Meaning Of Loaf

       Taking the easy road through life

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas To All!

Not sure if it's dedication or madness that I'm writing a post on Christmas day, but it's jut a short one, and I was determined to get this one out there!

Wishing everyone on the blogroll, and anyone who has ever passed by this little blog, a very merry Christmas, and in case I don't drag myself away from the sherry and mince pies again before the new year, a Happy New Year to you all as well. And even if you're not celebrating Christmas, for religious reasons or other, sit back and enjoy the time off anyhow.

And thank you to everyone who has read my random writings over these initial 7 months (has is really been that long?!), because if it wasn't for all the readers, comments and friends I've made in that time, I probably would have given up long ago!

I'm off up to Oxford to see the family now, so we can open presents, eat our own bodyweight in Christmas dinner (rumor is we're having duck this year), then fall asleep in front of the TV this afternoon. Perfect.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

How do you prepare for hell?

Tomorrow is Friday! The last working day before Christmas!!!

Normally, this would be a day of great celebration, but for me, it also holds a certain dread for a couple of reasons:

The fog. Not sure how far the news of this has spread, but across the UK, and very much around London, we're having the heaviest and most persistent fog we've had in ages, which has caused huge delays at Heathrow and caused the cancellation of many flights, and has also been causing chaos on the roads. Since I work just a stones throw from Heathrow, I get to experience not only the drive through thick fog, but also the congestion surrounding Heathrow as the delays pile up. This evening, visibility on the back roads was down to 10ft! It might look nice, but doesn't make for fun driving.

The kids. Because it's the last Friday before Christmas, all the parents in the office are allowed to bring in their kids, and since I've used up all my holiday for this year, I can't even book the day off. I'm sure there's some parents out there that think this is a lovely idea, but personally, this is my vision of hell. I'll be constructing a barricade around my desk and putting the iPod on full blast for the day.

But come 4.30 tomorrow, I'll be out of the door, battling my way home through the holiday traffic, and then I'm free until 2nd January!

Also tomorrow night, Boris the cat is coming back. Only for two weeks while the wife is on holiday and I'm given cat sitting duties, and to be honest, two weeks is probably just enough before me and the cat drive each other crazy. If he can just manage two weeks without throwing up everywhere, clawing the sofa, waking me at 5am for breakfast, and leaving pieces of mice that he's caught under the bed, he might just survive.

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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Adventures in Food

Every once in a while in the office we feel need to try something different for our mid-morning snacks, and it really doesn't get more different than an order from Edible.

Specialising in the more 'Uncommon' foods, we decided to make an order for:

BBQ & Chilli Worms
Thai Green Crickets
Giant Leafcutter Ants
Chocolate Covered Scorpions

It's fair to say we'll try pretty much anything, and it's a bonus if what we're eating not only tastes good, but can gross out other people in the process. The chocolate scorpions were very nice, and actually tasted something like a chocolate coated wafer, with a nice crunchy centre.

Next up was the crickets and worms, which were my personal favourite, with the worms tasting rather similar to popcorn, and although I can't compare the crickets to anything in particular, they were also very tasty.

Finally, we had a go with the giant leafcutter ants, which were quite a bit bigger than we'd expected, being close to the size of my little finger. The taste was definitely like bacon, but just a bit more salty, so very nice, but actually a little too rich to eat too many.

For all of these tasty snacks, I'd say the only downside was the shells and body parts, which we were picking out of our teeth for the next few hours, but still, if you get the chance, give them a try!

Later that evening it was a trip to London for the leaving party for our friend who is travelling across South America, and continuing the theme of different foods, settled on a Souk Medina, which was a Moroccan restaurant.

I have to say the food was great, with enough veggie dishes to keep the vegetarians happy, and a good choice of meat for us meat eaters, and it was all served in various little dishes for everyone to just pick a bit of whatever they wanted to try. But for my money, it was the atmosphere of the place that really made it worth the visit.

Firstly, the place seemed to be a very authentic Moroccan style (not that I've ever been to Morocco to compare), complete with low tables and tiny cushioned seats for us to sit on, low lighting and traditional Moroccan music. And then there were the waitresses. I swear it must be their hiring policy to accept only the most attractive and buxom young ladies to work in their restaurant, and we thank them for that. Our waitress in particular, with a top that was just big enough not to be called a bikini, seemed to enjoy leaning across the table when speaking to us or serving. Deliberate I'm sure, in an attempt to induce a bigger tip. It worked.

And then came the belly dancer. I really think every meal should be accompanied one, and once again congratulate the management for knowing just how to ply a generous tip from the male diners. I realise at this point, it may sound like we'd ended up in some sleazy strip joint, but this really was a top quality restaurant, and well worth a visit if you happen to be around Covent Gardens.

So for now, we'll go back to consulting our big book of wild animals and insects to decide what's next on the menu, but for Christmas at least, I think we'll be sticking with the roast turkey for the family dinner.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Another week gone

The run up to Christmas is always a busy time, but it's just going too fast for me at the moment. Just realised it was a week since the last post, and I've hardly had a chance to get round everyone's blogs, so sorry for the lack of posts and comments.

I guess it's getting me back for gloating at the start of the month that I'd done all my Christmas shopping with time to spare, and now tomorrow is the final posting day for all the Christmas cards that I've not written yet, and nothing has been wrapped. At least in that respect it now feels like a traditional Christmas for me.

Also, I've just got back from a long weekend in Wales, which unusually, involved more walking than drinking, but I will do a proper post about the weekend soon.

And finally, it's back into London again tomorrow night for a leaving party of one of our friends, who has decided to escape work and take four months off trekking around South America. No, I'm not jealous. Really. (dammit, I am!). She is going to be blogging her travels, but I've not convinced her to open it up to comments yet!

So, hopefully amidst all the rushing around in the final few days before Christmas, I'll get a chance to post some more, and catch up with everyone else. Until then, just can't wait until Christmas Day, when I can finally sit down with a mince pie and a glass of scotch, and not give a damn about anything until the New Year!

Monday, December 11, 2006


Firstly, a quick thankyou to everyone for the cold cures, I'm now back up to full health, or as close to it as I'll ever get. Still not found Nyquil round this way, but I did take RichardTheFluFighters suggestion of Berocca, which helped give back some energy, as well as turning my pee radioactive green. Awesome.

So onto the main event; Saturday Night.

As a quick quick re-cap for those who may have missed a few episodes, the company Christmas party was last week, which I missed because I was lame was very ill. Anyway, I was not too despondent, since that was just the company Christmas party, involving forced socialising with the people we already have to endure five days a week with. So, a night out on the following Saturday was planned as an alternative office party, involving just those that we actually want to socialise with, along with some long departed colleagues that we still keep in touch with. Which brings us round to Saturday lunchtime...

As usual, no plan goes without a hitch, and it seems London underground decided this was the ideal weekend for 'essential maintenance'. Obviously they had not realised it was the weekend of our Christmas party, and the subsequent trouble they caused us. What would normally have been a one hour journey to the city became a two and a half hour ordeal.

Finally, I arrived in Camden Town at around 2.15pm, and The World's End was open. Being the first to arrive (as usual), I grabbed my place at the bar and settled in with a pint. Eventually the others arrived, and it was on to a local restaurant for an early dinner to prepare us for the night ahead.

Now planning is not one of our strong points, so it was no surprise that after the meal, the first pub we tried was not actually open. In fact I don't think they were due to open for about a week. But after a bit of wandering randomly around Camden and Kentish Town, one of the group took us to a bar they knew of, and we all bundled in.

At this point, I wish we'd had decent enough cameras to get some pictures of inside this place, or been sober enough to work what cameras we had, because this place was special. The main room had walls and ceiling made of a tent like material, but made to look like wood. There were several life sized horses around the bar. There were several video screens playing an endless loop of a fireplace. There were, in addition to the mini sofas, mattresses in alcoves for those who wanted to lay back. There were (fake) stuffed animal heads on the walls, decorated for the festive season. Yes, this place was memorable.

But for me, the most memorable feature will be the barmaids, and in particular, a cute Brazilian barmaid who whipped a bottle opener out of her knee high boots. Naturally, I tried on the old charm:

My Perception

Me: Good evening my dear, I'll have two beers for my friends here, a whisky for myself, and whatever you're having.

Barmaid: Sure thing, there's your drinks, and here's my number.


Me: Evenin' luv, I'lll ave tu beeeers un a whishky, an a waherh yr ayyy.

Barmaid: That'll be £21.50, and please stop drooling on the bar Sir.

After that, the evening turned into the usual mixture of low brow conversations and random hugging of people (our group does get extremely friendly after a few drinks), and then came the creepy staring guy. I was chatting away with a couple of the others, when this guy in a white suit and large afro, walks up behind my friend and just stares at us with a big smile on his face. Early attempts to ignore him fail, and so my friend turns to him, shakes his hand, and asks if he finds us interesting. The guy smiles a little more, then wanders off to a group of girls to give them the pleasure of his gaze. This happened several times throughout the night, and we still have no idea why.

Sadly, the evening had to draw to a close around midnight, since the tube closures left us with few options for getting home, and so after another gruelling two hour journey home, I got home and collapsed into bed.

The next morning, I enjoyed those wonderful few seconds where I actually believed I'd got away without the hangover and was going to have a good day. Then I sat up. My head split open, and just the thought of food was enough to have me running to the bathroom. So Sunday was a write off.

Now, I have a week to recover before the weekend in Wales next weekend to celebrate a friends 30th. I'd like to say I've learnt from this weekend, I'd like to say I'll take it easy, just have a couple of drinks and an early night, but we all know how that will turn out. After all, what fun would that be!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Damn you winter colds!

Ok, I know it's that time of year that I should be expecting the occasional sniffle, it's pretty much unavoidable. But why do they always have the worst timing!!

The reason I'm so mad at my current cold, is not only the fact that after four days and three sleepless nights, I've still not been unable to shake it, but for that fact that at this very moment, I should be out on the town with people from work, drinking myself stupid and acting in ways that will provide awkward moments around the office for weeks to come. Yes, I'm missing the office Christmas party.

Now I know at this point, some of you are already getting ready to write "Sod the cold, get out there and get a drink down you!!", but before you do, there are some good reasons for sitting it out. Firstly, I do feel like hell. I mean I've had colds in the past, but this one is really going for it; I've got through four boxes of tissues, a bottle of echinacea, two packs of flu tablets and enough green tea to be sick of the stuff. It's just not working.

The second reason, is that Saturday is the unofficial office Christmas party. This is the one where all the people from the office who actually like each others company, go out together and attempt to get ourselves barred from another London bar. I reasoned that if I take it easy tonight, I'll hopefully be on top form by Saturday, which is the one I really don't want to miss.

So anyway, rant over. And now a question; what are your top tips for shifting the winter colds?

Sunday, December 03, 2006

2 Day Shopping Ordeal

After two hectic days of shopping, the search for Christmas gifts is now over, and I can finally relax, with just the cards to write and the wrapping to be mastered.

Day 1
The original plan was to head into London for the Christmas shopping, but in the end, I was convinced that this might not be the best plan, given the stress that crowds cause me, and also because I decided to meet up with a friend and tackle the shopping in Milton Keynes instead. Milton Keynes does have a pretty good selection of shops, free parking if you're quick enough, and no underground to worry about.

Now, although I thought it would be easier and less crowded than London, it was still not a stress free day out. Why on earth to people think it's a good idea to take their children Christmas shopping? Leave them with a relative, with the TV, or even just a box of matches, anything! If a whole morning of shopping is enough to drive me to madness, how do they think the kids will cope!

I also learnt another important lesson; a long shopping trip is not the time or place to break in new shoes. I don't know what I was thinking when I decided that this would be a good opportunity to break in a new pair before the Christmas party next week, but I'm now crippled.

So, was the trip a success? Well, I bought a jacket and some socks to complete the outfit for the parties of next week, and treated myself and my friend to lunch. And the presents? Not a single one. This really is male shopping at it's best. I just couldn't find anything that seemed right for anyone, and so came home empty handed (apart from the things I'd bought for myself).

Not wanting to give up so easily, I vowed to come back the next day and try again. This time with a plan.

Day 2
Today I was more prepared and had learnt from the lessons of yesterday. The designer shoes were traded for my battered old Doc Martins, trousers traded for jeans and a smart coat for my favourite old jacket. I was now ready for round two.

Any hope that Sunday shopping would be more quiet and civilised that Saturday was soon dispelled, and if anything, it seemed more packed than yesterday. As it was the last day of the 10% sale in one of the major department stores, people were becoming more desperate to grab whatever they could, and there were still plenty of kids running around my ankles. I was just one more 'bag to the crotch' away from beating someone to death with rolls of wrapping paper.

But, it was a success. Six presents were bought, and with the earlier orders from the internet on their way, I had managed to find something for everyone, as well as new shirt for me, because I decided I deserved it for my efforts.

All that's left now is the task of wrapping, and fortunately, nearly all of the presents are in boxes, so it should be just about within my ability. This has to be the first times in years I've actually done all the shopping this far in advance, instead of leaving it until the 23rd. This means that come Christmas, I'll be sitting back with a mulled wine and a stack of mince pies, with nothing more to worry about than if I have enough whisky, beer and cold cuts to see me though to the New Year.

Friday, December 01, 2006

...and then it all went quiet...

Things have been a little quiet round here recently, not too many posts and not much chance to get round other blogs and comment, but it's not without it's reasons:

1. The company is doing the whole internet monitoring thing in the office, so for now, no more posts or blog browsing from the office. Nice to see them getting in the Christmas spirit.

2. There's a couple of big posts that are 'In Progress'. I know it's quality vs quantity, but hopefully they'll be worth the wait, as I wanted to do something a little different as we're coming up to Christmas.

So, to tide you over before you move onto the next blog, and to provide some distraction for those who can still kill time browsing at work, have a look at Shave Everywhere. It is basically just a site advertising a new shaver from Phillips, but it certainly appealed to my childish sense of humor and is worth a look.

Finally, I'll be battling my way into London tomorrow for Christmas shopping, so if I'm never seen again, London won.

Have a good weekend all, and come back soon when normal service will be resumed.