Saturday, 29 March 2008

Get your guns...Its tourist season

Ahhhhhhh the time is coming and they re here early! The first batch of tourists have been spotted walking into the middle of some of the busiest roads to take a photo of the view. (I always wondered why they don't realise that the buses will run them over). Working in the city centre is a nightmare during tourist season (between April and well about early January really) I like to hide in my office and pretend they re all not really there. That's easy until its time to go home and there buses full of them! Maybe I can go on a 9 month holiday to get away from them all?

Thursday, 27 March 2008

"Down there" dye

Highlight of my day today was flicking bored style through a Superdrug magazine and stumbling across the new products page which introduced me to their lovely new line of Fun Betty Dye
Available in Hot Pink or Red. Does anyone really need to have another set of roots to think about before a big night out??

Baby Lunch

Everyone at my work seems to have either given birth or been responsible for someone else giving birth in the last few months. Ok...not everyone, but lots...I'm not hiding anything in my wardrobe...soooo anyway, ahem...This influx of sprolets means that we have lots of new parents proudly bringing in their loin fruits to show off. I am horribly maternal (something I keep well under wraps as else I'd try to mother wet socks and things) although I'm pretty convinced that anyone who would really quite encourage their child to wear fancy dress everyday (yes, that's right, I'm one of those people who would have the child always dressed as a fairy/pumpkin/spiderman/skeleton/Dracula/peter pan/ me this could be a long list...) probably shouldn't be allowed real children.

Anyway, Yesterday was a visit day...A good colleague brought in her little girl. Very cute and snuggly she was so I managed to grab a baby squish before she went home (I did warn you.)

Unfortunately said baby decided that it was lunchtime and that possibly my "boys" looked like they held a bit more lunch than her Mums and I ended up with a 3 month old trying to latch on to my shirt! baby drool all over!

Too busy to pee..

Ok I can hear the scream of TMI from here...I love my job. I love the fact that they like me and I get paid for...well, working, but not as hard as I would maybe expect for my wage. The only thing I'm not keen on is the sheer hecticness that I encounter every few months (Its a peaks a lulls kind of job and that's totally beyond my control) This month is one of those, between people (including myself) having time off and people being off sick however, I have found myself desperately short staffed with a build up of work...grrr. I actually had to bring work home with me last night instead of beating boys with sticks I was not a happy bunny.

Although as a major consolation Guitar Hero 3 arrived yesterday too so once I finished I made B Man play with me on that for a few hours (not like he complained!) Yahoo! I'm very glad to say I haven't wasted all the practice I put in before and can still manage to get 5 stars with ease - ok we haven't made it past playing through easy level yet, but its still an achievement! and I was madly impressed with the 502 note streak...ok, ok, I'll stop with the geek now. >>>hides in the corner.

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

The fun of street watching

I love my bus journey home. Aside from the overcrowded bus full of junkies, childhood mothers with screaming brats, and old people I really do love it!

The best part is watching whats happening outside the bus (especially as it stops me from wanting to maim the others ON the bus - see list above)

Today, the lovely "street people" who roam princes street and generally try to mug random people to make them either

  • give up their bank details for (insert random charity name here)
  • say guranga
  • buy discount books
  • have a fun discussion on religion (I'm destined for hell apparently)
were having a get together. First two of them were hugging - I think they had agreed to sign up to each others charity in an attempt to get into each others..... ummmmm.... hammocks (?) then I was greeted by the sight of the man holding the GIANT sign reading "Jesus died for the ungodly" being stopped by the snapfax seller. Unfortunately the bus moved on so I didn't get to see if he bought one :( but it tickled me that as everyone else refuses to stop for these folks now (usually after being chased down the road by one, or something) they seem to have started preying on each other! Maybe we will once again be able to walk down a street hassle free!

Monday, 24 March 2008

The curse of Paypal..

I am pretty certain that Paypal hates me. Almost as much as I hate it in fact. Problem is that eBay likes to steal all my money on a regular basis and without the beloved Paypal this becomes all the more difficult. So, bored on Friday night, I decided to buy myself a new game from Steam for a whopping £5. They also use Paypal so off I toddled to the sign in page to complete my lovely new purchase only to be completely bamboozled buy it not allowing me in! I know my password, in fact I will never forget it in a million years, but suddenly I have the sinking feeling that I must have changed in on my last visit, or something similarly stupid. So, after a couple of attempts I give in and hit the remind-me-of-my-password button which promises me an email. Two days later still no email... I am now worried that I have managed to lock myself out of my account (Again!) but not wanting to have to speak to their customer service officials only to be told that I will have to set up a new account, I decided to leave it a few days.

I've just tried again and behold the magic Paypal door opened...Maybe it was looking out for me and trying to curb my spending??

Friday, 21 March 2008

Back to normality

Well I made it back safe and sound, DaBMan still has all his functions and as much brain as he had when he left (Well nearly!)

Norwich has changed a little since I was last there 14 months ago, there has been an influx of people which has resulted in the place actually being nearly multicultural which in my mind can only be a bonus (one of my main problems with the place before was the sheer unadulterated racism that you seemed to encounter at every turn) there also appears to have been some money spent on the place too, theres a new bus station (which was literally directly underneath our hotel room window) which looks scarily like a spaceship (well from the 4th floor it did) and lots of other areas that had been spruced up - obviously they knew I was coming and had tidied for me ;)

My friends were as strange and crazy as ever which is no surprise, but still made me happy. I was most amused by David having gained weight - for the last 10 years that I have known him he has never been more than 11 1/2 stone but is now a whopping 15! OK he looks good for it, his frame can carry that with ease (he is 6'4" after all) but he actually had a little beer belly...he got ripped for it till he told me where to stick it. (this picture is from last year so you have to add about 3 stone!)

Rick interrogated poor B Man in the pub for an evening and then commented "I'm so impressed, He's come down here and tried to stitch me up!" after B Man bought a pint of highly toxic beer for them both. (Yes he really does look like this!)

Saturday night was trial by fire as the whole crowd (well almost) descended at Kat and J's place to see me. Apparently I am a bit of a little magnet for them all as the last time they were all together like that was during my last visit. That makes me feel special :D

Lastly we popped in to see Wanda who in her normal crazed manner told us in detail of her first (and by the sounds of it last) live on cam Brazilian wax - which was a total illustrate this she pulled faces and did little displays of what one set of lips had been doing using her other set...uh huh you get the idea.

The drive was pretty fine, 7 hours fly by when you re having fun...although on the way back I was really wishing that I could just snap my fingers and appear back at home. I have however now found a new desire to play Guitar Hero again especially after having three of the guys stand behind me in utter amazement that I was playing any computer game for any more than 10 minutes whilst I gave them a little bit of a challenge to beat so I've just dished out £65 to get the latest one with two guitars, damn these expensive habits!

Thursday, 13 March 2008

The countdown begins

I think I'm actually quite excited about getting back home for a few days, I'm definitely looking forward to seeing my friends again. They have been "showing me the love" for the last week or so and I feel adored (Not that I don't usually of course, but these folks I only see once a year or so and I have hardly spoken to many of them since my last visit down) During the last week however I have had at least four different invites to stay in various peoples houses (especially once they found out I had booked a hotel...Duh!... but they all seemed to think I had done so because I didn't want to put anyone out) I have more invites to socialise than I can possibly fit into 3 1/2 days and even grumbles that we aren't going to be there for the club night on Friday.

Now if I could only find a way to get out of the family part of the visit... ;)

I'm also kinda loking forward to being a tourist again too, DaBMan spent a short while looking through the tourist info to find stuff for us to do and I was quite surprised how much appealed to the both of us (Loads of stuff that I had totally forgotten about) I'm almost thinking that this might be fun after all!

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Dream on

I'm obviously still pent up about the journey next weekend...I've chilled out since the weekend and no longer a miserable wreck but the drive is flying around in my subconscious. How do I know this? Simple because I had mad dreams last night all involving driving in some way.

Initially they started out with the inevitable chase dream (I'm not sure exactly what was chasing me) round what seemed to be some kind of indoor marketplace or large shop except rather than the normal running-through-treacle effect I was driving a small, slow car that looked kinda like a ghost train car or dodgem. The dream changed when I escaped from the shop and got onto proper roads...It became the same recurring dream I had when I was a kid (which is spooky as I haven't dreamt about it since I was about 10) I am driving up a big hill, usually following lots of traffic, and as I get to the top of the hill I realise that there is either no road at all on the other side and that all the cars are plummeting to an unavoidable crunchy death, or that the road on the other side goes down in the same way a roller coaster might (almost vertically with that freefall feeling) Last night was the latter of these with the Oblivion-esque roller coaster feel.

I wonder what tonight has in store...budding analysts do feel free to have a go at the meaning of this least there were no rhinos...

Monday, 10 March 2008

Mood swings and roundabouts

I have been in a pretty terrible mood this weekend. No particular reason for it that I have been able to put my finger on, which makes me even more irritable... I prefer to know why I'm snappy and horrible.

I think its due at least in part to next week. I'm taking DaBMan down to Norwich to meet my friends and (unfortunately for him) subject him to my family too. I'm looking forward to it, after all I haven't seen any of them since last January, but I'm also a little nervous. Its the normal stuff of silliness like "what of all my friends have changed and I don't like them anymore?", but for some reason this weekend the little things like that have been preying on my mind. I'm also a little worried about not having driven a vehicle of any kind since last November and now having to drive a car singlehandedly all the way down the country. I'm very glad to have the company of DaBMan to keep me awake and concentrating on the road, but it also means that its not just my own safety in my hands.

I've also been re-running conversations in my head and blowing every word completely out of proportion, finding it hard to let random comments slide off me like they normally do. Wow...Maybe my neurotic side is coming out - I hope not!

Today's been an awful lot better than yesterday, so I'm hoping that a good nights sleep has stopped the internal tantrums, at least a little. I'm sure I'll be a total mess my next weekend when it actually come to time to leave...

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Opodo no no

Oh Dear... How does this start?...

Well it starts with a holiday of sorts... DaBMan and myself are heading dahhn saaff (note the very dodgy London overspill accent) to visit my friends and what little family I still have there. As I no longer have custody of a car I cleverly worked out that hiring a rental car and driving down for two people worked out financially better than flying or talking the train and less mind numbingly sickening than the 14 hour coach journey, and on top of that it means we have transport when in Norwich (Buses there are few and far between at best and costly, as are Taxis once you need to go out of the centre of town) so off I plod through the wonderful internet to find the cheapest car rental offer I could. A quick search came across Opodo, Online travel agenty booking third party people who offer me a car for 5 days for the wondrous price of £88.24. Too good to be true! well we all now what that means...

During the booking process the Opodo site states very clearly that all costs including taxes and additions etc will be displayed in total before payment. (Great Clear and Open! what more can a girl want??!) I finish booking and on the final page the price is shown - still £88.24 - there is also a note about a deposit amount that will be blocked from a credit card at the collection desk of excess+vat+fee. Now, I am very good at algebra, but even the best can't work that one out without being given a figure... Anyway work arrives so I toddle off, asking DaBMan to give them a quick call to find out this mystery sum. I get a text halfway through the day to tell me that the call is on a charged line (10p per minute) and he keeps getting through, getting put on hold for 5 minutes without speaking to anyone and then mysteriously cut off so He has found a contact us page and sent in an enquiry.

Today after 2 days I get a response...The amount to be blocked on a credit card is £700. Uh huh...because I have a spare £700 sitting unspent on a credit card don't I? Luckily there emailer from Opodo has put a telephone number for the local branch of the hire company(Auto Europe) on the email so I get on the phone to the directly to find out if this is correct and if so what I can do to get this price down?!

The first phone call got me the information of "Ah well you need to go to our website direct and take out the extra insurance cover"

This confuses me a little as the website given is for National car hire not Auto Europe but I try this anyway. the confusion hits even harder when I put my order number into the site and it tells me they have no such booking.

OK...Phone call number 2... This time I get the most helpful man on the planet! Great! He explains that to get the deposit down from £700 I do need to take out this extra cover - but that no one has yet told me that it costs £14 per day and should be taken and paid at the desk upon collection. I moaned at him about the service received so far from Opodo and he confirmed that this is a common story and people often have problems with them. I suggest that I am totally fed up and confused and want t o cancel my contract with Opodo because of the problems. Nice man offers to hire me the car directly with them to save on hassle and instantly offers me a lower price than Opodo (including the cover) I agree and he "pencils me in" for it. Woohoo! things are looking up! I'm still paying twice as much as I thought for the car but at least I know the score now!

Gathering my strength I call back the 10p per minute number for Opodo. working my way through the automated talking lady (press 1 for rectal exams etc.) I select the option to cancel my booking and at last a bored sounding man answers immediately.

I moan at him (nicely) and explain the problems I have had and that I want to cancel. He tells me that for the pleasure of being kept on hold, hang up on and generally ignored for 3 days he is going to charge me £15. He wanders away for a bit, leaving me on hold again (probably picking his nose or something)

I protest and receive the very stock answer of "But madam, the Terms on our website say that if you cancel within 7 days of making the booking we charge you £15, after 7 days it goes up to £40, and if you are a no show on the day of collection you loose your entire fee."

I protest some more but finally give in. "Ok, ok, you can have the £15 for doing nothing, just refund me the rest."

Bored man replies "Ok well I will also point out that the rest of your fee will be put into a refund request queue and will take 14-21 days to be processed."

WHAT??? you want to keep my money for another 3 weeks? (I am going away in 1 1/2) At this point I am in my office almost ready to eat my handset desperately trying to keep my voice down and slowly loosing the will to live. "Ok, so what are these damn extra costs that you re on about that I can pay to get this deposit down? if it means I dont have to cancel my booking?"

"Well I'm not entirely sure of the figures but if you would like to hold I can call the hire company and find out for you."

"Um no. I am paying 10p per minute to call you, I dont want to be on hold while you do that, could you maybe call me back with an answer?"

"Oh No madam, we are an incoming call centre only, If you would like to hold I'll give them a call..."

" NO, I'm not paying for that. "

"Ok, well um maybe I could send you an email with the information."

"Fine!" (I'm bored now, hes obviously rubbed off on me)

About 30 mins later I sneak up and check my emails, Bored man has answered. The prices he quotes are different again to 1, the originals from Opodo, and 2, the figures I got from the hire company direct. Gah! I have too much work for this so get back to shuffling emails for the afternoon (Its important... Honest!)

On the bus on the way home I again ring the hire company direct, cancel the pencilled in booking with them (no charge and no fuss) and another nice lady tells me that it seems every customer they get who books through an external internet company has these problems...

I come home and close to tears relate the whole sorry story to DaBMan who sits rubbing his hands together as he listens. (He loves a fight!) Obviously from here on in I can only really hear half the conversation...but it ends with Mr B thoroughly chewing the first "customer service rep" until he gets put on hold at least twice and finally gets through to a 'maybe' manager who makes him go through the whole story again, repeats the same standard replies again, and finally gives in with a "Oh well I wasn't told that you'd had all these problems, I was only told that you were disputing the £15 charge"

The 'maybe' manager finally agrees to refund the whole amount with no charge and dutifully passes the phone back to the "service rep" (of course managers couldn't possibly push a button to refund anything and its a good excuse for more holding!) The money gets refunded almost instantly (as if by magic, the refund queue has disappeared!)

The whole thing is finally sorted, (except of course I dont have a car booked still) I have vowed never to even think of booking anything through Opodo and making sure I let as many people as possible know about the most abysmal service they give. I'm even half tempted to contact those watchdog people and see if I can really stir up some trouble, but I'll see how vicious I feel tomorrow.

So the moral of today's lesson... DO NOT EVER, EVER USE OPODO!!

Sunday, 2 March 2008

Another night out

Well, its been over a month since our last night out. Mainly due to money and time restrictions, so DaBMan, Gurn and Myself headed out this weekend for some clubby fun. It a bit odd for me as the club scene in Norwich, where I have the unfortunate experience of coming from, is undeniably different to the scene here in Edinburgh and I haven't experienced much of it here. Different is not bad however...In this case it simply means that I stand out from the general masses far more than I do back home with far far less effort (Which as I am now getting both old and lazy is great!) As a general guide, Here is a link to some photos from one of the nights on in Norwich, Chains on Velvet so that's more what I am used to wearing on a night out - of course, as all Barbies love to dress up its really no bad thing that I get accosted in the toilets of Opium and told how great I look, and that I am on the receiving end of various girls evil stares (which I always take as a compliment)

I was a little disturbed by the DJs music choice however when they started playing Bon Jovi and Guns n' Roses - and not at the end of the night to make everyone clear out either! It was a generally fun night, I was highly amused by Gurn and DaBMan being totally dismayed at the club having changed since their last visit and just how offended Gurn was at the addition of a sofa...