Wednesday, January 31, 2007

You pays yer money...

Well, it wasn't my money to be fair but the principal remains the same.

I returned this evening from the superfluous trip I mentioned in the previous post and I think the term "adventurous" is probably most apt to describe the journey. In summary, Humberside, Schiphol, Porto, Porto, Schiphol, Humberside; countless hours sat around with little to do other than eat and drink; every leg of the journey ran late; the last leg of the journey had been omitted from some of the departure boards; technical difficulties meant we couldn't land at Humberside for a while (cue the "we'll be stuck up here all night" jokes) and to top it all off, my colleague's luggage disappeared whilst flustered staff were faced with a locked computer system that could neither trace the bag or provide a receipt logging his complaint.

We don't usually experience such "excitement" on our trips, but I assume they lay all the extra activity on in return for paying over ten times the usual fare...

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Breaking rules...

I have to admit an element of shame in my household this weekend. Don't worry, the details of Seany and Flossy the sheep have escaped the tabloids for another week, but this weekend I have had to break one of my personal rules.

Quite often I will have a bit of a witter on here about having to work late some evenings and the fact that I have about an hour's drive to and from work often doesn't help matters. However, I have always said that from Monday to Friday I will work as late as necessary on the understanding that work stops when I leave the office, I never take any work home with me and my weekends are my own.

This weekend, things are a bit different; there is a project deadline drawing ever nearer and I find myself sat home surrounded by work to be done. I've even turned down the chance to join the crowd in the Tap for a few beers for that very reason. Despite the onset of modern technology enabling real time file sharing, video conferencing and the like, I have been told I must work from our Portuguese site for one day next week. Yes, that's right - one day, which in turn entails one day each way travelling, but the order has come from on high and mine is not to reason why (not that it stopped me trying).

To be perfectly honest, I suppose life can't be at all that bad if the only thing I have to complain about is that someone wants to pay me for sitting around in planes, airports and taxis, enjoying five star hotel accomodation and working in a somewhat warmer climate than we are enjoying here right now. For one whole day...

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Winter's arrived then...

I woke up this morning and switched on the news to hear the first murmurs of panic that winter weather was on it's way.

Sure enough, I saw a brief flurry of snow as I drove out of the village this morning and as predicted, there was light covering ice and snow to be seen on some of the hedgerows as I drove across the Wolds. Agreed, you could say it looked rather like a picture postcard; you could also say that it offers a similarly appropriate driving surface as a picture postcard.

I guess it provides an opportunity for the media to divert their attention to from global warming to poor traffic conditions for a couple of days, but personally, I'm suitably convinced that the potential for winter weather still exists and I'm ready to see some sunshine again...

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Don't shoot the messenger...

...although it has been hugely tempting to put my foot through the screen whilst trying to set up Windows Messenger video calls today.

Finally, thanks to Skype, I managed to have a clear video call with Little Sis and family this afternoon with the speed, reaction and clarity of a normal telephone call but with the bonus of video. Oh, and for free - watch those phone bills some tumbling down.

Yes, I have heard about alledged security compromises with Skype, but lets face it, if it's safe enough to be authorised for use at work, it's certainly going to be ok for any of the drivel I'll be communicating.

Anyway, must go. I've just put Steve onto it in Toronto so we could be up for some transatlantic chat any minute now...

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Plan B...

Remarkably like Plan A except that today my name would be Pinot Grigio...

Friday, January 19, 2007

Planning ahead...

In the office this afternoon I was asked what kind of day I'd had. My reply was something along the lines that I would rather have spent the day in the dentist chair with no anaesthetic having my teeth extracted one at a time whilst he administered a saline eyewash.

Still I'm home now for the weekend and although there's plenty of things to be done, I've decided that tonight, I'm shutting the world out, I've just polished off an Indian meal for tea and perched next to me is the remainder of a box of wine with my name on it.

At least there would be if I changed my name to Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon...

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Paper Celebrations...

It will come as quite a surprise to many of my regular readers that today I celebrated my first wedding anniversary. Not just mine obviously. It all took place last year, in a cathedral no less. Well in fact it was more near a cathedral than in one. OK, I suppose I've got some explaining to do.

This time last year, some of you may recall that Em & I went on a joint birthday celebration trip to Dublin to see the sights and sample the wonderful variety of food and drink on offer. On our second day at around two in the afternoon we found ourselves in the grounds of Christ Church Cathedral having just finished a very interesting look round but also having decided there's only so many tombstones of people you've never heard of that you want to read.

For those who have never been (and it is worth seeing) the cathedral is built on a hill so you enter the grounds from the east at street level, but have to climb a winding pathway to exit the grounds to the west and it is on that very pathway that our story unfolds.

Now, before we set off on our trip, I promised Em that no matter how much Guinness and whiskey made it's way into my bloodstream, I would try my hardest to avoid adopting my ridiculous Irish accent, saying "begorrah", "bejaysus", "to be sure", "top of the mornin'", or the like and within reason, I think I managed ok. Besides, I didn't want to offend any readers of Irish descent when it came to my inevitable recollection of happenings on the blog.

I mention that now because it was at this point that we were met by three of the most inebriated individuals I think I've ever met (trust me, I'm a good authority on the matter) and I was delighted that one of them did the speech for me. Two of them staggered on right past and probably didn't even see us, but the third stopped, swayed a lot, looked up, smiled, then the conversation genuinely went something along the lines of:

Helloo there. How're ye doin'?
[Me] Alright mate. You?
Ahh, ye must be visiting. Are ye having a grand time?
Yeah, great thanks
Well, might I say yer a fine fellow and ye have a beautiful wife
Thanks very much
I don't suppose ye could spare us a couple of Euros could ye?
Sorry mate (patting pockets), afraid I can't.
Alright, never mind. God bless ye

After our amicable little exchange, he staggered off to join his mates and we headed off towards the Guinness Storehouse. I have to say a was a little stunned at his lack of persistance where at home, I would have expected an ear full of abuse at the very least.

We must have been a couple of blocks further on when Em remarked,
"You do realise we were married for a short while back there?"
It had crossed my mind momentarily. Beautiful? Certainly. Wife? Well I certainly wasn't about to start explaining our history to him.
"We ought to remember this and celebrate our anniversary"

So today we did and exchanged cards...

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Look after the pennies...

...and so the saying goes, the pounds will look after themselves.

I've worked out that simply by taking packed lunch to work, not ringing out for my weekly pizza treat and driving at a more "leisurely" pace, I can save around 100 quid a month!

So I get to save pounds and lose pounds at the same time.

Just as well seeing as interest rates have just gone up.

Coincidentally, so has my interest in driving home after a long day at work at warp factor 9 and ringing out for pizza instead of cooking.

Hmmm... I give it 'till the end of January...

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Golden Balls...

The Golden Globe award winners have been all over the news today amidst cries of "Britain swept the board" and countless double entendres on the subject of Helen Mirren's pair.

The latter cheap shots are fairly predictable I guess and I am pleased that the Brits did well, even if one of them is that insufferable twat that I spent years having the misfortune of being mistaken for. "Aye" my arse. If I hadn't have had a head shave for charity, persistant accusations that I resembled that tosser would have driven it to me anyway.

Back to my main point; Helen Mirren, Jeremy Irons, Billy Nighy are all very talented and well deserving performers, but there was one Brit consistantly missing from the list. What about Hugh Laurie? I realise he only won a Best Actor award (for the second year running incidentally) but he barely gets a mention anywhere. I even struggled to eventually find his mention on IMDb two-thirds of the way down one of their reports.

Not that it needs my support, but if you haven't seen it already, please watch House M.D. when it returns to our screens soon (already running season 3 in the U.S.) It is so far-removed from any other medical drama I've ever seen (in that I continued to watch it) and the incisive writing combined with heartfelt performances from each of the excellent cast provide first class entertainment.

For anyone who may be put off by his wacky antics in Jeeves & Wooster, Fry & Laurie or Blackadder, you are in for a real surprise...

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Ready to go again...

Thanks to everyone for your kind comments to my last post; I thought I ought to leave a note to let you know that I survived the celebrations.

Nothing much else to tell you all today except that I was thoroughly spoilt again and enjoyed an excellent day that went exactly to plan - went out, drank beer, ate food, drank more beer, ate more food, drank even more beer, went home 11.5 hours later.

After a well earned break yesterday, we have another day planned today for those who couldn't make it Thursday; Steve will be out for an overdue celebration of his birthday and Sarah will be joining us to celebrate her 40th which was also last week.

I'll go out on a long shot and predict another quiet day tomorrow...

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Oh, grow up...

Tomorrow marks 41 years since little 007 (as I was apparently dubbed by the nurses) appeared in Freedom Fields Hospital in Plymouth. Yes Mum, if you are looking in, we hear it every year, breech birth, awkward sod ever since, blah, blah, blah...

What better place to celebrate than in the same premises as I have celebrated the majority of the last 23 birthdays, each time partaking in very familiar activity. No, I'm not working - that's finished for this week. Plans are set to be out for noon tomorrow, an enormous lunch to be followed by a whole day of doing what I'm apparently most gifted at.

As I child I was always advised to find what I'm best at and stick to it - which certainly explains why I drink and sleep so much...

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Housework sucks...

This afternoon I made a start on another "one of these days" jobs, took advantage of a local sale item and bought some space saver bags. We've all seen them on TV where they put a double quilt, four pillows and an entire winter wardrobe into a plastic bag, attach it to your vacuum cleaner to remove the air et voila, it suddenly takes up the space of a first class postage stamp.

Surprisingly, they do actually work, although clearly not to the scale indicated above. Better still, whilst rummaging through the wardrobe for items to be "archived", more have actually ended up being thrown out than kept (I wouldn't have wished those items on the most needy of charity shops).

Exceptions to the clear-out have been my collection of concert teeshirts which although they will certainly never fit me again, still act as souvenirs of the many bands I've seen over the years and who knows, may be worth several pence on e-bay some day.

So having thrown so much gear out, I've got some bags left over so I guess the next job is to fill them with the heaps of stuff in the garage I'm equally reluctant to part with...

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Hello, Good Evening and...

I like to think of my blog as a generally welcoming place, but today I'd particularly like to extend a warm welcome to two new readers, Steve and Jackie (although Steve has found his way here once). They've heard me going on about my online rambling for long enough and thanks to a generous Santa, Jackie is now the proud owner of a shiny new laptop.

Courtesy of the work of a somewhat questionable IT Technician this afternoon, they now have email addresses, a fully functioning printer/scanner and a secure wireless internet connection. I know they've both had a Christmas and New Year hampered by accidents and heavy colds so I hope they'll find something to cheer them up amongst this lot.

Well , there might be something entertaining if you look hard enough...

Thursday, January 04, 2007

And I thought I'd been busy...

I was leaving the office tonight when I saw one of our shift managers in reception who I'd not seen since before Christmas and our conversation took an unexpected turn

"Hello Dave, Happy New Year mate - did you have a good one?"
"Hi Seany. Yeah, great. Have you been watching the darts?"
(No surprise there - I knew that he was a pretty keen darts player)
"No, I missed it, but I heard them talking about it on the radio last night"
"Oh, we've had a great tournament on Sky Sports"
"Ah, I don't have Sky Sports so I wouldn't have seen it anyway then"
"Well, I was well pleased to have got through to the last sixteen"
"Sorry? You were playing?!"
"Yeah I beat Keith Deller in the qualifiers and only narrowly missed going through to the last eight. It was an amazing experience!"
"I didn't even know you were playing at that level, I mean, I know you play but..."
"It's done my world rankings a power of good, I'm up 80 odd places to no 7o now"
"Nice one! Well let me know when you're competing next and I'll look out for you"

Turns out it's at the British Darts Open this weekend.
And there's some pictures from his last tournament here.

Keep an eye open for "Ladders" at the oche on a screen near you. Nice bloke and apparently a darts player to be reckoned with...

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Could have been worse...

OK so the first day back was never going to be a barrel of laughs but it didn't go too badly. I got to the office early; there were only 70-odd emails waiting for me; they let me stay behind for an extra hour or so for free, but best of all they gave me four cans of beer to take home.

It is still quite common for suppliers to shower us with bribes gifts around this time of year, but seeing as only certain employees are in a position to get such privileges, it was decided years ago that it is fairer to pool them all together and draw lots from a hat containing all employee names.

It's no Hobgoblin I grant you, but I'm sure I've drunk worse beer in my time and most importantly it was free. What puzzles me, is I can't help but wonder which devil-may-care supplier decided they could woo our purchasing team and win a multi-million pound pan-European contract in return for four of these:

Anyway, to round the day off nicely, I discovered this evening that despite my plans to lose weight, it turns out I have only actually put on 1kg since this time last year. Result there then - looks like pizza for tea...

Monday, January 01, 2007

The game continues...

With all the festive silliness out of the way, the trimmings all packed away and [hopefully] the last of the fireworks, we find ourselves back on square one of a new round of the game and unfortunately, that also means it's time for me to go back to work in the morning.

I know I've done better than many with a two week break (well, two weeks out of the office) but I'm afraid that doesn't make me any more excited about my return.

The goods news is that it is only a four day week to ease back into the new year and the following week I'm only in for three days as I've taken a couple of days off to sneak off and turn 41 while no-one's looking.

I can guarantee it will pass with considerably less fuss than last year but I never need much of an excuse to defer any talk of dieting or alcohol abstinence...