Monday, 31 December 2007

Seaside frolics

After spending the last few days more or less holed up in the house, eating like greedy fat kings and watching TV till our eyes dried up, we decided we ought to go out. To stop us getting rickets, if nothing else.

Mr WithaY suggested we head down to the coast and see if Tyneham village was open to the public. It's a tiny little place that was evacuated in about 1943 so the Army could use it for training; after WW2 ended, the Army hung onto it.

Much to the dismay of some of the former residents, who had expected to move back there, and kept petitioning the War Office about it for years afterwards. Well, you would, wouldn't you?

We walked down to the coast, which was very pleasant, watched the sea for a bit, admired the Jurassic coast (no dinosaurs thankfully), expressed dismay at all the rubbish washed up onto the beach, and then scrambled back up the muddy banks onto the path, getting covered in crud as we did so.



We walked round the ruined village which was very sad. They have put little information plaques up in some of the houses telling you who lived there, with photos of some of the former residents.

What was incredible to me was the size of some of the households. Two or three roomed cottages with eight or nine people living in them. That's all the rooms in the house, not the number of bedrooms, mind.

And not always many children, either. Some of the houses had several adults living there, in what must have been rather cramped conditions.


Still, they did a lot more of their living out of doors than we do. One little note staggered me. It mentioned that the women of the village used to walk the 12 miles there and back to Weymouth to get their groceries.

Walk. 12 miles.

Pushing prams, because that was how they lugged all their shopping home again. I would gripe about walking 2 miles to get the shopping, never mind 12. And it's hilly country round there. With a small child or two in a pram to boot.

No wonder they all looked about 30 years older than they really were. They were some tough people.

This made me laugh though.


And Mr WithaY was delighted to find these....

They look like Klingon must-have accessories, but are in fact shark egg cases. And he brought them home. Presumably to put next to his collection of whale's teeth.

Almost forgot. Before we went to the village, we stopped off at an excellent pub and had lunch. There were two old ladies having a lunch too, and were talking very LOUDLY. I assume at least one of them had a hearing problem.

One of them dropped her knife on the floor "Oh no! I've dropped my knife!" she bellowed.

"Do you need it?" asked her companion.

"Well, I think so" she said.

"No you don't. Just use your fork."

I love old ladies.

Friday, 28 December 2007

Specs before marriage

I was at the opticians again yesterday, having my eyes tested. While I was waiting for my appointment, I couldn't help but overhear the antics of a trio of elderly people behind me. I think it was a married couple and a female friend or relative.

The two ladies were examining the racks of glasses, one of them trying on pair after pair and dismissing them for a variety of increasingly interesting reasons.

The chap was sat watching them, adding his own comments like a grumpy Greek chorus, quietly enough that they couldn't hear him.

But I could. As an example:

Old lady #1: (waving huge specs about) What about these? Nice and big.

Old lady #2: Ooh no....they'll be much too heavy for my nose.

Old lady #1: Not if you have plastic glass in them. Nice and light then. (Getting bored with being in the opticians, waving them under her friend's nose) Try them on, go on.

Old lady #2: (Trying them on) No, they don't look right. I know what suits me.

Old Man: (Under his breath) You bloody don't.

I was kept entertained.

And the good news is my eyes have not got any worse, so my prescription stays the same. So I can keep using my disposable contact lenses when I can be arsed. I ordered a new pair of specs anyway, though. I have got tremendously bored with my current ones.

I popped into a shoe shop on a whim and bought a pair of boots in the sale, which I was pleased with. Reduced from 45 quid to 35, so felt like I got a good deal. (About a billion trillion dollars, American readers).

When asked by a reprobate neighbour later if they were Fuck Me Boots I had to answer that no, they are actually Get Out Of My Fucking Way Boots. Sad but true.

At least they don't have steel toecaps. And they aren't from Mole Valley Farmers.

Other news: Made a fanTAStic chicken and bacon pie for lunch today. The kitchen is back to normal, rather than resembling a Medieval banquet.

It still smells of hyacinths in there because the basket of bulbs I bought has thrived and all the flowers are out now. They are a bit warped and twisted because they got confused about which direction to point. I assume. They might just be hideous mutant hyacinths.

I was hoping there'd be a great film on tv this afternoon so I could flop on the sofa in my new slippers (thanks to my lovely Mum) and veg out. Sadly the tv schedules have been utter shite, so I will probably do other stuff.

No Dinotopia! What were they thinking??

I got Mr WithaY the complete Father Ted collection on DVD and we watched some of the first series last night. It really was a superbly written show.

Off out to a party later. I shall have a bath in a bit with some of my lovely new Neals Yard smellies and see if anyone sniffs me appreciatively when I get there.

Wednesday, 26 December 2007

Holiday cheer

Well, how was your Christmas Day? Mine was very pleasant.

Mr WithaY scooted down to Dorset to pick up his Dad, who spent the day here with us, we spoke to all the various parents, siblings and mates over the course of the day, and ate a huge and tremendous roast beef lunch.

I made my famous Christmas Sausage Rolls* which we had with coffee for brunch.

We watched Casino Royale on dvd (we don't have Sky) which Mr WithaY's dad paid grave attention to all the way through, and at the end announced "Well, I couldn't make head nor tail of that."


For the first time in many, many weeks I actually feel properly relaxed and laid back. I'd forgotten how nice it is to just sit and watch tv for ages, eating satsumas and drinking cups of tea from time to time.

So that's my plan for today as well.

We've had a fantastically sociable time of it over the last few weeks, mostly thanks to our lovely neighbours, so a few days peacefully spent at home together is just the ticket.

I had some wonderful presents, including a techno photo frame from Mr WithaY. I am going to play with it** later. You can plug it into a data stick or a card thingy from a camera and it displays your digital photos. I love that idea.

I feel so relaxed I might even do some dressmaking over the next few days. I have tons of gorgeous fabric and a stack of patterns. I feel a creative surge coming upon me.

*Like normal sausage rolls but I only make them at Christmas.

**The frame, not Mr WithaY. Although, it is Christmas...

Saturday, 22 December 2007


Not only are we losing the village Post Office in the near future (thanks, you bastards), we have also unexpectedly lost our organic farm shop.

Closed down more or less overnight, I suspect now in receivership, judging by the notices on the shop door. What a bloody shame. They made the best brioche rolls ever.

So, half the village ameneties lost in a few days.

Bloody great. Not such a big deal for those of us with transport, but how the fuck are the many elderly residents supposed to get stamps, pick up pensions, access their savings etc without a Post Office? Not everyone is on the interweb.

I'd try to be funny about it but I am far too angry.

Wednesday, 19 December 2007


Ah yes....when you have access to a lovely birthday cake, with candles spelling "Happy Birthday", it's surprising what you can find to do.

I amused myself by creating appropriate words for a birthday party...



Or warnings about eating too much cake...


Which would make you look....


Then I came up with the alternative Seven Dwarfs....






Ok, so there aren't seven of them. But I love the idea of Drippy, Yappy, Trippy and Haypit all taking turns to wash up and none of them daring to ask Hard to do it. Because he'd KILL them.

More rodent mayhem

This made me laugh quite a lot.

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Rodent mayhem

The rats are digging holes under my shed!


I haven't noticed any attempts to disguise the fresh dirt on the exercise yard, and none of them seem to be wearing suspiciously-bulging trousers, but even so.

Time to get the goons on the watchtowers on red alert.

Monday, 17 December 2007

Hurty paw II

I am typing slowly because (again!) I have damaged my hand. Did it on Sunday. By accident.

I was putting some Christmas lights up in the front garden (just a few, looped over the rose arch, nothing ostentatious) and had left a window in the sitting room open so I could feed the plugs and wires back inside.

So far so good.

Then I went to go back outside and finish off tying the lights securely. This entails opening the hall door, walking though into the porch and then opening the front door. I did all this, and the draft from the open window blew the hall door so it slammed shut on my hand.

Fuck me it hurt.

It actually made me sick with pain, a new experience for me. I thought I had broken at least 2 fingers but after an hour or so I realised that I hadn't. I have a startling deep purple streak across my fingernail and bruises on the fingertips. Looks impressive.

And I am now typing with index fingers only, just like the good old days.

Other news. Family party was lovely, although rather distressingly I found out that some of my nieces and nephews read the blog. My language has caused dismay it seems. I was previously the "good auntie" apparently. Heh.

Fucking rat is back too. He seems to be ignoring the poison in the trap, and is eating the fallen bird seed. I think I might get down to Mole Valley Farmers and buy some "Little Nipper" rat traps. I swear, the damn thing waits till the second Mr WithaY's Landrover pulls away, and then emerges, taunting me.

The other day I was in the kitchen and I saw it run out from under the shed, grab a fallen apple from under the tree and then HOP like a tiny kangaroo on its back paws, carrying the apple. Incredible.

Was bloody fast too.

Friday, 14 December 2007


Good job I spoke to my lovely Mum earlier. The big family get-together that I had on the WithaY calendar as happening on Sunday, is actually happening on Saturday.


In itself, changing the day is not a big deal, but we are going out to dinner with some of our outrageous rapscallion neighbours on Saturday night, so we'll have to scoot back home rather than stay late at my Mum's.

Never mind. Looking on the bright side...

At least we now know the right day to turn up, and won't have the dreadful scenario of the rest of the clan looking at their watches all afternoon, wondering if we've been flattened under a truck on the M3. (Look on a map, American readers....Wiltshire to Sussex, quite a long way but very pretty scenery.)

So. Have finished wrapping all the gifts, and am very pleased about that.

I am rubbish at gift wrapping. I envy women who can make parcels look tempting, tidy and pretty. Mine look like someone has thrown wrapping paper over a pineapple and then sellotaped it together with their eyes shut. Even rectangular gifts.

Other news. I am now the proud owner of a red, fur-encrusted cowboy hat. It was a gift from one of my colleagues and I had to wear it throughout the team Christmas lunch at the pub yesterday.

I might take pictures when I can face it again.

We did Secret Santa gifts. (Sorry Manuel )

Mine was really good*. In fact, I think everyone got a really nice gift. Nobody was offended, nobody looked disappointed and everyone spent a while playing with their respective presents, and showing them off to the others around the table.

The food was excellent, everyone got what they ordered, everyone ate it all and the staff were brilliant. One of the nicest Christmas lunches I;ve been to for work, I think.

The pheasant seems to have left us. I am imagining him sitting happily in a cosy corner somewhere, surrounded by his mates and plenty of food. The sad reality is probably rather different.

No sign of any bastard rats for a while too, which is excellent. The poison bait has been "nibbled" apparently, so with any luck they will all be dead and gone in a short while.

If they didn't make such a bloody mess I wouldn't have nearly as big an issue with them, but they have eaten holes in the garden fence, dug up the compost bin and gnawed all the fenceposts we were storing under the shed. Fuckers.

*Not the cowboy hat, that was an unexpected bonus.

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

Tagged! So excited!

Heh, I feel special now. Right, this is the iPod shuffle goes.

1) If someone says, "Is this okay?", you say: "The Right Thing" MacAlmont and Butler. Awww, that is rather sweet.

2) What would best describe your personality? "Prickly Thorn (but sweetly worn)" The White Stripes. Ouch. Yep, I can see some heads nodding at the back there.

3) What do you like in a guy/girl? "King of Emotion" Big Country. Um, no, no drama queens ta.

4) How do you feel today? "Lay Low" Alisha's Attic. Kinda apt. Heh.

5) What is your life's purpose? "No Surprises" Radiohead. God, I am such a Civil Servant. Dull, dull, dull.

6) What is your motto? "Black Night" Deep Purple. Does the fact that it's live make a difference? Just a teeny bit confused by this.

7) What do your friends think of you? "Closing Time" Semisonic. Perfect. One of my favourite songs to play and sing, and most of my mates have had to listen to me perform it at least once. Hurrah.

8) What do you think of your parents? "What I always Wanted" Kittie. Hm, interesting. Well, my Mum is completely fab, and I couldn't ask for a better one. And yes, I think I would have liked to have got to know my Dad. In fact, the thing I wished for a lot as a child was "I wish Dad would get better". So yeah. Apt.

9) What do you think about very often? "Icky Thump" The White Stripes. Your guess is as good as mine. Mental.

10) What is 2 + 2? "Motivation" Sum41. Hmm, am I totally financially motivated? Or just driven by the memory of being shit at maths at school? Lack of focus? Inability to add up? Who knows? Ooh! A squirrel!

11) What do you think of your best friend? "Transylvania" Iron Maiden. Heh, brilliant. Hello bestest mate.

12) What do you think of the person you like? "Shot by Both Sides" Magazine. Oh lordy. Yes, we have shot each other more than once. This is a bit scary now.

13) What is your life story? "Look Away" Big Country. Yep, lack of attention at key points, gawping into space, missing stuff....sounds like my life right enough.

14) What do you want to be when you grow up? "Laugh Out Loud" Robert Cray Band. Excellent. I wanted to be a writer. Or a journalist. But a comedy personage would do nicely, ta.

15) What do you think when you see the person you like? "Letterbomb" Green Day. Now, is this because they are potentially a deranged terrorist? Or maybe I am? Or perhaps its just too close to Christmas. All that extra post.

16) What do your parents think of you? "Desire" U2. Awwww. I know my Mum loves me. More than my sisters. (Hello sisters. Get your own blogs if you wish to argue. Heh.)

17) What will you dance to at your wedding? "I've Been Thinking About You" Londonbeat. What a great song. And yes, I suppose we were thinking about each other a lot on our wedding day. No dancing though...too extravagent and heathen by far.

18) What will they play at your funeral? "Nine Hundred Miles" Show of Hands. Wow. A superb blues-y track. And another one I like to sing. Perfect.

19) What is your hobby/interest? "Been Caught Stealing" Jane's Addiction. Hm. Well, I am not a professional thief, I suppose.

20) What is your biggest secret? "Deaf Forever" Motorhead. This made me laugh out loud. Explains my cloth-eared guitar playing, at least.

21) What do you think of your friends? "It's OK" Fine Young Cannibals. No, better than just ok, surely?

22) What should you post this as? "Good Thing" Fine Young Cannibals again. Not sure what this question actually means, but the answer works.

Sunday, 9 December 2007


Remember I said about going to Lidl? Where they sell amusing sausages?

Well, they also had a load of interesting pasta in yesterday.

I went a bit overboard.

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So, if you are coming to dinner chez WithaY in the near future, expect it to be pasta-based.

Schoolboy error

Decided to make scones earlier today, as it's such a shitty rainy day.

I thought "Nice cup of tea and a warm scone, just the ticket...I'll make a batch and it will all be lovely."

So far so good.

I made a batch of scone mix, which did seem a bit stickier than normal, but I popped it in the oven and made a pot of tea, waiting for the lovely scones to be ready.

I got butter and jam ready, and some little plates.

Everything was looking good.

Right up until I took the fuckers out of the oven.

Oh the horror, the horror...

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Unfeasibly heavy.

Almost as if some fuckwit had used plain flour, instead of self-raising flour.

After I had moaned and whined a bit, I made some more. With the correct ingredients this time.

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Much nicer.

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And, for comedy purposes, a side-by-side comparison.

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Saturday, 8 December 2007


We've got a visitor. He seems to have taken up residence in the front garden for the time being, under the Vibernum (sp?) bush.

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He looks pretty grumpy, and is limping like a pirate, so I wonder if he's been winged on a shoot somewhere. He's safe enough in the garden though.

We have some other visitors in the back garden too. Not as cute as the pheasant, and a lot more destructive.

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(Image nicked from here )

After months of picking the buggers off one at a time from the Window of Doom, Mr WithaY finally agreed to put down some poison.

So, a jolly trip in the pissing rain to the ironmongers, where he bought a huge box of Rat-B-Gone and I got some blue hyacinths in a basket. And some Christmas-tree-shaped biscuit cutters. And a sparkly candle.

Its a great shop. Everything you need, and then some.

Also went to the opticians where he was getting new lenses for his diving trip in January. I amused myself by trying on lots of glasses (one pair at a time, not all at once like Professor Branstawm ). Found some I may get after Christmas. I'll keep you informed.

While I was sat waiting patiently, flicking though one of the many magazines in there (and I noticed they all had small text - how cruel) a woman and a small boy came in. They were greeted by one of the staff, then sat down next to me to wait their turn.

The boy started messing about with the camera machine thingy - the one you can take on-screen photos of yourself with to see how you look in different glasses. He started off just pressing the buttons and making stupid faces.

Fair enough. I mean, I'd been doing the same thing myself not five minutes earlier.

But then, bored with this, he began messing about with the Zoom function, and jumping back from the camera, each time getting nearer and nearer the racks of glasses behind him.

Eventually, inevitably, he jumped back and crashed into one of the stands, knocking all the glasses to the floor. The woman (I assume his mother) leapt to her feet and rushed over saying "Oh! Have you hurt yourself?" To which the little oaf replied in a fake-sad voice "Yes, I have rather hurt my back."

I was dumbfounded.

In fact, I was sorely tempted to give him a sharp ding round the ear and say "And now your ears hurt too. Sit down, stop causing trouble and wait quietly."

However, I decided an afternoon being questioned by the police for assault and battery was not likely to be much fun, so thought better of it. But it was so, so tempting.

And then that bloody woman clucked and fussed around him, checking his back was alright (yes of course it is, he's faking it and is hoping not to get into trouble you stupid fool) before half-heartedly picking up some of the glasses. Gah.

And then we went to Lidl. I love that shop. If you've never been, go. They have more amusing sausages than is entirely reasonable.

Thursday, 6 December 2007

Oranges and lemons

Continuing with the (apparently dull) satsuma theme, a colleague was sat next to me today, his laptop bag left open. I looked, looked again, and spotted what looked like about 50 oranges in there.

I commented on this, and he said "No, only two oranges. The rest are clementines." About ten pounds of fruit.

He then proceeded to cruelly mock my satsuma that was on my desk, eloquently comparing his brighter, bigger, rounder, nicer-smelling clementines to my rather sullen, greenish, lumpy and frankly Frankenstein's monster of a piece of fruit. I believe the expression "I wouldn't touch your satsuma with a ten foot pole" may have been used.

I would have wept with chagrin, but he gave me one of his. And it was much much nicer than mine.

Other news: Sold my Strat yesterday.

I have hardly played it since I got my Les Paul, so it just sat there day after day, looking sad and neglected. My lovely guitar teacher told me about one of his contacts who was after a decent guitar, and gave me his number. I rang him yesterday and asked if he'd like to come round for a road test. So to speak.

He turned up as arranged, and then played the bejeezus out of my Strat for half an hour, making me feel completely rubbish and inadequate. He decided to buy it, and I am pleased it's going to someone who will do it justice.

The down side is that I now feel like all the time and effort I have spent on getting to the standard I have has been wasted and I might as well give up and admit I will never be any fucking good.


Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Actually... know what I said about satsumas? Forget that.

Had the world's nastiest, sourest satsuma, and then had some Quality Street chocs as it was someone's birthday.

No contest.

Health and efficiency

One of the things I like best about this time of year is the easy availability of satsumas. They are the perfect office desktop snack. You can eat as many as you like in a day (within reason) and they add an aura of health and wellbeing, especially if those around you are scarfing down pies and crisps, the bastards.

And they make the office smell nice.

Have had a couple of very busy days at work so far this week, which has been fulfilling. I was feeling pretty good this morning, after a good night's sleep. Went to the gym after work yesterday and did a fair bit there, which always helps.

That feeling of wellbeing and contentment lasted right up until I bumped into a mate in the coffee place, who after doing the "Oooh, haven't seen you for ages!" thing said "But you do look tired". Arse.

I plan to work at home tomorrow as I have a huge daunting document to read, and when I sit at my desk reading people assume I have no "real" work to be getting on with. They walk past and make hilarious remarks about how I obviously need more to do. Ha fucking ha.

So, will do it at home, which also saves me 70 miles of driving.

Talking of driving.

Was lucky enough to watch a superb piece of idiocy this morning on the roads. A BMW and a Volvo 4 by 4 thingy. They were having a race, I assume. What a spectacularly great idea. On narrow, high-hedged, unlit, unlined country roads, with tractors, dog-walkers, horses and cyclists around every corner.


Other news: Christmas is still coming and I am still not nearly ready.

Sunday, 2 December 2007


Isn;t booze great?

I think so.

Apart from Hungarian wine which is fucking terrible.


Friday, 30 November 2007


Well, have stopped throwing up, which is nice. I started being sick on Tuesday night, and was firmly of the opinion that it was stress-related.

My reasoning was: had horrible, scary, stressful work-related dream, woke up at 3am, was very sick, then lay there till 6am feeling sick and stressed. Therefore, must be work making me ill.

Seemed logical enough to me.

However, having now stopped being sick, and having managed to eat a bit yesterday, I feel much better, and far less stressed about everything, including work. So it is possible that I was in fact suffering from a bug of some sort, and the horrible stressy dreams were caused by the physical ailment, rather than the other way round.

Anyway. Not being sick now, so that's good.

Today I plan to do some preparations for Christmas, as I have been feeling either too busy, too disinterested or too sickly to do anything about it so far.

Might go into town later and get some more Christmas cards from the charity shops, which will give me an excuse to have a good rummage about. Always interesting, seeing what other people have got rid of.

When I was a student, many hundreds of years ago, I furnished my teeny little student flat thingy from charity shops. And most of my wardrobe came from them too, that and jumble sales. Do people still hold jumble sales?

I used to find some great stuff. I remember a long soft, flowing grey/blue skirt with a heavily embroidered hem which I bought, altered and lived in for about 6 months. I thought I looked gorgeous.

One afternoon I was walking through town with a mate, wearing aforesaid lovely skirt, and a little old lady came up to us. She took hold of my arm and looked at me intently.

Little Old Lady: "Know what you look like?"

Me: ""

Little Old Lady: "Bloody awful."

Then she strode off into the sunset, leaving me standing open-mouthed in the street, as my mate fell about laughing.

I can't wait to be old enough to get away with doing that to people.

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

New Ambition

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Dubious promises

Was looking at the Amazon website for Christmas inspiration. I love that they are offering a delivery service called Amazon Prime. Sounds like a huge scary Transformer mega-villain.

Look out! Amazon Prime is on his way, demolishing everything in his path!


My eye was drawn to the claim made about one of the in-car satnav guidance systems.

The headline said "Drive Like a Local". As if that would be a good thing.

This morning, driving like a local would have entailed being in a huge, mud-encrusted tractor, doing 14 miles an hour, your big dog sitting beside you in the cab glaring at the people in the cars following you, that you were splattering with enormous wet globs of mud as you trundled along in the middle of the road.

You bastard.

Monday, 26 November 2007


And what is more, Free Cake!


I won a rather fine Christmas cake in a raffle at work today. It has icing and everything.

What is particularly sad though, is that I have now booked Friday off to go Christmas shopping.


Because the cake sat on my desk all afternoon making me feel guilty about not having done anything about Christmas yet.

I am being guilted by baked goods. Gah.

Run to the Hills

Well, didn't go and play Airsoft in the end. I will next time though.

Mr WithaY assures me it was great fun, and tremendous glory was had by all. All those on the "Aggressive Yellow" team, mind, not the wimpy Red Team, who apparently were a bunch of big girls and failed to achieve their objectives in anything like as cool a way as the Yellows.

He came home covered in mud, completely exhausted, saying "Oh my God. I am OLD". Serves him right for going out to play with a bunch of twenty-somethings.

Apparently they sell all kinds of pyrotechnics there. Mr WithaY had to buy some. See my earlier remarks on his Compulsory Firework Purchasing Disorder. Still looking for a self help group on that, by the way.

He was full of tales of derring-do, all of which which seemed to involve lobbing grenades at the enemy, which then bounced off tree branches and landed among his own team, exploding and causing mayhem. Heh.

Reminds me of our days fighting in the musket block, blowing stuff up. Ah, the romance.

Other news. Getting a bit tired of moussaka now. Still loads left. It was lovely, mind.

I looked at the recipe and thought "Hmm, that's not much for four hungry (alright, greedy) people," and I doubled up the quantities. I think I realised it was a mistake when the damn thing wouldn't all fit in my huge casserole dish and I ended up making two lots.

Still, meant I could sit on the sofa last night eating tasty leftovers and watching Shrek 2 on DVD. Marvellous. I love being a grown-up.

Saturday, 24 November 2007


Well, just got it in the oven. Bloody hell it takes a lot of making.

Smells nice though.

I used a Delia Smith recipe (can't go wrong with out Delia) which involved sprinkling the sliced aubergines with salt, leaving them squashed under a plate for 30 minutes and then shallow frying them all till they were golden brown. And boy, were there lots.


Put the radio on while I was making a cup of tea. Is that Vic Reeves show a joke? Sounds like a 6th Form attempt at comedy, broadcast from a teenager's bedroom.

Bloody hell.

Embarrassing to listen to. I hope he was pissed while he made it because otherwise he's just completely lost the plot.

Slash and burn

My preferred gardening style.

Spent an hour or so outside yesterday hacking stuff down*. God it was satisfying. Filled the green wheelie-bin with bits of rose bush, weeds, clematis and other assorted stuff that looked like it was dead. Well, it is now, anyway.

My hands are a mess though. Even with gloves on, the evil bastard Sleeping Beauty stylee brambles which have started to colonise the front garden managed to hack me to ribbons. Big thorny fuckers.

Still, they are stuffed in the bin along with loads of other stuff, so who's laughing now? Not the brambles, matey.

Other news: Discovered Scrabble via the web. As if I didn't spend enough time on the internet. Spent a satisfying hour playing via Facebook. It's great when you discover that your mates are just as evil and over-competitive as you.

If I could hook up a life-support system I'd never have to go out again. In a bubble thing. You know the sort.

Once again, the future is NOT what Star Trek promised. Gah.

(Note: I was going to put a link here to a previous "why isn't life like Star Trek" rant, but it's buried in the middle of the huge single posting from when I transferred from MySpace to Blogger. So if you're interested, you'll have to go right back to the start and find it yourself. Sorry.)

Am planning on making moussaka this afternoon to feed our mates when they come over tonight. Never made it before but how hard can it be? It's just a lasagne with ideas, really. And if it's shite I'll make some nice bread or something to draw their attention away.

We're all off to play Airsoft tomorrow**. That's where you get given a modified AK47and run round the woods blasting your mates with biodegradeable ball bearings.


I came home from the last game with loads of interesting bruises, especially the long line of small circular ones all the way up the inside of my leg, up over my tummy*** and over my shoulder. I was creeping (I thought imperceptibly) towards some enemy players, but they spotted me and raked me with machine-gun fire from about 3 directions.


So it's shameful because you're crap at sneaking, and painful when they hit you. I might suggest it as a teambuilding thing at work. Heh.

*In my garden, not just at random.

**If it's not raining. In the event of inclement weather I will be in front of the fire with a cup of tea and a good book.

***Quite a long way

Thursday, 22 November 2007


Yes, I look like a panda.

Forgot I was wearing mascara for a change and scared the shit out of myself when I walked past a mirror earlier. I look tired AND dead. If I was skinny I'd look like a Goth.

Have been wasting my life on the internet this evening, whilst playing my guitar. All very relaxing. Just as well after the big scary meeting at work today.

Whoever arranged the working lunch was a genius. A dozen Very Senior and Important People Indeed sat round the conference table, tucking into little bags of crisps like seven-year-olds on a school trip. Hilarious.

Still, kept them all reasonably quiet while I did my bit. Apart from the rustling of all the crisp bags.

Heard a fab story yesterday. A colleage was reminiscing about the good old days when computers were new and scary. Apparently he shared an office with several other guys and they had a little standalone machine in there which everyone was terrified of.

A very senior manager came on a visit, popped into this office and spotted the computer.

Very Senior Manager: Oh well done! A computer! Do you use it much?

Nervous underling: Um....a bit.

Very Senior Manager: (encouragingly) Yeeeees? And what do you use it for?

Nervous underling: Well, it's really handy for making lined paper. For when we send stuff over to the typists.

It seems they only used the computer to print out page upon page of lined paper so they could hand draft all their letters and take them to the tying pool.

How times have changed.

I hope.

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Rock Chick

Yes, really.

Had a superb guitar lesson this evening. Learned The Hives "Hate To Say I Told You So", Jefferson Starship's "Jane" and we did a cracking version of Metallica's "Nothing Else Matters" - me on rhythm, my lovely teacher providing the (and I quote) face-melting guitar solo. We also did a fine version of Neil Young's "Rocking in the Free World"

Bloody excellent.

And I made him listen to Whitesnake's "Child of Babylon" which he hadn't heard before. I sang that in a folk club once. When they asked if I'd like to perform, I stood up and belted that out.

There was a bit of a stunned silence, then the compere said "Um...very good. Who's that by?" He looked a bit wounded when I said "Whitesnake".

People should sing more. It's good for the soul.

Sunday, 18 November 2007

Coffee to go

Got home this afternoon from visiting some mates up in Nottingham. It was a lovely visit. We saw their house for the first time, they had arranged a fantastic dinner party with some excellently entertaining mates of theirs, we heard all about their incredible adventures in Pakistan, and we ended the evening by singing along to a karaoke dvd at the top of our lungs.

Ahhhh, classic home entertainment. I love singing. As does our host. It was very, very pleasant.

The drive home this afternoon was a bit of a nightmare though. Some fuckwit had had an accident on the M42 and we ended up sitting in a traffic queue for the best part of an hour, while it got colder and colder.

The rain turned to sleet, which meant Mr WithaY and I could have the "Ooh, perhaps we'll get a proper winter this year" conversation. Which was nice.

We ended up calling in at the supermarket in Bath on the way home as it would have been too late by the time we got back here, did a grocery shop, scooted home, then had a nice cup of tea and some scones.*


On the way up there on Saturday morning we stopped off at some services on (I think) the M5 for a drink and a bite of breakfast.

There were two or three little old ladies in the queue ahead of us, chatting and giggling quietly. They were Welsh, and none of them was over about 5'2". I got the impression they didn't get out much, and this was a bit of an adventure for them. We stood patiently behind** them, doing our famed "Godzilla devastating Tokyo" impression whenever they weren't looking.

We stood there for quite some time, as there was only one girl serving at the counter. Who would ever imagine a coffee bar being busy at 11am on a Saturday?

Not fucking Costa, that's for sure. Gah.

While we stood there, more and more teeny old ladies appeared, joining their mates in front of us. I didnt realise for ages because my attention had been diverted by the World's Ugliest Rugby Fans. I think a coachload had arrived, and boy, they were unattractive. Distractingly so.

Anyway. When I looked at the queue in front of me, bugger me if it hadn't grown from about 3 little old ladies to about 12. And no, I am not kidding.

Mr WithaY and I glared at them in increasing irritation but without saying anything, obviously. Far too British to make a scene, oh dear me no.

I tried to defuse the situation by saying to him "Don't stress, they're old, they'll die soon." His response? "They fucking will if they do that again." Classic.

It gets better.

They then started the "Oh, I just want a coffee please dear" thing to the girl behind the counter, who reeled off all the options available, and they all nodded sagely and said "Yeeees, just a coffee please."

It went on for what felt like a week. Eventually an understanding was reached and the girl said "Is that to go?" Oooh yes, it was to go, thank you very much love.

After another hellish eternity the twelve coffees were handed over in paper "to go" cups. There was much excitement about paying (Paying! At the till! What an idea!), but it finally got done.

Then we had the Dance of the Napkins, Sugar, Stirrers, More Napkins, and "extra milk, ooh, tip a bit out love, bit more, bit more, ooh, lovely", and finally, finally, it was our turn.

We got our drinks and lunch (we'd missed breakfast by now) and turned to find a table.

Fuck me, if all the tables were't filled by all the little old ladies, with their "to go" coffees.


I had started laughing by now, and had to sit down until it stopped. I think they thought I was a mentalist on a day out.

*which I made as soon as we got in, because I had been fantasising in the traffic queue about a cup of team and warm scones with butter. No, I don't know why.

**loomed over

Friday, 16 November 2007

Still frosty

Off to Bath in a bit. The place. Not the activity.

Heh, I make myself laugh.

Anyway, driving over to the office there, dropping some stuff off, having a chat about the general rubbishness of the IT system and then coming back here to work at home this afternoon.

I have a ton of planning to do, and here I can do it in my slippers. Bonus.

It's another glorious frosty sunny morning. I could get used to this.

Feeling far less crap and grumpy today, which is a relief. Hurrah.

Thursday, 15 November 2007


Still grumpy, which is partly because I've been a bit under the weather.

Went out for a fab Chinese on Tuesday night, as planned, but was then sick for 24 hours afterwards. I don't think it was anything I ate that night because everyone else was fine, and we all ate the same stuff. It meant I had hardly any sleep on Tuesday night*, stayed at home on Wednesday being sad and sorry for myself, and am in the office today with a headache and a bit of a scowly old face.

Did the rest of the job interviews this morning, which went ok I think. I have to drive to Bath tomorrow with all the associated paperwork because our HR system is a bit, well, crap. It's a long and tiresome story, but basically there is no indication on the computer system that if you fill in the electronic forms in the wrong order you lock everyone else out of that bit of the system. I went all the bloody way through the on-line "help" to check**.

So, I did what I thought was the right thing, accidentally buggered it all up, and then got a frankly rather cheeky telling-off from the HR goon over the phone. Words will be had when I see them about appropriate telephone manners and customer relations.

Other news: Really beautiful frost this morning. It was -2 outside the house this morning as I scraped ice off the car. Driving across Salisbury Plain was lovely. All the trees and grasses were covered in hoar frost and the sun was shining. Magical. Bit cold though.

I went to the supermarket in town to fill the car up with diesel before work today. It costs £1.07 at our local petrol station. Bloody atrocious. Only (only! ha!) £1.02 at the supermarket.

Our American mates were horrified when they worked out that we are paying about 9 US dollars a gallon for fuel. I think they said they pay about 3.

It's getting to the point where we are having to seriously consider which journeys we can cut out to save on fuel.

I only ever seem to go to work or the supermarket anyway. Gah.

*Kept feeling like I was going to barf...ugh

**Looking for more evidence of crapness

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Grumpy. Well, a bit.

Have been feeling a bit low and grumpy. Might be because I am tired after the weekend, which was lovely by the way. Having the Middle Sis and family to stay was great. Children were entertaining, Sis and bro-in-law were on good form, we ate and drank and talked bollocks. All good.

Maybe it's the aftermath of the last month or so of hectic stuff - overseas guests, Kevin the Decorator, new carpets, work going ballistic - but I felt like I just wanted to go to sleep and stay that way indefinitely yesterday. Resorted to having a little weep mid-afternoon and was more or less ok afterwards. I was working at home so could make a cup of tea and sniffle pathetically in private for a few minutes.

How pathetic. Me a grown woman.

Mr WithaY was up at 6 today to get the train to London for a meeting. Gah. I hate early starts.

On the plus side, we're off out for a Chinese with some of our lovely neighbours to help one of them celebrate her birthday. Mmmmm. Chinese. That'll be two in a week, as we had a monster fatboy takeaway on Saturday night as well.

Mmmmm. Fattening.

Other news: Have been conducting interviews at work all this morning for my new team, which was interesting. It's been years since I was on the scary side of an interview. And more to come on Thursday. Hurrah.

Was reminded about something that happened at the firework and local radio gala we were at the other weekend. There was loud funky music blaring out from the fairground rides, and as it was chilly I started jigging about a bit. Mr WithaY stood perfectly still, patiently waiting for the fireworks.

Me: Come on, have a little dance!

Mr W: I am dancing.

(A few moments pass, I keep jigging)

Me: Awww, come on, dance a bit.

Mr W: I am.

Me: You are not!

Mr W: My aura is dancing.


Monday, 12 November 2007

Probably breaching copyright

I loved this.

BBC Upgrades Flap To Row
November 9, 2007 | Issue 43•45

Friday, 9 November 2007

Weekend plans

Hurrah! Middle Sis and family are due here tonight for the weekend, which I am very much looking forward to. Been bloody months since we last met up so it will be great to catch up.

The new carpet looks very nice, albeit not the colour I thought it was going to be. I might take a scrap of the leftover stuff to the shop to compare with the sample, just to check I am not going mad.

Mind you, if it is the wrong colour, what will I do? Have it all ripped up and replaced? Can't bear the thought of all that disruption.

And it looks fine. Really. A bit beiger than I anticipated, but not too bad at all.

The entire house is full of carpet fluff though. I reckon it'll be the other side of Christmas before we get rid of it all. Still, makes finding dust bunnies more exciting. Dust Elephants.

Thursday, 8 November 2007

Success. And carpets.

Hurrah for me! Held the First Ever Inaugural Major Important Significant Big Old Meeting for my work project yesterday and nobody threw stuff, shouted or told me I was an idiot.

So, good.

Work has been really busy, and also really interesting for the last couple of weeks. Good again. Even looks like I might be getting some more staff which will take the pressure off a bit.

Our recruitment process is Byzantine. Internal recruitment, mind. People who already work for us and fancy a bit of a change. Not even having to advertise outside. Takes forever and if you get it wrong you get chased up and down the corridors by hungry, angry wolverines. I believe. I may need to read up on the personnel regs to confirm that.

Only downside is that I have had to be in the office a lot more than of late, which means more driving and less staring out of my window at home at all the lovely scenery*.

Other news: The carpet blokes have been in this morning, fitting new carpets for the stairs, landing and bedrooms. Mr WithaY is at home supervising. We had a delightful evening last night ripping up the old carpets and dumping them in the garden.

The dust! The filth! The stench! And that was just me cooking supper.

Apparently there has already been a disaster this morning. When the carpet blokes dropped the underlay on the upstairs landing, they managed to dislodge the glass lightshade out of the hall light below, so that smashed all over the floor.

That means I will have to try and find a new shade, or, failing that**, get an electrician to replace the whole bloody thing because it is one of those "flat against the ceiling" lights that have to be wired in properly.


And they're charging us an extra fifty quid for "Moving furniture" because we hadn't emptied the entire upstairs of all our stuff. I can only assume they had imagined we would be stacking the beds, chests of drawers, desks, chairs and all other bits and bobs in the front garden. Bastards.

All my guitars are carefully placed in the sitting room until it's over. It was a bit Spinal Tap last night as we sat there watching Heroes.

I carefully disconnected my internet modem box connection thingy and packed my laptop away so it should survive unscathed. Unless they drop fucking underlay on it of course.

I anticipate a challenging evening of trying to reconnect to the internet and get everything working properly again. At least there is plenty of tasty leftover last-night-supper*** to keep me going.

*and the petrol station, which is interesting in itself. Sometimes it gets robbed.

**which is pretty likely, as that kind of light is usually sold as a complete unit. Gah.

***still being a domestic goddess, but only intermittently at the moment.

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Cultural void

While our American mates were staying with us we became intimately acquainted with all kinds of TV channels we didn't even know we have access to. No, not that kind. Tch.

Fox News for example.

If you have the free satellite channels, check it out. For vapid, un-analytical, self-referential trivia, it's unsurpassed. I watched in open-mouthed dismay as they ran (heh) a story about some chap who was going to take part in the New York Marathon. Barefoot.

Now that in itself is quite an interesting little story.

He was being sponsored to support a charity, he was reasonably articulate, and came across as being someone who might be worth listening to. Did we get the chance to listen to him?

Did we bollocks.

His 30-second appearance was swamped by the ditzy* blonde female news anchor wittering on about how she knew a great place down the road where he could get a pedicure.

Example of one of her interview questions: "You mean to say you've never had a pedicure? Not EVER? Oh wow!"

Then they did a lengthy sequence (I think live) where various news anchors ran around barefoot, shrieking and going "Woo!" a lot. They also compared pedicures.

Pulitzer prize material it was not.

Anyway, we watched Fox because our guests were desperate to find out the baseball and American football results.**

In the end they found out from "Russia Today" on a different channel which I thought was both ironic and amusing.

They were also trying to follow the progress of the huge storm that was sweeping up across the Eastern seaboard.

Guess where they eventually found a decent weather report?

Al Jazeera. Heh.

So. No intelligent news on the American news channel, no weather and no sports. Lots of footage of plastic-haired grinning idiots exchanging painfully scripted banter, though.

So that's alright then.

*I'm guessing she'd see that as a compliment, though. Idiot.

**Red Socks won, New England Patriots won, they were very happy.

Sunday, 4 November 2007

Loud Bangs

Had an amusing time at the local bonfire and firework thingy last night, marred only by the ridiculously long wait between lighting the fire and starting the fireworks. Getting on for an hour and a half, I reckon.

All so the local halfwit radio station presenters could screech "Woo! Yeah! Let's part-ay!" over the tannoy. Over and over again. The adoring crowd of potato-headed fans (total number - about 6) stood slack-jawed and hot-dog covered until the fireworks started, when they all pointed vacuously at the sky instead.

Probably trying to work out why the stars were falling. I look forward to the panic-stricken letters to the local paper next week.


Saw a bat flying about among the rising embers of the fire. Was probably getting really pissed off that every moth he grabbed turned out to be red hot.

Getting out at the end was a bit of a shambles. Everyone stampeded for the exit the minute the last rocket had done its thing, so there was a massive queue. The soldiers who were managing the traffic did their best but it was obvious that it was going to take ages to get everyone out.

We got stuck behind a nervous young girl who was disinclined to push out into the ever-increasing stream of traffic, which was a bit tiresome. She plucked up courage eventually, and we waited to take our turn. Sadly, the utter bastards in the moving traffic began to squeeze closer and closer together, preventing anyone else pulling into the line. Most annoying, as we had been waiting patiently for half an hour by this time.

Suddenly a large shaven-headed* bloke leapt out of his car and stood in front of the moving traffic, stopping it in its tracks. He waved us out, saying "Go on mate, you were there first" which I thought was very nice of him.

And then home for chilli and beer. Hurrah.

Off out shortly to a neighbour's for another firework party. It transpires that Mr WithaY has some sort of medical condition which means he cannot walk past a shop selling fireworks without buying a load. Tragic really.

I might start a charity.

*and not at all potato-like

Saturday, 3 November 2007


Well, Mr WithaY and our lovely American mates are all back home safe and sound.

Apparently the taxi driver who picked them up from the airport had "teeth like a hockey player" which is a great description.

We're off to the local firework display this evening as they don't do Bonfire Night over there, then coming back home to eat our own weight in chilli and beer.

And we have heat and hot water which is a relief. The boiler man left me a long and complicated list of Things We* Must Do with the heating to ensure it doesn't blow up/fall over/have a hissy fit next time Mr WithaY leaves the country.

Last time he was away (diving in the Red Sea in January) it stopped working - different reason though, of course. I got home from work late one evening, cold, tired, hungry, to be greeted by an excited message on the answerphone saying "I've been swimming with dolphins! It's 24 degrees here! I'm so happy!"

I believe bad language may have been used on my part as I donned several fleeces, mittens and extra socks and ate my solitary supper.

Other news: Fucking rat came out from under the shed while we were sat eating lunch today. Scampered cheerfully across the lawn and back again while we watched it. Some Lidl's finest chocolate was carefully deployed to lure it back out and Mr WithaY took up the sniping posision from the Window Of Doom. Sure enough, 30 seconds later it was a ex-rat.

Ugh. Bloody things.

We discovered it had been digging about at the back of the compost bin, probably attracted by a whole egg that some fool** had left in there. We filled in the hole and Mr WithaY broke the egg with a stone***. Oh my word, what a smell.

And on that edifying note, time to go shopping for sour cream and salad for tonight.

* For "We" read "Professional plumbing type". I have no intention of attempting any of it myself.


***from quite a distance...deadeye dick or what?

Friday, 2 November 2007


On the Great Leader quiz I came out as Saddam Hussein.


On the plus side...

I have shamelessly nicked badgerdaddy's link and am delighted that I have this result.

One of the best films ever.

Boiler issues

The boiler man is here, and we need a new pump, as well as loads of other expensive-sounding parts.

Bollocks, I say.

Seems that the water pressure in the system had got low (which implies there is a leak which is worrying), so when the heating switched itself on in the morning, the pump seized and the boiler overheated.

So that explains the loud "Sproing" noise that woke me up in the wee small hours.

Arse AND bollocks, I say.

Thursday, 1 November 2007

Still cold

Well, the house is dark, dank and gloomy. My every step echoes through a desolate void. The world is a hard and lonely place*.


Still, Mr WithaY and the American mates are back tomorrow. Hurrah.

The upstairs hot water isn't working, as I discovered when I was taking a shower this morning. Not something you want to find out after you start washing your hair. Past the point of no return, once shampoo is involved.

I spent a jolly half hour on the phone before I left for work, begging the boiler engineery fixey people to come out and fix it. They said "We'll be there on Monday".

I believe my anguished cry could be heard in Gloucester.

I explained** that we have no heating and no hot water, and that I was due a houseful of guests on Friday.

God, the Americans already think we live in the Dark Ages, still coping with rationing, oil lamps and the 3 day week. No central heating and having to wash in the kitchen sink would really put the tin hat on that.


The general consensus at work is that Mr WithaY is texting the boiler from France to encourage it to save on oil.

I was supposed to be driving to Bournemouth airport tomorrow afternoon to pick them all up but have arranged a taxi instead as I need to be here for the boiler man. Gah.

Other news: Was on a training course at work on Monday and Tuesday (hence not being in France with everyone else) which was interesting. In a sad "Not as good as the South of France" kind of way.

Had a cracking guitar lesson on Monday with my gorgeous teacher. I have been left with strict instructions to listen to Metallica's "Nothing Else Matters" so I can learn it. I don't think I've ever heard it. One of my lovely on-line mates told me to learn it months ago, so I will have to get my finger out and get listening.

So. Off to YouTube later.

Yep. Think that's about it for me today.

*Still bored being here on my own.

**I think he picked up how stressed I was at the point where I said "Just leave it, never mind....please. I will find a plumber who can come out today." I think my normally beautifully-modulated voice may have wobbled a little too.

Wednesday, 31 October 2007


Fucking heating's broken.

Mr WithaY goes away, the boiler decides to break. It is bloody freezing here.

I am tired, lonely, cold and grumpy.

Off to bed to try and get warm. Will hopefully have something worth reporting tomorrow.


Sunday, 28 October 2007


Hey, guess what kind of local produce-related event I went to today?

Apple Day! Hurrah!

We have been having fun, here in Wiltshire.

Our visitors arrived safe and sound on Friday, having crossed the Atlantic in about 5 hours. They had a monster tailwind and apparently were doing about 700mph. Their plane got to Heathrow by 5am, and had to circle for an hour before they were allowed to land.

Still, they managed the train journey to Salisbury and were met by Mr WithaY, and were safe and sound at ours by 11am. Marvellous.

And since then we've been for a walk round the village, to the local farm shop, to the Olives et Al food show at Sturminster Newton (mmmm...olives), to Tescos, and to Apple Day.

And we've had a dinner party and a party party. Sooo busy.

No wonder I'm knackered.

Back to work tomorrow, while Mr WithaY and our guests fly off to the South of France for a few days. Gah.

We were given a new toilet seat as a gift by some of our demented neighbours. They refused point blank to take it home with them again at the end of the evening. So, I now have plans. Mwahahahahahaaaaaaaaaaaaa.

Anyway, Apple Day. I took pictures.

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There were many, many different apple varieties. This room smelled absolutely lovely.

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There were apples that sounded like a grumble:

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Apples that sounded like porn films:

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And apples that were just gorgeous:

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We also met some pigs:

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Which reminds me. Roast pork and apple sauce for lunch. Bloody excellent.

Thursday, 25 October 2007


Been to see Stardust today. It bears an intermittent and passing resemblance to the book, but it's lovely nonetheless. Robert de Niro* was entertaining, especially.

And at the end, the whole cinema went "Awwww" which was nice.

Spent a happy hour or so in Salisbury, buying a variety of exotic stuff** for the weekend. Am getting very excited about our friends turning up tomorrow.

Also found a few bits and bobs for the downstairs loo. It looks great. Kevin the Decorator deserves some kind of medal for services to the incompetent people of West Wiltshire. The whole downstairs feels different now. Cleaner for a start.

I found stuff in there in various boxes that I think we moved house with, almost 6 years ago. And if we haven't needed it in 6 years, I think we can live without it now. Mr WithaY feels differently, however. So we have a big box of stuff in the garage to be sorted out at a later date "in case we need it".

One thing made me laugh while I was in the butcher's in Salisbury. There were two or three young chaps serving at the front of the shop, chopping up meat, making sausages, selling chicken etc, and an older one out the back, doing something mysterious with a cleaver or meat hammer or something.

There was a loud "whack" noise, and an anguished cry of "Ow fucking hell!"

After a few minutes of frantic whispering, he stuck his head round the partition and apologised to me for his language. I said it was no problem.

"I'm very sorry" he said. "But it really, really hurt". I could hear one of the younger lads in the background: "Cor, it's really swelling up now..."

I wonder what he'd hit.

* Like an idiot I had put Al Pacino....thank goodness Mr WIthaY pointed it out before you noticed. Oh bollocks.
**Food, mostly

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

Printer error

Was watching The New Adventures of Superman the other night. One of the episodes where Nazis try to take over the world. There was some kind of a complex plot involving cryogenic freezing, political skulduggery and a bomb, but I wasn't giving it my full attention.

Until this struck me...

Whenever an evil organisation attempts a coup involving the overthrow of the media (especially the Daily Planet), they always have a huge supply of posters, billboard hoarding thingies, pre-recorded videos of themselves gloating and dishing out orders, and those huge building-sized fabric wall hangings, ready to be unfurled at the drop of a hat.

All nicely printed up with their evil logo, in this instance, swastikas.

Why don't the printers just call the police and foil the plot? Tea and medals all round.

They get a rush order in for ten thousand huge banners saying "All Hail the New Evil Regime, Death to All Who Oppose Us, Especially Superman, The Bastard" or something similar, but they never blow the whistle.

Presumably an evil mastermind turns up at the print shop with a badly-sketched image on the back of a fag packet, demands they design a decent one, tells them how many posters etc he wants, and by when ("My Evil Plan comes to fruition on Wednesday, so by 11am would be great, thanks"), and the printers just take the money and get on with it.

What are they thinking? Tch.

Other news: The WithaY house is uncannily tidy. Mr WithaY has been slowly but surely sifting through several years worth of crap in his study, and we can now see the floor again. Just as well because our mate Big Les is sleeping in there on Saturday night.

Kevin the Decorator has played an absolute blinder and the downstairs loo is stripped, pipe-removed, scrubbed, wood-clad and painted, and looks the biz. He is coming back tomorrow to fit new under-stair shelves, and it will then be finished.

I am going to move one of my stained glass panels from upstairs to cover the window in there (for privacy as otherwise it's a clear view out into the garden...and back in of course), and it is all ready.

Our American guests are actually turning up on Friday, not Thursday as we originally thought. They leave Boston on Thursday, but don't get here till Friday. I hope they're not too horribly jet lagged. Still, the spare room is lovingly prepared for them. I plumped the pillows up specially.*

We're off to Salisbury tomorrow to get some Big Town shopping and hopefully also get to the pictures to see Stardust.

I re-read it on the train the other week whilst trying to get to London. It is a lovely, lovely story. If you haven't read it, do so. And then read American Gods. Go on. You'll thank me one day.

Shamefully, I realised that I love that Take That song from the film. Gah. How embarrassing. I like a Take That song.

But (hasty attempt to re-establish some feeble rock chick credentials) I can now play "Teenage Kicks" on the geeetar, and it sounds bloody marvellous.

*Not a euphamism. Tch.

Monday, 22 October 2007


Also, my mad mate Lorraine successfully completed her joust at the Tower Armouries. Brilliant.

She raised a stack of cash for the charity and isn't too badly injured apparently. So well done her.

Mad as a hatter.

And brave.

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Check out the bits of smashed lance flying in all directions. Brrrr.


As I have a few days off work, and therefore have more time at my disposal than usual, I thought I'd post up the pictures of the weekend's Wood-related excitements.

All in the heart of the Wiltshire/Dorset borders area. Lovely.

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It was a glorious day, which meant that we wandered around for a couple of hours in perfect autumn sunshine, not too much mud underfoot, and the relaxing sound of chainsaws all around us.

So. This is where we were:

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There were lots of people doing stuff in the woods:

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Making great stuff out of, well, wood.

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There were some scary bits of wood-gripping machinery.

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Also many people bodging, making chair legs, dibbers, rounders bats and other such long thin things.

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We saw the Great Bustard Project people, which is where I met the dog who I voted "Most Likely To Win A Horseshoe Bat Look-Alike Contest".

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And when I scooched down to take his picture he got really excited and jumped up to say hello, letting out the most evil smelling fart I have ever been unfortunate enough to encounter. Bastard.

There were a lot of people doing stuff with willow. Animals:

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And coffins. I am getting one of these*. Bloody great idea.

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And, just to demonstrate my juvenile and reprehensible mindset, this made me laugh quite a lot:

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A grand day out. There was even a stand selling toasted sandwiches which were really excellent. If Manuel wants to do a review, I can recommend the cheese, ham and pineapple without reservation.

If you are in the area next year, go along.

*For after I die, not just as a talking point. Or to sleep in.

Saturday, 20 October 2007

Hurty paw

Gah! Am typing with one finger encased in huge plasters, after almost slicing the tip off with the world's sharpest knife. Arse. It was so sharp that I didn't realise I'd cut myself for a few made a horrible "meat slicing" noise and I thought I'd cut the washing up sponge thingy. But no. It was me.

Bled for absolutely ages. Was starting to think I'd need to go to Casualty and get stitched, until I remembered that I have no idea where our nearest Casualty unit is...might entail a 50 minute drive to Salisbury. The strategic application of a wet tea towel and some elevation* sorted it out.

Other news: Been to the Wood Fair at the Larmer Tree Gardens today.

I know, I know. Cheese, Wood, what don't we see at Fairs round here? Took pictures, which I will share in due course.

On the way home we called in to look at carpets for the bedrooms and stairs (how much more exciting can this get, you wonder?), then went and bought teak oil and woodstain. And THEN we repainted the shed, a seat, a fence (and my camellias) and oiled all the garden furniture ready for it to go away over the winter. What busy bees we are.

Off out tonight for supper, watching the rugby with some of our lovely neighbours. Which will be nice, as we're both knackered now after all our painting and oiling activity, so somebody else making us a meal is very welcome.

Still unbelievably tired though, and feeling a bit low and weepy as a result which is a shame. Yesterday was a significant family anniversary, which made the day feel a bit odd and sad. So, a few glasses of wine and some cheerful company is just the ticket tonight.

Even with a big bandaged finger. And green woodstain all over my arms.

*i.e: holding my arm over my head, rather than climbing onto the roof of the shed. Anyone walking past our house at the time might have concluded that we are Nazis, though.

Thursday, 18 October 2007

Infrastructure, lack of

I have had two days of nighmarish travelling, and am exhausted. Should be reclining on a chaise longue with a teeny lace and satin hankie in my trembling hand.

First travel nighmare: London.

Left home to catch the 0715 train, which gets me to London by 0915, plenty of time to get across town and have a cup of tea, brush hair, slap on some lippy etc before the meeting.

Or so I thought.

Train got to Salisbury. I hopped off and onto the big fast London train as planned. No problems thus far. Arrived at Basingstoke only 10 minutes late. Still not too bad.


The nice man sitting opposite caught my attention* (was listening to my iPod and reading Neil Gaiman) and said "I think we have to get off here...there are problems with the signals".

Hm. Not good.

So, a whole trainful of people disembarked and scurried down the tunnel, under the lines, up the other side and across to the waiting train on the opposite platform. The already-full waiting train. Which had been held back for 20 minutes so it could meet our train.

How the delayed, crammed-in passengers laughed as an extra trainload piled in around them.

I was fortunate enought ot find a seat (not First Class, but I wasn't going to push my luck), but there were dozens of people who had to stand up all the way from Basingstoke to Waterloo.

Oh yeah, and there was an extra stop at Woking to pick up even more passengers, who should have caught the first train. The one still sitting at Basingstoke, presumably. Bloody nightmare.

We finally crawled into Waterloo at 1020, over an hour late. I scampered across to my meeting (taking some funky escalator photos on my mobile on the way) and was only 30 minutes late.

Four hours from leaving my house to getting to the meeting. Sheesh. FOUR HOURS. Not impressive.

Coming home, I got to Waterloo, found the right platform, had to use a different gate as mine was shut, and ran onto it just as my train pulled away. I thought about running along beside it, waving my arms and shrieking, but couldn't be arsed.

Went and bought some chocolate buttons and a Telegraph instead, and sat quietly for 40 minutes till the next train arrived.


Almost 7pm by the time I got home. That was Wednesday.

Today. Shrivenham. By road.

Only 60 miles from home, not brilliant roads but hopefully not too busy if I left early enough. I had to be there for 9am, so thought I'd allow 2 hours. Just in case of delays.

In the event, I was out of the house and scraping ice off the car at 0645. Gah.

As I'd predicted, the roads were full of large, slow lorries, all doing between 30 and 40mph, with nowhere to overtake, so I was glad I allowed plenty of time. Got there by 0815, cup of tea, nice and relaxed, hurrah hurrah hurrah.

Left at 5, and thought "I'll go home the same way I came this morning. It was nice and straightforward."

What a FOOL I was.

The police had closed a road just as I came off the M4, so I sat (along with about 5000 other people) in an ant-speed** queue, winding down a tiny back road for an hour. Got home at 7pm again, seething.

Other news: Mr WithaY had his exam today and is very pleased. He said he could answer all the questions, and didn't run out of time. Results in a couple of months. We went to the pub for dinner to celebrate.

Also. Kevin the Decorator is going great guns on the downstairs loo.

I came home tonight to find the toilet cistern on the front lawn. I assume he will put it back at some point, and wasn't just having a rock star moment.

*He waved at me, trying to attract my attention without disturbing me. How British.

**An ant with several broken legs. Carrying a huge suitcase.

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Decorator II - the Developments

Hurrah! Kevin the Decorator is coming round early tomorrow to make a start on our downstairs loo. Excellent.

I will be out of the house well before he shows up as I have to be in Central London by 1000 which means a bloody early train.

Other news: Curtain fabric samples arrived today. Two sets, no idea why. I might make some very tiny cushions.

John Lewis. Can't fault their fabric sample delivery system.


The morning started off slightly bizarrely.

Kevin the Decorator turned up unnanounced at 8am to measure up for a job we asked him to do ages ago. He said his dad had promised to call me to tell me to expect KtD this morning. Perhaps he'll ring later tonight.

Not a big deal in itself as I was up, not naked, didn't have wet hair and was halfway through breakfast when he rang the doorbell.

KtD was hacked off though. He left (after measuring and listening to what I want doing), muttering "Dad's always doing this to me. I'll kill him." Heh.

So, with any luck our downstairs loo with be made lovely before our mates from the States arrive, which would be great. It'll be a longer job than I'd hoped though. KtD scraped a bit of the hideous lumpy wallpaper off the ceiling in there and announced that there was no plaster underneath, just plasterboard.

Some fuckwit just stuck horrible wallpaper onto bare plasterboard. No wonder it looks so dreadful.

Not as bad as our last house which had expanded polystyrene ceiling tiles all over the place (well, on the ceilings, anyway). When we took them down we found extensive gaps and holes in the ceiling where internal walls had been demolished.

The kitchen, particularly memorably, had an old packing crate as part of the ceiling. Nice.

Taking the tiles down was tough in places too. They'd run out of the correct adhesive halfway through one room and used (we think) lino glue to attach them. We chiselled those buggers off inch by inch. Gah.

And people wonder why we pay qualified and experienced professional tradesmen to come and do stuff in the house for us.

Other news: There had been an accident on the way to work, so the road was closed, leading to massive holdups and tailbacks. Added half an hour to my commute, which I could have done without.

There was a very bored (and very young looking) policeman sitting in his car with all the lights going, blocking the road. He gave the impression that he'd already been there far too long.

Also. Watched "Bulletproof Monk" on TV last nght. Heh. I love films like that.

Off to London tomorrow. Can't wait. More train travel and tiresome pointless meetings. Marvellous.

Monday, 15 October 2007


After a relaxing weekend away, with my bestest mate. Even though he unkindly referred to my blog as "that moron thing". Git.

Mr WithaY is studying feverishly for his exam this week so I thought a weekend of me being out of the house was a smart plan. Not least because it meant that he didn't have me making helpful suggestions about what to do with the garden, the decorating, the car, new cushions, shall we get a cat/dog/aquarium, future holidays, shall we go to the pictures, yadda yadda yadda.

All things which I think are important and need to be talked about. Not always an opinion Mr WithaY shares, especially when he is trying to revise hard sums.

So. Off to see my mate and catch up a bit. We ate lots, watched some films on DVD and went for a couple of gentle strolls in the sunshine. All very pleasing.

Watched "Little Miss Sunshine". If you haven't seen it, do so. It's lovely. Also watched "I, Robot" which my mate hadn't seen before. I still find bits of it very scary. What a big girl.

Had the world's best late lunch on Saturday in Pizza Express (taking note of Manuel's advice we made sure to leave our tip in cash for the girl who served us). Then wandered along by the river for a while, admiring the late afternoon sunshine. Very civilised.

Saw an entertaining group of buskers in town. A bunch of young teenage boys with a drumkit (with cymbals), some bongoes, an acoustic guitar and (I think) a tambourine were sitting in the street playing, watched admiringly by a couple of teenage girls. Bless.

I didn't give them any money, preferring to let them learn that the world of commerce is hard and cold. It'll be good life experience for them.

Went to Southampton on Sunday and mooched round the big John Lewis there. I love that shop. Found exactly the thing I've been looking for for ages, and was very pleased. Ordered some fabric samples to be sent home so I can ask Mr WithaY which one he prefers for the new bedroom curtains we're having. He doesn't know it yet, but we are. I am fed up with being kept awake by next door's security lighting so we're getting blackout linings. Oh yes we are. Shame we can't get soundproof curtains too, block out the road noise as well.

Had splendid high tea in the restaurant at John Lewis, flushed with success, and then wandered around the park for an hour, where we saw about 15 squirrels. And several big rats, unpleasantly. The squirrels were really tame, not at all bothered when I walked up quite close, although they legged it (pawed it?) as soon as I tried to take a picture of them. Bastards.

I liked that there were groups of people playing football, cricket and the fool, respectively.

Looked at the Lutyens War Memorial, and the Titanic memorial which is most impressive, commemorating the engineers and crew who went down with the ship. Lots of names on it.

Also, there's a splendidly ornate obelisk in the park which was erected by public subscription to thank the bloke who paid for the lamp posts in town. It occurred to me that perhaps they could have just raised the money for lamp posts by public subscription and saved the cost of the obelisk? Anyway, it's worth a look if you're in the park in Southampton.

Missed playing my guitar. Should have taken it with me. My fingers have gone all soft, so it'll hurt like hell when I play it later.

And now back at work, looking forward to seeing Mr WithaY when I get home later. Hurrah.

Friday, 12 October 2007


Yep, I'm off for a bit. Back next week.

Don't forget to feed the fish.

Thursday, 11 October 2007


Interesting drive across Salisbury Plain this morning in the fog. I left home about 15 minutes later than normal (due to sloth and lethargy, mostly) so got stuck behind the bin lorry as it wended its way through the village. That added an extra 10 minutes to the trip, which was tiresome. I did get to watch how the binmen handle wheelie bins, though, which was mildly interesting.

In a "stuck in the fog behind a lorry in the village" kind of way.

And then across the Plain, every bend, dip and hill a new adventure as fuckwit after fuckwit risked not only their own life but mine too by overtaking in the fog. Where are these people going that is worth dicing with death like that?

It was ridiculous. I was doing 60, it's not like I was toddling along painfully slowly.

Not only were they driving on the wrong side of the road in low to zero visibility, many of them did it with no lights on. Gah! Fuckers.

Other news: Watched an episode of The New Adventures of Superman on TV last night. It was (I think) unintentionally hilarious. There was an "Oirish" character with probably the most appalling accent I have ever heard in a professional production.

I genuinely had no idea he was supposed to be Irish until he said something along the lines of "My Ancient Oirish Druid Ancestors would be proud of me". Made me laugh out loud, which frankly was a tough thing to achieve yesterday*.

Went to the gym after work, too, even though I didn't feel like it. So hurrah for me.

Off to the dentist later. It's a social whirl, I tell you.

Peg bucket still looks nice, by the way.

*Just Googled that episode. It's called "When Irish Eyes are Killing" which made me laugh out loud again. And the guilty actor is English. Which makes it even better.

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Shopping. And dropping

At my desk trying to keep my eyes open. And it ain't easy.

No idea why I feel so exhausted, other than waking up at 5am and not managing to get back to sleep until 30 seconds before the radio came on.

I still hate the local radio station with a passion. Fuckwits. They're so smug. So self-referencing. So inane. So bloody pleased with themselves and their fabulous talent. Fucking chimps.

It is painful to listen to, really. If only we could get Radio 2. Gawd, even Radio 1 would do for the alarm clock. At least it would get me out of bed within moments of it kicking in.

So. Bit grumpy today. And my hair looks shite because I didn't wash it this morning, as I am off the gym after work. Being a girl is a pain in the arse sometimes. Ah well.

On the plus side, I took the afternoon off yesterday and went shopping for an iPod docking station. Found one in John Lewis in Salisbury (I love John Lewis. I'm so middle aged now) and it sounds fab. It's smaller than a bit of A4 paper and not a lot fatter. Amazing.

Also bought a huge pile of new towels (for when our visitors come over from the USA...I hear they like new towels in America), some posh guest soap (The soap is posh, the guests are well-balanced and relaxed) some Christmas gifts (not saying what as members of my family might read this...heh), a funky little bucket to put pegs in (yes, I know exactly how sad that is) and a load of groceries. A most satisfyimg foray into town.

Mr WithaY was happy that I found him some nice jerk seasoning. We'd managed to use ours all up. 5 different sorts. All eaten. Incredible. What fat greedy gannets we are.

Then had a very enjoyable guitar lesson where we played Cream's "Badge" rather well. My gorgeous teacher taught me the bridge so I can now play it all the way through, which is satisfying.

Also discovered the "dedicate songs" feature on Facebook. Have been annoying my mates by sending them inappropriate dedications. Well, it amused me for an hour.

It is proving expensive though. I hear the little snippet of the song they let you have, and then I have to go and buy it on iTunes. My collection of 1980s heavy metal continues to grow at a terrifying rate.

Looking forward to a weekend away this weekend. Going to see my bestest mate who I've not seen for bloody ages. And I might get to catch up on my sleep.