Thursday, 31 July 2008

Ugly and green

I went to the Motorshow yesterday and had a good look around.

Why is it that Toyota believes that "green" cars should be ugly?

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Don't drink and talk

OK this evening I started by drinking a few gins, and that's where the problems started.

The problems finished when I had too much gin and figured I needed to walk home from the station so I might have time to sober up before getting home.

I know I talk too much generally but I talk way too much when drunk.

Monday, 28 July 2008

Old timer

I went to a 40th birthday party at the weekend and met up with some people from my school, all turned or turning 40.

Check out this motley crew:

Sunday, 27 July 2008

I'd be lost without...

I'd be lost without my satnav.

Well this is a lie. This weekend I have proved I can survive without the aid of that particular gadget.

I bought a nav unit and its first real test was this weekend, an extended weekend in Devon. It's an area I know reasonably well but I knew that the traffic could be testing and thought it might be useful.

Well it didn't help me avoid any of the traffic on the way down, so my journey down on Thursday was a bad six hours.

On the Friday I used the nav while we went to Teignmouth to a park and lunch followed by the best ice cream in the world (sold at the Beachcomber on Teignmouth sea front), then through Shaldon for some raspberry picking in Netherton. After this, I put the satnav away.

Friday evening was a dash to get the children fed, washed and in bed as quickly as possible which proved difficult because they want to mess around and play with their cousins. I was on a mission though and left the children in bed, being read to in time to meet a school friend that I hadn't seen for 22 years.

After we'd helped to piece together one another's memories and catch up on a lot that has happened in the intervening years, we picked Dave up from the train station. Three beers for Dave later we dropped Debbie back at her house and we headed back to my brother's house.

The next morning I wanted the satnav. I looked everywhere, and I mean everywhere. I explained that this always happens to me; I lose stuff and then it just turns up.

Dave looked everywhere. Later in the day Ian (my brother) looked everywhere. I knew where it should have been - under the driver seat. I looked there during the day about 15 times. Dave and Ian both checked there and the rest of the car.

I was furious; angry with myself. We called the fruit picking place in Netherton - nothing. I sent Debbie a message - nothing. I called the police (and got an answerphone) - nothing.

The next day we still hadn't found it. We discussed house insurance, credit card purchase protection and I lost it.

We arrived home and unpacked. I was looking for the telephone number for the credit card people and Dave walked in with the satnav unit.

It had been under the driver seat. Exactly where I'd put it and exactly where we'd all looked lots of times.

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

We're all going to die

What is it about adults on a plane?

Today as we descended into Southend I thought I was going to die.

I'm used to turbulence, but this wasn't turbulence, it was a nutter at the controls.

We sped up, we slowed down, we banked, we dived. The landing gear was dropped and sounded like it had fallen off.

I stole a look around at my fellow passengers and not one looked scared. So I tried to look un-phased too but I really did think I might die.

Was everybody else thinking the same, but trying to look cool, or were other people genuinely OK about the whole situation?

Monday, 21 July 2008

Coals to Newcastle

I am going to be taking sausages to Germany tomorrow.

Do you know how difficult it is to find out whether that is permissable?

I checked the Southend airport website - no information.

I phoned Southend airport and got rather tangled up in their switchboard.

I checked the BAA website which recommended checking the DEFRA website. The only vaguely useful bit of that website was the "Ask Hilary Benn" link but I considered this question a bit beneath a Member of Parliament.

I checked the website for the company that owns Southend airport and phoned the only telephone number I could find. A nice and highly amused lady answered. She was intrigued and promised to investigate.

Later I was called by someone, with what I imagined to be a pilot's voice (very definitely wearing a uniform), from Southend airport who explained that taking sausages out of the country was completely permissable. He was unable to comment on the rules pertaining to the importing of sausages into Germany though. I thought this might be a stumbling block but then he cheerfully volunteered the information that bags are not checked upon arrival in Cologne.

He said that I must walk through German Customs looking very innocent, which I explained was very difficult because even when I am innocent that environment makes me feel and appear guilty. He said that if I were to get caught then my sausages would be confiscated and that would be that, but on the whole he thought I'd be able to get away with it.

Sunday, 20 July 2008

Sugar Daddy?

Ethan's birthday yesterday, Ethan's birthday party today.

He opened presents that arrived by post yesterday, and the ones from partygoers today. But there is a problem.

One present (a rather excellent Batmobile with sounds, lights and working missiles) arrived, addressed to Ethan but with no note or card. So we have no idea who sent it.

The only clue we have was the post office label with postcode of the sender: IP3. I think this is Ipswich and I don't know anyone in Ipswich. I didn't think Ethan did either. Unless he has a Sugar Daddy.

Saturday, 19 July 2008

Ah bless!

So last night we spent hours assembling Ethan's trampoline. Is it too late to admit that Dave did all the difficult bits and I made the tea? Well it wasn't quite like that, but almost.

Anyway, it meant that for most of the evening we were in the back garden.

When we went upstairs later in the evening we saw this:

Allow me to translate:

Plese get me some water. Then bring it back! Hannah

We thought that was quite sweet. We also thought that the poor little thing could have been gasping for water and suffering because she couldn't find us. Fortunately she was fine, and ended up with two lots of water as Dave and I sought fit to oblige.

Ah, bless!

Friday, 18 July 2008


Ethan wants a trampoline for his birthday and he's convinced it's going to happen.

He's gone to bed tonight expecting that tomorrow it will have arrived.

He's right. Which is irritating in a way.

He hasn't seen it delivered and me lugging the 93 kilos into the garage.

He hasn't seen Dave and I spending three hours this evening assembling the stupid thing.

He just has faith that his mum and dad will deliver. It is this that allows me to forgive the irritation.

Thursday, 17 July 2008

What women really want

Imagine the scene.

A woman has spent all day entertaining, feeding, cleaning and tidying up after her children. She is exhausted. Her husband walks in after a day in the office and she says "Am I glad to see you, I'm so tired. They've been really hard work today."

He says "Well why don't you get a job?"

What he is doing is trying to fix the problem. What she wanted was a little bit of support and understanding.

Imagine the scene.

A man has had a tough day in the office. A promotion that he was sure would be his, has gone to someone else.

He arrives home in contemplative mood and isn't very talkative. His wife says "Did you have a good day darling."

"OK." he says with a sigh.

"Are you sure?" she says "You seem down."

"I'm fine." he says as he walks away from her upstairs.

She follows him "Is there anything I can do?"

"I'm fine." he replies with more than a note of irritation.

What she is trying to do is empathise because, correctly, she has sensed that her husband has something troubling him. What he wanted was a bit of time and space to come to terms with what happened during the day, on his own.

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

I couldn't better this

I saw today's Gaping Void cartoon, and couldn't better it.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008


So I've linked the phone to the sat nav via Bluetooth....and that's where the problems begin.

For the whole of today I've been wound up a treat by my phone. Every call I've tried to make has been a disaster. I dial, or answer the phone, and the person on the other end can't hear me and I can't hear them.

I did notice late this afternoon that there was a little headphone symbol on the phone which told me what the problem was but not why. The phone is channelling all sound through the headphone jack.

A phone reboot solved the problem.

I think, because the sat nav can work to channel phone calls and texts via Bluetooth, the phone is confused and thinks it needs to channel stuff through the headphone jack, except it doesn't have that confusion when it uses the Bluetooth in the car.

I must be doing something wrong. Any ideas folks?

Monday, 14 July 2008

My mate Tom

My new sat nav Tom was delivered today and I've had fun playing around with it.

It's got a whole bunch of features I never knew I needed. I'm not sure I'll discover all of its treasures because it's all a bit complicated.

I think it'll get it's first proper outing when I go to Devon next week. I admit to being a bit excited about having a new toy to play with.

Sunday, 13 July 2008


Hannah participated in a gymnastics competition today.

I know what you're thinking - "pushy parents".

Well I'd disagree. Hannah does gymnastics every Saturday morning. It's my way of playing catch up because we don't have the same time that other children have after school because of my working hours. I see it as a bit of fun that might help her co-ordination and confidence. The competition was also a bit of fun organised by the girls that run the Saturday gymnastics sessions.

Hannah didn't have a special outfit for the competition (unlike some of her competitors) but she did have her family there to support her, even though not everyone was there willingly.

Ethan did not want to go to the competition at all but he settled down a bit when we told him to concentrate on Hannah and gave him something to do when she was having her turn (clap like crazy and shout "Go Hannah! Go Hannah!")

He didn't contain his vocal enthusiasm for just supporting Hannah.

In the middle of one little girl's routine the audience were very quiet, except for Ethan, who could be heard across the hall "She's not very good is she?"

Well he was right, she wasn't.

Saturday, 12 July 2008

Triple ouch

Ethan had his pre-school immunisations yesterday.

The note I received just said he needed to be offered Tetanus Booster 1, Polio Booster 1, Pert Booster 1, MMR2, Dip Booster 1 and Hib Catch-up.

Tetanus and Polio are self-explanatory. MMR is the controversial Measles, Mumps and Rubella triple vaccine.

Pert refers to pertussis which means whooping cough.

Dip refers to diptheria.

Hib is Haemophilus influenzae type b. Apparently Haemophilus influenzae type b can lead to diseases like septicaemia, meningitis and pneumonia which are quite serious.

This sounds like a major assault on a three year old's body and it translated into three injections.

Ethan doesn't like going to the doctor's surgery and he's old enough to know that vaccination means needle. It was long enough since the last injection though that I think he'd forgotten how much pain this would mean.

The first injection in the left arm resulted in a wince and then Ethan knew exactly what was going on.

The second injection produced tears, but his response to third was a stiff upper lip.

Aside from the obvious immunisation against disease he was rewarded with three dips into the sweetie jar and a sticker.

Oh, and the effects of the MMR (possible rash and cold symptoms) may kick in in seven days, just in time for Ethan's birthday and party.


Girls, at dinner, comparing the less than average aspects of their respective men.
  • One makes jam and had a "jam off" with a colleague at work today (and lost).
  • One watches Battlestar Gallactica.
  • One plays ping pong at an international level.
  • One drinks Vimto and Vimto alone at home.
  • One records cookery programmes (almost obsessively), searches for the associated recipes but doesn't do any cooking.

Thursday, 10 July 2008

Boing boing

So I ordered a trampoline today for Ethan's birthday. I've gone for small but not tiny, mainly because I want to fit it into the garden somewhere but not on grass. If it were to go on grass we'd have no lawn left.

So now, in order to fit the trampoline into the space I've mentally set aside, we need to hack some branches off a conifer, up to a height of about 12 foot. Ideally I'd get the tree removed as it's big and ugly and adds no value but Dave likes trees too much to get it ripped out.

I did think about calling in the tree surgeons anyway and seeing if he noticed. I honestly think it would be about a month before he realised it was gone. It's taller than our house but blends in with tall laurels behind it.

Maybe I could arrange for it to be removed, and when he asks me what happened I can feign a lack of knowledge and suggest it must have been stolen. Doing this and maintaining a straight face, or even faking a shocked expression, would be a challenge but then I did study drama...

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

A cup of tea solves everything

I'm the last person (OK girl) that people would expect to see crying at work.

I shout, swear and laugh my way out of situations. I don't cry. Crying is generally perceived as a weakness (not by me I hasten to add) and, if I'm right, most people don't perceive me as weak.

Today they were wrong.

And I didn't just lose it quietly. Most women who feel tears pricking their eyes head straight for the privacy of the toilets.

I lost control of my emotions in a meeting and at my desk.

Does this change anything?

It means that a few people have seen a bit more of the real me. It's made me understand that maybe I'm stressed, but the stress won't change. It's made me realise that I do care about my job and that I take it all too personally.

I also learned something about support, and who provides it, and who withholds it.

Oh, and a cup of tea solves everything.

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Say no to 0870

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;

Our Sky box wasn't playing nicely this evening. We pressed the remote control button lots of times. We pressed the Power button several times. I gave up and watched the cached Dr Who on the PC (what a blindingly fabulous episode). Dave came home and wanted to phone Sky.

There are many things that irritate me about Sky (extortionate pricing, a monopoly in Brentwood, poor service, I could go on...) but the biggest of all is the fact they make a profit on the telephone calls into customer service. That's just mean.

But I happen to know about a neat little website:

And this is the number we used to bypass the 0870 telephone number: 01506 421825.

You still have to wait for an interminably long time. You still have no idea how long you'll have to wait. You still have to interact with annoying numbered menu systems. You'll still end up with a company drone that gives you duff advice.

But you won't be paying a fortune for the privilege.

It made me feel a tiny bit better about the whole experience, but I still hate Sky.

Monday, 7 July 2008

Lock 'em up

I shan't be voting Conservative in the next election.

Want to know why?

Because toff Cameron would have had me locked up for my behaviour today. And I'm not joking, and neither is he.

Sunday, 6 July 2008

DooYoo? Ciao!

I wanted to buy a small electrical appliance today. Well two actually.

In the good old days I would have visited a couple of shops, looked at the products available and maybe checked a relevant magazine for reviews.

These days we look online. And I checked Amazon (doesn't everyone) and there wasn't enough information.

I looked further and checked a raft of other sites promising customer reviews. Again there wasn't enough information.

I saw a review for the product I was replacing and it was positive. Given this product had just failed me and I was replacing it, I decided to leave a review.

Review sites are a bit "use it or lose it." If you don't leave reviews how can you expect to find reviews when you need them.

So DooYoo? Ciao!

Saturday, 5 July 2008

Cooking up a storm

Yesterday I had a problem that needed solving.

I had invited two friends and their children over for lunch. The problem I had was an empty fridge, with Mr Tesco scheduled to arrive in the evening.

I resorted to the freezer. Children first. Obviously not children in the freezer. That would be dangerous and illegal.

Well there was some frozen homemade macaroni cheese. What could I team with this? Well I found chips and meatballs and frozen sweetcorn. A bit of a strange combo but I have learned that children can be fickle beasts and a plate mash up gives enough variety that some morsel or another will be deemed attractive enough to provide some nutrition.

Now the grown ups. There were some previously created lasagnes and some frozen fancy foccacia.

And ice creams all round for pud.


My more than generous friends thought I'd gone to a lot of trouble because there were homemade things on offer.

I tried to explain that batch cooking means that actually it was no trouble at all, and really quite easy. What's more the remaining lasagne meant there was enough food to feed a hungry husband in the evening.

Friday, 4 July 2008


Just a note based on two women that I spied today.

If you are going to wear Spanx or Magic Knickers then cover them up!

One lady I saw today was wearing a pair of trousers that seemed to hang below a significant, but not substantial, stomach. She teamed this with a top that seemed to sit atop that same stomach. This did not come across as a good look but it was made significantly worse by the expanse of spandex that was traversing the flesh that was at risk of exposure.

Later I saw a lady who looked smart in jeans and a top. She was very well presented until she leaned forward to retrieve items from her handbag in a shop. The shop assistant both had a view of a large amount of stretchy fabric that was clearly there to hold it all in.

Now I don't know whether the exposed Spanx or Magic knickers was a better look than someone wearing more normal underwear that didn't have flesh controlling abilities. What I do know is that covered control underwear is better than exposed control underwear.

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Knowing ones future

Ethan and I were discussing his future today. It goes something like this:

Ethan's going to marry when he's 110 years old. He's going to marry a rude boy who doesn't say "pardon me, excuse me" when he farts.

This rude boy lives across the a huge ocean and we established that, more specifically he lives in New York.

Ethan is going to get a very speedy plane to get to New York and we thought that although Concorde has been mothballed that by the time Ethan is close to 110 there are likely to be supersonic aircraft once more. He will know the rude boy's house because it will be the first house that he finds. We did discuss using a boat as transport but decided it would be too slow.

Auntie Mel asked him about marrying a rude girl, but Ethan is set on the idea of the rude boy and would not be persuaded.

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Mummy's got a head like a

...sieve. That's what my children will tell you. And to an extent they are right but without writing it down I did remember, in addition to the regular daily things to remember, that Ethan's letter of the week at nursery is 'L' and found a lion for him to take in for the topic table.

I also remembered that it was Hannah's birthday assembly and she needed to take one of her birthday presents in to present during assembly.

Later I recalled it was Ethan's nursery keyworker's birthday and made a trip to a florist to order and later collect a bouquet of flowers that Ethan and Hannah were able to present in person.

I also reminded Dave that it's Hannah's summer concert tomorrow which I think had probably escaped his mind.

I know I have two birthday cards that need writing by Hannah in the morning before the first post at 8:30.

There are some birthday presents that need organising. Ethan's trampoline needs ordering and another present needs researching.

So I'm not very good at remembering things, but I'm not as bad as I'm portrayed.

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

The Office

This is a picture of the plant that sits at my desk.

It's not doing very well.
This was the view I had at lunchtime at the duckpond near the office.
Here the plants seem to be doing quite well.
I wonder if there is an analogy here.