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An Eventful Week

Actually, Eventful month, more like it!

AlicanteThe Journey through SpainBetween trips to Dublin in the Republic of Ireland as a guest of ESBA (European Small Business Alliance) where I visited Google’s HQ down there and managed a trip around the Guinness factory, then onto Spain for a short “break” (Alicante, Murcia, Mojacar, Galera, Malaga) then back up to Edinburgh for a series of meetings, it’s been pretty much non-stop and throughout the whole thing I’ve had the flu – not exactly ideal timing.

Marriatt Hotel just outside of EdinburghAfter Edinburgh I came home to an all-morning Skype meeting to talk about Intranets while looking forward to enjoying a peaceful weekend, forgetting we had a boatload of prior arrangements. On Saturday we travelled to Whitley Bay to a dentist appointment (100 mile round trip) and there on to a rather nice Italian restaurant in North Shields.

I used to live in Tynemouth and spent a lot of time in North Shields, which was enough to put anyone off for life as back in the day it was, well, a dump, but like everything else, “things change” and North Shields Fish Quay is really quite pleasant now with a boatload of restaurants, cafes and takeaways for every taste.

Sign outside a store at the QuaysideWe had lunch – and when I say pizzas at £3.75 you might laugh but they were as good as pizzas  from some well-known Newcastle Italian restaurants at well over twice the price. Between four of us, we had wine, beer and coke, starters, garlic bread, main course and either coffee or deserts for £40 all in (that’s a tenner each). I can WELL recommend a trip to the Quayside and we’ll definitely be going back. Good food, good views and surprisingly little smell of fish!

QuaysideWhile at the quayside, we popped into an indoor market full of second-hand furniture and I spotted a LED floodlight for a tenner. I took a chance as it might not have worked – indeed the guy running the stall was off on holiday and so a lady from a nearby stall handled the deal, offering me the lamp for £8 – we didn’t even have to barter. When I got it home it worked a treat, so as soon as it’s not bag-bitingly cold that’s going up in my back garden to save me standing in cat-poo in the dark.Quayside

Did I mention, the weather on Saturday was CRACKING considering it is November in the Northeast of England – as you can see, clear blue skies (that image on the right was taken mid-afternoon and is not in any way enhanced).

From there we went on to the Tynemouth market which is in the train station down there on Saturdays and is quite a large affair, well worth checking out. By then my ears were freezing and the first thing I bought was a new furry hat.

There was a stand with some great looking pies and so the next purchase was a corned-beef pie for dinner (and beyond.. it was big). We visited the stall of a fellow who claimed to be manufacturing LED lighting (though he did mention getting stuff made in China and his lights did look remarkably like the ones you get off the shelf from China) and I’d planned to put his details in here to help promote local business. He had a new  company and his son had been in the business for some time, so he said. We listened intently then took his business cards.

QuaysideWe had a quite night in on Saturday evening once I’d retrofitted Maureen’s car with some new red LED strip foot-well lighting and we spent the rest of the night catching up on Fringe, Continuum and a couple of other EXCELLENT American TV shows – there are a ton of really good US productions right now on Sky and it’s down to finding time to keep up – only made possible because of the Sky HD box recording everything. That and a slice of corned-beef pie finished the evening off nicely.

Sunday morning I checked out the LED lighting market guy – sadly his own website, referred to twice in his literature, doesn’t actually exist despite careful checking – and as for his son, that company looks to be merely a subsidiary of a Hong-Kong company. I do like to “shop local” where possible but he was talking about 5w lamps at around £8 each. After that I think I’ll just stick with buying directly from China via EBay – a bit of a disappointment but not completely unexpected. In you’re keeping up to speed you’ll know that UK prices are still way over the top for these. Check out this link for a good price from a UK supplier. Yes, that’s for 10 !!! Not checked this supplier out yet but I’ve some 8w ordered for Hollyberry Cottage so I’ll let you know if they’re any good in a future item.

After catching up with the email mountain and some reporting, we returned the Asus Transformer to PC World – it simply would not charge – which is very inconvenient. After a trip to the skips to get rid of a very old printer we arrived at PC World – to their “Knowledge Centre”. I don’t know about you but the phrase suggests knowledge to me – but nothing has changed at PC World, the guy took one look at it and sent it off to Asus. They had no test leads, nothing they could us to make use of any of that “Knowledge” – so just more hype then.

To finish off the day we visited the MetroCentre in Gateshead to see the movie Skyfall. Absolutely the best Bond ever and I’ve seen them all several times. Cracking movie – don’t wait for video – go see it now while you can. Entertaining, funny, full of suspense. Judy Dench deserves a medal.

Today it’s back to the grind and I’m hoping this week to fit in some time to get back up to speed with my Internet Thermostat design which thanks to constantly moving around has been on the back-boiler for a while.

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