Thursday, 29 April 2010

Had a lovely day yesterday! And what a view we had... from the Little Chef. Not just any Little Chef mind, this was the one featured on the Channel 4 documentaries Big Chef Takes On Little Chef in which top chef Heston Blumenthal was brought in to revitalise the ailing Little Chef chain of roadside restaurants.

You guessed it. We didn't make it up in any balloon, we didn't even make it to Glastonbury. Our first phone call to confirm if the launch was going ahead left us hopeful of a possible take off as the recorded message instructed us to call back an hour later. Winds were a little high at the launch site but there was an outside chance these would drop by the time we were due to launch. We were already on our way, so we stopped off at the aforementioned Little Chef to sample some Heston-inspired roadside grub. Lovely.

As soon as the recorded message an hour later began with the words "I'm sorry but..." we knew it wasn't to be fourth time lucky for us. We'd need to go re-book and try again a fifth time.

Oh well. Given we had a babysitter (thank you Sandra and Keith!) we thought we would still make the most of it. We continued to drive through the countryside and discovered a beautiful little town called Bradford-on-Avon not too far from Bath and found a fantastic B&B for the night. A lovely evening stroll in the evening sunshine before a spot of tapas. Who needs a hot-air balloon?

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Fourth time lucky?

For Valentine's Day Rachel booked a balloon flight for us (aaahhh...).

That was Valentine's Day 2008 and we still haven't yet been up in a balloon! Not for want of trying... so far we have booked three times but the weather has stopped us from taking off. In fact, we have not even got so far as even seeing a balloon, as the procedure involves you calling a number two hours before going to the launch site to make sure the launch is going ahead. Each time we have been told by the recorded message that it is too windy and that we should re-book. Personally, I'm not convinced Mr Branson even owns any balloons! (What about the balloon in the picture on the right I hear you ask... two words: "photo" and "shop".)

Today will be our fourth attempt. I'm a little more hopeful as the weather over the past few days has been glorious (although today is a little cloudy), and now that we are 'dahn saaf' we are due to launch from near Glastonbury. Our previous attempts were up in the Lake District (beautiful scenery but balloon-unfriendly weather).

I'm keeping my fingers crossed. I've heard that works.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Righteous Indignation

Ahead of Thursday's talk at the Merseyside Skeptics Society I was interviewed for this week's Righteous Indignation Podcast. The whole podcast lasts a little over an hour and includes plenty of discussion about the importance of critical thinking when it comes to making sense of the various claims that are often made about the paranormal and so on.

The interview with me is towards the end, and starts at around 45 minutes. And, no, I wasn't speaking from inside a metal box.

Monday, 12 April 2010

Skeptical Skousers

On Thursday this week, I will be returning to Liverpool to give a talk about the 'Million Dollar Psychic' project to the Merseyside Skeptics Society. In fact, it's my first public talk about the project so it's nice to be doing it in the city in which I have spent much of my adult life.

The talk begins at 8pm but earlier in the day I plan to try some psychometry. This, so the psychics tell us, where you try to pick up information about someone just from handling an object (like a ring, or a watch) that belongs to that person. I'm not making any claims about being able to do it but I need to practice at any opportunity I get!

The plan is to film my attempts and reveal how I got on as part of the talk in the evening. Nothing lik a little public scrutiny to help relax me...!

It's all happening at The Vines at 8pm on Thursday 15th April. More details here.

Friday, 9 April 2010

Are you brave enough?

Drove into London yesterday to see Ghost Stories at the Hammersmith Lyric. It was a frightening experience. Creepy, unnerving, gut-wrenching, and at times surreal. And that was just listening to Richard Madeley standing in for Simon Mayo on Radio 2 on the drive in.

The show itself was excellent. Lots of jump moments, and all brought together brilliantly. Highly recommended.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

The man with the cash

A short clip of James Randi, he of the Million Dollar Challenge, courtesy of YouTube:

The clip dates from March 2008 and it is stated at the end that the challenge "...only lasts another couple of years." Fortunately (for me) the decision to withdraw the challenge in March 2010 was itself withdrawn last summer!