Tuesday, December 30, 2008
So off we went to Bristle zoo, and had a very enjoyable few hours showing my little boy traditional fauna, including the lions, or "Rahs!" as he calls them. A 'rah' also refers to a tiger, a red panda and, worryingly, socks. Mind you, he calls crocodiles "Neighs" so I'm not expecting much of a zoological future for him.
One thing he did seem to enjoy was the aquarium, and it was fun to point out the fish, of various hue and girth, which he dutifully pointed at all excitedly. One area was a tunnel through which you can walk under the aquarium and look up at the fish, in this manner:
So it was a good teaching opportunity for him, exposing him to some of the denizens of the deep(ish) waters of our planet. It also happened to be glass-cleaning day at the aquarium, and obviously this was far more exciting to little kids than boring animals, especially when the silhouette of one of nature's top predators came gliding over the walkway:
Lots of 'oohs' and 'ahhs' and ignored fish ensued, so in order to continue the animal exposure, we went off to be insulted by lemurs.
A little later on, we came across the river otters, and obviously he was far more interested in the traditional otter food of . . .
. . . white rat lobbed over the fence. Traditional otter fare, that one.
I'm thinking of taking him to a dedicated aquarium next, where divers get eaten if they spend to long with their algae scrapers.
Monday, December 29, 2008
And the food was luvverly. We started off with something that was once de rigeur for any stylish household, but lost favour and went the way of chicken-in-a-basket as edible fashions deemed it a tad 1970s; only prawn cocktail! I even managed to get red glass bowls which would've been right at home on the set of Abigails Party. Look at 'em:
You can't tell me your mouth isn't watering at the sight of de-exoskeletonned crustaceans in ketchup and mayonnaise.
The other thing I discovered was cranberry sauce, the staple condiment for turkey in every civilised country. Now, obviously, I know what cranberry sauce is, as it comes in a jar and gets heated up every year. But no! Not this year. I was shown the delights of making it myself, in 10 minutes, from real cranberries. They go from this:
To this:And it tasted fantastic. For a start, it doesn't taste too much of cranberries, which are absolutely disgusting and have been know to turn a man's face completely inside-out with their tartness. A load of sugar, wine and some other niceties and - Violin! - you have deliciousness in a pan.
It's one of those food groups that, despite being up there with ambrosia in terms of tastiness, you only eat at a certain time of the year. Llike Advocat. And Creme de Menthe.
After the consumption of more calories than you might find in a deep-fried deepfryer, I now weigh 73 stone, so it's off for a run in the morning for me. I'll just have this last ferrero rocher . . .
Sunday, December 28, 2008
It's cold here at the moment, although we haven't had any snow since 1978 because of cow farts and 4x4s, but after a small amount of walking (barely a mile from my house), the scene that greeted me was lovely. So lovely in fact, I took out my phone and used it for its primary purpose. Taking photos. Occasionally, I talk to people on it, but that's just incidental:
Obviously, photograms don't do justice to the real world (except for porn, where they make sex look a bit better), but here, the cold snap of the air, the cloudy breathing from cattle, the skeletal trees looking like roots rather than anything that might possibly photosynthesize, all combined to make me feel . . . good.
And believe me, it's been a few days since I felt that way, which makes it extra special.
Wherever you are, I hope your locality offers a little bit of good.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
This is my door:
Nice eh? It's made of all plastic and glass that is, for some reason, better than a great slab of wood with a knob on it. As I'm no door expert I shall bow to received wisdom and refrain from replacing it with an oaky edifice, although the only advantage I can see is the transluceny issue. Not good in oak doors.
However, it has been laid low recently when it failed to lock, and as some wolves are noted for their tenacity and door-opening abilities (as seen on TVs 'Animals Do The Funniest Things, Right Before They Invade Your House And Eat Your Family'), I deemed it necessary to consult a locksmith and PVC door expert.
He soon found the problem, and did a quick, albeit temporary,repair. It would seem the whole inner bit needs replacing because this bit is knackered:
In case you're wondering, it's the bit on the left. The red paperclip is for scale, and not commonly found in the better sort of door. I'm reckoning about half a centimetre long, by the looks of things. I am cheerily informed that the whole bit can be replaced as soon as a new inner part is ordered.
"Fair enough" says I. "Get the part at once, Mr Locksmith and PVC Door Expert. And can you tell me, just for funsies like, how much the whole shebang will be?"
"Of course." replies Mr Locksmith and PVC door expert, "One hundred and eighty-five pounds and sixty-five pee, including VAT."
"Hmmfeeeeee?!" I expectorated, and felt a clammy, tight feeling near my wallet.
And the annoying thing is, he's not ripping me off. Research has since confirmed that this is how much it is to repair my door. I could do it myself for a bit less, but this would eventually be more expensive when Mr LaPVCDE has to come round to repair my amateurish fumblings, possibly while paramedics are trying to work out how to extricate me from the frame.
I wonder how much a bloody great slab of oak is?
Thursday, December 18, 2008
It made me stop and think. Mainly because I'd just walked uphill for a mile and any excuse to stop was welcome, even if it was to think, but I did anyway. What might they want? Were they hostile? They looked indifferent, but that might have been the carefully cultivated nonchalnace adopted by the professional (and competent) thug.
I suddenly realised they were assessing me to see if they recognised me, to see if I was a threat. Their world was probably relatively small, insular and dangerous, with the same few people occupying the same few roles in society. Bosses and underlings, suppliers and users, all familiar with each other and all identifiable. Even the enemies, the predators and the traitors, would probably be recognised by these two, so it was imperative in their view that they be vigilant, and causing some discomfort to innocent visitors a small price to pay.
After a moment, they moved aside to let us pass, with not even a cold nod of acquittal. We avoided eye contact and went on our way.
In a moment of clarity however, I understood they were checking me out to see if I was a grass.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
I don't require the ignorant witterings of self-appointed nutritional therapists with worthless diplomas and no scientific knowledge whatsoever to tell me what's good for me, or what's bad for me, or what's a new miracle food because it's a berry, and it's purple, and the Aztecs used it as a cure for IBS. As a contemporary western male with an education and the ability to have nuggets of wisdom drawn to my very fingertips by way of internet tubes, I am aware of the dangers of not eating variety, and the benefits of ensuring I eat a balanced diet.
It's common kowledge. Common sense even.
However, I'm also a typical bloke, which is why my dinner today consisted of this:
MANFOOD! Guh. Guh. Guh.
Obviously, I heated it up a bit first.
And I stuck one slab of meat between two pieces of bread, so that varied things up a bit. Oh, and I had Barbadosian Hot Sauce on it, which is not only a separate foodstuff, but practically a different type of matter to that usually found in the universe.
Now if that's not varied, I don't know what is.
Friday, December 12, 2008
So I did:
Apparently, this is a better thing to do that place Jaffa cakes on my new-born son's eyes so he looked like Elton John wearing shades.
I'm not posting that one, cos the missus told me not to.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Anyway, me bath's running, and I just found this picture I took on a previous holiday of a famous European landmark I took from an unusual angle. See if you can guess where it is:
Sunday, December 7, 2008
Well, I like it. And it's my blog, so it's staying.
Saturday, December 6, 2008
In fact, after a visit to Greece, your old Auntie Mabel will most likely regale you with tales of feeding a rock lizard on her balcony rather than discuss the historic architecture of Athens or the cultural impact of Grecian philosophy on western civilisation.
"Brown, he was dear, like the waiter!"
Anyway, to show that occasionally we do stock slightly more interesting things than rabbits and sparrows, I thought I would share with you some pics I took of my local disused and overgrown canal, where the following chap has resided for the past six or seven years. Presumably, he's an escapee, but apparently doesn't find our Winters too distressing:
There. Okay, how about a close up . . .
There he is! A big terrapin thing, about a foot long. No idea what type of terrapin, or if he's just a tortoise with a thing about baths, but he can be found basking sedately on a log throughout the Summer and sometimes into the Autumn.
This might not seem much to you, but I'll have you know this thing made the local paper round here. Honest.
Friday, December 5, 2008
It's a good point. However, it's not just coral snakes and anacondas she's scared of, but anything which slithers along the ground or does a vaguely relaistic impression of a snake.
I often forget this, and recently found these delightful critters resting 'neath a slab in my garden:
Two slow-worms and a grass snake. Now, I'm daft enough to still get excited by these sorts of things and I then want to share my ebullience with the person I share the rest of my life. Hence my trotting happily over to her with two fistfuls of squirming captives.
It didn't go well. The shriek was audible in Tehran, and echoed around the fields and churches of our rural county for about an hour. Bats dropped out of the sky, stunned, whilst dogs ate their own ears.
Apparently, pointing out that slow-worms are legless lizards, not snakes, doesn't help, and niether does remonstrating with her for scaring them with her banshee wails.
I felt we both learnt something that day. She learned that she actually suffers from herpetophobia, not ophidiophobia, and I leaned that we have a very comfortable sofa to spend the night on.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Today though, I'm going to be different, because it's linked to my tragedy post (http://gravelfarm.blogspot.com/2008/11/tragedy.html). A few people offered their condolences on the loss of my ukulele, for which I'd like to thank them, and I also mentioned I was attempting to learn Sweet Child O' Mine on it's replacement.
Understandably, there was some concern about this, so I think it only fair that I back up my claim with a video. Unless that was what the concern was about (Oh crap - he's going to video that and post it, isn't he?). Playing and singing exposes your very soul, according to some musician friends of mine, so let's give it a go shall we. Excuse the singing as this is a work in progress and I'll get my tone in another day!
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Ah . . . bask in it's sunniness. A quick reminder that it was quite nice around here just a few months ago.
This is relevant to the blog because it was the result of the fecund growth of the Tropicarium I regaled you with a while ago: http://gravelfarm.blogspot.com/2008/11/growth-medium.html
More bulletins as events warrant!
Monday, December 1, 2008
Nah. What you want is something like this:
Now that's a shop name.
Saw it in Cyprus a few years ago. I've no idea what they sell, but you can bet it's going to be pretty damn awesome. In fact, I expect there is absolutely nothing they don't stock, this side of a parallel dimension.
"Left handed screwdriver sir? Aisle 48."
"Shark farts, madam, of course. Ailse 2."
"Rameses testicle in a jar of liquid methane? Would you liked that gift-wrapped sir?"
I went in for a pterodactyl sandwhich but . . . wait for it . . . they'd run out of bread!
Ah than' yew!
Sunday, November 30, 2008
Of course, I could put up some pictures of said scenery to demonstrate my appreciation of the trip, but I'm thinking you might as well go on to a tourism website and look at proessionally captured images. So I won't.
Instead, have a look at this one, taken in the Kyle of Lochalsh just prior to a ride over the bridge to Skye. It demonstrates how the town has embraced modern technology and is at one with the new technocentric order of society:
Useful to know. I was tempted to follow it to see what sort of computer deserved it's own road sign, expecting some sort of Deep Thought artificial intelligence with hordes of technicians hurrying hither and thither, delivering important questions from locals about this year's haggis harvest and digging new single malt wells. Unfortunately, the call of the Talisker distillery was too strong so I didn't divert, so don't expect an explanation.
If you want to see it yourself, it's at the crossroads in the centre of town, just after the 'Microwave - 200 yards' sign.
Saturday, November 29, 2008
Now, I'm not one to diminish the experiences of others, but putting perspective aside I would like to share with you a tragedy the likes of which Sophocles or Shakespeare would have thought twice about including in their works, lest it tear the very fabric of society in twain with lamented wails of anguish.
My ukulele fell off the back of my motorbike:
Then got run over by a following Volvo.
Frowny, frowny face.
I know what you're thinking - how can he function? What's the point of carrying on? How has he the power of will to get up, brush himself down and overcome such adversity. Well, as the adage goes, life is problems and living is solving problems, so I came up with a cunning plan.I bought another one.
Friday, November 28, 2008
Imagine my pride when we were attending the funeral of his Great Uncle recently, and he interrupted proceedings to point at a great big wall-mounted crucifix and cheerily shout "Tuh! Tuh! Tuh!"
His Great Uncle would've appreciated that, I know.
It's quite a weird concept the christians have there, with the method of execution of their head wizard becoming their ultimate religious icon. If it was done today, would they all be wearing little electric chairs or syringes round their necks?
Imagine if he'd died of a heart attack during an orgy? I'd wear that pendant.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Every now and then though, you come across an image on the interweb which just screams achievement, which inspires in you a sense of awe and is a reminder that, at the end of the day, one should always aim as high as possible. The first image is this, taken from the conservatory on the International Space Station.Human achievement at it's pinnacle, here. I've got this as my desktop wallpaper.
Of course, such grand accomplishments are not resticted to Homo sapiens, and sometimes it is the feats of other species we can use to inspire:
One word. Orsum.
I'm not sure why there isn't a number 10, but I presume it's because answering it would be too revealing. Here we go:
1. Where is your cell phone? There!
2. Where is your significant other? Adjacent
3. Your hair color? Braaaaaaaahn.
4. Your mother? Crone.
5. Your father? Bearded.
6. Your favorite thing? Multitool.
7. Your dream last night? Immemorial.
8. Your dream/goal? Immortality.
9. The room you’re in? Lounge.
11. Your fear? Nothing.
12. Where do you want to be in 6 years? Younger.
13. Where were you last night? Work.
14. What you’re not? Green.
15. One of your wish-list items? Finglonger.
16. Where you grew up? Willslock.
17. The last thing you did? Nappy.
18. What are you wearing? Out.
19. Your TV? Boring.
20. Your pet? Bert!
21. Your computer? Laptop.
22. Your mood? Positive.
23. Missing someone? Repetitively.
24. Your car? Practical.
25. Something you’re not wearing? Halo.
26. Favorite store? eBay.
27. Your summer? english.
28. Love someone? Absolutely.
29. Your favorite color? Green.
30. When is the last time you laughed? Recently.
31. Last time you cried? Weeks.
Do you lot fancy a go:
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
So earlier this year I took her advice, ready to delve into the world of horticulture, already imagining hosting a universally lauded gardening programme on BBC2 in a couple of years, not that I get ahead of myslef or anything.
Behold, I give you, the Tropicarium!
Note the bricks and sandbags. You can't have your crop being blown away by a sudden gust, so that's my first bit of gardening advice.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Imagine how awesome that would be if I'd been doing nowt else for a decade! Makes you wonder, doesn't it?
So, what would you do, if you had the time and support? Ten years from now, you too could be an expert courgette carver, although I think the planet is too small for more than one.
Get your own niche.
Monday, November 24, 2008
So, to combat the brainworm, I found myself proposing a challenge;
"To voyage around the world in eighty days!"
Actually, no, it wasn't that. That would be silly. It was to take a photo of something amusing in the next minute.
And I found this:
For some reason, the song really suited the close up of the knights grooving on down. I classed this as a success because it amused me, even if no-one else was privy to the humour, although it didn't get rid of the brainworm.
I had to start singing "I should be so lucky, lucky lucky lucky . . ." for that. Thanks Kylie.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
To help, allow me to demonstrate by providing, in toddler building blocks; a flawless rendition of a popular film and television set piece; the stargate off of Stargate, which was some sort of gate to the stars:
Please note, this is not to be confused with the stair gate, which is used to stop said toddler from practicing his unintentional parkour.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Name: The Jules. Not just any Jules, but THE Jules.
Birth date: One Summer morning in the early seventies, heralded by portentous aurorae and visiting dignitaries.
Current Location: An island in the north Atlantic.
Eye Colour: Grey.
Hair Colour: Greying.
Height: 5’9” – thus securing my position as the World’s Smallest Giant.
Righty or Lefty: Dextra
Zodiac Sign: The Jumping Flea.
Your heritage: From a long line of bastards.
The shoes you wore today: Steel toe-capped boots.
Your weakness: Invulnerability
Your fears: Being stuck in a locked room with two hungry polar bears.
Your perfect pizza: A real man’s pizza, with all cleavers and mahogany on it.
Goal you’d like to achieve: Immortality. Might have to wait a while to see if I’ve made it.
Your most overused phrase on AIM: “FIRE”
Your first waking thoughts: “Better luck next time, Mr Kruger.”
Your best physical feature: My ha-ha.
Your most missed memory: Where I put my keys.
Pepsi or Coke: Either
McDonald’s or Burger King: Neither
Single or group dates: Orgies
Adidas or Nike: Prefer Non-labels
Lipton Ice Tea or Nestea: Beer
Chocolate or vanilla: Either
Cappuccino or coffee: Both
Cuss: Only for fun.
Sing: As above.
Take a shower everyday: Tend to have a shower, rather than take one. But no.
Do you think you’ve been in love: Oh yes.
Want to go to college: Been
Liked high school: Yes
Want to get married: Already there.
Believe in yourself: I’m pretty sure I’m here. Or am I . . ?
Get motion sickness: Never.
Think you’re attractive: Sometimes.
Think you’re a health freak: Nope.
Get along with your parent(s): Yeah - they’ve got half my genes each.
Like thunderstorms: What’s not to like. They’re thunderstorms.
Play an instrument: Ukuleletastic.
LAYER SIX: In the past month…–
Drank alcohol: Yup. In fact, in the last 6 seconds.
Done a drug: Apart from booze and antibiotics, no.
Made Out: Yup.
Gone on a date: Married – but yes!
Gone to the mall?: Yeah, and I work shifts so it’s not too bad in the week. Chuffing awful at the weekend though.
Eaten an entire box of Oreos?: Nah.
Eaten sushi: Yes.
Been on stage: A small one.
Been dumped: On? Yes. It’s not a good story.
Gone skating: No. And now I want to . . .
Made homemade cookies: You can buy them 6 for a quid at Sainsbury’s.
Gone skinny dipping: Only in the bath.
Dyed your hair: Yeah – grey highlights.
Stolen Anything: Someone’s thunder.
LAYER SEVEN: Ever…
Played a game that required removal of clothing: Yep. S’fun.
Been trashed or extremely intoxicated: I can’t remember. So yes.
Been caught “doing something”: It’s half the fun . . .
Been called a tease: Nah – I deliver.
Gotten beaten up: Yup. Still missing the tooth.
Shoplifted: No. can’t stand thieving.
Changed who you were to fit in: Possibly, although almost subconsciously as I like to think I don’t care what others think of me. But I’m sure I do a bit.
Age you hope to be married: Minus 6 years.
Numbers and Names of Children: 1 – The Little Jules
Describe your Dream Wedding: Kofi Annan squared up against a purple dragon called Phil, and the profiteroles all had eyes!
How do you want to die: Never.
Where you want to go to college: Done it. A few times. No more though.
What do you want to be when you grow up: More sure of myself.
What country would you most like to visit: New Zealand at the moment.
Number of drugs taken illegally: Four – I get a bigger high rockpooling.
Number of people I could trust with my life: 6 – not including a load of mates who are paramedics.
Number of CDs that I own: about 100.
Number of piercings: None - I like to be unusual.
Number of tattoos: None – I like to be unusual.
Number of times my name has appeared in the newspaper?: Quite a few, worryingly.
Number of scars on my body: Half a dozen or so.
Number of things in my past that I regret: Oh sweet baby Santa, the barnet. THE BARNET!
Friday, November 21, 2008
Thursday, November 20, 2008
A couple of days ago we even had some missionaries from America who had decided the UK is a heathen, godless society and, rather than accept my hypothesis that it is all the better for it, a one-way discourse ensued in which they described how much better religious folk were than unbelievers. I wasn't convinced, and pointed this out.
To reiterate their point, they asked me where my morality came from, if not from a higher source. My answer was that it seems to stem from an innate morality derived from evolving as a co-operative species, and is common to most humans, whereas they appear to get theirs from a giant CCTV camera in the sky, where it is only the fear of being caught and the possibility of a reward when they die that prevents them from molesting kittens.
Doesn't sound very moral to me.
They were not open to my opinions, and I was also closed-minded to theirs, but only until they come back and provide some evidence and then I'll cumbaya with the best of them. Until then, I pointed out my car sticker - which says it all really:
From my exerience, religion has far too much of a hold on public life, and influences policies in this country that affect me, which just isn't right. I don't want my taxes used to support churches and pay the wages of mystics with ideas of relevance. Can we request that they keep it private, like other passtimes, and not force their hobbies onto the rest of us?
There. I've said it. Now to wait until the mainstream religious machinery is dismantled around us. I expect it'll take a day or two . . .
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
I mean really:
There's no excuse is there? Not even the jaunty capitals at the beginning of every word can save it. I know it's just a supermarket who's name of The Co-Op will go unmentioned here, but surely there's someone in their (see, not so hard is it?) advertising dept who's got a qualification in Engerlese and might have spotted these before they went out to 3,000 stores across the UK (presumably).
Well they didn't. And their lack of a proper checking procedure has resulted in them being BERATED in a BLOG by someone they've NEVER heard of!
I hope they can sleep tonight.