Friday, 4 November 2011

First Friday Photos

Well remarkably this is the first time in months that I've actually done this on time.

The benefit of err erm working from home this morning.

My last cycle home along the canal this year

Evening view across the Thames



Eating out in October

Not the Rugby World Cup

No month is complete without some street art - Ben Eine

Traditional punting in Cambridge

The ski show...obviously

Doughnuts on the pier

Another kind of beach...on the Thames

Cafe tables in Brighton

Boat on the beach in Brighton

Another boat

having fun go round and round

It's all just rubbish

The birthday boy

And his brother

Off to a Halloween Party


The Boy

It's a laugh

Opera Girl


Aunt and neice in the media centre at Lords

Seats good enough for a Lord

Cats together

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

C'mon, c'mon...keep up (3)

In blog land I'm still in last week. That's the equivalent of not changing the clocks back (or forwards) some ninety-six times if my maths is right. Which is a lot.

I celebrated Palestine being being accepted into full membership of UNESCO. It may be a small step. But it's a significant one. The US has shown its colours by cutting off UNESCO. That would be justifiable if it had a realistic alternative. But it doesn't. Its' middle-east policy is bankrupt and has been for years under successive Presidents. And whilst the middle-east remains in turmoil there is little question that extremism will grow with almost inevitable terrible consequences. Peace and prosperity in that neck of the woods would bring calm and safety in the rest of the world.

But enough...

After two days hard toil at the office last week I needed a break. You may be able to work five, six, even seven days a week, but I am more a more tender flower wilting under the the glaring heat of stress. Well that's my reasoning anyway....and I can justify it by letting you know about a senior moment I had this week. I had an important letter to post, so I stepped out of the office and walked towards the post box. As I neared, I tossed the letter in only to realise immediately that I'd put it in the black rubbish bin, not the red letterbox. As I stuck my arm in to retrieve it I had to sheepishly explain to the people walking past and whispering to each other my mistake. Well at least it amused them.

As it happens, I had the perfect excuse to escape the office on Friday. The Cat's Granddad was celebrating his eightieth birthday. That's a fine age to reach. That's thirty more years than I've managed, and he still seems to be bright as a bell. So to celebrate The Cat's Mother had organised a day at Lord's for the family. That's the world-famous cricket ground. The biggest in the world (inspite of what the Australian's might claim). It's also home to the most ridiculous trophy for any sport. A broken perfume bottle that may or may not contain the ashes of a stump. Only the English. You may feel that late October is an odd time to be at Lords, but our day consisted of being coached by two former England cricketers...John Lever and John Embury. And what a challenge they had. With the age group ranging from six through to 80 and with talent ranging from the very enthusiastic amateur to me. We were in the Lord's Indoor academy, and it was a lot of fun for everyone. My appalling bowling (it was noted that I had left a former international cricketer speechless with my performance) was compensated by a pretty respectable turn at batting even if I say so myself. Birthday boy had to race his brother round the wickets, and it was a shame we didn't quite capture that on video.

For Up and Muffin Dad, the day was a special treat. The Muffin is the keen cricketer so he was playing on holy ground, and in their younger days Up and The Cat's Mother used to be enthusiasts. UP had kept a programme from years gone by, and it was his opportunity to get it touching is that?!

No wonder we needed a quiet weekend.

Oh no. I forgot. On Sunday we forewent the delights of Downton Abbey to see a couple of exhibitions by urban artists which were also being filmed for a BBC documentary. So it may be my second chance of fifteen minutes of fame, although I did avoid the opportunity of being interviewed this time round. There's a thing that worries me. I like modern art, I like street art, I like urban art. I also like more traditional art. The major difference as I see it is that with traditional art, the craft is more important than the concept (although I know many scholars would challenge me on that) but with urban art, too often it's all concept and little artistry. We didn't see any thing we'd like to hang on the wall at home. It would have been a fabulous time, but the teenagers took it on themselves to be teenagers. One spent the evening sulking and the other threw a mini-strop.

If only I'd had a cricket bat with me.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

C'mon, c'mon....keep up (2)

Well I was somewhat disappointed really.

The Cat's Mother said we were going to spend an evening with Simon Cowell. First class entertainment I thought. As you will all know and appreciate, I'm an avid fan of X-Factor, and often watch repeats when I've exhausted my collection of TOWIE DVDs. So you can imagine the shock when it turns out that it was Simon Callow we were seeing at the Theatre Royal in Brighton last Monday. Worse still he was giving a solo performance (c'mon you know that Girls Aloud wouldn't be half as good if it was just the Ginger One) and it was Dickens. Charles Dickens. I don't know if you've ever tried to read any of his stuff, but frankly my dears it's bloody hard going. Naturally enough to make this all go a little better (less worse) we dined at Caves A Fromage (who should be paying me for the number of times I plug the best cheese, chacuterie and wine shop in the world. IMHO). As it turned out I drank nearly a whole bottle of red wine. So it's testament to the abilities of Mr Callow that I was riveted throughout his performances of Mr Chops and Dr Marigold. It was just remarkable that he managed to bring to life words that would have most schoolboys (and girls) weeping into their text books. So even if you don't like Mr Dickens, if you get the chance, give this a whirl. To cap the evening off, we leapt on a bus (there were no taxis as the sky had opened and rain was falling) and the driver didn't have the heart to charge us the £12.50 for the 10 minute journey it took us to get home. Rumour has it this is the first time The Cat's Mother has been on a bus in thirty years.

Simon Callow had followed a day in Lewes for The Cat's Mother and I as we procured tickets for the somewhat lively bonfire celebrations they have there. It's the one occasion you can hear tens of thousands of folk chanting 'Burn the catholics' 'Burn the Pope' without threat of arrest from Her Majesty's Constabulary. We managed to get the tickets, so I'll no doubt tell all after the event....and in the hope we haven't all been burnt to a cinder or blown up by a firecracker. In this health and safety obsessed age it never ceases to amaze me that the celebrations in Lewes are allowed. I always found Lewes to be a slightly odd and spooky place, and have become convinced that every ancient dwelling contains a witches coven. It's very, very beautiful...and at the heart of the town is a brewery which you can tour around. That is if you can face the two year wait, such is the popularity of the place. I may not have the best bar technique, but frankly two years is a long to wait to be served, even if it is my round.

Tuesday we had another sunny day, and headed round the Brighton Wheel before returning to Epping Forest and work on Wednesday and Thursday and the opportunity to re-engage with the outside world. I was disappointed to have missed the Tory rebellion against David Cameron. Evidently too many country squires still can't see any benefit to being in bed with Johnnie Foreigner. And as it turns out the Greeks are doing their utmost to prove them right. With a referendum which will almost inevitably end up with the Greeks rejecting the EU solution for their fiscal issues, we'll all be stuffed like one of their olive leaves. Which gives me the perfect opportunity to point out that, as I understand it, it was that fine banking institution Goldman Sachs that enabled them to cook the books in the first place.

Monday, 31 October 2011

C'mon, c'mon....keep up (1)

We seem to have been doing so much that I'm struggling to keep up with myself....and whilst the minutiae of my life may not be of much interest to too many people, it is to me, and if I don't write it down I know I'll its all about me, me, me.

On a sad note, today I'm wearing something yellow in memory of Jo McGowran

Last weekend...that's not the one that finished last night, but the one that finished a week ago, The Boy and I went off to the ski show, which this year was at Court. Of note was that I could buy cheaper tickets online before the event, but by the time they'd added their booking fee, I might just as well have bought them at the event. Which was pretty empty really. It was inevitably going to be an expensive always is. Works on the same principle as go in to buy a £2 candle and come out six hours later with an entire flatpack house costing several thousand pounds. I regard it as a major success if I get out with a bill of less than £200. This year The Boy needed new ski boots. His first pair. I said I would buy them for Christmas. The whole process took about two and half hours, which was a pain as by that time we had only and hour and a half to spare. The net result is that we had to leave before they had finished fitting them (heating them and moulding) so he had to wear them on the tube to make sure the moulding finished off....He has interestingly shaped feet and ankles...even I could see that when he stood in line with a group of other males. His ankles are so narrow, yet the front of his feet are really quite wide. Although there is a family joke to be told, I'm not aloud to say a thing. Anyway, the boots are green...pretty much as I felt when I had to pay.

Sunday we traveled down to Brighton like Royalty. Not in a posh train, nor in an RAF helicopter, but separately. It wasn't that we weren't talking it's just that there wasn't room for us all in the Jeep. A year or more ago The Cat's Mother and I bought in Brighton an old wrought iron column to put a pot plant on. The man loaded it in the back, and we realised that no matter how we tried the two of us would never be able to carry it up the 97 steps to the flat. So it got taken from Brighton to Loughton, where The Boy and I lifted it out and put it in the garage. And there it stayed as there was not an opportunity to take it back to the south coast until this weekend. So a year later The Boy, the column and I drove past the shop in Brighton that had originally sold it to us. Somewhere behind us was The Cat's Mother, The Cat and her best friend Namesake....obviously it had taken them longer to get ready and leave. The column was carried up the stairs without too much bother, the plant placed carefully on the top. And lo and behold it looked wonderful.

That evening we went out to a restaurant and had to cook our own food. It wasn't that the chef had gone on strike. It wasn't that we couldn't afford to pay so had to cook and wash up. It was because we were at Jamie Oliver's Recipease. They supply all the ingredients, and a chef to teach you how to cook. There was fourteen of us tasked with creating American-style pork chilli. We worked in pairs...I was with The Cat's Mother, The Cat was with Namesake and The Boy was with A Complete Stranger. Nobody fell out, in fact we had a splendid time chopping, adding salt, frying, adding salt, boiling, adding salt, mixing, adding salt, etc, adding salt, etc, adding salt, etc. And we all managed to turn out something quite delicious washed down with a couple of glasses of delicious wine. Who said the young don't know how to cook?

And before I go any further...thank you Rol for the comic! And see you at Christmas Scarlet....