Monday, November 30, 2009

Stepping up the exercise

I've decided to make a return to the gym. I used to go around 4 times a week, until my back started bothering me. Its been around 7 months since I last went in any earnest so I've decided to get back to it before everything starts sliding south.

The gym I attend does a series of different group fitness sessions. They are produced by a company called BTS ( and the exercises are 'choreographed' to pretty good music. "Group Step" is my favorite, and is nothing like the Step exercises from the eighties (remember the Cher video?!). Another favorite is "Group Power" which involves lifting a barbell and weights to music; not too heavy obviously...the weights I mean not the music!. There are also classes for kick-boxing and Zumba/Groove, which are not really my thing. But I'm looking forward to going again and seeing some familiar faces, and also seeing a new me in 2010! Lets hope my back holds up.


On the way home from work today I was driving behind a car with the numberplate "GOTART". I think it was meant to be read as "GOT ART" (similar to the 'Got Milk?' slogan) but for a while I thought it was quite offensive....

Sunday, November 29, 2009

A letter to Santa

Yesterday we took a ride on the "Hobo Railway" in Lincoln. It's an old passenger train (diesel not steam), and it trundles through Lincoln and along the river. Quite picturesque. At certain times in the run-up to Christmas they do a special "Santa train ride" and yesterday was one of those days. Although the kids are a bit old for Santa, we still did it because its a nice atmosphere; the inside of the carriages are decorated with tinsel, and they serve hot chocolate and cookies to the passengers. Christmas music is playing throughout the ride and Santa stops by to say "Ho! Ho! Ho!" to everyone. The kids have to write a letter to Santa and get a gift in return. Emma did the usual "Dear Santa, please don't forget to stop by my house and leave me some presents" whereas Rob's letter was a little more inventive; instead of asking Santa for something he decided to give him some advice about the effects of too many cookies on your health, and he included a a daily diet and exercise planner to help Santa lose some of his excess weight....

I keep asking myself, where does he get it from?!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Good food in Lincoln

Last night we ate at "The Common Man" restaurant in Lincoln. What a nice place! It was really warm and welcoming, with a huge stone firepace in the lounge containing a roaring log fire and live entertainment. The restaurant was off to the side and we were offered complimentary cheese and crackers while we waited to place our order. For the main course I had a very good New England haddock bake and Tony had a mixed grill consisting of fillet steak, maple sausage and crab cakes. Everything was very fresh and nicely prepared. No wonder its a popular place to eat.

Today for lunch we stopped at a cafe with the wonderful name of "half-baked and fully brewed". It specializes in homemade breads, pastries, soups, sandwiches etc. As well as the "eat-in" menu, they also had a large freezer filled with ready-prepared home cooked meals "to-go", chicken pie, lasagna, various pasta dishes, meatloaf, plus a whole range of desserts. What a good idea for a vacation area. I'm sure they are very popular during the ski season. After a hard day on the slopes what better than to eat a home cooked meal without having to do more than press the buttons on the microwave!

Friday, November 27, 2009

A Christmas Carol

Today was a very disappointing day, weather-wise. It has rained heavily from the moment we woke up through to the evening. We had planned to go to "Santa's Village" today - a themed amusement park in Jackson, NH. We have been there many times before and this year would probably be the last time, as the kids are getting a bit too old for the rides it offers. However the thought of being cold and wet, outside for the whole day, did not appeal. So we went to see a movie instead.

The movie theater in Lincoln is very small, it only has 4 screens. I have to say it was one of the coldest movie theaters I have ever been in; I don't believe they had any heating on at all and I sat on my hands the whole time to try and keep them warm!

We saw "A Christmas Carol" with Jim Carrey. It was one of those "not quite real people, not quite animated" movies, similar in style to the Polar Express. It was actually very good. It was obviously based on the Dickens novel, but enhanced with some excellent special effects. The sombre Victorian London setting was well done, in some places it was quite 'dark' in style, but although it was a Disney movie I would not recommend it for younger children. Some of the ghosts were a bit scary, even for Emma (9 years old). I definitely recommend it for everyone else though, it was very entertaining...even if my hands were numb by the end. And it passed a few hours on what was a very cold, wet day.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

A very non-traditional Thanksgiving

Today the weather was pretty good, unseaonably warm in fact. So we decided to try out some of the walking trails off the Kangamangus Highway. We started off with a very nice walk along oe of the Lincoln Woods trails. We chose the East side trail, 3 miles through woods and alongside the Pemigewasset river, a wonderful crystal clear , fast-flowing river over rocks. Parts of the trail on the return journey involved crossing parts of the river, so we had to balance precariously on rocks to get across. Thankfully we all managed to keep our feet dry and our pride in place.

Then we went to see Sabbaday Falls, only 0.3 miles off the highway and surprisingly impressive.

To unwind we spent an hour or so in the hotel spa. We used the indoor pool and relaxed in the steaming outdoor hot tub, followed by a sauna. Not surprisngly we had the place to ourselves for most of the time.

All of this activity gave us a good appetite for our extremely un-traditional Thanksgiving dinner. We had an appetizer of mini cheese-souffles, followed by Pasta and garlic bread, with apple pie and cream for desserts, washed down with beer, wine, coffee and chocolate mints.

Quite frankly, I enjoyed this as much as any Turkey dinner I've had for Thanksgiving in the past, and we will all be happy tomorrow that we will not be subjected to the after-affects of turkey while living in such close proximity to each other!!

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Vacation in Lincoln, New Hampshire

First day of our Thanksgiving break in New Hampshire. This year we are staying in Lincoln, right on the slopes of Loon Mountain, at the Loon Mountain Resort.

The resort is very nice, its obviously in the middle of a major renovation and they have done a good job with the rooms. We have a suite, which basically consists of 2 rooms joined together, one containing a king size bed and bathroom, the other containing 2 Murphy beds, with a kitchen and bathroom. Plenty of room for us all. Theres an onsite spa with an indoor pool, outside hot tub, large gym, raquetball court and a couple of restaurants.

We had dinner at the Woodstock Brewery restaurant "The Woodstock Railway" which was a lively place with good food and beer. I sampled a pint of their Golden Ale, a light, dry, hoppy brew, and Tony had a pint of Pemi Ple Ale, which he said was very good. The food was what's known in these parts as "comfort food" - I had "Moms meatloaf" and Tony had a "train wreck" which consisted of an open sandwich of Brie, Ham, Turkey, and roasted peppers. All finished off with moose tracks icecream and homemade chocolate cake. Yum.

Tomorrow we plan to walk some of the local trails before Thanksgiving dinner.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

A bed is not just a bed

We've been off looking for a new mattress (aka bed) this afternoon, because I cannot get on with our Tempur-pedic Mattress. Its a bit daunting. We entered the store to be greeted by 50 mattresses that all looked the same. We could select from 4 levels of softness, mattress style (boxspring, foam, memory foam), with or without pillow top (plush, silver, gold, platinum and platinim plus or euro pillow top for the more cosmopolitan shopper). There's even adjustable beds and beds that have a built-in massager. We tried a high-tech gizmo that told us that Tony needs a firm mattress and I need a softer mattress. Luckily for us, its possible to buy a mattress where each side is a different softness. So thats what we went for. Phew! Thank goodness we don't have to do this more often than once every 10 years!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Pepper - RIP

My Mothers cat "Pepper" died this week. He was 15 years old, pretty good going really. He was actually my cat but when we moved to the US, we decided that he may be happier staying with my mother. She graciously agreed :-)

Pepper is not the first cat that my mother has looked after for me. Many years ago I pursuaded my parents to let me get a cat (Zoe), then when I left home after University guess who ended up looking after Zoe? Good ol' Mom!

Its a bit more difficult to pass off cats to my parents now I am in the US. I wonder if I could fit my "Bulimic" cat Loki in my suitcase next time I visit?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Facial recognition

Apparently Cardiff Airport is introducing facial recognition gates for passengers at the arrivals lounge. It works for any UK or European adult with a biometric passport issued since 2006. The machines are designed to take seconds to scan passengers' faces against digital photos in passports.

With the tiny number of flights going in and out of Cardiff Airport per day, I would've thought that the average security guard could've performed the same operation without any sophisticated technology. "Alright Butt!, welcome ome... long time no see Dai... travelling again Mr Evans, yew neva ome mun!"

Monday, November 16, 2009

Books for Todays children

I must be truthful, I have completely plagiarised this from an email send to me by my brother-in-law Martin. I thought it was worthy of sharing. Here's a plug for his blog by way of compensation (

and there's more....

I left the really rude ones out - this is a G rated blog after all...

Smoothie anyone?

I did not know it was possible to find so many soft/liquid foods. Since my gum graft surgery last week I have had a vanilla smoothie, a vanilla smoothie with banana, a vanilla smoothie with raspberries, soup, soft scrambled eggs, mashed up potato and cauliflower, more soup, oatmeal and a ready-made protein drink called Ensure (the only thing I am Ensure about is that I do not want another one - disgusting)...

I think for dinner tonight I am going to have mashed up carrot followed by stewed apple and custard. Jealous?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Feeling poorly

I don't think its possible to feel any worse than I did yesterday. I had a bad reaction to the pain meds and spent the day throwing up. I haven't eaten since Thursday lunchtime, and the only positive thing is I've lost 5 pounds. Life is not good right now :-(

Thursday, November 12, 2009

British? Not me!

LONDON (Reuters) – Britons are among the ugliest people in the world,
according to a dating website that says it only allows "beautiful people"
to join.

Fewer than one in eight British men and just three in 20 women who have
applied to have been accepted, an emailed statement
from the website showed.

Existing members of the "elite dating site" rate how attractive potential
members are over a 48 hour period, after applicants upload a recent photo
and personal profile.

Swedish men have proved the most successful, with 65 percent being
accepted, while Norwegian women are considered the most beautiful with 76
percent accepted, the website said.

The way that accepts new members is simple. A potential
member applies with a photo and a brief profile. Over 48 hours, existing
members of the opposite sex vote whether or not to admit them, the site

Options are: "Yes definitely," "Hmm yes, O.K," "Hmm no, not really" and "No
definitely not."

The site was founded in 2002 in Denmark and went live across the globe last
month. Since then, the site has rejected nearly 1.8 million people from 190
countries, admitting just 360,000 new members.

"I would say Britain is stumbling because they don't spend as much time
polishing up their appearance and they are letting themselves down on
physical fitness," Beautiful People managing director Greg Hodge said.
"Next to Brazilian and Scandinavian beauties, British people just aren't as
toned or glamorous."

Only the male Russian and Polish applicants fared worse than British men,
although Russian women had a 44 percent acceptance rate. Polish women did
not appear in the table.

German applicants were slated for offering up unflattering photographs,
which may have hindered their acceptance rates at 15 percent for men and 13
percent for women, the lowest rate in their category.

"German men and women aren't faring well, but they are submitting stern
images, they need to soften up," Hodge said.

Phew! I'm glad I became a US citizen a few years ago :-)

Today I did not have a nice day

Today has not been the best of days. This afternoon I had what can only be described as a horrific dental procedure done, known as a gum graft. Basically some skin is cut from the roof of the mouth and sewn onto the gums. Believe me, its as disgusting as it sounds. I am currently sat here dribbling blood and popping vicodin into my mouth faster than Dr House. Apparently tonight and tomorrrow will be the most painful. Oh great. Its bad enough now and the novacaine hasn't fully worn off yet....

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veterans Day

Today is Veterans Day in the US. Veterans Day is to recognize the 48 million men and women who have served or are serving in the U.S. Armed Forces, including 23 million living U.S. veterans and active duty service. Veterans Day began as Armistice Day, commemorating the end of World War I. The so-called War to End All Wars ended with an armistice signed at 11 a.m. on November 11, 1918, in Compi├Ęgne, France—the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.

After World War II it became clear that the World War I armistice marked only the ending of World War I, not of war itself. The holiday was renamed Veterans Day to honor all those who served in the U.S. military.

In work today there was an 11am service for the occasion, and the usual free cake and icecream that accompanies any event at my workplace. There was also a display set up in the cafeteria, consisting of a table set as if for a meal. On the table was a plate with a slice of lemon and some salt. Why the lemon and salt? According to, the bitterness of the war is the lemon and the salt means they will always leave their memories in or on our hearts. So now you know...

Two nations divided by a common language

Something amusing happened today in work. My friend from the UK (Hi Sarah!) sent me an email with the usual chit-chat. Then that email was followed soon after by another from her saying "what did I do?". I'll explain...

She had just received an automated email from my workplace, saying that offensive language had been detected in her first email to me. Now, I do admit that her language can be a bit colorful at times, especially after a few glasses of wine, but Catherine Tate's "Nan Taylor" she is not! Her crime was to describe the fact that the faggots she'd had for lunch had been the highlight of her day. As I'm sure you know, the word "Faggot" does not mean "meatball" in the US and the automated "offensive language detector" had decided that this was not appropriate language!

Lets hope she didn't have a tart and a fag for dessert....

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Still Rockin the Joint?

Aerosmith singer Steven Tyler has left the band, but they hope to continue with a new frontman, guitarist Joe Perry is reported as saying. In my opinion, a new frontman will not work. Look at Fuel as an example. Fuel who? Exactly...

"Wanted, lead singer for aging rock band. Mick Jagger need not apply"


Apparently women with curvy figures are likely to be brighter than waif-like counterparts and may well produce more intelligent offspring, a US study suggests.
Researchers studied 16,000 women and girls and found the more voluptuous performed better on cognitive tests - as did their children.

The bigger the difference between a woman's waist and hips the better.

All I can say is, Dolly Parton must be a freakin genius...

Sniper attacks

I read in the news today that the US Supreme Court has rejected an appeal for a stay of execution for the man behind the 2002 sniper attacks in Washington DC.

John Allen Muhammad is due to be executed for the murder of one of 10 people killed during three weeks of attacks. People were shot while shopping, filling up their car at a petrol station or just sitting and reading, always with a single round and from a distance.

After three weeks, Muhammad was arrested at a truck stop, along with his accomplice Lee Malvo, who was only 17 at the time.

I remember this case well. It made me extremely nervous. I recall that a woman was shot by this pair as she was coming out of Home Depot. Everybody goes to Home Depot! It could have been anyone that they shot. I remember filling up my car at the gas station and, funny as it may seem now looking back, but I consciously moved around as it was filling. I jammed my purse into the gas handle so the pump stayed on itself, allowing me to walk around my car. These guys were shooting people who stood still long enough to be lined up in their sights.

What is it that makes people want to do this kind of thing? I just don't get it.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Happy Birthday Bryan!

Happy Birthday to my brother Bryan, 2 years older than me today :-)