There are More Questions than Answers

Not really a blog today! More of a “these are questions that are bugging me”

So if you know any answers please use the comments to put me out of my misery BUT no using search engines or reference books or anything like that – this is a test of your general knowledge not your searching skills – Enjoy!


1. When the Neville brother’s, Phil and Gary, played for Manchester United I am guessing they had “P. Neville” and “G. Neville” on their shirts. What happened when Phil left? Did “G. Neville” become “Neville”? And did Phil take the “P” to Everton?

2. Whilst athletics tracks are always 400m they are not always the same width and length! Are more world records set on thin long tracks or wide short ones? This is for events that are at least 200m plus.

3. Do field athletes feel hemmed in on thin tracks and they throw or jump shorter?

4. Why is F1 motor racing or Nascar more popular than touring cars, stock car or rallying? All involve cars, tracks, speed, danger.

5. Why can I tumble dry my children’s America football (grid iron) replica shirts but I can’t do that with their football (soccer) replica shirts?

6. Which sport has the highest paid players/athletes on average throughout the whole of its professional set up?

7. Which sport has the highest paid player/athlete? Who is it?


1. Does tea taste better with the tea bag in the cup before you add the boiling water or added after the boiling water? If yes, why?

2. When charging my phone does it cost more in an electrical socket or if I plug it into a laptop that is charging from an electrical socket?

3. Does a phone charge quicker in an electrical socket or in a laptop?

4. How long does a bird take to build a nest? Does it depend on the breed?

5. How long is a bird’s pregnancy? Once the bird is “on the nest” has it already laid the eggs or is it still gestating?

6. How long before the egg hatches? (Yes ok I have a collared dove nesting in the tree above my garden office)

7. When you machine wash a hoodie how do you stop the string coming out of the hood?

8. What happens if you open the dishwasher door mid cycle? UK dishwashers have a door at the front that hinges at the bottom and no lock.

9. Why don’t us adults have the same holidays as the kids? 6 weeks (UK) in the summer, half terms, Christmas. We are the adults – why can’t we work it out?


1. Is Pluto the only pet in Mickey Mouse’s world?

2. Why is a mouse (Mickey and Minnie) as big as ducks and dogs?

3. Why is the song “It’s a small world after all” so annoying and at the same time you can’t stop singing/humming it? Grrrr.

4. Is there any Disney character that other countries when they translate the name it becomes something rude? Therefore they have to change name.

5. If inflation is taken into account which is the highest grossing Disney film – in terms of box office takings (not DVD or TV sales) and then profit?


1. How can someone start a conversation getting into a lift at ground level and they are only on the second sentence getting out of the lift 20 floors later?

2. In The Lone Ranger (2013) when the runaway train is going through the construction workers, why do they cross the track rather than just stepping back? Dramatic effect is not a suitable answer!

3. Do “voice” actors get paid the same as if the actor was actually acting on the film?

4. In films that are complete green screen do the actors get paid the same as if they were running through a real jungle?

5. For animated films why don’t movie databases add the picture of the animated character as well as the actor’s photo? If you don’t know the characters name then you can’t work out the “voice” from the actor’s photo.

6. I thought digital TV would allow you to access more information about what you were watching – cast lists, trivia, episode summaries etc – whilst you were watching. What happened to that?

Be great to see some answers – by all means pass this to family and friends and general strangers!

Follow me on @1966colinblog

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The Double Bed phenomenon!

An interesting thing happened on one of our recent holidays. The room we had was a double but in practice it was two single beds pushed together with separate duvets. So why interesting? Well it was the best night's sleep either of us had in two decades of being together. Why? Well for starters the join down the middle become like a boundary. Both of us kept to "our" own side. Secondly having a duvet each meant there was no nicking the covers. You had your cover and didn't need to drag the covers over you. And of course if you want a different TOG rating then you just do. Then finally a single bed is more than half the size of a normal English double bed. (I put English as I have no idea what you may do in other countries) Now you can get different size double beds but I bet the majority sold are the 4 foot 6inch variety. So if a single bed is 3 foot then you are now in a much bigger bed (a foot and a half wider to save you doing the maths) when two are pushed together. You can of course have different types of firmness as well, suiting your own needs rather than compromising. After all we all compromise too much in our relationships don't we?

And without getting into the writing of Fifty Shades when we wanted to be close we were. The boundary line didn't matter as we could lay one side or the other of it. Or, particularly in the moment, right on it, over it and wherever we wanted to be on it.

I haven't been brave enough to suggest separate duvets since we got home – even that small change I think would make a world of difference – but maybe one day – when the kids have left home and we have an abundance of single duvets. Me under a Spider-Man cover and the better half under a plethora of minions! We'll make quite the couple.

So think about your sleeping arrangements, not in terms of the old Terry and June single beds, separated by a yard of carpet and never the twain shall meet. But in terms of separate duvets with different TOG and maybe two nice and wide single beds.

Find me on Twitter @1966colinblog

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How to Tame Twitter (other social media things are available)

I love Twitter. Or let me put it another way I hate Twitter! I never wanted to join it, never wanted to compress what I wanted to say down to 140 characters (or whatever the number is). I hated the “culture” of posting each time you had a sandwich, a sneeze, a bottom burp. I had better things to do with my time than to write a daily diary/blog/journal but in small sound bites. 

Unfortunately my last job required everyone to be connected. Able to reach and extend the reach of our partners and key stakeholders. Able to react to news and “stuff” quickly and efficiently. It actually appeared in our operational plan as having a certain reach, so many likes, follows and impressions. So the organisation paid workers to stay up during Olympics and World Cups to tweet the news as soon as it happened, To be the first to hit the “newsstand”, the fastest and most uptodate and informed partner you could want.

And I just could not get my head round it. Still can’t. Some partners fill your timeline at 9am, tweet after tweet after tweet, or around lunchtime or indeed 5 minutes to 5pm. Others are “retweet this to win a stuffed toy/bag of marbles/a chance to own a gold plated drinks coaster”. Then there are sponsored tweets that appear from people I have never followed, have no intention of following or buying anything from. There are other people who mix business with pleasure. So their 10am tweet is “in meeting with XYZ – the future of our industry” whilst their 10pm tweet is “Gazza get your arse down to X Club we f****** have pulled” with a suitable photo of 3 inebriated chaps, empty beer glasses on head and shirts ripped open to the waist. 

The more people I followed the more I either had to sit on it 24/7, scared to miss the important message amongst the haystack or look at it, glaze over and then post a couple of retweets, write a tweet about how glad I was to meet Jo and then not go near it for a few days. It became a giant thing that you were on, people followed you, got bored and muted you or unfollowed (by the way how sad do you have to be to keep checking who is following you or has given up and gone elsewhere?), you tweeted something, retweet, repeat. It wasn’t a tool anymore it was just something you did. And every so often you’d get a film of a cat – oh the reward.

What has really got me down recently has been football followers and politics. Who knew so many people I followed were complete numptys. Firstly the football fan who thinks he (invariably a he) knows the game inside out, has insider knowledge and doesn’t care that others will have opinions. No he is right and how dare you state otherwise – even if you start the thread it is his right to call you all sorts of things and offer you out! Second we have the person you follow who turns out to be far right/left in their politics and woe betide anyone who is slightly left or right of that. Comics, work colleagues, fashion pundits, sports coach, a family member – all come out fighting with a strength of conviction that makes you wish Twitter was still all about what people had for lunch!

And just recently with the world in the state it finds itself my timeline was about stuff I would walk away from in any other setting. Pub – move away from the bore. Work – oh is that my phone, must dash. Out and about – move to a different shop/cafe/table.

A chance conversation with the wife (after all my woodworking who knew I still had one?) and she mentioned LISTS. And that’s it, I am now the worlds leading bore on lists! But it’s all a bit fluffy on the technical bit. Somewhere under your own profile you can create a list. In that list place twitter members. Create as many lists as you like (although I bet there’s a limit I will never reach). Now when I go onto Twitter I never go to timeline or profile but just work through the lists. It only shows what those people who are members of the list have tweeted. Simples! No sponsors, no bores, no people you followed ages ago but don’t want to unfollow – you know they’re the ones checking who stops following…. If someone gets a bit brutish or political or boring I just remove them from the list. So simple and effective. I like Twitter now and can read the news I want, see what my real friends are doing – nice sandwich Steve and interact with Twitter like never before.

And a second tip – never read the comments people put below that celeb who says England will win the World Cup – therein lies the path of mental anguish and a brain ache at the state and future of humanity.

Stay safe out there folks!

Follow me on Twitter:- @colinbennett14 or @westhamcoach or @1966colinblog – told you I love it!

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The Cold Frame

It’s been a month since I last posted…blogged…and the good news is that I started a new job! So I’ve been extremely busy settling into that and getting to know everyone and most importantly where the tea things are stored. But more of that in a future blog, for now I thought I’d let you know about my latest project – the Cold Frame! Cue appropriate tension building music.

I had some of the pallet wood left over from a previous project – the Sawhorses, three glazed kitchen cupboard doors (two large, one narrow) from a neighbour’s kitchen refit and some soft wood from a neighbour down the road. So again as low cost as possible to make an item that we “need” or will find very useful. 

I was basically building a box without a base and with a sloping top. The two larger glazed doors would make the back and the sloping top, the narrower one would make the front – thus giving a slope because of their difference in width (height in this scenario) The soft wood was to be the wood which attached sides to the front and back and the pallet wood was the sides. I had two old hinges from something else and I had some of the kitchen door handles – to be used for the lid opening and then two for carrying handles on the sides.
All in all an “easy” build if you have a bit of DIY knowledge – it was all about screwing things together in the right order – softwood to front and back; back to top with hinges; add sides panel by panel until you got as high as the sloping top; cut some of the panels to match the sloping top; add lid handle; add side handles. And hey presto a Cold Frame:

I have no idea how long it will last in the outside elements, I have no idea whether it will create the micro climate a cold frame usually does and I have no idea if the better half will ever let me build up my collection of wood off cuts ever again!!

Stay safe out there!

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Charity Shop – The Radio

If you saw one of my previous blogs – Charity Shop – The Trivet – you will know I like a charity shop. A little while ago I spotted a small radioImage 2 in our local Sue Ryder charity shop.

It was a Sony, FM/AM, ICF-S1MK2 which you can see in the lovely photo. An older FM/AM (medium wave) radio from Sony but at £4-50 this was a great purchase. Image 1Very simple to use as it has an “On/Off/Volume” dial, a tuning dial, a FM/AM selector switch and that’s it in terms of controls. There is an aerial, a standard earphone socket and a window with a “stick” that as you turn the tuner dial it moves along printed frequencies showing where you are on the frequency spectrum. There’s a red light that comes on when the signal is strong (something that would be handy in Star Wars -“The Force is strong in that one!”) and a wrist loop so you’re less inclined to drop it. NB – If any of that is “technically” wrong, please send corrections to someone who is bothered!

You have nothing more technical to do than to select FM or AM, turn it on, fiddle withImage 3 the tuning dial until you get the radio frequency you want (maybe move the aerial around until the little red light glows), set the volume and listen. It really does do what it says on the box…although this didn’t come with a box but you know what I mean.

I use it when I’m working in the home office, out in the garden making stuff, having a bath or I just want radio and don’t want to access it through my phone – that’s a phone….

So win/win – I get a cool (hey I was born a long time ago) gadget and the charity gets some cash.

You can also catch me on Twitter: @1966colinblog

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The Redundant Male

I have just recently been made redundant. An awful time not of my choosing but here I am out of work. The caveman within is devastated! How can I put food on the table or money in the account or even be a “man” – whatever that means before people start complaining. I don’t know myself what being a “man” in the modern world is anymore, but that’s a blog for a different day and when I’m in a different place.

I’ve taken to making things out of old wooden pallets or alternatively baking cakes. They are my merge offerings to the family to show I am not scrapheap material but an integral part of the world. I have tried for several jobs since my end date but I haven’t even been selected for interview. These jobs I can do on my head, with my weaker hand and whilst reciting Shakespeare as easy as the next dummy – but I haven’t even been shortlisted for interview! The lady at the career management advice do-dah says it’s because my CV is rubbish (I paraphrase but you get the idea) and I don’t blow my own trumpet enough. Blimey if I could play trumpet I might have another string to my bow, or is that archery!

But hey unemployment is at its lowest since the last time anyone bothered to check and as HR told me “we often find that people made redundant go on to better things”. What if I’m the exception to the rule? What if I don’t go on to better things? What if my world becomes making things out of wooden pallets….

So, I hear you all ask, what are these things made from wooden pallets! First I made a sawhorse as it’s hard to saw wood without a sawhorse – below.

One Sawhorse

Then you have to make a second:

Two Sawhorses

And if that’s not enough you then realise you can make a workbench – just got to find somewhere to store it all now….


Now I’ve got to decide whether I am blogging about up-cycling or redundancy over the next few months. Or whether I’m better off combining them – The Redundant Woodworker has a certain ring to it.

Stay safe out there!

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The Tea Ritual

It was a camping trip around two years ago that changed how I took my tea. One of our cooking utensils is a camping kettle which you fill through the spout and has a whistle that lets you know when the water is ready. As our camping trips use gas for all cooking and boiling of water it’s an old fashioned kettle – no electric! So on the trip I’d put the kettle on, pop a tea bag in the mug and then take a seat and wait for the shrill noise to alert me. During the time of waiting I’d enjoy the view, breathe in the clear air or do a puzzle book or read and generally have some mindfulness time. Spotting various butterflies, birds and bees tripping past. Bliss.

On our return it was back to that quick boil of the electric kettle, throw a tea bag in, chuck the water in, stir and squeeze the bag, grab the milk, remove the bag, add milk…..done phew! And I realised that I was no longer taking the time to “smell the roses”. It was “wham, bam, thank you ma’am” tea.

It was adding to my “bad” health, my general feelings of always being on fast forward, always switched on.

I made a change that has affected a lot of things in my life – I decided to return to an older more relaxed time, a time when tea was savoured. Taking tea was a ritual to be cherished. I went out and bought a whistling kettle that was heated on the hob – Asda if you’re interested – and I’ve not looked back. I now put the kettle on and have time to potter. I can sit and watch the wildlife in the garden, read, write, tidy up some of the bits and pieces that get left when you’re running a household of teenagers! It’s amazing where they leave things around the house – but that’s a blog for another day.

Don’t get me wrong I still use teabags but it’s that slowing of the “rush” of life. It’s similar to when you see a film where the main character is going at normal speed but they have sped everything else up around them. The mayhem of modern life in my tea world is reduced to 0.5 or less normal speed. Bliss.


And I have also returned to the tea ritual of a pot of loose leaf tea. The tea caddy, the tea pot, the tea cosy (always worn on your head after the tea is brewed). Making tea stops the world and I don’t even have to concentrate on mindfulness – I’m in it. Brain in neutral gear, pause button fully depressed and a feeling of time suspended.

And how has that changed other things in my life?

It has just lead to a better understanding of the speed I live my life. I look for the pause button or the slow speed buttons. Where some cameras and DVD players use a picture of a hare and a tortoise to depict fast forward or super-fast forward, I look for the tortoise in activities that can be done in a more relaxed and refined way. It allows my head not to get overwhelmed, not to feel guilty. I’m doing the task and doing it properly but not juggling three other tasks or rushing this one to get to the next one. It’s about smelling the roses in life – we are but here once and it’s those quieter, slower memories that will give us the most bang for our bucks! If someone asks what you’ve done in the last year, you never talk about your work projects but rather your time with family and friends or holidays or weekends. So make the most of that time and saviour the tea ritual.

You can also catch me on Twitter: @1966colinblog

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Charity Shop – The Trivet

We all know what a trivet is, don’t we? In its basic form it’s something that will be resistant to heat and save your nice worktops from being scorched by your cooking pots, pans and kettles. So there’s nothing ingenious or technological about the trivet. It is just a shape of material that takes the heat from things that have been sat on or in the oven.

So there I was in The St Luke’s Hospice (St Luke’s Hospice) charity shop and I saw the trivet in the photo.


Simple design, made of wood and rope and a good size for any pan including ovenware. The clincher was the price tag. Seventy-five pence. That’s right not even a pound. So home it came and now sits on the side quietly doing its job. No batteries, no plug, no recharging – just goes about its business with efficiency. As this photo demonstrates it working – splendid.


Footnote:- I love a charity shop. I can give to charity whilst buying items that I need/like but maybe can’t afford at their full cost. The absolute definition of “win-win”


You can also catch me on Twitter: @1966colinblog

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Talking Dutch

We love holidaying in Holland or The Netherlands (Nederlands) if you wish, and there are certain things that really stand out for me. The culture of the bike, the flatness, cafe life, small towns and villages interlinked by long straight roads, and much more beside. Of course I recognize the difference between a two week holiday compared to living somewhere year to year. I would notice the graffiti a lot more – and it’s everywhere – the taxes and cost of living, having to pay the bills. Is unemployment high, does medical care cost, are the schools any good, foreign policy, homeland policy, the far right, the far left. The realities of living somewhere is all too often dependent on your own personal time in life.
So what am I going to write about?
On our last trip we rode our bikes to the nearest town from our campsite. Twenty minutes on the flat and on a purpose built, probably been there for years, cycle path. The road is separate from the cycle path which is only on one side and so you have powered vehicles operating both ways in their dedicated lane and then human powered vehicles (apart from the odd scooter) working both directions in their dedicated lane. Safe and relaxing. It was one of those nice long straight roads and so you can just pedal at the speed you wish, not having to chop and change gears, get out of the saddle, head down type riding you have to do in the UK. Also the Dutch bike is a “sit up and beg” style so very comfortable and everyone rides that style. I would guess some people pass them down through the generations as they never change.
So we rode and we talked! And this is the thing that has stuck with me. In today’s 100 mile an hour world, this was like setting the world on slow mo. We could ride two or three abreast and we could talk. We weren’t hunched over our handlebars, we weren’t continually having to go up gradients and down again. We just rode, in a straight line, sitting in an upright position and next to each other. We couldn’t use our smart phones and get immersed in those. We didn’t have to worry about lorries, vans or any vehicle getting too close to the cycle path we have in the UK – the painted line separating traffic types – I don’t know about you but I don’t think painted lines have ever been successful at holding back anything!

And it got me to thinking – dangerous I know, but hey sometimes it makes sense in my head – are Dutch people better at talking and having conversations within their families, parent to parent, parent to child, sibling to sibling. Do they understanding each other better, is there less angst and friction as they are able to really unpick some of the family stuff that besets us all? Do they have better relationships long term with their children? Do the kids “get” the parents? Does “technology” and the modern way we are all connected all the time not affect (this is a matter of opinion and is my view rather than any scientific research) the Dutch family in the way I think it affects my family.
Or in my mind is Holland still in the 1930s and actually now they drive everywhere and sit in silence listening to the music or their kids arguing in the back of the car. Do I think all the low land countries live in black and white, on cobbled streets and a simple life bereft of the modern ills?
I’d love if anyone who reads this and knows of the Holland way of life or someone has family and friends there and they could shed some light on my (based in my head) theory. Is it just in those areas away from the bigger towns and cities, do families interact better? Or is it generally all over? Can my “Escape to the Country” become “Escape to another Country”?


You can also catch me on Twitter: @1966colinblog

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Morse discovery


So a recent visit to a charity shop – in fact a new tradition/habit where every Saturday I drop my daughter at gymnastics and head into the local shopping centre. There are three charity shops of varying “quality” and I love to potter round, checking out the vinyl (another renewed passion that will appear in a future blog), books and some of the gadgets. Anyway where was I?

So a recent visit to a charity shop and I picked up the complete set of “Inspector Morse Mystery’s” in a lovely box set for a mere £5-00. That’s thirteen books and a box to keep them in for £0-38 each. Incredible value.

A confession. I have never seen any of the TV episodes that starred John Thaw and Kevin Wheatley and so have no preconceived idea of how Morse should act or respond at any particular incident or during the investigation. And now I’ve read the first book I don’t see Thaw as Morse. So when I’ve finished them all I’m going to have to find the programmes and see whether he did play him differently. More visits to the charity shop.

The first book is “Last Bus to Woodstock” and without giving you any spoilers, it’s about a murder near Oxford which Morse and Lewis investigate. Well Morse is a police detective so no surprises there! The immediate thing that struck me was the language and I must say it took me a while to get accustomed to it. But there was something else as it was like reading about my childhood, my upbringing. With a mention of “lighting up time”, lots of letter writing, no mobile phones and actually not every house has a house phone. And get this, no computers. A world of typewriters and handwritten statements. It all becomes clear when you check the year that Colin Dexter wrote this first Morse novel.

1975 – before a lot of you were born!

However taking it as a murder mystery of its time it is really good. No quick fix DNA result from the lab, it’s all based on good general detective work plus a bit of “gut” thrown on. Having never seen a minute of one of the programmes I’ve been able to imagine Morse and Lewis as I want and I bet they’re different to how the actors portrayed them.

What has also occurred to me is that the books go from 1975 to 1999 so I’m going to be going on a journey with Morse and Lewis through computers, mobile phones, emails and DNA – so really fascinated to see how that pans out and how it changes the way they work. Will Morse “get it” – technology or will he always turn to his trusty sergeant?

Also I want to watch the series now. First TV one was 1987- so did they base it in 1975 or was it tweaked to the year it was filmed in? Twelve years later. Intrigued.

As for the books, I’m already onto book three and so will have to catch you up with them in future blogs.

For now Morse is a slip back to an age gone by, my childhood but so, so different from the world we inhabit now. I wonder if we have seen such a leap in the human race since the industrial revolution? And what could be the next one?

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