Friday, December 24, 2004

Christmas Friday

It's Christmas Friday, so I thought I'd wish both my readers a Merry Christmas. (Though if I may be allowed to winge, I've woken up with asthma and a cough today - grah!) Anne and I are working until 1pm, then we're off to Lincoln to spend Christmas with Anne's mum and sisters. After that, it's off to Welwyn to see my lot.

We intend to eat and drink until our bellies are content.

Have fun.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Hacked!

This site was hacked yesterday and replaced with a glib message informing visitors the site had been hacked. Anne was worried we may have lost everything, but it seems only the index page was replaced, and it was on Blogger's database anyway.

It was quite exciting being hacked. Now I will hunt those responsible down...

Thursday, December 16, 2004

I'm a lazy sod

I've had almost three complaints that I've not updated the blog for a few weeks. I have some photos to post, but can't seem to get round to it, not least because my hard drive died on me two weeks ago and I've been trying to recover data and get a working system since then. (My PC's always breaking! Anyone would think my cack-handedness has something to do with it. Anyone would be wrong.)

That's all (fingers crossed) fixed now, so I can get back to the blog. Photos will go up in time, but today (my 30th birthday!) I'll just post a quick note on something odd that happened this morning.

I noticed this morning I have a small rash on my left wrist. Nothing bad, but in order to stop it getting worse I decided I'd wear my watch on my right wrist today. It felt odd wearing my watch on the wrong wrist. It got a lot worse when I drove to work. It felt like I was driving on the wrong side of the car and road, like when I've had a hire car in foreign countries. I couldn't believe how wearing my watch on a different wrist was affecting me so much! I'm finding it hard to type properly at the moment too, as I keep confusing my left and right.

I'm sure there's some interesting neurology going on here, but I'll limit my contribution to superficial anecdotal evidence.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Just join the human race and queue fairly you silly cow!

On Saturday both Anne and I went to London on the train for a friend's 30th birthday. We needed to get a railcard so we queued at the "advanced tickets and railcard" booths. We were near the front when Anne realised she'd need to fill a form in, so we left the queue, filled the form in and joined the queue at the back.

When we were two people from the front of the queue a girl sidled up to the front of the queue and just stood there. She didn't say anything to the person at the front, and it was odd. When the next booth came available, the girl who was rightfully next was having none of it and made sure she got to the booth first. The rude blonde who'd pushed in then went to the next available booth, and another booth came available at the same time, so the girl in front of us just went there.

Well, I'm not putting up with this.

"Excuse me", I said to the rude girl, "There's a queue here."
"I have been queuing", she said abruptly and turned back to the ticket man.
"Not here you haven't", I pointed out, helpfully.
"Yes I have. I was queuing and then went outside to make a phone call" she snapped.
"Erm, I'm sorry but you leave the queue you lose your place" I said, explaining the universally-understood rules. I had no idea if she was telling the truth or not.
"Shut up!" she shouted.

I was getting nowhere with her, so I told the ticket seller she'd pushed in and, get this, HE REFUSED TO SERVE HER. Get in! A member of staff who enforces queue order - wonderful! Eventually the nasty young lady went to the back of the queue whilst shouting at me. I was dead impressed with the member of staff - so often they just wouldn't care.

We got on the train with Anne embarrassed by the confrontation and me with a renewed faith in humanity, chuffed that the guy was willing to "maintain the integrity of the queue" as I put it.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

In her prime

Happy Birthday Anne!

I've been warned to ask Anne to keep tonight free, so now I have to find something to do. One thing I do know is she won't be cooking (she told me this), so it's lucky we got the Breville out of storage at the weekend. It's Birthday Cheese Toasties time!

Anne's not sure about turning 29 today. She liked being 28 because 28 is even, and divisible by four and seven. She told me this morning that 29 didn't seem as good, though it IS prime so I said that should be some compensation.

I'm not kidding here. Anne get's a little stressed if we're watching TV and the volume on the amp is set to 41. If I change it to 42 she's happier, though would much rather it be on 40 or 45.

You may think it harsh that I take the mickey out of my wife on this blog, but I say this: Anne has a Blogger account too, and has every right of reply.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Being stranger on a train

We both miss living in London, but made the decision to move to Cambridge and, so far, don't regret it. Sometimes Anne thinks she'd like to live there again, but I don't. We're near enough to get in and see friends, but don't have to put up with the disadvantages. Working there once or twice a month reminds me how bad the commuting aspect can be.

I went to London last Tuesday for a day in my firm's head office. I had to be up early and trudge down on the train from Cambridge. I got on the train and sat next to a bloke who was about my age. Embarrassingly, we each got our iPods out at the same time. On-lookers would have thought we were twins, I expect. However, I then trumped him with my Train Picnic Breakfast!

First I got my bagel out. Before now I've paid top-whack for breakfast at the station, but no more. Oh no mister - I'm paying two mortgages at the moment and therefore not wasting cash on over-priced pastries. I'd buttered the bagel the night before, and was feeling the other passengers' jealous eyes on me as I tucked in. Then I got my Thermos Flask out, full of piping hot coffee. The previous night I'd set up a timer plug to turn our new coffee machine (wedding present!) on at 6am and that morning I filled the Thermos Flask (another wedding present!) up before I left the house. I was on fire - things were coming together like never before and there I was with a bagel AND a piping hot coffee and I hadn't had to part with the usual £3. Get me!

Of course, the bubble bursts - it always does. Soon the bagel was no more than a memory and a few crumbs on my lap. So...I got out the second pre-buttered bagel! I could hear the other passengers audibly taking sharp intakes of breath (or at least I imagined I could - I was listening to my iPod and therefore couldn't quite hear them).

What a picnic! All I needed was a blanket and some ants and I'd be sorted. Given that I was sitting on a train with a Thermos Flask, I could probably have also added to the image if I had a cardigan and pipe.

The joy was only diminished by the "lady" sitting nearby who insisted on shouting her plans for the day into her mobile for most of the journey. Stupid cow. (I could hear HER over the sound from my iPod no problem.) She was probably just jealous she didn't have a buttered bagel and a hot coffee.

I'm sorry, but I don't have any photos of this for the blog. I hope I've managed to paint you a picture so you can close your eyes and imagine the scene.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Bye bye The Mouse,and Stephen is ill (poor soul)

After our car trouble last weekend, we knew The Mouse (our little red Fiesta) needed replacing. We'd been looking forward to a relaxing weekend, so decided to take Friday off work to go car hunting. Neither of us have much interest in cars, so were pleased to have found and ordered a new(ish) car by 1pm that day. Again, job done! I drove two cars before deciding on the one we wanted - another Fiesta, but this time a "Ghia". I think power steering is going to take some getting used to! We should pick the new one up on Thursday. We were a bit sad when the salesmen (two - one from each of the dealers we went to) looked at The Mouse to asses trade-in value and each told us that the car was not long for this Earth. I think it will be sad to say goodbye to it. Old cars that don't work very well seem to have more personality than new ones. It's ridiculous given that we don't like cars that we're getting sentimental over a dodgy one.

We were chuffed to have got the car-buying out of the way as it left our weekend free for us to start a bit of Christmas shopping, relax in town and do a bit around the house. We even managed to get a man in on Friday to upgrade our TV aerial and fix some botched connections so we can now receive digital TV - hurrah: true anamorphic picture!!

So, on Friday night we decided to celebrate a job well done by going for a meal at an Algerian restaurant nearby. I phone up to book:

Me: "Hello, I'd like to book a table for two tonight."
Him: "GET DOWN HERE. IT'S WET. CLEAN THAT UP!"
Me: "Sorry?"
Him: "Sorry sir, carry on."
Me: "I'd like to book a table for two tonight."
Him: "CLEAN THAT UP! NOT THERE, THERE!"
Me: "Hello?"
Him: "Sorry sir, I wasn't talking to you, I was talking to my mother."

What a charming son!

The restaurant was cosy and the meal was very nice. The downside was I was up at 4am the next morning throwing up. Oh dear. I continued doing this until 6am, and then had a bit more kip. One more sick at 8.30am (is this too much detail?) and then I started to get better and was feeling OK by midday. Well so much for my relaxing Saturday in town - grrr! We did manage to have a big bonfire in our garden on Saturday night and burn the huge pile of cuttings we'd built up. It was good fun (and I hope it didn't upset the neighbours too much).




We spent the rest of the evening relaxing with good food and School of Rock on DVD. Quite a fun movie.

Then, on Sunday, we cut down loads more of the overgrown garden and had another fire that night (our neighbours will hate us!) The garden now looks a confillion times better and we have much more light coming into the house (during the day). Brilliant!

Our three day weekend is now over, and we're more exhausted than ever. Back to work to rest tomorrow.

Woof!

It's been great having my surround sound system set up in the house, but it was missing a subwoofer. I never really felt it was right to have one while we were living in a flat, out of respect for the neighbours, so I'd promised myself one when we got a house. I didn't want to spend much (i.e. couldn't afford to), so was quite frustrated when I read lots of advice saying that a cheap one would be no good at all and may actually detract from the system. I was determined though, and couldn't afford to to increase my budget so went searching on Ebay. I found one and waitied until the last moment to bid - saved £30 or £40. Job done! A large box was delivered to my office a few days later (a bit too large - I think Anne's a bit annoyed as our lounge isn't very big) and we spent Thrursday evening watching Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (as it's now called). Loverly!

Insert sofa pun here

When we moved our stuff from Ealing to Cambridge the other week we found our large sofa was broken. When we sat on it we sunk down low. How did the tennants in our Ealing flat put up with that?? I don't think it was them that broke it - I think it's been breaking over time. The frame had bust, and I ripped the bottom of the sofa open to find the frame was made of chipboard. Well who'd have ever have thought to ask what a sofa frame was made of when you bought it? (Having asked around, everyone seems to be saying "Oh yes, make sure you get a good hardwood frame on a sofa". Wish they'd told us that five eyars ago. Lesson: don't buy an expensive sofa from Next.


Anyway, like the baby Jesus, I became a carpenter last week and fixed it (well, I did what I could). I bought some mending plates and managed to force the broken frame together.


It's not perfect, but it's much better to sit on now. I am like a proper manual worker. Very proud of myself!

Monday, November 08, 2004

The Mouse that roared

Anne and I went up to Bridlington for the weekend to celebrate her "Pompa"'s 80th (!) birthday. We had a fab meal and stayed in a nice little hotel.


On the way home on Sunday our little Fiesta ("The Mouse") was making a lot of noise. I quickly knew the exhaust was going. I'd just been saying we should look this month to get a new car, since I doubt The Mouse will get through its MOT in November. I think it heard me and got all offended.

The noise got louder and loudar as we drove from Bridlington to Cambridge. We countered by turning the volume up on the radio. Louder and louder. "Come on The Mouse!" we chanted, "Come on - just get us home - please!"

As we got into Cambridge I heard a big thud and the noise got even more unbearable. Oh dear. Driving the last mile home was hard as the noise was quite embarrassing. I took the poor thing to Kwik Fit this morning, and they're fixing it as I write this. I didn't want to spend any more money on it, but I couldn't have driven around to look for a new car with the exhaust like this. Here's a photo of poor The Mouse right now:


Poor, poor The Mouse.

Movie Quiz blog entry

On Wednesday evening Anne and I, still exhausted form the weekend, drove to London to take part in a movie quiz. It's called You're Going to Need a Bigger Boat (see here) and takes place in a pub in Highgate. (Interestingly, the pub in which it takes place is the one on which The Winchester pub in the movie Shaun of the Dead was based!)

Our team, In Space No One Can Hear You Cream (formerly Pub Quiz, Hotshot!), has been going to this for a fair while now. Anne and I only joined the team in February this year when we returned from our travels. Regualrs on the team are Tony, Matt, Pete, Gavin, Nigel, Annie, Anne and me. here's a photo:



It's great fun, as we kinda like movies a little (too much). We generally do fairly well, often coming in the top three, but recently we've been doing rather less well and rather more not as good. We put this down to the quiz getting more and more popular, and more media-types with more time on their hands to watch films going along. Can a team consisting mainly of computer programmers plus an accountant, a geneticist and a couple of others really beat people who work in TV or films? Generally, no.

So we were particularly happy to come third this month (just one point behind the joint first placers!) I have to admit we had help from Gavin's brother and some of his mates who do work in films. Still, we came third and you can't take that away from us. You can't!

We missed out on an X Box and Champagne, and made do with third prize of a DVD box set of the Manga series Fist of the Northstar. Pete had that, as he cares about Manga more than the rest of us (i.e. at all).


It's a real slog for Anne and me to get there, and we didn't get back home until between half twelve and one in the morning. It's worth it, because it's a lot of fun, but we were just shattered the next day!

Thursday, November 04, 2004

The girls work too

While I was driving to Ealing, loading up the van and driving back to Cambridge, Anne was sitting on her arse doing sod all.

That's not quite true.

She and her mother-in-law were hard at work at the house back in Cambridge. By the time I got back to the house they'd cleaned it, moved stuff around, and moved a lot of our stuff from the Cambridge flat. I staggered in, exhausted, to find them exhausted too. I was greeted by a cup of coffee and a Club biscuit (not as chocolaty as I remember). It was bliss, only spoiled (for us all) by then having to unload the van.

That took a good hour or two. We were worried about getting the sofas into the lounge, but that proved not to be too much of a problem. The problems were getting the chests of drawers and the beds up the stairs. We got quite jammed with one of the bed frames. We ended up unscrewing it whilst it was jammed between the wall and the bannister. It collapsed on us in a rain of planks! How we laughed.


It was time to go to Sainsburys to get a box of easy-to-cook Chinese food and a bottle of Champagne. This must be what removal men's days are like every day.

After dinner we made our beds (literally) and collapsed into them. Knackered.

You'd have thought that would have been a full weekend's work, wouldn't you? You would, yes. But no - we spent Sunday driving about in the van collecting even more stuff and taking old carpets and stuff to the tip. We emptied the Cambridge flat and moved all our stuff from my mum's house. She's been storing loads of stuff since we went travelling in February 2003, and must be glad to be rid of it all.

Anne nearly broke down when she saw how much stuff we had (most of it junk). We threw out a lot of stuff before we went travelling, and had a car boot sale to rid ourselves of yet more. How do we still have so much?? After surviving for a year with only what we could carry we're determined not to build up a stash of rubbish now we're in our house. What do you think the chances are?

My sister and her boyfriend, Chris (fiance really I suppose!) came up to help us. They had the pleasant task of helping me move my 32" widescreen TV. Owning one of those things is enough to make you want to never move home. It's heavier than me I think! Worse, it's very difficult to grip.

I was a little sad to drop the van back at the rental place on Monday morning (though glad that the hard work was over - our stuff is finally in one place now after nearly two years of upheaval). I drove to work in my Fiesta feeling very low down. All the van drivers were looking down on me and I didn't like it. I didn't like it one bit. Anne and I will need a new car soon. I may start looking at getting a 3.5 tonne Luton van with tail-lift!

New comments sytem on blog

Haloscan commenting and trackback have been added to this blog.

(That bit was automatically generarated. This bit is actually me!

The comments facility shoould work better now!

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

L'homme de camion blanc? Oui, c'est moi.

That's right - I was White Van Man last weekend. Despite initial nerves I was soon feeling very relaxed behind the wheel and enjoying myself. I made sure I was very courteous to other drivers on the road, lest I be judged a selfish git. This courtesy wasn't all altruism: I was so high up and looking down on everyone I almost felt like all other people were my subjects and hence my kindness came more from pity than a genuine desire to do good.

I met up with two friends (subjects), Craig and Tony, in Ealing. They'd kindly agreed to help me empty our Ealing flat (which we're in the process of selling) and load the van. It was bloody tough work, frankly.


Those of us who sit behind a desk every day at work quickly forget what manual work is like and we showed ourselves up by being shattered. That said, we got the job done with minimal damages and did ourselves proud. (A wardrobe got a little broken, and only our nouse saved a sofa from falling to its doom over the stairs - other than that, no probs.)

It was a lovely sunny day. We lunched on sandwiches in the garden and I have to say I enjoyed it.

Especially playing with the tail lift on the van. That never got boring.



It was a little sad to say goodbye to Anne's and my old flat though.

Blog problems

I've been having problems.

I've gone over my quota on the free webspace I was using, and have had to pay to upgrade to an enhanced account. This has left my blog offline for a few days (well, I've not been able to access it, but friends tell me they can and there are no photos up). I'll sort it out in the next day or so I hope. I have some photos of our weekend spent moving furniture, so I'll get those uploaded when I can.

Aha! I can see it now, and it seems the photos are missing, as are all the other pages (Metro letters, family tree data...). Must mean I've been moved to another (presumably upgraded) server. I'll have to upload all my files to this new server. Given that Virgin have been unable to get broadband installed at our new house this could be a slow process. I should be able to keep the blog going though - you lucky lucky people.

Monday, November 01, 2004

London calling

After a hectic Friday to Tuesday doing up the house last week we found going back to work quite restful. We still popped over there in the evenings (Anne's to finish off the bedroom, me to varnish the living room floor) but nothing too strenuous. On Friday some friends from my years at The Economist, Andrew and Shae, with whom we stayed in Sydney last year had drinks in London so we sodded the house and I planned to go there. I wangled it so I was working in London that day and after work walked from Buckingham Palace Road to Oxford Street to meet up with lots of ex-colleagues. Walking through some very touristy areas made me feel like I wasn't a local (which I'm not any more) so I joined in by taking some touristy photos.

Here are some London bobbies near Buckingham Palace:


And here's me, looking psychotic outside the Queen's house. Surprising the policemen didn't have their eye on me looking like this:

I couldn't stay for drinks too late. I needed to be up at the crack of dawn the next day to pick up my step-climbing sack barrow and Luton Van with tail lift. We had a big weekend planned.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Our last day off work

It's back to work on Wednesday, so we made the most of our last day off by trying to get the lounge and main bedroom done.

Anne's nearly finished the bedroom now. She'll finish glossing the skirting boards and picture rail in the evenings. Here's a picture of her painting:


And I ploughe don with the lounge. Having sanded the floor yesterday I filled the gaps today. There were some big gaps, and I was unsure if the boards were going to be suitable to be left bare with such big gaps between them. I got some filler and started filling. Within 40 minutes I was out of filler and had hardly filled any gaps, so I went back to Homebase and got three more tubes. An expensive business this DIY! Before we left the house this evening I'd sanded the filler, and put the first coat of varnish on. Getting there - yay! This photo is before the first coat of varnish:


It's good having the garden to hack away at. When we've been tired of working indoors, in need of fresh air, or waiting for paint or filler to dry we've been nipping outside to cut away at some of the dense floiage. We now have a huge pile of cuttings and much more space in the garden. It'll take a lot of work but it should be fun. I hope we're allowed fires in our garden, as I think we'll need them to get rid of all the stuff we've cut down.

Finally, yesterday we met some more of our neighbours. On one side we have John and Mary, on the other side John and Margaret, and opposite we have Jack and Mary. I can't see that getting confusing at all!

Monday, October 25, 2004

Too tired to post

A long day. We're too tired to write a blog, so here it is.

We hired a floor sander today, pulled the carpets up in three rooms, and sanded the floorboards. It was long, tiring work.

Luckily, removing the carpets wasn't too much of a problem, since in two of the bedrooms they were laid loose, with no underlay - only old newspapers under them(!). Hmmm. The lounge carpet was actually laid properly, so that was a little more time consuming to pull up.

The floors are now sanded. I'm currently in two minds as to whether the floorboards are good enough to leave bare - we'll have to wait and see what they look like when the gaps are filled and the floors are varnished. Doing this may put us off our schedule to have the main bedroom and lounge finished by the weekend (we only have tomorrow off, then we're back at work) but it should be worth it as:
1) it's best to do the sanding now when we have almost nothing in the house as dust gets everywhere;
2) if the floors turn out to be OK left bare we'll have nice wooden floors in many of the rooms;
3) I got to dress up:

The sanding machine itself was heavy as hell, but it made the sanding reasonably straight-forward. We had to do a lot of preparing though - meaning making sure all nails were a bit below the surface. We lost a few sheets of sanding paper to slightly protruding nails.


Add so to bed. We're pooped!

Sunday, October 24, 2004

In which we see a small baby and Anne kills some plants

Hello. I was pleased that yesterday Anne finally got around to doing her first post on this new blog. She's a fairly reluctant blogger, but loves it really.

This morning we raced off to Welwyn Garden City first thing to see our friends Kate and Dom and their four week old baby, Amelia. Kate had said that if I arrived before 10am I'd probably get a cuddle. I was a little disappointed when I arrived and realised she meant a cuddle with the baby! Rather than a cuddle from Kate. Which I just pretended to make it look like that's what I thought she meant. Do you see?

Amelia is a sweet baby, and I was terrified of damaging her. I think it's enough responsibility buying a house. What must it be like to have a little baby??!

Here's Daddy Dom adoring Amelia, and Anne confusing her:


Aaaah!

Once we'd seen the baby (and what she fills her nappy with!) we drove back to Cambridge to continue with our decorating tasks. My mum came up to see the place and help out, and of course we had no problem finding some work for her to do. She helped me paint the living room and pointed out that I'd been painting it quite inefficiently the whole time. I'd been having real trouble painting the ceiling - the red kept showing through - but mum managed to cover it up completely. Star - thanks mum!

(NB: We obviously don't have the right to criticise the previous owners' colour schemes (red ceilings?) as we painted our loo bright pink in our flat in Ealing.)

Anne had a bit of a headache, so after a few hours painting the bedroom decided to get some fresh air. No rest for her though - she went into the garden and cut back the bushy foliage...

The garden's looking bigger already.


...and ended up with a huge pile of branches. At least we'll have something to burn the effigy of a Catholic on this November 5th.

We also had a go at the ivy on the front of the house (see photo in an earlier post) so we should be rid of that eventually.

We're so very tired.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

DIY Monkeys

Phew, I'm pooped!

We were up early this morning. Well, I was up at 8am. Stephen was "too excited" and was awake at 4am. We had a sausage breakfast and then went over to our new house.

Stephen tackled the living room. He has bravely put three coats of white paint over the red ceiling, however, red is still showing through.

I tackled the master bedroom, spending the whole morning stripping wallpaper.

We had a picnic lunch on the floor (no chairs or table yet) and then did another trip to Homebase. I was too tired to decide on paint colours, so I let Stephen choose. I hope I won't live to regret this.

We then spent the afternoon doing more DIY. Stephen continued in the living room, beginning to get some colour on the walls. I put the undercoat on in the bedroom. At around 4pm I felt we deserved a coffee break. I made the coffees and called Stephen in. Whilst he was cleaning the paint brushes, I ate a Wagonwheel. Then we sat down with coffee. Stephen ate his Wagonwheel, and I decided I needed another one.


Stephen thought this hilarious. I burnt a lot of calories this morning stripping wallpaper.

By six o'clock I had had enough. We cleaned up and popped to Sainsbury's to buy a naughty tea. Whilst we were there we stumbled across the "Well being" aisle.

As you may be able to see from the picture, it was stacked high with Quality Street and Celebrations. How we laughed. (We were very tired.)

Off to Welwyn tomorrow to see a new baby, then back to the grindstone.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Our new house!

Lots of photos for you today. You lucky people!

We completed on the house around lunchtime today - yay! It's strange that until this morning it was someone else's home. The people we bought it off have lived there for over ten years. Wonder how they felt to be leaving it.

I pegged it to the estate agents and picked up the keys. I went straight to the house (meeting our adjoining neighbours as I arrived) and ran around the house seeing what it was like. We knew the decor was a bit shabby, but some of it was better than we expected. It was all a little overwhelming.

Anne phoned and I picked her up from work. We had a quick trip to Homebase (me playing the part of Neil Morrissey) and then got started with the work. Look at hard working us! We have Monday and Tuesday off work, and don't need to be out of our flat for a week or two so we have a lot to do before we move in. Many of the walls need some work, but our main priorities before we move in are the lounge and main bedroom. Once those are done we can move in and the rest of the rooms can be decorated while we're living there.

The lounge had blue walls, dark green woodwork, and a dark red ceiling.

I'm not kidding. Seriously. Here's a photo:

You see! The first thing we did was to put some white on the walls and ceiling. Tomorrow we'll finish off the white on the ceiling, do the wood white, and choose a colour for the walls. This room has to be relaxing. It's where my big TV and surround sound system will go. In two weeks I hope to be watching Star Wars on DVD in theis room WITH a sub-woofer (which I was never allowed to have in a flat!)


The garden's packed with bushy plants, and that makes it look quite small. In fact it's not small at all. We intend to hack at the plants a lot to free up some space. We have TWO sheds (like Arthur 'Two Sheds' Jackson in that Monty Python sketch!) Here are some photos of the garden:



Best of all we have fruit. There's an apple tree in the garden:


And there's a "pergola" outside the patio doors with vines growing over it. On the vines I was surprised to see loads of grapes (not quite ripe yet)!


Here's two more photos. First the "family room" (essentially a largish dining room which is joined onto the kitchen):

And then Anne's initial attempts at stripping the wallpaper in the main (master!) bedroom:

So we're tired now (though of course not so tired that I can't do a blog entry). We came back to the flat at 7.30 and ordered a take-away curry. Lovely.

We're very excited about this house, and quite daunted by the work we have to do.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Right said Fred...

All our digits are crossed re: completing on the house tomorrow. If we do complete we'll have lots to do; not least getting all our furniture out of our flat in Ealing (which we're in the process of selling) and the rest of our stuff from my mum's house in Welwyn. My mum's been storing loads of our stuff since January 2003, so when we finally get it all to Cambridge she'll have half her garage back, and plenty of room in her loft! We must have so much junk. Having survived a year abroad with only what we could carry, and then eight months in Cambridge in a small flat I wonder if we'll just want to throw a lot of stuff away once we've figured out what we have.

Moving the stuff from Ealing may be difficult, as we'll have to get it all out of the door and down the stairs. There's not a heck of a lot there, but some of what is there will be awkward to lift and manoeuvre - notably two sofas, a washing machine and a fridge freezer.

With this in mind I've been researching ways to do the job. Having decided against paying a packet for real removal men, I've decided to rent a van and a "sack barrow" type trolley and do it myself. I've also roped some friends in using vague promises of drinks at a later date.

The van is a Luton Box Van with a tail lift. The trolley is a special step climbing one. It makes it easier to go up and down stairs using a diggy three wheel gadget.

I'm quite excited about this - it should be fun driving a big van around! It's a little frightening too though.

House?

Having lived in flats pretty much continuously since I left uni in 1997 (save short periods staying at my mum's) (and then lots of nights in hostels in 2003) we're now on the cusp of acquiring a proper grown-up house.

Obviously that depends on whether we complete on Friday. We had a few false starts when it came to exchange, so we're not counting our chickens.

(We have none to count.)

I digress.

Living in a house rather than a flat will be really odd for many reasons, not least:
- having an upstairs AND a downstairs: I fear we'll lose each other;
- having a garden which we can access by walking out of the door, rather than out the door, down the steps and round the downstairs neighbour's garden;
- having a back door! One more entrance to secure from burglars I suppose;
- having to clean more rooms than ever - I may be in trouble here;
- being able to have people round to stay without them (necessarily) having to sleep on the floor (this is not an open invite - please call in advance).

It all feels a bit odd and grown-up. Mind you, I turn 30 in eight weeks so perhaps it's about time I felt grown up.

Naaah.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Brits say "Bush out"

The Guardian are encouraging readers to write to people in key US election states (e.g. Ohio) to encourage them not to vote for Bush and explain how important it is for the world that Bush is not re-elected. They've published some of the emails they've had from US citizens, many of whom are incensed by this:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uselections2004/story/0,13918,1329858,00.html

They're quite amusing. Whilst I agree with The Guardian (I don't know if Kerry's the right man for the job, but at the moment he's the only alternative) I can't help agreeing with the sentiment (if not the words) of some of the Yanks' indignant responses at the interference of Brits in their election. If we're not careful they'll get ratty and start wasting tea by throwing it in the harbour again.

On the other hand, the Yanks couldn't pull themselves together to not vote for another Bush at the last election (and not complain much when he became president fraudulently), so perhaps they do need our help.

Maybe we could all help to get rid of Bush, by foul means, and then defend ourselves by saying "Yes, our reasons were wrong, but isn't the world a better place without him?"

And refusing point blank to apologise for our underhandedness.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

"WILL YOU SHUT THAT BL**DY PC UP!"

We've been living in a one-bed flat in Cambridge for over seven months now. My PC is in the living room, and when it's turned on it sounds like an airliner is taking off. Anne's hates the noise (and it even annoys me). Last week I was round my friend Tony's flat in North London and saw his housemate's PC. He'd recently silenced his PC using all sorts of jiggery-pokery. It was almost completely silent - fantastic!

I was convinced, and quickly ordered a big (9cm in diameter) heatsink/fan combo for my processor (as I realised my current processor heatsink/fan was the loudest thing in my PC). It's a beast.

I installed it last night. Anne was very concerned that I'd break something in my PC (as I have before when fiddling with it) but hid her stress well. (She wasn't that bothered that I'd break it, I guess, as worried that she'd have to put up with my miserable face when I did.) I sat on the armchair with the motherboard on my lap, cleaning the grime off the processor with an old toothbrush.

I fitted it all and put the PC back together. The moment of truth came and I turned it on...

I hadn't broken it - hurrah!

The PC was noticeably quieter than before - much more bearable. Of course, the next loudest thing is now the loudest thing: the fan on my graphics card.

So do I now obsessively try to eliminate all sound from my PC and spend a fortune, or do I make do with what I've achieved? The latter may be the better option at the moment, especially as we don't have much cash (from Friday we'll be paying two mortgages!) and the PC won't be in the living room when we move into our new place.

It is much quieter than it was though. I'm quite pleased. And I always enjoy poking around inside my PC - especially when my PC still works after I've done so.

This post was brought to you by the words nerd and tragic.

Exchange!

Huzzah! Having made an offer on a house in Cambridge back in (I think) June, we finally exchanged yesterday and the aim is to complete THIS FRIDAY!

After nearly two years of upheaval will we finally get a bit settled? Will I finally get my surround sound system set up? Will we end up locked in by overgrown ivy?

Watch this space.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Congratulations!

My sister returned from holiday last night and announced that her boyfriend, Chris, had proposed (marriage) to her while they were away. She said yes. So they're now engaged.

Congrats to them! (I wonder if Lindsay will go a bit psycho-bride at first like Anne did!)

The Lincoln Sausage Festival

This weekend we went to Woodhall Spa in Lincolnshire to visit Anne's mum and step-dad. They had a treat lined up for us on Saturday: a visit to The Lincoln Sausage Festival (I kinda gave that one away in the title to this post didn't I).

The last time I went to a cultural event in Lincolnshire it was the Lincolnshire Agricultural Show a few years back. That was an odd experience, and I was taken aback to see a load of pig cartcasses hanging up inside a tent, graded for quality. The pig whose skinned corpse won first prize must have been rather proud, up there in pig heaven.

Lincoln is a pretty little city with a nice cathdral on a steep hill (called Steep Hill).
I went armed with my camera, and was pleased, yet disappointed, not to see loads of misused apostrophes (spotting those is usually how I entertain myself around markets).

Luckily there was plenty there to keep me entertained. Check out these zany guys:

Here's a photo of me buying some fudge, packed for me by a kindly lady:

This evening we braved the caravan-infested roads to return to Cambridge, laden with fudge and Lincolnshire sausages. Yay!

Thursday, October 14, 2004

What not to not watch

So the question is: am I to review movies on this site? I started doing that on our travel diary and it just got silly as I then had to review each and every film we saw (and we saw a lot).

This time, I won't let the obsessive side get the better of me, and I'll just mention films as and when the desire takes me. Let's see if that works.

And I won't be assigning star ratings this time either!

On Saturday we went to the Arts Picturehouse in Cambridge and saw the British film Dead Man's Shoes. It was very good. Having read Empire's review I thought it would be a gory slasher film, but it wasn't - it was interesting and quite different.

How many stars, you ask? I'm not doing star ratings. Are you simple?

We like the Arts Picturehouse, as it's not a grotty multiplex like the Cineworld or the Vue cinema. The staff aren't uninterested imbeciles. We figure you get a better class of cinema goer at the Picturehouse. We may be wrong in that assumption. There were only about eight other people in the cinema watching the film with us, so we were surprised that a few of them turned out to be anti-social idiots. A couple of them talked a fair bit during the film, and one woman answered a call on her mobile. What is going on???

We've just got the DVD of That Peter Kay Thing. I've not seen these before, but I loved Phoenix Nights so thought I'd check it out. We watched the first two episodes tonight - great stuff.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Dustin' off the cobwebs


So what's new?

  • We're back from our year of travels;
  • We've abandoned London and are trying to sell our flat in Ealing;
  • We've relocated to Cambridge, got new jobs and are currently embroiled in House-Buying-Hell;
  • We got married in August 2004.

i.e. quite a lot is new, so it's about time we brought this web site up to date a bit.

At the moment, most of this web-site is the same as it ever was, but I've put a new "front end" on it (a blog, really, which will make it easier for us to update with new pap whenever the urge takes us). I've take it off of Freeserve's ("Wanadoo's") servers and onto another free webspace provider since Freeserve (or "Wanadoo") only let you FTP your webspace if you're connected via Wanadoo, and I don't use them any more.

At some point, once we're in the new house I'll do some work and remove the stinky frames from other areas of the web site. For the moment though I'll just update it a little.