Monday, 28 February 2011

Bet you wish you had a picture of yourself as a baby feeding next to a rhino

Blimey, I'm just recovering from a bit of a houseful, what with my cousin Jane, her newborn son Mitchell, and a chum coming to stay for the weekend.

And because I am kind like Gandhi (except with more hair, and fewer sheets), I had a treat in store for them. Before you say anything, yes I know! I am getting a bit like Paris Hilton with my hostess skills (except that I don't snog any old bloke just because they play basketball). Here goes........

Pic.No.1 "Hang on a minute, is that your Cousin Jane feeding her baby with a rhinoceros in the background?" I hear you cry

And the answer to that, is; 'yes it bloody well is!' How cool a hostess am I? How many of you can boast that you have a baby picture showing you being fed with a rhinoceros? [takes a bow]. I just wanted to give something special to my little nephew.

'So where did you get the bloody rhinoceros from?' I hear you cry perplexedly.

Well, to be honest, I guessed that it might be almost impossible to get a rhinoceros delivered to my house in Forest Hill, so I thought 'if the mountain won't come to Mohammed, Mohammed must go to the mountain', the mountain in this case being the 'Cotswolds Wildlife Park'.

So that's where we all bally well went, and it was great fun being at one with nature like Steve Irwin (except we were more alive). 

Pic.No.2 Another picture of rhinoceroses (is that correct plural?). I don't know what all the fuss is about, they look like small elephants with a horn instead of a trunk

Pic.No.3 Izzy jumped in all the puddles and got covered from head to toe in mud and looked a bit like a savage. And passers-by stared at me like I was a bad Mum. Good job I'm not the sensitive sort

After the excitement of the rhinos, I turned to Izzy and said, "so Iz, what animal would you really like to see?"

In less than a heartbeat, she answered, "a giraffe."

"Are you sure? They are only spotty horses with long necks," I said.

"Yes," she responded, nodding firmly.

So we all tramped to the giraffe hut, and as soon as we entered, it became clear that there was a bit of a design flaw with the viewing area.

Pic.No.4 If you like giraffe legs, you would be in your element here

After studying the giraffe legs for several minutes and banging on the window in order to try and get them to bend down and look at us (we failed), we decided to go to the 'big cat' area, and as luck would have it we were immediately approached by one of the feline predators. Result! 

Pic.No.5  A spotty tiger-like thing

It seemed to be hotting up on the animal front, so it was with bated breath that we headed for the last animal of the day ...... a camel. On the way there we passed this.........

Pic.No.6 A large sack with a sign saying 'Hibernating Bananas'

What the bloody hell is that all about then? Have bananas evolved into a basic life form and I missed it? Anyway, we eventually arrived at the camel. 

Izzy climbed up the fence to look at it with a rapt expression on her face.

"Wow, look at that mum!" she gasped. 

"It's only a furry horse with some bumps on its back," I informed her.

Pic.No.7 A camel. Crikey O'Reilly they smell worse than Naughty George

Despite my explanation, she did seem quite taken with it. At this rate she might end up being a vet when she grows up, which will be a bummer because I need an accountant.

After all the excitement of mingling with the wildlife, we headed back to my house to give Mitchell a quick diaper change and feed, before heading out to a local pub for dinner.

Pic.No.8 I trained Izzy to feed Mitchell so that I could extend my 'me time'. Yep, I am so cunning that you could pin a tail on me and call me a fox

We decided to eat out at a local pub called 'The Star' in the neighbouring village of Stanton St John which has a reputation for enormous portions (even though enormous portions put me off eating).

Pic.No.9 Jane in the pub chatting to chum (oops I accidentally cut her face off but not in real life though). You can see Izzy's new toy 'Husky' sitting in the middle of the table amidst the wine debris)

Pic.No.10 Looking at all that wildlife had made me feel hungry, so I ordered steak with mashed potato. It was bigger than my head

So all in all, we had a rather marvellous weekend. And as Jane, Mitchell and chum were leaving late on Sunday afternoon, I suddenly remembered that I had arranged to meet a chum from the village for drinks at 7pm. No rest for the wicked eh?!

P.S. So, what have you been up to this weekend?

Sunday, 27 February 2011

You may call me a geek, but you sneakily like it ...... probably

*Note - this post was written last Friday but I forgot to publish it because Naughty George distracted me by nicking some ham off the kitchen worktop.*

There were two events that happened this week which form the basis of today's post; (1) I got a new camera - a Canon Powershot S95; and (2) my repaired iPhone was returned to me. 

So as you can probably appreciate, there was only one way I could while away the day. Yep (and you are gonna like this one), I decided to wonder around the village like the littlest hobo (except that I don't have paws), taking two photographs of the same scene, first with my iPhone and then with my S95 to see what the differences were. 

I had just finished taking my first shots of the local pub, and was about to take my second shots of the local phonebox, when I saw a chum from the village walking down the street towards me.

"Why are you taking pictures of the phonebox?" she asked, before adding, "you look suspicious."

I explained that I was comparing the quality of photographs between the iPhone and the S95. 

"Bloody hell. What a geek," she exclaimed.

"It's not geeky," I said defensively, "it's scientific."

"Yeh, whatever," she replied in an American way, "fancy going for a beer on Sunday evening?"

"Cool yes, I'll see you on Sunday night and show you the difference between my iPhone and S95 pictures," I said. 

"A picture is just a picture to me," she responded, "so I wouldn't worry about it."

Blimey, some people are Luddites. Luckily she didn't put me off my quest, and I forged ahead post-haste. And here are the results......... so without further ado, please let me introduce ...........

iPhone versus Canon Powershot S95

*Please note that the results were FAR more pronounced in high resolution.*

Pic.No.2. The picture of one of my favourite places - the local pub. Taken with my iPhone. Can you see that muddy puddle that Naughty George always walks through before entering the house? Git

Pic.No.3. My local pub. This time taken with my Canon S95. If you view this picture in high resolution and then zoom in, you can see that someone has messed with the pub sign so instead of saying 'White Horse Inn', it says 'White Hore Inn'. I don't know, some people are right wags!

Pic.No.4. A random road with a phonebox in it - taken with my iPhone. This is where I was accosted by the Luddite

Pic.No.5. Same random road and phonebox but taken with my Canon S95. Actually thinking about it, it isn't a very interesting picture so no wonder Luddite thought I looked weird

After wondering through the village, I then made my way to Steve's house to see Izzy (daughter) who had just come back from a skiing holiday in Canada. After a week there, she had become attached at the hip to a stuffed toy husky, imaginatively named, 'Husky'. I am glad that she is turning out to be literal like me. She has two other favourite cuddly toys, one of which is a sheep, whilst the other is a pink teddy, and they are called 'Sheep' and 'Teddy' respectively.

Great naming system. There is never going to be confusion there.

Pic.No.6. A picture of prodigal daughter taken with my iPhone. I know she doesn't have her husky, but somehow I managed to capture her in the only 5 minute period when she didn't have the damn stuffed dog in her hand.

Pic.No.7. The same 'ginger peril' but this time taken with my Canon S95

Pic.No.8. The rock garden that Izzy made, taken with my iPhone. I was quite impressed with her creativity here considering that she still draws people as heads with legs sticking out of them

Pic.No.9. The same rock garden but taken with my Canon (yes those plants in the background are a bit crispy. Not a good adjective to be associated with if you are plant). I also think that there is not much difference between the S95 and the iPhone in these two pictures

After welcoming Izzy back home, I took Steve and her for lunch at The Talkhouse which provided yet more opportunity for me to do some iPhone versus S95 comparisons. Have a sneaky peek .....

Pic.No.10. This is a picture 'The Talkhouse' pub taken with my iPhone. As you can see, in the top left hand corner is one of the iPhone downfalls. The lens is positioned in such a way that in 83.4% of pictures, you accidentally cut the corner of the picture off with your finger. Bloody annoying

Pic.No.11. The Talkhouse pub taken with my S95. This demonstrates how much wider the angle of the lens is. And that is Steve and Izzy on the left hand side of the picture

Pic.No.12 Me and Izzy inside The Talkhouse about to have lunch. This picture was taken by my iPhone and I really like it for reasons that will become obvious when you view the next picture

Pic.No.13 The same shot as above, but taken with my S95. The bloody thing is so good, that I can't hide the bags under my eyes caused by too many late nights. It's an S95 'FAIL'. Oh, and Izzy fell asleep in her dinner ten minutes after this picture was taken.

So, the Canon Powershot S95's notorious ability to perform well in low-light situations isn't necessarily a good thing. Good job I know how to use Photoshop. 

That's me done for today. Do you like my iPhone versus S95 theme? If you do, I might have to indulge in some more of it later down the line. 

P.S. What have you been up to this weekend?

Friday, 25 February 2011

Yesterday was a double whammy of surprises

Blimey, if ever I was going to kill a fatted calf, it would have been yesterday. But luckily I didn't actually have a fatted calf, so the poor (albeit hypothetical,) bastard was saved.

'What the blazes are you going on about?' I hear you cry.

Well, it's simple. I had not one, but TWO prodigal things returned to me yesterday. So, after the excitement of my new Canon Powershot S95 being delivered on Wednesday, it was almost like Christmas. Except that I didn't gorge on fatty food and fall asleep in front of the TV. Or get drunk and have a punch-up with my rellies (relatives).

So without further ado, please let me introduce my 'returnees':

1. My repaired iPhone was delivered

After accidentally killing my iPhone on 13th February, I sent it to the insurance company for repair and expected the worst; months of telephone wrangling and being passed from department to department. But no sirree, I was wronger than a bankers' bonus. I got it back, and over a week early to boot.

Not only that, the repair was excellent, with not a single indication that I had accidentally projectiled the item into the fireplace less than two weeks ago. So credit where credit is due; my insurers, LSG (Lifestyle Group), did a fine job. If they were a boy, I would ask them on a date. But I wouldn't buy them champagne; they weren't that good. Maybe a Chardonnay.

2. My daughter returned from her skiing holiday in Canada

I have only just realised that I have put the return of my daughter secondary to the return of a gadget. I would like to assure you that the returnees are presented in no particular order. Unless there is something subliminal going on in my head, that is. And if that's the case, I am a really bad mother, but I will never be able to prove it purely because it is subliminal. Crikey, this could get complicated.  

Anyway, as you can probably recall, when Izzy first got to Canada, she didn't want to talk to me on the phone, and I had to bribe her by threatening to set fire to her Barbie. But you will be pleased to hear that as the week wore on, and she realised how ridiculous it was strapping planks to her feet and chucking herself down a mountain, and she changed her tune a bit.

Goddamit, she even ended up sending me her first ever email towards the beginning of this week informing me that she was coming home on Thursday and was missing me. Awww......... If I was her, I would miss me too.

Pic.No.1. The Email that Izzy sent me from her skiing holiday in Canada

So when 9.30am Thursday (Yesterday) arrived I was pretty excited to see her and she was pretty excited to see me, which was nice considering she costs a fortune to feed. It makes you begrudge it less.

"I bought you a present with my pocket money," she announced excitedly.

"Cool, can I have it?" I asked beaming with anticipation.

"Here you are," she said, proudly handing me a package.

I unwrapped it and inspected the contents, "awww Izzy, you chose this yourself didn't you?"

"Yes!" she shouted, jumping up and down as pleased as punch. 

Pic.No.2. Izzy's present is a this seasons must-have; a 'Moose Head fridge magnet'

"Thanks Iz, it's bloody great! I love mooses, or moosai or whatever they are collectively called," I gushed (well pleased with my present).

Suddenly the gaiety stopped. "It's not a moose, it's a bear," she stated.

Blimey, I stood corrected. But despite what she said, it was still a big brown furry thing that liked killing humans. They are all much of a muchness and that's why I will never be a botanist.

After a couple of hours listening to Izzy's Canadian holiday exploits, I offered to take her and her dad, (my ex - Steve), for lunch at the local gastropub, 'The Talkhouse'.

After arriving, we ordered our meals and were shown to a table (photos appearing in my next post for reasons which become apparent when you read it).

At the precise moment that Izzy's meal arrived, jet-lag kicked in, and in an instant she dropped face-first towards the table like a stone. I managed to catch her but she was fast asleep. I tried to eat my soup whilst cradling her in my arms, but it is bloody tough when they are five years old and weigh 20 stones (actually, I don't know what she weighs so I made it up).  

"Steve, can you give me a hand?" I asked looking up at him, only to find his head slumped upon his chest because jet-lag had also bitten him like a vampire.

Let's picture the scene: Izzy sound asleep in my arms and Steve nodding off across the table.

Can you imagine how humiliated I was? To an outsider, I must have looked like the most boring dining companion ever.

So I laid Izzy on the floor, finished my soup, paid the bill, and then dragged them back to Steve's house where they both apparently slept until 5pm.

P.S. Have you ever had anyone fall asleep on you whilst dining out?

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

I've got a new camera and it is bloody brilliant.... bring on the Canon S95

Today I nearly choked on my own vomit with excitement. Can you guess why? Yes sirree, my new Canon PowerShot S95 compact digital camera arrived today. GADGET ALERT!

But man alive, before I discuss the gadget itself, I have to say that Amazon's delivery service is total pants.

Firstly, there is no reason in this day and age, for it to take a whole week (Amazon call it '5 working days' to try and make it sound better) to deliver a pocket-sized product. Secondly, the useless bastards just abandoned the parcel outside my front door. The Postman didn't knock, or get my signature, or anything. So my £300 camera was just sat outside my house in full view of every passer-by, for god knows how long. It's just lucky that Forest Hill isn't populated by thieving gits, because Amazon don't insure 'digital products', irrespective of how negligent they have been during the delivery process. So if someone had nicked it, I would have been £300 out of pocket.

Not only that, it was a bloody good job it wasn't raining otherwise the camera would have been ruined because it didn't have any waterproof bag around it.

So, Amazon's poor delivery service aside, what about the gadget itself?

It's bloody brilliant! Far too sophisticated for my talent. It's like dating someone who is much better looking than you. And I couldn't take a picture of the gadget itself because it is the only camera I own. Bummer.

When I got it out of the box though, I was immediately impressed. The case was made from steel, giving it a really solid feel. And it had loads of dial-settings that clunked satisfyingly into place. I didn't know what any of them did though, so I selected 'AUTO' and then looked for things to photograph.

Pic.No.1. This is an ancient antique Buddha that I picked up when I was in Cambodia. His ear fell off last week but I glued it back on. The picture looks quite sharp I think

Pic.No.2. This is a picture of my dining room. Yes, that is Naughty George at the bottom of the picture, honking as usual. The original picture is actually very sharp, it is just that the composition is rubbish. Which is my fault.

Pic.No.3. This is my dinner this evening. It was taken at really low light levels and looks a bit shit and grainy [note to self: need to check settings because S95 is notorious for its ability to perform in low lighting]

Pic.No.4. This is a gratuitous picture of my guest bedroom. I wanted to see how 'wide angle' the camera could be, and it performed perfectly. Huzzar!

Pic.No.5. This is me attempting to take a picture of my new camera

Pic.No.6. And then I ventured outside. And took a picture of a random pile of logs, and some orange trees in the background. It was twilight when the picture was taken, so the camera did really well

Pic.No.7 The sun setting over Oxford in the distance. This picture looks fab in high resolution

So all in all, I have to concur with the online reviews of the Canon PowerShot S95 digital camera. It is bloody brilliant. Tomorrow I am going to play with all the other different settings that it has.

I am so excited that I bet I won't sleep properly.

P.S. What is your favourite gadget?

P.P.S. Robert was right. This camera would not work until I bought an SD card. It has no memory at all and won't work until the SD card is inserted. 

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

An interview with the winner of my caption competition - Nicki Woo

My bloody new camera still hasn't arrived. I could have walked it from Amazon to my house, given the amount of time it has taken. Even worse, I have been nearly puking with anticipation for the last 5 days. Gits. They have given me Gadget Deprivation Syndrome which can be quite serious.

So the downside is that I haven't got any of my own pictures for you. But the upside is that today I am publishing the interview I had with the winner of my caption competition; Nicki Woo (a.k.a. sick puppy, as I like to call her).

I love interviews, I do. It is mainly because I am nosey and like doing things like walking Naughty George at night-time so that I can see inside people windows [note to self: should you really be admitting this in public?].

So without further ado, please may I introduce my interview with the lovely Nicki from the blog 'Nicki Woo - The Home Guru'.

Name:  Nicole T. Woodard ( T stands for Thomas, my maiden name that my husband refused to take as his last name like some modern husbands do. He said it’d be too emasculating.  And I didn’t really want an emasculated husband so I moved my maiden name to my middle name)
 Pic.No.1. The lovely Nicki
Age: Thirty freakin’ five, and proud of it.
Height: 5’9” (really 5’ 8 ½ but I’ve been lying about this fact so long, that I’d like to keep up the charade)
Location: A little city right outside of Houston, TX called League City. We live 20 minutes from the lovely brown beaches of Galveston, TX (they are brown, but in all honesty I love them. Better brown than black I like to say.  Unless it’s referring to skin color. Then I like black just as well as I like brown, and white, and yellow, red, purple, and magenta)
Blog: Nicki Woo – The Home Guru
Significant other: Only one. Warwick, like the singer, Dionne; you may have heard of her. No relation. On my blog he is affectionately referred to as Mr. Woo.  Unless he has offended me, and then I use all three of his given names along with an address of where to find him.
 Pic.No.2. Nicki's significant other - Mr Woo. Look! He's totally hot! Nice one Nicki [fans collar area]
Occupation: Stay at home mummy.
What do you secretly dream about doing for a living?:  WRITING!!!!!!! Did you hear me?????? WRITING I SAY!!!!!  WRITING!!!!!!!!
What are you a self-declared expert at?:  I’m pretty much a jack of all trades. Expert of none. Oh but I can make a mean batch of wine.
What can't you seem to get enough of?:  Harry Potter and ummm. . . . .err. . . .Twilight, and all the fan fiction in between.  Juvenile tendencies anyone?
What kinds of people are you drawn to?:  Kind, Loving, weird, smart people. In that order.
Favorite color: Blue. As in aqua. The color of the ocean when it begins to turn shallow.
Pets: None right now. We did have a pet rat, Diva, a year ago.  Don’t judge.  But she died, and my kiddos are still recovering.  When my  19 month old gets a little older, we’ll get a dog. I tried to bring home a cute little gray kitten last week, but my husband almost had a heart attack. He thinks they are too sneaky. What-ev-r.
 Pic.No.3. This is the rat that Nicki mercilessly slaughtered..... probably
If money was no problem, where would you go on holiday?: Depending on what day you ask that answer would change.  But right now I’d say Disney World and Epcot Center, because its 5 am in the morning, I’m delirious and it would make me the best mother IN THE WORLD to my kids. They’d owe me for life.  Which is what every mother dreams of.  Little people who owe everything to her (and I’d cash it in, don’t think I wouldn’t).
What was your proudest moment?:  Geez.  I don’t know.  The birth of my 4 kids is up there. Though . . . . that last one chewed her way out, so I’m not sure if you can couple pride with sheer terror.  
 Pic.No.4. The baptism of the one that 'chewed her way out'
What's your favorite movie?:  Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.  Hands down, no contest. [You see it has both Harry Potter and Edward (Robert Pattinson from Twilight as Cedric Diggory) this makes this movie the perfect storm in weirdo crazy lady land]
Have you ever lived in other places, if so where?:  My Pops was in the army so this might take awhile.
And Texas
What do you consider your biggest achievement?:  Graduating college with four degrees after a horrible strained divorce on my parents part, followed by my mother being in a tragic car accident wherein she was the pedestrian and got hit by a car and suffered brain damage. SHE’S FINE NOW. NO WORRIES. ALL’S WELL. But at the time it sucked hard, and I still went to class, most of the time. Well. . .some of the time between frolicking at bars and standing on my head.
Ooh. Maybe I should have said something like "raising four beautiful children." Hmmmm. No I think I'll stick with something more self absorbed. 
Pic.No.5. Blimey, that is one handsome family!
What things annoy you?:  Rude and mean behavior.  Not crude, I can totally dig that.  I mean rude, when people say things to others to hurt their feelings or try to make them feel less significant.  I can’t tolerate that.
What hobbies do you have?:  Cooking, Gardening, Reading, Playing sports with my kids, WRITING, and dreaming.
Pic.No.6. Nicki about to play sport with her kids. Maybe I should think about doing more with Izzy, other than chucking her sticks to fetch?
Name the three websites you visit most often (excluding blogs!):
Martha Stewart Living
Have you ever broken any bones (if yes, how?): No, but I did tear my ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) in a bad basketball accident wherein nobody touched me, I just faked myself out, ruptured my knee and had to have surgery. Ick.
What car do you drive?:   A big ‘ol black Yukon XL 2006, I think. It is huge and completely obnoxious, but I have 4 kids and live in Texas, so there you go.
What car would you like if money were no object?: Too many to state. But I think my first purchase would be a Beetle Bug in Harvest Moon Beige and black leather interior. But I haven’t really thought about it too  much.
What character traits annoy you?: I am annoyed with a capital A by people who are domineering, arrogant, conceited, condescending, and pessimistic.  Oddly enough, I can deal with dishonesty.  All liars please apply.
What are you going to do once you have finished this questionnaire?: Pull my underwear out of my butt, eat something and go give my husband a wallop of a kiss.
What are you doing this coming weekend?:  Go to the Sports Park for an Opening Day Baseball carnival. Wave at one of my kids in a parade, and then watch her play softball. Then, my family and I will pack up the car and  take a down to Austin, TX to visit my bestest buddy and her family for the weekend. We’ll come back  a little early so we can drop my oldest daughters science fair project off at the district competition. I’m tired just thinking about it. Thanks a lot.
Please give one random fact about yourself:
I have written and published a book on Catholic Crafts for Children, and consider myself HIGHLY spiritual. However, I may have the naughtiest mouths, and crass humor for one who would like to think of themselves as religious.  I’m a walking contradiction.
Also, I think I'm like 500 times more interesting on paper than I am in real life. Go figure. I think that was like 50 facts. Sorry. I'm also not very good at math. 

Blimey Nicki, you have got FOUR degrees? All achieved whilst going through personal trauma? I might have to change your nickname from 'sick puppy' to 'geek'!

Nah, seriously, thanks for sharing your life with us ...... it's been a blast!

Monday, 21 February 2011

Everything I did this weekend begins with 'C': Chums, Cafe, and Comedy Club

So here I am. It's Sunday night and I am sitting in my warm kitchen listening to Paul O'Grady on the radio. My favourite slot on his show is the 'dead pets' section, where listeners write in with details of how their pets recently departed this planet. It's a bit sick but delivered with alacrity, so that's ok. But it is also totally unrelated to this post.

I've had a bit of a busy one this weekend. A couple of old university friends came to stay; Sarah from 'oop' North, and Timmy from Northampton. You probably already know Sarah, because I spent Christmas with her, but Timmy can sometimes be quite illusive like a badger.

Some interesting facts about Timmy are:

(1) He used to be - until recently - an engine designer for the McLaren Formula 1 racing team. Twice I accompanied him to his work's Christmas parties (very grand affairs), and both times David Coulthard and Mika Hakkinen were there. The pair of them were a lot shorter than I expected, and I touched David Coulthard's trousers which was rather exciting.  

Pic.No.1. For my US readers, here are two pictures of the McLaren Formula 1 racing team. It is a bit like Indy Car except harder because you don't just drive round in circles

(2) My nickname for Timmy is 'Thin David Hasselhoff'. I have included a picture for you below (I nicked it off his facebook page because my super-dooper camera still hasn't arrived), but I have to point out that he looks more like The Hoff when you see him in real life.

Pic.No.2. Timmy (left) and The Hoff. Obviously Timmy is a younger version

'So what the bloody hell did you and your chums get up to?' I hear you cry.

Well, because I am the hostess with the leastess, with my attention to detail generally hovering between mediocrity and neglect, I had forgotten to get any food in for lunch when they arrived.

Thin David Hasselhoff (herein referred to as TDH) called me a 'useless bint', and we ended up going to the Tick Tock cafe in Cowley (a suburb of Oxford) and shovelling all-day-breakfasts down our necks. I could physically see my waist size increasing with each mouthful which was quite disturbing.

Once lunch was over and we were back at my house, it was getting on for 4pm and it was then that I announced my grand plan.

"I have planned a night out for us," I said to my chums, "and you are going to like it, and it is going to redeem me from the fact that I forgot to get food in for lunch.

Timmy and Sarah looked at me in a withering fashion.

"Go on," replied Sarah suspiciously, "what hairbrained scheme have you come up with this time?"

"I have booked us tickets for the Glee Club!" I pronounced, pleased with myself.

"What the bloody hell is the Glee Club?" asked TDH, "please tell me it's not a lapdancing club." (Timmy is weird like that).

"Nope, unfortunately they were fully booked. The Glee Club is a comedy club," I said proudly.

"That's sounds like quite a good idea," Timmy said, with surprise on his face.

"For you," Sarah added. 

"Why thank you," I beamed.

The plan involved us getting a bus into Oxford because we all fancied having a bit of a drink. Not being a fan of buses (I rarely use them because you can't upgrade to Business Class), I wasn't quite sure how they worked.

It started off fine; we paid our £1.60 each, and sat back as the bus started its 20 minute journey to Oxford. But as we neared our destination, things went a bit pear-shaped. Apparently, if you want to get off, you need to press a button which sounds a bell, and subsequently alerts the driver. I didn't know that, and there were no signs about it.

So we ended missing our stop, with me shouting, "we needed to get off there (pointing to a rapidly vanishing bus-stop out of the back window), how do we get this thing to stop and let us off?"

"Why didn't you press the bell?" asked Sarah with exasperation (she is a bus veteran).

"I didn't know that I had to," I replied, "there's no signs telling me to press a bloomin' bell if I want to get off."

"Bloody useless," Sarah muttered.

So apart from the fact that we accidentally ended up in the wrong part of Oxford, and had to walk a mile or so to the Glee Club (Timmy wasn't happy because he'd pulled a muscle in his thigh and each step was agony, and Sarah had got arthritis in her knees - blimey, it was like taking your Grandparents out), the night went swimmingly. 

I don't know if you have ever been to a comedy club before, but it normally involves three comedians plus a compere, each doing a stand-up slot, and it is a great crack. There are always 'hen' and 'stag' parties there, and this time, the hen party was relatively easy to spot because they were all dressed as nuns. Well either that, or they were real nuns who found the convent a bit boring, which is understandable.

Pic.No.3. This is what it looks like in the Glee Club. This obviously isn't my photograph because I still haven't got a camera, so I nicked it from the internet

As the night drew to a close and we left the Glee Club to get a taxi, TDH looked at me with genuine surprise on his face; "that was a really good night out," he said.

"That's why my super-hero name is night-out woman," I said.

"Who calls you that?" asked TDH.

"No one really, it's a bit self-fashioned thinking about it," I replied.

"Thought so," added Sarah.

Blimey, you just can't get the chums these days.

P.S. So what did you get up to this weekend?

Friday, 18 February 2011

I finally made contact with my daughter in Canada

I got up this morning all excited, hoping that the postman had delivered my Canon Powershot S95. I needn't have got my hopes up because he hadn't. That'll teach me to be a cheapskate then, and not select the 'express delivery' option whilst purchasing online.

It's hard to recover from an anti-climax like that, but then something happened that instantly cheered me up. My computer was buzzing with the sound of an incoming skype call. It was Izzy, aka The Ginger Peril, ringing from Canada, where she was three days into a skiing holiday with her Dad, Steve.

 Pic.No.1. This is Izzy in the hairdressers before she went on holiday. It is totally unrelated to this post, but my lack of camera has left me short of relevant images

The first voice I heard was Steve's and he was yelling, "Izzy, I've got Mummy on the phone, come and say hello."

Then I heard Izzy's voice in the background; "no, I don't want to." So much for missing my apron strings. That's kids today for you. They are ingratiates. And when they grow up, they mug people and daub graffiti on things.

"IZZY!" I shouted into skype, "I command you to come and talk to me, or I will set fire to your Barbie."

My gentle coaxing worked because the next thing I know, I heard a begrudging, "hello?" on the other end of the call.  

"Are you having a good time my lovely?" I asked.

"Yes," she replied tersely.

"I am missing you," I said.

"Can I go and watch TV now?" she queried.

"Not until you say that you miss me," I said.

"I miss you. Bye." And then the line went dead. Ah! Isn't it heartwarming to be appreciated by your offspring?

I turned to Naughty George, "today hasn't started well," I said as he belched at me blankly. Blimey, I must have been really bad in a previous life.

 Pic.No.2. Another random and totally unrelated picture of me impersonating a liony-type thing

The rest of the day didn't get much better to be honest.

I have got some old University chums coming for the weekend and I had to clean my house so that it didn't look like it was occupied by a squatter. As a result, I spent most of the afternoon with a bog-brush in my hand, bent over some toilet or other, and breathing in bleach fumes (great for getting rid of nose hair which I don't have, obv).

And then I hoovered up 11 spiders which lived in the corners of various rooms. As an experiment, I also tried to see if I could suck up Naughty George, but he wouldn't fit through the nozzle. Afterwards I felt like a bit of a bastard, and was glad that I wasn't married to a Buddhist.

Anyway, I have gotta go, my first chum has just arrived.

P.S. What are you up to this weekend?

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Forums? What are they good for? Absolutely everything!

I am going to tell you something that I have realised over the last week; it is quite challenging doing a photo-blog without a camera of any sort. Even with my 'can do' attitude, I must admit I'm struggling a bit after killing my iPhone. 

So today I was thinking to myself, 'look gal, there's only so long that you can sustain a photo-blog that is based on nicking other people's internet images.'

'Good point, well made,' I replied to myself. And at that moment, I decided that I needed to splash out on an emergency gadget. 

Pic.No.1. An example of a picture that I nicked. It's from one of my favourite websites: 'I hate my'

To be honest, it wasn't just need that spurred me on to purchasing a new camera. A couple of days ago, I had been talking to my chum Clare on Skype, and she was waxing lyrical about a new camera that she had just bought, telling me how good all the photos of her mutt were.

I wasn't happy for her. No sirree. I had gadget envy; I am the Gadget Queen for chrissake. I wanted to reach into Skype and snatch it from her, drive a steam roller over it and then set fire to the remaining crumbs (the only flaw in the plan was that I didn't have a steam roller to hand).

"How much did you pay for it?" I asked through clenched teeth.

"About $120," she had replied chirpily.

So yesterday I started searching for a new camera on the internet. It quickly became clear that I did not have the expertise to understand what I was buying. They were all advertising things like 'ISO settings', 'DSLRs', 'shutter speeds', and to top it off 'circular polarising filters'.

WTF? They were either technical terms, or camera geeks speak 'Klingon'.

So I came up with a brainwave: I would join a 'digital camera forum'.

Tentatively, I set up a user account on the website 'Digital Camera Expert' and posted my first thread.......

Title: I'm a bit of a joey when it comes to cameras, please can you help?

My thread: I know nothing about cameras, but I want to buy a compact digital, and it must cost more than $120.01. And I don't want to bother with any fiddly settings. And it must be bounce-proof. And big enough so that my dog can't eat it. And if it has a good zoom function for spying that would be a bonus. 

It wasn't long before I got a reply.

Siuye (global moderator): Hi, not sure if you noticed, but this is a professional photographers' forum. We don't rate cameras by 'fiddly settings' or their ability to 'bounce'. Also, we don't review cameras in terms of whether they can be eaten by dogs or not. But if you want to buy a camera for more than $120.01, then I recommend the Canon Powershot S95. You can set it to 'automatic' so that all you have to do is press a button. It also has a 28mm wide angle lens and powerful zoom function, although I can't comment on its effectiveness for spying.

How helpful are those forum guys? I had anticipated that they might be a bit stand-offish...... but I got that wrong...... the Canon Powershot S95 is the puppy then.

 Pic.No.2. I nicked this picture of the Canon Powershot S95 off the internet

So, I have just ordered it from Amazon for £299 with a 2-day delivery, and I am awaiting its arrival with bated breath. I am so excited that I could blow chunks.

Pic.No.3. Another picture that I nicked from ''

P.S. I shall let you know post-haste what my new camera is like when I get it.

P.P.S. What is your favourite gadget? And why do I have a feeling that my gadget-buddy, Brahm, is going to out-gadget me?!

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

And the winner is ..........

Hurray! I had being trying to get hold of my illusive chum, Clare, from the blog 'Yes, His Name is Gary', so that she could judge the caption competition. And yesterday I finally succeeded.

Turns out that she had been catching rays and quaffing cocktails by her Florida pool. And then in order to destress, she went and had her nails done again. Workshy wombat. And in case you were wondering who she is, I have included a photograph for you.

Pic.No.1. Clare with a castle on her head

So we skyped each other, and after much hilarity reading the submitted entries to the caption competition, we finally arrived at the final three (but man alive, it was tougher than a Tesco's steak).

Without further ado, let me announce the finalists (in reverse order because it spins out the tension).

Pic.No.2. The caption competition picture

 Third place; Bad Penny from the blog 'The Hen House'

"Hurry upstairs sweetie the sperm donation donor is here - the only problem is it doesn't come in a test tube like the clinic said "

Second place; Clare Kirwan from the blog 'Broken Biro'

"Hi honey, you're early! Steve from accounts was just showing me how to do 'spreadsheets'!"

But in first place; Nicki Woo from the blog 'The Home Guru' [drumroll sound]

"Lisa's lesbian lover returns home to find dirty dishes in the sink and a paralyzed stiff legged Lisa doing the nasty with a bloke who couldn't be bothered to take his pants off to get a piece of arse while he pins her arms to the head board and gets ready to take her from behind. . . ."

Congratulations Nicki! You are one sick puppy, and truly deserving of the title 'winner'.

And as promised, I shall do a blog post on you..... watch this space chaps..........!

Monday, 14 February 2011

I haven't forgotten the caption competition by the way

Greetings! This is just a quick post to let you know that I haven't forgotten about announcing a winner for my sick caption competition.

My chum Clare, from the blog Yes, his name is Gary!, had volunteered to be the judge which suited me fine because if I had chosen someone, all the entrants would have probably rebelled and shouted 'FIX!' at me. And then they would probably have boycotted my blog, leaving me all alone in cyberspace with nothing but Naughty George and a sign saying 'I am hungry'.

The trouble is, that I wasn't able to get in touch with Clare last weekend, which wasn't helped by the fact that she is in Florida and I am in the UK and there is an 8 hour time difference. And if that wasn't enough, she has got enormous manicured nails (with a flower painted on one of them) which makes it hard for her to type. So as soon as I get hold of her, I will announce the winner.

On another note, I was quite excited when I found another photograph that I took whilst messing about with Izzy's dolls house during a unusual period of boredom.

To give you the creative brief, my artwork was inspired by my 'dogging' post [for readers outside of the UK who don't know what dogging is, you can read about it here] and I wanted to capture the power of the human bonding experience in adverse circumstances.

Pic.No.1. The power of the human spirit shines through in this striking image

Anyway, as an aside, I am getting a bit worried that my blog is working its way up the Google rankings for the keyword 'dogging'. I don't want my blog inextricably linked with dogging because if the village inhabitants find out, it won't make the school run much fun.

To demonstrate my point about working up the Google rankings, after my last dogging post, a Dogger contacted me and invited me to join him. And I am not joking. Here is the email:

Hello. I was searching for dogging sites in Oxford and came across your blog. Please let me apologise on behalf of the considerate doggers out there. We are not all the same as portrayed in the media. As with anything it's a minority that spoil it for everyone else.

As being as you live so close why don't you pop down and say hello sometime.

PS: Bring a warm coat it's a bit chilly this time of year!

Blimey, how I laughed! And just in case you were wondering, no I didn't take him up on his offer.

Anyway, I have got to go. My next door neighbour has just popped round to say that Naughty George is in her garden, worrying her chickens by running at them and woofing.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Yep, I killed yet another gadget

Can you bloody believe it? Less than six months after I killed my last iPhone, I have now gone and killed my current one deader than a T-Rex.

I am now totally irritating myself with my own clumsiness because yet again, I will have to put myself through the tooth-pulling excruciation of dealing with yet another insurance company (plus I know that you are secretly thinking 'it's people like you that put up our insurance premiums', which is completely true). The victim insurer for this claim is a company called LSG, and I am sure that I am going to make a lot of friends within the company as we get intimate over the next few months. 

Pic.No.1. Dead iPhone

"So how the bloody hell did you kill your phone?" I hear you cry.

Actually, it is a bit embarrassing: Purely because I killed it in such a weedy way. If, for example, I had been walking down the road and then tripped and fallen into the path of a steam roller, resulting in me and my iPhone being squashed as flat as waffer-thin-mints, then I would have been proud of my iPhone's demise. Because that is a hard-as-nails way to snuff it.

But no. It didn't happen like that..... let me elucidate. To start at the very beginning, I had had a really busy day and, unusually, had decided to spend the evening chilling out watching the TV (I don't normally watch much TV because its passivity makes me feel zombi-fied).

And before I knew it, the unthinkable happened; I fell asleep on the sofa (I must have been watching David Cameron doing a speech or something). I slept, and I slept and I slept ...... until 3.30am when the loud voices on the TV awoke me as quickly as they sent me to sleep.

[Brief interjection: Why, whenever you accidentally fall asleep on the sofa, do you ALWAYS awake to find the weather forecast on the TV? It's an international mystery-type enigma.]

The voices awoke me so quickly in fact, that I jumped out of my skin, and jerked upright causing my iPhone to projectile into the fireplace.

Bloody lucky I didn't have the fire lit then. Imagine how exciting it would have been if the phone had landed in a burning fireplace - I would have had my own personal fireworks show. Excrement! But presenting a twisted glob of metal and plastic to an insurance company might have raised some questions.

So, there I am; undertaking yet another insurance claim to get my iPhone repaired, and I know it is going to take weeks to sort out. And, if that wasn't bad enough, I haven't been able to take any pictures of stuff that is going on because my only camera was my iPhone camera. This means that my blog has morphed from a 'photo-blog' to a 'nick-pictures-off-the-internet-blog'.

As if that wasn't bad enough, I am back to using a friend's borrowed mobile phone until I get a new iPhone. Take a deep breath, and let me introduce the Nokia P900 ..........  

Pic.No.2. Nokia P900 (photo nicked off the internet)

Man alive! It is only one step advanced from carrying the battery pack around in a suitcase. I have had to suffer teenagers pointing and laughing at me. It's totally humiliating.

As an aside, I am going to do a quick recap on the gadgets I have killed in the last two years:

Three laptops
One Nokia Arte 8800 mobile phone
Two iPhones
One Denon S302 surround sound system
One Casio Exilim digital camera

I am telling you now, one day I reckon that my name is going to become a verb synonymous with the word 'clumsy'; as in 'aww crap, I've done a Dickens and dropped my laptop down the toilet.'

Anyway, I shall let you know how I get on. Have you killed anything recently?

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