Thursday, 31 May 2007

Secret of success

I just listened to a snippet of a radio programme with Tim Smith - the man behind the Eden project in Cornwall.

He has achieved something amazing against the odds and the programme was seeking to find the secret to his success. I quite liked a couple of his thoughts and thought I'd share them with you.

Firstly he talks about future truths, which is another way of describing lying.

He says that you are far less likely to achieve your goals if you use language like 'I hope to...', or 'I want to...'. He has operated his life by saying things like 'I am going to build the Eden project' when he didn't know whether it was possible, or 'We have got the financial backing for the project' when he didn't.

He describes these as future truths because they are things that he wants to be true and if they are spoken they create such internal shame because they are a lie, that there is an imperative to make it true.

And the other thing I liked was the Tinkerbell principle. This is the principle that if you tell enough people something is true, then it becomes reality.

Wednesday, 30 May 2007

Weird dreams

I had a weird dream last night. It was weird for a number of reasons.

I rarely remember dreams.

There were a strange combination of people in this dream: a friend, someone who was my manager years ago and Tony Blair.

The reason I was in the dream was strange: I was attending an event and my entry had been arranged by my friend on the basis that I would provide after dinner entertainment - singing. I can't sing, at all.

It was quite a posh do and I sat down to dinner with my ex manager and Tony Blair. I was bluffing my way through why I was there and I was increasingly nervous because I knew I couldn't sing and I didn't know where my friend was.

After dinner I was at the bar with my friend who was calming me down, and reassuring me that everything would be fine.

I know that one isn't supposed to die in dreams and I think this is true. My dream stopped before I had to sing, because if I had, I'd have died from embarrassment.

Pimms o'clock

You don't want to know about Mel getting drunk do you? You do? Ok then.

It was our turn to provide the evening meal on Sunday night. As I've already explained this was the wettest Spring Bank Holiday on record. So when we were considering which culinery delight to prepare for our friends we had to factor in the heavy rain and blustery winds. So fish and chips it was then, from the chippy around the corner from the campsite.

So as Dave was dispatched to do the hunter gatherer piece, we started drinking. Boys started on beer and the girls started on Pimms. As part of the over the top packing for camping I had made sure we had a huge jug and six large glasses. Sandra had made sure we had the cucumber and fruit although I think we omitted the mint. We have a history of Pimms while camping.

Fish and chips came, were eaten and thus disappeared, as did more beer and Pimms.

At some point the children were bundled into their beds.

I was so tired that I was the first to turn in at about 10:30. Sandra followed, which left Mel drinking with the boys, which is how she came to finish off the Pimms bottle.

Which is why she was feeling a bit iffy at five in the morning. Which is why she was washing and cleaning her tent until about seven in the morning. Oops. Gary was unimpressed and poor Mel ended up doing laundry and cleaning for most of the day.

Restoring decorum

We packed a lot for our little camping sojourn.

A Galaxy is a huge vehicle. We had three seats folded flat and the car was loaded to the roof.

The gazebo (bought because I thought it might rain) was a lifesaver. It might weigh 23 kilos and be about five foot long when packed, but it coped admirably with the light rain and the side panels protected us from the cold wind.

When the rain turned nasty, and trust me it did, the gazebo leaked like a sieve. As we were dining beneath it at the time, we needed a quick fix. We all started thinking, which was a challenge as we'd started on beer and Pimms.

I remembered we'd also packed a huge plastic tarpaulin (6m x 4m). So the next ten minutes were spent fixing a sheet of plastic over the gazebo, thus restoring decorum.

Tuesday, 29 May 2007

Did I?

Did I see the weather forecast? Yes.

Did I hatch an avoidance plan? Yes.

Did we actually go camping during the wettest Spring Bank Holiday on record? Yes. (OK, I might have lied about the wettest bank holiday ever, but I might not...)

Did I enjoy myself? Yes, but don't tell Sandra.

Don't misunderstand me. It wasn't quite the weekend I had envisaged.

Saturday, 26 May 2007


We're still going camping. And the weather forecast is grim.

We're doomed.

Friday, 25 May 2007

Mrs Grumpy

OK, car is half packed for camping.

I am a bit grumpy. Would be grumpier if hadn't had a few glasses of wine.

Have you seen the weather forecast? I'd be better off pitching the bloody tent in the back garden.

I phoned Mel to suggest alternative based in more waterproof accommodation, i.e. our houses. I was thinking we could still spend time together, just without the camping piece. The kids could do sleepovers and we could find indoor activities. Mel was a walkover, persuaded in five secs flat.

I phoned Sandra and she was immovable, intransigent and plain bloody stubborn. She's promised the kids a camping holiday and she's not got the gumption to provide them with an alternative.

Well if she's not backing down, I'm damned if I am, but Mel is because I did my sales pitch. The agreed wisdom is that we'll bail on Sunday.

Sunday's weather forecast is - thunderstorms.


Thursday, 24 May 2007

Pictures of drunk people

Chris is telling Fee how important he is...

and how big he the Ford Universe.

Vish and Dirk's evening had a rocky start....

But after a few beers, things started to improve and Dirk relaxed.

But for Vish, Dirk wasn't the only fish in the sea. He also had Rachel in his sights.....

And someone cruelly made Vish beg for beer.....

Then promptly felt guilty.....
Gareth had an interesting night which started very seriously.....
Then he got into the spirit of things.
I had clearly been drinking too much....
It was then that I saw the light...
And realised it was time to go home.
On the way home Gareth found himself travelling home with Jez and some other drunkards who were texting his twin brother.....

and Chris, who had been practising his Roger Moore all evening.

Someone told him it was a good impression.

And then Gareth got off the train at the wrong station. This was my fault, apparently.

An apology

I'm sorry.

I apologise unreservedly.

I was rude and I said far too many things that shouldn't have been said.

In my defence, I was, and am, poorly.

I had lots of water and nurofen last night, and again this morning. I think there's a mismatch between the size of my brain and the size of my head, or that's what it feels like anyway. Maybe I should ask the doctor.

Anyway, I want to have lots of recuperative sleep but Hannah is too poorly for school so in my weak and feeble state I will be looking after two kiddiwinks today, one more than the usual allocation.


You know the work thing with the football and beer? I think I may have had too much of the latter.

Tuesday, 22 May 2007

NHS reform

I think most people, mainly women, should be given the opportunity to go through the programme 'How to Look Good Naked'.

Firstly Gok Wan, the presenter, seems like a nice person to spend a few days with but mainly the process gives women confidence without cosmetic surgery.

There are shows like 'Ten Years Younger' who claim manage to reduce someones perceived age, based on appearance, but, in my opinion, they cheat because they use cosmetic surgery, cosmetic dental work and botox.

Gok just takes women who feel unhappy with their body and he just encourages them to take care of their appearance, wear clothes that accentuate the positive and, most importantly, he encourages women to view their bodies with a different mindset.

It's such a positive programme, although I think if it becomes widely available the programme could dispense with the cameras.

I know too many women who aren't happy with the tummy, or boobs, or bum, or thighs, or knees, or ankles, or arms, or neck. And the irony is that most of these women have other women who envy them. If they had the Gok treatment they'd be happier people. It's just such an easy thing and it could improve people's quality of life. I reckon it could reduce the anti-depressants prescribed by doctors which brings me to the killer idea:
Gok on the NHS. I'll be first up to the doctor looking for a referral.

Monday, 21 May 2007

Pandora's box

Have I told you about I don't think I have. How remiss of me.

You have Karen to thank for this. She and I were trading web finds, and Pandora is a little gem.

To explain Pandora I would have to start by pointing you in the direction of the Human Genome Project.

Part of the aim of the Human Genome Project is to "characterise the nature, distribution and evolution of genetic variation in humans and other organisms."

Well imagine if someone did that for music. Imagine if someone were to characterise the nature, evolution and variation in music.

That's why Pandora calls itself the Music Genome Project. It generates radio stations based on the music you tell it you like. It looks at the music you tell it you like and finds music with similar characteristics.

I've only just started playing with Pandora but it is fun and I recommend you play too. Enjoy.

Sunday, 20 May 2007


I can't remember when it happened, and I can't remember where. But at some point in the last few years I lost my binoculars.

I don't need binoculars. But I have got a pair, and sometimes I want to know where they are.

And in the last few years, whenever I've tried to find them, they haven't been there, or here, or under the bed, or in the loft, or in the tallboy, or in the dresser, or anywhere.

And every time I can't find them it drives me mad. I think primarily because I keep looking in the same places and not finding them.

I'm now thinking I've lent them to someone. And forgotten who. And that drives me mad because I keep doing that too - lending people stuff and forgetting about it.

I know Andy Dougherty has got a book of mine, has had for the last five years. I mentioned it to him a couple of years ago and he said "Do you need it?" and I had to say "No." Because I don't need it, but I would like to read it. But want and need are very different and maybe his need is greater, so he still has it.

Anyway, the point is I want my binoculars. So if anyone out there has any psychic powers, please point me in the right direction.

Oh and for the smart alecks out there I don't need to be told "It's in the last place you'll look." or asked "Do you remember when you had it last?"

Canvassing erection opinion

It's camping time again. Next weekend we will be off to Sandwich to spend a few days under canvas, except these days it isn't canvas, it's probably nylon.

I do remember the good old days of real canvas and thought that the "Don't touch the tent!" when the tent was wet, only applied in old fashioned tents. It doesn't. Even modern tents should not be touched when wet. This is why we had the tent out of its bag today.

Last Spring bank holiday was a wet one. We were in Rendlesham forest and we spent one day under a gazebo watching the children making mud pies.

We discovered that when the water pools on the tent it drips through to the inside. I'm sure even the non campers among you will appreciate that this is not desirable. So today we waterproofed the tent, although the nice man in Millets did tell me we'll still get the drip problem with pooling water.

The other thing I thought today was "This tent is a nightmare to erect for the uninitiated." Which is OK for us because we're not camping virgins, but my boss is.

Brendan (boss) is borrowing our tent later this year. He anticipates that this first foray into the world of tent pegs and sleeping bags will be a disaster. I have, until now, assured him he'll enjoy the experience. Having re-evaluated the complexity of tent erection, I think I'll have to come clean and warn him to expect a nightmare. What do you think, should I leave him in the dark or enlighten him?

Small tits

I peeked into the bird box and discovered we have five tiny baby blue tits.

Sydney can't wait for them to start flying lessons.

Saturday, 19 May 2007

Fireman on dope

There's no smoke without fire, or something.

Friday, 18 May 2007

I think not

Did the nightmare logistics party.

Hats off to the mum who did this one. She went to a lot of effort.

The theme was Cinderella.

There was a fireplace where Cinders swept, a coach, a rat, six mice, a pumpkin and a grandfather clock. These all looked a bit like props stolen from a pantomime.

This wasn't the bit that was beyond the call of duty though.

was beyond the call of duty. Dressing up as a Fairy Godmother. Father was also roped in and dressed up as Prince Charming. Hannah can be seen dressed as Snow White to the right of the Fairy Godmother.

Mel reckoned Dave I would be willing to do something like that.

I think not.

Thursday, 17 May 2007

I dare you

Looking good for your age? Go on, click here. I dare you.

A talent for it

I was just about to call Ethan to get ready to leave the house to collect Hannah from school, when the phone rang.

It rang off just before I got to it. I looked at the number and it was Brendan.

I thought I could call back and start talking and if the conversation was going to be a long one I could continue it en route to the school.

At this point I hadn't thought about how I would get Ethan downstairs and get him in the buggy whilst on the phone but that's probably because I didn't think it would be a problem.

Well almost as soon as Brendan picked up, Ethan appeared.

He had done a poo in his nappy, which was only apparent because he had half pulled down his trousers and pull up nappy. Bear in mind this is happening while I'm on the phone to my boss.

So phone on shoulder I attempt to fix the poo. At this point I think moving Ethan to where the nappies are makes sense. So I encourage him to waddle, trousers round ankles, towards the nappies while I'm having a grown up adult work conversation with Brendan.

When Ethan has waddled to where I want him to be I realise there aren't any wipes there, but there are 'botty wipes'. For the uninitiated, botty wipes are a Pampers invention. They are moist pieces of substantial toilet paper. It helps children who are becoming independent using the toilet on their own. They are flushable, but they lack the substance of baby wipes.

For the quantity of poo I needed to shift, I needed wipes. As Ethan had pulled his nappy down, its contents had spread over his legs - nice.

In order to get the wipes I'd have to go upstairs, and I couldn't risk Ethan trying to follow me. Imagine it, trousers and nappy round ankles, poo everywhere, climbing stairs, over carpet. No, couldn't risk it.

So I was removing vast pooage, doing the best I could, using moist toilet paper, and conducting a mental risk assessment whilst talking to my boss.

I can even remember what the conversation was about.

I think this might be why people think women are good at multi-tasking.

Wednesday, 16 May 2007

Cheap date

There's a work thing happening next Weds evening.

The Marketing team have been invited down to the ad agency for a shindig and I've thrown the invitation out to a few others as well.

The evening will have a small amount of work, followed by beer, football and intelligent conversation. It's being based around the UEFA Champions League Final.

I like beer, I don't like football and I lied about the intelligent conversation.

On that basis, I will be participating.

Tuesday, 15 May 2007

Call the harassment hotline!

Stefan was complaining today that he'd got the arsehole card. He was whinging that everyone was picking on him, especially me.

He had a point.

But, and I know his girlfriend will read this, I remember when I first encountered Stefan.

Karen sat next to me in the office and this German guy kept coming over and being really rude to her. I asked he who he was, because he was so rude. She told me he wasn't as bad as he seemed.

She was right actually, but I still think he's a bit of a bully. :)

I haven't seen Stefan for ages and, frankly, I think he's missed me.

I think he was complaining today because there were times when he was trying to be nice and I was not reciprocating. Or I wasn't responding in a way he appreciated.

Either way I'm not entirely sure my reaction, to the bullying accusation, "call the harrassment hotline and see if I care" was the most politically correct. Oh dear.

Actually I think he doth complain too much and he likes being the centre of attention.

Monday, 14 May 2007

Complicated social life

Hannah has been invited to a party after school on Friday. The party girl is the daughter of a couple who attended the same ante natal classes that Dave and I attended.

The ante natal crew used to meet regularly pre and post babies being born. Some of us are still in touch. I go belly dancing with two of the mums, well one actually because Sandra never turns up.

Contact with this one family though is sketchy, sort of Christmas and maybe once a year in the summer.

So a party after school on a Friday when Hannah's invited and Ethan isn't, poses a problem, especially when the party is an hours drive away.

I declined, on Hannah's behalf. My reason was that I couldn't find a babysitter for Ethan.

I then talk to a belly dancing ex ante natal friend whose daughter has accepted their invitation. She doesn't want her daughter to go to the party knowing none of the other guests and she wants Hannah to go.

She offers to take Hannah but, logistically, this is a nightmare.

Anyway, I then talk to another friend and she tells me that she'd look after Ethan.

This is all very kind but the party is 4:30 'til 6:30 and with an hour of travel home this means this isn't really feasible given Ethan's bedtime is 7:00.

The the party girl's mum calls and tells me Ethan is welcome, he just wasn't on the invitation.
So Hannah is now going.

This means bundling Hannah and Ethan in a car after school on Friday, driving for an hour, changing Hannah into party dress, listening to another entertainer for a couple of hours, then driving two very, very tired children home. They'll probably skip a bath as they'll be home after 7:30 and Dave's out of the town on Friday night so I'll be handling bedtime solo.

So for Hannah and Ethan it'll be quick wash, brush teeth, change into pyjamas and then to bed about an hour after bedtime.

For me it'll be an open bottle of wine and me falling asleep on the sofa in front of Jonathan Ross.

Sunday, 13 May 2007

Sexual stereotypes

On the other hand, we went bike shopping today. We have birthdays for both children in the next couple of months.

Hannah is now getting a girly purple bike for her birthday.

Ethan is now getting a manly blue bike for his birthday.

Doing your own thing

Last weekend Hannah went to a party dressed as Darth Vadar.

This weekend she went to a party dressed as a pirate.

I like to think I'm encouraging her to challenge sexual stereotypes.

In reality she's just doing her own thing.


I forgot that yesterday while I had just nipped into town I also had two keys cut.

Two keys for the front door, £8.70 for both.
Because I keep promising Mel a spare set of keys for the house.

So items I went into town to buy - £3.09
Items I didn't plan to buy - £52.06

Double oops.

Saturday, 12 May 2007

I nipped out to the shops

I nipped into town today to get a couple of things I'd forgotten in the main shop yesterday.

This is what I came back with:

8 a pack of birthday cards for girls, £3.00
Because Hannah and Ethan have lots of birthdays in the next few weeks. I would have bought some for boys but there weren't any.

5 packs of 5 parachute men, 99p each
Pack of stencil rulers, £1.49
2 packs of 20 gel pens with a notebook, £1.99 each
Because I need party bag gifts for Hannah and Ethan's parties.

4 packs of Jumbo chalks, 99p each
For pavement art activity at Hannah and Ethan's parties.

2 mugs, £1.49 each
Because they matched the shape of ones we've already got and they had a similar design.

A towelling poncho with a shark design on it, £4.00
Because when I wrap a towel round Ethan after his swimming lesson it always falls off and he gets cold and the towel gets soaked on the wet floor.

2 egg and spoon race kits, £6.00 each
For parties again.

Orange squash, 99p
One of the items I forgot.

2 packs of 10 Max strength cold and flu remedy, £1.05 each
Something I'd forgotten and because I'm feeling grotty. I would have bought three but boy on the checkout wouldn't let me. I did explain that if I was going to commit suicide I wouldn't choose Sainsbury's own brand Lemsip. We then got into a conversation about jumping in front of trains. I thought it was a very inconsiderate way to end things. Apart from the sheer inconvenience there's the guilt that one inflicts upon the driver. Apparently trains used to have 'things' on the front to move bodies out of the way and it used to reduce injury. Checkout boy's dad used to drive trains so I was talking to an expert.

Fire blanket, £9.00
Because my tumble dryer late night episode and my habit of leaving grill and hob on make me think it's probably a good idea. Oh, and it was reduced from £12.00.

So items I went into town to buy - £3.09
Items I didn't plan to buy - £43.36


Friday, 11 May 2007

It's a fair cop

I was caught today.

I decided to do the Sainsbury shop today rather than our usual Saturday morning.

The car park was bursting at the seams and I saw the potential for car park rage. Instead of succumbing to mindless violence I parked in non space.

Can I point out I was not parked in a disabled space, nor was I impeding either the flow or manoeuvrability of traffic and other vehicles. And I'd bought a ticket.

Just before loading the car with purchases I noticed a soggy piece of paper under the windscreen wiper. It warned me I'd parked in a non space and that was against the rules.

I mentally cursed the fact that there weren't enough spaces and what was I supposed to do anyway and should I put myself at risk by potentially being a victim of car park rage and and and. And actually I knew it was wrong but I had just spent £90 in the shop.

A man in uniform approached. "Uh oh." I thought. "A lecture is about to be delivered."

Tricky one really because I knew I was in the wrong, but nobody like to be told that. And actually we had more of a chat then anything, agreeing that if Sainsbury really wanted to sort the problem, there were better ways than slamming customers with £50 penalty notices, something due to start in the next couple of weeks.

I guess the solution, because the car park is a nightmare for most of the week when its practical for me to get there, is to be more organised and shop online with Tesco or Ocado. Why not Sainsbury online? Well we tried that but we didn't consider 30% of our order being substituted to be acceptable.

But the irony is that when supermarkets do deliver to us, they park on a double yellow line.

Thursday, 10 May 2007

An open letter

Dear Mr Sky,

Your Sky box and dish have once again failed to provide a continuously good picture, breaking up every five seconds with pixelation and a frozen image, sometimes with no image at all.

We have paid for visits by service engineers in the past and they have provided a fix that, as is evident by the current lack of service, has been temporary.

We called to discuss potential remedies just the other night. You kept us waiting on hold for 40 minutes and after fruitless routines (that can also be found on your website) you advised us the only solution was a service call.

The cost of the service call would be £65 and would guarantee work for a mere three months.

In addition to the problems with quality of service I also resent the way that the service you offer increase by beyond anything close to the rate of inflation.

I'm sure you think you have us over a barrel. We don't have access to cable so if we want a wide variety of channels we have no choice.

Well you're wrong.

We don't watch much TV and we think you provide really poor value and service for the money you charge.

We will not be held hostage by such a greedy corporate monster that has zero regard for customer service.

On Monday I ordered a Freeview box. It arrived today. It took 5 minutes to install and cost a mere £40. The picture it delivers is vastly superior to the poor quality you have served up.

As a result we will be cancelling and in summary - "Ner ner ne ner ne!"

Yours sincerely,

Mrs Smug of Brentwood

Wednesday, 9 May 2007

Bye bye Blair

If it were anyone else, then I could get excited about Blair's departure.

I know the world's media are setting up camp to record his resignation speech but frankly - I'm not bothered.

I have got to the stage where I can't bear to listen to the painful hesitant staccato of his spoken voice. I don't like being able to file and paint my nails in between the words of his sentences. I don't file and paint my nails during this time - I'm just annoyed that I could. I feel he's wasting my time.

Just talk more quickly Mr Blair and I might be bothered to listen.

I hate Sky

And I don't mean the blue, grey or cloudy stuff, nor the band from the seventies, nor the unfortunate children named by new age or hippy parents.

No I mean the corporate monstrosity that purports to provide satellite television.

They kept Dave waiting on hold for 40 minutes last night. 40 minutes. That's outrageous.

I feel this subject has legs and will run, and run.

We're in the middle of something. There was a beginning and there will be an end. More later.

Tuesday, 8 May 2007

A slur on my good character

I received an e-mail at work today. It advised me that I hadn't completed a compulsory piece of training.

I was shocked that I could have been so inattentive and I was curious to know which training course I had omitted.

It transpired it was an online course from the team that brought us Integrity Training not so long ago.

It was when I saw the title of the course that my face went bright red and steam started to vent furiously from my ears.

Anti-bribery training!

How insulting! Surely indicating that I must complete this training is a slur on my good character. Maybe I should sue for defamation.

Anyway, after I vented my disquiet to the poor devils who were in the office today (mainly Tracey), I just got on with taking the course because if you don't then the thought police hound you for an eternity, and start sending snotty e-mails to your boss and then your boss's boss. Compliance really is easier.

It was then that I became really offended.

The course was based on some noncey American legislation about not bribing government officials. There was nothing in the course about bribing anyone else.

So my take out was - bribe whoever you like provided they aren't a government official.

I'm shocked that my company endorses bribery of people who aren't government officials.

That's my official line although in reality I recognise it happens all the time. Generally though it's called 'entertainment' and can be billed to an expenses budget.

Monday, 7 May 2007

Advertise this

OK, a bit of fun. Visit this site and type whatever you like into the word box, hit 'Sloganize' and it will generate a slogan.

Very childish, quite amusing.

A good day to sort things

Today we were going to have a picnic. A civilised affair at a local park was what we planned. A fine dining experience that afforded the children some fresh air and exercise via bicycle and scooter.

Anyway, the heavens opened today so we chickened out. Everyone piled into our house instead. Oh, and the fine cuisine was actually normal picnic food (who was I kidding).
So while it chucked it down the children trashed the house and the adults did what we do well, talked rubbish.

But from the chat came some good. All of the women have recently been left at home with the children while husbands have gone away for trips with the lads. We decided we needed to even the score, a bit. So we have chosen a weekend and a destination, and 'the girls' will be going away for a spa weekend.

The men realised it's been a while since they've gone out together and become completely legless under the guise of a brewery tour, or similar. There was agreement to sort something out, fairly soon, and a venue was selected.

Sunday, 6 May 2007

Hot trifle

I've been asked for this recipe and it just seemed as easy to blog it as e-mail it. And for the record, it's a doddle to do and it tastes yummy, sort of a warm trifle - but that really doesn't do it justice.

Hot trifle, sort of.

You will need:

Large shallow oven dish

150g of white choc (this tends to be sold in 200g bars - your choice whether to bung the extra into the recipe or scoff it yourself.)
300g fresh raspberries (frozen can be used just increase cooking time by 5 mins)
480g brioche bread (loaves tend to be 400g and you can get away with that)
500g creme fraiche
1/2 tsp vanilla essence (the real deal, not flavouring)
2 oz caster sugar (although I used raw cane organic or whatever sugar is to hand)
3 eggs
1 tbsp plain flour (I doubt self raising flour would be disasterous)
Icing sugar for decoration

Turn oven on to 200oC or 180oC for a fan oven

Chop the choc into little bits. Messy chopping is fine and by little I mean little finger nail size +/- 50% ish.
Rip the brioche bread into cubes between 1 and 2 inches square - ish.
Put a layer in the dish of half of the torn brioche, half of the raspberries, half of the choc.
Do another layer.
Put the following in a bowl: caster sugar, flour, eggs, vanilla, creme fraiche. Whisk it up until it's thoroughly mixed and whizzed.
Pour and spoon carefully over the brioche, choc and raspberries trying to cover it all (doesn't matter if you miss a bit or two).
Bung in the oven for 30-35 mins.
Cool slightly and then sprinkle on enough icing sugar to make it look pretty.


Accept the inevitable compliments. :)


There is a phrase 'What goes around comes around'.

It was pertinent to my experience in Sainsbury today, albeit there's been a bit of timewarp somewhere along the way.

My trip to Sainsbury today was a so called top up shop. It's termed that by the supermarket marketeers. Customers are expected to do the main weekly shop and then do top ups in between times.

Yesterday I did the main weekly shop. Today I did the first top up shop which was actually a 'buying the things I forgot to buy yesterday' shop. Actually today's bill was greater than yesterday's which says not a lot for my memory. I'd like to say I was just buying all the stuff that Sainsbury had failed to stock yesterday. But that would be a big fat lie.

So at the checkout I'm 'doing my bit' by reusing carrier bags, and when the polite checkout assistant asks if I'd like help with my packing, I decline, politely. And that's where the fun begins, and where I also get my comuppance.

I set myself a challenge to pack the bags at least as quickly as the cashier send items down the conveyor belt. I'm sure of any of you do this then you'll the kind of things to do to make this more achieveable.

Firstly you have to place things on the pre-cashier conveyor belt in groups of things you want to pack together. Every now and again it helps to intersperse the items with some fruit or beg that need weighing or increased handling or processing time, just to stem the flow a little. This is something that's difficult for me as most of our fruit and veg comes from the local farm shop.

Anyway this game is a lot harder for the customer than it used to be because cashiers process items much more quickly with barcodes than they used to in the good old days when items were marked with a price label.

And this is where comuppance comes into it.

Years ago, when I was 16 (so that's a fair few years ago), I worked on the checkout in a shop (Share drugstores) that was the precursor of Superdrug. All modesty aside, I was good at my job. There were some things that I always did.

I always treated children like they were very important customers. I always called them Sir or Madam and talked directly to them, rather than their parents. I was very polite and always offered to pack the customer's bags. But if the customer said they didn't want help then I took that as a challenge. I tried to pile up the shopping for them to pack as quickly as I possibly could. My aim was to beat the customer, ring all of the shopping into the till and then help the customer with the mountain of shopping that had accumulated.

And I was good. I was quick, the quickest checkout girl in Newton Abbot.

And today it occured to me that the young man handling my shopping might very well be playing the game 'Beat the customer' in the same way that I did.

Saturday, 5 May 2007

Party season

Hannah had a brthday party to attend today. Neither Dave or I wanted to go, and I think that Hannah is still at the age when the parents hang around 'just in case'.

To decide who would take her I asked "Hannah, who do you want to take you to Jack's party?"

I could have predicted the "Daddy!" response.

I knew Dave knows the other parents even less than I do so I tried to persuade Hannah that I should take her. She wouldn't succumb. I then persuaded Dave that he should try and escape.

Hannah wasn't agreeing to that either.

So Dave took Hannah and stayed.

It was a party in a hall with an entertainer, which seems to be the norm. Apparently Skittleman is very good, which explains his lack of availability. His entire year seems to get booked in about February.

Hannah did enjoy herself, and, unusually, Dave did too. I say unusually because these events are run for the children and not the adults. The fact that the entertainer sought to involve the grown ups is unusual.

This was Hannah's first party of the year. It gave me a read on the number of children to invite, the type of entertainment expected, and the party bag standard

I need to start thinking about dates. Unlike the rest of Brentwood I didn't plan this in February. But then I won't be using a hall or an entertainer. Our garden is just about big enough and I'm sure I can think up some silly games that will entertain. I might even call it a 'Good old fashioned party with jelly and ice cream (for the non vegetarians and those without a dairy intolerance)'.

Bad mother!

Friday, 4 May 2007

Geeky stuff

You might like It looks really cool and seriously addictive but I don't know anyone on it - yet.

It's sort of a mixture of blogging and SMS.

If you fancy it - invite me. I'd like to dip my toe in the water.

Blue Tit safety

I'm concerned for the safety of the Blue Tits.

Sydney (cat) has taken to sitting on the wall near the birdbox (as above), or sometimes on the apex of the shed roof.

Thursday, 3 May 2007


Forgive me talking about the children again but...

Hannah came home today talking about work she'd done at school in PowerPoint.

She asked me to open up PowerPoint on the PC at home.

She then proceeded to create her own presentation with words of her own and pictures pulled in from clip art.


I was, and am, gobsmacked.

Lady of leisure

Today I lived like a lady of leisure, well sort of.

I had to do the usual of getting everyone out of the house at 8:30 ready with packed lunch, unsnotty noses and looking vaguely presentable and of course I had to get myself ready to leave the house, looking vaguely presentable (this is usually more of a challenge than getting the children sorted).

Then it was back to the house and tidy up the chaos and debris in the kitchen. Part of the mess was just the aftershock of breakfast but part of it was accumulated stuff from a few days of dumping stuff on worktops instead of putting it where it belongs.

Then it was off to Tumble Tots (mini assault course for mini terrorists/hooligans/little angels). Well it was Mel's suggestion at Tumble Tots that lead me astray. She said "Fancy lunch in town?" and quite frankly I did fancy lunch in town.

On days when I'm at home with Ethan lunch is 'at home' or otherwise in someone else's home. I never go out for lunch.

So we wandered up to the High Street and found ourselves in Cafe Uno. And when the waiter asked me what I wanted to drink I just couldn't stop myself from asking for a white wine spritzer. And when he asked me what dessert I wanted, it had to be chocolate. And when he asked me if I wanted another drink I had to say yes because I'd enjoyed the first one so much.

Now most people can cope with two glasses of wine at one sitting but it makes me a bit squiffy.

Mel came back to our house and Olivia and Ethan played nicely in the garden and Mel and I had a coffee: Mel because she wanted a coffee, me because I needed a bit of sobering up.

Anyway, I sort of imagined that in my squiffy state I was a bit like a lady of leisure.

But reality has begun to set in as I've done the school run and Hannah is home. The children are arguing, I didn't finish this morning's tidying and they'll want their tea soon which means more mess. Dave'll be home later and disappearing off to the gym which means I'm cooking, which means more mess and less sitting down.

At least the weather is gorgeous now and the effects of wine are still evident.

Wednesday, 2 May 2007

Men are from Mars...

I went to a seminar today which discussed the difference between men and women.

Now I know there are some fairly obvious differences, but this particular presentation was about website preferences.

Before seeing the presentation I considered I might just be told that men prefer porn and women prefer shopping (and please don't rant about my stereotyping).

Actually the presentation was done by folk from Glamorgan University who had done research about what kind of websites the two sexes design and build and, as a follow up, learning about which website designs the sexes prefer.

Allow me to summarise:

Men build sites that have few colours, lots of straight lines, lots of positive, assertive, technical copy and a design that is very traditional.

Women build sites with lots of colour, few straight lines, friendly, cosy copy and a design that is likely to differ from website design norms.

And men prefer sites designed by men, women prefer sites designed by women.

So the answer, when you're trying to please men and women with your website, is to have it designed by men and women.

Tuesday, 1 May 2007

Should I?

So I've been invited on a jolly. I'm not the only one, so have a few others in the department. The thing is, I think I'm the only one who might accept, which puts me in an awkward situation.

The invitation:

XXX company's crew is pleased to invite you to join us for a day's sailing on the Solent, one of the best sailing spots in the country. The Solent will provide the perfect setting for a day of cruising and racing on the waters, soaking up the beautiful views, and indulging in good food and fine wine when we anchor up for a delicious, leisurely lunch.

Departure: 10am
Estimated return to marina: 6pm

Please RVSP. Full details will follow on receipt of your acceptance.
We very much hope you'll be able to join us for what promises to be an immensely enjoyable day!

Now I know that Tracey and Brendan will also have received invites. Neither likes being on the water and will decline.

Well I'm no sailor either, despite being in a sailing club when younger and going out in Wayfarers out of Brixham harbour on numerous weekends, but this day is a work day. What would you choose: work or a day on the Solent? For me it seems to be a no-brainer.

This company isn't trying to sell me anything as we already have a contract in place. The people I've met in the team seem like people I could easily spend a day with but I feel guilty about accepting the invitation.

Tracey works more closely with this company and Brendan's the boss. I'm invited to make up the numbers, I think.

So I feel a bit guilty because it would just be a jolly. There would be no work, and it is a work day and I'm pretty sure the company doesn't pay me to have fun. This would be one third of my working week.

I don't quite know where this puritanical streak comes from and I'd quite like to eradicate it. I've never been comfortable with corporate hospitality even when I was providing the hospitality. It's all just too contrived.

So should I accept? I know I'd be daft not to but I'd also have to live with this awkward guilt feeling.