Wednesday, May 31, 2006

 

Inspirational blog

Serai's blog has been the source of memage and inspiration today.

Firstly, and something some of you may have seen already, was this item, which is thoroughly frightening but in a roundabout way reminded me of something which has been amusing us about Audrey lately.


She's been asking for her own bra! I guess she's seen Mummy put on and remove hers enough times to know that it's part of her daily clothing ensemble and something that she's missing. Obviously we've been telling her that she'll have one when she's good and ready, but also that it's going to be some time yet before she will need one. She seems to have taken that response in her stride! I guess this is our first foray with Audrey into her own sexual discovery of her body. It kind of catches you off guard but it did make us chuckle. Also, I think she's got a few boyfriends on the go at playgroup. I don't know, two and half and she's already asking for bra's and playing the field!

Secondly, that meme:-

1.) What kind of weather has the greatest effect on you?
Sunny and warm - I am definitely solar powered.

2.) Name a place that has had a lasting effect on your life.
Easter Island - Amazing, beautiful, haunting place with an incredible history.

3.) Someone you know personally who has inspired you.
My English teacher from school, David Stooke. English classes shouldn't be this much fun, should they?!

4.) Someone you don't know personally who has inspired you. ( celebrity, or writer etc )
Wil Wheaton - if it weren't for him I doubt I'd have started this blog.

5.) Which element do you feel most attuned to ( Earth, Wind, Fire, Water )
Earth

6.) Choose a colour you feel is inspirational to you.
Purple (no, Serai, I'm not copying for the sake of it)

7.) An event that changed the way you see yourself.
Deciding to move to Canada

8.) A film that really made you think.
Donnie Darko

9.) A book that really made you think.
One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest

10.) Name a song whose lyrics have inspired you.
"True Faith" - New Order (I dunno, I don't find songs inspire me exactly, but this is probably as close as it gets and LOOK, it's not Pet Shop Boys!)

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

 

Another Birthday!

It's just non stop birthdays in May - so many in fact that I haven't mentioned some of them here on my blog. Not because I'm a meanie or anything, but I have my reasons...

Anyway, this one goes out to my sister-in-law! What is it this year? 21 again?! ;-p

Happy Birthday!
Hope you have a wonderful day
and we'll see you REALLY REALLY soon!!!! Eeeeek!



 

Pay no attention, I'm having a bad day

The long weekend kind of passed me by. I'd had a cold from about the middle of last week and it seemed to be not too bad and I thought it would go without causing too much trouble. Then on Saturday it hit me like a ton of bricks.

On Saturday afternoon I napped, which I hate doing because I feel awful afterwards. Then I did it again on Sunday and Monday afternoons as well. On Monday we went to my parents for the day and I felt really grim. My limbs ached, my head was pounding and I was pretty close to calling the whole thing off. As it turned out I might as well not have been there. I just made it through until the end of lunch before I hit the sack for the rest of the afternoon. I roused myself for a cup of tea at the end of the afternoon before we packed up and headed home.

Then this morning I felt like I had swallowed a packet of razor blades! Oh joy! I actually thought what a fine idea it would be to Google "throat razor blades" to see what comes up thinking maybe there'd be a nice photo I could use for this blog. Some of the images I found were completely baffling though. Exactly what is the connection between razor blades in the throat and a busty blonde woman in red lingerie? Not that I was complaining but it was a little peculiar. Anyway, I thought better of it, and have decided to keep this entry picture free!

Today has been pretty blah. I think I'm being punished in my last full week of work by having a slew of annoying customers gang up on me. What is more irritating is that most of them don't speak English. I'm usually quite tolerant of people wanting to retain their culture and language, but please for crying out loud speak to me in a language that makes sense to me when you are directly dealing with me! I hate having to repeat myself and I hate it even more when I have a sore throat. It's a wonder any of these people manage to make a living!

I'm just really fed up right now, sick of being sick, so I'm pretty intolerant of anyone who isn't going to humour me. So you lot had better bloody humour me, right?!


Sunday, May 28, 2006

 

How to alienate your readership...

I realise Friday's post wasn't for everyone.

That's why I used to love MyBlogSite. It had lots of *sections* within my blog so I could review films, books, music or whatever I wanted without having to force people to see them...I could casually mention there was a new post about such and such over on one of those sections, and if anyone wanted to, they could go look. I know I could create new separate blogs to create the same effect, but trust me, it WONT be the same to me. Six months on and I still miss MyBlogSite. *sigh*

I hadn't mentioned it before but I've had a cold pretty much all week. It's been a bit on and off - I can go for hours feeling fine, then suddenly I become inseparable from a box of Kleenex. The other night I felt crap at first then went to bed at some unGodly hour but felt brilliant, then woke up feeling like death warmed up again. Weird.

It's also taken a lot out of me. For two days in a row I've had to nap in the afternoon. This is most unlike me - I hate afternoon napping, because I always wake up feeling worse than I did when I went to sleep, but the last two days I just hit a wall and had to give into it. This afternoon I awoke with a weird tingle in my teeth which I still have one hour later - I'd obviously been grinding them and it's totally grossing me out.

Stressed? Moi?! Never!

The weekend has been uneventful so far but we do have a day off tomorrow which will be nice. Yet another four day week after that, and then one more Monday of work before I am officially done work!!! Suddenly I feel desperately disorganised again!

Yesterday I mowed the front lawns for the first time since we moved here a year a go. If you saw them you'd know why I'd put it off. Most of it is steep embankment and somewhat treed. Anyway, Martha tackled a little bit of it, and I polished off maybe the remaining two thirds. Nasty nasty nasty! Pushing a heavy lawnmower up and down a steep bank isn't fun. Stepping in dog poo isn't fun. Slamming your right elbow into the metal front gate while trying to start the mower isn't fun - oh yeah, THAT'S gonna bruise - I may post pictures!

Anyway, time to crack on with the rest of my day. Wishing you all a good week ahead!

Byee!

Friday, May 26, 2006

 

Friday music rant!

Thanks again to everyone who posted well wishes yesterday. We had a lovely evening out, ate way too much and to be honest when we got home we vegetated for a bit before going to bed...

...to sleep. My body could definitely cope better with rich food and alcohol 9 years ago, or maybe I'm just out of practice.

Martha spent the remainder of the evening playing Everybody's Golf on her PSP, so after a quick surf I sat down to properly read the CD inserts from the new Pet Shop Boys album, "Fundamental". Martha's already defeated the object of my post about it from a few days ago - she admitted she's listened to "some" of the album, but skipped a lot of tracks having only listened to them part way through. Is it just me or does that defeat the object of listening to music, especially if it's something new?

Anyway, I'm still loving "Fundamental" and also the Limited CD "Fundamentalism" (Ann, if you're serious about buying it, I suggest you get the Limited Edition, it's worth the few extra £'s). It's also got me thinking about a post I did waaaaaaay back in the infancy of my blog about New Order's last album "Waiting For the Sirens Call".

When I heard "...Sirens Call" for the first time I hated it - I was so disappointed. I really like New Order and a bit like PSB's, their songs from their heyday of the 80's and early 90's are probably what most people think of - "Blue Monday", "True Faith", "Fine Time" and "World in Motion" (argh, just kidding!), but their later albums have some equally brilliant tracks. They went off the rails a bit with the album "Get Ready" in my humble opinion, but even still it had some fabulous songs on it. "...Sirens Call" was hailed as a mighty comeback as good as their album "Technique" which is truly an amazing record - one of the few albums I can listen to from start to finish without skipping a track - so expectations for the new album were high.

It took me six FULL listens to truly appreciate "...Sirens Call". I told myself that I had to persevere with it, and not "do a Martha" and skip mid-track, but fully immerse myself into the album. Angryrobot did a fine job of describing how he does this in this article. With me and "...Sirens Call" there was this sudden moment of clarity, of being transported back to a time when New Order were undeniably at the pinnacle of their career, and it just all made sense. I'm not going to pretend that "...Sirens Call" is as good as "Technique", but for me it is certainly snapping at it's heels. It's extremely hard to explain this process, but by understanding the bands former greatness and transposing that understanding to their new material, adjusted my mentality towards the music.

It's with this in mind that I'm listening to "Fundamental" and the process seems to be working. The fact that I never actually disliked "Fundamental" from its first listen is a head start I suppose, but as I said a few days ago, it didn't seem to hang together terribly well. I still stand by that comment, but it's gradually coming together. I refuse to skip tracks even though I have solid favourites that I could listen to on repeat without any qualms at all. I want to give the songs I don't enjoy so much a fair crack of the whip, and by God, if it takes me 6, 8 or 10 listens to "get it" that's what I'm going to do. Angryrobot is right. You have to find the "listening angle", roll and rotate the songs in your head like a jigsaw puzzle until they fit. If you don't listen to the songs you'll never even stand a chance of understanding it.

Hear my proclamation! It's not piracy that's killing music, it's the flaming "skip" button! Grrr!

Also, for those interested in New Order, here's a related link which hopefully will prove interesting in the coming weeks/months courtesy of the Angryrobot.


Thursday, May 25, 2006

 

Party poppers and champagne!

Today is a double celebration.

Firstly it's my mother's birthday. Unfortunately I wont see her today because she's "up north" with Dad having a long weekend break with my sister. She's a wonderful Mum, and yes, I admit I am a mummys boy deep down. We've talked about all kinds of stuff and she's always been really supportive, even if she hasn't always been 100% understanding. That's fine - I don't mind agreeing to disagree. She's a Gemini through and through and can have a split personality at times. It is from her I get my rather nasty temper!

Anyway, although you probably wont see this,


Happy Birthday Mum! I love you!


Secondly, today is our wedding anniversary!

Martha and I have been married 9 years today! This anniversary is an especially good one for reflection as it was nearly nine years ago to the day that Martha received her visa to come to live with me in the UK and we moved all her belongings over here. Now here we are about to make the same trip in reverse at almost the exact same time of year. Spooky!

She'll probably bless me for posting this photo from the big day, especially since she wont be able to get her grubby mitts on it to retouch it in Photoshop first, but I think it's sweet - you can tell from the scan that it's a bit worn - that's because it stays in my wallet all the time along with a few other personal photos. I loved Martha's long hair from back then - you really should grow it back darling!


We shall be celebrating tonight with a meal out at our favourite Italian restaurant while Audrey gets the babysitting treatment. That definitely calls for a light lunch and a loosening of the belt! (no jokes about loosening belts after the meal please, although I live in hope!)

I love you Martha! Happy Anniversary sweetheart!


Wednesday, May 24, 2006

 

Brokeback Bunnies

If you're looking for the post about me running over a pedestrian it's underneath this.

Saw this online today and nearly sprayed hot chocolate over the monitor! I haven't even seen the movie, but this is hilarious!

Brokeback Bunnies

 

The Pedestrian, the Driver, his Witness and her Brother

Last nights meme prompted a few people to ask WTF I was doing running someone over, and I promised I would tell the story. It really isn't as bad as it sounds when you hear the whole thing and could have been a LOT worse.

It was about 10 or 11 years ago, before I was married, and at that time I drove a red Mini Sprite like the one pictured here. I still lived at home with my parents and usually I would go into work with them in their car, but on this particular day they were not going to the office so I had to drive myself.


About two miles from home there is a town called Henley-in-Arden, which has a busy high street which is best avoided weekday mornings and evenings at rush hour, but there is a road which bypasses most of it through a residential area and the towns railway station. It's a well known and well used rat run, and of course I used it. Being a residential road it's speed limit is 30mph and as it's a fairly windy road it's really quite impossible to speed on it, so before anyone asks, I wasn't speeding!

Also, before I continue, it's worth pointing out to N.American readers that here in the UK, if you weren't aware, we drive on the LEFT!

Anyway, as I approached the railway station, I noticed a woman, about my age, walking down the embankment to the pavement (sidewalk) evidently having come from a train and on her way to work. Now, maybe some of you have experienced this feeling, but in a split second several thoughts happened in my head.

Firstly I thought "She's going to want to cross the road."

Then I thought "She's not actually looking to see if there's any traffic!"

Then I thought "She's not going to stop at the side of the road!"

Then I thought "Oh crap, she's stepped out into the road, I think I'd better swerve now!"

And so as she blithely jaywalked in front of me, I slammed on the brakes and spun the wheel to the right as hard as I could, bearing in mind there was a car coming in the opposite direction as well.

There was a screech of tyres, then a thud. The left headlamp casing of the bonnet (hood) of my car hit her sideways on, and her head slammed into it before she fell to the ground.

Words can't describe how sick I felt at that moment. I got out of my car and the car that had been coming the opposite way stopped and a woman got out of it and came running up. The woman I had hit got up, which in itself was a huge relief, and quite naturally was somewhat dazed. After much fussing about whether she was alright, and her inistence that she was fine, it was agreed that she really should get checked out by a doctor, and it was agreed that I would run her up to the local GP.

The woman I hit was apologising profusely at how stupid she'd been to walk out into the road without even looking and that it was all her fault. I kept fairly quiet - I didn't want to make assumptions although I knew well enough that she was right. Then the woman in the other car, the one and only witness, turned to me and said "Are you OK too Gavin?"

Up to that point this woman had been a complete stranger to me, but she evidently knew exactly who I was. She obviously spotted my confusion, but didn't say any more and just took my phone number and said she'd call me later. Truly bizarre.

Anyway, I ran the woman I hit up to the doctors and waited until she had been checked out. They told her she had a concussion and should report back if she felt sick or dizzy - the usual stuff. We exchanged details and then I was on my way to work with a lovely head-shaped dent in my car.

Work was a bit of a haze after that but mid afternoon I got a call from the local police summoning me in to give a statement. The woman I had hit had been told by her colleagues that she really should report the incident regardless of whether she was in the right or wrong. To be honest it had never occurred to me to contact the police about it although in retrospect I probably should have as well.

I left work early and presented myself at the Henley-in-Arden police station, which ironically is on the very road where the accident happened, and I gave a statement about what had occurred and had to draw a little picture as well. The police told me that the woman had claimed total responsibility for the accident and that they were satisified I hadn't broken and rules of the road, so there was a BIG sigh of relief for me there!

When I got home it wasn't long before the phone rang. It was the witness woman who knew me and she explained that it had been a number of years since I'd seen her and she wasn't surprised that I didn't realise who she was. It turned out witness woman was the daughter of a close neighbour, and when I was younger I had for a time hung out with her brother. I'd never have recognised her in a million years and probably wouldn't even now. Anyway, she asked me if everything was OK and said that if I needed a witness statement she'd back me up. She'd seen the whole thing and verified that the woman had not even remotely looked at where she was going and strolled right out in front of my car. It's quite a relief to hear that, because until then I was still full of doubt about what had actually happened.

Shortly afterwards the woman I had hit called too. Again she apologised and offered to pay for the damage to my car. To be honest I was just so relieved that she was OK that I told her not to worry about it - perhaps in retrospect that was a mistake, but when dabbling with human life you don't really care about the cost of fixing up a dented bonnet. That was the last I ever heard from her and shortly after I got the car fixed up good as new.

I don't usually count myself as a lucky person, but I think you'll agree, in the end luck was on everyones side on that day.


Tuesday, May 23, 2006

 

Try saying Meme without saying 'Mmmm'

I realise not all of you are interested in my review of the latest Pet Shop Boys CD, so I give you a meme stolen from My Utopia...

1) Grab the book nearest to you, turn to page 18, and find line 4.
How-? Yes.'

2) Stretch your left arm out as far as you can and see what you touch.
The computer printer

3) What is the last thing you watched on TV?
House of Tiny Tearaways

4) Without looking, guess what time it is.
10.00pm

5) Now look at the clock. What is the actual time?
9.55pm (I was impressed!)

6) With the exception of the computer, what can you hear?
The TV - a documentary about David Beckham - *yawn!*

7) When did you last step outside? What were you doing?
From my car to the front door when I came home

8) Before you started this survey, what did you look at?
My Utopia's blog - I hurried right here to do this!

9) What are you wearing?
Jeans and green long sleeve shirt

10) Did you dream last night?
Sadly no - I like dreams but rarely have/recall them

11) When did you last laugh?
About an hour ago, I don't even recall why...probably something to do with Audrey.

12) What is on the walls of the room you are in?
Nothing - just ugly cream coloured wallpaper

13) Seen anything weird lately?

Yes, an advert on TV for Carling beer about 20 seconds ago.

14) What was the last book you read?
Make Love - The Bruce Campbell Way

15) What is the last film you saw?
A History of Violence

16) If you became a multi-millionaire overnight, what would you buy?

Nice car and house probably, once I've set up my nearest and dearest.

17) Tell us something about you that we don't know.
I once ran someone down in my car (it sounds worse than it really was by the way!)

18) If you could change one thing about the world, regardless of guilt or politics, what would you do?
I'd dump George Bush and Tony Blair in the mountains of Afghanistan and take bets on how long they'd last.

19) Do you like to dance?
Properly or like me Dad? I'd probably opt for neither!

20) George Bush

I think I already inadvertently answered that...give me Kate over George any day.

21) Imagine your first child is a girl, what do you call her?
Imagine? I don't need to imagine that - we have Audrey Jane!


22) Imagine your first child is a boy, what do you call him?
At the risk of annoying my wife, potential personal favourite boys names included Noah and Jacob.

23) Would you ever consider living abroad?
Umm, have you read my blog recently?

 

Pet Shop Bore

OK, I admit it, I'm a bit of a music wuss.

Rarely will I go out on a limb and say I like a song unless I know that the people I'm talking about it with will agree with me to some extent. I don't like confrontation, so I guess that's my way of avoiding it when it comes to music - I simply don't talk about it unless I am sure the other person is going to agree with me. I think this feeling of restraint has happened over time. On discovering a song I really REALLY like, I then hear people relentlessly making fun of it. The end result is I clam up, and try to enjoy the music alone, but invariably the comments embed themselves to my memory and then ruin the song for me too.

Am I being silly or too touchy about this? I don't know, but I've always thought that I had a healthy respect for music, no matter what the genre or artist, and even if I don't like it (and say I don't like it) the last thing I would do is make fun of it.

Fortunately, thanks to the relative anonymity of blogland, I have rebuilt some of the damage that's been done over the years, by allowing myself to talk openly about my musical tastes and sporadically mentioning current songs that I've been enjoying, some of which I would never publicly admit to liking for fear of getting jeered at.

Told you I was a wuss!

So with that in mind you can now hear me out about the new Pet Shop Boys album "Fundamental". I've listened to it a couple of times now, and Martha has a copy which I presume she will listen to over the next day or so. I was, in my wussy way, going to wait until I'd got her opinions on the songs before I said anything, but realised that would quite possibly make a difference to my current views of the songs, so I've decided to say what I like about it, what I don't like about it, and why, without any outside views colouring my opinions.


My initial reaction to it yesterday on it's first play was that it was patchy. There are some undeniably terrific tracks here, certainly on a par with songs like "It's a Sin" from way back in their heyday. A complete return to form it is not though, although I sense there are some definite growers. Stand out tracks are "Minimal", "I'm With Stupid", "The Sodom and Gomarrah Show" and "Integral" (which is an absolute thumper of a track).

I'm not a big fan of slow songs, and Fundamental is riddled with them almost to the point of ruining the pace of the whole album. The weakest link is a track called "Luna Park", but songs like "Casanova in Hell" and "Numb" (which is not a PSB song actually) are nice little slow numbers which, after listen number two, I know will grow on me over time. I suspect my initial reaction to the album being patchy will change as a result of this.

Ever present as always in Pet Shop Boys songs are the thoughtful lyrics, which as the critics have said are probably their most political ever, dealing (loosly or directly) with the Bush/Blair relationship ("I'm with Stupid"), immigration ("Indefinite Leave to Remain"), and ID cards ("Integral"). What you're never entirely sure about with the Pet Shop Boys is how direct these references are. The lyrics are always just obscure enough to allow them to fit in with other, non political, scenarios. I've always liked the schizophrenic nature of their work - the song "I Made My Excuses and Left" works equally well for someone who is male, female, straight or gay. The fact that it is written and sung by someone who is gay is the only real reason to assume it's not about a straight male - apart from that it's a completely universal song.

What is, thankfully, missing from Fundamental is the style of song the Pet Shop Boys had seemingly got stuck in a rut with for a number of years - that's to say songs like the Village People anthem "Go West" and the copycat "New York City Boy". I've nothing against these tracks per se, but it had got to the point that every PSB album seemed to have one of these types of song on it, almost as if it was a requirement. It's nice to see they've not fallen into that trap this time around which makes the album sound fresh and different even though it certainly has a much more retro feel to it akin to some of their earlier work. The critics weren't far wrong when they compared this to their previous albums like "Very" and "Behaviour", although I don't think this album hangs together as a whole package quite as well as those two albums.

Overall, it's a good new album from the PSB's, and although there are definite glimpses of brilliance, as a whole it's still not in the same league as their finest moments from back in the 80's and early 90's.


Monday, May 22, 2006

 

Leap of Faith

Another work blog. Martha's starting to think I do nothing all day but muck about on the internet. I'll ignore that slur on my reputation as a hard working individual and move on...

The chap who came to see my mates Sinclair C5 was suitably impressed. He reckoned it was in great condition in spite of the deflated tyres and flat batteries. We've certainly never had so many people watching an eBay item, so I'm really hoping we get a good price for it.

Today's the release date for the new Pet Shop Boys album "Fundamental" and as we speak there are three copies (yes, count them!) of it inside my car just crying out to be listened to on my drive home. One is the bog standard CD release, the second is a Limited Edition with a 2nd CD of remixes and new tracks called "Fundamentalism" (no points for originality then!) and the third is the album on vinyl. Did I mention I was a fanboy?

I suspect in due course I will be passing judgment on the album right here, not that many of you will be interested. However, reviews I've read seem to suggest it's one of their best albums for a good while. I'm a tough fan to please, so we'll wait and see.

And finally...

Audrey said something cute this weekend. On the evenings we give her a bath I usually end up drying her on the guest bed and putting on her pajamas. After that she will grab my hands and jump off the bed (which is not far short of her full height). Rightly or wrongly, I have lately been encouraging her to jump off holding only one of my hands, and although initially reticent to do so, she's now become quite keen on this new freefall thrill.

My initial thinking behind this was to encourage her to do more jumping into the pool at swimming because, with the exception of the water to break her fall, the heights are roughly the same. Anyway, last night I decided to take it to the next stage and see if she would jump without holding my hands at all. This doesn't sound so daft when you realise she's lately been jumping by herself from a small step across a fairly wide gap onto one of our sofas, so I figured this was a natural progression.

She stood on the side of the bed and as usual held her hand out to me to steady her. I told her that I wasn't going to do that today and that she should try jumping off alone. She looked gingerly over the edge of the bed and back at me and her bottom lip wobbled.

"No Daddy, want to jump with one hand!"

Again I said "No" and encouraged her to try jumping off alone and assured her I would be there to catch her. Her lip wobbled some more and you could tell she was on the verge of tears.

"But Daddy," she remonstrated, "I will hurt myself!"

Aww! Well after that premonition I wasn't going to push it, so I held out one hand and she quite happily jumped off. I barely give her any support with the one hand so she's virtually jumping off the bed alone anyway but I guess she's not quite ready for that yet.


Saturday, May 20, 2006

 

Just passing the time...

Taking the opportunity to write a blog while I can. Martha's gone to bed early and I had a short nap this afternoon which has left me feeling more awake than I should be.

Today's been much like any other Saturday. We did groceries, went swimming - which went really well this week. We had a new instructor and she was really good, kept the session well structured with some new exercises which the kiddies really enjoyed. At the end I had to tell them we weren't going to be signing up for future sessions because of our move. We've a few more weeks of swimming to go, but we prepay for the sessions and today would have been the day. I really hope we can continue to go swimming with Audrey in Canada, although I suspect she's got enough water confidence now that she'll be fine if it's some time before we do it again.

This afternoon I entertained Audrey while Martha went to the opticians for a check-up, so Play-Doh and drawing was in order. After that I had my quick nap and we decided to get fish and chips for supper. Audrey came with me, and fell asleep on the way there so I ended up taking her into the shop asleep on my shoulder, then carrying her back to the car in one arm with my bag of takeaway in the other. She was still napping when we got home so Martha and I had supper together which was quite a novelty.

During "Doctor Who" Audrey woke up, and we kept her up later than normal. Even still she didn't settle to sleep for ages. We watched a short interview on TV with the Pet Shop Boys and then minced around for the rest of the evening.

That's it - tomorrow is another day as they say. We have someone coming to look at a friends Sinclair C5 which we've been storing for him for years, and is now on eBay. We've got a bunch of stuff on there right now and we need to make a list of all the electrical goods we want to sell off before we go.

Still got lots to do, and still not seeing the light at the end of the tunnel...

Friday, May 19, 2006

 

Happy Birthday to me, I think...

Blimey guv'ner! Is it the weekend already?! There was me thinking that being the first full week I've worked for a while it would drag our something awful and it's just zoomed by. That's great in many respects, but bad in so far as I've acheieved very little this week as well.

I keep meaning to check when it was I started my blog because I think I just missed it's 1 year anniversary. I distinctly remember writing an entry last year about our wedding anniversary, and with that just around the corner, I'm certain it was around about this time last year that I started my humble blog on MyBlogSite.

A lot has changed since then...I've tried Livejournal, moved to Blogger, attempted to upload movies and audio posts with some success. I've participated in Half-Nekkid Thursday and met in real life and chatted online with new people directly as a result of my blog. Some people (for whatever insane reason) have stuck with me, and others have disappeared - in most cases I think thats been because of a lack of common ground, and that's fine. There's no point in hanging around my blog if you're not interested in me, my life or what I have to say.

Anyway, six or seven months on from changing to Blogger I'm still unsure about whether to stay with it. I'm enjoying Livejournal a lot and I think I'll be giving it some serious thought over the coming weeks about moving my blog there permanently - I think it may rely on me getting a paid account though, as I need more features to really allow myself to tailor it to the way I want it.

Well, whenever it was, Happy Birthday to my blog! May it continue to evolve and grow!


Thursday, May 18, 2006

 

Tell me when you plan to shoot so I can duck!

Ooh, so many things going on in my head today! I've actually got a humdinger of a headache, but I think that might be a cold coming on.

I've been mincing around all morning at work trying to get to grips with this darn list of things to create a "Guide to Gabby's Job". Every time I start on something I look blankly at the screen and realise it's just not that simple. I can't write a list of bullets on everything I do, because when you start down a particular line of my work it's like going down a rabbit hole, with so many permutations, it'll end up a complete mess if I even try. Add to that that I use various applications to aid me in my work, some of which my colleagues don't use themselves, it means giving them all a crash course in those as well. No wonder my head is pounding.

The other thing about this list that is really ticking me off as well are the jobs that are stupidly easy they shouldn't even be asking me how to do them. Take for example completing an Airwaybill for consignments going by air. Maybe to some of you that sounds ominous...trust me, a retarded chimpanzee could do it. It's a form...you fill it in...job done.

Anyway, meanwhile Martha and I are seriously thinking about moving our money from the UK to Canada soon. In the last week or so the Canadian dollar has gone up against the pound, to $2.10 which is the best rate we've had for a good many months and makes a huge difference to the amount of Canadian dollars we'll end up with. I'm not the type to follow the money markets, and I don't understand how to forecast them, but I'm guessing it's about as good as we're likely to get it now, so we probably need to get moving on it. It's a frightening prospect moving all your cash like that, and I just hope the banks don't screw it up...I'm taking bets that they will somehow make a pigs ear out of it.

We've been putting values to our belongings for customs purposes. It makes for interesting reading actually. The stuff you'd expect to place the most value on from the perspective of day to day living is the stuff that has the least value. Get down to the non-essential items like CD's, DVD's and collectible items and you suddenly discover how much money you've got locked away in those ultimately pointless items. Books seem to fare worst out of everything, although doubtless we've got a few hidden gems among them that we're not even aware of.

Anyway, one last thought for today which I realise might cause a ruckus...I hear that Heather McCartney is splitting up with Paul and, honest to God, she never married him for the money! Be that as it may, what on earth did they see in each other in the first place? Anyway, my guess is that Heather saw the light on their recent trip to Canada to campaign against the culling of baby seals, and finally realised what a complete tosser he is.


Wednesday, May 17, 2006

 

I stole a meme!

Nicked from My Utopia

Accent: A mix of Brummie (Birmingham - where people say "YOW" for "You") and SE England posh (where my parents come from).
Book that I like: Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
Chore I don't care for: General housecleaning.
Dog or Cat: If pressed probably dogs, but personally I'd have to say neither.
Essential Electronics: Definitely the computer.
Fragrance (Cologne): Don't wear cologne. Martha wears Chanel's Allure which is lovely though.
Gold or Silver: I wear mostly gold jewellery, but I probably prefer silver for looks.
Handbag I carry most often: How camp! I have a wallet which I never leave home without.
Insomnia: Rarely - usually I have to be VERY worried about something.
Job Title: Import Manager (aka Export Gopher, Computer guru, on call driver, packer and general doormat)
Kids: 1 - but you knew that!
Living Arrangements: Currently renting a 3 bedroom bungalow in S.Leicestershire, on which the lease is about to run out.
Most Admirable Trait: I'm a good listener
Naughtiest Childhood Behavior: Crying every morning because I didn't want to go to school.
Overnight hospital stays: As a baby for pyloric stenosis, then at 12 for tonsillectomy.
Phobias: Corned beef, teeth falling out, breaking a bone.
Quote:
"...they pull a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue. That's the Chicago way..." - Malone (Sean Connery) in movie The Untouchables
Religion: None.
Siblings: One older sister.
Time I wake up: 6.30 but I usually don't get up until 6.45
Unusual Talent or Skill: Nope, can't think of anything...
Vegetable I Refuse to Eat: Broccoli, cauliflower, broad beans...
Worst Habit: Biting my nails.
X-rays: Apart from regular dental ones, the only one I've had was to my left arm for a small shard of metal that got lodged into it. It's still there by the way!
Yummy Stuff I Cook: Pork schnitzels.
Zoo Animal I Like Most: Orangutans or chimpanzees.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

 

Industrial (in)action

I never thought I'd say this, but blogging is becoming a bit of a pain in the backside lately.

It's got more to do with how much stuff we've got to sort out than anything else. There's no time in the evenings to blog, and there's precious little time in the day either (when, yes, I should be working!).

I also feel like I'm starting to sound like a stuck record. There's only so many times I can talk about packing boxes and how I regularly lose the will to do any packing of an evening before every blog entry starts to sound the same...and whats more, it sounds whiney too! I'm leaving on a big adventure, and I sound like a whingy little kid. Who wants to read that?


I think entries will be sporadic from now on, and only mention stuff as and when I feel the need to because every day is becoming much like another right now. However, today I did finally book our container for June 14th...that makes things just a little bit more real now doesn't it!

I've also been given an A4 sheet of paper by a colleague with a list of things he wants me to write "Idiot Guides" for so when I'm gone he can take over my jobs. As if I didn't already have enough to do!!!

What really ticks me is I've been banging on for years about how some people at my work might like to pay a bit more attention to the things I do rather than just "expect" me to staunchly be there for their every pathetic need! Now I'm expected to give them a crash course on my job in four weeks! Hmm, what do you think? How long d'you think it will take me to type up 10 years of experience in the field? I tell you what though, it'll be a sad lookout for me if I really can condense my job into half a dozen short "How to..." guides. Might as well quit now if that's the case!

Anyway, I wasn't planning on this turning into a rant, so I'd better stop! I'll be back when I have something more constructive to say...


EDIT: I forgot to mention that yesterday Audrey had her eyes tested for the first time. I'm pleased to report she was well behaved and there currently seems to be no problems with her vision! Which is a miracle given her immediate family's history!


Sunday, May 14, 2006

 

Weekend roundup

Firstly, to get it out of the way, for all you Doubting Thomas's out there, the new Pet Shop Boys single "I'm With Stupid" was the highest new entry into the UK singles chart this week at No.8 and is their 21st Top 10 single. There's also quite a nice interview with them from The Sunday Times which you can read here. They may not be a worldwide musical force like Madonna or U2, but nobody can deny they're still relevent and making hit after hit.

The weekend has been pretty good, even though swimming got cancelled and the nearly-new sale was a bit of a disappointment. We had two large boxes of goodies, one with mostly clothes and the other with toys. The toys sold really well, but we came back with a boxful of clothes almost as full as when we started. Not sure how much money we made yet, but for the effort we put in, we agreed it probably wasn't worth it.

The rest of the weekend was spent just generally mooching around doing weekend type stuff. We only really packed anything this evening. I've got a list of stuff I need to do, mostly phone calls, that I need to sort out this week to tie up loose ends on a few things. Everything still seems to be in a total mess, but I am starting to see that if we put our minds to it, and do a bit of packing every night, we can achieve great things. Tonight has been a good example of that, by packing some framed pictures/photos and still being able to make it to bed at a decent hour (if I can get this blog finished anyway!).

Martha's British citizenship application took a turn for the worse on Friday - she called to see how it was coming along and they reckon it'll be another two months before it's sorted. Not exactly useful since we'll be gone in a month. Anyway, after the initial panic, I've done some lateral thinking, surfed the web and found that, if I'm reading it correctly, her application can be transferred to the British Consulate in Toronto, and when the application is completed she can go to a citizenship ceremoney there. In other words she doesn't NEED to be in the UK to apply for her citizenship anymore - the fact that she's married to me and has lived in the UK for the necessary length of time is enough. Fingers crossed I'm right about that, but it looked right.

Anyway, that's my lot...it's late and I have work tomorrow after a nice long weekend...I'm starting to get used to them, and I think this will be my first five day week in a long while! Tomorrow is going to be hellish, that is for sure, catching up from Friday.

A bientot!

Friday, May 12, 2006

 

A day with my daughter

I should have done a TGI Thursday post yesterday since I had the day off today but it never really crossed my mind that it would be a long weekend for me. Looking after Audrey today was more to do with having to, than wanting to, because our childminder was taking some time off.

Don't get me wrong, I would love to spend more time with Audrey, and today was awesome, but it didn't really feel like a day off in the truest sense of it.

The weather has been gorgeous, only broken by a thunder storm tonight, so we made the most of it by spending time out of doors. We went across to the nearby park which was completely empty and Audrey had fun on the swings and slides there until a bunch of kids from the local playgroup showed up with their minders. Maybe it's just me, but I felt like these women were burning holes in me their eyes - you know, an unshaven bloke in desolate playground with two year old girl, looks real wholesome doesn't it!

Anyway, I carried on regardless and Audrey was enjoying herself. She even decided it was time to leave of her own free will, so there was none of the anguish of having to drag her away from her fun. We wandered back up to the local grocery shop (carried her on my shoulders for most of the way) to purchase a few items. I caved into buying some junk food, including a bottle of Chocolate Fudge Brownie Frijj - *drool*

We walked back home and Audrey picked dandelion clocks along the way and was blowing the seeds off of them.

We got home and had a spot of lunch, and then people showed up to view the house. I'd already promised Audrey we would do some painting outside, and I had big plans to have her do some hand and foot painting and get really messy, so I got a large bedsheet and lay it out on the patio and three paper plates filled with paints, taped a few A3 sheets of paper together to form on big canvas for her, and basically let her go mad. It was great fun and after we'd filled that large sheet and a couple of others, she was happy to get inside for a bath.

The rest of the afternoon was interspersed with playing inside and outside, dependent on Audrey's fancy at any given moment. I pottered around, got supper ready, surfed a little (although Audrey's pretty quick to harass you if you spend too long at the computer).

Anyway, it was all good.

Yesterday Martha went to the doctors to find out how we transfer our medical records. It's actually a simple process but will costs us about £10.00 per person, and we should have a bunch of medical records printed out for us and ready to take away next Tuesday! At least we're getting a few administrative things sorted out now. There's still "much much more to go" as DI Harvey Walden would say in his workout video, but we're getting there slowly but surely.

The Pet Shop Boys "I'm With Stupid" remixes and b-side tracks are now online at various musical outlets (not just iTunes). I've actually made a decision NOT to download them at this time. I already know of an Australian released CD which contains some of them, so I'm hoping it's only a matter of time before I find a CD or bunch of CD's with all the tracks I want on them, thus avoiding the issues I have with downloading music from the web. It's a bold move for me, and my fingers are twitching at the mouse at the thought of not being able to hear these tracks, but as Martha said "You've got to draw the line somewhere" and I think that's exactly what I just did.

Weekend stuff ahead - swimming as usual, but also have this nearly-new sale to contend with too. We're not quite sure how it's all going to pan out right now.

Anyway, hope you all have a good one!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

 

Blah, blah, flippin' blah.

I'm just taking a break from pinning price tags to old baby clothes to do a blog, and finding that I actually have very little to say.

It's been pretty busy lately, although motivation is still low. Work has been more hectic than usual too which makes me even more prone to wanting to just veg out at the end of the day.

I have managed to get my butt in gear on some things though, including making some proper enquiries into booking a container for the move and finding someone to convert our money from sterling to Canadian dollars. The container situation shouldn't be a problem - being in the business helps of course - and I'm hoping to squeeze a discounted rate or at least some flexibility on the free time we're allowed to load the container. Tentative date for loading it is June 14th, three days before we fly.

Thanks to Garry I've seen the light and realised that using my bank to convert my currency is a very very bad idea as they will not give me a decent exchange rate. I've taken on board some recommendations and shopped around, and am hoping to have made the right choice, but we'll see. You can be certain that if things don't go well, I'll be naming and shaming. I already foresee that my bank will kick up a fuss about the amount of money I will be taking out of their hands, so I need to take them to task BEFORE I move it.

Tomorrow I am not at work - hurrah! Our childminder is taking some days off and Martha and I have been taking it in turns to take Audrey while the other goes to work. Today was Martha's turn, and tomorrow is mine. Hopefully the weather will stay fine and we can go up to the playground or do something outside...

Anyway, had better get back to work on this stuff - it wont sell itself!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

 

Sweet, sweet candy!

So today I said farewell to my dentist.

I've been going to the same dental clinic all my life - my mother worked there as a dental nurse, and I've been having regular 6 month check-ups ever since. Whilst I don't have a perfect smile - my teeth are a tad wonky - I'm proud of the fact that I've made it into my 35th year without requiring anything more serious than having my incisors filed. Before that, I would have made a passable vampire. I'm still plagued with mouth ulcers the cause of which I seem unable to get to get to the bottom of, and every dentist I've spoken to has made suggestions which come to nothing, but in the grand scheme of things I'm fortunate to have an *almost* full set of gnashers. I say *almost* because my wisdom teeth are only "part erupted", but they are still there!

I discovered that the dentists don't issue dental records as such, so there's nothing to transfer to Canada, but there again my dental records have nothing to say anyway, so it's of little consequence.

I received my Pet Shop Boys "I'm With Stupid" stuff today...that's to say a CD single, DVD single and 7" vinyl picture disc. This will be the Boys' first "official" vinyl picture disc (which is very surprising considering they were all the rage in the 80's when the band was most popular). What is also funny is the picture disc itself might as well not be one at all - when you look at it, it looks for all the world like a regular black vinyl record with the exception of an approximately two inch high blue arrow on one side and a similar red arrow on the other. I can't help feeling that this is giving the proverbial finger to someone, possibly even "us" the fans. Even so, I find it quite amusing, and as I've said before, I'm a total sucker for packaging, and it comes in a lovely double sleeve as well, so I'm happier than a pig in poo!

At work today the news of my departure was broken to an employee from a company we work quite closely with. His immediate reaction was "Well done!" in a tone intimating that it was clearly a sensible decision to get out of this country before it implodes. It made me feel good to hear that, rather than the usual reaction of shock and surprise I've been getting so far. It's nice to know someone else obviously feels the same way I do about the current state of the UK.

Tonight we're sorting out Audrey's old clothes for a nearly new sale this weekend. Martha's ironing them and I'm cataloging and labelling them. Hopefully we can raise a few pounds for ourselves, but it's a mammoth task and one I should really be getting on with now instead of typing my blog, but I had decided to give myself a break before pricking my tender little fingers with more safety pins.

The bad news is, I have also caved in and drunk a cup of tea tonight. Martha's not helping by being back on the demon leaf again too, and tempting me almost daily with it. It's the slippery slope I tell ya!

Monday, May 08, 2006

 

"Anyone who wanted to could contact me"

* PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT*

I've changed the email settings on my blog.

I've set up a temporary Yahoo email account which I'll use during the course of the move, so if you comment on my blog or want to get in touch with me I should be able to see it assuming I can access a computer - however it's set up to forward emails to our regular home address at the moment anyway.

Anyone who knows our existing UK home email, please note that this HAS NOT been changed and will remain in place until we leave, at which point you should use the Yahoo email address. We'll let you know our new email address once we have one in Canada.

If you've ever wanted our email address or simply want to ensure we tell you our new one when we have it, then now's your chance to get in touch and say so. Contact me or Martha on
gavin_kagan@yahoo.co.uk

* PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT ENDS*

The weekend, just gone, was pretty good.

The weather rermained fine for the most part, even though there was a call for rain, it stayed away when we needed it to.

Just before we took off for swimming on Saturday morning we had a knock on the door from the Jehovah's Witnesses which Martha fielded. After telling them she wasn't interested in their publication, the woman said to Martha "But, don't you want the world to be a better place?" to which Martha replied "Yes, but I still don't want your magazine!" Afterwards Martha and I discussed how they might actually achieve more if they handed out actual bible's (like the Gideons) rather than a crappy magazine. Martha recalled one time when we were in our long distance relationship where I had aquired one of these JW's publications, the front cover of which showed a drawing of a child hugging a panda bear. How sweet! My comment to Martha was that in all likelihood the panda would actually sooner bite the childs head off than be hugged. I can only suspend my disbelief so far! I'd be interested to know if the JW's actually do manage to recruit anyone with their cold call canvassing.

Saturday then rather drifted by, and in the evening after Audrey was in bed, Martha and I didn't feel inclined to do anything about packing a trend which we'd started at the beginning of the week. Instead we sat down to watch "A History of Violence" on DVD.

It's the latest David Cronenberg film, and stars Viggo Mortensen and Maria Bello (so lots of "shwing" factor for viewers of both sexes). The film is pretty good, although in the usual Cronenberg way it's not really outstandingly awesome. I expect a certain level of competent direction and story from Cronenberg which is probably why I like him, but with the possible exception of something more mainstream like "The Fly" his films tend to lack the *wow* factor. This was a bit more "down to earth" than your average Cronenberg movie though - there was no weirdness, or real horror to speak of. Yes, it's a tad bloody and violent in places, but it's plot driven and all with good reason. Whilst I stop short of wholeheartedly recommending Cronenberg movies to all and sundry, his films are always worth a look if you like a bit of weirdness and are not too squeamish. This is one of his less offensive offerings though, so if you're stuck for a DVD to rent one night it might be worth a look.


On Sunday we went across to my parents for lunch. The usual good time was had by all, and we went for a long walk across the fields at the back of their house, with Audrey once again proving she could one day become quite the trekker.

Back at home I set my sights on packing at least one box before the week was out. I figured it would take me about an hour to do one box, and started at 9pm bubblewrapping some picture/photo frames and a chess set. By 11pm I still wasn't finished...it's only ONE measly box! Arrgh!

We have seriously got to get our butts in gear!


Friday, May 05, 2006

 

Lost Weather Weekend

The weekend is here again! I guess a three day week does kind of give a false sense of time speeding along, and will no doubt make next week drag horribly.

For a change we've nothing particularly planned for the weekend. We will probably pop over to my parents for Sunday lunch since they've not seen us for a couple of weeks, but I guess for the rest of the time we'll just have to see how things pan out.

The last couple of days we finally got a glimpse of summer. Yesterday and today have been wonderfully sunny and warm - it's just a shame I spent both of them cooped up in an office! Furthermore the weather looks set to get worse for the weekend, which always seems to be the way of things. A man could start to get paranoid the way the best days always seem to come during weekdays, then the heavens open at the weekends!

I know I'll have some major climate adjustments to contend with in Canada. It's all fine and good having a two week holiday of nothing but heat and sun in the summer, and I even enjoy two weeks holidays of deep snow in the winter too, but either of those for weeks on end - who knows how I'll be with that?! Mind you, I made it through a Canadian winter while I was at University, so I mostly know what to expect - the summer is a bit more of an unknown.

Since I'm struggling for anything worthwhile to say today, let me say a little bit about "Lost", the second season of which has only just begun here in the UK (yes, we're MILES behind you guys in N.America).

I really enjoyed series 1, but I really couldn't give a rats derriere about series 2. Martha watched the first three 2nd season episodes back to back on Tuesday while I typed up my blog, and I barely looked around to see what was going on, I simply didn't care. I got turned off "Lost" almost overnight and didn't see the final two episodes of season 1, probably because I'd already seen a couple of season 2 episodes in Canada which had pretty much spoiled anything they could have said in the 1st season finale.

In seeing those season 2 episodes it also made me realise I'd be in for much of the same as I'd already seen in season 1, and whilst that was all fine and dandy for a while, I really couldn't see myself devoting one hour a week to what seemed to be becoming rather boring and formulaic. Unlike something like "Star Trek" or "The X-Files" there are no discernable "stand alone" stories. It's just one long on-going plotline week after week, with a twist and a turn just to keep you interested for the next time.

I just think there's only so much you can do of that before it runs out of steam and I can only take so many unanswered questions and obtuse plotlines. All I can say is, if/when they decide to wrap "Lost" the writers had better have some damn good reasons for all the islands' weirdness otherwise the viewers are not going to buy any of it. It could make or break the entire series. Personally I don't want to get sucked into that - I can sense the disappointment already!


Thursday, May 04, 2006

 

Musings of Moving

Well, it's back to earth with a thud after the long weekend.

Someone needs to kick me into touch though - I'm still lacking any motivation to pack our gear for the move... it's not that I don't want to - I really, really do, but I just have no energy in the evenings to do it.

We are making small amounts of progress though. I've made some enquiries about packing some of our more fragile items, and Martha did some research into how we transfer our medical records. While we were waiting for the concert to start on Monday I pulled out my blogging notepad and we scribbled a list of the large items we're taking. Once you get through the obvious stuff you start to focus more on the items that are more likely to get overlooked, so that was a useful exercise I think. A mate of mine who has moved to the USA also told me about contacting the Inland Revenue about tax implications. He made it sound fairly straightforward, so fingers crossed that it will be!

One of our biggest worries about the move is jobs. Martha and I will not have work to go to when we move (unless something miraculously comes up in the next month or so) and therefore we'll be putting ourselves at the mercy of anyone who will pay us a wage. I've thought this might be a good opportunity for a complete change of career, but I really don't know. I've never been hugely ambitious or enthused about any particular line of work - I wasn't one of those kids who always said they wanted to be an astronaut or a train driver.

Probably my biggest ambition has been to own and run a "fleapit" cinema which would screen less mainstream movies. It's not going to make me a millionaire, and I think the financial investment in such a property and the equipment would be rather huge, but it's probably the closest I'm ever likely to admit for a dream job - that and pop star of course!

Anyway, beggars can't be choosers, so I'll take what work I can get and hopefully be on the lookout for something a bit more exciting after that. I feel a bit annoyed that I've never once put my English degree to any use since I left University and it'd be nice to maybe do something that would fire me up in that respect too.

Give it a couple of months after our arrival and I'll probably be begging for work on my blog!

Heck, why wait - if anyone knows of any good work or placements in SW Ontario for a freelance Mac artworker (Martha) and a deluded English graduate with 12 years experience in worldwide logistics (yours truly) let me know!


Tuesday, May 02, 2006

 

Catching Up With...Part 2

Is my long weekend really over? Dammit!

We had a brilliant time up in Newcastle staying with my sister, Lou and her boyfriend, Shaun and their assorted animals. We drove up Friday night so Audrey slept most of the way and we pretty much dumped our gear on arrival and hit the sack right away.

We were up fairly sharply Saturday morning because we had to take the puppies to the vet for their shots. My sister thought it would be fun for Audrey to see it all happening, so we tagged along, but they kind of needed our help with four puppies and two full grown dogs in tow. For those interested, all six puppies are alive and well...one had already gone to a good home so was getting its shots elsewhere and the other was also going to get its shots done by its new owner in due course so wasn't due at the vets. The remaining four got thoroughly checked over by the vet - the poor little mites were quite an amusing sight with thermometers up their butts but they didn't fuss one bit even when they got the needle. Anyway I got some nice photos of them playing in my sisters garden later on and here are a couple for you to "Ahhhh" over.



We heard that it would be the best weather of the weekend on Saturday, so after dropping the pups back home we then decided to head for the beach. It would be Audrey's first time seeing the sea, because unfortunately we had an aborted mission to do that the last time we were up there. We headed to the pub first though to miss the lunchtime rush (which we didn't) and had a bite to eat and a pint before heading down to the sandy beach. It was a lovely bracing walk with the older dogs, and Audrey did some splashing in the waves and played in the fine sand. The photo shows her finding a shell which we kept - hopefully it's still in her jacket pocket...must go check that!

On Sunday we kind of vegged out a bit. After a prelunch beer (or two) at the local pub with Shaun's father we had a nice lunch. Martha then crashed because she'd been up with Audrey a bit in the night and lack of sleep caught up with her, and with Lou's boyfriend also passed out after Sunday lunch, my sister and I decided to take Audrey and the dogs for a walk. I took our child carrier, but we let Audrey walk, and *boy* did she walk! We took her down a huge hill most of which we ran because the dogs were dragging us along...Audrey LOVED this and was giggling the whole way. At the bottom we put her into the carrier and walked across a field towards the river. Part way across Audrey asked to walk again, so we set her down and walked the rest of the way to the river. She wanted to splash in the water, so we found some safe places to do that and she jumped in puddles as we went along. After crossing a small rivulet (back and forth about 5 times because Audrey couldn't get enough of it) she agreed to go back in her carrier, and we walked back up the hill to home. Audrey fell asleep unsurprsingly and remained so for a good couple of hours afterwards.

Later that evening we went across to Shaun's parents house just for a quick visit. We got talking a bit about the Pet Shop Boys "Battleship Potemkin" gig and Shaun's Dad lent me a book on Russian history for me to gen up on which I initially thought would be wasted on me, but proved to be actually quite useful.

Monday was the day for the concert, so the buildup was spent walking again down at the river (more splashing in puddles for Audrey) and a large lunch. At 4pm Martha and I decided to leave for the venue, Newcastle's Swan Hunter Shipyard. The gates weren't due to open until 6pm with the show not expected to start until 8.30 but we didn't know the territory so decided to leave earlier was better. I'd heard about a designated car park for the concert which was running busses to and from the venue for £4 per car so we headed for that and arrived at 5pm. The guy at the gate told us they weren't opening until 5.30 so we drove off down to the venue to see what was going on down there.

When we arrived we discovered a FREE car park immediately opposite the gate, so we parked there and thanked our lucky stars! We wrapped up warm and headed down to the gates where a small queue of people had already gathered. We could even hear the Pet Shop Boys and the Northern Sinfonia running through the set as we waited which was pleasant entertainment since we had quite a bit of time to kill. So we waited...and waited...and waited. The queue grew, and we waited some more. The gates finally opened nearly an hour later than advertised and we snaked our way into the shipyard. This is what it looked like - I tried to get some funky industrial shots and yep, that's Martha in the one photo, in a rare appearance.

























Martha grabbed a chip butty, and we wandered around to find a suitable place to see the show. In the end we plumped for a spot just in front of the movie projectors (photographed here) and the sound mixing desks. It meant that we wouldn't be harrassed by people from behind and I discovered a pole which was just great for leaning against, and boy did I need it because we were standing there until nearly 11pm.
























The show itself was brilliant - here's a slightly less biased review if you don't believe me - the movie, Battleship Potemkin, was shown on a huge screen above the orchestra, and you should be able to make out from my photos the conductor, Jonathan Stockhammer lit up underneath the huge screen. Also, there's one photo from at the end of the show with Neil Tennant of the Pet Shop Boys...you can't tell it's him terribly well though, even though I've zoomed in as much as I could and then zoomed in again on the photo itself.

I'd heard the Pet Shop Boys' score for the film on CD but had never seen the film, but together they work magnificently. The music is in parts orchestral, industrial, techno, pop and there's even some softer ballad style moments as well - it's mostly instrumental but there are a few points where lyrics are used which fit very well with the context of the film. I think as the reviewer suggested, a lot of people went expecting a Pet Shop Boys concert which is a VERY different experience to this, but the movie and music is rousing and by the end I was ready to down tools and lead a revolution! The people who we saw leaving early obviously just didn't "get it" at all.

I tried to capture some stills from the movie too, especially the famous Odessa Steps sequence with the baby in the pram (if you've seen the film The Untouchables, that's where Brian De Palma got it from, OK?!) but the best shots were when I was using the cameras flash, which, as Martha so helpfully pointed out to me was pissing a few people off and provoking "stares". I didn't notice anyone giving me "evils" but I was fairly aware that using the camera flash was drawing unneeded attention to myself, so I tried to keep it to a minimum.

Anyway, after the film, we were treated to an encore, a reprise of one of the more "complete" songs taken from the score which seemed to go down well with the more hardcore folk like myself.

We headed out of the venue with everyone else and were back at the car within a matter of minutes. We saw the queue of poor sods waiting for the park and ride busses we had originally planned to take and thanked our lucky stars again before heading for home. We were back at my sisters before midnight and soon tucked up in a warm bed! Fan-bloody-tastic!

This morning we were woken early by Audrey, packed up our gear, said our goodbyes and headed for home. The traffic was light, Audrey slept for most of the journey again! We couldn't have wished for more!

I don't know if it occurred to my sister, but it did occur to me, that this was quite possibly the last time we would see each other for quite some time. I quite like that we said goodbye very casually, as she hurried to leave for work, rather than dwelled on that fact.


 

Catching Up With....Part 1

I'll blog about my weekend in another post to follow shortly (should be above this if you're reading later) but I wanted to cover all the comments that people left for me over the weekend.

I decided instead of posting replies to each of them where the original comments appeared you'd be more likely to find them here in a new entry, so if you left comments in the last 3 days or so, you're probably in this list:-

Scott & Julia: Yes we do get "House MD" but we've not watched it. I've been pleased to see Hugh Laurie expanding his career in the USA though, and enjoyed him in the Stuart Little movies too. I have to admit though that Blackadder seems to have a brilliant combination of talents behind it that just works wonderfully. I have the whole set on DVD which includes all he "specials" they did (Christmas Carol, The Cavalier Years, and the Millennium Dome episode). Genius!

Ann: More on the PSB gig in my next entry of course but it was AWESOME! And for your letter meme (hope you have time to do it) I bequeath you "big fat" W!

SS: From my experience (Canada) the banks there are still a little more personal, so hopefully my banking experience when we move will be a lot nicer. It didn't used to be so awful here but as an example, I asked for a credit reference from MY branch in Stratford Upon Avon - the reference letter ended up coming from some nameless entity over 100 miles away in Bristol who doesn't know me from Adam! For all they know I could be thousands of pounds in debt with some other bank right now!

Serai: I've been ripping to MP3 at the highest quality iTunes offers (having now checked)...not sure what the deal is yet with the PSB's stuff...

Garry: Ditto what I said above to Serai, and yes we would love to keep in touch, so we'll let you know of our movements as soon as we know what they are ourselves!!!!

Tish: Last but by no means least...I'm going to give you an "R" for the meme - ROOTBEER had better be in there!!!

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