Archive for December, 2006

Merry Christmas!

Wotcha. Dr. Who is on, and I’m no watching it on principle. I dunno if I’m even going to get back to it when the new series comes out but I can’t help but feel that any form of direct or indirect interraction with things involving Catherine Tate, short of shooting the cretinious troll, is only going to encourage her.

One day I sincerely hope that people will discover that catchprases do not, of themselves, create teh funny. Back in the days of radio, the logic behind a catchphrase was something like “It’s the radio, we’ve got a cast of six, and we need to know if Kenneth Williams is playing Julian or J. Peasmould Gruntfuttock in this sketch, so let’s have him say ‘The voices, the voices they told me “Go Forth, Gruntfuttock,” etc’ nice an’ early on.”

And then we got the telly, and bigger casts and, what’s more, could use costume to help show if you was being a bent shopkeeper or a silly old codger and so you didn’t really need catchprases anymore. Certainly you didn’t need ’em shoehorned into the space where the punchline was supposed to go…

Still, that’s how come I’m wafting round the Internet.

I travel North on the 29th (sounds very Period Novel, dunnit), (“…on business, and I fear I shall not return to the overseeing of my estates in Shropshire for some time…” etc.) so I’m hoping to cath up with Newport people on the 27th, which I think is a Wednesday.

In other news, today’s xkcd is very sweet.

Have a Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year, and similarsuch festive humbuggery,

with best wishes from JTA.

Well, I’m back.

Had a reasonable trip back up to Shropshire on Friday – National Express to Digbeth, and then a train down to Telford for a total of £16 quid, which is actually something like a tenner’s saving compared to doing the same trip entirely by train, even with a railcard. Will have to bear that in mind.

Long delays at Oxford, whilst we waited for a lost bus driver to retrieve himself and get to the bus stop. Huge coldness, because Britain being where it is in relation to the Gulf Stream an’ all, we don’t take people standing about for a bus too seriously, and so we all had to wait in the freezing cold. Finland or Canada, or somwhere, they’d’ve given us a nice proper heated station, but all Oxford gets is those little red seats that flap down when you stand up from ’em, and precious little of those anyway.

Still, we did alright. Train from Birmingham to Wolverhampton, after much delays becase the fog was playing Hob with the network anyway, and they’d had a power outage at Congleton, which is somewhere round there. Wolvo was its usual self, and I was just hanging about for something to Telford when they said they were laying on a replacement bus for people after the Aberystwyth service (I am so surprised…) so I hopped onto that and got picked up by my mother and sister at Telford, where a woman promptly ran into the back of the car at about 30 mph whilst we were at a roundabout.

I reckon it was thirty based on a) the heowge dent in the boot – caught us above the bumper, which seems to have saved the chassis – the angle she came at (not that of someone slowing down and following the curve in the road in the understanding there’s a whacking great roundabout six yards ahead) and the fact she got out of her car and said she was very sorry, she hadn’t been paying any attention and she was thinking about Christmas shopping.

So then it was off to the hospital to be inspected for the various forms of whiplash we’d landed ourselves, though we’re all OK in the main, just in varying degrees of pain and stiffness; my sister got it worst, because there’s not back seat headrests, and I got jerked about because the headrest that was in the front was adjusted for her head, not mine. Surprisingly tiring, and I’d never before realised how often you need to lift your arm above your shoulder until all the right side of me torso seized up.

Ah well. Could’ve been worse. Hospital kept asking me if I had a seatbelt on, though, which was a little random… But never mind. House is freezing, as usual, and my fingers are cold because I can’t type with gloves on, and I’ve lost the fingerless mittens I used to do my homework in, since moving out and living in places with more than part central heating and a twenty-year-old boiler.

Hey ho. Merry Xmas eve, and all that, and I shall make some vague post tomorrow when I’m opening my present on LoTGD…


…Can I just shamelessly whore Candi, a fantastic little webcomic I’ve found courtesy of one of The Ferrett‘s recent posts.

‘s got a nice big archive, mind, I’m only about half-way through. Reckon Dan would like it, at least, it’s got some gorgeous dark strips, tucked away in there.

Rehearsals going on pretty much nightly, at the moment, which is getting tiring. Still, I’m only working ’till tomorrow and then I go back to Newport. This will be good. I’ve a vague feeling I posted last time about how I’m never outside in daylight, these days, because of the nights being so short…

…Two days ago it occured to me there might be a link between that and the fact I’ve been feeling fairly flat and crummy the last couple of weeks. It could just be that I’m really tired all the time, of course, but it has occured to me to wonder if I’m getting (mild) SAD… My mother get’s it, I know, and I’ve never been especially mopey in winter before [if you discout the three years when I was depressed all the time, which is probably a bit naff as a reading], but, then, I’ve never had this cycle of work when I’m in daylight for ten minutes at lunchtime and not at any other point…

Ah well. Feeling very cheery at the moment, on account of aforementioned. Go read it; don’t make me use the phrase “to whore Candi” again; I’ll start getting comments from disgruntled Googlers in search of punternet. [Aye, I’d link, but there are some things what work might wonder about if they turned up in me browser history…]

Have fun!

What’s this? An update? Surely not!

Nope, this is actually an update. Really. Sorry I’ve been so lax about this, but the last couple of weeks have been a bit full and exhausting, and, whilst this is still the case, the lack of doing a post is really starting to annoy me.

Work, of course, continues to eat vast swathes of my time, like an ever-expanding music-free blob. I’ve been there ten weeks, and I still have a whole load of trouble getting any work done without music somewhere in the background. This sounds like a great big whinge about a totalitarian office policy, but it isn’t; I can see that having a load of people with headphones on, unable to hear one another and headbanging away to heavy metal, or sitting there moping along to Elbow wouldn’t be conducive to the appearance of productivity. It’s just that after four years when I’ve only worked either when listening to music, or to lectures or simply talking to the people around me, I’m finding it really hard to adjust to working in silence. And that’s me as a Quaker talking here; I can sit in silence on me own or with other people for ages and ages and I don’t really get desperate urges to fill in the gaps just so there isn’t so much quiet (which is one of the reasons why, back in the days when I nominally had counseling sessions, Hillary’s tactic of sitting there in attentive silence did remarkably little in the way of making me feel obliged to say stuff).

But for three or four hours at a stretch? Whilst having to do actual work requiring concentration? that’s really hard.

Still, given that, after ten weeks, that’s the only real complaint I’ve got, except for the perfectly justifiable ban on hot drinks like tea or coffee in the office where they might get spilt on books, or something, I reckon I’m doing fairly well.

I’m still finding the commute thing a bit tiring, but I’m getting back into the swing of it, and it’s not as bad as it was, say, in mid-October. At the moment my chief gripe is that I never really see the sun; we leave the house at 0710h, and go to the bus stop in the pitch dark – dawn usually happens about ten minutes into the bus journey – and then we return at something like 1845h, when it’s been dark for close on three hours, and that’s only if I haven’t got off to a rehearsal of broadly indeterminate length. I’m looking forward to Christmas, if only because I might be able to catch up on a bit of sleep, at some point.

Still, life is good in those spare minutes when I have time to notice it; I’ve discovered, for example, that 1982 port can be really nice (and the fact I never really have any spare time ought to help limit the rapid emptying of the bottles that would otherwise ensue) and Ruth & I now own DS Lites, after some horrible budget-crunching, which at least gives me something to do on the bus besides listening to the iriver.

And, just to show that this post isn’t all about saying how tired I am, but to prove that I can still find time to appear eclectic, here’s a list of the stuff we bought at Waitrose this afternoon:

  • 1 x semi-skimmed milk (2 pints)
  • 1 x 250 g tub of Lurpak “lighter” brand margerine
  • 1 x bag of McCain Spicy Oven Cook Potato Wedges
  • 6 x 70 cl bottles of Domaine Fouassier Sancerre (33% off offer)
  • 1 x Waitrose brand ready meal Vegetable Curry
  • 1 x 500 ml bottle Listerine Mouthwash (Coolmint flavour)
  • 2 x Waitrose packs of cinnamon and raisin bagels (5 per pack)
  • 2 x 500 ml cartons of orange juice (with bits)
  • 1 x Waitrose brand ready meal lamb bhuna (with tiny nan bread and metal dish)
  • 3 x boxes Kleenex tissues (ultra soft)
  • 1 x 70 cl bottle Stones Green Ginger Wine (estd. 1740)

The girl on the checkout looked so confused. Like I can help it if we’re both inclined towards not cooking and stocking up on several weekend’s worth of mid-posh alcohol…

Have fun!

The Real Ale Ramble Update

Wotcha. Yes, I know, I’m a whole week late with a post about the Ramble. This is because this is the first free moment (read “hour between my bus getting into Oxford and being allowed to sign in and start working for Saturday Duty [it’s complicated and to do with timesheets]”) I’ve had in which to post.

Consequently, if you want a post about the actual walking and stuff what we did, your best bet is to pull a ‘See Also’ on Dan’s post about it. In passing, however, I will say it rocked. It was thoroughly tiring, and I was dosed up to the eyeballs on my magic pink (and don’t-work-like-they-used-to) ibruprofen for the bulk of it, as well as scorching hot thanks to careful preparation for November weather when what we got was slightly weedy September heat, but it was very fun.

Photos of the event, or, at least, such photos as could be contrived with Statto’s more-or-less digital camera (the old one; he was inexplicably reluctant to let me take his D70 thing over a bunch of muddy mountains in the rain) may be found in the appropriategallery on Abnib – they get better once I master the art of turning the thing on, giving it a second to auto-focus, snapping the shutter and then turning it off again before the battery warning light could come on. There’s a cracking one of a mushroom we found, and lots of good ones of Ardwyn House, a gorgeous B&B we put up in, on the grounds that “If you think I’m spending a weekend walking, in Wales, in November, and then sleeping in a freezing cold tent, with my knees, then you’re in for one Hell of a shock…” — JTA, September, 2006.

Being tardy with updates has its drawbacks; Dan’s already reviewed the Ramble. Ruth has done a rather sweet post about the fact we’ve now been together three years, so I’m left to do a post about the aforementioned Ardwyn House, photos of which exist both on their website, and, as I probably said prior to some tangent or other, from this bit of the Abnib gallery and then on a few pages.

My experience of Holiday accommodation varies wildly: I’ve done chalets in the Lake District, trailer tents near Caernarfon, a YHA in Boggle Hole, a week, two years running in a caravan in Prestatyn (which gets really dull after the first couple of days), some Penbryn-like accommodation block at Sibford four years back and the Shakespare in Stratford. Ardwyn House comes just below the Shakespeare in that ranking, and I’m not entirely sure it didn’t ought to go higher up, because it really is gorgeous…

And, which is more, in the context of a B&B, the guys who run it seem to be really friendly and cheerful. I’d be friendly too, if I lived in a house like that, but I dunno if I could manage the cheerful if I had to get up and make tasty full breakfasts and tea, coffee and toast for random people who plan to wander off and come back covered in mud each day they’re staying. During the game of Illuminati we played on the Sunday we got a bottle of Moet, on account of the anniversary thing (I’m no a fan of displays of affection on the internet, jpegs not withstanding, because it involves talking about feelings, [something to which, as a man, I am inherently ill-disposed] but it was good…) and the chap was a great help, and very friendly indeed, and brought us a little table, since Illuminati does eat surface space with the power trees, and so on, and didn’t seem to mind at all about sitting in the room across the hall from the library, and listening to presumably nonsensical shouts of things like “Right, so the Bavarian Illuminati, with the help of the Phone Preaks, are attacking to control the Health Food Stores…”

The decoration is excellent – I’ll admit that I prefer Art Deco, but they’re only twenty years out, and the house can hardly help being pre-Great War; it’s all really well done. Hot baths, which we had in abundance, thanks to the walking, were excellent – I’d not realised, until I got back, that the baths in Hafan and at Caro and Jerry’s are hip-baths; nor had I twigged how much I’d missed proper deep baths where you can get both your torso and legs underwater at the same time, without any absurd juggling backwards and forwards to try and keep both ends warm for more than ten minutes.

Antique bed, too. Restored very well, but it all seemed to be period furniture, which gets bonus points. I really liked it. It was more expensive than Dan & Claire’s tent, but I suspect we got a better absurd-luxury-to-pound ratio going than they did, and I’m not a fan of roughing it when it can possibly be avoided – “enjoy the luxuries whilst you can, and worry about penury when it happens,” ‘s my motto…

I’m not great at this reviewing accommodation lark, really, but it was fantastic, and it was rather a shame to leave and return to the not-so-comfy bed in Wallingford, which doesn’t have a mattress so much as something resembling a futon cover (which, as we all know, in’ the world’s most comfy form of padding…)

So, yeah, do check out the piccies, and if you’re feeling comparatively flush when in Llanwrtyd (as so often happens, I’m sure…) get in with ’em; they’ll see you right.

O, and the Spar there sells Black Mountain. Rock!

Gotta go now; they want me on book replacing in the Camera.

Have fun!