29 April, 2007

Surrey wild flowers

Took a little walk around East Surrey Hospital yesterday evening to see if I could see any waiting Paparazzi (Peter Andre is in hospital with meningitis at the moment, poor chap) but got largely distracted by the incredible display of wild flowers just littering the grass banks all over the site -
Surrey Spring Flowers #5
Surrey Spring Flowers #1
Surrey Spring Flowers #4
Surrey Spring Flowers #5
- oh, I did see one possible clue, no sign of the owner though...must have been hiding in the woods with a zoom lens ;)-
Paparazzi car?

27 April, 2007

Nothing to see here...

Mystery Object
So, I was going to blog about these, and how cool they are (got quite excited yesterday), but now they will have to remain a mystery (for the time being, at least) as Flyingpops has plans for them...if you are a regular reader you can probably guess what for... ;)

In the absence of much else, an update on the last two posts, as nothing else has really had much of a chance to happen so far today...!

Got up and headed out the door early again (Flyingpops on a jolly to Thorpe Park with her office...starting to think I'm in the wrong industry! ;) "Herr Inspektor" (why didn't I think of that name yesterday) was on the bus again today, funnily enough we picked him up at the hospital (hope he hadn't been there all night with a laser, levelling the cones up ;)...got to Redhill in good time, quick enough, actually to catch my normal London Bridge train, read the Metro (slow news day), then got on with "Beware of God" (on bus journey number 2), which is actually absolutely hilarious (even if I am having to get definitions for the odd Hebrew word as I am going along)...the sentient monkey had me wiping the tears from my eyes...and "Holocaust tips for kids"...just genius! ;)

26 April, 2007

435 bus into Redhill

435 to Redhill
So this morning, Flyingpops going in late again, I had to get on the bus, I set off a tiny bit early (better safe than sorry), not realising that it was raining before I stepped out without my coat and lacking an umbrella, walked (a little chilly and wet therefore) to the bus stop, where I waited (rather longer than I needed)...as I stood there, getting progressively more damp, I couldn't help but overhear the conversation that was taking place between a couple of the regulars, "Smoking lady" and "Wife of glasses bloke"...
Smoking lady - "Oh its awful"
Wife of glasses bloke - "He always keeps 'em talking at the hospital, don't he?"
Smoking lady "Right until the very second"
Wife of glasses bloke - "Yeah, he won't let them go until the very moment, always makes us late into Redhill"
Smoking lady - "And what for? Who does he think he is anyway?"
Wife of glasses bloke- "He thinks he some sort of inspector, but he's nothing!"
(Glasses bloke steps in here) - "Jobsworth, that's what we calls 'em!"
Smoking lady - "Oy, watch out, here he comes!"

I know who they are talking about, the chap that runs the enquiries office at Redhill bus station, and at this exact moment, he appears, walking around the corner into Bushfield drive, dressed as if he just stepped out of the dry cleaners (as always), and joins the queue. Slightly embarrassed innocent conversation about last night's TV takes place, oh and venom directed at the likes of me "there's always more people on the bus in the rain" (apparently) until the familiar blue and yellow livery swings into view in the distance...I get on, pay for my ticket and go and sit up at the back (getting my favorite seat, ah...)...

When we get to the hospital I peer up from my book to see what "The Inspector" is going to do. Will the ladies be right? I check on my mobile and we are indeed about 90 seconds early..."The Inspector" checks his watch and then looks up and spots that the line of cones (those that protect the racing line the bus follows from being blocked by illegal parking) have been slightly moved overnight, he considers for a second and then can't help himself but hop off the bus to run over and line them up neatly again. The seconds tick by...

The bus driver takes one look in his mirror, smiles (Wile E. Coyote-style) and puts his foot down, zooming off! I look back, just catching "The Inspector"'s open mouth as he is bending down to pick up a cone...I must admit I nearly joined the ladies in laughing out loud... ;)

To be fair though, as well as being a *confirmed* "jobsworth" (to quote glasses bloke), "The Inspector" is rather public spirited, I've seen him picking up rubbish on the estate, and he does voluntary work at the hospital from time to time - however, if you don't want to be my "post de jour" "Mr Inspector", next time I am standing in Redhill hands clasped in begging posture for the bus driver to open the door (while still at the bus stop), don't tell him to ignore me and then smile...my sympathy has boundaries... ;)

25 April, 2007

I don't know any Jews...

It's strange, I picked up a book in the book sale at work the other day, should have twigged as the "nom de plume" of the author was "Shalom Auslander" (which roughly translates as "Peace be with you" in Hebrew, "Foreigner" in German), it turned out to be a darkly satirical poke at a certain authority figure that those of the Christian and Jewish faith share (it was called "Beware of God")...

However, I tasted a few pages and felt a bit lost, not really having much of an understanding of the Jewish thing...it then dawned on me that I don't even actually know (nor have ever known) anyone who has openly told me that they are a Jew (either in meatspace or here)...This seems a bit odd...is this the legacy of genocide, or is it just that religion isn't really a topic of general conversation? It just seems absolutely stupid that all my contemporary experience of Jewishness comes from either South Park or Monty Python...

So I asked my local American (desk next door, just past Monkey), and she said she knew loads of Jewish people...even confessing to some (possibly indecent levels of) intimate knowledge thereof, so either I am blinkered, my bits of Surrey/London are Jew-shy, or (heaven forbid) there really aren't any around...

Ren - don't give that book away, I'm going to read it and try harder to understand it...

24 April, 2007

Don't judge a book by it's cover...

London Bus
A number of weeks ago, I was getting on the bus (on my way home), and was a little...well, let me explain - it was the end of a long day, my knee was throbbing from the repeated strain of all the stairs on the commute (combined with my recent injury) it had been a busy, stressful time in the office, the train had been packed out, it was hot, I'd had to run to actually get on the bus before it pulled away (had to wildly wave to the driver, who had kindly stopped), had managed to drop my change fumbling in my bag as I bounded up the step...anyway, you get the idea (just a bit of a crappy day)...so when I peered, hopefully, up to the emergency exit seat (where the good leg room is) and there was a hoodie sat in it, my heart didn't exactly sink, I just sort of thought "Well that's about right"...he was also playing shit rave music loudly from the crackly speakerphone he was clutching (again, "about right") his face was a mask of indifference.

So anyway, peering around, I noted (with *some* dismay now) that the rest of the bus (leg room seats) were also occupied, so (not wishing to stand) I walked up to the back of the bus and crammed myself sideways into a no legroom seat, stuck in my headphones (so I didn't have to listen to the painful, tinny, indistinguishable racket coming from just behind me), grabbed on for dear life (as the drivers on my route seem to all think they are Lewis Hamilton), and off we went...(for 20 minutes of roller-coaster action)...

No more than one stop later, I felt a tap on my shoulder, I looked round - it was the hoodie - I probably frowned, and removed one of my ear buds - "'scuse me, do you wanna swap seats mate? Bit more leg room here"...

Faith in Human Nature +1

23 April, 2007

Goring Beach, West Sussex

Goring #1
So on Saturday afternoon we packed up Colin (after a bit of an out-of-the-blue invitation from Flyingpops old friend Dawn) and zoomed down to the sea-side at Goring (just outside Worthing) to enjoy some of the (continuing to be) fantastic weather -
Goring #3
- I took the opportunity to walk around and get a feel for the place, following the hedge tunnel into the distance and gazing out through little gaps towards the beach -
Goring #6
- to the other side is a large green, sporadically studded with small groups, either sunbathing, playing gentle sports or picnicking, all covered by the haze from countless charcoal BBQs -
Goring #9
- others enjoyed the ocean swell, ignoring the blatant warning signs -
Goring #11
- or just gazed out to sea -
Goring #10
I managed to score a couple of bottles of cold beer from a small shop at the end of the grass area (£2.50 each though, so bring your own if you come along!), then had a little snooze on the grass, really relaxing place...

21 April, 2007

NTL Virgin media broadband - Great deal for an existing customer

Great Deal!
Well done Flyingpops...

Here is pretty much the perfect script to bargain Virgin cable (as witnessed by me this morning)-

"Oh hello there, I just wanted to talk to someone about the price of our bill, we seem to be paying a lot more than the deals we have seen in the newspapers","yes, honestly we've spoken to BT and Sky and both of their broadband services (which is all we really use you for) are significantly cheaper","I mean, obviously it's a lot of hassle to change over to another provider, but we don't really use the TV channels you offer, and frankly we could get the same sort of stuff with a freeview box, nor do we really use the landline, our mobile providers give us loads of free minutes. We do like your service, but we really feel like we are going to have to jump ship if you can't offer us a better price for what we already get, say around £25"...(last bill, with phone calls was just over £40 for the "L" TV pack, 2Mb unlimited broadband and the standard land-line phone package)...

(so, Flyingpops has distilled the value of their whole offering, by this point, down to the broadband from a negotiation point of view, the TV and phone now being moot points, her aim being to be put through to the disconnection department, in time honoured fashion)... ;)

The first thing that happened, though, is that she was offered the exact same deal for £30! An immediate saving of about £12 a month - at this point, I would have hung up, smugly satisfied, but with my note (saying BT was £17.99 pcm for a similar broadband offer) tapping beneath her pen, she pursued - politely, but relentlessly...

"Well, that's alright, but I don't really think we can stay with you if you are going to be that expensive, I mean, if I went into town now and bought a freeview box, that's the same money as you have charged us for services we haven't used for the last two months, isn't it? I think I'm going to have to hang up now and talk to the other providers again..."

(and literally, that was all it took!)

"Oh hello, is that disconnections?"

(repeats the same arguments, jovially)

"Oh, twenty two pounds a month for the same deal and an upgrade to 4Mb broadband? Fink, is that okay?"

(I nodded enthusiastically, eyes wide and mouth agape)

Better blooming deal than the new customers are getting!!! Hahaha!

19 April, 2007

St Peter's Church, Tandridge

A few shots of the church (taken over the Easter weekend), this is the likely venue for the ceremony early next year... ;)
Tandridge Church #3
Tandridge Church #4
Tandridge Church #5
Tandridge Church #6

18 April, 2007

Silly Search Terms #9

Another batch of silly search terms for our mutual enjoyment (those referrals I spot from the major search engines which make me chortle) -

"rover metro loo" (is that an option on the metro then? Passenger seat conversion perhaps?)

"t25 breasts" (Sorry, well not on mine anyway, his name is Colin)... ;)

"preacher's bench used for BDSM" (eh?? While I'm sure it's very enjoyable, not here mate!)

"psp tatty bear brushes" (Well, I happen to know that "brush" is a commonly used word for a 3D object template in the gaming industry, thanks to training myself on an early version of DROMED (the unfriendly, crashy Thief level designing tool) still not entirely sure what they were after though)...!

"does marwell zoo have security guards in it's zoo?" (and why do you want that bit of information, eh sunshine?)

"vending machine love meter" (Urm, again, I think you came to the wrong place!)

"+'number of tendons' +duck" (May I refer you to the Appendicular Myology of the Camptorhynchus labradorius, which should answer your question a little better than anything I have written about ducks (which most likely isn't a lot more than "here is a duck" (or something about quacking)) perhaps refine your search a little more... ;)

"pics of pink cars with playboy bunny logos on them" (I'm plagued! Although I have actually mentioned playboy once or twice)...

Previous entries are in this direction...(if you like this kind of thing)...

17 April, 2007

New Forest Mini-break - Day #3 - Christchurch and Lyndhurst

So (apologies, a little late), back to our last day of the break, managed to pack up in about one hour flat (after waking up fairly late and enjoying a leasurely breakfast (the camp site doesn't insist you clear the pitch until half twelve, which was nice))...we set the TomTom for central Christchurch (not strictly-speaking actually in the New Forest, but near enough)... ;) After just one tiny mishap (being directed into a car park which was height restricted a little too low for Colin to squeeze into), we managed to find our way to the marina car park (which was rather expensive, but it did mean there were plenty of spaces to choose from, unlike the other car parks in town), and then we walked along the harbour wall into town, and I have to say the whole place is just staggeringly beautiful -
New Forest Mini Break #54
- (might have been the wonderful weather painting things a little artificially sunshiny) but it just seemed everywhere I looked, the whole place was picture perfect -
New Forest Mini Break #59
New Forest Mini Break #61
- walking down the high street was like walking back through time, I think the only mainstream high street store in the entire length of it was a single retro-looking Woolworths -
New Forest Mini Break #63
- all the rest were tiny independent stores (well, and a few charity shops/banks, but that's allowed) -
New Forest Mini Break #64
- I mean, how many tiny towns that you know still have their own little local theatre?
New Forest Mini Break #65
Anyway, we wandered around the farmers market (and did actually discover where the chain stores were, the council seems to have managed to force them all into a little hidden arcade by the multi-storey car park right on the edge of town, amazingly good town planning resulting in probably the only really traditional, largely untouched and truely independent high street in the country (well, that I have ever seen, anyway)! A visit is therefore strongly advised for that spectacle alone... ;)
New Forest Mini Break #68
From there we drove to Lyndhurst in search of some lunch, and found it at the "Fox and Hounds", a "smoke free" pub(!)...where I had a very reasonable Fillet steak (price more reasonable than presentation or flavour (standard pub grub), but I had been rather spoilt for the last couple of days, so not suprising it didn't shine comparitively) -
New Forest Mini Break #69
When we were done we took a walk down the high street, poked around the excellent camping shop in town (but didn't buy anything), and then stumbled upon this little gem -
New Forest Mini Break #70
- a proper, old fashioned sweet shop, hundreds and hundreds of different kinds of sweets, shaming even the largest supermarket with the sheer range, so we stocked up on interesting and retro goodies to give away as novel easter gifts, then back to the camper -
New Forest Mini Break #72
- and home, which took about 2 hours, so an easy hop, considering the massive difference in lifestyle, scenery and culture, a visit to the New Forest (I'll say it again) is like stepping back through time...wonderful... ;)

16 April, 2007

World Cup Replay - 2007

Driving to Tesco yesterday morning (slow cooking myself in the sizzling summer-boost afforded by black-car ownership) I passed lots of car fulls of people, pit-stopping for fuel/leg stretching/cold drinks at the large petrol station on the roundabout in Horley...the vast majority were obviously on their way to the beach at Brighton and had also fairly obviously mostly done the same as I had - i.e. spotted that the weather was going to be as good as Saturday and pulled all the jumpers and long trousers etc. out of their cupboards/drawers in an attempt to find *something* (towards the bottom) to wear that suited the conditions outside - the result (amusingly), in my neck of the woods anyway, was a total flashback to World Cup fever (it of last summer), those garments being the most recently worn "heatwave" clothes in most peoples wardrobes - almost everyone I passed was wearing either an "England" t-shirt (in one form or other) or St George's cross shorts...time to go shopping for some new clothes perhaps...

Anyway, when I got to the supermarket (arrived at 1015hrs feeling very pleased with myself for getting up so early to miss the crowds) I was most put out to find that the car park was absolutely packed! The majority of people inside (mostly called "Beckham" judging by their stitched name tags) were forming an impatient, tutting throng around the freezer section after realising (as I did shortly thereafter) that the entire BBQ area in the fresh meat row was empty (looks like there will be some explaining to do by whoever is responsible for the stock ordering) meaning each time a woolly-gloved shelf stacker appeared carrying a cardboard box to fill up the "£2-a-bag" frozen ribs/chicken wings/salmon skewers, a mini-football fan food riot ensued...when I actually managed to snatch a bag of Moroccan Lamb it wasn't exactly what I would refer to as frozen (more sort of slushy) but there wasn't a lot of choice...not that it mattered anyway, when I went to look there were zero bags of anything capable of making fire that didn't contain any propellant (don't want to eat petrol-marinated Moroccan Lamb particularly), either at Tesco, or the two other petrol stations I stopped at on the way home, so last night ended up being roast lamb, but that's probably it for roasts (if the weather keeps on like this), time to switch to Mediterranean food in keeping with the conditions...

15 April, 2007

Surrey Heatwave

It is scorching here...three degrees centigrade lower than it is in in Bahrain (where today's F1 race is, yes, in the middle of the desert!), and they obviously have a lot of wind over there...not a breath in Whitebushes...anyway, good luck Hamilton! ;)

The Feathers, Merstham, Review

Feather Burger
So, last night I got told off by Flyingpops' mum for not updating my blog...*blush*...

Suffice it to say, yet again, things have been conspiring against me, being very busy at work, then annoyingly getting sick, then yesterday was spent helping Flyingpops' brother move house (typical that it was the hottest day of the year so far *pant*), but about 4*1.5 hour round trips (between the lock up where all the furniture was stored and his house in Merstham) later (filling Colin and Golf to the absolute limit each time) we were all done...hot and tired and dehydrated, for dinner, he kindly treated us to food and beer at "The Feathers" pub (just up the road from where he now lives)...and it really is a cracking pub, the selection of drinks on offer is both staggering (in it's diversity, beers from all over the world, both on draft and bottled) and shocking (in the odd things that you expect to be on offer, but are missing (Chinzano, for example)), the decor is inviting, the selection of board games (free for use) is second-to-none in Surrey and the food is largely rather accomplished.

From our covers the clear winner was the Chicken pie, fat and fine shoe pastry and full to the brim with chunky poultry, vegetables and gravy (but not what I ordered, curses...) the battered fish looked a little on the limp side (looking distinctly floppy in appearance), and was served up missing it's side dish of mushy peas, a quiet reminder to the (definitely new) waiter, resulted in it's appearance a (rather microwave obviously) short while later...the burgers (which I was rather disturbed to NOT be asked quite how I would like to be cooked upon ordering), turned up just on the well done side of medium (which was acceptable), on a nicely toasted bit of ciabatta, almost drowned in strong cheddar cheese (not sure I need quite so much, but at least it was completely melted), and served with a small heap of slightly overcooked (abandoned in trendy London pubs at least 18 months ago) "jacket wedges"...but I can let that slide, Merstham being out in the partial-sticks (just half-way between the real quality rural pubs and real gastro-London restaurant pubs)...

10 April, 2007

New Forest Mini-break - Day #2 - Burley and Cider

So back to day two of the mini break (Thursday last week), amazingly the thermal shields kept out the *blazing* sun completely, allowing us to sleep in until 10am (which would *never* happen in a tent)...only real mishap being some of the cushions falling off the end of the bed during the night...need to find some ingenious solution to that, as it's a bit annoying the bed getting shorter and shorter during the night...anyway, it was warm, and quiet and dark right until we wanted it to be otherwise, so a great success...
New Forest Mini Break #21
The weather was staggeringly gorgeous again (what luck!), breakfast was rustled up (bacon sarnie and tea for me, coffee and a toasted cheese scone for Flyingpops) then we zipped up the awning, opened all the curtains, fired up the engine and headed into the New Forest in search of some nice scenery and local wildlife, which we found in abundance -
New Forest Mini Break #22
- we parked Colin up by the side of the (almost deserted) main road -
New Forest Mini Break #24
- and then hiked off towards what appeared (in the distance) to be a promising body of water -
New Forest Mini Break #23
- which even turned out to have a name "Whitten Pond" (accompanied by stark discouragement, should one be contemplating a cooling dip) -
New Forest Mini Break #32
- and there, beyond the wall of gorse flowers, we found some wildlife -
New Forest Mini Break #27
- a small field of New Forest ponies, stopped to drink (and scratch their itchy behinds on the gorse) -
New Forest Mini Break #28
- we stayed and watched them for a while, but they didn't seem inclined to do very much apart from munch continually at the thin grass by the side of the pond, so we walked back to the bus and continued our journey to down the road towards the lovely little village of Burley, this time being slightly outside the tourist season, it didn't seem quite as bad as our last visit, still quite busy though -
New Forest Mini Break #36
- the queue for ice creams was still as long as ever (and this lot wasn't even the hand-made variety) -
New Forest Mini Break #37
- we wandered around the town (which most oddly seems to consist of mostly witchcraft related gift shops, for no other reason than that a white witch lived there for a bit in the 1950s - the locals objected to her presence and she felt compelled to move out - but they seem to be making quite a good living in her wake, ironically ;) -
New Forest Mini Break #39
- then up the road towards the busy little scrumpy cider farm (woo hoo!), found out they do borough market once a week too(!) -
New Forest Mini Break #42
- where I scored a small bottle of "medium" (very nice indeed) -
New Forest Mini Break #44
- then we headed back to the camp site, Flyingpops feeling a bit poorly with a cold, so she had a little sleep in the back of the camper while I played on my PSP, made a start on the *excellent* "Vulcan 607" (about the bombing runs on the Falklands during the little spat we had with Argentina), then back to the gastropub for my lovely steak (as already mentioned) -
New Forest Mini Break #45
- came back full and happy, made a hot water bottle -
New Forest Mini Break #47
- and then drifted off to sleep watching Pirates of the Caribbean on the Shinco -
New Forest Mini Break #46
- a lovely day... ;)

08 April, 2007

First BBQ of 2007

First BBQ 2007 #1
Well, as predicted, first BBQ for 2007 took place quite significantly earlier than either last year (or the year before)...scary! So, officially then, the new record is the 8th of April...shaving well over two weeks from the previous best!
First BBQ 2007 #2
I had lamb chops with mint, Flyingpops had some veggie sausages in a bun...delicious... ;)