30 June, 2010

Toddler Thomas!

...although (admittedly) not unaided, I think it's time to say hello to Toddler Thomas...a *big* step forward (quite literally) as opposed to "cruising" sideways along things (crab-style)...and how excited is he to be doing it? ;)

Water Filled Weekend...

Thanks, in no small part, to the extremely hot weather recently (*pant*), we had rather a water filled weekend (just gone), starting on Saturday with our weekly splish-splash at Water Babies -
Water Babies
- who oddly waited until the week after the deadline (to choose if one is to renew) to suddenly introduce a load of fun new activities (meaning only two of us are continuing, which also probably means the end of our class - as that's probably not enough to make hiring the pool worthwhile)...
Water Babies
...humph...Anyway, Saturday night saw Thomas having a bath (Al Fresco) -
Bathing Al Fresco
- and on Sunday Flyingpops spent 2 hours (and went through three pumps - including the neighbour's - which she broke) inflating Thomas a Volkswagen Beetle-themed paddling pool-
VW Beetle paddling pool
VW Beetle paddling pool
- which as you can see he enjoyed immensely (although he did cry a little bit when I started putting water in it, until he realised that splashing was now possible)... ;)

29 June, 2010

Branston Hot African Chakalaka

Branston Hot African Relish
Wow...love this stuff, no idea where it comes on the Scoville scale, but *boy* does it pack a punch...my previous favourite sandwich spread (from the same range) was the jalapeno variety - now to be relegated to the "merely puny" category - this one (with Peri-Peri) is quite extraordinary, zappy hot and beautifully sweet...the Hot African Chakalaka...luckily it was on BOGOF in Tesco on Friday (and keeps for a good long while) - so I bought six (and I'm not even joking)... ;)

Besides, how could you possibly resist buying something with a name as charming as Chakalaka...I'm sat here now, just itching for someone to ask what I've got for lunch today... ;)

I'll say it just once more (promise I'll reserve future repetitions for Twitter)...Chakalaka la la la... ;D

28 June, 2010

What a journey today...

Mind the Gap
First up, get to the station at Earlswood (twenty minutes early thanks to getting a welcome lift from Flyingpops) and see my normal train is cancelled (no explanation, of course)...after a forty five minute wait (God bless my HTC Hero and 3G internet access) the next train arrives and it's (full of win) only four coaches and full and standing (but it was going to the wrong destination anyway)...fifteen minutes later I'm hopping onto the next London Bridge service (also four coaches - but not quite as full), I find a seat (near the smelly toilet) opposite an equally smelly woman, who has two enormous rucksacks each taking up a seat all by themselves and is tapping away furiously on a laptop (if she hadn't been tapping away on a laptop I would have automatically assumed her to be a homeless person by her general dress and aroma)...get to Merstham and some guy foolishly asks her if he can kindly take a seat and the next ten minutes is punctuated by blazing eruptions between the two of them regarding her continually invading his personal space (banging him with her knees, leading over etc.) then when we get to London Bridge she gets up, tries to put on both of her rucksacks (which are each individually bigger than her torso) and is instantly overbalanced by the weight and falls full force into a sitting position on my lap...FFS!!! Oddly this made me see the funny side and I laughed uncontrollably all the way to platform one, knowing things can't possibly get any stranger today... ;)

I hope...

24 June, 2010

Byron Bull in Cabot Place

Byron Bull in Cabot Place
I actually did a very shocked double-take coming down the escalator from the DLR into Cabot Place shopping mall when I spotted this enormous cow (and calf) sat right in the middle of my field of vision...absolutely not the sort of thing your tired mind expects to be confronted with during the daze of the commute...turns out that the reason for their presence is a reasonable one though, a new (reasonably cheap - for the Wharf) burger joint has emerged from the flames of Chilli's funeral pyre...the nice smiling ladies who were standing with the cows very kindly gave me a menu, a shiny sherrifs badge (nice touch) and a small black sweet to celebrate it's opening, so I thought the least I could do would be to mention their kindness on the internets...might even pop up for a burger next time I forget my packed lunch (they do take-away) and let you know what I think... ;)

Om nom nom... ;)

23 June, 2010

England Game...

...okay, the deal here is - Work through lunch today and go at 1430hrs (in time to get to the pub for the game) - or - get Friday afternoon off...

Background fact - My (single remaining) colleague is a big football fan...

So I've got half a day off on Friday - aren't I nice... ;)

*finkangel peers around looking for where his +1000 karma reward has fallen*

22 June, 2010

Father's Day...

Fathers Day
Fathers Day
Fathers Day
Fathers Day
Fathers Day
Fathers Day
...was just perfect...thank you very much for my new coat Mummy Thomas ;)

21 June, 2010

Wimbledon vs World Cup

...one TV in the Advertising Department (high on the wall), remote control in the hands of the PAs and Wimbledon Tennis on it right now...

I (confidently) predict a riot when all the sales guys get back from the pub... ;)

DLR - Scary Teeth Doors

DLR Door - Warning sign
Love these signs on the DLR...don't worry, the doors don't really have big scary teeth...certainly makes the odd tourist do a double take though... ;)

18 June, 2010

17 June, 2010

Twitter lists - How to

Forced into *some* sort of action after the rampant success of #duncansdream and an ill advised dip into #followfriday, I suddenly found myself (at the tail end of last week) following (and being followed by) rather a lot of new people on Twitter...rather than (slightly rudely) unfollowing those people who weren't being terribly interesting (or seemed to think that #FF is a fun thing to do, not only on Friday, but on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday) I came to a simple solution...set up a list to filter my feed a bit...It's pretty straightforward, in the Twitter interface just hit the "Lists" option, hit "New List", give it a name, then view your "following" list and on the right, next to each person/news agency/marketing exec there is a little icon that (logically) looks like a little list, click it and hit the little check box (for everyone you do like reading about) and the jobs a good 'un... ;) Now, instead of grazing your tweets from the home tab, just click your shiny new list in the nav on the right for a noise free twitter experience (don't mind reading it all on the web, but it's a bit of a pain when I'm on my 'droid)... ;)

16 June, 2010

Tesco Self Service Tills

Tesco Self Service
Okay, I'm on a roll now, second post about Tesco (hrm) in a row...but goodness me, aren't those self service tills at Tesco a boon - not only do they decimate what would otherwise be impossible queues at lunchtime (Canary Wharf branch gets rather busy), but also, you can walk up with an absolute armful of copper coloured shrapnel (the sort of thing you wouldn't dare present to an actual shop assistant unless you fancied the most withering of glances and resentful service) and rescue your wallet from danger of seam bursting overload completely shame-free...! ;)

15 June, 2010

Parent and Child Parking

Tesco Parent and Child Parking
One of the very pleasant aspects of parenthood is the "Parent and Child" space, not only are the slots about twice the normal size (to facilitate both parking of "family size" brick-like vehicle and careful transfer of infant to pram) but they are also (typically) right next to the supermarket entrance...in the case of Tesco at Hookwood (our local), they are actually even nearer the entrance than the disabled bays (which, thinking about it, actually seems a little bit wrong)...Only two things ruin it - twats like this - and principally because of the proximity of this particular store to Gatwick airport (literally a stone's throw) a large number of both disabled bays and parent and child spots always seem to end up being eaten up by catatonic taxi drivers - although why they don't just park in a normal spot is beyond me...

Honestly, I really don't know how people have the nerve, it simply wouldn't occur to me to take up a space reserved for a struggling Mum or Dad if I didn't have a child in the car, but obviously some people are just ***** (you are free to choose your own expletive)...

I think Tesco should police it, slap fines or clamps on offenders, or have an attendant (like they do at Waitrose in Dorking)...

14 June, 2010


...Flyingpops just sent an update, they have a general fault in our area, engineer call cancelled, they expect it all to be up and running before I get home from London... ;)

Off the Grid...

...just to bring you up to date, someone has trodden on our tubes (or something) and our internets have got all clogged up at home...naughty cable provider (Virgin) can't get an engineer out to us until *Thursday* (bleugh!!!), so updates (especially by Flyingpops) to all the various social media services we are hopelessly addicted to may be rather limited...

11 June, 2010

World Cup update...

...to this post...all the TVs in the office are turned on, and tuned to the action (volume extremely quiet, but audible)...

Now unable to turn and avoid football...wondering if this was anterior motive for said object's installation earlier in the year... ;)

Finks Links #99(!)

Friday (again)! 99 internet posts on the wall, 99 internet posts, if one of those posts should happen to fall...(I'd probably better stop right there)...la la la! ;)

First up (sorry about it being in dollars, but the principle is sound) the shortest possible game of Monopoly (21 seconds, believe it or not)...

...and at all other times, for that matter...

Super Mario Street Art...

You simply cannot be serious...Farmville water??

How to react in an emergency...

War, poverty and disease all used to make me utterly despair for the human race...

Tallest mountain to deepest trench (want a copy of this on the bathroom door)... ;)

Chances of being called a "fag" by a total stranger...

Surface area required to power the entire planet with solar power...

...and finally Nigeria vs Germany (whoops!)...

Have an awesome weekend...! ;)

10 June, 2010

World Cup Office Watching Policy

I remember back when I was contracting at GE during the World-Cup-before-last (2002 was it?) in order to avoid staff calling in sick during their countries matches (it was a huge, multi-national team) *all* the matches were shown in the office...various groups of people would scuttle excitedly off to one of the TV equipped meeting rooms from where (for 90-odd minutes) there would emerge a string of swearwords and expressions of joy in various languages (terribly educational) followed by either a miserable procession back, scarves trailing behind (followed by lunch at the pub) or whooping, hugging and flag waving (followed by lunch at the pub)...

I'm not *entirely* sure what's going to happen here in my office, but one thing did spring to mind (not being a great fan of football)...if the England matches (at the least) are put onto the TVs that hang off our office walls, doesn't this set some sort of precedent for grounds of discrimination against other world sporting events? Am I not supporting "England" (in a way) by following Jenson Button on the Friday practice in the F1? Okay, bad example...but what about those fans of other international sports that happen to take place during the week? Or those workers that aren't fans of any sport in particular and are completely left out in the cold to answer everyone else's telephone?

There's no easy answer as to exactly what the *right* way to handle this is... <:S

In other news, I drew Brazil in the office sweepstake... ;)

09 June, 2010

Thomas at Ten Months

Wow, not long now and we'll be celebrating Thomas' first birthday (for which we are contemplating a big family BBQ - assuming the weather improves)! The time has just absolutely *flown*...considering how tiny and helpless he was when he first appeared, the change in this extremely short period of time is (to say the least) pronounced...He is now fully mobile, crawling at the speed of light and able to pull himself to standing on any available object, including my legs-
Bracing against Daddy's legs
- when he makes it to a bit of furniture then he does what is known among the baby community as "cruising" along (obviously not in any sort of gay/swinging way), carefully navigating corners between objects (his success rate is about 98%, falls are extremely rare, only really happening if something unexpectedly moves) relatives have confidently announced he'll be walking unaided before his birthday (and when that happens it won't be Baby Thomas any more, but Toddler Thomas)...
Thomas "cruising" around the furniture
This, unfortunately, means that everything that had to be moved up out of harms way for crawling has now had to be moved up yet *again* (or hidden behind big cushions) as his reach is pretty impressive...he can help himself to any food and drink put before him (lifting the cup up himself to drink) and he now has six incredibly sharp teeth (when he isn't teething he is happy to brush himself with his little toothbrush) -
Baby Thomas - Six Teeth
- which he uses with lethal efficiency to chew everything up...he understands "No" if you put enough vocal force behind it (he will look at you, judge your level of seriousness, and then stop and turn around if he is after something he knows he shouldn't be), he understands "Want to come up?" (and gets excited about it), Dances to music (an adorable little jiggle), has learned that if he puts his finger (or food) into his mouth when he is talking and wiggles it about that it sounds funny...oh and the last new thing (that occurs to me as I write this) is that he has had his first little bruise (actually, it's quite impressive that he made it all the way to ten months old before managing to hurt himself in any meaningful way!), caused by collision with a table leg as he tried to pull himself up on it - we had lots of miserable tears followed by a great big bump on his head (which went down as quickly as it came up) followed by a straight line mark in the shape of the offending object...he didn't go near the table again after that, so at least he learned his lesson... ;)

Let's see what happens next! :)

08 June, 2010

Holmbush Farm World - review

You know, it's funny the sort of things you start to really look forward to having assumed the role of parent (that otherwise would have ranked somewhere around "*shrug* - if you like" in personal interest stakes)...so I actually fell out of bed (treading, painfully, on a plug) quite eagerly when Thomas started calling for me at 7am on Sunday morning...then hobbling downstairs to make breakfast and packed lunch whispering to Thomas about all the animals we were going to see (his excited response being to repeatedly slap me on the cheek and ear with his free arm saying "T", "T", "T")...

When we got there (about twenty minutes after opening), alarm bells *should* have sounded at the sight of a *completely* empty car park (most of these other sort of attractions usually sporting some sort of queue) -
Holmbush Farm World
- but put it down to the bad weather forecast and glancing up at the merciless sun (grimly pulling on his balaclava and picking up his Kalashnikov) smeared Thomas with factor 50 (which he didn't seem to mind too much) and swore quietly during my fruitless search in the back of the car for a hat...
Holmbush Farm World
Anyway, when Flyingpops' friend Susan arrived (our companion for the day), we headed off over to the "Farm World" entrance -
Holmbush Farm World
- where we coughed up £6.50 each (for the adults), Thomas was free (being arguably "too young to really appreciate it" - although his smiles and pointing, of course, reveal quite the contrary to be the case in actuality)...slightly older kids would have cost £5.75, or it's £23 for a family ticket, so not "Chessington" expensive, but certainly not a cheap day out...

Anyway, a tour - Right inside the entrance is the cafe/gift shop -
Holmbush Farm World
Holmbush Farm World
- which were merely functional, a fairly good soft play area -
Holmbush Farm World
- not a patch on Donyngs though, and then it's out to a little courtyard where the "Hay Maze" is -
Holmbush Farm World
- which actually is just a pile of hay bales and some interestingly shaped logs -
Holmbush Farm World
- across the way from which is the entrance to the barn, where there are a number of bored or sleeping animals (but you can get extremely close) -
Holmbush Farm World
Holmbush Farm World
Holmbush Farm World
Holmbush Farm World
- a number of mini tractors -
Holmbush Farm World
- a timed (11.00am sharp) cow milking demonstration, but there was no explanation, nor anywhere to comfortably sit or stand to watch...
Holmbush Farm World

Outside in the field, there is probably the best attraction in the place, two *huge* inflatable pillows -
Holmbush Farm World
Holmbush Farm World
- which Thomas wasn't so sure about (but I can see how much he will enjoy them once he's walking/jumping properly) and a very exciting adventure playground with a wild west theme -
Holmbush Farm World
- you can see it in the background on that shot if you zoom in, I didn't seem to get a shot of it for some reason, and a timed (11.30am sharp) tractor ride -
Holmbush Farm World
- which *very* cheekily was an extra 80p each -
Holmbush Farm World
Holmbush Farm World
- and drove us past a wholesale fencing retailer and some sheep -
Holmbush Farm World
- and that was it...the entire place had been *completely* exhausted in just over one hour...! Quite who decided that the name "Farm World" was appropriate I'm not sure, but obviously their world is rather small and has fairly little in it to entertain them...

So, my advice would be - go to a different farm (there are loads around here with much more to see and do) unless your kids are very happy doing imaginative play (on their own) for hours in a large adventure playground while you look on...as they certainly won't be learning very much about farming or livestock...

Anyway, more pictures here, if you like this sort of thing... ;)

07 June, 2010

Donyngs Redhill Soft Play

Just realised I forgot to post about this...last Saturday, no, not the one just gone, the one before that, in a welcome break from Saturday Morning Baby Swimming, Flyingpops and I took Thomas to Donyngs sports centre in Redhill for "soft" play (as opposed to what, I'm not quite sure I want to consider)...admittedly he's not quite old enough to *really* do much of it himself, but (like his mum) he's a great one for people-watching and spends a lot of the time ignoring the fact that you've put him on a slide and just stares with fascination at the toddler 20 yards away crashing a scoot along car into one of their friends shins...
Donyngs - Soft Play
Oddly Thomas actually gets in free, even though the entire experience is sort of angled for his benefit, it's Mummy and Daddy who need to pay entrance (although it's only a couple of quid, so I shouldn't moan)...

Anyway, he had a go on everything, after some initial reservations -
Donyngs - Soft Play
- he got into the spirit of the "Ball pool" -
Donyngs - Soft Play
- had a little go in one of the (many) little cars -
Donyngs - Soft Play
- did some mountaineering -
Donyngs - Soft Play
- had a sit on the "no adults" (boo!) bouncy castle -
Donyngs - Soft Play
- and did some exploring (quite happy to wander off from us by about ten meters before realising how far away he had got and crawling quickly back chattering loudly)-
Donyngs - Soft Play
- and then we stopped for a drink and a snackie (we all needed some cold water as it's incredibly hot in there), even though it was raining, the doors were wide open and four *huge* fans were blowing...
Donyngs - Soft Play
...I can see this becoming a regular thing, especially as Thomas gets steadier on his little feet... ;)

06 June, 2010