hantsbear: (Seriously Pi**ed Off...)
Oh great.  A snap general election.  But of course, the great British populace will vote the way either the Daily Mail or Rupert Murdoch tells them to :(
hantsbear: (Cupid)
One thing the ex asked me was "Was there somebody else?"  There wasn't, which disappointed him; I suspect he wanted something concrete to hang the end of the relationship on.  There wasn't for two reasons - one, I couldn't do it to him, two, there was just no way logistically from a village that only had one bus an hour on weekdays and Saturdays; nothing at all on a Sunday.  No way of sneaking out covertly to visit a scarlet gentleman, so to speak ;)

Going forward, I find myself asking all sorts of questions about what I want from a relationship.  I certainly don't want to rush into something, unless my gut feeling tells me it is right.  My gut feeling didn't last time.  Should I go for a relationship where we live separately?  We need to communicate better.  I need to learn to communicate better.  But Mr. Rafferty says it best...
hantsbear: (evil koala)
Eyes are powerful things. With me, just one look from certain pairs of eyes and I fall hopelessly into their power...
hantsbear: (Feel My Koala-y Wrath!)
I think that pretty much sums the way certainly the UK has gone and, I would venture to suggest, the USA has gone.  Nobody sees the bigger picture.  Nobody looks to the longer term.  "We want a better NHS, but you want to put up taxes to do it?  Over my dead body!"  "We need more social housing, but my Council Tax bill will go up?  On yer bike!"

As a result, here we are in Brexit mode and the USA apparently heading happily towards a Christian theocracy.  And now people are starting to realise the cost.  Pound drops massively against the dollar and the euro.  Prices going up.  True, the "promised" downturn in the economy hasn't happened.  Yet.

What amazed me the most about the Brexit vote was the fact that areas that have benefited from significant amounts of money from the EU decided to vote to leave, such as the Welsh valleys.

Lemmings.
hantsbear: (Life)
I always find bequests bittersweet.  On the one hand, the financial aspect is appreciated, but it comes with a heavy finality that the person is no longer with us, and all the money in the world will not bring them back.  Even if you tried...
hantsbear: (Land of the Free...?)
I am at a loss.  I just don't get it.  And I certainly want 2016 to be over.  What has happened to the UK and the US?  I certainly don't understand my own country any more and as for trying to understand our larger neighbour to the west, which I thought I was starting to...

The Trump talks of reconcilliation, whilst appointing a whole stream of right wing nutjobs into seemingly powerful positions, and pouting and posturing when someone has the audacity to call his running mate on his ultra white christian, gay hating beliefs.  I thought it was done with love and respect but the perma-tanned ferret thinks otherwise.

I hear conflicting stories as to what the new administration can/can't to to the hard fought LGBT* rights brought in by President Obama.  Could the USA even go as far as some Middle Eastern countries and introduce a gay test at the borders?  Yes, it sounds ridiculous but frankly, I wouldn't put it past someone like Mike Pence.

I just don't know what to think any more.
hantsbear: (perkele)
I am disappointed in 17,410,742 of my fellow countrymen.  They favoured economic suicide "because we've managed before, we've managed again".  Forgetting that 40 years have passed and the world is a completely different place.  Forgetting that unity is strength.  Thinking "ooh there's too many of Johnny Foreigner in our country" only to be told post vote that the Leave campaigners have no solution to the immigration crisis.  Both major political parties are falling to pieces at a time when we need to be decisive.  And I'm stuck here with a nay-sayer who still thinks, despite everything, we will be better off out of the EU.

Seriously considering running away to Sweden and hiding in my sister's sommarhuset.  In any case, am watching developments in Scotland very closely.
hantsbear: (Seriously Pi**ed Off...)
The black dog continues.  Several times this week, I have felt like crying for no particular reason apart from the hopelessness of it all.  Today, I just feel like hiding from everything as I cannot seem to derive much joy.  I feel like everything I touch turns to failure.

I think I need to seek out more counselling.
hantsbear: (happy pills)
Oh boy, is the black dog kicking my butt at the moment.  Work is well, just hell.  Constant change that has to be implemented NOW.  And you have to be doing it perfectly NOW.  And we need these reports from you to back it up NOW OR ELSE.  Added to the fact that I have been effectively written up for something purely subjective; something I had had no complaints about until this last year after 8 years in the organisation.

I cannot see a positive outcome.  I am applying for other jobs but I am not getting even an interview.  I tried for an internal post for a department that was apparently crying out for staff.  Nothing.

All my fight  has gone.  I have stopped discussing it at home because His Lordship gets wound up and keeps telling me I should do this and I should do that, but I feel it would have no impact on anything.
hantsbear: (In The Park)

Noel first met Lucy when he was 12, she would have been 13 and they were both at school.  They both lived in a market town in Staffordshire on the edge of Cannock Chase.  It was another 3 years, when Noel was 16 and went to pump air into the local church organ, that he met Lucy again.  She was the church organist.  He asked her to take a walk along the canal with him but, initially, she declined.  Her parents were strict and always wanted her home by a certain time.  Eventually, she agreed but she told her parents that she was visiting neighbours.  As they walked along the canal, a man greeted Lucy as they walked and after they passed, Lucy confided in Noel that she thought she would be in trouble, as he was the neighbour she was supposed to have been visiting.  Later, when Noel and Lucy were officially "an item" (or what ever you would call it in 1930's Britain), the neighbours wife commented on the couple.  The husband mentioned that he had seen them along the canal some months previously.
"Why didn't you tell me?"
"You would have gone straight round and told her parents!"
They married in 1942 and had five children - David, Christine (my mother), Elizabeth, Noel and Philip.  From them came eight grandchildren and ten great grandchildren.
Last year, one evening Lucy said to Noel "I have always loved you."  They had been married for 73 years.  Lucy died last August and Noel passed just over a week ago.
And a chapter of our family's lives closed.  More chapters will be written.
hantsbear: (Feel My Koala-y Wrath!)
There are times, and it has been happening a lot lately, when I come home from work and I wonder "What on earth have I done to deserve such punishment?"
hantsbear: (Marsupial Pride)
Haven't written anything of any consequence in the Journal in what seems like an age.  So, I suppose this is a bit of a where-I-am-now post.  Geographically, I'm still stuck in a village with one bus an hour except on Sundays where there is nothing.  One shop; one pub.  Tried to learn to drive about 2 years ago and came up against a brick wall, despite the fact that this time I was learning in an automatic rather than a stick shift.  Bought a (old) bike which I hadn't realised (due to my complete absence of nouse and mechanical skills) had a dodgy clutch and ended up selling it at a loss to someone who did have the requisite mechanical skills.  That and His Lordship worried every time I went out on it put the kybosh on that.

Mentally, been going through the wringer.  Went back on Venlafaxine again for 6 months, then found a local sexual health charity that was offering  inexpensive counselling, so have been working through with that for a few months now, which seems to be working fine. especially since my councellor works to the Person Centred methodology, with which I have a degree of familiarisation.  It is a minimal amount they charge, but I have volunteered to help them man their tent at Leicester Pride next month.

Healthwise, now have a formal diagnosis of Sleep Apnea (which many have suspected for years) and now the proud posessor of an "Inflate-A-Steve" as I call it.  Still trying to get used to it; it will take time, but given the potential health benefits, I am determined to make it work.  Noticed today that I managed to swim further than I could before starting the treatment, so the snatches of sleep I am catching with the device on seem to be having some effect.  However, I am feeling particularly fat at the moment - my mental health has meant that my comfort eating has been worse than usual.  My consultant at the Sleep Clinic at Leicester General tells me that one of the benefits of the CPAP treatment is that I should start producing more of a hormone that stops these cravings, so here's hoping.  His Lordship not really helping here as he tends to take the p--- out of any attempt to undertake any form of exercise, from his well-worn seat on the sofa.

Work - oy vey.  Where do I start?  I can't really go into much detail as we have a social media policy which prevents me from identifying who I work for online, but I am being micro-managed out of my head.  Not by local management who, for the main part, are supportive but those above, including one manager who I refer to as The Smiling Assasin as she pretends everything is nicey-nice and wonderful, whilst stabbing people in the back at any opportunity.  Paranoia levels high!  Took a test last weekend for another department which I felt I did well in but of course my self doubt kicked in.  Should hear before the end of the month on that one.

Musically, seem to be listening to a lot of Joni Mitchell of late, thanks to a local chanteuse by the name of Sally Barker who achieved a degree of fame a couple of years ago by getting to the finals of the UK version of The Voice, being coached by Sir Tom Jones.  She has managed to return to her roots, playing local venues and touring, despite being offered a recording contract which, frankly, would not have shown the British public how truly versatile she is.

On the travel front, apart from our road trip from Oakland to Seattle last year, spent a few days in the northern Netherlands based in Zwolle, which I throroughly enjoyed.  A bit of winter sun in the Algarve too, which is just what the doctor ordered.  And, of course, the few days by the Loire last month.  Got a trip to see little sis in Sweden in October, along with Florida in December as a Fiftieth birthday treat from His Lordship.

Well, I think that's everything for the moment, apart from losing my beloved maternal grandmother a couple of weeks ago - she was 94, so she'd had a fair innings, but it's still hard to let go of someone you've known for 49 years.

Coyote

Aug. 2nd, 2015 11:36 am
hantsbear: (Gamla Stan)
No regrets Coyote
We just come from such different sets of circumstance
I'm up all night in the studios
And you're up early on your ranch
You'll be brushing out a brood mare's tail
While the sun is ascending
And I'll just be getting home with my reel to reel
There's no comprehending
Just how close to the bone and the skin and the eyes
And the lips you can get
And still feel so alone
And still feel related
Like stations in some relay
You're not a hit and run driver no no
Racing away
You just picked up a hitcher
A prisoner of the white lines on the freeway

We saw a farmhouse burning down
In the middle of nowhere
In the middle of the night
And we rolled right past that tragedy
Till we turned into some road house lights
Where a local band was playing
Locals were up kicking and shaking on the floor
And the next thing I know
That coyote's at my door
He pins me in a corner and he won't take no
He drags me out on the dance floor
And we're dancing close and slow
Now he's got a woman at home
He's got another woman down the hall
He seems to want me anyway
Why'd you have to get so drunk
And lead me on that way
You just picked up a hitcher
A prisoner of the white lines on the freeway

I looked a coyote right in the face
On the road to Baljennie near my old home town
He went running thru the whisker wheat
Chasing some prize down
And a hawk was playing with him
Coyote was jumping straight up and making passes
He had those same eyes just like yours
Under your dark glasses
Privately probing the public rooms
And peeking thru keyholes in numbered doors
Where the players lick their wounds
And take their temporary lovers
And their pills and powders to get them thru this passion play
No regrets Coyote
I just get off up aways
You just picked up a hitcher
A prisoner of the white lines on the freeway

Coyote's in the coffee shop
He's staring a hole in his scrambled eggs
He picks up my scent on his fingers
While he's watching the waitresses' legs
He's too far from the Bay of Fundy
From appaloosas and eagles and tides
And the air conditioned cubicles
And the carbon ribbon rides
Are spelling it out so clear
Either he's going to have to stand and fight
Or take off out of here
I tried to run away myself
To run away and wrestle with my ego
And with this flame
You put here in this Eskimo
In this hitcher
In this prisoner
Of the fine white lines
Of the white lines on the free free way
Joni Mitchell

Orléans.

Aug. 1st, 2015 07:03 pm
hantsbear: (passport)
Some photos from my recent sojourn to Orléans.  Can't say I'm greatly keen on the Eurostar experience - all the waiting rooms are cramped and the on board catering doesn't tell you that your Chicken Wrap is actually a Chicken Cesar Wrap until you've bought the damn thing.  Thankfully, I didn't bit into it...  Other than that - loved the city and the fact that my most taxing decision was where to have lunch...!

DSCN0091.JPG
La Loire
DSCN0090.JPG
La Loire
DSCN0084.JPG
Rue Jeanne D'Arc
DSCN0082.JPG
Orléans Cathedral
DSCN0081.JPG
Place de l'Étape
hantsbear: (Don't F*ck With Me!)
One thing guaranteed to make me really snarky when dealing with Customer Service representatives is the phrase "Well, it says quite clearly in our Terms and Conditions..."

Translation : "Oh you are a complete dumb-ass, aren't you darling?"

Have you tried reading some of those Terms and Condtions?  Trying to find the right paragraph, subsection and sentence?  Honestly, it seems to be the one perk in an otherwise potentially soul destroying job, to smugly prove a customer wrong...

Grr.
hantsbear: (passport)
So,  Friday in Pleasanton CA was a bit of a cr@p non-day to a certain degree.  Two very cranky sleep-deprived bears biting at each other.  Eventually, I left the hotel to the local Burger King and some coffee as I was definitely awake and felt the best thing to do was let His Lordship sleep.  Rang [livejournal.com profile] albadger and we met up for more coffee and to get a USB charger for the car since, despite the fact that we have three of the damn things at home, guess who forgot to pack even one of them!  Plus point was got a ride in Al's nifty new Soul. Got back to the hotel to find His Lordship awake.  We didn't do much else that day - I went out to the local Outback for dinner with Al and [livejournal.com profile] bigjohnsf, as His Lordship didn't feel like eating.
  Saturday morning was a different affair.  We'd both managed to get a better night's sleep and a decent breakfast, before setting off to Ukiah via. Santa Rosa.  Managed to find [livejournal.com profile] osodecanela's office and went out for a Salvadoran lunch, which was another pleasant taste surprise.  Can't remember what we ate, but it was good!  Visited the Burbank Gardens for a post lunch meander, then bade our farewells to Weaver and headed up to Ukiah.  Hotel had no lift which was fun with two very heavy suitcases, but comfortable enough.  Forraged for food at the local Safeway.
  Sunday - bit of a bun fight for breakfast as only 4 tables in the breakfast area, but managed to eat reasonably well.  His Lordship decided to take a trip out to the nearest Ross Dress For Less to do a little clothes shopping.  Lunch at Applebees then took a drive around the Mendochino County area, finding a nice little general store for coffee and cookies. Got back to the hotel and I decided to try the pool.  Bad move.  Despite temperatures in the nineties, the pool was absolutely freezing!  Relaxed in the sun for a little while instead.
  Monday - checked out and stopped off at the local JC Penney for more clothes shopping, then headed up to Fortuna, stopping off at the Chandelier Tree for a picnic.  Arrived at Fortuna in time for a quick swim then out to Burger King.
  Tuesday - drove up through Eureka to Arcata and a cup of coffee and cake at the local wholefood store.  Very much a student town.  We drove back down to Eureka and then on to Samoa to the beach.
  Wednesday saw us drive out to Ferndale, pause for coffee, then drive out to try and find the ocean.  And drove up.  And up.  And up.  And up.  Eventually, we didn't seem to be getting anwhere so we turned back to Ferndale and ate pizza instead.
Ferndale
Thursday - drove up the coast to Crescent City.  Had lunch at the Good Harvest Cafe which had been recommended on Trip Advisor and was worth the recommendation.  Food and service excellent.
hantsbear: (helga)
So, after a 11 month delay, we finally get to go on our Grand Tour of the West Coast.  3.30 am Thursday 2nd. October saw His Lordship and myself hauling our cases into his beloved Soul for the 30 minute trip down to the long stay car park at BHX.  Checked the car in for its 2 week holiday and wash and jumped onto the coach to the airport.  Checked luggage in, explaining we had a very tight connection (1 hour 15 mins at Frankfurt) and they dutifully put a label on the bags to that effect.  I had got a couple of express security passes, which turned out to be a godsend as even at 4.30 am, Birmingham Airport was pretty busy, and we were straight down the fast lane and through security in 10 minutes.  Went to the gate to await boarding. As the minutes passed the time stated on the boarding pass, I got a little twitchy and went to the desk and explained that we had a very tight connection.  "Don't worry", said the agent "there's fog at Frankfurt so all planes are being delayed and we are having to wait for a landing slot.  All the other flights should be affected." Pacified, I returned to His Lordship.  We were, I suppose, only 10 minutes late boarding and then sat a few more minutes while they tried to negotiate an earlier slot.
  Take off and landing smooth, but my heart sank when I saw that we had been parked off gate and had to be bussed in.  For some reason, despite FRA being one of the largest airports in the world, a lot of planes are parked off gate, which adds to the time passing through the airport.  The bus arrived in concourse B and we had to get to concourse A/Z.  I can't remember how later we were but the attendants on the flight had told us that our connection to Seattle was still ok.  We trekked round the corridors of concourse B and boarded a train over to concourse A/Z.  We had to go through another security check point and into concourse Z (the non Schengen area of concourse A) and rushed to gate Z52.  To be greeted by unsympathetic gate personnel who told us that boarding had been closed as the flight had been parked off gate.  If there's nothing that p*sses me off more, it's gate personnel who just don't appear to care.  Wearliy, we trooped back down the concourse to the Lufthansa Service Centre.  Here, we had much more success.  The agent was polite, sympathetic and diligent.  She must have spent about an hour searching for options to get us away that day, stopping every so often to check stuff with her supervisor and usually returning with water or snacks as well.  Eventually, she was successful.  She managed to route us to Oakland via Los Angeles.  A bit later than expected but we were grateful none the less and with a cheery wave, we set off back to the gate for the flight to LAX.  Looked out at the gate to see a 747-800 waiting.
  Boarding time came, and Steve went first to the automatic gate, which produced a seperate piece of paper, which the passenger behind him had to call him back for.  I was a few passengers back and saw this thinking "Ah, seating re-assignment".  I went through the gate, picked up my little piece of paper which was marked "UPGRADE BUSINESS".  I had a huge grin on my face, having experienced Lufthansa Business Class before.  Steve was on the escalator looking back at me quite puzzled.  We met up at the bottom.
  "What does this ticket mean?"
  "What it says - we've been upgraded!"  So, we went down the Business Class air bridge and found our way upstairs to our seats to oodles of luggage space and complementary champagne, flat bed seats and a rather friendly bearded steward.

  Stop right there.  We did not join the Mile High club.

  So, we arrived at LAX comfortably rested and fed.  To high nineties temperatures and a walk outside from the international terminal to Terminal 5, with much kvetching from His Lordship who does not do the heat.  Checked in for the Delta flight to Oakland, which was a Canadair RJ (another bugbear of His Lordship - hates small airplanes).  But they had given us Economy Comfort seats so we could stretch out, so that was a bit more comfortable.  Arrived at OAK about 10.00 pm PST.  About 30 or so hours after waking up.

zombie steve

   Tried to find the bus to the car rental station. which was nowhere near the stand it was advertised, but eventually united with our vehicle for the next 2 weeks, a Dodge Journey.  And so, thanks to the gods of SatNav, we found our way to our hotel and flopped onto our beds...
hantsbear: (passport)
lh a340Take Two... )

Eurovision

May. 11th, 2014 07:47 am
hantsbear: (ABBA)
So, we go to Vienna next year. Can't say I'm that surprised - remember Dana International? Did like the song though. Definitely the year of the beard.

But...

There will be the usual wringing of hands over the UK entry, which was OK, nothing special, but didn't deserve to be as low down the voting as it was. The spectre of political voting will invariably raise its head (let's vote for Russia, then they might not invade us...!!!) but it has always been thus. It's only in the last 15 years or so since more of the former Soviet republics have entered the contest that the playing field has widened considerably. The UK, because of it's contribution to Eurovision is guaranteed a place in the final along with Germany, France, Spain and Italy. But, we seem to rely on merit alone; there are few allies we can rely upon for those coveted "douze points"!

And it amused me greatly that Russia gave Austria 5 points.

Sigh...

Mar. 18th, 2014 07:59 am
hantsbear: (Fierce eyebrows...)
Russ would have been 50 today.

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