Friday, 31 August 2007

While I remember...

When I was bored on the train the other day, I took the opportunity to take a picture of my funky new hair cut.

Please admire the layers.

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Come to think of it, maybe that's why the ticket lady took so long to get to me...perhaps she saw me doing it and thought I was mental.

Travels with my camera (phone)

I thought it would be nice to share a few of the local sights. Mostly because I had my phone with me the other evening while I was walking to our mate's place, and it was a gorgeous evening, and everything looked lovely.


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The new bridge. Very lovely.

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The river, over which the bridge goes. Note the plastic chair, lobbed in by some halfwit yahoo.

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A bamboo thicket. Could be part of the reason for the plague of pandas in the village. Bloody things.

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Only very, very tall people are allowed to live here.

Thursday, 30 August 2007

Ticket to ride. Or Yarmouth. Probably.

Went to London yesterday. Despite the meeting not kicking off till 12.30, it felt like a ridiculously long day.

It doesn't help that it's a 3 hour trip, door to door. I left home at about 9 in the morning, and got back at about 8 in the evening. How people manage that kind of thing every day is beyond me. It must be killing.

As is traditional, there was some rail-related fuckwittery. There was a huge queue at the ticket office so the chap in there told us all to "hop on the train and let the conductor sort you out". Abdication of responsibility or what?

On we duly hopped, but by the time the conductor got to me we were almost at Salisbury. He said "I don't have time to sort your ticket out, you'll have to get it on the next train." Gah.

No sign of any ticket seller on the next train until Basingstoke, 40 minutes into the trip, by which time I was having visions of arriving at Waterloo ticketless and being carted off to prison.

She was very chatty and helpful, and I thought everything was sorted until I checked the price on the tickets she'd given me. £168, to be exact. About double what it normally is. Of course by this time she'd vanished back down the train, so I had to wait till she reappeared (about Woking).

I showed her the tickets and she said "Oh! I see what happened there!"

What "happened"? As if it was just a freak of nature or something. What had "happened" was that she'd pressed the wrong code in for the start of my trip and was trying to charge me for travelling from somewhere near Exeter. Tch.

Anyway, once this was sorted out, the rest of the day was pretty uneventful, thankfully. Was cruelly barracked by the rest of the meeting attendees for eating a cake with Smarties on it from the lunch they provided.


It was very nice, in case you were wondering. Disgracefully, I neglected to take a photo for you.

Other news: I know I'm years late with it, but I found the lolcats site the other weekend. And despite my long-held view that there's something a bit wrong with people who look at photos of cats, have been laughing my head off at it ever since.

Tuesday, 28 August 2007

Crab tragedy

Forgot to mention the crab. Mr WithaY went scuba diving on Sunday, and brought home a big crab.

To eat, I mean. Not as a pet.

He was very excited, called me when the boat docked to tell me to get a big pot of water on the boil so he could cook it as soon as he got home.

"But we're going out to dinner when you get home," I explained. "We can't bring a cooked crab with us. It would look odd."

He eventually agreed, and it was settled that the crab would form the basis for lunch on Monday. A Bank Holiday treat.

We had a splendid evening with our lovely mates in the village, where the general consensus seemed to be that nobody would have minded if we'd brough the crab, but that it wouldn't have gone very well with the fab food already on the menu. So, at least we know for next time.

Anyhoo, come the dawn, Mr WithaY and I engaged on the gardening marathon already mentioned, looking forward to our sustaining lunch of crab sandwiches. Maybe some carrot soup afterwards if we were still hungry.

Lunchtime approached. The crab (cooked by now) was retrieved from the fridge. Hammers, picks and other implements of destruction (heh, waited years to use that quote) were laid out neatly, and the de-shelling process began.

With something of a flourish, Mr WithaY broke into the shell. I watched keenly, trying to identify the more deadly toxic parts of the crab for future reference. There was a small, heartfelt noise of distress from Mr WithaY's end of the kitchen as he discovered that the crab shell was all but empty.

He examined it closely, poking about with skewers and forks, but apart from the actual mechanics of the crab (the engine, I guess) there was nothing but air in there.

A young, tiny weeny crab, wearing a huge, brand new shell his Mum told him he'd grow into, it seems.

Mr WithaY picked every last ounce of crab out of the legs, determined to get at least a snack out of it. It was like the aftermath of a battle sequence from one of the Alien films.

Still, the soup was good. Filling. Just as well, really.

Monday, 27 August 2007


I am covered in it. Well, not strictly true as I had a shower, but in my head I am. And I am still plastered in bloody nettle stings. Gardening. Gah.

Injuries and filth aside, Mr WithaY and I had a very constructive, or possbily destructive, morning in the back garden.

I finally got rid of the freaky rosebush, which was a relief. I bought it a few years back for its gorgeous pink heavily-scented flowers, thinking how lovely it would be in the back border where I could see it from the kitchen.

Bloody thing was miserable as hell in our garden. First year it was ok-ish, then it sulked for a year and produced about 5 flowers, and then it had reams of hideous freak roses.


They were like something out of a horror film. There'd be a normal flowerbud, but once it opened, a second, deformed, warped stem would grow out of it with a horrible little troll rosebud on the end.


I cut them all off and burned them, and that was pretty much that for the whole plant then. It got sicker and floppier until today I decided to put it out of its misery.

It's gone to a better place. (The green bin. Too freaky for the compost.)

Also slashed and burned (well, composted) huge amounts of nettles, bindweed, feverfew, buttercups, dandelions, mint and a load of balm (by accident).

Mr WithaY rather startlingly built a frog house out of old roof tiles he found somewhere, and is hoping a frog or two will move in. He's still referring to any particularly wild and dreary areas of the garden as "habitat", and pretending he is making it like that on purpose to attract bats.

Or was it lizards?

Anyway, creatures of some sort. I covertly pull the more obvious weeds up and hope he doesn't notice.

Other news: Made some fab carrot and fennel seed soup which we had for lunch. Mmmmm, soup.

And scones, so we had a cream tea this afternoon. With clotted cream and strawberry jam. What fat greedy pigs we are. Hurrah.

Played my new guitar for an hour this afternoon. It's just superb. Did Tom Petty's "Mary Jane's Last Dance" and it sounded pretty good, though I say so myself. Am very, very pleased with it.

Despite making the depressing discovery that I sound like a bloody folk singer, regardless of what I sing, thanks to my freebie recording software. Arse.

Saturday, 25 August 2007


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Tell me it's not beautiful, I dare you.

Impulse, acting on

Hurrah! Internet fuckwittery seems to have resolved itself. Just as well because it was bloody annoying yesterday.

Was chatting to one of my lovely on-line mates late on last night and the whole thing fell over dramatically and finally, no email, no msn, nothing. No internet at all. Gah. Leaving me no option but to abandon it and go to bed grumpily.

And hey presto as if by magic, all was back up and running today, for no apparent reason. Fucking computers.

Mr WithaY and I got up early and went into Salisbury, full of plans for a productive and well-spent morning. First things first, off to Costa Coffee for a damn fine breakfast toasted sandwich thing and a small vanilla latte (I only really drink coffee in town on a Saturday morning), then we meeped about the shops a while.

Went into the Virgin shop and spent a bleeding fortune on DVDs and CDs, incuding some more of the excellent Studio Ghibli stuff, and some early Eric Clapton music. And the new White Stripes album - did I mention I ordered tickets to go and see them in Cardiff? Hurrah!

Anyhoo, then Mr WithaY decided he needed some more fishing stuff, so we trotted across town the the Shop Of A Bazillion Bits Of Fishing Stuff. Which, handily, is almost opposite the guitar shop, so I decided to have a quick look in there while Mr WithaY was deciding which fishing weights went best with his eyes.

What can I say?

Things turned serious.

I was young, crazy, didn't know any better...

By the time Mr WithaY had come in to find me, I was already hopelessly in love.


Epiphone Les Paul. Mmmmmmm. Blue.

(cue romantic violin music)

So. Went into town for a few dvds and some moisturiser, came home with a new guitar. I love shopping, me.

Bugger. Forgot the moisturiser.


Friday, 24 August 2007


Tried to chack my email this morning whilst scarfing cereal, and to my dismay my laptop has lost the power of the Internet. No idea why, other than that I defraggd the hard drive last night. I rebooted the laptop, and the internet magic box thingy a couple of times, but no joy.

The prospect of a long weekend with no email, online chatting or impulse shopping looms.


Still, maybe it will have magically fixed itself when I get home.

Wednesday, 22 August 2007

Cups II

Was looking at the pics on my phone and found this one, taken in Bombay Nights in Bath. Where the whole "golden goblet-fest" thing came from.

The background:

One of our mates was telling us about an exhibit she'd seen at an art thing, where there were loads of tiny goblets made from sweetie wrappers in a cute frame.

I didn't know what she meant (sweetie-wrapper-goblet-deprived childhood, obviously) so people started making them out of the chocolate wrappers to show me.

We made loads (see earlier photographic evidence) and the staff even brought us another big heap of chocolates so we could carry on being creative.

Things turned competitive.

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Low class

I went up to London for my meeting (successful, ta), and met my lovely mate Biggles for lunch afterwards, which was an unexpected bonus.

We chatted, ate splendid fish and chips in a pub (jealous, American readers?) and then he very sweetly walked me back to Waterloo to get my train.

Had a fantastic view of the London Eye as we crossed the bridge, which sparked a discussion about other freakishly altered fairground rides you could put in a big city. Our favourite was the enormous, really slow Helter Skelter that takes an hour to slide down, then slo-o-owly bounces you across the river on a giant coconut mat.

Anyhoo. Got to the train, and asked the nice guard (who looked a lot like Lord Bath, oddly) if I could use the door he was stood by.

"Yes love, but it's First Class."

"I am First Class" I said, trying for a haughty and devil-may-care tone, but sadly coming across rather whiny and crap, waving my ticket at him.

"Well, in that case I'll let you in" he said.

When he checked my ticket later he made a jokey comment about how he could "just tell" I was First Class. And so the long afternoon wore on.

I plugged mysef into the iPod, and listened to 1980s heavy rock all the way to Salisbury, where you have to change trains. As I stepped off the train, the friendly guard was there again.

"Ooh" he said "Not sure First Class people paint their toenails bright red!"

"Only the sleazy ones" I replied, trying to decide whether I was pleased he'd noticed or affronted that he'd been looking. Tch. Girls, eh?
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Not First Class toes, allegedly.

Tuesday, 21 August 2007

Cups and cakes

Cups and cakes...
Oh what good things Mother makes

Aww, you know the words, join in! are some cakes.

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Middle Sis' fab birthday cake. And darn tasty it was too.

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The frankly mental birthday cake from Friday's party. No idea how it tasted, but my, it looks fine.

Other news: A bunch of us went to a rather excellent Indian Restaurant at the weekend and had a highly convivial evening. The meal was fantastic, the service was cheerful, entertaining and prompt, and the company was marvellous.

The restaurant, for those who are interested, is called Bombay Nights, on the Bristol Road in Bath, and I can recommend it without hesitation.

We ate like kings (greedy ones) and all enjoyed a relaxed and entertaining night. And best of all, we made stuff with the chocolate wrappers:

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Goblets. Faaaasands of them. And don't they look pretty?

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So pretty, we had to make more.

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And then display them artistically.

Monday, 20 August 2007

Camel/goat horror

From the BBC website, this little gem caught my attention:

"A woman in Australia has been killed by her pet camel after the animal apparently tried to have sex with her. The woman was found dead at the family's sheep and cattle ranch near the town of Mitchell in Queensland."


Why did she have a pet camel in the first place? Oh wait...

"The woman had been given the camel as a 60th birthday present earlier this year because of her love of exotic pets."

Aaaah I see. Fair enough.

Tsk, how unfortunate.

But it gets worse...

"The camel was just 10 months old but already weighed 152kg (336lbs) and had come close to suffocating the family's pet goat on a number of occasions."

WHAT? I mean....WHAT? There's a picture in my head now that will keep me awake at nights for years to come.

Much like that poor bloody goat, I expect.

Sunday, 19 August 2007

Elves. Bastards.

Been watching Countryfile this morning whilst doing the ironing (little vignette of life chez WithaY there for you), and it was all about Iceland. Not the cheap and slightly bizarre food shop, but the country. Amazing.

The thing that impressed me the most was not the reliance on natural geothermic power supplies, or the whale-related stuff (watching and shooting), or even the truly incredible landscape over there.

No. It was their elf-related tourist industry.

They take it very seriously, the Icelanders. To the extent that buildings are designed to avoid the places where elves are known to live, and roads have been diverted around particular rocks and stones that they like.

They interviewed an Icelandic lady who is an expert on elves, asking her lots of questions about what they like, dislike, where they live, and so on.

So far so good. The interviewer adopted a sort of half-jokey approach, obviously not being rude to the lady in question, but equally obviously wanting to make it clear that she thought it was all just a bit of fun.

"And are they good, these elves? Are they kind?" she asked.

"Oh yes" replied the Icelandic elf expert. "As long as you don't upset them. Then they do bad know...make you lose all your money, break your legs, that kind of thing."

In one moment it went from Nordic Whimsy to Terrifying Otherworld Protection Racket.

Saturday, 18 August 2007

Party animal

Just got home after a fab party over at the pub. A mate in the village had her 50th birthday, and my lovely guitar teacher's band was playing, so a grand night out for all.

Especially me, because I drank a shitload of gin and danced like nobody was looking. They were, obviously, because a large bird bouncing about on the dancefloor always attracts attention. Heh.

The band were fab, despite the intermittent addition of an extra singer who seemed to be so nervous that she forgot all the songs she was doing. Still, a cute dancer so I guess nobody minded too much.

It was very tempting to do the Joan of Arc thing from "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure" though ...the bit where she shoves the aerobic instructor sideways off the stage and takes over the class. Maybe next time.

The birthday cake was a true work of art. I took a photo, which I will post on here as soon as I am sober enough to work the camera again.

Had a great time at my bestest mate's last night too. Was lovely to catch up, it's been months since we got together. He took me into town in his new car. Well, tried to.

Winchester, sort your fucking traffic problems out. Please.

We ended up driving all the way across town to the Park and Ride, and getting the bus back into the city centre. Not terribly sensible, but all the carparks were full. Gah.

Had a pasty at Reeves the bakers for lunch (mmmmmm pasty) then wandered around in the sunshine for half an hour, buying bits and pieces I cant get locally. Then had to head home, braving the hellish Friday afternoon A303 traffic.

Mr WithaY was gratifyingly pleased to see me after my night away, so that was nice. Especially as he danced with me at the party, despite his earlier predictions about the unlikelihood of that happening. Heh. Excellent.

I was told that my blog "isn't spiteful enough" by one of my mates in the village. I think she's planning to start her own, so hopefully if she has any spite to spare I can have some. Heh. Hello Sarah.

Mr WithaY and my guitar teacher are cooking up something to do with me playing in/with a band later in the year. Slightly worryingly, I was told they plan to "groom" me. Hmmm.

More news on that as it breaks.

Thursday, 16 August 2007

Smug. Again.

Ha. Have had a hugely constructive day at work, and am about to leg it to my bestest mate's house for the evening. Hurrah! Haven't seen him for bloody months, and am very excited cos he has a new car to show me.

He's been without one for about 3 years now (don't quote me, I'm winging the numbers here) so I will begin the traditional "Why don't you come and visit for the weekend" hassle-fest today. I bet he's missed that.

I'm in a goooood mood today, the sun is out at last, so it actually feels like summer again.

We had an email last night from our lovely mates in America who are coming over to visit in October. Unfortunately too late to visit the Frome Cheese Show (Sept 8th, tickets on sale now!) but I daresay we'll find something to do to keep them entertained. The pub over the road is likely to be a good place to start.

Had a nice guitar lesson last night. My lovely teacher showed me how to re-string my Strat, which was surprisingly straightforward. It sounds gorgeous now. It keeps dropping out of tune, of course, but once the new strings have settled down it'll be fab. He said "We're a guitarist short for the gig on Friday, bring your guitar to the party". Heh. Silly bugger.

Other news: The ungrateful bastard birds have started to eat the food in the garden. Rather like sulky teenagers they are pretending they're not interested, then going "Well, I'll just have this one sunflower seed, as you make such a FUSS".

When you look out again five minutes later, the air is thick with chaff. Excellent.

Tuesday, 14 August 2007


If you get the chance, watch that programme on Channel 5 about First World War Trench archaeology. It's very interesting, desperately sad, but best of all stars my mate Martin.


Almost forgot....I was reading the BBC story about the shooting of the Hell's Angel on the motorway at the weekend.

At the end of the story they have their little comments form, with a header saying

"Are you involved in biker clubs? What are your experiences of them? Send us your thoughts using the form below."

I love the idea that:

a) Hell's Angels would read the BBC webpage (no reason why they shouldn't, I just find it incongruous for some reason)

b) that someone would write in saying something like "I used to be in an outlaw back patch bike gang but left after they discovered I'd stolen all their money, shagged the road captain's girlfriend and ran over the club cat. I am now living under an assumed name in Belgium. If any of the guys from the old days want to get back in touch, I'd love to hear from them, especially Knuckles and Mad Damo."

I remember when the Bulldog Bash started. Loads of my mates used to go along, that and the Kent Custom Show. Aaah, those were the days.

One year there was a huge explosion when a gas cooker/chip fryer/gas cylinder blew up inside a tent/van/converted bus....the details are hazy 20 years on. Anyway, it was the talk of the town for a while.

Rain. Again.

Well, it's pissing down again. So, that'll be summer over and done with then. A week and a half of sun, in between 5 months of Weather From Hell.

Driving to work earlier, there were big chunks of the road surface washing away on the roads across Salisbury Plain.

I'm betting we'll have flash flooding over the next 24 hours if it keeps raining, as the drains are all overflowing.

In the village there were huge pools of standing water around each drain, and there was a new stream running down from the fields into the road.

All a bit worrying.

Things at work are pretty slow at the moment. It's summer holiday season, so loads of people are out of the office, but even so things seem to have all but stopped in their tracks. Not quite sure why, so have spent the morning deploying my finest and sturdiest poking stick to get things moving again. We shall see.

Found out last week that the party we're going to on Friday has my lovely guitar teacher's band playing. Excellent.

And we had an invite to another mate's party in September. A weekend of camping, eating, drinking, singing and playing the fool (I expect). Really looking forward to it. I might chicken out and see if we can book a B&B though, if it keeps bloody raining.

Many years ago, whilst camping with a huge load of mates, one of said mates rather over-refreshed himself. He was carefully put in the recovery position, outside his tent (it was a warm night), and left to sleep it off. Much later, after everyone had gone to bed, he woke up, realised he was going to be sick, grabbed the zip of the tent door, opened it, stuck his head inside and threw up lavishly.


Monday, 13 August 2007

Doctor, doctor

No, not the start of a crap joke, the excellent UFO track.


Been to see mine today to talk about my high blood pressure.

Good news: I am not likely to start pumping it out of my ears just yet.

Bad news: I am officially a fat bastard and need to lose weight ASAP. Damn.

And there was me hoping that the height/weight charts would have been seasonally adjusted to make someone of my build the perfect female form.

The UFO thing reminds me - Michael Schenker (yes, THE Michael Schenker) played a gig at the Frome Cheese and Grain the other week. How unlikely is that?

I was seriously considering going along, but tickets were £20 each and Mr WithaY resolutely refused to go with me. Also it was in the middle of my Holiday in Wiltshire when my lovely Mum was staying, so it wouldn't really have worked out. And the reports from our man at the gig were "It was crap".

According to informed sources, Mr S came onstage apparently a little the worse for wear, was unrecognisable, incomprehensible, and the music was so poor that people were leaving before the end in droves. A real shame.

Still, there are a few bands coming to play there over the next couple of months that I might go to watch. Frome seems to have a never-ending demand for AC/DC tribute bands. Maybe it's a contractual thing - every other gig has to play all of AC/DC's back catalogue. Not that I mind.

Other news: Did some mega rain-forest style slash and burn gardening at the weekend. Very satisfactory, but it means that the rest of our estate* looks a bit rubbish now. Mr WithaY filled up all the bird feeders but I think our feathered friends are sulking and ignoring us because they've been empty for a few weeks.

I suppose thre's only so much rejection a bird can take before it gives up entirely.

Ungrateful little bastards.

*The back garden. And the front garden. We only did the little bit round the side, really.

Saturday, 11 August 2007


Bit hungover today, bizarrely. We had a bit of a late night one way and another, what with the gin and all.

Bill the Spill stayed for a late-ish breakfast, then headed out West. Mr WithaY and I chilled out and read the papers, drank tea and pottered about being mildly domestic. The weather has been glorious. We talked about doing a variety of jobs, gardening, painting the garage door, fixing the shed roof, but ended up meeping about the house and being quite laid-back.

Around lunchtime a mate of Mr WithaY's turned up, to discuss the Foot and Mouth restrictions (we know how to live out here), and we had tea while he told us horror stories about Pet Snakes I Have Known.

They all seemed to involve giant albino pythons "they can grow up to 28 feet long!" and mishaps with dead rats.

"I told him to use soap when he washed his hands after he'd fed the two rats to it....still, he got the lid of the tank shut in time and eventually the python let go of him...they've got 250 teeth you know."

And so it went on. Heh.

I love living here.

Friday, 10 August 2007

Still tired, but a bit pissed as well

Ahaaaaaa. Back from the pub, with a glass of wine to hand. Marvellous.

My lovely mate Bill the Spill is here this evening, having called up earlier today to say he was on his way out West, and could he stay over at ours tonight.

Why, yes of course.

He was here in time to witness my guitar lesson, and to make him happy we played a couple of Lynyrd Skynyrd songs. Marvellous.

In fact, what a great reason to go and have dinner in the pub, and some gin. Beer for the lads. I had gin though. Mmmmm. Gin.

Am still very tired, but this is partly due to Mr WithaY getting up at 5am to go out fishing for the day, and despite his attempts at quietness, waking me up too. So, my plans for a bit of a lie-in this morning and an early night tonight have both been thwarted. Ah well.

No plans for tomorrow at all. Other than sleeping as much as is humanly possible.

Thursday, 9 August 2007


I'm so tired. So very, very tired.

Tireder than a really tired thing.

Had a poor night's sleep, no idea why. Woke up at 6, got up at half past, got to work about 40 minutes earlier than usual, then sat here in a daze, wishing I was still asleep.

I have a meeting at 3 this afternoon with my boss's boss, so can't even bale out early. Gah.

Still, I plan to get to the gym after the meeting which will energise me a bit. Or I'll drop dead on the cross trainer. If I do, I leave my Magnum CDs to my lovely guitar teacher. Heh.

Am working at home tomorrow so at least I won't be contending with hellish Friday traffic. No plans for the weekend. Mr WithaY should have finished his Open University assignment by the end of today, so we might be able to go out somewhere if the weather's good. Maybe to the coast, which would be nice.

We both spent last weekend saying "Isn't it lovely not having to drive?" to each other at regular intervals. Another sign of encroaching senility.

I remember going to a National Trust place once with my bestest mate. We walked around the garden, looked at the flowers, admired the sheep, peeked into the Chapel, then went to the tea shop for a cup of tea and a nice sit-down.

And we agreed that the tea and nice sit-down was the best part of the trip.


Still, am getting to grips with HTML. Hurrah for that at least.

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

I'm a cartoon!

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Hah haaaaa. This is me, Simpsonized! Stole the idea from badgerdaddy. Bloody great.

Cake, hopefully

Ok, going to try and upload a photo now

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Cake, as promised

Well, whaddya know! It worked!

I made them, don't they look great? Mmmmmm profiteroles.

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Heh. My drive home from work (taken while I was not actually driving, safety police)

Crap joke. Sorry

Reminds me of a joke:

A long distance trucker breaks down at the side of the road, and starts to panic. He has a crateful of monkeys which he has to get to the Zoo. After a while, another trucker pulls in behind him and asks if he needs help.

"Yes" says the first trucker. "See this load of monkeys? They have to get to the Zoo. Can you take them there?"

"Sure thing" says the second trucker, and loads the crate onto his lorry, heading off up the road. First trucker relaxes and settles in to wait for the recovery crew to come and fix his lorry.

After many hours, he sees the second trucker heading back his way.

As it gets closer, the first trucker sees that the cab is full of shrieking monkeys waving Zoo flags, eating popcorn, carrying souvenir filled shopping bags.

"What's going on?" he asks the second trucker. "I thought you were taking the monkeys to the Zoo for me?"

"I did" says second trucker. "They had a great time. I'm taking them to the beach tomorrow."


...check out my use of HTML. I am so proud.

Monkey magic. Again

I absolutely love this.

Mad hat story

I mean, what more could you ask for in a news item?

It has an air passenger being a bit mental, it has a monkey, and it has idiot fellow passengers who felt that they had to ask the man if he knew he had a monkey on his head.


Achy breaky legs

Had a fab gym session after work last night. Only did about 35 minutes but it was all quite hard work, and made me get very red and sweaty (that image is for free, enjoy). Listened to AC/DC throughout, which helped enormously.

God I wish I could play like them.

Got home and ate tandoori chicken and blueberries (but not at the same time, that would just be wrong), which was pretty fab too.

My legs ache today though. I am so unfit.

Mr WithaY is off out with a film crew later on tonight, looking for deer. Apparently they were going to bring a "tame" deer with them, release it on Salisbury plain and film it scampering and cavorting freely, before loading it back into their truck and taking it home.

Mr WithaY pointed out that it is the middle of the rut (i.e: when all the hot deer love action happens out there), so a more likely scenario would be:

Release "tame" deer.

Watch said deer race off over the horizon following the tantalising smell of lady deer in his deprived nostrils.

Wait for several hours.

Realise he isn't coming back.

Get back in truck.

Go home.

They decided that filming wild deer was more likely to be productive, so Mr WithaY is going along as a sort of native tracker for them. I hope they at least buy him a drink for his time.

Talking of game tracking....I've just finished reading the Alexander McCall Smith detective agency books based in Botswana. I avoided them for ages, partly because I thought the title of the first one was too naff and twee for words, and I imagined it being the sort of book that people who don't read much would like.

Such a snob!

Anyhoo, I thoroughly enjoyed them, and for the first time in my life found the thought of going to Africa mildly appealing.

Other news: Are the words "breach of biosecurity" the most terrifying in the English language, or what?

I am astounded at the revelation in the paper today that the bio research lab in Surrey is being hailed as the most likely cause for the Foot and Mouth outbreak.

For fuck's sake. If you work with deadly toxins all day every day, maybe you get blase about them. "Hmmm...where did I put that bottle of terrifying live virus? Oh, here it is, next to the yoghurt!" Tch.

And if it was a deliberate breach of security, why choose F&M? Why not Anthrax? Or Ebola? Reality once again mirrors a John Wyndham novel.

And a sad little story on the BBC website about the Yangtze River Dolphins. It's believed that they are extinct after a lengthy study failed to find any of them. If they are it's the first time in 50 years that a large vertibrate has become extinct.

They might have all popped out to the shops of course.

Tuesday, 7 August 2007

Someone is sitting in this office eating what smells like reheated cat food. Possibly liver and rabbit flavour.

There are about 40 people sharing the space, and now we're all sharing the smell of whatever is being enjoyed by one of them for lunch. Nice.

I am not having a good day. It started quite well, with an early arrival at work, a clear run here thanks to the school holidays and a distinct lack of tractors on the road, but it's been sliding downwards since about 11am. Ah well.

Off to the gym after I finish this afternoon which will make me feel better.

Talking of tractors, I was stuck behind an old one last night, trundling along the little road into our village. It was raining hard so I was content to sit behind it, not being in a particular rush. Another, much newer, much bigger tractor approached in the opposite direction. The lane is narrow, so I watched developments with interest. The drivers engaged in a mock duel with their tractors, pushing each other into the hedges, and making "aiiiieeee" gestures at each other. I thought it was funny.

Bugger. Now there's was bloody wasp flying round my head. Having long hair is all very well but if a wasp gets tangled in it you're in trouble.

Gah. I wish I was somewhere else.

One thing that made me laugh last week, which came to mind again today.

My Mum told me how she took one of my nephews to church one Sunday, and afterwards they sat having a chat.

Young nephew (aged about 4): Did God make me?
Grandma: Yes, he made you.
YN: And did he make rabbits?
G: Yes, rabbits too.
YN: And Squirrels?
G: Yes, and squirrels.
YN: Did he knit them?

I love that image, God sitting knitting squirrels. "Damn, run out of red wool....ahh, got lots of grey, I'll use that instead."

Oh, I know what recently occurred to me. Of all the blogs I read, I think I'm the only person who doesn't have a creative job. Everyone else does cool stuff - publishing, advertising, psychology....I do crappy office stuff. Sigh.

No wonder none of the cool kids want to be my friend. Heh.

Monday, 6 August 2007


Is here. It's official. I did all the washing at the weekend and it was all dry by the end of Sunday evening. Marvellous.

Domestic bliss is a big heap of clean, air-dried towels. Not that I have any option to the traditional green drying approach, not having a tumble dryer.

I like to tell people it's because I disapprove of their impact on the environment but really it's because I can't fit one in the kitchen. I'd far rather be perceived as an idealistic eco-warrior than a whiny middle-aged woman who wants a bigger kitchen*.

On second thoughts, my eco-warrior credentials are rather disastrously impaired by the large 4-by-4 I drive. So bollocks to that, then.

Hey, I use my acoustic guitar sometimes. That must count for something in the grand scheme of energy-saving things.

Other news: I bought a copy of the film "Bullshot" a couple of weeks ago. It came out in the early 1980s, possibly 1983, and went nowhere at the cinema. It's an affectionate spoof of the Bulldog Drummond genre, with an excellent British cast featuring several comedians (Mel Smith and Billy Connolly for example). There were a few films like that around then. Billy Connolly was in "Water" at about the same time I think.

Anyway, we had a copy of it on video, and that video had long since worn out. We looked for it on DVD for years, but no joy. Until....ta-daaaa! Amazon had it in stock. Yay! I ordered a copy, it arrived, we were delighted.

Until we watched it, that is.

In a concession to modernity, they'd changed the format to Widescreen (no idea what the ratio/aspect thingy is, sorry). Rather than stretch the fim sideways to make it fit, they'd lopped the top and bottom off it. This meant that for many scenes, the actors' faces were missing off the top of the screen. Fuckwits.

It was still an enjoyable film, but it was irritating.

I'm no expert but I would think twice about chopping the ends off something to make it fit before checking that it wouldn't ruin whatever it was I was chopping. Gah.

Also. Domestic goddess status creeps ever closer. I borrowed a steam cleaner from my Youngest Sis and had a go at doing the tiles in the shower. Not terribly effective, but that might have been my technique. And it got rust stains off the limestone floor tiles in the bathroom.

However, I would suggest to anyone who is remotely interested that a day when it hits 30 degrees outside is probably not the wisest day to start steam cleaning the house.

Back at work today, catching up after a week out of the office. Nice to see everyone, and even nicer that the weather has stayed fine. Makes the world of difference.

*Note to any readers who've been to my house: Yes, yes, I know I have a feckin' huge kitchen. Sssssh. Don't spoil it for the others.

Saturday, 4 August 2007

More monkey magic (but with fewer monkeys)

So, to Bath on Thursday for a day of tourist activities. The weather was less than perfect, in fact it started to piss down with rain 15 minutes into the journey, and kept going for the next three hours solid.

Thanks a lot, weather deities.


So, we went straight to the tourist bus stop and got tickets to do the Skyline tour (I think) which takes you all around the outskirts of the city, up to the top of some of the hills. It was quite good, except the guide kept saying "Ooh, it's much better in the winter when the leaves are off the trees".

Great. We'll wait 5 months and come back then, shall we?

Anyway, that aside it was most enjoyable. We did the traditional Tea At Sally Lunn's (no buns though), then the other half of the bus trip all round the city itself, and then it was lunchtime.

All Bar One. Tapas. Bloody great.

We ate like kings for about 20 quid for the three of us, then wandered round town a while. We were going to do the tour of the Pump Rooms but there was a queue of about 150 foreign students, so we decided to sack it and come home.

I paid the traditional visit to Long Tall Sally first, of course.

One thing I particularly liked was the West Indian busker who was making the huge long queue of people outside the Pump Room join in with his rendition of "Don't Worry, Be Happy".

Another little siesta when we got home, then to the pub for supper, and afterwards watched Casino Royale on DVD, mostly to settle an ongoing debate about who was the best James Bond. Mum and the lovely Spanish student both voted for Sean Connery, I still hold my view that Daniel Craig is pretty superb in the role.

Friday morning I drove them back to Sussex, then more or less came straight home to try and avoid the nightmare that is the English road system on a sunny Friday. I failed, but at least I was able to detour away from the worst of it.

Sadly all the driving (about 500 miles over the week) has not helped my back, which is playing up again. Fuck it.

Mr WithaY arrived home safe and sound on Friday after what sounds like a highly entertaining week away. He said that the floods in the West are still pretty horrendous. I can't imagine what it must be like for those poor bastards who've had everything washed away and ruined.

Still, it's been nice and sunny here all day.

I now have a great recurring fantasy, though. The naughty monkeys at Longleat are not trashing cars at random.


They are scavenging for parts. And one day soon they will complete their ownw Mad Max stylee vehicle, made from stolen bits, and escape to a life beyond the fences.

They'll have to get through the lion enclosure first, mind, so they'd better get some decent bodywork sorted.

Friday, 3 August 2007

Monkey magic

Back. After an activity-crammed few days, too.

What have I been doing? Well, glad you asked...

Ok, Sunday I went to Mum's place in gorgeous West Sussex, and spent the majority of the day chatting, drinking tea and reading. Very indulgent. Nobody makes a roast dinner like my Mum.

Monday was another quiet day, lots of chatting, a bit of errand running, visited Youngest Sis and family, went to the Quiz with Mum and her friend and Eldest Nephew. We came third, winning £9.50 to share between the four of us.

Hah haaaaa. Take that University Challenge!

You don't see any of them winning a quarter share in £9.50, do you?


Tuesday was slightly marred by an annoying trip to the hospital, for an appointment which had happened the day before. We went and got the makings of a picnic from Sainsbury's on the way home, then chilled out all afternoon, preparing for our visit to The Theatre.

It warrants capital letters, the Festival Theatre. We saw Hobson's Choice, which was excellent.

I think the average age of the audience was in the high 70s. I felt like a giddy young thing by comparison. Marvellous.

Wednesday was changeover day, when Mum and her lovely Spanish lodger came back to mine for a little holiday in Wiltshire. He is heading back to Spain next week and was keen to see Stonehenge, Bath and the animals at Longleat. He's been watching Animal Park on TV it seems.

So, on the way home, we called in at Stonehenge for the full Stand Near* the Stones Experience.

And you know what? It was pretty good.

I took some A1 top banana photos which I will share just as soon I get off my lazy backside and follow the instructions. It helped that the weather was glorious for almost the entire week. Gor blimey but it makes a difference.

To the village pub for lunch, then ho, to Longleat, to see the animals. We were all far more excited than was seemly, and thoroughly enjoyed the drive through the "not likely to kill you" bit, with giraffes, camels, zebra and some other big cattle type things. All very educational.

But what we really wanted to see were the MONKEYS! There are huge signs up all through the park warning that they will damage your car.

There are even pictures** of monkeys with spanners in hand, trashing vehicles.

There are big warnings up telling people not to enter the monkey arena if they have a soft-topped car.

It's pretty clear that you go in there at your own risk, and that the Longleat Estate takes no responsibility for any damage.

So what do we all do, all we happy £20 a ticket punters? We all go "Nah, it won't happen to me," and drive into the monkey arena, laughing merrily.

And guess what? Those hairy little fuckers trash car after car after car. They're really good at it.


They seemed to prefer LandRovers, especially the ones with roof bars and ladders, probably because they afford lots of handholds. Several such vehicles did the complete circuit with several monkeys on their roof, looking like a South American market bus, passengers shrieking out of the windows in fright, trying to see what their hitchers are up to.

But they also like new cars with plenty of nice black rubber trim, so they can pick one end out of the car body panels and then RIIIIIIIIIIP the whole lot off, flinging it onto the side of the road.

Longleat have a lost property office full of bits of car, apparently.

We watched in horror (mixed with glee, obviously) as a tiny baby monkey jumped onto the car in front of us, grabbed the aerial and bit the rubberised end off it, before carefully bending it double. Little bastard.

By the end of the circuit, my white-knuckled hands were ready to swerve the car out of the way of (and quite possibly straight over) any monkey who looked like he was planning to hop aboard.

We made it through unscathed, and cheered ourselves up by buying a cup of deer food and hand feeding the fallow deer in the next enclosure. Again, photos were taken.

I'm still in two minds as to whether it's a good thing to go straight into the lion enclosure when you're covered in deer lick, though. Still, the lions were all half asleep, as is traditional, and we enjoyed watching them yawn and roll about like lazy cats. Which I suppose they are, when you think about it.

The house is being renovated so we only got a truncated tour, but can go back later in the season for another look if we want, on the same ticket, which is fair enough.

Then back home for a little siesta (civilised habit), then my guitar lesson, then a fab tapas-themed dinner. And a dvd.

This is a hugely long post. I'll stop and continue later on.

Heh. Don't want anyone getting bored now...

*Not too near, obviously.

** drawings, sadly, rather than CCTV footage like on Crimewatch

Wednesday, 1 August 2007


Safe and sound.

Been to Stonehenge today on the way back from Mum's. Bloody great. Took loads of pictures.

Off to Longleat this afternoon to see the animals. I may take my shotgun in case any of the fucking chimps try anything untoward with my car.


Home. Bloody great.