Archive for August, 2012


Today I booked a provisional place on the 1 STAR Paddling Sport Award course. It seemed like good value at less then £50 for four sessions.

I did some introductory kayak sessions at school and recall the raft races where you make a “raft” by forming the canoes up and then two nominated people get up to change places, while the instructor removes a kayak like in musical chairs. Another memory is the capsize drill where you roll the kayak over and bang the sides 3 times before pushing out and swimming free.

Since then I have paddled kayaks at various places around the UK – from Scottish lochs to placid lakes to grade 2 rapids on a river trip through Symonds Yat. It will be nice to learn the skills properly and hopefully get something new out of the experience. At any rate, it should be a good experience with some new people. Looking forward to it!



Still struggling with this. I have not had the time to do the exercises every day, so I will re-double efforts to improve this.

Tonight I managed to do two sets of the following form:

bridge pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)

Yoga Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana) (Photo credit: Adrian Valenzuela)

  • 60 Sec – Forearm Plank
  • 30 Sec – Side Plank (Right)
  • 30 Sec – Side Plank (Left)
  • 60 Sec – Yoga Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)

I have always wanted to visit Legoland since I was little. Back then you had to go to Denmark and on my many trips through Bilund airport, I still have not managed to go. Anyway – with the help of Tesco Clubcard vouchers, we have just returned from a trip to Legoland Windsor.

I booked the Holiday Inn at Slough for Friday night as we had a fair distance to travel and wanted to make an early start. We left home later than expected, but made good time, getting to the hotel at about 1600. The view from our 7th floor window was good and included Windsor Castle, although he kids couldn’t quite see the Queen waving!

That night, we went into Windsor for a walk and something to eat. The evening started very pleasant – quite warm in fact. After eating at Bella Pasta in Thames street, we walked over the old bridge into Eton and along the high street. About half way up , the heavens opened up and we rushed back over the bridge to the car.  We arrived back at the hotel and settled down for a comfortable night.

Breakfast was available from 0700, but we planned to eat at 0800. When we arrived at breakfast and hour later, we found a buffet with good selections of cereal, fruit and the obligatory full English. After filling up to minimise expenditure and time spent eating in the park we checked out, fighting through throng of G4S security guards getting ready for duty at Dorney Lakes.

After navigating through the outskirts of Windsor with the aid of phone based sat-nav, we arrived at Legoland. We parked up and re-organised the kit into two rucksacks.We planned to carry one and drop the other (containing kids wellies, waterproof trousers and the like) in a locker. Walking from the car, I noticed that it was going to cost extra  to park the car – how ridiculous! It’s not like you would park here to go shopping is it! We arrived at the kiosk and used the vouchers with no issues and paid the car parking fee of £2. – I suppose its all about “price presentation”.

We headed for the back of the park – as advised by the Unofficial Guide to Legoland Windsor, stowed the we weather kit in the locker (which cost £1 every time you close it), and headed for Atlantis. On the way we passed the Q-BOT booth and my wife decided to rent one. This really did help us get around more rides, although sometimes it was the focus of the action. To minimise wait time, the pressure was on to book another ride as soon as the ride attendant had “zapped our BOT” so to speak!

Atlantis was great fun and we enjoyed the short ride “underwater” in the “sub”. The attention to detail in all the logo models is outstanding and we were always finding new things to look at around the park – not just in the excellent model villages of mini-land.

The kids enjoyed the driving school most of all and both got their souvenir driving licenses. We didn’t get chance to go through boating school, but graduated from the fire-fighting academy bottom of the class – I did had to power the truck all by myself!

We made it through to about 1500 before the storms hit. Thunder and Lightening close Chopper Squadron just as Q-BOT buzzed to let us know it was time to go on.A quick dash to the lockers, change into “wets” and then headed up further into Duploland to have a go at the crazy golf. The storm was soon over and the park rides reopened after about half an hour.

When the rain started again, we headed up to the theatre and the imagination centre for some indoor activities.I especially like the destructive testing lab for Lego towers. We finished the day on the Viking River getting very wet, but really enjoyed it.

We stopped off at a pub on the way home which served a nice pint of Fullers ESB, but the food was less than adequate for the high cost. We arrived back home exhausted with many happy memories of a great family trip.

Core stability – 1st attempt

Posted: August 22, 2012 in Aikido, Diary

Following on from my post on core stability,  I tried this for the first time tonight.  I only managed a single set and found that quite difficult.

I found the front position to be challenging and the back position to be really easy.  By contrast,  the side positions were pretty impossible.  I struggled to get the full minute and to achieve the proper exercise form.

However, I will persevere as if it’s difficult to do, then it must be beneficial and shows a weakness to be addressed.  I plan to build up slowly to the recommended level of sets.


UML Tool for Fast UML Diagrams.

If you want a tool that robustly enforces UML syntax or has the latest UML language elements or SysML profile, then this is not the tool you want.  However, if you need a way of developing a quick concept without going through endless rigour and data dictionary definition, then this is a fantastic option. The most common model elements are all there and you can annotate all the class elements, associations, relations, etc.  that you need.

I have used this twice now to rapidly develop a diagram to convey a systems concept for which UML syntax is an obvious choice, but didn’t have the time to use Rhapsody or EA. Less cumbersome (and expensive!) than Visio – its easy to cut/paste the diagram as a bit map and quick to load up and modify. Can be used stand alone or as a plug-in to the Eclipse SDE. I have only used it standalone, so can’t comment on its use within Eclipse.


Aikido Retreat 2012

Posted: August 19, 2012 in Aikido, Diary, Uncategorized
Tags: ,

Just returned from an intensive Aikido course over a day and a half.  Really enjoyed it but it was quite hard work and I came back with a few aches and pains.

The first day consisted of lots of aki-jo work. The second day’s theme was taijitsu, but included some exercises with Jo and Bokken. We also did some tantodori too.

Day 1 – Aki-Jo

Defence against the Jo (Jo Dori):

  • Shihonage
  • Ikkyo
  • Nikkyo as a Jo Taking technique and as a way of defending against having a jo taken.
  • Juji Nage

We then practised the Happo Tsuki (Like Happo Giri and Happo Undo except with a Jo). The directions are in the same order as usual, at each direction:

  • Chudan Tsuki
  • Jodan Gamae
  • Shomen Uchi

Before a 2nd Kyu grading, we practised the 13 Count Jo.

The grading was good to watch and the student did well being awarded 2nd Kyu. Afterwards we practised Handachi Waza:

  • Shihonage
  • Tenchinage (with a strike to the back of the knee for the “earth” hand)
  • Soto Kaitenage

The next practice involved randori kokyu nage with the Jo and Taijitsu.
The session then livened up with 3 attackers to one defender!

The 1st day went really well I enjoyed loads.

Day 2: Taijitsu

The day started with the warm up and Tai No Henka Ryotedori, flowing straight into Ryotedori kokyu nage.

We then did some bokken and Jo defences followed by another tai no kenka exercise, this time from a Kubi Shimi (choke with one arm pinned) attack:



We did some Tanto Dori including some techniques I have done before in JuJitsu:

Kote gaeshi

Waki Gatame

gyaku kansetsu gan men kime, a headlock with a version of waki gatame for the disarm.


And lots of other stuff that I can’t remember. A very good experience, but really tired afterwards.

Carry On Camping

Carry On Camping (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We carried on camping this year with a visit to Gower in South Wales.  It was just a short visit over a long weekend – Friday to Monday. I intended to load up the trailer and get organised on the Thursday, but this proved difficult due to working until late.
We managed to get our personal kit sorted out and clothes, so I loaded the trailer up on Friday morning. Packing the trailer is a bit of an art form. Its just a little Erde 101 with an extension which nearly doubles its capacity. However, the extension is not ridged or robust, so only light things can be packed on top. I usually tray to get the tent, poles and furniture in first as these are the heaviest. Unfortunately, its the tent that we need first!


Anyway we arrived at Kennexstone Camp Site in the Gower around1400hrs. The weather was brilliant – hot and sunny, so we pitched the tent and got ourselves organised easily. We use a “Royal Hampton 4” tent along with an extension designed to fit it.  We use the extension as a kitchen and bathroom. Because it has no groundsheet its great for taking off wet/muddy/sandy clothes so the actual tent inner doesn’t get contaminated. There is nothing worse than a tent filled with sand, water or mud.

We spent the afternoon exploring the camp site and visited a field contain lots of friendly sheep. The children quickly made friends with others on the site and were soon off playing. Tinned hot dogs for tea with fresh locally baked rolls, tomato sauce and mustard. Washed down with squash for the kids and couple of mugs of Sainsbury’s Merlot for me!


On Saturday morning myself and my eldest daughter we went out looking for geocaches, finding three within a mile of the camp-site.The first was in an area of bog next to the site. The next one was in a field where the farmer was using a bailing machine to make hay bales. The third was in another boggy wooded area.

In the afternoon we headed out to the beach at Hillend. After parking in the car park (Costs £3 for the day) we climbed over the dunes to the beach. The beach is massive and has lots of razor shells, muscle shells and scallops. Again it was bright and sunny, but we failed to realise the extent of the winds coming from the south. Loads of people were out flying kites and most people had set up sun tents or wind breaks. We failed to bring any of these items so got sand blasted!

When the children had collected their shells, made enough sand castles and finished paddling in the sea we returned to the car and explored some of the other places nearby. We drove back through Llangennith and up towards Llanmadoc, past the campsite. We then went through Cheriton and back to Llanridian. We had arranged to meet friends of ours at the campsite later that day. We went out for an evening meal at the Greyhound Inn in Oldwalls near Llanridian. The food was excellent and they brew their own beer too. Gower Gold is an excellent pint.

Our friends camped with us on Saturday night. The night was really rough with the high winds we encountered on the beach picking up again. There were significant storms with thunder and lightning. I was glad of the Royal Hampton’s thich steel poles and that I had fully guyed out the tent.


We awoke on Sunday to find the tent still in one piece. I went out and re-tensioned the guy-lines and we got ready to go out. The plan was to visit a farm park some distance away in Pembrokshire with the logic that we were already half way there. We took the road through Bury Port, stopping off at the Tesco for picnic supplies.

We had a great day at the Folly Farm and returned to camp at about 2000 that night.


On Monday morning a heavy drizzle of rain set in. It there’s one thing I hate more than pitching a tent in the rain, its striking (taking down) a tent in the rain. We have little room at home to dry the tent fabric out and it just no pleasant to pack the trailer and car in a hurry in bad weather. We had booked a late departure from the site, so had until 2000 that night to pack up. I planned to leave it as late as possible in the hope that the tend would dry out as much as possible.

I decided to brave the weather and go for a walk around an area near the camp site called Ryer’s Down. This is a national trust area that also boasts seven geocaches. We had found two of the caches on Saturday morning. The others were probably too far for the kids to walk and in any case they were playing with their new friends while my wife read and kept a watchful eye.

I climbed the hill on well-defined paths through bracken, descending the other side’s steep slope. I quickly found the next cache and moved on down a small lane past a farm. Up ahead I could see several cows blocking the lane along with several men with land rovers and tractors working on clearing the cattle grid. After a brief chat they moved the cows out-of-the-way and I continued on. Consulting my GPS, I realised I have gone past the point where the next cache was hidden. Due to the number of “muggles” (both bovine and human) I could not go back and search for it, so I carried on back up the hill again. Back on top, the rain continued but I managed to find the next caches in the series before returning to the camp site.

After lunch, we started to pack up the inside of the tent and the weather gradually improved until it was as hot and sunny as in previous days. I managed to shake most of the water from the tent and the sun did a good job of drying the rest out. We packed up the tent, discovering a big puddle of water beneath the tent’s footprint.

I lit a disposable barbecue and we had an evening meal of cheeseburgers and hot-dogs before setting off home in the car.