Thursday, April 29, 2010

The bank!!!!!!

The credit card bill is due to be paid.

We always pay it off in full at the end of each month, no problem, using it for all our monthly spenditure in order to gain more Sainsbury points (and hence more spending power).

Usually there is more than enough in the account to cover the total, but every now and again, the dates of my salary and Martin's salary going into the account dont match up and we have to have a temporary 'loan' from our savings account to pay it. This month was one of those, so I went with Mart to pay our dues.

We drew a cheque from Nationwide, made out directly to pay the cc bill. Sainsbury have an odd method, you have to make the check out to yourself and then add the cc account number. No problem, we have done this loads of times. In fact the only difference this time round is that we chose to go to a different branch of our bank to pay the bill instead of our own branch.

When we presented the bill and cheque the girl took one look and said they couldnt accept it as they had no agreement with the Nationwide. Confused we asked what she was talking about. 'Its not a HSBC cheque and its not a HSBC bill so we cant accept it.


Stumped, we went back to the Nationwide to ask them about it.

'I dont understand' said the Nationwide girl. 'That makes no sense at all, we dont have agreements, its just a cheque'

We dont have a current account with Nationwide so they couldnt take the payment, but Sainsbury is a Nat West account, so we tried there. No they couldnt do it because we weren't Nat West customers, but our own bank should do it.

Back to the HSBC

Still they insisted (and by now a very 'job's worth' manager had also joined in) that no bank would do it, because there was no connection between the bill and the cheque (aside from the account number written on the cheque, obviously thats not enough of a clue) so should the two bits of paper become seperated there would be no protection for us.

By this time, we had been walking between banks for an hour, and I was rubbed up the wrong way by the 'attitude'. I pointed out we had been doing this for years with no problem. No you havn't, yes I have, it was now turning quite childish. Its a cashier's mistake and they shouldnt have done it. For 5 years?????

How do we pay the ^%^^&&% bill then?

Ahh we will accept the cheque into your account (even though its blantantly NOT made out to you) and then you can pay by one of our cheques or by cash.

Flabbergasted we payed in the cheque, and then after stopping on the way to collect the cheque book, Martin went off to pay at our own branch.

The fun doesnt end there though. When he arrived our branch had had some communication with the other branch because he overheard the cashiers having a conversation about Nationwide cheques. He asked if they were talking about his cheque and they replied that they were just about to send off an email pointing out the bit in their policies which said they DO accept such cheques and that it was the other branch in the wrong!!


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Last few days

For Boo - yes it was only the one cocktail, I was very good and Laura had me on a slow learning curve.
Anyway hun, this one will make you laugh!

Thursday in Cyprus

Early in the week, Laura and Wayne had been telling us all about their time in Cuba when they had got 'caught' by the timeshare touts. We had laughed when they said the only reason they had gone to the presentation was for the ride home they would get afterwards which had saved them a big taxi fare back to their hotel. I think that kind of sets up the scene for what happened next.

The kids fancied a bit of time to themselves and had decided to go for a walk and explore a bit on their own, so Martin and I took ourselves down to the coastline to find the beach, which was meant to be only 10 mins walk away. We couldnt actually get down to the beach for the cliffs, but we found there were some terrific views and we also got to nose at all the larger more expensive villas.

As we strolled back a guy pulled up in a car and gave us some scratch cards. Surpeise, surprise!! We had won, two bottles of wine and the opportunity of cash or a free holiday.

Confident in the knowledge that neither of us were gullible enough to fall for any speil or end up signing our lives away (since we didnt have anything to sign away) we thought we would go along for a laugh (and the wine).

So we got to spend an hour or so, sitting in the sun, enjoying free (soft) drinks and being chatted up by some guy trying to sell us membership into the 'holiday club'.

Now I am not knocking it, somewhere in all the garbage was actually a really good idea held up with some strong buying power, and we were honest enough to weigh up all the options before deciding, but there were several things any intelligent person would consider before filling in the dotted line -

why do you need to sign up there and then ........ probably because (as I looked up on the net later) its possible to get resales for about half the price.

why, since it is a major purchase, do these companies not set up websites and let you buy online, having done the research first?

and most importantly, why, when in the selling presentation we got on to the inevitiable two man tag game, the new guy had to keep feeling up my knee and arm???????????

His overfamiliarity (and really bad jokes and sense of humour) put me off more than anything else might have done.

We said no.

We were grudgingly given our 2 bottles of vin-de-cheapo white.

We won the holiday (which came with heaps of conditions and included another couple of timeshare presentations so which went rapidly in the bin)

We had to ask for the promised lift back to our villa

We were no longer treated like royalty but hardly spoken to as they showed us the door.

Hmmm, strange that.

We had a brilliant laugh about it with the kids when they came back. Even more so the next day when we heard, over the hedge to our villa, two more likely victims being given the same scratch card chat up line and get into the same car. They were in for a treat too.

Laura and Wayne, meantime had walked further than us and had a walk round Coral Bay beach. A lovely time they said, but I bet they didnt have half as much fun as we did.

Still there was enough hot rays and enough time for more time in and around the pool.

That evening we were eating seperately, so after the other two left, Martin and I went out to choose a restaurant. With strict instructions not to go to the same place as the others, we walked up and down the stripe (which has a fair few choices) before finally settling on an establishment for the full three course set menu. Some of the meals were a tad odd, like the warmed (not cooked) tomatoes with feta cheese and honey, but anyway replete we met up with the other villa members to go to the local bar, and you guessed it, watch another foottie match!!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

LO's and Cyprus

Before my hard drive broke I was busy taking part in lots of the comps and sketches put up by ATDML on their blog.

One of them was the February challenge using three different types of patterned paper from your old stash. The photo for inspiration was of three different sized mixing bowls, one inside the other, so this is what I came up with.

I never got to upload it before because of computer problems. I also had this one sitting on my work space for the best part of three weeks, adding bits to it along the way, so its been a bit of a long process getting this one finished.

Cyprus Wednesday

We were rathere dissapointed to awake to windy and cloudy weather, so we did little but mooch about inside the villa. By noon there was a heavy rainfall, which didnt last long but it was still windy.

It did help clear the air as it warmed up enough to spend the rest of the afternoon at the pitch and putt course.

Although very expensive (27E for two of us) we had quite a good laugh. Laura managed a hole in one, and our intrepid golfer Martin kept putting his ball in the water features.

Back at the villa we planned our second attempt at a bbq.

Once more temperatures had dropped so the three of us had retreated indoors to set the table for our meal inside. Martin was outside happily turning sausages and grilling beefburgers when the heavens opened.

This wasn't just rain, this was a deluge. Mart run indoors and stood in the doorframe watching all the food get soggy, and asking if there was a brolly anywhere. This was no good. Our tea was out there.
With no further thought I dived outside. Within two steps I was drenched to the skin, but I wasnt loosing my meal. Quickly I shoved the food from the BBQ onto a plate and run back in for Martin to finish cooking it in the oven.

By the time we had finished our grub, the rain had stopped, and most of the puddles evaporated. We made our way to the pub to watch yet another footie match, only to be caught in another downpour on our way home.

Monday, April 19, 2010

More of Cyrprus

So planes still grounded in the UK and chaos reigns. MP's recalled from election campagning to discuss ideas of getting all our UK travellers home. A small silver lining is that supply teachers i'e me are getting a bit of work. I have been booked in at a nearby school for the whole week to cover one of their teachers marooned in Singapore on her way home from her Easter break in Tailand. I am so pleased we booked our break in Cyprus those few days earlier.

Cyprus Day 3

It really was going to be a chill out holiday so most of the party stayed asleep in bed the next morning, apart from Martin who despatched himself to the supermarket bright and early for the much needed bread and a few other urgent supplies.

We treated ourselves to a homecooked breakie before we all took the car to the supermarket. It was packed, as obviously other holiday makers needed provisions too. We managed to get salad stuff and bbq grub, and then enough exhursion for one day, we collapsed beside the pool in the warm sunshine again. Laura had got herself sunburnt already so there was lots of slapping on lotion, our whimpy white bodies surprised by the heat of the sun.

Late afternoon we drove along the coast

beautiful scenery
and across many kms of unmade road to try and find the turtle breeding grounds at Lara Bay. We had been before many years ago but it had been during the egg laying months so the beach had been closed and we couldnt actually see much. This time I hoped to be a little nearer to the incubation shed and maybe even spot a turtle, but all we managed to find after bumping uncomfortably along the miles of rough road not such beautiful roads
was a rather run down looking cafe (although some other visitors assured us they had just had a lovely meal in it) and nothing much else.

Disappointed, but quite happy to enjoy the countryside as we drove back onto tarmacadam, we arrived back at the villa to discover there had been a power cut. No worries, that wasnt going to stop our bbq (the villa owned a fantastic brick built bbq complete with serving benches and lights).

BBQ envy

After we had eaten, the light failing and only one candle in the whole of the place, we were unfortunately forced up the road for a candlelit drink in a nearby bar.

It was quite amusing to people watch and see how various people dealt with the enforced darkness, the bar staff gave mixed reactions, some making jokes with us and puns on the service in the poor light, while others were somewhat short tempered about it.

The power returned after a few hours though, and we moved back to the sports bar to watch the football and laura introduced me to the world of cocktails with a Tequila Sunrise.

Saturday, April 17, 2010


Luckily we went and came back before the country's planes were grounded following the volcanoe erruption in Iceland, causing a huge dust cloud (allegedly) over UK. I say allegedly because for the last 3 days we have had beautiful blue skies, warm weather, no glorious sun sets (well any more glorious than Mr J Turner painted) and not a spot of dust on our cars.

Anyway we had a lovely chilled out time and are happy to be back.

This week has also been a bit layed back despite the mounds of holiday washing, cleaning the dusty house, and catching up with the seed planting and potting up in the greenhouse.

Today I had a treat. Ollie was working (one of the 2 saturday's a year he has to go in) and so I got to have a mummy and Kelly day. She had sent me a gold network card so it didnt cost too much for me to travel up by train to Bromely South, and meet up with her there for a day of shopping and lunch out. I say lunch out as we ended up sitting on the wall of the train station's car park eating a 6" subway and drinking a bottle of water each.

I had already been out buying lots of summer stuff for my week in Cyprus but we have also now been invited to join Kelly and Ollie in a villa on Lanzerote for a week in June, so Kelly needed lots of stuff for her suitcase. I bought a couple of necklaces and bracelets to accessorise my wardrobe whilst she hit the shelves of primart.

Thank you Kelly, I had a lovely mummy and daughter day. xx

Trust us to choose a bank holiday Sunday to travel! Actually it was quite good as the roads were fairly empty, the queues at the check in were short and fast, and there weren't too many people in 'spoons so we got our pre-flight brunch quickly. The flight was smooth and it was nice to get those little luxuries as part of the flight not as extra's (its years since I went on a flight giving out free peanuts with the free drinks).

We collected the hire car ((although I am still convinced we were conned on the price) and we were freely upgraded from a Ford Focus to something much larger and Martin was more than pleased that all the luggage fitted our 6 seater.

We lost 2 hours in the time zones which made it seem a long day, leaving home at just 9 am and arriving just after 8pm local time, and we still had quite a long drive (about an hour and a half) to find the villa. But it was mainly straight motorway, and even at the end of the journey the directions were straightfoward and got us there easily., especially since we ignored the helpful English guy in the carpark who told us it was best to leave the motor way 30 miles before we needed to, and follow the much longer, winding coast road!

We managed to find a 24 kiosk type shop open and stocked up on a few essentials (although they had no bread) and in fact the only hic-up was that once we had opened the safe, got the keys out and entered the villa, the alarm started to peel........ very loudly! Of course no one had mentioned an alarm to us, and it took Laura and Martin some time to locate the main switch and through a lucky guess at the code number, shut it off.

There was water, wine, juice and milk already in the fridge, but we stuck with tradition and headed for the local bar for an end of travel day drink. Since the main strip was only 2 mins walk away it was no hussle to dump the suitcases and stroll up the hill.

Our 'local' The Blazing Saddles Coral Bay

Next morning dawned bright and sunny, and we discovered the villa had lovely sea views. It was still a national holiday so with little stock in the cupboards we were forced to go back to the bar for a rather late full english (which was a lovely chilled out way to start the day) before venturing out to find a supermarket that was open. Although there was a really big one in the next road which we strolled over to, that was shut for the holidays. In fact we had to
take the car further afield before we finally found someone trading, and he wanted £3 for a frozen loaf of Kingsmill.

We did stock up a bit there, but def. not with bread!!
After that we did the unpacking, and hit the patio with our books, our music and our suncream to chill out by the


Later in the afternoon it was even hot enough to venture into the pool.

A fully working waterfall too!

This was unheated so was a bit of a shock to the system when you first put your toes in, but was well worth the effort and lots of fun. Around 4 pm we got the car out and drove down to Paphos harbour area. To us it seemed too much like Margate/Ramsgate, with little going for it. There were a few characature artists and some stalls selling jewellry but mostly it was bars and restaurants, and not much else. Living on the doorstep to Dover castle also made this a little insignificant.

Paphos castle
Still the ice-creams were welcome.

First cone of the year. Yummy!

Still in an exploritory mood we drove in the other direction from Coral Bay village to have a bit of a peek at Coral Bay beach. Catching it just at the right time we were able to enjoy the sunset over the sweeping coastline, from the cliftop bar as we enjoyed a drink.

Coral bay beach
The strip in Coral Bay Village is chocka with restaurants and bars, so it took us quite a while to choose were to eat that evening. Eventually we settled, and had a so-so 2 course meal which came to £70 for the four of us. It struck us that the exchange rate on the euro wasnt going to do us any favours and eating out was going to be a tad expensive.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Before I go

We are off to Cyprus for a week tomorrow with Wayne and Laura. We have hired a villa which last week caused quite a bit of a panic. I had been emailing the hire company back and forth for various reasons since February with no problems, but they still needed the details of how we were transfering from the airport before releasing the details of where the villa was and how to get the keys. Last saturday I emailed these final details through and waited for the reply. It didnt come.

I emailed again on Wednesday, still no answer, so Martin decided to ring them. There was no connection to the London number, and all the other numbers we had were in Cyprus. We tried the men with little mustaches on 118 118 but they were worse than useless, after keeping us on the line for ages they couldnt find any numbers at all. By now I was getting a bit panicky, so Martin phoned Cyprus.

None of the numbers would connect!!

Some more sitting there looking at each other, and then Martin got me to check the international code for Cyprus, we had only been ringing half of the code. Finally someone answered, seemed to know what we were talking about and promised to email the instructions.


Except the promised email never arrived.

Thursday morning I tried emailing again, using the reply button to the emails I had got before. It bounced!!!

In desperation I emailed again through their web site.

By now I am near hysterical because its not just our holiday but the kids as well and I am the one that has done all the booking etc. It will be down to me if its all gone pear shaped.

Luckily Martin was able to get through to the head poncho in Cyprus, despite it being a bank holiday over there. He had managed to find one of my emails in their junk folder, and sent the details of how to get there immediately.

And I have found our villa on google earth.

So only the packing to do and we are on our way!!!!

In the meanwhile I took a little time out to play this morning.

I have had a layout sitting on my desk for 2 weeks, wondering what to add to it, to embellish it. Although my craft room is full of tools and stuff to use the tools on, such as glitter, glue, die cutters, card, punches, and such, there isnt a great deal of stash iuswim. Then this morning I had a brain wave. Ages ago I got a tub of dreamweaver stencil paste. I havent used it much, not really knowing how to use it on a LO. I also have a Chatterbox doodle genie.

And I have always wanted some of those glitter/gem swirls but refuse to pay the premium to buy some.

Light bulb moment! Make my own. So I used the paste on the doodle genie to create some dotty swirls, covered them in glitter and voila.