Wednesday, 30 July 2008


I hate my job.

Had a big meeting today which left me feeling like all my senior colleagues think I'm an incompetent fuckwit.

Yeah, I know it probably isn't how they really feel, but it's how I feel today.


Monday, 28 July 2008

Flies! Again!

I have a thunderbug INSIDE my PC screen! How did it get in there? What happens when it tries to get out?

It will die in there, I know it, and the tiny mouldering corpse will sit forever in my eyeline.


There it goes, wandering back and forth, probably leaving a trail of toxic crap behind it.

Did it get in through a vent somewhere? Did it lift up a polystyrene ceiling tile and crawl into a duct and then discover it was trapped?

Will there be several, larger, armed thunderbugs coming after it?

It really is most distracting.

The flies...the heat....

Still too hot.

Never happy, me. Spent the morning trawling slowly through my emails and trying to tidy up loose ends. Just as well I don't have any meetings today, because my brain has turned into a heap of noodles from the heat.

I might take a load of reading home this afternoon and do it in the shade in the garden.

It's remarkably oppressive in here. I guess it's only about 25 degrees but because we can't keep the bloody windows open (the slightest gust of wind and they slam shut) the office is very stuffy. I have a fan on my desk* but if I have it facing me, it is too annoying, so I have it set up to blow air around without actually getting me in the face.

My brother-in-law is convinced our family has a vampire gene somewhere because Middle Sis and I keep out of the sun wherever possible.

He may be right. I do have remarkably sharp teeth.

*The electrical type, not someone telling me how great they think I am all day long. Maybe I should advertise that as a job.

Sunday, 27 July 2008


Blimey it's hot.

It's been a real up and down week at work, and a blazing hot weekend. I am exhausted.

Work stuff has actually been rather encouraging. Had to go and brief a Very Senior Person Indeed on Thursday, which went quite well. Amusingly, he had to step out for 10 minutes to receive some exalted guests from overseas, and came back into the meeting wearing a rather jaunty scarf they gave him as a present.

The upshot of our meeting was that he agrees that my team is woefully understaffed, and we need help. So fingers crossed there for some more people to help out.

I met my new boss on Friday, who is lovely, so that was another high point. But best of all, I found out that I have been awarded a TOP BONUS this year. Yay me.

The pay system we have is complicated by the bonus system, which I won't bore you all with, but it turns out that this time I am one of the winners. So, I am trying not to think too hard about all the crap things about the system, and focus on the fact that I will get some extra cash at some point. When they sort out our pay. Which might be months away yet.

Other news: It's been a very hot few days. Weatherwise I mean. We had my Middle Sis and family here for the weekend and even managed to have a barbecue. Outdoors and everything, we even ate in the garden for (I think) the first time this summer.

We have eaten like kings all weekend, which has been fab.

Also. Took the family over to visit our mates in the village to admire their chickens. Most endearing*.

We seem to have spent the entire weekend sitting in the garden, which has been very relaxing indeed. Middle Sis and I even did some gardening on Saturday afternoon. We have cut the hedge at the end of the back garden in a swathe, because our extension cord doesn't reach all the way. Now it looks like someone has taken a bite out of it.

Went into Salisbury on Saturday and bought some strap locks for my guitar, then spent an entertaining 30 minutes today trying to fit them, based on what the bloke in the music shop had told me. He was talking bollocks, it turned out, and the whole process was in fact very simple indeed.

Hopefully when I play in public next weekend, at least I won't have to contend with my guitar crashing to the floor.

Middle Sis told me a brilliant joke:

Q: What is the name for a fear of passwords?

A: Friendorphobia

*The chickens, I mean. We already thought highly of our mates.

Tuesday, 22 July 2008


So, stuff I wrote about last night before Blogger decided to do some creative editing for me:

Watched The Big Lebowski with Mr WithaY the other weekend. He'd never seen it before, and thoroughly enjoyed it. That's just as well, means we can stay married.

When I got back from my trip to Sussex on Saturday evening, I was greeted by the melodious tones of "Blade" at full volume. It seems Mr WithaY decided to have an action-packed vampire movie-fest while I was out. There is nothing quite as relaxing after a long drive as a really loud vampire fight, I think.

We had some mates over for dinner on Sunday night. As it was a nice day, MrWithaY decided to get creative in the garden with his bargain smoker.

Did I tell you about the smoker already? If I did, feel free to skip this bit.

When we went to the States last time we decided to go up to Maine and visit the LL Bean store. I like their clothes (long-enough jeans for a tenner! T-shirts that keep their shape and colour after 3 washes! Shoes that are a bit odd!) and Mr WithaY is a huge fan of the various huntin' shootin' fishin' kit they stock. So, we left Cape Cod and drove up to Maine, having an adventure for a few days.

Well. We spent all day there. It was great fun. Like a theme park for shopping.

I bought some clothes, and some cookie cutters in the shape of a moose. Mr WithaY spent house and hours and hours looking at fishing tackle, eventually buying a selection of tiny rubber squiddy, jellyfishy things for luring unsuspecting fish to their doom. Lures, I think they're called.

All was going swimingly so far. Then we looked around the outdoor pursuits section. Tents, garden furniture, torches, sleeping bags, camping gadgets a-plenty. It was very interesting and entertaining*.

Anyhoo, as we were heading out towards the exit, Mr WithaY spots the "Bargains" area. Nestling in the middle of the bargains area was a smoker. Not, as you might imagine, a bloke with a fag on, but a large metal container with handles, a lid and some dials and gauges on the front. Well, to be honest, missing one gauge, hence it was a bargain.

It was reduced to something ridiculous like 25 quid. If youy try to buy one over here they cost about 200. We looked at it. We took the lid off. We put it back on again, noting the excellent fit. We poked the knobs and dials. We walked away and conferred out of earshot of it. We came back and estimated how many chickens would fit in it**.

We had to have it.

LL Bean are tremendously helpful. We spoke to the sales assistant, who slapped a SOLD label on our smoker, and told us to go and talk to the shipping team. The shipping team was a lovely lady from the next town, who was delighted we had come all that way to visit.

All of the shipping team were older people, all were completely charming. I got the feeling that LL Bean is probably the major employer in the area.

We did all the paperwork, chatting cheerfully. She was delighted to hear that we had plans to use our new smoker as a barbecue and smoker, and wanted to know what we planned to cook in it. We told her, 8 chickens. Because we can.

Finally, all the paperwork was done, she wished us a very happy journey back to the Cape and onwards home again. We waved goodbye with a little tear in our eyes. Expect the smoker in about 6 weeks, they told us.

We counted the days.

Finally, it arrived. With a Customs label on it saying we had to pay an import tax. I think the total cost of the smoker plus import tax was about 200 quid.

Still, it smokes a wicked chicken.

*We don't get out much.

**About 8.

Monday, 21 July 2008

Back on the road again

Well, took me an hour and a half to get home from work this evening. A journey of 33 miles, usually do-able in about 45 minutes, given the narrow, tractor-infested, hilly, blind-spot-filled roads I use.

Apart, that is, from the A303 (look on a map, American readers).

That is a fine, dual-carriageway-fied bit of road that allows you to overtake all the tractors, horseboxes, ancient farm trucks and doddery old twats who have been sat in front of you doing 20/30/35 miles an hour for the last 15 miles.

Apparently a truck full of flour had overturned* on the roundabout a few miles further on, so everyone was diverted off the road while the police made flour castles. Or maybe pancakes. I have no idea. They closed the road for bloody hours, anyway.

So, off we all went, through every Army camp in Wiltshire, a million cars nose to tail, various clever dicks doing u-turns in the road to find a different route. Yeah, good luck with that, matey.

After about 40 minutes of inching along, we got through a police traffic control checkpoint, most of the queue headed back to the main road and I continued along the glorious highways and byways of rural Wiltshire.

Well, it was a nice evening.

Other news: Went to Sussex and spent a lovely day with my Mum. We went to the Gribble Inn for lunch, where there was a beer festival with a live band. Hurrah. I had to be a bit guitar-nerdy and go and admire their 12-string**. They gave me their business card so I can email them with more nerdy questions at my leisure.

Also had the opportunity to admire my Eldest Nephew's new motorbike, which is huge. Much bigger than first-time bikes were when I was his age. Just as well, as he must be about 8 feet tall now. Maybe taller.

In case you were wondering, I had written a much longer*** post but bloody Blogger lost it when I tried to upload it. SO you get the condensed and less amusing version. Sozz.

*Been racking my brains for a hilarious "mix up" pun but failed. Be my guest.

**Insert double entendre here

**and funnier

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Inner Dolphins

In a vain attempt to revive my flagging good nature by flooding it with inner dolphins, I went to the gym after work. Bloody hell it was hard.

Also meant I didn't get home till 7pm which is quite late for me.

As I pulled into the drive, Mr WithaY was scampering towards the gate clutching his longbow and a quiver of arrows.

Oh how I wish I was kidding.

He stopped and waited till I got out of the car, and then explained "I'm off to next door's! They've got archery targets in their field!" It was said in the same tone of voice as an excited child might tell you that they are going fishing for tadpoles.

So, off he went to do some archery for a bit while I had some supper and watched repeats of Friends on TV to try and unwind after a frankly crap day in the office. We both had a very nice time, thank you.

Other news: Bloody secret police have been out in force today trapping speeding motorists. I saw two unmarked police cars* in the same village, and then two police speed camera vans within about a three mile stretch of road on the way to work. Must be coming up to Wiltshire's Trapped Speeding Motorists quota time again.

*They had their top secret police lights flashing, which is how I knew what they were. In case you thought I might be psychic. Which I'm not.

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Electric shock

I have been at home today, waiting for the Man.

The Man in question is the fantastic local handyman, who can fix anything at all, ever. Even light switches that are intermittently rubbish, like the one outside our bathroom.

And radiators that have mysteriously stopped working even though you've checked the fuse. Like the one in our bathroom.

He turned up at about 11am, had a cup of tea*, looked at the light switch, made concerned noises, then took it to bits. We had to help him read what was written on it because apparently our eyes are better, being younger and all. Both Mr WithaY and I being speccy twats, I am not sure I agree with that theory, but still.

A similar pattern followed with the radiator. Cup of tea (the same one, he's not greedy), concerned noises, examination of various bits and our help in reading the details writetn on it.

And then he left.

When will he be back? We have no idea. Will he fix the light switch? Or the radiator? Who knows?

He's like one of those mythical heroes, who arrive when least expected, when all hope is gone. At least, that's what I am telling myself as I brush my teeth in the dark.

Other news: Watched "Meet Joe Black" on dvd this evening. Not really a feel-good movie, is it? But it did have Brad Pitt being diffident and half naked which is always worth a look, in my opinion.

*Two sugars and have you got any biscuits my dear?

Tuesday, 15 July 2008


Aaah, just when you thought all my whinging and grumbling about cars was long gone, here's some fresh new complaining for you to enjoy.

Mr WithaY's Landrover is apparently making "weird, loud, bearing-type noises". He's just come back after rollocking all over Salisbury Plain in it, so it is possible he just has an angry badger* wedged in the rear axle.

Other news: I can now play both riffs** from Bryan Adams' "Run To You". Am I a rock goddess or what?

*Or maybe some unexploded ordnance, it's hard to tell in this light.

**The slow one at the start of the song, and then the little twinkly one in the middle. Go and listen to it again if you're confused.

Monday, 14 July 2008


Guess what we did this weekend?

I mean out of the ordinary. Apart from the domestic stuff like doing the washing, going shopping for food, visiting ailing hospital-bound relatives.

Apart from all of that.

You won't. Unless you are one of the mates who I texted on Sunday about it, of course.

We went to a Pow-wow. In Wiltshire. It was an experience.


There is, fairly near us, a Bison Farm. They have other animals too, it turns out.



Look, up the tree. Asleep. Not moving. Yep, that's him.


Not like these guys, who made a racket and terrified all the small children who came near their pen.

Anyhoo, this weekend, the Bison Farm was hosting the 14th Pow-wow. How have we missed the previous 13? What were we thinking?


So, in the heart of the slightly damp and dull Wiltshire countryside, we drove off, hearts high, pockets full of change to spend on native American trinkets and mementoes.


The place is fairly scenic. There's a pond with a canoe (full of water, so not useable). There are many stinky farm buildings, some containing prairie dogs and chipmunks.



Fucking thing wouldn't keep still.

Reminds me of our last trip over to the USA. We hadn't been there 24 hours when Mr WithaY had a chipmunk sitting on his head. He's like St Francis of Assissi. But with more weapons.


We had a stroll through the dingley dell-esque grounds, till we came to a huge fence and a field full of camper vans, so turned round and came back to the main arena.

Ah, the main arena.

Picture a large crowd of people, many in mobility scooters, the majority well into the Third Age. They are mostly from the West Of England, it seems. Many are wearing a mixture of buckskin frocks, feathers in their hats, immense amounts of turquoise jewellery, and a variety of antler-related adornments.

One chap was dressed (I think) as a Pictish warrior. A great look, right down to his huge army boots. If you look carefully, you will see him at the back of this circle, scowling and tapping his foot in time to the music.


There were many tents and tipis, and lots of people clearly having the best weekend of the entire summer.


We wandered around, looking at the stuff for sale. It reminded me of a very dispirited car boot sale, possibly in Eastern Europe.

Still, it was an experience, and as Mr WithaY wisely remarked, it got us out of the house for a couple of hours.

Friday, 11 July 2008

Something for the weekend

Aaah, Friday. Praise be. There were times this week when I thought I'd never see the end of it, but here we are.

Today has actually been rather good. Drove to work in horrific monsoon-stylee* weather for our big team planning session. One of the team, in a fit of enthusiasm had said he'd bring in cakes**.

He brought cakes, in a variety of flavours, doughnuts, cookies, and a large bunch of bananas.

Also sausage rolls and chicken pies.

Not quite sure why he thought we needed so much delicious baked food at 9.30 in the morning, but I didn't hear anyone complaining about it.

We ate our way through the mountain of comestibles and did our planning, and it was actually rather good. I suggested to the team that we stop at lunchtime to go to the pub. They liked this idea, which evolved into a "why don't we just work through till we finish this, then go to the pub and have an early finish?" Which we did.

I think that we have all put in enough additional hours over the last few weeks to merit an early end to the week on a pissy wet Friday afternoon.

If anyone wants to complain about it, by all means*** email me.

Drove home in yet more pissing rain, skilfully avoiding the massive tailback on the A303 at Stonehenge. Managed to get stuck behind a car of terrified Japanese tourists as I traversed Salisbury Plain. I knew it was a car full of tourists because it was brand new and driving painfully slowly along the white line in the middle of the road.

I think when foreign tourists see a 40 sign, they think it means kilometers per hour, not miles per hour. Anyway, this lot were doing about 25 mph and creating a huge grumpy tailback behind them.

I overtook at a safe bit of road, causing them to panic unnecessarily and swerve into (and then back out of) a tank crossing (not my fault, they were just crap at driving). When I looked in my rear view mirror I saw that the car was full of Japanese people, all scared witless. The driver looked like someone trying to pilot a light aircraft to a jungle airstrip in a hurricane, all white knuckles and huge eyes.

I expect they were heading to Bath, 30 miles away. Good luck with that, then. They're probably still negotiating the one-way system as I type this, six hours later.

My lovely guitar teacher turned up at 6 and we had a great lesson. My rendition of the Police's "Can't Stand Losing You" is almost passable now. Yay me.

Just as he was leaving, Bro-in-Law WithaY arrived, and we amused ourselves for the next hour or so by eating cupcakes and putting the world to rights. Mr WithaY then arrived home, having driven all the way back from Richmond in Yorksire in the rain. Poor bugger.

Plans for the weekend include visiting father-in-law WithaY in hospital tomorrow and then possibly going to the pictures to see Hancock, if we can be arsed. And sleeping. And maybe making some more cupcakes.

I will probably also spend at least some of the weekend staring out at the rain, grumbling.

I am in the mood to buy some stuff from Amazon. I have no money, but that seldom stops me. I fancy a few new cds and at least one book.

Heard Steve Wright in the afternoon talking about a book which supposedly allows you to analyse a person's personality by their stuff.

Hmm, let me think about this theory.

If you came to my house and it was full of, say, railway memorabilia, you would draw some conclusions. Perhaps that I was interested in railways? Had always dreamed of being a train driver? Lived on my own and quite possibly had a railwayman's uniform up in my bedroom?

Likewise, if I came to your house and it was full of soft toys and pictures of unicorns, I would draw conclusions about you. Perhaps that you didn't get out much? Read too many sci-fantasy novels? Had issues around forming adult relationships?

I should write a book.

*The climate, not the chain wasn't weather dressed in over-priced floppy dresses and teeny colourful cardigans.

**To help us think.

***And I will ignore you, you whinging bastards.

Thursday, 10 July 2008


Finally. The sun is shining. Anyone would think it was the middle of summer.....oh, wait.

I took the morning off today, because when the alarm went off at ten to seven I was so tired I couldn't even see straight. I am owed about 5 days worth of hours, so taking 4 off is no big deal, I think. Went back to sleep after I rang the team to tell them not to expect me till lunchtime, and didn't wake up again till 11am.

We have a big planning session tomorrow, which I think will take most of the day. One of the team is bringing in cakes. How marvellous.

Found out today that one of my guys is going to be leaving. He's been offered a job which will save him about 3 hours of commuting a day, so he's taking it. Can't say I blame him, either. So, I need to fling myself gaily into the departmental recruiting maelstrom once more. Joy.

Right. Bedtime.

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Rain II

It's still raining.

Been a hectic week again and it's only Wednesday. Monday was ridiculous. I left home at 0500, drove to work, met a colleague at 0600, drove to Southampton Airport, caught a flight to Belfast, had lunch, had a meeting, raced back to the airport and caught the 6pm flight home, arriving back chez WithaY at about 9.30pm.


On the plus side, I met an old friend at Southampton Airport who was on the same flights out and back as we were, so that was fun. He was off to meet with BBC Northern Ireland to try and get them to take up a huuuuuge contract with his firm. Hope they did.

Was hoping to see Manuel on my travels, but no such luck.

Apparently we missed Martin McGuinness at Belfast Airport by about 5 minutes, though.

First time I flew to Edinburgh, the very first person I saw as I walked into the Arrivals Hall was Ewan McGregor. I thought he'd been sent there specially to greet me.

Right. Off to work. God I'm tired. Already.

Must be getting old.

Sunday, 6 July 2008


The rain today has been torrential and scary. In about 30 minutes at lunchtime we saw the garden develop several new water features. At one point I thought the shed might be flooded.


Check out all the apples on the tree. With any luck we'll be able to harvest a fair few later in the year.

In case you are wondering, the cage in the corner is not for Mr WithaY. Our dog used to stay there when we were out. He hated it.


Other news: My jam making went well. ALthough I think I may have made a couple of pounds of strawberry toffee as well as jam. Tastes nice though.

Saturday, 5 July 2008

A night at the Races

So, guess what I have been doing? Apart from watching Mr WithaY glaring at the mole tussocks, I mean.

Here's a clue: I lost some money and got very cold.


Yes! We had a night at the races! It was an interesting experience. Salisbury racecourse, an evening meeting. We took a minibus from the pub, arrived at the course and cracked open the Champagne. Mr WithaY managed to hit someone's car with a Champagne cork just as they were getting out of it, which was impressive. Luckily they either didn't notice or decided not to come over and tell us all off.

Salisbury racecourse must be unique, in that you can't actually see any of the race apart from about the last 15 seconds.

They have rectified this by putting up a huge screen so you can watch it on TV. While you stand in the rain.


And that bit of the track is obscured by the many hundreds of bookies, who take your money and then laugh as your horse (whichever one you pick, even if six of you all pick different ones, which is odd) comes in last.


We bet at the Tote. We lost. We bet on course. We lost.

We tried pretending we knew about the form, the history of each horse, where it had travelled from, the state of the track, the Jockeys' personal preferences, anything. We still lost. Here is a picture of us all pretending we know anything about racing.


Here is a picture, an exciting action shot, of the race. My horse is far away, off the right hand edge of the photo, sauntering down the final furlong, probably texting his mates and checking his iPod. Bastard.


I bet on one horse, the bloody thing actually fell over in the paddock before it even got to the start of the race. To be fair, it eventually came in second and I won £7.50 but as I had put down a tenner I was still out of pocket. How does that work? Even one of our smart maths teacher mates had to have Odds explained to her by the bookie.


It rained a bit. But there was a Queen tribute band. It was truly bizarre.


Other news: Been to see Mr WithaY's dad in hospital, and he is a bit more comfortable, so that's encouraging.

Went on to Salisbury. Did did some shopping and bought a few DVDs*, had a very, very late lunch in Wagamama's, somewhere I have not been before, and ate soup with noodles in and chicken dumplings.

Ooh yes. I bought a huge stack of bargain strawberries in Salisbury market, just as it was closing and am going to make jam tomorrow. Never made stawberry jam before. I might have to join the WI if it turns out ok.

*Tonight we have mostly been watching Blades of Glory, which was entertaining.

Friday, 4 July 2008


We have been invaded! By moles! Seriously.

The front garden now has a tussocky, lumpy, generally dug-up look to bits of it that has nothing to do with me or Mr WithaY. As I was waving a fond farewell to my gorgeous guitar teacher last night, Mr WithaY looked out of the front door and exclaimed "What the bloody hell is all that?"

As if I knew. That was the area of lawn under my Vibernum bush. Tree. Shrub. Whatever.

The grass no longer looked like a 500 year old croquet lawn*, but like the aftermath of a vigorous game of rugby, followed by a polo match, followed by a tug-of-war contest.

Mr WithaY took the appropriate action, as he is a man of rare skill and resource...running over the lawn, stamping all the tussocks flat with his be-slippered feet, cursing and swearing at the moles. He managed to get completely covered in bright green tree slime (from the Vibernum) and get his nice fleecy slippers all wet and muddy.

As of press time, the mole tussocks are all back as they were.

I will keep you informed.

*In my head, my garden looks like the one at some glorious stately home.

Thursday, 3 July 2008


Well, another week is winging by. Although it was enlivened by me throwing up for 2 days earlier on. I am assuming it's stress related as Mr WithaY is fine and I have no other unpleasant manifestations of food poisoning/stomach bug*.

Also did my party trick of waking up screaming in the wee small hours. How Mr WithaY loves that. Nothing like having a large bird jumping out of bed in a not-quite-awake panic in the middle of the night to help you relax.

I went into the office yesterday still feeling as though I had butterflies the whole time, which was freaky. Still, managed a decent night's sleep last night and feel more like my old self** today.

I realised that in the last month I have put in about 6 days extra worth of hours, so I need to keep track of that properly. I am not able to claim for overtime but if I have some decent records of times and so on I can at least negotiate for some time off instead. And I'm away to Belfast (just for the day) next week so that will be another stupidly long day.

Ah, my jetset lifestyle.

Other news: Am practicing The Police's "Can't Stand Losing You" on my geeeeeetar. Not only is it a great song to sing but it's almost all barre chords so fab practice for a lazy slacker like me. The big gig draws closer. I need to ask my lovely guitar teacher when I can come over to a band practice. Will do that tonight, as I think he's coming over.

I have decided to invest in a solar powered iPod/mobile phone charger. Anyone have any advice as to which are any good?

Come the revolution, total breakdown of society, 3 day a week power cuts etc I think it will be handy not relying on the National Grid to be able to listen to Iron Butterfly at my desk and text my mates.

*You know what I mean, don't make me spell it out.

**Tall, dark and grouchy.

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Heeeelp...I'm covered in bees!

Quote from today's BBC website about a truck overturning in Canada. Said truck was full of 12 million honey bees.

"The lorry was carrying 330 crates of honey bees when it tipped over on a ramp in St Leonard, New Brunswick" Ok, unfortunate accident, many bees escaped, so far so good.

However....the Deanna Troi* of Canada:

"Richard Duplain, vice president of the New Brunswick Beekeepers Association, told AP news agency the bees would quite likely be angered by their ordeal.

"You certainly don't want to go walking through a field of disoriented, agitated and wet honey bees," he said. "

I bet he has a degree in bees.

*Speciality...stating the bleeding obvious. Many furious Klingons on screen, all bellowing and raging and waving pointy sticks..."I'm sensing anger, Captain."