An apology from Colin and Matt

I listen to a great radio show on Amazing Radio on saturday mornings. It’s called The Saturday Show with Colin and Matt, hosted by funny guys Colin Greaves and Matt Horne (no not that one!) .. i really enjoy their banter, the riddle, the burning question, the quirky news roundup, and the music they play.

A few weeks ago the burning question was: “The Postal Service! It’s a bit rubbish, really, isn’t it?” and because they were discussing the postal service, they thought it would be fun to ask for answers on a postcard. So i sent them a postcard. I didn’t have time to choose a funny one, or one with boobs on, which i know would have made them happy. So i sent them a scene of Winchester from my favourite local artist, Josephine Chisholm.

They received it the following week. They tweeted about it and posted this picture.

To me, that is iconic Winchester. The Buttercross, the old architecture, busking, St Giles’ Hill.

Matt liked it, but Colin wasn’t impressed. Comments such as: “That could be anywhere!” and insinuations that people in Winchester are all farmers. I remember the comment “Is that a wheelbarrow?” particularly stung! And of course, the lack of boobs was mentioned.

Anyway, so yesterday was a saturday and my partner and i decided to listen to XFM instead. I took part in Colin & Matt’s riddle on twitter, but let them know that i wasn’t listening because of the postcard comments!

Colin asked for my email address. I was hesitant, but figured it’s easily found on the internet so i sent Colin my email address.

Then today i received this!

Dear Aimee, a fan of our Saturday Show,
This is just a quick email, good morning, hello.
You sent us a postcard, the only one we’ve ever got,
And I said some bad things, am I proud? I am not.

You see, it’s not that I genuinely thought it was bad,
I thought it was great, I was happy, I was glad.
But for comedic effect, I said it was dire,
I’d come to regret this as things did transpire.

I’m so very sorry if you took offence to my ribbing,
If I said I didn’t care, I’d only be fibbing.
Our fans mean the world to us and you’re one of the best,
Upsetting or offending you leaves me rather distressed.

Please accept my sincere apologies, the postcard was ace,
We’ve even put it up on the wall, it’s taken centre place.
I’d hate for you to think we don’t appreciate our fans,
Going around insulting people is not part of our plans.

So I’m sorry, and thank you for being an absolute gem,
And please don’t stop listening and changing to XFM!

HOW SWEET IS THAT?!?!!

I’ve never had a personal poem written by a radio DJ before, it was so lovely! Of course, Colin is fully forgiven, and i’ll be listening again from next week!

But just in case that wasn’t enough, Colin also drew a picture for me!

What can i say? I’m truly blessed!

I heartily recommend The Saturday Show with Colin and Matt. You can find it 9am-12pm every saturday on Amazing Radio on DAB, or listen online: amazingradio.co.uk

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Happy humanists!

Almost a year ago, Sarah and i started a humanist social group in Winchester. We meet monthly in a wine bar, on a sunday morning, for breakfast and coffee, and stimulating conversation.

I always look forward to the group: i’ve made some really good friends, and we go out for other social occasions outside of the monthly group. It has really replaced the sense of community that i felt i was lacking after leaving the church.

Today i felt very proud of what it is becoming. Fifteen people turned up today. That was twelve adults, two children and a baby. We had some really good intellectual and personal conversations, and a fairly intense debate about the meaning of marriage outside of a religious context: why people choose to get married and what they understand of it, and how the state should recognise relationships.

Some people were there for the first time today and got talking to each other and very clearly benefitted from the conversation they had. One person had only recently started openly admitting their non-belief, and there was such a sense of support and encouragement among people who understood and could relate to similar experiences.

I feel proud. Not because i made it happen. All i did was help set off something that has grown into a place where these things can happen naturally. Everyone today expressed their gratitude that the group exists. I am delighted that people bring their kids, and it has such a friendly welcoming atmosphere.

To find out more, follow us on twitter: @hantshumanist
or on facebook: Hampshire Humanists
or email winchesterhuman@gmail.com

We are part of the South Hampshire Humanists: southhamps.humanist.org.uk

Winchester Firework Display 2011

I love bonfire night! It’s great to celebrate a festival that’s based in politics rather than in religion.

Winchester Round Table always puts on a fantastic display, and has done so for over 50 years. It’s very popular: literally half the population of Winchester turns up to see it. It’s great fun to be out there with so many other people enjoying the display.

I watched the fireworks imagining i was watching the Houses of Parliament get blown up. Is that bad?!!

My favourite are the bright red fireworks that explode in a huge circle and light up the whole sky! :)

Why i’m voting YES to AV

This time last year i got an MP who i didn’t vote for. An MP that more than half of Winchester did not vote for. I was very upset at the result across the country: the number of MPs was thoroughly disproportionate to the number of votes cast. Here’s a reminder:

UK General Election 2010

I went on a march in Trafalgar Square, i got a tshirt for Unlock Democracy, i led a debate on why First Past The Post is an undemocratic system (and won the debate!), i blogged and tweeted, and i talked to lots of people about how the system could be better.

In my opinion, the Alternative Vote, while not perfect, is certainly a vast improvement on FPTP. With AV, in Winchester last year, we could have found out the second preference of the people who voted for the smaller parties. It’s possible they may have supported the winning candidate, pushing the support up past 50%. Or they may have preferred the runner-up. But we would know that the winner under AV had support from at least half of the constituency.

I just voted #Yes2AV! on Twitpic

So … tomorrow is our chance. A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make a significant difference. I have absolutely no idea how the referendum will turn out, but i want to encourage everyone who has the opportunity to vote, to do so. When do we ever get to help make a big decision like this?! I find it awesome to think that – hey – it’s up to us! For once, we’re not going to have the decision made for us by politicians.

I’m voting yes because i want a fairer voting system. I want an end to tactical voting. I want to know that my MP has a majority support. I want to be able to vote honestly. I want to help establish a better democracy for generations to come.

To be clear: A vote yes to AV is not a vote for Nick Clegg. A vote no to AV is not a vote for David Cameron. This is simply a vote on whether we want to fix the flawed voting system that produces results that don’t represent us.

UK Voting referendum already under threat

Today, Nick Clegg has set the date for the UK voting referendum, giving us a chance to reform the badly flawed voting system.

If you’re not convinced that the system is unfair, compare these charts: How we voted in the 2010 election vs what we got.

UK General Election 2010

Unfortunately some backbench Conservative MPs are trying to propose a 40% threshold, meaning that at least 40% of all registered voters would need to support the reform. This is totally unrealistic and unprecedented: it’s not the way we elect MPs, in fact only 35 out of our 650 MPs got support from 40% of their electorate.

Their fear is understandable: under a fairer voting system the Conservative party would probably not get an overall majority. But it is not right to use an unfair voting system to save another very unfair voting system.

The most important thing right now is to urge your MP not to support the threshold and to give the referendum a fair chance. You can do so here:

http://takebackparliament.com/stitchup

Follow the instructions to write a letter to your MP. A suggested letter will be provided for you; all you need to do is add in your MP’s name (the site will tell you) and sign it with your name. If you personalise the letter more, so much the better.

For reference, here’s the letter i wrote to my MP for Winchester, Steve Brine.

Dear Steve,

My first opportunity to write to you! :) This is about the Alternative Vote system referendum.

I really welcome a fairer system than the one we have currently. I led a debate at The Roebuck Inn recently proposing that First Past The Post is undemocratic. I did not vote for you, and my vote was discarded. It bothers me that 28,800 votes in Winchester counted for nothing. I won the debate, by the way!

Now that we have a real chance to get a fairer system I’m concerned that some backbench Conservative MPs are already trying to fight against it by trying to argue for a 40% threshold rule — that’s 40% support from all available voters, even those who choose not to vote.

This doesn’t sound at all fair to me, and sounds like a sign of fear. By the way, Steve, you only got 36.79% of the total available electorate in Winchester, so you should be able to see why this proposal doesn’t make sense!

You may not be the representative i voted for, but you are now my representative in Parliament, and therefore i hope i can count on you to oppose this suggestion and give the referendum a fair chance.

Yours sincerely,

aimee daniells
twitter: @sermoa

After one afternoon already 1,873 letters have been sent to 548 of our MPs. It is important that we get the message to all 650 MPs, so please do your bit and support true democracy.

See also:
http://www.takebackparliament.com/
http://www.unlockdemocracy.org.uk/
http://www.power2010.org.uk/

Geocaching again!

I enjoyed geocaching so much yesterday, i was keen to go and find another one today!

My first try was GC1NAE3 – Time At The Bar – The Market Inn. I think i know approximately where it is, but i couldn’t find it without attracting unwanted attention from the many passers by. I think i’ll have to go back in the middle of the night to check whether my suspicions are correct on that hiding place!

Next i tried for GC1P23E – Close Cathedral Close and succeeded! It took me a while to find it, mainly because of nerves. Anyone who finds this one will understand what i mean when i say you have to be a bit brave! But i did find it, and i took it to the nearby bookstall of the cathedral to have a look at the contents:

Inspecting the geocache at the Cathedral bookshop

There was recently a geocoin in this one, but although i found a few foreign coins, the geocoin was not there. It must have already moved on. I added my name to the visitor log (with some difficulty due to the tiny pencils!) and added a little Kinder egg toy:

Ready for return

If i go again i’ll probably take a pencil and a pencil sharpener. Actually, that could be a good thing to take to all geocaches; they would often be useful.

It was quite fun to put it back in its hiding place and walk on knowing that i’d found something that not many people know about!

Already i am immensely enjoying geocaching. Unlike geohashing, it’s something you can do at any time, and it’s equally enjoyable by yourself as it is with friends. There are some geocaches on St Catherine’s Hill and the Hockley Viaduct which i’m really looking forward to finding. I’ve been saying for a long time that i’d like to see those places … and the added possibility of finding a geocache gives me just enough reason to make it soon!

I’m going to want to create my own geocache at some point. I’m just trying to think of a good hiding place! :)

My first geocaching experience

Many readers will know that i enjoy geohashing (geohashing.org): locating a geographic point detemined daily by randomly generated coordinates. For a long time i’ve been wanting to try the sport that inspired geohashing, which is geocaching.

Geocaching (geocaching.com) is another GPS game where you have to find a ‘cache’ which has been hidden by someone else. The cache stays there indefinitely and over the course of time several people will follow clues to find it. The cache may be large or small, and may contain various items. People sometimes take an item out and replace it with another item for the next visitor to find.

Today i got my chance to go geocaching for the first time. All the geohash locations were uninteresting or hard to reach this weekend, so my geohashing friend Mike came to Winchester for the afternoon. We initially planned to spend an afternoon juggling, but it was a bit wet and the ground too dirty for that. We went for lunch in the Bridge Patisserie and then decided to look whether there were any geocaches nearby.

It turned out there was one just around the corner! GC1N2M9 – Winchester Chesil Station which is part of a series of geocaches along the route of the former Didcot, Newbury and Southampton Railway. I became interested in this railway line since my geohash in Bar End where i noticed the railway line going past St Catherine’s Hill on a map from 50 years ago. So i was curious to go anyway, to see whether i could spot any clues of the former railway and the station.

The first clue made me laugh to myself that i’d never noticed it before!

Old Station Approach

Old Station Approach. The clue is in the name!

The second clue is even bigger! This is the entrance to the tunnel that went straight through St Giles’ Hill and out the other side in Winnall before it carried on towards Kings Worthy. I wonder whether the tunnel is still intact?

Where in Winchester?

This is a contribution to the Flickr group Guess Where Winchester? so [shhh] on the location! ;)

The footbridge near the multi-storey car park has a definite ‘railway feel’ about it, don’t you think?

the bridge and the car park

That car park is built exactly where the old station used to be. It was called Winchester Cheesehill, the old name for the area we now call Chesil.

The view from the bridge:

view from the bridge

The silver car driving away is following the route of the old railway line. There is no sign of it now, but a photo on wikipedia proves the history. Winchester Chesil Station

We looked for a long time before we found the geocache. It was very small and very well hidden. I don’t believe anyone would find it unless they were specifically looking for it. Eventually Mike pulled it up. It was really nicely labelled:

found the geocache!

The barrel reads: GEOCACHE – CONTENTS SAFE – DO NOT MOVE – GEOCACHING.ORG

Look what was inside!

opening up the tiny geocache

list of previous visitors to the geocache

A list of people and dates when they have found the cache. The list was actually full: somebody needs to go back and put in a new sheet of paper.

I really enjoyed my first geocaching experience. There are loads of geocaches all over Winchester so i’ll definitely be going to find more. There are another 4 in this series on the Didcot, Newbury and Southampton Railway which i am keen to find, whilst learning more about the old railway line.

A website in a day

Sometimes it’s excellent fun to work with somebody to produce a website in a day. With no requirement for ongoing support, just get it up and running, instant gratification. In a way, it says, “Look what we can do when we set our minds to it!”

New site for the Winchester Web Scene
winchesterwebscene.co.uk

Yesterday, @sydlawrence phoned me to ask if i’d like to help make a new site for the Winchester Web Scene. Without a second thought, i said, “DEFINITELY!” We got together at 3pm today at the Bridge Patisserie. We drank lots of coffee, went on to the Bishop on the Bridge, then went back to Syd’s house and ate pizza. We got the whole site designed, coded, integrating with Twitter, Flickr, Google Maps, Gravatar and Campaign Monitor for email subscriptions, with a blog plus comments, events list and RSS feeds … in about 5 hours.

It was nice that two Winchester web companies, Marmalade on Toast and Eden Development were able to combine talent to work on a fun social project together. The two of us had a great time making it!

The site gives a far greater prominence to the Winchester Web Scene than the old Ning site did. Still in its first few hours of existence, the site has already had 71 unique visitors. The future of the Winchester Web Scene is looking very bright!

The next event is a barbeque at the Hyde Tavern on the 6th July from 7pm. If you live near Winchester and are interested in anything to do with the web, you’re very welcome to come along! :)

What a nice afternoon!

I managed to drag myself away from my computers this afternoon and have a lovely time outside.

First i went to visit this space of land that the WinACC local food group are hoping to renovate and turn into a city farm. I got these two lovely ducks on camera … they thought i had food for them. No such luck, heh!

Mallard duck Mallard drake

I’ll go back again soon and take some more photos of the area of land. If we go ahead with the transformation, it’ll be really good to keep a photo blog! But today i didn’t stay long because i was off to visit some friends and see the Christmas market. It was the first weekend, so it was predictably extremely busy, but again such a lovely atmosphere. The bells of the cathedral were ringing, there was carol singing, the crafts on offer were so beautiful and creative. We had mince pies and mulled wine! :)

This is without a doubt my favourite picture of the day:

Christmas market hut

Is that not just beautiful? Here are some other pictures of gorgeous lovely Winchester today …

Christmas market Skating in Cathedral Close Busy christmas market Christmas market and the cathedral Christmas shopping in Winchester Christmas tree

There’s more on Flickr.

Lack of a plan

I am waiting for some inspiration to occur to me about what to do for the rest of the afternoon. I know i have some chores to do (don’t i always?!) but not too many today. I might watch The Bill which my sweetie kindly recorded for me in the week. I might work on the MyChores API a little bit … or i might just continue lying in bed. Blogging from my bed is the best thing, haha!

I went to church again this morning. It was perfectly fine. I met a few more people, including many of the musicians. I keep dropping hints that i’d like to join their band, but i haven’t yet spoken to the people i would need to in order to join! I felt very content this week, and happy to be at the church. I love it that there are so many South Africans at the church. They are friendly and kind … and i love their accents! I’m probably going to pick up a bit of Afrikaans if i keep on going!

Work was good this week. I did a good job and i knew it. There’s no doubt that the work i’m doing now is the hardest i’ve ever had to do. I’m not used to finding my job difficult. But hey, it’s so rewarding to overcome a challenge and know i did it really well. I feel proud of myself. It’s tiring, though. I had a lovely relaxing day yesterday, but i still feel like i need a bit more time to relax before going into another busy week of hard work.

Yesterday afternoon was spent with nyecamden who came to Winchester to meet me. We had a good time together. Visited the library to have a go on their wifi with our netbooks! :) Went to my favourite cafe, The Sanctuary for a delicious hot chocolate. We walked down to the cathedral green to idly pass the time. On the way we found several messages written in chalk on the pavement of The Square. I don’t know who started it, but they were interesting to read. Many of them began with “This is …” and contained recollections of Winchester and happy memories.

Adding to the chalk messages

I added to the messages, with “This is my favourite place to live”. It’s true, i love Winchester. Such a beautiful city, steeped in history and culture. I am very happy to live here.

Thank you Nye for the picture! :)