Friday, 30 December 2011

My main bug bear of 2011

Is not the strung out downfall of Silvio B and his belief that Italy was - contrary to statistics - in a buoyant state of affairs, quoting, "The life in Italy is the life of a wealthy country: consumptions haven't diminished, it's hard to find seats on planes, our restaurants are full of people." I suppose if all your monetary assets are held in private Swiss bank or intricate tax haven accounts, then your country's demise is barely worth a glimpse, right?

It is not the rampant rate of inflation in the UK that leaves me some £23 out of pocket when all I popped to the shops for was a litre of milk. Okay, so I got a bit distracted in the supermarket but I swear those chocolate florentine biscuits were looking so lonely on the shelf they just jumped into my basket. Possibly with that bottle of New Zealand sauvignon blanc. Oh, look! Two bottles. How did that happen?

It is not the lack of a summer proper in Blighty. Again. Fair enough, so April was glorious and October was hotter than it should have been but what about June, July and August? Pathetic. I mean, what do you say to visitors coming from abroad? "Bring your fleeces and your macs, we are having a touch of unseasonal weather. Just like last year. And the one before. And before that..."

And it is not even the knock-on effects of budget cuts at the BBC that saw Strictly Come Dancing resort to cheap tricks (home-grown video training diaries, anyone?), increasingly bad gaffes (time for Brucie to retire, methinks), and distressingly poor wardrobe attire for female presenters and dancers (Tess Daly, Chelseeeeeee Whatserface Bouncyboobs, Nancy Oily Trollop - choose any).

No. Not at all. As if I would be that flippant. Pah.

My main bug bear of 2011 is... *drum roll please*... poor quality beds in holiday lets!

Because, let's face it, when you pay out good money for a 'comfortable' cottage or holiday rental property, the very least you expect is to get a decent night's sleep. Not one that leaves you crippled in the morning, unable to stand upright, let alone so poorly that even the dust mites play havoc and result in this:

And it's not just the UK that fails in this regard. Over the past years I have endured poor quality (and consequently back-ache inducing) mattresses in Spain, Italy, Mexico, Brazil, Australia, France, New Zealand... the list goes on.

Enough, I say! Forget the London Olympics, the Diamond Jubilee, the US presidential elections, or even the forthcoming new James Bond film (okay, maybe not this last one), I hereby nominate 2012 as the year to be vocal about bad beds and mattresses in rented accommodation.

Don't say, when asked for feedback, "Oh yes, it was lovely, thank you!"
Say, "No it was bloody awful and I will be sending you the bill for my trip to the osteopath to sort my back out!"

Don't say, when filling out the post-visit questionnaire, "Really enjoyed our stay, very comfortable, would recommend to others."
Say, "I appear to have developed a permanent kink in my spine accompanied by spasms which whilst very distressing are providing entertainment for the children as they 'practice' massage techniques on their mother."

So. The movement kicks off January 1st, 2012.
It will be called the 'Ban Bad Beds' aka 'name and shame holiday rentals into the provision of better quality sleeping arrangements'.
Of course, it goes without saying that the good providers will also be named and praised.

Who's in?


Sunday, 18 December 2011

Random (winter) rambling conversations with my training partner

You would think - given the change of seasons and the slight 'winding down' that ensues - that our communiqués would let up somewhat.

Not so.

Text messages.
LCM - Resigned. Formal notice just gone out. On garden leave from end of this week.
BB - Garden leave? Serious training leave :-)
LCM - Possibly. No fun without you :-(

Following week. Late (very late) Saturday evening.
BB - Early bike ride tomorrow by any chance??
LCM - Would have to be at 7.30am latest as rugby calling after and need to be ready to leave before 9? Will be knocking on your door sharpish so be ready to go!

Sunday morning. BB's house.
BB - "Look, I am ready! See? Isn't that good of me? Let's go!
LCM (impressed) - "Excellent!"
They mount bikes and set off. BB stops.
LCM - "What now?"
BB (looking down at feet clad in trainers, not cleat-ins) - "Oops. Wrong shoes."

A few days later.
LCM - Just back from ride round Richmond Park. So foggy could barely see ahead until I realised most of it was condensation on my glasses.

Following weekend. Sunday morning.
BB - Going for a run now. Are you at rugby?
LCM - Yes. Currently running around pitch wearing a moustache. Most fetching.
BB - Why?
LCM - Disguise.

Email inbox:
"YOU HAVE 48 HOURS TO GUARANTEE YOUR PLACE for the London Triathlon 2012!"
LCM (reads and thinks to herself) - I will just ignore that and pretend I never saw it.

Later that same day, email inbox.
BB - Re London Triathlon 2012, what are we doing about this?????
LCM - Absolutely nothing. I really draw the line at swimming in the docks.
BB (silence)
LCM (thinks to herself) - That crazy Brazilian would never just enrol me without asking, would she?

A few days later, via email.
"Enter London's premier 10k and stay motivated over the winter!"
LCM (reads and thinks to herself) - Uh oh. Here we go again. How long before _

Computer beeps. New message in inbox.
BB - Re London premier 10k, what do you think? Though the state of my back suggests it is a bad idea, I am sure I'll be better by May 2012.
LCM - You do realise this is the day after the Dorney Super Sprint triathlon?
BB - Oops. Maybe not.

At the school Christmas fair.

LCM - I am manning your cake stall!
BB - I am running there...
LCM - Not fast enough! Lack of training?


Sunday, 11 December 2011

Ho ho ho, it's that bloody time of year. Again.

Yes folks, the enforced spirit of joviality and one-upmanship is again upon us. Let us rejoice in spending money we do not have, on items we do not want, for people we do not necessarily care about (but whom we might "meet up with in 2012", even though we have not seen nor heard from them since 1998), and passing time with family members who cannot be avoided (duty and all that), eating and drinking more than is ever good for us, wishing we were somewhere hot and sunny and free of rubbish TV re-runs, all in the name of the birth of the Baby Cheeses.

And in that spirit, I give you the updated version of the LCM yearly circular, last viewed here and here.

Dear family, friends, plebs, hangers-on and wannabes

This has been a year of austerity. It is not just the embattled Eurozone countries who have been feeling the pinch, with the vultures hovering overhead ready to hone in for the kill. The LCM household has also had to watch its purse strings and pull its belt in another notch or so. Tough times call for tough measures, although I like to think that one person's misfortune is another's opportunity. Or something like that.

So - we had to do away with our cleaner and replace her with a more affordable option. I fortuitously came across a sweet older man who goes by the name of Dominique, or DSK, as he prefers to be called. Quite serious, a good worker, although he had a penchant for pouncing unawares from behind doors, scaring the living daylights out of me a couple of times until I sorted him by leaving some random pieces of the kids' Lego on the floor. Since treading on these in his stockinged feet, it has no longer been an issue.
I also made him wear a bell round his neck. Better than any sat nav app.

Food shopping has also been affected. With the cost of the Ocado delivery pass increasing, I took matters into my own hands. Some negotiations later I found myself at the helm of a lemon van, delivering my own groceries. Now this would have worked well had it not been the issue with neighbours who took exception to the bright yellow vehicle blocking their driveway for a week whilst the local constabulary kept themselves busy with documentation establishing rightful ownership and clamping rights before the sodding thing was finally towed away. So much for free enterprise and upholding the spirit of the bold.

Speaking of vehicles, the LCM household has had to do away with cars this year. We all converted to Boris bikes and applied for a permanent rack outside the house. Again, a few troubles with the neighbours who objected to the volume of traffic on their front door and their lawn being trampled. When I pointed out that they should join in and not be such moaning minnies, they took exception and reported us to the local authority for breach of planning permissions. I have passed this on to dear Zac who, given his environmental credentials, will - I am sure - be keen to fight our corner for us.

The children have also made some sacrifices this year. As we could not afford to buy new rugby boots all round, we have resorted to introducing new tactics in to the game based on sharing footwear. These consist of wearing only one boot at a time and hopping down the field at speed to score a try. The aim is to see how high you can jump over the opposition, not how far you can run through their defence. It may take a while to convince others, but we are sure that the RFU will support our efforts in the name of austerity.

Back on the home front, the cycling turbo trainer purchased for OH last year is proving very useful. We now have a twenty-four hour rota marked up for all family members - and friends and relatives, when visiting - to partake in a daily session to help generate power. Our heating bills have been curtailed enormously, although this may be down to the decreasing number of people coming to stay with us. They have assured me it has nothing to do with our efficiency drive, but I am doubtful.

And on that note, can I wish you all a terrific 2012. May the austere times make better people of everyone. I know they will of us.

As they say in Hounslow - laters!


Yeah, yeah, yeah - sodding cap and bleedin' fake snowman,
plus there's a blizzard in the office as well now! Gah!


Thursday, 1 December 2011

What the eye sees - the mish-mash version

It has been a very busy few weeks. Not only does setting up your own company take time and effort, when something on the technical front goes awry, you cannot just pick up the phone and call the IT department.

I am the IT department.

So, enough about the work front, let's focus on something else that has been amiss of late.
Random photos and commentary, anyone? Yep, I see the show of hands, especially Mrs Woog's.
Woogie baby, this one's for you.

Here we go. Bear with me, they have been collated over a period of a few months. It has been that long since the last time.

I had forgotten about this one, taken in Rome back in late July.
I would like to draw your attention to the sartorial elegance of the tourist passing the building site of the very up-market and classy Hermés. I am particularly impressed with the over-the-shoulder moob holder.
Oh, wait, hang on. That's a camera strap.
Naughty LCM. Say ten Hail Mary in penitence. You were in the Holy City after all.

Uhmmm... Herpes? Who'd shop there?
This woman however is to be commended for her hair and outfit colour coordination. Who knew that Cruella de Vil had a sense of humour?


And this, well... I have no idea what those things on her legs are.
Leg warmers? Zip-up socks? Compression tights? Disguise for hair-removal failure? And what is it with the knitted jersey thingy 'doubling' as a dress (of sorts, I use the term very loosely)?

I need these things on my legs to distract attention because when
I stand up my crocheted top barely covers my lady garden
Now, before you start hurtling the usual accusations about showing photos and not disguising faces, let me state for the record that these two young things were already being photographed by someone with a proper camera. I just took advantage of them posing. I was merely intrigued by the blonde's footwear, especially as she had barely managed to stagger up the escalator in front of me. And no, she was not drunk.
At least I don't think she was. I did not engage in conversation to assess if she was slurring her words.

Blonde - I'm taller than you
Brunette - Not if you topple from that height
Finally, the piéce de résistance: the thigh high denim boots. I am always wondering what drives people to purchase (let alone wear) such peculiar footwear. 

I may be wearing a very bad wig which keeps on shifting on my head,
but my legs are something else, baby!

I even attempted to chase her down to ask her but she was way too fast... as the blurry image below testifies.

Eat my dust

Right. Back to business plans and technology wotsits.


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