House at Pooh Corner

House at Pooh Corner
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Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Holiday (Summer) 2013 - The Crime Spree that never was

Well, I can't fathom it.

I don't mind admitting defeat.  I don't.  I just don't get.

First, Tesco's Self Service Checkouts blew my mind ........ and then, I found out about Waitrose's "QuickCheck" scanners.


All of it.

As a matter of interest, any of you been in Tesco at Fforestfach, Swansea over the past 4 weeks?

If so, you might have spotted me giving those Self-Service Checkouts some of my best Paddington Bear stares.

I can assure you I have done some of my best work vis a vis the Stern Look.

Let me explain, to the uninitiated, how these all-seeing, mind-controlling monstrosities work.

You take your basket of, say, 8 items. You scan 8 items.
It asks you how bags you need.  You tell It.
You finish scanning.  You pay the Thing.
You leave. With your 8 items.

Now, here's the thing.
HOW does It know you didn't have 9 items in your basket but, because you are an evil genius, you have *gasp* .......*whispers* .... not scanned the 9th item.  Opting instead (WARNING: those of a nervous disposition look away now) to put it straight into your bag.

And, HOW does that Thing know you haven't taken 4 bags (having led It to believe you took just the one).  One of you and one each for your 3 friends, who are in on this Oceans Eleven scam.   Or who don't want to donate 2p per bag to Children In Need, Snails with Asthma or whatever.

In. Sane.

And then, Waitrose went one louder with its Quick Check scanner.

Now, wait for this, the QCS encourages you to, AS you make way around the shop, to scan your FreeRange Eggs and then POP THEM STRAIGHT IN YOUR BAG and then, pay for the cumulative amount recorded on your scanner at the end.

No feverish packing at a till, whilst juggling cards.  All done.

But again, it seems to me that it would be really easy to just squirrel away an unscanned item, or two.

Should you have a Faganesque inclination.

Which I don't.

I am prepared to stand corrected but I am wondering whether these systems work because,
a) there is faith in the General Public's genuine code of trust OR
b) is it a case of playing on GP's sense of paranoia or its fear of public exposure, in a supermarket, of being a Bad Egg.

The Infallible Duo of a Catholic upbringing and one of the original Tiger Mums has put me in possession of a disportionate guilt complex re the breaking of rules and has rendered me incapable of telling lies (white or otherwise) to authorities.

 (NOTE: elaborate ruses to sneak cans of beer OUT of Sandance, or The 7s don't count, cos that is a stupid rule.  And I paid for them.  I'm not leaving paid-for beer. Ain't gonna happen.)

To clarify:
I can withold information if someone has asked me to keep something confidential BUT ask me a direct question, like:

AT THE CINEMA "Madam, have you got contrabrand English Breakfast tea in a travel mug, in your bag?"

Voices in the Head: "Say no, you dosy cow. Say no."

Me: Yes.


Thursday, 25 July 2013

Holiday (Summer) 2013 - Being A One again

And so, I am nearing the end of the Just Me Time phase of the trip.

The Trousers has returned to a Ramadan(y) Dubai, The Grub is having a blast, building priceless memories with the grandparents in Wales and ....

I am loving the freedom of being a One again. For a bit.

Just a bit because, well because, I miss being a One of Three.

Honestly, I am revelling in being the master of my own destiny, not constantly having to think 3 steps ahead - relating to the Entertainment Of, Nutritional Needs Of or Appropriate Clothing Requirements Of, anyone other than myself.

It goes like this:
Bugger, I only brought one pair of jeans.  Idiot.
Ah well, I'll manage.
I, I...I am mildly inconvenienced but I am not a bad mother.

See how it works?  I am inconvenienced but I am free of guilt.

I am able to keep irregular eating habits - don't worry about breakfast, I can tough it out till we get to the Greasy Spoon.  Where, why yes, I WILL have chips for breakfast!

oh, pfffft, stop judging me, this is the Just About Me Time, remember?

A few days of misbehaviour (with regards to nutritional intake or liquids inbibed) will be negated by uninterrupted sleep (whooooo-hooooooooo there's nothing snoring next to me) and a few well-timed glasses of water, bananas & apples.

Being a One again, for a while, is good.

Once the noise and distractions of Everyday Life subsides it is good to know that your Original One is still there & can function.

But, on balance, I very much miss The Chosen One, who I told "whilst there are times that I wish you would go away, I prefer wishing you were going away when you
a) aren't &
b) are right there"

Beautiful, eh?  Romantic, I thought.

Admit it, I've moved you.  You are moved.

And as for the NotVery Little One, I miss the chatterings, I miss the  best cuddles the world has ever known, I miss M'Boy's smile and his neverending UpForAnythingness.

Being A One, for a while, IS fun, but I think it is more important than that.
I feel it helps One be a Better One of Three.

And in my world, Three IS the magic number.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Holiday (Summer) 2013 - Road Kill Bingo?

M4, M25, M26, M29, A4070
261 miles
5 hours.

4:15 hrs, BBC Radio 4

1 x Break (1 tea (takeaway),1 pk crisps, Lightly Salted, 1 Buxton water. All Costa Coffee)

18 pigeons (inexplicably), 9 rabbits, 1 badger (unconfirmed), 2 foxes, 5 squirrels = Road Kill Bingo

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Holiday (Summer) 2013 - A Purple-faced Man on the M4

Driving, here, is so orderly.  It is an almost Zen affair.

It is so very calming.  99% of the time you know where people are going and, you know what they are planning on doing. 
There are, even, raised hands in thanks(eh?!!) when someone lets someone else out into a queue.

Did you know that a headlight flash here is likely to be an 'awight mate, go ahead'?

Not always but in general, I find it is a soothing experience to drive here.

That said.........

..... I am starting wonder whether I might be missing the Wild West, frontier-land style driving that Dubai provides me. (not really. This is the poetic licence part of today's post).  
Where the ethos is more along the lines of: Every Man for Himself.  Big cars beat small cars.  The darker the window, the more right of way.

The 'Get Out of The Way headlight flash as I come steaming up behind you at 160kpm', is not cos I hate you but, simply, because I am better than you.
Bigger. And better. In all ways.
Richer. And better.
Also, this is my road.
I am a better driver than you, for see how I can weave in & out of these 4 lanes, packed with cars, heedless of speed cameras & the safety of others?
Speed cameras & internationally recognised rules of the road are not for me.  They are for you.

Ditto the silver Mitsubishi Lancer, crammed with no less than 6 passengers (plus driver), bimbling along in the middle lane of Shiekh Zayed Road at 50kpm.  "Indicators are for women & not very good drivers" (actual quote from a taxi driver)

Certainly, it is a high adrenalin, cynical (assume the worst of your fellow man & you will not go wrong) place.  It will never be a dull journey on The Roads of Dubai.

Enter yesterday's interesting spot of the day.  Never seen it before but, honestly, HOW brilliant would this be in Dubai?

Can you see to what I am referring?

'Too Close for 30, 50, 70'  (see picture below, if you can't see what I am talking about)

Move back from your screen by 2½ to 3 yards and the warning will disappear. Moving back towards your desk, the warning will reappear.

I think this is such a great idea.

They are called Tail Guardians

Here is another example I found on their website.


The point is that there are rules.  Rules that people abide by.  All the people.

2 years ago, freshly landed at Heathrow and, oh at last, installed in the hire car, I was tootling along the M4, westward-bound.

I gave my rear-view mirror a quick glance (for, Dear Reader, I am considerate & alert driver).

"Oh. I think the chap behind me might like me to move out of the way," I mentioned to The Trousers "But, I can't be sure.  I don't think he really means it.  Perhaps I'll wait till he flashes me?"

He preyed on my mind, that Man Behind Me & so, a few minutes later I thought, I'll give him the benefit of the doubt, indicated (see how responsible I am?) & popped over into the left-hand lane.

A purple-faced man, who as it happens, DID want to get past me, drove passed & waved most vigorously.
Perhaps it was to thank me?  Perhaps He knew we were new in town, hence the enthusiasm for his greeting?

"Welcome to Blighty, lady expat foreign types"I imagine he was saying.

How nice, I thought, and waved cheerfully back with my brightest smile.

What's more, I know that Trousers was equally touched, for I could see he had lowered his head & covered his eyes.  Clearly, he was moved.

Monday, 15 July 2013

Holiday (Summer) 2013 - She pines for a welly

And still the chuffing sun shines.

All we ever hear, on Sky News, is 'record rainfall' this, 'hailstones the size of armadillos' that, 'worst snowfall since Time began (watch out for your dinosaurs)', blah blah blah.

I'll be honest with you, I've seen little evidence of unseasonable flood, fire or pestilence* we have been led to believe has been going on in this country.
Putting a brave face on all this sunshine

*unless you count those hordes of horse flies that hounded us today, without, I might add, the benefit of being anywhere near any actual horses.  Bunch of arse.

The Kid has been fully kitted out with wellies & raincoat & yet, there is nary a cloud in the sky.  Not a dicky-bird.

I just DO not know what all these Brits have been moaning about.

My Ugg boots, still in my suitcase, mock me.

So does my husband. A rare chance for him to enjoy an "I told you so".  I'll let him have this one.

I had hoped for some soul-enriching moody weather.  Squelchy squelchs in some woods.  Cosy coffees (maybe a cream tea??) in gorgeous coffee shops, looking out at stormy seas, grey clouds skittery across the sky, that kind of thing.

Instead I am expected to endure the sight of vast swathes of wobbling, squidgy pink & white striped flesh on stranded on beaches, lolling on every bit of flat grass available.

Since we arrived in the UK 2 weeks ago it has been sodding well all clear blue skies, arsing glorious sunshine and jolly happy tweety-birds.

I want to ditch the Havianas.  My soul yearns for a welly.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Holiday (Summer) 2013 - A new high?

Well now, here's a thing I never thought I'd say.

Earlier today I was gripped, GRIPPED I tell you, for TWO hours, by  ...... wait for it ....... oh, what could it be, what could it be?? ........ Fish'O'Mania XX.  On TV.

This, I suspect, is a new high (or, conceivably, low) for my abililty to watch sport.  On the TV.

From what I gather, the top 16 anglers of the country come together for this & fish for 5 hours. Fish'O'Mania 2013

Jamie Hughes, Jamie's Fishing Tuition & Coaching, won it hands down, having caught a total of 61 kg worth of fish. 2nd place caught half that, with just 32 kg.

Those are the stats.

It was televised on SkySports 3HD, complete with pundits, wearing Sky Sports polo shirts in a studio, saying knowledgeable things like "yeah, I'd say that was a 4 kilo fish".

Whilst analysing how Jamie was able to achieve such an impressive score (would it be a score? maybe it should be 'catch'. I think I might write to Head of the Fishing People and suggest 'big net'), they came up with .......

"Well, he's been catching fish all day long".


The only way, they said, that anyone could hope to catch him would be to follow this bit of advice:

"someone needs to start catching some big fish".


Could you, Fishing Pundit Bloke on the telly, make it a bit simpler? Kindly, he did.

"One of them needs to try to catch a big fish."

Well, alrighty then - got it.

Hardly the strategic, technical, maverick gamble of, oh, I don't know ........ let's say, Warren Gatland's final Lions Test Line-up, though, eh?

I shouldn't mock.  I'm not really.  I too am involved in a sport that has limited general public appeal & is open to much eye-rolling & more than it's fair share "how hard can it be?" and "pfffft, that's not even a sport".

And, just as a matter of interest, where was everyone else?

Why, they were all out watching the Red Arrows doing the most amazing display (do they do any other kind?), over a gloriously warm & sunny Swansea Bay at the 2013 Swansea Air Show.

I don't do air shows.

Since seeing 2 crashes in 2 days at Biggin Hill Air Show donkeys ago, I have a 'thing' about watching air shows so I scuttled home to, as it turned out, watch fishing.

Funny old day.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Holiday (summer) 2013 - I fell in love, a bit

We went to London.

The smallest of Us has never been to London. 

We wanted to acquaint him with Things British.

Not just general stuff like red phone boxes, London buses & London tourist things but experiences that were once very commonplace to us.

Commonplace, Then, to Us but, Now, to Him might as well relate to daily life on Planet Zog.

We are talking about things like:
* Tube mice,
* Churchyards & gravestones (when people do WHAT?, they get WHAT?! .... WHERE??!!)

* A typical SW London 'burb street, with bushes of lavender or buddlia spewing out onto the pavement

* The Tube - whilst not UNlike HK's MTR or Singapore's MRT, is also VERY!

* Greggs pastries (UK expats, did YOU know they do a Greggs' cafe now? I didn't get the memo)

* Commuters reading on the Tube, newspapers left on the seats

* The stinkiness of some areas of the Underground, some stairwells & .............. ewwwwwwwwwww, those same phone boxes we were gushing bout earlier (in fact, he never noticed this bit.  I did.  I don't miss THAT bit)

When we lived in our ground floor flat, in a Victorian conversion terrace, there were sounds.  Unique sounds I now realise.

I'll give you a fr'instance ...... close your eyes.

You are watching tv, in the 'front room' (which, when you were a student, was actually likely to be a housemate's bedroom).  The window faces on to the street, right?

Early evening, the waves of returning fellow street dwellers start to wash down your road.  Their appearance & progress down your street runs approximately 6 minutes behind each arrival of SW Trains at the nearby station.

The talking and/or the clipping footsteps alert you.

*laughter* "yeah, mate. I'll see you there."
Clip, clip, clip .........

There they go.

Further away.
"I know! This holiday is going to be suuuuuuuuuch a laugh, darling. And I sooooooooo need it. Honestly, she is such a bitch."


Pub Chucking-Out time - same story.  More laughing. Replace *clipping* with *shuffling*. Possibly stronger language.

Back in The Day - hearing GuyUpStairs moving around, presumably sorting out a spot of supper & settling down for the night, made me feel safe.

In these houses, without ever actually exchanging more than a "hello", as you step over the evergrowing but invisible (?) drift of freebie papers & pizza/curry takeaway menus that get shoved through the communal postbox, you know when this Utter Stranger has a bath, flushes the loo or if he is watching News at Ten.

And then, in the morning, you can hear GUS's alarm go off.  You know when he is up out of his pit & moving to his bathroom & his kitchen.  GUS's place is the exact mirror copy of us down here.

I knew when this stranger, who slept about 12 feet above us, was late for work, had a late night, was away for the weekend, had friends round but never a girlfriend.

Our few days revisiting London has also reminded me how much I dislike London public transport in the warm weather, but that horribly hot stuffy conditions on a Bus or train also brings the most glorious smells & sounds of a London garden in the summer.

Just these few days I have remembered the smell of cut grass that so many love (or the Pollen-Challenged hate), the sound of everyone having their windows open whilst watching a huge sporting event like the LionsTour or Wimbledon, the smells of BBQs, laughing & the psssssshhhhht of cans being pssssssshhhhhhhht'd.

Love it.

I fell in love again with London again this July.  It felt rich & full of substance & history (one cannot say this about where we live now).  It made me nostalgic for the Old Days - Student & Post-student times.

But then, when the sun shines everything is lovable.

As an aside, I should say, I didn't come here for sunshine.  I don't frigging need more sunshine.  I wanted moody, morose, cosy gloom.  With gorgeous boots. And hats.

Heatwave. Shmeatwave.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Holiday (summer) 2013 - hug a what now?

It has been 2 years since i was last here in the UK.

In many ways, I am very at home here.

For goodness sake, I lived, laughed & loved through 4 fabulous Uni years here, I found my dream job (eventually), made life-long friends & Trousers & I made our first home together here so HOW could I not love the place?

Further, it is an actual & emotional/cultural breath of fresh air.

We've only been here 36 hours & I think we are all revelling in a climate that doesn't feel like it wants to kill us. Or, at least, is NOT constantly seeing just HOW much it can throw at us before we will just give up & go away.

Our lungs & souls are regenerating with every deep breath of fresh, cool, Welsh air (& trips to Tesco.  Dammit, I cannot be the only expat that could spend happy hours in that place????!!!!!).

And the trees. Would you just look at the trees.

Gorgeous, lush green big OLD trees.  Juicy, rich trees.  Rounded, friendly leaves, not spiky, resentful & tense with the effort of staying alive.

These trees have seen some stuff, they were NOT put there last week in the exact prescribed place, having been selected based on size, colour & aesthetic value.

I feel a real sense of history when I look at some these trees & this brings with it a sense of stability & continuity.  Both being features that feel in short supply where we live.

These trees are Jane Austen trees. *I thought about shoehorning a pretentious & clunky quote here but, decided against it*

They are Dickens' trees.

And, if you loiter near one long enough, for sure a knight, complete with damsel, will charge past, on the required flary nostriled steed.

(one of) my holiday missions will be to get my arms around some trees.

I have form when it comes to hugging trees.  Feels good.  Actually, it feels a bit silly, as you approach the Huggee but, go with it.

BLOGGER does not seem to want to let me insert any images today, so, look at picture and you can imagine.

Tree Hugging guidelines

In the meantime, I shall be nourished by cups of tea, live Wimbledon on the telly & looking at the rain giving my wise old trees a drink.


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