Politik
grumpy
steelbreeze23

Did my civic duty first thing yesterday. Avoiding the tv until at least Friday pm – it’s all just waffle and conjecture until the last vote is counted.

To those of you who couldn’t be bothered to vote – shame on you! And to those of you who were still queueing at 10pm? 4 weeks notice and 15 hours to do it in? You need better planning, methinks. Vote first thing, there’s hardly anybody there, and in my case, you can even park! Having said that, if I could vote online, I would – that would be ideal!

At the time of writing, it looks like the Conservatives are doing the best, and a very poor showing for the Liberal Democrats, which is very disappointing. I'm old enough to remember both Labour and Conservative governments, and I think it's time we gave the third horse a chance. They might be just as bad, of course - but at least we'd find out!



Winter blues
grumpy
steelbreeze23
Yes, I'm crap at keeping this up to date. Well, what with the knitting blog and Real Life (tm) keeping me busy, there seems to be very little else to tell on here! Other than, I am having a bit of a funk at the moment - Christmas seems so long ago, and Easter's quite a way off, and there's nothing very exciting to look forward to, at the moment. Winter is refusing to loosen its grip on the UK this year, we've still got snow on the ground and it's the last week of February! Spring is gonna be late methinks!



The biggest excitement last week was replacing our crappy Samsung vacuum, expert at rearranging fluff and not much else, with a Dyson from Argos (got about £30 knocked off, and a £50 Argos voucher too!). I did inspect it to see if there was something obviously wrong, as the hose itself has vacuum, but nothing obvious appeared so I won't be freecycling it, it'll go down the tip.



You might ask how come we had a faulty hoover? Well, it did work at one point, but it ended up being used solely as a cat-scarer (set up outside the bedroom door, and activated suddenly when our resident furball decided to demand entrance at 2am with scratched carpet and door). Until the start of this year, I actually employed a cleaning lady for two hours a week, a little luxury for us DINKs. She did a reasonable job most of the time, although towards the end little things got missed. However, owing to Health and Safety legislation regarding working from heights (which changed a few years back), suddenly anything above 5ft and pertaining to windows in particular became too dangerous to be touched. I'm sorry, but I refuse to pay £24 a week for half a job that I can do properly myself. So the money for the Dyson came from money put away for cleaning. It'll now mount up for a holiday towards the end of the year. Until such time as I move into a 4ft cave, I can't see the point of employing a cleaning lady! And, truth be told, I quite enjoy deciding each Monday what needs to be done - the Cog has surprised me by cleaning stuff before I even get home from work! Not entirely sure what stuff she was bringing herself, as couldn't find any toilet cleaner nor cleaning sponges. I've gone with Anthea Turner's meth0d - blue for the loo, pink for the sink!



The commute has been getting me down somewhat lately. On a good day, it's a 45 minute jag. At the moment I've got two sets of roadworks to navigate, and a new lane closure that appeared yesterday which is causing major hold-ups down the A road I usually use through Coventry. So I'm now by-passing the bypass (and driving through town, which is further). There has to be some irony there, surely? I envy folks who can use bicycles or trains/buses to get to work. Not saying it's any easier - but certainly in the case of public transport, I could settle down with a good book or some knitting and let someone else navigate traffic problems. Trouble is, where I live, I'd have to take a bus to the station (3 miles in the wrong direction), then one or possibly two trains to work. It's doable, and possibly cheaper but would take longer. I say possibly cheaper because I live outside the Centro travel area my workplace is located in, and having to buy two travel passes might negate any savings.



I'd love to take a bus to work - if I worked in my hometown, I would only use the car at weekends. Might even get the pushbike out.



The Cog's annoyed because the sub-contractors are being forced to take 4 weeks unpaid leave this year, and the first two weeks must be before the end of June. I can understand he's annoyed, because it's a pay cut for him, but when life offers you lemons?! He took two days off this week and spent most of it playing Tombraider, by all accounts. Not productive, but at least he enjoyed himself I think! I enjoyed coming home to thai chicken and lamb stew, that's for sure! The UK office has had a pay freeze this year. The terminology always cracks me up - I've only had raises of inflation most years (2-2.5%) which is effectively a pay freeze already J Oh well, not complaining, at least I have work!



Talking of which, had a bizarre dream last night that my boss made me redundant suddenly, except we were in the offices of my old employer Wagon. I woke up really annoyed!



So. Nothing much to report, really. I booked a week off in August for the Stirling knit camp, and have also booked the Metropolitan Dream Week in September, and the odd day here and there for demos - and have 10.5 days left to share with the Cog, should he require it! Was thinking about booking another Passap week, but the one I most likely would attend (when I can camp) is run by a chap I'm not familiar with instead of the co-owner of Metropolitan, who is lovely. And I'm hoping the Cog and I can book some downtime, too J
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Thomas: Napping101
swimmer
steelbreeze23

Thomas: Napping101
Originally uploaded by steel breeze
This was too cute not to photograph! The Cog was using this as an excuse to keep me running about supplying him with drinks!

Not at home!
swimmer
steelbreeze23
It's been some time since my last post on here - I can only apologise, and say I've been away a lot in the last two months - a trip to Scotland, four days working in Holland, and then a long weekend in Bruges. Of course I've been around in between times, but it seems to have been a mad round of housework, gym, fibre-related events at weekends, grocery-shopping etc. Far too mundane to blog about!

Scotland photos and review

Bruges photos and review

There are more events coming up, but no more holidays for a while. I'm now back at work, refreshed, gradually catching up with five days of emails and blogs to work through, and secretly plotting to go back to Bruges as soon as is humanly possible. :D
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Oasis at the Ricoh Arena
grumpy
steelbreeze23
It was chucking it down as we arrived .There were queues to get in,
despite us being divided into gates. Inside? Hell on earth. There was a
massive crush on the stairs - the design of the arena is such that seated
and standing audience have to use the same route to get to their seats/the
pitch. Made the mistake of popping to the loo before Oasis came on, and it
took me half an hour to get around the stadium to the outside portaloos
with only a small queue. The crush on the stairs broke into song: "You
don't know what you're doing!", aimed at the security staff.

I think a lot of the problems could have been solved by having admissions
via the other side of the building (this has a swanky foyer), thus easing
the load. Also having IN stairs and OUT stairs would help no end. Once you
got inside the screens indicated the left hand side was less packed. Ah,
bolting the gate afterwards, how kind!

The gig was great (apart from having unidentified liquids thrown over us
at regular intervals), but the venue rather spoilt it for me. It even
stopped raining. Liam got boos when he dedicated a song to "the real Sky
Blues" (Man city). Uh, yeah, this is a football ground?

The carparking is £20 (or £10 for "park and walk to a field"). Plus
another £2 if you help them out and prebook (surely they should reward
people with planning?). The NEC charges £8 to park and is far better
served by public transport and motorways - we often park at the next
station and take the train. The Ricoh? They're having a laugh! Never going
to a gig there ever again, I don't care who it is!

Enough said.
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Expenses
grumpy
steelbreeze23
There's been a big furore in the British press over the past few weeks about MP's expenses. MPs claiming for gardening, mortgages they're no longer paying (for 21 months), floating duck houses, that sort of thing. I recently had to work at our head office in another country for four weeks. My expenses covered the food and transport (accomodation was paid for by my boss). I would not have dreamt of getting blind drunk on company money; nor would I have claimed for a broken toilet seat or for potted plants. A fellow hotel resident seemed to think he was entitled to an allowance for the inconvenience of being away from home. I did not agree - I can surely entertain myself for a few evenings I think! I'm still waiting for my expenses to show up, seems to take about five weeks, luckily it's not much.

A lot of the MPs have said it's the system at fault, not them. But nobody forced them to claim for ridiculous things!</p><p>The thing is, if you commit benefit fraud, eg claiming disability allowance when you're fit enough to work, the goverment can chase you down and you might even serve a custodial sentence. Any other kind of stealing would get punished. Why does this not apply to the elected, who are supposed to be working for us? *shakes head* It's all wrong.

Well, Labour got a bloody nose at the recent elections, but they're still there. Whoever you vote for, the government always gets in.
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My "new" ka
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steelbreeze23

ka01
Originally uploaded by steel breeze
Debating what to call her - Ulrika-ka-ka springs to mind (the silver car was nicknamed the Steel Mobile), except that has connotations of a blonde bimbo that sleeps with football managers...

Yes, I am outside in noro kureyon socks. The sun was kind of shining, for about ten minutes. Well, it IS a bank holiday weekend.

Drives beautifully, very nippy, very pleased with it. Might need to get some air freshener though, I think the previous owner was a smoker.

Some garden pics
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steelbreeze23
Yes, spring is desperately trying to break through here, amidst sunshine and showers. Excuse the weird lighting, a rain cloud was hovering with menace, and there had already been a short shower...

rosemary
Rosemary, plus some moss and grass.

Picture 038
Not sure what this is.

clematis02
Clematis I think?

clematis01
Clematis, close up

bleedingheart02
Bleeding heart

bleedingheart01
Bleeding heart, close up

I love bleeding heart - it's almost like a fuschia but I have yet to kill it. It dies right back every year and looks dead, and then surprises us in early spring.
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Working away from home, pros and cons
swimmer
steelbreeze23
Pro:

* Hotel has excellent breakfast - croissants, cheeses and hams for
breakfast, or fruit, or eggs (two ways) and bacon. And fresh orange juice,
as in, the machine threw oranges at me earlier! :)
* Hotel has bijou pool/sauna/steam room/gym
* Eye-wateringly strong coffee
* Good food
* Free wireless internet
* Superfast Oce colour plotting. The plotter I would've bought for work,
if it wasn't so flippin' big, and I had more than a large broom cupboard
for a print room.
* Enjoying meeting up with other employees from London office and other
places. Bit of a party atmos in the bar last night, had enjoyable chat
with London's CAD jockey.
* Getting to see some stuff demoing after lunch, and my dutch colleague
even leant me a camera to take, so I can share the pics with the UK.

Con:

* CAD on a 15" monitor is... interesting. Guess I'm spoilt at home.
* Given up trying to get the right keyboard layout, so am using UK on a US
keyboard, because I like having @ next to shift. Can't always locate both
slashes, though! Keyboard seems to waver 'twixt Dutch, US and UK, when it
feels like it.
* Eye-wateringly strong coffee
* The vending machine cappucino (a) seemed to have chocolate in the bottom
and (b) tasted like tea. But I have the skinny on an excellent vending
machine hidden in another building, must check out today. Shhhh!
* One colour printer here per building (150 people?) and it insisted on
jamming or eating paper every time I tried to use it. And it's a bit of a
walk, too (ah diddums!).
* No decent graphics app. on pc (which might explain previous problem). I
miss my Paint Shop Pro!
* Takes 10 mins to log on every morning, despite IT insisting it gets
faster after the first time. It doesn't.
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A tale of my birthday weekend...
happy pleased
steelbreeze23
Well, made a weekend of it, because Monday I'm at work all day and then I'm at college, and between that I have my friend W for tea (she's on the same course and has no car); and after college I think she wants a lift to her mum's, so, all-in-all I'm not going to be able to relax much today. So I opened my presents on Saturday.

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There were sweetcorn fritters for breakfast - would normally make full English on a Sunday, but all we had were eggs.

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There was a StarWars cake (it didn't survive to my ACTUAL birthday :)

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And there was a present - a MacBook Pro; second-hand but in pristine condition. I loves it! Now I have to figure out how to do more than surf and change the wallpaper/screensaver.... couldn't get it to talk to the printer shared from my windows PC, but I reckon I'll figure it out eventually.

Saturday the weather was lovely so I decided to put up the tent I intend taking to Woolfest to check it was ok (it was). We popped into Cov so I could get a laptop bag and a book on Mac OS X (I've not used Macs since 2001). Staples only do training DVDs on microcsoft products (and THAT was limited!) but PC World have an excellent selection of Mac OS books, I was spoilt for choice.

In the evening we ate at the Thai Orchid (both failing to resist the sweet trolley - cindertoffee pudding, yum!) and had one drink in Bank, which is a converted cinema? theatre? and it was pretty empty for a Saturday night (mind you, this was before 9pm).

Sunday we spent the morning converting the garage from a small rubbish tip into something usable again and made ourselves a little "recycling area" on the front lawn (Rugby is starting a 3 bin scheme next month). I'd rather not have the bins there, but there isn't really anywhere else - we've put down some leftover slabs directly onto the grass, and in a month or so will bed them down properly, when the grass has died. Luckily we have the space - goodness only knows what people in terraces are supposed to do! Treated our hard work with a pub lunch in town and a drive to a garden centre. Spring is finally on its way here - the sun shone, although there was a fresh breeze too!

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