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Hickinbottom’s Aussie Ramblings

Archive for December, 2007

Christmas + Sales = Done

Posted by captainbeaky on December 29, 2007

51ni5wrtbal_aa240_.jpgSo christmas is over, which is relief to be honest. To be fair though, it wasnt as bad as I was expecting, but I dont really know what I was expecting. None of this seems normal to myself anyway, as I dont usually spend this much time at my parents house. I just fear that when my life does get back to “normal” its just gonna hit me all over again. No point worrying over it anyway. I’ll just have to cross that bridge when I come to it. 

Managed to get some good stuff for Christmas and in the sales. Got 3 new 360 games (Assassins Creed for £30, Conan for £20 and Tomb Raider :anniversary for £15), a couple of DS games (Nintendogs and Touch Darts) a some DVD’s (some Ray Harryhausen films like Jason and the Argonauts, and Sinbad films) a new set of headphones, and a couple of books (Karl Pilkingtons new one and the Viz Profanisaurus), or which the Viz book has had me in stitches. Its basically a very thick Thesaurus type book, explaining the meanings of words, or phrases that have comedic significance. For example, an Airburst is a fart, a Dreadnaught is a large turd, but the best description is the description for the following….

 Anne Franks Drumkit – Used to describe something utterly useless that merely takes up space!

Superb! Maybe its an acquired taste, or childish fascination with new words, but I think its great! Anyway, sale shopping was mental. Wolverhampton on the 27th was not so bad, but Birmingham today was a bit mad. Its not so much the people walking the streets, its the shops. It makes you realise that 90% of the shops in town are ridiculously small. Not only that but theyre chock full of stuff that would still fill a shop twice the size. Ive enjoyed having a “half-time” break for coffee/beer but Im pleased that I dont haveto put up with any more moronic windowlickers staring skywards and just generally getting in the way.

Just got a few remaining things to do before we return, in just over a week. Going to take Becca to Dudley as she’s never been there (the lucky girl!), got a Birthday party to go to in Moseley on the 2nd, and wouldnt mind seeing a few friends again before we go. Seems mad that we’ve been here for nearly 6 weeks now. Looking forward to getting back home in the sun though – the darkness here is shocking!  

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Random Stuff

Posted by captainbeaky on December 22, 2007

easter-card_1.jpgPut “random stuff” into Google Images and this photo popped up, which made me smile, so it stays.

Just a little bit of an update on things. Went into Brum today to pick up our flight tickets. Also booked our seats online too so all is well on that front. Got an email about the Boeing job too, booking me in for an aptitude test on the 10th of January. Another 90 minutes of fun and hilarity to look forward too….

Also got an email back from my GP saying that he’s sent the letter of referral to the cardiologist, so Im just waiting for him to book me in for an appointment, hopefully in the 1st week for January, as planned. Any later and Im screwed as I’ll be back in Melbourne.  

Hopefully, today will also be the last time I venture in consumer-world until after Christmas. Really didnt enjoy strolling around Brum today. However, Ive already seen a couple of things that I wouldnt mind picking up in the online sales (yes a few of them HAVE already started) so I cant totally switch off over the coming days. No matter. Sitting on the sofa checking out Amazon is a bit easier and less stressful than fighting the hordes in Birmingham.  

 After watching todays Jamie Oliver Christmas special thingy, Im now really keen to try goose. He made it look extremely tasty and the fat makes tasty roasties too!  

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Friends, Jobs, Rubbish Banks & Kettles!

Posted by captainbeaky on December 20, 2007

coffeemaker080607_468x545.jpgIts been a long time since my last post and a lots happened. Firstly, we had a great weekend with friends. Had a nice meal in, on thursday night (tasty croutons laura!) and a great curry on friday night. Hired out Sunshine from Blockbuster on saturday (very good film – recommended) and stayed around another friends for “super-sunday” and caught both of the big footy matches. Had a really good time just being around our friends again, chatting and catching up. Its certainly one thing we REALLY miss about being in Australia. Have such a great bunch of friends over here and it will be hard to leave them behind. Again!

Whilst spending time over our mates, we sat and lost our selves in the mind sapping gaze of QVC, the shopping channel. Shockingly, we saw something apparently great on there, called the Tefal Quick Cup. Basically, its a hot water boiler crossed with a kettle. You fill the back resevoir thingy with water, then whenever you want hot water, you press the button, and an element in the neck, heats the water there (as you can see from the diagram above!) and then and into your cup. I mean, for me, its completely revolutionary. No more waiting for kettles to boil. No more hanging around while it bubbles away. If you want a cuppa, its as quick as getting water from the tap. Well…….that was the plan! After finding it £15 cheaper than anywhere else at Argos, we bought one. And, it kinda doesnt work. It DOES boil water on demand. It DOES fill your cup up to a level of your setting. It DOES actually boil the water and not just leave it tepid, as some reviews have suggested. However it also DOES splatter boiling water in a 15cm radius all around the cup too. Not the most clean OR safe thing ever! Tried cleaning the nozzle, changing the filter, leaving it to cool down. Nope! So took it back to Argos today and got a replacement which while better than the 1st one, STILL splatters boiling water everywhere. So….the dream is over! Back to Argos for a refund and wait for Tefal Quick Cup 2.0!  The dreary monotony of conventional water heating awaits….

Job news is that interviews HAVE started back up again for the Boeing position. The agency guy is still hopeful that I will have a good chance of getting one of the jobs on offer on my return, and Boeing are willing to wait for me to get back for an interview. So weve spent a few stressful hours today trying to get a flight back home for a reasonable price. And failed. the resonable price that is – we did get a flight but at a ridiculously extortionate price. Managed to get one from Birmingham, with Emiriates again, on Sunday the 6th of Janurary. Pained me to give them my card details, but if it means I have a shot at this job, I suppose theres nothing I can do. Just a hard pill to swallow.

Went to see the doc a few days ago and he told me my blood test results are fine. Cholesterol, blood pressure, blood fats and sugars etc…. are all well within limits.  However, my family history for heart trouble is terrible so Im trying to see if he will refer me to a specialist. Thanks to a friend (cheers Mark!) a cardiologist is ready to go, but the GP is whinging on about having everyones medical records involved. Knowing how fast these people work, I dont hold out much hope of this happening until well into 2008, which is too late for me. Oh well, I sent the GP an email yesterday pleading for him to send the referral letter ASAP, but Ive had no reply yet. Nevermind, if I cant get it done here, I can always get it done in Melbourne. At a price though :o(

Im sure Ive probably forgotten a ton of other stuff thats gone on, but my mind is drawing a blank at the moment. If I think of anything exciting, I’ll be sure to post it.  Oh – I managed to pick up an awesome buy at HMV – 3 Ray Harryhausen, Sinbad films on DVD for £9! Superb – it isnt Christmas without a Harryhausen movie or 2!

And another thing I forgot. Barclays bank  – avoid. Ive recently had a terrible experience in the Wolverhampton Centre branch. Cutting a long story short, it took 45 minutes, £20 and much frustration just to give Becca some of MY money from MY account that Ive had for nearly 20 years. Who would have known that its common for Barclays to require you to queue in the Foreign Exchange area to transfer money from one UK account to another UK account!?! Backwards Bank more like! Bank transfer cost £20, but a bankers draft costs £10. Want one of those instead? “Sorry, you’ll have to see one of our personal bankers for that”! Of which there is only 1 present. And they already have 3 people in a queue waiting for them. Also, for whatever reason, they also decided that multiple passwords werent safe enough for their online banking service. No sirree! Now, theyve sent me out a stupid farty little calculator thing that I have to put my card in the top and it gives me a password. WHAT!?!? Is this the 1940’s? Is this the new Enigma Machine? Is this what 50 odd years of passowords/code making has come too. Pathetic little calculator bollocky things?!? Grow up! Barclays can stick it up their backwards arses – the accounts are closing. Get your money from some other sap so you can make more Enigma calculators.  They’ll be sending all my statements out by pigeons at this rate. 

See how the idiots in this country make me cross again! Grrrrrrrrrr!  

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The Job & Phone (& Soup) Edition

Posted by captainbeaky on December 13, 2007

boeing-logo.jpgFurther to my previous update, Ive received my new phone, and Im really loving it. Compared to my old N73, its really fast, interface wise. The menu’s are slick, but dont have as many configurable items as the Nokia. The camera is really nice and is simple to use and quick to start up. One of the best thigns about this phone are the soft keys just under/on the screen. Unlike most phones which have a “Select” and “Back” keys just under the left and right corners of the screen, this phone has 3 little dots that are on the screen. So instead of actually pressing buttons for on screen prompts, you just touch the glass. It works really well and feels, like sort of futuristic! Only downside I can see so far is that the keypad will take some getting used to. 

Soup Update: It (Covent Gardens stilton, onion and white port Christmas Edition soup) was very nice! Better than the Broccoli and Stilton. Less stodgy and more creamy.

Also recieved some good news about the Boeing job I applied for in Australia many moons ago. Theyve completed their internal testing (which sounded pretty unsuccessful) and the agency guy Ive been talking to has informed them of my current situation, and “theyre more than happy to wait until next year to interview me”. Sounds like good news. If therye willing to wait, it must be an indication that they think Im suitable for the job. The only word I have at the moment is that they will probably be conducting interviews during the 2nd week of January. They’ll email me with specifics late his week/early next. Wooo Hooooooo!

 No updates after this until at least Sunday (16th) as we’re spending a bit of time visiting friends. Should be a good few days. Ciao for now, you big fat cow! 

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New Toy….Confirmed!

Posted by captainbeaky on December 11, 2007

mobile-phone-with-camera.jpgNot much really happening here right now. Just trying to help my Mom with the healing process. Although Im finding it much harder than anticipated as we are both very different people, with different outlooks and beliefs, I havent lived at home for longer than a few days for close to 12 years and its so hard to try to analyse day to day routines and work out whether theyre normal or not. Its hard, but it will all work itself out, Im sure. 

However, I have made it out to Wolvo today and picked up a few things. Im surprised at how easy it is to just turn Christmas off in your head. I know Im looking at decorated tree’s and fairy lights but its like Im not actually taking it in. Ordinarily Id be getting excited and hyped up by it all , but it really is like Ive decided that Christmass isnt happening this year, and all of a sudden….its true. Its like Halloween for me. I know its going on, and the shops are full of cards and masks and all manner of tat, but because I choose to ignore it as a “holiday”, I dont see any of it.  

 Any how I managed to pick up a cheap (£22 new from Tesco) copy of the new Legend of Zelda game for DS, a very tasty dark minty Terrys chocolate orange, and the seasonal variety of Covent Garden Soup (white onion with stilton and white port). Im not sure about the soup but thought Id give it a try (results in teh next update!). Got myself a “Tipton Pasty” to eat too, which was a bit yuk. The detail: (mainly for Laura!). 

  •  It was completely made of puff pastry
  •  It had a side crust
  •  It had very small bits of steak in
  •  It had FAR too many peas in it
  •  It had sweetcorn in (WTF!?!)
  •  It tasted like a cheap chip-shop pie

So as you can guess I was less than enamoured with it. I would give it…..3/10 knockers!

On a more positive note, I managed to buy myself a new phone today (hence the photo above). Decided on the Sony K850i over the Nokia N82 for a number of reasons. I really dont like teh Symbian plaatform. My existing N73 was my first ever Nokia phone and I found it horrendously slow, far from intuitive. I know the N82 has sat nav and wifi (which the Sony doesnt) but the Symbian factor really turned me off it. So, I managed to pick up the phone on eBay for £250, and luckily the seller was really patient and heplful as paypal did some strange things with unconfirmed addresses and echeques. But everything panned out and I should be getting the phone by Wednesday. 

Weather is pretty crap. In fact, Enlgand is pretty much how we left it. Weather is shit. Its as dark as a cave. Its always grey and miserable. Public transport is fundamentally broken. The banks are total arseholes and its “service with a scowl” at all of the shops and cafe’s. However, it IS reaffirming to know we made the right decision to go to Australia. What IS good however is British TV. Dragons Den, Top Gear, Ramsays Nightmares, Peep Show, Father Ted, QI, Have I got News For You and the upcoming Extras Christmas Special.  Beats “The Chasers” in Australia – awful immature rubbish. 

Posted in Food, Gadgets, TV, UK | 2 Comments »

I could eat a knob at night…….(Google it!)

Posted by captainbeaky on December 7, 2007

161949__pilkington_l.jpgBeen a busy day today. Got up (relatively) early to get a Doctors appointment, so I can get myself checked out. Sorted one for midday and made my way over Kings Heath. He saw me ok, and had a cha about family history etc… Took my blood pressure, listened to my heart and said I should have a blood test. But I had to wait around for 2.5 hours to get it. So off into town (all the while having not had anything to eat since the previous night) and got stuff for everyone. Back to Kings Heath for my blood test which was ok, considering my dislike of needles. I should have the results in a week, which dependant upon their outcome, I may have to be referred to a cardiologist. Wonderful!

Nothing else really happened today. Oh, I found out the devastating news…Quiznos in Birmingham is no more! Both places have closed and I was mortified. Especially seeing as I was going to have my first ultra-large sandwich to sort my hunger out.  At least the one in Melbourne is still open.

Id also forgotten how fantastic the Ricky Gervais podcasts are. Just listened to the 2 new ones and looked like a complete fool chuckling to myself on the train. Karl Pilkington is just one of the most funny blokes on the planet. I may have to start going over my old podcasts again. 

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Slow Going…

Posted by captainbeaky on December 6, 2007

logo_facebook.jpgEverything is pretty much the same here as it was on the last blog post. Starting to pay off all of our debts now and get ourselves in the black, which is nice. Also, hopefully going to meet up with a few friends next week. The change of scenery and folks to confide in will be a welcome change. Neither of us are used to doing nothing for this amount of time, especially in somewhere as “thrilling” as Coseley. We’re also remembering why we left this god forsaken country in the first place. Putting the lights on at 4pm. Putting the heating on at 5pm. A weather forecast that just reads “rain” for as distant as it can predict. And it looks like Becca will be spending yet another Birthday with a cold. :o( 

 Also, it looks like I might be getting somewhere with a company who I bought a TV off in Oz, got told it wasnt available, offered a refund and then never got it. Egg have taken my case up and seem confident that I may be able to get something back. Should be a nice bonus to help me pay off some of my loans. 

I must say that Im not sure Facebook will be on my favourite links bit much longer. Dont get me wrong, its great for sharing photos and keeping in touch, but the amount of superfluous rubbish that  permeates every corner of its being is really starting to get me down. There seems to be no way to block out the white noise of “so-and-so has sent a funwall message to whats-is-face”, or “weirdo has installed the zombie application”. I really dont care. Those sliders dont seem to do a thing, or the tick and cross in the corner of each pointless wall post. I dont want to know. Send me a message. Send me a photo. DONT send me an invitation to be a ninja. I really dont want to start banning folks from seeing me, but its getting that way. Looks like it could be time to move on.

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“Insert post title here”

Posted by captainbeaky on December 2, 2007

Still continuing to feel better each day. Its a strange feeling when you think about whats happened, and all less than 10 days ago. Im still not sleeping very well, and waking up at all kinds of early-o-clock times but not bad other than that. Oh well, its giving me a chance to catch up on some of the hundreds of podcasts Ive managed to accrue.

Its hard to describe my mood, as I feel kind of “normal” except I know I really dont want to be out having drinks and partying with folks. I dont feel like hearing about other peoples fun at the moment. Still, Im starting to think about presents and the like so I must be on the mend. Cant help but look at how nice the weather is in Melbourne though, seeing as its completely miserable here. 

Unless exciting things happen, I probably wont be posting here everyday as…well…..there isnt really much to say. Coseley isnt exactly Melbourne, and nobody really feels like doing anything extraordinary anyway. Especially not on a weekend this close to Christmas either.

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Back

Posted by captainbeaky on December 1, 2007

Well, after a week thats seemed to last a month, I thought I would try to start this up again. Im back in the UK now (and will be for the next few weeks I think) and while I dont really have any news as such, I thought I would start up this blog again, if only to try to get back some kind of normality. 

Those of you who are close friends already know the details about the sudden death of my Dad, so I wont repeat them now. It was his funeral yesterday, which thankfully went without a hitch. In a week of crap, grey rainy weather it was a calm, sunny day which we were pleased about. The turnout at the crem was huge. All of the pews on both sides of the hall were full, and people were having to line up along the sides and the back. It was a testament to how many people loved and respected my dad, and how well liked he was.  Everyone from friends, family and neighbours right through to the librarian, the nurse at the local doctors and shop floor workers at my Dads company were there. It was something to really draw strength from, and since then Ive felt really calm. I hope it doesnt seem insensitive of me to be posting on here at the moment, but not only is it somewhat thereputic for me to get my thoughts down, I want to “get back to normal” as soon as I can. Dad was always someone who looked on the bright side of everything. The glass was always half full. He always thought, and saw the best in people. I owe it to him to continue his positive way of thinking, and hence, here I am.

Continuing the positive theme, our house has sold and completed today. All the money has gone through, Ive cancelled all our gas, water, electric etc…. and its all finished. Its such a weight off our minds to know thats one thing we can draw a line under. Its just that it seems a bit hollow that Dad isnt around to see the end of what he started. He came around viewing houses with us, he helped us buy the property, helped in nearly EVERY bit of DIY we attempted, and he sold it for us when we left.

Thanks Dad xxx 

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