Saturday, 28 March 2009

A trip to Bristol

I was excited about today for most of the week. The reason is that Phil, Becks and myself are off on a jaunt to Bristol to see an old friend of mine called Andy Cooper, who, unbizarrely enough, is also a snowboarder. Everyone I know seems to be into snowboarding and yet I remain singularly crap at it. Anyway, the reason for the general excitement is because he has just had a baby called Oliver. Actually, to be completely precise, he hasn't had the baby, but his partner the lovely Chris has.

As always, I hadn't exactly planned the trip in great detail, but Andy Cooper had given me one explicit instruction - we HAD to be there are midday to fit in with Oliver's feeding and sleeps. Luckily Phil had heard me say this when I was on the phone to Andy, and decided to do his stuff because, unlike me, he hates being late.

At 10.15am, my phone bleeped a text message at me. It was from Phil and said:

"I have just multi-mapped Bristol and we will prob need to set off at 10.25am to get there on time assuming there is no traffic, which I doubt there will be on a Saturday"

I replied (and it took me 5 minutes because I am so slow at texting):

"Stop stalking me"

He replied (and it took him 3 seconds because he texts like a teenaged girl):

"As if!....... stalking is soooooo last year. We are now called non rhetorical friends"

Brilliant. everything was organised. All I had to do was drop Naughty George with Juan. But don't go thinking that Juan is thoughtful because he only agreed to look after NG if I bought him a chocolate eclair next week.

I thought that getting to Bristol from Oxford would be quicker than driving from London, but no. I started asking "are we are nearly there yet?" in the car-park of our apartments in Oxford and finished an hour and a half later, when we pulled up outside Andy 'Poops' Cooper's abode. I invented his nickname 'Poops' after discovering that it sounded funny inserted in front of his surname. That gag kept me amused for a least a week if I remember rightly, and made Poops roll his eyes.

At long last, and at five weeks old, we got to meet Oliver Benjamin Cooper for the first time! Forget 'skinned rabbit', he is one cute baby, plus he was soooooo tiny, he was almost unfeasible.

I managed to get a picture of the proud parents, Andy and Chris and then we all took it in turns to hold Oliver. Becks virtually ripped Oliver out of Andy's hands and spent the next half hour amusing him with 'jigs up and down' and 'funny songs' (apparently they are called nursery rhymes). Then Becks gave Oliver to Phil, who froze once he found a position where it wasn't possible to drop the baby. He remained stock-still in situ for a full 30 minutes until his neck muscles locked up and he conceded defeat. Then it was my turn, and after I asked why Oliver wasn't talking yet, he was whisked away, and we all had popcorn to celebrate. [note to self: look at their European banana moutain. Something odd is going on. No one has that many bananas on a coffee table]

We decided to get out and do something. The only thing was, it had to be 'baby' friendly, so the normal karting, mountain climbing or wind surfing were ruled out pretty quickly and replaced with 'a walk in the park'.

Phil immediately started complaining that God wouldn't have invented engines if we were supposed to use our legs, then quickly moved onto the lack of adrenaline involved in 'park walking'. I needed to divert his attention from walking, and fast.

I suggested "How about we all go for lunch?" knowing that Phil is always distracted from anything once food in mentioned.

"We are already on our way to a mediterranean restaurant" Poops said, pre-empting the whole scenario (it was probably all mapped out before our arrival - Poops is good like that).

Good grief. Poops and Chris. You know how to pick a restaurant. The food was superb - really fresh cous cous, salads and olive bread, and the main courses were better than a Baumhaus sideboard. Then Becks took another opportunity to cuddle Oliver, although he doesn't look that comfortable to me. He seems to be slithering under the table in fact, whilst Becks is perfecting her 'natural sideways glance'.

Once lunch was over, we decided to drive across Bristol to visit Costco, the wholesale supermarket. Phil and Becky just love it because they sell Jumbo hotdogs and coke for £1.49. They would never become food critics, because they judge food on it's price rather than it's flavour, and quantity always beats quality. Bloody heathens.

We were en-route, when suddenly Poops shouted, "Look over there - it's the SS Victory!"

"What's that?" I shouted back, "a famous ship" Poops yelled, even though we were sat next to each other on the back seat. In attempt to catch an image of the famous ship, I leant out of the window and took a photograph. Unfortunately my timing wasn't the best, as you can see from the photograph above (I was in a moving car!). I do hope that the comedy 'leg behind the tree' compensates a little bit for the lack of heroic warship.

Costco was great, and Poops bought approximately 2000 nappies aged 0-8 weeks, some nappy wipes and and 12 bottles of baby wash (how times change!). Becks managed to fit into an 8 year old's rain mac (above) and I restrained myself from purchasing a fake hanging basket. All in all, a fab weekend.

P.S. I forgot to mention that Chris' brother is in really funky band called Dr Meaker. I bought the album it is that good. They played at Glastonbury, and we are going to see them in concert soon. Hurray!

Friday, 27 March 2009

It's Friday, and I made it!

Is it me, or has this week been like wading through treacle? (well the beginning bit anyway). Remember that the week started with the highs of Naughty George disappearing, and the lows of him being found, but more was to come.

On Monday, one of our vans and a car was broken into right outside the warehouse at 8pm. The thieves were obviously disturbed by Phil (the stereo had been left on the seat, 'mid-steal') when he went to get something from his boot, so he called the police who said that they would come and catch the thieves tomorrow morning. Meanwhile we had to ground the van for a finger-printer (I think they are called SOCs these days) who turned up on Tuesday afternoon, looked at the van, and concluded: 'they made a bit of a mess didn't they ha ha ha?' Not being a criminal, I don't deal with the police that often, and without being unkind, I have not categorised my experience as a 'blistering response'.

Enough of that milarky though! We have procured a new warehouse floor cleaner that washes and dries. Ok, ok, I know it sounds pretty unspectacular, but do you know how much they cost? I nearly fainted when I found out.

Even better, I have managed to figure out how to upload videos, so that you can see our new floor cleaner in action, with Juan the Warehouse Warrior taking the reins. However, I do apologise about Phil's rude gesture at the end. He didn't realise that I was videoing him because today is the first time I have used the video function (it has been on my camera for years and I didn't spot it).

Actually, one other thing before I go. There was a telephone message on Phils computer which was really bizarre, and I was hoping that you could help deciper it.

In case you can't read it, it says: "cheese is a kind of meat. A tasty yellow beef."

I work with a bunch of fruitloops. That is official.

Have a good weekend!

Hazel's weekend havoc

Blimey, wonders will never cease. After nagging everyone to update me on their weekend exploits for weeks, I finally get two in a row which has created a bit of a blog backlog (try saying that quickly - it ends up as barlog, barlog!). Anyway, I updated you on Becks the day before yesterday, and it is Hazel's turn today. I know that it is pretty poor publishing the events from last weekend today, but it has been a manic week.

Back to Hazel. Our hapless resident rock-chick tattooed accountant (surely there is an oxymoron in that one!) suffered a rather checkered weekend, unfortunately. Due to it being mother's day, she decided to visit her mum in Bicester. The weekend seemed to start going wrong when she spent 4.5 hours completing a 2.5 hour journey to her Mum's house on account of an accident encountered on the A34 (the road between Oxford and Bicester).

Things didn't exactly get much better after Hazel finally arrived. Firstly, she spent two hours on Saturday teaching her mum how to create a folders for her documents on the computer, and then things really hotted up when she spent the rest of the day doing a jigsaw of the Isle of man. Blimey, that is more rock-bottom than rock-chick.

As if that wasn't bad enough, Hazel spent a 2.5 hour journey back to Oxford trying to calm the children down after they'd just learnt that their tortoise had died. She did try and mention the fact that he was dead last week but what with him being a tortoise and therefore fairly inanimate, it took a while to be 'sure'. Playing tracks such as The verve's 'The Drugs Don't Work' on her new iPod car stereo inexplicably didn't help.

To try and make up for her past lack of material for the blog, as well as a synopsis of her weekend, she also supplied me with a guided tour of her house which she has been doing up.

The first picture that I opened was a photograph of Hazel's airing cupboard with a cat thing in it. How weird is that? (Note to self: Book occupational psychologist first thing on Monday).

It seems that the airing cupboard picture was only included to baffle and confuse you, because look at this for a triumph - a superbly funky kitchen with retro-black and white tiles. The chap in the picture is Hazel's Brazilian lodger. I think she said his name was Roger, but I may have got it wrong because it doesn't sound very Brazilian to me.

I don't know why Hazel included a picture of her staircase, but she obviously found it exciting enough to make an effort to send it to me, and therefore it would be rude if I didn't include it. I shall leave you to select and admire it's noteworthy features.

Finally, we have Hazel's dining room, and blimey oh reilly, I didn't see that coming. She has based the decor on a 50s diner, and I think it looks fab, but I am now worried about the fact that she is also our accountant. Myers-Briggs, I need you! [only joking Bumpkin!]

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Interesting Jobs Part 2

Jody is an American friend and my nickname for him is Septic Tank or FLORIDA MAN! Despite the fact that he talks with a funny accent, and calls pavements, sidewalks, he does have a cool job.

He is a builder, but he doesn't just build any old thing, he is in charge of building skyscrapers - supersize my porch dude!

Being the sneaky git that I am, I managed to 'procure' some photographs of the latest building that he was in charge of. It was a project in Orlando, and the picture below shows the start of the build. Basically it appears to be just a pile of mud and some diggers, but the more keenly trained builders may be able to tell me otherwise.

This is the view at the start of the project

With 36 stories, it is apparently the tallest accommodation in Orlando.

This is the finished article

But what is that to the bottom left of the skyscraper? It appears to be a super-sized lego-man who has fallen into quicksand. This skyscraper isn't just your bog standard tall skyscraper, it is a luxury skyscraper, and as such has a profusion of features designed to encourage rich people to live there. Just check this out ................

It actually has a swimming pool, tennis courts and a dog walking area (yes you read that correctly!) built on the top.

This is an interior shot of one of the executive interiors of the penthouse apartments built by 'FLORIDA MAN'. That'll do nicely guv'ner!

Cheers.......... Florida Man finally manages a bit of 'me' time after the exhaustion of building an entire skyscraper (phew, I bet his arms ache).

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Becks is a culture vulture

About time I say. I have been bugging the chaps at work to send me pictures of what they get up to at weekends, so that you get to see a bit of variety. They are all very keen in theory, but in practice they have been a bit wobbly, up until now that is. Becks "logistics queen extraordinaire" managed two notable things this week: (1) she sent me her weekend pictures for this blog; (2) she managed to introduce Phil to some culture. Believe me, that is the equivalent of getting a vegetarian eating Big Macs for a week.

Becks had arranged to be in London for the weekend with her sister and mum, and had booked tickets to watch an Alan Bennett play. Bizarrely, Phil actually made it down to London, into the theatre, and actually watched the play. I fainted, picked myself up, and continued with the blog, and then wandered if I was suffering from 'Walter Mitty' syndrome, ie. did I just imagine that?

But no! it was true! Phil did actually go to a theatre and watch a play, AND he managed to take time out for a cheesy photograph with Becks and her lovely sister, Hannah (who used to live in my house in London and has worked with us in Wales, and is a specialist in William Morris stained glass). I have the 'cheesy' evidence above. One other thing - I don't know who the rough looking chap is in the picture behind them, but I am glad I am not a razor.

As if one 'Zoolander' wasn't enough, Phil had to squeeze another one in with the lovely Mrs McDevitt (Becks' Mum).

Finally, the culture proved too much for Phil and he decided to abandon the McDevitts and return to Oxford to ........... please fill in the blank because I have no idea what he came back for.

Obviously, Becks didn't notice Phil disappearing because she was distracted by another 'mission' - a trip to the home of 'time' - the Greenwich Observatory.

It appears that Becks donned Robin Hood boots asunder the Meridian line, which I think is the place where GMT comes from -i.e. it sets the time for the rest of the world, but I am not ENTIRELY sure. Becks, help me out here........!

Finally....... my favourite picture of the day. Becks with her mum - AWWWWW

Monday, 23 March 2009

Naughty George is alive!

My mobile rang at 5.30am this morning, and it was one of the guys from DHL who are based in the building next to Baumhaus. They had called to say that Naughty George had been found alive and well - Hurray!

The poor chap had been locked in their offices since Friday afternoon, so obviously he was very thirsty and hungry, but after 3 large bowls of Baker's Complete, and 7 gallons of water, I am happy to report that he is now fast asleep under my desk

He seems to be no worse for wear, except for the fact that he is very subdued after his experience, unsuprisingly.

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Happy Mothers Day!

To all of you Mothers out there! I hope you got plenty of pampering and an abundance of presents of the non-homemade variety.

This weekend has been a bit of a busy one really. Because I was working late yesterday, I have had to try and squeeze everything into a day and a bit, without compromising on eating out (of course!). Because of my disinclination for weekend overtime, I was feeling weak and pallid after finishing work yesterday. As a result, I went out fairly early to have a meal out with a friend in Headington. It was a Moroccan restaurant and the food was lovely. But so afflicted was I, that I forgot to note the name of the restaurant, and the name of the dish I ordered which was shaved lamb (that has got my mind going on a tangent) with a spicy avocado sauce.

Plus, my photograph of the restaurant (above) is pretty poor and makes me look like I am stalking the waitress, and it is all Hazel and Steve's fault. I had a blogging camera and I lent it to Hazel. She left it on her desk for me and went home, and the blooming thing hasn't been seen since. So I am having to rely on my mobile phone for pictures (the camera has subsequently been recovered in Steve's apartment).

Saturday loomed large, and I had already decided that I wanted to explore Oxford itself, but not the touristy/ university bit. That means that I had no option but to head for Cowley Road.

Woo Hoo! What a great place. An Indian restaurant, next to a Polish, next to a Lebanese restaurant........ And everywhere was bustling. Perfect. The only thing that stopped me dead in my tracks was this....

A. SALAD. BAR. My nemesis. I would rather chop my own leg off with a rusty blade than eat in a salad bar "Oh my god, I have just eaten a vitamin and it tastes RE-volt-ing"

Luckily enough, the Indian restaurant had plenty of space, and faithfully promised me that NONE of the food had any vitamins in.

An extra bonus tomorrow is that Becks has finally got some pictures of her weekend to add to the blog.

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Saturday working! There's dedication

You know what one of the worst jobs in the world if you have a warehouse......... wait for it....... dealing with returns. It's a horror, and we haven't done it for over 6 months, what with the move to Oxford and generally spending all our time trying to increase our stock levels. We decided that it was time to tackle the job head on, and because everyone who works at Baumhaus is a star, they all volunteered to give up Saturday morning to sort it all out, before I even asked.

This was the view of the 'returns' section at 11am this morning.

Absolute mayhem ensues as everything is unwrapped to determine why it was returned. Then once cause is established, the item is returned back to good stock (most things come back because they didn't match Elsie's dining table or Frederick's sideboard), repaired or scrapped off if it is damaged. As you can imagine, it is a pretty time-consuming job, but the chaps whizzed through it in double quick time (you can see Juan and Becks beavering away in the picture above).

I kept morale up by shouting "you aren't working quick enough!" at random intervals down a loudspeaker. They really appreciated my help, because it meant that they were finished by 3pm in time for Becks, Phil and Juan to hotfoot it down to London.

Becks has promised me blog pictures from her weekend, so hopefully they will turn up soon. Plus Ms Pumphrey is resending the pictures of her house (which is really funky).

Sad day - Naughty George has gone missing

Sorry I couldn't do a post yesterday, but it was a horrible day. Naughty George, our warehouse dog (well actually he is my dog, but he comes to work with me and you might have heard him in the background when he gets a little 'excitable'), has gone missing.

Pic No. 1 Naughty George at work

One minute he was sunbathing on the front dock leveller whilst I kept an eye on him from the winodow of the photo studio, and the next minute he had totally vanished.

Pic No. 2 Naughty George at home with me 2 weeks ago

He likes to visit the guys at DHL and at the building site opposite, so I didn't think anything of it and went to find him........... but he wasn't anywhere.

Pic No. 3 Naughty George at work about 2 months ago (taken by Hazel)

Eventually, everyone went looking for him, but he has literally completely vanished. Nothing at all. I have put posters up on lamposts and reported him to the Oxford dog warden and they said they would ring if he was handed in. But that was 24 hours ago........ and nothing.

Keep your fingers crossed that he turns up. I must admit that I am a lot gutted - he has been my dog for tons of years ............

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Yet more photographing

How on earth did I end up in charge of photography? My background is aerospace engineering, I lurrrvvvvvve aircraft landing gear, and my favourite past-time is constructing algorithms, and giving people 'item codes' instead of names. But, for some reason I seem to spend most of my time in the Photo Studio, which is indisputably arty. The right side of my brain is starting to ache on a perpetual basis. Actually as a bit of fun, I thought you might like to test and see if you are 'left' or 'right' brain-sided.

Today, I actually got completely stuck artistically, and couldn't think of a single roomset idea for the new Kudos pieces. I had to go and get Hazel the Bedouin, who promptly came into the studio, rearranged a couple of props, and DAH DAH! it looked fabulous.

Then lo and behold, I managed to capture an image of Juan on the shopfloor. Since his birthday celebrations, he has barely been able to move and has been likened to a 'warehouse Iberian lynx'.

However, I think he looks more like a Yeti. The good news is that his hangover is improving steadily and he should soon be back to his normal self.

Oh, one other thing before I go. I thought you might like to to be distracted by something interesting on a Friday afternoon (he he! don't tell your boss).

It is a personality test! You answer all the questions in this link: personality test and then you get a synopsis of your personality. They seem to be uncannily accurate and are based upon validated psychological tests, but let me know what you think.

Have fun!

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

The day after celebrations

I just knew it! That the scamps would get into bother if they went out celebrating Juan's birthday last night. The fact that my suspicion had morphed into reality, first became apparent when the buzzer went on my apartment entry-phone at 8.20am.

"Nothing to see here!" I shouted down the handset, in an attempt to confuse the enemy.

"It's me!" shouted Phil, at which point I quietly replaced the handset and decided to play a waiting game. It was when I saw his face at my window, that I recoiled and decided to give in.

"What?" I asked him.

"We need a lift to work" he shouted.

"We?" I echoed cautiously, opening my front door to find Phil, Becks, Juan, and Steve Steward literally sitting on my doorstep like vagrants.

"Where's your car?" I asked him.

"I couldn't find it" he replied, as though he had lost his sunglasses.

"Flipping hek. Ok, but give me 5 minutes to get my stuff" I replied obligingly.

The journey to work was hardly convivial, given the fact that 3 of the 5 occupants were over 6 feet tall and Naughty George had to be shoe-horned into a congested footwell after rolling in a noxious substance during his evening constitutional yesterday. Steve Steward even sprayed NG's collar with my Chanel perfume (kept in my centre console) in an attempt to make him more palatable, but we had to resort to having all 4 windows open. Needless to say, we all looked like Limahl when we got to work.

It transpired that the chaps had all been out in the Headington area of Oxford last night, celebrating Juan's birthday, and that they hadn't returned home until 3am. I must admit though, they seemed remarkably perky given the lack of sleep, except for Becks who looked knackered. Mind you, one of my nicknames for her is 'Dormouse' because she can sleep anywhere. Even standing up (well I haven't actually seen that, but I still believe she could do it).

Pic No. 1 Becks in the back of the car

Despite the fact that she was tired, she pulled some very impressive things out of the bag with regards to Kinetic Logistics. She has been beavering away on a growth and improvment plan for all Baumhaus' and Kinetic's logistics (she is in charge of all that side of things). She presented her ideas and an implementation plan to us in a meeting this afternoon, and they were absolutely fabbo. Go girl! Also, do you remember that she redesigned the livery on the vans to make them more up-to-date? Well she is also taking the same fresh branding and revamping the website. That girl is becoming more 'hamster on a wheel' than 'dormouse', she is.

Meanwhile, Juan was VERY quiet, and after investigating the root cause of his taciturnity, it appeared to be a goldfish bowl + spirits + straw. Bad Juan.

The whole while, myself and Hazel studiously managed to avoid giving any of them any sympathy. I spent the day in the Photo Studio (again - I might just take up residence there) and Hazel did yet another splendid job of renewing our warehouse insurance. Hazel's special talent is finding money and reducing expenditure. She is excellent at it, and frequently undertakes her endeavours dressed as a bedouin traveller.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Happy Birthday Juan!

Today, "Juan the warehouse warrior" - protector of sideboards, console polisher and philosopher - celebrated his 24th birthday. I say celebrated, but in reality he kind of shuffled into work and didn't mention it. It wasn't until Phil whispered to me "don't forget that it is Juan's birthday," that I cottoned on, and quickly sent Steve Steward out to get a birthday card. Steve returned and handed me a joke card with a young lady on the front who pretends she is going to remove all her clothes for the birthday boy. When you open it up, the back of the card is missing where her clothes once were. Not an entirely appropriate choice, I thought, but from where I was sitting, my options looked pretty limited.

"Happy birthday Juan!" I shouted through the door to his office

"You'd forgotten hadn't you?" he said

"Of course I had. Phil reminded me earlier" I replied

"Thanks anyway..... I think" he retorted.

"I've got you a card" I said, and the ink smudged as I handed it to him.

Inside it said:

Happy Birthday Juan,

Now stop wasting your time reading daft card
s like this when we have got vans to load.
The Director of Kindness
Lady M

Juan thanked me, wiping some of the wet ink off on his trousers.

"No problem" I said, feeling sure that I saw the glisten of a tear in his eye.

Luckily for Juan, events were then taken over by people who are much better at things like this. Yep, over to Becks and Hazel. Hazel had remembered to get a birthday card without being reminded (swot, and don't forget that she also bought Steve Steward a birthday cake last week), and then Becks just went the whole hog, as the youth of today would say; "nuff said."

This is how it happened (so in reality it probably isn't 'nuff said'). Anyway I digress, Becks was seen ferreting around the canteen (yes the same canteen that nearly burnt down yesterday and still smells of charred jam roly poly). The next thing we know, the office door bursts open and in Becks came with a huge cake the shape of a football pitch.

Everyone sang an emotional 'Happy Birthday to you!' (inserting rude words in the bit that goes "Happy birtttttthhday deeaaaar.......insert rude word") and then Juan blew out the candle (Becks had had to improvise and use one of those scented candles in a glass holder because she had left the proper ones at home). It was beautiful and quite moving. Then Steve Steward captured poignancy of the moment in his broad Lancashire accent; "you are definitely at least a quarter of the way to being dead" he noted.

Talking of 'sparing the rod and spoiling the child', that wasn't the end of it. The scamp was being properly pampered and Becks handed over some presents that she had bought him as well. Firstly, he had a large bottle of whiskey in an ornamental whiskey bag and on top of that, vouchers of a significant value that allowed him to buy a ticket to a pop concert.

It later transpired that Becks and Hazel had tried to get him tickets to a Hip Hop gig (Juan's favourite type of music), but the closest they got was a Lionel Ritchie concert. After ummming and ahhhing, they thankfully passed on Lionel Ritchie concert decided to get vouchers instead. You don't know how close it came though Juan!

Also, I would like to draw your attention to one other unrelated thing. Becks has inexplicably been wearing a label all day which says "My name is Becky." What is that all about? You know what, I often find that it is best just to let them get on with it, and not get involved.

Talking of which, I heard Phil, Becks, Juan and Steve Steward planning a bit of a night out tonight to celebrate, so I am praying that I come back to a full complement of staff tomorrow.

Monday, 16 March 2009

Jam roly poly nearly killed us

I always get quite a few chaps and chapesses asking me how on earth I find enough 'stuff' to write about every day. The problem isn't finding the stuff, it is deciding what (or not!!) to include in the blog. So today, I decided to do an unedited post and include the 3 (instead of the normal 1) most noteworthy things that happened at Baumhaus today. I really think that I will start getting sympathy cards soon once people realise what it is like!

Thing No. 1
Baumhaus nearly burnt down. At the time I happened to be next door at the DHL warehouse chatting to the lads on the shopfloor, and looking for Naughty George who had gone missing (again), when one of them said "bloody hell I can smell burning".

I laughed and said; "it's probably one of you doughnuts throwing a cigarette in a bin". They all stared at me shaking their heads and saying "it's coming from over there"(i.e. the general direction of my warehouse). At which point I got a bit nervous and ran outside to see smoke literally billowing out of the Baumhaus Office windows.

I swore (sorry about that, but the circumstances took me a bit off-guard), "SHIIIITT" and ran round to the Baumhaus offices as quickly as I could (pursued by the DHL guys - we must have looked like the Anthill Mob) in order to try and get everyone out. The smoke was thick and rancid throughout the offices, the fire alarm was going full pelt "EEEE AWW EEEE AWWW EEEEE AWWW", and I was floored to find that the muppets inside were still answering the phones; 'Good morning, Baumhaus, how may I help you?' when I couldn't even see my hand in front of my face.

Once everyone was kicked out, whinging that I was over-reacting, I was able to assess what had happened. It was pretty easy to find that the source of the fire was the canteen, and Steve Steward immediately pleaded guilty. It transpires that he was feeling a bit peckish earlier in the day and fancied a spot of breakfast.

The obvious choice was a family sized 'Jam Roly Poly' which he proceeded to pop in the microwave for 40 minutes on full power.

I learnt two interesting things today. The first is that I had NO idea that microwaves were powerful enough to combust foodstuff. The second is (and this blew my mind), how much smoke a jam roly poly can produce when it is on fire. The offices were literally billowing smoke out the windows and yet the roly poly only looks a little charred.

Thing No. 2
Hazel got a tattoo! (she is a dude that girl) She mentioned that she was getting one last week, and I forgot about it for the first hour of work, after which it popped into my head. "HAZEL!" I shouted, "Did you get that tattoo?", not expecting for a second that she had.

"Yes, I bloody did, and it hurt like hell. I wanted to punch the tattoist, and then I felt all woozy and nearly passed out."

"Bloody hell, lets see it then, and do us a pic for the blog" I said

"You can see it, but no pictures because the cling film has only just come off" said Hazel. Well 'cling film' is what it sounded like to me. I have probably got it wrong though, I don't know tattoo speak.

It was a COOL tattoo. A heart with wings at the bottom of her back. Go girl! Hang on a minute though.... isn't she supposed to be a sensible accountant? Note to self - double check the 'answer' on the next VAT return.

Juan then announced that he wanted a David Beckham style tattoo down the inside of his left arm saying 'BAUMHAUS SLAVE'. Fancy saying that after I bought egg mayonnaise sandwich filling for him - so ungrateful.

Thing No. 3

Late this afternoon, I heard a lot of giggling and to-ing and fro-ing down at the bottom of the warehouse. I decided to investigate and went out into the back yard to find Juan and Steve Steward laughing their heads off.

Steve had bought a 'temporary' Peugeot car until he had time to purchase a supersonic works van. Unfortunately, he found it a little boring so decided to liven it up a bit.

....... by spraying 'The Dukes of Hazard' markings all over it. If you know what I am talking about, you are old too!!

Steve, you clearly have far too much time on your hands!

Sunday, 15 March 2009

First day of Spring (kind of)

According to Juan, Spring techically started at the beginning of March, but I still think that Spring actually started today. There are seven specific criteria that make you realise winter has finally drawn to a close; (1) people start sitting outside; (2) there are buds on the trees; (3) the sun is shining and no longer comes under the car sun-visor at 4pm; (5) the fields start stinking of manure; (6) a nice warm feeling occurs on your arms when you take your cardigan off; (7) you get a sinking feeling in your stomach when you can no longer ignore the fact that the grass has started growing again. Point number 7 is even worse when you realise that you have left your lawn-mower in London for the new tenants, and cutting the lawn with a pair of kitchen scissors is starting to become a frightening reality.

To celebrate / commiserate my mixed fortunes, I decided (not having eaten out for at least 12 hours) that I wouldn't mind a roast dinner. I remembered that Steve W was in Oxford this weekend, so I gave him a call and asked him if he and Izzy fancied going for lunch at The Star Inn, in Stanton St John.

"That sounds noice," he said in a Birmingham accent. It was actually one of the few times that I could understand what he had just said.

I drove, and we arrived at The Star Inn at 1.30pm. It is quite a nice eaterie just behind the Talkhouse, another one of my favourites. Look at me eh? Turning into a proper Oxfordshire local!

It is one of those proper old-fashioned, villagey country pubs with a rural garden overlooking the rolling countryside. Perfect for the first day of Spring, and even complete with people sitting in the garden.

Even better, they do very tasty and ENORMOUS (to stop me wasting away), roast dinners. Little Izzy, classy toddler that she is, went for the sausage and chips option, and ice-cream served in a plastic puffin - very Jamie Oliver.... uh hum.

After lunch, I took Izzy (super-cutester) to play outside for half an hour, then said bye to Steve, snogged Izzy all over and munched her leg, before finally droving home.

Once home, I sat for a second contemplating my options, and only one sprung out: GO FOR A LONG WALK! Ooh, my favourite, especially in Oxford where there are squillions of really top walks everywhere.

I donned my wellies and took the dogs for a long walk to the top of Forest Hill.

Hang on a mo.....I said dogs ('plural'). But I only own one dog. Something is awry..... I appear to have 'acquired' another dog. Blimey. I still don't know who the other dog belongs to, but he had a bloody good walk.

Two hours later, and I got back to the village with Naughty George and DOG01A (I didn't know his name so I gave him an item code). DOG01A promptly disappeared as quickly as he had appeared, and Naughty George got home and immediately fell sideways into his basket and lay there with his tongue lolling out, looking a bit dead.

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