Friday, 18 April 2014

The chocolate game

It is very nice to be off work for four days.  I have big plans for lazing around and eating lots of hot cross buns.


Grandpa was off ski-ing for his 7*th birthday (how many people are still ski-ing in their late 70s?) so we celebrated late this year and combined it with Jérôme's birthday...

This was Eliza's present to Grandpa...

 Jérôme and cake...

We played the chocolate game.  Gran wraps a big bar of Dairy milk in paper and ties it with string.  Everyone sits in a circle and takes it turn to throw the dice; if you get a 6 you can put on a hat, thick gloves and scarf and have a turn unwrapping the chocolate and eating it with a knife and fork...

Tom is down to the chocolate!

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Not dead just busy

Can't wait for the 4 day weekend!

In the meantime, this has to be the best news article ever, in the history of.

I checked the date and it wasn't from April 1st.


'North Korean officials visit salon over Kim Jong-un 'bad hair' advert'...

Salon Manager Mo Nabbach said, "Listen, this isn't North Korea, this is England, we live in a democracy so I'm afraid you're going to have to get out of my salon".  

Poster of Kim Jong-un in the salon

Sunday, 23 March 2014


Every year, I get six free train tickets with my season ticket.  Six free trips to London!

I went to see this exhibition -

I've been looking forward to this one so much.  Given the areas my ancestors lived in it's highly likely that a lot of them were Vikings.

They journeyed boldly,
Went far for gold,
Fed the eagle
Out in the east,
And died in the south
In Saracenland.
(Gripsholm runestone 1000-1100 CE)

Some things I learned about my ancestors:

  • They liked flashy brand-names.  Ulfberht sword blades have been found all over north-east Europe, with the brand name etched conspicuously down the side.  Fake Ulfberhts of inferior quality also turn up from time to time.
  • Vikings were very into inclusion when it came to disability; I guess they had to be given their lifestyle and standards of medicine.  I'd gathered this from the Havamal ("The halt can ride, the handless can herd, the deaf man can fight with spirit") but the exhibition showed the lengths they went to.  Out off the skeletons of 54 Viking warriors discovered at Weymouth, two had long-standing leg problems so serious that they would have had difficulty walking.  It hadn't stopped them from joining a war party to invade England though.  The Vikings - Positive about Disability!
  • They camped out locally.  The nearest big town to me was one of their strongholds, from which they harassed the local Saxons.  One of the swords in the exhibition was found just down the road.
  • Some of their boats were huge.  The Roskilde 6 is on display and it's 32m long; I can see now how they managed to reach North America.
After the Vikings I had a quick nose round the Colombian gold exhibition and then went to Whitechapel to see the Hannah Hoch exhibition.  I'd only seen her Wiemar work before but the collages she did as a little old lady were even better - exquisite, meticulous little abstracts.  So glad I had the chance to see them...

Sunday, 16 March 2014


There's sunshine outside my windows, and daffodils, and I've finished my spring cleaning.

Spring cleaning always takes me around 12 full days from the start of January.  On top of a five-day work week, it's a lot, and I'm always very glad when it's done.  Every year I ask myself if I really need to do this, and every year I realise that yes, I really do.  We always have bagfuls of outgrown clothes and books to go to Oxfam / small cousins and neighbours, and it's so good to get my paperwork into order.

By the new year, our house is full of artwork.  If only we had more space I'd keep more of it on display, but springcleaning time is when I sadly realise that some of it will have to go, so I photograph it and put the originals in the loft.

This little guy had pride of place in the sitting room for a year.  He was made for a school project.  You open him up to see his innards.  He was great but he was also 35cm high and fading badly, so I kept his face and the panel showing his digestive system and of course photographs to remember him by.  

The rainbow unicorn with the hinged body was another school project and has been in my bedroom for a year.

Now, to give you some idea of how reluctant my family is to throw out anything that might possibly be useful, I am still using my grandmother's cooking things and my great-grandfather's garden rake.  When my mother decided that she needed to prune her spare paper store, she asked me to come and help myself, and just take a look at what we found...

We think that these date from the 1950's but that's nothing.  Look at these...

The cash book must be pre-war.  Look at those gorgeous marbled pages... 

Best of all is the larger book, because it was used to keep the records of my Great-great Grandmother's Christian Endeavours Society (Jonathan Section) in 1907!

Our family keeps diaries.  Pretty on-and-off and as we have time, but it's fun to think that in 100 years the great grandkids will be able to look back on what little old Grandpa David was up to in the early 21st Century.  I have no idea why blogger insists that this must be a portrait image...

Sunday, 2 March 2014


For David's last birthday, he asked us to club together with Andy's parents and buy him an i-pad mini.  I was a bit puzzled as to the point of this, but it was what he wanted... well, it's quite a success.  He can lie on the sofa, surfing the web, and call me over when he finds something that he thinks I'd like.  Most of these are fairly rude jokes, but here's one that's clean.  I love this.

David's quite a sharp dressed young man himself, and longs for a suit.

I think the music in this ad is great, and googled it.  I thought the band was American - as soon as I saw the video though, I rumbled them right away as nice English boys (how can you tell?  Something from the body language?).  And they are, from Bath of all places!  This is such a good song...  The Heavy, "What Makes a Good Man"

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

The Sun at Waterbeach

I never said that Nigel had another album out did I?  Oh, and I completely missed their Christmas Special as well.  I'd never make it as a band manager.

Anyway, Steve arranged for Nigel and Hattie to play in Waterbeach and Carmen put us all up.  (I can't even claim any credit for making the arrangements, beyond possibly passing Steve their phone number at some point, though now I come to think of it I think Steve googled them).  Anyway, Steve's a lot better at this than I am.  The Sun's a fantastic venue, above a pub and a few pounds in the biscuit tin as admission.  Also I got to say, "Oh, I'm with the band".

This is my absolute all-time favourite.  I know his blood will set me free

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Valentine's Day storm

We had a storm on Friday which killed two people, one of them on the road where I used to work.  She was a cabbie and Mum of 3 kids and the poor woman's car was demolished by falling masonry.

When I came out of work it was blowing so hard it was actually hard to walk at times... got home and ordered in Valentine's Day takeaways (pizza for Lizzie and curry for the rest of us), gave Andy and the kids some little treats, and sat watching my present from Andy ('The Thick Of It' DVD set) with Andy and David while the we listened to our roof tiles come clattering down.

Lizzie took her pizza and Valentine's chocolate upstairs to get away from her brother and sent me a digital 'Fanks Mum ly'...

The next morning we did a quick check - we've had roof tiles, roof felt and trellising blown away, and it's been raining so hard that dirt's washed down the chimney onto the fireplace, but otherwise we got away with it.  Given what everyone's dealing with in Staines and Devon we really can't complain!