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As some of you already know, our much-loved car recently got to the stage where you either need the time, tools and expertise to do a lot of wrangling yourself, or you have to be prepared for one garage bill after another. Serious car maintenance is not readily compatible with living in a second-floor London flat, so Susan has gone to live with a hairdresser in Wales who's going to restore her to her former glory.

We've acquired a new car, via the lovely people at Palmdale.  Not a new car, obviously, but a newish second-hand one. It's a Hyundai i30 if you care about that sort if thing.

The problems of starting a new car )

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From the comedy injuries department:

Last night, coming home late, I snuggled into the high collar of my jacket as I did it up. And zipped my top lip into the zip.

I now know why "button your lip" is a phrase. Zipping your lip is extremely painful.
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So, I am already wondering why I thought this was a good idea. I've decided to accept WaterAid's sponsored "Just Water" challenge, and drink nothing but water during the month of January. They say it will make me feel good. I suspect it will make me feel like an idiot.

I've often heard it said that people who are trying to raise money via sponsorship are really just trying to tack a charity's name onto something they want to do anyway, like going to Ghana or running a marathon. Rest assured that this is something that I absolutely don't want to do. It sounds miserable.

Water-related projects aren't the most effective form of charitable donation (according to people like GWWC). But I can never quite shake the idea that water is such a basic requirement that we need to try. If you haven't got safe water, you're pretty much stuffed for everything.

I know people make their decisions about charitable giving in lots of different ways. Please don't feel any kind of obligation to make a donation! But if you want to, or if you're the sort of person who mostly gives money to charity when presented with a handy opportunity, then you would be most welcome to sponsor me here:

https://www.wahoo.wateraid.org/uk/event/wateraid-just-water-challenge-ecw

If nothing else, you could consider it a fair price for the right to mock me when you're having a lovely cup of tea, or a nice pint, and I am not.
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So... anyone got any ideas on how to bake a beer-flavoured cake?

Having been caught up in the heady excitement of my rapper team's Facebook page, I have accidentally agreed to make someone a cake "made out of beer". I have remarkably little idea of how to proceed.

A quick google suggests that recipes for chocolate and stout cake exist. My mum makes a Guinness cake, but (although it's lovely) it tastes more of fruit cake than of Guinness. I'm currently inclining towards this Spiced Beer Cake recipe - though again I'm worried that the spices (while nice) will detract from the beery flavour.

Any advice? Please note I don't want a cake that looks like a foaming tankard, or is iced to resemble a bottle... I want a cake that contains and (preferably) tastes noticeably of beer.

I need to bake my cake next Thursday (to be delivered on Friday), so not a lot of time for experimentation...
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Every so often - most recently, yesterday morning - I am confounded by the fundamental bastardliness of inanimate objects.

I was in a hurry putting the recyling out; the bag ripped and threw empty tins and bottles across the floor. I was in a hurry putting the rubbish out, so the binbag refused to come out the bin, and then the back door lock jammed...

Now, on a rational level, I'm quite well aware that being in a hurry makes you more inclined to make these kinds of mistakes. The binbags are made of plastic, are not malicious, and do not exercise free will any more than the laptop did when it sat madly spinning its hard drive and refusing to respond to any input.

On the other hand... )
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On them twitters, people often create their own hash tags on the fly, running words together to create #devastatingnewtags.

Last night, I happened to see something go past with the a tag which I read as "cannot bear sed". Well, having had a bit of a run-in with sed recently, I can get behind that.

It was only some time later that I realised that they were probably reporting "cannot be arsed".

[livejournal.com profile] hjalfi thinks this incident means it's too late for me to resume a normal life :(
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All week I've been reading NI in the papers as Northern Ireland, and constantly getting confused.

For today's BBC headline, NI riots leads to 26 arrests, I finally managed to remember to read it as News International.

(And while we're on, shouldn't it be "riot leads" or "riots lead"?)
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This morning I went through a red light on my bike.

I don't usually do that. Even though at the junction in question the traffic flow often means it would be safe to do so.

What was worse was that I pulled up to the line and stopped. On a green light. When it changed to red, I went. I was over the junction and off at the other side before I realised that that's not how these things are supposed to work.

I did subsequently successfully negotiate several more sets of traffic lights in a rather more conventional way. But still. Aaargh.

I have no idea what my brain was thinking.
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Of interest only to LloydsTSB customers who use internet banking:

Aaaargh, it's upside down )
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Dear Google,

It's not April 1st, y'know.

Cheers,

Venta
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Every month or so I get an email from Friends Reunited which says:

"Why not add yourself to these places?

  • Hummersknott School

"

Er... because I didn't go to Hummersknott? Because I've already told it exactly which secondary school I did go to between the ages of 11-18?

Stupid bloody thing.

You've all[*] remembered the clocks went back, right ?

[*] For UK-based definititions of 'all'.
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Is it impolite to correct the grammar of someone in a callcentre ? (I didn't, but I wanted to since his mis-use actually completely threw me).

He asked me (after I'd explained why I was ringing) my name, my address, and the nature for my call.

The what ?

"The nature for your call."

He meant nature of, of course. I did think that, but given that I'd already explained at length what was wrong, I thought I must be misunderstanding.

After several rounds of "What?" "The nature for your call." "The nature?" "Yes" he eventually rephrased as "Why are you calling?"

I explained the whole thing again, and he did say "Oh yes", as if the long story I'd told him two minutes earlier was indeed vaguely familiar. He also scored approximately 1.25 bwmpm (number of times on average the phrase 'bear with me' is uttered per minute).

Bah. Stupid call-centre scripts which teach you only to parse information if presented in answer to a question.
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What is it with Oxford's hospitals ?

For years, two of the main hospitals in the city were called respectively the John Radcliffe and the Radcliffe Infirmary. People frequently referred to either as "the Radcliffe".

Why yes, since you ask, that did cause quite a lot of confusion.

This morning I headed up to The Nuffield, Headington, for a physio appointment. I was running late (having broken the cardinal rule of Oxford driving, notably do not go up Divinity Road when in a hurry). I then wasted twenty minutes in various different departments until we finally deduced that I should have been at Nuffield Hospital Oxford (The Manor). Which is also in Headington.

Next time anyone builds a hospital in Oxford, can we lobby them to give it a name which is, like, distinct from all the other medical establishments ?
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Walking round Tesco (pausing only to be amused by the sign which said "Stoned Fruit", because I'm very juvenile) I spotted on the fish counter some peppered mackerel fillets, 49p each.

Thinking they'd be nice in my dinnertime sarnies, and that they were very cheap, I bought a couple.

Standing at the checkout queue I observed the label the fish-counter lady has stuck on them: Hot Smoked Peppered Mackerel, Will Contain Bones. What?

After I'd paid, I went back to the fish counter to check. Yep, the label says Hot Smoked Peppered Mackerel Fillets.

And on my purchase: Will Contain Bones.

The thing about fillets, Tesco...

Post-buttie update: no bones. Halfwits.

(In case anyone's confused, the fish is cold. There's a process called "hot smoking".)

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