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Chronicle for 2008

(last edited on 10th December 2008)

Urgent notice!!!

There is an error in the definition of the Mandelbrot set on my Christmas card.

The note in the card defines the set as containing those points for which the iteration converges to zero. It is actually the set of points for which the interation does not diverge to infinity. Congratulations to those readers who spotted that.

I've decided on a change of style for this year's chroncicle.

In April, under persuasion from Gerard, I started a blog, and most of the notable events of my year are recorded there. There is also relevant material on this site, which contains an account of my reading, and copies of stuff I've written in the course of the year. I've therefore decided to write just a short list of events, with links to places where more detail is available.

As usual, I've done quite a lot of reading this year, described on the books page of this site

The Leicester U3A,its web site and the Science and Technology Group, continue to keep me busy. In September I gave a talk to the Group on Chaos and Fractals .

I've continued to make day trips to London to meet Gerard. This year we made repeat visits to Hampton Cpourt and The Tower of London to make the most of our five palaces season ticket before it ran out at the end of September. We also spent an afternoon in the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew - that has become an annual event, though we try to visit at a different time of the year each time, and we also fitted in another visit to Greenwich to look round the Royal Maritime Museum. I've taken quite a liking to Greenwich, not least because of its useful selection of cheap restaurants. This time we got a meal in a noodlle restaurant for about 5 each.

In May Cliff and I, friends since 1949, visited Wales, travelling on steam railways and staying in a rather splendid Hotel. For the details look here: Richard's jottings: Thinking about thermodynamics in Wales

Click on the tiny pictures to see larger ones; there are titles at the bottom of those but you may need to scroll down to see them


Many of the noteworthy events of my year were experienced in Cliff's company, including this one:

Richard's jottings: A Buddhist tearoom.

Another joint excursion made was a weekend in London, staying with James, who entertained us in style in his new flat. On the way there we indulged ourselves by having a drink in the champagne bar at St. Pancras station. How different that is from the spartan refreshment room of my youth, serving stewed tea in cracked crockery.

The great event of the year was the celebration of my 70th birthday, about which I blogged twice.

Richard's jottings: Minimum Longevity Requirement
Richard's jottings: An extravagant Luncheon

In November I visted Blackpool for the first time since 1992 driven there by one friend so we could stay overnight in an hotel run by another. The sea front was rather a mess because it was in the process of being rebuilt, but what work has been done suggests there will eventually be more room for people to walk, with flowerbeds separating pedestrians from the traffic.


I've noticed myself slowing down during the last year or two. I have to make an effort to stop myself gazing vacantly at the television in the evenings.

I recently fitted a wireless card to my laptop computer so I don't need to plug it in for Internet access and can use it around the house. Often, when watching the television, I have the computer with me for use during the advertising breaks, but find that once I've started doing something on the computer, I feel no inclination to switch my attention back to the television, suggesting I wasn't really interested in the first place. Once I've switched the television set on to watch something or other, it seems to be an effort to switch it off. How odd.

In the garden the back lawn, a quagmire in wet weather, has been replaced by a patio, a great improvement. The work was done by my helpful lodgers, and has left me the proud owner of a cement mixer! As usual I've had large crops of soft fruit, apples and tomatoes, and this year also some French beans and celery. I seem at last to have got the Victoria plum to crop satisfactorarily. It used to produce a huge crop every third or fourth year, and just a handful of fruit in other years. In one bumper year I pulled off the majority of the fruit when they were still pea sized, and the following year there was a moderate but not embarassingly large crop. I repeated the operation when necesaary, and it seems to have worked.

There have been two minor culinary firsts this year. I used my first ever home grown marrow (actually grown by Gareth, the junior lodger, but he decided he doesn't like marrow and gave it to me) to make ginger marmalade, using a recipe of Paul Bond's. I've also started to do a little baking, making my own scones and my own mince pies, though I bought the mincemeat.

As this year's Christmas cards have started to arrive, I realised that last year's were still piled up in the drawing room, so I've sorted them out, keeping just a few that contained messages. Wherever shall I put them?

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