Friday, 31 December 2010

View of the past decade ... or passed decade?

2000. The Millennium. Creepy to think it was over 10 years ago now. But wasn't it COOL?

Everything in 99, and I mean absolutely everything you went shopping for back then had a name that ended "2000". The new Vax2000 - supercool. Windows 2000 - awwwwesome!
Today though, commercialism is all about egotism and narcissism - ipod, iphone, ieverything. YOU are the most important thing in today's times, so the iphenomenon works very well indeed.

Back then, everyone had these mental dreams about the new era - personal jetpacks, flying cars, immense computer storage that you could lose down the back of the sofa, touch screens... Although somewhat weirdly, come to think of it, they're already doing those, aren't they! That's food for thought...

I remember for many years thinking "Wow. I'm going to be FOURTEEN when the Millennium hits. That's SO OLD!" (Yes, it always had a capital M. It was THAT big a deal.) In the end, my Dad was going to bed early so I wound up watching the neighbour's fireworks across the estate by sitting on the windowsill of my bedroom - not much, but that was my 2000. His Lordship didn't fair too well either, having spent his trying to whip up enthusiasm at a rather wet gig - but everyone remembers where they were when the clock hit midnight!

Where did it all go?!

We'll not have another opportunity like that for a very, very long time.

Welcome to a whole new decade, people.

Saturday, 25 December 2010

HAPPY CHRISTMAS!

Hope you're having a wonderful day!
Mum, don't forget we're sneaking to His dad's with the Meerkat if you ring.
Will blog more when I'm done unwrapping my presents!
Eeeeeh!

Friday, 24 December 2010

Question...

Is it Christmas yet? Click HERE to find out.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Back On Board

It's distinctly cold, but rumour has it that it's warming up. I'm still not sure though, as last night it hit minus 10 and foggy; perfect weather for Ben and Jerry's apparently. My services as "lid remover" were required again. No problemo, there's a knack to stubborn Fairly Nuts tubs - you work around the edge and gently lever it off.
But this time instead of the lid prying off neatly, just the edge came off.

Hmm.

The delay in bloggage was due to His Lordship's Mother having been taken to hospital - her pancreas went screwy and shot her blood sugars through the roof, 27 instead of 5 normal. I'm pleased to say she's a LOT better than she was, as the fluid drain in her lung has done wonders and she's perky again.

I also confess we snuck in to see her, walking an hour each day even though His father didn't want us going in. I figured it wasn't fair for her to have a crummy birthday shut in the hospital with no presents. They've since shifted her to the local hospice and we'll nip in on Christmas Day too.

Whilst we were in the hospital, I found this on my inter-phone: self-sanitising door handles! These are genius, and I thought my Mum would love the idea, coming to the real world shortly. They have special UV emitters built in, that radiate along the handle when it's not being used, destroying the bacteria.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Holy QR Batman!

I've finally updated to the current century and got myself a smartphone. I always remember messing about with the Library's brand new touchscreen computer and thinking "My god, how COOL is THIS!?" ... and now I have one in my pocket. That's MAD. I quickly discovered what these things are too - these are QR's - Quick Recognition Barcodes. This particular one is coded especially to link into my blog - so if you ever need it and can't be bothered to type it into your phone with that fiddly keypad, use your barcode scanner to "grab" the page.


(Better yet, make one and email me it so I can have a look!)

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Returning...

The rest of our holiday involved dropping presents off to various family members (including visiting my father) and trying to deal with an overstuffed suitcase. My darling mummy has given us something MUHASSIVE which took up a fair spot of the room and weighed a flamin' ton. My wonderful grandparents on both sides have been trying to give us piles of stuff, including a large tin of Roses (which we shared), four different jars of preserves (plum, lemon marmalade, lemon curd and blackberry with apple) and a large loaf of plumbread, which did fit in my case because it was simply marvellous and we umm... ate half of it.

Getting home was interesting, but we got home at last. Most trains we managed to get a seat in one form or another and on EVERY train we got funny looks, hauling that huge Meerkat along with us. It's brilliant for clearing people out of your way though; you sort of run at them with this overgrown plush toy, and people leap to avoid you.

Alexandr did have a lovely natter with a lady in a green hat on the Bath train, and it cheered up a few people on their journey.

Today's Quote: "Woke up fully clothed and my shoes with a bed full of Ritz crackers. Feels like a bottle of Jager has takern a dump between my ears." - Gandy.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Momentary Delay. Normal Service Soon.

Bear with me. Blog to come. Been a bit insane here. Will update soon.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Custard, Crisps, Carrots and Chihuahuas.

Learned some fun things today.
We all know humans are lateral, and tend to "prefer" one side to the other when it comes to things like writing, walking etc. Your eyes are also lateral, with the brain preferring to take information primarily from one and back it up with the other for the binocular vision. Try it at home - overlap your hands and line your thumbs together. This will create a triangular space. Hold your hands up and "capture" an object in it, a doorhandle, whatever. Close one eye, then the other to discover which one your brain likes best!

We also learned that drinking custard through a straw is not as fun as you'd originally think. According to my brother, you risk "yellow burps" and it tends to go a bit ... thin if you keep blowing bubbles in it. Mmmm, slimy?!

Yesterday we discovered it's possible to drink enough to muddle up where you live and seriously confuse taxi drivers (me), and also to get the hiccups so badly that the resulting dry heaves sound like the toilet failing to flush (him). We drank one for each person whom was unable to get here due to the weather and illnesses - but we DID find our favouritist crisps IN THE WORLD! DB Cash & Carry (01472 313200) stock the Sizzling King Prawn McCoys that we adore - I'm hoping to be able to call them and get them to post a big box to us!

If you fuss a chihuahua with his favourite toy enough, he'll fly around the house like there's a bug up his backside.

We also found that it's possible to convince my stepfather (a very clever man, but NO common sense!) that goatse is a fashionably trimmed beard, and that Bukakke is a cooking style. I would pay to see him Google that. For the safety of your own eyes, please don't. Mum says: "I'm waiting to spring Tub Boy on him at some point." Yuh, that's muh mummah for ya.


Today's Quote: "To err is human, to blame it on someone else shows management potential."- Z.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Crazy for Cats?

We have had some awesome cat names in our family over the years. In fairness, they've been pretty darn awesome cats too. To name a few, there's been:

Bracket the supercat.
Pegleg, three legs.
Rusty, seven-note musical purrer.
Topaz, AKA Psycho. Yeah.
Trigger (won't answer to his name).
Pippa the very lucky tabby.
Charlie, lover of old straws.
Foxy, later renamed Keg on Legs.
Life Of Riley: walked in, never left.
Black'n'Blue did the same. Wouldn't go home again.
Poppy whom loved being pushed round in a pram.
Marcus the duster and prowler of the stairway.
Tuxedo the catnip addict.
And Boycey, the literally astounding cat.

And so it really, REALLY annoys me when people call their new cat "Tigger" or "Whiskers" - things like that. That poor cat has to live with that name. There's no surprise many cats get up and move into someone else's house - it's to escape the horrors of "Fluffy." If I have a cat, I will call him Rover. Or Seafur.

They've also started working out why a cat can drink so tidily - well, most cats. Dogs curl their tongues and make a cup; cats curl theirs backwards and touch the surface of the water so that the surface tension sticks a layer of itself to the tongue and then the cat reels it in. Another recently discovered interesting cat's tongue fact: its genetics have a missing blip, meaning they don't detect sweet - which would explain why cats are nuts about marmite. They like strong flavours, but don't care about sweet because they can't taste it!

On the other hand, it's a good job WE like sweet, because Nan and Grandad Cats sent us home with FOUR different types of jam, including my beloved Cathair and Lemon Curd. Mmmmm! They're still insisting that we get the moggies as our inheritance...

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Snow Carrot...

Having had an early night, we woke to discover an even thicker layer of snow. Tsammy ran to the window and looked out at the bizarre, white world we'd brought him to; Kyle quite sensibly sat on her hot water bottle, watching it all from the comfort of the sofa. When Tsam kicked off a fuss and tried to annoy Kyle, we hooked him up to his lead and took him outside.

He was light enough to perch safely on top of the snow surface, though he did quickly discover it was giving him a chilly patch on his belly! A quick look around, and he decided as there was no mysterious white stuff under the plant pots, it was likely to be warmer there. It wasn't, so we took him back in and plonked him on his hot water bottle in his favourite bookcase to reheat.

Meanwhile, His Lordship and I threw our ages to the wind and ran around cobbing snowballs and building THE BIGGEST SNOW CARROT. It was going to be a snowman when we finished, but darkness fell, so we left it at an impressive 8 feet 3 inches snow carrot. In the long run, the temperature started to rise and the snow turned into ice, putting the kibosh on rounding out our snowman. My sister's one sort of slumped sideways like it was sick...

I did try to take an icicle off the side of the greenhouse, but it turned out the slightly warmer insides had melted the underside of the snow - and it promptly slid off the edge. It was VERY heavy. He was laughing at me trying not to drop it, so after the third picture, I threw it at Him. Very satisfying! (I'll load it on another blog later.)

We also tried out some Transvasin heat rub, as he'd hurt his shoulder shovelling. I can honestly say, that stuff REALLY works. I mean, REALLY. I put a bit on the back of his aching legs too, and sat across him to give his back a good knead... and discovered my backside slowly setting on fire. Lo and behold, I looked somewhat akin to a baboon! His back slowly turned sunburnt pink, and we both agree it's very similar to having a hefty dose of the slapsies, but less painful. Red, hot, slightly stingy... but it's set his shoulder back to normal and given me the most wonderfully warm hands for once. (More info HERE.)

Reynaudser's, take note: it's a massive circulation booster and warms your fingers right through! ("Itchy legs! But not like a normal itch.")

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Terrible Trains Too...

It was about 10 to 5 that we wandered up onto the platform, to discover that the waiting room had been gutted and was closed. The platform cafe was also closed, and there weren't even toilets, so we stood and froze our backsides off, happily chuntering "only 20 minutes, only 19 minutes, only..." you get the picture.

Then the time started sliding up. "Only 1 minute to go. Only 1 minute to go. Only 1 minute to go. Oh, hang on... We've had this three times now..." The platform redirected, so a hundred or so people (including us with all our bags) made a manic dash from platform 2B over to 7. Lo and behold, a train pulled up and we all leapt on in. Hallelujah, warmth! Until we were all booted off again five minutes later. Platform change - 2B. His lordship was NOT amused, as he had the suitcase and none of the lifts were working. Stairs all the way...

So we all ran back from platform 7, a hundred or so people, back to platform 2B. And there, the signs went mental. Cancelled No Alternative Transport, then Hull Platform 2A. Cleethorpes Platform 2B. Then Cancelled No Alternative Transport again. Several dozen people went off up the stairs (I assume to the info station to find out what the hell was going on) leaving just us and a handful of people baffled, waiting there to see if the signs would start to say something sensible.

And then a train pulled up. The same damn train we were just booted off on platform 7. We shrugged and climbed on anyway, and it pulled away - presumably leaving many people behind. "This train is arriving at Sheffield. It terminates at... Sheffield." We all looked at each other and shrugged, as it was clearly LEAVING Sheffield. It skipped and skittered along the icy rail. "This train is destined for Sheffield, calling at..." We pulled into Meadowhall, where a group of similarily befuddled people got on - the signs there had also gone mental.

Pulling away from the station, I had to laugh, as two minutes down the line the announcement went "We are approaching Meadowhall. Please remember to take all your personal possessions when you alight from the train. This train is approaching Meadowhall." ... We just left there! His Lordship worked out what had happened: trains had been coming TO Sheffield, but the line FROM was badly iced over. The last one to Sheff had finished at about 4.30ish - so we were going back DOWN the same line the wrong way and the automatic pickups on the track were reading out the announcements.

We eventually got to a snow-laden Grimsby, thank goodness!

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Sucky Service...

Well, that was a true lesson in farce. It's a damn good job I'm completely obsessive and over-prepare for every eventuality really. This morning, I was awake precisely two minutes before my alarm went off and the TV switched on. I grabbed the lappy and checked the times - the 7am train was cancelled, but there was an alternative route at 9.30, so I called the taxi and rearranged.

The first, second and third connections went without a hitch though there were no announcements or screen or station service at Pen Mill, yet there was all three at Castle Cary where absolutely NOTHING happens. A quick change onto the Sheffield, a pleasant journey with legroom to boot - all going a bit TOO well.

Lo and behold, the Cleethorpes route had been cancelled, leaving us stranded in the city. "There's no alternative service. The line has been closed for a week." Well, it would have been nice if either National Rail or Cross Country websites actually SAID THAT! They were all for telling us about the line closures on the 26th, but NOTHING for today, even though our route was redirected at 6 this morning?!?! WTF NR?

So here we are, sat in the magnificent metalworked station, Victorian iron scrolls supporting a huge, snowy glass roof, sipping hot drinks and profusely thanking the lovely, lovely staff at Caffe Ritazza. My hot chocolate is pretty good, and His Lordship's coffee, whilst not the finest in the world, is certainly a passable "cuppa joe". The dragons were intensely grateful, as the kind people here also refilled their hottie bottle. Special thanks to my Mum too, for my ridiculously long black snake scarf - some seven feet of woolen confection, and wraps perfectly twice round their basket twice to stop the icy breeze in the lobby whipping through the wicker. (Pic: Tom Ley.)

We packed about twice as much lunch as we needed to and of course I have brought my trusty laptop with me, so we're not short of anything. With a bit of luck there might be a train at about 5pm, but nothing's confirmed. Failing that, there's a Travelodge close by and hell, we're in the middle of a goddamn city. There's not going to be a shortage of stuff here, surely?

(Note: He's designed "coffee on a stick" by threading his stirrer through the cardboard hand protector round his cup. If it breaks, I'm going to be the first one to laugh when he gets tepid drink in his lap. It didn't break. Aww.)

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Something Delicate for Christmas.

Most Christmas trees are green, but this one is especially so; it's environmentally friendly! Sydney has taken the concept to a whole new level: building theirs out of 100 old biked donated by a local recycling company. The tires were given a multi-colored makeover to make them look like holiday lights! Even the "star" at the top of the tree is made of bicycle parts- look closely, and you'll see it's made of front forks and tires! (Pic: from here.)

I did spend far too much on baubles today by accident though. Oops... But I love baubles. As soon as they come out in the shop, I have to go and have a look. My first set of baubles for my very own Christmas Tree (gold and sparkly tree!) were in chocolate browns and golds. The second lot were in peacock greens and blues. The current ones are in startling fuchsia pinks and next years are emerald greens... Yes, I've bought most of next years already...

My tree is half-made too - but it IS the first of December. Some people are kooky over shoes, daffy over handbags, spend hours looking at jewellery - me, I like baubles. They're like jewels for my house that I can display for just a few weeks a year. I get to wrap them up with infinite care and store them safely away, to rediscover them next year. Wonderful!

I think it might actually be my Stepmother's fault - she was quite, quite strict about me not going near her tree because of the glass baubles, and I used to have to dry my hair with a hairdryer on the bottom step, right next to it (so she could make sure I did it properly. I've never owned a hairdryer since! :D). I'd be sat there in the cold hallway and it would sparkle in the dark - little clear bulbs reflecting in the clear glass icicles and balls. The fleeting nature and fragility appeal too...

That's why these wonderful pictures my Mum sent me have captivated my attentions - bubbles that froze over, caught with a macro lens. Oh, and this made me smile too; thanks go to Hanny for finding this wonderful little movie...