A bit of acoustic Skunk Anansie to get you through your Thursday afternoon.

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I’d love to have shared my favourite one from this album Because of You, but there’s no video available for that one, so this, almost equally pretty song is what you get.

Memories of THAT NIGHT at Rocking the Daisies have come flooding back.

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Cast In Steel

Told you.
One more brand new album. One more world tour.

It’s out on 4th September this year. *begins trembling with mounting anticipation*

The return came about in a simple, organic way, as Paul explains: “it started off very easy and low-key with Morten dropping by my studio at various occasions, and I would show him songs that I was working on. He would sing on the songs he felt a connection with and leave the ones that didn’t and it just went like that until we had done 10 or 12 songs.”

The lack of pressure and deadlines was definitely a bonus, and reminded Paul of when the band first started out: “The beauty of it was that we could do this totally under the radar; there were no deals in place, no contracts, tours planned or deadlines looming … just our shadow endeavours. It was back to exactly how we started in my parents cabin way back when in the 80s. Some instruments, a song, a voice.”

Morten makes it clear that “we are not getting back to stay together. We’ve agreed to come back for a set period: one album, one tour. It’s a great opportunity and allows us to write another chapter.”

I need to be there for this one. I need to make a plan after last time.

Link to press release to follow Here’s a copy of it – the website appears to be struggling with high demand right now.

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There are three German warships off the coast of Struisbaai

I’m not saying that it’s necessarily anything to worry about.
(UPDATE: Or is there?)
I’m just saying that they’re there.


The Hessen, The Berlin and The Karlsruhe are probably just hanging around out there about 20 nautical miles offshore and enjoying the late summer calamari season. My sources tell me that squid is a very popular dish in Germany. Right?

The Berlin is essentially a supply ship, a support vessel for other German Navy ships.

Built in 1984, the Karlsruhe is a Bremen-class frigate. It’s got guns.

The Hessen is a more modern (2006) Sachsen-class frigate.

It’s got LOTS of guns:

These ships are optimized for the anti-air warfare role. The primary anti-air weapons are the 32-cell Mk 41 Mod 10 vertical launching system, equipped with twenty-four SM-2 Block IIIA missiles and thirty-two Evolved Sea Sparrowmissiles. Point-defense against cruise missiles is provided by a pair of 21-round Rolling Airframe Missile launchers. The ships are also equipped with two four-cell RGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missile launchers.

For defense against submarines, the frigates carry two triple-launchers for the 324 mm (12.8 in) MU90 Impact torpedoes. The ships also carry a variety of guns, including one dual-purpose 62-caliber 76-millimeter (3.0 in) gun manufactured by OTO Melara.
They are also armed with two Rheinmetall 27 mm (1.1 in) MLG 27 remote-controlled autocannons in single mounts.

Oh yeah?
Well, I’ve got a catty that I picked up at the robots in Somerset West (although I’m not ever so accurate with it) and I also have a beagle, albeit that it’s a beagle that generally gets quite scared when confronted with anything bigger than a seagull. (c.f. the Hessen at a length of 143m and a displacement of 5,800 tonnes.)

Having compared the respective weaponry at our disposal (and despite having noted with some glee that they have no specific anti-beagle measures available to them), I think that the German warships can stay right where they are if they like, or they can can even come and take over Struisbaai if that’s what they want to do.

I, for one, welcome our new Teutonic overlords.

Confirmed positions this afternoon: here, here & here.

UPDATE: Obviously they’re here using the convenient old “bilateral exercise” story:

The aim of the bilateral exercise is to facilitate the sharing of maritime expertise and to strengthen the military cooperation between the two countries.

Sadly, given the distinct lack of any SA Navy vessels in the vicinity, I have a sinking feeling (pun intended) that the strengthening of military cooperation may have been a bit of a one way street.

21 Comments | Tagged , , | Posted in cape agulhas, in the news, learning curve, that's a bit mad, this is south africa


Because a Happy Cow is well… a… Happy Cow.


And yes, it’s a real thing, setting you back $2,700 plus P&P:

“Cows really like the powered rotating motion of the brush,” says Lonnie Boltjes, distributor of the new “Happy Cow” brush which starts and stops automatically.
Made in Germany, the “Happy Cow” is a coarse-bristle nylon brush in the shape of two cones mounted point to point on a shaft powered by an electric motor. The brush starts up automatically when a cow bumps up against it. The motor runs for about 60 seconds and shuts off unless the cow bumps it again. If the cow’s neck chain or strap accidentally gets caught and starts to wrap, the brush automatically stops and reverses itself.
The brush is made in short sections, with the longest bristles toward the outside. As the brush wears down, you can pull off the inner sections and move worn outer sections toward the center, putting new full-size brushes on the outer ends.
“We visited a 59-cow dairy herd in Germany where the machine was being tested,” says Boltjes. “They put a timer on the unit to see how much it was being used. Within a 24-hour period the machine ran for a total of 16 hours.”

Totes getting (a smaller) one of these for the beagle.

* and yes, I am very aware that the happy cow in the video above is not actually a cow at all. thanks.

2 Comments | Tagged , , | Posted in project colin, that's a bit mad


An abandoned factory in Sheffield apparently makes for an interesting photo subject. I know this because I saw karl101’s photo album on flickr and then I looked around some more and found some more photos here and here.


I’ve lived the  Urbex life both vicariously and fairly regularly on this blog through people like silentUK and, and that’s been fun, but there’s obviously additional local interest for me in this one.

The company was founded by John Dyson who began mining clay and making bricks in the early 1800s. From the very beginning the business was a success. The 1834 Sheffield trade directory lists “John Dyson – Brick Maker, Stannington” which indicates that he ran the business on his own. However, by 1838 the business was listed as “John Dyson and Son – Black clay miners and firebrick manufacturers, Griffs House, Stannington”.

Dyson’s were manufacturers of refractory material, ceramics for the steel industry – basically making the tiles which lined the inside of the furnaces and ladles used in steelmaking – they also produced fire backs and other household ceramic bricks for the likes of Agas, fires etc.

As with all industry these days, however, China does it more cheaply. But rather than going under like so many other British businesses have, Dyson reacted to this by building a plant in Tianjin in China. They still supply “technical ceramics and thermal technologies” to those people and industries who need technical ceramics and thermal technologies.
I guess 2015 China is a far cry from even the 1970s in Sheffield, though:

I worked at Dyson in 1970. When I was there we mostly made teeming refractories for steel making. They lined the blast furnaces, ladles and moulds. The pipes for “uphill” teeming were stamped out in wet clay (mined from the local Ughill quarries) in drop stamp moulds. Every so often, someone would be a bit slow taking his hands out of the way of the stamp and would lose the end of his fingers. Almost everyone in the factory was missing bits of fingers, crushed by the stamper.



Given the number of photo albums and sites devoted to it, I guess that the Dyson Ceramics factory in Sheffield must be the most accessible derelict factory in the world. What’s interesting to me is the respect with which it appears to be treated by the explorers and photographers. Easily mobile items (like the bottles and stamping kit above) appear in photos from both 2010 and 2014 – people are going in there to take photographs, not souvenirs.

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