Wednesday 31 January 2007

Star dog

Cléo is such an amazing dog she needed to get her very own web album. So here it is: Doggydo. She's just the best.

She is turning into a bit of a telly addict though. This evening on the news there was an item about wolves and she sat and watched them, and she also likes the meerkats on BBC 2 just before Top Gear. Which is back, by the way :)

Saturday 27 January 2007


I made some gingerbread!

As those who know will know (?), home baking doesn't happen often in my house.

I had the oven too hot to start with. I blame this squarely on Mum, who sent me the recipe, and gave the oven temp as Mark 3 (190°C). I did hesitate, thinking that 190° was closer to Mark 5, but I ploughed on ahead. Only after the gingerbread had been in the oven half an hour already did I get out the good housekeeping cookbook to check. For information, Mark 3 is 170°C.

Still, this does not seem to have adversely affected the finished product. Yum. :)

Top Gear -1.5 days and counting.

Friday 26 January 2007

Scary stick man

As seen on YouTube, the scary stick man.

Yes, I've got a day off and clearly have nothing better to do. Actually I did a bit of cleaning earlier. I had to stop because I cut my hand open while I was dysonning. Nevermind how, but it's hard to carry on cleaning with only your left hand operational, especially if you are righthanded.

Latest iPod accessory

As seen on YouTube, the iBlinds!!! A wonderful new iPod gadget.

Actually the film is pretty good and it looks like it took a bit of work. Don't think I'll be getting any though lol.

Wave goodbye

I spoke to Nat on the phone just now. Well, I actually spoke to Mum, but Nat kept coming and pulling at the phone. So I spoke to him too. And when I said "bye bye", he waved. That is very sweet.

I'm really looking forward to seeing him next month.

Thursday 25 January 2007

Three more days to go

Top Gear -3 days and counting :)

I'm going to be a real pain on Sunday I think :)

Please somebody talk this out of time

Tory MP Tim Yeo has dredged this old idea up from the dim and distant past:
He's bringing a private member's bill to the Commons to try and get the UK to switch to central European time. Quite apart from it just being a silly idea, one of the main arguments people use to defend it is in fact one of the main arguments against it. Thus: it would save energy. And it would do this how? Because the daylight would last longer in the evening. Right. Which means it would come later in the morning, yes? So instead of switching on the lights at 5pm in the evening (for example), we'd just find ourselves leaving the lights on until 10am in the morning (let's say). So tell me where the energy saving is because I don't seem to have understood.
I'm also having problems with the road safety angle. Surely with it being darker for longer in the mornings, the accident risk at this time would subsequently increase, thus cancelling out any reduction in accident risk in the evening.
Silly man.

It's the weekend!

It was getting to be time for the weekend. Thank goodness for flexi time days, eh? :)

No snow here. Possibly the only place in the world on the planet where it hasn't snowed. :( Of course, I probably would feel relieved if I had a forty minute drive to work in fine weather. But even if it snows it still only takes 15 minutes to get home.

We bought a lotto scratch card on the way home from work. We won 12 euros. I was debating not telling, because I don't want to get lots of begging letters and hangers-on after a share of our fortune, but I've told you now. :)

Dog is full of beans. She has gained 200g since her operation. I thought she was looking slightly less scrawny.

No plans for the weekend. Probably housework!! Weather outlook poor, but we'll see.

Monday 22 January 2007

Pour les français

Sorry, you have to at least understand French to enjoy this one. And a knowledge of French popular music helps enormously.

Pour les français, j'adore :

Beer for dogs??!

Should I get some of this for Cléo?

She likes Marmite, after all...

Monday cold

It's been cold today. I forgot my gloves in my camera bag so my little hands got cold. I think I would like a car with a heated steering wheel.

Work busy. No change there then. I need to sort out my annual performance meeting stuff. Who has any ideas of amazing things I can say I did at work in 2006???

Nothing much going on here.

Top Gear -6 days, and counting :)

Oh oh oh, it might snow!! :) Then again, it probably won't :( We'll just get boring rain.

Sunday 21 January 2007

Sunday blue

I've got that Sunday afternoon feeling. You know the one, the weekend has already flown by and it's back to work tomorrow. Plus, the sky is looking dark and stormy, so not even the chance of a walk in the offing.

Actually, we already did the walk thing. Managed to get nearly all the way round the park before the rain came. Doggy very much enjoyed herself and got nicely muddy. All over her face as usual!

Last night we were at Jo & Delphine's for dinner. Was very pleasant. We had confit de canard (slow cooked duck thighs). Yum. I had fortunately recovered from my tummy bug and got my appetite back in time for that.

Friday I was poorly with my tummy bug. Poor Hubby and to come and get me from Bailleul (where we were doing year launch, about twenty five miles away)! I'll spare you the details, suffice to say by about 2pm I was empty and didn't dare swallow anything until about 8pm, when I had half a banana.

Thursday we did year launch at work. It was in this converted barn (very rustic) and the wind was howling outside. The electricity kept cutting out. We had fun though. Shame I was ill on Friday :(

The week was busy at work, preparing for year launch and cramming five days of work into three. Thank heavens for our translation memory!!

Round here we seemed to have escaped relatively unscathed from the storms. However, Hubby said when he came home from work on Thursday our street was blocked off. Not where our house is but about eight metres further down! He saw on Friday that a tree was half blown over, which explains it. The main village street was shut off too. There is a small block of flats next to the market place and part of the roof had lifted off apparently. Closer to home, no tiles missing from us - phew.

Top Gear back next week :)

Thursday 11 January 2007

Windy, rainy and windy and rainy

That pretty much sums up the weather.

Cléo's wool coat arrived today. Mum put a sweet little note in with it for her. Made me smile. And the coat fits and she looks proper smart in it! Will upload a photo at some point.

Not much going on. Found this:

Read the comments. I laughed at the guy who tried to say the group's cholesterol came down because they'd had 12 days of relaxation instead of stressful work. Stress is not a factor in high cholesterol. OK, blood pressure, possibly. But high cholesterol comes from a crap diet in 90% of cases, matey.

Can't play on internet tonight, I need to do stuff for our year launch sketch.

ciao bye (for now, maybe).

Monday 8 January 2007

Seatbelts save lives

Is it not time to let this one lie? Diana Spencer died a violent death in an RTA. That's all there is to it. She was a passenger in a speeding car driven by an individual who was at the time under the influence of prescription drugs and alcohol. When the vehicle careered out of control and crashed into the concrete pillars of a Paris underpass, three of its occupants were killed. One person survived, the only person in the car who was wearing a seatbelt. It is highly likely that, had Diana belted up, she also would have survived the accident.

And that's the end of it. Every year, across the world, thousands of people die in traffic accidents because they weren't wearing their seat belts. There are no hand-wringing, inquests, investigations or otherwise. It's just a shit deal.

Moral of the story: belt up! And let her rest in peace for goodness sake.

No headache today hurray

Rain, wind, and a bit more rain. But no headache.

Céline brought in her ultrasound pics to show Sylvie and me. Can you believe we had to ask her? She thought we wouldn't be interested. Tsk.

Poor Carmen Jaeger has to be in traction for a fortnight. She has a slight problem with her left hip, and this should sort it out.

I still have three mini mince pies left over from Christmas. When do they go off do you think?

Sunday 7 January 2007

Sore head again

Headache is back. I don't actually think it ever went away :(

FA cup is on the telly. Man U 1 up against Villa.

Just browsing my photo archives, posting a few to fotothing. Actually got a couple of good shots of the dog in the park earlier.
running dog

Browsing through photo archives

And I came across this little gem:

In a recent post I talked about seminars at work. This one is from the year launch 2005.


Saturday 6 January 2007

134 plastic bags before the end of the year
So all you Brit readers will be using 134 plastic bags each before the year is out. That's a disgrace. I hereby have a gloating opportunity to feel righteous. Here in France, nearly every major supermarket chain no longer hands out free plastic bags. You have several alternative choices:
- get a few of those "bag for life" bags for €1.50 (about £1) each and remember to leave them in the car boot for the weekly shop
- buy a biodegradable bag each time you go shopping. I think these cost about €0.30.
- stick all your shopping in your trolley, then in your car boot, loose and unbagged. Not recommended if you bought eggs.
- you get the idea.
And I think this is highly commendable. Some other major non-grocery retail chains are also jumping on the bandwagon.

Also commendable is the clothing retailer Zara and perfume chain store Sephora - they give you a free bag, but it's made from paper. Better.

Of course, cynics will say that the decision to stop giving out free plastic bags is a financial one. Certainly is. This decision will save the supermarkets and other retailers heaps of cash. And not only the savings of not having to buy the bags, they won't have to pay to have the bags driven from warehouses to their stores in trucks, and they won't have those storage costs to foot either. And they can be righteous in their greenness. And us shoppers can also feel righteous in our greenness. Winners all round.

As far as I know, the only retailer to do this in the UK is Ikea. And they get accused of being cheap. Maybe this policy does save money for them, but it also helps the planet. So free yourselves from plastic bag addiction now. Every little helps, right?

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time

I finished that. I really really enjoyed it. If you haven't already read it (and you probably have) then do so! My only gripe is that it all sort of finished in a rush towards the end. But it was very good.

Rain, grey, rain, cloud, grey

That pretty much describes the weather here today. Fairly miserable.

I'm feeling a bit afflicted by a snotty cold. Sore head and snotty nose. Hey ho. I granted myself a huge lie-in this morning to make up for that.

In other news:
I wanted to make some gingerbread but I don't have enough plain flour. That has put at stop to my domestic goddess plans for today.

The dog wouldn't settle at all last night. She kept on asking to get up. In the end Hubby got fed up with her and took her downstairs and left her there. Of course, I felt sorry for her so I went down and got her after about ten minutes. Poor doggy. She learned her lesson, though, and didn't ask to get up again all night. Hubby thinks she could hear cats in the garden. Maybe.

I took all the Christmas decorations down today, and Hubby packed them all away will I cut the tree into little pieces to put it in the compost bin. I got pine needle rash all over my hands and wrists. Poor me. Now the house looks a bit bare, as it always does. Maybe I'll get some flowers or something to brighten things up.

Our John Lewis pasta plates won't go in the dishwasher! They are too big and block the swirling arm thing. Oh well. It's not like we use them every other day or anything.

Yesterday we watched Munich. It was long. It was also quite good, if a bit gory at times. Worth a watch, and some valid points made in the script. I'll lend it you if you like.

Thursday 4 January 2007

One more day then it's the weekend

We started working on our team's year launch sketch at lunchtime today. We just brainstormed lots of ideas around everyone's projects and it has turned into a sort of TV and advertising-inspired nonsense fest. Most of the scenes are based on either TV adverts or as parodies of TV shows. I don't know how we are going to fit in what are effectively seven mini-sketches in our 20 minute slot, but it should be fun.

I'm looking forward to the year launch a bit more now. I haven't been up til now, but we're getting ideas for our sketch and we'll have a laugh making fools of ourselves, so hey. For those who don't know the score, an annual tradition with my employer is the year "review/launch", which takes place in January. Every team is supposed to take time out to review the year (lots of teams do this by doing comedy sketches of what they've worked on), and launch the coming year's projects. It also usually involves a bit of a party and then some sport with the whole team. Previous launches I have attended included "orienteering", tree-walking and quad biking in Belgium, land-yachting on the Picardy coast, snowshoeing in the north Alps. It's a good idea I think, to review projects and achievements, and boost everyone's energy after the Christmas and New Year break.

Another staple is the mid-year review. These are fun too, taking place in June and involving a mid-year review of projects, a party, and some sport. Most memorable was a mini adventure raid in the south of France in 2004 - canoeing, via ferrata, abseiling down an 80m rock face... Then a big party :)

There are definitely worse companies to work for. And I know this because I've already worked for at least one of them!!

In other news:

Either all our rechargeable batteries are flat or there is a problem with our clock in the living room. That's pointless information I know, but that's what my blog is all about!

Weather is non-descript. I did feel a little ray of hope this afternoon on the way home from work. If you looked to the west, just at the edge of the huge bank of cloud hanging over Lille, there was a patch of clear sky and it wasn't dark. It was clinging on the last traces of day light. Of course, it was only just half past five, still far too early for it to be dark, but there is hope.

I saw a thing on the news about the long term climate forecast for 2007. Apparently they say it's going to be hot again. That's because we're destroying the planet, like I keep saying. I also saw an item about people working in Indian granite quarries, risking their limbs as they use pneumatic drills wearing only flip-flops. Westerners really are like locusts. We use up all our local resources, and then head off around the world to pillage some unsuspecting poor countries and exploit the locals at the same time.

In yet other news:

My dog is lovely. That doesn't really change from one day to the next but she's such a honey I thought I'd mention it.

My husband is alright too. He cooked dinner tonight. And loaded the dishwasher. However this last one was on my orders so only half counts.

And that's all I have to say about that.

Some good news at last

It's about time! These sorts of vehicles are just a whole big load of nonsense!!

Heading for five-nil

England's cricketers seem to have decided that they may as well lose the Ashes test series in style by losing every test and getting properly trounced by the Aussies.

Well it's the only explanation I can think of.

Wednesday 3 January 2007

Odd facts #1

"Dipping seagull eggs in oil, so they do not hatch, is seen as the best way to limit the seagull population. Shooting the birds is too dangerous, while smashing eggs just leads to gulls laying more."

OK. And who has time to go round picking the eggs out of nests (whilst being attacked by angry seagulls), dipping them in oil, and returning them to the nests? Does it work with pigeons too?

Clearly I have spent too long on the interweb this evening. I think that's enough for now.

PS - I have made a blog friend! Check out "My Life Journey's Journal" under Links.

I meant to post this a while ago

Thanks to Paul for bringing this to my attention:
A story to warm your heart. And if it doesn't make you feel all warm and fuzzy, you're a reptile.

And Another Thing

Not me, Jeremy Clarkson's latest book. It's another collection of Sunday Times columns, the follow up to The World According to Clarkson. Mum and Dad gave it to Hubby for Christmas. Because Hubby doesn't know how to read, I read it for him. It's not as funny as the first one, I only sniggered out loud a couple of times.

I'm also reading The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. I have wanted to read this book for a very long time. It's good.

Just for the profile

You have to go here, just to read the profile: !!

When you have nothing better to do...

Check out how much time you can waste on the interweb:
Just like it says on the tin - things to do when you're deadly bored.

This is quirky and interesting:

Learn Ronglish:

Fancy a change of job? This site isn't optimised for Firefox, however.

This is just daft:

Back to work

Hey-ho. It had to be done. I was pleasantly surprised by not too many new emails. I didn't even check to see how many, actually? I think lots of people were off the week between Christmas and New Year, so that helped! Apart from one person (there's always one) who didn't seem to register my out of office message and kept asking what was going on with his hiking shoes signs.

So now I am sitting under a curled up dog with my post-work cuppa, right back in the routine. Hubby and I did our "when we win the lottery" fantasy on the way home in the car tonight. You can tell we just came back off holiday!

Mum and Dad had a good if fairly quiet time at the Hut. Sounds like it was nice. The weather was foul though. I think my centrally-heated house was not such a bad alternative!

I don't have any news from anyone else. I suppose if I checked my other email account I might get some! I need to email lots of people. I need to phone some people too. I need to get organised.

We did get a lovely Christmas email from Jon and Sarah. I got that on my work email today. I need to reply! And Hélène Rochefort (of distant Decathlon past) mailed too. She finally got a permanent contract, so that's really good news. Note to people unfamiliar with France's employment situation: a "permanent" contract is like just a "job" in most other countries, where you get hired and that's it. You then stay forever, or resign at some point in the future or, if you're unlucky, get sacked or laid off. It is a sought-after thing in France, because lots of employers only take people on for a fixed term (anything from 1 to 18 months) - like glorified temping. Which is not really very secure.

Not anything much else to report. Hubby is out at the supermarket getting flour so we can make more bread - the locusts ate it all on Sunday & Monday! Oh yeah, our fridge is finally getting emptied. That's no bad thing. It will now return to its usual bareness...

Tuesday 2 January 2007

Responsible dog owners?

This is truly awful:

But it raises questions:
What was that little girl doing out of her bed in the middle of the night?
Why on earth had she been left alone with a dog?? *
What was her uncle doing with a dog that is illegal to own in the UK?

* I own a dog. I like to think she is reasonably well behaved. She is not a terrier, she is not a guard dog, or a "fighting" dog. But I would never, ever ever ever leave her alone with a child. That is like leaving two children alone together, and giving one of them a set of very sharp knives. No one would do that. So why do people leave their children alone with a dog? Even the most gentle and patient family pet can maul a child. It doesn't take much: maybe the child will take the dog's toy, or poke it in the eye, or pull its tail. Or maybe the dog is just in a bad mood.

I truly hope that dog owners and parents will learn from this upsetting incident. But they won't. People will continue to leave small children unattended with dogs, and this will happen again. And remember, your friendly Labrador is no more trustworthy with a five-year old than some mean looking Staffie. You have been warned.

While I'm here

I may as well wish everyone a happy new year. I hope that what was good in 2006 will be even better in 2007, and that what has been difficult gets easier. I wish you all health and happiness, to you and yours.

God bless.

What I would like to know is this

Why does blogger not save my language settings because each time I log in it shows my dashboard in smelly French and I have to keep telling it to change to English (UK). Tsk.

Back to work tomorrow. [frown]

Today has been mostly sunny again. And quite windy. Doggy and I had a nice quiet day at home. I suppose I should have got dyson out and sucked up some of Cléo's dog hairs. I don't understand where they all come from because I only hoovered just yesterday and there are millions of dog hairs everywhere already.

Got text news from Mum and Dad. Apparently neither of them had a hangover. I find that hard to believe, but that's what they said. Pete rang last night. That was nice. Unfortunately the usual suspects were round so it was a bit hard for me to chat with him. I'll try to call him later in the week. Jeni called yesterday too. She sounded in good spirits.

Which reminds me: David Cherel called over Christmas. Léna gave birth to baby Ilya on... 22 (?) December. He was over 4kg! Monster baby. Ilya is the Russian version of Elijah. I have to remember to get birth gifts for Patrick Clement and Ilya Cherel, so.