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.

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
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Rue Jeanne D'Arc
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Orléans Cathedral
DSCN0081.JPG
Place de l'Étape
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... )
hantsbear: (Where Are We Going?)
EI-REM
So, I'd taken Best Beloved on a surprise trip to Killarney in Eire for a few days.  We'd done the Ring of Kerry and been to the Dingle Peninsula and generally chilled for a few days.  Yesterday was the return home.  We packed up the hire car and headed back to Cork Airport arriving in plenty of time.  When we checked in the bags at the Aer Lingus counter, the clerk said that there had been a problem with the Edinburgh flight but was reasonably hopeful that there would be no problem with our flight to Birmingham.  Wrong.  We'd gone through security and were waiting at the gate when a call came for all passengers on our flight to go to the gate for an announcement.  It seems that whilst the 737 and A320 jets could land at Cork, there was insufficient visibility for the ATR-72 turboprop we were flying in (pictured) to land and our incoming plane had been diverted to Kerry International Airport.  Which was just outside to Killarney.  So, we collect our bags and head onto a coach taking us basically back the way we had just come!  A mad rush through Kerry Airport (which must qualify as the smallest airport I have ever flown through!) and on to the flight home getting back about 3 hours later than we expected.  "I've been to all the airports in Ireland today!" muttered Siobhan, one of the stewardesses, as we left the plane...
hantsbear: (british)
So, despite Best Beloved's best attempts, the cat was let out of the bag when we got to Birmingham Airport.  The queue for the Ryanscare check in desk was moving slowly and only two people were on the desk.  One of the check-in clerks called forward anyone checking in for the flight to Faro and sheepishly Steve stepped forward.  So, here we are...
DSCN0045
The boy done good.  Damn fine hotel, practically right on the beach.  Excellent restaurant, outside pool (not sure if I dare this time of the year!) and an indoor spa.
DSCN0043
DSCN0044
DSCN0038
And the weather is a damn sight better than back in the UK!
hantsbear: (bjorn)
To celebrate my passing of 47 years on this planet, Best Beloved is taking me on a mystery trip.  All I know is it involves flights and euros.  So, I'm trying to pack for any eventuality (even Finland!) Watch this space or Facebook for updates...!
hantsbear: (Dude)
Just returned from my first trip to Spain.  Was not sure what to expect but it was hot and dry.  I had expected that.  We left Gatwick at OMG o'clock on the 8th. to arrive in Alicante around ten.  Picked up the rental VW Golf which was just about big enough for four hefty gentlemen and associated baggage, drove west to Murcia then on to Mazeron.

Spent most of the time just relaxing in and out of the heat - the villa we were borrowing had a jacuzzi on the roof, so spent a lot of time in there with the temperature set below the outside.  Slapped on plenty of factor 30 so no tan - not that I was after one!  Did a little bit of touristic stuff - best beloved went out to one of the local markets on the Tuesday and we took a trip out to Cartagena on Thursday but other than that just relaxed.

Back to earth with a bump tomorrow...

Update...

May. 26th, 2011 06:57 pm
hantsbear: (wot you looking at?)
It's been over a month...
Yup, I know.  Have not had the muse with me until now.  All floats on in the world of the koala.  I suppose the main thing I've been concerning myself with is trying to get a move from my current office in Smethwick, on the fringe of Birmingham, to an office closer to the indended wedded boudoir in Coalville, back over in the East Midlands.  Could be working in the same office as Best Beloved, in Burton upon Trent, which also means I am working in my birth county of Staffordshire.  There is still a small possibility of moving to the office in Coalville, but at the moment, Burton is more likely.

Meanwhile, work continues trying to help the great unwashed find gainful employment.  Have got a new boss, who is a little more laid back that my last boss, but I think he can assert himself if he needs to, which is re-asssuring.

Have managed to persuade Best Beloved of the joys of Doctor Who.  Unfortunately, his efforts to persuade me of the merits of Coronation Street and Emmerdale have fallen on deaf ears.

And finally, a week's holiday in Scotland next month - would have preferred 2 weeks but oh well...

And that's it for the minute...
hantsbear: (evil koala)
So, Friday was my birthday surprise from Best Beloved.  I had no idea where we were going when we started out - heading towards the M6 - that could mean north or south.  We headed north.  Initially.  Oooh, the Lake District or the very south of Scotland thinks I.  Nope.  We turn west on to the M54, then switched to the A5.  "You'll never guess!" he grinned.

Eventually, we got to Porthmadog on the west coast of Wales and he revealed his plans.  Apparently, he had already planned this trip when he asked me where in the UK I wanted still to visit.  And was pleased when I said that this area was one I wanted to explore.  So explore we did.  Okay, so finding an evening meal was a little difficult out of season, and a lot of attractions had that faded winter closure about it, but we explored.  Including a trip to Portmeirion.  Mode of transport was less than conventional...

We spent the rest of the time driving up and down the coast, visiting villages with more than their fair share of consonants in their name.  And, natrually, we had to visit...
hantsbear: (3D Me!)
Well, actually, I was back on the 26th. after a fairly uneventful journey in the care of KLM, to be greeted by an ecstatic best beloved, who had the foresight to pick up groceries on the way.  He's too good for me, you know.  Not that I am complaining, of course!!!

Quick round-up of what happened:
  • Was introduded to "The Revenger's Tragedy" by [livejournal.com profile] albadger 
  • Spent a night at the opera with [livejournal.com profile] albadger , seeing "The Makropulos Case"
  • Went into the hills and around the University of  Berkley with [livejournal.com profile] progbear 
  • Ate Ethiopian food for the first time with [livejournal.com profile] darkphuque and [livejournal.com profile] theotherqpc 
  • Saw "Hot Fuzz" for the first time with [livejournal.com profile] bestbear_icanbe.  Why did I miss this first time around???
  • Went to SF Zoo koala hunting.  This time, there was a koala outside, but quite high up and so not so easy to photograph.
  • Met up with [livejournal.com profile] furr_a_bruin , [livejournal.com profile] albadger and [livejournal.com profile] dhpbear at the Lone Star.
  • Met up with [livejournal.com profile] fogbear and[livejournal.com profile] putzmeisterbear at Beer Bust.
  • Met [livejournal.com profile] tmaher[livejournal.com profile] dhpbear and [livejournal.com profile] bestbear_icanbe  for the first time
  • Did the "Tales of the City" thing - took the cable car up Powell to find Macondray Lane.
  • Visited [livejournal.com profile] beastbriskett and [livejournal.com profile] flawsofur 
And much walking up and down hills and jumping on and off buses, street cars, BART trains etc.  Including falling asleep on the BART in the tunnel under the bay...!

Many thanks and hugs to [livejournal.com profile] albadger and [livejournal.com profile] wet_in_sf  for putting up with me and to [livejournal.com profile] bestbear_icanbe for the package that awaited me on my return :)
hantsbear: (Svenskan koala)
Urf.
Ten hours in a KLM MD-11 and here I am in San Francisco.  Flight was packed to the rafters so was stuck in a window seat and had to climb over two others.  I hate 3 3 3 configurations.  Still, for once, the airline's food was good.
Currently sat in the lounge at [livejournal.com profile] albadger 's, buzzing on caffeine and decompressing...
hantsbear: (Dude)
13/11/2010 Depart Birmingham International (BHX) 06:00 Arrive Amsterdam Schiphol (AMS) 08:20 KL 1420
13/11/2010 Depart Amsterdam Schiphol (AMS) 11:15 Arrive San Francisco International (SFO) 13:30 KL 605 / DL 9380
25/11/2010 Depart San Francisco International (SFO) 15:50
26/11/2010 Arrive Amsterdam Schiphol (AMS) 11:25 KL 606 / DL 9381
26/11/2010 Depart Amsterdam Schiphol (AMS) 15:20 Arrive Birmingham International (BHX) 15:30 KL 1429 / DL 9627
hantsbear: (evil koala)
I have got my old bed re-assembled in the back bedroom, so I can now accept guests (who may wish to sleep away from my snoring). Guests who wish to snuggle with me have always been welcome...

Forwards!
hantsbear: (Hairy Bikers!)


JANSSONS FRESTELSE (Janssons Temptation)

450g/1 lb potatoes

2 onions

butter

250g / 9oz anchovies (in brine if poss. – reserve the brine)

200ml / ¾ cup whipping cream

ground pepper to taste

Set oven to 350F / 175C / gas mark 4. Butter an ovenproof dish. Slice onions and gently fry in butter until soft. Peel the potatoes and slice some of them very thinly and use these to line the dish. Grate the remaining potatoes and add to the onions, mixing together. Add the cream and juice from the anchovies and combine. Season with pepper - no need to salt. Simmer 5 minutes. Put half of this mixture into a layer in the potato lined dish. Place a layer of anchovies on top of this then spoon the remaining potato/onion mixture over. Place the remaining anchovies on top of this. Place in oven for 45 minutes. or until brown/crisp on top. Serve either with good bread, greens or a side salad.
Smaklig måltid!


hantsbear: (Svenskan koala)

Göteborg, Canal.

hantsbear: (Svenskan bjorn)

Five minutes up the road from my sister's house...

Sverige...

Nov. 10th, 2009 07:26 pm
hantsbear: (Svenskan bjorn)

I am getting some travel in this year, in part with thanks to the generosity of Dearly Beloved Aged Parent.  Visiting Dear Darling Little Sister in Sweden next week.  She lives in a town called Särö, on the west coast about 31 km due south of Göteborg.  No great plans, but apparently I will be taught how to use the buses on the Monday…!  Will be talking the laptop with me but probably dependant on Dear Darling Little Sister’s WiFi.

I’m only going for a week, but DBAP is going for 2 weeks.  I am just hoping that he manages to navigate the connection at Frankfurt Airport ok; he doesn’t speak any German (not that that matters in an International Airport) – I think it’s just me worrying.

Then, next month, a train trip up to Edinburgh - a little birthday treat to myself.  And a free voucher to visit the koalas at the zoo courtesy of those nice people at Tesco...


hantsbear: (Gamla Stan)
Current edition on CNN sees Bjorn Ulvaeus tell you why I like Stockholm.  Which is very kind of him and I didn't have to pay him a single Krone...

Part One
Part Two

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