My sister is becoming a farmer – a goat farmer to be precise. she and Ian now have approx 50 female and 1 billy goats on rented land near their place in Bradford upon Avon. The plan is to increase the herd (billy has been busy) and buy some farmland to establish themselves. After that it’s on to Smoothie production…

As you can see from the photo the goats were happily penned in, but my childhood experience reminds me that for goats the grass is always greener the other side of the fence, and they’ll do just about anything to get there.

Good luck Sarah, hope you don’t mind getting out of bed in the middle of the night to recapture your straying herd 🙂

Real Life SimCity


Recently I’ve been playing with a mapping app on the iPhone called Waze. This allows you to do free turn by turn routing on a smartphone (at time of writing Android and iPhone’s supported), with the added bonus of up to date traffic reporting by fellow users of the service.

Waze started in Israel, and they’ve pretty much got the whole country mapped now. The UK however is sparse – most roads are not mapped yet, but this is the bit I’m enjoying most. When you drive down a road that’s not on Waze, you actually create it. The phone uploads the GPS data to the web, and you go along later and add the street name.

This bit feels like SimCity – creating your own roads! However it does feel like wasted effort, as a project called OpenStreetMap has already created free maps of the entire UK, which Waze or other projects like it could be using. Waze are taking a bit of a gamble on UK users wanting to create a map of the UK before the routing and traffic functions will start to take off. Smartphone Apps that use OpenStreetMap are plentiful – but I’ve yet to find a free one for the iPhone.

For SimCity fans it’s great though – you find yourself deliberately taking new routes to and from work just to add new roads to the map.

Not dead after all

Just in case the last post made you feel depressed, think of the case of the twice-buried monk.

Oran, a sixth-century monk on Iona: having presumably been declared dead, he was buried, but was dug up again the following day and found to be alive. He is said to have subsequently been re-buried for heresy when he claimed that after his first burial he had seen heaven and hell.

Remember London Beer Flood

This week is the anniversary of the London Beer Flood. Please bow your heads.

The London Beer Flood occurred on October 17, 1814 in the London parish of St. Giles in the United Kingdom. At the Meux and Company Brewery on Tottenham Court Road, a huge vat containing over 135,000 imperial gallons of beer ruptured, causing other vats in the same building to succumb in a domino effect. As a result, more than 323,000 imperial gallons of beer burst out and gushed into the streets. The wave of beer destroyed two homes and crumbled the wall of the Tavistock Arms Pub, trapping the barmaid under the rubble.

The brewery was located among the poor houses and tenements of the St Giles Rookery, where whole families lived in basement rooms that quickly filled with beer. The wave left nine people dead: eight due to drowning and one from alcohol poisoning.

Whilst we  pause to reflect on this tragic waste of beer, check out this list of unusual deaths.