Thursday 26 July 2012

On the road again

This week I've mainly been packing as tomorrow morning we set off to Italy again, this time in the car accompanied by the 1.2 m satellite dish.  As ever there are masses of domestic items to take out, new crockery, towels etc as well as a large variety of my summer clothes, that haven't seen the light of day in Scotland and deserve an airing.  As ever Mr FF hasn't started packing yet, he likes to brag that it takes him 5 minutes to throw his things into a case, but we have been known to go out shopping for clothes he's forgotten and every few days he'll ask me 'have you brought any aspirin, sun cream insect repellent' etc.  I rest my case so to speak.
To calm my nerves I've been knitting up odd bits of yarn to make these baby socks, doesn't take long to make a pair and they are really sweet
I've also been attending a 4 week jewellery making class, this is my necklace from the first session, it's the final class this afternoon and we're knotting pearls.  I don't think mine will be finished for the journey but I'm hoping to release a bit of pre-travel tension, just hope my knots aren't too tight.
Be in touch as and when I can, we should arrive in Lazio on Wednesday.

Monday 23 July 2012

Phew, made it

As ever I've been glued to the Tour de France for the last three weeks.  What a journey, I'm exhausted, goodness knows how Bradley is feeling.   Since we witnessed a crash at close hand on the Giro I've had very mixed feelings about the lovely boys risking so much for their sport and I've been on the edge of my seat worrying through every stage.  
Yesterday I thought I'd have to leave the room as Bradley led out Mark Cavendish for the final sprint on the Champs Elysees.  I must be getting old, I've found that I much prefer watching the evening's edited highlights knowing that they are all safely home and the days job is done than watching the live event.
photo from Team Sky website
History has been made, the first Brit to win the Tour de France but no respite as team GB now prepare for the Olympics starting with the road race on Saturday.  Fantastic.
I've nothing but admiration for the way those boys have behaved, totally focused, articulate and charming (well OK Brad did have one foul mouthed outburst but I allow him that).  They've all been team players working for one goal, witness Mark Cavendish, a world champion himself, missing out on several potential sprint victories to fetch drinks bottles for his colleagues or carry Bradley's waterproof. Great role models and much of the credit should go to the Team Sky boss, Dave Brailsford who engineered this success. As Mr FF said, if this down to earth Dave was running the country we'd all be a lot better off.

Tuesday 17 July 2012

The good and bad of big business

If you know anything about me you must know I am no fan of big business.   Hearing recently that disgraced Barclays boss Bob Diamond is to fore go his £20m bonus and leave with just £2m as severance pay does nothing to improve my impression of the way things are done at the top.
I've recently had a debacle with that once doyen of British retail Marks and Spencer.  I ordered on line a plant to be delivered to my sister in law for her 60th birthday, the order duly acknowledged and the day before it was due I received an email to say that the gift was on its way.  I didn't hear from SiL until a couple of days after her birthday when she told me her gift had arrived, 2 days late and the decorative terracotta pot was smashed to pieces. 
I phoned M&S who were very helpful, apologised and said they'd send another immediately.   Next day SiL phoned to report that the new plant was much fresher and a completely different variety to the first one.  I'd ordered an alstromeria but they had initially delivered a zinnia, strangely at complete opposite ends of the alphabet.  I was a bit put out by this and spoke to M&S again, extracting from them £5 compensation which since they put this onto my online account would probably incur £3.50 delivery cost so not much compensation after all.
I then received an email from M&S asking me to review my purchase, I wrote that the gift arrived 2 days late, the pot was broken and the plant was not what I'd order so basically everything was wrong.  M&S rejected my review as it didn't meet their guidelines, again causing me some irritation. I rewrote my review giving the lowest scores possible and saying simply I'd been disappointed, they published this but really it was no use to anyone, readers might imagine I was simply a fussy shopper.   Much of the fault here may lie with the courier but my contract was with M&S and delivery on the right day was a big part of the product.
Recently M&S published reduced sales figures, why am I not surprised.  It never fails to amaze me that in these days when money is in short supply the paying customer is not more valued.
At the opposite end of the scale, Mr FF had a pair of Timberland shoes he bought at least 5 years ago and loved very much.  The soles started to come away and despite his attempt to glue them back he couldn't fix them so he spoke to Timberland asking for advice.  They suggested he return them and they'd take a look, reporting back that the shoes couldn't be fixed but he could select a new pair to the same value from their website and they'd send them out.  The ones he decided on were more expensive than the originals but he was happy to pay the £35 difference after all he'd already had good wear from the old ones.  Timberland wanted to deliver the new shoes while we were away in May but as this wasn't possible they agreed to wait till we came home.  Unfortunately the shoes went out of stock and couldn't be delivered until late July so they said they would waive the £35 extra charge to cover his inconvenience.    Today a brand new pair of Timberland shoes arrived by courier, no fuss, no argument and customer service beyond what we expected. 
Finally, on a slight tangent, Mr FF though retired is still on some online networking site and received notification the other day that one of his contacts has been promoted to Chief Imagineer and Ideation (though shouldn't that be Ideationer).  I had to google these job titles as they meant nothing to me and guess what both have references to Walt Disney, yes the magic kingdom, the world of make believe.  Personally I'd rather be called the Office Twit that the Imagineer, but then I'm from Yorkshire where folk can't be doing with flannel.  Come on business giving each other fanciful names and ignoring the customer won't get you anywhere, the great majority of the public is not as stupid as you seem to think and this one and her husband in his brand new Timberlands will be giving M&S on line a wide swerve.

Wednesday 11 July 2012

In my car

I hardly use my little yellow car nowadays, its 12 years old and not so reliable but living out in the country it is handy to have a second vehicle.   This week we took my car to have the wheels restored and resprayed, mainly because the tyres kept deflating and it was recommended we have this work done but also it has made them look very smart.
I'm quite fond of my Lupo, its pretty inside with
cats and mice on the upholstery and I keep a variety of things in the very small boot and the various compartments, mainly left overs from my commuting days when there was always a chance I'd be stuck in the snow.  It never happened to me but once I wisely stayed in town, a neighbour attempted the drive home and spent the night in his car. 
I have a colour co-ordinated shopping bag of course

a mac, a torch, tow rope, a pair of lightweight coverups (in case I ever decided to service the car presumably), a first aid kit, a cosy wool blanket and two foil space blankets, a complete change of clothes including some running gear from the days when I did run a lot, even some sleepwear and two pairs of clean knickers.  There's some small change, a little notepad and a pencil and  maps of places I've never visited in my car.  
Toiletries, it's important to cleanse tone and nourish even if you are stuck in a snow drift.
So when I was having a clean out in the car, thinking I really didn't need all that stuff (will the downsizing never end) I was surprised to come across this roll.
Mr FF had given me a tool kit years ago, obviously I was never going to use any of the contents but he said it would be good to have in case someone came to my rescue without the right gear.  He'd forgotten all about it so he was delighted to have it back, said he'd often wondered what had happened to it.
Now I need to give my car a good clean and maybe think about just a few minimalist accessories.  Actually I'm quite surprised I didn't find any knitting in there.

Wednesday 4 July 2012

It fits

That should really read they both fit.
Firstly Mr FF went off to collect his eBay sat dish slightly concerned that it wouldn't go in the back of the car.  I noticed he packed various ropes and tapes but fortunately though a little snug the dish went into the boot.  I can see we are definitely taking the car to Italy and that we shall have to fit the rest of our luggage round the dish and its stand.  The dish has already had a good clean with the power washer and is looking good.  Lets just hope that it makes a difference to our tv reception otherwise there could be ranting in Lazio.
Secondly Mr FF's New Lanark 'I want it just like the old one' jumper is finished and fits a treat.    Couldn't resist including my herbaceous border in the background.  This new jumper certainly is as requested just like the old one which I might give a bit of a renovation now as some of the seaming at the wrists could do with attention.  I used 11 balls of DK, the pattern is a straight forward classic raglan from some old book I have.  Time for a bit of stash busting now to continue my downsizing theme, too many showers for me  be in the garden very long so frantic knitting to be done while I get over excited watching the Tour de France.