Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Anniversary weekend - Day time

As our wedding anniversary fell on a Saturday this year we decided to do something nice. We had wanted to go back to Rocksalt for a while, but going all the way to Folkestone just for dinner seemed a bit of a waste of travelling time. So we found a cheap hotel within walking distance with the idea that we could spend Saturday doing something, pop back to the hotel to get ready for dinner and not worry about driving home. Having explored the various tourist options around Folkestone and Dover (and discarding most of them) we decided to book ourselves on a day trip Ferry to Calais as we hadn't actually done this before as a couple.

Saturday morning was an early start with an 8:25 crossing on the Pride of Canterbury. The day didn't get off to the best of starts with Ollie driving my car and hitting some sort of finch type bird as we headed down the A2. Luckily there was no damage to my car (less could be said for the bird) and we arrived at Dover with enough time for a coffee before we boarded the ferry.

Ferries really aren't what they used to be. With us both remembering different features and amenities from our crossings in our youth the Pride of Canterbury was something of a disappointment with the only redeeming feature being relatively inexpensive tea that was half decent considering the UHT milk.

We went to Cite Europe first which was like stepping back into 1995. I got some shorts, a jumper and a scarf in C&A and we had a look around Naf Naf. The shopping centre was really quiet so was nice to wonder around and look in the shops. I got some Delirium beer and a glass to go with it.

We also went to the designer outlet there which was absolutely deserted. Can't really understand why. I managed to find a warm running top so there will be no excuses about not running in the cold!

Then was a visit to Auchen which hadn't changed very much since we were children. We just bought a sandwich for lunch and ate in the car before heading back to Calais for our ferry (Spirit of France). We had seen that P&O had an offer on their club lounge at £6 per person which included a glass of Champagne, all the tea, soft drinks, juice and snacks as you could manage in an hour and a half. Plus access to a very comfy and quiet lounge with it's own deck area.

Monday, March 19, 2018

ATDML virtual crops

Mum and I have been doing the ATDML virtual crops, buying the kits and playing along with the instructions. The first time we did Saturday afternoon as the instructions went live and the next time we were a week behind as I was in Chicago for work.

For January and February we decided to split the kits as we hadn't scrapped for such a long time and didn't know what we would be getting. There has been a lot of head-scratching and negotiating over who got which bits of paper as we both loved all of them so for March we have ordered a set each.

January was very Christmas and winter based which gave me the opportunity to scrap some photos from 2016.

February kits were more spring like so I found some pictures from Liz's hen do and made the single layout into a double as I loved the arrow paper.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018


After leaving all the snow behind in Chicago I did not expect to be plummeted back into it a week or so later. This is definitely the worse snow we have had in Whitstable for a few years and hung around for the whole week.

Ollie managed to get into work all of the week apart from Wednesday when all of his routes were blocked and he gave up and turned around and came home. His 4 wheel drive proved excellent in the snow and he had no problems whatsoever. I went to work on Thursday and had no trouble until I arrived at the work carpark. They hadn't even tried to clear it and my little car couldn't cope with the amount of snow so I had to get out and dig myself a parking space with some help from the security guard.

Eventually seeing how many people had tried to get in they got someone with a Toyota Hilux with a snowplough attachment to come clear it, who didn't do a brilliant job (I still had to dig myself out of my space) so I made a run for it at 2 before we got any more snow. Friday we had freezing rain which was the most bizarre thing ever as it stuck to all the back windows, making it look like we had frosted glass in all the windows.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Work trip to Chicago

I have been at my new job for 10 months and finally had the opportunity to attend a meeting in our head office in Chicago. I set off in a very empty plane on Monday afternoon in premium economy and I couldn't even touch the chair in front when I stuck my legs out.
There were only 12 of us total in economy and premium economy so we were well looked after with multiple drinks offered around.

I got to O'Hare without issue and through immigration. I was hiring a car from Avis and had to catch a bus to their rental place. I had reserved a 'small' vehicle with sat nav. Unfortunately the only vehicle with sat nav that they had when I arrived was a Lincoln Navigator. This can not be described as small even by American car standards.

I plugged the Zip for the hotel into the sat nav and was dismayed to find that it would take me an hour to get to my hotel. I subsequently learned that the settings on the sat nav were set to avoid toll roads and if I had unticked that box it would have only taken 25 minutes. Even with the snowy conditions and driving a tank on the wrong side of the road, I had no problems driving around all week.

The hotel was nice, with large rooms and a decent breakfast selection. Plus it was only a 10 minute drive from the hotel to the office with a good selection of places to eat and a large Walmart. The work side of the trip went really well and I got good feedback for my contributions.

I also managed to get in a bit of shopping time, I visited Michaels and Joann's after work and got a Silhouette Curio and a lot of Tim Holtz.
I was due to come home on the Saturday evening so I spent the day on Saturday at a discount mall. I didn't find any clothes to buy but it was loads of fun walking through the mall, coming across a random ice rink and trying on lots of pairs of jeans (I found one pair that fit that I liked, but they were $72 - way more than I was prepared to spend)
Then it was time to head off to the airport. After a slight detour to fill up the beast with petrol before I returned it. I had some Chicago deep dish pizza for lunch / dinner as I couldn't come all this way and not try any. I have to say it was delicious. The airport had some funky light installations in the underpass.
Just as I arrived at the airport it started to snow heavily and by the time we had boarded the plane there was a good 2 inches of snow on the plane. We had to wait for an hour to be sprayed with de-icer before we were able to take off.

It had been a long week and I was asleep pretty much as soon as we were in the air and slept for most of the journey home.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Football - a win and a decent game

Saturday morning saw us scrubbing the house as we had time to fill before the football. I also packaged up and organised postage for some bits we were returning to online shops and the old saucepans that I had sold on eBay. Unfortunately My Hermes decided that they didn't like how my box was, you know, box shaped and that it would be much better looking like it had been run over. This dented one of the saucepans and now I have to go through the hassle of doing a damage claim.

The afternoon saw another trek up to Wembley, this time it was my turn to drive. We arrived early as usual, but not as early as we have been for the midweek games and it was really busy. The mean lady at security made me take my old collection of bag stickers off and threw them in the bin.

We actually saw a pretty good game with us beating Everton 4 - 0. This raised our goal difference enough that if Man City beat Liverpool we would go above them in the table. Unfortunately that game was 4-3 to Liverpool but was an absolute cracker, ending City's unbeaten run for the season.

Monday, January 08, 2018

Sunday Warhammer, baking and games night

Sunday morning saw the last of our group Warhammer games before Nigel goes back to sea. There was no Tom, and Nigel couldn't get to ours until 10 so Ollie sat out so he could get some chores done and Nigel and I played a 50 point objective mission game.

It was a close game and at 1 point I thought I was going to loose miserably. However, I got a bit lucky with my objective cards and picked up one for my warlord that I managed to achieve giving me 6 points in one go. I finally got my new hand to hand guys into a fight in the last round and they were really effective.

Nigel managed to loose Samuel fairly early on (as usual) but at least this time he didn't blow himself up.

In the afternoon I baked healthy chocolate brownies for dinner, some for Ollie's lunchbox and a coffee cake for after dinner snacks for this week along with mushroom puffs for lunch.

At 4pm we headed over to the Farenden's for dinner and games. We played who's the dude first while Kiera watched cartoons. She was coming down with a cough so was feeling very sorry for herself. We had fajitas for dinner which were very tasty and then after Kiera had gone to bed we started a game of Catan. I got to pick the version so we played one with fish that we hadn't done before. It gave an interesting element to the game, but my strategy didn't pay off and it was pretty clear from early on that I wasn't going to win. Nigel emerged victorious which made up a bit for his early Warhammer defeat!

Saturday loft challenge

I've been wanting to get up in the loft and sort it out for ages. It was on my jobs list for our week off in December, but we couldn't quite fit it in with all the other things going on. As we didn't have any football on this weekend and no firm plans we decided now was as good a time to start as any.

Ollie devised a plan that would involve minimal disruption to the rest of the house, namely we (I) would create a space in the loft by throwing some very obviously rubbish large things away. I could then put the things we were definately keeping that didn't need much sorting out in the created space, creating more space to sort more stuff out (following so far?)

So I started by passing down a load of random bits that were quite obviously things that should have just been thrown in the bin in the first place (rusty tins, old accounting textbooks long out of date, the shower attachment for bath taps, the attachments for the exercise machine that got thrown out 3 months ago, 8 old used lumpy pillows!).

Then we started on duvet mountain. I had 5 duvets in the loft plus the 2 boxes for the duvets that are currently residing on our bed and the spare bed. That included 2 very old and cheap 12.5 tog duvets and a 13 tog duvet. Now I can't remember the last time we went higher than a 7.5 tog duvet and I think the 7.5 only stayed on the bed for 4 days when we had a particularly heavy frost. 3 duvets went to the recycling along with the old spare bed and matress that had bits missing.

After duvets was backpacks. I really should throw the old broken ones away when I get a new one rather than sticking it in the loft. I think I found 8 old ones up there.

Then it was the turn of the empty box stash. We keep all the empty packaging boxes for pretty much everything we buy because you don't know a) if you will need to send it back and b) if you upgrade and sell on ebay you get much more for it (and it's easier to post) if you have the original packaging. Still, we managed to fill the whole of my car with empty boxes (after i broke them all down) for things that we either don't have anymore or we aren't going to upgrade or sell in the future.

3 trips to the tip later it was 4pm and I finally have a walkway down the centre of the loft with a large section that has been sorted. Unfortunately there is still a LOT left to sort out but it's a start.

The evening was met with a well deserved G&T, I cooked tapas including green sauce and canarian potatoes and we watched the Edge of Tomorrow which was really just Groundhog Day with Tom Cruise and aliens instead of Tom Hanks and a groundhog.

Friday, January 05, 2018

Blog resurrection

I recently signed into Chrome on my work laptop. This installed all of my bookmarks from about 5 years ago when I stopped using the PC at home and switched to my ipad. One of these was the link to my blog.

I re-read all my past entries, had a laugh and then thought that it was a really good idea and I should start doing it again. I had completely forgotten half of the stuff that we had done back then.

So expect more of the same in the future, more DIY, funny antics and maybe even the odd craft project or two.