26 August 2008

Oh I do like to be beside the seaside

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you:

(a) South Shields.

Perfect for a day trip. Includes a lovely park (complete with tiny steam train), some bonkers weebls overlooking the beach (see above), the best fish and chip shop in the world (otherwise known as Colmans), and the pleasingly retro Ocean Beach pleasure park (which contains some rather good dodgems and trampolines). If you had a 1970s childhood, you'll feel right at home.

(b) Low Newton (Northumberland).

Perfect for a day trip. Includes a lovely stretch of sand and a nice pub (sadly rather rah-infested with Portias, Sols and the like, all kitted out in Gap and mini Boden). There's some good BBQ spots, and limitless potential for digging holes and running around throwing frisbees.

I'm not sure which I prefer, to be honest. I've had a brilliant time at both over the last couple of weekends.

22 August 2008

The adventures of Captain Jack, no.4,236

Captain Jack was taken to the Shipley Art Gallery earlier this week (as mentioned on recipes for millie), to a Top Shop Toy Shop workshop. He returned home equipped with a very fetching red dress. A matching handbag can only be a matter of time.

21 August 2008


Or 'yet another web 2.0-y thing that I try and probably give up on within a couple of days', aka the Blog Networks function in facebook. Well, you've got to have a go, haven't you, in an attempt to be cool, trendy and down with da kids. I'll probably find that actually it's been around since the year dot, and I'm a late adopter, yet again.

Anyway, I've added this blog, named myself as the author, and now I'm going to sit back and wait and see if I've got any readers. I'm not holding my breath...

19 August 2008

Plain English

I found a really interesting article today, all about local government and its use of English, plain or otherwise. I spend quite a lot of my time making government-ish stuff more readable on the web, so it was quite interesting to see how Derby City Council is dealing with the issue.

I find there's just no getting away from some usages of jargon - in some cases it's hard to see what you would use instead of phrases like ‘place shaping’, ‘community cohesion’, ‘sustainable communities’ and ‘engagement’ that the author rails against. In the right setting, they're very useful. Yes, they're ugly, but they're concise - and my other task is usually turning long, meandering sentences into something shorter and snappier.

In a web context, a long-winded description of 'sustainable communities' is probably going to turn more readers off - especially if they're scanning the page. What's nice about the web, though, is that you can direct reader to an FAQ or a glossary if they're unsure of the terminology (there's a nice example on this climate change website, where the definitions pop up on mouseover).

It probably doesn't look quite as good in print, however, if you have to issue a glossary with every letter that you send out...

18 August 2008

The further adventures of Captain Jack

In which he comes face to face with his arch nemesis, Rustle.

11 August 2008


There's an interesting spin on the credit crunch in the Guardian today, with their journalist looking at whether doing it yourself (cooking/cleaning/making clothes) actually saves money. There's a few flaws - she might be better comparing like with like when it comes to food (I don't for a minute imagine that Sainsbury's family chicken pie contains free-range anything), and I suspect food varies a lot - you'd probably get different results from testing a jar of tomato pasta sauce against making your own, for example, and it would be good to develop that. There's also the energy costs to factor in as well.

But it's all interesting stuff, and fun to see a different point of view from the usual 'thrift' articles. I don't mind investing the time in cooking from scratch and making things (hence the rhubarb chutney, the cakes, the handmade Christmas cards and the knitting), because it's something I enjoy doing, so I'd probably end up doing them even if it was cheaper to buy it in readymade. But there are some things I draw the line at - puff pastry being one, making clothes another (the last time I made anything that wasn't for a two-year-old was a pink sprigged nightie at secondary school - let's just say it was of its time (think mid-80s Laura Ashley) and leave it at that).

07 August 2008

Rhubarb vice

I have become addicted to chutney. Rhubarb chutney. It's a sad state of affairs when that becomes your major vice, isn't it?

I blame the weather. Although I have a rather smashing balcony overlooking the back lane, it's too damp and cold to be sat out there sipping exotic drinks with cocktail umbrellas, so that kind of rules that one out. There's also not much call for wafting about in long flowery summer dresses and elegant strappy sandals while brandishing secateurs in the garden (a la every young lady in a Miss Marple drama).

Neither will I be spending hours in front of the goggle box, due to the fact that as it's summer there's absolutely nowt on the telly. The cinema listings aren't up to much if you're not into superheroes (although, I have to admit, I'm rather liking Heroes now we're finally getting round to watching series one on DVD), and most concerts/gigs are Proms in the Park type stuff involving horrendous amounts of money to sit around in the rain wearing bin bags.

It really is make chutney or read a book, isn't it? Chutney's winning at the moment, probably on sheer novelty value.

04 August 2008

Doppelgangers (2)

Still on the theme of doppelgangers, I've just watched the very bizarre I'm Kylie's Body Double, which was unaccountably fascinating, and much more interesting than the title suggested - it followed a whole range of people whose body parts were in demand in the movie/tv/commercial/modelling worlds.

It's one of those things that you never think about - and certainly one that my careers adviser at school didn't cover. I know I don't have the most conventional of careers, but it's at least one that people have heard of (unlike my other half, who has had to repeatedly explain what a subtitler does to all and sundry over the last decade).

What really came across though was the maintenance required. I don't think I could cope with the endless manicures/pedicures/gym sessions - it would bore me to tears within a week (maybe this is why the actors being 'doubled' were also less than perfect). I think my record is two manicures in a year, so I sense a career in hand/foot modelling does not beckon (the wonky fingers that curve might also be a no-no, and my toes aren't exactly the straightest either). Maybe I can work on the bottom?