Saffy on Skye

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Saffy on Skye, originally uploaded by dakegra.

Saffy, the waggiest dog in the world, has gone to the great doggie playground in the beyond.

She was fifteen, ish. Which is… erm, lots, in doggy years.

Feels weird not to have a hound in the family. Yes, she was K’s parents’ dog, but she was definitely part of the family.

In other news, they’re getting a puppy. As soon as the breeders have one – she’d be Saffy’s grand-neice, or something.

One of the Beans (I’m not sure which) asked Grandma if they were getting a puppy ‘so it’d last longer than Saffy’.

Kids, eh?


I received a free sample of Starbucks’ new Via coffee in the post yesterday, and finally got round to making a cup tonight.

According to Starbucks’ website:

This isn’t coffee as you know it.

This is rich, flavourful coffee, made with finely ground Starbucks coffee beans. We believe this tastes as delicious as our fresh filter coffee, and all it takes to prepare is a little hot water.


Starbucks VIA™ is made with the highest-quality, ethically sourced 100% arabica beans (the same high quality as all our coffee). The finely-ground roasted coffee literally brews in your cup when you add hot water. It’s an easy way to enjoy the great taste of Starbucks coffee when you’re not near a Starbucks store.

Hmm. Colour me sceptical. I’m quite fond of Starbucks filter coffee, and that’s a bold claim they’ve got going up there.

So. Kettle on, sachet emptied. First impressions: the coffee powder is unlike any instant I’ve seen – instead of the usual granules you’ve got a very fine, dark coffee powder, finer than regular coffee grounds. Nice aroma too.

Add hot water, stir, pause, taste.


That’s really rather good. It’s not going to replace a ‘proper’ freshly-pressed filter, but it’s damn close, and is certainly miles better than regular instant. Perfect for those of us who don’t live/work near a Starbucks!

interests meme

Interests meme, with interests chosen from my Livejournal profile by my good friend, Ayoub.

He chose:



I spend as much time as possible barefoot. Shoes are fine for keeping your feet warm and dry, but once I’m in the house, shoes and socks come off. I don’t even like wearing socks if I can help it. When I’m getting dressed in the morning, socks and shoes are the absolute last thing to go on.

Interestingly, EB is exactly the same – he’ll never put his socks on until the last possible moment.

I’ll also wander round quite happily outside in bare feet, even in the winter months if I’m nipping out to put something in the bin, or get something from the garage. I just prefer getting air to me toes, I suppose. 🙂

just a second...

Our good friend David refers to our EB as ‘the Buddha Ed’, which amuses me. He’s certainly enlightened. Buddhism has long fascinated me, as has other religions. What is it, I’ve wondered, that causes people to base their entire lives on a belief system?

How can you not love mountains?
Shiel Bridge, Highlands

… especially Scottish mountains, in late autumn. The colours are just staggeringly beautiful.

I’m not sure I could live anywhere flat. I get twitchy driving through bits of england with no hills. One needs a decent bit of topography in one’s life, I feel.

As with mountains, one needs a good storm every now and again. Especially when you’re cosy and snug indoors with a nice hot mug of something.

there's a storm brewin'

Not *quite* so much fun inna tent, on an exposed field in north Wales with a force 8 blowing, I must admit.

I remember a time at university with my friend Paul – we were stood at the doorway to his house, mugs of hot tea in hand, watching the rain lash down, literally *bouncing* off the street. His other housemate was from Thailand or Singapore and was bemused by our love of the rainstorm.

Mmm, wine. Can’t seem to find a photo to go with this one, which is a shame.

I do like a nice red wine, though I’ve been known to partake of a cheeky white from time to time. Not so bothered with rose or fizz. Merlot or Shiraz for me, something nice and fruity with a big taste, to be supped with good friends, conversation and a good meal.


I may well be misunderstanding this, but to me, Zen is all about being here, now, and fully appreciating everything that is happening to you, without worrying about what is done or what is yet to be. Live in the moment. You get that with juggling, I find – the flow and energy of the balls as they circle. You need to be fully immersed in what’s going on right *now*, and tune out everything else.

I’m slightly peeved that mice ate my juggling balls. Note to self: get some more…

If you want, I’ll give you some interests to write about. Or choose some more of mine, if you like and I’ll write about them. 🙂

on blogging

I’ve been pondering ways to revitalise my blogging. A couple of wags over on Twitter suggested that posting more often might be a start.


They’ve got a point though. I must admit I’ve been neglecting this blog for far too long – lots of interaction on Twitter and other places, but not here so much.

So, what’s to be done? I’ve read a number of blog posts from people on Twitter with titles like ’10 ways to turbocharge your blog!!’ and ‘Ten tips for writing a killer blog post!!’.

There are an awful lot of exclaimation marks out there, I can tell you.

One excellent podcast I came across was a recording of John Gruber & Merlin Mann’s blogging panel at SxSW, entitled 149 Surprising Ways to Turbocharge Your Blog With Credibility!

See? Another exclaimation mark. Told you so.

Great talk though – all about finding something close to your heart and becoming the go-to guy (or gal) for that topic. Plus Merlin is always entertaining.

Which got me thinking. What am I passionate about? What tickles my fancy and pushes my buttons?

Trouble is, the answer is a combination of ‘lots of stuff’ and ‘depends what day it is’. I have this thing where something catches my eye and I just can’t get it out of my head. Last week it was ukeleles. I decided that I *needed* a uke, and had to have one. I was all over the internet looking at models, prices, sites for learning how to play them and so on.

On a side note, you should really check out Jake Shimabukuro, he’s awesome. His version of While My Guitar Gently Weeps is stunning. He’s done a talk at this year’s TED conference too, looking forward to seeing that when it’s up on the site.

See what I mean? I get this obsessive-compulsive thing. Give it a couple of weeks and I’ll most likely have forgotten about it and moved onto the next shiny thing. Though in the case of ukes, I’m still sorely tempted to just buy one. Any uke players out there got any advice for someone who has never played an instrument in his life?

So, dear reader (and well done for staying with me thus far, you rock. And smell fabulous. Have you done something new with your hair?), my plan is this. I’ll be blogging about my obsessions, old and new. Those things which took my fancy and worked out (I have a ton of cool gadgets and shiny stuff which I’ll tell you about) and the new things which catch my eye.

What do you think? Are you along for the ride?

The sign read: “Empty buckets are to be left with Sundry Officer. Failure to comply will result in swift retribution. Doors closed at 10 PM.”

Cliff sighed and looked sadly at his half-full bucket. The contents squirmed in a way that seemed to sigh back at him…

This wasn’t why he’d joined up. He wanted to travel through space, exploring strange new worlds, seeking out new life and new civilisations, going boldly where no man had gone before.

He looked in the bucket again. It glooped at him mournfully, depositing a slimy tendril of mucus on his freshly laundered red shirt. His watch read 21:56.

He considered his options. He could, he supposed, attempt to hand in a not-quite empty bucket. He didn’t like the sound of the ‘retribution’ though. He could tip the bucket out in the nearest garbage disposal, but as a vegetarian and animal lover, it would go against his beliefs. He squinted at the contents of the bucket. He was pretty sure that it was alive. It was certainly moving.

He looked at his watch again, then opened his backpack and tipped the gelatinous mass inside, before opening the door to the Office.

He’d always wanted a pet.

on running

Went out for a run tonight, after spending some time coming up with a veritable raft of excuses why not to.

Too cold, too tired, just eaten (not entirely true), legs still sore after running on Saturday, and so on.

See, Saturday was the first run of the year. First run for months, truth be told. And it hadn’t been a particularly enjoyable run – I’d gone on my ‘short’ run, a 2.4 mile loop from my house. This is the run I did quite a lot as my speed run last year – I’d got the time down to a creditable (for me) 21:11, or 9 minutes for a mile.

But that was in March. Yikes. Saturday was painful, leaving me walking several times and grumbling internally at the stupidity of running and exercise in general.

So tonight I pulled on my running kit (NTS: blog post about running kit) and set off. I’d replaced the battery in my trusty Garmin Forerunner 50 (NTS: blog post about how crap Garmin’s watch straps are) so I could time myself this time.

Stretch, and we’re off. I’ve never really gone in for this warming up lark, but I’m starting to think it might be a good idea. Watch this space. Down our street to the main road, already it’s feeling ok. Better than Saturday at least. The weather is chilly but not cold, and it’s dry and clear. Across the main road and down to the traffic lights. I’m starting to wonder if it’s possible to do an audioblog whilst running, and my mind is nicely distracted as I trundle along. First incline, not too bad. Breathe, keep plodding on.

A note about my running style: I’m not sure you could really call it ‘running’. More of a steady plod plod plod at something over walking speed. That said, a nine-minute mile is pretty good, and I’d be happy to get there again.

Turn the corner at the top of the hill and avoid the first of many puppy pebbles. Seriously, why can’t people pick up their dog’s crap? Grrr, rant, etc.

Along the road to the field with the horses, which is deserted tonight. We’re now on the outskirts of the village – fields on one side and houses on the other. It’s not far now until the turn for home (NTS: another blog post about loops vs out-and-back routes). Bit tricky this bit as it involves going from one side of the road to the other then back again as the pavements run out.

At the corner now and it’s a short downhill and into a dark section of the run. This bit is between two fields which in the summer are a blaze of colour, poppies and rapeseed on either side. Now though they’re just short grass, but it won’t be long.

It starts to rain and I wonder if I’m going to get soaked – it’s one of those showers where it could so easily turn to a downpour, but tonight it just lasts for a minute or so before moving on. We’re back into the village again, streetlights bathing the road in their sodium glow. This was the point at which I stopped and walked on Saturday, so already I’m feeling better. Legs have warmed up and stopped aching as much.

Past the big expensive houses with their vast driveways, cross the main road at the corner and we’re nearly there. I’m composing this post as I go, but know I’ll forget 90% of the stuff I’ve thought of. Never mind, just get down what I can.

At the traffic lights, turn again and we’re onto a short uphill bit. No trouble tonight, but it’s the downhill on the other side where the legs start to ache. Turn into my road and we’re nearly there – I dig out my watch and click the stop button.

I have to look again at the time. 20:04. That’s phenomenal – knocking a minute off my previous best? After months of not running?

Then I see the ‘lap 2’ flashing – I’ve obviously knocked the lap counter at some point. Curses.

Final time: 24:57

Slow, but steady. I’m glad I went out. Hope you enjoyed the trip – I’ll be blogging more about my running adventures in the days, weeks and months to come.

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