Advice to Somerset House Summer Screen visitors

Somerset House for the last few years has screened some open air movies each summer. Here’s some advice if you’re going.

  • Do arrive 2+ hours before the movie starts when the doors open, as space goes quickly and you’ll want to stake your claim. Have a picnic.
  • Do not bring any glass bottles, they’ll only make you decant it all into plastic cups before entry.
  • Do bring a blanket and some cushions to sit on. There’s no seats, just the stone floor of the courtyard. They sell blankets and cushions at extortionate prices.
  • Do bring plenty of food and drink, otherwise you’ll have to pay extortionate prices at their (cash only) bar.
  • Do get cash out first, if you’re going to give them money. They don’t accept plastic and have no cash machines, and there is no re-admittance.
  • Do get your junk food first and bring it in. Pizza Express, Krispy Kreme and Caffé Nero are all nearby if you crave them, but there is no re-admittance.
  • Do bring umbrellaswaterproofs. This is British Summer – it might rain (or hail!). That would be pretty miserable and I’m not sure I’d stay in that, but bring them anyway!
  • Do bring extra layers of clothing and maybe an extra blanket. Sitting still at night can be cold even in the summer.

We only failed at bit at the last one, having brought only one extra layer of clothing, but it wasn’t too bad. Experience highly recommended!

ow ow ow

For the last 2 days I’ve been feeling shooting pains in one part of my head, a bit like a migraine. My eye on the same side felt a bit sore as well but I couldn’t see anything really wrong with it. It seemed to get better if I took my glasses off for a while, but then when I’m doing that I’m usually asleep, so I thought I was just tired or stressed or something.

This morning it got really irritating and my eye felt worse also so I went and had a good look at it, rolling my eye around a bit. What I found was an eyelash stuck under the bottom of the orb of my eye. By rolling my eye upward as far as I could I could just see (with my other eye!) the end of the eyelash poking out between the eyeball and the socket.

I managed to fish it out with a cotton wool pokey stick thing and I feel so much better now, but the thing that gets me is that the eyelash poking my eye or whatever was causing me pain that felt like it was actually inside my skull near the crown of my head.

So next time you have shooting pain inside your skull it may not be the alien implant activating your killing spree, but instead just something stuck in your eye.

Busy family weekend

My mother and her partner Alan came down to London on Friday afternoon to see a show (Oliver!) I’d bought them tickets for. We let them do their own thing on the Friday, though I was pleased to hear that their tickets were front row seats which they very much enjoyed. Despite me going through the details of how travel works in London in painful detail, they somehow still managed to end up buying two travel cards at £12.something each on Friday afternoon and then not needing them anyway, as their hotel was off Bloomsbury Square and the theatre was only at the end of Drury Lane. Tsk, tourists eh? 😉

Jenny and I met up with them at their hotel on Saturday morning and after some tea we set off for Greenwich. Journeyplanner suggested the 188 bus from just around the corner on Southampton Row so that’s what we went for, but I should really have known better — the traffic was pretty bad and it took over an hour to get there. Still, it was a lovely sunny day for a picnic in Greenwich Park, some Frisbee and then a quick look around the National Maritime Museum.

On the way back Jenny suggested we use the Thames Clipper from Greenwich Pier to get back to Central London. It was another £5 each but I really didn’t fancy getting onto crowded public transport in that heat so was happy to give it a try. I’m really glad we did because it was great; surprisingly quick, comfortable and good for seeing the sights. We got off at Embankment Pier, walked up to Lancaster Gate, a short bus journey back to their hotel followed by a rather rushed change of clothes then off for a meal at the Oxo Tower Restaurant.

I’d hoped we’d get a table out on the patio but we had to settle for one next to the window. Still the view was superb looking across at St. Paul’s Cathedral. I could really get used to the excellent service but perhaps not the steep prices! Worth it for special occasions though.

The night was finished up with a slow walk back along the South Bank to Waterloo where we went our separate ways.

On Sunday we met up again for a lazy afternoon lunch and rest in Russell Square Gardens people- (and squirrel-) watching.

Tonight we’re off to Windsor for a meal to celebrate Jenny’s brother’s birthday so I suppose I better get on with some work.


Anyone who knows me will know that I don’t get enough exercise. Over the last year or so I have lost a bit of weight due to having a better diet and being a little bit more active. Now that I’m working from home almost all the time I thought it would be a shame to reverse the trend and start putting it back on through leading an even more sedentary lifestyle. Something had to be done.

I don’t get on with exercise for the sake of it at all, so the idea of going to the gym just does not appeal. I decided that two things I could probably bear to do are cycling and swimming.

Since Jenny moved in it’s become pointless for her to keep up her gym membership in Holtspur, so last week we took a walk down to Feltham Airparcs Leisure Centre to see what it was like. From the outside it looks a bit drab, run down and 1960s so I wasn’t expecting much, but in fairness their pool looked quite good. Jenny wasn’t overly impressed with the look of the gym but she decided to give it a go anyway, and when she did get around to it this week she found it was better than it looked.

I also bought a basic bicycle from Halfords and this morning I cycled the 1.5 miles to Airparcs and went for the early bird swimming session, then cycled back. It’s the first time I’ve been swimming in something like 20 years, but once I’d got into the rhythm it was fine. Normally the early bird session is from 7am until 9am but in school holidays it finishes at 8.15am, so I only got just over an hour in. I liked how quiet it was this morning — no annoying kids at all even though it’s holidays — so I hope it’s like that every week. I think there were 9 people there including me at the busiest time.

It’s a small step but I’m really pleased that I seem to be able to get along with it, and if the pool stays quiet like it was today then I could see me going up there for an hour or two several times a week.

Inevitably I look a complete tit in my cycle helmet as well, but I can just about ignore the odd looks I get from all around me!

Tooth problems part II

It’s been almost a month since one of my fillings fell out and still it’s not all sorted out, but at least we’re making some progress.


The actual root canal procedure itself was not particularly painful, though it did take a long time and I think a squeamish person would be upset by the force required.

Apparently my tooth is unusual in that it has four canals rather than three, and also that they curve almost horizontally. This meant that when the little wire thingy was pushed down the canals to clear out the nerve pulp, the dentist had to really apply a lot of pressure before it would bend around the curve and get all the way. I felt like my jaw was going to be dislocated.

The image here is of how my tooth is now; the top has been all drilled off and a big lump of plastic temporary crown covers it. Next week I should have the proper crown put on.

I wasn’t really intending on spending my Christmas bonus on dental work, but hey, at least I am lucky enough to have a Christmas bonus.

Tooth problems

On the night of Friday 30th January one of my fillings fell out, taking a large chunk of tooth with it. It was very painful so I had to go to the emergency dentist the next day at Kingston Hospital.

Temporary filling

All they could do was put some temporary filling goop in there and advise me to see my dentist as soon as possible.

Well, the problem is that I haven’t seen a dentist in about 15 years. I would not advise anyone to avoid the dentist for 15 years. At first I stopped going because I’d moved away from home and no longer had a mother making the appointments for me! Then after the first 5 years or so it was the worry about what might be found and the work that would be required.

Since I didn’t have a dentist, it took me until the following Thursday to get an appointment and that was just an assessment. Really I have been quite lucky to have gone this long without serious issues. I now need a root canal and crown on that tooth where the filling came out, and also a couple of small fillings elsewhere. That’s going to happen tomorrow.


Unfortunately it also meant I’ve been on antibiotics and painkillers all through FOSDEM this last weekend. Still it was great as usual!

Do I need glasses?

I had an eye test this morning, and apparently I am -0.5 “dist sph” in both eyes. After the test the optometrist was very keen to sell me glasses, but I was in a rush for work so didn’t really [want to fight through the sales pitch to] ask any questions. Now I’ve spoken to a few wearers of glasses about it, they all say that -0.5 is nothing and I probably don’t need any.

I don’t drive, but I understand that the regulation is being able to read a number plate at 20.5m. I had driving lessons about 3 years ago and I could read that then. I’ll try again and if I have any difficulty then that is that, I will get glasses.

Other than that, I was surprised at how sharp the smallest text became when the correct lenses were in place, but I don’t really suffer any problems in day to day life, so I don’t know if it is yet worth the hassle.

Is there any pressing reason to get glasses now as opposed to waiting until next year’s test to see if it gets any worse?

Tim Minchin

On Friday we went to see Tim Minchin at High Wycombe Town Hall.

A couple of months ago when I was trying to buy tickets it seemed like every venue had only the very poor seats left, but Wycombe Town Hall was unreserved seating so I decided to take a gamble and just try to get there early. That really worked out well as we were almost the first there and chose to have third row seats rather than sit right at the front and risk being picked for audience participation!

Well, what an amazing night. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a performer work so hard and despite seeing a few of his songs on YouTube I really didn’t appreciate just how good a singer and piano player he is until he was doing it in the same room as me. Incredibly funny, witty, erudite and intelligent, it was genius from start to finish. I suppose it helps that his “religion rants” contain some of the exact same words and arguments that I always end up using, just put into amusing song by someone with talent!

I think my favourite was a new (to me) number called Nine Minute Beat Poem, but even material like If I Didn’t Have You which I’ve heard a few times had new life breathed into it.

His audience interaction was good — yes there was a fair bit of picking people out for light mockery, so was glad to have chosen row three!

The only thing that slightly spoiled the evening was a couple of testosterone-fuelled teenage lads a few rows in front of us who kept heckling. They weren’t heckling because they were unsatisfied, it was more like “we love you Tim,” but as the night wore on they were shouting their own endings to his joke setups. Hello fuckwits, professional comedian on stage? I’ve paid to see him, not the chav chorus. He dealt with them fairly well but you could tell he was getting a little wound up by it.

All in all, highly recommended.

Had a bit of an accident! (Day 1 & 2)

      1. Day 1
      2. Day 2

This and similar posts are just going to be me moaning about a minor tumble I took the other day and are mainly presented only for others to take amusment from.

Day 1 ^

Day 1 (1)

On the morning of Tuesday 26th I was crossing the railway level crossing at Feltham when I did what I always reflexively do and looked both ways to see if a train was coming (which I know is a bit silly because the barriers wouldn’t be up if there was, but still). I saw a train in the station and as I was staring at it wondering if it was my train, I tripped up.

I had a bottle of orange juice in one hand and the remote control for my iRiver in the other and before I could decide what I was doing with those, my nose had smacked into the ground with a bit of a crunch. My vision went black for a second and I thought I had broken my nose. Touching it produced a lot of blood (both from the bridge and from the nostrils) but no blinding agony so at least I knew it wasn’t as bad as that. The image to the right is what it looked like by the time I’d got to dayjob and washed up a bit.

Day 1 (2)

I also found out that the expensive sunglasses I bought about 10 days ago have a massive scratch across one lens, and my iRiver remote is even more broken than it was already.

In hindsight it was probably lucky that I was on the level crossing as most of my nose went into the groove of the track. If I hadn’t been and had smacked the flat ground I’m thinking it would be far more likely that it’d have broken my nose.

Day 2 ^

Day 2, finger

By Wednesday the throbbing in my nose had mostly gone away, but the bruising really started to show and it began to look a bit uglier. I must have landed on my left little finger as well, as that started to swell up during the night and by the morning was making it difficult to type properly or get the God-forsaken on-call phone out of my pocket.

Day 2

More to come!

Ava Booth’s Dedication

Today I was in Sandhurst for the dedication of Ava, my friend Paul’s daughter. I didn’t really know what to expect other than “it’s a bit like a christening”, which it was.

Of course I was really there just to catch up with Paul and to see Ava for the first time, so I’ll skip the religious bits. I think she was really very energetic and surprisingly happy to perform for people’s cameras, resulting in a number of very cute shots.

It was also great to see old work friends Chris and Simon to catch up with their lives over the last ~2 years, some good, some bad.

I would see all of these people more often if I could drive; that is getting a little irritating now, so I really should try to find the time from somewhere. Either that or Berkshire needs to get a transport network a little more like Greater London.

Oh and not forgetting the bonus appearance of my favourite domesticated animal, the greyhound!