Monday, July 31, 2006

the wedding and the house move

Mrs C and I enjoyed the wedding on Saturday. It took place in a beautiful village church (St James, Syresham). The vicar/rector, William Adams, ran the service in a very friendly and somewhat quirky way. I heard later that in his younger days he’d been a headmaster, which may account for why he lined up the bride and groom and the other main players up at the front of the church for a photo-shoot for the signing of the register - like children at a school. The music and church bell ringing was excellent.
The service was at 3pm, and the meal started at 6.30pm (at Bicester Golf & Country Club) and ended at 10pm, so there was plenty of time to chat to everyone, and for me to take lots of photos before we all sat down. The downside was that we were waiting a long time between courses of the meal, and for the speeches at the end. We were disappointed by the vegetarian option, mushroom risotto, and the veg was cold by the time our portions appeared, but the meat-eaters said the steak was excellent. The wines were excellent too - Australian Shiraz and Chardonnay. The club house was huge and a good venue otherwise.

I don’t really know why it is, but I become tearful when the happy couple come to take their vows to each other at weddings we’ve been to. It’s such a happy but solemn moment in the ceremony … something about the enormity of the words they are saying … and yet how many couples live happily ever after … perhaps half the number who marry? And how well do individuals cope when their loved ones become disabled or demented in later life?

Mrs C whispered to me on this occasion, that I was a big softie, (which I am -– yes, I’m a romantic), and held my hand when she noticed a few tears trickling down my face. The mother of the bride, who is often portrayed in dramas as the one who blubs, didn’t cry at all. Perhaps she cried when her daughter moved away from home some time ago?

Yesterday was a big day emotionally for my youngest daughter S, who moved out of of her house into a small one-roomed flat in the Kirstall Abbey area in Leeds. She and her female partner have just separated after living together for 4 years, and both have moved into smaller flats in Leeds. A sad time for them both, but hopefully a new beginning for them. The optimists say, “as one door closes, another opens”, which I think does happen. What do you think?

Friday, July 28, 2006

It ain't half hot

It’s been another hot day –- most people I’ve spoken to are getting sick and tired of the heat, especially those working in offices without any air conditioning (or driving around in cars without the same). I’ve been reading & watching the news about how people in central London and in California have been experiencing power cuts, as the electricity companies haven’t got enough reserve power to cope with everyone turning on their aircon or fans to keep themselves cool.

I know the Health and Safety Department have strict guidelines about what it considers to be “safe” temperatures for office workers to work in … mainly to deter employers from turning the room thermostat too low, to economise on heating for the staff (my senior medical partner used to do that in the winter-time – it was very cold in the doctors’ waiting room and the adjacent reception area, and the staff would frequently complain… that was at a surgery in South Nottingham). So I presume it’s illegal for an employer to insist that his/her workers carry on working when it gets too hot ?

Thank God, that it’s getting cooler this evening – a welcome change. Not quite cold enough to get out my vest and longjohns, which I wear for about 10 months of the year. Well, you see, I’m as thin as a rake, so I need the extra layers. :)

Has anyone seen the film, Thank you for smoking? Mrs C and I saw it a couple of weeks ago, at the Broadway Cinema… it’s a brilliant black comedy, and we thought the main character (who’s the spokesman for the tobacco industry), became more and more likeable as the film progressed. Strange how you can get to like someone who is basically a merchant of death, but that’s how well written and acted it is.

I’ll stop there, as I’ve got to get a reasonable night’s sleep, before Mrs C and I set off for Oxfordshire tomorrow, for a family wedding. On Sunday, we’ll be driving up to Leeds, helping our youngest daughter move to another flat. So I’ll be back to blogging (I nearly typed the word bragging, which I suppose a lot of blogging is), after all that.
Have a great weekend.

Thursday, July 27, 2006


Here are the photos I mentioned earlier today. The first one is an arrangement of hands, created by one of my nieces. I took this photo and blended it with another to make the second image.
By the way, I'm wondering if there is a collective noun for five different hands? :)

vets and photoshop

Yesterday, we took our cats to the vets to have
their annual booster. Catching the cats to put in
their boxes was tricky, but not as bad as in
previous years. On the odd occasion in the past
when we've made an afternoon appointment for them,
they would disappear off outside all day, which
made us very anxious that we'd get to the vet on
time. Now we make the appointments for the first
slot of the day, and then on the day, we feed the
cats with some grub and lock them in the house.
Trying to catch them and get them inside the cat
carriers is great fun.

When they were smaller we used to use just the one
box, which led to funny/frustrating scenes when
trying to get the second cat into the box, with
its paws fully outstretched ("I'm not bloody
well going in there" attitude), while the other one
desperately scrabbles to get out, and dashes off.
So now we have two cat boxes.

Our vet passed on this tip to us, which I pass onto
you (if you're a cat lover)... open and up-end the
cat carrier, take hold of your cat by the scruff of
its neck and gently drop it into the box's
really amazing how well this works .... no struggle
at all.

We were annoyed with our new vetinerary service for
sending out the immunisation reminder for June at
the end of June, and with hindsight at our own
stupidity for not putting a reminder ourselves on
our calendar to get them done. Their immunisation
cover went out of date and we had to pay for a new
course of two injections each.

I know a little about immunology, so I'm sceptical
as to why the cats need two shots rather than one
in this situation ... we took them in for the first
ones on 6 July, which was only a week overdue. The
phrase "sharp practice" springs to mind.

I spent a large part of yesterday at a U3A regional
meeting, the other side of Newark, which entailed a
hour's drive there and back in boiling hot sunshine.
The business content was rather dull, but the people
there made up for that - they were very friendly and

What have I got on today? Well at some point I'll
need a nap, as unusually I went to bed last night at
9pm and woke at 3am. This morning, I'm going to a U3A
computer group meeting, to meet up with fellow nerds,
and then I'll do a bit of shopping and return a book
on Photoshop 7 to the central library.

This evening, we're going round the corner to Mrs C's
mum's for our evening meal. This is becoming a regular
Thursday evening event - evening at Grandma's Restaurant
in the Park, which is great as G. tries out new recipes
on us from week to week (recipes from the Saturday
Guardian mainly).

What have I been up to in the wee hours this morning?
Well having some fun with Photoshop. I find "Layers"
the hardest part of it to understand, so I've been
reading through the section on Layers in my library
book (Robert Shufflebotham's Photoshop 7 in Easy Steps).
I been experimenting with a couple of photos, and you
can see the results below.... ..... Oh Blogger! The
photos won't load up. I'll have another go tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

it's a hard life being retired

Another hard day ahead (not). First of all, I've
got to bag up a massive amount of greenery that
I trimmed off the shrubs yesterday. Next, I'll
catch a couple of buses to take me across town to
drop in on my pals at my old workplace (the student
health centre set in the beautiful green campus of
the University). I usually time my visits for their
coffee break (abt 11am), and then I'll travel
onwards to Beeston shopping centre, to meet up with
a friend for coffee at The Bean - lovely Italian-
style coffee there. The Bean is near Sainsbury's.
We usually meet up every 4-6 weeks for a gossip.

Mrs C will be out at work, by the time I get back
in the afternoon, so I'll have the house to myself
until her return at 9pm, by which time I will have
cooked a meal (trout fillets with veg and a parsley
garnish, followed by honeydew melon, and glass of
chilled white wine), surfed the internet for a while,
sorted out a box or two more of clutter, looked
through a few digital photos, and have done a little
paperwork. After the meal, we'll settle down to watch
a little TV or have a chat.
Oh, it's a hard life, being retired.

To finish on, I'll post one of my photos from
yesterday. I took several shots of this view, with
differing aperture settings - this is the pick of
the bunch.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Great company

Well, it’s another lovely sunny morning, and I’m
sitting here in front of the computer with a cool
breeze coming in from the window. It’s quiet
outside as the morning rush hour has yet to
start. The birds are tweeting in the garden and
it’s very peaceful.

We had a very busy weekend seeing our four girls
and other family members. We went round to our
daughter R’s house in Bramcote, to celebrate all
the birthdays. One of the children did a rain
dance, whereupon it rained heavily for two hours
throughout the BBQ time. We sheltered under a mini-
marquee, huddled together, while people (well,
mainly my son-in-law) took it in turn to hold a
large umbrella over the BBQ. Lovely to have some
rain after the incredible heat of the past week or

We put up two of our girls and a niece for the
weekend, and had a lot of visitors too, so we’ve
gone from having a houseful of people to now, just
Mrs C and myself. A big contrast, but one we’ve
grown used to. I’m sad to see everyone go, but
.. hey .. they’re all not far away.

By the way, I did a special cooked breakfast on
Saturday morning as it was Mrs C’s birthday. We
started with fresh grapefruit and Tropicana orange
juice, and then had poached egg on toast with tinned
tomatoes, mushrooms, vegetarian sausage (Cauldron
Lincolnshire, which we think are the best), and wild
rocket, plus a mug of tea. Delicious.

Today, I’ve got a few phone calls to make, some
paperwork to do, an AGM to go to in the city centre,
do some bush/tree pruning in the garden, and then
some cooking – some new potatoes and green veg to
go with the end of yesterday’s lentil loaf (which
Mrs C made). I might watch a bit of “Richard & Judy”
and “Coro” with Mrs C, and catch up on some TV drama/
documentary that we’ve previously videoed. We like
watching “Silent Witness”, though last night’s plot
was OTT I thought … the body count was too high.
While we’re televising, we’ll probably have a glass
or two of wine or a cold beer, and be visited by one
or two of our cats. They’re great company.

Friday, July 21, 2006

It's our anniversary

34 years ago, Mrs C and I got married in Nottingham.
I remember that it was a cool and cloudy summer’s
day. I stayed overnight at Mrs C’s family home and
met up with the rest of my family at the Register

My wife’s parents and my own had been fairly close
friends over the years, and it sounds funny to say
this but J., my mother-in-law, bathed me when I was
a baby (while my mum was laid up in bed with mumps
for a week or so). I was born in Manchester, by
the way.

The Basford Register Office was roomy inside, but
had a somewhat gloomy décor, like interior of a
funeral parlour. The reception was held at Mrs C’s
family home, which had a huge garden. My wife and
her mum had slaved to prepare all the food (for
about 40 people). Anyway, we all enjoyed the event,
and later Mrs C and I caught the train from
Nottingham Station to honeymoon on the Isle of
Arran in Scotland (with an overnight stop in
Manchester on the way up). The weather in Arran
was idyllic for walking around it, and we had a
great time.

The following week, I started my first medical
house job at the Leeds General Infirmary, and didn’t
see much of my wife for the next 6 months, owing to
the gruelling workload and having to catch up on
sleep on my evenings off. A dreadful 6 months for
both of us. It was one of the worst times in my life.

Well today we had a fairly leisurely day – a pub-
meal out at lunchtime at The Golden Fleece - a
selection of tapas plus a small amount of alcohol
– all very nice. We had planned to walk further
into Nottingham centre and try out a vegetarian
restaurant in Hockley, but as the weather was hot
and humid, we settled for the Golden Fleece instead.

We spent the rest of the day food shopping for our
weekend visitors/activities, collected three members
of the family from the station, and did the usual
meal preparation, eating, boozing and chatting.
Daughter S is a classical guitarist and played a
medley of guitar pieces for us, including the
gorgeous Tárrega's Recuerdos de la Alhambra.

We shared a bottle of Hardy’s sparkling wine, made
with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes. It's half-
price in Tesco at the moment, and has an interesting
flavour for a Cava-style wine. We’ll be getting in
some more.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

What do you think about renewing Trident?

Well, what have I been up to in the last few days?
For one thing, I've been busy preparing a talk on
euthanasia, which I gave yesterday to a group of
retired folk like myself. (Nottm U3A members).

I must have spent a good 4 weeks putting together
a lot of medical info about various cancers, heart
disease and strokes - all about what people die of
and the likelihood of anyone developing lung cancer,
plus the risk factors for all these conditions,
followed up by 20 mins or so looking at the current
situation on euthanasia here and abroad. The talk
went very well yesterday, by the way.

It was my first go at putting together a Powerpoint
presentation, which was tons easier that the old
days of making colour slides and acetates for the
overhead projector. I used to give first aid talks
in the 1980s and was also active in the Medical
Campaign against Nuclear Weapons. This was around
the time that Cruise missiles were stationed at
Greenham Common, and the war-mongering talk of
Thatcher and Reagan.

I thought they were scary times - to think of a
US President who had signs of early dementia,
being in charge of launching all those nuclear
weapons, and also with Margaret Thatcher letting
the US use us as a base for all its weaponry.

And then I think of people like Tony Blair &
Gordon Brown, who wish to update our American
Trident missile system - just why do we need a
nuclear deterrent, when most other countries can
manage without one? And what a terrible waste of
money. Gordon Brown announced a top figure of
£25 billion pounds to pay for this upgrade at his
Mansion House speech recently. Well you could
double that, going by how costs tend to escalate
for arms contracts (and the new NHS computerisation
too)... money that could be better spent on
improving health care, education and pensions.

What do you think about renewing our Trident arsenal?

On a happier note, Mrs C and I are getting ready
for a round of family get-togethers over the next
two weekends - there are numerous birthdays, our
34th wedding anniversary and a family wedding too -
a cousin of Mrs C's is getting married, quite late in
life -- similar to his parents who married late too.
He is 42 this year and his dad is now 83.

I'll brighten up this post with another photo of my
great nephew - Little Boy Blue.

Monday, July 17, 2006

death of an aunt

Last Friday I went to the funeral of my Auntie J
in Yorkshire. She lived in a small town not far
from York, but slightly too far from York to make
it easy to visit her. She was widowed at 40 and
struggled to bring up her 5 lads on her own.
Later on she took in her disabled mum, and they
all lived in a small 3 bed-roomed council house.
How did they manage to live like that?

J had a grammar school education, but left to
become a secretary to a law firm, and later when
she was bringing up her children on her own, she
became a school cook, cycling 3 miles to the school
and 3 miles back every day in all weathers.

She was not a moaner, even when in later life she
became badly disabled with generalised arthritis,
heart problems, deafness and latterly minimal
eyesight. She became more and more dependent on
various members of her family, who lived in the

I last saw her when she came to my dad’s funeral
in 1992. She was too disabled to attend my mum’s
in 2003, but we kept in touch by occasional letter
writing and via one of her sons, who is one of the
family historians. I’m another one, so she was
interested to hear the latest news on what I’d
found out.

She died of a massive stroke after being in York
County Hospital for 5 days. I didn’t hear the news
until a couple of days before her funeral. I felt
shocked and saddened by her death, and felt tearful
seeing her grieving family at the funeral. I don’t
like going to funerals – seeing family and friends
crying sets me off crying too – I generally feel
more sad for the surviving relatives than the
deceased, except for when my dad and mum died.

I was surprised to receive a condolence card from
my sister & brother-in-law today, though it was kind
of them to send it. I never built up a close
relationship with Auntie J –- I never got to truly
love her, so I don’t feel very emotional about her
death. That’s a sad thing to say about my dad’s one
and only sister.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

New for old?

A couple more thoughts on the subject of why do
people like myself save things. For some older
people, I think it’s a hangover from the days of
economic austerity during and just after WW2 – a lot
of stuff was kept for recycling rather than throwing
it out. Our economy relies on people buying new
items all the time (eg cars and electrical
equipment), to keep up with the Joneses.

I’m quite happy to carry on using my old Windows 98
computer, which is pre-Pentium, until it dies on me,
rather than buy a new machine every few years. If I
were more into computer games, graphic design and
composing music, then I would be buying new
machinery and software.. but I’m not. A younger
member of my family has a completely different
attitude, and updates everything he owns frequently
– and encourages me to do the same, in a teasing way.

It’s the same with cars, we have an old (L reg)
Peugeot 306 diesel car, which goes well. Repair bills
are quite high, but depreciation is minimal. One of
my affluent neighbours has just changed his motor –
he kept his last car a couple of years during which
time it depreciated about £12k. He has just bought
a newly new Mercedes, which looks fab.. Why do
people change their cars so quickly – are the repair
bills and reliability so bad?

I think another reason for holding onto things from
the past is bound up with feelings of loss, or
holding onto good memories from the past...which
sounds contradictory. I recall seeing a TV series,
about decluttering people’s houses, where the TV
presenter and her team of workers emptied out all
the clutter. Most of the participants were in tears
about letting go of items like baby clothes, or a
shawl that belonged to a granny. Usually a
compromise was reached whereby the owner was
allowed to keep a few treasured items from the past,
and to put them up on a wall/shelf for display. All
the junk was lobbed.

I’m gradually coming round to this way of thinking.
I can’t take it all with me when I’m dead, and
then which member of the family would want my
clapped-out old computer, a rusting car, and my old
audio-tape collection? Nothing of any value to take
along to the "Antiques Roadshow" in years to come.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

"Might be of use one day"

The above phrase is another of my feeble excuses
for keeping a lot of clutter in the house. There
may be a grain of truth in the view that I’ve
inherited or learned this hamster-like behaviour
from my parents and my late aunt, but I think this
would be a poor excuse.

Auntie was a strange woman to put it mildly. She
rarely threw anything out except for food refuse
and newspapers, and so when she died we had to do
a massive house clearance job. She was a retired
headmistress who lived with her mother, for most
of her mother’s life. Both lived to a ripe old age
– Nana died aged 97 in 1974, Auntie aged 92 in 1998.

Auntie lived in a modest 3 bed-roomed semi in Leeds,
the top floor of which was waist-high in clutter,
mainly inside poly bags. There was a narrow alleyway
through the mountain of poly bags to her bed in the
front bedroom. I recall one funny story, when she
asked my dad to fetch her some cash she had hidden
inside her bedroom wardrobe – this was when she was
in hospital for a gallbladder operation. Dad managed
to prise open the wardrobe door, whereupon a huge
avalanche of tins of Boots Freesia Talc fell down
from the top of the wardrobe onto him.

Not only were there masses of clutter inside Auntie’s
house, but also inside her decaying wooden garage,
which was full of sodden mouldy rubbish. In amongst
all this we found an old schoolboy’s cap of her
brother’s, who died when he was 15 of meningitis.
The cap was wet and the metal badge was rusting.
Nearby was a letter of condolence from his school’s
headmaster to Nana, saying how much everyone at the
school missed him. I felt sad to see these, but we
lobbed them and the rest of the garage contents.

Going through the clutter in Auntie’s cupboard drawers,
we found a poly bag containing some broken parts of an
old vacuum cleaner – bits of brown Bakelite (anyone
remember Bakelite plastic?). Auntie had labelled the
bag with this message, “Might be of use, one day”.
She wrote the same message on a good quality black
bin liner, the only problem being that there was a
large hole in the bottom of the bag. Crazy woman.

We did salvage a few things of use from her house –
my mum had the pleasure of wearing some of the
jewelry that Auntie had locked away all her life
(a few pieces of which belonged to my mum). Also an
electric hob with two rings on it, which was handy
when we had our kitchen done (in this house and in
the previous one also). We saved a few other bits:
some crockery, and a plastic watering can for indoor
use. We got rid of everything else, either to the
charity shops or into three large skips. The smell
of what we got rid of was appalling – a rank, musty
smell that invaded our clothing, skin and hair, and
which was impregnated everything in the house. Yuck!

To end on, here is a photo of the two sisters, Auntie
aged about 12 and my mum aged about 4. Pretty, aren't

Monday, July 10, 2006


Why do some people collect more and more clutter,
or to rephrase that, why do I collect more clutter,
year upon year? Mrs C and I have just emptied our
loft, and I'm surrounded by loads of the stuff, on
this top floor. I have to admit that nearly all of
it is mine, and most of it are books I'll very
rarely read, if ever.... excuse me a minute, while
I make myself more comfortable in the psychiatrist's
Well, there are lots of reasons, which I'll tell you
about in this and in future blogs.
There is the "just in case" reason. To give you one
example, I've got several ancient recipe books,
handwritten by my parents, with recipes handed down
from their family and friends, and also those
collected by themselves. Recipes that take me
back vividly to happy times as a child.

I was looking through one of the books, which is
falling apart at the seams, yesterday and today ...
there I saw my dad's recipe for bilberry pie - this
was delicious when topped with some cream or Bird's
custard. Would you fancy eating some treacle scones,
fresh out of the oven, with a small amount of butter
melting inside them? Did you ever have baked egg
custard (not in pastry) made by your mum or dad?
This book is full of gorgeous treats (and some not-
so-nice ones too).
I'm in good company here, as the sex-goddess of
cookery, Nigella Lawson, told us that she treasures
her grandmother's personal cookery book, which has
lots of lovely recipes inside...traditional Jewish
or European recipes, that are part of her family
history in a way.
I've had a few goes at making the treacle scones, by
the way, and they're delicious. I also found a carrot
cake recipe in this book, which my sister L adored
(so I've just emailed it to her).
Well, a minimalist might say, "Well, you could find
all these recipes on the internet, so why do you keep
an ancient cookbook?" My answer is that I'm keeping
it for sentimental reasons, not "just in case" I
want to look up a recipe.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

a day of mixed emotions

It’s been a day of highs and lows today. First of
all the excitement of watching the last half of the
Men’s Wimbledon final, and later on, the World Cup
Final ... all that compared to the deep sadness we
felt visiting our daughter S and her female partner
M in Leeds this morning.
They’ve been together as a couple for over 4 years ..
.. part of that time they were living together in
Holland, and latterly they both found jobs and set
up home together in Leeds.
They made a mutual decision to split up a month or
so ago, but decided to stay in touch with each other
as good friends.
Seeing them today was very sad for all of us, as
today was probably the last time we’ll see M. We
helped her move house today, to her new place in
Headingley. So there were lots of tears all round,
as M had become like a daughter to us.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Good news for Tesco

Well, sort of good news, in that I’ve just put in
a huge online order at Tesco's, for the first
time in about 5 years. It took about 20 minutes or
so to re-register - I’d forgotten my password, and
when I did retrieve it, there’s no way I would
have remembered it. We’ve moved house since my last
Tesco shop.

I used to help out my late mother with a monthly
online Tesco shop for her. She lived in Leeds and we
used to arrange for the delivery to arrive shortly
after we arrived ourselves for a weekend visit. Even
though it took me about 50 minutes each time to do
the online shop for her (she’d order hard-to-find
items and would change the quantities of her
favourites each time), it was loads quicker than
taking her to her nearest Tesco on Roundhay Road.
My mum was almost as short-sighted as me, but refused
to wear her specs when out food shopping in Tesco, so
it took her ages to find anything. She used to wander
around the store like Mr Magoo, while Mrs C and I
did the bulk of her shopping.

Something that might interest you is that Tesco have
got a special offer on some Australian red and white
wine – online it’s at half price at about £3.50 a
bottle, and recommended by Jane MacQuitty of The
Times last week. It’s Calloways Crossing Cabernet
Shiraz and the Chardonnay. We’ve tried a bottle of
each already, and I rate the Chardonnay as being top
quality (worth £7-8 a bottle) and the Cab Shiraz on
par with Jacob’s Creek. However, Mrs C thinks the red
wine is the bees-knees. The offer closes on 18 July.

I found the Tesco site a lot easier to navigate around.
Our having Broadband helps enormously. The NTL dial-up
internet service we had 5 years ago wasn’t very good for
online shopping or banking – it used to disconnect itself
after a short while – bloody annoying in fact.

Well, it’s nearly time for coffee, after which Mrs C and
I will be emptying our loft, in readiness for an
electrician to put some lighting in. A joiner is coming
round too, to give us estimates to put more insulation
down, to “floor-board” the loft, and to put in a folding
ladder for us.

Friday, July 07, 2006

A narrow escape: 7/7 remembered

As you all know, it was a year ago when those
dreadful bombings occurred in the centre of London.
52 people killed and hundreds injured. Our
son-in-law was the first person to tell us the news
- he phoned to ask if we'd heard from our daughter L.
in London. We had to wait anxiously for several
hours before we heard from her to say she was OK.

L. was in her final year of fashion design at a
London college, and was on her way into college on
the Underground, when the trains came to a rapid
halt. She was told that there'd been an electrical
failure affecting the entire Underground system.
Not only that but L. realised that there were no
buses running either, and her mobile phone network
was down too. She said that Central London had an
eerie feel to it.
So she walked from the centre all the way back home
to South Wimbledon, which took her ages. When she
got in, she turned on the TV to see what was going
on. It was then that she used her landline to phone
everyone to say she was OK. Had she caught the
Northern Line train a few minutes earlier, she
could have been killed.

A day later, one of my sisters emailed me to say
that a niece of her ex-husband was on one of the
bombed trains, but was not badly injured. She had
to be led to safety through the wreckage, the
injured and the human remains. She was badly
affected by the incident.

I was walking around Nottingham City centre this
afternoon, and passed a closed-down shop from which
there coming a strange beeping sound, a bit like a
security alarm arming itself. My immediate thought
was, "Christ, it's a time bomb!", so I legged it.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

footie, scan and photo

Mrs C and I watched the footie last night ...
brilliant result for France, n'est-ce pas? We
thought the footie was excellent... better quality
play than England's, I'm sorry to say.

Daughter L phoned us yesterday with her latest
scan news... the little mite is 2.5 cm long, at
about 9 weeks. It's got a big head and a little
bum, (a bit like me). She won't get an accurate
forecast of when the baby is due until her next
scan at 12 weeks.

At half-time in last night's footie match, I nipped
out into the garden and took some flower photos
(while Mrs C was watering the plants). Here is the
pick of the bunch.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Link rollovers

“What’s this madman on about now”, you may be
thinking? Having sex in the middle of a golf course?

Well, that would be more thrilling than my following
description, of how to change the appearance of your
HTML links to other pages/websites (when you roll
your mouse pointer over them). As some of you will
have seen, I’m constantly tinkering with this
blogsite, as I like trying out new things.

I’m a newbie to building websites and more so as
regards understanding HTML. With a lot of help from
one of my friends, I’ve had a go at building some
simple websites with Dreamweaver 4, but to change
this Blogger site, I’ve had to learn a bit of HTML.

Earlier this week, I added link rollovers to a couple
of websites, by reading up the subject on the internet
and by pasting in the correct code. I’ve noticed that
Dreamweaver MX can do this for you, but not the older
version of Dreamweaver that I have.

As you know, Blogger already has link rollovers on
its sites, but I wanted to remove the underlining
and change the colour scheme of the links. So I’ve
done that with this website, and I hope you like
the changes, albeit slight. By the way, I’ve made
the “visited” links the same colour as the ordinary
links. I was fed up with seeing Blogger's mauve

To have a go yourselves, you need to go to the
template page, and then scroll a short distance down
the template section until you see, just below “body”
and then “text”, a set of instructions for the links...

a: link
a: visited .... for the visited links
a: hover .... for the “link rollovers”

You can change the colours of these links to
anything you like, and in the “hover” section, you
can change the text decoration from “underline” to

There’s a useful set of colour charts on Wikipedia,
which I’ve used a lot. The colours I chose for my
links, to show up on a navy blue background were:
a cool blue … #3A92D3, and cornsilk … #FFF8DC.
To save your new settings, you select the orange
“save template changes”, then the navy blue
“republish”, and when you are 100% published, you
can then have a look at your efforts via the sandy
coloured “View Blog”.

What I think beginners like myself would appreciate
is some help from more experienced bloggers, to help
them do simple things like the above, and advice on
how to create a whole range of effects, such as
banners, interesting backgrounds, and adding
photographs, a hit counter and other stuff to the
column at the side. You will see from the websites
I link to, that there is considerable expertise out
there, but are fellow bloggers willing to share
their knowledge?

I’ve been having a look at a professional web
designer’s site, Gordon McLean’s, about how he
“spruced up” Zoe’s blogsite ... here’s the link
to it, if you’re interested.

I’m interested in doing something similar one day,
setting up my own website with Dreamweaver or
Wordpress, buying a domain name (which costs about
£5 a year from, and then using
Blogger to host it. I would have to work out how
to blend the two together, and how to set up things
like the comments box and an archives section.

More fun times ahead, then.

P.S. Did you see the two goals Italy scored against
Germany last night? Brilliant goals and an
exceptionally good performance from both teams, I
(PS: link colour altered slightly on 10 July)

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

car stickers

Don’t you just love those dangly stickers that
some drivers stick in the back windows of their
cars? The latest one I’ve seen is one being
marketed by Mothercare, proclaiming “Princess on
Board” on a bright pink background. The idea
behind this according to the company is that it
“alerts other drivers and emergency services that
you are carrying precious cargo”.

Well, that solves that mystery then, for I was
beginning to wonder if someone had resurrected
Princess Di.

I remember the comedian Jasper Carrott having one
of his usual rants on a TV show, a good many years
ago. He went on at length about his disgust at
seeing a car sticker in a rear car window, saying
“Baby on Board”, which told all the world that the
driver had got a baby. JC thought it was one-
upmanship on the part of the driver, and offensive
to childless couples. Yes, that’s British humour
for you, or Jasper’s version of it.

On our way driving down to London last weekend, I
took a detour from the MI, and drove down the A43
to join the M40 and then the M25 near Heathrow.
While I was slowing down to about 50 mph on the
approach to one of several roundabouts on the A43,
I could tell that there was an impatient white van
driver behind me, trying to nudge me along (as they
do). I got two sharp blasts on his car horn as he
sped off in another direction at the roundabout ...
bloody annoying! I felt like making a rude hand
gesture, but I'm not one for a punch-up.

Well shortly after that, I hit upon an idea, that
would probably sell well with some of the royalties
going to an American film company
.... a car sticker
announcing, “Mr Magoo on Board”. How appropriate if
I had one, for I've just read a brief description of
this cartoon character ... “Mister Magoo, a crotchety,
nearsighted, lovable old coot”, which describes me

Monday, July 03, 2006

Here's a riddle for you

This was told to me by a 12 year old lad at the
"What's there in a moment, also in minute, but
not in a thousand years".
I'll tell you the answer in a couple of days, if
no-one gets the right answer.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Our trip to London

Mrs C and I have just got back from a fairly
relaxing weekend in London. We sat around mainly
just chatting and watching the footie, plus some
cooking, eating and drinking, catching up on all
the news and chatting about our daughter L’s
pregnancy. The foetus is now about 8 weeks old
and is the size of a grape. L is feeling very well,
apart from the usual tiredness and a little nausea.

Apart from a brief sortie to Wimbledon Tesco, we
didn’t go anywhere as it was too hot to stay outside
in the sun. It was 31 deg C, as will the temps be
for the coming week. I pity the poor buggers playing
tennis in Wimbledon and footie abroad ... how do
they manage to play in the terrible heat?

We all felt sad with the demise of England in the
World Cup yesterday ... the BBC broadcast a
compilation of the highs and lows of England’s
performance in the World Cup, shortly after the end
of the game, accompanied by a very mournful but
wonderful piece of classical music, featuring a
string orchestra and a female soprano voice (Mrs C
thinks it’s a piece by Philip Glass, that’s often
played on Classic FM, and I agree with her). The
BBC showed it again in the early morning news
coverage today. I felt very sad for all the team
and the fans too. Oh well, it’s only a game.