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posted by [personal profile] pmsumner at 09:44pm on 27/12/2011 under , , ,
Jane and I wanted to do something different than just going to her parents' place for Christmas day this year. We talked to each other's parents and offered to have them all at our house for lunch/dinner/some other mutually acceptable combination of food & drink. We thought it would be a suitable introduction to preparing a Christmas meal and hosting. Cooking for six - not too different to what I'm used to, and at home.

Well... this changed fairly soon. This changed in almost every imaginable way.

Jane's mum wanted to do it at her place, partly out of a feeling of being bound to do dinner for some family friends (they've alternated at each other's place for the last 5yrs or so), and partly because I think she likes having it there.

Then, as well as the six of us, there are the five family friends that Jane's mum felt honour bound to invite. So now instead of a nice cosy meal for a manageable number in a familiar kitchen, we're doing dinner for eleven in an unfamiliar kitchen.


Doing it there is not a bad thing, not at all. Our house is small, only a 2-up, 2-down but we could have fitted six in easily. We agreed to do it on one condition: Jane's dad promised that he would feed her mum sherry and keep her out of the kitchen.

Jane's parents offered to buy the turkey (a crown), and the wine. We would do the rest. Then at some point, they gave us £50-worth of Morrison's saving stamps. We got occasional phone calls from her mum telling us not to buy X, Y or Z as she'd got it, and then she went and won a 2-minute trolley dash around a local supermarket!

We made plans, lists, and bought stuff. In the end, we really only bought veg, and stuff for puddings. Everything else was provided for us.

Overall the food all went really well. We arrived at their place on Christmas Eve, and immediately set about preparing veg, making puddings (all cold), cranberry goop, and soup (easy to prepare in advance). Apart from a silly mistake about plain/self-raising flour (seriously: don't make a pie-crust with self-raising flour, it's just wrong) it all went to plan. No emergencies, no disasters.

My parents arrived at their hotel in Oswestry and threw our plans a little bit, asking if they could come to Jane's parents rather than going for coffee/drinks in Oswestry as we'd planned. Despite her mum flapping like crazy about the state of the house, a good night was had. Wine, carol singing and amazing ham (really need Jane's mum to write down what she did to it).

Christmas day came around, we had little to do now except actually cook! I'd planned out timings in my head and knew what needed to be done and when. We were calm, and bar occasionally needing to ask Jane's mum where X, Y or Z was, or how best to use the hostess trolley (things I'm unfamiliar with), and the gravy at the end, it was done on our own. Jane was ace, she claims to have just been a helper but in reality it would never have been done had she not been there.

I was pleased with the outcome. There were a few bits here and there that I would do differently were we to do it again. I would take the turkey out a little earlier (Jane's mum was a little over-cautious about this in my view), I would cook the broccoli a lot less and I would do one fewer pudding (in retrospect, 4 was too many. Even if 2 of those were fruit-based and therefore not really "pudding"!).

We got lots of compliments and fun was had. Hurrah.

I'd do it again, but I would do it at home and I would want to be responsible for buying everything. Using someone else's kitchen, someone else's equipment and not knowing exactly what you've got is more stressful than you might expect.
Music:: BBC News on BBC HD
Mood:: 'pleased' pleased
location: LL11
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posted by [personal profile] pmsumner at 09:55pm on 21/12/2009 under , , , , , , ,
My life seems to have become very busy all of a sudden. OK not so much now, with everyone stopping over Christmas, but my "normal" weeknights are now all taken. I've got 2 rehearsals a week, singing lessons once a week (though I may try to switch to doing one longer lesson every 2 months), a defined "shopping" night (we're trying to be sensible, though I'm not sure it's working) and then the night reserved exclusively for WINE.

Singing lessons I have been looking at doing for a while and a month or so back I finally made some more phone calls after my initial attempts in summer ended up being fruitless. The lady I'm doing them with (Jo Cleeton) has been good - I kinda just turned up and went "Teach me to sing better", and she's done a good job at finding things I'm good at, and things I'm bad at very quickly. She's helped with some techniques to work on and I am sure that I will see some definite benefits in the not too-distant future.

Related to the singing, we have recently obtained a half-decent (musical) keyboard. We got rid of the organ, at last! I'm starting to play a bit again (I did piano for a few years at school) and am struggling to cope with 2 hands, though definitely improving with practise. My music reading does suck, though it always has.

I've started using Last.FM "properly" today. For months/years I've been scrobbling through iTunes (recording all the tracks I play on my iPod) but never really used the radio/recommendations/artists similar to functionality. Only when I found and tried out the official application for my phone did I see just how cool it is ;) So right now I'm listening to "If I Can't Love Her" from the Beauty and the Beast cast recording. Lovely.

Christmas is coming. I've been concerned lately about my mum, who has been unwell, so Jane and I spent the last weekend down at theirs and I had some time to talk. She seems to be happier than I expected, so am slightly less concerned but still worried. I'd love to get them to commit to saying that they'll be doing something over Christmas - I appreciate that it's difficult when you're starting new drugs that you never know how things will be the next day, but I don't care. I'd be happier to know that they're with people than being miserable and alone.

So my Christmas plans are somewhat meh. I've got some stuff for Jane, I guess at the moment I'm going with the default option which is Jane's parents and friends. Not sure what I want.

I recently flogged a whole load of CDs/DVDs on eBay. Didn't make much money overall, to be honest I only would have made just over what I spent if I hadn't acquired some jiffy bags from work and had someone not vastly overbid on my box set of Cube/Cube 2/Cube Zero. I am happier for having done so, and making money was not the object of the exercise. I got rid of some stuff I have had hanging round for years for no good reason. CDs I haven't looked at for 5yrs, stuff I bought because I thought I'd watch it again or because I thought it would be cool to have. Anything I looked at and decided I wanted to keep, I did, but that still left about 30 CDs and 20 DVDs to sell.

I am loving my mobile phone more and more all the time. Android is a powerhouse, an up-and-coming star in the mobile device world. The app store/market may not yet be as enormous as the iPhone one, but 12,000 apps is still a lot! If I could say that I use my phone for 3 primary things, I think these would be:
  1. Twitter
    I use (at the moment) Swift as my Twitter client. Twitter on the move is one of the most insanely useful/useless things in the world
  2. Google products of ALL descriptions.
    Android being a Google product it's obvious that the integration between Google products and this phone will be tight, and it really is. Calendar, Contacts and Email sync without any effort. Google Reader works really well, Picasa looks good on the small screen, and the newly installed (for me) voice search is remarkably accurate. Google Goggles is not so much "useful" yet, but very clever.
  3. Navigation
    I bought ALK CoPilot 8 for Android, and for under £25 it is an amazing price - turns the phone into a fully featured and actually very good SatNav. Free speed camera updates are a nice bonus. If you don't want that, Google Maps is useful, but turn-by-turn navigation is not yet available in the UK. It's still usable as a navigation aid, but it's not as nifty as fully-fledged navigation software. It also fails spectacularly when you go out of mobile/data coverage, as Google Maps loads everything on the fly and doesn't appear to cache anything.
Speaking of technology, I have an urge to do some proper geekery again but I really need another PC to do it on. I got tired very quickly of breaking my one and only PC, where fixing it became a necessity rather than a thing to do because I wanted to. Heck, I haven't compiled a kernel in a long time, it just seems like too much effort on my day-to-day PC. One day I'll get round to finding a second-hand PC and rolling my own server for DNS, web, MTA, etc. Having a domain completely within my own control and providing all services for it was a real learning experience.

Work - I'm liking my job at the moment. I have almost pushed myself out of direct customer contact. There's still the occasional period where I have to do the calls but I guess it's a necessary evil for now, and there's nothing to keep you on your toes like having to figure out what a customer means versus what they are actually saying. I am almost exclusively "3rd line" now. I spent nearly 3 weeks exclusively looking into one problem that affected one customer - or at least at that time we thought it affected one customer. Seems to be many more. Anyhow, it turns out that we were breaking a message up and sending "\r\n" and "HELO" in two separate TCP packets for some reason. This was causing chaos between our kit and some mail servers. Tracking that down from the original "The email stops working after a while" report took several iterations and many dead ends.

I am quite pleased though, however also slightly disappointed. The job I went for a while back, that they went external for in the end? The manager for them told me the other day that based on the work he'd seen me doing in the past few months, he'd take me on without bothering to do the interview if he had the budget. I'm pleased because it's SO nice to know someone is noticing that I do try hard, but also miffed because I either didn't sell myself strongly enough at the previous opportunity, or he's admitting he was short sighted :)

Oh, tonight's tea:
  • Parsnips roast with crab-apple jelly
  • Sweet potato roast with chorizo and paprika
  • Boiled Anya potatoes
  • Steamed carrots with caraway

I think that'll do.
Mood:: 'pleased' pleased
location: CH3
Music:: Stephen Schwartz – Recurring Dream from Uncharted Territory
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posted by [personal profile] pmsumner at 11:44pm on 10/11/2009 under , , , ,
No idea when I last posted. Since then, I think I have:

Been to my parents. Jane and I spent the last weekend with my parents in Chippenham. It was nice. We went to Bath and revisited some old haunts, and remembered why I was actually fit then - I walked/cycled into town almost daily and believe me when I say we lived near the top of a very steep hill :) We went to Swindon, oooooo. Exciting stuff. Just nice to spend some time with the parents.

Uhhhm... relaxed. Since the last show finished I have been enjoying the time off. It's committee tomorrow but other than that, I've nothing to do, nowhere to be other than at home in the evenings. It's nice, yet feels oddly foreign.

Bought wine. Jane and I took full advantage of Sainsburys "Buy 6 bottles and get 25% off" offer, nom. Must drink it now.

Scanned a load of old photos that my parents got together from my granddad's. I would post a link but there's far too many pictures of naked children on there, you can guarantee someone would get the wrong idea :) Many of these photos are very old and the colours have faded terribly, leaving them red. Picasa's done an all-right job of fixing them up quickly, but I'm sure I could do better if I put some effort into it. Don't know how, though!

Ripped a whole pile of CDs. I've gone through my CDs and have decided to sell/give away a huge number of them. I've ripped these first, of course! Now need to make a decision on whether it's actually worthwhile selling them.
Music:: The Mark Steel Solution - Transport
Mood:: 'productive' productive
location: CH3
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posted by [personal profile] pmsumner at 10:01pm on 30/07/2009 under , , ,
I've arranged to possibly meet up at their new house in Chippenham on the weekend that we're down in Bristol. It would be good to see where they're going to be living, and where they're spending all their time at the moment, decorating and sorting.

I believe that they're leaving London for good on the 24th August, which I don't think I'll be able to take off as holiday as someone else is off on that day. I'm possibly planning to go down the weekend before and help out. Apparently they've already started packing, so there may not be much to do!

This weekend the Janey and I are off to a wedding of one of her friends in York. It's going to be a long day on Saturday, setting off from home fairly early and spending all day doing wedding celebration things. Then two weeks later, we're off to Bristol to spend a weekend there, with another wedding thrown in, this time at least it's only the reception, and we've managed to fit a weekend away around it. I'm looking forward to this weekend away quite a lot. We've not been anywhere for ages, and I spent 3yrs around Bath when I was 13-ish, so going back to the old stomping grounds will be an experience.

I'm sat here with a second glass of wine after having eaten my home made pizza, watching Babylon 5 series 1 again. Some of the acting in the first few episodes is truly ropey, but it rapidly improves and the storyline is top notch, mostly. Jane is at her parents', and I have no idea when or if she's coming back. I suspect she'll find me in bed, hogging the duvet.
Music:: Babylon 5
location: CH3
Mood:: 'full' full
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[LJ2ME] The bank holiday weekend

posted by [personal profile] pmsumner at 12:04am on 30/08/2006 under , , ,
Has involved lots of walking, lots of being herded around like sheep, lots of deep thumping bass, lots of dancers, costumes and trying not to get annoyed by whistles and horns while in bed.

Jane and i spent the weekend at my folks', and spent some time wandering about the notting hill carnival. Madness, complete and utter!

We had an amazing time, and i will write more later...

Device: SonyEricssonW800i/R1AA008
Mood:: sleepy
pmsumner: (Phil)
I have 2 spare tickets to go see a recording of "The Deadly Knowledge Show" hosted by Dave Berry on Friday the 25th August at 4:00pm. If anyone would like to come along with Jane and me, please email me at the address on my info, or text/call me on my mobile - available to those who know and to those who ask.

The recording's taking place at Whiteley's centre on Queensway, West London (W2 4SB).

At the moment we have no other firm plans for the weekend. Anyone in London or the southern area fancy doing anything on Sat, Sun or Mon of the bank holiday weekend? We'll have a car, so anything goes :)
Music:: Frasier - Paramount Comedy 2
Mood:: studious
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posted by [personal profile] pmsumner at 08:03pm on 25/01/2006 under , ,
To find a pleasant surprise, and a horrid surprise.

The horrid one first. My driving licence hath been returned. It has written in pen, 3 penalty points. Buggers. The only thing I am worried about, is that I can't remember which bank account I asked them to take payment from. Eek. I'm hoping that it was the one that had money in it still. I've checked my online banking and there's been no £60 payment taken... I'm guessing that they wouldn't have returned the licence without first of all taking payment, so fingers crossed it's all gone through already else I'm in trouble.

The pleasant one. I had a letter from my parents with money inside! WHOOO! They donated some money towards the cost of the car service. Awwww! *loves*

Right now, I need food. Then the gym. Yes.
Music:: Megastructures - National Geographic
Mood:: cold
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posted by [personal profile] pmsumner at 12:22am on 08/12/2005 under , , ,
Christmas period will look like this:
Evening of 22nd to 25th - Off work, whoohoo! Going to Jane's sometime.
25th - Work, late shift. Start at 1330, finish at 2200. Hope to have a picnic/party/pissup :)
26th - Work, 9-5. The off work until the 1st!!!!! Possibly see Ruth and John in the evening - whoohoo!
27th through 30th or 31st - London. Whilst the parents are away, Phils shall nick their house and have a great time.
31st, evening of - Northampton. New year's partay.
1st - Work. Late shift. Expect to see many painkillers being taken.
Music:: The World Tonight
Mood:: 'enthusiastic' enthusiastic
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posted by [personal profile] pmsumner at 11:32pm on 24/10/2005 under ,
Mum and her Sister, hobnobbing with the rich and famous...

[EDIT: Now working]

Pics linked to below, for the really lazy, be warned that they are HUGE )
Music:: Understanding Flight - Discovery
Mood:: 'awake' awake
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posted by [personal profile] pmsumner at 07:14pm on 01/06/2005 under , , , , ,
The past week has all been a bit of a blur really. For my own reference more than anything... my week has involved:

Sun 22nd - Travel to London
Mon 23rd - Visit City Airport ATC tower
Tue 24th - Travel back
Wed 25th - Interview in Manchester Airport Crowne Plaza
Thu 26th - Relax. Kindof. Do 3 MS jobs...
Fri 27th - Jane arrives for trip south
Sat 28th - Travel in nice quiet 1st class train to St Pancras, visit Casee and have fab time of it
Sun 29th - Visit DT in Kingston, meet Mike (Jane's friend) in Notting Hill
Mon 30th - Go to Greenwich, see Maritime Museum and Observatory
Tue 31st - Travel back

I've already written about the interview and the visit to London City airport, so the rest of the week...

We travelled to London 1st class - it was so worth it. It was only about 7 or 8 quid more than standard class and the whole thing is so much more pleasant. On the way down it was obviously "weekend first", so we didn't get the whole treatment, but on the way back we were served drinks and snacks in our seats, had china cups and everything!

The best bits are definitely the first class lounges though. Being able to sit away from the scum and have free papers and drinks :) Gotta love it.

We pretty much arrived at the parents, dumped stuff and left again. Headed straight out to Casee's. I didn't realise before we got there that she lived absolutely miles out - but who cares... it's an adventure ;) Spent the evening with her, catching up and stuff. Lovely time was had without any uncomfortable-ness which was fab as we haven't seen each other for about 3years! Bus back to Tottenham Court Road, tube home.

Sunday involved a visit from one of Jane's friends - he was nice enough :) Pint in the Elgin. Off to Waterloo to catch the train to Kingston. Decided to take the bus, which was a REALLY bad idea. Somewhere and for some reason there was a diversion in place, meaning instead of going along Bridge St to cross Westminster Bridge, we ended up going past Horseguards and along Victoria. Took us nearly an hour to get from Queensway to Waterloo. By the time we got to the station I was really fed up - but an evening filled with wine and BBQed steak cheered me up no end!!!

The way back we took it much easier, got off the train at Wimbledon and took the green line (District?) to Notting Hill Gate. Much easier :) Sleep.

Monday we slept in late, and went to be tourists. Took the DLR out to Greenwich and did touristy things. We were slightly confused by who the Maritime Museum is aiming at... seemed a little too "dull" for kids, but aiming too low for adults. Stayed for a fair while, the weather was gorgeous so walked for ages. In the evening I took Jane to Gourmet Burger Kitchen (yum) and went home. Spent the evening with the parents.

All in all, spent very little cash compared to what we could have done ;) Had a good time, nice to catch up with Casee and DT, both of whom I hadn't seen for a long long time.

Now, Jane and I are planning a trip to the north of Scotland! Discovered after looking seriously at prices, that it's actually a lot cheaper than we thought. For example, Leeds to Aberdeen for £36 return, each. Obviously booked ages in advance.