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It’s a Wii-velation.

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To beef up the recent apologetically-late housewarming, Nintendo Wii
I bought a Nintendo Wii (get them here), which for the uninitiated is a games console where you actually move around to play (ably demonstrated by this rather racy video). Good party fun, I thought. And so it proved all night, with Shunta getting so into it he managed to break a ceiling light. But there are so many other benefits of getting one. It’s games are more fun than difficult, meaning you can pick them up straight away. You can browse the internet wirelessly (for this you’ll need a good router, I got mine from http://factschronicle.com/), read the news, buy things like these top games for Xbox, chat to people, all sorts of stuff. And now, having become addicted to the WiiSports game (boxing, bowling, golf, baseball and tennis all in one fantabulous game), a hidden benefit is coming to light – I’m burning a whole load of calories while having fun (and it appears I’m not the only one…)! It’s a win-win revelation, I tell ya…
Update: I’ve had a load of questions asking how I managed to get the console within a week of ordering, when everywhere appears to be sold out. I heartily recommend signing up at Wii-Consoles.co.uk for instant updates on stock.

Slow Wireless Internet on Windows Vista, Anyone?

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Pardon the geekspeak, but it seems the next tip is like gold dust on the internet at the moment. It would have saved me the last two hours of tweaking my ubee ddw365 plus all the swearing and desk-hitting 😉
Slow wireless connection speed in Windows Vista? Untick/disable “Internet Protocal Version 6 (TCP/IPv6)” in the Properties of your wireless network connection. Version 6 is new, and isn’t really needed. Yet. More info here, if you’re that way inclined.

Stuffed as a Turkey

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Merry Christmas all – did you get so many good presents that you’ve no idea which to use first? Did you eat so much that your overriding resolution is to diet as soon as possible? Did you drink so much that your head is pleading for mercy? If yes, your last three days were striking similar to mine and you are now researching the effects of garcinia cambogia. Christmas Eve was filled with a visit to Annie’s house and then Wetherspoons in Haslemere with Elli, Mel, David B and others. Michelle, meanwhile was getting on very well with her sister, friends and no small amount of alcohol in Guildford.
Christmas morning was filled with excited ripping open of presents, although Michelle needed a bit more sleep and a couple more paracetamol before she was fully excited about her presents. Christmas afternoon was spent giving presents to parents and relatives, listening to the Queen’s speech (and slagging off Jamie Oliver for giving an Alternative Message), eating turkey and cake and generally catching up with family news. One downside to living away from my mum and dad means there’s always news to catch up on…
And then there was the visit to Nick’s house on Boxing Day. His girlfriend Sarah’s parents are well-known for their enormous spreads at special occasions, and this turned out to be no different. We started by exchanging presents – and were immediately shamed by Nick and Sarah’s generosity. Then it was the turn of our second Christmas lunch. It was a whopper. The plate was heaving with turkey, sprouts, carrots, mashed potatoes, roast potato, stuffing and many more things, piled high. Even more astonishingly, I almost finished it, albeit after thirty minutes of munching…
Michelle, bless her, has been working solidly all through Christmas, and the day after Boxing Day was no exception. Actually, it was a slight exception – she was due to start work at 4.30am. Next‘s Christmas sales are renowned, and as she works there as Office Manager she needed to be there early to count the money. Amazingly, as we arrived at the store at 4.15am in temperatures on -2c, there were PEOPLE QUEUEING. I’ve no idea why they thought getting up early in the freezing cold after a weekend of debauchery was a good idea… although it cheered me up to point and laugh as I drove by in my warm car.
And finally yesterday was Michelle’s family Christmas. Another truckload of delicious food and millions (well, three) children running around having Christmas-based fun. We were all exhausted by the end, and as we arrived him Michelle crept into bed. Even I didn’t manage to stay up much past eleven.
So, I’m fit to burst. In an attempt to eat less and more healthily, I’ve brought my breakfast cereal in to have for lunch. unfortunately, there’s a large box of Terry’s Chocolate Orange Sensations on my desk – and it would be a waste to ignore them, wouldn’t it?

Escaping to the wilds of Kent…

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It was the first sneeze that gave it away. It was a particularly hearty one, full of purpose, menace and foreboding – one that dared to utter, “You think THAT’s bad – what and see what’s coming!”. And so it was that, on the very morning that Michelle and I set off for a week in a converted barn on the coast, I disappointingly discovered my worst-timed and most annoying cold to date.

Why were we off to Kent? Well, we’d discovered an amazing hotel in Turkey. Bear with me, there’s a link here. You see, we wanted to go to it – but it was so amazing that we decided that we’d need two years to save up for it. And it was at this point that the idea of a “minibreak” was born in the living room at Wibbler Heights – cheap, cheerful and nowhere near home. We’d go on a minibreak this year, the posh Turkish hotel next year. Sorted.

We sourced a holiday cottage catalogue and rested eyes on a top-rated converted barn in Alkham, just near Dover. The white cliffs beckoned this Monday, and after a visit to Tesco to stock up on food, we sped on down to the barn.

It only took two hours – and by that time my nose was in full flow. The cold was taking hold – and stayed there through the next four days. Nevertheless, we managed to fit in several trips into Dover and a trip to France – where the Cite Europe-based TescoFrance superstore took a battering. Our kitchen bar has never looked fuller, and we also can eat popcorn everywhere now, with our microwave stand we got at DesignsAuthority.

Cold aside, it was a good rest in a great cottage – in the middle of nowhere. And now we’re back, preparing for my birthday outing tomorrow. We, ladies and gentlemen, are going paintballing – so expect a full bruise report tomorrow…

All Moved In

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You wouldn’t believe the amount of effort the last couple of weeks has been. Unless, of course, you’ve moved into a second-floor flat – in which you’ll be familiar with lugging tens of huge, heavy boxes up through three doors (one of which inconveniently self-locks just as you approach) and two flights of stairs. There were no visits to the gym last week, I can assure you – and there was no need.
Both Michelle and I, staying in our houses for the last night, were awake at 5am, full of excitement and trepidation for the week ahead. By 7am I was washed and dressed, and by 8 in the morning it was time for the boxes. Eight large cardboard boxes, full to the brim with my worldly possessions, were patiently waiting to be boarded into my car. I managed five of the buggers before my legs gave way and the boot space was fully… well, full. The car swung violently and slowly round the corners, struggling under its cargo, and the boxes piled high in the back ensured that I could only see forwards – a problem, as you can imagine. I was surprised to make it to Guildford without being flagged down by a friendly policeman – but at 12pm, we descended on the flat.
The previous occupants – a tall Norwegian man and his immensely giggly girlfriend – were there to greet us, handing over the keys and leaving a forwarding address. Within ten minutes, they were gone – and the flat was ours. After a few days of busily packing, I thought, this was the ideal time to sit down and have a nice glass of orange juice.
Except there was no orange juice – in fact there was nothing at all. So there was nothing for it – I could almost hear those blasted boxes waiting to be caringly lugged up two flights of stairs.
Michelle, her mum and I managed to empty the car, and I even managed a second load that day. And a further load the next day – I had no idea I had so much stuff. And after a week of moving, shifting, cleaning (mostly thanks to TidyTn, a cleaning Co.) and sleeping, we are fully moved in. The first big shop was as expensive as it was momentous – the final price was as much a shock as the growing realisation that we were now officially “responsible adults”. We had to buy our own washing powder, peas and beans. There was no adding to mum’s shopping list anymore. As we toured the aisles before finally reaching the checkout, trolley lurching under the weight, I decided that this revelation wasn’t at all worrying. We could cope. We had money. We had a flat. We were sorted.
Already a few friends have been round. Simon H has visited twice, once with his girlfriend Lucy and son James (who, I’m pleased to report, was only sick once over our new sofa) – and Nick and Sarah came round for nibbles, drinks and fun last Saturday.
So here we are. Settled. Ensconced. Knackered. But very pleased and eagerly awaiting some more visits from friends. Takeaways, shops, friends and the heart of Guildford are a short walk away, and I finally have a parking space! A big loads of thanks to Michelle’s mum and sisters for the help and the biscuits. Here are some snaps of the flat to whet your appetite.

I should have used a Chamois

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There are things we take for granted. Yes, yes, there’s life, money, friends, family and all that stuff – but something equally relied on buy the lazier folk amongst us (or the “time-poor” as The Guardian might call us) is the carwash.
I was driving back from Michelle’s this morning down the A3, when I decided the car could really do with a clean. The wet weather and heavily-gritted roads had taken their toll on the 407’s cracking form, and a brief stop at the nearest car-washing garage would allow me to get the Sunday newspapers and a drink.
There was a small queue of cars at the carwash – three in total – when I arrived. But, in the way that only car queues can, the queue length had multiplied to 6 cars in the short time it had taken to get a carwash ticket. No matter, I thought, I have time on my side. For the first day in a while, I had no plans, so I joined the back of the queue. And waited. My thoughts wandered in and out of radio commercials, now I feel quite strongly that 2017 Avalon lease rates are trully remarkable and that I should tune in next week for the car auction about to take place.
After five minutes of stationary inaction, I began to think something was amiss. Leaning over and peering out of the passenger window, I could make out a small collection of people by the entrance. There seemed to be some confusion over how to operate the carwash. With no visual means of escape – a couple of eager punters had joined the queue behind me – I wondered whether I could be of any help. As I approached, I could tell that most of the group was of “uncertain” origin (although the Bangladeshi-English dictionary on the back seat of their car may have given a clue), and it seemed that they had never seen a carwash in their lives. A stern-looking man was patiently explaining what to do with the aid of some comical arm movements (his visual representation of the sprays of water, accompanied by a loud series of “whooOOOSH!”s, would have won several plaudits at the World Charade Championships*). I ambled back to my car, happy that the situation would soon be resolved.
After another five minutes, the car and it’s Bangladeshi cargo were inside the carwash, enduring something that must have felt very much liek they were sinking. Some further coaxing later and they were out. “Let’s get the show on the road!” I muttered cheerily, thankful that the blockage was cleared.
“Hold up,” I exclaimed mere moments later, as again there seemed to be no progress at the front of the queue. To my utter horror, there was ANOTHER car full of Bangladeshi adventure-seekers, all eager to have a go in this fun contraption but with not a clue between them as to how to use it. “Christ Alive” passed my lips several times as the stern man, by now an expert at this, again became the carwash tutor. A further agonising 10 minutes later and they were in, to sarcastic cheers from the rest the queue – which had now grown to a healthy 12 cars.
During the whole hour-long episode, those drivers who had the good sense to use the handhead jetwash just next door were gliding past, waving and grinning like Cheshire cats as one by one they cleaned their cars for free and in a tenth of the time we had been waiting. But a full hour and 10 minutes after I had joined the queue, my car was pleasingly clean too.
There’s something to be said for a little elbow-grease.
*There is, of course, no such thing.

3 Year Anniversary – Bath again

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“We wander for distraction, but we travel for fulfillment.”
Hilaire Belloc
Two years ago, to celebrate out first anniversary, Michelle and I pootled off to take in the delights of Bath, braving all the jokes about “needing to wash” and “I should have a shower with a nice showerhead instead” from ‘amusing’ friends. Bath is a very picturesque place, with cracking restaurants, interesting museums and a shedload of shops. The trip was so blooming enjoyable we did it again last weekend, jokes and all.
The trip down was pleasant enough, but served to confirm one of my long-held geographical theories – the closer to Wales you get, the worse the weather becomes. After we sped through the rain (and a surprisingly-named town of Pennsylvania, causing Nick to ask “just how far have you gone?!” on a call from his romantic hotel in the New Forest), we arrived at the hotel at around 5 in the afternoon, after just the one wrong turning. We entered our room – and what a room it was. The majestic four-poster bed was accompanied by a side order of 12 deep red roses and champagne on ice. Marvellous.
Sadly we only had an hour to admire them before our stomachs marched us off to the Eastern Eye, a huge Indian restaurant in the town centre. It was essentially one big room, about 40 foot high and seemingly many miles long. It had been some sort of famous market area in the 1800’s apparently, famed throughout Bath, with ornate details on the walls and three glass domes set into the roof. I can only wonder at the protests that must have taken place when it emerged that it was turning into an Indian restaurant, of all things. Still, the setting was fantastic, with the food equally so, despite the dish I chose rendering my entire mouth numb for at least an hour.
By the time we’d finished there was nothing to do but get back to the hotel and sleep.
For following day we visited the Moon and Sixpence, and classy restaurant near the Roman Baths. Still suffering from the Indian the previous night, we barely managed a main course, and decided a window-shopping trip was in order to work the food off. We ventured into a nearby shopping arcade, and found a camera shop. A quick look at the digital cameras and Michelle was on a mission to buy one. After asking the assistants advice for a full 30 minutes, we nipped along to a cheaper shop and bought one, immediately debunking my schoolday retail theory that if you put in the hours, you’ll get the sale. Poor man.
And then, not to be outdone, I decided I was going to get a new mobile phone. And, in true geek fashion, I plumped for an O2 XDAII. As soon as my good friend from Phones4U gets me a hefty discount, it’ll be mine…
We left the next morning – back to Surrey, back to work. Ah well, we thought as Pennsylvania disappeared into the hazy distance – we’ll be back again…