All your datas is belong to us.

Flaneur, Flâneur. I do like a nice flan.

23/10/2020.  One thing leads to another.

I was working in London last Summer and was determined to go out and explore places in the evenings.  One of the places was Hampstead Heath.  I had no idea it was so massive and more or less got lost in it for a while.  That was sort of anticipated though, so it wasn't a problem.  My aim was to come in one gate, walk around in no particular direction, go out another gate and see what I found.  Finding that other gate took a little longer than I had expected.  Looking at it on a map now I see that I came in the gate beside Hampstead Heath London Overground station, up by the bathing ponds and back out at the gate beside Gospel Oak station.

Another evening I went to Greenwich.  Actually I went to Island Gardens DLR station and walked under the Thames through the Greenwich Foot Tunnel.  This was the real purpose for heading to that part of London and has been on my list for years, simply because it's there.  I can now tick "walk under a river" off my list.

One of my less successful (until now) walks was down to the end of the docklands area.  Gallions Reach sounded like an interesting place (based entirely on the name and nothing else) so I took the DLR down that way, got off and went for a wander.  I expected I would find something interesting if I kept walking.  Sadly I was wrong.  The only things I saw were blackberry bushes, a road (Armada Way) leading to a retail park, a giant logistics warehouse and a transport depot.  I knew I would get to the retail park eventually if I kept walking, but as destinations go a retail park isn't exactly exciting.  It would be quite possible I would get there and end up coming straight back again.  It's not like I was out for a shop.  I eventually gave up and got a bus back to where I came from.

Last week I saw a YouTube video which talked about Kubrick shooting Full Metal Jacket on location in London.  The place name that was mentioned rang a bell - Beckton gas works.  When I looked it up it turns out that my walk along Armada Way brought me to (actually through) the site of the old gas works.  It looks like almost all of the gas works buildings are gone at this stage, but if you look at a satellite view of this location you can see the footprint of the old gas storage tanks.

Next time I'm in London (which could be quite some time from now with the way travel restrictions are going) I will head back to the same area for further explorations but I think I will head south from Gallions Reach DLR stop instead.    It looks like you can walk across the two locks that originally formed the entrance to the main basin areas that formed a large part of the old London docks.  There should be something interesting to see down there.

Coming at you from 2002

26/06/2020.  Back in my day.

I thought that some of my earliest blogs from the late 90s were available on The Archive Machine, but when I went to check just now it looks like the first meaningful one is from 2002.

I know I wrote earlier ones because I was called in to my managers office some time in 1998 to discuss some stuff I had posted on it.  I remember the time fondly.  Hand crafted HTML with just the important stuff included.  CSS didn't exist back then.  As far as I can remember the particular blog in 1998 was commenting about how 5 years after long file names were introduced with NTFS, a Microsoft enterprise product that I was working with couldn't handle spaces in the install path.  I think it was that, or else it really didn't like being installed to D:, even though it gave you a choice where to install it.

Here's the earliest one I can find for the moment.  Damnit, I can't remember (yet) how to link to another article in Contao.  I guess that's next.


A blast from the past

29/11/2002.  My god, it's full of . . . people.

So, 8 weeks later I get around to posting the first update. I'm not sure what to write since it's all old news by now, but I guess a quick summary of what has happened so far might be in order.

We set off from Dublin airport on October 1st, spent two weeks in Japan and then flew to New Zealand and spent the next 6 weeks touring around there. We are now facing the hard part of the trip - getting a job and finding somewhere to live.

Some of the best bits so far have included much of Japan even though it was very tiring and hard going, also walking with the tweenies up to the face of a glacier. Some of the worst bits have included side-swiping the camper off a bollard in a petrol station and being told that our excess luggage was going to cost us something like EUR3,000. We eventually wangled it down to EUR400 or so.

Japan wasn't as expensive as we had been expecting - it was perfectly possible to eat in a restaurant for the equivalent of EUR6 for lunch. This is due to the huge number of noodle bars and tonkatsu (deep-fried pork) joints in central Tokyo. We ate out almost all the time and rarely had to pay more than we would pay at home for lunch. In fact, when I think about it, I'm not sure that I could get lunch anywhere at home for that price.

There is much good value to be had in Japan, and one thing that is very usefull to remember is the luggage delivery service which is offered certainly at Narita and presumably also at Kansai and the internal airports. When you remember that the mass transit systems in Japan aren't really designed for transporting luggage this makes even more sense. This appears to be a little secret that the Japanese keep to themselves by the cunning trick of not publicising it in any language other than Japanese. We sent our two heaviest bags direct to the last hotel we were going to visit in Japan, having packed them with stuff we knew we weren't going to need until New Zealand. Cost something like EUR15 or so per bag. A real bargain, considering that one of the bags weighed over 40kg and the second one wasn't far off. Of course it helps to notify the hotel that you are sending stuff ahead so they don't blow your bags up or refuse to accept them. We also sent two small bags to the apartment we were staying in for the first few nights. Same cost, even thought the two small ones were going to Tokyo and the two huge ones were going to Osaka. It helps to have your address pre-written, preferably in Japanese as you don't want to have your bags getting lost with a return address 5,000km away. You just go up to the desk, give the people your bags with the address and they give you a receipt while apologising for the fact that it will be an early-next-morning delivery to a different city and handing your children loads of cute Japanese toys.

Did I say the transport systems weren't designed for luggage ? Let me tell you a story about our trip to Haneda airport. This is the 'internal' airport for Tokyo, in that this is the airport which connects Tokyo to the rest of Japan, while Narita serves the connections to the rest of the world. It is served by a handy monorail from Tokyo. We were staying in a ryokan which was two subway stops away from the start of the monorail. Easy, huh ? I don't think so. Even though the monorail is elevated (aren't they all ?), there are *no* lifts in the station, and getting from the ground to the train involves about 4 escalators. Remember, this is an airport connection. People (well, the non-Japanese) bring luggage to airports. Lifts are a handy way of getting your luggage from the ground floor up to the train. Still with me. It seems like a crazy way to design an airport connection, until you remember that the Japanese all use the luggage delivery services I wrote about above. They don't carry their bags with them, so it's not an issue.

I said above that we stayed in a ryokan in Tokyo. It was an interesting experience, and certainly one which is worth a try. A ryokan is basically the Japanese equivalent of a business hotel in that it is (was) where Japanese people who were on the road would stay for a night. It provides a bed, a shared bathroom and possibly shared breakfast in the morning. And that's it. No frills, but you don't need frills. Some of the travel books talk about the rules and regulations which must be followed when staying at a ryokan, but in my experience the standard ones for any Japanese building apply - take your shoes off at the entrance and do what the momma-san says. One of our big worries was how the paper-thin walls would survive our kids, but this wasn't a problem. Although the room looked pretty it was obviously designed to withstand a certain amount of wear and tear, so this wasn't really a problem. Now, if you were to go to some swish 17th century ryokan with all sorts of royal connections and history I'm sure you would run the risk of doing some damage, but in a regular down-town one don't worry.

One thing to watch out for is the fact that the Japanese have developed a knack of hiding buildings. In many countries around you the world you can see from a distance that this building is a railway station because of the huge train logo on the front and the set of railway tracks going into it. You can see that this building is a department store because of the models and price tags in the windows. Not so in Japan. They seem to hide all sorts of things behind the most peculiar facades. Forget about finding something armed with a map, an address and logic - it just doesn't work here.

It also seems that the Japanese haven't grasped the concept of 'across the road' as in the bus stop you want is across the road. They also haven't got the hang of drawing good maps either. If you are ever trying to follow a Japanese map, make sure you have at least two points of reference that you can relate to before heading off or you will be lost before you know it.

That's enough about Japan for the moment. More later. If anybody wants, they can email me at. If you don't know my name then I hope you found this interesting, but I don't want to encourage spam, so if you send mail to log at the above domain I will get it eventually.

Hope all is well at home and regards to everyone out there.

Say Hello, Wave Goodbye

26/06/2020. Kajagoogoo.

Right now Spotify is playing "Say Hello, Wave Goodbye" by Soft Cell.  It's bringing me right back to the 1980s and all the good music back then.  I haven't fully worked out how to use Spotify properly even though I've had it for over a year.  Typically a song or singer comes to mind, I key it in to Spotify and then just take it from there.  Once that plays out I end up with a playlist.  In this case it's Yazoo Radio with plenty of good stuff.

This is my nth blog

26/06/2020. This is my nth blog.

Contao really confuses me.  I know it's a very good CMS as I've used it for another site before, but it's taking me a bit more effort than I had hoped to get back into it.

What caught me out for a while (before getting to this stage) was that creating an article isn't enough to start posting content.  You need to create the article and then click "Save and Edit".

That adds an element to the Article.  In this case the element is "Text" and this is the text.

I'm going to save it now before something strange happens.

I was going to add an image using the "add an image" button but the file chooser dialog that opened was not the one I was hoping for.  Instead pretend this text is a picture of the character N -


The character sort of is a picture though isn't it.