Sunday, 29 June 2008

Me and my wine

Ah, Def Leppard. Before they went a bit shite.

This morning I have been mostly baking* and having a hangover.

Our mates arrived yesterday, along with the spaniels, and we sat out in the garden catching up. Come 4 o'clock, we thought it would be rather nice to have a glass of wine, it being such a lovely summer afternoon. And that's where it all started.

We were halfway through the second bottle of white wine and ice (classy, us) when our long-lost mate Bill the Spill turned up as well. He was not up for wine, being en route elsewhere, but stayed and had a cup of tea or two and a chat, which was lovely.

We drank more wine, played Stick** with the spaniels, ate olives and breadsticks and chilled out. It was lovely. By the time supper was ready we were, to put it bluntly, shitfaced.

The four of us got through five bottles of wine, a huge mound of tasty snacks, a giant dish of Moroccan chicken, and then we went to a party over at the pub. Yay for weekends.

Other news: Work has been ridiculously busy again, but after the Big Important Meeting on Friday we might be getting some more help on the team and a deadline extension, so fingers crossed for that. If nothing else it will make the rest of the summer slightly less pressured.

Mr WithaY's dad is still in hospital, and not too good at all, unfortunately.

Ah yes, last week we were sat watching one of the seemingly endless reruns of Friends. Undemanding and sometimes amusing, and great to sit and stare at blankly when you have just got in from work and are having a nice cup of tea. I asked Mr WithaY which of the cast he thought was the star of the show.

"Well, Jennifer Aniston always gets top billing" he said.

And that would be because it's an alphabetical listing, dear.


*Muffins, plain and chocolate chip, cup cakes, a Madeira cake. Damn I'm good.

**A challenging game of skill and dexterity, involving a stick. We throw it. They bring it back.

Thursday, 26 June 2008

On the road again

Lordy, I've done some driving in the last few days.

140 miles to Bedford at oh my gawd o'clock on Tuesday morning, then back again on Wednesday afternoon. We went cross-country on the way up there as my colleague was navigating. I did the motorways coming home as I was on my own and am defiantly refusing to get a satnav system.

Some people, however, were reading maps, playing with satnavs, texting on their mobiles and smoking fags whilst cruising down the road. Fuckwits.

Interestingly* both journeys took about the same length of time, given that the M1 was being dug up and I reached the M3 junction off the M25 at 5.30 at night.

The actual event was exhausting. I was part of the team giving a presentation to about 100 Captains of Industry (not a woman among the lot of them), and then spending the following day having meetings all over the show.

Would have been better if one of the Very Senior And Important People hadn't given me a bollocking** about my project just before I had to go and do my bit. If it hadn't all been about stuff I already know and have been telling them about for 6 months it would have been easier to bear.

I did get to have a test drive on the specialist vehicles course, but sadly it was in a Prius. I won't be buying one. Apparently the speed track there is where they filmed some of Casino Royale - the bit where he writes off the (?)Aston Martin trying to avoid running over the girl.

Other news: My WithaY's dad is still very poorly, which is worrying. Mr WithaY managed to catch a hideous cold last weekend so has been feeling terrible, on top of the worry. So a fun week for him.

We have some mates coming over at the weekend. We are dog-sitting for them on Sunday when they go to see another mate being ordained.

Bloody hell. I never in a million years thought I'd be writing that sentence.

Anyway. It's the first time the three mad spaniels have been here since the garden-trashing disgrace. If they are naughty, they go in the kennel. I will make sure I tell them that right from the outset.

Some other mates are coming over for tea on Sunday, so I think a cake-creating bonanza is called for. Spence, text me with any cake requests. Heh.

*Or not, if you are a normal person.

**Not what you think, American readers.

Monday, 23 June 2008

Up the wooden hill

Well didn't the weekend just fly by?

We had a rather traumatic trip to hospital on Saturday to see father-in-law WithaY who has had a very nasty fall and is in a pretty bad way. At least he has been moved to a slightly nearer hospital today so we can get there more easily.

Went to the party on Saturday night which was lovely, met lots of people for the first time, including a terrifyingly keen chap who had brought many, many musical instruments. He spotted my case, and was demanding that I get my guitar out this instant, despite me having literally just walked in out of the rain, dripping water all over the hall floor. Still, we played a few songs* which was fun.

Such a shame about the weather, but it was warm enough to stand under the marquee in comfort and admire the fire and the twinkly lights. All very atmospheric.

Sunday was spent in a blur of domestic activity** and eating a fine roast duck Sunday Dinner.

I am away for a few days now, about to head off to a friend's house for dinner and a bed, then driving to Bedford at the crack of dawn tomorrow morning. Pray for me. The M25 will be hell.

*Later. After I'd taken my coat off and been handed a drink.
**Ironing. Gah.

Friday, 20 June 2008


Ok, today just gets better and better.

From the Telegraph article titled Police chase UFO over Cardiff , a direct quote:

"The three crew, who described the UFO as 'flying saucer-shaped', then gave chase, getting as far as the North Devon coast before they ran low on fuel, it was reported."

Flying saucer shaped, eh? Hmm, really? I bet they were detectives, not just your ordinary police officers.

Oh yes...

...Continuing the Mystical Theme of today, check this out.

So, who decided that it was a representation of a mathematical figure? And how did they arrive at that conclusion?

Seriously. If anyone out there can explain that to me I will be very grateful.

Finding My Way

Ah, the summer Solstice. A time of deep, profound, mystical communing with the Earth and all of mankind, bathed in the glow of the dawn light.

Sadly, to do all that, you have to get to Stonehenge. Which is what every fucker in the West of England is trying to do this afternoon.

It has taken me over an hour and a half to get home from work, even after I baled out early to beat the traffic.

I thought I'd be cunning and go the back way, taking in a grand tour of Military Establishments of the South West. I avoided the A303, and instead went through Tidworth, then Bulford Camp, gleeful and confident. I got to an unmarked junction and took a guess, trusting to luck and my own sense of direction. To my dismay, I ended up back on the A303, going in the wrong direction, back towards work.

How I laughed.*

I gave up and did a U-turn, which was interesting, and then went back along the route I normally go. Where I would have been 40 minutes earlier, if I hadn't taken the back way, in fact.

I did cut off across country after that to avoid going past Stonehenge itself. I could see the traffic queue from the top of the hill, and it looked like hell on toast.

Finally made it home, exhausted and harrowed. It's pissing down with rain now. That'll be nice for them all, stood out there in a field, waiting for the night to end.


Other news. Another mental week at work. I'm starting to panic about it all, but strangely, running around waving my arms and making Daffy Duck noises isn't helping things.

I have to flog up to Bedford (fucking Bedford!) next week for 2 days which is a hassle I could do without, but it might get me some useful contacts. Last year I got a freebie teddy bear too, so not an entirely wasted day.

We're off to a party this weekend, supposedly in a garden, so I am really hoping the rain stops. We went to a great more or less impromptu** one last weekend, and ended up sitting under the stars till 2am, drinking wine and chatting. Was fab, but has given me Summer Party Fever, so now I want to do that every weekend.

Mr WithaY found out that his dad has had a nasty fall and is in hospital so we plan to go and see him over the weekend too. Poor bugger.

I need to practice my guitar a bit too, as I have been asked to bring it (and the amp!) to the party tomorrow. Be a bit embarrassing if I set it all up and then was unable to remember how to play anything. Heh.

*I didnt really. I said "FUCKING HELL" several times, quite loudly.

**i.e: The hosts put in a ton of work, we turned up and ate all their food and made lots of noise. Hurrah.

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Animal Magic

On Saturday afternoon I remarked to Mr WithaY that the rat problem seemed to have vanished, as we hadn't seen any of the hairy bastards for ages. We agreed that the rat poison in the special "Doesn't Kill Birds Or Mice" tube was most effective.

Mmm-mmmm. No more rats.

Until approximately eight minutes later when he announced that a HUGE rat had scuttled out from under the shed, and was scarfing down dropped birdseed like it was going out of fashion.

Bastard thing.

It was dealt with. Then the next day a second, smaller rat made an appearance. It too was dealt with. And not in a "stiff talking-to" kind of way.

And hey, guess what? All the poison had been eaten, so the buggers were devouring the birdseed again. That situation has since been recitifed.

Other news: I've been in London today. I had a meeting in the morning at the office, and when that finished I had to leg it down Whitehall to another office for a second, longer meeting. It was a glorous sunny day and the walk was lovely.

As I got to the building where my meeting was being held, a chap was being filmed by a film crew on the pavement across the road. I gawped a bit, being a potato-headed yokel, and then went inside.

On the huge TV screen in reception was the same bloke "live from Whitehall". I had to stop myself going "Hey! I just saw him outside!" in an overexcited way. It was bizarre though, seeing him on TV and out the window at the same time.

In the meeting, which was up in a turret accessed by a teeny spiral staircase, we sat with all the windows open, Big Ben bonging away loudly. I got distracted (like I do) by one of the many military bands marching through the park below us.

It was like being in a film set in swinging London. I half expected to see a Union Jack Jag come screeching round the corner.

Saturday, 14 June 2008

Snake horror

I found this in the paper this week.

Poor bloke. Can't have been much fun for the snake, either.

"Sweetie, you'll never guess what almost landed on me today..."

Friday, 13 June 2008


Went to play some music on my iPod just now while I reviewed a mighty long document, and realised that the battery is completely flat. Zilch, zip, bugger all.

So, that's annoying. And what with this office being all but empty, the sound of my typing is echoing thunderously around the place like a cheap action movie sound effect. TAP tap TAPPITY TAP.....aieeeeee!

I am planning on sloping off early this afternoon to avoid the traffic hell that is the A303 Westbound on a Friday afternoon. Summer's here, there are nose to tail jams all the way home.

When I get home, I shall charge up my iPod and then make sure I keep it that way. I bet I left it running when I put it away after lunch yesterday, and that's why it's run out of juice. What an idiot.

Thursday, 12 June 2008

On a break

I don't know if I am coming or going at the moment. Work is really, really busy. I mean, I am still doing a kind of nine to five thing, but while I am there I am up to my ears.

Anyone would think that's what they pay me for. Tch.

So, by way of making sure I get a short break, I have plugged myself into my iPod* and am doing my blog.

One advantage of the "desk, team and phone in different ends of the building" fiasco is that I am walking around a lot more. Can't be bad. I haven't been to the gym for at least a month, so any exercise is better than nothing. Even clutching at straws must burn a few calories.

At least I have been in the office all week, which makes life easier. Apart from Monday, when I was in Bristol. Mind you, with all the scaremongering stories about fuel going up to £2.30 a litre, maybe I'll resign because I won't be able to afford the 70 miles a day driving here and back.

Or, less drama-queenishly, perhaps Mr WithaY and I can carshare more.

Although I prefer the sound of the "not having to go to work any more" option, to be honest.

Had a fab guitar lesson last night. We are off to a party** later in the month and I have been asked to bring my guitar, so we were going through various songs which might be suitable for a lovely summer party. My teacher suggested that REM's "Everybody Hurts" might not be a party song. We'll see.

I did a version of The Boxtop's "The Letter" which, although I say so myself, I sang the shit out of. If I could just remember the chords, it would be perfect.

Also. Have been invited to join the band for a few songs when they do a show in August, which I am very much looking forward to. My enthusiasm took a slight dip when my guitar teacher told me that the last time they did a similar show, the Windsor Hell's Angels turned up. So that could be interesting.

Back in the day, there were a few scary close encounters with various bike gangs, although I don't think I ever met a fully-fledged Angel. Apart from one, who became a very dear friend, and he'd been one back in the 1960s and 70s, so I think was more or less retired. If they can retire. I have no idea.

Anyhoo. The dress code on the ticket for the event says "Leather". I sold my leathers when we sold the bike. I might wear a pink fluffy cardigan and pearls, see what happens.

Right. Time to do all my expenses claims. Work must owe me about a million pounds by now.

*Which I like because I can pretend to be a cyborg.

**Hello Lynn.

Monday, 9 June 2008


Photos from the weekend. If you watched "Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves", you will recognise both the castle and the grotto. If you don't, watch it again, and pay more attention.

Sorry if you now have that godawful Bryan Adams song going round your head, by the way.

This is Old Wardour Castle, from the front. Hence the door.

This is the Eighteenth Century grotto, put there by Capability Brown on one of his "Call this scenic? I can improve on this shitty old countryside." jags.

And hey, he was right.

There was a wedding being held there later in the day. The flowers were lovely, we could smell them from the other side of the huge gridded iron door. Most atmospheric. "Yes, we got married in a dungeon."

This is a view of the lake, again a Capability "I laugh in your face, puny natural features" Brown addition I think.

This is the Eighteenth Century summer house thingy. Also fitted up for a wedding. Note the glorious Wiltshire countryside. There in the background. The green stuff.

A side view of the castle, demonstrating what they mean when they talk about a place being made "indefensible". Yes, there used to be more walls around the back.

And finally....


Gold Hill, in Shaftesbury, where we went for lunch. A bugger to cycle down. Or up.


This weekend I have been mostly enjoying the fantastic weather, making cupcakes and going sightseeing.

A mate has been over for the weekend and so I have done the hostess thing and shown them the sights of the local area. We went for a walk around the village on Friday afternoon, as it was all looking rather lovely in the sunshine. I took some old bread to feed any ducks we might see hanging about on the river.

We spotted a very large group of ducks in the distance, away downstream, and I lobbed some little scraps of bread into the river to entice them our way. The ducks more or less completely ignored us. The trout though...well, they went loopy.

I have never seen anything like it, outside of a BBC documentary about the kinds of fish that can strip a cow to the bone in 5 seconds. The water boiled. Not literally. It's not quite that warm. Next time I take bread over there I am also taking a big net.

On Saturday we went over to Old Wardour Castle, a place I have a great fondness for. I took pictures, and will post them up in a bit.

When I get back from Bristol. Again.

Friday, 6 June 2008

Lies in the Press

I found this little snippet in today's Telegraph. Says that Lymington in Hampshire is one of the best places to live, ever.


I went to Lymington once with a couple of mates, on a dull rainy Saturday when we all had monster hangovers. So bad in fact that one of said friends literally fell out of the car as we pulled up in the car park and had to run to the nearest toilets to be very very sick.

Not good.

We walked around in the gloom and drizzle for a bit, groaning and falling into each other, and then thought a nice cup of tea would help us recover. We went into a tea shop, or more likely a Tea Shoppe, on the high street, took a table and waited.

And waited. And fucking waited.

We sat there for over an hour, vainly trying to catch the attention of someone, anyone, who could bring us some tea. And a bun maybe.

Eventually, after we'd dried off and read all their papers, we left, tealess and grumpy.

I think the staff either thought we'd do a runner after we'd had all their tea and buns, or that we might turn nasty if we got some sugar into us.


So. Lymington. No.

Wednesday, 4 June 2008


I have decided that Wiltshire is a long-forgotten part of the evil Saruman's realm, and that there is some kind of subsidiary orc/troll/gnome spawning facility here, probably in Trowbridge.

Today I have mostly been on the train.

For what seems like days and days and days and days. Surrounded by slack-jawed, vacant-eyed, potato-headed, mouth-breathing meatbags. Eating pasties, the bastards.

Today's additional travel adventure meant we were delayed by 35 minutes at Bristol Parkway while the British Transport Police dealt with an "incident" on the train.

Fuck knows what. Maybe it was a teenager who was listening to his iPod too loudly. Or a commuter who was downloading unsuitable material onto his BlackBerry. I have no idea. They didn't tell us any of the interesting details.

So, we were squashed in like ugly, overweight sardines for an extra half an hour or more, staring at each others' newspapers and books, pretending we weren't.

God I hate trains.

Monday, 2 June 2008


It's all pants. Well, at work it is, at least. Once again, life does not resemble Star Trek.

Picture the scene...Most of our colleagues have gone to work in Bristol, the remainder have moved to another part of the building so we can all sit together. Synergy and all that good stuff.

So far so good.

There were a few minor spats about who sits where (window seats - as precious as the treasure of the Sierra Madre, apparently), where the coat racks were going, who sits nearest the recycling bins and the noisy printer. All that kind of stuff.

But it got resolved. Every one has a desk, a chair, a phone and a computer. However. Not everyone has a working computer. In fact me and a colleague have got spanking new computers on our desks, but are still using the old computer system, which has different hardware.

We are going to be transferred to the new system in November 07/Feb 08/Early May 08/ last Friday/next Wednesday/whenever they fucking feel like it*. So we wait.

So, if I want to use email, write stuff, do presentations, look at the project plan or indeed, do any of my work, I have to leave my desk (where the phone is) and go to my old desk, across the other side of the building. There is a phone we have lifted from another desk, but we have no idea what the number is. The old phones have been disconnected, see, because we moved.

I come back to my "new" desk and I can't do any work unless it is with a paper and pen, or face to face with my immediate colleagues, as all the information I need is on the IT. Including the telephone directory, so I can't even ring people without asking other people to find the numbers for me.

I come back to my "old" desk and can't be contacted except by email. Oh, and my team are all disgruntled because they are having to answer my phone, and I am not around to talk to them.

As Marcellus Wallace would say, pretty fucking far from ok.

Other news: Mr WithaY's Landrover has gone in for some welding. A week without Landrover trouble is like a meal without wine. Or something.

Garden looks nice though.

*Delete as applicable

Sunday, 1 June 2008

Inna gadda

I ache.

We were doing some gardening yesterday, what with it being a nice day and all. We dug and weeded and pruned and hacked and hewed and trowelled and wheelbarrowed. And the garden still looks shite.

The green wheelie bin is full to overflowing with aquiliegia (sp?) which grow like weeds all over the garden. I dug up Wiltshire's annual quota of dandelions. There were nettles hiding in the middle of the geraniums which I managed to pull out and sting myself with, despite gloves. We hauled away a ton of borage, which is horribly invasive and spiky.

Mr WithaY put some borage flowers in the cool refreshing Pimms we had later on as a reward so they aren't all bad.

Weeding the rose bed is like clipping the dog's claws. You know it's for the best but you still get horribly scratched.

Other news: We had planned to head off to the Bath and West Show on Saturday, but the weather forecast was dire, and according to the local radio the showground had been flooded out on Thursday, so we decided not to bother. Apparently an inch of rain fell in about 2 hours on Thursday afternoon there.

Had some friends over for a very relaxed spag bol and booze supper in the evening, and we all flumped on the sofas to watch the St Trinian's dvd afterwards. Most entertaining. Mr Withay is in love with the Head Girl. She is mighty foxy.

I have written out the cheque to pay my parking fine, but am still too annoyed to actually post it. I need to within 28 days or I get sent to prison for the rest of my life, I think. I'll check the small print on the ticket again.

Oh, you'll be pleased to know that my feet are peeling from the sunburn. Most attractive. I look like a dragon fruit.