Friday, 31 October 2014
Tuesday, 28 October 2014
Today was Bring Your Child To Work Day.
I imagine that there are some companies where that could be quite a dull affair. This is where working for an automotive giant has it's advantages.
Now if Hannah had shadowed Dave or me I'm pretty sure she would have found it rather boring but fortunately the Educational Outreach team organised a brilliant day.
Hannah's day included clay modelling vehicles in the Design showroom; a tour of the anechoic chamber (I'll let you look that up); checking out the NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) labs; the hot and cold testing rooms (including consumption of an ice lolly); something to do with one of the largest 3D printers in the world (who knew); a plastic moulding thingamabob; a canteen lunch including spotted dick and custard; a hot chocolate in Costa (my treat); checking out cobbles on the test track in a Transit; and what Hannah assures me was the best bit - zooming around the track in a Focus RS.
Hannah has now seen more of Ford Motor Company than I have. I'm officially jealous.
Monday, 27 October 2014
Tonight I was doing an online shop to arrive for later in the week.
The Tesco website kept crashing and throwing error pages at me left, right and centre.
I always, foolishly, assume that problems like that are my fault. I mean how can a major operator like Tesco who rely so heavily on the online shopper possibly have website issues?
I was blaming the Wifi, Apple, user error, in fact anything except Tesco. It took so much longer to do the shop than normal and was incredibly frustrating.
A conversation later with hubby meant I needed to change the time of the delivery.
Back onto the hideous website and I must have tried 50 times before quitting. The page I needed just would not load.
I cracked and called Tesco who took far longer than normal to answer the phone. I explained what I needed help with and they coughed to "systems problems" which were so bad that they couldn't help me and they suggested I try fixing things later. The IT team were "on it" and a resolution in an hour was likely.
I suggested that to avoid frustrating customers it might be a nice touch to for their IT team to pop a message on the website letting people know there are issues and recommending people come back later.
I got told that it wasn't the IT team that "put stuff on the website". So I told my obstreperous Tesco employee that I understood how web authoring worked and perhaps it would be an idea to get someone from the authoring team on the case.
I then said my goodbyes and noticed that the Grocer had awarded Tesco "Onine Supermarket of the Year". I took to Twitter and tweeted the Grocer's editor, Julia Glotz, and The Grocer's main account suggesting the award be rescinded.
Sunday, 26 October 2014
There are many ways that this could have been tackled:
- Scrap VAT on cars
- Remove VAT from fuel.
- Reduce fuel duty.
- Waive the VAT for driving lessons.
This saving is less than the cost of a driving lesson, estimated by the www.moneysupermarket.com in 2013 to be £24.
It's less than the cost of a tank of fuel.
I'm not convinced the Government was that serious about helping young people with the cost of motoring. If they were, they'd have tried a bit harder.
Saturday, 25 October 2014
The Sphero is a unique toy that children and adults will enjoy. It costs about £80 and you'll probably want to buy a "nubby" to protect it costing (an over-priced) £16 ish.
The recipient will need access to an iPod, smartphone or tablet to be able to operate it.
I'll leave you to Google it and find out more (try goshero.com). Purchases can be made in many places, but Amazon and Firebox probably deserve a mention.
You'd get more of a sales pitch if I was on commission.
Friday, 24 October 2014
It's our fault. It was in the terms and conditions, we just didn't realise. Well we did have a clue and never questioned the situation when it was advantageous for us, but now it's less advantageous we're having second thoughts.
Many of us get ourselves into financial arrangements and we all know it's important to check the terms and conditions.
I struggle a little with the fact that this situation has come as a big surprise to David Cameron. But it's OK because he got angry and said he wasn't going to pay by the December 1st deadline.
So, given that the Prime Minister can see fit to renege on an agreement and pretend he didn't understand the terms and conditions he was signing up to, does that mean we can all do that?
Can I turn around to my mortgage company and say "Naff off"?
No, I can't.
Cameron should set a good example. I'm appalled by his childish strop.
Thursday, 23 October 2014
Well the Government believe this incentive will increase the number of dementia patients who get a diagnosis.
Really? Does that mean that doctors aren't very good at their jobs?
That's a good question. I think it means the Government don't think doctors do a good job which isn't exactly the same thing as saying that doctors aren't very good at their jobs.
So, does the Government think that doctors don't know how to diagnose dementia?
Well if the Government thought that then one imagines the £5million budget reserved for this would be spent on training.
Good point. So does the Government think that doctors are just lazy and can't be bothered to diagnose dementia?
Difficult to say really what the Government thinks because this policy make no sense at all unless one assumes that doctors are so lazy that they need a £55 incentive to do their job.
OK, do we think doctors will fiddle the books and diagnose dementia amongst patients who don't have dementia?
Well I have a better opinion of doctors than that and I think they will just continue to do their jobs in the same way as the were in the last six months but with more money in their pay packets.
So you think this is just a waste of money?
Wednesday, 22 October 2014
Tuesday, 21 October 2014
Monday, 20 October 2014
Sunday, 19 October 2014
It's taken me a while to figure this out, which is why I'm sharing with you.
If you are a member of Essex libraries (and probably other library services) you can get free access to tons of magazines.
The first thing to do is go to the library website. For Essex it's here: http://www.essex.gov.uk/Libraries-Archives/Libraries/Pages/Essex-Libraries.aspx
Click on the magazines link, browse and log in - this is the bit where you need a library account. If your forgotten your password it's usually set as your six digit birthdate.
You then need a Zinio account which you create by clicking the Create Account button.
To read your magazines you'll need the Zinio app or you can read in the browser. Getting the app is easy on iPad and Android tablet but takes a bit more effort on a Kindle. You can view in browser on a laptop or desktop but a tablet is more magaziney.
On the Kindle you need to visit this url: http://imgs.zinio.com/faq/kindlefire.html#installation
Click to download and then you'll need to install it. To find the file you've downloaded you need to open a browser. On the left at the top of the screen there will be three horizontal bars. If you click on this you'll have the option to view downloads. Choose the zinio download and click it and choose install. Once installed you'll see it in the choices from your apps menu.
Once you have the app installed you can log in and access hundreds of magazines.
It's brilliant and it's free.
Saturday, 18 October 2014
Friday, 17 October 2014
Today was all about cryptography and required Pringles tubes. Pringles tubes we can do. Cryptography content was provided by the educational outreach chap from Bletchley Park, Tom, and an "old girl" in more than one sense. Mary used to go to Hannah's school but was also one of the amazing Bletchley Park team during the war.
My school days were never this exciting. Hannah says that not all of her school friends were as enthusiastic as she was but Hannah had a great time.
Hannah started by cracking codes but she also made an Enigma machine using paper and a Pringles tube, and she got to use a real Enigma machine.
Perhaps the most interesting part of the day though was listening to Mary talking about her recruitment from Oxford and the way she signed up to take part without having a clue what she was agreeing to. She even signed the Official Secrets Act before the nature of the work was disclosed to her.
I'd have liked school to be like this every day. It certainly beats cross country running across footpaths of Devon clay and History lessons with the bearded teacher with rancid body odour.
Thursday, 16 October 2014
I've previously set the privacy settings on these photos to be public. There's nothing I've uploaded that I'm not happy with anyone seeing.
Dave has recently started scanning photos from our pre-digital albums and I've been storing these on Flickr too.
There was some pictures of us at the beach from 20 years ago so I just checked with Dave that he was happy with the public privacy setting. He wasn't. In fact he wasn't happy with any photos I'd uploaded being publicly available.
I checked this statement. Even landscapes and pictures of buildings? Yes, even those.
These are our photos, they aren't mine or his. So I've felt that I've had to change the access to these photos; all of them.
I'm not happy. I think it's an overreaction. But I can't think of a way around it that keeps us both happy.
Wednesday, 15 October 2014
Sometimes everything works and I appear beautifully organised.
Today at 4:00pm Sainsbury called asking if they could deliver earlier than the booked 7-8pm slot.
My answer was that that was fine but I wouldn't be getting in until 5:15pm. Just as my caller was explaining that was OK, I stopped him to explain I'd be going out again at 5:45pm. He said he'd be outside at 5:15pm.
I got home at 5:00pm. Jacket potatoes were perfectly cooked having been put in the oven in the morning with the oven timer set to turn the oven off at 5:00pm. I heated up a filling, served it up on plates just as Hannah and Ethan walked in through the door at about 5:08pm.
The Sainsbury delivery driver rang the doorbell at 5:10pm. He said he was impressed at my organisation. He'd seen the children arrive two minutes earlier and now he could see them eating their dinner.
I put the shopping away, said goodbye to the delivery driver, got changed and walked Ethan to football practice which starts at 6:00pm.
I then walked home, cooked dinner, ate with Dave who arrived just before I served up.
I then left the house again to collect Ethan from football and brought him home so that he could shower and do his homework, due in tomorrow.
Next Wednesday though is a different story.
Tuesday, 14 October 2014
I like the Channel 4 series Obsessive Compulsive Cleaners. It teams people who tend towards Obsessive Compulsive Disorder behaviours with hoarders and people who either don't know how to, or can't be bothered to, clean their home.
These people are polar opposites and the premise for the show is that these two different people can enjoy a brief symbiotic relationship; the obsessive learns that letting go a little isn't disastrous and the hoarder learns that it is possible to de-clutter and clean house.
The pairings aren't always successful but often they are with both participants gaining from the experience.
It made me wonder whether there are other unusual bedfellows that might benefit from exposure to an opposite. The only one I could conjure was the mixture of an agoraphobic and claustrophobic. I wonder if there are others.
Monday, 13 October 2014
Sunday, 12 October 2014
Stuart recommended an app to help when choosing wine. I tested it over the weekend and am a fan.
The app is Vivano. It allows you to scan a wine bottle label and if it has details of the wine in its database then it'll tell you more than the label will.
You'll find out what should expect to pay for a bottle, whether it's deemed to be a good wine for that vineyard, region, country our indeed globally. You can add your own notes so that you remember where you bought the wine and you can see reviews by other people.
On Friday I scanned loads of bottles and came away with one white and one red bottle that were rated well at all levels. We've had the opportunity to try both bottles and, whilst I'm no expert, they were both excellent. So I recommend trying the app.
Saturday, 11 October 2014
Friday, 10 October 2014
- A loaf of brioche (400g)
- 3 eggs
- 3 tbsp caster sugar
- 1 cup milk (I used skimmed)
- 1 cup cream (I've used double and whipping but I'm sure single is fine too)
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- Large handful of raisins (or sultanas)
- Marsala wine (or sherry or port or whisky or brandy)
- Preheat oven to 180ºC fan oven.
- Soak raisins in your chosen booze.
- Slice and butter the brioche (you don't need to use butter, olive or sunflower spread is fine)
- Grease a large baking dish using butter or margarine or spread suitable for baking
- Pop the buttered brioche into the baking dish starting at one end overlapping the pieces so that the tops of the slices stand a little proud.
- In a bowl mix eggs, cream, milk, sugar and vanilla.
- Scatter the raisins over the brioche slices and any excess booze can be tipped over the top too.
- Pour the egg and cream mixture over your brioche.
- Bake for 30 mins.
Tuesday, 7 October 2014
Monday, 6 October 2014
We are doing the rounds of school open evenings and went to one recently that didn't make the best impression, unfortunately.
We arrived early and nipped into the IT department to kill time before the head teacher's speech.
There was no teacher around and when I started to look at a particular screen I was told by a pupil that it was the work of someone in Year 9.
The pupil left us to browse and Ethan and I started to critique the website that was on display.
Capital letters were not used where they should have been. Spelling was poor. Formatting was inconsistent. Grammar was incorrect. The overall look of the site was passable though. Although we were looking at the site together, I said what I was thinking, and I said it made me wonder about the school if they were presenting work of this standard.
Ethan has rejected this school based on this tiny insight into the school ethos. If they can't be bothered to correct these things on work that is being showcased during an open evening then can they really be bothered by anything?
It's a shame. We had a great experience in some of the other classrooms and there was some "newness" in the head teacher's speech that was interesting and innovative.
I have explained to Ethan that that particular piece of work being on display could be indicative of an inclusive environment, where everyone's contributions are valued and it isn't just the top percentage of students who get to see their work on display.
But appearances count.
Sunday, 5 October 2014
- 150g unsalted butter
- 150g granulated sugar (golden granulated our caster is also fine)
- 2 large eggs
- 1tsp vanilla extract (don't use that plastic essence stuff)
- 150g self raising flour (am sure gluten free works here)
- 150g ground almonds
- 6 tsp raspberry jam (may be easier to use a conserve that is less set)
- 150g fresh raspberries (I used frozen and think this was a mistake - see cooking time comment above)
- 50g flaked almonds (or fewer if you have fussy children)
- Preheat oven to 160ºC.
- Cream butter and sugar.
- Beat eggs and vanilla together then whisk into creamed mixture adding a bit of flour to prevent curdling.
- Fold in rest of flour and ground almonds (using a metal spoon). The mixture is diabolical at this stage and you will think you've made a mistake. Have faith, stick with it and when it finally combines as a cake mass then stop.
- Put just under half of the mixture in the cake/flan dish/tin.
- Add the jam trying to distribute evenly ish.
- Scatter a few raspberries.
- Try and put the remaining mixture on top. This isn't very easy. Do little bits at a time.
- Push the rest of the raspberries into the top and scatter with flaked almonds.
- Bake for 45 mins or until golden.
Saturday, 4 October 2014
Friday, 3 October 2014
Thursday, 2 October 2014
Wednesday, 1 October 2014
Tomorrow evening we were all set to go and look around a local secondary school. I say we, but actually I mean Ethan and I were.
This evening I reminded Dave about this, which meant he too became all set to visit the same local school.
Then Hannah announces that the tutor evening she mentioned a while ago is actually happening tomorrow, in the evening, at the same time as the open evening at the secondary school.
Well not quite at the same time, but there's a significant overlap.
So we had two places to be, at the same time.
We started to try and choose which activity had the highest priority. Then Dave decided that we both ought to look around the school.
The problem is that the school open evening started at 5:00 but Dave wouldn't get there until 5:45. The tutor evening started at 7:00 but was half an hour's drive from the open evening.
The final solution is a game of tag. I get to the open evening at 5:00 do the tour and then Dave and I will overlap for about 30 minutes and then I'll go to the tutor evening.