Thursday, 30 September 2010

Forever Child

You must have the patience of a Saint.
She's a delight, a forever child.
Filled with the joys and fears and innocence of those first few years.
Held there forever by some unfortunate chance.
A chemical permutation or a mismatch.
You must have the patience of a Saint.
I watch her and see her joy and love.
I see her absolute childlike glee.
I enjoy her enjoying life but hear the forced patience in her Mother's voice.
She is a delight but she is a child too long.
Her future, trapped in a childlike mind.
Full of love but those that love her back are likely to go before her.
What will happen to you Forever Child?

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Autumn is here.

Amongst the mayhem and lunacy that is my day job I found an hour or so to take Tyson and Marauder out for an early evening walk.

The hedgerows have been weighed down with their burden of Autumn fruits for some weeks now and fungi are popping up everywhere. It is like the Property Developers amongst the Little People haven't been hit by the Global Economic Crisis at all. Obviously a good sized Toadstool is still a desirable location and there are plenty of Pixies and Gnomes that have the cash to spend on them. The Elvish Bankers  were obviously making some shrewd investments and stayed away from the sub-prime market that was lending to Goblins who hadn't got a cat's chance in hell of keeping up the payments.

The 'shrooms are popping up all over and the market is buoyant.

Where was I going? Oh yes - the fruits of Autumn have been on display for weeks but the weather, even when wet and overcast still hadn't lost all the traces of Summer but now as I walk the evenings are starting to draw in and a fleece and a hat are required to keep out the chill. Autumn is definitely here.

I like Autumn. I like the contrast of the sun shining after rain on a cold day. I like the fogs and mists that bring the limits of vision down to a few yards and give a special feeling if isolation. I like the late Autumn frosts that make the leaves even crisper and the ground as hard as iron. I like Autumn.


Other stuff - TP and I took T&M to a later Dog Training class yesterday and I thought it went really well. Tyson has been a bit of a sod recently and I'm sure it is due to the fact that she likes to play up when there are lots of puppies around. The later class has older dogs that are more advanced and there are fewer of them. This means that there are more complicated exercises and more time to develop them. This environment seems to suit her and she performed brilliantly. Perhaps she likes to be challenged.

Today Dad popped round for lunch and brought Tilly with him. After some initial shouting from Marauder they all settled in well and she made herself at home. It is good for her to be socialised with other Dogs and getting on with T&M and Sell-by-date will mean that Dad can avoid Kennel fees and leave her with us if he ever wants to go away. Mind you him and Sue (step-mum) are so besotted I think they have already checked out their favourite holiday accommodation regarding their dog policy.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

What am I / I am doing?

"Badman, we need you to write a Contract Schedule. Off you go, quick as you like"

Hmmm! This is not what I have been doing for a living for the past few years so its not like I'am expert or anything. In fact I probably fall in to the category of "man on the street" in terms of expereince .........

......... yep - that's right, the man sat on the street outside McDonald's with a dog on a string smelling of urine and Special Brew.

Anyway, I had a hunt around and found an example from a US Contract. I then farted around with it and sent it in for approval. They liked it so much they asked me to prepare another 8 versions for a few Countries in Europe and the Middle East. "tout de suite" - Gits!

This is the nature of my new job. Allegedly it is in the same job family as my previous role. My arse! It is about as similar as walking is to flying and you don't see many Swallows putting on their Nikes and setting off for North Africa "a pied" do you?

Anyway, am I enjoying it? That's a difficult one. It is probably too early to say but I can say this - I may be working longer hours, with a completely new set of TLAs*, processes, people etc etc but it is still preferable to my last role. It is coming together slowly and it is nice to be challenged and to be learning again.**

It is not leaving much time for Domestic stuff at the moment but I am sure that things will even out as I get to grips with things. At the moment understanding what can be put in to "pending" and what is "urgent" is not straightforward. My colleagues seem to think that everything falls in to the latter.

This evening sees TP and I off to Dog Training with Tyson and Marauder. My powers of prediction then see me falling asleep in front of the News.

Apologies for the work based entry but it seems to be all consuming at the moment.

* TLA - three letter acronym
** This is as positive as I get about work. I could be awarded the position of CEO and I'd still be looking for the Bear Traps.

Monday, 27 September 2010

Weekend or "weak" end

After a very busy week at work trying to be efficient, whilst

a) infected with plague brought in to the house by TP, and
b) not really having a clue what I am supposed to be doing - new job, remember

neither 30% nor I wanted a particularly hectic weekend.

I woke early on Saturday and I mean early - 5.30 - I am knackered and full of snot and really want a lie in and my mind is saying "wake up Badman its the weekend" whilst my body is saying - actually I cant print what my body is saying because it is about 400 sequential expletives.

The mind won so I got up and settled in front of the early TV News and drank several double espressos. This got me to the point of walking upright on the evolutionary progress chart - you know - the one a couple behind the guy with the spear.

I'm not sure I like the way that Chimp is looking at me!

I then had an hour or so of work to get out of the way so I could forget work for 48 hours. By 9.30 my obligations to Dante's were fulfilled and the weekend was mine.

TP was going to spend the day in town with some mates so I ferried them in leaving the rest of the day a blank canvas.

A fine day was spent pottering around. New shelves were put in the garage. Shelves were filled, clutter removed. The day ended with a bonfire and that feeling of self satisfaction of achieving loads of things and feeling somewhat rested too.

Sunday morning was spent watching TP at rugby practice then home for lunch and a bit more tidying in the garage, The lawn got a bit of a trim and the dogs got walked. I then settled down for a bit of cooking. I had found a recipe on the internet for Lincolnshire haslet - a spiced pork meatloaf and was tempted to try it.

It was a bit of an odd recipe involving mincing pork and onions and combining them with lots of dried herbs and seasonings and slightly stale bread that has been soaked in water and squeezed dry but the end result is most pleasing and will definitely be added to the recipe folder. The pork loin that I started curing last Monday was also removed from the fridge, washed and soaked for an hour before being wrapped and hung up the garage for a week or so. There are 3 pieces of bacon, each just over 1 lb in weight. I sure at least one of them will get smoked sometime early next week.

30% says I am a carnivore who regards vegetables as garnish. This is not true - actually it is - but I eat raw carrots and celery just to spite her.

Friday, 24 September 2010

Motoring News

The "Prius" went in for her MOT this morning and passed with no "Advisory Notices".

I am obviously pleased as it means that the upcoming Service will be just that, with no additional repairs to be added to the service.

Any of you who have read this nonsense will know that the Prius is not, in fact, a Japanese, Hybrid engined "eco" car but a British 4 wheel drive. I can hear the Environmentalists wince from here but I have already pointed out that I bought her second hand and don't actually drive that far in a year which makes her carbon footprint a lot smaller than the size 13's most people assume she has. After all 20,000 miles per annum and a new car every three years does tend to kick out a lot of CO2 even if the car can give you 40+ miles per gallon.

Where am I going with this? Well, a comparison of this and last years MOT certificates show that I drove her just under 5,000 miles in the past 12 months. That is one of the benefits of working from home. It also means that I don't really feel that guilty about her fuel consumption of 30 mpg.

Using crude mathematics this means that my annual fuel consumption is in the region of 167 gallons. That's about 3 gallons per week or about £16 per week at current diesel prices.


Random Fact: Today I gave Sell-by-Date a pedicure - bless him - he is so old that he doesn't really walk that far and consequently his claws don't get worn away.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Calm after the Storm

The quieter evening that I hoped for yesterday did not happen.

Another evening of last minute changes and winging materials over to my American colleagues. With a head full of snot every cell of my body was saying "just lie on the sofa, watch crap TV and do nothing".Unfortunately that was not to be and it was another night in front of the Laptop.

Deadlines have been met and today has started at a somewhat more leisurely pace.

I had an appointment with an Occupational Therapist this morning to check up on progress with my hand. That went well and she has confirmed that the exercises have worked and the mobility of the finger is now pretty much back to normal. It is still numb down one side but at least I can use it to a reasonable extent now.

Back in front of the laptop  I have spent most of the day clearing the bits and pieces that had been ignored while I have been focused on my "primary deliverables". I have also had to develop a couple of further iterations but am realising how boring this paragraph is becoming and am going to stop it n.....

......  This evening I have promised myself a 6 o'clock finish. There will be a walk with Tyson & Marauder and, to be honest, not a lot more.

I have some bacon that is being cured but that will only take a few minutes to massage in a few handfuls of cure and that is about it. Then I plan to spend the evening with 30% and TP and my viral chums - Yes - I still have the cold.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

I am snotty.

Bloody Kids.

They spend all Summer in different parts of the world collecting germs. Come back to School and swap them like some Biological Warfare Trading Card Game and then bring them home and dump them on their parents along with school bags and lunch boxes.

You may have guessed that I have a cold and TP showed the first symptoms. He has therefore been judged and found guilty of Biological Warfare and not even the Cat's Brief is going to get him off that one.

To be honest it's not that bad but I have had a crap night's sleep and have that horrible scratchy sensation at the back of the throat. I am therefore milldy Grouchy but at least I am at the midpoint of the week and therefore am on the downward slide to the weekend.

There are a few work deadlines that need to be met so unfortunately I cant skulk off and find some less pressured work to occupy me until the symptoms subside.

The new job is allegedly going well. I have been thrown in at the deep end but apparently am doing good work according to Observers. Now that is a sick occupation. Standing on the side of the Lido watching someone grasping at the waters surface and catching a breath whenever possible. That's Dante's for you. I used to push rocks up a hill now I carry one on my shoulders in 6 feet of water - remember - I am a short arse.

I have to be honest though - the new job is much more preferable to the last one even with increased pressure, a learning curve that is more like a brick wall and not a huge amount of support.

I have been fretting over a deliverable only to find that a Sow's Ear is adequate when I had been trying to produce a Silk Purse - difficult when new to a role. I do however find this mildly concerning when the "sow's ear" deliverable feeds in to a Quality Review.

On the Home front it was Dog Training last night and we were advised that the Silver Tests were scheduled for November. Hmmm! based on T & M's performance last night we have some work to do.

Dog Training and a late night in front of the laptop (work) meant that everything else was rushed; Dinner, chat, chores etc. I am hoping that this evening will be more civilised but I expect that TP will want to go to Rugby Practice if work calls allow.

30% and I did grab a few minutes this morning and we have decided to put an increased offer in for the Coppice - scrub, more like. So it looks like I need to draft a letter to the Land Agents.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Kitchen Stuff

Yesterday evening saw me pricking a pound of sloes with a cocktail stick before throwing in enough sugar to kill a diabetic and the best part of a litre of cheap gin.

All of this was carefully placed in a Kilner type preserving jar and will be shaken every day for the next week or so and then left for at least three months, preferably more. The end result is a sweet liqueur that tempts even the most ardent Gin Hater. I have a bottle left over from last year's harvest and can confirm that,although great from the start, continues to improve with age. It looses some of the sweetness and subtle undertones of other hedgerow flavours appear.

I also topped up the Blackberry Vodka  - this is a similar preparation but involves Brown Sugar, Cloves and Cinnamon Sticks. I've never made it before so haven't a clue what it will be like. I love blackberries and am hoping that I will end up with a sweet, fruity yet slightly spiced liqueur. I started a batch off with some of the first blackberries back in the middle of August. That will be ready for straining and bottling in mid November, so only a couple of months to go before judgment can be passed.

30% had been to Tesco and returned home with a bag full of things that don't, on first impression, appear to make a meal. I then discovered that Pork Loins were this week's "special" so I ended up making a batch of cure* and rubbing it in to a large boned loin joint. Each day over the next 5 or 6 days it will be rubbed with more cure and put back in a cool place. At the end of the week it will be unsmoked or "green" bacon. The loin produces back bacon and for a little effort great rewards can be reaped.

At the end of the curing process it is soaked for an hour and dried. I then tend to wrap it and hang it out in the garage for about a week before either eating, freezing or smoking it.

Dad gave us a bag of shallots from his garden so these will be soaked in brine overnight and then washed and pickled in vinegar. I think 30% plans to kick that off this evening.

TP and I have Dog Training this evening so I will have limited time for things culinary.

Right - now it's time for a quick coffee and work.

For anyone interested the cure is 3 parts salt to one part brown sugar plus cracked black peppercorns, crushed bay leaves and ground coriander

Monday, 20 September 2010

High Spirits

Crap title but I couldnt think of anything better.

Yesterday saw me taking TP to Rugby practice and I thought I would spend the 90 minutes drinking coffee from a flask and getting cold. In fact I ended up taking part in line-out practices and getting stuck in with the Under 14s. It was good fun and their lack of weight is made up for in suppleness and fitness but me and the two other Dads did manage to take a couple of line outs despite the squad's superior numbers.

It was fun and "yes" I can mange to move this morning.

Popped in to see Dad on the way home and got licked by the new puppy. She is called Tilly and is an absolute delight. Dad and Step Mum are absolutely besotted with her and describe her as the best birthday present ever! She is, of course, spoiled rotten and rules the roost but it is great to see how they are responding to having a new dog - a real breath of fresh air.

Yesterday afternoon saw us invited round to perform a bit of foraging in a local Orchard. C&M are a delightful retired couple who live close by and M decided to spend a portion of C's pension on a 2 acre orchard. It is lovely. She has just purchased a refurbished Shepherd's hut complete with bunk and stove so she can enjoy it at any time.

We reaped a bountiful harvest and came home with cooking apples, blackberries and sloes. We then divided and conquered. 30% produced a few batches of stewed blackberries and apples and I started off a litre of Blackberry Vodka. We were short of gin so will leave the sloe gin until this evening.

Today is work - obviously - but have managed to phone the Land Agents to make an offer on the coppice. It wasn't well received - but it was very low. 30% and I will have a chat later and decide on whether to go higher.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Weekend Stuff

Yesterday TP spent the day out with his Mum so 30% and I ended up on one of those days that never end.

You know how it goes. You walk out of the door after a late Saturday breakfast and then dont stop until about 8 o'clock at night.

Yes, it was one of those - not all bad, I hasten to add, just busy.

The first point of call was a DIY Store - not the one that screwed us about with the radiator, but one I loathe almost as much - where 30% and I spent a happy hour deciding on the colour for the rendered parts of the house as Andy & Steve have quoted a rather excellent price for the job.

As always we ended picking up a few other bits and pieces and ended up, as always, going through the checkout looking like we were going to built and paint a Gimp's Chamber. Is it just me that walks across the store's car park leaving a Checkout Girl thinking "what the Hell are they going to do with that" - or, as is far more likely "how drunk can I afford to get tonight".

Anyway, that was followed by a quick, whizz round Tesco and then home for a late lunch. On the way home we took a diversion and stopped to look at a 5 acre coppice that is for sale at the moment. 30% and I have been looking for a local paddock for a good few years but land here is expensive and small parcels are snaffled up by the pony brigade. This looks absolutely perfect as it is not suitable for ponies but would suit us. I think an offer may well be made. I am hopeful but have been at this point before and been let down several times.

The afternoon was filled with a walk for Tyson and Marauder and then a very early tea as we took TP to see a Monster Truck "Jam" in Birmingham in the evening. It was great - bloody noisy and very American and "low brow" but it was really fun.

Both 30% and I thought that the Pope could go a long way in the Popularity stakes if he swapped his white custom Mercedes for one of these.

That just about finished Saturday off and this morning sees me standing on the side of a rugby pitch while TP does his stuff.

Friday, 17 September 2010

Papal Visit

I'm really keen to see if I can persuade the Bear to wear a hat...........

......... think about it !

Pop Quiz or the 46+ Examination Board

Please insert the word "lucky" in to the following text and answer the three questions below:-

  • A lump of Pixie's ear wax.
  1. How many possible locations are there for the word "Lucky"?
  2. What is the most suitable location for the word "Lucky"
  3. Explain in no more that 4 paragraphs why you chose the particular insertion point.
Bonus question; how much of your life did you actually spend on this nonsense :-)

Incidentally this little puzzler had 30% and TP engaged for a good while on the drive up to Wales a couple of weeks ago.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

DIY Chain Fiasco

During my 5 week absence we had the family bathroom ripped apart and renewed.

During this exercise I realised how much I truly despise one of the major DIY Warehouses in the UK. 30% and I went along and ordered various ceramic items, some taps and a rather nice heated towel radiator that would look just splendid and pump out plenty of heat in room that could be described as chilly.

OK, the orders were placed and we waited patiently. Everything arrived and was put to one side for Steve and Andy to sort out. Week one of the project was to rip out the old bathroom and re-plaster in prep for week 2 when the tiling and fitting would take place.

During a tea break Andy and Steve got bored and decide to have a peep at the towel radiator and noticed that one of the legs was badly bent. I rang the aforementioned DIY chain and they advised that a replacement would be sent in the next 48 hours. Fortunately I was on sick leave so would be there to receive the goods but did feel that under normal circumstances a 48 hour delivery window fell in to the category of taking the piss.

48 hours later the replacement rad had failed to arrive so I called again. This time the DIY chain didn't really want to do anything and I ended up talking to their Supplier. They committed to having on on-site the following day.

Well another day waiting for the rad went well - I watched a couple of episodes of Star Trek on the telly had some lunch and all of this was only occasionally disturbed by Andy and Steve plastering. Mid afternoon I decided to give the rad Supplier a friendly call to see how they were and where my rad was.....

.... "Oh, we tried to deliver it but you weren't in"......

I bit my tongue and patiently explained that I was. "Ah but our driver knocked your door and got no answer. You have a blue front door". I replied "You're right I didn't answer because I have an oak front door. I think your driver called at the wrong address".

After a few calls the driver was diverted and he finally arrived at our house. I excitedly opened the package to inspect the goods before signing them only to find that the replacement rad was also bent in the same place. I declined to accept the delivery and hit the phone again.

Now we had a dilemma. We were about to leave for our holiday and Andy and Steve were due to start the re-fit on our return in just over a weeks time. We patiently explained this to both the DIY chain and their Supplier and they advised that they would have a new rad on site on the first working day after the bank holiday and would call us to confirm that it had arrived.

So moving forward 11 days, there I was waiting for the rad.

It probably comes as no surprise that it didn't arrive so I called the Supplier having decided that the DIY chain couldn't organise a piss up in a brewery.

They advised that the girl who normally deals with this is on holiday and it hasn't been checked in the warehouse as being OK for delivery. I fumed and asked for the Manager. I held for 15 minutes and then she advised that the replacement was also damaged, no new stocks were due in until the following week and she couldn't give a new date for delivery as they would need to be checked prior to delivery  in view of all the problems.

I thanked her for her assistance and advised that we no longer wanted the radiator. I also advised that I had wasted 4 days waiting for a serviceable item to be delivered and was not best impressed. I also pointed out that I still had the original damaged unit and if they wanted it back they would collect it at my convenience not theirs i.e. on a Saturday not a week day.

In the background Andy & Steve had asked to put off the refit for a week as they had a patio job that had been delayed by poor weather. This was fortunate as it gave me a chance to order a replacement rad. I took a gamble on an Internet supplier that offered a similar product with a 24 hour delivery and punched in my card details.

The Gods smiled on us for once - about bloody time after the palaver described above - and the rad arrived intact and also considerably less costly than the original one. We also got confirmation of our refund from the DIY chain.

Ah - all is well that ends well ..............  except for the fact that during the week of the bathroom refit I had a call from the original rad supplier to let me know that my (cancelled) rad would be delivered the next day.

In view of the fact that

  • I had spent 4 days waiting for them to NOT sort out a problem
  • Made many phone calls to people who couldn't give a toss

    ....  and received that "Customer Service Classic statement"
  • "That's not my problem"
I decided to play dumb and let the stupid sods deliver the damn thing.

The outcome of this is that I now have two £500 towel radiators in my garage; one of which is bent and the other is un-inspected. Neither have been paid for.

Am sorely tempted to list the damn things on eBay.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

I'm not dead.

exactly what it says on the tin.

Where have I been for the past 5 week ......

To be honest the finger operation has gone pretty well but for the first couple of weeks the last thing I wanted to do with it was bash it against a keyboard so I spent a frustrating time watching daytime TV and doing as much as I could in the kitchen. The nerves are affected by the operation so I have an index finger that still feels like it has just had root canal work at the Dentist. This make using it normally a bit of a challenge as sensitivity is poor and grip and control are both affected. Cooking was fun but I had to keep a close eye on what I was doing or it would have been severed or scalded quite easily.

Net result of my Kitchen based occupational therapy is a Freezer full of home made faggots - that is likely to result on some new readers using the words Freezer and Faggots in Google! I also managed several pints of Pea and Ham Soup and a Game Terrine using some Partridge, Pheasant and Pigeon that was provided by a friend that shoots.

After a fortnight of getting bored and cooking - actually I didn't get bored - I spent at least a few minutes every day sending praise aloft to the God or Gods that had allowed me to escape from the Account Team I had been working with at Dante's.

So that was the two weeks of certified sick leave and then 30%, TP, Tyson, Marauder and I spent a week up on the Lleyn Peninsular in Wales. For those of you that are Geographically challenged, if you see Wales as looking somewhat like a Pig's head the Lleyn Peninsular is the "ear" in the North that sticks out in to the Irish Sea. We had a great time and, as we took the Dogs, it was mostly long walks along beaches and up Bryn's - "its Welsh for Hill" - Thank you Mr Brydon. My lasting impression of the Lleyn is that it is like my 40 year old memories of Worcestershire except that it has more flavours of ice cream.

We then had a further week at home just doing stuff that needed doing and have that smug feeling that accompanies a slightly tidier house, garage and garden.

OK, so why haven't I produced anything for the past week or so - well I started a new role at Dante's at the beginning of last week and have been somewhat swamped to say the least.

Amongst all of this we have had the Chaps in to rip out the family bathroom and replace it with something suitable for People *. The work has gone really well and we are delighted with the results. There are still a few bits to do before we can cut the ribbon and declare it open and this will see me in the roof space to see whether recessed low voltage spots are really an option along with a load of painting in the not too distant future.

So, I have opened the Journal again and started to scrawl. No commitments to frequency though.
* Believe me, before they started it looked like it should be a grainy shot in a documentary with a bloated body floating, face down in a filled bath - those are the perils of buying a "project house"