Thursday, December 29, 2005

Coming soon...

According to one of Anne's books, by the time Anne was 35 weeks pregnant I should have learnt how to make my own breakfast. I like to think I am that prepared.

I'd say we're pretty much ready for The Bean's arrival now (he/she is due on Saturday!) We've had a relaxing Christmas, seeing King Kong at the pictures on the 23rd, entertaining my mum, sister and brother-in-law on Christmas Eve, and spending much of Christmas Day itself doing Saturday's Guardian cryptic crossword (we have Anne's dad to thank for that - he gave us some tantilising hints on Christmas morning).

We spent much of yesterday afternoon in the hospital, with Anne's blood pressure being monitored. It's been a bit high occasionally, which could be a sign of problems, but she has no other symptoms so this was just a precaution. Anne wants a home birth, so we have all our fingers crossed in the hope that that will be possible.

I returned to work today, and when I got home (after I was handed a G&T by Anne, and had eaten my dinner) we put the birthing pool together. The instuctions say it should take 15 minutes, but we'd heard people talk of it taking a couple of hours so were a bit wary.


It turned out to be straight-forward, and 20 minutes later we had a swimming pool under the Christmas tree, in place of our dining room table (now relegated to the kitchen).

Monday, December 12, 2005

You need a licence for a dog

Anne's becoming increasingly inept in her ninth month of pregnancy. This morning she accidentally kicked our PC at home and switched it off.

I am making sure I get as much mileage as I can out of this sort of clumsiness, and yet in some ways I can't really push it too far. At the weekend I managed to spill half a cup of coffee over our living room by kicking it out of my own hand with my foot.

Don't ask.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Two loonies in Canada

Well haven't I been lazy with the blog? Yes.

We've been a bit busy I suppose. We've had many an antenatal class. That's taken up some time. The NHS (National Health Service) ones were a bit rubbish, but the NCT (National Childbirth Trust) ones were good. I look forward to the NSA (National Security Agency) antenatal classes as well as the NCP (National Car Parks) ones. Of course these last two don't exist (to my knowledge). I just put those ones down because they were three letter alphabetisations with N as a first letter. It was a joke.

I never finished telling you and the world about our trip to Canada did I. Well most of the details are on Ian's blog (link to the left) so you can go there in a futile attempt to satiate your insatiable hunger for more details of our lives. However, I will add a short description of one thing that happened in Canada that had me momentarily confused.

Ian, Sarah, Anne and I were in Algonquin National Park and I went to the counter to pay the entrance fee for our car. It was $12.

I handed the lady a $20 bill. I knew I had a two dollar coin, so I went to fish it out of my pocket. Before I could find it the lady asked me a question.

Lady: Do you have atoonee?

Me: Sorry??

Lady: Atoonee. Do you have atoonee?

Me: ...

Lady: Or two loonies? Two loonies would do?

I had Ian and Sarah in the car. I suspected they were loonies and thought that perhaps the lady was offering me a discount for having loonies in the car.

Me: Erm...

I found the two dollar coin and handed it to the lady, trying to distract her from her mental talk.

Lady: Perfect!

Ian explained later that a toonie is a two dollar coin. The name comes from slang for a one dollar coin - the loonie, so-named as it has a picture of a loon bird on it.

Glad that was cleared up. The lady could see I was a tourist. Was she just trying to baffle me?

Friday, October 21, 2005

Given the length of time since our last post, you might think we've given up. But we haven't. Here's an image showing the countries of the world I've visited coloured red. I expect you'll be able to click the link under it and create one for yourself.

There are vast areas I've never been to. A fine time to realise I've got to get some traveling under my belt - ten weeks before Anne is due to drop our first sprog.



create your own visited countries map

Friday, September 23, 2005

Wild wild ouest

We've been having a great time in Canada, relaxing and also seeing lots of things. We went to the Canadian War Museum on Friday which was pretty good (though not as good as the one in Canberra).

NB: I'm having trouble uploading photos (other than the chipmunk one below) so will add more photos once I've returned home to the UK.

The museum we'd been to on the previous day was on the Quebec side of the Ottawa river, whereas this one was on the Ontario side. Even this short distance apart we noticed the French side was less friendly and people (locals) were more willing to barge past us (even willing to walk into Anne, whose bump is now quite obvious). Zut alors!

We'd planned to go to a drive-in theatre on Friday night, but the weather took a turn for the worse so we stayed in, gorged on pick and mix and watched Million Dollar Baby on DVD. It represents everything that is bad about Oscar winning movies. Avoid.

We were all up bright and early on Saturday for a two day trip to Algonquin National Park, a three hour drive west of Ottawa. After a coffee and donut in Barry's Bay on the way, we arrived at The Most Bizarre Bed and Breakfast there is, where we'd reserved rooms. There were stuffed animals everywhere and the reception had junk all around, including odd pictures of Elvis and lots of colourful decorations. The rooms were much the same. Sarah was clearly concerned, so I helped out by pointing out the similarities between this and The Bates Motel in Psycho. I like to think I made things easier for Sarah as she turned white.

But we weren't hanging around in the B&B. We picked up a picnic lunch and drive to the park. We were hoping to see bears, mooses and beavers. After our picnic failed to attract a bear (we feel the cartoon Yogi Bear must be inaccurate) we went for our first 2km walk and failed to spot any decent wildlife. The scenery was grand though, especially as the trees are just starting to change colour for the autumn.

Anne and I quite got into our walks when travelling in 2003, and a 2km walk would usually take about 20 minutes normally, or 40 over rough terrain. For some reason this walk took about an hour and a half. Part of the reason was Anne was unable to scrabble uphill as well as she used to due to her impregnated state, but I guess also we did a lot of standing near beaver-dams waiting and watching, hoping to catch a glimpse of a proper Canadian beaver. We also had to wait around when Sarah lost her hat in the lake - see Ian and Sarah's blog for the ridiculous story.

We did a few more walks on the Saturday, and whilst we saw no mooses, beavers or bears, we did see some chipmunks. When we saw the first one, Anne and I were really interested and took loads of photos. By the end of the weekend we'd seen so many that we were not too interested in them. How fickle we are.



On Saturday night, after dinner, Anne had a bath in the whirlpool bath in our room. I monkeyed around behind the shower curtain to amuse her, as carrying The Bean around is taking its toll on her. It wasn't long before I managed to brain myself on a towel rail and collapsed on the bed, writhing in agony. Anne couldn't see what had happened as the shower curtain was in the way, and she couldn't hear my screams due to the bath-pump. Ian and Sarah, in the next room, thought we were having rather too much fun, though the pain on my head (which I could still feel three days later) said otherwise.

We survived the night in The Bates Motel (actually called The Bellwood) and went back to the park for another walk on Sunday. We went to the visitors centre for a coffee and brownie before leaving to return to Ottawa, and saw some stuffed animals, including a beaver and a bear-head. I guess we'll have to make do with that, since no bears seemed to want to maul us in the wild.

Monday was less exciting. Anne and I went swimming in an indoor pool. The pool is in the Chinatown area of Ottawa, so we were swimming with old Chinese people. This meant I could legitimately swim in the fast lane! After that we walked back to The Glebe, the area in which Ian and Sarah live, and had a crepe lunch in a really good natural food cafe. Anne had to drag me away from the pudding section afterwards as she reminded me we'd be going for hot chocloate and a brownie when Ian and Sarah got back from work. We had a hot chocolate; but no brownie. Anne is a liar who is always denying me my chocolate brownies.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Holidaying in Ottawa

We flew to Canada on Thomas Cook Airlines. It was almost £200 (per person) cheaper than many of its competitors (and a direct flight). We were a little wary, but it turned out to be fine. No frills, but plenty of leg room and reasonable service. No TV in the back of the seats, and we ignored the movies on the small TVs in the ceiling (Mr & Mrs Smith and X Men). Instead we did Sudokus and ate several meals.

We were met at Ottawa by Ian and Sarah and a sign saying "Dr, Mr and The Bean Kent-Taylor". It was a very welcoming welcome. Ian forgot where he'd parked the car. When we found it we drove back to their apartment in The Glebe, a nice old area of Ottawa. We had another meal and chatted until we were exhausted.

Ian and Sarah are working during the week, so Anne and I spent Tuesday recovering from lack of sleep and exploring the area near to the apartment. It's 30 degrees here and we were pooped and hot.

On Wednesday Anne and I went to the Canadian Parliament and had a free tour. It's a great building and was interesting to see the centre of Canadian democracy. We've now seen the parliaments of Australia (Federal), New South Wales (state) and Canada, and yet have never been into the British Parliament.

We met Sarah and Ian in town after they'd finished work. We picked up food for a picnic in a supermarket and drove for miles to find a good spot for to eat it. When we found somewhere the wind was picking up, and so we had our picnic in the beginnings of a storm. For the first time since we arrived it was cold. Even so, I've not laughed so much in ages and it's good to be spending time with them.

Today we've been to The Canadian Museum of Civilisation and seen lots of exhibits on the aboriginal Canadians and Canadian history. We're now shattered, especially Anne who is finding carrying the weight of The Bean tiring.

We've been trying to figure out what differentiates the Canadian accent from the American accent. We asked Ian and Sarah:
Me: Can you recognise a Canadian accent?
I&S: Yeah - easy.
Me: So you can tell a Canadian and American accent apart?
I&S: Oh no - we've no idea how to do that.

Hmmm. What did they think I was asking?

Sunday, September 11, 2005

The great blog crossover

We're flying off to Canada tomorrow. Ottawa, in fact. Anne's only 24 week's pregnant, so can still travel. Our friends Ian and Sarah are living in Ottawa and have offered to put us up for a couple of weeks. And we wanted to grab the opportunity as people tell us that travelling won't be so easy after The Bean's born (I read the other day that you can't check babies in with your luggage on planes, and must take them into the cabin with you!)

They blog their Ottawa experience here, so you'll be able to read both sides of the story of our visit.

The Bean is going to be a well travelled Bean. It's already been to New York and Atlanta (though as a stowaway - Anne didn't know she was up the duff at the time).

Gender stereotype day

We had a busy gender-stereotype day today, doing jobs. I spent the morning stripping wallpaper in the smallest bedroom (which is to become the nursery if I can pull my finger out and get it finished). Anne changed the bedding, did some washing and put washing away, made bacon butties for brekkie, cleaned the bathroom, stewed some (home-grown) rhubarb, and roasted some (home-grown) tomatoes to make pasta sauce.

Yes, that sounds like Anne did loads more than me, but mine was one big job and hers were lots of smaller jobs. Stop nagging me.

After lunch (soup, for those who care) we went to a "nearly new sale" run by the NCT (National Childbirth Trust) to see what sort of things you can buy there (we weren't intending to buy anything - just looking). We'd only been there a few minutes when it became clear that Anne had a bad attitude and wasn't going to be much use. She got all hormonal (something that she never used to get before she got pregnant and so finds it particularly hard to deal with) and ended up in tears. She announced she didn't think she could cope with kids and would rather be living in London and drinking in All Bar One after work.

In order to make her feel better I took her to a local garden centre and bought her some new gardening gloves. That did the trick.

Anne later said she didn't mean it about All Bar One.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Place your bets!

Apparently a mother always knows what sex her Bean will be. I can honestly say I haven't got the foggiest. So, given the early failure in womens' intuition I am having to rely on more scientific methods.

I'm carrying the weight out front, so it's a BOY.
I'm carrying high, so it's a GIRL.
I had morning sickness early in preganncy, so it's a GIRL.
The baby's heartbeat is greater than 140bpm, so it's a GIRL.
I have no desire for orange juice, so it's a BOY.
I'm looking particularly good during pregnancy (ahem), so it's a BOY.
My belly looks like a basketball (as opposed to a watermelon), so it's a BOY.
The sum of the my age at conception and the number of the month of conception is an odd number, so it's a GIRL.

So, there we have. A 50:50 chance of having a girl or a boy. And who said Old Wives' Tales weren't accurate?

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

The Spawn of Kent-Taylor Returns

We had our 20 week scan today!

The photo we got isn't as good as the 12 week one (I don't think it is anyway) but it was great to see the little tyke kicking and moving. We saw its heart beating and they did lots of measurements. Everything (they could see) was fine, and sizes were slightly above average. Yay - a behemoth bean!

Exterior view:


Interior view (click for larger image):


Well I didn't originally think it was too good, but Anne's just pointed out to me that you can see its toes. I think that's pretty cool.

Halfway there now. Not to be opened until after Christmas...

Monday, August 08, 2005

Fancy that

A few weeks ago Anne and I went to a five year old's birthday party. Given out impending parenthood, Simon and Kate had thought we might like a taste of what they have to put up with day in day out, so invited us to their son Sam's party. It was fancy dress, with a superhero theme.

Sam, who likes The Incredibles (as do I) went as Dash. His two year old brother, Nathan, went as Noddy. Not really a superhero, but I let it pass with just a stern word. We had to decide on costumes. We don't have a lot of imagination so it was a bit of a strain. Here's me with Nathan:


That's right, I was The Hulk! The funny thing is, Nathan didn't seem to think it odd that I was green from head to toe. (Less than a week later, the area of Birmingham we were in was hit by a "tornado". No one seems to have connected the extensive damage with The Hulk's appearance, so I'm keeping quiet.)

Anne's was slightly less exciting and went as Catwoman. Julie-Newmar-era Catwoman, you understand, not Halle Berry.


I have to say, it was slightly exhausting with all those kids running around everywhere. It's a good few years before we have to put up with kids of that age, so perhaps we'll be better equipped to cope by then, but Anne and I had a great time as some of the few adults there withoput any real responsibilities.

I went on the bouncy castle and I had ice cream.

Most of Sam's school class were there and he had lost of gifts. Some of the gifts were pretty good, and I look forward to my kid getting presents I want to play with. However, some weren't so good, and I look forward to upsetting my child when I tell him/her that he/she can't have the latest plastic tat his school friends are raving about.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

The drum 'n' bass Bean

Anne saw the midwife today and was able to listen to The Bean's heartbeat. It was beating at 152bpm, which I gather means it's equivalent to drum 'n' bass.

He/she likes to move it move it. I suspect.

Monday, July 18, 2005

He's got the whole world in his RAM...

As a father to be, you can well imagine how preoccupied I am with the impending change in my life. A blog seems like a great place to get that sort of thing off my chest and wax lyrical about what's to come, my hopes and fears etc.

With that in mind, I want to write today about Google Earth.

Goodness me! I haven't been so impressed with a piece of software since Ghostbusters on the Commodore 64. Google Earth is just marvelous, and if you have a broadband connection and a reasonable graphics card (it doesn't have to be top of the range or anything) I recommend you install it NOW. (Oh, I think you need a PC too, so Mac owners will have to wait. Sorry.)

It's basically a piece of software with which to view satellite imagery of the Earth. I can zoom in from space to see my house quite clearly. Great stuff!

(I'm playing about with a new way to upload images to Blogger here. They will look smaller than the files I upload, but when you click on them they'll show the full image. I'll give it a try and see if I like it.)


Monday, June 27, 2005

The Spawn of Kent-Taylor

Not a lot to say here. Anne's 13 weeks pregnant and we went for the "12 week" scan this morning and things are looking fine so far. Yay! Here are some pics:


The Spawn of Kent-Taylor plans to come out and see us on New Year's Eve, all being well. Hurrah!

I'm still in a slight state of shock having watched the little thing kicking and flailing on the monitor. We could see its face!

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Cottaging in The Peak District

Yes, I know we've been a bit quiet of late. Here's another update though.

We've just come back from The Peak District. We hired a cottage in Butterton, a (very) small village in Staffordshire. It was a lovely little converted barn. Very cosy, and just what we needed. We did a lot of relaxing and slept late. We also did a fair amount of exploring.

On Friday we visited Chatsworth House, a bog ol' house with big ol' grounds. We didn't go in the house itself (we went to Wimpole Hall near where we live last week so figured we'd done stately homes for the week) but went round the gardens and had a baked potato with bean goulash (each!) in the cafe.

There was a maze in the gardens, so Anne and I split up and raced to the centre. I was there ages before Anne and could hear her grumbling about being lost as I sat on a bench feeling proud of myself and pretending to Anne I was eating both the chewey bars we'd brought with us. The first two photos in the diggy collage below are us celebrating in the centre of the maze (Anne did finally make it). We also had a good look round the kitchen garden. Their veggies are doing much better than ours. (In fact our fruits aren't doing great now either - we returned home to find our strawberry plants dying. We think they have a fungal infection. Grr!) Anyway, Chatsworth was quite good, but a bit expensive. We had to pay £1.50 to park, and also pay to go into the gardens. (Obviously we'd have also had to pay if we'd gone to the farm or house.) I can see why they charge for the car park, as I guess people go there and just sit on the grass and have picnics, but I reckon they should refund the cost of parking if you decide to pay to see the house, gardens etc. The Duke of Devonshire - take note.



Later on Friday we went to the nearby town of Bakewell and found ourselves surrounded by coachloads of old people. It's nice to feel young every now and then! We hunted down a Bakewell Tart to take home and have for pudding that evening, and also had a sneaky scone with cream and jam. Yup - it was THAT sort of break. The sort heavily punctuated with baked goods.

On Saturday we went to Matlock Baths and went by cable car the The Heights of Abraham. This was a couple of caves on a hill. There were good views of the surround area (from outside the caves) and we also had a baked potato there too. It was a good tourist attraction, and we got three hours' entertainment for our £9 (each).

That night we had an odd game of Jenga back in the cottage. It was odd because the tower refused to fall down and we eventually got the tower as high as we could with the blocks supplied. We tired of it and knocked it down, both winners. Or both losers, I suppose.

After a brief stop in the spa town of Buxton today, we drove home to Cambridge. I broke The First Rule of DIY when creosoting a fence when I didn't get changed into my DIY clothes and got creosote on my shorts and shirt. Grrr!

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Take me to the core of The Big Apple - I want to check out the pips

It's been a while since my last proper post. How've you been? I've been well thanks. We've been busy.

We went to the states for ten days, first to New York with our friend Tony from Uni. We went to visit another friend, Pete, who's working out there. He has an apartment in Manhattan, just south of Central Park. Skill-o!

We arrived late on the Saturday night, and endured the taxi ride from hell (well, Newark airport) to Pete's apartment. Then we went out to Greenwich Village for some drinks. Anne, Tony and me faded fast after midnight (especially me!) and had to go back to Pete's to sleep.

Sunday we spent in Central Park, mainly. Central Park is fantastic! I've been to NYC a couple of times, briefly, but have never had a chance to walk around it in a leisurely manner - I've always been there on a short stop-over. It was good to be able to relax and see the park. Despite that fact that walking down NY streets feels like walking through a deep valley, with buildings towering above you, it can be very picturesque, especially in the background of the views around the park.



We also took a walk to a diner which fans of Seinfeld might recognise. We tried to go in there for a chocolate milk, but they wanted to order food or pay a cover charge. Grrr.



A couple of nights we went out with friends of Pete to eat, and one night we stayed in and watched The Stepford Wives (remake) on DVD. The latter is an experience I wouldn't wish on anyone. I won't review it here - that can wait for the next film post - but I warn you it's awful and confused. Avoid.

We walked and walk. Walked for miles. Pete had previously posted on his blog about a piece of cake he'd eaten in Brooklyn. We all demanded he took us there. "Take us there Pete", we demanded. He did. We got the subway to Brooklyn and visited CakeMan Raven's shop (yes, Pete called it Mr Cake but he was mistaken). We ate the biggest bits of (red) cake in the whole world. Only Tony finished his piece and I got quite upset, having been convinced I could eat more than Tony. The cake was lovely and light, but the icing was too sweet. My cake had nuts on, and I think Tony's may not have, so that probably explains it.






Good to know that of all the photos we got, most of them were of us eating cake. It was good cake. We walked back to Manhattan, across the Brooklyn Bridge, and got some pretty spectacular views of the city.



I'm sure we did more. We did do more. We saw Ground Zero (a big sad building site) and did a bit of shopping for clothes (I got in a bad mood as I hate clothes shopping - I threw a small paddy). We ate lots of treats and went to Grand Central Station (an amazing place - worth a look).

After five days we said our goodbyes, and Anne and I hopped on a plane to Atlanta. We went there to meet up with some more friends and go to the wedding of a friend of mine from school, Lee. And his fiance (now wife) Mel.

Lots of photos from there, but I won't bore you with lots of pictures of people most of you don't know. Oh, OK then here are a few:






The wedding itself was in Clemson, a small town in South Carolina. It was very different to New York City. Obviously.

Well that's it for the moment. I think that's enough photos to keep you quiet. My thanks to Ian and Tony for the photos of theirs I've used without their permission.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Take a walk!

Anne and I are doing a sponsored walk in a few weeks. It's 13 miles for Oxfam. For your convenience Anne's set up a website so you can sponsort us online. Here's the link.

Throwing money at a good cause has never been so easy.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Finding Nematode

Our new wormery arrived yesterday. There were some raised eyebows at "Goods In" at my office when a package arrived for me containing live worms. My office closed at lunchtime, it being Good Thursday, so I popped home to set up our new garden feature.

The wormery is a compost bin, which turns organic waste into liquid fetilizer and compost using lots of special worms.



It was fun to set up, and though I was initially a little squemish about handling the little funny fellows (the worms) I soon overcame that.



Aren't they adorable? After they've had time to settle down they should be able to eat all our kitchen waste, and help us feed the garden. Job Done!

Today, Easter Friday, we spent in the garden. We did loads of digging and got exhausted. We sowed some grass seed on the large area of wasteland we've been preparing. I think we put too much down, but we'll see. The birds are already eating it so maybe it's a good thing that we've put too much down. A few weeks ago we planted some strawberry plants, some blackcurrants, raspberries and rhubarb. Today we planted the first of our veggies: carrots and parsnips. We're on our way to becoming Tom and Barbara. Anne's even begining to look like Felicity Kendall!



We then went out to Homebase and bought some garden furniture. Now all we need is some nice weather (like last weekend which was glorious!) We sat out in cloudy weather and had some hot cross buns.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang

We often miss movies at the cinema, and don’t get to the video library regularly. So, in the new year we decided to start a DVD rental contract. We plumped for Amazon: £9.99 a month for a maximum of six discs per month, three at a time. Not bad!

As a consequence, we’ve seen some good movies lately. And a few not-so-good ones. Here are the verdicts:

The Station Agent: a good little American indie film. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The Day After Tomorrow: I got this mainly to test out my new subwoofer, and it certainly did that. I didn’t have high expectations, but I actually quite enjoyed it. I will say though that when NY is flooded and frozen and our heroes are trying to save their friend’s life by fetching medicine and also having to run away from a killer freeze, I didn’t really need the bizarre added threat of some bad-CG wolves.

Fahrenheit 9/11: It’s quite sad seeing this after Bush’s re-election (or, rather, first election – let’s not forget he cheated the first time). Michael Moore can be interesting, but he’s a bit base at times. A bit of balance would help. And annoyingly this film was on Channel 4 two weeks after we hired it. One word: Grah!

28 Days Later: Been wanting to see this for ages, and I liked it. Good, clean zombie fun. (NB: They’re not actually zombies, technically.)

House Of Sand And Fog: Oscar winners like this are often quite dull, or at least that’s the impression I get. This was enjoyable though, mainly thanks to Ben Kingsley. It’s funny that I can watch horror films with no problems, but it took me a while to recover after seeing Jennifer Connelley step on a nail. Yuck!

Pitch Black: Another one I’ve wanted to see for ages. This is a really good little sci-fi/horror. I have no interest in seeing the sequel.

Anchorman: Absolutely hilarious. I kept thinking “I shouldn’t be laughing. This is puerile and silly.” It was brilliantly done puerile and silly though, and that’s what matters.

City Of God: A Brazillian Goodfellas. Great stuff!

The Terminal: After Catch Me If You Can I was looking forward to this. However, I found it dull. Avoid.

Super Size Me: I was wary of this documentary as I figured it wouldn’t tell me anything I didn’t know (“Fast food is bad for you and if you eat nothing but McDonalds for a month you won’t be well”) but I enjoyed it a lot. The film-maker is likable and engaging, and there’s plenty of variety in there.

Belleville Rendez-Vous: Technically good I suppose, but I wasn’t impressed with this French cartoon. Avoid this and go for Spirited Away. Anne’s sister Kerry says I didn’t like it because I’m “not very French”. That’s criticism I can happily accept.

The 25th Hour: I enjoyed this Spike Lee “Joint”. Not great, but Edward Norton is good as usual.

Cube: I got this because the new films I’d wanted were out of stock. It’s a decent little puzzle sci-fi film, though I’ve been warned to avoid the sequel.

Layer Cake: The latest Brit gangster film. Pretty good. Not too “Lock Stock”, and with some really good scenes. Good to see Chief O’Brien from Star Trek back on the screen!

So that’s what we’ve seen so far (fortunately Amazon keeps track for me, so you won’t miss out on any we’ve seen!) However, all these were eclipsed by a film we saw on Friday night: The Incredibles. I loved it. All superhero movies should be made like this! It was almost too fast for me to follow (though I admit that may be thanks to the wine). See it (unless you already have).

Sunday, February 20, 2005

What would Buffy do in this situation?

We've had a busy few weekends, visiting Anne's sisters up north (see first photo) and having friends visiting us in Cambridge. Showing friends around Cambridge, we realised there are still lots of things here we've not seen, having spent (it seems) most of our weekends last summer searching for a house.



I've also been building a PC. Anne begged me not to. Anne wanted me to buy a new ready-built one. I enjoy tinkering though, even if something inevitably goes wrong and it ends up taking me ages.



Something went wrong. I kept getting the Blue Screen of Death. It took me a while to figure out why. Anne had the patience of a saint.



It was the memory I was using (see memtest results below). The memory was cheap stuff, and wasn't compatible with my kit. That'll learn me. I ended up getting better memory, and it then worked (barring a few issues between Windows XP SP2 and the Athlon 64 processor, but you'd probably fall asleep if I went into that). Anne smiled, and nodded lovingly as I gave her a commentary on my progress. That girl is an angel. Pity her.



We don't give each other Valentine's gifts, but to thank her for her tolerance (and to apologise) I popped into Waitrose on my way home from work on the day after Valentine's Day and picked up a bunch of roses. They were £45 the day before, but had been reduced to a tenner by the 15th. Result! I left the price on so Anne could see her worth in pounds sterling.

This weekend, we had to ourselves. We spent Saturday morning in the garden, pulling out roots, pulling out weeds, turning soil and generally tidying up. The garden's much less of a mess than when we bought the place.



We're gradually getting it to a state where we can put grass seed where we want grass, and other seeds where we want veggies.



On Saturday afternoon we popped to the garden centre and came back with rhubarb, blackcurrant and rasberry plants. Yay! We'd planned to put them in the ground on Sunday morning, biut it snowed and snowed, so we left them in the shed.



So, instead, we had a lazy Sunday morning. In the afternoon we went to The Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge. It's a great building:



The musuem was quite good in places, but a lot of it was closed. There was a lot of Roman and Egyptian stuff, which is interesting but I'd sometimes rather see some British stuff than stuff stolen from other countries. Cambridge has a wealth of history, so we'll look out for a place that will show us some of that.

The day had started well when I woke Anne with fresh coffee and Green and Blacks almond chocolate. Anne told me she'd been dreaming that she was Sarah Michelle Geller (Buffy) and was trying to sort out an objected-oriented database she's dealing with at work. Of course she had.

Funny that: I've had many dreams in which Anne is Sarah Michelle Gellar.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Ruminant recycling

Some friends of ours,Ian and Sarah, are currently travelling in South America, on their way to Canada (there's a link to their blog on the left hand side of this page). Ian's sent me a photo of something which he thinks might solve Anne's problem (from her previous post):

Friday, February 04, 2005

D'oh! A Deer!

As some readers may know, I'm not the world's biggest fan of driving. Now that we have moved to the middle of nowhere, I am obliged to drive the car sometimes. Wednesday was one of those times. We were going to the monthly film quiz in Archway, so I had to leave work, pick up Stephen and then head for London. I've done this journey hundreds (twenty) times before, I'm relatively (not) confident about doing it.

I was hurtling (60mph) along the A505 when from the hedgerow, merely 1m from the road, a deer emerged. I remember thinking "What's that? Oh, a deer. Why is it running towards me?" Then I braked. Thankfully, the deer had passed the front of the car by that point. Ridiculously, a second kamikaze deer was a couple of metres behind the first one, and it slammed into my front wing and bounced of the passenger side door. I don't think I swore (much).


I managed to drive on a bit (whilst the man behind me loaded the venison into his boot) and pulled into a lay-by. As I pulled in I started shaking uncontrollably. I then rang Stephen to inform him that I'd ruined his new car. He was very nice about it and better not bring it up in any arguements.





After a small cry, I drove to Melbourn to pick him up and we managed to get down to London for the night. Yes, London, where you travel on public transport and there are no frigging deers! Bloody Sticks.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Some bad news

Anne and I have been married just over five months now. Not long is it? No.

And a fortnight ago I lost my wedding ring.

I'm miserable about this. Understandably. I think I may have lost it in the house, but can't be entirely sure. We've turned the house upside down looking for it but are beginning to accept it's gone. Poo! And bums.

Anne was very annoyed with me when I lost it. I tried to cheer her up by joking that as I'd lost my ring we were technically no longer married. I soon discovered it was Too Early To Joke About This. Oops.

How can I lose the ring in less than five months? I only ever took it off to go to bed or do the washing up.

I'd make a rubbish Frodo.

Browser share

Here's a pie chart showing what browsers people visiting this web site are using. It looks like Firefox is catching up with Internet Explorer, though you'll have to take into account that my (Firefox) visits to the site are counted here, and I visit it and refresh it to check that my posts have gone up OK and to check for comments. Even so, quite a few people are using this new search engine. [Late edit: I meant browser, not search engine. Maybe I should read my posts before posting.]


That's right. It's fascinating.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Not yet mastered the elements

Hmmm. Our dreams of self-sufficiency may have been put back a step by a realisation that we are useless.

We've just been in the garden trying to light a fire so we can burn a load of garden rubbish (twigs, branches etc) and we completely failed. Even a whole copy of the Saturday Guardian didn't help. WE CAN'T EVEN LIGHT A FIRE FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!

Conclusion: Even a Cub Scout is better than the two of us put together.

One year later

We returned from our travels a year ago (27th January 2004). In that year we've moved to Cambridge, got jobs, got engaged, got married and bought a house. Phew! Finally, on Friday (28th January 2005) the sale of our flat in Ealing completed and we're no longer heavily in debt with two mortgages - hurrah! We couldn't sell it any earlier that October else we'd have had to pay a hefty penalty on our mortgage, but as soon as our tenants moved out in September we put it on the market. Suddenly all the papers were talking-up a housing-market crash. Grrr! We'd bought a house in Cambridge in a sellers' market and were now selling our flat in a buyers' market.

Anyway, it's all done now and we're finally feeling a bit more secure. Anne's not drunk alcohol since New Year, and we'd had a bottle of Champagne chilling for when the flat sold, so Anne chose Friday night to end her abstinence.


It was a night of celebration. After a tasty chicken-and-roasted-veggies dinner, we settled down to watch 28 Days Later on DVD. This was apt, I thought, since it had been 28 days since alcohol had passed Anne's lips. I pointed out that it would have been more appropriate if we'd watched 28 Days, the movie with Sandra Bullock as an alcoholic.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

...and then seven come along at once.

Hey man - get off my back. Yes, I've not been paying much attention to this site lately, but then it was never menat to be a full blown blog - it was set up as a blog to make it easier to update the site. But then we moved house and I put photos up and then people expected a regular update. So I'll play along OK?

Well, for the moment I can at least post some photos of what we've been up to since the end of November. First, we've (almost) finished upacking all our boxes into our new house. He're a photo of Anne doing just that. With those ears she may look like a mouse. THis is deceptive, since she's actually a cheeky monkey.



Anne had a birthday at the end of November. She's not quite 30 yet, but she's not that far off. She had her lab mates over to celebrate her birthday and her house-move. We ate, drank and played Cranium.



Anne's lab mates gave her voucers for a bird table as a house-warming present. We were excited, since we've enjoyed bird-watching in the garden. We rushed off to the garden centre and chose this one:


We kept the price tag, since we were very amused by the use of an apostrophe on it. I can't imagine how someone got it this wrong:

At the begining of December we again went to the You're Gonna Need a Bigger Boat movie quiz in Highgate, and again came third. We can't seem to break that third place barrier. Still, we got Troy on DVD and a dress-up cardboard Brad Pitt model. I quite enjoyed the movie, though was pleased I'd not paid money for it. The acting in it was pretty poor. Anne enjoyed the dress-up Brad Pitt thing. She took it to work and took this photo. It looks like they didn't dress it up too much:


Then in mid-December I turned 30. It's all go isn't it? We were both quite stressed at this pint about snag with the sale of our flat in Ealing, but Anne did her best to relax me by telling me at thirty I had "a portfolio of properties". Yes, that's true, but I was keen to get rid of one of them. It's all about spin. Anne made me a birthday cake, which was very nice indeed. Here's a photo of the cake alongside my grinning mug.


A week before Christmas, we went to Welwyn Garden City to see a bunch of my old school friends (we're friends, and we're "old school"). We try to all meet up around Christmas, and part of the evening involves a quiz. This year, Anne and I wrote the quiz. I think some of the rounds were a little too hard, but otherwise it was OK. We also had a £3 Charity Shop Secret Santa. This was a secret santa where the gifts had to come from a charity shop and cost around £3. I received a Kylie notebook, on which I write shopping lists and take to Sainsburys, and Anne received a marvelous clock with a train made out of clock parts. I really can't convey how natty this clock is. It takes pride of place in our downstairs loo. I realise now I should have taken a photo of it for this site, but I didn't, so for the moment you'll have to make do with the following photo.

Here are Dom, Matt and Alex - the winners of the quiz.


I've added a few external links on the left (a couple of other people I know have started blogs) and I've fiddled with the site to make it run better on Firefox. If anyone cares, I heartily recommend Firefox as an alternative to Internet Explorer. It's just fabbo.

Right. That's it for now - I'll try to keep up to date a bit more in future, though I'm sure I'll just end up with short bursts of activity followed by nil for a few weeks.