Saturday, February 28, 2009

Hola !

Mrs C and I got back from Lanzarote towards midnight on Thursday.
Since then, I’ve been busy catching up on all those little things
to do, like opening up a backlog of mail and email (and replying
to it all), some food shopping, popping round to see the neighbours
to thank them for looking after our cats (and catching up with
their news), and latterly I’ve been trawling through loads of
holiday snaps that both Mrs C and I took. I’ve whittled mine down
to about 185 photos … so that’s about another 85 to remove in due
course … I aim to keep only the best. (When I’m dead, who’s going
to look at them all anyway?!)

I’ll put up a few holiday photos for you in due course, but I thought
I’d show you one of them, which attempts to give various reasons why
a beer is better than a woman ~ as if.

I’ve brewed some of my own beer in the past, and I can give you some
first-hand information .... that I’ve never had a good conversation
with a pint of home-brew, and that I’ve never been able to have sex
with it.

As for reason number 6, that hangovers go away, well I can tell you
that women will go away as well. I can’t really think of any reason
why a bottle of beer could be superior to a woman, can you?

To re-dress the balance, I invite you to give me 10 reasons why a
glass of good white wine is better than the average bloke.

Perhaps, for starters, some of you might agree with the following:

A glass of white wine (and a book) … is good company while Someone Else
is watching footie on the TV.

Any comments please …

Monday, February 16, 2009

What we did in the last few days ...

I sold our old Peugeot 306 to a friend of a friend, for a bargain price,
and bought a 5 year old Renault Megane Scenic (Dynamique 120 CDI) from a
member of our extended family (at trade price). 55k miles on the clock.
It looks in mint condition, and it drives beautifully.

It looks like the one in the photo HERE, except that it's got twin sun
-roofs. It's our best car to date (having bought a series of bangers
over the past 40 years).

I hope this will keep us going for another 10 years or so, as we don't
use the car much except for the occasional trips to see family around
the UK, and for UK holidays.

I had a fun time sorting out the car insurance online. With hindsight,
I should have phoned our insurers for the Peugeot and just paid more for
a few months' insurance up to the annual renewal date ~ this would have
saved me a lot of time and stress. "You live and learn".

On Saturday evening, Mrs C and I motored down to Leicester for a St.
Valentine's Day concert with the LSO and some truly brilliant soloists
(singers and a pianist). We had a lovely evening meal put on by relatives
we have there, and then went into town for the concert. It was a fantastic
programme and a fantastic performance.

Yesterday, we went off to the Broadway Cinema to see Woody Allen's latest
film: "Vicky Cristina Barcelona" ~ one of his best I think ~ all about the
ups and downs of love, very well written and directed by WA. Gorgeous scenery
of Barcelona and the surrounding countryside. Mrs C wishes to go there as
part of her special birthday celebrations in Summer 2010. Gorgeous actors

Talking about holidays, we off to Lanzarote soon for a week's break, so my
next blog could be around 1 March, unless I get a yen to do some blogging
in an internet cafe there. If the weather's good, I hope to bring back some
fab photos to show you. I'm feeling excited about going there (a bit like how
Noddy felt, when he set off in his car with Big Ears for a seaside holiday).

I was a keen reader as a kid. :)

Talk to you soon.

Thursday, February 12, 2009


It snowed yet again quite heavily - just when I thought it was
going to get milder. The roads and pavements are very slippery,
with some cars sliding around going uphill.
I spent half the day, trying out ~ creating a small
website for the charity I work for. It was amazing simple to put
together, and very easy to edit later in the day. So if you wish
to set up a site for an interest group of yours, I can recommend
this service to you.
In the morning, I spent a couple of hours at our Computer Club
(aka Nerds Anonymous) at the U3A. One of my colleages gave a talk
on computer security matters. It was fairly basic stuff, but we
cater for a mixed ability group of people. I had a mug of coffee
straight after this, catching up on a bit of U3A and personal
gossip, with friends.
Mrs C and I had a lovely evening meal at Mrs C's mum's ~ trout
fillet with veg ++. She is a sprightly 88 year old who lives near
us, in a ground floor flat. She's amazingly fit for her age, and
often walks into the City Centre as we do, for shopping and
entertainment. She got an OU degree in History of Art a few years
ago, after 12 years of part-time study... she left school to train
and work as a secretary many years ago.
In the evening, Mrs C and I settled down to watch an episode of
"It's not easy being green", followed by "Hustle" - the last
episode of the current series ~ good light entertainment.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Bizarre weather and odd family

We've been watching news coverage of the horrendous fires around
Melbourne in Australia, and the continuing heat wave there (47 deg C)
~ what an awful nightmare to have to live in searing heat like that.
And then our own weather forecast straight after the news ... our
winter freeze is continuing this week with snow blizzards in the
south of England coming our way, in the next 24 hours or so. What
a contrast. However, I'd rather live here well wrapped up in extra
layers, than sweating it out in the desert heat of Australia.

One of my sisters (S) is coming over to visit us this week, driving all
the way from Strasbourg in France. This has become an annual trip for
her ~ to visit various family members here and a few old schoolfriends
of hers.

S is slightly younger than me (or "than I" if you prefer), and we were
great playmates as children. It was great to meet her girlfriends when
I was a teenager, as I went to a single-sex secondary school (as did S.).
I was very shy of girls then, and my social skills are still not very

During our university days and after S moved to France as a career
move (and later married a French bloke), we've seen less and less of
each other. Now we just exchange the occasional email and make an
occasional phone call to each other.

It's sad that we're no longer close to each other, but we've both
developed our own circle of friends and family. We've just drifted apart,
and neither of us feels the need to get closer again.

Whenever she comes over to stay in Nottingham, she always books into
a hotel, rather than come and stay with us (despite our repeated offers
to her to put her feet up here). She has said that we can do the same
if we ever come over to see her in Strasbourg .... book ourselves into a
hotel rather than stay in her huge apartment (or at her country villa).
All of this appears somewhat strange to us, and unfriendly.

Oh well. I suppose she must dislike having to do extra cleaning around
the house (not that we're very keen on doing extra housework either).

"There's nowt so strange as family!"

Thursday, February 05, 2009

A bit more snow today

We had lots more lovely snow last night and this morning. Lovely
fresh snow, the sort of stuff which feels rather sensual to walk
on ... somewhere between firm and soft, but crunchy at the same

The snow wasn't so nice later on, when half-melted and spattered
with grey muck thrown across by passing cars. Mrs C and I went to
our third beginners' German class this afternoon, but rather than
do our usual walk into town, we caught the bus at the end of our
road (there and back). As I'm now an old git, I qualify for free
bus travel (on most buses nationwide), which is a great thing to
have in many ways. However, I walk as much as poss to get some
exercise, unless the weather's bad.

Here are a couple of early morning photos, taken from inside our
house ...

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Yes, we've had a little snow.

We had some lovely sunshine today, after yesterday's snow and freezing
conditions overnight, so I hopped on a bus this morning to Woodthorpe
Park, to photograph the snow and everyone there. There were lots of
schoolkids there plus a few parents, all having fun. (Many schools
were closed today owing to the bad weather ... and parents can't go
work leaving children at home by themselves, can they?)

(click on the photo to see a larger version)

Later on, Mrs C and I walked into the city centre for a free two course meal
(and a bottle of NZ chardonnay), courtesy of John Lewis. Well we must be one
of their best customers, as we do most of our non-food shopping there. As for
food, we using Waitrose quite a lot for our food shopping too ~ Waitrose is
a branch of John Lewis, and it's just opened a large supermarket across the
road from the JL shop.

Our main transport services were badly hit by the heavy snow and ice
yesterday. Most of the London airports were closed for the day, there were
no buses running in London. The M25 motorway around London was gridlocked
owing to car and lorry accidents (a 54 mile gridlock part of the day) ~ so
everything ground to a halt.

Meanwhile I heard from a friend today that his son in Moscow is enjoying
temperatures of minus 30 Centigrade. The transport services are all
working normally, despite the snow and ice (with slippery walking conditions).
What are we doing wrong, I wonder? How about fitting snow tyres to all
vehicles, before the snow comes?

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Our new cat flap

We've had light snow and hail showers today, here in the Midlands.
and the outside is looking pretty with a few cms of fresh snow.

I spent most of today installing yet another cat flap into our rear
garage door, so I've been working with the door open to the elements,
which made the job challenging to say the least. We're going for the
micro-chip cat flap made by Petport. Our cats have been terrorised by
a neighbour's tom cat - a very handsome and huge ginger and white tom
(which I suspect is a relative of ours from its colouring). One of our
cats ended up with some infected bites after a very noisy cat fight
(though it's possible that she was bitten by one of the foxes round
here). The tom cat comes into our house (mainly at night), eats the
cat food, has a good spray around everywhere, and uses the cat tray
as well ~ a well-trained cat :)

A couple of months ago, I fitted a Staywell cat flap in the garage
door, which had several locking options on it, but this tom cat
managed to claw/head-butt its way through the locked doors, in and

Not surprisingly, our cats refuse to use the garage cat flaps to
enter/leave our house, so we've had to let them in & out through our
patio doors.

Last week, we had both our cats chipped (and had their teeth cleaned
as well under GA). The bill for all this came to £315, of which £40
was for the micro-chipping.

During the next few days, Mrs C and I will be having fun and games
training our cats to use the new cat flap. We're keeping our fingers
crossed that the new cat flap will keep the tom outside.

If you click on this link to microchipcatflaps, and wait about half
a minute, a video of James and his cat Biscuit will appear.