Saturday, October 27, 2007

Safety First

"Slow down every time you see a white car — that's the safe message," says Houston Police Department Chief, Harold Hurtt.

As Nikki pointed out this morning while reading the paper over breakfast, surely the safe message, Chief Hurtt, would be "Don't exceed the speed limit."

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Missed It!

There was some kind of mass brawl in Rice Village last night while Nikki and I were at The Ginger Man. Annoyingly, no-one came running in to shout "Fight" when it broke out, so we had no idea until it was all over. Very disappointing. The cops turned out in force at least, so someone probably had a bad night.

On a more important note, I tried the coffee porter. Didn't really taste of coffee, but it was a pretty good porter.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Tim Versus The Parsley

There was logic in our decision to buy a parsley plant for the living room. Tim likes nibbling on plants, he likes parsley, best of both worlds. He could have a little nibble on the parsley plant, then wander off under the chair for a sleep. Right?


What Tim actually did, was climb into the pot, sit on the bit that wasn't occupied by parsley and eat almost the entire plant in one go. Then, quite proud of himself, he posed for this picture.

Next night he went back and finished off those little stalks you can see sticking up. Probably couldn't believe he missed them.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Another Tough Ride

Nikki and I went cycling again yesterday. We went a little further afield this time as it was a lovely day. We made it to Cafe Brazil where we sat outside for a bit as I ate my pizza and Nikki had her Greek salad, then we cycled directly home. Well, directly, apart from being unable to avoid the siren call of The Ginger Man, where we refueled with a couple of pints of delicious Full Moon Pale Rye Ale.

Friday, October 12, 2007


When Bruno asked us to host his leaving party in our back garden we knew we'd have to do a little bit of landscaping to accommodate his high standards. Unfortunately it rained for most of the day of his party and everyone, except four idiots who were playing volleyball in the pool, spent most of the party inside. Anyway, here's the new improved pool area:

The Oleanders in front of the pool equipment should grow in, also Nikki has planted a bunch of winter veg to the left of them, so it won't look as bare in a few months. The biggest difference is that we took down the trellis, which looked kind of ugly anyway.
Round the side of the house we had a big overgrown mess that was impossible to mow and turned into a mudbath every time it rained. Thankfully, that's no longer a problem.

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Sunday, October 7, 2007


You ain't seen me, right?

Friday, October 5, 2007

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

What on earth were we thinking?

Meet Tim. Or rather, check out the extension to his castle Tim has built out of newspaper because he prefers a bit more darkness than our living room provides. Bruno is moving on and Tim needed a new home. Before I could say "Good luck with that", Nikki had volunteered, no demanded, to take him. Our grocery bill doubled last week and there's more lettuce and spinach in the fridge than beer...this is a worrying trend.

Monday, October 1, 2007

The Return

I'm back. Actually I've been back 9 days. I have just neglected to blog. There's so much to talk about too, but let's start at the start. The trip back was the usual chaos: Sitting next to selfish pigs; queuing for hours at security; waiting in vain for my didn't bother me that much, except for the selfish pig. He was a moron. It's a simple rule: The unfortunate sap in the middle seat gets as much of the armrest as he needs. No arguments, definitely don't spread out to take the whole armrest in a posture that is clearly uncomfortable for you, and if you do, don't act all offended when I whack you, repeatedly, with my elbow in an attempt to drink my tea.

Anyway, the moron isn't the point of this post, the point is that my trip back was fun and it was fun because I decided it would be. In London there was a girl whose job it was to tell people the policy about only taking one bag through security and onto the plane. This task fell to the same girl on both my outbound and return legs, so I presume she does this every day. People would walk up with two bags, she'd say "You can only have one, and it has to fit in that space over there" and everyone would say "but they let me take two out of Houston (or Muscat or Dubai)", and she'd have to say "well, you can't take two through London". A stupid rule perhaps, but she didn't make it up and she's not responsible for it not being communicated to the airlines in Houston (or Muscat or Dubai), who should warn their passengers about it when they still have the rest of their luggage to dump stuff in and they're not tired and grumpy from a long flight. I carry one bag, a small rucksack, so I didn't have a problem here and I sailed straight through with a smile, but seeing the amount of crap this girl had to take off almost every other passenger that came through I decided that, since I was in a good mood, I would spread it around as much as I could to the people who have to deal with us traveling grumps. Next up was the metal detector / x-ray line, so I was ready, shoes off, laptop out, phone and coins in hand when I got there and I walked through without a beep, only to pulled aside for a second check. Okay. The guy starts to pat me down and runs his hands under my armpits, which are not as clean as they were 15 hours ago when I last showered. "Sorry about those", I say.
"Don't worry", he laughs, "You're my first of the day".
His colleague laughed as well and said "You're nothing compared to some we see".
Two days made slightly brighter for the price of one joke about my personal hygiene. Not bad.

The people in the duty free shop were relentlessly cheery anyway, and didn't need any help from me, so next up was the security guard at the gate. He looked like he would be a bit difficult to force a smile out of, but looking at my passport he opened with "I recognize that place of birth".
"Really?" I said, "Stornoway? From where?"
"It's always the last place on the weather reports"
"Yeah, and I bet it's always forecasting torrential rain too"
"Seems like it," he said with a chuckle, "have a good trip sir"

The cabin crew on the plane were pretty happy too, or at least pretending to be, but I still raised a laugh by proving myself to be a complete idiot by ordering a cup of tea and saying yes to milk and sugar even though I drink it black.
"I said yes to milk and sugar, didn't I?"
"I'm a moron, could I have a cup of black tea, no sugar. Maybe I should switch to coffee and try to wake up a bit?"

A woman traveling on her own with a toddler, a big bag and a pushchair tested my limits by opting to get on the escalator to baggage claim behind me instead of using the lifts three feet away. The toddler was out of the loaded down chair, which the mother was having trouble controlling and the kids' bravery deserted her a little bit as she started to retreat from the moving stairs and her already descending mother. As the mother looked helpless, I grabbed the chair from the front, but before she moved to rescue her kid, she took a moment to yell "grab it from behind!" at me. Easier said than done when it's taking up almost the entire escalator, so I didn't bother. "Get behind it", she shouted again, in case I was one of them foreigns who didn't understand English unless it was delivered at high decibels. As I was already at the bottom of the escalator and was now deftly maneuvering the stupid thing out of the way and struggling mightily to maintain my good mood, I revised my decision to offer a piece of my mind and instead smiled and said "don't worry, I'm stronger than I look". She smiled back and offered a mild apology, which I waved away.

The last test was the baggage claim office, where a rant was already in progress by the time I arrived and, I found out later, had been going on for 45 minutes. The man had travelled this airline "a lot, especially recently" and could not believe that "they" had lost his bag. Except they hadn't. Like mine, it had simply not made the short connection from Dubai to London and would follow tomorrow, or the next day. The ranting man, like me, lived in Houston and, I would hope, did not have all his clothes in the suitcase. His dirty underwear turning up in two days should not, you would think, have put him in the frame of mind where the most sensible thing to do was shout at a woman who had not and never would tag, handle or even see his luggage, but whose job it was to make sure he did get it at some point. As he finally gave up and stormed off, with the copy of the airlines luggage compensation policy that he had demanded, I approached the counter and asked "Is anyone who comes in here ever having a good day?" This raised my last laugh of the trip from one of the poor sods who have to put up with thousands of grumpy people being herded through their workplace every day.

I have decided that, though I may not always manage to maintain it, traveling with a cheery disposition is going to be my default approach from now on. I recommend you try it.