Flooding – and weather weirding?

On Sunday night there were 500 flood risk warnings across the UK. Over 800 homes had been flooded – and areas like Exeter were like a war-zone. 2″ of rain fell in a 12 hour period in some parts of the south.

Flooding is one of those natural disasters which can hit quickly and is simply unstoppable. The force and volume of water is one of the most powerful, natural forces on the planet. The real damage is done no so much by the water falling, but rather the fact that the drains don’t work – in fact they work backwards – waste comes back…

The question on everyone’s lips is – are these freak weather storms caused by global warming? The reality is that we don’t know – it is difficult to make a snap decision – although this doesn’t usually stop the newspapers.

There is a new phrase – which is probably more accurate – ‘global weirding‘. In other words we are being subjected to weird changes in the weather.

The UK had drought like conditions in the early part of 2012 – but by the time I headed out to the Isle of Wight in June – it didn’t look like a drought!

There is some melting of the sea ice at both the north and south poles – which can then impact on the gulf stream. The movement of ice means a change in the physical state of water (obviously) – but this just means we get the stuff shifted around. The jest stream moving around also means a change in temperature – we are more likely to see this in increasing frequency.

So whilst we are subject to this weirding – you have to feel sorry for those who have their homes flooded.

By Tim Garratt Posted in Green stuff Tagged flooding, freak, Global Warming, global weirding, , , sustainable, weather

Miles and hours

I thought I would monitor my cars performance during October and have observed the following:

1. I worked 21 full days (some of them longer than others) and then some Saturdays.
2. I drove 1,767 miles
3. My car says I spend 61 hours and 45 minutes attached to it – thats just over 8 days in English money!
4. It also says I averaged 29mph – not exactly fast! But quicker than a chicken.
5. I spent £335 on diesel – ouch.
6. We managed an average mpg of 33.8mpg – much better than my RS4.
7. I went to Guildford, Wakefield, The Isle of Wight, Manchester as well as lots of places around Nottingham and the East Midlands. I can’t recall them all as I lost my diary when I upgraded to the Cloud… thanks Apple.
8. I drank more Costa Coffee than can really be considered healthy, and managed only one Starbucks - which is a volte face.

I need to spend less time attached to the car I think?

Customer service – one chance

I hate sometimes sounding like a grumpy old man; other times I realise that the cap fits, so I might as well wear it (well).

In the week I was in (on?) the Isle of Wight. I was working – I look after some properties there. It was some time since I had been (we employ a local managing agent) and we seemed to be building up a few issues. It’s a long way to go in a day – so it entailed a nights stay.

I shall spare their blushes in naming them. The hotel we found was well located and reasonably priced. Not cheap, but ok. I was with another agent and we met in the bar at 7.00pm. After a pint we asked the bar man if we could get a table in the restaurant. The latter had 20 or so tables and there were perhaps 6 or 8 diners.

I nearly fell over when he said we would have to check with the reception – as they were having a rush on. Chef would need to be called to see if we could be accommodated. He really wasn’t sure.

So, guess what? We walked out. To the nearest gastro-pub and left £35 with them for a bowl of gruel and a glass of water…

How difficult can this be? It was around 7.20pm, the room was 3/4 empty and I presume they like the touch of my cash. But the whole attitude was really bad.

This sort of episode does remind me that sometimes we have just one chance to get something right. If we don’t the customer (and his wallet) will go somewhere else…

Technology – in you we rely

This week Blackberry has hit the news, but not in a good way. They have been having major connection issues with users left without email or browsing. And this spread all over the world. Thankfully we are iPhone users, so we were / are feeling very pleased with ourselves.

I am a keen advocate of the use of technology in business. I know that sometimes this ‘always on’ stuff can be a bit of a distraction. But I hope it means that we can offer a better and faster service to clients. It seems incredible sometimes to step back and realise what we are capable of. From taking digital images, dictating digitally, producing professional looking documents – from home, the office or a train. In my case this blog is being written in a hotel room on the Isle of Wight!

In simple, we have become completely reliant on our tech-toys. Who could really live without a mobile telephone now? I can’t imagine life without Google. The information you can draw upon, in seconds, is mind blowing. In my professional life it is amazing how we have progressed in such a short space of time.

But all of this goodness comes with a downside. When the internet fails – or the Blackberry world falls apart – we are stumped. People flood twitter with their frustrations! They stop functioning…

It isn’t until things go wrong that we stop to think how reliant we have become. In my office if we lose our email for a few hours, people start swearing and asking (demanding?) to know when it is going to be fixed. Appendages feel like they have been removed!

In God we may have trusted before, but I think it is the technology is our new God? Let us pray.

Music – the power of three…

For the second time in two weeks I got wet watching live music. It was a sort of wet wet wet moment at the Isle of Wight festival. Then at Hard Rock Calling on Friday in Hyde Park it rained again. perhaps not as much as IOW!

Feel the rain!

On Friday it was the third time I had seen all three headlining bands – James, Kaiser Chiefs and The Killers. Apparently Prince Harry was there. 59,999 other people were…

James are a great live band to see – the first time I saw them they refused to play ‘Sit Down’, but the last two times they have done – and it is a great crowd pleaser. They are great live.

Kaiser Chiefs are a boys band – and the predictive Riot anthems are really good – if a little boisterous! They have a new album out where you choose ten tracks for 20 – and they played a few tracks…

But the stars of the show were The Killers. There’s no-nonsense about playing stuff you don’t know. They just play hit after hit after hit. They were absolutely brilliant – even if the rain was relentless. I have now seen them in London, Nottingham and in New York. On the spur of the moment I bought tickets for Madison Square Garden (even though we weren’t actually booked to go to the Big Apple!) They were fantastic….

My next live music is back in Nottingham – at Splendour - where Scissor Scissors, Blondie and Feeder play. For the first time in a while I will see someone who I haven’t seen before – Scissor Scissors. I have seen Blondie a few times and Feeder I have seen lots. Blondie gets a mixed review from me; I guess she didn’t quite live up to my 1979 memories of her! Feeder are just brilliant.

But I do know something – the sun will shine in Nottingham at Splendour. Guaranteed.

PS The set list for the Killers was…

Glamorous Indie Rock & Roll
Somebody Told Me
For Reasons Unknown
Smile Like You Mean It
Losing Touch
Spaceman Reprise
Bling (Confessions of a King)
Moon River
Read My Mind
Mr Brightside
All These Things I’ve Done
This Is Your Life
Jenny Was a Friend of Mine
When You Were Young

Gig rules….

I saw the Kings of Leon on Bank Holiday Monday at the Ricoh Stadium in Coventry – they were pretty good. This was a relief because I see them again a few days time at the Isle of Wight Festival.

KOL played for just shy of two hours. For most people over the age of 10 you would expect them to be able to manage to watch the efforts of a group who had come all the way from Tennessee for their brief stay?

The couple in front of us really struggled. Her name (according to his tattoo on his neck) was Thelma-Louise, his was Dale (according to the tattoo on her lower back). At least this was what I hoped – tattoo’s seem so final? Anyway, they both appeared to have bladder issues – each leaving their seats three or four times. This was punctuated by the need to replace the lost fluids – and each fetched bottled beer three or four times. And then they fetched food – pasties I think. Twice. This was before they both got up to dance some distance from their seats. When they returned they were deep in conversation about various family members. And then about the NNSD* staff in day-glow jackets removing various hoodlums.

I really did think that the poor guys up front with guitars had got in the way of their evening. They should have only paid half price too as they can have only seen half of the gig!

I realise that I must be getting old (no need to leave a comment about this…) but having paid £37.50 each for a ticket I like to feel that I have given the gig thing a proper go?

*No neck small dick

What I’m listening to…

I get through quite a lot of music; in the last month I have spent hours on planes and in my car – perfect time to disappear in music.

I tend to wear out an album before moving on – and one album that has really caught my ear is The View’s Bread and Circuses. I have it in the car, office, phone and ipod. It is my album of the year (so far).

I saw them at The Isle of Wight in 2009 (it’s only 61 days to the 2011 event – I need to get the febreze ready for the tent).

It’s their third album and, I think, their best. The Scottish accents are really obvious on the record. They hail from Dundee (where my wife Lesley’s parents are from). My favourite track is ‘the best last forever’ – but in reality there are few weak tracks!

I wonder what I will be listening to next? I have a feeling it may the Guillemots new album Walk the River – out on the 18th April….

A unique iphone charger for Festivals

As we move out of Winter into Spring, it is nearly Festival time! June each year means that I get to travel to the Isle of Wight for my annual trip to see a variety of Bands. 2011 will be my eigth year in succession.

My mate and I do this festival thing properly – tents and camping gas stoves. No five star hotels in sight. Uncomfortable air beds work if you drink enough beer in the day! A diet of hot dogs and pig sandwiches ensure basic survival! Toilets are ‘interesting’. The Champagne Bar (pictured) is a rare chance to sit down!

But the biggest problem is that my wonderful iphone won’t last four days in a field without some serious power jolt. I have a small solar panel to ensure my green credentials tick is in the box, but this only works for a while. It is necessary to turn everything off on the phone – wifi, bluetooth et al. But in the last few days someone has told me about a genius idea…Orange Power Wellies, which have been created in collaboration with renewable energy experts GotWind, use a unique ‘power generating sole’ that converts heat from your feet into an electrical current. This ‘welectricity’ can then be used to re-charge your mobile phone.

The only problem is that I am on Vodaphone?

The highlights of 2010

I’m not a great fan of looking back – but after my blog post yesterday I perhaps I ought, so for fun here’s my very own highlights of 2010…

The China Expo Guards!

1. Favourite Building – The UK Pavilion at the Shanghai Expo. Just utterly brilliant. Will remain with me for some time to come. The Expo was a great experience generally (as was the trip to Ningbo) and for once the UK didn’t embarrass us – which it could have easily done!

2. Favourite Album – Always a difficult one, but judging by the number of plays on itunes, it looks like The Coral’s Butterfly House. I have played it to death, and it is only in the last few weeks I have replaced it with The Promise from Springsteen.

3. Best Gig – A very tough one, as The Isle of Wight always features highly, but I think from re-living memories of the late 1970′s I think it may have been The Stranglers at Rock City. Just brilliant and music from my formative years. And followed very closely by Squeeze at The Nottingham Concert Hall.

4. Proudest Moment(s) – Adam appearing in a film – hopefully hitting the silver screen in 2011 will be good!

5. Best Corporate Event – Our Little Britain 2010 yacht race. You might recall we came second (to last) but we have a great time. There is no better place than the Isle of Wight to race yachts. Great fun and great company.

6. Best Gadget – Another tough one – and choice between my Apple ipad and the Panasonic GF1 camera with 20mm lens. Both deserve a mention and I’m not sure I can pick. If I was forced … no, I can’t choose!

7. Funniest TV – without a doubt The Inbetweeners. Brilliantly written and superbly executed. Cringeworthy throughout which makes it very funny.

8. Funniest Live show – Eddie “never put a sock in a toaster” Izzard. Full stop. Funny @ full bore.

My third time in the Isle of Wight in 2010

As I mentioned yesterday I am on the Isle of Wight with my colleagues and a number of clients at the Little Britain Sailing Regatta. Day two yesterday was challenging! The wind was gusty and quite variable.

In the morning, I think we made sure everyone in front of us was ok (gentlemanly conduct it is called in some quarters, being last in others?). By the afternoon we were in the groove and clawed our way into 15th place (out of 17). So, overall we are mid fleet (ignoring the staggered starts).

The teams ability to change sails and generally throw the boat around the water have improved vastly over three races. But I think we might need to improve some more yet! We still need help with some of the, frankly, silly nautical terms. Right, left, blunt end, sharp end and up down are very useful instructions.

This is my third time on the Island this year – I had my usual trip to the brillaint festival in June and I then had a day here when on holiday in Lymington. It’s a great place – there is something about boats and water? I wish we lived nearer the water – Nottingham is just about as far from the sea as you can get in the UK.

I also couldn’t help but notice that there are a number of cranes in Cowes – developers are building. Admittedly they have some great positions overlooking the Solent and Medina River. But development is going on nonetheless. There are a couple of apartments for sale seeking offers of around £500,000 …

Some of the property is ‘stuff of dreams’, pretty much like the chance of a podium finish for us in the race! Who knows our last day of racing tomorrow might have a miraculous end!