Saturday, 14 February 2009

Isn't youtube great

Always amazed by the amount of stuff on youtube, found a clip from my first ever music festival from 20 years ago
CUD were fab.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Favourite TV

So a few weeks ago I read a story that they were bringing back one of my favourite TV shows of all time, "Minder" for those of you who don't know this was a big show in the 80's staring George Cole as Arthur Daley a loveable spiv/rogue (would you buy a used car from this man) and Dennis Waterman as Terry Mcann his Minder, together they get into various dodgy deals, scrapes fights etc. In the original the scripts were fantastic and the acting and characterisation both faultless. The new one has arrived on the TV much faster than I thought it would (Second Episode is on Channel 5 tonight) it isn't so much a remake as a re-invention and stars Shane Richie as a distant relative of Arthur Daley and a guy called Max Shrapnel (wtf) as his Minder. Unlike most people I atcually like Shane Richie so was quite impressed when I heard he had been cast in the role (I thought Shane really cheered Eastenders up when he was first in it**) Well I have all my fingers crossed that it's not as bad as it could be. I'll do a small review and let you know what I think when I've watched the first couple of episodes.

** Note I no longer watch Eastenders as I cannot bear the despair any longer, still enjoy Corrie but I wish they would go back to 2-3 episodes a week, 4-5 is just too many.

Finally Over

So Emma's birthday is finally over for this year, it seemed to go on for aabout a week but atcually was a few days, I was a little disapointed that we didn't get to go to the Zoo on her atcual birthday but the weather was so bad it just wasn't possible, we'll save that one up for another day when we are a little closer to summer. We finished off Emmas big weekend by going to visit Caths Mum on Sunday wasn't sure until the last minute whether it was a good idea to drive to Horsham or not, it turned out ok though, we kind of saw all weather in the trip but nothing that was hard to handle, the most exciting moment was when what I can only describe as a small rock was thrown up from a Car's wheels on the M25 and hit slap bang in the middle of my side of the windscreen, It didn't smash and in fact hasn't even chipped the screen but I'm amazed it didn't because it was very large and made a horrendous noise when it hit, no harm done in the end but gave us a bit of a shock. We had a lovely lunch in Horsham with Rita, Sam, Sarah, Anna and Lee, opened some more presents and then played around for a bit. A very nice day made all the more pleasant I think because we were so relieved to be out of the house.
Work chugs along like work does at the moment, I seem to have more and more projects piling up but the good thing is they are all things that I am interested in doing, currently I seem to be getting less of the parts of the job I don't like (famous last words) I was supposed to be going to Bristol for UKNOF this week but can't make it due to other commitments, never mind the next one is in Sheffield in a couple of months time so hopefully I can make a trip north for that.

Monday, 9 February 2009

Stealing Pete's bags thunder

So apparently my mate Pete lost his bag on the way back from Libya at the weekend, so there seems to be some opinion that I may be stealing it's thunder. Well worry ye not our bags are back and were never officially lost so I still maintain my record of never having lost a bag or missed a flight and so Pete's bag is welcome to all the thunder it would like.
So when we left Heathrow on Tuesday BA told us we should get our bags in a few days, although after previous horror stories of bags being lost and being sent to Milan for sorting I fully expected this to take multiple weeks so on Wednesday we had already set about the task of trying to remember the really important things that were in the bag and that we needed to buy again as they wouldn't wait until the return, I bought a few bits and pieces (razor, shaving foam etc) and we intended to go out and buy some essentials on Thursday/Friday. On Thursday I received a text message from BA's luggage handling agents with a tracking number and notification that our luggage should be delievered before 21:00 that day, I hadn't heard the text arrive and only noticed it when I went to bed at 23:00 though so by that time they were already two hours late. I decided that I'd just call them next morning and see what the hell was going on and off I went to sleep. At 00.15 (Yes that's quarter past midnight readers) we were awoken by my mobile phone ringing, the person on the end seemed to be unable to hear me and I think I had to answer it 3 times before we atcually got any dialogue going, It was the BA luggage guy delivering in the middle of the freakin night. So I went downstairs and opened the front door and stood shivering in the bloody awful freezing cold and the guy had the cheek to shout from his van, "can you come out and confirm which are your bags mate", "No I bloody well can't I was asleep in bed and you have just woken me up", so after a few minutes of standing in the cold he eventually strolls up the garden path and starts trying to have a conversation with me at the top of his voice, I had to atcually ask him to be quiet after reminding him it was after midnight and that most people were in bed.
Of course we were extremely grateful to get our bags (and all their contents) back so quickly but frankly I was completly thrown by this sheer lack of concern for the customer.

It might be awhile before we leave the country again.

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Trip to the Lowlands Part 2

Ok so really the title should be trip back to the snowy lands.

Our flight back from Schiphol to Heathrow was scheduled for 11.45am, due to the state of the weather the day before we were almost convinced it would be cancelled and we'd be stuck in Holland for an extra day at least (no bad thing though really) however surprisingly the BA website said our flight was running as normal so we left The Hague at 8.30 in plenty of time. Emma likes being on all types of public transport so we were enjoying ourselves on the train to the Airport and were almost there (approx 1-2 miles away) when the train stopped, after a few minutes the conductor came on the PA and informed us there had been a "stroom storing" (Having spent 7 years in Holland I am still appalled at my lack of Dutch, however having travelled on the railways a lot in that time I was well aware that this phrase which basically means power failure).

So we sat and waited on a stationary train for what seemed like an eternity, I'm sure most of you have been there, you can see the seconds ticking away along with your flight becoming less and less likely and there is nothing you can do about it. After about 30 minutes they decided that there was no point in waiting any longer and turned the train around to go back to Leiden, where to get to Schiphol we would have to catch another train and change twice, there was no way we were going to catch our plane so we opted for the 80 Euro taxi ride instead. We arrived at the airport 2 minutes before check in was due to close, a little stressed but very relieved, however as we were starting to check in all the BA computers went down, so the stress levels came back up again. After about 15 minutes of standing and waiting I was starting to get worried we would miss the flight (again) so I asked the BA check in clerk what would happen if they couldn't check us in for our flight which was now due to leave in 30 mins, at which point he said don't worry your flight is delayed until 1pm anyway, though why he didn't tell us that when we first arrived I don't know. So eventually (after about another 30 mins) we got checked in and went through security (with no events this time) at which point we found the flight was delayed until 2.45pm, aggghhhh, now I know some of you will feel for us when you think about trying to entertain a 2 year old in an Airport for this length of time, but atcually Emma was incredibly well behaved and we are both very proud of her for that, the worst that happened was she started emptying the stones from the potted trees onto the airport floor (mainly I think because she was amused by the fact we had to put them back again afterwards.)

At 3.00pm we finally boarded the flight at which point Emma instantly fell asleep, we were all belted up and ready to go when the captain came on and said that they couldn't get a take off slot for 45 minutes, the atmosphere on the plane was pretty crappy at this point and I was starting to think anything and everything that could go wrong would, however after about 15-20 minutes the captain came back on and said he had now got clearance to take off and so off we went.

The journey to London was pretty uneventful (thank god) apart from a rather bizarre circle as we came over east London which was obviously to waste time but was a little unusual.

When we got on the ground at Heathrow we were then told we didnt have anywhere to park the plane which caused us another 30 minutes on the plane.

Just when I was starting to relax and think we were going to get home in one piece at a reasonable time we were told that it was likely going to be multiple hours before our luggage would be off the plane and available to us. To be fair to BA they did at this point give us the option of filling a small form in and having our lugage delivered to our house in the next day or so, we grabbed this option with open arms and ran screaming from the terminal.
Collected the car from long stay parking no nasty surprises it was all in one piece and atcually was surprisingly devoid of snow. I guess a lot of people were working at home that day as the M25 and M4 were very quiet (it was rush hour by now) now you would think that by this time nothing else could go wrong (or could it) the weather was pretty bad on the way home, driving rain and sleet, the strange thing was every now and then the wipers on the car kept making a loud bang at first I thought it was snow falling off trees or bridges but it seemed to be too regular for that. When we turned off the A34 about 2 miles from home there was an even louder bang from the wipers and the left one flipped over and turned inside out, we stopped and turned it back round and made it home without further incident. I was so relieved when we finally got in the house and relaxed. It was the second worst trip I've ever had and one I won't forget for a long long time.

Next episode: The case of the missing luggage (A short but unbelievable tale)

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Trip to the Lowlands Part 1

So last weekend we went off to visit The Netherlands, we go there fairly frequently mainly because we used to live in Amsterdam and hence we miss the place, but also because Catherine's dad lives in The Hague and he's always very hospitable and very pleasant to spend time with. I'll post twice about this trip, today mainly about the trip in general and again in the next day or two about the horror that was the trip home.

We left home at 8am sharp on Saturday morning (well 8.05 but that is fairly sharp for us) for the hour trip to Heathrow to multiple cries of "Bus, Bus" from Emma, she loves being in the car. The journey was uneventful we arrived at Heathrow in plenty of time, we did miss the turn off to the car park because of fairly bizzare signage but anyway with a couple of hours to spare we were checked in and going through security, then came a slight problem, as my bag came through the scanner it veered off to one side, mmm couldn't think what the problem was until Catherine happened to enquire as to whether I had been stupid enough to pack any toiletries in my hand luggage and indeed I had shaving gel, a razor and deodorant in there (I hadn't put these in the main luggage as we were going to seperate cities for the first night we were in Holland so I thought it would make life easier). The problem then was that to have my bag checked properly I was behind 3 more people and once your bag is pulled accross they go through it with a fine toothcombe, eventually my time came the security guy was very upbeat and even tried to cheer Emma up by giving her somebody elses sweets. I was rather pissed off with myself over all this as I am quite well travelled and don't normally make silly mistakes like this, oh well you live and learn don't you. It did kill quite a lot of time though and before we knew it we were boarding the flight, I don't think Emma has ever atcually been awake for a takeoff or landing she usually falls asleep just before takeoff and wakes up shortly after hitting the tarmac at the other end, and this was the pattern again today.
We arrived at Schiphol a little late and John (Catherines Dad) was there to meet us and after a quick refreshing drink off they went to The Hague and off I went to Amsterdam.
I had arranged to stay at our old flat in Amsterdam with my friend Mark but I knew he wouldn't be home until 6pm so I had a couple of hours to kill, I decided to go down into the South of Amsterdam and visit my friends Mark and Jeff, they moved into a new apartment a while ago and I hadn't seen it as yet. Loved their apartment, felt much bigger than the old one, was really nice to see them both aswell, I hung around and had a couple of cups of tea and then bid them farewell (I was meeting up with them for dinner that night anyway) I then went off and visited our old apartment on the Nieuwe Kerkstraat, was really good to see my old friend Mark and our old cat Tegan (We had to leave her behind when we moved back from NL to UK).
Dinner and beer that night were at one of my favourite places and somewhere I always visit when in the dam, De Zotte it's a small Belgian beer bar near the centre of Amsterdam but does Steak with pepper sauce, to die for. So we filled up with steak, chips and beer and then after that went off to Oporto a small brown bar in the centre of Amsterdam which is run by another friend of ours Brian who used to be a barman at O Donnels an irish bar we used to frequent quite a lot. After a couple of hours in there I decided that was enough beer for the night, so went off for a wander. I love to just wander the streets of Amsterdam and observe whats going on, wandering lots of cities in the UK at 1am could be quite intimidating and dangerous but Amsterdam has never given me that feeling, after an hour of wandering I decided it was getting a bit cold and that being in a warm apartment would be a good idea but for some reason the cold had also made me hungry again, so I called for Shorma on the way home, I'd never bought it from the place I went to before (very close to the old apartment) but it was fabulous (or maybe I was drunk enough that anything tasted good)
Next morning I had a lovely lie in (got up about 10.45 I think) which is very much a rarity when you have a 2 year old. Cath and her dad came around at 12 and after a cuppa we went off to visit the Hortus Botanicus it's a kind of musuem of plants and things in the centre of Amsterdam had a lovely lunch and a wander around the plants, it's not really my thing but it was Catherines birthday and it was fun seeing Emma running around, it was very very cold though so after a couple of hours we wandered into town for a couple of drinks in Delmondo's (an old haunt of hours) and met up with Mark and Laura (who Catherine and I used to work with at the RIPE NCC) it was nice to see them both. So off we went back to the Hague where we had a lovely night in with John, a nice meal which we all helped to cook and a few glasses of wine.
Monday, I started to feel like I had a cold and for some reason Emma woke up in quite a bad mood, Catherine, Emma and John went out in the afternoon but I went back to bed, so It was a bit of a lost day really. The evening was very nice though after Emma went to bed Catherine and I went down the local pub had a meal and a few beers, we don't have a babysitter here in Abingdon so we never go out together, for years we were best drinking buddies aswell as a couple and I kinda miss that so it's really nice when it can happen.
By this time we had seen the horrific weather that was happenning in the UK and were fairly convinced our flight (scheduled for 11.45 the next morning) would be cancelled.
Next blog entry: The (Long Long) journey home.
Pictures from our trip to the Netherlands are here:

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Lack of updates

Apologies for the lack of updates. If you want to see what I've been up to you can always check my microblog at:
I'll post some stuff about our Amsterdam trip here in the next day or so.