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Thursday, 8 June 2017

The Great Western Website

After half an hour of frustration, and finding that on line the prices changed by the minute I gave up and phoned the GWR Telesales.

An older sounding man with a calm voice very quickly had booked the tickets I wanted: except I forgot to claim the Nectar points.

When I started trying to buy on line the ticket was £45 I ended up paying £41.50. After I booked two singles - not a return to Exeter and back, for  £83 my very nice man said there was a flexible return for £477! The railways'  pricing regime  is hugely confusing. There must be an industry out there helping tourists to buy reasonably priced rail tickets - for a fee.

Friday, 26 May 2017

Into the Wild Open Spaces

You know about Pixie and Dixie, our two tabby kittens.

For almost 6 months these "Children of the Revolution" have been locked up. Look you don't allow two she cats out onto the turf unless they've had their "bits and bobs" removed and there's zero chance of some randy tom putting them "Up the Junction".

At the end of April they went to the Vets to have their lineage cut short. We felt real heels but it had to be done. It took a while to catch them but when we did they came along quietly.

At the Vets we were given tranquillisers to prepare us for the inevitable. After endless reassurances that our babies would come to no harm we reluctantly left them with a very helpful nurse.

The next day we were confronted by two little Elizabethan ruffs. They looked so sweet! Our guilt grew as these tiny bundles of joy nodded their way around the house. They bumped into everything, spent hours scratching their plastic ruffs and took a while figuring out how to get their faces into their food bowls.

They are so bright. In no time at all, it was if the ruffs weren't there. We, however, felt guilty and so we decided that instead of ruffs to prevent them from opening up their stitches we'd dress them in "Onesies". So we bought baby's "Onesies" from Sainsbury's and  tailored them for two small tabbies. It didn't work. They looked awful and the clothes didn't fit. Think Donovan and "Top of the Pops" circa 1965.

Then they were given the all clear. The stitches were fine, they were healing perfectly and at last the little blighters could be unleashed on an unsuspecting back garden. Except we were so nervous about letting our little treasures out into the wild open spaces.

We bought them harnesses and leads. That would work wouldn't it. We'd let them out into the garden on leads. No chance of them bounding off into infinity and beyond. At the beginning of this week we tried to get our little bundles of joy dressed up in their harnesses and leads. Dixie was fine. She took to it like a fish to water. She was tentative - wouldn't you be - but she knew that outside meant unlimited opportunities to catch flies.

Pixie would have none of it. The sight of a harness had her flying upstairs, so in the end we took the plunge, left open the back door and prayed. They were out like a shot. Scampering all over the garden, even Ginja the Ninja joined in chasing the kittens in and out of the pots and shrubs.

They are a delight. They are so free, so adventurous and so tired after 14 hours haring around the place, eating more flies than the Lord of the Flies knew existed.

We have to monitor their progress as do all good, concerned  parents, so one of us is there making sure that should they climb a tree we tell them to get down. Their joy is tinged with our sadness. We know that their kitten days are drawing to a close.

At the moment I have two little gems completely zonked out at my feet.

Monday, 24 April 2017

“This Beard Is for Siobhan”

Walthamstow log: 24th April 2017:16:00hrs

We'd been told that the hipster tide had peaked and now was receding: leaving the flotsam and jetsam of funny beards, tweed waistcoats and brown brogues stranded on the High Street. In our Post Brexit, Pre Teresa Tyranny world we thought we were safe from newly opened artisan pizza parlours, craft beer outlets and hand baked slow raised rye and  bacterial leavening breads.

It was a false dawn; that hipster tide was simply taking a breather. It has found renewed vigour and is this very instant lapping against the portals of the Coidan household. I'm talking beards. I'm talking many beards, beards of all shapes and sizes. Fool that I was to believe that Good Ole King Gillette had vanquished the hirsute visages that had populated every TV screen, every style mag and high end hang out. Not at all.

In the good old days you were able to go into your local and find a place to lean against the bar and sup your pint with ample breathing space between you and the next imbiber. Not anymore. Now entering your local is like discovering that your horse hair mattress has sprung a leak. You can't turn around without finding yourself with a face full of someone else's beard. Our pub has banned frothy beer and the wringing out of beards more than once of an evening. Some evenings you'd be forgiven for thinking you'd happened upon a ZZTops' or Demon Hunter's Beard convention.

This beardiness is contagious: even those of us used to a regular wet shave with brush and soap bowl have been struck down by the beardy lurgy. I...have...grown...face fungus. I know, it took a lot to spit out that. I have a beard! It was an accident - honest. At the time I switched to a new shaving cream my face became sore. I thought it might be the change in routine so I stopped shaving and continued stopping until I had quite a face full of hair. I rather liked the badger white stripe down the middle of my chin - made me look grizzled but in a nice way.

The beard kept growing and I liked the extra 20 minutes in bed not shaving every morning gave me. The missus was quite restrained, only infrequently commenting on the remains of meals stuck in my beard or my passing resemblance to a walrus. I think it was last Friday at a neighbour's wedding reception at our local - the one infested with beards - I decided that something had to be done with my bewhiskered phizog. The bridegroom had had his brush trimmed and it looked quite fetching.

So this morning saw me popping along to Walthamstow's own "man shop" - The Cove to have a beard trimming. The missus thinks I now look quite respectable - which can't be bad can it?