Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Dazend

It's all a bit of a blur really. Gorse Fox set out before dawn to get to Reading, parking his car in B'stoke and doing the last few miles by train. The morning was filled with meetings, lunchtime was spent interviewing, and the afternoon filled with more meetings that required the Gorse Fox to present various aspects of the current projects. Finally it was a train back to collect the car, and then a drive across country to Worcester... where he met up with the Abbot and the Don for dinner.

Oblivion beckons.

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Monday, October 30, 2006

The Cretins of Whitehall

The Gorse Fox needs to assemble his thoughts regarding the further destruction of working people by the cretins in power. He hasn't got the energy (beacuse he would be taxed on it) to lay it all out, just now. However, a few bonuses that this government is planning deserve to create civil unrest:
  • Right of entry to your home for re-evaluation of its tax liability (this could quadruple your Council Tax) - and they though the Poll Tax was wrong !!!
  • Raising further taxes if you live somewhere nice, based on
    • Low crime rate
    • Good schools
    • Clean streets
    • Well-educated neighbours
    • Newspapers read, and a total of 287 variables
  • Raising further taxes on your vehicle if it doesn't meet David Milliband's criteria - that'll go down really well the farmers that he is meant to look after through his department
  • Escalating fuel tax, even if fuel prices drop
  • Charging you to use the roads (which you have already paid for)
  • Taxing on lighbulbs
  • Taxing your holidays (unless you walk)
  • Killing you by closing your hospitals, if you didn't vote labour
  • Taxing your rubbish (the collection of which you are already paying for)
  • Stealing £5-7Bn per annum from your private pension
Gorse Fox thinks it is high time the silent middle classes got a bit more vocal. He thinks it is about time the people thought about the cost of this government, and whether it really should be allowed to complete its term in office.

Downtime

GF has a little down-time this evening before setting out on his travels again in the morning.

He's had a nice long chat with Cousteau-cub, who was telling him about the hen-night. His lips are sealed.

Mixmaster Fox

Ah ha! The email route to blogging seems to work quickly and without a hitch.

Yesterday, Urban-cub and Sir Lancinglot came round to finalise some more of the wedding details... and specifically to prepare the music for both the ceremony and for the wedding breakfast. GF spent most of the afternoon working through his music collection helping them select the tracks, and sequence them sensibly... then cut the CDs that will provide the background.

Tracks that were de-selected include:
  • Bitches Crystal (for the exchange of rings)
  • Bat Out of Hell
  • Get Off My Back, Woman
  • Deserted Cities of the Heart
  • I Love You, I'll Kill You
  • Dazed and Confused

Blog bugs


It appears that Blogger, the service run by Google to host blogs, is having troubles. Blog entries can be created but not finding their way to the Blog. There is much comment on this on the Blogger Help Group. Gorse Fox has been lucky and his postings have made it, but many other have been less lucky. The real issue is the lack of spontaneity that this creates... as each post, however trivial, has to be driven into the blog as opposed to just letting it happen.

This is an attempt to post by email to see if that might be an adequate circumvention (for now).

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Vive La France

Gorse Fox sees, in today's Times that there appears to be a sea-change in attitude towards the French ruling class.

"Ségolène Royal, 53, the most likely Socialist rival to Sarkozy and the first French woman to have a real chance of becoming president, has displayed her populist credentials by announcing that she will challenge the perks of MPs. To howls of outrage from the political caste, she called last week for “citizens’ juries” to assess the performance of elected officials."

This seems to be the exact opposite of whet we have in England. Here, MPs continue to feather their nests whilst appraising what the citizen has that could be taken away, taxed, or prevented.

What would be nice in England is Payment by Results for MPs, assessed by their own constituents, with score cards on their performance, published regularly in the media.

But all is not perfect:

“Unlike Britain, there is no counter-weight to challenge the excesses of our elite. Even the press is part of the same ruling family.”

Which is all very fine, but our current government is trying (this very week) to eliminate that counter-weight, as James explains in his letter to a random Lord.


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Saturday, October 28, 2006

Sister-hens

Cousteau-cub and Urban-cub looked good in their finery. Apparently, the masks drew interest and comment wherever they went.

The Silver Vixen explained that a constatnt stream of hopeful suitors tried to join in the fun before being rejected and ultimately ejected. Posted by Picasa

Feathers and disguises

The Silver Vixen was dressed in her finery. Masks were de rigueur.

The Gorse Fox decided a photo would be necessary so that he could recognise the Silver Vixen when he returned to collect her at the end of the evening.

Swinging by Porpoise Place, Urban-cub and her court were loaded into the car and GF deposited them in a shocked and surprised Brighton. People queueing for the bus looked on in amazement. As GF got back in the car, one caught his eye. He shook his head, and smiled. Posted by Picasa

Hen's belles

Today is an auspicious day, but one that Brighton may well regret. Today is Urban-cub's hen night. The Silver Vixen is joining in the fun and everything kicks-off at six this evening. The Gorse Fox is staying well clear (as you would expect, as foxes and hens do not traditionally socialise) and merely acting as the taxi driver to get them all to the start line, and to collect the Silver Vixen when things start to get too lively!
If any pictures or gossip escape, the Gorse Fox, in the fearless tradition of the 4th estate, will publish and be damned.


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Blog Anniversary

Today is the 2nd anniversary of this blog.

Diagramming

Gorse Fox has woken up with a conundrum.

He has a complex problem to illustrate for next week and wishes to draw a diagram that contains a degree of animation. Some of this is simple (revealing new parts of the diagram only when required) but some is more complex. Into this latter category comes the concept of pulsing connectors (lines that somehow indicate flow) and can be switched on and off (mouse click?)... and small objects that can track across the diagram to illustrate items being retrieved from store and moved to where they are wanted.

Does anyone know of anything that could be used with Powerpoint, Opendraw, Visio, or even a webpage? The other criterion is that it should be free!

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Friday, October 27, 2006

Settle down

A day in the Gorse Fox's home office was a bit like being the only person in a call centre without laryngitus. GF was on the phone almost non-stop from 9:20 through to 18:30... the only breaks were dictated by capacity issues.

Very little impact has been made on the vast backlog of emails, and there are still a couple of documents to read before Monday.

Meanwhile GF notices a story from Bulgaria:

23 girls brawl over handsome boy

Police were called in Bulgaria after a mass fight broke out between 23 teenage girls over a handsome male student.

The girls, aged between 15 and 18, used brass knuckles, chains and beer bottles to fight over the lad whose name was not revealed.

The girls, from the Bulgarian capital Sofia, agreed to fight it out and skipped school to meet up in a local playground in the Gorublyane district of the city.

Several girls suffered minor injuries and dozens of passers-by reportedly witnessed the incident.

But the alarm wasn't raised until after the fight when a father of one of the injured girls called the police.

So much like his own fantasy college days.

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Thursday, October 26, 2006

Gravitational pull

It became clear, in Reading today, that Boston exerts an obvious gravitational pull. As the day wore on, the plates of biscuits all started to cluster round his laptop.

Later, as the cake was brought in his eyes lit up... and he debated leaving his laptop behind so that he could take the cake & biscuits home in his laptop case. He disappeared briefly, but we assumed he had gone to get the car to load it up! Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Reading again

Busy day in Reading with the last of our putative suppliers. They were very good to start with, but GF must admit that (like most) they faded as the day went on. Good catering kept Boston amused, so the scoring will probably go well.


One more day to go, then back to normality.



Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Gorse Fox is home from Belfast. It was a good trip. Good product, nice people.


Last night Gorse Fox went out to dinner with the esteemed clients and his colleagues. A fine restaurant on the Lisburn Road called Shu's. Gorse Fox thoroughly recommends it. Superb food, excellent service and fine wine. If you're in Belfast, go there.


The Silver Vixen is at a committee meeting of her coven, so GF has a few minutes to catch up on the hundreds of emails that have been building up.


Monday, October 23, 2006

Belfast


Gorse Fox whizzed along the South coast to Southampton to get the early morning flight to Belfast. Was somewhat disconcerted on the flight by the passenger in the next seat reading a shooting magazine.

Good day with potential supplier (who's offices overlook Belfast Lough)... and pleasant hotel for the evening.

Belfast Lough

Looking out the other side of the building there was the Lough. With the bright sun, and blue sky the Lough looked so inviting, but GF suspects it would have been a bit chilly. Posted by Picasa

Belfast

This was the view from the offices that the Gorse Fox visited... looking across the roofscape of modern offices and industrial units towards the old Harland & Wolf shipyards. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, October 22, 2006

We are biased, admit the stars of BBC News

Well, that's a start. According to the Mail on Sunday: We are biased, admit the stars of BBC News
"A leaked account of an 'impartiality summit' called by BBC chairman Michael Grade, is certain to lead to a new row about the BBC and its reporting on key issues"

GF would love to take time to tell you more, but is off out for the day. Please take time to read the article. It vindicates many of the conversations GF has had on this topic since completing his contract with them.

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Rubble

A storm hammered the south coast throughout the night. There's something cozy about being tucked up in bed whilst the wind screeches and moans outside, but at the same time it is slightly disconcerting to hear the tiles moving against each other on the roof and feel the house vibrate in the more violent gusts.


Gorse Fox and the Silver Vixen are off to Old basing today to see Betty and Barney Rubble.


Saturday, October 21, 2006

Cream

Gorse Fox has been catching up on some domestic chores and stuck in a DVD whilst beavering away. "Farewell to Cream" made in November 1968, is still a magic item in the annals of recent music.


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Road Usage Charging

The BBC reported last week that the new session of Parliament is likely to include a Bill which would enable road use charging (RUC) as a means of reducing congestion (and no doubt, saving the planet).

Gorse Fox has been giving this some thought. Firstly, he should explain that the RUC is based on the premise that you should pay per mile driven, and pay more if you drive at busy times, or on the busiest roads. This, of course, assumes that you drive for the sheer pleasure of it, and therefore can pick and choose when you take to the wheel. Now, assuming Gordon Brown has left pensioners sufficient funds to have a car, this might be true... but for the rest, Gorse Fox humbly suggests that using their car is not a matter of choice, but rather necessity.

What would be the impact of RUC?


  • Company car drivers would be given a greater allowance to cover it.

  • The cost would be passed on to the consumer of goods or services of the company.

  • Private car drivers would just be taxed more heavily or have to change their working hours (remember English workers in the Private Sector already work longer hours than most Europeans). Let's examine this one:

    • Say, it will cost £1.00 per mile and Arthur travels 60 miles to work near London. (Remember, he can't live any closer, because house prices do not allow it... and cannot use the train, because the new development -where Arthur lives- that the Government has forced on the rural community is not on any train lines). So a journey to and from work could cost him £120 if he travels in peak hours, on main roads.

    • Peak hours are 07:00-10:00 and 16:30-18:30 (assumption)

    • He already has to leave home at 07:00 to have any chance of arriving at work by 09:00.

    • To avoid giving away his wages to this cretinous government he can either leave home earlier still, and arrive before 07:00 (so leave at 05:30, say) and then either leave work early (if that's allowed) or late. Knowing the way most business is back-loaded in the day, GF suggests he will leave after 18:30.

    • In the work place we frequently hear the concept "work-life balance" - forget it. That just went to the government as they added 3 hours to your working day, or took any disposable income you had to spend just because you wished to spend some time with your family.

  • Companies would either have to adapt to allow different working hours, or people would lose their jobs

  • People would have to move homes, or move jobs

  • Freight costs would escalate, unless freight can be delivered at night... which means keeping the workplace open to receive overnight deliveries. This adds to the overheads and will need to be passed on to the consumer.

  • Government Ministers would still get to swan around in their cars, at the taxpayer's expense.

  • And because we DON'T sit in traffic jams for fun, but because we have to conduct business to pay for the MPs salaries, cancer drugs from Scots, free home care for Scots, free prescriptions for the Welsh, and free University entrance for Scots in Scottish Universities, and the pensions black hole in the public sector, it will make NO difference to congestion.

Has the Gorse Fox missed anything?

Update: Of course he has. He has forgotten about the infringement of your liberty, as the government tracks every movement of your car. Where it's been, when it's been there, how fast you were travelling...

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Friday, October 20, 2006

It's all in the timing

Gorse Fox left home 15 minutes earlier this morning and cut 75 minutes off the journey compared to yesterday. This meant he had time to sit down to one of the great pleasures in life.


A bacon butty.


There's something almost wicked about a good bacon butty. The sensuous pleasure of sinking your teeth through the bap and the melting butter to the hot bacon is heightened by the fact you can sit and watch the other commuters rushing by.


GF is in no hurry. GF has arrived arrived early. The world can spin for while without the Gorse Fox's specific attention.



Thursday, October 19, 2006

Reading is an interesting town. Right in the middle of everything, but impossible to get to unless you happen to to live by a direct railway link, or wish to spend huge tracts of what is left of you life sitting in traffic jams. GF gets round this by driving to Basingstoke and catching the train. Of course today, GF arrived in B'stoke to find his intended train had been cancelled... and the next (half an hour later) managed to leave on time and arrive 10 minutes late despite the total journey length being scheduled for 20 minutes.


Hey ho! It's a bit of a grinding week, but at least GF is getting to sleep at home each night.


Anyway the day went pretty well. Excellent product and a possible contender.


Boston seems confused, though. He claims he doesn't write his own blog, and thought that the GF did it, but it became clear today that he doesn't.


Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Slough of Despond

Wednesday seems like Thursday and saw GF in Slough with another potential supplier. As suppliers go, they provided the best lunch so far... with take-away Pizza. To keep Boston happy they also provided "Wagonwheels" with the morning coffee.


Thursday and Friday will mean trips to Reading.


Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Fair dues

Gorse Fox finally got through to Woking Council. To be fair, they listened to the problem, apologised for the inconvenience and asked the Gorse Fox to send them the details in an email so that they could investigate and reimburse him. Sounds like good customer service... only time will tell.


Drying paint

The evaluation process that GF and the rest of the team are working on is interesting, infuriating, challenging and at times tedious. At this moment it is tedious.


Wind up

The mists of autumn softened the dawn as GF headed back up to Woking. Leaving earlier, the journey was much quicker, and GF found himself waiting outside the office until it opened.


Whilst waiting he tried to phone the Woking Council to get a refund on the car parking ticket... but their customer services didn't open for another hour... then when he did try, the phones would not connect. Great customer service; glad GF is not a Woking rate-payer.


Monday, October 16, 2006

You must be Woking

Fifty miles.

That's all.

Just 50 miles. But the last 11 miles were round Guildford and on Woking. So 50 miles took 2 hours this morning. GF was not amused.

At least the journey home was better, and only took 75 minutes. Having said that, the car park claimed it wouldn't take GF's card, so demanded cash... but on checking once home, GF found it had deducted the fee from the card.

GF is going to have a row in the morning!

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Sunday, October 15, 2006

Resting

The Rustington Convalescent Home dominates the seafront between Rustington and Littlehampton.

A most imposing building, and an ideal place to rest and recover after illness, GF should think.

GF turned around soon after this, and headed back. A comfortable 6.5 miles, with a total ascent of about 10 metres.

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Kelp!

Gorse Fox is always intrigued by the colours of the seaweed that is scattered along the shore line.

Black, green, russet, white, brown and each hue can be dull and dead as it dries and shrivels, or bright, fresh and vibrant in the ebbing water.

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Guardians

Groynes, the weary guardians of the coastline, grab some respite as the tide recedes.

Seaweed hangs mockingly from their sides, and barnacles cling furiously to their body. Day after day, year after year they stand as sentinels and divert the force of the tides.

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Quiet Beaches

The tide was on its way out, and though there were a few people about, most stuck to the greensward, only a few ventured down on the sands.

GF decided to head west this week, towards East Preston, Rustington and Littlehampton.

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Steppin' Out

GF seems to have tweaked his hip yesterday, and it is giving a degree of discomfort... so he took the easy way out.

The Gorse Fox decided to talk a walk along the beach. This, but its very nature, meant that there wouldn't be too many (in fact, any) steep inclines... just a nice flat walk.

It was bright and sunny, but the evidence of autumn was clear.

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Own Devices

The Silver Vixen has gone to an exhibition at Alexander Palace. The Gorse Fox has been left to his own devices. The question is what to do? GF fancies another walk, but has yet to decide.

Brown's raid on pensions costs Britain �100 billion

According to independent research quoted in the Telegraph Brown's raid on pensions costs Britain £100 billion. To put it in context "This is more than twice as much as the combined pension deficits of the country's 350 biggest companies."

Maybe that's why St Tony the Smarmy won't endorse Gordon. St Tony realises that he has disenfranchised those people who had the temerity to make provision for their future.

The calculation comes at an unwelcome time for Mr Brown, who has tried to reassure voters that he will be a prime minister "for Middle Britain" as he seeks an orderly hand-over from Tony Blair.

Hold on! Gordon has victimised, stolen, and pillaged Middle England (note the qualification of England, rather than Britain) for 10 years. This is a bit like getting a good kicking from a thug, who then comes round to ask if you'd like him to do any odd jobs round the house.

Oh, and by the way, the research conducted for the Institute of Actuaries may have under-called it. It could be as high as £150Bn. Apparently

Derek Scott, who was Mr Blair's senior economic adviser for six years, said that the Prime Minister disagreed with Mr Brown's decision to remove relief, but the Chancellor "pushed it through" anyway.

So let's lay the blame firmly at Gordon's door. George Osborne, the shadow chancellor, said:
"Gordon Brown's pension raid was one of his first and worst acts as Chancellor. Pensioners will be paying a heavy price for many, many years to come."
Gordon, you do not deserve to continue in office at all. Let alone become Prime Minister. You will never represent Middle England... and you cannot come round and do odd jobs for the Gorse Fox.

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Saturday, October 14, 2006

Poynings Route Profile

Another pleasurable afternoon on the Downs.

It was a shame the sun was obscured and the views were curtailed by the low cloud and humid air, but it was fun anyway.

As with so many of the walks in the Downs, there were times when you can walk for an hour or more and not see another soul... yet still you have not really drifted more that a few miles from the nearest village or town.

Total distance: 8.65 miles
Total Ascent: 1505 feet
Highest point: 668ft
Lowest Point: 185 feet


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Back at Poynings

Crossing the fields and weaving through the jumbled outbuildings of Manor Farm, Gorse Fox arrived back at Poynings.

The plaintive cry of a foaming ale called across the village, but GF decided that he would not heed the call.

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Newtimber Parish Church (St John the Evangelist) dates back to the 13th century, but was restoresd in the 1870s.

For more information click here.

A little north of the church is Newtimber Place which is a Sussex moated house, built of flint and brick with a roof of Horsham stone. Gorse Fox did not include this on today's route, but will return another day to have a look.

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Newtimber

Plunging (almost the perfect word in the cuircumstances) back down by the chalk pits on the west side of Wolstonbury Hill, the Gorse Fox crossed beneath the A23 and found himself in the Parish of Newtimber.

There was growing evidence of the autumnal colours, but still they have a way to go before they really show off in all their finery.

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Wolstonbury Hill

Wolstonbury Hill was the last ascent of this particular walk. It is an intriguing hill with a deep horsehoe shaped valley to the east, old firing ranges, and evidence of earthworks and an enclosure at the top.

To find out more about archeology of Wolstonbury Hill click here, or here.


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Wellcombe Bottom

Gorse Fox has not made his cutomary comment regarding Sussex Bottoms... this is because, until this point in the walk, he had only passed "Ewe Bottom" which was unspectacular and sounded like a childish insult, and "Cow Bottom" that seemed to reinforce the Government's concern regarding adult obesity.

Wellcombe Bottom, however, was quite a view from Wolstonbury Hill and somehow seemed so appropriate to the section of the Downs that surrounds Brighton.

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Beware of the Goose

Well, GF supposes that anything can be used for guard duties, assuming it makes enough noise, or is vicious enough.

It was nice to see this warning, however.

(If they had been guard bees, would thay have bee a SWAT team?)

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A Downland Parish

Crossing the A23 brought Gorse Fox up to a small cluster of houses and this Downland Parish Church (Church of the Transfiguration of Our Lord). This is the parish church of Pycombe, and was built in 1170.
It's built at the highest point of the old village, and is on the southern slopes of Wolstonbury Hill... which was GF's next landmark


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Jack & Jill

Gorse Fox paused for refreshments at the top of West Hill. A cool breeze was blowing, and it warranted another layer of clothing. GF's magic rucksack contains all manner of things... so his portable lunch came out and so did a light jacket.

As GF started to descend, the famous Jack and Jill Windmills could just be seen on the opposite side of the valley (GF has another walked planned that will take him up by the windmills)
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West Hill

From Saddlescombe, Gorse Fox followed the South Downs Way, up and over West Hill. This was yet another climb, and needed the occasional pause for breath photos.

Looking back from whence he came, it was decidly dark and murky, but the clouds were drifting and allowing the sun to break through here and there.

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Saddlescombe

Descending from Summer Down the Gorse Fox had to walk a few hundred yards along the road before turning off here at Saddlescombe Farm.

At the Farm, Gorse Fox headed east again, weaving his way between the farm buildings and cottages.

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Viewpoints

There are several good viewpoints along the southern edge of the Dyke, as the GF crosses Summer Down.

This one caught the eye, but the poor light rather flattened colours and the perspective that was so striking as GF peered across the entrance to the Dyke across North Hill towards Newtimber Hill.

It was along this stretch that GF caught up with a family who, judging by their accents, came from eastern Europe. It was nice to see them enjoying the countryside of their new home, but stangely disconcerting to see how much fun they had when they came to a gate and a stile. The pharse that came to mind was "Get over it".

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Devil's Dyke

Looking back into the dry combe that is Devil's Dyke.

GF had walked along the rim on the left and was baout to set out along the southern rim (on the right).

Why the "Devil's Dyke"? Well legend says it was dug by the devil himself in an attempt to allow the sea to engulf the many churches that exist in the area.

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Mushrooms

These mushrooms caught the attention. It is hard to get a sense of scale from the photo, but these were the size of a decent set of side plates.

There were just the two of them, but GF could almost hear Jamie Oliver waxing lyrical about them, and swears he could smell garlic and a dash of red wine.

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Devil of a Climb

The first climb brought the Gorse Fox to the rim of the Devil's Dyke.

This deep valley folded into the downs is "the largest chalkland dry combe in Britain and home to many associated plants and butterflies. From the summit there are dramatic views north towards the Weald and south over the sea. The archaeological and ecological diversity of this ancient landscape is such that it has been designated an ESA (Environmentally Sensitive Area)." According to the National Trust.

Today it was virtually deserted, Gorse Fox saw a couple of dog walkers and a group of 4 cyclists. Other than that, and when they had gone their own ways, Gorse Fox had the place to himself.

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