Category Archives: Hobbies

A cheap Hoegaarden

Having touched on beer drinking in one of my earlier posts, I’m now curious how much a bottle of Hoegaarden actually costs in a supermarket. Here you go, 5 bottles of Hoegaarden, with a free glass, retailing at RM69.95 at Tesco.

Hoegaarden
Works out that it’s just under RM14 a bottle. Whereas at Marianis, during happy hour, it’s just RM12.80++. So it’s about the same price drinking at home or at Marianis! All the more reason to drink there before they move to Greentown!;)

Avoid Berkshire Appliances for repair work

Okay think I’ve given Berkshire Appliances enough time to get back to me to explain why he stood me up yesterday. I left voice mail, called couple of times, both his mobile as well as the landline number on his website. Nope, he didn’t bother. I’m not going to bother and post this negative review of the service I received too. To be fair he sounded like he’s quite competent when I phoned him up. But it is of no use if you are not reliable and waste customers’ time. Not everyone can afford to sit at home and wait for you to turn up to do a job. I had to wake up real early in the morning so I could get off work early to make the appointment. It would have been nice he phoned and be apologetic about his absence, for whatever reason. But nope, absolutely nothing from him since. All these talks of economic recession and unemployment, don’t seem to affect these repairmen. With attitude like this I really don’t mind him going out of work.

Replacing bicycle chain and freewheel

It’s that time of year again. I seem to be repeatedly doing the same thing without learning. Found that the chain on my bike was slipping, replaced with a new set of chain, and then found that it was slipping even more. Sounds familiar. Checked my blog, and this happened just less than four years ago. Because I thought I have “just” replaced my freewheel, I thought it is the front chainset that needed replacing instead. Went to the bike shop, luckily this time it’s just down the road, the shopkeeper told me that every time I replace my chain I should replace the freewheel as well, otherwise the chain will slip. Looks like I have worn out the freewheel once again. Probably should have just replaced the chain every one or two years. As it turns out that it is such an expensive exercise having to replace the chain and the freewheel together every time! But I seem to remember my colleague suggested to me before that a general guideline of his is to replace the chain every 5000 miles. Looks like since I don’t really take care of my bike, and don’t keep track of how many miles I’ve covered, I should just come up with my own rule and replace the chain every one and a half year instead. OK, this post shall mark the day on which and I replaced the chain. Let’s see if I can remember…

Reading my own diary

Today my colleague was looking for information on how to take off the cassette from his rear bicycle wheel. Then I remember that I have written something on here about the differences between cassette and freewheel. What a great idea keeping a diary like this! I can easily retrieve the information too, probably quicker than using Internet search engine.Sometimes it’s not about me writing something more useful than what already have been written elsewhere. It’s just that some times it is quite nice reading what I’ve written some time ago as well. Does remind me of what I’ve been up to at that moment in time. And interestingly I was somewhat amazed after reading my post again, as I could not remember most of what I had written, and that was only 2 years ago! Think I will make a conscious effort to keep blogging here, despite spending more and more time on Facebook lately. Shame on me (I know!).

Horse manure as fertiliser

We finally got our allotment after what must have been a 2 years queue. This is how the allotment area looks like (not how our plot of land looks like though 🙁 at least not yet). We would certainly like our plot to look somewhat like that, but it will almost certainly requre a lot of work. Now that the little one is coming out quite soon, I really wonder if we can keep the land at a respectable state!Anyway I went to a stable where my colleague keeps his pony and horse to collect some horse manure as fertiliser for our allotment yesterday. Apparently the horse manure is cleared out together with the horse bedding everyday. My colleague is currently changing the bedding twice everyday! Because his horse has strained one of her muscles or tendons. Really high maintenance to keep a horse is it not? Which in a way makes me a little more committed to do well on the allotment. As surely I can afford to spare some time for the allotment as well?Fortunately the bedding my colleague use for his animals is made up of straws and hays. Because if sawdust or wood shavings are used instead, the manure and bedding mixture is not going to be suitable for use as fertiliser directly. Whilst the horse manure is good to use as fertiliser, the sawdust or wood shavings are not crop friendly. Apparently when wood breaks down in the soil a nitrogen deficiency occurs, which stunts the growth of crops. There are ways to combat this, like adding nitrogen fertiliser. But we obviously are not interested in such extra activities :)Bags of “black gold” that look almost like soil were dug from the bottom of the manure and hay “mountain” yesterday. Very satisfied. Will work on the allotment in anger from next week once we get our car this coming Tuesday!

The importance of servicing a bicycle

I must have been cycling for 5 years now, on the same bike I bought through the Cycle-2-Work scheme. I have mended punctures numerous times, changed brake pads at least once for both wheels, and replaced freewheel and chain a year and a half ago. But not once have I really serviced my bike. In fact I have not even cleaned my bike before! I mean I have put on the odd lubricants on my chain every now and then, and tightening the brake cables when absolutely need to. But I really haven’t found the need to bring my bike in to a bike shop to get it serviced, until my brake cable got so dodgy that I can hardly brake my rear wheel.Cycled to Halfords about a week ago, looking to buy a fixed lock that I can mount onto external wall to secure W’s bike. Then found out that I can still purchase their one-year bike plan, which includes bike servicing, because my bike was bought from Halford. In fact the bike mechanic can still recall that I bought the bike there! I found this rather unbelievable, but anyway he had a look at my bike to confirm and thought my bike was still in, well, tolerable condition. Fantastic! Because I was toying with the idea of bringing my bike to a local bike shop in Reading town centre instead, as it is easier for me to leave and collect. But at only £18 for a one-year bike plan, it was an easy decision.Collected my bike today. And I honestly could not remember that I can cycle so quickly with my bike! I know my bike has now been pumped up, more than I usually am accustomed to. But it is still incredibly quick. Gear changes are much smoother, and I don’t miss certain gears anymore. The brakes are very responsive as well. Had I known that maintaining my bike in good conditions can make such big differences I would have sent my bike in to the bike shop more frequently, perhaps once a year. Wasted too much energy cycling for too long!

I’m hooked to the Internet

Bar in Heathrow Terminal 1, by arctanck

It’s incredible to think about it now that we can get access to the information almost anytime anywhere. Before iPhone it was still a pain in the arse. And iPhone has really exceeded my expectations. Today I was still able to use MSN to keep in touch with W while I was waiting for a coach to the airport. And I can make free phone calls using Skype via the free wifi service provided by the coach. Now as I am waiting at the airport for my flight, I made another free call to my brother in Malaysia, who is incidentally using iPhone too. Then of course I’m blogging here in the meantime too. On top of that I can check my Facebook to see what my friends are currently doing on Christmas eve. Enough said, and I think I can spend a lot of time on my iPhone! Merry Christmas all!

Clay pigeon shooting

When I first heard of this activity from my colleague I thought it’s going to involve shooting birds! Obviously I was wrong. It is actually one of those Olympic events where they shoot at flying clay discs. Silly me, but don’t you agree that the name is a little confusing, if you have not heard about it before?Anyway just managed to catch on the second outing with my company’s social club last Saturday, organised by my colleague who is a member of the shooting club. Very fortunate we are. Particularly after finding out on the day that the shooting range is actually located inside an army camp. In another words without my colleague I think it will be vey difficult for me to get in and to be able to play with a shotgun.So the place was very well guarded, with armed soldiers guarding the entrance into the campBeAns before we could lay our hands on the shotguns, we were warned about the fire power of these shotguns, as part of the health and safety briefing, as usual. When we carry the gun around the ground we were told that the gun should not be loaded. And we need to keep the shotgun in open position, so that others will feel safe around us. From then on I got quite stressed knowing that I’ll be using such a powerful weapon, of mass destruction from my point of view anyway, for the next two hours.I felt slightly better after firing my first shot. The recoil from the gun was not as bad as I anticipated. And it was incredibly simple to operate the gun, although it does require some clever skills to effortlessly open up and reload the gun. The size 20 gun was however a bit too heavy for me (20 is the size of the cartridge). Towards the end, I was really struggling to hold up the gun with my left arm. I made such complete mess with my final few shots that it was embarrasing. Nevertheless overall the whole thing was more fun than I thought it would be. The coach was excellent, friendly and approachable. The weather turned out to be very good. And most of all I managed to hit some discs, although it was all down hill towards the end. But will I take up this sport, as one of my hobbies? Most probably not. Handling fire arms is just not something I find pleasure in…

Aegon Championships at the Queen’s Club

Took a day off to the Queen’s Club in London to watch the Aegon Championships today. It used to be called Stella Artois Championships. Anyway it was the first time I went to the Queen’s Club in West Kensington. The venue is much smaller than Wimbledon. But I think there are more ground courts sitting areas for people to comfortably sit down and watch tennis. Particularly when there is good weather like we had today. It was a wonderful day out.To be honest, I may be more a football fan than tennis, but I think I enjoy watching tennis like this better than watching football game in a stadium. To be able to get so close to the players, and feel all the actions going on in the court. Very enjoyable. I mean it will be difficult to beat the atmosphere in a stadium if the fans did turn up, and start singing and cheering. But it is so much more relaxing watching tournament tennis, where you can watch tennis the whole day, in the accompany of very civil audience. The atmosphere is certainly very different. And you don’t always have to spend all the time watching tennis. You can have a break and have drinks with your family or friends outdoor or in the dining area.We’ll miss Wimbledon this year. So maybe we’ll find more people there next year. Meanwhile, it’s back to work again tomorrow.

Growing sunflowers

It’s been quite a hectic month. Travelled with my family, in a group of 7, to Scandinavia and Poland. Travelling up and down London for work, and meeting up with friends as well…So am really looking forward to this weekend, to indulge myself a bit of “relaxation” 🙂 It’s spring time and I’ve just planted some sunflower seeds my colleague gave me last year to four small pots this evening. I’m determined to grow some strong, healthy sunflowers this year as last year all the sunflowers I planted all died, except one. And that sunflower wasn’t flowering that well either. Just the one flower to show for. Very disappointing.

I’m all excited this year as well as I’m finally using compost from our compost bin, for the first time, to grow stuff. Not using a lot though as a lot of the stuff I put into our compost bin have not fully composted yet. A mistake on my part for not having read up on how to start a compost bin. I was too naive to think that I can just throw in organic stuff and they will decompose quickly. I mean they will still decompose, but not at the rate I was hoping for (like a wormery). I hope I have not killed some of the native earthworms, which I put in whenever I found them in my garden :p Well because the organic stuff, mostly left over vegetables and fruits, I put into the compost bin may be a bit too acidic for the earthworms.Anyway, my sunflower seeds should be germinating as we speak now. Need to make some rooms in my little backyard to accommodate the sunflowers soon 🙂