Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Mrs B the shoe snob and my failure to talk in tongues

Not sure what happened last week, the BlackLOG received the least hits and fewest comments in almost a year....That was after what seemed to be a bit of a buzz regarding my pending foray into the world of fashion with some genuine excitement appearing to be building up. I guess the expectation proved too much....Oh well, pushing on......audience or no audience. This week the story of how Mrs B got broke and I don't mean financially...

Some 2 weeks after "twisting" her ankle, Mrs B was still limping around, with no sign of improvement. The point when she slipped on the stairs and jammed her good foot (sorry, previously good foot) into the wall to save her bad foot, was probably the breaking point last straw. Disturbed by a loud noise I ran to find Mrs B sobbing in a crumpled heap, half way down the stairs. (Unlike the Muppets there was no indecision about being half way up or even half way down the stairs. Unless Mrs B had managed an impressive twist with double back flip, she was definitely coming down). Now Mrs B is a tough cookie and does not produce tears easily (sometimes I have to be extra mean just to get a glassy look across her eyes....), so this was not a good sign. I did manage to finally get her to commit to going to the doctors....

Two days later Mrs B actually got around to hopping down to one of her Doctors at work.

Shock horror, turns out that the twisted ankle was actually a suspected fracture and so Mrs B was dispatched to see a Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon. A couple of x-rays later and we received the news that Mrs B had sustained a lateral Malleolar (Weber B) fracture. Mrs B was intrigued to know how she had managed to get around on a broken leg. I think the consultant was genuinely impressed that she had indeed managed to walk (well hobble really) on it for two weeks without any support other than Ibuprofen. Although he was not so impressed when I jumped in and answered Mrs B's question before he had a chance to respond. My explanation that :

"The Fibula is not the main supporting bone of the leg but a backup for the Tibia....." (I'd looked up some stuff on the internet)

While being fairly simplistic, it beat his overcomplicated medically layered monstrosity of an explanation. I didn't have a clue what he was on about and most of the words did not come up on any WEB search (well certainly not how I was trying to spell them). He had the cheek to chuck me a dirty look, while Mrs B gave me an embarrassed "shhhhh". She probably would have given me a discrete kick as well but fortunately I had positioned myself on her bad leg side.....

So Mrs B is now walking with the aid of an Air Cast, which is useful for mobility and getting Mrs B a seat on the train, but as a fashion accessory is proving to be a bit of a nightmare, especially as we have a Wedding and a Spring Ball (Other than the 'hop' and possibly some well orchestrated one legged 'po-going', I think Mrs B might be sitting out most of the dancing) to attend, in the next few weeks. Since high heels are currently out of the question, Mrs B decided she wanted to find a pair of ballet pumps for the events but not just plain ones, she wanted a bit of glitter to cheer herself up.

After traipsing up and down Bishops Stortford High street and failing to find anything suitable in the high-end shoe shops I suggested she try ShoeZone - (a cheap and cheerless basement bargain shop for the not so well heeled). This did not go down well. I pointed out that she had nothing to lose and so begrudgingly she limped towards Shoezone. A surreptitious look around to make sure that no one saw us and she bundled me inside.....She was then mortified to find exactly the type of shoe that she was looking for within seconds and at just £9.99. The shoe shop snob was rather reluctant to buy them. I pointed out that at that price she could afford to wear them a couple of times and then throw them away. She shuffled up to the counter, paid cash so that the purchase could not be traced back to her, refused the offer of a ShoeZone bag and then burst into the street trying to look like she had come out of anywhere but ShoeZone.

McG decides there are to be no photos of the Air Cast...
"Move along, nothing to see here..."

The lastes fashion statement - however
not currently avialable in ShoeZone.....

My Own Health scare
During this time I've had a bit of a health scare myself, namely a growth at the bottom of my mouth. The first question I found myself asking, was it better to see a Doctor or a Dentist?.....I decided on the dentist, as they get to see all sorts of things of an oral nature while doctors have the potential to get side tracked by lots of different parts of the anatomy.

Typical of such things, before I called for an appointment it was growing out of control, I thought I was going to gain a second tongue. Which, while odd, would have been pretty cool. I could have done the whole biblical-talking in tongues and everything. As it was, as soon as I made the appointment the growth stared receding. Fortunately there was enough left by the appointment for the dentist to confirm it was just a common skin tag which would vanish in good time...A quick descale of the old dentures and a follow-up booking, just to make sure everything was fine, and I was out of there. I suspect If I had tried to see the Doctor I would have still been waiting for an appointment....I wonder what my dentist is like with broken bones? I might try sending Mrs B along for a second opinion and a quick toenail scrub....

Yoga playing with fire....
After being berated for failing to make the required Yoga shape in a recent session my comment to my Yogress

"The problem is It's like taking a Ferrari Engine (I.e my body) to a Skoda garage (Her Yoga Class) ...."

Did not go down well. I received some severe adjustments for that one I can tell you.

Not that I ever learn to keep my gob shut. In the very same class, we were told to use the wall to help maintain the shape. My shape was again far from perfect, but in my opinion not bad for someone with early onset rigor mortis. Once again I received some public criticism to which I responded to with:

"I can't help it if you've provided me with the wrong shaped wall."

This was met with a scathing look, which could probably turn an iron bar into a molten pool of metal but had absolutely no effect on my rigid muscles which continued their inflexible approach to living...

Music problems
Bad news for any jukebox fans - currently I can't add new tracks or even change the order. I fear if this does not change I will have to remove it. Damn it was all going so well...

Have a great week, I'll just leave you with a few photo's taken localy

Who says Bishop Storford is not a desirable area to
live in? A swan nesting in the center of town...

Look a second swan, do the maths
1 +1 is going to = Many

Is McG the worlds first self brushing cat?

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Guest post - Greeting from the Wicked Witch of the West

Those of you expecting a normal BlackLOG this week, will find it very different, as I have traded blog places with the lovely Amy. It's a bit like those body swap films but without a huge Hollywood budget or for that matter any B list stars that you almost recognise...Amy is attempting to cover her week in a BlackLOG style, while over at "Confessions of a fashion editor on sugar" I'm trying to revolutionise the fashion world.....

Just a quick note, after limping around for two weeks I eventually forced Mrs B to go to the doctors. Diagnoses one broken leg, ouch, way to go Mrs B. Full horrific details next week*.

* I felt this news was not appropriate to break on a fashion Blog, although I must admit Mrs B does make the Air Boot, that she gets to wear, look hot**.......

**I might have exaggerated, more of a lukewarm...possibly bordering on tepid....

Without further interruption please give your full support to



Good morning, class. Today, we’re going to look at the life and times of a strange young lady we came across on a strange thing called a ‘web site’…


I suppose that I should probably tell y’all a little bit about myself before I proceed to bore you to death with details of my week. Because, y’know, it’ll all make a lot more sense that way. Maybe.

So. Me. I’m Amy (although I answer to “Alice”, “Saffy”, “Dustbin”1, and “Oi you” as well), and I’m an 18-year-old student and blogger from NE England, who quite often likes to pretend to be a fashion journalist of some description2. I also have a slight problem with ‘Silent Witness’, and the worst taste in music in history. Fact. (My contribution to the Blacklog playlist is ‘Mountains’ by Lonestar. No, you haven’t heard of it.)

{Sorry to Interrupt, BlackLOG here. I'm afraid Amy's choice of music appears to have broken the Jukebox, so no Lonestar I'm afraid }

Are you sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin.

So. This week, my life has slowly become weirder and weirder. I have a Theatre Studies performance exam tomorrow3, and I’ve literally spent all week in a huge, stressy tiz.

It’s not too much fun, really!

I’m playing three characters in one scene, which is possibly the most stupid thing I have ever agreed to do. It’s also one of the most offensive. My lovely ‘friends’ (*cough cough*) have cast me as the Wicked Witch of the West, and the ugly stepsister, and the mean, nasty ex-girlfriend…

I’m really not that mean. I promise.

I am, however, very experienced at being the Wicked Witch of the West…

(I only put that picture in because I know that my friend, Sarah4, will kill me for it.)

So, basically, this horrible, horrible exam has involved four months of hell, and a month of manic rehearsing and panicking. I’m one of those annoying people who becomes manically stressed at the drop of a hat (a witch’s hat), and so this thing is making me maaaaaaaaaaaaad.

Also, horribly organised.

This is the side-effect of Headteacher’s Daughter Syndrome, one of the many genetic afflictions I apparently suffer from5.

It also means that I am actually incapable of spending a weekend at this time of year as an actual weekend. Because, y’know, that would be way too conventional. I’m therefore currently in manic-revision mode…

Which is really boring for y’all6 to read about.

Instead, here’s a video, in which I demonstrate my manic-revision-type nature, as well as a bunch of stuff about a campaign I’ve been running. And a pond. Hooooboy, you need to see that pond…



Are you taking notes, class? Because there will be a test at the end.

Especially about the pond. Blink, and you’ll miss it. So make sure you watch closely…


You liked the pond? Awesome. I knew you’d like the pond.

What else, then? Hmmm. Well, I’ve been laptop shopping.

Taking my brother laptop shopping was literally the worst thing I ever did. He’s one of those tech-types. I’m one of those not-tech-at-all-despite-having-a-blog-types…

Oh deary dear me.

For example: to me, this is what RAM is –

To him, it’s something horribly complicated, that I still don’t understand.

If, at any point, anyone would like to inform our naïve blogger what exactly it is that RAM is, in plain, simple, normal-person speak, then she would be most grateful. Thank you.

 To be honest, though, that’s about as interesting as it gets at the moment.

Thanks for taking the time to read my random, random babblings. Although I like to pretend to write sensible, serious-type things (like fashion)(HAAAA!!), most of what I write winds up quite a bit like this… so please, do come along to J I’m nice. I don’t bite.



 - A -


Explanations of more confusing parts of this lesson may be found below. We hope you found them interesting…


1. My Dad’s a cockney. Dustbin lids = kids. Over the years, ‘Dustbin lids’ became ‘dustbins’, and, to be honest, I’m so used to being called it now that I don’t even notice… *Rolls eyes*

2. Of the kind who knows bugger-all about fashion… *Rolls eyes again*

3. Wednesday 21st April 2010, in case you’re a time-traveller from the future, and are wondering when and where you are.

4. She’s the pretty one, in the fairy outfit. I’m the other one. In the witch’s hat.

5. Others include – academic rebellion, innate distaste for scientists, Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy obsession, and terrible, terrible, terrible music taste

6. See above: bad music taste. I blame the “Y’all”ing on Natalie Maines. Go Google her. It’s less embarrassing for me to make you do this obtusely. *Shifty eyes*


Thank you Amy, a big round of appluase for a very talented young blogger

If anyone wants to join the social experiment  and Blog swop then :-

  • If you want to save fashion, after the BlackLOG car crash, go see Amy.

  • If you want to have ago at posting a badly worded, all over the place blog, which attempts to cover your week in an almost humouras way, then contact me....
Class dismissed

Blogswap - A BlackLOG guide to Fashion

The post that was over at fashion editor om sugar....

Hi, I'm visiting from over at BlackLOG and have agreed to do a Blog swap with Amy this week. I freely admit that I'm way out of my depth on a fashion-based blog and it is certainly an interesting challenge for a fashion luddite like myself - in fact, I'm currently so far out of my comfort zone that I'm looking down on planets that no one else on earth has seen yet. I'm also struggling to come to terms with Amy's almost pathological sense of organisation. The BlackLOG likes to take a more random approach to blogging, mixing topics and events in a huge blender, before spewing them in front of the reader, with the effect that it's like looking at a smorgasbord of life seen through a kaleidoscope. I'm sure you will be fine but if you can avoid throwing up I would appreciate it.

Preparation - not something I'm particularly hot on but since I'm a guest this week I thought I should show a bit of willing:

I've been listening to Fashion (David Bowie)

Fashion! turn to the left
Fashion! turn to the right
Oooh, fashion!

Listen to me - don't listen to me
Talk to me - don't talk to me.......
but it would be nice if you left a comment.....

I would play the song for you but Amy, the little minx, has neglected to leave me anything to play it on (Amy feel free to grab the code off of the BlackLOG for the jukebox)....In case you were wondering, while I have enjoyed the nostalgia trip that the song brought me, it did absolutely nothing to inspire me in any fashion sense.

Let's start with some basics. What do I know about fashion?......Hmmm.......the answer is an unequivocal "Not a lot" but don't let that worry you. A lack of knowledge about a subject has never stopped me expressing an opinion. I do have a favourite fashion quote though (I.e the one I just looked up on Google) :-

"Fashion fades, style is eternal" -Yves Saint Laurent* 1958

* Didn't he play for West Brom in the late 1950's?

This sounds good.... I can't help but think it would work so much better for me, if only I actually had some style to replace my lack of fashion.....

Probably a more appropriate quote would be:

"Fashion fades, randomness leaves its mark all over the place" - BlackLOG 2010

So, with a deep breath and eyes firmly shut, let me begin my guide to fashion....

UK fashion
Last week the UK has been mainly wearing a rather fetching Volcano Ash number, so fine it is like gossamer (whatever that is), especially imported from Iceland at great expense.** For once, we have edged ahead of the French and Italians, in the fashion stakes, they are, however, expected to follow the trend shortly. It was such a big event that people delayed their holidays, refusing to fly until the "exciting" phenomenon had passed. Quite frankly, I can't see what all the fuss is about. Rather like the Emperor's New Clothesthere was nothing really to see....

** Can someone check that Gordon Brown has not traded the whole of the Icelandic finance debt to the UK, for what is basically a load of dirt? I wouldn't put it passed him. He did, after all, swap the UK gold reserve for what amounted to a handful of beans and a pantomime horse.....

Fashion in the B lackLOG house

The only times that I have ever come close to being in fashion is purely accidental. It's a bit like a stopped clock - at some point it's going to be of the moment but it will be brief. Still, if you wait long enough it will come back full circle. Take my flying helmet and goggle combination (used for skiing not walking down Bishop Stortford's high street). It's probably about 90 years out of date, so it could be said to be long over due for a comeback.

Even I have to admit that it does not have many redeeming features other than it keeps me warm and it makes Mrs B laugh when the flaps stream out behind me on the slopes, like a long eared dog with it's head out of a car window. This also covers an important area regarding my philosophy on life - where possible make them laugh, especially when you can't make them swoon....that's not to say I don't have a few Fashion Rules up my Cowl style Sleeve:-

- Don't wear white socks with sandals, in fact don't wear any socks with sandals.

- Pyjamas should never be worn out of the house, unless you hear the bin men coming and you have forgotten to put the bin out.

- Budgie smugglers (men's tight-fitting Speedo-style swimwear) are a big no no, unless worn by extremely fat people for comic effect - even then, best not viewed after you have recently eaten...

- Anything made of polyester.

- Pop socks - Worn by women when they are fairly certain*** they will be not be having sex. Much loved by Mother Theresa, that well known nun or, in the context of this sentence, it could well read "none"...
*** "Fairly certain" - I doubt even David Blunkett would go there.

- Muffin tops the female equivalent of builder's bottom.....

Other than these simple rules, anything goes, although please don't expect me to notice......

You may be shocked to discover that other than some watches, my wedding ring - white gold****drizzled over gold gold, with three inlaid diamonds, to compliment Mrs B's engagement ring - and some novelty cufflinks, for the odd occasions when Mrs B forces me to wear a dress shirt, my jewellery trunk***** is empty. No earrings, nipple flanges****** , nose studs (they just look like zits to me) , belly bars or even a Prince Albert - You can look it up for yourself if you don't know what it is....

**** I'm still not convinced it's not just silver with a fancy pants name

***** Some of the watches are quite big....

****** OK you got me, that's to do with drilling rigs. However since I also know very little about drilling rigs (and strongly suspect anyone reading this won't either) I feel I can legitimately slip it into this article.

My hair seems to lead a life of it's own*******. No matter what I try and do with it, it just clings to the top of my head, mocking me. Then miraculously for around 1/2 an hour it actually looks good, at which point I know it's time to get a haircut or put on a hat, because after 31 minutes it starts to rapidly deteriorate....

******* Probably far more interesting than mine. One day I will have to sit it down and get it to contribute to the BlackLOG, I'm sure it will triple my readership.

Getting ready to go out
Generally for me this involves arriving at my clothes cupboard about 10 minutes before we are due to go out, grabbing the first thing that looks clean and heading for the door. More often than not it will end with disapproving looks and tutts from Mrs B - if this includes raised eyebrows and shaking of head I return to the cupboard and start again.

On the odd occasion (Please note very rare) when I have thought about it and have a particular garment in mind it might end in a frantic rush around the house looking in all the wrong places until Mrs B takes pity on me and points me in the right direction.

Mrs B
Considering what a great relationship we have, when it comes to fashion Mrs B and I are like chalk and cheese, we even have a few fundamental differences when it comes to dressing up the house.

Mrs B goes for the cushions, candles, drapes, throws etc...and does not understand why I don't get excited by such things. My attempts at draping things lovingly around the house (socks, underwear, damp towels etc..) are met with mild hostility. In my opinion if it does not have flashing lights, wires (don't tell me I can't move with the times, I'm embracing the wireless world as we long as you don't count the plug attached to the wall at one end and my PC at the other), push buttons or slides I rapidly lose interest. In short I like things that you can do things with. Take the new coffee table that we have on order - I insisted that we pay extra on top of the already hideously breath-stealing amount (even after the huge discount that would bale out most reasonably-sized countries) for the height-adjustable version. I have no doubt that after the initial playing around with it, it will be set in one position and remain like that for the rest of its natural life (which, in my mind is at least 20 years but in Mrs B's is perhaps 6 months until she finds a similar model which is identical in every way, except 2 shades lighter, and thus far more suitable and desirable.....Aaaarrggghhh) I just need the reassurance that those extra centimetres of adjustment are there in case of emergencies.

My main contribution to dressing up the house has been to source as big a TV and as many surround speakers as I can get away with (currently 7.1, the .1 being a subwoofer. In an ideal world I would like (need) 9.2 or more) Oh and covering things....examples of my covering things activities include :-

New dining room table :- three weeks and 1 day after Mrs B's new dining room table arrived it was covered by a full size air-hockey table - in fairness, it was her surprise Christmas present and although she did not strictly ask for it, I had thought I was onto a winner, because her little face always used to light up whenever we come across one when we were out and about. I have subsequently been informed that the key word here is "Out", as in not "in" our house...

Kitchen refurb - When we had the kitchen revamped, a few years ago, there was a corner section of wall left between the wall mounted cabinets and work surface. Mrs B insisted on having matching panelling which I have to admit looked very smart. Within 4 days Mrs B came home to find that I had sourced and installed a TV that fitted the gap exactly, completely blocking her panelling....

Mrs B used to show me everything that she was going to buy but this invariably ended up with one of the following conversations:

Mrs B -"Do you like it?"
Me - "Not really."
Mrs B - "I'm sure you will get used to it."
Sales assistant - "Will that be cash or credit card?"


Mrs B - "Do you like it?"
Me - "I think it looks great."
Mrs B - "I'm not sure, I don't think it suits me."
Sales assistant - "Will you be taking the item?"
Mrs B - "No, I think I'll leave it."

Nowadays our fashion conversations go more like:

Me - "Is that new?"
Mrs B - "What this old thing? I've had it for ages."

I did manage to talk Mrs B into buying a new coat before Christmas, which has proved a big hit with almost everyone who has seen it - Surely that's enough fashion success for one life time.....Can I collect my fashion pension now... ?

Other member of the BlackLOG Hosehold.
Despite my best efforts to persuade them otherwise, two members of the household continue the cruel and unfashionable practice of wearing real fur.
Mischief favours black, which she feels is slimming.

while McG insists on wearing what can only
be described as the equivalent of a shell suit...baggy
and shapeless in a sort of reddish beige. He
claims it is comfortable....

Even more disgrace as ElleGee our BMW takes every
opportunity to parade around topless, the hussy

So that's about it, and since I've tried really, really really******** hard to stick to one topic as a reward to myself I can't resist mucking about with the schedule Amy sent me.

******** Have you regular readers of Amy noticed she seems to like things in three's, like LoveLoveLove, I'm assuming it's not a nervous stutter...

Mondays and Wednesdays are fashion,
Tuesdays and Thursdays are whatever I fancy posting about,
Fridays are Feel-Goods,
Saturdays are local-based and
Sundays are Alphabetti Spaghetti

.....Did I mention that I think Amy might be pathologically organised.....

Let's see. Sundays is Alphabetti Spaghetti and Amy has been methodically going through the alphabet one letter at a time.... So although it's not Sunday and the letter B has already gone....

Today's non-Sunday Alphabetti Spaghetti letter is brought to you by the letter:

BlackLOG - the name of my blog, quite simply a combination of my surname and the word Blog, not very imaginative but I like the fact it can be used as a Brand...

B as in Mrs B - The love of my life, we have been together for 25 years and married for 16 (Yeah do the maths, I kept her waiting for almost 10 years, shame on me).

Bishops Stortford - Our home for the last 12 years.

Beatles - The best band in the world.

Bang Bang - B.A. Robertson the first single I ever purchased. What can I say? I was young....

Boney M - Night Flight to Venus, the first album I ever bought - Oh, the shame, I would so like to say it was something far cooler but it wasn't. It was the first of a huge collection of music, over 3,000 CD's and now countless MP3 downloads - The latest album I've downloaded is the new Scouting for Girls "Everybody Wants to be on TV" - it's a bit poppy but great fun and I like it. They are also the next band I've got tickets to see live. The last band I saw was Vampire Weekend back in January.

Blue-ray - Still not convinced that this is not a bit of a con. The discs take an age to load and I just don't see a great deal of difference between a DVD that has been upscaled, even on our 58" TV.

Bugger this, never again - Amy's current thoughts about Blog swapping.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Pressure and a social experiment

It's been a quiet week in the BlackLOG household, with Mrs B still suffering from a badly swollen and bruised foot. I'm sad to say that both cats took advantage of Mrs B's distressed plight and like the wild animals, in their long and distant ancestry, they sensed her weakness and totally conned her into giving them a second dinner... Not such an issue for Mischief as she just vom's up any excess (yes we have a bulimic cat) but a huge step back for McG's diet.

McG proudly shows off his latest catch

This hiatus in household activities does give me the opportunity to turn the spotlight on a couple of our friends. Regular readers may remember the lead up to Christmas where Mrs B decided to make life interesting when she decided that we needed, at short notice, to decorate a large part of the house, replace the fire place, get a new stair carpet and get a new sofa. Boy did that lead to some fun for us.... Well, not to be out done Mala and Craig have decided to raise the pressure bar and have undertaken the following :-

Move house - OK that's not totally unusual but when you are renting and looking to buy, the last thing you want to have to do is move from one rented property to another. To make it more interesting the new property was just down an alleyway, a short walk but not wide enough to get much of the furniture down. Vinnie the “pillow assassin” (a future potential Olympic sport) and myself helped and hindered in equal measures....

Got engaged - Again this happens all the time but not often at the top of a mountain in the Lake District in a force 9 gale. OK I may have made the bit up about the strong wind but from what I heard Mala's acceptance more than made up for any lack of wind as it engulfed Craig before he had even finished asking. Just as well he had not just bent down to fiddle with his rucksack and ask :

Craig - "Mala I was just wondering if you would....."

Mala - "Yes, yes yes! Ooooh I'm getting married"

Craig - Producing a thermos flask "Like a cup of tea?"

I understand, as is traditional at such times, there were a few tears shed but I think that's because Mala was jumping all over Craig's toes in her excitement.

Craig "One minuet I'm kneeling down getting out my 
thermos flask, the next thing I'm getting married .....

Now I'm not saying Craig is competitive but he did set a little quiz for us with the announcement :

1. Where did I propose to Mala?

2. What would a new fiancée naturally do?

 A : Stay in her fiancé's arms, enrapt in newly engaged bliss or

 B : Leave her fiancé for two weeks? (Try being creative with that... ;-))

3.How soon can you arrange a marriage and not lose your sanity?

Mrs B won with the following entry :

1. Clearly you were Tango-ing during the tea dances at the Georges Cinq hotel in Paris and instead of that last dramatic roll from your arms as Mala "dies" at the end of the dance, you*.......................No? What do you mean, a mountain top in a force 9 gale?

* Craig and Mala met at the Bishops Stortford School for special needs dancers - I was dragged along for a number of sessions but expelled myself after my killer moves proved almost lethal to all around ...

2. B. Duh - obviously skiing with us is a far more attractive proposition...................what can I say? We're irresistible.

3. I'd think anything in the, oh I don't know, 6 week timeframe would be certifiable.

Getting married - again not an unusual thing for engaged people to do, except they decided they were going to get married as mentioned above, leaving just 6 weeks to get everything sorted.

Changed jobs - During this time Mala was busy interviewing for new jobs (congratulations on being successful) as well as :-

Going skiing - Make that 5 weeks to plan the wedding, as Mala was already booked to go skiing with us - What I thought was a pathetic display of over-emotion as Mala spent much of her non skiing time on the phone to Craig, turned out to be Mala trying to help organise caterers, a venue and all other wedding related matters that most people take six months to organise...

Going to India - Oh no, make that 4 weeks to plan a wedding. When Mala booked to come skiing with us there was no engagement, impending marriage or new job on the horizon and she had been assured that she would not need to go to India until later in the year, as her cousin was looking at a summer wedding. Imagine Mala's delight when she discovered that she would be practically getting off one flight from skiing and onto the next flight for India when her cousin changed her plans....

Wow! I can hardly keep up, I feel I should be getting stressed on their behalf. The Beast is happy though, he is not to be the official photographer but has been asked along to produce some informal shots of the event, so look out for those in a future BlackLOG.

Mala "OK, it's Thursday do I change
job, move house, go to India or pass go
and collect £200?"

Blog swap, a social experiment
- The Mayhem of BlackLOG for an organised fashion blog
I've got some good news for you, although it has been a quiet week I have not spent my time idly....I have gone out and procured a Blog swap for you. Next week's BlackLOG will come to you from the talented hands of Amy Clair Thompson, a top Northern** fashion editor. While I will be over at Confessions of a Fashion Editor on Sugar no doubt confusing and alienating her readership....

** Yes the very same people that brought us hob-nail boots, flat caps and whippets as de rigeur fashion accessories and that was just the women.....Sorry Amy, just kidding, I did read your thoughts about how London thinks that there is no fashion in the UK outside of the capital. Have they not seen the Newcastle lassies with their short skirts and blue legs during the most severe of winters.....?

Amy put me through a rigorous interview process (i.e lots of email exchanges), after I applied to her Blogswap advert on Brit blogger, before agreeing to commit her fashion blog to potential blog suicide.

Me - Amy, Interesting idea but I had better warn you my idea of fashion is what got dragged out of the wardrobe (Mrs B despairs of me) and I don’t normally notice when I’ve had a haircut, let alone anyone else. More despair from Mrs B , especially when I’ve dropped her off at the hairdressers and still forget to comment when I pick her up later….. I can also confess to not noticing new clothes but I do try to make amends by saying regularly "Is that new, it looks good...."

My blog is a weekly look at what happens in our life*** , with a bit of stretching, for attempted entertainment sake….featuring friends, photographs and the odd inappropriate comment (Life’s too short not to) . I don’t have strong opinions on many things ( that’s not to say there aren’t a few subjects that get me going…. ) but will happily argue any point, in a devil's advocate kind of way .

*** No don't run just yet. I'm not blessed with a multiple personality, I write on behalf of Mrs B and our two cats McG & Mischief

Amy -  Don't worry about "my idea of fashion is what got dragged out of the wardrobe", because seriously, I am the world's most unlikely fashion editor. I bloody hate fashion. I just kind of got stuck here. Which is why I always appear over-opinionated...


So, I had a quick look at your blog, just now, and it seems to be a rather eclectic mix of, well, everything... would I be right in saying that? And, if so, how would you define it for blog-swapping purposes? :)

Me - Can't argue with the term 'eclectic' for the BlackLOG but isn't life like that? Or is it just my mind..... I was never really sure what the BlackLOG should be categorised under, perhaps :-

"Shit happens, get on with it...." is as close as I can get.

Although I hate the term organic, I like the fact that the BlackLOG has the freedom to stomp over any topic that comes into view. I honestly don't know what will be included each week. Friends often say "Oh, that will be good for the next BlackLOG" but when I sit in front of that blank sheet of paper it just does not happen.....

So what I'm offering your readers is randomness on either fashion or any topic that you choose to select for me.....While you get the chance to write about your week in an attempted amusing way. Feel free to bring structure and sense to my readers, I won't be offended and they could probably do with a reality check as well as a much deserved break....

P.S. They seem to like photos.....Perhaps so they don't have to read the random words....

P.P.S. Not sure I ever deemed the BlackLOG to be suitable for blog-swapping purposes, I just liked the concept.

P.P.P.S. If you do go for a swap you will have to try and select at least one music track that goes with your blog....

Amy - Wow, that sounds like a delightful little challenge... I would be very glad to rant my week out in pictures and words, with music to accompany it. In fact, I kind of wish I did that in my blog, all the time, to be honest... :)

And if you're willing to take on the style-or-lifestyle challenge, then I'm game! :) Obviously, I don't just write about fashion (for fear of boring myself to death). My scheduling process works so that

Mondays and Wednesdays are fashion,
Tuesdays and Thursdays are whatever I fancy posting about,
Fridays are Feel-Goods
Saturdays are local-based
and Sundays are Alphabetti Spaghetti

so when you pick the switch date, can you bear that in mind...?

How does that sound? And pick a date, any date! :)

Me -  Oh my god I have never seen so much structure. I think I'm melting......

Amy - I have to be structured. I'm a head teacher's kid; organisation is my life-line... :)

Me - My mother spent the whole of last year in a loony bin (Not PC but the best description that I can think of....) I kid you not Girl Interupted This may account for a lot. I visited on a number of occasions but always managed to be let out, which makes me feel a bit happier about my own grasp on reality...

I'm not sure you are getting a great deal out of this in that I give you 1/7th of your week's blog output while you get to do all of mine (mine is a weekly blog). Still I can live with it if you can.

I kind of like the idea of having a crack at fashion but I'm not sure it would be fair on your readership.....especially as I am to fashion what Mira Hindley (or to be more trendy*** Catholic priests) is/are to child care...and as it is your un-chosen profession I had better leave that alone.

*** see I already have the fashion lingo

Do your readers really want to know about Bishops Stortford? probably not so that's Saturday out.

That leaves Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday.  Since I try and update somewhere between Monday and Wednesday (what did you expect?  Actual structure in my posting schedule? Yeah right...)

So how about next Tuesday 20th April? - Gives you time to collect your week's experiences and me time to read some of your back numbers and put together a totally unrelated post.....

Amy - Please, feel free to write a fashion piece if that's what you want to do! I swear, it's a whole lot easier than you'd think. Essentially, it's just finding synonyms for "pink". Trust me - I've been at it almost 3 years! :)

Me - Oh no not Carte blanche (which to my warped sense of things sounds like it could be a shade of pink) I have already got some ideas floating around the fairly empty space between my ears.....Tuesday sounds good, though! :) Excellent (typed in a Mr Burns type voice, while rubbing hands together) Smithers, wheel out the "Guest Blogger machine...."

Amy - Carpe Diem should totally be a shade of pink.

Me - You say it like it isn't....

Amy - I'll try and work it [Carpe Diem] into a serious [Fashion] article, at some point, and send some kudos your way, for it :)

Me - Please send it [The Kudos] but don't expect me to eat it, sounds unhealthily like an exotic vegetable*****...

***** One other thing that came out our exchange, I finally worked out my problem with organic food -

It's just an impressive marketing ploy for selling, at a huge
premium, odd shaped and strangely coloured food that
previously would have been rejected as unsuitable for
human consumption.

The New Labour's spin team would have been proud if they could have come up with it themselves. No doubt in years to come they will claim it as their own, as they have done with any half decent policies that they have "borrowed" recently....

So tune in next week for an exciting and, I can confidently predict, a more organised spin on the BlackLOG.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Almost sensible packing - tips to avoid being mugged by airlines

What is it with airlines these days? It would seem that you need to be clairvoyant to avoid getting charged excess baggage. A couple of examples of this:-

Our friend Mala told us the horror story of a cousin she was travelling with who ended up paying an excess luggage charge of £500. Yes, you read that correctly - £500 English pounds (alright not worth as much as it used to be around the world but still a lot of money in the old country). Her luggage sounded like it was a tad over the maximum allowed - the excess charge was a lot more than the original cost of the flight....Ouch.

Each airline has different rules and regulations, which is fine except that you don't always know who you are flying with. One year we booked with BMI to go to Canada and diligently followed the BMI luggage rules, which were based on weight. When we arrived at the airport we found that the flight was actually with BMI's partner, Air Canada, I think, who based their rules on the number of items to be checked in. With two ski bags, one case (impressive for us, not sure how that happened, it was probably rather large) and two boot bags, making a total of 5 items (go on count them if you don't believe me). The Air Canada rules stated 2 checked items per person, and although I argued valiantly that we should be allowed to use the BMI rules the check-in girl would not back down - demanding an additional £60 for the "5th" piece. I asked her if she had any packing tape and she looked quizzically at me before handing some over. I then proceeded to spend the next 5 minutes rather theatrically taping the two ski boot bags together, much to the amusement of fellow passengers - I should have put a hat down with a note saying "wife and 5 bags to support". The end result was 4 pieces of luggage, one of which was now almost impossible to carry. I heaved the boots onto the conveyor belt and stared at her defiantly waiting for her response. I got a non-committal shrug (she didn't sound particularly French but did a damn good impression) ....and felt her wishing I would go away ASAP.

With these examples on my mind and as organiser of this year's group ski trip I fear I may have over-emphasised the need to keep the weight in the main luggage down.... as demonstrated by the following responses from some of the group:

Lisa - "I have been personally practicing the 'how many clothes can I wear before they charge me for an extra seat?!!! ' route, and I’m up to about 6 top layers at the mo for the flight out! I'm really wishing I was joking but I’m not !! I have to make space in the case* somehow !!!! "

Me - You do realise that you won't get a rebate for travelling with an empty case.....? On the other hand I'm looking forward to see you being rolled onto the plane. That reminds me: I had better call ahead and get the plane doors widened.....

Lisa - "Quick question, what does the snow report bit mean? 80 lower and 190 upper ?? It sounded like a blood pressure reading and I have no idea what it could relate to snow wise !! Is it inches ??? Surely not !!"

Me - "Sadly the depth is in centimetres not inches. I'm a bit worried about your blood pressure, it sounds dangerously high but I'm putting it down to your excitement over the inches......"

* The majority of Lisa's case being full of various medications and wigs (see photo's below). She bought enough for everyone to wear (In case you don't know, Lisa likes wigs and shiny blingy things), leaving very little room for anything else.

Joe took the whole thing very seriously and opted to keep most of the weight out of his and Kirsty's main luggage. The result was that their luggage came in at a very respectable 11kg and 14kg. A long way under the 20kg limit and with loads of room left. Unfortunately when Joe's ski bag was weighed we found out where all the extra luggage from the main bags had gone. His ski bag came in at a whopping 29kg, 6kg over the maximum weight the handlers will deal with. "No problem" announced Joe " We can transfer the excess weight into our main bags"......Only these had already been checked and were now out of sight - apparently it was worth more than the check-in woman's job to go and retrieve them. The only luggage that had not gone through was my ski bag which when weighed was only slightly under the limit. It was only still with us because the skis had to be taken to a different area for loading. We managed to take 8kg out of Joe's ski bag and transferred it into my now bulging bag. I then whipped this down to the ski load area and somehow managed to heave it onto the conveyor belt before they could weigh it again. Meanwhile Joe's ski bag was now just over the limit so received a "Heavy load" tag but no additional fee.....I bet the baggage handler who avoided Joe's ski bag complete with its warning tag, was less than impressed as he attempted to heave my ski bag on board....

BlackLOG top tips for packing light
  • Ditch any particularly heavy tracks off of your IPod.....
  • Wear all the clothes that you are taking with you...Contact Lisa for how best to achieve this.
  • Put all your heavy stuff in someone else's luggage.
  • Fill any spare space in your bag with helium balloons - Warning this might prove awkward if stopped by Customs, remember it is not cool to laugh at the nice customs officer when he is lecturing you, even if he now has a squeaky voice. As a precaution, some of the balloons could be filled with Nitrous oxide (Laughing gas), so if you do get arrested at least everyone gets to have a good giggle.....
  • Do the luggage swap hustle - Now that they are starting to weigh hand luggage and provide limits for what can be taken on board the trick of putting all the heavy stuff into your take on bag is not as easy as it once was. Although with a bit of ingenuity it can be achieved, especially if you have a large party. The trick is to keep everyone moving about so the check-in staff can't really tell what is going on....Since the bags stay with you, you can simply move the heavy items from one bag to another one that has already been weighed....
For the record our ski holiday party to Les Deux Alpes (France) Starred :-
Me - With my "ski to survive" technique - not exactly stylish but can get down almost anything. However if I hear "Your wife is such a stylish skier......" one more time it will not end well.
I tend to ski fast so that no one sees how bad my technique really is. Managed just two sit downs and an emergency Joe avoidance manouvre, when he stopped unexpectedly in front of me, during the whole week.

So this is what having long hair is like...

Mrs B - Stylish skier, although was the only one of us who limped away from this year's holiday after crashing off-piste on her Birthday and twisting her ankle.

Joe - The best skier of the bunch with speed, skill and stamina. A bit of a ski siren though as he forgets that not everyone has his ability and youth. Managed to lure Mrs B to her near-demise - with the fateful words "Come on, it's easy...."

Kirsty - A bit rusty after 4 years off the slopes but managed the best face plant in ski history with accompanying squeal all captured on two Iphones.  It is only my good nature and more to the point,  lack of a copy of the footage, that prevents me from posting it here....

Philip -  Style coming along nicely although has a tendency to wave whenever a camera appears.....

Christian - A determined skier whose distinct crouch can be recognised from miles away - has two speeds: fast or dead slow depending on his mood.

Lisa - The best entertainment on the slopes - now known as the "Ski Slope Tourettes Girl". Despite skiing for a number of years, Lisa has developed a deep ingrained fear of skiing but is determined not to let it stop her getting out on the slopes. In order to get over this fear she plays very loud music and talks to herself as she comes down the slopes. The result is if you ski on any slope with SSTG all you will hear is







at the very high volume that only people wearing headphones tend to use....Getting off a chair lift with SSTG is a similar experience but only without the intructions to "Turn".

If you ever find yourself in whiteout conditions you could do worse than follow the sound of "Turn, Turn, F*ck, Turn, Turn, F*ck...." to safety

Mala - Despite being small, Mala's leg stance could accommodate at least a dozen large horses....
We had to drop Mala off at Ski School on the first day - it was all very traumatic but I think I managed to put her and her class mates at ease when I yelled back:
"Mala, you will be fine. Just remember not to knock all your class mates over this time....."

Co-stars :-

Joe's dad Frank, sister Becky and brother Alex + his friend Nathen. They were booked into a hotel around the corner.

Frank & Becky

Alex -"Fly me to the moon....."

Nathen - Leaping like an arthritic frog....

The Chalet Reps - who were like an old married couple, Bart - 20 year old going on 60 and his whipping boy Julian -

To finish off this week there was so much going on during the holiday (like the most powder skiing I have seen in my 20 years on planks - what's going on this was the end of March....2 Birthday celebrations - Mrs B and Lisa - a job promotion, well done Christian and an engagement Mala, we were just sorry that Craig could not make it). I thought I would spare you the 20 pages it would take to cover it all and decided to capture the spirit of the holiday with quotes and pictures ...They amused me and I hope some might translate for you. If not, feel free to use some of the Nitrous oxide from earlier (I think I saw some in the red balloon at the back of the blog), if nothing else it will make me feel happier if I know you are giggling....


An airport announcement at Gatwick:-
 "Christian worship will be commencing in the airport chapel shortly"

Christian - "I'd better go, I don't like to keep my followers waiting..........."


Mrs B was feeling a bit delicate after celebrating
 Lisa's Birthday when I handed her a cup of tea:

Me -
"It's a bit weak but hot and ready to be drunk"

Mrs B from below a pile of blankets - "Sounds a bit like me!"


Joe - " Its great to have wood !.... " To Christian whilst putting up balloons. Christian was rendered speachless.
My, my you do have filthy minds, how can one explain this? Oh yes we were putting balloons up to celebrate Mrs B's birthday but with no tape, pins or even blue tack to help us. The inside of the Chalet was wood lined which allowed for "thrusting" the tied ends of the balloons into the joints between the planks.....Tsk Tsk go wash out your dirty minds................


Lisa - "Have you seen the size of the Chest freezer on the balcony?"

The Group - "What chest freezer?"

Lisa - "The huge one in the corner, you can't miss it!"

The Group - "You mean the Jacuzzi?"

Lisa - "Oh....That might be it"

Is that a chest freezer on our balcony....?

Or are you just pleased to heat us.....


Philip's critique of Lisa's sexy dancing
 "You look like a dog pissing up a wall!"


Lisa - "Is anyone else developing abs from laughing so much?"


Bart - "We had a cat with a little
 black moustache, we called him Kitler...."


Lisa - "Oh no, remind me not to wear pink
again, it makes me look all blobby and horrible!"

Me - "It's not just pink.....Ouch!"


The 8 of us shared the chalet with a family of four, which included two death-obsessed girls aged 10 and 12**. Oh and a Columbian drug baron - well he might be. He did live in Columbia for 5 years and had a dodgy moustache - two sure signs of a drug baron, in my book....

** Sitting next to the girls at dinner was considered "taking one for the team". Comments thrown into the mix at meal times from the pair included the following conversation killers:

"We had a cat but it's dead"

"My Uncle has bowel cancer"

"My Aunty went out in her nighty and died....."

Kirsty - "Please don't make me sit next to the girls...."


12 year old sister in broad Scottish accent - "I hear voices in my sleep."

10 year old sister in equally broad Scottish accent - "Ay, she does, she does you know ..."

Christian admitted thinking to himself - "I hope the lock works on my door...."

Elton John Christian - I hope there is a lock on the bedroom


Storm Mala - " The younger sister said how
handsome she thought Philip was"

A few seconds later Christian pipes up -
 "Any mention of me at all?!"


Jimmy Saville Me - "Mala, I might not like kids
but I at least stop  short of physically abusing them....."

After Mala turned around whilst holding her skis on
 her shoulder and knocked the youngest girl onto the floor


Mrs B "You're like a god"

Me - "Am I?"

Lisa - "Yeah , shame it's Fat Buddha!"

Me - "Harsh"

Mrs B - "But fair..... "


Italian Ski guide - "This slope is covered in many muggles***"

Me - "Is it just me or does anyone else feel like they are in a J.K.Rowling novel....?"

*** For any skiers/snow boarders reading this - it can be translated as moguls. For you non-skiers it translates as mounds of snow made by skiers


The terrible view from our balcony....

There are so many more quotes but many not fit for even the semi-polite blogosphere. Hope you enjoyed this weeks BlackLOG, if not use some more Nitrous oxide (I think there is some left in the pink balloon below)  and stop being so damned miserable.....

Go on grab a pink Nitrous oxide balloon,
you know you want to....

 Mrs B - Style and Grace

Joe - Power and youth

Catch you next week.