Saturday, December 29, 2007

Christmas Review

OK so the holiday period in the UK is not quite over as my company closes down for the holiday from Christmas to New Year, but with other folks already returning to work and the remaining days feeling like little more than a long weekend, I thought it was time to look back over the holiday.

Overall, it was a really good Christmas for me. I went to my youngest son’s last weekend to stay with them for one night on my way to collect my 86 y/o mother and bring her back home to celebrate with us.

On Christmas Day we went to Essex to spend the day with Mrs DeeJay’s sister and family – 9 of us all together. It was a little bit hectic as we stayed at home in the morning and opened our presents and then drove the 40 something miles to be with them until very late that evening, getting home again at nearly midnight. The following couple of days were spent being very lazy at home and spending some quality time with my Mother and Mrs DeeJay’s son who also came home for the holiday but had to return to work on Thursday.

Yesterday Mrs DeeJay, my mother and I went to Bluewater shopping mall to primarily exchange presents that did not fit etc, but as you may have expected with two women in tow, we spent a considerable time looking at the Sale goods (clothing of course!). The day was a mix of feelings for me as it was the first time my mother has needed the use of a wheelchair to get around and it instantly brought home to me how frail she has become in the last 12 months. It also brought back memories of pushing my father around the shops in a wheelchair 25 years ago before his untimely and very young death.

I have had a very musical Christmas this year with several albums from Gordon Giltrap to Muddy Waters and Howlin’Wolf as well as Wishbone Ash, The Scissor Sisters, Gary Moore, Billy Idol and – shall I admit to this one – Kylie Minogue (including the DVD).

In addition, Mrs DeeJay having become fed up with my incessant questioning “who’s that then” whenever a track begins playing on the radio, bought me a quiz game ‘Spot the Intro’ which we have played several times over the holiday. And yes, I have upheld my champion title throughout!!

Oh well although I still have 3 days left, one of which will be spent driving the 500 mile round trip to take my mother home, I suppose my attention will slowly turn back towards work and a planned tough year ahead. The first hurdle to jump is the threatened BAA strike for 7th January which is the day I am supposed to be travelling to the U.S. I hope that it is averted as the only alternative I have is to try to get my tickets changed to travel on the Sunday.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Happy Christmas

Whether it is your religion or not, whether you live in a country that celebrates this Christian festive season or not, I wish all who read this blog a Very Happy Christmas and all the very best wishes for the coming new year

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Tagged Again!

I was tagged by Furtheron

1. Do you put up a real tree or artificial?
Artificial – I can’t stand all those needles falling, even on the “non drop” trees. However I do love the smell of a real tree in the warmth of the room.

2. When do you put up your tree?
Usually around the middle of December but this year has been a bit odd with all the travelling I have been doing and I have put up the tree and house lights in stages.

3. When do you take down the tree?
Usually the weekend before returning to work as I can’t stand the thought of having to do it when I come home at night after a day’s work.

4. Do you like eggnog?

5. Favourite gift received as a child?
Blimey – Amazing coincidence with Furtheron here as a bit like his castle, my most treasured gift was a fort and soldiers. Unlike Furtheron, I don’t still have it.

6. Worst Christmas gift ever received?
A really naff wine cooler from my brother which then became the basis of a joke between us as we strove for the best way to disguise it as we passed it between us each alternative Christmas.

7. Favourite Christmas movie?
The Snowman even though it is only 26 minutes long

8. Have you ever recycled a present?
Only the wine cooler

9. Favourite thing to eat at Christmas?
Christmas Pudding

10. Favourite Christmas song?
Gaudete by Steeleye Span

11. Most annoying thing about this time of year?
The continual commercial push of Christmas instead of the priority of goodwill and happiness.

12. What you love most about the holiday?
Brisk Christmas Day walks in the cold fresh air to walk off the lunch!

13. How many reindeer did Santa have?
Eight I think

14. Best Christmas memory?
The first year that my children really understood what it was all about and the early morning “can we open our presents now?” It was only 2 a.m.

15. If you could have one Christmas wish what would it be?
To spend it together with both my sons

I tag - Merelyme who I know loves this stuff from time to time and I hope it will help pull her through her current low.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

New Glasses

I have been wearing my new prescription glasses since last Saturday and have tried Varifocals this time.

I got well and truly fed up with having three pairs. One for reading, one for distance and one pair of bifocals for computer screen work and reading small amounts on the desk while using the screen. The biggest problem was when I went to a meeting and someone was projecting stuff on the screen and I also wanted to make notes about what I was seeing and hearing. I needed the distance glasses to see the projection but couldn’t see my notebook or vice versa.

I now have a pair of these Varifocals that have all three prescriptions in them and I think they are wonderful. I am still trying to get used to the fact that there is always distortion to the sides of the lenses and you have to remember to actually turn your head to face stuff straight on as opposed to just swivelling your eyes to the side, but the benefit of having all 3 distances at my control with just a simple small rise or fall of my head is amazing. The above mentioned meeting problem has gone, as is the totally embarrassing situation of seeing someone at the end of the corridor and not recognising them when they acknowledge me from a distance.

I haven't forgotten that I was tagged by Furtheron and will attempt to get the meme completed before Xmas (sorry Liz I mean Christmas)

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Home from Tokyo

Sorry that last one is a bit blurred but I took it from a moving vehicle - hence the signal gantry captured as well!

Although I just love the place, find it absolutely fascinating and would really love to get back there again to see some more of the country, I am certainly glad to be home. The 12 hour flight and a time zone difference of 9 hours certainly plays havoc with your mind and body!

I am glad that Blogger has decided that I am English again and isn’t giving me loads of unintelligible Kanji character buttons and instructions when I am posting. That was awfully confusing.

So now that I am back, I have realised just how close Christmas is and I am spending most of this weekend dressing the tree, wrapping pressies and getting my final Xmas cards posted.

I also need to cram some guitar practice in as I have another lesson on Wednesday and due to not having my guitar with me, I still have not mastered the homework from last week. I am getting better at remembering chords and even getting the transitions without too big a delay, but I am really struggling with the strumming pattern he has given me for House of The Rising Sun. I seem to be going up when I should be going down and vice versa.

Monday, December 10, 2007

BA Lounge – AGAIN!

I am writing this at 1 p.m. on Sunday having just finished my complimentary lunch and now drinking my second glass of Rioja courtesy of British Airways on my way to Tokyo for my second visit to our office there. I will post when I next connect to the internet. It makes me feel quite sad to have left Mrs DeeJay at home on a Sunday. Although my company allows me an additional day off for travelling on a weekend it really doesn’t help that much if Mrs DeeJay is at work herself!

I spent several hours yesterday putting up my outdoor Christmas lights as if I waited until I got home next weekend it would really be getting too late. I got absolutely drenched for 2 hours up a ladder, but they do look good. I thought I would have a relatively easy job of putting them up as I remembered that after 3 years of struggling to re-attach clips that snap on to the rain guttering (always in the cold, leaving my fingertips raw), I had left the clips attached when I took them down last year. However when I got the lights out of the loft space I asked Mrs DeeJay what the two new boxes of lights were. Oh Dear senility strikes again! She said, “don’t you remember that you bought them last year in the after Christmas sale?” Well I couldn’t not put them up after that could I so what did I have to do – yep spend 45 minutes in the cold and wet getting raw fingertips taking the clips off the old lights and putting them on to the new. Still it was worth it and if it is a drier weekend next weekend I will take some photos.

Maybe I will get some time in Tokyo to post from there again. Now that I know the lie of the land a little better, I will try to do some different sight seeing in the evenings this time.

Well as you can now read this, you know I have arrived safely. I have just come back from a small shopping trip and managed to get youngest son a PS3 Dual Schock Controller. What? I hear you ask. Well don’t ask me I just followed orders! But it is apparently not only cheaper here but they have actually got stock which is more than the shops in the UK have.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Oh What a Day!

I have just got home from my annual Bluewater (Shopping Mall) Christmas present buying pilgrimage. Due to the work travel itinerary and Mrs DeeJay's illness last week I am at least 2 weeks later this year and boy did it show!
As usual I got there at 9 a.m. (more about that in a minute or two) in time for a leisurely breakfast and to plot my route of attack. I don't know why but I really was not as ready with ideas to hunt down as I usually am so I was starting with almost a blank sheet of paper.
Still, suitably fed and watered I hit the floor at 10 a.m. along with several thousand other like minded imbeciles. Good old John Lewis and M&S made short work of about 70% of the list. I decided it was time to dump the first pile of bags that were slowly but surely stretching my arms, into the boot of the car. I stopped off on the way back in for a glass of Rioja and some Tapas in a super little Spanish style bar and set off again for a second round of the triangular mall to sweep up the remaining 30%.
Two circuits of upper and lower malls, over a 5 hour period including lunch, I think I made it to within about 5% - Amazon here I come!

So what happened on the way there this morning? Well I think I will definitely know all about it tomorrow morning.
As it is Mrs DeeJay's birthday tomorrow, I thought that instead of attending my usual 6:45 a.m. Spinning class tomorrow, I booked myself in for this morning's at the same time to follow it with a leisurely steam or sauna and then to get to Bluewater for 9 a.m.
When I got to the gym, instead of the usual 10 to 12 keen Spinners, I was the only one booked in!! Matt, the instructor gave me the option of ducking out and doing a workout on the gym floor or having a 1:1 Spinning class. I opted for the 1:1 (was that a macho thing or what?). I certainly regretted it. It was the most vicious Spin I have ever done - there was nowhere to hide and he just kept driving me on. And yes still Mr macho, I kept on going.
After 45 minutes I had burned 783 calories, averaged a 148 heart rate which maxed out at 179!
As I said I think my legs are going to know all about it tomorrow.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

A Little Disappointed and Depressed

This weekend I should have been taking Mrs DeeJay away for a long weekend as a surprise to Edinburgh for her birthday. Unfortunately she has been unwell all week and the weekend has always been at risk. Lo and behold, come Friday when we should have been flying, she seemed to be even worse and we made the sensible decision to cancel.

It is now Saturday afternoon and our decision has been vindicated as she is really not any better and is alternating between the settee and bed, so I am on TLC duty in a big way this weekend as I know she is probably more disappointed than I am.

I have just been into the garden and look what I have found -

it’s the first of December and we have Hyacinths coming up!!! What is going on?

I am also suffering with sore fingers today. My first guitar lesson ahs done the trick and given me the incentive to practice daily so that I can show some development next Wednesday at ‘lesson 2’. The chords and strumming pattern that I am learning are supposed to lead me to be able to play House of The Rising Sun. Hmmm, not sure I can hear it yet, but hey early days.