Friday, 27 July 2012

Summer time...

Today is my last day at work for 2 weeks - YAY!  It has been a long year and I really need some down time.

Next week is a general messing around week, including some prep for camping the following week, making sure we have all of our kit in good order and getting in stocks of supplies that we can't replenish while we are away.  Mrs RC has a list, so we will be fine  :-)

Except when camping, I will try to check in while I am away - have a great summer, and keep on blogging!

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Frou Frou's View

I thought it would be fun to see the wheatfield from Frou Frou's level.

For her, this field is like one of those maize fields in horror movies!  No wonder she finds it so exciting.

Given her temperament, I wonder if she sees herself as the hunter or the hunted?  :-)

Summer is finally settling down, by the look of it and we are now thinking "camping".  We love our little camping trips and are looking forward to being able to go for longer walks with the new Custardmobile...

Finally, I think that I must appologise for the deepseated stupidity of the British.  How is it possible for someone who is in charge of displaying the appropriate national flags at the Olympics to get things SO WRONG?

"Oh, there are 2 Korean flags, which one shall I use?  Does it really matter?"

What next?

The Palastinian flag when the Israelis turn up?

Switching China and Japan?

Or Canada and the USA?

Afterall, who can really tell the difference?  :-)

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Monday, 23 July 2012

Days off

Funny how days off work, isn't it?

I am the only person who can do a lot of the stuff I do.

This has its good points - like I feel as safe in my job as anyone can feel.

It also has its downsides.

Like today.

I am taking tomorrow off - result?  I have to work twice as hard today!

I know others have the same experience...

Not complaining, though.  I have a great job.

Tomorrow, we are having a family meal out to celebrate:
  • Number One Son finishing school and being ready for Uni;
  • Our daughter finishing school and being ready for college;
  • Number Two Son completimg another year at school at the top of his class without really having to try;
  • Me finishing my degree;
  • Mrs RC surviving all this!
We are going to a great little place nearby that does an all you can eat buffet of Indian, Chinese and Thai food (with the now compulsory pizza and fries thrown in, of course).  I have been there before and it was great, so we should be in for a nice time.

Have a great week - I will play catch up on my blog list very soon...

Friday, 20 July 2012


Took this while dog walking in the rain.  OK, it ain't Tornado Alley but this is the first time I have seen anything like this!  If you look carefully you can see it going right down behind the house.

Yes, I did keep my eyes open for more for the rest of the walk...

Oliver Cromwell

This is the main gate that leads into the grounds of Canterbury Cathedral.

I think it is a splendid structure, and a fitting entrance to such a wonderful place.

Most of it is very old, but the statue of Jesus is only a few years old.  The original was removed by Oliver Cromwell.  What a guy, eh?  A military genius who enabled Parliament to win the Civil War, he then set about some brutal repression.  He is still hated by many Irish Catholics - one who I know refers to him as The Devil, and regales us with tales of rivers running red with Irish Catholic blood.

Having indulged in a bit if ethnic cleansing, he then imported a load of English Protestants to fill up the space he had created.  The unhappy situation in Northern Ireland is a direct result of this.

I guess you have to say one thing for Ollie - he knew how to make a mark on the world!

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Olympic Torch

The Olympic Torch will be passing within a few hundred yards of where I work later today.  I think I might pop out and see if I can get a few photos.  It would probably be a crime not to, really.

I have lost interest in most things to do with the Olympics in recent years - the increased commercialisation, involvement of professional sports men and women in what is still called an amateur competition, etc, have eroded my interest.

As a child I remember getting up at ridiculous times in the morning so I could watch the 1968 Mexico Olympic events live on our black and white TV.  All of the competitors were truly amateur - accountants, postmen, lumberjacks, you name it they were there doing their stuff for the love of the sport, not for lucrative sponsorship deals.  I remember wanting to be a marathon runner by the end of it!  I was truly inspired. 

For the rest of the summer I would run around "The Square" (a playing field at the end of my road), training for when I would be an Olympic runner.  OK, I was 5 years old and eventually lost heart when I realised that of all the kids who played on "The Square", I was (due to my undiagnosed dyspraxia) by far the slowest over any distance you could imagine.  Rather ironic, really.  All these years later I am probably one of the fittest!  Maybe a bit of that inspiration stuck after all?

These days my main interest is in the paralympics.  Have you seen the wheelchair basketball?  Outstanding stuff.  Can't wait.

So, watch out for a post later on today, where I will share my Olympic Torch photos.

OK, I braved the crowd and, after an eternity of waiting and trying not to get pushed backwards through a shop window, the torch arrived:

(I filmed in HD, but it seems to have been downgraded in the upload process.)

I must admit that I was quite astonished by how excited everyone got and I am glad that I took the time to go.  And the weather played along too - it was hammering down a couple of hours earlier!

Monday, 16 July 2012

The Pork...

I had a bad feeling that it wasn't going quite right.  I had allowed 8 hours for cooking, but for about the first half of that time I had real trouble maintaining a decent amount of heat.

I would blame the charcoal if I was the sort of person to blame his tools.

Eventually I felt that the heat was up where it should have been, but was it too late?

By the time people started to arrive I thought I might have pulled it off, but no, it wasn't quite there.  Another hour and it would have been great.  In the end I sliced it and then gave it another blast on the re-stoked coals, finishing the cooking but losing all of those wonderful juices in the process  :-(

It was OK, but certainly not as planned (and certainly not worth photographs).  Next time I will not have a planned time for eating - I will cook it until it is done.

But it did not ruin things - we had a nice little family party - celebrating what would have been my first daughter's 25th birthday - complete with the ritual balloon releasing which we do every year.  Wonder if this one will cause a UFO alert?

(For new readers, a couple of years ago the British government released details of UFO alerts - one of these was at a nearby airport just after one of our balloon releases.  We guessed it was the huge metallic blue dolphin that caused a blip on the radar system...)

Hope you had a great weekend!

More soon!

Sunday, 15 July 2012


Today I have been trying to make smoked pork.

This is my first attempt and I am not sure how well I am doing.

I will know in about an hour.

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Favourite Toy

Custard's favourite toy had reached the point where we were about to throw it out.

But we didn't, we repaired and washed him instead.

We kept thinking of this ad....

Have a great day!

PS Thunderstorm finally rolling in! Looks like I might live to regret wishing for this, as I will probably be riding home through it!

PPS The ad above is the 2nd add featuring this dog - here is the first:

Monday, 9 July 2012

Adapting well

We took the dogs for another walk with the dog buggy on Saturday.

Custard did very well this time and settled nicely for his ride.  Then Frou Frou decided that she was tired too:

Yep, she no messing with her - she had it all worked out right from the start!


Well, the Wimbledon Tennis Tournament is over for another year.

At least we got a Brit into the men's final this time - first time since 1938! It was a very tough match, but Federer won again.  He deserved to win in the end, and he seems like a nice enough guy so I won't complain.

One thing that did strike me, though, was how the BBC coverage ended.  As the programme ended they ran a montage of pictures and clips from the match, set to The Beatles singing "Let it be".  It was all slow motion and sad.  Made me wonder what they had ready to show if the Brit had won!  Queen singing "We are the Champions"?  Tina Turner singing "Simply the Best"?  Surely they wouldn't have run the same footage!

Friday, 6 July 2012


Official results for degrees are released today.

I have known my results for some time now (unavoidable given my job!), but it is good to know officially and to be able to tell others.

I got a 1st.

But it was not easy, fitting study around a fulltime job and family, dogs, rabbits... 


Graduation is not until January, but I will be going - Mrs RC is insisting - she wants photos of me in the cap and gown, and considering she put up with me while I wrote my dissertation I can't really deny her that.

Have a great weekend!  I intend to, even though the-

No, I will not complain about the weather!

I intend to enjoy the weekend, with it's promise of very heavy rain and thunderstorms.  I love a good thunderstorm, don't you?

Thursday, 5 July 2012


I had a nice steady day of map sorting planned for today.  But no, others had other plans for me.

A day of unplanned, intense brain activity has not done me much good.

Neither have the tar and bitumen fumes coming in through the window from a nearby flat roof which is being redone...


Today is a beautiful, sunny day - probably too hot, and the sun hurts your eyes and we weren't ready for a nice day so we are wearing too many clothes and didn't even think about sunblock!  I want to be outside, catching some rays.  I am wearing my shorts in the vague hope that at some point in my travels during the course of the day I will catch a little bit of a tan.  Not convinced it is working yet, but hey this is summer, and I will wear my shorts and expose my pasty white legs for all to see without shame!  I mean, apart from the colour my legs are pretty good for a man of my age!

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

British Summer

As others have noted, summer = road works season.

The road works that I was having to climb over last week are still there, despite the fact that they were supposed to finish on Friday.  Now, however, they have decided to make life easier for me.

I now have a little bridge to cross!


The British are famous for lots of things - Empire building, claiming victory in wars that were really won by others, bad food, queueing. (Please add more in the comments section!)   Probably the thing we are most famous for is complaining about the weather.

Too hot, too cold, too windy, too wet, too dry, too sunny...

People must really hate British tourists. 

We go to Florida and say "It's a bit hot for me."

We go to Singapore in Monsoon season and say "The rain was terrible!"  (No shit, Sherlock!)

We go to Lappland to see Santa Claus and complain about the cold!

Yesterday seemed to be a day that no one could complain about.

You didn't really notice the temperature (not hot, not cold), there was a bit of a breeze, it was not raining but there was a hint of something in the air (unless it was just the birds peeing on me), the clouds prevented the sun being too bright but they weren't so thick that the day felt totally dreary.

A day of non-weather, in fact.

Surely, no one could complain.

Guess what?

By 9.30 I had heard the first complaint of the day...

Shame that complaining about the weather is not an Olympic Sport!  No one else would get a look in, we would bet Gold, Silver and Bronze!

Hope you are enjoying the weather where you are!

PS  Happy 4th of July to my American friends.  No hard feelings!  :-)

Monday, 2 July 2012

Long weekend

On Friday evening we went to my head of department's house for a barbeque.  He does not live far from us, so we walked.  Part of the route was along a little used public footpath.  I snapped a few shots as we went:

I rather like this one, and have bitten the bullet and entered it for a competition that the Uni is running.  The theme is "Freedom", and I think that this pic fits the bill nicely.  It seems that my photography is something of a talking point in the department, someone describimg my camera as my 3rd arm!

My daughter had a busy weekend - prom party on Friday and a birthday party on Saturday, with a sleepover afterwards. Today she has a one day ice-breaker session at college, in preparation for her studies in September.  A busy girl, but she is enjoying herself.  It is so good to see my kids enjoying life - I hated being a teenager with a passion.  Funny, I hate it when I see parents trying to live life via their children (pushing them into things that they failed at themselves) but is a strange way I think I am enjoying my children's teen years in a way that makes up for how much I hated my own!

Last summer, Custard the labrador suffered quite badly from the heat - you might remember that he laid down in the woods while we were out walking and refused to move for some time.  This prompted us to buy a buggy for him.  It is like one of those trailers that you get for towing children behind a bike, but it is designed for dogs and also converts into a buggy so you can push them along too.  We have had it in the living room to get him used to going in and out of it, but on Sunday we tried it out for real, taking him for a walk into town and then loading him into it when he looked tired.

After an initial bout of over excitement, he settled down and seemed to enjoy the experience.  This is when we stopped to visit my mom.  I haven't got any other pics yet, as he gets over excited when he sees my camera...

Did someone say "nuts"?  Probably, but it is all for a good cause.  Custard has hip dysplacia and this is another part of our plan for preventing the need for surgery for as long as possible.  He is 6 and a half now and rarely shows any signs of having a problem, so it seems to be working.

Have a great week!