Posted on Dec 1, 2013 in Culture, General | 0 comments

My grand papa used to say that we are all as rich as we feel and that money in the bank is nothing if you’re not happy.

That was interesting wisdom from an old Indian. Banks back then were even less safe than Northern Rock in the UK a few years ago, but the bit about being as rich as you feel is right on target I think. It has to do with what you have against what those around you have.

I wish I could attain that spiritual wealth of having no envy, but I know that will never be my case. Right now, we’re all students together and not many of us have money. The ones who do have the decency to behave as if they didn’t.

In this piece someone is writing about how ‘wealthy’ gets to be a bigger number the more you have. If you earn £15 grand a year then your mate who earns £20k a year is rich – and so they are, they have 25% more income than you. And strangely the person on £100k or more is barely even relevant as they are so far from anything you can relate to.

Hey look at me – I envy the guy, or girl, who has a better bike than me!

But having said that I don’t really care. I completely love my Charge Plug fixie.

The article says people think you’ve made it when you have a detached house, a high end car, and, get this, a range cooker!

Blimey guys, I’ll be over the moon when I can afford my own studio flat, I don’t care how small it is if it’s mine. I’ll own as few things as possible, just a decent Mac computer, a fold down bed, or maybe a bed over the sofa, need good height for that though.2380

As for a high end car and a range cooker – I want one of these Belling things with two hot plates and a grill come over like we have in the student digs. I can’t believe the damned thing is nearly £350 though, I thought the landlord was being tight giving us a crappy little cooker.

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Insuring my phone

Posted on Oct 26, 2013 in General | 0 comments

One of the things that went through my mind last week when I nearly went swimming while attached to my bike was that my iPhone would have been buggered if I’d have landed in the drink. Modern phones and water don’t mix well, not unless you have a super modern water proof one like I think Samsung have started doing.

I got home, bathed, pulled two nasty thorns out from my hands, and then once comfortable did a quick bit of research before finding these guys:, for a few quid a month the phone is now protected. I signed up there and then.

Can you ever imagine losing your phone? Blimey, that’d be awful. Even if I drowned it that wouldn’t be as bad. At least I’d know that no thieving gippo could get at everything I hold dear in the world. That and my rather explicit photo collection!

Oh God, that’ll get the brothers going again.

I promise that I will not mention the family men again for one month at least! And maybe that way they won’t come and find me and torture me in the name of our father’s honour (that by the way is our father who used to abuse them, and beat mother, all before his accident).

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Parcelling all over the world

Posted on Sep 1, 2013 in General | 0 comments

ParcelWell, home again, and everything is pretty much the same as it was.  Mum has her new bathroom ensuite; dad has his little girl back before she runs off to university, and all is well.

I am sending some British food to Andor, and I’ve bought him loads of stuff, including a little kitchen gadgety thing I thought he would like (he’s a great cook) so I’m going to need a better, more cost-effective delivery service than boring old Royal Mail.

Having dug through a bunch of sites offering the world delivered in a box, I decided on this website called Delivery Quote Compare.  It makes all the different delivery companies fight for your custom, which means that you end up with a price which is something like 60% better than what you might have had otherwise.

Pretty good in my book.  I’m sending Andor a Rose Prince cookbook (the best one), stem ginger, a tiny box of handmade chocolates, and some chocolate drops for cooking with (there’s a chocolate factory just down the road from me), two vacpacked steaks from Scotland (the delivery van is going to have to be both refrigerated and fast), some Bramley apples, a box of ready-made stuffing (sage and onion of course) so that he can see how bad stuffing can get if you don’t make it yourself, and some King Edwards potatoes because they’re the best in the world.  And the kitchen gadget?  A cool garlic crusher which has a kind of bend in it.  You press it down on the garlic and it goes right through to the other side, much easier to clean and one of best designs ever.  And totally British.

He’s going to make steak and mushroom pie with mash, and apple crumble, and then send me the pictures.  Love it!

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Label this

Posted on May 30, 2013 in General, Travel | 0 comments

One of the things I really like about travelling is the packaged food. I know how stupid that sounds, most of the time packaged food just tastes rubbish, but when it’s done particularly well, it can be really lovely.

I’ve spent a bit of time analysing the fare available on the train here, it’s not at all like British train food. Even though they must have the same problems here as they do at home, in terms of getting fresh food to stay fresh and still looking as nice on the third day as it does on the first; I’ve worked in restaurants and know what the three day rule is, and persuading the lovely general public not to shake it around until it looks like something an orang-utan put together is a bit of a challenge.

I did wonder if it had anything to do with the type of food it is, but once I checked out the menu, I realised not. They are basically the same; sandwiches, salads, snacks and hot and cold drinks. I bought a sandwich, a salad, a portion of garlicky olives and a small platter of French cheeses from the kiosk on the train today and I’ve slowly worked my way through them, examining every morsel. They really are better.

I did notice, however, that the sandwiches are made on the train. Not to order, exactly, but put together as and when the staff have time. They have a lot of generic packaging, you know, like a plastic box that fits a salad or a pudding or a portion of olives. But then it’s sealed and a gorgeous sticker is placed over the edge of the opening, so if you accidentally left it on the counter and had to go back for it 20 minutes later, you’d know if someone had been in there and stolen the ham.

The printed labels really are lovely, too. They’ve got all the ingredients, the name of the product and the logo, but the image is unusual, it’s probably something to do with the train and the quality is really good.

I did a little shopping around, even though I’m not thinking about creating a product of any kind at the moment, but you never know when these things might come in handy. Okay, I admit it, I’m addicted to address labels and the best supplier I could find was at Of course, I have no idea how much they would cost, as they operate a quote system, but the quality of their labelling is excellent and they have the latest digital imaging equipment, which sounds pretty cool to me.

Don’t worry; I’m not about to order 6,000 labels; not today, anyway.


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The universal ‘huh?’ sign

Posted on May 4, 2013 in General, Travel | 0 comments

Left to my own devices in my fantastic city centre apartment, I hit Facebook to brag about where I was to the entire world. Where would I be without that opportunity to show off?

Well, it turns out I’d be fed for a start. By the time I looked up from the computer it was getting dark outside and bearing in mind what time sunset is at the moment, that wasn’t good. It was way late.

It was then I realised why staying in a hotel might have been more sensible, however cheap and nasty. I couldn’t even call a taxi and ask them to take me to a takeaway. Ha, ‘take me to a takeaway’, I was delirious, probably due to lack of food.

I could hear lots of people laughing outside; the weather was gorgeous and still warm even though the sun was disappearing and the smell of something burning. It was a barbecue, but more importantly a nearby barbecue.

I realised I would have to take my life in my hands and see if the people who were eating, laughing and judging by the clinks, drinking, would be nice enough to share what they had. I hoped they weren’t scary or worse still, old.

As I stuck my head around the corner of my condo I could see a whole crowd of people talking and laughing around what looked like a paddling pool. I couldn’t see how old they were, but my tummy rumbled and I knew what I had to do.

I pulled my stomach in, convinced it to shut up grumbling, pulled my hair back in a pony tail and headed for the garden fence. Closer in, I realised they were young people, probably older than me, but not by much.

I edged a bit closer and peeped over the fence. The barbecue was massive, like an entire lamb or pig or something. The smell of crackling filled my nose; everyone was eating shredded meat out of napkins and shoved into bread buns. My stomach gave a howl, which I think must have silenced the music and everyone turned suddenly towards me.

Now that was a moment of fear, but thank goodness it didn’t last too long. The bloke who was turning the pig on the spit smiled a massive grin and walked towards me. He was saying something and waving his hands about, but of course I didn’t have a clue what he was talking about.

I made the classic ‘huh?’ signal, turning my palms over upwards and shrugging with an enquiring look. Anyone could tell I was trying to communicate without speaking. He stopped dead and looked at his friends. “I don’t speak Slovak, sorry,” I stumbled over the English words. He nodded, understanding, I hoped. “You English?” he asked.

Thank goodness. “Yes, I’m English, please can I join you?” My mother’s politeness never fails, even in a foreign situation. Now it was his turn to make the universal ‘huh?’ sign. Now we were both in trouble.

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Express delivery!

Posted on May 1, 2013 in General | 0 comments

Loader worker, home deliveryto the station and dumping all their wares on board.  I started wondering if there was anything out there (I mean on the web of course) that acts as a kind of directory for delivery service throughout the country.

If there wasn’t, then wouldn’t that be a gap in the internet market?

Ha.  There is.  I think it styles itself on the ‘’ and ‘’ sites.  You type in what items you need moving; you then get free quotes from various companies in the area.  You can read customer reviews of the services first and then choose which company you want to go with.  Simples!

My dad used to run a food business which needed a delivery service that was prompt, direct and reliable.  I remember the telephone conversations he used to have with delivery companies.  “Why have they not arrived?  What do you mean they have?  My customer says they haven’t!  Have you got a signature?  Why not?” and so on.  Cue kilos of meat going bad in the back of some plonker’s van.  My dad had pretty good insurance, which I’m sure saved his business more times than he’d like to say.

What most people need from a delivery service is timeliness and reliability.  I’m not an expert, but then it’s hardly rocket science.  Provided genuine customers are putting real reviews online on this site, I think this kind of service directory is a great idea!

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