I’m Just Disappointed

I do know that it’s wrong to use your mobile phone while driving but I just had to in this case. Fortunately I was in a traffic queue and just after I spotted this advert there was serendipity. Given the hurry I was in and the distance of the bus from me I’m quite pleased with how the picture turned out.

Education Kind Of
Education, Kind Of

What surprised me about the advert was partly that Fashion History should have been something starting with a T to match the tarot part of that sentence and I think KAE missed the point of how those literary devices work. The main surprise in this advert was to see KAE advertising courses in Tarot. I don’t think they should.

Tarot is either the name for a pack of cards used in Europe for about 400 years or tarot refers to the practice of conning people with bullshit, from Wikipedia: “the late 18th century, some tarot decks began to be used for divination via tarot card reading and cartomancy leading to custom decks developed for such occult purposes.”. I’m guessing that this reference to Tarot on this advert isn’t just about the design of the cards but more likely to be about the spooky divination of said cards. Let’s see.

As I type this I’ve got another tab open [actually it’s a whole browser on my other screen] and I am going to look through the tarot information on the KAE website. The first thing I noticed in the search results is that there are two course and they don’t cost as much as I thought they would, but the socialist in me does think that if people want to further their education then it should be free of cost, however I do understand the modern world.

KAE Search Results

In a moment I am going to click on the more information hyperlinks and see where that takes me. Le Boutillier. Hmm. Le Boutillier. Very sensible choosing a name that sounds like it’s from New Orleans or of French descent. It gives you a certain credence in this realm of tarot. It could be that Le Boutillier is their birth name but I suspect not, I will try and find out.

Understanding the Tarot is an online course run out of the Tonbridge part of KAE. It’s a basic course for anyone “wishing to understand how Tarot reading can be commonly used to measure potential outcomes and evaluate influences surrounding a person, an event, or both.” So this is a course in nothing. There’s a little bit about understanding the 22 Major Arcana cards but the rest of it is absolute nothing. Oh well.

Creativity and Inspiration with Tarot is an online course [sensible in a pandemic] and it is basically learning how to make up shit in story form from the cards that you have. So I guess it’s about using your imagination. There isn’t anything about telling the future or past but just the story aspect of the cards. The tutor for this course is Martin Laya Rey. Almost definitely not their real name and made up to sound exotic. I’ll see what they say about themselves shortly.

Ally Le Boutillier. Her biography on KAE says “a Reiki Practitioner, Hypnotherapist, Bereavement Counsellor and Numerologist.” Of those things there only one is actually a real thing to do and even then, given her other practices I wonder if she can counsel people without resorting to after-life souls stuff. Now to google and see what happens. Oddly she does not have her own website, there’s some things on Linkedin and Facebook but I’m not trawling through those sites. It does appear that Le Boutillier is her last name, she mentions her late father and his name is the same. Perhaps I was harsh about that. She does have a YouTube channel and she has a playlist called Deepak Chopra. That is all you need to know. Deepak is a man who utters such vague rubbish that those who believe the supernatural love him.

Martin Laya Rey has two google results and that is the page at KAE and an advert tweet for a cook at a cafe in a cinema. This is super odd. Maybe I’m the odd older person as I have a number of google results for my name. It seems odd that no one else is called that also. So, I have no other information on this person. I could go to Facebook but I don’t like making myself busy on that site, they are immoral. In terms of names I have no idea from web results if it is their actual name so let’s go with a yes.

My conclusions. This stuff seems harmless enough. Tarot is a giggle if you take it as a bit of fun. I guess it’s like a Ouija game – which is a game and the science of it is well known – the problem is when people take these things seriously and start taking the advice of the cards. There is a false hope in the idea that there are super natural things and even more false hope that they are communicating to us through vague symbols and other people. The legitimacy provided to tarot by it being an official course on an adult education platform does not help and is one of the ways that practitioners are able to claim that they do a real thing. It’s a bit like the reiki poster up in the doctors surgery. Reiki is rubbish but gets condoned because it has a poster up in a place of goodness.

Finally Somewhere Else

I actually drove out of the county of Kent for the first time since last August recently. I didn’t go far, only across the Thames to Essex but it felt like a whole new place. I think I’ve been separated from Essex for long enough now that I don’t really have any urges of “home” when I go there. I do look around the village and think it’s very pretty but all around it’s changed so much with building and “improvements” that it’s not the Essex of my childhood anymore and I don’t feel that romanticism. I did go for a walk with the family and we went to some lovely local reservoir lake things. It was pretty and the sun was shining.

My Homeland
My Homeland

As much as I’ve labelled that picture as my homeland curiously I didn’t even know these lakes existed for all the time I lived in the village. I had never explored them as a child. Doesn’t really matter. It just adds to the alienness of wandering around somewhere so familiar and yet so different.

As a slight contrast I did find this work of art on a walk around the lake area near me in Kent. I have to say it is stunning. I’m not entirely sure about any of it though. I’m a republican and couldn’t care less about what happens with the royal family. It does appear that this picture has likened Kate to the virgin mother of Jesus and quite literally sanctified her in image. It’s such a strange sight and one of conflicting impressions.

I'm Just Not Really Sure What
I’m Just Not Really Sure What

Does this image mean it was paid for by arch royalists? If so then I’m not sure why the person in the image isn’t part of that bloodline – I guess the child is [?] assuming it’s actually one of Kate and William’s children. I honestly don’t know. I also feel that the people who did this are particularly on the right of politics as that is what I mostly associate that particular colouring of cloth in the background. This image has me conflicted in many many ways.

Heading just a few miles from the graffiti we see other iconography in the local friars. Now, it turns out that the monastery near where I live isn’t a monastery it’s actually a friary. It also turns out there’s a difference. Let’s make this clear here. Monks are selfish twats who give their lives over to serving and praying to god. Friars are less selfish twats who give their lives over to serving god while at the same time being allowed out to do things in the community. So, friars are the better of the two wastes of time. I guess anything which has use to the community is better than a thing which does not.

Iconic Stuff
Iconic Stuff

This image has another mother and child in a system which allowed rape, slavery and murder of the right people. Is Mary crying in this image? Perhaps she’s upset at the lack of consent for her pregnancy – which makes god a rapist. If you look at the bottom images on the front of the alter it looks like there is a snake climbing a crucifix which I suppose I understand and then there is also a badly drawn T-Rex with a halo! I know it’s a sheep but it’s much more fun to think of it as a terrible lizard. Damn, I wish I had looked more closely at this when I was there. Perhaps I’ll pop back for another look soon.

The Homeland

In 1996 I did something I had never thought I would do at any point before. I moved to live south of the river. I grew up in Essex and went I went to university I lived in Knightsbridge, Fulham, Earl’s Court and Ealing. None of those places were south of the river Thames and I rarely went there. I always considered the south to be full of poorly maintained roads and areas less nice than I was used to. When I eventually got a teaching job I was happy but also somewhat full of trepidation as I had a job in Kent and I was not going to travel across the Dartford Crossing every day. So, I moved to live in Gillingham. A Medway town. A working class town full of history and pride. I’m trying to think of a nice building in Gillingham and to be honest I’m struggling. The whole area of Medway had really struggled since the closing of the dockyard in the 80s.

I lived in Gillingham for three years before a short dalliance back in Essex when I taught at a school in Brentwood which has since closed. Then I came back to Kent. I’ve been here since living in Rainham, Maidstone and now the village of Eccles. I quite like it down here. I’m not sure I’ve ever felt that “home area” feeling you get when you are a kid and I also know that I don’t have that feeling when I return to the village in Essex where I grew up. I wonder if that ever returns. I think I still feel a little like an imposter. But then I’m not sure what feelings I am seeking.

Looking Back To The Homeland
Looking Back To The Homeland

How long do you have to be somewhere before you feel “at home”. I do love my little house and I really enjoy the scenery around my house but I don’t often feel “at home”. Maybe adult life is always about feeling transitory. I’ve been involved with the community so I don’t think it’s that. In the past I’ve been a trustee of a local charity and I’m currently involved with the cadets. Maybe we all feel a little lost sometimes?

The photograph I above is from Queenborough on the Isle Of Sheppey. There’s a small lump in the middle distance and that is Grain Tower Battery – a war defence platform. Then, behind that you can see the skyline of Southend. A famous coastal town in Essex. I’ve been there and I can sometimes see Southend when I go for a run. I look at it almost wistfully but also in the knowledge that I’ve only been there a few times as a person older than ten years old and have no anchorage there.

La Manche

A while back I journeyed to Dover and the White Cliffs. Just went for a walk and to see what it looks like. It’s an odd feeling looking at the massive modes of transport going about their business. Fascinating. Quite a bit like watching aircraft or trains. I took a few photos as a test of my cleaning of my camera sensor. There is a small spot that I can see in photographs still but overall the result is pretty good and I am a happy chappy. I didn’t want to use a gallery for this collection as I really like the photographs. Click on one to get a, slightly, larger image.

Dover Port
Dover Port
There'll Be Blue Birds Over . . . .
There’ll Be Blue Birds Over . . . .
SS Falcon From Above
SS Falcon From Above
Wreck and Not-Wreck
Wreck and Not-Wreck
SS Falcon
SS Falcon
Langdon Bay
Langdon Bay

Flight Comparisons

I did a thing. I used Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 and X-Plane 11 to compare the flying and things. The plan was to fly from Biggin Hill to the Manston Airfield [which is currently shut]. While flying in MSFS I flew over Brands Hatch, my house, my place of work, Leeds Castle, Canterbury and then landed at Manston. I recorded the screen for each of these segments and uploaded them to YouTube. There is some information which needs to be released about the set up first I suppose because this wasn’t an even playing field. I will do that after the take off videos. Now, MSFS doesn’t have any particularly fast aircraft or military planes at the moment. So I used a Pitts Special in that game and my favourite T-7 in X-Plane. The order of the videos will always be MSFS and then X-Plane but it should be obvious from the aircraft involved.

Biggin Hill Take Off MSFS
Biggin X-Plane

The mechanical set-up. The PC has a Core i5 processor running at 3.7GHz. There is 16GB RAM, the graphics card is a NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 Super, the monitor is a 27″ 16:9 1080P thing, I’m not convinced for the need of a higher resolution or size. I’ve got two speakers running a boring stereo output, I’m not that bothered about full 5.1 for the PC, I don’t use it enough. I have a Saitek X52 HOTAS system and that’s about it.

While flying east-ish from Biggin Hill I could see a golf course and realised it was the one near Brands Hatch so I decided to flyby the motor racing circuit and see what it looked like. Here are the results for both simulators.

Brands Hatch MSFS
Brands Hatch X-Plane

My comments on Brands Hatch would be that both simulators manage it quite well but MSFS does put a building on the Brabham Straight. That would be tricky if you want to have a motor race but I guess this is just a simulation and if I really cared a lot about Brands Hatch I could make my own custom scenery for X-Plane.

Some words here are defining the software set up. For MSFS2020 I have essentially bought the deluxe version. I did this because I was quite convinced that I would pay for the extras in micro-transactions anyway so I might as well do it up front. Other than that I haven’t done anything to MSFS. I whacked all the graphics settings to the far right and just let the PC see where it can take me. For X-Plane 11 there are extras and these should probably be explained. The Boeing/Saab T-7 Red Hawk is a bought add-on made by AOA Simulations. There are plenty of free aircraft you can get for X-Plane, a quick look at the downloads website shows 1,128 aircraft for X-Plane 11. I also have lots of after market scenery libraries installed. These allow third parties to create scenery using standard models. There are 83 directories in my Custom Scenery folders, some of these will be airports and some will be libraries. I also have TrueEarth installed which is a paid for scenery collection of the UK. Great Britain South cost around 30 Australian dollars. So, given the time and money I have invested in X-Plane I am probably quite biased towards that, the sunk-cost fallacy.

In the next couple of videos you, probably, won’t know where my house is and you might not know where I work. If you do you will see the differences in this. These videos take you from the Medway Valley four villages over Maidstone and close to Mote Park. More comments after these then.

The Commute MSFS2020
A Faster Commute X-Plane 11

I’ve just changed my embedding technique and so the videos might look different from the one above, I’ll see once this is published. In MSFS my house doesn’t exist. The shadow of it does but the actual 3D model isn’t there. My work place has buildings but they aren’t the right shape. In X-Plane my house is modelled in 3D and my work place has buildings of the correct shape but not the correct colour. Remember that the X-Plane scenery is a paid extra. I know that the original scenery was just shadows on the ground for my village.

Next up is a flight and stall turn over Leeds Castle. Leeds Castle is near the village of Leeds and not the city in the North. It’s a pretty castle although I don’t think I have ever been inside the actual buildings. I think in the following videos it is clear that X-Plane does the better job, once again it has a scenery pack installed for Great Britain.

Leeds Castle – MSFS 2020
Leeds Castle X-Plane (with add-ons)

As I headed east I was reasonably sure I would land at Manston on the eastern tip of Kent. The last time I ever flew in a Chipmunk was from RAF Manston when that still existed. Along the way is Canterbury, the home of the Church Of England and other such religious paraphernalia. I wondered what the city would look like as I passed overhead. I had not seen this before in X-Plane and was quite curious.

Canterbury MSFS2020
Canterbury X-Plane 11

Again I think it’s clear that X-Plane nails the cathedral but I have to point out that I have paid extra for the scenery pack of the island of Great Britain. I would be annoyed if it didn’t look better. The last two things then are landing at Manston.

Manston MSFS2020
Manston X-Plane 11

You’ll notice that MSFS2020 was a little busy with other aircraft on the runway. Hence I landed late and on the right side of the runway. You can turn off other players or you can see them all. X-Plane has the option to have other people flying in the sim, you can also have AI aircraft and set their aggressiveness for combat. You can also have real world traffic in X-Plane and I’ve tried that and it seems to work quite well, depending on the ground ADS-B coverage from a particular database.

My overall thoughts. I think I prefer X-Plane. This is probably for a number of reasons and not all of them might be valid. A lot of this comes down to the sunk-cost fallacy. I’ve spent more time on X-Plane, I’ve spent more money on X-Plane, I prefer the military jets, I have no inclination to program a flight computer, I like shooting stuff. I will say that I think the clouds in MSFS look a lot better and they might not kill the PC like they do in X-Plane. I am sure that over time there will be a lot of extras and add-ons for MSFS and these will take a little while to become ubiquitous. I think I’ll see if I can lock the chase view in MSFS because I’m not so keen on the camera always staying horizontal, I prefer the default chase view in X-Plane. I’ve a feeling that X-Plane is more detailed in its settings and more customisable, this is generally what happens with non-Microsoft stuff, you have the chance to tinker more. MSFS is a good simulator and with full settings it wrecks my PC which is a pretty decent PC so I would expect the graphics to look good. X-Plane just has that edge for me.

There’s a part of me that wants to be snobby about all this. I want to write that X-Plane is for proper flight sim people and that MSFS is just a tiny bit “arcade” and that if you really want to fly then you would have had X-Plane, P3D, or DCS or other such simulator because you would have found them. Me being snobby is my brain taking full command of the “no true Scotsman” fallacy. This goes along the lines of “you aren’t a real XXXXX unless you do YYYYY”. So, you aren’t a true Scotsman unless you are born in Scotland. You aren’t a true Scotsman unless you wear a kilt and have your own tartan [which is a bullshit thing made up by the Victorians]. You aren’t a true Scotsman unless you wear nothing under your kilt. You aren’t a true Scotsman unless. . . . . and so on. Now, sometimes there are qualifications and so on that can prove you are a particular thing but even then some people might say “oh, you aren’t a real XXXXX until you’ve had YYYY happen”. J Clarkson uses this when describing motorists, he says you aren’t a real motoring fan unless you’ve owned an Alfa Romeo. Clearly he is using the fallacy to great comic effect, along with being a bit of a prick. People seek legitimacy through the things they do. Many will say, especially those with internet balls, that you aren’t a real XXXX unless you have YYYY. This is bollocks. I have to remind myself a lot about this when I’m thinking. I actively work to make sure that I consider this and work through how my brain thinks.

So, my conclusion is: I really like X-Plane and will probably “fly” in that more than I will MSFS. But, if you’ve bough MSFS and you like playing that then good on you and I hope you enjoy the time you have.

By A Path

Out walking the other day I spotted a lovely looking flower and so I used Google Lens to see what it was. To use Google Lens have the phone camera pointing at something in the Google App. Google will then do it’s best to figure out what you are looking at. It could be a bar code and Google tell you what the product is or it could be a leaf or flower. It’s how I found out what the plants growing in my garden were.

Don't Use Them Up
Don’t Use Them Up

When I got Google to tell me what this flower was it said Opium Poppy. I was rather startled and so did a proper search back at home and this is one variety of opium poppy. Now, whether it has any opium in the eventual seeds I do not know. I’m curious but not that curious. It amuses me a lot to know that opium is growing near my house.


Last night the sky was quite dramatic with large clouds and the sun at a low angle making the dark portion of the cloud on the right hand side. It looked a lot better than this picture shows.


One of the drawbacks of this lockdown [and by drawback I mean an entirely trivial thing that doesn’t really matter] is the inability to see new places. In the past I would often go for trips to see what is out there. During my normal summer break I would have travelled the length of this country seeking out new things. I would also have travelled to Germany to spend a lovely weekend watching bands at the M’era Luna festival in Hildesheim. The last three months have been spent at my house or in the local countryside [I am aware of the privilege there and I’ve written in the past about how I feel lucky to live where I do]. While I’m happy enough with my surrounds it is nice to get out and about. I miss seeing new things. I miss growing with experiences. I miss just sitting in a darkened room for two hours while images flicker in front of me.

Because I’ve not been doing anything new I haven’t been using my “big” camera. I’ve had plenty of projects to keep myself busy and the tech in my house just mysteriously keeps improving but I miss trying to get that lovely shot. Trying to frame a picture and get the camera settings correct so that the image “works”. By now I should have had trips to RAF Brize Norton and RAF Wittering, I should have been teaching weapon skills and I would have taken myself to the Lake District to bag some more mountains while camping at a site nestled between them. While the iPhone has been everywhere with me and I’ve taken some photographs with it I’d rather be out there doing proper stuff. I’ll have to think about how to do that. Maybe at the weekend. but, currently

the camera rests.


This area of Kent in which I reside has some decent human history going on. When mostly forested the island of Great Britain [it amuses me immensely that this place is named after a part of France, must make those racists really angry, especially singing Rule Britannia] had many locals doing their thing and trying to survive. Once people died they were buried in long barrows. These constructions had large stones, megaliths, placed at their entrances. There are a number of these in the Medway area and yesterday I used my exercise to go and complete my total of the East Medway Megaliths. These beasts were placed around 5000 years and and that is pretty darn impressive as far as I am concerned.

Kits Coty

In the past I’ve seen the coffin stone and I’ve also seen Kits Coty before as it’s on a running route I take. Here’s the view from Kits Coty, the weather was lovely but I am concerned that it’s been too warm for too long and the upcoming catastrophe of anthropogenic climate change is accelerating:

Kent from Kits Coty
Kent from Kits Coty

I’ve just discovered Scheduled Monuments which is a list of important stuff as agreed by the Secretary Of State for that stuff. There’s a lovely interactive map on the Historic England website. You can also download a PDF version of the map and it is gorgeous. So, Kits Coty is scheduled monument 1012939 and according to that website:

This example has a particularly well-preserved burial chamber and is also of high archaeological potential due to the survival of the remains of the burial mound and the flanking ditches. The burial chamber having been taken into guardianship, the monument is also of high amenity value.

Historic England

Little Kits Coty

Just down the Downs is a collection of stones called Little Kits Coty or the “countless stones”. I think I’ve written about them before but they are still just as pretty and nestled in a corner of a field. There is no path to them so you have to take on the traffic!

Countless Stones
Countless Stones

These boulders are also a scheduled monument as recognised by the Secretary Of State. These are number 1013673 and part of their description reads:

The atypical example of Little Kit’s Coty House represents an unusual variant of this class of monument but nevertheless forms part of the group of Neolithic burial monuments known as the Medway Megaliths. Being held in Guardianship, the monument is of high amenity value.

Historic England

The White Horse Stone

A small distance away is the White Horse Stone. It’s a single megalith but not quite as mega as the others in this area. According to Wikipedia there were other constructions here but they were destroyed in the 19th century.

White Horse Stone
White Horse Stone

This is monument number 1005181 and according to Historic England, again:

The White Horse Stone is a good example of its type, which survives well. The area immediately surrounding the stone is likely to contain archaeological and environmental information relating to the stone and the landscape in which it was erected.

Historic England

I would encourage you to look over the Historic England website as the maps, provided by OS, are absolutely gorgeous and the information there is pretty good. It also has listed buildings on the site and these are indicated on the map with little triangles.

Roman Villa, Eccles

Just south-west of my house lie buried remains of a Roman villa. It was in position from 65CE through to around 400CE which is pretty impressive. While it lies under farmland now it was excavated in the 1960s and it was quite an impressive size. Given how close it is to the site of the Battle Of Medway along with ease of access to the river and lying not far from where the Romans invaded it would have had prominent visitors and been of some importance. It is scheduled monument 1011770 and there are details if you follow that link. Wikipedia has improved over the last few years and there’s quite a bit of information there along with links to the original papers.

The walking route that is safest to travel from Little Kits Coty to the White Horse Stone involves using and underpass to get to the other side of the A229 Bluebell Hill dual carriage way. This underpass is quite pretty in shape and looks exactly like the launch tubes from Battlestar Galactica [imo].

Battlestar Galactica Launch Tube
Battlestar Galactica Launch Tube

Countryside Noise

I wrote a short while ago about the area in which I live and how I would consider it countryside but there’s also the machines of human activity nearby. In that communication I mentioned motorways, supermarkets, train tunnels and an airport. So, here is a map of Eccles’s surrounding area:

Eccles and environs
Eccles and environs

And here is a map with various things highlighted. The legend is below the picture.

Things Of Humanity
Things Of Humanity
  • Yellow: motorways
  • Green: airport
  • Blue: high speed train tunnel
  • Pink dots: Supermarkets I visit

Below is where I grew up, the village of Hatfield Heath in Essex, and I’ve marked similar things onto that map. Perhaps that is why I like my current village. I spent nineteen years on the Heath and had a very similar environment.