Monday, 30 January 2012

Let me introduce - the 'dope' of all gadgets

The last two weeks have been gadget-tastic mate. Literally three of the bundles of joy have passed through my sweaty palms. In fact thinking about the order they arrived, it was a bit of a gadget crescendo. In metaphorical terms they were dope, ketamine (or whatever that drug is that makes dobbin's go to sleep) and crack.

So without further ado, let me introduce you to the dope of my new gadgets .......

Pic.No.1 First attempt to capture my new gadget on film

Pic.No.2 In the second attempt I use the spaghetti jar as a foil (that's artistic that is)

Pic.No.3 Look I managed to get a bit of pan in this photograph

As if it wasn't entirely bloody obvious, my new gadget is of course .......dah dah .....a microwave (I can hear all the bloke readers tutting with disgust as I write and shouting 'shit gadget').

Fair enough - given that I avoid the desolate wasteland at the back of my house (the kitchen) wherever possible - you may be slightly taken aback by my choice of gadget.

So let me explain. When I was in my early twenties, I dated a bohemian foodie guy (who also won 'young musician of the year' when he was 13 - by playing the cello).

I distinctly remember him standing in the kitchen, passionately gesticulating about real food, and extolling the virtues of 'real cooking methods'.

"Cooking with those new fangled microwaves," he shouted at me, "is the equivalent of cooking with a miniature nuclear power plant."

I looked at him, wide-eyed and horrified.

He continued with gravity, "if those things ever leak, or if you turn them on with the door open, the radioactive rays can cause you serious harm," he nodded.

And so for 17 years, I steered clear of microwave ovens like they were the plague. Until one day last week when  a chum visited and wanted to borrow my microwave to heat up her baby's bottle. 

"I haven't got a microwave," I said. 

"Bloody hell, it's like Victorian times round here," chum said, before adding, "why haven't you got one?"

"So I don't get radioactive poisoning," I said.

"I think you might be majorly confusing radioactivity with micro-waves," she pointed out.

Ah. With hindsight - how embarrassingly stupid was that?

So without further ado, I went out and purchased the first microwave that I ever owned. And because I am so used to traditional cooking, at the moment I only use it to heat up my cold cups of tea, which is pretty minging if you think about it. But I don't know what else to use it for.

One other perplexing feature of my new microwave is the mirrored door. It's almost like having a mirror on your bedroom ceiling, except that you feel a desire to parade your chicken wrapped in parma ham around instead.

Anyway, enough of that microwave gadget ....... here is a taster of the next gadget to come. It was delivered by courier today ........

Pic.No.4 This is the courier parcel containing my next gadget

But because I am a tease I am not going to spill a word until my next blog post AR HAR HAR HAR HAR (that was an evil laugh, not me vomiting or anything).

So dahlink .... what's new?  I need an update ;-)

Saturday, 28 January 2012

I bloody hate Sainsburys supermarket

Greetings blog chum.

You will be pleased to hear that I mainly did two things today. Firstly I took Naughty George on a long walk, and then I did my weekly shopping. Obviously the first activity was enjoyable, but the second was always going to be a chore because I HATE any form of shopping (with the exception of cars and gadgets).

And to make matters worse, today I did my shopping at the Sainsbury's Supermarket in Oxford (Heyford Hill area).

Under normal circumstances, I would never visit Sainsbury's because their customer service is total pants.

But I make an exception to brazen it out bi-weekly, simply because they have a load of immigrant Polish chaps working in the car park who will clean your car with their tongues, and only charge 50p.

Pic.No.1 This is my local Sainsbury's store at Heyford Hill in Oxford

Back to the supermarket - I was in the store for an hour today and spent £120.14. And because I am kinder than Mild Green Fairy Liquid, here are a few of the more notable customer service incidences that I encountered during my visit ..........

I couldn't find any veal. So I asked a spotty employee who couldn't have been more than ten years old.

"I think it's over there," he said pointing vaguely at a location over my shoulder.

"Could you show me please?" I asked, getting a definite snot on.

The pimpled youth walked over to a random shelf and looked around a bit (in a none purposeful manner) before concluding, "sorry we don't do veal."

"Do you have a butcher's counter I can try?" I asked in an exasperated fashion.

"Down there," pimply youth said vaguely pointing towards the end of the aisle.

 Pic.No.2. This is the inside of Sainsbury's. I hate this store

I arrived, and waited at the butcher's counter for 5 minutes, whilst the "butcher" (I use that term loosely) pissed around sharpening a knife. He finally put it away and turned to me, saying "yes?"

"Do you sell veal?" I asked.

"What?" he replied.

"Don't you mean pardon? I am looking to buy some veal. You know, the meat from a baby cow."

"Never heard of it," the butcher said shaking his head. If he was a butcher, I'm Cindy Crawford.

What can you say? A butcher who has never heard of veal?! That's Sainsbury's for you. So I gave up on the veal and continued my shop. This time I needed Fennel and Pak Choi (yep, I am going through a 'eat weird shit' stage). I spent 20 minutes hunting around the vegetable aisles and couldn't find them because the layout in Sainsbury's is rubbish.

Eventually I resorted to interrupting two employees who were having a good gossip.

"Excuse me, could you tell me where I can find fennel and pak choi?" I asked.

I was slightly taken aback by the fact that they both looked pissed off at being interrupted. Stroppy guy no.1 just looked at the floor. At least guy no. 2 had the decency to make eye contact before saying, "you need to go to the next aisle along, second shelf down," before turning his back on me and continuing his conversation.

He didn't physically show me the way - oh no. I had to use his general instructions in order to find what I needed. Which added another 10 minutes onto my supermarket trip. Oh yeh, at this point, I was properly hating everything Sainsbury's.

But I tried to be philosophical about it - I had got most of what was on my list, and all I needed to do was pay.

But yet again, Sainsbury's made the process as painful as watching an episode of Jersey Shore.

The bloody bastards had skimped on the checkout staff, so there were HUGE queues of people spilling into the aisles from all of the operational tills.

Pic.No.3 These are random people ahead of me in the queue. I had been waiting for TWENTY minutes to pay for my stuff

To put it into perspective, I had to queue for 20 minutes (behind five FIVE other heaving trolleys) before I could process my goods (despite the fact that there were loads of un-manned check-out lanes).

By the time I finally left the bloody supermarket, I had an urge to shout 'BASTARDS' out of my car window. But that would have only given me a temporary release.

When I got home, I decided to employ a more scientific approach to the company - I researched their share values ....... and crikey o'reilly, it seems like I am not the only one who thinks that Sainsbury's is rubbish. 

Pic.No.3 Sainsbury's shares have plummeted in value over the last two years, probably caused by the fact that their customers can't find veal or fennel. Or get customer service

But hey, that's why blogging is so bloody ace .... you don't have to suffer in silence.

Just imagine - a supermarket gives you crap service and one blog post later, thousands of people read about it ..... and there is nothing they can do to stop you. Except ..... well...... thinking about it, if Sainsburys offered me a crate of Bolly, I would immediately delete this post.

Damn I am easily bought - but it's something I am working on.

So dahlink ..... it's your turn ...... you need to name your favourite supermarkets, and shame the worst. Let's have some fun ;-)

P.S. I think it is just as important to name the good as the bad. How totally old-fashioned am I?

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

I met this secret squirrel person during the holidays ....

In my last post, I alluded to a chum that I met up with during the Christmas holidays. But because I am evil like Fu Manchu the yellow peril, I teased you and didn't say who it was. So today is the big reveal .......

Oh yes, I met up with my chum, Clare (and not to forget her husband, Jody who has also braved the UK winter).

You know who Clare is - blonde, gobby, cooks good great food, hates ironing (i.e. always gets me to do hers), and likes shouting if I am too laissez faire about getting to the airport on time. And she has such long nails on her hands that she types all goofy. And randomly, she has (and always has had), a propensity to fall over a lot. I am forever scooping her up off pavements. She falls over that often that she doesn't get embarrassed about it any more. 

"Hang on a cotton-pickin' minute, I thought Clare lived in bloody Florida," I hear you cry.

She does indeed live in Florida, but luckily for me, she flew to the the UK for a week over the Christmas period. And we had arranged for me and Izzy to drive down to her parents' house in Worcestershire, so that we could spend the day together.

Unfortunately, I arrived a bit late (2 hours actually) because I had accidentally set my Sat-Nav to 'shortest' route, instead of 'quickest'. So most of my 91.2 mile journey consisted of single-track lanes through the Cotswolds. 

It was a bit annoying to say the least, and when I telephoned Clare to explain what had happened, she exclaimed, "jeez, why are you such a total joey, even when it comes to the simplest of tasks?" It might be me, but I suspected that there was a bit of a dig hidden in that statement.

Anyway, because I am kinder than a leper with a begging bowl (except that I don't have any digits hanging off), I have got some photographs for you .............................

Pic.No.3 It's Clare my chum. I met her at her parent's house in Hallow, Worcestershire. It was weird seeing her out of Florida and wearing warm clothing

When I finally arrived in Hallow and knocked upon the front door of Clare's parent's house, I was greeted by everyone shouting "the Northerner is here."

As the front door opened to reveal Clare and her family, I burst in and did a couple of victory laps around the hallway, before handing a beautifully potted Poinsettia plant to the lady of the house (that'll be Sue - Clare's mum).

Now, I don't know how I managed it, but during the victory laps, I had managed to detach the Poinsettia flowers from their roots. So when I presented the plant to Sue, the cellophane in which the plant was wrapped, just creaked and bent forwards, depositing the stalks and flowers at Sue's feet ...... and leaving me just holding the residual pot like a dick.

"Do you want the pot as well?" I asked her, handing it over. 

Mean while, Clare, Jody (Clare's husband), and Simon (Clare's brother) sympathetically supported my predicament by laughing their bloody heads off, whilst Clare's mother and father just regarded me in a bemused fashion. 

Once she had recovered, Clare rescued the situation by turning to me and asking, "lunch out dahlink?"

And so back to our photographs ..................

Pic.No.4 We decided to have lunch at Clare's local pub, 'The Crown Inn' in a village called Hallow. Clare had told me about their tasty Christmas lunches and I was really looking forward to it. Imagine my anguish when the waitress said that all Christms lunch's had to be pre-ordered

I was mad. Never before had it been necessary to telephone a restaurant to pre-order something that was on the menu. So I made do with steak pie instead, but because I was psyched up for turkey and trimmings, I was biased against it.

Pic.No.5 Izzy had taken her Shamu whale to the pub. Because you never know when a killer whale might come in handy

Pic.No.6 The inside of The Crown Inn, Hallow, Worcestershire. This is the interior of a typical English pub

Pic.No.7 Clare bought us some wine because she is a bad influence, and then she did a toast, "here's to 20 years of friendship," she said. I thought she was belming, but yep, we met at University in 1991. We were two of four girls on an engineering course with 180 blokes. It was marvellous, especially as the other two girls had the nicknames, 'Goat' and 'Pan Face'. I don't like this picture because I look a bit like a burns' victim

Pic.No.8 After lunch, we headed into the ancient town of Worcester and parked in a car-park next to Worcester cathedral. It was built between 1084 and 1504. Bloody hell, I could build the thing quicker than that using a knife and fork

Pic.No.9 After the cathedral we headed to Friar Street which is a street full of Tudor (1500's ) buildings and shops

Pic.No.10 Some of the tudor buildings were extremely wonky

Pic.No.11 Whilst we were on Friar Street, Clare said she wanted to pop in a see her friend, Anja Potze, who owned a jewellery shop on the street

Pic.No.12 When we entered the shop, this lovely person came up to me and said, "I know you, I read your blog." Bloody hell! How weird was that? She was called Sue. And Izzy bizarrely and suddenly went all quiet and shy and just stared around with unblinking big eyes a bit like a lizard

Pic.No.13 It's always fab meeting up with new bloggy chums, so I promised to include her picture in a post. As well as the picture above, here we have (from left); Clare, Anja Potze, and Sue

Guess what, Sue let me try on a diamond ring that they had in the shop and it was worth £23,000 (USD $35,889). Oh yes, Anja owns a posh jeweller's shop. But Clare said it made my fingers look like pork sausages. And can you believe it, Anja also had a pair of ear-rings on display which cost £69,000 (USD $107,669). If you have an urge to buy them for me, please do. I will happily be your bitch.

After spending the rest of the afternoon in Worcester eating cake and doing a bit of shopping, it was back to Clare's parents house for a some food.  

Clare's mum is absolutely ace, and she had put on a right spread for us.

Pic.No.14 This is Clare and her brother Simon, vying for pole position at the buffet. They didn't realise that I was towards the rear, employing the Concentration of Effort Principle to beat them to the pizza slices

Pic.No.15 Izzy wasn't interested in the food at all because Clare and her husband Jody, had just handed her a Barbie doll as a Christmas present. So I ate all her pizza slices

Pic.No.16 This is Clare's brother again, and he is being watched by Izzy's killer whale who is randomly hanging over the top of the door. An interesting fact about Simon is that he is a ex-Olympic athlete. He competed in the Sydney olympics and when I watched it on TV, I saw Clare in the audience

All in all, it was a marvellous day with Clare, and I was sad when Izzy and I had to head off back to Oxford at 9.30pm. but don't worry, this time I managed to select ' fastest' route on my sat-nav so it only took 1 hour and 30 minutes.

And the very next day, Clare and Jody jetted off back to Florida. It was all over terribly quickly.

So dahlink - how is your week going? Today was bloody horrible here in Oxford. It rained all day, and the wind blew my umbrella inside out, so I had to do that geeky shaking thing to get it the right way round.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Oh my gosh! I destroyed another gadget

You'll never bloody believe what happened to me over the Christmas holidays. Actually scrub that, not only are you likely to believe it, you probably even went so far as to expect it.

Yep, I managed to bloody break my lovely Canon Powershot S95 camera. Again.

I am to gadgets what Sarah Palin is to geography. Or what Brad Pitt is to razors.

I managed to kill it on New Year's Eve, but I am not entirely sure how because it was all a bit of a whirl (i.e. I was a bit squiffy). Suffice to say, one minute I was snapping away, and the next minute the bally thing was broken.

This is a record of the spoils the following day  ..................

Pic.No.1 My Canon S95 lens was wonkier than the owner of a chocolate factory and the screen just said 'Lens Error' (perhaps unsurprisingly)

I was properly pissed off because I hadn't had it back long since the last repair. But needs must - I had to bite the bullet and send it off to the repair centre to get mended.

I had almost forgotten about it, until a delivery chap knocked on the door today and handed me a parcel.

"Oooh, what is it?" I asked the delivery man.

"I deliver the parcels. I don't send 'em," the miserable bastard replied.

So I signed his handheld computer thingy 'Mickey Mouse' to spite him, and ran back inside the house in anticipation. After tearing open the box, I found this ..................

Pic.No.2 My lovely jubbly repaired Canon Powershot S95. Even better, the work had been done under warranty so it was free

As a double bonus, after firing up my good-as-new camera, I rediscovered a whole load of photographs that I had taken during the Christmas period and had forgotten about. And these included a fabulous day that I spent in Worcester with a very good chum and pictures of my New Years Eve.

'Who the devil is your very good chum?' I hear you cry.

Well I am not going to tell you that today because I am tighter than a gnat's chuff and want to leave you in suspense. But I will say this - if you are a regular round these parts, you will definitely know who she is!

So how is your weekend going dahlink? What have you been up to?

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Look at my new gadget! A solar powered radio - yes truly

Today would have been a bog standard normal day .......   

For example, I picked Izzy up from school as usual, and had the following conversation ...... as usual.

"What did you get up to today?" I asked after fastening her seatbelt.

"Can't remember," came the stock reply.

"It's probably not worth you going to school if you can't remember what you've done there," I pointed out.

"Cool, does that mean I don't have to go anymore?" she asked clapping her hands.

"Hell no. I need a good accountant and I've nominated you. So you'd better start remembering what goes on in the bloody place," I replied.

"Don't say 'bloody', it's swearing," Izzy pointed out indignantly. As I said, so far it was a bog standard normal day.

By this time we had arrived home.

And the reason why it wasn't a bog standard normal day, was immediately spotted by Izzy.......

"Mama, we've got a new gadget!" she hollered, after spotting a shiny black thing on the kitchen table.

Pic.No.1 Feast your eyes on my new Roberts DAB Solar Powered Radio

"I know we have - how cool is that?" I asked her, nodding with approval at her appreciation.

"What the heck is it?" she asked, ruining the moment somewhat.

"A bloody radio, isn't it obvious?" I asked, feeling a bit put out. Izzy just shrugged and took herself back to a pebble she had found on the way home from school, and which had kept her thoroughly entertained ever since.

Kids these days don't know they're born. So instead dahlink, I am going to have to tell you about my new gadget. It's a Roberts SOLAR powered radio, and not only that, if there isn't enough solar sun, you can recharge the batteries manually using a charger. And it is a DAB radio.

If I liked camping, it would be perfect. But as it happens, I don't like living off the land and eating things that would make a billy goat puke, so I shall be using it in my bathroom. It means that I can listen to Radio 4 whilst having a shower in the morning - thus spicing up a pretty dull part of the day.

So far, I haven't had the radio long enough to assess how good it is with the whole solar charging thing. But it has perfomed well with regards to picking up loads of digital channels and being easy to operate.

For the first time in ages, I can't wait to have a shower tomorrow morning. I shall let you know how I get on.

Do you have any good gadgets that you can recommend for me? And how is your week going?

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

My dog is a complete git. Again

Anyone who lives in a small village knows that everyone knows everyone else's business. And having moved here from London, it is a tricky thing to get your head round.

Which is exactly why you should don a tin hat and keep your head below the parapet if you want to avoid becoming the subject of gossipy-type scenarios.

For example, all I have to do is put on some nail-varnish, and the village is probably awash with rumours that I am on the prowl for someone's husband. It's probably in my head, but to be on the safe side, I keep my head down and play Angry Birds.

God knows what would happen if I ever did something radical ..... like wear a pair of shorts. I would probably be burnt at the stake for heresy .... or crimes against public decency (to be fair though, my legs have always been on the pale side, hence my nickname - Stilton - white with blue veins).

Anyway, I digress. Back to the people of the village. And in particular, my next door neighbours, who are a god-fearing, friendly German family.

They live a simple but happy life; raising livestock and collecting eggs from their chickens. Which is the dogs danglies because I always have a steady supply of fresh eggs (if you're a fan of the Atkins diet, you would have orgasms living in my house).

The reason I mentioned the German family will become clear in a few moments. But the story starts with me taking Naughty George out for some excercise. It was the same old, same old - me dragging him through the village with him woofing vacuously on the end of his leash.

We made our way through the village and then out into the open fields, when suddenly we stumbled across our German neighbours walking their Alsation / German Shepherd Dog. And as you know, Alsations are big bastard hard dogs, and the police use them to catch criminals.

And, as you would expect, when Naughty George clocked the Alsation, his ears pricked up and he ran towards the dog, which was at least three times the size of him. But instead of wagging his tail at the big dog, he inexplicably decided to bite the Alsation in the bloody face.

A god-almighty dog-fight ensued, with my God-fearing neighbours wailing and praying for mercy .... not for their dog (jeez, he was a powerhouse), but for my the undersized, 16 year old mongrel.

The Alsation managed to pin Naughty George down on his back and was posturing excitedly at his throat with bared gnashers. Luckily Naughty George managed to extricate himself, but instead of giving up, the stupid bastard launched another attack at the dog that could quite plainly kill him if it had a mind to. ARGH! What a total nutjob.

I kid you not - FIVE times my dog was pinned down by the Alsation, and five times he got free and launched another attack ...... until I saw a window of opportunity - NG had become so tired, that I managed to jump forward, grab his collar and drag him out of the melee.

Despite the fact that he was heaving for breath, he was still straining against his collar trying to re-start the scrap with the other dog. What a complete spaz.

Ok, so dog-fights happen. But hell, NG is 16. Most dogs are long dead before they reach that age. And if they're not, you would think that they would have realised that a penchant for fighting big dogs was never going to be a particularly pleasant way to while away an afternoon.

Pic.No.1 Naughty George didn't seem too perturbed about his dog fight

Pic.No.2 The 'what have I done now?' expression. My mutt is a git

So yeh, all in all it was a great day for blending into village life. Not.

The very next day I was walking Izzy to school, when I saw a lady who lives in the house opposite me.

"Oh my god," she said, after flagging me down excitedly, "I just heard that Naughty George broke into your neighbours' garden, gravely attacked their dog and then attempted to murder their chickens!"

I looked at her incredulously, but before I could say anything, she simply waved and went on her way.

As I stood there, disbelievingly rooted to the spot, someone else (who lived at the other side of the village) walked up to me; "is it true that Naughty George (note how everyone knows his name), has killed another dog, a herd of chickens and then tried to get at a sheep?"

What the?

"And don't forget the cow that he murdered," I added with a hint of sarcasm.

The woman gasped and scurried on her way.

Bloody nora, it appeared as though Naughty George had morphed into the Hound of the Baskervilles. In fact, he was that evil, that I have assigned him his own moniker - The Beast of Forest Hill. I tell you what though. That dog has got a lot to answer for - he certainly isn't a dog that you would want to own if you prefer a low profile.

So dahlink, enough of the bloody mutt - what are you up to this week? Have you experienced the cold snap today?

Sunday, 15 January 2012

A trip to the Theature to see 'Scrooge'

Yesterday I had BIG plans. I was going to hold a lunch for Izzy and two of her friends, and then take them to the theatre in Oxford to see 'Scrooge - the Musical'.

Pic.No.1 Tommy Steel was featuring as an EXCELLENT Scrooge

I wanted to have something fun to look forward to, because generally, once the Christmas holiday celebrations are over, three months of drab and dreary coldness stretches ahead, as interminable as an episode of Deal or No Deal. So, I decided to proactively fight the post-Christmas blues like a Gladiator with a pugil stick, standing on an unnecessarily large column located in a random position. Whilst wearing a pair of unfeasibly tight skids.

Hence my idea for a day out at the theatre. 

Blimey, I digress. Back to our day out. Izzy's two friends, whom I shall refer to as Children A and B (that's why my nickname is not Mrs Imagination) arrived simultaneously at midday, and for 5 minutes my kitchen was a flurry of parents, backpacks, Naughty George woofing vacuously, and children screaming.

Then the parents left and within seconds all three kids were within inches of my face.

"Have you got any chocolate?" one of them asked, breaking out into a waxy sweat.

"Or cake?" piped up a second, shaking in anticipation. 

"Nope," I replied, "But I have cooked you a Spaghetti Carbonara for lunch, at Izzy's request."

I picked up each child in turn, and plonked them onto a dining chair next at the table. 

Then I handed out the dishes of Spaghetti Carbonara to each sprog.

Child A took one look at her lunch and stated .... "I don't like it."

Child B, having clocked what Child A had said, added, "I don't like it either."

"You haven't even tried it," I stated incredulously, before giving in and feeding them some garlic bread that cost 37p instead. I also wondered if they would develop Beri Beri before I could get them home at the end of the day.

Izzy however, was forever the diplomat (nope, I don't know where she got it from either) ... she gave me a big grin, took a bite of her spaghetti, and said, "this is gorgeous Mama."

I might have believed her if it wasn't for the fact that I overheard Child A telling Child B - "if you don't look at it, and don't breathe through your nose, you can swallow it ok."

Needless to say, the luncheon process was rather protracted, and I shouted 'Huzzar' when at last it was time to leave for the Theatre.

And so to the rest of the day .... here goes dahlink ............... meticulous Dickens planning in all it's glory ......

All three kids were shoehorned into the car, and for some bloody reason, once we were ready to go, the bastard thing inexplicably failed to start. I turned the key and nothing happened. I assumed that it needed a jump-start, so I phoned round some people who lived in the vicinity, but no one was close enough to come and help me out, and leave me with enough time to subsequently get to Oxford.

"You BERLUDDY car!" I shouted at it, waving my fists in the air and hopping about.

Izzy stuck her head out of the back window, "we are going to be late if we don't set off soon," she pointed out helpfully. I responded by shaking a fist in her general direction and yelling "Grrrrrrrrr."

Then I had a brainwave - I could ring a taxi. I phoned around a few local firms and it turned out that one of them had a car in my general area. We were saved! I got all the kids out the car, and before locking it up, I idly gave the ignition key a final try. And the bloody car only fired up. What the blazes was that all about?

"Quick, get back in the car again," I yelled at them, "we are REALLY late."

So, three screaming, wriggling kids were strapped into the car (again) whilst I telephoned the pissed off taxi driver to cancel the ride.

Without further ado, we screamed down the country lanes (always keeping to the speed limits) towards Oxford whilst I listened to Child A tell Izzy and Child B "Izzy, I don't think your mummy is sure what she is doing." Fair play.

And would you bloody believe it - we got to Oxford on time - just. I parked the car, and carefully herded the three exuberant six year old girls across town and into the 'Oxford Playhouse'.

 Pic.No.1 The Oxford Playhouse Theatre

I looked at my watch - it was 2.25pm and the show was scheduled to start at 2.30pm. I heaved a sigh of relief and handed my tickets to the Usher. She regarded them miserably before glibly stating, "these tickets aren't valid."

"What do you mean they aren't valid?" I hollered, pointing at them in an exaggerated fashion, "they have got today's date and time on ....... why are you refusing us access?" I demanded, getting a bit hysterical.

"You are at the wrong theatre," she pointed out emotionlessly. This is 'The Playhouse' and you have got tickets for the 'New Theatre'.

Aaah! Sacre-Bloody-Bleu!

"Quick!" I shouted to the three Muskehounds, "holds hands, follow me, and RUN - FAST!" And so we sprinted at full pelt across the town centre, before finally arriving at the New Theatre with all the veins in my head throbbing, and three heaving kids behind me.

I handed my tickets to my second Usher of the day.

"The performance has already started," she stated.

"I know I'm late, but my car wouldn't start," I pleaded.

"And you took us to the wrong theatre," interjected one of the Muskehounds. I clamped a hand around her mouth and turned back to the Usher, "is there anything you can do? Maybe we can sneak in at the back to watch the show?"

The Usher must have spotted the blind panic in my eyes, beause she hesitantly nodded, and said "Follow me," whilst firing up her torch.

 Pic.No.2. Finally, we arrived at The New Theatre Oxford

And she led us to some empty seats at the back of one of the sections. And how about this - They were actually better seats than I had paid for. Kerching! Don't you just love it when that happens?

Even better, the show was bloody brilliant, and was based (obviously) on the famous Charles Dickens' novel. I am not a big fan of musicals normally because most of them are like plays except that the dialogue is shouted to a tune. But Tommy Steel starred as Scrooge and he was excellent at both acting and singing. In fact, I nearly fell off my chair when I read in a subsquent review that he was 75 years old. And there was some cool magic tricks in the show to boot.

So all in all, after a few hiccups, it turned out to be rather a marvellous day.

How has your weekend been dahlink? Have you got up to anything exciting?

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

I am getting there ...... gradually ok?!

I got a bollocking today I did. It was from a bloggy chum called SFCarr, and she wrote: "Hi Annie. You are obviously having such a "Happy New Year" that you can't be arsed to blog any more! Missing you. It's half way through January and you are still on Boxing Day. Pull yourself together woman! X"

Bloody right that is. I have been tardy with my blogging recently. It's not like I don't have anything to blog about either - you could sit me inside a ping pong ball (albeit a large one), and I could still find something to bang on about.

So, rather than pledging my usual new year's resolution (which is generally to acquire another vice), I am instead going to get back on top of my blogging. I hope. And I am going to start by finishing off what happened during the Christmas holidays ........... that'll give me a nice clean slate.

Well as you already know, I spent the first half of the holidays in Leeds with my chum Sarah, and then drove back to Oxford for my second Christmas on 28th (I am greedy like that).

My second Christmas is the one I spend with Izzy and Steve (and this year my cousin too), and it is an exact replica of the real one. It might sound a bit spazzy, but it means both Steve and I get to spend a Christmas day with the ginger peril.

So here goes dahlink ...... a wrap-up of the holidays.

The Second Christmas

I had put a lot of preparation into the second Christmas, including organising a video of Santa Claus for Izzy.  A chum (Sarah) had told me about a really cool website called (it only works in December) where you input all the parameters of your child and it generates a personal message from Santa Claus. So I did that and showed it to Izzy on the night before Christmas day ........

Pic.No.1 This is Christmas morning and the money shot - the moment that Izzy discovered that Father Christmas had left her loads of presents. If you look carefully you can see the glittery footprints coming from the fireplace. Izzy took one look at them and said, "they're small feet, Santa must have been too fat to fit down the chimney so he sent an elf instead."

Izzy also indignantly pointed out (upon noticing the lack of snow); "It's supposed to snow at Christmas. If I had a pair of wings, I would fly up to God and kick him in the nuts for not sorting it." Beautiful innocent children.

Pic.No.2 Izzy might have delusions of grandeur - whenever she isn't wearing school uniform, she can been seen sporting, high heels, a balldress and crown

Pic.No.3 Izzy was rather happy with her booty, including this present. It was called 'Cookie My Playful Pup' and it was downright macabre. It responded to sound and touch, so although it normally remained motionless, when you walked past it, it registered your footprints and started barking manically. The number of times, I nearly crapped myself in shock .... let's just say I have never had such a strong urge to twat a toy with a spade - over and over again

Pic.No.4 Many of her presents seemed to have a Harry Potter theme this year. That JK Rowling must be bloody rolling in it

Pic.No.5 These are Izzy's Harry Potter glasses. That was the only time I saw her wearing them

Pic.No.6 Maybe because she saw me wearing them and thought 'blimey, I can't compete with that ... she is like a bleedin' clothes horse'

Pic.No.7 This is my cousin Jane and her gorgeous boy, Mitchell. They arrived just before lunch after hearing that it was free

Pic.No.8 This was us scoffing Christmas dinner. I told them to smile like Wallace and Grommet if they wanted more sherry. And as well as the prawn starter shown in the picture, we also had turkey and triple smoked ham. I am like bloody Delia Smith I am

Pic.No.9 Mitchell flashes me a big grin. I thought that I had a way with the boys, but it turned out that he wanted more sherry

And the day was completed by flopping on the sofa and watching that old classic 'Bedknobs and Broomsticks'. But two hours sitting in front of the TV and Jane and I got a bit restless. So we decided to test drive Izzy's new karaoke machine. Bloody great little machine that was - it came complete with mircrophone, songs, and amp (with echo function). My cousin Jane started off proceedings with her brilliant singing voice, which made me feel all confident because after all, we're related aren't we?

After listening to her plough her way through dittys such as 'Beautiful' by Christina Aguilera, and Susan Boyle's version of 'I dreamed a dream', I finally wrestled the microphone from her clammy hands and prepared for glory.

But things didn't quite work out as I had hoped. The singing genes obviously hadn't blessed the 'Dickens' side of the family, and I peaked out at 'Klingons on the Starboard Bow', which incidentally, is the tune I want playing at my funeral. Not that I am expecting it imminently or anything.

I knew I had peaked out because Steve and Jane simultaneously grimaced when I reached the high note of 'starboard'. "You're flatter than Kate Middleton's chest", Steve noted. So I immediately gave up singing because Steve is from Birmingham, meaning that he isn't that discerning anyway. Good job I am not easily offended.

So dahlink, how is new year panning out for you?

Friday, 6 January 2012

Boxing Day brings some interesting stuff with it

Man alive, how behind am I? Blogging about Boxing Day on 6th January?

If I was a fascist dictator, I would have sentenced myself to four years hard labour for being so tardy, but because I'm not, I ate a beef, cheese and jalapeno sandwich instead (which I made myself). And whilst I was stuffing it down my neck, I resolved to buy some chilli sauce for a bit of extra 'zing'.

Oooh, but before I forget - back to Boxing Day. For those of you who do not live in the UK, Boxing Day in the UK refers to the day after Christmas, and it's name was derived from the tradition whereby wealthy people give their servant a box containing a present. 

Obviously, because I spent Christmas and Boxing Day at Sarah's house in Leeds, we spent most of the morning dishing out gifts to our servants. Greedy little blighters they are these days; getting all complainy if you buy their gift from 'Pound Stretcher'. It's not like the olden days when they would have been happy with an orange.

Sacre bleu! Enough of our servants, what else did we do to keep ourselves entertained? Well, we decided to visit the city of York, that's what. It is one of the best places in the UK if you want to see tons of medieval architecture (the period between 400 - 1490 AD, as I discovered from Sarah).

So Sarah, Louise (her sister), and I jumped into my jalopy and duly headed for that noble city in the shire of York. And whilst en-route, we accidentally realised that York normally has fantastic Boxing Day sales in all the shops. Not that we cared - we were there for the architecture - not the high-heeled shoes .... obviously.

And because I am kinder than a Samaritan on a bonus scheme, I have got some pictures for you ........

Pic.No.1 This is a picture of 'The Shambles' in York. It is a proper surviving medeival street with most of the buildings being constructed between 1300 and 1400 AD. How impressive? They have lasted longer than an episode of 'The View'

Pic.No.2 The Shambles again - look how wonky the bloody buildings are. The name is derived from the Anglo-Saxon term Fleshammels, which means 'flesh shelves'. That's because the street was the home to all the butcher's in the city in medieval times

Pic.No.3 But the jewell in the crown of York, is the minster ..... here you get a glimpse of it at the end of another ancient street

Pic.No.4 And as you get nearer, it increases in size ...............

Pic.No.5 Until BAM! You end up right outside the main entrance to York Minster ... and man alive, men alive, is it awesome or what? It is so enormous that no more than a third of the building fits into each photograph

Pic.No.6 Even more amazing is the fact that the York Minster was built between 1291 and 1472 AD (it's older than the Bride of Wilderstein). And they had no scaffolding, no diggers, no cranes, no specialised tools, no concrete .... and most of all ..... no hi-vis vests. They were crazy sausages!

Pic.No.7 Who on earth dreamed up the concept of York Minster when everyone else in the land was wearing sackcloth and eating cabbage? It's gob-smacking

Pic.No.8 As we walked away from the Minster, we passed this building with a 'blue plaque' attached to it. Now just in case you don't know ...... buildings in the UK have a blue plaque assigned to them if they are of historical significance ...... so I went to investigate

Pic.No.9 How excellent is this? It was the birth place of Guy Fawkes in 1570 AD. If you aren't from England, Guy Fawkes is a chap who tried to blow-up the Houses of Parliament in 1605 (but failed). Because of that, 'Guy Fawkes' Night' is celebrated every 5th November in the UK, and fireworks are let off throughout the land

Pic.No.10 The day was ended with a large coffee in a Costa Coffee Shop. Mine was so big that it had two handles to help me drink it. Bloody glutton I am. And my hair had gone flat because of some weedy rain that had swept in

So dahlink, we need to spruce up Boxing Day because it is generally a bit hit and miss - what tradition should we introduce for Boxing Day to make it interesting every year? Go on ..... let's come up with some top ideas!!

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