Friday, 31 October 2008

This is no ordinary kettle.....

My house is incomprehensibly damp. Damp to the extent that the kettle plug welded itself into the plug hole the other week and then caught fire. All good, clean fun that resulted in me boiling water in a saucepan for my endless supply of caffeine.

Yesterday, I finally managed to remember to buy a kettle. I was in a rush and didn't study it carefully. It was shiny and I assumed it was competent at boiling water. I needed to know nothing else about it. I'm shallow like that when it comes to kettles.

It was only when I got said appliance home through the icy roads last night that I realised what it was I had bought. This was no ordinary kettle, oh no. This is a STEALTH BOILING kettle. What the hell? My kettle will boil itself in a stealthy way? Now I'm afraid, very afraid. Will I come into the kitchen and find the kettle sneakily boiling away when I hadn't asked it to? Will it boil so stealthily that the water will still appear cold when in fact, it isn't?

When did somebody decide that kettles were too upfront and pushy about the way they boiled stuff? Why was a need for 'stealth boiling' even considered, let alone marketed?

Now, I must go over to the house and peer through the window to see if I can catch it in the act. Making a cup of tea is never going to be the same again.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Snow in the Hills

This is what the world outside my office looks like right NOW:

Think I had better go and find my bobble hat and snow shovel......

Saving the world, again.

Mr Farty has tagged me. I thought he was miles away but then there was a tap on my shoulder, he was there, and I was IT. Now I need to tell you seven random things about me or the world may end. It's that serious.

1 - I can't wear red lipstick or red nail varnish. I really can't. Red nail varnish scares the beejezus out of me when I see it because I think I must have caught my fingers in a mincer without noticing, and red lipstick just makes my mouth far too THERE. This means I have had to give up a promising career as a vamp.

2 - I wanted to be a National Geographic photographer when I was about 11. Then I wanted to be Lois Lane for a bit too.

3 - I can't bear the sound of people clipping their toe nails. Euurgh. Just thinking about it makes me squirm.

4 - I sleep talk in Welsh, though I can't speak it when I'm awake.

5 - If a book is REALLY, REALLY bad, then I burn it when I finish it so that nobody else ever has to read it again. I know, burning books, it's a crime, but so are really really terrible books. I'm just doing my duty.

6 - I have a mole shaped like Gloucetershire on my shoulder blade

7 - I once won a holiday to Peru and Bolivia......

So there you have it, the world is saved for another few hours. The responsibility for it now rests with Home Office Mum, Bevchen, Belgian Waffle & Katyboo1. I know you can do it. Now, hurry Flash - we only have 14 hours to save the earth........

Monday, 27 October 2008

Washing Triage.

Aaaargh. Today is, in a Mrs Tiggywinkle-esque way, wash day. I have been running around like a headless chicken for the last week and the weather has been ludicrous so the wash pile has been building to teetering levels that require the services of a structural engineer to keep it from toppling over.

This morning I woke early, thanks to the clocks going back, and leapt out of bed like a spring gazelle. The bed was stripped within minutes and remade up with crisp white sheets and it was off to the wash mountain for me.

The first wash went well. Three thousand odd socks and anything else I could find that was dark went in the machine. Having extracted the Loyal Hound, the wash went through and was hung out to dry.

Second wash goes in. Extracted it half an hour later to discover that the welsh mud is harder to shift than I imagined and the jeans that I slid down the mountain in yesterday still bear a great deal of mountain on them. Damn.

Stuff it. Hang the lot out to try on the second line because the skies are blue and there is a chilly breeze. Two minutes later it starts raining, hard. Bugger.

Finally, time for the white wash. In it goes and I think fondly of white sheets snapping merrily in the breeze. Ten minutes ago I went in to see if the wash cycle was finished. It isn't. But what do I see, waving merrily at me through the glass window? Aaargh. Something that isn't supposed to be there - something ominously black and a hint of something pink. Please, no. Don't let me have swept up the dregs of the previous wash and put them in with my lovely Egyptian cotton sheets. Oh god.

I wrestled with the urge to 'break glass in emergency' and rescue my sheets. It's too late for them. This is washing triage - save what you can and leave the rest on the battlefield.

Friday, 24 October 2008

Cold hands? Nothing for you then.

I heard an article on the radio today. Apparently, scientists have done a study on whether people holding a warm drink are more generous than people holding a cold drink. Seriously? The world is coming to a boil, there is a some form or economic armageddon taking place, disease is stalking the land (well, lots of people have flu), the sun rarely shines and THIS is what they choose to study? I give up.

It turns out, that if you are holding a warm drink you are more likely to think nicely of other people and to give them lovely presents. If you are holding a cup of ice you will hate everybody and hoard all the presents to yourself.

This seems like one of the more pointless studies ever carried out. How will it change the world? Are they suggesting that if we could only give Mugabe a nice warm cup of cocoa he would start feeding his starving population and hugging Bono? Does the russian army just need a cup of soup in order to start loving the Georgians? Would Nescafe have given Pol Pot a pause for thought and the urge to become best friends with Mother Theresa?

Now, I like a cup of coffee as much as the next person. I'm not saying it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy towards my neighbours, but the caffeine rush does make me feel slightly less deranged and on the verge of mass hysteria / murder. If I was instead given a cup of ice, I would probably think nasty thoughts towards the donor and reconsider our friendship. I don't have a science degree and a research budget of many thousands of pounds and I know this already.

I see no hope for the future of mankind if this is what the great brains are spending their time doing. Oh, hold on - I just made a cup of coffee. Perhaps they are right. I shall send them a large present and think nice things about them (until the mug goes cold that is).

Thursday, 23 October 2008

I think I was deprived as a child....

Yesterday afternoon, I was invited to a party. I was excited, intrigued and not a little fearful. It was a 5 year old's birthday party.

Now children's birthday parties are something beyond my ken. I get asked to godchildren's birthdays but since they all seem to live 100's of miles away there is never actually an obligation to go. Consequently I have avoided this particular delight.

I have memories of childrens parties that I went to in my long lost youth. These involved exciting things like pass the parcel, musical chairs, traffic light jellies in paper cases, and my best dress and shiniest shoes. (look, they were exciting for me ok!) Ah, happy days. There are times when I am looking through recipe books and I see a cake shaped like a carousel, or Nigella's improbably glamourous looking gingerbread men and I say 'sigh, no reason for me to cook these things'. Actually, I realise that there is no reason for anybody to cook such confections - well not unless they wanted theur house and the entire neighbourhood to be destroyed by a pack of wild children on a sugar high.

The party in question took place after school, so no party dresses for a start - just school uniforms. In addition the sensible parents had realised that twenty 5 year olds eating carousel cake would ultimately require the UN and possibly the red cross. I had arrived stylishly late and found the worlds biggest carpet picnic taking place. Plastic sheets were spread on the floor and the mini destroyers were working their way through sausages and buns, carrot and cucumber, slices of melon, boxes of raisins, and then malt loaf and swiss roll. It was all alarmingly civilized. I'm pretty sure I heard two of the boys discussing the American election.

The parents were calmly distributing drinks and other such delights, whilst another mother took crocodiles of small children backwards and forwards to the loo. This is not what i remember? Ok - we never sat on the floor, but there was definitely nothing nutritious at the parties of my youth. If it wasn't made of sugar, jelly or chocolate it didn't turn up. Or I don't think it did. Have I made up my childhood memories? Is this how it really went? A civilised carpet picnic?

I looked around the room. A few wary parents were scattered amongst the children, grasping strong coffee and praying that their child would not be the Taliban at this particular event. They looked faintly astounded that a non parent / relative would voluntarily come to the party and one harassed mother confessed that her normal party policy was the slightly revolting sounding 'dump and run'. I wondered if I had made a horrible mistake and should have developed a virulent contagion that would have prevented me from coming? Was I mad to have come?

Whilst I pondered my own sanity, tea was decreed to be over. The plastic sheets were swept up with all the detritus of tea on them, and put into black bin bags. A cake strewn with candles appeared, was blown out, and everyone sang happy birthday in welsh, and in tune. Then the entertainment kicked in and I realised that I had been robbed as a child. I was deprived. I should have therapy and possibly a cash refund. I may have had cake and jelly, but I never had this.

Into the large Sitting Room came a swarthy and grizzled welshman. His cords were worn, his checked shirt clean but faded and his green huski waistcoat was newly darned and pressed. On his wrist he carried a SNOWY OWL!!!!!

Mesmerised children magnetised around him like iron filings in a science experiment, moving in a wave wherever he went. (Well, all apart from the one boy who felt that snakes that ate girls would have been a far better entertainment). The children were allowed to stroke the feathers and they gasped with excitement when the head swivelled around to fix them with a beady amber glare. This was just the beginning.

5 minutes later, Caspar, the barn owl came to join them. The birthday boy was given a gauntlet and a small chunk of dead mammal. He held out his arm and called out to the bird, which glided across the room and landed on upheld arm. There was the most perfect expression of joy and fear on his face. On the other side of the room his father had a similar set up and the owl flew, silent as only an owl can be, over the awed childrens heads back and forth between father and son. I have to say that I think there is a possiblity that the father enjoyed it more. There was a look on his face of a man fulfilling a childhood dream....

I didn't stay much longer. Not being 5 I couldn't go and stroke the owl and demand the gauntlet and I didn't want to see an unexpected sugar rush hit and the party descend into a madness of feathers, cake and sobbing 5 year olds.

It didn't make me long to have children - the whole thing had been organised with military precision and looked like hard work. But it did make me want to be 5 years old again - just for a few minutes.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Lactose Intolerant Fiends ruining my day.

I am a moonlighter. I can't hide it anymore. I must confess.

In the dark winter months, I have a second job cooking. At the moment I am in the middle of trying to do a menu plan for 2 four course dinners, two cooked breakfasts and lunch. This shouldn't be too problematic. I had the whole thing done in fact. Then I got a phone call. Two of the guests are lactose intolerant.

Damn them. The whole menu has had to be lobbed into the bin and I am now tearing my hair out as every recipe I look at has oodles of cow juice slathered all over it, or cunningly hidden in it. I'm doomed. They'll all have to eat salad, followed by salad, then fruit salad.

Once I have the wretched menu done, and approved, I then have to face the shopping. This isn't something that gives me joy on the best of days, but shopping for the cooking jobs is definitely bottom of my nice things to do list. One of the downsides of life on a mountain in the middle of nowhere is that there is absolutely no emergency shopping option. If I forget something, I won't be able to dash out and pick it up in the non existent 24 hour supermarket. The local Spa's idea of haute cuisine is cooked in a plastic tray in the microwave.

So, once I have done the menu I will have to tackle the shopping list and then spend half a day travelling into good old England to try and find everything. My experience of this? There is never enough Thyme.....

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Bribery & corruption in the awards business

So, to those of you who didn't fall asleep reading yesterdays blog, you may have noticed that I got an award. My first ever. Hurrah. Now, even better I get to give an award myself, which is pretty darn fabulous. So, who to give it to?

I am obviously open to bribery, chocolate, shoes and naturally cash are all welcome. However, your bribes will be useless because my decision is made and the judges decision is final (unless I decide otherwise of course).

So, I would like to give this award to: (drum roll please) - that's Mr Farty to those who know and love him - though sorry that I can't do the link properly. I'm a technical muppet.

and cos anyone who has a vampire smurf should have an award!

Monday, 20 October 2008

Wrung out and Spat up.

I'm back, I think. I'm not really sure. I may be still stuck on an endless plane journey over the Iraqi desert, or lost in Istanbul airport. In just one week, I feel as if I have spent years of my life drifting around the skies and airports like a befuddled sheep. I've been squeezed into tiny plane seats next to men who snore, men who smell and one man who snorted in a horribly snotty way every 5 minutes. The joys of bargain basement plane tickets have been drummed into me in a particularly painful way.

Holidays are generally a good thing and not to be taken lightly. The problem is that the journey back leaches all sense of relaxed restfulness out of you and spits you back up on the shores of Blighty a wrung out limp version of yourself that is more exhausted than the one who left for a rest in the first place.

My return home was greeted by driving rain and howling gales, not quite the same as desert heat, but oddly welcome for its familiarity.

Work is less welcome. I know it has to be done, it doesn't mean I actually want to do it. Having picked up the endless messages and e mails I just wanted to go and hide under my duvet and pretend I hadn't got back. No such luck.

There is good news though. I have an award!!! Hurrah. This was given to me by Bevchen at (darn, can't make the link thing work) and I nearly fell off my chair with excitement when I saw it. Thank you, thank you, thank you Bevchen!!! For those of you who have not seen her blog the address is above, or there is a link on the left hand side of the page! But back to me - How lovely to get an award, and such a lovely one too... Darn have just spent ten minutes trying to put the award on my site and it has gone all shy and retiring and won't turn up... Now you'll think I'm faking it. Grrrr - technology sucks.

Anyway, back to my award winning self; I have now had a red carpet installed in my office and shall spend the evening wearing all my most glamorous wellingtons and long dresses posing for the press and weeping prettily whilst I thank my primary school teacher, the farmer down the road and the Loyal Hound.

Must go, I have to rehearse my speech and check my waterproof mascara.

Ohhh - wait a minute - think I have worked out how to do this thing - here goes....


Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Clean your sunglasses Madam?

It's hot. Desert hot. Cooking Hot. Step outside and get concussed by the wall of heat hot. Are you getting the general idea?

I would have blogged sooner but all the keyboards I got to had melted in the excessive, exhaustive and overwhelming heat. Naturally, everyone who actually lives here (Qatar), is commenting on the delightful coolness of the autumn weather. They wear jeans and shiver theatrically. They are obviously afflicted by sunstroke and don't know what they are doing.

I can't stay for long. I am going into the desert this afternoon for a
'desert adventure'. I imagine that this is to see if it is possible to get any hotter. I shall fall off sand dunes and lie in a dehydrated heap at the bottom of them. I shall watch water evaporate out of the bottle as I tip it towards my gasping throat. It's all good, clean, overheated fun at 110 degrees in the shade, if there was any shade that is.

The cool misting rains of Wales seem an impossibility from here. The sound of the stream tumbling over the rocks and around the rushes, the strange shifting veil of cloud that drops over the hillside to cloak me in a miasma of water. Water, water, everywhere. It's inconceivable.

Now, in my role as travel journalists I shall tell you that unless you have a friend out here that you want to see, this is not a country to come rushing to see. Not just because of the dubious sound of the name, but also because it is deranged.

It's brand new. Seriously new. An antique here is younger than me. It is a country without boundaries of cash or conventions. Everyone wants a waterfront property but there is a limited amount of waterfront in the city. The answer? Build islands - really. Entire new landmasses are being created to thwart the mapmakers and please the rich and bored. Endless hectares of new waterfront are built all the time. They even build seperate, temporary islands for the workmen who are building the islands. Then they remove these to make more waterfront. I kid you not.

There seems to be competition going as to who can build the tallest skyscraper, the shiniest skyscraper, the wierdest shaped skyscraper etc etc. There is one based on a tornado. One that looks like it came from a pin ball machine and one that looks as though the builder read the plans upside down. Most of them aren't actually lived in.

There is the Villagio, a shopping mall based on venice, with gondolas, Gilded ceilings, and every shop you have ever seen in London from Prada to Boots, but none that might remotely be considered remotely Arabic in origin. The place is deranged.

Deranged or not, there are some perks. This morning we went to the Four Seasons Hotel to loll around their multiple swimming pools (six of them at the last count, some with waterfalls). My friend has a permanent pass to this as it is a popular ex pat hang out. The service here needs to be seen to be believed. I shall try and summarise for you.

Arrive, get shown to changing rooms and given locker with dressing gown (padded in case it is chilly!!!!!), slippers, bag for wet swimming costume, hangers for clothes. Get shown shower rooms, sauna, steam room, hydrotherapy room, reflexology pool (pool filled with rocks that you walk over) and Laconium beds. These are not veiled yet sarcastic and witty loungers, but tiled beds heated to 42 degrees. In case you get cold I suppose.

Then head out to pool. Choose one of many shaded sunloungers. Staff mob you from all sides. They tenderly tuck a towel over the lounder and a rolled up towel as a pillow. You are given a mini cooler filled with bottles of iced water. A new member of staff approaches and offers you a cold towel drizzled with essence of rich person, and possibly lemon. You dab your brow. They look pleased.

If you are with a small child, as we were, a second person comes running over laden with brightly coloured toys, armbands and smiles for the little dear. They tenderly offer them at the feet of the golden child and bow their way backwards.

Left alone for a moment, you exhaust yourself walking around the various pools trying to decide which one to get into before finally falling in the nearest one and swimming across it in a desultory manner before returning to your lounger to drowse in the shade.

Within minutes of resuming the sleeping position a voice interrupts you. "Clean your sunglasses madam?"

"Huh?" There before me is a man with a box of assorted glass cleaning clothes and an earnest desire to polish my sunglasses. I feel slightly persecuted and send him away. Five minutes later a new voice.

"Frozen grapes madam?"
"Huh?" A diminutivie and immaculately groomed girl stands before me proferring a pineapple upon which are studded small plastic cocktail sticks speared through frozen grapes. Don't mind if I do.

I get up to walk to the pool again and before I can blink, my towel is whisked away and replaced by one unsullied by human hands.

The whole thing is mesmerising, yet exhausting. I'm not knocking the high life, but it's harder than it looks.

I know this ia rather random post but what can you expect. I'm in a building site in the desert and went shopping in Venice yesterday. I can't stay sane in conditions like these.

Friday, 10 October 2008

I'm packing, again.

In my secret life as a nomadic gypsy, I am once more packing up the travel valise to head to other frontiers. No jaunts from the North to the South of our fair land this time. I am heading for the airport and foreign climes - Qatar to be exact. I am feeling thoroughly underwhelmed by the entire trip. I have my reasons for this.

1: Knowing nothing of the country, other than the fact that it sounds like something disgusting that you might cough up, I looked on the official toursim website. They offered me an all singing, all dancing photo album to flick through. This is what it showed me. A hotel, some sand dunes with gridlocked 4 x 4's driving through it, a field of Ibex or something like an Ibex. Apparently this is the national animal and I can go and see it on a farm, in a 4 x 4 I expect. There was also a picture of lots of high rises against the shore line, another hotel and some boats in a marina. THAT WAS IT. The official tourist board of the country could find nothing else to show me to tempt me to their shores.

2: I was not put off by this. I persevered. I looked at a second website. In the Entertainment section they had these thrilling comments to offer me:

"Entertainment in Qatar is expected to grow steadily in the coming years. Quality entertainment and concerts are just becoming known to the country. Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical production, Cats, was staged in 2003, and the opera, Carmen, played during 2004. Both Shaggy and UB40 have performed in Qatar. Doha also boasts a national opera and orchestra".

Be still, my beating heart. Really - UB40 AND Shaggy have played there. Will the fun never stop?

3: It's really very hot there. Hot enough that chickens only lay their eggs in fridges in case they come out pre boiled. I'm not good with excessive heat. Anything up to 30 degrees I can bask in, anything over that and I impersonate the wicked witch and run around screaming 'I'm melting, I'm melting'

4: I can't pack. I can't get my head around the idea that it really will be hot, definitely and with no uncertainty at all. There isn't the slightest chance of a sudden low front moving in with showers and cold winds. The sun will shine even if you shout at it to go away. I am sitting here in driving rain having survived the first of the autumn storms last nights with Force 7 gales and I am supposed to take T shirts, floaty skirts and delicate shirts seriously as a form of clothing. I can't. I keep sneaking jumpers and thick socks into my suitcase. Since I am planning on only taking hand luggage for the week, this is making the packing trickier than usual.

5: I don't actually own that many summer clothes. I live on a mountain in Wales, why would I need them? Consequently I have spent the last 24 hours raiding the wardrobes of overly generous friends in a search for suitable attire that I can't bring myself to pack because I think it will be too cold.

6: Despite the fact that I booked a flight that leaves mid morning on Saturday, I am still having to get up in time to hear dawn go 'Crack' in order to get to the airport in time for the stupid three hour check in. I then won't arrive until 1.00 o'clock in the morning. I am tall, plane seats are small. This is not something to look forward to.

7: I am only going to Qatar because a friend lives there and started rending her clothes and weeping at the prospect of being there for months on end with only an Ibex to keep her company. It will be really lovely to spend a week with her, and to catch up properly. I like her a lot, but when confronted with the cheapest flight with Qatar air ($2500!!!!) I baulked. I wondered whether maybe she wasn't a bit irritating and if I shouldn't pick a fight with her so that I didn't have to shell out my life savings to go to a country that I didn't want to see. Instead I hit the interweb and found a flight with an airline that I have never heard of. There is a stopover in Istanbul for a couple of hours and I have every expectation of the captain coming round and asking us to all contribute some cash for the fuel costs.

It will probably turn out to be one of those amazing holidays, and Cattarh, sorry - Qatar will be a place of extraordinary beauty, with the gentle tones of Cats floating over the sand dunes. I shall pack and be grateful. Honestly.

Thursday, 9 October 2008

AAaaaargghhh - the shame!

So a couple of days ago, I had a ranty whingey blog about Energy efficient lightbulbs. This gave me great pleasure, and was of very little interest to anybody else except for one person. For those of you who weren't so bored that they died half way through reading said rant, you will remember that I mentioned the lighting in a friend's house; in fact I whinged about it. I complained that it was dark as night and that I wanted to run around swapping their commendable lightbulbs for real bulbs.

I thought no more of this until today when I had an e mail from said proud houseowner. We are both going to a swishing party tonight (think swap shop with nice clothes and shoes), and she is giving me a lift. In her e mail, she was panicking about which of her clothes she could bring herself to part with and right at the end she dropped her bomb shell. I shall quote her for you: "Why don't you bring some light bulbs- I'll swap you my long life ones!!!!!"


Caught, red handed, red faced and with a stripey shirt and a bag of swag. She read the blog. She recognised her house. I shall be hated for ever more and expect to be traded in at tonight's swishing party for a pair of old green flash tennis shoes and a box of candles.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Space ships roam the Welsh Hills.

In an effort to avoid doing any work this morning, I tripped over a Sky News article from a while back. In it, they reported on an interview with a Dr Mitchell, who was on Apollo 14 in 1971, and holds the world record for the longest space walk (over 9 hours apparently). He has said that he was aware of many UFO visits to Earth during his career with Nasa but each one was covered up (surprise surprise). He went on to claim that the space agency made contact with aliens, describing the beings as "little people who look strange to us". All this made me think many odd and interesting things far off my normal charted course of thoughts to be thunk. Are you ready? Here goes....

1: Why is it my automatic instinct to think that poor Dr Mitchell is perhaps not completely all there? That perhaps a part of him stayed on the moon at the end of his mini marathon? The second anybody says they saw a UFO, were abducted by aliens, watched ET stamp out a crop circle, the rational side of me says 'Tsk, too many absinthes at the pub young man / lady'. I never say 'Really? what registration was their craft? did they communicate with bananas? Have they seen Elvis?'. All this despite the fact that I can see that statistcally, it is highly unlikely that we are alone out here. This isn't just me either, I think it is a standard response by most of the world, otherwise we would all be in our backyards with homemade telescopes and tinfoil hats every night.

2: Why are aliens always supposed to look vaguely like people? Why can't they look more like an Octopus that had a one night stand with a cactus? Or a flea with a neck like a giraffe, or a school of fish that smell like ginger?

3: Why do alien visitations always seem to take place at night, in the middle of nowhere. Why aren't they tripping down Park Lane, dropping in at the Louvre and partying in Times Square?

4: If there is a superior race out there in the heavens, a race that has conquered the art of space travel, why of why would they only contact NASA? Wouldn't they also want a front cover of Hello Magazine? A chat show of their own? With their technological abilities it should be easy to spread the word that they are here - or is that what Men in Black was? A promotional film from the UFO tourist board?

5: Oddly, there have been two 'sightings' near me. 20 years apart, they were witnessed by the majority of the local population (so, about 10 people then), of all ages, classes and creeds. They all agreed on what they had seen and have never varied their stories. Yet still, I persist in suspecting that the water had LSD in it, again rather than being convinced that spaceships roam the welsh hills.

6: Do we actually want to know if there is anybody out there? If you accept the conspiracy theorists cry that the US government has evidence of alien life forms (never the Belgian Government I notice - is Belgium as unpopular wtih aliens as it is with humans?). Sorry, back to the point; if you accept as true that the governments know something we don't, is it something that we want to know? Are they doing us a favour by not telling us that aliens came to dinner?

How will it help me to decide what I want for supper, or whether to wear sparkly shoes or sensible shoes, if I know ET is watching me? What can I do about it? Not very much to be honest. And that's the point. Telling us little green men are real serves no helpful purpose.

In fact, the argument is that news that 'we are not alone' would apparently engender nothing but mass panic, an abandoning of morality and a short term view of life that would mean people stop going to work, stop paying their bills and cause general chaos. Not unlike a global economic crisis then. This would presumably be followed by a mass emigration to new and more exciting planets....

So my question for you is this; would you want to know that ET has been playing peeping Tom in your neighbourhood?

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Things I hate about rain

* It's wet.
* Everything it lands on gets wet.
* It makes the sky all dark and mean and grey
* It means that the sun doesn't shine
* It floods under my back door and turns my pitifully small hall into a miniature swamp that hobbits might drown in.
* If it rains from one particular direction, it floods through my sitting room window, creating an interesting water feature, and yet more problems for the lurking hobbits.
* The endless gates that I have to open and close when leaving my mountain side are all situated in the rainiest of rainy spots, so it becomes impossible for me to emerge from my mountain retreat looking like anything other than a half drowned mongrel cat.
* Small rivers appear in strange places, usually places that I need to walk.
* Sometimes they are large rivers. I know this because two white water rafters just shot through my yard on a newly formed torrent.
* Excessive rain usually, and ironically, means that I run out of water as the pipes get blocked with small sheep, lost shrews or frogs with no sat nav. I then have to go and remove said blockages.
* The lack of light makes me confused about what time it is. It's all just grey time. Consequently I missed breakfast and ate lunch twice. I also changed to go to bed thinking it must be night time. Disappointingly it turned out to be just gone two thirty.

There must be things I like about rain, but I can't seem to think of them right now.

Dim as a poor man's candle.

Aaaaargh Eeurgh and Ickety Yuk. Just had to get that out of my system. It's that kind of day. My office is only 100 yards from my house and I can't see said abode through the driving rain. The energy efficient light bulbs are on in the office but they aren't making a dent in the strange twilight light that is suffusing the hills.

I'm all for being green. I recycle with a vengeance and have wrenched my shoulder from patting myself on the back when I deposit bags of sorted recycling in the pub car park repository. I don't leave lights on, I am cautious with my heating (partly because it would be cheaper to heat my house with gold ingots than with the oil that I have to use). I turn my car engine off in gridlocked traffic and I buy my food locally but the one thing I can't bear is ENERGY EFFICIENT LIGHTBULBS. I really hate them.

You know how cartoons of a person having an earth shattering idea show a lightbulb springing to life over their head? Never going to happen with EELs (Energy Efficient Lightbulbs). Instead there would be a dim glow, like an exhausted yak's fat candle, which would struggle to light the way to a good idea, let alone startle the world with said idea's incandescent brilliance.

At the weekend, I stayed in one of those eco lodges (translation - really uncomfortable wood cabin held together with cobwebs). The whole place is a lumberjacks wet dream, as it is wood, wood everywhere, all in a dark varnished finish. It was lit with EEL's to stress the eco friendliness of the whole experience. What it actually did was stress me out unbearably. I couldn't read a book, I stubbed each toe seperately by tripping over things that couldn't be seen under the glaring 3 watt glow of the bulbs. If I had lit the place with jam jars of glow worms it would have been brighter. In the end I had to use my wind up torch to read my book without going blind.

The whole issue was further low lighted yesterday when I went to see a friend for a much needed glass of wine. Her sitting room had 5 lamps turned on, all with energy efficient bulbs. Consequently it was nearly pitch black in the room. I couldn't help but think that one 60 watt bulb would have made more difference than all 5 of her lights, and would have had the same environmental impact without the manic depression that bad lighting can't help but create.

Why, oh why can't somebody invent an EEL that gives off a decent, normal coloured light instead of this faintly pink trick of light that we are currently given?

I am a firm believer that being green should not have to mean an ostentatious lack of comfort - it is the only way that we can defeat the whole problem. The sackcloth and ashes approach is bound to fail as nobody other than the odd demented saint enjoys being miserable. And the reason why nobody has done this? Well, it's because every time the scientist bods have a good idea, it is lit up by an EEL and they can't see well enough to actually show anybody else what their good idea is.

Monday, 6 October 2008

So backwards, I may be forwards.

Much excitement when I returned to the frosty hills of wales as I found I have a new reader! Hello Loops! Now, loops said that she / he (I am going for she for no known reason) thought that my writing is very NWM, and she hoped I would take that as a compliment. The thing is, I never know what all the abbreviations mean. I thought LOL was lots of love, until one of the cybermen explained it was Lots of Laughs. I have been thinking of what NWM could stand for, and here is what I have come up with:

NWM - Not without Merit - ok, won't take offence at that.
NWM - Not with merit - wept for a while when I realised it might mean this. Am mortified
NWM - Not with Mayonnaise. Now, I am a mayonnaise fan, and will eat it with all sorts of things, but not necessarily with a blog. Think this one may not apply.
NWM - New Woman Magazine - think this could be mortally offensive but have never actually read said publication so it may be the worlds best compliment.
NWM - Nasal with Meaning - I didn't think my nasal accent came through in my writing. Oh god, does it?
NWM - Newtonian Woman Meddler - I am not, and never have been a Newtonian woman. Apples rarely fall on my head and I don't meddle in alchemy. I refute this one entirely.
NWM - Nearly Weeping Maid - I rarely weep, and have not been a maid for many years. I am a wench and proud of it.
NWM - Never Wear Mauve. I don't. It's a matter of principle and if I were to lean towards that part of the spectrum, I think I would be more of an aubergine shaded girl.
NWM - Needs working Man - OK, I do need a working man - a cross between a butler and a gardener would add a certain cachet to my hillside hovel.

I suspect that none of the above are acutally what NWM means - somebody, put me out of my misery and tell me.......

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