Monthly Archives: December 2010

I’m Posting Every Day In 2011

WordPress have started a Daily Post blog and I like the sound of it, similar to the many Flickr 365 days projects. With an unknown quantity of time on my hands, this could be quite a challenge. I am in resolute 2011 mode, however, so I will do my best.

Resolution 1: I will be posting on this blog once a day for all of 2011.

I know it won’t be easy, but it might be fun, inspiring, awesome and wonderful. Therefore I’m promising to make use of The DailyPost, and the community of other bloggers with similiar goals, to help me along the way, including asking for help when I need it and encouraging others when I can.

If you already read my blog, I hope you’ll encourage me.



Reflecting the records offices

Keeping on track, just like the records offices


Reflected In Bordeaux Quay

Reflecting me in the Bordeaux Quay menu

2010, A Recollection

Big Chill on New Year’s Eve and Wagamama‘s the day after to recover; running, knee pains, snow, moving from Bristol to Bristol. Slippery sidewalks, Everybody’s Fine, Bella Italia, Mark Kermode and Flinty Red, no El Puerto. Bath half marathon at a slow 2:23 but 13 miles done; no Valentines but one graduation at the Marketplace; ale and chocolate tasting at the Grain Barge; Brussels and blogging, the Adam and Eve and 26.2 miles around London; no coffee for Lent, no alcohol with training; Japanese movies at the Arnolfini; The Academy for Passion Pit and Thekla for Two Door Cinema Club and Blood Red Shoes; Alphabeat at Fiddlers, Thai Classic at Whiteladies and the Leaders’ Debate. Still waiting for Treme to be shown.

Beautiful night with Vashti Bunyan and the Cedar at St George’s and a great disappointment at the Old Vic with Romeo and Her Juliet. Kings of Pastry, the Hope and Anchor, the Big Cheese Taste Off – what could they possibly have been thinking with cider, beer and wine – and the last hangover of 2010; Brandon Hill with a view of orange lights and a scene never as amazing as I think it will be. Stokes Croft Streetfest, Bath Coffee Festival, a night in London and the last coffee of 2010. Moroccan peppermint tea at Delight and a few dinners at Thali Cafe; potentially a single parent and not many choices but discovering the Harbourside.

A cloudy but spectacular view from St Michael’s Hospital, dim sum at Dynasty, St Paul’s carnival, looking for the perfect pancakes in Bristol. No more running, a friend’s wedding and the bump gets much attention. Hot air balloons and so many restaurants disappearing.

Bristol Half as a spectator and a delightful lunch at Glassboat. The beginning of autumn, Southville Deli and lots of tea, data, transported and baby postings, still unsure about Hooters, a month of novel writing, student protests and working from home, a Good Read at the Old Vic and who would have thought it would be a goodbye for Sue McGregor. Muted celebrations and a subtle mob by the floating harbour, tears and a nose bleed at the Sound of Music, anemia and a new newspaper.

A busy December with the last few days of work, a success at the Old Vic with Swallows and Amazons, antenatal classes, and magical buses around Bristol. The loveliest Christmas and waiting for the new year.

Against a pink sky


Opposing Sides

Opposing Sides

Transported: Out Of The Snow

Talk of the coldest winter in 100 years does not feel right with the temperature at a moderate 8 degrees today but the pavements have been ice-free for only two days. I finished work six days ago and before that I only managed to travel to Cheltenham for five out of the last seven working days. There was to be no public transport for me as a colleague was incredibly helpful and drove me to work and back.

The pavements were icy, the trains were delayed and the buses were not running in Cheltenham on the days I stayed home. I was being extra cautious at eight and a half months pregnant but I would not have risked the lack of buses no matter what state I was in. The snow near work covered the trees and the Cotswolds and settled at two to three inches on the pavements. In contrast, Bristol had little white but made up for it with plenty of ice.

Many experienced an early winter this year and the government commissioned an independent report on the resilience of public transport between the dates 24 November and 9 December. With great interest I noted one of the recommendations on the audit undertaken on how the severe weather was dealt with: “Some parts of the railway were caught out by early snow, […]; the industry’s own review of anti-icing equipment and operations on the third rail network is strongly endorsed;”

The review concluded that one of the worst affected areas was that south of the Thames where the three commuter networks using the ‘third rail’ network faced severe disruptions. One way to improve
railway performance and service to passengers during periods of winter disruption would be to improve the resilience of the third rail.

A little closer to home, most of the South West Rail trains are powered by electricity from the track-level third rail DC electrical system. This low cost system was introduced in the 1920s and 30s and operates just fine when the weather is normal. During freezing temperatures, however, snow and ice can form on the third rail and interfere with the ability of electric trains to draw power.

The Winter Resilience report recommends that the conversion of the third rail network be considered but the cost is high and who is going to pay for it? The Comprehensive Spending Review has implemented fare rises of RPI plus 3%, which could lead to 10% increases each year for three years, starting from 2012. For me that just won’t be affordable and I will have to consider other ways of travel.

Anthony Smith, Passenger Focus chief executive correctly states that “Passengers need to be asked about the balance of the cost of doing this weather-proofing of the railways, against the bill that will increasingly fall on rail users.”

The cost of running the railways is increasingly transferring to the passengers and with costs already running high we are going to have to start behaving like corporations as well. We will need to choose the affordable option even if that includes missing a few days of work. Let us hope that there is some truth to the Met Office’s advice that severe winters have only a 1 in 20 chance, that the weather in any one winter is virtually independent (statistically speaking) of weather in preceding winters, and that this incidence is slowly declining due to global warming. As Smith says: “Would you rather have two or three days of disruption or would you rather pay 10% more for your ticket to ensure it does not happen again? Heating the third rail is going to cost a fortune.”

For some of us paying more is not a viable choice.

Photograph courtesy of Passenger Focus

Winter Resilience Review

Police, Adjective: Reflection

Corneliu Porumboiu’s 2009 Romanian movie is one of the slowest I have ever seen. All done on purpose though and well worth sitting back and sticking with it.

A police officer is asked to follow a young man suspected of dealing drugs (marijuana). When the police officer claims his conscience won’t let him arrest the student he is forced to endure a lecture by his police chief.

This movie is a fascinating look at how a person’s identity can get lost between personal needs and the role he personifies. Dragos Bucur plays Cristi the police officer who spends a lot of time alone, out of sync with his colleagues and his wife. He eats alone, smokes alone, declines to go to meetings and only interacts occasionally with his wife with their conversations invariably being about the semantics of changes in the Romanian language. Meaning is an ever changing thing and the state has institutions which determine grammar.

The film runs for 114 minutes but it doesn’t feel like it. We watch as Cristi stands outside the student’s home. The camera rests on the police officer for over 30 seconds as he waits to see the police chief. We watch him consume a whole meal and then get a beer out of the fridge. Time takes on a different meaning when waiting is all you can do and it’s not hard to feel like the main character.

Police, Adjective was Romania’s official submission to 82nd Academy Award’s Foreign Language in 2010. It also won the Jury Prize at Cannes Film Festival in the Un Certain Regard category, 2009, among strong contenders such as Kynodontas, released under the name Dogtooth in the UK, and Precious.

The Bristol Book Review

The Bristol Review of Books (BRB) is the magazine arm of Bristol Books & Publishers which is an association of 31 Bristol publishers. A group of around 20 came together in 2006 and published the BRB and since then the members have grown in number while the content remains fascinating and has a local flavour.

The latest issue was autumn 2010 and included a feature on Don McCullin, the internationally acclaimed war photographer who has recently published a book on frontiers of the Roman Empire and was celebrating his 75th birthday.

The BBR also supports a short story contest. The 2010 Bristol Short Story Prize was won by Valerie O’Riordan for her stunning and incredibly powerful 350 word story “Mum’s the Word”. Valerie’s triumph was announced at an awards ceremony hosted by the Arnolfini arts centre in Bristol. The Bristol Short Story Prize Anthology Vol 3. is now available to buy and the autumn issue has the story in full.

The magazine contains book reviews and articles all with a Bristolian theme to some extent. The Bristol Book Review is available from local bookshops, libraries and arts venues across the city.

Bristol Review of Books, Unit 5.16 Paintworks, Bath Rd, Bristol BS4 3EH,


Half Lit On St George’s Rd

Half Lit On St George's Rd

Baby: Are You Sure?

34 weeks, four days

The bump measures 35 inches from pelvis to the top and I look more like Humpty Dumpty than ever. I am gaining lots of respect for his sitting on a wall since I can barely get comfortable on the couch these days. I’m growing daily and am meant to be gaining a lb a week in weight – I refuse to weigh myself and figure I will get more interested in that once baby arrives and I start training again.

The baby is arriving soon. There is a five week window of time when the arrival is expected as normal and two weeks beyond my due date I believe that they induce birth. That period of time begins in two and a half weeks and the baby will definitely be born by seven and a half weeks from now at the latest. That doesn’t sound too long to me.

Last night I dreamt that I was in a sporting goods store and wanted some clothes for running in the snow. I was planning to also go skiing and thought I should start seeing a physiotherapist again since my right ankle starts to hurt after about 3kms. Then I remembered I was pregnant.

My maternity leave started on Friday 24 December and people were asking whether I was getting excited. I’m waiting until I set up the cot before I get excited, I would reply. Before that I would say that I’m waiting for maternity leave to start before I start thinking about the baby. I’m now at home for a while and I have started to make a list of things to do before the arrival: read books, write up a review or two of some previous books, work on my shorthand, watch movies, knit, meditate, finishing my pregnancy books and another 20 or so items. Maybe after all that I will be ready?

I received five newsletters telling me I was 34 weeks pregnant and updating me on what’s going on. The baby should be running out of space right about now at around 45cm long and over 2kg in weight. The baby’s eyes are now blue regardless of what they will be in later life although I think they will probably remain light. Dad has blue eyes and I have grey-ish ones and both colours are genetically recessive. The baby’s brain is now apparently fully developed and while the lungs aren’t quite complete, the rest of the organs are fully mature and the hearing is fully developed [song choices: Motorhead, Britney, Pearl Jam, Kings of Convenience, Alphabeat? Must choose].

Some mornings, however, I wake up and am quite confused about what’s going on. Me? A baby? Are you sure?

Data: A Christmas Infographic

Merry Christmas everyone whether you celebrate or not. I couldn’t let a festive data theme opportunity go by so please enjoy the following yuletide infographic. Information on the origins, celebration and enjoyment of the Christmas tree is presented concisely and clearly in the graphic created by All In One Garden & Leisure and presented on Infographics Showcase.

Did you know that England used the Christmas Tree formation in the Euro 96 Football Championship