26.7.10

A ROOM WITH
A MEOW

A luxurious hotel suite - complete with
four-poster bed, state-of-the-art
sound system and fine dining -
for just £15 a night?

Sounds like quite a bargain.
But this is a hotel for cats.

At the Longcroft Luxury Cat Hotel in Welwyn
Garden City, Hertfordshire, feline guests can
have a pampering break of their own while
their owners are away on holiday.

The hotel's organic 'A La Cat' menu, which was
developed by a feline nutritionist, includes
treats such as white fish, ethically fished
yellowfin tuna and chicken liver balls.


The hotel has six individually-themed heated
chalets and
bird boxes outside the windows
keep them entertained while porcelain
water fountains deliver perfectly
fresh oxygenated water.


The owners of the hotel, Abi and Matt Purser,
offer around-the-clock care and send absent
owners postcards from the kitties giving
updates on their own little holidays.


TYPE

Do typefaces really matter?

To most people, typefaces are pretty insignificant.
Yet to their devotees they are the most
important feature of text, giving
subliminal messages that can
either entice or revolt readers.

The power of the font goes back to the Greeks
who created handwriting. A typeface may
never quite be able to replicate the intimacy
of pen and ink but with an estimated 200,000
fonts to choose from today, there are no
shortage of different styles
to choose from.


The typeface matters because of its power
to create a sense of recognition and trust.
Banks are particularly aware of this, with
companies like Barclays creating their own
branded font to reinforce a sense of
security at a time when fear of fraud
and scamming is high.


A good typeface creates an emotional response
in relation to the message it is conveying.
You're trying to get that tone of voice right -
you can shout or whisper plus they're used
to sum up the spirit of the age, because
they date quite quickly.


DIARIES

Interesting article on the BBC website about
Samuel Pepys who's diaries captured my
favourite time in the history of London,
the 17th century including the fascinating
period round the Great Fire of 1666.

It is 350 years since one of the UK's most famous
diarists put pen to paper. But what was
Samuel Pepys really like? And why did this
modest clerk become so celebrated?

Readers love him for how he brings to life
everything from his latest evening's boozing
with his fellow clerks, his first "cupp"of the
new drink, tea; his constant arguments
with his wife and his Carry-on capers,
seemingly with almost
every woman in sight.


"He has the sort of curiosity that illuminates
everything it shines on," says the National
Maritime Museum's Quintin Colville. "He's
a lover of music, he's a lover of sex, he's a
lover of administration, he's a lover of
literature, he's a lover of science."


Having read the diaries myself I can recommend
them to anyone curious about the history of
not only London but that whole period.
They make an interesting and occasionally
laugh out loud funny read.


LIGHTNING

Check out these 30 amazing
lightning shots.

CHILLED
OUT

This must be the most
chilled out cat
in the world!


More in here.

This 7 year old feline called Shiro (White) (also
known as Kagoneko (Basket Cat)) is quite a
celebrity in his native Japan: he is already
the subject of two photo books and a DVD
with more to come I'm sure.


SOAP
SHOCKER

It's not very often an episode of a soap
leaves me speechless but last Friday's
Eastenders managed just that.

Denise is alive! In a nutshell: man of the cloth
gone doolally Lucas murdered Denise's
ex-husband Owen on his and Denise's
wedding day and buried him in the
middle of Albert Square.

Many months later the body is found and
Lucas confesses to Denise and then "kills"
her by drowning her in a canal.

A body is found and Lucas "identifies" it as Denise
as no other family members are present.
After Denise's funeral we see Lucas entering
an unknown basement and Denise emerges
from the shadows looking bedraggled!
Can't wait for Lucas to get
his comeuppance!


Oh, now that is good TV!

EDIT 28.7.2010: Denise manages to get away
from Lucas and it turns out she was in the
basement next door to her own house!


20.7.10

DOOM

VINTAGE

A group of divers exploring a shipwreck in the
Baltic Sea have found bottles containing what
is thought to be the oldest drinkable champagne
in the world, made in the late 18th century.

"I picked up one bottle just so we could find
the age of the wreck, because we didn't find
any name or any details that would have
told us the name of the ship," diver
Christian Ekstrom (below)
from Aland said.

Ekstrom and his Swedish diving colleagues
opened the bottle and tasted the contents.

"It was fantastic ... it had a very sweet taste,
you could taste oak and it had a very strong
tobacco smell. And there were very
small bubbles," he said.

Experts said the shape of the bottle showed
it was from the late 18th century, and the bottle
and its contents have been sent to champagne
specialists in France to be analysed.


"We are 98 percent sure that it is Veuve Clicquot
champagne and that it was (made) between
1772 (the year the business was established)
and 1785," Ekstrom said, adding that the cargo
vessel was probably sailing to St Petersburg,
the then capital of Russia. The current title of
the world's oldest champagne is held by
Perrier-Jouet, which has
two bottles from 1825.


Richard Juhlin, a Swedish champagne specialist,
told the newspaper Alandstidningen he believed
the champagne was Veuve Cliquot and said
that if it was from the late 18th century,
it could cost around 500,000 Swedish
crowns (£44 000) a bottle.


Because the wreck lies off Aland, an
autonomous part of Finland, the local
authorities will decide what will be
done with the wreck - and
the champagne.


GAMMON AND
CHICKEN
SORBET

An ice cream van exclusively for our canine
friends will make its first appearance at
the Boomerang Pets Party in
Regents Park next Saturday.

The K99 ice cream was created by a team of scientists
who investigated the perfect combination of
temperature, texture and taste, ensuring the
treats would be delicious to dogs
and completely safe.

It comes in two flavours: Dog Eat Hog World -
a gammon and chicken sorbet topped with a
biscuit bone and and Canine Cookie Crunch -
dog biscuits and ice cream also
topped with a biscuit bone.


Head chef Ceric Nale said: "After a lot of research
we hope they'll be flavours dogs simply can't
refuse". Sally Bezant, spokesperson for
Boomerang Pets Party, added: "We wanted
to give our furry friends the chance to enjoy
their own refreshing snack and an ice
cream van for dogs seemed like
the perfect answer".


The ice creams are available for a 99p
donation to
Berkshire Search
and Rescue Dogs.


HAIRS

I was taking some photos on the spare room
bed at the weekend to put in Ebay. I had a
clear up so I'm selling a few bits.

I used a white sheet as a background. After
I'd finished I put the sheet to one side
thinking I'll fold it up in a minute and
spread the cat fleece back onto the bed.
They like sleeping up there,
especially Mira.


I went out of the room for literally a few seconds
and on my return found Mira lying not on her
fleece 30 cm way but on the clean sheet
I'd used as the background.

She was like "well, you just left it there so
of course I had to put some black hairs
on it!". I just laughed! Cat logic.


A RIGHT OLD
KNEES UP

Not. Just as the ears have settled down a bit my
knees started to play up. I haven't bashed or
damaged them in any way so this
pain is a bit of a mystery.

Getting up and walking up/down stairs is like
having ice picks shoved in them and even
when I'm lying down it's like they're
on fire. Not a lot of fun.

Went to the doc yesterday and I'm now on
the waiting list to see a physio at
St George's Hospital in Tooting.

TO VEIL OR
NOT TO VEIL

While the debate of to veil or not to veil
makes headlines and divides opinion,
this lady from Hove says it well.

Please click on the image
to view a larger version.

Personally I think the whole practise belongs
in the Middle Ages and has no place in a
modern Western society.

If I walked into a bank wearing a balaclava
or a crash helmet I would be
asked to remove it.

And why don't men wear it? What if we
women can't keep our lustful hands to
ourselves after seeing such fine
specimens of the male form?

Ridiculous?
Exactly!


16.7.10

SPECIAL

MR POOH
THE GULL

He's a seagull. Or maybe he's a cat. Or
maybe, given his nickname, he's
actually a bear.

Whatever he 'thinks' he is, Pooh the seagull
is a family pet. He has been part of the
Grimwood family from Shoreham-by-Sea
ever since he arrived unexpectedly as a baby.

Pooh didn't even arrive conventionally by exiting
an egg. In fact the Grimwoods found him in
their fireplace one day. "We heard a rustle
in the lounge when we were watching telly
and we suddenly thought 'Ooh - what's that?"
said June Grimwood. "We reached into the
chimney and pulled out
this young chick."

He was just a baby gull at the time, albeit an
ash-covered baby after falling
down the chimney.

"We put him back on the roof, but it was a bit
of a windy day and he fell back off."

Instead of getting into a flap, June and
Steve Grimwood calmly nursed him
and fed him cat food.

He ate it alongside some unlikely companions -
the family cats. "He slept in the cats' basket,
mingled in amongst the cats and
was happy as Larry,"


Then, one day, Pooh flew the nest. But he still
returns for six months every year. In fact, in
a sense, he's still at home with Mum and Dad,
because he and his partner nest on their roof.
Pooh comes in for meals three times a day,
with the cats Mitzi, Gus and Henry.


"He feeds out of the cat bowls, he comes indoors
and takes the cats' biscuits out of their feeder.
I think he does believe that he is actually a cat,"
said Mrs Grimwood. "I wouldn't say he's mixed up.
He's just very clever. He knows where a good
B&B is by the seaside every year."


WAITING FOR
A STAR

This week's 80's throwback that I can't get
out of my head is Boy Meets Girl
"Waiting For A Star To Fall".

One hit wonder'ism at its best!
Just ignore the dodgy hair!

URBAN
STENCILS

Graffiti-ridden derelict sites have been given
a much needed face-lift with extraordinary
light art by Tigtab from Melbourne.

Each image is created with the help of stencils.
They are placed on light boxes lined with silver foil.
These intricate designs are revealed after a
burst from a camera flash lights up the
inside of the box very briefly.

Tigtab moves around the room, tunnel or drain
repositioning the stencils and firing the flash
repeatedly while the shutter of the camera is
left open to create complex designs


She said: "My photos are predominantly shot
using urban backdrops. I find beauty in decay -
those abandoned and forgotten places all
around us. By bringing light into the
darkness of each space, it fills that space
for a moment in time, and highlights
both their beauty and
impermanence."


HISTORY AT OUR
DOORSTEP

The list of applications for the UK’s new
Tentative List of sites for World Heritage status
has been published and Colliers Wood's very
own Merton Priory is one of them.

It's about a ten minute walk from our house
and I've gone past it millions of times on
the way Abbey Mills market by the river.

Kieran Long writes in the
The Evening Standard:


One of the most significant religious buildings in
Britain from the 12th century until its destruction
during the dissolution of the monasteries
in 1538, the abbey remains an important
medieval archaeological site.


Thomas Becket was educated here in the late 1120s,
and he wore the black cowl of the Augustinian
canons of Merton when he was elected Archbishop
of Canterbury in 1162. The monastery expanded
during the 13th century, and was a favourite
place of King Henry III.

In 1217, Henry held a peace conference with
Louis, Dauphin of France, in the chapter
house, and later in the century stayed
several times a year in private
apartments at the priory.


These episodes attest to the importance of
the place and while today it is in suburban
south London, the remains also tell
archaeologists much of rural life
in the medieval period.

More than 700 bodies were found on the site and
their analysis has shown people here lived
longer, and were healthier, than the
comparable urban populations.

Merton Priory's remains are up there in significance
with a few medieval remains at Westminster Abbey
and remains at St Mary Spital, which are now
preserved underground and out of sight.
At Merton the remains are visible and
above ground, despite being concealed
in the sarcophagus of the A24.


BY THE SEAMS OF
THEIR PANTS

That yodel by Simon LeBon. The mike flying
out of Tony Hadley's hand. Paul McCartney
singing to himself for two minutes before
someone flicked the switch.

The film of the Bulgarian cherry pickers that was
suppose to be Russia's most popular band.
The policewoman who thought some
band was in "dire straits".

To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the day that
rocked the planet,
Live Aid, BBC is making the
story into a TV movie called
When Harvey
Met Bob. Producer Kate Triggs said: "It's a
moving film about two men prepared to
think the unthinkable and achieve
the seemingly impossible."


I've just watched two wonderful documentaries
of the "global jukebox" on BBC4 which brought
back so many memories. It was one of those
perfect days. Everyone of my generation will
remember forever where they were when the
biggest names of the music world took to the
stage in London and Philadelphia.


The production team on both sides of the Atlantic
were flying by the seams of their pants right
up to the very last minute and it was a
miracle the whole day happened at all.


It's weird to imagine now that a simultaneous live
broadcast would be so difficult but back in 1985
it was like walking on the moon. Live TV was
still in its infancy and Live Aid was the only
programme to go out live since Princess Di's
wedding! Of course there were hiccups
throughout the day but all in
all it was spot on.


I was working on the day of the first one but had
the chance to attend the
second one in London
in 2005, known as Live 8, when my friend
Satu won tickets in a competition. You
couldn't buy them so it was
down to pure luck!

So I can say yes, I have seen Madonna live
albeit she was the size of a pinhead
about two miles away!


12.7.10

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Ever since I was at the dentist last week and
Aretha Franklin's "Respect" played on the
radio I've been walking around singing it.

What a classic!


EARLY
BRITONS

Researchers have discovered stone tools
in Norfolk which suggest early humans
arrived in Britain nearly a million
years ago - or even earlier.

The find, published in the journal Nature,
pushes back the timeline of the first
humans in what is now the UK by
several hundred thousand years.

Environmental data suggests that temperatures
were relatively cool so the early Britons may
have been among the first humans to use
controlled fire to keep warm. They may
also have been some of the earliest
humans to wear fur clothing.

At the time there was a land bridge connecting
what is now southern Britain with
continental Europe (below).

There are no early human remains, but the researchers
speculate that the most likely species was Homo
antecessor, more commonly - and possibly
appropriately - known as "Pioneer Man".


Remains of the species have been found in the
Atapuerca region of northern Spain, and dated
to 0.8-1.2 million years ago. So they could
well have been in Britain at around that
time, according to Professor Chris Stringer
of the Natural History Museum in London.

"If the climate was good and the land bridge
was there, there's no real reason they
couldn't have come here as far back
as 1.2 million years ago,"
he told BBC News.


Pioneer Man was much like our own species:
he walked upright, used tools and was a
hunter gatherer. But physically the species
looked rather different. They had a smaller
brain, strong brow ridges and big teeth,
with some primitive features such as
a flat face and no prominent
chin on the lower jaw.


Pioneer man was eventually wiped out by an
Ice Age. These occurred about every 100,000
years, and each time that happened Britain
was depopulated. As conditions became
more benign, a new group of humans arrived.
There were at least eight different waves
of people who died out before the
last wave which is the one
that survives today.


TRADITIONS

Meerkats are my absolute favourites!
Wish you could have a few
of them as pets!

After studying meerkats in the Kalahari for the
past 10 years, Dr Alex Thornton and colleagues
from the University of Cambridge's Department
of Zoology found that some groups of
meerkats always got up later out of
their sleeping burrows than
their neighbours.

These differences appear to have been
maintained as local traditions, with
patterns of behaviour in different
groups being spread by
learning from others.

Studying social traditions among animals in
the wild is difficult because it is hard to
prove that differences in behaviour are
due to the social spread of information
rather than genetics or environmental
factors. This is the first time such
traditional patterns of daily activity
have been observed in animals
outside the laboratory.


According to Dr Thornton: "Studies of animal
traditions are essential for understanding the
biological origins of human culture. Because
most previous studies examined groups of
animals separated by large distances it has
been extremely difficult to work out whether
behavioural differences between groups
really are traditions, or whether they
might be better explained by genetic
differences or differences
in the local ecology."


Dr Thornton's study site in the Kalahari Desert
is shared by fifteen meerkat groups with
overlapping territories, and group
differences in getting-up time could
not be explained by differences
in ecological conditions.


And as male meerkats always breed outside
the group that they were born into, genes
get shuffled between groups, so genetic
factors are unlikely to account for
group differences.


"We found that new immigrants adopted the
behaviour of their new groups and that
differences between groups were maintained
despite groups changing in size and structure
as old members died and new ones
were born," says Dr Thornton.

"So it seems that, like afternoon tea or an
apéritif before dinner, meerkat getting-up
times are local traditions passed
down through the generations."


NOT ENOUGH
OXYGEN

A CLOSE ENCOUNTER
OF THE FEATHERED
KIND

A baby owl had an amazing escape after it
fell from its nest in a Devon zoo - almost
landing on top of an adult lioness.

The tiny tawny owl chick landed beside Indu,
a seven year old 180 kg Asiatic lion, in
the enclosure at Paignton Zoo
Environmental Park.

Keeper Lucy Manning said: "The tawny owls
nest in a lime tree in the lion enclosure. One
day the chick just turned up on the ground.
Indu peered at it for a while but then lost
interest. I think it was too small to eat."

"We believe it got away - if she had eaten
it there would have been fluff and feathers.
It probably flew off - the bird keepers said it
was nearly ready to fledge. An adult
tawny owl was seen nearby."


Zoo staff and visitors were keen to rescue the
chick, but no one could go in while the lions
were in the paddock. Visitor Sheila Hassanien
captured the moment (above) after spotting
the two animals together through
the perimeter fence.

Ms Manning added: "The wonderful thing about
the photo is the look on the owlet's face - it
seems to be demanding food!"


KEVIN AND
THE CRANE

This week's "aaah"
times two!

A baby kestrel which suffered a broken leg when
it fell out of a tree is recovering in hospital after
nurses fixed its injury with metal pins.

The bird, named Kevin, had his leg strapped
in a colourful purple cast following his
treatment at St Tiggywinkles wildlife
hospital in Buckinghamshire.

The bird will be released back into the wild in
the autumn after recovering from his injury,
which nurses fixed using a hypodermic
needle as a pin, some thin
pieces of wire and
dental cement.

The tiny old patient was found lying on
the ground in woodland near
St Alban's last week.

Les Stocker, founder of St Tiggywinkles, said:
"Doing the best job possible was very important.
Kestrels will hover over their prey and then drop,
using their legs to grab a mouse or something, so
having the use of their legs is absolutely vital."

"Fortunately this one is a marvellous little
bird and started hobbling around
almost immediately."


Meanwhile a baby African Crowned Crane is
walking tall after carers fitted it with bright
green slippers - to straighten its curled toes.
The tiny hand-reared chick was born with a
slight defect which meant toes on both feet
were not developing as they should.


Keepers at Paradise Park in Hayle, Cornwall,
fitted the slippers in a bid to 'straighten things
out' - and now the one inch high
rare bird is walking tall.


Curator David Woolcock said: "For the first few
days we put small bandages on the chicks toes
as they were slightly curled, and this just
helped straightened things out.
The chick is doing very well."


The tiny crane is being hand-reared at the
centre amid fears it would not be looked after
by its mother. It is currently being regularly
exercised to strengthen its underdeveloped legs
and will be weaned in late August, when
it will be introduced to other cranes.


The chick is expected to grow to over four
feet in height in just a few months and
will have a high protein diet,
including mealworms.


Mr Woolcock added: "In the past, the female
parent of this chick has not done very well
when she has laid a clutch of eggs inside
rather than outside her hut."

"So when this happened again, and with
this species having been recently upgraded to
'vulnerable' status, we made a decision to
remove the eggs and incubate them ourselves.
We were delighted when one hatched. So the
keepers are now full time mums with two
hourly feeds and giving some much needed
tender loving care to this little one."


ART
DISTILLED

Check out these absolutely stunning photos
of the molecules in alcoholic drinks.

Just like images of snowflakes, each drink is
different - as seen here when magnified up to
1,000 times under a high tech laboratory
microscope. Produced by American firm
Bevshots, they are on offer as art works
for buyers who appreciate the
hidden beauty of booze.

Capturing the tiny parts that make up
favourite drinks like vodka, pina colada
and Chablis, the pictures were taken in
Florida State University's chemistry
department using an old-fashioned
35mm camera.

"What you can see in the magnified pictures
are the crystalised carbohydrates that have
become sugars and glucose,"
Lester Hutt, 35, the founder
of Bevshots explains.

"Each image was created by using a pipette of
each particular drink and squeezing a drop
onto a slide. Then the droplets are allowed
to dry out and the slide is placed under the
microscope and a picture taken."


It can take up to four weeks for the alcohol to
dry out completely in an airtight container and
the whole process can take up to three months.
Some drinks such as vodka do not have as many
impurities in them as cocktails such as a pina
colada so when they break down into their
constituent parts they can fall apart and not
dry out properly. Photographing vodka
can take up to 200 attempts
to get it right.


Cocktails can have fruit and soft drinks in
them which contain citric acids and complex
sugars which dry out well and look great
photographed. The incredible shapes and
colours of the boozy artwork are highlighted
by shining natural light on top and
through the bottom of the slide.

"With my background in chemistry, I saw the
potential in these kind of pictures and am so
glad to be able to offer them up as art works.
It is a pleasure to show people what makes
up their favourite drinks and how
beautiful it can look," said Lester.


11.7.10

AWESOME

30-year-old Neil Pasricha never imagined that
writing about the smell of gasoline, thinking it’s
Thursday when it’s really Friday, or wearing
underwear just out of the dryer would
amount to anything.

A self-described “average guy” with a typical
9-to-5 job in the suburbs, Neil started his blog
100 Awesome Things, as a small reminder -
in a world of rising sea levels, global
conflict, and a troubled economy - of the
free, easy little joys that make life sweet.

He certainly didn’t anticipate that his site
would gain a readership of millions of people,
win two Webby Awards
(“the Internet’s
highest honor” according to The New York
Times), be named one of PC Magazine’s
Top 100 Sites, or become a place where
people from around the world would
come to celebrate the simple
pleasures of daily life.

Now the website has been turned into a book.
From neighbors with pools to ordering off the
menu at fast-food restaurants to fixing electronics
by smacking them, The Book of Awesome takes
on life’s sweet feats with all the honest humor
and winning enthusiasm that has earned
his blog its millions of followers.

But while powered along by Pasricha’s distinctive,
fresh, and hilarious voice, its not about one
man’s favorite things, but rather a catalog of
the universal little pleasures we all share.
Arising out of riffs on popping bubble wrap
and getting a trucker to blow his horn is
an unexpected, genuine sort of inspiration,
as The Book of Awesome offers up a hearty
cheer for all the little things
we take for granted.


My personal awesome things: the way washing
smells when it has dried outdoors, the smell of
freshly cut crass, that time of night when you
step out of your back door and all the noisy
neighbours with their blaring stereos have
gone indoors, lying in bed watching your
favourite TV show with a big tub of ice
cream and when you get an unexpected
parcel in the post from a good
friend. And many more.


THE TENTACLED
TELLER

I'm not a great fan of football but during
The World Cup the tentacled fortune teller
Paul The Octopus has kept me amused.

Germany's oracle "they ink it's all over - it is now"
star has become a worldwide celebrity for his
apparent ability to accurately predict the
outcome of football matches.

He has correctly forecast the result of six of
Germany's World Cup games, and has now
plumped for Spain to take the title.

So just how extraordinary is this cephalopod?
Paul is a common octopus, which is considered
the most intelligent of all invertebrates.

In experiments it has seemingly distinguished
the brightness, size and shape
of different objects.


But mathematicians point out that his run
of predictions is not that extraordinary.

As Paul was predicting two possible outcomes
(win or lose, and not a draw), he had a 1/64
chance of predicting six correct outcomes -
a 1/2 chance of predicting the first game correctly,
then a 1/4 chance of predicting the first two games,
a 1/8 chance of predicting all the first three games,
and so on. The chances of him correctly
predicting seven games, up to
the final, is 1/128.


Chris Budd, professor of applied mathematics at
the University of Bath, says that even highly
experienced people find it difficult to predict
the outcome of a football game, and
compares Paul's feat of "prophecy"
to the tossing of a coin.



"If you toss a coin and it comes down heads six
times, that is unlikely," he says. "However it is
not as unlikely as predicting which numbers
will win the (UK) lottery, which is 1/14 million.
Mathematics can be spooky in the way it can
appear to predict things," he says.


David Spiegelharter, the Winton Professor of the
Public Understanding of Risk at Cambridge
University is not convinced either that Paul's
predictions are that remarkable. The
octopus's run of correct predictions
is all down to luck, he says.

Using the coin analogy, he that says if someone
flips a coin and gets the same result nine or 10
times, it is not remarkable in itself, but it will
seem remarkable to the person flipping the coin.
"Our perception about how chance happens
is not very good, it is not part of our
human characteristics," Prof
Spiegelharter says.


As the world digested Paul's prediction
Spain were indeed the bookmakers'
favourites - exactly as they have been
throughout the tournament.


EDIT 12.7.2010: Paul was right!
Spain took the trophy
1-0


ARSE!

This is funny! And they've been
doing it for 30 years yet it's the
first I've heard of it!

The southern Californian city of Laguna Niguel
has been enjoying an annual ritual, in
which locals and visitors bare their
bottoms at passing trains.

For 30 years, the city has hosted "Mooning Amtrak"
as crowds line up along the railway tracks,
dropping their trousers when a train passes by.
Up to 10,000 people take part, and visitors
are encouraged to leave their cars at
home and arrive by train.

Local legend has it the tradition began in
1979, after a bar room bet.
A drinker at the
Mugs Away Saloon, which stands directly across
the road from the railway, offered to buy a
drink for anyone who would run outside
and moon at the next train.


One customer took him at his word, and a ritual
was born. The event even has its own website,
this year proudly headed "31st Annual Mooning
of Amtrak". It also promoted a newer
offshoot: "5th Annual Mooning
of Metrolink".


It features directions to Camino Capistrano,
the road where trousers and dignity are
dropped each year, and helpfully lists train
times through the day, so that people
can schedule their disrobing.


And after 8pm, there is night mooning. "Bring
a flash light with plenty of batteries, or
better yet, bring a camping lantern,"
the website advises.


There is even a "Frequently Asked Questions"
section for mooning debutantes. "Can I
decorate my butt?" is one FAQ.

Yes, that's OK, apparently.

WHERE THE
CAT SLEEPS

A NON
HOLIDAY

It's been a bit quiet on the Western front for
three weeks now ... I was due to fly to Finland
on the 23rd of June for a holiday and my
mother's 70th birthday.

However couple of days before my ears started
playing up, a bad flair up so I decided to stay
home. There was no point in going over there
and lying in bed for a week and a half.

I did that at home instead. For three weeks. Not
exactly a holiday but more of a forced rest
break. The weather's been absolutely boiling
as well, near 30 C every day so
I've been indoors in bed.

Not a lot I could do about it. The flight
was only £70 so no great loss but it
would've been nice to see everybody.


I'm feeling a bit better now, still not 100% though
so I have booked an appointment with the
doc to see if there any more tests they can
do on the ears but I doubt it. The testing
last year was pretty conclusive, I might
have to just put up this for
the rest of my life.

C'est la vie.