Friday, 31 December 2010

Bodum and burglary

This is the new Bodum kettle I bought when our old one limped into oblivion. I bought it on the internet so wasn't sure about the exact colour but I'm pleased to say it becomes suitably camouflaged against the splashback. It's also incredibly light so pouring water for a pot of tea doesn't feel as much of a chore.

On the downside, I got up two days before Christmas to find we'd been robbed while we slept. Some chancer had jumped over the (locked) garden gate and come in through the back door (which I was sure I'd locked) and had a quick spree. He picked up my freshly updated iPod (full Christmas playlists - grrr), the Numark headphones from my mixer (which have a huge jack and don't fit the iPod), Rob's satchel which contained his work laptop, personal papers, a few hundred pounds cash, both kids DS consoles and their games pack which had about 20 games inside, and then my HTC phone and charger. He ignored my work Blackberry (which admittedly has seen better days) and the presents under the tree.

The Hackney burglary squad were around within two hours and the forensics lady came an hour after that. The burglar was a pro - no fingerprints, no footprints - and he'd pointed our security light towards the moon.

I guess we should be grateful that nothing sentimental or irreplaceable was taken. The insurance assessor is coming next week to check things over, and hopefully everything will be covered (We've had contents insurance forever and this will be our first claim). The upside is now we'll be super vigilent about locking up and checking things over - and will probably alarm the downstairs of the house even when we're home, so he's done us a favour really.

Not nice to be a statistic/cliche but it could have been so much worse.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Christmas 2010

We bought a new PC last year and annoyingly I still haven't found my Photoshop installation disc. In the meantime I've been using a free online photo editing site called Picnik and they happen to have some useful effects. Like this one pictured top, which looks like all my childhood photos.

The tree is 7 feet tall, and we could've gotten away with an 8 footer really but as it took two hours, two strands of lights and 150 decorations maybe that extra foot would've sent me over the edge. Of course, despite the effort the tree smells superb and even better was the massive dumping of snow we had - the outlook transformed into a proper winter wonderland overnight. Magical!

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Decorating Christmas

We haven't had a real tree, and thus a requirement for decorations, for about 7 years. I have a fantastic 3 feet high white fibre optic tree that plugs in and changes colour every few seconds. Easy. This year the kids kept banging on about a proper tree and I gave in. It cost £88 for a 7 foot high locally-grown Nordman Fir (and stand) to be delivered from Sussex from Catsfield Christmas Tree Farm.

Rob and I went to Paperchase and spent £70 on tree decorations (about 120 items FYI). The tree still looked a little on the naked side so I ended up buying a couple of bags of chocolate decorations, candy canes and another 10 pink disco balls to make it look more festive.

My favourite additions are the dogs, including the latecomer, the Shitzh-zu, donated by my friend who couldn't put up with my sad face when I saw she'd gotten it for her Secret Santa. Unfortunately, the combo of glass and drunkeness meant it got a bit of a smashed head. Sorry Jen.

My Canon Ixus 850IS has seen better days. I swear my old Ixus took better photos than this one. Apologies for the rubbish focus on these shots, but you get the idea.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Cycle rage

My neighbourhood is pretty friendly. Generally people will smile if they recognise you and some will say hello. This morning as I cycled my four-year-old to her nursery, I encountered a pedestrian on the narrow footpath which leads from a private car park into the entrance of Victoria Park. I cycle this way to avoid going against the traffic on the one-way system, and also because I seldom encounter anyone here (in winter anyway), as only locals tend to use it since no-one can see the path from the main road.

If I do see kids on bikes, scooters or someone with a pram, I tend to dismount to allow people to pass. In this instance I didn’t have a chance as the second I saw pedestrian we had a pow-wow. This pedestrian was clearly irritated at a cyclist having the gall to cycle on the footpath and stood still, blocking the footpath. I had come to a standstill thinking he’ll walk around as he could step off the path (and it’s a five or six inch step) whereas I have an 18 kilo kid on the back of my bike. For me moving the bike (and kid) off that path and onto the car park to allow him to pass and then hauling the bike back up onto the kerb to continue my journey seemed unnecessary. He said gruffly “It’s a footpath you know” to which I replied “Yes I know, but I have a kid on the back here...” he didn’t move.

Now I guess I should’ve thought of what to do in a situation like this before it was thrust upon me – I too get annoyed by selfish cyclists when I’m walking – but I wasn’t about to mow him down, and getting off the bike wouldn’t have solved this problem as one of us would still have to step down to allow the other to pass, so I stayed where I was and eventually he moved around me with a sour look on his face. For some reason which escapes me now I shouted “Thanks mate, don’t be such a cock next time” and he shouted back something about using that sort of language in front of my kid. So not only have I become a cliché of a rude cyclist I am now meant to adjust my response in a tense stand-off situation.

I shouted back “Fuck you!” and rode off, and surprisingly, instead of feeling embarrassed or remorseful, I felt actually pretty good. I wish I’d just said that to him in the first place and saved a minute of my time. (Note – I swear. And I swear in front of my kids. Neither of whom have ever sworn. I’m not saying it’s a good thing to do.)

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

How much is that doggie in the window?

Last month we went to Discover Dogs show in Earl's Court. This is kind of house-related as we've been discussing getting a dog for a few months now. Hanging out with 200 breeds at this dog show seems to have cured our momentary lapse of common sense.

We look after a lovely whippet and I guess it's similar for our friends who babysit, but are happy to go back to their life at the end of the night. We really love having a dog around and doing big park walks, but I'm not sure we'd handle doing the walks morning and night forever and ever. Or paying for pet insurance, off-piste vet bills, and the headache of going on holiday. Not to mention doggie necessities - like food, toys, accessories and probably a dog walker. (Kari if you're reading this we would not consider a dog creche, don't even go there!)

Rob wasn't bothered as he had a dog as a kid, whereas I felt the angst of not wanting to deny my kids the enjoyment of having a pet. At least when Rob finally did warm to the idea we both agreed on the breed - Boston Terrier - pictured at top. But they're £900 from a breeder (and some go for £2,000!) so we're back to enjoying relatively uninterrupted sleep and not having to pick up poop in a plastic bag...

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Baby it's cold outside

Yeah so it's winter in England and guess what? There is snow. It was probably only six inches or so in Hackney, so not as heavy as the big snow day in February 2009. The country still came to a virtual standstill as it was the heaviest snowfall in November for 17 years. As avid hardcore cyclists, we carried on taking the kids to school and going into work. Despite skidding a bit on some black ice on the way home the week of snow wasn't bad for us at all. I ended up getting the bus once and that was more to do with social plans than safety.

Maybe it's because I grew up in New Zealand and didn't see snow in urban environments very often, but the novelty of a city blanketed in white still thrills me despite living in the UK for 11 winters.