The Golden Compass

There was only about a dozen people in the Arts Picture House tonight to see the Golden Compass. All the elements were there for a good film, but something was lacking. The plot seemed to move from once scene to the next without any conviction and there probably wasn’t enought time to do justice to the complexity of the book. I loved the Bear, and I really loved how the daemons were portrayed, so much so that I got my own daemon from the film web site! She’s a raccoon! Overall, a fun film that captured some of the spirit of the book, but without the heart.

The God Delusion

Christmas is an interesting time to be finishing a book that is clearly capable of shattering one’s religious beliefs. Dawkins comprehensively, intelligently and methodically puts together an excellent case that God does not exist. This has been my personal view for a long time and it was refreshing to see the case put forward so clearly. What also comes across is the real danger to us in not challenging religious views and society’s dumb acceptance of other’s religious views no matter what they are, particularly when this involves the education of children.

“The God Delusion” (Richard Dawkins)

Merry Christmas

Spent the day with John and Dawn at our house in Cambridge, They arrived about 10 for breakfast and Michael made some lovely smoked salmon with scrambled egg on toast with rather luxurious smoked salmon that made it extra special. We opened our presents about midday, with a glass of sherry and it took quite a while because there were rather a lot of them!

John with biscuits

Rush Hour was a big hit with us (thanks Tony and Gemma) and there’s also some good online versions (Traffic Jam). My nephew Lewis also got Rush Hour and he’s up to Level 13 (I’m still at 4!). Tried to have a stroll before dinner but we had a quick wander round the block in the rain. We passed a few people—about 6 groups, which was more than I expected.

Dawn with Traffic Jam

Dawn, John and Michael, Christmas Dinner

We cooked a very nice wing rib of beef and had a relaxed dinner with rioja. Then settled down to chat and watched the heavily promoted Dr Who, which was cheesy, but enjoyable. I liked the angel Robots, quite scary! We had a little, teeny buffet and then some nostalgia with To the Manor Born, after a 25 year gap. It was great fun, and Penelope Keith, Peter Bowles and Angela Thorne did a really good job of getting back into the spirit of the original. Dawn had a nice long Skype video chat with her son, Ben, in Australia, which she hadn’t been expecting to do, so that was a nice surprise.

After John and Dawn went back to their apartment in Warkworth Street, we went for a stroll around Parker’s Piece at 11.15, which was (predictably) deserted,

We had a lovely relaxing Christmas day. Thanks for all my pressies too!

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Visit to Woking

Michael and I drove down to Pirbright yesterday, a long drive through the fog along the crawling M25. We were about an hour late for lunch with Dawn, John, Tony, Gemma and Hannah at the Royal Oak pub. Lovely lunch and meet up with the family.

Family at the Royal Oak, Pirbright

We went round to John and Dawn’s house in Woking for the evening, having some supper there before staying overnight at the Premier Travel Inn in Bridge Barn Lane (which was very friendly and comfortable). We had a beer in the lovely Bridge Barn pub there before bed and then we had breakfast there in the morning too.

Drove from Woking to Rugby to visit Christine, Adam, Jessica and Lewis, and my mum, dad and brother David were there too. It’s my Dad’s birthday on Christmas Eve, and Christine had arranged that Michael, John, Dawn and I arriving would be a surprise, which it was! Christine and Adam had a full house, and even fuller when two of their friends arrived for half an hour with their new baby.

Jessica, Michael and Lewis

Jessica, mask of horror

There was a surprise cake for my Dad, and Christine made a lovely buffet for us all and mulled wine!

David and Dad

Dad's birthday

Family in Long Lawford

Generous Secret Santa

My work had its Christmas lunch yesterday, which was really good. 2007 Christmas Quiz199 people in the restaurant was a bit of a squeeze, but the atmosphere was great and helped by lots of whizzing noisy balloons in the crackers. ICT came all wearing sombreros and moustaches (what was that all about?). The lunch quiz was photos of some of the managers: I was the obvious one apparently (I think the ginger hair gave it away!)

Afterwards Kevin was ‘Secret Santa’ and did a great job of winding everyone up. I learned quite a bit from this. I also got a great goft of four bottles of exciting beer: someone was very generous indeed for this, and knew me well! There’s applebocq, San Francisco Anchor Steam Beer, Mongozo and a Celebration Christmas Beer. Thanks Secret Santa!

ApplebocqAnchor Steam BeerMongozoCelebration Ale

There were a few breakaway groups to different pubs. Robert Eagling seemed to manage to go to every one, with somewhat devastating effect: titled Drunk Hobo on YouTube.

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Niamh and I had a day trip to Dortmund for work, and had a quick tour of the city centre to see the largest Christmas Tree in Europe (photo is of last year’s tree). Biggest Christmas Tree Of The WorldThe tree is 45 m high and comprises 940 individual Christmas trees, stacked into one massive tree. It was quite a sight. The trip was good, except for Dortmund Airport, which ranks as my worst queuing experience of the past 12 months. Home in time for a nice dinner with Michael, which was lovely.

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