Saturday 12 January 2013

Not required viewing

You can tell it's still Christmas at least in my head because I have a large tub of Twiglets on my desk.  It was bought at discount from the local newsagent as he tries to shift stock.  The tub has the short Twiglets in and I just never understand why the short ones taste so much better than the longer ones.

At home we're three-quarters of the way through Killing II, having watched Killing III before.  The Boy bought it for The Cat's Mother as a Christmas present, and she is enthralled.  I am too, although once we'd finished III I'd looked up II online as I had assumed we wouldn't be seeing any more.  So I sort of know the outcome, although I can't remember the details.  The Cat's Mother isn't pleased with me for that.

I bought a new electric toothbrush recently to replace the one that had kept my teeth shiny and polished for the last five was looking ropey and had begun to give off a strange odour...and nobody wants to put something smelly in their mouth.  The new one is keeping me amused for hours at a time.  It comes with a little display to let me know when I've cleaned uses a smiley face to tell me.  And what I've discovered is that if I do more than the regulation two minutes, the face randomly does different things...I might get a crooked smile, a wink, raised eyebrows or any combination.  Yep the child in me can't resist.

And this is part of my ride to's the bit where I cycle along the canal.  It still amazes me that you can be in such a wonderful place even in central London.  I love this makes ths start of the day fantastic.  Libby a GoPro is a video camera that sits on my helmet...

Thursday 10 January 2013

That's what sons are for

Did I mention that just before Christmas The Cat's Mother was stopped, fined and endorsed for talking on her mobile phone whilst driving.  She was quite (very) indignant about this, feeling that the boys in blue would be better off spending their time catching criminals.  That'll be the people who are breaking the law.  And therein lay a difficult dilemma.  On the one hand I wanted to sympathise, on the other I've told her until I'm horse that it's people like her that cause the death of people like me (cyclists).  In the end I took the sensible option and bought her a hands free bluetooth thingy that clips onto the sun visor in the car.  Obviously this worked well for me, because it solved all my Christmas present dilemmas ...should I buy her a new washing machine (extravagant), a new food blender (she rarely bakes) or a new set of dusters (someone comes in to do most of that).  Someone had suggested I bought her a computer, but when I Googled it I came up with this and to be honest we have one of those already.  I should mention she loves her present and has not been stopped by the police since, though that may all change when she forgets to re-charge the battery.

Three punctures in two (cycle) days.  I must be riding my bike in winter.

On the way back home on Tuesday I got a puncture.  Not a problem as I carry a spare, although changing an inner tube on the edge of Stratford was a little worrying.  I'd forgotten though that I'm riding winter tyres made of a kevlar weave.  Tough as old boots.  So what should take five minutes was heading towards half an hour of blood sweat and tears.  And all in vain.  In forcing the tyre back on I'd pinched the new tube, creating a second unrepairable one.  So I threw the bike over my shoulder and headed to Stratford station, soon to be accompanied by another rider who had suffered the same fate.  For 'safety reasons' we weren't allowed on the tube, so had to hail a cab willing and able to take a bike and a rider to the next station.  Arriving in Loughton some little while later, I then hitched the bike over my shoulder for the twenty minute hike up hill to home.  The Boy kindly offered to help put, yet another, inner tube on...the whole exercise took less than ten minutes in the warmth of the house.

But this morning just as I arrived at the office I could feel the tell tale signs of a flat tyre again as every ripple and bump in the road was transmitted to my nether regions.  £46 quid later, the bike shop had fitted new tyre, new tube and offered gallons of sympathy.  They probably wondered why I was cycling when there was still frost on the ground.

Despite the punctures, I'm delighted to have braved the roads three times this week after such a lean year last year...and to celebrate I wore a Go-Pro all the way.  So tomorrow I'll upload that...but no I don't expect anyone to sit through an hour and a quarter of me bouncing along the canal tow-paths.

Monday 7 January 2013

12 days of Christmas...or there abouts

It's got to be a good start to the year when on the first day back at the office, the weather is calm enough that I can cycle the 18 miles in, after a year when the rain prevented me most days and will power the others. Hopefully my enthusiasm will remain for the 18 miles home this evening.

As we lay in bed last night The Cat's Mother listed the things we did over Christmas.  No wonder I've been looking forward to coming back to work for a rest:

22nd December - Christmas Party at a friend's.  Notable mainly because we made The Cat drive us there and back as she had passed her test the week before.  I can tell you making a teenager come and pick you up at half past one in the morning is sheer joy.

23rd - Matthew Bourne's Sleeping Beauty.  Yep wonderful.  There's somethig about dance that really fascinates me.  This was a truly sumptuous production that we both loved.  Go and see it if you can.

24th - Panto! No Christmas is complete without a Dame.  This year we forewent the local amateur production, and travelled to Hackney to see Dick Whittington. The hoards of kids we took with us loved it.  We enjoyed indulging them

25th - Round to The Muffins for a change.  Normally it's at ours.  Not for us is the traditional lunch stuffing your face full of turkey and then falling asleep whilst the Queen warbles on.  No organised games and performances from noon through to midnight.  It's as Christmas Day should be.  Brilliant.

26th - Sixteen round to ours for lunch and a repeat performance of the day before.  Beginning to flag a bit.

27th - Off to see my bruvver.  We met at Jamie Oliver's parents' restaurant/pub.  Lovely to see him and his girlfriend...we chatted for ages.  Having sampled their food, we wondered where Jamie got his talent from.

28th - Off to Brighton.  Not much to report, other than the DVD decided against working over Christmas.  That'll mean I'll be able to maintain my record of buying anew DVD player every year.  Who said anything about built-in obsolescence?

29th - Lost and Found Orchestra at The Dome.  If you liked Stomp, you'll love orchestra made out of junk, and sounding spectacular.  Remarkable how moving a funnel attached to a long hose can sound.

30th - Enough of all this lying around doing was time to do some learning.  At Jamie Oliver's Recipease we learnt how to cook a  Thai prawn curry.  Twelve of us gathered round whilst the chef demonstrated and we then followed.  The Queen (ours, not everyone's) was there to help us along, and we all turned out something that was quite passable.  In fact delicious...we gobbled it down as quickly as we could.

31st - Up had recovered from a bug to join us in Brighton, and The Muffins had arrived the night before.  We watched Puss in Boots whilst we waited for the storm to blow didn't but the film was fabulous   We should have gone ice skating in the grounds of The Dome, but the wind and rain put paid to that.  The evening would have been a washout, had the weather not suddenly improved allowing us to head to the beach to let off fireworks.  Legal?  I've no idea.

1st - back to Essex.  Relax.

2nd - off to London to meet some friends, who've recently moved back from Berlin, for lunch.  We wanted to go to The Rain Room at The Barbican, but the two hour wait put us off.  It's on until 3rd March

3rd - The Boy and I got a day of rest, whilst The Cats Mother and Cat headed off to a show with some friends.  Evidently it was dreadful.  And The Cat's Mother ate something she shouldn't.

4th - Relax.  Except The Cat's Mother's Father got taken into hospital as a bug was hitting him harder than it should.  So don't relax, don't panic.  Just worry.  He's on the mend now.  Relief.

5th - 21st Birthday party - a friend's daughter.  Realise just how old you're getting when you stand in some god forsaken bar with loud thumping music which you've never heard before stops you chatting to anyone.  When you get home in the early hours of the morning begin to appreciate that once upon a time you would have thoroughly enjoyed it.  And a small celebration as Brighton & Hove Albion knock Newcastle out of the Cup.

6th - Take the Christmas decs down.  Did I ever mention how many The Cat's Mother puts up?  We have more decorations than Selfridge's Christmas Department.  Fortunately mostly done by the evening, so settle down to a lovely piece of beef and Series 2 of The Killing - a present from The Boy to The Cat's Mother.  Nothing like blood, gore, murder and mayhem to end the season.