Why is the moon so high?

Grandpa phoned me this evening to find out why the moon is so high. He has noticed that he can't see it out of the sitting room window any more. He had already phoned Simon (busy) and David "Haven't got the faintest". I gave him a hand waving answer. But promised to deliver before I saw him this Friday. Michael and Joseph had just left back for London, Marco was still here with his friend Guiseppe. The weekend was winding down. So I typed "why is the moon higher in the sky" into Google. The third article down was this. Apparently the maximal elevation of the moon goes in an 18.6 year cycle. Chances of Grandpa reading this: 10%. So I will have to give a full report on Friday evening. It includes things like this:

δ = 23.5 sin θ + 5 sin(θ + 180°) = 23.5 sin θ - 5 sin θ = 18.5 sin θ

I'm sure he's up for it. :-)
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10 Albert Place

Anyone want to move nearer home? You've just missed an opportunity as they've completed on the above - at a cool 8.75 million!
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Shaken not stirred

I have sometimes got into serious discussions with Germans about whether dry martinis should be shaken or stirred. They insist that DMs should be stirred not shaken. 1) It doesn't even sound right 2) It's a cocktail shaker, not a cocktail stirrer 3) I always shake my dry martinis 4) James Bond has his shaken not stirred. We always part after such a discussion dazed and confused. At last I have discovered the reason for their error. I met a German cocktail barman the other night and we got round to discussing dry martinis. He told me that, in the early James Bond films, they were dubbing 'shaken not stirred' (geschüttelt nicht gerührt in German) and they couldn't make it synch with 007's lips. They realized that gerührt nicht geschüttelt would fit much better and, they thought, it's not a huge difference whether you shake or stir the thing. Little did they know what enormous cultural significance a dry martini has. Ever since, the poor Germans have been pathetically stirring their dry martinis.
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ski-ing with the very old

January 2008

Every day has been different. Sun, snow, rain, off-piste, on-piste, and onpiste offpiste. Philippe provides us with everything!

Jim, Emma, Issie, Polly, Joshua and Rosie enlivened our first few days dramatically.  We loved it, they loved it. We breakfasted, lunched and dined together.  Joshua made an excellent wine waiter, but surprise, surprise, Jim never organised a race. I think that Rosie would have  beaten her grandmother. We had the luxury of guides for them, Flo the first day, and six month pregnant Stephanie the second. I admired Stephanie’s coat so much that Philippe offered to get me one in Albertville. It is excellent. Long, totally waterproof and smart. It is great to wear out in the pouring English rain . Now they are gone and we start at ten and are home by four, except when I carelessly left my bag in the restaurant 2 lifts away in Val Thorens. It was a cold day and Mike and I waited like the two old birds we are at the top of the three carriage Funitel Bouquetin in the lee of the operators cabin and fortunately in the sun.

We are getting masses of off-piste ski-ing, Mike is finding it easier, and I am benefitting from learning how to side slip properly. But goodness me, I come back in the evening totally worn out!

A new restaurant has opened in St Martin, not only does it serve very good food, but the owners have built it over their farm, so that you look down from the dining-room on to the cows, sheep and goats in their winter quarters. There are up-to-date milking machines and a dairy where cheese is made. The farmer was very friendly but I couldn’t understand all that he said.

One Sunday we had to wait for the lifts to open before we could ski down to St.Martin for Mass. But what a treat awaited us! New snow, freshly groomed pistes, and the mountain to ourselves. We were down in ten minutes and in heaps of time having been worried as we waited that we might be late.

One evening I tricked Mike into going down the top of the Mauduit without me ; it was as I expected, Philippe said they were faster without me.

Once while ski-ing off-piste Philippe did a somersault over a rock, and on another occasion he was demonstrating a turn to Mike who then performed the turn immaculately, and was below Philippe who then proceeded to demonstrate again for my benefit. He caught his ski on a stone and fell on top of Mike! For me it was the biggest laugh ever. It was all over so quickly there was no time to worry about injuries.

The weather was all over the place, and once we had a complete day of rest with wind and snow outdoors and warmth and bed indoors. Very welcome.
What a wonderful description of your hols. It is brilliant that you and Dad still have so much fun in the Alps. Keep going, you are an example to us all!
Posted by: Tom | February 13, 2008 at 09:23 AM

Tom's post

Mum and Dad were in Somerset yesterday to attend the funeral of Sue Petri. She died recently, aged 79. Sue was married to David Petri who was Dad's cousin and Dad had been David's best man. M & D had travelled here by train from Newbury where they had been staying with Cherry and Bill.

Arthur recently ran a 3500m race having been entered by his school with the chance to be selected for a Somerset running team. There were other children up to 21 months older than him. He finished 21st out of 45 and missed qualifying by two places. Next week he is off to France for a week, to stay with some French friends of ours during half term.

Edward was in a seven-a-side, inter-school rugby tournament last weekend. They got to the finals and at full time it was a draw. So they played sudden death and sadly lost that. He has also recently been awarded an academic scholarship in anticipation of his move to senior school in 2010.

Imogen is the fastest girl in her year. She took part in her year's cross-country race and finished third, behind a couple of very speedy boys. She has taken up the flute this term, in addition to the piano so it feels as though she has quite a lot on her plate.

Flora's first tooth fell out the other day. She does not need to compete in any races or serious sports yet. Sadly she dropped her tooth and it fell under the floorboards.

ski-ing with the very old

We had a great time but I feel all of my 78 years. Jim and family made us feel a bit younger, but I was surprised and disappointed that we didn't organise a race. I think Rosie would have beaten her grandmother. There was every sort of weather so every day was different including one when we stayed indoors all day for fog, rain and snow. We all fell, including Philippe who took Mike down with him. Fortunately no hurts so none of us could stop laughing.

january ski-ing @ 78

Dad and I had a great time. We went out every day bar one, when it was foggy and windy. The weather was different every day, which meant we had plenty of easy off piste, and practice sideslipping over ice, and we improved at both. But I ski slower and slower , and I was sorry Jim never organised a race because Rosie would have beaten me, which I hope would have pleased her.

Thailand travels

I've been off in Thailand for 3 weeks. You can still be a hippy even when you're over 50. In fact, you probably get more like a hippy the older you get. We'll be welcoming David to the club this year. I spent about 10 days in Bangkok, and the rest on a quiet little island called Ko Samet. Bangkok is very busy and pretty hot even in winter. Thats one of the main reasons I went of course, to top up my sun tan and get over those winter blues. I also go there to spend some time with my friends Jeremy and Sam. I first met Jeremy in London in 1994. Sam more recently. Jeremy retired from 9-5 life in his late 30s. I have always taken him as a role model. Sam is a very amusing relic from an imperial past. He
Sam and Jeremy
regards all foreigners, especially Germans, with suspicion, bur often overcomes this disadvantage and makes unusual friends. Here's a picture of them in Khao San Road. Khao San Road is a traveller's destination. It has hotels for about £5 a night and the people going in and out looked quite clean and satisifed. Sam (on the left) was making a reservation for a nephew who will be travelling out there in his gap year. Jeremy and I returned there one night. I ate a fried locust and we drank JD and cokes from buckets. It's a party street.

Ko Samet is a relatively unspoilt island, it’s a 2,000 Bhat taxi ride and 1,000 Bhat speed boat ride from Bangkok (1,000 Baht ~ £70). You can go by bus and ferry if you're alone or on a budget. The day we arrived I had forgotten about the mosquitoes. I sat drinking with Sam and guy called Dominic in the evening on the beach. My legs were bitten so badly that they felt like my mouth after a very hot curry.

We stay at Tubtim. The sandy beach is about 20-100m wide depending on time and tide. My cabin is a further 50m from the sea, among the trees. Tubtim has a restaurant / bar, shop, 50 tables on the beach for diners and about 50 1-6 person bungalows among the trees. The food is good and the staff are cheeky and charming. We sit around all day at our table under our tree eating, drinking, gossiping,
Ruth and Nat
with the occasional break for a swim, sun-bathing or walk. Sometimes we talk to other visitors. We met Thais, British, German, Norwegians, French, Belgians, Canadians and more. It is extremely relaxing. When we left I was quite sad.

Its a 10 hour flight out and a 13 hour flight back to Bangkok. Thats a long time. I did not suffer any jet lag mainly due to an excellent party at Ruth's on the Saturday I returned. She was late for it (not the first time!) but we managed to find shelter with her neighbour until she got home. Trevor, Nat boy and girl and others of their friends were there. It was great! Thanks Ruth.

Back in Berlin I have just about finished sorting out the post etc when I was struck down with flu, or something like it. Welcome back to Northern Europe! But at least its a democracy with a relateively free press. We hope. Having  spent a few delirious days in bed I think I'm back in action.