Monday, 30 September 2013

A view to a kill

You had to be there, you really should have been there. I was in tears - quite literally.

Driving along, me and Julie were chatting away when we noticed a small heap in the road.

The heap, to me, was quite obviously a bird. Julie, however, was quite adamant that it had been a hedgehog before failing at Frogger. Now, I will admit that the sad, small pile had seen better days, but I'm pretty sure I recognise feathers when I see them.

You would not believe how long we argued about this. Seriously.
The thing was, Julie was using hand and head movements and truly bizarre sound effects to get across just how the roadkill looked like a deceased hedgehog.

As I said, I was literally in tears of laughter, which was not a good thing, seeing as how I was the one driving... Fortunately, we had come to a halt in traffic, which gave me a chance to wipe my eyes and to once again challenge Julie's notion. She wasn't having any of it though. She still reckoned she was right...

Friday, 27 September 2013

Nothing to sniff at.

Yesterday evening, me and Julie decided to do something we haven't had the time or energy to do for a long time - go out for a drive in the evening. What? Did you think I was going to say something else?

We got ourselves a bite to eat at a chippy and then drove to a nice viewpoint in Bexhill, listening to a little Americana on the radio. Nice as the view was though, the nights are now drawing in and there's not an awful lot to look at once the sun has gone down completely.

Hence the drive.

We stuck to the main roads, because small country roads in the dark can be pretty nerve-wracking to drive along. Yes, you can see traffic a little easier, because they should have their headlights on. What worries me is that pedestrians are another matter - and then there are the idiot cyclists who insist on wearing dark clothes...

One road, however, was both a large road and in the countryside. And it appeared that agricultural things had been occurring - if the smell was anything to go by. It was definitely smelling a tad rural. Julie was having trouble trying to place a name on the smell, though...

There wasn't a lot I could say to that, so I shall leave it to this cow's expression.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Clop 'n' drop

You may have gathered from previous posts that Julie and myself are rather sentimental when it comes to animals. Usually mammalian creatures, but there you go. In fact we are quite unabashed in our child-like delight in the cute and the fuzzy. Julie has often said of me that if she can't find where I am in a crowd, then all she needs to do is look for the nearest dog.

And she's right.


See? I told you we were child-like. Also possibly childish.

If we're out for a drive though, Julie will call out the various farm animals she happens to spot. Sometimes she gets it wrong, which is funny, sometimes, she will claim they're a different beast, posing incognito. However, considering the amount of stables and country parks around here, it's no surprise that there will be a lot of horses.

Keep your racehorses. THAT'S a beautiful beast. However, when Julie spots a horse, her reaction is usually to paraphrase a child's ditty...


Monday, 23 September 2013

Daylight rubbery

Time for a little geekery. I am a relatively recent convert to the card game known as Magic; The Gathering.

I won't go into details, just to say that you have to beat opponents using cards featuring fantasy creatures, spells and enchantments. It can be quite competitive, and there are usually a lot of events going on each month. Currently, the Magic community is gearing up for the release of a new set of cards (Theros), one based around the ideas of Greek mythology.

It's been pretty hectic, as there have been a couple of pre-release events over this weekend just gone. In these, we got to see the cards and play with them for the first time in a couple of organised tournaments.

On the Saturday, I played spectacularly badly and wound up last of about thirty people - but at least I had fun. Yesterday was a tad different. For one thing, we were playing in teams of two. For another, me and my teammate actually had the temerity to place second.


Back to the Saturday, though. One player, who was there for both days, was toting around a foot-tall statuette of some Greek-style chappie, all in the name of a little extra luck.* For one match, he was placed against a young lady. Sixteen years of age, looks a bit older and swears like a trooper. Oh, and you can hear her from the other side of a crowded room, which means that little snippets tend to intrude on your thoughts.

...I don't want to know....


* A pity, then that his team was one of the ones we beat yesterday.... hehehehe...

Friday, 20 September 2013

Imagine that!

Hythe is a small town on the south coast of Kent in England. It's had quite a history, especially since it shares a proximity to mainland Europe with its more famous neighbour, Dover. However, for the purpose of our tale today, it is simply a nice place to visit, with a long seafront promenade. You can park next to the promenade and then just stroll along.

Just one thing needs to be noted, though. You see that low wall separating the road and the promenade? Well, there aren't all that many gaps to allow you through. Yes, there is a whacking great gap in the photo above, but believe me when I say that is a rarity.

When Julie and me arrived, I happened to park in a stretch that seemed to be slap-bang in the middle of a long walled section. Time to clamber over, then.

At this point, it should be noted that neither of us can be classed as 'tall'. I am 5'5", and Julie is a tad shorter. While the wall is fairly low, it also has a fair width on it, enough that you can't simply step over it. Well, we can't anyhow.

I've done a lot of clambering for one reason or another in my time, so I managed it easily enough - if not exactly gracefully. Just as I was straightening up, I heard a commotion and a muffled curse from behind me. I turned and found that my wife had gone for the 'straddle' option. Unfortunately, the wall was a little wider than she had allowed for and had proved to be a tad uncomfortable.

Or, as Julie put it...


Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Cartoon cats ahoy!

These guys are the brainchild of one of my friends. I call him Mikey, but he's also known as The Arty One. He's just started off a cartoon blog featuring these cats, based on a lifetime of observing their real-life counterparts. Only the introduction is up at the moment, but why not drop along all the same?

Stan and Tim's Imaginative Adventures

Whynot wotnot?

I try to get them all, I really do. Unfortunately, there are some times when circumstances prevent me from doing so. Most often, this is when I am driving, for obvious reasons. Even then, I can sometimes somehow persuade Julie to scribble down a hasty note.

Similarly, we will be in public situations where my whipping out a notepad would be either inadvisable, impolite or downright impossible.* Such situations include; at the counter in a bank, drenched in a downpour, in the front row of a stand-up comedy show... you get the idea.

However, the most common cause for my failure to document each and every Gem is this; when Julie is in full-on Gem Mode (and yes, it does deserve the capitalisation), I can't even mentally process what is being said, let alone jot anything down.**

On more than one occasion, I have been brain-crashed by a Gem and my speech centres have similarly been affected. When that happens, all I can do is splutter out a disbelieving, "...WHAT?"

It seems I respond in such a manner quite frequently. Frequently enough for Julie to Gem right back at me.

...of course it is, silly me.
I think I'll go and have a lie down...

* Is it me, or am I writing very alliteratively today?
** Now, imagine how I feel when I'm driving around an unfamiliar town centre, trying to cope with Julie in Gem Mode...

Monday, 16 September 2013

B&Q boo-boo

Well, we've had a pleasant weekend - how about you?

On Saturday, me and Julie went to a place called Michelham Priory. It's a wonderful place, full of history, and is reputed to be the most haunted place in Sussex - should you believe in the supernatural. There is plenty to see & do at any time, but they also host a lot of special events - such as the Medieval weekend which we enjoyed. Wonderfully, the entry price is reasonable and isn't jacked up when a special event takes place. Visit the Sussex Past page to see more.

In keeping with the desire to show living history, the priory grounds also has a working forge, worked and maintained by a skilled blacksmith.

I have to admit, I loved the bellows.
When we arrived, the smith was fashioning a number of hooks for one of the event participants. The lady in question was hanging around, completely at ease in her heavy gown. As we watched, I felt myself almost lulled by the rhythmic tempo of the smith's hammer strikes. In addition, the sound changed, according to which part of the steel he was hitting, and where upon the anvil he had placed it.

After about five minutes, this competent worker had nonchalantly turned out a strong and serviceable hook.

The hook is made to rest over a wooden beam.
Unfortunately, just as the crowd were admiring the smith's handiwork, Julie decided to pipe up...

Time to move on, methinks...

Friday, 13 September 2013

Distinctly different

I'm sat here, typing this out and a neighbour - a few houses away, actually - is noodling on his guitar. I would say 'playing', but it's jazz. In other words, a random mess.

I don't like jazz. Can you tell?

This is not to say, however, that my neighbour is a poor guitarist. Far from it. We have heard some lovely music, usually blues-based, coming from his house. Normally,  it's just noodling though. Practice.

One day, some time ago, we were sat in our front room, reading quietly. After a while, I realised I could hear our neighbour playing his guitar. Only just, though. He must have had his windows closed - or the breeze was blowing the wrong way, carrying the majority of the sound with it. As I said, it was a very soft noise, far from intrusive. In fact, when I commented to Julie that our neighbour had begun his guitar practice, she was surprised. In fact, even when I drew her attention to it, it still wasn't registering.

Well, I lost that one. Not only was I confusing, Julie also managed to fit in a truly apposite pun. In the meantime, perhaps Julie could use these to boost her hearing...

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Washed up & wrangling

We're back folks! Thanks for being patient while our technical difficulties were being sorted out.


It has been a fairly pleasant summer this year and this means that everyone and his dog - usually literally - has decided at one point or another to hit the coast for a few days. Nevertheless, Julie and myself have had the inclination to have a wander along the promenade and enjoy the sights - ie, people watching.

That said, since the weather has been kind this year, we have had the chance to enjoy some lovely plants and flowers along the pathways. In particular, Eastbourne is famed for its 'carpet gardens' (so called, because the precise layout of the plants and flowers are reminiscent of the geometrically-patterned rugs of Persian fame).

However, for the purposes of this Gem, we are more concerned with the border & rockery plants. Lots of exotic-looking blooms, scrubby, tenacious plants - and various species of shrubbery.*

In places, these shrubs can be fairly dense, which is perfect for the flocks of smaller birds. They  get somewhere to roost and hide from the aggressive gulls - and it usually means they can dash out, grab a morsel to eat and dash back in again.

Unfortunately, space is something of a premium, so there tends to be a large amount of bickering coming from the shrubbery.*

Interesting - those shrubs must be more spacious than I first thought...