Thursday, 31 July 2008

5 songs I am embarassed to like...

Kiki introduced me to this meme. I thought it looked like great fun, so here goes.

The first one is Bette Midler's "Wind beneath my wings", from the movie Beaches. This song and the movie really bring out the blubbing girl in me...

Next is Thin Lizzy's mega cheese-fest, "Dancing in the moonlight". It is the essence of the teenage crush...

Third is The Darkness, singing "Christmas Time". It is one of the greatest Christmas songs ever, IMO...

Nearly there. This one is Steps's version of "Tragedy". Oh so cheesy, but I can't help singing along. I have seen this lot live and they were so entertaining...

Finally, the boy from the valleys, Tom Jones singing Delilah. I don't do karaoki, but if this song was on the menu and I had a few beers inside me who knows...

Anyone else want to confess?

The photo in my last post

Just wanted to point out that the 3 men in the photo below are from a sitcom called "Last of the Summer Wine", which ran for many years. The man on the right is the voice of Wallace in Wallace and Gromit.

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Please help...

Look at these poor men.

Yesterday they were complaining that it was cloudy, cold for the time of year and threatening to rain.

Today they are complaining that it is too hot and that the lack of rain is bad for their gardens.

Sad, isn't it? You see, these men aren't just miserable gits! They, and millions like them, are suffering from:

Terminal Englishness

Typical symptoms include complaining about the weather no matter what it is like, endless tea drinking and, possibly worst of all, believing that England is the only place in the world that is important.

But it doesn't have to be like this!

With you help we can ship these people to new and distant lands, such as America, Canada and Australia, just like in the olden days, where they will be thought of as interesting eccentrics and be able to live out the rest of their lives without driving the rest of us totally insane.

Thank you!

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Random photos

One of me pretending to work, wearing the white shirt that the BBC requested. I don't really like wearing this sort of thing, but my wife liked it, so it is not all bad!

Custard stopping to pose for a photo while on one of our evening walks. What a handsome hound!

These last two are of the memorial garden where I often eat my lunch. Fat Jedi Cat is often here, sleeping or searching for a free lunch. Interestingly, the memorial is to those who died in the First World War, but the dates are 1914 -1919. The usual dates are, of course, 1914 - 1918. I can only assume that this memorial is also for those who took part in the Russian Revolution, trying to restore the Tzar. This is the only thing I can think of that could be thought of a part of the First World War that continued into 1919. Sorry if I got a bit nurdy again there, but I know some of you like it :-)

Monday, 28 July 2008

30 Degrees!

That what it is in my office right now! Loving it!

Had a totally fab weekend.

On Saturday we spent the day at our favourite seaside town, a short train trip down the coast. Great little shops, cliffs and a sandy beach that is a total sun trap. Laying on the beach we could have been almost anywhere, we could almost hear the sunbathers sizzling...

When we got there the tide was low, so the kids and I took our spades and dug out the biggest network of rivers and lakes ever. We even hooked it up with the one that the next family along was digging! Several other kids thought it was great and were splashing in the rivers, where the water was wonderfully warm for them.

Then the tide started to come in and we waded out into the cool waves, allowing them to break over us. It was fantastic.

That evening I had a little incident with a couple of the local kids. I was strolling along beside a wheat field with Custard when I heard a motor bike coming. Looking up I saw 2 kids on a rusty old motor bike hurtling towards me. Now I don't normally take much notice of this sort of thing (though I wish they would wear crash helmets and often tell them) but this time they hammered past really close with one of them shouting "get out of the f%&$ing way!"

I caught up with them at the end of the path, as they were turning around and swapping places, telling them not to tell me to "get out of the f£$%ing way!" One, pointed to the other and said it was him. I looked. HAH! I knew him! We have history! The whole damn neighbourhood has history with him and his family! Good! You see, the Police have been collecting information about what this family gets up to, so when I got home I phoned them up and told them about the illegal bike riding and the abusive language. Not much on its own but it is all part of the pile of complaints that might actually end up getting us somewhere...

Sunday was just as hot, if not hotter. After a trip to the supermarket to stock up on food (the kids are on holiday now, so it is like feeding a plague of locusts) I had a bit of time in the garden and then made dinner - home made fried chicken wraps with salad. Yummo!

Friday, 25 July 2008

Where did the week go?

It is Friday again, and I have no idea where the week went to!

I am hot. My office is currently 29 C, which is good for here. It was even hotter earlier when we had the TV cameras here with spot lights blasting in our faces! FAME!!!! Hah! Luckily I had very little to say to the cameras, I was making the computer do its stuff instead. Even so, with the heat and constant retakes I found it very tiring.

It reminded me of when I was in bands - we would go out and do gigs, playing away, everything went OK because it HAD TO. You can't stop half way through a song and say "Sorry, fluffed it a bit there, can I start again?" You keep going. When we did stuff in studios it was totally different. "Guitar solo, take 35", or "Lead Vocal, take 47" was the order of the day. That was tiring, especially when my 2 takes of bass had been done 3 hours ago! :-(

Anyway, the weekend looks like being just as good as it is now, so woo hoo! Might even go for a splash in the sea! That will wake me up! Then maybe a bit of sitting in the garden, playing guitar with the headphones on while downing a few cold beers. Ooh yeah!

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, 24 July 2008


This lunchtime I decided to sit outside my regular eating hole, the one run my the escaped New Yorker. A while back Kiki asked if his sandwiches were good, as New York has a reputation to live up to.

I think they are great. Here is a picture of the Olympic Burger Delux that I had today:

And it tasted even better than it looked! I am now totally stuffed.

Fun and games tomorrow. A couple of us are being filmed for a short BBC feature on the possible effects of sea level rise on our part of the world. We are producing maps to show the areas under threat. Interesting stuff.

Finally, if you don't already read Terri's wonderful blog, please drop by there. She is about to do the most wonderfully selfless thing I can imagine. She and her family are in my thoughts and prayers.

Have a wonderful day!

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Hot nights

How did that line in "Good Morning Vietnam" go?

"It's hot and it's wet! That's great when you're with a lady, but not when you're in the jungle..."

Something like that, anyway!
Well the last couple of night have been a bit like that here - hotter and more humid than normal.
I love it hot, I must admit. My wife doesn't.
We flopped on the bed.
I soon dozed.
The next thing I knew the fan was blasting across the bed, wonderfully cooling but sounding like a the Enola Gay preparing for take-off.
Cooler than before, I dozed again.
Then I am being shaken.
"Do you mind if I turn the fan off? I can't sleep, it is too noisy."
The fan goes off.
I doze again.
Shaking again.
"Is the window open? It is really hot."
"Yes, they are all open. It is hot, isn't it, lovely."
"No, it's horrible, I can't sleep."
I doze again.
"Do you want a drink?"
"OK." I down a glass of blackcurrant.
I doze.
"What time is it?"
"Five to two."
I doze.
"Shit, it's a quarter past seven!"
"What? No! Shit!"
Where did the night go? My body complained as I dragged it into the bathroom and threw cold water over it, feeling more tired than I had when I went to bed.

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

The rest of my break

My last post summarized most of my time off, but missed out on the bits on either side!

The first Saturday was our party to celebrate what would have been my eldest daughter's 21st birthday. We went shopping on the Thursday to get in the supplies, then started preparing some of the food on the Friday. Saturday morning we were up with the lark (a good old English phrase!) and cooking stuff for the party. I did things like mini pizzas and fried chicken wraps, while my wife did amazing things with puff pastry.

The weather was OK, cloudy but not cold or raining, and gradually cleared so that my about 3pm it was blazing sunshine.

Doors were open at 12 o'clock. Things started slowly, with a few people drifting in and out, but by around 2.30 it was mayhem - I don't think our little house has ever had so many people in it! Things then slowed down, with the final guests drifting away at about 8 o'clock.

Then it was balloon time. Every year we end the day by releasing a balloon each, so at around 8.30 we released a selection of Winnie the Poohs, Piglets and Eeyores into the darkening sky, watching them drift off in the breeze.

As an intriguing side note it seems that one of the balloons that we released last year caused a UFO incident! Someone took a photo of it a few miles to the East and submitted it as a sighting! I can hear Sophie laughing at that right now!

We all had a great day, remembering our daughter in a way that she would have loved.

Winding forward to the next weekend, we were invited to the birthday party of an old friend of ours. It involved a short train trip to a nearby town that we have never really visited. Before leaving I looked up where we were going on Google Maps and found the route.

Some of you will know that I do not have a good reputation when it comes to finding my way around. This reputation was in evidence on Sunday as we left the train station, with me boldly leading the way and the kids immediately declaring that we were lost! After a few minutes of this I told the kids that I knew exactly where we were, but the protests continued. So I looked around, saw a local and told him what street we were looking for. He confirmed that we were indeed on the right track!

In your face, doubting child! Daddy knows what he is doing! Hah, my reputation is being restored. Sort of. Sometimes you just can't win, can you? Why didn't I get Google Maps to plan a route for me? Why didn't I print it out so we could all see where we were going?

Next time, next time I will surrender the role of navigator - someone else can do it, I will just tag along and deny all responsibility...


I DID enjoy being right, though, just this once...

Monday, 21 July 2008

A few photos...

Lock and Load! CRC is ready to clean up!
I did my week as Mr Mom, while my wife did her "Biggest Loser" week of insane exercise. She did jogging, yoga, weights, cross-trainer, cycling (10-20 miles a day)...
The result?
The house ran smoothly and my wife lost 5 pounds, with -1 inch to the butt, -2 inches to the waist, +2 inches to the bust. Sounds like a result to me!
I also took to carrying my camera with me..
This butterfly was one of several hundred that I found swarming over a hedgerow.

This is a "wild" rabbit that I saw while walking Custard. He was only about 6 feet from me but felt save - probably because of the 8 foot chain fence that was between us!

More sunsets...

And finally, talk about stating the obvious...

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

See you soon!

Miss you already!

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Stage Fright

The first time I played guitar in public I was 15. A drummer that I had met once turned up saying his band had to play 3 songs at his church concert that afternoon, and their bass player had bailed on them. I went along, learned the songs and played that afternoon. As the curtains parted I was so nervous I thought I was going to wet myself, but all went well.

Fast forward nearly 30 years.

So there I was, sitting on the grass, guitar in hand, mini amp at hand, camcorder resting on a low wall. I knew the tune inside out. I knew the notes. It is not a dificult tune to play. Could I play the notes in any sort of order that Deanna Durban would have recognised?


Every time I got close to finishing without messing up "From the mountains, to the prairies" I thought of one of my readers sitting and watching me play, and my fingers had a major spazz attack.

I felt like I was 15 again.

Without the urge to pee myself - one blessing I guess!

Maybe tomorrow, huh?

Monday, 7 July 2008

Summer Plans

Just thought I would let you all know when I will be vanishing this summer.

My first break will be starting this Thursday, back on 21 July. This time will be spent preparing for and having our party to celebrate what would have been my eldest daughter's 21st, and then going into a week as house husband again. My wife has been steadily dieting for the last few months but has now hit a point where nothing seems to be happening. The other evening we were watching The Biggest Loser and she said that she would love to have a week where all she had to think about was dieting and working out. So that is what she is getting next week, I will be doing all of the normal stuff while she gets to go nuts. Should be an interesting week!

My next break will be from August 6 to 18, including our camping trip. This should be an "experience", especially given the latest weather forecasts for the summer - basically we have had it already, and we could be looking at another really wet one! I think we will be selecting our pitch carefully...

More soon, I am not vanishing quite yet!

Friday, 4 July 2008

Happy 4th of July!

Well today is the day when the Rebel scum in the Americas declared independence from the wonderful British Empire.

Good for them, too!

The Empire did very little that was good for the world! All it has done for us in the long term is make us think we are more important than we really are, so while the country is sliding down a very slippery slope we are spending millions on new aircraft carriers that will have very little use when they are done. But they will look good and people can carry on deluding themselves that Britannia still rules the waves!

I will be celebrating along with you all, as we are all going to a big barbeque tonight. The weather is perfect and the host is one of the best I know, so we are in for a great evening.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Praying for Victory!

Toy soldier time again!

A new game that I have started playing requires every army to have a "camp", to represent the army's baggage, followers, etc, which can be raided and pillaged by the enemy if you are careless.

This is the camp for my Crusader army, featuring monks praying for victory - a feature of more than one battle at this time!

Now the Turks need a camp. This will feature tents, goats and camels, among other things!

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

A blast from the past

Yesterday I bought a bottleneck, for playing blues slide guitar. Had great fun with it and started remembering songs that I grew up with. This is one of them - The Allman Brothers, playing Statesboro Blues...

If this doesn't get you tapping your foot and muttering "Alright", nothing will!

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Custard - Superdog!

As I was on my way home from work last night, approaching home, I passed a family that seemed to be in some distress. As I drew level the mother asked me if I had seen a dog running loose. I hadn't but stopped and asked about it, took note of their address, and said I would keep my eyes open.

Two hours later, it was time to walk Custard, my trusty hound. As we left home he seemed to know where he wanted to go, so I tagged along. We came to a point where you have the choice of following the road or taking a path that runs between 2 wheat fields. Custard normally wants to go through the fields, but not tonight, so we followed the road.

A few hundred yards further there is a gap in a fence, which leads you onto another path that runs between 2 other wheat fields. We very rarely go this way, but Custard wanted to go that way, so I followed. A few yards into the field there was a rustling in the crops, and what should appear? The missing dog! I was amazed! Somehow, Custard had lead me straight to him.

I ended up carrying the missing dog (a 10 month old Staffordshire Bull Terrier) back to its home, with it licking my face the whole time. The family was delighted to see him and set about calling the Police, vets, etc to say that he was back.

Good deed done, we carried on with our walk.

When we got home I told everyone what had happened and the kids decided that Custard was a true hero, fussed him and gave him treats.

Is it just us, or is Custard a Superdog?