Saturday, 27 September 2008

Curry for dinner

...and the squeak! of paneer on my teeth.

(This post is partly inspired by Fiona's Stones. You can send her your own stones too.)

Sore arms

The advantage of having two injections at once is getting the whole feeling-rubbish thing over and done with.

The disadvantage is that both arms ache, making carrying a quite-heavy tray of coffees and pastries less fun than it should be.

But still worth it.

I have become Everybloke

...fiddling with my phone in M&S while the women shop.

Friday, 26 September 2008

I've got rabies

...and typhoid, to boot.

The first of my rabies injections was a lurid purple in the syringe, but it was the typhoid injection I actually felt squirt! into my right arm.

And all this in aid of a voyage of exploration: an adventure.

Monday, 22 September 2008

A bracing swim in the ocean

This morning I went for a dip in the sea off the South Devon coast.

Walking into the sea

I splashed around and everything.

Having a little swim in the sea

And then I got out.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Medals versus T-shirts

There's a fine tradition in this country of issuing goody bags after a sporting endeavour, almost (in some cases, at least) as an apology for the outrageously expensive entry fee.

Having completed a triathlon yesterday, I received one such goody bag containing a few items of sports snackery, several adverts for equally-costly future events and a T-shirt.

On arrival back at the Ranch the Sparkly One congratulated me and asked if I had received a medal (the Sparkly One has a lot of medals, on account of being the very best at what she does, and competing in events that reward brilliance with medals).

I did not have a medal. I checked the bag. There was no medal. Dark clouds of disappointment loomed on my personal emotion horizon.

Then I found the T-shirt in the bag, proclaiming me to be a Finisher. Disappointment was immediately replaced by the sunshine of joy. Yay me!

This exchange and discovery prompted me to ponder the relative benefits of T-shirt and medal.

In favour of a T-shirt:

  • Can be worn on any number of occasions after the actual event (it's generally frowned upon to wear a medal day to day, unless one is in the armed services)
  • A practical item, useful.

In favour of a medal:

  • Something a bit special, not something one would buy oneself
  • Does not need laundering after wearing
  • Looks nice hanging from the curtain pole
  • An indulgent item, a frippery

I think that although I would prefer a medal, I would get more mileage out of a T-shirt. A medal is associated with that whole challenge-reward thing; a T-shirt is every day.

A final thought: the word "goody" should be eradicated from the language with extreme prejudice and immediate effect.

The Simple Joy of a Card

Get Well Soon Card: £1.98
First Class Stamp: 36p
Reaching out to someone: Priceless

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Word of the day: Blearious

blearious [bleer-ee-uhs]
That fuzzy, early morning frenzied manic feeling.

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Black nose goblins

Yes, I was in London yesterday, with the inevitable result (hence the word inevitable, see?) that the old nose goblins were gritty and black this morning.

But whilst in Town I caught up with The Clanky One, so nose-filth seems inconsequential and easily tolerated - a small price to pay.

To put it another way, dear reader, friends are a Very Good Thing.

Sunday, 7 September 2008

A mahoosive aeroplane

Taxiing after landing at Heathrow tonight, I caught my first glimpse of the Airbus A380, and I have to confess that expletives resulted.

Even in the distance, parked up at one of the gates, it was impressive. A damn big 'plane.

When in Sweden, make like a Swede

"When in Rome, do as the Romans do," the adage runs. Well, the Sparkly One and I were in Sweden, but - undeterred - we applied the precept as best we could. On this occasion, it being a Sunday afternoon, the spirit of Making Like a Swede was given life with a stop at a local home furnishing retailer by the name of IKEA.

You may have heard of this company, as it has received some small mention in the Rainy Isles, and I myself have visited 2 or 3 stores in recent years. I was therefore eager to visit a store in the motherland, and curious to see firsthand how well the concept had travelled to our own shores.

I have to say that the Shopping Experience has not translated very well to the UK. That is to say that it has not been translated so much as transplanted. In short, the whole was largely identical to that in the UK; same store design and layout, same products (with the same idiosyncratic names), same seething tide of humanity on a Sunday afternoon.

After circumnavigating the store as quickly as we could, we stopped, chuckling quietly to ourselves, in the store's restaurang for a quick lunch of köttbullar - Swedish meatballs, served with cranberry sauce, potatoes and gravy (including side salad and a drink - all for a very reasonable price).

All in all, we may as well have stayed at home, but for one small yet significant fact: we were in Sweden, where all this began.

Saturday, 6 September 2008

Pronounced "ves-ter-oss"

The town of Västerås, in Sweden's Västmanland, is a beguilingly pleasant place.

The streets are quiet, the buildings attractive, and the whole fairly easy to find one's way around.

We are here for Other Reasons, but I would happily come back here for a longer visit on another occasion.

Friday, 5 September 2008

Signs of elk

When is a moose not a moose? Why, when it's an elk, obviously.

A brief visit to Google reveals that a moose and an elk are one and the same (in Europe, at least - in America, your mileage may vary). This revelation prompts the Naming Dilemma; how shall I refer to the King of the Forest in this ramble?

As amusing as I find the word moose, the Swedish word älg seems closer to "elk" rather than moose, so I shall endeavour to use that word here.

Elk are apparently quite common in Sweden, so the chances of seeing one are not remote. They are, however, seemingly shy (although that didn't stop one elk stealing a bicycle) so I figured that we might just see one, but I wouldn't be holding my breath.

So it was that we drove warily and watchfully through the countryside, eyes keen for signs of the beast. The closest we came, alas, was the road sign warning of the dangers of elk on the road. Even leaning out the window and calling


in encouraging tones didn't seem to have the desired effect of summoning one or more.

On reflection, perhaps shouting would älg have had more success.

In-flight "catering"

The onboard sandwich was - predictably - depressingly awful.

It was a half-and-half "chicken salad" and "ham and mustard". Both were beyond-foul.

Heathrow's T5 an airport terminal.

Rather new, rather shiny, but an airport terminal nonetheless.

And that's all I have to say about that.

Terminal 5 Revisited

The first (and, indeed, last) time I visited Heathrow's fifth terminal it was still being constructed, with only parts of the majestic terminal building (rather disappointingly called "T5A") completed.

As I recall, the little bus tour was more publicity exercise than construction site visit, but it was educational in its way, and fired my imagination and enthusiasm for the project. In particular I remember the so-called "angel trusses", used to support the massive roof - T5A is the largest free-standing building in the UK.

So it is that I find myself rather excited about my impending return to the "fully operational" terminal. I am to visit as a fare-paying passenger with British Airways; travelling to Sweden with the Sparkly One for the weekend.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Tomatoes freeze well

But they don't de-frost very well. Not very well at all.

I left some lovely English tomatoes in the fridge at work, and they strayed too close to the freezer compartment. The result was ice-hard tomatoes that could be rapped on the worktop with a pleasingly knocking sound.

They could not, however, be sliced and eaten in a salad. As the cucumber had suffered a similar fate, my lunch was rather smaller than I had planned.

By late afternoon the tomatoes had fully defrosted, releasing most of the watery contents through the skins that had split during the freezing process. I was left with a collection of saggy tomato skins sitting in a puddle of vaguely-tomato-smelling water. Whilst I suspect that some creative genius could conjure a gastronomic treat out of this ingredient, the task is beyond me.