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He is a happy chap



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Pretty damn awesome ! This light is the dogs dangly bits :-)




70’s hotel room

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Check out this hotel room. Imagine my surprise when I checked in.




Mallet Finger – Part 2

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Hello World

The finger problem continues I have been told all be trained professionals

  • 1 week in a splint
  • 3 weeks in a splint
  • 6 weeks in a splint

And if does not work as there is no guarentee then they don’t know what the next stage is, great.

Talking to a London Hand clinic the splint for 6-8 weeks was the advice, forgot to ask about what if it dont work, will go there if I need to.

On to the splint, as I mentioned neither of the ones I had so far were the best in my eyes. Managed to find one on tinternet that used thermoplastic but could not find then for sale, so off to e-bay I went:hmsplint4.JPG

Polymorph theromplastic, reuseable plastic £3 delivered for 100g bag, weird stuff.
Water in a cup in the microwave, 2 mins, drop some thermoplastic granuals in, wait for them to go clear , work like putty, wine bottle rolling pin roll flat, scissors cut to shape, mould, run it under cold water, Done:


not the pretiest thing but much better that its rivals, this stuff is great, now what else can I make ?

then I decided to turn it over easy hot water warm it up and mould:hmsplint6.JPG

and now I need to shut this puter and chat to this guy:

Hyde Park Calling Part 2 + Mallet Finger

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Headline acts – Crowded House & Peter Gabriel

Crowded House

Great stuff, all the original tracks were played with skys like thunder as it had been on and off all afternoon, and then it broke.  When I say rain I mean a huge bucket in the sky opened, 20 seconds from dry to soaked to the skin.   There was a mass scramble for umbrellas and waterproofs, the music stopped a few minutes after and we had to sit it out.  Suppose it must have lasted 10 minutes or so not really sure, but it stopped as fast as it started.  We then in the realisation that we were actually really wet and getting cold now, then I noticed :
No that is not a party trick thar finger really is bent at the end and no I could not straighten it !

Peter Gabriel

Great stuff, sounds exactly the same as he ever did, now bald and a lot older but just great.

Bus back to Lavender Hill and food at the Thai resuaurant next door to Lais place, and off to bed V happy.


Woke Sunday and first thing I thought of, finger, nope still bent :-( Once back in Cheltenham rang emergency doctor who said A&E mate.  Off down there, Sunday @ 7 ish is a good time to go there, straight through Doctor, X-ray, Doctor and diagnosis, Mallet finger, outcome:
Wear this for 6 weeks mate, if it comes off and the finger bends the clock starts again, don’t get it wet or dirty bye.  How impracticle is that, but suppose I will have to get used to it. 

1 day in and after splint came off once and the fact that I can move the finger in the splint off to my doctors I went  “cant help you” so hospital it was, next size down splint too small I will fit another type of splint:
Do these people have no idea ? 1 this only as strong as the bottom piece of tape and within 5 mins of being on the finger was already bent, 6 weeks like that would do nothing.

I am off to the Fracture clinic 27/06/2007 will see what they say, but I a lining myself up for 6 weeks of splint wearing.

Hyde park calling part 1

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So far rushmore were great but in a v dark tent so outside we went to forever like red on the main stage bit like muse but definately not shownmen had no idea on working the crowd !

HotSingletrack – Mountain biking in Cheltenham / Gloucester

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Hot Singletrack is the site for a  group of friends based in the Cheltenham and Gloucester areas that get together on a Tuesday night to battle with mountain bikes :-)  It all started in Oct 1998 and there is still one regular rider from that first ride !

The group has changed over time, one guy has gone off to Australia to work, others had children and some moved all over the country.  So if you fancy joining the ever evolving group of people mountain biking in this great part of the country,  just keep and eye on the posts on to see where the next ride is, maybe post a comment and come along to play.

See ya


Lost my world – Nearly

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Hi everyone

Heard funny clicking noise under computer desk the other day and ignored it. 2 days later wondered “what is that” and delved under, it was the USB hard drive, thought I will re-boot the whole system including drive that will sort it, BIG mistake !Drive refused to come online, then the reality started to hit, this drive has all my Photos, music collection and video on, and don’t talk to me about backup !

Much messing about then ensued, this included buying another drive, that was the easy bit, then set about taking the caddy apart. Once in it it revealed an IDE drive, trying to mix these with my SATA boot drive on my Dell never did work well, so resurrect an old PC I did. Fire it up with drive as slave and nothing, heart sinks further. Pick the drive up, no it was not mounted “correctly” just hanging out the side of the PC, and bamm hard reboot with no warning, but then on re-start the drive came to life WOW. Start copying FAST, and off to work I go. On return 50% had copied, then stop, and drive did not exist again, a whole evening of putting the drive at certain angles, and knocking it over whilst it was copying once dohh, I managed to get everything off, next port of call for that drive sledge hammer !

So this has to be a warning, so set about housekeeping and backup.

Housekeeping – Best solution here I found was DupKiller – did a cracking of finding the hidden duplicate files for me, must have deleted over 60GB worth of files if not more ! and it works will under Vista.

Then to the “backup” – Tried loads of solutions here including the one built into Vista Ultimate, they all seem to want to compress things, which just eats time on jpg and avi files with little gain, the windows one just says “video files, “picture files” ….. and grabs everything from the requested drive, and I did get one that used ntbackup which created one file with everything in but gave me no restore option : (

Then I found AlwaysSync does not initially label itself as “backup” software, cos its not its more ! It keeps folders in sync, that includes changes, additions and deletions. It can do this Real time and in both directions, little scary, but I quickly set up one way copy, and some scheduled tasks to update the backups and Left it to it.

Just checked a folder that I knew there were changes in, and they were in sync, and the NT scheduler and the jobs had indeed run successfully, so I am all sorted, which makes me feel MUCH better ! and this works well under vista also.

Going forward I still like the idea of the Maxtor Shared Storage II unit :

Currently 299 notes in maplin

Seems to do everything, 1TB configured as 500GB Raid 1 (mirrored), a UpNP server, iTunes server, print server and Network attached (10/100/1000 Ethernet). Then I could use this on a “day to day basis” and just use it, then use Always Sync to back that up say once a month onto a USB drive, and keep that off site. Sounds like a plan to me !

Just need to save some pennies now.

Off now


Japan 2006

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hello world here goes for the first 11 days with more spelling mistakes in that i can imagine and no full stops :-)
The flight
Up @ 9 out the house for 11 and on the tube to heathrow, now that is what I call a civilized flight time, took off at 2 late due to 2 pasengers that had checked in with luggage but not shown up at the gate?? Made up the time V japenese. 12 hours 3 movies and not a lot of sleep due to japenese school trip all round us and we were in tokyo, hot humid tokyo
Day 1

Well not so much day 1 as it was aleady 1 ish in the afternoon but first night we were posh-ing it, flight out to ishigaki was at 6:40am so hotel in the airport it was. Not sure they were to rucksacs mind you. Stuff down quick shower then off into tokyo, oops not eaten. 1000 yen each later full on bento box from sit down restaurant in airport that’s £10 for both of us, things are looking good, thought Japan was expensive? Now for the tube, the ticket machines are mad and you seem to be forever buying tickets to get anywhere not good when one is grumpy from lack of sleep. Straight to the sony building, to be honest though nothing new and all a tad disapointing :-( quick look at the sights on the one road and tierdness got the better of us so off to the hotel it was, 30 seconds after head hitting pillow off with the faries 5pm !

Day 2
3 am rolled round quickly and the morning started, up and ready fully recharged it was out of the hotel door actually into the check in lounge across the room straight to the checkin desks, what a great idea that was (tims) queue once to check in then again to drop off luggage, thought the british liked queueing ? Try Japan they are obsessed with it! Flight went in a flash as I found the sudoku in the flight magazine that’s it hooked ! Touchdown ishigaki, new meaning to the word hot, samoa all over again, out of the airport into a taxi, the taxi’s are weird, all old toyotas ours having 250k km on the clock, but they all have a mecanical door opener for the rear nearside door operated by the driver, so it pulls up and the door just magically opens you get in and the door shuts weird. So off to our minshku, well maybe the driver has no idea where it is, and if you pronounce any part of a word incorectly they look at you as if you have come from a different planet! Off to the local spar to use the telephone, it was bust, taxi driver and shop owner bickering at each other in jibberish, back in the car again, and repeat the same thing again and all of a sudden we knew exactly where we were going and we were off ?? Arrive midday ish lai in jeans ! Really bad move soooooo hot 100 meters walk and my shirt was ringing wet to be told check in 3pm but we can leave our bags. So off to town well 3 shops to be precise and a beach that was OK but not mauritus and not allowed to swim as they are farming black pearls just off shore. What are we going to do for 3 nights ? Sat in local shop for an hour or so wrote some postcards ate, and eventually 2 came round try back at the minshku. Rules rules rules barked at us and with what english he knew did not realise that “pissed off” does not actually mean “a little upset” dinner 6:30pm breakfast 7:30am don’t be late ! Outside shoes off at the door and there are separate toilet slippers in the toilet that you must change into whilst in the toilet. ohh and try and be nice to my wife she does not like foreigners great. Enough of this rental car required bus into town, car lot 1 no cars, try another, lot 2 no cars getting dispondent now, try here, lot 3 yes yippee a swanky brand new mitsabushi colt sat nav air con the works. Only one problem I have not swapped my licence for the plastic one and the paper one is not international :-( oops guess who is not flavor of the month now. So 2 more nights and no car ahhhh. The rental firm were so apologetic that they could not let me have a car they drove us to our minshku (a 30 min trip !) by now need shower, play cards and chill and all of a sudden food was up, then back to the room which really was just a square box with rush matting on the floor Lai forgot the mozi spay and her ankles had been feasted upon! Then to sort out our bed, now which order foam first futon ? No idea but a little logic later and bed was made, bed ahhh sleep.

Day 3
Up early as breakfast was 7:30 and don’t be late. Takitome island beckoned a quick glance at the bus timetable revedaled it was to be a taxi again, v few busses :-( but no sooner was it ordered it had arrived and we were off. Short ferry ride later and dumped on an island we were, touts vying for business renting bicycles and water buffalo drawn carts but when you have no idea where you are going or the tour guide is in japanese neither appealed. So off into the tourist office looking building, this was a gem, and should be sent off to the loney planet guide, english speaking staff (to a fashion) and laminated walking maps (required in this heat) in english for hire 100 yen (50p) and off we set. An hour or so later and a few mozi bites on we had walked right round the island, the streets if you could call them that were covered in imaculately swept white sand which just made it hotter with the sun bouncing off it, so more food in an air conditioned room sat on the floor japanese style cooled us off, quick queue to climb a concrete set of steps to a viewing platform for the classic picture of the island and back to the ferry it was. Down on time for tea and the the uber friendly japanese guest turned up and instantly made us feel welcome, awamori (okinawa sake) started to flow, food came and went and then the traditional 3 string banjo type instrument came out and the more awamori he drank the more slured the lyrics were, he grouped all the japanese guests in a circle with us which was fun as he was the only english spoken one of them! Another sudoku and out like a light, however that was not for the whole night, this place only had slot air con that only took up to 4 hours at a time, and a temperature guage that was out of whak, within the first 4 hours, I managed to put on a full set of PJ’s socks and get a blanket out, freezin, then in went off and 30 later I was in a pool of sweat reaching for some more coins :-( at least I go to sleep easily.

Day 4
Early start again, seems the way here, and Lai’s foot really balooning now, she has a tempur foot, if you press it it takes a good 30 seconds for it to return to puffy nice! And scour the books for what to do, reminded again that the first thing I need to do on return to the UK is to get my international licence :-) but sukuji beach was supposed to be a beauty and just round the corner, so off we set 30 mins on foot and the sea was infront of us, tide out and samoa it was not, signs everywhere saying beware of jellyfish and a bottle of vinegar next to the sign incase of a sting v welcoming not. OK after a quick nap, the walk was tiring and no chance of a swim we decided that the beach lived up to how its name was pronounced “skuzzy” beach, so aloner look in the holiday bible “the rough guide” and yonehara was the one, cracking snorkeling and kit to rent, we were off. A local bus ride later and we were dumped off at a camp sight, a quick look at the sea and it did not look promicing, undetured parasol and snorkel hired we set up camp on the beach. It was low tide again so the idea was to walk out over some of the suposidly dead reef swimming in the pockets of water to a sheer sea wall, so off I set. Neon blue fish visable from the shore looking good, it was amazing ! Sooo many sea life from the outset and water was like being in a bath. The fish were friendly and came to chat. I was determined to get to this wall, which was scarey at times for fear of destroying coral :-( but I made it. And into the open sea I launched, first thought was WOW and second, blimey where did all these jelly fish come from, then I thought of the vinegar on the previous beach for jelly fish stings and then I paniced. Oit of the sea as quick as I got in, and sat there for a while. Others were out so it must be OK I told myself, so in again. Nahh it was not going to happen. So I gave up, from what I did see however it did look fantastic ! Back at the hire shop returning the kit was given free dragon fruit, a weird spikey pink fruit that I had seen loads of but not tried, now another fave ! And to the bus, got the time table wrong, and we had another 45 mins to wait. Wandering aimlessly on an empty road we found one of the jems of the holiday so far, Laura which was a restaurant that would not have been out of place in an up market cornwall village, and I presume that it was Laura hrself that prepared us a v late lunch, but what a lunch, three courses and all god stuff, came out a whole 4 english pounds lighter each ! Who said this place was expensive ?? Bought a bottle of awamori en route to repay the singing guy, but alas he had left so I had to have a go at drinking it all, failed miserably on finishing it, but did restore the faith in foreigners a little with the wife as we tried sharing it with her.

Day 5

Up early local bus to town, getting the hang of this now, and drop off bags in the left luggage at the ferry port and have a wander round the streets again. Lai picks up a quicksilver bikini, but is shocked that the medium fits ! They are all v small here. Bus out to the airport was @ 3 and we were off feeling like we had “done” the island. 2 hr flight to fukuoka and a quick hop on the tube and we were en foot again looking for our ryokan, a step up form a minshku, good instrustions printed from their web site, well done Lai, and we were checking in, step up it was for one thing the air con was not slot, quick shower, shared bathroom, and we were out seeing the night life, walked the wrong way into town but we were getting used to that now. wandered about looking for food and eventually just went into the next noodle bar we saw as we were getting past hungry. A few metres on after eating we found the yatai, famous street stalls on the river bank, we decided to try something small and plubed for a BBQ set, sitting not asking the price as everyone is so honest here hmmm we got 7 skewers of V cheap meat , one being simply chicken skin and another just chicken grissle (we ate neither) a beer and a green tea and then the bill 3300 yen about 18 GBP let that be a lesson to us! Back at the ryokan time to test out skype on the phone as there was wifi in reception, bullseye chatted to mum, who imediately thought there was something wrong, nan hatch who was still recovering from her op who thought it was costing us the earth and chris in luxembourg who was just impressed, phone definitely worth it ! 1 am now time for some kip after quick shower and dip in japanese bath.

Day 6

A little late rising today no breakfast time curfew to deal with and a late night. Off to explore, first stop breakfast, dropped into the first plac that looked 1/2 decent and pointed to something on the menu, ended up with all I can describe as an uncooked omlette, won’t be doing that again, quick stop for a coisent and got free coffee now that’s better. Canal city next port of call, not the best name but turned out to be a huge shopping mall with loads of good shops, muji demolishing over an hour and providing loads of scooby snacks. On the hour you get dancing water to music from the “canal”. Next stop an electronics hypermarket, thought I would find everything new about to hit the UK but nope disapointed again all the same stuff, apart from video mobile phones which do not work in the UK, I have to say right now the japanese are obsessed with, even more than me! Quick look at the map and the speedboat arena looked promising off we set dropping the camera memory stick in to be CD’ed en route. Boats turned out to be the equivalent of the dogs at walthemstow ! So pick up CD’s it was and back to the ryokan it was for a quick breather. Another study of the map and the bible (rough guide) suggested fukuoka tower, food first off to a restaurant recommended to us “en” but could we as heck find it and nobody else had heard of it, so straight to the tower. Out of the station thought we had the route nailed, but when we got to the previous train stop worked out that we were indeed walking the wrong way, with the tower shutting gave it a miss and re-started the food quest. The next gem a food bar in a street full of rip off merchants that were not at all rip off, really good food and 2 meals including sweet, beer and tea set us back 15 GBP I want one of these places in the UK. Late again, another 1am finish must and get to sleep earlier!

Day 7

Up late surprise surprise and just about had enough time to get up ready and packed before the latest checkout time, off to the railway station for out fist of many train trips. Turned our rail pass voucher into a train pass and then picked up a bento box at one of the many stalls at the train station for the journey. And on to the platform. Boy do these trains run on time and fast! 1 1/2 hours later and full up we were in hiroshima, from there it was a short 25 minute train journey then 15 min ferry ride with all the day trippers we were on miyajima a small island just off the coast from hiroshima, with people friendly deer! Straight into the tourist information office for a map and we off to the real posh place, this was the treat, pamper ourselves place that looked fantastic on the internet, but we were not to find out yet checkin was not until 3 I am sure they do this just to have a rule ? So off we set around the island, we started the walk up the hill but soon gave up and took the free shuttle bus to the gondola and the 2 stage gondola to the top 1000 yen each took a panoramic shot and set off to the next high point on foot this involved going down down down then loads of hiker territory up, guess what was at the top ? A shop just incase you were hungry ?!? A few more pictures and then the decent along with an australian girl we had befriended on route. That was a down and half that was to do our legs in for a few days to come! Shirt completely sodden from the heat I wandered back into the posh place ! Then the moment of truth and boy did it not disapoint! We had in effect two double rooms with our own bathroom which included a wooden bath that you dialed in a temperature on the control panel and pushed go 15 mins later it played you a tune and your bath was ready. Not only was the bath wooden the whole wet room was! Now the idea of japanese baths are not for cleaning yourself they are for relaxation after a shower, so the 15 mins are for a shower, which as per usual was a wet room with the controls at sitting height, you sit on a stool and shower sat down. Once all clean and soap free time for the plunge, fantastic, I get the feeling that me water bill will be going up once back in the UK! Then for the meal we turned up at our alotted time not really knowing what to expect 8 courses later we were full:

1 – 3 Japenese appetisers
2 – sashimi (raw fish)
3 – bead curd course
4 – fresh fish rice porrige, loads of added stuff
5 – tempura (all sorts fried in batter made with ice)
6 – green tea noodles
7 – rice dish with fish
8 – fruit

All washed down with green tea, draft janenese beer served in an iced glass, then hot sake V good. Back to the room to find that our beds had been made, cool. A quick walk to see the shrine at night cos it is supposed to be good, then sleep.

Day 8

Breakfast was a similarly a feast a tray full of stuff with loads of rice, finished off with coffee. Coffee that’s another weird thing you can buy coffee and tea in bottles hot or cold from a vending machine from just about anywhere on any street corner at any time day or night. Today was off to hiroshima, re-tracing steps ferry train and we were there, quick tram ride we were at the peace memorial museum, picked up an audio tour machine, which kept repeating itself, an hour later and I knew all that happened over and over again so headed off for food, getting a pattern here ? Following the rough guide we headed for the 4th floor of the oknomaki mura building to the stall and you exit the lift, not sure if this one was any better than the rest as they all looked exactly the same but that one we tried. Again it was better as a thought. It was a v thin omlette cooked on a hot plate covered with cabbage, left to cook for a while, pachetta added and left again, an egg cracked onto the griddle and scrambled and the whole caggage lump upturned onto it. Whilst this was cooking some noodles of your choice were added to the grill plate and the sauce of choice added, the now v hot lump of reduced cabbage was combined with the noodles and covered in a sauce that was a mixture of HP and oyster and topped with chopped spring onions then served up to you round the edge of the griddle so that it stayed warm with your v own metal slice to divide it up into small plate size peices, it needed more seasoning and less cabbage but at least we have “done” it now. Off back to our island it was, good choice to stay there not in hiroshima as there is not a lot else there. Off the ferry and the deer were uber friendly today, perhaps because the deer food man had gone home so the chances of getting foor was low so why not wind down into evening mood? Wandering back to ryokan through town first we found the oyster stand had to try one, they were cooked on bbq and tasted like a large mussel then we found the hello kitty shop that had more kitty stuff including kitty cakes. These cakes are an island specialality usually maple leafed shape, there are automatic machines making them that can be seen working in many shop windows usually with a sweet bean paste centre, yumm. So these ones are shaped of a kitty head, so we has a couple of the dark filling ones, the nicest bean paste IMHO and set off home. Dinner was a different 8 course banquet along the same lines as the previous night, difference this time is that the heavens had opened and there was the most amazing thunder storm going on all around us, a couple of the thunder claps shaking the building, after food, including more hot sake could get used to that! We retired upstairs to pack. Decided to eat the kitty cakes save them getiing squashed hey, they were choclate filled yuck :-( ate it any way, shower, bath and sleep. (still raining)

Day 9

Today is a travelling day, up early for breakfast banquet and it was still raining! Got a lift to the ferry port from the ryokan owner and the waved bye bye to miyajima sure the back packs were getting heavier all the time! Back on the fast trains again we caught the 11:10 to okyama boy these trains are good, puts the british ones to shame, you can really see how much the british have not invested in the train system :-( arrived at okyama still raining, not good for loooking round a garden, plus no free left luggage lockers, so local train to kurashiki it was. Headed off to the old business area as suggested in the RG, this was like stepping back into huckerberly finn time, few pictures, see the huge carp eat at a place that looked better on the outside than the food as and enough was enough. Back at okyama still drizzling and still no lockers, made the call to carry on to koyto, worked round the nozomi trains that are not covered by our pass, why do they always go where you want ? And 1 change and 2 hours later we were in koyto. This place is huge! Off to a youth hostle here, a bump down the rankings, but the cash has to run out somewhere. The 10 min walk as it was described felt like it took forever with our back packs on, but I am sure it did not. On arrival a real pleasant surprise an uber clean youth hostel, this is good as it is to be our base for 6 nights. When the room says double with en suite that is exactly what it is, barely any extra space for luggage. Quick couple of loads of washing on, I was beginning to wonder when I was going to run out of clothes and hum, and off into town for a recky. Don’t think we ar going to be bored here ! Dropped into a busy looking restaurant and had no idea what to order, the japanese seem to like to order loads of small dishes until they are full, so we went for the meal that resembled our previous nights banquet it was OK but did make us appreciate how luck we had been for the previous 2 nights. Back to the room for a little tussle with the clothes dryers and people moving stuff, but soon rectified the morning after. And a shower beckoned, but first off a special mention for the toilet. Never thought that there as much to write about toilets, but oh boy there is. All the way the toilets have been clean but this one had all the usual space age controls butttons to activate a squirty to wash yer bits, but sit down and blimey o riley it is a warm seat, and as you do sit down it activates a de-odorisor and as you get up the de-odorisor goes into hyperdrive, I want one of these! Sleep.

Day 10

Late start due to washing fiesco night before all sorted now found drying balcony and second dryer. Out to the supermarket and found white bread for toasting, about 1/2 a loaf cut into 5 slices, that with marmite (brought with me) and a cup of regular tea I have to say was good how bad is that :-( bought rice parcel as well to feel part of it again. Lai still sleeping, she must be tierd. Lai up and about and eaten and we are off to east koyto for a wander by midday. Temple 1 Sanjusangendo this was a culture one, loads of stratues in a long barn with a big budda in the middle, not my sort of thing really. Off to temple 2 Kiyomizudera via loads of pottery places, picking up a sake set en route, getting to like this stuff now that I have worked out you can have it hot. This temple was more like it not so religious in a serious way, much more lifgt heatred, and a cash cow really if you were into buying the extras and wishing at every well neither of which we did. Stunning views and loads of pictures later it was late lunch time, cold soba noodles with a soy sauce dip are actually really good, especially with hot sake! The rest of the afternoon was taken up by hunting out a thread shop, lais trousers were in need of urgent repairs, looking round the geithsha area in the hope of a glipse, with no luck and getting lost looking for the food quarter, ended up in the restaurant local to the hostel, late to bed again :-(

Day 11

Up at reasonable ish hour marmite for breakfast again and off to osaka for the day. 1 hours train journeys later and we were there. Picked up a 1 day pass that boasted free entry to 25 attractions and unlimited tube travel all for 2000 yen (10 GBP ish) although it would be impossibe to get round all 25 it was not bad value ! First stop the castle, been there got the pictures sort of place, all so much to take in really, am sure the pictures will be fantastic. Next stop a boat cruise, but hey tim thought we could take in the dome on the way (the milenium dome being the only dome I know of) 20 mins walk and loads of steps later we were stood outside, a flippin baseball stadium, what a complete waste of time and effort that was, did not even bother going in, why would you? Back on the train to the boat trip. Trip ok caught sites via water always good, then the acquarium now that was good if a tad expensive. Shed loads of aquatic stuff and loads of pictures later we were ready for food, we had missed lunch! Off in hunt of sushi, and boy did we find it, nothing like the uk at all in 2 ways, 1 you get big pieces of fish and 2 you can get a meal for 2 with beer for 20 GBP ! Worked out raw squid if fantabulous ! Last stop for osaka was the floating garden observertory which was a 170 meter high look out point not sure what the garden bit was all about, but it was another high point of the day. 1 hour later on the train back in kyoto we were, picking up snack attack jelly sweet at the am/pm store on route, another 1:30am finish (love this remote control light switch !)
And for the final chapter, same caveats apply

Day 12
Its raining and whan I say raining it certainly knows how to do that here ! Himeji castle and gardens are the plan and we are sticking to it. Packed brolly and on train for a short 1 hr trip. Still raining so used undercover walkway to the castle, anyone would get the impression that it rained a lot here ?? Getting to the point where we had to brave the weather and it was throwing it down super style-ey so waited a bit. It did ease off and as the nursery rhyme goes we marched up the hill and back down again, you have to see the pictures to appreciate. Quick lunch, another disapointing one and the gardens in the rain. These were surprisingly good, and made the day worth while . Train home and we were on a food hunt again, this time in the rain! Jumped into a curry house can’t get curry wrong can you ? Oh boy how wrong could we be, chip shop curry sause with more or less chilli powder added to taste, a breaded piece of something and rice, why do people eat this stuff ?? Back to hostle and sleep, tomorrow will be better.

Day 13
Sun again yippee first stop after marmite toast of course was fushima which is all about orage wooden shtines that are like gates that are stacted one after another right up and back down a hillside a truly spectacular sight and a circular walk, Lai was scared with a time of 2 hours quoted but we did it in 45 mins. Next stop Nara not the most inspiring name, but the place was lovely, it had a good feel from getting to the station tourist information lady was jolly and off we set to the big budda 20 mins wandering through the deer park, once again the deer were friendly, and we arrived and big it was flipin huge would be a better description in Lai’s words “tim likey this one” it was the biggest budda in Japan so what did we expect. Gentle meander round the temple and back to the station no food grabbed us so decided to get food at the station and eat in. Grabbed chinese buns that we had seen people queue for on other nights, and octupuss balls another japanese delicacy, all very medocia really do we just expect too much ? Off to bed for an early night.

Day 14
Up v early for the first train out of kyoto for the 2 1/2 hour trip to Kanazawa, which is the home of one of japans top three gardens. Arival at the train station and did not get the best feeling, it was not as clean as the rest of Japan so far, things can only get better. Dive into the nearest tourist information, these places really are good, and armed with map off we set. Not sure what I expected of a countrys top 3 garden, but this was not it, to comercial, and not a patch on the gardens at himiji (IMHO) run round in 30 mins ish, sat in the middle and finished off the sudoku from the train. There was Japans oldest fountain in the park, so off to find that just to find out that we had already walked past it once and dismissed it oops, we took a picture anyway. Enough of the garden and off to the market, the walk there being round the castle, with carp in the moat, and lovely gardens, would recommend this walk ! The market was fantastic, sooo much fish and fresh produce and amasing spectacle and made the trip worth while. Picked up some sushi from 1 stall some tempura from another and a drink from a vending machine and retreated to the park with carp lake. All sounded idillic but it followed in the same vein as the rest of this place disapointing. Back to the station and missed the fast train, when I say missed it was one of those get to the platform to see the train just moving off :-( ended up on the slow train with busted air-con. Mass confusion trying to reserve tickets to Nagano as there are not that many trains and we need to reserve to have a chance of sitting together. Eventually got it sorted and off for food. Stopped off en route to central kyoto at a pub / food place and had a few small tapas type dishes and beer of course, enjoyed that but Lai was after yakitori BBQ on sticks, so find a place we did. Once again it was rubbish ! So that is yakitori and curry crossed off as not to eat again. Back to the hostel minor incident with Lai cutting the top off a blood blister on her finger and it not wanting to stop bleeding and lai wanting to go to A&E which as far as I know does not exist, doctor tim sorted it out, and sleep for the last time at kyoto.

Day 15

A travelling day today. And with all the mix up with the bookings we had choice of multiple trains for the first leg. Decided to take the early train to give us some time in nagoya. 2 hours to fill we headed off to the toyota museum, I found this fasinating much better than the gardan the day before, and could have easily spent much more time there, but for 2 things 1 we had a train to catch and 2 Lai was bored :-( got train for second leg with enough time to get a bento box. Lai getting the hang of trickier sudokus now ! 2 1/2 hours later and we were in nagano looking for the local train to yudanaka went for the express which was a mistake as we paid more for it but had to wait 30 mins cfor it, the local one would have been more than 1/2 way there by this time ! Got to last but 1 stop and got ushered off the train into a bus that was too full already for the final stint the reason became apparent when we got to out final stop, the track was being re-laid, a sight not seen in the UK as we never actually fix stuff ! Short walk and we were in our room, probably the worst room of the trip :-( the hotel owner, who will now be known as basil (faluty) due to the similarities, part way made up for it as he was V helpful. Food, lai had spied a noodle bar on route to ryokan, no english at all on the menu, plumbed for 2 things, Lai’s was cold and not only that tasted awful :-( a few minutes trying to sort out what the menu actually was and we had a plate of steaming spagetti and tomato sauce rice spagetti that is with garlic galore :-) in bed by 10 for a catch up sleep.

Day 16

Up early, this really is a dingy room made our own breakfast which was interupted by the old style wind ringer telephone going off with basil on the other end to remind us that coffee was now available :-) off to the monkey park “I take you in my car” after the drop off it was another 20 mins walk in mosi land and we were there, there was 2 viewing areas where the monkeys came to lounge play and fight, don’t get me wrong it was really good and have some great photo shots and short videos but it was not really a park. Meandered back slowly only to find out that basil was waiting for us to call him for the return trip and was also off out oops. He still had enough time to tell usa about a walk, then it was “I take you in my car” time again, not really the point of a walk !?! Walk over it was a slow afternoon before going off to the private onsen natural outside hot spring, fantastic, bath spa here we come when we get back to the UK. Food in a local place no plastic food to choose from and no pictures to point at made it another random menu choice, we did not do bad this time. Finished off with a coconut jelly from lawsons (the local 24 hr shop) and a couple of sudoku.

Day 17

Another travelling day, took photo of basil outside the hotel, then he insisted on taking one of us also with the “very good camera, hmm Sony very good” before taking us to the station “in his car” the journey was another bus tain affair and we trundled off to obuse, which was a tiny station where rucksacs did not fit in “coin rockers” left luggage to us, but the helpful attendent noticed and ushered us to leave it in his office as always chatting to lai in japanese even after she told him she was infact chinese. Obuse was a great place home of the chestnut sweets and a sake brewery. Coffee in the information office whilst they raced about to get us an english map. Then off to the chestnut sweet shop, left there quite a few yen lighter, then the sake brewery, had to try before buying would have been rude not to, but a sample shot was about the size of a UK wine glass ! 5 of those later and we had chosen, and were a tad light headed ! Next problem was one of our choices only came in 2 litre glass bottles, no way we could carry that so we chose again. Left there a lot of yen later and with some more heavy stuff for the bags oops. Wandered off to the floral gardens, now that again was a garden. Off to get the luggage and nearly being ushered on to the wrong train we were on route to tokyo. Got lost getting to the ryokan, andon, with probably the best instructions yet, then there was jen (a chinese guy) the receptionist V chinese and abrupt but warmed to us when we worked out that he came from the same village as Lai, a small world hey! V small room, but V functional, every possible space had been used. This place had a jacuzzi which you booked a 1/2 hour slot in, so booked in and went off to find the washing machine. Bath over now food. Blimey this place shuts @ 9:30 and we have no knowledge of local area in terms of tube. Plummed for a place that was open and looked 1/2 decent, they did not speak english of course so fried fish and rice we plummed for, then it arrived, whole fried fish, rice, clam soup, and pickles, we thought we were to be kippered here but hey we had eaten, 2300 yen that is just over a tenner and that inc beer, this place really is not exepnsive. Rented an english movie, whatched it eating our jelly.

Day 18

Up early ish and off to the fish market. We missed the frantic 5am auction and cutting up of huge fish but that is just too early, there was still plenty going on though, tonnes of fish dead and alive all being prepareed for sale, so we had to try some. Picked a sushi place in the market itself, one that looked clean, and ordered the middle menu, loads of top notch sushi turned up accompanied we loads of green tea, left really full, and yes it does taste better straight from the market. Next stop the electronics quarter, really looking forward to this, once again really disapointed :-( I am sure that there must be the latest stuff here, but it would take forever to find it ! What they do have is more choice, not necessarily a good thing, for example, you have a choice of mice that would easily fill 1/2 the floor space of a typical PC world! Soooo glad I do not need one. Going to return to england without a gadget, gutted. Off to Shinjuku, said to be a mini tokyo all in one area, climbed observtion tower at dusk and watched all the lights come on. Picked up more photo CD’s and headed home. We were booked in at the local korean restaurant which is the first korean since new york years ago! This time restored our faith in korean food, it was fantastic. Back to the ryokan for and jacuzzi and an early ish night as tomorrow is an early start.

Day 19
Up V early as trying to “do” the whole Hakone area in a day first call do we do the loop clockwise or anti clockwise, blimey lost here we come. Chose clockwise typical as all the literature available is based on going anti ! Ahh well at least we will miss the crowds. Bus first lai pushed the button to stop the bus at the next stop a stop too early and we had one of those “I am not moving the bus until whoever pushed the button gets off” so walk we did. Great walk up to a view point and back, rhen the pirate ship, we will see mount fuji from the middle of the lake says Lai. On board decided to get away from the rif raf and go first class, a whole 2 1/2 english pounds each. As we pulled into dis-embark we felt duped we had not seen fuji at all, good job we had some shots from the shore. Boat turned into a coach for 5 mins to a place that stank of sulphur this was due to the fact that it was leaking out of the ground just about everywhere! A cable car ropeway as they call it in Japan then took us up up up which was impresssive the a funicular railway even further up. Food at the top of course then a super rattly train down that took forever as not only did it only average about 10 mph it kept going into crossing points as they had about 5 trains on a single line track ! We then thought a spa would be a good wind down so off we set to one. Ended up costing us loads as many separate costs kept adding up, ahh well it had the desired effect and train bound home we were.

Day 20

Shopping day today headed off for the young and trendy section Shibuya managed to take the slow train and go the wrong way ended up in kawasaki, which was ok as at least we got a picture of the train station sign. Had my worst drink ever here fizzy cold black coffee in a tin, did not get past the first mouthful! Shibuya is also where the young uns hand out on a weekend “preforming” and we say a few practicing. We took a strole down “takeashita” street and this is not made up! And picked up various booty en-route. Had go make a dash for the train when we remembered that we were booked in for a tea ceremony at 6. Just on time we started this acient ceremony whish was fascinating bowing wisking tea and slurping all involved. Food was at a little place that was like walking into a locals kitchen, jacuzzi and sleep.

Day 21

Like we had not done enough shopping we set off to do more. Ended up on the catering shopping street as you do and found the plastic food shop, it was soooo expensive we thought bout getting some magnetic sushi for the noticeboard until we worked out igt was 5-6 GBP per magnet! This was the only really expensive thing we have found in Japan, they certainly would find it hard coming to the UK. Picked up even more booty, beginning to wonder how we are going to get ot all back to the UK. Did our final shrine, was OK but not as impressive as some of the other ones and back to drop off out goods. Final trip out to catch our last few sights, in the process we did get lost in a tube station ! They do not have simple stations here this one had 60 exits and must have been a square mile of tunnels, this might not be too bad if the sighn were good, but they are not they are more like now you see thm now you don’t V frustrating! Food at the local udon bar then back to pack and that was that.

Day 22

The packing was tight the spare rucksac I packed was now full, done this before, and wondering if we are under the weight limit it is always a gamble for us don’t know why ?? The walk to the station and the transfer was a killer but eventually Narita airport was in sight.

And you thought that was it !?!

Things I will miss:
Being on holiday
Seeing Lai every night
Soft jelly in a tin in a vending machine
The friendly people
The Japenese girls who dress completely inappropriately for the occasion (high heels up a mountain)
The food
Public transport running on time. You can rely on it just working!
The prices, due to the strong pound it is NOT expensive here in Japan.
Natural hot spring outside onsen.

Things I will not miss:
Smoking, especially on trains ??
Bicycles on the pavement
The rules
Waiting at a crossing when there is nothing either was in sight for the green man so I can walk over the road.
The food (this is in both sections as give enough time I would be the size of a house !) no quips required
The choice. You can get 52 types of anything you could want, nightmare.
60 exits from a tube station.
The mosquitos

Wireless Router

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This new laptop is costing me a fortune !

Now I need a wireless access point in London for Lai’s place !

So off to Maplins it was (needed it in a hurry) and got a “deal” a linksys WAG354G with laptop card all for 50 notes, have linksys in Cheltenham and V happy with it. Now I know that this is a ADSL router but I am just using the Wireless access point (it was cheaper this way) and this is V easy to set up switch off DHCP and connect LAN to LAN all done V quickly and surfing wirelessly sat next to the router.

So off upstairs with laptop and boom NOTHING not a peep of signal strength, even sat in the kitchen, 6 meters and 1 wall away and 1/2 signal already, internal antenna unit what a load of rubbish.

Back off to Maplin to see what they have to say, and they say sitecom mimo-XR, and what a beast it is 3 big antennas well at least 20 cms each well worth the 10 note upgrade fee alone, and back to set up again, once again as easy as the linksys specially as everything was fresh in my mind, and once again full signal strength sat on top of the router. Then the acid test the bedroom, well all I can say is that I am writing this from there and all in hunky dory overr 1/2 signal strength and in the kitchen as much signal strength as is possible.

Bonus is that I have not yet found the unit cheaper online, that is not a challenge, so Maplins have a keen price for this unit as well : )

Would recommend this unit to anyone on signal strength alone.

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