Wednesday, February 29, 2012


Abergavenny put on its best face with spring like sunshine today, for a special lady.
The family thank all of those who were at St Mary's Church for a fitting send off to a stylish lady.
The lesson was read by Laura and Anthony gave a wonderful eulogy on his mum. Emily with Abi and Jaycob by her side gave heartwarming thanks to her grandmother who has been such an inspiration to her in the way that she lives her life.
A choir made up from a trio of local amateur dramatics groups sang a showstopping number ......... someone looking on would certainly have received the message loud and clear that she was a very special and inspirational person.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


The family are readying themselves for the funeral of 'Grandma Jean' tomorrow, at this time blog posts will suspended as a mark of respect.

Monday, February 27, 2012


This morning was one where I finally managed to spend some quality time with my parents, albeit partly at their local village 'Coffee Morning' which is quite an event for villagers fortnightly - an insight into this event can be seen in the Community Spirit in Action section here.
My youngest daughter came along and was tempted by many items being sold by Wendy Pendry ( today the coffee morning and sale made over £200 for church funds), one in particular was a 1980's Olympus Trip camera.... which she purchased for £5!
This provoked interest of my dad, who worked for many years as a photographer within the Gwent Police, and also had a strong personal love of photography which I believe was sparked by his father. The conversation drifted to old camera's which with dad can lead to a little rummaging in drawers and cupboards. by the time we had walked back to my parents house... rummaging had indeed gone on and on the table for us to look at was the camera below which as you will see is from 1923 -  my father's example requires a little TLC however it does actually have some plate film stock also!
I know that there are a few other camera's in cupboards or attic spaces -
I can recall playing the with camera above ( Boots Field Camera - 1906) in my grandparents house in Cornwall when I was around 10 or 11 - it had its tripod also at that time, my mum believes that it is in the attic also?
Dad's prde and joy for many years was his Leica lensed Periflex 1 (1953) - the xample below has its original Corfield lens .
The Periflex for the time was an innovation in that it has an interchangeable lens with a Leica thread, through lens vision - hence the name, it uses an inverted 'peri'scope as you can see above the lens housing, push the periscope mirror down and look through the lens prior to shooting. On top of the winder is the viewing scope also with a periscopic mirror which pops on top of the viewer.
As you will understand I was very pleased that Laura was showing an interest in a subject so close to her grandfather's  heart :-)


Not so much a post missed as a post delayed. Sunday was taken up with entertaining the grandchildren, while their mother was at work......the result certainly from me was.... utter exhaustion!

 Now that I live largely on my own it comes as quite a shock to be so active during the day, so much so that I was in bed asleep by 9pm!

Saturday, February 25, 2012


Wales win the 6 nations Triple Crown
Welsh victories in Twickenham  England's HQ are very, very rare. It was with the belief that they could win that Wales took the field today, and certainly for the opening 20 minutes pressure and open running rugby backed up the belief. It came as a shock when Wales failed to take advantage of this pressure by missing a penalty, only to see England score from a penalty on 24 minutes. from this time onward Wales were always behind by between 3 and 6 points, but fortunately not too far adrift. 
More England pressure in the second half and with the loss of a player to the 'sin bin' Wales dug in and played a controlled game, not only avoiding any points being scored against them, but also scoring a further penalty leveling up the score..... on 74 minutes Scott Williams making his debut smuggled the ball from the English forwards in front  of their posts, kicked ahead, caught his own kick going over to score, Halfpenny's conversion seemed to seal the win..... however as the clock ticked over 80 minutes, England got the ball over the Welsh line..... the video referee decided that the try had not been scored, time was up... WALES had won in Twickenham  taking the Triple Crown :-)
( all images above from the BBC Sport website) ..... not a pretty game, and the boys certainly kept all those watching on the edge of their seats..... next up the revenge match against France following the defeat suffered in the Semi Finals of the World Cup in New Zealand last year.

Friday, February 24, 2012


Below is the most read post on the blog since it began back in 2006. The post from April 2008 has had over 1200 views in the intervening period. As a post on my favourite net book of the time,the Asus Eeepc I am not surprised, the pocket rocket was at the time .....'the new kid on the block'and did lead where others followed. My own Asus Eeepc eventually became the property of my eldest daughter, it has recently ceased working due in part to a dead motherboard, brought on by overheating. I do however have it back in my possession and cannot bring myself to part with it even in this state......I call that either loyalty or being just plain daft! Technology has of course moved on and this edited post was written on my latest 'best friend', the Acer Iconia A500 tablet......still an Android Boy :-) Enjoy the post:
Having seen the Asus Eeepc in action at BETT08 in January, I have finally ( a bit late as James Forbes-Keir here at the IB had on a delivered a few days later!)taken the plunge and bought the Eeepc for my daughter to use at home and in school- it actually has now appeared on the shelves of our local IT store ( Curry's Digital) at a fairly reasonable price for the 4G version of £249.00.
Laura uses Google Docs/Spreadsheets to save work at school and at home and now has her own small laptop to keep updated on ( important in her AS year in school), in addition of course to the obligatory social networking that all teenagers are involved in ( at least this old foggey has some idea of what his kids are up to!!!).
See an excellent down to earth ( and British) review of the mini-notebook below.

First impressions are very encouraging - I have managed to borrow it on a few occasions and found it fast and efficient ( the Linux operating system fires up really quickly) and it manages easily to find our wirelss network even though it's 2 floors up from the router. The new addition has its first day in school today when Laura returns after the Easter break to continue her 6th Form studies...... more news to follow.
Thanks also for support in the cause of the Asus and its Linux Kernel from my colleague and well known tech genius James FK .

Related posts updated on 3rd May 2010:
  • OLED transparent screens for new breed of laptops (link).
  • New slate/pad computers (link).
  • The swivel screen laptop battle (link).
  • Asus 900 meets OLPC (link).


My eldest daughter who is over from Australia at the moment was talking about the 'Big Landscape' which has dominated her recent travels in Australia, wide sweeping vistas of the interior and the southern coast. As Sian says, the sky appears so big, giving the landscape an endless feel, on the grand scale.
The comment made me focus on an aspect of the Welsh countryside gives it its 'welshness', for me it is a mixture of the hills which break up the 'big sky' giving a more scaled down comfortable feel to the views, and the more important quality of the light - it is our very point on the planet and the fall of sunlight at that angle which definitely for me defines the Welsh Landscape in all seasons and weather conditions.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


Could '.wales' (.wa) or '.cymru' (.cym) be getting closer? The answer according to this BBC Wales article from today could well be YES :-)
It would appear that the authorities in Wales see the possibility as a positive boost to the nation's identity and with a knock on to Welsh business. I have no doubt that having a regional and Welsh domain name will be very positive for the principality.I hugely look forward to moving toward :
There is a slight worry that there is not planned to be any financial support for those seeking to make use of the opportunity (£240,000 per application) which will be £120,000 for each name..... come on now WAG its up to you to put Wales back on the Global Super Highway!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

21-02-2012 ... Sian's return

5.00am Arrivals Hall- Terminal 3 Heathrow Airport London

Following a 2.00 am start from Wales and arrival at T3 at Heathrow Airport at 4.15am we ( Debbie, Laura and myself) were in place to welcome the ever so slightly weary 'Aussie' Sian home following her flight back from down under. Bless her, having flown to Launceston, Tasmania for a wedding over the weekend, Sian had to fly back to Sydney ( 90 minutes) and then 3 hours later board the Virgin flight for the further 24 hour flight home via Hong Kong to arrive back in chilly UK at 5.16 in the morning. All involved managed to stay awake for the rest if the day and now at approaching 9.30 in the evening tiredness and sleep is beginning to take over.... the family is however now together again at this very important time for us all.
Thank you to all who have sent messages and cards of sympathy, they are hugely comforting at this time.

Thank you from us all


Sunday, February 19, 2012


TED Talks are a brilliant resource for all thinkers :-)

This tongue in cheek (or is it?) TED Talk by Yossi Vardi on the dangers inherent in blogging and the use of laptops by men in particular is very funny, in fact it is one of the TED Talks that I regularly listen to again  as are any of the talks by Sir Ken Robinson the TED below from Hillel Cooperman on LEGO is also a great view
I could listen to Marcus de Sautoy explaining Math too me for hours.... these are just some of the myriad of highlights that can be browsed at the TED Talks site

Saturday, February 18, 2012


...........on a slow blog day when inspiration seems to wain, I have a tendency to look at my Twitter or Facebook feeds where friends and acquantances are readily expressing their views and sharing idaes. One of my favourites is Judy O'Connell ( Hey Jude)

.... Australian super Librarian, in particular Jude's ''  feed 
Another favourite of mine is the feed from the Flat Classroom Project which Lisa Durff manages
The subjects covered by these inspirational educators in the topics that sources give fellow educators a rich and focused array of  thought provoking ideas for that ... slow blog day.
Go and for yourself!

Friday, February 17, 2012


.....children see the world so clearly,  uncluttered by the layers that adults build into their lives. Thanks to Abi aged 6 for the above message.
Jean with son Ant (Ant Howells)  in happier times at the AAODS Centenary Masquerade Ball  ( p30-31 of NODA Magazine) on 4th June 2011.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

16-02-2012 Jean Howells

We are all aware I am sure of our own mortality, we have our alloted time here and I believe that the mark of a'wonderful human being'is not only what they contribute to the world. But more importantly on the human level how much a person enriches the lives of those that they come into contact with.
 It is for this reason that I personally would like to say thank you to Jean Howells for having brought the spark of life, vitality and fun into the lives of everyone who knew her. We will treasure our own special memories of Jean, most I am sure will raise a smile..... thank you Jean for sharing your life with us all.
And while our immediate thoughts are of sorrow for the loss,the lasting memory will and should be of a life well lived.
Earlier I was looking through my blog posts from 2010 and found the post below from 15-05-2010 it sums this lady up so well...

Back in 2005, nine members of the family including my mother in law ( who paid for everyone!) went on the trip of a lifetime around China. We visited many of the main tourist centres in the country - Shanghai, Beijing, Xian, Guillin and Hong Kong.

The feast of experiences left lasting impressions on many of us, non more so than my mother in law who became fascinated by the Chinese method of painting. On our return Jean enrolled in a local group in order to learn some of the techniques essential to Chinese Art. The group had an exhibition in a local gallery back in 2007, however in the intervening two years Jean has been too busy ( at 80 y.o.) to return, it was wonderful to see on an impromptu visit this afternoon that after a two year break Jean has returned to the art that she loves so much.

You can see above  the essentials with some works in progress while below is one of the works awaiting framing which depicts a typical Chinese is marvellous to see Jean back in action
..........thank you.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


There was a touch of St Valentine's Day in the air today, from the gift that we received from the local Bel Air Hotel ( sadly no I did not make use of my free cocktail voucher..... I actually headed for the Pathe Bioscope at Scheveningen....

 to see The Decendants, there was a welcome complimentary glass of Champagne for all attendees this evening.
.... my take on the film, I think that it deals with the long loss of someone and the emotions well, it does tend to run slowly with many lingering shots of the beautiful Hawaiian scenerry, and it kind of loses its way when they are searching for the lover....on balance thus far The Artist still holds first place with  The Iron Lady in second, I am looking forward to catching up with The Help and Tinker Tailor..... later this week.

Monday, February 13, 2012


On Sunday afternoon in an emotional and passionate game, the Celtic giants of Wales and Scotland met on the hallowed rugby turf of the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. The game was open as both teams player expansive fast running rugby. The first half ebbed and flowed and at half time the score was 3-3 with only two penalties having been scored.
In the second half Wales exerted pressure and eventually to dour Scottish defence cracked with a few poor fouls leading to yellow cards being shown. Wales have been notoriously bad at scoring when their opposition is 'men down' ( incidentally Wales are also the team who have the most points scored against them with reduced numbers), however in this match the home side pressed their advantage with the points coming freely. Wales had pulled out a 27 points to 13 lead with 10 minutes left, they managed to hold this advantage until the final whistle. Scotland were unlucky, having clear advantage to score on at least two occasions, sadly failing to convert this pressure into points.
There are still areas of the game which welsh fans would expect to improve, chief of these are the 'flaky' lineout, dodgy scrum ahead of the match against England at Twickenham next weekend.

Sunday, February 12, 2012


The city awoke this morning to the sight of a light dusting of snow and a recognisable rise in the temperature ( the chance to go out without the necessity of wearing a hat/cap!)

The temperature in this part of Europe is expected the rise over the coming week, this makes it all the more important that the Dutch nation made the most of the chill, as could be seen by the prolific use of video footage from skaters on Saturday. The first video is from Amsterdam (posted by Kanaal van ditissander1):

Below is a skater on the Spaarne in Haarlem (posted by : Kanaal van visserjerome)
.. and not to be outdone here in Den Haag where skaters were to be seen in front of the Parliament (posted by Kanaal van RalfGTI):

Saturday, February 11, 2012

11-02-2012 (Updated)

The Dutch nation appears to have been waiting all week to get to the first weekend for 15 years where many local ponds, waterways and canals are iced over to a thickness where skating becomes possible ( 15cm - 6 inches) was the day.
 Locally on the ponds alongside Sportlaan, in Den Haag the families where out early.......
.... it was mainly young families here, with many children under 10 on the ice....
in the centre of The Hague on The Hofvijver lake,  alongside the Dutch Parliament older groups were skating.
Later in the afternoon in Haarlem, near Amsterdam the River Spaarne was frozen over and the skaters were out in their droves again. temperatures are expected to rise above freezing next week (-7C this evening) today and tomorrow are likely to be the only chance that the Dutch will have to recreate their past as create by Peter Brueghel

Mr O'Regan and myself were in Haarlem on Saturday to visit the Golden Age Exhibition at the Frans Hals Museum the promotional video for the exhibition can be seen below:

Friday, February 10, 2012


Happy Birthday Mon/Brecon Canal

Celebrations have been held to mark the 200th anniversary of the opening of the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canals.
Enthusiasts recreated the original opening of the waterway in 1812 at Pontymoile Basin with church bells sounding along the route.
The 49-mile, canal built to transport coal and iron, winds its way south from Brecon to Cwmbran, Newport and Cwmcarn.
Today it is popular with tourists on canal boat holidays.
At midday a bell was rung at Pontymoile Basin sparking a peal of church bells in both directions along the route with almost 30 churches taking part.
Richard Dommett, regeneration manager for the Monmouthshire, Brecon and Abergavenny Canals Trust, said the canal was flourishing.
"The top half of the canal from Brecon to Cwmbran is open for navigation," he told BBC Radio Wales.
"There are a lot of canal companies that hire weekly holiday trips for visitors.
"There are also a number of day boat hires, particularly at Brecon."
The canal is credited with kick-starting the Industrial Revolution in towns near its route.
Schoolchildren also performed at the anniversary celebrations.

Thursday, February 09, 2012


I was speaking with my mum back in Wales this evening, she was reassuring me that both her, and my dad are keeping warm enough in the present cold snap. They have over the past few years made sure that they have insulate their property and they are certainly reaping the rewards as the cold weather retains its grip in Europe. As you will see above from the Met Office website there is more of the 'white stuff' on the way! I did manage at last after over a week to ride my bike home from work today, it's great to be mobile again and not over reliant on the bus service. All public transport has been packed during the last week as many also decide that cycling is not so practical in the snow and ice.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012


The big chill continues on mainland Europe. At 8.00am today the temperature being displayed on a street sign nearby was -13C..... oddly this evening when I was returning home from a birthday supper for my friend Steve O'Regan it felt warmer.... it was only -6C......quite odd really.

Monday, February 06, 2012


The Arctic conditions sweeping Europe have tightened their grip, with more deaths reported in Poland and Ukraine, taking the toll to well over 200. 
Here in The Hague as you will see above the temperature tonight is due to drop to a chilly -10C.

In the Netherlands, speed-skaters are hoping that freezing conditions continue so they are able to hold an ice-skating marathon along a 125-mile (200k) network of canals connecting 11 cities in the country's Friesland Province.
The Eleven Cities Tour race has only been held 15 times since it was first officially organised in 1909, AP reports.

Sunday, February 05, 2012


View from my windows.... at the front is the extremely icy Berberisstraat ( -4C feels like -9C):
while at the rear ( I managed to keep my balcony doors open for a few chilly moments ( no sitting out here for a while!):
Down the street there are signs of the cold spell, with the ice crystals growing on the bicycle windshields in Volkenboskade:
Also at the Tramhlate - Goudenregenstraat ( the trams are still running, but not quite to their regular timetable as we experience these extremely cold conditions that look set for the week ahead, with further snow forecast:

** Important update Ireland 21 - Wales 23 Result from the Aviva Stadium Dublin this afternoon .... Well done boys [report on the match]
Leigh Halfpenny strikes the winning penalty on 79 minutes :-)

Saturday, February 04, 2012


As the temperature continues to stay well below freezing during the day, dropping further as you see above, we have though not had any further snow since Friday.
Today was such a clear beautiful day that I decided to head off on the 30 minute train journey to Gouda. There was quite a bit of disruption to the railway lines in The Netherlands,  where today at least half of the trains has been cancelled due to the freezing conditions.
Gouda was a joy, from it's medieval central square, where there is a weekly Saturday 'Cheese Market'.
To the impressive  Sint Janskerk ( St John's Church) which is the longest church in the country and also contains the treasure of  The Gouda Windows.
I would recommend extremely highly the GoudaMuseum which remarkably has on show the cartooons used in the making of the windows from the C16 but also an enchanting view of Gouda through the ages - the museum was visited by The Queen in November 2011.

I was also able to have my Breugel moment as I watched the locals taking to the canals for some skating.
Even the local bicycles had become frozen....

Friday, February 03, 2012


Through this week day and nightime temperatures here in The Hague have been dropping. Thursday night ground temperatures dropped to -7C, and as Friday dawned the darkening skies heralded that snow was on its way. Just before lunchtime and for around 2 hours snow fell on the already frozen ground. Leading to very dangerous conditions for pedestrians and drivers... there was also a marked decline in the number of cyclists braving the conditions.
 It is not only the UK where things can grind to a halt in extreme weather as evidenced by the report below from Dutch News

No trains in Utrecht and Amsterdam as snow chaos continues

Friday 03 February 2012
The heavy snow in the Netherlands on Friday led to chaos on the roads and serious disruption to train services, with no rush hour trains to and from Utrecht and Amsterdam. Elsewhere there were far fewer trains than normal.
At the height of the problems on the road, there were 830 km of traffic jams, making Friday the fourth-worst day on the roads ever.
Rail users organisation Rover said the problems with trains were ‘ridiculous and unacceptable’. Despite the warnings snow was on its way, Dutch Rail (NS) was unable to cope, Rover pointed out.
Up to 14 cm of snow fell in some places, causing serious problems on the roads. By 16.00 hours, some 900 accidents on minor and provincial roads had been reported and the ANWB motoring organisation urged people in central parts of the country not to drive.
Public transport was also affected in The Hague and Amsterdam and some flights from Schiphol were delayed or cancelled.

Skaters rescued as unreliable ice gives way

Friday 03 February 2012
At least 10 people have been rescued after sinking through the ice on the Ankeveense lakes near Hilversum, local paper Gooi- en Eemlander reports.
Hundreds of skaters have flocked to the popular skating area but experts warn the ice is still very unreliable in places. In addition, the snow makes it difficult to see where the ice is weak.
Elsewhere, a number of skaters have been brought to safety from the Ooij polder near Nijmegen. A 35-year-old man has been taken to hospital suffering from exposure.
The snow also caused the cancellation of the first outdoor skating route on the Blokzijler lakes, which had been set for Sunday. The snow has made it impossible to see which parts of the lake should be avoided, according to website

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