Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Canadian Connection

Hi again, folks!
Hope you are feeling upbeat and that life in general is 'peachy'!
Here is an email I received from a friend at work and I hope she doesn't mind me charing it with you:

Hi Everyone
Just so proud, I had to share it with you all. Oliver wrote a poem last year and I entered it into the Autism Acceptance Project in Canada via the NAS website. Winning entries get shown in the Lonsdale Gallery in Toronto during the month of October. I have just received an email to say Olivers cheque is in the post!!! Needless to say we are delighted. He doesn't even know yet as he's still in Ireland with Granny!
Click here to read the poem on the website.

Well, I happen to think that this poem is good enough for an adult, nevermind an 8 year old boy.
Well done, Oliver, and very well put!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

That's just rubbish!

Now then, now then, now then . . . what did I do at work today then?????
Some Prince2 Project Management for which I am qualified?
Some liaison with suppliers trying to build inter-company bonds?
Maybe something to practise my negotiation skills and man-management?!

Not quite! Veeeery close but not quite!
I emptied our IT storeroom from all the crap which has accumulated there once again.
Here is a bathtub full of stuff to be crushed. Any takers??

Quick update on our property search. The search area has widened considerably to now include North Devon, Wales and Tuscany (yes, I do know this is in Italy!).
Anybody wanting to suggest other areas or countries, please feel free to comment!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

La dolce vita!

Here in good old England we just had our last Bank Holiday Monday of the summer and we decided to visit an area close to Ross-on-Wye and Monmouth near the English-Welsh border.
This is a largely unknown and unvisited area but it is beautiful with many areas of forest, apple orchards and canoeing on the river Wye.
The weather was nice and sunny, the traffic light and we were all in holiday spirit.
We are visiting various areas with a view of possibly moving there one day. Various areas are under inspection and will no doubt be visited over the next few months.
One other area I would like to throw into the mix is Umbria/Tuscany in Italy.
Well, you can dream, can’t you?! La dolce vita!

Here are some photos from yesterday.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Hair! Grow it, show it, long as I can grow it . . .

Having just gotten over the wedding of son No. 2, we are now already in the planning phases of the next wedding, which is for daughter No.1 and is planned for August 2007. This time the event is going to happen very close to where we live at a place called Poundon House.
So yesterday evening we went along to see what it would look like, as they are currently preparing for a wedding due to take place this Saturday.

Yours truly has been appointed as project manager and is responsible for making sure that nothing gets forgotten and that all things are booked in good time.
How on earth did I get into this??? Oh yes, I am the father of the bride.

When we went to Hamburg we visited my cousins there and KH came up with this picture of me, aged 18.
What’s with the hair????????

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Semplicemente fantastico!!!

Hello, my fellow bloggers!
Today I will put up a useful post for once (so don’t get too used to it!!) and will furnish you with a recipe which, if you like this sort of thing, will have you licking your fingers!
It’s fast, it’s easy, it’s tasty and it can even be used as a dish to make when you have invited friends.

Here it is:

Asparagus with Tagliatelle (Serves 4)

500 gram (1 pound) green Asparagus
500 gram (1 pound) white Asparagus ***
60 gram Butter
250 gram Tagliatelle (break into small pieces before cooking)
300 gram Whipping Cream
50 gram Parmesan Cheese
(optional for all you meat lovers: Parma Ham)

Cooking Instructions:
*** If you are using 2 pounds of green asparagus and NO white one, leave all steps coloured like this out!

Boil 1 litre of water (add salt and a little sugar)
Peel white asparagus stems (like you would carrots) and cook in water for 15 minutes
Take out the white asparagus and place on cutting board. Keep the water!!
Now cut the green and the white asparagus into 5 cm (2 inch) chunks
Cook the asparagus heads (green and white) for 3 minutes in above kept water, fish out and keep.
Repeat the last step for the asparagus stems but this time cook for 5 minutes.
Now cook the Tagliatelle in the same water until just soft.
Whilst the Tagliatelle is cooking (this will not take long) whip the cream so it is still soft but not runny.
Strain the Tagliatelle with a sieve and return to empty pot, adding salt and the butter and mix. (Add cubed Parma Ham here if you use it).
Transfer Tagliatelle to a shallow oven-proof dish.
Fold asparagus pieces and heads under the cream and paste on top of the Tagliatelle.
Add Parmesan cheese and place under grill for a short time to over-bake.

Serve with dry, white (or rose) wine and French bread if you are all starving.

If you ever make this dish, let me know what you thought of it!

P.S.: Tomorrow, normal blogging will resume!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Island in the Sea

We left Copenhagen after breakfast and Jan’s suggestion of ‘showing a couple of pears something of the world’ i.e. taking them out of the restaurant for the journey would have been successful had I not noticed that they were hard enough to inflict serious injury to anything with lesser resilience than steel!
Here now started my big mistake! I replaced the full memory card in my camera with a new one. As you all know (if you have been paying attention), a whole set of pictures went for the crapper do to a faulty (i.e. this one) card.
I could gorram spit but that would not bring the pictures back and might be seen as unbecoming!
So the pictures you won’t see here are the ones from the journey to Luebeck, all photos from Hamburg and our boat trip on the Alster and through the canals of Hamburg and most photos from the island of Baltrum, including the ones where we were in a sand storm on the beach, me braving waves the size of houses and of course the pictures of me on the nudist beach (only kidding – can you imagine?? Please don’t!).

Baltrum is a very small Frisian island in the North Sea and part of a chain of islands dotted across the German mainland. You get there by leaving your car securely parked on the mainland and taking the boat across to this totally car-free piece of heaven.
The beach there is lovely. Clean, soft sand and the sea slopes gently away. Walking, swimming and sun-bathing are the main pastimes here and everybody seems relaxed and friendly.
It is a strange thing but the moment you set foot on this island, your trouble seem to vanish. . . . . unless of course you are a Muppet call Erik, who handed his suitcase to be delivered to the Sea Hotel rather than the Beach Hotel and then has to run after the guy, who by this time is already half way there! But, running does me good and as my Dad would always say: “What you haven’t got in your head, you need to have in your legs!

On the island we had all weather imaginable; sun, rain, storm, fog and I am sure snow would have been next, had we stayed any longer.

The bonus of the storm was that the waves were enormous and various guests at the hotel remarked on the fact that they were bewildered to see me diving through them, asking if I was not cold and/or scared to be washed away.
I told them that because I have the same body fat of a sea lion these things don’t worry me and they seem to nod in agreement (gorram cheek of it all).

The reason for visiting this place was that I used to come here between the ages of 5 and 12 and I was just curious if it was still as nice as I remembered it.
There were a few more houses but in essence everything was just like before.
Without cars, computers, television and other potentially stressing things, time on that island goes slowly and having walked, swam and sun-bathed all day, we usually called it a day at 8 p.m.!!! How mad is that????

Anyway, without boring you too much, here are some pictures which survived!

For a selection of photos from Baltrum click here
(Use the Slideshow facility or click photos to enlarge)

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

There's not a lot rotten in the land of Denmark

Short story of the trip Part II (you can follow the route here) :

The next morning we motored on over the Great Belt bridge to Copenhagen, our stop for the next 3 days.
Jan did a sterling job reading the map and directing me to the Admiral Hotel in Copenhagen, just around the corner from the popular Nyhavn area.
My friend Doug suggested this hotel and it was a good call.
By the time he phoned me on my mobile to see whether we had arrived we had already been to the ‘Hose of Amber’ museum, had coffee and cake just off the main shopping street and were visiting the Tivoli Gardens.
When we met up with Doug and Karen at the hotel that evening (our first meeting after over 3 years) it was as if we had seen each other just a week ago.
A great evening ensued with much laughter, much food and even more drinks.
The next day Jan and I continued our sight-seeing of Copenhagen followed by a great dinner in wonderful atmosphere courtesy of Doug and Karen, who took us to a popular restaurant inside the Tivoli.

Here then is my personal assessment of Copenhagen and if you have been there and agree/disagree, just say so by leaving a comment:

Overall impression:
Nice, airy city with a northern feel to it. All things are in walking distance or if not, the water-bus is the way to go. Alternatively you can take a bicycle a la shopping trolley (i.e. pay 20 Krona, take bike, drop of bike at another point) and cycle around! There are bicycles everywhere, so you are in good company.
People seem helpful and friendly wherever you are.

Must do/must see:
A boat trip (I suggest the red route) from Nyhavn through the various canals and including some of the main sites like ‘The Little Mermaid’ is an absolute must and the commentary (in English) is good and informative. Don’t miss doing this trip!

Tivoli Gardens – It just has to be done, otherwise you haven’t been in Copenhagen.

A walk along the Oestergade Stroeget shopping area.

There are many others depending on how much time you have.

Ouch!! a beer can cost you as much as DK40 (£3.60 or $6.80) and many other things are also expensive.

Go for one of the better hotels. It might cost more but at least you won’t stay in a box in some dingy area.

Go for seafood and Smörgås buffet wherever possible. They are great and of the freshest quality.

General feel:
Upmarket, vogue, alive and young

Best time to go:
Summer, as it can be very wet and windy any other time. Even in summer all Copenhagen people are never far away from an umbrella!

to be continued . . .

For a selection of photos from Copenhagen click here
(There are 3 pages of photos. Use the Slideshow facility or click photos to enlarge)

Monday, August 21, 2006

Why is my room moving???

Yoohoo!!! I’m baaaaaack!!
Yes, yes, yes . . I have returned to good old England and now have as much holidays left as a convicted criminal – NONE!
It was however a lovely trip with one exception, one of my picture cards has developed a fault which wiped out all pictures from Luebeck, Hamburg and nearly all pictures from Baltrum.
Having swam in the sea of depression for a while I tried to look on the bright side, i.e. I have actually been there and experienced it ‘live’ so to speak and secondly there are now much less pictures to bore you with!

Short story of the trip Part I (you can follow the route here) :
We left in good time for the drive to Harwich to catch the Dana Sirena to Esbjerg – or so we thought! We had not planned on a motorway shutdown on the opposite side, which caused a nice queue on our side due to gorram people rubber-necking to see what was going on.
Praise the Lord we did make it just in time and Jan was delighted with the Deluxe cabin I booked. Jan does not like the sea much and was not looking forward to being cooped up in a small room with a hole as a window.
The journey started well enough and Jan and I enjoyed the delightful buffet in the dining room before retiring for the night.
I was woken up at about 2 or 3 a.m. by strong rocking and shuddering as waves crashed against the side of the ship. Yup!! We had picked up some strong North-Westerly winds and because of our destination in the North East, the ship was going alongside the waves instead of cutting through them.
A bit of rough sea does not bother me much so I just went back to sleep and got up at 7 a.m. to have a shower. Big mistake! The bathroom had a high step to ensure nothing could leak out but the walk-in shower had only a small 5 centimetre surround to keep the water in. Unfortunately the rocking of the boat was so strong that I had to hold on to the safety rail with one hand whilst trying to shower with the other and every time the boat swung the other way the entire shower tray emptied into the bathroom.
Breakfast for the Deluxe passengers was served in the Commodore lounge and was a feast. Alas due to the circumstances only an old lady and I were there to enjoy it, as all other passengers were busy NOT to think of food at this time.
Jan refused to leave her bed until we got close to Esbjerg, when things had settled down.

Being the organised person I am, I had bought a special wallet to keep all important documents such as passports and tickets in. As we drove off the ship in Esbjerg I asked Jan to hand it to me, realising at the very same time that I had not given it to her at all and that I had left it on the boat! PANIC!!!
So I parked the car somewhere in the middle of the harbour and run back to the ship.
Luckily I saw a man coming down the ramp with the wallet in his hand and upon verifying my name handed it over. I am definitely losing it!!

We drove East to Odense, where we stopped for coffee and postcards before continuing to Nyborg on the Great Belt bridge. Our hotel would have been only half as good had I not insisted on a sea view room. By now it was hot and sunny again and we made use of the swimming pool, as Jan had enough of the sea.
'Jan, why is this room moving??' I asked back in our quarters.
'It isn't!' Jan replied. 'You're still feeling the motion of the ocean!' (Ooohh!)
After dinner we took some pictures and called it a day.

to be continued . . .

For a selection of photos click here
(There are 2 pages of photos. Use the Slideshow facility or click photos to enlarge)

Sunday, August 06, 2006

So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Goodbye

This is it!
We are off to Denmark and the fatherland and I just wanted to wish all the Firefly readers a peaceful 2 weeks in my absence. I will look forward to all your posts on my return but won't be able to post anything myself I guess.
On my return there will be loads of pictures available for your viewing pleasure but for now it's time to board the Dana Sirena to Esbjerg.
Happy days!

Friday, August 04, 2006

Baldrick, you wouldn't recognize a subtle plan if it painted itself purple and danced naked on a harpsicord singing 'subtle plans are here again'

So then, my dear blogging friends, my suspicions have been verified by the many honest, highly interesting and sometimes very funny comments to my last post about tattoos. I thank you for taking the time and effort to comment on it.
Looks like opinions range from a cautious
I wouldn’t personally but . . whatever bakes your cookie!
Are you completely mad, you senile old goat??!!

Seems like most people feel quite strongly against getting one or having one, which I was quite amazed about. Why?? Because nearly everyone I see, meet, talk to or hear about has got a tattoo, a stud in their tongue or a ring through their belly button.
Therefore I was expecting more of a ‘go on, knock yourself out’ attitude but I am happy to see that you people seem to have your own stance on things.

The most compelling arguments which up to now have stopped me getting one are:
It’s permanent and will I still like it in a few years time?
It’s an acquired taste and I do not want to be judged on appearance?
It’s unnecessary and doesn’t beautify me (and boy do I need beautifying!!)
If I managed up to now without one, why would I suddenly need one now?

So, with you kindly having backed up my general thinking on this matter, I can now put this thing to rest.
As they used to say in Rome: ‘Alea iacta est (the die has been cast)’
and the tattoo parlour has to do with one less customer, very much to the delight of my wife and daughter I’m sure!

Here is a tattoo I had a good giggle at!
Bless you all and thanks again for your input!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Can you see the sign??

Right, today I would like your personal opinion and/or advice on something.
Let me explain:

When I drove up to Nottingham to son No.2’s stag do a few weeks back with my good friend, we were discussing all sorts of things. Amongst them I asked him whether he had ever toyed with the idea of having a tattoo done.
To my surprise he answered that he had and that he is still thinking of doing it.
I, too, have thought about having one done (rebellion? mid-life crisis?) and we both agreed that we should find a good upmarket place and have a look at designs.

The envisaged tattoo would be similar in position and size as shown below but would be somewhat lower so that you would not see them when you are wearing a shirt with collar but you would see it wearing t-shirts, etc.

Also, it would be a symbol or something like that rather than a picture and would be black or dark in colour.
Have not decided on any motive but I guess it would be difficult to find the right thing.
I don’t want anything too big and rather have something slender rather than bulky.

Big question is:
Am I completely bonkers or should I go ahead??

Your honest answers on a comment would be appreciated!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Dreaming of Ships, Sea and Smörgås

It seems unbelievable that I have only just returned to work and yet I will be off again this Monday on another holiday trip!
This time it will only be my wife and I who will escape, leaving everyone else to fend for themselves.
Here is the journey:

(Words in red are clickable links)
Day 1:
We will be driving down to Harwich in the afternoon and will be taking the overnight ferry from Harwich to Esbjerg in Denmark

Day 2:
A short drive to Nyborg to our hotel with spectacular views over the Great Belt bridge. Visit to Svendborg for some sightseeing and dinner.

Day 3:
Drive to Copenhagen to a lovely hotel overlooking the estuary and meeting in the evening with my good friend who has been living there for some time now.

Day 4:
Copenhagen sightseeing

Day 5:
Drive to the southern tip of Denmark and ferry across into Germany.
Visit & stay overnight at my cousin’s place near Hamburg

Day 6:
Shopping spree into Hamburg

Day 7:
Drive to the North Sea and park car. Take boat over to the tiny Friesian island of Baltrum where there are no cars allowed. We used to holiday there when I was a little boy, so this will be a bit of nostalgia for me.

Day 8, 9 and 10:
Relaxing and walking on Baltrum

Day 11:
Back to the mainland and drive down to Cologne, my home town to visit my parents, brother and sister.

Day 12 and 13:
Time with my folks and Cologne shopping

Day 14:
Back through Belgium, France, through the Channel Tunnel to England

Hopefully I will be able to take some good pictures which I will set you link to on one of my posts after the event.

'I hope this hasn't put you off of flying' (Superman)

Last night son no.1 and I went to see the new Superman film at the cinema.
Can’t really say that I am a great fan of the flying man but since nobody else wanted to go with him and since he was paying I figured ‘Why not?!’.
Once we sat our way through the usual crap like adverts, films you might (or in this case) might not want to see and reminders to hurry and get yourself a coke for a gazillion Pounds Sterling (2 gazillion Dollars) the film finally started and I was wondering whether my cute behind would stand the 157 minutes this film was advertised to last.
Once it got going though I soon forgot about it and have to say that watching the visual effects and cinematography on the big screen was very nice and definitely watchable. As per usual, don’t look for any great storyline but if you go to watch a flying man this would not be your priority I guess.
Kate Bosworth as the new Lois Lane looks particularly huggable and Kevin Spacey is convincing as the baddy (even though you can’t help liking him). Brandon Routh as the new Superman is too ‘boyish’ for my liking.
Having seen the original Superman years and years ago I personally was pleased to see that some of the original ideas have been preserved (for those younger ones in the audience who weren’t even born back then) such as the music and general ‘comic book’ feel.

In summary:
Don’t go for the story – don’t go for the acting – go for the visual enjoyment.

If you want more than this, rent out Serenity!