Law and its perceived ability to manipulate time is the perpetual day. You don’t notice the change between day and night and to all intents and purposes there is no night. This does assume that you have the stamina to last that long and that in the process of continuously getting up to go and make hot drinks so that they can go cold you don’t look out of the window, or at least don’t notice what is outside the window which is perfectly feasible.

There is also a counter argument that what we are talking about is the perpetual night. Some people think that this is a reflection of an individual’s personality – the glass half full/half empty debate. I’m not so sure. Who is to say that a creature of the night isn’t just someone currently working a night shift though if I was that person’s employer I’d want to know why they spent most of their shift surfing tinternet. If I was on night shift I’d want to spend the whole time surfing. It would make the time go more quickly. That is what the 3rd Law is all about.

It is easy to imagine people wanting to join a 3rd Law club. Somewhere for like minded people to meet up and ignore each other by staring into their screens. This club might as well be internet based. Makes sense. People would communicate via IM and leaving comments in each others’ Facebook or Twitter streams. It happens already. We just didn’t know it was because of the 3rd Law.

There is a dark side of the 3rd Law and that is addiction. It isn’t something most people like to talk about. This is partly because the addicts are hooked to their screens and don’t talk but also because they are in denial. This addiction is of the worse kind. It can be totally invisible, except to those closest to you who notice the gradual degradation in your ability to communicate, other than via social networking platforms.

For families blighted by 3rd Law addiction the yellow post it note is a thing of the past. Their only way of getting a message across to the addict is through the computer. Sticking a post it note on the screen of the computer is to be avoided as it can provoke violence. The only real answer is to call in the professionals and you know what? This form of addiction is so new that there are no professionals. The medical fraternity is still coming to terms with the problem.

3rd Law addiction is so new that it is possible to attract government grants if you say that you are studying it. There have been few takers of the grant because not only do families not want to come to terms with the fact that one or more of them is an addict but also, being a government grant, the number of forms that have to be filled in require a week off work to get it right because the slightest mistake results in the rejection of the grant by a civil servant who is incentivised to save the government money. Job creation schemes gone mad I say.

This isn’t entirely fair on the civil servant because 3rd Law addicts themselves have been known to apply for the grant and spend the money on expensive jars of coffee. Remember this is coffee that gets made but never completely drunk. It makes sense to stop wasteful public spending like this.

Coffee manufacturers (growers?/both?) love the 3rd Law. Profits have shot up since the advent of tinternet and this is despite the fact that the environment that fertile ground for the 3rd Law is the same environment that facilitates online shopping and finding the best deal for coffee. Despite this the price of coffee seems to remain high. No accusations of cartel have yet been made…

It is quite possible that there is no internet near to the slopes of Brazil, Colombia and Kenya where coffee is known to be grown. I could look it up but I wont. I quite like the smell of coffee but the taste rarely lives up to the promise. Especially when it has gone cold which it frequently does, obv.

As I write this I have just realised that I made a pot of tea about half an hour ago. Bloody 3rd Law! Stewed tea is something I have had to get used to since my head started getting into the 3rd Law. It’s just as prevalent as cold tea but worse in a way. You have to put up with cold stewed tea instead of just cold tea. Huh.

3rd Law Part 45 here

3rd Law Part 47 here


Sunday, June 23rd, 2013

scroll down
flower1 flower2 flower3 flower4 flower5 flower6 flower7 flower8 flower9

disgusting drain

Sunday, June 23rd, 2013

disgusting drain unblocking by hand job took several washes to feel clean afterwards should have used rubber gloves but I didn’t the folly of youth but at least the drain now drains somehow there was a stone down there together with a lot of silt which is understandable though no leaves


That feeling of disgust as the slime and fat of many loads of the dishwasher envelops your hand as you scrape around in the drain, sleeve rolled up.

3rd Law 45 – internet dark matter

Sunday, June 23rd, 2013

I had a dream. Normally I don’t remember dreams. This one must have been on the edge of wakedness, if that’s a word. It is now. So I remember some aspects of this dream.

I was living somewhere on the coast when some massive disaster threatened the community. I think it was the threat of invasion from somewhere. The leaders of the community decided to evacuate to the beach where for some reason it would be safer. We all trooped into a jumbo jet (might have been another bit type of plane – it didn’t feature in the details of the dream) that had crash landed on the cliff edge above the beach and slid down the emergency chute onto the beach.

The beach was a hive of organisation with people handing out emergency rations and directing us towards shelters that were being built out of sheet materials that had miraculously appeared from nowhere. After a while I noticed that the shelters were being built below the line for low tide. This advice was contemptuously ignored so I took the family back to our house.

At some point a deputation of invaders arrived to look around. The only people left were us. We had in the meantime either managed to fortify our house with an unbeatable array of defences and weapons or we went out to greet the invaders and had a friendly chat with them – what had all the fuss been about? I don’t think I fully finished off the story in the dream but that was the gist of it.

Whaddaya think? Do any other readers have a strange dream they can remember. Don’t worry. I’m not about to set off on some line of psychoanalysis here, though I might if the dream is juicy enough. My dream wasn’t the Martin Luther King visionary type of dream though without getting a shrink in to look at it I can’t 100% guarantee that.

We might get invaded by aliens and have to hide on the beach because for some strange genetic reason stemming from the planet of their birth their vision is restricted to above cliff level. The planet of the cliff level visionaries. Had someone invented the varifocal lens on their planet that could have sorted their eyesight problems and allowed them to see below the line. Of course that would have meant we beach dwellers would have been toast. What a bit of luck!

The one thing that amazes me about the whole story is that a planet of aliens intelligent enough to invent intergalactic travel couldn’t invent a simple varifocal lens. I’m not sure what these aliens looked like but I do have this strong gut feeling that they were from a different galaxy. Otherwise I wouldn’t have mentioned it.

It’s important to get these things right. Some sort of journalistic integrity applied to the 3rd Law. It’s funny that a physical law of tinternet should be able to engender integrity as part of its sphere of influence. I keep finding new facets to the 3rd Law don’t I? If you’ve just joined the conversation at this point then you might not know what I’m talking about. In fact I might not know what I’m talking about most of the time but that, dear reader, is just, one, of, those, things. Commas inserted there to create a pause between words though the sentence didn’t really need it. That emphasis was unnecessary. Dear reader.

I must stop calling you dear reader. I’m sure you would prefer me to use your first name. Ok Leonard it is then. For now. Until I feel like calling you something different. After all it would be namist to stick with one reader’s name and I don’t even know if Len is reading. Notice I slipped in the abbreviation there. I don’t know if he is a Len or a Leonard. It matters to some people. Lesley, Les etc. Doesn’t matter to me.

I might have upset Len here but it’s one of the risks you take when you live life on the edge, when life is governed by 3rd Law rules. Life is short. Get over it. Len. Les. Des. Dave. Phil. Go out and cut the grass if it bothers you. The 3rd Law isn’t available as a podcast. Yet. Good idea though. Might put it to the publisher sometime. Sometime in the far distant future in another galaxy where time stands still long enough for me to do so. Time standing still is the polar opposite to the 3rd Law. It’s the dark matter of the internet. We are pretty sure it exists but nobody has been able to find it yet. Internet dark matter could be the source of lots of problems: page not found, emails not arriving, twitter fail whale. Yea yea I’m sure there’s a good reason but the unenlightened medieval believer in alchemy, superstition and the power of prayer in me tells me that there are dark forces at play here.

It’s always obvious with hindsight isn’t it? It takes someone to make that initial discovery, the eureka moment, to make it thus. I like that work eureka. Wasn’t sure whether it should have been capitalised. Eureka. Presumably it is Greek seeing as it is attributed to Archimedes though how that bit of the story got kept over the centuries of its telling I don’t know. Maybe the first thing Archimedes did after running naked from his bath and down the street shouting eureka was to realise his predicament, run home to grab a towel to cover his embarrassment and site down to pen his exact thoughts. After all it was one of those momentous moments in history. One you would want faithful capturing (of!?). You have to get these things right and I know for a fact that ole Archimedes would not have had a smart phone to immediately record his findings before he forgot.

It would have been a bit awkward having someone recording him running down the street in the nude anyway. The nude bits here are what I recall reading about the event in my youth and may not be totally accurate. However seeing as there was a bath involved there may be some truth in it.

I quite often whip out my phone to record a moment, lest I forget.

3rd Law Part 44 here

3rd Law Part 46 here


Friday, June 21st, 2013


“Knowledge,” said the slightly drunken grey-bearded man, “is the pursuit of anger.”

“Anger?” I challenged.

“Anger.” He confirmed.

A pause.

A sip.

He contemplated.

“You can’t be angry ’bout stuff you don’t know. Kids these days, they’re only angry ‘cos they know… Or think they know.

“Take that whistle-blower guy…”

“Edward Snowden?”

“No, that other one.”

“Bradley Manning?”

“Not him… The one in the embassy; let him rot, he’s made a generation miserable…

“Kids getting angry at the government when they should be out living… Never concerned me what no government did… Didn’t ask questions, just kept us heads down and was grateful for what we got.”

The Ceiling at Temple Church.

Monday, June 17th, 2013

I went to London recently, as a tourist, and visited Temple Church.

I loved the ceiling in the nave so I made this image.

3rd Law Part 44 – the typewriter and the pile of cigarette stubs – yeugh

Sunday, June 16th, 2013

The toast pops up and I spring into action. Not quite the same as the whistle going and me climbing over the parapet to go into the line. Actually nothing like it at all so the analogy isn’t a particularly good one. The toast has been buttered and consumed in rapid order. We are off out for a Saturday night in Newark to watch a popular music concert. Madness you say, knowing what home loving types we are. Yes indeed Madness I say. Night Boat to Cairo, Baggy Trousers, Embarrassment etcetera etcetera etcetera.

I do like Madness though when I last saw them which must have been five years ago in Brum I remember saying to one of my pals “the didn’t do Come on Eileen. It’s one of my faves”. Course turns out Eileen was not a Madness song it was Dexys Midnight Runners. It’s a mistake anyone could have made. I made it. Haha. Hah. Wouldjabelieveit!

Next day and it’s my day, apparently. Father’s day. Not my birthday. I got a card from my daughter in Durham. Very nice. She sent it a month ago. Nothing like making sure it gets there in time. How often do you wake up realising it’s your little nephew Johnny’s birthday tomorrow and have to rush out and buy him a last minute card and hope it gets there in time.

Doesn’t happen in our house. Anne is super organised like that. If it was left to me it would happen every time. Years and years ago I bought a job lot of Happy Birthday Father cards from a closing down sale at a stationers shop. There were seven identical cards with the same picture of a red car on the front. My dad got the same card seven years running. Not sure if he ever noticedJ It amused me.

I do the writing of cards in our house. Something a bit more than “hope you have a great day, love xxx”. I can’t be more specific than that because every message is different. Tailored towards its recipient. The biggest problem I have with writing messages in cards is my handwriting. My handwriting is terrible and has grown steadily worse since computers arrived on the scene which is quite a long time ago now.

Word processors have killed off the art of handwriting. It occurs to me that there could be a typed equivalent of your handwriting becoming more of a scrawl as you get older and that is the number of typing errors you make increases. Doesn’t mean to say these errors are visible to the reader thanks to the power of the spellchecker. Means it takes longer to type though. I type pretty fast but sometimes find myself going over stuff and correcting it which is the bit that takes the time really.

Still I prefer typing to handwriting. My hand always used to get tired as I recall. Now I just get RSI! I went through a phase of having to use the mouse with my left hand because my right wrist got sore doing it. Seemed to have phased that one out and am back on the right hand now though half the time I use the pad on the laptop instead of the mouse.

Must have been a real pain in the old days when people used typewriters. The old fashioned ones with the levers that swing over and bashed the paper when you tapped a key. I can picture them now. A lone author hunched over his desk tapping away long into the night. A pile of scrunched up paper overflowing from the waste paper basket at the side of his desk. Several coffee cups on the table, all with some cold dregs in them.

I could add an ashtray into the scene. It would be authentic. The thought of the smell makes me feel sick though so I won’t. Especially as the pile of cigarette stubs grows.  You won’t find no pile of cigarette stubs in an ashtray in this house nosiree. Don’t even think we have an ashtray. Anyone daft enough to want to smoke has to go out into the garden.

The other thing that isn’t used a lot in this house is the sugar. Sure we use icing sugar and castor sugar in baking but the granulated stuff that goes in tea and coffee doesn’t get used. In the past whenever we’ve had some building work doing it’s been interesting to see how quickly the sugar goes down compared to normal. When I was a kid I’d have a couple of sugars in a milky coffee but at some stage of the game I weaned myself off it. Did it gradually by cutting down the amount I was using and eventually it went completely. Now the idea of sugar in tea or coffee makes me shudder a little although I have been known to stick a little in a latte if the coffee has been on the bitter side. Cue advert with woman smarting at bitterness of her coffee when a bloke arrives shaking coffee beans in one hand and holding a jar of Nescafe in the other. Might have been some other brand of cawfee but the concept is there.

On the subject of adverts I remember the time when I was a kid there was a strike on tv. Not sure if it was a ban on adverts or what but I do remember that when normal service was resumed I seemed to think that the adverts were more entertaining than the programmes they cut into. Probably have bigger budgets. Nowadays adverts are a pain in the arse. Not that I’m a big TV watcher but there are one or two compelling shows like Timewatch (yawn say the kids) and Storage Hunters (yippee say the kids).

I’m in to things like Timewatch even though there can be long stretches where very little happens and even when something does happen it’s usually just someone finding a tiny fragment of a bowl at which point a team of experts hurriedly gathers around to pronounce it early twelfth century or late 11th but not the circa 800AD that they had been looking for.

Storage Hunters is so bad it’s compelling. Yesterday I switched the box on in the middle of the day to see if there was any sport and found to my huge joy that SH was on. Imagine my disappointment when I found that I’d already seen it 🙂

3rd Law Part 43 here

3rd Law Part 45 here

Safety first

Sunday, June 16th, 2013

Was having a father’s day breakfast with an offspring in the restaurant of a shop downtown when I noticed a young couple arrive at a table with their baby. He was clean cut wearing shorts, tshirt and some sort of culotte type show with no socks. He brought over a high chair to put the kid in but first proceeded to open a packet of wipes and thoroughly wipe down the whole chair. He went through several wipes to do this. Not my kind of guy I thought.

When he was satisfied he went off to dispose of the dirty wipes and she lifted the baby into the high chair. The kid instantly made a grab at the cup of coffee on the table in front of him. I assume it was a him. I think he was dressed in blue. She reacted, took the cup off him and moved the tray out of reach.

When the bloke came back I could see her relate the tale, pointing at the cup and fanning her hand in front of her brow.

Interesting innit? In one sense we’ve all been there but it seemed to contrast beautifully with the excessive hygiene consciousness. A Howard Hughes of the future?