Things I Like About Blogging. Pt 3.

Posted by Robin.
(Start with Part 1 here. If you wish.)


I got hooked when young. I suppose it must have started with the article I wrote for Punch when I was nineteen. It was a hilarious account of a recent cycling trip to France titled ‘One man went to Meaux’. It explored among other things the nature and depth of the misunderstandings made possible by not speaking very good French in France. I submitted it regularly for five months but they never published it.

Blogging has finally given me the chance to prove them wrong.

Issue and Progeny

posted by Lyle (still haven’t forgotten that bit)
Updated and edited 10/10/03

As Mike pointed out in his introduction, I’m the only one of this week’s guest bloggers who’s childless. I’ve been thinking about this kind of appelation all week now, and trying to write this on and off all day – I think we’re on revision 4.2 5.3 now.

So yes, as yet I haven’t scared the world by putting forward offspring. I haven’t found anyone who’d be psychotic enough to want kids with me either. That’s fine – and completely understandable. I’ve helped bring up the brats children of friends etc., although obviously that’s no real comparison with the real thing.

Do I want children? Yeah, at some point. I know it’d turn my life upside-down, and I don’t know completely how well I’d cope with that – but I’d want to do it. Would I have done it ten years ago (as a random figure)? Probably not. I might have wanted to, but I’m 99% sure it would never have worked out properly. I’m too bloody independent – well, I always way, and to some degree I still am. I just laughingly think I handle it in a slightly more mature way now.

All the people who know me out in reality tend to agree that I’d be a good parent – personally, I suspect that’s because my mental age isn’t much different to a childs anyway, and that always helps in the grand scheme of things. Oscar Wilde said “Children begin by loving their parents; after a time they judge them; rarely, if ever, do they forgive them.” – and there’s more truth in that than most people care to admit. We all have our own idiosyncracies, and when children are involved too, then those idiosyncracies can be passed on. Phillip Larkin’s observation, “They f**k you up, your mum and dad” was also spot-on, but there should’ve been the proviso there – “they do it with the best intentions“. I spent a long time disagreeing with my own parents about their ways of dragging me up – yet more and more I find it harder to pick fault, because (without wanting to sound like a big-headed twerd) I think that in general I’ve turned out OK. Seeing some of the denizens of things like C4’s “Wife Swap“, they definitely could’ve done a lot worse than the way I ended up.

Of course, as Jann observed in his “joys of parenthood” everyone knows “their child will be perfect” while it’s all a theoretical exercise. It’s only when they become reality that the chuff-ups are there, and legion.

When it comes to the joys of sproglets, I’m kind of stuck for an answer – maybe one day I’ll find one. In the meantime, I’m going to post this up, and probably come back to it and edit it in the morning, because I know I’m gibbering like a gibbon. Joy. But there’ll be at least one corollary post to this tomorrow. Something else that needs to be said – or at least deserves to be said. I just need to think of the way to word it.

Au revoirs and Slaters (as they say in EastFrienders)

Posted by Mr.D.

Well, my shift here is almost at an end, so I’d like to thank the TD for the opportunity of reaching a wider audience, and to my fellow guestees for being so inspirational. They have been damn good, haven’t they? “Popeyedol” – that’s brilliant, Robin.

Good luck to the incoming crew. Sorry about the unwashed cups and dirty plates, but none of us would put on the French Maid’s outfit that Mike left out. That was from your Ac-tor’s wardrobe, wasn’t it Mike? Wasn’t it?

And now that I no longer have to suck up to our host, for fear of redundancy, I’d like to state publicly that Lyle has for some time been my favourite Blogranter.

So as my Tag-chess challenge failed to fly, a final gauntlet is thrown down and I hope that D4D (and maybe you) will accept.

I first piloted this over at BW’s and was promptly told to get a blog of my own. Nonetheless, as a quasi-post, she may consider some of your entries for a sub-chapter in “The Blogger’s Dictionary:

Rantwords e.g.

Restaurant – an eaterie where you complain endlessly about the poor service (after you’ve left)
Colourant – a whinge peppered with salacious adjectives
Vagrant – a moan which meanders aimlessly
Expectorant – a very vocal grumble where the topic eventually coughs up at the end
Tolerant – a tirade which is nonetheless considerate of its subject’s sensitivities
Immigrant – a foreign diatribe

There must be others? Go on, watch the CommentsMeter ratchet up …

So my work here is done and I’m off to U-Bar-Ka for a bevy. If you’ve never been there before, just follow the sign, don’t jump the queue and order your drink politely. The landlady loves to see new faces among the regulars, but she’s been running the shop single-handedly this week, so a “please” and a smile would not go amiss.

Perhaps if I manage to get 5 virgin punters to visit (that’s people who have not drunk there before, not people who have never, you know…) they might have a Guest Ale ready for this week’s fillers-in? Maybe a pint of mead, made from The Coven’s honey?

Oh, and a word of warning – don’t touch the pies, They’re not actually for sale. Trust me on this.

Mahalo for reading this week.

Another shameless attempt to pick up the evening comments rush.

Posted by Robin. (Remembered it first time this time.)

I was fascinated by Mike’s researches into the history of pop music and gratified to read his conclusion that the 70’s ranked top for classic singles. That somehow confirmed my gut feelings on the subject.

So what it is that is so unsatisfying about modern pop records then? I’ve given it a lot of thought and it’s the most difficult question I’ve had to answer since, while living as a student in a house devoid of anyone named Neville, the phone rang and someone asked “Neville wouldn’t be there, would he?”

I think I may have found a piece of the puzzle today, fished out from under the sofa cushions of my mind. It’s that records have simply ceased to be real time, real world events. Everything can now be revised or replaced or virtually generated. Anything is possible so nothing is interesting. In all, modern records are like cartoons – flat, unreal, worked over in such detail that nothing natural or spontaneous survives. If records were made to sound like Roobarb and Custard looked that might not be so bad but they aren’t.

So, if records get to be cartoons then which cartoon characters do you think should get to make records?

Ecchoes (they reverberate)

(cross-posted by qB whose cold is now flu and is not up to much today)

Today is National Poetry Day

The Ecchoing Green

The Sun does arise,
And make happy the skies.
The merry bells ring
To welcome the Spring.
The sky-lark and thrush,
The birds of the bush,
Sing louder around,
To the bells chearful sound.
While our sports shall be seen
On the Ecchoing Green.

Old John with white hair
Does laugh away care,
Sitting under the oak,
Among the old folk,

They laugh at our play,
And soon they all say.
Such shuch were the joys.
When we all girls & boys,
In our youth-time were seen,
On the Ecchoing Green.

Till the little ones weary
No more can be merry
The sun does descend,
And our sports have an end:
Round the laps of their mothers,
Many sisters and brothers,
Like birds in their nest,
are ready for rest;
And sport no more seen,
On the darkening Green.

William Blake,
Songs of Innocence and Experience

egIf you click on the leafy shape at the top left of this page you can listen to Allen Ginsburg singing the poem. As well as three other people of whom I have never heard. It’s quite a surreal experience.

The theme Britain. I chose this because it’s been with me most of my life, probably from not long after I finally learnt how to read at a very late age. It was in an old illustrated anthology of poems for children which was handed down to me by my mother. Of course it’s not specifically about Britain, but I thought I could sneak it in because Blake never left the country and was passionate about his homeland.

I have always loved the deceptive simplicity of the rhythms and imagery of The Ecchoing Green. I also looked at the illustration of the children being embraced by their mothers with a fair amount of longing. Together they capture those long-lit days of summer when we roistered round the village. I could feel the grass, the trees, the stones, with that whole-body physical abandon with which children experience the world.

Not far from our house in inner-suburban-London there is a small park. We pass it every day on the way to school. At this time and in this place we have just such an ecchoing green. No matter that the mothers are in lycra with mobiles. No matter that the children play games based on pokemon or teenage mutant ninja turtles. Or barbie or the powerpuff girls. It is the fundamental continuity that is reassuring in a world which often seems so full of uncertainties, difficult choices, information overload, cynicism and despair. All that has changed in the dynamics of the picture are the ephemera. My children gain comfort and reassurance from me (and I from them) in exactly that tableau.

When I was a child I was a child in the poem. Now I am a mother I can be both. And now too I can look forward with hope in this continuum to the consolations of old age.

The anthology was called The Dragon Book of Verse – not the edition from the OUP but an older collection, published in 1939. It’s been lost, of course, in all the wanderings and dissolutions, which is sad. The smell of it was slightly sharp, acidic almost, the paper yellowed. The hardback covers were red. I remember so many of the poems: Tartary by Walter de la Mare for the lines And in my pools great fishes slant Their fins athwart the sun; Cargoes by John Masefield; The Fairies by William Allingham; Up-Hill by Christina Rossetti; The Pied Piper of Hamelin by Robert Browning – I could go on and on, but you get the idea.

I memorised many of them, learning them like incantations, caressing the multicoloured jewel-words, sounding the sonority, riding the rhythm. It must be where words and I met and our love affair began. So I have my mother to thank for that.

Oh, dear.

Posted by Mr.D

It seems that my tag-chess challenge has fallen at an early hurdle and no-one wants to play with BW. Despite the fact that she resourcefully spent all knight nosing out the necessary notation (which I so ungallantly failed to provide).

Now I had harboured hopes that, in years to come, some bemused bloggers would still be trawling through endless posts, trying to track the plots and mapping the moves onto a virtual chessboard. I guess some kites will always decide to launch in the middle of an anti-cyclone..

But wait, doesn’t Vaughan sometimes have a chess board on his randomiser? Might there be a role for him here, sat patiently next to the King, waiting to make her sinuous and subtle move?

Or is there another dark horse stalking out there, ready to seize the reigns?
(k)night, queen, reign – is my imagery wasted here?

Oh well, just go and type “pawn” into a search engine and see what you get.

Busman’s holiday.

(posted by Mike)

Salut, mes copains imaginaires! Mike here, comin’ atcha live and direct from a Café Internet on the Boulevard de Sebastapol, in the heart of stylish and historic Paris, struggling valiantly with this battarde of a French AZERTY keyboard (though God knows I’ve had enough practice over the last couple of days) and trying not to get too stressed out by the little ticking hourglass thingy in the bottom right hand corner of the screen telling me I’ve only got 40 minutes left to do my stuff.

I am of course well aware that a blogger coming all the way to stylish and historic Paris only to cloister himself away in a Café Internet is pretty much on the same level as an American tourist heading staight to Macdonalds for his Royale Cheese. Mea culpa. But there was a good reason for this. As qB says below, one of her conditions for guest blogging this week was that I would promise to visit the Atelier Brancusi, just next to the Pompidou Centre. I didn’t need much persuading, mind; the AB has been top of my Paris Must Do list for far too long already.

Well, qB – I tried, I really tried. After two fairly ghastly days at work, a dose of high culture was exactly what my frazzled out little brain was crying out for. Open till 22:00, it said in the book – no, books. And website, last time I looked. No sweat, then. Until I actually got there, and found a sign displaying the new opening hours: 14:00 to 18:00.

So, unless I pull a sickie while I’m out here, (and oh, the irony of that particular realisation, having been suffering quite badly all week, aches and pains all over the shop, plus toothache and a largely sleepless night on Monday) I’m stuffed. Zut a-sodding-lors, eh readers?

Tant pis. It’s not really been my week, tourist-wise. After dinner on Monday night, I made the short stroll round the corner to the Tour Eiffel, just in time to see the much-vaunted twinkly light display come on (it’s on the hour, every evening for a few months, and lasts ten minutes). Having thrilled to this for, ooh, a good two minutes, (because at the end of the day, it’s just a bunch of twinkly lights coming on and off at random, and the thrill quickly palls – I mean, it’s hardly the lasers on the main dancefloor at Turnmills) I decided that I might as well go up the thing. Rude not to.

Last time I’d done this was in the summer of 1981, when I was a penniless backpacking student, visiting the city with a now estranged friend who went on to become a highly influential Guru Of Branding, no less (we drifted apart after he got a job in media sales and moved to Wandsworth, around the same time that I was entering my (relatively) hardcore mid-eighties Right On phase, but I digress). Being penniless and all, we had only been able to afford the Premier Étage – hey, the summit would have been lunch – but now, being a fully paid up member of the jet-setting business eurotrash classes and all, I could afford to go all the way to the top. Chouette, eh readers?

The thrill of being at the wind-blown summit of the Tour Eiffel, gazing out at the breathtaking beauty of Paris By Night, spread out below me like a million sparkling candles on a counterpane of midnight blue etc etc etc insert-descriptive-prose-here, was somewhat dampened by the rapidly creeping realisation that I was – not to put too fine a point on it – busting for a sodding piss, after that nice demi of Beaujolais in the picturesque little café-bar earlier.

If you suddenly find yourself desperate for a slash in a public place, then there are few worse places to be than at the top of the Tour Eiffel. I mean, think about it (except, I hadn’t until then). Where exactly is all that water going to go?


Well, time’s up. A bientot, chums…

The Blogosphere – A Personal View Pt 2.

Posted by Robin. I keep forgetting to put that too.

There seem to be more witty names for blogs than for anything else on the planet apart from hairdressers. Unfortunately good catchy names are about as reliable a guide to a good read as witty salon names are a guarantee of a good haircut.

I had a cracking selection of blog names from my adventures on’s Ten Most Recent list but the powercut of last month wiped my browser’s favourites list. I had a large collection of blogs called ‘my life’ and a good few called ‘my so called life’, all with slightly different orthography. I started looking for one called ‘my so called blog’ but none turned up.

Any blogaholics among you could try Blogger’s main list. With around 5,000 blogs to choose from on any one show even the most ravenously curious should find something new.

Some shout outs.

Respect to qB for that lovely picture of the mixer tap. We have a Gribagno Custom Deluxe very like that but in chrome.

Respect to Mr D. because he obviously does crosswords and has friends and is fifty, which is a tricky treble to pull off.

Respect to Lyle for not swearing for three days now, for finding someone else to do some obscenity for him on another (v funny) page, and also for his comment (#7) here.

And lastly, respect to Nigel, a man of such scrupulous fairness that he only comes ninth in his own blog chart

Following on from Lyle’s post below. I am actually prepared to offer a prize to anyone who can explain RSS to me in one amusing paragraph. On reflection I am prepared to offer a prize to anyone who can explain it to me at all.

Lastly Adam at arpeggio has just bought Trout Mask Replica by Cap’n Beefheart and is not quite sure what to make of it. Can anyone help him?


Posted by Lyle (who can’t edit the keffing table below, so I’ll suggest to qB what she can do with it – in a clean sense, of course *Grin*)

OK, I admit, while being a techie to some degree, I’m obviously not a blog-geek (is that a word we can add to the dictionary?) because I’ve lost the plot of where I’m supposed to Ping. When I update, I use blogrolling’s Ping form – fine, that boings up on all the blogrolls I look at. I’ve registered d4d™ on Updated UK Weblogs three times now, and had assumed it was working, as Mike hadn’t nagged me to do it again. I guess he just gave up in despair, or wanted to avoid a sweary-fit email. *Grin* Can’t blame him for that one. Also I’ve got Blogger set to ping somewhere or other when a new entry goes up. Yet still I get nagged. So where am I going wrong?

I’ve just tried it again. Keff knows if it’s worked or not, because all it says is “you’ve been added”, then nothing. I can’t be faffed with gubbins like RSS – I’ve enough problems with incipient RSI and CTS, without another flippin’ TLA to PMO.

Anyway, isn’t it all just more of this “instant gratification” farce that we know and love? “I can’t be faffed to actually click on the site to see if there’s anything new, I want it to show up only when there’s new things to read”. Surely that’s antithetical to the entire ethos of “surfing” the web, of finding stuff on almost a random whim and click of the mouse?

Oh, and congratulations to us guest-bloggers who’ve lowered the tone completely – what with the book reviews I linked to, and qB erecting what I can only describe as a golden phallus. (I could describe it as other things, but the naughty word filters would probably throw a hissy fit. On which tangent – wouldn’t it be more fun if the filters didn’t just block the offending sites, but instead did a 1940’s “naffing great black felt-tip” over the words?)

Why I’m here

(posted by qB – who‘s broken broke the template with her table and doesn’t know what to do… Lyle… I need help! botched a bad solution) found a solution courtesy of Lyle’s advice – thanks!)

brancliciousI said I’d do this gig on two conditions.

The first was that Mike has to go to the Atelier Brancusi while he’s in Paris. No ifs, no buts.

The second was that Lyle gets D4D onto Updated UK Weblogs. But I’ve since noticed that condition could be extended to all three co-bloggers this week. It’s quite simple, and Mike provides a handy link, over there on the right.

I’m not going to threaten to withhold posts until this condition is fulfilled because that would be inviting the kind of feedback I’m not interested in hearing.

In an effort to galvanise Mike further to make the effort to see the exhibition, I’ve included to the left the delightful Princess X by my all time far-and-away top favourite sculptor of all time, Constantin Brancusi.

What do you mean, it doesn’t look like a princess? I have no idea what you’re talking about.

G.O.D. (II)

Posted by Mr.D.

Picking up on the redoubtable Lyle’s superb earlier post about ageism, I confess that I am Growing Old Disgracefully.

At the recent barbecue for my 50th, I had to be prematurely put to bed while the party raged on outside.

I blamed it on the stress of worrying about whether the weather would hold (it did, of course) as I might have to cook in the garage (only joking, firefighter people!).
I also fell on the excuse of having had to cater single-handedly (well, Mrs.D. did help a bit) for 20 people, ensuring that the burgers were leathered at exactly the same time as the sausages were reaching cremation-stage.
I claimed I was emotionally over-charged by having all of my closest friends around me.

Mrs.D. blamed it on the vodka shots I was doing with my son and his mates, who’d come round for the free booze.

Shaded shrivelling

(oops, forgot to say this was posted by qB)

“Light and shade” is what he said he wanted. “He” being the host-with-the-most guest-bloggers. Which means that I’m the shade. I know quite a bit about shade. Useful in the summer when bright light and heat demand momentary relief, but the prelude to exposure in the autumn months. In the winter in southern Africa people die in the shade who would have lived had they been lying in the sunshine. So I’m good on shade. In fact I’m good on Stygian darkness too. I’m recovering from a bout of disaster-induced darkness which not even happy-pills to the max could dispel. Which is why I’m a bit of a late starter on this guest-blogging trip. I’ve been in bed for a few days.

I’m sure you’ve been treated to lots of light – Lyle I reckon is like those mega-rockets which go “screeeeeeeech….. BANG” (he has no children to get scared); Mr D is one of those mortar-shaped ones which hiss and sparkle a rainbow fountain of different shades whilst occasionally shooting up fireballs which go “bang”; while Mr SAAP is likely a mixed box with a lot of sparklers for waving round, drawing pictures and words in the air, and sniffing (why do they smell so good? or is it just me?) So obviously they need a bit of shade to show them up to best advantage. No good having fireworks on midsummer’s day. Together we shall look like this, as long as you click manically to the max.

He also (the h-w-t-m guest-bloggers) used the word “erudite” in his introduction. I looked it up. It means, apparently, “well-educated or well-read, learned”. So I’m little miss smarty pants, am I? I just wish to state that I am far from little, I am not a young woman or girl and my pants are antique over-washed-baggy M&S. I notice in my dictionary the words preceding “erudite” are “ersatz”, “error”, “erroneous”, “erratum”, “erratic” and “errant”. Maybe he just got the wrong one by mistake. (I am umbilically attached to my dictionary because my spelling is so bad.)

Well, now that we’ve got all that sorted out, I thought I’d turn to the issue of issue. Ankle-biters, rug-rats, demon spawn or however you care to refer to the juvenile of the species. Since it’s three to one of issued to issueless. I don’t mention my little bees very often over at my place because, well frankly, I find the subject of limited interest beyond close friends and family. And I’m generally totally uninterested in the spawn of others beyond that circle. And I’m only interested on the family spawn in the way that certain medical textbooks with lavish illustrations of disfiguring diseases are interesting. But there are aspects of the condition of having issue that bear discussion (geddit? this is a symptom of the condition too). If only to serve as a warning.

Take, for instance, this:


Here we have two bears. They are twins. Both aged three. Identical at birth. One has been in close contact with b2 (aged four). The other has led a child-free life based in the back of the wardrobe, waiting on the substitute’s bench in case of death, dissolution or disappearance of the main player. Can you tell which is which?

On the left we have a vibrant, fluffy, sleek-coated, devil-may-care, buoyant bear-about-town. On the right we have a shrivelled, shrunken, snot-n-food encrusted, staring-coated, slack-stuffinged, sack-stomached excuse for a bear.

Worked it out yet?

I’m not drawing any great conclusions here. I’m just, um, displaying the evidence. Nature versus nurture.

Dr. Who?

Posted by Robin.

I was excited about the idea of joint guest blogging from the start and I hoped that creatively speaking it would turn out to be as harmonious and memorable as the Six Wives of Henry VIII. Not the Rick Wakeman record, the poem:

Divorced Beheaded Died,
Divorced Beheaded Survived.

My son thought it referred to two queens, both cruelly treated but one luckier than the other. I suppose that is what got me thinking about the poem again and marvelling at its balance, brevity and utility. Six famous women who, albeit unconsciously, gave us a classic of school literature. Think about it. If just one of those six queens had failed to play her part we never would have had that poem. I take inspiration from that.

Which is why it pains me that I got off on the wrong foot yesterday. I have my excuses but in the end what counts is what is on the page. I was trying to find that balance of the personal and the general that Mike does so well but some of the reaction I have had leads me to think that I didn’t quite find the middle ground.

Which is my natural habitat.

I am not a partisan person. Without wishing to boast I have a reputation for integrity that has reached at least as far as Nigeria, so my emails tell me anyway.

For instance I’m neutral about who should be the new Dr Who. Just one thing. For heaven’s sake don’t let it be Nick Hornby. After his recent high-handed showing on Desert Island Discs he’ll be asking for 499 extra pretty girl assistants which, I’m sure you would agree, might be nice for him but would not be entirely within the spirit of the programme.

Feel free to nominate your choices below.


posted by Lyle

I know this is probably WAY below the humour of most TD readers, but what the hell. via Scaryduck, Amazon’s reviews of a book titled Sex, Freud and Folly: The Truth About Psychotherapy. The author’s name has caused untold hilarity among Britain’s schoolboy humour forum, and I’ve laughed myself silly.

Possibly not filter-friendly – I honestly don’t know, and you have been warned.


posted by Lyle.

While I was up in Scotland in February of this year, I stayed up near Schiehallion. One of the claims to fame for this mountain is that it’s where it was proved that gravity is affected by mass – i.e. larger objects exhibit more gravitational pull. Since then I’ve been working on some corollary theories for this.

First of all, it explains why people seem to need to walk directly at me whenever I’m in town and doing shopping or whatever. They look at me, make eye contact, and sometimes actually flippin’ change direction in order to try and collide with me. And of course if they do collide, it’s entirely my fault – there seems to be a theory that they can walk anywhere with alacrity, and even when they decide to walk into someone, it’s the collidee’s fault, not the collider. I’m not paranoid, they ARE out to get me. I’ll never be slim and sylphlike – but if there were a diet marketed that announced “lose weight and stop people walking into you” then I’d be first on the sign-up list.

The other corollaries work on a slightly different principle – I think that it’s part of this ruling that means that if you’re walking fast, or in a hurry, then you’re surrounded by every slow-moving grebo all trying to block your passage as much as possible. (Oooh errr, missus) Also, if you know what you want, and where to get it from, then the path to that particular destination will be blocked by every indecisive gawping brain-dead freewheeling sloven known to man.

Today, I’m disorganised. I forgot the sandwiches I normally do, forgot the card I needed in order to collect a mystery package from the Post Office, and there’s probably a load of other stuff I’ve forgotten today, except I now can’t remember what might be on that list. So a trip to buy a sandwich for lunch has turned into a mission that would’ve made even Oates go “keff that, I’m not going to be gone that long”. The sandwich counter was populated by retards trying to decide between chicken salad, and chicken with stuffing (or whatever – I didn’t pay that much attention) and despite the incredible amount of advertising around the area, they were also discussing just what they could get as part of a meal-deal. I’ve been in 30 seconds – it’s sandwich, drink, crisps. Simple. Rocket Science this ain’t.

So – that’s the theories. Gravity, Speed, and Idiocy. The three great rules of the modern world. I’m off to eat my hard-gained sandwich.

What’s in a name? (1)

Posted by Mr.D.

At the weekend we took our daughter back to Uni ( “Slight returns”.) Yes, I know it’s a shameless blogvert for my own site, but I’ve hardly had time to decorate since moving in, what with this guesting an’ all.

Her Uni is one of two in a Very Large City in the West Midlands. *kicks over the spoor to confuse the trail and wrong-foot stalkers* and we were stunned by how much Birmingham had changed in just one year. Damn, gave it away and after all that careful brushwork too.

The new Bullring has replaced the concrete monstrosities and monoliths which dominated the city and clearly a large amount of time, money and thought has gone into renovating the surrounding areas. So the mere mention of Birmingham should no longer cause you to groan “Oh, that place, it’s awful”.

We overnighted on Saturday for a bargain £50, right in the city centre and on Sunday morning, headed off to find an alternative to the Hotel’s idea of breakfast. Minutes away, on a lovely stretch of canal, a houseboat was serving “Full English” for £5.75, with as much toast as you could butter, served by an extremely friendly staff. Bargain 2.

Now I’m the ‘Go, see, buy’ type of shopper and find no joy whatsoever in aimless perambulating and entering stores I have no intention of purchasing anything from etc., but I was impressed. And the mall has a small but perfectly-formed Molton Brown, so unless our host returns from La Belle France french-scented, he may care to pay them a visit?
The 3-floor Selfridge’s will leave all other branches in its wake and in Poundland, they were selling computer keyboards for, well, a pound. Bargain 3. I’m going to save up my pocket money next week and go back for a laptop.

I can see that the bronze bull statue at the entrance to the shopping complex will no doubt be a magnet for drunken rodeo games, but it might be fun to watch the Brummie cowboys trying to mount up.