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Thursday, November 30, 2006

Just another day

An entralling day of overlapping and shifting meetings finally came to an end about two hours after the GF had planned to get on the road. The journey home was pretty uneventful despite a sevarl crashes, breakdowns and sets of roadworks. The late exit meant that GF missed his council meeting.

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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Over the evening meal tonight we discussed plans for the Christmas get together... which will be at the Indian restaurant in Worcester (well, somehow it seemed seasonal). The question faced by the Gorse Fox, The Abbot, the Don, and other colleagues was "what do you do to an evening at the Indian to make it more Christmassy?".
Suggestions included:
  • Sumo karaoke
  • Onion bhaji ping-pong (using Naans as bats).
  • Dressing up (though the Abbot doesn't have to wait for Christmas to do that)
  • Face painting, and of course
  • Seasonal Tattooing
  • Seasonal body-piercing - this could include the use of Christmas bells
Not sure which of these will be chosen to brighten the meal... but further suggestions are welcomed.
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Gorse Fox must have had some magic mushrooms in his Chinese meal last night. The night was punctuated with weird dreams. Perhaps that most bizarre (and one that will be news to Cousteau-cub, who is away diving in Thailand at present)...

"Silver Vixen arrived (in the dream) and was cross. She was cross because she had had to escort Cousteau-cub home because of her phobia for gloss paint, and that fact that she had painted the inside of her fridge with bright gloss"

Not sure whether Gorse Fox should be more worried about the dream, or the content of the dream! (And, NO, Cousteau-cub does not have a phobia for gloss paint).

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


Long hard day... lots of change whilst the Gorse Fox has been away but sensible change. He's too pooped to be inspired tonight.

Rats Race

Gorse Fox joined the rats in their race again as he swept across country through the monsoon-like rains of the pre-dawn rush.

He would love to say how much pleasure it gives him to be back... but somehow, he suspect, he may not be believed!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Better, more flexible, bigger (or smaller), cheaper

A note in the Gorse Fox's inbox reminded him of this piece of wisdom (acknowledgements to the original author, whoever he/she may be). This is what life might be like for a real architectect if dealing with requests the way we get them in IT:

Dear Mr. Architect:

Please design and build me a house. I am not quite sure of what I need, so you should use your discretion.

My house should have between two and forty-five bedrooms. Just make sure the plans are such that the bedrooms can be easily added or deleted. When you bring the blueprints to me, I will make the final decision of what I want. Also, bring me the cost breakdown for each configuration so that I can arbitrarily pick one.

Keep in mind that the house I ultimately choose must cost less than the one I am currently living in. Make sure, however, that you correct all the deficiencies that exist in my current house (the floor of my kitchen vibrates when I walk across it, and the walls don't have nearly enough insulation in them).

As you design, also keep in mind that I want to keep yearly maintenance costs as low as possible. This should mean the incorporation of extra-cost features like aluminum, vinyl, or composite siding. (If you choose not to specify aluminum, be prepared to explain your decision in detail.)

Please take care that modern design practices and the latest materials are used in construction of the house, as I want it to be a showplace for the most up-to-date ideas and methods. Be alerted, however, that the kitchen should be designed to accommodate, among other things, my 1952 Gibson refrigerator.

To insure that you are building the correct house for our entire family, make certain that you contact each of our children, and also our in-laws. My mother-in-law will have very strong feelings about how the house should be designed, since she visits us at least once a year. Make sure that you weigh all of these options carefully and come to the right decision. I, however, retain the right to overrule any choices that you make.

Please don't bother me with small details right now. Your job is to develop the overall plans for the house: get the big picture. At this time, for example, it is not appropriate to be choosing the color of the carpet. However, keep in mind that my wife likes blue.

Also, do not worry at this time about acquiring the resources to build the house itself. Your first priority is to develop detailed plans and specifications. Once I approve these plans, however, I would expect the house to be under roof within 48 hours.

While you are designing this house specifically for me, keep in mind that sooner or later I will have to sell it to someone else. It therefore should have appeal to a wide variety of potential buyers. Please make sure before you finalize the plans that there is a consensus of the population in my area that they like the features this house has. I advise you to run up and look at my neighbor's house he constructed last year. We like it a great deal. It has many features that we would also like in our new home, particularly the 75-foot swimming pool. With careful engineering, I believe that you can design this into our new house without impacting the final cost.

Please prepare a complete set of blueprints. It is not necessary at this time to do the real design, since they will be used only for construction bids. Be advised, however, that you will be held accountable for any increase of construction costs as a result of later design changes. You must be thrilled to be working on an interesting project such as this! To be able to use the latest techniques and materials and to be given such freedom in your designs is something that can't happen very often.

Contact me as soon as possible with your complete ideas and plans.

Email Avalanche

GF Just logged on after his vacation... 690 emails to wade through. What a relief they are not real mail, he wouldn't be able to get in the door, and he'd have so much wasted paper he could build a bonfire for David Milliband.

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Sunday, November 26, 2006

The Great Philosopher

Gorse Fox notices a quote from The Great Philosopher's newspaper article this morning:

Show me someone who drives slowly and I’ll show you a catastrophic bore. Someone whose life is empty, shallow and pointless. But there’s more to it than that.
They are also deeply unpleasant. Like bell ringers, they wish to
impose their beliefs and their way of life on everyone else. They are
people with an antisocial personality disorder, manifested in amoral
behaviour without empathy or remorse. And that’s the
dictionary-definition of a psychopath.

On form, eh? Well, you may aregue that this assertion cannot be backed up by facts... but Clarkson continues:

The next time someone goes on a random shooting spree, hosing down
innocent men, women and children and then making good his escape,
please do not look for someone driving away at high speed in a flash
car. Look instead for someone in a chocolate-brown Nissan Micra doing

You don’t believe me? Well, think about it: how many racing drivers have been done for murder? None.

And now try to picture Saddam Hussein doing 200mph in a
Koenigsegg. You can’t, can you. Or Michael Ryan, or Robert Mugabe. And
then consider Hitler, whose automotive legacy was the VW Beetle —
absolutely the slowest car in the world.

Remember the M25 murderer Kenneth Noye? Remember what car he
stepped from before he stabbed that kid to death? Was it an M5 BMW?
Nope. It was a diesel-powered Land Rover Discovery, and this proves my
point. Slow drivers — they’re all exceedingly dull and they’re all

Well, he may have problems proving the last bit. However, living in Sussex does make you wonder, and look sideways at all of the hats that seem to be driving slowly in the middle of the roads with an apparent ignorance of all that is going on around them.

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Slide Show

No Gorse Fox is not talking about ice skating.

GF has spent much of the last 24 hours looking at ways he can create satisfactory slide shows of his digital photos on DVD, such that they will show on both PC and TV.

  • Nero barfed at the task
  • Ulead barfed at the task
It looks as if Photodex's Photo Show Gold will do the trick... but does seem to be taking an extraordinary amount of time over a DVD-RW.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Alternative Christmas Fare

"Thinking of Christmas lunch, but tired of the annual culinary blow-out?"

"Tired of Turkey?"

"Tired of Goose?"

How about a low fat alternative. The Gorse Fox found this book on the shelves of a store in Lanzarote. He's not sure how much meat there is on a Canary, but it would point out that the feathers can be used as additional decorations. It is probably the ideal Christmas meal for one, but should you have guests you may need a few. The other advantage is that you can get them from a pet store, so don't have to fight through the supermarkets. Posted by Picasa

Photo completion

The photos have all been inserted into the relevant sequence covering the last week. They start here on the entry for 16th November and work up until now.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Retro posts

There may be some re-shuffling and editing of the mobile posts made during the last week. This is to ensure they appear in the correct chronological order, as opposed to the order in which the mailing system let them through. GF will also add some photos... so do check back again later.
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Home again

After the romance of travel, yesterday, with the concomitant queues, security searches, flight delays (only 1 hour), then the arrival at Gatwick (which is only surpassed by La Guardia in terms of the oppressive and depressive nature of its arrivals facilities) we emerged into the mild night air of Sussex.

We boarded the bus for the Long Term Car Park and observed as passengers (with their brains still in their luggage) boarded and blocked all the passagees and exist, whilst the back of the bus was empty. Once back at the car we were soon on the move and back home where we had an orgy of envelope opening of all the cards that had arrived for the Silver Vixen whilst we were away.

Today, a degree of normality returns... and GF will read a newspaper and watch the news for the first time in over a week (and much to his surprise the world has carried on without his attention).
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Thursday, November 23, 2006

The romance of travel

A quiet morning with the books, on a sun terrace overlooking Fuerteventura seemed like a good start. The airport tanfer was not due till 12:50 so there was time to kill.

We went out to wait for the bus 15 mins early as requested... But it was 15 mins late (as expected). The journey to the airport was delayed by roadworks,but we got there. Then it was the usual heaving throng at check-in and the long queue for security. Finally we were through and able to sit down for a tea... And watch our embarcation times slip.

And they claim there is a romance to travelling.

Tearing yourself away

The Gorse Fox confesses that it is very difficult to tear yourself away from a view like this, knowing that there is a coach to catch, and an airport to struggle through, and a flight home (with your knees up round your ears).

Lanzarote deserves a further visit. It has a nice feel to the Island (certainly in the south) and there are a number of things that we did not get time to explore... and this does seem like the perfect time of year for such adventures. Posted by Picasa

More travellin'

All our bags are packed, we're ready to go...(sounds like the cue for a song). A leisurely midday checkout gives a more relaxed start to the day... before the expected hubbub of the airport.

Quiet time

The afternoon, spent by the pool, was time for reading and a time for musing.

Why is there a sign by the pool, outside the PADI Dive Centre, indicating "No diving"?

Is it accidental that Spanish jewellery shops are called "Joyerias"?

Why is it that the uglier a person is, the more flesh they insist on uncovering?

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Not fade away

This golden sunset seemed like a fitting end to our last full day on Lanzarote. Posted by Picasa


Glorious sunny day... started with a walk to the lighthouse and back. Then decided it was so nice we'd return the car to Avis and walk back along the beach and spend the afternoon by the pool.
Perfect... and somehow so much more fulfilling than an afternoon in Worcester!
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After the walk, and the subsequent return of the hire car, and afternoon by the pool was the order of the day.

It did look rather inviting (though GF confesses the water was a bit chilly). Posted by Picasa

Fresh catch

A small fishing boat chugged along, hugging the coast as it made its way back to port in Playa Blanca.

Its catch would probably be cleaned and gutted on the beach as we had witnessed a few days earlier. Posted by Picasa

Across Playa Blanca

We walked to the lighthouse as it was such a glorious morning. The view back along the promenade was rich in the deep blues of the sea as it lapped the beach with lace-like fronds of surf edgeing the rocks. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


Some emailed posts seem to be going astray... so GF apologizes for any peculiar duplication when they finally turn up. (Aren't Dell keyboards crappy?)

The plan was to hit the the northernmost part of the island. It was a little overcast, but 28C and there was a pleasant, though strong warm wind. We drove up towards Arrecife, then westwards towards Teguise where the route took us north through Haria and Ye. There we turn onto a small track that took us to the Mirador del Rio.

Mirador del Rio was another of Cesar Manriques' designs. He took an old gun emplacement and converted it into a sleek curved rock formation at the top of a high cliff. On entry though the centre of this sweeping curve, you are greeted by a vast panoramic window that opens onto the Atlantic Ocean and the Isla Graciosa across the straits. It is a magical place with the most breathtaking views.

The Gorse Fox & Silver Vixen sat on the upper view platform and watched the view for ages. GF, however, kept getting disturbed by other tourist asking him to take their photo. At first this seemed like a pointless exercise; why would the GF want photos of complete strangers? Then it was made clear the photos were to be taken on their cameras.

From the mirador, we swept round the north coast to Ortoza, a small point at the tip of the island. It was a sleepy little port, from where the ferry leaves for Isla Graciosa, with some stunning views of the nearby cliffs... but little else to keep us interested.

We looped back south and stopped at Puerto Calero for an ice cream, and managed to experienec the worst service GF has had at any restuarant anywhere in the world. Avoid "Lani's" at all costs... unless you have hours to spare. Puerto Calero is a plush marina with some very expensive boats moored and some very nice looking shops. It is also the spot from which the submarine safari leaves. GF had arranged to meet up with Urban-cub & Sir Lancinglot for the Silver Vixen's birthday as they disembarked from the sub.

They came back to the hotel with us and we sat and watched the sun go down from the pool bar, and then made our way along the promenade to find a restaurant where we could have a celebratory meal. We stopped at a German establishment and had a pleasant meal (though no birthday cake). After that the kids got a taxi back to their resort and we had a quiet evening in the hotel.
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Slipping away

As the sun dipped to the horzon, nearby Fuerteventura seemed to melt into the gathering dusk.

It had been a nice afternoon with the U-c & S-L; it was time to finish our drinks and gather our bits and pieces and head out for dinner... the Silver Vixen's birthday needed celebrating. Posted by Picasa

All together now...

"We all live in di da di da di daa..."

This was the submarine that Urban-cub and Sir Lancinglot had been out in. The "safari" lasted about 50 minutes and took them out of the harbour, and down to about 30 metres where they say a number of wrecks and plenty of fish.

Gorse Fox and the Silver Vixen were there to meet them (assuming we ever got any service at the restaurant in which we were sitting). Posted by Picasa

Is there a pulse?

The sleepy comatose harbour at Orzola.

You can get a ferry from here to Isla Graciosa, and also take fishing trips... but there was no sign of any sentient life forms. Posted by Picasa


Orzola is a sleepy port at the northernmost part of the island. It has little to make it stand out as a destination, but does have some magnificent cliffs off to the west. Posted by Picasa


When you arrive at Mirador del Rio, you could be forgiven for being quite unsuspecting of the views you are about to see.

You approach from the east and get no inling of the view that is hidden behind this crescent shaped entry. The volcanic rocks sweep up from ground level to a highpoint at the centre, then fall away again to the far side of the crescent. The entry is obscured but nestles beneath the single circular window that breaks the frontage. Posted by Picasa

Inside Mirador del Rio

Inside the Mirador del Rio, beneath the upper viewing platform is this huge, almost organic, space. The mobiles hanging from the ceiling were made by Cesar Manrique himself, and the huge viewing window affords a panoramic view up and down the coast and across the straits to Isla Graciosa.

The Gorse Fox and Silver Vixen picked a table by the window and sat there gawping (whilst consuming a suitably refreshing beverage of our choice). Posted by Picasa

Precipitous Methinks

The precipitous cliffs cascade down to the narrow plain below. To the north two fangs of rock (well, more like a fang and a molar) stick up from the sea.

The extraordinary shapes, striations and flows within the roack seem to demand study. One rock formation towards the top right, looks like and angry bulldog peering out across the sea. Posted by Picasa


The striations and patterns in the volcanic cone, across the straits, looked almost man-made. It looked as if some of the deeper red tint had been spilled and run part way down the mountain-side. Posted by Picasa

Isla Graciosa

The view from the 475m cliff topped with Mirador del Rio quite took the breath away. Posted by Picasa
Well today is one the most auspicious days in the calendar. It was this day, more than 30 years ago (some would say, lost in the mists of time) that the Silver Vixen first appeared on this earth.

Happy Birthday
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Monday, November 20, 2006

Quiet end

We had a quiet end to the day, sitting by the pool and watching the sun drop low in the sky. Posted by Picasa


Monday and it was again overcast, about 26C but the air was thick, and visibility limited to a few miles. The Gorse Fox and Silver Vixen decided that trip to Lanzarote had to include The Timanfaya National Park, and Mantanas del Fuego.

Driving up from the resort lead us via Yaiza and the west towards the lava fields and volcanic cones. Entering the Park the road weaves through the grotesque shapes of the rocks that were hurled up from the earth's crust and up to a point where the car must be left and the journey continued on coaches. This environment is jealously protected, and rightly so.

The coach led us on a circuitous 14km journey past the fumeroles, craters, lava flows and fields of ash and ejecta. This tortured, nightmare landscape looked as if it could have been conceived by the brush of Bosch, yet held a strange and fascinating beauty. Photos were limited by the coach windows but GF looks forward to reviewing them once home.

Back at the terminous they showed how hot the ground was still, as just beneath the surface bracken hurled into a hole burst into flame, water dropped into tube created an instant geyser, and a huge open pit was being used to cook a rack of chickens. Certainly you could feel the heat emanating from the walls, the holes, and even the gravel.

Great spot and well worth the visit.

Quiet afternoon reading and sewing by the pool. (for the avoidance of confusion, Gorse Fox was the one reading)

What to do with Chicken

This BBQ pit is just a hole in the ground with a wall built around it and a rack on the top. A few metres below the surface the temperature is incredible.

As the Gorse Fox tried to peer over the wafts of hot air forced him back. The temperature of the BBQ is said to be 300C... not bad considering they've no charcoal! Posted by Picasa

Geothermal heating

This paltform was cut into the rock. The walls were hot to the touch and gravel picked from within the walls was handed out by the ranger... who smiled as people tossed the hot dust away.

This pit had been excavated a few feet down, and bracken thrown into the pit just burst into flames. Posted by Picasa

Crater Expectation

A study in craters.

At the top left a large crater is still largely intact with its gentle red slopes sweeping down to the plain.

Just right of centre, however there is the collapsed crater of a small volcanic cone. Posted by Picasa

Montanas del Fuego

Timanfaya National Park isn't just one volcano... it encompases the "mountains of fire", a whole range of volcanic cones and gas vents that litter the western side of the island. Posted by Picasa

Mille feuilles

The road had been cut through the lava and ash fields, and had left a view of the many layers of detritus that had been ejected by the volcano. Posted by Picasa


Here and there gas had vented through the hot lava, forcing it up into small conical chimneys that had partially collapsed in on themselves over the years. Posted by Picasa


Entering Timafaya National Park you drive across a desolate landscape, black with the detritus ejected from the volcano.

Here and there shattered rocks seem to claw their way through the surface like drowning men gasping a last breath.

This was an awesome place. Posted by Picasa

Just thinking

The entertainment staff at the hotel all wear yellow t-shirts with "Animacion" emblazoned across the back. This is obviously the Spanish word for "activities" or something similar. (The Spanish seem to have their own words for most things... Most inconsiderate*)

Anyway this "Animacion" seems more like Cartoon characters rather than entertainment. This would be fine if the staff all looked like Jessica Rabbit, but somehow Wile E Coyote seems more appropriate... And you should see the men!

*With apologies to Steve Martin

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Jameos del Agua

Eventually we decided we had seen all there was to see and headed back to the car where we set the human SatNav to direct us to Jameos del Agua on the north eastern side of the Island.

Jameos del Agua is a part of the 7km volcanic tube that resulted from the shrinking of a lava flow that ran out under the Atlantic. Now the top of the tube has collapsed in several places and Cesar Manrique has developed the space into a work of art. We must have spent a couple of hours wandering through the chambers, past the lagoon, and on into the lush gardens and volcanic exhibits. Well worth the entrance fee. (Pictures to follow !)

Dropping the newly-weds back at their hotel we headed back to the south coast and looked back on an excellent way to spend an overcast day.
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Looking back, from ground level, into the sunken garden and pool.

The upper level is occupied by a museum that is dedicated to the sciences surrounding the study of volcanoes, of geology, and of the measurement of ground deformation (perhaps indicating volcanic activity).

It was said that the tools used to measure ground deformation are so accurate that from Barcelona you could measure a deformation in Granada as small as a 1 Euro coin. So if you ever mislay your change when in Granada, there's a chap in Barcelona who can probably help you find it. Posted by Picasa


Gorse Fox loved the striations in this rock.

Imagine the heat it took to melt these various chunks of rock and get them to flow together like this before cooling and congealing into these intricate whorls and folds. Posted by Picasa