Friday, March 31, 2006


Here are a couple of Nottingham City trams
stopping at Market/Slab Square, just by the
Council House. In the old days, they used to
have the market here (surprise, surprise),
and the annual Goose Fair also. The Square
is currently undergoing a make-over.

Thursday, March 30, 2006


Here's another photo I took from the hillside
above Mayrhofen, which will give you an idea
of the view from the top. I don't think I
could jump off into the air, as this bloke did
- I felt nervous just going up in the ski-lift,
with there being very little to hold on to.
However, I felt completely different going up
in the London Eye 1-2 years ago - I felt very
safe, and the view over Westminster was amazing.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Any ideas for a new blog title?

I've just read Andrea's comment about my last
blog. I've been thinking along similar lines,
while doing the washing-up this evening.
My current blog title doesn't match the photo
I've chosen, so I need to think of another.
I'm moving on from the home-brewing theme I
started with (as I've got nothing new to say
about it).

So a new blog title/caption for the photo ...
ideally two to three words long, something funny
or ambiguous, perhaps using the words, just,
Justin or fancy.
I'll decide on something by late Sunday evening,
so I'm open to suggestions in the meantime.....

Changing layout

You'll see that I've been experimenting with
the layout of this site yet again. I hope
you will like the photo I've chosen for the
banner. I took it on the mountainside above
Mayrhofen in Austria, last August. Mrs C and
I had gone most of the way up on the ski-lift.
We were having a coffee at a little cafe at
the summit, when a group walkers stopped
briefly to admire the view - an ideal moment
for a snapshot, which I took with my previous
camera - the Olympus C-5060.

Monday, March 27, 2006

British Summer/Cat Time

Our cats, Miss D and Slayer, haven't got used
to the hour change yet. (I nearly typed the
word got as gotten - I've been watching too
much American TV, but I digress.)
At bedtime, our cats usually escort us
upstairs to our bedrooms... Slayer is very
good as a time-keeper and at rounding us up.
She miaows rather plaintively whenever Mrs C
and I give each other a lengthy hug and a kiss
Anyway, the funny thing is that for the last
two evenings they have both disappeared.
Perhaps they are making the most of the milder
Spring weather, and have gone off to see their

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Mother's Day flowers

Mrs C received some lovely flowers today from
the girls...freesias, irises and tulips.

Later on we took some flowers round to Mrs C's
mum. She is a very fit 85 year old, who got an
OU degree two years ago after many years of
hard work. Grandma lives round the corner from
My mum died three years ago - I cried a lot for
a few weeks after her death, but with time my
sadness has been replaced by happier thoughts
and feelings. I now think more about the good
times we had together, and what she achieved
in her lifetime.
(I added the last paragraph after Andrea wrote
her comment.)

His and hers

Mrs C and I have separate bedrooms now, just
like the Royal family....mainly because I
snore badly (as reported by Mrs C ... she can
still hear me snoring occasionally from her
room!), and the fact that I can't tolerate
sleeping in a very cold bedroom, which Mrs C
prefers. I'm one of those people who are prone
to sleep apnoea, which distresses Mrs C when
she hears me breathing that way. I'm not aware
of it, of course.

I now sleep a lot better in the small bedroom,
as does Mrs C in her room, but the downside is
that we don't cuddle each other as much......
oh dear!

Friday, March 24, 2006

Irish blogs

I’ve been having a look at a few of the top
blogs featured at the Irish Blog Awards .
Catriona mentioned the awards on her site.
So I invite you to have a look at the
following blogs....

Donncha O Caoimh’s photo-blog ... lovely
photos and some interesting text.

Tom Raftery’s IT views
.....more for techies, but very readable.

That Girl, who thinks out aloud.
I think it’s very well written, especially her
blog for 21 March, “About 10 years ago”.
In her blog of 14 March, “Let’s start a
conversation”, she talks about setting up an
online blogger’s workshop with her friends,
to help newbies like me. Sounds very

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Spring is here!

Spring is here, and so is my new camera!
I took the camera out today for its maiden
voyage, and here's one of my photos - some
Spring blossom, which brightened my day.

...a close-up of the tree blossom would have
been better, but I didn't have a stepladder
to hand.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Astrology – fact or fiction?

Is astrology a load of rubbish?

Well I don’t really believe in astrology ..
the idea that my basic personality has been
pre-ordained, by the timing of my birth in
relation to the positioning of the sun and
planets, seems far-fetched to me. That
somehow I was fated to meet up with and marry
someone like Mrs C, and spend the next 30
plus years together, as her astrological
features complemented my own ?? What about
my “freedom of choice” in this matter ... and
if there were thousands of other people born
at the same time as myself, does that mean
there are a lot of people on this planet who
think or behave the same as me?

I’ve experienced one remarkable thing, however.
Well over ten years ago, when I was attending
transactional analysis classes in Derby, I met
up with someone called M., who was 11 years
older than myself. He and his wife became
good friends of ours. He and I shared the
same oesophageal (gullet) stricture problem
since childhood, though we both grew out of
it, and he had the same birthday as myself...
an amazing coincidence. I didn’t find these
things out for some years. Apart from
enjoying each other’s company, (and admiring
each other’s skills), there was no other
marked resemblance between us. Unfortunately
he died a few years ago, of oesophageal cancer,
at the age of 61.

A close relative of Mrs C’s is very much into
astrology – she’s been on various courses,
she’s got the computer software, and she does
charts for family and friends. She’s got a
science degree and works in a haematology lab.
I don’t know why she has such faith in
astrology. Some of our girls have had their
charts done by her, and have been impressed
with the results. She likes to find out what
motivates people to do things, by looking at
their charts, and how this affects their
Why not simply ask them? It would save her
loads of time.

My friend A. is a neuro-psychologist, and is
scathing about astrology. He reckons that it
doesn’t stand up to any scientific analysis,
to prove that it works. He is equally
dismissive about the benefits of personal or
relationship counselling, though he sees a
few private clients from time to time, for
anxiety management.

As I’ve said already, I’m sceptical about
astrology, and particularly about any
forecasting of my future life. In fact I’m a
bit scared to have any forecast done by this
method or any other, such as a Tarot card
reading, in case something unpleasant is
predicted! Perhaps I should regard it just as
a bit of fun. An interesting pastime, like
having a card game. Oh my God, I'm rambling
on again, in Libran fashion.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

More about myself

I’ve just been reading Gordon Mclean's latest
blog, entitled “The Book Title Meme”. This
meme was started by Clare Sudbery , and the
general theme is to match an aspect of your
life to a book title.

I'm a Libra, like Gordon, and in the past I
liked to think that I was a diplomat and a
peace-maker, when it came to sorting out
arguments (involving myself or others) ...
seeing another person's point of view, and
suggesting ways forward to resolve a problem.
Basically, I was scared of physical violence
(and still am), so I was always keen to find
a peaceful solution/compromise rather than
confront someone.

I tend to be indecisive ... a tendency to sit
on the fence, which is said to be a Libra
characteristic. I tend not to express what I'm
I’m thinking or feeling, so as to avoid a
confrontation. However, I've been on assertion
training and transactional analysis courses in
the past, which have helped somewhat.

One bad characteristic I have (which annoys
others), is to talk about something in a
circular fashion, initially to promote an
idea, but then curiously to negate it. So for
instance I would suggest to Mrs C a possible
outing somewhere, and then go on to suggest
alternatives or possible reasons for staying
at home (eg too damned cold to go out).
Sounds crazy, doesn’t it?
Mrs C often tells me to simply say what I’d
like to do. How clear and simple. Women are
marvellous ... well, Mrs C most definitely is.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

My new camera

Today, I’ve ordered a new camera for myself ..
the Canon Rebel 350D with a standard kit lens.
It’s an eight megapixel DSLR camera, which has
had rave reviews.

I’ve been using a couple of excellent camera
review sites... dpreview and epinions.
Mrs C encouraged me to get a camera of my own,
to take on holiday with us to Mallorca (at the
end of April). We watched a TV documentary
about the wildlife there, which was marvellous,
so I'll be using the camera a lot.

I love taking photos of people too, though
it's not so lovely for Mrs C, as I’m one of
those annoying people who takes ages to take
each shot, and then takes a few more photos of
the person ... just in case.

P.S. I’ve abandoned the Swicki, as I thought
the sidebar had too much stuff on it. (But
thanks for your help in setting it up, RN)

Thursday, March 16, 2006


I've just thinking about one or two ideas
that came up in last Tuesday’s philosophy
session (which was a rambling discussion on
certain themes – just like this blog). We
were talking about what is the basis for a
person’s identity, from your bank details to
your consciousness.

If I had an identical twin brother, with an
identical genetic make-up, what would make
him different from me as a person? I remember
watching an interesting TV documentary a few
years ago, which looked at pairs of identical
twins separated at birth and brought up in
different families – I was amazed by a couple
of twin brothers, who were raised in different
continents but who had very similar tastes in
clothing and other lifestyle choices, and in
choice of career.

In the session we went on to talk about
cloning, and whether we would like to achieve
immortality by doing so. Well I guess most
people would like to become immortal, given
the option of either that or being reduced to
a pile of dust/old bones one day. I would
wish to stop or reverse the ageing process,
or we would become a nation of crippled

But cloning myself ... bringing up a little
version of me, running around this house? Or
finding Junior snuggling up to Mrs C in bed
together at night, as Junior couldn’t sleep.
Or Mrs C being more affectionate towards
Junior than to me. Or worse still, Mrs C and
I separating and then fighting in the court
over custody of the child .... dreadful.

The idea of cloning people sounds ghoulish to
me.... what do you think?

How about having a brain transplant instead,
into the body of a beautiful young person ...
Jake Gyllenhaal or Scarlett Johanson, say?

Monday, March 13, 2006

Cold weather

I woke up yesterday morning to find we'd
mis-timed our central heating - it hadn't
come on at 7am as usual, and the upstairs was
cold. Too cold for me to have a shower
straightaway. (I'm a fairly thin bloke -
height about 5' 10 1/2", weight varying
between 9 - 9 1/2 stones - dead skinny really,
so I have to wear lots of layers in the cold
weather to keep warm.
Being retired gave me the option/luxury of
being able to wait until the house started to
warm up, but then having a shower in chilly
surroundings took me back in my mind to one
of our visits to see our daughter S. in
Enschede, Holland. We stayed a couple of
nights in a 2 star B&B - we were in a small
bedroom in a beautiful Dutch family home.

I love the overall design of Dutch houses,
with their large glass windows (with dark
window surrounds and gorgeous interiors).
However the shower room in this particular
house was somewhat primitive ... the windows
were louvre-style with permanently open glass
slats, and the shower water had that annoying
facility of going from very hot to freezing
cold during the shower ... not consumer-
friendly. And our visit was in February when
it was very cold.

Apart from seeing our daughter, one of the
best things about our stay was visiting the
best coffee-shop in the town (it hosts jazz
groups in the evenings and has an attached
cinema too). The coffee was fabulous, served
up with small home-made biscuits... equally
delicious... mmmmMMMMM.
Here's a photo of one of the capuccinos I had
(I prefer them without chocolate on top).

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Marathon session

I've spent 7-8 hours fiddling about with
photos and HTML on Blogger. You'll see what
I've been up to in the Links section.
(By the way, if any of you object to my
borrowing a photo/image from your site, let me
know and I'll remove it).

I got the idea from another blog, which has
an interesting layout, but I don't like its
legibility or content much. I used a dummy
Blogger site to upload a couple of the photos,
and then I copied and pasted their HTML code
onto this site.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Gordon Ramsay

This man may be a tyrant in his own kitchen
but I think he’s a genius. He’s a three star
Michelin chef as most of you will know – an
exceptionally good cook. He's a man who speaks
his mind, and won’t tolerate anyone who gives
him crap (crap food or crap explanations)...
but at the same time he’s got a very caring
side. He’s passionate about good food and
passionate about building good relations with
his staff.

His latest TV series “Ramsay’s Kitchen
Nightmares” is wonderful to watch (that is if
you take his use of the “F” word with a pinch
of salt). I think his ideas about simplifying
menus and maximising the flavour of food is
great. Just a simple thing like making
brocolli soup with ... well, what do you think?
...brocolli, water and seasoning ..without all
the cream the other chef wanted to put in. And
his phenomenal team-building skills are a joy
to see. Brilliant TV .. a must-see in my opinion.

One thing Mrs C and I dislike when we eat out,
is food with a lot of butter or cream in it.
We’ve felt almost sick when we come out of
one French restaurant in Nottingham, which
seems to specialise in creamy sauces. A
failing of French cuisine I think (and to be
avoided by anyone trying to lose weight).
Having said that, we do like eating
occasionally at the Pierre Victoire restaurant
in Nottingham, (though I’ve heard rumours that
the portion sizes are smaller since the new
management took over).

We don’t eat any meat when we eat out (well, I
eat chicken very rarely) we avoid eating
a lot of fat there too. Equally we tend to
avoid eating curries (unless we make them
ourselves), as they tend to be swimming in fat.

You may be thinking, "What a spoilsport!" You
are right. Ignore what I’ve just written .. go
out and really enjoy yourselves. Life is short,
and it's possible that you may not live long
enough to get a state pension.

Thursday, March 09, 2006


Mrs C and I went out to see the film “Hidden”
tonight. We thought it was very good – an
intriguing plot, but we were puzzled by the
ending – I won’t say any more about that, as
some of you may wish to see it. We thought
the acting was excellent. Daniel Auteuil and
Juliette Binoche are two of my favourite film
actors. There’s an interesting review of the
film at the TimeOut site.

I felt increasingly tense as the film
progressed...the atmosphere of the local
streets at night, full of parked cars but
empty of people, felt eerie and evil to me
– reminded me of looking at the gloomy
wind-swept parkland in the 1960s film
“Blow-Up”... really scary.

We went to see "Hidden" at The Small Screen
cinema in Nottingham. It claims to be the
smallest cinema in the world. There was a
fairly large room inside, with well-padded
seats (19 of them). It had a cosy atmosphere
– one which encourages you to start chatting
with complete strangers, which we did. It
was our first ever visit to this cinema – for
many years it was to place to go to see the
XXX films, so for me it had a rather seedy
image. Now it shows both mainstream and
alternative films.

Before the film show, we treated ourselves to
a light meal out. We had a Thai tofu curry at
the Broadway Cinema across the road. The main
meals there are amazingly good value at £5.50
a head. I’d give the Thai curry 8 out of 10
for quality – good for that price.

I sometimes meet up with friends at The
Broadway in the daytime for a chat and a
coffee ... the latter is freshly brewed but
is somewhat lacking in flavour and body. I
would rate the coffee at about 5 out of 10 –
drinkable but nothing to “write home” about.
I’ll be pleased when the nationwide ban on
smoking comes into force in about 18 months'
time. Someone lit up a cigarette at the table
next to us, while we were eating. Not very

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Our lovely cats

I thought you might like to see a couple
of photos of our lovely cats... Miss D and
Slayer, which are their "pet" names. They are
twin sisters and they're now about 3 years old.
Miss D is the larger of the two, and is
bossier than her sister (though Slayer
occasionally initiates a fight). They get on
very well together otherwise.

They are very friendly towards us, me in
particular. I wonder if cats are more
attracted towards humans of the opposite
sex? I could never get on with a male cat
called Franny,who lived with us some years
ago, yet he adored our girls, who adored him
in turn.

Since our girls left home, our cats have
helped fill the gap/empty nest to some
extent ... always good company, except when
they're naughty (such as when they scratch
our carpets, especially the stair carpets).
I took these photos with my previous camera,
the Olympus C-5060 ... the first one is of
Miss D, and the second one is Slayer.....


Monday, March 06, 2006

Desert Island CDs

Andrea comments that she misses the home-made
bread her husband used to make. I love freshly
baked bread – I love its fabulous smell and
If any of you were around in the 50s and 60s,
you may remember the tiny loaves of Hovis
bread you could buy at your local baker’s shop
– mini-sized loaves. Delicious when eaten
fresh with a generous amount of butter.
I and my sister S. used to eat one of these at
one go for a treat (after the weekend food
shopping trip with our mum and dad)... one
loaf each.

For over 10 years we’ve had a Panasonic
breadmaker, and I’ve managed to re-create
this type of bread with Hovis Strong Wholemeal
flour. I usually bake some bread 1-2 times a
week (and more often when family come to stay).
You can vary the type/mix of flour to your
taste, and you can time the breadmaker to
finish baking at breakfast-time. Lovely to
wake up to the smell of bread baking.

Another of my all time favourites is the smell
of freshly brewed coffee – I would take a
supply of ground coffee with me for my treat
on my “Desert Island”. As for choosing eight
records/CDs to take with me, I would find that
very difficult as there is so much music I
love - from Bach, Vivaldi and Mozart, up to
present day pop.

I listened to “Desert Island Discs” today,
and the castaway chose Rod Stewart’s “Sailing”
– it was stunning ... as is another of my
all-time favourites, Eva Cassidy singing “Over
The Rainbow”. I also like listening to people
like Eric Clapton and Gary Moore singing the
blues, and lots of other singers too.
If I were allowed to take an iPod with me to
the desert island, I’d take the entire
collection of works by Mozart, Schubert,
Chopin, Debussy and Ravel with me, also.
You see, I’m a romantic, with melancholic
To end on - here’s another sky picture, taken
through our roof window.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

tea-shirt logo

An attractive young woman passed by me in the
Victoria Centre (shopping mall) yesterday. She
was wearing a fairy bright orange tea-shirt,
with the following words written across it
in large black capital letters ....

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Laptop and other stuff

We’ve had a week of lovely sunny days but
it’s been bitterly cold, here in the East
Midlands. Up North they’ve had a lot of snow,
but I haven’t seen any news reports about it
on the TV.
I’ve been into town most days, partly to get
out of the house and get some exercise, but
also to do some shopping and go to a few U3A
The U3A philosophy meeting last Tuesday was
a rambling discussion, all about personality/
existence and whether or not we thought we
had a soul – a ongoing existence after death.
The guy presenting this subject thought it
was comforting for a lot of people to believe
they had a soul, but he didn’t really believe
in this – and neither do I.
Do animals have souls? Our two cats are very
intelligent, and can experience pain and
pleasure. And what about other primates, to
whom we’re related?
This weekend we’re hosting family get-
togethers, as we often do. Mrs C made a very
nice butter bean (and kidney bean) casserole
yesterday, flavoured with all sorts of nice
things (from one of the Cranks cookbooks), and
today we’re having a gorgeous fish pie (Jamie
Oliver’s) – I’ve been doing all the veg
preparation (and most of the shopping) for
both meals.

Mrs C is a member of the Wine Society, and
we’re slowly drinking our way through a box
of its best Chilean red and white wines. We
started a delicious Merlot yesterday. A
couple of days ago I drank 500ml of one of my
old home-brewed beers – “Glen Brew” was the
name of the kit – and ended up with a bad
hangover the next day. I poured the remaining
3 bottles of this brew down the sink –
revolting stuff.

A friend called Ron, who is a computer boffin,
helped me set up a wireless laptop to the
internet in the past 2 days. “Easy one button
to push set-up” it said on the router box – it
took Ron over 3 hours to set it all up
(together with our old Windows 98 computer,
inside which Ron put in a new Ethernet
connection). I was amazed by his technical
ability – I would have spent hours and hours
on it if I hadn’t had any help. NTL weren’t
of any help – they don’t “support” setting up
wireless connections, so you have to get an
expert in to set it up.
So today I’ve spent some time putting on a
range of email and website addresses (plus
some Desktop shortcuts) on the laptop for
Mrs C, including some radio stations for a
bit of fun – it all works beautifully, and
I’m very impressed.
We watched a video of “Gideon’s Daughter”
last night – Bill Nighy in his typical role
of a distant upper class bloke, trying to
relate to daughter and make amends for his
past actions. Brilliant acting from all the
cast and a brilliant production. We're
planning to get out to the cinema tomorrow,
to see "Hidden" at "The Screen Room", which
claims to be the country's smallest cinema.
(PS. We went to see "Hidden" on 9 March)