Saturday, 30 April 2011

Buildin' the Bed!

Bank Holiday Friday was spent building our new bed. Sorry William and Catherine - I'm sure the ceremony was wonderful, but getting the leather frame together took a while (but was well rewarding - it smells FABULOUS.)

It's SO big I can't take a decent picture of it; I had to put the phone flat against the wall to get most of it in focus! So big in fact that it even baffled the usually unobservant Tsam. He spent a good ten minutes just sitting at the foot end, looking up at the rolled curlicue top, with his head all wonky and dinked. Hyphen nearly threw herself off the side by accident - long bed, long run - forgot to slow down before she shot over the edge!

I gotta say though, it's worth every single penny. I woke up this morning and not a single joint popped, clunked or did anything. I slept like a log! Though I have to laugh, rolling over in it is a bit of a job - because as it moulds to your shape, you have to pull yourself out of the trench and balance on the edge of it until it conforms to your new shape.

Understatement of the Day: "It is a good bed." - HL.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Sweet Treats!

Found a tiny chocolatiere's hidden inside a florists today - literally a wee little counter hidden amongst the roses and ribbons. They've got a surprisingly large range in from Belgium, though I'm told this is only a small selection as they've used a lot of space for the Easter treats. I'm looking forwards to seeing the rest of the collection in that case.

So, as follows, here's the review on some of the chocolates we tried, with more to come later as we sample the rest as they come in stock. Note: I should have thought to take pictures before we ate them. Whoops. I've drawn them instead!

The sticky toffee pyramid looks great. It's big, bold and chunky; a milk chocolate pyramid with stripes of white marbling. The chocolate is very sweet, clearly high grade with a slight burnt caramel flavour as you bite into the centre... though the texture of this is delightful. I had expected something with a rolo caramel aspect, but it's definitely more of a ganache - like a thick, slightly caramelly cream. "Like a cold version of a toffee that's been left in the sun. But with a LOT of vanilla." He's right, as there's a LOT of vanilla kick - an early alcoholic burn texture that I'm not sure what to make of. It distracts from what it's meant to be as the chocolate has more toffee flavour than the centre. I wouldn't kick it out, but it's been mis-marketed. "Vanilla volcano" would have been a genius name for it.

And yes, it's much more accurate as it's got that heavy milk chocolate shell, it's a BIG pyramid with white marbling running around the outside - looks like molten vanilla lava!

The Apricot Creme Fraiche had a similar problem with the flavour being lost somewhere - it was perfumed with apricot rather than flavoured I found but, again, the centre was fantastic. It had a silky-milky, creamy texture and the shell had a satisfying "pop!" thanks to the layers of dark chocolate. That was sweet, dark, smooth and refined. His Lordship was disappointed by the subtle flavour: "not poncey enough to think such things like 'scented'. But then again I'm not about to spit it out - that's my man-review of it". The only aftertaste is of sweet dark cocoa - but not at all powdery.

The cherry cup smells very dark. It looks fabulous with a shiny, dark chocolate cup, and a fleck of gold leaf in the middle of the deep, dark red cap. Initially it has a harsh dark taste, bordering on bitter, though I suspect the cap to be coloured white choc - it's a little floury. The core begins with a subtle scent, a slight coarseness to ganache (which was nice!) - and then a well rounded cherry comes storming in a bit late and settles into cherry brandy finish. It's a bit intense - in fact I'd say it was sulking! His Lordship isn't keen because it's a "bit too much" and again, I have to agree with him, because I'd like to see a summer version of this; something lighter, perhaps milk chocolate based with a slightly sour, sweet and perky cherry flavour.

The orange cup surprised me, as there's no scent at all through the chocolate shell. The orange flavour in the shell is late and short, like a bad date - I want something subtle but longer lasting, especially as the candied orange peel in the dark chocolate cap gave it a nice sweet orange flash... But then, sadly, it's quickly overwhelmed by the darkness, like a match struck at midnight, which is a bit of a shame.

But hang on a minute - the middle is AWESOME! It's a thick, truffly smoothness with a fantastic powerful orangy blast leaving a citrussy tingle in the centre! It's a lot like the orangey bit in the middle of a Jaffa Cake, but with chocolate already added. My suggestion for improvement would be to go for a thinner dark chocolate shell and cap, line it with a strong, sharp orange sugar crystal layer for crunch and a whoosh of flavour - something to emphasise and add a little texture and excitement to that MAGNIFICENT truffle centre with perhaps a teeny touch of popping candy... That centre is stunning, but the shell needs to come up to the same standard I'm afraid.

I also got a loyalty card - fill it five times and get a free box of chocolates. I think that should be easy!

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Tummelberries, Raspberries, Strawberries and more...

Been busy in the garden before it started raining...

Because we don't know what's happening, and because all my raspberries have been popping up through the lawn again, I carefully hoiked up some of the young ones and stuck them in pots. Whilst I was there, I delicately extracted the gooseberry plant (getting a vicious thorn from that damned pyrocanthus deep in my finger AGAIN) and put that in the fig tree's pot, as the poor fig had keeled over with the vicious freeze we had over winter.

I also took up two of my best strawberry plants, and a few of the alpine miniature strawberries (which are now ensconced around the bases of the raspberries), and took a quick jaunt to the local garden centre which, as always, turned out to be a veritable dream of green...

This year I've added a "tummelberry" to my thorny fruit collection; somewhat similar to a tayberry, it's a heavy fruit bearer made from a cross between blackberries and raspberries. I'm not expecting fruit this year (as you don't with any rasperroids), but next year should be interesting - I'm told one stem can produce 3kgs of fruit, even in a dry spell!

I replaced the chive (same problem as the fig, I didn't get it wrapped up in time.) and picked up a bay, some sage and a delightful bright yellow and green lemon balm to go with my mental mint. The mint's spectacular - that has just thrown plants EVERYWHERE!

We're having sun dried tomato and spring onion cheddar with salami on toast, having just reseeded our pathetic lawn. It's about the size of a fairly large rug, but is mostly moss - even though I scarify, air, hand-weed, water and feed it (due to the poor clay soil and lack of sunlight).

I should learn to accept that it will never be a truly verdant carpet...

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Happy Chocolate Day!

His Lordship had fun this morning, following my QR Easter Egg hunt. I left all these little rhyming clues scattered round the house, some propped up by Cadbury's Crème Eggs. He had to decode them with his free Android phone app, but I've included them in text form for you here.

"If you'd like an easter treat,
put your feet up, it's on your...

I'm told this box turns your brain to jelly,
but perhaps there's chocolate behind the...

Aww, you missed this by just a smidge,
but that's cool, go check the ...

I'm told this one will test your mettle,
grab a cuppa, it's by the ...

Sorry, these eggs don't come in pairs,
but it's looking up - go to the ...

I hope by now, you're having a ball,
carry on up, into the ...

No chocolate here, but it's a laugh,
You dirty boy! Go have a ...

It's in the bedroom, but we're not there,
Your clue is in the room that's ...

To this dragon you must thank,
Your next treat is in her...

Now you should go rest your head,
Come and join me in our..."

I had BIG Crème Egg waiting for him when he got back! "I like to eat the middles most, but I like to eat them whole as well. It's a bit of a pickle..." Personally, I love to bite the tops off and eat the crème inside first, but how do you like to eat yours?

Quote of the Day: The lady on the TV just said "Better late than Neville. Uh, Better late than Never..."

Friday, 22 April 2011

Bank Holiday Friday, Friday, Friday...

(I also hear rumour that in 2012, Beiber and Black want to do a duet. So maybe we'll feel relieved when the end of the world comes.)

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Chucky, the Dinky Wingnut.

Chucky is a dink. Well, actually, no, he's a yellow bearded dragon. But anyway, Chucky's owner and I have been tinternet friends for some time via a mutual appreciation of our reptilian masters and, like the good slaves we are, have been sending the dragon overlords gifts through the post.

As you know, all my dragons have their own, hand-sewn towels (Kyle's is fuchsia pink, Tsam's is turquoise blue and Hyphen's is hot orange). Mr Whitmore hadn't encountered the pleasure of the "Beardie Burrito" before, where you have a very happy dragon wrapped up in a fluffy towel shortly after a hot bath - so I was more than happy to provide the Chuckster with his very own, bright yellow towel, as Mr Whitmore kindly sent us a plushie dragon from Canada.

Whilst the wingnut was puzzled by the whole thing, Mr Whitmore wrapped him up snuggly and they both discovered that the burrito was a fine thing indeed.

Chucky also has a fine hat - a pirate hat. But come Christmas last year, the poor boyo had to wear it again for the festive parties. So, when His Lordship found this picture of Chucky looking Cheesed, I had a word with my Mum to see if she had any of her felt "baubles" left over...

Come Christmas-time this year, I think he may be star of the show; he's busy sooty-facing at his reflection in the glass.

"Look how fiiiiiiine I am with my new Santa hat!"

(Bagsie-us beardie godmum!)

Monday, 18 April 2011

Hey Big Spender...

I spent quite a lot this weekend...

I bought an XBox 360 console with 120gb of memory, 18 games, AND a whole rock band control kit yesterday for £160. (with £20 postage). It was either cash, or my bike - as it says on his eBay listing: "WOULD SWAP FOR A WORKING 50CC OR A 125CC SCOOTER". Cash was cheaper, and very good value at that.

We also spent £1250 on a new bed and mattress - which is just AWESOME. No really. We're getting a beautiful so-dark-brown-it's-nearly-black leather sleigh bed - it is lushness in a squish of lush. I mean, just LOOK at it. Also, asking for a discount didn't hurt - £90 off.

The ENTIRE mattress is made from high quality memory foam: the full 26cm, five star plus rating, with not a single spring in sight. I was pretty impressed when we tried it out in store - the mattress is so comfy, so much so in fact that it's rendered himself inarticulate but for single words. Some of which I'm not convinced exist: "Splootchy." Plus it's Kingsize - which means even at my height my feet stay on the bed, not over the end! I also negotiated £120 off that too, which was nice.

It was that or a holiday, and with His Lordship's father being ill, it was the more sensible option. Can always save up again for a holiday at another time. After all, now I can have a holiday every night!

Thought for the Day: "Why is there only one monopolies commission?" - Whitmore.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Happy Krawk Day!

It's taken years of patience, work and game playing - but I finally saved up enough to get my beloved Krawk. For those not-in-the-know, this is a delightful reptiley Neopet that EVERY Neopian covets because they're so damned rare!

Alright, so it wasn't the prettiest of beginnings, as I fed my poor old Rainbow Aisha (a cat like thing), Meglos, a vile looking concoction that twisted and warped his flesh, mutating it horrifically...

But most caterpillars are pretty gruesome, and cygnets aren't exactly famous for being gorgeous.

Thankfully, I had a Rainbow Paintbrush ready for this (heck, I've had that brush in storage for MONTHS), so I was able to rush him down to the Rainbow Pool before anyone saw his mangled form and bring him back to his previous prismatic glory - but Krawk'd!

One rare and jaunty hat later, and he was lookin' gooooood! My friend Johna gave me this nifty double-rainbow background to finish off the bright and busy look.

How appropriate that I should finally get a Krawk on Krawk Day - 16th April!

Friday, 15 April 2011

Sticky Situation

It's finally got to this stage.
I have been forced to deal with the situation.
I have, once more, broken my laptop.

I don't know how, it must be the way I sit or something, because I always seem to knacker the power port in the side of the machine - it's currently held at juuuuuust the right angle with a bobble and copious amounts of sellotape. I can't be doing with all this sticky tape coating my computer. It makes it quite difficult to get to the escape key.

I'm loathe to buy a new one as my little blue isn't exactly old, and we've just bought the XBox... I may have to get the charging cable solid-soldered to the pin. Not ideal, but I have my phone for everywhere internet now; the laptop is for blogging and writing mostly. Pity - downgraded to a home PC.

Quote of the Day: "I woke up last night to find the ghost of Gloria Gaynor standing at the foot of my bed. At first I was afraid... then I was petrified." - Danny.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Have you had a bad day?

Sometimes work can get depressing. Everyone knows that.

My particular bugbear of my job is that every morning, I am supposed to put on the board what sales I will get today. Yes, apparently I'm psychic and know what customers will come in. So, to avoid this, I always put a very low expectation on the board, just above my required minimum (maybe 2 savings accounts for example). That way, I can always beat it. After all, you can never be disappointed if you don't expect much in the first place!

Hey, sometimes it's the only way to recover a day. Look at it like this: I made it through the day still alive, still in good health, still with all my family and friends, still with all the things that matter to me - I'm a very lucky person indeed. Disappointment is just a state of mind. Remember the things you're well off with and also remember my motto: "Change what you can, and don't worry about the things you can't."

Worrying about something you can't do anything about doesn't do you any good!

(Thanks to Comick at NewGrounds for his cute video.)

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Comfy Cupboard.

I've spent most of today footling round on eBay and the rest of it trying to discourage Tsam from climbing on the fireplace.

After the 30th attempt, he managed to squeeze into the space between the hearth wall and a cupboard. It was an impressive move, requiring an awkward vertical jump and a scuttly strafe movement along the actual wall. And bloody annoying, because it's a very tight fit for a large dragon going headfirst and full of cobwebs. Apparently they're the unpleasant bit, as they cling into your eyes.

I gave him the cupboard full of cobwebs at the other side of the hearth to sit in instead. He appears very happy hunkered down on the chilly stone.

Meh, go figure.

In the meantime, my leftover reptile spares have reached an impressive £40 before postage, and there's still another day of bidding. Probably a good job, because I just spent £180 buying an XBox Elite 250GB console with 18 games and a big pile of control bits. Whoops!

Quote of the Day: "Looking back, I realize, that the human head was never meant to look back, but just forward... and side to side. But I can walk backwards: unleashing the mother f*cking moon walk..." - Shrombie, in his surrealistic world. His blog is a bit strange.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

An Alarming Situation!

In one of my branches, we have a faulty alarm system. It has a habit of setting off a local area alarm at random for no reason, ringing a little buzzer in the back room that we have to keep resetting. Today however, the alarm threw a full on silent wobbly, sent straight through to the security centre.

We didn't have a clue until 4 police cars AND an ITV van pulled up outside the front door...

At first, we thought a colleague's hubby was having a laugh with us, as he often drops in with copper mates, but no - it turns out it was a full alarm call and they'd all driven 20 miles in a hurry to make sure we were alright and there wasn't a full raid in process! At least we know we're well looked after, and we finally got a repair man to mend it properly at long last...

Random Photo: "Moon Hill" - taken by a staff member in Phnom Pen if I remember right.

Monday, 4 April 2011


Teeny wee dragon is growing fast, over 7" and 26.1g today. Hyphen's "certified" female but I'm not convinced, as it looks like s/he has hemipene bulges under hir tail. I'm a bit miffed if so, as I particularly wanted a female so Tsam wouldn't go mental - he doesn't even like his own reflection...

They all have a kickass salad to go with their crickets for dinner: mint, kale, basil, grape, cucumber, raspberry and blueberry. Nommmmm! It's actually pretty tasty with a peppery kick. And fresh, cool water to wash it down with. Hyphen likes water it seems.

I did just hear about a less savoury "meal" though: a friend of mine, who shall remain un-named (for now!), thought it would be funny to eat a cockroach when dared to by a mate. Now, that's bad enough... but the cockroach was found in his mate's bathroom.

And his mate doesn't keep reptiles.

Cockroach from a mucky bathroom. Euuuuuuuw.

Friday, 1 April 2011

Hang On... Wut?

I was a bit baffled this morning to wake up to news on the TV - there'd been an earthquake in Blackpool. We both wondered if the BBC was pulling one of its more elaborate April Fool's Day pranks, like the infamous "Spaghetti Harvest" in 1957. It turns out it was genuine, measuring 2.2.

However, I had to laugh when I checked my updates on my laptop; Chrome AdBlock were offering an extraordinary new technology that they'd just perfected: augmented reality eyewear that detects and removes ads from the world in realtime. You can even apply for your own beta-testing pair here.

Even YouTube got in on the act, releasing the very first Viral Videos from back in 1911.

"A befuddled man has been hijinked into singing about the hooliganism he has witnessed with his very own eyes."

I particularly enjoyed Google's job advert for an Autocompleter, however it required "some willingness to travel (in order to provide local autocompletions) or relocate to obscure places like Nauru and Tuvalu to develop knowledge of local news and trends..."

However, if you do actually use Chrome, I suggest grabbing the actual AdBlock programme if you haven't already - HERE. Don't know what I'd do without it!