Thursday, May 31, 2007

Water cheek...

Two posts for the price of one today.

Early last year I arranged with Anglian Water to fit a water meter on the grounds that the actual requirements of a single bloke should be less than their standard calculation based on the rateable value of my house. The direct debit was a little higher than I'd expected, but I was assured that it was the minimum starting payment. After the first 6 months, I was over 80 pound in credit, but was advised that they need to maintain the same direct debit instalment for the first year.

Well, the first year has now passed and having provided them with my latest reading, I was pleased (?) to see I'd accumuated over 170 pounds in credit. With a bit of time on my hands this afternoon, I decided to give them a ring to verify my overpayment and see exactly what they were planning to do.

Nothing apparently.

Seeing as I'd gone to all the effort of calling and bringing the situation to their attention, they did offer to give me a year's free (or more accurately, prepaid) water supply or they could refund the overtly excessive credit (my words obviously, not theirs) and reduce my direct debit by almost half. So, would I like my money back immediately or should I let them look after it free of charge for another year? Not the toughest decision I've ever had to make.

As the old joke goes, what is it that swans can do, ducks can't do and Anglian Water ought to do? Shove their bills up their arse...

Farty towels...

I appreciate the blog's been through a few more days of neglect, but for once I think it is with reasonable cause. I've just seen the 2007 family birthday campaign come to a close with two particularly pleasing outcomes this year.

Firstly, I've managed to get presents for birthday presents for Dad, Nephew, Little Sis, Mum and Brother in law within the last month and barely needed to leave the house. I'm not a great fan of giving money for presents as I think it usually reflects lack of imagination, but in these cases I had something specific in mind for each.

Dad wanted to update several bits for his PC so we all chipped in towards them
My nephew got a present too big to post so his Mum kindly collected locally for me
Little Sis and Brother-in-law got a years Caravan Club subscription so they can put the new camper van to good use
Mum has a return coach ticket to visit the family down south later on this year.

The second great result was that Little Sis and family came to stay for a few days to surprise Mum on her birthday. The surprise itself went pretty much to plan and I've enjoyed doing my Basil Fawlty bit whilst also playing host, chef and general climbing frame for the kids. It's always great having them all to stay as it puts the bungalow through it's paces of accomodating a full family and gives me an opportunity to play with some new recipes on a different scale.

So now they've all headed off in search of a proper pitch and park up for the night, my plans are to do little more than enjoying the last couple of days off work chilling out, gazing in amazement at someones idea of filling the Big Brother house with so many attractive young ladies and all the time knowing I'm probably old enough to be father to most of them...

Saturday, May 26, 2007

TV or not TV...

It's not very often I get to sit and veg in front of the telly for any great length of time, but when these rare occasions had arisen of late, I was pleased to find that I could catch up on series I'd missed using the Virgin Media TV Choice on Demand. On a delicate Sunday recovery session, it was good to be able to finally watch entire series of the likes of Spaced, Green Wing, Shameless and Black Books while I drifted in and out of consciousness.

Although I was obviously clear-headed this morning, I was wide awake ridiculously early so thought I'd have a scan through to find something new to watch. The TV box clearly had different ideas on the grounds that it was something I needed to subscribe to, so I gave them a call. The two girls I spoke to were very helpful and friendly, albeit with around 40 minutes of waiting in between, but the punchline was that I (along with, I suspect, thousands of other customers) had unknowingly enjoyed a free trial subscription which had now expired.

So if you didn't know either, you do now...

Friday, May 25, 2007

Not very bright...

During a rare Friday night in this evening, I found myself watching the cricket highlights on the news. To be fair, I still maintain my complete lack of interest in the sport itself, but I'd seen the sponsor had their logo emblazoned on the pitch and was intrigued as to exactly who Jamodu were.

If the camera had been facing the opposite direction, I guess it might have been more obvious...

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The bids are alright...

Despite the endless hours I've spent trawling through YouTube of late, I've somehow managed to miss the latest sensation that Johnnie Walker played on his show this morning.

There's a video of a group on there called The Zimmers singing "My Generation" and as the name might give away, they're a little older than the average bands hitting the airwaves right now. Apparently there's about forty of them, including a ninety year old singer and a good number of centarians amongst them so the collective age for the band rolls into the thousands.

Hand on heart, I still prefer the original but good on 'em for having a go - have a look for yourself here if for no other reason than to hear a guy in his nineties singing "I hope I die before I get old"...

Monday, May 21, 2007

Talk more for less...

Time to do my little public information bit - have you ever heard of Vonage?

Apparently they offer a telephone service through your broadband internet connection. Now, no matter how cheap they claim to be, it is only cheap and not a free service such as the one available to Skype users.

More to the point, they only appear to offer one-way communication. How do I know this? Well despite the numerous times they've called me over the last few weeks trying to tell me all about their service, the irritating bunch of bastards can't hear my repeated and increasingly short tempered declarations that I am not interested...

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Where to start...

The problem is when I've left the blog for a week without contribution, I eventually find 5 minutes to get some of thoughts down but then can't decide which ramblings to go with.

Nothing of interest or significance (or that I could share without breaching company internet policy) has happened at work, so that already brings us up to Friday evening.

Friday night saw the finals of the Hobgoblin acoustic music competition in the Tap, but rather like Delcatto, I'd focused my attentions on enjoying the songs and the accompanying ales rather than listening out to hear who the winners were.

Saturday morning I ventured out onto public transport as I was probably over the limit to drive and figuring the bus was the more cost effective option than a taxi. Fine for getting into town but when I tried the same option for the return journey, the incorrect guides at the bus station and wrongly signed shelter left me waiting in the wrong place for almost an hour. Unfortunately, some poor driver who was probably only trying to help bore the brunt of my opinion of Stagecoach.

Without doubt, the highlight of the week and probably the year so far, was Steve and Mel's wedding Saturday afternoon. Regular readers may recall that I was due to head off to Toronto for a wedding later this year, but due to his Mum's ill health of late, they decided to change their plans.

Amazingly they managed to organize the whole event within a week and it had everything you could have asked for. Picturesque village church, sunny weather, beautiful bride, an amusing yet sincere vicar, hymns we all knew, a delicious three course meal at the reception, speeches that ranged from the typically humorous to deeply moving and overall, the company of a truly wonderful family. Although we only share the same surname, it was a real privilege to a part of their day.

Oh, and for the curious regulars amongst you, I'm still not in the slightest bit tempted myself. In fact there was never even a third date...

Sunday, May 13, 2007


Having unexpectedly enjoyed the event last year, I opted for a quiet night in last night, providing an excuse to empty a few dubiously dated cans of beer from the cupboard, throw a curry in the microwave and settle in front of the box to watch the Eurovision Song Contest.

I never really expected our offering to achieve very much this year although the silly outfits, cheesy dance routine and catchy-yet-camp song littered with double entendres always provided a slight hope of enticing a few votes. "Few" turned out to be quite accurate as it happens.

Despite my enthusiastic note taking, score allocating and general persistance to endure all 24 songs, I'm afraid it didn't live up to last year's event for me. The presentation of the show itself was impressive enough, but countries were still taking the formulaic route in an attempt to win even though the quality and performance of the actual songs is never reflected in the results. I actually quite liked three of the songs but it came as no surprise that none of them featured anywhere. My favourite, Hungary's "Unsubstantial Blues", never stood a chance really because it had no pretentions other than being just a bloody good song.

Terry Wogan's hilarious commentary remained the highlight of the evening's entertainment, but I doubt it will be enough to entice me to watch again next year. In future, when I want to spend a Saturday evening watching people dressed in ridiculous costumes and talking in languages I don't understand I'll take the slightly more plausible option of watching Doctor Who...

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Full of surprises...

Thursday night I ventured out for a rare trip to the Tap quiz and despite our having scored 48 out of 52, we still didn't manage to win. Still, I shouldn't really continue to be surprised there really.

It was no real surprise that we all had an excellent Friday night out with the chance to catch up with Steve from Toronto, Dom from Middlesborough and for us all to join in Little Em's birthday celebrations.

Despite spending the best part of twelve hours in the Tap on Saturday, I was pleasantly surprised to find myself leaving the premises in a much healthier condition than my preceding reputation would usually indicate.

I got a last minute invitation to join a few friends for a meal Sunday evening after which we wandered down to catch the last of the Cleethorpes Beer Festival. Aside from the unexpected invitation, I was truly surprised to find a few beers left so late on the last night and some very nice ones amongst them.

Pete Frenzy did a sterling job on Sunday arranging all of the accommodation for our Trans-American road trip planned for later in the year. No surprise at all that he did such a good job, but I didn't expect it all to be done so quickly.

Back to work this morning after a long weekend to be swamped with the usual onslaught of crap to wade through certainly brought no surprise whatsoever.

Today's great surprise was on arriving home from work, I found that the back garden which had previously been on the brink of replacing depleted rain forests had been transformed in to a nicely manicured lawn while I'd been out. Reluctant to let my Uncle keep returning on a "favour" basis, he's agreed to become my regular gardener which is great for us both - I get to keep great looking gardens with no input whatsoever on my part and he gets to earn a few extra quid in return for looking in whenever he's in the area.

Next on the list is a personal trainer so I can get someone to use the running machine for me while I'm out...