Saturday, December 31, 2005

Happy New Year...

I can't believe that in around 6 hours, it will have been exactly a year since my last cigarette. I only made two resolutions last year; to quit smoking and to buy my own house. It may have taken a bit longer than I might have liked but it's good to be sat here on New Year's Eve 2005 with both resolutions firmly achieved.

Resolutions for 2006? I suppose it would be good to stay a non-smoker and to keep the house, but that's cheating I guess. I think I'll probably resuscitate an old favourite and resolve to lose some weight. I just need to decide how much and by when.

In keeping with tradition, I'll not be out celebrating tonight but I've plenty of booze left over from Christmas should I feel the need. If previous years are anything to go by, I'll probably toast in 2006 with a cuppa.

Anyway, whoever you are and wherever you are, I hope you enjoy your celebrations and that 2006 brings you everything you wish for.

'Ave a good 'un...

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

I love it when a plan comes together...

Everything appears to be back to normal today, shops are all open again, buses are running as normal and the house is suddenly very quiet and very empty. The last part is actually quite welcome, although this Christmas will go on record as one of the best I've ever had.

My six year old niece is at just the right age to get into the magic of it all and for the record, I never stopped believing. Christmas Eve we left out the customary mince pie, glass of sherry and a couple of carrots for Rudolph and his mates. We were obviously good little girls and boys this year as more presents had appeared under the tree and we found this in the kitchen the next morning:

I'm not entirely sure about the walnut, but hey, I might have been if I were 33 years younger.

My first attempt at Christmas dinner went exactly to plan and judging from everyone's comments and the amount that was left, I guess I can rack that up as a success. Contrary to my earlier protestations, I did manage to prepare plenty of vegetables so the entire choice consisted of turkey (surprise, surprise), sausages wrapped in bacon (or pigs in blankets as we know them), sausagemeat and sage & onion stuffing balls, roast potatoes, duchess potatoes, yorkshire puddings, carrots, sweetcorn, cauliflower, brocolli and sprouts. Thank goodness for the steamer I got as a housewarning present. Special thanks should also go to Em for the delicious home-made cranberry jelly. It wouldn't be Christmas dinner without eating too much so there were also mini Christmas puddings and mince pies to follow with either custard or ice-cream (or both). Coffee and Christmas cake to finish off, followed by an after-dinner nap whilst trying to watch The Polar Express.

So, a great Christmas Day had by all and only fifty one and a bit weeks to the next one...

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Merry Christmas...

A quick post this morning because, like the rest of the world, I have a really busy day in front of me today. I really just wanted to say whoever you are, wherever you are, I hope you have an amazing Christmas and you that you get to enjoy all of the fun that goes with it. Easy for me I suppose seeing as I never grew up.

Nothing says Christmas like ninja stars...

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

I'm done...

...although that is not an excuse to stick a fork in me.

I had a much more sensible shopping experience this evening, picking up the last few fresh items I need before the weekend and surprisingly, I only bought the items I set out to buy. A much better experience at the checkout this time aswell when I was assisted in packing my bags by Bob the Builder (and if my niece ever asks, then it was the real one).

So that's it for now, two days left at work, three days before the family arrive and four days before the big one. If I've forgotten anything now then I don't care - we'll have to do without. Just a thought though, I've resisted the temptation to cheat for Christmas Dinner, but I wonder how many people out there will be dining courtesy of Aunt Bessie? Worth remembering for next time perhaps...

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Mustn't Grumble...

Yesterday I learnt the lesson that perhaps it's not always so clever to prepare for Christmas so far in advance. Christmas draw day at work and take a look at what I won:

So now I guess I won't be doing any more shopping until August...

Thursday, December 15, 2005

And there's more... the continuing daily blow-by-blow account of my Christmas preparations.

In my last post I eluded to the fact that buying alcohol has never posed much of a problem for me and tonight I've proved it. Broken all personal till receipt records in one foul swoop and the only edible items were a multi pack each of crisps and snacks. I won't divulge the actual total, but lets say that it exceeded two figures (to the left of the decimal point, in case you were wondering).

The dining room is almost clear now pending Saturday's delivery and I finished off the evening's activities by getting all of the presents wrapped. The only shopping items left are a few fresh bits which I'll pick up towards the end of next week. The last of the decorations will go up on Saturday while I'm waiting around the house, which leaves Friday night with no real plans.

Hmmm, what should I do? Answers on a postcard to Hobgoblin competition...

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

More festive progress...

Despite a late escape from work this evening and a couple of lengthy phone calls (why do people always call when you've got the least time to spare?), I still managed to get plenty more stuff unpacked & re-arranged. In addition, I put the finishing touches to the decorations in the lounge.

However, by far, the best achievement of the day was at lunchtime. On my way into work this morning I happened to be gazing around at my surroundings instead of looking where I was going and as if by some miracle, I spotted a furniture store that I'd never noticed before. During the overly generous 30 minute lunch break we have, I took a spin down there on the off chance that there may be a dining suite around and on the even more remote chance that I could collect it or even less likely get it delivered before Christmas.

Well guess what? I was in and out of the place in less than 15 minutes, considerably lighter in wallet but having just ordered one of the exact same suites I had been checking out on the internet a couple of weeks ago but couldn't get before Christmas. Better still, it's being delivered this Saturday afternoon! Take a look at this:

By my reckoning that leaves me just over 10 days and the main thing I have left to sort out is a supply of alcoholic beverages for everyone. If I say so myself, buying alcohol could hardly be considered one of my weaknesses.

Oh, and when I say everyone, I mean everyone I've invited for Christmas dinner. I would be more than a little extravagant to buy drinks for all of you...

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Every day in every way...

...I'm getting a little bit more prepared for Christmas.

Before I go on, a quick flashback to last night's post regarding my neglected green wheelie bin, I got a result today. Apparently I managed to sort and de-sellotape my cardboard to a standard worthy of brown wheelie bin collection. So perhaps I packed the rubbish a bit too tight into the green one in a moment of unprecedented enthusiasm which would have been too tough for the poor little mites to empty. I guess I'll find out next week.

Anyway, tonight's source of amusement occurred whilst in Tesco making major headway with the Christmas food shop. I thought that I had gone a bit OTT on my last trip (as you always do when setting up a new home) but I was amazed how my shopping list of twenty or so items expanded to fill a shopping trolley. I think the inclusion of the word "turkey" was where I went wrong because I then went on a campaign of "well if I'm buying the turkey, I might as well buy the [insert name of anything else remotely festive and Christmas dinner related]".

On arriving at the checkout, the girl asked if I needed any help packing my bags as I'd collected so much and after an initial refusal, I agreed that it might get me away a bit quicker. I've mentioned before that I am a creature of routine who likes to be organised where possible and for that reason, when packing the shopping at a checkout I like to have a selection of bags ready to keep things in some kind of sensible order for unpacking, i.e. separate bags for non-food, cleaning products, frozen food, fresh food, etc. To my amazement, this individual "helping" me pack was more interested in telling her mate about her plans for the weekend and proceeded to pack random items into bags, frequently containing little more than three things. My favourite was an entire carrier bag for a whisk and a tea strainer (hey, what I do in my own time is my business right?!). In the end, I packed the majority of it myself.

In future I think I will make it my quest to see how much shopping it takes before I'm unable to keep up with the checkout girl on my own. Of course, based on my purchases over the last couple of weeks, my next food shop will probably be sometime in July...

Monday, December 12, 2005

What a load of rubbish...

During my last stint as a homeowner, I used to go to reasonable lengths to ensure my rubbish was dealt with in an eco-friendly manner; particularly separating paper and glass from the remainder of the rubbish to take a trip down to the local bottle/paper banks every now and then. I suppose the fact that they were less than 5 minutes away in the car helped matters.

Imagine my surprise then, nay delight, when I discovered that the bungalow comes complete with a whole host of bins:
Green wheelie bin - general waste (as long as it fits in the bin, I guess it's fair game)
Brown wheelie bin - garden waste or brown cardboard (non glossy and without sellotape please)
Orange box - empty food/drinks cans (rinsed out please)
Blue box - newspapers, magazines, junk mail (but no envelopes please)
Green box - glass bottles & jars (rinsed out and without tops & lids please)

On the specified days (timetables for the forthcoming next year supplied) we're instructed to present the appropriate receptacle on the boundary of the property (i.e. where it meets the pavement) where it will be returned once emptied.

Well excuse me, but when did we suddenly get so fussy about our rubbish? I know I've moved into quite a nice area but this seems a bit over the top considering all of the neighbours I've met so far are as "normal" as I am. The heaps of leaflets detailing timetables and strict instructions for segregation are also littered with threats that "It will be necessary to reject any container found to have any items which will contaminate the load".

I'm not an unreasonable man and I can understand some of their reasoning, but having gone to the extent of segregating the significant amount of rubbish I'm accumulating since unpacking everything after the move and having "presented the appropriate receptacle on the boundary of my property" on the appropriate day, I think I'm justified in being completely pissed off to get home from work tonight and find the green wheelie bin only lighter in contents by the weight of one half filled bin liner from the top (which, for the record, was still within the confines of a bin with a closed lid). How the hell am I supposed to continue with the pre-seasonal clearout?

I hope I get the chance to catch one of the lazy bastards sniffing around for a Christmas tip...

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Back to reality...

It's been a busy weekend with one thing and another and up to a point I was quite pleased with my achievements. After a rather "lively" Friday night out, I woke up around 8:00 Saturday morning, resisted the urge to sleep all day in favour of getting up and getting some things done:

~ finished assembling the long service award barbecue
~ unpacked a load more clothes
~ washed and dried two loads of washing
~ re-arranged the lounge furniture to accomodate my hi-fi (pity the two single electrical sockets can't accomodate everything)
~ cleared some space in the garage for my tools & car stuff
~ cleaned the bathroom
~ unpacked numerous more boxes (why have I kept so much of this rubbish?)
~ hoovered throughout the house
~ filled both wheelie bins in readiness for this week's collections

By my normal standards I should have been proud until I realised this is the sort of thing most normal people get up to on a Saturday morning when for the past three years or so, I have been happy languishing in my pit without an ounce of guilt.

Finally tonight, things reached an all time low when I re-acquainted myself with the art of ironing. Ironing has to be the most tedious chore ever invented but all the same it is unfortunately necessary so I opted for my previous routine of getting a whole week's worth out of the way on Sunday night.

So this is what weekends are going to be like then? Oh dear, what have I done...

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Never let it be said...

(which is normally a prompt for one of my usual crowd to say it) ...that I have no sense of occasion.

After a pretty intense day of presentations at work today (of which my team were last to present, and at which point I thought I got an uneccessary grilling incidentally) I decided to have a night off from the unpacking and chose to do something a bit more frivolous. Having rustled up a pretty tasty chicken fried rice in my newly refurbished wok, I set to with putting up some Christmas decorations in preparation of young neice and nephew arriving over the festive period. In hindsight, my hallway is now somewhat reminiscent of a Santa's grotto but I thought I should make the effort. I haven't got any decent pictures yet, but you can get an idea here.

Problem is, we are now only 17 days from the big day, which is 16 days before they arrive and so far I haven't got anywhere clear for them to sleep, any dining furniture to sit and eat at, or even a cooker to prepare the meal on, to name but three insignificant problems. Having said that, the garage is looking pretty clear at the moment and I've seen my long service award barbecue in the HR office at work awaiting presentation so all may not be lost just yet.

All the same, sense of occasion? Quite possibly. Sense of priority? Probably not...

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Thanks again everyone...

As you've probably gathered, I've been a bit pre-occupied over the last couple of weeks and haven't had the chance to feed my stats obsession, but I notice on the counter tonight that another "K" has slipped by...

Home Sweet Home...

Back to work in the morning and although it's been a hectic week, it's been worth parting with every bead of sweat along the way (and believe me, Seany sweat is an extremely rare substance).

Sure, there's still loads of unpacking to do and I can't get the new cooker plumbed in until Friday night but I'll have some fun turning out meals with what I've got in the meantime. First Sunday lunch today consisted of tuna steaks cooked in garlic & rosemary with potatoes, asparagus tips and baby sweetcorn - delicious if I say so myself. I ought to pass credit on to Dave from the Tap who introduced me to the idea a while ago and to the Tesco bargain bin for having all of the right ingredients at reduced price last week.

To say I've only been here a week, I'm already feeling really settled and look forward to getting into a new routine. Most impressively, the auto-pilot facility has already kicked in effectively. I woke up in my new home on both Saturday and Sunday morning, not entirely sure in either case how I got there.

So here's to my extended commute tomorrow and the anticipation of catching up with all of the exciting happenings while I've been away from the office...

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Too much like hard work...

An ex-housemaster and Geography teacher of mine once accused me of "running from hard work like any sane person would run from a mad dog". I suppose at the time he was right; my 15 year old attention had much more exciting matters to deal with than the glacial movement resulting in crag & tail rock formations (as seen at Edingburgh Castle - or was that a Roche Moutonee?). I suppose he would be impressed to read this knowing that 24 years later I can still recall either, not to mention my maintained ability to spot a cirrus cloud from a cumulous. What did any of this have to do with Geography? Quite honestly I was never entirely sure and this was accurately reflected in my GCE Grade D (back in the good old days when we were actually allowed to fail at something). I thought Geography was to do with travel and places. Hmm... perhaps that's why we are no good at asking for directions - it must be some kind of inadequate geography schooling syndrome.

Anyhoo, back to the hard work thing, since I collected the keys to the bungalow on Monday afternoon, I've had a harsh reminder of what hard work can be like. Not that I am exactly slacking during my usual weekly occupation, but I figured that by taking a week off and enlisting the help of the occasional volunteer here and there, this moving lark would be a breeze.

OK, it could have gone a lot worse. It is now Thursday afternoon and I'm down to about one more car load, but it's going to have to be a bloody big one to cope with the weight of the almost famous (and somewhat recently neglected) running machine. I have got big plans for it here at the new place, honest. Besides which, I've done more physical exercise this week than I probably have all year to date so that should count for something. Anyway, it's taken nearly six months for the sale to go through so I don't suppose an extra day or two will hurt much.

So here I am, wallowing in the self satisfaction of living in a lovely bungalow, nicely situated in one of the town's outlying villages. I finally have my kitchen full of gadgets and food of all descriptions; lounge with a suite I struggle to get out of, cable TV through the new widescreen LCD telly and more importantly I have my wireless internet up and working again.

Seeing as I probably can't afford to go to the pub now for the next 20 -30 years, I suppose there's no excuse for not keeping the old blog up to date then...

Sunday, November 27, 2005

All systems go...

We had another challenging week in Portugal but came back with some reasonable compromises so I guess it was a success of sorts. I'm proud (I think) to say that I managed to find an equal compromise in terms of late nights and workload, but still got my fair share of local wines, Super Bock Stout and 10 year old port. One of the team made a trip to the supermarket across from the hotel and managed to get a bottle of whisky, gin, rum, vodka and a litre of wine for less than £11! Consensus amongst the rest of us was that it wasn't a bargain, but was in fact rude to take all of those in exchange for such a small amount of money. Perhaps we were just bitter as it was too late to do any shopping ourselves by the time he'd told us.

Food-wise, there were no real suprises until the last night when I had the chance to exorcise the demon of my last untried "guilt" food. Having previously tasted my first veal across there and felt incredibly guilty about the wonderful flavour (apparently it is a local speciality), last week's "sin" was pate de fois gras. Yes, I do know where it comes from and I know it isn't right, but I felt the need to give it a try. Quite honestly because it was bloody expensive and I wouldn't risk spending as much of my own cash without being certain that I would like it. The verdict? I'll keep that to myself for fear of losing any more readers.

Just for a laugh on the way back from the airport on Friday, I thought I'd ring my solicitor to see if anything had changed while I'd been away. Apparently all of the paperwork has changed hands and sale completes on Monday (tomorrow!). Cue busy weekend packing and collating my belongings from all corners of the folks' house and as if to add temptation to coax me away, the Tap have got that delicious Fugelstou stout back on again, so not much achieved yesterday then.

Rather more fortunately, I did stumble across a closing down sale in a local electrical store this morning so I'm now equipped with a new telly and all the kitchen gadgets I could get my scruffy mitts on. Last thing to track down is a dining suite so I can entertain the family on Christmas day, but given that I've taken the last of my holidays for the move and I've seen little available for delivery in less than a week, they could be eating from trays on their laps.

Oh, and just to add a little more fun to the proceedings, I've started sneezing for England today so a fully fledged case of man-flu is sure to follow...

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Tempus Fugit...

Or rather Seany flies, as we're heading off to Portugal again in the the morning and once again at stupid o'clock. At least the weather looks something more like this time; every visit so far has been accompanied by torrential rain.

So with a bit of luck by mid week we'll be either sat back relaxing, knocking back a few caipirinhas, or fretting away in some dreary little office knocking back the espressos to try and stay awake. I think we all know which is the most likely.

Either way, Wednesday celebrates this blog's first birthday so I thought I'd start the celebrations a little early.

So, Happy Birthday Blog. Who would have thought we would make it this far?

Truth to tell, celebrations actually started earlier still as I went out for few "farewell to real ale for a few days" pints yesterday. Although the usual Hobgoblin was not available, it afforded us the opportunity to try a new one (to us) from the local Fuglestou Brewery that we discovered during the beer festival last month. Robert the Bursar Stout coming in at 4.8% is a deliciously creamy brew with a smokey yet chocolatey (I don't care if it's a real word or not) flavour.

In the meantime I guess I'll have to resort back to the Super Bock Stout for a few days...

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Seconds out, round three...

We're all set for our third trip to the Iberian peninsula and it appears that the itinerary is exactly the same as the last trip. This next week has always promised to be the most challenging of the early sessions so I'm hoping we can curtail some of the late nights eating and drinking in favour of getting some serious work done and not feeling like a zombie when I get back next Friday.

WTF? I can't believe I just typed that. Methinks 'tis time to take some time off and re-align some priorities...

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Claim to fame...

I went round to the bungalow tonight (hopefully for the last time before it becomes mine - or at least the bank's) to see the chap who's selling it and settle up a few things before he sets of for retirement in the Shetlands (which sounds a fantastic idea incidentally). I was discussing some of my plans for the place, not least of which to convert the smallest bedroom in to a music room and possibly at some point, a mini-studio. It's ideally sized for me to set up the guitars, keyboards, drums, amps, speakers, etc., and best of all it's on an outside wall which minimises disturbance to the neighbours.

It turns out that prior to his using it as a study, he had used it for that very same purpose. Before his current job he had spent several years trotting around the globe as a session musician working with all manner of people including Tina Turner, Smokey Robinson, the Allman Brothers, Colin Blunstone, Jeff Beck, Donovan, Rod Stewart and Agnetha and Anni-Frid's (Abba girls) solo projects produced by Phil Collins in the 80's.

Far-fetched? Everyone's a sceptic aren't they. Well I've seen photos and heard recordings to back these stories up, he has such a huge repetoire of anecdotes and is so clearly knowledgeable about his music that it dispelled any of my original doubts. What was originally intended as a flying visit to drop off a cheque and pick up a few other details turned out to be a fascinating evening.

After 15 to 20 years of it all, he decided to call it a day in favour of a more settled lifestyle and although isn't a publicly well known figure, his name (which out of courtesy I'm obviously not going to share) appears on countless album credits.

I'm just wondering if I get to keep the same phone number whether perhaps Agnetha would be interested in popping round for a cuppa? OK, perhaps that is a bit too far-fetched...

Monday, November 14, 2005

Ho Ho Ho...

It worked! Despite the emotional scars from last year's attempt, this year's Christmas shop has gone much closer to plan with everything arriving in good time, all just as described (some better) and I'm confident everyone will be happy with what they've got (trust me Sis if you're reading this!)

Not one to give up the opportunity of unecessary festive stress, it's looking extremely likely that I will be in the bungalow for Christmas, so all being well I have got little Sis's family coming to stay for a couple of days and I've got everyone round for Christmas dinner. Personally I think it's very brave of them all but not to worry, I'm getting a new barbecue from work this month as a 10-year long service award (unconventional maybe, but we get to pick our own presents and I don't really need a carriage clock). I just need to get my hands on some turkey burgers and oven chips, or perhaps I will take inspiration from the old Oxo ads and ring out for kebabs all round. Not turkey perhaps, but Turkish...

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Let the games commence...

Readers who've been with me since the very beginning of this blog may well recall the fun and games I had last year trying to save time by doing all of my Christmas shopping over the internet. I was down to the last couple of days when the final delivery arrived last year, but a year later I seem to have forgotten what an incredibly stressful experience it all was.

Not one to learn from such experiences, I have just waded blindly in and done exactly the same this year but with one big difference - I've started a month earlier. Everything in stock and on it's way over the next 3-5 days - alledgedly - let's see how things work out.

If all goes well, that should leave me a bit of spare time to worry about more trivial things such as moving into the bungalow. Yes folks, we're approaching five months down the road since the offer was accepted and still no moving date. I'm assured by all sorts of people that it should be complete "any time soon" but excuse me for not getting overly enthusiastic just yet...

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Make mine a large one...

After much research today, I've still not been able to find out any more about the "Las Vegas City via Brazil" restaurant we visited, but I have learnt some more about the cocktail.

It's called caipirinha (ky-pee-reen-ya) and you can find everything you ever wanted to know about them here.

All I will add is that they are absolutely delicious and when you do eventually get to try one, remember who recommended it to you and be generous if we happen to be in the same bar...

Bom dia...

Hello again - what a week that was. As expected, we had to work damned hard and therefore we felt obliged to play even harder.

We arrived at the Radisson Hotel at Stansted airport around 9:00pm Sunday and only intended to sneak in a quick pint before turning in early in anticipation of the early flight Monday morning. However, we were all fascinated by the wine tower in the bar and felt compelled to stay and watch the girls serving bottles of wine by means of pulleys, steel cables and a variety of gymnastic manoevres. End result - late night and several pints.

Incidentally, if you ever need to fly from Stansted, I thoroughly recommend staying at this hotel. Check in was laboriously slow, but well worth the wait as the rooms are superb and the terminal building is accessed via a covered walkway from right outside the hotel front door. It cost us £85 for the night and this also entitles you to leave your car there for only £7.50 per night - half the price of the Heathrow long stay car park I'd paid a couple of weeks ago.

4:30am rise next morning to check out of the hotel by 5:30 and check in for our flight by 6:00, departure 6:40, arrived at the office 9:15 and worked until 18:30 before leaving to check in at the Hotel Dighton. The hotel was a pleasant enough place; obviously very impressive in it's day but now sadly seems to have lost some of it's sparkle. That said, at €€47.50 per night including breakfast, we really shouldn't have been pitching our expectations too high.

I'm not going to elaborate on the work side of the trip; it was very intense and tiring and we were all glad to be back on our way home Friday morning. However, the food was plentiful in quantity and variety.

Monday: breakfast - coffee & croissant; lunch - green soup, grilled "meat"; dinner (at the Dighton after a 2 hour wait) - mushroom & bacon in cheese sauce, ox fillet washed down with some local (Douro) red wine and finished of course with a couple of bottles of Grahams 10 year old tawny port (between the 9 of us of course!)

Tuesday: breakfast - couldn't decide between English (hot dog sausage, panchetta and scrambled eggs) or continental (bread roll, cheese & various sliced meats), so I opted for both! Lunch - pasta water, or perhaps it was clear soup, followed by fish with pickles; dinner - (giving the hotel a well-deserved second chance) melon and ham, followed by a delicious concoction of duck, rice and cheese. More red wine but they ran out of 10 year old port so we had to settle for a couple of bottles of 20 year old (shame!)

Wednesday: breakfast - as yesterday; lunch - yellow soup, fish & shredded potato; dinner was a Brazilian feast at "Las Vegas City via Brazil" (sorry no web site to link to). Situated about 10 minutes away from Vale de Cambra, we were bombarded with a multitude of different meats and snacks ranging from garlic soused steaks to chicken hearts. I'll try and find some more info and post about it again at a later point largely because they serve these incredibly more-ish cocktails that I must find out more about.

Thursday: breakfast - same again; lunch - more indescribable soup, breaded "meat" somewhat reminiscent of schnitzel; dinner - back to the Porto Palacio for our last night and some five star indulgence. Started with duck with fig salad served on a sweet potato and chestnut mash; saddle of lamb for the main course and a fig/cream/hazelnut dessert. I also discovered Super Bock Stout which tastes nothing like our stout but is a delicious dark beer.

Friday: time to go home - food took a second priority in favour of getting home as quickly as possible to get re-acquainted with my old friend the Hobgoblin. All week we had been forced to drink their excessively over caffeinated espressos so I took great delight in telling them all that we were going home where things are the right way round - the coffee may be weak but the beer is strong.

Now, I seem to recall buying a running machine a few months ago. I wonder where I left it...

Sunday, October 30, 2005

On my travels again...

I'm all packed and ready to set off on my second Portugal trip this afternoon. We've a ridiculously early flight to catch in the morning (departure time: stupid o'clock) so we're all heading down to spend the night at an airport near the hotel.

We're there for four days this time and having checked the agenda, I'm hoping we may get to see a little more than hotel rooms and airport lounges. We certainly won't if the our cash advance for expenses is any indication.

I've been playing the Portuguese PDQ cd's in the car for the last few days (one down, three to go) and although I'm not about to become a professional translator, I think I've picked up enough to get me through without resorting to our traditionally arrogant English habit of pointing and shouting at things.

Back Friday pm after which I'll be ready for some long overdue Hobgoblin consumption so I'll probably catch up with the blog next weekend.

In the meantime, adeus...

Friday, October 28, 2005

Got any O's...

Well there was certainly no shortage outside the pub last night.

Our local is situated a the end of a row of listed buildings; not for their aesthetic qualities as many are run down looking old lock ups, but presumably to maintain some of the original riverside architecture.

All year, the fire brigade have been called out on numerous occasions to extinguish some little pyromaniacs attempt at entertainment by setting light to old pallets, skips, or similar and to date they had all been dealt with without major incident. Unsurprisingly, many of the local businesses and residents requested that our local constabulary may wish to make random patrols in the area to flush out these critters, but it seems they were always too busy chasing local motorists for driving 2mph over the speed limit.

Last night things finally went a bit too far. Within minutes of the first tender arriving, one of the old showrooms was well ablaze. It continued to spread throughout the building for a good hour or so and tied up the services of the incident control unit and at least 6 tenders from throughout the county. In addition they needed to close all of the surrounding roads (including two significant thoroughfares) and as I write this in the early hours of the following morning, they have yet to re-open.

It is a pity that the old building has been so severely damaged, but I sincerely hope that there were no serious injuries elsewhere in the county as a result of all local resources being in use here. All for the sake of a drive of a couple of hundred yards down the lane once in a while.

Coincidentally, the area has been the subject of much dispute of late as developers have struggled to get planning permission to convert these listed buildings into shops and luxury apartments. I wonder if it will be any easier now the "dangerous building" will probably have to be pulled down...

Sunday, October 23, 2005

There goes another 1000...

A huge thanks to everyone for your continued interest in my humble little blog. Whether or not you were looking for pictures of bunnies or Samantha or Magic Roundabout (which is also ridiculously high in the stats for the sake of one picture, or two if you count this one), I'm never the less proud to have passed the 4000 mark.

No gifs this time, but what better way to mark this achievement than with a picture of a 4k...

Thursday, October 20, 2005

If you're looking for bunnies...

Then you've come to the wrong place

Regular visitors will be aware of my fascination for my page stats (which reminds me, 4k is approaching and 1st blogday is next month so I ought to start my quest for more gifs). Anyhoo, I noticed last night that the top three reasons people end up here from search engines are from Google Image searches; equal first place going to "Samantha" and "Bunnies" with "Janus" coming in a very close third.

Although I think Samantha Janus is obviously very attractive and I've enjoyed her TV appearances in shows such as Game On and Liverpool one, this could hardly be considered a fan site. In fact I linked to one picture of her during a post about one of her lesser successes (which to be fair, she managed to escape after the first series). In fact, to avoid unnecessary attention, I tried to select one of the more tasteful images. Worse still, I tried to replicate the search (with safe search off, just in case) and waded through over 10 pages without finding the picture in question, so where are these hits all coming from?

As for the bunnies, this was another attempt at being humorous during a post about Easter and there is a link to one photo, which again I thought was quite tasteful (in the context of the rest of the post). Again, I was 6 pages into my search for the same so people are hardly landing here by accident.

I realise that this post is probably only compounding the issue , so if you have ended up here looking for either of the above, let me help you out:

Click here for info about Samantha and here for the best site on the web about bunnies. If you were looking for either in lesser attire then you really must try harder - it's hardly rocket science (apparently). I'm amazed you ended up here and it probably serves you right...

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Rather like buses...

It's not that I hold any special fondness for that particular mode of public transport, nor for that matter do I have anything against it. Anyway, I'm rambling already - all will become clear shortly. "Who are you calling shortly?" (OK, I'll get on with it)

Work today proved to be full of surprises. Not the long overdue pay review or the promise of staff replacement, but the prospect of an interesting new challenge over the next few weeks.

We are in the process upgrading the computer system from our antiquated AS400 to the much loved and admired (!) SAP. The more the project unfolds, the more time it consumes and it's suddenly quite apparent where the name SAP comes from. I knew from the outset that I would be involved to a certain extent but following some unfortunate news one of my colleagues received this morning, I have now been upgraded from "Key User" to "Power User". I did ask, but apparently it doesn't involve me wearing a lycra outfit (huge sigh of relief from anyone who knows me).

What's involved? Largely co-ordinating team actions rather than just taking part, lots more distractions from the usual nine to five (nine to five? - I wish) but most importantly, the chance to influence the way we change our business processes rather than just being told what's going to happen (how naive is that? We'll see in a few weeks).

Ironically, I successfully bid for a Linguaphone PDQ Portuguese course last night (bargain - less than a tenner) on the off-chance that there may be some business requirement for it and today I learn that the above responsibility involves spending a full week at our Portuguese site. Two weeks later, we're all back again for another week. So as the heading would suggest, I waited thirty nine years for a trip to Portugal then three come along at once...

Monday, October 17, 2005

More beer and music...

Well we've just enjoyed another fun-packed weekend at the 2nd Tap and Spile Acoustic Beer Festival. The format was pretty much the same as last time with a huge array of local talent displaying their musical wares and a wide selection of local ales to help the occasion along. I'll apologise in advance for not listing all of the performers or all of the ales but as there was absolutely nothing to disappoint in either category, I don't want to risk missing one and offending somebody.

That said, some special mentions:

Si Nicholls made a welcome return with Boddington and turned out an excellent couple of sets interspersed with a number of jokes that my mother didn't really ought to be laughing at.

It's always nice at one of these events to discover new beers and this weekend I have been introduced to Fugelestou brewery based just down the road at Fulstow. They've only been brewing for a couple of years but I personally think they can give a lot of better established breweries a run for their money.

On this occasion, they were only out-done by the Bateman's Victory Ale which was in outstanding form. Weighing in at an impressive 5.9%, pale in colour but full in flavour, I'm afraid I had rather too many for a schoolnight.

Finally, it was good to see that despite the amount of alcohol consumed, that Seany character didn't attempt to entertain anyone again although I worry about about how much longer he can get away with it...

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Well that was fun...

Got back from Porto late last night after a very interesting trip.

Flights were pretty much as scheduled, the taxi got us to our hotel in good time and boy, what a hotel. Apparently due to regular bookings, our company has negotiated special rates with the Porto Palacio Hotel, a five star residence which is by far the poshest place I've ever stayed. They need a few lessons in which beers they should be selling (although I'm ashamed to admit that the Super Bock wasn't exactly unpleasant) but beyond that the accommodation was absolutely superb. Let me put it this way, it was good enough to be entertaining the Portuguese national football team who arrived for a three night stay while we were there. OK, they booked an entire floor but I was more than happy with my room. All this luxury for around £65 per night!

We were on a pretty tight schedule so we made the most of the evening there and went to the superb Don Tonho restaurant on the Douro riverside in the shadow of the magnificent Ponte D. Luis I bridge (notice the Eiffel influence?). The food there was probably amongst the best I have ever tasted and what an excellent choice. A huge variety of starters to pick from including squid which I had always promised myself I would try. I opted for veal for the main course (another first for me). I know it's wrong and I shouldn't have, but I've always been curious and wanted to try it whilst in the company of people who wouldn't give me a hard time over it - sorry, but it was every bit as tasty as I had hoped for. For dessert I chose the creme brulee, another one that I'd heard plenty about but never tasted and we finished off with a 10 year old Tawny Port (what else) and espresso coffee. First class food throughout, first class service, first class portions (plenty) and it cost less than £150 for the four of us including aperitifs and two bottles of local wine.

Oh and the all important presentation the following morning - did I sell my soul? Not entirely, but Mr Johnson* could you pass me that guitar please...

*should anyone at work be reading this, I'm referring to the legendary Robert, not our Site Manager...

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Seany's on the wireless...

No, don't go reaching for Granny's crystal radio set, I haven't been roped in to do the Radio Humberside quiz on the phone again for the Tap. And even though I've got the drumkit up and running (great fun incidentally), I'm a long way from any record deal that's likely to give Phil Collins a run for his money but no harm in trying eh?. Truth is, I've gone really high tech by my standards (which effectively means I've caught up with the rest of the mobile PC community) and got myself a wireless router so my laptop can now accompany my lap wherever it happens to be around the house, except perhaps for one small room, but surely people don't do they?

Ok, moving on quickly, I've got myself a real fun-packed week lined up for next week. Monday morning I drive down to Heathrow, fly out to Portugal, give a three hour presentation to sell my soul (or at least justify my existence at work) on Tuesday morning, hop on a plane & fly back after lunch to be back at work in time for a training course on Wednesday morning. Question is, when I've told them everything I know about our department and how wonderful we are, what will I say for the remaining 2 hours, 55 minutes? Should be fun!

Note to self: remember to update "30 things" list when I've returned from visiting another country...

Saturday, October 01, 2005

So now I'm back...

From outer space,
You just surfed in to find me here,
With that smug look upon my face...

Yes folks, Seany's back online at long last courtesy of his new Asus A6k. Not without the prerequisite drama of course.

I ordered it online a couple of weeks ago and was more than a little surprised a couple of days later when the order confirmation arrived to discover that it would not be despatched until 26th September. Very generously, I decided that this must be the time required to build and thoroughly check the machine before they sent it out so I didn't pursue the matter any further.

27th September came and went with no delivery and after a couple of phone calls (and several hours listening to their machine telling me how important my call was) I discovered that they would not be able to despatch now before 10th October. Oh and did I mention the £39 delivery charge? For a four week delivery? Unsuprisingly I suggested that they cancel my order as for that price I should fully expect Elvis Presley to ride into town on a unicorn to hand deliver the item.

Wednesday night, I managed to find the exact same machine, £60 cheaper with free bag, mouse, 1gb flash drive and next day delivery. The moral of the story? Don't buy anything from Mesh Computers, do check out the Asus Laptop site if you're thinking of buying one.

So now I have a few days to look forward to re-installing all of the rubbish I had on the old machine and also of course, I must get that drumkit set up and tested...

Sunday, September 18, 2005

No comment...

While I've got my hands on a PC, lets go for the third post in one day!

I just wanted to thank everybody for their kind comments, especially the ones that then go on to offer me amazing business opportunties, fantastic real estate deals and unbelievable holiday packages.

Call me cynical, but I suspect there may be darker forces at work here so I've decided to add the word verification to the comments posting.

Apologies to the regular commenters for the added inconvenience but it's always the few that spoil it for the rest of us...

Don't Panic...

I received a great text message this week which I thought was worth sharing:

Don't panic but I'm in hospital as I think I may have poisoned myself. I was making a cheese sandwich and sliced up a daffodil bulb instead of an onion. Apparently there's no need to worry - I'll be out again in the spring...

Nothing going on...

Just a quick post to say nothing really.

My PC has officially died and the new laptop doesn't arrive until 27th September (can I survive another two weeks?)

Without my PC I've still not managed to try out the new drum kit yet (huge sigh of relief from next door)

The leaseholder's solicitor is still holding up the sale of the bungalow (all packed up and no place to go)

So move along, nothing to see here...

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Last writes...

Don't get me wrong, this is not my last post by any means, but it may be the last one for a little while as my PC may have uttered it's last words (I'm currently posting from Dad's).

Quite frankly, if it doesn't stop re-booting every 10 seconds I'm about to start doing some booting of my own...

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

The rhythm of life...

There I was yesterday, moaning at what a lousy holiday I'd had without even considering what a marvellous day they had in store for me when I got back. It's alway's the same isn't it? After half an hour back at work you feel as though you'd never been away.

Anyway, to cheer myself up I've finally managed, after weeks of getting out-bid, to get my hands on a new "toy" from e-Bay - a drum kit!!! I've always fancied having another go (having dabbled a little when I was much younger) and what better way to win the affections of my new neighbours and bid farewell to the old ones.

Wait a minute, I think there's someone coming towards the front door. Hi Declan, no wait, hang on, before you do something unpleasant with those drumsticks, take a look here.

It's an electronic kit that I can plug my headphones into.
Phew, that was close...

Monday, September 05, 2005

Recent findings...

Last day off today so I thought I would kill some time with a few words on here. Over the few waking hours I've enjoyed over the last few days, I have been trawling through a lot of my favourite blogs which in turn led me to loads of funnies I thought I would share. Warning: most of these contain offensive language. Yeah, like you care!

has been campaigning recently to save his local Post Office from closure and Eclectech, the creators of the video for his campaign song, have some other excellent work within their archives. I would personally recommend Camilla Queen, This Town Ain't Big Enough For The Both Of Us and The Very Model Of A Model Labour Minister. Check out the Kilroy ones too while you're there.

Anna posted about blogday last week and one of her subsequent links was to Used Hack who had a hilarious post about pandas. Definitely one I'll be adding to my reading list.

On a similar theme to the above, always enjoy reading Emerald Bile and Twenty Major for the frequent rants to be found both within their postings and subsequent comments. Somewhere along the line I ended up on the Holy Moly site which is crammed full of hilarious stuff. Declan directed me to the Personality Test which is definitely worth a try. C***'s Corner is well worth a trawl through as are The Rules of Modern Life. My particular favourite from the latter being
"There are 10 types of people in this world. Those who understand binary and those who don't".

Finally, thanks to Birdman, I've found my first must-have accessory for the new garden when I eventually move in, although I might have to insist on no smoking.

OK, so a link-fest is lazy blogging I admit, but I thought it would be good to share a few laughs and I am on holiday after all...

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Zzz... zzz... zzz...

I'm not convinced whether internet health advice sites are a good thing or not. I suppose it has to be down to the individual and how much you are prepared to talk yourself into the worst possible diagnosis you can find.

For example, after a bit of research on the net around this time last year, I was able to walk into my GP's surgery and ask him to check out a lump which I had already decided was an umbilical hernia, but about which I wanted a professional opinion. Having confirmed this, he arranged for surgery and I was able to find out everything I needed to know long before I arrived at the hospital which meant I was a lot calmer about the whole episode than I might have been otherwise. A case for the defence I think.

Over the last few days, I have had little more than a common cold but have been finding it incredibly difficult to stay awake. Talking to someone about it this afternoon, I realised that I have only been awake for around 4 or 5 of the last 40 hours or so which even if under the weather, takes me a little over my usual 8 hour requirement.

If I believed everything I've read on the net so far though, that would make me a depressed, overweight, alcoholic narcoleptic. Hmm, doesn't sound much like me - I've no reason at all to feel depressed, although I could always do with shedding a few more pounds and everybody knows I'm partial to the occasional tipple. Maybe I should just heed the heart-felt advice from Dave that I'm probably "just a lazy fat bastard!". Cheers Dave!

Anyway, I haven't got time to think about it right now as I'm feeling bright and wide awake at the moment and I need to start drinking a few gallons of coffee to make sure I make it to my old mate's wedding reception tonight.

Or perhaps I could just grab another 40 winks in the meantime... zzz... zzz...

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Catching up...

I realise it's been 10 days since my last post but there has been plenty going on.
Thursday 25th saw the departure of one of the most experienced members of my team at work and there is still a heavy shadow of doubt as to whether we will be able to replace her or not.
Friday 26th was my last day at work for 10 days, having decided to take a break to chill out before the real stress of increased workload and house-move kicks in.
Saturday 27th Little Sis and family arrived, so most of the day was spent clearing enough space to accommodate a family of four in one bedroom. Looks like I'm on the settee for a few days then. Although to be fair, it's a small price to pay seeing as they don't get to visit us very often. Since we saw them last, youngest is now walking so we also had to child-proof the house from three feet downwards!
Sunday 28th we all spent an enjoyable afternoon at Elsham Hall, a local country park. This was my treat for everyone, although before I get to sound too extravagant, I think the whole afternoon cost less than £30 for the 6 of us including refreshments!
Monday 29th didn't really go to plan due to conflicting weather reports. When we had finally decided on somewhere to go, the sky's blackened over and as soon as we cancelled any plans, the sun re-appeared again. However, we did round the day off nicely with an excellent Chinese meal courtesy of Chelmsford Chinese Takeaway. If you're in the Grimsby area, try them out - I've ever heard anything but good reviews.
Tuesday 30th I waved the family off around 1:00pm and in less than 10 minutes was sat at the bar in the Tap for some long overdue liquid replenishment.
Wednesday 31st was a very quiet day and a chance to catch up on some much-needed sleep, but during the evening something very strange occurred. It was a quiet evening at the Tap, half a dozen of the regulars sat at the bar when suddenly out of nowhere, sensible conversation broke out. It was quite a surreal experience to find ourselves talking about a number of serious topics (politics, religion, etc., all the typical no-go areas for pub conversation) with no attempts at cracking jokes or taking the mick out of each other. Fortunately before too long, the topic turned to Big Brother which brought the level crashing back down to gutter level. (Surely I'm not alone in my rationale for Orlaith being the last to leave the house?)
Thursday 1st September, just in case I was short of things to do during my remaining days off, I've decided to catch a cold (although so far, a much watered-down version of the dreaded man-flu)
Friday 2nd September, I took Mum out for tea after which we were entertained by the live music of Adrian Byron Burns. I've seen this guy play several times now but he never ceases to really impress me. A true style of his own and an undeniable skill with the guitar, he really is a must if you get the opportunity to see him on one of his extensive tours.
Saturday 3rd and here we are today, I'm still sleeping as though it were about to go out of fashion and guzzling Beechams by the mug full.
In fact while I'm catching up on events, I should note that it's now 79 days since my offer was accepted on the house and although contracts have now been signed, I'm still waiting for an exchange or completion date.
More impressively, I've just worked out that it's 245 days since my last cigarette and I still have no inclinations to start again. However, it's only been 15 hours since my last beer and there is a real temptation there to sneak out for a quick one.
Oh, and one last thing, I found out last night that I have a secret reader to this blog, but Dom asked me not to divulge my sources or to mention Kirsty's name.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Round and round...

What is so confusing about mini-roundabouts?

I was a bit of a late starter to driving and can only claim 18 years or so behind the wheel, but I have covered tens, possibly hundreds of thousands of miles since and remember mini-roundabouts being around (no pun intended) when I passed my driving test.

So why is it people pull up at them, stop, sit there and gaze around wondering who's to go first? There are two answers as to who goes first:
1) The Highway Code says "Approach these in the same way as normal roundabouts" in other words, give priority to traffic approaching from your right, unless directed otherwise.
2) Usually me. I've read and understood this rule so instead of just sitting there, I look to the right on my approach and if nothing is coming, keep going, navigating the mini-roundabout and admiring all of the perplexed expressions on my way around.

Incidentally, many of my colleagues refer to roundabouts as circles. I'm not entirely sure why (other than the obvious fact that they are often circular). Perhaps if they called them O's they could conserve a further syllable each time.

Anyway, please dont read this as a complaint - I'm more than happy to continue navigating them with no-one else in my way.

If anyone is looking for somewhere to practice, I understand this little beauty in Swindon is fun although I've yet to use it myself. My personal favourite is far from "mini" but can be found at South Mimms just north of London where the A1(M) intersects the M25 and always seems to be multiple lanes of total "free-for-all". For best effect, try and hit it for teatime Christmas Eve...

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Things are moving...

Well I'm not quite moving house yet, but we've made progress and I guess one of my house-buying updates is overdue . After a mere 68 days, I have finally received a rainforest's worth of papers for review and signing, but I'm beginning to wish I'd started working towards a legal qualification while I was waiting.

One thing that really impressed me when shopping for a mortgage this time around was the way that all of the information had been standardised. No matter where I went for a quote, they were all laid out and referenced in exactly the same manner which made the whole exercise really consumer friendly. It's a pity that we can't achieve something similar for legal documents. These are so littered with hithertos, aforementioneds, thereinafters, and so on that they just become impossible to read. After a couple of hours hard study and internet cross-reference, I'm down to half a dozen things to query with them before I put pen to paper.

On the subject of signatures, two of the forms require that my signature is countersigned by an independent (non-family) witness. The names of two good pals immediately sprang to mind, both of which will be happy to help when the time arrives. The dilemma I have now is which would be the most appropriate? The licensee, or the psychiatric nurse...

Sunday, August 21, 2005

All in a good cause...

I was raking through some of the blog archives earlier today and found this one that I had completely forgotten about. Now feeling suitably guilty in the knowledge that I have neglected my clicking duties for four months, I've tried to make amends by permanently adding them to my blog in the left sidebar.

In six clicks time you could have helped to:
~ provide food & care to an animal in a shelter
~ fund free mammograms for women in need
~ provide critical health services for children
~ feed the hungry
~ provide books for children in need.
~ preserve endangered rainforest

Not a lot to ask is it? So go on, click yourselves silly, or in my case, sillier...

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Get the kettle on...

To my mind there are few things more satisfying than a good cup of tea. There are some times I would even put my well-favoured pint of Hobgoblin up against it. It seems to be a very British thing, but it is part of the culture in which I was brought up.

Grandma was an expert tea-maker, always served in a cup and saucer with the "good China" being brought out if we had posh rellies round. My sister and I were exchanging memories a while ago and we discussed how we were always offered a cup of tea round at Grandma's and yet now it's apparently so completely wrong to offer caffeinated drinks to youngsters. Rubbish I say.

As a child, I was taught the essentials of making a good cup of tea, almost like a time-honoured skill being handed down from father to son:
1) Fill the kettle & switch it on
2) Once the kettle has started heating up, pour a little hot water into the teapot and swirl it around, ensuring the walls of the pot are throughly warmed, then pour out though the teapot spout.
3) Put the appropriate amount of loose tea into the teapot - one spoonful for each person and one for the pot (thankfully I never made a whole pot of tea for one person)
4) Pour the boiling (not just hot) water into the pot, place the lid and cover with a tea cosy.
5) Leave to mash for 3-4 minutes
6) Place a small amount of milk in the cup(s), pour the tea (through a tea-strainer) and add sugar if required.
Never failed.

Enjoy a cuppa as I may, I've never managed to understand the logic behind it:
1) Take a few spoonfuls of dry dead leaves.
2) Leave them to soak in hot water until the water turns a mucky brown
3) The resultant beverage is so delightfully tasty we need to add milk and sugar to it before we'll drink it!

Admittedly times have changed, as have standards and these days I'm afraid I'm as likely to drop a teabag into my mug as the next person...

Friday, August 19, 2005

Where on earth...

I've been spending quite lot of time lately travelling around the world, catching up on some places I've not seen for years and checking out new ones I've always wanted to see. It's not that I've just won the lottery or quit my job to "go away and find myself", but I stumbled across Google Earth recently and I've been fascinated by it ever since. Click on the logo to get to the free download site then travel the world from the comfort of your own PC.

There appears to be a lot more detail for the US at the moment than there is elsewhere, but they are constantly updating it and some of our bigger cities such as London can already be viewed quite clearly.

Bon voyage...

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Just for Steph...

I had to add these in response to Steph's comments yesterday

The problem now is that, if I ever move into my house or get this pay review sorted, I'll need to find some really extravagant gifs to celebrate...

Monday, August 15, 2005

Thanks again...

I just wanted to post a quick "Thank You" as I see the little Bravenet visit counter has now hit the 3000 mark. I'm really grateful to everyone who takes the time to wade through this rubbish and even more so to those who leave comments.

So rather than another set of fireworks, I'd like to say please keep looking in and cheers...

Monday, August 08, 2005

Disappearing Parent...

Did anybody notice any strange goings-on in Grimsby today?

OK, there's always something strange going on in Grimsby, but I had something a little more paranormal in mind.

Dad left work early this afternoon and as it was a nice day, he chose to take a casual walk and arrived home just before 1:00pm. Once there, he went into the house, left all of the internal doors open on the way as the house was quite warm, made a cup of tea and sat down to eat the sandwich Mum had kindly prepared for him earlier.

Only 10 minutes after his arrival, somebody tried to deliver a parcel to the house but as there was nobody home, chose to slip a postcard through the door. There is a doorbell clearly available and a knock at the front door can clearly be heard at the back of the house with all of the doors open so I can only assume that as someone tried so hard to deliver this parcel, Dad must have mysteriously disappeared. Only for a short while though as he was back again when I got home from work this evening.

I suppose there is always the possibility that it had something to do with the parcel being quite large and heavy. Perhaps it's easier to sneak out of the van and pop a card through the door and that way I can collect it myself at a more convenient time. As many of you know, there's lots of convenient times for parcel collections when you work a minimum 9 to 5 day and commute at least 40 minutes either side of that. And of course, there's nowhere convenient to park near their suggested collection point.

I think I'll give them a call tomorrow and we'll have a little chat about how helpful they've been and look forward to being presented with a re-delivery date or at the very least, an explanatory script from the X-Files...

Think of a number...

For some reason, I actually know my national insurance number. You wouldn't think it's something worth remembering but it's actually just paid off.

Filing some old payslips away recently, I noticed the first two pairs of digits had been transposed. Further investigation showed that it was correct when I joined the company, mysteriously changed for nearly three years, then reverted back to the correct number.

No-one in payroll could shed any light on it, but a couple of frantic calls to Inland Revenue and NI ensured that everything has now been adjusted and I'm not subsidising a complete stranger's sick pay or pension fund.

So yes, it is sad that I've memorised my NI number and that I keep all of my payslips, but I'll bet it's something that most people would never think to check...

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Another busy one...

Well it's been another fun-packed weekend with more time spent socialising than preparing for a house move, but there you go, no big surprise there.

Brief summary: Friday tea with Babs, drinks and discussing a weekend away in Dublin with Emma, off to a club afterwards with another Emma, and out to tea on Saturday with Sue.

Has Mr Heffner got anything to worry about? Not really, it sounds kind of impressive I suppose but I'm afraid they all already have significant others:
Babs is married (to my father!)
Emma is a dear friend of mine (but also happens to be engaged to another good friend of mine)
The other Emma is actually single, but we've both been quite happy being "just good friends" for a long time now
Sue is our next door neighbour, whose partner Declan is a frequent visitor and commenter to this blog.

So all equally lovely people, but I'm afraid it's all very innocent.
But hey, it's still good to be single...

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

It must be me...

So far I've managed to keep the blog a relatively work free zone, but this one has got me confused.

Imagine that you received a letter offering you promotion to a new position stating a starting salary, which would be subject to review on successful completion of a six month probationary period.

Six months later, you attend your second successful probationary review and appraisal after which you receive written confirmation that you have far exceeded any original expectations and passed your probationary period with flying colours.

Is it unreasonable to expect that four months later you might have seen something?
Should I be surprised to learn that it is now suddenly under international discussion?
And perhaps "review" didn't necessarily imply an increase in salary?
Or that you would retain your full workforce?
While the company is enjoying it's best profits on record for many years?

It isn't just me then? I didn't think so.
So they really are being a bunch of bastards.
Well the game's not over yet...

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Still here then...

I realise the blog has been a bit neglected again over the last couple of weeks, but it's been a busy time on all fronts with parties, barbies, resignations, re-organisations and all manner of other exciting things taking place. None of which directly affect me other than increased workload and the increased need (ok, desire) for beer consumption. Tough job, but I might just be the man to do it.

Unsurprisingly, the one factor that remains unchanged is the house purchase. Yes we're still waiting for his solicitor to send a bit of paper to my solicitor. In fact just to get things moving, I rang mine on Friday. I then rang the estate agent, who rang the seller, who rang his solicitor, got the papers posted, then rang the estate agent back, who rang me, who updated my solicitor that he should see some activity by Tuesday.

A good job all of these people are working for nothing isn't it. No wait a minute, I'm the only one in this chain who isn't making any money out of the deal and yet I'm doing all of the pushing. No wonder they say it is one of the most stressful times you will encounter.

Hmmm, I can feel another pint of Hobgoblin heading this way...

Monday, July 18, 2005

The truth is out there...

After 9 months of blogging you'd think the novelty would wear off but no, I'm still fascinated by my site stats.

Initially, I was quite happy with my little hit counter from Bravenet and it's still the one I refer to for landmark counts. [Note to self: must find a new firework gif - hit 3000 is approaching] Way back at the beginning of the year, I set up the Extreme Tracking and ever since, I just can't stop checking out the results to see whats going on.

In terms of hits, I'm still at the dizzy heights of an average 10 visits per day, which I still think is pretty good going bearing in mind the drivel that is on here most of the time. Most visitors apparently drop in between 20:00 and 22:00 on a Monday evening, in fact, right about now, so "Hello - thanks for dropping in".

As for the search results that lead people here, I continue to be amazed and wonder in some cases whether apologies are due. I would expect a few "Seany" results, but "Magic Roundabout", "Samantha Janus", "Aborigine lyrics", each only mentioned once (until today) but regular favourites for visitors. I don't want to go through the whole Paula Radcliffe bodily function routine again, but it was disturbing how many visits the site got as a result of one rant. On the subject of disturbing, a fortnight ago someone arrived here after searching for "buy house next to school playground". I truly hope they were researching school catchment areas, but regardless, the post they were guided to was this one.

Finally is the locations of visitors. I'm currently running at about 38 countries, which is probably more than I could name and eight continents, which is 3 more than we had when I went to school. I know I've mentioned these before but I'm really curious to find out where the 16 visitors from "unknown" countries and continents are. Unless of course they happened on a Saturday night in which case it might well have been visits I made myself. Many's the time one of my drinking buddies will remind me "You looked like you'd had a good time, in fact, I'm not too sure you even knew where you were..."

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Never too late...

Steph sent me an e-mail last week to draw my attention to this We're Not Afraid site which is a great indication of the level of sheer defiance that has been stirred up since the events of the 7th.

I write somewhat ashamed on two counts; firstly because 145 galleries worth of people have already found this site before me and contributed and secondly because I didn't get in first with the type of picture I would have submitted had I not been beaten to it. Well done to Huw G for this and my sympathies on sharing my sense of humour.

So it looks like I'll have to get my thinking cap on, but better late than never...

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Money, money, money...

Wa-hay - mortgage offer arrived at last!

After all this time, it's actually £200 less than their "offer in principle" (???) but its taken them two attempts to get the house value anywhere near correct. So the valuation survey was obviously money well spent. Big deal - I'm sure I can rustle up that amount of cash and it might save me several pence over the next 25 years. Let's hope they take the same light-hearted interest in collecting my monthly payments.

Now to Mr Solicitor. Land registry enquiries and searches have only just been completed for the previous "almost buyer" so surely it can't take them long this time?

Meanwhile, the estate agent girl has gone mysteriously quiet...

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

New single...

Driving in to work this morning, I heard that Tony Christie is releasing Avenues and Alleyways on the 25th July, hot on the heels of his success with the now dreaded Amarillo single. As Johnnie Walker said after the song, "Well, I say new single, it was actually first released 32 years ago".

All the same, I still quite like it, but then I didn't mind the Amarillo song up until a few months ago. Although I wish him every success with it, I just hope this one doesn't go the same way. What the "new" song does have in it's favour is that it brings back memories of 70's TV for me, as it was used as the theme tune for The Protectors. Not that I would have been allowed to watch it I don't suppose at the ripe old age of 7, but I clearly remember the "chime" of the opening five notes which possibly signalled bedtime back then.

On the subject of those opening notes, I've always had my suspicions that a certain Mr Mercury found them somewhat inspiring 5 years later when he wrote "We are the Champions". I wonder if this could be the beginnings of a new copyright dispute? I'm sure Mitch Murray would be grateful of a few quid's worth of royalties.

Off on a complete tangent, this also reminds me of an office where I worked in the late 80's that boasted a window with an excellent position for the sunshine and therefore, growing of plants. I enjoyed much (and seldom repeated) success with a variety of cacti and an enormous coleus plant which I later dubbed Nat King Coleus whose pot was labelled accordingly. So, it only seemed fitting when someone bought me an amaryllis bulb in a pot which later grew to exaggerated proportions that it was also given a name, so I decided on Tony. I had to explain it a lot back then aswell...

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Time flies...

Checking back tonight, I see it's 24 days since I first put an offer on the house.

Three and a half weeks and still no sign of any firm commitents from anybody. I still only have my mortgage agreed in principle (which could work out bloody expensive now if they don't stick to their principles).

One further update since my last post is that with effecf from last Friday, it is now "Sold - subject to contract". A small step in the right direction I suppose, but we're not out of the woods yet...

Thursday, July 07, 2005


There are no excuses for the events today in central London and I doubt there is anything I can say that will help the situation, but my thoughts are with the families of those lost and injured as a result of these mindless actions.

I will say how highly commendable the emergency services appear to be in dealing with the situation both quickly and efficiently.

Unfortunately, I am quite disgusted by a most unlikely source - the BBC news reporters (or at least a good selection of them). Heaven knows, there have been sufficient atrocities to report on in recent years and yet the idiot doing his piece to camera still seems to have a tourettes-style approach to asking the bloody obvious when there is clearly no need.

"Here we have a young man who was trapped in one of the underground trains at the time of the first explosion. Tell me, how did you feel when the bomb went off?"

Please, stop right there. Engage brain before opening mouth. That is not journalism, it's sensationalism. How on earth do you think he felt and what exactly do you expect him to say?

It's not often I have anything too serious to say on this blog, but for fucks sake...

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Game on...

Or more accurately "Games on" - the 2012 Olympics will be held in the UK, which has to be good news I suppose, even though I'm not the worlds greatest sports fan.

I've always been a fan of a good laugh though and must applaud the creator of this photo for getting it circulated so quickly (click on picture to enlarge).

Thanks to Woja & Kirsty who both sent it on to me earlier today...

What a load of...

In between some drivel or other on TV last night, I was unsurprisingly drawn to an advert featuring the delightful Claudia Schiffer.

Now I've been working around (not wearing) cosmetics for 10 years, loitering with dubious intent on the fringes of the fashion industry, but every now and then even my boundaries of belief are challenged.

Before I go on, I should clarify that I haven't tried this L'Oreal product, predominantly in case it actually does work and I start to look like Claudia, in which case I would probably never leave my bed again, let alone the house.

No, my problem is with this item is the special wrinkle-freeing ingredient or more accurately it's name, "Boswelox". Bo-swe-lox. Is that the best they could dream up?

Hardly evocative of Ms Schiffer's indisputably clear complexion is it? Sounds to me like a load of old "Cobb-swe-lers"...

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Hold the front page...

Well there's a surprise, just as all of the expensive decisions have been made, look what made the headlines of tonight's Grimsby Telegraph:

Yes folks, Seany's buying a house and now, as predicted, the housing market boom is officially over. Click the picture for more of the story. Oh, bugger.

Still, I suppose everyone's got to have somewhere to live. At the moment, mine seems to be an office...

Thursday, June 30, 2005

House News...

For anyone who doesn't read the comments, I just thought I'd let you all know that the survey report arrived tonight and everything appears to be OK. It seems to be to be littered with a million and one disclaimers which they obviously felt obliged to include, but the important bit is that it's worth the asking price, or more to the point, sufficient to secure the mortgage.

I suppose I really ought to ring the estate agents in the morning, but I'm sure that if I wait until one minute past nine, they will be on the phone to me first.

In the meantime, comments have been received that the last photo I included was too vague, so in the light of this good news, here's a closer one...

Very strange...

I like to check out Funjunkie whenever I can to see the latest games and general silliness going on, but I fear this morning's visit may have changed my life more permanently.

Before I explain further, check out this bizarre link to a Bubbles and Bikinis animation. I've absolutely no idea what was going though the creators mind at the time, any more than I ever got the whole Badger Badger Badger thing. It serves no practical purpose whatsoever other than to leave me asking "Why?". All the same, I find this one strangely compelling and difficult to walk away from in case she should get stuck amongst the bubbles and need rescuing again. I really need to get out more.

Coincidentally, on that theme, I'm happy to say the pills, capsules & drops finally run out tonight and normal life (i.e. including alcohol consumption) starts again in earnest from tomorrow teatime. Seany will be back out on the Hobgoblin again so lock up your daughters, sisters, mothers, and perhaps even some of your better looking pets...

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

More House Buying Fun...

The ear is almost fully functional again, but I'm not hearing much about this house purchase lark yet.

You know sometimes when you're on a train, it stops at a station, you look out of the window and it feels as if you're still moving really, really slowly? Well that's how quickly things seem to have progressed over the last couple of weeks.

There's plenty of phone calls going on:

(Estate Agent) Have you any more news since your offer was accepted [almost an hour ago]?

(Mortgage Advisor) I've got your mortgage application form here if you can bring me two kinds of ID

(Estate Agent) Have you heard any further news yet?

(Mortgage Advisor) The surveyor has been in touch with the vendor and should be round in the next few days. You should have their report within a week.

(Me to Estate Agent)The survey results should be back within the next few days.
(Estate Agent) OK have you any other news?

(Solicitor) We've received an e-mail asking us to act on your behalf. Please confirm in writing.
(E-mail to Solicitor) Yes that is correct - please accept this as authority to proceed
(Solicitor) OK - please call into the office with two types of ID when next convenient

(Estate Agent) Have you heard anything more yet?

Why couldn't we just set up a meeting with all parties concerned? They could all meet me in person, I could show them my passport, driving license, bank statements, payslips, blood group, note from my Mum excusing me from PE, etc. and establish my identity once and for all. I'm fast reaching the point where I'm unsure of it myself.

And I know it's still very early days but I can't figure out what the hell estate agents do exactly. They were no more help to me in selling my last property than they are in buying this one.

Agreed they take some lovely photos and describe properties in their own unique language:
Compact & bijoux = formerly rented out as a broom cupboard
Well located for transport network = next to a railway line/motorway/airport
Situated in a well established residential area = your worst nightmare of a housing estate
Well placed for local amenities - complete strangers parking outside your property 24 hours a day
Ideal for first time buyer/investor - expect to spend twice the asking price before actually living in it

They certainly have a gift for making perpetual phone calls chasing me for information that I've agreed to pass on as soon as I get it. I am now only a short step away from "When I have something to tell you I will ring you. In the meantime will you please just f*** off".

As I said in an earlier posting what could be simpler? This chap wants to sell his house and I want to buy it. It has been surveyed very recently on behalf of a buyer who had to withdraw from the sale for personal reasons. Apparently that doesn't count any more. I have found somebody foolish enough to lend me enough money to buy it, so what's the problem?

I can almost see it in the news already. I'll have just signed up to a 5 year fixed rate mortgage and the headlines will read "Interest rates slashed to a new all-time low"...

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Picture this...

Little Sis was talking to me this morning about hypnotherapy and I was reminded of a story of an ex-manager of mine from many years ago.

We had been discussing ways of stopping smoking (6 months on Thursday by the way) and he told me that his wife had booked him into a hypnotherapist, but it wasn't going too well due to his self-confessed lack of imagination:

"OK, I'd like you to lie on the couch, close your eyes and relax. Now picture yourself outside of your favourite cinema. Can you do that?"
"I think so, yes"
"Now I want you to walk through the doors, across the foyer, up the stairs into the auditorium and find yourself a nice comfortable seat. As the curtains draw back I'd like you to concentrate on the large white screen and you will see a small black dot right in the centre. As you stare at the black dot, it is slowly getting bigger and bigger until it takes up your whole field of vision. OK?"
"Not really, I can't even see the screen yet"
"Alright, no problem, how far have you got"
"I'm still stood outside the cinema finishing my cigarette"

Another favourite of mine was whenever anyone was going to get him a coffee
"Do you take sugar?"
"Yes, 12 please but don't stir it - I can't stand it too sweet..."

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Ear, What's Goin' On...

So another fun packed week flies by.

Things have started at a healthy pace on the house front. The survey fee is paid and they've already been in touch with the vendor to make arrangements. The official mortgage application has gone off with 267 different proofs of id, earnings, existence, etc. Instructions have been sent to my solicitor who apparently is on holiday until Friday (as he was about 14 years ago when I first contacted him) , but he has a reputation for being the best in town and from previous experience it is worth waiting a couple more days.

And all this with the use of one ear - yes the last bout of "man-flu" [cue dramatic music] has left me unexpectedly out of hearing in my left ear. After numerous attempts at self-diagnosis and treatment, I decided after a week with no improvement to make a rare visit to my G.P. Helpful as always (genuine, non-sarcastic comment) he sent me away with a shopping list for twenty quid's worth of various goodies including some steroid drops.

So aswell as a new home, I'm currently anticipating ownership of a huge muscly over-developed left ear...

Thursday, June 16, 2005

And they're off...

Re-visited the bungalow last night, reconsidered and it turns out to be much better value for money than the house, or perhaps more importantly, better suited to my pocket.

Offer made and accepted this morning. Let the real games (and several weeks of telephone calls) commence.

Just in case anyone wants to tempt fate, or simply can't wait, there's a photo here.

I ought to be out celebrating but last week's "man-flu" has made an unprecedented return.
Oh joy...

Monday, June 13, 2005

'Tis a silly game...

I want to buy a house.
They want to sell one.
They know I will offer less than the asking price and so, inflate their price.
I know they have over-priced the house so I offer them considerably less.
This will carry on to and fro for way too long like some kind of school playground argument.
Eventually the realisation will hit that we have been drawn into this ridiculous game so the estate agents have something to do all day (ie. phone and pester the hell out of us both).
It's only been few days but it's a silly game and I don't want to play any more.
But if we dont, they don't get to sell their house.
And I don't get to buy one...

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Just a bit impulsive...

I don't remember house-hunting being as difficult as this.

Bearing in mind this had all started three weeks ago when a really nice end-terraced house came up for sale just around the corner from where I am now and the viewing showed it to be a real bargain for a very well maintained and completely appropriate house.

This time armed with my mortgage offer in hand, I went to see two other properties last night:

First one, a semi-detached bungalow about three miles from the town centre. Excellent condition, within my price range, complete with all kitchen appliances and various other goodies. Will suit me just fine. That's it then. Mind made up. Forget about the really nice end-terraced I'd had my eye on until now.

Out of courtesy, I ought to take a look around the other house seeing as I've made an appointment. Hmmm, this is better still and it's more central to the towns amenities (oh dear, I'm starting to write like an estate agent). I would need buy more appliances & furniture, but it is a bigger and better property in great condition and in a really pleasant area of town. It is a bit more expensive, but still comfortably affordable.

Only one thing for it - off to the Tap for some quiet contemplation (followed by several less-quiet pints of Hobgoblin). Just as an aside, entertainment last night was courtesy of an excellent singer/songwriter called Si Nicolls, a very talented and funny guy. If you get the chance to see him play you really should.

So this morning after much deliberation (well, almost an hour) and still in a quandry as to which would be the most suitable, I made a snap decision and put an offer in on one of them.

Which one? Well that would be telling. I'll keep the blog updated with progress as events unfold over the next few days...

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Virtual existence...

I've been stricken down with the infamous "man-flu" again this week which has caused me a couple of days off work for the first time since January.

For most of the time I was practically unable (i.e. not bothered) to get out of bed, and so have managed to put the cordless optical mouse to good use and continued some [decent] internet activity from the comfort of my sick-bed, between gargling down Beechams Cold & Flu Plus by the gallon.

Non-active achievements this week include:

Keeping up to date with Big Brother (several seconds of entertainment there)

Paid a couple of bills

I now have a mortgage agreed in principal

Reviewed all advertised properties for sale with all of the area's estate agents and drawn up a shortlist to view over the weekend

Bid for a load of unwanted items from e-Bay (only won one so far)

Searched to see what I can get for some of my rubbish on e-Bay (not a lot)

I'm pleased to say that I returned to work this morning (I'm not really very good at stringing out the man-flu excuse) and I've probably ended up busier over these two days off than I would have done at work, but at least I had the option of legitimately packing in and going to sleep for a couple of hours.

More importantly, I've recovered in time for the weekend. I propose getting the house-hunting out of the way as early as possible and getting down to some serious business in the Tap...

Friday, June 03, 2005

Long time no blog...

I can't believe I've managed two whole weeks without adding anything to the blog, but in my defence, I have been a busy little bee.

Firstly, I have decided to re-join the leagues of grown ups and kit myself up with a mortgage with a view to becoming a man of property again. If previous experience is anything to go by, it should be a good indication that house prices will stabilise now for the next 25 years or so.

I have also spent a bit more time "darn sarf" getting all of the family birthday celebrations out of the way. From hereon in, 2005 is all about looking after number one for a while.

The most amazing occurence over the last couple of weeks was during a trip to Legoland in Windsor last Friday. For starters, everybody should go to Legoland - it is a really impressive day out and well worth the money. We had spent so much of the day filling our faces and going on rides that we had to hurry round "Mini Land" at the end of the day which was a real shame. However, during this last minute dash I spotted these four models (click on pictures for larger image):

Now unless I'm very much mistaken, these are the Dock Offices, Corporation Bridge, the Dock Tower and Spillers Mill; four well-known Grimsby landmarks that apparently now receive national recognition having been immortalised in Lego. Well who'd have thought that...

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Quick thanks...

A quick post to say thanks to Nick & Claire, two new readers to this site who invited me round for a meal last night. Yes, I know they've been living there for nearly a year and I should have been around sooner (although I've been round for quite some time now). Oh, and for the record, Nick - I'm sorry I forgot your birthday last December (Claire - can we let it go now?!) With a good selection of bottled real ales and a Chinese set meal for 47 people, it's a pity that I over-indulged and had to call it a night quite early on.

Lightweight? Yeah, yeah, heard it all before but never in the vicinity of my bathroom scales...

Tuesday, May 17, 2005


In all of the excitement of installing a second throbbing 200gb of pulsating hard drive (and the much more boring re-installation of all of my programs) I completely missed the fact that my blog counter has just whizzed past the 2000 mark. These include visits from 38 countries and 7 continents and most intriguingly with one "unknown" category of each - I've always suspected that we are not alone.

We've reached this milestone a bit quicker than the first 1000 and I can't sufficiently express either my amazement or gratitude. So, other than another huge Thank You!, I think perhaps some more fireworks are in order...

Saturday, May 14, 2005

I think I got away with it...

[Posting tonight chez Little Sis]

Yesterday was always going to be in some element of doubt with so much planned and it being Friday 13th. I was tempted to grill a magpie for breakfast and serve it up to a nearby black cat, underneath a ladder, just to see how far I could push my luck.

As it turns out, how did it all go?

I think I already have a new XP cd sorted out so the new drive should be up and running again sometime next week.

The appraisal went extremely well and things would indicate that their is some additional wonga heading in my direction.

We made the southerly outward journey of the weekend trip in around 4 hours over a Friday teatime (which works out to an average of just under 70mph - honestly officer).

Had a really relaxing day today enjoying time with the family and we have a party planned tomorrow afternoon for little nephew's first birthday tomorrow. I will be making my return journey straight afterwards so I'll have to leave the boozing to the kids.

Let's hope my luck lasts out for the return journey...