30.11.09

BETTER A KB IN A PIVO THAN
TWO IN A TOWER
(DON'T ASK!)

Greetings from wonderful Prague!

The weather was spot on (sunny, about +10 C),
food and drink cheap as chips (huge portions!),
shopping great and people friendly.

We visited Petřín Hill, the castle, the old town,
Žižkov Television Tower and the total tourist
trap U Fleků brewery but as it turned out we
met some great people from all over
the world in there (below).

In the photos from top left: Miro, KB, me, Drasco, Jan.
Bottom photo from the left: Michael,
Alison, KB, Jan, Ronni.


We had a fantastic meal in U Emy Destinnove near
our hotel. My steak was easily in the Top 3 of
All Time Best Steaks. Recommended!

We also frequented Banditos bar for those afternoon
perk-me-up glasses of wine and discovered another
local restaurant Hostince ResPUBlica on
Bělehradská when we couldn't get into
our first choice restaurant.

It's a real "local bar for local people" with added
cigarette smoke! There were three of us (our friend
Heidi was in Prague on business and joined us
for dinner), we had a main course each and
tons to drink - the whole bill was £16!!!

I fell in love with the city, there is still so much
more to see and discover, have to go
again soon! Below some pics, enjoy!













21.11.09

AHOJ
PRAHA!

Next Wednesday KB and myself will hop on a Czech
Airlines flight to Prague for three days. Yay!
It's nice to have a change of scenery again.

Although the country is known for dozens of varieties
of beer (which I do not drink) I'm sure I will be
able to sample some local vínos! I will steer clear
of Absinthe though, I don't think I could
handle the headache the next day!

The weather over there is pretty much the same
as here with an added danger of snow so
hats, gloves and thermal socks are packed.


Also, my friend Heidi is arranging a work trip
for the same days so we will be able to meet
her as well! She has actually lived in the
city so some local knowledge will be handy.

It's doodlepip for now as I have to reserve
my energy so I'll be back next
week after the trip.


SIMON'S CAT

A cartoon of Simon Tofield's cat has become
one of the most-watched videos ever
posted on YouTube.

Hugh has become an internet celebrity after the
London-based illustrator focused his animations
on the antics of his cheeky feline friend.

He said: "I basically sat down one day and thought
I'd teach myself to use some new computer animation.
That morning Hugh, who was then a tiny kitten, had
been jumping all over me - pulling my ears and
scratching me, trying to wake me up for his breakfast.
So I decided to do a little film of a cat trying to wake
its owner. I made it up as I went along."

Over 45 million people are thought to have viewed
the videos in a little over a year, with Mr Tofield
being offered book deals as a result.

The Simon's Cat book was published in October
- and although Mr Tofield has not made
money from the YouTube hits, he describes
the book deal as "a dream come true".

He has also created a website and a
YouTube channel dedicated to his cat.

Mr Tofield said that it takes him six weeks
to create a minute and a half of animation,
and one week to do the sound.


He says the animations have a broad appeal
due to their slapstick, old fashioned comedy
values. "He's worked out how to twist me round
his paw," Mr Tofield admitted. I think a lot of
cat owners can relate to that."


SHOO!

This is funny!

A police camera has captured the moment
a cat became overly friendly (video) with a
Texas police officer while he was
writing a traffic ticket.

The footage caught by the patrol car's dashboard
camera shows a black cat clambering up and down
officer Keith Urban, until he finally
gently shoos it away.


Captain Don Georgens of the Taylor Police
Department said: "We see a lot of horrendous videos,
the officers go to all different types of calls,
to traffic accidents and things of that nature so
when we come across a video like this it
kind of helps with our humour
around the station."


100 YEARS ON
THE ROCKS

After a century buried in the Antarctic ice, a rare
batch of whisky which belonged to the polar explorer
Sir Ernest Shackleton is to be recovered.
So what will it taste like?

A team of New Zealand explorers heading out in January
has been asked by Whyte & Mackay, the company
that now owns Mackinlay and Co, to get a sample
of the drink. The two cases of "Rare Old" brand
Mackinlay and Co whisky were left behind by
Sir Ernest (below on the left) when he
abandoned his mission to the
South Pole in 1909.

The crates were discovered again by polar explorers
in 2006, but couldn't be removed as they were too
deeply embedded in ice. Now the team plans
to use
special drills to rescue a sample.

A whisky can survive indefinitely and taste the same
if it is stored correctly. It should not be exposed to
light or heat, which change the colour and make
it fade. Most importantly the bottle should be
kept upright, unlike wine.


Alcohol erodes cork over time and whisky is about four
times stronger than wine so if it is in contact with the
cork it will damage it quickly. The vapour in the bottle
should be sufficient to keep the cork moist and
prevent it from drying out and air getting in.
If whisky is being stored for any length of time
you may have to wet the cork occasionally,
but even then only once or twice a year.


Extremely low temperatures, like those in the Antarctic,
will make the whisky cloudy, but this should fade
when it is warmed up, says David Stewart, a master
blender at distillers William Grant & Sons Ltd.
"If these bottles have been stored upright there
is every chance they will be drinkable," he says.

The fact the temperature will have been consistently low
will also work in the whisky's favour. Fluctuating
temperatures are worse because they cause the cork
to contract and expand, which could allow air in.

If the whisky is drinkable, experts say it will taste
different from what is on sale today as the "Rare Old"
brand of Mackinlay is not made any more. Also,
different casks are used to make whisky
now so it is blended differently.


"Whiskies back then - a harder age - were all quite
heavy and peaty as that was the style," says
Whyte & Mackay's master blender
Richard Paterson.
If the team of explorers are unable to retrieve a full
bottle, they are hoping to use a syringe to extract
some of the contents. "We might get enough to
be able to take a stab at recreating it,"
says Mr Paterson.


NICE COLOURS
OF THE DAY

FRUITY
SKYLINE

London's skyline has been recreated using
fruit as part of a promotional campaign.

Photographer Carl Warner, famous for his foodscapes,
and a team of five model makers spent three weeks
crafting the scene using hundreds of pieces of fruit
and veg - all painstakingly glued together.

The Houses of Parliament are built from a mix of
asparagus, green beans and runner beans which
are mixed with baby sweetcorn to depict
the intricate stonework.

The Gherkin, found in the Square mile, is cunningly
crafted out of two types of melon and embedded
with green beans to highlight its
spiralling glass frames.


Nelson's column is cleverly constructed from a
cucumber, baby courgettes and a carrot with a
monkey nut and almond stuck on to it.
Other
high profile London landmarks given a
makeover include The London Eye which
has green beans as spokes and its pods
made out of baby plum tomatoes.


It even features the Thames-side lampposts which
are made from onions wrapped in vanilla pods
for the lamps, asparagus for the posts and
mackerel for the ornate fishplinths.

The spire on St Paul's Cathedral (above) has been
given a fruity new look after it was created from
roundels of carrot, yellow and green courgette
and baby leeks.
The famous dome has been made
using a melon, while the impressive columns
have been crafted out of baby sweetcorn.


Roopa Gulati from the Good Food channel, the
company who commissioned the work, said the
image represents how fruit and vegatables can
be used imaginatively in the diet.


He said ''This stunning image has quite literally
transformed the London skyline with good food
and it proves that fun with food in a creative
and light-hearted way is the way forward''.


SONNY THE
RECYCLER

A dog who picks up litter from a town’s streets
has been officially recognised for his
services to the community.

Sonny, a nine year old springer spaniel, has collected
rubbish since he was a pup before being taught to
dispose of it in recycling bins at his home.

During that time he has recovered hundreds of plastic
bottles, cans, wrappers and other refuse dropped
in Scunthorpe, Lincolnshire.

The local authority has now included him in its
annual environmental awards which
honour volunteers who keep their
neighbourhood clean.


His owners Sharon Smith and her husband Tony
accompanied him at North Lincolnshire council
chamber for the presentation.
Sonny received
a frames certificate bearing his name,
a special rosette, a bag of plastic
toys and dog treats.


Mrs Smith said: “He is such a scavenger and he's
always picking up rubbish in the hope of finding
something edible.
We taught him to put things
in the bin rather than ripping them to pieces
and it started to become a bit
of a game for him.”


The couple were issued with separate bins for recycling
two years ago.
Ms Smith added: “Every time he goes for
a walk he brings back a can, plastic bottle, sandwich
wrapper or other bit of litter and when we get home
we ask him which bin it goes in and he drops it in
the right bin every time - unlike the rest of the
family.
I knew springer spaniels were bright,
but the first time he did it we were
amazed, so I entered him for the
environment awards.”


DEMANDS

GETTING THERE

Remember the chilis I've been
growing since October 2007?

Well, they've finally produced some fruit! (See
arrows in the top pic) Three have already turned
red, another three are still white. They've been
a long time coming so it's nice to see the
plant eventually getting there!

Mr S's peppers are growing slowly but surely as well,
had to bring them indoors when the weather got
colder. They have been awfully slow though,
they should've been fully grown by
the end of September!


MMMMMMM!

It's not very often I get so excited about a chocolate,
or anything for that matter, that I travel
miles in search of it but sadly it
was the case this week.

I bought a bag of Delissia Strawberry Nougat
Whips from Poundland of all places (in Tooting),
purely on the basis that they sounded nice.

And boy, did they taste good!
Little whips of heaven.

So back I went the next day and found one more bag.
By now I'm addicted. Tragic, I know. I went back
again but they didn't have any. In my desperation
I hopped on a bus to Wandsworth but the
branch there didn't have any either.

Please tell me these weren't a one of and you're never
going to stock them again? Why is it whenever you
find something you really like whether it be a
shampoo or a lipstick or a chocolate ... they stop
either making it or selling it somewhere
where you go regularly? Hmph!

EDIT 24.11.2009: All is well again- popped into
the relocated Tooting Poundland today and
they still stock the whips. Yay! Doesn't take
a lot to make me happy, eh?! Haha!



15.11.09

TIMBER!

We've just had the biggest storm of the year in the
UK and this is what happens when ones garden
is buffeted by 80 miles an hour winds:

The tree at the back crashed down taking some of
the fence with it. Luckily it fell sideways rather
than straight on the fence, it could've been
a lot worse.
Our neighbour has kindly
promised to fix the damage
as well, thank you!


Now we just have to find a new home for the washing
line, the
Clematis and the Virginia Creeper which are
still wrapped around the fallen trunk. It would be a
shame to waste them as they've been growing
for years and look beautiful.


GREETINGS FROM
EARL'S COURT

Yesterday me and KB defied the biggest storm
of the year so far and tubed it up to Earl's
Court for Discover Dogs 2009.

We got tickets from our Bergamasco friends Cindy
and Stuart (thank you!) and it was a
fantastic day out as usual.

Above from the top: Cindy and me (something was
obviously very funny!), Stuart and me, David and
Patricia Rolf with me and me with yet
another furry friend, a Portuguese
Podengo Pequeno called Jess.


We also popped over to see our Finnish Spitz friends
the Rolfe family, who have a new addition to
their 15 strong pack, a six month old
Hunaja (Honey) (below).

They brought her to the show, such a sweet little
thing! Salama (Lightning), their DD veteran,
was ever so protective of her although
she's not his pup. Bless!

Siggi gets wind of some chicken...

We got invited up to Crufts next year as well so
we'll you guys up in Birmingham!

KB has a video from the show in
her blog, check it out
HERE.


12.11.09

THE HOFF AND
ALEK

Now here's a sentence I never thought I'd
write...David Hasselhoff has been
interviewed a meerkat.

The Baywatch and Knight Rider star is the guest
on a new podcast presented by Aleksandr Orlov,
the Russian billionaire puppet made famous
in advertisments
for price comparison
website, comparethemarket.com.

Aleksandr has over half-a-million fans on Facebook
and over 20,000 Twitter followers, and will
be interviewing celebrities ranging from
Hollywood actors to industry leaders
in his monthly "Meerchat" podcast.


David Hasselhoff said “I’ve heard so much about
Aleksandr - it was an honour to be the first
guest on his chat show. I‘ve always been
pretty big over in Moscow, but he’s
taking it to another level."


The pair discussed fame, beauty secrets (being
hairy), America's Got Talent and the tricky
subject of dealing with female attention.


Offering advice, David Hasselhoff told Aleksandr:
“You must remain aloof, you must remain single
because you are the ultimate meerkat of all time.
You must say your career is more important than
marriage and unfortunately you cannot
share your love only one person."


Aleksandr’s first podcast including the interview
with the Hoff will be available to download
from comparethemeerkat.com
and iTunes today.


NICE COLOURS
OF THE DAY

Lanterns are displayed during the Seoul
Lantern Festival 2009 at the Cheonggyecheon
stream. The spectacle showcases 1,000
lanterns from 20 counties.

I S*** YOU
NOT!

Usually when kids do "comedy" it's, well,
let's face it, crap. Not in this case.

E4's "School Of Comedy" has had me in stitches
every time I've watched it. These 12 to 16 year
olds are genuinely funny and
amazingly talented.

School of Comedy is a unique sketch show in which
the kids have their say, poking fun with an
adolescent depiction of the adult world.

After years of performing comedy at the Edinburgh
Fringe,
Laura Lawson started an after school
club at a West London school with a regular
group of children, honing their talents week
on week and turning them into mini comedy
geniuses. The result is pure
entertainment gold.


There are no inadequate characters, unusually.
My favorites are the rude pub landlady Connie
(top pic above), The White Van Men, (the superb
Will Poulter (on the right middle pic) with Max
Brown) who shout at women from the safety of
their metal box but when faced with an actual
female don't know what to do and The Cabbie
(bottom pic above). "I shit you not!"


10.11.09

PIE

GRUMPY

In a bad mood? Don't worry - according
to research, it's good for you.

An Australian psychology expert who has been
studying emotions has found being grumpy
makes us think more clearly.

In contrast to those annoying happy types,
miserable people are better at decision-making
and less gullible, his experiments showed.

While cheerfulness fosters creativity, gloominess
breeds attentiveness and careful thinking,
Professor Joe Forgas told
Australian
Science Magazine.

The University of New South Wales researcher
says a grumpy person can cope with more
demanding situations than a happy one
because of the way the brain "promotes
information processing strategies".


PINK

I love pink but this lady has taken
it to a whole new level!

Kitten Kay Sera, 46, wakes up everyday in her pink
bedroom, has breakfast in her pink kitchen, and
dresses in one of her many pink outfits. She
claims not to have worn any other colour
for more than 25 years.

The actress from Los Angeles, says she isn't strange.
She just has a natural affinity for the shade,
which makes her feel 'lovely and
luxurious' and happy.

"The colour pink makes me feel like I'm living a
lavish life. It's just a beautiful colour, so I
surround myself with any and everything pink.
I'm just drawn to it like a magnet," she said.

A permanent pink fixture in her life is
her four-year-old Maltese dog called
Kisses, who she dyes safely with
beetroot juice every five week.


BALDRICK

Oh, bless!

A bald baby hedgehog is being nursed back to full
prickliness after being abandoned by its mother
when it was born with almost no spikes.

The four-month-old creature, named Baldrick, was
bald apart from a few prickles when he was found
in a garden in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk.

He is now being looked after by John and
Tonia Garner at Foxy Lodge
Wildlife Rescue.

Mr Garner, 50, who is a signaller for Network Rail,
said Baldrick, who was named after Blackadder's
unlucky sidekick, is very unusual.
"He's a bit of
a rarity," he said. "We've had 45 hedgehogs
altogether, but he's the first
one without any spikes."


Hedgehogs' wrinkly bodies normally have around
500 spikes, which protect them from predators
and the elements plus keep them warm. Until
he grows spikes, Mr Garner said releasing
Baldrick would be "pointless".


Mr Garner added: "There's no way he would
survive if he was released now. It would be like
releasing a polar bear which has just been
shorn like a sheep into the North Pole."


Each day the Garners clean Baldrick using antiseptic
scrub and massage baby oil into his body to soften
up his skin. They hope making his skin softer
will allow spikes to come through.


Mr Garner said Baldrick, one of 22 hedgehogs
currently being looked after by him and his
wife, was a bit of a character.


"Baldrick loves mealworms," he said. "As a treat,
he gets more than his fair share and would jump
through a hoop for one. You go into his room
and he will go up to the edge of the cage and
put his paw up. He's not satisfied until he gets
a few mealworms. He's quite a character."


He believes Baldrick was abandoned by his mother
when he was just weeks old.
"I think the mother
suspected he would not survive and they're quite
ruthless in the wild. If one of the babies is not
keeping up it will be abandoned. Luckily,
Baldrick was found, otherwise he would
have been dead a long time ago."


When the hedgehog was brought to Foxy Lodge
at the age of about six weeks he weighed
240g, but is now up to about 800g.


The animal sanctuary was started up by Mr
and Mrs Garner in May and has had just under
180 animals through its doors, including a
lamb, bats, seagulls, barn owls and a kestrel.


If you would like to make a
donation the details are
here.


SLOBBER
ALERT

Me and KB will make our annual trek to Earl's
Court next Saturday for the Kennel Club dog show
courtesy our Bergamasco friends Cindy and
Stuart, who, once again, have generously
given us tickets. Thank you C & S!

Some pics from couple
of years a ago in
here.


9.11.09

AND THE WALL CAME
TUMBLING DOWN

It's twenty years today since the Berlin wall
came down. It feels like only yesterday I was
watching people on TV crying with joy as
they ran towards the freedom in the West.

Communist East Germany erected the 155-km (96-mile)
concrete barrier in 1961 to encircle West Berlin
and prevent citizens from fleeing into
the capitalist enclave.


At least 136 people are thought to have been
killed at the wall while trying to escape.


German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who grew up in
East Germany, is leading the celebrations marking
its end. She retraced her steps on the night the
wall fell by crossing what used to be the
Bornholmer Strasse checkpoint, the
first to open 20 years ago.


Ms Merkel was joined by former Soviet leader
Mr Gorbachev and Mr Walesa, the former Polish
trade union leader and later president,
whose movement was the first to challenge
Communist rule successfully in
Eastern Europe.


This interactive map shows where in the
world parts of the wall have ended up in.


MOAN OF THE
DAY

Question: do people really not realise how much space
they actually physically take? Or do they simply not
care? It's probably the latter knowing how
thick most of the general public
in this country is!

I am sick of people saying "sorry" to me all day long
when I go, for instance, to the supermarket. There
they are, trolleys plonked right in the middle of
the travelator (in our local supermarket the only
way down from the shop floor is down two
travelators) so nobody can get past. Or
standing side by side (the etiquette is a
single file, a bit like on the escalators
at a tube station) creating a block.

They may have all the time in the world to stand
gawping into the distance while inching down on
this slower-than-slow travel marvel but some
people might actually want to get on with it!

So here it comes: "Oh- sorry!" when you say
"Excuse me" to get past. Then they look at you
like you've just asked them to give
you their first born.

Or they have their trolley plonked right in the middle of
the aisle, sideways or course, when they've stopped
to chat on their mobile phone. Or their trolley is in
front of the shelf which you're trying to get to, while
they chat away with someone they've bumped
into, usually with a double buggy or two
and a screaming toddler running riot
thrown in for good measure.

I usually just stand there staring at them to see how
long it takes for them to move. "Oh- sorry!" If there
is no reaction after about 30 seconds I just crab the
trolley out of the way and say "EXCUSE ME!" very
loudly. Again the look is one of horror. Well, YOU
ARE IN THE WAY YOU IDIOTS, don't look
at me like I'm in the wrong.


My motto is "don't do something worth a
"sorry" in the first place", then there
is no need to say it, is there?

Why is it so difficult to move to a bit of the area where
you would not be in anyone's way if you really have
to go into a marathon chat session in the middle of
your shop? It's the same when people meet on a
busy pavement. Move to one side? Oh no, they'll
stand right in the middle so people have to
literally walk on the road to get past!

Another scenario I see on a weekly basis is two or three
people with buggies going into, for instance, a tiny
newsagent and only one of them is buying something.
Why can't one of them stay outside the shop with the
kids (tied down in the buggies so they're not going
to run off)? But again, oh no, they all have to go
in there so nobody in the shop can move!

Last week I was in a local newsagent and in front of me
at the till was a girl with a buggy and her friend. It
wasn't quite clear what they were doing as there was
no interaction with the person manning the till so
I asked "Are you in the queue?" and
they said they weren't.

The 3 people behind me all asked them the same
question, yet being asked are you in the shop for
anything other than a chat right in the front of
the till, FOUR times within three minutes, still
didn't promt them to move outside. Instead they
carried on casually gossiping while people were
scrambling past them in the narrowest bit of
the shop to get to the till and of course
the staff didn't say anything!

Also, why is it that whole families have to go to the
supermarket? When a group consists clearly of
the parents, grandparents and several teenage
kids that leaves only one question: why?

Why can't the kids, who are old enough, stay at home?
And if they're not old enough why can't one or several
of the adults stay home with them? Why does
the WHOLE family HAVE TO GO SHOPPING?
Especially during school breaks? (When are the
kids actually IN school?! They seem to be
on holiday every two weeks!)

They just walk around getting in everyone's way with
their mouths open behind the mother who's in
charge of the shop and would be capable of doing
it on her own. Nobody is helping her choose or
pick things anyway! She doesn't drive? The
person who drives could pick her up when
she's done. But oh no, they ALL
have to be there. In the way.
For no reason whatsoever.


This seems to be a UK phenomenon by the way. I never
see any kids in the supermarkets or other shops in the
countries I go to regularly. Not even at the weekends
or after school. The people over there seem to
have the good sense to leave the kids at home.

Again, the childcare in this country is not as organised
as elsewhere (in several countries the grandparents
or other relatives look after the kids) but there is no
excuse to bring the kids when the shopping party
consists of several other adults who could
plainly stay at home with them.

If a trip to the supermarket in this country nowadays
constitutes a family day out...well, that is
a really really sad state of affairs.

But then what else is new in the me-me-me society
where people have no regard to anyone else
apart from their selfish fat asses.

Rant over. Phew!
That's better!


ART, ART AND
MORE ART

More strange art, this time made with smoke
by Mehmet Ozgur
, lights by Jan Wöllert
and Jörg Miedza, body painting by Craig
Tracy, Lego by Nathan Sawaya and
water and milk by Corrie White.

Please click on the links to viw more images
and info. Please click on the image
below to view a larger version.

6.11.09

POINTY

This week has been the most boring in the
history of mankind...absolutely
nothing happened...

So I cheered myself up with some new
boots (because I clearly do not have
enough of shoes/boots!)

Well, they were a sort of late birthday
present to myself as well. Do you
reckon they're pointy enough?!


SUNSET OF
THE WEEK

2.11.09

BACKLOG

PS: For non UK residents: that is funny because
the postmen over here tie bundles of post together
with rubber bands and then have the annoying habit
of dropping them right outside ones door.

We've got a stash of hundreds of bands just from
picking them up from our front yard! And of course
with the post piling up into a huge backlog with the
currents strikes, so are the rubber bands!

Sometimes I think I should send them back to the
sorting office with a well worded note...but then
the package would probably never get there!