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Friday, 23 December 2011

And . . . relax. And . . . relax*

So here we find ourselves at the end of another week, and in addition the end of another working year.  I am therefore feeling a double dose of demob happiness, combined with a belly full of mince pies, I am ready for the festive season.

As always, I am very much looking forward to the time off.  Having young children also makes the commercial bit fairly fun as well, albeit that it is a very long run in to a very short day.  Having said that, the presents for the Maggots this year are pretty good, in that they are decent things they they will really want, and things from which dad will also get some pleasure, so it should be a good break and some good family fun to be had along the way.

We will also see most of our friends over the period, although it is our plan very much to have a blank day at least every other day, because this year has been a busy one, so some time to do nothing is very much in order.

All that remains is for me to wish you a very Happy Christmas, or indeed any other pagan or religious holiday that you care to observe, and a very very merry New Year.

* for real this time, and so good they named it twice.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

And . . . relax . . . . . . . . . . nearly

Well, it is Thursday 22nd December 2011 and while there are mathematically around one and a half working days still to go for me before I take a break - I have off the days between Xmas and New Year* - but in truth I am sensing from the wider world a bit of slowing down in readiness, and that does in truth resonate with the discussions going on inside my own head**.

I do have a number of things to close down, so pls don't imagine me taking it too easy.

I finished icing the cake last night, and in the spirit of making use of what is at your disposal, I had to take what was originally going to be two cakes, and make one full-size one and use the other for bit parts.  These bit parts included a mini cake that looks like a present, and also a house on the main cake, complete with chimney, Santa going down the chimney, doors, windows and a winding path.  The rest got eaten there and then by way of destroying all evidence.

I have just had my daily cup of Scobi Latte, and decided to try a slice of Christmas cake with it, so helped myself to a large slice*** of the secondary "present" cake.  I can confirm it is a damn good cake.

Hopefully will find a moment in my busy schedule tomorrow to wish you all a Happy Christmas etc. etc.

Until then.

* Hurrah
** And I can tell you it is crowded in there:
*** Large in contract to the cake itself, which is small, so really just medium-sized.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

What super-power would you have?

The rest of the family are tucked up under a blanket on the sofa watching Spiderman, and it reminded me of one of the many chats we have over beers with several of our friends, and that is "If you could have a super-power, what would you have?".  To save you thinking, I have compiled the data for your delectation.

Monday, 19 December 2011

What are you reading?

I love a good book, and read nearly every day, but have not had much in the way of new stuff passing my door of late.  LO is usually a good source of different books, but with Christmas but a few days away, most purchases of books have been put on hold lest Great Aunty Bessie should be looking to give it as a present*, and a month refit has meant that we have not been visiting our local library like we usually do.  That, and a general lack of desire to leave the house to join the madness that is the high street at this time of year.

In fact, the last book I read, which I told you about in a previous post, started off as a Library book, but ended up being something I bought on Amazon because the late fines were about to exceed the purchase price.  I now have it forever, and probably will re-read it sometime in the future.  Re-reading is therefore a current theme for me, so that at the moment I am going back through my own personal library, digging out my own personal classics.  I am currently on a Bill Bryson, and then plan to move on to a Ffyona Campbell: On Foot Through Africa which is a cracking good read**.  She is best known for cheating, but let me tell you that was a tiny error in a massive massive achievement, and if the section where her backup Landrover breaks down and she reverts to pulling all her possessions in a hand cart does not make you glad you don't have demons****, then I don't know what will.

The only other thing to report is the loneliness of a long distant teleworker.  The rest of the family are finished for Christmas now, so it is little ole me in the corner trying to concentrate on work while they are blowing the cobwebs off the home cinema system in a way that is making the walls shake.

On that note, gotta dash, conference call to attend, and likely some email to be tidying while I attend.  Have a good week, and speak again before the break, assuming you are indeed planning to have a break.

* Unlikely at the best of time, not least because the last time we checked our family tree, we did not have a Great Aunty Bessie
** Having said that, I recommended, and indeed lent, it to Brad and he didn't get on with it at all, but then he is gay and bald so that probably explains it***
*** I am gonna be paying for that real soon.
**** It does seem to be a common theme that these extreme sports type bods do have some kind of demon driving them on (father issues, in case you were interested).  Just read Ranulph Fiennes to confirm that, which are another set of books somewhere in the collection.

Friday, 16 December 2011

And . . . relax

Another Friday comes sailing joyfully in to port, with barrels of rum and some well-earnt shore-leave.

A quiet weekend, with a busy Saturday night at A&E at the annual Strictly Sausage Saturday, which for those who speak Latin is an evening, usually on a Saturday, where sausages are consumed, and Strictly Come Dancing is watched.  Frilly shirts are optional.

I have recently been paying attention to people's sign offs, the stuff they put at the end of their email, of which there are three main considerations:

  • if you are clever, or want to be seen to be clever, then you put every professional body and qualification you have gained in the footer - Scobi Wan, BSc Hons, FRICS, Jedi Master
  • If you don't want to be contacted, you put nothing
  • If you are a funny guy, you put some witty comment.  Illegitimi non carborundum or other such pithy saying.
Now, I need to confess that I did follow the third of these.  It was not meant so much to be witty but profound, and actually was something that, at the time, seemed a good thing to say, and a motto by which I was trying to live my professional life.

Imagine a chaps dismay when the abuse started rolling in, whether by phone, email, text or instant message, plus a couple of other communication channels that have not been invented yet, telling me in no uncertain terms, that my sign off was not perfect in every way.  This is like getting a little biddy fluffy kitten, only to be told by a friend that it is evil.  Now, there are cats that could fit this mould, such as:

but in general, cats are nice, friends are not.  And so, it transpired, are sign-offs.

Anyhow, before I go, I should tell you what the sign off was.  It was:

One thing at a time          Most important first              Start now

Now, honestly, is that so bad?

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Mid-week Update

It is actually Thursday today, I know that, but when you take Monday off the whole axis of your space and time continuum is disrupted; or more precisely, it only feels like Wednesday today.

A lot of people have been asking me how come I am so successful*.  The answer is simple; set the bar low.

I am also by nature optimistic.  This works for me, but can sometimes irritate the wotsit out of friends and colleagues alike.

It reminds me of one of the "classics" which I reproduce below for your delectation.


* They actually tend to ask the reverse question, as in "how come you are such a w@##ker?" but I know they are being ironic.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

What a (long) Weekend

We returned yesterday from a fantastic weekend, in a house in East Devon that can, at a push, sleep 27, but which need to house a modest 16 during our stay.
The house itself was lovely.  It was massive, with 3 separate sitting rooms, one with pool and fuseball tables, a separate dining room that easily sat us 16, a medium-sized kitchen, a medium-sized indoor swimming pool, and an upstairs so vast that we needed motorised scooters to reach the West Wing, where we sensibly housed the children.  The size of the place meant we were never on top of each other, and certainly large enough for all 8 children to go feral.  There would be a build up and whoosh like a train going past as the pack stormed from one stronghold to another, presumably in search of blood and fresh meat.
This did mean that the adults were able to spend vast amounts of time chillin', as I think it is called, and much fun was had by all.  We had packed all the usual wellies 'n' waterproofs that are pre-requisites for any country stay, but I am ashamed to say that the furthest I ventured from the house was to the garage area to take out the rubbish, and only then with a torch and a map of the locale.

The house itself was the usual large country pile.  Lots of flagstones, an Aga cooker, wide floorboards in several rooms, and sofas the size of a one-bedroomed apartment.  As is often the case with those rich folks, the attention to detail was somewhat lacking in places, and my now-trained eye would be needed a fair amount of re-plastering, sanding down and general TLC if I were to own the place.  I think they call it shabby chic, and I can attest to at least the former.  Some of the windows also looked in great need of attention, being as they were single pane and wooden, with a lot of condensation damage to the lower parts of every pane.  Luckily, it was not my place, so we were able to enjoy one hundred percent the pleasures and amenities the place gave us.
My biggest complaint, and to be fair it is one I make almost everywhere except my own, is that the beds were not good.  They had cheap mattresses that even my topper was unable to civilise, and consequently I did awaken not that refreshed and with compound issues with my back.  This was to LO's advantage in that I therefore got up with the Maggots and did the early shift.  This in turn entitled me to an afternoon siesta, of which I partook regularly each day.

It has been a bit of a shock coming back to the real world.  We are obviously delighted to be back in your own home (comfy bed, smooth walls, etc etc), but the pace of things was initially just too much for us.  We have adjusted now, and I am working from home alone.

We did manage to go buy a Christmas tree off the local Gipsies, and have also brought down our old and unused-for-many-years artificial tree, so that we are now a two tree family.

Other than that, not much to report.  We are in the tortuously slow final two weeks to Christmas, and I just need to keep everything going so that we are clear in 2011, for a simple and easy start to 2012.

Have a good week and speak soon.

Friday, 9 December 2011

And . . . relax*

Only working a half day today.  Once school is out, we will be heading out towards East Devon for our weekend away.  The roof bars and roof box are on, the car is (nearly) packed, the address is programmed in to the Sat Nav and Maggots are primed to moan all the way there.

Our best route seems to be via Salisbury, and anyone who knows Salisbury anytime near rush hour will know that the alternative route must be very bad indeed if Salisbury is the best answer.  We can only hope that an early departure will stop us getting the worst of it, but I doubt that somehow, what with the rush our starting at around Friday lunchtime (what is that all about?  How do normal folks manage to finish so early?) and all.  As LO is oft to say, we will get there when we get there, but that is always before we have set off, and is never uttered after half an hour in the first traffic jam.

The weekend should be one full of fun, food and the occasional drink.  The only fly in the Scobi camp ointment is Maggot 2 is under par, off for a second day with one of his too-regular non-specific virus type fevers.  This tends to manifest itself in a temperature, headache and general listlessness, and a prevalence of hallucinations cum nightmares-whilst-awake type events, which can be pretty distressing, not least for Nanny who kindly baby-sat him for us yesterday during the working day.

I hope you have a great weekend, and speak again Tuesday**.

* That one is for Golfy
** I did mention I had a day off Monday didn't I??

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Is it Wednesday already?

At this time of year, Maggots and other small people tend to start "counting the days", which is not so much a euphemism* but an indication that Christmas is on the horizon.  There are three Advent Calendars to open, one Where's Santa** each and one shared which (a reusable Christmas tree with drawers affair), one day on, one day off, with Maggot 2.  Except for the final 4 days when there are double sweets in the drawers, which would mean one day on, one day on I guess.

The excitement is building, if only in the older members of the household who are very much looking forward to some time off with family, friends and our own body-weight in mince pies***.  The Maggots are already off the scale, and rising each day, which is kind of fun, if a little wearing at 6am.

* and if it were a euphemism, then I am struggling to invent what that might be.
** It is as you are guessing it is; Wally in a Santa outfit.  At least this pretend Santa wears the wrong hat so you know.
*** Anyone who has been reading my blog since last Christmas will know that I do have a soft spot for mince pies, and that spot tends to get softer, and larger, the more I eat.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Just a quickie

Not much time today as I am in the office, on two screens, so broadcasting to the masses that I am writing a blog.

Looking forward to our weekend away at the big house, and last night found us starting to pack.  For the Maggots that includes working out which of their four thousand toys to take to the house (their grandmother is right, they really do have too much), and in which bag.  For the rest of us it was a matter of those peripheral items that are not essential, but do make the time away more pleasurable.

We also watched The Killing II, episode five or so I would guess, which is the second series of the original Danish drama that was replicated, to great success, but the US.  It is a sub-titled series which is actually rather pleasing, if you can give it your undivided attention.  You really get in to the plot due to being 100% focussed on reading the text, and therefore get very absorbed in the story.  The only issue is if you happen to have the odd Squirrel moment, when you suddenly realise an important snippit of plot has passed you by.  Oh, and falling asleep near the end didn't help plot understanding much either.

Monday, 5 December 2011

And . . . relax

After a weekend like we have just had, this is the mode for the day.

Well, what a fantastic time we had.  With no specific plans, Saturday was as follows:

  • 0830 - get up
  • 0835 - walk over to A&E's 'van to partake in the ritual of breakfast, which consists of:
    • cup of tea
    • chat
    • cup of tea
    • egg sandwich with lashings of Red and Black" and a ketchup with a smattering of salt
    • cup of tea
    • slice of home-made shortbread
    • chat
    • finally agree we should really do something, so go do the washing up from last night, which being a curry (home-made by A as always) was messy, but the sort of mess that, with the heads we had, could have made a pretty decent cold starter for the egg main course
  • 1145 - stroll down to the shop to get a long aerial cable
  • 1243 - start lunch - one cheese and pickle roll "to be going on with"
  • 1245 - in to local villiage, Fordingbridge, for the men, to find TV mounting screws, came back with bulbs for lava lamps and fine tales of a magnificent reclaim yard
  • 1345 - finish lunch
  • 1445 - down to pool for a swim
  • 1600 - return for tea and kip
  • 1720 - Santa's Grotto, mainly for the kids
  • 1800 - visit the Pizza in the Piazza (get it?)
  • 1930 - Bingo
  • 2100 - home for bed (youngest four) and Canasta, drinks and nibbles (eldest four)
I appreciate such detail opens a chap up to ridicule, however we started that on Friday and I doubt it can get much worse.

I also got an education this morning from Golfy:

  • I now understand the "Fenton" references on a recent comedy show
  • I love the "I want to jump off a bridge" "I found 4 bridges a little way from you" ditty
  • I had not realised quite how mighty I could be until I visited, although I do harbour a tiny suspicion that he says that to all the boys.

Friday, 2 December 2011


For those of you who have yet to experience the healing forces of my lucky heather, I do a bit of 'vannin' in my spare time.  Once all the abuse has abated, I can then inform you that I am going 'vannin' this weekend, to Sandy Balls.  Now I am the first to admit, this is a daft name for a site.  The most amazing thing is, not one person that works there has even the smallest of twinkles in their eye when they say it, like some kind of in joke that only you don't get, or more precisely an out joke that they don't get.

Anyway, this is a site with plenty of facilities, the like of which would normally have us running for the nearest road-side verge, however in Winter this place is cheap, pretty empty but still providing an excellent play park, a swimming pool, a pizza parlour and a take-away hatch for fi & chi, burgers etc.  We would normally obviously not like the burger van competition, but in this instance we are prepared to let it lie, although they can expect us to case a hex on them as we reach for the vinegar.

Even the weather has decided to be kind.  The long range five-day forecast said rain, right up until yesterday, when it dropped from two to one drop of rain.  Today, it is predicting white cloud and a bit of sunshine perhaps. Result.

I hope your weekend is as fun as ours will be.