mrph: (Arucard)
...is that there's always a particular bloke on it, talking into his phone via hands free headphones, very loudly ranting about his day.

He doesn't work for my dear employers, which is probably just as well, as if he did then I'd have to kick him very hard. He works for a pharmaceutical place just down the road.

...and he has absolutely no concept of the sort of work topics you Do Not Rant About Loudly On A Bus, especially if it's clear that you work for a household name.

Aside from the usual "manager is an idiot" anecdotes, there are loud tales about security and safety near-misses, drugs that go missing or get mis-labelled and more than a few mentioned-by-name rants concerning their customers. Especially local customers.

Or possibly it's just me who gets wound up about such things. I guess that some workplaces don't have quite the same emphasis on DPA and "don't talk about the confidential stuff in public", but even so...
mrph: (Arucard)
I'm not scheduling my holidays sensibly this year. After WGW I was back at work for just one day, then off to Gatwick for a rather early flight on Friday.

The intention was to meet up with my sister, fly out to Bologna, then spend a couple of days in Mantova (Mantua) before heading up into the hills for a day, then going our separate ways (E's staying on in Verona for a few days, I'm flying back from Verona airport tomorrow).

It didn't entirely go to plan. Read more... )

Lent

Mar. 31st, 2011 09:43 pm
mrph: (Arucard)
So, this year I've given up Twitter, Facebook and coffee. These three may sound like a slightly odd mix, but from my perspective there's a single aim behind them: to slow down and relax.

Coffee fuels my working day. Tired and grumpy when I get to work? Want to get away from my desk for a minute? Trying to summon the energy to review a lengthy technical document or backtrack through the sequence of events behind a complaint or major incident? Coffee is always the answer. Lots of it. That's the way to do it.

Which leads neatly onto FB and Twitter. If I'm not relaxed, I get bored easily. I fidget. My mind rattles round in circles and needs something external to feed on, so that my thoughts don't tie themselves in knots.

...and checking FB or Twitter works nicely for that. Check what people are up to, post short sharp comments, then do it all over again five minutes later. With luck, there'll be replies to reply to. If not, there may still be photos to view and links to follow. Repeat as required. There goes lunch. Or most of the evening.

Using them in that way eats time and stops me doing other things. It also seems to discourage me from actually picking up a phone and talking to my friends.

So, away with all of this. Time to slow down - and to make better use of the time I do have.

None of the three are intrinsically bad things, and I'm looking forward to picking them all up again after Easter. But hopefully, when I do, I'll remember why I did this over Lent and I won't just fall straight back into the same old bad habits...


mrph: (Arucard)
Off to Bologna, that is. I've survived my one day back at work, packed things and managed to catch a train to London.

From there it's down to Gatwick and onto a (very early) flight. Fortunately, my body is still in Whitby mode and does not require sleep. Honest. My brain, on the other hand, is doomed.

From Bologna, it's on to Mantova... and then I fall over and sleep for most of Friday. :)


mrph: (Arucard)
So, here I am in Whitby. It's been a bit of a curate's egg so far.

It's a bit quiet. The Elsinore was mostly empty at 5:30 on Thursday.

A lot of familiar faces aren't here - and even though the Spa got reasonably busy by the end of Friday night, it still wasn't amazingly social.

Whitby itself is still lovely, of course. And it's been great to catch up with the people who are here - Batty, Alex, Lee, Dave H, Suz, Fuzzy, Giolla and some of the other usual suspects.

Mostly, though, I've been socialising with the Coventry contingent - Vicky, Col, Elaine and Huw. Which is generally more fun in the day than in the evenings, I think. The Spa isn't a great place to socialise in that way.

Possibly I just need more dancing. Or perhaps I've finally reached the point where the idea of a nice cup of tea, a slice of cake and a comfy chair appeals more than standing in the Spa with a plastic cup of passable booze, a bit of background noise and cold feet. :)

Lent

Mar. 8th, 2011 11:00 pm
mrph: (Arucard)
Right then. This year I've given up Facebook, Twitter and coffee for Lent.

This makes it a bit more likely that I'll be posting on LJ on a much more regular basis, at least 'til Easter. :)

Of course, many of these posts may involve gardening or other such 'exciting' topics (whatever happened to the rock'n'roll lifestyle, hmm?).

However, there are likely to be a few ramblings on other topics too - Whitby, gaming, film/tv/books and all o' that.

Let's see how it goes. :)
mrph: (Arucard)
I have space for one more tree. Just one.

Or, more accurately, when the annoying tree at the end of the garden has been removed, I'll have room for one more tree. But not quite so close to the neighbour's garage this time.

...so what should it be? I have apple trees, a damson tree and a quince already.

The current shortlist is a bit random - apricot, peach, medlar, mulberry, elder.

Medlar is tempting. Reliable crops, not really available in shops, looks nice (the tree, not the medlars...) tasty. :)

Peach and apricot are a bit of a gamble, even with varieties that will crop in a British summer. They'd probably do better closer to the house...

Mulberry has all the same plus points as a medlar. But can be eaten straight from the tree. The downside...? No fruit for several years.

And elder...? Well, I can find uses for it. Many of them. But if I really want elderflowers or berries, they're pretty easy to find wild near here.

Hmm... just as well I've got ten months to think about it! :)
mrph: (Arucard)
Today's cookery project: rabbit stew (generally well received)

Thursday's cookery project: Seville orange sorbet. :-)

mrph: (Arucard)
Up until a few minutes ago, I'd pretty much forgotten that today's V-day; a couple of posts from friends reminded me.

I'm single again this year and, well, not generally that fussed about it right now.

Which is a bit of a change from various previous years when I've been attached (and wondering what to do to make an event of it without simply following the script...), recently single (and uncomfortably conscious of the date) or not actually attached but caught up in Things and Stuff of one type or another...

This year's much more relaxed. No valentines sent, no valentines received. Not even a dead rodent received from the cat (yet).

But not bad for a Monday, nonetheless. :)

mrph: (Arucard)
'Rice pudding with Frambozen' :-)
mrph: (Arucard)
Served the Tuesday night mob a simple broth this week - Jerusalem artichokes and sliced onions, softened in a little olive oil then simmered in chicken stock (along with lots of pepper, a bay leaf and some thyme).

Seemed to work ok, even if I did forget to add some chopped parsley at the end...

(Note to self: plant lots of parsley this year. You know it makes sense. And saves money...)



Pumpkin

Nov. 10th, 2010 12:45 pm
mrph: (Arucard)
Well, I'm not bad at growing pumpkin. And I'm certainly quite good at eating it. Possibly need a bit more practice cooking it, though...

Yesterday's project was pumpkin and chorizo soup. Home grown pumpkin, garlic, sage and chilli, plus homemade chicken stock (...which also included some veg & herbs from the garden).

The only things straight out of a shop were the onion and the chorizo. Quite happy about that bit.

A little less happy with the end result, which was perhaps a bit thin and lacked a certain oomph. Not sure if the stock needed to be reduced or the pumpkin simply wasn't sufficiently flavourful.

I suspect the latter - more chicken (or more chilli and garlic, for that matter) might just have overwhelmed it.

So, time to do something else with the other half of the pumpkin. Something that may bring the flavour out a little more... I think it may need to be roasted (or pan cooked) and served up with some sausages... :)

...and then, of course, I've got a whole heap of pumpkin seeds to use. A bit of salt, a splash of water and a few minutes under the grill. Nom. :-)
mrph: (Arucard)
For some odd reason, I always wanted to grow marrows in the garden, not just courgettes. I'd never really planned beyond the 'growing them' stage, mind you.

Last year I got one marrow. Just one. This year I got four (so far - might get one more before frost kills the plants...).

...which leads on to the question of "what do you do with a marrow?". More than one cook book suggests that the answer is basically "shrug, walk away and cook something else" - as if marrows are a lost cause...

This hasn't helped me to find interesting ways to use them. However, Sarah Raven and Nigel Slater are both, thankfully, made of sterner stuff. :)

Mr Slater's 'Tender" has a recipe for baked marrow with spicy minced pork. Lots of mint, dill and lime. Plus a fair bit of chilli (with the pan-fried mince). It's good. It has a certain kick to it. Definitely autumn food.

Last night's attempt was a little different, though - chicken stock, marrow and coconut milk (plus ginger, basil, mint and onion) as the basis for a soothing, gently warming soup. And half a marrow fed four - including seconds - which is never a bad thing...

Next, I think, it's time to try Nigel Slater's veggie stuffed marrow recipe. Let's see how this one goes... :)
mrph: (Arucard)
Just had the first of my (many) homegrown chillies. Well, a tiny bit of it, anyway. Deseeded.

[livejournal.com profile] jambon_gris would approve. Glad I had a glass of milk on standby... :)


Soup!

Sep. 22nd, 2010 01:01 pm
mrph: (Arucard)
Much to my surprise, I managed a decent cauliflower soup last night.

People ate it. Some had seconds. One briefly grumbled that he didn't like cauliflower much - an hour after finishing his seconds - which I'll take as a compliment, of sorts. :)

Possibly worth noting that this was 'cauliflower and chive' (NCG recipe) - no cheese was involved.

(My only grumble is that I had to buy chives - I've just divided and repotted mine, so they looked too frail to cut... )

Leverage

Sep. 13th, 2010 12:23 pm
mrph: (Arucard)
Finished watching season #1 of Leverage last night. Definitely hooked now.

With a couple of exceptions, it's a season that steadily improves as it goes. Or, at least, most of my favourites are in the last batch of episodes - The Juror #6 Job, The Bank Shot Job, The Twelve Step Job...

...and The First David Job. Which has to be my favourite of the whole bunch. Right from the first scene, it's clear that this one's not going quite to plan. And that it's personal.

The season finale ('The Second David Job') is a great, classic con - and equally personal. But it's not as dark... and the last third(?) of 'The First David Job' is absolutely great stuff...

(I've deliberately avoided major spoilers in the post, but comments may get some...)
mrph: (Arucard)
So, word from Infest is:

"It was great to be back, so who knows, maybe we'll get to do it all again next year"

...which isn't exactly definite, is it? I'd just assumed that it was back as an ongoing concern after the one year hiatus...

Time to consider other plans for next August, perhaps...
mrph: (Arucard)
Just spoke to the owners of the cat we found on Saturday. At least they know what happened now.
mrph: (Arucard)
Possibly I'm just getting old and domesticated, but I love this time of year. Not too hot, not too cold and miserable. I can get home from work, wander into the garden and Do Stuff for hours before it gets dark.

Or, more accurately, I can Start Stuff. Later in the year, the garden becomes a maintenance project. Right now, it's not quite at that stage.

There's still time to plant things. I'm clearing flowerbeds, assembling raised beds, repotting strawberries (...all this while telling myself that this year I'll find them a permanent home, you understand...), watering the newly laid turf and occasionally grinning when I notice that crops are sprouting or fruiting.

(Things guaranteed to make me smile - potato plants appearing, artichokes sprouting and gooseberries swelling on the bush...)

In a month's time it'll all start to feel too much like work (or possibly like an unwinnable war against slugs and blight). For the moment, though, it's going ok.

It's not a bad moment.

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