westernind: (Mongolia)
This Sunday and the following Sunday, on ITV at 9pm, there's a documentary on the history of horses and humans, including bits filmed in Mongolia on both weeks.

First episode, Martin Clunes visits the takhi prehistoric horses in Central Mongolia. The second week he goes to Western Mongolia to visit the Kazakh people, and apparently lovely Agii who was our guide appears in the program.
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I'm now terminally fed up with the regular pathetic meeping of the power-starved smoke alarm in the empty house next door. Their windows are open, so it means I have to have our bedroom window shut. Repeated requests to Haart, the estate agent, to nip in and either change the battery or remove it, have produced soothing words and no action.

This morning I called the council noise officer. He's going to ring Haart and tell them to get their asses down here - all of about 200 metres away - and deal with it double quick. With the warning that if it is still beeping at bedtime tonight, the council are prepared to break the door down. The friendly noise officer sounded as if he would quite relish the opportunity.

[Edited to add: 3pm. The noise has stopped now. BLISS.]
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[good] Baby squirrel spotted in back garden.
[bad] It was eating my strawberries.
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Cold out there. Snuggly warm in here.
Level of interest in going to work: 2/10
westernind: (Mongolia)
Mongolia photos

Bear in mind they're snaps, not Photographs; we deliberately took compact cameras with us, rather than be laden down with camera gear. (That we wouldn't have known how to use anyway!)

* and some Beijing

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The sunbeams are slanting through the lounge window, sliding underneath the sofa and thus unerringly highlighting both the dust and my failings as a housespouse. I should draw the curtains.


Dec. 18th, 2009 12:49 am
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S has been to his office party. After failing to decipher some of the more cryptic texts he was firing at me on his journey home, I went to get him from the station. The snow has set in.

His vocabulary tonight mainly consists of incoherent compliments and the repeated ejaculation: "Trollied!" I've assisted him to retire to the spare room (his choice) and furnished him with handy accoutrements such as glass of water, paracetamol and the washing up bowl that is his new best friend.
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Arrrgggh, I misspelled 'exploitative' in my last post, and can spot at least one grammatical error that wasn't there for comedic effect.

My workload has exploded, because I'm keeping my normal job going plus doing the design and styling on the Sharepoint project. Just one seventy-plus hour week and I'm a zombie (not in a good way) for most of Saturday. God knows how the markets and the financial stability people kept this up for weeks when it was all going pear-shaped.

Or indeed Agii, our guide in Western Mongolia. He told us that in term-time he works 40 hours during the week teaching English in the state school in Ulgii, then runs his own English school for 20 hours at the weekend. Then for the three month summer break when the kids go back to the countryside to help their families with the herding, he does tourist guiding full-time. For this, I suspect he gets paid less than $200 a month.

Consequently I did say I was going to stop complaining about overwork. Ooops. My memory is short, and perforated.
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Sunday afternoon, 6pm:
There's a chocolate fair outside the Royal Festival Hall. I notice that Hotel Chocolat have a stand, and enquire whether the women running it are permanent staff. Yes, there are. Aha says I, is it worth mentioning - for you to pass up the chain - that your advertising sucks mightily? In fact that the women in the ads look as if sucking is their main occupation. You're selling chocolate not Nuts.

Oooh says they, please oh please email our head honcho Angus Thirlwell. Because we hate it too, we're all up in arms, we're all telling him, but it has more effect if customers say something.

Sunday night, 11pm:
Email subject line Porntastic advertising - no thanks

Dear Angus,

I'm writing to you personally to ask you to cancel my Chocolate Tasting Club membership subscription, and to tell you the reason.

It's the style of advertising you've started using. I'm actually offended by the exploitive images on your Christmas mailout. The open-mouthed come-on poses make the leaflets resemble lads mags. Also, if you don't mind me being frank, I think you're being deeply unimaginative as well as somewhat foolish. I'm guessing a lot of your customers, possibly the majority, are women. What makes you imagine that using that sort of sex will sell us more of your products? (Or perhaps it does. In which case you won't care that you've lost me as a customer.)

It's disappointing, because one of the highlights of the day is the wind-down ritual after work, when my husband and I sit on the sofa together, with a cup of tea, and a chocolate each from the current month's box. (Sometimes we ran out so I had to go home via the Moorgate shop to pick up fresh supplies.) It's disappointing because I'd had a higher opinion of your company - your ethical policy was one of the reasons I was happy to support you. It's disappointing because I like trying new chocolates.

However, this issue is important enough that I'm voting with my purse. Happily I also work close to branches of Rococo and Paul.A.Young, and they'll get my custom from now on.


Monday morning, 10am:
Phone call from Angus Thirlwell. He is very very sorry. I am the tenth customer complainant. His staff are complaining. His wife is complaining. His creative department 'has taken the wrong direction' and he will be rectifying it shortly. Would I possibly reconsider my request to cancel? And did he mention how sorry he was? (Da capo al fine to the theme of 'we cocked up'.)

OK, no cancel. Actually quite impressed he picked up the phone himself.
westernind: (Mongolia)
Would anyone know how to get a small US charity (it's a "registered 501c.3 non-profit organization") also registered as a UK charity? The reason for doing it is to be able to effectively fundraise in the UK.

I want to find out how hard it would be before I offer to set it up.

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We went to see the five bedroom Victorian house, and... no. Just no. I can overlook the trivial stuff like complete re-carpeting, but none of the doors fitted, which boded ill. The clincher was that they'd taken out the chimney breasts in the upstairs rooms, which would be a horror to put back. I don't mind the hard work bringing an old neglected house up to scratch (although S would take quite some persuading) but spending money on fixing vandalism is another matter.

On the other hand, we've put in a cheeky offer for a four bed Edwardian terrace which is in really nice nick.We shall see.
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Why on earth would my building society (the Melton Mowbray) want my driving licence details in order to set up a new mortgage offset savings account? We've been with them for over six years, so I don't see the relevance. Anyway, they're not getting the details unless they provide a really good reason, so that part of the form will remain blank.
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This morning, the intranet homepage announces a charity home-made cake sale, to be held in a couple of weeks' time. Mostly, the cakes are made by 'the ladies in HR'. Handily, the venue is the staff coffee bar so that a nice cup of tea can accompany the consumption of one's tasty purchases.

I'm pleased to see not a jot of health and safety nonsense.
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Someone stole one of the plant containers from my front garden whilst we were in Arundel over the weekend. Not expensive, or heavy; a small oval wooden trough which was full of parsley, on the plant stand just inside the garden gate. He had opened the gate, stood outside the front door, and had a good look around before deciding which container to take. Then he picked it up and walked off down the road.

I know this because Chris over the road came round this evening and told me he'd seen it happen. He hadn't done anything because he was so gobsmacked it would happen in broad daylight that he assumed there must be a valid explanation. Chris also recognised the perpetrator - a guy who sometimes plays the accordian in Ilford town centre.

Now what? It's so petty. The trough cost maybe a fiver, and a quid for the parsley. But I don't want to let it lie because I don't want other containers to go missing, or their contents; I like making my tiny garden colourful and green, and it makes the street scene nicer. I don't want to have to chain the pots to the stand, or get anxious wondering who's nicking my stuff. Neither does Chris. His big container plants lived on my drive for three weeks this summer, to get regularly watered while he and his family were on holiday.

Possible choices are let it lie (ha!), or give the perp a piece of my mind when I see him and demand he give back the trough, or nip into the police station tomorrow morning and create them a shiny new statistic, with the carrot that it's eminently solvable as there was a reliable witness. How bloody pathetic though?
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On the way up to the Dark Door summer barbecue last weekend, a wrong turn resulted in a short stop to check the map, at which point I screamed at S to turn the engine off now. Smoke appeared to be coming from under the bonnet.

It turned out to be steam. Damn. Radiator leak? A judgement call... Engine temperature not yet critical, so I limped the car the remaining half a mile to the hotel carpark and called Green Flag. And discovered I'd only bought roadside assistance instead of recovery. That's what comes of getting blasé because we do less than 4,000 miles a year. Ooops.

"Radiator leak? Nothing we can do, which garage do you want it taken to?" says the man on the phone. But he's persuaded to send a blokey up to check it out, and it turns out to be the top radiator hose, split at the engine end probably due to a slight oil leak from the distributor cap. He chops off an inch and a half, refastens it, refills, and it looks like we've dodged the bullet, caught it before any serious overheating, no new radiator or towing costs or writing the car off due to blown head gasket. (It wouldn't be worth getting fixed.)

I also don't have to find time to get it sorted before this weekend, thank you Fortuna! We're going to Arundel for a couple of days, the excuse being to see an ex-colleague of Simon's playing Hermia on the Saturday night, and the car is more convenient. Easier to remain plan-free for the back end of the bank holiday.

Mind you, now no excuse to swap the car for something else. This Mazda Imola (jumped-up-323-with-spoiler) just isn't practical for most things I need out of a car. Primarily to use as a mobile storage trunk for riding gear, and to go to the garden centre. A slopey hatchback is highly unsuited to being a shrub taxi.
westernind: (Mongolia)
In Birmingham over the weekend, for [livejournal.com profile] barrettyman's most enjoyable Five Minute Film Challenge on Saturday evening, plus general sociability. Must do more of the sociability, especially as [livejournal.com profile] forbinproject got his CIPD diploma in training and development, and won't be studying for the 3rd year of CIPD until at least the end of 2010.
Here's my fillum... )

Back now...

Aug. 3rd, 2009 12:39 pm
westernind: (Mongolia)
... from holiday, having successfully avoided all forms of internet-based communication for 23 days. In fact, mostly completely free of any form of telecommunication. All vestiges of incipient RSI have vanished. Incidentally there is no way I'm going to undo the good work by trawling back through LJ. Please tell me anything I've missed, or posts you'd like me to read? I've screened comments by default.

I have heard about Mike - but haven't been told how it happened.

Mongolia was everything we hoped it would be. No lasting sickness or injury incurred, not even when I fell off a suddenly horizontal horse into a freezing glacial stream during a hailstorm. We kept a journal throughout, and I was thinking of maybe transcribing it, mostly because both sets of handwriting are pretty dire and after a while I might not be able to remember what I wrote, let alone Simon. However, it's factual and personal rather than a piece of Great Travel Writing; very much 'wot we did on our holidays'.

[Edited to add - will unscreen anything that isn't confidential/private.]
westernind: (Mongolia)
So two and a half years after inveigling (sp?) Simon to the travel exhibition at Earls Court, and getting him through the tent flap of the Mongolian ger on show there, we're checked in and ready to fly.

I won't be going online at all - 24 days disconnected is the intent (in-tent...) - less than a month but I bet it'll seem an eon.
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  • Pottering round the garden in the sunshine
  • Watching the great tits flit back and forth ferrying live mealworms to their offspring
  • Fixing my mother's computer, remotely
  • Putting quart into pintpot everything back into the newly tiled conservatory
  • Watching gnice gnanimal videos on teh intaweb
  • Eroding the mountain of washing
  • Partaking of coffee and high quality chocolate with [livejournal.com profile] forbinproject when he periodically emerges from CIPD assignment hell

  • taking my brane out of gear
westernind: (Default)
Does the blatherbar still exist?
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