Tuesday, 25 December 2012


enjoys a hearty lunch, plenty of wine, gin and beer...and now time for a well earned snooze :-)

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Say hello

to my desk mascots!,  long time no see fellas!

Monday, 17 December 2012

Claire finally gets her horse canvas

Picture and massive canvas from good friend Darren Bull and owner of www.whiskerspetphotography.co.uk worth the beers we paid for it :-)

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Chewy protects the house…

… from Christmas invaders !


That’s one less fairy … Peter Pan will not be impressed Smile

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Jamie Olivers Italian Restaurant in Leeds – Best avoided

During my week in Leeds I decided to give this place a try http://www.jamieoliver.com/italian/leeds

After all, it is on expenses, and makes a change from room service!

I will cut a long story short, the staff were very friendly, but the food served was terrible… I watch enough Master Chef to know you must “taste, taste, taste” when preparing food… I am sure this does not happen in Jamie Olivers Leeds restaurant… either that or Chef had a cold.

The starter of sweet mini chilli peppers was rather scrummy but then the main course came… Start bay crab risotto with a side of polenta chips.

OMG, the “our famous” polenta chips where squares and not chips and the salt… so much salt, you could have dropped these in bath and made a floatation tank, they were disgusting.

As for the Start bay crab risotto, I like a bit of chilli heat, but this thing should have come with a fire extinguisher, it burned like mad; turned me red and set me off sweating, not a good sight in the middle of a restaurant… I joke not, it was that hot and very unpleasant.

When asked “was I really done” after eating two blocks of salt and less than half my risotto, I said I could not take the heat hence I could not eat anymore, all I got was a “sorry about that”.

I promise this next bit is true… I then went to McDonalds !.

A terrible terrible night that I never want to repeat… next time I go out for an Italian and I have a choice of Jamie Olivers or Zizzi I will go for Zizzi, I have never once had bad food in a Zizzi restaurant (and I have been to three different ones now).

Such a shame… Jamie Olivers menu looks great, it is just the execution of it has been let down in the kitchen.

You're too big Muttley…

… Scally is staying over for the weekend and has brought his bed with him….

Muttley – “What do you mean I wont fit?”


“If I just flop a bit”….


“And stretch…… ahhhhh there you go” Smile


Friday, 7 December 2012

Xbox, how long?!

The 10 shows the number of years I have been on Xbox Live.

60,000 is my Gamerpoints.

Blimy both are big lol :-)

Part time dog walker!

Claire is in town buying stuff for Christmas, so I am promoted to TheMuttleyCrew chief dog walker for the day... Which makes a change from staring at a computer screen!

Saturday, 1 December 2012


Home made chocolate dogs and yummy beer from the Flyball Team at the last training session of the year.... Oooo big NOM :-)


... this new phone can also blog, so I can now blog on the move !, easy way to tell if I have used the phone:

All pictures will be at the end of the post and will all be "centered" and the picture quality might not be great, but at least I don't need to wait to get home and then wait to get the laptop and then wait to copy pictures across etc. etc !

Picture from this mornings fresh dog walk :-)

Friday, 30 November 2012

This is what I will be mainly consuming this weekend :-)

This is the reason why the Government want to up the price of booze....  3 bottles of nom beer for £5 and 6 bottles of rosé wine for £15.70.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Random panorama shots…

…ooo…the Xperia takes nice wide shots with no stupid “stitching” (They look clearer if you click on them, I must have sized them up wrong in the blog post).



Sunday, 25 November 2012

Is Lidl really cheaper than Asda / Sainsburys…

During my quick visit to Lidl to buy some coffee pods I noticed they had a great deal on raw lean mince beef, I then got it in my head to try and do a weekly shop in Lidl rather than my local Sainsburys or Asda.

I though I would share my thoughts and findings.

I have compared prices to Asda, I don’t care what Sainsburys claim, Asda is cheaper !.

My weekly shop is 5 main meals, enough bread ham and cheese for sandwiches for a week, toilets rolls, bit of fruit and some other odds and sods like fish fingers, pot noodles, deodorant.

This is for a family of 4, two adults a teenage girl and 11 year old son.

Where I would have brought Smart Price in Asda I have used these prices in the comparison (in this case salted butter and spaghetti), where I would not buy Smart Price I have used Asda own brand prices (in this case fish fingers as Lidl are 100% Pollock fillet, so are Asda own brand… Smart Price is 60% fish bits and filler, and also tooth paste).

Smart Price is around half the price of Lidl on everything … except tinned chopped tomatoes where they both charge the same at 31p.

But is Lidl of equal quality ?!…

If you take fresh spaghetti bolognese and read the labels for Lidl and Sainsburys they are almost identical, both are 400g contain exactly the same amount of sauce, meat and pasta.


Both only use British beef and both are made in Britain.

Lidl claims no artificial flavourings or colourings.. and is made by Lailas Fine Foods (http://www.lailasfinefoods.co.uk/the_food.html)

In fact the Lidl brand is also healthier:

  Sainsburys Lidl
Calories 631 532
Sugar 9.5g 7.2g
Fat 27.7g 18g
Saturated Fat 11g 8g
Salt 2g 1.72g

But that all means nothing if it tastes rubbish… so a quick blast in the microwave and my 11 year old son gives it the big thumbs up.

This is 99p verses £2.20 in Sainsburys (or £2.05 at ASDA).

In fact the Lidl crisps match Walkers crisps figure for figure nutritionally and taste great… a pack 24 Lidl cost £2.45, Asda own brand = £4.

Then there is the toilet roll (!)… 20 rolls of 200 three plysheets for 29p a roll in Lidl… this is the same as Velvet triple soft… but I would only ever buy Asda Shades so I used these in my price comparison… also, did you know 18 rolls of Shades is 31p a roll but a 24 pack is 33p a roll !.

So yes, quality is on a par with Sainsburys and Asda.

The experience of shopping in Lidl…

Lidl in Wokingham is pretty dead, I get the impression the folks of Wokingham are too posh to be seen in Lidl Smile so it is easy to wonder around, quiet no getting stuck behind anyone.

Problem is the shelves run in random orders, food is all over the place, special offers are hidden in random corners and there are never any till staff (unlike Asda, where no matter how rammed it is you always get through a till quick !).

It is quirky at best, very confusing at worse !

And the price comparison ?!:

Lidl = £65

Asda = £83

That is not a bad saving !.

So, that’s it, job done, Lidl is great… never going to shop at Asda or Sainsburys again….. err… not quite !.

The lean mince had all sold out by the time I went back… in fact the fresh meat options are pretty limited.

I could not find chilli con carne sauce or red kidney beans for one of my evening meals.

They don't sell much in way of toast toppers… my wife and daughter love pate, but they do not sell it.

Odd things like vinegar and cola (any sort) I could not find… and rice was only sold in huge HUGE bags, which is no good for me.

The alcohol range is rubbish, no SoCo or Ciders that my wife likes, and Rose wine was all too expensive.

So a mixed bag…I think next week I will write a list, buy what I can in Lidl and then stop off at Sainsburys on the way home to top up on the missing stuff.

All in all interesting, surprising, not great, but not bad either !

mmmm warm wine !


And more Ritter Sport and Kinder chocolate than you can shake a stick at Smile


This is not the Droid you are looking for…

So the contract on my old Nokia N8 has come to an end… not that I used it much, gave it to Claire as she always breaks her phones on a regular basis… phones and horses do not mix !, been using a Nokia Lumia 800 for ages now.

So, what phone do I upgrade to?… easy, the Nokia Pureview 808 … take glorious pictures and I am more than happy using Symbian… but wait…. what do you mean no one in the UK offers it on contract ?!… arghhhh !.

Hmmm… okay, I love the windows phone 7.5 interface, I can just get the new Nokia 920 rocking windows phone 8.0 that is getting good reviews… “Hello, Carphone Warehouse, upgrade me to a 920 please… what, you want how much a month, and how much upfront ?!?!“ pfft… I dont think so, the Scottish blood in me is running hot.

So decided to go off the wall and get a Sony Xperia S, I always liked my old Sony Ericsson phones.

It runs Android which I have never used, and has a 13Mp camera.

Had it a week now, first impressions:

Windows 7.5 vrs Android = Window 7.5 easy win… aggregated emails and social network feeds, active tiles and easy interface … makes Android look so clumsy.  And the fantastic web browser makes up for any apps missing in the app store (like mobile banking or shopping).

Design = Flaw with the camera location… keep getting my bloody fingers in the way of the camera lens… the camera needs to be held with finger tips and thumbs which is a bloody pain as it also introduces picture shake / blur… when I am out in the rain, on a sodden field, carrying two dog leads I want to be able to stand still, firm grip a phone and take a picture… this thing is rubbish, loads of camera shake.

Point of mention = Last.FM on this phone is fantastic, even better than on Symbian !

First impressions to one side I am sure I will cope fine with this phone once I have got email ticking along… the main reason for the phone was the camera, and yes, despite the camera shake issues it is much better than the Lumia 800… so my blog should start getting more random updates again !.

Having said that, once you have used the Pureview 808 everything else is just rubbish in comparison… it’s like the Xperia is a BMW M3, it has camera specs much better than every day Ford Mondeo phones … however the 808 is the Vayron / Koenigsegg of the phone camera world… utterly mental Smile

Quick samples below .. all point and shoot:


Then trying to re create the 808 dog shots… problem is it is very wet and overcast … in fact it has not stopped raining all week.

Good, but you can see camera flash in the dogs eyes:


Take the flash away and it gets worse:


This shot shows how dull it is… first one is before the phone was ready to go, the next shows how much more light gets let in when the phone is ready:


Actually, side by side the dull one looks better (but bad blurring)!

IGT tests are all great (yay !).


I am sure once I have played around some more the pictures will get better !

Friday, 23 November 2012

Daft Jade, unimpressed Uno !


Senseo at Lidl (Melangerie coffee pads / pods)

Picked up a Philips Senseo coffee maker from eBay the other week.

Was very spur of the moment, and a bit disappointed that I only have a choice of 2 coffee options in Sainsburys (Mug and Strong).

So while looking at coffee options on Amazon (cheaper than eBay) I noticed someone commented that you can buy coffee pads at Lidl.

Now, I have never been in my local Lidl in Wokingham… but what the hell, lets have a look.

Lidl indeed sell coffee pads for the Senseo:


Each bag contains 18 126g pads (so used with the single cup option), both bags show a coffee strength of “4” out of “5” so comparable to the Douwe Egberts bags that contain 18 125g strong coffee pads.

They cost £1.69 each… so much cheaper than the Douwe Egberts at £2.99

Taste wise they are both very nice, but the Brazil blend just edges it for me… strong but not bitter…. and both taste just as good if not better than the Douwe Egberts.

I mix mine with a spoon of Coffee Mate… that Lidl also sell in 500g tins for £1 less than Sainsburys !.

Update !… looks like I am not the only one to think the Brazil blend is good Smile   http://www.lidl.co.uk/cps/rde/xchg/SID-C126A35D-C78535D0/lidl_uk/hs.xsl/4179_21272.htm?offerdate=&ERR=noservice

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Bad weather…no trains in Manchester !

Day trip to Manchester… made it up okay little realising that bad weather was about to cause travel chaos !.

I left work at 4pm to walk into an almost train free Manchester train station… 6 empty platforms !… no trains making it up via Birmingham… so no trains heading back down South to either Reading or London !.


Luckily one brave train made it to Manchester and battled back to Reading… considering all the train cancellations an extra hour on my journey time was a luck escape!

Sunday, 30 September 2012

5 days in….

… well, Claire has been in Antigua for 5 days now… I have not heard a peep from her since she left…. I guess there are lots of “all inclusive” things that need to be tried / eaten / drunk Smile

Looking after the kids, horses and dogs has been fine; not resorted to cooking a pizza or getting a take away yet !.

One of the people Claire went with posted this picture on Facebook… looks nice !


On a different subject Barclays are letting you design your own debit cards for free…. got these two due next week… just need to pic a picture for card 3… well cool !


And lastly, a picture of a very cold wet Jade at Flyball last weekend !  (OMG it was soooooooo cold !)


Friday, 21 September 2012

Jade and Uno

This was their dressage test, Uno is now at week 4 of being broken in… Jade pulls some funny faces !



Thursday, 20 September 2012

Creative Haydon

Haydon had a couple of broken Xbox controllers and he wanted to take them apart to see if he could fix them.

So I lent him my PC screwdriver set and left him to it.

3 days of fiddling later Haydon announces he could not fix either controller…. but he took the working parts from both and made a working hybrid !.

Very impressive, this is what you get when you mix together a black and white controller !


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