Sunday, December 31, 2006

Out With The Old, In With The New

Its almost 2007 and the plan is to take it easy on one of the outerlying Scottish islands. Though to get there I'll be using a CalMac ferry rather than my trusty Alaw Bach but even that depends on the adverse weather that is reportedly on its way. Why go all that way for peace and quiet? Simple really, being far from home helps clear the mind and allows me to focus on the things that matter. It's a time for looking forward rather than back over my shoulder. So over the last few days, not only have I been amusing myself by searching out a number of novel gadgets, but I've been looking at maps, guidebooks and some of the better sea kayaking sites for inspiration for future trips. The usual resolutions emerge - get fitter, eat better, do more, spend less but without certain goals its easy to loose sight of what your doing these things for.

One things for sure...............whatever you dream, make sure you live it sometimes too

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Who's For Coffee?

If you are a coffee lover and have despaired on a trip for something more tasty than instant then here is a solution. The Press-Bot may not be able to whip you up a low-fat latte with an extra shot in the remote wilderness, but it will allow you to make french press style coffee in your Nalgene water bottle,, which is not only handy from a packing perspective, but also must taste much better than mud percolated over a fire in those speckled blue camp coffee pots. No need for cowboy cups either, as the Press-Bot includes a spout so you can drink your brew right from the bottle.

The more I dig the more I find ............ time to stop digging

Friday, December 29, 2006

Objects of Desire

Not only am I getting used to the idea of blogging and sharing my discoveries, I seem to have stumbled on a minor thread about the accessories out there for Nalgene bottles. For those of you that don't known Nalgene bottles are the quintessential outdoor drinks container. I have been using them for over 20 years. So finding the array of stuff that can be added to them is quite intriguing - a bit like adding things to your iPod. This one is quite funky. The Gription is a lid replacement for most wide-mouth bottles. It has a self-sealing valve that allows one-handed drinking while preventing spills, apparently. Either that or perhaps a Splash Guard

The stuff they think of to part us with our money.......... an aspect which can be quite easy really

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Nalgene Firefly

I don't know why I've been drawn to outdoor gadgets lately, especially as I've done all my Christmas spending. Perhaps it's a sign that I'm overdue for a trip. More likley I should just switch off the computer and go outside a bit more. In any case, I'm quite intrigued by the Nalgene Firefly, an LED lid that will convert most wide-mouth water bottles into glowing lanterns. (The electronics are in a sealed to keep them safely separate from the water.)

............ boys and their interest in gadgets must be some kind of universal law

What Ever Next?...........

"Wine in a can" makes it simple to bring a glass of wine on the go. Avoid the hassle of wineglasses, opener and fragile bottle. This is a small convenient packaging totally made from aluminum, from which you drink like a glass. The cans are recycled in the same way as conventional aluminum cans.

Making life convenient on a paddling expedition........ what ever next?

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas & Best Wishes for 2007

Photo: Taino Almestica Collection

Christmas for me has come to represent a time for reflection, relaxation and planning for the future. 2006 has thrown up a number of challenges, bereavements, opportunities and journeys. 2007 will no doubt offer similar experiences as well as those unexpected moments that can creep up on us. One thing is for sure I'll not be able to see it through without my friends, both near and far.

Hope you all have a good one, wherever you end up, whoever you end up with!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Terry Pratchett's Hogfather

The Auditors strike again in Pratchett's 20th novel, Hogfather. They decided to eliminate the Hogfather because he does not fit into their view of the Universe. They meet with Lord Downey, head of the Assassin's Guild, and commission the services of Mr. Teatime (pronounced Te-ah-tim-eh), whose particular brand of insane genius makes him an ideal candidate for the assassination of the Hogfather and other anthropomorphic personifications. Death decides to take over for the Hogfather in order to make people continue to believe in him, wearing a long red cloak and a beard, but things start to become complicated because he is taking the children's wishes too literally. Meanwhile, his granddaughter Susan must find out what's happened to the real Hogfather. She visits his Castle of Bones only to find the hung-over Bilious, the "Oh God of Hangovers" (So-called because "when humans experience [him], they clutch their heads and say "oh god") whom she rescues before the castle collapses due to the lack of belief. In an attempt to cure Bilious, Susan visits Unseen University where it is discovered that several of these minor gods and beings are being created. The University's computer, Hex, explains that there is 'spare belief' in the world due to the absence of the Hogfather which is being used to create them. Susan and Bilious then travel to the land of the Tooth Fairy where they discover that Teatime has 'killed' the Hogfather by collecting millions of children's teeth and using them to control the children, forcing them to stop believing in the Hogfather. Upon throwing the assassin off the tower and apparently killing him, Susan clears the teeth away and brings back the Hogfather by rescuing him from the Auditors, who have taken the forms of dogs. They cannot return to their original state and so cannot stop themselves falling off a cliff. Afterwards, Teatime tracks Susan to the Gaiters' nursery, but is killed by Susan using the nursery poker, which passes through Death because "it only kills monsters".

A two-part TV series of Hogfather was screened on the 17th and 18th of December 2006 (8.00 pm) on Sky One in the UK, with Ian Richardson as the voice of Death and David Jason playing Death's manservant Albert. Marc Warren played Mr. Teatime.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

12 Days Of Hogswatch - Day 12

The myth of the Hogfather and how to celebrate Hogswatch

A look at the Discworld Mid-winter festival.

Friday, December 22, 2006

12 Days Of Hogswatch - Day 11

The Auditors, the civil servants of the Discworld

We meet The Auditors whose ultimate goall is retaining perfect order

Thursday, December 21, 2006

12 Days Of Hogswatch - Day 10

Hex, the ultimate thinking machine

An introduction to the Unseen University's only computer

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

12 Days Of Hogswatch - Day 9

Failing student wizard Mr Sideney

An introduction to the not so great Mr Sideney

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Monday, December 18, 2006

12 Days Of Hogswatch - Day 7

Corporal Nobbs and Constable Visit of the City Watch

An introduction to the colourful characters of the City Watch

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Saturday, December 16, 2006

12 Days Of Hogswatch - Day 5

The Unseen University

A look at Ankh Morpok's legendary, and only, Wizard training school

Friday, December 15, 2006

12 Days Of Hogswatch - Day 4

The history and geography of Ankh-Morpork

A guide to Discworld's capital city

Thursday, December 14, 2006

12 Days Of Hogswatch - Day 3

Susan's strange genealogy

An introduction to DEATH's granddaughter Susan Sto Helit

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

12 Days of Hogswatch - Day 1

Welcome to the Discworld

DEATH talks to Terry Pratchett author of the Discworld about his creation.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Hogfather - The Movie

I've been a Terry Pratchett fan for years. My first book was Mort which had been borrowed from my friend Fraser. Once I'd opened the first page I didn't want to put it down and I've been hooked ever since.

A live action Discworld movie has been a long time coming. I know Pratchett has sold the rights to many books, and on occasions been so unhappy at the treatment he's bought the rights back. There have been two cartoon versions - of Soul Music and Wyrd Sisters which were pretty good, but it will be great to see it in movie form.

For the uninformed, the Discworld is a fantasy land that lives of the back of a giant turtle swimming its way through the universe. Basically, Terry Pratchett has created an allegory and satire of our world, each book comments on different topics such as newspapers, wars, the postal system etc. They’re witty, convincing and plain brilliant. Hogfather is about Santa Claus or Father Christmas if you prefer.

The story revolves around the fact that the Hogfather has gone missing after an assassin is hired to kill him. In response Death (yes, Death) dons a red suit and white beard and with the help of his butler Alfred, the Death of Rats and his grand-daughter Susan, he sets out to ensure all the children’s wishes come true.