Thursday, July 30, 2009


Léon wanted 'pink flavour' Originally uploaded by PhylB

You may have been following my on-going 18 month spotty Léon saga. I am becoming ever more frustrated by the fact that we seem to be getting absolutely nowhere in the diagnosis of Léon's spot problem. It originally started with the one spot visible here on Léon's right cheek. It turned up around February 2008 and when it didn't go after six weeks I started to wonder what was up. He is a fairly sensitive wee soul and got eczema a little when he was two so it was probably eight weeks before I actually dragged him to the GP. You feel a bit neurotic using up their precious time with 'my toddler has a spot on his cheek'! After a couple of creams and no progress he referred him to Yorkhill and I expected a simple - Oh it's one of those - here's the cream we use for that responses but a doctor and then a consultant of some sort both sat scratching their heads and sent him home with various creams which did very little. Thereafter little spots started to appear on his scalp under his hair. You couldn't find them because Léon has the thickest hair on the planet. You'd only become aware of them when they's bleed when you'd comb his hair. Poor wee man. Frustrated I asked them to see him again and three months ago they concluded that a three month-long course of oral antibiotics as well as the cream may be called for. I am on the 2nd last bottle (of twelve) and see no improvement on the original spot and we now have (as you can see) another two or three on the other side of his face, one on his shoulder and one on his hand. I am meant to return with him in three weeks time and my heart sinks at the thought of them still looking completely dumbfounded while my poor baby scratches and makes his face bleed on a daily basis.


The UK still doesn't seem to be ready for people not changing their names when they get married. I know it is no longer 100% the case that the woman changes her name but it still seems to confuse. Often they give me the title Mrs with the Buchanan. But today we got a new one. Thomas took out his car insurance with Tesco to get a two car discount. They asked if anyone in his house had a Tesco policy and he of course said his wife, Phyllis Buchanan. He then gave them all his details, including spelling his name for them, but of course this morning an insurance policy has dropped through the letterbox for a Mr T Buchanan!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


I have been trying to capture Anna's eyes (unsuccessfully) for a few days now. I wish little kids would move less when you try to photograph them using nautral light indoors, without flash. Anyway, you can almost see it in this photo, though I will try again tomorrow. Anna's eyes are a bizarre mixture of my brown and Thomas's slate grey/blue. But what I have come to notice recently is that Anna's left eye is browner, especially below the pupil, and Anna's right eye is defintely much more grey/blue. Given both Marcel and Lots had blue eyes till two and green now, it will be interesting to see how this develops over the next six months... hopefuly I won't end up with a freaky one brown eye, one slate eye baby!

Monday, July 27, 2009


I have been desperate for one of these since they were released last year but obviously a four-seater car is not very sensible, I'd need five seats in a second car at the very least. That, at least, is how I have been convincing myself I don't want one.
Today I was reading the news online when this add popped up. A topless one would be fun! I played with the 'configure' button for a few minutes only to find one of the things I could add to my home-designed baby Fiat was a middle back seat belt!!! Wow... now I really do need to win the lotto because they are hideously overpriced, if cute as hell!

Sunday, July 26, 2009


Did I mention I got myself a little laptop table for my work? Working in the winter on my laptop hadn't been a problem but with it being such a nice summer, I was finding that sitting working in the afternoons wearing a light skirt, the air vents on the bottom of my laptop were burning my left leg! This little beanbag with a tray stuck on top has certainly done the trick. I love IKEA. They always think of everything!

Friday, July 24, 2009


Well, here's a sight we won't be seeing for the next month or two... Marcel won't be picking up Anna and walking about on holiday because he's managed to break his upper left arm.
Given every time my brother breaks an arm he ends up in sugery having the nuked arm bones joined together with metal plates and wires, my initial reaction when I received Marcel's text was to panic. None of my kids have ever broken anything you see. I tried every means to contact him for details - mobile, email, msn all to no avail and didn't get the full story till about 4 hours after the event. (My ex husband, who is looking after Marcel this week, now knows how I would like future emergencies to be treated... of course).
Anyway it turns out the child, who has recently developed a major interest in the opposite sex, was chasing a female friend in the park behind his father's house when he slipped and fell. The girl he was chasing obviously didn't realize the severity of the injury so laughed and now Marcel has a major dilemma on his plate... he only has eight texts left to last the month but he has worked out that if he was to use one to tell her he broke his arm, then maybe the sympathy it would generate would be worth the sacrifice! Give me strength!


Given cars in Denmark cost more than most people earn in a lifetime, Thomas has reached the ripe old age of thirty something without ever having owned a car. (This is possibly wise - look at what you buy if you can afford a car at 20!) Anyway, given the tank I drive with the 7 seats and 2.3l engine eats petrol and tyres like there's no tomorrow, we thought a sensible solution would be for Thomas to buy something with a small engine and tyres with only five seats that we could both use either on the school run when there are usually only four or five people in the car or also on the odd weekend when the big kids are at their dad's, economising further (and insuring my big blue tank will live longer in the process for trips where all of us need to go out together). Obviously given how many of us there are though, a five-seater small car would be much better than a four-seater small car... and here starts the rant. You go on all the well known Scottish car dealers' web pages and you can put in all sorts of parameters to help you find your new used car. It starts with basic stuff like car make, model, age, and price bracket. That then gets refined down into transmission type, mileage, age, engine size and finally if you want to specify further you can even give colour, number of doors, type of fuel, road tax pricing but none of the pages let you specify number of seats! I am fairly car nerdy but little cars aren't something I have had for 15 years (since the no-lapbelt-in-the-back law came in), so I didn't know for example that a Ford KA now only has four seats (it definitely had five when Derek owned one as a trainee lawyer 15 years ago), as does the Fiat panda (which also had five when I used to borrow mum's to drive to uni back when I was about 18). So I list the cars with small engines: you get Fiat Puntos, Seicentos, 500s, Daihatsu Cuores, Vauxhall Agilas and Corsas, Suzuki Altos, Renault Clios, Chevrolet Kaloses, Kia Picantos, Peugeot 206s, Nissan Micras, Ford Fiestas, Toyota Yarises, Citroen C2s and C3s, Skoda Fabias, Hyundai Getzes, VW Polos, Seat Ibizas etc etc. I want a button that lets me ignore any of the above without a 5th seat. I don't want to have to google every model to check. Why can't I specify the number of seats I'd like, especially given I can specify how many doors I want. Come on sort these frustrating car dealer pages before I give up and just stick with my tank, please!

Thursday, July 23, 2009


Swine flu information
Originally uploaded by andybullock77
Because I am pregnant at the moment, I am having to deal with NHS more than usual. As I blogged the other day, the NHS seems to be finding itself too strapped for cash to offer tests that were commonplace just two years ago. This money shortage got me to thinking about the way they spend their money.
Over the past couple of months I have been given three books, a dozen information leaflets and yesterday a hardbacked ringbinder containing over one hundred pages of thick card printed in high quality all by the NHS. I have spent my entire adult life working in publishing. I know printing costs inside out. This is a waste of huge amounts of cash. And it isn't really in keeping with the times. I know not everyone in Scotland owns a computer but given a good number of us do, would it make more sense for the NHS at my initial booking visit to ask me in person - would you like a note of the dedicated antenatal webpage where all this information can be found or would you like two carrier bags full of books and leaflets for you to take home, lose around your house or put in the recycling bag? And forgive me for sounding like a snob but in a significant number of cases if the answer is I don't have a computer at home, then the answer is also probably I am not going to read the over 600 pages of literature you have printed out for me, isn't it?
I for one would be much happier to have my free screening tests back in exchange for fewer leaflets dropping through my door in first class envelopes over the next five months.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


It is lovely to watch a helpless baby grow into a functional member of society. I don't just mean sitting, crawling, walking. I mean the way Anna has watched her parents and siblings and learnt slowly how to become a tiny individual. It started with the dishwasher. She takes dishes from it and puts them in the Welsh dresser, more often than not in the correct place. Then I noticed she watched me binning things and took to picking up rubbish and putting it in the kitchen bin for me. Now she is starting to realize the difference between the normal bin, the paper bin, the glass and tin bin and the plastic bin. Clever girl! She also notices when people go to the toilet and insists on following them in and handing them a toilet roll! That's not bad considering she doesn't use the toilet herself yet. She happily goes through the washing basket taking out items of clothing and telling me who each one belongs to and is generally correct - what powers of observation. Yesterday I had to laugh when I noticed she was copying my technique for mopping up a spillage from the floor using my foot to move the cloth because bending over isn't that easy when you are old and pregnant! It just looked so comical considering how close she is to the floor at less than a metre tall! Also as you can see from this photo, she can also rustle herself up a meal if lunch isn't forthcoming at a reasonable time! However, there are some things Anna does that remind me she still has a few steps to go on the evolutionary path before she reaches the status of acceptable member of the human race... At the weekend I had taken a broom and swept the dining room floor. I didn't have the brush and pan handy so had left the pile I had swept up beside the door. I left the room to find the small brush and came back to Anna happily sitting eating the furry green food items from amongst the dust, hair, sand, soil, and miscellaneous food items from the same pile! Yeuch Anna! Humans don't do that!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Labour has made such a difference to the maternity services in the NHS.
Around the turn of the century it had been suggested that all Scottish NHS maternity units should offer CUBS screening to anyone over the age of 37 as the combination of blood tests and measurements taken of the folds on the baby's neck gave a 90%+ accurate diagnosis of Down's syndrome without any invasive testing such as CVS or amnio. The programme was successful and I was offered this at 37 when I had Léon and 39 when I had Anna. It is obviously even more of a relief now that I am going to be 4 weeks off 42 when I have this baby. So I leaf through all the pamphlets sent to me with my booking visit appointment last month - CVS screening, amnio... Hmmm, no CUBS leaflet. I am of course invited in as I am soooooo old. I ask the head of foetal medicine, who I know by now, for my CUBS appointment and she replies sheepishly that they no longer offer that in Scotland on the NHS. She goes on to explain the people who had been trained to measure the neck folds are so skilled in ultrasound scanning that they have all been poached by the private sector and there are none left working for NHS Scotland. Of course I am completely at liberty to book in to a private clinic and have the test I had free 2 years ago done for a mere £230. These advances in service are stunning, no? I wonder if I'll still be able to have the baby on the NHS by January, or if there'll be a £230 tag on that too by then. Grrrrrr!

Monday, July 20, 2009


Isn't today's Google cute?
There are some events in history that we all feel bind us together in our humanity (through joy or through horror) such as the JFK assassination, the moon landing, the Berlin wall coming down or 911.
I, of course, have been teasing my toy boy all day given I actually sat and watched the moon landing live on TV and he wasn't even a glimmer in his parents' eye back then. Of course at 18 months (Anna's age) I don't remember a thing about it... but I don't have to tell him that, do I? ;-)


One of the problems with having an aversion to instruction manuals is the fact that that spills over into recipe usage. I wouldn't say I never use recipes (in the way I never read manuals even when the kitchen around me is flooding because I don't know how to work the new dishwasher or washing machine) but I do tend to improvise unless the Queen herself is dropping by for dinner. For that reason I have spent my whole adult life being disappointed by aubergines. I always thought something that shiny and photogenic should taste nice but no matter what sauce or pasta I threw them in, I sadly got out chewy, bath-sponge-consistency, tasteless lumps. Then I met Thomas who is the best cook I know but who uses a recipe for everything (including how to butter a piece of bread). He has more cookbooks than most people have books... in fact than many libraries have books but he knows about drawing the water from aubergines using salt water and frying them till they are delicious both in flavour and texture. Aubergines have now jumped from around the bottom of my preferred veg list to near top. Hooray!

Friday, July 17, 2009


Maybe I'm getting to be grumpy and middle-aged but I just can't abide kids' telly presenters.
Normally they aren't a race I encounter. Marcel is on holiday this week. Given he's our resident TV addict, the TV usually fluctuates between episodes of The Bill and the Chart Show, so no need to have them in you face there.
Poor Bits has been a tad lonely with her siblings off on holiday with their dad so I've turned on cbeebies occasionally. It's torture - by half an hour in I want to strangle these overenthusiastic, leering loonies with their hair in bunches or their fixed grins. I'm surprised they don't scare little kids with their love of everything. They certainly aren't preparing the poor buggers for the reality of adults on the outside world who won't spend hours enthusing about some squiggle they've done or some noise they've made. Life really isn't that much fun! They should all be banished to some faraway island and real adults could be put in charge of kids' entertainment - I think that'd be much less stressful to watch!

Thursday, July 16, 2009


Being a big flickrer, I have been noticing and admiring HDR photography all over the place for about a year now. The only thing I didn't know was how to do it! I googled it and found all sorts of obscure references to super-imposing photos taken up to 4 stops apart and manipulating them computationally, or conversely manipulating single shots saved as huge raw files rather than the usual jpeg format. Thomas downloaded the software and I was sent into the garden to do an experimental series of shots. Of course, it was pouring with rain all day and we couldn't find the tripod so I wandered around a soggy garden, dragging the green-waste bin as a prop, searching for a break in the clouds. I guess the subject matter didn't matter terribly for the first attempt - we were just trying the software. Now we have achieved the look we can now go on a proper shoot at the weekend. Obviously where the three shot super-imposition method will be great for land or cityscapes, it can't even begin to be considered for an HDR shot of Anna or Léon - they don't even stay still when asleep, so once we've got to grips with super-imposing, we'll try a raw shot or two on the babies in a few weeks time! Can't wait!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


 a wee red car Originally uploaded by PhylB
I know I have ranted about it before but it just baffles me why the people in charge on NHS car parks are so blinkered. There are two solutions - the black one and the white one. The default is black, if that doesn't work, they try white, if people get angry, they revert to black... NO!!!! It started up at Yorkhill where for years you couldn't get parked if you needed to take your kid to casualty or if you were in labour. The car park was one of the only free ones in the West End, you see, so was used by shoppers, workers and everyone and his dog. So they introduced parking charges when Labour were in power which caused anger meltdown as people objected to parking tickets received when their parking ticket ran out because their NHS appointment was delayed. People objected to fines because they couldn't psychically work out how many hours to put on the meter when going in to have a baby. So when the SNP came to power the first thing they did was to abolish Labour's parking charges - and three guesses what??? Now you can't get parked when you go for an ante-natal appointment - d'oh! What is so hard about coming up with another suggestion? There are many. They employ a wee man to operate the gate who asks to see your appointment card, for example (or your kid in the back seat with the broken arm, split head?) Not rocket science. Maybe they don't want the expense of an employee. How about my idea number two - when I joined the National Trust they gave me a sticker to display on my vehicle allowing me to park for free in their car parks. Maybe when I get my first scan at the maternity, they could send a car sticker valid until my due date plus ten days? There must be countless ways to keep the NHS parking free and more or less restrict it to those they actually want to be parking there, surely.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


 Metz Originally uploaded by PhylB
Years ago in Metz I saw this little car sailing down the river. When it got to the edge, it simply drove out and parked in an ordinary car park. For all the years I lived on the South side of Glasgow and sat in a traffic jam to cross the river to the North side every morning at rush hour I often wondered where you could buy one!

Monday, July 13, 2009


Bahdubaday seems to be the word Anna has decided to use to mean TV (of course?!)
Granted, it doesn't sound much like TV or telly but we've got to the bottom of it now.
Léon doesn't really watch much TV, but when he is tired or if he wakens up too early to be sociable, he often creeps downstairs and asks if he can watch an episode of Balamory. Because Anna hears Pudge asking to watch Balamory, as opposed to asking to watch TV, Anna thinks that Balamory is the word for TV. And of course Bahdubaday is her attempt at Balamory. So when she asks for Bahdubaday, she may indeed want to watch Balamory, but she may also want you to put on her Danish DVD of Kaj and Andrea. It's quite simple really...
I'm away to write an English-Baby, Baby-English bilingual dictionary now!


Last spring I suggested a day trip to Largs because it was a nice day. I imagined a nice drive, a stroll along the beach and an ice cream at Nardini's. Much to my horror on arrival I found Nardini's derelict with a sign advertising luxury flats attached to the building. I bored Thomas and the kids with the story of my first ever flavoured ice cream on a trip to Nardini's circa 1972. I told of how my parents had bought me a strawberry cone and I had stared at its pinkness in wonder having only ever seen vanilla, or 'plain' ice cream as we called it, in my life before then. My kids of course assumed, as always, that I was some sort of prehistoric fossil from an era of black and white tellies.
We returned home and I sadly uploaded my last photos of Nardini's, or so I thought.
This week I was on facebook when I noticed a friend, who lives in Canada, had set his current status to 'going to Largs for ice-cream from Nardini's'. Could it be true? Several friends queried its existence there and then and the reply popped up 'Nardini's is very there - all redone and reopened.' Music to my ears! Less than twenty-four hours later with Thomas and all 4.3 kids packed into the car we drove down to Largs to find it was indeed 'de retour'.

The ice creams on display made your mouth water. The flavours and presentation were superb and for someone who tends only to indulge in such extravagances in the likes of Nice or Paris, the Scottish prices were even better!
I had caramel shortcake and honeycomb, Thomas had tablet, raspberry cranachan and one of their many chocolates, Anna had banoffee pie, Lots had After Eights, Irn Bru and caramel shortcake, Marcel had another chocolate with tablet and caramel shortcake and for my Pudgeman - what could we buy him at nearly 4? A large cone with Nardini's own fresh strawberry ice cream of course!
Hopefully one day he'll take his own kids to Nardini's and tell them all about the day when he was nearly 4 when Thomas and Mum bought him a lovely strawberry ice!

Sunday, July 12, 2009


My facebook buddies will have seen that things were starting to fall apart around us last week. In no particular order: the handle snapped off the freezer (a new one is £15 minus P&P), the kitchen radio stopped working, the dishwasher lost its ability to clean dishes, my touchpad scroller on my computer died and when I tried downloading a fix for that it killed off the 'Compare and Merge' programme I use for much of my work, the drain outside the kitchen window blocked and the brush Thomas bought to clean it got stuck down the hole leaving us with no alternative but to remove the concrete, the monblocking and the top half of the drain from under the ground (so we now have out the brush but the drain is still blocked and stinking), Charlotte's computer then broke half way through a system update (but fortunately she's on holiday with her Dad this week so she doesn't know yet!), the zip snapped on the armchair cushion, the zip also snapped on my jacket last night, a warning light started beeping and flashing in my car telling me something wasn't working but I can't find it in the handbook so will need to go have that checked at the garage, and the hot water broke down (but I managed to find the valve to repressurize the central heating system)... I think that was all! It hasn't been the best of week's - has it?


Tories have had a habit over the years of annoying me but this time they really are making me angry. I've just been reading their out-of-touch-with-reality ideas on how divorce actually works in this country - I guess they take the Madonnas of the world to be the norm.
So here's how it actually works for any Tories who happen to be reading.
When I went to my lawyer in 2006, I was told I could technically sue for divorce instantly on the grounds of unreasonable behaviour - ie my husband's excess working, spending and the likes. Of course proving this in court would be costly so I was advised not to go down this road. Unfortunately, despite my living with another man, only my husband was allowed to sue on the grounds of adultery. I was more than happy for him to do that but he didn't think that was a good idea financially. So we were left with the option of trying to get a divorce a year later, that either of us could contest or waiting fully two years as the rules state here in Scotland (I believe it is still five in England) for an incontestable one. After the year was up, I again tried to convince my lawyer that I wanted to get a divorce but she advised me (kindly) that although I could go ahead, if he contested any part of the settlement, custody etc we'd need to go to court which would likely take my divorce over the £10k mark because I was not eligible for legal aid. Of course, not being Madonna, I couldn't risk that so I was stuck married to someone I didn't love, and who I didn't even see, while living with and having a child with my current partner, who I wanted to marry but wasn't allowed to. Is that what the Tory think-tank wants? They may be suggesting a 3 month cool-off but the reality is that unless you can afford the 5 figure court divorce, the only people who can go ahead before the period where it can be contested has past are couples who get on well enough to agree on a divorce, and I imagine there are very few of those.
In the nearly three years it took me to get divorced I had bought a house with and had a child with another man. I was stressed beyond belief at a legal system that was telling me staying married to someone I now barely knew instead of being married to the man who loved me was better for me and my kids. Five years would have seen a nervous breakdown I imagine, so why are these idiots pouring money into ideas of irrelevant three month cool-off periods that only the mega-rich need to fight?

Saturday, July 11, 2009


Why is Charlotte obsessed with silly-looking hats?! Is it simply to annoy me when I take out my camera or does she actually think there's something trendy or cool about wearing hats that are three sizes too big that hide her beautiful hair? Maybe it is because they are the antithesis of feminine and we all know how she loves to wind me up on that front! Well she's away on holiday now with her dad so I might take the opportunity to 'tidy up' her hats and lose a few ;-)

Friday, July 10, 2009


For the last few weeks I have seriously been contemplating shaving Anna's head completely because her 'morning hair' is just so unmanageable. Obviously we'd run into the problem then that many people wouldn't be able to tell her and Thomas apart, so that wouldn't be the ideal solution! Fortunately, I have discovered a spray aimed at taming afro hair which does the trick, so the shearing is off for now... I just wonder where she inherited this hairdo?!


I know Anna was born in a big hurry back in 2007 and probably never left my side for the 24 or so hours I was in hospital. I know too that she looks like half my family but I am beginning to have severe doubts she is my child... Could Thomas have been unfaithful? ;-) On Monday night Thomas cut her a slice of my beloved chocolate and vanilla cheesecake and offered her it. She played around with it for a bit not really interested and then asked for a Farley's rusk instead! Sacrilege!

Thursday, July 09, 2009


 A Scottish grasshopper Originally uploaded by PhylB
Sitting in my garden yesterday in Glasgow I was surprised to hear a sound I more often associate with gardens around Cassis or Antibes. I have only twice heard the sound of a grasshopper in Scotland in my life (once last summer, once yesterday). I looked around to see if the sound was coming from the grass and was even more shocked to see the little lost French bug sitting on the outside window ledge of my coffee room. I was scared to frighten it so shouted to Charlotte to rush in and throw me out the camera. It sat and waited on me taking its photo, instead of jumping off and hiding. And I was more than pleased with the clarity of the result!


What are they gibbering about? Here is a draft proposal for a very radical new way to approach higher education.... eh???? Except it is the system I went through uni with in the late 80s!!! Good old Maggie phased out students grants in my 2nd year at Glasgow uni and a student loan was a new-age idea that hadn't yet been invented. My God - who would think of lending students real money? - they'd just drink it away! We we lucky if they let us have a current account and cheque book back then! We had no fees to pay but no loans, no grants and no bursaries. We had to live at home if possible because paying for accommodation was more or less impossible unless your family was well off and when you had to live abroad for several terms you simply had to work to pay your accommodation. You left uni with a degree and no debt though you may have spent many evenings on beans on toast or sleeping on a friend's floor for want of some money. So where's the 'radical'?

Wednesday, July 08, 2009


I don't really understand car insurance. I added Thomas to my car insurance six months ago. Recently it was due for renewal and the quote came in asking for about £10 more a month than I am currently paying. I phoned and told them where to stuff their insurance and of course, with the current business climate being what it is, they decided to try everything to keep my custom. They ran through my details to see if there was anything they could do to bring down my premium. Had I changed where I park overnight? - well no, my garage is still too full to fit it in. Had I changed my annual mileage? Nope again. Did I still want my boyfriend on my policy? Well yes, but we got married so now he's my husband but yes I still want him on and yes he is still the same person... oh well if you got married, that makes all the difference - the policy instantly dropped by £13 a month and came in cheaper than competitors... but why??? He is still the same person, living at the same address and driving the same car in the same manner. How did marrying me instantly drop 20% of my car insurance quote? Is it really that much safer to drive while wearing a platinum ring on one finger maybe? Is he safer now because he now has his mind on the road and not on whether or not I'll marry him??? It truly is bizarre.

Sunday, July 05, 2009


 10 oct day2 3 Originally uploaded by PhylB
When I had Marcel and Lots I lived in the West End which meant my local maternity hospital was the Queen Mother's maternity in Yorkhill. I got to know the staff and helped out with the Breast Feeding workshops and knew my way around so it was only natural that I transferred there for both Léon and Anna despite no longer living in the catchment... that and my doc's quote that he wouldn't book his dog into the Southern, which was the alternative! As you may have seen on Facebook last week, I announced that Thomas and I have been crazy enough to order baby number 5! On finding out I was pregnant, my first reaction (well after realizing that being 4 weeks pregnant 10 days after your husband tries opening his own business in the middle of a dire recession isn't maybe the best timing) was to wonder when the QMH closes for good as I knew it was being shut down. No one seemed to know for sure so my doctor sent in a booking request on the off chance and I went in last Wednesday to find out that it closes on January 12 2010. Just as well the scan gave me a due date of January 9 2010 then, no? I wonder if there will be any staff (or power) left when I go in to have number 5?!


...if you are looking for a kitchen appliance. Normally I would recommend our Hotpoint fridge or freezer to anyone. They are a good size and reliable, however they have one drawback that is starting to be quite costly so I thought I'd warn potential buyers off. They both come with the same handle in plastic attached to the edge of the doors. Because of the force needed to break the vacuum seal on the appliances, the handles snap fairly easily. Replacement handles cost an outrageous £14 (excluding p&p) which is a bit OTT given you need to replace them every 9 months.

Friday, July 03, 2009


 Green girl Originally uploaded by PhylB
Readers of Thomas's blog will know he has a wee bit of a thing about metric time. Sure, it'd be easier to count and calculate but if we can't even get the UK to adopt easy-peasy kilos and kilometres then metric time is just too far out for us I'm afraid. Interestingly though, I was driving somewhere with Charlotte last week with her sitting beside me in the front of the car. She looked at the dashboard where my clock read 15-30. She looked surprised and exclaimed something about not realizing it was already 5-30, then correcting herself she said, Oh it's only 3-30, isn't it? What we really need is time to be counted in tens mum, that'd be much more sensible! So independently of Thomas's wacko ideas, the youth of today, or the weirdo nerd youth at least, is following exactly the same thought patterns. Maybe metric time will catch on despite my doubts.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009


A new dilemma of this recession struck me the other day.
The last (tiny by comparison) recession took place at the end of the 80s and wasn't accompanied by the same credit crunch. Back in the 80s the student grant system had just been phased out and although loans were coming in, tuition fees weren't. Student life was poor but generally didn't leave you up to your eyeballs in debt.
In the last few years England has introduced student tuition fees. Scotland hasn't yet but students still need loans and proper summer jobs to make ends meet. Of course in a credit crunch with graduate jobs at the end of degrees much less guaranteed than before, students are finding credit much harder to come by. For that reason they are even more desperately in need a summer job than usual if they are to contemplate paying next term's fees. But of course companies are in such dire straits, they can't even pay their employees. Bucketloads of those are being made redundant so there won't be many advertising for casual summer workers, will there?
Are we about to see students dropping out en masse? I wonder if they will appear in the unemployed statistics if they do, or if, like school leavers, they will be hidden in some government-created grey area.
And of course once students stop being able to pay their fees, I guess unis will stop being able to pay their staff... The word snowball springs to mind, despite the current heatwave.