Port De Soller Mallorca

Port De Soller Mallorca

Monday, 31 December 2012

A Ramble

Well, 2012 is just about over and we, Ishbel and me, are ending it, the way it began,with 6 year olds Charlie and Holly, of course last year they were 5. There cousin, Mollie, 9, going on 10 is still the petite and most gorgeous creature on the planet, as are all of our grand kids. O.K. I'm biased but we were just talking about this recently, Mollie and me.

It was her, she started it,and it was about three weeks ago, the telly was on in the corner but it was just being used for music, music and books that's the big things in our extended family, sure we like certain TV shows and movies, but music and books are the main attention grabbers with all of us.

So, anyway the music was playing through the big box in the corner and after a while the picture of what is playing defaults to a random slide show of the photographs on my computer and comments were being passed to and fro about the various stages of growth when Mollie turned to me and said, "Grand dad, was I a beautiful baby?" We'll, before I can answer grandma chirps in with a, "of course you were darling, all babies are beautiful"

But Mollie knows her granddad and turns back to me with those enormous and beautiful brown eyes and says, "Well granddad, was I" Now what can one say to a 9 year old girl when asked that question, but answer truthfully.

"Off course you were my darling, you were one of the most beautiful babies ever born, well at least for the first couple of weeks, but then like most babies you turned into an ugly pumpkin, in fact one of the ugliest" Mollies reaction to this was, "Oh grandad!" And her 6 year old sister Shannon sniggered and laughed until I told her that she was even uglier and truth be told she was, she really was.....

Then of course there is Charlie and Holly separated from Shannon by a couple of weeks, they weren't too ugly when they were born and I think the fact that Holly had to be placed in an incubator with all those wires and attachments seemed to make her look so beautiful, but once again they older they got the uglier they became but as with all four of them, somewhere between pre school and school, they seemed to blossom turning into beautiful little people. People with personalities, people with thoughts of their own, able to converse and read and take on things that are happening around them.

Last Sunday, Holly and I were in the car on our own on our way to pick up grandma and as usual the gramophone needle she has been infected with just keeps going and going and she was telling me all sorts of things when suddenly she started telling me about the children who were the same age as her who had been shot in America! What! She is 6 and she wants to talk about Sandy Hook.

I have to admit I was thrown and stuttered, I don't stutter, ever. But this made me miss a beat. So I asked what she knew. She replied that her and Charlie had been in the car with mummy when it came on the news that a bad man had broken into a school like theirs and shot a lot of the children! I asked her how that made her feel. She said it made her "feel sad as Santa would probably already have their presents in his sack and they won't get them and their mummies and daddies will be sad too. Once again I have to admit to being a little thrown by the turn the in the conversation and just as I was preparing to give a profound reply, we had arrived outside the department store grandma works in and Holly says, "Where is she?"

Ah the sweet refrain, in this case, for me at least, of safety. I don't know what I would have said to Holly on that subject as I certainly couldn't repeat what I and others had been saying in the office about the person who did this and the stupidity of the laws in America that allow you to buy a gun with very little background checks, or of a country that has so many guns that even if you are not allowed to buy one, you seemingly can easily obtain one along with super magazines to hold extra bullets to allow you to kill more people or children with one squeeze of the finger, but you can't buy a kinder egg as it has been deemed unsafe and a child may choke on the small toy inside the chocolate egg! Merry Christmas to the NRA then for their continued obstinacy on gun ownership.

We had a visit in September from Julia R Barrett and Oscar from California. Friends we made on Twitter, it was a fleeting visit but highly enjoyable and cemented our friendship or at least Ishbel and I hope it did. Oscar has promised that if we ever manage to get out there to visit that he will be taking me to watch the San Francisco Giants Baseball team in action, their home team. Julia and another Twitter friend Tim, TWDitmer, seem to have a bit of a grudge fight going on over their respective teams and the conversations are funny to observe as they discuss live, the merits of their respective teams as they play bat and ball..... Bless

Twitter has brought so many people into our lives this year, far to many to mention but a few special ones are;

Wee Mickey, Michael Hicks
Julian Stockwin
ChefJohn Malik

and so many more and Marylin Warner who is not on Twitter but always has a kind word, even for an old fart like me, through the medium of her blog which can be found at:  Things I want to tell my Mother

Oh, we went up to Inverness at the beginning of December (I know, still no blog..... There is a draft in here some where) for our niece Sarah's wedding to young Mark Surherland. David and Jill, Sarah's mum and dad gave them and us, a perfect day, weather wasn't great but then it was December, but it did stay dry for the occasion and the reception and party after, just hit the right note. We wish them many happy years together as a married couple to add to the seven they have already been together.

I hit a bit of a hiatus in September too after Julia and Oscar left, nothing to do with them, work related and it can be seen in the number of blog posts I had been writing prior to that, in double figures every month up to then, and then barely in single figures. Still recovering from that but really hoping that 2013, as we do for every year, turns out to be better than the last, for all of us.

Politicians and politics have been getting right up my nose this year but I haven't really even been able to find the where with all to even berate them on my blog. In many respects I think it has been a case of, 'well, you ignore us and do what the hell you are going to do anyway, regardless of what the majority thinks, so I have been ignoring them, which is not good. But even political commentators on twitter are largely as bad as the politicians themselves bad mouthing the other party for things that they do ignoring the fact that the party they support, do the same things, but it's OK when they do, cos we support you. One guy this week was whingeing on about the number of Conservative party donors who were awarded honours in the New Years list, but what about the number of Labour Party donors who get the same honours when Labour is in power; hypocritical dick heads, all of them and they wonder why we are sickened by them all! Even one of my favs in the Labour Party Diane Abbot was having a go this week about biscuits of all things - give it a bloody rest will you ....

Oh, Got a surprise comment on one of my recent blogs from Rob McMeekin, a name from my past who hopefully will be in touch again soon.  One of the Nicest, Most Helpful, Well Mannered Men on the planet and my good fortune to have been acquainted with and I suspect the good fortune of everyone he comes into contact with #TOPMAN

So, anyway this has just been a wee ramble and I hope not too depressing and all it remains is for Ishbel and me to wish you all;

A Happy New Year 

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Book Review: Zombies take Manhattan! by Marina Bridges

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I purchased this book on a whim and because it was recommended by one of my favourite Twitter buddies JW Manus, who also just happens to be the 'Obsessanator' on the subject of ebooks and who coincidentally also happened to be the editor of the book...... Having said all that, while I am a huge fan of George Romero I have yet to actually see any other Zombie movie or TV show that has lived up to the high expectations that he gave to us all those years ago, and, I don't think I have actually read any Zombie literature, prior to this one.  So, all in all it was a leap of faith on my part.....

Was it a leap that ended in an agonising fall, no, not really. It was a leap into the unexpected that left me amused and glad that I had taken the chance.

The book, as you can see from the cover opposite is billed as, 'short stories' by Marina, but I would argue that it is one story and not 5 as billed.  Probably a minor disagreement between me, the author and editor on what is a novel and what is a a collection of short stories.  I suppose in one sense that as the 'story' progressed from it's starting point in Coney Island into the city and Manhattan and then finally back to Coney Island at it's conclusion and that new characters were introduced in 'chapters 1 through three, I would call it a novella and not a collection of shorts, but who am I to argue with the author and the editor?

I suppose, as each 'chapter' had it's own title and was therefore a 'short'  this might explain my one 'big' gripe with the book.    Wheel of Wonder Chapter one takes up 17% of the book, That's almost a quarter of it, and my gripe, well, it was just one long never ending chapter with no natural breaks or pauses to rest.   You just had to keep going and going and going and it almost seemed never ending.  I really don't care how well a book is written or how engaging the story is, you need to have natural breaks, if for no other reason than to rest your eyes, rest your mind, go to the loo, make a cup of coffee and grab a couple of digestive biscuits to dunk in said coffee; but alas there were none.  Same with Chapter 2 , 17% through to 35% no breaks, no pauses, but then we got three in chapter 3 and then no more.......  It may just be me  and I may be the only one to have picked up on this, if so, sorry, but then this is my review and I have to call it as I see it.

But, the story,  I LOVED IT!  It was quirky, it was funny, it was harrowing.

----------------some spoilers----------------

Pitkin an ex NYC Cop now a rent-a-cop on Coney Island finds trouble on his first day as a Zombie outbreak hits the amusement park. After taking refuge in the Wheel of Wonder with two of the parks finest 'attractions' the bearded lady being one it looks as if he might escape the carnage as the wheel keeps sending him up to view the carnage taking place all around.  As the operator is attacked by Zombies and the Wheel is going at a fair lick any blue hue'd Zombies getting in the way are bowled over but weight of numbers begin to tell.

As the outbreak spreads we find ourselves in Times Square   where locals and tourists are soon hemmed in by the Army and the Police and from there on in it is a roller coaster of a ride as a few hardy and disparate locals try and survive the carnage. bringing out the best and worst, as one would expect in these circumstances, in the survivors.

I don't want to give too much away and as I said it is not my usual reading fayre, and apart from my gripe about the breaks I did find it engaging. Pitkin, you wanted to see dying horribly, Chris, sweet Chris well you just want her to survive, I thought about that movie with Edward Norton and the kerb stone and the boot on the back of the neck, oh dear.   T-Bird, needed a slap a really big time slap and Parker you just knew was going to be an anti hero....  Moira, if I was her husband I would have thrown her to the Zombies at the beginning along with 'the baby' Chrissie.....   and as for that tit Steve, well what goes around comes around

This book is so cheap, it is a steal go on get it, you know you want to ...... oh and as a bonus there is a wee short story from Jaye Manus, The devil His Due, tagged on at the end about one of the Devils 'Soul Collectors' that had a twist in the tale which was funny and intriguing , so 'two' books for the price of one.....

Editing for Kindle: 4 out 5
Reading Enjoyment: 3 out of 5 see gripe above
Plot: 5 out of 5
Overall Rating: 5 out of 5
No of Pages: 143
Chapters: 5

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Standing in Another Man's Grave: A John Rebus Novel by Ian Rankin

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John Rebus, Inspector of Lothians and Borders Constabulary: Retired.... And we missed him, but Mr Rankin has saw sense and resurrected an old style copper, not one who breaks the rules, but instead bends them back on themselves if it is going to get the right result -  a 20th Century Copper who, some think, has no business in the 21st Century.

On the other hand if you are a reader of crime fiction, Rebus is. exactly what you want! A dog with a bone who won't let go, even if some of the places he ends up; no self respecting dog would want to be seen, especially when The Complaints are breathing down your collar again just waiting for the moment when they can pull the leash tight and hang you out to dry.

DI Rebus is retired but back at Lothian and Borders Police in the SCRU looking into unsolved crimes when he has a chance encounter with the mother of a missing daughter who believes that her daughter is also linked to a number of other disappearances on the A9 trunk road between Perth and Inverness (how I hate that bloody road - well not the road but the politicians who .... another blog post maybe) but none of the Police forces in Scotland have made the connection before.

This is another parent who can't and won't close the book on her daughters disappearance and move on with her life.  Rebus is, as he was in the past, non committal, but takes a look anyway and as it turns out was both bad and good for the mother - never ask for a stone to be upturned if you already know what dirt is underneath it waiting to be uncovered  .........

Is it possible that up to 5 women have been abducted and murdered, and no one has made the connection? Has Scotland got a serial killer, and can a retired dinosaur crack the case?   Rebus is back in the mix with Siobhan Clark, his old Sergeant, now a DI and working out of the station on Gayfield again.  He is up and down that A9 like a yo yo and lo and behold not only is Siobhan back, but so is Rebus's old SAAB but by the sounds of it wearing a lot better than him in semi retirement.

Rankin hasn't lost his touch with Rebus, he is his usual cynical self, but there is an underlying maturity towards Siobhan in not wanting to completely drop her in it, although at times he doesn't always manage this.  The Complaints are on his tail but especially as he still seems to be rather cosy with the Edinburgh bad boy fraternity and there is no convincing them that he is anything but dirty and doesn't belong in a Police station, unless of course he is locked up.....    

He still has issues with his daughter, but .....

This was a great re-introduction to Rebus, and with the retirement age being changed since he left, he has the papers in front of him to get back in, but will he, and, will Rankin take the chance? I for one hope that he does give us more of Rebus, even if he doesn't make it back onto the force and gets a new warrant card.... Welcome Back, John

Editing for Kindle: 5 out 5
Reading Enjoyment: 5 out of 5
Plot: 5 out of 5
Overall Rating: 5 out of 5
No of Pages: 363
Chapters: 69 

Friday, 21 December 2012

It's Christmas, enjoy!

Pre-Christmas health tips for busy people

Before Christmas is a good time to take stock of our lifestyle.
These 9 ½ questions will ensure that will make the right health choices (From a Japanese Doctor who appears an expert).

Q: Doctor, I've heard that cardiovascular exercise can prolong
life. Is this true?

A: Heart only good for so many beats, and that it... Don't waste
on exercise. Everything wear out eventually. Speeding up heart not make
you live longer; it like saying you extend life of car by driving
faster. Want to live longer? Take nap.

Q: Should I reduce my alcohol intake?

A: Oh no. Wine made from fruit. Fruit very good. Brandy distilled
wine, that mean they take water out of fruity bit so you get even more
of goodness that way. Beer also made of grain. Grain good too. Bottom

Q: How can I calculate my body/fat ratio?

A: Well, if you have body and you have fat, your ratio one to one.
If you have two body, your ratio two to one.

Q: What are some of the advantages of participating in a regular
exercise program?

A: Can't think of one, sorry. My philosophy: No pain...good!

Q: Aren't fried foods bad for you?

A: YOU NOT LISTENING! Food fried in vegetable oil. How getting
more vegetable be bad?

Q : Will sit-ups help prevent me from getting a little soft around
the middle?

A: Oh no! When you exercise muscle, it get bigger. You should only
be doing sit-up if you want bigger stomach.

Q: Is chocolate bad for me?

A: You crazy?!? HEL-LO-O!! Cocoa bean! Another vegetable! It best
feel-good food around!

Q: Is swimming good for your figure?

A: If swimming good for figure, explain whale to me.

Q: Is getting in shape important for my lifestyle?

A: Hey! 'Round' is shape!

Well... I hope this has cleared up any misconceptions you may have
had about food and diets.

And remember:

Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of
arriving safely in an attractive and well-preserved body, but rather to
skid in sideways - Chardonnay in one hand - chocolate in the other -
body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming "WOO-HOO, what
a ride!!"


For those of you who watch what you eat, here's the final word on
nutrition and health. It's a relief to know the truth after all those
conflicting nutritional studies.

1. The Japanese eat very little fat and suffer fewer heart attacks
than Brits.

2. The Mexicans eat a lot of fat and suffer fewer heart attacks
than Brits.

3. The Chinese drink very little red wine and suffer fewer heart
attacks than Brits.

4. The Italians drink a lot of red wine and suffer fewer heart
attacks than Brits.

5. The Germans drink a lot of beer and eat lots of sausages and
fats and suffer fewer heart attacks than Brits.

CONCLUSION: Eat and drink what you like. Speaking English is
apparently what kills you

Merry Christmas


Wednesday, 19 December 2012

50 shades of ...

For Julia, Penny and Jaye as they 'loved the original so much..........

My missus bought a paperback
In Asda/Walmart Saturday,
I had a look inside the bag
T'was "Fifty Shades of Grey"
Well I just left her to it, see,
And went off up to bed
An hour later, she appeared
Oh the sight filled me with dread!
In her hand she held a rope
The other, held a whip!
She brandished them around a bit
And then began to strip?.
Well forty years or so, ago,
I might have had a peek
But Doris hasn't weathered well
She's sixty-eight next week.
Watching Doris bump and grind
Couldn't be much grimmer?
And things progressed from bad to worse
She toppled off her Zimmer !
She struggled back up to her feet,
A good half hour later,
Put her teeth back in and said
That I must dominate her !!!
Now if you knew our Doris, see,
You'd know just why I cringed.
I'd been two months in traction, cos
My hips and knees unhinged.
She stood there nude. All naked, like,
Bent forward quite a bit?. and
Jumping back in fright I went
And stood on her left tit.
Doris screamed, her teeth shot out,
My word. What HAD I done ?
She moaned and groaned then shouted out
"Step on the OTHER one !!!"
Well reader, I can tell no more
About what occurred that day.
Suffice to say, my dark brown hair,
Turned fifty shades of grey.
Black and blue, battered too,
With wanton, wild perversion,
We decided that a night of sin
Was scarce worth such exertion.
Thank Heavens she has binned the book
And peace reigns, like before.
She's head to toe in winceyette
And back to back, we snore???...

courtesy of Tony Watkins

Saturday, 15 December 2012

A woman who doesn't like to shop!

I have told you that Ishbel and I have been married for 35 years, 36 come next April, and before that we were engaged for a year or so, so all in all we have been together for a while yes, yes, I can feel your sympathies for my plight pouring in over the interweb thingy as you read this, how dreadful for poor Tom I hear you thinking,.....

Well, it hasn't been all bad and when I hear some guys moaning on about the monies their other half has spent on clothes, again; I smile inwardly and think of Ishbel....

I will be doing a post on our nieces wedding that we attended in Inverness at the beginning of the month in the next day or two, I know I promised this last week but hey I'm busy so you will just need to put on your Mr Patience coat and hang about, don't worry I'll let you know when it happens....

Anyway, a wedding a BIG OCCASION for the bride and  groom, no doubt about that but almost as big for the guests as well. It's a time to get together with family and friends, some of whom you haven't seen in ages, some of whom you have never met and so you are making up for lost time with those who you know and getting to know those you are meeting for the first time and of course being a BIG OCCASION, you want to do this in STYLE.

So what do most women do, well it's obvious isn't it they go shopping and Ishbel is no different to the rest of you women out there, she goes too, the only difference is that she goes shopping, spends half a day in the local mall and comes home with sore feet and no shopping bags!  Ridiculous I know but there you go.  It's always the same.

Me, What did you get?
Ishbel. You know what, I think I did every fashion shop in there and couldn't find a thing.
Me, Really
Ishbel, Yes, it's ridiculous, all those shops and they have nothing worth buying...
Me, But, what are you going to wear to the wedding then?
Ishbel, I'm sure there will be something in the wardrobe I can wear....

Me, thinking I am sure there is but keep my mouth shut

The thing is, it's always been the same with her and I'm not complaining but it does get me wondering that I have married a woman with a serious defect in her genes, what do you all think....

Oh, just as an aside on the Thursday before the wedding I popped into the same mall to drop Ishbel of at work in the evening.  I then went into the same mall and twenty minutes later - so that's ten minutes doing the shopping, 5 to the shop and 5 back to where Ishbel works-  I turned up at her workplace in the men's suits department of the store she works in and said would this be suitable for the wedding ...

I was walking past the Monsoon window and this caught my eye so I went in and with the help of a delightful lady inside the store I came away with a dress, a clutch bag, a bolero jacket and a scarf, the shoes I passed on as Ishbel doesn't do heels....

And another thing, over 36 years I have bought the odd bit of jewellery for her, she has diamonds and sapphires  pearls, ruby's and god knows what,  in rings, in bracelets in necklaces and in earings, all matching stuff, does she wear any of this, NO, she wears a little bracelet that one of the grandkids made her and an Energy Muse necklace gifted to her from our dearest twitter friends Julia and Oscar, who visited a few months ago from California, and which she hasn't had off from round her neck since she was given it.  Nothing against it or Jules for giving it her but what the hell am I doing buying her all that other stuff for, I ask you ......

so what do you think

How can you not find anything to buy on half a day and I can do it in 10 minutes what's going on.....

Book Review: Betrayal by Julian Stockwin

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Betrayal, 13th in the Kydd series and not at all an unlucky number and, like the previous 12, a stand alone read. I read this in hard cover format and while I do love my Kindle proper and kindle app on the iPad, it really was a delight to get back to print and doubly so when you know you are in for a great read...

Stockwin doesn't disappoint. He is not troubled by the problem some other authors suffer from in writing a series with continuing characters and in trying to keep them engaged in interesting story lines that will draw the reader in to the world the characters inhabit. Writing 'historical fiction' and drawing on real events to give us a lesson in British history. It is a history, that we may not always be proud of, but what there can be no doubt of, is that there were men of valour and bravery who went out, on behalf of their country and King, and did what was needed of them to protect and extend the 'empire' and who fitted into their time perfectly.

Kydd and the crew of HMS L'Aurore, a thirty two gun Frigate were one such band of men, men who were fiercely loyal to their Captain, their ship, their shipmates and their Country and when called upon to do their duty, would do so with guts and dorryng do....

Having won the battle to wrest the Cape from the Dutch as told in Conquest Kydd, along with the rest of the fleet and indeed the Army, find themselves in a bit of a hiatus with little to do when Commodore Popham puts to him a plan to sail to the South American continent and take the Spanish colonies from Spain.  There are no orders for this and if they embark on the mission they could face a Courts Martial for leaving their post, but, if they do and they can pull it off, the riches to be gained for the country which is still reeling from the cost of the Napoleonic wars, could save them and the country.  Can it be done or does the title of the book suggest failure....?  Do you know your history, I had no idea that we had invaded the Southern American countries , but we did and not just once, and this is the wonderful thing about Mr Stockwin, he takes our history and gives it back to us in almost, I am sure, as dramatic a fashion as it occurred at the time.  People coming up with fantastical ideas, knowing that they are going to be outnumbered and with no supply lines for material, food or reserve forces, and then leap across the world in sailing ships to put the plan into action.

This was another page turner from a Sailor who knows his craft both in terms of Sailing ships of old and in storytelling.  His introduction of characters both old and new is eloquent and enlightening, you end up checking wikipedia and other sources, not to catch him out but because he, through his story telling just ends up making you want to know more about those times, and the people who forged our history for good or for bad it is our history and brought to us in a most enjoyable way.

Editing for Kindle: Read in Hardback
Reading Enjoyment: 5 out of 5
Plot: 5 out of 5
Overall Rating: 5 out of 5
No of Pages: 365 plus 2 page Glossary*
Chapters: 16

* I note in the hardback that the Glossary is at the end of the book, which I fully understand, in print, is where it normally is, BUT, as I am forever pointing out if this is in the same place on the Kindle edition - NOT GOOD.  It should be at the front of the Kindle edition for the simple reason of, if the reader is reading it and refers to the glossary at any time the device will always revert to the Glossary if the reader loses his/her place and utilises the 'go to last page read' option to find where they left off. Irritation beyond belief then kicks in for the reader!

You can connect with Mr Stockwin at: http://www.julianstockwin.com/ and on twitter @julianstockwin

Monday, 3 December 2012

still in the Doldrums, but.......

Still in the doldrums, but just to keep you (Jules in particular) ticking over, here's another of those rubbish stories for you......

A bloke's wife goes missing while diving off the West Australian Coast .

He reports the event, searches fruitlessly and spends a terrible night
wondering what could have happened to her.

Next morning there's a knock at the door and he is confronted by a
couple of policemen, the old Sarge and a younger Constable.

The Sarge says, 'Mate, we have some news for you, unfortunately some
really bad news, but, some good news, and maybe some more good news.

'Well,' says the bloke, 'I guess I'd better have the bad news first'

The Sarge says, 'I'm really sorry mate, but your wife is dead. Young
Bill here found her lying at about five fathoms in a little cleft in
the reef. He got a line around her and we pulled her up, but she was

The bloke is naturally distressed to hear of this and has a bit of a

But after a few minutes he pulls himself together and asks what the
good news is.

The Sarge says, 'Well when we got your wife up there were quite a few
really good sized lobsters and a swag of nice crabs attached to her, so
we've brought you your share.'

He hands the bloke a bag with a couple of nice lobsters and four or
five crabs in it.

'Geez thanks. They're bloody beauties. I guess it's an ill wind and all
that... So what's the other possible good news?

'Well', the Sarge says, 'If you fancy a quick trip, me and young Bill
here get off duty at around 11 o'clock and we're gonna shoot over there
and pull her up again’

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

It's been a While

It's been a while since I posted anything or even joined in with conversations on Twitter - just going through a bit of a shit time with work and really by the time I get out of there each day, just been vegetating and not even switching the tech on in the evenings. Anyway some one sent me this, which made me not only smile but laugh out loud, so I thought you guys might like it too......

A father asked his 10-year old son if he knew about the birds and the bees.

'I don't want to know,' the child said, bursting into tears. 'Promise me you won't tell me.'

Confused, the father asked what was wrong.

The boy sobbed, 'When I was six, I got the 'There's no Easter Bunny' speech...
At seven, I got the 'There's no Tooth Fairy' speech.
When I was eight, you hit me with the 'There's no Santa' speech.

If you're going to tell me that grown-ups don't really shag, I'll have nothing left to live for!'

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Quick and easy Schnitzel

Haven't made this for a while and for some strange reason not many supermarkets actually sell schnitzel, still a hang over from veal I suspect, personally, never had a problem with it, but there you go....

So, here's what you will need;

For the schnitzels

2 decent sized pork chops
1 egg
3-4 tablespoons of plain flour
2 cups of breadcrumbs

For the sauce

1 large onion
1 courgette (zucchini)
6 large mushrooms sliced
1 green pepper
1 x500g packet of sieved tomatoes
1 tin of plum tomatoes
2-3 tablespoons of Worcester sauce
1 tablespoon of tomato puree
Chopped Basil

Lets do the sauce first

slice and dice the onion
slice and quarter the courgette
slice the onions (not to thin)
slice and dice the pepper

Heat some olive oil in a large pan and add the chopped vegetables and sweat down until soft, throw in any fresh tomatoes you may have that need to be used.

Add the tablespoon of tomato puree, tin of chopped tomatoes and the carton of sieved tomatoes, the Worcester sauce and some of the chopped Basil, stir well , cover and simmer for 15 - 20 minutes.

Now for the Schnitzels

Take the chops, one at a time of course, and place on a decent board on a solid worktop.  Take a meat tenderiser and beat the bejesus out of them to thin them down and double in size.

dust the schnitzels in the plain flour

dip the schnitzels into the beaten egg
dip the schnitzels in the breadcrumbs

Add some oil to a pan and heat, add the schnitzels to the pan and gently fry on both sides until golden brown about 4 or 5 minutes on either side.  It shouldn't take long if the schnitzels are thin enough.

Once cooked, served up with the sauce and sprinkle some basil on top of the sauce ......


Tip: for larger photographs, click on the photo

Sunday, 4 November 2012

A Dreary Day

It's quarter to five on Sunday afternoon on the 4th November 2012. I'm sitting in the kitchen and the beef casserole I prepared earlier with chunky vegetables, carrots, swede and parsnips with a couple of chopped onions has been in the oven for an hour and a half on a slow peep. It has about another hour to go and then I shall serve it up for Ishbel and I with some creamy mashed potatoes, but not to many potatoes.

It's already pitch black outside and the wind is still blowing and more rain seems to be threatening to add to the constant downpour we had for most of the morning.

What leaves are still left on the trees that surround us, seem to be clinging on as if they really don't want to be dislodged from their branches probably just as we would prefer not to be dislodged from our warm homes and comfortable lives.

Sometimes though we have to wander out, whether we like it or not. I had to go out twice today. Once to take Ishbel to work in the department store she works in, how I hate and detest Sunday trading, there is no need for it and that is not from a religious perspective, just from the perspective that we already work hours through the week and at different times, so we miss each other then too. And I am not particularly commentating on Ishbel and I here either I am talking about lots of family's whose working routines make them miss each other as well.

Then I had to pop out to, also to work, as a building and facility for local people was being closed by the council and people were losing there jobs and losing an amenity. This facility was passing to the company I work for and a new building, but not an amenity, will be built and more jobs will be created, but, it was still a sad affair to watch people who had been employed for years gathering and looking on sadly as the keys were taken from them and the shutters came down for the last time on the place they had invested so much of their own time and effort into over the years, and it is still appropriately dank and dreary on the streets outside covered in their carpet of russet coloured leaves.

Then I learn that one of dearest twitter friends Julia R Barrett, is also going to have to venture out, maybe not in dank and dreary weather, in Northern California, to go visit her parents as she discovers her father has suffered a torn mitral valve in his heart, that news was here, and the dreariness of the day is compounded by the news....

We wish Julia and Oscar her husband and more especially her dad our warmest wishes and hope that those wishes at least bring some warmth to them at this time of family distress.

But all is not dreary with others. Marylin Warner a wonderful blog friend writes the most amazing letters on her blog to her mother who lives a couple of states away in America and who sadly suffers from Alzheimer's and whose memory constantly needs to be jogged. Marylin does this through regular long drives and her blog letters which in all honesty are quite uplifting, as was the one she posted today, read it here,  and then the world didn't seem quite so dank and dreary after all....

And then finally, another dear twitter friend, Jaye Manus, who you can meet here, posted a comment on a blog that our nine year old grand daughter Mollie posted a while back, you can check that out here,  about 'treasuring that child' and wanting to adopt her, bless. We do treasure her and our other Grandchildren Jaye, we really do....And Mollie sent this response back to Jaye " @JWManus Tell Jaye thank u but she can't adopt me because I will miss my mum . Love u and I am having a curry for dinner"

And the day is definitely not so dreary after all as Ishbel has just sent a text to say she is on her way home and I've just turned the tattles on to cook

Hope your day is not to dreary after all......

Saturday, 3 November 2012

tesco, you really are a bunch of arseholes

We all know that tesco have hit a bit of a slump over the past couple of years, for goodness sake even the likes of Aldi and Lidl are, on floor space and cost alone, giving them a hiding on the number of bums through the door each week, and is it any wonder.

They still continue to serve up the same old sorry and worn out ideas to try and tempt us through the door and then they still  give you the same shabby service and not just in-store either. Tesco mobile has to be one of the worst customer service providers out there.  You'd think that even with having call centres based in the UK that service would be top class but no, that is not the case.

And yet, time after time and disappointment after disappointment  I still try and give them a second and a third and a fourth chance, but just when do you give up on them.....

Earlier this year I visited tesco Thurrock on a Saturday, I had a couple of the grand kids visiting for the weekend. And while there we decided to purchase a couple of DVD's. We got one for the kids at about £7 or £8 and one for me about £15. On arriving home the kids wanted to watch their video so once we got settled in it went. Didn't work!  Tried the one bought for the biggies, worked, tried a couple more of the shelf, just to make sure it wasn't the player, it wasn't!

So off I trot back to tesco with dodgy DVD and receipt in the knowledge that I have been provided with faulty goods under the Sales of Goods Act  as described in the preceding link to aWhich? article.

When you buy goods it means you've entered into a contract with the seller of these goods. 
This means that under the Sale of Goods Act 1979 goods must be:
  • as described,
  • of satisfactory quality, and
  • fit for purpose – this means both their everyday purpose, and also any specific purpose that you agreed with the seller (for example, if you specifically asked for a printer that would be compatible with your computer).
Goods sold must also match any sample you were shown in-store, or any description in a brochure.

Who to complain to

If your goods fail to meet any of the above criteria then you could have a claim under the Sale of Goods Act.  
If you want to make a claim under the Sale of Goods Act you have several possible ways of resolving your issue, depending on the circumstances and on what you want done.
Your rights are against the retailer – the company that sold you the product – not the manufacturer, and so you must make any claim against the retailer. 
However, the Sale of Goods Act doesn't apply to goods you've bought on hire purchase (HP). 
Instead the Supply of Goods Implied Terms Act 1973 applies, which makes the HP company responsible for the quality of the goods supplied and gives you slightly different rights.

If you want your money back

If you buy a product that turns out to be faulty, you can choose to reject it which means you can give it back and get your money back. 
But, the law only gives you a reasonable time to do this – what's reasonable depends on the product and how obvious the fault is.  YOU'D THINK MY COUPLE OF HOURS WAS OK THEN!
However, even with major purchases or complex items, it’s safest to work on the basis you usually have no more than three to four weeks from when you receive it to reject it.
So, knowing that and taking it back within a cpl of hours you'd think, NO PROBLEM, not on your nelly.  tesco staff in Thurrock insisted that they would not and could not give a refund, even in the face of the law and started citing some crap about copyright law!!! I assumed they think that you buy it, take it home and copy it, and then return it. Even although I had my receipt showing I purchased two videos and I was returning the one that was the cheapest, just how stupid and asinine are the people employed in these stores?  I was going to go to trading standards on the following Monday but when I got home I phoned their customer services, explained the situation and of my intention to inform Trading standards.  They were actually, on that occasion quite helpful and agreed that the store was incorrect and agreed to make a refund to my card.  But it shouldn't have taken the phone call in the first place and it then shouldn't have taken 5 days to make the refund....
The latest escapade which shows them to be incompetent idiots is with tesco mobile.
I am not a big fan of mobiles in the first place but they do have there uses.  Up until recently and by that I mean about two years ago, I had a bog standard one, but Ishbel and the kids kept going on to me about getting a smart phone.  Not using a mobile enough to get one on contract I looked around and opted for a pay as you go HTC from Tesco.  Not a bad wee phone and you got additional free credit when topping up.
A pain in the butt with all the preloaded stuff and numbers that I was never going to use and which you can't get rid of in the address book, but what the hell.
Everything seemed to go OK and then you start getting all these stupid text messages from them advertising this that and the other and informing you when your balance is getting low and advising you to top up again.  And when do they send these messages, well normally at the weekend when you are trying to have a lie in. Yes early on a Saturday morning AND YOU CANT TURN THEM OFF.   
Now if anyone out there is on a pay as you go, with anyone, you will know that after every call or text you make or send, that the phone operator automatically flashes a message to your screen telling you how much the call cost and how much your balance is SO WHY DO TESCO ALSO NEED TO SEND A TEXT ON A SATURDAY MORNING???????
Now I should point out at the end of these texts they do include a little message stating that if you want to stop them you should call 2702 to get the texts stopped.  The only problem with that is there isn't actually an option within that, that I can find, which allows you to do this!
You then call customer (unhelpful) services, Nicola, and explain the problem to her including the fact that when you get through to 2702 there isn't the promised option!
Nicola: we can do that for you now, just need to take you through security
Me: ok
Nicola: your mobile number
Me: give it her 
Nicola: Your balance 
Me: What?
Nicola: I need your current balance 
Me: What, don't be ridiculous, they only way I can get that is by hanging up dialling the number for the balance and then calling back and then I will get someone else and have to go through it all again.  If you really are CS and care about the customer and sorting their issues out why don't you call me back in about 30-40 seconds as it will only take about 10 seconds to do that?
Nicola: No. we can't make outgoing calls
Me: getting really rat arsed now But say is that all I need
Nicola: Yes and I will make sure notes are up to date on your file (I have a file) so the next person knows what it is all about!
Hang up get my balance and call again
Ryan: how may I help
Me: give him my name and number and say there should be a note on 'my file' from Nicola
Ryan: I see that I just need to take you through security
Me: (to myself) Oh my fucking god ) I've just been through this and all you need is the balance, which I give him
Ryan: Thanks, now When did you last top up, where did you last top up, how much did you last top up with, how did you pay for it, cash or card........
As you can imagine I went ballistic   I think I had every right to.  This is just downright fucking stupid.  It is a pay as you go mobile phone with the owner just wishing to have stupid text messages being sent to his phone stopped.  
I understand the need for security, I really do, but this is just taking it to ridiculous levels.  Even if someone had stolen the phone, are they likely to want to go through this much pain and crap just to get a text message stopped, NO, not bloody likely.  They would have sold it on or changed the sim card for a 50p one they would have bought down the market at the same time as they had the phone unlocked, which is what I will probably be doing so that I can put someone else's pay as you go sim card in rather than continue to suffer at the hands of this appalling company

TESCO YOU REALLY DO SUCK IN EVERY DPT  and people count your blessings I am not telling you about the mattress problems I was getting for the grand childrens new beds recently   

Friday, 2 November 2012

Book Review: Bitter Harvest (Harvest Trilogy, Book 2) by Michael R Hicks

Look inside Amazon UK here
Look inside Amazon US here
Bitter Harvest, book 2 in the Harvest trilogy by Michael R Hicks with Book 3 scheduled for publication in 2013.

It took me a while to get in to Season of the Harvest, book 1 in the Trilogy, back in 2011. But once in, I found a fast moving, modern, scary crime thriller, with the added zest of a bit of science fiction thrown in to mix things up.

Summary The Harvest books are dealing with a deadly and intelligent insectoid like creature who are able to take over a human body and perfectly mimic the person taken over! It is not known where these creatures originated from, whether they have been lying dormant on earth for millennia or whether they have come from space. What is known is that they can be killed but normally only after they have wiped out 98% of those trying to kill them and as is the way in these situations, some escape..... In book 1 the Harvesters, as we have come to call them, could not reproduce and were working on a way to genetically modify crop seeds that once planted and turned into food for the human population would rewrite the DNA of humans turning them into Harvesters.  Jack Dawson and Naomi Perrault and the rest of the EDF along with the US Govt. who finally came to believe in the threat, thought they had solved that problem ........

Bitter Harvest, as one would expect, takes up where the first book left off with out heroes who were declared terrorists by the US Government having been giving their own Agency to track down the missing bag of  genetically modified bag of grain seed.  It has been a year now and they still haven't managed it.  The new administration and President, still have difficulty in believing all that they have been told and in how catastrophic the Harvesters would be to the human race, if allowed a foothold on the planet, and decide to close down the new Agency, terminating all of its employees almost with immediate effect!

As any good writer will do, Hicks uses this to good effect to reintroduce the missing bag of seed with horrifying consequences. Without giving to much away, as is always difficult when writing a review.  The bag has fallen into the hands of a disenfranchised scientist who without knowing the deadly secret potential for devastation that it holds; all he and others in that field  know, is that the company who produced the seed were trying to introduce a seed that would improve the worlds food supply, and that the seeds produced for that purpose would be worth millions to be sold off to competitors!

And then planet earth starts to burn: India, China, Russia, Brasil, France and then back to the USA and  then you are (if an e reader) holding your finger or thumb over the button desperate to turn each page as you can't believe what is happening as we jump from continent to continent to raging battle after battle and only those few who have dealt with them before and who fully know how to try and kill them having that information sequestrated by their own government, does the full horror of what is happening and just what the original Harvesters did to the seeds unfold.  The story unfolds and Hicks has written it in a way where you just have to keep turning pages.  People whom we met in the first book, we meet again, they are hero's, but Hicks just as easily kills these people off just as the Harvesters are killing the general population while the governments of the world close in on themselves in the usual indecisiveness that seems to affect them in reality, and you find yourself wishing that maybe a Harvester or two should be let loose upon them......

The Harvesters couldn't reproduce in Season of the Harvest, and were still a terrifying and deadly problem for mankind; You may not want to know what they do in Bitter Harvest, but will you be able to resist peeking,  and, can mankind survive? And then that bugger again leaves us on the edge of planetary destruction and says wait and see in 2013, Oh how I sometimes hate authors ;-)

catch up with Mr Hicks at: @MR_Hicks_Fans

Editing for Kindle:  Good
Reading Enjoyment: 5 out of 5
Plot: 5 out of 5
Overall Rating: 5 out of 5
Chapters: 35 plus an epilogue
Page length: circa 394 NO PAGE NUMBERS I really do wish you guys and Amazon would get your acts togther.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Book Review: Death of Kings by Bernard Cornwell

Look inside Amazon UK here
Look inside Amazon US here
Bernard Cornwell must be known to many even if not from his books but from the book inspired TV show "Sharp" , I have read all of them too.

Death of Kings is the 6th novel in his 'The Making of England' series the previous books being:

The Last Kingdom
The Pale Horseman
The Lords of the North
Sword Song
The Burning Land

They tell the story of Alfred the Great the King with a vision to unite England into one country under the English. It doesn't matter today what your own provenance is, particularly at this time when some Scots are attempting to reclaim their nation for themselves away from the English; these are tales of a beginning, tales of honour and glory, tales of battle and honour and tales of men dying in bloody battlefields terrified of the oncoming shield walls but bravely standing, fighting and dying for the birth of their Country and their King.

'Go, go!' Broga had charged two men. One swung his sword at Broga's mouth, but he was trained well and reared up, hooves flailing, and the man ducked away. I clung to him, waited until he came down and brought Serpent-Breath hard down onto the second man's head, splitting helmet and skull. I heard a scream and saw that Broga had bitten of the first man's face. I spurred on. Dogs were howling, children screaming, and Serpent-Breath was feeding.'

These are the tales as told by Uhtred of Babbenburg a Pagan from Northumbria who is brought up to despise Wessex, Mercia, The Danes and anyone else not from Northumbria but who ends up becoming Alfred's Sword and Shield against the Danes.

The tale starts in the Last Kingdom when Uhtred is a boy in Babbenburg and we follow him through the years to this book and Alfred's death and his succession by Edward. The books are based on real events and so not only are we getting an exciting tale of our first Great King and the Birth of England but we are getting a master class in storytelling.

Uhtred, on the face of it, has a miserable life, constantly fighting for his life and so, has to be that much better at taking life than his contemporaries, and he should be and is, a foul tempered man at times. But he is not always like that and all of the books are sprinkled with his really funny humour.

Cornwell's writing through all his books improves and becomes better with each new book. The stories flow along; like soldiers marching along a Roman road without deviation, the prose is sharp and precise. You do tend to stumble a little at the pronunciations of the original place names he uses, but that is not a criticism as they give added authenticity to the story and the books do not suffer for that.

While this series of novels is telling us of the 'Making of England' they are stories of the birth of Uhtred, following his life's, his loves, his losses of the women he loved, and his ongoing fight to reconcile his Pagan beliefs with that of giving his oath to a Christian King and then to keeping that King and his successors on the throne while trying to find his way back to and reclaiming Babbenburg in the north.

These stories are truly engaging and exciting reads and I can't recommend them enough.

As I have all of the previous books in the series in hardback I continued in that theme with this one; and it was good to get back to holding a 'book' again (although I have to confess it did feel a bit unwieldy to begin with)

Editing for Kindle:
Reading Enjoyment: 5 out of 5
Plot: 5 out of 5
Overall Rating: 5 out of 5
Chapters: 13
Page length: 330 story, 5 Historical note

Sunday, 21 October 2012

One Pan Leg of Lamb and Veg

Family here today, so another quick recipe for you.

Whole leg of Lamb
Whole pack of Chantenay carrots washed and trimmed
4 Leaks washed trimmed and sliced
4 baby swede washed pealed and quartered
4 Parsnips washed and pealed
1Bunch of celery chopped into pieces and don't forget to shred and add the celery leaves too
As many (as large) boiling potatoes as you want
couple of shallots peeled and cut in two
1 Bottle of white wine

Brown the leg of lamb of in a roasting dish on all sides
Add the bottle of wine and burn of the alcohol.  Using the wine bottle add 1 btl of water and same again in good chicken stock.
Add all the vegetables and bring to the boil on the hob turn off immediately
Cover with oven foil and place in the oven at 100 - 130 degrees for 2 1/2 hours

Remove foil from  roasting dish and return to oven turning oven up to 150-180.

place in centre of table and let the family dig in, the meat just falls from the bone and the veg are lovely and tender.  Serve with fresh crusty bread to mop up the liquor.

Shannon preparing the veg

Ready for you Grand Dad

Ready to go in the oven 

Where's my dinner


Ready to serve

Doesn't last long 

I'm just too pretty 

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Chicken Pomodoro

Had the girls, Mollie, Shannon and Lacey Mae over Saturday and Sunday. Dad Steve and Mum Jennifer were going out to do a bit of shopping and then going for a meal Saturday night so, meal time for me and the four other ladies, 


4 Chicken Breasts  - I pre grill these with a bit of spice 
1/2 Large Chorizo sausage thinly sliced
Good Handful of small potato wedges, parboiled
1 Red Pepper diced
1/2 dozen sliced tomoatoes
Good quantity of cherry and plum tomatoes cut in half
2 Tbls Fresh cream
500 g of good quality sieved tomato sauce Pomodoro  
Handful of fresh basil

Sorry, forgot to take photo's of everything.

Take the chicken and pre grille them, setting them aside

Take the potatoes cut into quarters, simmer for about 10 - 12 minutes drain and set aside 

Par boiled wedgies

Sweat down the peppers and mushrooms in a little butter or virgin olive oil 

Diced peppers and sliced mushrooms

Cut in half the tomatoes and shred in some basil  

Mix together the pomodoro and cream in a dish and then add the other ingredients and place in an oven preheated to 220 degrees for 35 - 40 mins 


Just before serving break up a buffalo mozzarella cheese across the dish and put back in the oven for five minutes, remove and serve with some sprinkled basil


Lacey Mae

Mollie and Shannon

lacey Mae after two plates of Dinner and Chocolate pudding