Sunday, 30 December 2007


...was excellent. Dim Sum at the Imperial China on Lisle Street (wonderful, even if we did order enough for five!). Then, a walk down to the Embankment to the theatre, for an excellent performance. London theatre tickets are dreadfully expensive but you always feel as though you've seen a really professional performance.
By the time the matinee finished it was four o'clock, and we walked back up to Regent Street for Alice's trip to Hamleys. The only unfortunate thing on the way was that I called Bodeans, who told me they were full. Anyway, we split from Jacqueline and I duly spent the next two hours following my eight-year-old daughter around five floors of toys.

Highlight for Alice was probably the Build-a-Bear. She loved it but through a grown up's eyes it is an absolute con. Not only did she end up paying £30 for a £10 bear, but they have this notion of an "adoption certificate", whereby you enter your name and address to get some printed certificate. So, not only do they fleece you for the bear but they will sell your details on to junk mail companies! I wasn't able to stop Alice buying the thing but I did draw the line at giving them our personal information.

Anyway, come 6 o'clock Alice was totally spent up, and we met back with Jacqueline (who had been to Selfridges but claimed not to have spent the earth).

On to Bodeans - they have an upstairs bit which is more fast-food than restaurant, but serves roughly the same food, so the surroundings may not be ideal but the food would be good. Upon arrival, we popped downstairs and, as if by magic, they were able to conjour up a table for us in the restaurant. Excellent way to round off the day.

Back to Waterloo via Tottenham Court Road station. Very strange because as the train pulled into the station, Jacqueline said to Alice, "Look who's getting off the train". Of course it meant nothing to me but when Alice got on she was totally gobsmacked. The woman who'd just got off the tube was an actress who was in one of Alice's favourite TV shows, Tracy Beaker. As I say, I was none the wiser, but Jacqueline and Alice clocked her immediately.

Reminds me of the time when we walked past Richard Wilson (aka Victor Meldrew) on the stairs in Fortnum's - again it was Jacqueline who told me who it was (though that time he did at least ring a bell).
One final flurry, completely by chance Alice met up with a mate of hers on the train, who'd also been up to London for the day. They spent the hour-and-a-half journey playing happily with Alice's new-found Hamleys acquisitions.

Unfortunately, all too exciting for Alice. Our long day and late night couldn't combat the excitement, and even at eleven o'clock she was refusing to sleep and coming back into the lounge. Spoilt the day somewhat, to be honest. I need a couple of hours to chill at night, and this needs to be in a child-free environment.

Still, a memorable fortieth!

Saturday, 29 December 2007

Tuesday, 25 December 2007

Ho ho ho

Well, first and foremost, Happy Christmas everyone. The lack of entries goes to show how busy a December I've had.

Hot on the heels of the trip to Cardiff, we've had two trips across to France this month. First, we had what was essentially a day trip across to St Malo. Fine - we drove down to Rennes - but the weather let us down and we had rain most of the day in France, and stormy seas on both crossings.

Contrast this with the weekend just gone, where the weather was crisp and icy, with clear blue skies and calm seas. Lucky for us, then, that we chose this weekend to make a pre-Christmas visit to Rouen. Wonderful weekend - arriving in France first-thing, we mooched around Caen until around lunchtime, then headed over to our hotel right by the cathedral in Rouen. Rouen itself was excellent - very christmassy with a market, carousel and outdoor ice rink (Alice tried both) and although on Saturday afternoon the city centre became rather crowded, even this didn't dent Jacqueline's appetite for shopping.

Sunday, we took a leisurely drive back to Caen, via Honfleur, Trouville, Deauville, and generally along the coast. Stopped for an excellent lunch (moules frites) in Cabourg, and for the obligatory supermarket shop before the ferry. So, this week we'll be living on French groceries, with excellent bread (which will proably be no good today) and a wonderful chocolate log planned for after lunch today.

Talking of lunch, we've got a lovely-looking joint of rolled sirloin sitting ready for roasting. Mmmmmmmm.
Alice had a very good weekend at Rouen, but we have had a couple of major arguments this month - the most recent only yesterday - and life can be really unpleasant sometimes with her. She is all sweetness and light while she is getting her own way, but can turn the instant someone says "No" to her. I got particularly offended yesterday when, after all the effort I'd put in for christmas, I was told I was mean. Believe me, Father Christmas very nearly didn't stop at our house. To cap it all, Alice herself has become overexcited and managed to vomit all of last night's supper up at around 4am this morning. So, you could say we're not on top form. Just as well we don't need to do much today ;-)

Work has been very busy, and although I don't plan on going to the client's again until the new year, I do need to spend some time going through some paperwork, sorting letters and hopefully preparing the accounts ready to give to the accountant. Optimism.....

I haven't had any presents yet from anyone - too tired to open presents yet, but I have a feeling that the main presents will be self-bought. I picked up a PSP a couple of weeks ago, which I have to say is absolutely brilliant. I'm struggling to master Fifa 08 at the moment, and we were all entertained with Lemmings on the ferry back from France. Also, in France, I picked up a wine "sniffing kit", le nez du vin, which is basically a presentation box of fifty or so phials of the different smells associated with wine - apple, apricot, tobacco, liquorice etc. I noticed one on the ferry quite reasonable, but instead decided to treat myself to a "complet" kit from a snooty wine shop, for a whopping €275. I let them wrap it, so will open it later for a trial.
What else? Oh yes, Jacqueline crashed her car in icy conditions, fortunately both she and Alice were unhurt, but our poor old Mazda 323 is lying on the driveway, a write-off. I'm not normally one for getting sentimental about chunks of metal, but we got this car the summer Alice was born. While eight months pregnant, Jacqueline used to sit in the car (our first with air conditioning) just to escape the heat. Plus, it has been all over France with us several times, from the northern climes of Brittany and Normandy right down to holidays in Provence, Languedoc and the Dordogne. So, we need to get a new car asap once Christmas is over.
Back on the subject of christmas, I'm now off to enjoy it. Saucissons secs, anyone?

Sunday, 2 December 2007

Cardiff Photos

Some snaps from last weekend:

Here comes winter

Stormy this weekend, especially today  - hearing the wind and watching the rain outside makes me very grateful to be inside! Especially since I've just had breakfast of tea and hot, buttered toast. Yummy...

Alice and I braved the elements yesterday to head over to Portsmouth, to watch the mighty Blues of Everton play. Alice's first football match. I did want her first game to be at Goodison, but I found out last week that Everton were playing down here and on the spur of the moment decided to buy a couple of tickets. So, the weather was crap - cold with squally showers, with neither team particularly looking as though they wanted to be out there. Poor old Mikel Arteta, this must have been a million miles away from his native Spain! As regards the football, basically it was two good teams cancelling each other out, and ended 0-0.

Hardly a memorable first game. But then my first game was a dour 1-1 draw against Tottenham, the day after my birthday in 1978. The first of many.

Today will be lazy, except we need to get some food in along the way.