Friday, January 28, 2011

Home again, home again...

To market, to market
To buy a fat pig,
Home again, home again,
Jiggedy jig.

Actually, we didn't buy a pig, but on our recent trip back to Europe, we bought pretty much everything else. Our shopping list was three pages long and we bought the lot, as well as plenty of things that never even made it onto the list in the first place. A lot of it was the obvious stuff - more summer clothes for Helen, more summer clothes for the children, more smart clothes for me - and more books than the average library.

The children seemed to do particularly well. As it was Christmas and as we visited both sets of grandparents, they basically had money and toys constantly thrown at them for two weeks (whenever they weren't throwing toys at each other) and as far as I'm concerned, that's all they're getting now until their birthdays. Sadly, the first of those will be with us in just a few short weeks' time so I ought to give some thought to the unenviable task of arranging a party of some sort.

Maybe later. In the meantime I'm busy enjoying playing with my own purchases - not the smart clothes, they're for emergencies only, but the electronics. The first item is a very uninspiring-looking black box which is so wonderful I want to tell the whole world about it - except for all those people who will never need such a thing in the first place, or have known about it for years already. It's called an AVT-1660 Standards Converter and what it does for me is convert the PAL signal coming out of my Wii to NTSC so my (landlord's) fabulous wall-mounted HD TV can now display all my games in glorious, unflickering colour.

And the really good thing is it works for the DVD player as well. Up till now the only way for us to watch all our UK DVDs was on a laptop displaying as a tiny square on the aforementioned TV. Not any more. Now it's as good as it ever was - though I should point out that I had to pick up the right cables for this job. For the Wii all I needed was the cable which comes with the converter.

And if all that was not enough, I also took the opportunity to add a couple of extra gadgets to my collection of Apple toys. I didn't actually need them, but those shops are just so damned inviting and Helen was off buying clothes so there was no one to hold me back. Now I'm able to download films onto my computer, use my iPod touch as a remote control and stream them to my Apple TV box and watch them on my (landlord's) fabulous wall-mounted HD TV. Or watch YouTube on the TV, which is kind of unnecessary but believe me, "Charlie bit my finger - again" has never looked so good.

The rest of our bags were filled with an odd assortment of bits and pieces that are just much easier or substantially cheaper to pick up in England than in Brazil. Calpol, Stabilo pens, Lego, school uniforms, flippers and snorkels. And as bringing any sort of food or drink into the country is strictly prohibited, we definitely did not bring in any PG Tips, Maltesers, Cadbury's Cream Eggs or Marmite!

 So here we are, back home with all our new pressies and ready to get back on with our lives. Helen went back to work on Monday, the kids started school on Wednesday and I've begun the slow process of sorting everything out, tidying up, restocking the kitchen and (finally, after leaving them sitting in a corner for six months) putting up our pictures. Soon, very soon, I might even get back to doing some writing.

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