Sunday 27 December 2009

N-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o theyve run out of Gin-ger-bread latte :o(

I went into Starbucks this morning to have gingerbread latte # 32 and was told that they have no gingerbread syrup left... say I was distraught was an understatement, it was weird, everything started going in s-l-o-w motion, and then I had an OOBE and saw myself lying on the floor sobbing :o( From up above I spotted a half filled tub of toffee nut latte sprinkles (which they had managed to "acquire" from the other store) which soon reunited my body with my soul, I awoke just as James was spoon feeding me a toffee nut latte, whilst gently rubbing eggnog latte into my temples! ;o)

Christmas was good, this was down (in no small part) to buying the stuff for dinner ready prepared (yes I know its cheating), although I did make some Yorkshire pudding but admittedly it was as thick as a brick where I didnt make it in a large enough tin - it was still really nice though ;o)

It was blooming typical...

...I came down with a cold last Sunday, I had the Monday off anyway and ended up having the Tuesday off sick and missed the Christmas lunch, I had a blocked up "dose" and really wouldnt have enjoyed myself. I made it in Wednesday and Thursday was only working until lunchtime anyway.

Christmas Eve was good at work (apart from finishing at lunchtime) as we had mince pies and bucks fizz (I had three glasses ;o)).

Between Christmas and New Year NXEA have their usual Engineering Works terminating all trains at Stratford meaning that I have to get the London Underground around to Liverpool Street. As usual it will be easy enough to get there in the morning, its just the getting home in the evening which is always more tricky! Oh well, if nothing else it will make a good post ;o).

Sunday 20 December 2009

for gorgeous surprises we have given you a less cheap room*

When I booked our afternoon tea James suggested staying somewhere the night (perhaps even the hotel where the afternoon tea was). I thought the price would be well out of our league but had a look anyway. Blow me they had a festive shopping offer knocking around £100.00 off of the price of a room. Knowing this would be our only real chance of staying somewhere so posh at a half decent price after lots of umming and ahhing we decided to go for it.

The receptionist actually took us upto our room (as opposed to the usual "the lift is to the left" I normally get). Our room actually had a hall way (weve never been in a room THAT nice) and the bathroom boasted the deepest bath in London (it was pretty deep). The only downside (but a big one in our opinion) was that there was no tea or coffee making facilities! James even rang down to ask and was told matter of factly that "one can order tea or coffee through room service" I dont think so!

Another thing they didnt do there (or rather their bar didnt) was Guinness but haha I found as some Aspall Cider instead (which was also nice). We even had the whole upstairs part to ourselves, it was like having our own private area ;o)

The afternoon tea was really nice and thankfully the finger sandwiches didnt contain any fingers - I inspected them thoroughly before eating them ;o). They could have been minced up I guess ;o), we were actually offered more sandwiches too before we started on our scones and pastries. We were also offered the extra sandwiches before the other people too (perhaps this was because we looked unrefined enough to cause a scene if werent seen to first) who says that being common is bad? ;o).

Thanks to staying the night there I now know how to walk from Regent Street to Knightsbridge I would have just normally got the underground around. Im turning very cosmopolitan! Is that the right word? who knows!

We were walking down Piccadilly toward Fortnum & Mason, and we saw someone about to cross the road and James said that guy looks remarkably like Danny Wallace, and sure enough it was. He seemed friendly enough and James shook him by the hand and asked him if he had anything in the "pipeline" and he said he was working on a collection of his columns. We will be on the lookout for that ;o).

On Thursday we had snow (or rather we still have snow from Thursday)...

* some dialect may have been over exaggerated for comedic effect **

** ok I admit it the guy spoke really good English ;o).

Sunday 13 December 2009

one day week

This is going to be a good week, because I am only working on Monday ;o)

The only thing we have planned so far is a festive afternoon tea, I even got a phone call today asking if we had any dietary requirements (how cool is that?) perhaps I should have mentioned that were not too keen on having "finger sandwiches" as my mum would say "you dont know where theyve been" ;o)

One of my bosses has been in Australia on business for the past couple of weeks, and he came back on Thursday and said that the toys I had sent out went down really well.

On Monday I sent the last four toys out to Australia, and spent the remainder of the week taking the presents around to our brokers in London, and taking my camera with me to take some photos along the way ;o). I managed to keep my work friends amused with my sense of direction or rather the lack of it... place I asked about someone said "do you know where the Hung Drawn & Quartered is?" I said "yes, I saw that when I got lost trying to find the post office" ;o).

Needless to say I took my phone with me just in case! I only needed to phone once as I couldnt find the office i was looking for and then realised the road continued after the junction, the road then lead onto London Bridge. At least I now know how to get to London Bridge should the need arise ;o).

On Thursday I managed to avoid some train troubles...

...just as I was getting off the train at Chelmsford, an announcement came over that all trains to and from London were now going to be subject to delays. I then got a text message saying that a person had been hit by a train at Ilford, I was so glad I missed that.

Sunday 6 December 2009

39 parcels later

What an eventful week its been...

The week started out really wet (by really wet I mean I was soaked through before I even got into work on Monday morning). My feet were really wet and I was whinging & whining before eventually trudging down to Next to buy some new socks. I was much nicer after putting on some dry socks. I was even walking about (not just sticking to the confines of our office) in just my socks to allow my shoes to dry out ;o)

I have been down to the post office so much this week (10 times - one day going three times), that not only did the staff start recognising, but they were asking exactly what was I posting ;o).

On Fridays we have our fire alarm tested, this Friday the fire alarm went off but didnt stop, so we went down the fire exit and the doors were locked! So we walked through to go out of the main doors. Anyhow we were standing there in the cold waiting to be allowed back in and we heard sirens (someone said that they saw a reflection of a fire engine) so i said "do you think its for us?" and 5 minutes later the fire engine complete with crew pull up outside our building, then a few minutes after that we were allowed back in.

In the meantime my boss went out to get us bacon sandwiches (he offered to get them before the fire alarm even went off). So I went to make us some drinks (it always seems to be me) and saw that the office next to the kitchen (which is currently empty) had the windows wide open (my guess is that someone may have been smoking in there - as it had that smell about it) no wonder we got a fire engine!

Next week I will trudging across London (well the square mile) this time to deliver packages to our brokers. I cant believe how much walking I will be doing ;o)

Sunday 29 November 2009

this would never have happened in the French Revolution!

Last week I mentioned that I had wrapped up 77 die cast drills to give as presents to our brokers...

During the week I started getting the presents ready to send out. I printed off the Merry Christmas message to go on the presents (printed on A4 paper), as they had to be trimmed I got the guillotine out of the cupboard to trim the paper, and the bloody thing wouldnt work, it wouldnt cut the paper at all! I have ordered a replacement blade, which is being delivered to the UK partner from Germany on Tuesday.

So I ended up cutting them by hand, needless to say my cutting abilities arent great but they will do ;o).

I have posted seven so far to Australia, and I have a whole lot more to send next week and for most of them the last posting date is this Friday. My feet were sore enough this week. James your on stand by for some foot rubbing ;o). Poor poor James... ;o)

I was queuing up in Starbucks this morning getting Gingerbread latte # 15 and there was a bloke behind me on his mobile (cell) phone to a mate saying "Im in Costa and they have ginger loaf cake" I cant believe he uttered the "C" word in my beloved Starbucks. If I was one of the Barristas I would have unceremoniously chucked him out (after he paid for his drink) for being so stupid!

It would have made me laugh if he was supposed to be meeting his friend for a gingerbread latte and ended up in the wrong coffee shop ;o).

I took the plunge and weighed myself this morning since our holiday, I was hoping against hope to have lost something since I last weighed myself, but no I put on five pounds FIVE POUNDS FIVE POUNDS FIVE POUNDS. Mind you I am pretty sure Ive lost something since I have come back as my work trousers do feel looser.

Sunday 22 November 2009

it feels a lot like Christmas

Wednesday saw the delivery of 78 die cast drills, that are presents for our brokers...

I spent Thursday and Friday in our meeting room (so I could have room to spread myself out type of thing) wrapping up the drills, I wanted to get them done before Monday, as we will have auditors in, and they will be in the meeting room. I ended up using 11 rolls of wrapping paper ;o).

Im so glad that the toys arrived early this year, as I have two whole weeks (yes thats 14 days) to sort out the ones to go overseas, as the last posting date is 4th December. You may remember that last year I was running around like a headless chicken! Only time will tell though ;o) or should that be a :o(.

Talking of all things Christmassy, me and James have decided to go for a festive afternoon tea on our week off, I will have to make sure that Im drinking my earl grey tea with my little finger cocked out ;o).

Oh I was in Sainsburys this morning doing our weekly shop, and I was calling James (or rather letting the phone ring twice and disconnecting the call - so he knows that Im about to pay), and I saw a nine year old girl with her Mother and Grandmother.

The girl was crying and the grandmother was saying "she did apologise" and the mother was saying she has to learn to be more respectful. I took this to mean that she had been rude to her Grandma. Suddenly this other woman storms up to them yelling "I have been a nanny for 30 years and the children that I have looked after have all had good manners", the mother than yells out at her "she apologised" and the woman shouts "no she didnt" and the mother yelled back "are you calling my daughter a liar" at which point the poor girl was in tears again.

All of this was happening at the front of the store (which incidentally is the only place you can get a phone signal since the store was refurbished a couple of years back).

We were In Starbucks this morning getting my 11th Gingerbread Latte, and their coffee machine had decided to breakdown. Its typical that these things will always breakdown at the busiest times. It looked like the coffee grinder (built into the machine) wasnt grinding the coffee as the baristas kept on removing the perspex bowl with the whole beans in and were "poking about" where the beans would be grounded. I do hope they disconnected the machine first - I dont want my next gingerbread latte being made by a nine fingered barista ;o)

Finally a goodbye to Als blog :o(. Me and James will both miss your musings...

Sunday 15 November 2009

It was spa-tastic

I had a great day on Tuesday (what with the not going to work and all ;o)). Me and two of my friends went to Greenwoods Spa for my friends 40th birthday (I still cant believe that my best friend is 40 or even worse that I will be that next year!).

I will have to start acting like a responsible adult soon (I just KNOW IT) :o(

I went for the same treatments (manicure, pedicure and facial) as the birthday girl and all three of our treatments were done at the same time.

You can tell that there is a recession on as they had special offers (slightly cheaper than if you had already booked them) for some of the more expensive treatments. I would have been well annoyed if I had booked something and saw that I could have got say £10.00 off!

Our facials and pedicures were done before lunch, I know my feet arent very nice, but I thought it was a bit insensitive of the girl to put safety goggles on (whilst yelling "I think I have won the £25.00 worst trotter sweepstake - with this one") ;o).

We then had a two course lunch, I went for the steak and guinness pie (which was quite small) and a small walnut torte with coffee ice cream for dessert. Considering it was mid week and there not being loads of people, the service was really slow. I even had to ask when we were going to get our desserts as by that point we were late for our manicures!

The treatment desk even rang to say that we would have to go up there that minute or to rebook our appointments! My friend (the birthday girl) who just had a smoothie went down and told them that I would be another 10 minutes. Needless to say we didnt leave the waitress a tip!

I then went for my manicure and it was really nice having someone rub handcream into my arms (I will definitely have to have another manicure and possibly even a pedicure again ;o)).

They even let us keep the nail varnish they used (for that extra (we are in a recession after all) value for money).

On Wednesday one of my bosses even remarked that my face was looking better following my facial ;o)

Sunday 8 November 2009

Cold enough for Soup

The weather has gone quite chilly in the last few days, so chilly that on Tuesday I got my Winter coat out!

Wednesday saw the launch of Starbucks Christmas drinks, so on my way in to work I got my first skinny Gingerbread latte of the year, and blooming gorgeous it was too ;o), Im trying to see how many I can drink before they stop selling them (for those of you who are interested Im upto three now).

Also on Wednesday I had a soup (I told you it was getting THAT cold!) Moroccan Chicken at Pret a Manger (Chicken, chick peas, onion, tomato, apricots, garlic, organic vegetable bouillon, jalapeno chilli, paprika, cumin, mint, coriander & cinnamon), that is definitely one I'll have again ;o).

I only have a four day week this week coming as my best friend has her 40th birthday on Tuesday, and we are going to Greenwoods for a day of beauty (I think I will need longer than a day though ;o)).

All the Christmas ranges are coming out in force now, before I know it it will be time to open my advent calendar - sorry James Im not allowed to share it with you (no you cant see where exactly it says that!) ;o).

Oh Ive made all of the holiday pictures public now, Ive commented on a few of them and am working my way through the rest. Im also looking at other peoples pictures again ;o)

Friday 6 November 2009

2nd lot of photos have been made public

My second lot of photos have been made public
I will try and sort out the rest and make them public at the weekend, but will comment as and when ;o)

Tuesday 3 November 2009

1st batch of holiday pictures

Ive released the first batch of our holiday pictures ;o)

More will be coming just as soon as Ive commented on them and stuff...

Sunday 1 November 2009

Piles of piles...

I walked into work last Monday morning knowing that there would be tons of work left for me having had two weeks off. I looked at my desk and it looked uncharacteristically clear, I then glanced into the meeting room and saw it all layed out in neat piles in there. My first thought was that I had done something wrong and I was in heaps of trouble, and I had that horrible sick feeling that goes with it (you know the one!).

One of my bosses walked in just before 9 and said that I had probably noticed how clear my desk was, and that they had sorted my work into piles for me and hidden them in the meeting room (so as not to freak me out), and I could work at them at my own pace. How nice was that? ;o).

The weather has turned really Autumnal now, and I cant believe how much it has been raining, yes I know this is England and it always rains...

On Wednesday the Starbucks Christmas drinks are out, Im so excited and cant wait to have the first Gingerbread latte of the season ;o).

So as not to be accused of being coffee snobs, we decided yesterday afternoon to try the Christmas drinks in Costa, James had a gingerbread latte (which he thought tasted artificial) and I had their Creme Brulee latte (it was horrible and just didnt taste nice and I wouldnt have it again). Starbucks did a Creme Brulee latte a couple of years ago which was really nice (Ive no idea why it didnt make it into the Christmas line up again :o(). There would be revolts mainly from me and James (probably more me if the truth) if the gingerbread latte wasnt there (I tells ya REVOLTS, R-E-V-O-L-T-S).

For those of you interested in my Flickr goings on, I have set up my first group, so look out for those A-boards and pavement signs and be sure to upload them ;o).

Im still not feeling brave enough to weigh myself yet...

The holiday pictures are still in the process of being uploaded and commented on, but James ones are online now.

Sunday 25 October 2009

OMG I cant believe how much I ate!

Well were back home now, but I cannot believe how much I ATE!

For the first two days I wasnt even getting hungry but was merely topping myself up with each meal. Finally on Thursday I told James (between mouthfuls of cornflake coated crunchy french toast), that if I was having the "all you can eat buffet breakfast" then I wouldnt be eating any lunch.

I wont be boring you all stupid with all the food I ate (like I did last year), besides I have taken loads of photos (which I am still uploading btw). Instead I will just tell you about the highlights ;o).

What surprised me the most was the tolerance that Americans have for people wandering in and out of the queue they are standing in. For instance Sowsha (yes this was her name - which I have spelt phonetically for you), was wandering in and out of the queue in the USPS she was looking at the packaging for sale and I was really surprised that the person behind her was keeping her place in the queue!

So consequently when I was queueing in the Starbucks near our hotel (Im not quite sure what drew me to this hotel ;o)), and the mad woman in front of me (she gave me a really dirty look when I dared to join the queue behind her), was wandering in and out of the queue (at one point she was complaining about the music volume) I kept her place for her (as was the done thing). Do you know when they asked her what she wanted to order she said that she wasnt ordering anything yet!

Back to the post office...

...I was in the post office as I had to buy stamps for the postcards and a package I was sending, the lady in front of me (her name was Cathy I think) asked one of the women workers if they had any boxes (and showed her one in her hand) and she went and got a load to replenish the stock. Anyhow the lady came back and Cathy put a load of the boxes in her bag! I was quite astonished by the balls this woman must have as there was one of Chicagos finest standing two people behind me (the one behind Sowsha if you like) I know he was on duty as he had his radio on! So I asked her if the boxes were free and she said that the Priority Mail boxes were, and you just had to pay for the shipping (how cool is that?), looking up at the poster you can send up to 70 lbs to any state for $14.99. If you were wondering what Cathy was sending - it was invites for her Halloween party - yes she was on the phone to her mates asking for their zip codes as she was sending her invites out.

Now onto Sowsha...

...she was sending a money order, and is taking a teaching course! And behind Sowsha was the cop who was complaining about how long the queue was.

Having hearing my accent Sowsha and the cop were chatting to me asking about the differences between Chicago and the UK, I then said about how brilliant the Priority Mail boxes were and that it would cost loads to send an 70 lb package in the UK ;o).

Incidentally State Street has a parade on Halloween (I will have to make sure that one year we holiday around Halloween in the US).

Our hotel was bang in the middle of The Magnificent Mile, and we had a myriad of restaurants to chose from ;o). We found a good hotdog place Portillos we knew it was good in there as on our first visit we found two lots of Chicago Cops eating there ;o).

James was well pleased as we found a food by the pound place Whole Foods Market where we could have our lunch.

When we were choosing where to eat our dinners my only preference was that they did nice desserts ;o).

I even got to try Red Velvet Cake I had seen it mentioned on Bridezillas and wanted to try it ;o)

Needless to say I havent dared weigh myself, as I just know I put on tons :o(

Sunday 4 October 2009

testing my willpower

Yesterday James interview on the Money box program on Radio 4 was broadcast...
...I laughed my head off when he said "I'll have to scan that" ;o)

On Thursday my boss went for a breakfast meeting and it was devoid of breakfast (so essentially just an early morning meeting) he came back saying "all we were after was a bacon sandwich and we didnt even get that". He then said I (as in he) will buy as all a bacon sandwich to make up for it...

...I was thinking what a great idea this was (as I had been thinking about bacon sandwiches) and he turned to me and asked if I minded getting them, it got me out of the office for 10 minutes so didnt mind ;o)
here is the bacon sandwich in all its loveliness ;o)
On Friday I ended up doing one of those tasks where you really need something nice to nibble on to get you through, I would normally have gone for something like this, and to be honest I almost went out and got them. But I thought to myself NO NO NO! I was quite proud of my willpower.

We have been watching Britains Best Dish and all the nice food on there made James fancy a Fish Terrine so we were looking in Marks & Spencer at their fish range...

The first thing we looked at was a White Orkney crab layered "thing" that was £5.49 that was way too expensive, then we looked at a similar crab thing but made with the dark meat and that was still too expensive at £3.49, and I said in a huff just get the fish sticks as they were 86 pence as he'll never know the difference once hes cut them up into his rice ;o).

Whilst in Marks & Spencers yesterday I was looking at their desserts and came across this lovely looking one...

Ive had a quarter of it so far and it was blooming gorgeous...

I decided to weigh myself today, just to see how I was going, I was hoping for a slight loss but was half expecting to have put on some as I have tried to be relaxed about things now and was well chuffed that I had only put on 100 grammes ;o)

Sunday 27 September 2009

I prefer my soup chunky

Last week was good as I was only in work for two days (Tuesday and Wednesday) as I was off sick on Monday and I had already booked Thursday and Friday off.

When I first tried New Covent Garden Food Company soups I thought they were chunky, then I tried the Main Course soups from Pret a Manger and I realised just how chunky chunky can be ;o).

Talking of chunky soups I tried another new one when I was off on Thursday Chorizo & Butterbean (chorizo, butterbean, onion, garlic, celery, tomato, organic vegetable bouillon, smoked Spanish paprika, cracked black pepper, thyme, rosemary & sage). It was really nice and filled a soup shaped hole in my tummy ;o).

I decided to make use of one of my days off by going to look at the Christmas shop at Harrods (yes Christmas starts in August for people like me ;o)). I love looking at their Christmas decorations and went for this handbag (or purse for those of you across the pond ;o)) one.

click on the photos for all sizes ;o)

They also had shoe ones too but Ive never really been into shoes, so didnt worry about those!

I then went around to Piccadilly to buy some posh biscuits these and these from Fortnum & Mason sorry James Im not sharing any of them ;o).

On my way to Fortnum & Mason I passed Minamoto Kitchoan (a Japanese cake shop) and got us some goodies (they all have red bean in them) from in there, we still havent tried them yet, Im sure they will be scrummy ;o)).

I came across a really cool art project in the courtyard of Burlington House its a structure of mirror balls, it wasnt sign posted or anything it was just through an archway off Piccadilly.

Also Chelmsford Farmers market wasnt on yesterday because of the damn Street Diversions, so I couldnt buy any fresh sausages, so I will be dipping into my "reserves" the problem is I havent marked up any of the bags in the freezer, so I will be enjoying or enduring a pot luck ;o).

Sunday 20 September 2009

James has been sharing again...

James has been his usual caring sharing self by giving me his cold, I started to feel horrible yesterday, why couldnt my cold have started in the week, so I could feel grotty in work time?

Please imagine me typing this with a husky voice and add a few coughs too for a bit of authenticity ;o)

Oh well, I will pass on the favour by sharing with my train carriage tomorrow ;o).

Talking of trains, Wednesday was a nightmare!

I got to Liverpool Street Station on Wednesday evening and the concourse was teeming with people, so I fought my way through to where my train home normally goes from. About 10 minutes later there is a tannoy announcement that that a tree has come down and damaged overhead lines in the Chelmsford area! The trains were running on all the other routes except for mine aaaarrrgggghhhhh!

At about 20 to 6 there is another announcement that there will be no mainline trains (yes my line) out of Liverpool Street for at least the next hour *sigh* so I rang James and told him that he might as well start his dinner because I wasnt going to be home for ages. The announcers kept reiterating that we are better off staying in London until the line opens (and I agreed with that).

There was a train in the platform where I was standing just saying "Not in Service" on the front of the train, I had seen a few people get on the train, and as it was one of the trains that normally goes to Chelmsford and my legs were aching I decided to sit on the train and wait and wait and wait!

At 6.30 (an hour and 15 minutes after arriving at the station) there was another announcement that the tree had been removed and that the line would be opening imminently! And sure enough a few minutes later there is an announcement that the train on platform 12 (I was on platform 10) would be departing soon and was stopping at Chelmsford. I thought to myself (while working on the philosophy that a bird in the hand is worth 2 in the bush) well this train (that I have seat on) is bound to be leaving shortly and hopefully it will stop at Chelmsford.

There is then another announcement that the train at platform 13 would be stopping at Chelmsford (it was like they were taking the pee out of me and it was frustrating!). Then as if by magic people started streaming onto my train, we were asking the people if the train stopped at Chelmsford etc (and luckily it did). The train eventually departed at 7pm packed to the rafters and luckily I had a seat ;o).

I eventually got into Chelmsford at 8pm, and I was blooming tired and hungry.

On a completely different subject one of my colleagues was asking if my camera did black and white photographs (I had read in the manual that it did but hadnt had a play with those settings yet). So I downloaded the manual (while at work) and had a play with the different colour settings ;o)

see my flickr pictures here

Sunday 13 September 2009

Christmas is a coming and its only September!

I cant believe that the supermarkets have started selling mince pies already...

I really got into them last Christmas and am aiming to have a mince pie every day throughout December!

I have to admit that since deciding last week to not weigh myself so regularly, I havent been so preoccupied with it all... ;o)

Theres a shop near where I work called Konditor & Cook and outside they have an A-board advertising their wares, on Friday morning I finally went in there and bought myself a slice of orange and lavender slabcake.

It wasnt overly nice, and I much preferred the maple pecan yumyum I got on Saturday, it was far nicer ;o)

you can see my other flickr pictures here...

When coming home from Chelmsford this morning (or rather afternoon as it was in the PM) we were in The Meadows carpark heading back to the car and James suddenly darted off (faster than an old lady who has just heard that there are free Parma Violets for the first 50 customers) having seen a folded up £10.00 note just laying there...

...what a result (that payed for our drinks and eats) ;o).

Wednesday 9 September 2009

Dont show me in HD

Post two of two

Last night we watched our first High Definition programme...

Wowzers the programme was so much clearer and sharper ;o)

Paul Sr looked about 10 years older as you could really see all of his wrinkles. You could also see each individual facial hair (even the ones that were jutting out to the side).

And you could see how pockmarked Jim Quinns face was...

...yikes ;o)

They also went to Finland , where they are looking to branch out into Europe, one of the scenes showed it snowing and you could really see the snow clearly too.

One of the people Paul Sr was speaking to had a massive beard and you could see each individual hair really clearly too (luckily there was no food caught up in it) I was looking intently for a piece of reindeer stew caught up like a fly in a spiders web ;o).

I dont know if I would have upgraded had our sky+ box not have broken, but I am glad we did, I just hope that there are enough HD programmes to watch.


Post one of two

On Monday morning I had a phone call just before 9am from the Sky engineer saying that he would arrive between 9 and 10 am (at least Im their first job of the day). At just after 10 am I hear the sound of a van outside and look out of the front door and see two sky vans and two engineers. My first thought was ok so Sky doesnt care much about their carbon footprint.

Anyhow the two engineers come in carrying a box containing the shiny new Sky+ HD box, they start disconnecting the defunct Sky+ box and connect up the HD one. They then switch our (supposedly HD) television to HDMI mode, and there is vision but no sound :o(. So one of the engineers goes out to the van to get another HDMI scart lead whilst the other is on the phone to Sky finding out why we "aint got no sound". I asked him if this sort of problem occurs regularly and he just said "it aint a problem its just a setting".

So the new lead is fitted and there still isnt any sound, so they then went out to the van to get a new HD box in case that was faulty, and there was still no sound *sigh*.

They then call the TV manufacturer to see if they can suggest as to why there is no sound (they were worse than useless) the bloke was just reading off a card saying to disconnect the tv and reconnect everything and to re tune it etc, the Sky engineer was starting to lose his patience and told him that he knew this wouldnt work. The sound worked ok through the normal Scart lead (but not much help if you want to watch HD).

He then asked me if the tv was still in warranty as that must be where the fault lies. I remembered that we bought the tv from Argos in November, so was sure it was still in warranty. I found the receipt and yes we bought it in November , November 2007, my (cleaned up) thought was blimey we are out of warranty.

I sent James a text to tell him about the problems and he suggested calling Argos to complain. So I called Argos and explained what happened. I was then put through to a supervisor and explained the situation to her, she then spoke to the store manager on my behalf and they agreed to give us a full refund in gift vouchers to be used towards a new HD television. What a result ;o).

So last night I sent James out to Argos to do the exchange, and we now have a brand new television for £50.00, and yes the HDMI socket has both sound and vision...

See my next post for the review of the first truly HD programme that we watched last night...

Sunday 6 September 2009

three possible titles

The first two titles of this post could have been "Its pining for the fjords" or "The saga continues"...

Yes youve guessed it the damn Sky+ box is on its last legs again! You can read the whole sorry tale here and here.

On Wednesday night we came home to find the sky+ box wasnt allowing us to play the programmes already recorded or to record programmes, so we rebuilt the planner again, it would work for a while and would die again! After this happening three or four times we came to the conclusion that the sky+ box is on its way to the big "sitting room in the sky", and it was time to bite the bullet and either upgrade or get a new box.

After being told when I rang to upgrade to Sky+ HD that it would take six weeks due to the high demand, I then got an e-mail two days later saying that an HD box was ready for me, I have subsequently been getting e-mails from them every other day (I kid you not) saying that my HD box is ready!

So Thursday morning I tried ringing Sky to get an engineer out to replace the box, and because I was ringing from work and couldnt rebuild the planner from where I was I would have to wait and call when I got home (and wait an extra blooming day I may add). I wasnt having any of this, and decided to jump in head first and upgrade, I tried doing it online (as per the e-mail) and it wouldnt let me, it gave me a number to ring and was when I called was told that the "Sky offices arent open yet" but didnt say what time they would open. I was ringing just after 8am so this was hardly in the middle of the night!

So I looked on the Sky website and rang the number there, long story short; tomorrow morning I will be awaiting a man bearing HD ;o). I am so excited!

Thursday night I got home and I have received a statement from Sky for this months payment including the £65.00 for the engineer visit that I cancelled a couple of weeks ago! So I called them Friday morning and was told that when the engineers visit was cancelled the person forgot to delete the call out charge, and because it is less than two weeks before the payment date they cannot amend the payment! So my choices are either to cancel the direct debit and pay the normal Sky subscription and set up the Direct Debit again (which I am not happy about in case we forget to do it), or to let them keep the money and they dont charge us until the £65.00 has been used or for them to credit us back the money to our bank account. If we want them to credit us back the money we then have to wait another 14 days because the bank has 2 weeks to refuse the payment.

I then asked to speak to a supervisor as this wasnt the fault of the person I was speaking to, and I had a general moan about it all and all she could do was apologise. I then asked if they could offset the £65.00 against the money I was paying to upgrade to HD and no they cant do that either! So I said I would have a think about it and will call them on Tuesday. This is all such a palaver!

We have really missed not having Sky+, and had to record The Hairy Bikers Food Tour of Britain on VHS how antiquated was that?

The other possible title for this post was "On the soup again", as on Tuesday I decided that Pret a Manger soups should rejoin the lunch repertoire ;o) So I tried another new soup Malaysian Chicken (Chicken, rice, coconut milk, onion, garlic, red chilli, fish sauce, lime juice, lemongrass and galangal), it was really nice so will definitely have that one again ;o).

Yesterday while in Marks & Spencer I was looking at their scrummy desserts and after loads of deliberating I decided to go for their Key Lime Pie, whilst looking at the nutritional information on the back I misread the portion size thinking it was per quarter, but was actually per sixth! oh well ;o) Im sure I will get through it ok ;o) And even better James thought the lime was a bit sharp tasting so I dont have to share it ;o)

I weighed myself this morning and was the same again, I think I am going to stop weighing myself for a while and just do it once a month or something ;o)

Tuesday 1 September 2009

Published photographer

Im now a published photographer ;o)

The guys at Schmap included my picture of Leadenhall Street Market...

Today WILL be a good day ;o)

Sunday 30 August 2009

sucked in...

Yes, I have got sucked in watching The X factor, they are still showing the auditions at the moment. As you would expect some people are really good and others are painfully bad! I am pleased to say its another good show to watch whilst doing the exercise bike. James calls it mindless drivel (one of his more polite terms!), but I likes it ;o).

In our Starbucks on the wall by the drinks station they have up what iced drinks the baristas prefer, being primarily frappuccinos, one of the supervisors put down her favourite as a coffee frappuccino with gingerbread syrup (obviously seasonal). You guessed it, the power of suggestion got the better of me and ever since reading it I have been fantasising about a gingerbread frap...

So, yesterday I was sitting there eating my croissant with strawberry jam drinking my skinny sugarfree vanilla latte, and I see the said supervisor. So I told her that since seeing her favourite frap I NOW WANT that drink! She then whispers to me and James that she has a secret supply of gingerbread syrup, and she will leave a note to say that I can have some of her secret stash ;o). So my next thought was how do I order it? Do I have to ask for it in code such as "Fido will be going with Gretal to Grandmas house"

We went back into town yesterday afternoon as is now part of our Saturday ritual, I was queueing up to get our drinks and one of the girls said to me "so your not having your Special then" so I said no I will have that tomorrow! So I now know how to order my "special" order, phew what a relief ;o).

So today in Starbucks I am finally ready to order my "special drink" so I queue up and ask for a "tall coffee lite Special" and she knows EXACTLY what I would like. So I get my eagerly awaited drink and it was absolutely gorgeous, I had to hold on to it tightly as I feared that James would nick it from me. I reluctantly let him have the tiniest of tastes (I allowed him to sip for half a second - although I think that was way too long!).

No sure what we are going to do tomorrow yet as its a Bank Holiday, but if I want my "special drink" then it will have to involve going back to our Starbucks, what a decision to have to make!

I weighed myself this morning and was pleased that I am exactly the same, so thats pretty good ;o)

Sunday 23 August 2009

evil outlook

Since James has been temping he has needed to complete timesheets showing his hours worked. I have been doing him reminder e-mails to complete them. I did six (one, two, three, four, five, six) of them before getting fed up. The sixth and last one was Thursday.

I then had a tiffany moment (a bit like an epiphany but with bling), that I invite James to a weekly meeting, meaning that he will get weekly reminders and I dont have to keep e-mailing him! The idea then hit me that as long as I can get him to "accept" my invites, I can then manipulate his calender - such as 11am Friday (half an hour before he goes to lunch) "buy Amber a huge bar of nice chocolate" ;o) I wonder if Bill knows of my evil intentions ;o).

Back in January our Sky+ Box had a hissy fit and was saying that there were no programmes in the programme planner. We rebuilt the planner and all was fixed. Last night we were watching something we recorded, and the skybox kept on freezing and would then reboot itself. After several goes of this we then decided to rebuild the planner. The skybox wouldnt let us record anything either, and still wouldnt after rebuilding (this course of action had worked back in January). We then decided that it may work out cheaper to upgrade to Sky+HD as we didnt take out the extended warranty.

So after coming back from town I call Sky to upgrade to HD to be told that there is a six week waiting list (one, two three, four five, six), I was dumbfounded! Six weeks (one, two, three, four, five, six) of not being able to record stuff! We then hit upon the idea of calling an engineer out to get a replacement box, that will cost us £65.00 (around $100.00) and the guy is due Tuesday afternoon between 12 and 5pm! And what would you know, after booking the engineer the skybox is working ok! Aaaargggghhhh If its still ok tomorrow morning I will probably cancel!

So this morning while doing the exercise bike (with the absence of being able to watch something I have recorded) I put on a Sesame Street DVD it really made the 35 minutes whizz by ;o) What surprised me was at the beginning of the DVD they said that this show was for adults only and shouldnt be shown to pre-schoolers! Surely learning is learning. In the episode I saw it didnt show anything that I would call questionable. Did you know that Oscar was originally orange? I was quite shocked! In all honesty I dont think I will ever get over this, and may have psychological repercussions ;o)

The sausage lady came up trumps again yesterday, by having my chili chocolate sausages ;o) How many other people have sausages made especially for them? The Queen may give Royal Warrants to companies but I bet she doesnt have many things made especially for her!

Its been the V festival this weekend, I havent seen too many of the festival goers myself as I guess we have been in Chelmsford before many of them have been bothered to get out of their tents. And thanks to NXEA not allowing off peak tickets to be used between 4.29 pm and 6.34 pm this means all but the more affluent festival goers arent going to be travelling on my train ;o). Typically I was sitting next to one of them!

I weighed myself this morning and was well chuffed that I have lost the two pounds (one, two) that I put on last week ;o)

This post has been bought to you by the numbers two and six and the letters l b and s ;o)

Monday 17 August 2009

The shortlisted photo

Sorry the link wasnt working... is the photo for you ;o)

my flickr pictures are here

Sunday 16 August 2009

half a cupcake if you dare?

First thing first on Thursday I got an email from Schmap saying that one of my photos has been shortlisted for inclusion in the eighth edition of the Schmap London Guide, to be published early September 2009 ;o) How excited am I...

...I could soon say that I am a published photographer ;o) Any time that James criticises my photos I can say "well I am a published photographer so there" whilst sticking my tongue out with my hands on my head antler style ;o) Very childish I know! Actually I think I will change his wallpaper to that picture as a constant reminder for him ;o)

NXEA latest 48 hour strike started on Thursday. I was quite annoyed that they included in the Industrial Action Timetable the special trains that they had running the week before. This time they were running three per hour upto 9am, and I just knew that the train journey wasnt going to be nearly as comfortable as it was :o(.

Anyhow Thursday morning arrives and I get to the station in time for the first train and there are station staff informing us passengers of the trains that are running (just to make sure that everyone knows of the extra trains), and an announcement comes over the tannoy that the first train hasnt even left Colchester yet as there is some sort of problem *sigh*. So the (what was an extra) train arrives having started from Witham with the carriages around three quarters full, but I was pleased that I got a seat.

My boss let me leave in time for the 4pm train (because unlike the morning, the trains in the evening were still running one per hour!). I left work at 3.25 just to make sure I had plenty of time to get a good seat, I was sitting there and at about 3.55 the driver announces that tomorrows (Fridays) strike will not be going ahead as a compromise has been reached. Someone (not me Im hasten to add) shouted "Oh no" ;o). I texted my boss to let him know because his trains were also effected. The people who were sitting near me on the train were saying they wernt going to tell their bosses, and one woman was moaning because she had already made the time up!

Thursday was even more of a good day as my latest chocolate tasting box arrived from Hotel Chocolat...

Last week I bought a packet of four gorgeous lemon meringue cupcakes, I ate two at the weekend with the intention on having the other two during the week. Because they were quite calorific (did you like my new word?) I had the idea that I could have half a cupcake each night thus spreading the calories over four nights.

This idea worked ok on Monday as the cupcakes were still fresh, but by Wednesday because they were getting stale (although still before the sell by date) the cupcake disintegrated as I cut into it, so I ended up having half the crumbly mess Wednesday night and the other half on Thursday, the meringue was made of harder stuff and kept intact Im pleased to say.

I weighed myself this morning and was gutted that I have put on two pounds, I can only put it down to the fact that I didnt have my normal sausages last week. I ended up having English Breakfast sausages that were a lot meatier! I shall have to see how I go next week.

Oh well...

Sunday 9 August 2009

Going to work in the strike...

Im going to start this post from Tuesday evening...

...Im sitting on the train and notice that I have a text message from nxea, it says something on the lines of "regrettably the 48 hour strike on Thursday & Friday will go ahead as planned - limited services will run - please check website for details".

So on Wednesday morning I tell my boss that the train strike will be going ahead and would he like me to work from home, or try to come in? He says he would like me to try to come in but to "play it by ear"! So I checked the Industrial Action timetable and saw that they were running one train per hour with the first train of the day at 6.43 that was starting from Colchester. I decided that I would go for that train as it was my best chance of getting in.

On Wednesday morning, I left with James just before 6am so I could stand on the platform just where the train doors would be (otherwise you have no hope of getting a seat). I got to Chelmsford Station at about 6.25 and the platform was busy - but not so busy that they would stop people from getting on the platform (this has been known to happen if there has been signal failures or the like).

At about 6.40 there is a tannoy announcement that the 6.43 is "full and standing" but there is an extra service starting at Witham that will arrive at Chelmsford at 7.13 so if you cant get on the 43 you can get on this train. So the 6.43 arrives and they werent joking, every carriage had people standing in the doorways. And all the people "who just had to get on the first train" crammed onto the train. One carriage was so full that the doors wouldnt shut and a skinny bloke had to get off the train! THEY WERE THAT FULL THAT NOT EVEN A SKINNY PERSON COULD CRAM IN!!!!

The 7.13 then arrives and it is practically empty (I didnt tell my boss that bit ;o)), so I get a seat and get into London just before 8am. My colleagues were well surprised that I got in at all.

I then checked the trains going home... we all know getting in is one thing but going home is an entirely different matter! The trains home were again one per hour, this time on the hour. So I was told I could go for the 4pm train (as the 5pm would be crammed) so I decided to leave at 3.35 its a 10/15 minute walk to Liverpool Street Station, and this should get me there early enough to get a seat. I just about got a seat (everyone else had a similar idea!). As it was I got home just after 5pm so that was good ;o).

On Friday I again got to Chelmsford in time for the first train, again it was busy (not as busy as Thursday but there were people standing in the doorways again). Good job I was there early again as the extra service being run that day was at 6.51 (so anyone who was hoping to catch the extra service at 7.13 as per Thursday would have been disappointed). Again the extra train arrived practically empty and "the cherry on the cake" was that I had a two seater all to myself! I dont normally get that even on a normal day ;o).

My boss again was really pleased that I got in and I told him about "just getting a seat" and he said that I could leave earlier so I left at 3.30 and there were more empty seats when I got on the train (so I was well pleased).

Yesterday I was in Marks & Spencer looking at desserts, and came across some scrummy Lemon Meringue cupcakes (and even better James doesnt like them - so I dont have to share ;o)).

see my other flickr pictures here

This morning I was doing the shopping in Sainsbury's, I was in the crackers aisle and shock horror they didnt have any Marmite Breadsticks, I just stood there whimpering and pining thinking what am I going to do (they dont sell them in the Sainsburys near where I work!), I then see the shelfstacker and ask her (in my calmest "inside" voice) if they have any marmite breadsticks in the back? In reality I said "gotmarmitebreadsticksinbackneedmarmitebreadsticksneedthemnow-MUSTHAVEMARMITEBREADSTICKS!" yes I didnt pause for breath while frantically asking. She humoured me and looked in the store room. She came back with a Security guard (worrying that I would throw a hissy fit) to tell me that she was really sorry but they didnt have any but they would be having a delivery tonight. I then feeling defeated (I was close to tears I tell you) decided to go for the Marmite Ricecakes.
I weighed myself this morning and was well chuffed that I lost the 100 grammes I put on last week.

Sunday 2 August 2009

Going to work in my PJs

OOOOhhhh I have a new follower...

Welcome dot (thats what Im going to call you ;o)).

Well the train strike went ahead on Thursday and Friday last week (that was a surprise I can tell you), when I got up on Thursday morning and checked the website I was half expecting "we are pleased to say the strike has been called off", but no it was "please allow more time for your journey". Yes they were running limited trains of one per hour (as opposed to the six per hour I can get normally) on the different lines. The one would have to have got would have started from Colchester a full five stations down the line from me and would have been packed to the rafters (if trains had rafters ;o)).

So, I ended up working from home. I decided that if I got up at my normal time, then I could start work at say 7am and doing 7 hours work I could be finished by 2pm, leaving the afternoon to do as I like ;o) That was my theory and to my surprise (and yours too) thats what I did.

So what did I do with my extra hours? As the weather was nice I went out for walks ;o).

On Saturday my Mum and Sister came over from The Netherlands they are here until Wednesday (just before the next strikes are due). I went and met up with them along with Brother no 2 and his girlfriend. I promised my Mum I would mention her on my blog without blaming her for my witches hair ;o).

I never realised how much my love of fig rolls affected their childhood. Apparently I would award the person who kept quietest the longest with a fig roll! I also said that if you talked too much then you would run out of words ;o). What a nice big sister I am ;o).

All this talk of fig rolls has made me want some, so when I was shopping in Sainsburys this morning I spent a whole 5 minutes down the biscuit aisle looking for them, and was mighty pleased that I did.

You will probably recall last weeks brilliant idea of having a good dessert on Saturday night and a bad dessert on Sunday (after weighing myself), well this week I decided to go for good desserts both days. partly because I saw that Marks & Spencers also do a chocolate muffin dessert. I had that one last night and that was gorgeous too - definitely going on my desserts to have again list.

Thinking about it I dont think the list of stuff I wouldnt have again has anything on it!

I weighed myself this morning and have put on 100 grammes, no big deal!

Sunday 26 July 2009

Why didnt I think of this earlier?

While I was in Marks & Spencer yesterday, I hit upon my most brilliant idea... get a low calorie dessert for Saturday night and a high(er) calorie one for Sunday night (to have after I have weighed myself).

Okay so Im only fooling myself!

The Count On Us toffee muffin dessert was really nice, and I will definitely get it again, it was toffee sauce, toffee muffin and toffee mousse mmmmmmmmmmm. The unhealthy (or rather the anti toffee muffin dessert) dessert I got was a Chocolate Overload, and that is super scrummy too ;o).

While waiting for the train on Wednesday morning, I saw three old ladies come up in the lift with a middle aged bloke (who appeared to be in charge), the old dears all had suitcases with them. They went to sit down on one of the benches and I thought to myself at least they wont disturb me...

...then a few minutes later another intake of oldies came up in the lift. Again three old ladies (and again with their suitcases) and the bloke got up to talk to them. I thought well at least they will go and sit down too. But no, the second lot decide to stand behind me and were wittering on about "Mr Smiths gammy leg" and "how Marys son still aint right" and worse than that someone was wearing "eau de Fairy Liquid"

Why on earth would someone knowingly buy bathing products that smell like Fairy liquid. Unless that lady had ACTUALLY bathed in Fairy! You can just hear her reasoning, "if its good enough for me dishes then its good enough for me - look Vera it says it cuts through grease too" Luckily they got on the train to Norwich, as I just know that if they had got on my train then they would have sat behind me!

On Thursday I was greeted by a poster saying that there may be a train driver strike on Thursday and Friday this week, with further ones planned on subsequent weeks! At least they havent got them planned on the Bank Holiday weekend. Mind you they dont want to upset the passengers too much do they. Oh well with a bit of luck they wont be going ahead. Or I may be having a long weekend!

You will be please to know that my brilliant idea worked, well sort of anyway. As I well well chuffed that when I weighed myself this morning I have lost 200 grammes.