Friday, June 30, 2006

The Road to Cheltenham

A network of early starters provide R and I with advance traffic warnings as we take the familiar route south to Cheltenham. Combined with radio traffic reports (of varying accuracy), we avoid the worst of the problems and via many a detour make slow but steady progress. Three hours and forty minutes is still one of the worst ever times, but less than some north-west folks five hour epics and generally we avoided being stationery on a baking hot motorway.

As we crawl past incident after incident, a new theory forms: Original Accident.
Maybe once upon a time there was the first ever accident on a motorway. It caused a queue, which another driver ploughed into the back of; causing a further accident and queue, which someone ploughed into the back of and then someone rubbernecking on the opposite side caused an accident and so the ripples reflected back down the network.

All accidents since that time can be traced back to that original smash. All subsequent drivers have since been born into a motorway system in which accidents are inherent.

All in all we’re glad to make it to the Rising Sun in one piece and there gathers the strange yet wonderful collection of people who form the Festival Operations and Programming Groups, who will meet over the weekend to kick the festival into final shape.

Obviously having learnt our lessons in Iona, myself and Evil Twin make no attempts to steal phones, wallets etc.

Sort of.

Still we can only be in awe of the evil genius who pinched Sally’s phone and removed the SIM card before returning it. Far be it from me to suggest where suspicion lies.

Back at Hunters’ Lodge, that bastion of fine service and comfortable living the usual suspects head upstairs for continued socialising. Feeling tired and aware of my propensity for migraines at such weekends (which would be a double whammy as I’m supposed to be chairing the Ops meeting), I consider doing the unthinkable and heading to bed before midnight. A stern look and lecture from Buddy and Migraine Advisor Stuart seals the deal. For once in my life I do the right thing and go to bed.

How dull.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

The Pigeon

Tonight, I’m a little late making it to Book Group, which is a double blow as this week we’ve been reading a very short book, The Pigeon by Patrick Suskind and consequently, discussion is already tailing off by the time I arrive.

The novel follows a day in the life of a fanatically ordered fifty-something in Paris, who’s world comes crashing down the day he finds a shitting (literally) pigeon on the threshold of his flat.

Not a necessarily an ‘enjoyable’ read per se, but interesting and very good in parts. Other parts sadly disappoint and the ending is, we all agree, very unsatisfying.

Post book discussion, debate moves on to anything and everything. Conversation flows as freely as the wine and beer. Sat outside in the sunshine laughing and talking – it’s not a bad way to spend the evening.

B may disagree a little as one of the numerous circling swallows, decides to empty it’s bowels over her. I’m not sure if it was trying to emulate Suskind’s pigeon, or whether it was a comment on her (white South African) political views, which came out again tonight.

I like B immensely as a person and she’s fascinating to talk to about this stuff and challenges the liberal (she’d say PollyAnna) views of myself and others in the group. The influence her background has on her views, is at the same time both insightful and deeply disturbing.

I find impossible however, not to get riled by statements carelessly thrown in about how this or that race are inherently useless in such a way, or how Nelson Mandela and ANC cohorts were ‘skulking in jail’, for all those years.

And how do you react when someone tells you about the practice amongst white South Africans for training guard dogs, by paying a black child to torment and torture it as a puppy, so that it grows up with an in-built hatred of an entire race?

I guess growing up in that kind of world…well it’s an insight into the heritage that B brings with her as baggage. I think living here has started to change some elements of it, but even so.

I can’t sit back and let such outright racism go unchallenged, but it’s very weird to find yourself liking someone at the same time as feeling complete revulsion about the views they espouse.

Stuff I probably need to hear though, even if I don’t want to.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

New Shoes?

I popped into Next whilst I was waiting for my migraine medication prescription to be filled in the next door Boots (best to go to Greenbelt planning weekends well armed I find).

I’ve been looking for some bright red shoes, to go with a particular outfit. Something bright, fairly cheap, bit of a heel maybe and suitable for wearing with a skirt.

I try on a pair of patent strappy shoes that look really nice. A bit of a heel is ok but this must be a good three inches or so and not a wedgy heel, but a fine shaped heel.

Concern number one – I’m tall enough as it is.

Concern number two – I don’t possess the gene required for graceful perambulation in such items.

With a reluctant admission of “who am I kidding?” I put them back on the shelf.

But it would be rude to leave without something right?

Or somethings…

One pair of black flats with (joy of joys) a strap round the heel – I love mules and toe only sandals, but they aren’t really practical for a lot of walking.

That said I can’t resist one pair of thong style Birkenstock-esque sandals as well.

They sparkle. They shine. They delight.


From time to time I check the referrals to this site via Site Meter. Regular readers will be aware of my ongoing fascination regarding what strange search terms bring people to these shores.

In a bored moment this evening I had a browse of referrals from the last two days and something catches my eye; a link from a Wikipedia entry for the 'actor' Paul Danan. It must it seems, for some reason, include a link to my blog. How bizarre.

Investigating further...the Wikipedia entry can be found here.

I'm thinking it may not last very long in it's current form, so I'll quote for posterity (pay particular attention to the last line):

Paul Danan is a British actor who played Sol Patrick in the UK teen soap opera Hollyoaks. He also appeared as a contestant on Celebrity Love Island where he had a series of liaisons with the female contestants on the show.

He is currently presenting a British Television series entitled "Test Drive my Girlfriend". Where he acts as a modern-day cupid and dates the girls first. Paul meets the loveless bachelors to discover why they are single, assesses their love requirements and auditions suitable girls all over the UK to draw up a shortlist of two potential suitors.

Paul Danan is widely regarded as a bell end [[1]]

And yes, in case you're wondering, the link from that last sentence leads to my blog.

In particular a post I made last year, which included an extract from a Guardian piece regarding Celebrity Love Island.

So come on, 'fess up, which one of you has been buggering around on Wikipedia?

Better news

Repenting of my news-inspired ranting yesterday, I'll come clean and confess that occasionally there are stories in the newspapers that make one have a little more hope for the world.

Take Warren Buffett, for instance. This American multi-billionaire is to give $37bn of his estimated $44bn fortune to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation over the coming years.

In addition he's to make a 'substantial' donation to a foundation named after his late wife, leaving just the odd billion or so to his three children (I think they'll cope).

Now I'm sure there's plenty of questions to be asked about how someone makes $44bn in the first place and whether fairer trading and more equitable wealth distribution etc would be a more sensible approach, but if you're going to go the capitalist route, then hey this is one heck of a way to round off the story. Apparently this has been his plan all along and he's been waiting for 50 years to do this. Hat's off to you sir.

And then there's Angelina Jolie who apparently gives one third of her earnings to charity as a matter of course.

Well ok I read that last one in Heat rather than the Guardian or The Times, but one needs a breadth of news sources I always think...

Well I make that ten...

Madame, I think this is your gauntlet...

Thanks to everyone who signed up. Feel free to add your name if you haven't already. Lend your support to the poor girl ;-)

I reckon all we need to do now is make suggests for the Anti-Blogger's trial title and colourscheme etc.

You know the score people, the comment function is here for you to use...

Tuesday, June 27, 2006


It seems Jonathan Ross' questioning of Tory Boy David Cameron regarding any schoolboy fantasies he may have had about Margaret Thatcher attracted 4 complaints from the public.

The programme as a whole, attracted 27.

Which suggests that a) the viewers don't really share the feelings of F***face Tebbit and b) there was something more interesting on the programme that I must have missed.

Any ideas anyone? Enquiring minds and all that...

Much better ways to spend your lunch-hour

OK newspaper closed.

Hit play!

You can see the original video by The Automatic on their website, by registering as a member (free) and then loging in and scrolling to the bottom of the member's page.

Oh What a World It Seems We Live In...

Sometimes you can really start to wish you didn’t read the newspapers.

Today in the Independent on page 2 we have David “call me Dave mate!” Cameron espousing his ill-thought through, muddled and ultimately substance-free call to rescind the Human Rights Act (the Act that enshrines the European Convention on Human Rights into UK law).

He is quoted as saying that “It is practically an invitation for terrorists and would be terrorists to come to Britain…”.

Which would seem to suggest that it is making Britain particularly attractive, which seems to be a bit of bizarre logic for turning your back on an international convention.

Ah well if nothing else, it’s reminded us that Tory Boys are Tory Boys no matter how good their spin. Jonathan Ross’ mistake it would seem was merely one of crossing the line by enquiring exactly what ‘kind’ of wanker he is…

Still perhaps we shouldn’t lose heart in our political systems too easily eh?

So let’s turn to page 16, where we see how Claire Curtis-Thomas (who I met once at an Eng1neering do – she seemed a reasonably sensible sort…for a politician) is getting on in her bid to suggest that certain lad’s mags are now more pornographic than Playboy and the like and hence need to similarly stocked on the top shelf.

Apparently she has been banned from reading quotes from Zoo magazine and she will be expelled from the Commons for a week if she doesn’t comply.

Without taking any particular angle on the rights or wrong of her campaign, I think one has to acknowledge that if you can’t as grown adults and legislators discuss the full text in this, but you’re happy to have it stocked next to the Beano, then there’s a bit of a double standard at play.

I guess Mervyn Griffith-Jones, the prosecutor in the 1960 Lady Chatterley’s Lover trial* might see the irony. Nowadays it appears that one can be quite happy for the ‘servants’ and young to read it, just as long as the legislators don’t have to cope with any naughty words eh?

* In a google search for the infamous last sentence, I found the full quote. Oh it is quite splendid! Ladies and gentlemen I give you Mr Mervyn Griffith-Jones (oh, but ladies, if you need help with any of the longer words, do shout...):

You may think that one of the ways in which you can test this book [Lady Chatterley's Lover by D. H. Lawrence], and test it from the most liberal outlook, is to ask yourselves the question when you have read it through: "Would you approve of your young sons and daughters--because girls can read as well as boys--reading this book?" Is it a book you would have lying
around in your own house? Is it a book you would even wish your wife or your servants to read?

Monday, June 26, 2006

Get Emma Blogging

Ok folks, the gauntlet has been laid; Emma the Anti-Blogger has undertaken that if we can find ten people who would read her blog, she'll start one as a trial exercise.

Caroline and I are signed up. I think Pab's readership can be taken as read. So that's seven more potential readers needed.


Need persuasion?

Well Emma is wonderful and I'm loving getting to know her, but constricting it between meetings to her commenting on others' blogs is somewhat limiting. What we need is for Emma to blog, to let us get to know her better.

Intelligent, fun, witty, and having just moved country and recently accepted the most romantic proposal ever I reckon she'll have interesting stuff to say, so come on people SIGN UP!!

Oh btw she can do weird stuff with her bendy nose as well...if we're lucky we might get photographs...

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Sugar Free, Caffeine Free, Coke Free?

Now I don’t want to alarm anyone, but today is my ninth day, without any Diet Coke.

It started last weekend when the last thing in the world I wanted to drink was acidic cola of any variety.

In the following days, I was still feeling ropey and only eating and drinking bland stuffs.

Then I thought to myself, well I’m always meaning to cut down and always failing miserably, so maybe I need to do the cold-turkey thing.

It seems to have worked, I can honestly say that I’m not craving it and as long as I’ve got ice-cold water (including sparkling mineral water at times), I’m quite happy.

This is most unlike me – I drink gallons of the stuff (caffeine free of course) normally. Maybe I’ve still not completely well; or maybe it really is addictive and I’ve broken the cycle? Either way this has to be a good thing. I’m not saying I’m never going to drink it again (after all what else would one mix with one’s Stoli?), but at the moment, day on day, I’m not indulging.

After an afternoon of Greenbelt work and phonecalls fitted around the footie ( 1-0! quarter-finals here we come!), P&S come round for an indulgent evening of chat, Doctor Who (I’m so good to them), pizza and ice cream (yay! B&J’s Phish Food!).

P&S drink Diet Coke from my fridge.

I drink mineral water.

They look at me funny.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Fret Phobia at the Iguana Bar, Chorlton

P&S had suggested a BBQ, but we all end up deciding we’re too tired, so after a leisurely evening I meet up with Stuart and Rob just before 10pm and we head to see Steve Lawson play at the Iguana Bar.

Their faces fall a little when en-route I mention the phrase ‘solo bass guitar’, but of course Steve does very strange things (looping techno-stuffy etc) with his bass guitar making it more melodious and layered than one can imagine possible. Consequently the initial reservation of my compadres, appeared to be won over.

And of course the lovely man, says hello from the ‘stage’ bless him, making Sally (who we rang up mid-gig as is traditional) very jealous.

As instructed Sall, I berated the man about his lack of such courtesies in London (good excuse mind, ie he knows half the crowd in london so…) and furthermore about the utter fabrication of Iguana’s advertising.

Not ‘of’ Level 42 or King Crimson (both seem like insults to me, but hey-di-ho) and they didn’t charge for entry…so other than the names and the date…

Oh and Steve assures me it’s just lines on his bass, not frets. Still that’s cheating a bit isn’t it? His side-kick and Sideshow Bob look-a-like, Ned Evett’s guitars have no markings at all (we think he plays by voodoo), now that’s impressive.

Still a grand night-out (and not just because Mr Lawson said he’d set his cyber-stalker on me if I wrote anything bad). Hopefully a better experience for Steve and Ned as well – you can read their Spinal Tap-esque experiences from previous dates on the tour here. Let’s just say that Blooz Promoz of Leeds doesn’t come out of it very well (there you go Steve, I’m helping your google aims!).

Stress-free Garden Enjoyment

A quiet weekend is planned – lot’s of sleep and relaxation and absolutely no burning the candle at both ends.

After a bit of Greenbelt work, I head into the garden and can sit back and read without having to think about gardening (well I dead-head some roses, but that hardly counts does it). I could get used to this ‘paid-help’ thing.

Hmmm housework...maybe one day I’ll get a cleaner. Now that would feel truly indulgent. I probably could afford it (and I’d insist on paying over the odds), but it feels so wrong. Which is silly really I work stupid hours, the house suffers badly from resultant neglect and it would provide much needed local employment (ok just a little, but it all helps). But, it just seems wrong to have someone clear up after you. It flies in the face of how I was brought up.

Not to mention that security concerns around these parts, make one reluctant to entrust locking up and alarm setting to anyone other than the totally reliable and trustworthy.

Maybe one-day...

In the meantime I’ll just enjoy the garden.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Faith Repaid

I return home tonight to find the garden untouched, but I haven’t been in more than a couple of minutes before I hear the sound of a petrol hedge-cutter being reved up.

S comes round for a DVD and pizza (sitting awkwardly due to a strained back) and we watch things progress.

Two and a half hours later, M has cut back the overgrown shrubbery, grass and shoots to the side garden, trimmed back the shrubbery that lines the front fence, cut the grass and trimmed back some of the garden shrubs (a little more than needed in some cases, but hey-ho).

As I make him a cup of tea, he remarks, that in the period when he kept knocking on and missing me, he’d also brought me round some rosehip tea which he finds great for the throat. How nice is that?

So with the scope of work extended and a generally good job done (not exactly finesse if you know what I mean, but...), I triple the original ‘fee’, and refuse his attempt to insist on giving change.

He’s going to clear up some of the cuttings that wouldn’t fit in the wheelie bin in coming days and then we’ll talk about future work.

Bizarrely I think I’ve found myself a gardener.

It feels ridiculously decadent to employ ‘help’, but hey if he can do the boring trimming jobs every month or two, leaving me to concentrate on the finer elements of garden care, then I think it might just work. I think I’d rather pay out and have the time (even with the associated guilt of a one–generation from working class mindest).

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Step out and trust

About two weeks ago, there was a ring at the door and a guy offering to cut down/tidy up the side patch of garden.

Normally I wouldn't countenance such an offer, but given I've been under the weather and the task is rather large and given I recognise him as the guy who did a fine job clearing the jungle that existed in front of the bungalow across the road after it was sold.

But mostly I just feel ill and the offer of someone doing this for a very reasonable sum of money...well it seems like too good an offer to turn down.

He says he should be able to plug in electricity from across the road if I'm out.

In a spur of the moment decision, I decide I'm tired of not trusting people. So I insist he take the tenner upfront, despite his protestations. As I say as he leaves "ah, you've got an honest face, I'll trust you!".

And that was the last I heard.

Ah well, twas only a tenner, but a bit of a shame that an exercise in faith in human nature went so predictably awry. My thoughts turned to whether I would have the energy to attack it myself this weekend.

And then this evening...another ring at the door.

It's M and it's not clear who is more pleased to see the other. It turns out that he hadn't been able to get hooked up with electricity as he'd hoped.

He said he was beginning to worry that I was ok. He said he'd remembered I'd mentioned I wasn't well and the note he'd stuck through the door was still stuck where he'd left it (I hadn't seen it had got caught up in the letter box). He wasn't sure at what point he ought to raise the alarm.

He said he was also worried that I'd think he'd run off with the money and felt particularly bad given my last words to him.

So tomorrow, I'm leaving the garage unlocked whilst I'm at work so he can plug in and hopefully I should return home to both the tidiness of my side garden and my faith in human nature restored.

I'm L1z...who are you?

In a moment of bravery/stupidity (you decide), I'm taking up Jude's challenge.

In the spirit of 'reaching out', let's see you touch the screen with your responses to this (cut and paste into the comments and add your answers). Go on, around 50 of you buggers allegedly read this drivel everyday, let's find out a little more about you eh?

Come out, come out, wherever you are!

01. Who are you?
02. Are we friends?
03. When and how did we meet?
04. Do/Did you have a crush on me?
05. Would you kiss me?
06. Describe me in one word.
07. What was your first impression?
08. Do you still think that way about me now?
09. What reminds you of me?
10. If you could give me anything what would it be?
11. How well do you know me?
12. When’s the last time you saw me?
13. Ever wanted to tell me something but couldn’t?
14. Are you going to put this on your blog/journal and see what I say about you?
Mmmmm am I going to regret this?

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


News from the Dog Collar and Rabbit Corpse Household is that various family members have been similarly afflicted. Looks like it might be a bug rather than the wrongly maligned prawns.

Shame in a way, I was going to use this as further evidence that they should formally adopt me so that I'm not left to cook for myself...

Monday, June 19, 2006

Vicious Circle

Dear Reader, I shall spare you from a description of my weekend. It involved what my medic friends refer to as D&V and lots of futile attempts to avoid the resultant dehydration.

Trust me, there is nothing about this that you need to know except this: beware discount prawns even if they are lovely organic, ecologically-responsibly farmed ones.

Needless to say, work was a real strain today and far from being nice and rested, I’m feeling worse today than I did on Friday. It’s ok body, I get the message – you’re run down, you need rest – really I get it. It’s just very hard to rest when you keep being ill on me.

And no...I don't want to sip anymore sodding water thank you.

Friday, June 16, 2006


I’m feeling really tired and run-down and end up sprawled out on the sofa half-asleep when P&S pop round this evening to catch up (with me, but also Doctor Who – I know my place!).

I so need a quiet relaxing weekend.

Starting with an early night.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things

In an act of unprecedented benevolence, my company sent round a circular today, letting us all head home a little early, to make sure we make it home in time for kick-off.

Except in my case I have book-group, so I take up a generous offer from the Dog Collar and Rabbit Corpse household (he used to blog once upon a time...) to watch at their place which is en-route. I stop off on the way for provisions: beer, wine, chips and dips – that should see us through.

I haven’t seen them for ages so there’s loads of catching up to do. S is I must say very tolerant as K and I chat through most of the rather uninspiring first half.

Still we got there in the end, even if it wasn’t exactly the most convincing performance going.

On to the pub and Book Group. Well to be precise just T and I given the football and other reasons seem to have seen off everyone else.

If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things is an impressive first novel from anyone, let alone a mid-twenty-year-old. Beautifully observed it celebrates the ordinary, the small, but beautiful stories that surround us.

It over-reaches itself slightly in trying to fit this with the underlying narrative thread, but I can forgive that for some of the beautiful descriptions of these average people, in an ordinary street, in a nameless city.

I’m put in mind of John’s walks and his thoughts on reading the everyday. I try to explain purple rubbish bins to T, but I fear I don’t do it justice.

J turns up over an hour late as ever. But in a shock move, she has a copy of the book borrowed from the library. Progress!

She’s only read the first chapter however and as T points out to me after she leaves, this in a book with no real chapters as such, probably means about 5 pages. Still it’s a step in the right direction – celebrate the positive I say.

Ten Years Ago Today

Ten years ago today.

We were planning to go into town shopping.

Over indulgence the night before had delayed our plans. Getting ready to leave, we hear a boom, not thunder, not a lorry back-firing, not gun-shot...not sure…we shrug it off.

Then P phones. Don’t go. Something’s happening. Evacuation. City centre closed. Turn on the radio.

K is on GMR. Different stories coming in, conflicting information, breaking news.

An explosion? A bomb?

A bomb.

And in that moment everything changes. A standard Saturday morning of proposed shopping turns into worry…friends to be accounted for. Who was planning to meet us there? Have we covered everyone? Why is H not answering the phone? Is R definitely out of town? Our close knit group turning inwards, checking-in, coming together, listening to news, no one wants to be alone.

And all the while K is on the radio, separated from us, in the heart of it all, keeping calm, the voice of the BBC. At least we know she’s safe.

At last we find H. She was in Lewis’. Blown off her feet, but ok. She’s ok. She’s back with us. She’s ok.

Then thoughts turn to the outside world. Families to be reassured. My aunt rings. I’m ok, we’re ok, we don’t know yet, we just don’t know yet. My parents are off on their holiday, Mum knows I was planning to shop today. I don’t want them hearing and worrying, so via the travel agents I track down the hotel. I’m ok, we’re ok, we don’t know yet, we just don’t know yet. I ring my brother who is singularly unperturbed “I assumed I’d hear if you were caught up in it”. Ah well.

The rest of the day in shock. What’s happened here in our city?

Thank God, no one killed. But look at the devastation. The heart ripped out the city.

But the post-box on Corporation Street stood firm.

The aftermath. The days, the weeks, the months, the years.

Apparently the smell in the Arndale fish market is unbelievable.

M&S announced they would return. In a glass building, top-to-toe – how’s that for a one finger tribute? The Corn Exchange outlets moved to a new home and we tried not to mind too much. They moved Sinclair’s Oyster Bar and the Wellington again; beam by beam, peg by peg.

The city stood firm.

And rebuilt and improved and dreamed up a new better way of being.

And we discovered that the heart of the city isn’t contained in bricks and mortar.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006


In theory it should work well, I have a project review to do over at my old office at 3pm and then one of the bosses wants to catch up with me. All in all I should get away at a reasonable time and with an easier commute home from that office I should be home in plenty of time for the 7.30pm GB conference call.

Except of course, the boss gets tied up in a meeting and by the time we’ve finished catching up it’s 7.15pm.

So I stop at the Lymm service station and call in from my mobile.

A delightful spot, recovery vehicles dropping off their charges who wait for the next relay, Highway Agency vehicles congregating, rats scampering around the overflowing bins.

Two hours later we’re done and I finally head home. Another long day.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Management Group

Management Group at All Hallows tonight: travelling on the tube through the city in rush hour in nightmare temperatures. The Evening Standard leads with stories about how paramedics are standing by because of the heat on the tube today.

I used to think nothing of this...or at least I took it to be an unavoidable part of life.

One of the many aspects of London I’m glad to have left behind.

As ever the meeting goes on just that bit too long to allow me to make it to the pub with the others; some snatched minutes with people before we head in different directions is all I manage.

At Euston the train fails to leave on time. A faulty windscreen wiper has us waiting for a fitter to attend and remedy the problem. At last we set off, a diverted route, via Northampton and God knows where.

Home at last. Exhausted. A long day.

Urban Commandos

My mother and I are a crack team. No really we’re like the SAS in this field on endeavour. I’ve learnt the trade from her, she in turn learnt it from her mother. Our skills are finely honed. Over 60 years of combined experience.

The MS and geographic separation have prevented joint forays in recent years – it’s been far too long since the girls were out in the field doing what we do best.

And we do it so well.

Stand aside, make way, look on in awe, give us your credit cards – the demon shoppers are back in town.

The scores on the doors at the end of our strict two hour time allowance:
Matriach – 4 skirts, 2 tops*
Grasshopper – 1 skirt, 1 top

I still have much to learn.

In addition, we also got through:

  • a frothy cappuchino
  • a diet coke
  • two danish pastries
  • lasagne and salad
  • a toasted pannini
  • much giggling
  • people watching
  • nostalgia
  • gossip and catch up
  • serious heart to hearts
  • much hand holding and hugs
  • rationalising of shopping into small number of carriers to make it look like we’d bought less than we had...

Unfortunately the plan of Dad dropping us and Mum’s scooter off in Croydon and then picking us up later was somewhat scuppered by an incident that caused the police to cordon off the town centre.

Still I’m sure the dash from one end of Croydon to the other, because the police would only let Dad get that far and stay for a short period of time, did me good really. Even if it was in 34 degrees in the shade.

Mum can’t half get a speed up on the scooter when she wants to.

I wonder if they do side-cars?

Or a trailer for the carrier bags...

*ok I confess, she actually bought one of the tops in three different colours, but in the counting scheme known as "explaining to one’s husband" that only counts as one really. It's kind of a girl's version of binary...

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Speedy but intermittant

Fortunately, the line is back up by Sunday afternoon and now armed with 2 wireless adaptors, both machines are now happily chuntering on the internet with their new virus protection, spyware and firewalls sorted.


The signal at Mum’s PC isn’t great, but a USB extension cable should help get the receiver to a better position in due course.

The line keeps going down (apparently this is to be expected for the first 10 days – hey how about a refund then guys?), but when it’s up, both parents are impressed by the new super speedy connection. I’ve earned my keep this weekend.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

How thick are these walls?

I woke this morning feeling so much better, unbelievably so considering how bad I’ve been all week.

Dad makes a start whilst I have a shower and dressed but with wet hair he asks for advice. That’s it I’m sucked in.

Microfilters fitted – check.
Router software loaded – check
Router plugged in to power and phone line – check
Router cable plugged in to ethernet port on PC – check
Ethernet port anything more than a deceptive hole in the back of the PC – ah problem found

I make reassuring noises and reach for the USB option.

“But you said it would be slower” remarks my concerned papa.
“Well yeah Dad, but you’re going from creaky old dial-up to 4.5Mb broadband, trust me everything is relative…”

Router connected, line tested, bingo we have broadband.

“Ooh!” says an impressed father as he sees how fast webpages now load.

A new homepage created, new email accounts set-up, message rules created to manage their mail, old email account adjusted for the new connection – check.

“Ooh!” says an impressed father as he watches example emails sent to the various different email addresses from my laptop, filter automatically into separate folders.

“Ooh!” says an impressed father as the penny drops as to how my laptop has managed to send emails without a wire in sight.

Next – operation wireless.

Wireless adaptor fitted to Mum’s PC – check
Router temporarily relocated nearby – check
Software added – check
Wireless connection to the internet achieved – check
Email accounts etc also set up – check
Router relocated back to Dad’s PC – check
Mum’s PC still getting a wireless signal – no. Bugger.

We now enter a period of many hours in which the helpful daughter tries out different router locations with the revised plan of connecting both machines wirelessly. Not an easy project given the thick walls and doors and the fact that the two PCs couldn’t be further apart within the house if you tried. Oh and we only have one wireless dongle at this point…

Just as it seems a compromise position has been identified everything stops. After much faffing and reconnecting via cables it’s clear it’s the broadband line that’s gone.

It stays down for the rest of the day, reappearing only for a few seconds at a time.


Friday, June 09, 2006


Having just about survived a day at work (manic as all hell after the best part of two weeks away), what I really want is a quiet restful weekend; however, the tickets are all booked, so summoning up the last of my energy I get on the train to London.

Promises of setting up a wireless network and broadband for Dad and a long-overdue girlie shopping day with Mum cannot be broken. I guess they could have been rescheduled, but the Greenbelt Management Group meeting can’t really. So wearily I trek south, gladder than ever to be letting the train take the strain.

Thursday, June 08, 2006


The theory is you should return from your holidays refreshed, relaxed and fighting fit.

Rather a shame therefore that, the sore throat and feeling a bit grim that had been creeping up on me over the last few days hit big time once I got home.

Having driven across Arran and down from Ardrossan, I was relieved when S took the wheel back at Tebay services. Feeling achey and exhausted I remember little of that last part of our journey and arriving home I just collapsed into bed.

I pretty much didn’t get up for four days.

It’s a long time since I felt that ill.

So apologies that these blog entries are so retrospective, but I hadn’t really been in a communicative mood. Phone calls go unanswered, emails unread, texts not replied to and blog drafts remain on the laptop untouched.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Mull of Kintyre and Arran

After a night in Oban we head south down the coast and down the east side of the Mull of Kintyre.

No mist rolls in from the sea.

The small ferry takes us over to Lochranza and we find the small pub/guesthouse that will be our home for the night. Homely, friendly and stunning views.

Having dumped our bags, we explore the island of Arran for the rest of the day.

As the guidebooks suggest, Arran is an island of two halves, where the highlands meet the lowlands. The rugged, mountainous landscapes of the north give way to Devon style hedgerow lined lanes and seaside villages to the south.

Friday, June 02, 2006


The end of a seriously good week on Iona. Rather than rush back, M, S and I have decided to make full use of the weekend and take the scenic route home.

First a leisurely exploration of the west and north of Mull. The coast road up the west side is beautiful and Tobermory is the painted harbour front you’d expect. Fish and chips out of paper on the harbour front – aah!

Stunning scenery and excellent company – what more could one ask for?