I can understand the frustration people have with the weather we are having just now. I can. Honestly.
With Vonnie getting stuck for the day on the first day of the really bad snow and almost having to spend the night in her car with our 19 month old whilst only being a couple of miles from our home I can appreciate peoples anger at how unprepared our country was for this. It wouldn’t have mattered if we were all on winter tires as they just help the car grip the road in low temperatures. Having the gritters on the road during the snow wouldn’t have helped due to the volume of snow falling. Getting the snow ploughs out wouldn’t have worked on that day either as the roads were to busy and in the case of the M8/A725 the roads were already blocked by jack-knifed artics. They just couldn’t get on the roads to clear them.
Even with all this I still love this weather. I love walking in the snow. Even blizzards don’t worry me as I know my limits and I’m completely comfortable being out in them within reason. There is something magical about being out in the snow just as it gets dark with the snow sparkling in the street lights. Vonnie mentioned earlier that Greer just loves the snow. As soon as she sees it she starts shouting “SNOW! SNOW! SNOW!” and jumping up and down with pure excitement. I don’t think I’ve ever completely lost that feeling.
I started craving a new project this morning whilst on my way to work. My problem is though that I do not have a clue what I want to do.
I’m fed up blogging for the sake of blogging and don’t get out of the house enough these days for photography. I want to be able to do something that has nothing to do with the shop as well as being something I can do or plan almost anywhere at any time. That basically rules out anything that requires sewing or knitting.
The only real constraints are that it can’t cost that much, it should involve a lot of travel or strict work times. I don’t care if it’s something that I’m currently rubbish at as I can learn new skills just as I don’t care if it’s something I can already do. The novelty for me isn’t in the learning something new but in the completion of the project. It’s something that I am very guilty of never managing to do.
So what do you guys think? Any suggestions? All thoughts seriously considered if they fit in the guidelines.
My head says something crafty and creative but I barely have an imaginative bone in my body so no idea for where to start or even what to start. I want to be able to say “I did that” at the end and be proud to say it. I’m surrounded by creative people every day and it’s one of the few times that I get jealous. Yes I can put my hand to most things but I never get great at them or finish anything that takes longer than a couple of days to do. This has to change.
Help me be creative.
We’d had a hectic morning after discovering the hard way that Vonnie’s petrol tank has a leak or someone is syphoning petrol from the car. I ended up shouting at someone over the phone because the road she ran out of petrol on shares it’s name with the road it splits from. Clever one that.
I sat the kids down for lunch and I just didn’t have an appetite. Pretty soon I had bad indigestion and spent the rest of the day doubled up on pain at times. It wasn’t until after I’d tried all the ways I know how to alleviate indigestion that I almost jokingly passed comment to Vonnie about it being something worse. She took one look at me and started throwing the kids in the car and driving me up to A&E.
All I wanted was for the doctors to say it was just trapped wonder and that I’d never be so happy to fart in public. Turns out they had the same thoughts as Vonnie though. I got into A&E around 8pm. Vonnie left to go get the kids from my parents and I was admitted to the hospital at midnight.
The place was that busy that I was put on a mixed ward in a room full of elderly women. I was just enjoying athe first mouthful of iced water when it was whisked away from me as I was to be ‘nil by mouth’ in case they had to operate. I eventually had a surgery consult at 3am and could get a few hours sleep.
I say sleep but between the woman across from me wandering during the night and the hourly medication rounds I don’t know if I did actually sleep.
Vonnie brought the kids up to drop off some clothes in the morning and after dosing a little I was told I’d be going into surgery in the afternoon. I was terrified. I kept fixating on not waking up from the anesthetic. Had a bit of a laugh with one of the surgeons regarding beards and movember and the next thing I remember is waking up in recovery. Apparently my blood pressure was really low so they kept me in there longer than usual. I won’t even begin to try and spell the kind of operation I had. It was keyhole surgery so I’ve only got three wee cuts on my stomach rather that the big slice I’m more used to seeing.
Vonnie and my mum came up for visiting. This was great but I think Vonnie was just loving seeing me high on morphine. Trying to get some ammo to offset my gas and air stories about when the kids were born I think.
Now that I’m off the morphine and onto cocodamol I’m in a lot of pain. Gradually getting better but every time I move it comes back with a vengeance.
Vonnie has been fantastic. I wish it had been indegestion though as she deserves a break.
I’ve been meaning to make these every year for the kids and I keep forgetting. This year though I remembered.
225 g demerara or golden caster sugar
110 ml water
1/2 tsp vinegar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp golden syrup
25 g butter
6 wooden skewers or lolly sticks
1. Stir the sugar in the water over a moderate heat until it has dissolved. Once thats done stir in the vinegar, syrup, cinnamon and butter. Bring to a boil and don’t touch it until it reaches soft-crack stage (135C-ish Most recipes seem to quote hard tack stage but it never fits in with the temp ranges I know and hard tack is too hard to bite into).
2. Pierce each apple with a wooden stick and dip each apple into the hot toffee once it’s ready.
3. Leave to harden on a sheet of greaseproof paper.
If you’ve seen my Facebook or Twitter updates over the last 24 hours or so you’ll know that I lost a friend yesterday. I think I knew him well. It turns out I’ve known him for far longer than I realised after finding out that the guy I used to chat to in the Virgin Megastores gaming section was the guy I’d end up calling Quizzy in the years to come.
I’m guessing this is hitting me harder than I was expecting because aside from Vonnie’s friends husband who died recently he is the first person I’ve known to have passed away since my Grandad died when I was about 14 years old. Thoughts and feelings I don’t remember finding their way to the surface.
So how did I know Jonathan?
For years I just new of him as a user called Quizbhoy on AltNation. I knew he ran the pub quiz in Rufus T Firefly’s on a Monday night and had been along to a few. It wasn’t until we both ended up helping to run AN, myself as a moderator and Quizzy as an adviser to the staff. He was a cheeky bugger when he wanted to be but there was never any malice. He made that place a joy to ‘work’.
AltNation has a history of starting up long running nights out. It all started with the ‘Super Sundaes’ of 2001 when all the random users of the site decided to meet up in a pub in Glasgow every Sunday night and treat it like the beginning of the weekend. My social circle ballooned after that and along with picnics in Kelvingrove Park during the summer months one of the other major social gatherings that came from AN was the 10-Pin Bowling at the old AMF at Finnieston every Friday night. One of the many folk to come along to those nights was Jonathan. Always up for a laugh and a good time and always there for a wise word in your ear it was very hard not to like him. I ended up being the butt of one of his quiz questions after we went to a party at Vonnie’s and between us we ate all the vodka jelly he had brought along. I believe the question went something like this…
“At a party the other night who ate all the vodka jelly?”
“Was it A: Bob?”
“Or D: Bob?”
I think he marked my answer as wrong for that question.
Time went on and Vonnie fell pregnant with Nairn and our social lives basically became non-existent. I lost track of Jonathan in the real world but I still stayed in touch on Facebook. He was always interested in how we were getting on and loved the fact we had a family and was awfully proud of how all his friends were getting on in life. Especially Ruth and Vonnie.
Not long before Christmas in 2009, and I may get some of this wrong but you get the idea, he suffered a seizure and was taken into hospital. It really didn’t sound great at first but despite being hit by pneumonia and bird flu basically at the same time delaying his surgery to remove a tumour he pulled through. He was bed bound at the time but with the help of the physios he proved a lot of them wrong by getting back up on his feet and doing far better than any of them had any right to hope. They let him home and we’d get daily updates on Facebook about how useless the NHS were at organising lifts to and from hospital appointments or the latest improvement in his mobility.
About 2 months ago we found out that he’d had a bit of a hard time and was going in to a hospice for a bit of respite. He was still up beat and loving his life even if he wasn’t physically at his best. But he started going downhill. I went with Vonnie to see him not long after his birthday but he was asleep. We didn’t want to disturb him and that’s the last I seen of him. In the early hours of Sunday he passed away in his sleep. Finally he was in peace after suffering for so long.
Jonathan is/was Jewish which is almost a completely new thing for me. Aside from the cross-over with my Egyptian History interest my entire knowledge of the Jewish people and religion comes from Hollywood. I knew he would be buried before sundown the next day at the latest but the service was a complete unknown for me. I was very surprised, in a good way, with how it went. He had a huge turnout at the cemetery, again another alien thing to me as all the funerals I’ve been to have been cremations. His friends and work colleagues turned out in force to see him off.
My entire experience with funerals comes from a christian background so I’m used to ceremony, hymns, a speaker who generally doesn’t actually know the deceased along with words from the eldest of the family about how they will be missed. It’s usually followed up by a steak pie lunch and a drink to honour the deceased. Everything I’ve experienced has basically been about remembering how they were. With Jonathan’s funeral we stood in a small hall where the Rabbi, at least i think he was a Rabbi but as I mentioned my knowledge is thin on this subject, gave a very brief rundown of Jonathan’s childhood. Where this differed was that he knew Jonathan. He was connected to him. It was very personal. This was followed by a few readings in Hebrew and then we proceeded to the graveside where the male Jewish mourners filled in earth.
After we proceeded back down to wash our hands it struck me just how personal it all was. My entire experience has been of a hands off cremation with most of the family and loved ones not really taking any real part in the funeral. Not a bad thing as most people are lost in grief at this point but the practical part of me can see how being so involved with the burial and having strict rules on grieving would help a lot of people.
Jonathan is gone and I’ll miss him. I’d like to say I could leave his love for Hair Metal but that was one of the many many things that made him so great.
Goodnight Quizzy. You made my life better just by being in it. I hope I had a similar impact on your life even if only by the smallest amount.
*Disclaimer -- This is written for my memory in the years to come and for the nosey folk. I don’t blame you if you get bored after the first paragraph. I should also point out that this is day two of my honeymoon and not a second trip to Stockholm. I just never got around to posting this for some reason. Day One is here*
We awoke the next morning to darkness. You never forget your sleeping on a boat but you do forget that the room your in doesn’t have any windows so when we heard the rain beating down outside we thought we’d make the most of the warm bed and get another hour or so of sleep. It turned out though that the rain outside was actually the ice from further up the river hitting against the side of the boat. I guess it’slike being inside a tent during a rain shower. What actually hits the tent and what you hear inside are two completely different things.
So with today being our last day we headed back across to the main boat for breakfast for another three rounds of food. I could get used to having breakfast like that every morning but I reckon my waist would gain a few inches. The ship had free internet access so we took it in turns to check our mail. Or rather we would have if it wasn’t for three American girls who seemed to think that the computer was theirs and noone else could use it. They also thought that if they ‘whispered’ noone could hear them planning their domination of the computer and the nasty things they were saying about the other guests in the room. By whisper I of course mean they didn’t shout it like they did when they talked about their salaries or their cars back home. We laughed about it after shaking our heads in dispair and decided we were glad it was our last day there.
After Vonnie’s troubles the day before we thought we’d start the day with a taxi ride to the hotel that the boat rides left from. It turns out though that our initial taxi fare on the way to our boat was so high because the time we arrived at. This one went further for half the price!
The boat journey was a bit expensive but when in Rome and all that. I think it worked out at something like £30 per head for the hour long trip but during that you got a hot lunch and a drink. You had a choice of sitting inside what looked like an ancient ferry or you could sit outside and snuggle up under reindeer hides. With it being the start of February it ended up only three of us stayed on the roof for any extended length of time. Those three being myself, a huge guy from Chile and the guide. The guide was hilarious. Not only was he taking nips of vodka from his hipflask to keep warm but he was downing shots of warm glögg left, right and centre. By the time we’d reached the furthest part of the round trip towards the Baltic Sea he was very drunk.
I have to say though that a city as well developed as Stockholm was let down by it’s mobile phone signal. I could make calls but the only place I could get a 3GS signal was whilst on a boat going past the the owner of Eriksson’s island.
Once of the boat we walked back through the old town so that I could show Vonnie the shops’s that I had found. We wandered around the various sweet/cake shops buying hot chocolate at every opportunity. We found amazing little handmade toy shops as well as plenty of wool and yarn shops. We stopped at a chocolate shop for more hot chocolate before we started our journey back up towards the bus station. What we didn’t realise was that every other place used instant chocolate powder/tetrapaks. This place did something with cocoa beans instead. I swear it was the best tasting chocolate never mind hot chocolate drink I’ve every had. It’s probably why it cost something like £5 per cup mind you.
We continued up towards the bus station when I noticed a guy in a suit with a lump on his waist. Sure enough he had a gun and looked very serious. I started to get a little worried when I seen another two armed men jump into a building we were just about to walk past. It was only as we approached the door that we realised it was Sweden’s parliament. The front door leads right out on to a pedestrian walkway were any member of the public can walk right past. All very weird.
The bus trip back to the airport was uneventful but it meant that we had five hours to kill at the airport. It wouldn’t have been so bad but we were running out of Krona and hadn’t had anything to eat since breakfast other than the hot chocolate we’d been drinking. We sat and read our books and i watched an episode of Stargate Atlantis which the bar beside us had on the TV. Just as we were heading through to the departure lounge someone started turning all the TV’s off. I normally wouldn’t have though anything off it except the staff thought it was a bit strange as well. We didn’t see another TV until we got through to our gate where we found one that hadn’t been turned off yet. A plane had crash landed at Heathrow airport and the news stations were reporting rumours of fatalities. i could understand why you wouldn’t want that sort of thing being played around an airport. Obviously that got everyone alittle nervous for the flight home.
The flight home was fine but as with most airports you have to walk for miles at Prestwick to get from the plane to the airport exit. Vonnie was really suffering and whilst standing waiting to get through passport control she was really struggling. She was six months pregnant after all with bad SPD pains. She almost blacked out and had to sit on the floor whilst all the passengers walked past us. Out of that entire plane only two people stopped to ask if she was OK and helped me get a flight attendants help. Thankfully we think it was just a blood sugar dip and after a sit down and a bottle of water from one of the helpful policemen we were on our way again.
If the place wasn’t so damn expensive I’d be back there with the kids in an instant. So much we didn’t see and do but what we did manage to see we loved.
Well I’m still here. Apart from one pissant speed cop the road back hame was pretty uneventful. Davy phoned us as we were nearly there so we headed for his parents. In his garage we transferred all the guns and armour to his van and departed for his house in Mauchline. We we’re getting settled in and had had to much time to think. Now we wanted our answers. In Mauchline we made a call from a phone box. Rab still had the map he found in the cabin so he dailed the EK number. Graeme must have pissed off whatever was at the other end cause even we heard the phone slam down. I waited five minutes and called back. I explained our situation and what had happened and got a snort of disgust in return. I heard someone shout on Leia. I’m such a dick. I should have asked to speak to her. DOH! She comes on the phone and I tell her everything. She takes my mobile number and hangs up. Looks like our answers would have to wait.
So we go back to Davy’s/ Big Rab tells us on the way back about the girl in the petrol station. She had some sort of spectre floating around her and it seemed to be causing her pain even though she was totally unaware of it. Another weird one. We get to Davy’s and Laura, Stuart’s girlfriend, calls us on the mobile. Apparently Stuart threw a fit in Hudsons and started screaming about monsters and shit. She needs us to help him. If only she knew she’d think we’re all crazy. So we pile into the the van and get back to EK as fast as we can.We pile out at the Town Centre, none of us packing any big weapons, and head for Hudsons. Laura is outside crying. The bouncers threw Stuart out and he took off. Some guy walked past with his girlfriend and we asked him if he’d seen Stuart. He takes an interest in why we want to know and that’s when it hits us, and I mean hits us, headache, tunnel vision, hurts like fuck. This guy is a vampire. He waved over a crowd of his friends, they were vampires. Inside Hudsons, four more vampires. The guy took Graeme aside and asked him some questions and he didn’t look to happy about the answers.
My mobile goes off. It’s Leia. She’s inside Hudsons and figured that was us outside. How she knew I still can’t say (something about powers). We walked in effectively cornering ourselves. Leia is pretty ute, earliy thirties, good figure. We bombarded her with questions but again she was vague. Yes they were vampires. Yes she saw Stuart. No she didn’t know where he went. Apparently we are the Imbuded or something. Blessed or cursed with the power to see evil, and boy is it everywhere! On the plus side we should get some cool powers. I hope wine is to become invisible cause that’s about all I want right now.
She sneaks us out the back way and we stop off at the security office. They seemed to buy our story about Stuart stealing my wallet but their tapes didn’t show Stuart ever leaving Hudsons. With all the vamps about I was pretty worried. That’s when Clare phoned to say Stuart was at our house. We piled into a taxi, hoping to avoid the vamps, and called Davy with instructions to meet us at my place.
Stuart’s in some state. He is wild eyed and swinging from hyperactive raving lunatic to a completely catatonic state. The door knocked and Clare went to answer it. I had to catch her in the hallway to stop her. I’m getting really fucking paranoid at this point! Through the glass I can make out the figure of a fairly big person. I drew my pistol just to be safe. The bedroom window burst in and I could see two of these fucking vampires trying to climb in. The vamp outside started slamming on the door trying to break his way in. I threw Clare into the living room and took a few pot shots at the vamp behind the front door. Big Rab slammed the living room door shut behind us and not a minute too soon as the fuckers burst the front door down. Davy was trying to hold the table against the big picture window as bottles and bricks were flung at us. Graeme shouted at us to get into the kitchen. I pushed Clare ahead of me when a vamp sails through the window at an impossible speed and lands right in front of me. I thought I was a fucking goner. He raised one big clawed and took a swipe but something really fucking odd happened. Graeme took a step forward and yelled ‘Stop!’ and it missed me. I don;t know how it could have but somehow it did. I wasn’t going to stand and worry about it though.
I ran through the kitchen and leant out the window with Graeme and Big Rab close behind. Our escape was only brief. Stuart started screaming and pointing as the vamps ran round the side of the building. We took off again running through all the flats. One of the fuckers moved like lightening again and almost got Big Rab before he stabbed it with a bit of wood. I pulled him back and the others knocked it on it’s ass. Wish we had the shotguns handy for that. It was then that I noticed Davy had joined us. Apparently he warned the others from the kitchen window just as the attack started. One more favour we owe him. We got our asses out of there. Ran till I felt I would burst or puke, nearly did both. Lucky for us Rab has an uncle that lived nearby. We basically went round and invites ourselves in. I’m currently sitting in his living room writing this. I’m gonna have to start carrying some crosses in this knapsack.
Outside the night is alive. Windows are smashing, cars and house alarms are wailing unattended. It’s like living in a warzone. Those fuckers outside must be pretty unhappy that they lost us. I know I’ll feel a lost better when daylight gets her.
This was one of the weaker days. It’s always hard crossing over from the players knowing nothing to them starting to learn more and more about the enemy. In this case Willie kept us grounded in the surroundings that we knew intimately from the pub to the homes used in the story. Every location we could draw with our eyes closed.