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...