Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Open government.

A good friend of ours died earlier in the year. For various reasons we wanted to attend his inquest, so shortly after his death I phoned Cambridgeshire coroner's office. They told me that it would be a number of months before the inquest would be held, and that I should check their webpage frequently.


I did as requested, but there were problems. Sometimes the webpage would display inquest times and dates weeks in advance, with many separate inquests on the list. At others times it would display ones that had already happened, and only update a day or two before new ones were due. This meant that I was having to check the webpage more or less daily, a task aided by a little script I wrote to trawl the relevant page.

About a month ago I realised the webpage had not been updated for a while. I phoned up the coroner's office, who told me that our friend's inquest was due for the 30th of October.

I checked again today, and the webpage has still had not been updated. The inquest is to be in Wisbech, and to prevent Sencan taking a day off work for no reason, I wanted to make sure that it was still on.

Instead of checking on the webpage, I was forced to make another phone call.

It should be a simple task to ensure that a webpage is kept up to date with the latest information on when inquests are going to be held. Even better would be to allow people to lodge a request for information about when an inquest is due, and email them when a date is set.

This may sound like a whinge, and it is. However concern over missing the inquest has added a tiny bit more stress and annoyance at a very sad time for us.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

A marathon effort

About two and a half years ago, Sencan took up running as a hobby. There were several runners in her new company, and there were some good running routes around the village. Initially she trained for a local 10K run, and since then has done a number of 5K, 10K and half-marathons.

Sencan at two miles
She started off by barely being able to run, yet can now routinely run fifteen or more miles on a Saturday morning. Her transformation from a lady who believed she could not run, to a bona fide runner, has been interesting, inspiring, and at times amusing. There has been little blood (and most of that from Chris, her running partner), but rather a large amount of sweat and not a few tears. Some of these are from me as I cycle behind her, shouting encouragement and carefully-considered insults on her longer runs.

There has been a large learning curve - she has had to learn how to look after her feet, the correct clothes to wear, and how to get enough food and hydration during a long run. Training schedules off the Internet were combined with great advice from friends. Initially 5K felt like a long distance to her; then 10K became achievable. Over the last eighteen months half-marathons have become a norm, and earlier in the year she decided that it was time to step up to the big one.

On Sunday, she set off on the first marathon with Chris. I dropped her off at York University and walked to the cathedral to catch her two miles into her run. A few hours later, I was waiting to see her at the end. She completed the run in a little over five and a half hours, with enough energy to walk back to the hotel and go out for a meal in the evening.

I'm really proud of her. The only question is where she runs her next marathon - I doubt she'll wait a year for the next York event. Wherever it is, I'll be there waiting for her at the end ...

Sencan at the end of the marathon

Monday, 14 October 2013


Some superb bike skills by Danny MacAskill:

Absolutely incredible. And yes, he really did it.

More spectacular stunts can be seen on his website at: