Monday, 12 March 2012

The Queen and miscellanous stuff

Hello Readers,
Interesting week this past week. 

The Better Halves Club met at Thai Dusit ( to bid adieu to another member.  This was my first Thai restaurant here and it was very tasty.  I picked a mild spicy dish and it actually had a little spiciness to it which is good.  There were seven people there with two missing.  The pregnant member had her baby (congrats Sarah and Dave) so she hopefully will be back with Baby A at our next lunch.  We are gaining new members by word of mouth so hopefully everyone else is enjoying getting together as much as I am.  The restaurants have all been good which adds to the experience.
I had a rare mid-week treat.  As part of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Celebration (check it the website here); Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Philip and Kate were at Leicester (pronounced Lester) to kick off the tour.  I'm not sure why the tour started in Leicester but the Diamond Jubilee celebrates her 60th year on the throne so she is touring the UK this year to thank her subjects per the Jubilee website.  One of the Better Halves Clubbers saw the event and invited us to join her (thanks Becky) so two of us took her up on the invitation.  Leicester is a 22 minute train ride away so I was able to fit it into Kal's pick up/drop off schedule.  (Sidebar I - Per my English Rulers poster Queen Elizabeth II and George III (1760-1820) have both held the throne for 60 years but I recall someone mentioning that Elizabeth has ruled the longest so she must have passed him recently. Sidebar II - If anyone remembers my Skegness post they will recall the clock tour that was built to celebrate the Queen's Golden (50 years) Jubilee.)  Now onto Leicester!

A photo I found on the internet of The Queen, Kate and Prince Philip leaving London on their way to Leicester.

Jubilee banner outside the train station. 

We arrived at the station an hour before their scheduled appearance time and picked a spot to stand.  No one knew their route out of the train station so we picked a spot and hoped for the best.  The time went by quickly as we started up a conversation with those around us.  (The couple in front of us have a daughter living in Milwaukee which reminded me of The Other Calley's wedding - how's wedded bliss Other Calley and Michael?)  We ended up being thirty feet from them so we didn't get a good look at them through the throngs upon throngs of people.  I did get a few nice pictures of everyone holding up their camera's but no close ups of the royals.  You can see Prince Philip on the left with his hands clasped behind his back, Kate in the middle under her black hat looking away from us, and the Queen's purple and black hat to the right of Kate.  Not a great view but it was very neat to be so close to them.  Everyone around us was equally excited so I guess they don't appear in public very often.

Profile shot of Kate and the Queen's hat.

Kate and the Queen in the royal car.

Lunch was at a place called The Last Plantagenet.  I had the All Day Brunch which was two sausages, two bacon rashers, two eggs, chips (fries for the Yanks) and baked beans.  Pretty good meal washed down with a Ruddles beer.

Close up of the clock tower which was the final stop at Leicester for the tour.  No pics of the royals here as I had to be back to pick up Kal.

The crowd four hours before the royals were scheduled to appear.  Just as packed as the train station.

Leicester Cathedral - we arrived as the crowd was dispersing.  We must have just missed them.  In addition to the mass of humanity outside they had a band, large screen TV, and dancers.

Thanks for pic Becky - how can I pass up a photo op like this?

My travel mates and fellow Better Halves Club members Becky and Lori posing with Thomas Cook.  Per Leicester City Council website Cook was a travel pioneer who started offering group travel packages to ordinary people.  The Thomas Cook travel company is quite large now and has offices across England.

My pub glasses collection doubled this week!  I'm on a roll.  See the picture below.  Keep 'em coming pubs!
The Mark Elliott pic - A half pint Singa Beer glass with a dragon wrapped around the base and a pint Ruddles glass with a horseshoe.

And introducing a new feature - the Tim "The Tool Man" Taylor Home Improvement section of the blog.  The shower drains have been very slow draining which led me to believe there was a clog in the piping.  I bought a drain cleaner and tried it but it didn't affect the drains.  Next step was to take apart the drain and this is what I found:

Removing the drain cover (leaning against the floor curb) showed a gray ring around a white cap.  (The small hole in the cover is the overflow port.)  The cover clips onto the ring which allows one path for the water to flow down the drain in the white cap - the couple centimetre tall opening between the cover and grey ring.  First design flow restriction.

Next I found that the white cap was actually a cap attached to a funnel.  The white cap is placed into the drain such that the funnel goes into the bottom of the cup.  The water then drains through the funnel into the cup full of water.  In order for the water to reach the drain it has overflow the cup.  Note that the cup is always full of water.  Second design flow restriction.

At this point I realise the drain isn't clogged, it is just a low flow drain design.  I am used to the higher flow mesh grid type drain covers followed by the P-trap which allows the water to drain a few inches before reaching obstructions.  Not a huge deal but frustrating as we have to clean the shower floors with bleach frequently as the slow drain encourages mold growth.  The drain design is this week's "Dan Stine extreme self restraint in the face of surmounting adversity moment of the week".

Super excited KK in her Girl Guides uniform.  I need to make a correction from last week's blog.  My English colonist fact checking cousin Dana (jk Dana, I love Canada) caught my error.  They don't have Girl Scouts over here, they have Girl Guides.  Kal loves going which is great.  Not sure what/if their community activities are yet but she loves attending the Friday meeting.  Doing crafts plus socialising with others plus snacks is right up her alley.  Plus Lori is taking her to the church and using the quiet time to do her weekly homework so double bonus!

This week Kalle had her birthday party, here she is with her mates.  We saw Journey 2, went to the mall to browse and eat lunch, then came home where Kal showed everyone how to make duct tape roses.  The movie was pretty good except for the ten minute interruption where they spliced together the film.  You knew something was wrong when the huge vertical lines started appearing on the screen.  Lunch was good also, we tried Studio One where the food was reasonably priced and very good.  Kind of a hidden gem in the mall, one of the girls had eaten there and recommended it for us. 

On Sunday we attended the Littleover Methodist Church for the first time.  Kalle's Girl Guides are required to attend a colour guard parade at the church the second Sunday of every month so we all attended.  Not sure what that the parade is for yet but it is every month so I will figure it out soon.  The lesson of the day was based upon Jonah and the big fish which was refreshing.  Most of the church services we have attended over here do not have a message or lesson to their services which I miss.  Lori likes the CoE services, KJ liked that service, and KK and I are still on the fence so I am sure we will attend the church again.  Our church tour continues...

Sunday was also our first garden (yard) mowing of the year.  My outdoor thermometer is in the shade and it read 14.4 C (58 F) on Sunday.  Not sure what it was in the sun but it sure was nice.  KJ and I were in our shorts and tee's mowing and trimming the garden and we were sweating.  Just a beautiful day with blue sky and blinding sunshine.

Of course I had to wreck the day by starting KJ on his Geometry workbook we purchased a few weeks ago.  The book has eleven chapters and he did half of the first chapter so it's a nice start.  The goal is to finish the workbook by the end of summer which is doable.  I'm not to excited about making him do the extra work but am less excited about him falling to far behind when we return.  Fortunately for us he sees the bigger picture and doesn't complain to much about having to do the extra work.

Gaming update - I also finished Bastion for the second time this week (much faster when you have all of the upgraded weapons from the beginning) and have unlocked almost everything.  I have three items left to complete the game but don't think I will.  It's kind of liking reading a book for me.  I may read a book twice because I may have missed something but never three times because I know what is coming by then so I lose interest quickly.  Easily one of the best games I have ever played though.  Now back to summer vacation planning.

Thanks for listening,

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