Wednesday, 29 April 2009

'Dickens Graffitti', lunch and gadgets

Oh dear, I think Clare has too much time on her hands. She has just created this picture of some bloke graffiting my face onto a wall. Actually, when you view it full size, it is pretty bloomin' good.

She seemed to think it was highly amusing anyway. I may blow the picture up so that it is 1m x 2m and hang it in reception at Baumhaus. That would be motivational for the troops (!).

After a chilled morning in the garden finishing off some Baumhaus work that Phil had got stuck with, Clare and I began deliberating about what we could do in the afternoon ........ uuuummm ......... aahhh.

"How about going out for a spot of lunch?" Clare suggested.

"Be rude not to," I replied, "and how about a bit of gadget shopping afterwards?"

"Sounds like a plan worthy of a king!" said Clare.

We set off, aircon on full blast, to a restaurant called Panera (Bread) which is famous for its freshly baked bread, sandwiches, soups and salads. Ooh lovely, and even better because we bagged a table al fresco.

It was so tasty, that we had nearly eaten everything by the time the picture below was taken, and you can just see my leg in the bottom left hand corner. My nickname is Stilton because I am white with blue veins. That's why I normally wear long trousers.

Beause of my nickname, Clare took a picture of me outside to prove that I had actually ventured into the sunshine, and the amazing thing was, that I didn't turn into a bad gremlin like I had anticipated.

I then managed to get a shot of Clare at lunch, but she is so awfully rude sometimes. I have tried to train her on numerous occasions, but I think she may be a bit feral.

Lunch over, it was time for some serious gadget shopping. So what do you think that the 'gadget de jeur' was? You might have noticed that I have been whinging about the fact that all my blog photographs have been substandard for the last month. So of course, without further ado, we jumped in the car to go and buy a digital camera. We went to one of those ENORMOUS supermarkets (Target) that they have in America, and I managed to get a shot of the ridiculous number of checkouts that they have.

Was my mission successful? I know that you are on the edge of your seat rooting for me. Well, I am happy to report that it jolly well was. Please let me introduce my Casio Exilim EX-Z29 10.1 mega pixel camera. It was $129.00, but I am not sure what cameras usually cost, so am not entirely sure it was a bargain. Please could digital camera experts send their answers on a postcard........

The only thing that I am not too chuffed about is the fact that it is pink, but unfortunately, it was the only colour that they had in stock. I am seriously considering tippexing (youngsters probably won't know what that is, which gives away my age a bit!) over the pink bits over to avoid any further embarrassment.

Anyway, as I write this, I am sure that you will be pleased to know that I am by the pool again, listening to the water trickle down the waterfall.

The only thing that isn't too good is that Clare said we are having lasagne for dinner again.

"But we had that last night!" I protested.

"Well have a sandwich instead then," she replied. It's a disgrace. She's the hostess with the leastess! ;-)

A trip to America with Anne Dickens

Well you will be happy to know that as I type this, I am at Clare's Florida house (the friend I have gone to visit), sitting beside her stunning pool in the bright sunshine looking out over to the lake beyond. All I can hear is the waterfall in the corner and Clare cooking me a bagel and filter coffee with vanilla creamer in the kitchen (yikes! I am going native!). It ain't Oxford that's for sure.

The journey here went remarkably smoothly and Clare's fears that I would accidentally end up in Nepal were completely unfounded - she's a worrier that girl.

I was dropped off at Gatwick at 11am, and the only disaster was that I left my mobile phone in the car. No problem, I thought I will ring Steve who dropped me off and get him to come back, which was a great plan ........ except for the fact that I didn't have my phone with me. That meant that (1.) I had to figure out how a 'payphone' works; (2.) I had to ring Baumhaus and ask that they ring Steve to get him back to the airport; and (3.) I then had to ring Baumhaus back to make sure that they managed to get through to him ok and to verify the new meeting place.

Luckily, Steve was still in the Gatwick McDonalds eating a Big Mac at the time so everything went like clockwork and I got my phone back safely.

I made my way to check-in, and noticed something quite vexatious that occurs at most airports, particularly the ones that cater mainly for tourists (like Gatwick, but hardly ever at business airports like Birmingham Eurohub).

You know those long travellators that are supposed to get you to your gate on time, there are always people who think that the purpose of them is to replace, rather than speed up walking. So they get on the travellator and then just stop and chat, meaning that it takes longer to get to your gate than if the travellator didn't exist in the first place. Even more irritating is that these people are always oblivious to the fact that there is a huge build up of people behind them trying to get past. I should be on that programme 'gumpy old women', I should. I would be brilliant on it because I have loads of pet hates.

Anyway, I got to Gate 19 on time, had a quick 5 minutes of being nostalgic - casting my mind back to the not-so-long ago days when I used to work in aerospace and spent a lot of time at airports and flying around the world visiting customers and selling them 'landing gear' (with my favourite two customers being based in the Seychelles and Moscow for obvious reasons!)

Back to reality! I embarked upon a 747-400 aircraft (they have sixteen wheels and therefore 16 brakes which are located in the centre of the wheel, so can be quite lucrative if you can get a landing gear maintenance contract, especially if carbon brakes are used over steel brakes - it often costs in excess of £80,000 to overhaul ONE carbon brake). That was interesting fact of the day!

Back inside, I was in cattle class, but yippee! I had 3 seats all to myself so it was a brilliant journey, and over the course of nine hours, I became really bloody good at Solitaire, ate slimey BBQ chicken and read 'Who moved my Blackberry?' by Martin Lukes.

I arrived at Orlando airport at 6pm, and got through immigration, baggage claim and customs in 20 minutes (compare that with Heathrow which normally takes at least an hour!), which meant that Clare hadn't arrived to pick me up yet. That gave me fifteen minutes of awe, admiring all the plastic disney statues that are scattered throughout Orlando airport.

Clare eventually arrived, refused to let me take the plastic Mickey Mouse with me, and we drove to her house in Clermont, just in time for a sunset over the lake behind her pool.

One home-made lasagne, and some garlic bread later (super-yummy), I was bushed and went to bed. Wow...... just realised that this is a super-long post. My fingers are stinging, I hope you appreciate my pain!

Monday, 27 April 2009

Last day at work!

Phew! Thank crikey that today is over. Because it was my last day at work before my holiday, everything was manic squared. I had a list of things that I wanted to get done before I left, and so had to work quicker than a humming bird's wings, which are so quick they are a blur (that gives you an idea of how quickly I had to work).

Luckily, everything that I wanted to get done was completed on time, and at 3pm, I held a handover meeting. Juan attended even though he didn't have to, because he was lonely. The handover meeting convened with me briefing everyone as follows; "nearly everything I do will just be put on hold because no-one else knows how to do it," and then I cunningly delegated all the jobs that I hate doing to Hazel, Phil and Becks, pretending that I was 'handing over'.

Job done, I suddenly wandered which airport I was flying from tomorrow. Luckily Clare had sent an email to Phil and Becks with my flight details and visa on, but unusually didn't copy me in. Phil had printed the documents out, and put them in my hand explicitly saying "don't lose them you div" (brotherly love!).

I then realised that I hadn't seen my passport for a couple of months, so drove home post-haste to see if I could find it. Luckily, it was in a drawer in the living room, so I celebrated by taking Naughty George out for a walk.

I don't know about you, but the weather here in Oxford has been vile today. Mainly bucketing it down with rain. I got to the top of the hill above, and then the heaven's opened and I got drenched. Mind you, I am not too fussy about getting wet having been brought up in Lancashire.

Then Clare skyped me just 10 minutes ago to go through a checklist of things that I could potentially cock-up, and you know what, I have done well and not forgotten a thing.

The only thing I don't know is how long I am away for. Estimates range from 10 days to 2 weeks. I will let you know once I find out.

I am exhausted now, and am just off to have some dinner. Postings may be a little erratic from now on because of time differences, but I will make like a boy scout and do the best I can.

Bye Bye Blighty! Bring on Uncle Sam!

Sunday, 26 April 2009

Chaotic weekends are too bally short

Blimey, even though I am not normally the most organised person in the world when it comes to arranging 'stuff', this time I nearly got it horribly wrong.

I had planned to have a fairly chilled weekend, eating out, walking Naughty George and so on. In line with this plan, on Saturday morning I went to visit Steve W and Izzy at their apartment in order to blag a free coffee.

After 20 minutes of Izzy and I trying comedy sunglasses on, Steve asked "Aren't you off on holiday to America soon?"

"Yes, Thursday," I replied.

"Are you sure?" asked Steve, "I thought I heard someone say that your flight was on Tuesday morning."

"Actually, I'm not sure," I gulped, "let me check Clare's [the friend who I am going to visit] email and find out."
Five minutes later.........

"OH CRAP!", I yelled, "the bloody flight is on Tuesday morning, and all my summer clothes are squirrelled away on one of 20 pallets at the warehouse."
The reason that all my worldly belongings live on pallets, is because I rented out my London house, even though the Oxford house I am moving into isn't ready until 9th May.
Pic. No. 1 All my stuff is on pallets on the top shelf of the warehouse
The result was that my weekend of R&R was plunged into mayhem. The first thing I had to do was drive to Baumhaus and try and locate attire conducive with Florida 30 degrees centigrade.
I thought you may like a picture of my belongings on pallets. To make matters worse, they were all located on the top level of the warehouse racking, so finding 'summer clothes' was looking like it was going to be a bit of a palaver.
But would you bloody believe it....... the first pallet that I got down from the racks contained a box with a 'hastily scribbled' label saying 'summer clothes'. What are the chances of that?!

I must have been very good in a previous life, and as such, I telephoned Steve and said "oi, I have just recovered 2 hours that I didn't think I had, do you and Izzy fancy a lunch out?".
"Yes, for definite." Steve replied.
"Ok, I will meet you at The Talkhouse in half an hour."
I arrived early and noticed the phone box outside the front door. Knowing that Phil has just bought an i-phone, I took a picture of it and texted it saying "now you have an i-phone, bet you spend a lot of time in these."

Obviously, because he has an i-phone, he didn't receive my message until a good three hours later, but when he did, he texted "thats because i-phones have a good stalker filter." Yeh right.
I digress. We tried to get a lunch at The Talkhouse but it was fully booked (DOH!), so a trip to The Star ensued because it was the closest available eaterie.

I even managed to get my favourite gag in. It's where you stick a beer mat on your nose and shout; "who threw that?"

Friday - snifter after work anyone?

A lovely summery day, all shopfloor work had been finished in the warehouse by 4.30pm and it was Friday. What is one supposed to do when this particular set of circumstances crops up?

"Snifter anyone?" I shouted throughout the office. I kid you not, within 30 seconds, everyone's desks were cleared, the windows were shut, computers closed down, and the shopfloor was locked up and ready to go.

"Bloody hell!" I said, "It's a shame you can't load vans that quickly, we'd be millionaires by now." But by the time I had finished the sentence, I realised that I was standing alone in the office and cars were being started in the carpark.

Pic. No. 1 We found a nice table in the middle of a cat litter tray

The task of finding a good pub in the vicinity of the warehouse was delegated to Hazel, given that (unlike the rest of us) she has lived in Oxford for a number of years. It also gave us someone to blame if the pub wasn't very good. Not that we would do that of course, because we operate a 'no blame' culture at Baumhaus..... actually that's not strictly true...... I tell people to blame whoever is out the office at the time. That's normally Becky. Because she is on the road a lot, she is responsible for about 99% of things that go wrong.

Pic. No. 2 Juan notices some dirt on his 'office hands'

Anyway, I digress (that's my favourite hobby that is). Hazel chose our destination wisely and well, and it was a place called The Four Pillars. It was a hotel / restaurant situated on the banks of the river.

"I got married here." Hazel said.

"Are you sure you are ok with us being here," I said, "we can always go somewhere else if it holds bad memories."

"It's where I married my husband," she responded, "it holds good memories."

"Cool, let's go to the bar!" I replied.

We chilled out in the sunshine, and then a wedding party appeared in the courtyard.

"It must be half-time," Phil said, before continuing; "weddings are weird, full of people who don't know each other being polite." We then started discussing how people tend to lose awareness of their surroundings when they are mingling with people they don't know, simply because they are concentrating so much.

"I mean, I could probably go right into the middle of that lot and do a jig, and no one would notice," I said. DOH! I should have kept quiet. Red. reg. bulls. gagsters.

Next thing I knew I was performing a jig in the middle of the wedding party, and sure enough no one even looked at me.

Pic. No. 3 Performing a jig amidst a random wedding party

That is, except for one young scamp who had witnessed my shenanigans and tried to hi-five me in mid jig. He tried so hard that both his feet left the floor (see picture), and I didn't even notice him. Blimey, I seem to have entered a parallel universe where noone notices each other. Cue: 'Doctor Who' theme tune.

Friday, 24 April 2009

Containers and Kings (Burger that is)

You know what it is like at Baumhaus. It isn’t all bad, and although every computer in the world broke down in the same two hours today, someone handily pointed out that we need to be properly fortified if a container is arriving before lunch. Cue: let’s send for a Burger King (we are classy here – even though Jamie Oliver has been spotted pushing salads through the railings).

Pic. No. 1. Hazel looks like a rabbit caught in headlights when she does Phil’s expenses. She is thinking ‘what GL code can I put THAT under?’

If anyone fancies a bit of personality profiling, I am going to tell you what everyone ordered: Hazel; Ocean Catch, Becks and I; Piri Piri Chicken, Juan; Standard Burger Meal; and (here is the weird one), Phil; who ordered nothing! The reason it is weird is because of the nicknames that he has revolving around food, such as gannet, hollow-legs, gut-bucket, billy-goat (as in he will eat things that make a billy-goat puke), dustbin, and man-boobs (now shortened to Moobs for expediency’s sake).

Pic. No. 2. Eating at your desk is "completely disgusting" [Juan, April 2009]

Noticing the new Burger King packaging, a conversation quickly arose revolving around how shocking the calorific value of a burger was, and what you would have to do to burn that amount of calories off (sorry can’t post the results of that conversation!). Meanwhile, Hazel and I were lamenting the days when the only way you could tell how fat food was going to make you, was to heat it over a Bunsen burner (remember the peanut experiment in chemistry?). Suddenly, we heard a ‘PARP PARP’ as the container drew up outside and the driver sounded his horn.

With everyone ‘Burger-Kinged-up’, the container was unloaded in 1 hour and 10 minutes flat. That is ab-so-bloody-lutely-super-fast for a 40’ High Cube.

Pic. No. 3. Becks working like a pit pony

In fact, the outbound vans were being loaded before the container had left. That is very slick that is. Wow. BK meals are the new marching powder!

Bring back the abacus and slide rule!

Today was ‘technological disaster day’, in that it was a bit like ‘no smoking day’ except for the fact that the technology abstains rather than the smoker. Even before the day started, my situation wasn’t ideal because my laptop had been sent away (again!) for fixing and I had forgotten to copy over my email settings to my temporary machine. A lot of lovely customers had been telephoning thinking I was ignoring their emails and I wasn’t. How much of a donkey do I feel making such a fundamental schoolboy error? My superhero nickname (when I am wearing underpants outside of my trousers) is usually ‘Backup Woman’.

Pic. No. 1 Becks stressing about how she is going to distribute a full container of furniture throughout the UK in less than 3 days. Either that or she is playing ‘one potato, two potato’ with herself.

Anyway, today we were expecting a really important container (it is stuffed with everything that needs to shipped out the building as soon as it arrives), when Juan’s machine also broke down (I know that I make computers sound as though they are petrol-powered, but they are just not my ‘thang’!), so he couldn’t work out which orders to get lined up. On top of that I managed to kill my temporary computer by working on too many large files at the same time. It wasn’t until 11.15am that we managed to get everything back on its feet. It was carnage. In fact, if I were to analogise our technological scenario today with ‘eating out’, it would be the equivalent of buying a KFC Family bucket and putting it through a bark-chipper.

I digress. At last! Our computers were up and running, I could get back into the photo studio to finish off all the images for the new products that I have to launch before I can go on holiday. However, despite dressing 2 pieces of furniture, I was only able to take one photograph before all the rechargeable batteries for the cataloguing camera died simultaneously. It was like an AA+ suicide pact. GRRRRRR! That was the photo studio down for a day.

Before I go, please accept my apologies about the gratuitous use of exclamation marks in this post. Technological issues always result in this symptom – I think that it’s because exclamation marks are the written equivalent of a fake smile / grimace ;-)

Sorry I've gone quiet

Just a quickie to apologise for going quiet for the last couple of days. There are a couple of reasons for this; (1) my laptop has gone back to Vaio for repair because it keeps crashing; and (2) the internet has died in my apartment because I didn't pay Tiscali for my broadband. It wasn't technically my fault, it is because I moved banks and the direct debit didn't get transferred like they promised. It's an absolute 'mare! Everything will be back on track soon though.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Chateau Pumphrey 2009 - a good year

I set off for work this morning and the sun was shining, the birds were singing, flowers were budding all around me, and .... the schools were back. Yep, the Oxford transport infrastructure morphed from empty roads to total gridlock overnight. As a result, the journey to work took twice as long, as I skilfully dodged little Tarquins and Johnnys being ejected from 4x4's sitting on double yellow lines with hazard lights on. I may be over-simplifying things, but how much of a problem would this be to overcome? Two fairly obvious solutions spring to mind; (1) stagger school start, and finish times; and (2) buy quite a lot of yellow school buses to transport Children safely.

Then once at work, I found out from our shipping line that the container that we were expecting today had been delayed at the docks and was coming tomorrow instead. Blimey, today hadn't started well.
Luckily, things started looking up when Hazel arrived at work. "Morning!" we yelled at each other.
"I've got a present for you, because you were whingeing that I get them for everyone else and not you," Hazel said.
"Excellent!" I said, "what the devil is it?" I asked her.
Dah dahhhhh! Here is the very 'Hazel' (ie. funny!) present that she had brought in. It was a bottle of her own homemade wine, complete with a label saying 'Chateau Pumphrey' and a picture of her drunken cousin dressed as Cruella DeVille below it.

It was one of the most amusing presents that I have received in ages, and I have been reliably informed by Hazel that if I attempt to drink it all in 'one go' I probably won't be in work tomorrow and the inside of my mouth will feel like the bottom of a bird's cage.

After the container was cancelled, the chaps in the office were left with a gap in their diary during which they decided to take the mick out of my handbag, purely on the premise that it didn't contain enough 'girly' things.

"Why are you routing around my handbag anyway?" I asked the perpetrator.

"I needed an pre-2002 nokia-to-USB cable and they are really rare," he replied.

"And did you find one?" I asked. "Actually yes, I did" he replied. Even though my handbag had brought riches forth, he still decided to parade it round the office pointing out the absence of make-up, hair products or perfume.

Cheeky git. Especially so because I have recently rationalised the contents of my handbag to try and align myself with normal girl standards. I decided that I don't have time to service cars any more, so I have taken out the 'oil filter removal chain' and my full set of metric and imperial allen keys. But....... the 20GB hard disk drive, ipod Touch, and Swiss army knife are used too often to be removed, so they are allowed to remain.

Please ladies, send me pictures of the inside of YOUR handbag so that I can perform a non-scientific audit of handbag contents! (that would be really interesting!)

Monday, 20 April 2009

Working out.......

I have just been to the gym and there is a new machine.

I only used it for an hour as I started to feel sick! It's good though - it does everything.............

Kit Kats, Mars Bars, Snickers and cans of Coke.

[I just got texted that gag and thought it was really funny!!]

Pimms anyone?

I am always doing that - taking pictures for the blog and then forgetting to upload them, and funnily enough, that's what I did yesterday.

There I was chilling out in my apartment enjoying a leisurely Sunday on the BBC News website, when I got a call from Phil. 'Ah! he must want something,' I thought, so I answered the phone and said; "hello, you have reached the voicemail of Anne Dickens, please leave a message after the tone."

There was a pause and then Phil said, "are you pretending to be an answerphone again?"

"Yep," I said cheerily, "do you want some help again?"

"Yep," he said cheerily, "I am stuck with some SEO [search engine optimisation] for some domains that I have registered."

"Got anything that I can have for free?" I asked.

"Yep," Phil replied.

"I'll be right over" I said.

Phil, Becky and Juan share a really nice apartment that is in the block just next to mine, so I buzzed their entryphone and found Phil poring away over his laptop with his hair surprisingly uncoiffed. "Look at the state of your hair!" I said. "Good morning," Phil replied.

And then I spotted the booty. Oh yes, Becks had only just got back from a mega-shop at the supermarket. "Wow, Becks. look at that," I said, "can you pose like a domestic goddess and then ply me with free stuff?" Becks duly obliged and struck a pose with a melon and pack of minced beef, and then got the coffee perculating (in her new Le Crueset Ovenware - classy gal!).

I beavered over the laptop with Phil, duly obliging with the SEO and Becks kept the fresh coffee coming, Juan offered me a bacon sandwich which I declined because I was too ill, and then instantly regretted it because it looked really tasty. He is a bit of a secret chef that scamp.

After creating the bacon sandwiches, it all got a bit much for Juan, and he had to recover by reclining on the sofa and admiring the rolling Oxfordshire countryside outside the window (they live next door to Danny from Supergrass' mum and dad).

I left once I had done all the SEO work, but was invited back at 6.30pm for a Pimms on the veranda. Becks had done her stuff again. Proper Pimms with mint, fresh strawberries and ice-cubes. What a way to finish a Sunday!

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Come and tour Oxford with Becky

Roll up! Roll up! Becky is going on a bus tour of Oxford and she would like you to tag along. Hang on a minute ......... a bus tour? Isn't that a pastime generally favoured by Bingo Warriors? Yes it is, but that does not deter the lovely Ms McDevitt one bit. In fact she positively embraces anything retro that girl, and bus tour it bally well is.

Put on tourguide earphones, select first gear and off we go. Hang on a minute, what is that guy on the back seat doing? He looks a bit fishy to me.

The first stop of the tour was Christ's College, and this is a view of the gardens at the back. As well as being one of Oxford's largest University colleges, it is also the Cathedral Church for the Diocese of Oxford. I bet you didn't know that did you?

I thought the guy looked fishy on the back seat, but that is nothing compared to these two. That'll be Becks (left) and her friend Crumb. Before you ask, I have no idea why she is called Crumb, but if I do detect a surge of interest, I will find out and post the answer on this blog.

Next up and we have 'The Bridge of Sighs'. Apparently, it is an exact replica of a bridge in Venice that was romanticised by Byron.

I am not one to take anyone's word for anything, so I double checked and the bridge in Oxford is most definitely not an exact replica of the one in Venice. You can see above that they similar-ish in that they span the gap between two buildings, but other than that, I think the Oxford bridge kicks the butt of the Venice bridge. Italians! Feel free to defend your bridge against my dastardly slurs!

As if the excitement above wasn't enough, Oxford kept on regurgitating its little secrets. The picture above may look like a bog standard lamppost, but it isn't. No sirree, that is apparently the exact lamppost used in the film 'Narnia'.

As I aforementioned, I am not one to take anyone's word for anything, so I decided to check out some promotional material for the film Narnia. Crikey O'Reilly, it does actually appear to be the exact same lamppost!
For the grand finale we have.......... a round building. Becky had told me what it was, but I have forgotten. I tried to cover my tracks by typing 'round building oxford' into Google Images, but it seems that that are many more heathens out there like me, because although I found pictures of the building above, they were given titles like 'round building in Oxford' or 'nice round building Oxford', whereas in reality it probably holds significant historical prominence.

Hope you enjoyed your tour of Oxford with Ms McDevitt!

Weekend illnesses

What a rubbish weekend it has been so far. After being ill last week, it got worse and on Saturday morning it had developed into a throat infection complete with temperature which meant that I was pretty much levelled. I was so bad yesterday that Phil came over to help me plan my funeral. I selected the music; "there's clingons on the starboard bow" and Phil wrote a poem called "The end of the Snodge." It was beautiful.

Anyway, the good news is that I managed to bodyswerve the Grim Reaper and feel a bit better today.

Then I found some pictures of the night out that we had on Friday after work. We were quite light on numbers with Becks being out on the road, Hazel on holiday and Steve W away, so that left myself, Phil, Juan and Steve Steward. I must admit though, the quality of the pictures was very poor - what on earth was I thinking?

Although Steve Steward looks like he has had too many beers, I can assure you that it was just my odd camera shot.

Phil definitely looks a bit green around the gills. I think that the camera on my phone is pretty poor when it takes inside shots. I have got a Nokia 8810-Arte - does anyone know anything about the camera settings?

Finally, Juan seems to have a beam wedged in his skull. My excuse for the poor level of photographs was my severe malaise, and lack of proper digital camera. Note to self: must try harder!

Friday, 17 April 2009

OOH, Quiet Bank Holiday Friday

Being the stoic that I am, I managed to drag myself into work again today, despite being desperately ill with man-flu. Well to be more precise, I didn't drag myself in, I cadged a lift with Juan and Phil so that we didn't have to take two cars to work. That's environmental that is. The reason that my affliction was so debilitating today, was that last night I decided to skip dinner in order to have an early night because I was exhausted after so many new product launches [woe is me. Mop my fevered brow and feed me grapes!]. As you can probably tell, I don't like suffering in silence.

In my head, I had already planned out what was going to happen when we arrived at work; I was going to crawl under my desk and sleep, and let Juan and Phil do the rest (everyone else is out of the office today and we have more tumbleweed wafting around).

Unfortunately, things didn't turn out quite as I had hoped. Firstly, we found a container lorry driving aimlessly around, and yep....... it was for us.

Then one of our lovely customers / chums turned up for a visit. Helloooooo Nick! I asked him if I could include him in the blog because Juan never does anything that I can write about and I wanted some new material, so he agreed.

So above is a picture of Nick, and I like to call him the 'Antipodean Terror Man' because he comes from New Zealand, and sells us dodgy vans. Mind you, if you need some very stylish oak doors for your house, give him a buzz because he owns this company: UK Oak Doors

Then because Juan was Jealous that Nick was featuring in the blog over him, he tried to regain ground by giving me the most half-hearted Zoolander I have ever seen in my life. "That was bloody rubbish," I said to him, not expecting him to concede immediately, "I know" he replied.

Towards the end of the day I was fading fast, and because it is a bank holiday week, the phones had gone really quiet. "Right that is it!" I shouted, "we are all going home before I collapse on the spot and dissolve."

Thankfully I was spirited home where I now sit on the sofa, wrapped in a duvet and being pathetic. Whilst listening to Radio 4 with a cold compress on my brow, I suddenly noticed a new 'thing' in my living room.

I looked at it more closely, and blimey, it was a 'television set'. One of the Steves from work had plumbed it in for me. I haven't had a television set in ages........... I tentatively turned it on with the remote control but I couldn't make it show anything other than 'Ice Skaters' and 'Estate Agents', so I got bored, turned it off, and upped the volume on Radio 4.

Have a good weekend!

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Oh goody! Lots of new products

Well isn't that just typical? I knew that I had to do a new product launch today (which normally means a lot of work for little old moi), and I woke up ill. Bear in mind that I don't just get 'ill' though, I get a lot iller than anyone else has ever been, and therefore deserve an exponential level of sympathy. By rights, I should have spent the day in an Iron Lung to prevent me from perishing entirely. Instead, I struggled into work and spent the day launching products for my lovely customers. Occasionally I left my desk and staggered to the canteen to get more lemsips, but always prefaced it with; "I am just going outside and I may be some time."

Despite the odds, I beavered away (I am letting myself be swept along by the popular conception that beavers are in fact industrious) all day, and finally got the launch email ready to go:

Hi there,

I hope things are going well despite the credit crunch thingy. You will be pleased, nay super-chuffed, to know I have got some cool new product designs for you. However, before I allow you to upload them to your website, I would like some proper sympathy please.

I have been living in a cardboard box in the the Photo Studio for over a month working 23 hours a day and eating coal (not sure why I did that though because a sandwich van visits every day), to get all the photographs and descriptions done.

So may I introduce (dah dahhhhhhhh - that's me doing some unveiling):

COR18A Laundry Bin Mobel Oak

COR19 A Closed Bathroom Unit Tall
COR19E Open Bathroom Unit Tall
IDW03A Kudos Ladder Back Dining Chair (pack of 2)
IDW04A Kudos Small Dining Table (4 seater)
IDW04B Kudos Large Dining Table (6 seater)
IDW17C Kudos Multi-Shelf CD/DVD Unit
IDW18A Kudos Laundry Bin
IDW19D Kudos Wall Mounted Bathroom Cabinet (Large)
I2DW01A Kudos Large One Drawer Bookcase (not a new product, but I have taken some new images)

Plus we are putting some new Bathroom images together for you. And before you ask, no we haven't invested in a new bathroom suite for the Photostudio (I am far too tight to do that), I have made Phil become very good at super-imposing in Adobe Photoshop (much to his disgruntlement)!!!

The other bit of good news is that all the stock that we ordered to cover the exceptional Christmas sales has now started to arrive with us. We had one container arrive yesterday and we have got another eight arriving with us in the next few weeks (that'll keep Juan and Becks busy!!).

Anyway, as always, you can download all the informat
ion on these new products from our website, or if you require high-res images, drop me a line and I will send them over to you. Hope you like them and that it isn't raining where you are (it is here)

Warm regards


P.S. More good news for you (but definitely NOT me), is that I have some more new products to launch in the next couple of weeks. [sigh] that'll be me back to the Photo Studio then. Phil has kindly upgraded my cardboard box from an Aldi's to a Sainsbury's to try and entice me back in there.

P.P.S. if you want us to handle all your deliveries (from other suppliers as well), we have radically expanded our logistics services and prices due to popular demand (that's Beckys hard work and she is really excited about it!)

Just as I pressed 'send' and my email winged its way out to all our customers, Phil came running into the office and shouted (even though he was standing next to me) "don't send the launch email, the website server has just gone down." Bloody. Hell. It really was turning into one of those days. The website server is based in a super-secure correctional facility in Reading because it processes customer payments (Phil and I can't even get in without showing our passports, and it is our server!).

Anyway, several frantic telephone calls to our server 'looker-afterer' (I am not entirely sure of the correct job title) it was confirmed that the website was back up and running. Phew!

Just in case you are a teccie, I have posted a photograph of the aforementioned server - I know that you like that kind of thing, and I am expecting an email from you about the unusual mounting brackets.

Disaster averted, I was just about to let myself lapse into a reverie of semi-coma (that's how ill I was) and the telephone rang. It was one of our lovely customers (who happens to be a supersonic trained accountant), pointing out that the pricelist on the lauch email was wrong. DOH - that was a fundamental schoolboy error. As a result I had to resend the pricelists, which was a tad embarrassing:

Hello - only me again.

Due to the fact that I have been on death's door all day with the worst cold that anyone has ever had, I managed to attach the wrong pricelist to the last email.
Sorry about that - I was playing with some new PDF software and managed to overwrite the correct pricelist. The correct ones are now attached.

Warm regards

By this time, I was exhausted to the point where I didn't have the strength to close my laptop lid. I said goodbye to Phil, adding "if I am not in tomorrow, it is because a cleaner has unplugged my life support machine for her hoover."

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Around the world in a single blog

I know that I am a saddo, but as part of my 'blog statistics' I get to see a world map with little pins in it showing the whereabouts of the blog readers, and it is always really cool to look at.

How does one small blogpage get so far around the globe on its own? My theory is that the sheer volume of tat that I type in, means that it gets picked up by millions of different keywords.

In the last day, here are a few of the places that the Baumhaus blog has been to visit (you busy little blog, you):

Tokyo, Japan
Teulada, Spain
Rajasthan, India
Vladivostock, Russia
Shandong, China
Melbourne, Australia
Massachusetts, US
Jiangsu, China
Maryland, US
Copenhagen, Denmark
Tennessee, US
New Jersey, US
Queensland, Australia
Nitra, Slovakia
Texas, US
Central District, Hong Kong
Florida, US
Perth, Australia
Jakarta, Indonesia
Indiana, US
Nova Scotia, Canada
Colorado, US
Saint Andrew, Jamaica
Maharashtra, India
Tennessee, US
Georgia, US
Alberta, Canada
Dolj, Romania
Delhi, India
Al Qahirah, Egypt
Kathmandu, Nepal
Lazio, Italy
Zuid-Holland, Netherlands
Stockholm, Sweden
Taichung, Taiwan

Then my fingers started hurting after all that typing, and that's not counting the tons of UK places, and other less exciting places (like Belgium). Blimey, I want those airmiles!!

Monday, 13 April 2009

Easter weekend with the rellys

Excellent! I received a brucey bonus this weekend. My lovely Father (aka Pops) and Stepmother (aka WSM 'wicked stepmother' - that's ironic by the way!) came over to visit yesterday evening. I never normally know where they are, or when to expect them, because they are pretty nomadic. For example, I have previously rung them thinking that they are at home, noticed that the line was a bit crackly, and to be informed that it was probably because they were in the North Pole watching whales (no, I am not kidding).

Anyway, it transpired that they had the weekend free before embarking upon a three month sailing trip, so they decided to come and visit myself and Phil in Oxford. Obviously, the only course of action with them arriving at 6pm was to go out for an evening meal, and at last I had an excuse to sample the delights of the Merry Miller. Because I had tried to eat there a week ago and there was no table available, I decided to book in advance. This time however, the place was completely empty. How weird is that (talk about peaks and troughs)? I ordered the 'Panko Breaded Chicken With Japanese Coconut Stir Fry' but they got my order wrong so I ended up with some burger dish and fries, which I wasn't too pleased about because 'fries'? nope! just not my thang. I will reserve judgement until I have properly sampled the food there though. By the way, sorry I didn't get any photographs, but I left the camera at home.

Today was a proper lazy bank holiday, and as such, WSM, Pops, Phil and myself decided to go for a long brunch in Oxford.

Pic. No. 1. From left to right - WSM, Pops and Phil

Here is a picture of all the rellys on Cowley Road, just next to Oxford centre. Note to self: Has Phil's jumper shrunk, or has he expanded? Note to self II: Blimey, the whole family is nearly in one place at the same time (the missing one is Andy in case you were wandering).

We found a leisurely cafe called the 'Tick Tock Cafe' just next to the River Thames, and everyone ordered the full English breakfast.

Being a northerner, I am normally very critical when it comes to cooked breakfasts, roast lunches, and gravy-making. However the Tick Tock was excellent if you are looking for a tasty breakfast. The interior was pretty standard (although light and airy), but the staff were friendly, the food was all freshly cooked and immensely tasty. Go there! it's good and I am not paid to say that!

Whilst trying to amuse ourselves in between courses, I threw Phil a challenge; see who can throw the best camera pose. My challenge to him was that I wanted him to do a 'Bored Zoolander' (see above).

He challenged me to pretend that I had just nicked his puppy and that my nickname was 'Cruella deVille'.

Who do you think came up trumps?

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