Friday, 30 April 2010

Nathan Jones - Bananarama

One of my all time favorite songs (and I don't usually do old tunes).

Video

Smash Hits Poll Winners Party

And the Original from The Supremes (but don’t listen out for Diana Ross, this was The Supremes first song after Miss Ross left the group). The song is also unusual in that all three group members sing lead vocals.

Great song and sorry, but you will be singing it all day now!

Builders

We have the builders back in again at the office in Leeds. The CSI plastic sheeting went back up in the West wing (or is it the East wing? I don’t know how people know which way the directions are, and do they change depending on where you are? For example if I am standing in front of the office block and my office is on the East side, if I face away from the office is my office then on the West side? I find it very confusing and life would be much simpler if we didn’t have directions).

And just a point, if I am in the East wing, I don’t really like it, I think being in the West wing sounds much better, so if I am in the East side, I need to move.

Anyway I digress; the builders are in to convert the empty wing into a useable office space. But I notice they also have the scaffolding up outside as we have lost another piece of three meter square glass off the front of the building.

Mystery surrounds what our new office space will look like, but there is a rumour going around we are getting a kitchen, or at least a tap.

As part of this refurbishment an interim resolution has been put into place to help solve the over crowding on the ground floor. We are getting another dozen or so team members (just what we need space wise) over the next few weeks, so three new chicken coops have been manoeuvred into and area which was previously used to walk up and down the office.

It will now be home to 12 new people. I can’t wait to see their faces on their first day when they are told ‘this is your new home!’

I am not sure how the office fit out is going, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of crashing and banging going on, I have been through a couple of times to give the workmen a nudge, but it doesn’t seem to have had much of an effect.

We are scheduled to have all work done by mid-June although some bits might be done by the middle of May.

I think I am moving into the new bit, if so it will be my fourth location since I started in Leeds last March. I am a bit torn, I don't really like where they have stuck me at the minute - even though it has a magnificent view of the car park and the brewery, but I think the other side of the building looks a bit gloomy and over looks the main road (or race track as I usually call it). Still I will have to wait and see what the new lay out looks like before I decide how I am going to play this one.

Thursday, 29 April 2010

One Week to Go

With only one week to go until the election, there are a couple of points I have been wondering about. In the months before the election campaign there was a lot of talk about the rise of the BNP and the possibility that they would get some Parliamentary seats. My observation that they have been almost invisible during the election campaign. After all the fuss about letting Nick Griffen onto Question Time they seem to have disappeared.

Perhaps letting the BNP leader onto TV was the best possible decision - letting everyone see what a buffoon he is, a dangerous one, but a buffoon nevertheless.

The other question is about the SNP - they rather latterly decided they should have representation on the Leader's Debate programmes on TV. Taking their case to the High Court this week. What I don't understand is, the debates were announced before Christmas, so why did it take the SNP so long to realise they thought they should be included? It couldn't be because they thought the Debates would be a big yawn and no one would watch them. Having realised they have generated a lot of interest they now decide they should be part of them.

It rather undermines their case , either they should be part of them or they shouldn't. they can't just be part of them because they think they have something to gain.

Anyway the High court saw through their nonsense and has thankfully spared the nation from an hour and a half of Alex Salmond droning on about one chip or an other on his shoulder.

Polls today

Conservative - 34%
Labour - 29%
LibDems - 28%

Gillian Duffy

Do you think Gilian Duffy has a look of Susan Boyle? Maybe she is the new Susan Boyle - wonder if she can sing 'I Dreamed a Dream'?

Gordon Brown

As we near the end of the General Election Campaign, I just thought I would give a little advice for Gordon Brown:

· Don’t go to Rochdale
· Don’t talk to little old ladies in the street
· Don’t talk about immigration;
· Don’t wear a microphone;
· Don’t take any advice off a staff member called ‘Sue;

Oh no I just realised - I was supposed to issue this advice last week!

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Lipsticks

I have never bought a lipstick; I have no intentions of ever buying a lipstick. I am therefore no expert, but I still have a view on the subject.

First, the question – why would anyone buy a lipstick at 8 o’clock in the morning in the smallest Boots store in England? I ask the question as almost every morning without fail a woman, (not the same woman every morning obviously, or I really would get cross!) decides to make such a purchase and block the aisle for everyone else in the store. As I say I am no expert, but I would have thought buying a lipstick was something you needed to think about. Is it your colour? Will it complement your other make-up? Do you have the right clothes to wear the lipstick? In other words is the lipstick right for you. Get it wrong and you will have a disaster – quite literally all over your face.

So I would have thought the best time to buy a lipstick would be on a Saturday afternoon, and the best place would be a large store with plenty of light and space so you can wander around and get it right. Not in some grotty little station store with no room to move.

Oh, and if you were the woman buying a Coral Pink lipstick in Leeds station Boots this morning and wondering why you have a dusty foot print on your handbag – then I suggest you don’t root around all the lipsticks for half an hour leaving your handbag, gym kit bag and shopping bag lying all over the floor!

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Charlotte and the Dorothys

Watching the search for a Dorothy result show and see Charlotte Church was mentoring the girls this week. Not a big fan of Church’s but did notice she was the only one wearing trousers when they sang their group song (the Dorothys were all wearing short dresses). Was this so we could tell her apart and see that she was the proper singer?

But first we had the competition to find a dog to play Toto. Couldn’t really understand this bit, wasn’t Toto a little mutt of a thing that rode around in the basket on Dorothy’s bicycle? Some of the dogs they were considering were the size of a small horse - clearly they wouldn’t do at all. There were a couple of beagles - but one of them looked really evil, it was all very tense while we waited for the final five - I really must find something else to do on a Sunday night, I am watching far too many reality programmes!

For the results we had the purple Dorothy and the navy Dorothy (I still don’t know their names). The purple Dorothy is a lot prettier than the navy Dorothy so that was wear my money was - think she was a better singer as well. In the end she won out and the navy Dorothy left.

But talking of Charlotte, there was an item in the news this week about Britain’s richest singers. Charlotte, Katherine Jenkins and Leona Lewis were all at the top with £11 million each. Just shows the power of X Factor. Charlotte and Katherine have been around for years and Leona has only released one album and a few mournful tunes and she is up there with them.

Next in the list is Cheryl Cole with £10 million and the other Girls Aloud band members with £5 million each. Highest male on the list was Craig David with £11 million. (Who knew Craig David had so much money!) I assume the list was earnings for the year not total wealth?

Shopping

At long last Spring seems to have finally arrived with a beautifully warm day on Saturday (the much promised even warmer day on Sunday doesn’t seem to have happened). Going out on Saturday night it was almost like a Summer evening. But this warmer weather does bring with it some dreadful consequences.

For some, a warm sunny day means it is ok to go shopping round town wearing any old tat that comes to hand. Well it isn’t. When people go out shopping or for lunch they don’t want to see your rotten old clothes that most people wouldn’t do the gardening in.

Fortunately help is at hand, here are some tips to make your trip into town a little more pleasing.

Don’t wear:

  • Washed out ten year old tee shirts that have been through the wash so many times even you don’t know what the original colour was;
  • Track suits - these are to wear at sporting venues, ideally over the top of your kit and only worn on your way to and away from the sporting event - also they are not for wearing when you actually take part in the sporting event;
  • Football tops - these are made of nylon and not suitable for wearing on a sunny day, nor are they suitable for wearing as you walk around department stores (or any other shop for that matter), nor should they be worn in a restaurant;
  • Men should not wear trousers that cut-off above the ankle (see earlier blog on this subject)
  • Men in vest tops - put a shirt on no one wants to see under your arms
  • Baseball caps - do I really have to tell you about this one, unless you are under 10 then don’t wear a baseball cap in any situation.

If you are buying clothes, think about what you wear before you leave the house. You could be in and out of changing rooms all day, so wearing items with complicated fastenings or two many layers will just get annoying.

One other tip, if you are buying anything, then really you should only carry one bag. It is not a good look to walk about with half a dozen different carrier bags from half the shops in town.

If you must buy two items, place the smaller bag into the larger bag. This will give the effect of only carrying one bag. Be Green and help the store reduce its bag consumption if you put the item straight into your other bag.

If multiple purchases are necessary and placing bags inside each other is not practical, then a trip to the car to store your items securely in the boot is in order. Before you return tot he shops and carry on shopping.

Ben Sheppard

Now you know me I am as interested in Celebrity ‘culture’ as anyone, (admittedly I am waiting for it to implode, but that is an interest of sorts) but I have to take issue with an article about Ben Sheppard. He was described as a ‘star of GMTV‘. Hold it right there, Elizabeth Taylor is a Star, Paul Newan is a Star. Ben Sheppard sits on a couch and reads an autocue - he is not a Star.

The article was about his upcoming departure from GMTV. He says he has had an incredible ten years with GMTV but he wanted to leave and do other things that he was really excited about. (Why would you leave a job that is incredible?)

I have looked up the word incredible - it means ‘beyond belief or understanding’. When people on TV leave such jobs, soaps etc they always have ‘some exciting projects lined up that they can’t really disclose just yet, but it wont be long before we see them again.

This really means either ‘I am really popular at the moment and someone has offered me three years salary to do a job for six months, but other than that I have nothing lined up, but I am so fabulous I am sure something else will come along’ or ‘I have been sacked and I don’t know what I am going to do next’.

Unfortunately Celebrity world is littered with the remnants of yesterdays fabulous people. So good luck Ben!

London Marathon

London Marathon time again and was won by an Ethiopian. Why do Ethiopians always win it? Everyone in Ethiopia must be a fast runner. Never know why they put it on TV, once you have seen one Marathon you have seem them all. Still well done to all taking part - I couldn’t do it.

Still there was one question in my mind that I hadn’t thought about before. When you have completed the Marathon you are 26 miles from home and have to get back through all the closed roads. So it would make more sense to start at the end, so when you have finished you will be home.

I will have to remember that if I ever run a marathon!

Friday, 23 April 2010

Meetings

Do we have to have meetings - I have been asking this question for years.

Shakespeare

Happy Birthday to Shakespeare, oh and sorry for your loss. Shakespeare is one of those rare souls that died on his birthday, although presumably not in the same year!

Thursday, 22 April 2010

In the Air Again

As we slowly get back to normal in the air, it is time to reflect on some of the very real hardship caused by the erupting volcano in Iceland. There have been many reports of parents stranded abroad after a holiday without their children, and now they are almost frantic to get back to the UK so they can send the kids to school.

On a personal note I have a friend that has been stuck in Gran Canaria for almost a week after he was supposed to return to the UK. He is in an absolutely desperate situation. He was telling me that after an unplanned week on holiday he is facing the very real prospect of having to wear the same outfit twice.

I know! It is an appalling situation to be in. It is something that you think could only happen to other people. I have suggested buying new clothes – but I have tried clothes shopping in Gran Canaria and it is not a good experience, so I can well see his dilemma. He has said he has tried, but in his heart of hearts he knows this wont provide a solution.

None of this human tragedy is reported, but it is real suffering on a massive scale.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Disney

In the news today it is reported that a mother and daughter were turned away from EuroDisny (I know it's Disneyland Paris now, but it will always be EuroDisney to me) because they looked too much like fairy princesses.

They were told they were 'too pretty' and might be confused with Disney staff. Apparently the mother and child were not very happy about it and have complained.

If it is any help - I have seen the pictures and I wouldn't worry about it - I can confirm you don't look like princesses!

Judge for yourself and see the fairy princesses.

Election

It has been quite a week on the campaign trail. Politicians normally love the run up to an election where they can be on TV every day and take every opportunity to tell up how clever and wonderful they are. They must have been very frustrated this week, because despite the fact this is the second week of the election campaign, all anyone is talking about is volcanoes and how half of the UK is stranded abroad.

You can almost see MPs exploding in annoyance that they are not the lead story on the news – who says the Volcano has brought nothing but bad news!

But there are some political questions that have come to my mind this week:

· Where is George Osborne?
· Wherever George is, can he just stay there?
· Is Nick Clegg the same as all the others – this comes after we find out there are question marks over his expenses claims, denied of course, and when he says he plans to sell the house the tax payers have paid for after the election and he was planning to refund the £90,000 expected profit back to the treasury – of course you were
· Can we stop saying the LibDems are way ahead in the polls after last week’s TV debate – they aren’t
· Is David Cameron fed up that he might not be cert for next Prime Minister?
· Is David Cameron fed up that he is not the best looking party leader any more (admittedly he didn’t have much completion from Gordon
· Do the party leaders have to keep dragging their wives out all the time – they are not up for election

For those interested in numbers - latest opinion polls (21 April 2010) show:

Conservative - 33%
Labour - 28%
LibDem - 30%

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

World Without Planes

Imagine a world without air travel - check out this article from the Guardian

In the Air Again

I see we are slowly re-opening UK air space for air travel. While on balance this is a good thing, I wonder why we are starting by allowing flights only in the North. Is it because they want to carry out some testing first – and think it a better idea to test air safety out on Northerners before deciding it is safe for Southerners to fly?

But what is the point of just opening up airports in one part of the country – without other airports open, there is no where to fly to!

It is a bit like the invention of the first telephone, it was no use until someone invented the second telephone.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Dorothys

I haven’t been watching the Dorothy’s, I didn’t watch the Marias or the Nancys either as not really my kind of thing - but I did watch the Josephs for some reason. Also I can’t stand Lloyd Webber at the best of times.

I did however see the end of one show on Sunday while I was waiting for ‘A Passionate Woman’ to start. There were two Dorothys in the sing-off, a Green Dorothy and a Red Dorothy (I don’t know their names). I think the Green one was a bit scary, and I don’t think Dorothy is meant to be scary, so it wasn’t a surprise when she was voted off.

But it did prompt a question in my mind – Is Lloyd Webber paying for all the publicity he is getting for his West End shows? It is bad enough having to see him on TV and be reminded that he is running half of Shaftsbury Avenue but I think having all the Dorothys sing a song from Evita is taking advantage!

Cherry Tree

Last year I decided to put a Cherry tree outside, I know, they are a bit obvious but I do like spring flowing plants and trees, always welcome after a long bleak winter – especially the winter we have just had. So I was looking forward to this splash of colour in the spring. I got home from a few days in Leeds at the weekend and I was not happy. My tree was in full flower - that wasn’t the problem. The issue was with the blossom – I think the flowers were a bit too big and the colour is a bit too pink.

I had expected the flowering effect to be discrete and tasteful – instead I have this rather obvious flowering monstrosity in my garden. To make matters worse – next doors trees are the colour and shade I had expected on my tree.

It will have to go - does anyone want an eight foot cherry tree?

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Hardcastle Crags

As promised I thought I would give a little update on my day in Hardcastle Crags Hebden Bridge.

I have seen a lot of reports like this in the past, written by people participating in some work event or other, and they always start ‘the day had dawned bright and early when we set off…’ Well I’m not going to start this post in that manner.

It wasn’t early and it wasn’t bright – it was 8:45 and I had been up for three hours. It wasn’t bright either with a bit of low cloud, but this didn’t bother me as I had (after much consideration – see earlier posts) decided exactly what I was wearing for the day.

We were work focused throughout the event – but this is my blog not a work diary so I will spare you the work bits.

We started off with a breakfast roll (see earlier posts – sorry that this subject has generated so many blogs but this foray into the outer reaches of Yorkshire has created a great many challenges for your very city slicker blogger and consequently a lot of blogging). After all my concern over whether we were being offered a ‘roll’ or ‘slices of bread’ it turned out the ‘breakfast roll’ was what looked to me like a ‘Barm Cake’.

This took me into a whole new world, but to find out a bit more about ‘barm cakes’ click the link. For those of you nearer to my home North East a ‘barm cake’ is what we might call a ‘stottie’. I say ‘we might call it a stottie’ some of us might – but I wouldn’t.

I had decided earlier that I wouldn’t need a breakfast roll so gave it a miss. Then it was off by coach to Hebden Bridge. Nice journey out, I never knew it was so hilly out there.

The coach driver got lost so we had to do a bit of backwards and forwards stuff trying to find our way. We tried to give the driver instructions for where we were trying to get to – I was sitting near the front of the coach so I could sort of follow the conversation but from what I could hear I thought the driver was Polish, so we were having a lot of difficulty translating from English so he could understand.

After a couple of detours we got to our destination – I didn’t mind I was quite enjoying the great scenery.

I later found out the coach driver wasn’t Polish – he was in fact from Yorkshire, but I guess as far as the language went – it was the same difference.

We had some tasks to do and a bit of walking about, I will spare you the detail, but we saw a frog at one point. This prompted a discussion about whether the creature was a frog or a toad. I felt inclined to point out that actually in species terms there is little difference between a frog and a toad, and there is a view that says it is a false distinction and that they are just variations of the same species, but it wasn’t he time or the place so I said nothing. I have blogged about this before Frogs and Toads if you want more information.

Then we went to a café in a Mill for a cake and a glass of water – nice café but I couldn’t really see any food. I found a cheese roll – I am not sure if it was a barm cake or if it was a roll. I was going to ask the lady behind the counter, but she looked quite cross as thirty of us had taken over her café so I thought better of it.

Then we went for a tour of the Mill. A lady from National Trust very kindly showed us around, but as there wasn’t anything in the Mill – it was just one empty room after another – the tour didn’t take long.

There were some old photographs – I like looking at old photographs – so that was quite interesting. As was the fact that in years gone by (not when the Mill was operating as a cotton mill of course) the Mill was a local hot spot for a night out. I was trying to imagine how you got there and back in your dancing clothes with no street lamps and only a rough track to travel over, and couldn't quite see myself doing it but still it looked like fun. And I did pick up a distinct atmospheric feel to the place – there could be a story to write about clandestine meetings and a love lost set in the old Mill. A story to write, but not by me for goodness sake.

Then the lady told us the Mill’s café was fully self-sufficient and showed us the powerhouse controlling and running all the Mill’s energy supplies.

The control room looked like something from NASA and was all very impressive, but it seemed an awful lot of bother to power two electric light bulbs and a microwave. Still the lady seemed to quite like it.

Time was moving on so next we were off up a hill to have a work discussion in a field with a camp fire.

As you might have guessed, I have never sat in front of a camp fire so I didn’t know what to expect. One of the chaps took charge and used his skill to transfer the fire from a cigarette lighter to a sheet of newspaper – then within a few minutes we had a fire. The weather had been quite pleasant up until then – but at this point it started to get a bit cold. I’m not sure if you are supposed to be able to feel any heat from an open fire - but I was standing behind some people and I couldn’t feel any heat from it at all. What I did get was a lot of wood smoke which took two showers to remove. Well if that what an open camp fire is like - you can keep it for me, a couple of electric blankets would have been a lot more effective.

Then it was back on the trail. This time we took the picturesque River route back to the coach. Nice walk but for some reason the way back was twice as long as the way going.

Then off to a Fish and Chip Restaurant in Hebden Bridge - the food looked very nice but it was a bit early in the day for a big meal for me so I enjoyed the company of two charming young ladies while they made their way through their evening meal.

We talked about a lot of things - food mainly. This was started when we were trying to find out what the 'Pie of the Day' was and it raised the question is Sheppard's Pie a pie? We didn't think it was as it didn't contain any pastry, and if it was a pie it would have to be called Sheppard's Pie pie. Which would be confusing, and ended with agreement that if you ate alphabetti spaghetti you should really ensure that each forkful contained letters that made actual words or sentences.

It was at this point I decided it might be time to go home!

Friday, 16 April 2010

Volcanoes

We seem to be having a bit of bother with volcanoes in Iceland - I suppose it is because they weren't happy when we asked them for our money back when their banks went bankrupt last year.

I can see that they might not be pleased - but i think this is a bit of an over-reaction.

GMTV have of course been right at the front when covering the story - item on the news this morning had Andrea Catherwood reporting from Heathrow airport. She was there to show us that no planes were flying from the airport. She needn't have bothered for me - she could have just said 'there are no airplanes flying from Heathrow'. I would have been able to picture the scene!

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Away Day

Well the Away Day has come and gone - comment on some of the thingds that happened to follow - bit tired at the minute and I have to watch the party leaders chatting for an hour and a half. If I am still wake at the end of that I might blog later - but what with all the fresh air and a couple of hours of politics I might fall asleep!




Wednesday, 14 April 2010

The Day Before the Day

As you will know from earlier blogs I have been looking forward to our Away Day in Hebden Bridge. I thought I might blog a few notes of the highlights and let you know how it turns out.

There have been a number of challenges to my successful participation but these have all been met and here I am ready and waiting.

We received our itinerary for the day. I had thought we were going to be bussed somewhere and then do the usual PowerPoint presentation thing, but judging from the itinerary, apparently not. We have been split into four groups and each group has a slightly different day of team challenges, walking, group time and touring some Mill or other.

As I have never been to Hardcastle Crags before none of the proposed walking routes meant anything to me. Someone in the know enlightened me. Apparently the group I was in had been given the gentlest route – which consisted, as far as I could make out, of a gentle walk along a path. Other routes were more challenging (not to mention the picturesque sounding Riverside Route!) as they involved walking up a degree of incline.

A closer look at the people in my group (and I am not sure how to put it, as I haven’t met half the people before) seemed to show a distinct bias towards a particular age group – whereas other groups seemed to predominate with people at the other end of the age scale.

Is someone trying to tell me something – I hope this is mere coincidence and we are not stereotyping and assuming some lack of general fitness and my group are incapable of climbing a small hill.

Putting this slight annoyance to one side (but I shall be watching because I have seen plenty of these ‘younger, fitter colleagues’ in the smoking room so their progress will be visible across the Dales as they are shrouded in an cloud of smoke), I am still looking forward to the day.

There was one other minor concern; there have been a couple of emails asking me for my ‘breakfast choice? I.e. egg, bacon, sausage - white or brown bread - red or brown sauce’.

Now you know me, I’m not a pedantic person, (although a degree of exactitude is required in my role as a Designer – it goes with the job) but I noticed that ‘i.e.’ was used in preference to ‘e.g.’ This is a frequent misuse.

The Latin abbreviations "i.e." and "e.g." come up very frequently in writing and would probably come up more often if people were more sure of when it is right to use "i.e." and when "e.g." is required. One way to figure it out is to know what they stand for.
i.e.
"I.e." stands simply for "that is," which written out fully in Latin is 'id est'. "I.e." is used in place of "in other words," or "it/that is." It specifies or makes more clear.
e.g.
"E.g." means "for example" and comes from the Latin expression exempli gratia, "for the sake of an example," with the noun exemplum in the genitive (possessive case) to go with gratia in the ablative (prepositional case). "E.g." is used in expressions similar to "including," when you are not intending to list everything that is being discussed.

So with this in mind my understanding from the communication was that I could only choose between egg, sausage or bacon. Furthermore I was given the choice of ‘white or brown bread’ – this was a further surprise as an earlier email had indicated the ‘breakfast’ was to be served in rolls. Did this now mean breakfast would not be served in rolls but in slices of bread?

This may seem like a minor point, but there is no mention of napkins, and I think in the ‘no napkins’ circumstances rolls would be more manageable than slices of bread. There is also a further requirement to choose between red or brown sauce, there is no option for ‘no sauce’. I never use sauce so I would seem precluded from accepting the offer off breakfast.

I wonder now if e.g. should have been used instead of i.e., this would have given me a bit more flexibility and I might have been tempted by a dried apricot or two?

But really, for those who know me, the chances of me sitting down and having a sausage sandwich in the office is as about as likely as me flying to the moon – plus I will have already had my breakfast, so I don’t see the point.

Still I eagerly await tomorrow and to show willing I have brought my camera – I will be able to record the event and add pictures to my blog – can’t wait!


3 for 2

One of the things I seem to spend a lot of time doing is reading books. Part of the enjoyment is buying the books in the first place – but not paying full price for them. So I regularly look for the ‘3 for 2’ promotions in Waterstones and such places. WH Smith has had a ‘buy one get one half price offer running almost continually for years.

I have taken advantage of this on many occasions and to my mind I always thought a ‘buy one get one half price’ was in effect he same as a ‘three for two’ offer. But it had the added plus of being easier to take advantage of, because when you have read a lot of the current books on the market, finding three books you haven’t read, haven’t already bought or actually want to read gets increasingly difficult.

So only having to find two books instead of three is just that bit easier – and as I thought the offer was the same then it was a win all round.

But I have been giving this some thought – if a book is £8 and you go for the ‘3 for 2’ then you will buy £24 worth of books but pay £16. Then £16 divided by three, gives you a cost of £5.33 per book.

On the other hand if you go for ‘buy one get one half price’ and the books cost £8 then you will pay £12 for two books which works out at £6 per book.

I have been conned by Smiths all these years and I never knew!

But I still can’t work out why the two offers are not in effect the same!

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Election Poll

So after a week of electioneering how are the parties doing. Last week if you remember the polls looked like this

Conservative - 39%
Labour - 31%
LibDems - 19%

After a week of campaigning and I am starting to feel like the party leaders are members of my family and the polls now look like this:

Conservative - 37%
Labour - 31%
LibDems - 20%

I am sure someone, somewhere thinks it is all worthwhile!

A Day Out - What to Wear?

Well after much thought I have come to the conclusion that trying to avoid a day out in Hebden Bridge is more bother than actually going – so I have decided it is better to go than not go. After all why should I miss out on a day in the Dales.

My first priority is to sort the practicalities of what to wear. I have already been advised to wear something warm, comfortable and water-proof, and to wear shoes suitable for walking over rough ground.

Well I like a challenge and will accept this brief.

I do have a pair of shoes, that are not quite boots, but they are not shoes either. I wear them when I go to the gym as the road from my house to the gym goes along the outside of the park with a heavy covering of trees. Although there is a road and a narrow pavement, the road is closed to automotive vehicles so is often covered in tree leaves and twigs. Sturdy shoes are quite useful in such an environment – which is why I bought them. Also the path leading into the gym is covered in gravel so again these stout shoes have been a worthwhile investment. That is my footwear sorted out – just need to get them in my case now.

Jeans should suffice – I have made the assumption there is no dress code in the countryside and that jeans are acceptable? As I am over 40 only jeans that are one colour and have no ‘fashion bits’ (rips, bleached bits or God forbid zips etc) as part of the design are appropriate, selecting a plain blue pair is quite straight forward.

Now the difficult bit – the weather forecast for Thursday is 15C which is quite acceptable at this time of year – however I feel that stuck up a mountain the temperature might be somewhat less than that predicted. Should I wear thick outer wear or go for lots of layers? My inclination is to go for lots of layers. These can be removed in the unlikely event it becomes too warm. One big thick top would make packing easier, but on balance I think layers make more sense.

But how many layers? I was thinking a vest\tee-shirt, a top, a cardigan and a jacket. This is beginning to sound a bit bulky – but I do have a nice Reiss cardigan that is quite thin and has a bit of a collar for extra warmth – but it might be a bit avant garde for the country, but with a jacket on top I might just get away with it.

The big problem is the jacket – I have narrowed it down to one of two possibilities (my other jackets are either just too bulky to carry from Newcastle or really just not suitable for the countryside). One of the possibilities has a hood, which leans me in its direction as it might rain, but the other is a bit warmer. I will have to make my mind up soon and I just can’t decide. But neither of these jackets is particularly water-proof, so I still have a problem. I do have another top (can’t really call it a jacket) that is water-proof and is quite thin, (so easy to carry) maybe I could take it and keep in a ‘kit bag’ in case it rains?

A colleague did offer to lend me a top of the range wind cheater, but I don’t really know what a wind cheater is, so thanks Chris it was very thoughtful of you but I think I should decline the offer.

This is all very worrying, what if I make the wrong choices, will there be somewhere in Hebden Bridge I can buy new clothes if the need arises?

Maybe I should just faint in the office on the morning in question?

I have no idea what to expect on the day – but it has disaster written all over it.

If anything of interest happens – be sure you will be able to read about it here!

Monday, 12 April 2010

Gold

Ten things you have always wanted to know about Gold

Pizza

I noticed a colleague in the office on Friday afternoon – not seen him all week I had assumed he had been on leave. Turns out he has been a bit ill. He spent Easter weekend in Belfast and had some pizza on Sunday with a side order of food poisoning. A very poorly week followed with very little in the way of food consumption. As a result my colleague has lost almost a stone in weight!

A stone in a week! Wonder if there is a slice of that pizza left?

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Billie Piper

I wasn’t going to watch A Passionate Woman (Kay Mellor) but I like Bilie Piper so I thought I would give it a go - and lets be honest, what isn’t to like about Theo James. I was drawn into it and turned out to be a great hour and a half of TV. I was trying to work out what year it was set in - the song ‘a certain smile, Johnny Mathis’ played throughout and that was released in 1958. There was also a poster for future film at the pictures for ‘Room at the Top’ which was released in 1959 (I was surprised by that as I would have said that film was so 1960s).

My only issue, if that is the right word, is that it was set in Leeds - I can’t get away from the flaming place! One scene was even set in City Square, where I ‘live’ when in Leeds!

If you didn't see it - you must catch up on BBC iPlayer - final installment next Sunday - can't wait!

Soundtrack to a Passionate Woman

A few have had a go at Fever, Madge, Michael Buble, Beyonce and even Elvis - but you can’t do better than the original from Peggy Lee

Labour Manifesto

Labour launched its Manifesto for the election today and received comment from across the parties. What did I think about the views expressed by the Party leaders? Nick Clegg (henceforcth to be known as Cleggy) was wearing a horrible shirt.

The most interesting part was that it was left to Ed Miliband (Labour, Doncaster North) to do the explaining at the launch.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Thursday, 8 April 2010

A Day Out

Some exciting news in the Leeds office this week, we are having an ‘Away Day’.

For those of you working in offices and similar environments, you will be familiar with the concept. You go en-masse to a local hotel and sit through a few PowerPoint presentations and if you are unlucky get to participate in some games to get to know the person you have been sitting to for the last year a bit better.

We had one a few months ago at the City Inn – it was very nice and I got to walk over a wooden bridge over a canal.

I assumed this next ‘Away Day’ would be something similar …
… how wrong can you be

I got the invite – the Away Day will be held at Hardcastle Crags near Hebden Bridge.
That was my reaction too – where is Hebden Bridge?
It got worse, we were advised we will be taken by coach from Leeds to Hardcastle Crags and get this, as the day will involve walking to bring ‘warm, comfortable and water proof clothing’ and ‘most importantly comfortable footwear suitable for walking over rough ground’.

Now you know me, I am always up for trying something new, but this suggestion has nightmare written all over it. There are a number of questions that need to be addressed:
  • When they say ‘coach’ do they mean a large automotive public vehicle where there will be lots of people I don’t know sitting around me?;
  • They suggest ‘warm, comfortable water-proof clothing’ this is not very specific. I don’t think I own anything that is warm, comfortable and water-proof’. I can’t think of what such an item might be. At first I thought they might mean a blanket. A blanket is warm and comfortable, but alas not water-proof. Maybe they mean you have to have a separate item for each adjective? Do I have to find one item that is warm, another that is water-proof and a third item that is comfortable? I am really struggling now – I don’t think I have any clothes that are comfortable – what are ‘comfortable clothes’. I do have a Versace jacket that is quite comfortable – but I don’t think it is really suitable for Hebden Bridge on a Thursday. Maybe I should just buy some new clothes? I don’t think I have anything ‘water-proof’. It is times like this I wish I knew Sir Ranulph Fiennes, I am sure he would have something I could borrow;
  • ‘Comfortable footwear suitable for walking over rough ground’. This just gets worse – what is this? I do have some handmade Italian Brogues that are quite comfortable – but I am not sure they are suitable for wearing while walking over ‘rough ground’. And what is ‘rough ground’? Is it a pavement without a kerb, or something a bit more rural? For example do they mean ‘grass’? If it is grass then I don’t think my handmade Italian shoes are up to it, anyway they are black, so they can’t be worn in the countryside. Maybe I need to buy new shoes as well. This is starting to sound complicated and expensive.
  • We are advised to bring ‘snacks to eat while on the move’ I don’t think so. When outdoors if you need to eat you go to a restaurant (or if you absolutely must, to a cafe). You do not carry around bags of Walkers cheese and onion on the off chance you might die of starvation because it is 30 minutes since you last had a meal.
  • We were reassured that at the end of the day ‘a hearty meal’ will be awaiting us. What is not clear is where this ‘hearty meal will be available. I don’t know Hebden Bridge very well, but I can’t remember seeing many restaurants able to cater for 100 people at five minutes notice. I have a horrible feeling that the only place able to host a ‘hearty meal’ (not sure I know what a ‘hearty meal is. It sounds like it might contain dumplings?) is the ‘Laughing Donkey Bar Room and Grill on the High Street.
  • We then move onto a ‘local wine bar for drinks’ Again I think not, if you think I am going to spend the end of my day standing in some rotten bar full of farmers in Wellington boots and dungarees – it is not happening. I don’t care if they let us use the Snug.
  • And finally, apparently it is not practical to provide transport back to Leeds. So having dragged the office out to the middle of Yorkshire, they are going to leave us in the middle of nowhere and make you find your own way back

This all sounds very tempting, but I do have a long held view of the countryside – it is cold and it is wet - so on balance I think its not really me so thanks for inviting me but you can include me out.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Can't be built mushrooms

Apparently we are getting some 'cant' be built mushrooms' in the Leeds office.

They might come in handy the next time I get a ham and mushroom omelette at the Queens - like the one I had the other week, an omelette with no mushrooms or ham in it!

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

You have said that before

And they are off - here we go four weeks of misery while we listen to one politician after another tell us how clever and wonderful they are - if we would only just give them our vote, then everything will be alright.

I am sure I will be coming back back to this subject many times over the coming month but for now I think it might be interesting to identify things they said at the last election and are already saying at this one. They were not true last time and they still aren't .... but they keep saying them anyway!
  • 'this isn't a two horse race' (Lib Dems) (it is a two horse race);
  • 'this is the most important election for a generation' (Cameron) (well I suppose it is for him);
  • 'this will be the closest election since the 70s' (political pundit) no it won't but if the Tories can't win in these circumstances they might as well give up and go home;
  • 'minor parties will hold the balance of power' (Plaid Cymru) (not very democratic if you only have two MPs and you get a major say)
If you are interested in the state of the opinion polls - check out the Poll Tracker

Monday, 5 April 2010

Election 2010

So at last we are going to have a general election. After months of 'will he won he', Gordon Brown has finally decided to hold a general election. To be held on the worst kept secret in politics - on 6 May 2010.

I won't be declaring support for any party but I will be keeping a close watch on events and using this blog to record any instances of interest from any of the parties. Things like, outrageous claims, falsehoods, misleading statements, and all round examples of skulduggery. Anything in fact that any of the parties do to try and get elected.

Although why Gordon, David or Nick would want the worst job in the country beats me. Good luck all round and may the worst party lose - after all it is the government of the country at stake!

Tandankles

I was chatting to a colleague and she was telling me she was off to Spain for the Easter holidays - very nice! So she had the false tan out to give a bit of colour before heading tot he beach. She didn't think it had been too successful and looked a bit patchy. But I thought it looked fine. She said she would be having another go as she needed tandankles to wear her shoes.

I am not sure what tandankles are but I am sure if she goes into Alicante she will be able to get some.

If you are having trouble getting an even look with your false tan try moisturising the awkward (knees and ankles) bits with your normal body lotion first. This should help get a smoother look.

If you don't have a normal body lotion (your kidding right?) then give Garnier bodycocoon a go. A lot of body lotions take and age to dry but this light and dries very quickly. And to keep it in the family if you are looking for a body lotion with just a hint of colour to it, have a look at Garnier summerbody which promises a gradual build to a sun-kissed look. But don't be fooled, its not so gradual!

For lots of tips on applying self-tans.

Flying the coop

I have to say a fond farewell to a colleague from Leeds office that has left to find fun and adventure elsewhere. Good luck in your new job keep reading and spread the word!

Already though lead chicken in chicken hut number 44 is planning on what to do with the space vacated by our friend. We were discussing, and have decided we need remaining chickens to spread out a bit, otherwise management will try and move in another three chickens to fill in the space left by Sally. Thought maybe we could put a table cloth over her desk, make it look like a dining area, have to think of something otherwise it will be even more crowded than it is now.

Friday, 2 April 2010

Employer's NI Contributions

I see a group of the UKs top business leaders have come out against the proposed rise in employer’s National Insurance contributions as they say it is a tax on jobs.

There have been lengthy and detailed discussion in the media and on TV over the last 18 months to 2 years and all agree that we need to do something about the hundred and sixty seven thousand million pounds we will borrow this year. (Please note that is not the full extent of our debt, just how much we will owe this year. We plan on owing just as much again next year!)

But every time someone identifies a way to raise money or cut costs – there is uproar in the press with a huge round of ‘oh you can’t do that!’. It seems that everything is a special case and is reason to exempt it from cuts or rises.

This time there is outrage about increasing tax on those in work, don’t get me wrong no one likes to pay more tax, but who else are you going to tax other than the people in work? It’s no use taxing people with no money – they haven’t got anything!

And don’t give me the ‘tax the rich that don’t work – they can afford it’. This would be pointless as they have found a way to accumulate wealth without paying tax that is how they got rich. So putting another tax on their wealth is just a waste of time as they will just find another way to avoid the tax.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Easter Holiday

To save you a bit of time looking up the information in the internet or watching reports on the TV the travel\weather report for the Easter weekend is given below:

  • It will be cold
  • It will rain
  • There will be lots of cars on the road
  • There will be even more cars on the road on Thursday for ‘early getaway’ holiday makers
  • The trains out of London will be busy
  • The trains out of London will be delayed due to works on the tracks
  • The motorways will be busy on Thursday
  • The motorways will be busy on Friday
  • The motorways will be busy on Monday
  • The Lake District is in the middle of nowhere – the roads to the Lake District will be busy
  • It will rain all day long in the Lake District – that is why it is full of Lakes

How do I know all this? Well I know it because it is the same every Bank Holiday – so why do news programmes continue to give us this information – it is not News.

I hope this weather\travel service has been helpful and saved you sometime.

ISA

There was a brief item on GMTV this morning about ISAs. John Stapleton was interviewing someone or other from some banking organisation. Stapleton was getting quite cross (remember GMTV have had a ‘revamp’ and their presenters have to be more like proper journalists and been told to try and get information out of their guests) and shouted quite a lot at his interviewee. The poor man couldn’t get a word in – which kind of defeated the objective as I wanted to hear what he had to say.

The issue under contention was the statement that after the first year in an ISA account, the interest rate can drop dramatically. So the serious point is that if you have an ISA at a decent rate (and getting any sort of interest rate these days is pretty difficult) then don’t assume you will be getting the same rate in subsequent years.

Check your rates and move your money if necessary.