Friday, 19 December 2008

Thankful at Christmas


I haven't done much in the way of Thankful blogs, so I decided to do one as my final post of the year. Let's see...

I am thankful for my blog friends. This January I will have been a proper blogger for 2 years - I flitted around reading some blogs before that, often getting confused with the names - Ali, Ali Kat, Terri, Logziella who some also called Teresa, then there was that sinister Mr Zig guy - but I worked it out in the end, and feel truly blessed to have found you all!

I am thankful for all of the wonderful memories that I have of my eldest daughter, especially of Christmases. This was her favourite time of year and the excitement would build up in her from late November. She could never sleep properly on Christmas Eve, making it really hard to deliver her stocking presents to the end of her bed, and always making Christmas morning a very early start. When she was 16 she woke up at 3am to find her stocking (actually a pillowcase) on her bed. She then joined us in our bed, opened a present and then tried to sleep until a slightly more civilized hour. She also never totally stopped believing in Santa Claus.

I am thankful for my fantastic wife who does everything she can to be the perfect mother for our children. I think she is the only woman in the world who could put up with my silliness when things are good and keep me sane when things are bad. I am truly blessed.

I am thankful for my wonderful children who always constantly amaze me with their brilliance and talent, kindness and generosity. I could not wish for better children.

I am thankful for my dog, Custard. He came to us at a time when we really needed a distraction, something to focus on and fuss - and he has played the part fantastically ever since. He is the perfect dog - he does not steal, doesn't chew things that are not his, he doesn't even pee in our garden! He loves us, guards us, and accepts our love and fuss without complaint. He has been a huge blessing for my family. And he is 3 years old on Sunday, so please wish him a very happy birthday! Yes, he will have presents, on both Sunday and Christmas Day.

Life is good!

Have a wonderful Christmas!

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

My Christmas Wish List

A good fall of snow. It has been a long time since we had anything approaching a White Christmas. I want one this year!
Some new toy soldiers. I have been coveting this range for some time, but can't justify getting them at the moment.

A DVD recorder/VCR combo. Our VCR has died so it needs replacing, but I would like to be able to copy some of the tapes that I have got onto DVD.



A new guitar (yes another one!) This is a Rich Bitch 8 string bass, one of the most awesome guitars ever built. I want one!


A massive win on the Lottery so that I can organise a holiday for me, my family and a select group of buddies (and yes that includes blog buddies) to somewhere like this.

I also wish for each of my friends to get the one thing that they truly want, whatever it may be - a new job, a new baby, a new boy/girlfriend, or maybe that something will just go "click" and make life that bit easier! Whatever you wish for, I hope it comes true!

Monday, 15 December 2008

Christmas is coming!

Oh yeah!

Term has ended! YAY!

Still reasonably busy, but this week is the wind down to the holiday - Friday is my last day! Then I am off for 2 weeks! Can't wait!

The department Christmas dinner is on Wednesday! Hmmmmm!

Still have a few presents to get but I am having trouble with a few - just can't see anything that is leaping out at me.

Oh, one thing I must share - I am planning to barbeque on Christmas Eve - so long as the weather doesn't make it impossible, of course. Planning on a selection of stuff to cook - might even label up a few bits as "Rudolph-steaks" to see what the kids say.

Am I a bad parent?

I have learnt to play Silent Night on the guitar - nice and easy - who knows, after a few glasses of wine I might drag the amp into the garden so the whole neighbourhood can here it. No worse than carol singing! It will be like Brian May on top of Buckingham Palace!



Well, sort of. Im my mind. Zig will understand...



Have a great week, and a wonderful Christmas if I don't see you before!

Friday, 12 December 2008

It was cold last night!

Looking down from the hill that overlooks Canterbury:





In the countryside between home and work:







One for James, the only fixed defence for miles around - don't know how this was supposed to stop Hitler!

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Too tired to type...

Update - got home to find that Mrs RC is ill - too ill to go visiting. So we are planning to send her down for New Year instead. I guess we should have seen this coming...

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Just another Manic Monday

Yesterday was nuts - had about 3 things all happening together plus the printers were playing up making life even more interesting :-(

I am glad you liked the pics of my decorations. I have been hanging things from the ceiling for a while now, I live the effect, makes the hall more cave-like.

James - I think you must be the only person in the world who does not like Winnie the Pooh. Don't you even like the original books? The first cartoons that were based on the books? What sort of heretic are you? :-)

I still have the big Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore and Piglet to sort out - these will be with the sleigh that will be going in the hall now. I hope to make progress with this at the weekend.

I won't be around much on Thursday and Friday - doing short days as Mrs RC is going to visit her dad for his birthday, so it is back to being Mr Mom for a few days. Not complaining, of course, I enjoy the extra time with the kids.

More as soon as I can manage it!

Monday, 8 December 2008

It starts!

I started the Pooh Grotto yesterday. My camera doesn't like taking pics in the dark (it is a camcorder, not a real camera) but I think these will give an idea:



The tree - teddy bear lights and Pooh Bear ornaments.
Here you can see the singing Pooh and Tigger (Eeyore is also part of the set - he is under the tree in the top pic). In the middle is a game that you can play - Bowling for Pooh, where you try to knock over the Pooh figures with the pompom that is hanging in front of Tigger. My best score has been 3 out of 5 so far.

The imprisoned Santa. This is in the hall , which is mainly blue this year. My wife actually approves! I must have gone wrong somewhere!



Looks like the sleigh will go in the hall - not enough room in the porch - but it relies on us reorganising the bedrooms so that the desk that is currently in the alcove under the stairs can move out of the way!

Seemed like such a simple idea at the time!

Friday, 5 December 2008

Friday at last!


This whole week has been insane - not sure why, nothing particular happening, just lots of stuff that adds up to too much! Oh well!


I have been trying to keep up with all of the usual blogs, but know I have slipped with a few. Sorry about that, I will do my best to catch up!


Tomorrow we are hoping to nail the rest of our presents and after that I will be putting up my "tasteful" Christmas decorations - the mini disco balls, blue LED lights, etc - and the Pooh Bear Grotto, of course! I have also had an awful idea . I am thinking that I could make a sleigh for Pooh Bear and put the others in front with those antler head bands on. It would be just like something from "Winnie the Pooh and Christmas Too!" Hm, this needs serious thought!


Have a great weekend!

Thursday, 4 December 2008

All I want for Christmas....

I got home last night to find that a lot of the Christmas decorations were already up! The living room is done and the kids have got their trees up in their bedrooms! All I need to do is the hall and Pooh's Grotto!

It was so nice last night, sitting there with the tree lights on,so warm and cozy...

This morning was NOT warm and cozy. There is snow in the north, but all we have is icy winds and rain - the sort of combination that makes your face hurt,and I had this in my face for the entire journey this morning :-(

By the time I reached Canterbury I was wondering if I was clinically insane. I stopped at a junction where there was another cyclist - also doubting his own mind! Oh well, at least we are happy - sanity seems to make people more miserable, don't you think?


Lunchtime update:

The weather has now cleared - we have blue skies and warm sunshine,perfect Christmas shopping weather, in fact! Staggered back under a big bag of goodies...

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Quick update

Lots of work.

Still have to finish an assignment for the end of next week, but must get it done well before the deadline...

Kids all off school with grotty coughs, fevers etc. Mrs RC is keeping them entertained sorting out the Christmas decorations. The Pooh Bear Grotto will be taking shape soon! Yay!!!!

Bought the chocolate supply for Christmas today! Yay!!!

Started getting in the wine yesterday. Mmm, wine...

I have started collecting Star Wars model space ships for wargames. Should be fun. The Force is strong in this one!

Weather is really cold - wonder if we are going to get a decent fall of snow? There was plenty of ice for me to dodge this morning...

Went to an excellent lecture last night by one of the scientists who is involved in the Hadron Collider at Cern - the thing that some think might destroy the world when it gets running again. Amazing amounts of money for strange experiments looking for things that we are not sure actually exist. However, there do seem to be lots of interesting offshoots from this research, such as a new way of studying the development of cancer, so it is not all a waste of time.

Back soon!

Monday, 1 December 2008

Down to Margate!

On Saturday we all went to Margate for some Christmas shopping.

Once upon a time, Margate was a thriving seaside town, a favourite place for day trippers from London. There are even songs about the place, as this ethnic music from the east end of London shows:




But now? Well apart from a few weeks in the summer, the day trippers have gone. The funfair has gone and the scenic railway has been damaged by fire and is awaiting someone with a load of money to repair it. It has become a backwater where the main business is taking in refugees and immigrants from eastern Europe.

But in previous years we have been able to do a lot of good Christmas shopping there, though. It had a good collection of discount shops with the added bonus of a KFC restaurant!

This year? Well the recession has hit the place really hard. I guess a lot of the shops were running on fairly low margins at the best of times, and a lot of them are now empty. My daughter's favourite clothes shops were still there, so she was happy, but for the rest of us it was a bit of a disappointment. To make matters worse, the KFC was totally packed (the only shop that was), so we didn't even get dinner there!

And do you know the worst thing? With the town in this state, they are spending £50 million on an art gallery. Will this save the town? What do you think?

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Grounds for divorce?

He got home after a hard day at work.

She said that the kids had eaten all of the food that she had cooked -what does He want to eat?

He did not know, ate a bit of left over garlic bread and then took the dog for a walk.

When He returned She was watching TV and knitting.

He joined Her, watching TV and doing crochet until he felt he needed to go to bed, exhausted.

He was soon asleep, only dimly aware of when She joined him.

2am.

She shakes him. "Did you eat anything for dinner?"

He tries to surface from deep sleep. "No, I don't think so. Why?"

"You stomach is making some terrible noises, and I can't sleep!"

"Oh. I guess I AM at bit hungry. Can't be bothered to get up to eat anything, though."

"I feel so aweful! I am such a bad wife!"

"Yes. Still, as we are both awake now..."

"NO."

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Theme music

It's not fair is it?

On the TV and in movies, people get to walk along to theme music - music that lets you know what this guy is all about. I guess we can wear iPods and pretend we have got theme tunes,but no one else can hear them, can they?

I have often wondered what sort of music I would have. I would like something like this:



But I know that it is not really me - bustin' broncos? You must be kidding! I would probably end up with something pretty geeky - what do you think?

What would be my theme tune?

What theme tune would you want?

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

What the names mean

Just saw this:


There are a few more samples here:

Land of the Chaste One? Is that Arnie they are talking about?

Monday, 24 November 2008

The North Wind doth blow...

and we shall have snow!

And so we did on Sunday morning!

I woke up, looked out of the window and saw snow fluttering down, covering everything with a fine layer of crisp whiteness. So I snuggled back into bed and dozed for a while. While I dozed, my wife took Custard the dog for his walk, which they both thoroughly enjoyed.

I slid out of bed and made sure the kids had looked out to see the snow. It was falling thick and fast by now and looked like it was in for the day. But, no, it turned to rain by around 10am, and poured for most of the day. The snow went before I could get a good photo! Sorry about that :-(

So we stayed in the warm. I switched on the slow cooker and got stew and dumplings going for later. Mmmm, you can't beat it on a day like that. Then I spent most of the day watching movies and crocheting a blanket, nibbling on some wonderful Brownies that my wife had made on Saturday evening.

What movies?

Well The Empire Strikes Back was on TV, so I watched that.

Then we watched Robot Chicken Star Wars, which was so funny I had tears rolling down my cheeks and got that stomach pain that you sometimes get. I can't remember the last time I laughed like that.

Finally we watched an old classic, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. I love this movie, in my mind certainly Steve Martin's best performance ever.

In between tall this I had a guitar interlude and came up with a tune that sounded really good - I must get back into the Rock Shed and record it before I forget it! Assuming I can still remember it now!

This week will see me finally getting a move on with the Christmas presents - lots of bargains out there right now!

Friday, 21 November 2008

Holy Crap!!!

What a day!

Have a great weekend - back next week!

Thursday, 20 November 2008

A chance meeting

While out walking today I met a couple of girls that went to school with my eldest daughter. Seeing them was a strange experience - how grown up they were, one pushing a baby, the other with her little dog, Frank:



Isn't he cute?

Just had me thinking - I could be a grandad by now!

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Where did you get that hat?



Here I am, by popular demand...

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

If I ruled the world...



There would be a law that allowed certain elements of society to be culled!


OK, so I sound like a Nazi today.


I am just getting sick of scam artists, that is all.


Today my wife got a text that said it was from a solicitor to a Mr Whatever (not us) saying that things were moving forward and that their house was due to be reposessed.


Of course, my wife wanted to do the right thing and tried to ring them to tell them that the message had come to the wrong person - the intended person needs to know ASAP, clearly! So she rings up and it starts asking for various code numbers that were included in the text. She rings off and rings me asking for advice.


I look on the web and find that the number given is a premium rate number that will charge a stupid amount for any call made to it! It is a scam! These people are trying to exploit our good nature! Am I the only one that gets mad at the thought of that? It is one thing to be a cheating crook who would sell his own mother for the price of a drink, but thinking up a scam that relies on exploiting the good nature of the few nice people that are left in the world is just beyond me!


So! If I ruled The World...

Monday, 17 November 2008

The weekend

Friday was Pizza night as usual, with our usual extra guest - my eldest son's best friend that came back from Spain recently, who was also sleeping over.

Saturday found my wife feeling a bit poorly, so we took Custard out for his morning walk together (she usually does mornings and I do evenings), which was really nice, just strolling along together with the dog talking a load of rubbish.

By lunchtime it was a really nice day, so I went into town to buy some stuff to do a barbeque which always goes down well with the kids. I could tell my wife wasn't quite on the ball, though, as there were 3 occasions where I was busy cooking away trying not to incinerate the sausages (which were rather more fatty than expected, turning the barbeque into something resembling a napalm strike) by constantly moving them around when she turned up and help something out to me - a sausage in a bun, a dish for burgers, a drink - expecting me to take it with my third arm! I didn't say anything, though, a quick juggle, a slurp of drink and a quick "thanks", then back to my inferno...

Sunday we went food shopping to re-fill our freezers and cupboards. My daughter came with us and it was great fun. I found a High School Musical t-shirt in her size with "I love Brad" on the front, so I said I was going to get it for her for Christmas. Last year she would have loved it but this year she is all "My Chemical Romance". So being the evil father that I am I kept slipping back and putting it into our trolly until she saw it and sent me back with it. Poor girl!

While there, my wife got me a new winter hat - a big furry Russian style hat with ear flaps etc. I love it, and don't care how dumb it is.

Sunday afternoon turned out cold and wet, so I did a roast dinner with bacon-coated meatloaf - quick, easy and the kids love it.

Sunday evening I was totally exhausted - watched Jeeves and Wooster, tried to watch Fringe but gave up and went to bed at 9.20.

So, as you can see, a good weekend, but I did not manage any of my goals. Oh well. Oh, I nearly achieved one - I looked at some of my unpainted figures and found a bunch of stuff that James sent me a while ago - some Celtic Chariots and leaders. I have decided that these will be the next things that I paint, so a little bit of progress, perhaps...

Well, better go now - I have got A Christmas Story playing on a nearby PC...

Friday, 14 November 2008

Friday again!

Where did that week go?

This week flew past in a flurry of, um, stuff!

This weekend will be a bit hectic.

We have some major shopping to take on - the last few days we have been eating whatever we can find in the cupboards and freezers, resulting is some oddities like prawn chili con carne, which was actually very nice!

I have to put in some major work on one of my assignments for Uni. All of the basics are there but I need to hammer it into shape.

I really, really want to finish off the control panel for my V Bass, so I can show it off a bit. A strip of white plastic held in place with green and yellow electrical tape does not really look the part.

I also really want to get back to painting my toy soldiers - I have had the inclination this week, but not the energy! Oh well, I will just have to see what I can squeeze in over the next couple of days.

Oh, finally, the Children in Need idea came to nothing - no one else raised the idea again, so it went by the wayside. There were plenty of others around the Uni doing their bit, including a group of cleaners dressed as hookers who seemed to do a good trade despite their average age of around 60! I think they frightened a lot of the students for some reason!

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Still full of beans...

Just a quick post today. Thanks for all of the comments about my Full of Beans post. With a bit of digging I have found this site:

http://www.fullofbeans.co.nz/

Where you come from will determine whether you think this is a good name for a healthfood store!

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

I'm full of beans!



So, what did that phrase mean to you?


After eating lunch, I told the people at the food place that I was now ready for the afternoon, "I'm full of beans!"I told them. Actually I was, literally, having just eaten a load of refried beans, among other things!


Now, for me, this saying means that I am full of energy, ready to go, etc.


But the woman in the shop told me that I had just declared that I was "full of sh&%"! Or "full of hot air"!
Now I have never heard this one before, but it does make sense now that I think about it.
So, if I walked up to you and told you I was "full of beans", what would YOU think?

Monday, 10 November 2008

On Sunday afternoon...

as I was sitting watching a succession of bad movies (Killer Bees, Swamp Thing, Return of the Swamp Thing...) a sudden urge took hold of me.

I popped a quick question to my wife and then I was off to find the bag that contained the equipment that I needed.

Rummage rummage. Hm, this is the one!

Rummage rummage - too small, too big, OMG MUCH TOO BIG! Ah, that is the one, oh yes that feels good, it has been so long.

Then I was at it like a maniac.

Three hours later I had made my wife a red crochet beret. It really suits her, but she would not allow photos. Sorry.

Friday, 7 November 2008

Thank Crunchie it's Friday!

Well the week draws to an end, and a good thing too! The weather has been generally horrible, work hectic and life in general a little bumpy, but what the heck! The weather has cleared, work is getting under control and the bumps in life have been stamped flat! HAH! TAKE THAT!

Not sure what the weekend has in store - perhaps a little Christmas shopping, learning a song for the Children in Need day and lots of relaxing, I think! I will see what I can get away with ;-)

That is about it for me this week!

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, 6 November 2008

I think we have got a bit soft!

I saw this today:

http://uk.news.yahoo.com/21/20081106/tuk-compelling-case-to-free-bomber-6323e80.html

Basically, one of the guys involved in blowing up a Jumbo Jet that then crashed onto a small town is now dying of cancer so his lawyers are trying to get him released on compassionate grounds to reduce his suffering.

I really don't think there is anything to add to that, is there?

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Now I am going to pick your brains!



No, I haven't turned into a Zombie - not yet, anyway!


My department is talking about doing something to raise money for the Children in Need appeal, which happens every year here in the UK.




They raise loads of money and do great stuff for all sorts of kids all over the country.


We are talking about coming in fancy dress and tapping the students for a bit of cash next week. I was wondering about doing a bit of busking around the Uni, and this is where I want to ask for suggestions. What would be a suitable song - preferably something short and easy!


"Help!" by the Beatles?


"Money" by Pink Floyd?


Come on! There must be something really good that I can learn!

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Something to ponder...

I tried to find a Yiu-Tube clip for this but failed - so I will describe the scene.

It comes from my favourite Burt Reynolds movie "The End". Burt's character has a terminal illness and has spent the movie trying to end it all so he does not suffer horribly. Fun plot, huh? Finally he decides to swim out to sea and drown, so off he goes, swimming until he is exhausted, then he dives under...

He resurfaces, shouting "I want to live!" and sets off for the shore again.

As he goes he starts trying to strike a deal with God, saying he will stop doing all the bad things he has been doing all of his life and saying he will donate 90% of his money to the Church, etc.

Then he realises that he is getting closer to the beach and starts thinking he might make it, so he starts knocking down his offer - 50%, 25% gross, 10%, 10% starting in 5 years. As he staggers up the beach he is blaming God for making him sick in the first place!

Do you see where I am going with this? Of course you do!

And we don't just do this to our own particular God either! We do it to our friends who help us out in the bad times - do we really remember and show our gratitude when things are better? I like to think that I do, but the more I think about it the less certain I become!

As I said: something to ponder...

Monday, 3 November 2008

Cheese

I am a bit of a Jeeves and Wooster fan. Do you get that overseas?

This is a classic scene from last night's episode:



You may recognise Wooster (on the piano) from House, the TV hospital series.

Jeeves, otherwise known as Stephen Fry, has been doing a wonderful series on TV where he drives all over America in a London taxi, visiting famouse cities and then talking to the most unlikely people, eg some homeless in Chicago, the Hmong in Minneapolis and a cheese maker somewhere in Wisconsin. He totally bypasses the obvious things, clearly going very close to Graceland, for example, without even mentioning the place!

While talking to the cheese maker, he made the bold statement that American cheese is utterly disgusting, and the cheese maker (who makes her own cheese from sheeps milk) agreed! I was surprised at this - I thought the Americans ate a lot of cheese, so surely it must be good!

Any thoughts?

Friday, 31 October 2008

The weekend approaches...

Well tonight is halloween. The weather is looking rather unpleasant - not snow or anything exciting, just rain - so the original plans are out. I was going to barbeque in the garden (having bought the last 2 sacks of charcoal in Britain) but it looks like the old George Foreman is going to have to do instead.

We have stocked up on sausages, burgers, steak and pork chops as it looks like we are being invaded by lots of kids. Funny how they gravitate towards free food isn't it?

One job that I must get done tomorrow is to get a photo done for my passport. The old one ran out about a year ago and I need one so I can go to Malta with the students next Easter. I have been to Malta 3 times before as a member of staff, but this year I will be there as a student. Should be a blast!

FIL Update: He is back home now and feeling really well. His local hospital is really good. Talking to a few local people who have had heart problems it seems that the treatment he got in the first 2 hours after being admitted can take 4-6 months here in Kent, involving trips to London hospitals because the local ones just don't have the equipment. The media talk about the "Post Code Lottery" of Healthcare in the UK - what more proof do you need!

Anyway, have a great weekend, whatever you are doing!

Thursday, 30 October 2008

The 6 strange things meme...

Teresa tagged me for this meme. I don't intend to tag anyone else, so I won't waste space with the rules - HAH! I am such a rebel!

Basically I have to tell you 6 strange things about myself that I haven't said before. Could be a tough one! We will see.

1. Although generally shy and retiring, when I was in bands (many years ago) I was rather different when playing in front of an audience. My favourite stage wear was stripped to the waist, jeans and a red and black woolly hat with a large bobble on the top. No photos exist, thankfully!

2. When I was young I never wanted to have children.

3. When I was young I was an incredibly fussy eater - discovering Chinese food changed all that. Now I will try just about anything once.

4. I read while walking down the road, glancing up so I don't crash into things and people or get run over.

5. We were once planning to move to the Shetland Isles - those little islands off the top of Scotland. The only thing that stopped us was being given a permanent contract in my current job!

6. Some people think I am crazy, but this is not true. The best psychiatrists in the area tried to work that out when I was a teenager and decided I wasn't! Hah, so there!


Did it! Time to do a bit of shopping on my way home now!

Bye!

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Today...

The weather is cold and clear - not unpleasant if you dress sensibly!

I am hunting books and information for my first assignment - there is a big gap in my timeline that needs to be filled!

I just added some data to a CD that already had data on it. XP would have been more than happy to do this, but Vista has just deleted everything...

I am just about to eat the last of the chocolates that Terri sent me - it was delicious!

Off to the library again!

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

My Major Award!

When Terri told me that she was going to send me a Major Award, I was really excited.

It arrived on Friday:



No, the film above is not me and my family! I know it should be obvious but I sometimes wonder about the readers that I attract ;-)

Oh don't pout, you know I don't mean it!

Here I am, with my prize:

Hope you are all having a great day!

I'm so busy...

Oh so busy
So busy
And pretty
And Gay!

Hm not so sure about the last bit, but you get the idea.

Lots of work and studying going on, plus my FIL had a heart attack on Sunday. Not a major one but the hospital have kept him in for a few days, done a procedure that clears the arteries and sorted ot medication for him so he should be OK, fingers crossed!

More later today - hopefully a vblog about the Major Award that I won in Terri's competition!

Back soon!

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Up the Downs...

This morning I was out walking with some of our students, in an area called Wye Downs - Wye is a large village/small town, and Downs is a name used for lines of smallish hills.


This valley is called The Devil's Kneadingtrough. I love names like that, don't you?










We also found Eeyore's House!
It was a great way to spend a morning - we must do more of that sort of thing...



Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Dreaming...



Last night I was racing around town on a huge Harley Davidson chopper, cruising down the high street, racing along the coast road, the wind in my hair. Born to be Wild! HA!


Then I looked down and saw that I wasn't actually sitting on a Harley. I was sitting on Custard, my dog.




Is it time for that padded cell, I wonder?


Tomorrow I am going for a walk in the country with some of the tutors and the new students - hope the weather is good - if so I will post some photos. Should be good.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Tuesday, here I come!

Thanks for all the well wishing yesterday!

I certainly feel MUCH better today.

Last night I ran into the mother of all rain storms, the roads were awash, running like rivers on the hills. I did a d-tour to do a bit of shopping on the way and bought a few naughty things to make us feel better, including half-price chocolate...

This morning the weather is colder but the wind and rain have gone, so it is good for cycling - yay!

Not that I am feeling better I can get on with work and assignments, and in between, wondering about Christmas. We are thinking of going back to our buffet style Christmas eating this year. No huge lumps of meat and turkeys, just grazing as we feel like it. Makes things much less stressful and the kids really like it that way too. Hey, if the weather is OK I might even be able to do a bit of a barbeque! I am totally hooked, as you might be able to see, and I am going to stock up on charcoal before it vanishes from the shops for the winter. The way our winters have been recently I think there should be plenty of opportunity for outdoor cooking.

Rock Chef is back!

Monday, 20 October 2008

Ugh...

Feeling a bit crumby today. Slept most of yesterday, then had an attack of "the runs" in the early hours. Great! Not been that great all day, but mega busy just to make things even more miserable! And it's raining, now, too...

Hope to be more chirpy tomorrow.

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Sing! Sing a song!

I have started work on my first assignments! Yay! They aren't due in until December, but if I don't get going now I just know that I will end up doing them the night before the deadline, so here goes, aren't I being good! I have started working on maps and posters and have just raided the library...

Someone that we recently did a really big favour for has thrown it all back in our faces - again! Why do we keep doing things like this? Why don't we just shrug and say "tough, sort it yourselves"? Why are we always surprised when they don't even say thank you?

Played a great game last night - a role playing game (like the famous Dungeons and Dragons) about devil worshippers and stuff. Haven't played it for over 20 years and wasn't sure if I would still enjoy it but it was great fun, especially when we were trying to hide from the Police but I tripped over a trash can instead and they found me sitting in the road with mouldy banana skins all over me. We haven't found the bad guys yet, so we will be playing again soon to see if we succeed, die or go mad in the process.

Hah, I knew there was something else!

As I came into Canterbury this morning I was passing the usual stream of parents and children going to school - the stressed parents shouting at their kids to hurry up, the crying kids who suddenly realised they had left something at home, etc, etc. Then I heard someone singing. A young woman was singing at the top of her voice, with her kids skipping along beside her. I slowed and watched them pass, my heart filling with joy at the sight and sound. One of the girls looked at me and told her mom that I was laughing at her.

"No", I said. "I am smiling because she has made me happy."

The girl smiled at that, and skipped off.


Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Work

My job is very varied - basically my role is to make sure that things run as smoothly as possible for everyone else, so I get a lot of different things to do.

This morning, I started off using a GIS (basically maps on computers - Hi Sid, please don't be offended by the simple description!) to analyse where people at a particular event came from. This is the start of a project where we will dig deeper and find out how much they spent, some socio-economic profiling etc.

My final job for the day? Sharpening a load of pencils for an exercise that the students are doing in the morning.

Odd? Probably, but I love it!

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Run-away mouth...

Yesterday morning, I was riding in to work when I saw a car emerging from a drive-way. Reflex told me that he was going to shoot out and try to get me, and sure enough, if I hadn't hit the brakes and lost a load of rubber he would have side-swiped me into a wall.

As he hit the accelerator I swore at him and wondered if I might catch up with him later on when the traffic gets congested.

Sure enough, a mile further on I passed him, stopping to read his number place and giving the driver the evil eye.

On I went, stopping off at a supermarket to grab some drink and snacks. Who stood right behind me at the checkout? You guessed it.

"Are you the cyclist who just came through Tyler Hill?"

"Yes, I am."

"I am so sorry, I just didn't see you."

I was about to say "Oh that's OK", when my mouth openned all by itself.

"Well that's the problem isn't it? No-one sees the cyclist do they?"

Then the woman on the checkout joined in.

"Look at the size of me! They say they can't see me either!"

The poor guy was then subjected to a joint rant by the woman and myself, including my favourite statement that "I assume that all drivers are out to get me, and this morning proved my point!"

At one point he said that he had heard what I called him, to which I said that if he thought that was bad he should think himself lucky that I was in a good mood today.

We eventually let him go, I told him I was OK, I am used to it and we wished each other a good day.

Poor guy.

Monday, 13 October 2008

Parents...

One of my favourite blog writers has recently had a problem with a parent, so I thought I would share the latest installment of my problems with my dad.

He can't seem to cope with having space in his garden, which is a shame as it is quite big!

He gave my wife and I a section to use as a vegetable plot.

He had us put a shed on part of it - remember X-treme Shed Building?

He had us get another, bigger, shed put in too.

The next thing I know, he has asked my younger brother to order him a 10 foot long greenhouse. It has been ordered, can we assemble it when it arrives?

It arrives. Looking at the mass of metal and plastic we say that it will need a base to stand on - paving slabs and sand will be needed - younger brother has a truck, he should be able to get it.

Then my older brother chips in - don't use paving slab, use CONCRETE!

At this point I declare that if it is to be concrete, my older brother can do it - NOT ME!

Now, this is all very chaotic. And the worst part? My younger brother had it all under control in the first place - HE has already ordered the paving slabs! If I had gone and got some more, we would have had a massive pile of them!

Why the chaos?

My dad has, apparently, asked ALL THREE OF US to put up his BL%%&$ greenhouse! If my mom hadn't been going between us all I am sure that one of us would have turned up with a ton of slabs or concrete only to find the job done already!

Parents, eh?

Thursday, 9 October 2008

The Results of my Shoe Research




OK, here are the results. I think they are quite amazing, in lots of ways!



Now that some of you have had a chance to draw your own conclusions, I will put in a few comments of my own...

For each question I have listed the answers with the number of people giving that answer.


1. How many pairs of shoes do you own?


Not a lot/20 = 3
30 to 40 = 3
50 plus = 3
Too many to count = 2

I just find this mind-boggling! So many shoes! Where do you keep them? How do you keep track of them? Do you ever find that, somehow, you have 3 pairs the same?


2. How often do you buy new shoes?


Once a year = 1
Twice a year = 1
Every 2-3 months = 4
At least monthly = 4
Every chance I get = 2

Monthly shoe-shopping? Again, I find this a totally alien concept. In my house it is generally a case of twice a year or if desperate. This means that you lot are buying shoes more often than I buy guitar strings!


3. What prompts a visit to the shoe shop?


Replacing old/broken ones = 4
A good sale = 2
Need shoes to match a new outfit = 5
Impulse = 5
Going cold turkey, not buying shoes right now = 1

Half of you buy shoes on impulse? No wonder I have never seen a shoe shop go out of business!


4. Does your partner ever question the need for more shoes?


No = 7
Not if he doesn't know about it = 1
Yes = 2
Yes but I distract him = 1

Lots of comments here along the lines of "no sensible man would ever dare to question the need for more shoes".


At least most guys seem to do the sensible thing and just let you get on with it, and at least one of the questioners only seems half-hearted about it, allowing himself to get distracted. No indication of what form this distraction takes, but I can probably make a fair guess ;-)


5 . Given the opportunity, would you be the new Imelda Marcos?


No = 4
Yes = 3
I have been called this = 1
Who? = 2

An even split between Yes and No, really. And I thought this question would produce a chorus of "No"s! I think it was a couple of my younger readers who did not know who she was, bless them.


6. Shoes or sex?


Sex = 6
Shoes = 1
Sex while wearing shoes = 3
Depends on the shoes = 2

As I expected, sex won. I was not expecting the high "sex while wearing shoes" vote, or those who might actually find the shoes more interesting! If you were one of these, perhaps you should experiment with sex while wearing shoes? It might be the start of a whole new era in your love life! This is Dr Ruth signing off!


So, what do you think?

Shoe update

Hi

9 sets of answers so far - looking really interesting, with some surprising answers!

Any more? If so, please answer the questions below!

CRC

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Shoes...

So, what is it about shoes and women?

For me, shoes are something that stop my legs wearing down. Nothing more.

Many women seem to be obsessed - just look at some of the comments on my last post! Women even post Shoe Porn on their blogs! What would you all think if I did that?

So, to help the male understanding of this phenomenon, can I ask you all, male or female, to answer the following questions - preferably by email to mawaliuk@yahoo.com , to protect the innocent? I will analyse and post the results.

1. How many pairs of shoes do you own?

2. How often do you buy new shoes?

3. What prompts a visit to the shoe shop?

4. Does your partner ever question the need for more shoes?

5 . Given the opportunity, would you be the new Imelda Marcos?

6. Shoes or sex?

Thank you for participating!

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Fate?

Yesterday a female colleague of mine saw a wonderful pair of shoes that she really, really wanted to buy, but did not NEED.

Today she somehow broke the shoes that she was wearing.

Guess what? She suddenly NEEDED a new pair of shoes!

She says it was Fate.

I think it was SABOTAGE!

What do YOU think?

Monday, 6 October 2008

Things to do...

For the last few days I have had lots of things trying to get my attention, pushing and jostling to get to the front. In no particular order:

Reading for my studies. I have got a small list of things that I need to read and take notes from. I meant to bring them to work and do it in my lunch break, but forgot today. Will try and remember tomorrow.

Finish rebuilding my V-bass. It is all wired up and working, but the control panel is just a strip of white plastic with the switches etc stuck through it. I have got hold of a nice peice of alluminium/alluminum/aloominum to replace it but I need to cut and drill it which will be noisey and will, therefore, have to wait until the weekend. I wanted to do it this weekend, but I just never found the time.

Do a bit more recording in the Rock Shed. I find this works best in short bursts of around 30 minutes so I hope to fit in a session most evenings from now onwards. I have a couple of my own songs that I would like to record and get nailed down properly, but I would also love to do a version of Joe Walsh's "Rocky Mountain Way", swapping the guitar bit that he does with the tube in his mouth for a bass guitar bit.




Paint some more toy soldiers. I have been a total slacker at this all summer and an wondering when I will get the urge to do it again. I have all sorts of nice things that I could paint, from medieval Swiss to an army of Elves! I would love to get both of these armies done, but...

I am sure there are more things too - let's see how it goes, shall we? No point getting stressed!

Friday, 3 October 2008

Weekend...

Well the weather here is horrible - cold, raining and generally miserable. Not good cycling weather!

My youngest is 10, yes 10, on Monday so the weekend will mainly be about him - getting the last few presents, doing a cake, etc.

He is a great little guy, well not so little these days, being taller than some of his teachers. He thinks and acts like a teenager a lot of the time, often being more mature than his older brother. In fact this is often his undoing as we sometimes forget just how young he is and expect more from him than we really should!

I can't wait for him to open one of his presents, the latest Star Wars game for the Wii with a lightsabre attachment for the controller. Wonder if I should test it to make sure it works...

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Common sense reigns supreme

http://uk.news.yahoo.com/pressass/20081001/tuk-sword-wielding-robber-tackled-6323e80.html

Wake-up you sleepy head...

Bet none of you know what song that line comes from!

Anyway, there we were, half asleep.

"What's the time?"

I looked at the clock.

"Twenty five past seven."

"Oh, that's OK then."

"We'd better get up."

"Why?"

I was getting increasingly confused - was it Sunday or something? We should have been up long ago.

"Because it is twenty five past seven", I said with a bit more emphasis.

"Hm... SHIT!"

Suddenly it was all action.

Apparently, between leaving my mouth and reaching my wife's ears, the word "past" became "to". There must be some strange explanation for this. Any suggestions?

Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Back to School

Terri wanted me to expand on my return to studying, so here goes.

About 5 years ago I was offered the chance of doing a degree at the university that I work at, free of charge, with some classes in normal term time, some in the summer. This sounded like a great idea, so I signed up.

I did a preliminary short course to get me started, and then started studying properly. Everything was going well, my marks were great, and I was thoroughly enjoying it.

Then my eldest daughter was taken ill. I soldiered on with the classes, but my out of class study time was severely reduced with everything else going on. I finished the first year, scraping through my exams with no effective revision, a couple of weeks before we lost our daughter. Summer classes were out of the question, so I decided to take a year out to see how things went. By the following summer I was still not prepared to return to classes on the anniversary of my daughter's death, so I just let it slide.

Then I got talking to my head of department, who is the greatest boss you could ever want. Realizing that I was never going to be happy returning to summer classes he suggested that I switch over to just doing classes during the normal academic year, September to June. It will take me longer to finish, but at least I will be working on it.

So here I am, starting Year 2 in a class full of 19-20 year olds. being taught by someone that I have been working with for the last 17 years. Interesting, to say the least!

So wish me luck! I am going to need it, especially with those darned exams. I am too old for cramming...

Monday, 29 September 2008

A defining moment!

My daughter's taste in music has changed - gone is the girly-poppy stuff.

It is now My Chemical Romance!



Yes, I think they are great. This song became my wife's anthem in recent tough times!

Anyway, back to the story - last night she had her hi-fi cranked up and I had to ask her to TURN IT DOWN!

YES!!!!!

I told you it was a defining moment!

Madness!

Well, today is the day that I become a part-time student again! Mad, I know, but what the hell. I will see how I get on.





So, while I get ready for my first lecture, here are some photos.




This used to be a small disused factory. A recent change in the tax laws meant that the owners of empty buildings like this were to be taxed on it. The idea was to encourage the owners to rent them out at reduced rates. The real result is that it is often cheaper to demolish the building than to pay the tax. This is becoming known as "The Bomb-Site Tax",

-

The local seafront at dusk. This view always makes me feel 5 years old again.


Sunset at low tide. In the middle distance on the left is a line of rocks. Local legend has it that these were once a row of houses that lost the battle with the sea. I keep meaning to check that story out!

Back soon, have fun!

Friday, 26 September 2008

ARE THEY SERIOUS????!

As I headed back towards work at the end of my lunch break, I saw something that caught my attention.

In the middle of the shopping precinct there was a table with a parasole set up. On the table were lots of cakes of all kinds - fruit cakes, cream cakes, jam and cream sponges...

These were being sold to raise money for charity.

Nothing odd about that, I here you say!

Of course not.

Until you see the charity that they are raising money for.

It was...




















Now I have nothing against this charity, it is a great thing! But selling CAKES? Are they trying to increase their membership or something?

Maybe I am missing something here?

Thursday, 25 September 2008

NNNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Another short post today.

Things were going so well.

I had it all under control.

Now it seems that I suddenly have a huge job on that I didn't expect to have.

ARRRGGGGGGGHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Where is that gun?

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

What a day!!!!


Yes, I feel as tired as this little thing!
You see I have been trying to multi-task today, which is just not a guy thing, is it!
Oh well, I think tomorrow should be a lot better, I have cleared the back-log.
That's about it, really. Looking forward to getting home and having a beer with dinner. Mmm, sweet, sweet beer....

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Emotionally scarring your children

Last night, after dinner, I was in the livingroom playing one of my guitars - the V-bass that I have done a lot of work on recently. Everyone else was in the room too, watching TV, doing homework, etc.

The boy who is living with us at the moment looked at me.

"Is that your favourite guitar?"

I paused.

"Hard to say. Each one is good at some things and not so good at other things."

My eldest son then chipped in.

"It's like trying to choose a favourite child, isn't it?"

My reply was instant.

" Nah, that's EASY!"

The looks on their faces was priceless! Will they spend the rest of their lives wondering if I do have a favourite and if so which it is? No, I don't think so, not really.

Monday, 22 September 2008

Doodling...


One of the blogs that I read is written by Marie, who has been writing a novel and her blog chronicles the ups and downs of the process. Like a lot of people, I have the feeling that I would like to write a book one day, but I doubt that I really will, especially after reading Marie's blog!

However, I then thought about trying my hand at a short story or two. I thought nothing of it for a while, but on Sunday morning I woke up with this little story bouncing around in my head. I am not giving up the day-job, but I was rather pleased with it.


Going Back

It had been years since he had seen the old place. He had not been back since he left for university, so many years ago that it hurt to count them. He had always intended to return, but life had just been too busy, and it was not as though he had any real ties there anymore, not since his mum had died.

But even though life had taken him to all sorts of places, he had still wondered, from time to time, whether this little village had changed much, and what had happened to some of his old friends there – especially Sarah, his first lover. He smiled a smug half-smile at her memory.

So here he was. Twenty-odd years after leaving, he was back, driving his custom BMW along the narrow lanes that headed into the village where he had grown up. If business hadn’t called him to a meeting only a few miles away he might never have returned.

As he took the final bend into the village he felt that he was being transported back in time. Sure, the trees were bigger, some of the houses were even different colours and hey, the gardens of the Fuller’s house now held a row of three new houses. Predictably the Post Office was now just a normal house, though some of the writing on the side wall was still just about readable.

He thought of Sarah again and wondered if she was still here. She must have teenage children by now, just like he did.

“Maybe she is still waiting for me”, he mused to himself. After all, he had promised to return for her on his final night before leaving to go to uni.

Instinctively, he turned left, up the narrow lane that lead to Sarah’s old house. Brambles and small branches stretched out to reach him as he slowly navigated along the treacherously narrow and winding lane. He half expected to meet a tractor coming the other way at any moment, but he was lucky. Well, fairly lucky. He dreaded to think what had happened to the beautiful black sheen on his BMW.

Then the cottage came into site. It looked the same as it always had in his mind’s eye, with it’s thatched roof, rambling pink roses climbing up the walls and it’s neatly trimmed hedges. The road widened near the cottage, a natural passing point for vehicles, so he pulled over and parked his car. After a momentary pause to gather his thoughts, he left the car, casually locking it with his remote key, the sound seeming incongruous in this setting. Walking to the cast iron gate, he leaned on it and looked into the garden, just has he had done so many times, so many years ago. The sight that met his eyes made a cold hand grip his heart. There, in the garden, was a woman. She was kneeling down with her back to him, plucking small weeds from a flowerbed. He instantly knew it was Sarah. The guilt that he had suppressed for almost twenty-five years suddenly welled up and grabbed his throat, preventing him moving or talking. He just looked at her. She seemed to have kept her figure, such as it was, and her dark hair had a few strands of grey.

Suddenly, before he could do anything, she turned and looked over her shoulder at him.

“Well well, look who it is!”

She stood, turning to face him, smiling that warm, wonderful smile that had so beguiled him when he was younger. She looked older now, of course, and wore no make up, her skin having a wonderfully natural glow to it.

“Come on in, then, I won’t bite! Unless you want me to, of course!” She chuckled at her own joke, and this seemed to make him relax somewhat. Opening the gate, he entered the garden.

They sat together on wooden garden chairs, in the shade of a large oak tree.

He told her about university, his career, his wife who looked like Goldie Hawne, their one child, now at university himself. Life had been a mad helter-skelter ride of projects and deals that meant that, if his next project came to fruition as planned, he would be able to retire and live out the rest of his days playing in California.

There was a pause. The sun had moved on surprisingly since he had started talking and he felt a slight chill.

“What about you?” The guilt tried to return, but he pushed it back down.

“You didn’t come back. Not even when your mother died. I waited for you, you know? On that final night, I gave myself to you, heart and soul, you promised to return, but you didn’t. What happened?”

“Like I said, life just seemed to take over, my career has taken all of my time...”

“You couldn’t even find time for your mother’s funeral?”

“I had the deal of a lifetime going through at the time, and what difference would it make? She was dead, and when you are gone you are gone.”

“I used to think that too. And what of Goldie? Do you love her? Does she love you like I did?”

“Well, we have our moments, but after twenty years you can’t expect it to be like it was at first.”

He chuckled uncomfortably. Suddenly he realised that she was standing in front of him, looking down at him just has he remembered her looking at him on their last night together.

“It would have been if you had come back for me, you know.”

She bent down and kissed him, kissed him with a passion that he had never felt before. He was standing, clutching her, holding her, feeling her. They were on the grass, somehow half naked. He was on his back, still shocked by the force her passion, transported by a sheer physical ecstasy that he had never imagined. He had no idea how long it lasted, but he slowly became aware that she was no longer on him, so he lay for a few moments catching his breath, watching the sunlight shining through his closed eyelids.

“I should have come back for you, Sarah, I am so sorry.”

A gentle breeze rustled the leaves above him.

He sat up and looked around.

“Sarah?”

He found his trousers and struggled into them, still feeling dizzy from the lovemaking.

“Sarah? Where are you?”

A car was approaching along the lane, so he hurriedly finished dressing.

The car stopped out in the lane and he could hear the sounds of someone getting out and approaching the gate. The gate swung open and a man, once tall and strong but now old and bent, shuffled through. Recognition was immediate.

“Mr Coleman, how nice to see you again!” he said.

The old man looked at him, his face switching from confusion to surprise to anger.

“Bastard! How dare you come here like this?” Heading for the front door of the cottage with surprising speed, he shouted out.

“If you’re still here by the time I get back you’re a dead man.”

“Why?” He couldn’t have seen him and Sarah in the garden…

“As if you don’t know! You broke my Sarah’s heart! You never came back! Took us weeks to find her body out in the woods!”

Friday, 19 September 2008

A walk in the park

The other day I went for a walk in the local park. The main grass areas are marked out for soccer pitches and there were a couple of games going on. One seemed to be pub teams of adults, while the other had teams of 9-11 year olds.

The game with the younger players caught my attention - well not really the game itself, but the fathers who stalked the touch-lines, shouting instructions at their hard-pressed sons. I detest this, it really stirs something in me.

Anyway, as I wandered past one of the dads was shouting "get him, tackle him". Looking over I saw the tackle - it went in hard and the kid with the ball went flying, landing face-first in the mud.

What happened next surprised even me!

The dad of the boy who had been tackled hit the father of the tackler! And it spread, until there was a mob of a dozen or so fathers pushing, grabbing and punching each other! It was amazing!

Meanwhile, the kid that had landed on his face, picked himself up, unnoticed, and watched the fighting with the other kids, many in tears at the sight of it all.

What is wrong with these people? Now I have nothing against people supporting their children in what they do, in fact I normally think it is great for kids to get support and encouragement in what they do. But this "competitive Dad" syndrome really does go too far, IMO.

So, what do you think? Would you hit another parent in a similar situation? Have you really really wanted to but stopped yourself? If you don't have kids or if they are too young at the moment, how do you think you would deal with this sort of thing?

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Well I couldn't put it off much longer...


So tonight, after work, I went out with my kit




Found a spot, tuned up and recorded the first thing I played, which turned out to be the start of a song I am writing. When finished, and recorded in the Rock Shed, it will be the greatest power ballad in Rock (Chef) history. It will!


I know the sound is rubbish (as you can see my amplifier that I carry around with me is very small) and the playing probably isn't much better, but you asked for it! Don't blame me!


Here it is...


Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Uh oh...

I can see I am going to get some terrible ribbing about this...

The weekend went great.

I got loads of work done on the V-bass, it is all put together with the new pickups, volume and tone controls and a little row of on/off switches for the pickups. It all works great, and sounds terrific.

Yesterday I sat down in the sitting room, propped the camera up and pressed record.

I played away for a little while, stopped it and pressed play. The camera had not recorded the sound very well, clearly being too far from the speakers.

So I moved around, put the camera closer to the speakers, turned up the volume and played again, fluffing it terribly. So I tried again and all seemed to go well.

It was only when I got her this morning that I realised my problem. You see I have found that the easiest way to do a vblog is to record something in one take, which becomes a single file on the DVD inside my recorder. I then just upload this file. Easy! But with all of my messing around yesterday I had not switched the camera off between takes, meaning that all I have is one huge file with all 3 takes on in, with no way of editing it! Argh!

So I can see that at least one person out there will be rubbing my nose in it very badly today. Still I can take it! I deserve it!

PS, as if to confirm Teresa's comment to this post (that I am having a contest along the lines of "how many excuses can I make to avoid doing a vblog of myself playing the guitar"), I went out at lunchtime to do one of myself with my battery amplifier, you know the one with the battery that died on me. I found a nice spot by the river, settled down, switched on the camcorder and, you guessed it, the battery was dead! I make that number 4 now...

Friday, 12 September 2008

The weekend!


I am Home Alone this weekend. Well not quite. I am Home Alone with the kids.


My wife is off to visit her dad for the weekend, leaving me to deal with the ravening hordes at home. She won't be back until some time Monday, so I booked the day off so I can see them off, do the dog and make sure the house isn't too much of a bomb site for when the Lady of the House returns.


The kids are a pretty good bunch, really, so long as I keep them supplied with food and drink they are happy to amuse themselves most of the time.


The plan is to fend off the kids long enough for me to get the router going on the V-Bass, making the holes the right size for the pickups. Then I can do the wiring, make sure it all works and do a temporary "not-very-pretty-but functional" job on it so I can play it and see if anything needs tweaking before I do the final work of permanently attaching the switches, nobs, pickups and, last but not least, the shiny metal plate on the front to hide the holes and wires and make it look mean!


Think Phil Lynott's guitar, but V-shaped:


Hey, he stole my strap!

If all goes to plan I will be posting a vblog of myself playing the V in its "not-very-pretty-but functional" form on Tuesday!


That is if all goes to plan...


If not, I will probably be posting a vblog of myself ranting about what has gone wrong...


Wish me luck!

Thursday, 11 September 2008

I had it all planned...

Things have been a bit hectic recently as we get ready for the new year at Uni, so I had planned a nice easy, one-braincell day.

I had saved up a pile of photocopying.

Don't laugh!

I know you all know what is coming next!

Yes, the day I want to just feed stuff into the copier it has decided to be a git.


You don't really want me to take that stuff in through the auto-feeder do you?

Oopsie, mis-fed again! Ha ha, can you find the paper? No, not there, look again! OK, you got one bit but there is another piece. Where is it? Not telling!

Don't look at me, you asked for it on pink paper! Yes you did, bitch!


So you see what I am having to contend with? I used to think of it as HAL, but no it is much more malicious than that...

Anyone seen the Stephen King movie "Maximum Overdrive"?




We should be in control of the machines, not the other way around!

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Bits and bobs...

Work on the V-Bass

I have got the new pickups and found that the existing holes for 2 of the pickups are not quite big enough and the 2 new holes that I painstakingly chiselled out are not quite right. I couldn't face yet more chiselling so I have invested in a ROUTER! This is a wonderful power tool that is designed for hollowing out bits of wood and it will make my life MUCH easier. It also means that there are likely to be more modified guitars in the future...

My Blog

Thanks to Jen, I have discovered the Follow feature. This allows me to have a list of my favourite blogs at the bottom of my own blog, showing which have got new posts. It has also allowed me to create a new section showing who is following MY blog, which I have rather naughtily called my "Groupies". I currently have two Groupies...

Guest Blogging

If you are checking blogs over the weekend, I have done a guest post for The Princess of the Universe which will appear on Saturday. Check it out - it will be an experience for you, shall I say?

Update: This has been published early, so you can go to the Princess's blog and scroll down to find it, if you really want to!

That's about it, really. If you haven't yet listened to my recording of myself on the guitar, please go back to the previous post "Rock and Roll" and follow the link.

More soon!

Monday, 8 September 2008

Rock and Roll

Well I felt so bad about my fiasco on Friday that I forced myself to get something done in the Rock Shed.

This track, if you can get it, is my version of something we used to do in a band I was in - we played it at the start of gigs to get our fingers going and make sure the sound was OK.

It is very rough at the edges, I had to settle for the first "not too horrible" takes, but I think it gives an idea of what I sound like. Bass, lead and rhythm guitars are all me, drums were done by the PC.

http://www.zshare.net/download/18386507339f426c/


PS Just had a call saying that the new pickups for my V-Bass have finally arrived! Yay! I can finally rebuild it and make it even more awesome that it was before! Stay tuned for photos...

Friday, 5 September 2008

The best laid plans of mice and men..

So, I grabbed my guitar and camera and set off purposefully into the rain...

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Lost...

A moment of silliness while walking the dog...

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

To the guys who set up those traffic lights yesterday

OK, don't get me wrong, I know that temporary traffic lights are a great invention - they stop people crashing into holes in the road that have been dug so that our drains etc can be fixed. They also help to prevent games of chicken when part of a road has been blocked off for some reason.

But why were those lights there? There was no hole! There was no digger waiting for tomorrow's digging! There wasn't even a pile of pipes waiting to be connected to the sewage system, eager to transport our bodily waste to the treatment centre! In fact the protected section of road was in immaculate condition. Perhaps this is a new way of stopping our roads wearing out so quickly?

Anyway so there were the lights in all their glory, guiding the traffic around a perfectly clear section of road. But you forgot one thing.

Can you remember what you forgot to do before you went home for dinner?

I am sure you can if you think hard enough.

No? Well I will tell you then.

You forgot to tell them that they should change colour from time to time - they don't work properly when set permanently to RED!

Monday, 1 September 2008

And we'll have fun fun fun...

'til her daddy takes the T-bird away....

Well it felt like that sort of weekend, anyway - a couple of days of great summer weather. If we celebrated Labour Day over here it would have been even better. We have August Bank Holiday, which was last Monday.

Saturday saw a bit of leisurely shopping followed by my barbecue - excellent sausages from the butcher and a pile of boneless pork chops that I marinaded in Regae Regae sauce, a Jamaican barbecue sauce. Wonderful! This was eaten with my home made bread rolls, salad and waffles, washed down with cold beer, sparkling wine, Coke, etc. The dog walk was something of an effort after that, let me tell you!

On Sunday I moved my PC into the Rock Shed (as I have now called it) and did a bit of test recording. Great fun! My test piece is a short instrumental that we used to play in one of my old bands as a intro at gigs. It is about half done - should be able to post it soon!

Life has been made a little more exciting recently by the return of my older son's best friend who spent the last year living in Spain. We thought he was coming back for a holiday but he then revealed that he is back for good! He has now moved in with us while his family gets sorted out with a new house, etc. We are all really pleased to see him back and the boys have been making up for lost time, playing computer games against each other until around 3am most nights! If I had a pound for each time I was woken by a cry of "Agh, you nuked my command centre"...

PS - Did you hear about the woman whose car broke down with a flat battery? She walked into a nearby building site and shouted "Can anyone jump me?" True story.

Friday, 29 August 2008

The weekend approaches

Well, didn't that week go fast! Amazing!

One of my readers seems to have detected a somewhat naughty undertone to my posts recently - I am sure she imagined it (cough cough), but I will do my best to keep things "decent" :-)

The kids go back to school next week, so Saturday will involve the last minute stuff that is always necessary - making sure they have all of the equipment that they need, pens, rulers, calculators, that sort of stuff.

Tomorrow is supposed to be really hot too, so we will be having a barbeque in the evening - looking forward to that, it is like a newly discovered hobby that everyone enjoys the results of. I am hoping that I can get hold of some nice pork that I can marinade, and maybe some more lamb chops. I did some lamb last weekend and it was amazing, so much better than when it is done in the oven. I will be doing home made bread rolls too, as they are so easy and taste so good. I am SO hungry right now!

I will also be moving my PC into the shed so that I can concentrate on doing some recording - using the computer to provide drums, I will be recording bass and guitar tracks. I won't be singing, though, that would be too much! When I get something presentable I will post it here for you to listen to.

Meanwhile, have a great weekend! I am off to get some lunch...

Thursday, 28 August 2008

DONG Power

It seems that some of the development of new energy sources for London has now been taken over by a Danish company called DONG Power.

Just thought I would share that with you all.

I wonder if they do t-shirts...

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

How hard can it be?


Red man - don't cross the road.


Green man - cross the road.

So why can't people do it properly? Every day I see people dashing across the street in front of trucks and buses, risking life and limb to save a few seconds of precious time. Don't they know how fragile life is? Is it really worth the risk?

Near where I live one of these crossings was installed on a nearby busy road after a young girl was killed by an 18-wheeler and there was a huge out-cry about how dangerous the road was and how we needed a crossing. We now have the crossing but I would think that around half of the people don't actually cross the road at this crossing, prefering to take a slightly shorter (50 yards at the most) route that is far more dangerous. Of those that actually cross at the crossing, most don't use it properly, including people with children who will grow up not knowing how to use the crossing, with the inevitable tragedy looming for at least one poor family. Agh!

But the drivers aren't much better! Many run the red lights, others don't attempt to slow down until the last minute so you stand there at the curb waiting for the dumb ass to stop before you step out. Then there are those who stop when their light is green, waving you across - when everyone else is still hammering along at 40mph - and get angry when you don't take them up on the offer!

How hard CAN it be?