Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Tablet Coaching: The Browser (Part 1)

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Today, we discussed the key features & benefits of the various Browsers that are available for an Android Tablet.

Laptop Coaching: One Drive (Recap)

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Today, we recapped the key features and benefits of Microsoft’s ‘OneDrive’ App.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Laptop Coaching: Open Session

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Today’s lesson was a very flexible one! We spent time 1-to-1 with each Pupil addressing their individual needs

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Return to The Ashmolean

We’re great fans of The Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, having been there in November 2011, March 2012, September 2013 and March 2014!

As usual, we drove to Pear Tree Park & Ride, parked up and took the Bus into the town…

…so much less stressful than attempting to park in the centre of town - even on a Sunday!

An extra treat too, as we were meeting up with good friend Lynn R.  - our friendship goes back to the 90s and my working time with Nokia as a Consultant - and we haven’t seen each other since November 2011!

We made good time and arrived in town around 11.15. That gave us time to look round the shops, but sad to see that many of the known names (including Next) had given up and closed down. We learned later that a new shopping centre - Westgate Oxford - had recently opened, with 100 outlets (including Next), so maybe things are quite as bad on the retail front here as we thought!

We took in the sights on this glorious day…


…before heading for The Ashmolean


It’s all been spruced-up a bit since we were last here, including a re-positioned ‘front-desk’ in its new home, straight ahead and on the left, after passing through the main entrance. Lynn was already there, so after a quick chat, we headed for our Table in Ashmolean’s Rooftop Restaurant.

Even if you’re not particularly a ‘museum person’, The Ashmolean probably has something for everyone: Guy Fawkes’ lantern, the last ‘old-style’ five-pound note, an impressive collection of rings, paintings, sculptures and musical instruments! It’s certainly different each time we go there - and toady was no different!



Wow! There was certainly plenty to see!

After about an hour, we said our goodbye to Lynn and headed back to the Bus-stop - and the return journey to Pear Tree Park & Ride. We stopped off at Lee’s on the way home (she’s not too well) before soaking up more of the good weather over a cuppa when we got home.

It’s been a great day - and this continuing good weather is very welcome!

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Tablet Coaching: The Camera App

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Today, we lookeed at the capabilities of the built-in Camera pre-installed in modern Android tablets.

Laptop Coaching: Windows 10 – April 2018 Update (Tuesday Class)

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Tuesday Class : With the new update rolling-out to all PCs in the past week, today, we looked at the new features and improvements of this latest version of Windows.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Laptop Coaching: Windows 10 – April 2018 Update (Monday Class)

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Monday Class : With the new update rolling-out to all PCs in the past week, today, we looked at the new features and improvements of this latest version of Windows.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

London Calling (again!)

It was off to London as ‘tourists-for-the-day’ and to meet up with our good friends Roy and Susan.

We had a full day planned, beginning with the Tower Bridge Exhibition and ending with a Soho Restaurant! Perfect!!!

Well, almost perfect, in that the weather was forecast to deteriorate from lunchtime onwards, turning to showers!

It was a relatively early start for us, for a weekend, boarding the 8.32 from Kettering. On the plus-side though, it got us into the Capital before most of mankind, and we were soon on the Tube heading for Tower Bridge.

My first photo opportunity was Dad’s old place of work - Emblem House, right opposite the London Bridge Tube. Now a Teaching hospital, back in the day, it was HQ of a major player in food imports and exports - A J Mills - where Dad spent all of his post-war working-life, and where I was allowed to accompany him when he worked on Saturday mornings. I think this is when I first fell in love with the Capital (at the age of 10!) but more especially, the area immediately around his building:- Hayes Wharf, Tooley Street, and of course, the River.

Emblem House

With my nostalgia break over, we wandered further down Tooley Street and we immediately noticed how the area had changed. Gone were the grimy streets that I recall, even as recent as a few years back. Now, instead, replaced by spotlessly clean paths and roads - wow!, it’s certainly been smartened up here!

Elevenses at 10!

We were ahead of schedule, so it was a perfect opportunity to take a break at one of the new coffee-shops that had now opened - Caffè Nero.

The REALLY standout part of Tooley Street however, was the newly re-opened London Bridge Station. I don’t recall the buildings that were there before, but now, the NEW Station frontage dominated a significant length of the road. And it looked great! (much better than the photo below, shows). This has had a real transformation, and NO doubt has contributed to why Tooley Street now looks a lot cleaner and modern. We learned afterwards that the Station had only officially re-opened on 9 May - just a few days ago. No wonder everything was looking so shiny!

The ‘new’ London Bridge Station

Then, it was off to the ‘main event’ for the day - Tower Bridge - and the fixed exhibition there. We last visited it back in August 2012, during our London Olympic Weekend. We expected the Exhibition to be much the same, but to our surprise, as we were about to discover, they’d added a few bits and bobs.

We joined the queue and bought the tickets (note to self: book online next time - the queue was growing by the second!). Roy, Sue, Lauren and her friend Loki arrived not long after, and were soon in the lift heading up to the first part of the Exhibition.

One of the new bits they’d added was the installation of a glass floor along the walkway. This allowed detailed for shoe inspections and (more importantly) a stunning view of the road below. It’s not for the faint-hearted, as the experience gives a slightly unsteady feel to those brave enough to walk over the glass. Interestingly, many of the visitors were striking very unusual poses whilst enjoying the view, some were even lying down on the glass! I stuck to the more traditional shoe-staring variant!!


Then it was off to the final part of the Exhibition - the Engine Room. Impressive stuff! These Victorian engines been renovated within an inch of their life, and even if this sort of stuff doesn’t excite you, no-one could fail to be impressed by the size and scale of these massive work-horses.

Victorian Engineering!

This had been an impressive Exhibition (even though we’d done it before), but our stomachs were now reminding us that it was lunchtime. Perfect timing then, as the rain started to fall. We took Loki’s advice and headed for The Draft House, a short, but damp walk, just 10 minutes away. It was a welcoming place, but losing all our food in the lift on its way from the kitchens won’t have been their proudest moment. Somewhat ironic then, that on their website it says:

“Britain is full of public houses of all shapes, sizes and varieties, but I felt we’d lost something special in recent years”

Too right!

With the food re-cooked and consumed, we said our goodbyes to Lauren and Loki and headed for our next stop - Canary Wharf. To make the journey more interesting, we took the Thames Clipper - a high-speed catamaran - from Millennium Pier (in our view, a much more enjoyable, and faster, way to get across town and they now take Oyster Cards too!)

By now, the weather had deteriorated further and we were glad to be under cover on the Clipper. Some ten-minutes later were were mooring at Canary Wharf and looking forward to seeing what, if anything, had changed since we were last here.

And there had been many changes! There’s still plenty of building going on - mostly skyscraper-type constructions - but the showpiece was, without doubt, Crossrail Place - within Canary Wharf station. This, of course, is the hub of the the new Crossrail network - and less than 10 years ago, this location was simply water. It’s was an impressive structure that even has its own roof-garden (well-worth the visit, just for that!) together with various restaurants!

Crossrail Place

Canary Wharf continues to impress us and where probably the biggest surprise was how busy the shopping area was. We recall it always being completely deserted at weekends given it’s mainly a (weekday) financial district. Today, the whole area was buzzing!

Our final tourist destination for the day was Leicester Square and Soho. Leicester Square was as busy as always, whilst Soho felt (and looked) a lot less sleazy (even with us there!).

After a ten-minute walk, we were on the door-step of our chosen restaurant - Bill’s Restaurant and Diner. We arrived early, but after a bit of faffing, we were shown to our table (boy! it was heaving, even at 6pm!)

Even at this early hour, it was already 90% full, and if amplifiers on Juke Boxes only go up to 10 - theirs was on 12. 80s music dominated (no bad thing), but for me, it was a tad too loud, making conversation a touch more tricky! (Must be getting old!) Younger visitors would probably describe it as ‘having plenty of atmosphere’.

Talking of plenty, the food was good very good and the portions, generous (we shared a veggie and the meat-based Starter Plate - above)

…and I followed that up with my love of Burgers…

I just managed to squeeze in a dessert (mini cinnamon doughnuts with two dips - one chocolate and one salted caramel, if you’re wondering) whilst the others, mindful of their hearts, looked on.

By 8.15, it was all over. With a very reasonable price (for London) paid, we took the Tube to Kings Cross - where we said our goodbyes. Roy and Susan headed back to Baldock whilst we trotted over to St Pancras International and caught the 21.01 home.

The Train was more-or-less full by the time we pulled out - and it stayed that way for most of the journey.

By 10.15, we were home, and feeling very satisfied with our day spent ‘in the smoke’. It had been good to catch up with Roy and Susan - and of course, great to be back in London again. Boy, were we tired though! Fourteen hours as Tourists had nearly killed us!!

Friday, May 11, 2018

Shelf Awareness and Dented Pride!

Oh bugger!

Prior to…

I went out to the garage today to discover that overnight, there had been an ‘incident’!

The very large shelf that I use to store all my old training materials had ‘made a bid for freedom’ and detached itself from the wall!

The result? The contents of the shelf (and there was plenty of it - five large plastic containers filled to the brim with ‘trainer stuff’ - pens, clocks, books, a laminator, a guillotine and other assorted visual aids) under the influence of gravity, deposited their contents all over my ‘pride and joy’ - the XKR - causing some pretty extensive (and expensive) damage. I was amazed at the spread of the car-nage - from the rear quarter, over the roof and onto the bonnet! Clearly, the items had bounced across the vertical surfaces of the car before coming to rest!!

That shelf has been up there for over 20 years, and in that time, there’s never been a hint of it wobbling - OK, if I’d installed it, I could maybe understand it falling off the wall, but this was put up by a professional with enough brackets to support a tank! It’s all a  bit weird!!

After the ‘incident’… (click on the individual photos for a larger version)

If you look closely, you’ll see lots (and I do mean ‘lots’, of tiny tents and dinks), peppered all over the roof, wing, bonnet and rear quarter.

Cue, a long and important call to the Insurance Company. After 30 minutes of form-filling, the deed was done, and a local damage-repair company is coming round tomorrow to assess the damage.

Why so much damage from a few plastic boxes and their contents? Well, car-nuts, will know the answer - the body of the XKR is actually made of aluminium - this makes the car very light… very fast… but also very soft! A blessing and a curse (breathing on it causes dents!) rolled into one!

So, at the time of writing, the Garage has been round and assessed the damage and I’m just waiting for them to ring me back to tell me (hopefully) they’ve got the go-ahead to put the car right. Lots of damage spread over a large area sounds expensive - so thanks heavens for a fully comp policy!

Update 1: Thursday, May 17th
I chased the Insurance Company and the Garage as I hadn’t heard anything. Apparently they’re waiting for the Insurance Engineers to approve the repair and then I’ll be able to book it in. Never say I don’t do things in style - apparently it’s over £5000 worth of damage!

Update 2: Monday, May 21st
Rang Saga to be told that the Engineers HAD approved the repair last Friday (thanks for letting me know!). Estimated repair time - 16 days!, 16! Crikey, it only took God six to create the Earth! I’ve arranged for the Cat is being picked-up on Thursday.

Update 3: Thursday, May 24
The Cat was picked-up today!

…now the waiting begins! So, that’s 24 + 16 + allow for non-working days - I reckon it’ll be back around the middle of June!