First Spud Harvest

After many weeks of watering, watching and waiting, today I have my first proper crop of spuds. I did pull up a couple a week or so ago to check, and they were still quite small (but still tasted good).

Today’s crop is a bit more impressive, and I’m looking forward to having them for dinner 🙂

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Posted by on July 29, 2012 in Greenfingers


Day 9: Back to Reality

Well that didn’t quite go as planned. Rather than make a post a day, I ended up just taking loads of photos, walking miles across the beach and just enjoying a rare week of relaxation.

Never-the-less, I’m back now (sadly), and have to say, I haven’t had such a fantastic holiday since I was a child. It wouldn’t have been everyone’s cup of tea as it’s not like the average sea-side town that’s full of amusement arcades, glitzy lights and candyfloss stalls. If you’re looking for peace and quiet with beautiful landscapes, I cannot recommend it highly enough. (Although I suspect it may not be quite as peaceful this week, since the schools have just broken up!).

The two highlights of the holiday for me were being able to take early morning walks from our van through a pine forest to a deserted beach, and the boat trip to Blakeney Point to watch seals in their natural habitat.

I will definitely be going back next year. Anyway, below are a handful of pics taken throughout the week. As always, click a pic for the full sized version.

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Posted by on July 22, 2012 in Holiday


Day 2: Wells-Next-The-Sea

This morning we left our van at about 7am for a stroll along the coastal path down to the beach. We then followed the beach into Wells, allowing us to see the various fishing boats which had been beached due to the low tide.

After a quick lunch and a change of clothes back at the van, we headed back down to the beach. Despite warnings that today was bringing rain, the weather remained warm and dry, although it has started to cloud over now. We spent a happy hour paddling in the sea. I cannot believe that Britain has an area with such a beautiful beach and crystal clear waters, and yet it hasn’t been overtaken with the usual commercial tat that you find in the more popular areas.

Unfortunately, the rest of the week is forecasting rain, but never mind, cos we’re off to Hunstanton tomorrow to visit the Sealife Centre!

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Posted by on July 15, 2012 in Holiday


Day 1: Wells-Next-The-Sea

Today marks the start of another mini-series of posts that I’ll be making, based around my week long holiday at the Pinewoods holiday park near Wells-Next-The-Sea.

We arrived in Wells at about 2pm today, just as we received a text from the owner to say that our caravan was ready. We were expecting the van to be nice, based on the number of requests the owner had made not to eat in the living room, take shoes on the mat and so on! It exceeded our expectations though; the van was spotlessly clean (I even ran my fingers over the tops of cupboards!), comes with a number of nice extras (intruder alarm, ipod dock, 3 TV’s, DVD players, DVD’s, books and pretty much every kitchen utensil you could possibly need!), and is situated on the edge of the park in a lovely quiet area. We’ve heard virtual no noise from anyone on this side of the site.

After a quick snack, we set of for a stroll along the beach, which is about a 30 second walk from the park. The beach is massive, and is “proper” beach; nice fine sand with relatively clean sea water. The lack of any real litter is also a nice surprise.

Tomorrow morning, weather permitting, we’ll be up for an early morning stroll along the sea front, followed by a stroll into Wells for a look around. More info (and better photos!) to follow…

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Posted by on July 14, 2012 in Holiday


Olympic Torch Relay: Haverhill, Suffolk

Today the Olympic Torch passed through Haverhill in Suffolk.

Despite the fact that massive black clouds had gathered overhead, we dutifully headed out to join the masses lining the streets as the torch passed by, carried by Caroline McLean. I have to admit, there was a pretty good vibe going on, and we got some relatively good shots from our spot despite a lot of pushing and shoving as the convoy drew closer.

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Posted by on July 7, 2012 in Olympics, Photography


Moon Shot 28 June 2012

On Thursday this week we had quite a clear sky with the moon finally coming out of hiding, so out I went with my telescope to spend a couple of hours observing the night sky. Once again, I managed to get some fantastic views of both the moon as well as Saturn, floating a couple of inches above the moon (relatively speaking, of course).

After my last sighting of Saturn, I purchased a new 4mm eyepiece to see if I could get more detail. While it certainly made Saturn more visible, it became very difficult to keep steady at that magnification (made more difficult because Thursday night was pretty breezy!).

Unfortunately I didn’t take as many photos as I’d planned, and didn’t get any of Saturn (that’s now a personal goal – to get a good photo of Saturn). The one below is probably the best I got of the moon. More of the surface is visible in this photo compared with my previous one, with what I assume is a mountainous range towards the left of the visible area. Not sure what this area is called, or how large it is (but I will be finding out today).

As always, click the image to view the full sized version.

Update: According to Wikipedia, the mountains in the photo above are part of the Montes Caucasus, with the tallest of the peaks reaching 6 km.

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Posted by on June 30, 2012 in Astronomy, Photography


A Day In The Life Of Me.

5:30am. Woken up by a flock of wood pigeons that have decided it’d be fun to sit on my chimney making their pigeon sounds. It’s only at times like this that you can truly appreciate how mindnumbingly repetitive a pigeons call is. No variation, no tune, just the same two notes over and over again. It’s almost worse that the wind chimes my neighbours seem to love.

Time for a coffee and a shower before heading to work to pick up where I left off last week, fixing the backup server.

Arrived at work to find two more UPS batteries have died over the weekend. How hard is it to get a decent supply of power to the site? Note to self: those’ll need changing.
Get coffee.
Start work on the backup server, swapping out PERC6/E card and rebooting the tape drive. Oh good, the disk is full so backups from half the remaining servers have failed too.
Also start work repatching the HP VMWare and SAN kit to get that up & running while we wait for the support company to figure out why their NIC teaming config doesn’t work with our procurve switches.

Get a call from one of our users to say her VPN is down. Check the router, is down. Check the logs, nothing. Great. Reboot router to get it working. Note to self: that’ll need checking.
Pick up a helpdesk call someone had reported saying wifi Internet is down and his PACS client doesn’t work. Wifi problem was due to router, is sorted. Assign call back to IT for someone else to deal with his PACS issue.
Get the first of the days emails from a chap who I’ll call Mike (why Mike, I hear you ask. Because that’s his name and it’d be rude to call him something else) giving further info about a problem he was having with our old linux genetics server. Yeah, I already know what the problem is with that, he’s used up his disk quota (again). Extended it (again) and replied.
More emails from Mike. Carry on fixing backup server while vaguely pondering why this tape drive is so crap.

Power on new Linux VM for Mike to start testing.
More emails from Mike.
Email from random user asking me to put a shortcut to her program on her desktop. Oh well, needed to grab some CD’s from her colleague so go across and help her out (besides, she’d probably have to wait 3 days if she logged a call in the helpdesk).
Carry on troubleshooting backup server. Starting to dislike Backup Exec with a passion. For the love of god, the tape drive is NOT offline.

11:00 – 13:00
Still working on the backup server. Resisting the urge to rip tape drive out of rack and slam it against the wall repeatedly.
Email from one of my colleagues: When’s backup server gonna be fixed? Resist the urge to beat her with tape drive.
More emails from Mike asking about segmentation faults. Calmly reply. Ah, linux.
Email from Maintenance to advise that they’ll be working on site’s power supply tomorrow. Note to self: replace those UPS batteries ASAP.

Take 10 minutes to eat a sarnie and grab coffee.
Notice no-one has dealt with PACS call from earlier. Pick up call and fire off an email to the user asking the name of his PC.
Email from Mike containing a two page list of applications he wants installing on new linux server.
Email from HR asking if she can use my dictaphone. Fight the urge to reply telling her to use her finger like everyone else. Take her a spare dictaphone.
Place an order with our suppliers for more UPS batteries.
Start compiling apps for Linux server.
Good news, the backup server seems to be working (at least, the tape drive is now online and backup job *seems* to be running).
Power down servers attached to failed UPS’s and replace batteries.

IT manager wanders in for a random chat. Waste 30 minutes listening to him babble about the ESX server he runs at home.

15:30 – 17:30
Continue compiling apps for new linux server and start updating documentation.
More emails from Mike. Why doesn’t the latest version of BWA work on the new server? No idea. Note to self: figure that out later.
Email from user asking if her mailbox is working as she hasn’t received an email she was expecting. Check postfix logs for senders address – nothing. Reply to say it’s a problem at the senders end.
Grab coffee.

Email from PACS user demanding someone responds to his helpdesk call and fixes his problem A-S-A-P. Calmly reply telling him I emailed him at midday and was waiting for his reply.
Get a reply: he didn’t receive the email. Underlying tone of email suggests it’s somehow my fault he didn’t receive his email.
Check the Exchange dumpster. He did receive the email, then 20 minutes later he permanently deleted it. Resist the urge to get arsey. Suggest he reboots. Problem now solved.

17:30 – 18:30
Carry on compiling apps and configuring samba services. Linux is my calm place.

Time to go home, grab something to eat and catch up on personal emails.

Notice lawn is a bit long. Spend 20 minutes thinking about nothing whilst wandering backwards and forwards with mower, before getting irritated at the RAF (why DO they have to fly in the evenings. Practice during the day dammit).

Notice the backup job has completed. VPN in and clear space on server before starting failed jobs from the weekend running.
Grab a vodka & redbull, stick Spotify and settle down to finish writing proposal for new RDP over SSL system.

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Posted by on June 25, 2012 in Work