Friday, 26 December 2008

"The Boxer" - Simon and Garfunkel, 1969

It was a lovely Christmas with some of John's family, in Swindon, yesterday. And today is a very quiet, relaxed Boxing Day here at our home. Here's a photo of John's and my brunch today...and we've had an equally nice supper tonight.

And this evening, we're catching up on the recorded TV from yesterday - including "Doctor Who"! Ahhhh....bliss!


Thursday, 25 December 2008

"Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" - Judy Garland, 1944

Merry Christmas from all of us in Swindon this afternoon...


Wednesday, 24 December 2008

"A Day in the Life" - Beatles, 1967

Happy Christmas Eve. everybody!

I know there are many, many people who are suffering difficult times as we approach Christmas. Among them are some of the good people of Blackburn, in Lancashire (England), who have been without natural gas for several days now after a gas explosion in that area on Monday. Something like 18,000 homes were affected by the event.

Now the good news is that gas supplies to some of the affected homes have been reconnected. In fact, according to a report on BBC Radio 5 Live this morning, about 4000 homes now have gas again.

So that takes me to the title song of this post. You can imagine what my little brain began "soundtracking" in my head, as I listened to this morning's news...

"...4000 homes in Blackburn, Lancashire...."

Of course, the homes were rather small. But they had to count them all.

On that note, I'll wish all of you a merry little Christmas. I'll be posting again, probably, on Boxing Day!


Tuesday, 23 December 2008

"Life of Surprises" - Prefab Sprout, 1989

To celebrate the fact that it's Christmas Eve Eve, here's a little Ziggy cartoon that I think John might especially appreciate. (I hope the author doesn't mind my nicking it...I'm certainly not taking personal credit!)

May all of your lives be full of surprises during this holiday season!


Monday, 22 December 2008

"Start of Something Good" - Leya, 2005

Today is a very important anniversary in my life.

Six years ago this morning, I got off a plane from Houston and entered the UK, at London's Gatwick Airport, on my brand-spanking-new 5-Year Work Permit. My new life here began!

I've managed to find a few photos, running from the 20th through the 22nd of December 2002. If you'll indulge me for a few minutes, I'll share those memories with you. - and you can click on any of the photos for a full-sized version.

20 December 2002 - Houston: My neighbor and good friend Melanie helped me squeeze every last bit of stuff into the assortment of bags going with me on the flight to London. It was the final step in my move, as all of the rest of my belongings were already on their way to the Port of Houston for shipment to the UK. (By the way, John and I still use the term "melanizing" to mean the act of squeezing, squishing, and jamming things into any and all available space! That was the legacy of the miracle she worked 6 years ago, as there's no way I could have packed so efficiently all by myself!)

21 December 2002 - north of Houston: My best friend Claudia took me to the airport in Houston for my overnight flight to London. It was a bittersweet moment for us both, as it was almost impossible to imagine living so far apart!

22 December 2002 - Gatwick Airport, London: It's a wonder that John didn't turn around and drive right back to Hertfordshire, seeing me and all my stuff at Gatwick Arrivals that morning!

22 December 2002 - Gatwick, London: The exhausted but happy smile, as my UK adventure was only beginning that morning...!


Sunday, 21 December 2008

"Missing" - Everything But The Girl, 1994

I haven't dropped off the face of the earth. I've just been very ill.

As a result, I've been missing from loads of things. I've missed three Christmas dinners and two Christmas lunches. I've missed over a week's work. I've missed the deadline for getting presents bought and over to friends and family in the States. And I've missed both blogging and reading my friends' and relatives' blogs.

Now that I'm recovering, I'll see how quickly I can catch up with all my reading. I'll bet many of you have written some insightful, cool, and amusing things, and hopefully they'll keep until I can get around to them.

Thanks to John and some very strong antibiotics, I'm feeling better now...just in time for Christmas.


Tuesday, 9 December 2008

"Mis-Educating Me" - C Earl Campbell Da 3rd, 2007

Being involved in education - and having directly trained so many course delegates over the past almost-6 years - I've come to realize that many students leave school without grasping even the basics.

Sadly, I bumped into an example just this morning.

I had received an email from a website that my former high school uses to broadcast information about upcoming class reunions, etc. So I clicked on the link to the site just to see what was new.

On the site's home page, there's a section which features one school alumni member each day. Today's alumni was a woman who graduated around 1990, and part of her profile was shown.

Here is exactly what she had written regarding her current occupation:

Secritary / Recieptionist

Oh dear. I hope she regularly uses her spellcheck at work.


Monday, 8 December 2008

"Yellow" - Coldplay, 2000

I am very proud of my husby John today. It was the first day of his new job in Oxford!

Without revealing too much private information, I'll just say that John's working in IT for an especially interesting division of Oxford University. He'll be in an environment which, I believe, will really suit his scientific nature.

I had planned to find a song with "beginnings" in the title to mark the big event. However, something he told me this evening changed the direction of the blog title completely.

John was chatting away about his day as we were putting last night's dinner together. One of the things he mentioned was the wing of the university facility in which his office is located. Apparently, the sections are all color-coded. And John's office is located in what they refer to as the "yellow finger".

I couldn't help but laugh. It sounds like a comic sequel to the famous Bond film, doesn't it?


Sunday, 7 December 2008

"The Very Last Time" - Utopia, 1980

I taught my final course for my employers on Friday, for a major oil company in London's Canary Wharf.

Imagine how impressed I was when I saw the name of the room to which I was was assigned...

(Click on the image for a full-sized version.)

Tough image to live up to - but I did my best!


Wednesday, 3 December 2008

"Everything Is Just a Scam" - Black Watch, 2002

My British readers will have already heard this story on news broadcasts, so I'm writing this for my readers in other parts of the world.

There are few things worse than a Christmas scam. Lapland New Forest has to be the granddaddy of them all.

Take a look at this article on the BBC's website, along with the photos they've posted there. Those involved should be ashamed of themselves for pulling a scam like this!

Perhaps the statement on the Lapland New Forest website should have given all potential visitors a clue ahead of time - "It's You That Makes It Beautiful". It's clear that those running this horrible place created nothing approaching "beautiful"...or joyful.


Monday, 1 December 2008

"Thankful" - Josh Groban, 2007

John and I have lots to be thankful for, as we begin the final month of this year.

Firstly, John has accepted an IT position with a division of Oxford University, and he'll be starting this new job a week from today! After quite a few months of serious job hunting, he's very pleased...and I believe this will be an excellent opportunity for him!

Secondly, this Friday will be my final day of running training courses for my Oxford employer, after nearly six years of being part of the company's faculty. It will be my last trip to the same Canary Wharf client that I worked with early last week.

Now, I need to quickly say that I've really enjoyed teaching. I've met some very interesting people and have gone to some fascinating locations, all over the world. But the part I haven't enjoyed is being away from home so much. That's about to end, as a few months ago I requested a change of role to something purely office-based. So beginning in January, I will be helping write and edit courses, coach other faculty members, etc., etc. And the other piece of good news is that I'm cutting back my working hours to only three days/week! I've never been in a position to work only part-time before, so needless to say I'm really looking forward to having a bit more time for myself beginning next year.

And thirdly, my brother Larry (who lives in Texas) just spent the weekend with John and me. We had a really nice, relaxed weekend - getting caught up on family stories, enjoying the English countryside, and sharing good food and drink. For those of you who know my "little brother" (and, I guess, for those you don't as well), here are a few photos from yesterday...and you can click on any of them for a full-sized version.

Laughing siblings

My two favorite men, near our house - and note the very "British" weather!

Larry enjoyed his pint at the nearest of our community's multiple drinking establishments