Monday, 29 June 2009

I'm a social butterfly!

As if the excitement of Saturday wasn't enough, Baby Oliver and I had a date at Little Izzy's fourth birthday party to be held at Funky Monkeys in Bicester. Blimey is my life a social whirl or what? We turned up and it was an event to rival Elton John's annual fund raiser, but our style was hampered a bit by Poops and Chris tagging along (wink!).

Pic. No. 1 Izzy and Jessica - Ooh arr me hearties!

After fighting our way through the paparazzi, first up on the mega-star agenda everyone was getting their faces painted as pirates. I know that the face painting and pirate theme was a bit lame (see pics above), but that was because the 'deluxe' birthday package hadn't been purchased apparently. Another clause seemed to be that non-deluxe pirates were only painted with a single colour - i.e. black. Blimey, Funkey Monkeys seems to mirror, on a basic level, a fundamental socio-economic class divide. That's not good.

Despite the face-painting limitations, the party food was brilliantly retro and therefore ticked all the boxes because I am currently going through a bit of a retro-food stage. In facst I may even indulge in a Prawn Cocktail for my dinner this evening with gammon and pineapple to follow, topped off with Black Forest Gateaux.

Now, all of you thirty somethings, I want you to nod everytime I mention a retro food that was at the party today, because things don't seem to be changing that much - (1) cheese and pineapple on a stick; (2) hoola hoops in a bowl; (3) cocktail sausages on sticks (why are they called 'cocktail' sausages?); (4) small bowls of jelly; (5) tuna paste sandwiches cut into triangles; and (6) chocolate crispies in little wrinkled paper cups.

As if that wasn't enough to make the little darlings bounce off the walls, a blue and red birthday cake (oozing e-numbers, but all natural ingredients darling) ensured that all attending would be diagnosed with ADHD first thing Monday morning.

"Oi, Baby Oliver, let's get out of here," I shouted.

"Yep, let's go," replied Chris and Poops (the hangers-on), and luckily for me, I had found an ace pub called The Chequers which did superb food.

[Note to readers: GO THERE (I am waving a watch before your eyes saying 'you are getting sleepy')]

Pic. (From left to right - Oliver, Chris, Andy (Poops) Cooper

The Chequers, Weston-on-the-Green was lovely location, excellent food, and really friendly service. I am normally a bit hesitant to recommend places but in this case, I say - Go there! and don't spare the dobbins!

P.S. Happy birthday little Iz xx

Sunday, 28 June 2009

A date with Baby Oliver

To paraphrase (whilst changing it slightly), a Harry Enfield saying; 'this weekend, I will mainly be hanging out with my young chums.'

Yep, after consulting my diary, I found out that my oldest 'date' this weekend was four and my youngest was 4.5 months. Fabbo! That gives me an excuse to drop my usually serious persona, and do 'kid stuff', whilst obviously trying to steer them away from the dead bloke in my back garden [note to self: as an added precaution, don't forget to put away all the buckets and spades].

My first date, Oliver (along with his parents, Andy 'Poops' Cooper and Chris), weren't due to arrive until lunchtime on Saturday, so I took the opportunity to cut the grass. As always, I hadn't been in the garden for 5 minutes when I heard some 'northern hollering'. I looked up and saw Becks sat on a bloody great dobbin in my driveway.

"What yer up to?" shouted Becky over the gate as I stood on the grass with a lawnmower in my hand.

"I thought I would chill-out and read a good book," I shouted back.

"It's alright for some," she said, doing a three-point-turn and taking the dobbin back onto the road, "I have got another horse to ride straight after this one."

Blimey, these horse-things seem really labour intensive. I am still not sure what they are all about, because apparently we don't eat them like the French. Becky said they can jump fences, but I thought that gates were invented so that you didn't have to. Plus ploughs have pretty much been replaced by tractors (didn't Mr Luddite see to that?). I digress, more on the purpose of horses later.

Finally, it got to lunchtime and my chum, Baby Oliver (aged 4.5 months) arrived with his parents, Chris and Poops. What a cutey! He didn't look like a skinned rabbit at all.

"Hail! Bristolians!" I shouted, "come and sit in my gazebo!"

Only Chris and I actually sat in the gazebo, because Poops spent the next hour and a half unloading all Baby Olivers luggage from the car. It was amazing, I have never known anything so small have so much luggage. It actually motivated me to create a formula. Unfortunately I cannot write the formula in summation notation because the facility does not exist in blogs, but basically;

Volume of luggage is inversely proportional to size of child. Basically, the smaller a person is, the more crap needs to be hauled around with them. Einstein, watch your back!

Pic. No. 1 From left - Chris, Baby Oliver being cute, and Poops Cooper

Babies are clever little suckers though. They know that they are high maintenance, yeh? But they strategically make you not care about this fact by being cute. Babies beware - I have cottoned onto your game!

Pic. No. 1 From left - Steve W, Izzy W, Poops and Oliver, Chris in my kitchen

After a chilled afternoon in the garden, Steve W turned up with Izzy and we all decided to do 'something'.

"How about a nice walk to the Talkhouse in Stanton St John? The weather is fantastic" I suggested.

"A pub?" Chris asked.

"Yep." I replied.

"We haven't been to a pub in four and a half months," Chris and Andy echoed together.

"Let's go then. You have to keep practising vices otherwise you lose the skill," I said.

Pic. No. 2 Chris (left) and Poops Cooper

A short walk later and the new parents sat down, ordered a pint of lager and a small glass of wine and then proceeded to stare at them as though they were alien objects. I let them ease themselves in gently whilst me and my date, Baby Oliver went off exploring the lovely pub garden and touching all the flowers.

As then, as if to punish us, the sunshiney sky quickly started darkening until there were black clouds overhead .

"Uh oh," I said, "that looks ominous," just as the heavens opened and a torrential downpour commenced, along with thunder and lightening brought on by the humid weather.

Luckily, most of the downpour only lasted ten minutes so we were able to get back to my house where Baby Oliver promptly decided to remain enraptured by the whole scene until at least 10.30pm much to the dismay of Chris and Poops, who were hoping to have the use of their arms back at 8pm.

Anyway, I am off to a birthday party tomorrow which sounds fun. I will let you know how it goes.

Friday, 26 June 2009

There's a dead person in my garden

The garden in my new house was a bit of a mess when I moved in a couple of months ago, so I decided to pay Steve W to do some work on it to tidy it up a bit, and he turned up this morning ready to get going.

It was all going swimmingly until my mobile phone started ringing with the screen flashing 'Steve W'.

"Hi there, how are you getting on?" I asked him

"You have got a dead geezer called Bill in your back garden," Steve replied.

"Are you having a laugh?" I asked.

"Nope," he replied.

"Oh bloody hell, that's the last thing I need. I will sort it out when I get home," I answered, ringing off and not thinking anything of it until I drove home with Juan.

I arrived at home and Steve W was waving at me from the garden.

"Over here!" he yoo-hooed enthusiastically.

Juan and I walked over and sure enough, there was a gravestone, properly carved with the words "Bill. Died 1956."

"That's probably someone's dog," I replied.

Juan and Steve both turned and looked at me incredulously, "who," Juan paused (speaking for them both) ........... "calls their dog Bill? It's like calling your dog Dave. People just don't choose that name for pets." I had to acquiesce slightly in light of their logic and also because the gravestone seemed a bit of an overkill for a mutt.

After some 'Twilight Zone' impressions (doo-di-doo-doo, doo-di-doo-doo), we all came to the conclusion that I had a dead bloke called Bill buried in my garden. Who killed Bill? And why is he buried in my garden? I now have lots of questions with no answers which could form the basis of an ITV drama series.

I digress, has anyone else found dead people in their garden or is it just me? (Hey, that could be a good topic for dinner party conversation!).

Disaster and desertion Part 2

"What's that sound?" I asked Juan this Friday afternoon, upon hearing a gentle 'swishing' noise.

"That," replied Juan, "is the sound of tumbleweed".

Yep, EVERYONE had deserted Baumhaus and left just Juan, Naughty George and myself to try and keep everything together. Never fear, we were like Atlas, the second god of the Titans who was tasked with keeping the heavens in the sky [now that is a crap job] before he started a fight with Zeus ....... well kind of. Maybe I overstated our achievements just a tad.

So where is everyone? I hear you asking. Well hear goes; Becky and Hazel have gone to London to watch The Killers perform live in Hyde Park; Phil has flown off to the Mediterranean for some more sailing; and Steve W is working in my back garden. It is like the Marie-Celeste.

Just to prove the fact, look at this - an empty office with Juan trying (up close) to read from a sheet of paper because he has lost his glasses. Normally, you can hardly move in there with people coming and going.

Even Naughty George looks all forlorn and lost.

I shouted to Juan, "you aren't working fast enough," and all I got back was an echo........

Disaster and desertion Part 1

This week at Baumhaus has been dogged with disaster and desertion. It all started on Monday when Juan turned up looking freakily-different and announced that he had lost his glasses.

"No probs," I said, "I will drive you home to get your spare pair."

"I haven't got a spare pair," he replied forlornly, and picked up the phone only to be told by the optician that a new pair would take a week to prepare, if they 'rushed' them through. It is a good job that Specsavers' principle of 'rushing' isn't applied to other areas of daily life, such as ambulance response times and fast food restaurant service.

"You complete wombat," I chastised, and he hung his head in shame. The upside to the story is that he has been working all week on his computer with the monitor comedy-close to his face. Let's put it this way, he had to clean the nose imprint off the screen and I have been calling him 'mole'. It has kept me amused almost all week.

Also on Monday, Hazel got a call from her son's school saying that he wasn't feeling well. An emergency trip to the doctors later, and it transpired that the poor chap had appendicitus and was admitted to hospital immediately, which meant that Hazel was out most of the week feeding Jake grapes and mopping his fevered brow.

We struggled through to Wednesday when I commented to Phil, "blimey, is the world falling down around our ears?" just as my mobile started ringing. The screen flashed 'Dawn, Wicked Stepmama,' with each ring.

I picked it up, "Hiya WSM, how are you doing?"

"We are having a bit of a nightmare," she said, "we are still sailing in the mediterranean, but we had to change our plans to incorporate a long sea crossing over to Sicily, and because there is only two of us, we need another crew member to help with night-watches. The only thing is, we need someone for 10 days from the day after tomorrow."

The window of opportunity presented itself immediately, "I will send Phil over," I said.

"Oh that's fabulous," said WSM, "I will pay for the flights, obviously."

But I wanted to be sure that I was definitely getting rid of Phil for ten days; "No, don't worry, I will get them."

"That's great," she replied, "speak to you soon!"

I booked the flights (on easyJet obviously, I don't want Phil getting too comfortable), and then shouted, "Phil you are off to the Med again for 10 days."

"Ok cool," he shouted.

"They day after tomorrow," I shouted back.

"Nice one," he said, and so everything was sorted.

Just as I thought everything was righting itself, Becks and Juan returned from their training course in Coventry on Thursday afternoon.

"Bloody hell," I heard Juan curse. "I have left my washbag in the hotel room."

"You complete numpty!" Becks retorted sympathetically.

"It's working 'ere," replied Juan, "I never did anything stupid before I started working 'ere."

It is National Numpty Week.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

How many laptops?

Today was very peaceful because Juan and Becks were out on a training course - Something to do with optimising our warehouse systems. All I know is that we had to fork out on a very expensive hotel with free wi-fi, a leisure centre and swimming pool.

"Surely these things aren't a necessary part of warehouse optimisation?" I queried as the scamps presented me with their expense claims.

"It's the only hotel within 70 miles of the training course," they assured me.

"I thought that the course was in Coventry?" I replied.

"Coventry is very primitive," Becks said and Juan nodded vigorously.

"Ok then," I said, begrudingly signing off the forms, "it's not like the good old days though. Employees then were treated as expendable commodities, and rightly so. There was none of this 4 star hotel milarky, training courses, equal opportunities and employee rights nonsense."

Before I could continue my soliloquy, a chap from Fedex waltzed into the office and dropped a big parcel on my desk.

"Can you sign for this love?" he asked and before I could protest about the 'love' bit, he had picked up Phil's new iPhone, asking "any good mate?"

I tutted, signed for the parcel and handed it back to Fedex-man (sounds like a superhero name) who was now admiring the new software that Phil had downloaded onto his phone giving it a guitar fret that he could strum. Saddos.

I rolled my eyes, and then realised that I had a Skype call coming in from Andy (our IT Director) who is based in Australia.

"G'day sport!" he said when I answered the call (ok I embellished that bit - he is actually English).

"Alright Dingo, what can I do for you?" I asked.

"I decided that you have to get rid of that crappy Sony Vaio laptop and get something decent," he replied, "you should have had a parcel arrive today."

I turned and looked at the parcel on my desk that Fedex-Man had just dropped off. How lucky is that?

"Yep, it is here on my desk," I replied, "let me open it." Out came the scissors and after half an hour of cutting, ripping and snapping polystyrene, the box finally disgorged not one, but THREE laptops.

"Have you got them?" asked Dingo excitedly

"Ummmmm...... yes, I appear to have three Breeze Blocks with 'IBM' stamped on the side. They are that thick that I will need a step to be able to see the keyboard," I laughed, and then Phil joined in; "we could use them as pallets!" he said.

I replied, "Phil you are going on holiday again tomorrow, beware if you take one of these because EasyJet charge £8.00 for items that weigh more than 20kg!" and we both fell around laughing again.

Dingo, (like all computer geeks) sounded bemused, "these machines are IBM T61 Thinkpads. They are the Rolls Royce of laptops and they cost at least £1500.00 each. They are designed for serious business use"

"You are kidding me?" I asked. Then Phil piped up, "I would rather be shallow and have a good-looking cardboard cut-out than that brick."

"You are bloody useless," Dingo sighed, exasperated. I will just configure them and send them over.

"Thanks!" we shouted back.

"Owww. Phil. Help me! An IBM T61 laptop has fallen on me and I am pinned to the floor!"

[irritatingly enough, not 3 hours after berating the IBM laptops, my piece-of-crap Sony Vaio failed to boot up when I got home and (yet again) I had to go through all the start-up repair, diagnostics etc. NEVER buy a Sony Vaio]

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

A quiet Sunday to myself - as if!

What, with everyone departed after yesterday's barbeque, I got up early on Sunday and thought 'crikey,' I have a whole day to myself to do all those jobs that I keep putting off'. You will definitely know the type of jobs, because you probably put them off yourself, but my first one was sorting out my front garden because it was covered in weeds.

As you can see if you look behind Naughty George, I had weeds growing in a circular configuration all around my front garden, and my task (whether I chose to accept it or not) was to pull them all out and create a flower bed under the front left hand window. I had just filled my first bucket-full of weeds when a car pulled up and the passenger door opened spewing a foetally positioned Sam McD onto the pavement.

Phil got out of the drivers seat just as I asked, "blimey is he ok?"

"Too much champagne last night," Phil laughed and helped Sam to my garden gate where he clung on for a while and and then started looking better. [note to self: Sam still managed to look stylish even under adverse circumstances].

I would have just continued with my gardening, but then another car pulled up containing Juan and Steve Steward and Steve W.

"Hiya!" they shouted, " we were just passing and we thought we would pop in for a brew and dismantle Steve Steward's tent." When in reality, they spent most of the time gossiping and hanging off my gate, the tinkers.

Just as I got back to my weeding, my lovely next-door-neighbours popped up, "ah Anne! you are here!" they hailed me over the front fence (they are German by origin, hence the different accent), "please come next door, we have things to show you."

Christina and Little Izzy Wainwright

I followed Ralph and Renate cautiously next door, not knowing what to expect and then all of a sudden I saw the reason for the excitement ......... they had bought loads of chickens. Not the ones that are shrink-wrapped in Asda, but the ones that have feathers and walk around going 'cluck, cluck'.

I ran home, and dragged little Izzy Wainwright over because I knew she would love feeding them, and spent the next 40 minutes learning interesting facts about chickens, including; (1) they cost £14.00 each to buy; (2) they lay approximately 260 eggs a year each; (3) they live for between 4-6 years; (4) free range eggs taste more 'meaty' and you eat less of them before feeling full; (5) chickens can be quite territorial and if you add new chickens to a run, the older chickens will try and pull their feathers out; and (6) they pull all the grass out and eat it.

Ralph and Renate gave me two eggs from their chickens, and I ate them and they were absolutely superbly tasty.

Finally, after all the chaps had departed back home, I tried to squeeze a walk for Naughty George in. As I passed Lorraine's menage (she is one of the lovely people in the village), I heard Becks shout out, "eh up! how you doing?"

I turned to find Becks riding a horse in the field right next to me.

"What the blazes are you doing here?" I shouted.

"I am doing some jumping with Roxy [the horse]", she shouted back even though she had parked the dobbin right next to me.

It was good fun watching Becks doing jumping, but then I realised that I had to get back home and finish my gardening...... which I did......only thing is........ the 'before' picture is at the top of this posting and the 'after' pictures have been taken at night so that you can hardly see anything.

My new flower bed looks really spindly. But at least there are no weeds.

Even at night, the flower bed still does not look substantial. Bummer. That took ages to do.

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Phil's birthday barbeque

I knew it was going to be one of those days when Phil rung me to say that he was picking me up at 9.30am so that we could go into work and ......... uh hum....... configure our Microsoft Exchange SBS server. I know that it makes me sound truly geeky, but rest assured, before I arrived at work I didn't even know we had one, let alone how to configure it (you can see that this is going to go well!). Apparently, if we get Exchange working, we can send and receive our own emails rather than paying a third party to do it.

The 'configuration' ended in us admitting defeat and watching three hours of online tutorials about domains, routing groups and server security. I have never known boredom on such a monumental scale. When it finally ended, Phil and I ran into the main office and did a victory dance, which unfortunately ended in me biting a chunk out of my tongue. Blimey, I haven't done that for years and had forgotten how much it hurt.

When I finally left work, I felt like Papillon when he escaped after years of hard labour.

"I'm free!" I shouted punching the air and heading for the car so that I could go and pick up Becky. We had decided that we were going to the Forest Hill Fete in the village where we live.

The fete was like something out of Miss Marple in that it was held in someone's (somewhat large) back garden, and had attractions like a tombola, a raffle where the tickets were 10p for five, and a homemade cake stand. It was fabulous. After an hour of perusing, Becks and I left with our booty - Becks had a fairy cake with four smarties on the top and a 10p raffle ticket to win a bottle of wine, and I had procured two ducks for my bath which lit up when they touched the water.

I arrived home, parked up and then stopped dead in my tracks.

"Becky," I said, turning slowly to face her, "is it me, or does it look like someone has set up base camp in my back garden?"

Pic. No. 1 Someone pitched a random tent in my back garden

"Blimey, yes it does. Who's tent is that?" she asked.

"I don't know," I replied, "but I am fairly sure that it wasn't there when I left."

"Weird." Becks answered, and added "by the way we need to go to the supermarket to get food in for Phil's birthday barbeque."

"Let's go!" I shouted, even though Becks was standing next to me.

In double quick time we did the rounds of Tesco, and brought the barbeque stuff back to my house. At which point it became apparent who the tent belonged to, because a big hairy alsation dog was slinking around my garden looking like it was going to kill me if I dared try and enter my own front door.

"Steve Steward!" I shouted, "have you set up camp in my garden?"

The tent opened and out popped the very same Steve Steward.

"Eh bloody 'ell, yerr back," he replied in his dulcet northern tones, "tek yerr bloody time why don't yerr."

"And hello to you too, my little northern pigeon. I take it you are here for Phil's birthday barbeque?" I asked.

"Bloody right I am," he shouted, "and I've brought Sam McDevitt too." At which point, Becky's lovely brother also emerged from the tent.

"Hiya!!!!" he said chirpily and went round kissing everyone enthusiastically.

It was all looking great for a while until I heard a big kerfuffle in the back garden, with someone shouting "George has caught a rat!" (an occupational hazard when you live in the countryside next to a farm). I ran outside to try and save aforementioned rat, but it was too late and Naughty George was running around with it in his mouth. That would have been an end to it, except for the fact that there was also an over-enthusiastic Alsation (called Jay) in the garden who decided he was suddenly very interested in Naughty George's latest 'toy'.

That was it, once Naughty George (being true to his name) had discovered Jay's interest in his dead rat, he immediately decided that attack was the best form of defence and launched himself at his opponent. A god-almighty dog fight ensued, and Steve Steward had to throw water on them to stop them fighting. It was awful, and poor Naughty George sustained an injury to his leg which was bleeding horribly.

Luckily, Becks has a part-time job as an 'animal saviour', and she cleaned up his injury and put a bandage on so that it healed properly.

Pic. No. 2 Naughty George with a bandage on his injured leg (p.s. don't worry. I know he is lying on a Laura Ashley rug, but I made sure no blood got on it)

Pic. No. 3 The rat-nabbing alsation, Jay. He looks amazingly unrepentent and on top of that malted 6 tons of fur on my Marks and Spencer rug.

Pic. No. 4 Barbeque with (clockwise from left) Phil's back, Sam McDevitt, Steve Steward, Alistair, Lorraine, and Becks

Finally, after the dead rats, dog fights and tent squatters, Becks and I managed to get the food prepared and the barbeque stoked up. On top of the chaps above, Steve W. and little Izzy also made an appearance, and Ali (the landlady of the White Horse) sent a birthday cake over for Phil that she had decorated.

Despite the fact that we had quite a feast (halloumi and chilli kebabs, and lemon and lime cous cous with roasted mediterranean vegetables to name but a couple - yes Clare! I have nicked one of your recipes again!), I unfortunately strugged to partake due to aforementioned tongue injury incurred after a bout of vigorous dancing.

The sun went down and we lit up the gazebo with candles before deciding it was time to present Phil with his birthday cake. Becks lit the candles, and I stood by with a fire extinguisher to the ready whilst everyone sang the most basic of songs - 'Happy birthday to you!' - inserting 'you look like a squashed tomato' at the relevant line.

The sheer number of candles pretty much decimated the cake, and what the candles couldn't finish, the guests did. After which everyone decided to go to the local to say hello to Tarquin, Ali and Anwar.

Now above is a picture of the White Horse taken from the top of my drive. Yes, I bally well know how to select a house that is 'well positioned'.

And here is Becks, Sam, Steve and Phil 10 seconds later entering aforementioned watering hole.

From left to right, we have; Tarquin, random bloke with wonky eye who joined in, Sam McD, Phil, and Steve Steward with a light-up duck in his mouth. The birthday celebrations got quite excitable and culminated in Sam making my two light-up ducks kiss whilst singing a brilliant rendition of 'love boat'.

Sam - you promised to send me that video............. if you don't, I will tell everyone you are a lawyer!!

Friday, 19 June 2009

I have got stalkers

I don't know about you, but I have always been a bit jealous of these celebrities who managed to acquire their own stalker. Then comes the feeling of inadequacy that arises because I am not interesting enough to be relentlessly pursued by a psychopath.

Well, that all changed for me today. There I was, walking Naughty George through a large field, when I had the feeling that I was being watched. I stopped, turned round and observed nothing but cows grazing placidly.

I continued walking but couldn't shake the feeling of being watched, so stopped and turned again only this time, the cows had moved.

"Blimey Naughty George," I asked, "does it look like those cows are following me?"

'I am starting to imagine things', I thought to myself, 'I have been living on my own in the countryside too long,' and I carried on walking, until I heard some scuffling coming from behind. I turned again, and was confronted by a whole gang of cows staring at me menacingly.

"Quick Naughty George! Save yourself!" I shouted at my mutt who was staring benignly at the bovines. I made a mad dash for the stile and managed to escape at the very last moment.

As you can see, my cow stalkers just kept on coming until I had a fanclub numbering at least a hundred. My favourite cow stalker is the one with the white stripe down his face and his ears in the air. You can just about make him out at the top of the picture.

This is now my second run-in with the cows of Oxforshire (the first one was when they tried to murder Naughty George). They are just downright weird. [note to self: try and avoid wildlife, it's weird]

New bathroom furniture!

Well, it was back down to earth with a bump after the holiday in Ibiza. Following much protestation, I was frogmarched back into the photo studio and commanded to photograph two rather nice pieces of white bathroom furniture. After trying to run away, and subsequently discovering that I was locked in, the only course of action seemed to be to get on with it. Thankfully, by Friday afternoon I had managed to finish all the photographs, upload the products onto our website and send out the 'New Product Release' email:

Hello there,

How are you doing? I hope business is going well even though we are in the quiet season, only another 2 and a half months before silly season starts again!

You will be pleased to know that I have got four new goodies for you. Here goes:

  1. Two new designs for your website!

After weeks of me being chained to the photo-studio and surviving on dry bread and water, two new products are finally ready for release. They are a CWR19A (tall bathroom cabinet) and CWR19B (small bathroom cabinet).

You see that green plant thing with white flowers on it in the picture below? Buying that was Phil’s idea, and he thinks that he is some kind of Terence Conran designer-type now, and is walking with a bit of a swagger. Step away from the photo-studio northerner.

  1. A set of totally new images for the Hampton range

You see, I look after you, I do! In order to boost your sales of the white range, we revamped all the accessories and did completely new images. So with all that extra profit, you can treat yourself to a weekend at the whippet racing. See you there – my money is on Larry Legs who is allegedly the fastest whippet in the whole North West.

By the way, if you want to view all the new images, do CTRL+Click on the picture above (the .pdf catalogue will then open in your internet browser, but give it a while to load up). You can then download as many high resolution pictures from our server as you want by clicking on the links above the pictures. Or you can just download images from our website as usual.

  1. We are working on two secret squirrel new ranges

Yes, you heard right. Prototypes for TWO new ranges are currently going through production. I shouldn’t be telling you what they are, but if you promise not to tell anyone………… ok here goes – a painted Children’s range, and a classic mahogany range. It’s so exciting! Watch this space, and I will keep you updated.

  1. Lots of stock

After Christmas we decided to ramp up our stock levels considerably as you have probably noticed on the website. For the last few months, Phil and I have been living on Baked Beans, and Naughty George has been eating coal whilst we invested every last penny in increased stock. It is all looking much better, and just as we were about to breathe a sigh of relief, we realised that we now need to start ramping up again for Christmas. Tin of beans anyone?

That’s me done, drop me a line if you need anything else.

Warm regards


P.S. Juan (aka Joe) sunburnt his face when he went surfing in Bournemouth last weekend and looks like he is permanently embarrassed. Please don't tease him by calling him Beetroot chops or simlar.

After working my socks off this week, I was looking forward to a quiet weekend, and then I realised that I had promised to go in with Phil on Saturday morning to set up a Microsoft Exchange server. Rock and roll baby!

Back to Blighty please Easyjet

And then, as quickly as it had started, our time in Ibiza ended. After all the excitement of snorkelling, sailing, sling-shotting and other things beginning with 's', we were finally back on our way back home.

"Hang on!" Phil shouted, " we are an hour early for our flight because I didn't adjust the time on my phone when we arrived. Shall we stop off for a beer?"

"Abso-bloody-lutely," hollered Becks, pointing to an interesting looking Moroccan bar next to the harbour.

Pic. No. 1 Becks tried to manipulate my Karma in the Bedouin tent

It was a really great place with all the tables and sofa-type things situated inside Bedouin-like tents and backing onto the sea. Unfortunately, we only had an hour before we had to leave for the airport and once again, we were squeezed, shoved and pushed into the back of the manky Nissan Micra, with the luggage on our laps because the boot lock had failed.

Thirty five minutes later, we arrived at the airport and we were so wedged into the Micra that both 'door-side' passengers (i.e. Becks and I) fell onto the pavement once the doors were opened. It was not dignified.

We checked in, disposed of our luggage, and then spent an hour in the departure lounge watching all the other Easyjet customers fighting with airport staff because their flights were delayed by MEGA (i.e. 6 plus) hours.

Luckily, ours was the only Easyjet aircraft on-time, so we took our seats, put our heads down and hoped for the best. Someone was looking over us because we took off on time and the Airbus A319 (yes I am still an aerospace geek) cruised towards Luton.

By now it was getting on towards midnight, and Phil and Becks were starting to look like they were flagging, so I stopped taking pictures of them, and concentrated on the Easyjet cabin crew.
Blimey, they were wearing so much orange polyester that I feared that the static they generated could interfere with the flight controls.

I raised the issue with one of the cabin crew and suggested that they are all issued with earthing straps.

"Could you please take your seat, and we will look into the issue of static electricity," she replied in a nasal Dudley accent. But somehow, I don't think those crew are going to be wearing cotton anytime soon.

I am flagging now..... but I managed to get a picture of our Easyjet A319 Airbus on the apron as I disembarked the aircraft.

My final effort is a pic of Becks making her way to baggage reclaim at 4am. Crikey, this is a late night even for me..... and I am night owl. I am now too officially exhausted to lift my camera out of the case.

You will be pleased to know that we all got home at about 5.30am in the morning. UGH.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Ibiza - the old town is good

Prior to going to Ibiza, at least a million people told me that I should try and visit Old Ibiza town.

"Why is that then?" I asked.

"Because it is old," they mainly replied.

If I extended that logic, it would mean that I should visit Phil more often because he is old, but luckily I didn't let that thought put me off Old Ibiza town.

After the joys of Portinatx, we were all shoe-horned back into the Nissa Micra (the air conditioning still only reached as far as the driver's hands, so all other passengers slowly cooked), and half an hour later arrived at Ibiza.

"It doesn't look that old to me," piped up Becks as Pops reversed into a parking space next to a multi-storey carpark.

"Stop being negative, Chip" I said, "and enjoy the architecture." After a couple of minutes of Becky admiring the multi-storey carpark, I suddenly spotted a big castle type structure behind the main street. Oops, that looked suspiciously like it could be an 'Old Town'.

"Follow me!" I shouted, trying to divert attention from the multi-storey carpark, and off I yomped in the direction of aforementioned, castley thing.

Wow! How impressive is Ibiza old town? It is like Mont St Michel, except that it is not in France or surrounded by water. It is a walled and fortified town, built on a steep hill with tiny, twisting lanes and higgledy piggledy houses dating back to the 1400s. I tried to capture what it is like, but you have to go there because the photographs do not do it justice. Here goes:

Pic. No. 1 Bloke playing the guitar in a courtyard

Pic. No. 2 Old Ibiza villa with pink flowers on it (That top balcony is perfect for recreating that 'life of Brian' scene!)

Pic. No. 3 Twisty Ibiza lane. Those tiles were really slippery and Phil fell over and sustained a flip flop injury on his toe.

Pic. No. 4 There was a dog under that bench on the left, and it had just eaten a fish and chip supper, the remains of which are still next to the bench.

Pic. No. 5 A cat chomping on some wildlife (probably a gecko) under a pink flower

Pic. No. 6 The view from the top of the hill where the Cathedral was

Finally, we left Ibiza Old Town and decided to go and look at the harbour after spotting some impressive looking boats from the top of the hill.

Pic. No. 7 Look at these suckers!

Wow. These yachts were seriously impressive. Each one had at least three stories and cost at least £20 million. It is difficult to see it in the photographs, but they were seriously huge.

"Do you think the chap who owns that has a girlfriend?" I asked Phil as we passed the largest Gin Palace of all.

He wrinkled his nose and looked at me with puzzlement, "Like he would go out with you?"

"Hey be careful you," I replied, "I am like a delicate flower and you could knock my self -confidence." At which point Phil nearly fell over laughing in sympathy.

After the harbour tour, we left old Ibiza and drove back to the tub to pick up our bags so that we could head off back to the airport and back to Blighty.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Picturesque Portinatx picks a peck of pickled pepper

Oh no. Today is the last day of our long weekend in Ibiza, and after the aborted Portinatx sailing attempt yesterday, Pops was unusually adament that it still remained a place to visit.

"Is it that good?" I asked sceptically.

"It's like a Caribbean Island," he replied, "in fact, I am going to hire a car and take you there."

Unfortunately, his choice of car, although cheap, wasn't capacious. He selected a blooming Nissan Micra, and Becks, Phil (six feet tall), and I had to squeeze into the back seat. On top of that, the air conditioning was weaker than an asthmatic's pant and the clutch was vicious which made me nervous because Becks is prone to motion sickness. [Note to self. Don't ever buy a Nissan Micra, they are the car equivalent of 'everything's a pound' shops]

We drove up mountains, down moutains, round twisting roads, through olive and fig groves, and past rural farms until we finally dropped down into the bay of Portinatx.

"Blimey, that is a-mazing!" I shouted, even though Pops was only in front of me in the driving seat. [note; if something is particularly good, you have to separate the 'a' from the 'mazing' for added emphasis].

The water was so clear that it was like tap water (except that it had jellyfish in it), and it only got better. There was a beach company that offered 'sumo' rides. Basically, victims donned a football-shaped inflatable costume which only their head, arms and legs poked out, and then they are dragged round the bay by a speedboat. How humiliating. Perfect for British tourists though.

Luckily we arrived in Portinatx in time for lunch.

"Food anyone?" I enquired

"Good grief, you must spend more on eating out than anyone else I know," noted Pops incredulously.

"Yep, I can't argue with that," I replied, "but if I am paying, who is whingeing?"

Pops quickly acquiesced, and the next thing we were sitting in an a-mazing (see what I did there!) restaurant overlooking the sea, when my phone bleeped to let me know I had a text message. It was Andy (the other Director of Baumhaus), so I took a picture of everyone waving to say hello and texted it back to him. I received a perplexing message back;

"Phil looks like a homo pigeon in those flip flops." Eh? Is it me?

Pops was correct though, Portinatx is well worth visiting. [subliminal advertising: go there.... yes do. It's great. you will love's like the Caribbean....and you are feeling sleepy]

Oh before I go, after we left Portinatx, we visited Ibiza Old Town which was absolutely fantastic. I am supposed to do that installment tomorrow, so nag me if I haven't. I am so behind because I didn't have internet access for so long.

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