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Steve Hooker's Radio: kids, war, blogs, gadgets: A Welsh man in the wrong country, going home

Independent web developer. Graphic designer, web designer, Frontier developer, Manila hoster, latest project: intranet build for Government Office of West Midlands (UK), committed blogger since 1999.
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30 November 2004   


Bradley's friends' parties

Bradley's been invited to some parties at last. Our fault for not inviting his school chums to his parties before, now he's getting reciprocal invites.

William's party: I took just Bradley, Esme was at her Auntie's. Then the following weekend, Naomi, to which I took Esme as well. She didn't think much of it since they were all 4 year olds and she's 6. Not only that but Brad wanted to play with his friends not his big sister.

brad at williams party

First was William's

bradley on ride at naomi party

Then Naomi's

brad on pirate ride with naomi

brad on ride peek-a-boo

brad and esme on ride at naomi party

Esme gets in on the action too

more on pirate ride

everybody on ride


2009 Also posted to: personal . At: 2:46:36 PM  . .
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Santa comes to Telford

Last Thursday, Santa came to Telford. We went the year before, then they had the RugRats, which my kids didn't like, they were too scary. This year according to the leaflet, it was to be The Simpsons. Alas, no Simpsons.

And after waiting 20 minutes in increasing delight, Santa almost ran past us! Never mind, plenty of other things to entertain.

awaiting santa in telford shopping centre

The tension and excitement is huge, HUGE! We've been waiting weeks for this!

bradley spots him

Down there somewhere says Bradley

santa melee


snow man dashes past

Snow man whizzes past, followed by Santa before my camera had chance to re-ready itself.


2008 Also posted to: personal . At: 2:27:07 PM  . .
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Bridgnorth and the trains

Another Sunday adventure. Lumbered with the kids while Amanda is at work, I decide to take them to Bridgnorth, about 18 miles south of us.

They have the Severn Valley Railway (more pix here), an excellent place to look around, even the high town is interesting for them and me.

We arrive at the foot of the cliff railway, a 200 feet train ride up the cliff face, but we're too early so settle for cream teas in a nearby cafe. Nice cup of tea for Dad and diet coke for them, and we all tuck into scones, jam and cream. Mmmmm.

The kids cannot believe the cliff railway, staring at the very steep rail line infront of the cab, and looking out of the rear window as we ascend. An amazing trip.

Then, at the top is a long walk around the High Town, with amazing views. Not to forget the long bridge over to the station. We spend an hour here, looking at the trains, even Thomas The Tank is here, without his face (he's having a clean, we are told).

But better, much better, we spy a black train with the name of Bradley Manor. This trills Brad to the core, he dashes over the bridge to tell people on the other side, obviously telling everybody on the way across.

We kill half an hour wating for the train in the pub on the platform, nice beer, and a big selection of bitters too! I could have stayed much longer. Esme and Bradley would have stayed till the great dane left, as it was we had to walk past it to get out. Esme took some photos of the beast, and couldn't take her eyes off it all the time we were inside.

We catch our train and wander up and down the compartments. We even saw elephants on the journey, as we went past the safari park. We break the journey to Kiddermister in Bewdley, and take an hour's wander, with a portion of chips.

Once we get to Kiddy, we have another mini train ride, and a rush to catch the last train to Bridgnorth. Two knackered kids lie on my lap was we trundle slowly through the night on the 18 mile trip. Another walk across the high bridge when we get to Bridgnorth, a walk around the High town and use our return tickets for the ride down the cliff face to the car.

On the car drive home we count the train we've been on. One up the cliff, one from Bridgnorth to Bewdley, Bewdley to Kidderminster, one mini train in Kiddy, Kidderminster to Bridgenorth. One more down the cliff. 6 in all.

Soon we're home, to tell Mummy all about it. Pity they're too tired to tell the whole story.


bridgenorth cliff face train

Wow! And, amazing! Two word repeated over and over by Esme

bridgenorth cliff face view

Looking out from the High Town in Bridgnorth, across the River Severn

steam train view from bridgenorth high town

There's a bridge across, somewhere.

bradley manor train

A train called Bradley Manor!

it is a big dog esme

In the pub at the station

the big dog in the bridgenorth station pub

Big great Dane, blocking the way out.

travelling in comfort on the severn railway

Their collection of carriages include some wacky furniture layouts.

do not eat all the chips bradley

Chips by the River Severn in Bewdley

church at bewdley

The church at Bewdley

street in bewdley

One of the old streets in Bewdley

old steam train in bewdley

On the platform in Bewdley


2007 Also posted to: personal . At: 1:48:59 PM  . .
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I thought I'd give this a go. Just a test to see if people, real people would buy a blog.

They did!

Unfortunately, the show was extremely quiet, a flurry of snow, perhaps put some off. The afternoon session was dead.

Still I managed to sell some sites there and then, with PayPal doing the business for me and sending out emails to me at the show telling me another had bought a blog. Most excellent. Now to take the idea further.

exhibition stand for shropBlogs


2006 Also posted to: cybersaps . At: 1:44:56 PM  . .
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Bradley's sit down 4th party

Bradley's sit down party for his fourth birthday. What a bash. Before us, and the same time we were there, a girls party with much screaming and shouting, the noise was deafening! This, I guess added the the excitement.

We didn't see them much, as they disappeared in to the play area, diving into the ball pools, sliding down the slide...

And I had to dash off just before the end for a meeting.

brad unwraps pressies fast 1

brad unwraps pressies fast 2

brad unwraps pressies fast 3

brad unwraps pressies fast 4 with friend

auntie alison, francis, and harriot

Auntie Alison, Francis and Harriot

bradley is king for the day

alex larks about at sit down

king for a day close up


2005 Also posted to: personal . At: 1:28:29 PM  . .
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Roller skates in park

Catching up with my camera. Just a quick trip to Telford Town Park, primarily because Esme wants to wear her roller skates. This means we go very slow, and I'm always there to help her (or else ;-).
esme in park with roller skates

brad in sunshine in park


2004 Also posted to: personal . At: 1:26:16 PM  . .
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Manila: new callbacks and 5 years old

I was blogging, about 6 months before Manila came out. Didn't call it blogging then, called it a news page. We used Frontier's news page technology, with the shared menus on my Mac Classic, I could copy text from a web page in Netscape, hit a menu (still in Netscape) and a Frontier dialogue box would open (made with MacBird) with the URL and title of the page and the text in the clipboard already pasted. The system also went and added this news item to an email which was posted out to subscribers. Ah! It was a revelation. And so, so easy. We soon noticed our traffic growing. Alas, I never kept a copy of the site.

Happy birthday Manila. Can't believe it's five years.

And now, referer callbacks and comment callbacks to combat spam. I've been using a rough method that's been quite effective at fighting the porn referers: I'd see if the word 'sex' or 'adult' or other common porn words were in the domain name of the referer, and ban the IP. Mostly the same IP would try several times with different domain names. Obviously, it's a machine. So far, in nearly two months, I've collected just over 1,000 IPs.

Recently, though some had been getting through. Those referrals with unknown (to me) porn words, or even clean (non-porn) sites. So, I installed Thomas Creedon's referrerRemover. Which cleans up after the event. (I'll dig into this and add something so that anything banned with it goes into my ban list too.)

Luckily, I, nor any of the machines I monitor, have been targeted (yet) by the more insidious comment spam.

I do love Manila. Much easier for meatheads to use than the more complex and powerful Radio. I've just added some RPC-XML calls to my Thumbnailer plugin which now allows me to shoot a script at a folder of images and have them placed in a page, as thumbnails. Wicked. Though I wish I could write this script as a stand alone app, for my meatheads.


2002 Also posted to: cybersaps , serviceBF . At: 11:03:09 AM  . .
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Other title(s) for this story: Manila: new callbacks and 5 years old