Thursday, 30 April 2009

All revved up

and no place to go!

Due to unforeseen circumstances, my meeting and game on Sunday are now off.

So what to do now?

Mrs RC and I had planned the day out to meet my friend and his wife - we would play our games and then head off for lunch.

So what do we do?

Do we just treat it as another Sunday?

Or do we go out anyway? It has been a long time since we had a day just for ourselves. The kids will be OK, they were all prepared for us to be out anyway...

The weather is looking good. We could go for a ride on our bikes, have a picnic on the beach or in the woods or on clifftops overlooking the sea.

Sounds good to me. But should we do it? Is this selfish? Should we have a family day instead?



After reading the initial comments, I suggested the bike ride and picnic to Mrs RC and she thought it was a great idea. We are heading out along the coast and seeing how far we can get. Should be fun.

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Missing the obvious...

This Sunday is the day that I was supposed to meet a friend at Hastings to play toy soldiers. Due to transport problems we moved the location to Canterbury which was easier for both of us.

Then I had to find somewhere for us to play the game.

Needed picnic bench or something similar to set up the game on.

I have spent 3 lunch hours looking. City gardens? No. Cathedral grounds? No. Anywhere else? No.

Ah, idea!

The Uni owns some gardens nearby that have benches. Chatted to security. Better clear it with people in high places or we might get thrown out when they see us on the CCTV. A lot of emails and no real guarentee that the guards will know that we are OK...


Heading back to my office.

Into the quad by the pond...

(Photo taken from the window behind our copier)

Who put those there? Isn't that the perfect spot?

When did those appear?

How did I miss them?


Tuesday, 28 April 2009

A bit of black humour

Number 1 Son came home from school yesterday. He had been out running in the rain and was sure he had got Swine Flu.


He had 2 symptoms.

1 - He felt ill.

2 - He was eating like a pig. Geddit? Pig? Swine? Oh, please yourself...

Monday, 27 April 2009

Monday lunchtime...

OK, had cake for lunch, tanked up on the caffeine and now feeling much more up-beat!

Took a couple of pictures of my Normans and Saxons...

Well, I will show them if Blogger lets me...

This is Harold, looking a bit like Hulk Hogan...

These are Huscarls, the reall tough-guys of the Saxon army.

Less tough Saxon rabble...

Finally, the goose-stepping Norman knights coming to conquer our green and pleasant and grey and damp land!

Monday morning...


That is all I can say!

I feel exhausted for no particular reason.

The weather is grey, windy and damp, but not damp enough to do the garden much good.

Even getting back an amazing mark for an assignment didn't lift me out of it.

I think it is this Swine Flu that is bugging me. Am I the only one who thinks that this could be really nasty? Views seem to switch backwards and forwards on the news - this will be the nastiest thing since 1919 - this is just another type of flu and we have drugs to fight it - actually the drugs aren't going to save any lives, but if you do catch it they will make you feel a big better...

I think that my problem is that I just read a great book called "World War Z", about a Zombie plague that spread in a way just like this amid the same statements from the powers that be...

We will see. I hope the "we will be OK" gang are right!

Friday, 24 April 2009

Friday stuff

Friday already? Where did that week go? It is a mad blur of completing my last assignment for the year (just 2 exams to go now), rescuing students who are on the last stages of submitting dissertations, playing wargames, walking the dog and falling into bed at night!

The weather has been wonderful for the last few days, but unfortunately there is the threat of rain for the weekend. Shame, as we were hoping to get out for some tennis. Mrs RC likes seeing me running around in shorts... ;-)

I was also hoping to do a barbecue and make a load of my Rockin'Reggae Pasta Salad. Maybe I will organise it anyway and we can eat indoors if necessary.

Let's hope that the forecast is wrong as usual!

Oh, I took some photos of my finished Saxon and Norman soldiers and was going to post them, but the pics came out too gloomy for some reason. I will do some more over the weekend and post them on Monday.

I also realised that I haven't played a guitar in far too long - must be over a week! Think I will have to get out The Baby, crank up the amp and have a blast...

Have a great weekend.

I hope the sun shines where ever you are.

Winter is SO last season...

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Educational conversations - of sorts...

At lunch. Names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Tinky-Winky: I laid the table. La-La just sat there reading. [Unfortunately, as Tinky-Winky still had a bit of food in his mouth, "sat" came out as "sh@t".]

Po: Eeewww! You sh@t at the dining table?

Dipsy (trying to take the conversation away from poop): Isn't "chat" French for Dog or Cat or something?

Po: Yes, it means "Cat". As in "the bl$$dy chat from next door sh@t in our flower pots again".

Dipsy: Oh, Po!

Po: OK, but you will never forget the French word for Cat, now, will you?
La-La: Po, you are a terrible influence...

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Pasta Salad

Don't get me wrong, I love pasta in some dishes - lasagne, carbonara, a good boulognese, etc will see me drooling.

But to me, pasta salads are an abomination. I detest them with a passion!

Or I did!

Last night I ended up playing around with my food, mixing everything together and came up with something that was utterly wonderful. I share it here for your pleasure.

Rockin' Reggae Pasta Salad

Mix together:

Shredded Chicken
Pasta (twist, bows, etc)
Shredded lettuce
Red onion
Sweet Corn
Whole baby tomatoes

Now add a good splash of balsamic vinegar

Now add a good squirt of Reggae Reggae Ketchup

Mix the lot together.

Fall in love with pasta salad!

I am going to be making a load of this next time we have a barbeque, probably without the chicken...

Monday, 20 April 2009

DAMN TRAINS!!!! ARGH!!!!!!!!!

It has been planned for months!

I have been painting the soldiers for it for months!

In 2 weeks time I was supposed to be travelling to Hastings to meet an old Canadian wargaming friend of mine at the site of the battle, and refight that battle with my toy soldiers.

What now?

Well, the powers that be have closed the main connecting line from here to there on that day.

Journey time is now ridiculous, and the journey seems to go via Moscow!

We are now trying to rearrange it all, but it looks like refighting the Battle of Hastings at Hastings is now impossible :-(

GRRRRRR!!!!!!!! This wouldn't happen anywhere else!

Thursday, 16 April 2009

The Guilt...

It has been a long time since the town had one of these places. There was one once, but it was closed down. It is the sort of place that you know you should stay away from, but you can't help yourself.

I went there the other evening. It was a wargames evening, I was going straight to a friend's house after work. The journey took me right past the new place. I tried to resist, but it was no use.

I entered, avoiding looking at the other guilty customers, keeping down the fear of seeing someone that I knew - how would I deal with THAT?

I looked at what was on offer. Large? Small? Exotic? Should I really give in and have more than one?

Eventually I made my choice - I will spare you the details.

But maybe it was the guilt? I don't know. It wasn't as good as I had expected it to be. There seemed to be something missing, something that left me unfulfilled....





Has Colonel Sanders changed his recipe after all these years?

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Do you know something?

A recent commenter told me:

"You are a good man. Don't change."

My initial reaction was one of "Gee, thanks!"

But it got me thinking - about me, what sort of person I am and whether I actually like myself. I never used to like myself, and I can't remember the last time I stopped to see if things had changed. Well I did stop and think. And things have changed over the years.

I like me.
I like BEING me.
I used to wish I was more like this, less like that, but you know what? If I was, I would be someone else and not me, and I don't want to be anyone else, thank you very much.
I like me just like this.

How about you?


Easter Saturday.

The only big shop in town.

The queues to the checkouts are serpentine, and everyone wants to be somewhere else.

2 places behind us in the queue is a really obnoxious family - the parents are moaning, the kids are being rude to everyone, including the parents. The father is especially bad, even complaining that the person in between us has a basket, and there are checkouts dedicated to people with baskets... My mind is swimming with names for him and his family, none of them nice. I am starting to wonder what he will find to complain about next, and find it all rather funny.

We reach the checkout.

I start putting stuff onto the conveyer belt. Mrs RC starts to pack.

Suddenly the unthinkable happens.

The obnoxious guy starts to moan about how slowly Mrs RC is packing!

Oopsie! I am nearly bursting by now - this guy clearly knows now boundaries, just like his kids.

Mrs RC stops packing. She puts down the bag. She takes a step towards him and fixes him with her killer stare. I 'm not getting involved, she can handle this guy with one hand.

Other people nearby twig what is going on and start to watch.

The guy is visibly wilting by now, looking at the floor like a naughty 3 year old.

"I can go a lot slower, you know. Shall I do that, or shall I just go back to my packing?"

Silence. Even his vile little brats don't know what to say.

We continue through the checkout with no further incident.

Why isn't shopping always this much fun?

Tuesday, 14 April 2009


So, let's compare the list of plans with what happened:

Major gardening (by my wife with as little involvement from me as possible).

Hm, got a bit more involved that I had planned - hauling concrete slabs and bags of gravel around. My calves are still complaining...

Revision for my exams.

Managed to read a couple of papers, which is great!

Trying to finish painting my Saxon and Norman soldiers - nearly there!

Got my Norman knights finished, just a few elite Saxons to finish now. Photos soon!

Going to a friends for a major GuitarHero session.

This was great fun. I actually sang for the first time on this game and did rather well! I sang Living on a Prayer (Bon Jovi), Everlong (Foo Fighters) and Rebel Yell (Billy Idol), scoring in the 90% plus range. It was on Easy so I didn't read too much into that, but the fact that my youngest found be frighteningly good DID do a lot for the old ego! If I had sucked he would have been the first to say so!

Whatever else comes up, I guess!

We had an Egg Hunt around the house! Mrs RC got up early and hid them all for us. It was quite surreal, really, doing this with the kids the size they are now, especially the two 15 year old boys (Number 1 Son and his friend who is staying with us for a couple of weeks) who are almost as tall as me now! I love that they are still kids at heart.

We had a BBQ yesterday, with a few friends around. This was my first time doing this with non-family around, so I was hoping to impress. The first batch of sausages (I always start with sausages) burst and oozed out of their skins, turning into a nasty mess - not a good sign - but after that everything went fine and soon we were all pigged out, adults sitting in the garden while the kids were indoors playing MarioCart on the Wii. A great way to end the weekend!

Hope you had at least as much fun as I did!

Thursday, 9 April 2009


Wow, that was a nice short week! Finishing at lunchtime today, back on Tuesday!

What are we doing?

  • Major gardening (by my wife with as little involvement from me as possible).
  • Revision for my exams.
  • Trying to finish painting my Saxon and Norman soldiers - nearly there!
  • Going to a friends for a major GuitarHero session.
  • Whatever else comes up, I guess!
Should be fun, anyway!

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Malta - more photos

Good bye Blighty!

We spent a day seeing the sights - from a geographical view point - rock formations, strata, etc...

...and the impact of tourism on the island...

Want to be a caveman?

Mdina from the outside.

A close up of the battlements.

You can tour the city in a carriage if you want to! Don't worry, the horses are all in amazing condition!

The main gate. Can't you just feel the history?

The top half of the co-cathedral in Mdina.

Not a clock - a calendar!

Fighting through the bamboo jungle.

The most dangerous stepping stones since Vlad the Impaler invented a new party game...

There IS a stream in there somewhere...

A strange mix of natural rock formations and dry stone walling to hold the fields in place!

One of the locals.

Given that there was an endless supply of oil drums from the old airforce bases on Malta, the locals made good use of them to fence off their fields. The government is trying to get them removed now, but a few still remain.

St Paul's Island. This is where St Paul was shipwrecked. You can just see the statue.

Part of the national garbage mountain. That is a truck on the top.

Some things cannot be escaped...

Finally, I found this on a bar wall in Malta Airport. Not a big fan of Styx, but it is a lovely guitar!

Hope you enjoyed that!
Videos to follow if I win the fight with them!

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Malta, Part 3

Let's look at who was at our hotel.

There was us.

There were a few families.

And there were a load of retired British people, mainly women, a lot of them seeming to be long stayers hiding from the winter. The hotel entertainment was aimed at this group...

One evening there was a disco. The DJ and his wife must have been well into their 70s. They were great fun. The DJ even did a Michael Jackson routine to Billy-Jean (minus crotch grabbing for some reason). Most of us ended up joining in at some point, dancing with the oldies who seemed to really enjoy the young blood - yes, even at my age I was young again.

Near the end of the evening (and near the end of another bottle of wine) "Summer of '69" came on - this is MY SONG! Before I knew it I was up and head-banging, finishing off with an Angus Young dying fly routine (spinning around in circles on the floor). Soon after that an inflatable guitar appeared from somewhere and we were all at it! Great stuff.

I think I picked up a fan or 2 that night, and found myself in long conversations with a few of the women after that - one even openly declared that she was chasing me! Well if everything goes down the pan at least I might have one last career path open to me...

Monday, 6 April 2009

Malta Part 2

We were walking along by a stream - the nearest Malta has to a river.

The stream ran along the bottom of a gully with high (10-15 feet) stone walls along either side.

We came to a part where the stream was criss-crossing the path, causing everyone to tread very carefully to avoid too much in the way of wet feet. I was at the back of the line and stopped to look around. I had an IDEA!

Leaping across the stream, I landed on the far bank and was able to walk along it, hugging the stone wall. Others started watching to see how I got on.

The team leader, a colleague of many years, told me that I was going to end up getting wetter than the rest.

Worth a gamble, I replied!

A stand of bamboo blocked my path, so I pushed and smashed my way through.

The crowd was getting excited.

I emerged from the bamboo to see the path ahead.

There wasn't one. A sheer drop straight into a wide meander of the stream. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted! Another RC short cut goes wrong!

I did dry out eventually...

Malta, Part 1

The flight out was delayed by an hour while the engineer check the plane. Hm.

Take off wasn't very nice...

But we made it!

This is in Mdina, The Silent City, once the capital of the island.

This is a fairly typical stretch of coastline - isn't that wonderful? I won't bore you with talk of limestone and blue clay...

Next we have a view across the Grand Harbour at Valletta - a bit of a gloomy day, unfortunately, but it was wonderfully atmospheric there. There was some sort of fextival going on with people in uniforms and grand brass bands playing!

A typical Maltese landscape - terraced fields (often abandoned these days), dry stone walls, stunted trees, the odd cactus...

Finally, I found an amazing confectioners just outside Mdina. This was the most amazing lunch EVER! Don't even think calories....

More soon. Need to sort the video clips, which have managed to save themselves into one huge file instead of lots of little ones!



I made it back!

The Hotel only had a very slow connection and hated Blogger....

Had a great time, except for the day I was ill, but more on that later....

Photos and videos to follow soon....

Missed you all!