Friday, 23 October 2009
So I'm going to do a career assessment. What's a career assessment, you all say. Well. It's a... well, a career assessment. It goes something like this: You have several meetings with a consultant who asks you lots of questions about you, your job, your aspirations, your likes/dislikes (work-related and not-quite-so-work-related). It's like a great big personality/skills/career assessment. The aim of which is to make sure your career is on track to where you want it to be going, where you feel comfortable with it going, and how to make it go where you would like if it's not there already. Sort of.
Thursday, 22 October 2009
Question Time has been in the news quite a lot lately, since it was announced that Nick Griffin, leader of the far-right BNP (British National Party) would be one of the panelists on the programme. Hundreds, nay, thousands of hands have been wrung at whether or not the BBC should be giving a platform to a man whose party is regarded by many as racist. I'll let you Google Mr Griffin and his party, so you can make your own mind up about their policies and views. I won't be sending off for membership in any case.
Merely hours away now from the live broadcast, hundreds of protesters have laid siege to the BBC's Television Centre studios in London. The hands that were wringing are now waving placards and the voices that were muttering indignantly are now screeching their disagreement. But it all looks like a massive own goal to me. Any of them familiar with the concepts of "democracy", "free speech" or "freedom of association"? Hmmm. Free speech means allowing others a voice, even if you don't want to hear what they have to say (no one is making you listen, are they?). In a democracy, people can vote for the party of their choosing, for the party they feel best represents them and their views and want they want from government. I certainly hope every single person protesting at Wood Lane tonight voted in the recent European elections. Why? Because by not voting, by not making their voice heard, they are leaving it up to someone else to decide. And the people who do go and vote, well, maybe their choices aren't very savoury, not very palatable.
I support the editors of Question Time. I say, let him speak. And let the nation point and laugh at the ridiculous little man. And be suitably outraged at his objectionable ideas. And let the nation be aware, if you don't use your vote to make your voice heard, somebody else will speak for you. And that somebody might be saying things you don't agree with. And let the mainstream politicians take note. If people have asked Nick Griffin to be their voice, it's because you guys have been so busy fighting over the middle ground (not to mention amongst yourselves), so concerned with pandering to the sensitivities of every imaginable minority ethnic interest group, that you're alienating people. Voters.
So be warned.
Tuesday, 13 October 2009
Friday, 9 October 2009
Still, I'm here now. Popping in before I probably flit off again like a blogging butterfly. I do hope any of you who might be reading this are well and happy. No swine/type A flu I trust?
So what's the chat? Weeeellllllll. I'm thinking of retraining and becoming a goat herd. Possibly not a goat herd as one must get up early to tend to one's goats. But not doing what I currently do any more. I sort of woke up one day and it suddenly occurred to me that the every day, bread & butter part of my job bores the life out of me. Watch this space for news of goats.
The French government has, in its infinite stupidity, invented a new way to bleed our resources with taxe carbone (or carbon/green/environment tax). They patronisingly try to tell us that this levy will make us all more environmentally-friendly. Petrol will be taxed at the staggering rate of 4p extra a litre. Crikey, better sell the car! What the carbon tax is, in reality, is a money-spinner for a cash-strapped government. It will penalise people who live in rural areas where public transport is utterly non-existent and the least well-off for whom heating and fuel bills are already a huge chunk of their budget. It certainly won't change the way I use the car, because 4p more a litre is not a big enough rise to hit my budget all that hard. It is all stick and no carrot. We're being told off for not being green enough, but there is no real concerted effort to help ordinary folks to invest in more sustainable choices (roof insulation, power/heating using renewable energies). Plus nuclear power isn't getting taxed at all because apparently it's a non-polluting energy source. Riiiight.
Continuing with the France-bashing, there is much hand-wringing and consternation with September's road collision stats. 393 dead in September is over 17% more than Sept 08. When I consider the dreadful driving standards I witness on what is a very short commute (10 mins) to work and back, I'm surprised this number isn't higher. If you're in a hurry, no need to stop at the red light. Indicators and rear-view mirrors are for mummy's boys. Chavs on scooters must leave a gap of no more than 3cm with the vehicle in front (maximising their chances of running into said vehicle in the event of sudden, or even not so sudden, braking). And yoofs on bikes must pedal along with no awareness of the car that is about to squash them to death. Ah-la-la-la!!!
Staying on a motoring theme, I'm all cleaned out having forked up 200 and something euros for 4 new Michelins for the small car. Nice deep tread, ready for the winter. Jolly good thing though cos since I got them it's been sodding raining and my racing slicks just wouldn't have done the job.
And to end on a topical note, who else thinks awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to US president Barack Obama was a bit, well, ... not on. I don't have anything at all against the man, but he hasn't really done much has he? And that's hardly surprising, he's only been on the job a few months, give him a chance. I just feel it somewhat discredits the prize and past winners (worthy ones, because not all of them have been!) when it's handed out to someone on the basis of his good intentions and the promise of what they might bring.
Monday, 17 August 2009
It was the day my grandmother exploded. When I went out, Auntie was waiting in the upstairs hall with a chore for me. The Russian soldier thrust his face into the rear of the truck. She removed the cigarette, flicked the ash on the floor behind her, and leaned into the counter. "Where have I heard that before?"For the record, I'm currently struggling with The Satanic Verses. But often seek refuge in A Tale Etched in Blood and Hard Black Pencil which is easier and funnier by far.
Sunday, 26 July 2009
Now that I (and, more importantly, the camera) have come back indoors, the little so-and-so is very probably busy frolicking the sun. Pah!
Still, I am quite pleased to have a shrew in the garden. I have even suspended my vegetable patch extension works for fear of having disturbed its nest. Having a shrew (or shrews) in the garden makes one feel virtuous. Why, I have a wildlife-friendly garden. No, it's not just that I have let that bit along by the hedge get a bit overgrown and all untidy. It's wildlife-friendly don't you see? Plus they will hopefully keep the slug population down. And hopefully not be eaten by the local owl.
Saturday, 18 July 2009
Thursday, 21 May 2009
I must, in advance, ask for your indulgence on the nerdy nature of this post, but I really have to put this out to the floor, as it were, and see if anyone, somewhere, can help me figure it out.
As you may remember, our trip to Scotland at Christmas coincided quite fortuitously with a record low in the GBP/EUR exchange rate, so we took full advantage of being rich and spent our euro-pounds in a mad supermarket sweep at Sainsbury's. We bought paracetamol for 23p, parsnips for 50p, and Persil Small & Mighty (known as Skip in France) for about £7. And some other stuff but I can't be expected to remember it all can I? I was truly astonished at how much cheaper some "global" brand goods were in the UK. Even taking the exchange rate into account, French euro prices were looking like an utter piss-take on us put-upon consumers. Even the dog's Pedigree biscuits were cheaper!
So anyway, our bumper pack of Persil has finally run out (why is it all the bottles of laundry detergent all run out at once - bog-standard, wool-care and colour-care all empty!). So picked up some at the supermarché today. And it cost the princely sum of €7.44! I'm livid. 7 quid for 750ml. And how much is a 1.5l bottle from Asda?! FOUR pounds, my friend.
So I'm hoping someone can help me to get my (admittedly sometimes quite blonde) head around this seemingly inexplicable and rather enormous difference in price. Is there some sort of special extra VAT on laundry detergent in France that I'm unaware of? Does it cost very very very much money to print the packaging in French? Or are consumers in France just being utterly and completely ripped off?
Saturday, 25 April 2009
It's very sad, I do realise, that something so frivolous should bring about such glee, but clothes retailers in France are shite. Choose from cheap H&M fashion, or unaffordable couture chic. There really doesn't seem to be a middle-of-the-road option. Now I can indulge my retail habit from exile. Yay. Of course, spending money on Next online means less to spend on Pink shirts and Carvela shoes in Edinburgh, but hey.
In other news:
The small car passed its MOT, as I was expecting but much to doubting Hubby's surprise. Apparently there's a little bit of play in one of the shock absorbers. I said to the guy, "well, they've never been changed, so...". He was so surprised he even said to the mechanic, "look at this! 186,600 km and never changed the shocks!" Yes, Mr Man, that's because I slow down over speed bumps.
We went to the DIY store to buy salt for the water softening whatsit. Expensive salt: we paid €113!! Because Hubby said I could have some plants for the garden. [Grin] Bought plum tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, some flowers, some wooden edging things for the bit next to the raspberry canes that I would like to turn into a vegetable patch... And some other stuff.
We've chosen our translation management server system and work, and the techy issues that were looking dodgy have been or are currently being resolved. Now the fun starts, with pre-project workflow analysis, settings definition, installation, deployment, training and change management!
Hubby is away playing shoot'em up PC games all weekend. I'm hoping the rain stays away so I can grub in the mud and take Doggy for W's. If it doesn't, I have plenty ironing to keep me busy.
Monday, 20 April 2009
If Star Wars Was Set In
Chewbacca would look roughly the same except he'd only be about 5ft tall, from Blackhill and called Shug. He'd have the same amount of body hair but would also have tattoos, would permanently smell of drink and invariably sport a Rangers top.
Obi-Wan Kenobi would invariably be referred to as Chief or Big Yin by his cohorts. People trying to start a fight with him would address him as Wanky-Nobby.
Darth Vader would referred to as 'Auld Helmet Heid' or in moments of stress 'That Dome-Heided Basturd'
R2D2 would refuse to go out on the streets after 10pm because of the number of drunks who would try to stuff chip papers in his head casing or piss on him. He would also refuse to go near groups of wee boys at any time because of the high risk of being spray painted/dumped in front of a speeding train/set on fire.
Although proficient in over 3500 languages C3P0 would still be unable to understand anything anyone from the East End of Glasgow said. He would regularly get beaten up for being a 'greetin-faced poof fae Milngavie'.
The Millennium Falcon would have static strips, tinted windscreens and extra-flared exhaust ports. It would have a Daily Record I Love
Princess Leia would get captured by Darth Vader because it's hard to run very fast when you're wearing 5inch platform heels and a tiny silver mini-skirt which keeps hiking up over your arse every two steps. And you've been a heavy smoker since you were 6.
The best way to destroy the Death Star would not necessarily be a desperate all out attack. Two easy ways would be
- alter its orbit so it passed through
- or leave it unattended in Easterhouse.
Lines from the film as they would be uttered in the vernacular
"I've got a real bad feeling about this"
"Ah'm shitin' ma sel' here boy"
"Bring 'em on! I prefer a straight fight to all this sneaking around."
"Come right ahead then! Fight the f**ing lot o ye!"
"There's no mystical energy field controls my destiny."
"The Force?!! D'youse think ah came doon wi the rain?!"
"Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid."
"Nae messin aboot wi the god squad and auld rubbish, wee man. Get yersel' a decent shooter"
Darth Vader trying to shoot down Luke Skywalker:
"The Force is strong in this one"
"Stop shooglin' ya wee basturd!"
"You're a little short for a Stormtrooper aren't you?"
"Ah didnae think they took short-arses in the polis?"
"This bucket of bolts is never going to get us past that blockade."
"Wuv goat NAE chance in this pile o' shite"
Don't try to frighten us with your sorcerer's ways, Lord Vader."
"You think you're that hard, Vader so ye do. Well we're no feart ae you!"
I felt a great disturbance in the Force."
"F*** me! whit wiz aw that?"
Luke to the Emperor
"Your overconfidence is your weakness."
"Oh ye bloody think so?, I'll make you feel the f***ing force pal!!"
[Lis sniggers away to herself like a teenager.] Hope you enjoyed!
Monday, 6 April 2009
Well, we went to Scotland, something which is always good. On this occasion we were on a mission to procure a car. After seeing the crazy prices available when we were home at Christmas, we decided to take the plunge before the exchange rate had time to turn against us. We didn't end up with the one I've been lusting after, as they'd all gone (some lucky sod got there before us). But they were selling new ones for only 14.5k!! Alas, that was 4.5k over budget and a new car wasn't really the best option for us as the French government would try to fleece us for VAT upon importing it to France (thieving sh!ts). We even ended up with a diesel one even though I'd sworn against them! But it isn't silver. In fact it is red, so that will meet with Super nephew's exacting standards*.
As well as buying a car, we managed a visit to the Ancients, visits with the Weegies, M&M, Willie and Jane. I didn't (yes, did not) buy any books. In fact I didn't even set foot in Waterstone's. But I did buy a handbag (60% off!) and get my hair done. But I didn't spend any money in the John Lewis kitchenware department. Doggy was a bad 'un and wouldn't go for a walk with her Grandad, she wanted to come and look at cars with us!
What I learned on this trip home:
- used cars no longer come with a tax disc. The thievin' dealers cash them in, and you have to buy a new one!
- you need a UK insurance cover note to buy a tax disc
- temporary cover insurance is expensive but handy
- Super niece is a little imp
- Super nephew is obsessed with my Mum's car. Which happens to be red. *"Want to get in the red car"
- Super nephew and Super niece are ace
- 2-way radios help pass the time on the 550 mile journey down the A1-A14-M11-M25-M20-Channel-A16-A25
- 2-way radios also mean you can play at Top Gear
- having to drive all by yourself means you don't blub anywhere near as much after saying goodbye to parents, as you must concentrate
- French roads and motorways are shit. I knew this already, but driving back in the UK reminds me. They badly need cat's eyes
- French drivers are shit too. I never have to shout and get annoyed when we're at home. I have to shout and get annoyed all the time here
- the small car doesn't have a 65 litre endurance tank. So I can be away from the petrol station ages before Hubby
- our house is on Street View! As is my car, and my Mum's car
- my brother's house is also on Street View. My Dad's car is at their house
- my parents are omnipresent
And that's about all I have to say about that.
Sunday, 1 March 2009
What I have learned today:
- my electric hand mixer is one of my favourite kitchen gadgets. So very useful.
- our hot water is too hot. Ouch. Or maybe I need to make full use of the possibilities of the mixer tap?
- women need men to do icky tasks such as disposing of small animal corpses discovered in the garden. Let's not go into that.
- our garden is an almighty mess.
- ivy is a bugger to dig up
- when our neighbour offers me a few bay leaves, what he actually means is about thirty branches of them. Still, good for spaghetti sauce.
Happy Sunday afternoon everyone.
Saturday, 28 February 2009
But anyway, I did it today. The supermarket was full of imbeciles as usual. It took sodding ages to buy 2 bagfuls of stuff. This is partly because I had to queue for aeons at the cheese counter. I probably didn't need to buy quite so much cheese, but it all looks so nice. Mmmm, cheese. After I'd got all the cheese, I shunned the crappy supermarket veg and grotty looking chicken pieces. Got those from the farm shop. Feel smug and ecomental for this, because my chicken pieces came from a chicken grower 30 miles away and not from the south west of France.
After all this shopping activity, I now have the makings of:
courgette, pine nut and balsamic pastaBut I don't know what to do for lunch. Also am looking for a good (and relatively easy) recipe for panacotta (have some blackberries from the garden in the freezer that will go just nicely with that). Any tips?
baked trout with veg & noodle stir fry
leek, tuna and flageolet rice
chicken stir fry
Thursday, 26 February 2009
Also in the news:
We now have a bank loan for our double glazing, but we haven't chosen the firm we want to fit the windaes yet. I delegate all responsibility to Hubby because as far as I can tell there's no difference between them. We have, however, agreed a quote with the roofer who will replace all the flashing on the upstairs windows once they're done. So that's progress. Plus the chap is from just down the street so I can feel smug about supporting the local economy.
We're away to Scotland soon, hoping to possibly bag us a car while we're there. A week of intensive test-driving awaits. And if we don't find a car we'll still have had a week at home, which is always pleasant.
It's supernephew's birthday next week. I wanted to get him a Scotland rugby jersey, but I can't find any in toddler sizes. Will have to think of something else. Any ideas? His all-time hero is Thomas the Tank Engine...
Sunday, 22 February 2009
As for time wasted on the interweb, the permanent answer is, of course, far too much. But if the interweb were not there, I'd find another way to procrastinate and not do the ironing, so...
I don't think toothpaste can go off. But the Sensodyne still tastes foul. I suppose it hasn't become more rank, which is something to be thankful for.
Valentine gifts: cufflinks. Me to him and him to me. Imaginative? Perhaps not, but useful.
Rugby... let's stay away from topics that get my hackles raised quite so much!
Mobile phone operator finally changed contract. Hurrah. Local council still has no gritter. But I did drive past a sort of roady-worky depot thing yesterday, and there was definitely a pile of grit. When I win the lottery, I will buy them a gritter as a benevolent gift.
Sunday, 8 February 2009
I think also we were missing Nathan Hines on the second row... didn't see much of Ally Hogg either.
Still, all credit to Wales. Even if Scotland were making silly mistakes all over the place.
I wonder, will the bank call tomorrow with news of re-mortgaging? I wonder just how low we can beat the double glazing firms' prices down?
I wonder, how much time will I waste on the interweb this week? On Facebook in particular. Especially now me Mammy's on there.
I wonder, can toothpaste go off? You see, I bought some Sensodyne last year after having my wisdom teeth out, but it tastes so horrid I went back to my Colgate. And why does my sodding toothbrush seem to lose its battery charge so quickly?
I wonder, what should I get Hubby for Valentines' Day? What will he get me?
I wonder, or more I contemplate, that I've had to get my specs out to type this post. Oh, I could manage without, but it's much more comfortable with.
I wonder, will the rugby be good today? Will Scotland be useless or magnificent? How many minutes into the match before Hadden puts Paterson on?
I wonder, why do people think councils should invest in snowploughs costing 100 grand that will only be used once every 20 years. And, if councils did so, how long before the same people would complain about inappropriate spending decisions? I've lived here 8 years and never seen a gritter. But I have seen plenty frozen roads, and a fair bit of snow a couple of winters.
I wonder, will my mobile phone operator finally manage this month to change my contract plan like I instructed them to in December? Grr.
Thursday, 5 February 2009
Anyway, when Ghosty posted this note on Facebook (I don't know if that link will work, actually), I thought "Bingo, will use that to emerge from blogging hibernation". I do approach this task with some degree of trepidation, because the Shuffle button may reveal some of the truly naff tracks I have on my iPod. Here goes then.
1. Put your iPod or iTunes library, MP3 player, etc. on Shuffle.
2. For each question, press the Next button to get your answer.
3. YOU MUST WRITE THAT SONG NAME DOWN NO MATTER HOW SILLY IT SOUNDS.
- IF SOMEONE SAYS "IS THIS OKAY?" YOU SAY...
Always On My Mind - Pet Shop Boys
So far, so good.
- WHAT WOULD BEST DESCRIBE YOUR PERSONALITY?
Desire - U2
- WHAT DO YOU LIKE IN A GUY/GIRL?
The Promised Land - Bruce Springsteen
- WHAT IS YOUR LIFE'S PURPOSE?
Skye (Live) - Runrig
- WHAT IS YOUR MOTTO?
These Are The Days of Our Lives - Queen
I don't know if it's really my motto, but it fits the question pretty well at least!
- WHAT DO YOUR FRIENDS THINK OF YOU?
Fine Time - New Order
- WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT VERY OFTEN?
Absolute Beginners - David Bowie
- WHAT IS 2+2?
Please Don't Die - Robbie Williams
- WHAT DO YOU THINK OF YOUR BEST FRIEND?
We Are The Champions - Queen
- WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE PERSON YOU LIKE?
Radio Ga Ga - Queen
- WHAT IS YOUR LIFE STORY?
Loaded - Primal Scream
- WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU GROW UP?
Long Walk Home - Bruce Springsteen
- WHAT DO YOUR PARENTS THINK OF YOU?
Don't Panic - Coldplay
- WHAT WILL YOU DANCE TO AT YOUR WEDDING?
Pretty in Pink - The Psychedelic Furs
- WHAT WILL THEY PLAY AT YOUR FUNERAL?
Hoppípolla - Sigur Rós
- WHAT IS YOUR HOBBY/INTEREST?
You Don't Fool Me - Queen
- WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST SECRET?
Born To Run - Bruce Springsteen
- WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THIS TEST?
Darkness On The Edge of Town - Bruce Springsteen
OK, my iPod didn't embarrass me too much here. I'm quite surprised at how many Queen and Springsteen tracks it landed on. I wish it would do that all the time.
Feel free to have a go, anyone.
Sunday, 11 January 2009
But then while we were at home we were driven around in my Mum's car which is only 3 years old (read: centuries younger than mine). My dear little motor car did look a bit old next to Mum's shiny (well, pretty mucky if I'm honest) wheels. I got to thinking that maybe a new car wouldn't be such a daft idea after all. Ours is cheap to run day-to-day, but I do have some niggling concerns about expensive things that might start going wrong. For example, when the engine is cold you can't downshift from 3rd to 2nd. You sort of have to miss out 2nd altogether. Does that sound like my gearbox is wearing out? Does anyone know anything about car mechanics?
With this in mind, and out of curiosity, I thought I'd check out used car prices. And my curious form of curiosity saw me checking out used car prices in the UK as well as in France. I wish I hadn't. We're talking a V50 with less than 30k miles on the clock for less than 10 grand. I'm just torturing myself because even if we could afford to buy one, I'll never be able to afford to service it. It's so not fair. More realistically, the sort of car we should be looking at is available used for around £8,800. Same car with similar spec and mileage here in rip-off France? €13,500. The £/€ exchange rate is going to have to go up quite a lot before the French option starts looking like a good buy.
So Hubby and I are thinking about buying a UK (RHD) car and importing it to France. Initial investigations reveal the process to be relatively simple (thank you, Europe) and relatively inexpensive (biggest cost would be changing the headlights to LHD ones). I don't suppose anyone has already done this? (She asks, oh-so optimistically.) I know, I know, the car would be the wrong way round, making using multi-storey car parks a bit of a pain. But as Hubby says, having the steering wheel on the wrong side is worth it to save five grand.
So what do you think? Do we get a Volvo that we can't afford to run just so I can admire it sat parked in the street? Or a sensible hatchback that we can actually keep in petrol and servicing?
So I thought it was about time I replied, and also about time I got on with some blogging.
8 Favourite TV Shows:
1. Top Gear. Some of it is getting a bit tired these days (but come on, it's done 12 seasons of the new format!). The specials (Africa, US road trip, some of the races) are the best.
2. Life on Mars. I'm assuming I can chose programmes no longer on air. Well I just am doing. This was some of the best telly in ages. Gotta love the Gene Genie.
3. EastEnders. I have no shame in admitting to my trash-telly habit.
4. Mock the Week. Much cackling to be had here.
5. Ashes to Ashes. Not as good as Life on Mars. But there's the Gene Genie. And Keeley Hawes is learning to be less annoying.
6. Spooks. Harry Pearce for PM.
7. Only Fools and Horses.
8. Blackadder. Best one was Third series.
8 Things That Happened Yesterday:
1. It was Doggy's 6th birthday! Happy doggy birthday.
2. We bought a huge bag of peanuts at the garden centre to feed the birdies with. Poor birdies. It's very cold.
3. Cocotte & Steph came round for tea. Our excuse this week: Doggy's birthday. Plus we hadn't all seen each other since last year!
4. We went to Renault and looked at cars. They were all too expensive and too diesel-powered.
5. I looked at some other cars on the interweb and chose the one I want.
6. I had an old person's nap.
7. Doggy got a new toy. (No spoilt dogs here. Oh no.)
8. It was 'ckin Baltic. Again.
8 Favourite Places to Eat:
1. Mum & Dad's. Easy answer but then my Mum is a top cook.
2. Chantal & Jean-Paul's (parents-in-law). See above.
3. La Maison Commune. Local café serving local fare.
4. Tea at The Balmoral. For sheer indulgence.
5. La Fenière. It's in the village we go to in the Ardèche and it's lovely.
6. Curry. Here, here, here (biggest peshwari nans you have ever seen), and other places.
7. The Stable Bar for fish and chips.
8. The Dome (more indulgence here).
8 Things I’m Looking Forward To:
1. Next weekend.
3. Next visit to Scotland.
4. Holiday in June I hope.
5. No longer having this crappy lurgy.
6. Seeing Jeni & kids. Have to sort something out!
7. The weekend after next. (!)
8. Our new translation server at work. That we haven't chosen yet.
8 Things On My Wish List:
1. A new (to me) car.
2. Double glazing.
3. Re-mortgaging to pay for the double glazing.
4. A new laptop battery. So not a priority though.
5. A new gas boiler (that might go in the re-mortgaging as well).
6. Above-zero temperatures (quite soon please!).
7. Tickets to the 6 Nations. Maybe next year. Pete'd be up for that.
8. A housework fairy. I'd settle for just the ironing?