Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The strike

This is funny.

There is another angle

I can't help but feel sorry for the Greek people.
That probably sounds strange because in reality they need to wake up and join the real world but to be fair to them they have been massively let down by successive governments who have thrown money at them in order to keep them onside and in line.
They have come to expect and demand an unrealistic way of life funded over many years by lying governments. Governments that have never cracked down on corruption or attempted to balance the books.
In 1980 after a Mediterranean cruise by our president, I was told by my company (an American bank) to examine the possibility of opening up an operation in Greece.
'Great,' I thought, 'an all expenses trip to Greece swanning around the capital in five star luxury (expenses were good in those days).'
'Oh no,' I was told, 'you can't spend any money, you have to do it from Leeds.'
Anyway after a couple of weeks of research, without so much as a drop of ouzo or suffering any sunburn, using amongst other things Leeds Reference Library I produced my report.
Needless to say the report was negative and even now I remember my final sentence. "I think that there is about as much chance of us opening a successful operation in Greece as there is of the Ayatolla Khomeini leading the American athletes, carrying the US flag, at the next Olympics."
How right I was.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Memory lane (again)

Craig's post from Sunday made me think about past cars that I'd owned. My uncle, who used to buy and sell cars, gave me an old Morris 10 when I was 16 that I used to drive around the field opposite where we lived.
That's pretty much how I learnt to drive. My friend and I used to drive it like lunatics around the field in a figure of eight. I remember that one day we hit an apple tree head on, with the sunroof open, and then being hit on the head by loads of falling apples.
Another way of learning, was driving with my uncle to the south of Italy in a Standard Vanguard. I seem to remember that it had a bench seat so that I could steer whilst he changed gears. Bear in mind that it was a long way with motorways only in Italy and used to take us a couple of days non-stop, but I know that's no excuse.
Anyway I passed my test one month after my 17th birthday and never looked back.
I remember getting a couple of hundred quid for my 21st and popped out to buy a well looked after black 1948 MG TC. Registration number FAK 57.
I learnt a lot about cars trying to keep the damn thing on the road. Thank god for Naylor Brothers in Shipley. After a few years, when I got my first company car, I sold the MG to an American, from Menwith Hill, for a few quid more than I paid for it and he said he was going to race it. God knows where, because it wasn't in race trim when it left me.
What would the registration plate be worth now, never mind the car?

Monday, June 27, 2011

More PC

I hate the word poo.
There are loads of other words that already exist that convey the same meaning without using a word that you might use with a young child.
Even then I personally wouldn't use it. It's as if the word poo somehow sanitises it for our gentle ears.
It's all a load of testicles, gonads, huevosfamily jewels, bollocks.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The sun has got its hat on

It was a recent post by Peter, who lives near where we used to live in the south of France, that made me realise that I'd become fed up with the extreme temperatures of that area. I suspect that, like most people, when you initially get to France you revel in the sunshine and heat but for me, after a fairly short time, the heat, quite often into the mid 30's, got me down and for a few weeks every year it could be downright unpleasant.
This got me thinking about what I really enjoyed about the weather there and what it finally boiled down to was the sunshine. My most pleasant memories are of being out and about in the middle of winter in bright sunshine and winter lunches on the kitchen terrace.
Despite very cold night temperatures in winter, during the day the weather wasn't too hot but it was pleasant and above all sunny. A stark contrast to what you could expect in the UK.
So what changed? Well, the weather did. For the last two years that we lived there the weather was different, not what we'd got used to. What we really liked was the temperate winter months, spring and autumn and that outweighed the more extreme heat of summer.
Just before we left the winter months became colder, windier, wetter and much less reliable, so my attitude changed. We weren't getting many of the benefits of a milder winter.
Now the first thing to say is that this view was only formed over a nine year period and it could just have been a blip and of course the weather will always be better on average than the UK.
The weather seems to be changing all over Europe so only time will tell whether this pattern will last.
In the meantime it was over 27C here today, hot and sunny, with more of the same forecast for tomorrow.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Take the test

This article is rather alarming. I have Type 2 diabetes and I found out that I had it totally by accident. I have never had symptoms, that I am aware of, so I assume that the disease would have been ravaging my body and I would have suffered major health problems or a premature death. As it is, my problem now appears to be under control.
I strongly recommend that everyone should get tested, it's quick, easy and simple. It involves just a small prick (is that how you found out? - Ed)

Friday, June 24, 2011

Where Have All the Flowers Gone?

I read a balance of at least two right and two left wing papers everyday but when I'm feeling low (or bored) I dip into The Socialist Worker for a laugh (and sometimes a cry).
After living way beyond their means for years in a country where paying tax was discretionary, with people retiring at 50 on full pay and pharmacies guaranteed 35% profits, this article about Greek workers made me laugh.
Reminded me of Pete Seeger's lyrics,
'When will they ever learn, when will they ever learn.'

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Strange coincidence

From time to time Jan and I dress similarly. I guess because after a few years you get into some kind of 'sync.' Whilst I still can't get into her underwear it's amazing how often we use a similar colour combination.
But what about this for a spooky coincidence? During their recent visit, Ben and Paula dressed their son Luke for a trip out to a restaurant. In a different part of the house I got dressed.
You can see the result below.
How spooky is that?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Wasting time

We had a visit from good friends today whom we last saw when they visited us in France.
They were on their way north, to Edinburgh, to remove their daughter's property from her place at uni. This reminded me of all the times that I had to do it for my kids many moons ago.
What an absolute waste of time, money and energy. My son in particular had to move his possessions in and out at the beginning and end of every term. I used to spit blood because he carried everything including the kitchen sink and over the futility of it all. I think they made them empty their rooms because they could use them for conferences out of term time.
The distance between where you could park the car and his accommodation was always an issue and James was the expert at doing very little of the actual shifting. Thank goodness it wasn't too far away from where we lived so that we didn't have several hours travelling as well.
For all you budding entrepreneurs out there I think that there's a business opportunity, shifting or shifting and storing.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Exorcist

Dirt Devil-The Exorcist from MrPrice2U on Vimeo.

Confused of Ripon

I've mentioned Menwith Hill a few times over the last few years and you can see the place on the horizon as you drive south out of Ripon towards Harrogate. The radomes, situated in a very unspoilt natural setting, are to me somewhat spooky and magnificent at the same time. This article was interesting but despite the serious nature of the content one bit made me laugh.

"Campaigners claim the presence of the US technology at Menwith Hill heightens the risk of a pre-emptive attack on the UK as a means of disabling America's missile-detection system."

Logic seems to bypass some of these people. The day a foreign power decides to bomb Menwith Hill is the day that it's all over anyway. The notion that during a new (nuclear) world war that somehow the UK would be ignored and left to keep voting on important things like The X Factor is in my mind just a little naive.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The first words

We were awake really early this morning (well early for us) mainly because I woke with an excruciating pain in my ankle. Not only was it painful but my foot was twisted over.
My first thought was 'bugger, now I'm a cripple, this wasn't planned.'
Anyway we reckoned that it was cramp but not a cramp that you knew how to handle. Strange.
This little episode woke us both up so we started to discuss the logistics for the day. The rest of our visitors arrive during the course of the day and we had to figure out how we were going to sort it all out and keep everybody happy. It was really tricky but we eventually got it worked out and settled down to a more esoteric discussion.
A discussion about The Lone Ranger. First we tried to remember who played the part. I could remember that it was Jay Silverheels who played Tonto but could only get as far as Clayton something for the man himself.
We talked about the opening sequence where TLR rides Silver up a small hill, the horse rears up and then he rides off again. I mentioned to Jan that by modern standards you'd put the horse down as unmanageable.
It then dawned on me that the first foreign word I ever learnt was 'kemosabe' which even now were not sure what it means.
You see how deep and meaningful our conversations are. And there you were thinking that we're thick!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Yorke Arms

Only when I was 'on expenses', many years ago, did I ever eat in Michelin starred restaurants.
Apart from a couple of experiences in France, in the last 10 years we've never eaten in one and certainly not in England. Today that changed.
Jan's eldest, Ben, and wife Paula, are visiting from Barcelona and, having watched The Trip over there, they decided that a visit to The Yorke Arms was in order.
As it's nearby and as we are still waiting for more visitors to arrive, a small group made the visit much more financially viable (if visits to Michelin starred restaurants could ever be described as financially viable).
Anyway, the weather was promising to be the best of the next few days so a trip into the countryside was going to be combined with this experience. Neither Ben nor Paula nor their daughter, the delightful Kate, had ever ventured this far north before so we were determined to show off the area to the best of our ability.
I know and love the Nidd valley having been introduced to it when I was a youngster by my Uncle Harry, who was born in Lofthouse.
Both Jan and I have visited the Sportsmans Arms several times, which is just down the road, but this was a first for The Yorke Arms.
I must admit that I was a bit worried because we were going with a three years old and a baby to the sort of establishment where you would normally find peace and quiet. Their presence was no problem for the restaurant and the children were obviously welcomed. That took a lot of pressure off the visit. However we needn't have worried because the behaviour of both the children was exemplary. Luke because he was asleep and Kate because she is used to sitting en famille for her meals.
The set price lunch was £35 per head with a choice from three for each of the three courses. I started with a duck and foie gras terrine, followed by venison and finished with a plate of several different chocolate deserts. The others all chose different things and there was nothing but pleasant grunting noises all round the table throughout the meal. Absolutely fabulous. With two bottles of wine the bill for four was £150. Obviously a place for special occasions. Very highly recommended.
After that we headed home but not before we bought pies for dinner in Pateley Bridge and explored Brimham Rocks. A fabulous day.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The ultimate quandry

I suppose that it's a sign of my age that I have started to think more about the recent discussions on assisted suicide and what my attitude is. I have no fear of death, as long as it's fairly quick and painless, but I do have a fear of living my last days with a poor quality of life or worse still as a vegetable being looked after by others (not much change there then - Ed).
Neither of us wanted to watch last night's programme on BBC, me because there's enough depressing stuff on TV and Jan for very similar reasons. We both feel that we should have the right to die, where and when we want but we respect others if they feel differently.
I suppose it's the ultimate selfish act. My real fear is the pain that may result with one's nearest and dearest and in particular those that would like you to stay around. I guess you'd have to start a long drawn out process in getting people used to the idea.
All very interesting.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Where's my horse

I don't normally do rain but I was feeling guilty.
Guilty, as in I hadn't yet worn Jan's birthday present to me (cos I don't do rain, remember?), but today was the day.
I'd always fancied a stockman's coat, one like the cowboys used to wear as they rode into town in the rain, looking for somebody to kill. Jan, bless her, bought me one on our arrival in England. She seemed to think it might rain. How pessimistic is that?
'Do I look good in this?' I asked hopefully, 'or do I look like a prat?'
I could tell by her laughter that she was happy.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Help needed

I'm even ashamed to write this, but here goes. When we lived in France the dogs slept in the study right next to our bedroom. Like me, they were rarely allowed in the bedroom, but that's another story.
Here in the UK they sleep in the garage which is a relatively short distance vertically from where we sleep now. The other day Max was suffering with the squits and attempted to let himself out of the house in the middle of the night. It was only by chance that we heard him, so I got up, opened the door and let him out.
All this just fed Jan's ongoing paranoia about not being able to hear the dogs in the middle of the night.
So what did she send me out to buy yesterday?
A baby alarm.
One that can be set up in our bedroom and also near the exit door that the dogs would use to leave the house, so that we could hear them.
When you meet her, Jan comes over as nice and normal but, mes braves, I keep a diary. A diary that might be needed sometime in the future and that  sure as hell I will use in my defence.
Talking about needing help (that's a good segue - Ed), do any of you super smart people out there know what the above tree is?
I know one of you is very clever but I can't remember which one. Our Ladybird book of trees and shrubs didn't help, nor did at least five exhausting minutes searching the internet. Gissa clue.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Missed again

Looking down the Queen's Birthday Honours List today, I failed yet again to spot my name. Admittedly there are lots of names and the writing's very small so it would be easy to miss. So I checked it again. Nothing.
What's with this list anyway? If you don't make it this time then it's no big deal. That's what my therapist said to me but in any case I'll check it again next year.
Like my Premium Bond, I know it will come up one day.

Friday, June 10, 2011

You want how many?

It all started about nine months ago when we were house hunting.
We found ourselves in Pateley Bridge, searching for our next bijou property, and were wandering up and down the High Street searching for estate agents.
Towards the top was (and is) a butchers shop (above) with the most delicious looking pies sitting right there in the window.
Kendall's Farm Butchers was the name of the shop and I was in the mood for a pie (or two - Ed). If we were going to live here some research was needed and I needed to check out the local shops.
The chap serving us was very jolly and even pointed out a house nearby that he said we should buy.
Back to the pies. We chose several different types but one in particular stood out. It was a small pork pie shaped pie that tasted absolutely delicious. It was a beef and onion pie that they only make ten of every day (so rare, as well) with the most delicious pastry and even more delicious filling. Believe me, my mouth is watering as I write this.

Back to the present. We were on our way to Lancashire, via Pateley Bridge, to meet some nice  folks, for the first time, who had offered to do us a favour (more about that later), so I decided that we should take something to say hello and thank you. Jan went off to buy flowers and I decided to take a pie (two actually). I think we might have two left said the pie man (so that scuppered any chance of buying some on the way back), and he went out the back and sure enough he found two. Jan on the other hand failed miserably in her search for flowers and decided to buy some locally made chutney and jam (you figure).
Anyway we then headed over the top into Lancashire, with our peace offering for the natives, but not before I had a pang of doubt. Severe doubt. What if I'd bought the wrong pie? Was it the same one that I remembered all those months back? There was only one way to find out. So I did.
It was absolutely delicious, not quite as I remembered, but then it never is, is it? But very, very good indeed.
Would our new friends know that we'd set off with two but only delivered one. Nah, they'd got the bloody chutney as well. Job done.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


Thank you BBC news for not only promoting BBC programmes, yet again, but also for putting my troubled mind at rest about who is going to appear in your children's programmes. They talk about dumbing down!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

All is explained

When I go to bed at night I'm usually very, very tired, and now I understand why. Thanks to Will.

Monday, June 6, 2011

DSK again

I have never liked the filming of accused in handcuffs. For me it's contrary to natural justice.
But, assuming that the quotes are correct then this article shows a real problem with social attitudes in France and with commentators in particular. The ones that stood out for me were:

1 Sophie de Menthion - 'just another minor alleged crime.'

2 Jean-Francois Khan - 'more likely an act of imprudence, a bit of domestic tupping.'

3 Bernard-Henri Levy - 'on the pretence that he was a citizen like any other.'

Such arrogance from a so called intellectual elite. He is who he is, he's French and above the law. None condemned his actions just his treatment. They're not exactly helping his cause but then they all sound pretty thick to me.


It's amazing how tired the dogs are when they come back from kennels. Minnie looked particularly shattered this last time and Jan wondered if she was ill. Given the noise of dogs barking whenever we go there, I suppose it's no wonder. Especially if it carries on into the night. Generally, they both collapse when they get home after a few days in kennels, obviously more used to a tranquil life with us (some might say boring - Ed).
We have found what we consider to be really good kennels and 'S' who runs it really likes our two.
The dogs have access to a couple of free run outdoor areas which can be accessed from their kennel. These areas can also be accessed by a door from the 'human' side of the kennels.
So 'S' was sitting in the office doing some paperwork and could hear the patter of not so tiny feet in the corridor. It turned out that Max, who hates to be on the other side of a door that's shut, sees doors as a challenge, and had opened the door and let himself (followed by Minnie) into the office area.
Naturally she told him off. The next time she heard the door opening she went to investigate. Instead of entering the building, he'd opened the door and  was sitting outside, peeping around the corner, looking in. Bless.
She thought it was hilarious and I still laugh when I think about it.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

My kinda music

You sold what?

After reading recently about a Chinese, teenage, idiot who sold a kidney in order to buy an iPad, I thought that this was very funny.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Enough misery already

Just screw it on

Jan has finally sorted the shed out. You can now see inside and you can also find stuff. Hats off, she's done a great job.
One of the last things to emerge was the Weber gas barbecue. I had already ordered a new propane regulator from a Weber dealer and I attempted to fix it on today.
Why doesn't anything run smoothly? In the back of my mind I suspected a problem cos France always does stuff differently but Weber man said you just screw it on. Wrong, it was totally the wrong size.
You'd think that Weber would build stuff the same for everywhere but no. France will always have its say. I then spent a couple of hours changing fittings which wasn't something I really wanted to do given that you're dealing with gas.
Still, I'll buy a gas bottle tomorrow and let Jan light it, cos she's good at that sort of thing and she doesn't burn as easily as me.

Fancy another giggle?

This made me laugh.

Friday, June 3, 2011

North vs South

As we drive around this area, with all its beautiful scenery, Jan has inexplicably commented on the type of road kill she sees. Typically the road kill around here is pheasant which I take as normal but she sees as very posh.
Somewhat different to the rats and hedgehogs that she is used to coming from St Albans. It's a bit of a culture shock for her.
Staying on the north south divide, she always makes a comment when I pronounce scone as rhyming with 'on' and not as the soft south version scone as rhyming with 'own'.
And then to top it all, the other morning she said, 'you're not going northern on me are you?'
I feel a corrective interview coming on!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Confused of Ripon

We had some stuff delivered the other day but because we were out the delivery company left the parcel next door.
Anyway, they left a card saying what they had done. The name of the company? Yodel.
I asked Jan what she had ordered from Switzerland and received a blank stare. On very close examination of the card it said in the tiniest print at the bottom, 'Formerly Home Delivery Network.'
What on earth would make a company change its name from something that is immediately recognisable to something that is frankly stupid? (Except of course that you are talking about it - Ed)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Says it all

Obsessions 2

That's it. I've given up.
During the search for an Italian newspaper we've tried the railway station, the main W H Smith in Leeds and various other news kiosks, with no luck.
As Craig said the only option is to look at the papers on a computer but somebody with more patience than me is going to have to try that route.
The actual reason we were in Leeds was to get some Thai basil and a few other oriental goodies for Jan. She knows that I'm very fussy about my penang curry and that it will be sent back to the kitchen if it's made without the proper ingredients.
A quick search found Tai Lee Hong Cash and Carry in Leeds. What a good find. It had everything she needed and more. A few quids later we set off for our next little treat.
But first, let me explain. We're having a week off (every week is a week off for you two - Ed). We originally had guests scheduled for this week and our kennels did us a very big favour by squeezing the dogs in. Subsequently, our visitors couldn't come but rather than let the kennels down we decided to spend some time without them, not having to worry that we'd be back in time to look after them and do things that we wouldn't normally do.
Back to the next treat. We'd promised ourselves a meal at Mumtaz and as we were in Leeds this was the time to do it. Our expectations were very high, having read good things, and we found the place down by the Clarence dock complex in Leeds.
As we entered the restaurant we were blown away by the opulence. It was huge, decorated in black and silver with marble floors. The ultimate in bling. Excellent.
We were however a little disappointed with the menu. We were expecting something really special but we found just a list of the old favourites. In itself no bad thing but our expectation was different.
What was good however was the cooking.  The dishes were obviously prepared and cooked to a much higher standard than you would expect from a curry house and elements of it were quite amazing. The bill was very reasonable and we left a happy couple. Recommended.