Tuesday, 21 November 2017

In Its Entirety

When we're driving around Louis and I take it in turns to choose tracks to play. He lines them up to autoplay on Spotify.  I have to grin and bear it through some stuff that isn't to my taste.  On other occasions I'm pleasantly surprised by what my boy chooses.  My fandom of Imagine Dragons is a result of what I've been exposed to on these musical forays.

The other day Louis complained that my favourite Gary Numan track, at six minutes or so, was too long.  He cheekily cut it short and then  continued to ask me for my playlist for the day.  Casually  I threw  'Supper's Ready' into the mix. I thought I'd got away with it as it started.  Then it dawned on Louis.  'It's twenty three minutes!' he exclaimed and moved on to his next choice.

Anyway, for any of you who fancy a classic of prog rock I thought I'd treat you to the track in its entirety, complete with a rather flaky home recorded video from the '70s.  It's worth it just to Peter Gabriel's famous flower impression and Phil Collins playing the drums with some kind of kitchen spatulas!

Monday, 20 November 2017

Advent in Reverse

Sorry to mention the C-word a  bit in advance but I promise you I've got good reason.  As an intro, here's Louis' advent calendar which he made with his auntie. I've just dug it out of the loft when I was putting some camping equipment away.   It's in use for the third or fourth year running and I fill it with Ferrero Rocher.

Now my teenager would be extremely peeved if I denied him his pre-Christmas confectionery fest but I've just heard about a scheme that's much better than any of those novelty adult calendars that are around now.  Like twenty four days of pork scratchings,  I ask you!   I for one don't need any mini bottles of prosecco,  chocolate or piggy bits.  As my son reminds me I'm a bit fat and the lack of ability to exercise recently hasn't helped the situation.  So I welcome the  chance to gift to others instead of stuffing my face.

No, I  much prefer the idea of reverse calendars.  During the run up to Christmas  you put aside an item to donate to a local foodbank or homeless charity on a daily basis.  As I've started early enough  they'll be time to hand in my own two dozen goodies well in time for  them to provide  much needed festive cheer.    But it really doesn't matter when you begin.   People will be needing food, toiletries and household goods to make daily life just a little easier well into the New Year.

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Autumn Reframed

My trips outside the home over the last two weeks have  been restricted to running Louis around.  The new car's role as Mum's taxi is unerring even now I'm on the route to recovery.  It's  a full on weekend of teenage chaffeuring.  As part of the curriculum of his studio school Lou will be doing regular work experience from now on.  I think it's once a term.  He's off to spend a week with a structural engineering firm in Plymouth in December and will stay  with Auntie Salty Dog to make it logistically easier.  We headed off down to 'The Ocean City' as it's dubbed on the approach signs of the A38 to check out the offices and work out the public transport route he'll need to take on his commute.  A pub lunch and a scout around the charity shops on Mutley Plain with Salty Dog was thrown into the equation.

For the most part in the last fortnight my drives have been limited to getting Lou to the bus stop in Totnes where he connects with school transport.  There's a beautiful vista as we drive along the main road from Torbay and cross the border into the South Hams.  Soft rolling hills are backed by views of Dartmoor.  I'd love to stop and take a picture but it's not feasible on such a busy route.

So today's picture is a random one off the Internet but bear with me.  In the past I've been so busy  digging out my SAD lamp and  fretting about the shortening  daylight hours that I've never noticed before the quality of the light at this time of year.  This image captures its crispness.  The intensity particularly hits me when we take in that view.  Stunning!

 I'm viewing this as a marker of how much my outlook on life has changed over the last year or so.  No seasonal dip in mood so far.   All that 'hippy nonsense' might be having an effect.  For the first time it  seems that I'm literally seeing autumn in a glorious new light.

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Two Places In the Sun

I am at last feeling much better.   So I'm finally emerging from the boudoir and getting out and about.  Even so I'll be taking it easy over the next few weeks.  I don't want a re-emergence of this baby.  Two chest infections in the space of two months is enough for anyone.

One of the things that I've been doing whilst laid up is dreaming and scheming about my next two trips away.  It's occurred to me that I haven't done a show and tell of where I'll be staying in Malta and Portugal.  So let's fix that right now shall me?

This is my hostel room in Malta.   There's two reasons why I chose it.  The first is that this getaway has to be super cheap, one my friend Meanqueen might be proud of.   Sure I'd like to go swanky and upmarket but the pennies don't allow it at the moment.    But the other is that I thought that a little room  hostel would give me a bit of sanctuary yet allow me to mingle with like minded travelling types.  I'm quite pleased with this accommodation. It's reminiscent of retreat rooms that I've stayed in.  Perhaps it sets the tone for a contemplative holiday?

And this is where we're staying in Lisbon in February.  I gave Louis a budget to spend on AirBnB and set him the task of choosing our accommodation.   This is what he came up with.  Wow!  I'm glad to see that he's inherited his mother's distaste for neutrally decorated living space!  I stipulated that a central location,  two bedrooms and a balcony were absolutely essential.  He met my remit.  What do you think?  I reckon he's come up top trumps.

Friday, 17 November 2017

BT: I'm Off!

I try not to moan these days.  Positivity serves me better.  But somethings a good old venting is just what's needed. A debacle out of the blue that wasted the whole evening yesterday caused me to change my phone provider.  The Internet went down  so  I tried BT's self fix process three times before agreeing reluctantly to an engineer.  There is a stern warning that if you call them out needlessly there is a charge of something like £129 which is off putting.  Still  I hadn't done anything to muck up my broadband.  It had just gone off suddenly without warning when I wasn't even in the same room as the box.  There was no choice but to take the chance.  The appointment was arranged for next week.

Some time later my broadband restored itself like magic!   I went onto the BT website  to cancel the engineer's appointment but  entering the job number brought up an error message.  As it is almost impossible to find a number to speak to a human being  I went to chat to someone online.  By then I was exacerbated.  I think I ticked a box saying that I wanted to go through the complaints system to try and rectify the problem.  Eventually the job got cancelled and I settled down to sleep.  I turned my mobile to silent so as not to be disturbed.
BT then proceeded to barrage me with calls on the downstairs landline which I didn't answer.  I was already in bed.   It felt like harassment.   I looked at my mobile.  They'd tried there too and messaged me asking me to text them to say that the complaint had been dealt with satisfactorily.  When I attempted to do this I got a notification that I would be charged a premium rate for the pleasure of replying.  Sod that!   For some reason my BT online account developed a fault so that I was unable to tell them to sling their hook by that means.   In the end I answered a mobile call and told the chap to cancel the complaint.  I couldn't be bothered to vent further frustration.  Nuisance calls from my own phone provider had been the final straw.

During the waiting process I'd been on U-Switch.  I discovered that I could have a package from Talk Talk for about £200 a year less.  Now that will pay for a trip away!  What's more the terms are better than my existing one. There's faster broadband, features like call divert that BT charge for, no set up costs and free calls to mobile phones.  I found survey information too saying Talk Tak receive less complaints than BT and the other companies that they own.   There was just one thing that I needed.  I had to check that BT wouldn't be finding some excuse to charge me for cancellation.  They did that when I left my rented property and refused to carry over the contract until I moved into my next home nine months later.

So I went back online giving the exact same personal details that I'd been asked for the night before to pre-empt some questioning.  But it wasn't enough.  The person needed extra information to elicit a response to a simple enquiry.  It took an age to find on my online account because the website is such a muddle.  Their script also repeated the request for the information that I'd already given!  Somehow I'd already anticipated it would not be as simple as I wanted.   I wonder why?

Finally through there's good news. There's no penalties.  I'm off in spite of not giving a thought to changing phone providers before last night.  If a person from BT reads this you need to know that you got it so wrong on all sorts of different levels!   

Thursday, 16 November 2017

The Body of Christ

I don't think that I've laughed so much at an advert in a long time.  How someone at Greggs had the idea of replacing baby Jesus in the manger with a sausage roll is too much, even for my slightly zany mind to imagine. This stretches the bounds of surrealism like nothing else I've ever seen.  It's upset some Christians but I like to think that God is having a good old chortle too.

What also amused me was one of the comments posted when the story was reported on the website of one of the newspapers.  I forget which one and am not going off on a hunt as my brain is only working on  half steam at the current time.  I'm paraphrasing here but it went along the lines of 'It would be great if the body of Christ was a sausage roll rather than those dry flaky wafers that they give us at holy communion!'.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Bedroom Activism

Yes I'm still spending the majority of my time in bed but I think thing are slowly on the mend.  The coughing is a little less startling so maybe that's a good sign.  Just because this has gone on so long I had a little mental wobble yesterday.  But  I told myself off.  'Pull yourself together Joo!!!!'   There's so much to be positive about so I'm focusing on the good stuff to help my virtual pecker to ride high.

So what have I been up to aside from crafting?  Well sleeping rather a lot.  And when I'm not resting up I'm doing my bit to save the world.  I've been meaning to buy my loo rolls from Who Gives A Crap for a while now.  Some of it's a hangover from Plastic Free July.   Of course this is  more expensive than my usual bargain stuff that I pick up from the supermarket but some of this is about doing my bit because I can afford to.  As well as being made from recycled paper the company donate 50% of their profits to providing toilets for some of the  40% of world population that don't have access to proper hygiene facilities.  A double whammy for the environment and international development I think!