Tuesday, April 4

Easter and other pointless distractions

Theresa May has condemned the National Trust for allegedly airbrushing Christianity out of its Chocolate egg hunt.

Only they haven’t. Their website features the word Easter 14 times.

But here's a few things she's not outraged enough about to condemn.
  1. Donald Trump's travel ban
  2. The labelling of judges as "enemies of the people"
  3. Talk of war with Gibraltar
  4. Saudi Arabian war crimes in Yemen using British munitions
  5. Baseless scaremongering by one of her ministers that membership of the EU makes us vulnerable to terrorism attacks

Friday, March 31

Tabard

I think of this and smile whenever anyone gives me an elaborate, overly long answer.

Thursday, March 30

Space Girl

I was away from home last night for work, so I was excited to see Anne as I arrived home tonight.

But instead of her usual happy greeting, I got this.

"Hey, I'm watching the Space-X launch. Dinner will be ready after the launch."

Wednesday, March 29

Brexit Triggered

Hear that workers of Sunderland? Residents of Stoke? Brexit voters of all corners?

Laughter and clinking glasses.......

The politicians who have slashed your disability help, slashed your tax credits, gutted your NHS, cut your elderly care, libraries, and underfunded your councils celebrating Brexit.

But not for the reasons you were told to vote for it.

Because the EU protections and workers rights legislation, the court protections, the ability for ordinary working Brits to better themselves working abroad, will never return.

And they have total control... to make sure you can't afford legal aid, work your socks off on zero hours contracts, can't just travel where you want.

And the real celebration? You aren't blaming them, instead you are blaming the patsies they set up.

Migrants that often keep the country working.

17.4 million voted to leave. In a country of 63 million.

Still, looks like the NHS is improving already doesn't it?


Thursday, March 23

A note about Facebook frames

So a lone idiot drove a car killing 3 people, and then stabbed a policeman to death.

Horrible isn't it.

But I notice a common theme among my British Facebook friends who have added the Union Jack frame to their profile page. 

None of them live in London.

Congratulations on inserting yourself into a tragedy that didn't actually impact you.

I wonder what social media would have been like in the 70s and 80s when Britain had religious terrorist deaths every week from BOTH sides of the Irish nationalist troubles?

Meanwhile Trump Jr attacked Sadiq Khan for a sensible statement he made last year on Twitter. 

This reminded me of the stupid right-wing twat who stayed at my house last year and his assumption based on watching Fox News that London is run under some type of sharia law.

He even asserted that the outburst over a body-shaming ad being pulled from the Tube was because the muslim mayor demanded it. When I pointed out it was because of stupid gender rules, he said, "Why is everyone fat in London?"

What's my point? 

Make sure right wing idiots and newspapers don't shape the narrative. And don't confuse national spirit with nationalism.

Friday, March 17

Storage

Time to pack up and get our stuff into storage.

Top shelf shown here. Bottom shelf? We stole an office chair! I figure they have 2 desks from me over time so we traded it for the chair.



Thursday, March 16

Too Soon?

Our attention has already turned to our 2018 CA return.

Blighted by the inefficiencies of the leasing agent we've decided to give the city another go.

We've booked a house in Glen Park close to where Anne first lived in SF back in the day.

It's a hilly area (of course), and I'm randomly choosing to show a picture of the kitchen.


Hopefully by next year we will have more faith in the economy after one year of living under the beautiful slice of humanity we have for a President, in which case we need to start thinking of buying a place.

Or we'll have experienced armageddon. In which case we will have lost our deposit.

Wednesday, March 15

One more turtle photo

This arrangement caught my eye this afternoon.

Like a Euro-Pop trio ... only slower.

Tuesday, March 14

King of the Kids (not photographed)

We've enjoyed getting to know the family next door. 

Their 4 kids aged from 2-9 are well behaved, speak about 5 languages and always say hello.

We had pizza night with them tonight. Pizza and wine actually, but the wine was just for grown-ups.

Tons of fun playing silly games and by the end of the night I was a hug magnet.

I return to my normal persona tomorrow.

I was in a bunch of photos but evidently someone else took them!

Monday, March 13

Seriously!?

We try to offset our wasteful Keurig K-Cup addiction by only using San Francisco Bay or Gorilla Coffee K-Cups that use a perforated paper cup rather than plastic.

Throw in a our composting efforts and nearly all of the k-cup is recyclable.

So we were excited to see to this brand in the supermarket from Boyd's Coffee.

When the claims are bigger than the branding you get the impression they're pretty committed to environmental causes.

So their pods are 100% compostable. The ring and top of the K-Cup are made from a product that breaks down naturally.

But. Inside the carton the pods come in a laminated plastic pouch with a second plastic seal enclosure. Congrats you just offset all of your environmental goodness with a casing that will take a 1,000 years to decompose.

Also, although the outer carton is made from 100% recycled stock, it's varnished with a waterproof lacquer that makes it unsuitable for recycling.

Sunday, March 12

ad infinitum


I feel like a scratched record, but today we drove down a stretch of Rt1 from Tamales to Stinson Beach and it was beautiful all the way.

Ocean-side oyster shacks, road-side cows, pine and eucalyptus smell to die for, eagles swooping, herons fishing, and virtually people free. We even saw a bunch of seals on a sandbar in the Bolinas Lagoon.

Third time lucky - and we finally got to eat Mexican food in one of our local haunts in Mill Valley. 

We went after our Stinson Beach visit on Thursday only to discover that just their block was out of electricity after a random fire. Saturday after the St. Pat's parade the place was full, but finally today we got some post coastal drive burritos!

Saturday, March 11

Saturday, Bloody Saturday

A first for both of us today. We took part in a parade!


Anne's old SF room-mate Kathleen invited us to drink, wave a flag and generally have a good time while her husband and his band banged out some groovy 60s tunes, on their Fleadh Cheoil themed float for San Francisco's St. Patrick's Day Parade.

I took this photo because it's not everyday you see an Asian brass band. 

Once they started marching Anne and I were worried for the kid at the back with a giant glockenspiel attached to his tiny 80lb torso. I'll be shocked if that kids doesn't end up with back issues.

It was only afterwards as I flicked thru photos that I noticed the unfortunate name of the store. 

Seriously, if I was named Adolph Gasser I would change my name. (and kick my parents!)


Obviously as a Protestant Englishman I'm keenly aware of the significance of being among a bunch of Irish, but hell if the Asian Brass Band are here I figured I'd just keep my mouth shut.

That was until the Sinn Fein fire truck rolled by. Holy shit, it's the political wing off the IRA - who tried to blow up my local book shop in the 80s!


The ride on the float was awesome, with thousands of people lining the street, singing, dancing and having a good time.

And the float looked great.






Apologies to Kath's husband Miles, who is playing harmonica, just out of shot in this video!



Friday, March 10

Phyllis Ellman Trail

Another annual tradition checked off. 

This trail close to home is a steep climb that provides views of the Larkspur and Richmond Bay on one side, and Tiburon, Sausalito and SF on the other.

It's a weird trail because you can hear the sound of the local school at the bottom of the valley, but if you turn an ankle over, you're kind of buggered, because there is no cell service and it's a long way down.

Muddy stretches meant I got to watch Anne hopping like a gamboling lamb!

Thursday, March 9

Stinson Beach

In previous years we've made numerous trips to Stinson Beach, but this year because of the rainy weather, and it's aftermath (parts of the road to the beach are cut off) we had yet to go.

Rectified!

It's a gorgeous walk from end to end (I'd guess about 4 miles). And because it's an after-work trip we always get to see a sunset.

The beach has hundreds of long-beaked birds that run from the approaching waves then chase the water as it regresses, hoping to catch tiny seabugs as they wash ashore.

Wednesday, March 8

Eureka!

We picked out another walk from the Staircases of San Francisco book this afternoon.

Eureka Valley is tucked in between Twin Peaks and Castro and features the usual mix of stupendous hills, ornate staircases and outstanding views.

It also featured some excellent car notes. In a city of tight squeeze parking it’s always nice to see commentary.

We started on the corner of Elizabeth and Douglass - and you’re faced with a seemingly never ending staircase back up to Market Street.


Along the way we saw this classic parking job, only the driver must have to do this each day, such was their impossible road to driveway dip.


Side note, in the UK, roads with a significant dip often display a warning sign with the word DIP inside the red triangle. I also had a client whose first name was Dip, so every time I saw the sign I felt a sense of foreboding that my client was about to complain.

Dip Chotai was of Indian descent, but I spent my first 6 months at the company believing his name was Dick Showtime, which is my circus name.


Back to the walk. It yielded this wonderful view, looking back towards downtown.


Plans for charity songs shelved

Just like back in 84/85 we had our own water crisis today.

For around 15 minutes we had no water.

A normal morning was interrupted by Anne announcing she had turned on the tap and nothing had come out.

Obviously, I tried, because perhaps the faucet was gender biased, but no.

Shoes on, head for the leasing office, but there at the end of our little horseshoe of homes was the nice man from the Water Company twisting a long handled device turning off multiple water valves.

If the leasing agents were medieval kings we were lucky in that we got Paul The Good One, who picked up the phone immediately.

I chatted with the water mains guy who couldn’t have been nicer, and he explained the obvious situation that they had received no payment.

Decided to head to the Water Company offices to pay the bill and on my way to the car the water guy’s phone rang.

“Hold on”, he said to me (more Wilson Phillips than En Vogue), I might be turning it back on.

Sure enough, 15 seconds later we had water, which is where our story diverges from mid-80's Ethiopia and Sudan. I still like to think we are the world.

Tuesday, March 7

A lease if you please

So near yet so far!

With only 10 days of our trip to the West Coast left we finally received a lease today.

Pah!

Sunday, March 5

Just driving around

Without much of an agenda we headed back into the City today.

I think we're going to live down here next year.

Started the afternoon off with lunch in the Mission at Papalote - voted best burrito of San Francisco no less.

Next we headed towards Twin Peaks. It's lovely driving through Castro & Eureka Valley up an down crazy hills.

Obvs - the view is great from up here.

Decided to head back towards the City. And an opportunity to visit SFMOMA ... gift shop.

There I picked up one of these spiffy books that become lights.


Saturday, March 4

Pastries, Kittens, Wine & the horror of the Holocaust

We had a great day today. 


Starting with breakfast at The Mill, where they have a toast bar. What's not to love about that?

Then headed for KitTea Café (although not before we saw a man urinating in the middle of the street!).

KitTea Café was 1 hour of unadulterated kitten fun. The mew-balls were in full on play mode.



After a quick change of clothes (to stop allergically clacking, scratching and rubbing) we headed north to Sonoma wine country.

First stop was Coppola Winery, but a 2 hour wait for lunch switched our attention to Healdsburg. Boy was this place packed, mostly with drunken wine-drinkers stumbling around the town square with empty wine glass in hand.


We ate at the SHED. Real nice. Anne had the octopus I had chicken hash.

Afterwards we bought some chocolate flavored marshmallow, which reminded me of home alone Saturday nights as a kid mixing cocoa and sugar to get a sweet-tooth fix.

We drove the long way home through Russian River, down the ragged coast through Bodega Bay, and back through farmland (sheep, deer, goats and cows galore!).

To balance the happy go lucky day we watched Sophie’s Choice. Streep’s a tour-de-force!

Friday, March 3

Hmm. JC?


Joe Cuba - the Father of Latin Boogaloo
Jacques Cousteau - French Undersea Explorer
Johnny Cash - The Man in Black
Joan Crawford - Mommie Dearest
Julia Child - Master of the Art of French Cooking
Johnnie Cochran - Glove Expert
José Carreras - 1/3 of 3 Tenors
John Candy - Polka King of the Midwest
Juliet Capulet - Fake Poison Drinker
John Cheever - Bisexual Cabin Lover
John Cage - Shh! 4’33”
Jiminy Cricket - Pinocchio Insect

Thursday, March 2

Life in the Fast Lane

As I search through photos on my phone I realize that I take a photo most days of the turtles in the pond down in the Marin Mart.

Today's photo was worthy of a post. We're unsure if a 'turtle wrangler' comes out early each morning and positions them, or if they slowly get into this position themselves as the sun comes out. 

They're definitely sun worshippers, their little heads are always pointed towards the sun.

Wednesday, March 1

More Filbert Steps

At around the halfway point on the ascent we came across this scene.

The parrots are flapping and squawking like crazy while this cat observes and waits … for just one simple mistake from an overly-chaotic parrot.

Tuesday, February 28

An Ascent up The Filbert Steps

I recommended this walk to my friend Adrian who is visiting San Francisco in the summer.

I think it's my favorite walk in the City. 


To view it on the map it looks like a couple of blocks from Sansome to Coit Tower.

Of course you have a 30° steep climb on wooden steps through beautifully kept homes and gardens.

As you climb you get wonderful views of the Bay and Bay Bridge.

A bonus at this time of year, the parrots (featured in The Parrots of Telegraph Hill) are home and squawking like crazy.

The cruise ship you see in this photo left shortly afterwards, and as we drove home it was exiting the Bay under the Golden Gate Bridge.


In reality it's only a short, but lung-busting walk, so instead of descending on the Greenwich Steps the next block over, we headed down the other side of the hill into North Beach.

We ended up at a small park in Russian Hill where the fittest teenagers you ever saw were running laps up and around the park. We smiled at them as we walked. 

Monday, February 27

Ain't Nothing Goin' On But The Rent

We've formed a bit of a close knit community with fellow lease-less tenants in our courtyard of homes.

We update each other with basically the same info - that we don't have a lease yet, or our cable was cut off, or the main leasing office said this or that.

Today 4 homes including ours found this hanging from the front door.

We walked over, calmly, to the leasing office, and were met by Paul (the best of the 4 in that office), who said, as he held his hand over the mouthpiece of the phone, that he was, "dealing with it".

So that's sorted then! Maybe we'll stockpile bottled water just in case.


Saturday, February 25

Mission Omissions

Can I get a Hallelujah? Boots, the man from Comcast arrived at 7.40am to give us back our internet and cable. Glory be!

After connecting our 11 devices (well there's only 2 of us here), we decided to celebrate by driving down into the Mission to eat over-priced bakery.

I'd read an interview in this month's Lonely Planet magazine. The owner of Craftsman and Wolves gave his favorite places to visit in San Francisco. And amazingly 80% of them were on one block of Valencia in the Mission.

We had coffee and snacks at CAW. I went for the Valrhona-chocolate chocolate (no idea why there are 2 chocolates in there) croissant with churro sugar. Anne chose banana bread with sprinkles of desiccated coconut.


We sat next to a guy who had their signature 'Rebel Within'. As owner William Werner says, "it's a study in complex simplicity". Yeah, read that again. Complex simplicity.

It looks like a muffin but it's made from sausage, asiago and green onion dough, with a soft-boiled egg nestled inside.

The guy next to us said, "It's alright but not worth $8". Thank you Jay Rayner.

After a short excursion to the small-batch chocolate shop next door (bean-to-bar is their phrase of choice), we headed up Mission and found a proper local bookstore. 

Books purchased we wandered back to the car, via a few more stores, and drove the short distance to Anne's old neighborhood. In the 90s it wasn't as nice, but now this cozy 'hood on Divisadero is full of beautiful people, yoga studios and small-plate restaurants.


We went large plate instead and enjoyed lunch at 4505 BBQ.

With full bellies we drove home, but not before we stopped at everyone's favorite liquor store, BevMo!

I'm more likely to frequent a store with an exclamation point included!

Referring back to the CAW interview, William had said his go-to tipple was Fernet.

It's not the easiest thing to like. I mixed it with Coke, Anne chose Orange. I also hear Ginger Ale works.

But bitter Italian drinks are definitely our thing at the moment.

Going to see if this stuff works in a Spritz by substituting the Aperol.

Those 11 devices? 2 phones, 2 iPads, 3 laptops, 1 desktop, 2 Apple TVs, and an Amazon Fire.


Friday, February 24

Jazz Hands


Friday night is Jazz Night at the Marin Mart! Look how clear Mt Tam is in the background too.

A clear, and NOT cold night - perfect for some outdoor jazz noodling and adult beverages after a stressful second day of no proper internet.

But yes, insert gasps here, it was too cold for the jazzy musicians to play outside.

I should explain Diesel isn't the clothing store. 

It's the local bookstore who by some miracle of shittiness manage to be that rare independent bookstore that you hate more than a multi-national. 

It might be the cardigan-clad owner with his painfully obsequious comments and recommendations. 

It may the locals with their expensive and fashionable canine accessories, or maybe I never find anything I like in there.

But.

What you couldn't miss was the guitar and bass duet of James and John giving some funky fret workout while the locals enjoyed over-priced de-constructed tacos.

This is what was playing as I browsed the self-improvement section.


Just a small correction. It's Damon Albarn, although I'm sure he would approve.


Thursday, February 23

Basic Human Rights

Of course I'm talking about High Speed Internet.

As that famous Muddy Waters track goes, "Woke up this morning, I had no wi-fi".

Calls to Comcast unsurprisingly revealed that our sub-letting agent hadn't payed the bill.

We've been waiting 6 weeks for a new lease so my hopes of getting this resolved quickly are about level with the speed of a white Mississippi cop solving the murder of an African American child in the 1950s. Or 2017 for that matter.

I managed to get through my work day but then this evening we had the ignominy of watching a TV show on a laptop. I'm 46. Only people under 35 do this!

We had binge watched 6 of 8 episodes of Paranoid the previous 2 nights, and almost pushed through to the end Wednesday.

Good show. Watch it!

Wednesday, February 22

Windy

The sun finally came out today after a few days of rain-ageddon.

We celebrated by taking a drive downtown and a walk along Crissy Field overlooking the Bay.


These crazy kite-surfers were out doing their thing. 

One guy nearly crashed into the Sausalito Ferry.

It's a lovely walk all the way up to the Golden Gate Bridge.


It's also the place where I tried in vain a few years ago to get my (land) kite to work. 

No success despite parental help!

In other news the Coqui Frogs have returned!

Their amorous croaking fills the night-time air outside our apartment.

There's a part of Hawaii that has the same problem and they found that feeding them caffeine helps them 'go away'.

I don't know if go away is a euphemism for gases them to death or more literally would move them to the next town.

Currently we're still in 'that's cute' mode but I'll let you know if we morph into frog-killing coffee enablers.

Tuesday, February 21

What's bugging me today?

Thanks for asking. Let me tell you.

There's a stop sign at the end of our complex. It's a sign that's easy to miss, so consequently the Marin cops park there and do a great business in handing out chicken-shit moving-violation tickets.


I've no real issue with that, but walking down to get coffee this morning we saw the car in the middle of this photo stop and reverse back to the cop. There's actually another stop sign just behind the cop car, but nobody takes any notice of that because it's just to make you remember there's a hotel next door.

The guy rolled back and it was obvious he knew the cop. A lady cop no less!

We kept walking, ordered coffee, waited patiently for our fu-fu order, and started walking back.

10 minutes later the cop and the guy were still talking. With his car parked in the middle of the road.

Under any other circumstances if anybody just parked their car in the middle of the road, the cops would be all over you like a bad suit.

The car on the right is having drive around them.

To quote Frank Costanza, "It's not just rude, it's stupid!".

Monday, February 20

Pathetic. But with reason!

First day back to work was always going to be a busy one.

I skipped my usual morning coffee run, skipped a lunchtime walk (I've yet to walk at lunchtime usually because it's been raining!), worked late and skipped a visit to the gym.

So as I placed my FitBit on the bedside table tonight I realized I had broken my all-time LOW for the day.

Sunday, February 19

Oh Car Play

You are so beautiful!

I've been holding off getting a new car until the model I want has Car Play.

And yet like some mythical rainbow-colored unicorn I had never actually used Car Play.

Until now.

Damn it's a thing of beauty.