Friday, 19 December 2014

I'm out a here!

Last day of work before Christmas for me!  Back on the 5th of January!

Ooooh yeah!

Don't hate me for that, I have worked my butt of this term and totally deserve it!  Not that you don't, of course, I am sure that you deserve a good break just as much as I do?

So, Number One Son is home from Uni, the decorations are up thanks to Mrs RC and our daughter who, not having school or college to worry about has had time to help out a lot.  But Mrs RC has taken on the brunt of the work, so I am hoping to take some of the strain once I finish work.

The dogs are getting in the swing of it all - they keep nosing the presents that are under the tree, but are good enough to stop there.  At the moment, anyway...

I think our Christmas will be fairly quiet when we get there.  My mum will be spending the day with us, which will be nice.  She will be bringing Spot with her, who enjoys a visit to his old stomping ground.  He used to be my dad's dog, and we used to walk him with ours.  Here he is having a cuddle with my mum.


He has put on a bit of weight (not too much) since moving in with her, but they are both loving living together.  They are very good for each other, Spot keeping my mum active since she lost Humphrey the pony.

I am not sure how much online time I will have for the next however long - I will try to keep tabs on my favourite bloggers out there, so you are more likely to get stupid comments on your blog than you are to see stupid posts here, but who really knows?  I intend to get in some writing time on my book, play a few games (watch out for photos of my Star Wars games!), drink a few beers (this probably combining with the other activities mentioned), so I think this break will be a good one.

Have a great Christmas, everyone!

Friday, 12 December 2014

I gave in...

Last night we had our Christmas Pub Quiz.  It was a busy event, the pub was jammed solid and a good time was had by all.

We do our questions with the intention of making it a light hearted affair.  For example, one round was photos of famous and infamous people with Santa heads superimposed on them.  The questions are printed onto sheets so each team can gather round and discuss them.  This is much better than trying to ask each question verbally...  Things are pitched so that by the start of the 4th and last round, most teams are in with a shot at victory - I don't really enjoy them when the gap gets too wide and half of the teams give up trying after a couple of rounds.

So, a fun evening and a few beers later, I headed home on my bike. The road was amazingly clear, so I cranked up the music and made good time.

But it was still very late by the time I hit the sack.  Can't remember the last time I saw 1am!

Then there was this morning.  I drifted awake to the sound of high winds and rain.

My body just did not want to know.  It wanted to stay in bed for the day.

But I got up anyway, sorted the bird table, fed the rabbits and fish.

Then, instead of getting my bike out, I caught the bus.

It doesn't happen often. 

I hate the bus.

It makes me feel sick.

And it took over an hour to get me to Canterbury. 

My normal cycle time is 40 minutes.  Might have been more than 40 minutes this morning, of course, with the wind, but the journey was still long.  On the bright side, I did write a few more pages of my book as I sat there as the bus chugged along, so all was not lost.  It was strange to sit on the bus with the wind and rain out side and write about bathing in the warm sea on a hot summer's night in the Mediterranean.  I wanna to back!  I need a week or two to top up my research for my book!

Not too much to ask, is it?

Monday, 8 December 2014

The Town Tree

You might remember that, a couple of years ago, my town made the national news.

We had the worst Christmas Tree in Britain!

A few locals, myself included, tried to make it look better, but it was a lost cause really...


This one was replaced one night, by a Special Forces team, but as they failed to put the public's decorations on the new tree this was not a success either.

Last year, we were promised a massively expensive tree, which I don't think was much better than the Charlie Brown tree above.


OK, it was a BIT better, but this pic really did catch its good side.  It certainly failed to live up to the hype, IMO...

So, what have we got this year?


Smaller than last year's tree, but nice proportions, and multi-coloured lights!  I think it is rather nice!  Hopefully I will catch it after dark soon, so we can really see how good it is.

Anyway, we have failed to make national news this year, we can hold our heads high again!



Friday, 5 December 2014

Friday?

So just where did the week go?

Or is that the right way to put it?

This has seemed to be an endless week, with the weekend crawling towards me, often seeming to shuffle in the opposite direction when I glanced away, but at the same time I have had no time to do anything.  Does that make sense?

OK, I have managed to keep up with reading and commenting on most of the blogs I follow - sincere apologies if I have failed to visit yours - but that has been about it.  Oh, I did rewrite a section of my zombie book!  There had been a part where one of the main characters was got, but as I wrote it I saved him and let a bunch of others be got instead.  But killing the others was not sitting well with me, so I saved them too.

Yeah!  Felt a lot better!

Except for the knock on effect in later scenes which had to be changed because the main character was no longer wracked with guilt about the deaths of the others!

More rewriting ensued, mournful scenes where this character was comforted and reassured became much more upbeat celebrations, motherly kisses on the head became rather more flirtatious...

Yep, I like this version a lot more.

And now the weekend has finally arrived!  Last weekend before Number One Son returns from Uni, two more before I finish work for the holidays - yep, I hate to brag (no I don't) but I finish on the 19th and don't return until the 5th!  Ooooh yeah baby!

All in all?  Life is good!

Time for a cheesy Christmas song!


Friday, 28 November 2014

Black Friday and stuff

Well I hope you Yankies all had a great Thanksgiving!  We don' t do that over here, but we are now getting Black Fridays!

Thanks, guys!

The town was insanely busy today, and all I am hearing is about how great the bargains are on the web.

As I battled my way through the city I saw the most sureal thing.  There was a trio (a girl singing and playing guitar, a guy on sax and another doing I can't remember what!) busking at a street corner.  I don't know the song they were playing, but it was amazingly serene and peaceful.  It was like they were in a little bubble, protected from the insanity around them.

For my own Thanksgiving post, I will say that all of the kids are doing great - Number One Son thriving at Uni, daughter has her job with a promotion already (doesn't even start until after Christmas!), and younger son is doing great at school - he is one of a small group that is being steered towards Oxford Uni!  I am not sure that is where he actually wants to go, but it is great that the school thinks he is up to that sort of place!

And, as things settle for us we can now focus on Christmas, which is hurtling at us at high speed.  Most presents have already been bought or at least decided upon.  But having said that, we are reigning back on the spending this year.  For example, all afternoon presents must cost £1 or less, but must be carefully chosen for the person they are being given to.  So we can't just go and buy a pile of chocolate bars and call it done!  An interesting task, I must say!  Can't wait to see what everyone buys...

Have a great weekend!  I am ready to drop, this week has been a really busy one.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

An old photo

Back in the Second World War, men who were too young, too old, or unfit for some reason, for active service were enlisted into the Home Guard.  These were intended as a first line of defence against a German invasion.  Poorly equipped, poorly trained and only serving when not at work, they were more for morale purposes than for any real defence.  In the 1960s and 70s there was a TV series about them:
 
 
 
My grandad was one of the local Home Guard guys.  He is on the left:
 
 
I am pretty sure he would have done his bit if there had been an invasion, he was not one to give in easily.  Unless he was hungry and cold.  He did not like that.  In the winter of 1940, he had a habit of going home half way through patrols for a sandwich and cup of tea.  It was a really bad winter, and as far as he was concerned the Germans were not daft enough to invade in that sort of weather, Blighty was safe.  Of course, he did not share this view with his comrades, who continued to freeze on the beach, waiting for an enemy that would never come.  It was only at my grandfather's wake that I told one of them about this - the look on his face was a picture. 

Friday, 21 November 2014

The smell of the outdoors...

Spent a couple of mornings this week out on walks with students.
 
One day was at the seaside.
 
The tiny harbour at Whitstable...
 

 
and the beach at my home town...
 

 
Yes, a shingle beach - who ever thought that was a good idea?
 
 

Then we went inland, to be greeted by this lot...

 
and these...
 
 
who left a present for me to slip over into...

 
But did I mind?  Not on a day like this!



Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Proud Parent Time!

OK here I go again...

My daughter just had her first proper interview for her first proper job.

She had already passed the filter day, and this was it.

The job involves a lot of maths and statistics, so she revised everything, practiced answering questions to her video camera and just generally prepared for it.

She was really pleased with the interview, then it was test time.  There were a number of people there, but all of the others gradually left during the test.  She was the only one there at the end of the time allowed, which we took as a good sign.

Then she rushed home to await news.

They rang.

And offered her the job!

We are so pleased for her.  Her first real interview for a real job and she nailed it!

And the real bonus?  She will be working just around the corner from me!

Ooh yeah.  Life is good.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

An evening of creativity

Just had a wonderfully creative evening, sitting at the kitchen table with Mrs RC.  We were both working on our stories, occasionally fishing for suitable words. 

I can see this becoming a regular thing this summer.  Summer?  Damn, I am really getting absorbed by my story, thinking it is now summer and not on the edge of a horrible winter!

This is where my character is right now...


Alone, armed with a poleaxe, wearing a dented WW2 German helmet and with 2 fingers missing due to being shot at by someone who thought he was a zombie.

OK, time to take the dogs for their evening stroll.

More soon!

Monday, 10 November 2014

It rained and it rained...

Starting to feel like Winnie the Pooh over here.  Every day seems to feature at least a few hours of heavy rain - it takes great skill to time expeditions so they fall inbetween the down pours.
 
Last night's dog walk...
 
 
The ground was like a swamp, but we missed the rain. much to Frou Frou's delight.
 
 
This morning's ride to work...
 
 
I slowly woke up to the sound of torrential rain outside, but as I put my bike outside the clouds blew over, revealing blue skies.  I took this photo at about the half way mark as the next bank of clouds closed in on me, but somehow they missed me!
 
As a friend of mine said on Facebook - I am a "lucky boy!"
 
 
Oh, another piece of news - Mrs RC has started writing a zombie novel.  Hers is very different to mine, but I think it will be extremely good.  Knowing how fast she works once she sets her mind to something, you can expect to see hers published before mine!
 
Have a great week!

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Monday, 3 November 2014

And finally...

the weather has returned to what it should be at this time of year.

Chilly, windy, raining.

Just in time for the week when we have two more walks in the countryside  [sigh].  We had splendid weather for the last one, but I don't think that these are going to be quite as nice.  Ah well, it IS November, what do we really expect?

The birds have been feasting especially hard on our bird tables too.  We don't get much variety of birds - starlings (which I love), sparrows, doves and wood pigeons are the main regulars, but in the last few weeks a robin has moved in too.

 
I am really pleased with this, considering I took it through the kitchen window - and he was gone half a second later.
 
But I can't help loving starlings...

 
There is something very sinister about them - they are certainly aggressive little buggers!  I fell in love with starlings when I was about 17.  I had my first proper job - at the Uni I now work at to be precise - and during my lunch break I would sit in the Cathedral grounds, eat my sandwiches and feed the birds.  Pigeons were there in vast numbers, but it was the starlings that caught my attention, darting in and out of the mass of pigeons to grab lunch before the bigger birds ate it all.
 
Sparrows do a similar thing to the starlings...

 
although we make sure the tables are well stocked (assorted seed, fat balls and meal worms) so there is not really any need for them to panic.
 
Well, it is games evening tonight, so I had better get moving! 
 
More soon!

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Sonic 2

I forced Sonic 2 to pose for a photo when we were cleaning his house out the other day.
 
 
As you can see, he was thrilled and totally worked it.
 
Other than this intrusion, he seems happy enough - eating, sleeping and pooping.  Mrs RC says she can hear him moving about at night.  I can't, but I tend to be out cold for most of the night so that doesn't mean much.
 
OK, time to start the late shift - I help run a computer session on Thursday evenings, which is fun but tends to rule out any writing.  Ah well, I can let my mind run over things to give me more to write at the weekend!
 
Bye!

Friday, 24 October 2014

Thank Crunchie it's Friday!

Been a busy week, so:



Anyway, I have been spending a lot of my evenings working on my zombie book - proofed and edited what I have typed up so far (which was very productive and allowed me to make sure that all character names are now correct and consistent - no more Grant becoming Mark becoming Gary...) and have also roughed out the rest of the story.  I had been torn between two endings, but when I thought about it more I decided that Ending A could actually be a lull before the grand finalle that is Ending B!

Oh, another thing about the book is that a blog friend and her husband have also joined the cast.  They get to dish out some America Justice, kill a few zombies and save a few people's asses.  I will be posting one of their adventures here as soon as I am ready for someone else to read it.

Have a great weekend!

Monday, 20 October 2014

Global Warming? Bring it on!

Recent weather has been wonderful - sunny with warm breezes, the weekend had temperatures pushing into the 20s.  You really can't complain!
 
This was the sky this morning as I set off for work...
 
 
A bit of a nip in the air but it soon warmed up again.
 
Sonic 2 seems to be doing very well.  He is eating dried hedgehog food that Mrs RC found in a pet shop, plus tinned dog food, plus dried mealworms, which seem to be a read treat.  We decided that he should be OK outside, so Mrs RC spent Sunday converting a rabbit hutch for him and building a small enclosure with some dirt for him to snuffle around in if he wants to.  He seems happy enough in there.
 
No photos yet - he is really quite shy, and for a few days the only evidence that he was alive was that his food was being eaten and there was poop in his box!  Add to that the fact that I forgot to take a pic while we moved him from the box to the new run, and you can see the reason for my lack of pictures.  My daughter did catch a bit of video on her new video camera, but that is all.
 
But sticking with the hedgehog theme...


 
Custard is only interested in his cuddly hedgehog.  Frou Frou, on the other hand, is fascinated by it and wants to get up close and personal, spending a lot of yesterday evening staring into the hedgehog's run waiting for movement.  Apparently he did come out at some point and paid her no attention, poor Frou!

Friday, 17 October 2014

Friday: Guess who is 4 today!

 
 
 
Yes, it is our little cutie, Frou Frou!
Where has the time gone?
Sing Happy Birthday to her, please!

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Thursday

Woke up to the sound of torrential rain.

Yes, first day with my bike and it was chucking it down outside.

Fed the birds, rabbits and fish - got very wet just doing this.  From the rain, not falling into the pond...

There, headed off one daft comment already!

Anyway, I was just about to wheel out the bike when the rain stopped.  Just like that!  The clouds had passed over, leaving just a bright blue sky!

About to get the bike out again when the phone rang.  A neighbour had found a young hedgehog in her front garden, and everything was trying to kill it - could we look after it?

Softies that we are, I was soon there to collect the little guy.  He was a lot bigger than Sonic (the one we found a few weels ago) which is promising.  Got him home and put him in a cat carrier with some wood shavings and hay.  After I headed for work, Mrs RC gave him some water and dog food, and he seems to have had a real feast.  Hopefully we will have more luck with Sonic 2!

My daughter had an interview today, but in the event it was only a pre-interview filtering session.  When people are out of work and being paid benefits by the government they are pressured to apply for at least one job every day.  The result of this is that people end up applying for jobs that they are totally unsuited for, just to keep the people in the Job Centre happy.  This meant that this job was totally swamped with people who had no chance of being accepted.  Our daughter made the cut, though, was told whe was perfect for the job and is now through to the proper interviews.  Fingers crossed again, please!

Finally, I had a brain storm in the bank - went to do some transactions in the machine (there are no desk staff any more, just a row of machines) and made the mistake of THINKING about my pin number.  Suddenly my 2 pin numbers were jumbled together and I had no idea what the real number was.  Gah, I felt so dumb!  It was only after locking my card that I remembered what the real number was.  Oh well, the rest of the day has been good!

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Wednesday

The bike is fixed!

Leaving work early to collect it!

Woo hoo!

That is it for today!

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Tuesday

Yeah, another post!

Sitting on the living room floor while I type.  Not working on the book tonight, but as the bike is still in the repair shop so I got a bunch of stuff done on the bus anyway.

Yes, the bike is awaiting more spares.  Seems the last guy used the wrong parts when he replaced the bracket for the peddle crank.  Not impressed, but still a happy bunny overall.

Talking of happy, I am so glad I stopped the vitamins.  I feel completely different, my normal self again.  Thank God for that!  The pills were for over 50s, but to me they were just bad news.  For the first time I actually FELT over 50!  Now I am back to being 19 again. 

Oooooh Yeah! [Said in a you know who voice.]

OK, better go, Frou Frou thinks it is time for the night time walk.

See you soon!

Monday, 13 October 2014

Monday

So, what is happening?

I have spent a good deal of time working on my zombie story again.  All of my rough notes have been typed up and I am dow doing a rewrite before carrying on with the story.  It is all coming together nicely - the character names are now consistent for a start!  Some of them started off as real people with their real names, but switched to new, fictitious names along the way.  This has now been sorted out.  Some other parts have been tightened up, a section moved into a more logical part of the sequence, etc.  I am liking it a lot, to be honest!  More work tonight, as Dungeons and Dragons is cancelled.

Our daughter has got an interview for a job as an office junior at the college she was studying at!  This is great news, at least they are interested enough to want to meet her.  We are hoping that she gets it as it ticks a lot of boxes for her.  Fingers crossed, please everyone!  :-)

I have had a bit of a saga with my bikes lately.  Back in September I realised that my main bike needed work on its gears and chain.  Last time around this cost a lot of money to sort out and I wanted to think through the options.  Fix it?  Get a new one?  Ride my spare bike for a while?

I rode my spare for a couple of weeks (after buying new tyres for it) and all seemed OK for the time being.

Then it all went wrong.

One of the gear cogs snapped.  Yes, it just snapped and fell off!  My first thought was that someone had taken a spanner to my bike and stolen it!  But a guy in the bike shot told me that it does happen, so I accepted his less paranoid explanation.

So, what to do now?  The spare bike was now in the same position as the main bike, so I decided to look around and see what people would charge to do the work.  Mrs RC suggested that I try the big spares shop near where we live.  I have always thought of them as a car spares shop that also sells a few bikes, but sure enough they do bike repairs too.  The guy looked at the bike, listed the new parts it needed (at one point muttering "ooh this is a very posh one, might be expensive") and added on a labour charge. 

I braced myself for the price.

£80.

Yep.  About half the price of the last time it was fixed!

I am a happy bunny!

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Cold Turkey

On my second day without the vitamins and already feeling a whole lot better.  I won't totally blame the pills, it could have been other things getting to me, and you can never underestimate the effect of thinking "I am sick of feeling like this and I am gonna change it!"

Anyway, our daughter has now finished at college and is busy hunting for work.  Lots of applications going out, little coming back.  To help pass the time and also get some experience of shop work, she is now doing a day a week in a charity shop.  On her first day she was given the job of livening up the rather dreary and uninspired window display, so she scouted out the store room and put together a halloween display.  The manager was thrilled with her work and even sent a photo of the finished window to head office!  I had hoped to get to see it, but she seems to have done such a good job that people passing by started to buy things from her display, including a mask that formed the centre of it all!  She was kind of upset by that but also kind of pleased, feeling that she had done her bit to boost trade.

OK,  lunch over, back to work!  More soon, I promise!

Monday, 6 October 2014

Return of the Slacker

 
I know, call myself a blogger...
 
Anyway, the last week has been pretty insane.  Work has been mega busy, as it always is at this time of year, with the added excitement of a departmental merger going on...
 
Our younger son has just turned 16!  As he is now a dedicated body builder, Mrs RC made a very appropriate cake...
 
 
At a glance it sometimes looks like a redesign of the Enterprise from Star Trek, don't you think?
 
The band has ground to a halt, to be started up again at "some point" - ie never, I am thinking.  I am a bit disappointed, but I have had a blast, lost my singing virginity and got the immediate urge to play in a band out of my system for a while.
 
In the meantime, this frees up some time for me to return to my zombie book, which I am determined to finish during the coming winter.  Time spent learning and writing songs will now be spent writing about my zombie fighting adventures, which have been stalled for too long.
 
Here is a question for you.  Can taking vitamin pills make you feel worse?  Over the years I have occasionally taken vitamins, but rarely felt any benefit and often seem to be worse off.  Back in the summer I decided that, given my advancing age (yes I admit that time is passing for me) I would start taking some of those vitamins that are designed for men of my age.  I immediately went down with that chesty cough that wiped me out for several days, and since then I have felt generally tired - even edging towards depression, to be honest.  I don't like it and think I might give those pills a rest to see what happens.  Any  thoughts welcome!

Monday, 29 September 2014

Will my backside ever recover?

So we took Number One Son back to Uni yesterday, for the start of his 3rd year.  This puts him half way through this programme, as in addition to giving him his Bachelor's degree at the end of this year, he then has a 4th year which gives him his Masters!  After that he intends to go for his Doctorate...

Anyway, back to the present.

We headed off at 7am (later than usual) and had a great run straight up to Lancaster.  A few road works dropped the speed limit to 50 for a while, but we just cruised through, chatting to my younger brother (the driver) all the way.  My brother is never short of chat - a body building ex-bouncer who now drives taxis as one of several jobs, he is full of hilarious stories - such as the couple who are both cheating on each other, swearing him to secrecy with large tips when he takes them to their various dates...

So we arrived to the usual crowd of greeters, found his new dorm (he is intent on living on campus for his entire time, not wanting to risk the problems that shared houses can bring) and unloaded.  We then went into town for a nice pub lunch (I had chicken and ribs) before saying our goodbyes and heading back south.

Then we hit the traffic.  At times we were stopped dead.  It took 3 hours to cover the first 100 miles.

Just as I was going to suggest hitting the services for a rest to give the traffic time to clear, everything got moving again.

For a while.

Then it stopped dead again.

We continued to chat, digging further and further as time passed ending up with some really interesting stuff that would probably never have been shared otherwise.  It was good!

So we stop-started our way down the country, dreading what would happen when we reached the notorious M25, the motorway that runs around the outside of London.  I think this is what Americans call a Beltway?  It is normally horrible.  We stopped just short of it for a break (our legs and butts were really suffering by now), and continued on our way.

But, for some reason, the traffic just seemed to vanish when we got to the M25 - I guess everyone was going INTO London instead of around it!  The last hour was plain sailing, and we arrived 8 hours after leaving the Uni.  I waddled into the house, said hello to Number One Son who was talking to Mrs RC on Skype from his drom room, and plunged into a hot bath.

My butt and legs still feel odd...

Monday, 22 September 2014

Update

Sorry to say, we lost Sonic.

Things were looking very hopeful, he was getting stronger, more interested in eating.  But then something horrible happened.  Something in one of his ears burst, releasing a mass of maggots/worms.

Mrs RC cleared them all out and treated the wound, but he was not the same after that, became lethargic and died that evening.

We are all very sad, we got very attached to Sonic while he was with us.



We are now into our last week before Number One Son goes back to Uni.  Yes, I know it is very late compared with the USA and Canada.  He has been home for months and it has been great having him around.  Going to miss him really bad this time, I know.  Going to miss his humour and his views on society and politics.  He has this way of looking at a situation (usually something that I just look at and think "Yeah, that's how things work") and saying "How did that come about?  It is just wrong and should be changed!"  He should have been around when protesting actually achieved things, and would probably have changed the world!



Having missed the last wargames tournament because I was ill, I am now liked up to play in a 1 day event at the beginning of November.  Looking at the armies I could take, I am angling towards Crusaders - a mass of God-fearing knights backed up by a rabble of fanatical peasants.  Might even include a Holy Relic to make them fight even harder.  All I will need to do is point them in the right direction before losing control of them...  Should be a blast!

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Still Here!

Yes, I know I have been rubbish - busy busy busy, getting ready for the Freshers to arrive (next week).

 Anyway, a couple of pics for you.

Seems that the Chapel team at my Uni has been replaced with life sized Lego people.


Wonder if they will end the services with Everything is Awesome!  Tempted to go just to find out!

We also have a new friend.  Meet Sonic.


He is a tiny hedgehog and we are trying to persuade him to eat.  We tried to get a Hedgehog rescue place to take him but they are only interested in injured ones.  Sonic is just incredibly young and will not survive a winter in the wild, so we will see what we can do for him.  

Wish us (and Sonic) luck!

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Chateau Rock Chef, 2014

For my birthday, my daughter bought me a small wine making kit.

I loved it.

I used to dabble in home made wine many years ago, and have thought about getting back into it on and off over the years.

So, anyway, I got it all going, and the initial fermentation has finished, and I have now been letting the sediment clear.  It is looking very nice for a kit wine.  I will be bottling it up tonight, to be set aside for a few months before tasting.  Christmas at a push, I guess!

In the future I will resuse the hardware in the kit to make more wine from the fruit, rather than the grape concentrate which was in the kit.  I will be revisiting some old favourites, such as spiced apple wine, and trying a few new ones too.  The great thing about this set up is that it only makes about 6 bottles at a time, so we won't be getting bogged down in our own private wine lake, we can just have a rolling, low level production.  If a batch is bad, no big loss!

Cheers!

Monday, 8 September 2014

A bad week...

A combination of calamitous crap piled up to make last week one that I will not remember with fondness...

It started off with me catching one of those nasty, painful coughs - the sort where you think that your lungs are tearing themselves loose when you cough.  I stayed in bed on Monday, but by Tuesday I thought I was on the mend.  The ride to work told me otherwise, and I went home at lunchtime.

I stayed at home on Wednesday and have been on the mend since then, but it has been a slow process.  If I have not totally shifted it soon I will go the see the doctor to see if I need some pills to finally kill it.

Running along side this was an issue with the band - the guy we had doing most of the singing was not really working out, so I took the role of Bad Guy and told him the bad news.  It was a shame, as he is a great guy and I did not want to upset him.  So I am not primary singer until we find someone who can REALLY sing (if that ever happens).

There has also been a running story in the British news that has dragged us back to bad times.  A family has a 5 year old boy with a brain tumour, and not being happy that they were getting the best treatment at their hospital took him to Spain while trying to arrange treatment in another European hospital.  The hospital knew of their plans all along, but at first professed ignorence and called the Police who issued an international arrest warrent for the parents, suggesting that they were religious nutters who wanted to take the boy away and pray for a cure while denying him the proper treatment.  It all became a total mess, with the hospital then making new statements which contradicted previous ones.  It was this which stirred up bad memories of when we were trying to get answers from the hospital regarding our daughter's death - repeated, contradictory statements which we were not allowed to argue with.  This was a terrible time that we have tried to put behind us, but I guess it will always be there...

With the approaching weekend and my chest still not totally better I had a hard choice to make.  I was supposed to be going to the London wargames tournament, using the Scottish army that I have been preparing on and off for over a year.  By Thursday I knew that I had to bail out - I would not be up to it and was not convinced that the other players would enjoy my sporadic coughing fits during the games.  So my Scots spent the weekend in their box, instead of causing mayhem on the battlefield.  Ah well, I will try to get a game with them soon - once this cough has gone.

So, enough self-pity - this week must be better, eh?

Friday, 29 August 2014

Me "singing"...

Well some of you asked for this...
 
This was recorded on my camera at a practice, so the sound quality is pretty rough.
 
video
 
 
There is nothing to see, the camera was just sitting on a chair...
 
I think this was during my second week standing in as a singer.  While trying not to listen to my dodgy vocals, you might be able to pick out how nice my 8 string bass guitar sounds....

Thursday, 28 August 2014

At the Beach

Mrs RC and I went for a walk on Sunday, our last chance to run away from things for a while.
 
We grabbed some fried chicken and had a picnic on the beach.  It was cloudy, giving bursts of hot summer sun from time to time.
 
While we sat, ate and chatted I noticed that the land on the other side of the estuary (where the River Thames joins the sea) was extremely visible.

 
I am convinced that there has been a subtle shift in the land, during my lifetime, that has affected this.  As a child I remember being able to see a faint hint of something on the horizon.  Later, a few bigger buildings could be seen, but now look at it!  OK you are probably dreadfully underwhelmed by this, but it is a big thing for me and this is my blog, so please show how impressed you are in the comments section!  :-)
 
No?
 
OK, I accept that wise decision.
 
Last night I took a long route home.  The weather was nice and I had to call on the guitarist in my band to collect copies of his recordings of the band and to get a new, shiny metal control panel for my slowly developing Flying V bass.
 
The route home took me through where we used to live, which was a strange experience - haven't been back there for about 9 years.  A lot has changed and a lot is still very familiar.  I felt oddly like a tourist, to be honest!
 
On the way back along the beach, I noticed that a lovely sunset was developing and had to stop several times to take pictures.  I have been experimenting with the exposure time on my camera and like the results


 


 
NOW tell me you are not impressed!


Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Oh dear...

My younger brother just nominated me for the Ice Bucket Challenge.

I will be doing it at the weekend and will post my video here as well as on Facebook.

Hope the weekend is nice and warm...

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

They think it's all over...

and I agree...

My holiday time is over - nearly a month - and I am now back at it again.  No more days of waking up and wondering what to do with the day, no more drifting into consciousness, going for a slow stroll with the dogs, grazing for breakfast, etc.

No.

Summer has gone, and work has returned.  Life can be so cruel  :-)

But at least today's weather has not got me thinking that I could be sitting in the garden, sipping beer, chatting to Mrs RC and painting toy soldiers.  No, from just before I got to work it has been raining more or less constantly.  Sometimes as a fine drizzle, sometimes like it is suggesting that we all build big boats and start loading up the wildlife, but it has not stopped as far as I can see.

Just wondering if it will stop before hometime....



Funny how much confidence affects what we are able to do, isn't it?  Doubt yourself for a second and you are likely to fail.  Is this why there are so many over-confident idiots in positions of power?  I point to most of the UK government as an example, posh people from posh schools, most of them have never been allowed to fail at anything, and are now failing to notice that what they think is good for the country is appallingly bad for a lot of the people who live here - not to mention those who are overseas and are affected by the choices they make...

Anyway, back to the point - for years I have not been able to sing.  I knew I couldn't do it and every time I tried I sounded awful.  But recently something changed in me.  It was while on the isle of Lundy, there was a lot of discussion about all sorts of stuff, and I came away feeling subtly changed.  On the island I wrote a short song and sang it to the group.  It wasn't great but I felt that it was not as bad as it used to be.  Then the singer of our band went on holiday and I stepped up to the mic to cover for him, after the guitarist had declared that he could not play and sing at the same time.  OK, I am not claiming to be Sammy Hagar, but given that I only had 3 rehearsals as singer, I don't think I was bad.  Might even have some audio later in the week for you to listen to!  And I loved doing it too!  All comes down to confidence, standing up to the mic and singing from the heart.  Confidence...

Friday, 22 August 2014

RIP Humphrey

It seemed that he was going to last for ever.

For the last 3-4 years, the vet has been hinting that the next winter would be his last, but he kept on going strong.

But over the last few months, one of his legs was clearly not right.  Arthritis had set in, and it was now clear that it was not fair to keep him for another winter.  Any other horse or pony might have been happy in a stable for the cold months, but not Humphrey who was a true out door type who would only take shelter in the worst of conditions.

So this Wednesday, the vet paid a visit and Humphrey is now at rest.



He was in his early 30s, and was on his way to slaughter when my mum rescued him in the late 1980s, so he had a charmed life really.  I am sure he is having fun again now...

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Camping (squelch)

Made it back from camping - not the sunniest or driest trip we have ever had (thanks Bertha) but it was still a great break.  One evening it was still raining when I had to cook, so I held an umbrella over the barbeque while my daughter held another one over the two of us.  Great fun!

Going to the heart of Kent, there is, of course, plenty of classic English countryside:


The rain also produced some nice rainbows... 



Lots of time was spent in the big tent, drinking cider, playing games and just having funny conversations.  It is great to have time like this away from everything, where the temptation to check your emails is not there because it is just not physically possible!  Everyone should do this from time to time.

Going to settle on the sofa and watch a movie now...

Sunday, 10 August 2014

40, 11

Yes, it is my 40-11th birthday today!

The weather is horrible, given that the remnants of Hurricane Bertha are passing over the country, but we are having a great day.

Did I ever say how amazing my family is?  Did I catch a roll of the eyes?  Hm, maybe I have  :-)

They made me the most awesome (just watched the Lego movie, so this word might be repeated a lot in the near future) meal...

 

Our daughter is now a vegan, so it was partly meaty and partly meat-free, but all of it was totally delicious.

To wash it down, they had got hold of some Cisk, a Maltese beer which is only available in Malta or (it would seem) online!


I love this stuff, and if I am careful I should have enough to last me a few weeks....

Did I ever say how great my family is?

We go camping next week - wondering how much of the hurricane will still be here for that!  Might make for an "interesting" trip!  Will post photos when we get back....

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Hi!!!!


Having a great break so far.

Here are 2 of the dogs we are looking after...

video

They aren't like this all the time - thankfully!

We did have to fortify the rabbit run a bit, as they found them a bit too interesting.

Meanwhile, the food has been great - today Number One Son tried an idea he has had regarding pizzas (using ultra-fine pasta flour instead of bread flour), with amazing results -  this will be a permanent change to our recipe.

Also, Mrs RC has been baking...


Peanut butter sponge with jelly filling.

Yep!

Peanut butter-jelly time!

Time for another slice - bye for now!


Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Summer Time....

 
Today is my last day at work for nearly a month!
 
YAY ME!!!!!!
 
I resisted the urge to split my holiday up and am having a nice big chunk of time off.  Love it!
 
I will still be blogging, though, as there will be plenty to talk about, including looking after more dogs while a friend goes on holiday!
 
Meanwhile, here is Frou Frou with one of her friends.
 

 
Yes, this cat lays on the grass and waits for our dogs to play.  Frou Frou loves it, Custard becomes very confused...
 
Hope you are having a great week!