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?

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Just another Manic Monday...

Well it is effectively Monday here, as yesterday was a holiday...

The day so far?

Woke up early, got out of bed late (heh hem), dashed to work, checked my blog, checked some other blogs but didn't have time to read them or comment (why is it that when you are short of time everyone seems to have posted a blog the size of War and Peace?), then hit the pile of work that was waiting for me!

Lunchtime I headed for town with my guitar on my back, checked the bank and found that we were richer than expected, so I grabbed lunch and then went and sat on the top of the mound that is in one of our local parks. I posted a pic of this a while back. I sat on top, eating lunch and playing a somewhat warped version of the Ray Charles song "Hallelujah I Love Her So". What I hadn't realised was that sitting on the other side of the memorial that is on top of the mound was an old couple who were visiting the town. I was very embarassed when they wandered around the corner and asked if they could take a photo so that when I was famous they could show people! I had to laugh!

Then back to work, a bit of time reading blogs and then more frantic work. Gah! Still, things are clearing now, just waiting for something to appear on my email and then I can go! Yippee!

Sorry for the crappy post!

Friday, 22 August 2008

The first record I ever bought

I loved music from an early age and by the age of 4 or 5 would sit and play piles of old records on an old mono record player - one of those old ones in a wooden box with an hinged lid and a speaker at the front. It had a long spindle that allowed you to stack up about 10 disks at once and drop a new one down when the previous song had finished. Ah, technology!

I would listen to The Beetles, Elvis, The Beach Boys, The Everly Brothers, Fats Domino, Tommy Steel, Bill Hayley and a load more that I have forgotten.

Then I started getting pocket money! My older brother realised that if he saved 2 weeks money he could afford a 45 (an old fashioned CD with one song on each side), so I started doing the same thing. I remember standing in the shop looking at the list of the top 30, trying to decide which song to buy. I remember narrowing it down to 2 songs - Robin Gibb's "Saved by the Bell" lost out to this one - Humble Pie's "Natural Born Boogie". The second one to sing is Peter Frampton, who some of you will have heard of even if you haven't heard of Humble Pie!

Have a good weekend! I have a half day today and Monday is August Bank Holiday, so back again on Tuesday! Hah!

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Checking out the Goodies

Also known as Counting My Blessings... Nothing to do with the old TV series...

Here I sit, feeling a little hung-over after an evening playing games and drinking whisky and ginger wine - whisky-mac as we call it. Whisky - doesn't look right for some reason, I keep thinking I have spelt it wrong. Oh well.

Anyway, back to the topic!

I thought today I would like to count a few of my blessings. Here goes.

My wife. What can I say? She is the most wonderful person I can imagine. I have no idea where I would be now without her. She is amazingly funny, intelligent and strong, a rock I can cling to when I think the world is going to sweep me away. We are still totally in love. And yes, we still "do it" ;-) *

My children. They are the centre of my world and everything revolves around them. When we lost our eldest daughter I almost died at the same time, but it was having the other three that gave me the strength to keep going, whether they know it or not. Every day I draw strength from the joy and terror of being a parent.

True friends. Whether they are face to face or blogger friends, my true friends are a real blessing - the ones who are still there when the world craps on your head, the ones who say "if there is anything I can do" and actually mean it, the ones who don't mind if you vent your spleen once in a while, even the ones who force you to drink another whisky-mac when you have already had too many and still have to cycle 5 miles to get home. A true friend is worth a million others, and I am blessed to have so many.

* This comment goes back to an old discussion we had about sex education for our children, and the inevitable, uncomfortable question: "Do you and mummy still do it?"

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

I WON!!!!

A while ago the delightful tz at Zimmerhouse recently ran a competition to name her regular Friday slot. The prize was to be a book that she thought the winner would enjoy.

To my utter astonishment I WON!

So, what book did tz choose for me?

Was I pleased with her choice?

I should say so!

I have never seen this book before, but it fits in perfectly with my interest in military history. In the past I have played some of the battles described in this book as wargames with my toy soldiers - Gettysburg and Shiloh at least, probably more.

So, what is the book like?

It is great! For each of the chosen battles, it describes the background behind it, what each army was trying to achieve, etc, a detailed and beautifully written account of the battle, an explanation of why the result of the battle was important and, finally, what you will find of you visit the battlefield now! What more could you want? Well perhaps a detailed list of which regiments were at each battle and how many men were in them at the time - but no, this is not what most readers will want, and this sort of thing is worth a book in its own right, which I happen to own already!

So, thank you so much, tz! I only hope that my choice of prize for my 888 competition is as good!

Monday, 18 August 2008

The 888 Contest

My scheduled post for 8/8/08 said that if 666 was The Number of the Beast, what was 888 the number of?

Here are the replies that I got, with a few comments:

tz said...
888 is the figure skater secret code...they lay in wait to take over the world and make us wear sequins. Bashing each other's legs in jealous rages is just a cover up.

Me: I loved this answer - have you seen Blades of Glory?

Jen said...
888 is the number of infinite!

Me: Yes it is! I had forgotten about 8 and the infinity symbol!

mindy said...
Number of the Racecar! Um, cuz it's like racecar tracks?

Me: I like that - reminds my of childhood, playing those racing car games!

Teresa said...
When I hear "888"...I actually hear "ate, ate, ate" and so then I think that it should be a national EATING day! Eat whatever you want and no fat or calories count that day! Oh yah, and it should happen on a weekly basis...yah...a weekly basis!

Me: This is really good! Not sure about weekly, but I guess it could be the 8th of each month, with a really big one on the 8th of August and a mega one in 2018! Yeah!

Kiki said...
8 happens to be my favorite number because when turned on its side it means infinity!!!

Me: Yep, I had missed the infinity link! This is good!

tz said...
Oh I'm so for Teresa's answer!

Me: Support for Teresa!

jenelle said...
It's the magical marketing number. The repetitive number used by the IOC to market the Olympics and gather great numbers of viewers and advertising dollars.

Me: Really? I have more or less ignored the Olympics so missed this one totally!

Claire said...
I am going with Teresa - for sure!!!

Me: More support for Teresa!

Sitting in Silence said...
888 is the cell phone number to Heaven...Some old dude once told me that you dial 666 for the devil and extension 888 for God.....I have heaven on quick dial...

Me: I really like this one. Dial 888 for God. I am going to want to try that now! :-)

Overall, though, I think I am going to have to choose Teresa's Ate Ate Ate answer as the winner - perhaps the day of Infinite eating? Now to find a prize - assuming she is willing to give me her address!

Tales of Fire, Wind and Rain...

Life returns to normal for a while - the Chief Rock Chef family has returned safely from its first camping expedition.

We arrived in good time and were able to set up camp very quickly and easily, then while everyone else settled in I took Custard for a wander around to check out the area, finding the local village with its small shop and absolutely wonderful butchers. This butcher was to keep us supplied with the most wonderful sausages, burgers, eggs, etc for the next couple of days. He even had a field full of geese in the field next door where you could pick your bird for Christmas!

The location was wonderful, the people really friendly and helpful, the weather, um, mixed, shall we say?

On the first night it rained - HARD. We lay in our tent watching the rivers of water running down the outside, wondering if and when it would start coming in. In the early morning we got a few drips, which was not bad - turning on the radio we found that we had just had about a third of the normal August rainfall in a single night!

The next day was mixed blistering sunshine and clouds. We all went for a walk into the village to do some shopping, and then ambled back for some rest in the sun.

OK, I am going to make a shocking confession: on this evening I had my very first experience of cooking over charcoal - yes, this was my first proper barbecue! We had rented an iron fire pit that had a metal grill over the top. I got brave and decided that instead of using the gas cooker that we had brought with us I would do dinner over the fire. I tried to remember all of the rules, letting the charcoal settle down to a steady glow and then started.

The results?

Amazingly good, if I say so myself. It was fantastic, everything well cooked inside and nicely brown on the outside with no black bits in sight! I was hooked.

Next day things started out a bit breezy, even where we were in the shelter of a hedgerow. Turning on the radio we found that there were 60 mph winds heading our way! So, off to the village for more supplies (including the most garlicy garlic sausage we have ever had - just enough meat to stick the garlic together....) and back to make sure our tent didn't take off. We had a couple of pegs pull free, but a combination of the hedgerow and our youngest who appointed himself as chief peg checker, we were OK, doing rather better than those who had chosen more exposed positions.

The wind more or less died down in the evening and we had a peaceful, if a little cold, night, returning home the next day.

We all had a great time, the farm having all sorts of stuff around - chickens, goats, bullocks, foxes (wild or course) to keep us amused, the challenge of the weather just seeming to add to the fun. Looking forward to more next year, as we are all totally hooked!

A few photos...

It rained...

Nice walks in the woods...

Our alarm clock - he started crowing at around 5am and carried on all day at random intervals until around 10.30pm!

My daughter thought Custard looked cold and gave him one of her blankets...

The English countryside...

"Look guys, I don't want to come into your field, OK?"

More English countryside...

The area is a bit short of flat ground - this soccer pitch was the least-flat one I have ever seen!


Friday, 15 August 2008


We should all be back from camping by now - will let you all know how it went after the weekend, so long as I have not had to blot our terrible memories of tents getting blown away, etc! :-)

I hope you have enjoyed my scheduled posts, it was fun putting them together!

I am also looking forward to seeing the answers to my 888 competition - if you haven't entered, please go back to the 8th of August post and put in your answer!

Thursday, 14 August 2008

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Monday, 11 August 2008

Sunday, 10 August 2008

Today is...

My Birthday! I am now 45!

(Comments along the line of "I would never have guessed" and "I don't believe it, you look so young" are very welcome).

Friday, 8 August 2008

Today is...

08/08/08, or 888!

If 666 is the Number of the Beast, what is 888 the number of?

A look at Google suggests that it is the Number of the Gambler. Hm, I wonder!

In fact, I wonder so much that I will make this a competition! My favourite suggestion for what 888 represents will get a mysterious prize! How about that?

I look forward to your answers...

Thursday, 7 August 2008

Today is...

Bruce Dickinson's birthday!

Run to the Hills, Bruce!

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Today is...

Gerri Halliwell's birthday!

Have a good one, Gerri!

Tuesday, 5 August 2008


Part 2 of my summer holidays starts tomorrow, back again on the 18th!

My break will include a bit of camping in our teepee, more work on my guitar and my 45th birthday (Happy birthday to me!), so plenty going on.

Have a good time, everyone. I shall return with new stories and photos for you to see.

PS I have set up a few scheduled posts for while I am away. Hopefully this will ease the pouting :-)

Monday, 4 August 2008

What HAVE I done?????!

A while ago I bought this guitar:

Some of you might remember.

I love the look of it but the sound left something to be desired, so I started dreaming of changing the pickups (the bits that detect the string vibrations and produce the sound - each one can be seen as 8 silver dots in the photo) so that sounds more like it looks.

My ideas grew - instead of just replacing the original 2 pickups I have not grand plans to add 2 more (Fender Jazz-style for those who know about these things, Zig), for a total of 4 pickups! This will be totally awesome.

So I have started work, drilling and chiselling away to make the holes needed to fit the new hardware:

What HAVE I done? THis had better work!

Friday, 1 August 2008

Windows Vista...

OK, this is daft.

How long does it take to burn a CD? On my Mac and the old XP machines we used to have it took a couple of minutes.

I have been putting around 200 mB of stuff onto a CD - making it about a third full - and just putting the data onto the disk has taken 25 minutes. Then I have to actually burn it so it can be used!


Have a good weekend! I hope to, once this CD is done...


Feeding time for the Moorhens

These little guys live in the pond in the middle of the University that I work at. There are 2 adults and two lots of babies here at the moment. One of my colleagues feeds them live bugs each day - no wonder they don't leave!

Have a great weekend, everyone. Not sure what I am up to, but I hope it will include a bit of tennis on Sunday!