Wednesday, 25 March 2009

I thought you might to see some photos of our trip

Last Monday we set off bright and early, first stop the kennels so that Murphy and Bella could enjoy a few days of pampering and then off down the M6 heading south.  It was such a lovely day that we had a long lunch stop in Somerset along the way and it was at that point that we discovered a) Murphy's pain killers had fallen out of his bag and were sitting accusingly in the boot of the car and b) my camera was sitting on the kitchen table at home! A frantic call from the kennels sorted the medicine issue (they arranged with our lovely Vet to collect a new prescription that afternoon) and I set off to buy a disposable camera to record the trip.

This was our cabin on the lake - and very pretty it was too

If you peer very closely you might just spot Dave's friends calling for their breakfast (remember these pics were taken with a disposable camera!)

Afternoon tea on the beach at Lyme Regis - I told you the weather was great

There was a lovely pub on the quayside at Weymouth harbour and it would have been rude not to stop for a drink.

Fossil hunting on Chesil Beach - didn't find any, hey, I could have lied and said that we'd discovered a new dinosaur bone never before seen by man! (I'm too honest for my own good sometimes)

Monday, 23 March 2009

Two Go Daft in Dorset

To celebrate Dave finishing his contract in London, we took ourselves away for a few days down to Dorset.  

We had been considering booking a cheap flight out to the Canary Islands to spend the days lying around on the beach to get some colour back into our pale Celtic skin, but quite honestly I couldn't stand the thought of paying out good money to stay in an apartment complex where the kitchen is a two ring Belling cooker with a dodgy plug and a frayed lead. OK I know that times have changed and standards have improved over the years but when funds were limited and the kids were still young enough to want an early dinner and a nap before their wicked parents dragged them back out to a rustic traditional eaterie that welcomed little munchkins who thought that taramasalata should be worn as well as eaten, we stayed in some pretty ropey apartements.  Not that this spoilt our fun, we had some brilliant holidays when they were babies but there did come a time when we realised that if we took them camping in Europe then we could get a lot more for our money and they would have far more freedom then they ever would have in a small apartment with very little outside space.

Now we might be a bit older (just a little bit!) and the chicks have flown the nest but Dave and I still enjoy the freedom that camping gives you, the only problem is, the weather in March is so changable, you have to be pretty hardy (or fool hardy) to go camping even as far south as Dorset at this time of the year.  As it happens we had brilliant weather last week, the sun shone every day and, out of the wind, it was positivly balmy but being the wimps we are, rather than risk gales and heavy rain ruining our trip we decided to leave the camper van at home and rent a cabin down by the coast. 

We stayed on a holiday park (think Centre Parks without the subtropical swimming paradise) and had found that we were staying in log cabin on a little island set in the middle of a lake. There was only one other cabin on the island and we rarely saw our neighbours but Dave was adopted by some very confident wild fowl who came tapping on the kitchen door each morning and wouldn't go away until he gave them a breakfast of wholemeal bread loving torn into bite sized chucks by his own fair hands. 

Our days were spent exploring the villages and coast line of Dorset and in the evening we ate good food, drank lots of wine and snuggled down in front of the fire (only a flame effect electric jobby but who's complaining) where Dave tried to teach me how to do a cryptic crossword rather than the usual general knowledge take a wild guess at it type that I usually choose to do.

So no wild parties or late nights propping up a Spanish bar but for us it was the perfect break and now we are home, batteries charged and ready to face the next chapter....

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

I've had visitors bearing gifts

True to their word, our local Fire Brigade (are they still called a Brigade, or should we be calling them a Service?) sent two Fire Fighters to check out our fire safety awareness and fire alarms this morning.  

Well I'm not sure if they were Fire Fighters,  they could have been ex-Fighters who now have the dubious pleasure of going house to house fitting fire alarms for those of us who lost their temper with the last smoke alarm because the bloody thing used to deafen any one walking within a five mile radius of our kitchen  if I so much as boiled a kettle!

Suitably chastened and now the proud owner of two spanking new fire alarms that don't even need batteries (how does that work?) I am now trying to find a way of fitting the child gate across the kitchen door in such a  way that I can close the door while I'm cooking so the bloody things don't go off when I'm cooking dinner tonight.  

(The poor Fire Fighter (ex or otherwise) looked very confused when I tried to explain to her that the gate wasn't to keep children out of the kitchen rather to keep the dogs in - she didn't say a word, she just smiled sweetly and hurriedly made her escape)

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Galaxy Zoo 2 ( 2)

I have just finished reading Dr Chris Lintott's very good article about Galaxy Zoo in the September Issue of Physics World  and was struck by some of the testimonials from the contributors to the original survey.  They are intelligent, erudite and informed, just what you would expect from people who are so enthused by astrophysics that they were prepared to spend hours in front of the computers classifying distant galaxies, or is it?  

I think that the scientists might be missing a trick, after all here we have 10's of thousands of people all involved in one gigantic research project and nobody is asking who they are or why there are there.  With a small well worded 'give us a few details about yourself' intro for new classifiers, scientists could have a potential database of information about people who are prepared to spend time on this fascinating project.  

OK I hear you ask, why would a Physicist be remotely interested in the kinds of people doing the classifying?  Well for a start, the data could be used to influence how Physics is taught in schools.  I'm sure that I'm not the only classifier whose experience of Physics in school was a lesson in total bafflement - though in my defence our Physics teacher did run off with a girl in the Lower Sixth the year I was due to sit my O level and the supply teacher our school managed to find at short notice was worse than useless.

I would be fascinated to know who is doing all this classifying, are the majority scientists?  Or are they people who really enjoyed science in school but never had the opportunity to take their interest any further than buying a cheap telescope for their kids? Or are they one of the hundreds of amateur astronomists around the country for whom an interest has become a passion? Or are they like me? 

My son is a Physicist, my daughter a Mathematician and my husband is a Banker while I am just a dreamer.  I look at the galaxies presented to me and stare in awe and wonder at them.  I'm blown away by the colours and shapes and get foolishly excited when I see something that I don't expect to see.  I don't have a telescope or know the name of the constellations (apart from Orion's Belt) and I've literally fallen out of my chair trying to spot shooting stars (we were camping in France and Dave and the kids were getting excited watching a meteor shower but by the time they had shouted  'look at that Mum' the damn thing had passed over and I had to crane  my neck so far back I fell out of the chair)

The only astronomy I do is when I'm walking the dogs. I once got  so excited when I spotted Venus that I fell up the kerb!  But I love being a part of Galaxy Zoo 2 and take my role very seriously. I honestly believe that us dreamers have something to give to the scientific community even if it is only enthusiasm and not a thirst for greater knowledge or understanding of the solar systems.  I just want to keep looking at the sky and dreaming and what's so wrong with that?