Wednesday, December 31, 2008


So yesterday turned out to be more adventurous than I had expected. Let’s start with going to my uncles’ house. That included my annoying cousin being stroppy because he didn’t like the presents he got. Mind you my mum did say that she’d got a CD of The Shadows she could have given him instead. I looked at her incredulously and she seemed to have no idea of why an eight year old would not have found that a appealing either.

Anyway, my other uncle was there, but he had come alone. His wife didn’t come because she was looking after their 20 year old son who had some kind of gastric condition. It seems it was worth her being there because it turns out he stopped breathing at one point and she had to call an ambulance. I think he is ok, but obviously not very well.

Then… I got home to find the police parked outside where I live. As I got out mum’s car I saw a policeman and asked him what was going on. Apparently my concerns about the windows being blacked out in the property next door were not unfounded – there was a cannabis factory there! The police weren’t overly informative, but one of my neighbours had been there all afternoon tracking what had been going on and it seems that the owner (who is the freeholder) had finally decided to visit the empty flat possibly to rent it out or sell it (this is a good thing!) and walked in to find that there were dodgy things going on. I didn’t think she called the police at that point but instead started removing the offending items from the property (for personal consumption?!). This does kind of illustrate what an idiot the freeholder is – you find that someone has illegally entered your property, so what do you do – start removing all the evidence? That’s bad enough in any circumstance, let alone when there is a cannabis factory and presumably the people will be back at some point.

Anyway, not knowing who this mysterious person was in the flat downstairs went down to find out what was going on and suggested she talk to the police and take all the stuff back in, which she did. The police arrived an hour later and were going through all the stuff and talking to the owner etc, when my neighbour heard a loud scream (the owner I think). One of the cannabis growers had come back and the police had grabbed him. He did then try to escape and fell over and injured himself, so an ambulance had to be called, but I think they arrested him anyway. How on earth you decide to sneak into an unused flat to carry out your nefarious purposes and blithely walk in having failed to notice police cars, police officers and other sundry people is a beyond me. Perhaps he had been smoking a bit too much of his own product.

So, although it wasn’t great what was going on next door, I am pleased that my concerns were not just paranoia. I had also noticed that there was condensation forming on the front window of the flat and was going to G (who was a biochemist until recently, so knows *everything*) if that is normal in an empty flat. I had also planned to write to the owner and speak to the police about it, but was trying to work out if I was just over-reacting because my suspicions didn’t really amount to much.

G reckons the reason they blacked out the windows, although obviously that would have just helped with not being seen, was primarily because you have to use very intense bright lights to cultivate cannabis and therefore it would have been glowing like Blackpool illuminations had they not done something to the windows. Anyway, at least it has been dealt with.

I do live in quite a nice area, by no means posh, but also by no means like some slum. It’s not the sort of place you normally find cannabis factories (or maybe it is and it is the perfect cover?!)

I’m going to go to the police station in a bit and ask them about it because the main things I want to know are:
- Do they think they arrested all the people or might we face problems if someone comes back and finds they have been rumbled?
- How do they think the people got in (to the property boundary), so that we can try and do something about it because if they could get in there someone could equally break into where one of us live and burgle us, although I do have a burglar alarm.
- Will the police help us put pressure on the freeholder to tighten up the security of the property as a whole, as I am hopeful this will mean she might be willing to take some action? Bizarrely knowing how lazy our freeholder is this might have exactly the opposite effect and mean that she finds it all too difficult and can’t cope, which is her normal reaction to things.

I should also check that the freeholder wasn’t somehow involved given that there was no sign of a break-in!

Anyway, I shall have to trust my observations and instincts more in future and hope that place will not be left unoccupied for much longer.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008


Not a lot to report today. G is back from Scotland today. Yay! On a flight that lands at 10.45pm. Boo! To keep myself amused today I am going to see one of my uncles and various other families will be there, including a very irritating cousin who is about 8 years old and incredibly rude and annoying. I am not a great fan – particularly as my sister and I always give him a Christmas present and we’ve never had one from him (yes… I know… he’s 8…).

Later tonight I’ll go and pick up G from the airport and tomorrow we will decide what we actually plan to do for New Year’s Eve, which based on current progress, is not a lot.

Rightio, that’s all for now. As you were.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Christmas Past

I can’t believe Christmas is over already. Fortunately I am still off work for another week. This is probably a good thing, as I seem to have slept for over ten hours each of the last two nights.

Christmas was good. G and I went to my parents’ house and that was nice and we went back there on Boxing Day when my sister and her family were there. I got some nice presents and generally had a good time. I did discover a new weird thing about my father though. It seems that whenever he eats fruit he puts the peel down the toilet. Oranges, bananas that kind of thing. My mum has told him lots of times not to do it, but he has ignored her. They had to call out the water board to fix a blocked sewer that was filled with… orange and banana peel. I think my father may now be convinced that paying for the water board to come out and unlock sewers is probably not the best use of money and putting things in the bin would be better.

Another odd thing is that a couple of days ago I noticed that the empty property next door has had its back windows blacked out. I am surprised the owner (our incredibly lazy freeholder) could be bothered to do that, so I am now wondering if there might be people living there – not that I have seen anyone there. I will be keeping a cup to the wall to listen for noises.

G went to Scotland on Saturday and is back tomorrow, so I’ve been mooching about and not doing a lot (apart from sleeping) but might go and do some shopping this evening when the crowds have died down a bit.

Anyway, I hope you had a good Christmas.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


I woke up this morning to discover that the heating had been on all night. Somehow the timings had gone a bit haywire (this is why I don’t normally let G press any buttons*). The thermostat was registering the temperature as 24 degrees and I’m still waiting for the place to cool down.

One of my neighbours put a card through the door. When I moved here she told me that she was married but her husband lived abroad. I have never seen him and am pretty convinced that he doesn’t actually exist, particularly as she gave me a cheque recently and that had her title as “Miss”. Anyway in the card, it was signed from here and some chap. Except I have never seen a man there and have not been aware of there being anybody else at her flat. Perhaps she now has an imaginary boyfriend?!

Yesterday G and I went to see The Thirty Nine Steps, which was very good. It was a comedy and well done. It was definitely based on the film rather than the book, as I read the book recently and there were all sorts of things in the play that don’t appear in the book. After that we went for a bite to eat and then to the Royal Albert Hall for Carol’s by Candlelight, which was very nice and we got to sing along. Neither of us were in as good voice as normal though, as we both are a bit unwell. However, there was a choir and several thousand other people to make up for our deficiencies.

I will probably not be about here for the next couple of days so Happy Christmas. I hope you have a peaceful and enjoyable festive season.

*I don’t actually know that it was G, but *clearly* it can’t have been down to me.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


It’s been a bit hectic over the last few days. My nephew came to stay, which was really good fun. He discovered Wallace and Gromit and we seemed to end up watching “A Close Shave”, “The Wrong Trousers” and “A Grand Day Out” on a continual loop. We did manage to squeeze in watching Happy Feet and Finding Nemo as well and also fed some ducks and made some sweets and generally had a really nice time. I did have to tell my nephew off for throwing a stick that hit another boy. I told him he had to apologise, which he did, but afterwards he looked like so miserable and so I had to give him a cuddle for about 10 minutes to cheer him up – and showing him some really good Christmas lights helped as well. I’d be rubbish at being a parent because I felt really bad about telling him off. But that was a really small part of the weekend and we had a great time.

G was ill most of the weekend, so also needed looking after. Yesterday I got G registered as a temporary patient at my doctor’s surgery and arranged an appointment for about 30 minutes later. G is now on some very strong antibiotics. Obviously those are not going to kick in quickly enough for G to finish the Christmas shopping (or so G says), so I went out yesterday and bought Christmas presents for several of G’s relatives. I think I managed to get everything and now they just need wrapping. Hopefully I don’t need to do that as well…

This afternoon we are off to the theatre and then we’re going to a Christmas concert tonight. It’s a busy old time being on leave from work.

Friday, December 19, 2008


I felt so rough yesterday. I am hoping that I can get through today, go for a drink with some friends tonight and then make it home at a reasonable time without feeling like death warmed up. I thought I’d managed to shake off the cold I had but it seems to have come back with a vengeance.

Yesterday we had a Christmas party at work. It was a very low key thing, as no-one wanted to do anything too much. We just had a quiz and brought along some food and drink and had a bit of a laugh for a couple of hours. The team I was in won the quiz (very convincingly) and this may have been due to our expert knowledge of Christmas cracker jokes, as we came up trumps in that round. One of the questions was “where should a dressmaker build their house?”. We had a long think about this one and I came up with two answers, one of which my colleagues refused to write down. The answer I gave was “Soham” (as in “sew ‘em”. Get it?”). I did finally get them to agree to allow me to write it down. Had the joke been about children then I can understand that it would be an offensive answer, but it is just the name of a place, despite the rather horrible connections with it now. We did get a point for it!*

This weekend will not be a quiet one. My nephew is coming to stay tomorrow and will need a lot of entertaining. We will be making some things, watching a DVD, going out to see some Christmas lights and other such things. I did say to my sister that as he is the reason Christmas has been cancelled I might make him do all my household chores instead. Somehow I don’t think I would get away with this though.

*The correct answer was “on the outskirts of town”, in case you are desperate to know.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


I was feeling decidedly annoyed last night. G’s landlady (who owns the house) phoned to say that she is moving out, as she is going to live with her partner, and has arranged for two other people to move in. No consultation nothing and the contract was already signed with the new people.

What annoys me is:

G wasn’t even consulted and didn’t have the chance to meet the people before the contract was signed.

They are in their early twenties (G is 35) and G thinks it will be like student living again.

G’s landlady seems to have done nothing about things like gas certificates, which are a legal requirement if you are renting out a property and don’t live there.

Suddenly all the bills have to be transferred into the tenants names and G will go from paying a fixed rent every month that includes bills to having to work out amongst three of them what they each need to pay (and get the money).

I am so unimpressed.

In other news, I saw this in the London Paper yesterday. Is it just me or have they potentially ruined some small child’s surprise Christmas gifts. I am surprised they didn’t get a zoom lens and then print Kate Moss’s entire shopping list. (Click on the image to read the helpful listing of what she bought…)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

And now for the bad news...

I have some bad news to break to you… There’s no easy way to say this… Brace yourself… Christmas is cancelled *gulp* I know, I know. It’s not fair. But let’s face it, life’s not fair. So how do I know this? Well I know everything – and also my mum told me so. She sent me an e-mail yesterday and told me there would be no present opening on Christmas Day and instead we would do it on Boxing Day *sigh*. So I guess technically Christmas is merely postponed, but I will be at my parents’ house on Christmas Day looking longingly at the presents under the tree but not be allowed to open them because we have to wait until the next day when my nephew will be about *sigh*

Anyway, I read an article on the BBC yesterday about some research being conducted by Heriot Watt University into relationships. The article is interesting in itself but you can actually participate in the by going here. It’s about relationships and the media. I think the initial survey is quite long but you can then take part in other follow up surveys that are shorter and I guess it helps to build up a picture of changing attitudes over a period of time.

On a lighter note and with thanks to the Vicious Chicken, even though Christmas is cancelled, you are still allowed to tune your television in on Christmas Day night and here’s a little taster of why…

Oh and I was making some sweets last night and I ate *waaaaaaaaaay* too much sugar…

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


My over friendly colleague lived up to his reputation even more than normal yesterday. I had my hair cut over the weekend and twice he came over and commented on and touched my hair. I just politely smiled changed the subject. At another point I needed his help to try and secure a cupboard, we’ll brush over the bit where I ended up on the floor on my knees while he leant across me to the cupboard. We did get it locked and he then moved the cupboard and the proceeded to try and show me his rippling muscles (not an easy task given that he doesn’t really have any…). I am just counting down to being on leave. Roll on Friday…

If you have a bit of time on your hands (and clearly the person who runs this website does) then you might want to find out what Garfield would be like without… Garfield… Amusing and I guess quite practical if you have pet allergies.

I am also thinking about putting in an official complaint to G having read this article. There is a part of me that is kind of relieved that I have never lost my hearing due to a kiss, but wouldn’t you think if you were going to lose your hearing that it was one of the better ways for it to happen. I think I’ll get over the disappointment…

Monday, December 15, 2008


I seemed to spend quite a lot of this weekend cleaning and clearing up. G decided to clean the kitchen and I tidied up the back bedroom. My nephew is coming to stay next weekend and I didn’t want him to drown under a sea of paperwork. It has been a mess for such a long time and only took a couple of hours to turn into something far more presentable. I am, however, still concerned that I might not be able to save my nephew from every possible injury having read this article. Who would have thought going to the toilet could be so hazardous? G and I will obviously have to be on toilet duty the whole time he is here.

I got all my Christmas cards written and have posted them (except the ones for people whose addresses I just cannot track down in the phone book etc, as I still cannot find my address book). G started to wrap some presents last night and I did point out that it was probably not entirely polite to wrap up my Christmas presents in my own wrapping paper. I am not sure if G was entirely convinced by this point.

I was so tired on Saturday night that I slept for about 10 hours and still felt really tired last night. But I only have five days left in work and then I am off for Christmas for two weeks.

You might be so caught up in chaos in the run up to Christmas that you need to be reminded of its true meaning (or something sort of like it…)

Well it amused me anyway...

Friday, December 12, 2008


I was on my way back from a walk yesterday lunch time when I saw this man standing in the road directing people around his van. As I got closer I realised he had hit a cyclist, who was sitting on his own at the side of the road. Just as I got to the cyclist he started to spew blood in large quantities from his mouth. I went over to see if I could help him, but just as I was asking him if I could help him, a paramedic arrived (without an ambulance or any form of transport somewhat oddly. I have no idea how he got there) and I left them to get on with it, seeing as I have no medical skills whatsoever and also am not great with blood.

I mentioned what had happened to a couple of my colleagues and one of them said that cyclists were so bad in London that he probably deserved to get hit. I said that I didn’t think any cyclist ever deserved to get hit by a vehicle and then decided it was probably best to change the subject. They then moved on to talking about how bad van drivers can be…

I was talking to G on the phone last night. We weren’t having an argument, but we were disagreeing about something (alcohol). Given that we had somewhat of a difference of opinion, it probably wasn’t the best time for my phone to run out of power, as G then thought I had hung up. I didn’t actually realise that the phone had switched off to begin with and assumed G was just thinking, and so had to phone back a few minutes later to explain what had actually happened. We agreed to differ on our topic of conversation and return to it at another point. Perhaps in person so that no-one could hang up.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


I felt so off colour yesterday, which was unfortunate as I was in a meeting all day and probably looked like I was totally disengaged from it all. Although I don’t suppose I normally look all that riveted at meetings so maybe it was no different to normal.

I really need to get my act together on Christmas shopping. I have done the vast majority of it, but now seem to have come to a standstill. I think I might get to Christmas Eve and not have done anything more unless I get my act together. I have started my Christmas cards though, but still can’t find my address book, so it will be a bit hit and miss as to whether I can send some of them. Hmm…

Anyway, as a follow on to yesterday, here is some Ivor the Engine:

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


As you may be aware, Oliver Postgate died yesterday, who was the creator of such programmes as Ivor the Engine and the Clangers and also Bagpuss. So here is a bit of Bagpuss to mark his death:

It’s continued here, in case you can’t get enough.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008


I went for a work Christmas meal yesterday, which was very nice. We went to the Loch Fyne Oyster Bar and I have never seen quite so much attention to getting things right, but with such an incredible waste of energy. We watch had a little card that we put in front of us so the staff could read our menu choices (that we had previously submitted) and then about three times someone walked up and down with an *actual* clipboard and compared what was on her list with what it said at each of our places. It still took over 30 minutes to get our started and we got our main courses after about an hour. The food was really delicious though and we had a leisurely afternoon chatting and eating.

Then they gave me the bill and I went through it because I had booked the table and knew what each person had paid etc. I just couldn’t get the maths to work out compared with what I had calculated people would be expected to pay and then I realised that they were mean to have taken off the charges for two bottles of wine, as they were free, but they had charged us for them. They apologised and recalculated the bill, but there was a part of me that wondered how often they forgot to take that money off the bill. It was very nice though, not as nice as the one on Loch Fyne, which and I went to in September, but it was good food.

I also managed to make it home nice and early and did various tasks I hadn’t had time to do over the weekend, like book a hotel for a wedding I am going to in February and send an e-mail to find out where I can but the notebook that G *really* wants for Christmas. A woman’s work is never done.

If you get the chance and, let’s be honest, if you’re looking at the internet you probably have at least a *little* time on your hands then go and look at Stray’s post and then wander over here and say what matters.

Monday, December 08, 2008


I had a really nice weekend. G and I went to stay with some friends for an early Christmas celebration. It wasn’t quite the same mix of people as normal and I think it was fair to say that they were a bit of an odd bunch but it was good to see our friends and eat lots of nice food and so on.

We stayed the whole weekend, but there was one chap who just came along for the meal on Saturday evening. I didn’t really warm to him and this was not helped by having only having said hello to him he then proceeded to share the chair I was sitting on that really was not designed for two people and then he just totally dominated the whole conversation talking about all his latest fads. During the meal, one person had to ask him several times to drop a particular line of conversation that was verging on the offensive because he was basically arguing that no word in and of itself offensive and people just needed to learn not to be offended (so various race or gender related words, of you get my drift…). I just avoided engaging him in conversation because he was one of those people who so liked his own intelligence and logic that he had absolutely no common sense or empathy for where others might be coming from.

G was pretty ill all weekend and so didn’t really do a lot and stayed in the warm while we went for a walk and didn’t eat very much at dinner. One of the other people who was there kept telling us how she could hardly eat anything because of some problem in her stomach, but seemed to polish off not only her own meal but anything that anyone else left on their plate. Bizarre.

I do also now have my Christmas tree and other decorations up and things are looking a bit more festive and today I’m going out for a work Christmas meal.

I am waiting for a delivery from Amazon from the Home Delivery Network and let’s just say that my experience is pretty comparable to the ones cited on this website. So unimpressed.

Friday, December 05, 2008

In the spirit

G ended up not going to work yesterday and so stayed at mine instead. This did cause a bit of a problem in that we are staying with some friends this weekend and G didn’t have a change of clothes. Nice. But we did manage to take advantage of the 20% off at M&S and I bought a couple of presents and we got some clean clothes for G.

On my lunch break yesterday I bumped into my old big boss and he seemed on reasonable form. I indirectly asked how things were going since D’s death and he indirectly answered by saying things were sort of alright and then we changed the subject. I think he took D’s death hard and it made me feel a bit sad to see him my old boss in those circumstances.

Anyway I have a nice weekend ahead involving a walk (if G is well enough) lots of nice food and lots of good company. I haven’t put my Christmas tree up yet so I will try and do that on Sunday and I will have to dig out my various (very tasteful) Christmas CDs.

To help you get into the Christmas spirit, I leave you with one of my favourite Christmas songs – I Believe in Father Christmas.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Promises, promises

G was feeling really unwell yesterday so cane to stay, clearly on the mistaken belief that I am good at caring for the sick. Instead I saw this as an opportunity to exploit G’s labour to help me in making some sweets. There are now some chocolate truffles made. The final instalment will be made tonight. In a couple of weeks, we are having a work Christmas do and we are meant to take along some bits to that, so I might try to do some of these again.

My overly friendly work colleague kept bugging me yesterday and took the opportunity to remind me that I had at one point said that I might try and make some lamingtons, as he has such trouble finding them – and as it is Australia Day in January, he is now hoping I will do it in time for that. I have never cooked a lamington in my life, so have no idea if I would be able to do it right and somehow I think if I do this, it may not mean that he then stops bugging me. I go through phases where I am patient with him and others when I want to kill him – and this can be in the space of a few minutes, if he keeps asking me things. Yesterday he was trying to sort some stationary out for me and then went back to his desk (all or 10 metres away) and phoned me to ask me something else. I need to start monitoring my calls better.

Last night I remembered that on one of the courses I was on yesterday I had to come up with three reasons why it is a good idea for the population to go naked and three improvements I wish could be made to the idea. On the latter one, surely top of that list is having far more of a say in who your work colleagues are? That could be such a scary prospect. Also people would have to come up with a new technique for getting rid of nerves than imagining their interviewers naked. I feel this proposal would need more work.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008


I made some pink fudge and some peppermint creams last night. I slept for 9 hours on Monday night. This was not vaguely conceivable last night due to the massive sugar high caused by eating what was left in the bowl. I think it is fair to say that both recipes included a *lot* of sugar.

I was on a couple of courses again yesterday. One was on being creative if you are a logical thinker and the other was on conflict (I was also on a course on conflict last week, but this had a different focus. Not that I have a particular issue with conflicts, we are just running a series of courses at work. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it...).

Anyway, on the conflict course the facilitator said that they have found that at primary school, on average, children get 19 negative messages (tellings off etc) to every positive one. So it isn’t really surprising that we are in a society where we find it rather easier to criticise people or tear people’s ideas apart rather than trying to find more constructive ways forward. I like the idea that there are alternatives though and that it’s not all about “winning” an argument and that you can disagree with someone and still have a positive and constructive relationship. I am really enjoying the courses at the moment and they have really helped me develop some thinking I have been doing over the last several months, but there’s still more pondering (and applying) to do. Lots of food for thought.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008


I have moved to a new desk at work. My over friendly colleague was the one who organised the move. This gave him even more of an excuse to talk to me today. I did consider killing him and dumping his body in one of the packing crates. I managed to resist the urge. Today may be another story if he does the same again today.

I do actually have a horrible story about mice but instead I will give you a recipe to make coconut mice, as I was asked for this. So here it is...

You need:

250g icing sugar
200g tin of condensed milk
175g desiccated coconut
Red food dye
Sweets for the ears (something like white chocolate buttons)
Silver cake-decorating balls (to be the eyes)
Red liquorice bootlaces or similar to make the tail (or you could use wool if all else fails, but don’t eat that…)

Then you:

• Mix the icing sugar and condensed milk together in a bowl and then mix in the coconut. Split the mixture between two bowls.

• Add a few drops of red food dye to each bowl and mix it in. Then add a few more drops to one of the bowls so it is a deeper red.

• Dip a spoon into warm water and dip it into one of the bowls and take out a big spoonful of mixture and use the shape of the spoon to create the shape of the body.

• Put the shaped body on to some cling film.

• Pinch the thin end of the shape to make a nose. Press in the silver balls to make the eyes and the sweets to make the ears.

• Put a piece of liquorice at the other end to make a tail.

• Repeat to make more mice. This should make eight large mice, five medium mice and three baby mice.

I am not actually going to make these this week, but I will be making:

Milk and white chocolate truffles
Christmas crunchies (a combination of biscuits, dried apricots, chocolate drops, golden syrup and drinking chocolate/ icing sugar)
Pink fudge
Peppermint creams
Cornflake cakes

I am going to have a busy few days...

Monday, December 01, 2008


I had a really nice weekend. We went out for dinner with one of G’s friend’s on Friday and then went for a drink with some other people after that – and I managed to do some more Christmas shopping and so am probably about three-quarters done now.

Saturday I woke up and was convinced it was 6 December and was then very confused that for some reason I was running a week ahead of the rest of the world. Anyway, I did manage to get myself back on track and on the evening G and I went over to another friend’s house, whose girlfriend we have both been a bit dubious about for various reasons, but was really pleasant company and that has totally changed my opinion of her. They are going to New Zealand for a year in January so it was nice to spend a decent bit of time with them.

Then yesterday evening I spent a while catching up with a friend I haven’t seen for ages. He and his fiancée came round and it was nice to see her too, as I don’t know her very well. So it was all very sociable, which is something I’m not always that enamoured with, but it was a really nice weekend, with such a mix of people and things to do.

It is, of course, now December (I have no idea how that can be the case), which means that I might have to put my Christmas tree up in the next couple of days. G and I did have a mince pie and custard yesterday, which was *really* nice and we are starting to get into the Christmas spirit. There will be some Christmas sweet making in the next few days, which I may share with you and you can salivate at from a distance. I’m nice like that.