Monday, March 30, 2009

Recycled joke for you

I don't usually send people jokes, but I received this one
today from a friend, which I think is brilliant.

A 75 Year Old Lady rings her local hospital and this conversation follows:

'Hello I'd like some information on a patient, Mrs Tiptree.

She was admitted last week with chest pains and I just
want to know if her condition has deteriorated, stabilised
or improved?'

'Do you know which ward she is in?'

'Yes, ward P, room 2B'

'I'll just put you through to the nurse station.'

'Hello, ward P, how can I help?'

'I would just like some information on a patient, Mrs
Tiptree, I was wondering if her condition had deteriorated,
stabilised or improved?'

'I'll just check her notes. I'm pleased to say that Mrs
Tiptree's condition has improved. She has regained her
appetite, her temperature has steadied and after some
routine checks tonight, she should be well enough to go
home tomorrow.'

'Oh that's wonderful news, I'm so happy, thank you ever
so much!'

'You seem very relieved, are you a close friend or relative?'

'No, I'm Mrs Tiptree in room 2b. They tell you f**k all
in here.'

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The clocks went forward last night ...

I spent half of today wondering what the time was, as the clocks went
forward an hour as you all know. Both Mrs C and I got up fairly late
(around 9am new time), so breakfast for us kind of merged into coffee
time. We sat around doing some more of the Times Saturday jumbo
crossword, did a little internet surfing, plus a bit of cat training,
encouraging Miss D to use the new microchip cat flap. We had three
goes at getting her through the cat flap from outside the house,
putting her in a cat basket and releasing her into the house.
(We'll do this a few more times this coming week, until Miss D gets
used to using the cat flap).

At lunchtime, we listened to the Food Programme on Radio 4, which was
all about the ongoing controversy about the imbalance of Omega 3 and
Omega 6 fatty acids in our diet, and whether this is of any importance
in the development of cardio-vascular disease, arthritis and mental
ill-health. It seems that we're all eating far too much Omega 6 compared
with Omega 3 (which is found in oils from fish, flax seed and I gather
rape seed too).

This radio programme will be available online until next Saturday, if
you're interested.

This afternoon we both walked into town to see the film "Two Lovers",
James Gray's latest film at The Broadway Cinema. Brilliant acting from
all the actors, especially Joaquin Phoenix, Gwyneth Paltrow, and
Vinessa Shaw, who were in the lead roles. If you'd like to know more
about the film, have a look at the IMDB site, HERE. I give the film a
five star rating ~ I think it's a must-see.

In terms of sex appeal for me, Gwyneth is great, but Vinessa is stunning.
You'll get several glimpses of her without all the glam make-up in the
following trailer from the film.

After tea, we settled down to watching some TV drama: "Come Dine With Me",
and "The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency". We videoed "Lewis" and "Damages".

Now, I'm thinking about going to bed early, at the new time of midnight.

Friday, March 27, 2009

This week

In the earlier part of this week, I've been busy repainting the walls
and ceiling of our kitchen. I've used the same colour paint (Homebase
Cream Matt emulsion), for speed ... I got away with just putting on
the one coat of paint, instead of having to put on the usual two coats.

We're going for a lighter sunshine yellow in the adjacent dining area.
I've already put on one coat of this (Crown Gentle Yellow) in the
bay window area, but it's going to need 1-2 more coats to cover up the
original darker yellow.

So the painting took up 2-3 days, and I've spent the rest of the week
attending U3A events and doing related paperwork. Today I also went to
meet up with a couple of friends for some "jammin'" ... playing electric
guitars and singing some golden oldies (mainly by His Bobness). One of
my pals brought along his recording desk and mikes, as he'd like to
record our efforts for posterity / a bit of fun, but setting it all up
to work properly was very difficult (he was recording a lot of feed-back
from one of the amps). So next time, we'll have a purely acoustic
session (different guitars and no amplification ~ unplugged).

After a couple of frustrating hours we gave up and set off for one
of the pubs in town ... "Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem", which is one of
the places to see for all tourists coming to Nottingham.

Here are a couple of website links ... the lovely photo on the second
website will give you some idea how olde it is. It's situated just
below Nottingham Castle, and it's built into/onto the sandstone cliff

The ales and the spicy veg soup which we supped were excellent, but
with the place being so small and popular, the only spare tables were
in a sandstone cave alongside the main bar. I've passed this pub on
numerous occasions in the past 30+ years, but never ventured inside it,
until today!

The pub was built in 1189 (according to the pub sign), so I've just had
a "Google"/ an ogle to see what was going on in English history at that

Richard the Lionheart came to the throne in 1189, and was succeeded by
his brother John, ten years later.

Now where does the dastardly Sheriff of Nottingham fit in with all this?

Is there any truth in the Robin Hood legend, I wonder, or is it all
make-believe (invented by Ye Olde Nottingham Tourist Board)? If Robin did
exist, I wonder if he ever popped in for a quick half at this pub?

I recall visiting an exhibition of medieval relics put on by a Robin
Hood society at Nottingham Castle. I was amazed to see a grubby white
vest inside a glass display case, which was said to have been worn by
Robin Hood.
Well, well! What a find!

On closer inspection, I spotted that the vest had a label on it ...

"Made in Hong Kong".

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Sending text messages

Are there differences between men and women as regards how much they
use their mobile phone, I wonder? And thinking about predictive
texting, are some phones better than others?

I use my “handy” (as the Dutch and Germans call it) very rarely …
only for emergency use, such as when I’ve forgotten which brown sugar
Mrs C requested for baking a cake (so I phone her or send her a text
message) … or when I’ve pre-arranged to stay in touch by mobile phone
with someone.

I tend to contact friends and family by landline phone or by email,
partly because of the fact that our local and national phone calls
are free 24/7 with the Virgin Media contract we’re on. Also I’m
fairly useless at using my mobile (as I haven’t used it enough) … it
takes me 5-10 minutes to send a text message, whereas Mrs C who must
send about 10 texts a day, sends one off in a flash.

In the past, I’ve had the predictive texting switched off on my phone,
as I’ve felt very annoyed having to correct the simple errors it makes.
However, I’m going to give predictive texting another go, now that
I’ve become more au fait with how to correct mistakes, and feel more
familiar with using the phone.

Two-three weeks ago, I read Rudyard Kipling’s poem, “If”, on Little
Old Me’s blogsite, and on the same day, I heard an interesting
discussion on Radio 4 about the poem.

An academic had had a bit of fun writing out the poem using the
predictive text on his mobile. However when he read it out, I could
hardly recognise the poem. Yes, this is how academics in university
English departments have a bit of fun.

One thing I found out was that the word “If” translates to “He” ~
you didn’t know that amazing fact, now did you?

So the other morning, I thought I’d put my old Nokia phone to the
test. I had a play around with all the options on my phone, as you do,
and found “Predictive texting” … I was offered two more options:
“Normal” and “Word Suggestions”, but when using both options, I
couldn’t find any difference between them (perhaps one of you
could tell me if there is?).

Anyway, I typed away in predictive text the opening four lines of
the poem…

IF you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;

I was amazed by the results of my test. Apart from tripping up on
the word, “If”, my Nokia was 100% correct. I was very impressed.

So, I’m left wondering what type of phone the academic used? Are
some phones better than others at predictive texting? And do you
think women send more text messages than men?

Friday, March 20, 2009

Lovely warm sunshine

Yes, we've had warm sunshine for the past 2 days. Lovely Spring
weather. White almond tree blossom. Golden daffodils. All the
birds were twittering (and no doubt a few nerds were twittering

I spent part of this morning food shopping in town, while Mrs C
cooked a chocolate almond cake and also made us some leek and
potato soup .... mmmm.

Later on, after drinking a mug of strong coffee, I painted an old
wooden trellis (which had blown down in a gale a few months ago).
This trellis supports a lovely climbing rose, which I think is
Madame Alfred Carriere. I'll put the trellis and the rose back
into position tomorrow.

Inside the house, I've made a start on redecorating our dining room,
and kitchen, something which I've put off for months. I've had to
patch up some plasterwork, which was damaged by penetrating damp
last Summer.

This little job didn't take me all that long, and hour or two, if
you count clearing away all the indoor plants and clutter, putting
down protective sheeting, etc, etc.. Tomorrow I'll neaten it all up,
and then make a start on painting the ceilings.

For our evening meal, we had part 2 of a bean and veg stew with
green veg, plus a couple of small glasses of Chilean Sauvignon
Blanc. Afterwards, we settled down to watch some TV ... "A Place
in the Sun: Home or California (Santa Barbara looked great, as did
the £1 million homes), and the anarchic comedy "Moving Wallpaper".
We've videoed 2 programmes: "Free Agents" and "Criminal Minds".

Thursday, March 19, 2009

More photos of Little J, our grandson

Here are a couple more photos of Little J, who came to see us a couple
of days ago, along with his big sister, Shibby. We look after Shibs about
once a week, to give her mum a break. She's very lively, and likes a lot
of attention / activity.

Little J is nearly 6 months old now, and as you can see, he's not far off
sitting up on his own. He's got a very quiet and happy nature, just like me.

I'm fascinated by how these little children learn to speak proper.

Shibbykins is using the word "maybe" a lot. "Maybe the cat's gone out
to play". I'm amazed at how grown-up her conversation is becoming, even
though her speech is difficult to understand at times.

And her cousin, Litte Mini, is now using the words: "I'd better just"
at the beginning of her sentences.... "I'd better just tidy up"!! She's
become Mummy's helper, passing L. a bath towel after her shower,
helping her hang up the laundry, etc.. Just as well, as her baby sister
is due in under one month's time. Mrs C and I will be going down to
London to help out too, as L is planning on a home birth.

I've got to dash off to our beginners' German Conversation class, so
TTFN (ta-ta for now).

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

To blog or not to blog ~ that is the question...

but could “slow blogging” be the answer?

From time to time I read about bloggers who get tired of blogging and
who give up completely … a sad loss to the blogging community, I think.

Not so long ago, I announced that I would take a year off blogging, to
give myself a break from having to constantly think about new ideas to
write about, so as not to bore my readers.

However, during my time off blogging, I was still reading other
people’s blogs, and I started to feel I was missing out on my writing.
Also, I felt I was missing out on contact with my readers, with whom
I’d enjoyed corresponding.

Today, I was reading through a couple of old weekend colour
supplements, when I came across a reference to Todd Sieling’s
Slow Blog Manifesto ~ It happens when it happens.”

You will see that he favours taking time to think about things … and
not to feel obliged to post masses of stuff in order to build up or
maintain a high readership, or to chase after a high Google Page
Ranking. Who really needs the latter, unless the blog is relevant to
your business, or if you’re making money out of the advertising
carried on your site?

The downside of rarely posting anything is that readers will stop
visiting your site. Perhaps there’s a happy compromise somewhere?

Fat is a taxing issue

Should overweight people pay more income tax than others?

That was one of the questions posed by a member of the
audience in yesterday’s TV programme, aptly called
“ The Big Question”.

Is being fat the result of pure gluttony on the part of the
individual? Are fatties “troughing it”, as one of my nieces
used to say, as we all sat down to eat piles of veg at
meal-times? Or are they afflicted with a “stay-fat-all-your
-life” gene, which excuses them from their bad habits of
over-eating and taking little exercise?

It’s been well documented that overweight people do eat a lot
more than thin ones, and I can testify to that, as one of my
sisters is grossly overweight. She eats far more than I ever
could at one sitting, and can still have room at the end of a
meal to tuck into a large box of Belgian chocolate truffles.

One of the GPs I trained with in my 20s, said that pig farmers
could determine how much weight and fat their pigs would put on,
before slaughter, according to the amount and quality of the
food they gave the pigs to eat. Another comment this Jewish GP
would make from time to time, was that “you never saw any
fatties walk out of Auschwitz”.

Some of his patients said they couldn’t lose any weight on the
low calorie diet he asked them to follow. I recall one funny
true story of an overweight woman who loved eating (fried)
fish and chips. He asked her to cut down on eating so much.
She came back a month later, but she hadn’t lost any weight.
Dr. M asked her about the fish & chips. “Oh, I’ve stopped
eating chips,” she said, “I just eat fish”. But when asked a
bit more about this, she said she was eating 5 fried fish a

Coming back to the idea of asking overweight people to pay
more tax, this does sound a good one, but it is totally
impractical. It would be an administrative nightmare, unless
there were a fully computerised integration of the GP medical
service and the Inland Revenue, which would never happen.

If you’re overweight, you’re more prone to high blood pressure
and getting maturity onset (type 2) diabetes, which both make
you more likely to develop heart disease, strokes and kidney
failure. Also your hip and knee joints are likely to wear out
sooner, and you’ll be more prone to disabling lower back pain
(slipped disc problems).

But if you start penalising the overweight, what about the
smokers who are more prone to chronic lung disease, lung cancer,
heart disease and peripheral vascular disease. Should they
pay more?

And then what about all the people who are keen on mountain
sports and all the other sportsmen & women who injure themselves.
Should they be charged as well either by higher taxation or by
paying for the medical care they receive?

To take this daft line of thinking a bit further, you’d then
have to charge all women who become pregnant for obstetric
services, as men don’t get pregnant, do we? It's perfectly
reasonable that women should pay more for the extra care they

Sunday, March 15, 2009

This weekend ...

... we're not doing a great deal. Well, that's an exciting
start to a blog, isn't it?

We heard some good news early yesterday morning ~ we have
a new great-neice, born in Leicester just after midnight.
Everything went very well, and both parents are now
recovering at home (to catch up on missed sleep). The dad
is taking 4 weeks off work, on paternity leave, to help
out. Dads are lucky to get one week off work with the
current economic climate, though 2 weeks is now officially
permitted by UK Government law.

Tesco is currently offering £4-6 off a weekly shop if you
spend £40 at one go ~ they sent us tokens in the post with
this offer, which is too good to miss. So Mrs C and I went
food & wine shopping yesterday morning, walking into town
and back with a shopping trolley (one of those two-wheeled
thing that old gits like me use). Formerly I would have
carried it all back in a rucksack plus two heavy carrier
bags, but I've had enough of feeling like a donkey carrying
all that weight. Being a "tight bastard", which is what one
of my friendly neighbours calls me, I didn't take the car,
as it would have cost us about £4 in car-parking fees and

There are some excellent wine offers on at present in the
UK shops. Tesco is selling Hardy's "Stamps of Australia"
(Shiraz Cab.Sauvignon) at 3 for £10, and Waitrose Wine
Direct is selling Oxford Landing and Lindeman's wines for
under £4 a bottle. How can they sell such lovely wine for
such a low price (given that the UK tax on each bottle is
about £1.70)? How much profit are the Australian producers
getting, taking into account their production and shipping
costs? And thinking about the recent horrendous fires &
drought in Australia, how can the wine growers stay in

During the past week, there have been demands in the UK
press to increast the tax on alcohol in the shops, as it's
deemed to be too cheap, and that the low price is encouraging
young people to drink too much.

Here's an article written by a health economist who says that
alcohol consumption is definitely related to the price of it.

What would you think about paying £5 for a pint of beer in
a pub, as they do in Norway? High taxation was introduced
by the government there to reduce the amount of alcoholism.

One thing I think Gordon Brown's government should definitely do
is to introduce a total ban on drinking when driving ~ a zero-
tolerance policy. So, drinkers would have to walk to their local
or get there by bus & taxi, and the police should step up
on-the-spot breath tests especially around pub-closing time.

That would be popular, wouldn't it?

Today is looking sunnier, but it feels cold (I haven't yet put
on our gas central heting), but the forecasters say temps should
rise to 14 degrees C this afternoon. Sounds like a nice day for
a walk somewhere & an opportunity to take some more photos.

BTW, I've noticed that the BBC have redesigned its local weather
page, which looks very good (there's a link to a 5 day forecast
also on the right hand side of the page).

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Cat flaps and weight problems

LOM has asked me how our cats are getting on with the new cat flap.

Well, one of the cats (Slayer) is using the new cat flap, the other
(Miss D) isn't, in that I still have to prop the flap open inside
our house, for her to use it.

For those of you who are wondering what I'm talking about, we've
installed a "micro-chip" cat flap, which unlocks when your micro-chipped
cat approaches from the outside (you can program our device to let in
up to 12 cats). The cat flap has several settings on it, so you
could set it to be flappable all the time, have it working only at
night, and have it fully locked too.

The good news is that the neighbour's tom cat is being kept outside,
and is not terrorising them inside our house, eating their food, using
the cat tray and spraying our walls and cupboard doors. Wonderful!

If you’re interested in finding out more, just google “microchip cat
flap” or click HERE. We’ve got the PretPorter cat flap.

A couple of our friends have got one of these, and had similar
problems getting their cats to use it. They’ve told us just to
persevere. So at present, I’m putting Miss D out in the mornings and
letting her back in in the evenings, to see if hunger will bring her
back in. She’ll approach the cat flap to within a few cms of it (when
I’m at the other side tempting her inside), but then she’ll suddenly
run off. Perhaps she can smell the scent of the tom cat, who/which
occasionally has a go at head-butting the cat-flap door?

Our vet has asked us to slim her down a bit as she was one kilo
overweight at her last check-up, and she’s less active than she’s
been in the past (the cat, not the vet), which is a sign of obesity a
too. As she is a medium-sized cat, she should be in the weight range
0f 3.5 to 4.5kg. She is 5.5kg. Her thick winter fur coat hides her
extra weight very well.

Monday, March 09, 2009

The weekend

Apart from having our two gorgeous cats around, our house feels
empty at the moment. L and Mini went back home to London on Saturday
(we drove them half-way down the M1 to the Northampton Services,
where L's partner met up with us). I felt sad for a while, when we
got back home to Nottingham (it's the empty nest feeling), but I
busiest myself with a bit of housework, and doing the Times Saturday
crossword (the easy one) with Mrs C.

For the rest of the weekend, we caught up on a load of TV programmes
we'd videoed over the previous 2 weeks or so ...
Damages (the second series - amazingly good)
Mistresses (an OTT plot but brilliant acting and a must-see)
The Victorians ... a view of Victorian life illustrated with paintings
and architecture of the period, told by Jeremy Paxman.
Lark Rise ~ brilliantly re-created country/village life, though most
outdoor scenes have been enhanced with a golden glow (not much mud or
dirt evident).

We've also been watching a series of BBC 4 documentaries on famous
photographers: Jacques Henri Lartigue, James Ravilious, O. Winston
& Robert Capa (currently half-way through the latter).

Looking at my own photos of the children below, I've noticed that
the photos are suffused with a warm red colour (which is from all the
red fabrics in our living room) ... though perhaps I'm wearing rose-
tinted spectacles?

Friday, March 06, 2009

Little visitors

Well as you can see, Mrs C and I have had some little visitors this
week: Litte A, Mini, and M (their second cousin)... lovely to see them,
and yet another opportunity to get my camera out (a Canon 350DSLR)
and to take some more photos of them. I've put more photos up on my
main Flickr site, if you wish to take a look.

BTW, everyone is running round the coffee table to the song sung by Alma
Cogan: In The Middle of the Track ~ everyone is playing at being trains
(except for me). We've got three CDs of the old radio programme: Children's
Favourites, and the Alma Cogan song and the Teddy Bears Picnic are the most
requested songs on them.

Mini's mum is having her second baby in a few weeks' time, and Mrs C
has been brushing up her hypnotherapy-for-birthing skills, as L wishes
to have the baby at home with the minimum amount of medical/nursing
help/interference. While I'm supportive in all this, I think if I were
a woman about to give birth I'd go for epidural anaesthesia every time
and have the baby in hospital where expert care is quickly at hand if
it's needed. How many of us would think of having a tooth pulled out
without an anaesthetic? Definitely not me.

If you're interested in finding out more about hypnotherapy for
birthing, you could have a look at Marie Mongan's website. She
is based in the U.S., by the way.

There is a defintie feeling of Spring in the air, despite the frosty
nights we're having at the moment. Our snowdrops have been out for over
two weeks now, the multi-coloured crocuses are in full bloom, and our
daffies have got large flower buds on them. It is wonderful to see
life regenerating outside, as well as see new babies arrive and to see
young children running around. I'm starting to feel re-vitalised myself.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

A few holiday snaps for you

Here are a few photos for you. I've been busy sorting through all
my holiday pics, and have put 55 of them up onto my main Flickr site
(should you wish to see more). I've nearly run out of room on the
Flickr site I use for this blog (and don't wish to delete a load of
photos on it to make room for more).

At the same time, I've been putting together a talk on how to set
up a Flickr site, so I've managed to do a Powerpoint presentation
at the same time as putting all the photos onto Flickr.

Little Mini and her mum are staying with us this week. Mini has got
a funny word for elephant ~ effluent!

Her cousin Little A is a good singer, but for some unknown reason, she
couldn't be persuaded to sing the following song at Xmas: "When Santa
got stuck up the chimney, he began to shout, ....". However, yesterday
she picked up one of her reading books with a Xmas theme in it, and
started singing the song, without any prompting ~ 2 months too late.

Oh dear, it's after midnight ~ it's time for bed.