THE BLOGGY BIT... This is where I ramble on about nothing in particular, in the hope that something may strike a chord with you, whether it be graphic design, football or real ale.
Thursday 31st December 2009 23:05
To make the most of the day, we headed off out for both of us were suffering with cabin fever a little. Neither of us had ventured outside for the past two days, having said that though, the weather has hardly given us the inspiration to do so, it's rained non-stop for the past two days.
I suggested that we both head off to Chichester and just explore the city because we only seem to go there as shoppers, rather than tourists. The city really is beautiful, even the backstreets have a certain pizzazz that many other city centres lack. We had a proper exploration and discovered many interesting buildings and visited the Pallant House Gallery, a Queen Anne townhouse and a contemporary building by Long & Kentish in association with Prof. Sir Colin St. John Wilson.
The Gallery holds one of the best collections of 20th century British art in the country. Depending on what you're wanting to see, depends on whether you pay an admission fee or not. Of huge interest to me was an exhibition entitled, 'Sacred and Profane' that feature many iconic etchings and wood engravings by none other than Eric Gill, the man behind one of the most popular fonts of all time, Gill Sans. The exhibition reveals the contradictions between his deeply ingrained religious beliefs as well as his more than controversial sexual interests (sounds like you - Ed). The exhibition is being shown until 28th February 2010 in the De'Longhi Print Room and the admission is free.
To find out more about the Pallant House Gallery and its current and forthcoming exhibitions, please click on the logo above.
From there, we then explored Chichester Cathedral and although we'd visited it before, there were parts of it that were inaccessible last time, so it really did make the visit worthwhile. Not only that, they don't charge the extortionate £6 admission fee like a certain Winchester Cathedral do. Instead, they have things within the cathedral, giving you the option of paying to look at, and at the door, they also have a large donation box, asking you to contribute whatever you can afford. A much better solution in my opinion, rather than turning people away before they've even managed to step foot in the place. With a 900 year old history, it has fine architecture of both Norman and Gothic styles and was described as 'the most typical English Cathedral' by architectural historian, Nikolaus Pevsner. Despite being described as typical, it has two unique features compared with England's other medieval cathedrals, one of which is totally separate bell tower, the other, its double aisles.
To find out more by clicking on the logo above.
Once home, we then relaxed with a few drinks before sitting down and enjoying Hootenanny 09, hosted by none other than Jools Holland on BBC2. Remarkably, it's the 17th annual Hootenanny that he's celebrated and hosted. This year's guests included Sir Tom Jones, Boy George, Paolo Nutini, Shingai Shoniwa, Florence + The Machine, Paloma Faith, Kasabian, Dizzee Rascal plus others.
To watch the programme via the BBC iPlayer, please click on the graphic above.
Wednesday 30th December 2009 19:50
Spent most of the day trying to locate shareware in the hope that I could retrieve some images from an SD card. Much to my surprise, there are many programs out there, most of which say they're free, so you download them, go through the motions of retrieving many images, all of which you can preview and then... the fuckers ask you for money. What's the point of all that? Do they enjoy the thought of all those excited people, only to shit on them at the very last minute? Bastards.
Anyway, as I said, there are many out there, however, one of the best free ones had to be Lexar's 'Image Rescue'... not only that, I rather like their logo. They only thing required is an email address, so you enter it, click on submit and the download begins. The program size is minimal, a mere 2.11MB and, once installed, that's it, no registration code or anything needed.
Lexar Image Rescue™ 3 software is easy-to-use recovery software, able to recover lost or deleted files from any type or brand of memory card, using any kind of card reader, therefore making sure that your valuable images and files are not lost; not only that, it now restores video and audio files as well. It does state that not all images are 100% recoverable.
Please click on the logo above to download your free version.
Later on in the evening, we then sat down to watch the Premiership clash between Portsmouth and Arsenal. I'd predicted a 0-5 win for Arsenal and, as a matter of fact, a 4-1 win for Manchester United against Wigan Athletic, the other game being played tonight.
Even though my predictions were wrong, they were only in the wrong order, for Manchester United thumped five past Wigan and Portsmouth did manage to claw a goal back after being 3-0 down. Until just before the half hour mark, Pompey seemed to have Arsenal under control and it was only until Eduardo's free-kick on the 28th minute took a hellishly nasty deflection off Younes Kaboul that the outcome of the game changed dramatically. After that, it mostly went tits up with Samit Nasri firing in a second goal just three minutes before the break.
I have to say, that although my allegiances lie with Bolton, the Pompey fans are true legends, and I mean that from the heart. They never criticise, they just stick by their team, no matter what and that's why I have grown so fond of the club.
After the break, Welshman Aaron Ramsey managed to give The Gunners a three goal advantage with a brilliant solo goal from 20 yards out. It was looking like major doom and gloom for Pompey now, yet a close-range strike from Nadir Belhadj from Vanden Borre's cross gave the home side some hope, yet the visitors retained their three goal cushion as Alexandre Song Billong headed home the final goal of the game in the 81st minute of the match. Down, but certainly not out, Pompey lost 1-4 to a very convincing Arsenal side.
Oh, and by the way, the Bolton fan holding the 'Megson Out' banner aloft had his dream come true. He was 'relieved of his duties as First Team Manager with immediate effect', a club statement found on the official Bolton Wanderers Football Club website. Almost 260 miles separate two clubs that are right in the shit.
Tuesday 29th December 2009 19:45
After an uneventful day, two horror stories unfolded tonight. The first was that of Bolton Wanderers v Hull City. It's a fixture that I'd been looking forward to for quite some time, mainly because it was one of those that could be classed as a 'six pointer', for both went into the match on 17 points and a win for either side would have elevated them four places up the table, something that would have lifted the spirits of either side.
Bolton's recent form meant that they had every chance of winning this, yet they remain the only club in the Premiership to have not kept a clean sheet... could tonight be the night where those statistics changed? More about that later...
The second part of a tense and quite thrilling new BBC adaptation of John Wyndham's best-selling post-apocalyptic novel, 'The Day of The Triffids', published in 1951. Patrick Harbinson, famed for writing ER and Law & Order, is the man behind the rewrite of the novel. In the not too distant future, Man became desperate for an alternative fuel supply and the ominous Triffid provided the perfect fuel source that could be cultivated in an innumerable measure. After a solar storm, with the majority of the world's population being left blinded, the Triffids, plants with a fatal sting and a craving for human flesh, escape from the farms that they are being grown on.
Both parts are now available to watch on the BBC iPlayer, so please click on the opening graphic below to watch the first...
Back to the match... Bolton started with fight, outplaying the visiting side and forcing them to make some embarrassing errors. The home side opened with an absolutely superb strike by Ivan Klasnic that was drilled low into the bottom corner of the net from 18 yards out. The score remained 1-0 until just after the hour mark when Kevin Davies headed in a Paul Robinson free-kick on 61 minutes. Bolton seemed solid yet Stephen Hunt, possibly the shortest man on the field, got on the end of a Craig Fagan cross and nodded in the visitor's reply after 71 minutes. Suddenly, The Trotters were flustered and began to make the same embarrassing mistakes that Hull City were making in the first half. Some seven minutes later, Hunt managed to grab an equaliser from a tight angle. Greta Steinsson almost grabbed the winner in the dying seconds but his 18-yard shot was deflected wide. As the game ended, a large sign that read, 'Megson Out' was displayed.
Monday 28th December 2009 11:50
We had intended that today be a 'do nothing all day' day, however, although it was rather cold, it was a beautiful and fresh winter's day. Tanya suggested driving to Winchester and then remembered that I'd mentioned a place called Lower Roundhurst Farm located in Haslemere. It's a working farm and, judging by their website, it looked beautiful and very picturesque and since it didn't have the opening times on there, we were good to go. Out came the SatNav (yes, we now own our own TomTom since Abbi and James bought us one for Christmas) and we punched in the post code of our destination... little over an hour's drive, not too bad.
Apart from enduring some very heavy traffic around Hindhead which set us back by about 20 minutes, we arrived there in pretty good time, only to find that the fucking place is shut on Mondays. Cock.
After deliberating what to do, we finally agreed that Winchester was the next best option, even though it was more than half the way back on the route we'd just come on and then the same distance again, only in the opposite direction. I'd been driving for around two and half hours, by which time, I felt as if both my throat and stomach had been cut. Having said that though, we did take a look at the outdoor iceskating rink that has become a popular fixture within the city at Christmas time. It's in the grounds of Winchester Cathedral, a majestic building that originates from as far back as the 7th century and their motto reads, 'See it for yourself. Save it for the future.'
Now then, as you know, we both love old churches and cathedrals, there's something incredibly enchanting about them. I also realise that the upkeep of such old buildings must generate a phenomenally high figure, nevertheless £6 per person admission fee is just taking the piss to an extreme. As soon as we were told this, I turned around and said, "Sod that". Probably not the best terminology to use within sacred grounds but what the hell. It's an absolutely extortionate sum of money to be paying, especially if you're religious as well. If they cut that fee down by half, I'm certain they'd fulfill the targets they need to, and some. Rant over.
For more information about Winchester Cathedral, please click on the logo above.
From there, we did grab a bite to eat and a coffee and then ambled around the city centre, soaking up the festive atmosphere. It certainly passed some time away, yet we avoided spending too much time there because we're looking at taking my parents there next month. One thing we both spotted was a rather unusual shop sign on Southgate Street. The 'Barber Shop' fascia lettering was upside down... how peculiar! Since then, it appears that new owners of shops often reverse or turn over the old sign until the new one is ready, although it appears as if this has been like it for quite some time. Whatever the accompanying tale may be, it raised a smile with us.
It had started to go dark by the time we set off home, yet it did give Tanya the opportunity to ask me to return to Staples... yes, she'd made up her mind as to which laptop was going to replace the kaput one. As you well know, I don't like PCs, yet the Toshiba Satellite L500-19X that Tanya bought is a very sexy looking laptop, even though I say so myself. It has also the latest Windows® 7 Home Premium operating system installed which does seem rather good. It's a 15.6" screen and has a 500GB hard drive. I could run through the whole of its specifications but I'd rather leave that to you to find out if you so wish. Tanya was also very lucky indeed because Staples honoured the price that she'd seen on their website (£418), rather than what it was in the store, therefore making a saving of almost £30. Bargain.
Please click on the logo above to find out more. Toshiba have to have one of the shittiest and unbelievably dated logos around, don't you think?
Sunday 27th December 2009 12:02
Started the day off with a brisk walk around the Mill Pond; it was bitterly cold and the blustery wind wasn't adding to it either, nevertheless, it blew away some stubborn cobwebs. Unbeknown to me, it appeared that Tanya had planned something particularly cunning, for she suggested 'going for a drive' and lo and behold, we arrived in a small village called Funtington, just a few miles down the road from where we live, and asked me to park up outside the 'Fox and Hounds' pub. Yes, it was Sunday Roast carvery time...
It was relatively early when we arrived so we decided to enjoy half a pint of real ale before eating. There were four ales on, all of which were very tempting, however, I opted for Dark Star Brewery's 'Hophead', unfortunately though, it didn't quite appeal to Tanya, which was a disappointment on my score; always like to choose one that she likes as well.
I thoroughly enjoyed it, regardless of its very hoppy taste. It's very smooth indeed and at 3.8% ABV, you wouldn't expect this pale gold-coloured ale to possess any sort of flavour, yet it has a strong floral aroma with elderflower notes and is a very satisfying full-bodied ale.
Please click on the pump clip below to find out more about Dark Star Brewery.
We then went and picked our carvery meal; there were three meats to choose from, beef, pork or honey roast ham. We both plumped for the pork and honey roast ham and proceeded to create a mountain of roast potatoes, sprouts, carrots, broccoli and cauliflower, with a dollop of apple sauce and a coating of gravy, finished off with a huge Yorkshire Pudding balanced on the summits of our food mountains. Delicious.
Rather than just vegetate at home for the rest of the day, Tanya was eager to look at some laptops, for Abbi's died on Tanya this morning. It had been on its way out for quite some time, mainly down to the one of the connecting hinges having snapped off completely and the fact that the other side had been hanging on for dear life for several weeks. The screen ended up with a totally magenta cast with literally nothing visible any more... a trip to PC World and Staples ensued...
Since I've provided a link to PC World relatively recently, please click on the Staples logo above.
Saturday 26th December 2009 14:00
We'd been looking forward, for quite some time, to the release of Guy Ritchie's new film, 'Sherlock Holmes'. Since I'm a member of the Odeon Cinemail, it meant that as soon as tickets were on sale, I'd be able to book them immediately... and that's exactly what I did.
Now then, for any of you who may be skeptical about the film, don't be, because you're in for a treat. The acting throughout is excellent, particularly by the main stars, Robert Downey Jr. (Sherlock Holmes) and Jude Law (Watson), the CGI is absolutely superb and the storyline, a film adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's fictional character of the same name, is what can only be described as a sensational blockbuster.
Without giving too much of the storyline away, it's set in London and it's 1891. It opens with Holmes and Watson racing to prevent a human sacrifice, the ritual conducted by Lord Blackwood (played by Mark Strong). Remarkably, after Blackwood's arrest and subsequent execution, he rises from the dead. The infamous pair then continue their quest to track Blackwood down, unfolding a secret society who dabble in the occult, further murders which appear to be supernatural, only to find that Blackwood's plans are for world domination...
To find out more, please click on the movie poster above.
Friday 25th December 2009 09:28
Finally arrived at the day that so much fuss is made about. I wish I could enjoy it as much as I did when I was a kid... sadly though, all the magic is extracted from it as the years go by, almost to the point where you just wish it was all over and back to normality again. I sound grumpy, miserable and cynical, I guess I am. Christmas is one of those 'events' where if you had an endless stash of money, I suppose you could thrill someone in the way that you remember being thrilled as a child. I don't intend to put a downer on the whole day, it just feels that unnecessary stress and angst seems to ooze out of every pore, that by the time it's Christmas Day night, you feel as though you've spent the night in a Turkish prison cell.
Tanya and I had agreed to put a cap on our spending limit this year, in the hope that it would alleviate some of the stress and spookily enough, our main presents to each other was fragrance. It's quite some time since I last bought perfume as a gift, the same goes for Tanya buying aftershave, and it has to be said, the both of us were slightly shocked as to just how much it costs these days, particularly when you see the pissy-sized bottles they come in. Nevertheless, we were both chuffed as anything... I'd bought Tanya a bottle of Lacoste Pour Femme and she'd bought me Christian Dior Fahrenheit.
Click on either featured logo to find out more or shop online.
Having said all of that, we all had a superb Christmas Dinner that Tanya had cooked to look forward to, as well as an Apple Crumble I'd made (we all despise Christmas Pudding, it's disgusting). At around 11am, Abbi went to pick up Damien and from there we enjoyed wine, real ale and Bailey's before sitting down at 1pm for dinner. Once it had all settled, we then chillaxed (seems it's a trendy word at the moment) and enjoyed the first part of the current Doctor's demise in the latest installment of Doctor Who, with the concluding episode being shown on New Year's Day.
Soon after that, Tanya drove Damien home (she'd stuck to one Bailey's all day) and we continued our Christmas Day viewing, with The Royle Family, the latest Christmas episode being called 'The Golden Egg Cup'. Absolutely classic humour, one of the funniest moments was a sketch between Denise (Caroline Aherne) and Barbara, her Mum (played by Sue Johnstone) The conversation goes as follows...
Denise: "Do you know what I'm thinking of doin', Mam?"
Denise: " I'm thinking of adopting two or three brown babies, you know like Madonna or Angelina."
Barbara: "Are you sure, Denise, you've already got two."
Denise: "I've always been very maternal."
Barbara: "You have. Have you any idea what you'd like?"
Denise: "I was thinking maybe two caramel coloured ones, you know, to go with my sofa."
Barbara: "Mmm yeah, 'cause you can't be expected to change your furniture every time you adopt a baby."
Brilliantly written. You can watch the whole episode by clicking on the image above.
Thursday 24th December 2009 13:04
Christmas Eve... already. I managed to sort a few things out in the morning, the most essential one being present wrapping. Surprisingly, Tanya was home for around midday, so we decided to make the most of the afternoon by going for a brisk walk finishing with a Christmas Eve meal out somewhere.
Our original plans of walking the Billy Line and then having lunch at The Spring in Havant were scuppered due to the fact that the place wasn't open. We then tried The Royal Oak at Langstone, yet that proved busier than something remarkably busy, however, it had given us the chance to have a walk whilst trying to find out if there were any tables available.
In the end, we opted to eat at The Ship Inn, not that it was second or even third best, we'd eaten there before and thoroughly enjoyed our meals. This establishment caters for many more people and even though we found a table with relative ease, it was still extremely busy with other punters who'd obviously just finished work for the day. There were several meals on the menu that were more than tempting but we both ended up ordering the Cumberland Sausage with mash, Winter vegetables and onion gravy... delicious.
Anyway, earlier in the day, I 'discovered' this fantastic clip of Bizkit, a sleepwalking Golden Retriever. It appears as if Marina, the dog's owner films her dog on a regular basis and is quite used to it sleepwalking and sleepbarking (let's hope, for her sake, that it doesn't sleepshit). She has opened her own channel on Facebook that you're able to subscribe to... without further ado though, check this video out... it's piss funny, just click on the still above.
Wednesday 23rd December 2009 12:28
Although I was officially on holiday, Tanya had another two days left at work. It did mean I could work on a job that's relatively urgent - may as well occupy oneself rather than while away the hours. Whilst I was working, I received an email from Tanya's boss, Dave, directing me to a website stating, "This is up your alley!" What on Earth could it be...
It turns out that the whole site, although now redundant, yet fully archived, is a parody of the Radio Times, the listings in the same format as that of the magazine. The site was updated fortnightly between 1999 and 2001 and then Charlie Brooker took over the helm until 2003, although updates were sporadic during that time.
The site gained a huge cult following, especially as prime targets for abuse were the Daily Mail, Mick Hucknall (Simply Red's frontman) and television presenters such as Nicky Campbell and Rowland Rivron. Brooker expressed his disgruntlement about the fact that reality television very much ruined the satire he had taken pride in creating, nevertheless, in 2006, he began a regular column in The Guardian where he started to feature new TVGoHome listings.
Please click on the logo above to read some of the hilarious archived material.
Tuesday 22nd December 2009 16:30
A feeling of relief overcame me tonight, for I'd finished work and was well and truly ready for a pleasant relaxing time over the festive period. As much as I don't especially 'do' Christmas, the break is very welcome indeed. So, without further ado, I'm actually going to blog about Christmas today... why not?
Over 150 years ago, 1843 to be precise, the first Christmas Card was designed. Commissioned by Sir Henry Cole, John Callcott Horsley was asked to paint a card that depicted Christmas, where at the same time it also needed to show the feeding and clothing of the poor, signifying it as a gesture of good will. The central illustration displayed a jovial family, embracing one another, sipping wine and thoroughly enjoying the festivities; the trouble was it also highlighted a child sipping wine and this was deemed as the corruption of a minor and ended up being heavily criticised. Printed across the centre of the card were the words, 'A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to You'.
In the late 1800s and early 1900s, Christmas Cards designed by Frances Brundage, Ellen H. Clapsaddle (yes, it's a real surname, regardless of it sounding like an STD you may contract at an equestrian centre) and Victorian children's writer and illustrator, Kate Greenaway, became increasingly popular for their elaborate designs which often included decorations of fringe, silk and satin. Some were fan or crescent-shaped, others were cut into the shapes of bells, birds, candles and even Christmas Puddings, as well as many other unusual designs.
It seems even more remarkable that for the first 30 years of the Christmas Card industry, Americans imported them from England. This went on until 1875 when Louis Prang, a German immigrant living in the United States, spent $250 and opened up a lithographic shop, where he published the first ever line of US Christmas Cards. Some six years later, he was producing in excess of five million Christmas Cards each year and the craftsmanship that went into such designs now means that many are collector's items today. Since then, the whole perception of cards has changed, yet timeless settings of children around a Christmas Tree, Nativity scenes and Carol Singers still the remain the most popular sellers.
The image above is the Christmas Card designed by John Callcott Horsley.
Monday 21st December 2009 15:41
Honouring fellow males of the universe, there are certain aspects of life that are looked over, one of which is the sending of Christmas cards. A combination of forgetfulness and thinking I have the power to slow down or even stop time, giving me the prowess to send cards that arrive on time. Obviously I possess only one of those powers, it not being the latter.
The other flaw I have (makes me sound as if I only have two) is the fact that I seem to have the inability to jot down my relatives addresses and, inevitably, I end up texting my Mum with a barrage of address and post code requests, one of which, even she was unable to answer.
I then remembered a facility that I used to use frequently on the internet, whereby you can key in an address and it will give you the post code - it also works the other way around, although that way it gives you a list of possible addresses under that particular post code.
The facility is provided by the Royal Mail and it saves so much time, particularly with residential addresses. Please click on the iconic logo above to find out more.
Sunday 20th December 2009 10:07
Since we'd wasted the majority of yesterday in bed, suffering with hangovers, we decided that today would be a relatively early rise, so that we'd be able to go for a brisk walk around Emsworth Mill Pond and then buy all our groceries in good time for Christmas Day.
Although it was cold and the snow was still around from Friday, the winter sunshine certainly felt quite warm and we were surprised to see relatively few people out and about considering it was so nice. Maybe they were making their final Christmas shopping ventures or they had major Christmas party hangovers. Anyway, once we'd had our healthy walk, we headed off to the new Tesco in Havant.
Despite it being the last shopping weekend until Christmas, it was comparatively free of crowds, which made it slightly less painful than it would have been. I have to say that having such a large superstore right on our doorstep makes weekly shopping a good deal easier. Not only that, the store at Havant has been majestically designed and I am being serious. It doesn't look like a run of the mill store, they've built the whole thing on 'stilts', apart from the area at the front, where you use angled escalators (they don't have steps) which have specially designed grooves in that 'hold' your trolley in place. Because the store is 'floating', it means that it provides an immense amount of car parking spaces as well. Brilliantly designed.
To find out more about the Tesco chain, please click on the logo above.
Saturday 19th December 2009 12:45
Spent all morning in bed, due to the both us feeling very delicate... very delicate indeed. Our heads were pounding and the very thought of food made me feel even worse.
Anyway, the good thing was, we both mustered up enough energy to actually make our way downstairs, in good time for the Premiership's early kick-off, Portsmouth v Liverpool, played at Fratton Park. Both teams, particularly Pompey, have had inconsistent seasons, yet far more is expected from Liverpool. Despite all the statistics being against Pompey, last night I'd predicted a 1-1 draw (like 1-1 would be anything else but a draw - Ed).
As with many of Pompey's matches this season, their passing game was excellent, yet their finishing was unbelievably frustrating... however, that all changed in the 33rd minute when Algerian Nadir Belhadj converted what can only be described as a stunning angled goal past flailing 'keeper, Reina, in fact, I'd go as far to say as it is definitely one of the goals of the season so far. A thoroughly deserved lead, regardless of the continual shite that Sky Sports commentators were coming out with saying that Liverpool were on top of the game. To make the visiting team's matter worse, Argentinian Javier Mascherano was shown a red card for an unbelievably reckless challenge on Tal Ben Haim. The card was thoroughly deserved in my opinion and how Rafael Benítez can even begin to think anything different is beyond me.
So for the second half, and although Pompey seemed relatively strong in defence, they just didn't seem to be playing with the conviction required, nevertheless, they held on to their lead, although Pompey's Canadian 'keeper, Asmir Begovic made two superlative saves throughout the match, one of which had taken two severe deflections from a Steven Gerrard strike, yet somehow he managed to claw it off the line. Just as I started to think that my 1-1 prediction may have been right, Frenchman, Frederic Piquionne, doubled the home side's lead after a superb cross by Boateng that Piquionne then flicked over his own head, as well as defender Jamie Carragher, before volleying home a precise shot that struck the post as it ended up in the back of the net. An equally superb goal and a 2-0 win that Pompey thoroughly needed and deserved. What a match!
Friday 18th December 2009 07:09
Crikey, another year older... where on Earth does time go? My Mum very kindly reminded me last night that it was 21 years ago since I was 21. Such a subtle way of telling someone that they're well and truly past it. Anyway, I shall not dwell on it... after all, 42 is the new 21, especially in 'Feel Half Your Age in Divide by Two Land'.
I was spoiled once again with a whole host of fabulous presents, two of which I shall talk about now. Tanya's main gift to me were some speakers for my Apple Mac and they're ultra-cool. They're manufactured by JBL, an American-based company, established in 1946. JBL is acronym initialism that stands for James Bullough Lansing, the founder of the company.
The speakers are the JBL Spot™ stereo system with subwoofer. With a frequency range of 40Hz - 20kHz, a power consumption of 30W maximum, the sound from the system is absolutely awesome. Not only that, they're stylish and contemporary in design. Wow!
To find out more, please click on the logo above.
Another very snazzy present I received was from my parents, a TRTS ® T-shirt. TRTS is another type of acronym, standing for Trotters, one of the nicknames given to Bolton Wanderers Football Club...TRotTerS (just in case it needed explaining!) Anyway, the design they bought me is the one with the two dangling football boots... if you click on the logo above, you'll see which one I mean.
Later on tonight, Dave, Tanya's boss, kindly came and picked us up so that we could both enjoy a few drinks at her work's Christmas Party. We all met up in the Chichester City Club and enjoyed a few drinks there before heading off for our Christmas meal at the Jasmine Restaurant, a Chinese restaurant and takeaway located on The Hornet in Chichester. We all had a fantastic time and the beer, wine and lager were flowing very well indeed... to the point where the both of us were rather pissed by the time we went home!
Unfortunately, The Jasmine Restaurant doesn't have a website to direct you to, so I'll include a link to W.J.King's brewery website because one of the guest beers at the Chichester City Club was called 'Winter's T'ale'. Very hoppy, refreshing and distinctive, this 4.1% ABV light golden-coloured ale thoroughly deserves a mention. Ironically, I'd say this would be just as good as a summer session ale!
Please click on the beer label above to find out more about the brewery and the ale in question.
Thursday 17th December 2009 09:02
I was sent a card from a work colleague today via Hipster Cards. It read, 'How about a nice cup of Shut The Fuck Up'. It appealed to my sense of humour so I decided to take a look at the site and there's some great stuff on there, as opposed to the sickly sweet and cheesy greeting card websites out there.
The online greeting card website was founded by a group of creative Californians who were disappointed with most eCard sites. They realised that there was a desperate need for stylish, clever and fun cards. It was launched in October 2004 to support the Get Out the Vote messages from 1000flowers.org and November2.org. The full site launched in December that year, featuring a wide range of eCards with just the right messages you'll want to share... without compromising your aesthetic sensibilities.
Please click on the logo above to find out more.
Wednesday 16th December 2009 12:27
Whilst driving over to the dental practice today - tooth trouble again, I noticed a van parked near Havant Thicket and it had a logo on it that I'd never seen before. Although the logo isn't anything special (it uses Times and that's hardly groundbreaking in logo design), both the colours and the actual company name stuck in my mind.
Once home, I investigated... as I do... and found that the Kentish company, English Landscapes, is one of the UK's leading landscaping contractors. They provide a high quality service on a local basis yet have the back-up of and resources of a national company which gives them the foundation to invest in their staff. With five professional accreditations under their belt, a combined turnover of almost £40 million and just short of 100 national awards, they are fast becoming the market leader.
For more information, please click on the not so good logo below.
I mentioned teeth earlier. You know how I had that abscess (lower left six) earlier this month, well it had started to rear its ugly head on Monday night to the point where I had to give them another call yesterday for an emergency appointment. The soonest they could slot me in was this afternoon which wasn't bad at all considering the rigmarole I had getting my first emergency appointment. Anyway, once I was seen, my dentist said that she'd be able to determine exactly what could be done when I have my appointment tomorrow.
She talked about four things... putting me on another course of antibiotics if the abscess has returned (she cannot say for sure whether it has or not until she removes the existing amalgam filling, another was extracting the tooth, although this would be done as a last resort, refilling the cavity... or worse case scenario, root canal treatment.
Fucking great, two hours of work and money down the drain and the day before my birthday.
Tuesday 15th December 2009 11:45
As a graphic designer, creating and editing vector graphics is a very involved aspect of the job and software such as Adobe Illustrator are ultimately essential. Other similar programs available are CorelDraw and Xara X, both of which use the W3C standard Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) file format. The only major downside is that these application programs cost an absolute fortune, particularly if you're a company in need of making cost-effective decisions.
Enter 'Inkscape' an Open Source vector graphics editor... in other words, it's free! It supports many advanced SVG features such as markers, clones, alpha blending etc. and great care is continually taken in designing and providing a streamlined interface. Editing notes, performing complex path operations and tracing bitmaps are very easy to perform with this versatile program.
Official release packages for Windows include Installer, portable and 7zip. And yes, any decent program will be available for Mac (always a good benchmark to work from). It's available as a .dmg for both OS X 10.5, Leopard - Universal and OS X 10.6, Snow Leopard - Universal.
Please click on the logo above to download a copy for yourself.
Monday 14th December 2009 19:39
It's advert time again... well, more the music that accompanies it. We're all made aware of all the savings and deals that around at Christmas time and every company is doing their utmost to brainwash us with them... well, John Lewis has succeeded.
They've picked 'Sweet Child o' Mine'... not by Guns N' Roses though but by Swedish Indie folk soloist, Victoria Bergsman. She was the former lead singer of the Concretes but has gone on to pursue a solo career under the name of 'Taken by Trees'. The act's debut album, 'Open Field' was released in June 2007 with their second album, 'East of Eden', released in September of this year. Both are available on the Rough Trade label. Although 'Sweet Child o' Mine' hasn't featured on either album, it has been released as a single and can be listened to on their website.
Please click on the very stylish logo above to access the site.
Sunday 13th December 2009 07:35
Having had such a hectic day yesterday, we'd both decided to chill out a little today, nevertheless, I made sure I was up in time to catch the repeat of Match of the Day this morning.
Tanya had made an itinerary in her head (it's often full of them) about what we would do today... it involved going into Emsworth to buy a cooked chicken for later on in the day and this was combined with a very refreshing walk around the Mill Pond... made it all the more special because it was a beautiful day.
Once home, it was a case of fulfilling the unenviable task of putting the tree up and all the other decorations that go with it. As a child, I used to love doing it because there was that anticipation and excitement back then - now I just find the whole hype and build-up to Christmas tiresome. Anyway, on the positive side, the tree looks lovely.
Anyway, although it's less than a fortnight to Christmas, I wanted to provide you with a link to a great website... it's a superb idea, and it's also superb for the environment too. Martin Cake, The Christmas Tree Man, was a tree surgeon for 20 years. One day, he hoped that every single Christmas tree wouldn't be thrown away, nor would artificial ones be made, they'd all be returned to the ground instead. It's a superb way of being almost carbon neutral (obviously you still have to drive to pick up and return your tree).
The thing is though, the trees can be kept alive during the rest of the year and then used for the festive period. They cannot guarantee that it will be the same tree each year because if a bird or animal has set up home in it, they will put nature first.
Depending on the type of tree, the prices are as low as £49 for a 4ft Norwegian Spruce and as high as £119 for an 8ft Fraser or Nordmann Fir. One other thing, they're based in Dorset so I'm not entirely sure how widespread their deliveries are.
Take a look at their website by clicking on the logo above.
Saturday 12th December 2009 09:29
Christmas. Don't you just love it? Thought not. Nevertheless, unless you choose a religion such as following Jehovah, which I don't, just in case you didn't know.
So why the subject of Christmas? Well, Tanya had decided that today would be the day where we bought everything we needed to buy AND buy a Christmas tree on top of all that. Fuck. A pleasant day ensued... actually, for a Christmas shopping day, it wasn't too bad but then again, we had arrived in Chichester for 09:30.
First port of call was House of Fraser and although we didn't find what we were looking for, a huge selection of designer clothing by Spanish brand 'Desigual' did catch my eye. It's not often I can say that distinctly different fashion does anything for me, yet the garments on show were phenomenally eyecatching. At the ridiculously young age of 20, Swiss born Thomas Meyer envisaged a future where people would dress in clothing designed to provoke positive emotions and would be affordable to the majority. In 1984 he started to achieve his goal and 25 years on, Desigual now employs over 1500 staff, spanning 25 nationalities.
I could go on and on about the company but I'd rather you looked at their excellent website, available in five languages. By the way, the literal meaning of Desigual is 'unequal' and, as their first slogan stated, Desigual is not the same. Click here to find out more.
Next stop was Hotel Chocolat... not necessarily to buy anything as such, just liked the look of the shop window and the fact that it was chocolate (the shop window wasn't chocolate was it because that would hardly make it a window - Ed). It's the first time I'd set foot in this particular shop... it's usually Thornton's that I find irresistible.
The company originally started as a catalogue-based business, with their range of exclusive chocolates being available to UK consumers for the first time. Founders, Angus Thirlwell and Peter Harris had only one thing in mind which was to provide a better type of chocolate rather than the mediocre selection that were available in supermarkets and the high street. Since then, they launched their award-winning website and have over 100,000 regular members to their very own Tasting Club.
To find out much more, please click on the logo above.
In between all of this, we did actually manage to do some shopping and to have a good look around, although by the time it was approaching noon, my stomach was telling me that unless we ate rather sharpish, Grumpy Gregory would find his way out of this shell and would start to hurl abuse at anything. Tanya was well and truly aware of this so we stopped off at the West Cornwall Pasty Co. for a traditional Cornish Pasty and a nice cup of Americano Coffee. At £10 for the lot, it was rather good value for money and we were served remarkably quick considering the queue was out into the street.
I won't go into the company's history, nevertheless you must check out their fantastic website by clicking on their logo above.
After we'd replenished lost energy from yomping around Chichester, we looked at many other shops, one of which was La Senza. Again, it has some very stylish clothing for women, most of which is very sassy. As the company state, their primary objective is to provide affordable lingerie products that are comfortable, romantic and sensual... although I'm in no position to confirm the first statement, the other two couldn't be nearer the truth.
Please click on the logo above to view the website on your own... phwoar!
Friday 11th December 2009 16:27
Oh my word... a good way into December and I haven't mentioned beer! "Something awry?" I hear you ask... no, apart from the fact that I'd had that stinking cold and the abscess as well. Not to worry though, I'm back to my usual drinking self and to make up for it, I've chosen two beers that I've had fairly recently to do write-ups on.
The first has a no-nonsense name, 'Irresistible Premium Ale' which is brewed by the Natural Brewing Co. They use three ingredients, barley, hops and spring water... nothing else, that is apart from patience and time.
Having said all of that though, I certainly wouldn't class the beer as irresistible... more like exceptional. This 4.3% ABV ale has such a fresh, clean, citrus taste and really is delicious. Brewed in a traditional tower brewery, gravity alone helps the gentle infusion of the highest quality farm assured barley, aromatic hop flowers and purest spring water. The simplistic beer label design is rather tasty too...
To find out more about the Chichester-based brewery, please click on the bottle design above.
Okay... can the second real ale live up to the review of the first? The answer is, it can! I'd only tried one other beer by this brewery before 'Pure UBU', and although I liked it a lot, it didn't grab me by the goolies (I should hope not! - Ed). The beer in question this time is called 'Mad Goose', brewed by Warwickshire-based Purity Brewing Co.
WOW! What a beer, absolutely delicious... I could easily imagine getting nicely merry outside a pub on a beautiful summer's evening... no problem! The ale is named after one of the fearsome geese that patrol the brewery (they always say that geese are by far the best guard dogs). It's a light copper coloured pale ale, brewed with Maris Otter Malt, Caragold and Wheat Malt with Hallertau bittering hops, along with Cascade and Willamette aroma hops. It has citrus overtones with a distinct grapefruit aroma and has a great zesty hop character, with the mixture of malts and hops giving it a fantastic tanginess. I cannot recommend this beer enough! Oh yes, it also won Gold in the Champion Best Bitters (4.1 – 4.5%) category at the SIBA National Beer Competition, March 2009.
For more information about the brewery and their range of ales, please click on the logo above.
Thursday 10th December 2009 14:06
Passionate about personalisation ever since 1980, Xpres have been the UK’s number one supplier of digital transfer systems and consumables and their depth of knowledge and experience within this field is unsurpassed.
An Xpres transfer system can either provide the foundation for a new business in personalisation or is the perfect add-on business opportunity by enabling you to service the high demand for low volume runs of personalised clothing, promotional products and business gifts.
They also offer very affordable start-up packages from as little as £1000 which isn't bad if you have a large enough company to swallow such a cost, given that the initial overheads could be easily swallowed within the first year of production.
For more information about the fantastic range that Xpres have available, please click on their logo above.
Wednesday 9th December 2009 19:25
Today's blog has taken me an awful lot of time to compile... it's called 'The F Factor'. 'F' can be interpreted in two ways, both for 'Font' and the fact that there are many absolutely superb and very contemporary fonts that begin with the letter F.
The choice of fonts was relatively simple, although finding out which foundry each one 'belonged' to wasn't as easy, nor was locating the logos for each one. If you rollover any one of the fonts, the image will swap out to reveal the foundry that sells that particular font... eight different fonts and eight different foundries... wonder how geeky some of you might be by trying to guess the foundry of each one.
Anyway, I've thoroughly enjoyed compiling today's blog... not only that, I've been given a free font in the process. Why? I hear you ask... well, it took some time trying to find out what font the Feliciano Type Foundry used for their logo - it turns out that the owner of foundry, Mário Feliciano, designed the font for his own personal use and may choose to sell it one day, it's called Chiado.
Tuesday 8th December 2009 22:36
Well, submitting two more abstract images into the 2nd Projected Digital Image League Competition at Havant Camera Club didn't prove quite as fruitful as the first time... if you scroll down to last Tuesday's blog, the image on the left, which I'd entitled 'Nauitcoloured' gained a staggering 4/10 (the lowest mark I can ever recall being given at the club) and the image on the right, 'Serenity' gained quite a respective 7½/10 in comparison! Anyway, enough about that... I need to have a rant now.
Right, here's the thing... I'm sure many of you who are experiencing advancing years like myself, often ask yourselves things like, 'what on Earth did we do before _____ was invented?' Yes, you could insert many many incredible inventions into that small blank space, especially stuff that just wasn't on the consumer market when you were a kid... home computers, satellite navigation, microwaves, mobile phones, digital cameras, DVD players, CDs, video recorders (showing my age here). Even I'm astounded as to how quickly technology has advanced since I was born so it's even harder to relate that my parents were around before the first motorway in Britain was opened!
So, where am I going with this? Well, I have problems with some 'inventions', purely because I just cannot even begin to comprehend their benefit. I'm talking about hair straighteners here. Not for one minute am I even remotely jealous of anyone having hair because, believe me, not for one minute do I miss having it. The major problem I have with them is the, "Oh my God, I just cannot get my hair right today" and even when it is 'right', it still looks the fucking same as when you first starting to fucking 'straighten' it. It's just a lot of pissing about and wasting your precious life for fuck all in return. GHD? Good Hair Day? More like Gullible Halfwitted Dickheads more like.
Anyway, if shit like this gets you all hot under the collar (usually does when your hair sets on fire), please click on the logo above to find out more.
Monday 7th December 2009 21:09
Now then, I may cause a huge rift with today's blog... I'm talking ice cream. Some could argue until they're blue in the face as to which ice cream is the king of all ice creams. Some may say Ben & Jerry's is the ultimate, others may beg to differ saying that Häagen-Dazs is the dog bollocks... however, very little comes close to Carte D'Or in my opinion. Carte D'Or is actually a product of Wall's ice cream, who are owned by Unilever... nevertheless, what an amazing range of shockingly indulgent ice cream flavours they offer...
Their newest flavour, Caramel Cinnamon Waffle is ridiculously addictive, along with other ones where just the name alone tempts your taste buds... Greek Yoghurt & Honey, Dulce de Leche; an irresistible caramel ice cream combined with a smooth caramel flavour sauce, topped with caramel flavour white chocolate curls then we have Crema di Mascarpone; smooth ice cream made with authentic mascarpone, swirled with red berry sauce and sprinkled with pistachios. As well as all of those, there are the more standard flavours such as Strawberry & Yoghurt Délice, Chocolate Inspiration and Vanilla. I've not tasted the whole range, mainly because I'm slowly working my way through them all, although I can confirm that Vanilla, Crema di Mascarpone and the Caramel Cinnamon Waffle are absolutely delicious.
Please click on the Carte D'Or logo above to find out more.
Sunday 6th December 2009 19:00
Tonight, we managed to catch a repeat of the eighth episode of the BBC's major new 10-part series entitled 'Life'. Narrated by the one and only David Attenborough, the first installment was brought to us on the 12th October. Four years in the making and filmed in HD, the series has illustrated the extraordinary lengths and special strategies to which animals and plants have evolved in order to survive; what Charles Darwin termed, 'the struggle for existence'. The series has already covered 'Challenges of Life', 'Reptiles and Amphibians', 'Mammals', 'Fish', 'Birds', 'Insects', 'Hunters and Hunted' and 'Creatures of the Deep'.
Each episode is an hour long which includes a ten-minute 'making of' at the end, showing the 'Life on Location' film crew and the lengths they go to to capture the extreme behaviour of living things. This can often be as fascinating as the main programme. Tomorrow's episode is the penultimate one, 'Plants' and will be shown at 21:00.
The majority of the previous episodes can be viewed via the BBC iPlayer on the Life website - be stunned by some absolutely incredible footage by clicking on the programme's opening graphic above.
Saturday 5th December 2009 12:45
We were both up and about reasonably early this morning, to the point where we actually fitted a walk around the Mill Pond in... yes, I haven't said that for quite some time. On the way home, we stopped off at Westbourne Bakery and bought a loaf, ready for some bacon sandwiches that I was going to make for our lunch. I just managed to make them in time to sit down and hopefully enjoy the Premiership clash between Portsmouth v Burnley, televised on Sky Sports 1. If Pompey were to win this game at home, it would mean that they'd be off the bottom of the league since the end of August, for their goal difference was superior that of Wolverhampton Wanderers, who were sat above them, only three points separating the two sides.
To say that the first half was frustrating is a total understatement. For a team to have long spells of possession and not score is ridiculous. Not only that, Pompey's stand-in 'keeper, Begovic, pulled off two world-class saves throughout the match. All-in-all, Burnley mustered up far more goal attempts, had slightly more possession, picked up less yellow cards and offsides but just didn't have the killer instinct. Having said that though, when Aruna Dindane pathetically missed a penalty in the 32nd minute, I didn't think for one minute that they would recover and go on to win the match, however, in the 65th minute, super substitute, Nwankwo Kanu placed a precise pass for Hermann Hreidarsson to fire home a driven shot into the back of the net.
The game stayed at 1-0 until the 84th minute when Dindane finally managed to make amends for his appallingly bad penalty miss earlier in the game, by netting a superb downward header from a free-kick that both Hreidarsson and O'Hara were involved in. It was Avram Grant's first league match after his return to the club earlier in the week. A 2-0 victory was a perfect start... let's hope it continues.
Friday 4th December 2009 20:30
Over the years, I've been a member of the National Trust, making good use of what it provides. Whilst I lived in the north west of England, there were very few places of interest within the area that I didn't visit, and since moving down south, Tanya and I have visited an awful lot down here too, although they're much more spread out compared with the relative intensity in the north west. The membership gives you incredible savings, especially when many of the places have car park charges on top of admission fees.
The organisation was originally founded in 1895 by three Victorian philanthropists who had become increasingly concerned with the way that industrial Britain was eating away at the heritage of the countryside. No sooner had they began purchase gardens and houses in danger of being destroyed, they were being gifted properties around the country by other like-minded people who felt the same way.
Today, the Trust is Britain's largest landowner with nearly 250,000 hectares of countryside in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (Scotland has its own National Trust) and owns more than 700 miles of coastline.
Anyway, a couple of months ago, the Trust made the radical decision of updating their branding. They have now dropped the 'The' from the organisation's name and have opted for lower case letters and some spangly new colour swatches, in the hope that it will attract all ages and sectors of society. They have even had a bespoke font designed to complement the famous oak leaf symbol which has been enlarged so that it becomes a much more recognisable brand.
The company behind the logo makeover is Wolff Olins, who are one of the top five marketing agencies within the country... also responsible for the extremely controversial London 2012 Olympics logo.
For much more information about the organisation, please click on their updated logo swatches above.
Thursday 3rd December 2009 16:52
Tonight, I made a tasty evening meal indeed. One of the ingredients was a particular cheese that I'd never tried before, Taleggio. If I'd gone off the smell alone, I'd have never ever eaten it because it really did envelop the whole house, the smell was that disgusting. I love cheese, although I'm not as keen on the blues or the softer ones... I can stomach practically everything else though.
It's a washed rind Italian cheese, named after the area it's produced, Val Taleggio, an Alpine valley in the Italian region of Lombardy, split between the provinces of Bergamo and Lecco. This cheese may well be one of the oldest soft cheeses, dating back to the 10th century and beyond, and despite it's overpowering aroma, it's comparatively mild tasting, with a slightly fruity tang. I may well feature other cheeses in the future, especially as we may well purchase a cheese wheel as one of our Christmas snacks.
For more information about Taleggio cheese and its history, please click on the logo above.
Wednesday 2nd December 2009 07:38
At last, I'd actually started to feel Human again and actually went back to work. The first night in four where I hadn't woken up choking on my own mucus... however... something very painful had started to niggle at me... a tooth abscess of all horrors.
You may recall that I visited the dentist earlier in the year and had needed to have a filling in one of my molars. Well, on my last six-monthly check-up, back in September, my dentist had noticed that quite a significant part of the filling she'd done had disintegrated, leaving a fairly large gap for solids and liquids to find their way in. At the time she asked whether it was causing any discomfort which was met with a resounding 'no'. Little did I know, some few weeks later, I'd start to suffer the first twinges from it, to the point where the pain from it this morning was very painful indeed.
By midday, the pain had became unbearable at times, and each shooting pain was becoming far more intense than the last and I was wincing with pain. By the time it came to driving home, the pain was totally and utterly excruciating and regardless of the fact that I'd managed to book an emergency appointment for tomorrow, it would have to be moved forward, for there wasn't a cat in hell's chance of me surviving this sort of pain for a further 24 hours.
Thankfully (I think they must have detected the sheer hysteria in my voice), they managed to put me into a slot at the end of the day... although I did feel like using a few choice words when the receptionist said, "If you definitely think it's an emergency, we can fit you in". Another one from when I first called was, "You should have rang first thing this morning and we'd have been able to book you in today". That's a bit like a hospital saying, "Sorry, we can't perform life-saving heart surgery until tomorrow because you didn't have your cardiac arrest until 11:30".
So, it turned out to be what I thought, an abscess and a 5-day prescription of Amoxicillin fig.1, along with 400mg capsules of the painkiller, Ibuprofen fig.2, (scientific pictures of both, featured above). Once the infection has cleared, I then have to go back in on the 17th of this month to have x-rays which will hopefully determine the extent of the infection and whether the tooth will progress to a third life or not. Health, it's all about feeling well or feeling shit.
Tuesday 1st December 2009 12:19
Yes, death was still staring me in the face... reluctantly, I felt it best to take another day off, in the hope that I would start to feel much better.
I did manage to do a bit of work and also had the time to submit my two entries into the second PDI (projected digital image) Competition at Havant Camera Club. Tanya was trying to persuade me into entering at least one image that wasn't an abstract, whereas I'm not going to become all serious about it (for a change!) and enter abstracts in every round, just to hear the views from the different judges.
For the moment, I've only included relatively small images of both entries...
Later on, BBC1 showed the second part of their thrilling new drama, 'Paradox', starring Tamsin Outhwaite (DI Rebecca Flint), Emun Elliott (Dr Christian King), Mark Bonnar (DS Ben Holt) and Chike Okonkwo (DC Callum Gada).
Astrophysicist, Dr Christian King, keeps receiving images that appear to be transmitted from space. Each image is almost abstract and is one of the vital pieces of a catastrophic event that hasn't taken place, yet each image is from the future. It's as if the transmitter of these images wants the puzzle to be solved...
Please click on the logo above to view the latest episode and to find out much more about the programme and its cast (by the way, the font is called 'Function' by the words+pictures foundry).