Sunday, 30 September 2007


So, apart from the horrors of the rugby, what else is new? Not a lot really. Cooked a damn fine roast dinner today, without burning myself, the food or the house down, which is encouraging.

Still got a cough, and have decided that I will go and see the doc if I still have it by the end of the week. It feels like there's something stuck in my throat, and I recollected that we had some superb mackerel* the other night. Maybe I have a little fish bone lodged in there somewhere.

Just like the Queen Mum, me.

Maybe the doc will deploy a flunky with a long pair of golden tongs to hoik it out.

The week ahead is looming menacingly. Sunday nights still feel like "back to school" nights, even though it's about 25 years since I was at school. Still, thanks to the mammoth ironing session yesterday (whilst watching the rugby, gah, fucking hell what a disaster) I have lots to wear.

So. Dull post, sorry. Still, on the bright side, it was short.

*line caught by Mr WithaY, no dolphins were harmed in the making of this meal

Holiday destinations (boycotted)

Well, that's Fiji off the fucking list for a start.

Friday, 28 September 2007


We went to see the Alabama 3 last night.

Oh. My. Word. They were excellent. They're not from Alabama and there's more than 3 of them.

My previous exposure to them was limited to their theme song from The Sopranos, and after last night I will definitely be getting some more of their stuff. If you have the opportunity, go and see them live. Bloody great.

Other news: Still got a cough. Buggeration.

Thursday, 27 September 2007


On my fingers! How rock and roll is that?

No, seriously. Is it?

I have no idea.

Had so much fun at my mate's house last night. His son played the drums (rather well I must say), mate and I made lots of noise on a Strat and Les Paul respectively, and mate's daughter joined us on the bass for a bit. She claimed she couldn't play it but to be honest it didn't matter.

It didn't help that her brother kept laughing and telling her she looked like a toad. In a nice way.

Our showstopper was Nirvana's "About a Girl" which worked really well. Possibly because for most of it there are only 2 chords.

I did a bit of messing about with riffy bits, including Smoke on the Water (obviously), Sweet Home Alabama (mmmmm) and a lot of blues stuff. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and hope we can do it again before too much longer.

Especially as they'd got chocolate fingers in specially. The biscuits, I mean.

My own (non-chocolate) fingers are really, really sore today, though. Typing is taking longer than usual as a result. Sorry. Try and read slower so you don't overtake me.

Other news: Mr WithaY and I are off to see a band* this evening. So much social activity in a week. Who says life in Wiltshire is like living in the 1930s?

Nobody. But if they did, they'd be wrong.

Also: I've got a bit of a cough.

In itself that's not big deal, but I have had several very nasty bouts of bronchitis over the last 10 years or so, so a cough now scares the bejeezus out of me.

Last time I had bronchitis I was coughing up blood and had to go and have TB x-rays (I didn't have TB, in case you were worried). Hopefully it's going to stay just a bit of a cough but I will be keeping myself well wrapped up and putting the heating on at home to be on the safe side.

Am sucking Lockets** as well. Mmmmm. Sugar.

Burn is all but healed up now, so hurrah for that.

Which reminds me. Mr WithaY told me he thinks the pic of me on here with the camera makes me look like one of the giant robots from "Laputa, Castle in the Sky". Not sure if I think that's a good thing or not.

On the one hand, resembling a huge anime robot is pretty cool.

On the other hand, husbands are generally supposed to admire beauty, charm, warmth and fragility in their wives. Not their resemblance to a huge destructive robot.

Perhaps it's the way I can level buildings simply by using the power of my eyes that does it.

*If they're any good I'll be sure to tell you

**The cough sweet, not somebody with a slighty crap nickname

Wednesday, 26 September 2007

Nerd score says I'm a Cool High Nerd.  What are you?  Click here!

Hello Salisbury!

A first for me tonight. I'm off to a colleague's house after work to play my guitar with him (he has a Strat) and his son (a drummer). Never played with anyone else before other than my lovely guitar teacher, so I'm quite excited about it.

My first ever public performance*. In a mate's front room. I can't wait. Heh.

Had an encouraging lesson last night and can now play the Pretenders' "2000 Miles" which is one of my favourite songs to sing.

Also did a nice rhythm guitar version of Hotel California whilst my teacher did all the complicated lead guitar stuff, which worked well. He's just brilliant.

Other news: Watched "Kiki's Delivery Service" the other night on DVD, continuing catching up on my Studio Ghibli acquisitions. It is lovely. Obviously a bit of a childrens' film, but very watchable nonetheless.

Also. Called my Mum for a chat. She's taking Spanish classes in preparation for our planned trip to Santiago de Compostela next year. Apparently she'll do the talking, I'll do the driving. Excellent. Just as long as we both get to some eating and laughing as well, I don't care.

My ever-helpful nieces and nephews are giving their Grandma advice on how to be a student. They've offered to teach her to say "Whassup" and to lend her their trainers, apparently.

Had a joke texted to me by Middle Sis that made me laugh out loud as I walked into the office:

Why did the baker have brown fingers?
Because he kneaded a poo

I know. I should be ashamed. But it made me laugh again just writing it down. Sozz.

*Not counting my mate Andy playing his guitar with me in my kitchen, great fun though that was. Hello Andy!

Monday, 24 September 2007


Forgot to say, I made bread again on Saturday. I am GOOD at bread, it seems. And it makes the best toast in the world, ever, which you then slather with butter. Mmmmm.

Also made vol au vents because I impulsively defrosted a packet of puff pastry that I excavated from the bottom of the freezer. They were less successful than the bread, but not bad. Not fit to feed to company, but Mr WithaY has been scarfing them back so they can't be all bad.

Might do a cake next. If I can be arsed.

Crash and burn

At work today with no email, no access to most of my work, and no real idea when the system will be back up again.


Got in after a slow and tiresome, windswept and rainy drive across Salisbury Plain (stuck behind a fucking convoy of tank transporters for much of it) to be greeted by an office full of glum faces and blank screens. More so than normal for a Monday morning, I mean.

About half an hour ago (4 hours after most people arrived at work) there was an announcement on the building Tannoy that "the service is down". This was greeted by ironic cheers and a round of applause, which made me laugh. Rumour control means that we now know that the server "blew up" after it was switched on, that many of our sites are affected and that the engineers are working on it. Using their feet, I assume, useless bleeding chimps that they are.

My money's on getting email back by lunchtime tomorrow at the earliest. So the office is emptying as more and more people decide to head home. Presumably to do something more useful than stare at the internet all day, wishing they could email people.

The site here is covered in fallen branches - loads of the big horse chestnut trees seem to have suffered badly in the storm last night. A very dour security guard was dragging the branches off the road into a heap. I could almost hear him thinking "This isn't in my fucking job description" as I drove past him.

While I think about it, and following the question on Mr Farty's blog about comments, does the fact that comments moderation is switched on for this site bother anyone?

I set it up that way because:

a) I refuse to have anyone write comments that might be far more amusing than my blog, and it's my site and I am the ubergruppenbloggenovermeister, so there

b) I don't want anything untoward being posted that I might not spot quickly enough

c) It makes me feel special having to moderate comments

So. If the moderation thing doesn't put you off too much, feel free to share your views. And I guess if there are no comments that is an answer in itself.

If you see what I mean.

The burn still hurts, by the way.

Sunday, 23 September 2007

Films you can't find

The whole Talk Like a Pirate day thing set me thinking about one of my favourite films EVER, which you can't get on DVD.


It's called Devil's Treasure, is a version of Treasure Island, stars Charlton Heston as Long John Silver, Christian Bale (as a child!) as Jim, and has a host of superb character actors in the supporting roles. Christopher Lee steps up as Blind Pugh (sp?) for example.

Paddy whatsit from the Chieftans did the music, it was shot in all sorts of glorious locations, the stunts are brilliant, the acting is excellent and it follows the book faithfully.

It's the best pirate* film you'll ever see, and our video copy is all but worn out.

I've searched for years to find it on DVD but no luck. I believe there are contractual issues between various studios/copyright owners/whatever that prevent it being re-released. And it's a crying shame.

*i.e Film about pirates, rather than stolen copyrighted material

Aftermath. And beforemath.

So, dinner last night was fun. Mr WithaY made the word's biggest paella. Well, probably one of the top 20 largest, I bet.

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Mmmm. Fishy.

We drank a lot of lovely wine, and had a great evening catching up with friends, so hurrah for that.

But my burn! Oh lordy! Sooo incredibly disfiguring! I may need some kind of surgical mask until it heals up.

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No, look closer.

There, just by my finger, see it?


It's exactly the same shape as the match head which will make for interesting tales* in the future.

Other news: Mr WithaY and I have been up to Gloucester today to help a very dear friend celebrate her birthday. It was fab.

Loads of nice people, lovely food, champagne (although I just had the one as it was my turn to drive home) and increasingly aggressive and competitive boxing on the Wii.

Heh. Excellent.

But the drive home...the M4 on a Sunday evening. For fuck's sake! What a nightmare. Took us well over an hour and a half to travel less than 50 miles. Gah.

Anyway, it's been a very nice weekend one way and another and I am not feeling too stressed about work tomorrow for a change. Which is nice.

*not really very interesting, but you have to take your entertainment where you find it, I think.

Saturday, 22 September 2007

Know what?

What really, really hurts?

When you strike a match and the end bit ignites, then flies off the matchstick and adheres to your face.

And what's really great is that it happened 15 minutes before our dinner guests arrive so I have a lovely red burn on my face to greet them with.


Bizarre competition

Was chatting to a neighbour the other day about the rat issue. The rats we sometimes get under our garden shed, that Mr WithaY dispatches with James Bond-like precision.

Anyway, the discussion developed into a "things we've had in the garden" competition.

Me: Hedgehog
Neighbour: Vole
Me: Pheasant
Neighbour: Heron
Me: Partridge
Neighbour: Buzzard
Me: Um....lizard
Neighbour: Cow (apparently it wandered in from a nearby farm and had to be herded back by the farmer several hours later)
Me: Frog
Neighbour: (trumping me with glory) Burglar!
Me: Rat! Ha haaaa!
Neighbour: Tramp! In the greenhouse!

So, she wins.


Thursday, 20 September 2007

Pirates, lack of

Damn. Another International Talk Like A Pirate Day over and done with, and no real opportunities to take part. Unless you count texts between siblings, of course.

And saying "Yarrr" and "Narrr" a lot at home when asked questions by Mr WithaY.

I did consider including a hornpipe in the briefing I was doing yesterday afternoon ("I think it will all be much clearer if you watch THIS, gentlemen") but chickened out at the last minute.

Still, I'll wait in hope for next year's.

Wednesday, 19 September 2007


Bloody hell it's cold. I know it's September and all, but come on. I mean, really.

Was snuggled up to at the team meeting yesterday. "For warmth" apparently. Hmm.

It's still about 4 weeks too early for the heating to get switched on at home but I might light the fire* tonight, and see if the chimney still works ok.

Thinking about mice made me think about our old house a lot yesterday, probably the first time in almost 6 years that I've given it much thought. Odd.

But, what I was reminded of was the "Accidental Cat Theft" story. Are you sitting comfortably?

One day I noticed a strange cat in our front garden. It was sat very still, looking as if it was in some discomfort. I went out and stroked it a bit, and felt that it was very skinny, so I took it out a little dish of milk.

I left it in peace and went back inside. Later on, I looked out and the cat had moved slightly so it was still sitting in the sun, but was now sitting with its tail in the dish of milk. Now I don't know a lot about cats, but I didn't think it was very well to be doing that.

Mr WithaY came out to have a look and agreed with my assessment that the cat was not right. His view was that we should leave it alone and it would wander home when it was ready.

I watched the cat for a while longer and eventually decided that we had to take it to the vet as it was obviously poorly. Mr WithaY agreed** so I wrapped the skinny mog in an old towel, we put it in the laundry basket and drove to the vet's.

The vet had a look and said "Oh dear. This cat is very old indeed, and is probably just waiting to die."

I was quite sad to hear this as I had already decided that if it survived I would keep it. The vet said she'd keep in in overnight, give it a few vitamin jabs and so on, and clean all the fleas and things off it, and if it made it through the night, she'd call me.

Mr WithaY then flew to Scotland for a week for work, and I went about my lawful business. When I got home from work the next night, one of the neighbours, the matriarch of the huge extended family who lived in the street (and several other surrounding streets) was stood in her front garden, looking troubled.

"Have you seen moi cat?" she demanded as soon as I got out of my car. (Uh-oh)

"Um, maybe. What does it look like?"

Visions of dozens of her scary relatives wielding pickaxe handles filled my brain momentarily.

"She's little. And grey. Moi cat sleeps on moi bed every noight. She din't come home last noight! Oi'm worried sick!" By now I had a very, very bad feeling about this.

"Um. I think I stole your cat. It's at the vet's. I'll call them. I'm really sorry, I thought it was a stray." Because it was skinny and covered in FLEAS you terrifying old crone.

I rang the vet. Thank fuck, the cat didn't die in the night. I told the vet I'd be sending the rightful owner over to pick it up as soon as possible, and went out to tell my neighbour the good news. That her cat wasn't dead, I mean. Not that I'd stolen it. She knew that already.

Scary neighbour duly retrieved her cat, but then came round waving the vet's bill at me. "Oi've got this huge bill now! Oi'm an old age pensioner you know!"

I took it off her and exercised all my considerable natural charm to assure her I'd pay the vet's bill (if you tell your terrifying family not to come and burn my house down, ta). Sent the cheque to the vet, and then had an outraged phone call from them.

"I can't believe she's making you pay this bill! Her cat was neglected! I've got a good mind to call the RSPCA! etc etc etc".

I begged the vet not to do that (visions of a wicker man being built on my front lawn had started forming in my mind's eye by now) and eventually the vet hung up, very grumpy.

An hour later there was a knock on the front door. I opened it gingerly, expecting pitchforks and blazing torches, but there were several of the less scary relatives with a huge bunch of flowers for me "for saving our Nan's cat". Aaah.

And two days later I got my cheque back from the vet's with a lovely note saying they were going to pay it themselves as they felt it was unfair to take my money. Aaah.

However, the whole experience left me scarred.

House policy now is that if we ever see an animal sitting in the garden for more than 10 minutes we're to hit it with a shovel and lob it over the fence.

*not a euphamism. We have a fire in the sitting room. In case you were wondering.

**reluctantly, mind. Not a cat person.

Tuesday, 18 September 2007


Just watched "Laputa, Castle in the Sky", one of my new Studio Ghibli films I bought the other weekend. Very nice.

I love the look of those films as much as anything. The quality of the animation is superb, and the minor stylistic annoyances are easily ignored. Perfect for a quiet night in when you feel a bit low and grumpy.

And that's not a rating you see on posters often enough, in my view.

Long and mousey

This post. Not my hair. I mean, it's long, but not at all mousey.


Drove into work this morning on autopilot after a day at home yesterday feeling crap and another poor night's sleep. It's very very tiresome*, not sleeping properly. Makes everything else feel ten times more difficult and wearing than it really is, and every molehill turns into a huge mountain.

Still, the sun is out and I am wearing a very lovely pink sparkly scarf over my otherwise all-black work outfit and three different people have told me how (and I quote) glamorous I look. So hurrah for that, at least.

Off to the gym after work if I can summon up the enthusiasm, but to be honest I still feel pretty low so might leave it till tomorrow. I have a guitar lesson, so it will be a bit of a mad rush to do my stuff at the gym, get home, get showered and changed and be bright-eyed and all ready to play guitar and eat biscuits with my lovely teacher by 6pm. And we got cow biscuits in specially.

So it might be a session tomorrow and one on Thursday as planned instead.

Badgerdaddy's post about the mouse made me think about our own vermin slaying experiences. And we have lots. Our previous house in Salisbury had a bit of a mouse invasion one winter.

We didn't realise it for ages.

I was home alone for a week while Mr WithaY was away for work, and I was sitting on the floor in the sitting room, no music, no tv, all very quiet, reading an improving book**. After a while I realised I could hear odd scratching, tapping noises. I looked out of the windows, nobody about. Went into the kitchen, nothing going on in there. Sat and listened again, but the noise had stopped.

This happened several times over the next few nights. I'd be sat quietly, and would hear this odd noise, get up to go and try to find out what it was, and it would stop.

Many months later we were redecorating the sitting room. We moved a small shelf unit that the stereo*** lived on, and hey presto, behind it was a Tom and Jerry stylee mousehole. Some fucking mouse had been busily making his way into the fabric of the house! He'd eaten the wallpaper, channelled his way into the bricks and gnawed all the rubber insulation from the mains electric cables for good measure.

What I'd been hearing night after night was him doing his little mousey home improvements. Lucky he didn't eat right into the power cables and burn the bloody house down.

After that we kept an eye out for further evidence, and sure enough we started to find mouse poo in the kitchen. In the fruit and vegetable basket, to be exact. We binned all the fruit and veg, noting that the only thing the mouse had had a go at were the chillies. Not the apples, or potatoes, or carrots or even the onions. Just the chillies. Odd, eh?

We set a trap. The next day there he was, dead as the proverbial, his teeth buried in a fine lump of stilton (as a last meal, Mr WithaY thought it was appropriate that it be something a bit special).

I must admit I had a bit of a lump in my throat as we slung him in the bin. The mouse. Not Mr WithaY.

The intermittent rats in the current WithaY garden get no such sentimental treatment. We spot one stealing the birdfood, the sniper on the grassy knoll is deployed, we very soon afterwards dump the twitching carcase in the bin (the grey one, not the green one).

Mr WithaY sometimes makes me take photos of the really big ones. It's nice to share things, I think.

*heh, see what I did there?

**improving book: i.e: not porn

***are they still called stereos these days? Will the younger readers know what I mean?

Sunday, 16 September 2007


Forgot to mention earlier. Mr WithaY brought a bag of sperm whale's teeth home with him. Nice.

Much of yesterday was spent scrubbing them in the garden (by him, not me), and preparing various evil solutions of soda and water to soak them in.

Why? You may well ask.

I have. If I get an answer, I'll be sure to share it.

The unfortunate whale was washed up (dead) onto the beach where he had to go and visit on Friday, so he got permission to extract some of the teeth to bring home.

They'll look lovely on the kitchen dresser.

Or maybe he'll put them on the wall, next to the fucking crossbow.


When he told me he was going to go and chisel the teeth out of a huge dead sea mammal I nodded, my natural horror and disbelief numbed from 20 years of living with a modern Davy Crockett.

At work on Thursday I told a colleague of Mr WithaY's plans, and said "I hope he took his overalls with him."

That night, a message on the answerphone informed me that Mr WithaY had had to go and buy a new pair of trousers to wear to his meeting because the only ones he'd taken were now covered in whale juice.

You couldn't make it up.

I wish I could. I so do.

Catching up

Am enjoying a very lazy weekend. In fact, am still in my dressing gown and slippers as we speak, waiting for the dishwasher to finish so I can go and have a shower. Ah, life chez WithaY. Always something interesting going on.

So, what's new since I was last here?

Well, went to the gym after work on Thursday and ran (yes RAN*) on the cross trainer for a bit. A first for me, and I was bloody delighted, I can tell you.

ACDC are superb to listen to in the gym, they really are.

Mr WithaY was away Thursday night up in Skegness, so I enjoyed a quiet night in, and a quiet day at home on Friday drafting a presentation for next week. Mr WithaY rang to tell me he'd not be home till about 8.

Interesting how different people view the same conversation. To me, that call went like this:

Mr W: Just called to let you know I will be home about 8. (unspoken but obvious dialogue in my head: "So we'll eat the lovely venison chilli you're cooking after I get home. Mmmm, looking forward to that, you domestic goddess you.")

Me: Ok, see you later, have a good trip. (Ditto, in Mr W's head: "Excellent. I'll wait till you get home before eating, so we can enjoy a meal together and you can tell me all about your trip.")

Mr W: See you later then.

But no. The unspoken dialogue in his head was very different:

Mr W: Just called to let you know I will be home about 8. (unspoken but obvious dialogue in my head: "So we'll eat the lovely venison chilli you're cooking after I get home. Mmmm, looking forward to that, you domestci goddess you."

Me: Ok, see you later, have a good trip. (Ditto, in Mr W's head: "So you eat your supper as soon as you like because I had a sandwich on the road and am going to the pub when I get home. Hurrah!")

Mr W: See you later then.

So. I stayed in and ate chilli and watched Priscilla Queen of the Desert. Mr WithaY "nipped out for a quick one" and rolled in at 1am, pissed and giggly.


Saturday was the big Day of Reckoning in the wardrobe. I dragged out a huge pile of clothes that for one reason or another don't get worn. I was quite strict. Basically if I couldn't remember the last time I wore something, or knew it didn't make me feel good when I wore it, out it went. So I now have a lot of space.

On the plus side I found several things I'd forgotten I had, which I will keep.

Stayed up late late, late, last night watching the first 6 episodes of Heroes, which I'd managed to miss to date. Blimey it was entertaining.

Sadly the next 3 episodes are on late tonight, which means I wil probably have to miss at least one of them as it's a school night.

Big excitement on Friday evening in the village. Was sat here with all the windows open, it being a warm day, and I heard a load of yelling and shouting outside.

Looked out (as you do) but all I could see was a big bloke sitting on next door's front garden wall, and a couple of cars stopped in the road. I assumed it was just some eejits messing about, and went back to my lawful business.

But no, the yelling and screaming went on, and I could hear a couple of guys shouting "Calm down! Calm down!" over and over. So I went to another room (with a better vantage point) and looked again. The bloke who was sitting on the wall was in fact helping to hold down a young lad who was lying on the pavement, while a couple of other blokes did the same.

More and more people joined the throng, and inevitably, after a litle while the police arrived, handcuffed the young bloke, bundled him into their car and sped off into the sunset. No idea what was going on, but it livened up my afternoon no end.

Off to an afternoon party in a bit. Better go and make myself look respectable.

*slowly, mind

Thursday, 13 September 2007

Wardrobe malfunction

Blimey this feels like a long week.

I think it has something to do with Monday's hellishly early start, then a busy (if depressing) day in the office, then a reasonably stressful day in Bath yesterday, and another busy day in the office today.

And I went to the gym on Tuesday, AND had a guitar lesson. So busy.

My new guitar is away being set up, as it has terrible fret buzz which is really irritating. My lovely guitar teacher is taking it to his mate's to have new strings and a bit of technical tweaking done. I am looking forward to getting it back, as I miss playing it. My Strat is great, but I do prefer the Les Paul.

How fantastic to have the choice of two such incredible guitars. Shame my playing isn't really doing either of them justice. Heh.

Working at home tomorrow so at least I can slouch about in my pyjamas all morning whilst drafting job specifications if I feel like it.

The pyjamas, I mean.

I'll be doing the drafting whether I feel like it or not. Well, they pay me, so I ought to make the effort, really.

Realised this morning that I need to wash my car - that time of year already - because when the sun hits the side windows I can't see through them properly due to the layer of filth plastered over the glass. Such a slattern.

On a more positive domestic note, had a bit of a clear-out last night. I took a load of clothes and shoes out of my wardrobe and am going to try them all on tonight (not all at once, you understand) and anything that is too small, too old, too scruffy, too stained or too frumpy will either make its way to the recycling bin or the charity shop, depending on condition.

I have a wardrobe stuffed full of clothes, but always wear the same few things, so this will be a good way of remembering what else I have, and also clearing some space to put new stuff if I need to.

I seldom buy new clothes because I think "I already have loads" but if I don't wear them, I should get rid of them and make space for stuff I will wear.

In fact today I am wearing a pair of shoes I'd forgotten I had. I was wondering why I'd shoved them to the back of the cupboard as they are quite pretty, I can drive in them, and they go well with my work trousers. I kept wondering right up until they rubbed a huge blister on my instep. Ahhhh. THAT'S why I stopped wearing them! Now I remember.

Good job I have a box of plasters in my desk. Why yes, I was in the Girl did you guess?

I found some suits from Long Tall Sally that I bought in a sale which still had the tickets on them - not worn once in the last 5 years. All two sizes too small when I bought them.

What a fucking waste of money that was, eh?

I'll try them on tonight and if they don't fit (which they just might as I have lost a bit of weight) off to the charity shop they go. And then instead of seeing a row of half a dozen suits when I open the wardrobe, I will see the three I actually wear.

The same goes for the jumpers I bought which don't suit me, the paint-covered jeans with a busted zip, the T-shirts that are too shabby even for the gym, and the many, many bizarre scarves, gloves and bags I have acquired over the last 20 years that are too mental to ever leave the house.

Mr WithaY is away so I have no fear of being discovered dressed like an inept drag queen on a bad hair day.

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

Startled by the news

Bloody hell! Just seen on the BBC website that Anita Roddick died yesterday! What a shock. In St Richard's Hospital in Chichester, where I had my wisdom teeth out. Small world, eh?

I always viewed her as a really positive female role model for girls who had any kind of aspirations in the retail environment that went above and beyond working behind a till.

And I had a real sense of pride in the Body Shop, as Chichester (where I spent my formative years) was I think the second place in the country to have one, after Brighton. So there was a sense of being in at the start of something special. I had my ears pierced at the Body Shop in 1979. What a long time ago that seems like now. Hurt like hell.

They only sold about 6 products, but every girl at school had at least one of them in her bathroom, I bet.

My Middle Sis went out to Romania in the mid/late 1980s as part of a group organised by Anita Roddick to help rebuild the bloody horrible orphanages that were discovered there. In fact she went out there twice. And she met Ms Roddick, and said she was very clever about dealing with the press and everything to get the maximum publicity for the venture.

So I am sorry she's gone. She was a pioneer in many ways,I think. The Body Shop seemed to lose its way significantly after she moved away from it.

I'd have know about this yesterday if I'd watched the news instead of going to the pub, I suppose.

The night before the morning after

At work, tired and I think possibly a bit hung over. Although I only had 4 (or at the very most) 5 glasses of white wine. Hardly a rip-snorting rock 'n' roll lifestyle bender really.

Mind you, I don't usually drink at all during the week, so maybe I'm just not used to feeling a bit fragile at work.

Woke up at 6 this morning to discover the lovely Mr WithaY missing from his half of the marital bed. When questioned later, he told me I had almost shoved him out onto the floor in the middle of the night. Well, makes a change from waking him up by screaming in my sleep.

"Why didn't you shove me back over my side?" I asked him.

"You were fast asleep so I went to the spare room to let you sleep" he said. What a nice bloke, eh?

His realisation that I needed to sleep might have had something to do with my incessant whining all evening about the horribly early start I'd had to the day. I had to be in London for 9.30 am, which meant catching the 6:45 train. Which meant leaving home by 6:20. Gah.

Coming home in the evening, there was the (by now) traditional rail-related fuckwittery. Got the train out of Waterloo in good time. Looking at connections and so on I thought I'd manage to get home by about half six. Not too bad at all, really.

All went well until Salisbury, where I have to change trains.

Hopped off the train, wandered to the wall of a thousand screens to see when my train would get in....nothing. No train till the one at quarter to seven. In an hour and a half. The one in the meantime, just missing. No explanation or anything. Just a gap where a train should be.

Rather than wait, fuming, at the station for an hour and a half I rang Mr WithaY. He very kindly came and fetched me from the station on his way home from work, dropping me back at the local station so I could pick my car up. By the time we got home, it was gone 7.

Hence the decision to go to the pub for dinner, hence the unplanned outbreak of hilarity and drinking. A good end to a rather shit day.

One of our neighbours was talking about Facebook.

"Did you know there's a Facebook for dogs?" he asked us.

"Is there really?" said another neighbour, not a Facebook user, obviously. "How do dogs operate the keyboard?"

He mimed a dog trying to type. Try it, it's very, very funny. Or maybe that was just the wine. There was a long thoughtful silence as we digested his question.

"Well" said Mr WithaY, "My computer has a paws button."

Monday, 10 September 2007

Accidentally pissed

Went to the pub for dinner after a ridiculously long day in London (more on that another time) and ended up having far too many glasses of wine with some hilarious neighbours.

I love living here.

Sunday, 9 September 2007


Well, the Frome Cheese Show was fab. I took pictures. In fact, I took so many pictures that I am going to do a seperate link to them. But for now, a few highlights:

There were many, many cheeses:

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Hands up anyone who wants to imagine how that tent smelt by about 3pm on a hot, hot day?

Mmmm. Cheesy.

There were some fantastic, prizewinning cheeses:
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Was a bit like a dairy version of Crufts, I imagine, but without the agility. Mind you, it was warm enough in there to make a few of the cheeses rather lively.

There were tractors:

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This one with the windmill on it wins my "Things I don't EVER want to get stuck behind" award:

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There was a hay and silage tent, which was full of very old men sniffing the sacks and looking critical. Here is a prize-winning sack:

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Clearly a winner, I think you'll agree.

One of my favourite things was the pack of beagles. Aaaah. Beagles:

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But the best tent of all (hence the many, many photos) was the Produce Tent. Hurrah.
There was jam:

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I love the stern notes left on things.

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These have cheese AND cake! Perfect!


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Things made FROM vegetables:
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(How did the sheep only get fifth? He was robbed!)

Oh, so much stuff. We had a grand day.

Thursday, 6 September 2007

Fame, hopefully fortune

Was watching the TV whilst doing some ironing (domestic goddess, etc etc etc) and what should be up there, not once, but twice in the 45 minutes I was watching?

Longleat, that's what.


Local attraction makes the news. Who'd have thought it?

The first mention was a rather cute story on Channel 4 News featuring meercats (sp?) , and a camera "accidentally" left behind by a photographer.


He "accidentally" left the tool of his trade in a pen full of wild animals, did he?

Not, I note, in the naughty monkey enclosure, where it would have been stripped for parts and welded into their Mad Max stylee car*, no.

No, he left it with the meercats, who as far as I know, don't have many advanced technical or engineering skills. So not much chance of severe damage to the camera then. That was lucky.

Next mention was on some programme about a bloke who'd built a log cabin in Somerset, using (da-da-daaaaa) larch from Longleat Forestry. I was so proud. I'd have saluted, but was afraid I'd burn my ear.

Other news: My barking but lovely mate Lorraine is going to do jousting. On a horse. In a huge suit of armour. At the Tower Armouries. How great is she?

And she's doing it to raise money for a very good cause, so if you want to

a) find out more and

b) sponsor her, please check

*It'll happen, you mark my words.

Wednesday, 5 September 2007

Correction. And bragging

That Jim Carrey film - Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. D'oh.

Anyhoo, been shooting. It was great. I was fairly rubbish, managing about a 25 percent strike rate, but as I've not been out with my shotgun for about a year I don't feel too bad about it.

There was one brief moment of glory - one of the other members of the group was having trouble with their gun, and eventually handed it to me to see if I could fire off the last cartridge. I asked for a clay to be sent over, then succeeded in blasting it into a bazillion tiny bits, with pretty much the whole group standing around, forced to watch me being great.

Rather spoiled the effect by being surprised I'd hit it and squealing like a big girl, I think.

Was told an excellent story in the pub afterwards.

One of the group worked in a launderette part time. One day a rather scruffy guy came in with a load of washing. She put it in the machine after he left, but soon realised there was something solid clanking about in there along with the clothes. She fished around and eventually located a big pebble.

She put it on top of the washing machine, grumbling about thoughtless customers leaving pebbles in their pockets, damaging their washing machines. After a while, a colleague came in for a chat. Outraged lady showed her the pebble, expressing her dismay at the carelessness of some people.

Second colleague looked at the pebble for some time, before informing the outraged lady that it was in fact a big lump of cannibis resin.

Apparently she also advised her not to put it in the tumble dryer.

Toast in a Car!

After a very grumpy and tiresome morning in the office, I am off this afternoon to go clay pigeon shooting as part of a team building event. Team building. And they're letting us use guns. Excellent.

This morning's drive to work took over an hour which is a bit of a record on a non-snowy, no-flood day.

The reason for this is that it is harvest time, and the roads round here are full of huge agricultural vehicles towing trailers of grain. All very nice, part of the great cycle of life and all, but fucking annoying when you have to cross Salisbury Plain at 10 miles an hour, the fifteenth car in a queue behind two of them. With at least seven more cars behind you.

Not that I was counting or anything.

One thing made me laugh - a guy heading in the opposite direction who was driving along with a plate of toast balanced on his dashboard. Breakfast on the move.

Saw a dead cow too. A first for me.

It was lying on its back in a field beside the road, hind legs stuck straight up, front legs kind of curled up over its chest. And boy was it bloated.

There was a Police off-road truck on the tank track next to the field so I assume they were dealing with it. Calling the farmer, the butcher, the tanner, notifying the next of kin, that sort of thing.

Made me feel a bit sad, oddly. I am so used to seeing the cows as I drive back and forth every day; they always look so happy, eating, mooing, blinking their long eyelashes, just wandering about. I felt a small shock of loss when I saw one of them (one of the nice pale yellow ones too, not a brown and white bastard) stark and stiff in a field.

Other news: Our lovely mate Owen came over for dinner last night. I made a rather fab curry, which contained (among other things) peppers, aubergine, chickpeas, cumin seed, coriander seed and chicken.

Bloody great. Mr WithaY made his world famous Bombay Potatoes (ingredients: potatoes, other stuff), and I also knocked up a plum, dried cherry and walnut crumble. With custard. Boy were we full.

We watched The Brilliant Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (or whatever) which was really, really good. Jim Carrey in a serious role. What a revelation. He was superb. And not in the least bit annoying enough to make you want to hit him with a frying pan, which made a nice change.

If you haven't seen it, do so. Although the bit with the woman in the waiting room with a box full of dog toys brought a tear to my eye. What a sap I am.

Also had a guitar lesson (busy night) and can now play the complete "Black Dog" riff. Hurrah for me.

Monday, 3 September 2007


I ache.

My shoulders and right arm are stiff as hell, and every time I stretch (because I'm not quite tall enough yet) I go "Yow...fuckit!" because I forgot how much they ache.


Not because I have been working hard at the gym.

Not because I have been pulling big weeds out of the garden.

Not even because I have finally tackled the Mount Kilimanjaro of ironing that threatens to overwhelm the whole village before too much longer.


Our lovely mates we stayed with after the party on Saturday have a WII game thingy. You know, one of those ones where you hold the little controller and wave your arms about like an idiot, trying to play darts, or kill goblins or whatever.

I am a natural at boxing, it seems.

Not sure if I'm pleased with that or not, really. Especially as my shoulders hurt so much today. Anyhoo, it was great fun. We also played a bit of "Zelda, Slightly Unconvincing Anime Fairy Princess of the Bog People" or something, which was amusing in a prescriptive kind of way, but I liked the boxing best.

I might get one, as Mr WithaY quite liked it too. I'll look around and see how much they cost. Plus it would entertain the nieces and nephews when they came to visit, rather than them asking what DVDs (loads, none you'll like though), games (loads, none you'll like though) and places to go locally (loads, none you'll like though) are available to them at our house.

That exciting walk to look at the river loses some charm after the third or fourth trip, apparently.

I took the scratch plate off my new guitar at the weekend, so now it looks even lovelier than it did before. Sounds pretty damn fine too.

I am learning the riff for Led Zep's "Black Dog" at the moment, which is hugely satisfying. I play it much too slow, but at least I can remember it properly. I tend to play too fast, so slowing things down a bit is no bad thing.

Took my acoustic guitar to the party but the band who were playing were a bit too serious and musician-y to make me feel ok about playing along. They were very good, but I don't think anything I can play would have worked with their sound. They were very nice and asked me if I wanted to join them, but I declined on the grounds of shyness and ineptness.

Did play Semisonic's "Closing Time" for some of my mates though. Ha. It's surprisingly hard playing the dark, in a field, whilst outside the best part of a bottle of red wine.

Sunday, 2 September 2007

Party animals

Just got back from very pleasant party weekend, helping my mate Steve celebrate his birthday. It was fab. He'd organised a big field, a barbecue, beer, a band, and loads of mates to turn up and party with him. Bloody great.

I took pictures. Especially took one of the birthday cake...

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And here are some rather atmospheric shots of the party, fairly late on, after drink had been taken:

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It was great.

Oh, and here's a party animal.

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It's a depressing sign of age when all your mates' dogs are limping about because they are old and arthritic. Much like your mates.