Posts in category personal - page 9

Another meme

Questions stolen from the same source as the last one ;-)

  1. Time of starting? 21:43
  2. Were you named after anyone? Indeed, after the priest in The Exorcist.
  3. Do you wish on stars? Not really.
  4. When did you last cry? A couple of months ago when I tripped while running and had to go to hospital. Needed glue stitches and a couple of visits to the dentist :(
  5. Do you like your hand writing? Very much so, I’ve been gradually learning calligraphy and adding flourishes. My pencil writing still looks like a school teachers ABC board tho.
  6. What is your favorite meat? Chicken.
  7. What is the most embarrassing CD on your shelf? Shakespear’s Sister – Hormonally Yours. We all make mistakes.
  8. If you were another person, would YOU be friends with you? Yes but one of us would actually need to arrange something social…
  9. Are you a daredevil? _ Sometimes. Last year I went rock climbing and white water rafting and I ski every year. Next year is going to have a parachute in it.
  10. Have you ever told a secret you swore not to tell? Most likely although I fail to recall any at the moment…
  11. How do you release anger? I tend to get stuff of my chest the moment it arrives so there’s never much to release.
  12. Where is your second home? No idea, not too sure where my first home is. I move house. Rather a lot.
  13. Do you trust others easily? Depends very much on the person and scenario.
  14. Favorite toy? My car. Fun, responsive and just downright enjoyable regardless of whether it’s a 3 minute or 3 hour journey.
  15. Do you use sarcasm a lot? Nope.
  16. Have you ever been in a mosh pit? I’ve been in a sort of moshy area at Watersplash in Jersey. Probably doesn’t count but it did get very physical.
  17. What do you look for in a guy/girl? There’s no one thing, it’s whole package/combination thing.
  18. Would you do a bungee jump? It doesn’t appeal to me because there’s no involvement. You jump, you wait, you get off, you try not to be sick. Give me a solo parachute jump or hang-glider…
  19. Do you untie your shoes when you take them off? No, my shoes are sufficiently large enough to slide off and on without such tedium.
  20. What’s your favorite ice cream flavor? Cool Britannia from Ben & Jerry’s was the best but alas, gone. Strawberry cheesecake is good too.
  21. What are your favorite colors? Depends totally on what it’s applied to.
  22. What is your least favorite thing? Seafood.
  23. How many people do u have a crush on right now? Eine, un, uno, 0x01, 00000001, 1, one.
  24. What do you miss most right now? My girlfriend but we’ll be spending Christmas together so not long to wait.
  25. What color underwear are you wearing? Black.
  26. What are you listening to right now? The loud clickety click of my keyboard.
  27. If you were a crayon, what colour would you be? Some sort of non-primary color. Maybe this one.
  28. What is the weather like right now? Overcast, cold and windy. Welcome to the UK.
  29. Last person you talked to on the phone? My girlfriend.
  30. The first thing you notice about the opposite sex? I don’t notice the opposite sex any more honest ;-)
  31. Favorite drink? Cherry Coke.
  32. Favorite alcoholic drink? WKD Blue or Lager + lime.
  33. Eye color? Blue.
  34. Wear contacts? Most of the time but today is glasses day.
  35. Siblings? Three sisters and two brothers. Christmas can be tricky.
  36. Favorite month? July.
  37. Favorite food? Spiced forms of chicken – curry, fajitas, bbq…
  38. Last movie you watched? The Lost Boys (we have a movie night at mine once a week). Going to see Goblet of Fire tonight.
  39. Favorite day of the year? I’m not going to say Christmas…
  40. Have you ever been too shy to ask someone out? A few times but more often than not I’ve gone for it.
  41. Scary movies or happy endings? Neither.
  42. Summer or winter? Winter despite July being my favorite month. I’m a snow king wrapped in Goretex.
  43. Hugs or kisses? Depends on the occasion and recipient.
  44. What book/magazine are you reading at the mo? I’ve actually picked back up Dan Brown’s Deception Point. There’s a chance I’ll finish it this time.
  45. Time of finishing 22:19 – I was multi-tasking.


Höchstadt, now and then

I’m just back from another trip to Germany, this time by way of Gatwick and on to Munich by redeeming some BA miles that had accumulated.

I thought about writing another little travelogue but then it wouldn’t make much sense as my previous trip to Höchstadt is still undocumented – I left readers wandering around the outskirts of Paris. So here’s the short version…

End of travelogue, July

Parc Asterix was so overcrowded we filled in a complaint form and left. Queues were about 2-3 hours long for anything at all. We returned on the Monday knowing the French kids would be back at school and it was much better, the water rides proving to be very refreshing in the hot July sun and queues that only lasted about 15 minutes. A month or so ago I got an apology letter from the Parc and a free single-entry pass for the 2005-2006 season… for one. :(

We abandoned my car at Charles de Gaulle and flew into Nuremberg where Clarissa’s parents had arranged a very nice hotel who’s name I have since forgotten so there goes the plug. Any hotel that does a complimentary beer is a good one in my books and it made a change from the faceless Ibis that we’d hit a couple of times. I got to try some German food including currywurst – a giant sausage in a spicy tomato sauce – and the Numberger which consists of a bun containing a variable number of small grilled sausages. Yum.

We met Clarissa’s friends, played pool and saw some great sights and because the hotel was only available for a few nights, moved my things to Clarissa’s parents lovely house where we I stayed for the remainder of the trip. Their garden is a little like a jungle and vines scale one of the walls right up to the roof top… All German houses seem to have these outside window shutters, presumably to stop stray branches etc flying through them and to help keep in the warmth.

The green fields and endless forests make me miss living somewhere that has them. Guernsey is fine if you like beaches, sailing, working in a bank or want to grow old but has precious little else to offer. One review said it was more continental than England, relaxed with good food, while still retaining the familiarity. I think he was trying to give the island a compliment but to me this came out as “less relaxed than Europe and still retaining the parts of England you wanted to leave behind.”

We shopped in Erlangen where I picked up possibly the only pair of sunglasses to ever fit the shape of my face for a bargain €9 only to loose them two weeks later at my sisters wedding. In Nuremberg we found “British Empire” and I was able to stock up on a few cans of Irn-Bru and Cherry Coke. My Marmite supply was not in need of replenishment – Clarissa and her family had been avoiding it since I took the lid off.

We picked up a small bonsai tree and named her Emma. I had a Serissa at home called Toby, which was not doing too well when I left him. He passed away while I was on holiday despite frequent watering by my sister. Despite the claims these are indoor plants Emma immediately had problems which were immediately (well, 2 days) solved by leaving her outside in the shade.

The flight back to Paris was without incident, as was the drive back to Saint Malo. My friends father had let out all his holiday homes and so I was settled for another basic-but-has-hot-water Ibis. I should probably have joined their rewards scheme but I didn’t want to encourage myself to stay there any more often than I have already.

Last week

And so, some three months later I returned to Höchstadt. It had been a while since I had seen Clarissa – since my sisters wedding at the end of July in fact. Being a member of BA’s Exec Club is a good idea, it’s free and lets you check-in on-line and cut the time you need to sit around at the airport by half… which lets you cut it closer to other flights. It was a bit tight on the way out but what’s life without a little excitement.

The forest canopies were showing the signs of autumn, the odd yellowed and rusted tree among the darker greens. The vines along her home had turned into a fine gradient of yellows and reds. I’ve yet to check my camera, but perhaps it will do them justice. Emma was doing fine too and I had purchased another bonsai back in Guernsey, named Toby2 in memory of the first. He is doing much better, a different species and sitting upon a humidity tray :)

We relaxed, we drove, we visited Nuremberg again and this time I managed to get some orientation of the town while wearing the skin off the heels of my feet. I examined a large church and wondered how a large town can have three McDonalds and no computer shops bar a tiny EB Games hidden away in a mall.

We visited an exhibition in Höchstadt, ate good food and generally had a great time. It’s a wonderful thing to have a girlfriend who can not only drive, but drive well :) Clarissa’s parents were very welcoming again, her father baked us some nice German bread and drove us through a wonderful valley with a river and some amazing rock formations left by rivers that departed eons ago.

I visited Clarissa at her work again, where giant pictures of her hung up above her section and made her look like a school teacher. We did a little shopping and I picked up a rather nice new jacket, a smart blue tie and a much needed pair of ski boots. Yep, that’s right, nine ski trips and I’m still using rental equipment much to the bemusement of my snowboarding colleagues. We’re booked into Jackson for January and I’ll buy some ski’s out there once I’ve tried a few pairs.

There is so much more I could, should or will write.


Your favorite: discontinued

One of the problems with a capitalist society is the conception that if something is not number 1 then it should be killed/will soon die and make space for another attempt. These products may be profitable and have their own niche and killing them just hands back the market-share to the number 1…

Some of my favorite products have been shelved over the years, here’s a few that deserve some kind of record in the annals of web history.

Top Deck Lager & Lime

My favorite drink during my early teens with admittedly much more lime than lager and well below the percentage for alcoholic classification. Even to this day I prefer a dash of lime added to my lager to take the bitter after-taste away. I can understand the rationale of not encouraging children to drink alcohol but it was just really like frothy lime. Besides you can still buy shandy which is just beer & lemonade… The entire Top Deck company disappeared around the early 90’s as far as I can tell.

Substitute: Stella Artois & Lime

Walkers Spicy Tomato Flavored Snaps

I’m not a big fan of crisps (potato chips for those state-side) but these spicy little treats were the best. I was lucky enough to acquire a couple of boxes in 2003 which I mostly consumed. I’ve still got a few packets left but my desire to preserve them was greater than the packet’s ability to keep them fresh. My letter to walkers about their hushed withdrawal was met with a standard response about how they couldn’t help locate stockists. Their web site no longer lists them…

Substitute: Nothing satisfactory, will have to make do with Walkers Sweet Chili and the odd packet of McCoy’s.

They re-appeared back in the shops earlier this year (2007)!

White Lemon Cordial

Produced locally this cordial mixed with water gave you something that tasted like lemonade but replaced the fizz with some kind of peppermint-style kick.

Safeway Chicken Korma

The microwave is a fantastic concept but almost all microwave-ready food tastes, well, bland. Safeway did a great chicken korma in the late 90’s in a funky purple packaging, only for it to disappear from the shelves and be subsequently replaced with a brown boxed version that tasted like all other microwave food.

Substitute: Local Indian takeaway for korma, Ginsters for a hot microwaved snack.

Lynx/Axe Alaska

As a kid I enjoyed the smell of Lynx Oriental but wanted something more subtle as I grew up (a little). I discovered Alaska and it’s soft sweet smell and wore it for quite some time… until it disappeared to be replaced by many other Lynx flavors. Later on I found much better fragrances but these two send me right back to adolescence.

Substitute: Clarissa showed me “Axe” is still available in Germany so I brought some back!

Addiction Spice Fire

I found a can of this in my Christmas stocking one year and became promptly addicted, spraying my tie with it occasionally. Originally from Fabergé and available everywhere they sold the brand to Conquest Mens Group who don’t seem to sell anywhere in the Channel Islands. I’ve got half-a-can left for special occasions or a quick hit.

Substitute: Hugo Boss, Cool Water.

This is now back in the shops again (2007)

Kenzo Tokyo (added 2018)

Possibly the best smell in the known universe although it dissipates far too quickly. I have a few bottles stashed away.

Canali (added 2018)

I thought I was playing it safe on this front buying a mainstream cologne stocked by Sephora. Nope… discontinued! I was wearing this one when I met my wife so again quickly stockpiled a lot before it disappears completely.

Your Sinclair/Sinclair User/Crash/New Computer Express

Ah, the days when a magazine would arrive and it would take you more than half an hour to read all the editorial content. Full of jokes, game reviews, developer interviews, reviews where games could score under 10% and new that was actually news because there was no internet to read it on weeks before.

Type-in listings were the best. Just an hour typing in, an hour correcting and presto your computer would do something new and surprising – and you’d gain valuable debugging and typing experience to boot. Funnily enough YS’s final circulation figure was 20,000 – that would be considered successful today…

Substitute: RetroGamer – except ironically it went under last month.


Spaced deserves a final series but the popularity of Shaun of the Dead means that Pegg and Wright have abandoned their roots to concentrate on films. While Shaun was fantastic and I don’t doubt the next one will be great too I’d rather have 3 hours of Spaced than 2 hours of a film.

Substitute: Black Books, Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz.

Red Dwarf

Okay, Red Dwarf has it’s ups and downs but frankly I like the fact it changed direction every few series, it keeps it fresh even if the new taste takes a little getting used to.

The last series was filmed in 1999 when writer and producer Doug Naylor decided he wanted to make a Red Dwarf movie. Six years on we have no movie, and more alarmingly no new TV episodes. I can’t imagine there is a Red Dwarf fan who would prefer a 2 hour movie over 12+ TV episodes so I have to ask the question “What the hell are they doing?” The answer I guess is “Screw the fans, do you have any idea what a successful film could do for my career?”

Substitute: Battlestar Galactica (new).

California Pizza Kitchen: Goat’s cheese & caramelized onions

The most delicious pizza I had and surprisingly meat-free. My latest trip had me searching on the revised menu, the server informing me that the pizza’s didn’t change… until I asked for it and he said “oh, except that one”. Tried other, will no longer go here :(

Substitute: None found.

Pepsi Natural (added 2010)

An all-natural Pepsi – not just with real sugar but also with Apple juice, kola nut extract and more. Alas discontinued (or it wouldn’t be on this list, right?)

Substitute: Virgil’s Real Cola.

While we’re on the subject…

Here’s my current wish-list of DVDs you can’t buy (at least in region 2): Max Headroom (Film & TV), The Flash (TV), Pete & Pete (TV), Blade Runner Special Edition (Film), Pirates of Silicon Valley (TV), Fraggle Rock (TV).

Blade Runner final cut is coming out December 2007


Travels in France, part 2

My apologies for the second part taking so long to arrive here. I wrote this section a while ago before Zoundry Blog Writer threw it away. Doubtful I could write again with as much enthusiasm I left it but a series of questions has prompted me to write it again. It was better the first time, I promise.


We had left Disney behind us now, heading south-west to avoid the hot city streets of Paris and on towards Versailles. With high expectations of “the largest palace in Europe” we arrived underneath a hot midday July sun amid a mass of tourists. This did not bode too well.

Having seen the queues and general melee for entrance to the palace we skirted round to the back and the 300 year old gardens. We walked around a little of the gardens themselves, around a third by my estimation, but although I was daunted by the sheer size I found such a scale seemed to preclude individual attention to detail.

We managed to escape the sun by retreating into the shade of trees where we relaxed in each others arms and watched life slowly drift by. We shared a romantic moment until we noticed the small audience of school children. We decided against continuing the performance for their benefit and watched as better informed tourists toured the massive park in electric golf carts.

Rested and cooled we headed back to the palace but the crowds still swamped its walls and we vowed to come back another day. We wanted a smaller château we could have more to ourselves and within an hour or two we found one.

Château de Valançay

I can’t recall the inspiration for this visit as my guidebook doesn’t extend as far as the Loire Valley region. The château was acquired by Talleyrand in 1804 and as Napoléon’s foreign minister the château was soon used to dine and impress foreign dignitaries. It was also where Ferdinand VII of Spain (King) was held in luxurious captivity during Napoléon’s reign.

The scale of the château and gardens are much smaller than Versailles but that missing level of detail is restored. Hedges were perfectly trimmed, flowers blossoming everywhere and the main fountain spraying water clear enough to bathe in. If the restaurant had been open it would have been perfect though I doubt there were enough visitors to justify switching on an oven.

We drifted slowly through the château itself each receiving a guide in our own native language courtesy of devices vaguely resembling 90’s mobile phones. The rooms themselves were full of original furniture, partly because the château was untouched by the ravages of WWII when its owner the duc de Valancay established his personal neutrality as Prince de Sagan, therefore avoiding occupation on a technically.

The grounds are also home to a rather fun maze with locked doors, mirrors, smoke machines and historical puzzles to be solved if you wanted to get out. We were also treated to a small farm where you could feed various animals which was an experience in itself, perhaps one better enjoyed had there been a sink or somewhat where I could have washed the goat drool from my hand.

Somewhere to sleep

We spent much of the late afternoon hunting for somewhere nice to stay passing through Orléans and it’s surrounding villages. We stopped to ask for directions of the only person we’d seen in hours, a rather elderly gentleman. Clarissa ran up behind him, prompting him in French several times. He looked up at the sky as if being addressed by the heavens themselves before realizing it was a lost German girl standing behind him. Within seconds they’d switched to English, the man revealing himself to be American before giving us directions to our hotel. Directions that turned out to be completely wrong…