On bad weather and snow buggies

“Mostly we have good weather. Sometimes we have bad weather. But that’s good too. Bad weather is good for the soul – it gives you something to complain about”
– an old woman who lives in the darkest place on the planet. It’s dark ALL THE TIME! ALL day, EVERY day, EVERY year. ALWAYS. FOREVER. ARGH. The programme was great, and her attitude was amazing. ๐Ÿ™‚

She also said:
“You can’t say I only stay here because I don’t know anything else, because I do. I’ve travelled. I’ve got a photo of me under a palm tree. That’s good. And palm trees are good. And it’s good when they stay where they are. I guess it doesn’t matter where they are – as long as they don’t get in the way of my snowbuggy!”

(We don’t actually have bad weather at the moment. This is meant as a reminder for when we do.)

On new telephones

Once upon a time there was one glasblower, one phone and one number.
A little while later, a second glassblower arrived. Shortly after his arrival, there was a small argument resulting in a second phone and a second number.

Time passed.

Last year, I strolled onto the scene and used the first phone without so much as a ‘by your leave’. The first glassblower wasn’t there much, so they didn’t complain. Although to be honest, I don’t think they even noticed.

The story would have probably stagnated about here…

…except that at some point between Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning, the powers that be turned both our phones off at work.

No one said anything to us about it, it just happened and we noticed it once it had finished happening.

Three days and several emails to The Phone Man later, a very jovial chap appeared in the workshop and installed two shiny new phones.

***

One would think new phones ought to be much the same as old phones but these weren’t. They have close to 3000 buttons (give or take a few) compared to the 12 the old ones had for a start, some have pictograms and others even change their function depending on what else you’ve pressed.

Obviously we had to try them all out ๐Ÿ™‚ (in that respect, and in many others, I am very grateful for my colleague – he says he hates technology, but gets quite excited by the prospect of pressing buttons to see what happens).

We each have a private number and share the workshop number. We can switch between the two so we can decide if we want to call on behalf of ourselves or the workshop.

We can’t just talk to people (how boring would that be?!), we can now look up their numbers, find out how many people share our names (13 and 16 respectively), redirect all calls, redirect a specific call (“oh, you want to talk to Mr Soandso, hang on, I’ll put you through”), turn the microphone off (“psst, it’s that idiot again – are you here?!”) or the speaker on, add people to the conversation or put people on hold.

We can see who phoned who and when.

We can choose from 30 ring tones, 8 volumes and a dozen background pictures (this is a landline phone, remember?).

We can place requests for the phone to let us know when people are available and we can let them know they should phone back if they aren’t.

It’s quite exciting really.

It took us almost an hour with both phones and my mobile to figure it all out – now all we need to do is wait for someone to phone us!

On Birthdays and Blorthdays

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Go and visit Claudette.
She’s one of my bestest blog-friends, and it’s her birthday today (HAPPY BIRTHDAY CLAUDETTE! :)).

Also, my blog is 3 years old.

And it was my birthday on Friday.

So.

Everything points to having a Blorthday Party.

I’m not really sure how Blorthday Parties work, so you’ll have to help me out. All ideas welcome (although I reserve the right to declare them ridiculous as I see fit…).

As a start, I suggest you post me a blog url you think I might like, before heading off to see Claudette.

***

If it’s YOUR birthday too, tell us so. It won’t necessarily make anything happen, but at least we’ll know ๐Ÿ˜‰

On having a bath with a fridge

While we changed the worktops in the kitchen, the fridge was banished to the bathroom, where we danced round it, trying not to get any of the decades worth of dusty grease on our clothes in passing.

In the end, DB had a bath while I bathed (= scrubbed) the fridge ;).

Both looked and felt (and smelled ;)) a whole lot better for it!

On rolling trees

This is a very small pile of enormous chunks of tree:

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The pile behind the house is a LOT bigger.

We rolled, heaved and wheelbarrowed it all into a huge heap.

I was probably not as much help as I could have been, because I stopped to look at the ivy,

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And the rings,

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and take pictures of the proceedings.

I also took this picture of the back of the van once we’d finished unloading it

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The blue patch was originally covered with a flattened cardboard box…

(Edit for Skybright: the wood’s for DB’s parents: They have a wood burning stove, we have the woodpile and the woodsplitter…)

On illogical guilt

Can someone please explain why my brain feels the need to produce guilty-conscience-feelings for vacuuming so noisily during 5 minutes of DB’s TV programme (which he was dozing through anyway), whereas his is perfectly content to relax so lazily through my cleaning???

It’s not as if I mind him lying on the sofa, watching TV while I vacuum, he’s ill (again), and could use the down-time…it’s just my thought patterns I don’t understand.

If you have any ideas, please throw them my way!

On making mincemeat of it – part 1

Every year, I make a load of mincemeat, for myself, my family, and anyone else who wants some.

Every year, I make it up as I go along, and no one’s complained yet.

This is part 1 of the recipe – insofar as it can be called a recipe – for 2015.

***

A word of caution to anyone who wants to actually use this recipe:
Please wait until I’ve finished and got it into jars, BEFORE starting. I tweak recipes as I go, and that’s probably annoying for people who follow instructions… (or who live further away from shops than I do).

***

Take one huge saucepan…

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…the rind and juice from 8 oranges (ca 2kg) and 8 lemons (ca. 1kg)…

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…16 grated apples (or half grated, half chopped) (ca.3kg). I took the cores out, but I suppose you could leave them in…

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…6-8 packets (ca.1,5kg) of raisins/sultanas, checking for bits of twig first…

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….a tub of chopped prunes/dried plums…

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…a tray of dried figs…

…4/3 cup of soft light brown sugar and 4/3 cup of soft dark brown sugar. (It probably doesn’t matter what kind of sugar, and I might add more tomorrow)…

…and a lot of allspice (2-3 tablespoons).

Stir well, and leave to sit overnight.
(A couple of pictures are missing – I’ll add them later)

On listening to multiple voices

DB’s parents both tend to talk (to me, and anyone else who’ll listen) at the same time. As a result, I often don’t understand either of them (or at least can’t follow either topic properly). Three simultaneous conversations between the four of us are no rarity. I suppose I should offer a fourth, but I can’t think straight enough to form sentences while they’re all yakking away.

I quite regularly complain about it/them to DB who always tells me it’s not that hard and I’ll get used to it soon.

***

Today, we came home from the specialist via his cousin and aunt.

They both talk at the same time too (must be in the genes), but with the added bonus of a heavy dialect on top.

Back in the car, DB ranted about how it was impossible to understand a word they were saying when they spoke over each other.

I still can’t, so I couldn’t tell him it was easy, or that he just needed more practice and he’d be fine – but I did remind him that his folks aren’t a whole lot better!

Apparently that’s different……..

On buying problems in a wine bottle

I lugged my suitcase up the steps and onto the train and breathed out – unaware that I’d even been holding my breath..

Looking around, it became apparent that I’d landed in the first class carriage. I would have to wrangle my suitcase and an unwieldy bag of picture frames* through the restaurant car and past the private cabins, but at least I was on the train.

***

The station had been full of people walking slowly, and I’d got stuck behind a deaf couple going just fast enough to make it hard to overtake without bashing someone.

They were too busy signing with each other to notice me, and since asking them to either hurry up or let me through was a hopeless case, I tried not to think about the time, and instead concentrated on not ramming them with my luggage.

The train was already there and the platform was mostly empty by the time I’d made my way up the escalator. Luckily.

I ran, or stumbled, unhindered (except by myself) along the platform and hurled myself at an unblocked door.

***

The train left before I’d had a chance to find a seat. I lurched forwards, trying not to fall on anyone, and still panting from running along the platform.

I asked the first person sitting by themselves if the seat next to them was free and flopped into place as they moved over to the window seat.

After getting [most of] my breath back, I checked my phone, told DB I’d caught the train ok, repositioned the picture frames so that they weren’t poking my legs more than necessary and took out the biscuit tin.

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One of the guys at the meeting on Saturday had provided 3 tins of Christmas biscuits and since we hadn’t eaten them all yet, they were offered to whoever wanted them.

It’s still a bit early for Christmas biscuits, but they are good ones, and they are easy to eat on trains so I volunteered to take one of the tins off their hands :).

Anyway. It’s a little bit rude to eat biscuits by oneself, even if you don’t know your neighbours, so I turned to the window-seat-man and offered him the tin. He looked a little bit lot perplexed, but ate one regardless. ๐Ÿ™‚

Then he reached down into his bag and produced a slim black tin which he presented me..

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For some reason I first thought it must be cigars, but it turned out to be chocolates – “from Dubai”, he said casually, as if everyone carried excess tins of Dubai chocolates with them**..

A surprisingly interesting conversation ensued – he’s an on-call pilot for a rich Russian bloke with a private jet and a string of inportant worldwide business meetings (hence the chocolates from Dubai ;)) – and I was a bit disappointed that he was changing trains after only a couple of stops.

As the train pulled up to his station, he started gathering his stuff together. A coat, a suitcase, a laptop bag….and a very large cardboard box.

“That’s a bottle of wine. A very big bottle of wine. A huge bottle. I bought it in Italy and it’s the reason I’m on the train. I usually fly home, but I wasn’t allowed to take it on the plane! Taking liquid on my bosses plane is ok, but not on passenger machines… I should have known that I wasn’t buying wine, I was buying problems in a bottle!”

And with that, a smile and a wave, he was gone, leaving me with a small black tin of chocolates and a story for my travel collection – and a post! ๐Ÿ™‚

* Three were almost exactly what I’d been looking for, for a project I’m working on, two were simple and colourful and would go well on my wall. And besides, they weren’t very expensive and I don’t go shopping much ;).

** If they do, can someone tell me why I knew nothing about it?

On not being rockstar material

Argh. Written but somehow not sent last night…

***

It’s Sunday.

I have been ‘on the road’ since Thursday. That’s 4 days.

4 days isn’t exactly a long time.

Not really, in the big scheme of things.

But.

Thursday certainly seems like a long time ago.

I am knackered.

I even fell asleep on the sofa at last night’s birthday party*.

It’s really really good to see all the people I rarely see otherwise, but I’m not capable of keeping this pace up for long.

I have a 7 hour train journey home tomorrow, and a colleague’s birthday party and a day trip to a specialist on Tuesday. After that, life’s back to normal** and I can [hopefully] get enough sleep again.

There is NO WAY I could go on a 6 month tour – somewhere new every day and a concert or two every night would probably kill me….

***

* and apparently while pressing ‘publish’……

** commuting and working and gardening and looking after the house – which used to feel crazily busy, but will seem relaxing compared to the last few days ๐Ÿ˜‰

On [not] helping

I spent a lot of yesterday getting on and off trains.

I love the freedom of county tickets and days off – the freedom to do exactly what I want, where I want to do it. ๐Ÿ™‚

Each time I realised the current plan wasn’t going to work, I changed it, checking the timetables in the stations and on my phone as needed.

I took my time over breakfast, looking at churches, letting the dried fruit salesman persuade me to buy horrendous amounts of ginger, walking through town, perusing the postcard stands and eating local sausages from a street market stall.

Overall, everything worked out well, but I ended up waiting for half an hour on a semi-desolate platform in a fairly small town / large village.

A Turkish guy asked me in very broken German if I could help him work out which trains to catch across most of southern Germany to Munich. He’d got a ticket, but had missed the train he was supposed to get, and was a little bit out of his depth.

I’ve been stranded on enough platforms with little or no idea which train to catch or how to read the timetable or what all the abbreviations mean, to know how helpless it makes you feel. Even if you speak the language it’s tough in a strange place.

I’ve also been helped by more people than I can remember. People who have helped me figure out what sort of train (local, regional, national, express) I’m allowed on to with which ticket, which buttons to press to get the machine to talk to me, where to punch the ticket before getting on the train, how to get to the platform I need, …….

Whatever.

My phone battery survived just long enough to look up a connection for him and write it on the back of an envelope. We figured out which platform he needed and all was good. He phoned his German speaking supervisor (he was supposed to be meeting them, but was running late) and asked me to tell them we’d sorted things out and that he was on his way but was going to be there later than previously arranged.

In the middle of the phone call, an elderly-ish gentleman came up and demanded to know where he was headed, he picked up some of what I was telling the supervisor and proceeded to read him the timetable, loudly, jabbing his finger at the board and asking if he ‘couldn’t even read’. (The fact that the timetable only tells you the end destination and maybe 30% of the stops (per journey) was irrelevant. As was the fact that he needed to change trains a couple of times).

I finished the call, already irritated that he had talked at me throughout most of it (can’t stand that!), whereupon he told me he’d watched the guy miss the train he needed twice.

Twice, when the train goes once an hour, means he’s been watching him for two hours.

!!!!!!

What’s with that???

What could make a person spend two hours sitting on a platform watching a foreigner miss multiple trains???

And then, having spent two hours being remarkably unhelpful, what would make them decide to get involved once the situation’s already been resolved???

I really really don’t understand some people.

On falling asleep mid-post

Anyone would think that with all this train travel, I’d be able to get something written before crashing out…

…apparently not.

The meeting went on til gone midnight, and once I’d walked back to the hotel I was too knackered to hold my phone for long enough to finish writing and press send.

No sticking power – the youth of today!!