Today was one of those days that I was glad I now have a camera phone that can take half decent pictures. All during the day the weather had been pretty changeable, although leaning more towards the dreary drizzle that you tend to get coming in to winter. However about half-past four we had a really heavy downpour, complete with heavy dark clouds. But as with the rest of the weather today it moved off quite quickly, to be followed by fairly clear skys behind. With the sun starting to set it meant we got the spectacular sight that I’ve tried to capture here, a double rainbow, the brighter part of which arched over the whole sky, and the most incredible contrast between the white within the rainbow and the heavy grey outside. I have to say, the picture doesn’t really do it justice.
So tonight we went out to celebrate the 25th birthday of one of Beth’s fellow teachers. We met up with Kerri and another 14 of her friends at Zizzi’s in Reading, oddly enough where we’re going for the Geek Dinner in a couple of weeks. If there are any Geek Dinner attendees reading, I can confirm that there is Wi-Fi coverage in the restaurant. ðŸ˜€
Anyway, it was one of those evenings where there was a pretty broad cross section of the hosts friends from a number of different places – old friends, housemates, workmates. Having said that there were a lot of teachers, however we were also sat next to an old University friend of Kerri’s who worked for the Crown Estate, and was rather surprised that I knew what it was! (Essentially it is the land which is owned by the British Monarch, as a role – rather than the person who currently sits on the throne. However although the Queen theoretically owns the land, it is passed to parliamentary control in return for her payment from the civil list. The current portfolio of property is worth in excess of Ã‚Â£4 billion, and includes quite a bit of land around the local area. You can read more about them at http://www.thecrownestate.co.uk/
There are a few more snaps from the dinner over in my Flickr stream. They were again taken with the camera on the Sony Ericsson K750i phone, although this time there were at least three other people in the party with the same phone – definitely seems to be getting popular!
Talking to some friends from Church this week, we got a slightly odd request. They asked that we write to the local council to tell them that we used the road outside their house in a car when we visited them…
The reason is actually quite serious. As you may know, Finchampstead includes the Finchampstead Ridges, much of which is owned by the National Trust. However the land is also criss-crossed with a number of ancient rights of way. Whilst many of these ancient routes have been brought up to modern standards, quite a few, especially in and around the ridges, are just tracks. However, as ancient rights of way, legally anybody can use them, and with the rise in 4×4 vehicles, this is becoming a problem. As this article last year said, the government is tightening up the laws.
However this has had an unfortunate side effect for our friends, as their house is along one of these ancient rights of way that has not been adopted by the council. The council appear to be just applying the new restrictions in a blanket manner, offering the possibility of it being illegal for our friends to drive their car to their house, rather than adopting the relevant bits of road to allow the residents access. Typically this is getting down to political mud slinging. The Conservative run council line seems to be that they are only following government instructions, so it isn’t their fault. However having been on the recieving end of the council refusing to adopt our road until the street lights were sorted to “save money for our taxpayers”, and the whole fishing expedition with the trees last year (note that neither the developer, or the council has cut them back – it should have been done within 14 days of the notice being issued), I suspect money may be coming in to play here – as if the council were to adopt all the local roads they would need to, it again would cost a lot to do.
Of course whether you blame the government for a poorly constructed law, or the council for screwing their residents to save cash, that still leaves people like our friends with the prospect of having a house that they can’t get to…
As before there look to be the usual mix of bloggers, media types, technology fans and so on going along, and of course wi-fi available. Plus with it being a Saturday night, there won’t be as much need for me to rush off to get home to bed at a reasonable time. Beth has even decided to come along too, which may make Sarah happier at more female company, although I don’t think Beth counts as a Geek. Anyway, if it is half as good as the last dinner, it is well worth the effort of heading up to London, and comes highly recommended, sign up now over on the wiki.
Thanks to the big new barrier across the road from last week, trying to get around and through the A327 roadworks was really a non-starter this morning. Quite aside from making the turn without getting hit by someone coming the other way, as the blockade forces you up onto the pavement without any sort of ramp, it’s not going to be overly nice on the tyres and suspension!
However, if you’re down that way, maybe having dinner at the Tally Ho next to the bridge, take a look at the latest attempts to discourage people from driving through, as it is really quite entertaining. Basically, Hampshire County Council have set up a slalom course to test out your driving skill, complete with barriers half blocking the road, and cones.
It’s worth saying that even with the slalom, it would probably still be faster to drive through Eversley than go through the water roadworks in Finchampstead, especially with the roadworks on the A321 pushing traffic through Finchampstead too.
To be honest though, I’d rather Hampshire County Council was spending their time getting a major road reopened as quickly as possible, rather than wasting time on comedy like this!
Heading down towards my favourite set of roadworks, the A327 closure in Eversley, when I got to the point where the Road Closed sign usually sits, I found that the sign and the barriers had been cleared to one side, as they had been last weekend. The five cars in front of me all went through, so I followed. The road was in much the same state as it was last weekend, with a new smooth surface, but no lines, and with cones and obvious signs of ongoing work on the footpaths on each side, but no workmen, and no work vehicles. There was also traffic coming the other way, including a lorry. The only hazard in the road was a cone over a manhole cover, aside from that there were two clear car widths through the whole of Eversley, aside from going round the road closed barriers. When we reached the other end it transpired that it wasn’t actually open, as the two sets of barriers on the other side were in place, so I assume that some frustrated motorist had cleared the barriers out of the way.
Anyway, coming back tonight, rather than the long back route I took last night to avoid both these roadworks, and the water works in Finchampstead, I headed straight for Eversley. Again, the barriers were across the road, but two clear car widths through the entire roadworks, with just cones along the footpaths. Again, I wasn’t the only person going through, however the traffic was quiet enough that I could pull over and take a picture. I could have stopped anywhere through the works and taken a similar shot.
Bear in mind looking at this picture that these roadworks were advertised as being 24 hours a day – which they evidently aren’t (and couldn’t be because of all the residents along the road). They are also causing daily chaos around the area, with residents in Finchampstead being particularly hard hit by queuing traffic in some places, and rat running drivers in others, the problem being especially bad at rush hour. However at these times, nobody is working on the works here, indeed the road surface itself was finished more than a week ago. To be honest I’m left wondering quite what Hampshire County Council are playing at. This week part of the M25 was resurfaced and reopened in under 24 hours after a lorry exploded and damaged the surface, and yet they are closing this, and other major roads around the area for six weeks at a time… Surely it is possible to open the road outside the times that the workers are actually at work, such as evenings and weekends, and at least give the people in Finchampstead a break? Or maybe as all the chaos is in Finchampstead, in Wokingham district, they really couldn’t care two hoots?
Incidentally, when I reached the spot tonight where the barriers had been moved this morning, the old barriers had been replaced with some much more substantial blocks, in an attempt to stop a repeat performance I guess.