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Saturday 31 December 2011

New Year Already!

Well, I think I must have blinked, because after all the build up, the preparation, the stress of present buying, the anticipation of a certain rather special person coming home, it's all over. Every year the Christmas holiday seems to go faster!
And now, here we are, the old year ending, 2012 waiting in the wings. The beautiful calendar handmade for us by the aforementioned special person has been carefully filled out in my best hand writing, the stock of wrapping paper replenished from the sales - yes I know, I'm a cheapskate, but it all ends up in the bin anyway - and the news bulletins are filled with nothing but the New Year's honours list and recollections of 2011.
Now I'm going to have to remember how to plan proper meals again. Going to bed the same day I wake up would probably help in this pursuit, but it's depressing to think that we shall soon be back in our normal workaday routine. Perhaps 2012 will bring that lucrative publishing contract, or a win on the Premium Bonds, or ...
Hey ho! Wishing you all a very Happy and Prosperous New Year!

Friday 23 December 2011

Merry Christmas

The trip to the supermarket for those last minute items this morning was interesting. We weren't exactly late getting there, but we knew we were in for it when we struggled to find a space in the most distant car park. The cheese aisle was a log jam of piled-high trolleys and angry looking men who couldn't find a wedge of Stilton for love nor money. The two women having an in depth discussion about the correct cheeses for fondue didn't help either. 
It was a relief to trudge out with our straining bags, until we tried to join the queue of traffic doing battle with the two inconveniently parked car transporters. We don't need speed humps around our way. The local car dealers are supremely efficient at grinding the traffic to a halt.
Anyway, that's all done now, time to mull the wine and break the seal on the tin of chocolates. Oh, and if Santa is still uncertain what to put under my tree this year, here's a little clue:
Merry Christmas everyone.

Wednesday 21 December 2011

Special Delivery!

It's a busy time for delivery workers. We were discussing that fact only this morning as we watched one delivery guy, left with no choice but to park his van on double yellows, take a perilous dash across a busy road to deliver a parcel. It's not a job I'd want at the best of times, but trying to battle across town through the Christmas traffic to deliver my husband to his work's do was stressful enough. They're battling with it all day, every day.
One YouTube hit has shown one guy's unique solution to the frustrations of his job, providing clear footage of him lobbing a Samsung monitor over the unsuspecting customer's gates. I'm not sure if he still has a job, but I suspect he may have faced an interesting conversation with his line manager:

Monday 19 December 2011

The Magic of TV?

Jeremy Paxman is a serious sort of chap, so I'm not really surprised by the news story today that he refuses to have any Christmas decorations on the set of Newsnight. Besides, it's probably tricky to conduct a barb-laden interview with a slippery politician with Christmas lights merrily flashing by your side. What did surprise me was the revelation that Newsnight is recorded in the same studio as Breakfast. It's completely ruined my idea that TV studios were strange magical little boxes created specifically for individual shows. It's rather disappointing to think that they all share the same space, just shifting the furniture around and changing the backdrop to give the illusion of a different show.
Next thing you know they'll be telling me Father Christmas is really my Dad!

Wednesday 14 December 2011

The Journey Home

There's a new story up on Quirky Tales today. It was inspired by the thought of people journeying home for Christmas, but it turned out rather differently! It became the story of an abused and abandoned pet. Of course, there's a happy ending - can't have a sad one at Christmas! If you fancy a look, here's the link:
Hope you enjoy it.

Tuesday 13 December 2011

Post Office Queues and Giant Tetris

Our hearts sank to our boots when we saw the queue in the Post Office. It snaked back beyond the theme park style metal barrier funnel, past the travel guide aisle, into the seasonal biography releases of people no-one has heard of. We looked down at the small envelope that was the sum total of our business and sighed in resignation. We would have to queue, we needed proof of postage.
That was when we spotted the man in front of us trying to wrestle too many presents into a large brown jiffy bag. It was like watching a giant game of Tetris. We found ourselves making suggestions and groaning in sympathy as each new attempt failed. He took a wry look at the long queue and noted that he at least had plenty of time to find the solution. The parcels were wedged in, removed, gathered up by others in the queue and handed back, ready for the next go.
Finally, with the watching crowd cheering heartily, he managed to fit them all in. With a little help, he sealed the envelope and borrowed my pen to scrawl the address on the front. Next year, he said, he would get all the items delivered direct and spare himself the trouble.
It was certainly an entertaining way to pass the time. And all around us similar scenes were being enacted. People even had coloured paper, sellotape, tags etc. and were industriously wrapping presents as they waited, usually with the assistance of the other customers around them. Despite the long wait, everyone was happy, helping each other, laughing and joking. Kind of reminds you what it's all about really!

Friday 9 December 2011

All They Want for Christmas

The story popping up everywhere at the moment is the 'All I Want For Christmas' video performed by the crew of HMS Ocean. It's so good that even Mariah Carey has said she thinks it's great!
I suspect there could be stage careers waiting for them when they leave the Navy.
Here's wishing all those serving in the armed forces a safe and Merry Christmas.

Thursday 8 December 2011

Mythbusters' Bouncing Bomb

For those who don't know, Mythbusters is an American programme that takes common myths and attempts to scientifically prove or disprove them. It's an interesting and funny programme, that frequently leads to the lament 'Why can't I have a job like that?' A typical approach to their work involves the use of explosives, usually with spectacular results.
Unfortunately, whilst filming yesterday, something went a little wrong and a cannonball bounced its way out of the bomb range at speed, through someone's front door, clean through their house, and the back wall, before coming to rest inside a minvan parked outside.
What tickled me was that the occupants didn't wake up until the drywall started settling on top of them!

Wednesday 7 December 2011

A Rain of Bears

I may be risking scorn and derision here, but I love teddy bears. I know, they aren't real, they can't hear what you say and they couldn't give their own stuffing whether you cuddle them or not, but there's something reassuring about a soft, cute teddy bear.
As part of an annual ice hockey tradition, the Calgary Hitmen invite their fans to bring along a teddy bear to donate to good causes. The teddy bears are thrown onto the ice after the first goal is scored, then swept up and taken away to local hospitals - presumably to the emergency room as I saw several undergo traumatic bounces on the way down, not to mention ice-induced injuries once they landed.
It looks great, but if I were to take part, I would have to elbow my way to the front and carefully drop my teddy over the side or, if I couldn't afford a ring side seat, at least provide him with a parachute. After all, teddy bears are people too!

Tuesday 6 December 2011

Do Something Amazing

I came across a story on the BBC News website today about a woman who haemorrhaged three times her body's volume after giving birth to her daughter in 2009. She has come forward now to remind people of the importance of donating blood and to pay tribute to the 88 donors to whom she owes her life.
If you want more information about becoming a blood donor, or where you can go to donate, this is the link for the blood donor service:
or for Scotland:

Monday 5 December 2011

Humbugs, Tat and Sensory Overload

I have reached that point I arrive at each year where I decide, quite firmly, that Christmas shopping shall forever more be done online. And yet every year I make a mad foray into town and run the gauntlet of screaming children, quarrelling couples, and those people who seem to feel that progress is best made by charging full pelt into as many people as possible.
Add to that the constant assault of tannoy announcements proclaiming that this shop's special offers are by far the specialist offers in town, intermingling with truly awful music and the background hum of overworked air conditioning systems and you have a cocktail of sensory violence designed to test even the most determinedly cheerful of shoppers.
And then there's the usual seasonal tat that gets rolled out year after year. I have no idea why anyone would pay £15 for a penguin slide, optimistically named a penguin race. I watched for several minutes and I didn't see any overtaking! Then there are the miniature bottles of plonk with a branded glass, yours for £8, just don't work out the actual price per ml of alcohol, or you'll need to break the bottle open just to calm your nerves!
Bah humbug! Now I've become a seasonal grump!
I've always loved Christmas, but I suspect the only way to preserve that love may be to avoid shops for the duration.
P.S. No penguins (plastic or otherwise) were harmed in the making of this post.

Friday 2 December 2011

2012, A Case of Misinterpretation

It was with some relief that I read that the world is not now expected to end next year. According to the German expert who has been studying the Mayan tablet believed to have pegged 2012 as the end, it was simply misinterpreted. Phew! Suppose we'd better pay the mortgage after all then. Although, with the deepening financial crisis, the volcano in Iceland (whose name I can't say, let alone spell) getting ready to go kablouey again, droughts in England, and the on-going Arab Spring, I'm beginning to wonder if the Mayan's didn't know a thing or two about predictions. Maybe they trained the toads who, it has been suggested, could be used to predict earthquakes.
The world might not be about to end, but it's certainly getting stranger!

Thursday 1 December 2011

'Tis the Season to Get Writing

The Advent Calendar awaited us this morning. After a diplomatic discussion it was decided that I would open the odd numbered windows and my other half would open the evens. Of course, that didn't stop him dashing over, still clutching his bowl of Alpen, to peer over my shoulder as I wrestled the window open. Who said Christmas was just for children? Hidden behind number one was a bauble, perhaps not the most exciting Christmassy thing, but we don't want to peak too soon!
Staring longingly at the calendar yesterday prompted another story. It's called 'The Advent Calendar', and it's about an angel, Joseph, a naughty snowman and assorted others preparing for the festive season. If you fancy a look, here's the link:
Hope it makes you smile. Happy Advent!

Man's Best Friend?

I was moved to giggles by a story on the Telegraph's website today. The link rather tells the story, but basically, a man was out duck shooting when his dog got excited and stood on his shotgun, resulting in the gun firing and the man requiring medical treatment to remove 27 pellets of duckshot from his backside.
You know how ducks always sound like they're laughing? ......