Monday, 30 June 2008


Well we had wonderful weather over the weekend, and today is another SCORCHA, as the lower grade new papers would say.

Had a great weekend, including a day out shopping on Saturday where my daughter went to the make-up department of one of the big shops here and had a "free" make-over. I say "free" because afterwards we bought her a new set of concealer, foundation and brush that made it anything but "free". But it was worth it, she had a great time and the new "look" is really good.

While all this was going on, I took the boys to the computer game shop and then off for something to eat - we all pigged out while the girls weren't looking and making us feel guilty :-)

Sunday was just as good, except the food was more healthy but just as delicious - a fabulous chicken salad with baby new potatoes, vinaigrette dressing, etc. Hmmmm! Then, in the evening, just to ruin it all, I made a huge strawberry trifle. Hmmmmmmm! So bad but so GOOD!

Today I had to go to the bank in my lunch break. The queue was massive and there were only two and a half people on the tills!

As I neared the front of the queue I turned to the guy behind me:

"I was 16 when I joined this line."

"I was conceived here."

"Oh, I wondered what those noises had been, but you don't like to look do you?"

Then the girl in front of me went to the counter - can I have some money, I don't know my account number, I don't have any proof of who I am, but I want to go shopping. After several days of questioning the cashier was happy that she was who she said she was but then found that she didn't have any money in her account to withdraw! Oh, I should have some money...

Then it was my turn to get served, so I never found out what happened to her. I think she probably got lynched by the rest of the customers!

Have a great Monday everyone!

Friday, 27 June 2008


The Macho Man Randy Savage - what a character, eh? Used to be my favourite wrestler!

Anyway, enough of that. Earlier this week I managed, by pure "right place, right time" luck, to get a Wii Fit.

This is a wonderful little board that connects to the Wii and allows you to do a range of exercises and monitor your weight, BMI, balance, posture, etc.
The kids absolutely love it, and have spent hours doing all sorts of exercises on it. My youngest has been a real star on it. When we first got it he had been a bit worried about his belly, where he has always had a little bit of a podge. Since we got this, combining the Wii with avoiding chocolate and unnecessary snacking he has lost 3 pounds! He is so proud of himself! He certainly seems to be setting the pace! I have yet to try it out, but hope to get a chance over the weekend - we will see!
Anyway, have a wonderful weekend. The weather here is supposed to continue to be wonderful, which is great - I love the sun!
See you soon!

Thursday, 26 June 2008

Good vibrations

Weren't The Beach Boys fab?

Anyway, I am NOT blogging about The Beach Boys! I just wanted to say that life is feeling very good right now.

The weather is fantastic.

Somehow I am going to be a little bit richer each month - not sure how that happened, but it is always good!

I have decided that I am not having as much guitar time as I would like, so I have brought one of my guitars in to keep at work, along with stuff so I can listen through earphones. This particular guitar is very nice to play but gets very little use at home. I tried it out this lunchtime, sitting in the Cathedral grounds, melting my own ears but happy that I was not disturbing anyone else. Great fun.

Finally, my eldest was taken on a special school trip as a reward for being one of the best achievers in the school. They went to Chessington World of Adventures, one of our best theme parks. He came back and told us about the rides. He described them in intricate detail - e.g. the one where you are on a railway doing loops and stuff and the seats rotate so sometimes you are looking forwards, sometimes backwards, sometimes sideways - I got scared just listening to him - then he would say something like "we did that one 4 times!" Wow, I was (am) such a chicken when it comes to things like that!

Tonight I am off to dinner with some of my colleagues to say farewell to one of the guys who is retiring. We are going traditional: curry and beer! I can get a lift home if I indulge too much, so don't worry about my crashing into a ditch singing "Surfing USA" because I am drunk!

Have a nice day!

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Time Wasting

A rather pointless video blog...

Meanwhile, I found this wonderful map on the web - I know there are people out there who will like it! :-)

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Fame! I'm gonna live for ever!

Well, not really. But I will be famous for about 5 seconds!

Remember these pictures?

I showed them to a friend and he suggested that I send them to the weather girl at the regional TV station, who has a slot where she shows pictures of the local area. Well, this morning I got an email from her thanking me for the photos and saying that she was going to feature them on tonight's show!

Who would have thought it?

Monday, 23 June 2008

At's a....TIN OF BEANS!

On Sunday we all went to the local school Fete. It is a fun event, with the usual mix of bouncy castles, coconut shies, bombolas, hot dogs, burgers, etc.

We always head for the tombolas - buy a ticket and the number ends in a 0 or a 5 you win a prize. My eldest daughter used to love these (I think her favourite one was when we were visiting Paignton Zoo and she spent around £25 to win 2 small cuddly toys), so we always hit them hard in her memory. We spent a fair amount (but as it all goes to the school we don't really care) and did very well, winning a range of prizes from tins of beans to a body-scrub and lotion set that my younger daughter had wanted to win right from the start. We then had a bit of a swapping session with some of my daughter's friends - they had won things that they did not really want so we exchanged them for things we had one, such as a nail polishing kit and a drawing set. Everyone ended up happy.

Youngest son also won a coconut, hitting it with his first throw. He was very pleased with himself for doing that as everyone else was missing by miles!

Then we hit the burger stall and sat around eating for a while before heading for home. It made a great afternoon, the weather being OK, warm and windy.

Mentioning the coconut shy reminded me of Saturday! We went for a family stroll along the beach and stopped for ice creams. As we finished we went down to the shoreline and started throwing stones into the sea. At some point I made one skip and the kids were all "Hey, how did you do that?" Then I suddenly realised that I have never taught them how to skip stones! Horrified at my terrible parenting I quickly gave them lessons, assuring them that it took me years to learn. My inability to skip stones can now be put down to my dyspraxia, though, as within minutes all 3 kids were sending pebbles skipping across the waves, my youngest managing 5 bounces with one of his stones.

Sunday dinner included sweet potato, which we all love. On Sunday, though, we had a GIANT one, so big it did all 5 of us! It is sold under the name of Spudzilla ("spud" being slang for potato over here). It was huge and had the big advantage that it was much quicker peeling one big one that a load of little ones. I got to wondering how big sweet potatoes are elsewhere - are they normally like Spudzilla? Are what we think of as "normal" (about fist-sized) runts that no-one else wants? Enquiring minds want to know!

Hope you all had a great weekend and are having a good Monday!

Friday, 20 June 2008

For Brady

Kenady's little boy has decided that he wants to be a dinosaur rider when he grows up. This reminded me of an old wargames army of mine, which comes from a fantasy Lord of the Rings type world. They are the Lizardmen!

At one time this triceratops carried cavemen, but at some point they became Lizardmen. I think it still works, though.

Veloceraptors provide back-up...

...while dino-riders guard the flanks...

...and pterodactyl riders fly top gun.

Hope he likes them

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Thunderbirds are GO!

I wasn't intending to actually talk about Thunderbirds today, but once I had typed in the title, the image followed and then I just had to talk about the TV show!

Thunderbirds was one of my favourite TV shows when I was a child. I loved it, bad plots, strings and all. I guess it was a sign that I would later enjoy such movies as Airplane, Hotshots, Undercover Brother and Team America.

I had most of the toys too, except for Lady Penelope's car, which I thought was a girl's toy. My pride and joy was my metal Thunderbird 2, which by some strange accident was blue. I knew it was wrong, but I still loved it. A couple of years ago I was watching a TV show about collectible toys - my blue Thunderbird 2 is now an incredibly valuable collector's item, as it seems that only a few were sent out before someone realised the mistake and they changed them to green. My toy is, of course, long gone :-(

Anyway, on to the real subject of this post - we have finally been able to book up for a short camping trip in August, using our new tent. If all goes well we will go again before the end of the summer. Should be great fun, so long as we don't run into too many thunderstorms. Whatever happens I am sure it will be an "experience" for the kids...


This leads me into a meme that Kiki tagged me for. Given that the cost of travel is rising sharply, more and more people are opting to stay at home for their holidays instead of jetting away to somewhere exotic. This was pointed out on the local radio this morning when it was stated that this summer looks like being the start of the return of major British tourism to our area. Years ago, the south and east of England was a major destination for British holidaymakers, headed for a traditional seaside holiday. Cheap holidays in the Mediterranean squashed that, but the wheel is turning again...

Anyway, the meme asks what you do or would do if you stayed at home for a holiday. This is easy, as this is exactly what we have done for the last couple of years!

Main activities are:

Day trips along the coast to a lovely seaside town that has SANDY BEACHES, cute little shops and the best bakery around.

Walks with the dog, often involving a picnic on the beach. The kids often ride their bikes on these walks

Trips to the local seafront to play the slot machines - during the winter, we save up our small coins in a big bottle for these trips.

Dinner at a rather good but very cheap Chinese restaurant that we know.

Fake barbecues cooked in doors on our George Foreman grill.

Endless ice cream with all sorts of stuff chucked on top.

I think that pretty well covers it! Relaxation, time with the family and a lot of fun. You don't have to go to Spain for that!

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Thank You

I would just like to say a quick thank you for your comments on my last post. Sharing really does seem to help and it is just great to know that you guys are out there. When I started blogging I really was a bit of a mess and I know that I would not have made the progress that I have made without my wonderful blogger friends. Thank you all so much!

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

3 Years Ago Today...

We lost our daughter.

There is still a lot of pain, a lot of anger, a lot of emptiness. She was a huge part of our world that suddenly vanished.

I miss her smile, huge and full of joy.

I miss her laugh, loud and cackling.

I miss the softness of her hands.

I miss her strange mix of TV viewing - Jerry Springer, CSI, horror movies, South Park and Winnie the Pooh.

I miss the way she enjoyed good food.

I miss the way she got so excited at Christmas, not being able to sleep even when she was 16, and the way she shook with excitement when opening her presents.

I even miss the arguments - boy, could she hold down an argument! After our experiences with her the others haven't got a chance, we are battle-hardened veterans!

And I miss the way at the end of a day out or at college she would have to tell us every single detail of her day.

I miss her so much. But I also know that she is now in a wonderful place where the problems of the world cannot touch her and, when the time comes, we will all be together again.

Monday, 16 June 2008

Weekend stuff

Thursday afternoon saw me feeling the onset of something nasty - sore throat, sneezing, headache, weakness, that horrible "shrunken eyes" feeling - yuck!

Friday morning found me having trouble moving, worse than the day before, with bright light hurting my eyes. I stayed in bed.

By lunchtime I dragged myself out of bed, went down stairs to eat, drink, watch a movie. The movie was Balls of Fury - totally dumb but a good laugh, featuring sudden death table-tennis, where the loser was killed. A classic case of "dad's stupid movies". By evening I wanted to make the pizzas as usual, but gave up, the effort was too much, so my wife made them instead. They were wonderful.

Saturday I felt a bit better, but stayed at home while the others went in to town. I did a bit of painting, watched another movie (Team America, a movie that goes out of its way to be "wrong" in every imaginable way), ate and drank. My wife bought me a bottle of Drambuie, which is great for dealing with colds and things - it might not actually cure you, but who cares after a shot of that stuff!

Sunday was Father's Day. Everyone had a little present for me, even Custard our dog. It was a great day. I felt much better so we took our new teepee/tent to the local football field to set it up. It is huge, around 15 feet across and sets up really easily. Really looking forward to getting out camping now, it is going to be a blast!

In the afternoon we went to the cinema to see the new Indiana Jones movie, which my wife had cleverly made us miss so far. It was the perfect movie for the day, I loved it. I had heard all sorts of comments from critics on the TV and after seeing the movie I actually wondered if they actually watched the movie they were slating, and whether they had actually seen the first three as well? Was there even the slightest chance of them enjoying the movie? In at least some cases I am sure the answer to these questions was a big NO! I loved it

The day ended with kebabs all round - I had a huge one with chilli sauce all over it - I had been ill, after all, and I needed my strength for the coming week.

Hope you all have a great Monday!

Thursday, 12 June 2008


While reading Terri's excellent post about nostalgia, I remembered a story that my grandfather used to tell us when we were little.

When he was very young (we are talking before the First World War here) he lived with an old woman who had sort of adopted him, this was always very vague and I don't think anyone now knows the full story. She was not very kind to him and he more or less hated her. She had very poor eye sight, which has a big bearing on the story.

Anyway, my grandfather and his younger brother were playing in the garden while the woman cooked dinner - some sausages. Being very poor she cooked the food over the fire, not having a proper cooker.

Anyway, the boys were playing around and one of them found a dead rat. Not having much in the way of toys, they started playing with it, throwing it higher and higher and catching it again. Then one of them threw it and it didn't come back down again - they didn't know where it had gone.

A while later, the woman called them in for dinner. In they went. Then something caught the eye. There, in the frying pan, was the dead rat, now thoroughly cooked. It had fallen down the chimney!

Suddenly not hungry, they ran for their lives. But the woman never talked about it, so my grandfather's only conclusion was that she must have eaten the rat along with the sausages, not being able to see the difference.

He used to cry with laughter when telling us this story, I guess it was his one victory over that old woman.

Hope you haven't got sausages for dinner!

Shopping for girlie stuff...

Today is our anniversary - 23 years together, 7 years married.

Yesterday lunchtime I went out to buy one of my wife's presents, a pink grapefruit set from The Body Shop. I strolled in and, whammo, the sales assistant was there, telling me what a great set it was and if I was to spend a few pounds more I would also get a free gift set.

No thanks, I have got what I came for.

Maybe there is someone else that you could get a gift for.

No, not really, not right now.

How about something for yourself, do you use any of our men's product ranges?

This made me smile.

Do I look like a guy who uses "products"?

Well, yes. (Smile)

If I hadn't known better I would have thought that this girl, young enough to be my daughter, was hitting on me. All she really wanted, of course, was the sale.

But if you don't we do a great range. Don't you use any face moisturiser, or anything like that?

Very rarely, my current bottle is around 5 years old and it was half empty when my wife passed it on to me.


Having escaped from her, I headed to the checkout.

Do you realise that if you spent an extra few pounds you would also get a free gift set?

I had to laugh.

You are BAD PEOPLE, do you know that? No wonder my daughter spends so much when she comes here! Thank you, but this is all I want. You are BAD PEOPLE.

PS Just saw this story:

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

A walk on the beach

Last night I took Custard for a walk along the beach.

The beach with its pier - once the second longest in Britain!

This is the former end of the pier, with what used to be a cafe now sitting all alone, nearly a mile out to sea. The pier was badly damaged by a storm in the 1980s and the powers that be decided to demolish it rather than fix it. A bad move, I think.

Part of our offshore wind farm. The smaller things are further out and are called "The Forts". They were build during World War 2 and had anti-aircraft guns for shooting down German bombers as they flew up the River Thames to bomb London. Later some were taken over by pirate radio stations.

We have a lot of beach huts here. Want one? It will cost you around £8,000 - say $15,000?

We pebbles on our beach, so shoes are very useful. My kids call these my "crazy-man shoes".

Our sunsets are supposed to be some of the best in the country - something to do with the sun shining through the pollution over London.

On a good day, like this one, you can see the town that is on the other side of the Thames Estuary. These buildings just seem to rise up out of the sea, sometimes you can see them sometimes not. Perhaps it is really Atlantis. If so, is Patrick Duffy there?

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

What do you get...

What do you get if you cross an elephant with a box of laxatives?




Monday, 9 June 2008

At last...

Well I finally did it. Don't blame me, you all kept asking for it!

All I have to do now is play guitar for you all! Watch this space, I guess!

Have a great Monday.

PS Don't forget Fat Jedi Cat's blog is still active...

Friday, 6 June 2008

Music to wake up to!

Each morning, just as I am about to get up, this song comes on the radio. I love it - sounds like SUMMER!

Hope you enjoy it!

Thursday, 5 June 2008

Here comes summer (I hope!)

I went shopping at lunchtime and bought this tent (pic from the online catalogue, so those people are not us):
We intend to use of for a couple of short camping trips this summer. Big enough for all of us, including Custard, I think it will be great fun.
I have been making progress on my Hannibal wargames project - here are some of the Romans that will be fighting him:

As a guide to size, the squares that the soldiers are standing on are 20mm or 3/4 of an inch across. I a very pleased with them so far and each unit that I paint looks better than the last one. The army has almost doubled in size since I took this picture, so I will post another one fairly soon. Then I have to start on Hannibal's army, of course!

Back to the title of this post - the weather seems to be clearing up again, the rest of the week and weekend look like being good. I am glad about this as I am getting tired of being rained on and we will be able to practice setting up the tent. My wife has the idea that if we train ourselves we should be able to arrive at a camp site, get set up really quickly and have the food going before anyone else notices us. She does not want us to be the family that creates a spectacle by having trouble setting up or having our tent collapse on us! Will let you know how we get on...

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Fat Jedi Cat - The Movie!

This is partly a test to see if I can upload my videos and partly to show that Fat Jedi Cat also enjoys Chicken Quesadilla - well the chicken part anyway!

Tuesday, 3 June 2008


Things are a bit odd at the moment - can't really focus on what to write. The approach of the 3rd anniversary of my daughter's death is really playing on my mind, not an easy time.

Posts and comments might be less frequent for a while - please bear with me!