Monday, 30 November 2015

Christmas Adverts

Christmas is upon us, for the Christmas adverts are out.

Yes, John Lewis has released a new advert (this time featuring an older gentleman on the moon, who receives a telescope so he can see everyone else having a great time without him), which Aldi has very funnily spoofed, Sainbury's has made a lovely one with a cat that destroys the kitchen, and the Cadbury's one is strangely awesome too.

But there's one advert that holds a special place in my mind.

And that's the Coca Cola truck.

Coca Cola happily ignore the rest of the market, who run around recording a bigger and better advert every year.  All I can think is that the Christmas advert is the last item on the marketing teams agenda and they never get round to it.  The meeting must go something like this...

Meeting Chairperson: Okay, onto Item 8...
Marketing Head: Can we rush this along?  I've got a teleconference in ten minutes.
Senior Marketer: Yes, I really need to go and work up some projections for our next campaign.
Meeting Chairperson: Um, okay, well Item 8 is the Christmas advert...
Marketing Head: Is that the time? Look I'm sorry guys, I've got to go.  Just run the Christmas truck advert again, it's fine.
[Everyone files out murmuring agreement, leaving the chairperson with their head in their hands]

Whatever the reason, we all know the Coca Cola one, the one where Santa (on the back of a Coca Cola lorry) raises a coke bottle to a small boy - a friend of mine was complaining about seeing it the other day because it wasn't December yet, and I knew immediately which advert he was referring to.  Maybe Coca Cola has got it right, reuse (with the odd refresh) the advert year after year and we'll remember it.

Anyone for a Pepsi?

Saturday, 28 November 2015

A Shameless Plug For My Card Store


I've been working on some "honest" greetings cards over the last few months, and while they're still only really at prototype stage, I thought with the Christmas holidays coming soon (plus I'm rebelling against Electronic Greeting Card Day - November 29th) that it might be worth mentioning them.

What I mean by honest greetings cards is that I normally find greetings cards to be a bit over the top.  They inevitably have paragraphs of text about how wonderful the person in question is, and how you wish the very best for them.  Now, this is all fine for, say, your family, other half, or close friends, in many cases you end up getting cards for people that perhaps you're not quite so bothered about, that perhaps the wording inside the card should be along the lines of...

"Happy Birthday - I don't have anything against you having a good day, but on the whole my life will probably be unaffected even if you have a bit of a rubbish one."

Well, there's now a series of cards you can purchase for just those people (or perhaps for closer friends that you think will get the joke!).  Check out the store at and I'd love to know what you think, good, bad, indifferent comments are all welcome.  I should say that one or two cards are caught by the content filter, so if you want to see all of them turn the content filter off.

Monday, 23 November 2015

Food Thermos = Nose Warmer

This is a food thermos.  My wife got it because it keeps large quantities of food warm (like soup - I'm sure it'd keep a pie warm but getting it out might be a little tricky), but I've discovered that it's also great for a coffee on a cold night, because you can fit your nose inside it to keep warm.

Also, because it's so huge, you can fill it up with coffee at the start of the evening (maybe a liqueur one - have to consult the liqueur coffee decision tree) and it'll keep you going until bedtime.  At which point you can't sleep because you've chugged a pint and a half of coffee.

By the way, I made a video about queue jumping.  Is it always wrong?  Watch and decide.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Is healthy food as accessible as unhealthy food?

Yesterday I went to Food Matters Live 2015, a huge conference at the Excel centre in London about food, health, and nutrition.

Now, I have to say that it was absolutely fantastic, even for someone like me who doesn't work in the food industry, and certainly can't be classed as a health fanatic of any sort, it was really interesting to discover loads of new products, but also I really enjoyed sitting in on the very first panel discussion, which was discussing the obesity crisis in the UK and how to tackle it.

In the discussion there was a lot of talk about education, and especially for children, to educate them in healthy choices, and I do think that it is an important point, but one thing that I didn't hear about was the accessibility of healthy foods.

Taking myself as an example, I am lazy when I can get away with being lazy.  I make no excuses for this, I consider it a sign of efficiency if I can get something done quick and with less effort.  Now, every day when I walk in the front door at home after being at work, there will be at least one, if not more than one, takeaway menus on the floor.  These are invariably for pizzas, kebabs, fish & chips, or occasionally something like a Chinese or Italian (which I accept will have some healthier choices).  But while there may be healthier choices on the menu (and certainly on the normal pizza menu there isn't), these aren't really highlighted in any way - no calorie listings, no fat content shown, just pictures of lovely fried meat and cheese on top of bread.  There's nothing like the traffic light signs which show up on foods bought in supermarkets.

Furthermore, I have access to a number of "apps" on my phone.  Taking my laziness a step further, I can quite easily choose to sit on the sofa, and by prodding at my phone for a few seconds I can then settle down to a repeat of Friends, content in the knowledge that I have ordered and paid for a delicious yet unhealthy food to be delivered to my front door (which is just a few steps away).  Again, certainly on the app that I normally use, there isn't any nutritional value information available (or if there is I've missed it).  And the places that typically would offer healthier food, like delicatessens or health food shops, aren't on the apps.  You can't order a healthy yet tasty meal from your local delicatessen to be delivered, but you can order a kebab and chips from any number of places.  And for me, the effort and time that goes into chopping and preparing a salad makes it a less attractive option.

Do not get me wrong - it's entirely my fault that I am not an ideal weight, I'm not blaming anyone but myself.  But what I am saying is that healthy food is not always as easily accessible as unhealthy food, at least in the food delivery sector.  I don't have an answer for this either, I'm merely highlighting an issue.

Now, I'm going to go and work my way through the samples I got at the conference (video coming soon) - yum!

Friday, 13 November 2015

Top 5 preparations to survive Friday the 13th

Picture courtesy of KlausHausmann via on a CC0 Public Domain license.

It's Friday the 13th, which we all understand to be a dangerously unlucky day. (I'm hoping it's not, I'm hoping that it'll be very lucky as the EuroMillions jackpot stands at something like £91 million, which would buy a few beers)

According to Wikipedia (yes, I do my research) something like 20 million Americans stay at home on Friday the 13th, rather than risk go out and have something happen to them.  Statistically there is actually some evidence that Friday the 13th tends to be a safer day, because people are more careful generally, and many stay at home.

Nevertheless, today's the day and you may need to try to survive it.  What should you do?

5) Bring an axe.

Of course, you need an axe.  Anyone who has watched a zombie thriller knows that should a zombie apocalypse take place (and there's just as much chance of it occurring on Friday the 13th as any other day) an axe with a long handle is essential for taking out zombies before they nip you.

4) Team up.

And you'll need someone to buddy up with, someone that can watch your back, especially if you need to do something particularly dangerous like walk under a ladder or fill your car up with petrol.  I recommend someone with useful skills, for example a paramedic or fireman, or at the very least someone who can't move as fast as you so in the situation where you're attacked by a bear, you can outrun them and they get eaten first.

3) Find a good hiding location.

You don't know what is going to happen to you today, but it's wise to try to avoid danger.  The bed is a good place to start - it's comfy, suitable for sleeping in (to regain nervous energy), and you can hide under it in case of an earthquake.

But all these preparations take a lot of effort.  What next?

2) Order takeaway.

That's right, you need food. Good nutrition to keep you going.  Don't go into the kitchen - people get burned, sliced open, slip over, and all kinds of nastiness in the kitchen.  Did you know that one of the worst sources of bacteria is your friendly looking kitchen cloth?

Get your phone out, fire up Just Eat (other apps are available) and order yourself a pizza.

And finally...

1) Get a Hot Water Bottle

That's right, a good old fashioned hot water bottle.  It keeps you warm and toasty, provides a liquid to drink in an emergency, and of course should you be set upon by a zombie, you can stuff it in its mouth and while its confused by the rubbery goodness you can make a run for it.

I hope this advice has been valuable, but remember - don't have nightmares.

What would be your course of action to survive a Friday 13th?  Drop me a comment!

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Kneeling for the Privy Council is news, apparently

So today, whilst catching a bit of an update on what is happening around the world on the news websites, I spotted this headline.

"Jeremy Corbyn: will he or won't he kneel for Queen?"

Foolishly clicking on the link I became aware that this, apparently, required such a lengthy discussion that it was 13 pages long (however long a "page" is when we're talking about an electronic document and not a piece of paper).

In a large nutshell, Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the Opposition to Her Majestys' Government, was sworn in to the Queens Privy Council today, and as part of the normal ceremony includes kneeling before the Queen.  Mr Corbyn is a republican and as a result I assume doesn't really feel like kneeling before royalty.  But it's important for him to become a member of the Privy Council because it means that he gets things like security briefings which I imagine he ought to get.

Spoiler - he didn't kneel, but it obviously can't have mattered much in the end because he still became a member of the Privy Council without being beheaded or killed or anything.

I don't talk about politics and so I'm not going to give my opinion on whether he should or shouldn't kneel - I don't really think it's up to me, it's a matter really for Mr Corbyn.

I just think that news coverage of Kneelgate is a little over the top really - does it matter that much if he kneels or not?  He obviously hasn't blown up the Privy Council or attempted to assassinate the Queen yet.

Instead, here's a picture of a green pint of beer.

It hasn't even got a good head on it.  Now THAT is something to get angry over.


Monday, 9 November 2015

Downton Abbey The Finale (nearly) - WARNING SPOILERS...

Last night the grand finale of Downton Abbey (except for the Christmas special) came and went.  I've been a long-time fan of Downton Abbey from series one, and it's a shame that it has to come - nearly - to an end.  My Sunday evening Downton with a coffee and snacks is always a delight, and to think of it being no more is slightly saddening.

I must admit that this last episode - and the one before - left me a little ambivalent, as although I enjoyed them, they both left a little in the way of storylines to be closed (which of course they need to be left open to give something to resolve in the Christmas special!).  Nevertheless, it was still very good.

I do recommend, for those wanting a little bit more Downton to check out Downton Wars on YouTube (by Rob James-Collier aka Thomas Barrow or the "Evil Butler") and if you like do consider making a contribution to Chilterns MS Centre.

Needless to say (although I will say it) if Lady Edith does not find happiness in the Christmas special I shall track down Julian Fellowes and frown at him disapprovingly.

Like this...

And this...

And this...

And perhaps most scarily...

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

The New Menace, Well, Not Really New, The Next Menace

Well, not really a menace. More of an inconvenience, but that doesn't really sound very menacing, thus, the title. I have been studying history quite a bit lately. A pod cast about history will get you through a punishing bout of self abuse at the gym as well as anything.

It has always amazed me the amount of invaders Great Britain has suffered through, and eventually repulsed. It is an island nation, after all. But time and time again, people would get on their boats cruise across miles of water and try to take over. Eventually the indomitable British spirit would erode their ability and desire to stay.

I have decided it has been to long, so I am establishing a beach head right here in the Blog Of Thog. From here I plan to branch out a bit, maybe Wales, or Northumberton. From there it will be the Isle of Wight, Scotland, and eventually London.

As is obvious this is a very hectic invasion, and the time table is tight, but I do have time for a few questions. Any questions? Ok, that's good. We have to run, lot's of things to capture, and occupy. By the way where can I find some French fries?

Does anybody have a train schedule? We forgot to bring our cars.

Thanks, we will stop by your neighborhood soon, please have some pints ready, this is likely to be very thirsty work.
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