A Guide to Buying the Perfect Christmas Gift

by Down and out in Dover and district, with Len Oldfeep Sunday, December 7 2014

As the years march on Christmas shopping for your friends and family gets harder. It’s a fact. Tasked with coming up with something different for your loved ones each year you can lose sight of what the season is all about. This guide is not for those who sneer at the new band aid single or for those non-religious types who get out their soap box each year to whinge about how Christmas is just a consumer holiday and has lost all it’s true meaning, but is intended for those who can see the good in the act of giving, and enjoy watching for a second that glimmer of long forgotten childhood excitement the scrunch of wrapping paper and the snap of sellotape brings to a loved ones face.

Buying a great Christmas present has always been a matter of pride to me and something I like to do. If I’m remembered for anything I’m sure it will be that: ‘He did buy a good Christmas present didn’t he’. I enjoy the challenge of coming up with something that will hopefully surprise and delight and most importantly of all is thoughtful. Don’t get me wrong I haven’t always got it right. There was the learn to speak French CD and book set I got my Mum a few years back that was banished to the darkest recesses of her wardrobe before you could say au revoir. However these failures have only made my present buying skills become stronger over the years as I have honed my skills and learnt from my mistakes, and I have since chalked up many victories come December 25th.

But just how do you do it year in year out Len? I hear you cry. Well come closer and listen up, I’m about to reveal all dear readers in my Christmas present to you, the gift that will keep on giving. Print out and keep this indispensible guide to buying the perfect Christmas gift. Follow these tips for guaranteed success every time and step into Christmas with confidence and style once again!


 Look and Listen. Every conversation you have listen for ideas and hints. Observe as your dad watches a commercial for a new black and Decker work buddy/ mate station with intense joy and make a note or take a picture on your smug phone. Don’t try and remember it because you won’t. 

 Always be thoughtful. Remember your goal is to buy a gift that shows you have gone that extra mile because you care. It should be a physical representation of the words we often can’t express to our nearest and dearest.

 Be humorous. If you’re struggling for ideas a gift that makes them laugh is a great alternative.

‘Laughter is the shortest distance between two people’- Victor Borge

Be practical. People will appreciate something they can eat or drink or can use and get a lot of use out of if all else fails. However try not to buy something they would ordinarily buy themselves or there is no point.

Don’t be too ambitious. You want to impress but think realistically, is the recipient really going to use the gift past the Queen’s speech? I heard my mum say she wished she had continued to learn French after she left school so I got her the set....she also said she wished she had trained to be a nurse but I didn’t enrol her into college.

Allow yourself plenty of time. Try to pick up things throughout the year and don’t leave it all to December! You might find you are all out of time.

Have conviction. If you are indecisive about something put it down. Having to convince yourself they will like it means you are in desperation territory. If you also find yourself on websites selling expensive tat like a lunch box made from the spoiler of a Ferrari you have lost. However these sites can sometimes provide inspiration or unusual gifts:, and

Don’t buy for yourself. Something I have been guilty of in the past. You think it’s wicked but will the person you’re buying it for think so? Think on.

Don’t budget. You don’t have to spend the same on each person. Money is irrelevant unless you are buying for children in which case you can’t spend more on one child than the other. It’s a good test to see who your favourite is really though. In any case this guide is not for you, go away!

Online is not always best. I know its 2014 and drones have made poor St Nic redundant and climate change has forced him to move into his holiday home in Deal permanently but you should not dismiss the high street. They are a good source of inspiration and you can get advice from real people too! Visit Charity and antique shops and markets where you can pick up things you won’t find on-line and are utterly unique.

Merry Christmas,

Love Len.

Categories: blogs and bloggers | Dover Town centre | Humour | Shopping

Dover's Rubbish

by Down and out in Dover and district, with Len Oldfeep Monday, August 25 2014

I’m sorry I have been away for so long but I have been in hiding, getting over the embarrassment of my ‘Face of Dover’ mix up. You see dear readers I was under the impression the Dover Express was looking for the best lookalike of ‘The Face’ from the A-team. I spent months cultivating the look and tracking down the right 80’s clobber only to find they were just looking for some attractive Dovorians... Never mind who would want to be the face of a town with such a litter problem anyway?

Yes rubbish is a problem in Dover. People are no longer sure of what can and can’t be recycled and contractors are refusing to take it away if you should put something in the wrong box. Our bins are being monitored. And now we’re being told we can’t even litter anymore! Can’t even drop a fag butt in the high-street or watch a crisp packet be cradled gracefully by the breeze to a nearby tree or settle in a children’s playground, without being fined £400 plus. At least Morrisons have had the decency to remove the one pound coin locks on their trolleys so we can shove one in a river on the way home after a nights drinking.

Dropping cigarettes has accounted for 80% of cases where people have been issued with fines by Environment Enforcement Officers. I can’t help but feel a little sorry for the perpetrators as the hefty fee does not seem fitting of the crime. There are worse offenders out there; irresponsible dog owners who do not clean up after their animals and fly tippers who I’m sure everyone would like to see punished more. Just six fines were handed out in the 191 reported cases of owners not clearing up after their best friend.

The aftermath of rubbish day is never a pretty sight; rouge cans bouncing and ricocheting down the streets to freedom, slices of half eaten pizza and rubbish sacks being pulled apart by Seagulls. It seems customary to blame the council and Veolia –Dover’s street cleaning service providers- after the foul scented trucks have disappeared for another week but if we examine what is left behind we can see who is to blame. I have seen nappies, pet food, food waste and all manner of things inviting birds, rats, foxes, vermin to come and see what bounty is inside, spilling out of purple sacks like the intestines of a wounded soldier on the battlefield.

I know the majority of people make the effort to separate their recycling, food waste and put their bins out in the morning and not days before. I see it with my own eyes every Thursday morning. We are not perfect and may toss the odd plastic container in the bin that is just too fiddly to clean out but we do our bit. It is the few who are not willing to perform these simple tasks, and I fear not just out of laziness but indifference to their hometown and neighbours, that are responsible for the carnage you see when collecting your morning paper. It’s the same people dropping litter standing next to a bin, drinking alcohol in the market square, and dumping shopping trolleys’ in the Dour. They will complain when their mess is not cleaned up quick enough too. Blame culture is prevalent nowadays. No one takes responsibility anymore.

Of course I can’t let KCC, DDC and Veolia get away with it that easy. Some of KCC’S policies have led to more rubbish on our streets. Fly-tipping increased in Dover district after KCC began charging people who use commercial vehicles to dump rubbish. DDC are being too soft on dog owners and fining Veolia paltry sums for not doing their job properly. People argue why they pay their council tax when the streets are an embarrassment but my point is who made them like it.

I would hate to see another big brother style measure like introducing transparent bin liners so your neighbours can see what you’re putting in your rubbish but perhaps it’s the only way we will rid the streets of garbage.

Categories: Dover Town centre | Environment | Health and Safety; | Humour | KCC


by Dan Millen Reviews Sunday, May 26 2013

So I went to see The Hangover: Part III today with mixed expectations. The first one broke new ground in the movie arena, bringing a fresh concept to a party style movie with the twist of what happens when the sun comes up the next today. I laughed so much that when the second part was announced, I found myself itching to get in the cinema to watch it. (That was 6 months before its release!) Unfortunately, aside from the hilarious scene in a Bangkok Strip Club, I felt that Todd Phillips and the gang were just reproducing the first outing in a different location. The fans wanted more.

And boy oh boy, in Part III, Todd Philips has shown why he had to make the trilogy and answer his critics (myself included) following the second outing.

First thing you need to know is there is no-one getting married, hence no stag do (batchelor party), no mayhem… yeah right!

The film opens in Thailand where Mr Chow escapes his prison cell, worthy of Andy Dufresne might I add, during a riot. A chase through the sewers leads him to jump from a cliff edge, plunging into the Gulf of Thailand.

Alan has not changed since we left him. He is still immature, brainless and damn right funny. His parents are sick of him because he is a constant disappointment, and when it all becomes too much for his father (quite emotional but funny at the same time), it’s decided by his mom, sister and the Wolf Pack that he needs to go to Arizona Institution for an ‘intervention’.

ROAD TRIP! Phil, Stu, Doug and Alan hit the open road but are quickly side tracked, and rammed off the road, by Marshall, a gangster trying to track down 40 odd million dollars’ worth of gold bullion from Mr Chow. We then find out that subtle little hints have been dropped into the previous two movies to build up to this moment.

Always given the short straw, Doug is held hostage until the three amigos can track down Mr Chow, retrieve the gold and return it to Marshall before the sunrises 3 days later.

Cue the ‘hangover’. What follows is pure genius, with a bit of long windiness to prolong the Wolf Pack’s agony. I don’t want to give too much more away but you’ll be treated to a trip to Tijuana, old faces reappearing, seductive lollipop sucking in a pawn shop, abseiling down Caesar’s Palace and finally the finale just outside of Vegas. Oh, and a happy ending too.

All in all, enough to make you feel as though you’re the one with a hangover.

I am pleased to say that this movie is a good one to see, but do take it with a pinch of salt because after all, it is a comedy and therefore, not meant to be judged on anything more than whether it can make you laugh or not.

Salt or Sweet? Definitely Sweet.  

Tags: , , , ,
Categories: blogs and bloggers | Entertainment | Film | General | Humour | Just Life | Leisure | Media | People of Kent

MSN - Male Stalking Network

by The Odd One Out, with Dan Millen Tuesday, January 8 2013


Well when you work with a group of women, anything can happen. Everyday brings a new adventure, sometimes a challenge, and as always I am at some point left scratching my head at something one of them has said to the group during the working day... hence this latest post.

Well at the time I was writing this, I was sitting on a leather couch in the suburbs of San Jose, California drinking juice and looking at my notes from previous weeks. I was literally another world away from where I usually am when I encounter my issues as 'The Odd One Out.'

Today's weird and wonderful post is surrounding the inner workings of a colleague of mine when she uses MSN Messenger. (MSN Messenger, for the computer illiterate, is principally an instant messaging service that allows contacts to talk to each other - a sort of text messaging service that is online).

So the women and I were discussing things that annoy us about Facebook when one of them suddenly said 'Do you remember MSN Messenger? We all responded with a unitary nod. 

MSN was great when I first used it, in fact it's how I first began talking with my soon to be wife (She is American and lives in San Jose), but after 4 years we grew tired of the breakages in connection and service and chose to move to Gmail. (Google Mail is awesome).

Anyway... my colleague then proceeded to say aloud to the rest of us "Yeah, did you ever do the sign in, sign out thing?"

I was confused and raised my eyebrow. What shocked me more was that my other colleague said "Oh yeah, I used to do that."

I continued to stay quiet, trying to focus on the invoice I was processing. I didnt want to get drawn into another strange discussion. One a week is enough for me!

Then came another comment "I used to love MSN, I've had some great conversations on there."

The conversation continued, going back and forth across our pod desks. Different pros and cons were listed and they also discussed all the features they enjoyed using. (I can say now, I hated the 'nudges', which shook your computer screen when people wanted to talk to you when you had been idle for 5 minutes or so).

I couldn't take it anymore, I had to interject otherwise I would just look ignorant or worse still, they would draw me into the conversation at a point where it would become uncomfortable for me to back out and they would tease me about it.

"Yes, Jess and I first began chatting on MSN after my holiday to San Francisco in 2007." I said. "But what the hell is the 'Signing in and signing out' thing?" 

Curiosity got the better of me.

The two girls laughed, knowing it would send me into a frenzied rant, as most things do. The others in our group sat silently, waiting to hear.

"Come on what is it?" I persisted.

"The 'Signing in and signing out' thing is where you're already signed in, chatting to other people and you see a guy you like come online. He will obviously look down his contact list and see who is online and talk to who he wants. What I did was to sign out of messenger and then sign back in again." [Cue my long pause and thought] - What the hell for, I thought? "That way, he will see the little notification box that pops up in the bottom right hand corner, signally that I have just come online. That way he is more likely to talk to me."

To say I was thinking of the movies 'Fatal Attraction', 'Obsession' & 'Misery' while she was explaining would be pretty harsh. I was a little disturbed originally but the more I thought about it, the more I thought that this was a pretty clever tactic to get a guy to notice you. In fact, it was bordering on genius.

The good thing to add to that is that my colleague appears to know where the line is and is not hovering over it, ready to hop into the weirdo territory. As long as she stays behind it, I am happy to continue sitting next to her.

So that's the latest from me - keep checking in to see my posts and remember, if your on MSN, either remain invisible or sign out first and stay offline before JS sees you. 

Categories: blogs and bloggers | Business | Employment | Entertainment | Environment | Humour | Just Life | Leisure | Moaning | Moans and groans | People of Kent | Work

Don't be the unobservant view-blocking butterball

by The What's On blog, with Chris Price Saturday, November 24 2012

One of the wonderful perks about my job is I get to see amazing acts all over Kent.

So imagine the fury of going to see the great John Cooper Clarke, only to not be able to see or hear him because of inconsiderate others.

Of course, as is often the case when I am a little bit cross, I exaggerate a little. The headline act at Rochester's Royal Function Rooms, who could easily be described as the five Ps - perfect punk performance poet pioneer - John Cooper Clarke was absolutely class.

I would have enjoyed hearing his unsurpassed grasp of the English language more on Friday, November 23, if my view had not been obstructed by various boozed-up, non-spacially-aware punters.

Arriving at the gig reasonably early, I managed to bag a decent table to watch JCC and his supports, Chatham poet Wolf Howard and Mancunian Mike Garry. 

Perhaps I'm uninitiated in the etiquette of poetry gigs but I couldn't help feeling narked when boozers filed out of the bar and stood directly in front of my table, without so much as a look of apology. Their rear-ends were literally touching the front end of my table and they just looked directly at the stage, as if I wasn't there.

Not wanting to cause a scene, I decided to crick my neck and look round these impetuous loafers. As one act finished, they waddled back to the bar, only to take up their concealing position when the next arrived, as oblivious as before.

Then, just as I settled into my uncomfortable posture, came the drunken cat calls of a group of women standing behind me, equidistant to my view-blocking compadres.

"Give me strength," I thought as they woooooooooooo-ed less than a foot from my right ear at the end of every poem, muttering "exactly" and "yeah" at each of JCC's comical assertions in what he called "the adverts" in between readings.

Then, imagine the emotional contradiction I felt when the oblivious lump in front of me spontaneously developed recognition of other human beings aside from the one on stage, looking round at the tipsy plonker behind me to deliver a scowl which thankfully shut her up and put the rest of us out of our misery. 

Perhaps I am being a bit of a stiff on account of being the designated driver for the night. JCC poetry readings are not debates on late-Rennaissance verse by any stretch. The night was raucous and all the better for it.

All I ask is that people don't enjoy a show at the expense of others. Don't be the unobservant view-blocking butterball or the loud, tiddly dipstick. 

Otherwise someone will end up tainting your night in the same way one day in the future.

Categories: Books | Celebrities | Entertainment | General | Humour | Rochester

Good bands are like London buses…

by The What's On blog, with Chris Price Sunday, September 30 2012

You wait for ages to see a good act from Kent and then two come along at once.

Granted, the 220 people in Canterbury’s Marlowe Theatre Studio on Friday, September 28 were already well-versed in the hip-hop infused folk of headliners Coco and the Butterfields.

It made for a sensational atmosphere at the launch of the five-piece’s debut EP Fip Fok, named after their self-styled pioneering brand of banjo, double bass and guitar music, laced with beatbox drum kicks.

Yet the crowd had already been stirred up a treat by a sterling supporting bill of Tener Duende, Eric Ness and Funke and the Two Tone Baby, pictured below.

It was the latter who impressed the most, from the moment he lifted his hat and addressed the crowd: “Ladies and gentleman of the Marlowe Theatre, I am Funky and the Two Tone Baby.”

A one-man-band from Rochester, he goes by the name of Daniel Turnball when he is not rasping his gravelly Dylan-esque vocals. Yet his stage presence is much like that of Jack White.

By contrast his audience banter makes him appear like a dandy version of the Hitcher from the Mighty Boosh, in a good way.

“I had a dream last night that a lady in the audience wanted to be tamborinist in a one-man-band,” he joked as he tossed his instrument at a girl in the crowd.

“She caught it ladies and gentleman. I also had a dream that everybody in the Marlowe Theatre wanted be part of one big drum machine,” he added, as he got the crowd clapping and stomping to the tambourine, to which he performed a frantic harmonica solo.

Even Coco and the Butterfields frontman Tom Twyman could be seen jumping about to the trilby-wearing singer-songwriter’s set.

“Sorry for jumping around earlier – we have been very excited about today,” said dreadlocked Tom after the headliner’s dramatic opener.

A folk-pop cover of R Kelly’s Ignition Remix followed, showing why the Canterbury band won Live and Unsigned at the O2, the country’s biggest unsigned talent competition.

Their track Astronaut had the crowd singing back the chorus.

The band seem like great friends on stage, with violinist and vocalist Dulcima joking “diva” as Tom asked the sound engineers to turn up his mic. The crowd laughed as she said to her bandmate: “you are very sweaty – disgusting.”

Perhaps the most jaw-dropping moment was the band’s cover of Whitney Houston’s I Will Always Love You. So often done badly and very hard not to sound clichéd, Dulcima easily coped with the vocals as the band performed an inspired and tender folk accompaniment.

Covers of Timberland’s The Way I Are and Flo-Rida’s Low were also impressive as well as great sing-a-longs. As the gig went on it became more and more clear that their strength lies in Tom’s charisma, while Dulcima’s soaring vocals adds a polished touch to their rough beatbox and hearty folk edges.

They returned for an encore of their track Hip Hop Song and they could have stayed for another half hour if they had the material.

Both Funke and the Two Tone Baby and Coco and the Butterfields are planning on releasing their debut albums next year. The latter have even scheduled in their launch night already, once again at the Marlowe on May 5.

Judging by their live sets on Friday and promising sounding EPs, next year could be a very good year for Kent music.

Categories: Entertainment | Humour | music

Got a bee in your bonnet?

Bloggy BeeIf you have a voice, and would like it to be heard, why not consider writing a blog for our site?

Click here to send us a message and let us know!

Welcome to our blogs!

Our Blogs

Tag cloud

Top Posts of the Week

Topics of Conversation