Monday, 31 January 2011

A Long Way for a Bookcase...

I hope you all enjoyed your weekend - it was very chill and bitter here all weekend although today, it's been gloriously sunny. So much so, I caught this picture (just) as the sun went down this afternoon across a housing estate I pass on the way home.

Men should always keep their trap shut when they have bright ideas. Mine was to go and visit IKEA on Saturday having failed to find a bookcase at a reasonable price in local shops or on the Internet. I've never been to an IKEA shop in my life. I thought it was a good idea at the time but the hyper-shop was over an hour away on the motorway along the M62 corridor around the Leeds area. So off we toddled.

The shop was huge - my colleagues who are all regular attenders warned me that it was large and you followed a path with arrows. That all seemed to work fine and we spotted our bookcase fairly early on for about a fifth of the price it would have cost me in 'Next Home.' However, my other half insisted that we go round the whole shop 'you never know what we might see.' Well an hour later, I was just about fed up so I insisted on going to the canteen which was very nice (lovely bun) - however we didn't have the meatballs that everyone recommended.

Then we had to get three bloomin' large heavy containers with our bookcase and get it to the car. I asked how much it would cost to get it delivered and because we were outside the catchment area, we would be £100 poorer. So we managed to get it in the car, just and arrived home with most of the day gone.

Overall, apart from not being very interested in shopping in IKEA, I was impressed with the scale, variety and price of the stuff there. It's a shame that there wasn't a shop closer to me. I guess when it comes to kitting my lads out if and when they decide to move out, that would be a great and economic place to do it.

Now Sunday was not so successful, in that, while it was a relaxing day, I smashed a cup when I knocked it off the kitchen work surface onto the tiled floor and then I spilt a whole cup of steaming hot cappuccino on my keyboard. The third thing ('to go wrong' as the saying goes), thank goodness never materialised, but it cost me for my clumsiness, £40 for a new keyboard and mouse. Not happy.

The day however finished well with a viewing of Iron Man 2 on DVD that my son had bought a few days ago. Rollicking entertainment, a little dark in places, lots of whizz bangs and action, something we didn't have to think too hard about.

I hope you have a great and successful week.

Don't forget to say 'White Rabbit' three times for luck tomorrow morning. Goodbye January.

Chat soon


Friday, 28 January 2011

Food, Glorious Food...

Just a brief warning on today's blog, those of a sensitive disposition to their weight should look away now.

Our canteen staff are very good indeed; they care, they try to bring variety as best they can under the finance constraints they work under (they are self financing) and they are good people. However, sometimes they are ever-so naughty in some of the puddings they provide and today was no exception.

Chocolate crunch and pink strawberry custard. Oh my goodness I had to have some - I have let my diet go very badly this last few weeks and I am going to have to start redeeming myself, but frankly it's damned cold outside and I thought a few extra calories to keep the internal heater going would be in order.

I don't have many disappointments in life (well a few, but nothing major if you don't include Michelle Pfeiffer, but that's another story) but one of them relates to puddings. Chocolate pudding to be specific with chocolate custard. Now at my secondary school in Cottingham in the East Riding, a regular feature was the said combo of choccy pudding and choccy custard. As you do when you are a kid, I went home to mum and asked if she could make the same.

Now my mother was, and still is an excellent cook and a superb baker of sweet delicious things as well as cakes including the chocolate variety - moist and light. I don't know if you can understand this but the chocolate pudding at school was slightly stodgy but very filling and tasted like cheap chocolate. The Custard was the same, distinctive and nothing like the Bird's custard out of a packet my mother provided - actually thinking back, it was powder out of a tin.

What my mother could not do was replicate the taste of school puddings. She did great puddings, but it just didn't taste the same somehow. There was a cheapness, a sort of basic instinct quality to school puddings plus of course happy memories may exaggerate the quality, who knows, but if anyone knows why they tasted differently, please let me know.

Sticky, stodgy thick rice puddings with thick burnt skin on the top with dollops of strawberry jam were another favourite at school. Tinned Ambrosia from the shops never quite came up to scratch.

School meals were always bog standard stuff, roast meat, two veg and roast potatoes, thin watery gravy, plus a pudding - it rarely varied. No pastas, bolognese, sandwiches, fruit, chips or anything like that. A jug of water or dilute (very dilute) orange juice helped wash it all down.

So here's a salute to memories and school dinner ladies (sorry - they all were ladies) who were always prepared to put an extra roast potato on your plate if you looked appealingly at them and smiled and said a big thank-you, they had their favourites!

Here are some fun food related quotes from the daft and famous:

A man went to the doctor who told him he had just three minutes to live. "What can you give me doctor?" he asked in a panic. "A hard boiled egg?" the doctor replied. - Tommy Cooper.

A friend of mine drowned in a bowl of muesli. A strong current pulled him in. - Tommy Cooper.

Two cannibals were eating a clown. One says to the other, "Does this taste funny to you?" - Tommy Cooper.

'This rock salt is over 200 million years old, formed through evolutionary geological processes high in the German mountains. Use by 30 September 2011.' - Label on a salt container.

I cook with wine. I sometimes even add it to the food. - WC Fields.

I'm at the age where food has taken over from sex in my life. I've even had a mirror put over the kitchen table. - Rodney Dangerfield.

Nouvelle Cuisine, roughly translated means, 'I can't believe I paid two hundred quid for this and I'm still hungry.' - Mike Kalina.

I went to a restaurant which serves 'breakfast at any time.' so I ordered French Toast during the Renaissance.' - Steven Wright.

My doctor told me to give up eating those intimate little dinners for four - unless there are three people eating with me. - Orsen Wells.

Have a great weekend

Chat soon


Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Can you Answer this Survey Sir...

As is my normal custom, I welcome a new follower to this humble rambling, Donna OShaughnessy who describes herself as a middle aged farm wife from Illinois. Many happy visits Donna and when are you going to start your blog?

Many thanks to all the followers who posted a comment after my last offering, 'News, Views and Sky Sexism.' This subject of blatant publicly expressed sexism has certainly caused some debate and I am delighted that people have been able to express their views, the benefit of living in a democracy. The social talk at work is of little else at the moment.

I am having a bit of a battle, well perhaps not a battle but an exchange of words with our friends at Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (US equivalent - Internal Revenue Service). I am getting tax correspondence for someone with a similar but not exactly the same name as me using my address. The National Insurance number isn't mine and the references to owning a company are certainly not me. I have written two letters, made two lengthy phone calls and yet the mail still arrives. I am hoping that this sorts itself out soon, I don't want any tax problems the 'other' person has landing on my doorstep!

Interestingly, when I pointed out that I had received a tax bill for underpaid tax earlier last year (as did millions of others) I have now asked if this 'other' person being classed as living at my address has caused this. This stirred some interest. Perhaps they are now worried they may lose money. I await the outcome with interest and hopefully I might be a couple of thousand quid better off.

Now then, surveys are very interesting. I fill them in at work, 'Are you happy' type surveys and I fill them in for some Internet sites I visit, 'What do you think of the site - how can we improve it,' type. I used to fill in shopping surveys and received vouchers for obscure goods I'd never buy in return for my trouble. Interestingly, especially the shopping surveys, it's amazing the details you give away about yourself, almost everything except your inside leg measurement (31" - there, you have it all now.) This is something I won't do anymore for fear of identity theft, but I guess over the years, the damage has been done. My habits, preferences, loves, dislikes all laid bare for the sake of the chance of winning the elusive prize that no-one ever checks is genuine or ever won.

So, I was interested when I was watching the TV advert for a well know female facial beauty product, that on the bottom of the screen there was a strap line that responded to the claim that it made you look younger that, "68 out of 100 women agree." Now I don't know whether or not this is supposed to be a requirement of the advertising standards authorities, but if it isn't, why would you want to advertise that actually, 32% of women think your product is rubbish!

Anyway, I was sent a survey result today that I know you discerning bloggers will be interested in.

Forgive the subject matter, but it was a survey for women about their 'bums,' (it was actually 'arses', but I'm trying to raise the tone here.)

When asked about their bums and whether or not they liked them, 30% of women said they thought their bums were too fat.

10 percent of women said that they thought their bums were too thin.

60 percent of women said that they don't care, they loved him, he's a good man and they wouldn't trade him for the world.

Chat soon


Monday, 24 January 2011

News, Views and Sky Sexism

The priorities of the UK press are very amusing; one of the top stories today is about a magician and entertainer Paul Daniels (nice man) who found an old wig when sorting through some rubbish at home and he decided to sell it on EBay for £1,000. Is this really a news story - are people really that interested? I guess they must be because it's one of the top ten read news stories of the day. Amazing - do me a favour editors - just don't publish it in the first place.

The second news story made me angry. Very angry.

Sky Sports team of Andy Gray and Richard Keys have been disciplined for their overtly and deliberate sexist remarks made live on Sky Sports in relation to an assistant referee at the Wolves Vs Liverpool Premiership game. Their remarks about her were wholly unacceptable and disgusting. I am not even going to repeat their upsetting words, you can read them on the BBC News Online site by clicking here. Needless to say wind-up merchant and arrogant Gray should have been sacked. Keys, as the main anchor frankly should have known better. The commentary was not brilliant either with references to 'the female assistant referee' - she's just a bloody assistant referee for goodness sake - you don't say, 'the male referee!'

Even people like me who flirted with media management for a brief seven years always knew that one of the golden rules was never assume your microphone is switched off - Ex PM Gordon Brown learned that lesson big style and probably helped lose him the election!

Sexism is alive and well in one of the worlds biggest media organisations - sort it out Mr Murdoch.

The BBC report today that a rat was spotted during a BBC news broadcast from Downing Street in London. I am gratified and relived to hear that the Government is not going to waste taxpayers money buying a replacement cat for Humphrey, 'Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office' who died in 2006. This non-story was also in the top ten stories for today. There's a joke in there somewhere.

I had a fascinating discussion today with a colleague (female - but it is relevant this time) over the use of titles for women: Miss or Ms or Mrs.

My wife screws up letters addressed to her with the title Ms. She says she isn't a Ms, she's a Mrs. Ms demeans women and the importance of marriage she adds. My colleague who was married and is now divorced now uses Miss and has reverted to her maiden name. This does cause a lot of discussion with some passionate about it and others couldn't care less. If you're female, does it matter to you?

Forecast to get colder in the UK as the week moves on with northerly winds bringing sleet showers by Wednesday; Brrrrrrrrrrrr - give it up! Roll on Spring.

Chat soon


Saturday, 22 January 2011

I've Had an Idea, Dear...

My cat bought a bird in the house today, sadly already dead although not a mark on it - I guess shock got the better of it. Not only is this very upsetting for me but ironically, the bird he bought in was a hedge sparrow, a bird we have not had in this area for all the fifteen years I have been in this house.

We put bells on their collars and bird food is put on high bird tables that the cats can't actually get onto. I'm not sure what other practical ideas I can come up with.

We went shopping today for a couple of halogen light bulbs for the security lights. We arrived back home having: chosen a potential new carpet for the living room, decided on a complete living room makeover, thought about new light fittings, chosen a couple of bookcases we might like to replace the rickety ones we have now, bought some bathroom fittings to get stuff off the bathroom window sill and six cans of windscreen de-icer.

How the hell do we manage to do these things? I know the answer. Simple minded married men like me are manipulated by very clever women who put their ideas into our heads. They then encourage us to come up with ideas and solutions which match their plans as if they were our ideas - and hey presto! Job done. If you could bottle this stuff, it would be worth a bloody fortune!

We've both had a bit of a tidying rush to our heads around the house and I've even tidied (most) of my computer room which is a rare potential twice a year event. I was wanting a desk top book shelf but I can't find a decent wooden one for less that £45, so I've opted for less attractive very practical office-style bookends. This will allow me instant access to my spiritual material which I keep in a box under my desk. I'm now on the lookout for some ornamental and heavy bookends.

Well this weekend I thought I'd do a sort of a list which isn't exactly a list but it's near enough to a list and it's on one of my favourite subjects, the difference between men and women.
  • God made man before woman so man could have time to think about the answer to woman's first question.
  • Woman are crazy and men are stupid. Women are crazy because men are stupid.
  • Women always want the last word in an argument (mine certainly does!) Anything a man adds after that is a new argument.
  • A woman will dress up for going shopping, putting the bin out, answering the phone, doing the gardening, reading a book and having her feet done. A man dresses up for weddings and funerals.
  • Men can 'do' their fingernails with a pen knife; keep the same hairstyle for years; have shoes that don't deform their feet; only have to shave their chin; and choose whether or not to grow a moustache!

Enjoy the rest of the weekend.

Chat soon


Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Volunteers Take One Step Forward!

Frosts have returned but I guess that's what we expect this time of year. I was in a university car park in Hull today and there is still a heap of snow/ice there yet to fully melt - that must have been a hell of a pile.

I was doing some research work around the Governments Big Picture (which I have to say a lot of people are still waiting for a definition of) but I guess it revolves around finding alternatives to providing public services without public services delivering them and involving volunteers, the community, charities and the private sector. I have some views about this which I won't bore you with but I imagine you would believe I don't exactly wholly agree with it (some aspects perhaps, but not the ethos of it.)

What I also discovered was that there is something called an 'Emerging Gap' in the Big Picture and that is in terms of volunteers. The number of volunteers is declining dramatically.

I was fortunate yesterday (Tuesday) to have been involved in a day long workshop on the future funding implications for my organisation which, unexpectedly, was very enlightening and very interesting albeit you can't get away from the pain that will follow in the next four years. I was sat at a table with a lady who had been awarded an MBE, I understand mainly for her work in the voluntary and charity sector. Well done her, and I asked her about why she thought there was a decline in volunteers and she put a very interesting perspective on it of which she has first hand experience.

She described a society in which couples are under more pressure than ever. She particularly singled out women (nothing sexist in this) who firstly were often married and having to work. Unlike my parents generation, there were often enough wages coming in from the main wage earner to pay the rent/mortgage, not so much now, both couples are having to work to pay it. This is coupled with looking after children who they generally have a little later in life these days. Further couple this with often looking after elderly parents or relatives in addition to running a household and there is sort of a picture emerging where it is more difficult because of the pressures of modern life to find the time to volunteer for anything.

This is not stereo typical of course and there are a hundred combinations of circumstances which pin down singles, divorcees, no children couples, unwell people etc etc., who also have massive pressures which prevent volunteering too.

She also cited younger people are often less willing to volunteer as educational pressures and the need to earn extra money during university for example and those who don't go for further education who often work long hours to get a decent wage have less incentive and inclination to volunteer.

My mother has helped to raise probably hundreds of thousands of pounds for local charities in Cottingham in East Yorkshire and for the Lifeboat charity RNLI, and she also works for the Women's Royal Voluntary Service (WRVS) once a week but when she retired at 60 ish, she had time on her hands without the responsibilities of more modern day life and she has her health which helps.

Do I volunteer? Not now. I used to sit on a Boys Football League with lots of responsibilities for ten years giving up three years or so ago. That was my contribution as a volunteer. Not very exciting but helped get kids off the streets, give them focus, team work discipline, fitness and skills and hopefully an interest in healthy activity and the opportunity to make friends.

Will I volunteer in the future? Who knows. There are some difficulties and bureaucracy to overcome for many people - Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checks, often insurance is difficult to obtain or premiums are too high. Currently I don't have spare time but I'm not sure if that's just an excuse.

Should I volunteer at all? Well, I believe we all have something to give to our communities or neighbourhood or to particular groups of people either in time or cash, but it's more about giving your skills which is predominantly about time - time which is so precious and short for a lot of people. It's good to volunteer of course, a bit of selfless and unsolicited activity for the benefits of fellow man (sorry ladies but that includes you too) is good for the soul.

But if we all did an unsolicited good deed for the day - helping old ladies across the road (never done that but everyone says it happens!) looking out for the elderly neighbour, doing a spot of shopping for them in bad weather, giving someone a lift to the hospital for an appointment, cutting the grass when they're ill, sitting and listening for ten minutes, doing a kindness for a stranger: "you've left your lights on your car," or "you've got your dress tucked into the back of your knickers," that sort of thing, actually for me would probably make a bigger difference to our society as a whole.

What do you think?

Chat soon


Saturday, 15 January 2011

Is Anyone Out There?

My youngest is back at university so a late trip to Liverpool last night saw him deposited back at flat. He took with him enough provisions for an army and we have been teaching him to cook over the Christmas holidays so there was an additional trip to ASDA in Liverpool before our return. His Nan also baked him a chocolate cake to take with him - lucky lad - that won't last long!

The day has been a busy one domestically, while my wife has been doing the ironing, I've tidied the downstairs of the house, washed the car (inside and out), been shopping, cleaned the kitchen, swept the drive of leaves and I'm cooking the tea shortly. I'm knackered - how do women do this all the time, run the family and hold down a job - can I go on a course?

Good customer service is a fundamental part of a successful business. You don't need to be in business to realise that. My mobile phone, you may remember was given a swimming lesson a couple of weeks ago. My fault - completely. The phone went back to the shop and they sent it away through the insurance cover and gave me a courtesy phone. When I got a new phone back last Saturday (my old one was irreparable) the SIM card kept coming back as 'inactive.' A friendly helpful man on the end of the helpline sent me a new SIM card. That didn't work either. I tried the SIM in an old phone and it worked. Therefore the new replacement phone must be faulty.

This morning we took my phone back to the shop where a young male assistant who had clearly seen his arse that morning dealt with us begrudgingly and with no interpersonal communications ability at all. As an aside after he took my phone off me asked as an afterthought if we required a courtesy phone. We said we did. He gave me an all singing all dancing touch phone which is miles ahead of my fairly simplistic phone (it makes calls and texts using a keypad - old fashioned I know). He made no attempt to show us how it worked, 'look it up on the Internet' he said. When asked if he could transfer my contacts, he said he couldn't - did he mean it wasn't possible or didn't he have the skills?

The shop was Vodafone in King Edward Street in Hull. I've never had a problem with Vodafone before. Never in all the many years I've had a Vodafone provided mobile, either connectivity or service. This miserable rude little twat does nothing to inspire confidence.

I am running a paranormal investigation tonight at a building in Hull which stands upon a site which goes back to an original building in 1694. I'll let you know how it goes.

Despite that lateness of the hour when we returned last night, my middle lad was in garden looking at the moon through our new telescope. What an extraordinary site when you can see the craters clearly and the shadows they create, it gives me a shiver. I did try to take a photograph through the lens but without success. I need to practise.

Here's a handful of aliens jokes:

Did you hear about the man who was captured by alien teddy-bears?
He had a close encounter of the furred kind.

What do you get if you cross a Martian with a golf score?
A little green bogey (yuk!)

What do you call a spaceship with a fault air-conditioning unit?
A frying saucer.

(I like this one) What do you call an overweight ET?
An Extra Cholesterol.

Chat soon


Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Time for Sober Reflection

My Healing Box.

Rain and 10 degrees plus today in a winter turnaround on the weather. Most of the mucky ice mounds are almost gone. Mucky weather reflecting the mucky things that are going on in some parts of the world today.

A colleague of mine is in intensive care through having contracted swine flu which got worse when pneumonia set in. It was touch and go I understand but I am delighted although he is still not well, he's moved to high dependency so he's on the mend - thank goodness.

A distressing news item tonight as a mother of a dead three year old little Birmingham (UK) girl who succumbed to swine flu asks a question why a jab worth just a few pounds couldn't have been given when she had asked for it and says that she could be alive today. I can't start to begin to imagine what that family is going through but my thoughts are with them tonight.

My thoughts are also with the people of the great country of Australia in and around Brisbane. 12 dead and over 50 missing according to news reports after a once in a hundred year natural event. For families whose whole life is overturned from normality their life will never, ever be the same again - it's the stuff of nightmares.

It's at times like this that any remaining faith people have is sorely tested. For religiously minded people, and there are a few who read this; I wonder how they approach this when asked (as I asked when I was a child to my parents in events of death and destruction) why does God allow this to happen. Please don't answer, and I have no explanations to offer either - I was never given a satisfactory answer.

The power of nature is beyond the wit of mankind. How can this kind of event be prevented or even mitigated against when the event is so widespread and catastrophic and so rare and unpredictable?

Of course it can't.

We have to live with it and the authorities can only do so much to prevent it; their expertise comes in in the aftermath - to protect and help the best they can with the resources they have - I wish them a great deal of luck. The public rely on them and need them.

A sombre blog to write tonight but felt I had to say what I am feeling. The realism of life brings one firmly back to earth.

I was given a gift yesterday, a little ornamental and decorated wooden box. This was on the occasion of my first anniversary of my Reiki qualification and was given to me by Maureen, my Reiki Master. This is my healing box. In it will go small pieces of paper with names of those people who need distance healing - healing for perhaps mental stress, physical discomfort and trauma - for those who need well-being or those who need to change their ways to be more positive to the vulnerable.

Tonight, there will be some more pieces of paper placed carefully in the box prior to my meditation.

Even if you don't pray, believe in God or a greater being, please send your thoughts to those who are suffering.

Chat soon


Friday, 7 January 2011

Ladies and Gentlemen, Start your Engines...

Now, according to an old saying (it's not mine, don't blame me!) a Yorkshireman is like a Scotsman, but with the generosity gene removed. I'm not tight with the old filthy lucre at all, but I have to say that after discussing the price of fuel today at work it suddenly dawned on me or I consciously came to realise that diesel is £1.26 a litre (1.47 Euros or $1.97US).

I guess I've never taken more than a passing interest on fuel price because I have to drive the car, I have no choice (poor or totally impractical public transport), so I just put fuel in when I need it.

Now being in my fifties, I have a certain amount of memory installed somewhere in the old grey matter and sometimes it is difficult to retrieve, but I do recall that when I had my very first car, an old green Ford Escort Popular in 1975 (three forward gears and windscreen wipers that slowed down the faster you went) petrol was sold by the gallon (4.5 litres) and the cost of four star petrol then, although I'm fairly certain the car took three star petrol, was 55 pence a gallon or 0.64 Euros which was just 12 pence a litre. Hmmmmm

On the 1st January 2011 the duty rate (tax that goes to the UK Government for doing absolutely nothing) for the main road fuels went up to up to 58.95p per litre, roughly 46% tax.

I have determined that although the route is not in a straight line by any means, I am going to walk the five miles to and the five miles back from work when the weather gets warmer and drier; I don't trust myself or other road users enough to get on a bike. The days of going out for a Sunday drive will surely be a thing of the past before too long - something that I thoroughly enjoyed doing in the dim and distant past.

Some of the cars we use at work use Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) which is now getting quite expensive too although the economy is better, but the availability of LPG fuel at garages is hit and miss. The electric car is, or will be too expensive (we will be paying for research and development for years through the retail price) and again, recharging points are like rocking horse droppings.

I think the odds on a general election in the UK by September 2011 of around 5/1 is worth a tenner of anyone's money. I just can't see the public putting up with it for a lot longer.

It's a while since I did a list, so here's something for the weekend:

You can tell it's going to be a bad day when*:
  • You wake up and your water bed has broken and then you remember you don't own a water bed;
  • You put both contact lenses in one eye;
  • You put your bra on backwards and it fits better;
  • Your twin sister forgets your birthday;
  • Your birthday cake collapses with the weight of candles;
  • You find a TV news team waiting in your office;
  • You find the Yellow Pages open at 'Hit men;'
  • You wake up in the morning naked in front of your workmates;
  • Your blind date turns out to be your ex-wife;
  • Your wife wakes up in an amorous mood and you have a headache!
Chat soon

*Thanks to Geoff Tibballs

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

There's a moose, loose aboot this hoose

I've got a mouser in the house.

My male cat brought in what I thought was a leaf tonight about 8.10 pm. Until that was, the leaf decided to run under the settee disguised as mouse. No amount of hunting could find it so I settled down to continue watching TV

Half an hour later, I saw this mouse run across the skirting board behind the television. The nearest thing to hand was a sleeping female cat so I promptly and unceremoniously dumped her behind the television with strict instructions to catch it. She equally as promptly began to wash herself and ignored me and the mouse completely.

When the programme finished at 9 pm, my wife put both cats round the television and started moving things about which drove out the mouse into the waiting sharp eyed path of the female cat who pounced and caught it in a millisecond. The male cat sat stock still, bemused by the whole fast moving drama.

The mouse did not survive the incident. We are used to mice. We've had several over the years but not had any for about two years, so having successfully rid the house of mice, I was cheesed off (excuse the pun) to say the least that the plaything the male cat brought in was going to be a source of annoyance until we caught it. .

"Hoots mon, there's a moose, loose aboot this hoose*" Roughly translated: 'Dear me my good fellow, we seem to have a small rodent of the genus Mus musculus meandering with gay abandon within our domicile.'

*Thanks to Lord Rockingham's Xi

Chat soon

Ta ra
picture from Wikipedia

Monday, 3 January 2011

Leaves Return

I thought autumn had officially gone. Nope. In fact, I made a glib remark on my blog back on the 1st December (was it really that far back) that when it had first started to snow that the white stuff had prevented me from picking up the leaves. It's pay back time. My Bank Holiday Monday has been spent in part, raking leaves from a frozen but greenish looking lawn and sweeping the paths and drive. I've filled a council recycling bin!

I found this fungus growing on a log in the garden and as far as I can tell, it's a Laccaria Laccata, which, despite it's name is a common woodland fungus.

I've noticed that the weight of the snow has snapped a branch from a Ceoanthus tree (bright blue flowers in a spring) which has destroyed the shape completely a pruning job with the saw for next weekend. Other than that, the garden doesn't look too bad. I've lost two fish from my big pond; one had been caught high up and had been frozen and another had got itself trapped behind a basket which looks as if it's been moved by the expanding ice. I've heard this morning from my brother in law that a friend of his who has lost a huge number of big fish in his pond due to the weather - so sad.

Mucky mounds of ice still hang around the verges and daytime temperatures have only just reached 1 degree plus today. Still, it's only January.

My wife has just returned from the council civic amenities site and had to queue for ages - it was packed. Our Christmas decorations such as they were have been taken down, house tidied and a few bottles and cardboard taken to the tip. She went the supermarket after that and that was heaving and she gave up going to B&Q, the traffic queue to get in the car park was horrendous - the shops have only been shut for a day! Back to work tomorrow.

Chat soon


Saturday, 1 January 2011


I wish all the visitors to this site a happy, safe and prosperous New Year for 2011.

No New Year's resolutions this year. Last year's were mostly met in full or in substantial part, so quite successful. I'm going to do something slightly different this year and do some Cosmic Ordering.

There have also been some (relatively minor) disasters or where things have not gone to plan quite in 2010, so there's going to be a re-evaluation of me as an individual and what I want to get out of life. I've been misunderstood on one occasion (despite me being quite clear), had my trust in another dented both of which have given me a slight dip in confidence. Perhaps a more careful look at situations and perhaps follow the old advice, 'look before you leap.'

Although the New Year has started badly already with news of prison riots, floods of biblical proportions and fatal bombings, I guess because my glass is generally half full, I remain as optimistic as I can be despite the trauma of public sector cuts in the UK for the next four years. The optimism is more personal than global I have to admit, but 99% of the world is NOT made up of criminals, terrorists or anarchists and believe in the good of people to come through.

I was delighted to have seen the New Year's celebrations take place around the world on the television news and heard the fireworks and celebrations going on around where I live. This gives people the 'feel-good' factor and whilst not cheap, gives cheer and pleasure to many.

New Years eve parties when I was young were family affairs, usually at my Aunt Marjory's house. They were always full of party games, a buffet and drinks. They were great fun and I look back at them with much fondness. I haven't been to a New Years eve party, except one at my brother in laws a few years ago since I was probably 20. A long time ago.

I met the bloke who invented crosswords today. I can't remember his name, it was 'P' something, 'T' something, something something...

Chat soon