Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Pandas and Funny Examination Questions

There I was, minding my own business when I stumbled across some funny photographs on the internet today. And because I am kinder than Mother Theresa except that I have got my own teeth, I thought I would share them with you ..........

Pic.No.1 This picture of a panda was taken by a tourist visiting a zoo. No-one likes a show-off

And I know that I have done a feature on 'comedy examination answers' before, but here are some new ones that I haven't seen before, which tickled my sense of humour ........

Pic.No.2 Call me thick, but technically isn't that true?

Pic.No.3 I loved the way the giraffes just kept on eating through the demise of their friend .... it makes this answer comedy genius

Pic.No.4 This has to be my favourite ...... it's the teacher's comments that does it

Pic.No.5 Kids, don't you just love 'em!

So dahlink, how has your week been going? Any funnies or just plodding along waiting for spring?

Monday, 27 February 2012

A trip to: The Jorvik Viking Centre in York

Kids are a bit weird. For some time now, Izzy has been obsessed by both 'the olden days', and 'poor people'. I think it is something to do with a TV series called 'Horrible Histories' that she has recently been watching. Anyway, suffice to say that they are subjects that have held her rapture. 

Just the other day, we were at the local supermarket, queuing at the checkout, when Izzy noticed that there was a woman in front of us was dressed in her pyjamas with just a coat over the top. 

"Is that a poor person?" she asked loudly, pointing at the aforementioned woman.

"Sssshhhhh no, it's just because she is a pikey," I hissed back (good grief, I sound like a Daily Mail reader), hoping that the pyjama woman hadn't noticed ...... because people who don't mind being publicly seen in their nightwear are often quite fighty too.

As I mentioned, Izzy proved to be equally fascinated when it came to the olden days.

She awoke me at 6.30am on a Sunday morning, 2" from my face, staring intently.  "Why are people in the olden days always black and white?" she asked seriously.

I blearily mumbled some stuff about the fact that the people all lived in colour, but the cameras could only take pictures in black and white. And then I alluded to the fact that if she didn't go back to bed, I would open the window and lob her over the back hedge.

'So what's all this about?' I hear you cry. Well, given Izzy's love of 'poor people' and 'horrible histories', and the fact that we were visiting my chum Sarah oop north, I thought it might be pertinent to undertake a day trip to the Jorkvik Viking Museum in nearby York.

Now England has got a pretty impressive historical backgound - buildings that are 500 - 600 years old are commonplace (I live in one), so imagine how exciting it was to go back to the era of the Vikings.

The vikings invaded England in AD 793 - yep, that's 1200 years ago. And the city of York was, in past-times, the site of a major viking settlement. As if that wasn't cool enough, some archeologists actually discovered the ruins of a viking settlement and it was made into a visitor attraction post-haste.

Which was where we had decided to visit .......................... enjoy the pics!

Pic.No.1 We parked the Bling Mobile next to York Castle (shown above). Given the amount of history associated with York, the castle is a bit weedy

Pic.No.2 This is Izzy. She has a look of concern on her face for some reason. She's probably disappointed with the castle

Pic.No.3 We had to walk through the city of York to get to the Viking site .... Oooh look! It's bloody raining. What a surprise for oop north

Pic.No.4 We passed the world famous 'Betty's Tea Rooms'

Pic.No.5. Having afternoon tea there is a 'must do' for all tourists ....... tea is served in the English way, with light snacks such as cucumber sandwiches. BARF!

Pic.No.6 And finally we arrived at the Jorvik Viking Centre (can you spot the most unsubtle gate-crashing guy ever?)

Pic.No.7 Bloody queues. I hate them. Luckily we were only there for 5 minutes because we arrived late. I highly recommend that you don't visit the Jorvik Centre during school holidays

Pic.No.8 Once inside the Jorvik centre, we discovered the coolest thing ever (except for gadgets, jalapenos, and pizza). A Viking settlement circa AD700 had been uncovered by archeologists. It was housed under a glass floor so that you could look at it

Pic.No.9 That square thing that Izzy is looking at is actually a real viking toilet

Pic.No.10 This real viking shoe was found at the site ... jeez, it is over 1200 years old and still looks like a shoe!

The piece d'resistance of the Jorvik Viking Centre is it's mock-up of a viking village. Basically, you get into a electric carriage and it takes you on a track -ride through different scenes depicting viking life. But what really brings it to life is the smell - the whole place had been made to smell like a viking settlement, and it honked. Probably the lack of flushing toilets, etc.

Pic.No.11 This is a viking making combs and broaches from deer antlers

Pic.No.12 Look! This is what an average viking house would look like. It looks like something that Barrett would knock out today

Pic.No.13 This is a chap selling pelts and bowls .... Oh, and there were manky dogs everywhere. Naughty George would've been in his element

Pic.No.14 This is a shoemaker. If you wanted a pair of Christian Loubutins in AD350, this is where you would be hanging out (except that this viking quite obviously hasn't noticed the marketing benefits of having red soles)

Pic.No.15 This boring bastard just turns pots all day

Pic.No.16 If this chap lived in modern times, I expect that he would run a shop called 'Everything's a Scheckel' or 'Scheckel-Land'. He was selling a bit of everything

Pic.No.17 This is what a viking's typical back garden / yard looks like (you can the fire pits). If you look closely at the photograph you can see the carriage (the big black seat) that was in front of us

Pic.No.18 And now for the finale of the viking villge tour - and in particular, Izzy's piece d'resistance - A viking going to the toilet. They basically crawled into a waist-high box and performed their ablutions in full view of the family. 

The toilet had to be dug out and buried on a regular basis to stop disease or bacteria from spreading. Apparently they still use a similar system in Finland.

Once we had alighted our carriage, we then went into another section of the museum where there were exhibits.

Pic.No.19 This man was showing the children all types of viking artefacts that looked, smelt or felt cool

Pic.No.20 But what was really cool were the cases showing the genuine skeletons of dead (obviously) vikings

Pic.No.21 The skeletons has been forensically examined because there was a plaque detailing things like the sex of the skeleton, height, and underlying medical conditions that the person had

As museums go, it was blooming interesting, but a tad on the expensive side at £9.25 for an adult and £6.25 for a child. Even though you got free annual entry included in the price, a visit to the viking centre probably only lasts one and a half to two hours. Well worth a look though. 

As we left the museum, it was going dark and getting cold. 

"Shall we grab a coffee?" I asked. 

"Ooh yes," replied Sarah, "there is a Cafe Nero near here - they make my favourite coffee."

We entered the godforsaken establishment, and I quickly wished that we hadn't. 

There was one person in front of us, and yet we still had to wait 10 minutes to get served while the server fannied around. 

Then, upon taking our order, he proceeded to amble over to his mate for a chat, leaving us waiting at the counter like numpties. Once he had finished his chat, he disappeared into the kitchen for a further 5 minutes before reappearing and only then, did he start to make our coffees.

By which stage I was mumbling, "by god I want to bop his lights out." And Sarah was protesting, "the Cafe Nero in Leeds is nowhere near as bad as this."

Eventually we got our drinks, and went to find a free table.

But the whole of Cafe Nero was filthy and disgusting.

Pic.No.22 We eventually found a free table, but couldn't sit down before moving other people's empty cups (as you can see in the background - and we weren't the first ones to have had to do that)

So peeps, whatever you do - avoid Cafe Nero in York like the plague. And please add your own bad experiences here.

So have you been anywhere cool lately, or conversely, experienced some diabolical service?

Thursday, 23 February 2012

It's Geeky! A trip to the National Railway Museum

So whilst Izzy and I were visiting Sarah in Leeds, Sarah came up with a cracking idea for a day out.

"Right, because you like gadgets, I thought we could visit the National Railway Museum in York," she suggested: "After all, gadgets don't come much bigger than trains."

My face lit up, but then I suddenly thought about the consequences; "but people might call me an anorak, and assume that I wear tie-dye clothes and drink lesbian tea," I pointed out, before adding, "especially as it's not so long ago that I went birdwatching. It all adds up you know."

"What the bloody hell is lesbian tea?" asked Sarah perplexedly.

"That revolting fruity stuff with no caffeine in," I told her. "All the hippies love it, but I've got an iron-woman image to preserve."

"You're weird," Sarah said. "But despite your protestations we are going to go to the Railway Museum and if people start thinking you are a hippy, you can always republish those photographs of you with the guns ...... you know the ones."

"Bally good point!" I hollered, "let's depart for the Railway Museum post haste."

And so Izzy, Sarah and I jumped into my bling-mobile and set off for the ancient city of York, where the National Railway Museum was based.

And because I am kinder than Ghandi (but more coiffed), I have got some photographs for you .......

Pic.No.1 This was the entrance to the National Railway Museum in York. It looked small but it wasn't. That boy looks pissed off

I would like to draw attention to the fact that the National Railway Museum is in fact FREE (yes, it's totally gratuis dahlinks) to enter. They suggest a donation of £3.00 but it is not compulsory. And that makes it one of the best days out in terms of value .... considering it contains hours of entertainment.

I love free stuff I do. Mainly because I am a tightwad. Anyway, I digress ........

Pic.No.2 Once inside we entered a large hall that had been made to look like an enormous train station. In fact it was an enormous indoor train station which contained trains from different periods in history. This is a picture of the station clock

Pic.No.3 Here are some old trains moored / parked (?) on the platforms.We were able to walk right up to them and peer through the windows. It was great. I felt like a legal perv

Pic.No.4 The whole place was oozing period ambience ..... even the advertisements on the walls were from the 1800s / early 1900s

Pic.No.5 A bloody enormous steam train which had been impeccably restored. As you can see, Izzy's fingerprints were now all over it

Pic.No.6 How about this for travelling in luxury? This was the Queen's former 'bedchamber railway carriage' (did you spot Izzy and Sarah reflected in the mirror?!)

Pic.No.7 This was the Queen's former 'Drawing Room Carriage'. I tell you what, it does not resemble anything to do with travelling by train today. The minimum cost per journey is circa £150, and for that you are lucky to get standing room. Soon train travellers will be hanging off the roof like they do in India. Damned tricky with a briefcase

Pic.No.8 Izzy peering inside a catering carriage. They probably used to make the legendary soggy ham and lettuce, or egg and cress sandwiches in there (If you are visiting from over the pond, I need to point out at this juncture, that in every aspect, British railways are at best diabolical, and at worst, third world .... actually that is probably an insult to the third world)

Pic.No.9 There was rather a lovely eating area on one of the station platforms, but I noticed that people were still steering clear of the railway food

Pic.No.10 Atmospheric. More oldy-worldy advertisements ....... Not very catchy are they? In fact they are shit. I could do better and I haven't got an artistic bone in my body. But 'Nectar Tea' isn't going to be too hard to beat

Pic.No.11 Look, a whole load of Bullet Trains! Now that's what I call cool .... all roundy and fast looking. See that bloke with the stripey woollen hat and camcorder? That's what I was scared of becoming

Pic.No.12 Three Thomas-the-Tank-Engine type trains. As you have probably guessed, that was not a technical description

Pic.No.13 I spied this sign on the wall. Although I hadn't done anything wrong, I still felt guilty. As though I could potentially be that person

Pic.No.14 Look, it's me and Iz! Standing in front of a bloody huge black train. The trains were awesome ... enormous .... majestic ..... powerful ...... huge grunting workhorses. There was no way you could look at one and think 'crikey, that's a bit tinny'.

Pic.No.15 This is a statue of George Stephenson (click to read his amazing biography). And man alive, was this chap was a brilliant engineer? (if he wasn't dead, I would do him). He built the first ever public railway line. He also established the width of the world's railway tracks (the world's standard gauge). But even more amazing, the guy was illiterate until the age of 18, but realised the value of education, so he bust a gut and paid to get an education as a young adult

Pic.No.16 And then when he got bored of designing standard gauges, in his spare time, Stephenson designed the 'Rocket'. After seeing it first hand, I can confidently comfirm that it was a big yellow train

Pic.No.17 These are the controls that you need to learn if you want to drive a steam train. In terms of ease-of-use I would rather learn to operate a steam train than try and contact Paypal support

Pic.No.18 Looky here - these are the carriages that were pulled by the Rocket. The yellow one looks all lovely and comfortable, but look closer at the one behind. It has no roof ..... it's almost like it was designed to carry animals. Blimey, not too far removed from UK trains today, then

Not only did the National Railway Museum have a plethora of indoor exhibits, it also had an outdoor area ..... which we had skirted around (because it was really cold), but subsequently decided to take on the chin .... mainly because there was a Harry Potter train out there.

Pic.No.19 The Harry Potter Steam Train - called the 'Wizard Express'

Pic.No.20 This is Izzy with her superhero crush, Sarah. Izzy has loved her since she was born .... but even more amazing .... I managed to take a picture of Sarah looking good (i.e. normal) ... no squinting, scowling, or wandering off! Go girl!

Pic.No.21 Then to top the day off, all three of us took a ride on the minature railway. This is Izzy showing off her wobbly tooth on the ride. Minging

So all, in all, despite my worries about being labelled as a hippy or nerd, it was a fabulous day out. I can't recommend it highly enough (apart from the fact that you will have to brave going up north where the weather is cold and everyone talks funny).

Dahlink, tell me ..... if you could choose an 'ideal day out' what would it be? Ummmmmm?

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Eureka! Let's do some science in Halifax

As you probably already know, Izzy and I spent the half term holidays 'oop north' with my old university chum Sarah, who lives in Leeds. And because Sarah is a teacher, she's ace at organising things that kids love doing. She basically plugs the gap created by my general lack of maternalism (is that a word?). Huzzar. 

And much to my delight, on our second day in Leeds, Sarah had organised for us, and her mother, to visit the 'Eureka! Museum' (opens in new window) in Halifax (Yorkshire, not Nova Scotia).

Sarah said that 'Eureka' was a science museum, so being an Engineer myself, I was as happy as a meerkat with a grasshopper and lizard cocktail (did you know that a group of meerkats is called a 'gang'?).

And the fact that it would supposedly engage Izzy in science stuff was even better. After all, I am eager to get her trained up as an engineer as soon as possible. And if she could take her Fork Lift Truck license sooner rather than later, all the better .. it will save me paying wages to someone else.

It took us 20 minutes to drive from Leeds to Halifax, and it wasn't long before we were outside the Eureka building. The website advised arriving after 2pm to avoid the crowds. But it was still bloody heaving ...... there were sprogs everywhere. It was like picking your way through a flock of locusts getting to the main entrance.

But eventually we arrived at the pay-desk.

"That'll be £9.95 each," the cashier said. Crikey! That was £39.80 in total (3 adults and one child). And given that the museum closed at 4.30pm, it was a lot of money for two and a half hours of fun. Thieving gypsy bastards. 

"I've been pillaged!" I exclaimed loudly to Sarah.

"Actually, the price includes an annual pass, so you can come as many times as you like during the next year," Sarah pointed out.

"Yeh, but I live in bloody Oxford - it's like a six hour round trip." I said. 

"Umm, yeh .... slightly inconvenient I suppose," Sarah concluded.

Anyway, enough of my whining. It was time to go inside and sample the scientific delights ..... and because I am kinder than Mother Theresa except that I don't wear Granny knickers ..... I have got some photographs for you ........................

Pic.No.1 After entering the building, the first room we encountered was a 'crown making' room. Make no mistake, Izzy loves making crowns, but it aint science (you'll see her crown in subsequent photographs)

I decided to study the floorplan to determine what was going on in Eureka, and there were indeed many varied things happening. But the more I studied, the more I came to the conclusion that although there were loads of fun things to do, they were only very loosely linked to scientific principles. So loosely in fact, that the scientificness (is that a word?) was quickly dissipated.

In my opinion, the bloomin' kids should be sat at a desk being taught chaos theory and quantum mechanics. It's no wonder that the Chinese are winning the space race to Mars. They are drumming the principles of aeronautics and phsyics into their kids from the year dot, whereas we are .......

Pic.No.2 ........ letting them play with bubble machines

Pic.No.3 Don't get me wrong, the museum was fun. For example, this is Izzy cycling on a bike type thing. There was a skeleton next to her that replicated all her moves. She loved it, but she ain't going to be discovering penicillin anytime soon

Pic.No.4 Then there was a section where Izzy had to work out her biometrics ..... like her arm span. Is it me, or is knowing your arm span as much use as a gun-dog with no legs?

Pic.No.5 And not forgetting the wobbly mirror which made her look tall and slim. "That's going to make her anorexic," I said to Sarah, "I've read it in the Daily Mail."

Pic.No.6 Sarah just sighed, rolled her eyes, and took Izzy to sit in a huge mock-up of a gob

Pic.No.7 This is my back. I noticed that one of the machines had a challenge on it and I just couldn't resist. You had to turn two dials at exactly the same speed to light up the three lights. It was surprisingly difficult but I perservered until I did it because I am anal like that

Pic.No.8 This is Izzy with her head in a rat (she is still holding that bloody teddy that she won at the funfair). In all fairness, she made a bloody good rat, but I remain sceptical that it will help her become the next Watson or Crick. Sarah said that I was a fascist

Pic.No.9 This is a picture of the Eureka Museum as we left. As you can see, the flock of locusts have dispersed and quiet reigned once more

So what did I think of Eureka? Well, it was definitely not a museum, so that word should be dropped from the official name. There was no old stuff there for a start off.

Was it scientific? No, not really. An attempt had been made to link certain activities with certain scientific principles, but the link was so tenuous that it was rendered virtually moot.They should be teaching children mathematical formulas, goddamit.

Was it fun? Yes it was. Izzy bloody loved it. But some areas were better than others ...... and it all seemed to revolve around the level of interactivity ...... the higher the interactivity, the more fun the rug-rats seemed to have. And there were quite a lot of areas that were more 'exhibitiony' than 'interactivey'.

Was it worth £39.80 for 3 adults and one child? Nope. But if I lived near to Halifax and could use the centre on a weekly basis, then it would be an absolute bargain.

Conclusion: Fun, but there was nothing there that would result in an 'Izzy Einstein' being churned out. 

I dunno, if you want a job doing .......

P.S. Have you got any good visitor places near you?

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