Monday, July 31, 2006

Doesn't time fly

Silver wedding anniversary this week, though we had the dinner with friends last Friday. It doesn't really seem that long ago, at the Cambridge Registry Office, with people charging breathlessly up the hill, trying to put on ties, just a few minutes too late.

Sunday, July 30, 2006


Went over the 15k mark on the way home from a shopping expedition.

I wish it could be Christmas every day …

We are now actually able to unpack into the kitchen, and have opened the kitchen related presents we got shortly after the building work started. And there is a lot of stuff to dispose of — graded by junk, recycling, jumble and mathoms.

Things are now asymptotically approaching normality, though the flooring is still to do; and that will spread over the coming month. Maybe by the end of the year, things will have all been sorted out and something like a routine re-established.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Last leg

A hazy, almost misty start, that saps the energy; and any offroad bits are likely to be muddy. As it happens the same markings that have in the past meant unmade track today indicate quiet, wider than single-track, metalled road, and a relief to be off the B-road from Fakenham.

I start out on the long route, but the leaden weather encourages me to chamfer off the corners. I'm back at base at just about 12:30, so after a couple of pints of shandy at the Old Bell, I kill time with a quick loop to Threxton and Watton, before getting to the hotel to wait for the bike for luggage swap.

There is a sprinkle of rain while I'm waiting and an almighty thunderclap; but the rain doesn't start in earnest until I'm driving home.

[Now playing - Planet Rock]

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

To the sea! — and back

Head into Fakenham to pick up Sustrans route 1 (Hull to Harwich, via the back of beyond); well signed and good for nothing but holidays like this.

Walsingham is awash with an unusual traffic hazard : groups of pilgrims who think they have the road to themselves.

Offroad through the Holkham estate is borderline cyclable, with loose flints everywhere. Wells next the Sea is heaving, so after threading my way between people, take the sandy path behind the dunes (still Sustrans 1), occasionally playing chicken with flocks of pedestrians. With the choice of back through Holkham, or taking the coast road, I choose the latter to the Burnhams. At Burnham Overy Staithe, a car overtakes, pauses, and looks like it's going to turn right into the pub — then slides left to the kerb. I remonstrated with the driver about the use of indicators, without resorting to invective (I was surprised!).

Took another liquid lunch of Wherry and nuts at the Lord Nelson in Burnham Market, then headed back past the brass plate that marks where Nelson was born (the building was demolished in his lifetime) as the weather was clearly on the turn; cloud was building up and it was all very still.

I secured the bike, covered the saddle and went to my room; and the thunder started as I was running my bath. The rain then just bucketed down for 20 minutes, with a strong wind blowing before easing off to merely heavy rain.

The cellarage here is not up to the heat, and so it's lager with a light supper.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

To Sculthorpe Mill

Tuesday dawned grey; by the time I hit the road, the sky was milky blue, and the air was full of the smell of harvest; all signs of where the season mellows from light to heat.

The route to Castle Acre involved a taking a route signed Ford/unsuitable for motors; but fortunately there was a (unmarked, slightly concealed) footbridge at the end.


The bridge at Castle Acre

The route indicated a section of the un-made Peddars Way, which was definitely get off and push terrain, before reaching Great Massingham.

Great Massingham

Pond, Great Massingham

From there I struck off the Great Bircham, took a look at the mill

Great Bircham Mill

Mill, Great Bircham

then stopped at the King's Head for refreshment, finding some well kept Woodfordes' Wherry on tap to wash down the salted nuts. The, rather than backtrack, I struck off on the green lane through Bircham Tofts and Bagthorpe, which was easier going than the Peddars Way.

Reaching East Rudham, the Cat and Fiddle Free House tempted me, and I had a very nice pint of chilled dark mild. Then the last leg wove around a disused railway

Disused Railway

Raynham Park station, as was

before reaching this sign


Guess which way

to this dead end

Half a ford

No through route

where there was access on foot to the Mill Inn.

Tried to phone home and find that my phone won't boot into Windows.

Monday, July 24, 2006

To Swaffham

Breakfast was in solitary splendour.

Reading the paper, it was clear, Lebanon aside, that this was the silly season, including a piece on space tourism that had to explain what was going on with the Japanese guy wanting to cosplay as Char Aznable (“Japan's equivalent of Darth Vader” :lol:).

Traffic problems on the A14 meant the bike didn't arrive until nearly 10, and by the time I'd finished getting the saddle adjusted (a larger frame that I'm used to), it was 10:30 and hot.

I took the long route to Grimes Graves, and took the descent to the excavated shaft

At the flint face

The flint face at Grimes Graves

I was warned that there were adders in the area, but saw nothing except other visitors. The shaft was cool and damp, and climbing up went through a steamy layer before getting out into the slightly drier heat outside.

From there I do a bit of dead-reckoning past the Lynford Arboretum to cut off the right turn at the busy roundabout, and then past the Iceni Brewery (not stopping) — and as it's gone 14:00 when I next pass a pub, it's too late for lunch, even if I were hungry. As I'm carrying plenty to drink, I continue to amble.

By this time it's seriously hot, so it's easier to push when there's any sort of uphill.

The George Hotel in Swaffham is easy to find, and the a la carte menu is tempting enough to make dinner easy. I replenish supplies and get a light lunch from the Co-op, then have devilled kidneys followed by scampi in white wine sauce for lunch. The cellarage is not coping with the heat, so after a disappointing pint I have wine with the main.

There is a fan in the room. Collapse in the heat, sleeping on the bed again.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Norfolk cycling : Departure

Uneventful drive to Broom Hall, in the heat, except for being caught at the only level crossing. North of the A11 the route wended through the authentic depths of Airstrip One.

Broom Hall

Broom Hall Hotel, Saham Toney

I parked under a large pine for shade, and checked in to a room that was like an oven. And dinner was a 3 course Sunday roast and all the trimmings!

Collapsed on the bed early and meandered in and out of sleep until 06:30

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Catching up

Woot! I cycled into work every day for the last two weeks, into town both days last weekend, and again today. Which is a first.

It has been hot, though not quite as hot as in the first week of Aug '03, peaking at only about 34C; and for some of the time dry enough that doing the Tuesday lunchtime walk was comfortable.

Ended with film festival by seeing A Scanner Darkly — I never read the book so all I can say was that it was a paranoid junkie fantasy, the rotoscoping made the scramble-suits work (though I don't know if they looked like they were meant to), and that playing a burned out druggie suits Keanu Reeves' acting style.

We almost have a kitchen; last weekend I was able to celebrate with doing the washing up at a sink, rather than in the bath, and the laundry at home for the first time since February. The tiling and touch-up decoration needs to finish, then we can get the floor done. And redecorating the hall and staircase is almost done, so getting those carpeted/wood-blocked can some soon too!

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Film — Renaissance

Quasi-cyberpunk 2054 Paris is the home to a major biotech concern, Avalon, whose adverts talk of helth, beauty and longevity. Ilona, one of their scientists goes missing, and a hard-bitten cop is put on the case. We find out that Ilona was working on progeria. And the plot unfolds with tiresome predictability from those givens; and with all the old movie clichés about computer file security.

The film is live action, and, apparently, English dialogue (rather than dub), rotoscoped into hard black and white, no greyscale at all in most scenes, and where it is shown, it is background haziness; and colour is restricted to a handful of seconds. The Paris of 2054 is built on the modern one by just painting it on; remodelling Montmartre, raising extra levels on rivetted steel, and a purely rendered version of La Défense (or equivalent), with a vertigo inducing glass office spanning the arch.

The pacing is superb, with almost no fat — perhaps a little needless lingering on the gang-boss' harem, which one can consider as counterweight for a very minimalist handling of the love interest.

In sum, almost as manly as the other French actioner (Bainlieue 13); wonderfully executed; pity about the story.

[Now playing - Planet Rock]

Film — 鉄人28号 (Tetsujin 28)

At least it isn't only Hollywood that has hit on the idea of updating a fairly groundbreaking title from years gone by.

Taking it without that context, as a Japanese live action mecha movie, we follow the usual checklist:

  • Actors mugging to the blue screen: check
  • “Never send a man to do a boy's job”: check. 12 year old Kaneda Shotaro has eidetic memory and is a dab hand at flying a radio-controlled plane. All the skills needed, in fact, to pilot a mecha.
  • Issues: check. There is something unresolved in his past, about the last time he saw his father
  • Mecha in the family: check. Kaneda-san was upgrading the WWII era mecha that his own father had worked on at the end of the war when he died
  • Tokyo Tower in peril: check. As soon as the villain-mecha appears, its earnest of intent is to start unscrewing it from its foundations

So, by now you know if you'll like this next generation revival of the classic of 50 years ago for its own sake.

[Now playing - Planet Rock]

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Film — The great Yokai War aka The Great Hobgoblin War et al.

A Japanese live-action fantasy adventure film, so you know you're in for, and it delivers, a lot of rubber suits, heavy make-up, and slightly mannered acting all with a generous helping of cheese — all the sorts of vices that the animated form manages to avoid.

That as a given, this is a take on the “reluctant hero” pattern, as young Tadashi, recently moved from Tokyo to a rural village, gets caught up in a village festival, and is elected the Kirin Rider, a local folk-hero. This of course is his passport into the world of the spirits, just as Lord Kato (the villain, played as if by an understated Jeremy Irons) is invoking the angry spirits of discarded things to attack Tokyo.

Through a combination of grit and slapstick humour, Tadashi and a few fairly incompetent spirits (and an exceptionally kawaii sunekosuri) manage to save the day. And all without a single yell of "Kirin Rider Super Lightning Attack!" or similar invocation to invoke a power up!

Neither great art nor cutting edge cinema — but good solid fun, and, I think, would bear a second viewing.

Film — Angel-a

… or “ZOMG! its Rie!” ;)

A film about honesty and getting in touch with one's feminine side (from a man's PoV, that is).

Told in Besson's usualy quirky style, and shot in black and white, André, a loser, possibly dealing in olive oil, and played by Jamel Debbouze (not a tall guy), is at his wits' end when he gets entangled with a great bean-pole of a girl who claims to be his guardian angel (Rie Rasmussen, her height enhanced with 6" stilettos), and acts like his exact opposite. She takes him on a fairly lawless trip through the underbelly of Paris where he has become mired, into the bright lights, during which time, he self-actualises and grows a spine.

Ultimately a film to watch for pretty much everything but the story.

Film — Silentium

A murder made to look like a suicide, an ex-cop and failed store detective working as a PI, institutional corruption in the Salzburg Festival and Catholic Church — all the ingredients for film noir. Add a scene that can be added to Psycho in a list of reasons not to take a shower, and you have Silentium.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Film — Bainlieue 13

A truly manly film, in the 4chan-/a sense of “manly”. The setting — a walled in ghetto suburb of near-future Paris, where normal life has broken down — serves as an excuse for martial arts, gun-play, and much parkour. The excuse is that one of the big dealers in the ghetto has hijacked a nuke, and the clock is ticking, so an undercover cop and a denizen of the district have to find it and disarm it.

Indeed, so manly a film is it that although there is a named female character, it's the latter character's sister, who is held hostage by the the top bad guy and needs rescue. Yes, amazingly, an entirely slush-free film.

Co-written by Besson, with leads who are stuntmen and parkour exponents, this film is made of great fun and win! Go see it, now!

[Now playing - Planet Rock]

Film — Pirates of the Caribbean 2 : Dead Man's Chest

For starting out the 26th Cambridge Film Festival with an entirely unserious romp, an excellent choice.

Maybe not quite as good as the original, since there we were finding out quite how outrageous the characters were, rather than this time's extending of the absurdities. Not that the absurdities were at all bad — a gratuitous architectural feature of a derelict church could be expected to provide a humorous little incident; this film managed to make it last for several minutes, piling incident upon incident.

Bad points: no mention of the Pirate Code; and maybe a bit too much of pretty boy Bloom (but I'm not in the relevant demographic).

Oh, and the cliffhanger ending is such that I'd be surprised to find that the next one isn't already in production.

[Now playing - Planet Rock]