Saturday 2 June 2012

Picture daily

An old door in the passageway of a falling down house in Norfolk...such a shame; the place was beautiful

First Friday Photos

I think it's time for a change...the blog has had the same look for ever so long, and as they say a change is as good as a rest.  Some might suggest that a rest would be a good idea, but it's not going to over the next few days, I'm going to have a play around and see what happens...the main thing I worry about is whether I'll lose all the comments on past blog posts.  That happened when I moved from to 'Disqus' so I'd be disappointed if it happened again...any hints before I make the leap would be much appreciated and welcomed.

I've finally got the hang of what I want to do with the daily photo post - I prepare it at the weekend and then schedule them to go up each weekday at the same time.  I don't tweet those, but will continue to tweet the 'main' posts.  It works for me...

May has been a busy month so a fair number of pictures taken...none too artistic but all happy memory joggers

 A new piece of street art...I think the artist is Toofy...and am sure Duncan who has a brain the size of a planet will correct me if I'm wrong

 The Queen's Diamond Jubilee window, languishing in The Houses of Parliament...hope they find a home for it
 If you know Old Street in London, you'll know that beautiful is not a word associated with it, but at night it looks great
 This is where we were rehearsing
 A windswept tree on the coast
 In the heart of Brighton, these ancient buildings have avoided the developer's eye
 Did Mondrian paint these I wonder?
 The pretty harbour in Cyprus
 The reflections really appealed to me
 Night time at our hotel
Happy birthday Mum.  Happy Anniversary to you both

Friday 1 June 2012

Picture daily

The very atmospheric tunnels under Waterloo Station...set up for a Secret cinema showing

I've lost a pair of shoes

Once upon a time I was told by a university lecturer that by the year 2000 we would all be consultants.  I think he wasn't wrong.  But increasingly there seams less time to be a consultant as we all become social media addicts.  That's you and me and everyone else doing that.  Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, FourSquare, Instagram, Blogging (even) and any number of  digital means for us to interact.  I could spend the whole day and night just social media-ing.  Truth be told, I think we all prefer the real human touch...speaking to, hearing, touching, feeling and smelling a human.  I was going to add tasting...but there's been one too many cannibal stories in the press this week...I know because of my Twitter feed.  The trouble is life has got busier and busier and time is against us.  The upside of our digital lives is that it opens us up to people and places we wouldn't otherwise know about.  And I'm not complaining as that's really been a wonderful experience, but I do wonder whether the whole soshul medja thing isn't a little out of hand....

In the meantime, I've lost a pair of shoes.  I keep a pair in the office for emergencies...and so I don't have to wear motorcycle boots or cycling shoes on all day long.  They were there at the start of the week.  The I spilt a whole mug of tea on my desk.  It made a mess, and there was quite a cleaning operation to sort it out.  And then they were gone.  I don't know what was in the tea. But if it does that to the shoes, what's it doing to my stomach?

I've given up being polite to my personal bank - LloydsTSB.  They ring me regularly now wanting to give me a loan.  It's the usual umbrella when the sun shies policy which banks have always done well.  Their offer of helping me manage my finances always makes me respond with the comment that accepting advice from a bank that's broke doesn't sound like a clever thing to do.  This week I spent nearly two hours on the phone to them as an electronic payment I made last week had evidently not gone through due to a server problem.  They blamed my server, I blame their IT.  In the course of the two hours I had to go through security eight times.  Eight times, even when they were transferring me on an internal line.  Of course, I want my money to be protected, but really eight times?  It wouldn't be so bad if the basic security for internet banking there was good - when I log on I have to enter a password.  Most companies turn the letters or numbers into * when you enter them - not Lloyds whose website proudly displays your password for everyone to see and copy.  For my two hours, I've been rewarded with £40, which is double the minimum wage, so I may take this up as a full time occupation.

On the business bank front, today I need to pay the VAT.  So I went to log on, entering all the necessary details.  It rejected me as inputting the wrong details.  As these are written out on a sheet of paper which I copy, this seems unlikely. It then made me answer some security questions.  The second one was 'What was your first car?'  Not tricky...a Ford Cortina.  Evidently the bank thinks this is wrong.  The question I have asked myself is would I have ever put down something else? It seems unlikely.  In the meantime, the VAT needs to be paid's the only way the jack-booted Inland Revenue will accept it.  And I have no way of doing that.  What's the betting the bank will deny any responsibility?

Over at the Leveson enquiry, the politicians are coming increasingly unstuck.  Clearly they've had their noses, tongues, and anything they could muster up Murdoch's well-formed bottom.  Not really very comforting is it?  Tony Blair, swanned, reeled off the usual rubbish, before escaping with just a rotten egg thrown on his car for his troubles.

I read yesterday that Cameron is a great admirer of Tony Blair.  No wonder I despise the toffy-nosed idiot so much.

Well it seems we're done for.  All of us doomed.

In Spain, although it's not being reported, people are apparently queueing outside their banks to retrieve their cash.  When it rains in Spain you can bet we get a good soaking over here too.  Evidently, it would be sensible for the Greeks to be doing the same, but they're all too busy lying on the beach.  I suspect when history is written, the phrase 'fiddling whilst Rome burns' will be writ large.  The politicians have done it again...or rather not.  Not forgetting that the banks and the whole financial sector who played a major part in getting us all into this state are continuing to party hard.

Thursday 31 May 2012

Justin Time

My cycling this year has been intermittent at best.  'Things' just seem to keep cropping up to stop me putting bum to saddle and foot to I was glad to jump on the bike this morning.  I turned out of our house, down the hill to the T-junction where there was a long queue.  Without thinking I cycled to the front, whereupon the nice young man in his black soft-top Porsche Carrera4 started edging forwards and pushing me out the way.  I turned round and asked him "Why?" (That may not have been the exact word).  His reply "I was here first".  I nearly fell off at that point.  A grown man saying "I was here first".  There are various reasons that cyclists go to the front of a queue.  If we discount the 'Because we can', we can still hold our heads high with the 'It's for safety - not getting caught up in slow moving traffic which is dangerous' argument is a good one.  Anyway, he roared off...only to be caught in the traffic jam in the High street, which enabled me to catch him up and bellow at him "I'm here first now".  It may not have been grown up, but it did make me smile...and him snarl.

Having sold my soul to Rib Tours for the sake of a an hour being thrown around on the Thames, I might just mention that I've also sold my soul to Warner Brothers.  I'm not quite sure where or how Beelzebub might get a look in....and I know he's been rubbing his hands in anticipation for a good few years now.  When I first started I always said NO to any form of commerciality, but frankly and bluntly if I fancy something I'm going to go for it.  As it happens, I walked away with a whole load of goodies which have gone in the re-gifting cupboard....

A few weeks ago I went to a Bloggers morning to see some of  WB's new films and the associated technology.  Since then they've promised me a review copy of a couple of films which I expect will pop up soon.  But the little gem that will be winging its way to me soon will be Lego Batman2...its a computer game.  Now as Steve is a Lego addict, I hope this will make him green with envy...although I suspect he doesn't give two hoots for X-Box games, preferring the pleasures of dodgy French police dramas.  The Boy is much no doubt will be The Muffins when I tell them about it.

But the most important thing I learnt was that if you buy a Blu-Ray marked 'triple play', you can transfer it to your phone.  And that works well for me.

We recently watched a film on Blu-Ray that we'd managed to miss in the cinema - In Time with Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried.  I don't know how we missed it, because I loved the premise - ageing has been conquered.  Everyone ages until they're 25, and then stops getting older. The only thing is you only have a year more to live.  Time has become currency, so working buys you more time, and spending uses up that time.  In a more talented directors hands this would have been brilliant...actually Andrew Niccol directed Gattaca which was no excuses really.  Instead it was just good...quite clunky in places, not great acting, and the script needed some work.  And whilst Amanda Syfried looks great everyone wanted to know whey when she's running for her life, she's always doing it in six-inch stilettoes.  But we all really enjoyed it...and it provoked plenty of debate for a good while afterwards.  It certainly makes for a scathing reflection on today's society.  And it was good enough that it became the first film I transferred from the disc to my phone, so I can watch it anywhere. Do grab a copy (it's a Twentieth Century one, so no Warner Brothers bias).

Wednesday 30 May 2012

Tuesday 29 May 2012

Picture daily

The butterfly that fluttered by


I hadn't realised what a big year this is for anniversaries.  It's lovely to see the bunting and flags out everywhere.  People are in the mood, and I hear that there will be street parties everywhere.  Remarkable really.  I hadn't realised that it would have such a big impact.

But then 25 years is a long time.  I'm slightly confused, because as far as I know 25 is the Silver Anniversary, and I see everything is referring to some 'Diamond Jubilee'.  Printers error I guess.  Anyway, Grandma in Cyprus is delighted with all that attention for her Silver Wedding anniversary on Wednesday...that's tomorrow, the 30th May.  I hope that she and Grandpa in Cyprus are as happy for the next 25 years as they have been for the last 25.

I'm not an envious person (much less enviable), but I can't help cast an eye over my shoulder when I see all the lovely treats that some bloggers get thrown in the interest of promoting brands.  I'm not adverse to a freebie myself, but clearly I'm not on the right list.  Usually.

So I was delighted to have been invited to the launch of the 'Ultimate' sightseeing tour with the RIB Tours London high speed boat.  There was a downside...we had to gather at 7.30, which meant that even being within spitting distance of Festival Pier, I had to be up at the crack of sparrow.  I wouldn't normally have bothered, but it was my Big Birthday (18) last year, and The Cat's Mother had wanted to organise a speed boat trip on the Thames.  I hummed and I hahhed, and generally fannied around so it didn't happen.  I'm not a great one for big celebrations.  So this was an opportunity to see what I'd missed out on.

Now I'm not an inexperienced Thames sailor...I've done the disco boat, the gentle steamer, the bus boat, the high speed jet boats that take you from Tate to Tate and I've done the duck tours.  All wonderful..There's something about the water, and a gentle trip down the Thames that is really quite relaxing.  Rib Tours is something different altogether...its ideal for the adrenaline junkie who wants to get their thrills on water.  You still get the sights (albeit a bit blurry), you still get the witty commentary (albeit a bit high pitched), but what really made this fun (especially at 7.30 on  Friday morning) was being thrown around with gay abandon, thinking that at any moment you may discover whether there really are live fish swimming deep in the Thames. I held onto my man bag for dear life.  I had a ball.  The other dozen or so people with me had a ball.  So I would highly recommend it to thrill seekers of all ages.  Anyway, you can find their details here  End of ad.  If I hadn't liked I wouldn't have written about it.

Monday 28 May 2012

Picture daily

A lovely display of can almost taste them


This was my last free weekend until the end of July - my Saturdays and Sundays are taken up with rehearsals from here on in.  This weekend it was only Sunday.  Yes, for most of the day the temperature was 27 degrees, I was standing or jumping around on black tarmac in Dagenham.  But it was worth every ache and pain.

We celebrated the last free Saturday by pottering around...visiting a few shops in Epping and then into Loughton.  The Cat's Mother decided I needed more clothes, so I was frogmarched to a menswear store in the high street.  I was just coming out of the changing room when at the front of the shop there was a bit of hubbub, and three youths grabbed some clothes from the shelves and ran swiftly away.  The owner was the picture of calmness, but perhaps his shaking hands gave him away.  Our heart went out of trying more stuff on...of course it did.  It probably happens several times a day in shops across the country, but it felt sad and shocking.  The impact of the crime on all of us was no doubt much more than the value of the goods that got stolen and probably peddled for a fiver in the back streets somewhere.

This coming week is relatively quiet, which is good.  Exams will come to an end, and half-term beckons for the offspring.

Last week was busy enough...we went to see the ever so wonderful Temper Trap with our Spanish friends.  I think they're the best thing ever, and the evening started off well having pizza outside before the band began to play.  If you don't know them, try this:

They've just released a second album...and we'll be back to see them at Somerset House in the summer (proper)

Thursday saw us at Sadlers Wells to see Matthew Bourne's early work...another excellent evening - humour in modern dance....this was Spitfire and takes as it's theme mens underwear advertising from the 1950's (of course)...