Tuesday, 30 December 2008

No news

Wow, long break. I suppose spending the best part of a week eating and watching TV isn't really terribly inspiring in terms of blogworthy adventures.

Christmas was pleasant. We ate a lot, possibly our own weight in turkey and ham, and watched more tv than seems feasible. Most relaxing.

It is fearsomely cold here at the moment. Yes, I know all the North Americans out there will be snorting with mirth at the idea, but to us a day which doesn't get over 0 degrees Centigrade is a Very Cold Day.

Am still trying to get over my disappointment at the lack of Dinotopia on the TV so far. Outrageous.

And tomorrow we are off to Homebase to buy replacement lighting. I'll keep you posted. Try to contain your excitement.

Wednesday, 24 December 2008


Got my parcel! Yay! It arrived as I was writing a cheque for the Log Man (who delivered our logs 2 days early, great stuff) and making sausage rolls and talking to my lovely Mum and wrapping presents.

It's all go here.

Father in Law WithaY is moving into the nursing home today too, so will be (hopefully at least) starting to be settled in for Christmas. We can pop over and see him often, each time saving us a couple of hours driving, marvellous.


Time to start thinking about lunch. And that.

Monday, 22 December 2008


Parcel people came while I was out.

I expect to see my order being returned to the Stygian haze of the Amazon warehouse very soon.


Saturday, 20 December 2008

Going postal

Oh yeah - if you are ever planning to send me a package, don't use City Link. They are bloody hopeless, on current evidence.

I have a package supposedly on its way from Amazon, who are usually absolutely no trouble at all.

I came home from work on Tuesday night to find a card through the door saying that City Link had tried to deliver my package, but had failed because there was nobody home to sign for it. All the other things I have had delivered from Amazon over the years have been left without a signature, but apparently this package is extra special.

Why? Who knows. It's not a Faberge egg, sadly.

So. I took the card to work with me on Wednesday and called the appropriate depot, bloody miles away in Bristol. They said "Your package is out on the van today, to be delivered." I explained that that would be no use, as I was in London. They said "Oh."

After a thoughtful pause, we agreed that my package would be delivered on Friday, when I would be home to sign for it, and take delivery into my own fair hands. And have a retina scan and full rectal probe if required*.

All day long I waited sadly, like a spaniel who had been left behind while everyone else went out for a long walk in the country.

By 7pm it was plain that my parcel was not in fact going to be delivered. This morning (Saturday) I called the City Link depot. The one in Bristol. The lady who (eventually) answered the phone was very pleasant, and apologised for the "confusion".

Um, no. You told me it would be delivered. It wasn't. That's not confusion, it's a cock-up. YOUR cock-up, to be precise**.

But anyway.

I asked them to deliver my package on Monday, and leave it at the Post Office over the road, as various other companies have done for us over the years, including Amazon.

"Oh no, we can't do that. You have to call the sender and ask them."

Alright then. Can we have it delivered to the house on Monday and just leave it outside?

"No, sorry, the sender needs to agree to that. You have to phone them and ask."

But it will be delivered on Monday, at least?

"No, you need to tell the sender, as it has failed to be delivered three times now."

But it wasn't even attempted to be delivered on Friday! The magical third time, apparently. I was in. All bloody day. Waiting. No parcel. Nothing.


She gave me the phone number of the sender (Amazon....do try and keep up) and I left a tetchy message on their answerphone. We shall see if my package appears on Monday.

*You never know your luck.
**I didn't say that out loud. Wish I had though.

Horsing around

Where have I been? What have I been doing to keep me away from my blog? Was it something truly magnificent and thrilling to justify so long an absence?

In short, no. I was in London on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, and as I tend to get home late, cram dinner down and lie exhausted on the sofa, watching undemanding TV till bedtime, I tend not to blog on the days I'm in town.

Thursday was an extra specially late night home, as we had our work Christmas lunch. We went to the Thai restaurant just off Trafalgar Square, in Norway House (I think) and had a damn fine meal. Very traditional, Thai food. Heh. I shared the vegetarian menu with my vegan colleague, and it was lovely.

Afterwards we went to the Ship and Shovel and did a quiz, mostly about work, which meant I was able to add very little in terms of real value, but I did draw beautiful stars all over the answer sheet, which hopefully earned us some credit.

All this excitement meant I caught a later train than usual, and joy of joys, it was pretty empty as it left Waterloo. Yay. Loads of spare seats, lots of leg room.

But no...wait...what's this? We stop at Clapham and hordes of small children pile aboard. Arse!

There were at least 400 of them in my carriage. They made enough noise for that many anyway. The responsible adults with them sat down at one end of the carriage, and the children, little girls aged from about 5 to 12 dispersed themselves all over the place. They started off well enough, but within 15 minutes were shrieking, whispering loudly and having a fake hair-pulling fight. The air was rapidly filled with high-pitched machine-gun giggling, loud weeping and fragments of snacks*.

Marvellous. I turned up my iPod and tried to pretend I was on a beach somewhere.

Arrived at my station at about 8pm-ish, and took great delight in getting off the train first so I could flee the car park before all the small children did (yes, they got off at my stop).

Overheard one of the responsible adults say to one of the shrieking moppets, who was carrying a huge toy pony/zebra thing under her arm, "Oh, we'll have to phone daddy and tell him we're bringing home another pony!" I'd like to think they were talking about toys, but I think not.

Went straight from there to a party in the village, which was lovely, but I was so tired I only stayed for an hour or so. What a lightweight. Mind you, getting up at 6am three days in a row is knackering. I am still walking at least one of the journeys between Waterloo and Victoria each day, which is a good 30 minute walk. So being a bit tired is to be expected.

We have been preparing a variety of meat-related foodstuffs for the meatfest tonight. But to ensure all the food groups are represented, I have made a chocolate cake for pudding.

Other news: Looks like father in law WithaY will be moving into the care home in the next village before Christmas, which is marvellous news. Will save us a huge amount of driving, to start with.

We've put our Christmas lights up in the front garden and so far West Wiltshire still has electricity, so that's encouraging.

I'm off work now till January the 5th. The longest break I've had from work (not counting 3 weeks when I had bronchitis) since last Christmas. And lord, I feel like I need it.

*Seemed to be fig roll biscuits from where I was sitting. Nice and sticky on the table tops.

Monday, 15 December 2008

I got the power

Well, I have now, anyway.

Picture the scene....Last night, Mr WithaY and I settled ourselves down on the comfy sofas after eating a large curry (home made, and delicious). We'd put the Christmas tree up, and were admiring the twinkling lights, and all the little decorations we always forget we have, and we were starting to feel a bit more festive than we have of late.

I made poor Mr WithaY sit through Will Ferrell in "Elf" as we put the tree up, which was on tv. It was mildly entertaining, and helped with the increase in festive feeling.

So, peace and harmony reigned. Aaah lovely. We were chilling out and planning an early night.

And then, with no warning, all the lights went out.

My first thought was that our twinkly Christmas tree lights had blown a fuse somewhere, but when we looked out of the window, the whole street was in darkness. The pub, the garage, the neighbours. Dark, dark, dark.


'Tis the season to be subject to prolonged and annoying power cuts once again!

Now I feel Christmassy!

We got power back by about 10pm, when a nice man from the power company came round to make sure all was working once more. In the meantime, to amuse myself while we sat in the rather romantic candlelit sitting room, I played my acoustic guitar. I enjoyed myself, anyway.

Anyhoo, it meant we got to bed a lot later than we'd planned, so I changed my working in London days, and will go in on Wednesday, and am working at home today instead.

Other news: The flood in next door's meadow receded as quickly as it appeared, thankfully. Gave me quite a scare though, seeing the river come up so fast.

We went to see father in law WithaY on Sunday and he is looking much better, and is actually quite positive about things. The hospital staff down there have been brilliant; it looks like he might be getting a place in a nursing home in the next village down from us, five minutes away. Which would be excellent.

He asked us to clear out his freezer. So we did. Oh. My. Word. The things we found in there!

Eels! Pigs trotters! Unidentified jellified brown stuff in margerine tubs!

It was a real voyage of discovery. We filled a couple of black bin bags with stuff to throw out, and the rest is now in our freezer. In fact, we are planning a meatfest dinner party next weekend to help diminish the WithaY meat mountain.

Which will be nice.

Saturday, 13 December 2008


Next door's meadow is flooded. Something that has not happened in the almost 8 years we have lived here. The water is probably about 100 yards away from our house, which is scary.

The forecast says no more rain until next Tuesday, but it was torrential on Friday night, so it will take a while to drain into the river, I suppose.

I have moved my guitar upstairs for safety.

Friday, 12 December 2008

Red red wine

The things you see on the train.

Last night, on the way home, I managed to bag a seat at one of the "four seats round a table" spots. A prime spot as long as you don't have a daddy longlegs opposite you. No, I checked carefully. The chap opposite was broad, but not tall, a good combination usually.

He smiled politely as I sat down opposite him, next to a woman who was studying a stack of work papers. The other seat next to the chap, by the window, was unoccupied. The chap opposite me arranged a newspaper, a heap of napkins, a large baguette, a plastic glass and a small bottle of red wine on the table, preparing for a picnic on the journey.

He seemed very happy, but brightened up visibly as a slim, pretty young lady made her way along the aisle towards us.

"Room for a little one here!" he boomed, patting the seat beside him.

She kept walking.

The woman next to me read all her papers, then started working on her laptop. She was a lawyer, and now I know all about the case she was working on*.

The chap opposite and I played footsie on and off, both of us trying to be polite and accommodating, but also both trying to be marginally less uncomfortable. He had long legs for such a short bloke. Or so I thought, till I looked under the table and saw that I was in fact fighting for floorspace with his briefcase. So I pushed it slowly and discreetly under his seat with my foot and relaxed again. Heh.

He worked his way through the bottle of wine, intermittently reading his paper and dozing. How nice, I thought. How very civilised. Until he rummaged around in his bag and produced another bottle. Greedy bugger! At the very least he could have had a few more plastic cups. Gah.

As the train emptied, I was able to move across the aisle, smiling at him in a "I need more space, I'm not going because you didn't offer me any wine" way. He smiled back in a "I'm really quite pissed now, I have had a lot of wine and baguette, lucky me, eh?" kind of way.

At Basingstoke, two very sweet, dolled-up young ladies came and sat opposite me. They were on their way to a Christmas party. I know because I was eavesdropping on their conversation, despite wearing my iPod. There was a bit of a clue in the plastic stemware and box of wine they were carrying. They sat and drank their wine, giggling and gossiping. I now know how much they earn, and how much they dislike one of their colleagues**.

At Salisbury they tripped off the train, still drinking their wine and giggling, off for a grand night out. Bless.

I arrived home and had time to change out of my suit and into my slippers*** before our lovely mates arrived for dinner. Mr WithaY has decided we need to party our way back to glory. I'm all for that.

As a gift, they presented me with The Farmers Calendar.

It is brilliant, and I urge you all to get your own. I particularly like Mr August, who has struck a pointed-toe ballet dancer style pose, naked in a hop field.

Other news: Went to the dental hygienist this morning. I have wonderful teeth, and she is deeply envious. Yay me. However, at one point she was scraping off some calcified crud from my back teeth, making me cringe.

"Sorry" she said. "I know it feels weird, but this is the best part of the job (scrape scrape scrrrrrraaaaaape) It's so satisfying."

I like her. If it didn't cost me 50 quid a time, I'd go every week.

*Good job I'm semi-discreet, eh?
**See above
***I did wear other clothes as well. It wasn't that sort of party.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Walking back to happiness

Things have been a little stressful of late. Poor Father-in-law WithaY is now back in hospital, and we are trying to establish what happens next. There is no easy answer.

Still, at least we know he is safe and warm and clean and fed, which is good.

Other news: There was a fire alarm at work yesterday, which was interesting. The alarm went off and the Disembodied Tannoy Voice told us all to remain at our desks until told what to do. From where I sit, I could see hordes of people leaving the building, and hordes of firemen coming in. Not a comforting sight.

After several repetitions of the DTV telling us to stay put, the announcement was cut short abruptly in the middle and we were told to evacuate the building immediately, without panic, and no running. So we did, and went and stood out in the shopping centre for 45 minutes. Luckily we had all had the sense to put our coats on.

Indeed, I had packed my rucksack and was ready to go home if the fire raged too far out of control.

Disappointingly, the fire turned out to be a false alarm and we were allowed* back in.

As part of my ongoing attempts to improve my health generally, I walked from Waterloo to Victoria yesterday morning. It was a glorious day, my train was already almost 20 minutes late (signalling problems) so I thought I'd enjoy some winter sunshine and stroll to Westminster, then get the Tube from there. By the time I got to Westminster Tube, I thought I might as well carry on and walk the rest of the way. So I did. Yay me.

It was so refreshing that I thought I'd do the same walk in reverse at home time. I got as far as Westminster Abbey where my right knee clicked painfully, and has been hurting like billy-o ever since.

Managed to walk all the way, but was limping by the time I got to the train, and then was crammed into a seat with insufficient legroom** which didn't help. At least I had a seat. Some poor buggers had to stand all the way from Waterloo to Basingstoke. Which is a long way.

Made cupcakes*** this afternoon as a mate of Mr WithaY was calling in. It was quite nice, taking a late lunch and making cakes. Made me feel like I ought to live in the 1950s.

Right. Time for my guitar lesson now. Haven't practiced much this last two weeks, so will be in the naughty corner I think.

*Forced by our keen management

**ie: all of them

***and very nice they were too. With butter icing and sprinkles on.

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Ice ice baby

Went out a little while ago to move the cars around so I can scoot off at the crack of dawn tomorrow, and my car has a sheet of ice on the INSIDE of the windscreen.

That's not good.

And it's foggy.


Saturday, 6 December 2008

Not tired of life yet

It's been sunny here for two days in a row. That's more than the weather managed all bloody summer I think.

Was in London on Thursday, when it was NOT sunny. No, it rained. All day, as far as I could tell, and in Biblical proportion. I walked from Victoria station to my office, where I saw a man with extremely elegant shoes completely fail to spot the huge, wide, deep puddle, and wade right through it. He seemed to be occupied with his phone or his iPod or some such toy, and wasn't looking where he was going. So it was kind of self-inflicted. He went the rest of the way doing that one-foot-shake walk. Heh.

I took the lovely Z's advice and checked out the list of Tube stations it is quicker to walk between. Waterloo and Embankment, apparently. I decided to test this, and on the way home I got off the Tube at Embankment, then walked across the river to Waterloo.

Not only did it take if not quite less time, then certainly not much more, it was a nice little bit of exercise (those stairs up onto the bridge!) and it was lovely seeing the city all lit up. I will take my camera and do some pictures next week if I remember.

There was a Christmas fair going on along the South Bank, with stands selling German Food (and why is everything German so much more Christmassy? Answers please) and various other attractions. I didn't stand and look properly as I was in a bit of a hurry to get my train. The South American band who busk under the bridge were playing Christmas songs, rather than the music of the ancient Aztecs, which was lovely to walk along listening to.

I was on the train with a few minutes to spare, so I shall be doing that again. It was less stressful (no worrying about when the next train was turning up), it was lovely to be out in the evening air, and I felt like I stretched my legs a bit after a long day at my desk.

I had considered going out at lunchtime to the big Marks and Spencer close to the office, it being sale day and all, but decided against it. Every time I went to look at it out of the window it was buzzing like a kicked anthill.

In the afternoon I had a meeting on the 8th floor, and gawped out of the window on the landing afterwards. We overlook Buckingham Palace. How chic. Didn't see any members of the Royal household gawping back, twitching the diamond-encrusted net curtains and tutting about the nosy neighbours.

I'm really enjoying London. I daresay the honeymoon will wear off eventually but right now every time I go up to the office it feels like a bit of an adventure. It helps that I am getting to grips with the job too.

Remember I was banging on about people eating delicious-smelling food on trains, and how it ought to be a capital offence? Yeah you do.

Well, there was a chap the other day who topped that particular piece of travel misbehaviour. He was on his mobile to his (presumably) wife, ordering what sounded like a fantastic Indian takeaway, detailing the types of meat dishes, rice, breads, sundries and side dishes. "I'll meet you at the station in 40 minutes, please pick it up on the way to there darling."


I think everyone within earshot's stomach was rumbling as he reeled off the menu. "Yes, the lamb samosa...with chutney. And a chicken biriyani...yes, with the vegetable curry. And a keema naan. Or, no, make that a Peshwari naan. In fact, get both." And on and on it went.

I sat there, wishing I had had the foresight to bring my dull, sad, dry cereal bar with me, instead of leaving it in my desk drawer.

On the bright side, I have lost some weight since starting the new job. Yay me.

Other news: Mr WithaY is finally getting over a heavy cold. I think it is the same cold he had last week, and it never really went away. He spent 3 days this week either in bed or sitting listlessly on the sofa, wrapped in many heavy layers. He is on the mend though, and hopefully has had his share of bugs for the Winter.

I have been offering tea and sympathy from a distance.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Ho ho ho

I have been out and about in the big city. And it was really rather nice.

Went up to London as usual on Monday morning, had a successful day at work (yay me), then met my mate Tall Richard outside his office for an evening of middle-aged frolicking.

I took the Tube to Embankment, planning to walk over to his office in about 2 minutes from there. As is traditional, I managed to go in completely the wrong direction on leaving the station, wandering up past Charing Cross into the Strand. I navigated by the stars* till I found Downing Street, then made my way to the appointed rendezvous, still slightly early. So no-one need ever know.

We strolled back the way I had just come (making me feel knowledgable and not too touristy) to Champagne Charlie's, where I had a couple of glasses of fizz. I very seldom drink during the week, so it felt like a real treat. Tall Richard had Beer In A Tankard, but disappointingly, he drank it nicely, refusing to quaff it properly.

We both managed to get covered in sawdust (it's all over the floor in there...I may suggest they add glitter for the festive season), then wandered across the road to an Italian restaurant where we had a very nice meal. Tall Richard, having lived in Naples, is unabashed about asking Italian restaurant staff for free liqueurs. Which they gave us with a smile.

We then took the Tube all over London, as there is no interchange at (I think) Embankment, so we had to go up and down several different lines till we were on the right one to get us to the Docklands Light Railway, and out to Shadwell, where Tall Richard lives during the week.

I honestly think it would have been quicker to walk all the way. We went up and down stairs, along endless tunnels, through stations full of commuters, into little secret doorways to vast empty chambers, along platforms, up and down escalators, finally finding a train to take us where we needed to be.

Anyway. We finally arrived at his little flat (which reminded me very much of being a student), had a nice cup of tea and a chat, then fell asleep to the relaxing sound of every police siren in London being let off outside the windows.

As Tall Richard and family live in the wilds of Suffolk, Mr WithaY and I don't see them nearly as much as we'd like, so it was lovely to have a chance to catch up in the middle, so to speak. Apparently next time I have to wear sturdy walking shoes and be prepared for Chinatown and a Blues Bar.

The trip into work the next morning seemed much less complicated, and I was at my desk by 0815, giving me the chance to be first in, and therefore smug as everyone else arrived.

Arrived home last night to find Mr WithaY suffering from a streaming cold, poor bugger. I think it's the same cold he had last week, and it never really went away properly. I am keeping my distance, whilst providing love and support. And cups of tea.

Other news: Who saw this? I wish I'd thought of it first. I could have borrowed all the dogs in the village and made up a husky team, stapled antlers to the bigger ones and called them Reindeer, and got Mr WithaY into a Santa suit.

We could have borrowed one of the farm fields and roped off a bit in the middle for the festive grotto (no photography) and sprayed the whole place with fire extinguisher foam to make it look nice and snowy. Could have paid for a fantastic holiday in the sun.

Next year.

*followed my nose

Sunday, 30 November 2008

Silent but deadly

Apart from the ongoing situation with Father-in-Law WithaY, what news from the snowy, sleety, bloody freezing Wiltshire hills?

Well, I was in London on Friday for a work thing that everyone else was able to get to, so I sacrificed one of my 2 days a week working at home, and went along. It was actually quite good. An opportunity to meet a lot more of the extended team, and have a chat with people who are usually too busy dashing around in the office to pin down.

Towards the end of the day we were doing one of those team discussions where you all come up with a list of behaviours and traits you think you should be using and displaying. Someone suggested "Patience." A voice from the back said "No, we don't have time for that!" which I thought was an absolute classic.

The event was not at the office, so I walked up from St James' Park tube station, with only a minor diversion up to the Lambeth Roundabout due to my inability to pick the correct direction along a main road. Was a nice-ish morning and I had plenty of time, so the walk was enjoyable.

I also walked back to Waterloo at the end of the day, which was much nicer than taking the Tube. Took about the same amount of time, so I might start doing a bit more walking, maybe get off the Tube one or two stops earlier. We'll see.

On the train out of Waterloo was a family, with a large shaggy dog. The dog behaved perfectly, sitting quietly under the table, occasionally sticking his head out and looking adorable. Once or twice it wandered into the aisle, and was scratched and stroked by everyone in range.

Yes, it was lovely.

Until it started farting.

Picture the scene. A crowded commuter train, people in every seat, some standing in the aisles, and a dog who is niiiiice and relaxed. The looks on people's faces were priceless, because of course many of them couldn't see the dog. I wondered if one chap was going to stand up and demand that the perpetrator confess, he looked so outraged. The mother of the dog-owning family sat there, her face getting redder and redder as the air got more and more crowded.

Unless of course, she was to blame and not the dog. Hmmmmm.

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Not like The Waltons

Things have been a bit fraught this week in the WithaY household.

Father-in-Law WithaY was finally sent home from hospital after 20 weeks inside (poor old bugger) and it has become very clear very quickly that he is in no shape to cope at home on his own. Indeed, he now needs 24 hour care, and so Bro-in-Law WithaY has come down to spend a few days to help try to arrange either a full time care assistant at home, or a place in a nursing home.

So. It's all rather sad and stressful.

It's nice spending some time with Bro-in-law though, as we don't see much of him usually.

Other news: Made an ace sausage casserole yesterday, with pork and apple sausages, onion, tomato and big slices of apple. Was really really tasty.

Apart from that, very little.

Monday, 24 November 2008

Banky panky

So, as I had a gap between meetings today, I tried to call the bank to notify them that I have changed employers.

I know from long experience that calling the Salisbury branch of Natwest is harder than it should be, not least because I don't have a direct number for them. Not that I looked very hard, to be honest.

Anyhoo, I had a "helpdesk" number written in my diary, so I rang that.

Natwest Male Helper: Hello, Natwest, how can I help you?

Me: Hello. I need to let my bank know I have changed employers, please.

NMH: Of course. Can I have your account number? (I give him the number) Thank you. Please confirm your full name (I do so). Thank you. Please can you give me the third and fifth digit of your telephone banking security code?

Me: No, I can't, sorry.

NWM: Aaaah, lots of people don't like giving out their security numbers on the phone.

Me: No, I mean I don't know it, sorry.

NMH: Ok, well, I will pass you across to my colleague who can help you. She will want to know a few more security details, though.

Me: That's fine. (annoying Muzac while he transfers me to his colleague)

Natwest Female Helper: (Very very cheerfully) Hello there! I understand you want us to do a banking services review for you so you can find out how to save money!

Me: Um. No. I want to tell you who I work for now so you can update my account details.

NFH: (brightly) Oh, that's all been done! Now, let's do this review!

Me: It hasn't been done. I didn't even get to tell your colleague who I work for now.

NFH: (Slightly less brightly) Oh. Well, what did my colleague actually do for you?

Me: Nothing. He asked for my account details then passed me over to you.

NFH: Ok, not to worry. Can I have your full name please? (I give her my full name) Oh. This is odd.

Me: What is?

NFH: When did you change your name? I have a different name on my system for you.

Me: I changed my name when I got married, almost 15 years ago. All my bank stuff is in my married name.

NFH: Are you sure?

Me: (Losing what little remaining patience I had left with this farce) Yes. I tell you what. I will go into Salisbury sometime and do this face-to-face. I think it will be easier.

NFH: (Brightly) Yes, you can do that if you want to.



Other news: Saw an Elric lookalike almost get run over by a cyclist outside Victoria station. A new one on me.

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Hanky Panky

I was looking at the box of tissues on my desk the other day, as you do. One the back is a website address for something called the Sneeze Safe Programme, with the strapline:

"And look out for Kleenex tissues featuring Disney characters to make nose blowing even more fun!"

Now, I am not a particular fan of Disney characters, but why would blowing your nose on Winnie the Pooh or Goofy make it "fun"? And, more to the point, why would you want it to be fun anyway?

I have never, in all my 42 years, heard anyone, anywhere say "I love blowing my nose, it's such fun!" I don't see people having a sneeze or a sniffle, then getting their hanky out with a huge excited grin, clearly anticipating having the time of their life.


And I can't for the life of me imagine that parents would want to train their children to expect a rip-roaring good time when they are all snotty.

Unless they are teaching them all about disappointment nice and early. That would make sense.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

99 things to do

Stole this from the ever-entertaining Mr Farty. As he rightly points out, it is hugely USA-centric, but still.

Let's see how many of the 99 activities below I can highlight as having done.

1. Started your own blog - Yes. This one. Look, right here.
2. Slept under the stars - Yes. Under canvas, under a tree, in several ruined castles, between cars, oh, so many outdoor sleeping times. And it was always bloody freezing.
3. Played in a band - Yes! Hurrah! A lifelong ambition fulfilled.
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower - Yes, many times. Lovely.
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland/world - Over my cold dead body.
8. Climbed a mountain - Hills. Small ones.
9. Held a praying mantis - Yes...the album "Time Tells No Lies" by Praying Mantis.
10. Sang a solo - Yes. In choirs, in pubs, in clubs and even on stage with aforementioned band.
11. Bungee jumped - nope, too attached to my retinas, thanks
12. Visited Paris - Yes, loved it.
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea - No but saw a doozy of a storm in Bavaria. Which is like the sea.
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch - yes if you count embroidery as an art
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning Hell yes.
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty - No, but went up to the top of the big park in Barcelona which was pretty high.
18. Grown your own vegetables - Potatoes, carrots and parsnips.
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France - Yes, and which other Mona Lisas are there??
20. Slept on an overnight train - never been on a long enough train journey. Sleep quite a lot on the train into Waterloo though.
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked - Winchester to Durham when I was a student. Took 14 hours.
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill - heh, not these days, but when I was young and crazy
24. Built a snow fort - seldom enough snow. Did make a fantastic snowman a few times though
25. Held a lamb - Yes, it was smelly and greasy
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run - no, am not American
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person - see no. 31 above
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors - Yes, Wales
35. Seen an Amish community - no, but have re-enacted seventeenth century life in all its glory many times
36. Taught yourself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied - Intermittently. But there's always something else you could spend 20 quid on.
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing - Once. Carved my name on the Cow and Calf rocks on Ilkley Moor as a teenager. How environmentally reprehensible.
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke - yes, won a bottle of champagne once
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt - no, see 31 above
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa - Yes! Forgot this one - went to Morocco on a day trip when we went to a mate's wedding in Gibraltar. Was v smelly and intimidating and hot.
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight - yes, was lovely
46. Been transported in an ambulance - no, but did do a mercy dash to Casualty when Mr Withay was bleeding like a stuck pig and had to have a transfusion.
47. Had your portrait painted - yes! By the artist Mick Cawston, in a pub.
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling - Scuba diving off the Turkish coast. Was interesting.
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud - Usually with gunpowder
54. Gone to a drive-in theatre - We don't have those over here
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class - Yes, the instructor took the piss out of me for "obviously liking cake". I complained and got my money back. Bastard.
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching - Yes, saw humpbacks, off the coast of Massachussetts
63. Got flowers for no reason -Yes, have been sent them by others, and also bought them for myself.
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma - blood. Am A negative, if anyone needs any.
65. Gone sky diving - Are you insane? No.
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favourite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial - see No 31 above
71. Eaten caviar - Mmmm fish jam
72. Pieced a quilt - I think my Mum still has the bits in her attic
73. Stood in Times Square - see 31 above
74. Toured the Everglades - see 31 above
75. Been fired from a job - Yep, barmaiding...so the landlord could give his horrible girlfriend my job.
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London - Often.
77. Broken a bone - right collarbone, left elbow, right little toe (not at the same time) - all from falling downstairs though. Am a clumsy oaf.
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle - yep (Mum stop reading now) Was doing 110mph on the motorway on the back; when we slowed down to 50 I stood up on the footpegs cos it felt like we'd stopped. Eep.
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person - no, see 31 above
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper - many times, usually dressed as a scraggy seventeenth century re-enactor
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating - well, have watched someone else do it, and helped out a bit.
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life - Yep, see Mercy Dash at no 46. Also dragged Dutch woman out of the river when we almost died in the Turkish Ravine Incident.
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous - Several, Lorraine Chase tipped me a quid in 1983 when I was waitressing. Which was a lot then.
92. Joined a book club - Yes, left again though
93. Lost a loved one - too many.
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person - again, see no.31
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake - yadda yadda yadda no. 31
97. Been involved in a law suit - yep, sued a nutter who wrote my car off and had no insurance. Git.
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee

What a rich and full life.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008


Ah, another glorious week in the buzzing metropolis is well underway. And I am working at home tomorrow, so yay me. I amused myself on the train ride home tonight by:

a) Finishing my book. "The Suspicions of Mr Whicher: or the Murder at Road Hill House" by Kate Summerscale...most excellent.

b) Listening to AC/DC's new album Black Ice on my iPod. Am still really enjoying it.

c) Composing a list of public transport misdemeanours that should, at the very least, earn you a sharp whack on the nose with a rolled up copy of the Metro.

My list is still evolving, but so far it runs thus:

1) Having your iPod up so loud that I can hear it over the top of mine when you are sitting on the other side of the carriage to me. It is going to make you deaf, you selfish fuckwit, but more to the point, it is really, really annoying. And your choice in music sounds shite.

2) Reading and walking at the same time. I mean, come on. Are we all supposed to think you are a truly intellectual, really deep thinker, unable to bear interacting with the mass of humanity for even the time it takes to negotiate a set of stairs and a ticket gate? Not with that lowbrow action thriller clutched in your sweaty paw, you oaf. Put it away and look where you're going before you get accidentally pushed down an escalator.

3) Sneezing. Yes, I know everyone does it. But try and do it before you get onto the Tube. And for the sake of us all, use a tissue. Do NOT do what one especially disgusting oaf did last week, and sneeze all over your hands, then wipe the mess (and there was a lot of mess) onto the grab rail. Ugh. And ugh again.

4) Getting to the top of a crowded escalator and then just standing there, trying to decide if you want the Eastbound or the Westbound District Line. Yes you, tiny Japanese couple with huge cases. I am talking to you.

5) Grunting. It needs no further explanation. But if you are dozing on a train, and the woman next to you suddenly jabs you in the ribs and hisses "Stop that", that's why.

6) Looking like a nutter on a crowded platform when everyone is having to do that horrible impression of the pennies arcade game where you wait for them to push each other off the ledges and into the winning tray.

7) Eating delicious-smelling food. Especially, and I cannot stress this enough, when it is half past seven at night, I haven't eaten since noon, and I am still an hour away from my supper. You fat greedy pie-eating bastard.

I daresay I will add more. And hey, feel free to join in.

Sunday, 16 November 2008

What chores

So, Salisbury was nice and quiet at half past eight on Saturday morning.

I went into town that early because I had a hair appointment at 0845, and it was fab. Loads of parking spaces, no crowds, no litter...excellent. Of course, most of the shops weren't open, but hey, a small price to pay.

I wandered through the market, which was still being set up, and admired the stalls without having to fight my way though hordes of slack-jawed potato-headed dawdlers, standing and chatting in the middle of the tiny little alleys. Bastards that they are.

It felt like Abroad, seeing the market people shifting their stuff about in the sunshine, making artistic vegetable displays and polishing the piles of batteries, sheepskin slippers and jigsaws.

You can get pretty much anything at Salisbury market.

Anyhoo, hair done*, I launched myself out into the streets to run a few errands. I went to Monsoon and looked at the clothes, and had a quick chat with the nice lady who helped me with my New Job Clothes shopping.

I went to Mark and Spencer and spent a happy 20 minutes picking up tops in Per Una, humming and hawing over them, trying them against myself, finding matching skirts, then putting everything back and not buying anything after a sudden surge of boredom washed over me.

I went to Shoon and exchanged a pair of shoes, after the heel of one of them went white. Very strange. At first I thought I'd stepped in chalk or something, but it didn't come off when I tried to clean it, and I realised that the entire heel, a sort of moulded resin/plastic stuff, had in fact changed colour. It looked a bit like chocolate does when it gets that white bloom on it. Any industrial chemists out there who can offer an explanation?

I'd only had them 6 weeks and they were quite expensive, so I got the shop to change them, which they did cheerfully and with no fuss. So yay for Shoon.

I went to Specsavers and had the nose pieces on my glasses replaced. I tried cleaning them (there's a theme developing here) but they had gone all skanky and discoloured and made me look like I am a filthy pig who never washes her face. So they had to go.

I don't want people knowing stuff like that about me straight off.

Did a bit of shopping, bought loads of inserts for my Filofax, including a street map of London, which will come in handy. I am well aware how sad it is that I like stationery shops as much as I do.

Bought a copy of the Big Issue off a guy who said "Come on darling...to you, one pound fifty and a smile...light up my day." Heh. I am such a sucker for a bit of chat.

As I was driving home I passed a big handmade sign on a fence that said "Happy Retirement Crazy Dave!!" (I think..the name isn't important). I wondered how you retire from being crazy, and go about spending the rest of your life being sane and sensible.

There was a dad and two little boys walking into town, the dad carrying a cake tin shaped like the number 5. Holding his hand was the smaller of the boys (probably the 5-year-old), who was wearing a big hooded coat, carrying a plastic sword. As I got closer I saw that under the hood, he sported a full-face mask, making him look like The Boy In The Iron Mask. The look on his dad's face clearly said He Refused To Leave The House Without It.

And last night we went to a mate's birthday party, which was lovely. We ate the world's largest paella and saw lots of friends. Marvellous.

And now I have to go to Morrison's. Mmm-mmmmm.

*Looks exactly the same as it did before, but has apparently regained bounce and lift due to the layers not being too heavy now.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008


I am snuffling annoyingly, but as I am at home today it doesn't seem so bad somehow. And it's not raining, which is nice.

You do see some types on the train, though, don't you? There was a woman sat next to me on Monday night who should win some sort of award for "Most Tiresome Traveller".

She was middle aged, determinedly blonde in a "Hey, I still have great looks, everyone" kind of way, and dressed like I used to when I was about 15. She had strategically placed her bags and coats all over two seats, trying to stop anyone from sitting next to her, and had her head down, ignoring all the passengers as they got onto the train.

Ahah. I don't fall for that ploy any more. Taking a leaf out of a chap's book who I had watched with admiration that very morning, I said "Shall I put those up on the rack for you?" as I started taking off my coat, and making it obvious I was going to sit there. She looked at me in frank dismay and started gathering up all her stuff, obviously not pleased that I was going to be joining her.

But, if she wants two seats, she can pay for two seats, is what I say. Well, thought. But she could read it in my body language I think.

Anyhoo. She cleared all her stuff away and I sat down, intending to read my book. FidgetWoman was writing letters, or postcards or something, and gradually twisted herself round in the seat till she was sticking her fat arse into me, in a manner I would have thought over familiar in my best friend.

I responded by fidgeting right back at her, putting in my iPod and shuffling around till she realised she was encroaching. She muttered an apology as she sat up straight again. I was tempted to pull the middle armrest down in a challenging and decisive manner, but that seemed a bit too overtly rude. She went back to her writing (she had really stupid handwriting, all big loops and twiddly bits, probably signed her name with a heart over it, not that I was looking), spreading her pens, notebooks, cards and assorted crap all over the table, much to the annoyance of the girl opposite who was trying to read some big serious looking work papers.

After what felt like about 17 hours of this, she excused herself and headed off to the toilet*, meaning I had to wake up from my half-doze and stagger to my feet so she could get past me.

When she came back, I went to stand up but she said "No, no, I'll sit here..." and slid into an empty seat across the aisle. Heh. My "I hate you and everything you stand for" body language is coming on a treat.

After a bit she decided she needed all her bags and crap, so leaned right over the table to pick them up. I offered to move again, but she said "No, it's fine, it's fine," in a flustered manner. The girl opposite and I shared A Look.

Eventually, FidgetWoman had gathered up all her stuff, and as she dragged it across the table, something wet and sticky in one of the bags sprayed all over all three of us. I looked at her in stunned amazement, clearly giving her the "How can anyone be that fucking stupid?" face I do so well.

The girl opposite silently wiped her papers with one hand, then fetched a clean tissue from her bag and wiped her face, before continuing with her reading. Every now and again we shared another Look.

I examined my bag (splattered), my suit (unmarked, or she'd have been stuffed out of the window into the middle of Wiltshire head first) and my beautiful scarf (covered in fuck knows what). Rather than emitting a loud cry of rage and strangling her with it, as I wanted to do, I merely *tch*ed, folded it up and put it in my bag.

It's great being British.

I did amuse myself by watching FidgetWoman's attempts to pretend she was relaxed and happy for the rest of the journey, though. Heh.

Other odd things I saw on the train this week:

1) A large amount of what looked like hemp rope, neatly coiled up in the middle of the track.

2) A small dead greenfinch in the corridor between two carriages. The guard walked down, spotted it, said "Aha! A freeloader!", picked it up by one claw (the bird's not his, he had normal hands as far as I could tell) and flung it into a secret guard alcove in the corridor. Perhaps to add to the stewpot for supper that night, who knows?

3) A middle aged chap in a mostly respectable work outfit, carrying a battered skateboard to use for the rest of his commute.

*Well, I assumed that's where she went. She might have been looking for a contract killer in need of a quick job.

Sunday, 9 November 2008


It sounds like the end of the world outside. Rain lashing against the windows, high winds, mysterious crashing noises from the garden, the wailing of the damned. Brrrrr.

And, just to make my day perfect, I have a cold. Bloody great. Was just about recovered from the bronchitis (bar the occasional lung-busting coughing fit) and now I am the vile Queen of the Snot People. Lovely.

Ah well, I can drag my weary carcass to London tomorrow and make everyone feel uneasy as I sniffle my way through the day. It's good to have plans.

Mr WithaY's kind mate who brought him home from Heathrow came round for lunch today, and showed us the rather fab DVD he is making with all the podcasts from the shark-tagging trip. I had assumed that they did all the tagging from inside a cage under the water.

No no no.

They were in a very small inflatable boat, jabbing at the sharks from above, as other members of the team dangled revolting bits of dead fish in the water, jerking them away from the shark just as it thought it was getting a nice mouthful. They have photos of one of these small boats with a huge hole bitten in the side, after one of the Great White Sharks decided she had had enough of this treatment. Gah.

I'm very glad I had no idea that was all going on.

So. Time for a bite (heh) of supper and then an early night, and then tomorrow a long day up to the Smoke. But Mr WithaY is home, so at least I won't be coming home to a cold*, dark, empty house, to eat my meagre supper of bread and scrape** and cry myself to sleep***.

*Well, warm, but you know, dramtic license
**Fresh pasta and ice cream, but not in the same bowl
***Watch Futurama DVDs and then have a nice bath

Friday, 7 November 2008

Crossed wires

The phone rang earlier this morning. I scampered* to answer it, thinking it might be work.

It was Mr WithaY.

"Gosh! Hello!" I cried, delighted to hear his voice. "How are you? Where are you?" I expected him to say "Houston"...or maybe even "California".

"Heathrow airport" he replied, rather tetchily.

"Already? But you're not due there till Sunday! I'm coming to pick you up!"

Ahahahahahahaaaaaaaaaaaaaa but no.

What was written in my diary, which I had been working to, was complete bollocks. He landed at Heathrow this morning, and I wasn't there to bring him home. I must be eligible for some sort of Crap Wife Award, surely?

Fortunately, one of the other divers lives a few miles away and very kindly gave Mr WithaY (and all his dive kit) a lift home. Otherwise he'd have had a dull couple of hours while I drove up there to fetch him.

Anyway, he's home safe and sound, and is currently sleeping off his jetlag. In fact, it's time I took him a cup of tea and woke him up.

I'm glad he's back.

*Limped. My knees are a mess.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008


No, not the sausages. They are still in my fridge, waiting for me to be at home long enough to cook and eat a proper meal.

My knees.

Guess what I did yesterday? I fell over! Yay me! And yes, I know that everyone who knows me is slapping their foreheads and going "Oh not again!" to themselves.

My Arch Nemesis, Doctor Gravity, never sleeps.

I was on my way to Middle Sis's house after work, and had successfully negotiated the majority of the Victoria line without falling down a hole, or being eaten by rats, which I felt was a bit of an achievement.

My troubles began at Walthamstow. As do so many troubles, I suppose.

I staggered up onto the platform looking for a ticket office, because the Oyster system ends at Walthamstow and you have to buy a paper ticket.

How last century! Paper!

Anyhoo, I was too busy looking for the ticket place that I didn't see a small* lumpy bit of platform, tripped, and fell over. Not a discreet stumble, either...this was a full body splat, complete with swearing. Several kindly commuters rushed to my aid, and none of them tried to nick my bag, which was nice.

And today I have truly magnificent bruises on both knees, and have slightly damaged my engagement ring, so will need to go and get it sorted by a jeweller.

So ARSE to Walthamstow station.

On the plus side, once I managaed to navigate the rest of the way to Middle Sis's house, we all went out for a sumptuous Thai meal to celebrate Bro-in-Law's birthday, which was excellent. Mmmmmm. Thai.

Other Tube news: Saw Phil Jupitus at Embankment looking rather like a 19th Century Russian nobleman.

Spent today at a conference in the Royal Lancaster hotel, which I can recommend. I only saw the conference room and the dining room, but it was very nice. Lunch was excellent. I always feel a bit like a street urchin when I go into a hotel like that, though. You know, having to resist the urge to wipe my nose on my sleeve and offer to shine people's shoes or hold their horses for them.

I expect the Royal Lancaster has special sleeve wipers and horse holders of its own. In bowler hats.

Another long day though. Just as well I don't go into the office on a Wednesday....although, hey...wait....

*alright, teeny. But definitely big enough to make me fall over.

Monday, 3 November 2008


Had a very pleasant weekend, with a mate visiting for a few days. So we did a lot of touristy stuff, including having afternoon tea at the Red Lion in Salisbury. Well, it was pissing down with rain, and we were hungry.

We also bought our own weight in pork products from the butcher in Fish Row, which I cooked over the next couple of days, culminating in a traditional Sunday roast. It was all very civilised.

Today I have mostly been doing domestic stuff and eating leftover roast pork.

Back to work tomorrow, which I am looking forward to. Especially as I am staying at Middle Sis' house, which will be great.

And Mr WithaY comes home next weekend, all being well. Yay.

So. Not much news. Sorry.

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Blast from the past

When I was going into London on Wednesday morning, the train was delayed as we approached Waterloo. We sat still, and then inched forwards, then sat still a bit more.

And so the long day wore on.

After about 10 minutes of this, the charming Polish (I think) guard's voice came over the intercom. She apologised for the delay, and then said "It is because of.....(pause)....a train from the past."

A train from the past eh?

No wonder we were delayed. I was most disappointed when I got out at Waterloo not to see Stephenson's "Rocket" parked up on the next platform, with the bloke with the red flag looking sheepish, apologising to all the grumpy delayed commmuters.

Other news: It snowed! It was minus 4 degrees at 0700 when I was scraping the ice off my car, and by the time the train got to Basingstoke there was significant snow on the ground. And it's not even Halloween yet. Tch.

New job is going ok, I am starting to get to grips with some of the stuff around the edges, which is encouraging. Might even feel semi-competent by Christmas at this rate.

But lawyers. Brrrrrrrrrrr.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008


This week I have mostly been learning about transport around London. I found out how to check how much credit is on my Oyster card*, how to get a seat on the Tube**, and how to get to the front of the queue on the escalator***.

It's been a week of making learning fun.

I stayed at Middle Sis's house on Monday night, which was nice, although I was so knackered that I went to bed before the children did. How sad and old am I, eh?

Due to my stupid initial "being flexible" approach, I have to go into the office on Wednesday (ie tomorrow), making it 3 days in a row in town. Gah. Still, I have now blanked out Wednesdays and Fridays on my calendar and told people I am not in London on those days. I will probably end up having a reputation as an awkward old bag, but hey, I'll get to do my 2 days a week working at home, which was one of the provisos of me taking the job in the first place.

Other news: Went to see my gorgeous guitar teacher's band at the weekend, which was entertaining. On Saturday I went with Bestest Mate to Shaftesbury where we wandered about admiring the surreal shop window displays.

My favourite was the one which had two mannequins with hilariously poor Beatles wigs and guitars, and a series of round flat black plates (I think) with home-made labels on them saying things like "Penny Lane", (had a penny taped to the label), "Love Me Do" (had a load of glittery hearts scattered around) and various others, all in slightly different fonts and layouts. It was like an episode of Father Ted.

Somebody wants to win a prize.

Also, my mate Andy was here this evening for a flying visit, and brought his guitar, so we had a bit of a jam together. Was marvellous. He is really good, and can sing so we did a few songs together that sounded really nice. Unfortunately I am still coughing too much to sing decently, but it was nice to see him and have a go.

Had a message on the answerphone from Mr WithaY in Mexico. He sounds well, and it was lovely to hear his voice. I am pining a bit, it has to be said. What a sap I am.

Right. It's after 10...I need to go to bed or I won't be able to leap out of bed at 0600 with a song in my heart and a smile on my lips. Gah.

*the internet, obviously
**Cough and glare like a madwoman
***shove and barge, and cough as if you are dying of TB

Saturday, 25 October 2008

Started so I'll finish

So, first week in the new job is over.

Of the three days I went to London, I was trapped for ages at Waterloo by train delays and cancellations on two of them. This does not bode well.

I hope it was just an unfortunate glitch, having two out of the three home-bound trains so comprehensively messed up. If not, commuting is going to be a lot more trying than I had originally planned for.

I have slightly amended my plans as to which days I will be in London, too. I will do Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays in the office, and Wednesdays and Fridays at home.

I am giving it a couple of weeks before I start to insist on having my 2 days a week at home, as I think it's important to get as many first meetings in as possible, and if I am hard to reach it will not create a good impression.

Once I have a better handle on what I am doing, I will be able to say "Sorry, that is one of the days I work at home" if people try to set up meetings. Otherwise I'll end up going into the office every day, and that will kill me.

London though. Blimey. Busy, isn't it? And people are so pushy! And I need to re-adjust my thinking to "London rates" for the cost of things like a lunchtime sandwich.

I have an Oyster card! I am so proud.

I decided to walk up the escalator at Waterloo on my way home on Thursday, as I was anxious not to miss my train again. Foolishly, I committed to walking before I looked up at see how long the escalator was.

It was a looooong way up, and I was too embarrassed to then sheepishly step sideways into the line of "Are you kidding, we're not climbing all that way" people on the right. I thought I would die when I stepped off at the top.

Didn't though, so a bonus there. Was a bit red and wheezy while I stood reading the Delayed notice for my bloody train though.

Other news: Had my first guitar lesson last night for about 5 weeks and it was bloody excellent. It's incredible how much muscle strength I have lost in my hands just in that short time. I didn't have the heart to play much while I had bronchitis as I felt so crap, and couldn't sing at all. My voice is still sounding flaky. Hopefully another week or so will sort it.

I need to spend a lot of time practicing my barre chords and stretches, as I really struggled with the progression on "Back in Black", which I used to do reasonably easily.

Did anyone manage to get AC/DC tickets? I didn't. Gah.

Off to see my gorgeous guitar teacher's band tonight with my bestest mate, so am looking forward to that very much. Yay. Live music.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008


Gosh, so much to tell.

First thing, Mr WithaY got off to Mexico safe and sound. But you know that because he's commented on the blog to tell me.

I can recommend the Sofitel hotel at Gatwick North. The room was more than adequate, the bed was large and comfy and the room service brought us pints of cider. Hurrah! We watched "Prince Caspian" on the in-house movie channel, and had a very pleasant evening.

The trip was enlivened by the lifts. The hotel is built with reception on the first floor, so when you walk in from the car park you have to go up a level. Once you check in they give you an electronic key card thingy so you can operate the main lifts to the bedroom floors and get into your room.

We checked in, were given the cards and headed off to the lifts, hauling all Mr WithaY's huge dive bags along with us. There were 2 lifts, both full of families with many huge bags, so we waited for them to get out and then send the lifts back down.

Lift number one went up and down several times, then finally came back to our floor, but another family with a ton of bags hopped in, so we waited for lift number two. It went to Floor 7, then Floor 4, then back to our floor. The doors opened and the same family were stood in there that we had watched get in several minutes earlier. We exchanged smiles in a "Tch, technology" way, and they vanished up to Floor 7 again. Then Floor 4, then back to us, and the doors opened and there they were again.

"Hello" we said to each other, still smiling. Off they went again. Level 7. Level 4. Back down to us. The doors opened. The little girl squealed with delight and jumped up and down when she saw us. The dad looked at us and muttered "Don't say a bloody word" as the doors closed.

We took the other lift, but not before I made some Americans laugh. They were waiting for the lift, and looking anxiously at the illuminated numbers as it went up.

"Does it come back down?" asked one?

"Oh yes, it goes both ways" I replied smart-arsedly. Heh.

Anyway, we had a very nice evening, and Mr WithaY was up in plenty of time for his 6am check-in. I drove home a little later and spent the rest of the day sorting stuff out for my scary new job.

Which I started on Monday.

It was ok, the journey is bloody long, and it takes me a whisker under 3 hours door to door, but it is do-able. Monday was fine. Tuesday, on the other hand...

I left the office at about 16:25 to get to Waterloo in time to catch the 16:50, which gets me home by about 7pm. I missed it literally by a minute, thanks to the dithering bastards on the Tube who were blocking doors and stairways, and then stopping dead the instant they got off the escalator. Fuckwits.

Not to worry, I thought. I can catch the next train at 17:20. But wait! What's this? The 17:20 to Exeter is CANCELLED.

Why? Fuck knows.

So. Me and about 300 other disgruntled West Country commuters mungoed about on the concourse, gawping hopefully up at the signs, as if that would magic the train up for us.

But then I spotted a crowd gathering on Platform 6. And, ahahahahaaaaaa, the helpful railway chap who I spoke to earlier had shown me the secret special timetable, which said that my train (the 17:50) would be coming to Platform 6. So, I joined the crowd and waited on Platform 6, hoping that was indeed where the train would show up.

Every now and again we caught the tail end of an announcement being made, one of which said our train was Delayed. Arse. The crowd was rapidly becoming a mob, but a British one, so there was a lot of harrumphing and sighing and rustling of newspapers, instead of pitchforks and broken windows and fire.

Eventually, 15 minutes late, the 17:50 rocked up and we stormed onto it, regardless of the poor rail staff trying to make us wait.

Two women had joined the crowd about 25 minutes after me, and were having a loud conversation about how funny it was to be so late. They were both of a certain age*, and were desperate for people to notice them. Desperate.

The fatter of the two started pushing her way to the front of the crowd, closer to the platform edge, making loud remarks about "I bet this is where the train doors will be when it gets here" while her quieter and thinner friend giggled stupidly.

The fat one then buttoned her cape-like coat up and stuck her chest out, making it look like she was heavily pregnant. "Now I'll get a seat" she smirked, making her witless companion laugh even harder.

I moved slightly so that she couldn't get any closer to the platform edge without shoving me, and the chap (about 6 foot 4, I reckon) I had been chatting to did the same, winking conspiratorially at me as he did so.

When the train arrived I took a great delight in standing on the witless one's feet as she tried to follow her fat unpleasant friend as she barged into the carriage in front of people who had been there a lot longer**. They were both very nasty and I hope they get boils. On their arses.

But apart from that, the job. Yes. Well, it is safe to say I am both a small fish in a big pond and a fish out of water. At the bottom of a steep learning curve. Without a paddle.

It will get better. Brrrrrr. Lawyers though. Brrrrrrrrr.

I am having to resist the urge to offer to draw schematic diagrams of the technical equipment procurement process, or explain how to steer a tank, just to try and contribute something.

And there are mice in the office. But apart from that, it's fine.

Other news: Went to see Father-in-Law WithaY in hospital this evening, which was good as he was a bit fed up. I left when the nurses were starting to get him ready for a session on the Walking Around Machine.

And I think the mole is definitely dead. Hurrah. Not that the bloody Mole-Away Techno-stick did any good. Money well spent there. Not.

*Probably slightly older than me, but not much.

**eg me

Saturday, 18 October 2008


Well, today we go up to Gatwick airport, stay in a hotel overnight, and I then drop Mr WithaY at the airport for his unbelievably early check-in on Sunday morning.

Why? Well, glad you asked, dear reader.

Because he is off to live on a boat out in the ocean off the coast of Mexico for 3 weeks as part of a marine biology shark tagging expedition. Guadalupe and the Revillagigedo (Socorro) Islands, off the Pacific coast of Mexico, to be precise.

And not just little cute Finding Nemo vegetarian sharks*, either. No, these are Scalloped Hammerheads and Great Whites. The plan, as far as I can deduce, is that they take turns being lowered into the ocean inside a cage, then poke the sharks with pointy sticks, trying to give them a funky fin piercing.

Now, is it just me, or does that sound like the kind of behaviour that would earn you an unexpected ride in an ambulance on a Saturday night, never mind attempting it with some of the largest marine predators around?


I do have an irrational fear of big fish, so my views on this are bound to be slightly prejudiced. But even so. Sharks! Gaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!

The science bit:

It's all being done in conjunction with the Shark Research Institute (SRI), Centro De Investigaciones Biologicas del Noroeste, S.C. (CiB) and the Centro Interdisciplinario de Ciencias Marinas (CICIMAR), La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico. Check them out if you are interested.

*Apart from the Whale Sharks.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Slippery customer

Picture the scene. A large lady of a certain age* is resting on a satin chaise longue**, reading an improving book*** and nibbling on candied fruits****. From time to time she coughs delicately***** into a fine lace handkerchief.

Her beloved spouse returns to the family home, flushed with the success of his latest garnering mission.

"Hello darling" he says, cheerfully, bending to kiss his radient wife gently on the cheek.

"Hello darling," she replies. "Did you find what you needed at Mole Valley Farmers? I know you wanted to examine their range of excellent solid fuel stoves and fireplaces." We talk like that in the WithaY household.

"Oh yes," he replies. "But look what else I got!"


What does one say? No etiquette book I've ever read covers this eventuality.

The man is away at the weekend for a 3 week trip in a boat off the coast of Mexico, tagging huge fuck-off sharks. With a load of divers. And he comes home from Mole Valley Farmers with a litre of lambing lube.

For his wetsuit, I now know.

Well, I had to ask.

**red sofa
***Terry Pratchett
****digestive biscuits
*****makes noises like a cat bringing up a furball

Sunday, 12 October 2008


Lordy I am tired of being ill. I still have bronchitis, I am still coughing like Old Man Steptoe and I am still on a ton of drugs. Gah.

No news, no exciting events, nothing of any note other than more bloody whinging about being ill, which everyone is sick of. Especially me.

The single activity this week to take me out of the village consisted of driving to the railway station and buying my season ticket. I got about halfway before I had to pull over because I was coughing so much I thought I might explode my eyeballs out of my head.*

Have done a bit of ironing, a bit of laundry, a bit of cleaning, all in short bursts because I can't bloody BREATHE.

Gah. And Pah.

*I didn't, but it was close

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Whiskers on kettles

...or something.

I have nicked this from Belgian Waffle because I feel crap and want to think about nice stuff to cheer myself up.

So. Favourite things....

Clothes shop: Used to be Long Tall Sally (due to my freakish height) but I have discovered several other shops that cater to ladies of a certain stature. And therefore the winner of this category is (fanfare) Monsoon. The clothes are usually pretty, but the reason they get my vote is this. I went on a clothes shopping trip to Salisbury a while back to get some confidence-building workwear for my scary new job. I went into Monsoon and looked sadly at the rails, thinking everything would be too short/too small/tou young for me, like I do in clothes shops.

An elegant and charming assistant came up and asked me if I wanted any help. I muttered "Nurrrr...sarrite, kthnxbai" at her and continued dejectedly looking at stuff. Eventually, I picked up a pretty black top, which I thought might be ok, and went and draped scarves over it to see if I could make myself look stylish*.

She came back and said "Are you trying to find something to match that top, madam?" I said I was, so she asked me what I was looking for. I (bravely, I thought) then told her about the impending new job, lack of funky clothes, and fear of ridicule from the chic city types when I wandered through London in my trousers held up with baler twine.

She asked me what kind of clothes I was planning to wear, so I showed her my smart work trousers (I was wearing them at the time, handily), and said I usually wore black. She looked at me appraisingly, looked at the top I had in my hand, then scooted round the shop picking up a variety of tops in all kinds of colours. She put them in the changing room, told me to go and try them, and handed me a few scarves to accessorise with. It was great. I ended up buying a load of great stuff, all of which looks really nice, and felt like a new woman. When I left, she and her colleague both wished me good luck with the new job and told me I'd be fine. So. Monsoon.

Furniture Shop: Multiyork. They make magnificent sofas.

Sweet: Depends. I like Montezuma's chocolate very much but not sure if this qualifies, really. So, favourite sweet, of the sort that you can get at a petrol station, I'd say was Toblerone.

Music: Love love love AC/DC. I go through phases, and at the moment it's Tom Petty. Because I am trying hard to learn a load of his songs, I am paying a lot more attention to how he puts stuff together. It's all in the timing. And I adore his voice.

TV Series: Futurama. Bender is my hero. But am enjoying watching Scrubs which I hadn't seen before.

Film: The film I will cheerfully watch on any given rainy Sunday afternoon...hm....probably the Emma Thompson version of Sense and Sensibility. Alan Rickman. Actually, love him in Galaxy Quest too.

Workout: When I actually get my lardy arse to the gym, I like using a cross trainer. I can waddle along for ages (listening to AC/DC on my iPod) and it doesn't feel like hell on toast, even though my legs are all wobbly when I stop.

Pastries: How European. Do pies count? And sausage rolls? If so, my home-made Christmas sausage rolls are in the top 3. Otherwise it's lardy cake, closely followed by the chocolate twist thingies they sell in the coffee shop** in Fish Row in Salisbury.

Coffee: I seldom drink coffee, not having much of a taste for it. I do like Lady Grey tea though, if that helps.

There. Now you know exactly how dull I really am. Enjoy.

*No, I can't.
**Might be Costa Coffee, not sure about that.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Chest update

Not what you think, probably.

I have been diagnised with acute bronchitis. Yay me! I'm cute!

I have a big box of extra strength antibiotics the size of marbles, which I have to take two (TWO! They're enormous!) twice a day.

Also, to add to my joy, I have a box of steroid pills, which I have to take six of once a day.

I read the enclosed leaflet.

Side effects include vomiting, psychosis and "hairyness". Reminds me, I must watch "An American Werewolf in London" again sometime.

I have been signed off work for "up to" 10 days but I think I will see how I feel after the end of this week and then decide whether to go in or not early next week.

I'd sigh deeply but it would make me cough.

Hack III - The Revenge

So. Absolutely nothing of any interest has happened to me in the last few days. Mainly because I have been spending my time alternating between:

1) Coughing until the top of my head feels like it is coming off and my lungs will shortly be appearing out of my nose.

2) Trying not to cough, then remembering that I am supposed to in order to expel the goo demons inhabiting my lungs.

3) Taking antibiotics. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. They've prescribed me the ones they give to people who have been exposed to Anthrax. Which makes me feel a bit special and Secret Agent-y.

4) Drinking water. It says I have to on my Anthrax-b-Gone pill packet.

5) Crying like a big girl. This mostly happens at night when I am exhausted and unable to sleep because of activities (1) and (2). I am currently exiled to the spare room, so that Mr WithaY can get some sleep and doesn't try to kill me in the night after I keep him awake with activities (1), (2) and (5). On the plus side, I get to wake up and do the "Where am I?" thing every day, looking adorably like Clara Bow.*.

6) Listening to my chest rattle. This is both gross and alarming but unavoidable when I lay down to begin my nightly cough/hack/weep/cough routine.

7) Phoning my new boss and trying to croak down the phone at him until he understands that his shiny new team member is both unreliable and a sickly old bat. He must be delighted.

8) Trying to read the huge scary heap of documents I brought home last week and realising I am so far out of my depth with my new job that I don't even know where to start.

9) Trying to get another appointment with the doctor** to see if I am improving or just sinking into a Romantic Poet stylee decline.

Still. Mustn't grumble.

*In my head

**2.30 today. Hurrah. They just called me back.

Saturday, 4 October 2008

Wednesday, 1 October 2008


I have a chest infection.


I went to the doctor today as I have been coughing more and more since Saturday. He listened to my chest, and said I was rattling. Ugh. I have a week's worth of antibiotics and some really horrible cough medicine.

One amusing thing. It wasn;t my usual doctor, and as he looked at my records on the computer, he seemed puzzled.

Doctor: Have you ever been much (pause) heavier than you are now?

Me: Um, no, I think this is about as fat as I've ever been*. Why do you ask?

Doctor: Well, according to your records, you weigh 245 Kg. How tall are you?

Me: Five foot ten.

Doctor: That gives you a body mass index of about 75. (Looks at me again) Hmm, that can't be right.

He then insisted on weighing me, just to make sure I didn't in fact weigh as much as a small bus.

So. Even a trained medical professional had to check that I am not quite so huge that walls would need to be demolished to get me out of his office. Gah.

*Thanks for asking you git

Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Dry Run

I've been on the train up and down to London for a couple of days, which has been an interesting dry run for the new job.

Getting to the station on time is now mastered, barring accidents.*

I have bought an annual parking tickets (320 quid! gah!) for the station so I don't need to fret about finding the correct change each time.

I have picked up an application form for a season ticket so I can take advantage of the fantastic savings on offer** by buying in advance.

I walked from the office in Whitehall to the new office in Victoria after my meeting to see how long it takes*** and managed to find the place without a map. Yay me.

So, all begins to take shape.

I met my new boss and some of the new team. I feel OLD. They all look about 19, and are frighteningly keen. I honestly think I will be the oldest person in that office. Gah. GAH.

I had an hour with the new boss, who seems to have a brain the size of a planet, was given reams of scarily detailed complex paperwork to read next week, and then went to Wagamama's to have a team lunch.

Which was nice.

They all asked "So why did you apply for this job, exactly?" I can't decide if that's good or not.

After lunch, I started walking back to Waterloo from Victoria, but, having no map and no sense of direction, ended up outside the back of Buckingham Palace, whereupon I hailed a black cab and took the coward's way out back to the station. It was raining quite hard, in my defence, and I was carrying a heavy carrier bag full of aforesaid scary paperwork.

I was amused to see several smartly-dressed and otherwise sensible business types on the train devouring huge amounts of chocolate. One chap had four (yes FOUR) bars of Marks and Spencer milk chocolate which he ate one after the other at great speed. I bet he gets home and tells his wife he's starving and hasn't eaten since 10am.

Another chap sat quietly doing the Sudoku and demolishing a family-size bar of Dairy Milk all on his own. Git. He never offered me any. I'd have refused, obviously, but it would have been polite to ask.

Bloody South West Trains! Yesterday I had a ticket for the 1520 train, with a reserved seat. As it happened, my meeting finished earlier than expected so I was able to get on the previous train, half an hour earlier. Excellent, I thought.

But no.

The ticket bloke came round and I showed him my ticket. He glared at me and asked to see the reservation ticket thingy too. I showed him that.

Ticket bloke: "You're on the wrong train."

Me (cheerfully): "No, this one is going to the right station."

Ticket bloke (increasingly grumpy): "No. It's the wrong train. This ticket is not valid."

Me (still cheerful): "Oh. So, do I have to get off the train then?"

Ticket bloke: "You need to buy another ticket."

Me (astounded): "Whaaaaaaaaaaaat? Are you serious? I already have a ticket, look!"

Ticket bloke (by now expecting trouble, and aware of the audience of commuters all pretending they're not listening): "You need to buy another ticket. That'll be £67."

Me (muttering): "Bloody hell...."

So. South West Trains got an additional £67 out of me, despite the fact that my reserved seat on the next train was going to be empty, and therefore available for another traveller. It's not like they even put the reserved labels on the seats anyway.


Mr WithaY still hasn't sent them his letter of complaint, by the way. I have told him that there is an increasing need to know the outcome**** but he is being far too laid back.

Other news: Am officially winding down from my job. Apart from writing the final reports for my team, I am clearing the decks and passing stuff to everyone else. A remarkably nice feeling, I have to say.

*And tractors
**my arse
***bloody ages
****Mr Farty

Sunday, 28 September 2008


Gah, another ridiculously long gap betweeen postings. Sorry.

In the interim:

Had a very lovely "almost my last day" barbecue at a colleague's house on Friday, where the team gave me a beautiful gift and all said very kind things. One week left in this job, and then it's all change. I am really excited about it, as well as being nervous.

London! Bright lights! Trains! People who aren't wearing baler twine to hold their trousers up! Can't wait.

Ooh yes....we got the On-Line Village Fete Vegetable PRIZE through the post! From jaywalker at Belgian Waffle! I am so proud. The winning certificate will go on my wall. I may even post a photo of the prize, it's so marvellous. Big thank you to her for that.

Went to spend the weekend at my bestest mate's place, because we hadn't seen each other for months. The weather was perfect, which meant we walked into town, walked all round town, sat in the park and ate ice cream and then walked the long way home through rat-infested fields. Ah, the countryside. It was very interesting. I tried to get some photos but they were too far away.

Plus they looked like they'd have demanded royalties.

Whilst mungoing around town, we went to Thornton's to buy an ice cream. It was a glorious day, so there were a few people in the shop, all picking which flavour ice cream they wanted, and admiring the fine display of chocolate spiders, ready for Halloween.

It got to our turn. The flustered lady behind the counter asked us what we wanted.

Me: Two medium ice creams please, one with chocolate and truffle, the other with...

Flustered shop lady (interrupting): Don't tell me any more! One at a time! I have problems remembering different ice cream flavours!

I almost said "Well, you're in the wrong bloody job then, aren't you?" but thought better of it. The ice creams, once she managed to serve them, were lovely, incidentally.

Other news: Mr WithaY had to consign my lovely lemon curd to the bin today because it had grown a fluffy green coat.

I should have kept it in the fridge. Ah, hindsight.

I bought a new capo for my guitar, as the one I already have works fine on my acoustic but not on the Les Paul. The new one works brilliantly. Hurrah.

The nice man in the handmade guitar shop is getting in an electric 12-string on sale or return for me to have a go with. Just out of curiosity, you understand.

I'm not going to buy it or anything.


Tuesday, 23 September 2008

All the way home

I've been travelling. I went down to see my lovely Mum on Thursday night, and called in to see Youngest Sis and family as well, which was nice. I listened to the Mark and Lard show on Radio 2 on the way home. They make me laugh.

Saturday morning we were up bright and early to drive up to Suffolk (look on a map, American readers) to see our mate Tall Richard and his unfeasibly stylish wife. As we headed out without having any breakfast (most important meal of the day blah blah blah) by the time it got to 12-ish we were starving.

We'd told our mates that we'd be with them by early afternoon, so had plenty of time to stop for some lunch. We decided to stop at the next service station and get some food.

We ended up here where we enjoyed huge fat boy breakfasts. Mmmmmm fried bread.

Once more, I am profoundly grateful that I chose not to have children. There were people there trying to reason with 4-year-olds. The father of the family sat the whole time with his head in his hands, more or less ignoring the wife and 2 small boys he was with. After 20 minutes sitting on the next table, I could see why.

Suitably fortified, we continued to the party house. Our mates made us welcome, we ate like fat greedy kings, I drank myself into a state of invincible superstardom, and we all sat round singing loudly until gone 1am. I played my guitar for hours and hours, and boy were my fingers sore the next day.

And boy, was I hung over.

After a quiet, slightly trembly, breakfast, we headed up to see some lovely relatives who live in that neck of the woods, and enjoyed a visit with them. We headed back onto the road South at about 3-ish and were home by about 6.30-ish which wasn't bad at all. The bulk of the traffic was going in the opposite direction so we more or less kept moving all the way home.

Been at work today, where people keep making references to sinking ships, rats, planks, and so on. It's wearing rather thin.

Next Friday is my last day in the department, which is quite a thought. I have sent out an email invite to a few colleagues to come out for a drink at a local pub to celebrate but other than that it'll be pretty low key. No being driven off the site in an armoured car for me, I think.

Well, unless I try nicking any paperclips.

Friday, 19 September 2008


Hurrah hurrah hurrah.

The world of international high finance is going tits up, but I don't care, because I love the new single by AC/DC.

Anyone want to come and see them in concert with me?

All my 3 dimensional mates have refused on the grounds of age, taste and lassitude.

So. Let's go and raise the goblet of rock and embarrass young people a bit.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Tale of Woe

Today I am mostly in Bristol, sitting at someone else's desk, trying to get on with stuff while everyone around me wonders who I am.

Just like my own office, really.

I came in on the train, which was uneventful and pleasant. I hope that's a foretaste of my soon-to-be commute to London.

Mr WithaY is still seething after his trip to London last Friday. He went up to the Mexican Embassy (sadly not made of adobe, and no burros tethered outside) to sort out his visa for the forthcoming Shark Tagging Trip.

He ordered his train tickets on line, in advance, at a cost of (I think) about £9 each way, with reserved seats. Bargain. Because Tisbury station lacks an automated ticket machine, he had to go to Warminster to pick up his actual tickets. But no....both ticket machines at Warminster were out of order. He asked the nice man in the ticket office if he could get his tickets from there instead.


The man in the ticket office, it transpires, can only hand over tickets in exchange for actual money. The bit of paper with evidence of the purchase transaction is not enough. And, just carrying that bit of paper on the train instead of a ticket will get you into enormous trouble, apparently. Fines, police, dragged off to jail, you name it.

Mr WithaY, being a man who lives life on the edge, decided to take that risk.

He travelled successfuly to Waterloo. The guard on the train stamped his bit of paper and said "When you get to London, pick up a ticket for the return trip. Just to be on the safe side."

The Mexican Embassy staff were helpful and courteous, but I was dismayed to learn that the Ambassador failed to bring out the Ferrero Rocher chocolates. Mr WithaY made his way back to Waterloo with a song in his heart and a receipt for his ticket in his pocket, with a good hour to spare before his train was due. Plenty of time to pick up a ticket from the ticket office.

A ticket he had already paid for, mark you.

20 minutes in the queue for the ticket office did not bode well. The ticket office people eventually told him "No, we can't give you a ticket, you have to go to the Travel Office, next door."

He went to the Travel Office next door and explained the situation to them. They sucked their teeth and made sad faces, and told him he had to go to the Information Desk, just over there.

He went to the Information Desk, just over there. The Information Desk people looked at each other in dismay told him to go to the Ticket Office.

Mr WithaY asked to speak to a manager.

The manager came out, listened to the story and said "Oh, you need to go to the Travel Office, come with me." As they walked back into the Travel Office, the staff exclaimed "We've already told him we can't give him a ticket!"

Mr WithaY, possibly channelling Mexicans, was pretty laid back, even though he now only had 20 minutes till his train was due, and still had no ticket.

Finally, the combined brains of the Waterloo station team suggested he go across London to Euston and pick up his ticket, yes, the one he's already paid for, from the automatic machine there.

It takes 20 minutes to get to Euston from Waterloo. And then 20 minutes to get back. So, at least 40 minutes, to get a ticket for a train that is due in 15. Not a great plan.

Mr WithaY said he was not going to take their advice, and would travel back with his bit of paper, which, if you recall, had already been stamped once by the train ticket collector on the way up there.

The Waterloo team flapped, telling him he would be in biiiig trouble, police, fines, prison, flogging, transported to Australia, etc etc etc.

Mr WithaY decided to ignore them and go and wait for his train.

However, being a law-abiding citizen, his conscience smote him and eventually went and bought a single ticket back, at a cost of £31. In addition to the £9 advance ticket he had already paid for, with a reserved seat and all.

He found his seat, and took up position, a ticket in one hand and his reserved receipt in the other. By now his Mexican laid-back-ness had worn away and he was just waiting to be challenged. I beleive he adopted a "Come on then, you fuckers" stance.

The ticket collector came, and Mr WithaY presented his receipt. "Will you accept this as my ticket?" he asked. The ticket collector looked at it, nodded and said "Yes, no problem sir." Mr WithaY then presented the additional £31 ticket and explained the situation.

The rest of the carriageful listened attentively, some of them joining in with cries of "Ooh, that's not right at all!" and "How outrageous!"

The ticket collector's advice: Send the extra ticket to South West Trains with a letter of explanation and demand a refund.

I'll let you know if we get one.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Cheese fiasco

Can't believe it's been so long since my last post. Sorry, if you were impatiently checking back on an hourly basis for the next thrilling update, and all that. I have no real reason for this slackerliness, other than a dull and tiresome lack of inspiration. Some days it doesn't stop me and I cheerfully witter on about anything that happens to scamper through my brain, but for some reason that facility deserted me.

Until now, obviously.

Maybe it's all the gravitas and responsibility of my new job starting to congeal in my soul. Maybe in 6 months time I will have grown my own pinstripe carapace and be unable to find other people falling down holes funny any more.

I hope not.

So. The big disappointment of the weekend was the Frome Cheese Show. We've had it in the WithaY diary for months, planning our annual Big Day Out to admire the animals, vegetables and Crafts. Oh, the Crafts. I had new batteries in the camera and everything.

Following a slightly more cider-centric night at the pub on Friday than we had planned, we were up a bit late, and didn't set off for the Show till about 11am. Still, it was a nice day, and we headed off cheerfully in Mr WithaY's Landrover, reasoning that it wasn't far to go, and it was likely to be a bit muddy. All went well.

Until, that is, we got onto the main road to Frome, which was nose to tail with almost stationary traffic. We inched along till we got to the next junction, and the long straight road towards the showground was nose to tail as far as the eye could see.

We looked at the queue, then at each other, and made a team decision to bale out, do a U turn and head for the hills. Driving back the way we had just come, we could see the traffic backing up for bloody miles. Nightmare.

Once home, as were were already in our "Walking in the Mud" clothes we did a couple of hours of gardening, cutting back about a hundredweight of lavendar. We were knackered but very relaxed by the time we'd finished.

The mole's still out there. We think we've seen the last of him, then hey presto, bloody miles of tunnels and molehills appear. It's all most dispiriting.

It may be coincidence, but all the roses are doing really well for the first time all year. I think they might enjoy having their roots disturbed. Hey, who wouldn't.

Still waiting for the glorious Village Fete prize, by the way. *sigh*

Thursday, 11 September 2008


Went to Bristol today for work, and on the way back was almost involved in a real fight! A colleague gave me a lift, and as we were coming back there was a minor altercation with another driver who was trying to jump the queue to get off the slip road onto the motorway.

My colleague, rather unwisely as it turned out, made a "What the fuck are you doing?" gesture at the other driver.

Other driver, instead of (a) ignoring us and going about his lawful business, or (b) returning said gesture with one of his own and speeding away, went for option (c): Glaring like a madman and then pulling alongside our car and shouting violent abuse.

This was rather wasted because we couldn't hear him. My colleague, who was finding it all very funny, did an exaggerated "Sorry, I can't hear you mate" mime, pointing at his ear and shaking his head.

The other driver started waving his arms about, furious. It was unreal, he was a respectable looking middle aged guy, in a decent car, indicating to us that we were to pull onto the hard shoulder so we could have a fight. What the fuck?

My colleague nodded, and as the other driver pulled onto the side of the road, we drove past, my colleague waving cheerfully. The other guy then accelerated back onto the motorway and chased us for bloody miles. We pulled off the motorway and headed down into Bath, the lunatic still chasing us, still shouting and furious.

My colleague had gone from finding it funny to finding it a bit worrying. He watched the other guy in the mirror, and said "He's waiting for us to stop at the lights so he can come over here." Nice.

This is how people get killed! I remembered various "And then it turned out he had a biiiiig knife/was on the run from the police in 5 countries/was an escaped dangerous psychopath" stories I had read in the papers.

Luckily, we didn't have to stop at the lights, and made our way onto the dual carriageway, this guy still dodging through the traffic to keep behind us. He followed us for several more miles, and then my colleague lifted his arm and slipped his watch off, handing it to me. "Put that in the glove compartment" he said, which I did, not realising what he was doing.

"Um...why are you taking your watch off?" I asked. He looked at the car behind us and said "I don't want to damage it."

It was all rather surreal and scary.

Anyhoo, either the nutter behind us happened to live down the next side turning, or he'd seen my colleague prepare for battle and realised he could be in a lot of trouble, because he suddenly turned off and we lost him.

It was most unexpected.

Other news: The lemon curd is nice. And, because it is made from real lemons, it is good for me. Apart from all the sugar and butter. And eggs. But the lemons balance that out.

Mmmmmm vitamins.