Monday, December 28, 2009

Resolutions

So. That's it. Christmas. Been. Gone. For 2009.

That just leaves New Year. We will more than likely end up doing what we do most years. We don't party, we watch dvds. Normally two in particular, probably the same two we watch every year. That is if we can keep our eyes open long enough, if not we work out which New Year to celebrate (Greek New Year is normally good), and head off to bed. Only to be woken by our New Year as everyone sets off fireworks (except for us, coz we've gone to bed).
That leaves the tradition of setting New Years resolutions. Normally I don't bother because I normally always forget them within 48 hours and end up breaking them. Plus they are normally always the same resolutions recycled each year - loose weight, blog more, get fitter etc.

This last year I did however make one resolution, and I have stuck to it throughout the year. We have too many books. Now although you can never have too many books, because books are good, storing too many books is always a hassle. This last year I resolved that I would only buy a new book if I had read one. This has worked very well, and I've stuck to it. It did however mean that I mostly only read the books that I bought during the year and not all those that are sitting unread on my bookshelf (and are still there).
So for 2010 I am going to continue with this resolution, and modify it slightly. For 2010 I can only buy a new book, if I have read a book and it was one that was in the house at the start of the year. I feel this will be tough, so we'll see how it goes. In the unlikely event that I read all of the books that were in the house (unread) at the start of the year, then I'll revert to the old version of the resolution.

I also intend to have the loose weight / get fitter resolution. I'm too heavy, probably unhealthily so. This is not good, and I really do need to do something about it. Now I'm not about to go joining a gym - aside from the expense I don't really have the time due to work commitments, but there are many positive things I can do, and I shall be trying.

I will also be trying to do something about my job, but I'm not sure what. I don't know if that means get a different job or simply approach the one I've got in a different way. I need to work that out. There are obviously dream jobs (indulging my love of nature), but I think I need to at least be a little realistic.

Finally I shall try and blog. Note I didn't say more.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Ghost Raptor

When I was out walking the dog yesterday I caught a glimpse of a raptor. 
 
My best guess would be a buzzard or a red kite, but at the distance that I was from what I sure I couldn't tell.  I did see the tree in which it had landed in so I made my way around to beneath that tree.  When I got there it was gone.  I can only assume that it had flown away when I was concentrating on the pathway, which was a little slippery as a result of the snow.
 
I didn't see the bird, but I did realise that I could do that all day long - beats being in an office any day.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Starlings

Non-Allotment Update

Too cold for a proper allotment update today, so instead I bring you a quick vid from the garden

Monday, December 14, 2009

There's No Point In Having A Tidy Garden.....

I know this because I spent a good proportion of yesterday sweeping up leaves, pruning rose bushes, weeding and generally tidying our back garden.

Now I know it's generally accepted that sweeping up fallen leaves is a thankless task, as the minute you turn your back more arrive like unwanted relatives, and no matter how hard you try there will always be three that evade the broom (it's never one or two or more than three - always three). With Christmas approaching however bringing with it some wanted relatives, it seemed prudent to at least have a go at the garden.

I was quite impressed with my days toil, there were still three leaves out there but the rest where safely loaded into the compost bin to slowly turn into plant food to put back into the garden in time. It looked tidier too. That was until the birds arrived today. Obviously impressed that things had been disturbed a bit they spent the entire day hunting for insects, disturbing the once zen-like state of the newly tidied garden. I do not begrudge them this at all, not one little bit - I just wish they tidied up behind themselves a bit.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Mid December Allotment Update

Recorded earlier this morning.



Friday, December 11, 2009

Day Off

Have a day off from work today, mainly to try and do some Christmas shopping this afternoon. I shot the video below earlier this morning, and have just finished editing it.

At the moment I'm sitting in our conservatory looking out into the garden watching the garden birds, seem to be lots out their this morning - probably due to the colder weather. As it gets colder more come in to stock up more easily and not expend lots of energy when food is readily available in the garden. This comes with a certain responsibility as it means we need to continue to put out food as some birds will have come to rely on what's in our garden.


Saturday, November 28, 2009

Allotment Update With a Difference

Something different today. Apologies for the soundtrack!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Muppets: Bohemian Rhapsody

This seems to be making appearance on lots of blogs so I thought I'd add it to mine too.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Allotment Update

video


Have had upload problems with this video, so have had to modify what I had originally intended to upload.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Allotment Update from Iphone

I wanted to test the video capabilities of my iphone for video allotment updates so here goes!

I found that the native files from my iphone are physically too large to upload to blogger, posterous or youtube, so I have edited and rendered via Premiere Elements to get the video below.

video

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Help Me Decorate!

I've got my very own room on 12seconds now. It's called, what else - Tonto's Wild Tales!

The cool people over at http://12seconds.tv have set it up so I can post my updates and link to Twitter, what I need now is some people to help me decorate it with videos of their own. So head over to my room, and leave me a video post answer to my first question. Not only can you leave me a video but you can help me run my allotment too!

If you don't have a 12seconds.tv account it's really fast to set one up, and you can even sign up with your Twitter username. Go on - you know you want to!

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Always Bring The Weather With You

It's November and yet the temperature is still regularly reaching 15 celcius during the day. It's supposed to be the first month of winter and it is unseasonably mild. It is more like a typical autumn that winter, wet and mild.

As a gardener and allotment holder it's normally good to have some rain, it means that I have to do less watering of plants. We've had so much however that it means the ground is nearly impossible to dig due to the wet conditions. If this keeps up I will need to cover the exposed ground during the week in order for me to be able to dig it over at the weekend. Although the forecast at the moment is for rain on the weekend too, so that probably won't happen it that prediction holds true.

Makes sense for me to have installed a second water-butt at the allotment last weekend, in between the showers. It should be filling up nicely this week!

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Magnolia

It's been too wet to do an allotment video update this weekend. Instead I bring you the weird sight of our Magnolia tree with it's very alien looking seed pods. It is Halloween afterall!



video

With apologies for the shaky camera work.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

A Round Up Post

So, I had an email from Orange earlier in the week to say they would announce how to get hold of an iPhone, and their price plans next week. That said the market is awash with new smartphones at the moment - just in time for Christmas perhaps? There are to name but a few the Motorola Dext, Blackberry Storm 2, Palm Pre, and of course the iPhone. Not forgetting the arriving soon Motorola Droid, of which I posted about earlier in the week. My phone has died and I am using an old phone with my current sim, so I am in the market for one of these new all singing, all dancing, and "cooks too", phones. The only question is which way to go? I lean towards Motorola and iPhone because of the Orange connection, but Blackberry Storm 2 is also a possibility.


Wondering which my next smartphone is gonna be on 12seconds.tv


----------

In other news I am reading James Lee Burke's "Sunset Limited". I have always loved crime novels and this one is no exception - it's an award winner. When I was on holiday I was reading another one of his novels - "In The Electric Mist With the Confederate Dead", which has been made into a film starring Tommy Lee Jones. If the film is half as good as the book it should be awesome. It's already available in the US on DVD, and in the UK in February 2010.



----------

Weather forecast for the weekend is wet again, good job I picked up another water butt from the tip at the weekend for the allotment!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Droid vs IPhone

i Don't have an opinion which is better but it's gonna be fun watching them slug it out:



Hobson's Choice

I've been following politics more recently than perhaps I ever have before. Part of this is because of my job but that is "subject verboten" here.

What gets me though is if you've followed the American elections at all you can tell that the man who is now their president had a charisma of leadership right from the start. The bright hope if you like. The man who could probably make a difference (this latter point perhaps wouldn't have been hard given the warm-up act).

In a little over six months time we will be going to the polls. If you follow the ratings probably to elect a new government, rather than reinstate the current one. What gets me however is that neither the current "leader" of our nation or his probable successor have any charisma of leadership whatsoever. In fact cold custard is probably a stronger contender in these stakes than either of those two, and before you say anything the guy who'll probably come in third place ain't there either.

This actually makes me despair in our British political system, because we have essentially (and I know this isn't how it actually works), three people who I can't sign up to in any way, shape or form. Three useless - probably in it for the money and not the social responsibility - excuses for leadership this country has ever seen, and I've gotta vote for one of them.

I wonder if Bill and Ben the flowerpot men are available?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Lazy Sunday

The weather was a vast improvement on yesterday, so I spent this morning at the allotment. It's really the season where the plot gets tidied up and ground dug over ready for next season. All the broad beans are in now, so there will be very little planting to do before early March.

It looks as though those crops, Brussel sprouts & cauliflower that I planted some weeks ago, are really doing well but I'm not sure if they are going to be ready in time for Christmas which was the intention. Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without sprouts (and yes I can hear all of you making that gagging noise as you read this paragraph).

As I sit and type this post the sun is setting already. The clocks changed this morning so we've lost the hour of daylight savings time, but it does at least mean that it will be a little lighter in the mornings on the way to the station, even if the reverse will now be true for the return trip in the evenings.

Writing this post is a form of procrastination at the moment. I should be perusing our bookshelves looking for something to read, instead I started by perusing the virtual shelves on Amazon, looking for Christmas presents for various people. From there I somehow ended up in the blogger editor for my blog and started typing. It is now certainly much easier to do that with the shiny new laptop than it would have been before on the old desktop. I think this is probably why most of my posts were videos. A post of convenience could be recorded at any time and then uploaded when convenient - now I can blog in any room in the house (although no I haven't tried blogging from the bathroom yet - now there is an idea!)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Book Review

Lousy weather today has forestalled any work on the allotment - too wet, so a video book review for you. Possibly the best book I've read this year and a very strong contender for my book of the year 2009.

video

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Shagged by a rare parrot - Last Chance To See - BBC Two

Last episode of Last Chance To See is on BBC2 this evening, but this has to be the highlight of the series so far

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Friday, October 16, 2009

It's About the Light


At this time of year I get to see very little of the garden, as when I get up and go to work it's dark, and by the time I come home from work it's dark. What I do see is either by the light of the neighbouring street-lights or from our garden outside light.

That said this time of year is one of the most spectacular. The autumn when greens are turning to rusty reds, oranges and browns. Spectacular colours of retreating plants preparing for a rest-full spell over the winter.

Given what I see of the evenings in the garden I thought I'd share some pictures of our strawberry tree (Arbutus unedo). It's getting to it's most spectacular stage when it has both white flowers and green, yellow and red fruit all at the same time.
It's also known as the "once only tree", because although the fruits are edible you only ever want to eat one because they taste awful (I've never tried so can't say whether this is true or merely garden legend. Blackbirds on the other hand love the fruit, and bees love the flowers.

As it was dark when I took these pictures they are done so by the aid of the camera flash. Perhaps there is a new theme starting here - the garden by "flash"light?




Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Flash Forward

I'm beginning to think I am in a minority of one. Everybody else disagrees with me. They all think it's great. I think it's boring, predictable and has some really rubbish acting.

Flash Forward has now been through it's third episode. I watched the first one, and thought it was dreadful, but there was enough of a hook at the end (the only guy in the world who didn't black-out for 137 seconds), to make me watch the second with a hope it would get better. After all not every programme is that great in the first episode, it takes time to get the story going after all. Introduce the characters.

So I watched the second episode. No improvement. Then watched the third one and fell asleep.

I know I am in a minority of one here, so tell me what is it I'm missing? There is something right? Please explain it to me?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Introducing Mr Robin

I've been working at home today in the garden as opposed to the allotment. It's the time of year when things need tidying up, pruning, raking, sweeping, trimming, lifting, cutting, storing.

I've been kept company most of the day by the birds, at times the sparrows (like comedy sparrows from a disney film) lined up along the hedge, watching me. I think probably waiting for me to leave or go into the shed for a moment so that they can swoop in and get some seeds.

I've also had a living shadow all day. A little robin. He's fearless. He will gladly come within a few inches to see what I am doing. At times I've been frightened that I might inadvertenly tread on him. He doesn't seem to mind human or canine company at all, but is a little wary of the other birds, particularly those that are larger than him like the doves and pigeons. Those of similar size he merely chases away - "my garden, get lost".

I thought you would like to meet him, so naturally there is video, but it won't upload for some reason. I'll try again later, and see if I can make progress.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

I Love My Blog

Maria asked me about my last post and why I said I was thinking of giving up my blog for fear of being discovered. It occurs that other readers of these post might be interested to know the answer to that question to. So here's an excerpt from the email I sent in reply:

Speaking of blogging and since you've asked ;) I think fear of discovery is probably worse than the discovery itself. As far as I know there is nothing contractually that prevents me blogging, and I am deliberately careful to avoid blogging about work, and topics that cover my work, to avoid any conflict. Often difficult as many of the posts in my head, are about the topics I work on as they are so relevant. We've been trying for sometime to get a work-blog going, to write about some of those work things - but I can't say "hey I'm a blogger, I'll sort it out"; because then everyone would want to read my blog. I do like to keep work and my private life separate, hence the fear of discovery. Last time I moved [blogs] it was because someone at work found my flickr pages and there was a link to my old blog on there, hence the hasty departure. As far as I know no one is looking for me, nor am I being stalked. As my posts are now very much, if not now entirely video posts obviously the fear of discovery is great, particularly as it's far easy to "spot me" when you can see me, rather than plain writing.

Don't get me wrong, I love to blog. I love the interaction with my readers, even if there are only about half-a-dozen. It's just a really weird limbo between wanting to blog, and not wanting to be "found" (by some people at least). Plus having the time to record or write a post, is also very often dictated by work. The fact that I want to do more video, have been looking at new video cameras, and am buying new video editing software with a new laptop, is pushing me in a certain direction, but the fear remains! Now all I need is the time!


So there you have it. I love my blog. I love posting (whether it be the written word or the video post). I'll be sticking to "wild tales" and not posting about work. There will probably also be more video, and hopefully I'll find the time to actually "write" something every once in a while too.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

To Blog or Not to Blog?

I'm not sure I should be blogging anymore. I've moved far more to video posts than I ever have before. Mainly because they enable me to capture exactly what I am feeling at the time they are recorded, rather than relying on my memory for the time I get back behind a keyboard. It also makes me feel quite exposed, and the chance of being "discovered" by someone who I would rather not know that I am a blogger.

I do however enjoy it. So while I continue to think about what I should do. Here are some videos:


video

Just Seen A Fox

video

The Fox

video

In The Shed

video

And Finally Chicken Poo!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Tweets for Today

  • 20:28 Watching @stephenfry and mark carwardine in Last Chance To See #
  • 17:57 So Orange will get the iphone 3GS. Not sure if I'm happy about that or not? bit.ly/13ofKf #
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Just When You Thought Apple Couldn't Get More Devious

Sometime ago I wrote a post about why I wasn't going to be buying an i-phone.  Since then the i-phone has grown, it got 3G and has now become much more of the phone it should have been in the first place.  Now this has happened.  Which removes one of my last reasons for not going i-phone.  Plus my mobile (the one I use for a lot of my video blogging etc has died).
 
I've been onto the Orange website and registered my interest.  Now all I need to do is wait and see.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Tweets for Today

  • 20:26 Watching "The Boat That Rocked" on DVD #
  • 07:10 So today is going to go something like: walk dog, allotment, lunch, F1, gardening, roast beef, upload allotment vid (if recorded), bed #
  • 09:16 @Documentally enjoy #
  • 09:28 Doing battle with the weeds - not sure if I'm winning myloc.me/Ni1b #
  • 10:56 Finished refelting plot neighbour's shed roof - a good job if I do say so myself #
  • 11:15 12seconds - Saving Seed tiny12.tv/J858W #
  • 11:16 Saving seed twitvid.com/785BB #
  • 11:26 I uploaded a YouTube video -- @tontowilliams [Saving seed] bit.ly/3Y9DwE #
  • 12:11 Settling down to watch grand prix #
  • 12:13 New Post on www.talesofthewild.blogspot.com #
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Allotment - Late September Update

video

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Is It Really Only a Week Since Our Holiday?

It's strange but this time last week we had just got back from our holiday. It seems much longer. Work has been particularly frantic this week, and next week is shaping up to be the same. There's been no blogging and hardly any tweeting, so for the time being at least I thought I would re-live at least part of our holiday with a video. The safari video.


video

Tweets for Today

  • 08:42 RT @thermalsatsuma: Just checking that ur not throwing any fud away #caturday twitpic.com/j68pl #
  • 09:21 @thermalsatsuma have fun #
  • 09:25 Work's been so unbelievably busy this week have had little time for anything else, first time this week to visit allotment #
  • 11:53 Done on allotment today going home to do hoovering and then watch grand prix qualifying #
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Friday, September 25, 2009

Tweets for Today

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Tweets for Today

  • 19:42 Haven't tweeted for days. Been busy back at work boo! #
  • 22:01 @WestonGreenMan yep mine went in last Sunday. Hoping the winter is milder this year. Frost got some of 'em last winter #
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Sunday, September 20, 2009

Tweets for Today

  • 07:29 Awake early. I thought you were supposed to sleep better in your own bed after a holiday? Time to walk dog then off to #allotment #
  • 10:14 Buzzard just flown across allotment. Now sitting in neighbouring oak tree watching proceedings myloc.me/HOPY #
  • 11:48 @david_hewson is your civic not the hybrid version then? #
  • 12:22 @david_hewson sounds like you got the best deal all round #
  • 17:35 @willkay allotment was fine thanks - notice you didn' t do any weeding either, but thanks for looking after the blog! #
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Saturday, September 19, 2009

Tweets for Today

  • 19:27 Must update my twitter profile which, at the moment is blank. What should I write? myloc.me/Gs1R #
  • 19:33 RT @paisleyofficial: Topic for 2day:favorite Dinosaur.mine would be either Allosaurus or Giganotosaurus. => brontosaurus for me #
  • 20:47 @langley when I emailed Kodak they said mid-sept but it's still not available so I don't know now myloc.me/GukX #
  • 22:41 @mariarocio that's a great photo of will and a great post too myloc.me/GxGq #
  • 22:42 RT @MDuette: For sheer creativity..ding ding ding! RT @RusticLad The waterKoi #petfilms #
  • 07:33 Headin' for home soon #
  • 07:48 RT @thermalsatsuma: I haz a soft pillow #caturday twitpic.com/i9ssx #
  • 09:00 Setting sail (I mean hitting the road) #talklikeapirateday myloc.me/GS9G #
  • 10:05 Yarr putting into port for supplies (need caffeine) myloc.me/GUEg #
  • 12:26 Home again twitvid.com/E573 2 #
  • 16:26 @langley kodak Zi8 listed on amazonUK as a pre-order for availability 1st October '09 £149.99 kodak have online for same price but no date #
  • 16:45 Big thank you to @willkay and @mariarocio for posting on my blog whilst I've been away <3 tinyurl.com/mkg399 #
  • 17:13 Posted a videoblog - day one of our holiday tinyurl.com/nm4ce4 #
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Holiday Day One - Getting My Bearings

video

A Really Big Thank You To Will and Maria

Thanks for posting on my blog while I've been away guys. Excellent job!

video

Friday, September 18, 2009

cry havoc

Last post! Yep, this is definitely my last guest post (for now). At some point (the mighty) Alan should return home and take back the reins of his blog. I hope I've managed to do my part in looking after the blog. I've tried to stick to topics that should be covered (or would be covered) in Alan's blog - good news, I deleted the whole political rant and the libellous attack on Phil Collins. Which means that I'm left with talking about dogs.

Here's something you can try at the next cocktail party you're at. As you mingle, occasionally nibbling on a carrot stick dipped in humus, swallowing a vol-au-vent whole, attempting to drink around the fly in your Chardonnay (wouldn't that be ironic) casually drop into conversation one of these two bon-mots:
I really don't get on with children.
I really don't get on with animals.
And discover which one makes you the most unpopular. Oddly enough, it is the not getting on with kids that is the more socially acceptable. Society tends to be quite understanding about the fact that some times people just don't like/understand children. However, casually mention that you don't like/understand animals and you can suddenly become a social pariah.

I don't really get on with animals. Don't get me wrong, I like animals, so long as they are in the wild, far away from me, or behind bars. I really don't get on with a specific group of animals, pets. Oh, it's not a medical condition, I don't suffer from allergies or asthma. I'm just not comfortable around animals. I don't like them up close.

...and this is where I alienate myself from all of Alan's readers....

Anyhoo, what I really wanted to write about was dogs, dogs in Tijuana. There are many dogs that run wild on the streets of Tijuana. They survive how they survive, and sometimes they don't. In theory I shouldn't have a problem with them (the street dogs) because at no stage do I have to put up with them sniffing my crotch, licking my face, shedding hair. However, there is one major problem with street dogs - the dawn chorus.

There's this bit in 101 Dalmatians, and I mean the original cartoon because I haven't seen the real life film, where the dogs bark at sunset? They send out a message looking for the missing puppies. I think there is a special name for it? The Dusk Discussion or something daft like that. It's been so long since I've seen the cartoon that I might have got this wrong, but bear with me. Well, that doesn't happen here. What does happen is that, round about 5am, every morning, a group of street dogs come down our street. This sets off all the dogs in people's houses - except they aren't in their owner's houses, they are outside, patrolling the grounds, waiting to bark. And bark they do. And the street dogs bark back. And total and utter bedlam ensues for the next five minutes. Every. Blummin'. Morning. Except Tuesday morning. Tuseday morning is slightly different. Tuesday is bin day, and the binmen come whenever they want. So, most people put out there rubbish on Monday night. This means that the street dogs don't just walk down our street, they stop at every bin bag for a good sniff. This means that Tuesday's bark-a-thon lasts for a good thirty minutes. I'm really not that keen on dogs, especially ones that bark at 5am every day.

And on that note, I'll finish. I hope that you've enjoyed my guest posts. If you have, you can find me here. If not, don't blame Alan.

Tweets for Today

  • 19:40 RT @CharleyBoorman: BAM 2 is coming out on Sunday 27th of September in 10 days. Tell your friends. X #
  • 17:51 So we have to go home tomorrow! Can't help wondering what state the #allotment and garden will be in. Feels like we've been away longer #
  • 17:56 RT @AllotmentAli: RT @BAAF: BAAF is gearing up for National Adoption Week. Help spread the word www.nationaladoptionweek.org.uk. #
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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Tweets for Today

  • 18:37 @willkay post to your hearts content. those are some amazing trees! #
  • 18:40 @Documentally tee hee, how does he pull a pint? #
  • 18:44 RT: @thelittleidiot New post: Moby begins extended tour of USA, Canada and Mexico! tinyurl.com/pnevtl #
  • 18:45 Cooking dinner (well stirring a pan of beans) and reading tweets #
  • 19:46 @documentally twitpic.com/hybar - Cheers - hope you're having a great holiday ! #
  • 11:00 Reading a James Lee Burke novel and trying to enjoy the last few days of holiday #
  • 14:48 A bit of religous architecture pic.gd/315889 #
  • 14:54 Despite being one of God's creatures - he's barred! pic.gd/33220b #
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raised like royalty

Weirdly, we were all raised as if we were not ever going to have to get our hands dirty. I thought it was just my mother, but speaking to one of my kids' godparents the other day, he said to me that he was having trouble starting a new business because he's having trouble charging.
So. He works, but people don't pay him.
I asked him why he couldn't just say "It's going to be this much" and he said exactly what I would say in his situation. "Money is so vulgar!"
It is. It's how we were raised. How does one get through that hurdle? I've given him some advice - things that I think I could muster, given his circumstances -, but I really don't know the right answer nor do I know why we would both feel this way. Is it our parents? Did they never discuss money or, maybe, argue about money so much that we in turn find it infinitely pedestrian?
I don't know. But I don't like it. It impedes my own development. It's very frustrating.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Tweets for Today

  • 22:09 @mariarocio yay day off! Enjoy :) #
  • 07:15 @willkay hey thanks for posting again, twice in one day on two blogs! Enjoy your day off #
  • 13:57 twitpic.com/hxdxf Gonna climb this next #
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would photos help?

Re: the post below (no, not that one, below that one, further down, the one about gardens and stuff). It occurred to me that mayhap my words weren't explanatory enough. So, I nipped out with a camera this morning (try to feel special dear reader, try to feel that I stepped out especially, in the early hours of this morning, on my day off, just for you - in reality maria wanted to get some photography done so I tagged along and then banged off a couple of shots) and took some photos just for you, yes you.

Now, I'm not sure how to get photos in Blogger, nor how to position them. Plus I don't want to flood Alan's blog with pictures. So, I'm going to load them in small and hope that you can click on them to biggerize them (or is it embiggen? never sure what the correct name is). The picture here, on the left, is a roundabout. You can't see the real work that goes into it, but you have to remember that this is Mexico. You need to think how hard it is to grow stuff in a place where there is (on average) 20cm of rain a year. Then think of the work that goes into keeping this roundabout green, clean, and growing. The picture on the right is of trees (just in case you don't recognise trees), not mushrooms. And on the left they are cut into cuboids. And this is what I was trying to say in my post. The trees are all cut into shapes, not left to grow willy-nilly. And the thing to note is that this isn't some important road, in the middle of the city, that might help attract tourists. And this is what helps to make Tijuana beautiful. It's all in the details. A side road off a side road, reveals how a tree has been cut to make a shelter for a car. This morning, as we driving around looking for photo ops for maria, we came across countless examples of trees, roundabouts, and weird bits just off the pavement that someone had gone totally mad with. Considering that it hasn't rained now for nearly five months, it's surprising how green and pleasant this city is.

Enjoy.

I'm on holiday too

It's 7:48pm in Tijuana, which makes it 9:48pm in Mexico City, and 3:48am in London. It is Tuesday 15th September. In an hour and a bit (9pm my time, 11pm in Mexico City, 7am Alan's time) the President will ring a bell. Several times. This is because nearly two hundred years ago Miguel Hidalgo rang a bell, summoning the Mexican people to war. Mexicans celebrate their independence on the 16th September. However, the celebrations start now, on the evening of the 15th.

They don't have 'Bank Holiday Mondays' in Mexico, but they do have days when the banks are shut. These are national holidays. They are fixed to dates rather than Mondays. Tomorrow (for me) is a day off work. The country will (semi) shut down, and everyone will get a chance to sleep off the hangover, that the majority of Mexicans are casually working their way towards as I type. As the President rings the bell he repeats the call to arms, he calls out the names of the heroes who have died defending Mexico, he mentions the names of the leaders of the independence. Each time he says something he prefaces each statement with ¡Viva! When he finishes, the crowd respond ¡Viva! At the end he will ring the bell another three times, ¡Viva Mexico! The reply is ¡Viva!

So, now you know, in case you are stuck in a Mexican bar tonight and a bell starts to ring. It isn't last orders, it's a call to arms. And the bar will be full. All the bars are full. And the streets are full. The majority of Mexicans will be out of the house tonight, together, waiting for that moment when they proclaim their readiness for Independence. It's a great evening. On of those things you should try to do before you die. Get yourself into a bar full of Mexicans on the 15th September.

And tomorrow is a day off work. There is a great advantage to having holidays on fixed dates, and there is a tremendous disadvantage. The good news is when the day falls on a Tuesday or a Thursday, because when that happens I also get the Monday/Friday off, making it a very long weekend. This is fantastic in May when 1st, 5th, and 15th are days off. It is possible to get the 1st of May on a Thursday which means I don't go to work until Tuesday. If it falls on a Friday, no work until W*dnesd*y. However, there is a problem. When the date falls on a weekend, you get no day off work.

May 15th is my birthday (make a note), it is also teacher's day. Teacher's Day is a day to celebrate teachers (that's me), and to celebrate, they shut the schools! Whoot! A day off on my birthday! How cool is that? In four years of teaching it has become something I (sort of) expect. Therefore, can you imagine my disappointment when I discovered (as you discovered when you went to make a note of my b'day) that in 2010, the 15th May is on a Saturday. In 2011 it is on a Sunday. I don't get my day off work.

And those days off work are important. The majority of Mexicans work 9/10 hour days. Vacations are 6 days in the first year, 8 days in the second, 10 from then on (basically, after 3 years you qualify for two weeks holiday a year). So, national holidays are important because they are the "free" days, the days that don't count as part of your holiday allowance.

So, enjoy your holiday Alan. Know that I am also on holiday, and so is the whole of Mexico. However, we will all be back at work on Thursday. There are no "half term" holidays in Mexican schools, so the next day off is November 2nd. Hey ho.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Tweets for Today

  • 07:50 RT: @mariarocio posted at @tontowilliams's blog. bit.ly/weMj3 more than I've written in ages. => thanks for the post :) #
  • 14:10 twitpic.com/htcyb On safari #
  • 15:23 twitpic.com/htjh8 Still on safari #
  • 15:27 @mariarocio don't think you can break a blog - and yes i did like the post #
  • 17:07 My guest bloggers @willkay & @mariarocio are getting comments on their posts. Thinks I should holiday more often #
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guest post. different guest. obviously.

Or maybe not so obviously. Why would I think it was obvious that it is someone else?

I met Alan through blogging. I think he arrived through neil h, but I might be very wrong about this. I remember being a teensy bit worried about his showing up because he's English. Then, when I realised that he wanted to be friends, in spite of who we were, I remember being awed by his braveness. He's a brave man, Alan. Maybe you don't think he is, I don't know, I know it must seem all so very normal, with his allotment, his water butt, his dog, his books, his life. Know that he's an extremely courageous man, Alan.

-The courage that it takes to have hope. To go to his allotment and see the ravages of some bug or other, and still believe everything is going to come through, to struggle through every day life, that takes courage.-

And that is not even the courage Alan had to display to be our friend. When Alan found us and commented, there was a small - it felt huge - sub-segment of the bloggy blogginess that hated us with hatred only known in Mexico by people who live around people from Veracruz.

Big hatred.

I think we even warned Alan.

But he persisted. And we loved him for it. We love him now. We live for his videos (much like we live for neil h's caturdays. When I say we, I may be using the royal we, but I'm confident I'm not), we wish his life was better - damn water butt stealing bastards! -, we wish we all lived closer.

And to think we didn't even know each other a few years ago. And now we kind of feel like adopting him. How life changes.

Anyway, the photo is our fair city, Tijuana, Mexico, and I am maria. I have a blog, somewhere in Typepad, where I try to make sense of my life and show images of the city.

Don't go there now, though, because the images are not that beautiful at the moment. I usually try to show the best side of the city, but it's an uphill battle, because, beautiful as Mexico is, Tijuana is not the most shining of examples. Some people feel like it's not really a part of Mexico at all, it looks so... outside of it. It's like we've put together the worst of it all and just dumped it at the border.

I'm not going to say that all people find it ugly. Tourists seem to love it (and it's hard to express how much not like Mexico it is), or hate it (and then you're really disappointed that they think this is Mexico), and the people who are actually from Tijuana believe it's the best city in the country (and who can blame them? I think my hometown is the best even though I know it sucks). It doesn't lack excitement, though, and it's where we've made our home.

And this is where maybe we're a little bit like Alan, courageous. Or at least that's what I always hope to be. A little bit like Alan, because he is awesome.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Tweets for Today

  • 20:03 RT: @FaunaFloraInt Last Chance To See Stephen Fry & Mark Carwardine search Africa for the northern white rhino. BBC2 8pm bit.ly/fpEpL #
  • 08:42 Small gardens good for wildlife bit.ly/shtHd #
  • 11:01 Just remembered that it's Monday and I'm not at work 'coz we're on holiday #
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Sunday, September 13, 2009

Tweets for Today

  • 20:34 We're here settled in, checked out local pub already #
  • 21:12 @willkay I assume trash means writing a pulitzer of a post? #
  • 21:35 @willkay Me. Worried? Is this the face of concern? #
  • 21:39 twitpic.com/hhkhw Not the face of concern #
  • 21:54 @Soggous if i heard news right - Lewis pole, Sutil 2nd, Kimi 3rd. Jenson 6th #
  • 08:16 RT: @willkay I have written a guest p ost on @tontowilliams's blog bit.ly/13OfCb about how green Tijuana is. => Thanks will :) #
  • 09:43 twitpic.com/hkhd9 Out with the hound getting to know the lie of the land #
  • 10:47 Back at base. Walked a good few miles this morning #
  • 10:49 It's @tontosgirl 's birthday today. The hound and I are now waiting for her to get up so she can unwrap her presents #
  • 11:28 @Documentally not harsh at all. I'd have deleted his comment, and blocked him #
  • 16:57 @tontosgirl official birthday bbq photo twitpic.com/hlgfk #
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Saturday, September 12, 2009

need a gardener?

Shhhhh! Try to read without moving your lips. Rumour has it that although Tontowilliams (can I just call him TW from now on?) has left for his holidays, he might have left traps around the place. I know he got very upset when he woke up to discover his butt had been tampered with (I've always wanted to write that line "his butt had been tampered with", I wonder how many times I can get to write it today?) and I'm a bit worried that when he discovers that his blog has been tampered with he might get all cross again. I love TW (or Alan as I will now call him) in that whole way that a man can love a man (without tampering with his butt), however I have a sort of set image of Alan in my mind. He always seems to be a very patient, understanding bloke. Never seems to get too over excited. So when he swears (and I know this is a bit childish) it comes as a bit of a shock. And boy, did he swear when his butt was tampered with (yes, I know, his water butt was stolen, but it sounds funnier when I don't type water and do type tampered). So, I'm a bit worried that if I say something wrong, do something wrong, in his blog, then he'll get all medieval on my bottom.

Oh, hang on, here I go, talking about Al (nope, don't think that works does it? I can't call him Al because that makes me Betty) getting medieval on my bottom and you don't know who I am. Sorry. How rude of me. Hello. I'm Will. Although I tend to go by will because I'm down-wiv-da-kids and don't use capitals. But I find that it gets confusing sometimes when I say will without using a capital W and I'd hate to start italicising my name, that would just be weird. Anyhoo, I'm Will and I live in Mexico - Tijuana to be more exact. Last week I was lying in bed (it was 9am Saturday morning) checking the footy scores on my laptop. Although I live in Mexico I'm not Mexican (well, not for a another year). I was born and brought up in England. This means that I have a totally irrational devotion to Sheffield United. Therefore every Saturday morning I have to get myself to a computer to check on how the mighty Blades have done. Except there was no match last Saturday. However, there was the other delight of Saturday morning, am allotment post from Alan. Even betterer, it was a video post. We (that would be maria and I) love Alan's video posts and have a Saturday morning ritual of loading them up, checking out Neil's caturday picture, then settling down to watch the video. Except there was no sound. Somehow Alan and I ended up in a chat on gmail, he explained he was going on holiday, asked me to guest blog on here.

So, guest blogging. What the heck am I supposed to do? Do I just copy out posts from my blog and stick them up here? Except that wouldn't be a good idea.I mean, if you read my blog you read it for your own (sick and twisted) reasons, reasons that would be totally different to why you read Alan's blog because, let's face it, we tend to write about different things. I'm fairly sure that people who read Alan's blog don't read it to hear about the gun battles in the streets of Tijuana, the problems of crossing the border, the annoying people I work with. You might be interested in tacos, what a real Mexican taco is like, because Alan sometimes posts about food. Or I could write about books because I know Alan likes his books, but I've hit a personal reading block at the moment (it's an age thing). But I think I'd probably write about gardens and gardening because, if there is one thing I can be pretty sure about, the readers of Alan's blogs like stories of gardening.

Except I haven't seen many gardens in Tijuana.

Not gardens as English people know them. The smallest, awful-est, rattiest, unkempt garden in England is still better and bigger than most gardens in Tijuana. If you have any space in front of your house (that would be space between the house and the pavement) then you park the car there, behind the eight foot wall (topped with razor wire) that surrounds your property. You see, you don't keep your car on the street if you can help it, and you don't have a garage because it only rains six days a year. So, you squeeze the car into the space between your house and the wall. If you have space at the back of your house this is normally taken up with the washing machine and the dryer (it only rains six days a year), the water heater (you don't really want that inside the house because of the heat it generates - anyhoo, it makes more sense to be out in the open air where it gets heated by the sun), and the grill (for cooking on because there is nothing better than a Carne Asada and who wants to cook in the house in this heat?). So, in my experience, there aren't a lot of gardens in Tijuana BUT there are a lot of gardeners in Tijuana.

Yes, I'll give you time to re-read that again - no gardens, lots of gardeners.

It is amazing how beautiful Tijuana is, and it is beautiful because "the devil is in the details". Although there appears to be little greenery on private property, there is a lot of greenery on public property. The side of the roads are covered in green, the middle of the roads are covered in green, the roundabouts are covered in green, and there are parks all over the place. All of these green areas are carefully manicured and lovingly cared for. And not just once every six weeks. Squads of (council?) gardeners move around the city tending to the grass and the trees. And when I say "tending to the trees", I don't mean giving them a bit of a trim. The trees are all shaped. They aren't hacked back a bit, each tree is shaped. There are streets with rows of trees that are cut to look like fat, bass drums perched on wooden sticks. The trees in the shopping mall car park are cut to look like birds.

I am often asked what is the difference between London and Tijuana or England and Mexico. When comparing the countries, the first thing I have to say is that Mexico is immensely bigger (mind-boggling bigger) than England but England is green. England is very green, whereas (the) Mexico (I know) is brown. When it comes to comparing the cities, again the Mexican city wins in the size category (mainly because the city is spread out and there are few buildings taller than two stories). Tijuana is a huge sprawling city built in a bowl (there's a beautiful picture of Tijuana at night here). However, and here's the strange bit, I'd say that Tijuana was also greener than London. Oh, I know London has its parks but so does Tijuana. And Tijuana has its streets. Its streets that are four lanes wide with a row of trees down the middle of the street. Its streets that have, not just trees and grass on its pavements but has areas that whole corner gardens appear. Its streets that have roundabouts covered in grass (and often statues). All of this greener is tended to with great love and care. If England is seen as a nation of gardeners I would suggest that Mexico comes a close second.

Tweets for Today

  • 20:10 12seconds - 12erator: The 12seconds User That I'd Like To Meet In Person tiny12.tv/5YX7G #
  • 08:07 RT: @thermalsatsuma Doris oversees the recycling bins #caturday twitpic.com/hexta #
  • 08:08 Holiday starts now! #
  • 08:23 @Soggous just right for overwintering broad beans variety aqua dulce claudia #
  • 08:47 AudioBoo: I've posted a phoneboo... boo.fm/b62567 #
  • 08:49 @thermalsatsuma thank you #
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Friday, September 11, 2009

Tweets for Today

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Thursday, September 10, 2009

Guest Bloggers

Someone will be blog sitting. Can you guess who?

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Tweets for Today

  • 18:23 At a pub on the beach enjoying the late summer weather #
  • 19:09 twitpic.com/gzl9d Just had dinner here #
  • 19:58 Picked up parcel it is my @scottevest ultimate hoodie and it is awesome! 13 pockets of awesome, attention to detail are phenomenal #
  • 21:11 @ScotteVest my top 2 Life is an Adventure. Don't Run Out of Pockets. Clothing for hands free travel #
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Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Tweets for Today

  • 20:44 RT: @gavingough "Bangkok Photo School: November Classes Announced" at bit.ly/PNoV9 #photography #
  • 16:59 My @scottevest hoodie is at the parcel office gotta go pay the VAT on it #
  • 17:02 If iphone going to Orange is the good news bad news has gotta, be their merger with T-Mobile. Expect exceptionally 5h1t service from now on #
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Monday, September 07, 2009

Tweets for Today

  • 18:12 At last. Video post on my blog - now with the soundtrack! tinyurl.com/ksrx2q #
  • 19:12 RT @tontowilliams: Don't miss "Last Chance To See" with @stephenfry and mark carwardine tonight BBC2 2000hrs BST #lastchancetosee #
  • 07:35 Holiday: T-minus 5 days #
  • 16:40 Work done. Closer to holiday #
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Sunday, September 06, 2009

Tweets for Today

  • 08:22 Time to walk the dog then feed the birds then possibly play #batmanarkhamasylum #
  • 08:32 Don't miss "Last Chance To See" with @stephenfry and mark carwardine tonight BBC2 2000hrs BST #
  • 08:35 Don't miss "Last Chance To See" with @stephenfry and mark carwardine tonight BBC2 2000hrs BST #lastchancetosee #
  • 09:48 Just realised that one of the books I read during our last holiday is all about where we are going this holiday #
  • 09:51 Just made a coffee following instructions given in one of @documentally 's audioboos from last week and can taste the difference #
  • 09:55 PS3 has just updated it's software for a new look. Now time to play #batmanarkhamasylum #
  • 10:54 RT: @Danny_DiVito I'm gonna try follow my initial followers but only if you tell ppl to follow me. I need a fuckin beer. #
  • 11:31 RT: @EmmaK67 Hang tight on following @Danny_Divito peeps. He's spelling his name wrong and he's not validated #
  • 15:29 Sitting reading and watching the birds in the garden #
  • 17:08 12seconds - 12seconds Wazzup tiny12.tv/N5MRP #
  • 17:26 I uplo aded a YouTube video -- The Weekends Are Just Too Short bit.ly/HfiMz #
  • 17:56 @willkay Damn, and still no sound the second time I tried. Will try something else #
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The Weekends Are Too Short

video

Apologies to those people who have been trying to watch the YouTube version of this vid which has lost the soundtrack. Here's the same video with sound (hopefully)!