South England

Since I was able to come to the UK, mum, dad and Anita all took a week off, so that we could go away, and have a nice family holiday. They planned a week away in a town called Torbay, which is on the coast, in Devon.


The Torbay area, is know as the English Rivera. It is very definitely a sailing town, and is rather quaint. We explored the harbour, walked along the pier, and did the fish and chips thing :), which is a must in places like this. There was also a market there on Sunday, which added to the festivity of the place.

Torbay from the upstairs balcony

Apart from taking it easy on some of the days, we also ventured out a bit. On our way there, we visited Stonehenge. Spent a day travelling to Cornwall to see the Eden Project. We also saw a couple castles; Dartmouth castle and Berry Pomeroy castle.


Yay, Stonehenge is one of those places that I’ve always wanted to see. People tell you that its origins are a mystery, and this seemed to further make me want to visit it. I had the feeling that if I went there, I’d figure out why it was there. Nope, it’s still a mystery. They had a nice audio guide which really made the visit that much more interesting, as you were explained the history and everything that they have managed to piece together about it so far. Audio guides rock!!


Eden Project

The Eden Project, in Cornwall, is an impressive display of biodiversity, and has plants from dry – arid regions to humid tropical regions, and focuses on plants which are important to human society, and sustainability. The entire display was great. There were loads of interesting things to learn. From English folk lore about what certain plants can do for you to how plants are used as crops, or for potential future wide scale uses (eg. Hemp).

What was really awesome was that the tropical section had so many plants that we used to grow in Triangle. It was a nice walk down memory lane.

The Eden Project

Dartmouth castle

This was one of the three castles that English Heritage manage. We decided to see it since it was closeish. This castle was a bit disappointing in that it was only built for a military purpose. It was used to defend the river mouth from attack during the various wars that England have been involved in. What was rather amazing tho, was that one of the things that the castle did for defense was hoist a cable across the mouth of the river to trap boats entering. They would then attack them with the cannons. Ingenious.

Dartmouth – the mouth of the river Dart

Berry Pomeroy castle

Definitely the best site that we saw. This is a castle that was originally built by the Pomeroy family, and then sold to the Seymours. Very little of the original castle remains, because it was mostly rebuilt, and further extended by the Seymours. It was destroyed in the late 1700’s by a fire, and never rebuilt. What I really enjoyed about this visit was the architecture, and how grand and luxurious this place must have been. Oh, it is also reputedly the most haunted castle in Britain.

Anita at the Berry Pomeroy castle


Holiday in the UK

As mentioned previously, I have taken three to four weeks off in lieu of not having a proper break since I went to the Orange river. Also, I haven’t seen my family since January. I managed to finish a first draft of my proposal, and got to my supervisors about 2 hours before I left for the airport. Am very happy with it so far, and am trying not to think about the changes that I may have to make when I get back.

Of airports and stuff

I flew Lufthansa, and had a very good flight. The only problem with the trip was that I went via Frankfurt. Now Frankfurt is a good airport, however, since the London bombings, it seems as though all flights to the UK have to go through more security procedures. As a result, I decided to go to my gate as planned, about an hour before the flight left. I entered the gate, and went through the security check, and sat down, and continued reading my book. I then heard over the loud speaker that due to the delay in the previous flight, our flight was departing from a different gate. So after managing to find the new gate, I found a sea of people clamouring to get through the security. Now, this was about 45 mins before the boarding time.

What they did not take into consideration with this gate change, is that they also had to screen everyone else again for the other flights leaving from the adjacent gates. After about an hour standing in line, I finally made it through. This was even after the security people, after looking at my ticket said that I will miss my flight. I found comments like these very unprofessional, and they further agitated people in the queues. They also only opened a single security station, whilst there were enough security people hanging around to man two security stations. The plane left slightly delayed, and landed early. The muppets of this post: Frankfurt Airport Security.


The Zen and Art of Tumble Dryer Maintenance

Our tumble dryer started making a horrendous squeaking and banging noise a couple of weeks back. This bothered Lydia enough to stop it from drying my clothes mid-cycle. Now, this bothered me enough to open the back of it up and look inside.

At a first glance, it was clear that the bearing had decided to cease to exist. There were a couple of balls hanging around, but mostly many pieces metal shavings. This was rather worrying. I stripped the mechanism, and saw this:

Is that hole meant to be square?

It was clear that the bearing needed replacing. So, since this tumble dryer is a Defy, I phoned the Defy service center. Once I explained the problem to a technician, and asked for a part number, and the replacement cost, he asked me for the model number. I gave it to him. He asked me if the hole at the back of the washing machine was round or square. I said round. Wrong answer. Apparently it’s meant to be square. WTF?. Since when is a hole through which an axel that sits on a bearing square? His response was that the drum will need to be replaced (Cost: R350).

New bearing and old bearing pieces

Well, I disagreed. I decided to go find the bearing myself. Phoned around. One place wanted a part number, and couldn’t work with bearing dimensions. They told me to come in and then they would see if they had something that would work for me. Since it was the closest place, I decided to do that. Turned out that they didn’t have anything in nearly the correct size. So I decided to phone around. I started at SKF. They asked for dimensions. Yay. They had one in stock. Unfortunately they were in Bellville. Anyways, it was worth the drive. On close inspection, the bearing that they replaced it with looked like an exact replacement for the worn one (Cost: R22).

As good as new

Well, I replaced it and the tumble dryer works, as good as new. Actually, it’s a much softer thumping noise. Once again, please people, get a frikkin clue. I really don’t like dealing with muppets that waste my time. The least that Defy could have done was either sell me a replacement bearing, or, if not, give me a part number, and tell me where I could get a replacement.


Movies this weekend

The rugby

Saturday started out bright and early. I went through to Chris’s house, as he has M-Net. Watched the rugby. Enjoyed the rugby. Okay, we lost, but damn… We played well. So did New Zealand. Oh well… As much as it pains me, I guess I’ll be supporting Australia this coming weekend.

Flight of the Phoenix

After the rugby, drowned our sorrows. Well, actually we didn’t. It was still morning. Morning is a bad time of the day to drown sorrows. Instead, we watched a movie – Flight of the Phoenix.


I found this a very wierd movie. It was okay, but I can see why Chris fell asleep watching it the night before. I really couldn’t place some of the characters. Whilst Elliot was a key character, I thought that his outlook on life was rather unrealistic. Especially when you find out what his actual job is. They also didn’t really show how tough it would be stranded in a desert. I’m really glad I didn’t pay to see this on the big screen.

The Island

When I got home after the rugby and the Flight of the Phoenix, I got a call from Colette. As I was a bit dissapointed about the previous movie, we decided to go to movies to watch The Island.


The Island was remarkably better than the previous movie. At least the characters convinced me of their plight. The movie overall looked at some interesting ethical issues with regards cloning etc… We as a society really do need to look at these things, and movies like this, whilst sensationalising certain issues, definitely do bring certain aspects to light. I enjoyed this movie. Whilst mindless to an extent, it was done well, and brought to light another perspective of cloning ethics.


In the evening, we watched another movie, Collateral.


I have seen this movie before, however it was on a plane. Kinda knew the story line. Ended up falling asleep during it tho. Maybe I watched too many movies in the day. All I remember about it is that I needed to wake up and start the movie again, because the rental DVD was scratched :(.

Phew…. It was a heavy day as far as TV/Movies go. Man, life is tough. In amongst all of this, I did manage to do some work on an OSS project I’m starting tho. The project is a bit of a 53(r37. More about that later when it’s ready to be talked about :).