Pool Prep part 3

When we first pulled off the cover, it was very green…. but a week and some helpful chemicals later, it is deep inviting blue.   The clarity is not quite there, particularly at the deep end, but it was good enough for us to swim, both days, at the weekend.

The water remains cold, but we moved it up from 16C to 20C on Sunday and as of this evening it is 22C.

Here’s hoping the warm weather lasts until next weekend.   Four perfect weekends in a row would be fabulous.

Donkey business

A young man named Gordon bought a donkey from an old farmer for £100.00.

The farmer agreed to deliver the donkey the next day, but when the farmer drove up he said, “Sorry son, but I have some bad news… the donkey is on my truck, but unfortunately he’s dead.”

Gordon replied, “Well then, just give me my money back.”

The farmer said, “I can’t do that, because I’ve spent it already.”

Gordon said, “OK then, well just unload the donkey anyway.”

The farmer asked, “What are you going to do with him?” ”

Gordon answered, “I’m going to raffle him off.”

To which the farmer exclaimed, “Surely you can’t raffle off a dead donkey!”

But Gordon, with a wicked smile on his face said, “Of course I can, you watch me. I just won’t bother to tell anybody that he’s dead.”

A month later the farmer met up with Gordon and asked, “What happened with that dead donkey?”

Gordon said, “I raffled him off, sold 500 tickets at two pounds a piece, and made a huge, fat profit!!”

Totally amazed, the farmer asked, “Didn’t anyone complain that you had stolen their money because you lied about the donkey being dead?”

To which Gordon replied, “The only guy who found out about the donkey being dead was the raffle winner when he came to claim his prize. So I gave him his £2 raffle ticket money back plus an extra £200, which as you know is double the going rate for a donkey, so he thought I was great guy!!

Gordon grew up and eventually became the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and no matter how many times he lied, or how much money he stole from the voters, as long as he gave them back some of the stolen money, most of them, unfortunately, still thought he was a great guy.

The moral of this story is that, if you think Gordon is about to play fair and do something for the everyday people of the country for once in his miserable life, think again, because you’ll be better off flogging a dead donkey.

Perfect Wine Glass

This weekends fabulous weather allowed us to enjoy every meal outside on the terrace – and I can’t recall when we last did that, in Hong Kong, or here in the UK.

Needless to say, each meal was accompanied by a variety of wines and on Sunday the talk turned to the perfect wine glass.   Those in the know favour Riedel – the shape of the glass really does make a difference to how it tastes – but as long as said receptacle is of sufficient size to accommodate the wine and room for it to breath I’m usually happy.

The perfect wine glass was proposed – I think by the Fisherman – as a glass with a bottle for a stem… and Shivs found the photo:


Pool prep part 2

Progress.   Deep Blue pools arrived early on Saturday morning and worked their chemical magic on the pool.    The pH was spot on, chlorine high and algae quite bad.   Treatment was ‘shocking, floccing and vaccing’.

First, a heavy dose of hydrochloric acid (no kidding) to kill the bugs followed by floccing with Aluminium sulphate which combines with the dead algae and drags them to the bottom where they can, after settling out, be vaccuumed away to waste.

The results were pretty dramatic as by Sunday eve I could vac the pool and remove all the dead leaves from the bottom of the deep end as well as most of the sediment.

By now it should have improved further and be ready for the weekend…. here’s hoping for more of that glorious weather.

Finally, we’ve ordered a new solar cover – the old one was completely stuffed – which should be delivered in a couple of weeks.   Can’t wait for the first dip.

Pool Prep part 1

Summer is almost upon us and with the stunning weather last weekend it was time to open up the pool.   Over the winter it has been ‘winterised’ with a cover and some chemicals but, as you can see from the pic, it has gone rather green.   I had the pumps working on Saturday, but will leave it for the pro’s this weekend to restore it to it’s former blue glory.  Hopefully I’ll have a better picture by next week….

In the meantime I’ve pressure washed the patio with help from Ash and Bennet has reset a few tiles that were loose.   All we need now is for global warming to keep bringing us the hot weather.

Life on Mars – a cult hit

It took 7 years to get the series made and against all the odds it has been a huge hit for the Beeb.   For those who haven’t heard it is the story of a police officer, Sam Tyler who, after a hit and run accident, finds himself in 1973.   While struggling to understand whether he is in a coma, mad, or has gone back in time he joins the CID team lead by DCI Hunt.

Philip Glenister
Hunt is a solidly ‘unreconstructed’ ’70’s man.   His blunt speaking leaves no room for ambiguity (“Don’t move – you are surrounded by armed bastards”). He cuts through Tyler’s 21st-century, politically correct pseudo-babble to expose the nonsense we can end up speaking (Tyler: “I think we need to explore the chance this was a hate crime.” Hunt: “What? As opposed to one of those ”I really, really like you murders?”).

When accused of being an “overweight, over-the-hill, nicotine-stained, borderline-alcoholic homophobe with a superiority complex and an unhealthy obsession with male bonding”, he retorts: “You make that sound like a bad thing.”

Famous for his one liners (”She was as nervous as a very small nun at a penguin shoot”) practically everying he says is either homophobic, racist, sexist or politically incorrect.   And as an antidote to the environment we live in today, it is refreshing.   Witness the exchange between Hunt, Tyler and WDC Annie Cartwright:

Hunt:  ‘Oi, Flash knickers, mines a coffee, two sugars’

Tyler:  ‘You can’t speak to a woman police officer like that, she’s a detective’

Hunt:  ‘Well luv, see if you can detect me a garibaldi to go with my coffee’

So how did they get away with reprising The Sweeney in 2007?   The secret was Tyler.   He is the moral guardian of our 21st century sensibilities, regularly reprimanding his boss; they squabble like an old married couple.

And the other reason is that Hunt has personal qualities that are, thankfully, still held in high regard.  In a world of short-term contracts, job insecurity and portfolio careers, Hunt’s undying loyalty to his squad (even while rabidly insulting them) make us wistful for a time gone by when you had a job (and colleagues) for life.   And plain speaking was en vogue.


Kenneth Farrow, who died in Cardiff on Friday aged 82, was awarded the George Cross for his gallantry when as a young policeman he jumped into fast flowing water in an attempt to save a four-year-old boy from drowning in 1948.

Tam Brown, of Tayside Fire Brigade who dived into the River Tay last month to save a drowning woman may be disciplined because he disregarded safety rules when there was “no statutory obligation to carry out rescues from moving water.”

The 42-year old’s actions breach fire service rules which don’t allow firefighters to enter the water to rescue drowning victims.

Both Brown and his watch manager, who agreed he should go in, are the subject of an investigation.

Somewhere between then and now we’ve got our values and priorities all mixed up but, thankfully, rules and regulations are no barriers to heroes.

Whistler reprised

Back home after our ski trip I’ve downloaded my photos… had to share a few… starting with this one.    Taken with my new camera – an impulse purchase at Heathrow – a new Casio Exilim 7.3 megapixel to replace my ancient old 2 mp which has done very well, but whose battery life is now probibitively short.

The new one has fabulous image quality, but I’ve had to reduce it here for space reasons.. files are otherwise 5.5MB each and take far too long to load on a website.

This shot is taken from the top of Whistler mountain on the Burnt Stew Trail looking back into Garibaldi National Park above Singing Pass.  Spectacular scenery indeed.

Whistler Rest day

We’ve had a spendid few days here and the conditions continue to be good… although we’re now firmly into spring skiing from the -15C of Tuesday to 1C now… how the weather changes in the mountains!

Village temps of -5C a couple of days ago are now up to 11C and it is T shirt weather.   All very nice.. but what is it doing to the snow??   The freezing level is up to 2,700m which is really too high.   Luckily the base is still huge, but the top will be going sugary.   Just have to head high.

Tuesday we skiid Whistler and it was one of my better days.. the turns came together very well and I felt comfortable on my X-Wing Blast Salomons which I think are the best ski’s I’ve hired and certainly a step up from the X-Screams of last year.   Or perhaps it was skiing in the sunshine that made all the difference!

Yesterday we went up Blackcomb and as usual the curse of flat light – but at least no fog – conspired to make me uneasy, sit back and ski badly.   I’ve loosened my boots a little as they were too tight and I was losing circuation and this has helped.

Whistler has continued to expand and has added access to a bowl previously only available to experts and hikers: Symphony.   The new lift is excelllent and the runs are a mix of open piste, off piste bowl and gladed runs towards the bottom.   The only downside is that it is a long way from Symphony back to Harmony and then over to Whisky Jack for lunch.   It is high though and I expect we will be skiing this for much of the rest of the holiday.

Toolkit went Heli Skiing yesterday and had a fabulous time and most of us are taking a rest day today as 5 days in a row at our age is just too tiring.    More tomorrow.

Whistler – we’re here

If ever there was a strong sense of deja vu then this is it.   Probably because we are back in the same house for the third year in a row, with (mostly) the same crowd.

Along with the usual family gathering of Noodle, Electric Pete and Toolkit Tim although Brixton Boy is not here this year as he’s on his Beers of the World Tour.   Blenda and co are here from Hong Kong and Captain Colin arrived last night.

Saturday was a slow one for most as we’d arrived quite late and Shivs and Blenda stayed up most of the night and tried to drink all the wine.   They weren’t first out of the traps in the morning so, as usual, it was Toolkit, Pete and me who were dressed and off to the mountain for some turns.

KLM had decided not to send Tim’s boots with him and the rest of his luggage, so he had to hire boots and once were were ready it was on the Fitzimmons Express and away we went.

A stunning day in the sun with good skiing above the Emerald and Red chairs and a bit icy / skiid off below.

Skiing high, round-up of the ski season

Yesterday was not as nice – it was snowing and windy… but net result was at least another 3 in of snow, which will refresh the top.

The kids start their ski camp today so we are up early (06.30and ready to go…. so much for a holiday!