Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Hampshire from Hampshire

We're down in Hampshire at the moment visiting Jan's family.
Eating when you're on the road is an interesting challenge especially when you are used to salads and stuff like that.
The motorway services aren't too bad and in particular yours truly is always on the lookout for an M&S shop so that I can stuff one of their New York Deli Pastrami and Rye into my petite mouth (stop, I'll choke - Ed). We didn't have much luck on the way down because we stayed off the motorways but when we got to Alton we headed into town and raided M&S.
After a lovely fresh prawn salad we spoilt the healthy effect by eating several 'yum yum' donuts. Excellent.

Monday, January 30, 2012

To queen or not to queen

I like the queen and as a result deem myself a monarchist.
In my opinion she has performed her duties as head of state with total dedication and without compromise. But before you disagree think for a minute or two about the merits of President Clinton or President Sarkozy. Do I have some complaints, well a few, but not enough to say that overall she doesn't do a good job.
My main complaint is that she doesn't have Windsor castle illuminated at night, other than for official functions. As an ex Windsor resident I can't tell you how magnificent it looked when it was lit up as you drove down the M4. It made you feel warm and proud at the same time.  It is one of our few grand, national monuments and should be illuminated at all times. Bloody hell, Ripon Cathedral is illuminated at night thanks to private sponsorship so why not Windsor castle (I must admit the thought of seeing the Kwik Fit logo splashed up the side of the castle does make me smile)?
But I digress, back to the monarchy. Seems like Brenda does everything that is asked of her and will do so until the day she dies. That's pretty damn good in my book.
What I fear most is Prince Charles taking over the throne. I know nothing about the man other than to see him ponce around in antiquated clothing and talking like a total tosser in a most unnatural and affected way. He's roughly the same age as me but, according to Jan (an avowed republican), I at least look and sound normal (she's not right about everything you know - Ed).

Friday, January 27, 2012

The old pilot

An old Marine Pilot sat down in a Starbucks, still wearing his old USMC flight suit and leather jacket and ordered a cup of coffee.
As he sat sipping his coffee, a young woman sat down next to him. She turned to the pilot and asked, “Are you a real pilot?”
He replied, “Well, I've spent my whole life flying planes, first it was Stearmans, then the early Grummans, flew a Wildcat and Corsair in WWII, and later in the Korean conflict, Banshees and Cougars.

I've taught more than 260 people to fly and given rides to hundreds, so I guess I am a pilot, and you, what are you?”
“I'm a lesbian, she said. “I spend my whole day thinking about naked women. As soon as I get up in the morning, I think about naked women. When I shower, I think about naked women. When I watch TV, I think about naked women.  It seems like everything makes me think about naked women.”
The two sat sipping in silence.
A little while later, a young man sat down on the other side of the old pilot and asked, "Are you a real pilot?"
“Always thought I was,” he replied, “but I just found out that I'm a lesbian.”

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Confused people

When Jan asked me what I wanted for breakfast yesterday she produced a bacon sandwich. This reminded me that if I was to become a vegetarian, bacon would be the one thing that I would sorely miss.
Which then led me to consider the unlikely and contradictory vegetarian haggis. A haggis for people that aren't really vegetarians?
Why do some veggie dishes have to imitate meat products? What's wrong with inventing your own concoctions and stop pretending that they're a meat substitute. How stupid is that?
It's almost as stupid as an Indian chef mixing both a Scottish and an Indian anniversary, because he's a bit short of publicity, and coming up with a ScottIndian dish. Strange.
And, before I get inundated with death threats from the knit your own yoghurt brigade, I like and enjoy vegetable only dishes. My son used to be vegetarian (now eats fish) and Jan cooked lots of really tasty and interesting vegetable only dishes. Excellent.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

On the road to Damascus

We're having an expensive excellent lunch at The Malt Shovel with my mother and I was looking at Jan with my reading glasses perched on the end of my nose.
"You have a spurious look of intelligence," she said.
Given that we were celebrating my upcoming birthday I thought that, no matter how true, it was a rather cutting remark. But not being one to take offence too easily we chatted about others that share my birth date.
The thing that winds me up the most, that gets my goat, is having to 'share' it with Robbie Bloody Burns. A so called Scottish poet that writes unintelligible drivel, who nobody in England has ever studied (because it's rubbish) but which lots of English seem happy to celebrate with Scottish exiles wherever they are. The haggis, the piper, the toast, it's all total bollocks and has got nothing whatsoever to do with English people.
Anyway, apropos of nothing, my mother interrupted my rant by reminding anyone who would listen (which wasn't many) that it was also a celebration of the Conversion of St Paul. As my mother is rather elderly and I haven't had the heart to mention that I'd converted to atheism, I bit my tongue, avoided a rant, (I thought at that stage that she might be going to pay for lunch) but couldn't resist a "what's that got to do with anything," comment?
I'm not paranoid but it seems like the whole world is against me.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


Just when you thought that there isn't much news, I'm pleased to say that it's Max's birthday today.
He's eight years old, but how does he celebrate it? By waking us at 4.00 in the morning for absolutely no reason that we could fathom. He seemed a bit agitated but as Max is usually very 'cool', nothing seems to bother him, we sat with him for half an hour, until he settled, and then we all went back to bed.

A great start to the day, thanks Max.

Monday, January 23, 2012


What is it about Sunday night television that it has to be stuffed with 'costume drama'? Last night we got a double dose.
In an effort to show Jan that I'm not a complete moron and as a modern person I would like to show an interest in stuff that she likes, I made a concious decision to struggle through watch.
First Midwife, which I thought might be good and frankly it wasn't bad but boy did it go on too long. This was a thirty minute programme at best and as it dragged on I got very restless and finally left the room. Failed.
The next programme, Bird Song, was set during the first war and I thought it was actually quite good but again it went on too long. The cinematography, costumes and acting were all good, at least to my taste, but it was a max 60 minute programme but actually extended to about 90. I guess the schedulers have time to fill but they are in great danger of putting people off when there is so much padding (long periods of people staring into space). Didn't leave the room so passed.
It seems like others share my view. Take a look at this and then also look at the comments, some of them are hilarious.

Sunday, January 22, 2012


I'm probably a little slow (Er, yes - Ed) but I've just realised something.
I have long thought that speed cameras in France were more about revenue gathering than a safety measure.
I once was fined 90 euros for travelling at 35 in a 30 zone. I broke the speed limit, my fault so no complaint. What I objected to was the size of the fine for a relatively minor offence. It seemed to me to be totally disproportionate to the offence.
Looking at an email from Tom Tom this morning reminded me that French authorities were against sat navs that show speed cameras and either will or have banned them. To me this doesn't make sense and is also in contrast to the English viewpoint that being aware of a speed camera should make you slow down.
Anyway, you can probably see where I'm going here, if you combine the thought that French speed cameras are largely for revenue gathering and combine that with French police opposition to you being aware of them, then one sort of confirms the other.
On the other hand I could just be a grumpy old offender.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Self aware

So we're in Harrogate, walking along Cambridge Street, heading for M&S (cos we've already been to Lakeland) when Jan disappears.
How does she do that?
I didn't immediately notice that she'd gone but when I finally realised that I was talking to myself, I followed her in.
"This is nice," she said, whilst fondling what I have to admit was rather a nice jumper. Her radar must have been working overtime. How the hell did she see it, hidden well inside the store, whilst walking past the front door? Amazing.
Anyway, she decides she's going to buy one but finds that all the sizes are way too small.
"What the hell did you expect?" I said, "this is Miss Bloody Selfridge, "when was the last time you were known as Miss?"
Not to be outdone she said, "Well, there are loads of fat girls around, they might have had my size."
I had to laugh.

Friday, January 20, 2012


Fancy a giggle?

What's a Greek urn?

The more you read about Greece and its problems the more you realise what an unholy mess they are in. The country, population and government, are institutionally incapable of telling the truth or balancing their books.
Whilst there is probably a requirement to discount some of the more far fetched stuff, some of what I've read has made me realise that their problems cannot be solved overnight and in my opinion will take several generations to solve if indeed they are solvable at all.
The government lied to the EU in order to get into the euro-zone (to access cheap money) and coincidently one of the men that did this is currently trying to get the country back on track. Hmmmm.
Governments over the ages have made no attempt to solve the problem of endemic fraud from its businesses or citizens. No one pays the correct level of tax. No one.
Benefit fraud is rife. According to a government minister, the level of disability payments would make sense only "if Greece had fought in the Vietnam War."
It was reported that there is an area in Greece that has the highest number of Porsche cars registered. The same area has no one claiming to earn more than €35k.
As I understand it, in order to get the next tranche of EU money they have to convince the next round of bondholders to write off 50% of what they are owed and take 35% in new bonds. This means that in practice they will get 15% of what they are owed.
This has to be agreed before the EU will pump in more money. WHY WOULD THEY DO THAT?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Romanzo Criminale

If you are like Jean and neither watch TV nor read the newspapers, or are too poor to have Sky TV, then the next bit of information will be of no interest to you whatsoever.
We've been watching an excellent series on Sky Arts called Romanzo Criminale. A story set in 70s Rome depicting the rise of a criminal group from teenagers through to adults. It reminded us both of an Italian version of The Wire with a bit of The Sopranos thrown into the mix. What makes it even better is that there are no adverts. In fact all the best series we have watched of late have been on Sky which frankly has come as a bit of a surprise.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Naughty mockers

Mock us Yorkshire folk no more. Take a look at this.

You made my day, week, month..........

What a great day yesterday was. First I was given a blog award by the very intelligent, good looking and perspicacious Jean from this blog. A beautifully written piece if I may say so.
She totally misunderstands me when she emailed, "I'm not sure if you're the kind of bloke who goes in for this sort of thing......" Jean, I accept all awards with great humility and maximum fanfare, that's the sort of bloke I am. I have to say that I was slightly disappointed that the award didn't come with something I could put in my somewhat bare trophy cabinet or even a monetary value but I accept your kind and wonderful gesture with very many thanks.
Given the chance I'd give you one too (but others might have something to say about that.) All I've got to do is figure out how to place the 'trophy' on this site and find another five blogs to pass it on to but I promise I'll work on that.
Later in the day I was in Boots (the Chemist), quite a big Boots by Ripon standards (the only Boots in Ripon - Ed), and the lovely Susan behind the dispensing counter, after I had said, "I've come for the medicine for Hampshire," said, without reference to any notes, "is that Alex Hampshire?"
Bloody hell, I'm even known in Boots the Chemist. Real fame at last. World and local fame at its best.
Jan, who already knew about the morning award was heard to groan and mutter, "Bloody hell, there'll be no stopping him now."
I promise that celebrity won't spoil me much. Where's me limo?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

How to swing

This woman is 51 years old, is a TV health guru and advocates a holistic approach to nutrition and health. She promotes a vegetarian diet high in organic fruits and vegetables. She recommends detox diets, colonic irrigation and supplements.

This woman is also 51, a TV cook, licks her fingers and she eats meat, butter and desserts and washes it all down with wine. Which way to go?

Monday, January 16, 2012

Internet or not

We've been without internet for most of today which is unusual because we’ve had very good uptime since we’ve been here but it comes as a bit of a blow because the study is my refuge from the hurly burly of life and in particular from Jan’s never ending list of instructions.
Having worked long hours over the weekend, getting up in the dark and cold, and getting to work before you’ve even had time to eat your crumpets in bed, the sometimes real/unreal world of the internet is a welcome respite.
I reported the problem to my service provider and some nice chap in India talked me through a list of things to check, all of which I’d already tried. Promising to check the line, within the hour he called back and told me that there was a ‘network problem’ (the bleeding obvious) and that their engineers were on the case.
So now we wait.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Not again

Women are never satisfied.
When we were in France Jan bought this range type hob and oven. It had one very big oven, big enough to roast an ostrich, which was a pity because we never roasted ostriches. In fact we hardly ever roasted anything mainly because it was too hot and also because Jan's first excuse when putting food on the table was that it was over cooked on the bottom because the oven cooked from the bottom up.
I never quite figured that one out but couldn't be bothered to argue about it cos what would I know, I'm only a bloke.
Anyway, she now has a similar size range but this time with two ovens. She has always wanted two ovens, presumably because she can cook twice as many ostriches as long as you like them cooked from the bottom up.
Not for the first time, yesterday I was sitting eating my roast breast of ostrich and asked her highness what was still cooking. Nothing dumbo (or similar) was her reply.
Unable to contain my curiosity and also being the kind of bloke who learns from his mistakes I forayed into the kitchen to find one of the ovens burning merrily away. I say this because this was not the first time.
Us men might be inferior creatures but generally speaking we (OK me) have a tendency to learn from our mistakes and not keep repeating the same thing over and over. I'd have thought that the stench of carbonising ostrich fat would also have been a clue but again I'm only a bloke.
The situation has now got to the point of me now not saying, good morning, as we wake each morning, but have you turned the oven off.
She doesn't like that.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The return of old friends

As we walked into Booths there they were. Hot cross buns.
I love hot cross buns. Hot cross buns smothered in creamy butter.
So now I'm a happy bunny, which is somewhat appropriate because hot cross buns only come out at Easter.
Bloody hell, it's still not half way through January and they're selling Easter stuff and sure enough, as we approached the sweetie aisle, they're selling chocolate eggs.
Over Christmas the sweeties had been moved somewhere else, to make room for more appropriate Christmas fayre. I love sweeties and have to have a bag in the car, so it was good to see them being put back into their rightful position. I was so pleased to see them that I thanked the ladies who were stacking the shelves.
"Thanks ladies," I said, "it's good to see them back where they belong."
They seemed genuinely pleased that their work was being recognised and giggled in appreciation.
Trying to be fair to all the shelf stackers in the vicinity I mentioned to the woman directly opposite that I was sure she was doing a good job but I just didn't feel the same way about yoghurt.
She seemed a little crestfallen but burst into a smile when Jan piped up and said, "Don't worry love I'm taking him back to the home soon."
I do love shopping.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Angela - no!

Further to my post the other day about Angela Merkel's dress sense, here's further proof.

The Daily Mash

The Daily Mash has several good articles today. Recommended.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Bloody computers

And, whilst I'm at it - bloody computers!
Jan decided to give her old XP laptop to her sister who uses a library computer but doesn't have one of her own. This one spends most of its time in a cupboard gathering dust so I spent a lot of yesterday getting the machine in good order by deleting all superfluous software (and access to special interest sites - Ed) and also by ensuring that all remaining applications were current and up-to-date.
All went well until late in the afternoon when for some unknown reason the bloody thing decided not to connect to our router. 
WTF. It had been happy all day and it suddenly decided to misbehave and I couldn't work out why. I know my way around these machines quite well now but could I figure it out, so, tired and fed up, I decided to sleep on it.
In my experience the answer is always obvious the next morning. Well, little did I realise how much time I'd have to think about it because Jan was snoring like a gud un and Minnie needed to be let out at 4.45 in the morning.
Thanks guys, however it did allow me ample time to formulate a plan of action.
Grumpy from a lack of sleep and ready to chuck the machine out of the window at the first sign of indolence I booted up and it connected first time. It had obviously had a better night's sleep than I'd had.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Technology - give me a break

We were in Currys the other day buying a kettle, one that shows pretty colours as it boils, bye the way why do kettles start to leak after a period of time? Being a bit of a technology buff I asked one of the assistants to explain a 'smart TV' to me and found myself decidedly underwhelmed.
I'm always interested in new technology but can't get excited at stuff you don't need or is overpriced.
A smart TV, from what I can see, is a combination of television and a computer. It has to be connected to the internet and to work needs about a 5Mbps connection in order to be able to watch streamed films.
In other words it gives you access, at a price, to more content. This leads to other thoughts, like just how much TV can you watch and is it really useful?
Do you really want or need a combined TV and computer?
The salesman proudly told me that some of the TVs had a browser and could be used to surf, check emails etc.
S'cuse me but has anyone stopped to figure out how these machines are used in practice? Can you really see some bloke being allowed to check his emails whilst his beloved is watching the latest gore and mayhem on EastEnders.
I think not.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A wish for New Year

10 years ago Bob Hope died

5 years ago Johnny Cash died

A couple of months ago Steve Jobs died 

A few weeks ago Jimmy Saville died 

Now we have no Hope, no Cash, no Jobs and nobody left to Fix It

Let's hope nothing happens to Ed Balls

Happy New Year.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Ahhhh, the peace

The peace and quiet, it's wonderful. It's amazing.
After 10 days of family we finally have the place to ourselves again. It was bad enough to have rampaging young adults around in the past but now those adults have grown up and have kids of their own.
Having said that the children are wonderful, as only young children can be, so that's a real bonus. I've never been much of a fan of babies but when kids start to walk and talk you can have so much fun and let them do all the things that their parents don't allow (you're worse than the kids - Ed). Yippee.

Monday, January 2, 2012

He does what?

So several of us we're sitting around the dinner table playing a game which involved writing the names of famous characters on pieces of paper. It's a bit of a guessing game so any name will do as long as the rest of the players are likely to know the name.
My mother is playing.
Anyway the game progresses and the name David Thomas comes up. The players look around at each other and all wonder who David Thomas is. I looked at the slip of paper with the name on it and recognise my mother's handwriting.
I said, "Mum, who is David Thomas?"
She replied, "Oh, he's my hair dresser."