Monday, 31 December 2012

New Year's Eve

Well it is 5:11pm. Just got soaked walking the dogs, so now I am in my PJs and snuggling down for a quiet evening in.

Don't worry, I have a grear bottle of wine to keep me company while I paint some toy soldiers that Santa brought me.

Have a great new year, however you decide to spend it!

See you soon!

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Boxing Day

This has been the best Christmas for years.  Plenty of great food, happy family etc.  The only down side has been the rain which was meant wet dog walks.  Maybe I will rewrite White Chridtmas as Wet Christmas for next year?

I am off to play wargames tomorrow. Should be fun as it is with a bunch I have only met once before but they seem to be nice guys.  The game will be Vlad the Impaler's army against the Turks. Watch out for photos of the game soon.

Watched a great film last night - Cockneys vs Zombies.  Imagine Eastenders with Zombies.  Very funny, for example there is a scene where an old man with a walking frame is trying to run away from the slow, shambling zombies. Brilliant. It should be a classic. Just watch out for the truly authentic Eastend bad language...

Right, contemplating an early night now as I have an early start tomorrow.

Have a great day!

Monday, 24 December 2012

Happy Christmas!

I suspect that this will be my last post for a few days, so have a fantastic time.  Next year promises to be a grand year, including my graduation, 50th birthday and my Grand Tour!  I hope you will all hang around and share it with me!

Wishing you all a wonderful Christmas and a totally spiffing 2013

Rock Chef

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Friday, 21 December 2012

Still Here!

Well today is nearly over and the world is still here - I guess we get Christmas afterall! Stupid Mayans, what did they know anyway?
So, while Mrs RC and Number One Son discuss their views on the practicalities of gun control in the USA, I will grab the laptop and do a longer post than my last one.
The town Christmas Tree has got some more decorations.  A bit messy, but at least people are showing that they care. 
Very Charlie Brown, IMO!  Apparently we have been promised a REALLY REAL good tree next year...
And today was not just the day that the world was supposed to end, it was also Custard's 7th birthday!

Look at that handsome chap!  I snapped this as he waited for his birthday chews.  Bryn and Frou Frou were also treated, of course and seemed to enjoy the day too.
We are all ready for Christmas now - I am relaxing on the sofa, typing this and sipping a glass of wine.  Oooh Yeah.  I have been waiting for this! [slurp]
Oh, before I go, here are some photos of a wargame I played last night - Egyptians against Hittites, using a friend's brand new, professionally painted armies.  I was Hittites and scraped a victory, after luckily killing the Pharoah.
The Hitites storming past a pyramid.

The armies close.

Having ripped through the centre of my army, these Egyptian Chariots pick on my poor foot sloggers.  At this point I thought I had lost the game, but a lucky hit killed the Pharoah soon after this was taken and the Egyptians lost heart. Of course, in true Egyptian style they would soon be pretending that this defeat was actually a glorious victory (the Anciet Egyptians seeming to have invented "spin"...)
Have a great Christmas if I am not back for a few days!

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Shop til you drop

Then get up and carry on!

Monday, 17 December 2012

Christmas can begin!

My local train station - a typical small station, dating to the mid 1800s.  Not much has changed here over the years - the main change that I have seen is the closure of the coal siding which would have been behind me when I took this pic.

The good old "moving staircases" that to to the London Underground system.  These were always one of the highlights of a trip to London when I was a child.

Waiting for the train.

Here it is!

Euston - much newer and bigger than my local station....

Trying to work out which of the 16 platforms I need to be at...


Sunday, 16 December 2012

Big Day!

Off to meet Number One Son in London,  on his way home from Uni for Christmas. Hopefully we will then be able to focus on getting prepared! 

Wte tried to finish things off yesterday but our hearts just weren't in it, although I did finally find a copy of the classic Stephen King movie Maximum Overdrive.

Going to try again on wednesday, as tuesday is my last day at work.

Friday, 14 December 2012

A long week

But nothing a glass or 2 of wine can't fix.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Nerd Time

On and off over the last few months I have been building up a new army of toy soldiers - Ottoman Turks (around 1450AD). 
Christmas will see the arrival of the final draft of reinforcements - some cannon and some poor quality infantry whose main role was to trip up the horses of charging knights or get impaled on lances, making the enemy easier meat for the better troops behind them.
Even more nerdy, another thing I have asked Santa for is a new Star Wars space ship game!  The basic game contains an X-Wing fighter and 2 Empire TIE fighters.  More ships are available for bigger games.  Will be a great game to play with friends and beer. Could even become a drinking game!
"Argh, I'm hit!" [Glug]
Will post pics and stories over the holiday...

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Hot and Cold

The Quiz was a great success, with lots of happy students, lots of prizes given out and lots of beer sold at the bar.  Everyone was a winner, to coin a phrase!
The journey home was cold, but not as cold as the journey in this morning...

No snow, but a serious frost - there was a lot if ice on the roads - at one point I got off the bike and pushed it!  Not a popular move with the cars behind, but hey I may be a cyclist but that just makes me slightly mad, not suicidal!  I do not want to spend Christmas dead or in plaster, thank you very much!

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Ooooh Yeah!

This is the last week of term - masses of assignments are due in, which makes for a really busy week for me!  Making sure that the students all get their work completed and printed, signing it all in, sending receipts and making sure it all gets to the right person for marking...

But it is not ALL work....

Tonight we are having our Christmas Pub Quiz.  I am co-quiz master and have sorted out a couple of rounds of fun questions.  Rather than trying to enforce a "no looking up the answers on your phones" rule, we have tried to make the questions Google-proof.  One round has 2 sheets of photos and the students have to pair up the pictures.  The other has been done on the lines of "I asked 20 people this question - what was the most common answer?"  Some of the answers are great, eg someone thought that the biggest threat to the future of mankind is Zombies...

Should be a fun evening.


Most of the Christmas decorations are up.

As usual I have done the Pooh Grotto in the front porch, in memory of our daughter who was a great Pooh fan, and also a great fan of Christmas!

Setting this up always gets me in the mood for a good celebration, spending time with friends and relations. 

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Christmas is coming!

Just watched "A Christmas Story", my favourite Christmas movie. Now we are going to put up some decorations, which is going to be entertaining. This is our first time with the new sofa and it is so big it takes up the usual tree space!

Wish us luck!

Friday, 7 December 2012

My home town

I grew up in, and have returned to, a smallish (population around 35,000) town on the north coast of Kent, more or less directly north of Canterbury.
It is called Herne Bay, or to many of the locals "Hernia Bay" in honour of its large retired population.  I find it funny that many people who have moved here recently take offence at this name while those who were born and bred here use it with a certain amount of affection!
When I was a child there was a roaring tourist industry.  People flocked from London to swim in the  (cold) sea, eat ice cream and walk along our famous pier.  Even at Easter, when the weather is notorously cold, wet and windy, bus loads of elderly tourists would arrive and battle along the prom to catch the "fresh sea air". I used to wonder what the attraction was, but they seemed to thrive on the challenge of getting to the next tea shop without being swept into the sea by a huge wave.  I guess this was the wartime generation who, having survived The Blitz and D-Day, just took a bit of rough English weather in their stride.
The pier was the second longest one in Britain, and if you were too lazy to walk it you could take a small train instead.  In earlier years there had been paddle steamer trips from the end of the pier which went across the Thames Estuary to Southend, where they had the pier that was longer than ours (curse them!).  I remember the train, but not the steamers.
Since then, things have taken a down turn.  Tourists no longer pour into our town, they fly to Spain instead.  Storms and fires have battered the pier.  Currently there is no pavilion and the pier head is marooned out at sea, as the long stretch out to it having been demolished years ago.  Over the years there have been several grand plans to rebuild the pier - the latest involves the creation of a huge marina around the pier head, which would cost millions. 
Very nice, but who would really come here for that?  As indicated by our sorry Christmas Tree, the town is rundown, most shops have closed and/or moved to Canterbury and we don't even have a single hotel so even if people wanted to take a holiday here it would be impossible.  IMO, we should just accept that the Glory Days are over and Herne Bay is now no more than a fairly pleasant retirement and commuter town.  Sure I complain about the place, but every time I go somewhere else I get the feeling that , hey, maybe the old town ain't so bad after all.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

We got SNOW!

I woke to the guy on the radio telling us that snow was on the way.  I got up and checked the forecast on the web, but there was no indication of snow.  We had a bit of rain at that time, but no snow.
So I wrapped up well and set off for work.  By the time I reached the half way mark, the snow was falling.
By the time I got to work we had big flakes falling and it was settling just about everywhere.
Couldn't resist taking a shot of berries with snow on them...

It has stopped falling now - not sure if it will hang around or melt or even if we might get some more.  Will keep an eye on how it is going - might have to bail early today to avoid getting snowed in!

Tuesday, 4 December 2012


Bubble, our oldest rabbit, died yesterday.  She was, at our best guess, 9 years old which is pretty good for a rabbit.  We had a feeling that she was nearing the end, but she was active and happily eating on Sunday.  She leaves behind 2 children and 2 grandchildren.  We think we gave her a good life.
I like to cook - I think I have made that clear over the years.  I happily turn my hand to traditional English food, Italian, Chinese, Mexican, barbeque, etc and everyone seems to enjoy.
But one thing defies me.
Making porridge in the microwave....

I suspect that the problem is caused by, um, BUBBLES?

Monday, 3 December 2012


This weekend was good fun.
As I said in my last couple of posts (sort of) I have now joined the 21st century and bought an Android phone.
Not the very latest model, but it does all sorts of wonderful stuff (including letting me blog and look at Google Maps) and does not cost me more to run than my old phone.  The handset was free too!  One spooky thing is that, having linked it to my blog it now gives me access to every photo I have ever posted to my blogs!  Flicking through them was a strange experience, I can tell you!
After setting the new phone to charge, I popped into town to see how thetown Christmas Tree was.  Following the criticism of the first tree, it has now been replaced with this one.

The tree is certainly nicer than the old one, but the lights?  I have more lights in my hallway than this!  And what happened to the stuff that people had added to the old tree?  Looks like some people have made a start again, but I think it was rude of them not to transfer the other stuff from the old tree too.
We are now on the countdown to Christmas - decorations are going up next weekend, and presents are now being bought.  Number One Son will be home for Christmas too, so it will be nice to have the family back together again, and our daughter has been working really hard at college and is looking forward to a break too - just hoping they don't give her a pile of stuff to do over the holidays!
It is with a touch of sadness that we realise that, due to the kids' ages, the days of huge piles of presents are over - each of the kids only wants a single, relatively snall, yet expensive present.  Maybe we should make the pile bigger with stuff for the dogs? We had a couple of presents for each of them last year, of course, but this year they might need more.   I think we have a plan...

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Seems to work! Yippee!

Testing 123

Seeing if i can blog from my new phone.

Fingers crossed!

Papa Rock Chef

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Young Love...

A recent post by Abby reminded me of something that happened to me when I was a teenager.

I was 18, and in 3 bands.  Bass players were in sort supply.

Members of one of these bands had moved off to Uni in London, and they called me up for a gig in their student bar.  When I got there they gave me a rapid rundown on people I might bump into, most of which went in one ear and out of the other.

Drinks were bought and gear set up.

People started to arrive.

Then a girl started talking to me.  She was half Italian and certainly the most beautiful thing my teenage eyes had ever seen.

She was a guitarist, and we talked music and guitars for a while.  I showed her The Baby, my beautiful custom made bass.  She was suitably impressed.

I was in love - or at least what passes for love with 18 year old boys.

But in the back of my mind was a voice, telling me that I should remember something about this girl - she was one of the people I had been told something about...

But we talked, drank, discussed the pros and cons of split humbucker pickups...

Then another girl joined us.

The Italian beauty looked at me and introduced her.

"She is my girlfriend."

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Winter is here...

The last week or so has been very wet - wet to the extent of serious flooding and a few deaths in some parts of England.  Not nice.

But the wind seems to have changed in our parts at least - the warm wetness is giving way to colder air from the north.  The photo above is looking South over Canterbury,with the clouds being chased away by a biting cold wind.  Wondering if snow will follow any time soon.  A White Christmas would be fun!


I have a bad history with gloves.  I tend to lose one of a pair on a fairly regular basis.  My last pair had lasted relatively well.  This was probably because, after the loss of yet another glove, Mrs RC threatened to attach my new gloves to elastic and thread them through my coat sleaves.  I did not lose one from that pair - I actually WORE THEM OUT!  They were a sorry sight by the end, holed, ripped with the stuffing collecting in the finger tips making it hard to put them on properly, and begging for retirement.

So I have now retired them and bought a new pair of mittens.  Not just any old mittens, though, these are Extreme Ski Mittens that are so warm my hands are sweating by the time I finish my journey. 

They are great!  Makes me wonder why I have avoided mittens for so long.  I haven't had a pair of mittens since I was about 12 years old.  They were sheepskin and amazingly warm.  I lost one of them...

Monday, 26 November 2012

The Tree - Update

I went into town on Saturday and bought a strip of tinsel to add the the tree.  Others had already had the same idea! 
Vigilante tree docorators rule!
I posted a comment of Facebook, encouraging others to get down there and add more - maybe this really IS the Charlie Brown tree!

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Who do you look like?

I have, against my better judgement, been posting a fair number of photos of myself recently, and these have drawn a number of comments.  Two in particular told me that I had a resemblance to famous people.
Now my wife has, from time to time, compared me with Roger Daltry, the singer from The Who:
Wigsf3 went a stage further and said that I look like the love child of Roger and Eric Idle:

Not sure how that is supposed to happen but I guess anything is possible with modern science!
And how could I complain about being compared with such giants of rock and comedy?  Maybe I should try singing more often to see which one I sound like?  Maybe I should sing the words of "We won't get fooled again" to the tune of "Always look on the bright side of life"?
Terri also found me a lookalike - Judd Hirsch:

Not an actor who I could have named, to be honest, but certainly someone who seems to have been on TV as long as I can remember!  And he really does look like me!  I want a paternity test!  That guy must be worth a fortune by now!
My wife sometimes says I look like Gene Wilder:

Another genius of comedy - is there a message here that I don't look like someone who should be taken seriously?  I can live with that!  Being takes seriously has all sorts of bad side effects anyway!
Finally, my wife has also been known to compare my hair with this guy's hair:

When she does that, I know it won't be long before I am sitting in the kitchen having a hair cut.
Wigsf 's comment reminded me of the best compliment I have ever had - being told that I looked like Aragorn:
Total rubbish, but I can take it  :-)
OK, your turn now!

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

What is that noise?

There has been a lot of shouting, cheering, booing, crashing and blowing of whistles somewhere outside.

We don't know what it is, but have some theories.

They are having a game of something at the private school next door, probably with the losers being nailed to a wall somewhere.  Private schools have traditions like that.

They are having a game of football at the prison, which is also next door. Either that or they are having a riot. We have heard a lot of sirens going off this morning. Maybe it is both, with a riot breaking out after each goal.

It is the start of the zombie apocolypse.  If so, we are ready to defend the department with metal tipped ranging poles and rock hammers.  I have a few days worth of Pepsi and some snacks and left over chili to eat.  Sorted.

Meanwhile, Movember continues...

Monday, 19 November 2012

Misty Mornings

I love mist and fog.  I love the way it softens everything, lurks in hollows, swirls around at the slightest breeze and generally makes walking the dogs feel like an episode of Scooby Doo.  The dogs love it too, as the mist seems to amplify the smells. making each corner a real sniff-fest.

When I am cycling I also like the way it causes all but the most psychotic drivers to go a bit slower and drive with a little more care than usual.  It was with a little smug satisfaction that I saw that one of these had missed the road slightly this morning, and was sitting with both of his left wheels in a ditch, unable to go anywhere...

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Movember update

Still going.  Sorry for slacking this week, but it has been manic - you can tell, as I am actually wearing my glasses!
Got to go again - classes running until 7pm today...

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Let's try again...

So, they pulled the plug on that version - here is the official one:

More again soon....

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Christmas is Coming...

You know it is when they start putting stuff like this on TV...

See the next post for a new link to this video!

I love it....

Roll on Christmas!

Monday, 12 November 2012

Joining the 21st Century

I have an inbuilt distrust of new technology.

I like to wait for it to become fully tried and tested before investing my hard-earned cash, especially as it tends to mean that the price of this nolonger new technology has come down to a more sensible level.

We have only recently abandoned VHS in our house...

My phone is very old, has monophonic ringtones and does not know about touch screens, wifi or the internet.  I can play Snakes on it.

We have only just bought an LCD TV.  It is not 3D.

But the more I think about my trip to the USA and Canada, the more I feel that I need something modern to keep me in touch with the world, so I started looking at tablets.  Having had a look at what is out there, I think that the Kindle Fire does what I need.  Skype, email, Google Maps and Angry Birds.  Going to look more before I buy, but it is looking good so far.

Friday, 9 November 2012

Movember and The Steed of Iron

My Movember look is starting to take shape.  Photo as requested...
Abby wanted to see a pic of my bike for some reason - I couldn't be bothered to wash it, so here it is just after arrival at work this morning.

Nothing fancy, just a good, solid bike that gets me around.
The weekend is nearly upon us - my plans?  Nothing too strenuous - making pizzas, taking over the kitchen table for a wargame, etc.  I have just finished refurbishing my Wars of the Roses armies (Richard III, Princes in The Tower and all that) and I want to see what they all look like on the table.  I am hoping to put my camera on its mini tripod and use it to take photos of the battle as it develops, and then put them all together as an animation.  Should be fun!
Oh, and I have had an epiphany regarding my trip - OVERNIGHT TRAINS!  I think this is the secret to maximizing the use of my time, and it works really well for one of the tricky parts of the journey.  Hoping to work out a good itinery using this as my main mode of transport.
Have a great weekend!

Thursday, 8 November 2012

But I want THAT ONE!

We try to make sure that the dogs have plenty of chews and things to entertain them.
However, Bryn has a way of chewing hide chews (due to a slight shortage of back teeth) that reduces them to a pulpy, slimey consistency that the others just adore...
Bryn at work on part of a hide shoe....

Frou Frou wants it - not interested in the other sections that are scattered around the room, they just aren't slimey enough....

Custard biding his time, hoping for a chance to grab the wonderful treasure....

Frou Frou gets desperate and tries to get my sympathy....

But Bryny-din-din don't care, she just ignores them and carries on chewing.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Life is Good

We are now having my favourite kind of autumn/winter weather.
Dry, crisp cold with a wonderfully bright sun.
This is perfect for cycling, and the morning ride to work is pure joy with the new gears and stuff on my bike.
Some of the plants are still hanging in there too...
I love these little flowers.  I love them so much that, even through I still do not know what they are, I have had my last pic of one put onto my bank card.  Call it vanity, but I think it is much nicer than the standard colour that my bank uses.
I have been doing some work on my trip and I am still trying to get to grips with the sheer size of the USA and Canada - the distances are so vast compared with over here.  Time-wise, internal flights are so tempting, but I get the feeling that I will be missing out on so much if I do that.  More investigation needed, I think!

Monday, 5 November 2012

Trashy Movie

As I said, I was intending to do some trashy movie watching over the weekend, and boy, did I find a corker!

It was called something imaginative like YETI.

It was made THIS YEAR!

It was one of those amazingly cheap Canadian movies with lots of dodgy CGI.

The outdoor scenes seemed to have been filmed on 2 days.  A bright sunny day with snow on the ground and a gloomy one with no snow on the ground.  Clips from both days were mixed together mercilessly, prompting shouts of "Snow!"  and "No snow!" and "Snow again!"

Alice Cooper was in it for about 2 minutes, strutting the stage of a very small rock festival (about 30 people) before the Yeti (which was about 50 feet tall) literally kicked him off the stage.

Yep, it was just what the doctor ordered.

Friday, 2 November 2012


Phew, made it to the end of the week.

It has been a busy week, and more tiring than usual.  You see the gears on my bike have reached the end of their days and keep slipping if I apply too much pressure.  This means that I am constantly riding a couple of gears lower than I am used to, and my legs are flying around in an attempt to get up a decent speed.  Not my favourite way of riding!

Never mind, I only have to get home tonight and then take the bike to the shop in the morning and it will all be sorted for next week.  Can't wait, I need to be able to use the high gears again...

The journey home in the evening is now in complete darkness.

That is the moon shining through the trees.  I do make sure I am visible, though, having 4 red lights at the back and 2 white lights at the front....

Other than getting the bike fixed, I am planning on a very lazy weekend - a bit of toy soldier time, some guitar time, some cooking, some snuggling on the sofa watching trashy movies.  Ooooh yeah!

This week marks the half way point in my son's first term at Uni. He seems to have adapted very well - feeding himself sensibly and within his budget, keeping up with his studying, doing his washing, etc.  He is mixing with others but not partying - he is not interested in that.  He is there to study, and his idea of relaxation is to play online games for a few hours with his friends and little brother.  I can't argue with that, to be honest.

PS - Looks like I have been talked into doing Movember.  I happened to have a shave a couple of days ago, so I am starting from a slight stubble.  Will post photos of my progress...

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Not my best halloween...

In my mid to late teens I played a not of games like Dungeons and Dragons.

There was quite a group of us, with most meetings involving 10 or so of us.

That was quite some time ago, and the group has become much more spread out across the country as time has passed and many of us have not met face to face for years.  Thanks to the internet, though, some of us have been in at least vague contact .

Yesterday, however, this vague contact became much more real.

News was spreading through the group.  One of us had just died of a heart attack.

Talk about a slap in the face.

Yes, I guess I am now entering that age group where you start to get more bad news than good news regarding old friends.

My evening was spent visiting another member of the group who does not do Facebook, etc.  Eventually, as the much needed beer kicked in, we hatched a plan to get the gang back together again for another game in memory of our old friend.  We think they would have liked that.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Just a Quickie


Have lost the use of my laptop at home - Mrs RC has taken up exploring our family history online, digging into the murky depths of our family histories.  In only a few days she has discovered some interesting stuff, and destroyed a couple of family myths...

I have been trying to keep track of the storm that is hitting the eastern US and Canada.  Nasty stuff.  My prayers to out to those who are there or have loved ones there.

Frou Frou trying a new look.

Friday, 26 October 2012

Munchkin Pumpkin

A quick extra post.

Look at this wonderful little pumpkin!

How cute is that?

And as you can see, the cold weather is returning so I am now using my Life is Good mug for hot chocolate again!