Saturday, March 31, 2007

Interstellar Penguins

As the Gorse Fox performed his hunter-gatherer role this morning he headed down past the temporary bar (in use whilst the main pool is being refurbished). At the bar were a collection of the pasty-faced new arrivals receiving their "Welcome Meeting" (which is, of course, a euphemism for sales pitch). The Gorse Fox only caught a few words of the strangulated vocabulary that was bestowed upon the throng in classic "Estuary English", but it caused him to grin from ear to ear.

The bit he missed probably started:

"Hello, my name is Tracy and I am you Rep. for this week. I'd like to tell you about some of the things you must see while you are on the Island"

At this point she probably talked about the clubs and bars in Las Americas, the shoe shops where you can buy white stilettos, and stalls where you can buy "Burberry" towels for the beach. Then she probably started talking about the excursions (car boot sales, Lakeside etc) before mentioning Puerto de la Cruz and the "Loro Park". This is when the Gorse Fox wandered by and heard...
"...and of course you must visit the planetarium, where you can see the penguins in their natural environment"

GF is not sure how he can add to that. Having just finished the book recounting the tales of Nobel Prize winner, Richard Feynman(*), he is still grappling with his own ignorance, he cannot adequately start to cope with that of others.

(*) "Surely you're joking Mr. Feynman! The adventures of a curious charatcter" is one of the best reads the Gorse Fox has enjoyed in a long time. It's a series of tales from the life of a brilliant physicist, mischief maker, safe-cracker, musician, artist and mathematician. Don't just sit there. Go read it.

Menu


Menu
Originally uploaded by Gorse Fox.
One of the more interesting items the Gorse Fox has seen on a menu this week.



He was tempted to order no. 31... Just to see what he'd get.

Friday, March 30, 2007

INcidente CONTINENTale

We stopped for lunch in Garachico. We had wandered around the town taking photos and examining the old churches. We wandered back down towards the se and found a suitable restaurant.

Waiting patiently, we reviewd the menu and watched the tide slowly recede. Gradually the offshore reefs became exposed and gradually the waiter approached us for our order. So began the Incidente Continentale.

Our salad arrived and the Silver Vixen and Gorse Fox tucked in. No salad is complete without a light dressing of Olive Oil. The Silver Vixen drizzled some on her salad, and passed the oil to the Gorse Fox. Likewise, he drizzled the oil on his salad, but as he put it down he realised that the container did not have a drip-lip, and so in the process of drizzling the oil on his salad, he had also been drizzling the oil into his lap. His light beige trousers had taken on a sinister patch... not just a little splash, you must understand, but a large "wet" patch.

There was nothing that could be done. GF would have to walk around with his jacket draped non-chalontly over his arm - in front of him. Well that was a problem for later, first the meal had to be finished... and then a quick trip to the little boys room.

And there things got worse.

The tap was loose. So when opetated, the spigot turned and nothing happened. So the Gorse Fox held the spigot and turned the tap. Evidently the water was stored somewhere near the top of the mountain 3000 meters above, because nothing seemed to happen for an instant. Then, however, there was a mighty whoosh as the water exploded out of the tap like a cannon. The Gorse Fox was soaked... but just to make things perfect, it was only his light beige trousers that got hit. The Gorse Fox was not amused as he returned to the table. The Silver Vixen took one look and could hardly stand up for laughing

And so ended the Incidente Continentale, or In-Continent as it has become known for short.

Round the Island

The wind died down overnight, but soon returned when the sun came up. Again the blues skies looked promising, but the strong wind meant that sitting down to enjoy it was not a credible option. Again the west coast looked threatening, so we headed north along the east coast.

Passing Abades and Porris, our suggested destination (always subject to change) was Candelaria. Wife-Nav was set and headed up the motorway. Like yesterday, it became clear that Candelaria was under cloud. So, like yesterday, Wife-Nav selected an alternate route and we continued across the Autopista del Norte towards La Oratava. Again, it was cloudy, and the traffic was heavy heading in to the centre, so we diverted again and decided to comple the circuit of the Island.

The North coast is very different from the south. It is much more lush. The higher rainfall in the north makes it much more fertile and whether it be planned agriculture or natural flora, there is stuff growing everywhere.

We stopped ag Garachico. This little village has grown up again after being devastated by a lava flow during one of the last eruptions (1706) on Volcano Negra. The lava split village, filling its once thriving harbour. rebuilding started in the 1800s on top of the peninsula formed by the lava flow. A few of the origibal buildings survive, but a new village has grown rich to the east of the original flow. The churches are preparing for this year's Holy Week, and you can see the palanquins with statues of Christ, all decorated and ready to be carried in procession through the streets. Along the cobbles you can see a trace of white paint that gides the procession around the town.

After lunch we continued our circuit, Beunavista, El Tanque, Santiago del Teide, Guia de Isora, Tejina, and back onto the Autopista and round to our little pied a terre.

Friday is one of the change-over days in Tenerife, and it was immediately clear that a there had been a lot of new arrivals as pasty faced people wandered around exposing unnecessary quantities of skin for the edification of all and sundry. Deciding that we were not all, nor sundry, we headed back to our garden for a quiet hour before the evenings adventures.

Garachico


Guarachico
Originally uploaded by Gorse Fox.
Pretty town on the north coast, once split by a lava flow.

Santa Ana

The parish church of Santa Ana dominates the skyline of the village of Garachico... though the huge mountain that shelters the village to the south dominates everything.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Porris & Los Abrigos

Wind. Wind was the theme that blasted through the day. Gorse Fox woke up to the sound of the wind howling in from the sea, and whilst there was little cloud it was certainly not calm!

Wandering out to get the paper it was clear that the south and east of the island were cloud-free, but the west was covered in heavy bank of low cloud. This helped us decide on the day's strategy. We headed up the east coast.

We didn't have a specific destination in mind, but Candelaria seemed like a good spot. (We had enjoyed our day there last year). As we continued north, however, it became clear that we were heading back into cloud. A smart about turn at the next motorway junction routed us back the way we'd come. We chose Porris de Abona to stop.

Porris, whilst close to the motorway, seems off the beaten track. A sleepy little harbour around which a village has grown, with a mixture of housing styles suiting all sorts. They have been spending some effort on the sea front, where a nicely tiled promenade has been built, and at various points there were steps for bathers to get down from the rocks into the crystal clear water below. We wandered round Porris for quite a while, concluding that even by our standards it was quiet. We stopped for some lunch at a local restaurant (where it appears all of the locals go). It was bedlam in there, but 10E bought us a good lunch before we headed back to the car.

We decided to head back to our place and spend the afternoon in the garden with our books. Our patch of the island was still in bright sunshone, though the wind was so strong it was moving the garden furniture around the patio as we read. It was like having a poltergeist for company.

The wind continued to howl into the evening. We headed for Restaurante Los Abrigos. To avoid the various restaurant touts at all the places we would normally have to walk past, we cut through the back streets and avoided all the hassle. As usual the place was beginning to get busy, but we had no trouble getting a table. We went to select our choice of fish. The Silver Vixen chose the prawns... which, as described last year, are the size of small bananas; the Gorse Fox had fresh Dorada. As we finished our meals we sat and watched the sun go down, turning the clouds pink and edging them with a glow against the weakening blue of the evening sky. Exquisite.

Evening in LA (Los Abrigos)

Tonight's visit to LA took us to the eponymous Loas Abrigouse Restaurant, itself.

As usual we got to choose our meal from the fresh fish (and shellfish) that were on display.

Ex-pat Humour

Not sure if this is a genuine Spanish house name, or was some ex-pat humour.

Glancing back

As we walked around the headland from Porris we looked back at where we had started.

(It was a bit like being out on the South Downs, not a soul around.)

GF at Porris


GF at Porris
Originally uploaded by Gorse Fox.
GF takes in Porris

Poris de Abona


Poris de Abona
Originally uploaded by Gorse Fox.
The windswept beaches of Poris

Porris Harbour

The little harbour at the sleepy heart of Porris seemed to sum up the town. All the boats were dragged up on the beach, and resting.

Surf's Up

The strong wind was driving the surf at Porris de Abona.

The headland in front separates Porris from Abades where we were yesterday.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Abades

A golden sun burst over the horizon and sent a warm glow rushing across the sea and illuminating the golf course beneath our windows. The Gorse Fox sat reading as the morning came to life. A stroll to the local shop for the daily paper and some provisions preceeded an full English breakfast.

We decided to head up the east coast a way. We usuall stop at El Medano, but this time carried on to Abades. This was not a specific target, just happened to be where we stopped. Abades looks as if it is a new purpose-built village. Down at the sea-front we parked up and started to walk along from one bay to the next. The bays were only a few tens of yards wide in some places as the sea penetrates between old lava flows.

As we walked, the scenery revealed wind sculpted rocks and tortured lava, small inlets where the sea lapped black sand, and forming a backdrop to it all the huge bulk of Mt Teide with its crown of whispy cloud. The place was deserted. The only sound was the lapping of the waves and the incessant buffeting of the wind.

This is the first time that we had visted this part of the coast, and it certainly deserves closer inspection... and maybe a return visit for some swimming.

Returning to the house (via the supermarket) we spent some time in the garden before cooking supper and settling in for the football.

Garden View

The view from our garden, looking down (south) towards the main part of the complex.

Abades


Abades
Originally uploaded by Gorse Fox.
Wind-hewn rocks near Abades

Cueva Negra

Just along from Adabes is this cove of the Black Cave. It took a few minutes to walk round to it, but it was very secluded.

At the head of the cove was a cave, and couple seemed to have set up camp there, and had their washing hanging on a line just outside.

Rock formation

It is always interesting to see the way in which the different types of rock weather and erode as a result of the pounding of the waves and the scouring of the trade winds that hammer this eastern coast of the Island.

Los Gigantes and more

Again there was a bright start to the day, but clouds were never too far and with the mixed forecast we decided to head out in the car. The primary target for the trip was Los Gigantes... but we just had to stop at the hypermarket on the way.

The Silver Vixen was interested in some sports trousers, and the Gorse Fox wanted to stock up on the stationery that he likes (spiral bound, squared notebooks with 4mm squared paper). GF is a staionery junkie, so stood there slavering at the choices before him (wondering why it took the Silver Vixen so long to pick up a couple of tea-towels, then realising he had spent just as long pawing the stationery).

Los Gigantes was the next stop. This is a village that has bulit up around a small fishing harbour. Slowly it has spread up the mountainside and perches above the narrow streets, looking out to the Atlantic. Framing the village is the most spectacular parade of vertical cliff faces strecthing for several miles up the the end of the south-west coast.

The popularity of Los Gigantes is its downfall. The uncontrolled growth, the narrow roads and absence of parking make it a nightmare to vist. We were lucky, finding a parking spot fairly quickly... but there were many who just kept circling and looking. We ate lunch in a "Creperie" looking down on the marina and across to the cliffs. We were the only customers, so service was attentive, and the food excellent. We then strolled down to the harbour, but the harbour wall was closed to pedestrians preventing us from getting the best views of the vertiginous scenery. We climbed slowly back up to the car.

After a brief debate we decided to to drive up to the huge expanse of El Teide Parque National. It was an easy road up from Chio and some 30km later we were 2000m above sea level driving through wisps of cloud across the black tortured landscape of Las Canadas. The temperature had steadily dropped as we climbed. The 21C of Los Gigantes was now 5C as we turnes a Boca de Tauce and headed for Los Roques (from where, with any luck, there should be a picture below). The parque was awe-inspiring as ever, though almost devoid of visitors (probably because of the cold). That was not going to stop the Gorse Fox, however, as he donned his jacket and set off with his camera (leaving the Silver Vixen warm and content in the car). The bitter wind soon drove the Gf back and we set off back down the mountain, through Villaflor, San Miguel and back to the house.

We decided on something traditional for dinner and headed for San Blas. We watched the Bollywood MTV channel whilst enjoying a pleasant Indian feast.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Pico del Teide

A detailed view of the summit of El Teide. On the right-hand shoulder you can see the pylons for the cable-car. (Though, because of the high winds, it was not running today).

Crater Wall

One of the most majestic parts of the crater wall. It is hard imagine the size of the proto-volcano that this one supported. Now it rises for hundreds of metres from the existing crater floor.

El Teide


El Teide
Originally uploaded by Gorse Fox.

Los Roques de Garcia

Whisps of cloud drifted around and despite the blue sky, a cold breeze held the temperature around 5C.

El Teide was playing hide and seek in the cloud, but that just seemed to add to the depth of the view.

Turning to the left from here, looking down over the plain, the Gorse Fox was actually looking down on the clouds.

Cliff face

The incredible strata and striations that etch the cliff face can hold the attention for ages. Your eye starts to follow a ridge or undulation then veers away along another. The vertical marks are the most interesting as you imagine they have been cut by water falls... but that is unlikely as there is nowhere for the water to have come from, and the channels begin right at the very top.

The Gorse Fox wished he knew a little more about geology.

Verticliff


The 2000ft cliffs of Los Gigantes (The Giants) tower over the village below. Boats become small specks in contrast.

This view of the cliffs looks up past Masca towards Teno.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Catching rays

Monday somehow felt more like holiday, knowing that the Goese Fox's colleagues were back at work and he was sitting in the warm sunchine reading. After yesterday's quiet day we walked down to to the sea and then along the promenade (where it exists) passing San Miguel Village and then up into San Blas for some lunch.

The afternoon was spent in the garden. The Silver Vixen catching some rays, and the Gorse Fox finishing off his second book this week. (The first was "The Lincoln Lawyer" by Michael Connelly, today's was "The Wrong Way Round" by Ewan McGregor and Charley Borman recounting their motorcycle trip from west to east around the world. Both books are damned fine reads).

In the evening we returned to San Blas for dinner. An "entertainer" was singing in the village square and kept the Gorse Fox occupied with thoughts of how "pub singers" (as that was essentially what he was) always seem obsequious, always tell crap jokes, and bring out an almost irresistable urge to find a baseball bat and use him for batting practice. At that point the GF's reverie was broken by said singer asking "Does everybody like Country and Western?" a groan emanated from the crowd and the Gorse Fox was heard to mutter "I'm going tear him limb from limb", but the Silver Vixen restrained him whilst the Country and Western caterwalling died away (and several fellow diners committed suicide). Where is Alice Cooper when you want him?

San Blas


The square in San Blas was quiet when we stopped for lunch. Next week, with the Easter rush, it will probably be heaving (at least in the evenings).
Posted by Picasa

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Attention


Attention
Originally uploaded by Gorse Fox.
The Silver Vixen getting some close attention from the waiter, even as we left

Sun succeeds, clouds cleared

Gosh it's hot. The clouds of yesterday had moved on and the day was blue and sunny and hot. Yesterday's walk had induced blisters for the Silver Vixen, so we made the most of the fine weather and the garden. Sections of our white flesh were exposed to the sun's welcome (though surprised) rays through a factor-20 sun screen

Mid afternoon clouds rolled down from El Teide and there was a brief shower.. but as we had just gone indoors for some lunch we were unaffected.

Early evening we headed down to Los Abrigos. This little fishing village is slowly merging with San Blas as the gap between the villages gets developed. We have two favoured restuarants in Los Abrigos - the Los Abrigos Restaurant, itself and Bencomo.
Tonight we chose Bencomo. The Silver Vixen was the victim of some merciless flirting from the cheeky young waiter and we enjoyed a cheerful rapport and banter throught the meal. The initial source of his fun was the fact that the Silver Vixen turned up in a long sleeved T-shirt, a heavy cardigan and was clutching a huge woollen wrap. She claimed it was cold and you can't be too careful. At 20C he did not agree.

We settled down in a sunny corner of the restaurant and ordered our meals. The sun was shining in the Silver Vixen's eyes and so, when the waiter delivered the starters, he shaded her commenting on the inconvenience of the setting sun. She commented that she could do with some sunglasses, but had left hers in the car. The waiter rushed off and came back with a huge pair of shades which SV duly wore until the sun disappeared beneath the horizon.

We always have a good feast at Bencomo, and the service is always cheerful. The Gorse Fox thoroughly recommends it.

Los Abrigos, Early Evening


Early evening in Los Abrigos. The clouds provided interesting contrast to the clear blue sky.

With so many restaurants to choose from, it was hard selecting where to eat. However, we decided to stick with one of those that we know and went to Bencomo. (A good choice)

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Quiet day

The Gorse Fox emerged from slumber. In the dstance the gentle rumble of a 757 coming in to land broke the still of the morning. A gentle rain was falling, but in the east the sun was trying hard to penetrate the low clouds.

So redevelopment work is going on in the complex. This means that the main pool is closed as they finish resurfacing, and the pool bar is also closed. This was not unexpected. We had been warned this would be the case and offered alternative accommodation. Our bungalow, however, is well away from this central area of disturbance so we decided not to let it interfere.

It looked brighter on the west side of the Island so we drove about 15 minutes from the complex and parked up. Heading down to Playa Fanabe we joined the Geranium Walk (a 14km paved promenade) and headed north. The tide was out, and the sea calm, the promenade was busy with people making the most of the day (given that it wasn't ideal for the beach). As we walked several things became clear.

- there are a lot of foreigners about - who'd have thought it.

- there are a lot of Northerners about

- most of the Northerners seemed really miserable, not a smile on their faces, every conversation you overheard was grumpy and moaning (and every one of them was smoking).

We stopped at La Caleta for lunch overlooking the little harbour. After ordering the young Spanish girl sent her colleague over "Guten dag" she started... and The Gorse Fox looked vague. "Deutsch?" she hesitated. GF explaine that was not the case, and the girl switched effortlessly to English and explained that her colleague thought we were German!

We strolled back to the car and stopped at the supermarket on the way back for some food that would see us through the evening (watching the football). The afternoon was spent reading in the garden and listening to traditional Spanish music (Deep Purple) on the MP3 player.

Having just watched the football and enjoyed a nice bit of Brazillian steak, the GF is delighted that he bought several bottles of wine (which may help him forget the football).

Abuse


Abuse
Originally uploaded by Gorse Fox.
As a metod of protecting his rapidly disappearing hair and saving his scalp from the sun, GF was encouraged to buy a hat.



This is where he drew the line.

Bougainvillea


The Silver Vixen in front of a wall of Bougainvillea. The day may have been overcast, but a display like this certainly brightened it up.

This spot was on the walk towards La Caleta after the area known as El Duque

Friday, March 23, 2007

Travelling again

Just before dawn the Silver Vixen and Gorse Fox prepared for their journey. A taxi was booked for the airport run, but a minibus turned up (GF pointed out that there were but the two passengers, but the driver made some comment about "the missus" and "luggage"). GF decided to let it go without further comment (as his bag weighed the most!).

We left the sensuous, rain drenched curves of the South Coast for a brief sojourn at Gatwick before climbing aboard our transport to the volcanic acne landscape of Tenerife. The journey was brightened by several things.
Firstly, the sight of so many people pretending to be contortionists in order to fold themselves into the seats (it is widely held that Thomas Cook Airlines used Toulouse Lautrec as a model to get the spacing of their seats just right),
Secondly, we were leaving the rain behind.
Thirdly, there a film called "Flushed Away", by Aardman Animation which was one of the funniest films GF has seen in a long time.

Tenerife was covered in cloud when the travellers arrived, and by the time that they arrived at the apartment it was raining gently. We hired a car whilst awaiting the key for the apartment then finally ditched all of our stuff. By now it was early evening and the Gorse Fox was getting hungry.

We sent to the car and stepped back as a cuple of gents manouevred theirs into the parking bay next to ours. Then the Gorse Fox unlocked the rental Yaris and confidently got in, whilst conducting a polite conversation with the gents who were now leaving their car. It was at this point that he realised that security was not quite what it should be, as he turned to see that the steering wheel and controls had been stolen and refitted on the other side of the car. GF believes the phrase for such occasions is "D'oh!"

Dinner was taken at a Chinese buffet which had an interesting twist on the usual concept. Starters were the usual help-your-self selection, but the main course was quite different. For the main course you selected the fresh vegetables, the meat, prawns, or poultry that you wanted and the chef stir fried it there and then in front of you with whichever sauces you requested. Excellent meal all round.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Phew!

Well that was a pain. It turns out that Creative don't write the most forgiving of software, and Windows Mediaplayer 11 performs some unnatural acts with recognition of the drivers. Rolling back WMP11 (every last bit of it) to WMP10, enabled the MP3 player to be recognised... then it was just a simple matter of downloading the firmware again, and reloading nearly 4000 tracks of GF's favourite music.

By the way, this is the Gorse Fox's 3,000th2,900th (oops, a little premature) blog entry.

Aaaargh

The Gorse Fox seems to have blown his MP3 player away by trying to update it! All 30GB of disk has been wiped, plus the OS and firmware... he is NOT a happy bunny!

Last minute

Last minute errands and chores scheduled for today as Tenerife beckons us.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Fuel Economy

GF was just listening to the details of the car tax and fuel tax changes announced in the budget. He can't help but think that his last choice of car was fortunate. Band D so the tax is not too bad, and very fuel efficient. Yesterday's trip back from Worcester was achieved at 57.1mpg and only took 2 hours 40 minutes.

Good start

Well it's been a good start! GF has spent the first day of his vacation catching up on emails, documents, appraisals, and mandatory education. He's finally getting to end of his "to do" list... and guesses he needs to start on his Don't do list.

GF sat through a long meeting yesterday before heading back south. It was progressing nicely, and agenda items were falling by the wayside. Suddenly there was a concerted bombardment of cliches. At first just sporadic, but in the end a cluster bomb of them... GF was at first disorientated (Shock and awe, he assumes) but finally grabbed his pencil to record...
...blah, blah, blah, of course a lot of water needs to flow under the bridge but we do need to be inside the tent, not on the ouside. We can't be seen to be standing on the touchline.
How big does a tent have to be to have a bridge with flowing water?
A brief respite, then:
...things are moving in the right direction but we risk moving to a "just in time" situation
GF thinks a bigger risk is moving to a "just too late" model!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Neck Thai

Last night the Gorse Fox met up with the Don and headed out for a bite to eat. Mexican would be a bit heavy, Chinese was an option, but we opted for a Thai. It was a pleasant eveninng and as there were just the two of us, it was fairly quick.

Today is the last working day before some vacation... and full of meetings.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Shortage of Ladders

Gorse Fox can only assume, reading this email, that there's a shortage of step ladders:

There have been a number of incidents recently involving broken toilet
seats. Would staff please refrain from standing on the toilets as the seat
lids cost £19.00 to replace and there have been 12 broken over the last few
months. If you do, some how manage to accidentally break a toilet seat then
please could you report it to Corporate Estates, rather than leaving it to
be found by the cleaning staff.

Thank you.

The Gorse Fox has no idea.

Cold start

The week started early. The Gorse Fox was on the road soon after five and whilst clear and cold on the south coast, reports of snow were coming in from around the country. The first signs were evident as he drove north from Winchester, with dustins of snow covering the hills - though the roads were still dry and clear. Once into thye Coyswold, the clouds had appeared and were looking ominous and as he approached Birdlip the snow started. Plunging down into the Severen Valley it eased off, but as he approached the Avon (near Tewkesbury) there was another heavy snow shower.
Now sitting in the cold office (the heating isn't on yet) he's looking forward to his last two days before some vacation.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Food

Skype provided a cheap and effective means of calling Cousteau0cub in Thailand. She was sitting on the beach reading when we called. She's been having a good time and is making the most of the hot weather.

We met up with Urban-cub for Mother's Day lunch. A few minutes down the road, and we selected our table at Worthing's "The Food Restaurant". A pianist played near the entrance and waiters paid the closest of attention. The menu was not vast, but did provide a good selection of superb dishes.

GF recommends it, highly.

I believe

We learn today that the Blessed Tony hasconfirmed that Sir Alistair Graham would not be appointed for a second three-year term as chairman of the Committee for Standards in Public Life. The move raised fears that Downing Street was planning to scrap the independent watchdog, which was established by the previous Tory administration.

In an interview with the Sunday Times (reported in Ananova) that he:
has launched a stinging attack on Tony Blair for undermining public trust in politics.
Well, who'd have thought it!
"I suspect Blair and his government are going to be as strongly associated with the loss of public trust as (former Premier John) Major's was with sleaze."
Are going to be? Don't you mean ARE?
"Key democratic safeguards for openness and accountability in terms of how government operates broke down. And Blair has to take personal responsibility for that," he added.
What? take responsibility... "Cherie, where's the teflon?"

Sir Alistair also hit out at MPs for awarding themselves excessive perks. "They seem to be able to apply a differing standard than most ordinary people expect to achieve.

"They are able to put a claim in for expenses up to a figure of £250 without providing a detailed receipt. MPs also awarded themselves pensions which no-one could hope to replicate," he added.
The most morally corrupt government Britain has seen in generations. But isn't that the usual legacy of socialism:
  • control of the masses
  • exemption for the ruling class
  • Prescott lanes on the M4
  • Removal of accountability
  • Well-feathered nests.
  • Utter contempt for the non-believers
  • Eventual persecution of non-believers
  • Liberal nirvana and Moral bankruptcy

The Voice of Reason

The great philosopher, in his column in the Sunday Times has one of those paragraphs that the Gorse Fox wishes he'd written:
As you may know, I’m not well disposed to the idea of governments banning things, except for beards and ginger hair and butter beans and Scotsmen sitting in Westminster and caravans and any talk of global warming by people who don’t know what they’re on about and the Toyota Prius and books with no plot and costume dramas on ITV and anything with Jade Goody in it and Ken bloody Livingstone, but the only thing that stops me from banning the Fiat Panda from the outside lane of a motorway is that May would become even later for his call times on Top Gear.
Seems entirely reasonable!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Motoring Etiquette

The Gorse Fox has just found the following missive, and it rather amused him, given this afternoon's encounter and he provides it a) with acknowledgments to the original author (whoever that may be); and b) with apologies to the Mighty Atom !!!:
"The other day I was cruising along as usual coming onto one of my motorways, which was very busy with inferior cars. Firstly, I couldn't believe that the flow of traffic DIDN'T slow down for me AT ALL as I came off the slip road! I had to squeeze into a tiny gap between two cars in order to get onto my motorway! (The driver of the car behind me did realise his mistake though and honked an apology to me with a long blast of his horn.)

Unbelievably, I had to do the same again before I could get to the BMW lane. (Why do underlings use this lane? Surely everyone knows it is for BMW drivers only?). Anyway, once in the BMW lane and posing along at 110mph enjoying the adulation that the inferior car drivers were giving me, I noticed an inferior car ahead of me which was not only in the BMW lane of my motorway, but was driving at a ridiculous 70 mph!

Naturally, I got to within a foot or so of his rear bumper and flashed my headlights to remind him he shouldn't be in the BMW lane of my motorway and to get out the way. Of course, once he realised it was a BMW behind him, he did just that, but I could hardly believe it when he pulled straight back out behind me! He tried to keep up with me and when he realised I would out-run him, he put on some Council house type, blue flashing lights hidden in his front grille. He urged me to get onto the hard shoulder so that he could congratulate me on my excellent car and driving skills.

Needless to say, I was eager to oblige and when we had stopped, the man gave me a piece of paper confirming what I already knew - my car goes fast! Apparently he wants everyone to know what a superior car I have, so I had to take my licence to a Police Station to be sent away to have some points put on! (They're not free either - they're £20 each and I was only allowed 3). But the man at the Station said that as I drive a BMW, it won't be much longer before I earn the full 12 points, and then I won't even NEED a driving licence, so they will take it off me!."

Auto

Gorse Fox will probably change his car this year, and the search for its replacement has begun. It is frustrating, however, that he does not have a wider choice of vehicles.

The Gorse Fox, you see, likes to drive a car with automatic transmission. The mileage that he has to do each week, however, dictates a diesel. So where the Gorse Fox may like to choose from Toyota, Honda, Ford, VW and Audi, he finds that Toyota still don't recognise a market for diesel automatics, Honda don't make them either, Ford are unlikely to have the diesel autos available on the new Mondeos until 6-12 months after launch (based on past experience), leaving the Gorse Fox back with VW or Audi.

One salesman asked whether GF had looked at the Mercedes. GF said he had but was disappointed with the build and the shape of the seats (a priority in the selection process). "What about the BMW?" he asked.
The Gorse Fox stepped back. He fixed him with a withering stare. "Exactly what sort of person do you think I am?" he hissed. The salesman sobbed out an apology, and crawled away mewling quietly to himself.

Closing Post Offices

Gorse Fox rarely enters a Post Office. Generally, he has no reason so to do. Today, however, he accompanied Urban-cub to the local Post Office to help her sort out her car tax.

We arrive early. The place is almost empty except for the 5 or 6 operatives sitting behind the glass screens. Urban-cub discovers that she has left a document at home so we have to do a round-trip to retrieve said document and arrive back at the Post Office mid-morning. Now people are queuing outside the door and there are only 3 operatives working, one of which is dealing with a customer who has 3 sackfuls of mail to send off.

No wonder people hate going to the Post Office. No wonder customer numbers are falling and leading to closures. They seem to treat their customers as a necessary nuisance that keep interrupting their statutory tea breaks.

Weekend Starts Here

The Silver Vixen is off to a specialist quilting event today. The Gorse Fox is left to his own devices. He has to meet up with Urban-cub at some point to help her sort out her car, but other than that has little planned.

Friday, March 16, 2007

NZ council sues self and wins

The Gorse Fox has a sneaking admiration for New Zealand and most things to do with it. This article rather tickled his funny bone... NZ council sues self and wins

It just seems so civilized and fair.

Iconic


Iconic
Originally uploaded by Gorse Fox.
A rather iconic view of London.

Victoria


Victoria
Originally uploaded by Gorse Fox.
It was too nice to dive underground so as the GF was running early, he walked in the Spring sunshine to Whitehall.

Training

Friday sees the Gorse Fox heading into London to visit the government offices. This is his monthly top-up of cynicism and opportunity to observe the machinery of government first-hand.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Odds on

The punters from Chelteham Races infest the local bars, restuarants, and hotels this week. Some conversations amuse the eavesdropper as the unlucky race-goer bemoans his losses. Others, loudly boast of their winnings (and need a good slap). Over breakfast this morning one group were complaining about the prices that were being charged by Worcester's "ladies of the night"... and outside the restaurant a solitary punter sat and sipped his Guinness at 7:30 am.

It's another world!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Gorse Fox is still in Worcester. The sun is shining, the builders are tearing the building apart and constructing some new ofices for us, and for a change the offices are fairly quiet.

Yesterday the Don, the Abbott, Mick the Plumber joined us geeks for some fine weissbier and a mexican meal. A fine evening was had by all... but it was later than planned.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Muzak

Gorse Fox is waiting for a teleconference to start and listening the worst muzak he's ever heard.

He's sitting in Worcester having had a wonderful start to the day. The first light grey of dawn was creeping over the horizon as he left home and by the time he approached Winchester candy pink fringed the clouds. By Whitchurch the sky was on fire with the golden light of the new day. The journey was uneventful and very quiet.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Just Said No

The Silver Vixen seems to be suffering some pain in her neck. The Gorse Fox assumed it was him, but this appears to be incorrect... She is in sufficient discomfort that she has actually cancelled her Monday night trip to the gym where she lies on the floor a lot with loads of other ladies.

Surrey

Gorse Fox has driven through the blinding spring sunshine, over the Downs, across the weald and into Surrey. He has an interesting day mapped out at the Guildford office.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Well

GF should have been walking on the Downs, but Spurs were at Stamford Bridge and the game was on TV. Soccer took precedence.
The game has just finished, honours even.
What a game.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Insult to injury

As if that wasn't enough. Having read the Gray Monk, the Gorse Fox has just looked up his aristocratic title.
My Peculiar Aristocratic Title is:
His Excellency Gorse the Antique of West Smeesborough
Get your Peculiar Aristocratic Title

Meanwhile, the Silver Vixen gets away with a perfectly acceptable:

My Peculiar Aristocratic Title is:
Her Most Serene Highness Lady Silver the Potential of Praze-an-Beeble
Get your Peculiar Aristocratic Title

Splutter!

So the Gorse Fox has decided it is time for some new spectacles. He has visited the normal purveyors of lenses & frames to compare and contrast.

In the first shop they were helpful, but the frames were exorbitantly priced.

In the second shop they were helpful, had more sensible prices, but the lenses were not cheap!

In the third shop the assistant sidled up to the Gorse Fox

"Can I help you?" she purred

"The Gorse Fox is looking for some new glasses, and he would like something like these" he said, pointing at a rather nice pair.

"Oh, they're on special offer" she said "buy one pair, get another pair free. But we do have another offering. Are you over sixty?"

Crestfallen the Gorse Fox replied "No, but I shall return when I am"

It is evident that the few flecks of rather distinguished grey in the Gorse Fox's hair have given the wrong impression. Either that or it the fact that they have all joined up to cover those areas that still have hair.

Maps

This is a website map of the Gorse Fox's blog. It was produced using Websites as Graphs

What do the colors mean?
blue: for links (the A tag)
red: for tables (TABLE, TR and TD tags)
green: for the DIV tag
violet: for images (the IMG tag)
yellow: for forms (FORM, INPUT, TEXTAREA, SELECT and OPTION tags)
orange: for linebreaks and blockquotes (BR, P, and BLOCKQUOTE tags)
black: the HTML tag, the root node
gray: all other tags

Spring

What a gorgeous spring morning. The sun is out. The sky is a backdrop of blue punctuated with fluffy clouds. Birds are singing.

Perfect start to a day.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Stitched

The Silver Vixen is out for the evening at her favourite coven (she's now stopped going to Stitch 'n' Bitch with the Needlework Nazis) ... this means the GF is having a quiet evening with some old Time Team recordings.

Climate

This is short post by way of bookmarking some interesting sites which challenge the media-truth, and political-truth of anthropogenic climate change:
The fact that the EU is getting earnest about it should tell you all you need to know!

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Wall to wall meetings throughout the day, followed by drive nback to the Sussex Coast and a Parish Council meeting... don't expect too much activity here today.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

On Fridays

Old Father Time has sent the GF an email which brought a wry smile to his face:
A man must have his priorities after all.

A husband and wife came for counseling after 15 years of marriage.

When asked what the problem was, the wife went into a passionate, painful tirade listing every problem they had ever had in the 15 years they had been married.

She went on and on and on: neglect, lack of intimacy, emptiness, loneliness, feeling unloved and unlovable, an entire laundry list of un-met needs she had endured over the course of their marriage.

Finally, after allowing this to go on for a sufficient length of time, the therapist got up, walked around the desk and, after asking the wife to stand, embraced and kissed her passionately.

The woman shut up and quietly sat down as though in a daze. The therapist turned to the husband and said, "This is what your wife needs at least three times a week. Can you do this?"

The husband thought for a moment and replied, "Well, I can drop her off here on Mondays and Wednesdays, but on Fridays, I fish."

(Usual acknowledgements to original author)

Newsletter

Gorse Fox has just received a newsletter from the Teddy Bear. At the end he includes the following salutory warning:

All of these are legitimate companies that didn't spend quite enough time considering how their online names might appear ... and be misread.

  1. Who Represents is where you can find the name of the agent that represents any celebrity. Their Web site is www.whorepresents.com

  2. Experts Exchange is a knowledge base where programmers can exchange advice and views at www.expertsexchange.com

  3. Looking for a pen? Look no further than Pen Island at www.penisland.net

  4. Need a therapist? Try Therapist Finder at www.therapistfinder.com

  5. There's the Italian Power Generator company, www.powergenitalia.com

  6. And don't forget the Mole Station Native Nursery in New South Wales, www.molestationnursery.com

  7. If you're looking for IP computer software, there's always www.ipanywhere.com

  8. The First Cumming Methodist Church Web site is www.cummingfirst.com

  9. And the designers at Speed of Art await you at their wacky Web site, www.speedofart.com

Just Exercise

Purely as an exercise in observing the human condition, the Gorse Fox joined with all his colleagues in the bar and watched as considerable amounts of beer were consumed and even greater amounts of drivel discussed. He, of course, remained aloof as the independnt observer always should. Any beer that he consumed was taken purely in order to maintain his cover.

At least that's his excuse.

Now, where's breakfast?

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

IWD

The Gorse Fox is somewhat perterbed that he has received a second invite to Starfleet's International Women's Day this Thursday. When he last checked he wasn't eligible!

Laural an Hardy


Laural an Hardy
Originally uploaded by Gorse Fox.
This is the sort of figurehead we get to look up to... Mother Superior and The Abbot

Coventry

An early start again, but that was no problem. GF was wide awake early as last night's storm was like an express train running round the bedroom allowing little or no sleep.

The trip to Worcester went smoothly despite the high wind and torrential rain... and after early meeting and the first swathe of emails the GF headed over to the outskirts of Coventry for a big meeting of all the folk involved on our programme. This is both business and bondage bonding... so should be fun.

Monday, March 05, 2007

See Oh Two

GF was just pondering the some of the recent pronouncements on climate change... and while he's still allowed to exercise his free speech (He's sure that deniers of Carbon Dioxide's influence will soon be denounced and imprisoned), he would just like to remind you of a few facts.

Encarta tells us
"Atmosphere, mixture of gases surrounding any celestial object that has a gravitational field strong enough to prevent the gases from escaping; especially the gaseous envelope of Earth. The principal constituents of the atmosphere of Earth are nitrogen (78 percent) and oxygen (21 percent). The atmospheric gases in the remaining 1 percent are argon (0.9 percent), carbon dioxide (0.03 percent), varying amounts of water vapor, and trace amounts of hydrogen, ozone, methane, carbon monoxide, helium, neon, krypton, and xenon."
We also learn today that the list of scientists referenced in the recent IPCC report for the UN included those who disagreed with the findings.
The Fourth Assessment Report) of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the fourth in a series of reports on climate change.

So far only the Working Group 1 - Summary for Policy Makers has been published.

In the Daily Mail we find that
"Dr Paul Reiter of the Pasteur Institute in Paris said it was a "sham" given the inclusion of scientist who disagreed with the findings... his name was only removed when he threatened legal action".

Oh dear! If the wheel comes off the CO2 bandwagon, where are the new excuses for taxes going to come from.

This Thursday will see a TV programme on Channel 4 "The Great Global Warming Swindle"... you can guess the furore that will cause and the spin doctors are probably sharpening their pencils already. Any guesses?
  • "It was paid for by the oil companies"
  • "It goes against the scientific concensus" (GF would remind you that science isn't democracy).
Now, GF does not deny that climate change is happening. The climate is a dynamic system and will continually change, but he does dispute the hysteria over CO2 (remember it's only 0.036% of the atmospheric system) when water vapour (3%-4%) and solar activity are far more likely agents of change (.

(By the way humans can only claim to be responsible for about 3.6% of all of the CO2 emitted annually - IPCC, Woods Hole)

Mirror

The Gorse Fox has downloaded and tried out a neat bit of code called Allway Sync. This provides a tidy interface to set up various schemes for synchronizing folders and disks. (BTW, there is a free download but GF bought a fully licensed copy for all of £10).

GF has set it up to monitor his "active" drives and folders and to copy changes across to his external hard drive. The code permits a number of filters to be applied, and different synchronization schemes... (periodic, on startup, on log-out, on change, etc). It also allows you to set different versioning rules for changed or deleted files, which is nice. It's taken a little while to get all of the filters right, but it's looking pretty good.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Lights

Lights, camera, inaction.

Last night we saw an eclipse of the moon. Down here on the south coast, with almost no light pollution, it looked incredible with its red hue glowing almost malevolently in the night sky. Gorse Fox went for his trusty camera and took a couple of pictures, but they did not come out. Shame, it was quite a sight.

Whilst on the subject of lights, an interesting little light has decided to illuminate the Silver Vixen's dashboard. GF took here trusty steed (Felicity!) to Toyota this morning. He oped that they would confirm it was the service reminder light (as she's coming up towards 20,000 miles). Toyota was staffed by a receptionist and a solitary lady sales rep. who looked a little hung-over and was clasping a cup of water as if her life depended on it. Gorse Fox explained the symptoms (resisting the urge to raise his voice or make any loud noises), and the youngster responded that the car should not be driven and that GF should contact the service department in the morning.

As she turned and stumbled away she said "I hope you haven't filled up at Tesco, Morrisons, or ASDA".

Fortunately, we haven't!

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Route Summary

This "W"-shaped route profile may have been shorter than many recent walks, but it was a hard one. The two climbs were fairly steep and were "strenuous".

Overall the route covered about 6.7 miles.
The highest point was 838 feet.
The lowest point was 363 feet.
The total ascent was (only) 977 feet (but certainly felt like more).

The Gorse Fox really enjoyed this route and would recommend it. (Bring your own defibrillator).

Homeward bound

As the Gorse Fox returned towards the car he reflected on the number of people he had seen. There were several groups of walkers and a couple of cyclists, and the chap in this picture. All in all he may have seen 20 people in 2.5 hours.

In the background Bury Hill fills the centre of the picture, behind that the Arun Valley nestles out of site and flooded by the heavy rain.

The Gumber

This spot seemed familiar. The Gorse Fox walked this area last year.

This is a junction of several paths, the Monarch's Way coincides with the Roman Stane Street. Gorse Fox was about to turn north-east and follow them up towards the South Downs Way.

Damp under foot

The Gorse Fox has explained that there was a lot of overnight rain. By the time he intercepted the Monarch's Way, it was little damp under foot.

Deer

Leaving Upwaltham, the route now led back up past Combe Bottom toward Upwaltham Hill. The Gorse Fox arrived at the start of the path at the same time as a couple of fellow ramblers. We passed pleasantries, and GF said he was heading the same way... but slowly.

Actually, in comparison to them, he leapt gazelle like up the steep climb, with the sure-footedness of a mountain goat and the elegance of a mountain walrus.

At the top the pounding of his heart disturbed a deer that set off at speed through the woods. GF just managed to capture its image as it disappeared. (For clarification that's disappeared from view, as opposed to a puff of smoke - it wasn't a magic deer).

Upwaltham Church

Again using his new friend, gravity, to assist the descent, the Gorse Fox picked his way down from North Down.

The overnight rain had made the path slippery, but GF made it to the bottom without incident.

At the bottom he passed the charming little church behind Upwaltham Farm. According to West Sussex County Council:
"This is a small 12th century drovers' church with the unusual shape of a rounded chancel and it nestles in the picturesque South Downs. The west window and single lights in the apse are 14th century. There is a full set of chandeliers and a bellcote at the west end."

For more information there is "Corpus of Romanesque Sculpture in Britain and Ireland"

The Gorse Fox thought it was just charming.

Lunch and then onwards

The Gorse Fox stopped at Tegleaze Post by Stickingspit Bottom for a brief rest and a snack. A pasty was extracted from deep within the backpack, and a few dried apricots fished out of a pocket. Sparkling water was opened, and the feast began. (GF would point out that even though this is Sussex, he didn't bother with a table or candelabra, and he had to carry his own food as his trusted family retainer refuses to agree that such walks are part of his duties)

After about 10 minutes all was well and he set off to loop back through Crown Tegleaze towards North Down. He was intrigued, as he marched through the woods, to see this contraption. A ladder to a seat which is attached to the tree, about 12 feet up the trunk... not sure what it's for, but would hazard a guess that it is for hunting deer (there were deer tracks in the wood, but no sign of their nests up in the branches).

Northern Scarp

The view back to the east from Littleton Down (just above Warren Bottom) showed the north face of the escarpment stretching off towards the horizon.

At this range there were insufficient visible landmarks to be able to identify the various outcrops.

Looking back

Having gratefully made use of gravity to assist his descent, the Gorse Fox crossed the A285 by Littleton Farm and started the climb up towards Littleton Down. (Thinks to self: if it's called Littletown Down, why was he climbing up to it).

Looking back the Gorse Fox could see the path that he had just travelled, the photo stop being an ideal excuse to catch his breath on the ascent.

Gravity

Just after Littleton End the South Downs Way plunges down into a valley, and then back up the other side.

GF is really pleased with this photo, showing the path disappearing from view, the Littleton Farm in the valley below, and then the route up to the crown of the next hill.

It was at this point that GF realised that whilst fairly short, this walk was going to be a little challenging. He had to over the hill in front then loop back down into the valley and back on the Downs. Gravity is a great consolation when you are traversing a gentle descent, but can be an absolute devil when you're heading up a slippery chalk path.

Fringe

The route continued and the Gorse Fox was getting warm, the clouds provided plenty of sun and plenty of cover, the breeze was pleasant and the temperature hovered around 12c.

Picking his way along the path between Scothcher's Bottom and Westwood Bottom (which, though out of sight, was probably very fashionable), the Gorse Fox peered through this fringe of trees to the Downs stretching away to the north west. As best he can tell, the hill in the centre background is Woolavington Down.

Glatting looking South

Crossing Glatting Down, the view opened up to the south.

The field in the foreground giving way to a small coppice, the roll of the Downs providing a backdrop with a tree line that appears to be receding (comb-overs are so complex for hills), and then the coastal plain giving way to the sea in the background.

Walking from Bignor

After heavy overnight rain, Saturday dawned bright and sunny. Yesterday's walk had got the juices flowing, and with the Silver Vixen out for the day at a quilting exhibition in Selsey, the Gorse Fox thought another walk was called for.

The route started at a car park (far right of map) at the top of the Downs, near Bignor. (Driving through Bignor, turn left at Jay's Farm and follow the single track road to the top). The route then cycled anti-clockwise passing Glatting Beacon, crossing Burton Down, Sutton Down, Scotchers Bottom and down to Littleton Farm before climbing up to Stickingspit Bottom at the top left hand side of the map. From there it wound back through Crown Tegleaze, down to Upwaltham, and then back up past Coombe Bottom to Upwaltham Hill. From the hill it headed due east to a point where it intersected the Monarch's Way, where it turned north-east back to meet the South Downs Way and the car park.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Stanmer Circuit, Complete

That was it. Another walk complete.

Nothing too strenuous...
9.5 miles
Reaching a height of 795 feet
and plunging to a low point of 216 feet
with a total ascent of 1006 feet.

Overall it was a good route, somewhat marred by the stretch along the A27.

Full circle

Gorse Fox had come full circle as he wandered back into the village of Stanmer.

Stanmer seems idyllic. Nestling in the Downs, close to Brighton, but almost cut-off.

The rain was still in abeyance, but the best of the day was long gone. The walk had been very relaxing (even if the noise of the A27 traffic drowned the sound of the GF's heart pounding as he walked up the hill).

Illusion

The route wound down close behind the Chattri Monument toward the A27 at Patcham. Then it turned east and followed a footpath within yards of the trunk road back up towards the Ditchling Road.

The illusion of peace that is rendered by this picture (the white dot of the Chattri Monument is just right of centre), was rent by the roar of the traffic.

Heading South

Leaving the South Downs Way, Gorse Fox headed south along the Sussex Border Path, one foot in West Sussex, the other in East.

Walking through a field of sheep he noticed a ewe which was seriously lame and kept collapsing onto its knees. Examining the maps he looked for the farm house, but couldn't be sure where to go. So using his inside knowledge he decided to call the Animal Welfare desk... but could only remember the number of the one at Worcester. Fortunately, they agreed that GF was right to report it, and secondly gave him the number of the Reigate office. He was just starting to dial when a huge tractor came over the brow of the hill. GF waved down the farmer and pointed out the problem. He said he'd report it immediately to his shepherd.

Job done, the walk continued. That stiff breeze had blown in a bank of grey cloud that now blanketed the route back towards the car. A few rain clouds threatened, but GF waved his walking stick(*) at them and they made off.

(*) GF was given a "Leki" Ergonometric Antishock Trekking thing... high-tech walking stick, for his birthday.