Hello everybody!

I have had a miserable
time with the Labyrinthitis
over the past two weeks but in the
last couple of days I feel like I've turned
the corner. Yesterday and today I've felt
dizzy only if I turn my head quickly
which I really avoid doing, obviously!

I went back to the doc today and she said
it might take months for me to fully recover.
This is one of those "waiting game"
illnesses, just have to sit it out.

It's funny I asked her if she' d ever had it and
she said: "No, and I wouldn't want it!"

I can honestly say this is one of the most
horrible things I've experienced (and I've had all
sorts of severe ailments including food poisoning
for 13 days!) and I wouldn't want to
go through it again in a hurry!

It's funny, everything has had to slow down...
I'm quite a quick person normally, I like
to get things done but this makes everything
go in slowwww moootiioonnn....

Anyway, I shall wait a few more days before
I start blogging full time again
so in the meanwhile:

and I'll catch ya next year!



Dear friends. I have had severe
dizziness, nausea and other problems
since last Sunday morning.

I went to see a doctor this morning and she
confirmed I have an infection in both ears,
generally known as Labyrinthitis.

There's not a lot that can be done- just
have to wait and the virus will
disappear on its own accord.

I've given up updating this blog for a while
to give my head a rest. I will be
back as soon as possible.

Happy Xmas and
New Year everybody!



Tomorrow morning me and Karelian Blonde
will hop on the train and head to sunny
Brighton to see Aladdin starring
Toyah and Chico. Toyah plays the
Genie of the lamp and Chico is Aladdin.

We have the Royal Box so it should be good!
Watch this space!




Veronica Rodriguez, a gift-wrapping guru
from Richmond , California, was crowned
“America’s Most Gifted Wrapper" for 2006
in a national gift-wrapping contest sponsored
by the maker of Scotch brand tape.

Amid throngs of holiday revelers
Rockefeller Center, Rodriguez
out wrapped seven other gift-wrapping
experts in the tenth annual Scotch Brand
Most Gifted Wrapper Contest to earn
the ultimate holiday prize: $10,000.

With bows, ribbons and Scotch tape in
hand, Rodriguez and her worthy competitors
wrapped some of today’s trickiest kids toys –
a soccer ball (out of the box, of course!),
a ride-on pedal plane, even a life-size stuffed
pony – with breathtaking flair,
speed and style.

Rodriguez offers this advice to those who
are getting ready to wrap their holiday
presents: “My top three tips are: be creative,
stay focused and make really big bows.”

Contestants were judged on three criteria:
appearance, technique and speed.


Personally I never peep, honest!, because
I simply do not want to ruin the surprise.

Well, I used to when I was
a kid but not anymore....

But there seems to be a lot of
peepers and shakers about.

The survey of 2,287 U.S. adults by research firm
Harris Interactive found the main culprits
tend to be women, with 21 percent unable
to resist the temptation for a sneaky peep
compared to 15 percent of men.

The younger 18 to 34 crowd also have less
self-control than the 35-plus crowd, with
32 percent taking a sneaky look compared
to 12 percent, according to the survey
that was conducted on behalf
of Yahoo! Shopping.

Gift wrapping expert Christine Fritsch,
author of the book
"Gifted Wrapping",
suggested hiding present for children up high
and trying to disguise adult's presents.

For example put an electronics box on the
outside of a non-electronics gift
to throw off expert peekers.

"If you put a smaller box within a bigger
box, you can curb a lot of peeking," she said.

She also suggested wrapping the present as
soon as you get home and leaving off the
gift tag until the last minute.

And don't use a gift bag.
"That's just way too easy
to peek," she said.


Never mind how careful you are behind the
wheel or how long you've been driving,
the signs of the zodiac may be bigger factors
behind your ability to avoid car crashes -
or why you have too many.

According to a study by
a Web site that quotes drivers on insurance
rates, astrological signs are a significant
factor in predicting car accidents.

The study, which looked at 100,000 North American
drivers' records from the past six years, puts
Libras (born September 23-October 22)
followed by Aquarians (January 20-February 18)
as the worst offenders for tickets and accidents

Leos (July 23-August 22) and then Geminis
(May 21-June 20) were found
to be the best overall.

"I was absolutely shocked by the results,"
said Lee Romanov, president of Toronto-based
InsuranceHotline.com, who also wrote the book
"Car Carma" which touches on the correlation
between astrological signs and driving
ability while doing the study.

Romanov originally wanted to have some
fun by examining astrological signs as a
possible cause for the variance between
insurance companies quoting high and
low rates but didn't expect to find anything
"Now, changing postal codes
is far less significant to me than drivers
of certain astrological signs," she said.

Even age, another variable for determining
insurance rates, is less of a consideration to
Romanov. The cutoff line for being considered
a higher risk driver is 24 years of age;
25-year-olds are considered not-high risk.

"I'd rather get into a car with a 24-year-old
Leo than a 25-year-old Aries," Romanov said.

Leos are described as "generous, and
comfortable in sharing the roadway."

Aries, on the other hand, "have a 'me first'
childlike nature that drives Aries into trouble."

"I wasn't believing in it before," said Romanov,
"but I would think twice before getting
into a car with an Aries."


The world's tallest man has saved the
lives of two dying dolphins in China
by reaching deep into their stomachs
to pull out pieces of plastic.

At an aquarium in the northeastern city
Fushun, doctors failed to remove the plastic
with surgical instruments because the pieces
were difficult to grasp. The arms of ordinary
people were too short to reach the stomachs.

Bao Xishun, a 2.36 metre (7 foot 9 inch) herdsman
who is listed by Guinness World Records as the
tallest living man, was therefore summoned from
the nearby Chinese region of Inner Mongolia.

In an operation shown on local television,
a dozen men held the dolphins down while
Bao slid his 1.06 metre (42 inch) long arm
down their throats to grab the plastic.
The dolphins are now recovering well.

Bao, 55, reached his height in a seven-year
growth spurt that began in his teens and which
doctors cannot explain, according to Guinness.

After a career in the army, where he was
recruited for a basketball team, he returned
to Inner Mongolia where he hires himself
out for publicity stunts in addition
to herding livestock.



German mummy's boys are flocking to a
new website to learn how to iron,
cook and use a washing machine.

The website - called Ask Mummy - caters
for men who still cannot look after
themselves when they leave home.

Men in Germany are famous for living with
their parents until their late twenties or
thirties, say the site's founders, Bernhard
Finkbeiner and Hans-Jörg Brekle.
They've also written a best selling book
on the same subject.

Instructions on www.frag-mutti.de include
how to work a microwave as well as
light-hearted tips such ascooking boil in
the bag dinners in the washing machine.


After years of ridicule the inhabitants of the
Swedish village of
Fjuckby have had enough.

Tired of the mirth caused by the name
of their tiny hamlet, a number of Fjuckby
residents have handed in an application
to Swedish authorities for a small change
that could make a big difference
by becoming Fjukeby.

"The word 'Fjuckby' today appears to
spontaneously and repeatedly lead to
associations concerning certain carnal
activities between people and between
animals," the residents wrote in their plea
to the Surveyors Office.

"This regrettable fact breeds feelings
of weariness, embarrassment and
conditioned shame among
the residents..."

Annette Torensjo at the Swedish surveyors'
office, in charge of deciding on the matter,
said name changes were granted only rarely,
though another village changed its name
from Krakanger, literally meaning
"vomit regret", in the 1950s.



I went to our local Lidl yesterday to scout
for some cheapo Xmas goodies and spotted
these Jacob's biscuits. I didn't even check
the price when I picked them up, I thought
they're not going to break the bank
so I just put them in the basket.

When I got home and had a look at the
receipt I was very pleasantly surprised:
they were only 69p! I thought "Cor, now that's
a bargain!" and was very smug.

Until today. Went to Sainsbury's and thought
I'll just check how much the same biscuits
are, just for a laugh. Knowing
Sainsbury's they'll be loads...

Well not actually. £1.03.
Lidl's still cheaper but not by much!
So much for that bargain... :-)

But then...I found these super dooper
slippers reduced from £6 to £4 so I treated
myself. I must be old to get excited about
discounted slippers but there you go, hehe!


A Swedish police station has ordered toilet
paper - for the first time in 20 years.

In 1986 an admin error meant the police
station in Hagfors ended up with
20 years worth of paper.

A worker ticked the wrong box that meant
they got sent 20 pallets of toilet
roll instead of 20 packets.

Officials tried to return it, but they were
told to do so would be time-consuming
and expensive.


A single featuring singing sheep is to be
released for the second year in
a row due to public demand.

The Baarmy Sheep's version of Jingle Bells
appeared on the
Cumbria Tourism website
last year and received thousands
of downloads.

This year, the website has been inundated
with requests for the song from
around the world.

A Cumbria Tourism spokesman said: "We really
had no intention of releasing this single again
and the plan had been to quietly retire
the Baarmy Sheep for good.

"We have been amazed by the amount of
people who have been in touch wanting
to hear them, so we are making it available
again absolutely free from our website.

"Clearly there is still an appetite for the
Baarmy Sheep and if Slade can re-release
Merry Christmas Everyone after
30 years we can do this."

You can download a "Xmas Megamix"
and the "Jingle Bells" MP3 HERE



I saw a really sad sight on telly today,
on the news. A
polar bear struggling to find
a bit of solid ice to get back on after a swim.

The average sea ice extent in the Arctic Ocean
for the entire month of September this year
was 5.9 million sq km (2.3 million sq miles).
Including 2006, the September rate of sea
ice decline is now approximately -8.59% per decade,
or 60,421 sq km (23,328 sq miles) per year.

At that rate, without the acceleration seen in
the new modelling, the Arctic Ocean would
have no ice in September by the year 2060.

The Arctic may be close to a tipping point
that sees all-year-round ice disappear very
rapidly in the next few decades. The latest
data presented at the American Geophysical
Union Fall Meeting suggests the ice is no longer
showing a robust recovery from the summer melt.

"As the ice retreats, the ocean transports
more heat to the Arctic and the open water
absorbs more sunlight, further accelerating
the rate of warming and leading to the loss
of more ice," Dr Marika Holland explains.

"This is a positive feedback loop with dramatic
implications for the entire Arctic region."

Eventually, she said, the system would be
"kicked over the edge", probably not even
by a dramatic event but by one year slightly
warmer than normal. Very rapid
retreat would then follow.

Locally, this would have major consequences
for wildlife in the region, not least polar bears
which traverse ice-floes in search of food.

On a global scale, the Earth would lose a
major reflective surface and so absorb more
solar energy, potentially accelerating
climatic change across the world.

Scary. And the saddest thing is
it's TOO LATE to do anything about this.
An expert said on the news that even
if carbon emissions were cut back dramatically
right now it wouldn't make much of a difference.
I'm just so glad I won't be around to see this
beautiful planet dying when it's doomsday.

And all this for what?
For the creed of the human race.


A Bath woman convinced herself she
was French after she developed
a rare disorder.

Louise Clarke, 30, a recruitment consultant,
babbled away in French for weeks.
demanded croissants, rang her pals
to tell them she was living in Paris
and even invited them over.

Louise said: "It might sound funny to
others, but suddenly thinking
you are French is terrifying."

She had been in France four years before
becoming one of only four people in Britain,
and 200 in the world, to be diagnosed
with Susac's syndrome.

The brain disorder, which can be brought
on by stress, is thought to affect blood vessels
leading to the brain, ears and eyes
and can scramble memories.

Louise is now controlling it with steroids
and other medication and has been
told it can last up to five years.

She said: "It was a really tough time for
my family. At one point my sister discovered
I had phoned all my friends and told them
to come and visit me in Paris. She had
to ring them all back to explain
what had happened."


Aah, a nice ending for the
seal pup I wrote about on 1.12:

A seal pup found by the side of a country
lane, miles from the coast or the nearest river,
has been successfully released
back into the
Irish Sea.

The male - named Ghost by
RSPCA staff
because of his haunting black eyes - hit the
headlines at the beginning of December when
he was found by a woman and her daughter at
the side of a country lane near the village
of Capernwray, Lancashi

They did not know the number for the RSPCA
and did not want to leave him by the road,
so they wrapped him up, lifted him into
the boot of their car and took him to a nearby
farm. Ghost was put into calf stall
until the RSPCA arrived.

He was taken to the RSPCA Stapeley Grange
Wildlife Centre in Cheshire to recover from
his ordeal and was finally released back into the
sea at Hilbre Island on Saturday, 9 December.

"It was a fantastic sight to see the seal released
back in his natural habitat," said RSPCA
Animal Collection Officer (ACO) John
Littlewood, who oversaw the release.

We wanted to get him back into the wild
as soon as possible as he was healthy and
showing a great appetite for herring. It was
important that he didn't become too tame."

Between 1995 and 2002 the RSPCA released 134
common seals back into the wild, and research
into their survival rate is encouraging. Six
seals have been released with tiny radio
tracking devices, and all have survived for at
least the length of the transmitter's life -
about five or six months.

ACO Cross added: "Hopefully he will thrive
in the wild now and will not wander
back onto land."


In a misguided bid for the North Pole,
two reindeer on show at a Sutton garden
centre escaped from their pen, sparking a
two-hour chase around the borough.

The reindeer, on loan for the Christmas
season, had only been at the
Green Nurseries nursery for a week when
they absconded through an
open gate on Tuesday.

Sutton Police, RSPCA officers, nursery
workers and concerned onlookers gave chase
in a desperate bid to contain the reindeer,
with police officers from Croydon being
drafted in after one got as far as Purley.

Surprised onlookers watched in amazement
as the 30-strong group ran down roads trying
to restrain Basil and Parsley, but lacking
Santa's touch the troublesome
two just kept running.

PC Paul Wenham and PC Kevin Monk led
the chase in their marked van, clearing
roads and doing their best to keep the
reindeer safe as they dodged
through busy traffic.

One was finally recovered in Stanley Road
by the pair, while his furry friend made it
as far as Croydon before RSPCA
officers caught up with him.

PC Monk said: "It was amazing - they were
very fast and very strong. We did our best,
but when we put the blue lights on they made
another bid for it. It was a case of four wheels
versus four hooves and it was hard. We were
chasing them for a good few hours before
we caught up with one."

In the end an officer put his jacket over
the reindeer to calm it down and the group
managed to get it safely back to the
nursery in a transit van.

A worker at the nursery said: "It was an
interesting day, and we got a lot of funny
looks as we ran down the streets. There
must have been about four or five police
vans joining the chase, and it took a few
people to wrestle the reindeer down.
I was exhausted by thetime I got home."

General manager of Woodcote Green Nurseries,
Philip Barnden, confirmed that both Basil and Parsley
were back safely in their pens alongside two
other reindeers, and they were unharmed
after their little adventure.



There's many parody versions of the song
"12 Days Of Xmas" but one of the best
(and realistic) ones has to be
from the TV series
"Scrubs" .

This version relates to the reasons why
doctors try to avoid being on-call
on Christmas eve. For there are:

# 12 beaten children
# 11 drive-by shootings
# 10 frozen homeless
# 9 amputations
# 8 burn victims
# 7 strangled shoppers
# 6 random knifings
# 5 suicides
# 4 beaten wives
# 3 OD's
# 2 shattered skulls
# and a drunk who drove
into a tree

I watched the episode not that long ago as
it happened to be on cable one night when
I was channel surfing. In it the surgeon
Chris Turk (Donald Faison) had be on
call and he was trying to get a bit of
sleep but had to get up every two
minutes to fix one of the above.



I have declared Xmas officially
open in Colliers Wood.

This is the tree we
have in the lounge

and this is the one we have in
the window facing the street.


A heart, and indeed an frog warming
story from Down Under:

A tree frog has miraculously come back to
life after being accidentally frozen
solid in a freezer in Australia.

The tiny frog was found covered in a
layer of ice in a walk-in freezer -
at -18 C at a Darwin cafeteria.

But after defrosting it fully recovered
and started breathing again. Sue Hoddinott,
47, who found the frog, said: "I couldn't
believe it. He was completely frozen rock
solid. When I found him I thought
'Poor little thing', and I went
to put it in the bin."

"But a friend said not to, as she had seen on
TV that they can come back to life when
defrosted. I told her she had been watching
too many movies, but I did it anyway.
"She ran her finger over his back to wipe the
ice off and he started breathing
again - it was amazing."

FrogWatch NT co-ordinator Graeme
Sawyer said it was an unusual story.
But he did not rule out the possibility of a
frog being revived after it was frozen. "I've
never heard of it happening with Australian
species but there are American frogs that can
be defrosted and come back to life," he said.


This week I watched a very interesting
documentary called "The British Cuppa
Wendy Craig". It was the last episode
in a series called "Disappearing Britain", a
history series in which well-known actors
explore aspects of Britain's social heritage.

In the episode Wendy visited the Twinings shop
in London. It looked really interesting, I am going
to pop there as soon as I get chance. I'm a huge
fan of tea, my favourite being funnily
enough Twinings
Earl Grey.

This is from their website-
how to make the perfect cuppa:

1. Only use freshly drawn cold water, ensure
that kettles or water boilers are de-scaled
regularly and that teapots are spotlessly clean.

2. Teapots should be warmed with hot
water, which is then poured away.

3. When making tea use one tea bag
per person plus one for the pot.

4. Water should have just boiled
when it is poured into the pot.

5. Leave Twinings tea to brew for 3-5
minutes and stir before serving.

6. Pour tea into a cup, add milk,
and then sweeten as required.

Also, talking of tea and things,
this is a brilliant website:

Nice Cup Of Tea And A Sit Down


I suffer from really bad hangovers probably
because I don't drink very often and when
I do it's always on a special occasion so it
tends to be big quantities in a short
space of time. I think they call it
binge drinking, hah!

Anyway, I read an article in a paper last
week that
milk thistle is an age old cure for
hangovers. It was recommended by a doctor
and a nutritionist in the article so I
thought sod it, let's give it a bash.

I bought a packet and me and Heidi road tested
them yesterday. We both took the recommended
dose before we started drinking and lo and behold:
today I don't feel half as bad as I would normally!
Heidi said the same, she felt alright as well.
And trust me, vast amounts of white/red
wine were consumed last night!

So, yes, it seems to work. I'm going to take some
every day in the run up to Xmas as I'm sure
the sound of a sparkling wine bottle cork

popping will be heard a few times
in this house over the holidays...



I felt really sorry for the dozens of families
who faced having their homes being demolised
after the freak tornado in Kensal
Rise on Thursday.

Today brought some good news: all of the damaged
properties will be saved from demolition,
surveyors have said.

More than 100 houses in were damaged and
experts initially believed some would
need to be knocked down.

But this has been discounted following
further inspections of the properties. Surveyors
on site say progress is being made and that five
more families have been allowed to return
to their homes - bringing the number
of uninhabitable homes
down from 34 to 29.

The authority has rehoused 12 people but
most of those affected had decided
to stay with family and friends.

About 100 residents have spent their second
night in temporary accommodation after
being told it was too dangerous
to return to their homes.


How about a chili hedge to stop
elephants from trampling on
maize and cotton crops
in the Zambezi valley?

I noticed an ad for a company called
Good Gifts Catalogue in the tube today and
thought I'll have a look at their wesbite.

They've got loads of great stuff like "Adopt a
vegetable", "Old dog's retirement" and
"Protect a sloth's natural habitat".

And if got spare £25 000 kicking about
you can even become an owner
of an organic farm in Rwanda.


I went to Kent yesterday to stay at my
friend Heidi's. Her and a load of other regulars
from their local pub
The Napier Arms started
saving for a Xmas party in the beginning of the year
so last night the whole mob of us went to the
King Charles Hotel for a feed up and a drink.

Heidi deciding which plonk we should have

There must've been about 400 people in
the hall, all locals from pubs and firms having
heir Xmas bash. The food was excellent and
one of the things none of us could understand
was how on earth they managed to keep the
potatoes so HOT! I mean it's a logistical
nightmare trying to get platefuls of food
to so many people all at once
and keep them warm.

Something must've been funny!

The spuds were so hot eveybody burned their
tongues! I can't get them that hot at home!
Interesting how they did it- they must've
nuked them for 10 minutes just before
serving because even after the meal had
been on the table for five minutes
it was till too hot to eat!

For afters I had this gorgeous
choc cake- lovely!

From the hotel me and Heidi decided to venture
to her boyfriend's brothers pub
The Will Adams

which was already shut but us being
"family" we got in of course.

This was the state of
the play by then:

Oh dear oh dear. Heidi found that tinsel
wig somehwere and decided it was a good
idea to wear it for the rest of the night.
I'd been collecting various bit of crap to
pile on my head all through the evening.
The taxi driver who took us home
could not stop laughing at us!

When we left the hotel to walk to the pub
we smuggled out two bottles of wine to drink
on the way (the police drove past us and
just shook their heads) but because we
couln't take them in to the pub we left them
next to a parking meter outside the pub.

When Heidi drove to me Gilligham this afternoon
to get the train back to London the bottles
were still there! Nobody had touched them or
drank out of them. Mind you, I wouldn't drink
out of bottle I saw on the street...

So all in all a great night and it's always
nice to see Heidi and the gang down
there, we always have a laugh.

Cheers guys!



And I always thought Gene
Simmons had a long tongue!

Bats use the earth's magnetic field to navigate
and one species has a huge tongue that is
longer than its entire body, researchers
said on Wednesday.

In two separate studies published in the
Nature, scientists in the United States
have revealed unusual characteristics
of the winged mammal.

Richard Holland of Princeton University in
New Jersey showed the homing devices of
big brown bats can be altered by artificially
shifting the Earth's magnetic field,
indicating the animals depend on a
magnetic compass to travel.

"This finding adds to the impressive array
of sensory abilities possessed by this animal
for navigation in the dark," Holland and his
team said in the Nature study.

By rotating the magnetic field by 90 degrees
clockwise and anticlockwise in relation
to magnetic north and tracking the bats'
attempts to fly home, the scientists found
they flew in the wrong direction compared
to other bats not exposed to the
changes, who flew directly home.

In another study Nathan Muchhala, of the
University of Miami taught the nectar bat
Anoura fistulata to drink from a modified
straw to measure its 85 millimetre (3.4 inch)
tongue, which is 1.5 times
longer than its body.

The bat, which stows its lengthy tongue
in its rib cage, pollinates a plant with
tubes of the same length. Muchhala suggests
the extreme length of the bat's tongue
co-evolved with the long flowers
of the plant.



The lighting of the Trafalgar Square
Christmas Tree, one of the highlights of
London's festive period, will
take place later on today.

A Norwegian Spruce, complete with garlands
of energy efficient light bulbs, will be switched
on by
Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway.

The huge tree has been an annual gift from
Norway since 1947 in gratitude for
Britain's support in World War II.
It was felled from forests near Oslo in
November and brought to Britain by sea.

A specialist rigging team erected it in the
Square where it remains until 6
January before being recycled.


After the hail storm had passed I heard
a shuffling noise from the windowsill and
it turns out our friendly visitor is back.

Looks like he's been in a fight: he's got a
big scab on his right cheek but it seems
to be healing OK. I opened the window
to give him some nuts and he literally
grabbed them out of my hand!

It takes him ages to eat one nut as it seems
he's lost some of his teeth in the fight as well.
Now he kind of sucks on the nut. I've put
some bread and grapes out the back on the
birdtable, they'll be a bit easier to eat.