A wonderful series of old photos (with link) on the back of today's Grauni. They are from the late 19th and early 20th century by an unknown photographer... so it's a mystery too! Wonderful in both composition and (apparently) resolution. The guy (or guyess) got around a bit... there are pictures from all over Europe and down into Egypt. Go take a look.... this is my favourite. And those modern day snappers, such as I, who worry about memory cards and hard disk space, should spare a thought that this guy/guyess was carrying around glass plates for his photos!
Amaryllis....detail from Zee's wonderful table decoration.
Strange that none of the pre-prepared animations, that we're seeing every few minutes on TV in the UK, covering the Beagle 2 expedition cover the possibility of something going wrong..... a crash landing or a Martian vandal snapping off the antenna (it was a very bad 'hood they chose). No imagination these people!
Shame..... sadly, I don't appear to have any software that edits Quicktime files.
..are hard to photograph. Or capture digitally even, they might as well have been light bulbs! Which is a shame as they're not and the candelabra looked even wonderfuller than usual this year.
Other favourites were the sprouts which, after years of me suggesting it, were lightly dousled with garlic butter. Wonderful!
The household most unusual Xmas dinner award went to young Kay. She ate most of Zee's delicious Stilton Souffle with grape, walnut and lettuce salad for her starter but then departed from both veggies and carnivores by sticking to parsnips (9), chocolate (many), ginger beer (lashings of) and custard with cream (litres) but none of my mother's beautiful Xmas pudding.
....all the time...
Now it can begin in earnest.
I've finished work and back at home. A word of warning to anyone about to enter out onto the roads.... if they're driving as badly on your route as they are around here, be very careful. It's Sunday driving without glasses... nearly everyone is driving like a complete Dickhead... not just the Merc drivers (as is more usually the case).
Anyway, seasonal Free Thinking Greetings to y'all... xxx
One of the benefits of my early morning journey to work is sights such as this. The skyscrapers at Canary Wharf welcome me every morning.
For the last three months I have been trying to ascertain what time I could take off over the Christmas/Noo Year break. Today I found out and whilst I don't have the usual 10 day break it is good to finally know for sure. You can make plans if you know, can't you?
So, whilst Zee and the girls decorated the tree (maybe tomorrow if you're good!) I embarked upon an altogether more challenging horticultural task. Though we haven't yet had any sign of a severe frost, 'tis time for the banana plant to receive it's permanent winter coat. I had to travel way north (well, outside of the M25 so it's North to me) for a bale of straw (£1.40!!!) but I'll do anything for my plants.
The final straw monolith with white sack top (which the stoopid plant always pushes off if we get a warm spell) may look somewhat sinister...... "Wicker Man" meets Mr.Blobby but I'm pretty sure neither Edward Woodward, Brit Ekland or indeed Noel Edmunds are inside.
But I will let you know if any Druids turn up.
Paying for the weekly shop in Sainsbury's today I thought again of the supposed £811 per person spend on Christmas. Today's shop was nearly three times the usual weekly Saturday shopping bill BUT there will be 9 for Christmas dinner and at least one extra mouth to feed and water for several other days over the festive period AND that did also include a few last minute presents.... so I looked for a breakdown on what exactly I'm supposed to be spending this money on to see how I compared with Mr./Ms.Average out there....
|Clothes for the big day||£162||£0.00|
|Socialising in the run up||£143||£0.00|
|Christmas day (decorations, tree, food and a drink or two)||£143||£30?|
I don't get it. We are an above average income family yet we're way under (and I think we've spent much too much).... are the stats a complete load of bollocks or what?
Oh, no! It's snowing badly drawn anarchy symbols!
OK, I've just invented a new drink.
Take a thermos of freshly caffetiered Fair Trade Coffee from your thermos and poor it into your coffee cup when you arrive at work. At this point you will realise that your normally jet black brew is a strange murky brown colour. It appears that it had the dregs of yesterday's mid-morning milky tea in the bottom. The problem is that you really need that cup of coffee and the stuff from the canteen is quite frankly disgusting. So you try your newly discovered drink.
It's not too bad.
No, hang on , it's rather good!
Hurrah, T'Coffee is invented.
I know it's not a very good name but you try and come up with a tea/coffee conglomerate word that doesn't sound like one of the original components or a chewy confection....
Well, so far I've received one entry... all the songs were correctly identified but a couple of the artists mentioned were not the one I was thinking of.....
In case you've forgotten or are unaware, the aim of the competition is to correctly identify the artists who provided the Xmas Lyrics that are randomly inserted just above the latest post.. refresh the page to get another. I stress that a few of the songs have been performed by more than one artist and you need to guess the artist I was thinking of.
The second part of the competition is to think of a prize.
I decided to celebrate the one-hundredth anniversary of a bloke flying by wandering up the road to the bizarrely named Hollow Ponds for a quick chat with some birds that weren't (flying). Mainly Canada Geese in the pictures today, but I like them and if you don't then I also managed to snap some Coots, a Heron (just), a Magpie and some Gulls. Incidentally, are Canada Geese called the same thing in Canada or is it another French Letter type thing?
... and while we're on the topic of lighting here's the bizarre fishbowl come light fitting spotted hanging high above us in a restaurant last night.
And this is the light fitting, should you be interested. When we pointed it out to the guy in the shop he said "What, the mad one?"... unbeknownst to us at the time this was actually it's name and not a style comment. I assume B&Q are after the same bizarre naming philosophy that saw an IKEA wardrobe called BRA. Anyway, it's hard to phtograph lights.... but I think you get the general idea.
Before we set off to buy a new light for the sitting room, young Kay had been taking pictures of everything and nothing, inside and out, with my Digicam. Being well aware of her propensity to put things down in strange forgetable places (so, just like me then) I asked her as we got into the car,
"What did you do with the camera, darling?".
"What do you mean?" says she.
"What do mean?" is a classic stalling answer of course. It actually means, "I know exactly what you're talking about but I need time to work out if what I did was wrong and if so, how it was really my sister's fault." Since this answer is so often forthcoming I also have a ready reply, which involves repeating the question slowly. But Kay has a secret weapon as her next answer:
"Oh, camera, sorry, I thought you said CAMEL,"
Hmmm, very good, but Kay has 20:20 hearing, I think she's picked up this deliberate mishearing trick from me with my rubbish 5:20. Of course then I still have to ask,
Kay is ready for this, "What do you mean?"
OK, following on from the success of yesterday's competition (zero so far.. obviously too easy) and as a result an article in the Grauni this week claiming that London's so called Gherkin tower is nothing like a gherkin. To test this ridiculous hypothesis I've set you all a simple test.... I couldn't find a gherkin so it's spot the difference between a courgette and Norman Foster's London tower of glass.
OK, as you'll know if you've been reading the comments from this morning's post, BW has suggested a competition to name all the artists featuring in the Random-Xmas-Lyric-Thing above. I had thought of this already but, my record on prize giving isn't good. You see I still owe the three winners of last years Glen Miller thing a re-recorded version of my classic song "Glen Miller is Missing"..... I did start guys, honestly! Anyway, I trigress..... the first part of the competition is to correctly identify the artists who recorded the songs from which I've nicked the Random Christmas Lyrics..... beware, there are a couple that more than one artist has recorded and you have to guess the one I was thinking of.
The second part of the competition is to think of a suitable prize.
The closing date will be when I decide but almost certainly before Christmas day. I'll give you a final date nearer the time.... (Planarchists eh?) Oh, and unlike any other competition I've ever entered Correspondance Will Be entered into.... cos a good chat is what it's all about isn't it?
Answers by email to nic[at]you know what domain.
You know how all the shops have been annoying us by playing all those Christmas hits since the balmy days of August? Well, here at Planarchy I've decided to help you relive the experience.... I've swapped the Random Day of Week Lyric thingy that used to reside just beneath my leetle Bleurg Stickmen for a Random Christmas lyric..... refresh the page for another one! I realise it's not quite as intrusive as it should be.... but I prefer the gradual build-up type of approach. The scrolling lyrics and blinking lights can wait until closer to the happy day.... don't say i didn't warn you.
Mr. Blackbird, meanwhile, comes close but insists on keeping his beautiful orange beak hidden behind a branch.
Heh, heh, my cunning plan worked! By saying that they only visit early in the morning I've managed to convince Mr. Woody that it's safe to do so mid-morning. Sadly it's still grey and gloomy and he didn't get closer than the willow tree (which, I add he didn't peck!) so I still haven't got the picture I want.
Yes, I'm at home today... after a week and almost nothing there could be a lot of blogging today.
That should kill it dead.
I'm almost certain I spied Mrs Woody on the nuts this morning... but by the time I'd got the camera she'd flown... a shame... both she and hubby only seem to visit in the dim early morning light when it's hard to get a sharp picture anyway. I wondr if they'd mind being floodlit? Hmmm. Elsewhere.. here's some nice orange leaves which I forgot to post last month.
.... and in a nice way too! There we were at lunchtime wondering why we hadn't had any crumpets yet this year and how nice they are with honey..... and now, apparently I've earned enough points from making Witchy laugh to get a "honetary" reward.
Three cheers and thanks to everyone involved!!!!
"38" she intoned.
"38?" I queried,"Even for a mortal that's not very old, and I've got an elf here!"
"Well, it's nearly as old as you," she answered.
Hmm, thanks very much! Luckily my card was Elrond and his 6,517 years make even an oldy such as me seem like a mere spring chicken, let alone her 38 year old Sam Gamgee.
Later on in the deck we come to the Legolas card. Dee swooned. "Legolas?" I snorted, quite exasperated, "Girly-Blondy-plaited-hair Legolas! Surely Aragorn is the man?"
But apparently not, I suppose it's because even though he is 7,000 he still has the looks of a teenager whereas the wonderfully rugged Aragorn (son of Arathorn, lest you forget) looks a bit too much like someone her dad's age. Doh!
So, I had a very pleasant day being a tourist in my own town, despite the rather grey weather. The steps above is currently my favourite picture of the day (although obviously there are several hundred others still to come). I took in the wonderful Gherkin, the Not-Wobbly Bridge (and St.Paul's) and then finally Trafalgar Square. I was most looking forward to the newer items but, in the end, Trafalgar square was really good too... I haven't been there for years and years. Still loads of pigeons, by the way.
Today I have a days holiday. I usually end up with spare days this time of year as I always put a few days aside for children's sickness/religious holidays etcetera. Happily the girls don't do sick... in fact we have them trained so well that when a friend takes a couple of days of for a cold they are most disparaging "A cold? You can still go to school with a cold!" they chant.
Anyway, what I do with the day, as I explained to Zee at the weekend, depends on the weather. I've not been taking many pictures lately and fancied a touristy day out in London, something I've not done for years and years. So this is the plan if it stays fine-ish. If it rains, however, I'll be going clothes shopping.
"So," said Zee, "If it's a nice day today you'll have nothing to wear for your work's Christmas do on Saturday?"
Well, not nothing exactly. Maybe nothing suitable... and talking of suitable, you'll be glad to know that the only suit I own is t' one I was married in thirteen years ago...... and it's still fine.
Well, the sun is sort of shining here in East London so it looks like it's the camera and not the clothes.
See you later!
I'm not generally a fan of tradition. Just because something's always been done that way is not, to my way of thinking, a good reason to carry on doing it that way.... before too long it grows and you've got a cult or a religion on your hands!
However, you knew there was going to be a "however", didn't you? However, we seem to have started one with our advent calendar. Why exactly we have an advent calendar is, of course open to question. Zee and I are, after all, what I used to call Atheists...incidentally, I never liked that word so, when e over at The Purple Pen described herself as a free-thinker instead, I thought it was about time to change my description. Anyway, atheist or Free-thinker, Christmas, specifically the count down to the birth of the Baby Jee is not really our thang.
But then the girls came.
And rather a lot of things changed. Obviously we wanted their first Christmas with us to be special. Zee had seen this offering from Oxfam. It seemed like a nice variation on the advent theme, there were 24 little pockets in which a small toy could be placed. We ordered the calendar from Oxfam and leetle toys and puzzles from the excellent Hawkins Bazaar. Well, the toys arrived, but the calendar did not (well, not until January!). So we had to come up with another way of displaying the trinkets. We ended up hanging the wrapped gifts against the French window where they make a colourful decoration to boot.
The girls loved it (they take turns BTW, it's not a present a day). But once you've done it once you have to do it again, don't you? This is year five and the presents seem to be getting bigger. I can see that in a couple of years there'll be a motorbike hanging there.
Tradition, you see. Get's you every time.