Saturday, 29 September 2012

Vodka 'n' chutney

Today is that day in the year that Pete destroys our kitchen and makes various gifts for Christmas.  Over the past 4 years we have given homemade and homemade(ish) gifts to people.
With a lack of Sloes this year, Pete has opted to make Blueberry vodka and also lots of apple, onion and ginger chutney - and both need a few months to mature.  In addition, I have bought some olive oil and intend flavouring with dried chillies and rosemary.
A couple of years ago, Pete managed to get some chutney on the ceiling of the kitchen.  I have no idea how!  I know that I will be cleaning the room tomorrow.
And the thought for the day is...

Friday, 28 September 2012

For What It's Worth

I had the ipod on random driving around the Home Counties yesterday seeing clients and this song came up - a song that I really rate.  It's just a beautifully crafted track by The Cardigans and so I thought I'd share it with you. It's all about saying that four letter word and instantly regretting it...

Thursday, 27 September 2012


I caught the new BBC3 comedy the other night when I was in Edinburgh.  It's called "Cuckoo" and it's a bit obvious in place - but the main idea of a hippy marrying a couples daugher is original.  The hippy called Cuckoo is played by Andy Samberg who is a huge star in the USA having been a regular on Saturday Night Live for years and in a few films too.
From looking at a few photos of Andy, he has obviously lost weight lately.  With the thinner face and a bit of facial hair, I think he looks a bit cute, in a "cant quite put my finger on it" way.

The cast also includes comedian Greg Davies, who I find a bit crude on stage, but plays a good part.  The son is played by Tyger Drew-Honey (oh to have parents with that kind of humour) who is in the long running comedy Outnumbered.  He's grown up a bit now and has a sulky teen that swears a lot role. He had a couple of great lines, one was "I don't wank... Mum I never wank!!".

Monday, 24 September 2012


Pete had a couple of German friends visiting for the weekend.  So we picked them up on Saturday morning and took them to Pete's mums house.  She had made cakes!  After eating far too much we went for a walk and even stopped by the local church.  You know I am not religious, but you have to appreciate the typical village church - standing proud for 800 years and counting.  On one window, there is some graffiti (see below) which is amazing.
On Sunday we went to wet and windy London to see the gorgeous Charlie Siem play violin with an accompanying pianist.  I am not a classical expert, or fan really, but it was an impressive show.  The very posh hall in Marylebone was completely full with about a thousand people. We got to meet him afterwards and he is amazingly good looking and very polite - putting up with the fans and replying to my stupid comments that "the show was great".  He drives a Porsche and wears top clothes, probably free of charge from his modelling commitments.
Here are some instagrammed images from the weekend, starting with some toadstools...

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Why work?

I know a teacher who had a conversation with a pupil recently, where the pupil made some worrying conclusions on life:
His Mum and Dad do not work and have never worked.  They drive a car that is only a few years old and live in a nice well maintained 3 bedroom house, with large garden.  The benefits that they accrue provide enough cash to live on and even pay for a holiday abroad every summer.  The house, council tax and all medical needs are met by the taxpayer.  In years to come, they will continue to rely on the state for everything and we will pay it, including nursing home care and pensions.
The kid has decided, at around 14 or 15 years of age, that this is a pretty good life and working is for fools.  Why work when the taxpayer will pay you to be lazy?   Why work when the taxpayer will provide a nice house, maintain it and keep you healthy?... for your whole life.
This isn't some silly made up story, it's reality.  There are a couple of websites that you can look at to see what benefits you can get and it's staggering - but only if you have no assets.  I calculated that a small family can easily obtain over £19,000 in benefits each year and that's before the extras such as prescriptions, school meals, maintenance on the house and a host of allowances available at the Jobcentre.
Yes, you need to be a little lucky to get the house, but once you're in, it's a bitch for the authorities to pass that on to a family in need once your own children leave home.
And then you have others living in real poverty and really struggle simply due to a different family structure and/or location, especially older people.  The whole system needs an overhaul and the scroungers benefits reduced to provide for those who better themselves through training or working in low paid jobs.  Those that really want to work should maintain benefits when they need them and those who refuse to work, have them taken away.  The Politicians have said this should be the case for years, yet it never happens.
The threshold where there is little point in working is quite high.  Have a few savings, a little pension income and your own house and you are shafted financially. 
Let me be very clear here: people that are searching for jobs in this tough economy have my admiration, but there is still an underclass that think that working is for mugs. This really has to stop. The kid in question doesn't realise that education gives him choice in life and that he will never fulfull any meaningful dreams relying on benefits, but for now he sees this lifestyle as a way to lay back and enjoy free money.

Friday, 21 September 2012

Thursday, 20 September 2012


Remember this quote by A. A. Milne every day - it's brilliantly positive...
“What day is it?" asked Pooh

"It's today," squeaked Piglet

"My favourite day," said Pooh

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

September movie update

Here are the films that Pete and I have received from and watched on TV and DVD over the past few months in reverse order, with my ratings out of ten from my movie list on the IMDB.

The name suggests some blood and gore, but this film is more than that. A gripping drama about a man thrust into the limelight after a robbery at his cafe.
Kick-Ass (2010) 7*
Another very violent film, but this is all comic violence. Silly, but good fun all the same.
Breathing (2011) 6
Unusual German film (a random pick) about an 18 year old youth in a detention centre and his stalled attempts at getting back into society.
Entertaining and interesting on many levels... you can read my thoughts here.  

High Fidelity (2000) 7*
The Nick Hornby book that became a film - all about relationships and music. 
The Grey (2011) 5
Long film that goes nowhere. Quite dull really.
The Players (2012) 6
French comedy starring the two same actors in lots of scenarios. Some bits very good, some parts really awful.
21 Jump Street (2012) 7
I laughed far more than I thought I would. My review is here.
Children of Men (2006) 7*
A really interesting take on the future where all women become infertile. A great idea that could have been taken much further.
Cinema Paradiso (1988) 8
The classic Italian film - not sure how I missed it until now. A feel good film.
* Previously viewed

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Louis the dancer

After winning bronze and silver medals at the Olympics, Louis Smith is now aiming to win at Strictly Come Dancing.  He looks very fit!

Saturday, 15 September 2012

One off the wrist

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Death by powerpoint

I spent the whole of Tuesday and Wednesday in windowless hotel meeting rooms.  I was co-presenting to groups of clients - around 18 in each of 4 sessions.  As each session took 2.5 hours, I am now brain dead and in need of sleep (though it's difficult to tell of course).
I quite like presenting to groups. This goes against my general demeanour, in that I am actually quite shy and do not readily talk to people. I don't even like talking on the telephone.
Many years ago, I joined a company and had to give a presentation; the first I had even given. I was awful.  So I decided to do some self learning to ensure that I could at least 'survive' such presentations in future without failing so badly. These days, I get by and as I say, I enjoy it. 
But the pain of the attendees must not be forgotten... Death By Powerpoint is a horrible way to go.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

More Oscar Pistorius

After a huge spike in visitor numbers, I figured out it was due to the Oscar pictures.  I'll happily milk the visitor numbers!

Sunday, 9 September 2012

So it ends

Seb Coe. 9th September 2012

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Hunger Games

On Thursday night we watched The Hunger Games on DVD.  I assume everyone knows that this film about a competition where children have to kill other children (that's in the trailer and explained at the start, so no spoilers here).
The film left me feeling very uneasy.  The book it was based on is said to be more violent than the film and the whole story is pretty nasty.  I really don't understand how a story like this can be aimed at teenagers. The premise is evil and very serious.  It's not comic deaths, it is all about children wanting and needing to kill other children simply to win a sick competition.
The film itself is well made and probably deserved an 8, but due to the disturbing content, it gets a 7 from me. 
I am no prude and I am not easily shocked.  But, despite some good acting and a pace that was well balanced, all the way through I kept wondering what sick brain could come up with story like this. If I didn't know it was a book for teens, I would have seen it as a horror-drama.
The only bright point is that it features Josh Hutcherson, who is a fine actor and unusually cute with it.

Friday, 7 September 2012

Oscar Pistorius

So he didn't do as well as he (or the commentators) had expected in the Paralympics but... sexy South African athlete alert!

Thursday, 6 September 2012


I have been in Edinburgh for a couple of days for work and the weather was great. On Tuesday, me and my colleague had finished all we intended to do and went to the hotel at 4pm. So I decided to go for a short run down to Arthur's Seat, and back which, by my reckoning and the route I intended to take, was a short 4k jaunt.
But it was such a nice day and I had always wanted to run right round it, I thought I would tackle that small challenge (but a big challenge for me). But I managed to take the lower road round the mountain meaning the run was a bit longer than expected. However, it was worth it as the scenery is stunning and can't believe that I have missed it, despite visiting the city 50+ times!  There are fields, marshlands, lakes and the mountain itself - all within walking distance of the city centre.  I stopped to take a picture halfway round.
In the end, it was a 10k run which should be fine, but the wind added to the fun.  My point is that you never know what surprises you will find if you just look!
Both my ankles have injuries and I know I shouldn't be running at all - it's partly down to being unfit for too many years and partly an age thing I fear.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Desert Island Discs - the final part

Welcome to my Desert Island Discs. I have opted for a different approach to many people; I have divided my life roughly into 8 and picked a track for each period. 
Here is a summary of my 8 songs:
1. American Pie - Don McLean
2. Far Far Away - Slade
3. Get Back - The Beatles
4. Go Your Own Way - Fleetwood Mac
5. Heart Of Gold - Neil Young
6. Fais Mois Une Place - Julien Clerc
7. Brian Wilson - Barenaked Ladies
8. Soul Meets Body - Death Cab For Cutie
And now for the additional items...
I get the Bible and the complete works of Shakespeare. I'm pleased about both. I am opposed to organised religion, but I'm sure I can pick something good out of the Bible (most religious people pick and choose parts from it anyway) and I have never been convinced by Shakespeare, so it will help me pass the time trying to get into it. If I need something to help light a fire, I have plenty of paper.
My book:  Comedy Writing Secrets by Mel Helitzer.  I'm hoping that it will keep me entertained and challenge my brain a bit to come up with a comedy play based on a desert island.
My luxury: A Ukulele, so I could sit and play as the sun sets over my little paradise.
And if I could only take one song from my list it would be Go Your Own WayI would sing loudly (and badly) to myself to keep my spirits up and I can play air guitar too.
The question that is often asked is how you would cope on a desert island. I like (and hate in equal measures) DIY, but I would be able to build a shelter and tools I am sure.  Not sure I could gut a  fish if I could catch one.  As for being alone, I am fine with that but I am sure my own company would soon send me mad!

Monday, 3 September 2012


Saturday, 1 September 2012

Paralympics day out

I kept trying to get Paralympic tickets, checking the site many times a day without luck. But last week I found two £5 park entry tickets.  Not ideal as you don't get entry to any venue, but worth the trip to see the park and take in the atmosphere.  Then on Wednesday, a few more tickets were showing and I managed to secure two tickets to the Athletics in the Olympic stadium!
So I took Friday afternoon off work and spent the whole afternoon and evening exploring the huge Olympic park. It really is stunning. I cant quite explain how impressed I was!  Here are a few pictures I took...