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Archive for the ‘holidays’ Category

Sunny Cornwall

Cornwall

tmpAFFAI created the above imagery at the start of our trip to Cornwall, hoping that really, the umbrella would not be needed. Sadly it was.

Not so much rain but it was foggy throughout the ENTIRE trip. Click on any of the images in here for a larger version.

British MuseumWe started our journey from home, travelling down the A1M etc all the way down to London where we parked up at Heathrow where we were meeting Maureen’s brother. We spent a couple of days walking around the usual tourist traps as you do.

Maureen always likes to go see the mummies and so we started our tour at the British Museum – always pleasant.

We took Andy on the underground from place to place on Friday and Saturday and then he went off to the states and we started our car drive down to Cornwall – and that was the last we saw of the sun.

tmp623BI have to say, there were some great things down there, the Eden Project is worth spending several hours examining – it is MASSIVE and very impressive – but overall I can’t say as I was too impressed by Cornwall, most likely due to the weather.

Once in Cornwall, staying at a pleasant little cottage, we met our friends and neighbours from Spain and drove around – Monday night we were horrified to find that nearly everything was closed and ended up in a particularly greasy-spoon Chinese cafe as it was the only thing other than a pub that we could find open – very disappointing.

Route 38Not untypical of our experience we popped into the “Route 38” restaurant for breakfast. Looking as it does (see photo) we expected an American style breakfast.

Well, we didn’t get it – the place looked the part inside and the menu looked very American – but no corned beef, the bacon was that Aldi-style stuff that refuses to cook properly, the Maple syrup wasn’t or at least didn’t taste like the real thing – and on and on. Of course the “Route 38” actually referred to the A38 but there was no mistaking they were trying to give the impression of an American diner. We won’t be back there again.

Eden ProjectWe took our friends to the Eden Project, a very worthwhile experience and quite a walk – and after that we parted as they had to get back to work.

We had 2 days left and decided that as the weather was so atrocious we’d spend a day around Cornwall and then head up north, not far off Manchester for our last night. Overall a pleasant break but one I think might have been better placed in maybe July or August.

 

Portsmouth

Down at the South Coast

Eden Project

The Benefits of a Mobile Access Point

It could be argued that with modern Android phones offering to act as WIFI access points, there is no longer a need for the likes of the THREE WIFI pocket Access points, the successor to “WIFI dongles”.

three access pointMine has been sitting in my case doing nothing for the better part of a year and it is only by chance that I’ve never handed it back. I use my phone as an access point and that generally works well for my laptop and tablet.

But this week, all of that changed. We’re having a week off for the school holidays and my wife Maureen and I are in Cornwall, staying in a little cottage.  When we got here, the promised WIFI never padded out.

The building was split in two with the owners in one half and us in the other. The access point was in their half and the walls were just too much for the connection – in addition they have a limited connection and asked that we take it easy – that is just NOT what either of us do as we have so many gadgets that need WIFI for updates, browsing, email, watching video etc.

In addition we had friends with us both of whom spend much of their spare time on the web – such is the modern world. 

To make things worse, I’d just installed some cloud software on the phone which wanted to back up all 8,000 photos from the phone to the cloud – not to mention the usual numerous updates of Apps and laptop programs and operating system.

A part-time next-door WIFI was just not going to do it.

My first line of attack was to use my phone as an access point – after all it has 4G and I have an unlimited use contract with 3. Well, that option vanished as I realised I had almost no signal.

It was at this point I realised I still had the dongle-type unit in my bag, a black THREE-based unit able to share a 3G connection with several devices/ people at once. I switched it on and… nothing – months of lying around and the battery was utterly flat – but within 10 minutes of charging it had enough power to run and I was delighted to find FULL SIGNAL.

Unlike phones these gadgets are designed for no other purpose than to take in a 3G signal and re-broadcast as WIFI… and they do it very well, In addition I could stick it in a window for best signal. The unit gave access throughput the tiny cottage without any problems for the week, left charging 24-7 and requiring a reboot only once in the process (most likely due to too many gadgets trying to access it).

If I don’t use this again for a while, the unit has well and truly earned it’s keep. The weather down here has been and continues to be ATTROCIOUS and so we’ve spent slightly more time indoors than we expected. The continuous, high speed, reliable connection has been more than welcome.

Packing

java wineI don’t remember such a frantic week. From Wark I went off to Blackpool, then to Birmingham and then to Manchester, in the process taking something like 120 photos of staff, solving technical issues, chairing a talk on social media, seeing the results of a pretty awful accident and enjoying (sometimes not enjoying) the best weather in living memory in the UK.

BellinghamBellingham was wonderful over last weekend and Maureen and I spent some time there working on the cottage. It’s fully occupied now so that’s our work done for now.

Throughout my travels this week, seeing the car thermometer top out at 30c or more has been the norm – amazing and we’re not even talking the bottom end of the country. 

It’s not going to last of course, it never does and Hexham is due for rain most of next week albeit with temperatures in the lower 20s hitting 25c in the rain on Wednesday… can’t imagine that being much fun.Weather in Hexham

The week began in Blackpool with a meeting about hard disks – all pretty boring but essential stuff Accident on the M6and a reminder that disks don’t last forever. The day ended with David Miles and I enjoying sitting outside of JAVA restaurant in Lytham enjoying the weather and a glass or who of wine followed the next morning by a fellow giving us a talk on social media and SEO – very enlightening – and confirming the idea that it is no longer ok to think of the web and social media as distinct..

The Midland Hotel, ManchesterThat afternoon I headed off down the M6 only to be greeted by a large amount of smoke and a several mile tailback. Turns out someone’s car had either exploded or something like it judging by the state of the front of the car.

That evening after much driving back and forth, I ended up in the Midlands Hotel in Manchester – a fabulous and very large hotel apparently favoured by politicians. After enjoying The Manchester Centrea quiet night out in the Chinese quarter of Manchester, I spent much of Friday in a meeting at the “Manchester Central” venue where the FSB will next year have it’s annual conference.

Got home last night to check out the new circuit boards for my holiday project only to find that one of the chips is not something I have handy and not that easily available – not at short notice anyway and it doesn’t get any shorter than this being Saturday and we’re leaving on Monday.

The Manchester Centre

So nice weather for the week, a pretty mixed bag otherwise.

For now, if you want to keep up with our hols – head on over to www.bedrock.es

A morning at the lake

Maureen and I spend the morning at "Embalse Del Negratin" this morning, enjoying the sun in preparation for a trip to rainy blighty…. got our list of things to do including getting a spare key for the Spanish car, fixing the Skype phone (who’s battery has inexplicably gone dead) and checking out Ikea to see if they have the excellent automatic stair lights in the UK that we just bought here… that and a thousand meetings… more over at the Bedrock site

Maureen enjoying the sun at the lakeside cafe

A Real Break?

For the first time in what I reckon must be 14 years I’ve turned off work email so I can have a proper break! I say 14 years because surely there was no proper Windows email much before Windows 98?

Hard to imagine that the SMTP protocol we use today didn’t appear until around 1982. I recall running a “bulletin board” to send other people’s emails back and forth using something called a “midnight line” which was basically BT ripping everyone off. Only one person at a time could use the BBS as they had to dial into my system using a modem then every night someone would ring into my BBS, collect up and deposit mail for everyone and they would then use this BT concession to send mail down to London and even overseas.

I’m thinking however I probably didn’t start using email seriously for business until the mid-90s.  I do still have somewhere an Outlook file for 1999 on CD. It suddenly occurred to me that I’ve never stopped reading this stuff since then!

It’s going to feel strange! I’m on the plane early this afternoon to Spain to catch the very last of the sun over the there. The weather looks like clear blue skies for at least a week, but temperatures are unlikely to get over 20C, a far cry from the summer when we hit peaks of 40C… but nice painting weather!

Holiday Rental in Bellingham

Holiday Rental in Bellingham - Hollyberry CottageAfter MANY months of hard graft, our new holiday rental in Bellingham – Hollyberry Cottage – will be open for business from the beginning of October. Apologies to friends who might already know this but getting hooks into Google on a new site is MUCH harder than with existing sites- so I figured I’d give us a head start here.

Hollyberry has been a labour of love and we’re all ready to go, with private car parking, WIFI, UK phone calls and a whole range of facilities all included. For more information go to the Hollyberry Cottage website.