Friday, 25 January 2008

hmmmmm...... That'll be £500 m'am!

"Blessed are those who have their afterthoughts first"

So it turns out we are all doomed to cross paths with the dodgy builder/ handyman, with me it is evident by the 7ft chimney flu hanging decoratively from the ceiling of my spare room, but for those of you who have seen it... I lied, its not an art noveau architectural "feature". No tis indeed a testament to my stupidity in hiring an architectural "hitman". So to save others from the same fate, I have compiled a list of what are now obvious warning signs...

  • AVOID the "multi-tasker" NO ONE is an expert Joiner, Electrician, Brickie AND plumber! it just ain't plausible.
  • NEVER give all the money until you've checked the work
  • FIND OUT exactly what they plan to do (more applicable to repairs)
  • AVOID the tradesman who gives you a price, then offers a "big discount", it usually means a rush job. A proper worker will look at the job then tell you the ONLY price they can give.
  • ASK QUESTIONS - if he/she sounds like they don't know what they're talkin about, more than likely they don't.
  • NEVER hire a friend, or the friend of a friend, unless you're SURE they did a good job MORE THAN ONCE before! (including a professional, well timed and consistant job)
  • Make sure you have a working contact number and address incase they take off half way through a job.
  • DON'T tell them your budget, the price should be the same no matter what you have to spend!
  • A Professional worker will NOT, smoke in your house without asking you...
  • If you see a job done well somewhere else, ask for the contact details, and keep it, you never know when you'll need it.
  • Keep the number of a good Plumber and Electrician, handy, in case of an emergency, it will stop you getting ripped off in a panic, by using the yellow pages.
  • BEWARE of workmen who are stand-offish, it makes it easier for them to walk away, try to get some friendly chatting going, its a lot harder to rip you off with a guilty conscience.

Monday, 14 January 2008

Age Out Of Context; Generations by Dee

They say that youth is wasted on the young,

but maybe wisdom is wasted on the old.

Wasting so much time thinking what could have been

Seeing life, like through a movie screen.

What if you looked around, and saw everything now

like anything could happen if you thought about how

What if age and and what you couldn't do

No longer defined what it meant to be you.

What if you looked around you and saw what still could be

instead of longing for things that only others can feel.

What if you didn't think your life was measured

by the moments you hold on to and the "things" you treasure.

What if in the end you stopped and looked around,

and saw the people you love, finding what you've found;

A legacy mixed with fun and smiles

where your travels are not marked by miles.

Where you can learn more by standing still

than using life like a check out till;

Counting what you have and haven't bought

blaming "bad luck" and what you were never taught.

What if life was a blank canvas at any age

where you add more colour, and don't paint a cage.

What if you looked at the young, like another you

with a bit less experience, but equal views.

What if you never made an excuse for anything again

and enjoyed being wrong, and being different, not the same.

What if you laughed at the years that have passed

and saw only beginnings, not reliving the past.

What if you lived in the moment, and saw everything right here

instead of taking photographs to remember next year.

What if you never felt alone, sitting by yourself,

and it made you stronger, when you're with everyone else.

What if you didn't try fit everything you haven't done,

into a day or a year, just stood outside to feel the sun.

What if it all stopped tomorrow, and life was just a test

would you count the bad times, or the times you were blessed?

Would you want to impart wisdom, tell them how to avoid pain?

or would you know they'd learn some new, doing exactly the same.

What if instead of changing the scenery, you found another you,

who sees life through others eyes, instead of making them see you.

What if young or old, we were equals to each other,

and accepted that the child, is or will be a father or a mother.

Life is happening now, it isn't the last or next 40 years,

Life won't wait for you to get it together

Life is happening now, you know as much as anyone else,

you can't change other people, only yourself.

Soundtrack To Life

I recently found this on the web, its actually quite hard to fill in if you're a bit indecisive like me, but if you're reading this and have a bit of time, I would be really interested in seeing others' reponses....


If you could choose the soundtrack to your life...
What would it be?
(* Remember, they won't necessarily be your favourite songs!)

Opening Credits: Daydream Believer by The Monkees

Waking Up: Unwritten by Natasha Bedingfield

Average Day: Bring On The Day by Charlotte Martin

First Date: Moonlight Kiss by Bap Kennedy

Falling In Love: Brighter Than Sunshine by Aqualung

Fight Scene: Wall In Your Heart by Shelby Lynee

Breaking Up: What Hurts The Most by Rascal Flatts

Getting Over Them: Feeling Good by Nina Simone

Getting Back Together: Everything by Alanis Morrisette

Life is Okay: Change Your Mind by Sister Hazel

Sad Moment: 100 Years by Five For Fighting

Driving at Night: Life Is A Highway by Rascal Flatts

Flashback: Baby Give It Up - KC & The Sunshine Band

Partying: Dancing In The Moonlight by Toploader

Happy Dance: Young Hearts Run Free by Kim Mazelle

Sex Scene: Feelin Love by Paula Cole

Regretting: I Started A Joke by The Wallflowers

Long Night Alone: Breathe by Anna Nalick

Death Scene: Send Me On My Way by Rusted Root

End Credits: Between The Minds by Jack Savoretti

Sunday, 6 January 2008

Setting SALE for January

I recently attempted for the very first time, to venture into the thing that I always want'd to, but never had the guts to do. The horror and the nail-biting satisfaction that is... The January Sales.
There are differing opinions describing this unique experience, and it depends greatly on your level of commitment to finding a bargain. In Belfast at January, there are basically 3 levels of shoppers (levels defined by motivation as apposed to money spent):

Level 1 - The Claustrophobic

Venturing timidly to the shops nearest to the taxi and bus stands for an easy escape route, to glance over bargains at the "end of aisle", who may be lucky enough to spot a decent bargain or two, but are easily deterred by lengthy ques, over-crowding and a dis-organised rail. These guys are basically your amateur shoppers, with commitment that extends only as far as the buzz you get from one cup of a Starbuck's Mocha Latte.

Level 2 - The Tight-Ass
This shopper has a bit more motivation, directed by the need to NOT EVER pay the normal price for clothes. Venturing confidently in the jumble of people and clothes, undeterred by the small obsticles.This Shopper usually ends up with four tops from the Primark reduced aisle totalling £4. These guys are basically your amateur shoppers, with commitment that extends only as far as the buzz you get from one cup of a Starbuck's Mocha Latte.

Level 3 - The Seasoned Professional
Armed with a larger handbag (or backpack guys), containing the essential bottle of refreshment (non alcoholic, that's a completely different category, that I'm not touching), snacks, the route mentally plotted out and an early morning start, to optimise time and bargain potential. The expert shopper shops alone, 'cause it ain't pretty! This shopper has taken their clothes budget for the year (and then some) and divided it neatly into the major sales periods, all of which mere training for their Mount Everest, the January sales. This shopper is constantly fuelled by refills "to go" of Starbucks Sumatra Espresso (i.e. A LOT of caffiene). Motivation is not a problem for this relentless consumer, who will sometimes visit EVERY relevant shop, regroup to decide which shops to purchase items from, then re-visit them in order of queue size. Yes, I know what your thinking... this is waffle, no such shopper could exist... you doubt the existence of the alleged unbalanced person who indeed has no real social life or friends... Well doubters, if you want proof.. This December on Boxing Day, take a run down to NEXT in Donegal Place in Belfast 7am... Sleeping Bags

Being honest though, the average shopper (including myself), is a combination of all three.

Wednesday, 2 January 2008

The Trees of Christmas Past

To tree or not to tree...

I still currently have a 7ft tall crackin christmas tree in my living room, apparently the appropriate date to remove said tree is on the 6th of January on the feast of the Epiphany? but I recently found out that the date of that celebration is the 12th day of January? hence those 12 days of christmas... Ahhh no, that's not right, the 6th of January, is apparantly the 12th day AFTER Christmas! I'll get it right yet :)

Christmas was great this year, but it didn't seem to have the same great excitement that it usually does, not as many people had their Las Vegas style decorations and lights on the exterior of their houses in late November, few taxi drivers asked me "well.... you have all in for Christmas love?", not sure if thats the reason, but I find the idea of keeping my tree up until the 6th of January this year quite depressing.

Who says I should anyway? After much extensive research on the web (well ok, a five minute google search) I have discovered the following:

"You take the tree down on or after the 12th day of Christmas; the 6th of January. The 6th of January is celebrated as 'three kings' in a lot of countries (France, Belgium and the south of the Netherlands that I'm sure of, all Catholic regions). The story is that Jesus was born on the 24th, at which point a star appeared in the sky and the kings, who had to travel much farther than the sheperds, set off, and arrived 12 days later. That is why Christmas lasts for 12 days, but only in some traditions."

"Take down the Christmas Tree and all decorations BEFORE the new year. You are celebrating the birth of Christ in one year and even though I have heard it is bad luck to leave it up after the 1st, it just seems logical to take it down before the year is over."

"My wife says her tradition is to take down decorations and not turn on the lights after New Year's Eve. She says it is bad luck to bring the old year into the new. Frankly, I miss not having the lights on on New Year's Day. It always seemed more festive for the holiday."

"In the liturgical calendar the Twelve Days start on December 25th, and the Twelfth Night is January 5th, which is when we traditionally take down the decorations."

"Liturgically Jan 6th is ABSOLUTELY the correct day to take down the decorations. Do it when you are on your own & hubby and the kids are out, a large drop of left over liquid christmas cheer is recomended before starting to make the chore more palitable."

Okay, well as always there is no right or wrong answer, but I agree with the comment that it does look more festive to have Christmas lights on on New Year's Eve, besides which, if you're celebrating Christmas, it doesn't liturgically end until the wise men come... but when it comes down to it you can take down YOUR Christmas Tree, when YOU bloomin well want to!

As for me... I'm takin it down tomorrow, then I'll look forward to a repeat performance next Christmas :)


Tuesday, 1 January 2008

New Year's Day - HAPPY 2008!

I don't know if its a good sign or not, but I went outside my front door last night, to do my "First Footing"* I ended up standing accidently in dog's excrement, I was quickly informed that this was deemed "good luck" by most, this apparently doesn't include the carpet in my house...

Either way I have a good feeling about this year, I think it will bring alot of good changes for us all :) The difference between a lucky person and an unlucky person, is that a lucky person is open to all opportunities in any situation, not just the ones they expected.

(*Originally a Scottish Tradition "To ensure good luck for the house, the first foot should be male, dark (believed to be a throwback to the Viking days when blond strangers arriving on your doorstep meant trouble) and should bring symbolic coal, shortbread, salt, black bun and whisky.")