Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Philistine

This week I'm making DVDs for a new cookery series which is starting in January, so last night I decided to tart up the chocolate pudding and cream with a little grated orange peel trimming.  OH peered at it and said, "What's that?  Carrot?"

Sunday, 9 December 2012

How tasty is your skin?

They're back.  Bugger.

To insects I have the tastiest skin on earth.  They especially like the bits of my legs just above the top of the sock line.

Five years ago I got well and truly bitten by horse flies. And before I knew it, they'd turned into leg ulcers.   I went through I don't know how many hospital (dis)appointments before they gave up and I was referred back to my local GP practice nurses (where I clearly should have stayed all along).

And then I had to have triple layer bandaging, which seems to take up half your life.  Half hour appointments, twice a week.  To be honest, it was quite a good chat time.  My main nurse I'd known for years via school, so we just had a good natter. But it does take up quite a lot of your life. 

And the big problem with triple layer bandaging is that the only shoes that fitted were my black Crocs which are a bit on the big side - and NOT AT ALL SUITABLE UNLESS THE WEATHER IS DRY.

So far I have been wearing the compression stockings I still had from last time, but tomorrow I may get told that's not enough.  Fingers crossed, eh?

Oh, and I have antibiotics against a possible infection I have.  To be taken on an empty stomach, or at least two hours since last food.  And no food for another hour after.

So you have to take these meds at a predetermined point within a 3-hour slot.  I'm writing timings down, but it's doing my head in.  At least I seem to be eating about a third of my usual amount because I'm never quite sure where I am within this timescale.  Add that to the fact that the antibiotics might make you a bit "squitty" - and well you're not going to eat when you'll be in a situation where you can't rush off to the loo ...


Sunday, 2 December 2012

Counting the pennies

Cheesy Wotsits.  For those of you who know what they are.

On offer in the Co-op for £1.59 a 12-pack of Wotsits.  On the shelf below a 6-pack of Wotsits.  Cost?  £1.61.

Now why would I want to pay 2p more for half the quantity?

Lucky I'm good at maths.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Wahey! The day of the red-trousered philanthropist!

Well it's happened.  Bristol now has a mayor - and he wears red trousers!

For years we've been dogged by the crappiest council in the country.  They hate cars.  Intent on introducing controlled parking zones.  Let developers cram too much housing into too small a space without thinking about all the associated cars that brings, or the infrastructure needed for all these extra people. 

Every year they are surprised by the number of children seeking school places that they didn't know would be applying.  For goodness sake, these 4 year-olds didn't just spring out of nowhere.  They were all born somewhere and they're all known to health visitors and doctors.  Couldn't they just ask them how many were on their books? 

Similarly with secondary schools - well nearly all of the would-be new intake come from existing primary schools, so you know where they all live and where the schools need to be.  God help us if they ever needed rocket science.

They make it impossible to park in town.  They let FirstBus run a really awful bus service, too expensive, buses don't go where you actually want to go - and then wonder why Cribbs Causeway shopping centre (which is actually in South Glos) attracts all the shoppers.

So yes, finally, we have someone in control who can think outside the box and who actually GETS THINGS DONE.

Not much to live up to, eh?  Go, get 'em, George!

(Oh and because of the mayoral elections, we have the highest PCC turnout in the country which now has also gone to the independent on the second count with twice as many votes as her contender)

Thursday, 15 November 2012

How many days to Christmas?

With nearly six weeks to go, the trees are on sale already.  Lucky they're growing ones in pots.  Any for sale round your way yet?

Wow! Gromits!

Last year here in Bristol we had Wow! Gorillas in which 61 gorillas were decorated by artists and placed around the city. 

Some of them arrived by boat.  A gorilla flotilla.  They were great fun, and a lot of photos were taken with them.  Every time you saw one, you smiled.

Now it seems we shall be sporting Gromits next year.

Which reminds me of a day back in 2005, when I was walking back from school and saw what was obviously a huge fire in the distance.  And that afternoon, when the wind was blowing gently in our direction, all the ash came with it.  The top of our black dustbin was thick with it.  And then we discovered where the fire had been. 

It was a bit like when it's been snowing and there's a blanket of snow over everything.  Except this time it wasn't snow, it was Gromit's ashes.

In other news, we've voted for the man in the red trousers.  Let's hope he wins.


Thursday, 1 November 2012

Coming to a multi-storey carpark near you....

Sunday night in Cardiff was cold and raining, but a lot of fun was had here . 

You can see my daughter coming second at 3' 17".  For once, not much mud.


(Apologies for the advert on the front, you'll have to click and close that)

And here's another one in which she features (the moody looking girl on a high-viz bike at 55" in)



Friday, 26 October 2012

So SAD

It's cold and miserable and I feel cheated.

Outside it's raining, there's a north-easterly wind (never a good thing) and it's all very grey.  When the clocks go back on Sunday I shall probably put the heating on.

I feel cheated because we haven't had a proper summer this year, so there's no sense of crops harvested, gathered in ready for the winter.  There's no sigh of satisfaction.

There's a deficiency of SUNSHINE.

Hibernation, anyone?



Wednesday, 17 October 2012

To continue the chicken theme ...

Living in Bristol, we get a fair amount of traffic news relating to motorways, but today it reached a new high/low/level of bizarreness(is that a word?  Should it be bizarrity, or something?)

To the north of us we have the M4 with important people travelling east (towards London) and people travelling west, getting away from it all (into Wales, albeit at a cost - the Severn bridges cost going west). 

And then to the left of us (well, if you look at a map it is on the left) we have the M5.  There are those (misguidedly) going north, ready to encounter the motorway system around Birmingham, Spaghetti Junction and all - this is a really shitty bit of road system.  And then there are those going south.  Apart from usual motorway traffic, these are all holidaymakers. 

It's usually pretty obvious when something has blocked the M5 as the alternative route (the A38) is at the bottom of our road.

But today, the excuse was a little out of the ordinary ...

"M5 at standstill due to 1,000 chickens on road"

http://www.thisisbristol.co.uk/M5-standstill-1-000-chickens-road/story-17089930-detail/story.html


(I'm sorry, the link should have been under the headline, as it were, but Blogger's playing up and won't display anything other than the actual link - technology, d'oh!)



Monday, 8 October 2012

Sorry, who did you say you are?

On Saturday I went to the library and on the way there I met a friend of one of my children, accompanied by her boyfriend. 

"Hello, what are you doing here?", I asked as I thought she should have been at uni and it seemed a bit early in the term for coming home for the weekend.

She launched into a detailed description of their plans for the day and I began to think I was not talking to who I thought I was. 

But it was only when she said "it's dad's birthday today" I realised that I was talking to C, a contemporary of my elder son, who's just lost her adoptive mother recently to cancer and not A, my daughter's friend who has never known her father (coming from a family of six children, all with different fathers - well apart from the twins, that is).

It occurred to me that it was interesting that both girls look so alike, both are pretty and lively and very intelligent, and they come from such vastly different backgrounds.

Still, luckily I don't think she realised that I thought she was someone else.


Thursday, 20 September 2012

Shh! Don't tell Blue Witch about this post!

Heard a great story today.

Went into school to do a "training session" on drama filming with the young IT apprentice (who's actually about to start a proper job - yay, youngster who's got a job, good for him). No, that's me training him, not him training me.  Anyway, clearly a farce, so we ended up chatting about all sorts before we went off to look at the new sound racks which the school has, in its ignorance, bought.

He was telling me that his girlfriend's father, who is probably about the same age as me, used to work at Rolls Royce at Filton, and was on the team testing each new engine.  And one of the tests, to simulate a bird strike at 20,000 feet, was to fire frozen chickens into the blades of the engine.  And they would spend an entire week just firing frozen chickens.  And the whole point was that if any single one of those chickens should cause damage to that engine, then clearly the engine was faulty.  No pressure then.

So towards the end of the week when they were feeling pretty confident that the engine was okay, they went to lunch and when they returned the worst case happened.  They fired the cannon, and the blades of the engine just all snapped off.

They were devastated.  After all, how much was that engine worth?  And once you have that tiny shred of doubt then everything becomes much more tenuous.

They studied the CCTV in minute footage.  Which is when they discovered that whilst they'd been at lunch a cat had strolled in, climbed into the cannon and fallen asleep.  The next shot, once slowed down considerably, showed that the frozen chicken which had been fired was closely followed by a cat.  Which had totally demolished the engine.

So it just goes to show that if you're travelling at 20,000 feet and a flock of birds comes towards you then you'll probably be okay, but just a single cat at that altitude and you should be seriously worried.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Oh, the power of the internet!

Yesterday younger son finally mastered one of life's great skills.

No, it wasn't swimming - which he couldn't do until he was 10.

Not riding a bike - which he couldn't do until he was 11 and the prospect of having to do his cycling proficiency came up (and even then I had to ask them to put him in the last course of the year, just in case).

No, yesterday, faced with the prospect of having to have some really ghastly velcro shoes for school (because by the time you wear size 7 there's not much to choose from with velcro fastenings for boys), he finally learned HOW TO TIE SHOELACES.  And it's taken him till he was 14, well nearly 15. 

And the last ten years or so that I've been trying to persuade him to learn were all a waste of time because in the end a 1-minute YouTube demonstration was how he chose to learn.

So don't give me all that "learning at your mother's knee" bollocks.


Sunday, 16 September 2012

On procrastination

I think I've just spent all week procrastinating.  I will find anything to do other than what really should be done.

I'm probably making excuses but I think it all goes back to a fortnight ago when OH called in at his mother's house (she having been consigned to a care home by now) and discovered that her dining table and chairs and her fridge/freezer had gone.

So last Saturday we went down (a mere 40 miles each way) to discover vastly more stuff had gone - to wit, dining table and chairs, fridge/freezer, microwave, kettle, a sewing box, two chairs, freeview box, shredder, kitchen clock, nest of 3 tables, 2 table lamps, a quantity of cutlery, and bizarrely the BT master socket (which is actually the property of BT).

We went out to the care home to confirm that actually none of this lot was out there.  We also discovered that of all the photos of grandchildren the overwhelming majority were of SIL's offspring.

By now OH is panicking that her car is going to suddenly disappear, even though she has technically signed it over to our daughter a year or so ago, but we've left it in her garage so that she can pretend that she could drive it if she wanted to, but she just doesn't want to.  To be honest, her mental ability (lack of) and eyesight (also lack of) mean that she would be an absolute menace by now so a while ago we removed the battery so she couldn't start it anyway.  But she liked the idea of the car being there - just in case.

So on Monday we go down and move the car to a secret location (which obviously I can't tell you where it is) so that it's safe.  After all, once it's gone, it's gone.  No car has ever come back from a breaker's yard, has it?

And now all the Court of Protection stuff is going to have to be changed because OH thinks he can't trust his sister to be joint Deputies.  And it just goes on and on, and takes more and more time.  And I'm still not knuckling down to work.  Which is all very depressing.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Check drain

Red flashing light.  "Check drain".

I have never seen so much grey sludge.  It's never been at all like that before. I'm surprised any water got pumped out at all.  Yuck.


Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Texts that you don't want to receive

"Can you find out how much it would be to rebook the ferry? we took a wrong turn on the way"

swiftly followed by:

"And not sire if were pn toll roads? :("


Sent by daughter on her way driving back from Leogang in Austria via Dunkirk.  A route that was supposed to go through Germany and Belgium.  She is now in France heading for Luxembourg.  Can't find Dunkirk on satnav.  Has lost road map.

They have to catch the ferry as her friend is at work in Birmingham the next morning.

Will they make it?


Thursday, 30 August 2012

A Christmas Outing

Reading the lovely Z's blogs of the last couple of days reminded me of a Christmas time event when I was a youngster.  It must have been between 1962 and 1967 because I know we were living in Surrey at the time.  If you move about enough you can place events with quite a degree of accuracy.

To backtrack a little, my father used to work for EMI (after he'd finished National Service) as some kind of engineer.  This is not EMI Records, but EMI Guided Missile Systems.  I know he was in REME for his National Service and he had been doing (I think) electrical engineering at Brighton College before he was called up. 

When I was young we moved around a lot.  I was born in Surrey, moved to somewhere near Aberystwyth when I was about 3, moved to Lincolnshire when I was 5 - my birthday's in August -  (I didn't start school until after I was 5 because they only spoke Welsh where we were living before and my parents didn't think I could cope starting school in a language I didn't speak - there, see how I've said that without being derogatory at all).

Then we moved back to Surrey and actually bought a house (up until then we'd been renting - well except for when I was born when they lived in a caravan which, thinking about it, they were probably renting as well - this is the early '50s, there weren't that many houses available), but instantly moved to Saltash in Cornwall for a year.

And then we moved to Surrey *sort of permanently*.  Although there was a period when my dad was working at John o'Groats but he went up there on his own for a week or two at a time. Whilst he was away he used to get given a free Crawfords "Family Assortment" box of biscuits every week, presumably to eat in his hotel room, which he always brought home for us.  Gosh, that was luxury - a "Family Assortment"!

I've no idea what my dad actually did for a job because he'd signed the Official Secrets Act but I know it was something to do with Guided Missiles, and that it probably had something to do with analogue computers (because when he left EMI he went to work with English Electric - which later became ICL - and then he was a computer systems analyst - this is still in 1967 so probably still at least half a room's worth per computer!).

Anyhow, I have an abiding memory of going on a kids work's outing when we lived in Surrey and Dad was working in Feltham and I must have been probably about 10, 11, or 12.  We all (the kids) got on a coach and went to an ice rink (possibly at Wembley, I don't know) and saw "Peter Pan On Ice".  This was my first theatrical outing, it was magical and I was hooked.  I remember very little about it, but I knew it was much more thrilling than anything I'd ever seen before.  And then we kids all went off to some hall somewhere and there was a sort of horseshoe of tables with food on for us.  I think my sister Susie went as well, as she would have been about 8 but she might not remember it.

Anyway that was the work's kids' Christmas outing.  And I still have an abiding thought that "works" have a kids' Christmas outing, but I can't actually think of any others.  Have I made this tradition up?



Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Am I psychic or something?

E-mail received this morning, as acknowledgement of an order and copy of invoice for me to print out included some FAQs including: 


This invoice is not meant for me?

Please notify us immediately if this email has gone out to an incorrect email address. You can do this by forwarding this email to invoicing@companyname.co.uk. Please remember to include the correct email address of the requested recipient.

Erm.... if it's not meant for me, then how am I supposed to know who it is for, and what their email address might be?



Monday, 20 August 2012

Keep plodding on

Back along I could have retired, or at least got my state pension (not the same thing), in one year's time.  Now I have to wait five years, two months and seventeen days.  Ah well.  Wouldn't want anyone to think I was getting old.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

The Arrows

Today I picked the first of this year's blackberries - and lots of them too.  I shall have to get into jam making mode soon.  And I dug up a few rogue potatoes (ie the ones that were in the raspberry patch).  As any of you who have ever grown potatoes will know, they never quite go away, there will always be the odd tiny one you missed that grows next year.

I went up to the allotment today because it was sunny and there is rain forecast for tomorrow. 

It 's the weekend of the Bristol Balloon Fiesta and I'm usually up at the lottie on Sunday afternoon during the Fiesta.  And at about 4 o'clock you hear them coming.  They're a few miles away when you first hear them, but before you know it they're overhead.  It's the Red Arrows coming to put on a display at the Fiesta and they always fly directly along the length of the allotments.  It's one of those moments that make you proud to be ...  whatever. 

And then they're gone, but you can still see them in the distance, doing their loop the loops, swirling in and out, smoke trails all over the place.  The display lasts about 20 minutes and it's a good excuse to stop weeding and just stand and watch.  You can't see the bits near the ground, or when they fly off south and then come back, but you still get quite a good show.  And then they go, sometimes flying straight back over us, the way they came, and sometimes off to someplace else.

I don't think they're doing the Fiesta this year, which is just as well as there's rain forecast.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

I've been there too (part two)

So there I am, sat in a carpark at the top of a hill, having last seen two of my children over 2 hours ago and absolutely no sign of them now.

A police car, doing his tour of the hillsides looking for trouble, turned up.  Now usually I wouldn't have approached them, but I was beginning to feel like I was in a news story and I didn't like the way it was going.

He was on the radio straightaway.  He said he'd drive further on along the top of the hill, and yes, it was good that my daughter was wearing a bright pink helmet.

So off he went and there I was, alone again, worrying.  Like why I have chosen to sit in a car park at a place called "Dead Woman's Ditch", of all names?

Ten minutes later another police car turned up and I was invited to go and sit in it and give detailed descriptions of my children, what they were wearing (I hadn't particularly noticed!), what kind of bikes they had.  You really don't want to be doing this, I can tell you.

My descriptions were radioed through and we sat there waiting.  And waiting.  And nothing.



They were three hours late by the time that finally news came through that they'd found them, so we all pootled off to the pub car park at the bottom of the hill where I'd initially dropped them off.

Turns out they'd taken a wrong fork at the bottom of the hill  and had set off at about 40ยบ NE on a different path.  And then every time they'd crested a hill and not found the car park daughter had said "oh, it'll be just over that ridge ahead of us" and so they'd got further and further away from where they should have been.  Eventually they'd given up and decided to retrace their steps back to where they started and that's when they were spotted.


The pub car park was full of police cars - must have been a very quiet Saturday afternoon in west Somerset otherwise.  We all set off back towards Bridgwater in convoy.  Even though I have passed my Advanced Driving Test (over 30 years ago) it's still quite nervewracking driving along with police cars both in front and behind you.



Post script:  I'd just like to add that this was not the first time that my daughter had completely disappeared.   But I shall tell you about that another time.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

How to get rid of the rain

It's actually very easy.

Today it rained quite a bit, and when it did rain it was quite spectacular.  About half past three I went down the road and saw Vince (not his real name, that's Vincenzo) who runs a barber's shop at the bottom of our road.  Due to the quiet nature of trade he was washing his car.  And then he left it, covered in suds, so that the next bout of rain would wash it all off for him.

And what do you think happened?

Not even the really rather majestic thundercracks we had just after six produced even the smallest drop of rain.  Even though it got so dark that all the streetlights went on.  Nope, it stayed resolutely dry until at least 9pm.  By which time Vince had gone home, because he doesn't actually live here.

Just as an extra - Vince has a flag flying outside his shop.  Not the usual Union Jack but one like this:



Can you guess where it's from?  It's very similar to this one:



which you might recognise.  And yes, his extended family still live there.  Have to be a bit careful what you say to him.  You don't want to upset him.





I've been there too


When I saw this it brought back some none too pleasant memories:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-north-east-orkney-shetland-19058256

It was three years ago. 

Daughter (aged just 16) and younger son (aged 11) were going to go on a mountain bike trail.  Daughter was just getting into biking and had printed out a little bit of an OS map from Mountain Biker magazine for a trail they could follow.

So I dropped them off at the car park at the bottom of the hill and arranged to meet them at the car park at the top.  It should take them about an hour to do the trail.  I last saw them at about 3.30pm.

I sat in the car park at the top sewing name tags into younger son's new school uniform (it's the kind of thing that mums do).

An hour went and past.  And another.

I was sat in a car park at a place called Dead Woman's Ditch.  It's in the middle of the Quantocks and there's precious little mobile phone signal anywhere there.

Even at the best of times it's difficult to get teenagers to actually answer their phones, but every time all I got was "Welcome to O***** answerphone..."

So what do you do?

I was reluctant to drive off anywhere to look for them because a) it was woodland between where I'd left them and where they were supposed to go to  and b) if they turned up and I wasn't there then where would they go then?

Two chaps on mountain bikes in their 40s turned up so I approached them.  Oh yes, they knew that trail, they'd go and have a look for them.  Only bit of good news is that daughter was wearing a bright pink helmet so they'd be easily recognisable and also noticeable at a distance.  Half an hour later they came back and said, no they'd been down that trail to the bottom and come up a different way and there was no sign of them.

By now it was about 6pm and although it was nowhere near dusk yet (being August) I was very aware that the clock was ticking.

I'm sorry, I have to go and do other things now.  To be continued (that is, if you're interested).




Friday, 3 August 2012

Resistance is futile (or not)

So there I was yesterday, sat in the carpark of a male menopause shop when I got a phone call.  From Samson, who said he was calling from 33C Accounts and could he speak to someone from the accounts department.  As we are a partnership of two and I do all the accounts stuff I said yes, he could talk to me.

Samson: "I'm just calling to tell you that we are planning to sign you up to our new accounts system run by OBX.  And we're calling suppliers so that they don't get cold calls from OBX."

Me:  "And do I have to do this?  What benefit do I get from that?"

Samson:  "Well it's more efficient so your invoices will get paid faster, and you can track where they are in the system."

Me:  "Well I'm already on immediate payment terms so I don't think you'll get it any faster than that.  And so far I have no problems with any payments."

Samson:  "Well it will all be far more efficient.  And we're trying to ensure that all our purchasing is dealt with electronically."

Me:  "But I produce all my invoices as pdfs and e-mail them to you, how much more electronic do you need?"

Samson:  "Well we need to get as much as we can through the system electronically."

Me:  (thinking back to when they tried to do this five or six years ago)  "And how much will this cost me?"

Samson:  "Well as a rough estimate, say you have approximately x number of invoices per year, it will probably cost £750,  And let me say that any new suppliers would have to go through OBX, there would be no option."

Me:  "£750  !!!!!!!!!!!!  That's a small fortune.  There's no way I'd be paying that.  And this is just to make the 33C more efficient??  If I was forced to do so then my invoices would be adjusted to cover it."

Samson:  "Well of course some suppliers have found that they're going to have to use OBX across maybe 3 or 4 different clients so when you divide the £750 across 3 or 4 clients then it's not that much."

Me:  "Well none of my other customers would even touch OBX so that ain't gonna happen here."

Samson:  "Well since you're an existing supplier, and you clearly don't want to have to deal with OBX (too f**king right, mate) then I can offer you an alternative.  For a limited period (ie the link will die within 5 days) you can sign up to our supplier self service system but you might have to do a bit more typing.  But as, judging by the past year, you only send us about 9 invoices per month then that probably wouldn't be too arduous for you, then perhaps you'd like to consider sending invoices  via this method."

So then he sent me links for signing up to the self service supplier portal - which as I was in the middle of Somerset I completely ignored.  Which I think was about right.

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

I love the feel of autumn

I love the feel of autumn. 

That slight nip in the air. 

The sense of anticipation of something new.  I remember feeling that very acutely when I went to university but also on starting a new secondary school (which I did twice).

The regret that the long hot days of summer are over, but a freshness in the air.

The realisation that it's not that long till Christmas.

I love the feel of autumn.

BUT NOT AT THE END OF JULY




Saturday, 28 July 2012

Not quite a curate's egg, but distinctly patchy

So what did you think of the Olympic opening ceremony then?

Opening film good, pacy.  Historical stuff good, although the much publicised animals seem to have been reduced to a few horses who looked well used to the spotlight, and the chronology seemed a bit hit and miss. 

Musical stuff all over the shop.  Not at all helped by Trevor Nelson's inane comments.  Still, at least the rest of the world didn't hear him.

Queen's arrival excellent.  Glastonbury Tor interesting (it's a lot harder to climb than that in real life - last time I did it the Red Arrows just happened to be practising and flew over, that was quite spectacular).

Arrival of athletes - well I went and loaded the dishwasher and when I came back it was still going on.  Quite intrigued by the ice-cream girls leading each nation and obv setting the pace.

Cauldron - excellent, very impressive.  And clever, the way pre-event publicity had odds laid on several likely torch candidates, and they were all there, but not the one.

Cringeworthy - Paul McCartney.  Please.  I used to love you when I was younger.  Now you've become an embarrassing cop-out at the end of every event.  No wonder they pulled the plug on you the other day.

 Overall, 9/10.  And you?

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

SAD or just tired?

I have a clock in my kitchen.  Looks like this.  Has an AA battery.  It's been there for years.  It always used to run very slightly fast, which was quite useful as it meant that in reality I still had a couple of minutes in hand, if you see what I mean.





About three weeks ago it stopped, so I changed the battery.  A day later it stopped again, so I changed the battery again.  When it stopped a day after that I thought there must be something wrong with the clock itself, but no, the terminals looked clean and nothing was out of place.  I left it lying face down on the table.


When I came back later it had started ticking again, so I hung it up.  Over the next few weeks it would run for maybe 10, maybe 20 hours at a time and then stop.  Every time I laid it face down on the table and within about 5 minutes it had started again.  I came to the conclusion that my clock was tired and just needed a rest.

But since we've gone back to summer again, it hasn't stopped once.  Does my clock suffer from SAD, do you think?

Saturday, 21 July 2012

A girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do

My brain hurts.

All morning and half the afternoon I have been writing a report (currently four pages long) detailing the current state of the project we are managing.  Trying to put politely the fact that the person we have to work with as Chair is an idiot, who goes off at a tangent on her own, upsetting volunteers, trying to discredit other people's judgements and who uses as an excuse the fact that she didn't know what was going on.  The fact that she is completely incapable of listening to anyone goes totally over her head.  She has no creative side to her at all.  She thinks everything should be done in formal meetings, in committee.  She talks a load of council type rubbish.  And then she wonders why this project has taken four years to get off the ground. 

It's taken six months for them to figure out a way of reclaiming VAT on purchases for the project.  Why?  Who would seriously want to give a sixth of the HLF grant straight back to HMRC? 

We have to find some niche that she can be put in charge of, just to keep her out of the way of everyone else.  I have had to write this report just to make sure that she doesn't write it and now I shall have to email it to everyone involved that I can think of just so that she doesn't either pretend it's not like that, or else steal all the words and try to pretend they are hers.  Not that anyone would be fooled by that as she tends to write total gibberish with very little punctuation and terrible spelling (eg "graffic" artists - to rhyme with traffic, I suppose).

There.  I've said it now.

And then after that I've been doing our year end accounts.  Not because it's the actual year end - those were done months ago - but because I need to do our tax returns.  Not because they actually need submitting now, but because the tax credits annual review has to be done by the end of July, and so I might as well have actually done the tax returns as well.  At least I won't get a penalty for filing a late return.  And with a bit of luck the tax credits people might decide I'm so poor they might give me something.  Alternatively with daughter having just finished secondary education they will probably take some away.

So the rather nice sunshine I can see out the window is just that - outside the window.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

W-w-w-w-w-w-wet again

Jeeeeze!!!  We've just gone from pretty dry and sunny to the biggest raindrops in the world.  Daughter said, "have you still got washing out?" - and at that point it was probably almost dry - and by the time I'd brought it in I was totally soaked.  Had to change my clothes, that soaked. 

I know I should be grateful that I live in a hilly city, and that for us to be flooded probably 40% of the country would be underwater, but still....

Why do I now think that rain is the default option?

Does anyone know a means of nudging the Gulf Stream back on course (ie north of the UK), otherwise we're all buggered from now till kingdom come?

Have you ever seen so many slugs?  And where have all these black slugs come from?

Yours, wetly....

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

That'll bee lovely

The philadelphus is getting towards the end of its magnificent flowering period.  There always seems to be rain to spoil the glorious parade of white.   A couple of weeks ago I was hanging out washing in the sunshine and the soundtrack was of maybe fifty bees buzzing away furiously behind me, giddy with all the nectar.  I couldn't think of anywhere I would rather be.

So today I have planted these:





Sixteen of them altogether.  That should keep the bees happy.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Che sera sera ....




Doing a bit of clearing out recently, came across this which elder son (the chef) drew when he was just seven.




And this is him, aged 18, when he won the Pudz Amateur Pudding Chef competition.  He's with the judge, Mich Turner, founder of the Little Venice Cake Company





And this picture was drawn by my daughter when she was three:


 And this is her a few weeks ago at the BMX World Championships in Birmingham.  (Note the way she's cunningly photoshopped it so she's the only one in colour.)  Yes, that is a Team GB jersey. Competitors came from as far afield as New Zealand and USA.




I have yet to find a picture drawn by my younger son when he was little that shows early indication of where he will go in life - but on current form I should be looking for one entitled Me on the Playstation!



Thursday, 7 June 2012

Noah wouldn't feel out of place

Look, you know who you are.  Casting your weather spells.  Well, please stop it.  I am fed up with all this rain and now we have gale force winds as well and my house, which was built in 1870, is feeling the strain and bits are falling off.

In particular the front fascia board and soffit are disintegrating before my very eyes.  The bad news is that the telephone line is attached to the fascia board and at any moment we could lose our phone and internet connections.  The fact that you're reading this proves that they haven't detached themselves yet, but the bad weather elves aren't exactly helping matters.

So - to enable us to fix the problem OH has been buying and erecting scaffolding over the last couple of weeks.  No, no, no - in this house we do not employ scaffolding firms, we buy our own, because in the long run that's cheaper and anyway - we're bound to need it again somewhere else.  You mean, you haven't all got spare scaffolding in your back garden?

Of course, if you employed a scaffolding firm, they would have it all erected in a morning, but we are taking a different route.  We don't have scaffolding, we have "an installation".  Because OH feels nervous about being on a platform 20' in the air which might wobble, we have bracing poles here, there and everywhere.  Even I have been up to the top level (ie roof height) and felt perfectly safe.  (I did suggest that a couple of deckchairs would be useful and then we could have our own Jubilee celebrations up there.)

Actually, speaking of Jubilee, when I was last up there on Sunday I discovered, hiding between the ends of the rafters and presumably having been there for goodness knows how long, a rather splendid Union Jack, although it was a bit dirty.  I wanted to hang it from the scaffolding but OH wouldn't hear of it.  I shall wash it, and then I might take pictures.  Very appropriate for the day, though, I thought.

How's the weather with you?

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

To have or not to have. That is the question.

So.  Tomorrow we have the opportunity to vote on whether we, the people of Bristol, would like a mayor or not.  David Cameron and George Osborne have rushed down here to tell us to vote yes.  This instantly makes me think no.  I have watched the shenanigans with Boris and Ken.  This also makes me think no.  We have no idea whether a mayor would be good or bad, but  it is a step in an unknown direction, which also tempts me to think no.

But Bristol City Council has been consistently rubbish for the last, oh I don't know, millennium so maybe I should think yes.  Maybe anything is better than what we have now.  Look, we should have had a leaflet telling us about this election but have we had one?  Er, no.  But a lot of people in north Somerset and south Gloucestershire have had one.  They haven't got a vote on this, but Bristol City Council  (in its usual fashion) has cut corners and opted for the cheaper Royal Mail option which is to deliver the leaflet to ALL people with a BS postcode rather than selected postcodes actually within the city.

This is just indicative of what Bristol City Council is like.  There is never a majority so all decisions are compromises.  They have utterly failed on transport, schools, etc, etc.  Surely anything is better than what we have now.

But that is not a good basis on which to decide whether you want someone with vast power to rule over us for FOUR  years.  And so far no-one even knows what candidates there might be to vote for, which makes it even less appealing.

Okay, so that seems to be me decided.  Anyone want to change my opinion?

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Bits and bobs

Apologies to those who were expecting more...

Daughter has norovirus and is upstairs finally asleep, having been up till gone two sat in the bathroom. I know. I was there. I am so hoping this is the same one that I had on 30th March, and not a new strain that I shall succumb to. I have never felt so ill in all my life. It was worse than childbirth. I couldn't move. I lost 8lbs overnight.

And how do I remember exactly what date it was? Why, it was the day after the 2 year warranty on the microwave ran out. I'd thought something wasn't quite right for a few days previous but didn't have time to investigate. And then when I was ill and younger son said microwave didn't seem to be working I was past caring. So it was about 4 days later that I finally tracked down the receipt only to find that I'd missed out by days. I wasn't impressed given that this was a Miele, which I thought would have been a lot more reliable. After all the Sanyo microwave that I'd had previously, bought from Argos for less than half the price, had lasted 5½ years before it expired. But fortunately the supervisor in the customer care department sanctioned an under the warranty free repair. Turned out to be a customer serviceable part, anyway. A "wave guide" which had got damaged and was turning the microwaves back instead of letting them through.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

I am getting cross

D'you remember, back in the day, when you used to get junk mail by the ton, and then fortunately recycling arrived and you merely glanced at it before sending it on its way? You'd moan about the waste of printing it, but at least you felt that by recycling it you weren't compounding the problem.

And if you've ever had a fax machine then you know all about personalised sweatshirts for your staff, how many people would like to buy your business (if only), how reasonable car leasing schemes are, etc, etc. But then you found a way to receive your faxes via PC so you weren't paying for the paper to print this junk. You could just glance and delete.

Well I'm now getting really pissed off with junk phone calls. For a long time we've had caller display (admittedly initially so we'd didn't accidentally answer mad ex-wife, but hey). We never answer anything starting 08. In fact we don't answer area codes we don't recognise, working on the principle that they can always leave a message if it's that important. (It's especially important that you DON'T answer HMRC without prior warning of what they might ask you!)

We have one account with two phone lines - one is just a phone, and the other one (whilst being a second phone) is also the fax line and it carries broadband. You have to answer it quick if you want to use the phone option as the fax cuts in after 2 rings. If I HAVE to give a phone number to someone that I'm not sure of, I give them that number. They soon revert to writing if they really want to get in touch with me.

About 18 months ago we changed from BT to TalkTalk. I know, dubious whether that was a good move or not but BT had become SO unreliable. They were especially bad at broadband speed which would suddenly drop and it would then take an hour or more talking to Delhi to get it uprated again. I got to knowing all the phone numbers to bypass the bottom tiers of monkeys but it was so exasperating.
Now TalkTalk is forever ringing me to persuade me to upgrade to broadband on my phone line. Hello, I have broadband, I have it through you, does your left hand even know where your right hand is? It seems the concept of one account, two lines is a bit much for them.

But the phone calls that really piss me off at the moment are the mis-selling PPI ones. Usually they've used an 0845 number so we've ignored it, googled whophonesme,and added it to the list of numbers not to answer. This is quite a long list by now.

But they've recently started to use a new tactic. They've bought/rented phone numbers all over the country. I've always answered local numbers on the basis that it's someone who I might actually want to talk to, even if it's only because they're answering an advert of mine in Trade-It, but these bastards are now ringing using local numbers. And they are really annoying me.

Okay, rant over, I'm sure I need the exercise getting up to look at the phone to see if I want to answer it or not.

Friday, 2 March 2012

Babies galore!

Following on from DG's excellent list of Leap Day facts, including a link to Raenell's site celebrating Leap Day babies - it would seem the current stock of Leap Day quads (ie. one) has just doubled.

Did you notice that - four babies, four links - clever, eh? Mind you, I've never embedded links before so they might not work.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Please tell me this is not for real

Card through the door today from local estate agent bearing the phrase "Sale your home for £xxxx". Sale? SALE? Please tell me this is local idiot who can't proof-read. Please say it's not entered the English language.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Useful skills for the 21st century?

Daughter went on bushcraft day yesterday. Learnt how to light fire without matches, build a shelter using a tarp (yes, I know how to do these, I've duplicated enough Ray Mears programmes in my time) and how to skin a squirrel.

That's right, squirrel. Already dead, I hasten to add. They also cooked it, but weren't allowed to eat it due to Health & Safety. I think that's probably just as well

Monday, 20 February 2012

Saturday, 18 February 2012

This and that

On popping out to buy a phone top-up voucher for younger son this morning I noticed in the confectionary near the till that Cadbury "Olympic mascots" were 2 for £1. Except that the goods on offer were actually Aero lambs, Cadbury mini eggs and Maltesers. When I commented on this to the lad on the till he asked "What's an Olympic mascot? Is it a lion or something?" Seems I'm not the only one with a lack of interest in the Olympics, although I have heard of the mascots - I just can't remember their names as it's all so twee.

In other news, older son has had his car wrapped. At first we thought he'd had a respray and were horrified as that surely would have knocked at least 3 grand off its value. There was nothing wrong with it before, he just fancied a different colour. So now it's white instead of silver, white being the new black as it were. This is now being seen as "a good thing" in this household, as it's protecting the original paintwork and can be "unwrapped" at any time to return to the silver. Just think, if I'd written this paragraph twenty years ago you wouldn't even know what I was talking about.

Monday, 6 February 2012

I be liking local

When I went out at lunchtime today the sun was shining, the birds were singing, it was quite warm - I thought this feels like Spring. Are we living in the same country as all these folks with snow?

We did have snow on Saturday. It lasted about half an hour, was all of about a millimetre thick and then it turned to sleety stuff for about ten minutes. It was quite cold but then it warmed up. I don't know what the rest of the country is getting so worked up about.

Daughter got quite worked up this evening. Older son brought home a bike that friends of his had bought for their son from Toys****Us. It cost £250 and they had to put it together themselves. Which of course they couldn't do. So it was brought round for Daughter (that's right, the wannabe professional mountain biker) to fix it so it worked. Which she did, in as far as you can make crap work, but she then pointed out that they could have bought a far superior bike, from a named brand, for £30 less from the bike shop where she works, and it would have been delivered fully assembled and with a free service in a month's time. When will people learn that mass retailing is bad, and that local traders are good?

We have a new initiative in Brizzle today - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-bristol-16852326 - should be interesting. There's probably enough outside the box thinkers around here to make it work. Let's see.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Where have I gone wrong?

Sorry about the lack of posting for the last month. It's been January, and as an exam invigilator, that has meant lots of work up at school doing - well very little actually, as when you're invigilating an exam there is bugger all to do. You're not allowed to read or do the crossword or sudoko or anything really because you're supposed to be ensuring that all is going well with the exam. This is usually not a problem, unless you have a three-hour sixth form languages exam, which is exceptionally hard going.

Anyhow I've been busily doing that, along with an occasional stint in the finance office ('cos I'm good at figures and Excel and things like that).

Oh and we've also had an interview for a job (that's not the royal 'we', that's me and the OH) which, despite not even being interviewed first time around (didn't score enough points on their scale), actually got the job after all. It's a one person for a year, or in our case two people over two years, position. It actually means we can offer support for a far longer period, and also the time we spend will be much more effective. (It's all very well training someone to do something, but then you have to wait for them to go out and do it, and then come back, before you can move onto the next stage.)

Plus MiL was carted off to hospital because she was trying to starve herself, and we've had to go down and take her to appointments for cataract operations (in which they supposedly saw no need for her to have anything other than a local anaesthetic, despite the fact that she was bound to have started questioning what was going on halfway through) and is rapidly losing much touch with reality.

Anyway, I just thought I'd post tonight having seen younger son's homelearning. (Not called homeWORK these days - probably because of the lack of work involved)

He had to compile a document for his "dream house". So having chosen a Ferrari, an Alien Ware Aurora (don't know what that is), a Jackson Leather Corner Sofa, a PS3, and Xbox 360, a house in Carmel (as in California).... I said to him are you choosing a "real house" next, in which case you'll be choosing a sofa from DFS .......... he said, that's where his "dream"sofa was coming from, 'cos that's the only place he knows where you can get a sofa. I could weep.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Headless body found in grounds of Bristol hospital

Quote from BBC Bristol website today:

"A headless body has been found in the grounds of a psychiatric hospital in the Brislington area of Bristol......It is thought the body, and the head found nearby, are those of a man and they had been there for six months.

An Avon and Somerset Police spokesman said the death did not appear to be suspicious ........"

Really? Not even the teensy weensiest bit?

Friday, 6 January 2012

Jamie, our fishman, came yesterday. He'd been ringing up before Christmas on the offchance but I didn't have room in the freezer so I never got back to him. But he rang again yesterday, so I was pleased to tell him to call.

He's got a new van (which in all honesty looks identical to the last one, but I didn't like to tell him that). And somehow, between changing vans, he's left his zipzap machine in the old one so couldn't take debit cards. Have I got a cheque book? Fortunately the answer is yes, so I head out to new van complete with cheque book and card (er, no I don't need card, apparently).

Problem. Inside he has a big freezebox made of 2" thick polystyrene. He goes to open door but ... ah! freezebox has inexorably shifted an inch or two to the right, so he can't open freezebox door. After about 5 minutes he manages, using full boot strength, etc, to shift the freezebox enough that he can carry on trading.

I'm trying to support a local independent trader but... oh well you only have to look at his website to see what he's up against. I can't find it at the moment, but one of the offerings when he first started up on his own was the "Cock'o'van" - I kid you not.

In other news, the arrogant bastard has opened up another shop in the area - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-bristol-16423230 .

This is the story of Stuart Montgomery, an arrogant shit who thinks he can just open his Costa Coffee branches anywhere he likes. He already has branches in Portishead and Henleaze and then he opened one, without planning permission for a change of use, on Whiteladies Road in a premises which used to be a newsagent (and I have indeed shopped there myself in the past). Another local coffee shop has already reported reduced takings since Costa opened.

After that he decided to open another branch on the Gloucester Road (notable for being possibly the last real high street in the country). Despite a petition of 3,000 signatures, and a refusal of planning permission (not least based on the 18 coffee shops in the vicinity), he decided to open up here anyway.

And now he's opened another one in Westbury-on-Trym. He seems determined to walk rough-shod over everyone else for his own gain. Bristol City Council say they are investigating, but as they are the most useless council in the country I don't hold out much hope.