Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Not so stationary...

This weekend I renewed my Young Person's Railcard. Not so remarkable in itself, until I realised that this would be the 8th such railcard I have held... and that of the previous 7, they just so happen to have been renewed at 5 different stations!
2001/02: St.Albans
2002/03-2004/05: Reading
2005/06: Newport, Gwent (Wales)
2006/07: Scarborough
2007/08: York

So, this weekend, since we were in Macclesfield to visit Michael's parents, I decided to renew my railcard a day early and thus at yet another different station.

I couldn't begin to guess how many thousands of miles that short list of railcards covers! I wonder if, in those 7 years, I have travelled the equivalent of circumnavigating the Earth by rail (~24,000 miles). I may well have done!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Excusez-moi, monsieur?

I don't know what we're doing wrong.

Sometimes, Michael and I go out for dinner. That, I believe, is not unusual.
We arrive. We are shown to a table and are given menus to peruse. Usually, then someone comes to ask us if we're ready, to which the answer is usually 'Can we please have a few more minutes?'. We subsequently order and receive appropriate courses in a timely fashion.
Then... and here's where the problem arises... nothing happens. We have clearly finished. Empty dessert dishes and coffee cups are cleared. And then the 'how do we get the bill' dance begins. There follows several minutes of trying to catch the eye of a waiter, putting a wallet/purse on the table, etc... and still no bill. Other tables receive their bills, pay and are off into the night. Not us. Eventually we end up practically grabbing the sleeve of a passing waiter to request the bill, at which point they seem totally surprised to see us still there and go to get it. It seems that eating a nice meal renders the pair of us utterly invisible.

I don't know what we're doing wrong. Any ideas?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Yellow ribbons

On walking back from the station on Sunday night, I walked past a tree outside the Catholic church in the town centre. It was Remembrance Sunday and looking up, I saw what appeared to be a hundred or more yellow ribbons tied to the tree. It seemed an appropriate and beautiful thing to do on such a day.
Except, they weren't yellow ribbons. They were simply yellow leaves. Not one orange one, green one, red one, brown one. All bright yellow.
Walking beneath them, they almost seemed to be nature's way of mourning those who are gone, but not forgotten.

[I once again apologise for the gap in posts. I will try to catch up a little, but I make no promises!]

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Ah, that's better...

As of Monday evening, I now have internet access which works reliably (and for which I am paying!). It's nice to be back online. As someone recently said "How.did.I.ever.live.without.Google?!". My to-do list is seriously long, as there were so many things which I couldn't easily do without the internet - book train tickets, get pictures for kids activities, browse/research purchases, get new recipes, etc, etc. But now I am back and some of those things have got done.

In other news, Michael is away at the moment, has been for about 1½weeks, will be back in 1½weeks. Boohoo! *pout* Last week he was helping out at a church holiday club in his parents' parish, this week he's co-running the kids activities at a Christian family holiday thing (not exactly sure what that is *blush*), next week he's on a cathedral singing course in Ely.
And the week after that is the holiday club at St.Luke's. I seem to be somewhat managing the 3-5yo group, of whom there may be about 30. There are 4 or 5 other adults in that team, so it should be ok. I have so much prep still to do though!
Last weekend, I did get some of it done though. I need to make 4 large cutout figures of Bible characters (similar to the ones you get advertising DVD's sometimes). Well, adult size would be too big, so I asked if I could borrow 'Little Miss J' - my friend Susannah's little girl, who's 4yo. This was agreed and last Sunday at church, Susannah asked if I would like to come over for lunch and get the drawing done. I readily agreed, and to cut a long story short, the afternoon turned into a barbecue in their back garden with another couple of families and I didn't get home until just before 10pm! It was fantastic afternoon, sitting in the sunshine, watching Little Misses J & S and Babies S & E (Baby S is Little Miss J's little brother - E & S are both a little over 1yo), drinking Pimms and chatting. Very, very nice!

Oh, I got a new job! From next week, I will no longer be working in the X-ray office. I will be working in MRI. This time, it's a permanent position (as opposed to agency temping, which is what I've been doing for the past 10 months), with somewhat better pay (not hard!) and better holidays (even easier!). I'll be booking in patients, answering phone calls, making appointments, etc. I think I'm looking forward to it, although it's a little daunting.

Apart from that, I'm glad the weather has cooled off a little, and I'm looking forward to 'Greenbelt '08 - Rising Sun', where we're working in the Children's Festival (can you spot a theme yet?!)

I think that's all for now. I'll be back when I think of something else.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Internet Outtage

I have now been without the internet at home for nearly 2 weeks, but I should be reconnected on Monday. My housemate moved out and took the connection, which was in her name, as she is fully entitled to do. So, I have spent a goodly amount of time this past fortnight getting a new BT line and a new broadband connection. Should be up on Monday.

At the moment, I'm piggy-backing on a neighbour's unsecured WiFi (don't know who). The signal is bad though and I have to sit very still or it kicks me off.

That's all for now, methinks. More interesting (maybe) update will follow.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Prince and the Paw-Paw

Tonight's Dinner:
Main course
Steak and chilli bean wrap with chunky guacamole and sour cream



Both delicious. One less than a tenth of the price of the other!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


The blood test came back "entirely normal and so no further action is needed". I think that's good!

I do however need a new inhaler to get my asthma back under control. Stupid rain/pollen!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Strawberries & Passionfruit

I have started a new blog.

This one will continue to be for the fluffy/everyday stuff.

Over there will be where I talk about more serious stuff.

It's at http://wayofmicah.blogspot.com.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

I don't like needles

But that didn't stop a lady using one to pinch some of my blood this afternoon and taping a little bit of cotton wool taped to my arm... although I guess I did ask her to and she was a phlebotomist.

After several people in the past week have mentioned having issues with their thyroids, I thought I would look up what that meant. And the symptoms were rather familiar, so I concluded that I wouldn't lose anything by getting checked out and if I was right then it might explain why, among other things, I am *always* tired, even when I get a decent amount of sleep.
So, I was at the GP this afternoon (4:10pm). He said he thought it unlikely, but he sent me for a blood test anyway to check - for TSH, kidney, iron, potassium, sodium, liver and full blood count. I guess he thought while I was there we may as well look at lots of things to check those too. I had to go to the hospital for the blood draw, but they were open until 5 so I thought I may as well go tonight and then I'll get the results back sooner (about a week).

I'm not too worried. I've been tired for nearly as long as I can remember, so if it's simply that I don't get enough sleep then that hasn't changed, and if there's something wrong, it can be treated/fixed, etc.

And Stephanie... Here's how I did my favicon:

  • First I made a 16x16 pixel image. The maker I linked before is good for doing that.
  • Then I saved it as favicon.ico. I put mine in the images folder of the website, but you don't have to.
  • You then need to insert the following code into your Header section of the website:
    <link rel="shortcut icon" href="images/favicon.ico" type="image/vnd.microsoft.icon">
    <link rel="icon" href="images/favicon.ico" type="image/x-icon" />
    <link rel="shortcut icon" href="images/favicon.ico" type="image/x-icon" />

    where the green bit is the location of the picture.
    I'm not totally sure how or why those work, but they do. I think you need them all because different browsers work in different ways.

Hope that helps.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Still Here

I have once again left this blog abandoned for far too long! Life has been just a smidgeon hectic of late though!!

I last blogged just after getting back from St.Albans for Easter. Since then, I have spent a week in Mallorca with Michael's family, staying in a village called Fornalutx (near Soller, NW-ish of island). The week was lovely (~20'c for most of the week) and the house was amazing. (I've not got long, but I'll try to post pictures another time).

The following weekend, we went to Hob Green Hotel (kinda near Harrogate) to celebrate Michael's brother's 21st and his maternal grandad's 80th. I'd met some of them before, but some of them I hadn't. They're all really nice people and I had a fab weekend.

This weekend just gone, Mum, Dad & Tim were up visiting. Many yummy meals and a visit to the Minster were enjoyed by most (Michael & Tim went to watch Man Utd v. Chelsea in the pub instead of the Minster trip because they've done it before. A really, really wonderful, relaxing and silly weekend.

Oh, in other news, I doubt I will be working at the hospital for more than another week or so, as the films are being moved to off-site storage, so there won't be a job for me to do. I don't know what I will be doing next.

Life looks like it *might* be letting up a bit... we'll see.

(And Stephanie, I saw your message - I will post here about that, hopefully soon, too!)

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Iconic Spring Clean

I've been having a bit of a spring clean round here and have cleared out my Blogroll on the right. A number of dead links have gone and the still-alive-but-barely links have been moved to the bottom of the sidebar in their own list. I have also found a rather shiny new icon for the Updated indicator (found at http://www.iconarchive.com/).

Which reminds me - I had my first attempt at a bit of pixel art this week, trying to convert this:

into an icon to use as a favicon for the HRMC website.
I tried shrinking the file with FrontPage, but that produced this:

and then this:

Rather blurred and thus not so good.

So I tried this website and created this:

Which I'm quite pleased with. (Click icon for larger version).
To check how it looks in situ, go here.

Btw, I doubt there will be more updates for a week or so, as I am going away (Will tell you more when I get back...)

PS. And thanks to Michelle for bringing the Google translator to my attention - it can now be found towards the bottom of the sidebar. And apologies to her & Jim for the intermittent fault with the BitmapWorld graphic that keeps vanishing (or at least it does for me!). Can anyone else see a graphic link for it on the sidebar...?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Less-than-Multiple Choices

On a slightly silly note...

Michael & I came up with a new term last night...

When answering multiple choice questions, it's frequently the case that there is at least one answer that it just could not be. I commented on this and came up with the following example:
Question: What colour is the sky?
A: Red
B: Yellow
C: Green
D: Blue
E: Parrot

This lead to the coining of the term 'the Parrot', meaning the option/answer that it just cannot be because it makes no sense at all.

A more 'real life' example might be a TV phone-in with the question: "For the Benefit of... who?" was a song by the Beatles? A: Mr Kite, B: Mr Jones, C: Mr Blobby. (In case you missed it, C is the Parrot!).

A bloom by any other epithet (aka Language 1)

England is a single country, right? Where everyone speaks the same language, yeah? Not so much!
Since moving 'oop North' about 18 months ago, there have been a number of occasions where I have felt like I am speaking a whole other language to those around me.

The first and most obvious perhaps is the area of Dialect. I have learnt a surprising number of new words in the past year or so. Do you know what the following mean (answers will be given later)?

  1. Nithered
  2. Pack-up
  3. Sand shoes (I have come across 4 different terms for these!)
  4. Bread cake
  5. Riggweltered
  6. Canny
  7. more to come

And similarly, in my various dealings with American English, there have been a number of words that I have had to look up, often resulting in an outburst of "Oh! It's one of those!" when the item turned out to be something I knew very well, but not by that name. Such as:

  1. Skillet
  2. Ground meat
  3. Shredded cheese
  4. Rutabega
  5. Thrift store
  6. Duplex
  7. Jumper (US)
  8. Biscuit (US)
  9. Sausage (US)
  10. Baseboard

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Look-alikes 2

For part 1, see here.
Watching the rugby just now, I was struck by how much the French Manager, Jo Maso, looks like celebrity tapdancer, Lionel Blair:

And just to let those few who still visit here know... there are about 4 posts in the pipeline (including 3 'themed' ones!). However, unlike Michelle, Jenni or Kate/Cakes seem to, I struggle with writing anything coherent and thus these things take a lot of mulling-over-whilst-filing-Xrays. I'm working on it, though!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Chilli is the Spice of Life

About 2 weeks ago, something happened to me that does not happen very often but is serious when it does... I ran out of chilli powder! Now, I know that several of you who read this blog know about me and my chilli con carne.
For those who don't know, chilli con carne is my 'trademark' recipe. Now, I'm not saying that it is a very good recipe or that it is particularly delicious. It is simply a recipe that I know how to do very well, is cheap, very flexible and I can cook & serve it in less than half an hour. I try to always have the ingredients to serve 4 in the house to cook at short notice, although that doesn't always work out.
So, the other week, I was making chilli for tea. I was part way through and well beyond the point of no return, when I added the all-important chilli powder... and a very light dusting came out - and that was it! I looked at the tub and it was indeed empty! I was amazed firstly that I had managed to use a whole jar up, and secondly that I hadn't noticed that it was getting so low. I managed to make up for it with alternatives, but still!

So, I hear you wondering (possibly so quietly that even you can't hear it), what is this amazing recipe? Well, Marie once asked me what goes into chilli and I said that you needed: minced beef, some sort of beans and something spicy as a minimum. However, here is the slightly more advanced version...

Serves 4 hungry people (easily feeds 5) - can be doubled/trebled/halved as needed, ~100g meat per person.

You will need:

  • 500g/1lb minced beef/ground beef
    (I use lean/low-fat because it comes out less greasy and more tasty)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • a small amount of flavourless oil, eg. vegetable.
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped (any colour, though I think red looks best)

  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed/chopped very finely (optional)
  • 1 can (~400g) kidney beans in chilli sauce (in brine works, but doesn't taste as good)

  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • Tomato puree
  • 1 beef oxo (stock) cube
  • Chilli seeds in oil (comes in a small jar or a tube, usually in spice aisle)

  • and of course... Mild chilli powder (using mild gives more control over the strength)

  • A big wok or frying pan to cook it in!

What you have to do:

  1. Heat the oil in the pan over a medium heat (I usually put a tiny piece of onion in - when it starts to sizzle it's ready). Fry onion and garlic with 1tsp of chilli powder, until soft (2-3 mins).
  2. Add beef and fry until brown, stirring frequently.
  3. Sprinkle oxo cube over meat, add a good squirt of tomato puree (1-2 tsp), a good sprinkling of chilli powder (maybe 2tsp) and about 1 tsp of chilli-in-oil and stir in. Taste and add more powder/chillis as desired.
  4. Add beans and tinned tomatoes and stir in. Heat for a few minutes, until hot through. Add chopped pepper, stir in and simmer for a few minutes.
  5. Serve with rice (or pasta). Also good with sour cream or grated/shredded cheese on top. Nachos work well with it too.

There you go. Enjoy!

Thursday, February 14, 2008


Ok, well, this is a little late, as we are now over a week into Lent.
In an attempt to become a more reliable blogger, however, I am going to write about it anyway.
This year, I have become more aware of Lent than I have in previous years. That may be connected to attending a 'higher' church this year (full bells & smells). Last Wednesday, we attended an Ashing Service. This was a normal communion service (except it was Wednesday) but it also included the vicar/priest putting ashes on our foreheads in the sign of the cross. This was to remind us that 'from dust you came and to dust you shall return' and as an outward sign of inward penitence/repentence (I think!).
The church is running a series of weekly Lent talks entitled 'Walk the Walk', focussing on different aspects of the Christian journey. This week's was by Margaret Sentamu (wife of John, Archbishop of York... the one who cut up his dog collar in protest against Mugabe). She spoke on 'Excess Baggage' and on the things that are holding us back from a fuller walk with God/Jesus. Her main quotation was 'Worry is like a rocking chair. It gives us something to do, but doesn't get us anywhere'.

In terms of what I've given up for lent... I have given up chewing my fingernails and have taken up having a proper breakfast everyday. So far, it's going well.

I have a couple of other posts planned... Watch this Space!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Temporary outtage

Well, as you can see, I didn't get those pictures taken. Sorry! I did get essentially all my Christmas shopping done that day though.

The Christmas break was good. For once, I had managed to book my ticket early enough that it was significantly cheaper to go 1st class than I was expecting it to be to standard class, so I treated myself (although it was actually a Rail Replacement bus after about half way!).
Christmas Day was spent at home with 8 of us round the table and was very nice. Lots of silly games and quizzes, as well as much enjoyment of giving and unwrapping.
Boxing Day was at Nan's house for tea with 12 adults and 2 tinies. Here's Nan with her most recent (5th) great-grandchild. She's 81 in this pic, but she turned 82 last week. Jonathan is 4 months here.

I then spent a few days at home before travelling 250 miles north to the Lake District for the New Year.
As last year, we did something of a whistle-stop tour, taking in Kendal, Threlkeld, Keswick, Derwentwater, Coniston and Ambleside, before dropping in to visit Michael's mum's Godmother in Grange-over-Sands on the way back home. All apart from Threlkeld were in
YHA hostels and were all excellent. If you haven't stayed in one for a long time or haven't ever, then I would recommend them.

  1. Seeing a real, live, wild Red Squirrel on the birdfeeder outside while having breakfast at Derwentwater YHA.

    (No, I didn't take the picture - it came from Wikipedia).
  2. Feeding crackers to several quite brave chaffinches before our walk on Jan 2nd. They came within 5 feet of us, but then would realise it and scoot off. They did come back though.
  3. Getting to the top of Latrigg on Jan 1st and managing to see the views of Keswick just before the mists came down.

Lowlights (is that a word?):

  1. Not managing to take any decent pictures from the top of Latrigg before the mists came down:
  2. Sliding a short distance down Latrigg on my behind in the mud.
  3. Realising (as we were getting off the once-an-hour train from Kendal to Oxenholme) that we had left a bag of walking boots on the back seat of the car when we dropped it back at the hire-car place. We then had to wait 20 minutes or so for the train to go back, walk back to the car place, collect the bag and then sit back on the station platform in the pouring rain for the train to come back and once again get to Oxenholme. Thankfully, the tickets we had for the rest of the journey were still valid and we actually travelled on a nicer train (albeit probably a lot more crowded!).

In other news:
My 24th birthday was 9th Jan, which I celebrated with a lovely meal out with Michael and my brother, Tim. We went to the Punch Bowl on Stonegate (not to be confused with the Wetherspoon's on Blossom St, also called the Punch Bowl!), which is a really lovely pub/restaurant. Not too pricey with decent-sized, delicious, quite simple meals. We then came home via the
Three-legged Mare (aka Wonky Donkey) where we got ID'd. Harumph.

Since then, not a lot has happened, although on Friday I did have my first sick day off from work/school in nearly 8 years. I managed half an hour, before concluding that I really wasn't well and came home again, suffering toothache and severe nausea. I spent most of Friday in bed feeling sorry for myself (Michael came over to my house and looked after me, which was nice). By Friday night, I was still in a lot of pain, so Michael suggested I call NHS Direct to find a dentist who was open on Saturdays. They were very helpful and this morning I had an appointment with a very nice dentist (yes, really!) who told me I had an infection under my gum where my wisdom tooth is coming through, so I'm now on amoxycillin 3 times a day for the next few days.

Work at the hospital continues. I screwed up on the closing date for a job I really wanted, but at least I now have a good personal statement prepared and have updated my CV, so when I find something else it won't take as long to fill in the forms.

I think that's all for now. Once again, I'll try to be more prompt with my next update!