Monthly Archives: April 2010

Cordon Bleu chef extrordinaire

One of my challenges is to cook meals from scratch, I got my chance on Sunday, unfortunatley Jo was ill and the Child Shaped Demons were getting a tad peckish, So i cooked the age old cure for any illness, saviour of the weary, resurrector of the hungover….The Full English Breakfast.

Sausage, Bacon, Egg, beans and Mushrooms.

Not a tricky prospect you may say, but I put to you that a fry up is one of the most complex meals to cook. Think about it, how many more meals are there that almost every constituent has to be cooked separately, for different times, and need to be turned regularly? and then to top it all, just at the point that everything can burn, you have to put all your concentration on cooking chicken ovum’s in boiling fat – but without making the yolk hard.

I rose to the challenge, took me 45 minutes to do, but I fed everyone, and the boys loved it. A greater accolade than any Michelin star ;o)

Full on contact!

My eyes are screwed, long-sighted with an astigmatism (from here on refered to as Ast….you’ll see why) in each eye, fairly bad prescription. I have to choose the ultra thin option or the lenses would never fit in the frames I select.

I’ve worn glasses for about 30 odd years, so I’m kind of used to them. Although I always aspire to being able to not have to wear them. I’ve looked into all these wonderful laser eye surgery things, you know for £4000 we’ll strap you into a chair and fry your eyes, very James Bond. I’ve finally met some people who have had it done and they think it’s wonderful so I decided to bite the bullet and look into it. I figure as my glasses usually cost £250 to £300 each pair the surgery may soon pay for itself.

It’s not to be though. As I mentioned, my eyes are screwed. So screwed I can’t have the normal cut a flap in the cornea, burn off some of the gooey stuff underneath, put the top bit back and hope it works for me. No they would have to actually remove the cornea, glue a permanent contact lens in place and then stick my eye back together. And I would have to pay for the privilege. Ain’t gonna happen.

So glasses are the only option……..well, not quite.

I tried contact lenses about 7 or 8 years ago. I couldn’t do with them. Getting them in and out was fiddly, but you may remember I mentioned the Ast. (astigmatism remember). So last time I tried them there wasn’t the range available today, I suffered them for a few days, but due to the Ast. vision was well warped.

A while ago, Jo, out of the blue, asked me what an Ast. was….well I went of on one of my rambling scientific descriptions and took about 5 minutes to explain that it where your eyes are shaped like rugby balls rather than footballs. Then a short while later Jo looks at me slightly cryptically and asked me if I’d tried contact lenses…..I was suspicious, I have to admit, and went on to explain the problems I’d had before due to the Ast. ….. a smile spread across Jo’s face as she started to read out paragraphs from a forum she was on where they were discussing contact lenses….specifically the new torric lenses that work with….yes you’ve guessed it astigmatism. Woohoo, thought I, I’ll have a look into that, and with the usual deftness and speed I was on the internet and straight onto Googel.co.uk. I should point out that’s not a spelling mistake, I was far too eager and my brain was working faster than my fingers. So I took a deep breath and tried again, sure enough, contact lenses for Ast…..only double the price of normal lenses. Well that was it, costs be damned I was going to try them (especially as it is on my list to do)

Alas it’s not just as simple as walking into an opticians and demanding a pair of contact lenses, nooooo, you must have a standard eye test, then go and see someone else to check if you can have contacts, then they open a pack and stick them in your eyes, then they usher you out the door with an appointment card for 2 weeks time and enough lenses to keep you going till then. Oh….it is that simple then. No money, no bother, 3 sets of 2 weekly lenses, a bottle of solution to clean them, a case for the lenses and a case for my glasses…..I wasn’t expecting to be walking out with the contacts in.

I was impressed. I was even more impressed when the optician told me that the modern lenses were made of softer material than they used to be and so tend to form o the shape of the eye better….meaning that things like Ast. can be corrected using soft lenses.

It was monday that I went to Boots opticians. I have worn the lenses everyday since, up to 14 hours on one day, and they are great. It’s a little bit odd at first, and getting them out is a pain (took me half an hour last night) but I’m getting better. And as they don’t need to be the fancy torrics, they aren’t as expensive.

So now I am free from glasses, admittedly I have to factor in an extra 10 to 30 minutes in the morning to get them in, and put up with gouging my eyes out of an evening to remove them…but I think that will get easier with time.

It appears Jo is a fan of the new me too 😉

Woohoo for the BNP! (The Barnsley International Market)

Yes, you heard me, I am praising the useless bunch of numpties known as the BNP. You want to know why….read on.

This weekend Barnsley is hosting an International market. Rather than the usual excuses for these things, where some bloke from Rochdale affects a dodgy accent to bump up his prices by 200%, the traders here are actually from other countries. There was all sorts on sale, Babushka dolls, salamis, jewelry, Baklava, sweets, clothes, olives, noodles, cheeses, even a hog roast.

The stall holders were almost all really friendly and most were tripping over themselves to get you to try their wares (and we did) and they all had big smiley faces and were happy to answer any questions, the prices weren’t even that bad. So alongside he usual pound shop trawls for bargain we sampled cuisine from around the world. It was delicious.

The highlight for me though, and Jo will confirm this based on the look of sheer joy on my face, was when I happened upon a stall with a stack of Stroopwafels (3 packs for £6). My money was out before I had even reached the stall. Maybe I should explain a little. My Grandfather was Dutch, during the World War 2 he was something to do with the Dutch Resistance and had to flee to England for circumstances which I don’t fully know (he died a while ago, and I only found things out after his death, I wish I had the opportunity to talk to him about his past, although I dare say he wouldn’t have wanted to talk about it). I still have family in Holland, and when I was young we used to visit them regularly. Some of my earliest memories are of trips to Holland, especially the street markets and particularly the food. I have a very large soft spot for certain dutch foods, but top of the list are Gestampte Muisjes (crushed aniseed powder, usually served on a slice of bread…or more commonly eaten by me straight from the box with a spoon) Appelstroop (a syrup made from apples and again used as a sandwich fillling) Poffertjes (mini pancakes) and Stroopwafels (2 waffle biscuits sandwiched together with syrup).

You can imagine my sheer joy at finding stroopwafels, but then, imagine if you can, not just my joy, but also the shock of the people around me as I spy at the other end of the stall a man stood in front of a griddle flipping fresh mini pancakes and me shouting “Poffertjes” at the top of my lungs. I will admit I am slightly ashamed at the way I elbowed old people out of the way, and the odd small child may have been flung over my shoulder in my rush to get to the wonderful man cooking small packets of gorgeousness. Again my money was out before I got there, and a portion was ordered. It was with a small grimace that I asked for chocolate sauce with them, but it was what the boys wanted, usually I would have had them with nothing more than butter and icing sugar. They were delicious, and the boys devoured them with the usual gusto of children and sweet food. Ah fond memories relived.

So in total today we bought:

7 different types of German dry cured sausage

100g of Dolce Gorgonzola (a cheese which I have never tried before as I was never a fan of blue cheese, until I tried proper blue cheese that is) To say that this cheese looked like it had been sat under a warm lamp for a few weeks and had not only melted but gone mouldy would be an understatement, but it tastes delicious.

100g of some other cheese, It’s name starts with a M and it’s from Italy.

A selection of Baklava for breakfast tomorrow

A pot of mixed olives

Chili olive bread

Olive and herb bread

3 packs of Stroopwafels

a portion of Poffertjes

and 2 strong espressos.

it was a good afternoon, and I will put up some pictures soon.

Oh I nearly forgot, the BNP.

An epic win from the BNP, now I’m not a supporter, and whilst I can see why people would support them (the old immigrants taking our jobs and houses argument etc) I would never ally myself to a party with their morals and principles.

You may wonder why then it was a win then. Picture the scene. An international market. People from many different countries gathered in one place to celebrate foods and cultures from around the world. The people at the market were there because they had come to sample and buy goods from these foreigners and they were having fun. Now in the middle of this, picture a BNP stall, Union Jacks all over, and a man stood shouting about immigration and how Bradford was overrun. Now also picture a rather large open space around said BNP stall. Picture also the looks of disbelief rapidly turning to looks of incredulity as people suddenly realise how absolutely stupid the BNP candidates are. Who in their right minds would try and preach to a group of people who have gathered to share world cultures, about the dangers of immigration and those rotten foreigners.

It was a joy to see, the stall holders rolling their eyes and laughing with the locals, the locals shaking their heads at the BNP and the BNP being to up their own arses to realise just how much damage they have done to their own reputation. So as I say, Woohoo for the BNP, your own feckless ignorance has revealed just how think you really are.

The Healing power of rants:

It is said that laughter is the best medicine. To be honest, I’d rather have the antibiotics, If I went to the doctor with some ailment and rather than writing out a prescription they tickled me….I would not be impressed (although saying that….there was one doctor at my old surgery, I wouldn’t have minded her….but I digress)

I would like to offer a counter argument. Laughter itself may well be beneficial, it releases the endorphins, it makes you feel warm inside this is true. My case though, is like this. For the last week (ever since Eyjafjallajokull started spewing forth) I have felt rough. A constant nagging ache behind my eyes, which themselves have felt dry and gritty, a general achyness to bones and muscle, and a lethargy the like of which I have very rarely succumbed to. I have been tired and grouchy all week long. Showers have helped , Gin has helped to soothe revitalise, and Modern Warfare 2 has helped relieve some aggression.

So today, lovely sunny day that it was, seemed to be heading down the usual tracks. A good nights sleep, albeit cut short by the sounds of merry children playing (It could have been Demons screeching and destroying things….I had only just arisen from deep sleep) and a fresh coffee were as usual, enough to ensure I got to work, but the nagging headache, the gritty eyes and the general bleurghyness of it all soon set in.

Drudgery seemed to be the dish of the day, everything was plodding along, nothing special, nothing too dire…..until one of my colleagues happened to mention something about one of the chaps I works with being signed off sick. Slumped as I was at the time, my shoulder bones managed to rearrange themselves defying the laws of biology so that I managed to slump even further.

I was a tad peeved. At the last minute I’d found out second hand information that tomorrows timetable and staffing levels were well and truly screwed. We were going to be short to start with, but being an extra man down  just made the task impossible. Not a major issue, just another bug bear to deal with, but no one is available to cover, all the managers are in meetings or training, and lo, they all appear to be off tomorrow.

Long story short (too late I know) I finally get in touch with the managers manager and dump the problem well and truly at her feet, and to give her credit she did what she promised and organised a member of staff to cover…..now you’d think at this point I’d be happy……well yes I would have been, but have you ever had one of those times, when someone promises you something great, that will make you smile, and then when they turn up with the gift wrapped box, the presentation bag or the fancy envelope, you peek inside and your heart plummets, your stomach sinks and you can feel the muscles in your face tighten as they struggle to hold the rictus grin of a smile in place so as not to offend. It was like that, now I can work with most people with no problem, but there’s always one or two that you would rather gnaw your own arm off than have to spend time with…..well we got one of them. 😦

You may be wondering where the title of the blog comes into this, so far I have just whinged about my day, gradually sliding into the murky depths of grottiness. Ah-ha, this is true, but today, most of my time has been spent working with a couple of people I can talk to, and most of that with one other person who has a similar outlook on things to me, and needless to say that inevitably mini rants were had, they helped….so were expanded to mild bitching….better still, my headache was easing (although that may have been the paracetamol), a few status updates on Facebook….I’m not as weary…….A blog post….I’m smiling……and now dear reader, you will be subject to the last part of my human testing phase of my initial theory. So far today, I have bitched, whines, ranted, whinged and even uttered a few profanities about the turn of events. I am feeling god, I am awake, my eyes don’t itch and I’m happy.

So I put to you dear reader, that whilst laughter may well be beneficial to the human psyche, a damn good bitch fest and rant really helps get it off your chest.

So in future, I shall not be holding back when I feel low. If I’m a little down in the dumps, not quite as perky as usual, or to be honest, a little bored, I shall rant!  I shall clear my thoughts of all vitriolic tendencies, I shall spew forth with my thoughts and I shall hold back no more.

Any fuckwit pisses me off I shall tell the world, Imbeciles beware, you shall be outed on here. If I am pissed of you will know. If something goes wrong, I shall vent and even if I’m happy….well, you can’t beat a good bitchfest can you 😉

Oh that reminds me….Honeywell Taxis……bunch of twats! I would seriously avoid them, their drivers are a bag of shite. One of them, in a silver minibus decided that give way signs are not for taxis and pulled right out in front of me this morning…Knobhead. Needless to say the gormless fuckwit got a blast of the horn and a tirade of verbal abuse from me as I skidded to a halt. He also got the same for the motorbike behind me who ended up alongside me after swerving. To top it all he had the audacity to give me the wanker sign as I went past him as he turned off. I really should have phoned them up and told them how crap there drivers are, may just have brightened my day up that little it earlier.

Ahem, I think that proves my point, I’m happy now 😉

Communication….

The egyptians managed a whole language based on pictures.

The Atzecs and Olmecs were getting their respective points across with words (and sometimes spears).

Romans did it in Latin.

Vikings did it with Runes.

American Indians did it with smoke.

Aborigonies did it with bullroarers.

Ships do it with flags.

The Amy did it with morse code.

Computers do it in binary.

Bees do it by dancing.

Whales do it over miles by “singing” underwater

Some of us even do it by speaking or writing things down.

Now this may not seem like a novel concept to you, but it makes me wonder, with all these ways of getting your message across…….Why the fuck couldn’t a certain person tell me that we were going to be so short staffed tomorrow rather than letting the chinese whispers do it?

I am hoping that the paracetamol I have just taken will be communicating nicely with the pain in my head.

My girlfriend is single!

As of approximately 3:30 yesterday afternoon my girlfriend was officially single (or as official as you can get when talking about Facebook relationship status updates) Some of you may point out that this could be bad news for me, an ominous omen perhaps, but no.

There is a deeper darker truth behind this proclamation of individuality. My girlfriend/other half/significant other/SO/squeeze/CLI/burd etc was married when we started “stepping out” but as of Yesterday that is no more. She has thrown off the shackles of repression (also know as Twatface) and embraced the freedom of happiness (also known as Me).

Champagne was quaffed to “celebrate” this juncture in Jo’s life. Not for what was, but for what is to come. It was a celebration of new beginnings, fresh starts, and also the love and friendliness that was shared by so many last night. I do believe that Jo underestimated just how much her divorce meant to so many of her friends and loved ones. So I would like to thank each and every one of you that has supported her over the last 17 months, shown her love, lifted her spirits and helped us both through what has occasionally been dark times. Thank you all for your very kind and caring messages of support and wishes of happiness.

Today is a new beginning for Jo and myself, and we have started the way we mean to go on. Having fun and enjoying ourselves.

Thank you all.

And to finish, I would like to quote some wise words from my friend Bear that I feel are worth sharing at this time….

“Fuck yes what a result. Jo shoots she scores!”

Tis the dreaded Lurgy!

Not me I hasten to add, I’m fine, fit as a fiddle (although how quantifiable that is I don’t know, for instance I could probably do more push ups than a Violin, it may have me on the sprint though)

It appears those around me at work are dropping like flies (although flies are not renowned for just dropping out of the air, usually they are more likely to kamikaze into the window half a dozen times before spiraling into the nearest spiders web, I think I should re-evaluate that analogy) ….ahem, those around me at work are dropping like over ripe apples in autumn (there, more accurate I do believe….although no one at work actually dropped, the more sort of shuffled or walked, another rethink maybe)….right, those around me at work have been getting ill. (there nailed it)

I’m not going into sordid details of who and why as it’s not polite to discuss that kind of thing on a public place like this (you’ll have to ask me privately for the juicy details ;o) )but in the space of a week we’ve had 3 people go off sick, not too many you may think, but when we operate on a team of 6 or 7 at a time it can make a difference. Now the outcome of these skivers taking time off is not as direct as you’d think. Most of the people I work with (ok some) are conscientious hard workers who can pick up the slack and make sure things get done, so with a little bit of shuffling of shifts and a few rigorous work rotas things ticked along nicely. The repercussions that have really bugged me have been those from higher up. I have lost count of the number of phone calls I’ve had to field from people asking me to send staff elsewhere cos they are short, even when I explain that we are even shorter (and I mean staff not my less than average height) they don’t seem to comprehend. In fact I have spoken to one of said individuals at least 4 times on the same subject. I would bang my head against the wall if it weren’t for the fact the builders have covered it in spongy stuff……hmmm maybe the management are trying to tell us something.

So in short, Kudos to the hard workers who slid shifts, got their hands dirty and kept things going, and fist shakes a-la Blakey for those skiving mongrels that were just too ill to work. :oP