Friday, 29 October 2004

No talk, just pictures

No blog, just thought I'd share some silly pictures of The Lurchers.

Lurcher No 1

Lurcher No 2

Lurchers 1 and 2......playing!

Thursday, 28 October 2004

Nervous? Me?

I am gearing myself up for Saturday night.

On Saturday night, a group of us are spending the night in one of the most haunted houses in Britain, Hermeston Hall. We are doing this for charity, to raise funds for Greyhound Gap and are all trying to raise as much sponsorship as we can.

We must be completely bonkers. Saturday night is the 30th/31st October, perhaps better known as Halloween, you know, the night that disembodied spirits of all those who died throughout the preceding year come back in search of living bodies to possess for the next year. The founder of Greyhound Gap, and organiser of this little outing, has shown a rather perverse sense of humour over the choice of date, I feel. I've been quite looking forward to it up to now but today, for some reason, I am starting to get a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. They are apparently quite friendly ghosts, apart from one, The Bishop, who is, by all accounts, a bit of a nasty piece of work.

We have a full parapsychic (or whatever they are called) coming with us to make sure we get the most of the night...thanks guys! If you've ever seen Most Haunted, you'll have some idea of the sort of night we have in store.

I may be grey when I get back on Sunday!

Wednesday, 27 October 2004

TOGs unite

Yesterday's little incident with the sunglasses could, I feel, be put down to a momentary blip in concentration and that JGs welcome to TOGdom may be a little premature. However, events of today are making me realise that I appear to already be a fully paid up member of the club.

Just to give you a bit of background, occasionally at work we have film crews parking in our car parks and to make life easier, we bollard off part of the car park the night before.

I woke up around 7am this morning and snuggled down under the duvet, smug in the knowledge that I'd got everything I needed to take to work organised the night before and could have a bit of a lie-in.

So as I snuggled down, my mind wandered to what I needed to do at work today. OMG!!! There's a film crew coming in and I haven't arranged for the bollards to be put out. Jumped out of bed, put clothes on over jim-jams, ran out to the car and shot off to work to put them out. Drove round to the yard to let them know what I'd done, then drove home again to get ready for work. Phew, sorted!

As I rushed round (I was now late) OH muttered something about the day. I stopped in my tracks. What day is it today? I asked. Wednesday. Oh bugger. The film crew are coming in Thursday.

There's no hope for me is there?

Tuesday, 26 October 2004


OH doesn't believe in hairdressers so some years ago he invested in a Wahl hairtrimmer so he can do his own hair. Now, he doesn't go mad and only cuts it on a 4, which is really no shorter than any decent hair dresser can cut hair with a scissors.

He does have a problem doing the back though and occasionally ends up leaving a little mohican - fetching, if you like that sort of thing but not perhaps to his taste. At this point I usually get summoned to the bathroom to do that bit. I also tidy up the ends a bit which means being very careful with the Wahl set on 0...the skinhead setting.

The summons came this evening and in I trotted to to do the honours. Picked up the Wahl and proceeded to zip up the side of his head, behind the ear to get rid of the mohican. Within 1 second OH screamed and ducked away from me. What?? There's no blood? What's the matter?

The matter, dear readers, is that the Wahl was on skinhead setting. He only meant for me to tidy up the edges. Oh. Dear. I did do my best to tidy it up but it is looking just a tad lob-sided. Just as well he has a sense of humour....and can't really see the damage! I can, and cringe every time I see it! Ooops!

The sun shined this morning. A lovely Autumn day. I searched through my bag, affectionally known as The Pit, to find my sunglasses. No sign of them. What I did find however, was 1/2lb of melting butter. That, of course, gave me a very big clue as to where my sunglasses were. Where the butter was supposed to be. In the fridge. Put a whole new meaning on the word "cool".

Monday, 25 October 2004

Fungi to be with

Today one of our Keepers caught a chap with 4 carrier bags full of mushrooms picked on the Common. Apart from the fact that it is seriously breaking our Byelaws, it breaks the laws of common countryside sense. Pick all the mushrooms, no mushrooms to spore, no mushrooms next year. Over-picking of wild mushrooms is becoming a big problem and there is now a Code of Practice on the subject to help preserve them in their natural habitat. Pick what you can eat is the advice, and if you're not sure, leave them be. I think 4 carrier bags full takes that a little far. What would have happened of course, is that they would have been sold at great profit to local restaurants. We realise that we're not going to stop people picking mushrooms but moderation is everything.

We confiscated 3 of the bags and they would usually get shared out among the staff. Which seems a little hypocrital but if we don't confiscate them, what does that tell people? Oh, you'll get a smack on the wrist but hey, you'll still get the mushrooms. Our office mushroom expert is currently on holiday and the rest of us don't have much of a clue, and wild mushrooms are not something you take a chance with. So I called in OH. Whilst he would not profess to be an expert, he knows enough of the commoner mushrooms to know what's what. Even he couldn't identify them, not even with his books, and so there is every possibility that these bags of mushrooms aren't even edible. Now they are completely wasted and the best we can do is spread them back in the area they were picked and hope that some will be able to spore.

Rant over....

Sunday, 24 October 2004

A good day

A very satisfying day today. Had a lovely walk with The Lurchers this morning which they thoroughly enjoyed and from which they are still pooped - which is good news as Lurcher No.1 has been a little out of sorts for the last few days.

I have baked a loaf of bread, made a batch of scones, an apple pie, a batch of pasties and have a stew simmering in the slowcooker. I've hand-washed one of The Lurcher's duvets (£6 duvet from Asda is a lot cheaper than a "proper" dog bed!), tidied up a bit, moved along apace in PD4 and sorted out some of the accounts for Greyhound Gap. Plus all the trough boxes for OH, me and The Lurchers are done and ready to walk out of the door with in the morning. Hah! Stepford Wives move over, Angela coming through!

I also had my shopping delivered by Tesco this morning. I positively hate shopping and getting someone to trudge round the superstore with a wonky trolley amidst the Sunday morning hordes, queue at the checkout, bag up the groceries, load them up and deliver them to my door is well worth £5 of my money. They are usually pretty good at delivering what I ask for, unless I forget to check the "no substitutes" box, then unloading the shopping can be a bit of a magical mystery tour through the carrier bags.

As I was unpacking the bags this morning, I was a little miffed to find a huge 2KG bag of Tilda basmati rice and a tube of Heinz tomato puree. Now, I am very much a Tesco own label kind of person and the hairs stood up at the back of my neck at the thought of how much those two items were going to cost me, especially as they weren't even substitutes as I hadn't ordered any rice or tomato puree. On top of that, my Canteloupe melon was missing! On checking the delivery note, it seems I have been charged for said missing Canteloupe melon, but I haven't been charged for the rice and the puree. Given that I appear to be quids in, I stifled my initial desire to reach for the phone and complain and thought that as I was having such a satisfying day, I would, out of the goodness of my heart, forgive them on this occasion. Ahem.

I just feel sorry for the person who unloaded their bags and found themselves with a Canteloupe melon they hadn't bought and missing a bag of Basmati rice and Heinz tomato puree that they had. Oh well....I shall let them complain!

But that leads me to another gripe about Tesco home delivery. Now I like carrier bags, it saves me having to buy bags to fit the rubbish bin, and I'm very keen on recycling, but Tesco took this to the extreme this morning. Amidst the loaded carrier bags were 8 bags that only had one item each in them. They weren't big items, one was a tube of toothpaste, another a lump of cheddar, and other such small items. It makes you wonder what's going through the minds of the Tesco staff as they pack up the shopping doesn't it??

I have also managed to fix the digibox. For a few weeks now we have have been having reception problems, to the point where the freeview channels have been unwatchable, and the terrestrial not much better. During the last few days I have re-booted it (very nearly hard out of the window) and re-scanned it and today I was about to launch a major re-installation. In the meantime, our landlord had checked with the neighbours that they hadn't done anything to our shared aerial and OH was up on the roof checking that the aerial connection wasn't sitting in a puddle of water. So back to the major re-installation, as I moved the box to unplug the aerial, I noticed that one of the Scart leads wasn't in it's hole properly. Funny, but since I put the lead back in, it's all worked fine and dandy. *embarrassed titter*

Saturday, 23 October 2004

Jammy dodgers

I have spent most of today in a traffic jam. Or as it's more commonly known, the M25.

I do some voluntary work with a Greyhound and Lurcher rescue, Greyhound Gap, and today I was asked by them to help out another rescue, delivering a puppy to her new forever home. Having set out at 11.15am this morning, I finally arrived at the meeting place, South Mimms services, to meet with the fosterer, having spent half the journey in solid traffic between the A3 and the M4.

I very nearly came straight home again with the puppy, a beautiful little 12 week old Collie cross. I adore puppies and would have my home full of them if I could!

So onto the next stage of the journey round to Southend of Sea. Out of the services onto the M25 and straight into another traffic jam. This one 8 miles long according to the traffic reports. *sigh*.

Puppy safely delivered 2 hours later and start out on the journey home. Why is it, when there are two possible routes you can take, you always pick the wrong one? One seemed longer and more out of the way and the other a much more direct route. So I took the direct route. What the map didn't tell me that this was through 4 consecutive high streets and a set of roadworks. On a wet Saturday afternoon, it was no fun. The indirect route would have been so much quicker.

Back to the M25 again and surprisingly no traffic jams, not even at the QE2 Bridge. But lots of heavy rain making visibility absolutely minimal.

So 6 hours, 200 miles and an almost complete circuit of the M25 ( I got on at J10 and got off again at J9), I'm home and ready to curl up in a ball under the duvet.

Still, a beautiful puppy delivered safely to her new forever home. Somehow it does all seem worth it.

Mouse update. 3 traps set last night, baited with Maryland Chocolate cookies. This evening, 3 traps still set with Maryland Chocolate cookies missing. Yay!! Go meeces!! One apparently quite calmly sauntered out of my clothes cupboard in front of OH this afternoon....more biscuits please!

Friday, 22 October 2004

Gnawing pains

'Twas the night before errrr....Friday,

when all through the house

Not a creature was stirring,

not even a mouse;

Hah! Not in this house! I was sitting here quietly last night, OH had gone to bed early and The Lurchers were settled and sleeping. I was working at the computer which is in the hall, when I heard scratching noises coming from the sitting room to my right. Thinking Chaz the Hamster was awake I went in to say hello and give her some fruit. Oh, not Chaz, she was still sleeping, being more of a 4 in the morning kind of girl. Back at my desk the noises started again and I just couldn't locate them.

Having spent 10 minutes crawling around the floor and shining the torch under the dresser, from where the noises appeared to be coming, it dawned on me. Our usual autumnal visitors were back. Yep, mice! Our ground floor flat is quite old and there are plenty of nooks and crannies for them to get in. Did you know that mice can dislocate their shoulders to get through the tiniest of gaps?

I would be quite happy to have them around, they're pretty harmless after all, except for the fact that they will chew things. Over the years I have lost several items of clothing from the bottom of my clothes cupboard to mice searching for nesting material. And I once lifted a brand new bag of hamster food out of the cupboard to have it trail out of the bag behind me through the very neatly nibbled hole. Food on tap, no wonder they come back very year!

Last year was quite amusing though. The telephone in the sitting room has a long lead so we can move about with the phone...yes I know we should get a cordless but hey, a long lead does the trick....and when we got home from a weekend away, the phone was on the floor and the lead seemed to be disappearing under the sofa. Moving the sofa out of the way, we discovered that the mice had pulled it down through a hole in the floorboards. Unchewed, I could only assume they wished to tap into our phone line to call the relatives. I did wonder when we'd find a note asking for a broadband connection please. They are quite cheeky mice year I was in the sitting room of an evening when a movement caught my eye, Mr Mouse was quite happily trotting up the hall with a dog biscuit in his mouth which he had purloined from the dog bowl!

However, the problem now arises as to how to deal with them. OH is in favour of the old-fashioned mouse trap, baited with chocolate, which apparently they prefer to cheese... we have discerning mice in this house you understand. Either that or Mrs Mouse suffers from the same cravings that us human females do. I'm not comfortable with these traps and would rather use humane ones but the year we did, we were more overrun with the little beggars than ever. It didn't seem to matter how far from the flat we released them, they all came back, or maybe word got round that this was a safe house. Poison was suggested this year, but I've vetoed that one completely. If they have to die then it will at least be quick and painless.

Any other tips for humane removal of meeces would be most welcome.

Thursday, 21 October 2004

Soul Food

The best thing about Autumn and heading into Winter is that we can now get back to proper food. No more picky, unsatisfying salads, or getting the barbeque to light without smoking out the neighbours. No moving the contents of the kitchen to the garden or being attacked by marauding swarms of wasps and, in turn, becoming dinner for the local midge and mosquito population.

It's time for lamb, slowly roasted with rosemary; beef casserole and hearty homemade soups. Roast potatoes and roast parsnips, with the thin end burnt and crispy; mashed swede and mashed potatoes, melting with butter. Peas, swimming in rich gravy. Oh, and sprouts! I love sprouts! Apple pie and thick, creamy custard - bagsy I get the skin! It's time to dust off the slowcooker and arrive home to the smell of simmering stew and freshly baked bread.

Ahhhh......I do so love Autumn!

Wednesday, 20 October 2004

A lucky escape!

Two blogs in one day.....gosh.

We've just had a narrow escape. Last night Lurcher No.1 decided she wasn't that keen on her dinner after all (a lovely fresh mackerel too!) and at 1.30am decided she'd bring it back up again. All over the bottom of the bed. So we stripped the bed down, re-made it and resumed slumber, and plonked everything in the washing machine this morning.

Fast forward to this evening. Where's the remote control for the digibox OH asks. Search me. Pulled the bed apart and around, moved the furniture, searched through a pile of discarded clothes. Not a sign. Oh, laughs I, I hope it's not in the washing machine. Panic stricken look on OH's face. Uh oh! A mad dash to the laundry room reveals one digibox remote wrapped in the bed throw and about 10 minutes from a 40 degree cycle and a fast spin. EEK!

We're not really slaves to our TV....honest.

I have recovered

No blog yesterday. The day was way too emotional for me to be the slightest bit coherent.

It all started when Big Boss asked for a "quiet word". Always worrying when Big Boss asks for one of those. I suppose I could have said "silence", it is a quiet word after all, but somehow I felt that flippancy was not going to be the order of the day.

It all started because I am in the enviable position, at least, I feel it's an enviable position, of being able to take Lurcher No.2 to work with me. He's been coming with me since he was 12 weeks old and now that he's the grand age of 14 months, he's settled into the routine and pootles about nicely in the yard with the other dogs, outside the office or curled up under my desk. He occasionally likes to go see people and say hello. He is a very sociable dog after all. he's very calm and well-behaved and always does as he's told.

However, last Friday, I forgot to pick up his dog bed to bring home to wash and when one of my colleagues went into the office on Saturday morning, there was a distinct air of "dogginess" about the place. This was fine until some terribly helpful member of the public decided to drag dog poo into the office and onto the mats. Said colleague threw a hissy fit at that point and the Big Boss happened to walk in. So the "quiet word" was to announce that Lurcher No.2 could no longer come into the office. Well! I was completely gobsmacked, and absolutely furious. If said colleague had a problem why on earth didn't he talk to me?

I was hurt and very upset. I had to listen to Lurcher No.2 in the yard, crying and whining because he couldn't understand why he couldn't come in the office. It would take months of re-training and over cold and wet winter months he'd have to be out in the elements. After listening to said crying and whining for several hours, Not Quite So Big Boss had enough and told Big Boss what for. The upshot of which was that Lurcher No. 2 is now allowed back in the office, as long as he doesn't wander around and I remember to take his bed home and wash it a bit more often! Phew! Such a roller-coaster of emotions!

This might all sound like a complete over-reaction on my part but my dogs are my children to me (not having any human ones) and one of the reasons we decided to home Lurcher No.2 was the fact that I could take him to work, and he was welcomed by previous Big Boss. (Lurcher No.1 goes to work with my partner.) We could have managed but both dogs would have had to stay at home all day and that is not the life we want for them. Perhaps I'm also being selfish, after all, he could still have come with me and we could have made other arrangements. I think maybe I was also feeling a little guilty because it was partly my fault for the situation arising in the first place.

A lesson learned for me though - not everyone looks upon their dogs as I do - and I guess it's important to remember that.

Tuesday, 19 October 2004

Shouldn't bigger be smaller??

Well, a hugely exciting start to the week when my new printer arrived at work this morning, Ooooeeee!! It's only black and white but it prints at 28ppm....that got your attention didn't it! There is a downside to this of course: if I start printing something and realise I didn't actually want to print 10 copies of a 10 page document but only 10 copies of just one page, as happened to me this afternoon, by the time I got up the printer box and cancelled the print, it had already printed 64 pages! My reflexes are going to have to speed up a bit!

But what I want to know is this.....why is it that when technology seems to be making everything so much smaller, my new printer is absolutely enormous!! It's twice the size of my previous, and now defunct, printer. OK, it's a laser printer so I know it's going to be bigger than your average home inkjet but all the same, I remember having a laser printer 6 years ago that was half the size of this one. That's something to ponder on isn't it!? I shall leave you with that one...mainly because there is nothing more interesting for me to write today!

Monday, 18 October 2004

Oh my....'s been a while hasn't it!? Two months since my last blog and still nothing terribly exciting to write about *sigh*. I think I should get a life.

Today has mostly been spent pondering. Pondering how to spend my 40th birthday in January. We've been pondering this for some time and several ideas have been decided upon and then discarded when we've thought about it a bit more sensibly. For instance, my first thought was to go as far north as we could go, without leaving the UK, to see the Northern Lights. That idea hung around for a while, until one day I considered that the Shetland Isles in January might not be entirely feasible, what with snow and all that. Then we thought about a lovely, and expensive, hotel in North Wales that allows dogs. But what can you do in a hotel with The Lurchers? Daren't leave them in the room alone whilst we go for dinner for fear of them trashing it, so we'd have to stay in the room with them, eating room service in bed. Heck, we can do that at home without having to spend £150 a night!

Next plan was a cottage in the country, large enough so that the close band of friends I want to spend such a momentous occassion with could join us. That would be 12 people in total. Have you any idea of the price of a cottage with 6 bedrooms!? At least £1,000! Bang! There goes another plan then!

So current thinking is a few fun hours in a Pottery Cafe, followed by dinner in a local restaurant. Wild huh!? I may be starting to get a life after all!

Good night!